Author Archives: The Rant

This rant is spat at you from the baleful keyboard of David Duff, who sits, or rather, slumps, in his armchair viewing the actions of his fellow man through a beady, and occasionally, it must be admitted, blood-shot eye. Those possessed of a strong stomach may inspect, at a safe distance, his other putrid opinions at


Alas, my Canute-like orders are of no avail. Still it advances; inexorably it slithers and slides and smarms its way into every nook and cranny, mounting ever higher until now, this, my last rant, is delivered with the ghastly, treacly, oily, viscous slime up to my chin and I can only croak one more time, “Stop this soppy, sanctimonious, show-off sentimentality – NOW!”

There was a time, and I am old enough to remember it, when the English were renowned for their sang-froid, their upper lips stiffer than a Grenadier guardsman (no jokes, please, gentlemen!), their emotions stacked neatly in the deep-freeze of rectitude. Wailing and gnashing of teeth was strictly for that peculiar species, ‘Johnnie Foreigner’, but never, ever, for an Englishman.

Well, all that’s long gone. I’m not sure when and where this oozing, sticky glut of sentimentality first arose. Probably Liverpool, under the Celtic influence of its Irish population. Certainly the ‘Scousers’ have developed it into a fine art form helped, no doubt, by the practice they get each time their ‘footie fans’ get bored with their tedious team and decide to crush the other fans to death, on the not totally unreasonable grounds that it is likely to provide better entertainment than watching their lack-lustre team. Later, of course, this sort of event provides excellent opportunities for a lachrymose outpouring of utterly insincere grief with all the modern icons of sentimentality in the form of piles of cheap flowers and vomit-inducing ‘notes of condolence’. These are presented with a canny eye on whether or not the ‘telly’ cameras are present and normally involve prodding their deeply unattractive children forward to, and please don’t laugh, ‘pay their respects’. Not even the tiniest glimmer of a thought enters their fat, stupid heads to the effect that if they had behaved like civilised people in the first place; no-one would have died!

I thought, and hoped, that this glutinous tide had reached its peak with the funeral of Princess Diana, when the entire nation, except me, went into a welter of sopping wet sentimentality that I had never thought to witness on these shores. But no, exactly the same lunacy took place only a fortnight ago when hundreds of thousands of my fellow subjects started behaving like a bunch of emotional Italians over the deserved, indeed worked at, death of George Best. Was he a war hero? Did he find a cure for cancer? Had he personally run a shelter for Ethiopian war orphans? No, he was a footballer! Instantly a queue of tear-stained morons formed to help produce a mountain of shirts and scarves and the ubiquitous cheap flowers.

As a last effort to fight against this sentimental effluent that is threatening to drown us all, I have decided on a plan of direct action. The next time you drive past a woeful, little bunch of decaying flowers set by the roadside in order to mark the spot where some Darren, or Kevin, having borrowed Dad’s ‘Beamer’, chucked back ten pints and then, presumably in the interests of scientific enquiry, decided to test Newton’s laws of motion, and coming to the conclusion a nano-second before his head went through the windscreen that probably the old boy was right; instead of driving past, swerve slightly to the left and run over them! If, on the other hand, the flowers are reasonably fresh, stop the car, pinch them and give them to the wife. (Actually, that might not be such a good idea because she will instantly suspect that you have been up to no good and give you hell for it. Well, that’s women for you, no sentimentality there then!)

Oh, and by the way, er, Happy Christmas!

This week’s ranter: Please be upstanding for the general pendantry of the The Pedant-General in Ordinary

I Blame the Parents

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.”

So quoth your stern and hard-boiled Pedant-General in one of his very first posts.

There is nothing like a good dose of personal responsibility to bring out the libertarian in you, and nothing brings out personal responsibility in you more than having children. Raising children is an expensive, tiring and distracting task but, like most other good things in life, amply repays the effort invested. So far, so non-contentious.

But ask yourself: are we, as a nation, doing the best job we can to ensure that children are brought up in stable, loving homes that they may become productive, law-abiding citizens ready to take the fight for the advancement of mankind to the next generation?

Or have:

* the demands of womens lib – which has put enormous pressure on women to return to work leaving their children to faceless childcare and breaking down the stability that small children so desperately need before the age of five;

* the advent of the ambulance chasers and “Human Rights” lawyers – which divorces adults from responsibility for their own actions in general and the application of “reasonableness” in particular;

* relentless political correctness – which undermines the enlightenment values of reason as the arbiter of men and sees criminal and unpleasant behaviour as the unavoidable result of self-inflicted social deprivation;

* the welfare state – which actively discriminates against parents sticking together to share the task of child-rearing;

* and disastrous trendy teaching methods – don’t get me started on phonics

combined to create a generation of illiterate, semi-feral automatons who do not understand and hence resent the world around them nor have any hope of lifting themselves out of their quagmire and every chance of creating further generations of similarly hopeless cases in their turn?

My thesis is that raising children requires responsibility. The same applies in reverse: intercede between parents and their responsibility towards (and for the actions of) their children and an authoritarian state becomes almost a necessity to keep the rabble in order.

This week’s ranter: Neil Harding is the uncut, uncensored, unofficial voice of Brighton Regency Labour.

Editorial note, Thursday evening: Sadly it has been brought to our attention that this is – as well as being uncut, uncensored and unofficial – entirely unoriginal, as it was previously posted on Neil’s own blog two months ago. As such, it is now below the fold (as it has attracted some interesting comments, at least). “The Rant” is designed for original pieces, not cut and pasting, though obviously we can’t read through every ranter’s entire output in advance to make sure. We are, however, still on the lookout for more potential “Rant” contributors – all we ask is for a modicum of effort. Cheers. NM.
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Mr Eugenides wouldn’t describe himself as a blogging virgin, exactly, but he’s certainly still at the inexpert fumbling stage. Be gentle.

On Kilroy

Let’s start with the suntan.

I’m going to go out on a limb; no suntanned British politician has ever been anything but a shyster and a fraud. Three quick examples; Tony B. suddenly turning mahogany one weekend during the election (“I was working in the garden”); George Galloway, passim; and the entire madcap political career of Robert Kilroy-Silk. (Of course, his real name is Robert Silk. “Kilroy-Silk” is an affectation, an amalgamation of the surnames of his father and stepfather, presumably to make him sound less proletarian).

I’m a reasonably intelligent man. I understand, both intuitively and intellectually, the difference between the true evils in this world – poverty, disease, hunger – and the ephemera, the flotsam, the self-obsessed nonentities that jostle for position on the margins. And yet, increasingly, it’s the latter that obsess me, to the virtual exclusion of all else. Darfur, 7/7, torture; yes, they make me angry, angry at the injustices of the world and our inability, or unwillingness, to right them. But to stir the deepest, most unspeakable feelings of rage in my soul, only a Kilroy, a Patricia Hewitt, a – God forgive me for even typing the words! – Gillian McKeith, will really do.

Is it the way he cosied up to his hapless victims, the consoling arm round the shoulders even as he manoeuvred them in their seats to face the camera? Is it the ignorant, xenophobic tripe in his newspaper column which took him (let us hope forever) off our screens? Is it his ludicrous political meanderings, the ill-fated and wholly self-regarding flirtation with UKIP, the pathetic vanity of Veritas, which ended, deliciously, in him being ousted from the head of his own one-man band? Is it the monstrous hypocrisy? Is it actually just the tan?

No. My anger stems from the fact that, despite their utter insignificance, these people occupy a huge, pompous-twat-shaped hole in my life that I dearly wish I didn’t need to fill. Any decent psychiatrist could tell me that when I lie awake, imagining the sound that a rusty axe would make as it plunged through his leathery, apricot-hued face, I’m “transferring” my rage. This rant is really about myself.

This week’s ranter: Ken Owen blogs at Militant Moderate, and his chief interests are cricket, constitutions and controversy. Occasionally he even has something amusing or relevant to say.

Motivations, motivations, motivations

Tony Blair made a big thing of “education, education, education” in 1997, yet his record has been unimpressive. Let’s leave aside that the massive increases in spending haven’t achieved remotely proportional returns. Because the real disgrace behind Blair’s record is his continued manipulation of the educational system to suit his political ends.

Why does he want 50% of young people to go to university? Is it because he thinks that a university education is desirable for all? No, it’s because he knows that, in the UK at least, getting to university is considered an objective standard of a good education. Never mind if the real standard of universities is dropping – if more people are getting into higher education, the government must be doing something right. Right?

The same principle lies behind the means used to ‘encourage’ the top universities to take a higher proportion of state school students – the most notable one being continued threats of withdrawn funding. A simple statistical argument doesn’t hold up; A-Levels are not the ideal form of training for university entrance, and when 20% of students are getting A grades then making arguments on such a basis is perverse. Of course, they wouldn’t want to introduce A+ or A++ grades at A-Level, because then the private schools would come out on top.

Fiddling the system this way is like making up your bank balance – it might make you feel better, but at the end of the day it doesn’t help much. Sure, manipulating the education structures gets you a nice headline (and boy, wouldn’t Blair want one of those today?), but what does it actually achieve? Pupils aren’t better educated; the reputation of our universities flounders; millions of pounds are pumped into educating students who would be better off doing something else. If the education system is to improve, we need to stop fiddling the figures, and actually make state schools work.

This week’s ranter: Paul has just joined The Sharpener team — you can find his first ‘proper’ piece, on Sun Tzu and George W. Bush, here.

Tuneless in Islington

Any regular gig-goer can sympathise with the classic ‘support band dilemma’. Do you turn up early, get a few drinks in and endure what is probably going to be about half-an-hour of discordant dribble? Or do you rock up fashionably late and risk missing soon-to-be Rock Gods playing in your local toilet in front of 40 other people, cementing anecdote envy among your friends for years to come?

Being an optimistic chap, I usually opt for the former. I’m often disappointed. I’m sometimes outraged. Never before, however, have I wanted to run out into the streets of Islington on a murderous rampage.

Then I saw the aptly-named and space-less giveamanakick, ‘supporting’ The Undertones; ‘supporting’ in the way that the rest of the Northern Ireland team used to support George Best. Never has the ability to make music been so disastrously confused with the ability simply to make noise.

Whoever was responsible for inflicting this racket on innocent fans of Peel-championed punk either has no ears or is one of those sick delusional altruists that can’t see that their actions, whatever their intentions, are entirely pernicious. Like the muppets behind deferred success and grade inflation.

Sadly, this clueless attitude appeared to have spread to three people in the front row, who baffled the rest of the room with their incessant cheering and clapping. They did look quite young — they might just have got horribly pissed within 30 minutes of turning up. That, or they had ingested the most mind-altering drug known to mankind.

In between pathetic bouts of clamouring for cash (for some reason, this talentless two-piece haven’t had much luck transforming feedback into fistfuls of dollars), I spotted that one of their ‘songs’ was called Gravity. Oh for some of the big G to get to work on their musical aspirations.

This week’s ranters: Stuart and Dave are communists with a book habit. They blog at From Despair To Where .

A rant… against rant

Who doesn’t love a good rant? We certainly do. Indeed, as a socialist, almost the first thing you will have to learn is the art of the rant. And, in our founding father, we have a superb role model. Just take a look at the old boy tearing into Jeremy Bentham in Section Five of this chapter of Capital.

In fact, this rant was so good we were going to nick it for the start of this one. Because if you’re looking for a modern example of arch-philistines strutting about in a self-satisfied way with their list of homespun commonplaces, look no further than the so-called pro-war left. Not that the anti-war left is that much better. In fact, the whole debate between the anti-war left and the pro-war left only offers us the depressing prospect of choosing between Bush and Blair, or the Iraqi Resistance. Our advice is that if a polemicist offers you two options, you should always choose the third. (Click here and scroll down for a review that makes more or less this point.)

We could rant on and on about this, and we did plan to. But then we read an exchange between anti-war author Ken Macleod and pro-war lefty academic Norman Geras. Ken Macleod’s piece is the best contribution to the debate we have read. But — and here’s our point — it was the best because it wasn’t a rant. Geras’s replies were, in their own way, equally impressive.

People don’t move closer to a ranter’s position. They edge nervously towards the door. If this was just about slipping away quietly from bores like Hitchens and Galloway, then it wouldn’t matter. But we can’t afford to leave the debate to them, as it gives rise to the (already very strong) impression that politics is for weirdos and nutters. As Foucault points out , a search for truth — a whole morality — is at stake.

So, comrades, friends, and fellow bloggers, let’s do our best to give up the rant. It’s beneath us and the issues are too important. And if you disagree, then please do put your pointless ravings and ill-informed opinions in the comments box below.

This week’s ranter: The Moai is a recovering socialist who doesn’t like offending people but realises some of them need it. S/he blogs pseudonymously at Kalahari Lighthouse.

The hand-wringing racists of the Left

Over the past few years, I have begun to question all of the left-wing political assumptions I once had. Many of these assumptions, I maintain. A few I have discarded, such as the strongest and most unquestionable shibboleth of the European Left: anti-Israeli sentiment.

Anti-Israeli sentiment is the acceptable face of anti-Semitism. It is the last hatred that right-on, patchouli-scented hand-wringers allow themselves, and they revel in it. I have heard a woman sporting an Anti-Nazi League badge say “they shouldn’t even fucking be there in the first place”, before tearing into a rant worthy of Goebbels. This hatred is divorced from the horribly complicated facts of Middle Eastern politics — it is simple, naked hatred of the state of Israel, for the crimes of continuing to exist and of being Jewish. It is easy for Guardianistas to hate the Israelis: they are unashamedly Jewish, jingoistic in the face of threats, and technologically advanced. While the nations around them languish under despotic kleptocrats and fundamentalist clerics, the Israelis have built a successful nation, and have even had a female leader, Golda Meir (“Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us”).

There are many good reasons to support the efforts of the Palestinians to found a stable democracy of their own, but hatred of Jews is not one of them. The world needs a functioning Arab democracy, desperately, and the Palestinians have undeniably been treated abominably in some cases. I blame the media. It seems every image of Palestine shown on the BBC is of weeping mothers — perhaps we should see some more shattered Jerusalem buses spattered with childrens’ blood? The politics are reduced to one dimension — suffering Arab, Jewish oppressor. Arab freedom fighter, murdering Jew soldier. Until the Palestinians and Arabia as a whole disavows the ancient mission to “drive the Jews into the sea”, no progress will be made. There are very few innocents in this battle, on either side. Seeing how it is depicted by the Left in this country makes my Gentile blood boil.

This week’s ranter: MikesBooksandThinks, Retired
Engineer. Politically a shade to the right of Atilla the Hun. Writes in
his blog about books he has enjoyed, but mainly about politics and
politicians he detests!

Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom!

Imagine the impact which the exports of your country are having upon the
economies of the countries to which you export! Your own factory has
tripled in size since you moved from the tiny plant which started you off
in commerce, expansion continues, and your work force has multiplied by
over fifty times since you started out.

At the end of your working day, as you climb into your new Mercedes while
watching the evening shift pour through the gates, you allow yourself a
quiet smile of contentment! You are successful!

You steer your limousine along one of the new expressways, built in the
past two years to accommodate the explosion in commerce and car ownership, and onward towards the expanded house which is but the latest symbol of your success.

Your wife, waiting at the window while holding your son in her arms, waves
as you drive in through the automatic gates into your brick-lined drive;
and you greet her as you tousle your son’s hair.

Then your mood changes, you push away from your family and stand, rigid
with anger, at the window overlooking the garden; for there are two roses
blooming which had not flowered when you left for work this morning.

One rose commemorates the second son you would have had, if he had not
been aborted by the hospital staff as his tiny head emerged from your
wife’s body; aborted and killed because he was not authorised by the State!

The other rose, more poignant still, is in memory of your cousin, dead now
these sixteen years, mown down along with five thousand others in
Tiananmen Square by the tanks of the Mongolian Shock Army, as the Chinese
Communist State moved to crush any vestige of dissent against it’s rule
and diktat.

This week’s ranter: is Double-Edged Sword, who prefers to remain anonymous.

Terrorism rules, ok?

Before beginning, I’ll nail my colours to the mast. I find the exercise of violence morally repugnant: its use is only acceptable by a fully accountable state in its duty to protect citizens by necessary and proportionate measures.

But our own government legitimized the carnage of the 7th July. Terrorism is a crime under international law, but as one of a succession of governments, it has been shameless in its preparedness to sacrifice principle to achieve its ends in Northern Ireland. I refer to the release of murderers, the moral equation of British soldiers with IRA and Loyalist terrorists, and the constant flow of concessions negotiated outside the Belfast Agreement in response to Provisional threats, solely to ensure that IRA bombs did not go off in London. Blair sacrificed both UUP and SDLP because they did not have guns. He’s more than willing to institutionalize the most sophisticated terror network in the western world — and watch democracy subverted by its use of criminal proceeds to undermine rival, non-violent parties. (Though to be fair, it wasn’t Blair’s government that used Loyalist terrorists to assassinate Pat Finucane.)

Terrorism is here to stay. When the crossbow was introduced in Europe, allowing commoners to slay Knights by the keep-load, it was declared an abomination by the Pope. This was mirrored by the introduction of the arquebus. So, terrorism is just a tactic that we are unaccustomed to. The exemption of civilians from terror is a recent invention enshrined by twentieth-century Geneva Conventions — nor has it always been observed. Our generation is unused to terror, but times change and societies become desensitized. Soon, only the families will be devastated. We’ll simply shrug our fatalistic shoulders. But this government is not just guilty of hypocrisy: its behaviour has informed terrorists that their actions can be validated, and moreover, that they are effective.