Monday, 30 May 2011

Kings and Things

One of the big events of 2011 so far has been the wedding of Prince William, second in line to the British monarchy. It inspired a huge upwelling of popular affection for our Royal Family, that I must respect as a democrat, even if I am deeply disappointed in my compatriots as a republican. So, the opinion of the British people, and most certainly of Her Majesty's Government, is that a hereditary Head of State, to whom all mere elected officials are constitutionally answerable, is a Very Good Thing indeed.

What can have been so special about these peoples ancestors, that simply being their distant descendants is proof of fitness to rule? Just this; that the ultimate founder of every Royal House, seems to have been a charismatic soldier, able to both inspire their troops and terrify their subjects. Thus, the British monarchy bases its claim on putative descent from Alfred the Great and William the Conqueror, both of whom strongarmed their way to the English throne at the heads of bloodthirsty armies. (A team fronted by Tony Robinson spotted a glitch in the line of descent, for a TV show a few years ago, but the rightful heir they identified had renounced his peerage and settled in Australia as a common working man of republican views, and was not impressed by the news.) It therefore seems a reasonable deduction, that the establishment of monarchic dynasties by charismatic but terrifying soldiers should also be a Very Good Thing in the eyes of both the British people and their Government.

Another of 2011's big events is that when Libya's state stability suffered one of its occasional wobbles, several major Western Powers who should have known better pitched in to stave off defeat for the losing side.
The Arab region has just a clear idea of what a king should be as the West, and without the liberal traditions of post-Christian secularism to soften their thinking, generally expect and accept levels of good and bad behaviour from those who fill the role of king, that have long been relegated to children's fiction North of the Mediterranean Sea.

Muammar Ghaddafi is enough of a Twentieth Century Boy not to consider crowning himself, but he has shown all the hallmarks of a Great King in the way he has risen from his military background to put himself at the front of Libya's popular revolution and rule with a capricious mixture of genuine concern for the well-being of his subjects, savage disregard for the well-being of his enemies and sometimes wise, sometimes strange ideas for the bossing around of everybody. And he has been grooming his sons to carry on the family business.

Now, I can see how America or France could find a fig-leaf of moral principle, to dress a cynical attempt to put in a Libyan government that owes them a big favour, when it is time to sort out oil deals. But how, oh how can Her Majesty's government send Her Majesty's Forces to depose Colonel Ghaddafi for ruling in the very style Her Majesty's own authority derives from?

I must admit that I would not care to live in Ghaddafi's Libya, myself, but then I have not been raised with a head full of traditional Arab values, and I would be a sad misfit residing in any Arab country under any regime. My points are that Ghaddafi is not so bad by the values of his own civilisation, which is a neighbour of our own, not an extension of it, and that he embodies the very qualities our own nation sees as lying at its heart. Our pursuit of an unnecessary war against him is wasting resources and sacrificing lives in a grand act of arrogance and hypocrisy. His hands may be even less clean than the average long-serving statesman, but we really cannot indict him and justly leave our own aggressors, like Blair and now Cameron to go free.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

School Milk Petition

Another off-topic comment on another thread worth starting a new one with:
Anonymous said...

Hi David,

Any observations on the schools milk petition ?


26 May 2011 12:40
Blogger Ugh, It's Him! said...

Anonymous #11:

In the first place, I believe school milk is a good thing, but, in today's affluent and overfed society, a much less important good thing than it was at the time of its original introduction. I think they should have kept it, but asked parents to chip in towards the cost, but that option has never been on the table.
Regarding the petition; it is the kind of stunt that stops me regretting baling out of the JDA, and the undignified squabble between Geoff and Ted about whose petition it is diminishes both men. It is the 2,000 signatories' petition, if it is anybody's, and the front men owe it to the 2,000 to get on with presenting it, not drag it into their own quarrel.

26 May 2011 16:34

Monday, 23 May 2011

A Sporting Hero ?

Last year, I had a little grumble about the current crop of English professional football players. So, as a rest from all the scandals of Rooney and Cole and Terry and Lampard and whoever CTB may be, and so on, maybe I should give some praise to a model pro instead.

Strictly, I think he is Welsh rather than English, but Ryan Giggs has had an illustrious career in the English Premier League. He has loyally stuck with Manchester United throughout his career, too. I suppose that is easier when the only way out is down, but there are plenty of other players who have churned through United and other clubs of similar standing in pursuit of the fastest buck. He has looked after himself physically in a way that all professional sportsmen ought to but too few actually do, and remains an international grade outfield player at an age that only goalkeepers usually go on to.

What must be especially admired though, is that you never read of any scandal about him in the papers, only praise for his performances and the mighty haul of trophies those performances have brought. When our vigilantly investigative tabloids can not find any sordid tales they can print to enliven our Sundays, despite almost two decades in one of the most sleaze-ridden trades around, our hero Ryan must really be something special.

Unless, of course, he is just as bad of the rest of them, and all that is special is that he is canny enough to hire scarier lawyers than the others, so the tabloids have found sordid tales they can't print. Just a hypothetical possibility, naturally: A hero like him wouldn't really be like that, now would he?

Sunday, 22 May 2011

"Tom Gruchy" on Disorganised Progressives

"Tom Gruchy" submitted this as a comment on another thread, but it is enough of a change of subject to deserve being a thread in its own right, too.

TOM GRUCHY says...
I too seem to be falling into Deputy T. Pitman's spam box and I raised similar sentiments to your well reasoned comment from anonymous.

It's the usual tittle tattle brigade who seem to take up so much space on Pitman's blog and the endless discussion about trolls - but so little discussion of important political and social issues. Not to mention the never ending failure to form a co-ordinated and effective opposition or even a viable alternative government.

The deplorable fact is that there are already more than enough so called "progressives" in the States to run rings around the likes of Le Sueur & Co if only they were prepared to bury their own egos for a few months. Preferably the few months left before Jersey's first ever General Election.

The history of "progressive representation" in Jersey really is a disgrce. The electorate can hardly be blamed - they have returned so called "progressives" to the States since Norman Le Brocq broke the mould - by the bus-load. But always the electorate has been let down.

Just do some counting and consider the likes of Joan Du Feu, Jimmy Johns, Jerry Dorey, Stuart Syvret, Imogen Nichols, Wendy Kinnard, Ted Vibert- but where is their political legacy now? They did not get elected solely through self effort - they were supported by groups of people who raised funds, leafleted, campaigned etc etc without any public recognition or reward. Why did they bother?

Soon, the usual solo prima donnas will be touting for support in the October beauty parade - but how many "progressives" do we need? If we had 27 in the States would they still be fighting amongst themselves and refusing to present agreed policies that have been agreed by the public?

As the "apathetic" public say - what is the point in voting for these people if they fail to deliver. Blame the system, blame the weather, blame whatever you want - but at the end of the day sometime in October - what is the point in voting?

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Big Trev's New Website

My old JDA friend and colleague, Deputy Trevor Pitman now has his new personal website up and running at in addition to a linked blog at

Go visit!!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Human Resources Are Too Precious To Scrap Before Time

The recent announcement, that the States intend to make most people wait a little longer to become Old Age Pensioners, is a necessary consequence of the way that most people are getting old more slowly in this time of unprecedentedly good public health. More years of pension being drawn must need either higher deductions or a longer period of them, if not both, to remain affordable.

However, I hope that they are going to join up the thinking on this. There are a lot of employers who follow good practice in allowing the willing to work on past their official retirement age. Sadly, there also plenty more with no shame in taking an “ageist” approach to their human resources management. There would be benefits both to the individuals concerned and to Jersey as a society and economy, if there were to be legal constraints placed on employers' freedom to put their workers on the street just for exceeding an arbitrary number of birthdays. Unless they couple the change with a move to outlaw compulsory retirement of employees before state pension age, they are going to accumulate a pile of very mature unemployed, too old to appeal to most “Human Resources” or Personnel Managers, who are just drawing Income Support instead of Old Age Pension, and still putting no more into the pot. The need is for people to work for longer, not merely wait for their pensions for longer.

For those whose circumstances permit it, it is a fine thing to be able to devote one's life to leisure and, maybe, voluntary work before one has grown too frail. On the other hand, there are many more who can still work, when they reach nominal retirement age, and would rather continue to earn a real wage than struggle on a pension.

For individuals, the fall in income spells at best a sharp reduction in their standard of living, and quite possibly real hardship, especially for those whose employers can currently insist on retiring them before States Pension age.

For Jersey as a whole, maximising the years of work from each person helps to address two perennial problems. Firstly, to fill the job that has been vacated, another worker must be found, and that person may have to be imported, aggravating the overpopulation: Keeping people as economically active instead of replacing them as employees and adding them to the pension burden makes economic sense. Secondly, Social Security and Pension funding has long been difficult.

A parallel change to ending compulsory retirement, in which the many who have not spent their entire working life in Jersey could continue to pay contributions to add to their credits beyond their eligible retirement date, instead of claiming the pension, would both help the fund's income, and improve the lot of the workers, when they do decide that they are ready to retire.

Perhaps the “establishment” and “anti-establishment” groupings in the States could take a break from the point-scoring and get together on this matter, as something where they could make a positive difference for many islanders, for once.