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Not guilty!

Farmers today have described the suspension of the cull of Pembrokeshire’s badger population, ostensibly to combat bovine TB, as a ‘disaster for farming’, according to this report. I’m sorry but I just do not for one moment buy that. The link between bovine TB and badgers is merely accepted wisdom based on, at best, anecdotal and/or coincidental data.

But even if you refute this strange farmers’ reasoning with real evidence, or just subscribe to a different interpretation of existing-though-discrete data points, you are laughed at simply because its not the fashionable view. (Remind you of any other field of ‘settled science’?). Furthermore, even if one member of the badger-cow TB camp could spurn the hysterical anti-badgerism, that person would still, without a shadow of a doubt, advocate the boneheaded position ‘ah yes, maybe so, but better to be safe than sorry, right?’. Again, this reminds us eerily of another scientific cop out.

And sorry, but no, it isn’t ‘better to be safe than sorry’ especially in this case because it is very likely that you are, in fact, still ignorant, more vulnerable having been lulled into a false sense of security by the massive badger bloodletting, and with one more innocent native British species of wildlife pushed onto the endangered list as a consequence of pitchforks and burning torches approach to countryside and agricultural management. A lose-lose-lose scenario. And it’s pathetic. Why? Well, one South African (?) expert in the field, Martin Hancox, writes:

Accepted “Wisdom” after 35 years repetition is that badgers are the MAIN Reservoir of TB, and transmission is one-way badger to cow. The Emperor’s New Clothes, no-one apparently can “SEE” that thanks to the cattle TB crisis, the exact opposite is true: cattle are the MAIN reservoir and transmission is 99-100% cow to cow (and spillover to badgers and deer etc).

Cows give badgers TB!

The rest of his stout defence of Meles meles or Brother Brock is entertaining, quite compelling and well worth the read. Hats off must go not only to him but also to the Liberal Democrat AM, Peter Black, who has helped to halt the cull in Pembroke, and thus, quite possibly (since Pembroke was intended as some kind of trial), the rest of Wales, if not Britain. In addition, praise must go to those farmers who, while still strangely believing implicitly in the badger-bovine TB link, have the common sense and conservation-minded decency not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

You’d think it would have dawned on them why culls have failed for forty years when they have been tried wouldn’t you? Well, it hasn’t, so we’ll have to spell it out for them: IT’S NOT THE BADGERS’ FAULT, STUPID!

Not going to get through to them any time soon though, is it? It’s very sad how destructive people can be in their ignorance, but too proud to stop themselves even when the truth is right there staring them in the face. Pity.

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Mission accomplished? Hardly

I must say, I’m afraid I found Liam Fox’s explanations and justifications for the combat drawdown timetable in Afghanistan on Radio 4 this morning rather unconvincing. At one point he started to remind me of various Labour defence ministers (you can pick one) in his attempts to service the argument that the Afghan National Army will somehow be ready to take over from American and British troops in five years’ time, despite mounting evidence to the contrary (not least yesterday’s tragic rocket attack on British soldiers by an insurgent who had infiltrated the Afghan army) and continuing military reversals (I define losing territory you have just gained from the enemy because you don’t have enough men to hold it a ‘reversal’, don’t you?).

It’s not that I don’t buy what he says – in most ways, he is far more believable than his Labour predecessors, who spent most of their time lying through their teeth about helicopter numbers, among many other things – it’s that things just don’t add up given the time frame proposed and troop levels involved.

It’s been said by a lot of commentators and experts alike that the mission, the war aims, the ‘liberation not occupation’ philosophy, the ‘protecting us at home by fighting terror abroad’ ideology, even the timetable that’s been announced, are all theoretically sound apart from one, vitally important factor: for all these goals to be accomplished, our troop levels in the short term need to rise substantially; our level of engagement intensify dramatically.

Under-manning has and, it seems, always will be the British problem in Afghanistan. In order to fulfil the mission we set for ourselves, two or even three divisions of soldiers (around 30,000+ combat troops plus support) should have been committed, and now should be committed, to augment the USA’s 10. “But that would cost the country a fortune!” I hear you gasp. Well, war does cost a fortune and if you are not prepared to pay it, then you should pull the hell out immediately because there is no point in staying.

It was a fortune of our treasure that Gordon Brown was not willing to spend on our behalf to protect our armed forces, so I place the blame squarely at his door for subsequent losses, both the ones caused by a lack of equipment – strength in the air – and the ones caused by insufficient strength on the ground.

I’m now wondering, though, will the Coalition government try to fight this war on the cheap as well? If they do, then we will lose.

Dr Fox had better wake up to that reality – fast. And so had David Cameron and the Coalition he purports to lead.
200K London Superhead? Yer ‘avin a larf in’t ya?

I know, I know – if you wanted to read about how bad the BBC is, you’d make your way to the first rate “Biased BBC” blog. But I just can’t help it, mainly because every day with relentless regularity, the BBC – particularly its online news incarnation – confirms all my suspicions about it. The chief suspicion, of course – that the BBC is institutionally left wing, pro-Labour and viscerally Tory-hating – can hardly be called a ‘suspicion’ any more since so much evidence to prove this is right beyond any reasonable doubt has been forthcoming over the years. Lame BBC managerial and editorial statements to the contrary have become a joke.

You, as I often do, might be wondering to what lengths the BBC will go in pursuit of its propaganda goals. Well, today we have yet more data to show that “any” is the answer. Consider the farce of Ed Balls’ entire education strategy for the past three years, given plummeting literacy and numeracy levels and ever-dumber standards in exams. Consider, for instance, the £10Bn+ that has been frittered away over and above the £30Bn school building and refurbishment programme, now being gallantly corrected by Michael Gove.

Consider also today’s extraordinary news that a primary school head teacher has been raking in 200 large a year on the back of, we assume, some half-decent administration of a small school, the consequence of another Balls brainchild, “City Challenge”. Jackpot! At least for Mark Elms, that is, who, it seems, is some kind of hyper-teacher, a true saviour capable of healing the educationally sick and giving the word-blind sight. At least I assume that’s how good he is otherwise why is he troughing eight times more for running a primary school than a close relative of mine retired on after 35 years of highly distinguished teaching and administration in the secondary sector? No one, but no one, in the education industry is that good.

It seems the BBC’s reporter, one Hannah Richardson, disagrees. I’ll quote a bit of it, but you will need to read to whole thing to get a taste of just how extraordinarily one-sided it is – and I mean in favour, by implication, not of the teacher in question, but of the brains behind the ridiculously expensive but “prestigious” (according to Richardson – you betcha, girly! Anyone who can syphon off 200k from the government for running a primary school deserves some kind of admiration) “National Leader of Education” programme, Edward BALLS.

For this work, at his 400-pupil school, Mr Elms receives a basic salary of £82,417.This is well within the maximum head teacher pay rate of £109,000 for large inner London state schools.

The bulk of the £200,000 pay package he received last year was for the work he did on the London Challenge and City Challenge project over two years.

These schemes support schools in challenging circumstances and have been very successful in improving education in deprived areas of the country.

Well now, pardon me for complaining, but does this or any of the other half-baked comments she makes in her little piece remotely justify giving one man two hundred grand for running one school, no matter how bad it had become in a Labour-run inner city area. As I said, however, it’s important to recognise that that’s not the real purpose of this dizzyingly-spun article. The real purpose for this editorially on-message young BBC hackette is to speak out for a very expensive, and highly divisive, Labour schools policy, and therefore, by implication, up for Balls.

Gladly, if the rider at the top of the old Department for Children, Schools and Families, website dedicated to this policy from the incumbents is anything to go by, the “City Challenge” policy Ms Richardson seems to like so much, and Mark Elms obviously loves, is now as defunct and kaput as the failed government that spawned it. It goes:

A new UK Government took office on 11 May. As a result the content on this site may not reflect current Government policy.
All statutory guidance and legislation published on this site continues to reflect the current legal position unless indicated otherwise.
To view the new Department for Education website, please go to http://www.education.gov.uk

I like it! Seems Hannah Richardson was reporting on a dead policy walking, regardless of her motives for doing so.

Time she and the BBC woke up to the fact that Labour is out of office, and that their cosy world of protected political bias is no longer as safe as they might like to believe. Just as Mark Elms can expect no more ridiculous bonuses (or perhaps “bribes” would be a better word) for doing his job in a less than salubrious area of the Smoke, left wing BBC hacks, editors and managers can expect no more sanctuary in a public institution that urgently needs to be given back to the public, or go the way of the “Department for Children, Families, Schools, Pets and Wasting Money”, Ed Balls and the entire, trainwreck New Labour Government.

Do you think they get that yet? I don’t.

Rod Liddle in the Speccy has quoted a first class Charles Moore piece to help him emphasise his own refreshing and welcome disdain for the direction the BBC has been taking for the past decade or so, especially as regards its squandering of the licence fee tax on overpaid and highly over-rated “talent”. He points out that Moore illustrates the contradiction that lies at the heart of the BBC’s funding-spending model and the dishonesty in senior managers’ constant attempts to deflect our attention away from it. Liddle writes:

Charles’s diary in the last edition of the magazine put far more succinctly, and clearly, the point I was trying to get at in my blog about the BBC a few items down from this one. I talked about the BBC’s moral cross-subsidisation (which is never publicly admitted by the corporation) and how this is increasingly difficult to justify. Charles puts it better, with this exposition of what lies at the heart of the “endless contradiction” which the BBC exploits

Excellent, sure, but then he goes on to quote Moore:

“When you complain that it is funded in a privileged way, it says that it does things which no one else can do. When you complain that it spends its unique funding on enormous contracts with stars, it says it has to do so in order to behave like its rivals. The truth is that the concept of the star……….is incompatible with the Public Purposes expressed in the Charter of the BBC.”

Brilliantly put. What I know is that the corruption at the centre of the BBC, and its cause has seldom been more eloquently articulated than it is by Moore here, must be challenged and the corporation reformed, broken-up or abolished altogether.

Until then, for instance, more than a quarter of all criminal court actions will continue to be licence fee-tax related. People will continue to go to jail and/or be fined extraordinarily punitive amounts in their tens of thousands simply because, as is often the case, they cannot afford to fund the lifestyle of people like Jonathan Ross.

That is unacceptable, and this government had better do something about it in this parliament or be viewed, at least by this blogger, as a failure.

Jackie Ashley, in her piece in the Graun this morning that’s basically a 1500-word moan about why-oh-why the Labour party is imploding and so many people are ‘abusing’ the party’s record in government, describes Mandelson’s new memoirs as “bank-swelling”. I’m not sure I agree with her about that. Beyond all the MSM political hacks who must buy it (assuming they’re not given free copies), the professional bloggers (one of whom probably helped to publish it), MPs and former ministers, (who’ll all be desperate to see if they get a mention from the oily old pocket-liner) I have a sneaking suspicion that very few people will be remotely interested enough to shell out their hard-earned on such an artefact of conceit.

You see, the thing Labour people like Ashley don’t seem to grasp is that contempt for the Labour party and all its works has gone well beyond mere abuse now. Try as she and her BBC husband might to talk it up, the fact is that people have moved well on from the Labour narrative and are comfortable with the new, Tory/coalition one. So comments like this from her, let’s face it, pretty desperate piece…

Somebody needs to fight back against the hysterical torrent of abuse being poured on Labour’s economic record, which after all included a decade of good times, the rebuilding of public services, and successful action to stave off a full-scale collapse in the banking system. It may be too early: the self-righteousness of the Labour-haters now matches the self-righteousness of New Labour in its pomp. But the time will come.

…sort of pretty spectacularly miss the point. The “hysterical torrent of abuse” would not be the relevant thing even if it actually existed (it doesn’t), the outcome of the general election is, with millions of people deciding, not as “self-righteous Labour-haters” (a rather feeble example of the sneering hyperbole I’ve often heard from self-righteous Tory-haters like her), but as ordinary voters, to reject Labour and its pisspoor record. You know, in their self-righteous Tory-hating, which shields them from all conceivable criticism, I think Labour-losers still really haven’t understood the fact that they have lost the argument – comprehensively and conclusively – and that they are, consequently and with increasing shrillness, talking to themselves.

The sales of Mandelson’s new novel, the serialisation of which is safely hidden behind a Murdoch paywall, should provide a fair measurement of just how irrelevant Labour have quickly become, and just how far the country has moved on from them and their sorry tale of failure in government.

Me? I expect to see it in the bargain bins within weeks, along with Mandelson’s memoirs.

I’m oddly happy with the state of the news just now what with Mandelson coming out and scuppering the irrelevance that is the Labour leadership fiasco and that tragic Moat bloke finally doing our idiot police a favour and putting himself out of their heavily-armed misery, and the awesome Booker planting another hobnailed boot in the sweaty groin of climate change fanaticism.

The great Gove’s rearguard after his crew’s cockups and his brave resurrection of political accountability seems to be working reasonably well too. Excellent.

In other words, there’s nothing much around that’s annoying enough to talk about, so I think this a downtime moment – a time for some nice music, perhaps.

How about this: “Dream Away” by my hero, George Harrison?

I suppose we’re all “Time Bandits” really, one way or another. We all dream of reliving our past so we can correct it in whatever way from a position of knowledgable strength. That’s the ammunition known as hindsight. Sadly, of course, it’s an impotent trick of memory.

Be content you own the human gift that is regret. It keeps us little people honest – and (oddly) free 🙂

To be fair, though, it’s not just the BBC – it just reported it on its website and then followed it up with a debate on Today this morning between a silly man called Fry and some other dude who wasn’t quite so silly – it’s a bunch of extremely silly scientists who have published a very silly paper on the relationship between exercise and obesity in children. To call the scientists’ conclusions “silly”, as covered in the BBC web story is, however, to be very generous. They’re not merely silly, to my mind they’re potentially dangerous.

The researchers at the EarlyBird Diabetes Study, based at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth, has been following a group of more than 200 city school children for the past 11 years.

As part of the long-term study, they monitored body fat and exercise at regular intervals over three years.

They found no indication that doing more physical activity had any effect on weight, but they did find that children who put on weight did relatively less exercise.

And so it goes on, hedging and blurring its way to the final, soggy-wet-fish-in-the-gob conclusion – that without exercise children get fat and when they get fat they do less exercise and, because of their big tummies, crave more food. Well, duh.

How many millions of pounds was wasted on this ridiculous study just so the ultra-bleedin’ obvious could be restated, but couched in pseudo-scientific terms, complete with the thinnest of anecdotal statistical ‘links’?

But that’s not the point is it? The real point, if the the Today broadcast this morning was anything to go on, is that this just represents yet another extension of the ongoing battle between intervention and information, between the answer of the Left (to ban and order) and the libertarian Right (to inform, suggest and trust).

The BBC, in its boundless silliness, has clearly decided that Andrew Lansley’s decision to reverse the previous government’s failed policies on people eating too much and not exercising enough, and save enormous sums of money into the bargain, must be challenged – because a new study, however silly, says so; because something called the “National Obesity Forum” says so. Because the improbable Mr Fry, who wants to regulate the entire food industry and then, presumably, eating itself, says so.

In other words, because nanny (the interventionist Left) says so. If it wasn’t so pathetic it really would be silly.

Oh, by the way, if you want children to be less fat, feed them fruit, milk, bread & butter and beans on toast and let them play for as long as they want every day – which will be a lot. Oh, right, in Labour’s Britain, even play must be regulated – and the streets aren’t safe any more (we are led to believe by the generally hysterical media), so buy the little darlings an Xbox and plonk them in front of the TV out of the way…and see what happens (has happened).

Unlock your children, folks. They need the exercise!