Bye, bye Bulletin…but you can continue following my forthright opinions right here

OVER & OUT: The end of the story for Hugh Ash Sunday Comment columns in the Majorca Daily Bulletin

OVER & OUT: The end of the story for the Hugh Ash Sunday Comment columns in the Majorca Daily Bulletin

AFTER a two-year stint as a columnist with the Majorca Daily Bulletin I’ve decided to sever my connection with the paper.

But can I sincerely thank all those regular readers of my Sunday Comment column, who have taken the trouble to contact me, expressing their regret over my departure and the loss of what one generously noted was ‘a consistently entertaining, high-quality and thought-provoking piece of true journalism.

It’s always good to be appreciated.

However, the pieces which appeared in the Bulletin have always been replicated on this blog and I’ll continue to post them – always without fear or favour – so they also appear on Facebook, Linkedin and other internet platforms.

For the time being I’m taking a well-deserved break, but I’ll be back in March.

So watch this space…

 

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Were you a turkey or a mastermind with my EXTRA tricky Xmas quiz? Find out now…

CHECK out how you scored in my Xmas Eve EXTRA tricky trivia quiz – and find out whether you were a turkey or mastermind:-

HEADLINE HITTERS OF 2014: 1 – b (A ‘wuss’); 2 – a (Dame Helen Mirren); 3 – c (Bacon sandwich); 4 – TRICK QUESTION: Yamazaki was voted the world’s best malt whisky; 5 – b (Sharon Osbourne); 6 – a (Sheep); 7 – c (Russell Brand)

READ ALL ABOUT IT: 8 – a (Mouse); 9 – c (Oscar Wilde); 10 – TRICK QUESTION: Richard III; 11 – a (Paddington Bear); 12 – b (Mary Had A Little Lamb); 13 – c (Lady Chatterley’s Lover); 14 – a (Sherlock Holmes)

UNLUCKY DIP: 15 – b (Omega); 16 – TRICK QUESTION: The Bible doesn’t name Lot’s wife; 17 – c (M&Ms); 18 – a (Skin); 19 – b (Potassium); 20 – a (Chef); 21 – b (October – it has 31 days plus an extra hour, because the clocks go back)

THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOWBINESS 22 – a (Paul Newman); 23 – b (Jess); 24 – c (Funerals); 25 – a (Rolling Stones); 26 – c (Green); 27 – b (North Yorkshire); 28 – TRICK QUESTION: Felicity Shagwell is Austin Power’s sexy sidekick

ALL IN THE PAST: 29 – a (William I – a.k.a. The Conqueror); 30 – c (Istanbul); 31 – c (Ronald Reagan); 32 – TRICK QUESTION: Boxing Day is also St. Stephen’s Day; 33 – a (Scientology); 34 – b (Newfoundland); 35 – b (1961)

VIVA ESPANA: 36 – b (Barcelona); 37 – c (Nose); 38 – b (V); 39 – a (La Coruna); 40 – TRICK QUESTION: Queen Letizia was once a TV reporter; 41 – c (Three – France, Portugal & Andorra); 42 – b (Costa Smeralda – it’s in Sardinia)

SO WHERE THE HECK ARE WE? 43 – b (Monaco); 44 – a (Cardiff); 45 – c (Superior); 46 – a (September); 47 – TRICK QUESTION: Saudi Arabia has no rivers; 48 – b (Greenland); 49 – c (Sargasso)

A SPORTING CHANCE: 50 – b (Red); 51 – a (Hearts); 52 – c (USA & Canada); 53 – b (Preston North End – Beckham was on loan there from Man United); 54 – a (Indianapolis); 55 – c (Carousel); 56 – b (Maria Sharapova)

IT AIN’T ROCKET SCIENCE:  57 – c (Wikipedia); 58 – b (Suntan lotions); 59 – a (Tin); 60 – c (Freckles); 61 – TRICK QUESTION: There are 16 ounces in a lb; 62 – b – (Geography); 63 – a (240,000)

… AND THE NUMBERS GAME: 64 – a (206); 65 – c (775); 66 – TRICK QUESTION: Halley’s Comet appears every 76 years; 67 – b (5); 68 – a (64); 69 – b (880,000); 70 – a (5,000)

HOW DID YOU RATE?

60 to 70 Excellent, you’re an egghead…but get out more often; 45 to 59 Very good, you’re a star in the pub bar; 30 to 44 Above average, though more swatting up is needed; 29 to 15 Below average, so clearly you watch too much Coronation Street and not enough of The Chase; 14 to 5 Let’s face it: you’re a bit of a plank; Below 5 You’re the Forrest Chump of the family!

Try my EXTRA tricky trivia quiz…it could drive you Christmas crackers!

HERE’S my annual seasonal gift to Views From The Mallorca Pier readers – a quiz that’ll separate the Christmas turkeys from the Yuletide masterminds.

So grab yourself a mince pie and pop the bubbly to get your mind fizzing over these 70 teasing questions…but beware: in each section there’s one question that’s EXTRA tricky, because none of the multiple-choice, optional answers are correct.

No prizes, except the glory of claiming you’re the brightest bauble on the Christmas tree.

But you’ll have to wait until next Friday, December 26, to find out, because that’s when I’ll publish the solution.

So get cracking with a trivia quiz that will drive you Christmas crackers!

HEADLINE HITTERS OF 2014

MILI-BLAND: The Labour leader did little to convince he is the UK's Prime Minister-in-waiting

ED MILIBAND…what’s he eating? – See Question 3

1 – FORMER US President Bill Clinton made headlines in 2014, by calling present White House incumbent, Barack Obama, what?

a) A fun guy; b) A ‘wuss’; c) A golf nut

2 – WHICH 69-year-old theatrical ‘aristo’ became the new ‘face’ of cosmetics giant, L’Oreal?

a) Dame Helen Mirren; b) Dame Diana Rigg; c) Dame Julie Andrews

3 – BRITAIN’S Labour leader, Ed Miliband, suffered his most embarrassing moment of the year when photo’d making a mess of eating what?

a) A McDonald’s cheeseburger; b) A great British fry-up breakfast; c) A bacon sandwich

 4 – The Japanese tipple, Yamazaki, was voted the world’s best what?

a) Beer; b) Sake rice wine; c) Sherry

5WHO said Prince Harry told her to ‘F*** off’, after she asked him to look after her handbag on a visit to Buckingham Palace?

a) His sister-in-law, Kate; b) Sharon Osbourne; c) Angelina Jolie

 6THE Chinese New Year starts on February 19 celebrates what creature?

a) Sheep; b) Dragon; c) Tiger

7WHICH gobbledygook gabbler won the Plain English Campaign’s 2014 Foot In The Mouth award?

a) Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson; b) London Mayor’s Boris Johnson; c) Comedian Russell Brand

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Groucho Marx - See Question 8

GROUCHO MARX…were his dying words witty? – See Question 9

8 – WHAT creature was Robert Burns referring to in his poem that starts, ‘Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie…’?

a) Mouse; b) Louse; c) Grouse

9 – WHICH wit’s dying words were, ‘Either the wallpaper goes or I do’?

a) P.G. Wodehouse; b) Groucho Marx; c) Oscar Wilde

10 – WHICH Shakespearean king pleaded, ‘A horse, a horse – my kingdom for a horse.’

a) King Lear; b) King John; c) Henry V

11 – WHICH kiddies’ character was created by Michael Bond?

a) Paddington Bear; b) Rupert Bear; c) Yogi Bear

12 – WHAT nursery rhyme provided the first words ever recorded on the gramophone by its inventor, Thomas Edison?

a) Jack & Jill; b) Mary Had A Little Lamb; b); c) Three Blind Mice

13 – BY was name was the Oliver Mellors better known?

a) The Count of Monte Cristo; b) Tarzan; c) Lady Chatterley’s Lover

14 – Which fictional detective had a cleverer brother called Mycroft?

a) Sherlock Holmes; b) Columbo; c) Miss Marple

UNLUCKY DIP

Mars Bar - See Question XX

MARS BAR…was it invented in 1941? – See Question 17

15 – WHAT is the last letter of the Greek alphabet?

a) Epsilon; b) Omega; c) Zeta

16 – WHAT’S the name of Lot’s wife, turned into a pillar of salt for looking back at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah?

a) Miriam; b) Deborah; c) Amanda

17 – WHAT type of sweet did Mars and Murrie develop in 1941?

a) Mars Bar; b) Chewing gum; c) M&Ms

18 – In human anatomy, how is the epidermis better known?

a) Skin; b) Ear lobe; c) Finger nail

19 – THE letter K is the chemical symbol for what element?

a) Sulphur; b) Potassium; c) Krypton

20 – WHO would wear a hat called a toque?

a) Chef; b) French Foreign Legionnaire; c) Cardinal

21 – FEBRUARY is the shortest month, but what’s the longest?

a) August; b) October; c) December   

THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOWBIZ

Postman Pat & his black-and-white cat - See Question XX

POSTMAN PAT & HIS CAT…but what’s the pussy’s name? – See Question 23

22 – WHICH Hollywood legend created a best-selling salad dressing?

a) Paul Newman; b) Robert Redford; c) Sylvester Stallone

23 – WHAT’S the name of Postman Pat’s black and white cat?

a) Bess; b) Jess; c) Tess

24 – MONTY Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life is the most requested song at what events?

a) Baptisms; b) Weddings; c) Funerals

25 – WHICH band performed the first tune on BBC’s Top of the Pops in 1964?

a) The Rolling Stones; b) The Beatles; c) The Who 

26 – WHAT colour is The Grinch Who Stole Christmas?

a) Red; b) Yellow; c) Green 

27 – IN which real-life UK county is fictional Downton Abbey?

a) West Yorkshire; b) North Yorkshire; c) South Yorkshire

28 – WHICH movie hero’s sexy sidekick is Felicity Shagwell?

a) Ironman; b) Spiderman; c) Captain America

 ALL IN THE PAST 

Berlin Wall...but when did it go up - See Question XX

BERLIN WALL came down in 1989…but when did it go up – See Question 35

29 – WHICH English king was crowned on Christmas Day?

a) William I (The Conqueror); b) Edward II; c) Henry III

30 – WHICH ancient city was once known as Byzantium?

a) Rome; b) Athens; c) Istanbul 

31 – WHICH US President once said, ‘You can tell a lot about a fellow by the way he eats jellybeans’?

a) Gerald Ford; b) Lyndon Johnson; c) Ronald Reagan

32 – WHICH saint’s day falls on Boxing Day, December 26?

a) Francis; b) Luke; c) Bartholomew 

33 – SCI-FI writer L. Ron Hubbard created which religious cult?

a) Scientology; b) The Moonies; c) Jehovah’s Witnesses 

34 – WHAT was England’s first overseas colony?

a) Virginia; b) Newfoundland; c) Bermuda

35 – THE Berlin Wall came down in 1989, but in what year did it go up?

a) 1951; b) 1961; c) 1971

VIVA ESPANA

Spain's Queen Letizia...but what was her job? - See Question XX

SPAIN’S QUEEN LETIZIA…but what was her job? – See Question 40

36 – IF you arrived at El Prat Airport, where in Spain would you be?

a) Madrid; b) Barcelona; c) San Sebastian

37 – WHAT part of Captain Robert Jenkins’ anatomy did the Spanish cut off to cause a nine-year war with Britain?

a) Ear; b) Testicles; c) Nose

38 – EVERY Eurozone state’s banknotes have a letter on them to denote their origin, but which one identifies Spain’s euros?

a) S; b) V; c) E

39 – FROM where did the Spanish Armada set sail to attack England in 1588?

a) La Coruna; b) Seville; c) Bilbao

40 – Before marrying into the Royal Family, Queen Letizia did what job?

a) Air hostess; b) Page 3 girl; c) Dentist 

41 – How many states border Spain?

a) One; b) Two; c) Three 

42 – Which of the following isn’t a Spanish holiday hot spot?

a) Costa Calida; b) Costa Smeralda; c) Costa de la Luz

SO WHERE THE HECK ARE WE?

MUNICH'S OKTOBER BEER FEST...but in what month does it start?

MUNICH’S OKTOBER BEER FEST…but in what month does it start?

43 – WHICH European mini state has been ruled by the Grimaldi dynasty for over 700 years?

a) San Remo; b) Monaco; c) San Marino 

44 – WHICH British city has a district called Splott?

a) Cardiff; b) Plymouth; c) Newcastle

45 – WHICH is the greatest in size of North America’s Great Lakes?

a) Michigan; b) Erie; c) Superior

46 – IN which month does Munich’s beer-guzzling Oktoberfest begin?

a) September; b) October; c) November 

47 – WHAT is Saudi Arabia’s longest river?

a) Tigris; b) Euphrates; c) Nile

48 – NUUK is the capital of what island?

a) Iceland; b) Greenland; c) Madagascar

49 – WHAT sea has no coastline?

a) Aral; b) Coral; c) Sargasso

A SPORTING CHANCE

DAVID BECKHAM...he played for which lowly team - See Question XX

DAVID BECKHAM…he once played for which lowly team – See Question XX

50 – WHAT colour is the bull’s-eye on a standard dartboard?

a) Gold/yellow; b) Red; c) White

51 – IN a pack of cards, which king doesn’t sport a moustache?

a) Hearts; b) Diamonds; c) Clubs

52 – WHICH were the first teams to compete in an international cricket match?

a) England & Australia; b) India & England; c) USA & Canada 

53 – SOCCER legend, David Beckham, was briefly a star in which lowly side?

a) Millwall; b) Preston North End; c) Leyton Orient 

54 – WHICH motor racing circuit is nicknamed The Brickyard?

a) Indianapolis: b) Silverstone; c) Brands Hatch?

55 – THE soccer anthem, You’ll Never Walk, comes from which musical?

a) South Pacific; b) West Side Story; c) Carousel 

56 – WHICH tennis belle has a grunt of 101 decibels – louder than a lion’s roar?

a) Anna Kournikova; b) Maria Sharapova; c) Serena Williams

 IT AIN’T ROCKET SCIENCE

PRINCE WILLIAM...what did he study at uni? - See Question XX

PRINCE WILLIAM…what did he study at uni? – See Question 62

57 – WHAT was Jimmy Wales’s great, Internet invention?

a) Google; b) Face Book; c) Wikipedia 

58 – WHAT product’s performance is measured in SPFs?

a) Condoms; b) Suntan lotions; c) Mobile phones 

59 – WHAT metal’s chemical symbol is Sn?

a) Tin; b) Lead; c) Aluminium

60 – LENTIGINES is the medical term for what skin condition?

a) Blackheads; b) Acne; c) Freckles

61 – HOW many ounces are in a British imperial pound?

a) 10; b) 12; c) 14 

62 – PRINCE William has a university degree in what subject?

a) History of art; b) Geography; c) Astrophysics  

63 – THE Moon is approximately how many miles from Earth?

a) 240,000; b) 320,000; c) 410,000

…AND THE NUMBERS GAME

HALLEY'S COMET...but how often does it appear? - See Question XX

HALLEY’S COMET…but how often does it appear? – See Question 66

64 – THE adult human body has what number of bones?

a) 206; b) 216; c) 226

65 – ACCORDING to the BBC how many rooms are in Buckingham Palace?

a) 375; b) 575; c) 775

66 – HALLEY’S Comet appears every how many years?

a) 46; b) 56; c) 66 

67 – EU-approved bananas must have how many sides?

a) 4; b) 5; c) 6 

68 – HOW many love-making positions are described in the Karma Sutra, the world’s oldest sex guide?

a) 64; b) 69; c) 72

69 – IN the acclaimed exhibit by artist Paul Cummins, about how many ceramic poppies were planted at the Tower of London to commemorate each British soldier lost in WW1?

a) 770,000; b) 880,000; c) 990,000 

70– HOW many people does the bible say Jesus feed with five loaves and two fishes?

a) 5,000; b) 6,000; c) 7,000

 

 

 

Why the UK repels all boarders from the Euroland of no borders

AFTER losing Calais – England’s last possession in France – in 1558, just before a lethal dose of flu did for her notoriously bloody reign, Queen Mary I bemoaned, ‘When I am dead, you will find Calais engraved upon my heart’.

British monarchs aren’t often remiss at losing things. That said, fumbling King John dropped the crown jewels in The Wash, while Britain lost its American colonies under George III and Lord North was forced to quit as Prime Minister (David Cameron take note if the Scots vote ‘Aye’ in Thursday’s referendum).

Meanwhile, for four-and-a-half centuries Calais hasn’t featured on UK plc’s bucket list… until now. And it’s not that we want it back – it’s the French who want us back.

Not, I hasten to add, to repossess our ancient toehold in continental Europe, but to help stem a near floodtide of illegal immigrants using the port as a springboard for cross-Channel flits to what they perceive as the Eldorado of Ingleterre.

A dozen years ago, when a similar crisis exploded over the refugee camp at Sangatte, the French government shut it and disperse the mainly Kosovan occupants besieging the Eurotunnel entrance.

However, that typical example of quick-fix, Gallic short-termism was no solution to the challenge of what to do with displaced people from greatly afflicted, far-off lands, believing only the West – especially Britain – offered hope and salvation.

Hence, all France achieved was to move the problem a few kilometres down the coast where it resurfaced in Calais.

GATECRASHERS: Angry asylum-seekers and illegal migrants try to storm a barrier at Calais

GATECRASHERS: Angry asylum seekers and illegal migrants try to storm a barrier at Calais

So now ugly, daily scenes there see wannabe migrants – estimated at 1,500 and mostly Eritreans, Somalis, Sudanese and Afghans – try to clamber aboard lorries, caravans, booze-cruise vans and even into the boots of tourists’ cars, desperate to bid au revoir to France and hello to Britain.

Pouring in at an accelerating rate, they are overwhelming police, infuriating once sympathetic locals and fuelling a far-Right backlash.

Meanwhile, despite advanced detection technology – including carbon dioxide and heart-beat sensors, plus sniffer dogs – each day the situation worsens and 10 to 15 migrants evade the security cordon and make it through.

In their frenzied lust for freedom, the stateless ones have also refined their tactics. Last week, at least a hundred stampeded through the port, overwhelming guards and forcing one ferry to pull up its ramp and stop loading vehicles.

Freight trucks are the prime target. En route to the embarkation quays, they are pelted with stones to slow them down, so escapees can more easily scramble inside or beneath.

Truckers, who face hefty fines in Britain if caught with migrants hiding in their cargo bays, are retaliating, many now using refrigerated vehicles with stronger walls and padlocked doors.

‘But such lorries are more expensive to buy and run,’ complained a Turkish driver.

As Calais – which sees 12 million tourists and 1.9 million trucks pass through each year – hunkers down under siege, it, too, is counting the cost.

UK MUST PAY: Local mayor, Natacha Bouchart says Calais's problem is caused by Britain's 'soft' welfare state

UK MUST PAY: Local mayor, Natacha Bouchart, says Calais’s problems are caused because Britain is ‘too soft’ 

And its authorities are in no doubt about who should bears responsible for that: Britain.

Mayor Natacha Bouchart says, ‘We want the UK Government to think about the its rules, which are possibly the best in Europe for immigrants. Britain must be less soft.’

That’s why she wants the UK to foot the £12M bill for security her council pays, without a euro’s assistance from the French government or Brussels.

In actuality, Britain has contributed £3M to tighter controls at Calais and Immigration Minister, James Brokenshire, has offered to send 20 kilometres of 3.3 metre-high steel barriers, recently used at the NATO summit in Wales

The British government, he points out, also takes a tough line on illegal immigrants, denying them the right to rent homes, open bank accounts or obtain driving licences.

Still, Madam Bouchart’s anger is understandable. She’s lumbered with someone else’s problem and has enough of her own, running a town of 75,000 citizens, where unemployment is soaring.

While there is no denying the world is seeing a mass shift in demographics, the mayor misses the point: the EU’s Schengen Agreement – from which Britain opted out – renders Euroland practically borderless.

Therefore it’s entirely possible for sinister people traffickers to transport their human cargoes thousands of miles, through several conjoined states, without ever encountering a frontier post.

Schengen was meant to be a pillar of freedom, whereby citizens could travel across the EU unhindered by visa checks. But, its theory long ago parting company from reality and the treaty has become a millstone round the EU’s neck.

Since the European Court of Human Rights bans nations from returning shiploads of illegals back to whence they came, many states on Euroland’s periphery cynically play pass the asylum seeker to their next-door neighbour.

Italy and Greece comprise two main gateways into Europe from Africa and Asia.

Yet, instead of processing incomers on arrival, as the 1990 Dublin Convention demands, both tacitly usher the unwanted away, hinting Britain and Germany might be more conducive destinations.

RETURN TO SENDER: Lord Michael Howard, former UK Interior Minister, says countries must process immigrants where they land in the EU

RETURN TO SENDER: Lord Michael Howard, former UK Interior Minister, says countries must process immigrants where they land in the EU

Sharing the mayor of Calais’s frustration, former Tory leader Lord Michael Howard last week noted, ‘The general principle that every member state of the European Union has subscribed to is that people fleeing persecution should apply for asylum in the first safe country they reach.’

At least during Howard’s term as Home Secretary (Interior Minister) in the 1990s there was accord that Britain would repatriate asylum seekers who’d managed to cross the Channel back to France, where their applications for sanctuary would be assessed.

The French eventually wearied of this ‘return-to-sender’ policy, which was why, in 2012, the then president, Nicholas Sarkozy, threaten to ditch Schengen and all the unforeseen, unintended consequences it’s thrown up.

Now, only the Europrats of Brussels can resolve the problem, either by demanding EU states take full responsibility for policing the desperate souls when they fetch up on their shores or by beefing up border checks, irrespective of what Schengen says.

My guess is they’ll do neither. So Britain will continue to repel all boarders and Calais will remain an expensive open prison for the great stateless ones and dispossessed.

How BDS bigots, deceivers and smear merchants corner the market in hate

IF you believe in fairies, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigners – who I’ll call BDS-ards for space reasons – are kindly folk, if a tad economical with truth, who only seek a better world…better still without that pesky state of Israel.

What a travesty it is, they claim, that uppity Jews – six million of them – boss the Middle East, an oasis of fellowship, where 400,000,000 amiable Arabs merely want to go about their daily business of annihilating each other.

And what are these ‘land-grabbers’ doing there at all, demand the BDS-ards. Huh! It’s as if the Jews think they’ve some 3,500-year-old right to Israel, not poor Arabs, who’ve identified themselves as Palestinians for…er, well maybe a century, give or take a decade.

So forget historical fact, including the glaring one that no country called Palestine ever existed.

And perish the thought BDS-ards think there’s anything amiss with China brutalising Tibet, Turkey – with more journalists jailed than anywhere else – persecuting Kurds and ‘annexing’ Northern Cyprus, Russia turning Chechnya into an abattoir or Saudi Arabia, Iran and North Korea believing human rights are just for the wimpy West.

Similarly, the gang of mass murderers blighting much of Africa are of no consequence.

Because in the warped, BDS mindset all the world’s ills lie at the doorstep of Israel, uniquely the world’s only Jewish – if secular – state and rated by internationally respected Freedom House as the Middle East’s only free one.

The point is, despite swapping land for peace with Egypt and Jordan, the confounded Israelis just won’t cave in to all Palestinian demands – PLO warlord-cum-compulsive kleptomaniac, Yasser Arafat, was even offered 96% of what he sought for a nation-state, yet still flatly rejected it.

Israel also has the audacity to insist on the same rights as 57 countries that are Islamic and be recognised as Jewish.

HEROIC GIG: Sir Paul McCartney defied death threats to perform in Tel Aviv

HEROIC GIG: Sir Paul McCartney defied death threats to perform in Tel Aviv

That’s a definite no-no, rail the BDS-ards, who contend – for all its Western democracy, respect for gays, equal rights for women and people of other faiths, especially its 1.3-million Muslims – Israel is an ‘apartheid regime’, ruthlessly occupying the West Bank, coincidentally the cradle of terrorism.

Israel even built a protective wall rounds itself, dramatically curbing terror attacks by 80%, and has the nerve to retaliate against suicide bombers and fusillades of rockets fired by Gaza’s cuddly do-gooders, Hamas.

So, indulging in a repugnant equivalence to the Holocaust, not a few BDS-ards compare Israel’s legitimate right to self-defence with ‘Nazism’, disingenuously obscuring the issue their own tactics smack of totalitarian thuggery.

Founded in 2005, BDS was inspired by Qatari-born bigot Omar Barghouti – bizarrely a student at Tel Aviv University – to delegitimise and destroy Israel via an international trade and cultural boycott.

BDS-ards say their model is the one that helped topple white, supremacist South Africa, though Nelson Mandela, who knew a thing or two about real apartheid, distanced himself from their ravings.

Meanwhile, BDS stoops to sophistry in a claim that it merely seeks to end Israeli ‘occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands’ and a ‘right of return’ for Palestinians.

What they’re coy about admitting is this includes today’s four million descendants of the 700,000 Arabs displaced in the 1948 Israel War of Independence, when five, invading Arab armies failed to crush the re-born, UN-sanctioned  Jewish state.

Note the ‘all’, because the ploy is to dump on Israel a multitude of Arabs, weaned on a diet of vicious anti-Semitism, that BDS-ards hope will deliver a new Muslim state, entirely Jew-free – ‘Judenrein’, as Hitler termed it – even if a bloodbath is guaranteed.

In its pursuit of this ghoulish vision, BDS never lets truth spoil its PR war, especially with a pliant Western media – lead by those bastions of journalistic objectivity, The Guardian, New York Times and BBC – to give lies legs

Naturally, there’s a fetid stench of far-Left odium about BDS-ards, who subscribe to free speech, only if it chimes with their preposterous ‘group think’.

OXFAM DUMPED: Actress Scarlett Johansson quit the charity in a storm over her role as the 'face' of SodaStream

OXFAM DUMPED: Actress Scarlett Johansson quit the charity in a storm over her role as the ‘face’ of SodaStream

Its key battlegrounds are academia, big biz and showbiz, where it has achieved some traction, though not without embarrassments, the latest being a kick in the bias of Oxfam by its former goodwill ambassador, actress Scarlett Johansson.

When the charity upbraided her for promoting SodaStream, a fizzy drinks gizmo made in a factory just over the contentious, pre-1967 Six Day War ‘Green Line’,  the Hollywood A-lister summarily dumped it, saying she supported ‘economic co-operation and social interaction between a democratic Israel and Palestine’ (which, by implication, Oxfam doesn’t).

Worse, Oxfam was told to shove off by SodaStream’s 700 Palestinian workers, who enjoy identical rights to Israeli staff and are paid four times the West Bank average.

Still BDS remains the toast of certain showbiz luminaries, like the preciously PC Emma Thompson, who ganged up with like-minded luvvies to pen an anguished letter to The Guardian – where else! – demanding an Israel theatrical troupe be banned from appearing at London’s Globe Theatre.

Another is ex-Pink Floyd strummer, Roger Waters, whose hysterical animus towards Israel is claimed by critics to hide motives far more insidious as he tries to harass pop stars into nixing appearances in the Jewish state.

Despite such coercion, icons such as Sir Elton John, Rihanna, Madonna, Lady Gaga and Alicia Keys continue to play Israel; Sir Paul McCartney did so, too, bravely defying death threats, reportedly from BDS-ards; and The Rolling Stones are due in Tel Avis this June.

On the financial front, several European banks have been pressed into severing links with Israel for ‘ethical reasons’, notably Denmark’s Danske Bank (otherwise known as the bank that liked to say ‘Yes’ to backing North Korean sales of ballistic missiles to Iran, according to a US State Department report revealed by Wikileaks).

In academia, the tiny, Left-leaning American Studies Association recently added its voice to BDS, only to find itself boycotted by over a hundred, top US universities.

But BDS-ards claimed a major scalp when they persuaded Professor Sir Stephen Hawking, lauded as Britain’s most brilliant physicist, to renege on an invitation to visit Israel…despite the hi-tech wonders powering his awesome, life-enhancing wheelchair being Israeli innovations

The stark truth is BDS is shot full of such hypocrisy and bigotry and – let’s face it – not a few who hide their repellent anti-Semitism under the pretence of Palestinian solidarity.

The authoritative Economist magazine branded the movement ‘flimsy’ and ineffective, pointing out that ‘blaming Israel alone for the impasse…will continue to strike many outsiders as unfair.’

And not even the Palestinian leadership supports the boycott.

Sane folk would also imagine art, wealth-creation and ground-breaking technology should transcended all boundaries, their bounties shared by people everywhere. But, where only Israel is concerned, that’s heresy in the skewered opinion of BDS-ards.

And the people they target – from showbiz stars to businesses and academics – are no more responsible for the Israel-Palestinian imbroglio than they are for the slump in Mongolian yurt sales.

So let there be no mistaking the real message of BDS: Make hate, kill hope.

Lib-Dumbs weren’t the winners in the Eastleigh by-election – it was UKIP

You’ll probably be bored to distraction by acres of newsprint today, as the heavyweight pundits – those who boast ‘inside sources’ so close to the Whitehall merry-go-round, they even know which brand of loo paper Samantha Cameron buys from Harrods – pick over the bones of the Eastleigh by-election.

But not here you won’t, I hope. Because, to play on words, the result of the vote in the Hampshire town, whose main claims to fame are railways, Benny Hill’s birthplace and the headquarters of B&Q, was a bygone (or foregone) conclusion before even a ballot was cast.

It’s so utterly rock-solid Lib-Dumb – pardon me; Freudian slip, meant to say Lib-Dem – no shift in the political tectonic plates will move a constituency brainwashed to think and dream in yellow. The local council’s overwhelmingly Lib-Dem yellow and the previous, two MPs, Chris Huhne and David Chidgey, now in the Lords, sported yellow war-paint.

Despite Huhne, the disgraced ex-Minister for Energy, causing the by-election by having been exposed as lying through his molars about his ex-wife taking the rap for a speeding offence, there was never the slightest danger of Eastleigh falling into the dastardly clutches of any other political entity.

In fact, if they’d put up Iggle Piggle, Makka Pakka or Upsy Daisy, the Lib-Dems would have still been breaking open the champers (well, maybe organic Blue Nun in their case).

Not even the pong of scandal surrounding Lord Chris Rennard – currently under observation by the plods for allegedly using his position in the party hierarchy to sexually ingratiate his considerable bulk on ambitious female apparatchiks – could dissuade voters from returning yet another candidate, swathed in jaundice yellow.

And, while Mike Thornton didn’t win on Thursday by the proverbial country mile, he did nab 13,342 votes – at 32%, some 14.48% down on 2010 – to ensure the Lib-Dem dynasty survived.

Not even his master and leader, Nick Clegg’s embarrassing bout of amnesia, apropos when he exactly heard rumours of Rennard’s alleged aberrations – Cleggy had a sudden rush of recall and it was 2008, not just a couple of weeks ago, as he inadvertently first asserted – made an iota of difference to the Great Eastleigh Yellow-washed.

However, the Lib-Dems continue to wallow in a slough of despond elsewhere throughout Britain, their opinion poll ratings slumped to sub-10% popularity.

The reason why is simple: unlike in indoctrinated Eastleigh, less generous voters don’t/won’t forgive Clegg’s sell-out by hitching the Lib-Dem wagon to the despised Tories; of breaking just about every promise in the party’s 2010 manifesto, particularly on tuition fees; and hiding his power lust behind a veil of acting in the ‘national interest’.

One wonders, then, what purpose the Lib-Dems actually serve, apart from being Tory cannon-fodder?

DANGER MAN: Nigel Farage has signalled UKIP's intention of upsetting the political applecart

DANGER MAN: Nigel Farage has delivered on UKIP’s intent to upset the political applecart

Under the Coalition agreement, they got their referendum on opening the door a crack to proportional representation and received a bloody nose from the electorate. Similar fates met their burning yens to reform the House of Lords, education and the NHS.

So, the short-termism of the Beloved Leader is still likely to backfire when a General Election comes round in 2015, which is why it’s a real possibility Clegg will fail to see out his tenure as the Coalition’s junior prefect.

The shock of Eastleigh, then, wasn’t the Lib-Dems retaining a seat dynamite wouldn’t shift them from, but the abysmal failure of the Tories to score even an honourable second. Eastleigh was 16th on their hit-list of winnable constituencies, yet they could only claim the bronze podium.

Third, even at a time when Britain is beset by all manner of woes – not just financial and the loss of a AAA rating Chancellor George Osborne insisted was his gold standard – is fourth rate by any stretch of the public’s imagination.

And what in creation were the Tories doing with a candidate like Maria Hutchings, who can be described sympathetically as ‘eccentric’, though weirdo would also be appropriate?

Even the Conservative hierarchy feared she was a loose cannon, a flaw she underscored by insisting local schools weren’t good enough for her ‘gifted’ son’s ambitions to be a surgeon, dodging a Radio 5 Live inter-candidate debate and sounding off (script) on topics ranging from the EU and abortion to gay marriage.

Small wonder, following the count, Hutchings could only grin like the Cheshire Cat and remain obdurately silent, as reporters pressed her for what went disastrously haywire.

Had the woman, a mother of five and previously branded ‘a snob’ by locals, come up with a plausible excuse for leading the Cameroons up the scaffold, she couldn’t have blamed UKIP, since the former loony-fringe party took away votes from the big three in equal measure.

In fact, far from being nutters and bigots, as the Prime Minister dubbed them, under Nigel Farage’s canny leadership, UKIP has been refashioned into a genuine alternative to the established mainstream and not just a bunch of spoiling, dissenting opportunists, grabbing protest votes wherever they can filch them.

Undoubtedly, UKIP still has its crazies, but so do the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib-Dems, such has always been the nature of politics and its ability to attract oddballs.

However, Cameron accurately identified the potential menace of UKIP long ago, which is why he promised the ‘in-out’ plebiscite on European Union membership and how he came to block the profligate Eurobrats’ budget demands for yet more moolah to fritter away.

Yet, far from soothing the inflamed passions of voters and outflanking UKIP, the Tories’ Eastleigh farce will have only worsened his frustrations. Because, according to the pollsters, one issue surfaced at the top of the pile of public concerns: immigration.

And there is zilch the PM can do if Britain is forced – by EU decree – to open its doors to a potential floodtide of Bulgarians and Rumanians later this year.

Neither, for that matter, can Farage. But he will be far more vocal, outspoken and populist about it and, for good or ill, his opinions will resonate with hordes of disenchanted electors.

Of course, UKIP has far to go before it can make the ultimate breakthrough into parliament. But one more by-election push in a ‘soft’ seat – and don’t rule out it being a Labour stronghold in the North – could consolidate their momentum.

Cameron saw the danger signs and so, now, does Clegg. If Ed Milliband doesn’t, Labour has a nasty shock coming.

Did Scarfe’s cartoon of a bloodthirsty Netanyahu go beyond the limit of legitimate comment?

For centuries, political cartoonists have been an integral part of newspapers and are expected to be controversial, since, if a picture speaks a thousand words their lampooning is intended to elicit a similarly dramatic response.

However – as with all forms of journalism – however witty, acerbic or poignant, cartoonists on mainstream publications are expected to work within the same parameters of decency and truth that apply to their colleagues, the wordsmiths.

So Gerald Scarfe’s caricature of a vengeful, malevolent Benjamin Netanyahu bricking up screaming Palestinians in blood-red mortar in yesterday’s Sunday Times (27.1.2013), as his commentary on last week’s Israeli general election, has understandably proved hotly provocative.

The cartoon’s caption: ‘Will cementing peace continue?’ was irrelevant, since the scrawl above it needed no further commentary.

(For copyright reasons, I don’t reproduce the drawing and, since the Sunday Times is a ‘paywall’ site, I suggest those curious view it on http://www.honestreporting.com, where they’ll not be surprised at the level of hostility Scarfe has drawn on himself)

As a result the cartoonist – an award-winner, famed for his spidery style and much acclaimed in the salons of the London’s Left-leaning chatterati – stands accused of being an anti-Semite.

Whether he is or not, only he truly knows. But his latest handiwork bears all the trappings of one, since this ‘comment’ goes well beyond the bounds of fairness, accuracy and, indeed, decency.

This is especially so as it was published on Holocaust Remembrance Day (itself in danger of being hijacked by Western, pro-Palestinian apologists, who swathe themselves in terrorist chic and sickeningly try to equate the defensive actions of democratic Israel with the Nazis).

If Scarfe was unaware of the importance of the day, he should be damned well ashamed of his ignorance. If he was, then it goes far in vindicating his detractors’ accusations of him reprising the old, anti-Semitic canard of the bloodthirsty Jew.

Frankly, Scarfe’s representation of Netanyahu was not far off the bile that appeared in Der Stürmer, Hitler’s pet publication – or nowadays The Guardian, a pale, waning shadow of its former liberal glory, which harbours an obsession with vilifying Israel, bordering on thinly-veiled anti-Semitism.

RETCH-A-SKETCH? Scarfe's critics label his cartoon of a bloodthirsty Netanyahu beyond fair comment

RETCH-A-SKETCH? Scarfe’s critics label his cartoon of a bloodthirsty Netanyahu beyond fair comment

Naturally, those who defend Scarfe will scream blue murder at the ‘Jewish/Israel’ lobby trying to stifle free speech, forgetting that those who found the cartoon insulting and offensive also deserve a similar privilege.

But the holier-than-thou bien pensants of the illiberal Left are so right-on, they don’t tolerate counter views any more than I can comprehend why they defend Islamo-fanatics, who indulge in a death cult, enslave women, murder homosexuals, persecute Christians and want world Jewry eradicated.

Which is why they have wrapped the Israel-Palestinian imbroglio into a neat package: Palestinians ‘good’, Israelis ‘bad’. Full stop and no arguments.

It’s also why they were resolutely silent when a Danish cartoonist exercised his free speech, only to be subjected to death threats for having the temerity to depict Mohammed. And, come to think of it, I don’t recall Scarfe, at the time or since, showing a tad of solidarity with his fellow scribbler.

But let’s return to his cartoon of Netanyahu…

According to the Algemeiner online, the Sunday Times, which has hitherto enjoyed a reputation for balance, integrity and objectivity, says Scarfe is merely being ‘typically robust.’ Then again, some would contend, so was Julius Streicher, Der Stürmer’s notorious editor.

The Sunday Times adds, ‘It [the cartoon] is aimed squarely at Mr. Netanyahu’s policies, not at Israel, let alone the Jewish people.’

That’s a lame excuse to cover an abysmal lapse in editorial judgement and one that sidesteps the historical record.

Before 2000, when construction started on the ‘wall’ – and prior to Netanyahu’s first Premiership – there were 273 suicide-bomb attacks on Israel, murdering 293 people and injuring more than 1,900 others.

Yet, after 2003, when the ‘wall’ – actually it’s mostly a fence – was completed, and up to 2006, only 12 terror attacks succeeded.

So what Scarf perceives as symbolic of Israeli oppression actually does its job, much in the same way as the lock on the luminary illustrator’s front door of his home in leafy St. John’s Wood works to protect his wife, the actress and celebrated cake-maker, Jane Asher.

However, based on one, aberrant example of his pro-Palestinian sympathies, it doesn’t prove he’s an anti-Semite. What it does indicate to me is his patent ignorance of the realities of the Middle East…and that makes him a very silly man.