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June 09, 2005

Hang Hattersley!

I seem to be having something of a John Band moment. An article in the Daily Mail has led me to want to hang the author, hang him high. If, that is, we could find rope thick enough to support the Tub O’ Lard while he tap dances on air. Damn this piece (haven’t checked if it is online) by Roy Hattersley makes me angry.

Writing about the Royal National Lifeboat Institution he does the standard brave men and women, working for the common good, heart of the British nation stuff. Then the final paragraphs:

The RNLI does not receive a penny of public subsidy. So the volunteers are expected to help raise the cash which keeps the nation’s 320 lifeboats afloat.

There is something peculiarly English about the notion that men who risk their lives for others should be expected to sell paper flags and carry collecting tins to make it possible.

You would think that someone who has spent so many years in politics would know what happened when the RNLI did in fact get public subsidies. They lost 1.65 quid in private donations for every pound they got in subsidy. But that isn’t why the Fat Fraud should be done to death publicly and slowly. Oh no.

The Noble Lord has spent his entire life, both in politics and in his writing, applauding the virtues of caring for our fellow man, being a vocal proponent of the idea that humans really are caring empathic creatures, not motivated by greed or self-interest, but filled with the milk of human kindness. That they would, if the world were just a little better ordered (by the Noble Lord) help and take care of those around them for no reward other than the joy of knowing that they were indeed doing so.

So when people go off and do that, work selflessly and tirelessly for their community, prove his very point, what does FatFace do? Decry the very fact that they do, that people do indeed, at times, find themselves motivated by concern for their fellows and go off and do something about it. Surely, it can’t be the fact that people actually do it themselves, rather than with the assitance of My Lord Hattersley, that propels his distaste now can it?

Shit, where’s Albert Pierrpoint when you need him? No, maybe not, he was famous for his skill in a quick hanging. Could someone talk to the Iranians on the correct model of crane to use please while I track down some 2 inch 3inch hemp rope?

June 9, 2005 in Idiotarians | Permalink


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I do love the Mail. It can be guaranteed to send me into a page-3-balling-and-hurling frenzy almost every time.
I sometimes even buy it to test whether I still have opinions.

Posted by: Auntymarianne | Jun 9, 2005 12:25:58 PM

I meant to write (and possibly will) a frothing-rage post about the Daily Mail's front page story yesterday - the one about the cargo ship that picked up some migrants from a sinking boat in the Med, then continued on its planned journey to the UK.

The Mail was beside itself with rage, apparently because the ship didn't make an unplanned stop to get rid of the foreigners before they got to the UK (presumably, leaving them to drown would also have been reasonable in the Mail's eyes).

That wasn't the thing that made me want to get out the hanging noose and the electric shock batons, though.

That was the "The extraordinary journey is the latest incident to expose the weakness of Britain's border controls. It is the first recorded incident of its kind in the country since the 1940s".

I still can't quite believe that the anti-letting-Jews-flee-the-Holocaust Daily Mail has the chutzpah to mention the WWII years in a refugee-bashing story...

Posted by: john b | Jun 9, 2005 1:25:57 PM

Bollocks: I also deserve to be hanged. The story that referenced the 1940s appeared in the Daily Express, while the Mail's version (although predictably mouth-breathing and insane) contains no such allusions.

Tim adds: Didn’t Beaverbrook rather like Moseley?

Posted by: john b | Jun 9, 2005 1:30:26 PM

I read Hattersly as criticizing not the people who raise money for RNLI, or giving money to RNLI, but society for forcing them into a position of having to do so.

I didn't understand why you find that thought objectionable? Do you think it wrong to advocate the adequate provision publi services?

In the US, there is a hot political issue at the moment about US servicemen having had to rely on their family to buy them body armour, boots and other equipement to protect them while on active service in Iraq. I think it is scandalous negligence for any government to send troops into battle without the proper equipment. Are we to conclude from your post that you disagree: do you perhaps think the world would be a better place if citizens provide equipment for its army through voluntary contributions rather than through tax-financed government procurement?

Tim adds: Leave the war aside for a moment (and of course not, even right libertarians like me think that defense is a legitimate activity of government) and concentrate on the lifeboats. There are indeed certain taks that are better performed collectively, lifeboats being one. They are provided collectively and extremely efficiently at that. Why should or must such collective action be fed through the State?

Posted by: Owen Barder | Jun 9, 2005 2:53:54 PM

john b: the Jews couldn't flee the Holocaust; the poor buggers were prisoners of a totalitarian state.

Posted by: dearieme | Jun 9, 2005 3:20:04 PM

Owen Barder,

Squaddies get given an state allocated SA80.
The SAS get to pick which weapon is most useful.

Perhaps if we got rid of a lot of MoD staff and used the spare money to allow squaddies to buy their own kit, we wouldn't have such a military logisitcs farce.

Posted by: Rob Read | Jun 9, 2005 3:29:30 PM

Dearieme: so there aren't any Jews whose ancestors lived in continental Europe and who fled to the UK in the 1930s and 1940s to escape the threat of Hitler? My girlfriend will be surprised to hear that (or rather won't, since her grandparents don't exist, and therefore she presumably doesn't either). I imagine Sigmund Freud would have been a little surprised by the news, too.

Tim: fairly sure that Rothermere was the only brownshirt - nothing I've read about Beaverbrook suggested he was a fascist, although I might have missed something.

Tim adds: Sorry, didn’t mean quite that. Not that he supported the black shorts, but just that he liked Moseley, perhaps itwas before he went off the rails.

Posted by: john b | Jun 9, 2005 3:35:11 PM

I'm guessing that the parents of US soldiers are pretty good at having a whip-round to raise money and using it to buy body armour for their kids. But the fact that people are willing and able to make up for the deficiencies of public provision is not a reason to force them to do so.

Tim adds: Fair point on the armour. Also a fair point that if people are voluntarily getting together to solve a problem like the lifeboats there’s no reason to force them to hire a group of bureaucrats to help them do so.

Posted by: Owen Barder | Jun 9, 2005 3:50:30 PM

what does him being fat have to do with it?

Posted by: Rodrigo | Jun 9, 2005 5:26:47 PM

johnb: Jews couldn't flee the Holocaust because when it started they were all effectively prisoners. They could flee beforehand, but that's not "fleeing the holocaust", is it? Sadly, most of those who fled beforehand went only as far as France or The Netherlands or other nearby countries, and so perished too.

Posted by: dearieme | Jun 9, 2005 6:40:50 PM

Still not clear what the problem is. You wouldn't need to hire a bunch of bureaucrats. The Government could give the RNLI some money - presumably in the form a grant from the Dept of Transport or the Maritime and Coastguard Agency - without employing any additional staff. It would take one relatively junior civil servant about a half a day a year to administer such a grant.

Why bother? How about: to save the time and effort of the people who give up their time to collect money for RNLI? Collecting money by rattling tins is a very time consuming, labour intensive business - all of which is given free, but is nonetheless a cost to society.

I can't see the point of arranging our affairs to make people spend their time collecting money for something that we all agree should be provided collectively. I gather that the RNLI is pretty efficient, but there must be some overhead costs from this fundraising, such as the costs of tins, flags, badges, leaflets, postage etc; and there must be quite a bit of counting of money, bank charges, accountants and so on as the money is collected, accounted for, and fed back to headquarters - all of which we could save if we just given RNLI an annual cheque.

Insisting that we should raise the money from voluntary donations just because we can seems like putting ideology ahead of common sense to me.

Posted by: Owen Barder | Jun 9, 2005 8:17:35 PM

Sure, Owen; anyone can see that nationalising the RNLI would make it more efficient.

Posted by: HJ | Jun 10, 2005 6:16:35 AM

It’s a kind of jealousy. To chappies like Hattersley human goodness can never be tolerated in a spontaneous or volunteerist form, least of all when it springs from the politically unaware. It must first be gathered up by the state and filtered upwards through a hierarchy in which each level is populated by a tax-grasping army of the grey and self-important ("But what proportion of these lifeboat persons are women? Gay? Muslim? We need to know. This is public money we’re talking about. And what about targets? We need lots of targets if we’re to control funding properly.") before being cascaded back down to the common good, again picking up bureaucratic dross through each stage of the descent. The entire process is to be overseen by the Hattersley types and thus they feel vindicated in the power of their all-seeing compassion. And thus the Machine State filters out all human warmth and kills true sociability. And all for the sake of fat politicians' egos.

Posted by: HJ | Jun 10, 2005 6:32:31 AM

Owen, the Ozzies have a word for people like you: a nong. Don't be a nong. Please. It's distressing. Writing sentences like, "I can't see the point of arranging our affairs to make people spend their time collecting money for something that we all agree should be provided collectively," is the act of a nong. It's like writing, "I don't see why why social convention forces us all to breathe individually when if oxygen was doled out by a gang of useless collectivist fucking nongs like me it would save a lot of time and effort. OK, we'd all suffocate, but it's the principle of the thing."

Posted by: David Gillies | Jun 10, 2005 8:45:06 AM


They could.
They wouldn't.
They'd have to account for exactly how that public money was spent. They'd have to be regularly auditted and reviewed (by OfRescue?) to prove that they are meeting all required central targets. Parties would use funding of the RNLI as a political tool in elections. The RNLI would have to meet extra diversity targets and wastebin allocation regulations. Any money not spent by the end of the Financial Year would be removed from the pot, and the RNLI would have to justify their budget for the next year (after all, they didn't need as much as their bid in the previous year so why do they need that much this year?). You'd see funky new IT systems every March as they lunge to spend the "underspend".
Extra staff would be needed to cope with the financial requirements. More staff to ensure that commercial practice meets the government requirements.

I've spent too long working with public money ...

Posted by: Andy Cooke | Jun 10, 2005 10:05:48 AM

So how many black bereaved disabled lesbians did the RNLI save last year?

Posted by: Rob Read | Jun 10, 2005 3:48:18 PM

Do you people really not understand the difference between nationalising something and giving it a grant?

There are plenty of grants from the public sector to private bodies that do not impose a burden either on the government or on the recipient.

Incidentally, in my experience it is the loony right, not the loony left, that imposes the most nugatory work on the public sector to try to prove that the money has been well spent (arguably, with the aim of protecting the interest of the taxpayer).

Posted by: Owen Barder | Jun 10, 2005 6:38:27 PM

The RNLI doesn’t want a grant. Want. Hatters isn’t addressing the wants of the RNLI (he is hardly qualified to do so) but those of the state control freaks who can’t bear to see any humanitarian function lying beyond their grasp. It undermines their sense of moral authority.

As he who pays the piper calls the tune, so:

"Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state." (Benito ‘Roy’ Mussolini)

Hatters is a most peculiar chap. Elsewhere, he has spoken approvingly thus:

'At last a member of the government has described the "state" - which is no more than the collective will of the people - as "a force for good"’

So there we have it: the state as the "collective will" of the people. Not even Parliament notice, but the state. He venerates the rule of the Machine (so long as fellows like him sit at the control panel) and considers it a "force" for good.

It’s sobering to recall that in the days of Old Labour he was regarded as a moderate.

Posted by: HJ | Jun 11, 2005 6:47:27 AM