By her actions shall you know @charlottechurch

Welsh choir girl Charlotte Church has declared that she would be happy to pay a higher rate of income tax ‘to protect public services‘:

“I have paid all my tax since I was 12 years old, and I would certainly be happy if the rate was 60% or 70%. I wouldn’t move away, I wouldn’t have an offshore account.

“That would be totally fine, for better infrastructure and public services and more of a Scandinavian model, which I see as far more progressive than the way we are, I would be absolutely fine with that.”

Leaving her utter ignorance of the ‘Scandinavian system’ to one side, if she really is quite happy to pay even more tax on any earnings then all she has to do is send a cheque for whatever amount she deems sufficient to HM Treasury, Unit 1, Horse Guards Road, London SW1A 2HQ and tell them where she would like it spent.

Anyone care to give me odds on her actually doing this? Long, aren’t they?

What Charlotte really means is that she’d prefer it if the government stole that proportion of income from all of us, including her.

Until she puts her hand in her pocket and voluntarily pays tax at a rate she’d impose on me then she is nothing more than yet another left-wing blow hard who refuses to put her money where her mouth is until forced to do so under threat of violence.

General Election 2015

And so the race is run. The dullest election campaign in (my) memory has finally drawn to an end and now the polling stations have opened. The public, those that haven’t died of boredom that is, will now proceed to turn out in their droves (about 6 in 10 or so anyway) at the local school, church or other selected venue over the course of next 15 hours in order to select their preferred lizard. Meanwhile the party leaders will show up at their polling stations at some pre-arranged time so that they can have their picture taken with their partner whilst they cast their ballot before retiring home to chew their finger nails and hope and pray that they have convinced enough people that their party is the right option.

I, for the first time since 1997, will not be bothering. Not bothering to such an extent that this time around I’m not even on the electoral register. Sadly for the local candidates this means that they will be deprived of the opportunity to scan quickly over anything unpleasant I might otherwise have said about them come the count.

If this vacuous election campaign has proved one thing, it is that fixed term parliaments might sound good on paper but are, in reality, a damn stupid idea and should be dispensed with ASAP. Better a short, sharp campaign than one which goes on for 5 years.

THe only thing left to find out is how close the opinion pollsters are to reality – and that is why I intend to spend this evening in a pub giving my liver and kidneys a thorough workout. Perhaps by this time tomorrow I will have a better idea of how extra lube I’m going to need for the next 5 years in order to cope with the depredations the next government inflicts on me.

Musical Interlude: Country to Country 2015 (Sunday)

On this blog we got both kinds of music. We got country *and* western.

From the main stage on Sunday…

Kip Moore – Hey Pretty Girl:

Brantley Gilbert – Bottoms Up:

Jason Aldean – Fly over States:

Lady Antebellum – We Owned The Night

Musical Interlude: Country to Country 2015 (Saturday)

On this blog we got both kinds of music. We got country *and* western.

From the main stage on Saturday…

Brandy Clark – Stripes:

Lee Ann Womack – I Hope You Dance:

Florida Georgia Line – Dirt:

Luke Bryan – Play It Again:

Soror, ave atque vale

For those couldn’t make it or those who could but wish to hear it again, I repeat my short speech below.

—–

Like so many others I first met Chrissie through politics. In my case it was around about the time of the Rally against Debt. No, don’t worry, no-one else remembers it either.

Although we didn’t meet frequently – mostly at her birthday parties or at drinks organised by various political organisations – I, like others, was able to watch via Facebook and Twitter as she blazed a trail through the political youth scene. Her infectious personality, enthusiasm, passion for politics and propensity for alcohol made her many friends and acquaintances across the spectrum – including her beloved Olly. Whilst she may not have agreed with those who held opposing views, she also didn’t resort to the slanging matches indulged in by so many others.

Libertarian in outlook at an age where many, if they take an interest at all, prefer the siren call of socialism, her time at university was to see her grow from someone who thought it was possible to operate inside the political system in to someone who rejected it utterly. It was a privilege to watch as, in such a short space of time, she moved from being a member of the Conservative Party, to briefly (and very publicly in terms of both arrival and departure) flirting with UKIP before eventually rejecting parties in toto. During that time she stood in the local elections (even knowing she wouldn’t win), became Leeds Conservative Future chairwoman, Yorkshire Young Independence vice-chairwoman and founded the local Liberty League branch – managing all of this whilst not stinting on her social life.

A regular at pubs, events and socials in the Westminster area (as well as Players), the political geekery of herself and a few others made the Moggettes a force to be reckoned with at quiz nights run by The Freedom Association.

Always ready to help others, even if all they needed was a sympathetic ear, the premature end to the life of someone who shone so brightly came as a blow to many. An impromptu wake held at The Red Lion just hours after we found out attracted people from London and beyond, lots of apologies for absence and donations to the bar tab from people who’d only ever known her online.

Maggie, Boyne, if it is any comfort, the sheer number of people who have expressed their sorrow over the last month is testimony to what a fine job the two of you did in raising such a remarkable young woman and I’m grateful to have known her.

She will be missed, always.

Friday 13th

A Red Umbrella - the symbol of sex worker solidarity

Every Friday 13th Maggie McNeill asks people to speak out in support of the decriminalisation of sex work and activities surrounding it. Those who have read this blog for long enough or follow me on twitter will have realised by now that this is something I support wholeheartedly.

Why the support? Obviously as a libertarian I see no reason why consensual contractual interactions between adults should incur the wrath of the violent state but there is more to it than that. I’ve previously mentioned that I’m known to enjoy the kinkier side of life. This includes activities that the anti-sex wing of the puritans who seek to rule our lives would prefer wasn’t available to be seen. That’s not the whole story either.

Several years ago (exactly which year I can no longer remember) I once provided sexual services for cash, trying (very badly in hindsight) to play the dominatrix to his submissive.

There have also been a couple of moments in my life when, if things had happened very differently, survival sex work could well have been a necessity. For me it may have been the path not taken but others have had to walk it and some will have suffered as a result of activities which could have made it safer being outlawed.

We in Great Britain (note I do not say UK) are fortunate in that prostitution in and of itself is not illegal – however activities such as brothel keeping (which stops sex workers grouping together for their own protection) are. This is not the case in other countries. In the so-called ‘Land of the Free’ prostitution is illegal and rescuing ‘victims’ is big business for both law enforcement and charities. Sweden pioneered what is now referred to as either the ‘Swedish Model’ or the ‘Nordic Model’. Under this approach the customers of sex workers are prosecuted. Northern Ireland is following this route and the Canadian government, after their Supreme Court struck down all of the laws surrounding sex work because it ruled them harmful, is trying the same even though the government there admits it is likely to be only a matter of time before another challenge in the Supreme Court produces the same result.

New Zealand has shown the way forward. It would be nice if the rest of the world followed.

Clarissa elsewhere

Vale Christina Marian Annesley, January 3rd 1992 to January 21st 2015

#JeSuisCharlie

Some of Charlie Hebdo’s front covers and cartoons:
Charlie Hebdo cover Charlie Hebdo cover Charlie Hebdo cover Charlie Hebdo cover Charlie Hebdo cover Charlie Hebdo cover Carlie Hebdo cartoons Charlie Hebdo cartoon Charlie Hebdo cartoon

Trafalgar Square on the evening of January 7th 2015:
Charlie Hebdo Vigil in Trafalgar Square 2015-01-07

“Sit on my face…”

Charlotte Rose

The Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) is the not so new UK regulator (quango) for on-demand programming and the reason for its existence can be traced back to how the UK.gov decided to implement the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive. As always if there is an easy way to do something and a hard way, UK.gov will take the latter approach and thus ATVOD was born.

Although it initially set its sights on the MSM, in particular the pockets and the websites of dead tree press, ATVOD has found much easier prey in the form of online adult entertainment and restricting access to it in the name of protecting the children. HighLowlights including pushing for bans on payments to non-UK-based websites and lobbying for laws to increase the age-checking carried out by UK-based providers.

In a Statutory Instrument laid before parliament on November 6th 2014 and which came in to effect on December 1st, the Culture Secretary Ed Vaizey proposed that the content of UK-based video on demand (VOD) services should be held to the same standard as physical media as set down in the Video Recordings Act of 1984 (a response to the moral panic about so-called video nasties in the early 1980s).

Myles Jackman addresses the assembled crowd

In practice this means that only content that would be passed for an R18 certificate can be sold legally by VOD producers in the UK with some of the practices that this excludes being:

  • Fisting
  • Facesitting
  • Watersports (if another person is involved)
  • Heavy bondage
  • Discipline beyond a mild spanking

Many UK-based producers of adult content (which include Dominatrixes who film and sell video clips of their sessions) are, understandably, rather miffed at this change as it is likely to lead to the closure or relocation of those studios which produce the non-mainstream content that it is now illegal to sell.

One of them, Charlotte Rose, organised a protest (including facesitting) for yesterday in Old Palace Yard, across the road from the Palace of Westminster and I, as someone who is an occasional consumer of video material covered by this change in the law, went along to it (and took some photographs – including the ones you see here).

Face Sitting VI

The protest took a while to get going with things not formally getting under way until almost 30 mins after the advertised start time. As well as Charlotte, speakers included obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman and Jerry Barnett of Sex and Censorship. The main point made by both Jerry and Myles was that this is not just about porn but rather the ever tightening restrictions in the UK on the freedom of speech and the freedom of expression – of which clamping down on pornography is but one strand. The recent attempts within the UK to impose the ‘Swedish Model’ (successful only in NI so far) of banning the purchasing of sexual services are another and I have no doubt that UK readers of this blog can call to mind other things.

Charlotte says that she wants this to be just the start. Time will tell if that is anything other than wishful thinking.

What Matt Taylor should have said

I’m here to say that I’m sorry.

Sorry for being the lead scientist in charge as the Rosetta mission reached its goal.

Sorry for having the temerity to think that a one-of-a-kind item of clothing made by a talented friend (who, by the way, just happens to be female) was suitable to celebrate this auspicious day.

Sorry that a scientist turned journalist is less interested in humanity landing a probe on a comet after a journey time of 10 years, 8 months and 13 days and a project which can trace its origins back to the questions raised by the bypass of Halley’s Comet in 1986 than in what I wore.

Sorry that the time and effort that thousands of talented men and women put in to making this moment happen has been overshadowed by someone complaining about a piece of cloth.

Sorry that rather celebrate what we have achieved here someone felt the need destroy the jubilation surrounding this historic achievement by focusing on something so insignificant.

For all of that I apologise.

Thank you.