Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The West Lothian Question

British politics is in a mess over devolution. 85% of the UK's population lives in England. The United Kingdom has one Parliament. Scotland has a second in Edinburgh, which has voted - for example - to provide better healthcare and free university education for Scots. Labour's Scottish MP's at Westminster, however, have voted with the government against such measures in England. Without those Scottish MP's, Labour could not push through its programme.

Meanwhile, England subsidises Scotland. Estimates vary, but ten billion pounds a year seems the most common round number. It's cheap by comparison with the EU, but it provides even fewer benefits to England. It has never won an ounce of goodwill from ordinary Scots, whose hatred of the "sassenachs" seems actually to have become worse with increasing economic dependence. Englishmen like me who love Scotland and like to visit learn to play up real or imagined Celtic antecedents so as to be treated with moderate courtesy while we are relieved of our money.

Soon it is likely that all three major national political parties will be led by Scots. Scots dominate the present cabinet and will probably dominate the next. 80% of the voters of Gordon Brown's Scottish constituency derive their income from the state, one way or another. This is fairly typical. Scotland is a Socialist "voter farm".

English anger at the "Scottish Raj" is rising to dangerous levels. Ordinary working-class English people are sick and tired of being blamed for everyone else's problems because of the alleged misconduct of their ancestors. St Georges' Day was a non-event when I was a boy with The Times snootily commenting on one occasion that "...nationalism varies inversely with the importance of the nation..." Now the flag of St George flies on that day and the long-slumbering beast of English nationalism is stirring. Debates on the England/Scotland question in the blogosphere are becoming quite disturbing in their intensity.

There is no ethnic difference between us. The DNA of the people on our islands (including the island of Ireland) is so mixed as to make the pretence of ethnicity ridiculous. We are one people, but sadly we don't feel it. Like Conan Doyle, I would like the entire Anglosphere to be politically united, but that's an idealistic dream. What Billy Connolly calls "...the wee pretendy Parliament..." will probably develop into a real one. The original West Lothian question will be supplemented with a new one; how can a United Kindgom government and parliament dominated by Scots negotiate Scottish independence with the Scottish Parliament without the English being stuffed for one last time?

We need an intermediate stage; ideally one which costs no more money and gives employment to no more wasters and scoundrels than the present set up. Here is my proposal

The present House of Commons should remain, but with fair representation for England, Scotland and Wales (i.e. fewer Scottish and Welsh MP's). The House of Lords should be abolished. An English Senate should be elected. The Welsh Assembly should become the Welsh Senate and the Scottish Parliament the Scottish Senate. The three "Petty Senates" should meet separately on issues solely relating to England, Scotland and Wales respectively as unicameral local parliaments with specific delegated powers (identical in each case, rather than the present mishmash).

The three Senates combined (the "Grand Senate") should fulfil the present functions of the House of Lords.

The appointment of judges should be delegated to the chairman of each of the Petty Senates, so that independent judiciaries can emerge over time. The Grand Senate should be charged with forming a new constitution for the United Kingdom. That constitution could include entrenched provisions (e.g. on civil liberties) which could only be amended with the consent of all three Petty Senates.

In the short term this would provide fairness and improve parliamentary democracy. In the long term it would create constitutional perforations which could later be torn to separate two or three of the nations if they so require.

I anticipate it would be England that first decides to go. At least its Petty Senate, rather than the Scots-infiltrated House of Commons, could then provide the negotiating team for the constitutional settlement that would follow.

Monday, November 28, 2005

DVLA sells your details to criminals | the Daily Mail

Do those who want to trust the government with personal data still feel the same after reading this article? If a criminal sets up a fake car parking company, the DVLA will sell him all the information he needs to spot your nice car in traffic and find out where to go to steal it or maybe kidnap your family. Nice.

DVLA sells your details to criminals | the Daily Mail

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Hyperactive and also useless |

New Labour has now criminalised more than 700 activities, according to this item. This is a rate of "productivity" more than ten times greater than any previous government.

Hyperactive and also useless |

School lessons in emotions

How degrading - both for pupils and teachers - is this? Since starting this blog, almost everything I have written highlights New Labour's lack of understanding of the proper boundary between individual and State. This little piece in today's Telegraph really proves beyond doubt that in the Government's view there is no boundary.

Telegraph | News | School lessons in emotions

"Who do you think you are kidding Mr Prescott?"

This is well worth a read; not just for the incredibly provocative Labour Party letter that began it, but for the sad spectacle of modern Scots and English attacking each other with dimly-remembered history. It's funny in a sad, poignant way.

"Who do you think you are kidding Mr Prescott?"

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Departmental Legislation: 22 Nov 2005: Written answers (

Thanks to Simon Hughes MP for asking the question, so we can get the current "score" on New Labour's progress towards the criminalisation of everything. I suspect New Labour has created more new offences than this. These are only the ones created by laws steered through Parliament by the Home Secretary.

Departmental Legislation: 22 Nov 2005: Written answers (

No-jury trial plan 'presses on'

People trust juries more than they trust elected representatives. Juries may well be the most trusted element of our civil society. That's odd really, because they are chosen at random. They don't select themselves by applying for the job. Nor are they selected by politicians. They are also a very ancient institution. Most people in Britain have served on one, and they don't lose their faith in the course of the experience. This, despite the fact that they cost personal time and money. Voting, on the other hand, costs nothing. Yet almost no-one now believes in it or trusts its outcome.

Oddly, the House of Lords also performed better when selected by genetic lottery than when chosen on the crony principle by the Prime Minister. Even now, secure from the withdrawal of party support, the Lords consistently perform better than the democratically-elected House of Commons.

Far from undermining jury trial, perhaps we should be extending the principle behind it? Rather than voting, let's select 650 members of the House of Commons entirely at random. We would get a much better cross-section of the community; there would be the "right" numbers of women and ethnic minorities. There would be no such thing as a political career. We would not have nearly so many Scots in Parliament and the odds of getting any members of a political party would be derisory.

BBC NEWS | Politics | No-jury trial plan 'presses on'

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Blair and Hain face fierce backlash over amnesty for 150 IRA fugitives

Imagine the scene 20 years in the future. A red-faced Prime Minister stands at the despatch box, being shouted down by angry MP's. To bring "closure" to Al Qaida's bloody campaign of violence in Britain, he proposes an amnesty. Those who murdered in the name of Islam will - on acknowledging their actions, but without having to appear in court - remain at liberty.

Their punishment? The "shame" of a criminal record!

The punishment of the British public for having been the victims of such crimes? The loss of their civil liberties, their privacy and their traditional fearlessness in the face of state power. Also the loss of numerous innocent lives; hundreds at the hands of terrorists and hundreds more at the hands of the sadistic goons attracted to the police force of the mid-2020's by limitless powers to do summary "justice".

Nothing exposes the hypocrisy of this government more than its attitude to the IRA. Irish terrorists were supported by the United States. So the government cravenly surrendered to them. We would like to believe its opposition to Muslim terrorists is more principled. Sadly, it only began when the USA was attacked. Before then, "Londonistan" was the de facto world headquarters of Islamic terror.

Perhaps it would be better to become the 51st State? At least then we would get some say in these matters? At least then, the President would need to appeal for our support directly to us, rather than to the poodles who lead us now.

Telegraph | News | Blair and Hain face fierce backlash over amnesty for 150 IRA fugitives

The end of time

What a perfect little Telegraph opinion piece; torn, like the newspaper itself, between liberty and nostalgia. New Labour has been a great boon to the "Torygraph" by allowing it to multiply one theme by the other and indulge in nostalgia for liberty.

Telegraph | Opinion | The end of time

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Hunt stepped up for Pc's killer

Of course, this is an appalling crime and I hope the killers are caught. However I wish the police responded with such enthusiasm and determination when we "civilians" are the victims.

I am waiting for the usual reassuring statement that "...statistically, these crimes are very rare and there is no reason for public concern..." How odd that we are not hearing that on this occasion.

BBC NEWS | England | Bradford | Hunt stepped up for Pc's killer

Friday, November 18, 2005

One in five men won't reach retirement if age rises to 67

Surely this is the point? The intention of the "reform" is to match pension payments to the State's ability to pay. We are such mugs for the notion that only the State can be trusted that no-one is reporting this story as they should. The press has fulminated over private sector pensions scandals. This one is seen as the fault of "society" - i.e. no-one's fault.

In fact, it is a classic case of mis-selling and fraud. Our grandparents were sold a state pensions scheme funded from compulsory contributions, with an element of socialist subsidy so that the rich would pay more but everyone would get the same. They voted repeatedly for governments which promoted this lie.

Our grandparents never discovered it was a lie. The pension funds were stolen and used for various mad schemes. Their pensions were paid from general taxation. They were the parents of the baby boomers and their fecundity provided for them, just as that of medieval peasants used to do.

Our parents realised something was up. The scheme was "reformed" by the abolition of earnings-related pensions which were unfunded by contributions and which their taxes could not sustain - except for civil servants and politicians. They never discerned the lie though. They kept trusting the State to provide.

Now we are supposed to be so stupid that we don't detect the lie either. The "pot" to pay our pensions is long since spent; given to African dictators and other more deserving sorts than us. We have been taxed to pay our grandparents' and parents' pensions, but our children are too few and too poor to pay ours. Therefore we must die in greater numbers before becoming entitled to pensions. We must be grateful that the government is raising the pension age to achieve this. They could have proposed euthanasia instead. Perhaps that will be the next stage of "reform?"

How does the conduct of successive governments differ from that of the Halifax bank manager recently jailed? He defrauded investors by paying their "profits" from other peoples' money. So did they. The only difference is in the consequences to the individuals concerned. He is now serving well-deserved jail time as a guest of Her Majesty. They are her Ministers and Privy Councillors.

Telegraph | News | One in five men won't reach retirement if age rises to 67

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ex-MI5 chief sparks ID card row

I am surprised at the fuss. No-one believed ID cards would help counter terrorism anyway. Even David Blunkett (what bliss to mention his wretched name now he's gone) admitted as much.

ID cards and the associated database are not about safety. This project is about control. It is hard to know whether to fear more its success or its failure. If it "succeeds", our lives will be tracked by the state on a scale undreamed of in the most totalitarian regimes. Ministers lie brazenly that it will be a "yes/no" identity verification system. That may be true, at least initially, for those other than the security services, the police and their political masters. That seems quite enough intrusion to be going on with - and it will get worse.

Remember how asset seizure was at first an exceptional power to be used only against terrorists? Then it was extended to drug dealers. Now the police can seize and crush your car if you forget to renew your insurance. Or HM Customs can seize it if they don't believe you are personally going to smoke the fags and drink the booze you are bringing back from France. How long did that "function creep" take? It seems to have been more a "function sprint"

I give it not more than 5 years for the tax man to have full access to the database, regardless of which Government is in power. Before long after that the local librarian will be able to track you down to collect the fine on that book you forgot to return. You will be asked to produce the card to cash a cheque, hire a car or check into an hotel. A policeman wiil certainly ask for it if you sleep in a ditch. They will hook it up to their other mad plan - the compulsory satellite car tracking system for "road pricing" and speed limit enforcement.

If you want to be a free man, you will have to travel in stolen cars, live by mugging and spend only your stolen cash. Otherwise, you may as well live in a glass house and walk the streets naked with your net worth tattooed on your buttocks.

As for failure, the insanely-centralised and comprehensive database will be a global top ten hacker target. Breaking into it would enable identity theft so perfect that a victim will need to adopt a new one. Nor need we fear only the technically-minded criminal. Cash to the right official will secure whatever is needed.

As PJ O 'Rourke said " money and power to politicians is like giving whisky and car keys to teenage boys..." Even if (mysteriously) you love and trust the present bunch, how much imagination do you need to work out what future politicians will do with the control over your life that this database will give them?

BBC NEWS | Politics | Ex-MI5 chief sparks ID card row

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Europa - dein Name ist Feigheit

This is the first foreign language article I have blogged. It's worth stretching your GCSE German to read. For those without German, here is a link to a translation.

Europa - dein Name ist Feigheit

Taxman to snoop in your home

Tax is a libertarian issue. If the State taxes citizens according to the quality of their homes, then logically it must be able to enter those homes. If it taxes them on using a TV, then it must be able to check if they have a TV. If it taxes them on what they earn, it must be able to check if they are lying about their income.

The more taxes there are, the less liberty there is. Simple taxes are not just a good idea because they allow people to save time and money on interacting with the Government. They are not just a good idea because they allow creativity to be diverted from tax avoidance to production. They are not just a good idea because they reduce the number of Government employees and therefore reduce taxes overall. They are also a good idea because they reduce the need for the State to interfere in our lives.

If all taxes were assessed on spending, for example, they would be broadly progressive (the wealthier you are, the more you spend); they would encourage saving and investment; they would require very little enforcement (because retailers would collect them at point of sale) and they would require no intrusion into privacy. The Government would not need to know how (or even where) you live, or how much you earn.

Every day, laws are introduced on the assumption that the State is more trustworthy than its citizens. There is nothing in human history to support that idea. Why are we so naieve?

Telegraph | News | Taxman to snoop in your home

Monday, November 14, 2005

'Army wanted an officer on trial over Iraq. They picked my husband'

This government has no loyalty to the men and women of our armed services. They are ready enough to use them to make a political point, but they have no concern for their welfare. The failure of the Ministry of Defence to equip them properly for the Iraq war made that clear enough.

Labour's seedy political hacks would never put themselves in danger for a country whose historic values and institutions they despise. They don't much like the old-fashioned souls who will.

Labour's spin doctors want to reach out to Muslim voters, so they throw our soldiers to the wolves. Small wonder the Army is finding it harder to recruit.

Telegraph | News | 'Army wanted an officer on trial over Iraq. They picked my husband'

Sunday, November 13, 2005

One in four Labour MPs out to cripple Tony Blair

This is a bad moment for the Conservatives to be without a leader. The 25% of Labour MPs who will rebel on health and education matters are not Conservative allies on anything but civil liberty issues. However, on those issues, the odious Bliar is.

Britain's society is in crisis, with teenagers stabbing each other in school and thugs roaming the streets, precisely because of the education system that the Labour rebels defend. It is easier for a Labour government to reform education than the Conservatives, because the latter are vulnerable to accusations (particularly if led by Etonians) that they don't care about the State system. In the dying moments of the Blair administration, there is the chance for the man who has done so much harm to do some good. If he wants to reintroduce selection and head teacher discretion on disciplinary matters, the Conservatives should back him.

Similar arguments apply to health. The NHS is not the envy of the world. Young lawyers from Eastern Europe seconded by my firm to London have been disgusted by the NHS. It is our national shame. It is the second largest organisation on Earth after the Chinese Peoples' Liberation Army, and is about as effective in delivering healthcare. It is Labour's sick baby and Labour can cure it. The Conservatives should help them.

Telegraph | News | One in four Labour MPs out to cripple Tony Blair

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A night in the cells gave me a different view of the cops

Thank goodness Boris Johnson had a night in the cells to learn that policemen are not saints. All MP's should have his experience. 291 of them deserve to spend much longer in custody for their betrayal of Britain.

As a young man, I spent almost a year as a criminal defence lawyer to learn that policemen are as flawed as other humans. It should not have come as a surprise, but I was brought up by Daily Mail readers who believed in our "boys in blue;" (they don't any more, by the way).

Policemen under pressure to perform take short cuts, just as the "cop shows" on TV portray. "Doing wrong to do right" makes good TV and bad real life.

If an Oxford Police Constable will try to stitch up a blond undergraduate with a criminal damage charge to improve his clear up rate, how much more will an anti-terrorist officer with the Home Secretary on his back and a terrified public clamouring for action in the wake of a terror attack be prepared to bend the rules to get "a result"? Consider the case of the Birmingham Six. I don't doubt the police in that case believed them guilty. They didn't knowingly stitch up innocent men. That was the effect of their behaviour, however.

The police are not to be trusted. Not because they are the police, but because they are people. None of us are to be trusted when push comes to shove, which is why society has frameworks of rules within which we can be protected from each other.

28 days detention without trial is less than half as wicked as 90 days. But it is still wicked. And the "glorification of terror" law is a farce. Unless the Home Secretary is prepared to order the arrest of the French ambassador next Bastille Day, that is.

Sun readers fondly imagine that the law will be used in racist ways to round up shifty-looking Muslims. That's why they favour stringent powers. Sun readers presumably imagine we have enough jails to round up millions of Allah-botherers and hold them until - what? Until the threat passes? It won't. Not by these means, at least.

All historical experience of terrorism (and we have more than most nations) shows such measures will make things worse. Every time they are used, our authorities will generate sectarian hatred. One innocent Muslim held without charge for 28 days will produce dozens of Muslims (him, his family and friends) with a genuine sense of injustice. One evangelical Christian punished for preaching a literal, but unflattering, interpretation of the Koran, will produce thousands of embittered non-Muslims.

Blair's macho stance on terrorism betrays the psyche of a deeply insecure man. The press today focusses on his political weakness. History will focus on the damage he has done to our society with his endless spin, posturing and political manoeuvering. He is the worst PM we have ever had. What a shame his annointed successor may be even worse.

Telegraph | Opinion | A night in the cells gave me a different view of the cops

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

High principles and low politics

It is surprising to read this in the Daily Mail, but encouraging. Tony Blair, a lawyer married to an eminent civil rights lawyer, is deliberately and cynically removing fundamental freedoms to win favour with tabloid editors and voters of authoritarian leanings. The Mail's editor is sending a hostile signal. His readers ARE those authoritarian British voters.

Our ancestors fought for these rights. If we lose them, we will not get them back without fighting again. Are we ready for that? Bearing in mind that the preceding sentences might be in breach of the proposed new laws, exactly how would we fight?

European neighbours from civilised countries; some with great traditions of democracy, lived under decades of totalitarian rule because it was impossible to organise effective resistance to police states with fewer resources, both technical and legal, than our government is now putting in place. They might not be free today if their rulers had not been impoverished by the implosion of their ludicrously-organised economies. If we allow detention without trial - on the say-so of a policeman or politician, we may have to wait for one of the world's top 5 economies to collapse. That could take a while.

In the meantime, we will lose the freedom from fear we have always enjoyed in dealing with authority. Annoy them and they will have the power to destroy our livelihood on a pretended suspicion. Initially (until the next Blair "reform") they will have to justify themselves to a judge. But they won't need evidence to suggest we are guilty; just enough to give grounds for "suspicion". The spin-masters behind the "dodgy dossier" won't find that hard.

I really hope this is a turning point for the better in British history. The opinion polls suggest otherwise, but if there are enough men and women of judgement and principle in the House of Commons tonight, there is still a faint hope.

High principles and low politics | the Daily Mail

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Universities warn over terror Bill | the Daily Mail

It may not be the worst thing about this Government, but its sloppy approach to legal drafting is a telling disgrace. I don't know how the Government Law Officers and the lawyers in the office of the Parliamentary Draftsman can live with themselves. Again and again, they have permitted the sloppy language of the saloon bar and the political pamphlet to find its way into law.

To criminalise the ownership or production of "suspicious" materials begs the questions of "suspicious to whom?" or "giving rise to suspicions of what?"

I can almost hear Blair or Clarke saying - some months from now - that terrorists have applied for jobs in University libraries or chemistry labs to give themselves a respectable "cover" to store and disseminate suspicious literature or to produce suspicious chemicals.

Simply saying that fears of impinging on academic (or any other freedom) are not "justified" is not an answer. It doesn't matter what Parliament intended in drafting a law (unless the law is ambiguous). Generally it matters what the law actually says. The police and Crown Prosecution will use it as it is drafted and the courts must interpret it likewise. It will not be a defence to say "...but Parliament didn't intend this..."

If there is no evidence to charge a man, don't arrest him. He is innocent until proven guilty, right? So get the proof. Observe him, follow him, tap his phones (under judicial supervision) or whatever. Don't just arrest him because you don't like the look of him and then fish around for some justification for what you have done. Nor, in a free country, should you arrest him for thinking bad thoughts or even expressing them. He should only be arrested when he can be charged with actions or - at the very least - with criminal conspiracy to act.

We are drifting rapidly into a police state. The idiots who think that every danger requires a ritual sacrifice of liberty are ignoring the biggest danger of all. The last century was characterised, not by terrorist atrocities, but by the enslavement of individuals by over-mighty states. That is still by far a greater danger.

Universities warn over terror Bill | the Daily Mail

Monday, November 07, 2005

Voters back 90-day detention plan | the Daily Mail

Are they mad? Do they understand that "terrorism suspect" is not the same as "terrorist?" Can they not conceive that they, their spouses, their children or their friends could be among those suspects? How on earth can it be true that 72% of British voters are prepared to allow the liberties that have protected us for centuries to be thrown away one after another? Who are these people?

Voters back 90-day detention plan | the Daily Mail

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I hate England - Sunday Times - Times Online

It has long been the case that the only race which it is permissible to hate is the English. For proof, please read AA Gill's article in full. If you are English, be warned that you may find it offensive. It is clearly intended to be so. If the English are the lumpen, loutish, angry, bloodlusting would-be axe-wielders he portrays, we must at least be proud of our self-restraint. How else can we account for our murder rate being one third that of his beloved Scotland's? It is that same restraint that allows us to view with cool contempt the hatred of this affected twit.

When reading his words of wisdom, please apply my patent racism test. Substitute "Pakistani" or "Welsh" for every reference to the English. Then ask yourself if this clown deserves his sophisticated reputation.

I hate England - Sunday Times - Times Online

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Telegraph | Opinion | Simon Heffer on Saturday

Simon Heffer highlights the nauseating consequences of a government so addicted to "spin" (tr. lies) that it has ceased to exercise any moral judgement. Soldiers are prosecuted on evidence described by the judge as "...too inherently weak or vague for any sensible person to rely on..." Why? Because Muslim Labour voters must be shown that the Government is on their side. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner brings some of his own officers up on disciplinary charges over false allegations of racism. Why? To show that he is a "progressive" policeman worthy of being under the PM's security blunkett when he fouls up.

Stand morality on its head. Elevate hypocrisy to the level of art. Win three, and maybe yet four terms at the trough of corruption and privilege by lying at every turn. What do you get? Modern Britain.

Telegraph | Opinion | Simon Heffer on Saturday

Blair accused over sunset advice

I cannot commend you strongly enough to this brilliant spoof of the BBC's style and Tony Blair's approach to civil liberties.

BBC NEWS | UK | Politics | Blair accused over sunset advice

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The stamp of inequity

This Telegraph opinion piece makes a good point, but the most interesting observation is in the sub-text. Such injustice could never be visited on "...the Government's client groups..." says the anonymous commentator. It can be done however to those who are "...socially responsible, and with a stake in the country, and therefore unlikely to do anything except suffer in silence..."

So someone has finally, at least in code, spoken the truth. The Labour government is not interested in ordinary, decent people. Its "client groups", by implication, are those who are socially irresponsible, have no stake in Britain and have tendencies to violent antisocial behaviour.

This has long been implicit in Labour's every policy. I don't understand why even the Torygraph is too polite to say so openly. Perhaps it is afraid to put a spoke in the wheel of the Cameron "New New Labour" bandwagon?

Would it not be amusing, by the way, if a brave new free enterprise society were to arise from a revolt against stamp duty? It has happened before...

Telegraph | Opinion | The stamp of inequity