Our dog Coco
A survey by Crufts reveals an interesting statistic and a social consequence that our new PM would do well to remedy. Crufts report British dogs are getting smaller; not literally but Britons are choosing smaller dogs as pets and Crufts conclude this is because of smaller house sizes and more frenetic life styles. It seems that Britain has the smallest new housing in Europe. Having seen the houses developers are building here in Oxfordshire, I am not surprised but I think it is a shocking indictment of government policy or a lack of it. Apparently, there are now no size standards for private housing so developers are squeezing families into ever-smaller homes.
I referred in an earlier blog to new houses in Bodicote. Viewers commented that there was insufficient room in the main bedroom for a bed and a wardrobe and the agents explained the third bedroom was often used as a wardrobe. I think this speaks volumes for the inadequacy of our house building programme.
As a nation, people are growing their physical possessions exponentially; many adults work from home for some days, subject to good Broadband and need working space; children need their own space for their hobbies and their friends. We hear that conversation and family meals are in decline and no wonder when there is no room for a dining table and chairs. Garages are often too small for the large sports vehicles people favour these days and, in any case, the garage often contains the freezer, bicycles, tool boxes, holiday cases, skis, discarded toys, ladders and much else for which there is no storage space in the tiny house. In the rush to build houses, we are in danger of building the rabbit hutches of tomorrow and the toll on social history is inevitable.
We ought to be proud of our status as the model for parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy but we are in danger of allowing it to fail. Sir Eric Pickles, a former local government minister, has published a report that highlights a tendency for some ethnic community leaders to apply pressure to vulnerable old and young members of their communities to vote for the choice of their community leaders. This is apparently made all the easier by the manipulation of postal votes.
I have never doubted this goes on and I have listened to compelling evidence but it is hard to secure evidence that would stand up in court. This makes Eric Pickles’ report all the more important in challenging what he describes as a PC defensive attitude from the Crown Prosecution Service, the police and local councils. I am sure this is true and these authorities need to wake up and to defend the democratic rights of their citizens.
We need to remember that the Directly Elected Mayor of Newham, Lutfur Rahman, was found to have perpetrated corrupt election practices and was disbarred from office. Such practices may still be common place in India, Pakistan and many other countries but we should be ashamed that they happened in the UK and we should support their stamping out with the most rigorous methods allowed.
I suspect I am watching too much Channel Four! It is desperately left wing and plugs the same old equality and anti-austerity messages from the Corbinistas. They keep on about immigration and seem to find interviewees who can be portrayed as mad, bad or racist or all three. The reality is that UK citizens are seeing whole local communities changing their nature fundamentally.
Mosques, shops, homes, dress styles in our streets and many other items that make people feel strangers in their own land. The question we have never resolved and that too many PC journalists are too frightened to ask is “what sort of country do we want?” Are we happy to see whole areas in our towns and cities occupied almost exclusively by people of a specific ethnicity with shops and other public building reflecting their life choices and those residents accepting the cultural norms of male primacy and female subservience that is endemic in some racial groups. Are we happy to see the burka as a dress-style?
I think these questions were partly behind the Brexit decision and I think our politicians have to be honest enough to respond to them.
When I was involved in the public sector, I got used to seeing job applications that were interminably long, verbose and lacking in basic information. When you interview someone for a job, you need to get to know them and to understand their motivations and interests. The first thing that was inevitably missing was their date of birth because this was (PC) ageist! However, one soon got used to working back from their GCSE results to have a good idea of their age. Why was age important? To know they could give us a reasonable time in the job and to ensure they would fit well into the team they were joining.
However, the process gets worse. Mrs Maria Miller, a Conservative MP I understand,wants us to start using no-name job applications. This means each applicant will appear as Xxxxxx Xxxxxx. What utter nonsense! Mrs Miller is suggesting that ladies with Moslem names will be rejected for that reason. I don’t believe it. Employers want the best person for a job but they need to feel some empathetic relationship with people applying. To consider a listing with anonymity just feels absolutely awful and too PC for words.
An employer needs to select the best person for a job and this has to include a good gender balance where there is a predominance of gender in the current area. It also needs to reflect ethnicity to try to maintain an appropriate balance but the over-riding need has to be skills to match the job specification.
Putting PC targets in the way of deciding a good appointment is just unhelpful.
I have made no secret of my support for Andrea Leadsom so my comments on Mrs May’s Cabinet need to be seen in this context:
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond Remainer A safe pair of hands
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Leaver A challenge for him
Home Secretary Amber Rudd Remainer Bloody rude in EU debate
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon Remainer Watch him
Brexit Secretary David Davies Leaver A good job for him and us
International Trade Liam Fox Leaver A good job for him and us
I have two hopes:
- That Michael Gove has a job. I would send him back to run education and to sort out “The Blob”.
- That Gisela Stuart has a job. This may be difficult, given she is a Labour MP, but I think we should find a way around that minor problem.
The row that broke out over Andrea Leadsom and motherhood reminds me that many successful journalists have an interesting approach to developing a story.
From my own experience as Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, particularly with the Oxford Mail, many journalists will work to the following established pattern:
- write the headline;
- draft the story that sits under the headline;
- conduct the interview with the sole purpose of extracting the short phrase that underpins the desired headline and story;
- sign off the story and submit.
I strongly suspect this is the approach Rachel Sylvester took with Andrea Leadsom in The Times piece. It has led to several days of shrieking headlines and may have helped the establishment push for Theresa May. I have taken David Cameron’s studied silence and abstention from voting as a silent endorsement of Theresa May as his successor. This is the same David Cameron who instructed his MPs to ignore the Eurosceptic views of their constituents and imposed same-sex marriage on a startled and unready Party membership.
Well, the Party and a majority of the country pushed back on the EU referendum and shocked the establishment with its clear decision. I have a sneaky feeling, the Party membership may well administer a second shock to their parliamentary representatives by ignoring the establishment line and electing Andrea Leadsom to be our next Prime Minister. I certainly hope so.
When I wake tomorrow morning (Saturday 9 July 2016) I will have achieved three score years and ten. I am pleased both to have reached this landmark and to have been born when I was. I am not so sure I would be comfortable to be in my school years or early work years now.
- My parents went without a lot of luxuries to send me to a private school. They thought I would thrive in a small, 5 to 18 school and I did. I was never a sportsman but I was academically talented and this was recognised and encouraged. I left school before I was 16 years old with enough O-levels as they then were to start my chosen career. Someone in my Party is now suggesting that people whose parents sent them to be privately educated should be discriminated against. Bonkers!
- I was the last generation for whom university was not de rigeur and I am glad of that. I served five years as an articled clerk with a firm of Chartered Accountants and qualified when I was 21 years old. I do not know how I would have taken to university but suspect I may not have thrived. In any case, I fear John Major and others have cheapened the process by converting polytechnics into universities. Some were up for this (Oxford Brookes) others clearly were not. I am glad I do not have the burden of student debt although this may be useful in helping students to identify the value of education and of their own degree course.
- I think we have lost our identity in a number of ways. Firstly in dress and appearance. I always thought tattoos were worn by tars and tarts and I struggle to see many middle class people sporting ghastly tattoos very visible to all. I am baffled by the desire to despoil the human body in this way.
- I am also sad to see the degeneration in dress standards. In London, in pubs and restaurants and on the streets and trains, people are generally very scruffy, particularly men. Oxfordshire is little better. I am baffled that couples can go out when she dresses fairly well while he looks as if he has come straight off of a building site.
- Which leads me on to women and a few men wearing jeans with holes in the knees. Whoever was the designer that persuaded people to pay good money for jeans that appear worn out at the knees needs to be locked up for mendacity or given a Queens Award for Industry for extorting money from people too stupid to realise they are being had.
- I will conclude with the equality and sexuality industries. The quest for equality at all costs has led us to lose some of the most important values a civilisation can hold including respect for religion. I distrust the increasing secularisation of our society because removing religion from the mainstream threatens the removal of our core beliefs and moral values.
- Which leads me on to gay marriage. I don’t have a problem with people who are gay but I have always felt sexual matters were private and I do object to having people’s sexual practices thrust up my nose. I struggle with men kissing in public; it is too many years of conditioning and a slight aversion to overt signs of intimacy between anyone in public. As for two men or two women marrying, I am sorry but this remains plain daft, given that the church’s view of marriage is for the procreation of children which is pretty challenging for two men or two women unless they invoke some form of artificial assistance.
- Finally, I hear Cameron is going to allow women to take part in hand-to-hand combat by our military. Given he imposed same sex marriage on our country, I suppose this was inevitable but it seems plain bonkers to me. Until we abolish the separation of men’s and women’s teams in cricket, football, rugby and boxing, I fail to see how women should be expected to compete equally in fighting an 18 stone aggressive Russian soldier with knife or bayonet in a future confrontation. It is bonkers.