Sunday, 28 December 2014

For display purposes only - please do not touch

Little Britain, the Hermit Kingdom

North Korea and Ukip. Are they by any chance related? I mean:
Of course, there are differences:

Friday, 26 December 2014

Weather alert

According to my newsreader:

All together, now...
Watch out where the huskies go,
and don't you eat that yellow snow.

Although in Wales, it's probably the corgis we should blame...

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Jeux avec frontières

Some 18-year-old technology students at a Kent school have created a free Android game called UKIK:
UKIK has you playing as Nicholas Fromage as he kicks stereotypes of immigrants off the white cliffs of Dover and into the sea.

You tap the screen to power up your kick, and tap again in order to release, then watch as the immigrant you kicked sails through the air.

There are three measurements for your kick in the game. Distance and Score are obvious ones, while the third is "UK Economy Down," which is measured in a rising percentage.

More telling of the game's political slant is what the Score measurement was before an update saw it changed - it measured Racism.
Pocket Gamer

The real Monsieur Fromage, who was quick to remind everybody that he is 'well known for having a sense of humour', warned that the game crossed the line between harmless everyday banter about 'poofters', 'Chinky birds' and hunting peasants and causing real offence to members of Britain's oppressed Ukip-voting minority.

If only we could return those innocent, wholesomely funny, Ukip-friendly days the 1970's when avuncular TV presenters like Stuart Hall (currently residing at Her Majesty's pleasure in Wymott prison, Lancashire) had us all in stitches, at least when he wasn't too busy copping a feel off some dolly bird who was, frankly, asking for it.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Only kidding

Friday's Argus featured a Your Interview with Richard Robinson.
We would like to clarify that the quote "I have become increasingly convinced that we are heading for a disastrous confrontation and that the 21st century will be remembered for a terrible war between mankind and goats" was a reader question and not a response from Mr Robinson.
The next paragraph: "People often underestimate how dangerous a goat can be - I personally know six people who have become severely injured by goats and the annual death toll racked up by goats is over 2,000,000", is also a reader question and not a response from Mr Robinson.
The Argus is happy to correct this and would apologise for the error.
That has to be my personal favourite from Poynter's selection of the best media errors and corrections of 2014

I was also grateful to Poynter's for reassuring me that reports of the death of satire have been greatly exaggerated, with this wonderfully tongue-in-cheek non-apology from the Pan- Arabia Enquirer to all those lovely, lovely people at Bell Pottinger turd-polishers public relations:
Yesterday we received a complaint about one of our articles and subsequently removed it from the Pan-Arabia Enquirer website. Following on from this, we would like to offer our apologies to PR firm Bell Pottinger for a satirical story that suggested that it had won the account to representing the Islamic State. Although the article was entirely in jest, we feel we must apologise for any sullying of the name of a company whose standing in the international community is reflected in a client list that has included the likes of Augusto Pinochet and the government of Bahrain. Oh, and the government of Sri Lanka. And Rolf Harris.
That's got an economical poetic justice to it, reminiscent of the climactic scene from that old courtroom drama QBVII, where (spoiler alert) a respected doctor, who's been suing for defamation, but turns out to have spent his war performing Josef Mengele-style operations on prisoners in Nazi concentration camps, is awarded one derisory half-penny for damage to his "good name." Excellent stuff.


Friday, 19 December 2014

Non-existence fails to dent Santa rally

Despite a Norfolk vicar's shocking attempt to murder the Confidence Fairy by revealing to the assembled boys and girls at a school carol concert that Father Christmas isn't real, Santa has continued to rally in Asian markets.

In other news, market analyst Margaret McPhee has traumatised an audience of young traders by revealing the continuing non-existence of profitability at seasonal gift-deliver, Amazon. She was quick to apologise for her 'off-the-cuff remarks,' after being heavily criticised for 'destroying the innocence, fun and magic of disruptive innovation.'

Thursday, 18 December 2014

USA 1, UK 0

In the US, an elected politician comes right out and blasts the crooks on Wall Street for cronyism, buying influence and trying to block measures intended to stop them syphoning off yet more trillions of public money when their next reckless gamble goes wrong, telling them they should have been broken into pieces.

In the UK, some whiny banker, attached to a failed and bailed bank, posts a windy, rambling screed* about how a comedian, (whose radical schtick amounts to telling people not to bother voting because the revolution will arrive through some unspecified process involving fairy dust and magical thinking),** spoiled his lunch by trying to gatecrash a City boardroom and becomes a viral media sensation to our fawning press.

I'd exchange Russell Brand for Elizabeth Warren any day, although I suppose if we have to keep Brand, in lieu of our elected representatives telling it like it is, he might eventually make enough bankers miss their lunches to starve the buggers out.

As for rising populist stars who somebody actually voted for, they've got Elizabeth Warren speaking truth to power and we've got Nigel Farage, that City alumnus and gurning pillock in clown trousers, tripping over himself in his desperate rush to scapegoat anyone but the real culprits for the mess we're in.

Score one for the Land of the Free.

*Another Angry Voice, does a pretty good job of fisking this rambling, self-pitying rant although, IMHO, he lets the banker off way too lightly when it comes to the most outrageous piece of bullshit, the claim that 'Of all the profligate pissing away of public money that goes on in this country, the only instance where the public are actually going to get their money back [i.e. by selling off the failed and bailed Royal Bank of Scotland] seems an odd target for your ire.'

If the best use of public money you can think of is wasting billions bailing out failed financial institutions, thus tanking the rest of  the economy and screwing up millions of peoples' lives for years to come, with the vague promise of making some of the money back at some point in the future, if market conditions are favourable, you're an idiot, although not as big an idiot as the uncritical churnalists who reprinted this rubbish as a 'hilarious' vindication of Britain's crappiest bank.

** Although Chris would no doubt point out that I'm falling into the trap of managerialist ideology in holding out for a hero...

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

France's gathering gloom

 According to a recent YouGov poll, France is the northern European country that cares least about Christmas. This might reflect the state of the French economy, or cultural attitudes, (perhaps a more generalised negativity, sang froid or hauteur), or maybe the pollsters' sample just happened to include a more-than-averagely grumpy subset of the population - I really don't know. But Christmas itself isn't all joy to the world:
Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now...

Christmas marks a cardinal point in the worship of a sacrificial death-and-rebirth deity, whose cult thrived when transplanted to latitudes where all of nature seems to die in Winter and is re-born in Spring and where millennia of pre-Christian worship already reflected the decline and renewal of the life-giving sun. Although Christmas day and the winter solstice don't exactly coincide any more, 'December 25th was the date of the winter solstice in the calendar Julius Caesar devised for Rome in 46BC.'

You don't just sing about gathering gloom at this time of year, you can still feel it all around, as the daylight shrinks and the darkness reaches its greatest extent. Even a modern, industrial society with electric lighting, central heating and supermarkets full of imported satsumas from sunnier places can't quite keep the literal gloom at bay.

Given the connection between Christmas and the winter solstice, I'm not that interested in which northern European countries are more or less likely to enter into the spirit of Christmas. I'd be more interested to see whether or not there's any correlation between Christmas enthusiasm and the prevalence, or lack of, darkness and cold at this time of year.

Do northern Europeans (and people in the higher latitudes of North America) get more excited about Christmas than people who live in the southern hemisphere, or at latitudes where the great division isn't between cold, dark winter and light, warm summer, but between the dry and rainy seasons? Is a Christmas barbie on Bondi Beach or Copacabana less of a big deal than the massive knees-up Europeans invented to brighten up their bleak midwinters? Or is Christmas now so well-established, culturally and commercially, that it thrives when transplanted to any latitude? Maybe the only hint of darkness it now needs comes on Black Friday.

I dunno or, as the French would put it, *shrug*.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Gift idea from Satan's grotto

One of the most stressful aspects of the festive season is finding that special present for that special someone. Fortunately, the perfect present is just a click away on Apple's App Store, at least if that special someone in your life is an aspiring Ukip parliamentary candidate.

Yes, Papers, Please, the border guard simulator, is now available for iPad. Imagine that special person's joy at being able to make all those shifty foreigners stand in line to be frisked, interrogated, scanned, processed and, most thrillingly of all, denied entry. Imagine the heart-warming scene on Christmas morning, watching his tiny little heart melt, his sallow cheeks flush with anticipation and his piggy, hate-filled eyes swim with tears of gratitude.

Unfortunately, I'm fresh out of good present ideas for for normal people. Sorry.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Harry Potter and the prisoner of Jersey

The most interesting historical parallel of my week came from the barrister Harry Potter,* who presents the BBC documentary series, The Strange Case of the Law. He was talking about the fallout from Oliver Cromwell's unsuccessful attempt to try the Leveller, John Lilburne, for sedition in 1649.

Lilburne had mounted his own defence with great skill and had managed to get himself acquitted, much to Cromwell's annoyance. To spare itself the embarrassment of further legal defeats, Cromwell's government had Lilburne seized and whisked away to the extra-territorial stronghold of Mount Orgueil Castle in Jersey, where legal niceties like habeas corpus didn't apply, leading Potter to call Jersey 'Oliver Cromwell's Guantánamo Bay.'

It's an interesting parallel, given the current disclosures about the CIA's use of extraordinary rendition  to circumvent legal protections (along with the absence of disclosure about alleged British complicity).

Then and now, the rule of law matters and sneakily moving the goalposts to get the result you want is an abuse of that important principle, whether the state is offshoring torture or re-defining criminal suspects, or prisoners of war as "unlawful combatants" in order to do things like holding them  incommunicado, indefinitely and denying them access to counsel.

I'm left wondering whether this sort of authoritarianism by stealth is the sort of gambit which particularly appeals to would-be tyrants working in relatively open societies with rhetorical, or theoretical committments to liberty, who are made uncomfortable by the scrutiny that such openness brings. The Land of the Free has its First Amendment and the English Commonwealth styled itself a champion of liberty and was born in the wake of a national upheaval which had seen the collapse of censorship and an explosion of cheap pamphlets voicing all sorts of heterodox opinions.

Maybe some form of out-of-sight-out-of-mind external rendition is the way to go for authoritarians governing relatively open societies, who can't just clamp down directly, unlike autocrats with no pretentions to liberty, who could be sure that people who knew what was good for them wouldn't make too much fuss about other people being locked up the Lubyanka, the Špilberk or Carabanchel and had no need of a Guantánamo, or Devil's Island, with internal exile to Siberia just a few days away by unheated cattle truck.

Extra-territorial rendition from from a society  that claims to be free and open is a form of hypocrisy, which you might see as a sort of back-handed compliment to the freedoms that The War Against Terror is ostensibly being fought to uphold (although I'm guessing that this thought didn't come as much of a comfort to Liburne in his damp prison cell on Jersey, or to the recipients of enhanced interrogation techniques in their far-off legal black holes). As one cheese-eating surrender monkey steadfast ally in The War Against Terror once more or less wrote, hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

*I almost feel as if I should apologise for the title of this blog post - I couldn't resist, but the poor guy must be sick to the back teeth with all the lame wizardry gags he must have had to put up with to ever since J K Rowling linked his perfectly ordinary name with young adult fiction's biggest ever mega-brand.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Christ on a bike

The last thing I’ll say for the people that don’t believe in cycling – the cynics and the skeptics. I’m sorry for you. I’m sorry you can’t dream big. And I’m sorry you don’t believe in miracles. But this is one hell of a race. This is a great sporting event, and you should believe
From Lance Armstrong's more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger sermon to those poor benighted haters who disbelieved in the cycling miracles he wrought by faith alone (110% positively, definitely, absolutely without any form of pharmacological assistance whatsoever). Lifted from a great post at Salty Current, which perfectly nails the corrosive effect of militant faitheism on public discourse:
The most aggravating aspect of Armstrong’s project was his promotion of faith in faith and celebration of the faithful identity. He and the cycling big wigs consistently worked to create a community of the faithful that would exclude and shun doubters. He flattered his more credulous fans with the notion that they were better people for promoting Hope and Belief. While the believers were in reality the overwhelming majority, they were sold an image of themselves as members of a small elite whose gift of spirit set them apart from the cynical, faithless masses...
...More generally, skeptics were castigated in the traditional way: contrasted with the virtuous faithful, they were portrayed as mean, callous, lesser people who lacked the life-affirming spark of faith. 
The take-out from Demagoguery for Dummies seems to be that you gotta have faith (or, rather, your followers gotta have it). Get that bit right and dealing with impertinent critics is a breeze - here are some bullet points for aspiring Machiavellians:
  • Make your evidence-lite assertions loudly, confidently and often
  • If anybody questions those assertions or, heaven forbid, tries to engage with the evidence, point out that the critic must be some sort of small-minded, out-of-touch nitpicker. 
  • Always remember to keep on repeating how flawed your faithless critics are, in order to avoid getting bogged down in the (lack of) evidence behind your own assertions (attack is the best form of defence).
Follow these rules and, with any luck, you'll never need to do anything as embarrassing or uncomfortable as having a fact-based discussion.

That's not to say that most people of (usually confused) faith aren't perfectly honest, harmless, guileless and even benign. It's when it gets out into the public sphere and people with power, or people with something to hide, use it to shut down evidence-based argument that faith goes really toxic.

Faith might be the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, the soul of soulless conditions and the opium of the people, but it's also the weapon of choice for cheats, con-artists, demagogues and the peddlers of quack remedies. Militant faitheist obfuscation makes the strong stronger and the crooked more comfortable.

Evidence is the democratic weapon you can fight back with, if only you can get your hands on it.

Monday, 8 December 2014

British establishment destroys satire

When members of the Chinese establishment get upset at being mocked, they task the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television with delivering some stupidly impossible target like stopping everybody in China from making puns.

Here in Britain, it looks as if our own Very Important People have a subtler, more cunning, plan for disarming critics by adopting what I've just decided to call the Tom Lehrer Gambit, named for the great man's famous observation that 'Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.'

How else to explain this weekend's headlines? 'House of Lords refused budget cut as it would mean cheaper Champagne' or 'Nigel Farage blames late arrival at his own Ukip event on immigrants?' These headlines belong in The Daily Mash, not "straight" media outlets.

This can only be part of a deliberate media strategy - instead of ordering somebody else to ban puns, members of the British establishment* are clearly trying to break satire itself by putting themselves beyond parody.

At this rate, I give the satirists of The Daily Mash, Have I Got News for You and The News Quiz six months before competition from the real home lives of the rich and famous puts them out of business.

* Of which Farage is a comfortably-off member, no matter how often he tries to deny it

Friday, 5 December 2014

All the fun of the fair

There may trouble ahead (specifically an 'utterly terrifying' 'hulking great mountain of pain') but, according to my newsreader, there will also be a 2.2% increase in fun and frolics in the shape of railway-based fairs. It doesn't say whether the rides, candy floss and hot dogs will  be confined to station concourses, or whether there will be actual in-train entertainment. I suspect it's the former, on the grounds that it's hard enough finding space for a normal-sized piece of luggage on a Virgin Pendolino, let alone a coconut shy.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Did civilization splutter to a halt in the '70s?

Now, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite. A report by Credit Suisse this October found that the richest 1 per cent of humans own half the world’s assets ... When wealth accumulates so spectacularly by doing nothing, there is less impetus to invest in genuine innovation.
Michael Hanlon thinks that innovation 'spluttered to a halt more than 40 years ago' and pins at least some of the blame on the direction the political economy has taken since the end of the post-war boom. We've sort of been here before with David Graeber's Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit. Like Gaeber, Hanlon also blames the de-funding of public research:
During the Golden Quarter, we saw a boom in public spending on research and innovation. The taxpayers of Europe, the US and elsewhere replaced the great 19th‑century venture capitalists. And so we find that nearly all the advances of this period came either from tax-funded universities or from popular movements. The first electronic computers came not from the labs of IBM but from the universities of Manchester and Pennsylvania. 
Graeber qualified this by noting that:
 ...the United States never did abandon gigantic, government-controlled schemes of technological development. Mainly, they just shifted to military research.
If  Hanlon's right and Graeber's qualification also stands, maybe the question is how come no people longer seem to be getting obvious trickle-down benefits from the military-industrial complex (jets, radar, ARPANET), that we got in the boom years?

Graeber and Hanlon also agree that dreaming big is off the agenda, due to the lack of space for blue-skies thinking, intellectual timidity and risk aversion:
Those thinkers most likely to make a conceptual breakthrough are the least likely to receive funding, and, if breakthroughs occur, they are not likely to find anyone willing to follow up on their most daring implications. [Graeber]
Could it be that the missing part of the jigsaw is our attitude towards risk? Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as the saying goes.[Hanlon]
And they both conclude that things could have been / could be so much better:
For earlier generations, many science fiction fantasies had been brought into being. Those who grew up at the turn of the century reading Jules Verne or H.G. Wells imagined the world of, say, 1960 with flying machines, rocket ships, submarines, radio, and television—and that was pretty much what they got. If it wasn’t unrealistic in 1900 to dream of men traveling to the moon, then why was it unrealistic in the sixties to dream of jet-packs and robot laundry-maids?[Graeber]

If the pace of change had continued, we could be living in a world where Alzheimer’s was treatable, where clean nuclear power had ended the threat of climate change, where the brilliance of genetics was used to bring the benefits of cheap and healthy food to the bottom billion, and where cancer really was on the back foot.[Hanlon] 
There's obviously a huge counter-factual going on here and there's only so far you can go in speculating about discoveries and innovations that don't actually exist in our timeline. Maybe some of the progress Hanlon and Graeber think we  missed out on is down to purely technical limitations and nothing to do with priorities and political economy.

But I'm still left wondering how much better the world might be, if the trillions captured by vested interests for socially useless speculation and rent-seeking were available for real-world innovation and whether, if the innovation motor really has stalled, anybody has any jump leads.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

The first rule of Immigration Club

You don't have to be the sharpest tool in the box to realise that the oppressed Ukip martyr's whine of "we're not allowed to talk about immigration, because political correctness," is bullshit, now that any fool with ears can hear the non-stop cacophony of high-profile politicians competing to out-brag each other about how tough they'd be on migrants. If you think the subject's being ignored, you just haven't been paying attention. A small club of noisy, professional immigration bores now dominates the discussion monologue.

The first rule of Immigration Club is: You do not stop talking about Immigration Club.

Since we're now not allowed not to talk about immigration, is there anything new or interesting to be said? Well, things did recently get quite interesting with the hint of a possible, partial solution to the seeming paradox of Schrödinger’s Immigrant. Just as Schrödinger’s Cat exists in a state of being both alive and dead at the same time, Schrödinger’s immigrant exists in a state of both lazing around on benefits whilst simultaneously being out there stealing British jobs.

There's still no convincing solution to the paradox in terms of a general theory of immigration. Theoretically, foreign migrants might be differentially better at blagging their way onto benefits to which they're not entitled than their British-born peers, or more skillful at optimising their work shift patterns to accommodate regular signing on, or getting their mates to sign on in their place, or some other fiddle.

But I'm not aware of any actual evidence to back up this hypothesis, (the Department of Work and Pensions' own figures don't seem to back it up), nor does it seem likely that newcomers for whom English is a second language would be any better at outwitting the UK's institutionally sceptical benefits bureaucracy than native English speakers who've had a lifetime's experience of UK institutions. And, given that fraud accounts for about one per cent of the total annual benefits and tax credits spend (probably less than a fifth of the cost of benefits which people are entitled to, but which go unclaimed), it seems that neither Brits nor migrants are much good at gaming the system, anyway.

But, in terms of the special theory of immigration (that's EU immigration to you), there's a possible solution to the paradox. You can be both in work and claiming benefits if they're the sort of  in-work benefits some politicians are now keen to stop EU migrants getting. An EU migrant worker or self-employed person who's here legally and has passed the EU's "habitual residence test" and the controversial, additional "right to reside" test imposed by the UK government, could be entitled to some in-work benefits, thus becoming that oxymoronic demon of the Ukip imagination, the benefit-scrounger-cum-job-stealer.

Of course, a cohort of low-paid people who are working here legally and have passed the appropriate residency tests getting their wages topped up, just like low-paid Brits, hardly adds up to the shocking blank cheques for illegal foreign scroungers conjured up by Daily Mail migrant scare headlines, but maybe in-work benefits might be a problem, with some element of unfairness in terms of people who haven't contributed gaining a benefit, or with people being incentivised to take low-paid jobs that might otherwise go to British nationals.

For contributory benefits, like Contributory Job Seekers' Allowance and Incapacity Benefit, the problem is self-limiting - if you haven't contributed, you can't claim. No problem. But there are quite a few non-contributory benefits  which might be acting as a draw.

If it is a problem, how big is it? Anoosh Chakelian in the Staggers gives some perspective:
The latest DWP figures from 2014 show that there are 1.73m EU nationals working in the UK, equal to 5.7 per cent of all people in work... ...Less than 5 per cent of EU migrants are claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance, while less than 10 per cent are claiming other DWP working-age benefits.
So we're talking about approximately 173,000 Schrödinger’s immigrants. Or less than half a per cent of the UK's working-age population of something like 38 million. Even if the draw of in-work benefits is a problem (and if it is, does it outweigh the economic benefit of those people coming here, working, spending and paying taxes?), it's clearly not a very big one.

But maybe , even if it's not a big problem, it's a a matter of fundamental unfairness - a few of them can come here and claim in-work benefits, but we can't go there and do the same. Well, it seems to be a bit more complicated than that:
Is the UK benefits system more generous than those in other EU countries?

The systems are very diverse, so comparisons are difficult.

In terms of total spending on social security per inhabitant, the UK does not rank highest...

 ...In the UK, a bigger portion of welfare is funded by the state than is the case in Poland, France, Germany or the Netherlands. In those countries, more is funded from individual and employer contributions. In other words, more benefits are linked to previous earnings.

On the other hand, in several countries, including the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and Denmark, the share of state funding is higher than in the UK.

In Germany, there is a two-tier welfare system - part based on contributions, part non-contributory. An EU migrant made jobless in Germany would get up to 70% of current salary in the first year of unemployment. After that, the unemployed go onto a non-contributory system called Hartz IV. Germany has objected to paying those benefits to EU migrants who have not made sufficient contributions through work. But that policy has been challenged in the courts.

 In Spain, welfare payments depend to a large extent on where you live as payments are handled regionally, rather than centrally. In Madrid there is a two-year residency test for RMI, which is paid to unemployed jobseekers. The benefits system in the Basque Country is rather less restrictive.

In Bulgaria, the EU's poorest country, you do not qualify for unemployment benefit unless you have been working for at least nine of the last 15 months.
BBC News Q & A

It's interestingly counter- intuitive that we Anglo-Saxon free marketeers have a more statist approach to welfare than those bastions of the European social model, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Which, in turn, raises another interesting question.

Conventional wisdom has it that, even stripping out the effects of the the catastrophically mismanaged Euro, we in Britain enjoy a lower unemployment rate than the European average because of our "free market" "flexible" approach to labour.  Or is part of our relatively low unemployment down to the unacknowledged effect of our decidedly un-free market decision to provide state subsidies for low-wage jobs that wouldn't be viable for either employers or employees in an actual free market? I don't know the answer and there are other factors in play (such as wages being supplemented via the unarguably free market mechanism of piling on household debt, which has quadrupled since 1990), but it's an interesting possibility that behind the curtain of all that free market rhetoric may sit a Central Planning Wizard.

Could Iain Duncan Smith be the hapless Wizard of Oz, frantically pulling the levers which maintain the illusion of a flexible labour market, built on free market principles? Could that rough beast, Universal Credit, currently slouching towards Manchester to be born, mark the nativity of a conservative project to keep the ailing free market alive with the life-support of a Citizens' Basic Income?

And talking of free markets paradoxes, what's with these these Thatcherite free-marketeers objecting to the free movement of labour? "We voted for a free trade area, not a political union, " they complain, but it's not much of a free trade area when people who want to move around it to work are being held back by barriers of red tape being thrown up by bureaucrats at the behest of "small-state, free market " politicians.

So the subject does throw up a few interesting surprises, complexities and paradoxes. These might not not get us very far, but they make a change from yet another iteration of the simple, stupid solutions to non-problems that are all members of the Immigration Club ever want to talk about.

My working hypothesis is that they're  deliberately bullshitting in order to crowd more important issues off the agenda - like, for example, the National Health Service (whether or not Nigel Farage secretly wants to privatise it, his health policy shows all the signs of having been made up on the back of one of his fag packets, during one those rare five minutes he spends not blaming foreigners for everything). Or the tax evaders and avoiders, who game around £32 billion out of the system, by the HMRC's own conservative estimate, an exclusive scroungers' club which Nigel was rather keen to join at one point. Sadly for Nige, he flunked his membership application because, despite having been tutored in the City of London, the world's tax avoidance capital, he was too dumb to set up his own offshore tax-avoidance scheme properly.

Immigration Club may generate a lot of noise, but they're basically all mouth and unfortunate trousers. Or, like Mr Shakespeare said:
...It is a tale.
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Anyway, that's more enough of taking Immigration Club seriously, so it's time to end by winding its members up with a bit of cognitive dissonance. Remember when the the pro-Ukip Nick Griffin's British National Party fell flat on its serially incompetent collective face by trying to evoke our pre-immigration Finest Hour with a picture of a Spitfire of 303 (Polish) Squadron on one of its anti-immigration posters, when as any fule kno, their fellow fascists flew Stukas and things (unsurprisingly, xenophobes and Polish aeroplanes don't mix very well)? I'm indebted to Czech Economist, Tomáš Prouza for adding a Hurricane to our Battle of Britain collection, by tweeting a topical reminder of how Czech migrants, whose papers may well not have been in order, along with a bunch of Poles, helped the the Brits to kick Reichsmarschall Göring's arse: