Why this Blog?

A place where I can lament the changing times; for eccentric comments on current affairs and for unfashionable views, expressed I hope, in cogent style; also occasional cris de coeur largely concerned, I regret to say, with myself.


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Sunday 29 December 2013

Thank God That's Nearly Over

By that I mean of course, 2013.

It has been customary for me for many years (with one recent outstanding exception) to say something along the lines of "thank God that's over and let's hope for better things in the year to come."

No more.  The hell with 2013 and the hell with 2014 and so on.

Here then are my end-of-year thoughts.
With the passing of time and inevitably aware of the aging process, I find myself becoming increasingly misanthropic and with regard to the current “Age of the Common Man,” increasingly disgusted.
I have recently been reading about the state of politics and governance in England in the latter part of the 18th century. This was a time of quite extraordinary corruption by any standards, some of it motivated by the late King George III, a somewhat misguided monarch who imagined that he could rule in the manner of his predecessors two centuries before his time.  To this end he declared himself opposed to political parties; of course it must be remembered that the convention of having a parliament composed of two parties (well let us say two and a half to be generous) became the norm (again) later in the king’s reign. Large sinecures were provided to co-operative persons; some of these it must be said carried – at least in their titles - a degree of period charm.  “The Early Life of Charles James Fox” written by the Rt Hon. Sir George Otto Trevelyan Bt, includes the following splendid example:

“George Selwyn, who returned two members, and had something to say in the election of a third, was at one and the same time Surveyor-General of Crown Lands which he never surveyed; Registrar in Chancery at Barbados, which he never visited; and Surveyor of the Meltings and Clerk of the Irons at the Mint where he showed himself once a week in order to eat a dinner which he ordered but for which the nation paid.”  

There are references to others who were receiving sums of the order of £8000 p.a. (at 1770 values remember!) for doing nothing except perhaps taking the King’s side on parliamentary votes. 
All "right-minded" modern democrats – at least those who are perhaps less well informed than they should be – will be quick to express horror at such abuses.  These people would do well to read Private Eye, where each issue invariably contains appalling tales of government waste on a staggering scale, with billions poured down the drain on useless IT schemes (one thinks e.g. of the NHS) and even larger sums wasted in "educating" hordes of chavs, communists  and religious fundamentalists; golden handshakes to BBC officials, parliamentary expenses, corrupt local officials, legions of so-called management consultants etc. In sum, the incompetence is breath-taking and modern people can only show great naïveté criticising the leaders in the 18th century, who at least presided over Britain’s progress and advance in the world.
Charles James Fox, a brilliant man, a hopeless gambler and it is said a debaucher too, was one of the few who did their best to stand up to the corruption (William Pitt, Earl of Chatham was another).  But there were others: one Murray was offered a pension of £6000 if he would remain in the House of Commons, where he already received £7000 as Attorney-General, with a Tellership (worth the same) for his nephew.  He responded: “Good God! What merit have I that you should load this country, for which so little is done with spirit, with a fresh burden of six thousand a year?”  And then there were the extraordinary John Wilkes and the outstanding Edmund Burke. 
Given the individuals to whom I seem to have chosen to give mysupport, a casual reader might feel obliged to conclude that I am a Whig.  If one accepts that the Whigs claimed to be the champions of individual liberty (to a lesser or greater extent it must be said) that casual reader would be quite correct, though I am only a Whig up to a point – say 1867!  Unfortunately I am entirely unable to offer my devotion to a single point of policy of the Whigs’ alleged successors, the Liberal Party.  The current incarnation styled “The Liberal Democrats” to be more interested in ordering us about rather as the post-war Labour party of Attlee did, or in fact as does any modern party to be found anywhere in western Europe.  I will state however that the theocracies (e.g. Iran, Saudi-Arabia) are of course infinitely worse, as are the dictatorships – Russia, China, North Korea and so on.
In modern so-called democratic times it is standard practice to condemn the oligarchy (mostly the aristocracy) that ran the country in the 18th century. Fie I say!
Successive interfering reformers have destroyed the aristocracy with their shameful death duties – an outrage in my view (tax income by all means but taxing capital is the road to perdition) and replaced it with what?  The likes of Fred Goodwin, Len McCluskey, Lord Mandleson, Tony Blair, Goldman Sachs, Lloyd’s Bank, Arthur Scargill, George Galloway, Alistair Campbell, the useless Lord Pearson who destroyed Marconi, dubious hedge funds and their managers, and innumerable other freeloaders and hangers-on.
At least the aristocracy (most of them anyway) had style and class. 
Blair these days appears to be almost universally loathed by left and right alike.  I loathe him for his outrageous dishonesty, his ghastly creepy oleaginous personality and for the fact that it was under his appalling leadership that the following occurred:
  • Destruction of the House of Lords
  • Banning of fox-hunting (described as “Hunting with dogs” by his plebeian party supporters)
  • The smoking ban – fascism in action, which has destroyed many livelihoods
  • The appalling fraud and lies given out in order to prosecute the Iraq war
There was of course much more; and unlike the others I have listed, he was prime minister – for ten years at that…  Democracy?  Wonderful stuff.
These days I feel that I should like to restore matters to the time just following the second reform act of 1867.
And yes I love being out of fashion and out of my time.  The hell with them all: long live the aristocratic principle and to hell with 2014.

Until the next time

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