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David Cameron said when he came to power he wanted to improve people’s happiness – that government policy was to be more focused on those things that make life worthwhile. To this end, the Cabinet Office has recently revealed which jobs in the UK give us the most satisfaction. Top of the list of 274 job titles is vicar; bottom of the list is pub landlord. It is perhaps a surprise that these two jobs should be at opposite ends of the table given that they share many similarities: they both have dwindling regulars, both dish out wine and nibbles and if you spend a long time in either’s establishment you can think imaginary people are talking to you.
But it’s great that government realises there is more to life than GDP, or, as the Cabinet Office puts it, that it is important to assess “non-market impacts”. You just wonder how seriously those considerations have been taken when it comes to policies such as the bedroom tax, HS2, and shooting a few badgers but not nearly enough to make any difference. Certainly if David Cameron really wanted to improve our happiness you’d have thought he’d have accepted Maria Miller’s resignation that much sooner than he did. Or maybe he was always intending to accept the resignation – he just wanted to delay it as long as possible so that when it finally came our pleasure was that much greater. I did read through Maria Miller’s resignation letter. It took me 96 seconds. I didn’t spot an apology in it – although in that time she would have been able to apologise three times to Parliament.
Surely if David Cameron was truly dedicated to this happiness policy, he could go that much further? For instance, they’ve set up an NHS 111 helpline and a Police 101 helpline. How about setting up a government helpline simply called ‘Vent’? Any member of the public can just phone up free of charge and vent on any topic they like about any aspect of government that upsets them. And every time they seem to be drying up or calming down – the person whom they are speaking to quickly puts them on hold – or tells them they are now being held in a queue – or starts playing a tinny synthesiser version of Greensleeves for no reason – just to keep their emotion simmering to make sure they absolutely get every last drop of frustration out.
Cameron himself, could do more personally to increase our happiness. He’s always seen as Eton and Oxford and Bullingdon, so why doesn’t he upload a six second video on Vine of him dressed in white tie and tails, quaffing champagne whilst poking a poor person with a stick? Everybody would be delighted to have their prejudices confirmed. Perhaps at the same time he could tweet a picture of Nick Clegg bringing him a cup of tea whilst wearing a lovely apron and nothing else.
Michael Gove is a fan of a traditional education. If government want to improve our happiness, every time Michael Gove makes one of his usual gaffes, force him to stand in the corner of the Ministry of Education with his back turned, with a dunce’s cap on, with his trousers down, whilst being beaten by a kid with a birch who films it on his mobile phone for internet distribution.
Rachel Johnson recently for Sport Relief’s “Famous, Rich and Hungry” had to live for a week with a family in food poverty. But imagine how much happier we would have been if we could have seen her brother Boris go hungry for a week – because he looks like he can pack a bit of food away. You suspect by the end of the week there would have been a good chance Boris would have got so hungry the family’s pet would have gone missing.
And George Osborne when he was part of the Bullingdon Club was supposedly held upside-down by the other members, who shouted at him “who are you?” – and he was dropped on his head repeatedly until he answered “I am a despicable c***”. If they can do it, why can’t we? Imagine the happiness that would ensue if David Cameron re-instigated that – in public – every day – on Westminster Green – until the economy had markedly improved. Surely those are the sort of “non-market impacts” the Cabinet Office would approve of?
David Cameron famously once described UKIP as ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’ – and then loads of people went out to vote for them. Cameron had obviously described a large swathe of the British population. “What? There is a party for me? Brilliant!”
So David Cameron toned down his rhetoric, downgrading UKIP to merely ‘pretty odd people’. Perhaps more odd, than pretty. But UKIP leader Nigel Farage is trying to change that. Out has gone Godfrey “Bongo Bongo Land” Bloom after describing any women who didn’t clean behind the fridge as ‘sluts’. Whether Godfrey when visiting the house of a lady for the first time ever used to check behind the fridge as a shorthand for finding out whether it might be his lucky day, was never revealed.
Out has gone David Silvester, the UKIP councilor who said “Since the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, the nation has been beset by serious storms and floods. One recent one caused the worst flooding for 60 years. The Christmas floods were the worst for 127 years. Is this just global warming or is there something more serious at work?“.
Surely the abolition of homosexuality as a crime in 1967, a mere 47 years ago, might have led to a deluge or two, David?
Out has gone Dr. Julia Gasper, the chair of the Oxford branch of UKIP, who said: “As for the links between homosexuality and paedophilia, there is so much evidence that even a full-length book could hardly do justice to the subject“.
Although what Dr Julia Gasper considers worthy of a full-length book might be questionable given that her three books so far are on those household subjects The Marquis d’Argens, Thomas Dekker and “Theodore Von Neuhoff: The Man Behind the Legend”.
Out has gone Douglas Denny from the National Executive Committee of UKIP, a man who contributed to a debate on gays with: “I just wish they would keep their homosexual nature and practices to themselves and stop trying to ram it down my throat”. That wasn’t quite the end of the quote but it seemed more fun to end it there.
Out has gone the 2010 UKIP manifesto. A manifesto that called for a return to proper dress for major hotels and restaurants and theatres – and taxi-drivers. Also, for the London Underground Circle line to be made circular again; and to repaint the trains in traditional colours – chocolate and cream for Great Western, scarlet red for Midland and apple green for the East Coast. Perhaps Cameron should have gone with “Fruitcakes, loonies, and closet trainspotters”.
This 2010 UKIP manifesto Nigel Farage recently described as ‘drivel’ – but it turns out he wrote the foreword to it and was the chief spokesman at its launch. He now claims to have never read it. As the European elections approach, Farage is going to be more and more in media demand. UKIP can’t get rid of everybody apart from him. There needs to be some other people in UKIP to take the strain – but would you know who the chairman of UKIP is? [Steve Crowther] – or the party director? [Lisa Duffy] – or the Head of Policy? [Tim Aker]. The only UKIP person apart from Farage you probably recognize is Neil Hamilton, who is the deputy chairman. Neil Hamilton says that UKIP need to get rid of their embarrassing candidates. This is the man who resigned over ‘cash for questions’, lost the fourth safest seat in the country and is married to Christine Hamilton. Timmy Mallett dressed in a bikini doing an advert for Lynx would be less embarrassing than him.
If Neil Hamilton is UKIP’s second safest pair of hands, Nigel Farage is going to have an awful lot of work to do. But Nigel Farage can’t be the person appearing on Question Time [26 times so far], and the person leading the party, and the person writing the manifesto, and the person writing the foreword, and the person launching the manifesto, and drinking the beer and smoking the fags whilst being the person denying he ever had anything to do with the manifesto, which turns out is all ‘drivel’. Otherwise he’s going to get very tired. Maybe he’ll have one beer too many and one hour sleep too few. It’s all very well the asylum getting rid of the loonies, but if the closet sane bloke tries to be everywhere at once, he’s going to end up being the chief fruitcake. And then Neil Hamilton will have to take over.
Crime has fallen by 10% in the last year. Great news. Rejoice. Hang out the bunting. The tragedy is – nobody seems to have a clue as to exactly why this is happening especially given that everybody was suggesting that austerity would see a rise in crime.
Various theories have been put forward. Take your pick from any one of the following, as it seems your guess will be just as good as the experts’:-
1/ The reduction of lead in petrol – because lead in petrol in the atmosphere affects the brain. Lead has been reduced in petrol but you can still find a lot of lead in certain places decomposing slowly in the atmosphere – stained glass windows in churches, fishing sinkers, pewter mugs – which might be an argument to avoid vicars, fish and battle re-enactment societies.
2/ The much bigger size of consumer goods such as plasma televisions – although that didn’t stop people making a beeline for Currys during the riots. And it’s not like old televisions were easy to carry – yes they were smaller but they were much bulkier and weighed a ton. At least with plasma TVs you can chuck a curtain over it, put on a dodgy Breton cap and pretend you are some arts student carrying a portfolio.
3/ The cheapness of goods now means it is hardly worth nicking them. Things are certainly very competitive on the high street – one Poundland store in the West Midlands had to have a cut-price sale because they were apparently being undercut by the 99p shop nextdoor. We may yet see the arrival of 95pLand, 50pStretcher and SpareChangeWorld
4/ The increase in home computer games gives young males an alternative outlet. Of course, violent computer games used to be blamed for creating more violence. Now it seems they could be leading to less violence. I never really subscribed to the idea that DVD nasties created copycat violence. There are lots of powerful films out there. If DVD nasties led to copycat behaviour, why shouldn’t other films? Given some of the latest DVD releases, how come people aren’t drinking champagne wearing 1920s spats whilst dancing the Charleston with flappers, or attempting to crash a spaceship into San Francisco, or taking a tiger for a ride on a boat?
5/ There are more unemployed people at home and there are, therefore, less empty houses to break into. If you’re angry and disenfranchised the last thing you want to do is to break into a house which contains somebody else who’s as angry and disenfranchised as you are. Besides, you’d better stay home yourself, just in case they break into yours.
6/ Austerity itself. Nobody has anything worth nicking anymore, so if you did break in you’d only find stuff that was probably worth a quid – or perhaps 95 pence.
7/ And my favourite theory – easy access to hardcore porn. Marx said that religion was the opium of the masses. No longer it seems. Debbie Does Dallas may be the opium of the masses. And Ron Jeremy is their Pope. All hail the internet!
Given that our crime policies for years have supposedly been based on what works it’s a tragedy to find out that nobody is really sure what does work. The argument that prison works is now being countered by the fact that crime is falling in those places with a small prison population [Netherlands, Germany] as well as those with a high prison population [U.S., U.K.]. If you can reduce drug addiction by treatment rather than punishment we should do so, especially given that a night in prison is often quoted as being as expensive as a night in the Ritz, and for a night in the Ritz we should be able to afford some pretty good treatment.
The question arises is this fall in crime real? Yes. These figures are from the Crime Survey of England & Wales 2013 not the Police’s own figures which have recently been downgraded by the UK Statistics Authority as suitable only to be filed somewhere between Historical Fiction and Fantasy. The Police’s figures have fallen even more that the Crime Survey figures, the theory being that individual Forces have been massaging figures to show they are winning the battle against crime. The ironic thing is that Police numbers are being cut across the UK and the Police said this would lead to an increase in crime. With a now established decrease in crime, that’s a bit embarrassing for the Police. The best interpretation is that police numbers have little effect on crime – the worst interpretation, is that the police were causing a lot of the crime.