Here we are on Guy Fawke’s Day – it’s our day, Guido Day. It’s like Christmas Day for Christians.
The original Guido failed in his attempt to blow up the Commons, and suffered horribly in the aftermath. But his spirit lives on among MPs in a curious way.
A surprising number of them, almost as soon as they arrive in the Palace of Westminster, think of their own way to blow the place up.
Over the years, a dozen MPs have vouchsafed their ingenious plans, on conditions of strict anonymity. Now that the collection is grown to publication-length it’s too terrible to publish.
The fact is, it’s never been easier to do the thing. To blow it all up, and get away with it.
On the bright side, the destruction of the Palace would save £70 billion of Restoration and Renewal, and as national outrages can do, might even improve the Government’s poll rating.
IT’S NOT JUST THE FIVER FOR A POPPY
Spare a thought for MPs in rural areas this coming week. They are obliged by convention and their constituents to attend any number of wreath-laying ceremonies (it could be a dozen, in some parts of the country).
At each ceremony they have to lay a wreath, and one which they have bought themselves. British Legion items range from Type L (£18) to Type G (£50). The size of the wreath is carefully noted by the attendees and anything other than Type G will cause gossip.
The wreaths are not claimable on expenses (imagine the publicity) and so an MP might be £500 out of pocket, in the course of their duties. If you see an MP laying a wreath, slip a fiver into their pocket, they won’t mind.
WE’RE GOING TO NEED A BIGGER DICTIONARY
Commons clerks are the House clerisy and over the years have evolved into a different order of humanity. They joke in Latin and might even be able to give you the principal parts of subfero – a notoriously irregular verb (Guido has tested this). Their intellectual superiority however, can make them reckless.
The Public Accounts committee report into Restoration and Renewal of Parliament has this sentence:
Nugatory spending, including £140 million to install temporary fire safety system, is already evident.
Nugatory appears a further five times in the report.
In the sublunary world, we know that nugatory means trifling and is related to trivial. To describe £140 million as nugatory in this sense is catnip for those of us looking for reckless spending of an unaccountable bureaucracy.
But it was a trap. There is a second meaning of nugatory, last quoted in use in 1878 by the Oxford English Dictionary, meaning Of no force, invalid; useless, futile, of no avail, inoperative.
The clerk cited other examples of nugatory spending: up to £85 million a year caused by delays and £8 million on temporary sewerage (useless spending, of no avail).
Nonetheless, archaic meanings were surely prohibited by the previous modernising Speaker (the one we do not name). It’ll be a nice decision whether this use of nugatory is archaic or obsolete. In simpler terms, it’s definitely unwise.
WIND IS NINE TIMES CHEAPER THAN GAS – NOT.
By dint of repetition, the Left is pretty confident of having won the argument that electricity provided by wind is cheaper than gas – nine times cheaper, in fact.
They are using the current market price of gas (which is high, owing to the war in Ukraine) and comparing it to the Contracts for Difference government price for wind-farm electricity. The wind enterprises bid low so their contract is approved but they don’t have to supply electricity at that price.
That £40 per MWh is a guaranteed price, a floor price. It is not a contracted sale price. This is why renewable electricity isn’t selling at one-ninth of the gas price.
Planet-saving piety is a great brand value in these difficult times but even the most pious of renewable operators looks to their bottom line.
LAFFER-DENIERS AND NON-DOMS
Another much-repeated item in the Labour catechism over the last week or so has been that changing the tax law for non-doms to tax them on their worldwide income will raise £3 billion.
This is an excellent idea. It will provide proper evidence for the – possibly niche knowledge – of where non-doms sit on the Laffer Curve.
If Laffer-lovers are right, the higher tax arrangement will send billionaires off to live in Monaco for 180 days a year and the new law will raise nugatory revenue.
If Labour is right, we will all benefit from the laxity, stupidity and carelessness of our wealthiest residents and we’ll swipe three of their billions off them.
MORE LINGUISTIC CORRECTNESS
The UN says the world is “on course for 2.8 degrees of catastrophic warming.” Climate activists repeat this frequently and passionately and use it to tell children that they will “die of climate change”.
How have they worked this brilliant trick? What they are actually saying is that the world is on track to emit a certain amount of CO2 – and as a consequence (they believe) a particular amount of warming will result.
There is no specific evidence that links CO2 to a particular temperature rise. But they have embedded the belief in the form of words so cleverly that it is now an article of faith rather than a contestable point.
The Left manage this sort of thing so very much better than the Right.
They pulled it off with Islamaphobia (equating Koranic criticism with blasphemy) and the trope Trans Women Are Women (even legislators conflate gender with sex).
The very phrase “Follow the Science” is another example of their linguistic brilliance. There is, of course, no such thing as “the Science” there are only scientists.
The Right did have Trickledown but that has been discredited. Even though poor people have flat screen TVs the whole argument is now, in its old-fashioned, second sense, nugatory.
FUNNY ‘LUNGS OF THE WORLD’
In Parliament, Daniel Zeichner, Alex Sobel, Jim Shannon, John McNally, Matt Rodda, Rebecca Pow, Nigel Adams, Gloria Hooper, Kerry McCarthy – all have described trees in general and the Amazon rainforest in particular as “the lungs of the world.”
Many other Follow-the-Science activists say the same.
It doesn’t need a biologist to explain what lungs do.
Lungs exhale carbon dioxide and trees exhale oxygen.
Please let them continue to use the term so that we can use them in the Climate Change Bingo we play.
JUST STOP ANNOYING
The Oil protesters are out again, violating the social contract that the British have with Section 137 of the Highways Act (thou shalt not block them).
In the course of the Public Order Bill debate in the Lords last week, ex-Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe explained how it has come about that the police no longer drag road-blockers off by the hair to police cells, but offer them a varied menu with vegan options and Fairtrade coffee.
After two men had died in 2005 and 2009 at the hands of officers, the instruction went out that they should “police by consent and facilitate protest rather than confront it.”
Just let facilitate and not confront sink in.
Then, Hogan-Howe went on, there was Ziegler in which the Supreme Court legalised civil disorder. When Section 137 of the Highways Act was under consideration, it ruled, courts should take into account “how big an obstruction was caused, for how long and what else was happening around them.
“Crucially, it meant that protesting in a way that obstructs road use is not automatically a criminal offence.
“Unregistered protests create the situation where the first officers on the scene “are not public order specialists”.
Ordinary human reactions by police officers are subordinated to a complex process and procedure that only a specialist can operate. It is the modern disease.
The fact that huge traffic queues are caused by idiots sitting in the road no longer means what it means to an uneducated, procedural expert.
Will the Public Order Bill help? It makes new offences (of locking on, tunnelling, glueing etc) but critics argue existing laws could be used to enforce order.
It seems the courts, no less than the police need very specific instructions as to how to behave.
CANNING TOWN – YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU
There may come a time when the public get so irritated by police facilitating protests that they take matters into their own hands.
In Canning Town, the moral supremacy of Extinction Rebellion collapsed when a protester, wearing the characteristic Beard of Wisdom, climbed onto a tube carriage roof to instruct the commuters in climate science. A couple of Canning Town strap-hangers climbed up after him and chucked him off into the mosh pit on the platform.
The effect on Extinction Rebellion was electrifying. They halted proceedings for six months. They realised how they might be rousing public opinion against themselves.
It may be that Canning Town can come to the nation’s rescue again. If a Flying Squad of 10 people – half men, half women, all polite but firm – descended on road blockers and lifted them back onto the pavement, they would be an international viral sensation. They’d need to keep the protesters on the pavement, mind. And it might be the starting gun for a civil war, but Canning Town would win it.