Badgers and Goalposts – What’s going on?

According to the BBC the badger cull has not been going to plan as a result of some devious moves by the badgers.


Badger (Photo credit: Tatterdemalion!) just incase you’re not sure.

The marksmen have failed to meet their targets (gettit?) because the badgers have been moving the goalposts. I must admit I was a little puzzled by this statement. I thought the marksmen were going to shoot the badgers, so what has that to do with goalposts? Then I realised

goalposts – shoot

See any badgers?

See any badgers?

The marksmen wern’t using rifles to hit the wee fellows; they were using footballs! When the badgers wandered between the goalposts they would ‘shoot’ and kill the badger stone dead with a football. Now I don’t know how many goals our players score these days but it seems to me that’s going to take a long time.

Then, of course, the badgers, being no fools, decided to move the goalposts. Well, wouldn’t you? I certainly was not aware that badgers could move goalposts, but they have survived a long time, goals or no goals. What have the government said about it?

Wild animals I tell you!

Wild animals I tell you!

Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, complained that the badgers were ‘wild animals’. I suppose that’s true but then he should have thought of that before he started the cull. I don’t know what they are going to do now, perhaps issue the marksmen with rifles? I just hope the badgers don’t respond in kind this time.

Have the government scored an own-goal with this? Well it wouldn’t be the first time.

Edward and the Rabid Right

I was never one who thought Ed Milliband was the best choice for Labour leader. It seems I was totally wrong. The Daily Mail launched an attack on the leader of the opposition in a flanking move by making a flanking move against his dead father.

Why would they attack dead man? Well, obviously a dead man can’t fight back. It’s easier to attack the defenceless, and that’s’ the usual tactic of the right when you can’t win on the substance of the debate.

In footballing terms it’s a professional foul. The Mail seems to aspire to be the Vinnie Jones of journalism. That is a typical tactic of the rabid right; to hell with the facts, a good lie will do.

We can see the same thing elsewhere. In the USA the Republican right have shut down the government in an attempt to stop the implementation of the Obamacare bill. They think it is their patriotic duty to attack the country, the poor in particular.

If the facts don’t suit then invent new ones. Here we have a government who have consistently failed in the central plank of their mission to sort out the economy. They boldly declare that we are now seeing recovery and accuse the opposition of more borrowing while that is exactly what they are doing.

They distract the public’s attention by introducing controversial laws such as same sex marriage and attack the unemployed as the cause of our economic ills. They ignore the failings of banks and financial services whose behaviour continues to be not only counterproductive but often illegal.

Yes, ignore the rubbish coming out of Manchester this week but beware of that dead guy, he must be dangerous still.

I now look to Ed Milliband with a new sense of admiration. If the Mail is attacking him, in a cowardly way, then he must be good. I look to him to keep the country’s eyes fixed on the continuing failures of C

Bedroom Tax and All That

Lord Mayors State Coach 1

Worried about the rent? (Photo credit: Gauis Caecilius)


I’ve been puzzling over the bedroom tax or whatever the government call it. They argue that it all about fairness. It’s only fair to withdraw the benefit money for the rooms the poor in social housing don’t need. That sounds fair. They could be living in  a smaller place that is cheaper and let a larger family move in to the bigger house. Very fair – if you don’t look any closer.

Nobody has produced figures to show where these smaller houses are and they haven’t show where the overcrowded families are either. The closer you look the hollower the argument becomes. Now I thought that a government with lots of civil servants to work these things out would have all the data to hand to explain their arguments. – They don’t, perhaps because they have paid off the civil servants, perhaps because they really don’t want to look to closely at the facts.

It seems to me that they are picking on the poor, putting them out of their homes or cutting their income – because the benefit bill has to be cut – because we are in a financial fix. Why are we in a fix? I think we are in a fix because the big bankers trousered large amounts of cash in bonuses for dodgy deals that collapsed eventually. The bulk of us have our incomes restricted or cut while the rich get more money.

That might sound like a good idea – especially if you are rich. For the economy it is bad news. Most of us – especially the poorest spend the money we get. It keeps the economy going. If we have less, we spend less and businesses fail – the economy goes down. So why hit the poor? Simple: the government are not poor and the poor can do little about it. The government can blame them for the fix we are in.

At Mass yesterday we had a reading from the prophet Amos. I’ll quote it here.

Listen to this, you who trample on the needy and try to suppress the poor people of the country, you who say, “When will the New Moon be over so that we can sell our corn, and Sabbath, so that we can market our wheat?

Then by lowering the bushel, raising the shekel, by swindling and tampering with the scales we can buy up the poor for money, and the needy for a pair of sandals, and get a price even for the sweepings of the wheat.” The Lord swears it by the pride of Jacob, “Never will I forget a single thing you have done.”

The word of the Lord.

Now Amos must have been some prophet, he could see these guys coming two thousand years before or is it just that nothing has changed over all that time? The Lord will not forget and neither should we.

Remember what is being done to the poor and remember who had a part in it. You will be faced with a choice in two years and you will be responsible for calling them to account.

In Praise of League Tables

When I was a teacher I despised League Tables. I thought they distorted the curriculum and moved focus away from the needs of the children to the fetishes of the politicians. Today I have to reconsider.

I still think that school league tables are, at best, a distraction and, at worst, a disaster. A recent article in the Independent, however, has shown me that they can have real value in highlighting real problems.

This article

UK most unequal country in the West

shows us that we ar sliding down the league table of equality.  According to Geoffrey Lean and Graham Ball the gap between rich and poor in the Uk is as great as that in Nigeria. The poor in the UK have an overall better income than the poor in Nigeria but the gap is similar.

We come below Jamaca, Ghana, the Ivory Coast and are twice as bad as Sri Lanka or Ethiopia. That’s a depressing picture, but does it constitute a problem?

Well Michael Bruno of the World Bank believes that inequality hinders growth. Reducing inequality would boost growth. We have a government that claims to be trying to boost growth. They are simultaneously increasing inequality.

Now, either the government do not know what thy are doing and our growth is being restricted by incompetence or they are perfectly aware of the consequences and still plough ahead with policies that boost the rich and depress the poor.

Which do you think it is?

What the Coalition Sees Fit

I read, with considerable interest, the Daily Mail account of how Joan Edwards’ bequest to the nation was , somehow, diverted into the coffers of the two parties that form our Coalition Government.

Miss Edwards lef about half a million pounds to “whichever government is in office at the date of my death for the government in their absolute discretion to use as they may think fit.” There is no mention of a political party which is in power (in contrast with the account given by party spin doctors). The executors of the will sent the money to the coalition.

What did they consider using the money for? What did they, in their absolute discretion, do with the money, the whole of her estate? They divided it between the Tories and the Lib Dems.

Presumably miss Edwards made the will before the last election and assumed that a British Government, in their ‘absolute discretion’, would put the money to good use, for the benefit of the nation they are pledged to serve. Unfortunately, that’s not the sort of government we have in power at the present time.

Critics of the government can make all sorts of arguments about the economic policies of the government, dismal as they are, or comment on their treatment of the poor. Nothing they say can condemn this shallowexcuse for a government so completely as their own actions in this matter. What sort of people are they? This sad episode exposes exactly the self-obsessed, money grabbing, untrustworthy politicians who give the profession such a bad name.

Politics in the UK has sunk to an unfathomable low today. What are people to think of anyone in politics? A dark shadow of mistrust has been cast over the whole of Westminster by a crowd of pickpockets. What do you think the chances of retrieving the money are? I don’t give it much hope.