Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Vote! Vote! Vote!

Voting has many purposes. The most obvious is to elect the candidate the voter wants. Or to keep out the candidate the voter does not want. Voting to express commitment to the democratic system comes lower on the list of reasons. And pushing that commitment further and further away from importance is a deliberate policy of any authoritarian government.

It is much easier to control the democratic element in governance by devaluing the effects of the vote and reducing democratic participation. This is done by replacing elected representatives by parallel administrations, made up of appointees and placemen, that are better funded by the central Executive and subvert the decisions of the elected body - all decisions, not just those disliked and in opposition to central policies. The aim is to drain all power away from democratic choice.

The tactic of making a democratic vote seem a pointless exercise is furthered by deliberate and constant propaganda that there's no point as they're all the same anyway; the voting system makes it impossible to change anything and, the corollary to this, the voting system is being changed or is now too complex and makes it impossible to express a choice. Reports of 100,000 spoiled ballots on ballot papers deliberately obfuscated, unwanted effects from second and third preferences, there will be a very low turn-out .... all feed into this.

Making voting a daunting undertaking is another ploy. By holding elections on working days, limiting the hours in which votes can be cast in a 24/7 society (certainly in the big cities), siting voting places in unfamiliar environments, ringing the casting of the vote with rules and instructions on minute matters of behaviour and threats of invalidation. The list goes on and on.

The result is that the voters think it's not worth it, they're all the same, I can't make any difference, I'm tired after work, and have things to do this evening, apart from looking after the children, I don't know how to do it and I don't know the place I'm supposed to go and do it in. They want a polling card or something I haven't got, and I'll be in trouble if I spoil the ballot.

It's all done on purpose, all the time, a relentless blizzard of Don't Vote.

Go and vote. Go with a friend, take all the children. Go with the dog and make one of those faintly intimdatory figures outside asking for your polling number when you come out to hold his lead while you're inside. If you feel uncertain about how to vote, ask the people inside to explain it again to you; they will, very pleasantly. Vote for who you fancy and forget the clever footwork. All the votes are counted and, at a level beyond which candidate is actually elected, there is a plebiscite effect. Every vote speaks even if every vote doesn't immediately count.

Don't listen to the detractors and Dementors.


Sunday, 27 April 2008

Il Marcio Su Roma

Tomorrow the polls close at 3pm on the elections for the mayor of Rome. The first round, which coincided with the vote in the general election that gave power to Berlusconi and the Northern Leagues, resulted in 46% for the Democratic Party's Rutelli, and 40% for the dyed-in-the-wool Fascist, Alemanno.

The Right is rallying to Alemanno, with a programme fired and enthused by anti- immigrant, large public works, lower taxes, and social housing policies. There is no explanation of how lower taxes can yield public works and council housing.

The Left, with its extreme edges fraying into grouplets and factions, its trotskyoids and greenery-yalleries, are threatening the Democratic, reasonable, moral governance of the city by their failure to support Rutelli in the first round, and 'demands' in the second.

It is hard to decide who is worse, between the two sets of extremists and authoritarians.


Alemanno has been elected mayor of Rome. So much for the Rainbow Left and their betrayal of decency in the name of ideological purity.

Bloomsbury Round 3: Stakes Out

'A4200 ‘Bloomsbury Corridor’ Parallel Initiatives Study:
Invitation to the third Stakeholder Workshop – 19th May 2008

I am pleased to invite you to the third stakeholder workshop being held as part of the A4200 ‘Bloomsbury corridor’ study for the London Borough of Camden. The corridor runs along Southampton Row, Russell Square, Woburn Place, Tavistock Square and Upper Woburn Place. The study aims to deliver a more attractive and user-friendly area [for Olympic representatives and the Olympics media, Ed.]

This workshop brings together the work carried out to date by the project team and the views of stakeholders on the options developed [these were reported on Angels earlier, Ed.] In this sense, the study team will present the ideas that will form part of the forthcoming public consultation.

Light refreshments will be served from 6pm.

I attach the notes from the second workshop held in February.'

A full report on the battle for Bloomsbury, in its grand institutional and research mode, together with its shops, traders, mixed housing, squares and gardens, settled population and their services (we need a secondary school south of the Euston Road) and no division of eastern Bloomsbury from western Bloomsbury (corridor indeed) mode, will be given after 19 May Stakeholder meeting, Ed.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Just In Time to Protect Ourselves From Brown's Madness

Most households operate with a just-in-time philosophy even if they are unaware of it. Households' inventory suppliers are their supermarkets, which are run, too, on just-in-time principles, though more consciously so. What began in Toyota in Japan has become the predominant life style of advanced, highly urbanised societies. Just-in-time has brought great advantages: standardised quality of goods; higher urban densities as storage and processing space is reduced; economies in storage and processing costs as these are supplied further up the supply chain; optimised use of various production factors.....

Unfortunately just-in-time is intensely vulnerable to the slightest disturbance in the supply chain, or any feeder supply - like petrol and diesel and, consequently, the transport system.

So get in your car, fill it up with petrol, then fill it up inside with staples of all and every kind but, especially the heavier things like washing machine liquid and other household detergents, tinned goods like tomatoes; packaged water; flour, rice, pasta, dried pulses, sugar; and do the light but unwieldy stuff too, loo paper, other household papers, breakfast cereals, nibbles and crisps...

Outsourcing inventory saves money, but when prices are rising as household supply prices are, and the government has succeeded in allowing a dispute about pensions, for those who are not yet employed by a company, to result in cutting off the Forties field and closing down 40% of the United Kingdom refinery capacity, it is time to act against the madness of Brown before he reaches right into your larder and empties the shelves.

It's Rabies Now

An outbreak of rabies is feared after a rabid dog bit three people. The United Kingdom doesn't do rabies, at least it didn't before Jonah.

Bail Out Under European Examination

Fears that the Bank of England intervention in support of the UK's banks and financial system will be regarded as state aid to a failing sector and fall foul of the European Union competition rules are widespread and well founded.

Gordon Brown's undivided attention for the last 11 years has reduced the mainstay of the United Kingdom economy to the status of Alitalia.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Managing Mr Brown

What is the Labour party to do as poll after poll shows them that they really do have a 'Loser not a Leader'? Tessa Jowell's revelation that the London election campaign to keep Ken in power is being guided by Tony Blair, Alistair Campbell and Philip Gould shows the Labour party dilemma in tableau.

Labour must hold London but large numbers of London voters have just had their taxes raised by Brown's last budget effects coming into force a week before the vote. What kind of political management was that, didn't Labour realise these destructive measures would coincide with the London elections? Or did Brown really keep everyone, including the business managers in the Party, in the dark and spring them as a complete surprise last year? And if he did, what kind of behaviour is that as well?

Labour has lost control of the political timetable because of the secretive compulsions of its strange Leader. There are reports that it has taken weeks of blandishments to get Brown to understand that it is wrong to raise taxes on the poor; while he accepts it might be causing political difficulties, he hasn't accepted it at all and is now pretending he didn't agree to the deal that Darling and the Treasury offered Frank Field and large numbers of furious and frightened Labour MPs to withdraw their threat to vote against the government on Monday. As a result the threat is restored and the numbers of government opponents has increased.

Labour cannot really oust yet another leader without calling an election, both for the leadership and for the country. The end of this Parliament is too close now.

Perhaps it would be best if Brown were to be made to understand that his health cannot allow him to continue after the end of this session, a caretaker leader be installed to oversee the choice of new leader, and a general election held in the Autumn. The deepening shadow of the election that never was, both for the leadership last summer and the country last Autumn, has blighted the Labour party for long enough . Brown will cost them London, the local elections, and office if he isn't managed into retirement.

Tears Before Bedtime

Take out a mortgage you can't afford by self certifying your income, then default on your payments. Overdraw your current account without authorisation. Max out as many credit cards as you can get hold of and then default on those too. Declare yourself to be self-employed for social face but really register for benefits. Save nothing, least of all for a pension.

I've got it all wrong and brought the children up wrongly too. I never thought of the New Labour state taking on all and every debt and reproving the slightest gesture towards rewarding or enforcing financial responsibility either on the part of the Bank of England or on the part of the high street banks.

And inflation will wipe away the debt, but will it wipe away the tears?

No By-Elections

The current High Commissioner of Malawi is due to leave at the end of next January.

Jack McConnell, former First Minister of Scotland, and the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, denied that he had been given the job as a consolation prize by Gordon Brown after Labour's election defeat in Scotland, to encourage him to step down as Labour leader at Holyrood so that Brown's protegee Wendy Alexander could be imposed as leader on the parliamentary Labour party in the Scottish parliament. His majority in his Motherwell and Wishaw constituency was slashed from over 9000 to under 6000 as the SNP took power last year. (The other Scottish MP for the same constituency who sits in the Westminster parliament has a majority of 15,000 - the whole area should be solid Labour.)

Mr McConnell confirmed he would leave the parliament before taking up his new position but at Westminster parliamentary committee hearings on why a senior diplomatic post had been given to someone from outside the diplomatic service, he stated: "I don't have an expectation that this new position will start early next year or even at all next year. I think it will be determined by the interests of the UK government." He said also: "I can give the committee an assurance that the starting date would not be influenced by trying to pick a particular date for a by- election,""Circumstances could change over the next few months that might lead to a different skill set being needed for a certain period of time," he said. The Foreign Office needed the scope to put in a temporary High Commissioner.

John Horam (Conservative) : "The only thing I can think of is that the government wants some wriggle-room when it comes to holding a by-election."

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Poverty and Inequality

A 16 year old leaving school and starting work is unlikely to command a wage of more than £18,000 a year before stoppages. Starting out in life, it would be reasonable if no tax was due on a necessarily low income; but when the first band of tax is doubled then a young worker is almost certain to be pushed into debt by New Labour's tax ferocity. There is no redress, even if the young tax payer suddenly faced with a doubling of their tax rate would be willing to submit to the means test. For there is no benefit, universal or means-tested, available. There are benefits for the workless, for the young mother, but not for the young worker, just punitive taxation.

There are benefits for the young who continue their learning outside the workplace. But for the 16 year old continuing to study, the means test is applied to the generation above them, to their parents, despite there being no certainty that a student can access the wealth and income that belongs to others. So although the age for entry to independent study at university level is 17, many are beginning university level courses at school with, by definition, inferior teaching and inadequate library and laboratory provision; and again, it is the New Labour regime that has removed universal free tertiary education and maintenance grants to the qualified, as it opened expensive and valuable resources to many unable to use or benefit from them.

Post 16 school and college allowances are determined by parental means testing too, so that fierce disincentives to continuing to study are systemically present. When the appalling policy of raising the obligatory school-leaving age to 18 is added to these factors, it is clear that a determination to infantilize and control the young is operating.

The working young should be encouraged in their independence by not facing punitive taxation. The young pursuing learning should be encouraged in their work by the provision of grants either means-tested on their own means - though numbers of independently wealthy among 16 to 21 year olds are miniscule - or support should be a universal benefit for those qualified to undertake the course of study.

Poverty does indeed result in inequality. All the young are poor and have a claim upon the generosity and resources of our society, but New Labour should stop discriminating among them wearing ideological blinkers that produce perverse rewards and crippled life chances in the name of fairness and opportunity for all.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Creating the Client State

Brown had first commissioned work on scrapping the 10p rate in 2003; he considered it for the 2005 and 2006 Budgets. (writes John Rentoul in the Independent).

This was no unconsidered effect of a coup de theatre for his last budget. Brown planned impoverishing those who were not already caught in his spider's web of high taxes and benefit claims, planned it for years.

"...it is his intention to return to this issue in future Budgets and the Pre-Budget Report. He does want to look more at what we can do for those on the lowest incomes, just as we have done in previous budgets...We will be consulting with stakeholders, with MPs, and with different groups on the next phase...' He plans to entangle, too, the young and newly employed, the old and newly retired, and the lowest paid without children in his Shelob's lair.

"A little way ahead and to our left..., issuing from a black hole of shadow under the cliff, the most loathly shape that we had ever beheld, horrible beyond the horror of an evil dream. Most like a spider..., but huger than the greatest hunting beasts, and more terrible than they because of the evil purpose in her remorseless eyes... there they were lit with a fell light again, clustering in her out-thrust head. Great horns she had, and behind her short stalk-like neck was her huge swollen body, a vast bloated bag, swaying and sagging between her legs; its great bulk was black, blotched with livid marks, but the belly underneath was pale and luminous and gave forth a stench. Her legs were bent, with great knobbed joints high above her back, and hairs that stuck out like steel spines, and at each leg's end there was a claw.
As soon as she had squeezed her soft squelching body and its folded limbs out of the upper exit from her lair, she moved with a horrible speed, now running her creaking legs, now making a sudden bound.'

Come on Frodo, I mean Frank!

Scottish Raj in Westminster Fails the Poor Throughout the UK

Andrew Mackinlay, MP for Thurrock in Essex, (reports the Times), suggested the sensitivity of the party’s high command to the issue, (doubling the tax rate for the poorest in the country), was blunted by the fact that local elections are not taking place in Scotland, where so much of the Labour establishment is based.

“If they had been going to the polls in Scotland next week, the political antennae would have picked this up and we wouldn’t be where we are now,” he said. “This might have done 10 days ago. It won’t do now.”

A Commons Committee reporting next June with recommendations that will be ignored by the arrogant politicians, elected by Scots in Scottish constituencies, who are running the Treasury and the New Labour Executive, including the Prime Minister who has only ever won an election in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, is not remotely good enough.

Scotland has a prime minister, Alex Salmond, and its own parliament. And very good they are at running their country in a decent and reasonable fashion. Who on earth are these other Scots infesting our lives, in all their incompetence and dishonesty, at Westminster?

Divide and Rule

Multiculturalism and Diversity ideology divides our society into groups identified by characteristics that should bear no weight in choices and actions that are at society-wide levels. It is clear now that the same pernicious thinking has been used in economic and financial policy pursuits. Pensioners, children, hard-working families, the disadvantaged (various), have all been separated from one another and the generality, to be the target of policy objectives and policy justifications.

The truth is that just as all of us need our streets safe, our bins emptied, our schools educating, our army defending, our judges upholding the law, so too most of us are quite poor. Yet this 'progressive' New Labour junta, in its actions and in its ideological stance, insist on removing our money and handing it round their current priority groups.

Children and their poverty is a favourite. Well, my children are not under sixteen. No longer children, their wages can be taxed at double the rate of a year ago. Is sixteen suddenly a rite of passage out of worthiness and into targethood for rapacious Labour tax and spend policies? But eighteen year olds entering university are children and are poor. Unless their parents' income, used as the benchmark for determining their poverty or otherwise, excludes them from assistance with fees and living costs, even though the wealth is not theirs at all.

Most people under 30 are single and already handing over a large conribution, willing or not, to families and the workless. Now they are handing over double the amount, because they are not poor. Only by any reasonable measure, such as income, they are poor, but they don't count.

Pensioners are poor, unless they are single women, when they are not and must have their tax doubled. And so it goes on.

For over 10 years taxation, benefits, and spending policies have been in the micro-managing, bogey-covered hands of an intellectually underpowered, controlling, sly, lying, trotskyoid fanatic. They should have been both widely debated, agreed, and under the control of a clever, informed and competent technician with a sane and compassionate understanding of the possibilities of government and the alleviation of need in all classes and estates.

The Labour government had such person and gave him office. He was the Leader's first target and victim after Labour was elected. Brown then worked his way steadily through the Party and many of its ministers until he brought down the Prime Minister we elected, and usurped his place as he had that of Frank Field a decade earlier.

Brown Gets It At Last:“We cannot have the Budget defeated."

The Leader is going to feel our pain. “I understand how difficult it is out there. I understand that people out there are fighting the elections and questions are being asked. With food prices rising, fuel prices rising, people want to know that we do get it, that we understand what is happening to them... [Isn't the government fighting the elections. Brown seems to think he's above winning votes and influencing people].

"Issues have come up in the past. We have dealt with those." [He's lost it here; what is he talking about?]

"We have a responsibility to listen, to hear and to understand what has been said." The man is so differently-abled he has to be instructed on how human beings interact with one another then accidentally reads out the instructions on his brief that are written in to help him to appear normal; he'll be reading out "look up, smile", next.

The pretence that nearly five and a half million poor people are not made even poorer by New Labour tax taking, sustained for months until payslips arrived with the money gone (Brown actually demanded to be shown payslips proving people are being impoverished! What is he on?) has finally been brought to an end.

When will he grasp that if the New Labour tax take had been less onerous during their failed years in power, people would not have had to support their living standards by credit card borrowing and remortgaging their houses.

Monday, 21 April 2008

New Labour Executive Losing Ability to Set Taxes

The Leader is being challenged on a second tax rise imposed, in his last budget before ousting the elected prime minister, last year. This time the challenge comes from outside Parliament. The 2p rise in fuel duty, on which a delay until next October has been forced already, will now be contested across the United Kingdom by campaigners organised by the the People's Fuel Lobby. As well, Grangemouth oil refinery in Scotland has begun shutting down as threatened industrial action by the trade union Unite, in defence of its members wages and conditions, is met by action to protect the plant by Ineos management.

Major parliamentary,Party, popular, industrial and union challenges to Executive decisions to tax us even more heavily are gathering speed and strength. There is only one way to resolve such widespread and effective challenges to government authority under a democracy. The voters should be offered party manifestos that embody their choices, and consulted in a General Election on who they want to exercise power.


John Hutton, Minister Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform took emergency powers yesterday. These include: police impounding lorries, arresting drivers and stripping them of their operators' licences; invoking anti-terror laws; rationing petrol and ring fencing supplies to privileged users, mobilising troops. Police already have powers to break-up blockades of oil refineries, and clear petrol station forecourts and approaches of queueing motorists.

A Citizens' Income

Over the centuries a citizens' income has been regarded variously as, for instance, a credit due for the appropriation of originally commonly owned natural resources, or as an entitlement originating in today's superior productivity with respect to subsistence. A basic income, regardless of personal circumstances, by virtue of citizenship, is a fine objective. It is so expensive only the unreasonable would not reply instantly, 'How is it to be done'.

James Meade, in his Agathotopia (a good place, rather than utopia which is nowhere) advocated the replacement of wages by a participatory income, a share of enterprise value added. This gave workers higher and more secure employment, but more uncertain earnings - hence the need for a citizens' income. A citizens' income would be funded either from income from state assets - if and when the state had managed to transform the national debt into net state assets, or through a sequence of government budget surpluses, or via progressive taxation (plus taxes on pollution, as well as on advertising which he regarded as a form of pollution).

Milton Friedman regarded a citizens' income as an enhancement of individual choice, a substitute for paternalistically chosen benefits in kind. It is interesting to consider that post-socialist transition countries could have used public capital to fund such an income, instead of dilapidating it through mass privatisation.

A citizen's income for Silvio Berlusconi or Bill Gates is a small price to pay for the ending of means tested, state paternalism. And charitable giving by recipients who felt in no current need would be better than any allocations determined by the ideology of the authoritarian state.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Can Doubling Taxes on the Poor Be Justified For It Cannot be Withdrawn

Making war and raising taxes are the central powers of any state.

New Labour doubled taxes on the poorest workers. Now, if the New Labour Executive backs down on its taxation decisions, reinforced by their having been voted through the Parliament using the fullest Labour majority, then the government, and especially its Leader who raised the tax against the poorest when Chancellor, will be truly in office but not in power.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Wales Is Not New Labour

Westminster prime minister Gordon Brown has been criticised for abolishing the 10% tax rate, which had been introduced to benefit the lowest income workers. While raising taxes on the poorest working people in the country is to be condemned as contemptible, another effect may not have yet been calculated. Good governance in Scotland, at last free of a half-century and longer throttling by the Labour party, is being watched closely by Wales, the other devolved state in New Labour's country of the Nations and the Regions.

Welsh working people, too, are badly affected by the 10% tax rate abolition. Up to now Plaid Cymru has not enjoyed the same widespread and rapidly growing commitment displayed in Scotland to the Scottish National Party since it gained power and the long echoes of the Labour Movement's historic grasp on the working class died away. Apart from hopes by the Conservatives that their strength in Wales is not reduced to virtual nothingness as it is in Scotland, there should be great fear too, in New Labour, that Welsh voters will choose Welsh nationalism rather than the Conservative or Liberal Democrat opposition, to drive home their final loss of faith in a United Kingdom New Labour government that has suborned the name of their party but delivered insults and disadvantage to most of the Welsh people.

The Marketplace of Ideas Or No Platform

That people might be swayed by emotion rather than reason sets up a false opposition. Feeling is an excellent means of forming a view. Reason is so often feeling in gaudy.

Yet it is this false opposition that underpins the argument for the objectionable New Labour propaganda stance of No Platform. All of a piece with its social and cultural authoritarianism, it attempts to argue the morality, not just the political convenience, of denying any discussion of contentious public policies. Policies such as redistributive taxation, world policing of 'failed states', multiculturalism, the fecklessness of some working age benefit dependents, positive discrimination, justice and punishment - fill in according to choice.

On all of these matters no opinion has been expressed in this post. But so relentlessly has the ideology of No Platform been driven, by the state broadcasting system, by newspapers kept afloat by state advertising, by pressures within all educational institutions - schools, universities, and state-funded research and development agencies, by trade unions and by workplaces where these predominate like local authorities, quangos and non-governmental Third Sector organisations, etc., that there is an implication or presumption of racialism, discrimination against designated sectors, genders, statuses, or illegal thought crime, from even mentioning them.

Effectively large areas of public policy have been removed from public debate justified on spurious grounds of iffy Fabian political philosophies over individual choice and thought. As any fule no:

"If you believe in freedom of speech, you believe in freedom of speech for views you don't like. Goebbels was in favor of freedom of speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you're in favor of freedom of speech, that means you're in favor of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise."

But then Noam Chomsky is a Hero.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Cutting the Inflation Rate is Easy and Benefits Everyone.

Two ways to cut the cost of living for everyone instantaneously:

End charging for owning a television; those who wish to watch BBC can pay as they go.

Slash the duty on petrol and diesel; the Labour government is taking far too much off drivers and road transporters under the current high supplier prices for oil.

Egalitarianism for Benefits Claimants

There are two groups of people who can claim on the tax payer to furnish their houses with what might be called the basics - beds, cookers, other kitchen and dining equipment, table and chairs etc.

The two groups of benefits claimants are members of Parliament and, well, benefits claimants. I wonder if both groups are referred to John Lewis?

Thursday, 17 April 2008

A Subaltern's Love Song Ends

Miss J. Hunter Dunn, Miss J. Hunter Dunn,
Furnish'd and burnish'd by Aldershot sun,
What strenuous singles we played after tea,
We in the tournament - you against me!

Love-thirty, love-forty, oh! weakness of joy,
The speed of a swallow, the grace of a boy,
With carefullest carelessness, gaily you won,
I am weak from your loveliness, Joan Hunter Dunn.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
How mad I am, sad I am, glad that you won,
The warm-handled racket is back in its press,
But my shock-headed victor, she loves me no less.

Her father's euonymus shines as we walk,
And swing past the summer-house, buried in talk,
And cool the verandah that welcomes us in
To the six-o'clock news and a lime-juice and gin.

The scent of the conifers, sound of the bath,
The view from my bedroom of moss-dappled path,
As I struggle with double-end evening tie,
For we dance at the Golf Club, my victor and I.

On the floor of her bedroom lie blazer and shorts,
And the cream-coloured walls are be-trophied with sports,
And westering, questioning settles the sun,
On your low-leaded window, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

The Hillman is waiting, the light's in the hall,
The pictures of Egypt are bright on the wall,
My sweet, I am standing beside the oak stair
And there on the landing's the light on your hair.

By roads "not adopted", by woodlanded ways,
She drove to the club in the late summer haze,
Into nine-o'clock Camberley, heavy with bells
And mushroomy, pine-woody, evergreen smells.

Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, Miss Joan Hunter Dunn,
I can hear from the car park the dance has begun,
Oh! Surrey twilight! importunate band!
Oh! strongly adorable tennis-girl's hand!

Around us are Rovers and Austins afar,
Above us the intimate roof of the car,
And here on my right is the girl of my choice,
With the tilt of her nose and the chime of her voice.

And the scent of her wrap, and the words never said,
And the ominous, ominous dancing ahead.
We sat in the car park till twenty to one
And now I'm engaged to Miss Joan Hunter Dunn.

The End of the Affair

There is a silence spreading round Gordon Brown. It's not just he cannot get an aircraft, cannot get an audience, is invited - the world's most unwelcome guest - when Benedict XVI is making a triumphal visit to the United States, is ignored by the South Africans as he bangs his silly little fist up and down about democracy in an African country (what about democracy in our own? Brown is unelected).

Not one politician of any party, least of all his own, speaks of him at all; the failure of economic and financial policy under Labour's tutelage, yes, but no longer about Brown and his idiot savant role in it all. He's hoiked onto the newspaper pages by his press team but who reads what he is supposed to have said?

The photos in yesterday's Mail say it all - striding and grinning across an empty airport in the dark - alone; sitting in an interview chair but no interviewer, just an empty chair opposite him; being gazed at aghast by other countries' representatives in the United Nations as he lies back in his chair eyes closed and obviously asleep or in a world of his own.

This cannot go on. Throwing phones at walls, pushing staff out of chairs, kicking over furniture, screaming abuse at colleagues and officials, utterly disconnected from reality, and the entire political establishment turning away in embarrassment.

It may be regarded as crucial to get the European Union constitution ratified, it may be understood that the Labour party can hardly foist another unelected prime minister onto the country, and would be faced with the election Brown balked at, at an even more inopportune time, it may be that there are no formal means to remove an unfit prime minister from office. None of this is good enough reason for first, the Labour party not to recognise what was done when they allowed this man to browbeat his way into the leadership of their party, and second, the Head of State and the Privy Council not to act so that Executive power is in at least sane caretaker's hands until a general election can be held.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Decisions, Decisions.

What if the pound just keeps on falling? Never mind the fears that it will fall until it might as well be a euro anyway - we're nearly there already.

What if it keeps heading right on down. What's to stop it? Who wants sterling?

Raise interest rates. That'll make it worthwhile.

Mortgages, input costs? It's a matter of balance.

Pity we have an unbalanced prime minister.

What Those Who Had the Chance to Vote Voted For

Lower taxes; smaller and less intrusive governance ; local power for local interests; cultural hegemony of the receiving people; the social wage to contributors; an end to redistribution of wealth between the poor and poorer by the ruling party; weaker powers and lesser union within Europe.

What they got: racialism at every level of governance, the impoverishment of the weakest, the richest excluded from taxation, the ending of meritocratic achievement in any state-provided employment and the reinstitution of 'raccomandazione' and the 'figli di Papa', lower taxes, less intrusive governance, and almost certainly a shift in European Union monetary policy to accommodate Mediterranean indebtedness.

They may yet find there is a very high price to pay in social peace.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

An Italian Lesson

We all know what Berlusconi is - some even think he's a loveable rogue.

Berlusconi rules only with the the consent of the Northern Leagues and Gianfranco Fini's Alliance. This is not merely a terrifying ideological combination, but a mark that the industrial workers of the north, Italy's economic powerhouse, have left the social democratic building.

Italians are essentially concerned with their own well being, not as a nation but as family groupings and very local loyalty exchanges between such groups. The North has been kept on side with all Rome governments since the second War only by: the steadily growing economy ; by enormous subventions, particularly to agriculture, from the European Union; by the immigration into the North being mostly from Italians of the South (and that most grudgingly accepted).

The wealth transfers from North to South, and from the productive economy to state and government client bases has finally become too much to bear. Work export under the pressures of globalisation, the redirection of EU subsidy to new member state entrants, the right-on politically correct agendas of the left and their undermining of local social and cultural exchange systems, the failure of their unreformed trade unions to defend their living standards and offering instead their direction of funds and attention to agendas wholly outside the world of work, have precipitated this.

And with this has come the racialism that excludes non EU immigrants to living, literally, outside the walls of towns and cities; denied residence and thus any enjoyment of the social wage they help to fund of nursery schools, education, health services, wage top ups, social housing - nothing can be accessed. People in great poverty cannot wait for slow legal process, as the elected mayors of so many northern cities know. Further, many who voted for the Northern Leagues want complete secession. An independent state in the north of the peninsula that is separately a part of the European Union.

What has been done in Italy by the kind of New Labour idiocy practised for the last 11 years in the United Kingdom has come to fruition in ways that can be only too easily projected onto the UK . And the counterpart of Fini and his National Alliance, the British National Party, is steadily advancing towards power.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Garbage In, Garbage Out: New Capitalism as the Politics of Life-Style and Craft Work

'The Centre is dedicated to generating new research and to engendering debates on the most important issues arising as men and women enter the workforce and make career choices. Consequently, one of the key focal points for our research agenda is Humanising Work.

A question that many academics and practitioners alike face in this field of study and practice when reviewing the recruitment, retention and development of talent is ‘How do we build future organisations that inspire men and women?’

The aspiration of this discussion theme is to better understand the nature of work and the contemporary context for work design. Integral to this goal is the development of a broad understanding of the range of innovative and forward-thinking ways that companies employ in order to inspire employees at all stages of their careers. Our studies have shown that companies are beginning to move away from career tournaments to more flexible talent-development structures such as project-based roles and job-share options. Our debate therefore must address how we define work and work-related activities and the motivations that drive us to work. This will involve us working less obsessively and mechanically and creating more people-friendly work and ways of living.

...two keynote speakers, Professor Lord Anthony Giddens and Professor Richard Sennett ... will launch our debate on Humanising Work. The titles of their talks will be “The Politics of Life-Style” and “Crafting Work in the Age of New Capitalism”, respectively.'

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Voting in Italy

It is forbidden to take a mobile phone into the polling booth, on pain of quite severe penalties. The numbers selling their votes, and proof that they have voted 'correctly' being required by photographing their ballot paper before leaving the booth, has forced the ministry of the Interior to act. Phones must be left outside the booth.

The newspapers are suggesting taking two phones into the shower, sorry polling station, and leaving one outside.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Advice to a Failing Prime Minister

'the appearance of the urbane and glamorous George Clooney at the PM's side earlier in the week to talk about Darfur served only to emphasise what seems to be Mr Brown's awkwardness and increasing discomfort in his own skin.' wrote the Telegraph.

When you hear sweet syncopation
And the music softly moans
T'ain't no sin to take off your skin
And dance around in your bones

When it gets too hot for comfot
And you can't get an ice cream cone
T'ain't no sin to take off your skin
And dance around your bones

Just like those bamboo babies
Down in the South Sea tropic zone
T'ain't no sin to take off your skin
And dance around your bones.

Come out Gordon, give us your Vision.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Independence for Members of Our Parliament

First past the post, with single member constituencies, for a constituency with geographical-socio-economic homogeneity , is the current system of electing the Westminster parliament. Be not afraid, these thoughts are not going to degenerate into a technical exposition of voting systems and their advantages and drawbacks; you all know where to go for that kind of thing.

This voting system is the best to be had. It is well understood. It is clear in its verdict. It offers the option of either voting for what you do want, or voting against what you do not - whichever seems more important to you at the time. Best of all, it is local: constituencies are small enough to enable all candidates to make themselves known to their electorate, and for the electorate to make themselves (and their interests and concerns) known to the candidates.

It will come as no surprise to read that this clear, effective, local and personalized voting system is the object of diverse destructive manoeuvres by political parties. The imposition of centrally approved candidates by parties not particularly democratic in their internal structures, most of all the Labour party with whole powerful sectors excluding non-unionised people from having a say, but the others as well by more informal means, is the first. Then there is the brutally bullying whipping system applied in the Parliament itself, so that only the Party view is represented, leaving those whose constituency has elected a member of another party wholly, and most improperly, without representation; which undermines the entire purpose of a local representative of everyone and all interests from a particular locality.

The entire political caste, regardless of party, united to render candidature much more difficult and expensive for a non-party nominee, just at the moment the possibilities of internet, personalised, locally tailored politics began to emerge.

Nevertheless, should we have the good fortune to arrive at a general election ever again, and the voting system still be the potential paragon of democratic virtue we enjoyed last time, in my constituency in inner London I shall consider the candidates and their offerings closely, look at any record they have, check out their associates and supporters, and vote for the person most likely to serve the interests of Holborn and St Pancras. For a start a secondary school open to all families' children is needed south of the Euston road. And we don't like our GP services being sold off to private investors in National Health provision either. And we don't like our constituency carved up and its settled population driven out, for creating a London University (the University of London in all its diversity is just fine), for housing Olympic moguls, and for corrupt profit-taking.

It might be best if the proudest and most successful political label any candidate can wear is Independent (Holborn and St Pancras), or whatever name your constituency bears.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Coming Up For Air and Finding the BNP

Politicians and commenters have drawn attention repeatedly to the threat of the extreme Right in England. Anecdotally the British National Party is making headway among the poor, but in other, and most unexpected, places of relative wealth, too. Where there have been local votes, they have done well in pushing established parties into third place, though as yet they have had few first place victories; tactical voting still sees them kept out under our voting system.

They are kept out, too, by their racialism. We more than condemn racialist views, we are deeply embarrassed by them. In all fairness, our society does not really care about race. Curiously, the racial stuff has been imported by cultures that do care about race. Our culture cares about class, and wealth, and accessibility of resources. We couldn't care less about how people look (just look at how visitors to Florence from England look - do they care? They do not).

So why is the British National Party, whose identifier is racialism, making such notable progress in all and every election that manages to get itself held in England?

The removal of the economic and financial safety net that has been beneath every family since the institution of a basic, inalienable living standard, by all political parties in the United Kingdom since 1945, has done the damage. The fact that you have a mortgage on the house you live in, and a job, and the children are doing reasonably well in reasonable schools, and if you are ill there is accessible diagnosis and treatment, that your streets are safe and the bus and train are there and affordable has been profoundly undermined in the last 11 years.

The safety net, so crucial to most of us with few resources other than our own skills and social ties, is now fully occupied. If we stumble, if we need to ask the council for a house, if we need support during a period of unemployment, if our health seriously and chronically fails, we will be plunged into a maelstrom of savage competition for resources we thought were ours and paid for.

We have had not just our pensions undermined by Brown and his 11 years of ill-intentioned and poorly understood, rabid, classist policies. Undermined as well has been our social insurance, that was there for our parents and grandparents, but is no longer there for us, and for our children who do not face the benign economic climate in which we made our way in life.

Not the very poor; but those who might think of themselves as middle class, responsible, capable, are frightened that everything that was there should external forces strike us down, is no longer available.

And so a racialist party profits from social and economic fear, or even just bewilderment, as our sense of building a society in our country that we can be happy in, and proud of, is destroyed to deliver on an agenda for the permanent installation of European-style statist governance that was  never put to us and to which we would never have agreed.
 We have extended our growing well-being to the poorest. What we have not been allowed to do is replenish and extend the resources devoted to this, because that would have meant taking from the share of the rich, which has held steadily in England to some 50% of all wealth in our country. The rich are untouched by the needs of others; they are too far removed from the experience of destitution. We are not; and we have responded, but now we are on a knife-edge of real poverty ourselves, and there is nothing to catch us as -  not if -  we fall.

New Labour is nothing to do with the socialism we all might agree with, that isn't really socialism at all, just a sense of decency, and sharing, and giving everyone a chance, and that some things can be done better together and with a bit of direction rather than everyone for himself. People keep quoting George Orwell but they're quoting from the wrong book. It's Coming Up For Air that really says it all, and all we have lost.

'We had peace inside us. Of course I knew that
even in Lower Binfield life would have changed. But the place
itself wouldn't have. There'd still be the beech woods round
Binfield House, and the towpath down by Burford Weir, and the
horse-trough in the market-place. I wanted to get back there, just
for a week, and let the feeling of it soak into me. It was a bit
like one of these Eastern sages retiring into a desert. And I
should think, the way things are going, there'll be a good many
people retiring into the desert during the next few years. It'll
be like the time in ancient Rome that old Porteous was telling me
about, when there were so many hermits that there was a waiting
list for every cave.

But it wasn't that I wanted to watch my navel. I only wanted to
get my nerve back before the bad times begin. Because does anyone
who isn't dead from the neck up doubt that there's a bad time
coming? We don't even know what it'll be, and yet we know it's
coming. Perhaps a war, perhaps a slump--no knowing, except that
it'll be something bad. Wherever we're going, we're going
downwards. Into the grave, into the cesspool--no knowing. And you
can't face that kind of thing unless you've got the right feeling
inside you. There's something that's gone out of us in these
twenty years since the war [or 11 years since the New Dawn, ed.]. It's a kind of vital juice that we've
squirted away until there's nothing left. All this rushing to and
fro! Everlasting scramble for a bit of cash. Everlasting din of
buses, bombs, radios, telephone bells. Nerves worn all to bits,
empty places in our bones where the marrow ought to be.'

Are the British National Party picking up on this and, despite their despicable racialism, going to find supporters not among the very poor, but among the newly vulnerable whose insurances have been cashed to buy a voter base, and whose efforts over the generations redirected to ensuring permanence in power for a national and supranational political class?

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Jonah Strikes Again

And did those feet in ancient time
walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
on England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
among these dark Satanic Mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant Land.

Jonah Gordon Brown named it as his favourite hymn; since then it has been repeatedly banned in dioceses, churches and services throughout England. Southwark has just announced that it is ' Not to the glory of God'.

Pound in our Pockets Devalued by Gordon Brown

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is not very well. He has become sufficiently removed from reality to fail to curb his tongue on crucial financial and economic decision-taking to which he is privy because of his office.

The urgency of his removal is measured in the collapse of sterling since he opened his big mouth on television yesterday.

He has devalued the pound in our pockets.

Italian Elections

Without freedom of information there’s no democracy. If information becomes the tool of private interests and of the parties, there’s no democracy. If Asphalt Head [Berlusconi, ed.] has three national TV channels and 40 newspapers and magazines, there’s no democracy. If the parties have control of the RAI [Italian BBC] there’s no democracy... If election referenda are cancelled by Calderoli [former Berlusconi Minister of the Interior] or postponed by Napolitano, there’s no democracy. If 350,000 signatures for three popular laws are festering in a cellar in the Senate, there’s no democracy. If we can’t vote for a candidate, there’s no democracy. If Cuffaro, Crisafulli, Carra, Dell’Utri, and Cesa [all Berlusconi and Mafia candidates] are already elected to Parliament, there’s no democracy. If after the rigged elections there are 100 people who have been convicted at the first level, the second level or definitively, or on remand, representing us, there’s no democracy. If the newspapers receive a billion euro a year in public financing, there’s no democracy... If Bossi [leader of the racialist Northern Leagues] can threaten the State with rifles, there’s no democracy. If the parties take the mafia votes, there’s no democracy. If Bassolino [responsible for the rubbish] is President of the Campania Region, there’s no democracy. Without freedom of information, it’s not possible to choose. Citizens have the right to be informed. Without this right there’s no democracy. Citizens have the right to be represented by gentlemen. Without this right there’s no democracy... The Rome Tribunal has prohibited the use of the name and the image of Beppe Grillo for the lists “Grilli parlanti” [the Talking Grasshopper from Pinocchio who speaks the truth] and “No Euro – Lista del Grillo”. The TV channels and the newspapers cannot promote these lists. The TV presenters cannot promote these lists... Support the civic lists in your cities and the regional list of Sonia Alfano in Sicily. The renewal of the Country starts with the towns and the Regions. The renewal starts with the young people. Freedom starts with the freedom of information. V2 Day - 25 April

(summary from Beppe Grillo's blog)

The Establishment Closes Ranks on the Immorality of the Iraq Invasion

Nine Law Lords have refused to open the way to a public inquiry into the illegality of attacking Iraq.

Only Baroness Hale, in her ruling, expressed the view that the request for "an inquiry into whether or not the conflict in which their sons died was lawful.", was a rightful and just expectation of the families of the dead soldiers.

"If my child had died in this way, that is exactly what I would want. I would want to feel that she had died fighting for a just cause, that she had not been sent to fight a battle which should never have been fought at all, and that if she had, then someone might be called to account."

Rose Gentle, whose 19 year old son died in Iraq, said:

"Only Baroness Hale has had the decency even to consider how my family and I feel that Gordon was killed; and we don’t even have the comfort of knowing that he died fighting for a justice case.

"It is as if the other eight law lords have not been able to contemplate the feelings of my family and myself.

"I will never accept that Gordon did die for a just cause; and I will never stop fighting for those responsible to be held to account."

She called on the Prime Minister "to do the right thing and hold the inquiry into the invasion and occupation of Iraq that he keeps promising us."

Sadly, 'doing the right thing' is what Gordon Brown is famous for not doing. And now he has the Law Lords to back him in his wickedness.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Brown Displays Total Disconnection From Reality or Shame

"If you look at this situation, because we've got low inflation..

We have horrific levels of inflation considered by any human, normal, measure.

we can cut interest rates,...

Over Mervyn King' dead body will you cut interest rates significantly and unleash even more grotesque inflation levels.

because we have had low debt,...

Debt, both public and private, is at levels that make even the United States debt levels look sane.

we can afford to keep our public spending programme in line...

Your public spending programme is hidden off balance sheet by PFI and false accounting; apart from that it is nothing more than the purchase of a client Labour voting base using torture-levels of taxation.

and to borrow at the right time...

Who from? There is a total credit freeze. Or are you going to just print the money?

to help the economy come though difficult times...

Of your creation and out of your utter economic, financial incompetence and ultimately your ideological immorality.

New Olympic Sport

An anonymous commenter on Guido suggests an exciting New Olympic sport. Here the rapidly emerging objects and rules of this sport are set out.

Aim: to extinguish and capture the Olympic Torch.

Teams: there are two teams in each game - Demonstrators and Authorities.

Venue: any city may offer itself as a Field.

Playing Field: The Field is a half Marathon long, there is no set width but the route must pass through the historic centre of the competing city.

Players: all citizens of a competing city are eligible to play (outreach and inclusiveness). Authorities must not be brought in from outside the competing city.

Rules of play: players must remain outside throughout the game; no damage to the city's structures. Mobiles, forward planning, ambushes, and joining in by spectators at any point in the game, on either side, are all permitted. Identifying insignia may be used, but are not compulsory. No weapons, which includes banner poles, boots, paving stones or street furniture (cf no damage rule above), as well as no guns, tasers, truncheons, lathi, shields, gas, water cannon, dogs, or horses. No vehicles.

Mode of Play: think Australian Rules Football.

Scoring: extinguishing the flame - 1 point; capturing the torch, holding it for 5 minutes, and extinguishing the flame - victory. The flame can be extinguished up to three times before the game is declared over, but if the torch is not captured by the Demonstrators, it is declared a draw. If the Authorities succeed in getting the Torch from Starting Point to Finish the Demonstrators lose half their points won. The Authorities may not deliberately extinguish the flame to force a restart, on pain of conceding the Match.

League: cities taking part in the game will be ranked by points scored and speed of capturing the Torch. The two finalists with the highest points scored and shortest capture times will compete in a Run Off in the Olympic host city (this year in Beijing) with the Authorities made up of Beijing's local forces.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Brechtian Home Truths

...the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another ?

Trade Unions Need Complete Reform

The historical pornography that is the myth held by trade union and Labour tribal loyalists of their, and only their, magnificent contributions to the sum of human happiness and improvement in the human condition is as ill-founded as their apparent belief that all wealth is the surplus produced by labour. While the organisation of labour to raise wages and improve conditions is to be welcomed, the extension of trade union activities into the lives and circumstances of those who are not members is not, nor is it ever justifiable.

Yet intruding into our lives is what they seek to do as globalisation has weakened trade unions through the enhanced competition of goods and services produced far away by cheaper labour, in sectors producing tradeable goods and services. In these sectors trade unions are virtually powerless; they can inflict temporary modest losses on their employers by going on strike, but they cannot hold all of us to ransom. They might as well not be there when acting in their proper purpose - that traditional purpose of raising wages and improving conditions.

Of course in the non-tradeable sectors they can hold all of us to ransom, because their members are virtually irreplaceable and enjoy a monopolistic position. The total withdrawal of their services inflicts on all of us a loss which is proportional not to the low utility of the marginal worker in their sector but to the very high average utility of workers in that sector. The loss of one doctor inflicts a minimal loss on the community, no greater than the loss of the marginal waiter. The withdrawal of labour by all doctors inflicts an intolerable loss. Workers in non tradeable sectors are able, by the threat of the total withdrawal of their labour, to push their earnings up to the high average productivity of their group instead of the low level marginal productivity of the same group. Their market power is monopolistic, and this monopolistic power is always wielded in a manner that is utterly despicable and irresponsibly selfish. In all our interests it should be confronted, and by all of us it should be removed.

If the validatory myths of trade union existence are a denial of the reality that public health, decent housing, mass education, even working hours, conditions, and pay, co-operative and mutual institutions, indeed democracy itself are the product of human endeavour and goodwill under many political banners - Liberal, Conservative, Radical, religious, through the 19th and 20th centuries, what is their reason to exist at all? Unions in tradeable goods sectors should disappear because of powerlessness; unions in non tradeable goods should be replaced by co-operative, not confrontational institutions, so as to prevent the exercise of intolerable monopolistic power.

The Australian and the German models of trade union roles and activities provide the answer. There labour is organised, represented in its special concerns and contribution to the productive process, and trade unions benefit efficiency and profit making and profit sharing.

The trade unions in our country, with their baneful influence on a major 'democratic' party, their falsifications of history and theft of credit for the good brought about so diversely, their self arrogated power over the lives of many who are excluded from any influence upon their policy and decision-taking systems, their long term infiltration by communists for at least the last 50 years and all the damage that has inflicted on an open society, are a horrible infection in the body politic.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Bloomsbury Halts the Torch of Shame

Crowds of democratic and freedom-loving people halted the disgraceful so-called Olympic torch as its dishonourable bearers, surrounded by Chinese, uniformed, crypto fascist thugs tried to carry it through Bloomsbury Square. Aided by Brown's British police in anti-personnel gear, a way was finally forced through the peaceful crowds dissenting from authoritarian parades in London's streets and squares.

This time they were brought to a temporary standstill. We have four years to stop them for good.

Time, Gentlemen, Please!

The New Labour Project hasn't got much time left (well, left isn't quite the word, it hasn't got much time, right?).

It is a characteristic of United Kingdom governance that the office of prime minister has enormous powers concentrated in it, those of the king ceded over the centuries, first to Parliament, then to the the governing executive, and now to the prime minister alone. The Project maximised this, and the possibilities of the fluidity of our constitution to concentrate power into the fewest hands possible - there is an agenda to deliver.

That agenda is to embed the United Kingdom into the European Union, to dominate the power structures of the European Union, and to take back the position of the United Kingdom power elites that was lost in the immediate post War years - remember 'Britain taking her rightful place at the heart of Europe'? To do this has brought the regionalisation of England along unnatural administrative divisions, the near secession of Scotland, the steady re-absorption of Northern Ireland by the Irish Republic, extensive damage to local democracy, and even more damage to national democracy and its institutions, not least the rule of law.

Considerable damage has been done too, to the European Union, caused by the United Kingdom-inspired push for an unnaturally fast rate of extension to the East resulting in serious problems of institutional and economic development. The Six, or even the Twelve, would have benefitted from a slower rate of geopolitical growth, but the Project's agenda wants a weaker European Union with lesser identity and greatly reduced and contained power. Turkey was the last straw and has been placed firmly to one side by France, Germany and Italy. Apart from the determined putting of this agenda in its place in Europe, it is ironically the characteristics of the undemocratic, internal structures of the Labour party, which first gave an opening for this power grab, that are now causing, too, its collapse.

The Leader of the parliamentary Labour party is ex officio prime minister when Labour has a parliamentary majority. But the present Leader of the PLP and of the Labour party in toto, is too alien both to our current institutional arrangements and in personality and abilities to be able to command the office as now empowered. The entire Project is collapsing with the premature/overdue loss of Gordon Brown's credibility and authority.

Yet there is no way he can be removed from his position without a general election becoming irresistible. One Leader removed by coup and his majority taken has been explained as agreed succession (itself undemocratic, but we've been there) and has been swallowed; it is too close now to the average 4-years' life time of an administration to try for a second. But the speed at which major measures - the ratification of the Lisbon treaty without asking the people, the installation of a state wide data base on every person in the country, the alteration to polling methods, the undoing of devolution particularly to Scotland, the repeated blows from a failed financial and economic policy practiced for over a decade, the stranding of defence and foreign policy in unpopular wars and isolated, underfunded armies - need to be forced home, condoned even consented to, that speed is determined by the little time left. And the shortness of time in turn renders the agenda indigestible.

So how long can this Labour Leader be held together so as to push through the codification of a decade of reshaping our world for goals we neither want nor ever sought?


The Olympic ideal is neofascist bunkum. The 'Games' are recast nationalist oppositions. Drug fuelled, wholly unreal in their choosing of winners and losers, the Olympics debase the one activity that is truly global - sport and play.

The authoritarians of the Earth have instrumentalised playfulness, and produced a model of how global governance should be: the over-riding of local life and practices - from the small scale shutting of roads and stealing away sports and leisure facilities in everyday use, to the large-scale killing and maiming of protesters against their assertions of territorial power.

The Olympic torches burn to symbolise arrogant control over the people, the arbitrary allocation of our resources and our time, the arbitrary use of force against dissent.

London should not be involved in the celebration of tyranny, not today, and not four years from now.

Not ever.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Is Black Bossy?

The new borders and immigration force was launched without any agreement on the question of its uniform.

It should be remembered by the Regime that traditionally black is worn only by extra-territorial forces, and that within the homeland grey is the standard colour. The silver flashes and motifs of course can be common to both uniform styles.

Trousers should perhaps be pouched just above the ankle and finished with short boots, rather than just below the knee and finished with the jackboot; this last might be thought to be over-egging the pudding. Suggestions are made only tentatively, as reports of biting, scratching and nose-picking over the refusal of black (although the minister of the Interior may have been indicating a preference in her choice of costume colour at the initiation ceremony), and central interference with the funding of uniforms until the Leader's preferences have been satisfied, suggest feeling is running high.

The password securing of access to the New Progressive Governance logo, of the swastika resting on the red rose of our Regime, to control the consciousness-raising impact of the Regime's symbols, clearly cannot apply to the uniforms of the Interior ministry's new parasecurity force, given its interactive, outreach role within the civil population.

Eppur si muove

Mr Sutcliffe : “We, and I speak as a champion of the pub trade, want the Chancellor to change his mind. We’ve had examples like the fuel levy where the impact on a sector has been massive – and the decision has been deferred. I’m not saying that will happen, but that’s where the trade needs to focus the basis of its argument. The next opportunity will be the preBudget report in November. But the industry has seriously got to get its act together in working out what its priorities are.”

After being shown the instruments of torture in Downing Street and the Treasury, who now believe there is no need to take the matter further, Mr Sutcliffe added:

“I fully support the tax measures in the Budget, and the Chancellor’s decisions on tax. Alcohol duty increases will go towards helping some of the poorest members of our society.”

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Supranational Law and Order

England's long peace that ended in 1914 coincided with the establishment of the form of pluralist democracy which held for the following century. Important among its well known characteristics is the dominance of the civil power and the rule of law over force and arbitrary power in the hands of the state and its administrators. While it was a hierarchical society in terms of class it was, from quite early in the period, an educationally, institutionally and financially meritocratic system with many ladders (and many snakes) for individual movement within hierarchies; this last etiolated the growth of the kind of class consciousness typical of the more rigid and enclosing hierarchies of continental European societies, while insularity both linguistic and hence cultural, as well as geo-political, reinforced the status quo. A very English compromise and felicity.

Battlefields lay outside of England. There had been quite enough of laying waste in earlier centuries, and the military operated in fights and wars elsewhere, governed by their rules and, for what it was worth, international law and the conventions associated with it; civil society and its institutions were as separated from military requirements, and as differently driven, as international law was from private law.

Under New Labour's Project and our immurement in the European Union our civil society is being engulfed in a horrid amalgam of public and international law, a continental supranational law that carries with it entire, and essentially military, institutional structures and systems of enforcement inimical to our civil society.
It has been globally accepted that:

'we all burn together when we burn.
There'll be no need to stand and wait your turn.
When it's time for the fallout
And Saint Peter calls us all out,
We'll just drop our agendas and adjourn.',

and that the great and the good of the Earth cannot be expected to adjourn. Other means of force must be developed, the military out there, fighting wars of more and more devastating technology, while civil society is safely defended at home, are no longer in another world; the planet is being devastated.

So war and its opening of the door of command and control structures into civil society, is to be war against terror, against climate change, against failed states...

And the definition of a successful regime is tightly drawn to the characteristics of exploitable resources and farmed, herdable populations.

No more war, now we do peace-keeping and feel morally justified, are exhorted to the task. Paramilitary, not military; not nuclear weapons, as depleted uranium doesn't count does it, accompanied by judges trained in the new, depleted law, and administrators to show how to run a depleted government. And even-handed too; what goes for the former Yugoslavia goes for England. As well as the livelier parts of the Paris suburbs, Marseille, Genoa...

Olympics, the travelling circus of global governance, are good occasions for getting the laws and rules in place and getting in a bit of para-practice.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Bye-Bye By-Elections

By-elections would be so interesting just now; but no-one is vacating parliamentary seats for any reason whatever (not counting the defenestration of Mr Blair). There used to be three or four times as many by-elections during a parliament in the good old days.

Even a 'safe' Labour seat would do, not least because probably there is no longer such a thing.

Perhaps no behaviour is now so disgraceful it qualifies for departure.

Image and Likeness

Who made you? God made me.

Why did God make you? God made me to know him, love him, and serve him in this world and be happy with him forever in the next.

In whose image and likeness did God make you? God made me in his own image and likeness.

Is this likeness to God in your body or in your soul? This likeness to God is chiefly in my soul.

How is your soul like to God? My soul is like to God because it is a spirit and is immortal.

The catechism no longer uses the question and answer format, learned on those long ago Sunday afternoons, and forever associated with the scent of beeswax, brass polish and the fascination of watching Father Arbuthnott's teeth moving about in his jaw, as we sat in rows on St Teresa's shiny, polished benches.

Yet the layers of complexity embodied in these simple words, that our parish priest patiently expounded to his ungrateful (and unworthy) audience, are resting on the bedrock of the nature of humanity. To elucidate it in the way used in that long ago catechism is to adopt a particular language and explanatory system that is not part of thinking about the world by many people. For many people this kind of thinking and its language is expressly and often bitterly rejected.

That rejection, so capable of being amply backed up by historical and cultural evidence, is not an excuse for not thinking about the nature of humanity at all.

You may not have an immortal soul that is like to God. You may understand our world as the only environment in which a human being can realise its individual ends. You may reject as myth the notion of a divine sacrifice that offers salvation from separation from God. Heightened language and imagery of this order might not be your cup of tea.

As the decades pass we elaborate our beliefs, extend our understanding and refine the objects of our investigation. Some of us, depending on our training and our interest, can be really clever at this kind of thing.

Still it stands; we are made in an image and likeness. To pick apart that image and likeness, to create human life without hope of salvation - i.e., individual realisation as a human being - because that humanity has been conjoined with another species, is as offensive to any Humanist (look at the very name, humanist, of those who choose another world view), as it is to any Catholic.

What is announced today of what has been created in a north east England laboratory chills the soul.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Easy Riders

Over £4000 on taxis for self and cleaner to buy nibbles for the Speaker's little do's isn't a lot.

And no, it isn't based on fears about the security of self and cleaner; and why should we have to show any identity passes to the security staff in the houses of Parliament? Don't they know who we are? Security? We told them!

We just didn't want to take the bus. Or walk. I'm not that Tory Mrs Clarke with her hoity toity views on tax payers' money.

Fighting On

Internment without trial, and questioning of a suspect after charge, are two practices that were initiated during peacetime, for they always exist under the special conditions of the state at war, in Northern Ireland. It is usually worth looking at federated parts of any union state to consider what unconstitutional powers are contemplated for the entire state after try out at the edges, so to speak.

It is clear, too, that the powers being sought are highly inappropriate when set against even the remnants of our constitutional arrangements, and unpopular both within the country as a whole, and within the Labour party which sustains the ruling regime in all its unelected nastiness.

Either the regime does not intend to submit itself to democratic election again, or the permanent state security and use of force apparatus is exerting irresistible pressure upon the regime to comply with its wishes. Probably both are operating, and here is an example of the weakness of democratic response, but a small degree of encouragement that resistence is there at all, and that there are still institutional and peaceful means of resistence available.