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   Wednesday, July 30, 2003
All blogged out today, total brainlock. Not sure why, lots in the news, not much work to do so time enough... Blank mind.

Hopefully tomorrow my brain will be functioning again.

   Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Well, they finally went and did it - Our Leader has been accused of crimes against humanity by a gang of Greek lawyers over Iraq.

I'm not aware of any breaches of the Geneva conventions in Iraq by any troops, though resources are being stretched to the limit. Our own troops are in the process of getting sunstroke so no doubt any Iraqi PoWs that are still being held won't be in Ritzesque conditions either, when our own men and women are suffering. Incidentally, the Geneva Conventions are rather sturdy documents, rooted in reality, and firmly laced with caveats which actually, in my mind, make it quite hard for them to be used by Leftists with a political axe to grind. Given the purpose of the documents and the almost unattainable goal they attempt to deliver (war without cruelty, in short), I found them surprisingly pragmatic. For example, article 28 of the Fourth Convention,

"The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.", which means Saddam's human shield tactics carry no weight as far as the Geneva Conventions are concerned. Provided there was sufficient military reason to do so, we could in theory drop a nuke on a city and all would be acceptable under the rules of war. Here is another example of a caveated obligation, article 16,

"As far as military considerations allow, each Party to the conflict shall facilitate the steps taken to search for the killed and wounded, to assist the shipwrecked and other persons exposed to grave danger, and to protect them against pillage and ill-treatment." which really absolves the coalition forces of any legal blame for the damage done by looting, at least as far as the Geneva Conventions are concerned. It's not like we want to put Iraq down the toilet, its in the West's naked self interest to see the place become prosperous and successful as soon as possible. We might not be able to cover every eventuality however, and the laws of war recognise that.

Incidentally, Saddam's tactics in both Gulf Wars broke several articles of the Geneva Conventions, but I didn't notice the Greeks getting steamed over that.

And in any case, the Greeks should take take the beam out of their own eye before they point out any motes in ours.

The ICC could possibly be a Good Thing, but its inevitable that it's just going to turn into a rather laughable political platform. The Greek case is utterly risible, and I seriously doubt they themselves expect Blair to be thrown in prison for it, but they have already made their political point, which no doubt the CND activists of the Labour Party will love and appreciate.

   Monday, July 28, 2003
The Telegraph has another dig at the EU constitution. This time they take a different tack than normal though, the usual Eurosceptic riposte is about how the constitution as posed reduces national governments to rump status, but this opinion piece is more focused on the structure of the constitution itself, and what a constitution is for.

A constitution is about legality and political authority. It is not about the particular policies which a government, once it was legally elected, might or might not wish to pursue. This constitution, on the other hand, is stuffed full of policy statements.

This has been noticed before within the blogosphere (read some of Porphyrogenitus' EU scribings), but it's nice to see it brought up again in a mainstream newspaper. The Telegraph doesn't mention the policy statement I most detest in the EU, the commitment to a "social market economy", which brings me visions of the Gulag and shortages of razorblades. And whats this right to strike doing embedded in a constitutional document?

The final two paragraphs are as great as ever. Read them!

   Friday, July 25, 2003
The Spectator is defending Andrew Gilligan, and in general it looks like opinion in the chattering classes is swinging inexorably against the Government, and in favour of the BBC, as the David Kelly affair pans out.

It's a fairly easy argument to take. Alastair Campbell is universally regarded as scum (and on evidence available I would suggest he really is scum), so he's a suitable whipping boy for just about any story you think of.

But Kelly apparently never even realised he was the sole source of the story. It is alleged that, during his interrogation in front of the parliamentary committee, he could not believe he was the sole source, as what he said had been so "interpreted" that he couldn't believe it came from him. The Government, sensing an open goal, moved in to try and expose the BBC's source as a little overrated, and to be frank, Kelly was precisely that. He was not a top level intelligence source, like the BBC alleged, thats for certain.

It seems that things got out of hand though. The BBC were not backing down, so the Government wolves went to work, exposing Kelly and challenging the false assertions the BBC had made.

Kelly was stuck in the middle, and doubtless under a great deal of pressure. Alastair Campbell is a nasty bit of work, make no mistake. But lets not let the BBC off the hook here, the BBC "sexed up" their source and practically dared the Government to expose him. The BBC was in the wrong over Kelly's status, and the government was in the right. The government's tactics used to deal with the situation might have been abrasive, but it was the BBC who set Kelly up as a target, and when the pressure was on, hung Dr Kelly out to dry...

More idle musings from the workplace.

There is a guy who works here, who is a naturalised American. He's British born, but he's lived in the States for 20 years. While talking about him with a colleague (who is as Red as they come), my colleague comments, "Why did he move back?"

Given I've had quite a few chats with him about politics, this puzzled me. Why would he want to come back to the UK? it's a tacit admission that the socialised UK, with its vaunted NHS and BBC and all the rest, does not offer as high a standard of living as the US does. And yet, this guy has been arguing about the virtues of all these socialist dinosaurs with me for the last three months.

The problem, as I see it, is that this guy does not see the link here, the link being socialism, in the long run = bad, private ownership a small state in the long run = good. What gets me annoyed more is that this guy, who loves the NHS, would no doubt emigrate to the US (which has no NHS) if he had a chance, thus leaving me, the patriot who stays behind on the sinking ship, to deal with the legacy of socialism people like him leave behind.

There is no looking at the US and doing a bit of analysis into the reasons why the US is successful. I must say, its something of a revelation to me, the impression that the UK's socialists would all love to emigrate to the US, while at the same time they are cheerleading the NHS, sympathising with union militancy, and claiming that the BBC is great.

If only the US example was looked at as something to learn from, rather than something to envy without understanding. If everybody who envied understood, we wouldn't have a Labour Party.

   Wednesday, July 23, 2003
It looks like the Government is choosing to back down a little against the BBC in the whole Kelly affair. A sacrificial lamb has been offered up, namely the Minister of Defence, Geoff Hoon.

Look like there are some damaging leaks about his conduct which implies he is most definitely being set up as the fall guy on this one. I'm glad I'm not a Minister, it must be terrible to have your boss after you.

I am not impressed though, it looks like the BBC is being let off the hook. Not surprising really given their monopoly over broadcast news, I was watching the BBC news last night - not a mention of any possible BBC guilt over Kelly.

The Telegraph is not letting the BBC off so lightly, however, wheeling out one of their big guns, Janet Daley, to deliver a particularly good opinion piece.

"Richard Sambrook, the head of BBC news and current affairs, has said that the corporation believes that it "accurately interpreted and reported" Dr Kelly's remarks. Interpreted? If it was straightforwardly reporting what Dr Kelly said, where did the "interpretation" come in? Does the use of that word not imply that Andrew Gilligan took liberties with his material? To what end? To reinforce the BBC's (and particularly the Today programme's) own political message that the Iraq war was unjustified?"

Go get 'em, Janet.

   Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Government spending up by 10 percent this year!

*grabs table to steady myself*

If that figure is accurate it beggars belief. I can't say it's doing me any good (admittedly, my use of public services is almost nil) but... wow. 10 percent. Thats an incredible amount of money to sink in debt.

My heart sinks. Even if the Quiet Man wins the next election, with debts like that we'll all be as poor as church mice paying the debt off anyway. And then the Quiet Man will be hated, and Labour will get in again, and the good of the lean years will be undone.

The wheels are still turning and the machinations keep on unfolding in the Dr Kelly story. The law lord, Lord Hutton, is asserting his independence to the chagrin of Anthony Lynton Blair. Or is it chagrin? While Blair talks about cooperating fully, he pulls up a bit short.

"He rejected calls to extend the inquiry to look at the wider argument of whether the Government exaggerated the threat from Saddam Hussein's weapons.

In other words, Lord Hutton will have full cooperation from Blair at examining the narrow reason why Dr Kelly committed suicide. And here, Blair truly has nothing to hide or fear. After all, it was not the Government who interrogated him (it was a Parliamentary select committee). It was not the Government who made Dr Kelly go to the BBC with his story. It was not the Government who was responsible for the way the BBC handled the situation (ie, let Dr Kelly swing in the wind).

The Government attempted to identify the source of the leak. Once they had a guess, they asked the BBC to confirm - when the BBC denied, the Government hauled Kelly in front of the independent parliamentary committee. And, within the narrow remit Blair seems planning on giving Lord Hutton, thats about it.

If the inquiry only goes this far, Blair is about as in the clear as he possibly could be. The deeper issues are further back in time, issues like whether Alastair Campbell really wilfully manipulated MI6 evidence or not. I don't think Lord Hutton will be seeking answers to questions like that. The Telegraph is a bit more hopeful of pinning something on the Government, but I'm not really seeing it myself. At worst, Alastair Campbell might be sacrificed on the altar, but his days have been numbered for months, in my view, so no great loss to Tone.

Never understimate Teflon Blair. He's PM for a reason, after all. I don't think he'll be unseated by a scandal, like this one. He's not going to resign during a storm. However, this whole Dr Kelly affair is just another reason for his restless ex-CND powerbase on the green benches, where all Blair's power is drawn from, to dump him.

The House of Blair is a brilliant construction, able to deflect even the strongest of political gales with little damage. The greater weakness lies in the foundations, which only allowed the house to be built in the first place with great unease.

   Monday, July 21, 2003
Seems a number of other bloggers think the name of this blog and my good self (The Last, the Alone, etc) is slightly objectionable, or at least a bit odd. So I guess it's only fair I share the inspiration...

It comes from my first job - as I mentioned elsewhere, I was a humble data analyst working for the Audit Commission, meaning I was myself a public sector bureaucrat. Being politically minded (you dont say) there was quite a few debates around the water cooler, especially given the work we were doing - auditing the NHS and local government. Also, I was heavily outnumbered there - in fact, I was the only Tory in the entire institution, as far as I could gather... I was quite infamous for it. Infamous enough that, when I stopped working for Her Majesty and bid the Commission a fond farewell, as leaving presents I was gifted with copies of the Communist Manifesto and Tony Benn's diaries, to educate the poor benighted me... Something I'm rather proud of, needless to say. :)

I can definitely say that everybody working at the Audit Commission circa 2-5 years ago were among the best people I've ever met however, regardless of their political affiliations. Happy times, indeed.

Anyway, my status as the lone bearer of the Conservative blue torch in such a red sea was the inspiration behind the name of this blog. While I was there I was almost beginning to think it was just me putting the X for the blue rinses (!).

Maybe there is something of further interest with the Baghdadi poll commissioned by the Spectator after all. I found this article in NRO by the man behind the Edge of Englands Sword - he considers the poll results to be critical???

Yet despite these deep concerns, only a minority oppose the American and British invasion, and as few as one in eight want the invaders to leave the country straight away. They want the occupying troops to restore normality and then hand the country back to the Iraqis. In effect, the people of Baghdad are telling the Americans, "You say you came to make our lives better. You need to prove you can — and fast."

Thats not exactly critical in my book. Seems more pro-US, on balance. "Despite our reservations, we like you, unless I have to live in this filthy cholera infested hole any longer than six months, in which case I'll be peeved". What do you expect? "O Great Satan, who has bombed all our power stations and left us without lights, we love you?" Come on. It seems to me that the poll results are what I, and doubtless others, would expect, given the situation, and that the message presented is broadly positive.

So the Iraqi's think its about oil, or Israel. Not surprising, I imagine half of Britain, and three quarters of New York, think it was about oil too. Incidentally, I'm not sure Iain is reading the same poll results I am, because it doesn't say 70% think it was about Israel at all.

Iain first rubbishes the polls methodology, which the pollsters themselves owned up to. Better than putting your head in the sand like an ostrich though, no? Thats the sort of thing socialists do, because they truly don't even have a crumb of comfort when it comes to measuring their policy against benefit, and there are crumbs aplenty in that poll, enough to make at least three quarters of a loaf. Anyway, and then Iain has the audacity to slate the many existing analyses before summing up with this rather laughable one of his own,

So, if we are to believe the survey at all, we can say that it shows a Baghdad that is either in dire need of infrastructure improvements to shore up faith in the liberating powers, or a Baghdad where there is a substantial claque of Baathist sympathizers who resent their loss of privilege and are liable to exaggerate their woes to western journalists and pollsters.

So, the 75 percent of respondents who said they felt less safe are a "Baathist claque"? Better wheel out the nukes then, because if 75% of Iraq is a Baathist claque thats too many for even Stalin to round up. And I guess the 80% who complain about power cuts are in the pay of Iranian subversives, because The Lights are On, Citizen?

Come on, be real. You honestly thought the Iraqi's were going to fall over themselves with gratitude? If so, thats extremely naive. Whether they do or not, I still maintain that in the long term, Iraq will be better off, and the Iraqis are hoping that too. But yes, there is some unrest and dissent, thats only natural when you don't have running water. To not admit that is to be doing that ostrich thing.

The Spectator's editor, Boris Johnson MP, claimed that the polling company had a "fundamental responsibility" in carrying out the poll. It is possible that the way it is being interpreted is fundamentally irresponsible.

I think BoJo is right there (he's been arguing for war for a long time, too, though he is a bit of a Tory wet). As for the irresponsibility, yeah, once again, I couldn't put it any better myself, Iain. A shame, given I normally agree with what he says, but then, I guess I'm not as red blooded as the typical NRO reader, even though I'm on NRO's side of the fence 90% of the time.

The Times comments in suitably mocking tones about the release of Tony Martin, he who must be locked up to prevent injury to the nations scum burglars, when they come to try and rob him.

The coverage of this case must surely be a contributor to the ever climbing crime rate in this country, when the judiciary make it clear that to defend oneself against a criminal will end you up in the nick, while the criminal will get to sue you for causing him stress.

That sounds like a joke. Sadly, it's not.

The tragic death of Dr David Kelly just makes Blair's life even more miserable. Blair's sole consolation is that Parliament is enjoying the summer recess, so he can at least keep his political head down.

But really, I'm beginning to almost feel sorry for Our Tone. For the first few years of his premiership, nothing could go wrong - his Long Honeymoon with the electorate. Then, the sparkle began to fade - and for the last few years, starting around September 11, rumbles of disquiet began in earnest. And right now, it look like God Himself just can't help digging at Blair whenever the opportunity arises.

I think the government can't really be blamed. Dr Kelly was questioned by a select committee, an allegedly independent body of MPs. OK, they have a government slant, but they are not The Government - that would be the Labourite ministers. Besides, I did watch a few clips from the debate, and it didn't seem all that bad to me. Searching, aggessive questions, yes, but what do you expect a parliamentary committee to do?

On the other hand, the BBC's antics make me sick. Firstly they were muttering about Kelly not being their news source. Now the man is dead, the BBC are saying he was, and using the poor doctors demise as political ammunition to lay down a withering barrage while Auntie retreats in good order from the fray. The BBC could have admitted he was the source before he got dragged before Parliament and given the third degree. But the BBC was insistent it was not him. Now they've changed their tune, which in my cynical mind could be even more suspicious. Who's arse were they covering by their silence, his, or theirs? Admission would reveal that their source was not an authoritative intelligence source as they touted, but a biowarfare expert? Maybe he truly is not the source, but the BBC governors know an opportunity when they see it? I sincerely hope that is not the case, but my inner conspiracy theorist is being insistent this morning.

Lord Hutton is chairing the mandatory inquiry, which will no doubt produce an enormous tome which nobody will read, months after Dr David Kelly has, sadly, been all but forgotten by the fickle public. I do think, however, it's just one more nail in the coffin of Blair's Labour - and, we can only hope, one in the coffin of the BBC as well.

There is a lot of stuff in the Spectator this week about the Baghdadi opinion poll they conducted which I blogged about on the 17th June. Not much new analysis unfortunately, so I found that somewhat dull.

This article on "corporate manslaughter" is much more interesting. The article highlights a number of legal points which I find highly disturbing. In particular,

The Court of Appeal’s decision in the Southall case also confirmed that, as it stands, the law rules out any prosecution based on ‘agglomeration’: lumping together a series of failings by junior managers and then identifying a particular named senior executive as responsible for them all.

I think thats a good thing myself. However, as the article explains, good odds suggest that Labour will change the law in such a way that this may possibly be allowed some time in the future.

I can think of few things which would scare a chief exec more, than a law like this, which means yet another reason for businesses to avoid Blair's Britain. Also, and perhaps even worse, in my mind it seems that the connection to the crime is pretty tenous. Take the Hatfield train crash. Just how much power would a Railtrack chief executive have over the events that caused that crash? Can he really be said to be "guilty" of causing the crash and thus be charged with manslaughter? Railtrack was a pretty top heavy, inefficient organisation, I recall reading that there were apparently seven layers of management between the executives and the peons working the signals. Given that gulf of separation, can an executive be truly guilty of corporate killing, can he be held to be as guilty as if he pulled the metaphorical trigger himself? Perhaps there may be some cases (off the top of my head, an exec working in a pharmaceuticals company who knowingly pushed the sale of a drug with known potential dangers) but surely in these cases the existing laws suffice. In the example of Railtrack, I can't see any chief exec being guilty of anything more than being a poor leader, but thats a far cry from being guilty of manslaughter. They are simply too far removed.

The motives for such a change in the law are entirely party political, as the Spectator rightly points out - the old union dinosaurs throwing around their weight again. And the consequences of such a law would be disastrous too, utterly quashing decision making and intelligent risk assessment beneath the jackboot of Absolute Safety.

   Friday, July 18, 2003
The Torygraph comments about the various socialists on Blair's back, as I did below. NRO also comments on this from the other side of the Atlantic, with some doom 'n gloom forecasts about the "enigmatic" Gordon Brown, who is likely to be PM when Blair gets the poison pill. And even better, it looks like Iain Murray agrees with me too...

"A good job from Our Tone. If he was like this at home rather than a hyper-spinning control freak, he wouldn't be in the trouble he's in now.

Well, actually, he'd be in the Conservative Party."

Couldn't put it better myself.

Todays blog must, of course, mention the Prime Minister's speech to Congress, where Blair shows off his Gladstonian credentials.

The speech is a pretty rousing bit of oratory. Reading the text doesn't do it justice, you really have to have seen it on the TV to get the full effect. Sad to say, I don't think Iain "The Quiet Man" Duncan-Smith could perform at one tenth of the ability of Blair in such a situation. (I'm one of those Tories who still wants IDS out, myself). And I am torn, for while I want to see the Blair Government come apart at the seams, I would feel bad if the Iraq war proved to the be the reason why.

In a way, it is a shame that Blair is a Labourite. Reading that speech, do you think there is any common ground between Blair and the Fabians, Blair and Wrong Again Benn, Blair and Polly Toynbee? (or Karl Marx for that matter?) Clearly not.

The man is in the wrong party. What good he could possibly do is diluted by all the Reds on his benches. The foundation hospitals Bill for example, its actually a good Bill in principle and something the Tories could well do themselves, but after Gordon Brown got his mitts on it and watered it down to nothing, its not much more than a waste of Parliamentary time. The hunting Bill, in my view, is more a bone Tone threw to his backbenchers to gnaw on to keep them off his back than serious Blairite policy. If there was still a Liberal Party in the United Kingdom (the Liberal's red headed stepchild (ho ho ho), the Lib-Dems, do not count) he would probably be a Whig rather than a socialist.

Reading the bit of Blair's speech where he talks about EUrope though, I see that what he says and what reality is begins to diverge. If what the man said about EUrope was true, his Europhilia could perhaps be forgiven. But, remember that Blair was a staunch Europhile long before the eastern European countries arrived on the EUropean political scene. And I am sceptical as to what EUrope can do against the Franco-German-Benelux Alliance. If he thinks Poland is going to tip the scales in favour of the free market and an "alliance of nations", Blair is, in my view, sorely mistaken. Just talk to a continental European. A superstate is precisely what most of them want. Britain is the odd one out. I'll grant that Poland is possibly an odd one out too, but we "alliance of sovereign nations" people are in the minority in this continent, make no mistake. When push comes to shove, you will notice "right wingers" like the Italians and the Spanish climb on to the superstate ship. (Such is the political cost of speaking against, even IDS was unable to be too damning in his Eurospeech in Prague the other week, so you expect Aznar to be? No.)

If only he did not have such a lust for Europe (you do not need to sacrifice sovereignty to show off multilateral credentials) or "modernisation" (I bet Blair thinks he's like Gladstone, reforming a system in urgent need of reform. But the system patently is not, we do not have vetoes in the Lords to worry about now, for example, and nothing sticks in my craw more than his constant "modernisation"), and if only he was on the blue benches rather than the red, he could perhaps be redeemed. It is unfortunate that he is not.

Even Tories are thankful for the small mercy that it is at least Blair, and not Brown, who is running the country. That is, I suppose, an oblique compliment for Our Leader, who, when the chips were down in Iraq, did the right thing, in the teeth of all opposition, when his own political support is built upon a gang of ex-CND members and unilateral disarmament activists, who are even now attempting to plant the poisoned dagger between his shoulderblades.

One sentence in Blair's speech really did strike a chord in me.

As Britain knows, all predominant power seems for a time invincible; but in fact it is transient. The question is what do you leave behind?

Thats really it, isn't it. The British Empire is no more, but I have no doubt that the world is better place thanks to it. Britain is respected across the world, even in those places where we were a former imperial power. While no nation is perfect and mistakes were made, black southern Africans still give the likes of Cecil Rhodes respect today, which no Spanish conquistador could expect from an Inca, should they still exist. I firmly believe history will judge the worlds American hour at least as kindly, and if so - there can be no better endorsement than that.

   Thursday, July 17, 2003
The US economy is crawling out of it's hole (I only recently found out from various sources, some anecdotal, about just how much in the doldrums the US economy has been of late) finally it seems.

Meanwhile, the UK bounces uneasily along and is so politically whipped it won't even attempt to remove the concrete boots with the snazzy EU markings on them. The standard response will come from the politicos of course - ostrich-like denial.

What do you think is more shameful, gentle reader? The unelected (boo, hiss) peers of the House of Lords rejecting for a second time Tony Blair's justice Bill which curbs the right of trial by jury, or the illiberal Tony and his minion, Big Blunkett, for even suggesting such a thing in the first place?

I'm with the noble Lords on this one. Curbing, even slightly, the right of trial by jury is just the thin end of the wedge, and there are important judicial and constitutional reasons for the right of trial by jury. Besides, I am suspicious of the motivations - the motivation could be simply as base as the Eurocratisation of our criminal justice system. We have nothing to learn from the Continent on matters of justice and democracy.

Well, finally we have an opinion poll from Iraq itself, where we can actually get an idea of what Baghdadi's themselves think, as opposed to what the lefty press thinks.

And... it is very encouraging, no? Most Iraqis are indifferent to the occupying forces, of those who care, those who like us outnumber those who dislike us 3 to 2. Three times as many Iraqi's would prefer to live under infidel America than Saddam, despite all the propagandising from the likes of al-Jazeera, and the long history of Middle Eastern official hatred towards the West.

Best of all I think is that a plurality of Baghdadi's want to see a Western style democracy in Iraq when the dust has settled, and that support for another dictator, be he Saddam, mullah, or A.N. Other, is pretty much nonexistent.

Only around 1 in 9 want the coalition forces out right now, so that puts paid to all the accusations of tyranny being bandies around by the left wing press, there is a clear body of opinion that wants us to stay for about a year.

The poll does paint a dark picture of what its actually like in Iraq right now, though, with basic services in a poor state and security clearly being a major issue still. These issues are not going to go away over night though, and it looks like the Iraqis are in possession of more common sense than the Guardian and realise that. Overall, it looks like they are on balance happy that we came, on balance happy to give us a year before benefit of the doubt begins to wear thin, and a plurality would like to see a Western style democracy at the end of this difficult road.

Sounds to me like Bush has been thoroughly vindicated.

Speaking of the lefty press, have a look at this. That report so clearly had to be written by a lefty biting his lip. And of course, the poll is tucked away in the small print beneath a far more sensationalist story here where the Guardian dredges up that old left wing hate object, the spooks and drags the CIA through the mud. Which is a bit amusing, as that yellowcake story got built up by no less a man than Tony Lynton Blair via his associate Alistair Campbell, and the British press are traducing him for it right now.

In this country we have no need for "shadowy organisations of evil" to "mislead the government", here we just have Alistair Campbell (or Tony Blair) just bending the truth (lying is such a strong word) to Parliament with every breath they can muster.

The perfidious French (l'Europe, c'est moi!) display more cohones than the Brits do when it comes to Europe, again.

On the subject of tax harmonisation,

Frits Bolkestein, the EU's Dutch tax commissioner, admitted that the tax on children's clothing could rise to 17.5 per cent - the British rate of VAT - but that the move was necessary to end what he said was unfair economic distortion.

Unfair economic distortion. As their countries are high tax, bad for business economies, and as our low(er) tax economy is evidently undermining the poor little souls, clearly we must become a high tax economy as well, to negate any "unfair" advantage.

Perhaps they should cut their own tax, rather than tell us what to do, eh? This reminds me of Lenin, saying communism would only work if the entire world was communist. Indeed, then the whole world will be "fairly" uncompetitive.

But following intense lobbying by Jacques Chirac, the French president, for a special exemption on restaurant bills, the Commission proposes to cut VAT rates for French diners from the present 19.6 per cent to as low as 5.5 per cent.

Also, the Dutch will retain a zero rate for their cut-flower industry and the Italian media empire of Silvio Berlusconi will be spared VAT on broadcasting.

Lets put notions of "fairness" to one side. This is about Country A trying to screw over Country B, and using the EU as the weapon to do it. Very communautaire. This is, of course, natural, it's just realpolitick, nations maximising their gains, and I expect it to happen. This just shows why the EU, a false unity, is doomed to failure. It's analagous to the UN, the UN was never about World Brotherhood, it was about nations screwing over other nations by using the UN as a weapon. Yes, the use of the past tense is deliberate.

"John Healey, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said: "This is a ridiculous proposal from the Commission. There is no way we will put VAT on children's clothes. This was a manifesto commitment. If it needs a veto then so be it. End of story." "

Yup, ridiculous is definitely a suitable word to describe the £68 billion per year boondoggle which is the European Commission. And finally...

One official described the horse-trading behind the scenes as shameful. "Isn't it interesting that a Dutch commissioner, a French director-general, and the Italian presidency all got what they wanted?"The EU said restaurant VAT did not distort the single market in the same way as tradeable goods such as clothes, which cross borders on a major scale.

Huh? Screw the single market, if all it is is an excuse to screw us.

Out, now.

All EU, All Day!

   Wednesday, July 16, 2003
The Fabian Society, a Lefty thinktank which is home to the likes of "Wrong Again" Benn (the man who, when he had his one and only shot in Government, made it his almost exclusive business to attempt to remove the Queens head from stamps - clearly Parliamentary time well spent), has produced a particularly idiotarian piece of work which even the Times gets stuck in to.

I find this paragraph from the Times particularly amusing...

It is odd, perhaps, that the Fabians decided to tackle this subject at all. Hegel once said that an organisation which concerns itself unduly with procedures has lost faith in its ultimate aims. If one joins a cricket club, one does not expect to spend one’s time discussing the club’s constitution. In the days when Fabian socialism was the wave of the future, the Fabians concerned themselves less with changing the constitution than with changing society. Perhaps indeed, the report tells us more about socialism, that prime ideological casualty of the 20th century, than it does about the monarchy.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The only thing broken about the monarchy (the monarchy costs every Brit 20p a year, which is practically nothing, especially when compared to white elephants like the European Commission), as far as a republican is concerned, is that it exists at all. I have a dim view of republican logic and priorities (Benn is "Wrong Again" for a reason), and that argument is not enough to convince either me or just about anybody else in this country to fire the Queen.

Looks like the Fabians now realise this, and thus are attempting to dress up their republican agenda in that wonderfully Blairite canard, "modernisation".

These people are petty philosophical losers, on the wrong side of history and common sense (ie, they are socialists). They are reduced to nihilistic striking out at the symbols of this nation as a substitute for actually attempting to better the lot of the Worker they are supposed to be helping out. The reasons for such a focus is because, well... socialism just doesn't work. Never has, never will. If the Fabians did what they were supposed to do, and spend their days making up Five Year Plans, the electorate would just laugh them out of the door. Which they did to Michael Foot, that honest Fabian, in 1983.

And so, bitter because socialism has been found wrong time and time again, bitter because any suggestion of far-Left politics of their brand brings back collective race memories of the Winter of Discontent, when the electorate finally ditched blatant socialism... they are reduced to petty republicanism to satisfy their loathing of their own Western country's ideals.

Their arguments just don't wash. The argument goes that as the Queen is politicised in that she has a few residual powers, the royal prerogative, her powers should be stripped and passed to someone "more democratic". The Fabians suggest the Speaker of the House. But... the Speaker fulfills a far more important political function than the Queen in keeping the House to order. The Speaker is supposed to be the very paragon of neutrality. What the Fabians are suggesting will politicise the Speakers position. Presumably it means the Speaker will be the one who ultimately decides if, say, the country goes to war or not. His position will become a party political prize, which would be an unmitigated disaster if so. The Times article mentions Sweden, which did this very thing, and it's proven simply not to work. The Fabians have not done their research, they are just resorting to petty ideology, "just because".

Incidentally, I should stop slating poor Anthony Benn. He's the man probably most responsible of all for 20 years of Tory rule, so I guess I should thank him.

I have always been of the opinion that the NHS could only be reformed if the ghost of Nye Bevan which haunts this country is dispelled from the national consciousness, and people cotton on to the fact that there are alternative ways to run a health service.

Janet Daley tells us that public opinion is moving much faster than I thought on the subject. Five years ago it was said that the NHS offered relatively poor service due to lack of funding (and its true - the NHS actually had half the money per head that Medicare enjoys in the US, and was not merely a safety net service, it is the service) and so the service had an excuse. Tony Blair, in raising the NHS budget massively with little improvement in performance, has now proven this myth to be a falsehood.

It seems the public have cottoned on, and, in acknowledging that the NHS needs more than simply extra funds, are open to a radical change in funding structure.

The Torygraph is continuing with the anti-BBC stuff.

With the BBC being attacked from Right and Left now, it's days, without at least a radical shakeup if not outright abolition, must surely be numbered. There is a great sea change of opinion in the chattering classes, at least. The less politically minded still adore the BBC it seems (from the usual pub conversations anyway), but eventually I am sure that the disquiet will spread even to those who don't watch the BBC news and listen to the storms of indignation which seem to inevitably follow every main event the BBC covers.

Incidentally, I mentioned before several times about how criticising the Beeb was once considered on a par with heresy. Look like the BBC itself still considers any accusations to be akin to heresy, from their positions looking down on us from the ivory tower.

Hirsh Sandesara gives this dubious Times article a far more thorough fisking than the paragraph I devoted to it on July 8th here.

Another good blog in the blogosphere!

   Tuesday, July 15, 2003
Yet more Euroland news, this story is getting a little old but I missed it on Sunday.

Why on earth is the UK hellbent on entwining itself further in the profligate, corrupt European Union? It boggles my mind. If the EU was accountable, like the Eurocrats bleat, things like this wouldn't be in the newspapers constantly.

Incidentally - a 62 billion pound budget! Lets give that number the respect it deserves, "billion" is so easily lost in the minds eye.


Thats a lot of zeroes to be controlled by such incompetents. Thats 15 Nimitz carriers, to take the figures from below. Apparently 5% is lost in fraud, every year, and the Commission seems to offer me, the voter, no discernable benefit to me or this country in which I live whatsoever.

Abolish the Commission and give the UK a couple of Nimitz's for money saved?

Again, sign me up.

I'm a bit slow from the whistle blowing on this one, but the Sunday Times last Sunday ran yet another opinion column on the topic of EU corruption. Turns out another of Neil Kinnocks antifraud auditors has quit, demoralised by the sheer intractability and magnitude of the task these poor accountants have to try and sort out.

It boggles the mind that the United Kingdom, with a civil service about as reasonably efficient as one could hope for given the poor performance of public bodies in that regard, should be wanting to get more deeply entwined in what can only be described as a profligate, unaccountable mess.

EUrocrats may bleat about transparency and democracy but when push comes to shove, it's clear that the EUrocrats would rather be sunning themselves in some offshore tax haven sitting on a dubiously obtained pile of loot than sorting out the EU's problems. If the EU was accountable, how come we keep seeing stories like this?

In other Euroland news, the pain in the arse facts of life of MoD bidding wars goes on. In the interests of being communautaire, the Government is making a right pigs ear of the acquisition of the Royal Navy's two new carriers.

The original cost for the pair was 2.8 billion pounds, that look set to go up. To put things into context, an American Nimitz carrier (twice as a big, four times as scary if your in the unfortunate position of fighting one) costs about 4 billion dollars which is... not an incomparable sum.

Rather than waste time getting every Euroland company we can a slice of the pie in the interests of artificially stoking up the UK's trade figures with Europe and bragging about how communautaire we are, we could have done worse than just buy a US design for the carrier and go with that. It has the advantage that the costs are less likely to sting us (there are twelve Nimitz's already, the Americans know how to build these things), and the ships are tried and tested and actually work. Plus a Royal Navy ship would have a spiffier name than a US one, giving the RN vessel a clear advantage for style :) (Sorry Americans, but a name like "HMS Glorious" is far more stirring than a "USS Carl Vinson", no? Imagine an HMS Tony Benn *shudder* I'd pity any sailors on a ship named after "Wrong Again" Benn).

I think returning the defence budget to 4% of GDP, Cold War levels (currently it sits at 2.5% and falling) would easily let us commission two carriers comparable to the Nimitz, and then god help the Argentinians, or anybody else, who thinks the Royal Navy is a pushover. And the cost? A few less Welfaristas, and a pruning of the Guardian jobs section.

Sign me up.

I find it amazing how the House of Lords have consistently been the defenders of our rights, standing fast against the illiberal tide of legislation emanating from the current Government, and in particular, Big Blunkett.

This undemocratic body (shock, horror, undemocratic, must be Evil) time and time again seems to know exactly at which point the Lords need to pat the Commons on the shoulder and say, in an upper class voice of course, "I say old bean, perhaps you should, ah, reconsider? Think it over a bit more, theres a good chap, looks like a bit of a shoddy Bill you got there. " while attracting a bit of the media spotlight to illuminate the problem for the public.

Thank God for them. I think Joe Public is proud of having the right to a trial before ones peers, it's one of these things that makes England a free country, and if the Lords didnt make it news, the Commons would have made it law by now.

Being a paranoid Eurosceptic, I needless to say have a niggling suspicion that this is another initiative aimed at making us more "in line" with our loving brothers on the continent, for whom details like a fair trial are but an inconvenience for the enlightened State getting what it wants.

Incidentally, speaking of the euro, it looks like it's all falling apart.

Mon Dieu! It's serious, now it's us and not the Germans being destroyed by the euro! Time for a whiff of diplomatic grapeshot!

(Not big news really. The French ignore details like the stability and growth pact. Promises and treaty obligations are for others to adhere to, not them. Out, now, I say.)

All EU, All Day!

I've been musing on Scotland of late, partly due to an email I received on the topic of the West Lothian Question which I blogged about last week. Here is an interesting chunk of it...

"In corresponding with some spineless civil serpent in the DPM's office, I'm told that giving England it's own Parliament would "result in the Union could become broken".

This is a big reason of why Her Majesty's Opposition are not shouting from the rafters for reform. "Breaking the Union" borders on heresy in old, port drinking Tory circles. I'm sad to say any reform is going to be tentative, given the current set of MPs we have. That said, I think if Blair's majority after the next election is trimmed to, say, 30 MPs, it could well be that he is dependent on the Scottish MPs to form a government. Which will really push the issue, any red blooded Opposition should be going for the kill in such a situation. Tony Blair's latest sop to the Celts, on the grounds of making sure the Reds of Scotland continue to prop up the socialist utopia at Westminster, surely is not going to help. The English electorate are generally not political addicts like me, but eventually they will notice this affront to English fair play, and force some Westminster hands.

To finish off with the "kick em out" sentiments I'm expressing of late, here's a few truths about that incarnation of Satan introduced to the world thanks to Braveheart as the cruel pagan, Edward Longshanks (aka Edward I, 1272-1307).

Edward was a medieval monarch, and so when you look at his actions you have to bear in mind that he is not a creature of the modern world. He went a long way to modernise the feudal system of government which was so prevalent in Europe at the time. Feudalism is basically a contract between a lord and his serfs - while the serfs are expected to work for the lord, the lord is also supposed to protect his serfs and rule over them fairly and impartially, be a good judge, and so on. The obligations of the lord in feudalism quite often went by the wayside, but Edward I considered protecting his subjects via fair laws to be paramount - a comparatively modern and humane ideal. Edward was also the pioneer of the English focus group, he believed that a king should rule with the consent and advice of the governed, which by the standards of the day was downright radical.

He modernised the governmental bureaucracy of the day, creating the Exchequer, Chancery, Household and Council, of which the distant descendent of the Exchequer is still around and active. Again unusually for a medieval absolute monarch, the Exchequer operated with the Kings authority but independently of his personal rule, an arrangement which is the distant forbear of our current constitutional monarchy arrangements. He even set up the Kings Bench, a group of judges to preside in cases of law where the King had a vested interest. A man who, at the very least, attempted to inject a measure of impartiality and fair play into the governance of his lands.

As just about the entire world now knows, his foreign policy was aggressive. Wales was subjugated almost in it's entirety, and administered by appointed justices. Longshanks' firstborn son, Edward II, was in fact the first English Prince of Wales, a tradition which continues to this day.

Of course, his Scottish policy attracts the most attention. His claim to the Scottish throne was actually by treaty - after the old Scottish king died, Longshanks arranged a marriage between Margaret, heir to the Scottish throne, and his son, Edward II. Margaret died on route to England however, leaving the succession in dispute. Given this background, and the common Norman roots shared between the English and Scottish aristocracy, he then mediated in the selection of a new Scottish vassal king. This went off without a hitch, but the Scottish took a dim view of Edwards demands for military service, which provoked William Wallace to start a rebellion in 1297. What would be called guerilla warfare then wracked Scotland, with Wallace being captured and executed in 1304 (incidentally Edward outlived him by three years), and Robert the Bruce continuing the uprising until Bannockburn in 1306. The campaign was conducted ruthlessly and with great savagery over almost a decade, which is responsible for the reputation Edward "enjoys" today.

A side effect of the Scottish strife was that Edward had to raise taxes, and in doing so, given his views on ruling with the advice of his subjects, consulted Parliament, which at the time was a very young body, having been established only in 1260. This early Parliament reaffirmed Magna Carta, and with Edward's agreement, concluded that no tax should be levied without consent of the realm as a whole, as represented by Parliament. (Before the Scottish Wars of Independence, Parliament had granted Edward a levy of one twentieth of the kingdoms wealth to prosecute a Crusade to the holy lands).

Sir Richard Baker, author of A Chronicle of the Kings of England, declared that Longshanks had in him two wisdoms, rarely found in any single, and almost never found together in one man - "an ability of judgement in himself, and a readiness to hear the judgement of others. He was not easily provoked into passion, but once in passion, not easily appeased, as was seen by his dealing with the Scots; towards whom he showed at first patience, and at last severity. If he be censured for his many taxations, he may be justified by his well bestowing them; for never prince laid out his money to more honour of himself, or good of his kingdom."

He probably was one of the most successful medieval monarchs of England, in any case, and many of the remnants of his governmental reforms have survived through the ages even to today.

Of course, "history is written by men who hanged heroes", or more accurately, written by Mel Gibson.

   Friday, July 11, 2003
I was only just ranting about the corrupt Commission the other day, so it's timely to hear more stories of the European Onion's perfidy.

This time it's Eurostat on the take. And they've been on the take for years. Nine, to be precise. It took the fraud police that long to get off their butts to do something.

Looks like Neil is asleep at the wheel. Or probably, more likely, swamped by overwork and under pressure from all sides.

   Thursday, July 10, 2003
BoJo fires another broadside in the Torygraph. This time, the target of his ire is twofold. Firstly, the proposed ban on hunting, and secondly, what is known in British circles as the West Lothian Question.

The issue of banning hunting never really resonated with me. There is nothing to debate about, as BoJo so succintly describes. It's not a Bill concerned with animal rights, whatever they may be, or some tosh about environmentalism, or caring government, or any of that. This is about class war. Its about all these near-communists on the Labour backbenches putting a thumb in the eye of the redcoated toff. It's about Tony Blair giving the class warrior wolves a trussed up Tory to tear to pieces in a frenzy of rage and revenge.

Really, when the motivation is something like that, there isnt much to talk about other than highlight that fallacies, which is why hunting is low on my blogging priorities. Even lower than answering questionnaires is. My views have just been elucidated, and I think a bit of newspaper research will reveal them to be accurate enough, if somewhat bluntly presented.

The West Lothian Question is a bit more pertinent. A few Scottish factoids...

  • Scotland has 8.6% of the population of the UK, but 10.8% of the MPs
  • Scottish MPs, as they sit in Parliament, may vote on purely English matters, like hunting. Meanwhile, English MPs may not vote on matters in Scotland which have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament. This is the West Lothian question, in a nutshell.
  • Brown is unashamedly Scottish. Blair is originally a Scot too, though those times are long past. John Reid is running the nationwide NHS, and he's a Scot. So the economy and the health service are run by Scots. And the PM is arguably a Scot too. Robin Cook is not in the Blairs good books right now, but he's a Labour grandee - and he's a Scot too. No Scots, no Labour.
  • The Barnett Formula is intended to ensure that all parts of the UK get the same quality of public service. What this means in practice is that London, responsible for a quarter of the nations GDP, subsidises the rest of the country. As Scotland is worse off than England and especially southern England is, this means big subsidies go north of the border, typically to the tune of Scottish departments having 20 percent more cash than equivalent English ones.
  • and finally as a party political point, Scotland is a den of socialism, and represents a big chunk of red on the map, and those MPs help the Labour Party gain power over the entire nation. They are still voting for the Scottish Socialist Party (translation : communist Trots complete with the red star) up there, even.
  • Devolution came about because of the last point above in reverse, a long standing Tory government, installed by the English electorate, imposed on the Scottish. Arguments could be made for a federal system based on that, but what we've got to put up with now is a complete and utter botch job, which was predicted to cause strife.

    And so it is. Being a Tory, needless to say I'd rather devolution never happened, and there was no Scottish parliament. As it's now a fact of life, I would like devolution to be done properly, which the current situation clearly is not, with West Lothian questions and suchlike. And, to be honest, if the choice was keep the status quo, or Scottish independence, out they should go. Don't let the door smack your ass on the way out.

    Reform of this situation is not going to happen. Not under Labour, with the vested interest of those Scottish votes and valuable Scots of intelligence to act as Tony's ministers, like John Reid. Tonee only won a contentious vote on hospitals the other day thanks to Scottish support, and the issue doesn't even affect Scotland. I suspect the Tories won't reform it either, constitutional reform is generally anathema to a Conservative after all. Indeed, the UK government is and always has been terrified of breaking the Union, so the bribery of the Scots goes on. To quote Lord Barnett, the man responsible for setting the funding formula as it is...

    “I didn’t know it would last all of these years. I thought it was a temporary expedient but it finished up as a formula - nobody wanted to change it. There is huge scope for improvement because there was no assessment of real needs - that’s the real trouble. So consequently this formula that I used in 1978 is still being used today and that was purely political – there was no proper needs assessment - but Margaret Thatcher and John Major were frightened to change it for fear of loosing seats. The present government are reluctant to change it despite the fact that it clearly needs changing, and you should look at real needs - they are reluctant to change it now because they fear what will happen because of devolution in Scotland – Scotland gets far more than it should.”

    Sadly, this is not a fine example of the evolving British constitution, its a fine example of a Tony Blair botch job, like so many others, so it needs some attention. And if thats letting those ungrateful, miserable, one issue wretches who are addicted to more than their fair share of my tax money north of the border go, so be it. Though it would be sad to see the end of the United Kingdom. And I like the blue background on the Union Jack, too.

       Wednesday, July 09, 2003
    For those who may not know just how great my chosen Prime Ministers are (see below), here are some links.

    Benjamin Disraeli, "Empire for Empire's sake"
    Gladstone, classical liberal
    Palmerston, of the gunboat diplomacy (Never leave a man behind, 19th century style)
    Churchill, who needs no introduction, and finally
    the Iron Lady

    Here is a nice modern example of the principles of Newspeak in action.

    Whoever controls the present, controls the past. Whoever controls the past, controls the future.

    I really hope this is smoke and mirrors. I would say "But the Times is usually quite good" but of late I think the Times has let me down, so I'm treating this with more scepticism than before.

    It must be remembered that armies are blunt instruments when it comes to maintaining the force of law. That was well proven in Northern Ireland. I would not like to be an Iraqi right now, but again, it's too soon. If this is still going on in 12 months I think something has seriously come adrift there, but it's still too soon to be sure.

    The report mentions local magistrates, the fact there even are any gives me hope and tells me that things are moving along.

    The Telegraph has followed up on the old Giscard of the Diamonds story with an opinion piece which is fairly biting.

    As is pointed out, the Telegraph columnists were all over Blairs "victory" there as soon as it happened, it didn't fool anybody of Eurosceptic tendencies. But it didn't stop the Europhiles from trying, to be manipulative, to deliberately set out to deceive, to sweeten the bitter pill, to railroad, to coerce. These tactics are not new when it comes to any policy involving the EU. To quote some Ted Heath...

    In 1973 : "There is no European single state."

    1998 on Question Time with Peter Sissons :

    Sissons "...a European state, a single government, did you know about this when you took us in?"
    Heath : "Of course, Yes"

    This is beyond political debate and into blunt deception. Whenever there is resistance to the EU, we get things like this. Like, say, Nice. Whenever I think about Nice, I'm reminded of an episode of Babylon 5, when Garibaldi is slamming some victims head repeatedly into the bar. "I'm going to ask this again *slam*, and again *slam* until we get it right..."

    And with all this backdrop, the Minister of Europe, via the Times, has the gall to say something like this.

    Instead, the Tories have reinvented themselves as the party of Chamberlain, treating Europe as “a faraway country of which we know nothing”.

    Words are failing me, again. It is the Labour Party who are into appeasement, supine before the almighty Commission which, time and time again, just keeps proving its absolute pie-in-the-sky ineptitude, not to mention corruption. If anything IDS is playing the role of Churchill, the man standing astride the "tide of history" (its not history at all, more like a tide of Lefty propaganda) and having the guts to say No.

    Yes, I know the British electorate are supine and don't care. Its always been just what our Minister said in the electorates eyes, a faraway country of which we know nothing, and don't care, and certainly won't be voting about, when there are issues much closer to home to influence the vote. The electorate will only care when it's too late.

    Gah! I'm foaming again. I'm feeling a Garibaldi moment coming on myself. *slam* We can sit here all night until we get it right. No to the EU! *slam*

    Or, to answer Denis McShane's question,

    "It is a question only a new generation of Conservatives can answer."

    all I can really say is display_middle_finger.gif.

    Incidentally, I don't care how rich, or how poor, we will be thanks to or in spite of the EU. I personally think any economic arguments in favour are utterly risible, (I'll debate this some other time), but even if they weren't, even if the EU was going to make us all rich, the answer is still no. Thats a compact the Chinese government made, and there are rumblings of discontent even with their economic miracle. A decent government and a free country are worth more than a thousand quid a year, or whatever advantage the EU may in a best case scenario accrue to me. Hell, the government is just going to swipe it all anyway with higher taxes.

    All EU, All Day!

    Time to weigh in about gun ownership again. Woo! The reason being, as Steven points out at Clueless, is because the UN recently released a new report on global firearm ownership.

    Steven, of course, defends the Constitution (Hurrah!) and no bad thing too. I already blogged on gun ownership here and my views have not changed since Porphy and I had a major debate over ICQ on the subject. However...

    I think supporters of the 2nd Amendment must temper their enthusiasm with a few factoids. The Iraqis had heavy machineguns and rocket launchers in their homes, and it didn't help them against their own totalitarian government. US troops know that some things, like RPGs, are just over the top, and have been working on removing them. There are kids in Africa with undescended testicles who have access to military grade hardware, not the stuff the typical American can get his mitts on. Every household owning an AK did not help the Iraqis (it's apparently an Arab tradition to let loose with some AK fire into the sky during celebrations like weddings, now thats a gun loving culture), being able to swap last years mobile phone for a clip of 7.62 and a phosphorous grenade is not helping the Congolese.

    Gun ownership is, to me, a pretty trivial issue, even now. I can see it's an infringement of liberty to take weapons away from the populace. I can see the issues regarding self defence and crime. What I cannot see is just how being armed to the teeth helps maintain a stable government. No way. If so, the Congo wouldn't be a hellhole. That can only come from respect for the rule of law, and a government which enjoys the support of it's citizens.

    My Russian friend came from the Motherland the other day (he's a student here in the UK), and he's amazed at how crime has rocketed, even by his standards. Apparently all his friends are in the mafia there now, pretty much everybody he knows is on the take at least somehow. Corruption from top to bottom, criminality is a way of life. And he said there is no social stigma attached to it at all. It's just taken as red (excuse the pun) that everybody is involved with the mafyas somehow. That, to me, is a pretty diseased nation, where respect for law and personal integrity are at rock bottom. That, to me, is more important a factor at determining national success than how many guns they have.

    Caveats aside, I'd tell em to go to hell too if I was an American. Incidentally, it's quite possible that gun control will be one of the very few things which could possibly be more liberal under an EU government rather than a UK government. The United Kingdom apparently has the most restrictive gun laws on the entire planet, and that I can believe. If the European Union decides it has "competence" on this issue, and overrides Parliament, it is almost certain that gun laws here would be relaxed.

    Of course, it's equally likely that for a change the EU will harmonise everybody else to have our gun laws, thus bringing all of Europe to the most illiberal stance possible. Oh well...

       Tuesday, July 08, 2003

    But aside from these fun and games, what they've failed to realise, is that the reason most of us classical liberals are classical liberals, no matter what our starting position was — whether socialist, fascist, communist, Last Tory Boy, or whatever — is because we have been prepared to argue our case in a sensible calm fashion.

    Is that a swipe at me in there? ;)

    More angst between Turkey and the US today.

    It wasn't all that long ago, when la perfide Francais was holding up moving Patriots to Turkey, that Turkey was America's Friend. I recall posts in NRO from long ago saying how America should just drop NATO and stick with allies they could trust. Like Turkey.

    How short sighted. Not like the Turks have much (anything?) in common with the US and their interests. Anyway, politics have moved on, and now it's Turkey proving that they are quite capable of being a pain in the American ass.

    Not that this was not already well known by any with eyes to see, but its nice to see something approaching a blunt admission from Giscard of the Diamonds.

    Communautaire, indeed. Out, now, I say.

    All EU, All Day!

    This article on the EU at Samizdata is great. The comments are the best part.

    See how the resident Europhile (Kodiak) creates a lot of hot air by taking offence at the desecration of the Holy Flag of Euroland.

    All EU, All Day!

    Steven Den Beste provides some answers to this questionnaire, and as I'm all blogged out at the moment, what the hell, I'll weigh in.

    1. Do you have a personal hero? If so, who is it?

    ...not really one for heroes. If pressed, I'd answer Churchill, or possibly Isambard Kingdom Brunel (19th century's best engineer).

    2. What is your favourite book of all time?

    Lord of the Rings. Yes, I'm sad.

    3. What does "diversity" mean to you?

    A left wing political slogan used as a tool to bring about the end of the United Kingdom, and usher in the New Age of EUtopia. (Yeah, I'm radical).

    4. What is the wildest thing you've ever done?

    Drinking alcohol after taking a hay fever pill (I forgot). Was so out of it, I had a shower with my clothes on. And then went to bed. Without drying off. Next morning was not good.

    5. Do you regret doing it?

    Yes! Was an accident.

    6. Can you drive a stick shift?

    No, I can't drive anything.

    7. Whats the highest speed you've ever travelled in a car?

    A bit over 100mph.

    8. Were you driving, or riding at the time?

    Riding. See 6.

    9. Which is better: snakes or spiders?


    10. What is the most disgusting thing you ever ate?

    Seaweed soup. Least, thats what I assume it was. Green, salty, had seaweed in it - and vile.

    11. Have you ever shit your pants? Be HONEST!


    12. Was losing your virginity an enjoyable experience?


    13. Should oral sex be outlawed or encouraged?

    Neither. Horses for courses.

    14. Name one man with a fine ass.

    I don't think I'm qualified to answer that one...

    15. Do you watch golf on television? If not, will you iron my shirts?

    No, and no.

    16. Who is Martha Burk?

    No idea.

    17. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

    I'd be less lazy. Indolence seems to be my natural state, unfortunately.

    18. Do you eat raw oysters?

    No. Anything that came out of the sea is bad. See 10.

    19. Are you claustrophobic?


    20. If you rode a motorcycle, would you wear a helmet even if the law said you didn‘t have to?


    21. Name five great Presidents.

    Not really qualified to answer. I can name five great Prime Ministers though. Churchill, Disraeli, Thatcher, Palmerston, and Gladstone.

    22. Name three shitty Presidents.

    See 21. Three shitty PMs would be Chamberlain (Show some balls man!), Lord North, and Ted Heath (Funnily enough, all the PMs I hold in low regard are Tories!).

    23. Now call me fanny and slap my ass. Just kidding.

    Uh huh...

    24. This is the 4th of July. Did you set off any fireworks?

    No. I'm not that pro-US. Besides, see 17.

    25. If you could have dinner and conversation with anyone in the history of the planet, who would you choose?

    Thats a tough one... I guess it would be a choice between Jesus Christ (I'm curious what he'd think of the modern Church), George Washington (I'm curious what he'd think of current affairs) or Benjamin Disraeli (ditto).

       Friday, July 04, 2003
    Just saw this article in the weekly Spectator. In particular, this paragraph draws my eye.

    The dilemma is especially piquant for those people who were enthusiastically in favour of the war against Iraq without ever shedding their reservations about Mr Campbell or New Labour. In normal circumstances they would be happy to throw rotten eggs at the Prime Minister’s director of communications. They have done so many times. But in the row between the BBC and Mr Campbell they are not in a chucking mood. They fear that the case against him is the case against the war. Mr Campbell vehemently denies ‘sexing up’ last September’s dossier with its oft repeated threat that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction might be discharged within 45 minutes. These pro-war people must believe in the reality of these weapons as a justification of war, and consequently have the appalling experience of discovering themselves in the same bed as Mr Campbell. This is the position in which the Sun and the Daily Telegraph find themselves.

    Rubbish. I was in favour of the war even without WMDs, on the grounds that Saddam was a tyrant and a threat to the Wes via terrorism of a more mundane sort. So was Janet Daley of the Telegraph. If I had my way we'd be removing Robert Mugabe right now too, and Zimbabwe doesn't even pose a terrorist threat to us, it's merely another corrupt thugocracy.

    I forgot to ram this point about Silvio Berlusconi home in my last post, so here it is.

    Compare and contrast, if you will :-

    Chirac :-
    "French President Jacques Chirac is to remain immune from prosecution for his alleged role in party-funding scandals for as long as he is in office, a judicial commission has recommended. However, legal proceedings could resume once he stands down, say the 12 experts picked by President Chirac himself. Their report recommends that sitting presidents should neither be prosecuted nor investigated by a French or foreign court.

    Berlusconi :-
    "The Godfather" was the title of Der Spiegel's blistering attack, which asked how a leader who had just rammed through an immunity law, days before a court delivered its verdict on his bribery trial (he might have faced 11 years in prison), could embody Europe's moral aspirations for the next six months.

    One is acceptable, one is not. One is the Right Kind of Eurocrat (All EU, All Day), one is not.

    Oh. Happy July 4th, to any Americans reading this. ;)

    More from the Torygraph (and more) on Berlusconi. Note how baiting Berlusconi was fine, but uttering the "N" word was not.

    I don't know. I don't like the placing of fascists on the "right" of the political spectrum. They seem more left wing to me. What is the "right", anyway? If right wingers eschew regulation, social engineering and nationalisation, does not "far right" imply an anarchist or a libertarian?

    Whereas on the left, which favours government intervention as a solution for problems, surely "far left" implies the most draconian form of government intervention possible - ie, a totalitarian state, be it communist or fascist?

    This German milksop was, as I said before, barracking Silvio and trying to drown him out. The Left sees nothing wrong with such tactics, because the Left ultimately has no respect for things like freedom of speech. The Left is inherently drawn to totalitarianism. Political correctness is, to me, the modern form of Orwellian Newspeak and Party orthodoxy. OK, European socialism is not totalitarian (yet) but socialism has a totalitarian core at its heart in a way in which no true right winger will have.

    Or to put it another way, in the heart of every Nazi was a socialist trying to get out.

    ""Of what importance is all that, if I range men firmly within a discipline they cannot escape? Let them own land or factories as much as they please. The decisive factor is that the State, through the Party, is supreme over them regardless of whether they are owners or workers. All that is unessential; our socialism goes far deeper. It establishes a relationship of the individual to the State, the national community. Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings."

    Uttered by a psychopath with a silly moustache, who was pontificating at the time about the joys of regulation and State control of the individual lives of citizens. (Gosh, thats familiar)

    A sad day indeed for Lady Thatcher.

    In her memoirs it is clear just how much Denis supported her behind the scenes. May he rest in peace, and my condolences to Lady Thatcher.

       Thursday, July 03, 2003
    Oh, the cat is in the pigeons now. Go Silvio!

    It's important to remember, incidentally, that Berlusconi was being barracked and slow handclapped by the German socialist and his econazi buddies (on matters of Italian domestic policy, none of which is relevant to a German MEP), Silvio's outburst was not without provocation.

    Incidentally these same MEPs didn't see fit to barrack Giscard of the Diamonds, but rather shower him with praise. Such hypocrisy. The reason for the abuse Silvio caught is because he is

  • a right winger
  • pro-US
  • I didn't see the Euroslime running to censure the European Commission after it was revealed they all had their fingers in the till, or running to protect the whistleblower who pointed out that there was massive fraud afoot in the EU.

       Wednesday, July 02, 2003
    My respect for Silvio Berlusconi has gone up a bit at his merciless ripping into his EU "masters".

    OK, he may be still somewhat too Europhile for me (but then, I'm as implacably opposed to Europe as anybody could possibly be), but he has a certain panache with a performance like that one.

    Go Silvio!

    Look what I found with google!

    Many, many moons ago I blogged about this friend of mine, when I attempted to find out what the Liberals of Southampton were up to in the EU. (I failed. And sadly, the post since got eaten by Blogger). And here he is. (He's far more of a Toryboy than I am.)

    Oh spare me. More from the Times, advocating all-women shortlists for Conservative would-be MPs.

    The idea that such a party would stoop to sexual discrimination to get the "right" people in the halls of power, based upon demographics rather than ability, makes me ill. God forbid IDS ever resorts to such a thing.

    Encourage women, surely. All women shortlists? No.

    Incidentally these "shadowy selection panels" are made up of representatives of the local constituency organisation. The Tory party is, compared to the centrally appointed Labour communist machine, remarkably democratic. The democratic nature of the Tory party is why we have a duffer like IDS running the show (MPs hate him, Tory party members (apparently) love him, mainly, I bet, because he's Eurosceptic). It is also why Theresa May is finding it hard to strongarm the local constituencies. I thought decentralisation was a good thing? When its about the Tories it is only considered to be "shadowy".)

    New blog from Iraq going in my blogroll, to help me deal with my paranoia.

    I'm trying to keep my blogroll small, it's not like a huge number of people read this stuff, and I'm using it more so people can see the sites which have an impact on my thoughts than me trying to spread my (0.02) hits around. ;)

    Elsewhere in the Times no less a man than the Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, has been given a column.

    While Berlusconi is generally paraded by the right-leaning press as a friend against the EUrocracy, I have to confess I've never personally been much impressed. And not merely by factoids like him bringing back immunity to prosecution for Italy's top politicians to save his own skin (Given what Italy's crime scene is like, I imagine such things are par for the course). No...

    "It is not business as usual to sign a new constitutional road map which will be binding on a group of nation states, which will be joined by ten new members, and to do so in a way that does not unravel the good work carried out by the Convention chaired by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. "

    From where I sit, Berlusconi is merely the same creature with a slightly different skin colour - that creature being a Europhile. Giscard hasn't produced any "good work" that I can see, the proposed EU constitution (about a third the way down the page) is a horrific document that should be consigned to the dustbin of history post haste.

    I expect no root and branch EU reform from Berlusconi, which is sorely needed. I expect only more of the same EU rubbish.

    My paranoia is being fuelled again by reports like this one. And this wasn't penned by a Guardianista, but is in the Times, a far more middle of the road source.

    Still, it hasn't been very long. Give the forces out there more time. They've only had a couple of months to get things sorted out, it's hardly surprising that there hasn't been much progress in that time. Even without the likely addition of Shia politics in the mix, it was pretty obvious that this was going to be a shaky time.

    The Americans here have to show some balls.

    “The American people are going to have to adjust . . . to the fact that things can get worse before they get better,” said John Rockefeller, a Democrat. “We are here for a long haul.”

    Yup, thats definitely true. Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither will New Iraq.

    But relatives of the 22 servicemen who have lost their lives since the war officially ended still remain surprisingly supportive.

    Good. Do not let the obfuscations of the BBC and other assorted lefties distract from the fact that a murderous tyranny has been put down, and that with continued support and attention, there is a real possibility of giving Iraq a better future. And by extension, giving all of us a better future, by shining a beam of light into the morass of the Middle East.

    If, however, the powers that be decide to fold and cut their losses, the end result could conceivably be even worse than if Saddam was still in power. That cannot be allowed to happen. Stick it out, improvements take time.

    Incidentally, the viewpoint that this is "turning into another Vietnam" is bullshit. North Vietnam was propped up by a nuclear superpower. The US war aims in Vietnam were adjusted accordingly to a wholly defensive stance. You cannot win a war without taking the fight to the enemy, unless your willing to get into a war of attrition on the battlefield, which is almost without fail a Pyrrhic victory even when it is a victory.

    Iraq is wholly different. The war aims are clear and mostly already accomplished. There is no nuclear superpower for Saddam to hide behind. He can be pursued to all intents and purposes to the ends of the earth, along with all of his supporters. The only "power" which has even a remote chance of playing the Soviet Russia to Ho Chi Saddam is the United Nations, and Bush seems to have recognized that and made it clear that he won't be played for a sucker.

    Not Vietnam. Tough it out, do the job, and it will be, at the end of a road of struggle, a victory for the free world.