Monthly Archives: May 2024

  • Conservatives’ National Service proposal – social media responds

    Yesterday’s duff election idea from the soon-to-be-annihilated Conservative Party was the reintroduction of mandatory national service, otherwise known in more plain-speaking parts of the world as military service or conscription.

    Your ‘umble scribe remembers older people during his 1960s childhood advocating the return of conscription as a panacea to cure all the evils that emerged during the 1960s like social progress (e.g. the abolition of the death penalty, the decriminalisation of homosexuality, legalisation of abortion, etc.), youth culture, colourful clothes, the consumption of drugs other than alcohol and tobacco, contraception, sexual promiscuity and everything else they didn’t like about the time.

    Needless to say, the Conservatives’ idea to revive conscription has been widely ridiculed on social media.

    First out of the blocks, a lovely post parodying not just the idea itself, but Britain’s misplaced and chauvinistic idea of its own greatness, when in reality thanks to Brexit, it’s a small island off the west coast of Europe that has shut itself off from closer ties with its neighbours.

    Advert reads Army - Be the best. Caption reads The Tory National Service plan.

    Also featuring on social media posts was ridicule of the Conservative Party itself, particularly its more unpleasant members such as the dishonourable member for Stoke-on-Trent North, one Jonathan Edward Gullis (majority 6,286). In a previous life Gullis was a schoolteacher.

    Post reads  Dear Rishi, this is Johns mum.
He cant do National Services as hes two busy doing MPing and has a sore tummy. Love Johns mum xxx

    Whether the poor spelling and punctuation are deliberate is unknown.

    A different line of attack was taken by those who are critical of the Tories seeing everything as an opportunity to make money such as the grasping ‘Baroness’ Michelle Georgina Mone, who during the Covid-19 pandemic succeeded in selling the British government £200m of useless PPE via her husband’s newly-established PPE Medpro company.

    Photograph of Michelle Mone below the words Hi Rishi. It's Michelle from Mone Military Uniforms.

    Meanwhile in the offline world, Former chief of the naval staff, Admiral Alan West, has described the plan as “bonkers” and added it would deplete the defence budget.

  • General election – the trolling begins

    Yesterday the unelected prime minister of the Untied Kingdom, one Rishi Sunak, standing at a lectern in the pouring rain in Downing Street, announced to the assembled media sheltering under umbrellas and tarpaulins that a general election would be held on 4th July, an historic date given that in 1776, England’s north American colonies unanimously declared their desire to secede.

    To many Mr. Sunak’s announcement was utterly bizarre. It was poorly managed, badly staged and had the unmistakable feel of an impetuous last minute decision, never mind the fact that the alleged prime minister was almost drowned out by Steve ‘Mr Stop Brexit’ Bray playing D:Ream’s Things Can Only Gert Better on a portable sound system in Whitehall.

    The Guardian’s political sketch writer John Crace had lots of fun with Sunak’s soggy discomfiture, with his latest piece, entitled ‘ Cringing in the rain: soggy Rish! kickstarts his farewell tour‘.

    However, it was not just professional journalists like Mr Crace who were having fun at Fishy Rishi’s expense yesterday. There was plenty of response to the unexpected news on social media too.

    One stand-out contribution to this came from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), which posted a very barbed comment at Mr Sunak and his Conservative Party which has been notoriously anti-trade union since the inception of the organised labour movement, mischievously recommending that Mr Sunak should join a union if he was being mistreated at work.

    Forced to work in the rain unnecessarily? Join a union.

    In addition, the X/Twitter account allegedly run by Larry, the Downing Street cat (also known as the Chief Mouser to the Treasury. Ed.), also joined in the fun, giving full rein to the belief that cats are allergic to rain.

    Lots of people asking me where I was when Sunak announced the election. I was inside, because it was raining. Only an idiot would have gone out in that... #GeneralElection

    It has noted by some that the timing of Sunak’s announcement is rather curious. Was it really timed to knock the Post Office Horizon public inquiry and the contaminated blood scandal off newspaper front pages?

    Have your say in the comments below.

    No doubt lots more banter and trolling will be forthcoming over the next weeks…

  • Blakey’s discourteous successors

    Cyril 'Blakey' Blake played by actor Stephen LewisFrom 1969 to 1973, ITV aired a comedy entitled On The Buses. One of the main characters in this mixture of sexism and misogyny that passed for humour at the time was Cyril ‘Blakey’ Blake (right) played by actor Stephen Lewis. One of the duties of inspectors in those days was to check passengers were travelling with valid tickets.

    Skip forward half a century and inspectors have been replaced by so-called Revenue Protection Officers, by FirstWorstBus, which along with its fellow WorstGroup subsidiary GWR, has a virtual public transport monopoly in the Greater Bristol area. GWR also employs Revenue Protection Officers.

    Your ‘umble scribe had the misfortune to encounter two of these successors to Blakey yesterday afternoon, when they board a no. 24 service on the Stapleton Road. Dressed like pound shop police officers but with the words Revenue Protection Officers embroidered on the back of their uniform, the larger of the two proceeded to address the bottom deck of the bus: “Hi guys. Please have your tickets and passes ready for inspection”.

    Guys? Neither we the travelling public nor you are American! Besides that, guys in this country normally end up on bonfires every 5th November or thereabouts.

    That was informality bordering on the discourteous, which got your correspondent thinking of a more courteous and appropriate form of address, after a long discussion with others on social media yesterday and more especially bearing in mind the fact that some degree of formality is required when dealing with the public in a formal/official capacity.

    First of all the Hi! needs ditching. Far too informal. As an interjectory greeting, it dates to the 1860s and originates in the American Midwest. It should be replaced by a Good (morning/afternoon/evening) (delete as appropriate. Ed.).

    That’s the easy bit done. In these enlightened times ladies and gentlemen might not cover how everyone chooses to identify, e.g. the non-binary. Everyone would therefore seem to be the most apposite way to address a diverse inner-city busload of passengers. So, for the benefit of any passing WorstBus successors to Blakey, my suggested form of greeting when doing your job would be: Good (morning/afternoon/evening), everyone. Please have your tickets and passes ready for inspection, please!

  • A bloody portrait

    In today’s attempt to divert attention to the dire political and economic situation of the English Empire/Untied Kingdom, the media are today awash with the story of the unveiling of a portrait of Mr Charles Philip Arthur Georg Mountbatten-Windsor, frequently referred to by the gullible as King Charles.

    Here’s the BBC’s example.

    Here’s what all the fuss is about.

    The new portrait of Charles Philip Arthur Georg Mountbatten-Windsor looking flushed

    The BBC also records varying public reactions to the portrait, as long as they do not stray from the sycophantic.

    Many were initially taken aback by the vivid red colour with some saying it looked like fire. Others described the painting as “unexpected” but “modern”.

    However, not so much sycophancy exists on social media where much more republican sentiment and an alterative reading of history were apparent, as in a post on X/Twitter (or whatever the man-baby called Musk is calling it this week. Ed.) by Sandra Eckersley.

    Post reads - Remarkable painting of King Charles with the unexpected subtext of Colonial British History. Soaked in blood & gore yet with a butterfly on his shoulder. As Bart Simpson once said ‘nobody suspects a butterfly’. Clever piece, beautifully executed. Great Art.

    Your ‘umble scribe believes Ms Eckersley shares his view of colonial English/British history, a series of crimes against humanity lasting several centuries, involving invasion, murder, theft, exploitation, expropriation and slavery to name but a few offences on the charge sheet.

    Needless to say, Mr Mountbatten-Windsor is rather pleased with his new portrait, apparently unworried about being depicted as wallowing in a bloodbath.
  • You couldn’t make it up!

    Opticians chain Specsavers is rightly renowned for its advertising slogan, “Should have gone to Specsavers“, which has been applied to every bad decision ranging from one’s choice of partner to driving ability.

    Talking of the latter, yesterday’s Daily Post carries an article which combines skill behind the wheel with the aforementioned opticians, in which the driver ended before the crown court in Abertawe, which some also call Swansea, for an incident which occurred in Castell Nedd (Neath) in November last year.

    Headline - Driver knocked over elderly couple while on his way to Specsavers

    No further comment is necessary on the headline behind the story. However, your ‘umble scribe is intrigued by the first sentence: “A driver on his way to Specsavers struck two elderly pedestrians with his car while reversing through a pedestrianised shopping area“.

    What was the driver doing in a pedestrianised area – where he should not have been – anyway? Exercising his over-developed sense of entitlement. For his lack of care for other road users, the perpetrator ultimately received a 12-month community order, a two-year driving ban and must pass an extended driving test before he can regain his licence.

  • Deep sea life using robots – exclusive

    This blog has often drawn attention to the inability of modern journalists (or should that be media employees? Ed.) to understand ambiguity, i.e. the quality of a statement being open to more than one interpretation, and how to avoid it by using language as a precision, not a blunt instrument.

    The example below dates back to 2022, comes from India’s Republic and dives beneath the waves to the bottom of the sea. It arrived in your ‘umble scribe’s social medial timeline late last week, so apologies if you’ve already seen the howler below.

    Headline - UK researchers discover over 30 potential new species at ocean's bottom using robots. Byline - In what can be considered to be a breakthrough scientific development, over 30 potentially new species have been discovered by UK scientists at ocean&'s bottom.

    The story was originally published in The Guardian. Republic’s reporter Anwesha Majumdar does not disclose in the rewrite why aquatic life in the deep oceans is using robots.

  • For UK, see England

    For some in England – an it only obtains in England – happens throughout the whole of the island of Great Britain and the occupied six counties of the Ireland of Ireland that suffers under the monicker of the United Kingdom.

    Those in England frequently forget that England isn’t the whole of the UK. It includes Wales, which England first colonised in the late 12th century, Scotland, which has its own system of law and institutions, and the aforementioned occupied six Irish counties, the remnant of yet more colonial activity likewise dating back to the late 12th century.

    People in parts of the UK that are not England frequently view England as the most privileged part of the union, particularly when it displays arrogance, exceptionalism and a lack of tact, especially as the union did not come about voluntarily and secession from which may only be put to the vote if Whitehall is feeling generous.

    However, arrogance, exceptionalism and a lack of tact does not apply only in the political sphere, but in the reporting of politics by the media.

    The following post has appeared on the X/Twitter account of London-based Channel 4 News on 3rd May.

    Post reads Local election results - what we know so far. Below is a screenshot of a video showing a backdrop with the words The UK decides - 2024 Local Elections

    The what decides?

    The only local elections taking place in the UK were mostly in England on 2nd May and involved elections for a large number of local authorities, regional mayors and police and crime commissioners.

    By virtue of Henry VIII’s 16th century Acts of Union, the only electoral activity anywhere else in the UK involved the election of the four Welsh police and crime commissioners for the four regional Welsh police forces. As regards these Welsh elections, Nation Cymru carries an opinion piece advocating the abolition of commissioners due to the extremely low voter turnout.

    The proportion of people on the electoral register who bothered to vote was 19.2% in the Dyfed-Powys police force area, 17.19% in North Wales, 16.58% in South Wales and 15.63% in Gwent.

    This hardly the UK really decides, now is it, Channel 4 News?

  • 60 year-old toddler denied vote

    Alexander Boris de Pfeffel JohnsonA polling station in South Oxfordshire had the embarrassing duty of refusing to allow someone with a toddler haircut the opportunity to vote.

    The toddler in question was 60 years old and rejoiced in the title and name of disgraced former party-time alleged prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson.

    According to the BBC, former Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson was turned away from his local polling station after forgetting to bring acceptable photo ID. However, he returned later with the necessary ID and was able to vote.

    The irony of this occurrence is that the production of photo ID to vote was introduced by Johnson’s government in the Elections Act 2022 in a deliberate act to suppress votes for the opposition. How so? there are far more forms of photo ID acceptable as proof of identity that held by older people than those held by younger people. Furthermore, younger people are generally less inclined to vote Conservative.

    The justification given at the time for introducing photo ID was to eliminate personation, i.e. assuming the identity of another person with intent to deceive, particularly within the scope of an election. Nevertheless, this is a non-problem in Britain. As Andy Beckett helpfully points out in today’s Guardian: “According to the Electoral Commission, at the last nationwide elections before voter ID was introduced, in 2022, only seven people were accused of the crime that the new system is supposed to end – impersonating another voter at a polling station – and none of these allegations led to police action“.

    So why did Johnson turn up at the polling station without valid photo ID? There could be a couple reasons. Firstly, for all his erudition and love of quoting classical mythology and ancient history,Johnson isn’t all that bright. Even when one examines his use of classical references, they too can fall apart under the most cursory examination (posts passim). Could he simply have forgotten the impact of his legislation? Hardly likely, considering how the need to furnish photo ID is printed in bold characters on every poll card. Secondly there’s Johnson’s arrogance and sense of entitlement. He believes rules are for everyone else and don’t apply to patrician types like himself. This was amply demonstrated by the Downing Street Partygate affair during the lockdown for the Covid 19 pandemic.

    Tom Hunt MPFinally, the disgraceful Johnson was not the only high-level Tory to be caught out by falling foul of the photo ID requirement.

    Step forward Tom Hunt, the Conservative MP for Ipswich. According to The Independent, Mr Hunt asked local members to act as his “emergency proxy” after he found that he had no appropriate ID to vote in the local council elections. The paper goes on to explain that under certain circumstances, where you have an emergency that means you can’t vote in person, you can apply for an emergency proxy. Such emergency proxy applications can be made up to 5pm on polling day. Unlike Johnson, Mr Hunt has been diagnosed with both dyslexia and dyspraxia, which could explain his predicament.

  • Whitehall says ‘F*ck the Tories’

    That’s Whitehall BS5, of course.

    Whitehall SW1 and the rest of the Untied Kingdom* are saddled with the Tories until unelected pretend prime minister Rishi Sunak decides he’s had enough of ministerial limousines and borrowing other people’s private aircraft and finally decides to call a general election.

    Wording on gable end reads Fuck The Tories

    This is not the first time the artist painting the wall/custodian has taken aim at the Tories. Past targets have included disgraced former alleged party-time prime minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, the Conservative Party in general, fascist former Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Conservatives’ economically suicidal act of Brexit.

    * = The mis-spelling is deliberate.