Thursday, June 30, 2005

Back from the fleet

My day with the fleet was amazing. I was on board a destroyer, HMS Gloucester, which took part in a fast sail past of the ships of the international fleet. As we cruised in a line of warships, each 200 yards apart, we had a superb view of the assembled hardware bobbing about on the Solent. The officers and crew looked after us well, and fed us in great style. Apparently the ship's cooks were delighted to have the opportunity to show off their skills by preparing something which costs more than their usual budget of £2.03 per man per day.

A storm delayed our transfer back to the ferry which was to return us to shore, so the officers looking after us took us to inspect the Lynx helicopter stowed in the aft hangar and generally kept us amused while we waited. Unfortunately we missed most of the son et lumiere show, but we were in a prime position to enjoy a magnificent firework display.

Apparently HM the Queen commented (before ordering that the mainbrace be spliced) that Nelson could not have wished for better. Vainglorious man though he was, I am sure that is true. Tears trickled down cheeks illuminated by the glow of fireworks as his death was reenacted.

300,000 people took part. Most did not have my privileged view of events. They brought their families and stood on the shoreline to enjoy the spectacle. Something drew them there. Perhaps, to be cynical, they just came for the show. I sense not. I think at some level they were enjoying a rare celebration of England. Nelson would be proud that, in an age of political "correctness" which all but forbids English patriotism, the celebration of his memory should revive such feelings.

Our government was not represented. How could it be? It can't be associated with the patriotism it is determined to destroy. The only sign of its miserable existence was the ludicrous order that the battle reconstruction should be between "reds" and "blues" not between the English and the French. Where is our new Nelson to sweep away such nonsense?

It was a great day. The quiet efficiency of the Royal Navy's officers and men was soothing when contrasted with the usual muddle ashore. I met many interesting people, including a retired admiral who told me with a smile that our current First Sea Lord must be "the first for some time to have had his ship sunk under him and to have been court martialled (and found guilty)". [The two incidents, I hasten to add, were quite separate. The first was in the Falklands War and the second involved the unfortunate loss of some confidential papers]. Charmingly the retired admiral added, in true PG Wodehouse style, "He's a good egg though".

There were lots of good eggs in Portsmouth this week. No doubt that's why the bad eggs from Westminster stayed away.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

To the memory of a great Englishman

Today I have taken a day off work. Together with my younger daughter, I am taking part in the 200th Anniversary celebrations of England's victory at the Battle of Trafalgar, and of the sacrifice made for that victory by England's greatest warrior, Admiral Lord Nelson. Today's celebrations involve a Royal review of an international fleet of 160 warships off Southsea, followed by a son et lumiere reconstruction of the battle and a firework display.

Our politically-correct establishment is so averse to any patriotic feelings on our part (since all our loyalties are due, in their view, to them) that they have decided that the battle reconstruction this evening should be "Blue vs Red" rather than "England vs France/Spain". As Nelson's great great great grandaughter commented yesterday, this just makes us look fools. The French and the Spanish know who won the battle. So do we.

England has often been accused of being too much in love with history. It's sometimes true that we hanker for past glories, but I don't think that is the case on this occasion. However much we despair of the stupidity and ignorance of our current leaders, few would exchange 2005 for 1805. Thousands of English people will be there tomorrow simply to honour the memory of the men who fought at Trafalgar, and to remember their brilliant and courageous leader. He, and many of his men, died for England. Not that she should never change, but that she should be free to take her own path forward in peace and freedom.

Those men would be dismayed to find that the England they fought for has embraced house arrest without trial; putting her in the company of such brutal regimes as Myanmar, North Korea and Cuba. They would be dismayed to find that habeas corpus - already an ancient remedy to them - should be lost to us. They would surprised to learn that while they were intelligent enough to sit on a jury in complex cases, we are (in our benighted government's view) too stupid. They would be shocked that the presumption of innocence itself is in danger, with the right to silence (which is its logical consequence) already abolished. They would be amazed that our government so fears and despises us that it is prepared to spend countless billions on surveillance technology to monitor our daily lives.

Perhaps a few English hearts will stir - as they have always stirred - when Horatio Nelson is remembered. This humble son of a Norfolk parson was inspired by love of country to achieve greatness. Of all patriotisms now, the love of England herself is the only one forbidden us. They can forbid it all they like. It will never die.

Today I will try to forget my anger and bitterness at what the New Labour/New Stalinists have done, and continue to do, to England. I shall try to forget the pathetic failure by the Conservative Party to do its duty as England expects. I shall try to focus instead on the glorious memory of Horatio Nelson. He famously did not understand fear, even as a small boy. We must try to be the same. For as long as we remember him fondly, England will live.

Watchdog warns over ID scheme

How is it that the government can dismiss all opposition to its proposed ID Card and citizen database as misguided when its own "Information Commissar Commissioner" regards the measure as "excessive and disproportionate" and warns that it is leading us towards a "surveillance society" in which civil servants will have "a detailed picture of how every adult lives their lives?"

We are not fanatical "liberati" to use Blunkett's disdainfully dismissive word. We are free people who resent the construction of the infrastructure of totalitarianism in Britain. It's not just the card. As the Commissioner says, it has to be seen in the context of "CCTV with automatic facial recognition, automatic number plate recognition and proposals for the satellite tracking of vehicles for road use charging".

This must stop. Enough is enough. Speak for England and go HERE to register your pledge to resist peacefully, so that your children will never have to resist violently.

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | Watchdog warns over ID scheme

Monday, June 27, 2005

Don't worry, Old Glory can take the heat

Compare and contrast the robust libertarianism of this article from the Chicago Sun Times with the lame political correctness of our press. Mark Steyn's point about the stupidity of "protecting" the American flag is exactly right. It could (and should) be just as easily applied to our Government's ridiculous laws to protect religious people from "insults".

It's far better to know what people really think. Then we have a chance for public debate. If an idea is really dangerous, isn't it better to know who believes in it? Isn't it better to have the chance to challenge it and to try to win people away from it? Suppressing ideas merely legitimises - even glamourises - them. As Steyn rightly says, the war of ideas is best fought in the open.

Don't worry, Old Glory can take the heat

ID card plan in turmoil

This would be a very reassuring story if we had a functioning democracy. Sadly, we do not. Our "opposition" has about as much chance of successfully opposing this monstrous, fascistic measure as I have of being elected chairman of the Ebbw Vale Labour Club.

Let's face it. There isn't enough Viagra on the planet to bring the Conservative Party back to political potency. This measure will only be stopped by civil disobedience. If millions of us make a nonsense of this by refusing to cooperate, it will be an historic moment for Britain.

We have disgraced ourselves for generations by being passive, pushover, voters. We submit routinely to outrages that would have our French brethren on the barricades. The State has grown bigger and bigger and there is no aspect of our lives that our politicians feel afraid to interfere with. This is our chance to stop the rot. The more respectable, law-abiding people who refuse to submit to this tyranny, the more policemen who are embarrassed by having to deal with their ethical superiors, the more politicians who have to answer for the idiocy of persecuting and harassing honest citizens, the sooner this nonsense will end. Please go now to HERE and register your pledge to resist.

Telegraph | News | ID card plan in turmoil

Saturday, June 25, 2005

£220bn stolen by Nigeria's corrupt rulers

These are the two sentences in this article which really wrench my gut:-

"The stolen fortune tallies almost exactly with the £220 billion of western aid given to Africa between 1960 and 1997. That amounted to six times the American help given to post-war Europe under the Marshall Plan."

The Marshall Plan money was enough for Germany and others to rebuild their economies. In Nigeria it did nothing at all. Blair and Brown promoted debt forgiveness to nations ruled by just such thieves, and are now promoting further "aid" which will go exactly the same way. They cannot be so stupid as to believe that it will not be stolen this time. So why are they doing it? Is there any other explanation than that they are spending this money for political advantage by making themselves look "caring" to the more gullible elements of the electorate? If so, that is not quite as corrupt as stealing foreign aid, but it's not honest either.

Telegraph | News | £220bn stolen by Nigeria's corrupt rulers:

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Et tu, Tony?

Blair admits the Revenue failed over the tax credits issue. So why is Brown's head not rolling?

Tax credits backfire on families

Where does the buck stop in this Government? Gordon Brown has presided over monumental incompetence over tax credits. His staff paid out taxpayers' money wrongly, advised surprised recipients that it was their money and they should spend it and then clawed it back, to their great distress. If a company chairman presided over such a screw-up, we all know what would happen.

It used to happen in Government too. Lord Carrington resigned because the Falkland Islands were invaded on his watch. He could not possibly be blamed, but he accepted responsibility. Gordon Brown can be blamed, but he won't take responsibility. If he won't resign, he should be fired.

BBC NEWS | Business | Tax credits backfire on families

Lifeline that failed victim of system

Just as an exercise, I suggest you read this article and note the careful use of loaded language to describe the various problems in this tragic man's life. He did not "take crack"; rather "he ended up with a crack habit." He did not "go back quickly to crime", rather "Sometimes it took him only a day to get back into trouble; never more than a few months".

Then read it again for euphemisms. He did not steal or burgle. No he "nicked," he "screwed houses". The Grauniad writer identifies himself enthusiastically with criminals by using their jargon.

We are told this man was a "victim", although he must by even this slanted account have left hundreds of real victims in his wake. We are told he could not write properly, yet the few pieces of direct quotation in the story are oddly articulate. This "victim" well knew how to make his demands in the language of the Guardian (and all the quotes are coded demands).

Many people grow up in poverty, are abused and unfortunate. Not all of them turn to crime. By blaming "the system", people like this writer equip the enemies of civilisation with a vocabulary of self-justification and actually encourage crime.

I regret the mistakes made in dealing with this young man. Up until the age of 18, I would have supported every effort to assist and reform him, although I would much prefer that the State provided cash to private charities for the purpose. State care of unfortunate children seems invariably to lead to worse abuse, sexual and psychological, than in even the worst families.

Once he was an adult however, he could have stayed off drugs and out of jail. He had choices and was responsible for their outcomes. The incompetence of the various social workers in the story rather suggests to me the money that could be saved by dispensing with their services than the need for more of them. On the other hand, while I don't like them very much for what I learn in this article, I am not as ready to blame them for this losers criminality, or its consequences, as is the Guardian.

It is ludicrous to portray such a man as a victim, however sad his childhood may have been. The Guardian, as always, is helping to build a culture of irresponsibility in which everyone is to blame for a man's problems, except that man himself.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Lifeline that failed victim of system

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Ministers 'to scrap fraud juries'

Ministers harangue us about our lack of "engagement" with public duty. To hear them talk, we Brits are a bunch of non-voting, apathetic degenerates unworthy of their selfless and devoted public service. Oddly, however, jury service is one public duty ordinary Brits have faithfully fulfilled for centuries which they would rather we gave up.

Trial by a jury of one's peers (i.e. one's equals) is a right which has comforted generations of Englishmen. However corrupt the police, however aggressive the prosecutor, however prejudiced the judge, twelve ordinary people selected at random must be convinced of our guilt before we go to jail. No human institution is perfect (or perfectable), but it is the best guarantee of a fair trial that anyone has ever devised. Goodness knows how many generations of policemen and prosecutors have been deterred from wrongful harassment of those who annoy them by the thought that "a jury will never convict".

It has in its time been an instrument of reform. In 18th Century England there were more than 200 offences for which a man could be hanged. A Parliament of landowners was not much inclined to spare the necks of poachers, but when juries refused systematically to convict those who would die for trivial offences, the law had to be changed.

It was called "criminal equity" and there are those of us, facing the relentless progress towards a police state in Britain, who hoped to benefit from it one day, when we are forced into "criminality" by a Government which has created more than 1,000 new crimes and shows no sign of slowing its pace.

Every day, ordinary men and women, untrammeled by prejudices, free of the cynicism which naturally afflicts all who spend their lives in the criminal justice system, quietly do their best to do right. But our lords and masters in Whitehall don't think we are up to the job when the trial is "complicated". So it is that yet another right granted to us by Magna Carta begins a rapid slide to oblivion under "New Labour, New Tyranny".

Does anyone think that "complicated fraud trials" will be the end of this? Home Secretaries looking to prove their macho anti-crime credentials will soon be pointing out how complicated other trials can be. It will take one jury decision which does not suit the ruling Party, or one embarrassing headline in the Daily Mail, for the whole system to be brought down.

Jury duty is a bore. There's nothing glamorous about it. Workers tired from working Europe's longest hours to pay Europe's highest housing costs may be happy, at first, to be spared this civic chore. But many will live to regret its loss. Magna Carta guaranteed that: -

"No freeman shall be taken, imprisoned,...or in any other way destroyed...except by the lawful judgment of his peers, or by the law of the land. To no one will we sell, to none will we deny or delay, right or justice."

The message is clear. Tamper with jury trial - "...the lawful judgement of his peers..." - and we are none of us free men.

BBC NEWS | UK | Ministers 'to scrap fraud juries'

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Humanist weddings, and why not?

Scotland leads the way again, permitting the first British "humanist wedding" to be legally recognised. The more I think about it, however, the less I understand why it's any business of the State how couples choose to commit to each other. Rather than have community conflict (as is happening in Spain at present) over "gay weddings" why doesn't the State back off altogether?

Religious people can marry in churches, temples, synagogues or mosques. For them, that will be the real marriage as for most of them it already is. Others can use whatever ceremony they like. Why should it be anyone else's business? The law really only needs to intervene when people have bought property in common (obvious enough from the title registers) and/or have children together (obvious enough from the registers of births, and capable of being proved by DNA testing when in dispute).

Let's sack the registrars, repeal the laws on licensing venues for weddings and get on with our lives. It's no-one's business but ours (and our God's if we have one) whom we choose to share our life with.

The Telegraph has noticed....

... that No2ID is gathering "pledges" not to register for the new national database which is the civil liberties outrage underlying the proposed new £300-a-go (according to independent academic research, not our lying government) ID cards.

It would revive the spirits of so many of us struggling to promote the concept of civil liberties in Britain to feel that there were tens of thousands of fellow-believers out there. If you haven't already done so, please take the pledge HERE

This year is the 200th anniversary of Nelson's famous and self-sacrificing victory at Trafalgar. He didn't give his life so that you could live under permanent surveillance in an island prison called "Britain".

No joke

The Puritans are back. There's really no other way to explain it. Such are the opportunities they present for meddling in the lives of others that both national and local government are now drawing in the joyless like highly specialised black holes that only attract boring matter.

Friday, June 17, 2005

UK Treatment Of Terror Suspects 'Inhuman'

If you are not yet convinced that our Government is a force for evil, perhaps this story will do it? The findings about abuse of detainees do not surprise me. That Blair and his cohorts have lost their moral bearings has been obvious for some time. But the sheer arrogance involved in suppressing the report while the Law Lords deliberated on Belmarsh and MP's debated the Prevention of Terrorism Act is amazing. These people have Beria's respect for due process and Goebbel's respect for the truth.

Neocon Insanity: UK Treatment Of Terror Suspects 'Inhuman'

Hundreds of children 'vanishing'

This story is already a month old, but it has been nagging in the back of my mind. To be honest I have been afraid to post about it for fear of being thought racist. "Racist" is the worst thing you can be accused of in modern Britain - worse than murder apparently.

Years ago, when I first qualified as a lawyer and briefly practised criminal law, a policeman in Nottingham told me that "dozens" of young Asian girls were being burned alive in "honour killings" and that the police did not interfere for fear of their careers being ended by accusations of racism. I didn't believe him, God forgive me. I thought he was a racist.

I believe him now. According to this story on the BBC's website, between July and September 2001, 300 African boys disappeared from London schools, and "police fear thousands may go missing annually". No-one has any idea how many of them may be ritually killed. Could it be that such horrors have happened unchecked for the reasons my police acquaintance in Nottingham explained nearly 25 years ago?

Dare I even mention the horrific case of Victoria ClimbiƩ in this context? A highly-respectable pair of City lawyers of my acquaintance came close to losing their child because wrongly suspected of child abuse. The system swung right into action against such "soft targets" and they struggled for months to ward off the State machine. One can't help but suspect that the sort of left-winger who goes in for a career in Social Services was delighted to have such capitalist hate-figures in their sights.

Poor Victoria, on the other hand, was tortured to death under the constant supervision of Social Services. Is it too dangerous to suggest that it was because her abusers were black? Is it too dangerous to suggest that black boys were being ritually killed by white people that no effort would be too great to catch the murderers? These are questions that should be asked. Yet, for fear of being thought "racist", stories like this simply die.

BBC NEWS | UK | Hundreds of children 'vanishing'

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Executive repeats ID card pledge

We have serious reservations about retiring to England when we finish our world tour of countries casting off Communism. After all, the point of retirement is to have a change from one's working life, isn't it?

The National Identity Database; ID cards (no doubt compulsory by our retirement date); no habeas corpus; restricted jury trials; police made arrogant by excessive powers; police targets that incentivise them to go for soft middle class types and leave the hard cases alone; a Government that knows no boundaries to interference in our daily lives - these don't strike us as likely to make our retirement comfortable.

We don't want to retire to the countryside. We want theatres, musems, shops. So London (still my favourite city in the world, despite the competing charms of Venice, Moscow, Paris and - my latest love - Istanbul) would - all other things being equal - be our first choice. But not if it's the heart of Stalinist darkness that Blair, Brown, Clarke and Blunkett seem determined to build. Maybe this story from the BBC means that Edinburgh is the place for us? At least the Members of the Scottish Parliament don't do synchronised sneering if someone makes a civil liberties point.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Kelly wants schools open from 8am to 6pm so parents can stay at work

Greying Britain is ludicrously obsessed with its disaffected, binge-drinking, teenagers. It worries about them hanging about in shopping centres wearing "hoodies" and looking intimidating. It gets into states of anguish over stories such as the three teenage sisters who all had babies under the age of sixteen (one at the age of twelve). It is reluctant to acknowledge (but secretly rather suspects) that burgeoning divorce rates and children therefore brought up in what used to be called "broken homes" have something to do with it.

In binge-drinking stories one reads about the lamentable fact that our children are not, like Continentals, taught to drink in a "civilised" way - a glass of wine with meals etc. Rather they learn to take successive doses of alcohol in the macho culture of our pubs - a culture increasingly and confusingly adopted by "ladette" females.

So how does Education Minister Ruth Kelly propose to rebuild our "fallen" youth? She is going to arrange for the successful British State to replace the country's failing parents. With such hours, our children will certainly not be learning table manners, family values or the proper use of alcohol from their parents. They will see less of parents slaving the longest hours in Western Europe to fund Gordon Brown's plans to arm Africa's dictators. Any misconceptions they may develop about sexual matters will certainly be the fault (as the hapless mother of the aforesaid pregnant teenagers alleged) of poor sex education in schools.

All of the additional activities are to be provided, not by teachers who already know the children, but by an ever-changing cast of contractors. It's back to the hippy communes, essentially, with the nearest person to hand looking after the children.

Until a few years ago, teachers were happy to provide - as part of their normal duties - after-hours activities such as sports, drama or chess clubs. The political onslaught on the dignity of that most important of all professions resulted in their refusing to do so. Blamed for society's ills by politicians; their professional discretion removed by political directives as to how to do their jobs, they revolted. They are underpaid, undervalued and subjected to constant abuse by out-of-control pupils they are not allowed to expel. They are also liable to be sued or prosecuted for any mishaps that occur during out-of-hours activities. They gave up. Who can blame them?

Yet those out of hours activities were the best part of my education, largely because not only the teachers but the other children there were volunteers. I acted in plays at my school, in my local community theatre and in my County Youth Theatre. All were organised by volunteer teachers, whom I forgot at the time to thank, but have remembered with gratitude ever since. The enthusiasm of those activities was in marked contrast to classrooms of unwilling pupils in nonsensical "mixed ability" groups. For once, we could leave the sullen losers behind and approach something with vigour and delight.

These enforced "Kelly hours" will not be quite the same, will they? The idea of making such opportunities available again is admirable. I would support Ruth Kelly with all my heart if I thought she was going to make that happen. But I fear that this is more about winning votes by taking children off the hands of over-worked British parents and gaining more State control over young lives. The majority of British children, pace the popular press, are good kids who want to learn and get on. They don't need to spend yet more time with the cadet branch of the militant losers for whom modern Britain is ruled.

Telegraph | News | Kelly wants schools open from 8am to 6pm so parents can stay at work

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Cautious welcome for G8 debt deal

The scariest thing about this story is the lack of any balance. No-one makes the case against writing off Third World debts. Whenever there is no debate, an historical mistake is usually being made. I suggest this is one of those occasions.

Picture yourself this morning as the Finance Minister of the 60th most poor country in the world. You have massive sovereign debts, your army lacks ammunition to suppress revolt against you and your Swiss bank account is not filling as fast as it was. You have just "missed the boat" on debt relief, although "poverty campaigners" (mainly characterised by their poverty of intellect) feel your country should be one of the "at least 62" forgiven its debts.

Is there not some "moral jeopardy" here? Will you not be tempted to impoverish your nation a little further so as to put yourself on the odious Geldof's radar screen?

This money will not go to schools, hospitals and nurses. Gordon Brown knows that perfectly well. He has just given away almost a billion pounds of other people's money to make himself look caring. It is quite disgusting.

BBC NEWS | Business | Cautious welcome for G8 debt deal

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Blair hints at deal over EU rebate

So much for never giving up on Britain's "rebate". Blair is already hinting that a deal can be done. Some will say that the price he is demanding is too much for the French to pay - but he has opened the door to a fake compromise in which our European "partners" can pretend to reform the CAP (again) in return for his agreeing to pay 15 times more to the EU budget than France.

Why would dear Tony betray the nation in this way, you may ask? Well he's a young man yet and due to retire as PM shortly. One way in which the EU has corrupted our politicians is by offering them jobs after their careers in national politics are over. Consider Neil Kinnock - a complete failure as a British politician, but a high earner in the EU. He began as an anti-EU left-winger, but moved steadily towards it as his career in Britain faltered and was handsomely rewarded when it ended. He and his wife (neither of them gifted) have earned a fortune in Brussels.

Blair's stance on Iraq damaged his EU job prospects severely. Only betraying his nation on a massive scale could now "redeem" him in the eyes of Chirac and others. Blair ought to fear the rope and the lamppost, but his experience of British voters suggests they are pathetically susceptible to his meretricious charms. Consider also that his chief consigliere, Peter Mandelson, has already gone on ahead to Brussels. Things do not look good.

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | Blair hints at deal over EU rebate

Friday, June 10, 2005

Blair rebuffs Chirac call to give ground on EU rebate

And so it begins. Whatever happens in the EU, somehow the French will always analyse it as Britain's fault.

The "Trojan Horse" of free market economics would be a glorious role for us in the EU. If only it were true. Sometimes I think the only political purpose the EU serves in Britain is to make us look liberal and capitalist by comparison with the sclerotic economies of our near neighbours.

If we were really pursuing liberal economic policies, we would be unable to remain in the EU. The EU is based on an evil combination of socialism and a racist determination to keep the Third World poor by the use of tariff barriers.

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Blair rebuffs Chirac call to give ground on EU rebate

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Council of Europe rebukes UK on human rights

Today, the "Racial and Religious Hatred Bill", yet another ill-thought-through piece of New Labour legislation, was presented to our poodle Parliament for rubber-stamping. At the same time, the Council of Europe reviewed our recent record on human rights. Unsurprisingly, it finds us wanting.

This quote from Alvaro Gil-Robles, the Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, struck a chord with me: -

"...human rights are not a pick-and-mix assortment of luxury entitlements but the very foundation of democratic societies..."

If he is right, we in Britain - with our Burmese-style house arrests, our recent abolition of habeas corpus and our "antisocial behaviour orders" - are building on unsafe foundations.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

EU set to ambush British rebate

Under the present rules, Britain is paying two and a half times more into the EU Budget than France. Are the French grateful for this largesse? Pas de tout. They are lobbying hard for new rules under which Britain would pay fifteen times more than France!

France's "social model" cripples its economy to such an extent that apparently this is "fair". Odd that, given that in GDP terms France is always either just below or just above Britain in the league tables. In effect, France is a client state of the United Kingdom. Yet, unlike the battered citizens of our client states in Africa, the French actually enjoy a superior standard of living to ours. Those guys are clever, aren't they?

How politically inept were our leaders to engineer a situation where the only defence against such massive subsidies is a "rebate" - an inherently transient device which presents itself psychologically as a "gift" from thieves who have temporarily agreed to steal less. Margaret Thatcher, yet again, mistakenly assumed that all successive leaders would be as strong as her. Our economic safety depends on the enthusiasm with which Blown and Brair wield Maggie's old handbag.

If Blair gives way on this one, surely both he and Britain's EU membership are finished? Why exactly would the British people not hang from a lampost a leader who betrayed them on such a scale?

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | EU set to ambush British rebate

Heathrow plans 'madness'

Can anyone who bought a house near Heathrow in the last 50 years really be surprised by a compulsory purchase order? Predictably, those affected by the latest expansion plans for the airport are pretending to be shocked. They are also pretending to be environmentalists; always a good cover for reactionary behaviour and particularly amusing in the case of people so in love with nature that they chose to live under a flight path.

In the advanced economies, we are rapidly approaching a position where the majority of trade (by value) is moved by air. The United States is already there. Its motor cars and other heavy items exported by land and sea are not as valuable as its software and other light goods exported by air. The City of London's "invisible exports" move, not on pallets, but on briefcases carried through Heathrow Airport.

Britain's economy is dangerously dependant on London. Years of misguided "regional aid" have done no more than make our other cities "aid-junkies". Every individual state or "Land" in Federal Germany has a major city which is a net contributor to the economy. Each "Land" could stand alone economically. In Britain however, only London could stand alone.

London's infrastructure, on the other hand, has been neglected for decades. The economic engine of our little ship stutters on, despite lack of regular maintenance. The situation is unlikely to improve under the "Scottish Raj" (and to a lesser extent, the Welsh and Northern English Raj) of New Labour. We can confidently expect the wealth generated in the Square Mile to continue to be injected, literally and figuratively, into the veins of Salford and Glasgow.

How long can it be before hapless commuters who cannot afford to live in the same city as their job give up on such miserable lives? London's geography is NOT its main competitive advantage. Its transport infrastructure is such a mess that no-one who has left it to work abroad ever wants to go back to such daily misery. The City of London's only competitive advantage is its workforce. Its catchment area contains the greatest concentration of suitably experienced professionals in Europe. If those people decide London is not a place they want to work any longer, the whole British economy could collapse.

Frankfurt and Paris make periodic attempts to topple the City from its position. It's fair to say that only the English language (via the economic power of America) defends Britain from its just economic deserts.

The knee-jerk "temporary Greens" who object to the extension of Heathrow should understand what they are doing. The airport, like it or not, is a key artery of the nation's only net wealth-creating city. If they succeed in blocking it, the resultant heart-attack will kill them too.

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | Heathrow plans 'madness'

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I saw hate in a graveyard - Stephen Fry

The proposed laws against incitement to religious hatred are very dangerous. Had they existed in 1930's Germany, Nazism would not have been prevented, Rather, it would have been legitimised; its adherents able to portray themselves as victims, oppressed for their opinions.

This thoughtful piece in the Observer reports Stephen Fry's response to the desecration by modern anti-Semites of his great-grandfather's grave. He understands his own emotional reaction and relates it to others' desire to have laws against religious hatred.

But his conclusion is that of a free man, not a slave looking to his master, the State, to protect him.

He says he 'couldn't possibly obey a law' that allowed prosecutions of comedians or writers who caused offence, adding: 'It's now very common to hear people say, "I'm rather offended by that", as if that gives them certain rights. It's no more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase. "I'm offended by that." Well, so fucking what?'

Exactly. No-one who seeks to suppress the opinions of others because those opinions offend their religious or other beliefs, is fit to live in a free society.

The Observer | UK News | I saw hate in a graveyard - Stephen Fry

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Vast majority think African aid is wasted, poll shows

Our "betters" will affect shock, but I am sure the opinion poll reported here correctly reports what most of us think. Furthermore, I am sure that we are right and they are wrong.

Despite Britain's high position in the GDP league table, high living costs (notably housing costs) mean that many middle- and even high-income households are "cash poor". Our savings rate is deplorably low and we face an enormous pensions "crunch" when the present working generation tries to retire.

Yet, for "photo-ops" with Bono and the infuriating Bob Geldof, our political leaders propose giving further billions of our taxes to Africa's thieving dictators. Just as before, our money will allow them to buy the arms, soldiers and policemen to keep their people in subjection; dying of starvation, AIDS and lack of basic medicine. Whether we approve or not, this is what will happen. The money that could relieve our wants in our old age will be given to murderous thugs so that semi-educated celebrities can feel good about themselves. In what sense, exactly, is that "democracy?"

At the same time the tariff barriers around the "first world" mean that Africans cannot work their way out of poverty. The real "racists" are those who think of Africans as helpless children who cannot solve their own problems. If we stopped arming their oppressors, they would cut their throats and build new nations. That instead we continue to aid their oppressors, while affecting Socialistic brotherly concern just makes me sick.

Yet is it so surprising? The "Socialists" of the old Soviet bloc spoke endlessly of brotherhood, while ruthlessly oppressing and exploiting. Their ideology was not something they truly believed; it was simply the justification for their power. Only mugs thought any of it was real. In Russia, a few such mugs still parade under the hammer and sickle on May Day.

Why should comrades Blair and Brown be expected to behave any differently? Are any of us mug enough to think they really believe what they say? On the contrary, we KNOW that they say whatever "focus groups" tell them will sound good.

When I see Brown, Blair, Geldof and Bono give up their worldly goods to live and work with the poor of Africa, rather then cynically use them as a backdrop for hypocritical self-promotion, I will have to take them seriously. Until then, I shall continue to regard them as more sophisticated versions of their tyrant friends in Africa.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Dutch say 'No' to EU constitution

Dank u aan de Nederlandse mensen voor het leveren van een slag aan de antidemocratische samenzwering van de Europese Unie.

Apologies if the above is wrong - blame the translation widget in Apple OS X Tiger if it is. Anyway, thanks guys.

The EU is at a turning point. It could acknowledge the growing popular revulsion at its anti-democratic ways, or it could try to find ways to ignore the popular votes in France and the Netherlands (as it has always done before).

If it does the latter, there will be trouble. The people will only take so much and if "legitimate" politicians leave a gap for demagogues, then things could get nasty. I hope the leaders of the EU will take a long, hard think.

I am posting this from Istanbul, by the way, theoretically in an EU candidate country. That should be a remote chance now. However, if you are really cynical you could lay serious money on Turkey joining by 2015. At least if you are right to doubt the politicians' honour, you will be a rich cynic. And if you are wrong, you will be poor but less cynical.

BBC NEWS | Europe | Dutch say 'No' to EU constitution

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Wearing a thong can make you ill

And the anti-libertarian of the week award goes to [drum roll] Dr. Thomas Gent, a gynaecologist with a scant appreciation of the legitimate scope of State interference in a woman's life.

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | Wearing a thong can make you ill

'We have enough laws already'

I could not have put it better myself, unless to say "We have too many laws already."

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | 'We have enough laws already'