Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Go Home

How inappropriate that the representative of a Scottish constituency who has no say in the education provided to his constituents is setting out standards for, and condemning, the education provided in England, where he represents no-one at all. And calling for interference by the state in the provision of apprenticeships in other people's companies.

The Leader, and everything he stands for, belongs in the past and in another country.

Government and its Funding

The Labour party is not a political party in the same sense as are the pluralist democratic parties in the UK and other European countries. It has highly formalized sectionalised structures each with an agenda and power hierarchies to which other party members have no access as party members. The most important of these separate structures is the trades unions and their power elite and agenda. This has formal and important ties, too, into an international trade union socialist movement that in no way responds to the interests and concerns of the UK electorate and UK interests.

Repeated attempts to recast the Labour party into a centre left party representing the social concerns, economic beliefs and limited state interventionism in their support views, of other centre left parties in advanced capitalist societies have been wrecked on the rock of the organised trade union interest.

Constituency Labour Parties, the mass party individual membership, are extremely vulnerable to affiliated groupings, such as co-operative movement and union memberships acting together against any deviation from the line adopted by the Executive, unions and their various sidekicks.

Any access to policy-making, or capacity to command answerability to the mass party by the Labour Executive, has now been completely closed down; indeed this week’s non-election, widely attributed to the Leader taking fright at the adverse opinion polls in marginal seats, was more the result of a threatened election being used to discipline the last Labour party Conference into abject acceptance of all and any policies from the leadership, “we are looking down the barrel of a general election... in the spirit of Party unity you must accept this policy and not push for divisive debate and votes..”, rather than any intention ever of throwing away three further years of power seized undemocratically from the last elected government.

The mass electorate that votes for the centre left both from interest, and from political and moral conviction, has no home but a party tightly, hierarchically organised around an, often non UK driven, agenda to which it has, most determinedly, no access. And the trade unions are not peopled now by productive workers in industry and mining and agriculture; that is the emotional image but the reality is that they are made up of those aparatchicks and members of the Labour nomenklatura who have their hands in your pay packet with their tax confiscations, and their authority derived from undemocratic, unscrutinised rules over your life.

The reciprocal cross-funding from trades unions to the Labour Executive elite, reciprocated by government policy and tax-funded financial resources to the union agenda is a closed vicious circle. It is also a reproach to any notion that the UK is a democratic country.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Bearing Arms

Everyone in the countryside can bear arms and most are out and about banging away at the local fauna early and late. Many officials carry guns too, from parking police to forestry guards and, certainly, the carabiniere.

The pile of documents needed to join in ( I am going for the permission to bear arms for sport) includes:
formal request on stamped (10 euros) paper, tick;
medical certificate on headed paper from the local Health Office giving a view on the physical and mental health of the applicant, tick;
an authenticated photocopy from the town hall of the completion of military service, no military service, cross; but a substitute document can be obtained from the provincial offices of the National Target Shooting organisation certifying ability to shoot, yet to be obtained as not yet able to shoot, still cross;
a statement of the make-up of family membership (presumably so they'll know in the first instance who is likely to have shot whom), tick;
copy of certificate of residence (and they'll know where to find me), tick;
were arms being borne to shoot animals then there is an examination in animal shooting required, to be taken under the auspices of the provincial Hunting Association, however, not applicable;
two photographs, one authenticated, tick;
receipt for 60 euros paid to the Tax and Concessions Office, Rome, that can be done after the ability to shoot is certified by the National Target Shooting organisation;
2 euros to the local town hall, ditto;
a copy of my tax paid receipt as a self-employed professional from the local collector of taxes, teeth-gritted tick;
all and any other relevant document or certificate that shows the need to go about armed, (this is the catch-all, what can they want? There is no need, except that everyone else is armed , to go about armed), ignore;
a certificate from the town hall of not being a conscientious objector (there is low blow - the only grounds for refusing military service if called are health - determined by military examination, and previously registered conscientious objection; so if you won't fight you won't need a gun, will you? Sorry about the sport and the hunting but 'thou shalt not kill' is taken as seriously by the state as it is by you. Nowadays women would be called up too, but this doesn't really apply to women as they were not in the past. If required to serve a moral and properly constituted democratic state, I would serve and so accept the discipline of service and so perhaps would have to kill. Not a conscientious objector, registered or no, then, virtual tick;
If requiring to extend the permission to bear arms for sport to bearing arms for personal defence then documentation is needed to demonstrate the ownership of land or a firm, tick;
its whereabouts, tick; and a statement of what kind of gun it is intended to carry and its matriculation number. As Mr HG has ruled no Uzi, not applicable.

The only thing standing between the locals and an armed Hatfield Girl is the instructor at the local branch of the National Target Shooting Association, and practising there is a very interesting way to pass these newly dark evenings.

Monday, 29 October 2007

Lower the Last Red Flag

The proposal for a Grand Committee dealing with English and Welsh affairs and excluding Scottish -seated Westminster MPs from the vote is not enough. It relies on third readings being nodded through by the entire United Kingdom Commons as a constitutional practice - and constitutional practice has been shredded under NewLabourNewTwighlight , we have even a Lord Chancellor who sits in the Lower House not the Lords - and can never be relied upon again.

It is not enough either because the Great Britain of the Countries and the Regions is an integral factor in the rule of the Labour party. The Scottish Labour head needs to be torn from the English Labour shoulders, and the Welsh Labour arms need ripping off too.

The Labour party is a wholly unpleasant Left-over, as left-overs usually are, from another economic and social world that ended with the globalised destruction of the United Kingdom's heavy industry and the organised worker- base it generated. That trade union structure has refilled itself with the apparatchicks and nomenklatura of the ever-expanding Labour authoritarian state. There are no more coal miners, or steel workers, or car production workers, or ship builders, or aircraft and defence industry workers but there are, instead, state funded, regional based, arms -length institutions filled with those who should be productive workers: the National Health Service; the education service; regional development; local government; quasi- public (eg cooperative) banking structures; arts bodies; quangoes of all and every hue as long as it's red (well, pinkish); and all imbued with that aggressive, self- assertive notion of entitlement and moral superiority.

And all paid for by London and its globalised economy.

This Honecker-style regime is preventing the growth and putting in place of a popular party of the centre left that could release the use of resources not to retain power in perpetuity for a tiny and disgusting political elite resting on the values and beliefs they would not and cannot subscribe to themselves, but to provide choice and opportunity. Choice and opportunity for all the people to gain an appropriate and interesting education, access to health care that at least matches that available in advanced capitalist societies, that reinstates the civil liberties destroyed to maintain Labour's hold on power and control democratic removal of their rule. Choice and opportunity to end the levels of taxation that cripple every stably- constituted family or the possibility of setting one up, to make house-ownership accessible to the young, and to end a regime that leaves every person present in the country liable to arbitrary and inappellable state action.

Opposition parties' proposals that ameliorate Labour's position are weakening their own, and slowing the growth of a properly constituted democracy.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

When are the British Troops Leaving Iraq?

The newly elected Polish government leader has announced the withdrawal of Polish troops from Iraq as soon as practicable. As the Poles are providing rather a lot of particularly highly trained soldiers and covering an entire sector in Iraq, perhaps that is why the all -out withdrawal of British troops, to be completed by 2008, has been put on hold and three scenarios, including increasing troop numbers, were offered by General Peter Wall to the Commons Defence Committee.

Two weeks ago the Leader was not guaranteeing any British troops in Iraq after next year. General Wall's other two scenarios were reinforcement by the Iraqi army and reinforcement by troops from other nation members of the 'international ' force.

General Wall may not have realised that apart from a tiny and highly specialized Australian group, there isn't anybody else left.

The Turkish army, who were looking extraordinarily well-equipped on the television coverage, air cover and everything, as well as looking extraordinarily scary, which is their wont, are not on our side: though little seems to stand between them and Baghdad except Condoleeza Rice saying 'please don't'.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Referendums in Scotland

The implication ( which could be drawn from Rees-Mogg's Times article) that the reason the Leader signed up to the European constitutional Reform Treaty so avidly was that it retrieved powers devolved unwisely to the Scottish government and conceded them to the European Union subject to negotiation with the member-state - ie., the Westminster Labour regime - is attractive but for subsidiarity's fundamental role in the European Union's foundation.

The subsidiarity principle is reinforced under the Reform Treaty and regional parliaments with legislative powers have greater levels of direct consultation and action within the Council of the Regions and within the EU in general, together with reinforced direct access to EU information affecting their regions, rather than relying on being kept informed by member-state level governments perhaps jealous of devolved lost powers and prepared to seek to recover them by denial of information.

This does not alter necessarily the consideration that the governing party in Scotland must be giving to holding a referendum on accession to the Reform Treaty. Should Scotland choose to remain within the European Union and within a more highly devolved but continued United Kingdom federation, or within the EU but without the UK , or without both, (it cannot choose within the UK but without the EU, obviously), some means of expressing the electorate's wishes is needed.

A referendum on Scottish independence is mooted by 2010. While 2010 is too late for the Reform Treaty acceptance or rejection, it might be possible to bring forward the referendum on independence and organize at the same time (and more competently than Labour's Douglas Alexander's effort the last time more than one poll was conducted on the same ballot paper and on the same day in Scotland), a referendum of the Scottish electorate on accession to the Reform Treaty.

The member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath might be the recipient of a double whammy.

O What a Lovely War

The end of the beginning has been reached with modern Iraq pulverized into a virtual country.
All that was settled with the dismemberment of the Ottoman empire after the First World War is now undone with the emergence of ethnic and cultural boundaries overridden then by the interests and deliberate divide and rule politics of the victorious western powers.

The Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq are agglomerations of ethnic diversity, of the deepest-rooted cultural and historical difference. The post 1918 frontiers were imposed but never accepted or even formally recognized by many of the peoples involved, not least by Turkey forced by the British to cede Mosul and its region (and its oil), but that concession never ratified by the Turks.

Now is the beginning of the end of a century of uneasy settlement and once more, as the Turkish parliament authorises the Turkish army to act against the Kurds regardless of modern frontiers, the history examination chestnut 'What were the causes of the First World War?' can be asked but terrifyingly recast as "what were the causes of the Third World War?'

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Inside the Tiger

They didn't care about his red lines, he could have had them up his trousers like a carabiniere had he so desired, just as long as he signed. And he was so busy asserting his personal fiefdom, that at last it was his view to take, his decision to implement, and his country to be slapped into place and acknowledge that it was all his to choose, that he became the young lady of Riga.

The photographs of Italy's prime minister Romano Prodi's smile, indeed his uproarious hilarity, as he stood next to the Leader; the wide grins and congratulatory obeisances to the United Kingdom's champion from Germany's Chancellor, the beaming, elaborate courtesies of the Portuguese President of the European Union, the grins of the representatives of the newer Baltic members of the federal Union brought nothing so much to mind as:

There was a young lady from Riga,
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger
They came back from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.

Friday, 19 October 2007

What Am I Bid?

The 'other assets ' category in the Bank of England's weekly accounts indicate that up to now Northern Rock has borrowed £16 billion (sixteen billion pounds sterling) from the lender of last resort. The lender of last resort is you, the UK taxpayer.

And do you own, for £16 billion , this grotty north eastern England ex- building society that seems to have the horn of plenty to its mouth? Of course you don't. Has anybody been dismissed? Of course they haven't. Is any part of the Labour regime and its multi-benefitted supporters going to blow the whistle on this off-balance sheet funding of an economically collapsed area of England by grotesquely risky (not now of course, now its the taxpayer, but not counted in the books) means, to an even more grotesque clientele? Anyone want to buy a wholly home-grown mortgage book together with some assets like Northern Rock has to offer?

The Bank of England has paid £ 16 billion up front and still not succeeded, so that's the order of offer required (well, considerably more to make its clockwork keep running), or it could be noticed that it's worthless, unless there is some not immediately visible value.


"The government should have made Mr Ridley's departure a condition of its loan, rather than waiting for him to go. Furthermore there are other directors, including Derek Wanless, who are equally culpable. All of the senior management should have been cleared out on day one.", Vincent Cable MP, Liberal Democrat acting leader and treasury spokesman stated.

Northern Rock, who the Treasury Select Committee accused of destroying "the good name of British banking", “now believe that in the interests of all stakeholders in the company, the time is right to accept his [Ridley’s] resignation as a director and chairman of the company.” He is to be replaced by Bryan Sanderson, a Labour party advisor on competitiveness during the 1990s, who stepped down from Standard Chartered late in 2006 with threequarters of a million pounds.

The Board of Northern Rock, it seems, is “delighted to welcome Bryan Sanderson to the company. He has a wealth of experience in business, banking and working with government that will prove invaluable to Northern Rock when considering future strategic options.”
Northern Rock think it "premature" to discuss how much Sanderson will be paid.

So from the lowliest clerk to the highest members of the board, Northern Rock is still out there, posturing and choosing, lending your money and making appointments at unspecified payment levels to Labour advisors .

You could buy the whole of north east England and a packet of Woodbines and still have change out of £16 billion.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Promises, Promises

"If we were deciding to join the euro, we would have a referendum. " Declaration by the Leader of the Labour party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom , Wednesday 17 October 2007.

Treasure it.

(There are, as musicians say, one or two corners). You do not decide to join the Euro, Brown: you decide to apply to join the Euro and, apart from just promising a referendum on a decision to abandon the Pound, presumably using your own criteria for if the UK economy can face (never mind meet) your five tests:

1 Are business cycles and economic structures compatible with Eurozone interest rates on a permanent basis?
2 If problems emerge, is there sufficient flexibility to deal with them?
3 Would joining the euro create better conditions for firms making long-term decisions to invest in Britain?
4 What impact would entry into the euro have on the UK's financial services industry?
5 Would joining the euro promote higher growth, stability and a lasting increase in jobs?

which were total Balls when first set out, but are now, after the monumental mess made in the last 10 years, full of heffalump traps for the unwary but arrogant non-economist; but you might be emboldened to apply.

If you meet the Maastricht criteria, which currently the UK economy does not, then you can be admitted. If not , not.

You need to pull your head in.

Monday, 15 October 2007

Does Scotland Wish to Join the European Union?

Axiomatic assumptions on Scotland's stance towards membership of the European Union are as ill-founded as assumptions that its government will accept the Westminster Labour regime's policies, which Scotland's voters rejected at their elections, in return for tax-funded wealth transfers.

The prime minister, First Minister Salmond's outstanding team of economic advisers could readily make a case that Scotland is a net exporter of wealth to the rest of the United Kingdom. And this case extends to taking a careful look at applying to join the European Union in the event of secession from the UK, or continuing to accept that the benefits of European Union membership as part of the UK are real.

Scotland's wealth lies in its as yet unexploited oil fields, its fisheries, its agriculture, tourism, and a nascent and highly effective financial services sector. There is, too, a relatively well-educated population and a Scottish diaspora in the developed world with the greatest good will towards Scotland, and an interest in aiding the development of a small, rich, and very beautiful homeland.

The Scots will not be considering just a referendum on independence and its form from the rest of the United Kingdom, but a referendum too on whether their interest lies, like Norway's, outside the European Union.

How ironic that we are to be dragged into a newly constituted federal European State by a Scot who represents no English voter.

Mr HG's Hot Wine Chestnut Accompaniment

Take a heavy-bottomed pan and in it place: a dessertspoonful of white sugar; 2 wine glasses of plain water; a grind of allspice; a few cloves (say 4 or 5); thin peel from quarter of an orange; ditto a lemon; a stick of vanilla; a pinch of cinnamon; a little chopped ginger; some may care to add a peperoncino. Leave to simmer very slowly over hot ash while vigorously shaking chestnuts in chestnut roasting pan.
Away from the fire add four glasses of robust red wine ( amused by its presumption variety) and replace on the ashes - do not let it even simmer - until the whole is melded and red hot. Add a generous shot (after tasting, so as to choose appropriately), of any of the following: brandy (or cognac), grand marnier, fruit brandies, but never whisky or grappa. By now the chestnuts are ready, if they are not drink the hot wine and start a fresh batch while continuing with shaking the chestnuts.

Do not shake your head next morning.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

The Importance of Differentials

The DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder have just been posted by 'Philip' on Dale. They are:

1. a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. believes that he or she is "special" and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
4. requires excessive admiration
5. has a sense of entitlement, ie unreasonable expectations of especially favourable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
6. is interpersonally exploitative, ie takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
7. lacks empathy and is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
8. is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her
9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviours or attitudes

Any five are required for a diagnosis of NPD.

Must put hand up to 2,4,5 and 6. Saved. There is clear , blue water between me and Gordon Brown.

Saturday, 13 October 2007

We Were Warned

" I warn you that you will have pain – when healing and relief depend upon payment. I warn you that you will have ignorance – when talents are untended and wits are wasted, when learning is a privilege and not a right. I warn you that you will have poverty – when pensions slip and benefits are whittled away by a government that won’t pay in an economy that can't pay. I warn you that you will be cold – when fuel charges are used as a tax system that the rich don't notice and the poor can't afford.
I warn you that you must not expect work – when many cannot spend, more will not be able to earn. When they don't earn, they don't spend. When they don't spend, work dies. I warn you not to go into the streets alone after dark or into the streets in large crowds of protest in the light. I warn you that you will be quiet – when the curfew of fear and the gibbet of unemployment make you obedient. I warn you that you will have defence of a sort – with a risk and at a price that passes all understanding. I warn you that you will be home-bound – when fares and transport bills kill leisure and lock you up. I warn you that you will borrow less – when credit, loans, mortgages and easy payments are refused to people on your melting income.

"I warn you not to be ordinary. I warn you not to be young. I warn you not to fall ill. I warn you not to get old."

And look who has brought it all to pass Mr Kinnock.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Northern Who?

Why is Northern Rock being treated so well? Had it collapsed under the weight of its directors' business plan that would have been unfortunate for depositors and shareholders but hardly more than a mildly embarrassing pimple on the financial face of the UK. Their mortgage book is sub prime all on its own - look at the offer only days ago to an undercover reporter of a 125% mortgage at a multiple of six times his salary - if their mortgages are all like that there is little to do with the US sub prime market causing their problems.

Yet the one- offness of their improvidence was obscured under a lot of flim flam about exposure to world problems and linkage pulling in other (unnamed) financial institutions and the need to act; while the Bank of England saw no need to act at all, not for that 'bank' anyway.

Still the Labour regime warped the entire policy of the 'independent' Bank of England and displayed the inadequacy of the FSA's monitoring function to prevent a small provincial bank going to the wall.

So who are Northern Rock, to be defended by Labour with such intransigence ? Why did our guest who had returned to remove life savings and inheritance from a deposit account, not unnaturally more than flustered by the queues and the worry, on meeting a banking neighbour get told: 'They'd never let NR go down, no need to have come back at all'. The mind turns to the geographical identity of Northern Rock's home ground .

During the last miners' strike Northern Rock is said to have assured miners not to worry about their mortgages and payments; there is an identity of 'mission statement' from the Northern Rock Foundation (which benefits from a large subvention annually from NR as well as its initial endowment on demutualisation), and the National Union of Miners commitment to defend the interests of miners, their extended families (and seeing as there are hardly any miners now that's quite an outreach over more than a generation), and their 'communities' (surely those have dissolved quarter of a century after the industry collapsed?).

'The Treasury has been ambiguous about how long its guarantee supporting Northern Rock is for ' , says the Telegraph, as profit- taking on share volatility continues. The depositors have got their savings out with the help, as of yesterday, of £ 13 billion of government loans (and we will be last in the creditors' queue, the money is gone, and yes, they can print it but that doesn't help the inflation spread across us all); why were preference shareholders not given their 3 weeks notice so that their dividend was delayed as it could have been - they have trousered their £40 million. What is tax-payers' money being used to prop up exactly, in Labour's heartland?

"the government has become complicit in large-scale and irresponsible lending by the same management, even today, in what amounts to little short of a banking scam," said Vincent Cable, the Liberal Democrat Economic spokesperson. “Are you aware that the same lending practices are continuing today?” Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, a member of his Treasury team, had rung Northern Rock the day before, reports the Times, to ask about a mortgage. “The terms were quite extraordinary. He was offered 127 per cent of the value of the house, including a roll-up of the arrangement fee, and five to six times his income,” noted Vince, adding, “30 per cent of the loan was going to be unsecured”.

Over 1% of GDP taken up in less than a month and more available . Who are these people?


On Wednesday, the Northern Rock Charitable Foundation appointed Europa Partners, the independent corporate finance house, as adviser.

The foundation gets 5 per cent of the bank’s pre-tax profits. ‘It will receive a stake of just below 15 per cent of the fully diluted equity capital should the bank be sold.’ reports the FT.

'... the Northern Rock Foundation warned against a transaction conducted on “unfavourable terms, simply to meet a self-imposed timetable”. It plans to lobby other investors to ensure any offer is fair.’

The charity, created when Northern Rock demutualised in 1997 , the year of the New Dawn, has received £192m so far and disbursed £156m. Its activities are focused solely on Northern Rock’s heartland, north-east England .

‘Its spending over the decade has, Northern Rock believes, made it the UK’s biggest corporate donor and more than half the region’s voluntary bodies have received support from it.'

They offer a £60, 000 annual North East Writer's Prize, (amongst a veritable sea of grants for those who can cram themselves into Kinnock's famous categories of what not to be) , only you'd have to live there. Thought not.

Why don't we own Northern Rock? After all, we've paid over £13 billion so far and nobody but the Leader and his Treasury value it at much more than half a billion pounds.

A Philip Roth Moment

The cover of the Economist is a horrible warning. As the member of parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath implodes Hillary and Bill model for the return of Cherie and Tony.


When Lord Woolf, then Lord Chief Justice, negotiated a deal on the relationship between the Judiciary and the Executive and the judges so notably failed to resist the Labour assault upon the office of Lord Chancellor and the Constitution itself, as if no more was taking place than changing the title of some ministerial role, he called the deal a Concordat.

The Concordat (give a deal a posh name) has been ignored; the judicial arm of the Constitution has been significantly diminished.

Minister for Justice Straw, and Lord Chancellor, (they couldn’t quite get rid of all those ragged, torn off bits and bobs of our Constitution still clinging to the once great Office of State) told the Constitutional Affairs Committee of MPs this week, the Times Law section reports , that ‘it was understandable that given the past four years, the equilibrium of the relationship between judges and the Executive had been “jolted”.’

So the procedures of the Judicial Appointments Commission, causing “widespread concern at every level of the judiciary” are to be speeded up. The Minister promises to “turn around” recommendations for judicial appointments in 24 hours, or a weekend - though what the Executive is doing interfering in judicial appointments at all is not mentioned.

The Leader's proposals for confirmation hearings or questioning of prospective judicial candidates by politicians have not been dismissed out of hand as out of order, as they should have been, despite the Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers’ strong opposition. Minister Straw merely states, “My default position would be to leave things as they are because they have just undergone change.”

And the review of the setting up of a Ministry of Justice at all? Kicked into the long grass by Straw who offers ‘a small working party, involving a district judge and a senior official, to look at the relationship between the Courts Service and the Ministry of Justice.’

The Minister says that while there will not be agreement with the judges on everything there will be “an absolute understanding on everything”.

They will know their new place.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

Death by Socialist Planning

Delivery of any service by socialist planning is deeply discredited throughout the world except for the supply of health services by the NHS in England and Wales; Scotland marches to a different drum, but the English and the Welsh are supposed to revel in the glory of being beneficiaries of the finest levels of state provision: filthy hospitals, long waiting lists, no accountability, PFI debt coming home to roost, and brutal realist attitudes to the primacy of providers over patients. Not to mention the spill over effect of such a neanderthal structure rooted in the midst of a modern advanced economy.

The Bank of England has recently distinguished itself as the lender of last resort to otherwise collapsed banks, wholly under the control of the Treasury and the Labour regime; the NHS can be seen as the employer of last resort equally dancing to the tune of Labour party dominated statist clientalism.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Direct Democracy

It is not true, though frequently expounded by the press, that the Conservative party is seeking to take and stand on some political and moral centre ground that is currently occupied by the herd of authoritarians and their placemen that claims to be our elected government.

The government we voted, rightly or wrongly, into office is not this freak show which, furthermore, pretends to complete change from what the defenestrated Labour Leader offered. Here there is the form of democracy but no substance.

And now a general election both proper and welcomed by the Opposition whose conference had been used rightly to set out a clear and attractive programme and manifesto, an election which could have settled the essential issue of governance in this country - our relationship with the European Union - has been denied.

We have an Opposition with a whole set of policies laid out clearly before us, so popular that the deceitful cherry-picking displayed this week only underlines the collapse of the Leader and his Party's socialist planning 'vision'. The Conservative leader and his party have no wish nor political need to stand upon the contaminated ground occupied by Brown and his apparatchiks: the pouring away of tax-raised resources on the client state, the maintenance and enlargement of enormous Soviet-style segments of the economy in the state provision of health, education and welfare services, presenting many of the problems of transition from planned economies faced and resolved in eastern Europe

Our state and its current regime has aspects of what millions in eastern Germany took to the streets to end, as did the citizens of the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, in their Velvet revolution; what Walensa and Solidarnosc pulled down in Poland - but we are less fortunate than the Poles for they will have elections on 22 October to give or refuse their agreement to the European Union new constitution.

The great demonstration by the people from the countryside which brought millions into London and other urban centres to press for a fair and democratic use of state resources and the assertion of the value and values of rural life, the equally huge numbers who stepped out to condemn adventurist aggressive wars of primitive accumulation foisted upon us by lies and secret deals, were not made up of wholly different populations as the regime's propaganda proclaimed; they were no more the unspeakable than they were the cadres of the trotskyoid outside left.

In the next few months the Leader intends to sign away the economic, legal and foreign policy independence of the country, cloaking his action in a miasma of propaganda about red lines.

If we are offered only the semblance of democracy and choice, if we are bullied and surveilled by the ruling regime rather than governed by consent with a responsive and benign administration, then we know that our Velvet revolution must come; we know too, that historical precedent is there in the great popular uprisings throughout English history, that the organizational capacity is there, and most of all, the the depth of feeling.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Withdrawing from Iraq

The Leader has stated that there will be,

'3,000 British troops out of Basra by March of 2008, leaving only 2500, with those to be withdrawn by the end of that year. Brown's office says that the drawdown was approved by US Gen. David Petraeus.

Military analysts point out that the effective force in Basra will really only be 1250, since that is all the troops that could be spared for an operation in Basra or another nearby trouble spot, while the other 1250 would need to remain to secure the base. In turn, one could imagine a perilous situation emerging in Basra (population 1.5 million), dealing with which would require more than 1250 troops.

Some observers worry that the British contingent could get so small that it might be overwhelmed by militant Shiite militiamen, and be forced to evacuate by helicopter, as in the last days of the US in Saigon.

It is also unclear that the British could any longer, as of next March, effectively provide a security umbrella for US fuel and supply convoys going from Basra, Umm Qasr and Kuwait up north through Shiite territory to Baghdad and other sites of US military activity. The Iraqi 10th Army Division seems unlikely to be able to play that role so soon. My guess is that the US will have to station troops in Basra.'

Juan Cole's blog, Informed Comment, notes.

The Czech Republic has announced also that its (small) troop contingent will be leaving the Basra area 'very shortly' , and the Polish government warned that its soldiers would be leaving Iraq some time ago.

Is this a European Union co-ordinated departure?

A Comment

' I have a friend living in Cornhill in Northumberland. If he goes into care he will have to sell his house. If he crosses the bridge into Coldstream he can keep his house for his family to inherit. That sums up Brown for me. If you are English under this government you have a lot more to worry about than inheritance tax.'

Failing to Go to the Country

Commanding the House of Commons is not at all the same thing as commanding a political party. Mr Blair could command the Commons and did so on occasions when his party tried to deny him his majority - on education his political will was sustained by Conservative support; on his leaving, the House recognized his Commons, not his party political, skills in rising to applaud him.

The regime Leader now has no such Parliamentary mastery. If he cannot rely on his party whips to drive his Members into the government lobbies his policies and his personality leave no room for finding support elsewhere in the House. And on the demand for a referendum on the new Constitution for the European Union in the face of his determination to cow us all into accepting his micro-managing, party control freakery, this incapacity to even understand the organic, multi-levelled nature of our democracy, let alone operate within it successfully, has been his failure and will be his humiliation.

Mr Blair's Commons majority of over 60 is ample to govern on party political matters agreed within the party and set out in the Manifesto on which Labour was elected 2 years ago; but accession to the European Union Reform Treaty is not such an issue, even ignoring the broken referendum Manifesto pledge.

Ironically it is an issue on which a party leader with a decent majority might well seek a dissolution, to fight an election on the altering of the United Kingdom's system of government for good. And the Head of State might reasonably agree, given that this is neither a party matter, so that commanding the House becomes of a different democratic order, nor a petty policy matter where, as in the education fracas, it is the prime minister's House skills that may be tested.

The accession to the Reform Treaty is identified correctly in Conservative party policies, as set out at their Conference, as being above party. No party, more than the Conservatives, must have wished more not to have to face and perhaps revive the searing hurt the dispute over the United Kingdom's relations with the European Union has caused for so long. But they did not flinch or fail the electorate; they commit to a binding popular referendum on acceptance or rejection of the new Treaty, a revisiting of the 1972 Act to place the electorate's hand directly on any further choices.

Brown failed to ask for a wholly proper dissolution because he knows that the subsequent election would have become in great part the popular referendum he is intent on denying, and the binding expression of the popular will on the European Union that he is intent on thwarting. He may yet learn that in some supra- party political matters even his supine parliamentary Labour party will step up to the plate, and then we'll have our chance to vote on what we think of this and the Leader's other failings.

Monday, 8 October 2007

Past the Sell By

Clearly the game is up for the imposition of the regime's long-standing front man-in-waiting onto the Party and the country ploy. Why take this haggard, ill-advised, non neuro -typical displaying all the characteristics of his status in control-freakery and inability to understand why he is offensively unacceptable to the rest of us, when there are ambitious and competent (if variously unattractive politically to some of us) politicians with widespread support in the diverse colleges of the Party's electoral structure? Why let this vicious but fragile personality buckle under the weight of power in a fashion that has been seen only twice in the last hundred years - MacDonald and Eden.

The risk of events wholly overwhelming the Leader is too great to be taken - Iraq, the Lisbon conference and the non referendum on the new EU constitution, the punitively high taxation rates on Labour's natural supporters, the financial incompetence revealed by a bank run (in 2007!), the threatening debt and housing crisis, the Scottish loss and their government's political skill and grace in governance enhanced by their goading of Westminster, the permanent alienation of the grass roots Party, denied a vote in their own leadership contest; his replacement is an imperative - Brown must go.

Who, to hold the fort for the next three years till 2010 while Labour finds and grows its David Cameron? Straw. They will take the Straw man for the stop gap. And who is the emerging Leader? Look for a Midlands based , union connected, highly skilled, technically competent, socially conservative, quite possibly, woman.

No, I have no name to put forward, but Gordon Brown is so over, he must be withdrawn.


'I made my decision on this basis: I wanted more time to set out my vision for the future of the country.'

We, the people of this country are not blind, Brown, and you are not our Head of State.

The Statement on Iraq by the Leader of the Labour Party

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti,
beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini,
beato Michæli Archangelo,
beato Ioanni Baptistæ,
sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo,
omnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres (et tibi pater),
quia peccavi
nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere:
mea culpa,
mea culpa,
mea maxima culpa.
Ideo precor beatam Mariam
semper Virginem,
beatum Michælem Archangelum,
beatum Ioannem Baptistam,
sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum,
omnes Sanctos, et vos, fratres (et te, pater),
orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Can You Forgive Him?

There are posts that belong to a blog yet appear elsewhere. The Huntsman has taken what should be mine and the pain is exquisite:

O che sciagura d'essere senza coglioni! remarked Mr HG unfolding the Sundays. But it was too late.

What Happens to a Bank With a Failed Business Model

The depositers should be protected, the shareholders should take their losses, and the managers should go to jail. Greenspan on Northern Rock and its ilk.

Queer as a Clockwork Orange

As a total embarassment to the Labour Party, their Leader is hard to beat. Representing a Scottish constituency, imposed, not elected within the Party, the focus of deep misgivings about what has been done in Labour's name over the last decade, a Leader who succeeded in engineering the first run on a UK bank for 150 years, financially, economically and organisationally incompetent - in ordering and re-organizing UK financial institutions in 1997, his loudest boast, why was the split of the Financial Services Authority from the Bank in 1997 so poorly understood and executed that macro economic research was left in the Bank of England and at the FSA there was only a department concerned with micro economic research. Systemic risk, which we are assured produced the run, is a macro economic phenomenon.

Posturing in Iraq before soldiers to whom he has consistently denied funding, posing as Leader in a war initiated by lies to Parliament, the unforgiveable parliamentary and democratic sin, which Brown backed and sustained, and a war conducted not with a war economy designed to sustain the war effort and remaining democratically answerable for its expenditures, but a private profit, off balance sheet conducted war, where the purpose of war expenditures is not to equip and arm and make effective our soldiers, but to make money for private companies.

Declaring first that Blair's parliamentary majority could properly be allocated to a Brown unelected leadership because there was continuity in the Labour regime, then arguing that what Blair had done was nothing to do with him and that the country could expect change, change, change, and then, such promised change requiring a mandate from the people, an election on whatever manifesto such change would be fulfilled, not daring to face the electorate because it is clear there is no electoral mandate for Brown from the people, just as there was none from his own party.

Never elected, deeply flawed in personality and with not just his own financial and economic reputation ruined but that of the UK tarnished worse than at any time in the last 200 years, unable to decide if he is Labour regime continuity or the fresh face of a New Dawn , surrounded by young fools and old tainted hacks, the constitution in tatters and the economy on the brink of ruin, facing public service strikes throughout the winter, and massive popular discontent with his loathsome high taxes on working people and their redistribution to the feckless poor, he is in office and in his own twisted, authoritarian way, in power; inept and graceless in social interaction, could a normal, human advisor not tell him that nothing would so become him as withdrawal to his own country and into private life?

We, the people, are not to have our chance to speak. If the Labour party could do one shining act of political good to redeem itself from the slough of pain, corruption and despond visited not just upon the UK but much of the Middle East and Asia, one deed to rescue itself from the malchick horroshow that is Brown and his boys - Get rid of him on behalf of all of us, and choose a proper human being to lead you.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Thou art Thyself

The member of the Westminster parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath is sitting in the saddle of dear old Dobbin, who he bridled and mounted in the cash for honours and seats in the legislature debacle, but Dobbin isn't content to go.

Dobbin is tired of a decade of hard work and still no let up in the tax take from working people; Dobbin has realised that two generations of primary school-age children have ended with levels of functional illiteracy and innumeracy at 40% on entry into secondary school, and if you can't read and add up at eleven you're not going to get much of a crack at a job five years from then; Dobbin has noticed there are few apprenticeships or decent technical and industrial training systems even if minimal academic competence were on offer; that the index of inequality has worsened severely while the Leader ran the country's economy; that some parts of the country are a great deal more equal than others when it comes to state-provided services, not least his rider's home country; Dobbin notes sadly that Scotland, where he has been welcome for over half a century, has backed another horse despite the payoffs his work has funded; Dobbin is deeply distressed to be held responsible for any part in the terrible war crime of Iraq and repelled by attempts to pretend lack of involvement by the Leader; and, getting on, Dobbin isn't pleased to have his pension taxed at double the rate, if its there at all when he gets to old age, should he survive with patchy and dirty health service treatment.

But Dobbin isn't Boxer, just as England isn't yet Orwell's dystopia; large sections of the Labour Party and of Labour's supporters are repelled by what has been going on.

This is Rose Hacker, 101, writing in the Camden New Journal:

“Brown has all the power”
The Labour Party and I were both 100 years old in 2006, but we seem to have gone in different directions.
Where did we go wrong? As a teenager I was inspired by Karl Marx and joined the Fabian Society and the Labour Party. I was never a communist because I never believed in violence or that the end justifies the means.
In 1938 my friend, Krishna Shelvankar, wrote a book entitled Ends Are Means and I still believe this and support gradualism and democracy. ...When Tony Blair captured control of the Labour Party he re-established the cult of leadership and removed any concept of socialism.
Despite launching a programme called ‘Extending Democracy’, Gordon Brown has taken a series of actions intended to consolidate the leadership principle. With this top-down approach it is now impossible for constituency parties to initiate policy creation or challenge the launching and adoption of policy by Prime Minister Brown.
Policy forums allow local parties to debate, but not change, the policies under discussion.
In elections, lowering voting ages, tinkering with polling station times and introducing electronic voting, with all its attendant risks of fraud, are not going to change the fact that most people now feel their votes don’t count because they don’t bring about change.
Mass defections from the Labour Party over the past decade have been largely due to members feeling they no longer had any role in initiating policy but were expected to go out and promote policies dictated by the leadership.
This policy-from-above approach led to what was supposed to be a ‘consultation’ on future energy options becoming the adoption without consultation of policies for renewing nuclear power stations and Britain’s atomic bomb programme. It has been the same in many policy areas.
I believe this obsession with leadership has cost us so many votes that we have lost our democracy.
In Victorian England all sorts of good ideas rose to the surface. We can trace the origins of our current voting systems back to then.

One person, one vote sounds great as long as people also have the right to influence policy making, not just vote for who will carry out the leadership’s programmes...

For many decades after the Second World War, equalisation was a concept built into government policies and local government practice – the idea that the wealth and assets of the wealthy and advantaged should be used to redress social imbalances. Under Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair this equalisation process was unravelled, leaving Britain in 2007 with the highest levels of inequality since the 1930s.
Gordon Brown shows little sign of wishing to restore policies and practices that reduce inequality.
The last quarter of a century has seen the emergence of a new elite with the power to isolate itself from the real needs of the population: the new, wealthy, parliamentary elite, able to do something no other group in society can do – to make laws that favour themselves. Not all MPs support this, but all are now part of it.
Perhaps we should have a totally different system. Instead of voting for competing political parties, should we, as in jury systems, appoint everybody, no matter what their wealth or station in life, possibly for a single term of two years?
Something similar was done in ancient Greece. However, there they had slaves who were not allowed to contribute to Greek democratic thinking and could not be part of government... even in my lifetime, we ignored the fact that our political thinkers disregarded servants as people. Servants knew their place and did not presume to take part in democratic thinking. Until the second quarter of the 20th century only male property owners were considered ‘fit’ to vote.
Whatever system we do have must not exclude people. A change of leader should give the Labour Party the possibility to change direction, to correct imbalances, to reduce growing inequality.
Gordon Brown, when he became Prime Minister, promised change, change, change. Since then he has made it clear that much of his change means bringing in advisers from outside the Labour Party and consolidating the policies of the past decade.
...Gordon’s policy advisers seem to be made up of anyone but Labour.

In his first Labour Party conference speech, Gordon appeared to offer little real change and show little interest in tackling inequality. It may be too early to judge, but I will be watching and judging.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Two Million Votes Against Labour

The extraction of British soldiers encamped near Basra airfield is an exercise similar to the extraction of the British soldiers who were surrounded in Basra palace.

Basra province is wholly outside of the control of the British. The soldiers are doing precisely nothing but defending themselves from attack, by all means including negotiation.

The political posturing indulged yesterday is precisely what was feared during the leaving of Basra palace, and can only complicate the avoidance of the soldiers having to fight their way out.

After denying realisable military objectives, any administration of territory planning, engaging for years in the grotesque underfunding of forces putting soldiers lives at even higher risk, Labour and its mired Leader play gesture politics to round out their political hand.

Two million marched and demonstrated to stop this even beginning; those two million must be sure to vote to help end this regime, with no fancy footwork to pretend that somehow it wasn't really Labour that sent these soldiers into their bitter endgame.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Happy Families

Families are naturally occurring timeless juridical personalities with automatic membership and the potential to last for ever.

They are the object of a great deal of state attention for they form a web of society-wide potential disruption of state policies, of state goals and even of the existence of a state in its chosen form. The state we have favours rival institutions' claims to eternity - foundations, corporations (though of course not the shares), co-operatives, trades unions, and, historically, the monarchy, the church, colleges, and other entities designated as charities.

The deliberate pursuit of rendering the family incapable even of planning its basic functions, such as providing a family dwelling, caring for its young and old, and ensuring the acculturation of new generations is a distinctive mark of the the New Labour state.

In proposing a measure to remove at least one of the drains on family capacity - the tax that confiscates the family dwelling at each generation even, indeed particularly, for the mass of families at low and medium levels of wealth - the Conservatives reduce the size of the state and empower us all to plan and achieve our own goals in our own lives and in the never-ending lives of our families.

Monday, 1 October 2007


NO spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face ;
Young beauties force our love, and that's a rape ;
This doth but counsel, yet you cannot scape.
If 'twere a shame to love, here 'twere no shame ;
Affections here take reverence's name.
Were her first years the Golden Age ? that's true,
But now they're gold oft tried, and ever new.
That was her torrid and inflaming time ;
This is her tolerable tropic clime.
Fair eyes ; who asks more heat than comes from hence,
He in a fever wishes pestilence.
Call not these wrinkles, graves ; if graves they were,
They were Love's graves, for else he is nowhere.
Yet lies not Love dead here, but here doth sit,
Vow'd to this trench, like an anachorite,
And here, till hers, which must be his death, come,
He doth not dig a grave, but build a tomb.
Here dwells he ; though he sojourn everywhere,
In progress, yet his standing house is here ;
Here, where still evening is, not noon, nor night ;
Where no voluptuousness, yet all delight.
In all her words, unto all hearers fit,
You may at revels, you at council, sit.
This is love's timber ; youth his underwood ;
There he, as wine in June, enrages blood ;
Which then comes seasonablest, when our taste
And appetite to other things is past.
Xerxes' strange Lydian love, the platane tree,
Was loved for age, none being so large as she ;
Or else because, being young, nature did bless
Her youth with age's glory, barrenness.
If we love things long sought, age is a thing
Which we are fifty years in compassing ;
If transitory things, which soon decay,
Age must be loveliest at the latest day.
But name not winter faces, whose skin's slack,
Lank as an unthrift's purse, but a soul's sack ;
Whose eyes seek light within, for all here's shade ;
Whose mouths are holes, rather worn out, than made ;
Whose every tooth to a several place is gone,
To vex their souls at resurrection ;
Name not these living death-heads unto me,
For these, not ancient, but antique be.
I hate extremes ; yet I had rather stay
With tombs than cradles, to wear out a day.
Since such love's motion natural is, may still
My love descend, and journey down the hill,
Not panting after growing beauties ; so
I shall ebb out with them who homeward go.

Reinventing the Wheel

In England inheritance tax, gift tax, and transaction taxes like stamp duty and payments on disposal of assets , are onerous and getting heavier. They weigh against change, innovation, entrepreneurial undertaking, and intergenerational equity; they block the redistribution of wealth among families and lead to the degradation of the physical patrimony of the country; they warp economic activity by rewarding stasis and locking away investment wealth.

The ending of stamp duty on house purchase is a good start and should be extended to its complete abolition; the proposed abolition of inheritance tax is less attractive, though its reduction to more reasonable levels and higher thresholds is urgently required; the abolition of inter-vivos gift taxes , coupled with inducements like tax exemptions or matched funding to aim those gifts at entrepreneurial activity rather than property acquisition is to be avowed.

Taxes on physical objects can be levied on change of ownership or on enjoyment of ownership. Schedule A, abolished more than half a century ago, was a tax on enjoyment of ownership, the tax being paid on an imputed income from house and land ownership, and on some other assets. It is an unattractive tax because it is a slippery slope - paintings hanging in your house? wines in your cellar? a library? we could end up with a taxable imputed income for being beautiful and clever. So while taxes on enjoyment of ownership are to be avoided, a reconsideration of taxes at change of ownership and a shift in the weight of these, so repressive of lively economic activity and intergenerational equity, must be a priority.

Of course it would run against the grain of the authoritorian, redistributive, atomising state; families would act together to create economic opportunity.

The family-based firm in Italy is so powerful a driver of the Italian economy it has its own niche in the theory of the firm. Such economic activity cannot be the whole story for a large advanced economy, but its lack, and the lack of an environment in which it can thrive, is an impoverishment of us all.