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   Friday, August 29, 2003
Not much blogging today, not because of lack of time, but because I am absorbed reading archives from Dilacerator. While perusing this fine commentary, I came across this entry made so long ago that by blogosphere reckoning is pretty much prehistoric, but it still struck a chord in me.

The chord is this - a favourite blog topic, especially when talking about EUrope, is to talk about the European demographic time bomb. What irks me is that the United Kingdom is all to easily lumped into this European basket of basket cases. As the figures suggest, that is not true (it's also something well known in political circles here - one aspect of Euroscepticism is keeping the UK as far from Euroland as possible, as Euroland has ravenous, desperate eyes upon fat UK pension provisions, and wants some pillage). While musing on that, my brain clicked another notch - just about everything said about Euroland does not apply to the UK. Our army is not a joke. Our navy is not a joke. We do not make a habit of puckering up to dictators. While civil liberties are under threat of erosion here, the "free country" thing is very much in the public consciousness - as an example, I personally have no passport, no driving license, no form of official identification at all other than a birth certificate (which is a pretty basic slip of paper). The government wants ID cards, a thing which most other Euroland nations consider a simple fact of life, and the British electorate and indeed many politicians are generally highly sceptical of the entire concept. Oh, and to poke the eye of the intrusive census bureaucrat, apparently the UK has more practicing Jedi than Jews.

So, today I'm rowing the boat of the sceptred isle away from the mainland, permanently. The UK is not EUrope, and is fundamentally eurosceptic. We are grudging members of the EU not because we want to, but because we have been conned and tricked into our current position. And there are a growing number of us who want shot of the EU in it's entirety, let alone mere euroscepticism. (The EU has some good aspects. The single market is a potential good aspect. The good is however far, far outweighed by the bad).

So - enough of lumping the UK in with EUrope, k? It is a geographical accident, nothing more. Fine when talking about geography, not fine when talking about politics. I know some people, Porphy, sometimes Steven do say such things as "Europe with the exception of Britain" already, lets see some more of that from the blogosphere rather than painting my country and I with the blue and stars of the Euroflag. I notice the man behind Dilacerator himself did not at least lump us in with EUrope in that post on demographics...

Out, now, I say.

I will endeavour next week to think of something intellectual to compose, rather than resorting to my more usual invective. :)



   Thursday, August 28, 2003
Yeah, I can imagine the rush to register a .eu domain. I have zero interest in such a thing, none whatsoever. I dont actually have a domain name, but if I did want to register one, it would either be a US one and not have an international code, or it would be a .uk, without even the slightest doubt.

I am amused to see the website predicting the biggest rush of registrations since the .com era. Lets wait for that bit of ego to be punctured like all the other pronouncements from the Most Holy EUrocrats, eh?

"Covering 15 Member States (and soon to be enlarged), the .eu domain is more akin to generic TLDs (like .com and .net) than normal country codes (like .uk)."

Oh no! My .uk domain is going to be small and weak! It will be pointless to have a .uk address in the face of this behemoth, obviously.

(They chose to make .uk the unfashionable old model, eh? Not .de? Or .fr? The European Union have a propaganda problem that needs some targeted brainwashing to fix? Aw.)

As no doubt anybody who reads this will know by now, British patriotism is certainly alive and well in this corner of the Web, at least.



Look what a friend of mine sent to me.

Heh.



This blog is great, the best blog I've seen for a long time. The incisiveness and sharp mind of Steven Den Beste but written by a European and so with a European slant. And his analyses of the EU I couldn't agree with more.

One for the blogroll. C'est magnifique!



   Wednesday, August 27, 2003
What with bank holidays and work, blogging has been light again recently, unfortunately.

Today I plan on responding to this guest blog over at Porphyrogenitus' site. I think, broadly speaking, Nelson Ascher's analysis is in the right direction, but I have a "few" rebuttals and counterarguments to make, nevertheless.

Firstly, about European nations carving up markets by selling goods to tinpot dictators - this argument alone doesn't really wash, because everybody is at it. The USA was edgy about the UK going to war against Argentina precisely because the USA was busy kissing up to General Galtieri. Thats not necessarily a bad thing, and as additional rich irony, the bombs the Argentines used against the Royal Navy to great effect were actually sold to them by - us. Oops!
You cannot simply ignore an economy because you dont like the man in charge. Even under sanctions, trade typically still goes on, albeit in a limited manner. Mad Bob Mugabe is not a popular man on the world stage, I'm sure the UK still trades with Zimbabwe though. We may not be selling him guns anymore, but you can bet UK business wouldn't turn down Zimbabwe custom unless forced.

In defence of the UK and USA when measured against the antics of La France, I will say that when the chips are down the USA and UK both remember who their real friends are. Reagan made clear who's side he was on when he had to choose between Galtieri and Thatcher. The French did the same when they had to choose between Bush and Saddam. The French made the wrong choice, however.

Anyway, I'm not sure the whole neo-imperialism argument washes. There wasnt much European imperialism going on during the Cold War, and when it did happen, even when it was arguably in the US interest, it wasn't allowed to happen (Suez, anyone?). Speaking of the Suez Crisis, if your looking for a root cause of anti-Americanism in the UK, you couldn't do much better than Suez being that cause, at least among those old enough to remember it, those influenced by those old people, and, perhaps, the Armed Forces. Not exactly like the Europeans had a free ride in the Cold War.

In fact, with Suez in mind, I suggest a counterargument - during the Cold War Europe understood the need to be in tight with the USA because the Soviet Union was the overriding threat. When the USA made it clear that they wanted the UK and France out of Suez, neither European nation had much choice in the matter - it was too much of an own goal with the Russians on the scene. Now the Cold War is over, the Russians don't scare Europe anymore, so Europe doesn't really feel they need the US anymore, and are more willing to bitch and whine about getting their way, as well as flex what muscles they have, to the annoyance of Uncle Sam.

I don't think Europe incited Arab extremism. I don't think Europe could incite it even if they wanted to. I don't think Arabs really give a shit about Europe, to be honest. I think European concessions made to Arab extremism may make it seem that way, however. Said concessions also mean that Europe in places is almost as much a safe haven for Arab extremists as Saudi Arabia is - I don't think this is the intent of the various European governments, I just think its the end result of various spineless policies which have been in vogue in Europe for at least a decade. As an example, have a look at Abu Hamza. The UK wanted him out for years, but no dice. (They still havn't managed to find a way to arrest him, despite his treasonous sedition. In the end they got him on a technicality through the Charity Commission to at least kick him out of his mosque. A hard case to solve, given the right to free speech and given you cant have MI5 stake out mosques without annoying "the Islamic Community".).

This doesn't mean the UK government is culpable in promoting Arabic extremism - it just means that Eurolaws like the Human Rights Act have a down side, such as letting nutters like this preach. The UK wasnt thinking of Arab extremism when signing up to the Euro Declaration of Human Rights, it was thinking of happy blissful "civilised" EUtopia. Abu Hamza is merely an unforeseen side effect. I am sure there are many more Abu Hamza-like stories throughout Euroland.

Regarding NGOs and such... there is most assuredly a general anti-American sentiment on the EU continent. (No, really? :) This isn't a Left Wing Conspiracy, though. It's more... culture clash, if anything. Steven Den Beste wrote at length about American "soft power", of which this is an example article - anti-Americanism, in all its various forms, is effectively a EU equivalent. It's not directed by politicians (though politicians, like Herr Schroder, take advantage of it for political ends). It's just a general Continental consensus, just like the American consensus that France isn't a nice place to on holiday right now. I'll say this again, as I think it's important - it is not (necessarily) the "elites" causing this. The elites take advantage of it. Tony Blair actually bucked the trend and went against this undercurrent, and it almost cost him, may still almost cost him, his job. The European Left is well motivated and adept at exerting pressure when they want to. In Cambridge, where I live, the whole city came to a halt during one protest during Gulf War 2, but they didnt represent a majority or even a plurality of the local population. Unfortunately, I don't see many (any?) Right wing groups out to counter these people. I didnt see any Pro War Marchers after all. Thats not to say that Europeans are not pro war, according to polls a majority here were pro war, though you'd never guess it be watching the BBC. The likes of the BBC is really the reason why there is such rampant anti Americanism. Whenever you see the phrase "European Elite" regarding anti-Americanism, swap that phrase for "European mainstream journalist" and you've squared the circle. The only real political figure who seems to be anti American for the sake of it is Chirac. German leaders are anti American for domestic reasons, not as a matter of principle.

I think it speaks wonders of the United Kingdom that most are not virulently anti American here, and that the majority of the population has an Atlanticist, not European, view. Given the fact that this is still true despite the best efforts of the Beeb and the Guardian, it says much about English loyalty.

You may think that given this screed I disagree utterly with what Nelson Ascher has written. Not really. While the above is quite lengthy it's really picking at the details not the fact, and not the predicted future. Continental Western Europe is not a US ally. I disagree with Ascher about the precise reasons and history why, but the bottom line is the same truth. It makes geopolitical sense, given this truth, for the EU to poke the American eye whenever possible, and will happen more and more as time goes on. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel.

I don't think the EU, in anything like its present form anyway, will last more than two decades from this day. Therefore, the EU is a short term threat at best to the US. And furthermore, I think only a fairly smallish core of nations are vehemently anti-American, centred around France. EU enlargement will dilute this core, possibly to the point of irrelevance.



   Friday, August 22, 2003
My tax money is being spent on pro-EU propaganda, this time by the Foreign Office themselves. The usual Eurorubbish can be found here, ranging from the egomaniacal to the trivial - "we are in the EU because it is the largest market in the world", "50 percent of our trade is with the EU" (Well what do you expect after 30 years of tariff barriers with the rest of the world?), "the price of air travel to the EU has halved" and on and on and on...

Tucked away in the morass I found this.

Have you ever wondered what the European Parliament does? Or how EU legislation is created? Or maybe you want to find out who your MEP is?

You want to find out who you voted for? Sheez. That highlights the fundamental disconnect between electorate and EUrocrats right there.

Oh, and another gem, I think maybe this is just poor website layout or something, but I also found this...

Below are links to real examples of how our EU membership has benefited this country - how it has benefited business, consumers, the regions, students and school children, improved the quality of our lives as citizens and employees, and benefited our international interests.

Beneath this paragraph are - zero links :).

There is apparently a forum available on the site too. Links via Airstrip One.



I was idly surfing the intranet here during a dull moment, and came across a Financial Times article which was about ABB, which I read with interest.

To summarise, ABB (a Swedish-Swiss engineering company employing 150,000 people) was on the ropes in 2002, and very nearly went bankrupt for a number of reasons. As the article says,

Many investors almost gave up hope as the combination of asbestos, corporate governance scandals, declining orders and mounting debt savaged the company's share price and credit rating.

However, things have turned around for ABB and the future looks much brighter for the company than before. The article talks about future US orders in the wake of the blackout there - ABB is a major supplier of transmission equipment (60 percent of the high voltage equipment market share) in the US, and so is in a strong position to profit now the US government is eager to revamp the aging and inadequate US power grid.

And then, in the midst of this article, I find this very amusing comment from Jurgen Dormann, the CEO of ABB :-

Many investors almost gave up hope as the combination of asbestos, corporate governance scandals, declining orders and mounting debt savaged the company's share price and credit rating.

Paradoxically, the scale of the problems provided the only hope of saving the group, allowing Mr Dormann to force through the radical surgery which had been so difficult to impose before.

"[Our] people were just not aware," said Mr Dormann. "You [the Financial Times] had the impression it was close to bankruptcy, but the people on the [factory] floor - even in the middle management - felt this would probably never happen. But we are not in France, so it was really an issue.

"Under such circumstances, one can act very quickly and decisively."

Not France, indeed. Dormann strikes me as a CEO very much focused upon getting results, he sold off 7 of ABB's 9 divisions to get the company profitable, cutting about 50,000 jobs in the process - major restructuring, indeed. But his efforts appear to have worked, and ABB's share price has been steadily recovering ever since Dormann moved in. So it looks like the short term pain helped in the long term.

This is the discipline of the market in action. If ABB had gone bankrupt, it might have been the end of ABB, but it wouldn't have been the end of the world - other, more competitive and efficient companies would have gobbled up ABB's market share. The jobs would have moved, the money would have moved, but the economy overall would be leaner and more efficient. As it happens ABB had the guts to do what needed to be done, so it wasn't quite that tale of woe, but still, this is a good example of how the discipline offered by the market keeps companies healthy and profitable.

I wonder what discipline there is in France making companies profitable?

Incidentally Porphy wrote a piece about the relative economic health of the Eurozone/US/UK with lots of links to mainstream media sources on the subject, which make dark mutterings of the lack of flexibility in the EU labour market.



   Thursday, August 21, 2003
Apparently ABB is getting wormed again, by a slightly different W32.Blaster-like worm, so net access is being cut once more fairly soon for an unknown length of time.

So I'll be disappearing in a puff of logic, probably until tomorrow.



Blogging has been non existent this week, due to factors beyond my control. My employer ABB got hit hard by the W32.Welchia worm, and the network here has been in various states of illness since Monday. The Welchia worm was actually intended to counter the W32.Blaster worm which was aimed at Microsoft last week, but it scans for new machines to infect via ICMP pings, and there was so much ICMP traffic it clogged up the networks here.

Internet access was the last thing to be restored, which they only managed to do this morning, which meant I couldn't get to Blogger.

Fortunately the internal LAN here didn't go down (though it did slow to a crawl), or that would have cost ABB a lot of money.



   Friday, August 15, 2003
I found this site which provides a status report on the sector of Iraq under British governance, for those suspicious of any evidence of progress.

Also, on the ARRSE website I found this thread which has some accounts on whats going on out there from the men in the field. Incidentally if you don't know what the TA is (its mentioned quite a bit in that thread) - Territorial Army (I guess they are a bit like the US National Guard).



   Thursday, August 14, 2003
I noted my lukewarmness to Israel earlier today, and Dr Eamon Kelly responded with this link, which provides some facts about how Yasser does his best to make Israel out as the bad guys in Western eyes.

Not had much chance to check it out yet (work just struck again). But I will do.

Update OK, I've had a few minutes to peruse that site, and I've already found this laughable gem, from a pro-PLO scholar.

It is true that Hajj Amin allied himself with Hitler to get rid of the Jews. His desire to rid Palestine (and even the world) of Jewish influence was arguably genocidal, but he certainly was no “fascist.”

Deleting an entire race from the tapestry of human history is only "arguably" genocide it seems. And who cares if it is eh? He was no fascist after all, so everythings peachy.

Wow. "Scholars" of philosophy (the love of wisdom) put forward tripe like that?



The Hutton inquiry into the suicide of Dr Kelly rumbles on. Like a huge boulder tipped off a mountainside, it's picking up speed as it heads downhill, leaving a trail of devastation, and while we can guess where it'll end up we can't foretell it's precise path until it's too late.

I've been tracking the boulder with half an eye over the last few days. It is now accepted, with material evidence, that Dr Kelly lied before the Parliamentary committee one week before his death. It is also accepted that the Government were desperately looking to spin the infamous dodgy dossier their way, and furthermore, that the BBC were responsible for some spinning of their own when it came to reporting Dr Kelly's statements.

So basically all three participants in this appear to have been lying. (Welcome to politics). The Government could end up in the soup over this, but really they seem to be guilty of spin not of overt poker faced lies. They brought some questionable intelligence to the fore, but they did not make it up. It's not exactly brilliant conduct, but then it's not something which the Blair Government hasn't done innumerable times before.

Dr Kelly also lied. A poker faced lie, in fact. However, the pressure he was under at the time was intolerable. A civil servant, he must know that you do not talk unofficially to the press, which he did. Thats practically a betrayal of the institutions to which he devoted his life. When word got out he would receive no sympathy or support from his colleagues, or his superiors - indeed, his superiors doubtless would have been actively gunning for him. His pension would have been at risk. His entire lifes work was in danger of being tarnished irrevocably. In any case, Dr Kelly, at the eye of the storm, seemed to act from good conscience originally - he had information he felt the nation needed to know - and came under attack from every angle. A few cracks in his integrity the week before he slit his wrists seems entirely forgivable given this sorry background.

The BBC also did some sexing up of their own journalism. Now this far more damning. The other liars are the Government - we know they lie already (hardly a forgiving statement, but I want Bliar out anyway, I know he lies, one more lie is not news anymore) - and a doctor under strain so great he took his own life. The BBC however has a duty towards clear, unbiased, objective reporting. It is in their charter, it is why we pay them an iniquitous license fee, so their journalism is unmarred by the lens of corporate interests. If they are incapable of providing such an unmarred story, then why do they exist??? That is the whole point, the sole point in fact, of the entire BBC news reporting apparatus' existence. They have failed. Again. They whipped up a legitimate story to such an extent that the source of the story a) was made Public Enemy Number 1 by the government, b) didn't even recognize that he was the sole source. The BBC has a lens alright - in the Telegraph's story their own employees are edging away from Auntie.

As an aside, I am puzzled by those who laugh at the Telegraph for supporting the war and now getting schizophrenic because the reasons provided by the Government are unravelling. Should the Torygraph kick Blair a bit over this, given that they would in theory like the Dodgy Dossier to be correct? Well... yes, they should. Blair may have needed evidence of WMDs to temporarily convert the timorous CND supporters on his back benches to the cause of war against Saddam. He never needed any such smoke and mirrors from me, or the Telegraph for that matter. He should have staked out his political ground on the firmer foundation of Saddam's appalling humanitarian record, or even realpolitick (not much chance of realpolitick in this day and age but anyway), not attempted to spin up tales up WMDs. WMDs are a part of Saddams evil, but they are not the whole part, neither are they the sole reason why the war against Iraq was a Good Thing. The Telegraph is on firmer ground than Blair, so kick away.



   Wednesday, August 13, 2003
I responded to this post over at Conservative Commentary the other day (read the comments section and you'll see). Peter Cuthbertson raises the question of why so many British conservatives are at best luke warm towards Israel, when American conservatives are very much pro-Israeli.

I felt the need to respond there as I am just such a luke-warm-to-Israel Tory, so in a sense he's talking about people just like me.

I consider myself to be a somewhat pragmatic Conservative. I support Tory policies simply because they work and make sense. I have a great deal of respect for Thatcher (I consider myself a Thatcherite) but not really from an ideological base (free markets are inherently a Good Thing, to think otherwise is heresy), but simply because I think it works, it delivers results (free markets are sensible, and they work). Similarly with other Thatcherite policies, like a hard line on the Soviet Union.

So when it comes to Israel I don't have any dogma telling me that Zionism is inherently a Good Thing, like Americans seem to. I would need persuasion. Now, I am luke warm because Palestine under the likes of Arafat is clearly going to be/is a failed state. In fact, Israel is only successful state in the entire Middle East. This is the source of my lukewarm support. On the other hand, it's difficult for me to give unconditional moral support to a nation which, to be blunt, seem quite capable of acting like Nazis when they think it's in their interest. Expanding settlements and displacing of Palestinian natives? Sounds like Israel needs some lebensraum to me.

Testing my support to the utmost is the utterly specious arguments justifying this. "The Jews were there 2400 years ago". I hope that I don't need to puncture that risible argument in full. Suffice to say the Arabs have been in the majority there for at least 1000 unbroken years, including 400 years in the Ottoman Empire, which is an unbroken line of ethnicity that stretches back in time more than many other nations of the world. I think thats the moral case Zionism gone right there. So why is ethnic cleansing in Israel good, where in Serbia it is bad?

If Israelis and Palestinians were, in other regards, equivalent, then clearly it is the Israelis who are lacking a moral argument and deserve everything they get. However, nothing is ever that easy. The Palestinians are murderous savages led my thugocrats like Yasser Arafat, and there is no moral equivalency whatsoever with the Israelis. They have been acidically anti-Semitic for centuries. Also, the Israelis have their backs to the wall. They can give no ground, because they have no ground to give. I sympathise for them. These exceptional circumstances do much to justify their behaviour, but it does not, it cannot, complete exonerate them of the quite shocking misdeeds they get up to on occasion. Whatever is going on in Ulster pales to nothingness compared to what is going on in Israel.

Without the guiding light of a dogmatic approach, I cannot give unconditional support to the Israelis, I will remain luke warm. Incidentally, when I see dogmatic pro-Israelis taking the stance that Israel is good simply Because it is So, few things put me off Israel more.



Sheesh. A writer into Clueless demonstrates a marvellous ability to typecast.

Europeans seem utterly incapable of understanding that something with profoundly powerful political effects can just be unintended side effects of a well functioning market economy. They remain firmly convinced that such effects must be intentionally directed by America's ruling elite as part of that elite's lust for power and world domination. They believe that only a central authority could make those things happen, when of course the exact opposite is true - that only because there is no central authority they happen with such vigor and apparent cohesion. Europeans seem certain that if they could just control Bush and the imagined central authority of soft power, the problems would significantly attenuated, as Joffe implies in his article.

In the words of Edward Longshanks, "Do they..?"

There is some serious typecasting going on on Steven's website these days, and it aint good. I hate to blast someone who I like so much yet again in a comparatively short space of time, but puh-leeze. I thought the Yanks were the ones less inclined to type cast then the Europeans. Such is the stereotype. You guys don't even have social class in the same way we do (or maybe you do, but such is the stereotype as viewed from Englands shores). I don't know of any English who think that American culture is intentionally directed by a ruling elite (unless Hollywood directors count as part of a ruling elite). I know a few who think U-571 was a crass movie which denigrated the efforts of the Brits who actually did do something like that (the movie is fictional, but was based on something the Royal Navy did in WW2), but they don't blame Bush or Congress for it, thats just nonsensical.

I know a few more who think Mel Gibson should be shot for the mutiliation of history represented by the Patriot or Braveheart, but they don't blame Bush either. (For the curious, I thought Braveheart was so good I watched it 5 nights in a row at the cinema. I was a student at the time too so it cost a few bob. It was, however, a travesty of history, but then Longshanks isn't around to sue for libel anymore so I guess it doesn't matter all that much. And it was entertaining.)

Just in case people think the English are a special case, my beloved is a Slovak, and aside from a weakness for Jerry Springer and Oprah there isn't much American culture washing off her. If anything she's into German culture.

I'm beginning to get the impression some Americans have a very skewed view of the world, and are just as prone to typecasting as any Euro.



   Monday, August 11, 2003
I had a rude surprise when opening my post on Saturday morning. I have had correspondence from the TV Licensing people inflicted upon me. The BBC want me to pony up.

It's not really a surprise admittedly, I've merely been keeping my head low and hoping I slip the dragnet. I do own a television, but merely because the previous occupant of my rented flat did, I almost never actually watch it, so I was hoping the BBC detector vans would pass without the red lights flashing and the alarm bells blaring. (For those who do not know, I kid you not, the BBC roams the country with detector vans to detect television sets to make sure everybody is paying up).

They aren't very happy with me, anyway. The letter they sent is all red in colour, and reminds me of a Final Demand from the electricity company when your a bit tardy with the payment.

Our records show that despite our previous correspondence, there is still no TV License for this address. If you are using TV equipment to receive or record television programme services without a license, you are running the risk of prosecution and a fine of up to £1000. Failure to purchase a license in the next few days will result in us taking further action. Your address is now on our priority list and an Enforcement Officer is planning to visit you shortly.

If you do not watch a V, please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused. Please write to us at the above address, stating that you do not use a TV, and we will contact you shortly.

Enforcement officer, eh? I always thought the UK didn't have a Mafia. I thought wrong.

From the text of this letter I am struck by the fact that they clearly don't know if I have a TV or not. They just slapped me with the red letter, and noted that I must prove to their satisfaction my TV owning status. Guilty, unless proven innocent. Not surprising really, their Enforcement Officers actually have no legal right to enter my home, if one of them knocks on my door and I tell them to get lost, there isn't a whole lot they can do about it in the short term, so I guess it's easier for them to threaten people with court as a matter of course and ask people to prove that they don't have a TV set.

£116 pounds a year, a TV license costs. Which pays for the radio (never listen to it), the BBC website (never visit it), BBC News (biased, but its good for a laugh), BBC programming (all rubbish, except for Spooks which I actually like. So thats 1 hour of Beeb Heaven a week for me), the World Service (propaganda for the world, but not for me), and probably a whole lot of other stuff I'm not even aware of, let alone use. Incidentally the last episode of Spooks is on tonight, so after today, I won't avail myself of a single BBC service from here on.

I'm going to pay it, of course. Through gritted teeth. Getting rid of my TV would be even more hassle than paying the damn license. (It's a big TV, and I don't have a car. Or know anybody with a car who would help me get it to the dump).

But any political party who gets rid of this iniquitous poll tax for a service I don't even use gets my vote.



   Thursday, August 07, 2003
Oh, this is great.

"Time after time hoteliers and restaurateurs would tell me that the people they wanted to serve most were not the Germans, Italians or French, but the English, or maybe Swiss. And there's the clue. Hear the word "Swiss" and you begin to divine the reason for their recent conversion to our cause.

Because for the first time in 60 years we - together with the Swiss, of course - are the most affluent people in Europe. The rest of Europe is skint. The good people of Austria, Germany, Italy and France are welcoming us out of that very special love which is engendered by comparatively greater wealth.

The reason for our comparative affluence being, of course, the euro."

And thats in the Guardian, too. Via Conservative Commentary, again.

(BTW, sad to say I'm once again very busy at work, which means blogging time and email time is very much down. Sorry for those I have not replied to, and for the generally poor quality of this blog in recent days, hopefully I'll get more time in the coming weeks)



   Wednesday, August 06, 2003
A good while ago, Samizdata (sorry, its not a direct link) noted the risks inherent in holding a referendum on EU membership, ie, if it goes the wrong way, we're doomed, and it stands a good chance of going the wrong way because it'll be rigged.

Peter Cuthbertson over at Conservative Commentary comments on the latest bit of rigging which has been unearthed, namely, the right of Europhilic Germans and French who live in the UK (but are not UK citizens) being allowed to vote on whether we should abolish Sterling or not.

It's notable that some people raised the issue of disenfrachisement - why should we disenfranchise Germans or French people here, when we are allowed to vote in Italian elections if a British citizen happens to live in Italy. Leaving aside the nature of this referendum, imagine what it would be like when we're all citizens of the European State of England, stuck in a highly centralised bureaucracy (federal is a lie, the EU is no more federal than the current United Kingdom government is - we will have the Mother of All Commissions instead of a Parliament). We aren't ever going to get our way, ever. Do the Brits want the euro? No. Well, too bad, 75% of Europe does. What about the CAP? No, we don't want to subsidise the French any more than we have to. Unfortunately everybody from France on south do, so we're outvoted again. What about fishing? Well, we'd like our fish to be ours alone, but I imagine any European nation with a coastline would be eager to get stuck in. North Sea oil? I'm sure that the Commission will exert its "competence" on that, while muttering about strategic reserves and national security. What about using our military to advance our national interests overseas, Falklands War 2 perhaps. I don't think the continental Eurocrats will approve. Etc. etc, ad infinitum.

We are different. Our values are different, our laws are fundamentally different, our interests are different, our economies, our way of life, our culture, our historical outlook, our language... the only reason the UK is in the EU is a sorry accident of geography. And thats all. We are different, but we are in the minority in the continent of Europe. If we sign up to the EU, well...

You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

In actual fact, a federal system would be preferable to the current EU constitution. (My verdict would still be No, but it would be an improvement). The EU constitution is only federal in the sense that it throws various sops to national governments, but it's clear that the Commission and minions will be able to step in just about anywhere, anytime, should they so choose, and national governments have almost nil say in the matter. Thats not federal, that is unitary. We have local councils in the UK, but the councils have no real power, ergo, the UK has a unitary form of government.



   Tuesday, August 05, 2003
I am somewhat disappointed with Steven Den Beste, for the first time ever. It's almost like a betrayal by an old friend, a slight marring of an otherwise perfect painting, a Porsche with a scratch on the door, an opinion piece in the Telegraph expounding on the wonders of Marxism.

In this post he pretty much admits what he wrote is, to use a Brit vernacular, a load of bollocks. I expect antics like this from Her Majesty's Government, but not from Steven.

I don't actually care about Harley (never owned a bike, never will) but disingenuous spin-doctored lies, on any subject, aren't going to win him much respect. Mind you, to his credit, at least he admitted it, I would have just taken what he said as an honest opinion if he hadn't.

Yes, yes, it's an opinion page, as is the one to which I am writing right now, so it will be facts with a slant, as the facts I present here are. Steven, in fairness, might not have known the finer points of how wonderful H-D are, which means it was done out of ignorance rather than vindictiveness. But I've not yet (consciously anyway) knowingly perpetrated such a half-truth here. (I might have done it out of ignorance, but I try not to). That then moves things from reasonable opinion to propaganda. Yes, yes, it is his reputation to tarnish, how very free thinking. So much for Jacksonian honour, eh?

I dunno. Maybe I'm just a 19th century relic.

It's my site and I can write what I want on it, including taking a cheap shot at Europe every once in a while. I'm sorry you don't like that, but I have no intention of restraining myself just because you think I should.

Whaaah! My site! If I want to spread lies on it, too bad!



   Friday, August 01, 2003
The Spectator has a, in my view at least, great article discussing union militancy in the ex-national industries, like British Airways.

It is a will the unions are increasingly prepared to exercise. Now they believe that the Prime Minister is up against the ropes, demands from trade unions are becoming more brazen by the day. The TUC wants three more bank holidays. Unison demands a new NHS pay system — in spite of the fact that much of the extra billions pumped into the NHS by Gordon Brown has already been consumed in pay rises. Kevin Curran, the new leader of the GMB, is demanding a return of the closed shop — something which makes even Polly Toynbee quiver, she having been nearly expelled from the NUJ in the 1980s.

The closed shop? Wow. A Labour government may manage to turn the clock back in industrial relations 25 years, an impressive feat. Of course, it isn't really Our Tone's fault in this case. Have a look at this.

Tony Woodley, the new head of the Transport and General Workers’ Union, intends to make sure that Tony Blair suffers. His plan is to call a meeting of top union guns and instigate a new form of entryism that will select left-wing, union-friendly parliamentary candidates. After this, he will concentrate on ousting Blair from the union.

Union leaders have, for the last couple of years, slowly migrated towards the far Left. In my view this is a backlash from Blair's generally rather centrist (ie, socialist, but not loony Trot) policies. As time has gone on his party and The Workers (by which I do not necessarily mean the actual workers, more the workers representatives, union kingpins like Comrade Bob Crow) have become disgruntled, and as their party in Parliament continually fail to live up to their Marxist principles, they themselves are becoming more radical in an attempt to further the Lefty agenda.

Worryingly, the unions have the power to really make their voices heard. They are the main source of Labour Party funding, and whoever pays the piper chooses the tune. Blair has done his utmost to reduce the influence the unions have in public at least, as unions generally got a bad rep after the socialist disaster of the 70s, and the miners strikes of the 80s. The unions meanwhile also realised that to get their fellow Reds in power, they had to keep quiet. But Labour have been in power for a long time now, and the unions are getting itchy feet, they want that Utopia now. If they get their way, some really damaging policies could be unleashed upon the nation, like the aforementioned closed shop, which really is a huge leap towards near-communist working practices.

Of course, I doubt the likes of Comrade Crow appeal much beyond the core Labour support base, and he probably puts off the floating voters in just the same way some extremely stereotypical Tory like Nicholas Soames does, so union militancy almost certainly brings the Year of the Tory closer. But I fear the extremist socialism of the far left union kingpins could do great damage at an especially delicate time before the public get wise and erase them once again from the political landscape.



Some reassuring noises are being made about evidence of a WMD programme being unearthed in Iraq.

I am still puzzled by the belief that Iraq possessed neither WMDs or the ability to produce them. They had already used nerve gas on the Kurds, so unless Saddam voluntarily threw all his nerve gas away (I think not), or the UN inspectors rooted it out and destroyed it (no), or it got bombed in Gulf War 1 (nerve gas escaping a refinery would have hit the news, it didn't) the possession is beyond doubt.

On the other hand, the WMD argument is a bit facetious. Nuclear weapons take quite some building - or to be more accurate, enriched uranium takes quite some refining - but chemical and biological weapons are comparatively simple devices to make. In addition, it doesn't take very long to make them, meaning that actually finding nerve gas shells ready to fire is unlikely if the nation making them is trying to keep it quiet - the chemicals can be mixed and the shells prepared in a matter of days if the weapons programme and chemical precursors are ready.

I would be surprised if such a smoking gun is found, but I have more confidence that various production facilities will be unearthed, even though Saddam in the final days no doubt did his best to destroy them.