Saturday, 31 October 2009

New Labour Threatens European Social Democracy

All the headlines are about the 'presidency' of the European Union, (although in truth the post is head of the about-to-be-formalised administration of the Council of Ministers, which up to Lisbon has been an ad hoc grouping borrowing administrative support from the Union's bureaucracy).

It is the plight of social democracy and the social democratic parties that should be under discussion.

Social democracy covers a multitude of political stances, and a multitude of political sins. Its protagonists and supporters are drawn from a tradition of moderation that argues for the provision of a welfare state, some redistribution of wealth, and the settlement of disputes by negotiation; social democrats see themselves as the moderate, commonsense fairness, decent people. The proof of this is in their commitment to a decent living standard and education, to freedom from gross want and access to steady employment for members of society.

Unfortunately some of those goals are concomitant with much uglier political ideologies - communism and socialism that carry as a political imperative, ideals of the installation of a permanent authoritarian state; and they are concomitant, too, with much more liberal thinking - market regulated capitalism, unfettered individual freedoms, and the small state meeting minimal social peace, plus conservation of the State, goals.

Social democratic parties have been damaged dreadfully by both becoming masking movements for socialist and communist movements fiercely rejected by every society where the chance to get rid of them has been created and seized; while, at the same time, democratic societies have observed that centre right parties offer many of the social policies and ameliorations of unbridled capitalist practice, originally associated with social democracy but long harnessed under one nation conservatism, without the risk of the wolves in sheep's clothing that entered and are still sidling into social democratic parties.

The British Labour party has been the cause of some of the greatest damage to the social democratic movement in advanced capitalist democracies. New Labour has been one of the greatest recruiting sergeants for centre right one nation conservatism. Elected to both increase and to speed up delivery of social wellbeing post the deindustrialisation crisis in the United Kingdom, it used its social democratic mandate to instal a familiar 'democratic centralism' within the Party, and to deny the constitutional usages that informally but historically provided the checks and balances on Executive use of power in our country. As the New Labour government steadily and increasingly identified itself with the permanent State, surveillance of our unfortunate population was installed at Korean levels to proscribe individual and long-entrenched liberties of self assertion, protest, inconformity and self-determination. Ironic comparisons with the realised socialism of the German Democratic Republic, Poland, the former Czechoslovakia and the Baltic states turned to horrified understanding. New Labour is not social democratic but sociofascist. Its aims are post democratic permanent administrative governance.

The bombastic, punch above our weight, vulgarity of New Labour's authoritarian sociofascism has been prevented in other countries by constitutional embedded rules and practices both within social democratic parties and in national constitutions. But the propaganda effect of our disgrace of a government, this travesty of social democracy seeking to infect the European Union with its horrifyingly recognisable reincarnation of so many countries' recent and more recent political history, has led to a massive draining of support for any social democratic party, and its supporting movement, across the Continent.

If social democracy is to survive and prosper again in Europe the European social democratic movement and its leadership needs to cut off New Labour at the knees.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Speaking Only For Themselves

Gordon Brown told a press conference in Brussels yesterday:

'We, the British Government, believe that Tony Blair would be an excellent candidate and an excellent person to hold the job of president of the council.'

While Brown's infelicitous grasp of English is an everyday aspect of his pronouncements - a major aspect of his overall weirdness - this remark starts all sorts of hares running.

First it suggests strongly the presence of other British voices being heard in Europe that are not those of this collapsed, failing British government at the end of its ill-gotten career. Secondly it underlines the undemocratic nature of the support for an appointed European president - not 'We, the British people ...' for, not least, none of us were asked, and further, the shamelessness of the UK Executive in their usurpation of power is fully displayed. Thirdly it speaks of the wholly non-communautaire approach to Europe by the current British Executive with no notion that to speak as 'British' in discussions of the choice of candidate for a pan European office is to show naked national interest-seeking that is inimical to the European ideals that Lisbon is supposed to embody. You're not supposed to be quite so transparently a Brit hooligan Gordon.

Most of all it shows weakness. European Social Democratic disappointment in the Labour party and its New Labour leadership is very noticeable and widespread; Blair and Brown's behaviour are considered to have contributed to weakening the social democratic movement across the continent. Blair and Brown are considered to have contributed to the resurgence of the centre right through both foreign policy - most particularly the illegal war waged on Iraq, and through the destruction of controls over financial behaviour, the famous 'light touch' that precipitated the recession. Europe does not accept that it started only in America. So when European social democrats are told by Brown that he speaks for the British government and to get real he merely reinforces the narrowness of his viewpoint and the breadth of dissent from it, and from him and his predecessor. And the isolation and irrelevance in which this Labour regime now exists both in Europe and in its own country.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

A German Manifesto

Vaclav Klaus is absolutely right to be requiring guarantees on the effects of the Lisbon treaty on post War settlements. In the long document produced by the new German government on its intentions, it is clearly stated that it:

'plans to create the "Flight, Expulsion and Conciliation" [commission] dedicated to German expellees -- a move likely to ruffle feathers in neighboring Poland, where politicians have fought vociferously against its establishment because they fear ethnic Germans forced out of Eastern Europe will depict themselves as the victims of World War II. In addition, the government wants to support the creation of a museum dedicated to the Sudeten Germans. More than 3 million Sudeten Germans were forcefully expelled from Czechoslovakia after the war.' (Der Spiegel)

It might be thought that a commission and a museum in commemoration of acts widely viewed as wrongful by their victims (obviously) and by others as having been unwise, is a considerable concession to, and first step in, changing the status quo. Germans, Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks are engaged in an ongoing dispute about wealth and power redistributions since 1945. It is only 20 years since Germany was reunited - the most unacceptable of the 1945 dispositions that forced half the country to live under realised socialism with a Wall to keep them from escaping their privations and brutalisation in every aspect of their lives; but for the millions involved in smaller disputes their fate is just as destructive, just as arbitrarily imposed.

When Poland argued that it was missing a large part of its population and should have its vote re-weighted to take this into account there was concerted poo-pooing of the quite reasonable view that to be deprived of people is as bad as to be deprived of land. Now the Czechs are being sneered at and told to hurry through their pointless objections to the opening of threats to fundamental democratic features like secure property rights. Yet the people on the other side of the Czech viewpoint, the Sudeten Germans - seem to be enjoying a considerable and formalised upsurge in government-backed support for their aims. Hungary and Slovakia are caught up in a different dispute but a dispute of a similar kind springing from the same source - the improper resolution of the consequences of the War.

If Lisbon does go through it will reopen, in one fell swoop, injustices that until now had no redress. President Klaus is trying to protect more than just his own country's interests but the Union itself in a form more appropriate to nation states so recently at determined odds with one another. No, not the War, but the consequences and longterm settlements of the War . There is more to fear from Lisbon than an extension of executive administrative power into our democracies.

The peoples forced to live under socialist regimes which deprived generations of decent lives having freed themselves, disgraceful walls or no disgraceful walls, those who suffered specific victimisation at the hands of the regimes in their countries will be a powerful force of disruption in a Lisbon-shaped Europe. Perhaps we should think less about representing Europe to the world with a president and a foreign minister and more about institutions and means for setting right the evils inflicted inside Europe on so many millions of its people since 1945. Lisbon is facing the wrong way, oriented to the wrong goals, and its provisions for internal settlement of relations within the Union are ill-conceived and will bring into being the very opposite of the ever closer union it pretends to champion.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The Embarrassing Irrelevance of Brown and New Labour

Brown's grandiloquence and silly claims on the recession are much more damaging for our country when looked at from Berlin. Repeatedly questions were asked on whether he had really said he had saved the world, had really claimed to have unique technical and intellectual economic insight that had enabled him to show the international economic community what was to be done, was really to go to the EU meetings at the end of this week to make proposals as to how Germany should conduct its economic and financial policies. For members of the German politico/academic/technical advisor class to be even posing such queries is astonishing. Courtesy, to office and extended to the individual occupying the office, is the watchword of German officialdom; they do not do needle, sneer, insinuation, put down. So asking was with serious intent, not smear by association.

Answering demanded the same standards and considerable care.

'Brown's barking,' would not have done. Even to have produced chapter and verse on barking manifestations would have produced intense embarrassment that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom should indulge in such inappropriate behaviour; embarrassment for the man, and concern that notions of the office might need extensive revision.

The best way to communicate the truth convincingly and acceptably seemed to be to start from familiar ground - the German (and the European) economy and what it faced in building an economic model for cohesive growth, post crisis. They could tell Angels comfortably about that - that's what they were there to discuss after all; and the 'what is good for Germany, is good ' is an intuitive stance for Germans. Then, as each aspect of this central theme was considered, the response that Brown and his henchmen were proposing could be set next to it.

It was a revelatory if horrid journey, particularly for the social democrats who viewed the Labour party as their natural associate, in how to act in response to the crisis and who to blame for what had happened.

The Europeans put emphasis on European rather than global institutions; the statistics coming from the EBRD as opposed to the IMF offer 'small but non negligible differences in the two sets of forecasts ', with sometimes lower falls in growth rates but slower recovery, and sometimes even worse falls and slower recovery offered by the IMF forecasters than by the EBRD.

The 'need to change its [european] growth model - away from reliance on easy finance and commodities, and towards the development of domestic financial markets, strong institutions and a diversified production base' (EBRD president Thomas Mirow, quoted from the FT September 2009) fits the German model, but not Brown's global rhetoric. The Europeans regretted the slowing down of convergence that had accompanied the Union enlargement, creating out of the crisis a reinforced heterogeneity of national performances within the EU.

An international stability pact, fiscal and monetary co-ordination, sustainability of the path chosen, exit strategies, ECB or IMF as lender of last resort - (problems for either but the ECB at least leaves national Central Banks to act to provide liquidity for their own national banks - hard to identify sometimes, but by and large, within central banks' powers - and capable of providing discretionary and informal interventions); at every turn the Brown regime's policy was at odds with a europeanist solution and designed for a meglomaniac vision of world governance.

Whatever might be the case about Brown's mental status, his inapproriate ideas (and policies) on economics and finance were fully pointed up in their rejection of a European and, more narrowly but most importantly, German stance.

Last weekend, too, the hotel was almost taken over by CDU delegates from all over Germany come to Berlin for the announcements on the newly-elected German government and the policies to be pursued. Getting to the lifts or even breakfast without being on the telly became an enterprise as television cameras portrayed talking heads from the coalition discussing tens of billions of Euros of tax cuts, new partnerships with Russia, the maintenance of a decent social welfare and health system even if there was to be a separate budget for extraordinary calls on welfare services. Nothing could have been more remote, more at odds, with everything Brown and his banana-waving Foreign Secretary stand for.

The English media may be bigging-up Brown and Blair's role and importance in Europe, but the impression gained on the spot was of irrelevance, dismissal, total isolation and, from social democrats, distress at the loss of a once important ally just as their star wanes across Europe.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Celebrating the End of Realised Socialism

Angels are Lufthansa'd to Berlin tomorrow lunchtime so the only sound here will be of air streaming under and over wings. There is to be lots of talking about the fall of the Wall: more what it means now than what it meant then. It's all very interesting, and every morning there is proper breakfast and newspapers on sticks.

Hopes to frequent the Bauhaus archive, and drink lovely beers depend on just how interesting everyone is. There will be reports on all and everything worth mentioning.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Sketch of the Return of Democracy

Angels are constitutionalist in the sense of believing that any attempt at righting things by violent action will fail in the short term, any long term action would be long term destructive and, most importantly of all, the idea of violent action is a dampener on real and immediate action now - it is the 'I will do such things' syndrome.

We are wading thigh deep through the shards of our constitution, partly reduced to fragments by deliberate action - the implementation of the Regime's 'terrorism' agenda, partly collapsed by unseen consequences of clumsy and historically and politically ignorant 'reform' - the 'regionalisation' of the UK agenda resulting in the ruling Party actually undermining a large part of its own power base, as well as risking losing control over a healthy proportion of UK resources.

Unfortunately people really, really don't want to acknowledge this: being interested in the organisation of the state, its relations to the government and the governed, and how power is accessed and allocated is hardly a mainstream divertimento; what the pragmatics and cognition people call a'folk' understanding of these things prevails - ie:

democratically formed and run parties put up a manifesto and candidates, every few years we vote for the candidates who will put the manifesto into effect, often choosing the worst of two evils with a lot of grumbling, and then we leave them to it till next time and reward or punish them accordingly. Most of our lives are our private business anyway for us to get on with as we choose.

Except the government has identified itself with the state and, in Elby's memorable phrase, is all over us like a rash.

What is to be done? Make propaganda. Argue every toss, every lie and misrepresentation - for example consider the grotesque misrepresentation of what is going to happen to the English Opel/Vauxhall workers. Vote whenever an opportunity to vote cannot be suppressed. Engage in movements that want change in key points of the state system some of which can get quite charged; particularly over schooling; or some care quite a lot that there should be an end to the monarchy and the pretence that it has a purely ceremonial role as head of state. After all, who wants a purely ceremonial head of state? And who wants the head of government enveloping the non-ceremonial roles of head of state? At the same time be local, not local government so much as clubs, teams, churches, societies - be cultural, not overtly political; anything overtly political has long been subverted and you won't be getting the emails to the 'focus' groups and caucusing that precede any 'public' consultation. Argue all the time about poor service provision - not to the provider, pointless and now even illegal, but go to their professional body, to a solicitor, to the local paper, to the blogs, and with names and place of work and keep a note of everything said and done. Poke your nose into anything that is taking tax payer funding, which now includes many charitable front organisations. Don't confront, but seek redress for non performance. And try for targets you think you can hit, not a scattergun approach. After all, it's our money.

A horrid waste of life and time? Certainly. But that is how authoritarian realised socialism was brought down from within. From without of course the enormous pressures of economic failure, mass poverty next to obvious well being, and the support from outside of advanced capitalist democratic countries did as much. I wonder if the Regime's desperate pressure to deliver England into the EU might backfire quite badly; for the EU is not the left leaning authoritarian system they have produced so faithfully in England in readiness for joined up post democracy and permanent elites, but a centre right Union with much more powerful member states reinforced by their Lisbon-response updated constitutions. The EU relies on its member states to provide democracy within the loose federation of Europe, which is indeed an administrative organisation.

That England is suffering from such a devastating democratic deficit damages this over all structure of democratic member states operating a federalised administration, as well as weakening any influence England might have in federal forums. Either we will provide ourselves again with a proper balance of powers, a rule of law, protected civil liberties, and all the other normal institutions of a capitalist democratic state, or the EU's institutions, reflecting the kinds of democracy embodied in its member states, will fill the vacuum and provide them for us, red lines or no. And we will have a one size fits all kind of democracy instead of the elegance of our bespoke and subtly nuanced democratic dress so wantonly torn to pieces.

Monday, 19 October 2009

A Referendum is not the Best Way for the United Kingdom to Control Lisbon

It is reasonable to assume that when the Czech Constitutional Court responds to the various objections to the Lisbon treaty it is considering currently (the Court convenes on 27 October but not necessarily to give all of its rulings) it will follow the example of the German Constitutional Court and require the strengthening of the Czech Constitution against invasion of Czech self determination by European Union powers while acknowledging broadly that the Lisbon Treaty is not inimical to the Czech Constitution.

This will reassure Czechs concerned about Lisbon's democratic deficit, restrict Lisbon-generated policies to review by Czech state institutions, and satisfy both the European Union federalists by permitting their beloved Treaty to go through, and President Klaus's popularly supported resistance to any real loss of Czech sovereignty.

When Germany was required to pass new laws restricting EU interference in the government of Germany, it was obvious that other member states would withold or reconsider their accession if there was constitutional weakness of their own state to be remedied. Ireland, in Angels' view unwisely, accepted assurances and promises of protocols attached to future treaties rather than adopting the German option of passing fresh constitution-reinforcing laws of their own. Slovakia has now announced that despite having signed Lisbon any concessions given to the Czech Republic, particularly on land and immediate post War resettlement, must be provided for Slovakia too. What Poland has wrung for its signature has not yet come out, but Lisbon was not signed for nothing.

For Prime Minister in waiting David Cameron there are now clear and valid pathways to altering the Lisbon settlement, both within the provision of a beefed-up United Kingdom Constitution, and by post accession adjustment to the Treaty.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

A Middle Class Life-Style is No Longer Available by Democratic Vote

A middle class life-style is no longer available to those on incomes of less than quarter of a million a year. Or to those who have not had the sense to go out and inherit something (as an irritated departing fiancee once put it to a puzzled friend wondering why he was getting dumped). Which is why Members of Parliament are getting so shirty about their 'expenses'.

Expenses are used to provide what is supposed to be the reasonable life style of an MP (again, taken as the reasonable lifestyle of a middle class professional). A house in the constituency, a pied a terre in very central London, staff for house cleaning, laundry, and maintenance including gardening, and enough in the way of wages to pay for school fees and health care, plus the pension supplements. This is the absolute minimum. A middle class life style until quite recently provided also regular journeys in considerable comfort, even by wagon lit, to continental Europe and good hotels or respectable villas in the south of France. (Well, S of F might stretch to including Florence, or even Rome provided nothing between Florence and Rome was counted). Boats and islands were upper class. Freebies, accompanied by wife (insistent, believe me) and/or current squeeze, de rigeur.

This vision (it was your Labour Leader who perpetrated a new meaning to the word 'vision' so no complaints from the back row)) has been promulgated by every propaganda tool - novels, biographies, poems, accounts.... throughout the 20th Century, even post 1945 - and 1945 should have put the kibosh on this nonsense if anything could.

What our 'representatives' in Parliament have been brought face to face with is inflation, (measuring the true rate of inflation has always been problematic: the choice of a basket of goods representative of purchasing power consumption; the weighting of prices insofar as we may choose the weight of the base year or of the current year; international comparisons - either exchange rates can be used for comparison or actual purchasing power exchange rates, again in terms of an arbitrary set of consumption goods, yadda yadda), meritocratic and global competition, and local taxation - just like all the rest of us. And, unlike some of us, they didn't have the sense to go out and inherit something, so busy were they in subscribing to the personally advantageous ideologies that offered egalitarianism, redistribution, the destruction of privilege (and votes) - and not to the values that yielded family, hard work applied to whatever natural endowments and aforesaid inheritance sense available, and individual self fulfilment.

Their response has been gaderene: the construction of an apparatchik caste created and supported by state authoritarian, not democratic, power.

A Musical Interlude

Dutch Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkanende, a possible European President, has denied that he is a contender, dismissing the claim as claptrap.

As any musician will tell you, 'clap trap' is a musical term. A common rhetorical device in baroque music (try Arcangelo Corelli, he uses it a lot) the soloist will play an elaborate and difficult passage followed by a concerted wind down from all the players and a marked pausa, at which point the audience bursts into applause offering encouragement for the soloist to do her party piece all over again.

None of us, the peoples of Europe, have been allowed into the concert of Europe after our behaviour in 2005 when the French insisted on singing the Marseillaise and the English were all lined up, large intake of breath taken, for a rousing chorus of God Save the Queen but hustled out of the concert hall before they got the chance.

We are in the pausa now. The English media is clapping wildly and, again as any musician will tell you, anything can happen in the second time around.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Presidents Klaus and Medvedev Shoulder to Shoulder in Moscow

President Vaclav Klaus's meetings with Dmitry Medvedev in Moscow today were said to be “timely and successful” by the Russian President.

At a press conference after the negotiations the Russian president thanked the Czech leader for the country’s EU successful presidency in the first half of the year, and credited the Czech Republic with the success of the Russia-European Union May summit in Khabarovsk. The Russian president was today discussing “economic projects and the ways out of the global economic crisis” with the President of the Czech Republic.

“We have a very good trade turnover, and despite the crisis we have a chance to increase it, though even now it amounts to billions of euros... Today we concluded a considerable number of contracts worth hundreds of million dollars...". Medvedev went on to emphasize that "Despite the crisis our relations are developing”.

"... economic cooperation with Russia is very important” for the Czech Republic replied President Klaus, adding “We will continue dialogue at the top political level”. (Tass)

Billions of euros of trade, new contracts for hundreds of millions, dialogue at the highest political level.... And they cut short journalists' questions as they were off to meet with Secretary of State Clinton, who is in Russia for bi-lateral talks. The United States has form on holding bi-lateral talks with EU member states and indeed with NATO member states when it has a different agenda from the EU or even NATO. Missile defence shields, and refurbishing the Polish army for instance, were both deals set up and cancelled (cancelled on unknown terms) without reference to NATO or the EU.

President Klaus may not be quite as 'very well, alone' as our media are hoping at the top of their old Europe, Lisbon Treaty voices, nor as vulnerable to disgraceful bullying and worthless promises as was poor Ireland.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Members of Parliament Answer to Us, the Electorate

There should have been a general election called when the scale on which parliamentarary expenses were being abused became clear. Members of Parliament answer first to their electorate, not to their Party, not to themselves and, when they themselves are discovered to be greedy, venal, grasping to the point of fraudulence, not to some hastily constructed set of rules considered to be reasonable - or unreasonable for that matter..

In continuing to obstruct an election Brown obstructs justice as well as democracy.

The Expenses Furore Shows the Centrality of the House of Commons to Our Democracy

The expenses letters were intended to arrive during the long, long summer break, when the under the carpet sweeping could be managed by the Party machine. We know this because many were still addressed to constituencies rather than to be distributed to Members through the parliamentary mail system.

The importance of Parliament sitting much more than it has been permitted to by the New Labour regime could not be more strongly brought out than by the effect of the letters arriving while the House is in session.

Our democracy has suffered dreadfully under New Labour and its post democratic governance ideology, and one of the worst outrages to our democratic system has been the side-lining and down-grading of the House of Commons: government statements and policy announcements made first to the media rather than to the House; curtailing of the working week to effectively only four days; shortening of the parliamentary session; the use of enabling acts guillotined through and then orders placed, undiscussed and unchallenged, by ministers obedient to instruction from a prime ministerial cabal made up of unelected and powerful advisors - complete with the ultimate democratic insult of an unelected prime minister; planted questions and machine-like propaganda statements, rather than answers to those that were not planted; the placing of many ministers in the Lords and beyond answerability to the Commons - our elected Commons; and last but not least a Speaker so blatantly in cahoots with the Executive and its objectives rather than the maintenance of the House and its political, democratic role, he was forced to resign.

Now an attempt is being made to judicially restrain the media from reporting what is said in the House of Commons. What has happened to the separation of powers New Labour was ostensibly so keen to enforce it abolished the office of Lord Chancellor?

We have reached the position where this corrupt and destructive regime will not accede to the overwhelming demand for a general election to clean up their pig sty until the European constitutional treaty has been forced into place and a general election becomes as irrelevant as New Labour have almost succeeded in making our parliamentary democracy.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Lack of a General Election is Threatening the Remains of Our Economy

The United Kingdom's shambles of an economic and financial situation is being held together by the understanding that in the near future there will be a return to government of a sane Conservative administration. Brown will be gone and all his madcap economics and hubristic calls for more spending with him. But the Pound is down to 1.06 against the Euro and falling as investors bail out in the face of his intransigent refusal to resign even with the political and institutional meltdown that is also taking place in the UK during his home grown economic and financial disaster.

Now the goal of the Lisbon Treaty ratification has moved further away with the Czech government demanding opt outs to major aspects of the Treaty; and althought the Czech Constitutional court has dealt with two out of three of the constitutional challenges to Lisbon it has not lifted its prohibition on President Klaus signing the ratification documents. There is a limit to what investors can be asked to risk on holding Brown's regime together just until the Treaty is through. On the first day of the new session of the UK parliament members of the Lower House are receiving letters demanding the return of ill-gotten expenses while members of the Upper House stand revealed in all their expenses scams and the most senior legal officer of the Brown junta is being investigated by her professional body for bringing it into disrepute; yet she refuses to resign her office and is backed in this act of brazen hussiness by Brown.

If the Brown regime denies a long overdue dissolution and general election in these circumstances, the doubt must arise in a cautious mind that they would deny it in any circumstances. And confidence that there will be an incoming Conservative government melts away.

If we don't have a general election at once the instability of the United Kingdom will be too high a risk to take, even for those who have propped up Brown in the interests of advancing post democratic European and global governance..

Cleaning Up After Gordon

Sharing a cleaner is not really what Gordon Brown has done is it? If a cleaner is employed and tax and national insurance paid, the cleaner can't just be used by a wholly separate household/employer and the two employers settle the cost between them. Or we could all avoid paying employment costs by using other people's employees. It's enough of a cheek to charge us all for ironing his beastly shirts and cleaning his beastly house - what's his wife supposed to be doing - but if he needed to employ somebody else he should have acted like an employer, not paid his brother for his 'share'.

And if his brother was acting as his agent then that attracts employment costs as well.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Don't Judge, Don't Ever Judge

Politicians, anyone who puts themselves forward in public life at whatever level, must do so recognising that they have shed the right not to be judged in all and every aspect of their lives. In a democracy they are asking for others' approval, asking for an active judgement to be made, and made in their favour. There can be no curate's egging - choosing what is there for judgement and what is not. People are diverse in their view of what is important, particularly when their cultural stamp is diverse. Their judgements are coloured by age, gender, education, belief system; and, at a more remote level, by ideas of what is beautiful, what is true, what is right that they have evolved themselves with what means they have individually.

Individual experience and its formative powers is what makes judging so unwise. Not the judging of politicians - they have wilfully set aside the civilised protection of not judging that should enclose others. But we cannot begin to know enough about what has mattered most in the lives of ordinary others to permit the kinds of derogation that are going on now about the workless and, more particularly, about the people on incapacity benefits.

Even worse is the government programme (failing of course, but in this instance, thank Goodness) to subject those who are in despair at their objective circumstances, to cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is psychoanalysis on the cheap - well it would be offered by New Labour, wouldn't it? Millions have been poured away to train psychotherapists and send them out to convince the workless, uneducated, unskilled, more recently unemployed, socially and economically discarded, living in ghettos of the above, that they need a new attitude to life, positive, outgoing, more conforming to New Labour social values and that thus they will re-enter the mainstream of usefully employed with families and homes.

It's repellent reading condemnations of the workshy, the new feckless poor, the benefit dependent, the seekers after all and any welfare payment. Very rarely are people wholly responsible for the position in which they find themselves. More usually they are without benefit of skills, wages, family support structures, or hope of setting themselves up in ordinary but enjoyable life. These are not factors under personal control - at least wholly under personal control. We have chosen, under New Labour, as a society, to put their usual provision in the care of the state. Individuals cannot cope with the state, not alone and not without self confidence at extraordinary levels which, by definition, the state-dependent have not got.

Most people hope to be in a world that is reasonably benign. Under a dozen years of New Labour the world has grown deliberately and destructively malign for most. Don't judge. The price of what New Labour has done must be paid for not just in debt and taxes but in paying, of our humanity, for what has been done to those least able to defend themselves.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Blair is Bad News for European Leadership and Hopes for a European Voice

The desperate defence (by some factions of the Labour party) of Gordon Brown as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom until the Lisbon Treaty has come into effect, has been attributed widely to the Conservative commitment to hold a referendum on Lisbon and campaign for a No vote if it Lisbon is not in place by the time the Conservatives come to power.

There is, also, another Conservative commitment that is helping to hold Brown in place: William Hague's undertaking to hold a Public Inquiry into the circumstances in which the United Kingdom was taken to war against Iraq, and the conduct of that war. Such an Inquiry would blight for good a Blair candidacy for the presidency or foreign relations post that the imposition of the Lisbon Treaty on the European Union would create.

Of course there has already been an attempt to indict Blair for war crimes which failed under United Kingdom law. Any attempt to bring Blair to answer for his behaviour over Iraq, under the absolute clampdown operated by the current Executive on information on both the legality of going to war and the conduct of the war, made that a foregone conclusion. A fully empowered Public Inquiry would alter this completely. And while indictment might still be prevented in our country, there are other jurisdictions that run in the UK that would not be so easy to control, once information has been put in the public domain.

There are two corollaries to this: first that no matter how important it is for our economic and financial credibility that Brown is ignored and credence is given to there being a Conservative administration in fairly short order, that national greater good will be sacrificed to keeping Brown in office until Lisbon is through and Blair is boosted into high office in the European Union. Second that if this objective is achieved, so damaging would it be to the newly constituted European Union to have either its president or its foreign affairs representative indicted for war crimes, immense pressure would be applied to prevent any further inquiry into the Iraq war.

Those who support a more federal Europe and a European voice in the world should perhaps register what is at stake here for Blair and his coterie. There are many europeanists, particularly in continental Europe, who bitterly contested the Iraq war and know that it amply fulfilled their worst fears. They should try very hard to disengage their objectives from those whose interest is at least as much in burying Blair's and New Labour's collaboration in the illegal prosecution of wars of primitive accumulation.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Sort Out the Democratic Deficit in the United Kingdom First

The faultlines of the British Constitution deface our political landscape. Without a formally constituted English Parliament we are condemned to subjugating policy to the agendas and vagaries of Labour's coalition with Scottish-elected MPs, Irish Unionists determined to their last breath to deny the reunification of Ulster and of Ireland itelf, and Wales, as in the position of Italy and Mandelson - 'Italy is Italy', ' Peter will continue to be Peter', Wales will go on singing its ancient lays.

Constitutional renewal is as urgent as it is unacceptable to the current British political establishment of all parties.

Crown prerogative in the hands of the prime minister is elective feudalism. Many prerogative powers must be transferred to the electorate's representatives. As the monarchy is nothing more than a prop to Executive arrogance, we can do without it, for who could argue for such a front to the power in the hands of the Executive except those who hold it and those who hope to win it? The monarchy and its institutional beneficiaries should be displaced by an elected President. If America can then so can we. If the current hereditary head of state had any democratic function she would have functioned in the interest of the democracy long ago.

Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland must be excluded from their pernicious influence on England's governance, as the sudden trip of the unelected Scottish prime minister of the UK to Ireland underlines. What does he want? Votes. Where does he get them? Ireland and Scotland.

Time to stop blaming the European Union for the United Kingdom's democratic deficit. And if the EU requires elected, bite-sized, English regions then at least let us be rid of the Scotch, the Irish and the Welsh, who can go and sit in their own countries while we sort out the power relations of England.

Monday, 5 October 2009

What We Have We Hold

Inheritance tax is paid by the poor not the well to do and the rich. Currently 40% tax is due on any part of an estate over 350,000 (pounds or euros, there's no difference now). That's not a lot of wealth to leave after a lifetime's work, it represents a modest dwelling and some savings before even considering a small business.

And no matter what class based politics say, normal people do not expect to pay all their lives for health care and then be required to pay again for it at the end either; and included in their commonsense notion of health care is nursing care and assistance with the extra costs of being old. So pre death wealth taxes on the poor are even worse.

Labour's pretence that there is some kind of moral, equality, redistributive stance that justifies removing the fruits of a family's labour at every passing of a generation is well understood in its dishonesty except by the Labour rump. People who have worked and saved and provided for themselves all their lives, who have paid their very stiff taxes into state provision and often not used it much until the end, but recognised the justice of providing for all, are not going to accept the final grab by vindictive class politicians and their client supporters.

There are complex technical arguments about the effects of death taxes and intergenerational wealth distribution, but the democratic political arguments are very clear and simple: families are the building blocks of our society and their cohesion is in part determined by family wealth generated and administered within the family acting in its own members' interests, so naturally set above those of the wider society. Labour doesn't like that. They have atomised social relations and abused their political power to break up family life. They have made the poor rat run through morally hazardous, mean- tested benefit and tax systems.

Just as raising the level at which income tax becomes payable at all releases the working people from their benefits dependencies on the Labour state, removing ordinary people from subjugation to death taxes helps families not to require tax-funded benefits in the first place.

Assisting members of the next generation who have no family resources to fall back on is not furthered by confiscating the resources of those who have.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Fair's Fair

Boris Johnson told The Mail on Sunday:

'A referendum ... sends the message that we don’t want some big magnifico swanning round the globe purporting to be acting on our behalf when we haven’t even been consulted as to whether it should be Tony Blair or not.’

Goodness. The suggestion that post Lisbon the UK (and no doubt subsequently every other member state) should have a referendum on who is to be 'the big magnifico' is quite a shot across the bows. The European Union needs to watch its step on the post agreement codicils every state is adding to its ratification. If a reserved power is there for one member state it must be there for all.

We Are Threatened by More than the EU's Democratic Deficit

It is not just the European Union that finds a United Kingdom defenceless to its objectives and their expression through law and regulation decided outside our own Parliament. The 'global' progressive post democrats push agendas and their implementation onto our country without even being identified fully as just as bad.

'Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the IMF’s managing director, aims to bring forward proposals for a worldwide bank tax. He told the meetings [in Istanbul being attended by the current Chancellor of the Exchequer, ed.] that a “Tobin tax” on financial transactions, favoured by Lord Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority, was not practicable.

A broader bank tax, with proceeds paid into a fund for international development and to be used to mitigate the effects of future crises, could work, he said. A team under John Lipsky, an IMF deputy managing director, is to work on it.' (Sunday Times)

There can be no objection to discussions at 'conferences', 'summits', Get-togethers known as G something, more and less exclusive awaydays in the latest attractive mountain resort; fun if you can get the invites - Angels was very taken with ski-jumping (well we would be wouldn't we and Adam Malysz is a lovely person) - but they are not democratic venues.

Democratic decision-taking happens in elected parliaments, open to scrutiny, responsive to changing circumstances and implementing the manifesto of the elected government. Angels are old fashioned like that, we expect our representatives to represent us and we choose them on the programme they and we wish to have implemented.

It must not be 'who you know that counts' [Mandelson, ed.] And it is our constitutional empowerment, our direct and clear means of redress for any infringing of our long drawn out and so painfully negotiated settlement with state power that must be reaffirmed by candidates for our governance. Denouncing the democratic deficits of entities that seek to rule us is not enough. We can instal our own defences against them, if we have the will, and the process is wholly under our control and consent.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

The Conservatives Must Provide the United Kingdom With a Constitution as Robust as Those of Other EU Member States

There is nothing in the Lisbon Treaty that cannot be controlled by a decent constitution. As Germany and now the Czech Republic have shown, Lisbon and the European Union are subject to a member state's constitution. How unfortunate then that the United Kingdom's constitution, underdetermined and dependent on honourable and honest interpretation at best, has been wrecked by New Labour over the last dozen years.

To all intents and purposes, certainly those of post democratic progressive governance, we do not have any constitution or means of constitutional redress whatever. Our constitution is wholly under the control of our government and our government has chosen to trash it.

Instead of the vehement protests against the Lisbon Treaty, in an attempt to prevent the taking away of those of our ancient rights and privileges by foreigners which have not been removed already by home grown socialist authoritarians, our incoming government should install a constitution that defends our citizens from any overbearing EU interference in our basic freedoms as UK citizens. Germany has a Basic Law that cannot be infringed by any EU measure and a Constitutional Court to give rulings and enforce them; that's what the delay in Germany's acceptance of Lisbon was all about, as the Basic Law was reinforced in the German Parliament. That is what the appeal by the Czech senators to their Constitutional Court is all about too - ensuring the protection of the Czech people from European Union impertinence and authoritarianism. Other member states have bulwarks and redress entrenched in their state institutions.

We can do that as well, entirely within our own country's powers and capacities. Defence from European intrusion is not in anyone else's hands but our own. When Mr Cameron states that should the Lisbon Treaty be already accepted by all 27 member states before his government enters office matters will not rest there, this provision of our own constitutionally entrenched defences against European Union control in our lives is most certainly what he means. And much more effective than any referendum.

Scotland and England Forcibly United Again

The Meteorological Office issued the following gale warning:

"There is a moderate risk of severe weather affecting parts of southern Scotland and north east England along with parts of Cumbria on Saturday. Westerly winds will gust 50-60mph at times with gusts to 70mph possible."

The Gordon Brown 'I'm not unelected, I'm North British' mouthpiece formerly known as the Telegraph headlined it like this:

Gale warnings for northern Britain.

They aren't giving up easily on the man who is wrecking the UK are they?

Light the Blue Touchpaper and Retire

Regardless of how the Irish referendum on Lisbon goes today, the New Labour operation to upset the concentration of the Conservative Conference on what is to be done in the debacle that Brown and Blair have made of our country is underway.

All of a sudden 'senior government sources' [read Mandelson, ed.] are claiming that by the end of the month Lisbon will have anointed Blair as president of the EU. Indeed. There are more than insurmountable institutional and bureaucratic obstacles in the way of such a fantasy.

But if it serves to waylay the Conservatives and prevent their discussion and presentation of their solutions to the crisis Brown has plunged us all into, if attention can be drawn to the very reasonable Conservative reflection of the widespread democratic unease in all parties and all member states on the implementation of the Lisbon treaty or anything like such a treaty called by any other name, then the Conservatives can be portrayed as same old, same old without the unity and clarity of purpose this country needs in the crisis that started in America, anywhere but with Brown and the New Labour cabal's incompetence and corruption.

Concentration on what can be done for the United Kingdom, and least of all on Europe, will turn this propaganda into a damp squib.

Friday, 2 October 2009

What's the Hurry Over Lisbon?

Today Irish voters are being hustled back to the polls to alter their decision on accepting the Lisbon Treaty. The reasons why they rejected it last time remain outstanding.

Interference with Ireland's tax affairs and, particularly, their ability to use tax rates to attract companies and businesses to set up or remain in Ireland.

Interference on their social and cultural practices and beliefs, in particular interference on deliberately induced miscarriage.

A reduction in Ireland's level of representation on the European Union Commission by making it possible to have a commissioner only 10 years out of every 15.

The imposition of a Union wide military policy that offends Ireland's constitutional neutrality.

The weakening of Ireland's borders to immigration from economically and/or culturally inappropriate member states.

Interference with wage bargaining and conditions of work.

To which list can be added: alteration of the terms on which Germany has agreed to ratify the Treaty so that the Treaty is always subject to rulings of the German Constitutional court in its application to and effects upon German citizens. This last reservation is now being sought for the Czech Republic's citizens as well. The German reservations are embedded in Germany's Constitution, as those of the Czech Republic will be in their own constitution if the appeal to their Constitutional court succeeds. The Irish people have merely assurances from the European Union that their concerns will be met in a later Treaty, possibly tacked onto the end of the Croation Accession Treaty in a couple of years, if there is one, Croatia having a number of difficulties over its entry into the EU.

Will the Irish people be foolish to the point of conceding all of the above with only 'assurances', and some of those from a Scottish Presbyterian liar desperate to prevent reopening of any part of the Treaty?

There is a precedent for unseemly hurry among the protagonists of New Labour's post democratic progressive governance cabal: when John Smith died on 12 May 1994 Margaret Beckett took over the Leadership of the Party (as the Rule book required on the permanent unavailability of the Leader while the Party is in Opposition). Most of the Labour party were in favour of elections for the leadership at the Conference in the Autumn so that proper consultations could be undertaken throughout the various constituencies of the Party as a whole. The NEC forced elections as early as 21 July to get Blair in before other candidatures, or the Beckett leadership, could establish themselves.

Looking at the Times headlines this morning the same pattern seems to be there. Get Blair in by establishing he is The One before the Treaty has even passed. The Irish people need to weigh the chances that any of the assurances they are being touted will be honoured under such a presidency. The EU needs to reconsider Lisbon under all the changes that are required by some of the member states, and in keeping with the dramatic shift in political stance being expressed electorally in so many of them.