Number of the Month

May  2007

Pompous paradigm pushing

Probably most of us have a word that makes us reach for our metaphorical revolvers. For Göring  (allegedly) it was “culture”. For your bending author it is “paradigm” which is nearly always a forewarning that someone is attempting to pull the wool over your eyes. So when someone uses it eight times in a short article, the old trigger finger gets a bit too itchy to bear. When that someone is a politician writing in The Times the itch becomes a tic. For those who only understand English here is a brief translation:

Look at me and how clever I am. I know all these long words and some are not even in the dictionary. I also read books by people with difficult foreign-sounding names, such as Kuhn. We all now agree that Marxism is dead and we all believe in free markets. We New Conservatives, however, have come up with two new and original ideas. The first is that the way people live their lives is more important than systems of economic management. The second is that direct control by central government is not necessarily the best way to improve people’s lives. Only Dave knows this.


One man’s legacy

Stand not on the order of your going, but go at once.
Lady Macbeth 

 It is nothing less than quite amazing that one man has wrought so many changes in a mere decade. It is also extraordinary how important numbers have become, nearly all of them wrong, but in the media the main product of the Blair translation to a higher plane is millions of words. There have been pages of articles, special supplements and endless correspondence. Some writers even claim that he made no difference. On the contrary, he has made a bigger change to his nation than any other leader who employed non-violent means. Ourselves ten years ago would not recognise the British society of today.

Blair suffered from the Genesis Delusion. He thought he merely had to say “Let there be X” and there would be X. He never quite cottoned on to the truth of Bismarck’s dictum that “Politics is the art of the possible.” It is the inevitable outcome of electing a leader who has never run anything, but no doubt the British will do it again. In turn this is the inevitable outcome of the youth and celebrity culture.

The Disunited Kingdom

Hushing up the abandonment of sovereignty now provides a major part of government activity. All but the most trivial of Government actions originate in committee rooms in Brussels; yet ministers strenuously defend indefensible policies as if they were their own. For example, water providers are harangued for neglecting infrastructure, while they are required to comply with absurd and expensive EU directives. Unelected regional councils exert shadowy control, while unelected officials enforce the shackling of democratic local government.

One of the characteristics of this regime has been its utter contempt for the Parliamentary process. Sofa government leaves no audit trail and produces uninformed decisions. Serious politicians agonised about the West Lothian question; Blair just ignored it and consequently left a running sore in the body politic, encouraging Scots separatists to further extremes while building up resentment among the English.

He might have got away with it if he had demonstrated any degree of competence. Weak negotiating skills have been the hallmark of Government activity, with everyone from the EU diktatorialists  to our own medical unions taking us for a ride. The Blair ritual of negotiation has become the national one. It requires a great show of initial bravado with declarations of how you are not going to give way, followed by  a coda demonstrating why giving way was only rational and what you really wanted to do all the time. The classical example was over Britain’s increased contribution to the EU spending spree. One of Blair’s greatest failures, however, is in not standing up to the man next door. Brown has scuppered many genuine attempts at reform, while continually extending his Treasury empire.

Fraud has become endemic. Ten years ago, for example, electoral fraud was unknown in Britain. Widespread voting fraud is now acknowledged, all just to gerrymander a few more votes for the governing party.

The relentless appetite

The most defining characteristic of the regime is its insatiable hunger for numbers. There is no aspect of the culture that has not been sacrificed to it. The statistics industry is the most prolific of modern times. A significant proportion of the working population is engaged in fiddling the figures, in healthcare, education and policing, just to name the most obvious cases. The very existence of targets and league tables ensures that the numbers that go into them bear no resemblance to reality. Numerical falsehood has never been more profitable.

This is also the new age of The Snoopers. The post war Labour Government was thrown out largely because of Winston Churchill’s successful campaign against The Snoopers, but those were the days when we had real opposition. The Snoopers are just one example of a whole new swathe of wage parasites who are sucking the life out of a wilting economy, while a diminishing band of wealth creators struggle to keep it going.

The surveillance society

It has become a cliché that Orwell wrote a warning but Blair read it as an instruction manual. Pro rata for population Britain has more surveillance cameras than any other country in the world. Miniature hidden cameras are now in place to detect “envirocrime” – yet another Orwellism. A new parasitic army of anti-smoking snoopers will be armed with digital cameras. There are now over 250 justifications for officials to intrude forcefully on an Englishman’s home, which was so recently his castle.

Education, education, education

What were once supposed to be the happiest days of our lives have now become a nightmare for teachers and children alike – all tests and preparation-for-tests to feed the relentless appetite. The state is now building giant child-processing units without even a playground to relieve the monotony. Functional illiteracy and innumeracy are rife among those emerging from this nightmare. Increasing numbers are opting out to form gangs of feral youth that further blight the British experience. Academic standards in school and university exams have reached a farcical low. Apart from the cultural damage, it is slow economic suicide.

The fear of old age

The inhumanity with which New Labour treats the young is only exceeded by its savagery towards the old. Elderly people live in a state of permanent anxiety. They experience a rate of increase of cost of living that greatly exceeds the fraudulent index used by the Government so, however they start out, they experience a steady annual decline in their standard of living. The five-billion-a-year pensions raid was one of the most truly wicked acts of any government in history. People who made sacrifices to ease their life’s end have had their savings simply stolen. They look with envy at those who fecklessly spent all their income having a good time. It is a dreadful cliché to apply the epithet “obscene” to a sum of money, but what other term is adequate for the Prime Minister’s pension fund? There has been nothing like it since the days of the robber barons of the Rhine. Less fortunate pensioners dread that final illness, which the Government will exploit to take away their savings and then their homes. They face ending their lives in ghastly “care” homes, where if they are lucky they will only be neglected and not bullied or starved. Their spouses are left stranded and unwanted. The poorest of all are trapped in the serpentine coils of the Means Test.

The fear of being ill

Political correctness rules. Smoking is banned on the basis of falsified data about imaginary deaths, while filthy hospital lavatories are tolerated, condemning thousands of real people to horrible deaths. Patients suffer the indignity of mixed-sex wards and inedible food. A hospital bed is now one of the most dangerous places to be in Britain. Now one of the biggest fears is falling ill out of hours. A ramshackle and astonishingly expensive system, supposed to replace the traditional doctor’s visit, is fraught with delay and failure.

The fear of crime

Only 2.5% of police are assigned to “response duties”.  The rest spend their time filling in forms. To meet their numerical targets they pick on soft targets and neglect serious but more difficult crimes. Criminals roam the country stealing at will whatever they fancy. Virtually no one bothers to report a crime any more, unless they need a crime number for insurance purposes, which ensures that crime statistics are total nonsense. Yet they are still trotted out by ministers.


In June 1997 Prescott, Blair’s ever ludicrous deputy, declared: "I will have failed in five years time if there are not many more people using public transport and far fewer journeys by car. It's a tall order, but I urge you to hold me to it." He failed!

Public transport is now so expensive, unreliable and uncomfortable that it is shunned by all except those who have no alternative.


The foot and mouth holocaust is, unbelievably, all but forgotten. As an example of the arrogance and obstinacy of politicians leading to mind boggling cruelty it is unparalleled. Not only did more than 7 million hapless animals go to unnecessary deaths in the most appalling circumstances, but thousands of rural businesses (not only farms but  the likes of hotels and even hot air balloon manufacturers) went to the wall. The most cynical episode of all, however, was the way it was all swept under the carpet, with the connivance of the establishment media, for the sake of Blair’s successful campaign for re-election.


For older Britons one of the most painful experiences of modern life is to see their once proud nation held up to ridicule.

Ten years ago we used to laugh at California as the home of politically correct absurdity.  Now the world laughs at us for the same reason. It is all exemplified by the Australian web site Eye on Britain and its subtitle Stories from a very strange place.

The best you can say in Blair’s favour is that he meant no harm. His crime was insouciance. For a politician he exhibited relatively little malice. Now Brown is another matter entirely.


Don’t mention the war!

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The final betrayal

Sp!ked reports that the Royal Society has changed its motto of over 400 years and replaced it by one that manages to combine utter banality with a sinister ambiguity. The inheritance of Newton, who stood on the shoulders of giants, has passed to dwarfs. No! Lower than dwarfs. Maggots! A certain convocation of politic worms have infiltrated the ailing body of science and are turning it to corruption. The succinct Latin motto summed up the essential scepticism of real science, while the new one is redolent of the new authoritarianism that is the complete reverse.

The new motto is Respect the facts. It prompts the question “Whose facts?” Hitler’s facts? Stalin’s facts? No, May’s facts! Oddly enough, one of the first items posted on Number Watch seven years ago was a commentary on some of May’s facts when he was only a SIR. Will science and humanity ever return to the glory and sanity of 1663? It seems unlikely in these dark days.

Afterthought: It is perhaps salutary to remember that, with the possible exception of Newton, the greatest scientific revolutionary was a humble patents office clerk in Zurich.

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And they wonder why people are cynical about politics

MPs have passed a bill to exclude their expenses from the Freedom of Information Act. There is certainly something special about the author of the bill, one David MacLean.

Stuntman Dave’s New Conservatives have adopted New Labour’s policy of keeping a good academic education as the preserve of the rich. The decision was announced ex cathedra by David Willets (a former grammar schoolboy who sends his children to private school) and endorsed by Dave (Eton and Oxford ). It was done without consulting the membership or even the party’s own much vaunted policy groups. The convoluted logic that Willets employs to provide justification for the decision makes Oliver Letwin (see the opening piece above) sound like the paragon of clarity.

The latest Government con has all the hallmarks of a modern political event. It began with yet another EU directive based on junk science, went through a convoluted process of chaotic horse-trading and ended up as yet another stealth tax on the groaning citizenry. HIPs are a completely irrelevant imposition that will bear down hardest on the increasing numbers who will be forced to sell their homes through financial stress in the coming months. They create a whole new class of non-productive wage parasites. They will, however, help to ensure that Britain plays its full part in the slow economic suicide of Europe .

The Government suspended its war of attrition against small, mainly rural post offices, but renewed it as soon as the local elections were out of the way. Why it hates them so much is not clear. It systematically cut off many of their sources of income (road tax, BBC tax, pension payments etc.) and then forbade them from developing others, so it is not surprising that they are losing money. They are among the last bits of glue holding many small communities together. This lot are not just incompetent, they are evil.

Three cheers, then, for John Kelly and his one man fight against corrupt authoritarianism.

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Apocaholics Anonymous

All number watchers will enjoy this personal account of recent history. When will they ever learn? Thanks to the ever-reliable CCNet for the tip.

Meanwhile, you can rush to join the SCA.


You have to admire the chutzpah

After ten years of disastrous non-policy, Tony Blair has the audacity to start lecturing us on Energy. As we commented on the last energy white paper (Power mad), it was already far too late four years ago. He sums up the situation in the first paragraph, except that is what he should have been saying ten years ago.

What about this for a paragraph?:

As if that were not enough, we are now faced with countries such as Russia, who are prepared to use their energy resources as an instrument of policy. Over ten years I have watched energy policy go from being a relatively quiet backwater to something taking on a strategic importance that could be as crucial to our country’s future as defence. 

You need to pinch yourself to make sure you are not dreaming. That is written by the man who was in charge for ten years and all he was doing was watching. Energy policy was never a quiet backwater – it is the life blood of a modern nation. Everything that has happened and will happen was predicted.

Apart from a load of claptrap about carbon, to justify economic suicide on religious grounds, he has nothing more to say. As we observed four years ago, power cuts are now inevitable. People are going to die. It is not the apocalypse, but it will be damned nasty. Who will take the blame when it happens, probably not the Man of a decade, but whoever is standing when the music stops.



It might have been meant to be irony. If so, it was a little too subtle for this bear of little brain. Nevertheless, in the political sketch in the Telegraph, the adjective brilliant was associated with the proper noun Miliband. There is at least one Englishman who seems to think that the capacity to carry out a simple job of work ought to have something to do with that evaluation. Regular readers of our featured blog might also beg to differ. A further curiosity with this particular story is the determination with which the Telegraph leader writer tries to maintain the fiction that Miliband is peddling his own policy and not acting under the force of draconian fines imposed by the unelected commissars of the EU.

What is the basis on which the media assign the attribute of “intelligence” to certain politicians? Does it happen in other countries? An intelligent politician ought to be able to argue a point with clarity, even if he does not actually believe it himself. It is one of the things they used to teach us at grammar school. On this page above are featured two Conservative (if you will pardon the expression) politicians who singularly fail in this respect, yet they are conventionally labelled as “highly intelligent” by the establishment media (one of them is even nicknamed “Two-brains”). Is there, perhaps, a resonance with post modernist philosophy?

By the way, take note of the second reader’s comment on that editorial:

We should be recycling at the molecular level, thus avoiding all the more tedious cases of hand sorting.
It's called incineration.

In these days of the new religion such commonsense is now regarded as sin.


A man without shame

This is the opening sentence on a contribution by Kenneth Baker to the debate on our great educational disaster:

In the Eighties I introduced radical changes to the education system - the national curriculum, testing, league tables, grant-maintained schools, city technology colleges and delegated budgets.

Before anyone asks, there is nothing wrong with grant-maintained schools with delegated budgets. Your bending author went to one thirty years before Baker introduced them.

But there’s always Boris


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Correspondence Received

read your list of things affected by the so called "Global Warming"...assume you mean due to human activity...and you're just plain NUTS!
Why didn't you throw in roulette wheels going red for a month each year!
You guys simply don't have anything to do with your life...sitting around and hypothecating about climate.  No one can predict mother nature, specially NEC computers.
Mason Bob Werner
Century 21-Pierce Realty
P. O. Box 315
Manitowish Waters, WI 54545
1-623-696-6353 {Cell}
1-800-440-7879 {toll free}
1-715-543-2722 {fax}
[email protected]


The great wi-fi scare

Some readers have noted the silence of Number Watch on this subject. Some scares are so stupid that they are not worth commenting on. Nevertheless, you will still find some publicity seeking professor to lend them credence. There is appropriate comment here.

Footnote: What a silly old cynical electronic engineer your bending author is! This account, pointed out by number watcher Ian Reid, is in the Independent, so it must be right.


Number of the month - one

One is Penny Cambell, whose sad death at the hands of the NHS Out of Hours Service had such a terrible inevitability about it.  Your bending author knows only too well what she experienced during her last hours, having contracted a life threatening condition at a weekend in January. First (and eventually) you are connected to an official, clearly not qualified, whose duty is obviously to persuade you to go away. If you are persistent, you get to talk to a doctor, who is also dissuasive. Eventually, if you are still persistent you allowed to have a visit from a doctor. He arrives, after a delay of several hours, in a chauffeur-driven vehicle, having no drugs and no access to your medical records. Faced with the threat of an NHS hospital your bending author elected for self-medication with antibiotics, so all that had been achieved was a delay of eight hours.

It is not just the inefficiency of the system that astounds you, but the lavishness. Doctors on extra pay are chauffeur-driven over large distances (a neighbour makes a nice bit of extra pocket money as a driver). The GP practices were offered such a derisory sum for providing these services that opting out was clearly indicated. Our local GPs offered to continue Saturday surgery but were turned down by the Primary Care Trust. Who are the Primary Care Trust? No one seems to know, but their directors seem to be non-medical busybodies who talk in New Labour jargon. The BMA is the pits. Not only has it abandoned science in favour of political correctness, it has also abandoned the Hippocratic Oath.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said "Of course, we had to do something about it and we did. And I'm very proud of the fact, and I think that the BMA is as well, that we have got the best GP service in the world." She is notoriously the least competent minister in one of the most incompetent governments in British history.

Incompetence not only wastes billions of pounds, it kills people. Diagnosis remains a difficult art, but embed it in a stupid system and you get stupid, tragic results.

And a bonus one

A happier note! Just as some of us old sceptics were reaching the depths of despair over how traditional science has been swept away by the new eco-religion, along comes one young lady to prove that modern youth are not all just brainwashed passive sponges. Kristen Byrnes is clearly one of the people of the year. Hope springs eternal in the human breast.



Note: The policy of Number Watch has now been amended and financial contributions are solicited to enable it to continue an independent existence.


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