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Strong - Notes for Beyond The Bassline [Mar. 8th, 2016|10:39 am]
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Strong is a song that's more defined by the spaces than the words - and so tone is essential.

For me, music is essentially dynamic, and so not only should a repertoire piece develop, but it must allow space to mature into, and to respond to the cultural context of each performance. The dots were only ever meant to be a vade-mecum, a guide to how it goes, not a sacrosanct gospel which cannot be added to or subtracted from. Sometimes, in a Bach temperament study or a complicated pice of Mozart's couterpoint harmonics, yes, it has to be done that way, but in gereneral it's an art, and art is essentially plastic, it's flexible, it can be deformed a little before it breaks. I hope you already know this, but I've seen beginners choirs which had a massive revelation whern I said it, so I'm saying it, and apologise if someone thinks it's facile - by all means add a comment!

Having spent several hours listening to innumerable covers and remixes, which amply bring out the difference between pointless second-quality covers and doing something useful with the piece, it strinkes me that there are different aspects to consider:

1. Rhythm. In the absence of a massive melody, steady impulsion is essential. This D&B remix demonstrates how far this can add something, although we don't want to go anywhere nearly that far.

2. Dynamic. We're being respectful of that, in the conceptual context of the gig. But at the same time, it can go far further in other contexts.

3. Decoration. If you listen to the various versions London Grammar themselves have released, there's a certain variation in their grace-note twirls and decorations, this isn't quite as per the dots. Listen to how Hannah ends some of the weaker phrases, she doesn't just leave them to decay, how she decorates "lion", and the "turn" twiddle on the "not" which follows, which is different from the intensity variation she uses on the one in the Child phrase. I've used this version because it focuses on the acoustic quality of the piece, with the accompaniment stripped back.

4. What's going on underneath. The basses have to think about this one, I've chosen it as it brings out things which should be concealed but latent, like the hidden lion stalking its prey.

5. What's going on on top. Echo works on this one, but it gives a hint towards a more aspirated top line. OK, she cops out on the top notes, I suspect because of a weakness of tone there, but at the same time...

And as ever, listen to each other.

Thank you for your time
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Rats leaving a sinking ship [Feb. 7th, 2016|12:04 pm]
With a BREXIT vote headed towards victory, without any kind of leadership, every disreputable politician imaginable from Gove to Carswell are emerging from the woodwork claiming it was them all along. In fact, it wasn't: it was Europe itself, and partly Cameron, which did it, trying to insist on their right to tell us what we can and cannot do. It was clear from the start that the UK only ever accepted a Europe of collegiality rather than one of subsidiarity, subordinated to an unelected bureaucracy, where we contributed willingly. The legists in the Commission couldn't get their heads around it, now here's hoping they lose theirs.
The Eurocrats talk about years of uncertainty about what "out" would look like. I can tell them it's very easy, it's called go boil your heads, or rougher. They'll be left with an enormous hole in their projects, ripped out by force if necessary, and the harm may spread. Tell France it has to pick up the financial loss and Le Pen will win the elections. PIGS (including Malta and Cyprus), not a hope. Eastern Europe, faced with the return of all their expatriates here, will be in no better shape. Germany is barely able to carry itself with the refugees they've excepted. Which leaves BeNeLux and Sweden-Finland, and Ireland. The cross-border smuggling should help NI no end!

Mind you, given there's still no definitive date and the likelihood it's disappearing so far into the future it's likely to be 28th December 2017, if at all - perhaps in the good traditions of European Referenda we'll be told it was actually May 7th 2015, that DC was the elected spokesman for us all, and that he's casting the only vote which matters, to stay in.

And in the mean time, can we have a Referendum to get rid of all established politicians as a bunch of wastrel chancers, please?
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Brexit [Feb. 3rd, 2016|02:30 pm]
So, we have a sophisticated offer on the table, which is no offer at all, does not respect the national autonomy which had been agreed on, and indeed takes us backwards because we can only get a hearing if we can line up a majority of other nations. Europe just does not get the message that the UK has had enough of being sucked inexorably into the machine eliminating National identities, run by unaccountable Eurocrats enforcing inappropriate policies without any real possibility of appeal. The very negotiation demonstrates exactly what is wrong, that we are not being given a real voice, with the deal only being ratified once we vote to stay (ie it's quite possible we won't get what's on offer), and few if any of the real concerns being addressed.
Europe, it is claimed, wants us to stay, but is not prepared to do a blind thing to encourage it. Parliament, far from being given a free voice, is full of petrified politicians afraid to step out of line, and ministers gagged. The vote is being rushed through for fear that the opposition gets its ducks in a line, suggesting there's no rational argument to defeat them, and we're being condescended to by Cameron. He's clearly off in a little world of his own, concerned about strengthening the British Position rather than addressing the problems, in other words he's more concerned with the bureaucracy than about the thing itself. At the end of the day, we have to face the choice, whether we are competent to manage our own futures or not. Do we identify with Europe, and more significantly, does Europe identify with us? I don't think we see it. There's a difference between management-light and actually involving us in the decision-making. I understand that as part of a larger whole, we don't get the only say, but as things stand, we're getting no say.
As I type, a women's cooperative puts it this way: they were tired of being done unto, they wanted to take their lives into their own hands. This, I think, is the nub of the question: are we responsible adults or malleable children? The project arose because some nations were irresponsible adults, but we were not. We were sold a Europe of cooperative peers: what we have received is a Europe of Eurocrats and the rest. A Europe where the red tape is out of control and cannot be brought back in order because it is so wilful in its sense of entitlement it does not realise it fails every one of Tony Benn's five tests for those in power.
It is typified by the Eurozone's plans for a Greek bailout: we are not part of the zone but were taken for granted as being willing to join the bailout of a problem not of our creation. When we objected, we were overruled. But this is only one case in many. Civil service has become an uncivic master, based on dogma and policy not designed for our needs. The idea of creating a wider Europe by lifting the East has become one where the East has decided it doesn't have to do anything to help itself other than help itself. And then gags us when we protest against that.
The result is that the first polls coming through on the package indicate that 69% of the UK thinks this a bad deal. That's a huge change from the figures often quaoted, and must come as a bad shock for the Stay group. But even then it's rounded down by the Press to two-thirds - whereas in fact it's well on the way to three-quarters.
Ultimately it's a question of keeping it simple. Europe's way is to complicate, because in the complication you grow the long grass into which any inconvenient policy can be kicked. Loopholes building upon wriggle-room, compounded and allowing rampant corruption to pass unnoticed. It means bureaucratic mistakes can be covered up easily, without compensation for the victims. It is everything that glasnost is not. When no man can follow the trail of bumph, let alone defend himself against it, then where is the democractic accountability?
Eventually the time comes when a decision has to be made. Should we stay in Europe? No. Many institutions may move, and we may be poorer as a result. But at the same time, we'll be honest.

An aspect of the situation is that nobody's been bothered with investigating, let alone structuring, the concerns. We have one tangible policy on the table, immigration, and even that's not being granted: what about the financial structures, the legislative process, the representative process, the disciplinary process, the appellant process? The sense of cooperation does not need to end if we leave, indeed it becomes more cleanly defined because we're not taken for granted.
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A cleaner sport [Jan. 14th, 2016|11:11 pm]
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The French Public Prosecutor is moving from simply the IAAF to the IOC: and the Stratford Olympics were the venue for the FIFA stitch-up of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
The WAFA Report concludes that it was impossible for the IAAF Council not to have known of the corruption. And yet it concludes that a member of that body is the best man to rebuild.
Perhaps it's time to add WAFA to the list of corrupt bodies, insofar as the Russian anti-doping agency should, in a competent organisation, have been monitored itself. Quis custodiet 101: everyone monitors everyone else, and is interested in blowing the whistle on the opposition.

Perhaps we should ask Coe for a complete account of why the Olympics were so massively overspent.
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HMG's Truss [Jan. 8th, 2016|05:18 pm]

As an example of HMG's arrogance, Lynne Truss at the moment is answering questions on the flooding which has beset the country in recent weeks. Or rather, she is hectoring her opposition counterpart and not answering the questions about the cock-ups she is responsible for.

Two years ago, Brussels pointed out that the UK inexplicably had not applied for any European solidarity funding available in such crises. It seems that is still the case, and despite being reminded by Kerry McCarthy, her oppo, she made no reference to it in her reply, yet still flails around in the morass of the funding mess she is in. 519 of the 1086 projects of the EA's Development Program supposed to proceed in the next couple of months have no funding, amounting to £350m.

Yet the EA continues to consider that humanity is not part of the environment. Time after time we descover practical schemes held up in protection of the lesser spotted civil servant, treating the needs of the people who pay their bills as part of the problem. Sometimes they may be, but it should not be a fundamental feature of the approach, as happens.

From a military engineers eye, yet again it's all words and no actions. In Tadcaster, for example, the nine mile round trip from one side of the river to the other is because there's no junction onto the southbound A64 on the north side of the town, car have to travel four miles north to turn around. Yet by using Oxton and Ouston Lanes and building about fifty feet of roadway on the flat in unused scrub bordering both roads, a junction could be provided, and it could have been done by now.
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The US right to bear arms [Jan. 5th, 2016|05:20 pm]
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The second Amendment of the US Constitution, divided into clauses by the punctuation, reads:
"A well regulated Militia,
being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms,
shall not be infringed."

The second clause is clearly subordinate to the first.
The third is not conjoined with any preposition such as "and" or "or" so cannot be considered to stand distinctly from the first, but as liminatory of it, an explanation of what it means, a parity if you like.

A more modern phrasing would therefore be:
"Because it is necessary for the security of a free State, a well regulated militia, composed because the people have the right to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

It does not mean distinctly that the people have an uninfriged right to bear arms, it means that the militia drawn from them shall not be infringed. The people have a right to keep and bear arms to meet that need, and not for any other reason.

If the President were to declare that a Militia comprises uniquely of those units which comprise such definition of Reserve Forces as he may see fit, presumably including Police and Intelligence Forces, then only those citizens who are members of the said Militia units will be entitled to keep and bear arms. A separate provision can then be made for such other civilians as have a similar need, such as the residents of backwoods areas who have a realistic need to protect themselves from bear, cougars and the like, the orners of zoos with dangerous animals, the list can be considered.

And the thing does not need to risk the embarassment of a further defeat in Congress.
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American hegemony [Jan. 2nd, 2016|01:34 pm]
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Those who have followed my Guardian postings will realise my increasing disenchantment with America, which has become a race functionally indistinguishable from a complacent barbarity. Long, long after the time he should have acted, the lame duck President has announced a half-hearted attempt to leave a footnote to his Administration, proposing measures which Congress will screw. "At least i tried", he will bleat - whereas as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, he should declare outright that the text of Article 2 of their Constitution applies uniquely to the descent of the Militia forces of the day, the National Guard, and does not apply to the population as a whole. He does not need any political votes to do so, it is within his competence both as a lawyer and as President.

But a far more concerning aspect of the international policial system is that we are now being subsumed within a number of different pan-national institutions. The EU wants us inside so they can tell us what we must do, the US similarly through NATO, neither respect our plenipotentiarity yet both prefer us inside the tent peeing out than outside peeing in. Yet our political leaders increasingly define themselves introspectively, intolerant of any concept of a wider question of what makes a society. Corbin has successfully alientated everyone both to the left and to the right of him: what was supposed to be a placeholder candidacy to recognise the breadth of the Labour Party has become a monomaniac and divisive fixation. Cameron, on the other hand, has equally lost credibility by staging what is generally thought to be a fixed Referendum by trying to define the question on a narrow group of themes which are easily refutable, whereas the population has a far wider viewpoint. Nobody wants to think about what might happen if the UK voted to leave, never getting past the thought of a Neverendum, a closely-decided vote. But objectively, if the Yes vote is predicated on an agenda dictated by a discredited Party, UKIP, then the alternative is No. I again risk diverging from the thrust of my argument, thge point being that the UK has a widely-informed population who take fools, and those who would take them as such, with more than a large pinch of salt: they get the bum's rush.

To continue my theme, the US has just such a blindness of vision in The Great American Dream, which has long been seen to be a myth, pure spin. The same problem which saw Corbyn elected applies in the US, a choice between moderate or extreme right-wing parties, a void on the true left which will not be addressed which Hilary Clinton is the only Democratic Candidate. They cannot see that there is much wrong in their State, and worse, still consider it as something to be exported, alongside Black Friday and the rest of the Mickey Mouse con. Claiming that such a system is democratic, for instance, simply gives the other extremists comfort: all Putin has to do is look at the US and laugh. And if they can disregard this powerful joke, then so the rest of us can.
Another posting talked of this influence in the Special Forces. For those who think they're just Rambos, I'd hasten to tell them otherwise: some are, some aren't. The Royal Marine Commandos are, pure force. The Paras are more lightweight, you get more men in an aircraft if they're small! But they're not great intellectuals either. Finally, the SAS. Some are about force, but some are also about clever: above all their handlers. And yet those are being increasingly disatanced into the Reconnaissance Brigade, taking the forces towards the Delta/Ranger/Seal doctrine. It's regressive.
Similarly, no real corrections have been made in the Banking system: we saw just last week the final surrender of the FCA, dropping their pre-emptive "culture" investigation in favour of a reactive "misconduct" approach. The problem is, that only kicks in once we the public have been ripped off, and we all know what happened the last time: the Ratings Agencies never even came under the lens, despite being at the centre of the scandal. And all to placate the US.

We've just been through yet another "Thou Shalt Not Challenge", the Great Commercial Opportunity known utterly erroneously as Christmas. The spiritual message got lost: for me, the Paris shootings were followed by singing Evensong at St Georges' Windsor under John Rutter. A wink from the man confirmed we nailed it. So much so that the congregation was frozen by the beauty for maybe ten munites. And yet within a couple of days we're back in the old, old mistake, engaging in a military campaign which simply gives the attackers credit in the eyes of sympathisers, moving them from aligned to activist. How can you be singing "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" when you're making certain that for some of the residents of Raqqa it's not going to be: we may not have bombed anyone innocent yet, but we've aligned ourselves with those who have, and so cannot claim innocence before those on the receiving end. There were cleverer ways of going about it. But strangely enough, attacking their finance trail doesn't work because it hits American interests. Which is hardly unusual given where the Bush family fortune came from, the German rearmament in the 1930s, which they bankrolled.

Christmas! We at long last blew that one apart when we changed from AD to CE year-numbering, having shown the errors in the Church dogma - specifically, the life of Quirinius shows when and why he ran the census which allowed Joseph back into Judea, ten years after Herod the Great died. So Christ was not born in Bethlehem, and yet the Church still preaches what we know is untrue. Which only leaves one possibility: accept that we need some kind of midwinter break, while continuing to refute the claptrap.
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The brutality of war [Jan. 2nd, 2016|11:16 am]
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Rahere left the military when it became clear that his career would start with a blatantly criminal activity at the behest of the unreliable political masters who not long beforehand had betrayed one of his cohort: Robert Nairac's body has still not been found.
We now see a huge number of soldiers under investigation for events which happened in war twenty years and more ago. It seems that these cases are being constructed by ambulance-chasing law firms in it for their cut, in effect asking Iraqis to fabulate at will. It is my opinion that every time such a case is found not guilty, the company concerned, and all the staff and Board, should be disbarred for treason. As the head of the team, Mark Warwick, says, "there is significant evdence to be obtained" - ie this is a fishing expedition: the track record of his team shows this is probably a uge waste of time putting many millions into the pockets of the muck-rakers.
A soldier cannot fight cleanly with both hands tied behind your back like this. The revisiting of combat under a stressful Court environment is a significant PTSD trigger, and the penalties inflicted on those accused belie the presumption of innocence: they may well lose their jobs, and see an irremediable stain on their character simply from the accusation.
Furthermore, this is in effect writing retractive Law, which is illegal: Statute should not be whittled away by ever-encroaching Case Law in this way. If the Law is not clear, then the most generous interpretation to the defendant must be given, and a hearing must be based in the Law as it stood at the time of the offence, not in the constructed mores of more recent times: Society changes, and we must not charge those whose actions were legal then with accusations viewed from the modern sensibility. This additionally opens the door to the question of time-based proscription of cases, in that the defence must be able to call witnesses who may perhaps have died, disappeared or forgotten the exact events. Do you know where you were and what you were doing on a particular day twenty years and more ago?
This does not mean that there may not be a few founded cases in that number: this is why I'm not asking for the investigation to be thrown out sui-generis. But given the sizeable weight of the charge, if it is clear that someone's been muck-racking, the existing provision for disbarring a vexatious litigant from the legal system must surely apply, indeed, I would consider that a successful defendant should be allowed the right to include in his costs a charge on the lawyers behind the stitch-up.

From a political angle, HMG has chosen to dismiss something like a quarter of those who were told they could make their careers in the Army, and some of those dismissed have been treated disreputably: kicking a hero out three days before he acquires a pension right is disgusting. It shows what we all know, the MOD has not reformed itself in the last 100 years since Kipling wrote of Tommy, "Kick him out the brute". And the consequence is that nobody wants to join their replacement force, the TAVR, because they are not trustworthy. Take 23 SAS, for example: it failed in training the Afghan Police, basically because they are not police themselves. Part of my charge in the WEU was running the finances for MAPE, a similar operation restablilising Albania after the pyramid banking crash of the 1990s, and a significant element of that was retraining the Albanian police to eliminate graft. It worked for a while, but when we withdrew, the problems returned, power corrupting.The reason I left the military, you will observe, is not entirely disconnected from the SAS circle, and in particular because my mentality and that of Nairac was similar: you are asked to take strategic responsibilities and yet the politicos require you to do so in a micro-managed environment where they won't tell you what you need to know. It's heads we win, tails you lose, in other words, when the winners don't have their lives at stake. The result of the Afghan failure was the demotion of 23 from Special Forces status to join the Reconnaissance Brigade, which perhaps means the SF regulars are now being taken in the stupid direction of the US Delta Force, downgrading their spiritual side to simple brute force. My attractiveness to them was my trained analytic powers, which go far beyond the logical: but now, such thongs are down-played because the MOD made the same mistakes the US did in the men-who-stare-at-goats project with a squad of RAF recruits, believing they know it all when they are actually utterly mind-blind. Science is wrong in promoting a universality of the skill, in passing: but this diverges from my theme.

I was fortunate in being able to walk away. Those who have signed up do not have that opportunity, and so the only conclusion I can reach is that not getting involved in this rat's nest is rational.
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Reawakening the beast [Jan. 2nd, 2016|10:14 am]
Some serious players started to follow me on the Guardian site, and as I have now left them because of differences with their editorial policy and stupid moderators, I still owe them a channel for my thoughts. I was a senior officer of a Nobel Prize Winning operation, and have a huge IQ, so taking myself seriously, I must continue to snipe from the sidelines.
This does not mean that I am offering numbskulls the right to challenge me on a say-so basis. If you wish to reply, you state your case and support it with facts. Although I recognise the possibility of error on my part, your opinion alone is insufficient, find your own blog to post that, this is mine and I will kick such children off.
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And when the shouting was over [May. 10th, 2015|03:32 pm]
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So, eighteen months down the road during which there was really not much to talk about other than the usual juvenile fantasy of day-to-day yah-boo-sucks politics, Hague has gone. So has, functionally, the Labour Party, not only having lost its Keir Hardie fanbase, but also now split clean down the middle, having lost its top three, one in the most brutal way possible, and no likelihood of having a new one in under six months. That is one heck of a gift to Cameron - with the one possible poison in the chalice being the candidature of Mrs Balls. She does, does she? True, six months during which time we would barely see the skivers for a month in normal times, what with Summer Recess and Party Conference Season, but six months in which a competent bunch of ministers can make one heck of a lot of water pass under the bridges, water the Labour Party will additionally have to row against if it wants to know which way is up.
That does not mean to say Cameron is not burdened with things we can only surmise. With a possibly rather thin majority (we oldtimers recall the fine mess Wilson and Callaghan made of a similar one in the 1970s), Cameron needs someone he can trust as Chief Whip, and Michael Gove, the archfantasist, is most certainly not cut of that cloth. So why, in heaven's name, was he given  Justice, and what mad fabulation led him to remove all doubt about his competence by immediately opening his mouth declaring his keynote policy to be free Chambers for all Barristers? Even as a policy it was a non-started, TANSTAAFL. But when he has to manage the core material of the urgent renegotiations with Europe in the very near future, from the starting point of a legislative base of prime disorganisation, one can but pity Phillip Hammond, leading the charge knowing cancer is in its guts. What does Gove have on Cameron?
So, how did this happen? The answer is the hairline trigger nature of the first-past-the-post system, which does not respect the contiguous modelling of cephology. Eight and a half million voters (out of 45m registered, 56m potential) put this government in power over a nation of nigh on 70m by voting for a winning member of a winning Party, something Ken Livingstone took to the extreme in the 1980s by teaming up with Ken Banks to become two out of three controllers of the nominating committee of Iltydd Harrington's Labour GLC team. Instant result, Harrington out, Livingstone in, on the strength of two voices out of 10 million GLC electors. The margin of those eight and a half million over the second place candidates was barely a million: and under those circumstances, the only way to judge is to model each constituency individually. In a word, it's the failure of American marketing, the presumption that one size fits all: the sizes which fit Scotland do not fit England. One million within 70, well within the margin of error - but what a huge error. Let us have an end to these shyster pollsters, whose crystal ball gazing caused an imbalance in political accord which came within a dozen MPs of tearing the possibility of governing this nation apart.
Cameron now has the opportunity to consolidate this, by dividing and conquering. Offer the Scots their dearest wish, and reduce Labour to irrelevance for ever. He instantly gets the bonus of the subsidy (finding his 12m) and the departure of the Scots MPs giving him a firm majority, and loading Sturgeon with an impossible choice: she either renounces her dearest claim or destroys her nation. Either way she too is divided within.
Scotland may go for a few years, but their starting point should be where Greece is now in terms of credit rating, and thence the route is one-way, until they are desperate, indeed starving: we do nothing to help them, particularly in Europe. That is the price of trying to wag the English dog: the dog doesn't need it's tail, the tail will be catmeat without the dog. Then the balance changes, their dream must break itself on its own wheel. England can then only be blamed for not offering a hand the Scots spurned: let that be the historic record.
The wider lesson is that the human race succeeds by cooperation. Sturgeon is so bloated on Nigel Tranter's post-Jacobiteism she's forgotten her femininity, and is now at sea within herself between her twarted hopes to be KingMaker, the demands of her more atavistic trolls, and her personality as a politician to deal. To quote Billy Connolly, "Let's give these bastards a good hammering!" (The Hobbit, which is about the level of reality these mountain trolls work at). Where cooperation fails, punishment must follow - and in these neo-Tudor times, that must be serious, not something an Archer or a Mandelson can return from. For Cameron to succeed in Europe, he must remind the slimeworms that he should be feared, far more than Maggie with an iron brick in her handbag: what gives, fundamerntally, is a lack of real respect, and that can only be recovered the hard way. They're so far up their own arses in Brussels having seen off the likes of Kinnock Father by simple bureaucratic obstruction they've forgotten how we cleansed their Nazi brethren in 1945. So, it they see him as ruthless inside his country, then how much more sshould they fear him to be elsewhere?
One domain he could start with is to clean his House, not by some long-winded Enquiry into child abuse, but by simple trial by jury as a matter of priority. Where two or more victims accuse the same politician, let them answer without delay: and if they cannot, then let twelve good men and women conclude, this within a fortnight. Stop the flummery of scientific proof, two or three men's word should suffice against any. Clean that Augean stable of Dunblane too. And then proceed to those who covered up, Police, Magistrates, Councillors. But start at the top, and do so brutally, removing judges who have no taste for a clean-up. This is where Gove is a disaster, of course, because he's a milksop.
At least Cameron has hit the ground running, appointing Hammond as his first move. Brussels is away on Monday, celebrating just how far out of contact with reality they really are: when they return from the Ardennes on Tuesday, it is to be hoped the Foreign Office's initiatives on Monday will have parked so many diplomatic tanks on Commission lawns as to start delivering the message that the UK is seriously narked. We no longer need their goodwill (what goodwill?), so it's time to earn their hatred.
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