Saturday, 28 February 2009

Daily Roundup

If I've missed anything please post below.

1) Just in case people don't understand that there's going to be a state of emergency this summer, the fire services have been preparing for one:

2) Ghost towns are upon us. Funny, that: the High Street's lying dormant because no-one's got any money. And, of course, councils must be really happy that Next, the Gap et al managed to close down all those pesky independent stores.

3) Protectionism beckons. And about time, too. Perhaps we could tell Europe to go to hell while we're at it and get our country back.

4) Talk about Iron Man: bionic war's upon us, as Lockheed Martin stands to make big bucks.

5) Lenin's won: children are now officially owned by the state. And, if they act up, the pharmaceutical corps can always stand to make a few bucks: AND (The last article's very long but fascinating)

6) Also from Rolling Stone, the story of how China adopted Britain's surveillance policies to humanity-denying effect:

7) Want a good education? Tough. How the government's brought a casino mentality into the learning 'game'

8) Autism Bill passes first hearing: a good initiative, at first glance But will this lead to ever-more extensive snooping as children are forced to undergo screening?

9) Another Mandelson 'favour for friends' debacle - this time over the hotly contested third runway at Heathrow.

10) Yet another example of the horrific flaws in the ECHRA as legal aid bills for seven men convicted of terror offences comes in at £7 million.

11) The BNPs popularity is snowballing. Are LabLibCon deliberately being the 'do nothing' party in order to encourage mass dissent and extremism in order to get out the fire hoses and the Civil Contingencies Act?

12) Bring on the in-car cameras; talking when driving's apparently worse than DUI. One wonders which UK company's coming up with a prototype Big Brother screen.

13) Japan's suffered the biggest industrial production plunge ever.

14) The people who caused the global meltdown are going to be in charge of a global currency within 15 years. God help us.

15) The day the music died: Obama's defense budget is actually larger than Bush's.

Grr, Grr, Grr

An habitual insomniac who only sleeps a few nights (or days) a week, I thought that it was time to spend my many waking hours productively (rather than seeing how quickly I could remember all the elements of the periodic table and their atomic mass, seething, red-eyed and chaotic) and jazz up my blog. Whoops! I've completely buggered it. Lists, contacts, links, everything lost; if I've disappeared off your Followers list, dear friends, tis because of my inability to deal with HTML in a civilised fashion.

On a heartening note, Brown's facing rebellion from every side re his proposals to destroy Royal Mail. Hopefully he will finally, finally meet his Waterloo. Perhaps the most unpopular leader in UK history should chum up with the most unpopular former leader in US history and write a book about social ostracism.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Clutching At Straws

"Our record isn't perfect. But talk of a police state is daft
There was no golden age of liberty. Since 1997, we have done more to extend freedoms than any government before", claims 
Jack Straw

(Taken from The Guardian, Friday 27 February 2009)

I occasionally ask the asylum seekers at my constituency surgeries why they made the very long journey to the United Kingdom rather than a much shorter one somewhere else. The answer is almost always the same: it is better here. People have more rights and greater protection.

Similarly some of my Muslim constituents will say that whatever criticisms they have of Britain, they cannot think of a better country in Europe, or for that matter the Middle East or South Asia, in which to live freely and to practise their faith in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect. More generally, despite the claims of a systematic erosion of liberty by those organising this weekend's Convention on Modern Liberty, my very good constituency office files show no recent correspondence relating to fears about the creation in Britain of a "police state" or a "surveillance society".

I'm the first to accept that Labour since 1997 has not achieved a state of grace in terms of the crucial balance between security and liberty. But on any objective basis, this government has done more to reinforce and strengthen liberty than any since the war.

Part of the problem for those who question this is that their analysis assumes the loss of a golden age of liberty. No such age existed. The 60s, 70s and 80s were the decades of the informal "judges' rules", the absence of statutory protections for suspects, "fitting up", egregious abuses of power, miscarriages of justice, arbitrary actions by police, security and intelligence agencies, phone tapping without any basis in statute law or any legal protection for the citizen whatsoever, gaping holes where there should have been parliamentary scrutiny.

As the director of Liberty wrote in 1989: "The last 10 years of government have had a striking effect upon freedom in the UK. Civil liberties have not just been eroded, they have been deliberately attacked and undermined." Almost 10 years later there was still no overriding and systematic protection for people's rights and liberties. Labour has provided that: it's called the Human Rights Act. So long as we are in power it won't be watered down.

The fundamental universal rights enshrined in the act are not contingent on behaviour, but nor do they come without responsibility. Implicit in the act is the notion that we all owe one another obligations in the way we exercise our rights. The forthcoming green paper on a bill of rights and responsibilities is designed to generate public debate about how we can articulate these implicit duties more explicitly.

Even the convention rights enshrined in the HRA are not absolute. The right to liberty itself can be taken away in a variety of circumstances - not least if you are convicted of a serious crime. This gets to the heart of the debate about modern liberty. Can individual rights ever be restricted in the name of the common good? I believe there are times when it is necessary to impose restrictions on some aspects of individual liberty in the interests of wider security. That is one of the central tasks of government. Indeed, as James Madison said, if people were angels, there would be no need for government. But sadly people are not all angels.

The climate in a post-9/11 world is much harder than anyone imagined, even in the immediate aftermath of that outrage. I do not pretend we've got everything right. We haven't. Take the data-sharing measures proposed in the coroner's and justice bill. Their aim is good, but parliamentary scrutiny has thrown up justifiable concerns that the powers provided could be misused. It's not our intention but I agree, so we are acting to get a much better balance between data protection and access to services.

And while the ends can never justify the means, our motives for seeking better protection for citizens from terrorism and crime are hardly ignoble. Those who cast myself and my colleagues as Orwellian drones engaged in some awful conspiracy planned in Whitehall basements not only overlook all this government's achievements, they cheapen the important debate about getting the balance right so that a very important freedom, that to live without fear in an atmosphere of tolerance and respect, is nurtured and protected.

And there is of course an ultimate check on executive power - democracy. Talk of Britain sliding into a police state is daft scaremongering, but even were it true there is a mechanism to prevent it - democratic elections. People have the power to vote out administrations which they believe are heavyhanded.

When people come to assess the choices available at the next election, I will stand proudly on Labour's record, from the Lawrence inquiry, which reported 10 years ago this week, progressive legislation on race and gender, to devolution, the Human Rights Act, Freedom of Information and much more, and be ready to be judged on it. I hope that in the final reckoning even some of our harshest critics will concede that this Labour government has done more than any before it to extend liberties and to constrain government.

Crackpot Hysteria from our Big Brother

Wandering around the blogosphere and looking through posts about Home Education, I found this:

"...On the Facebook group, I noticed a post from someone saying that she knew of 3 families who were warned to remove their public blogs by social services or further action would be taken, because their blogs showed photos of their children learning. Having the photos there apparently put those children at 'serious risk'"

Presumably, taking children out of the house poses a serious risk because someone might see their faces.

Many thanks to for alerting me to this latest piece of insanity.

The First Daily Roundup

If you have any more examples, please post them below.

1) Work and home blurs into one:

2) If you don't like it, ban it:

3) Keep them stupid, keep them down: how can socialism work if there's no-one to help?

4) ...And look at the kind of creeps they deem good for education!

5) Don't stand outside a station. In fact, just don't stand anywhere.

6) Hutton's sorry about 'misleading' statements on special rendition. That's called 'lying', John.

7) Leaders 'impatient to run Iraq', says Miliband. Yes, they were fairly impatient to do so *before* the War started.

8) Don't forget: if you're buying booze, BB will be watching:

9) Poor? Tough. The Council lost your money and they're going to charge you for it:

10) And don't forget that humanity is evil and not to be trusted. Ever.

11) If you're gay, you're now 'entitled' to IVF at the taxpayer's expense. Great news for all those heterosexual couples that have been queuing up for years and the taxpayers who weren't consulted.

12) Government breaking its own laws for criminals. Really puts everything into perspective.

13) Bugger biology: why bother learning about zygotes and the loop of henle? After all, we don't need a medical profession:

Daily Roundup

In 1930s Germany Victor Klemperer, a rabbi's son who converted to Protestantism, started to keep a diary recording the daily erosion of civil liberties. Freedoms didn't vanish overnight; they were slowly, slowly erased little by little, so that only those who were actively watching the political scene could see their nightmare unfolding in front of them.
And, considering that the public shells over a considerable proportion of their income to the government, they are paying for the walls of totalitarianism to be raised up around them.
I am going to compile a list of headlines and snippets every day to document what is happening to us; I'd be very grateful if all those similarly concerned about the quality of existence in Fortress Britain would do the same.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Economics, Terrorism, National Security: It's All The Same

I have the feeling that the Civil Contingencies Act is going to be implemented much sooner rather than later.

Spiritual Legacy

Just a thought about rock 'n' roll and feminism; it occurs to me that women everywhere owe a great deal to African-American music, be it the Negro spirituals and gospel music transformed into the electrostatic genius of Ray Charles or the jazz and blues geniuses of the late C19th/early C20th that influenced Elvis Presley to such devastating effect. Before rock 'n' roll burst on the scene, the majority of women were sexually repressed, or encouraged to be so; to think in regimented, prescribed ways; to emulate their parents and accede to their diktats unquestioningly; to believe that being an old maid the worst fate that could befall a woman - in short, to exist only as a male-created entity. 
The old guard were right to fear the power of music. After rock 'n' roll burst on the scene, nothing was ever quite the same again. Women dropped their inhibitions and realised that they, too, were sexual beings. A new age of mass articulation and self consciousness dawned. Liberation from unconscious taboos, prejudices, artificial constructs and suppressions. The language of music, one which had been strait-jacketed for too long into a neat, didactic series of little ditties sung by beautiful anodyne women and handsome lacklustre men, was unleashed, and with it the freedom narrative: 'we hold these truths to be self-evident...'

The Invisible Noose

From the desk of Rupert Murdoch:

February 23, 2009

Dear Colleagues:

...As you all know the downturn we are operating in is more severe and global than anything we have seen before. No company is immune to its effects. I want to take this opportunity, today, to write to you about how we will manage such an important leadership transition, and why I am convinced that today our company is not only well-positioned financially and competitively, but is on the cusp of a new phase of growth. Remember, we began priming ourselves for a weakening economy over a year ago. We have managed expenses and capital expenditure prudently, and strengthened our balance sheet. Following the partial sale of NDS, we will have over five billion dollars in cash, and this year we should exceed $3.5 billion in adjusted operating income.

In the past, we have met downturns with vigor, often departing from the herd. We have emerged much stronger. (What a fantastic business opportunity the misery of millions is.)

Achieving our ambitions will require change and renewal. So throughout 2009, I will continue to work closely with all of our companies to make sure that we are organized and resourced in the best way to take advantage o f this extraordinary point in time. We will press our advantages and invest in our great franchises. And, of course, we will keep our eyes on big prizes, some of which may arise only once in a generation.

Across News Corp. we have a broad and deep reservoir of extremely able executives.

Over the years we have accomplished great things. People understand, and have acknowledged, our entrepreneurial spirit as well as our doggedness; our willingness to take risks, our contrarian investment style; and our commitment to long-term development and shareholder value. (Note the unsettling blend of Messianic 'phone bontos in ereme' and Chicago School economics.)

Many of you have told me how hungry you are to work more closely across our companies. Many of us have been frustrated by the things that can get in the way of that. From systems that don't talk to each other to incentives that struggle to capture the opportunity and aspiration of our total group. These obstacles are obvious to us all. There will be a streamlined management structure between our Los Angeles based business units and the rest of the company. Peter and I will be communicating more on this over the next few months. For the time being, of course, the talented executive team at the Fox Group will continue to report to Peter. (And, with an ever-greater international communications network which will, of course, need ever-greater policing, I spot a new surveillance opportunity.)

Now is also an ideal opportunity to streamline and enhance many of the corporate and administrative functions of the business. There will be cost savings as a result, but the more important aim is to be leaner so that we can better leverage our collective talent and expertise...

We have worked hard to develop and advance the best among us. The renewal of great companies begins within themselves. Pursuing an edge through superior talent is a priority. This will be a key focus for us in 2009.

In the coming months, I will be reaching out to you with new questions, and with new plans.

We are in the midst of a phase of history in which nations will be redefined and their futures fundamentally altered. Many people will be under extreme pressure and many companies mortally wounded. Our competitors will be sorely tempted to take the easy beat, to reduce quality in the search for immediate dividends. (Again, an absolute fusion of politics, Messianic rhetoric and laissez-faire economics. No distinction or disassociation between people and companies; in fact, implication of companies' 'personhood'.)

Let me be very clear about our company: where others might step back from their commitment to their viewers, their users, readers and customers -- we will renew ours.

The direction of the business now and over the next few years will define the character of our company for decades.

We have always thrived on change and challenge. ... The best things we have done, and there are many examples, have defied conventional wisdom, often in the teeth of fierce opposition and near universal disbelief in our capabilities.

Over the past 12 months I have spent time with you in India and China, in Italy and the UK and many other countries. We have brought Dow Jones into the fold, extended our influence in Europe, and been at the center of reporting the arrival of a new American president and the impact of the global financial crisis. We've told extraordinary stories, in theaters
(of war?) around the world and on page and screen from Mumbai to Malibu.

Our own international reach is a profound strength. We have intelligent, creative and highly motivated colleagues around the world who are ambitious for themselves, for their countries, for our customers and for our company. The result is that where others simply seek distribution, we are building durable businesses at scale. We are also creating large franchises in marketplaces that will grow at a faster pace in the coming years and, increasingly, our businesses are based on direct customer relationships..

We must always be acutely aware of our responsibility to shareholders, and to create real value for them. This is entirely consistent with, and in many case s inseparable from, the enormous social value we have created over the decades. We provide information and entertainment to billions, enabling them to improve their lives and those of their families. There is genuine value in the values of our company -- these are values that are even more important in a world confronting so much today (families and shareholders in the same paragraph, connoting equal responsibility to both and lack of distinction between the two entities) - 'all the world's a plasma screen and all its people shareholders')

We believe in communities. The very idea of community is broad, and encompasses interests that cross national, ethnic and demographic borders. We are all members of many different communities, whether it be of people who are passionate about Hollywood films, or care about living in a healthy environment, or use a local jobs website, or trade commodities in Chicago and London, relish soccer whether in China or Nigeria. These communities are our communities, as they read, evaluate and create everyday

That is why, most of all, I believe in the community that is our company.

Rupert Murdoch

***Note the Obama-like language. Having derided the President during the Race for the White House, Murdoch is now poaching Obama's trademark rhetorical finesse; in effect, turning a business memo into a political blueprint as he launches Operation Go [More] Global. He no longer runs a company but a 'community', blurring the distinction between the two entities: he is attempting to pass off NewsCorp as a society in itself, and a model one at that.
Several important points leap out:
* Firstly, that Murdoch positioned his empire to be ready for the downturn a year before it occurred - obviously, he did not believe it to be expedient to enable other companies to position themselves similarly in readiness; some would call this competition, others shockingly immoral, as tens of thousands have already lost their jobs;
* that he has taken upon himself a supreme moral status in 'improving lives' and 'creating social value' (manufacturing consent). Literally creating social value through the manipulation of the masses, presumably using Edward Bernays's 'Propaganda' as a handbook, in the quest to extend his invincible planet-encircling media stranglehold;
* that attempts to challenge his monopoly of the airwaves and newspapers, not to mention his expansion into music, film, sports and business have been dismissed on the basis that Murdoch is indeed 'improving lives' by 'acting in the public interest';
* that he intends to expand his news empire still further, meaning that potentially 50+% of the planet's news will be uniform;
* as the 'most powerful man in the world' it will certainly be his mission to carry on pushing for global centralization and strenuously opposing individual attempts to cling to nationhood.

The similarity between Murdoch and Frank Capra's character Jim Taylor in "Mr Smith Goes To Washington" is uncanny.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Galvinised Steal

Rather than marrying a millionaire, girls should aspire to becoming a MEP:

How DARE You Try To Kill Yourself, You Swine!

For once, I'm asbo-bloody-lutely speechless.

Goody Goody

Jade 'Go Home Mrs Poppadum' Goody's wedding is turning into such a media circus that the arrival of frenzied clowns and Max Clifford in a fright wig is imminent. The 'Big Brother' 'winner' is tying the knot (two sons in hindsight) today, and is apparently being paid millions for the photographs of the happy event.
In a rare show of candour which, when contrasted with the Front Bench's extraordinary ability to take avoid any kind of truth-telling whatsoever, Goody has stated that she's trying to get the maximum amount of money possible out of the media for her children's futures. We've already been treated to the information that she has a special concealed pocket in her wedding dress for her painkillers and that she's determined to walk down the aisle.
Why should we care? Really? Why is this 'news' dominating the headlines when the US has fired two missiles into Pakistan this week? Though impending Armageddon is unlikely - the most zealous of Islamic fanatics is unlikely to convince his countrymen to turn their entire nation into a smoking ashtray - it merits more discussion than the fact that Tweed left his house dressed in women's underwear (presumably his clinically stupid attempt at humour), or was wearing a blue tracksuit with the number '3' emblazoned on it when he rocked up at the wedding venue.
It is sad that Goody's dying at such a young age. No-one denies that the cutting short of a life is disquieting both for the victim and for the onlooker's perceptions of their own mortality. But beyond that fact, I don't care. I don't see why the taxpayer is having to pay for a police presence at this wedding.
I don't see why someone who is as dumb as a cupboard, who doesn't even know what country Cambridge is in and bawls racist spleen at the top of her lungs, is suddenly receiving condolence messages from Gordon Brown. Is he making cancer care in hospitals a priority? Is he sending personal messages to the families of leukaemia victims who don't happen to be famous  (or indeed to the families of the 1.4 million Iraqis whom he, with his government, have been complicit in murdering)? Did he stand up in Parliament and demand that cancer sufferers be given the best drugs regardless of the cost? 
And why should Goody's appalling boyfriend, who beat up someone with a golf club and managed to evade a prison sentence, be 'let off' to consummate the marriage? Are other prisoners shown such extraordinary leniency? It seems not. Far from being 'tough on the causes of crime' - and Tweed is one of them - the 'Justice' minister has created a dangerous precedent by giving into the wishes of two frankly appalling creatures who have played the sympathy card and won.
Fittingly enough, Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross was seen arriving at the venue along with many other so-called celebrities paying 'tribute' to 'brave Jade'. Tribute to what? To ignorance? To moronic behaviour? To criminality? To bad breeding, worse education and abhorrent values? To an entire lack of morals and ethics? To the dumbing down of the nation in which feral savages like these who, fifty years ago would have been slammed into Borstal and hopefully never see the light of day, are now seen as role models? How many parents would really, honestly turn to their children and say 'when you grow up, I want you to be just like her?' Far be for me to ever advocate press censorship, but I'm all for tabloid muzzling when it comes to making gold out of dross.

Friday, 20 February 2009

On Liberty

The "Labour" establishment has all but destroyed what it means to be British; what it means to be human. They have nearly completed their mission to impose socialism upon every part of a society which is giving way to a state; and a socialist state only works when no people are involved. Socialism is feasible only as an imagined state of being, not consciousness; it is agreeable only when there is no-one there to disagree with it. It fears intelligence, because with intelligence comes dissent, questions, verbosity, verbiage. With intelligence comes ideas, challenges, a re-ordering of the status quo; an end to blind obedience. And here I risk the full retribution of the mob (once my premise has been explained to it) for daring to say that no wonder our country has become so stupid, so Alice Through The Looking Glass; because the Averages Labour support to the exclusion of the intellectuals care nothing for liberty. They cannot think in axiomatic terms: liberty and freedom and justice and truth have no real meaning for them. They can only recognise them by their opposites: that it is "bad" when someone is brutalised or tortured (and often they will led to believe that there is a "good" reason for such brutalizing by the perpetrators when it becomes not quite so bad). They know not that such axioms exist and should be upheld for their own sake as bright, beautiful, shining things that are so precious they are infinitely worthless and entirely priceless.
The mob will take security over liberty always. It will give up what are innate freedoms - not knowing of their existence, let alone of their importance - and allows them to be sold back to its children as 'rights'. It has to be told what to do: being directed makes it feel safe, except when it hears the primal call and must obey its urge to spill blood. It will hand over its body and soul willingly in return for money; a prostitution of flesh and spirit. It upholds a system of government pernicious beyond words, it goes through the inhuman process of celebrating the fact that it chooses its leaders based upon a popularity contest and accepts their total dominance. It considers not that it votes only against failure, not for success. It allows itself to be told what it likes and what it dislikes by those who stand to gain from its mental manipulation. And this, this marching in place, it calls "free". 
No, the mob possesses no reason, nothing of the exquisite or fine: it is dulled and coarse, badly milled, full of chaff. At most, a thread of animal cunning runs through it; but collectively, it is little more than an unruly child which is either beaten into submission and retires sullenly, or bands together with other children and creates anarchy. Its power can be summed up thus: weapons in the hands of grown men with the minds of infants. It pollutes all that it touches, all that epitomises humankind's greatest achievements and separates it from the animals. Show it a Wren masterpiece, show it an Adams staircase that flies like a ribbon through the air, show it Titian and Rembrandt and Dali and Rothko, and it will tear them all down in favour of cheap glittering trash and instant gratification. 
The mob is not only cunning, but resentful. Its slow-moving collective brain sees that others gain wealth and influence and things of beauty; it hides in the dark places, thirsting with greed and hatred, and waits for the day in which it can storm the citadels of learning with envy running through its veins like poison. And I fear not the wrath of the mob who reading this would understand little and care less; I fear more the political masters who would stir up the mob's vengeance and let them run amok. The mob, given liberty, sells it; and those who fight for liberty on the mob's behalf tend to end up dead. The mob would have riven Rousseau and Voltaire limb from limb and sucked the marrow from their bones, yet not ingested one particle of their will-to-liberty; they would have burnt Franklin alive, and laughed savagely as they shredded Paine's 'Rights of Man' before his dying eyes.
The Founding Fathers feared the mob, and justly so; they believed it self-evident that all men had the right to the pursuit of happiness, but not a free-for-all in the way they pursued it; for men may be created equally, but they are not - will never be - equal. Too well did they know what violence may be wreaked by those maddened by hot blood, lust, bloodlust; that in the throes of animal passion no-one and nothing can be distinguished, no justice may be served, no reason employed, no lives saved. And once the baying mob has been subdued it dons its smock once more, hoses the streets clear of blood, has very little clear recollection of its anarchy; it all seems like a dream somehow, something that happened to someone else. And those rulers of men believing that they have tamed the savage beast make grandiose declarations promising a better life, a safer life, a more equal kind of life, a fantasy that exists only until the next time the mob answers the call of the wild. 

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Abu Qatada awarded £2,500 Compensation for Human Rights Infringements

There is little point in dissecting Abu Qatada's character per se: the press has already donned its mantle of smug morality and indulged in the customary attack/counter attack, character assassination and dehumanisation by which it conveniently creates our devils for us. Suffice to say, Qatada is a dangerous man; but so are all those in Parliament dangerous who would seek to detain people indefinitely on the one hand and allow the ECHRA to be enacted on our sovereign soil with the other.
The Human Rights Act is a good idea. So is Utopia. How many, after all, would actively not want others to be happy? Would actively want others to be tortured? Denied safety of home and family and freedom to think? (Well, Labour would rather deny that last 'right', but moving swiftly on...) Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could live in a heaven on earth? Unfortunately, what Marx didn't bargain for when he pushed for the adoption of Communism which, to all intents and purposes, is a secularised form of Christianity as originally conceived in the Gospels, was humanity. Socialism works fine as long as there are no people inconveniently getting in the way of progress and asking questions and trying to get ahead and not wanting to be equal. It tends to break down when people sneer at bad accents and bad table manners and persist, despite socialist governments' desperate efforts, in believing that education should be elitist. The Human Rights Act is perhaps the pinnacle of socialist achievement, and therein lies its fundamental flaw. It only allows people to be grateful for the 'rights' handed out and has no safeguards against abuses.
The UK government in its wisdom adopted this one-size-fits-all-generic-Roman-law-based piece of legislation, overturning a good 1200 years of a fine legal system painstakingly built up on past precedent distinct from that being developed on the Continent. Rather than helping victims of crimes - something the English legal system used to be rather good at - the legislature has been forced to find on behalf of the criminals, rather than the victims. It's rather like rewarding the architects of the financial crisis for their destruction; in Abu Qatada's case, we are paying him because after holding him for too long without trial we now want to extradite him to a country where he might be tortured on the basis that he attempted to incite mass slaughter in Britain. 
And other, similarly shocking abuses have been perpetrated against  the victims of crimes solely because of the HRA. Recall, for example, the case of the woman who was raped by a violent African immigrant who'd spent most of his time in the UK in prison; the judge refused to deport him to his home country because he would be too unaccustomed to the culture (one wonders how much of the UK he can learn from a jail cell). So he's cooling his heels at Her Majesty's leisure; and the rape victim's taxes are going towards his upkeep. She is having to pay for her attacker to have three square meals a day and free dental treatment. And, given the economic climate, it is possible that she has lost her job whilst the thug who brutalised her is enjoying far greater security: he doesn't have to worry about bill-paying. She and the rest of Britain are paying the bills for him, just as they are paying the bills of the repulsive thugs who kicked Gary Newlove to death - and then appealed for reduced prison sentences on the basis of their 'human rights'.
I am often conscious of a slightly giddy, panicked sensation as though I've stepped through the Looking Glass: everything is back-to-front. Bankers take bonuses from the taxpayer. Starbucks says 'sorry' to Mandelson for telling the truth. Clarkson is condemned for making an observation. Heroin dealers are allowed to carry on dealing, whilst those who challenge them are thrown in jail. Benefits cheats go to jail, and Jacqui Smith keeps on raking in the allowances. Speaking about religion in the public sector is a sacking offence, Geert Wilders is banned, but marches supporting Hamas in Gaza are supported and anti-Semitic plays attract large audiences. The intellectuals are in a war with the averages and the averages are winning. And Abu Qatada, now in the UK indefinitely, is paid £2,500 for indignities against his person in a country that proposes to ostracise Muslim clerics who shun the Western way of life. Is there no end to the insanity?

Radical? More Like a Fart in a Thunderstorm

I just despair. ConservativeHome (I'm not sure why I still read it, unless it's to torture myself) is fĂȘting David Cameron as a radical because he wants to decentralise government, copy the Swedish school system and is being 'bold' enough to encourage marriage rather than shacking up. I enquired the following:
"How about radically pedalling back the database state? Removing the majority of CCTV cameras which make us the most watched nation on earth - to the extent that China is using US as their surveillance model? Throwing out any hint of the NIR? Destroying DNA retained from innocent citizens? Destroying the ContactPoint database, CAF and all it implies? Ripping apart RIPA? Making people's medical records inaccessible to 300,000+ civil servants? By not automatically tracking each and every car? Throwing out Section 8 Cl. 152 of the Justice Bill and all clauses like it? Preventing liberty-eroding measures being implemented through Statutory Instrument rather than Parliamentary scrutiny? A referendum on the Lisbon treaty? Demanding a full enquiry into Labour's dealings with the CIA re Guantanamo in particular and Special Rendition in general? Investigating ACPO; preventing a private for-profit company to carry out police work? Making MPs' expenses more accessible? A full enquiry into the Iraq war? A return to freedom of speech; a destruction of the proposed legislation that will make it illegal for civil servants to even mention religion? These would be radical measures indeed."
Needless to say, said questions went unanswered; instead, more discussions by smug, fairly affluent, fairly average types about the 'right' thing to do to 'get people back to work'. i.e. raising the tax threshold. Would the entire nation pull its finger out if tax were capped at 4%, one wonders?

Starbucks Apologises for Telling the Truth

I wonder if whatever wasp buzzing round Dolly's unthink-box has abandoned its host for a meatier victim: Mandelson seems to have boiled his onion, frittered his wig and buttered his Cholmondley over Schultz of Starbuck's comment that the UK economy is spiralling (which it is). For having dared to state "Unemployment, the subprime mortgage crisis specifically in the UK, and I think consumer confidence in the UK is very, very poor," Schultz was four-lettered by a foul-mouthed, foaming 'Business' - what is he? Secretary or Expert? I forget - 'person' who then went on to demand: 'how the hell are [Starbucks] doing?'
Then, as a final piece of jaw-dropping insanity, he asserted: "The UK is not spiralling, although I have noticed that Starbucks is in a great deal of trouble. But that may be because of their overexposure given the state of the market. So please do not project Starbucks on to the UK economy as a whole."
It seems that Mandelson's moved on from a low-grade factitious disorder to full-blown Munchausen's, the same illness that's afflicting the entire Front Bench. One wonders if Mandelson's going to be spending a lot of 'time with his family' as Brown's ship sinks with only one hand on board - the captain.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

The Party Line

Hypocrisy is the dominant characteristic of the Labour party; everything is being done to us for our own good despite all evidence to the contrary, and the more it hurts, the better it is for us. But the worst of it is that they get us to do their dirty work for them; to conspire against ourselves, and we fall for it. Regularly. I'm speaking of democracy.
Ah, democracy, democracy, democracy... the breakfast of champions, the tea-time of the gods; the most equitable system in the world, the only one that is regularly reviled but clung to because 'they' claim that any other kind of politics is a damn' sight worse. Sweet democracy, brought to you by Tony Blair as part of the 'globalisation, let's follow American neo-colonial neo-conservative policies at home and abroad and aggressively sell or bomb people into submitting to our way of life'. Such is democracy, that gives everyone an 'equal' say because they are all 'equal' because they are all 'diverse' because they are all the 'same' because they are all 'different'. Wonderful democracy, allowing women and idiots to have the vote just like the men. Aren't we just peachy lucky to be living in the UK?
The government doesn't have to trumpet about democracy - or what they say passes for democracy - too much these days, because everyone else in the country, be they a WI matron or a leftie student activist, bellows about the sanctity of the democratic system on their behalf. Having only lived under 'democracy' for twelve years, they're unable to recognise it for its true self: totalitarianism. A system whereby the state intrudes into every corner of private and public life. And, what's more, people are enthusiastically taking on Campbell and Mandelson's jobs for them: thinking it's in 'our' 'best' interests to tear down the Lords, and make it a criminal offence to mention religion, and supporting ID cards and state ownership of banks. It doesn't matter what side they vote on: they're still participating in a socialist agenda. Lenin would be proud, Beria more so. One suspects that Gordon Brown's been using the latter's address on the triumph of psychopolitics as a study guide:
"The optimum obedience is unthinking obedience. The command given must be obeyed without any rationalizing on the part of the subject. The command must, therefore, be implanted below the thinking processes of the subject to be influenced, and must react upon him in such a way as to produce no mental alertness on his part."
And so socialism is capitulated as liberalism, liberalism is capitulated as democracy, and everyone ends up living according to the same agenda: a dumbed down, flatline, anodyne, anti-vital illusion. As Beria goes on to say: "If you would have obedience you must have no compromise with humanity. If you would have obedience you must make it clearly understood that you have no mercy. Man is an animal. He understands, in the final analysis, only those things that a brute understands."

Spy Chief's Trying To Stir Up Trouble, Trumpets McNulty

Tony McNulty claims Stella Rimington's assertion that we're heading towards - if not already in - a police state is 'abject nonsense' which is 'playing into the hands of our enemies'.
Hmmm. He would say that, wouldn't he, being that he's been instrumental in creating the police state in the first place, as a cursory look at his voting record shows: 

Voted very strongly against a transparent Parliament
Voted moderately for introducing a smoking ban
Voted strongly for introducing ID cards
Voted very strongly for Labour's anti-terrorism laws
Voted very strongly for the Iraq war
Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war

So, in other words, he's against making Parliament accountable, for an illegal war, against an investigation into the illegal war, and pro tagging the population as if they were a herd of bloody cattle and throwing them in the clink without charge. And we're supposed to accept what he says instead of the sage (albeit tardy) counsel of arguably one of the most intellectually able - Head of Intelligence - women in the country.

(He also voted strongly for the hunting ban and for introducing student top-up fees. Sewer.)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Dolly Draper's Brainfart, 'Downfall' Style

Bloody genius.

Injustice atop Injustice atop Injustice...

When one has M.E., as I do, and spends an awful lot of time in bed (being unable to move easily) feeling rotten and in pain, one is afforded ample opportunities to think about all the nonsenses being perpetrated in our name. How did we let it happen, we ask: surely, we couldn't have sleepwalked into a totalitarian state which uses 1984 as an operating manual? But then I went over to the ConservativeHome website to see what they're up to and realised that there are an awful lot of smug, sanctimonious, righteous and above all ill-informed people in the world who, possessing the inevitable limitations of those brought up under NuLab (i.e. the inability to reason from cause to effect, to use any logic whatsoever, and to revise history when they feel like it) simply can't be argued with.
On ConHome there were, for once, several articles not about finances but the erosion of everything useful in our culture, like apostrophes and religious freedom. Reading through the latter, I again found that worrying tendency to dismiss libertarianism as a selfish 'do whatever you want' ideology, and that governments must make sure that they act in the best interests of all their citizens. In other words, utilitarianism: the greatest good for the greatest number, in a state where the government determines what the good is. If you consider that this government does - and this is the frightening thing - believe that it is acting in our interests, based upon the principle of utility, then it becomes overwhelmingly clear just how we ended up in this nightmare, where no-one is 'allowed' to say or do or even think anything without being watched and either reprimanded or ignored.
The baby-faced baby who's just had a baby, little Alfie, is a case in point. He not only doesn't understand finance, he doesn't even know the word: but why should he, when the government's prepared to shore up anyone who has their hand out for welfare (and then penalises the only deserving cases out there: but more of that at another time)? Get knocked up, get a house: and both Labour and Conservative have been so weak when it comes to providing a response (IDS even said something along the lines of 'not to be judgmental': if everyone's 'equal and 'just the same' it's unforgivable to judge) that I imagine hundreds are going to emulate the ghastly duo and pop out a sprog of their own in the hope of attracting large newspaper payouts and having Max Clifford as their publicist. 
Then, in a breathtaking display of hypocrisy, the government's banned Geert Wilders from entering the UK because his film 'may' trigger some kind of reaction; in effect, that's the same as saying something's going to happen tomorrow. I 'may' get hit by a bus or join a Moonie cult: then again, I may not. There is a little thing called free will the existence of which is being denied here; the idea that people are incapable of distinguishing between radical Islam of the Hamas type (their charter makes interesting reading) and their next-door neighbours. Now, I found the Fitna film upsetting, because it was meant to be upsetting: but Wilders was correct when he said that he wasn't really responsible for it. The people pushing the idea that all Jews are apes to three year old kids or saying that gays should die or exploding themselves on trains did it for him. It's an unpalatable view of Islam, but any kind of extremism or radicalism is unpalatable. And you can't begin to fight against something properly unless you understand it.
I think the worst dichotomy facing us from a 'multicultural' standpoint is that we are at war with a group of people the ideologies of which we condemned to the extent that we went off to bomb the hell out of them, and on the other hand live in a country where it's illegal not to accept the Other. And people who don't who hold public offices are forced to be 're-educated' (gulags, anyone), such as the firemen who didn't want to participate in handing out leaflets about discrimination against gays. Why should they? It wasn't their job, and they weren't gay after all. They have a distinct and very important role - to put out fires: not to become spokesmen for political issues. Everyone is effectively being turned into a PR officer for so-called minorities. But it is often not the minorities - which, up until last year, included women, half the human race - who take on a victim mentality. It is the narcissistic and insecure socialists who attach this tag to minorities and then go out fighting on their behalf to get them 'equal' 'treatment', thus denying them the dignity of difference. 
The very fact of Britain being at war means that the government has to discriminate completely against negative views of Islam because, after all, we're trying to prove that our society is so much better to live in than that of Iraq and Afghanistan that we've just razed to the ground. And thus the battle against libertarianism in particular and liberty in general becomes all the more heated, because if people were allowed to exercise their free will they'd have none of this hypocritical, morally detestable, double standard imposed by the Left on our collective consciousness. Alas, to undo it, one would have to resort to their tactics and re-educate the masses to put an end to the willing slavery they exist in, which is taught to them in their cradle and shapes their entire lives. Every generation is about twenty years too late to guarantee the total liberty of the next.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Leave Them Kids Alone (For the Second TIme)

This is the letter I have just written to my local MP, David Howarth (a very decent chap who actually gives a damn about civil liberties) re the ContactPoint database and the CAF. If this goes through, there is no point in having children; one won't be able to raise them as one sees fit, unless one emigrates.

I am writing to you today because I am extremely concerned about the implications of the CAF relating to the 'Every Child Matters' initiative. This initiative has implemented largely via the passing of Statutory Instruments rather than receiving due scrutiny in Parliament and, I fear, has grave implications for the future of our youth on two fronts: the first being that it is so invasive that it seeks to learn every aspect of a child's (note: both born and unborn) existence, and that in developing such an unrealistic spectrum of criteria which parents must undertake to fulfill, said parents may be subject to draconian measurements of punishment or even forfeit the right to raise their children entirely.
It is, for example, both unnecessary and unrealistic, as part of the criteria for 'Emotional and Social Development', to investigate parental efficiency on the basis of whether a child possesses certain (unqualified) 'fears'. It is sinister in the extreme, in an age in which psychotropic drugs - once used exclusively in the treatment of schizophrenia and manic depression - are prescribed for general malaise or so-called Attention Deficit Disorder, to claim that a child which exhibits 'anti-social' behaviour is in need of assessment. As what qualifies anti-social behaviour is unclear, one could surmise that losing one's temper, refusing to take part in certain activities on personal or moral grounds, or questioning authority may all be subject to censure. If a child were to challenge a teacher's version of historical events, having been taught otherwise by its parents, would it be diagnosed with some form of mental or emotional illness?
Similarly, the section entitled 'When to Expect Child Maltreatment' lists 'clinginess', 'refusal to take prescribed medicines' and 'temper tantrums' as 'inappropriate behaviour'. Any parent of a two- or three-year-old knows well that a child developing self-awareness will attempt strenuously to test boundaries and exhibit, often, the most appalling behaviour; older children are prone to obnoxious behaviour too. Such is life. The idea that parents may be accused of child abuse in this context is absurd; and the implication that any child displaying other than 'normal' (anodyne?) behaviour should be viewed with suspicion is a gross abuse of basic human rights, for it suggests that only total obedience will be tolerated.
Removing itself from the 'group' and failing to take upon what the government deems to be proper 'motivations' in effect denotes that the child is abnormal. If it does not involve itself in 'imaginative play' it is similarly deemed a failure. And, if its parents fail to achieve the recommended (rather ambitious, given the current financial crisis: an average of £270 per week after rents and rates) economic well-being standard, then they are deemed to be abusing the child through causing it to live in straitened circumstances.
The ContactPoint database will be available to far too many individuals to ever safeguard children's information effectively - presuming, in the first place, that such information ever needs to be taken. This level of intrusion represents the expansion of the Welfare State on such a colossal scale that it would not be unrealistic to define it as 'totalitarian': literally, that which regulates every conceivable area of private and public life. It prevents parents from using their own initiative to bring up and educate their children independently, and to use their own judgment in order to ensure a happy life for their offspring; it renders normal behaviour abnormal and creates a precedent for making humiliating, unnecessary interference in family life the norm.

The Devil's In The Detail

Though you wouldn't believe it from our jingoistic, gung-ho media (for those that own the various media groups also happen to be involved in everything from arms manufacturing to supplying bodyguards, electricity and housing) Iran isn't creating the bomb.

This should have been fairly evident when one intellectual midget, desperate to find the case for Middle-East Armageddon, claimed Iran was synthesizing nuclear weaponry from both uranium and plutonium.

One wonders whether our news channels will deign to report this latest intelligence, or whether they'll continue to trot out their teams of 'experts' to refute the idea that not everyone wants to engage in endless, devastating, costly, bloody battles along the lines of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

The Stasi Handbook

I found this quoted in Paul Theroux's The Kingdom By The Sea; an anonymous poem written on a bus shelter wall.

'Now it is 1984
Knock-knock at your front door
It's the suede denim secret police
They have come for your uncool niece
Come quickly to the camp
You'll look nice as a drawstring lamp
Don't worry - it's only a shower
For your clothes - here's a pretty flower

DIE on organic poison gas
Serpent's egg already hatched
You will croak you little clown
When you mess with President Brown!

It's Damn' Hard To Be Moral

A favourite argument against libertarianism in general and libertarians in particular is that they lack responsibility and act only to gratify their own wishes; a 'to hell with all the rest of you' attitude. Such selfishness is held up by the socialist left as a - nay, the - reason why society can't be left to its own devices; those who by virtue of mental impairment or poor upbringing or impoverished circumstances would be further disadvantaged, preyed upon by the stronger elements within society. Those who oppose libertarianism envisage a 'night-watchman state' as a throwback to the Georgian era, in which a quarter of all women in London were thrust into prostitution, children abused, education denied to the poorer classes and safeguards existing only for those who could afford them. It is a grisly image, thronged with the twisted bodies of emaciated youths cowering at the sides of their tattered, gin-ravaged parents; one in which the clogged gutters lie thick with ordure, and rats gnaw at the bodies of dead cats, and the delicate elbow-length gloves adorning society misses are stitched by the light of a single candle, high in a rotten-roofed garret, by a consumptive girl whose handkerchief is stained with blossoms of blood. The soul instinctively recoils from such an existence; and the socialists, casting themselves in the light of benign caregivers, hold up their communist manifestos and say 'aren't you lucky to be living in a world in which we provide for your comfort and safety and anticipate your every need?'
   No. To understand our needs we must be free. If others have determined what our needs are, we have been denied that which fundamentally separates us from the animal kingdom: the power to reason. Without reason, the State can own us, as anyone can own anything that follows blindly. Libertarianism is that unique social ideal that states that only the individual may possess themselves: literally, 'self-possession'. And, in possessing the self, they may do whatsoever they wish with it as long as - and this is a fundamental and essential caveat - they do not injure others. Libertarianism takes upon itself more truly than any other system the 'do unto others' motif. Rather than being the hotbed of drugs and promiscuous vice that so many would wish to portray it as, liberty as conceived by libertarians comes with a heavy price tag. For to be moral not because the State says so but because the basis of one's convictions rests on the belief that each and every person has the innate right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness is surprisingly difficult.
   Let us examine, for instance, the charge that all libertarians are interested in is legalising drugs. Now, consider whether it is better not to take drugs because the State says so, or because one has worked logically through all the ramifications of drug-taking. One must consider the effect that drug-taking has upon their own finances, upon their family, upon their health and upon their psyche. They must consider what acts they may perform, based upon the experiences of other drug users, when under the influence of certain narcotics and whether they may endanger another's liberty or property. They must consider whether they will be able to hold down their job; what the effect may have upon their friendships; whether it will put a strain upon their family; whether, if they are a parent, they wish their children to witness them in a state of artificially induced euphoria; what will happen in a financial context if they decide to rid themselves of an addiction; how and when they can go into society when using drugs or quitting them; and whether their health or sanity may be irreparably damaged through either one time or long term exposure to their narcotic of choice. Now, if they have carefully and logically assessed all the factors involved in drug-taking and decide that it is not worth the risk, they should be able to make that decision; similarly, if they believe that they are responsible enough an individual to be able to adequately handle the consequences, they should be able to make that decision also. 
   Drug-taking is merely one example. There are hundreds of others; hundreds of other little denied opportunities that we never consider. For we have become morally lazy and ethically inept. If a State puts everything into place for us, and legislates for every manifestation of human behaviour, there is little for us to consider except that such and such is 'not allowed'. We are obediently, meekly herded like sheep, surrounded by warning notices at every stage, told that we must think like this or aspire to that or act in such a way as to make us 'good' citizens. But one cannot be 'good' if one has not the freedom to decide upon what goodness entails. And it is no accident that those living in over-developed and over-intrusive states have the highest levels of depression, alcoholism, violence and suicide. Being forced into artificially constructed 'normal' behaviour is, essentially, insane. As Eric Fromm has it, 'Mental health is characterized by the ability to love and create, by the emergence from incestuous ties to clan and soil, by a sense of identity based on one's experience of self as the subject and agent of one's powers, by the grasp of reality inside and outside of ourselves, that is, by the development of objectivity and reason.'

Friday, 13 February 2009

Christ on a Tricycle, they've Done It This Time

According to 'scientists' conducting 'analysis' women who don't breastfeed are more likely to abuse their children:

Someone paid serious money to commission this report and remunerated the fatheads willing to cooperate with it.

This at a time when hundreds of thousands of people are losing their jobs, being crushed by the burden of totalitarianism and starving around the world.

I'm off to invest in several bolts of piano wire. Get those lampposts primed and ready.

Stupid and stupiderer

So we learn that Alfie and Chantelle, very VERY young parents, have brought young Maisie into the world. Alfie's not going to be prosecuted for getting his girlfriend knocked up - well, none of the other teenagers regularly partaking in underage sex get put in the slammer - and thinks he's going to make a good father, though he's not sure how his infrequent £10 handouts are going to go towards the upkeep of the nipper. Four foot Alfie's own dad is proud of his son: ' "He could have shrugged his shoulders and sat at home on his PlayStation. But he has been at the hospital every day," he announced.

Yesterday I went to eight different outlets to find a Daily Telegraph but shock, horror and rage: there were none, so I had to buy the Independent instead. A novel experience. There was a good (albeit longwinded) piece on 'Political Correctness': very timely since Harry has to go through the indignity of attending an 'Equality and Diversity' course (whatever the hell that means: equality reduces individuality to an amorphous mass, which can hardly be called diverse), Geert Wilders is being barred from the UK presumably because that be-suited monster, 'Lord' Ahmed threatens to storm the hallowed portals of the HofL with a thousand Muslims to if he entered (despite having hosted a book launch for the antisemitic Israel Shamir), and a school receptionist has been threatened with the sack because she intervened when her daughter was told off for raising theological issues during a lesson. Even the tone in which someone says something is up for censure: Jeremy Clarkson pointed out that Gordon Brown is a one-eyed Scottish idiot, and so he is: he has one eye, is Scottish, and an idiot. Clarkson spoke only the truth, but out rushed the BBC, Labour's propaganda machine, and demanded an apology on the behalf of outraged Scots and the blind.
What the hell is happening here? You can disagree with everything these people stand for - or agree with it; but the only way to formulate opinions and strong, deeply held beliefs and convictions, to be truly distinguished from the animal kingdom, is to be exposed to every argument. To strangle debate or the ability to speak freely is to deny us our humanity. A state that believes that it is its mission to censor, to dictate what may or may not be said, that thinks politics is the only arena in which correctness may be found, is a repressive and totalitarian one.

And still the harrowing news continues to pour in. Meddlesome social workers took away three children on the suspicion of child abuse only to find three years later that the child's injuries were due to its physical condition; but the parents don't get their children back. Ever. Full stop. We can have absolute outrages like Baby P, in which a child is not taken away from its abusers, or the poor little girl who developed such a fear of dentists that she stopped eating and the medical profession didn't notice until she actually died, or grandparents robbed of their grandchildren who are adopted by a gay couple entirely against the grandparents' wishes - but still, no-one ever, ever takes responsibility. In fact, the only ones who have indicated a sense of contrition for their actions - albeit scripted - are the bankers who set the economy plummeting.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Unamused Musings

So, not much happened yesterday. Jacqui Smith isn't going to investigated for benefit fraud. Dodgy Labour Lords have gotten off scot free. Ed Balls' depressing speech about the Depression was largely ignored, as incisive commentators all over the blogsphere predicted. Bank chiefs said 'sorry' but held on to their bonuses - questions about which were shockingly inadequate, and the opportunity to slam Brown's economic bungling overlooked.
All in all, rather dull, really; just like our society. We're not in a state of change, but flux. The great leveller of socialism which insists that everyone is exactly the same, with the same abilities and opportunities and advantages, has led to the greatest number defining what it sees the greatest good - without the nous to consider, logically, what 'good' is. In effect, it's the war of averages against the intelligentsia, and the averages are winning on the basis of numbers.
'They' equate 'good' with a want (namely, what 'they' want), and the hell with all the rest of us. But, then again, that is our greatest fallacy; when thinking of the human condition, to consider it on level of intelligence of whatever ours happens to be. In a mob rule situation, however, a lack of imagination characterises decision-making. In fact, imagination is feared and despised, and 'intelligence' is similarly frowned upon, except in the context of spying on our neighbours and ourselves. And the government plays numerous games with this mindset: it tells the mob what it wants them to hear (be it pleasant or unpleasant) in language it understands, and ignores entirely any dissent from the minority.
Which means that we have to fight all the harder. To give in to the apathetic diktats of the averages is to deny life. I, for one, am proud to stand up and say that 'I am not the same as everyone else. And they are not 'just like me'. I uphold my right to be as similar or different to the crowd. My beliefs shall not be shaped for me but by me.' Sometimes it is that little lone voice that changes the path of history.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Rats, sinking ships...

Brown's 'closest ally' (not any longer), Ed Balls, said the economic problems we've been having, far from having been sorted by the self-proclaimed messiah, are in fact "the most serious global recession for over 100 years", and its effects would be felt for 'the next five years, the next ten years and even the next fifteen years.' Balls predicts that 'the economy is going to define our politics' - since when were our politics defined by anything else?
"These are seismic events that are going to change the political landscape,' he continued. 'I think this is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s and we all remember how the politics of that era were shaped by the economy."
Far Right extremism, anyone? Well, not if you're sensible and listen to the people so that they feel as though they matter, rather than being driven into the arms of those who promise them a better kind of life in return for their vote. Labour's continuing jack-booting over the civil liberties of the British people isn't - literally - winning Brown *any* votes. Coming down on us harder is only going to cause rioting, the last thing the majority of us want.
In a further smack to Gordon Brown and his unctuous predecessor, Balls went on to trash the Third Way and everything it stands for. "We are now seeing the realities of globalisation, though at a speed, paces and ferocity which none of us have seen before. The reality is that this is becoming the most serious global recession for, I'm sure, over 100 years as it will turn out."
If Cameron et al don't lunge on this with all the ferocity of a half-starved tiger tomorrow morning and force a vote of No Confidence, they bloody deserve to lose the next election.

When was the last time that you...

Had a smear test? An HIV test? Have you ever had surgery? What kind? Are you a masochist? A sadist? Have you ever taken drugs? What kind? How much do you drink? Just a few examples of the questions that private health insurers are going to be asking your GP all about - you've guessed it - little old you, whether you've given consent or not.
A while ago I filled out a long consultation questionnaire on this very matter, indicating my extreme displeasure at the idea that my sealed medical records may be accessed and 'anonymised' for research and 'other' relevant purposes. My medical history belongs to me. It is entirely private. There exists between the doctor and patient an almost Confession-like seal of secrecy. And now, if it were not bad enough that upwards of 300,000 petty bureaucrats can have a poke through your records on the NHS spine, the private sector wants to get in on the action too.
I think it's about time that we stopped using statistician speak and bring home to people what's really going on. If we persist in using phrases like 'data' rather than 'personal information' (or indeed, 'my business'), 'randomised', 'anonymised' etcetera, we are in effect isolating ourselves by using impersonal, generic, one size fits all terms by which to describe ourselves. In effect, it is a very clever way to divorce us from reality and permit all kinds of abuses to be carried out by the State.

Jacqui Smith, presumably to take the heat off herself re her recent benefit claims, has confirmed that she now intends to persecute South Africans with vigorous and intrusive visa requirements in that most lucrative of all industries - the 'war on terror'. Apparently, these unattractive measures will also curb illegal immigration. Well, forgive me if I'm wrong but I thought South Africa was pretty much last on the list of illegals? And do we not have more to worry about with an ever-more impoverished Europe on our doorstep with the damnable EU insisting that anyone in Fortress Europe has the right to work anywhere? Phil Woolas was, predictably, in full bulldog mode: 'we said we were going to get tough and we meant it,' he barked. Problem is, this government's made Britain so unappealing that it's unlikely people will want to live here - I foresee a mass exodus in the near future. Still, at £65 a pop for a new 'fingerprint' visa, the Treasury's likely to recoup at least 0.01% of what it wasted on the VAT cut.

Eat Your Heart Out, Marie

Mara's just sorry that the Conservatives didn't use it for their ad campain. The nation needs a larf.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Exquisite Anti-Libel Party Fun

Nutt by name, Nutt by nature

So, in an attempt to spend more valuable research money on something really useful rather than fighting against AIDS, the head of the Medical Advisory Council has declared that horse-riding is no more or less dangerous than taking Ecstasy. Moreover, kids are no longer horse mad: they suffer from Equine Addiction Syndrome. 'Equasy', the Professor coyly calls it, leads 'users' to indulge in dangerous and harmful behaviour and encourages others, when meeting en masse at, well, a Meet, to engage in violence.(What does he have to say about 18-rated video games?) Apparently, you should seriously consider your risky behaviour every time you mount Dobbin. I think Nutt's behaviour, on the basis of creating such an absurd disorder and then asking the Medical Profession to take it seriously, should be assessed; having been subjected to numerous psychological evaluations he should be fired and a credible alternative appointed to his prestigious position. Honestly.

Is the Torygraph turning into a tabloid, we wonder? I find it more than irksome to see Jennifer Aniston goggling up at me next to actual news; and the intelligence that hormones cause a kissing 'suge' doesn't interest me over much either. Jacqui Smith's latest row, however, does. It seems that her royal frightfulness has claimed over £116 grand for a second home despite the fact that she'd been living with her sister.
If a benefit claimant gets overpaid by a £1000, s/he is hauled in front of magistrates and makes the front of the local rag. If Jacqui Smith does it, a spokesperson vigorously defends her 'honesty' on her behalf. What a country.

Friday, 6 February 2009

ID Card Scanners Available on EBay

No Brainers

Speaking of intelligence sharing, can someone send some Ed Balls' way? Our 'let's take it all apart and put it back together in the manner of lego or a laboratory experiment' Education (hah!) minister has floated the idea that, er, sixteen year olds should, um, be hired to teach fourteen year olds in school. ('Ums' and 'ers' inserted whilst I roll around shrieking with laughter.) Laudably, critics of the scheme refrained from calling Balls an insufferable little tit and instead suggested that it might not be the best idea, in a nation which suffers from a serious discipline problem, to introduce child teachers in schools. Not until they've got an adequate supply of full body armour and Mace, that is.

Brown's getting shafted from all sides at present: Jeremy Clarkson referred to Brown as a one-eyed pillock (troglodyte would have been better, surely? Well, caused less offence to the RNIB, at least. But would anyone understand the classical reference?), Sarkozy's blaming him for ruining the world economy, and Blair oiled into Washington before he did. -Note the picture of Michelle Obama, clamped firmly in the former UK President's grasp, as his grisly lips narrow in on her firmly-clenched jaw; the lady must have a lot of steel to be able to withstand such an onslaught. 
Perhaps he should go and work for the BBC? It must be the only place left that resolutely pushes the party line and defends the likes of the histrionic Christian Bale in full Dolls House-smashing mode and the utterly obnoxious grandfather-baiting Jonathan Ross, whilst kicking out Carol Thatcher for a cultural gaffe made in a Green Room.

Miliband Told 'You Use It, You Lose It' by our Special Friends

During the first Gulf War, the famed QC Geoffrey Robertson acted on behalf of the families of nine British soldiers who died as a result of US friendly fire. Then, as now, the US was extraordinarily chary of allowing any information it deemed sensitive into the public arena; then, as now, the British government and American administration say that is essential in the interests of protecting 'national security' to maintain a thick veil of secrecy. And then, as now, the 'special relationship' was threatened by entirely laudable attempts to get to the heart of the matter so that an accurate judgment could be returned.
In the end, the Coroner returned a judgment of Unlawful Killing. In a civilian context, those responsible would have served life sentences for more than criminal negligence. In a military context, however, the mere fact of war seemed to have arbitrarily suspended human rights, the rule of law and due process.
All of which will offer scant comfort to Binyam Mohammed, a young man held in Guantanamo on the suspicion of terrorism and allegedly subjected to appalling torture, including sensory deprivation and overload and lasting physical damage. Britain has claimed over and over again - despite growing evidence to the contrary, including those infamous rendition flights - that it condemns the existence of facilities such as Guantanamo and Abu Gharib. The judges asked to hear Binyam Mohammed's case are understandably furious about another nation's presumption that it can suppress our judicial process with the full cooperation of our government:
"We did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials... relevant to allegations of torture and cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, politically embarrassing though it may be."
Binyam Mohammed may very well be guilty of involvement with terrorist elements; he may have considered or begun to participate actively in the plotting of extremist attacks. If that is the case, he should receive the maximum penalty that the law allows: no one individual, collective or group has the right to cause others to live in a state of perpetual fear and terror. But in order for our judiciary to determine the breadth and extent of his purported crimes - for he has not had a fair and open trial - it must know why and how he was arrested, and whether this intelligence is reliable. And this is information that America doesn't want to give, a reticence that Milliband supports fully: or they 'simply won't share information with us in future', he offers as an explanation.
Perhaps we ought not to be surprised: our government seems all too willing to sacrifice every point of national interest for the sake of winning a world-wide popularity contest. Lisbon Treaty? Yes, please! ECHRA? Sounds good: would you like the Magna Carta in exchange? Iraq War? Of course: it's the moral thing to do! China? Well, shame on your for your human rights record but really, it's more important that we sort out our finances and leave the knotty question of the 'masses' for another day. Britain seems prepared to do whatever it takes - including excusing, if not actively colluding the torture of its own citizens by that of its best friend - to be liked by all the other big boys.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Reap What You Sow

Though I'm struggling with a migraine today and doped up with codeine, I still managed (just) to get the gist of the dreadful Mary Riddell's article in the Telegraph about the wildcat strikes. The headline gives it away, really: '"British jobs for British workers" is the cry of our worst instincts"', she claims. Well, no: 'out with foreign scum' or 'go home, (insert racist slur here)' would be the cry of our worst instincts. Playing the xenophobia card is a cheap trick by Mandelson et al, to defend the EU system of law that runs contra to our own, denies our own rule of law, our own sovereignty, and for which no-one in the country was permitted to vote.

It is not xenophobic to look after your country's interests first. If there are people who have been laid off or who are already unemployed who can do a job in a local area, they should have first dibs. They shouldn't be expected to schlep off to the local JobCentre Plus to be asked what they are doing to find work, when a firm chooses to ship over hundreds of workers rather than hire people on the doorstep. Nor should the taxpayer be expected to pay for Brits to sit by idly whilst EU workers are brought in to do these jobs; they're already paying through the nose to shore up other EU countries' financial shortfalls as it is. They're paying Child Benefit for EU workers in Britain and they're paying JSA for EU nationals who settled in Britain, legitimately got a job and are now unemployed. Rather than ensuring those two groups get jobs, then, they're claiming that it is perfectly legitimate to bring in yet more workers whilst the unemployed sit at home.

Unlike the rest of Europe, British kids aren't taught two or three second languages: this government thought it would be a good idea to phase them out. 70% of Europe speaks English as a second language. This gives them a transferrable skill which the majority of state-school-educated Brits are lacking. Mainland Europe doesn't make it a priority to hire Brits; Britain makes it a priority to hire anyone from a 'minority'. (Which includes sexual orientation.) The government claims that it is all for giving opportunities to those it perceives as socially disadvantaged - but then condemns strike action as illegal under EU law. It states that it doesn't want to revert to 'protectionism'; protecting the rights of your home labour force isn't the same as protectionism, however, as anyone who's read the Idiot's Guide to Economics can tell you. 

The government finally and grudgingly backed down on the strike action because it was afraid that the BNP would gain in strength and popularity. But I would argue that the BNP only began to gain strength significantly after the government consistently ignored the plea of the strikers - that they would be considered first for jobs in their area - and told them to bugger off and stop behaving like children. Labour is not only breaking its fundamental reason for existence - to protect the rights of the working man - but creating an ever-greater rift in communities by appearing to favour those from outside the country rather than those native to it. Brown's call for 'unity' from the 'British' people during these 'troublesome economic times' seems downright hypocritical and pretty disgusting in consequence.

No discrimination on the basis of age, faith, orientation or gender? No, only on nationality.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Idiots of the Universe

The title of Eugene Robinson's Washington Post article speaks for itself. I'm actually lost for words (for once)...
Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat -Ralph Ellison