Sunday, 30 November 2008

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

English democracy stands on the edge of an open grave. For eleven years it has been forced to dig, shovelling enabling legislation, with sweeping powers that can be made operative by Executive decree, through its Parliament. Protesting bitterly it has been forced to hollow out its own resting place and install the apparatus of European Union administrative governance. Steadily it has been backed towards the edge facing the firing squad manned by the men and women of New Labour.

The surrounding people who armed New Labour know nothing, see nothing, have no idea, never imagined, are just getting on with their lives, believe in the Labour Movement as a force for good both for themselves and for the decent and ordinary in the country.

What matters is a job, a house, and a chance for the kids. The sounds of firing in the woods? Nothing to do with them.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Do It Yourself Gordon Voodoo Kit

The voodoo doll of Nicholas Sarkozy that is available with twelve needles and instructions on their application and the correct attitude while sticking them in, must carry the judicial ruling:

"... the encouragement to poke the doll that comes with the needles in the kit, an activity whose subtext is physical harm, even if it is symbolic, constitutes an attack on the dignity of the person of Mr. Sarkozy."

The dolls sold out their first 'edition' and a second wave has now hit the shops.

Now then, where are those studies on voodoo? They're in with my old anthropology texts somewhere.

Common Sense

The core European Union countries are agreed now on how the recession is faced. With the relaxation of the constraints of the Stability and Growth Pact, each member state can react to regional expressions of the economic and financial threat, without infringing formal rules and their goals, devised for use when times are good. Communitaire sentiment is reliably deep-seated enough to permit this flexibility yet maintain long term interest.

The central agreement is extreme caution in borrowing, or attempting to restart the excesses of generally expanding credit. Case by case and locality by locality considerations of interventions by government are the order of the day. Where key economic and industrial interest is at stake there will be action by government, by private sources and by sectoral representatives, brokered by a long-established democratic set of institutions. There will be no sales-tax cuts, ineffective in enticing consumer spending anyway. There is recognition of the stable patterns of private consumption in core European member states, and the remarkably low levels of personal indebtedness. There will be no irresponsible expansions of public debt, certainly not to levels that would have most Europeans out on the streets protesting. The steady-as-she-goes tactic makes a great deal more sense than the systemic-crisis, demanding big bang solutions, cover up.

As the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (reported in Der Spiegel) writes:

"After the bank bailout, Chancellor Merkel has been feeling her way through crisis
management carefully. Balancing possibilities requires courage in a time when... governments faced with a flood of bad economic news, are heading for quick 'grand solutions' without regard to the negative impact on budgets or the disastrous consequences for competitiveness. In so doing the big bailout crowd runs the risk of encouraging worry and, with it, procrastination on the part of economic actors. We should be thankful to Angela Merkel for her calm probing, for grand solutions are difficult to audit and to calculate; they conceal big risks -- and a glance at the writings of Keynes won't deliver any panaceas...".

This view is embodied in the actions of all the core member-states.

The complete rejection of the analysis and policies adopted by our government by core Europe means that even if it were correct, the policies cannot work. Our non-financial economy is too small and too damaged, and our shattered financial economy too weak now; even the United States will find it hard to act effectively alone. And the United States is led by a popular, charismatic, elected leader - these political facts matter just as much as economic and financial realities.

For us there is only massive borrowing - not to implement keynesian-style solutions as is pretended - but simply to keep the financial fabric of the country from collapsing into holes. And if lenders choose not to lend, there is the monetisation of debt and inflation that frightens. Or both.

2009 is going to be bad. If we could face it together, acknowledging the need for retrenchment, enjoying some political and cultural unity, some political honesty about the state we are in, this would serve better than any more pseudo-keynesian claptrap and blaming its certain failure on the caution and prudence of others.

We don't need Leadership and global interventions by deluded messiahs. We need consensus and co-operation in our own country, we need the pragmatic and responsible application of the common sense other countries are demonstrating.

To obtain that the people need to be consulted in a general election.

Friday, 28 November 2008

The Home Secretary is Ignorant and Powerless

When the Mayor of London dismissed Labour's police chief he made it plain that the Home Secretary was in office but not in power. She could no more raise a hand to stop Mr Johnson from ridding us of a politicised and dangerous officer, than stop a London bus.

Now there are denials at the highest levels that she knew anything of the arrest of a Member of Parliament and the Speaker's authorisation of the search of Parliamentary offices by anti-terrorist police, until it had been done.

We know who is running the Metropolitan Police.

Who is running the Home Office?

The pretend Home Secretary must resign.

The Smack of Firm Government

International capital is not concerned with political niceties. It is concerned with political stability. Where it lends it wants to be sure that the institutional status quo will be upheld and maintained while its investment is at risk. Or the charge for risk may be too high for the borrower.

The United Kingdom Labour government must borrow heavily. It must show convincingly the stability and permanence of its control over the country. The apparatus to do this has been installed since 2000. Willingness and capacity to use it is being demonstrated.

'Whatever it takes' applies now to the arrest by counter-terrorism police of a Member of Parliament and the authorisation by the Speaker of the intrusion by police into the Parliament and a search of a Member of Parliament's offices.

We should expect more propaganda tokens of the extent and permanence of the Mandelson/Brown regime.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Mandelson-Brown Pantomime Horse That Is Now New Labour

In clammy embrace, as they animate the poor old Dobbin of the Labour Party, Mandelson and Brown cavort their last on the political stage.

Mandelson speaks through the front orifice, reassuring us all that Woolworth's employees will keep their jobs over Christmas and that high level government intervention will defend pic'n'mix and the 'British' economy.

Brown's voice drones through the rear orifice, claiming to speak for the entire world, on everything from condemning attacks on hotels in Bombay to leading the planet to the sunlit uplands of fiscal probity and steady economic growth.

Given the complete lack of any constitutional or institutional rules or constraints it is impossible to visualise what will bring down the final curtain on this ridiculous performance.

Cold Turkey

Christmas dinner for four at under £10 is on offer from some shops. Ever since seeing it I've been considering how that can be possible. Economies of scale, industrialised production... even so , while feeding four for under £10 is perfectly feasible for a run of the mill meal, Christmas dinner is supposed to be a feast - THE feast of the year.

A feast has many courses, is made of the finest ingredients, includes foods that are costly as part of the show and part of the pleasure of eating a rare treat, and is an exhibition of the esteem in which the feasting are held by the feast-giver.

Giver. That is the heart of a feast. A gift. Generous to the point of profligacy, offered with joy, appropriate to the occasion, bringing gladness to the company, creating a separate time where care is put aside. A glorious lighted interval in the dark of winter to be looked forward to and worked for, and to be looked back on with happiness created, and the inclusion that gift-giving and accepting creates. And that is not to be achieved by offering a slice of turkey and a mince pie ready meal.

Poor? Save up for it. Unable to candy fruit, make a galantine, cook brussels' sprouts to taste of chestnuts, ....Practice. Don't like the cheap contents of the crackers? Replace them with something better (and funnier jokes). Don't want to? Then don't.

The thing offered by the supermarkets is a cultural insult. I can do insults for under £10.

Most of us can do insults for free.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Confidence in UK Government Securities On Brown's Watch

The cost of insuring against the British Government defaulting on its gilts in the next five years surged to 100 basis points above libor at one stage yesterday...The soaring cost comes as the Treasury unveiled record amounts of spending in the pre-Budget report, with plans to issue an unprecedented £146.4bn of gilts in this fiscal year. (reports the Telegraph).

A spokesman for the Debt Management Office said £77bn has been raised through gilt sales so far this financial year and these government assets "generally remain the preferred risk-free asset for major international investors and are in strong demand internationally and in the UK".... "We think investors in UK Government securities will be assured by the fact that the UK Government has never defaulted on a payment since the origins of the national debt in 1694."

So after only a year as Prime Minister (though admittedly the previous ten years busy wrecking the United Kingdom economy and the Treasury) Gordon Brown has undone over four centuries of trust and confidence and forced the need for statements like this one. The shame.

Power and its Placing

Looking at the Chancellor of the Exchequer during and after his presentation of the New Labour PBR it is clear that his heart isn't in it. Not only was there a smirking, writhing, inattentive Prime Minister misbehaving behind and beside him, there was the knowledge that he is regarded as Brown's puppet.

This is not true. The Chancellor is Mandelson's puppet, as is the Prime Minister.

The democratic deficit, that widened immeasurably with the toppling of the elected Prime Minister in 2007 that was not followed by a general election to confirm the 'change' in policy and governance under Brown, has become a yawning abyss over which our country is poised. Brown's abject failure to measure up to the job, demonstrated within months, led to the imposition of yet another unelected head of the UK Executive.

Hoiked into that part of the United Kingdom's legislature that is peopled by inheritance, Executive appointment, or purchase, 'Lord' Mandelson replaced the challenged, usurping incumbent. In doing so he made a small contribution to the intellectually interesting but democratically destructive evolution of power location in UK governance. The transfer of the autocratic powers of the Crown to the Parliament, then to the lower House, then to the Cabinet, then to the Prime Minister, has moved on.

Under the New Labour Project there was first the transfer of the powers of the Prime Minister - and the draining of remaining powers of the great offices of State - to the Chancellor, which we all watched from 1997 on. With Brown's failure while in the office of prime minister, we are watching the transfer of that concentrated power into the hands of a Party strongman - regardless of whether elected within the inner Party or, even less important, the country.

As Chancellor, Brown had the power but, within his wounded ego, yearned for the trappings of that power. Now he has been allowed to keep the trappings, but the power itself is settled in autocratic hands without the least interest in gaudy (which is not to be confused with interest in luxury).

Autocrats are essentially committed to the belief that the wielding of power is personal, face to face, and individual. It is not office-holder to office-holder, government to government, state to state, and answerable to the elected representatives of the people, from whom that power has been drained and from whom it arises. So with whom does our pet autocrat have these kind of relations?

Since the precipitation from Brussels we know of: Brussels and the European Union itself; Russia; and the oil rich states of the Gulf. Nice kula partners.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Keynes and the Tailor

In advanced capitalist societies the standard form of governance is pluralist democracy. It produces stable, safe nation states with high levels of co-operative contribution from citizens. It reduces risk. The United States has just given a demonstration to the world of how it's done.

The United Kingdom suffers from a burdensome democratic deficit. It is all very well saying dismissively that the Constitution is what we do, when we are relatively independent in choosing how we act. But that independence comes from a productive, vibrant, growing economy that provides a sufficient standard of living to the populace for them to behave as if they are within a pluralist democracy. When the economy threatens to collapse, when its survival becomes dependent upon investment by others in the United Kingdom, then the nature of its political and constitutional settlements gains as much importance as its economic and financial parameters.

Who would lend to an economically unstable state that does not enjoy either a democratic and written Constitution enforceable under the rule of law? Where the means to affirm their continued co-operation, if not their content, with their form of government is not available to the people except when the Executive is good and ready to permit its expression, rather than constrained to meet the people's judgment. And if such a fundamental part of a modern state is set up as 'what we do', where does that leave property and contract?

Loans of the order of trillions of pounds cannot be sought, and will not be given, on the word of Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson. They do not have the reputation, even if they think they have the power. The power and the reputation rest with our country and without a general election and the restoration of democratic government in the United Kingdom there will be large premium to be paid by us all.

As we know from our hurried reintroduction to keynesian analysis, there is always a price at which payment can be delayed; until, that is, doubt as to capacity to meet, or be held to, the debt asserts itself.

We cannot afford New Labour ; international capitalism charges for risk, including that of political and social instability generated by under-determined institutions of the state.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Centenarian Holes Brown in One

"Some claim that human societies merely express, through their mythology, fundamental feelings common to the whole of mankind, such as love, hate, or revenge or that they try to provide some kind of explanations for phenomena which they cannot otherwise understand—astronomical, meteorological, [economic, ed.] and the like. But why should the societies do it in such elaborate and devious ways, when all of them are also acquainted with empirical explanations?"

I m convinced that Levi Strauss was thinking of Gordon Brown when he wrote the Savage Mind.

Though as the Master is 100 this week, perhaps Brown is a throwback.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Will Worlds Collide?

The absence of any acknowledgement of external reality within the New Labour Project is one of its foundation pillars, others being permanence in power, post democratic administration by appointees, identification of government with the state. Consequently New Labour cannot err, it merely shifts policy emphasis to maintain its balance and achieve its objectives.

This does not mean that external reality does not impinge upon New Labour, but when it does in the form of criticism, warning or advice there is a standard policy response of attacking the source as unhelpful, destructive, renegade or terrorist (depending on the level of threat posed by the criticism), and when it is from events these are invariably generated from outside New Labour's areas of control and implementation.

There has been extraordinary forbearance towards this unpleasant and unEnglish ideology and practice because those who have suffered from its overbearing ministrations have been state dependents of the waged and unwaged varieties. The self-sufficient have remarked on it but ignored it while it has not touched them. Outsiders have been content to use the unregulated casino of London's financial markets and pay taxes that are no more than a token gesture.

The victims of New Labour's external aggressions have been the civilian populations of Afghanistan, Iraq, and the former Yugoslavia - even more distant than Czechoslovakia.

Europe, Russia, America, Asia, have taken what they can use, particularly Brown's 'British' tax havens and his entrenched resistance to their control, and laugh a bit at the rest.

But if New Labour seriously tries to slash taxes, continue to lower interest rates, and mind the gap by raising funds borrowed on the strength and stability of the United Kingdom state and its economy, then default will finally bring down the New Labour temple.

Let us, on this Sunday morning, pray that the propaganda of the last weeks is just that, and tomorrow the usual mouse-sized actions, instantly reversed in the small print, will leave us to get on.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Weather Warning

You might like to sing them all to yourselves just once more before New Labour abolishes the British Isles.

Bankers' Manifesto

This arrived by email. You might like to share it.

Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh, Sr. revealed the Bankers Manifesto of 1892 to the U.S. Congress somewhere between 1907 and 1917.

'We [the bankers] must proceed with caution and guard every move made, for the lower order of people are already showing signs of restless commotion. Prudence will therefore show a policy of apparently yielding to the popular will until our plans are so far consummated that we can declare our designs without fear of any organized resistance.

Organizations in the United States [and this would go for the United Kingdom too] should be carefully watched by our trusted men, and we must take immediate steps to control these organizations in our interest or disrupt them.

At the coming Omaha convention to be held July 4, 1892, our men must attend and direct its movement or else there will be set on foot such antagonism to our designs as may require force to overcome.

This at the present time would be premature. We are not yet ready for such a crisis. Capital must protect itself in every possible manner through combination [conspiracy] and legislation.

The courts must be called to our aid, debts must be collected, bonds and mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible.

When, through the process of law, the common people have lost their homes,
they will be more tractable and easily governed through the influence of the strong arm
of the government applied to a central power of imperial wealth under the control of the leading financiers.

People without homes will not quarrel with their leaders. History repeats itself in regular cycles. This truth is well known among our principal men who are engaged in forming an imperialism of the world. While they are doing this, the people must be kept in a state of political antagonism.

The question of tariff reform must be urged through the organization known as the Democratic Party, and the question of protection with the reciprocity must be forced to view through the Republican Party.

By thus dividing voters, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting over questions of no importance to us, except as teachers to the common herd. Thus, by discrete actions, we can secure all that has been so generously planned and successfully accomplished.'

Friday, 21 November 2008

Banking Done By Grown Ups, Not Brown

Italian banks will need a capital injection of some €21bn to bring their financial strength into line with other European banks. They are resigned to accepting a government bail-out package expected to be announced soon, after weeks of resisting any interference from the government.

With little exposure to toxic assets their capital ratios are low compared to banks in countries such as the United Kingdom, which have had to take dramatic steps to recapitalise their banking systems.

With an initial €15bn to €20bn in total, in the form of a mandatory convertible bond issue, all banks could boost their core tier one capital ratios to that of European banks in general, around 8 per cent, from the current ratio of less than 7 per cent. There is no official requirement for the banks to raise capital, but analysts say a core tier one ratio of 8 per cent is likely to become the minimum standard.

The Italian government is not expected to set a new benchmark for the country’s banks as part of the package, reports the FT, and it will be up to the banks themselves to decide whether they want to participate in the state aid package. Individual banks have taken measures already, such as cancelling dividend payments and tapping shareholders.

' No Italian bank has required the sort of bailout that was offered to Fortis, Royal Bank of Scotland, and other European banks.' (FT).

Hillary Needs A Mobile Home

Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State is not an attractive proposition. A woman following another woman in this office begins to downgrade it. It shouldn't, but it does; just as all kinds of professional roles have been downgraded by their filling with women candidates. The medical profession in the Soviet Union sank in esteem, rewards, and quality of recruitment as women spread through it reducing its attractiveness to ambitious men. The teaching profession has sunk in attractiveness as it has come to be dominated by women in England, and in many other European countries. It is as incorrect to notice this as it is to mention it.

The American Secretary of State is, more or less, the Foreign Secretary of the world's greatest, and imperial, power. Power embodies military power and, while women serve with courage and distinction in the armed forces, most women have no military experience or culture - certainly Clinton and Rice do not. Furthermore, what might be acceptable, even commonplace in the United States is not so in many of the countries and non-country power-bases in which an American Secretary of State acts. There have been giggles already about Clinton's claims to frontline experiences in the former Yugoslavia.

From the posturing viewpoint adopted by New Labour of course, appointing a female Foreign Secretary with the support and advice of her elderly husband could be portrayed as following their lead. Perhaps if Clinton is being taken on with a view to getting two for the price of one, a form of bargain in which she once offered herself on her husband's election to high office, then all she needs to do is get herself a caravan to close the deal.

Feeling Financially Faint

New Labour's economy and financial system is clearly over the edge of the cliff and peddling air. The petty recoveries against dollar and euro have spent themselves. The rate against the euro is now so poor it's best just to spend pounds here, though what happens when the desirable goods run out? Do we start buying whatever is available and then bartering for others' hoarded goods? After all, we have so many other aspects of eastern Europe's sad, 'planned' economies. Yesterday at Marks and Spencer was revelatory; people cramming entire racks of basic, good value M and S staples into trolleys. Someone might need two dozen plain white cotton mens' vests in Large if leaving for colonial service, but we don't do that any more. It was so noticeable that the shelf-stripping was not of the exotic or fashionable or M and S's idea of trendy, but of the serviceable, the absolutely standard.

Everyone was in Marks. Yes they had 20% off, but so did other shops which were as empty as those without. I'm going to the Tottenham Court Road tomorrow to get a computer and things before there's only old stock or no stock as the pound fails. What an appalling, unmitigated mess. So unnecessary. We could have had a decent bit of redistribution and social investment without wreaking this havoc. We did under MacMillan and under Ken Clarke. That'll teach us to install a spavined mule in office for eleven years.

Still, went for a new hairstyle this morning. Short and very shiny - like a glistening helmet (some underlying martial spirit showing itself perhaps). It's all very well having hair that can be put up, tied well back for the summer in all the heat, but it's jolly severe in face-pinching winter cold. And while they do cut hair beautifully in Italy, there is always that touch of exaggeration, that 'lit up like the Pontevecchio' (but for hair) aspect to their styling. London does it, but with proper English restraint. So if you see a passing angel with a shining casque of hair, carrying a bagful of fairisle jumpers and some Spode, on the number 7, say Hello.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Holding a General Election

The discussions of whether there will be a general election would benefit from being viewed through the prism of an election held in, for instance, the German Democratic Republic.

The Executive commands the Party completely and all policy and administrative decisions rest with the Executive. The numbers of alterations to internal Party democracy pushed through since the beginning of the 1990s have all concentrated policy, administrative and disciplinary powers in Executive hands - to the point now when even in Conference no vote may be taken that could be binding on the Executive, even were an unacceptable vote able to be forced, which it cannot as agendas are in the hands of the Executive.

The Party is quite small. Many are members of the Labour Movement but there is decoupling of the Movement from the Party itself. With this in mind the state of unreadiness of the Constituency Labour Parties, cited as evidence that no election is planned, becomes irrelevant. An election will not be fought that relies upon the mobilisation of CLPs as has been the case invariably up to now. We know this from the poverty of information and updated local party canvass returns in Glasgow East and in Glenrothes which was a source of wonder to the SNP, who are still campaigning in the standard way with close contacts with constituency members by candidates and a policy of soft canvassing and information-gathering at all times.

When the self identification of the New Labour Executive with the state itself, rather than as the government in office, is borne in mind, then state data bases, now extensive and far more invasive than political canvass returns, obviate the need for local party structures, and sophisticated analyses and targetting of local areas can be completed centrally. This will be a rolling programme so that there is a complete political picture of important local issues and threats, that can be dealt with in a co-ordinated and timely fashion using state resources available to a sitting government.

Poor Party funding status becomes irrelevant too as state resouces are made available to candidates, ostensibly to enhance 'communication' with constituents for instance.

Candidates can be profiled to fit local conditions and then imposed from the centre; they are, we know this from Glenrothes. Sitting candidates who cannot conform to the election strategy and profiles will be removed; grounds will be various and apparently reasonable - age for old mavericks, quango and other state-gift financial inducements for inappropriately profiled or ill-disciplined other candidates, a few straightforward bootings-out pour encourager les autres.

Mass inducements to a local electorate can be offered by the state. Want a call centre? Regional development funds? A good transport connection? How about a nice new school? Votes don't have to be bought one by one, though that will be on offer too. Local planning permissions, no health and safety hassle, 'grants for individual development of disadvantaged (enter category of your choosing)'. House, anyone? Frighteners can be applied too; would you like to be constantly reassessed for whatever claims you have been awarded? Some local services closed down?

As for getting out the vote, proxy, postal and perhaps electronic voting will all be used. There were voters in the Glenrothes by-election who had not voted for 15 years and more in general elections; moved to play their part in democracy in a by-election?

If the disaffection is too great all of this will come into play but may not be enough to get home. If the polls can be 'tailored' and publicised to demonstrate that the gap is narrow, so voting the 'wrong way' may lead to direct and personal loss and gain, then an election is viewed more favourably. The lack of any fixed term for a parliament or even the constitutional requirement for an election at all should be remembered too. It is not true, for well-rehearsed reasons, that there must be an election in 2010. Thsi choice of timing confers great advantage on the Executive in power.

The mass disaffection statements put together by the fuel protesters, the Countryside Movement, the Anti-War demonstrations, are important in building non-political networks that embolden voters in their opposition to government-as-state policies and practices. In eastern Germany they used the churches and non-religious cultural institutions' networks to build levels of personal resistance. But there the people had suffered democratic centralism and its absurd pretensions for nearly half a century - we have only had it since the beginning of this century and the crushing of democratic life and hopes and choice has not got everywhere yet.

The Opposition must energise its voters and enable them to support one another in facing this regime. The old political practices of our democracy are gone, as is shown so graphically by the empty Associations and CLPs. It is not just a matter of a clear and attractive set of policies, a manifesto that sets out what is to be done, though that is lacking too, and by this stage in the old game it ought to be being promulgated loud and clear.

The Opposition is at the enormous disadvantage of facing and opposing the state. And the state is developing a nasty capacity to tar effective opposition as irresponsible through to terrorist, and its practioners as renegades.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

England our England

Travelling along with an old friend I was struck by their loyalty to England. It has been accepted between us always that my views are to the left of theirs and that this is in part the result of class and upbringing as well as levels of wealth and connection. People like me benefitted immeasurably from the provision of opportunity in education, the availability of medical services, the removal of gross social conflict achieved by subsidised housing and unemployment benefit; and from the opening up of professional work, both government and private, to the influx of the meritocratically qualified. The scolarships and grants we won were to an entire lifestyle, not just to a school or university or professional training.

When we see New Labour tearing all this down, installing a surveilled client voter base with all that implies for the infliction of social and economic rigidity, masked under apparent expenditure increases in what once was such an admirable provision, our anger is much greater than that of those who never had to use, nor would consider using for their families, any of it.

Their loyalty is to their England, and if some aspects are authoritarian or deny social mobility, or cause financial misery for millions, that is a current misfortune that has occurred before and will be corrected by some felt but undefined quality of the English way of arranging the world; England has been through all of this before, and it doesn't really touch us, does it? New Labour are the government - yes, Brown's accession to power is iffy, but he is the prime minister now - and while they are the government they should have our support. Certainly they are unattractive, yes, they are failing quite large numbers of people, indeed, quite deliberately to enjoy being in power. Yes they lie and are amazingly hypocritical, all of that. But look at the United States; think of the support being offered to their new president by all Americans; we don't make such a public virtue of it but we cannot deny our support to our own country just because of the reprehensible Brown and his peculiar government. That would be to concede far too much importance to a temporary embarrassment. And staring at poor behaviour isn't quite right either.

True, all of it, but I cannot detach myself from all the people who are being let down, deprived, being fobbed-off with the third- and worse - rate, unnecessarily impoverished, plain bullied, because the England to which one owes allegiance is untouched, and attitudes and upbringing make protesting their condition, which most of the people seem to accept, graceless.

Also, this time, they aren't going to go away, you know.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Buying What Can Still Be Found

It's not just the shadow-Chancellor. The chances of a sterling collapse have never been so high. Angels fly tomorrow in the hope of getting out what is still in London. If it turns out to be, as feared, too late, then there will be some very fine presents under the tree this Christmas from bagging the prettiest things before they all disappear. It feels appropriately socialist planned economy to be carrying an 'in case' case.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

One Hand Wash(ington)es the Other

Leaders discussed the economic crisis over a meal of baked brie with walnut crostini, smoked quail with quince and thyme-roasted rack of lamb.

I wonder what they had for pudding.

Nicer in the South of France

The really important meeting that took place this weekend was in Nice. There the European Union and the Russians discussed mending the damage done by Georgian provocation and Russian opportunist reaction last August, and agreed to discuss political and economic partership between Russia and Europe, while the consideration of a pan-European security pact resumed. President Medvedev agreed to further talks to the satisfaction of Paris, Rome, Berlin and Madrid.

Russia has a key role in relations with Iran, and in moving forward the stabilisation of highly unstable nuclear states - Pakistan is the most frightening. Behind the extraordinary behaviour of the current Georgian government in attacking Russian peace keepers last August there was always a suspicion that in the dying days of his power Cheney and his faction were attempting to disturb the discussions of just what has been reasserted and renewed at Nice this weekend.

The threats of anti-missile shields and missile installations are lessening as the United States does not back up the president of Poland's assertion of assurances from America that the shield system will still be installed, and has to change his statements. Russia is reconsidering missile installations between Estonia and Poland.

The common ground mapped out between Russia - with large euro holdings - and the European Union on the financial crisis speaks of an agenda that is appropriate to both and furthers European and Russian coincident interests.

Taking in all this, and more of the detail, Washington's meeting with an outgoing President (and what never should be forgotten, Vice President), begins to look a bit like an attempt to make a final statement that covers up a waste of time.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Perspectives on Presumptuousness

Braced for the lessons to be taught by 'Britain's' prime minister this weekend? He's already in America practising his prancing and preening, as sterling collapses towards parity with the Euro.

President Bush warned on Wednesday against abandoning free-market principles in the search for a solution to the financial freeze-up. Bush said the world "should fix the problems we have rather than dismantle a system that has improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world." (Der Spiegel).

The Foreign Minister of France, who has been meeting with President-elect Obama (wherever are you David Miliband? Wot no meeting?) noted:

"I am not expecting big recipes coming out of the G-20 meeting. But I am expecting, particularly from the new administration, certainly a road map."

In a round-up of German opinion Süddeutsche Zeitung adds:

'..see the Washington D.C. summit as the beginning of a process... Even if the next US president isn't there,it doesn’t mean that the effort this weekend makes no sense.Experience from the first worldwide trade negotiations shows that it takes a long time. After a decade of talks, the world is still waiting for the first global trade agreement.

A larger obstacle on the way to a new financial architecture is the role played by the US and Great Britain. They will have to give up power and influence. If the state seeks more control and if the finance houses and their managers have to take on more responsibility, then profits will by necessity be lower. In 2007, 40 percent of all company profits came in the finance sector. But the price bubble in real estate and on the stock markets can grow no further -- and the dreams of wealth held by many Americans and British will have to be abandoned. Herein lies the problem. Many lived well from the bloated financial sector...'

A view from Europe brings Brown down with a bump. America is not going to 'give up power and influence', it is not going to permit others to determine its financial and economic choices. All Brown's nostrums require just that.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

It's a Bear not an Elephant in the Room

Washington seized control of the G20 meeting, and thus the agenda. But for Europeans there can be no real interest in America's assertion of its God-given right to control financial markets, with the United Kingdom as its unregulated side (not kick, there is no kick left in the UK, merely a mad usurper of office trying to save his caste). The meeting at the weekend is a waste of time.

The de-financialisation (forgive me) of the international economy has had perverse effects: falling commodity prices, empowerment of statist policies, the release of pseudo-keynesian mouther-offers from their cages. But underneath lies reality. Natural resources, organised states, industrial and manufacturing capacity, an educated working population, the economic interests of the people and elites of those states, and proximity (an often derided importance in the days of easy shipping), - need I go on?

Of course the United States continues to pretend that Russia is not to be trusted. After all, they thought that all that was left to do was fight over the spoils of a collapsed socialist empire. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Russia is much older than socialism. Russia is also the extension of Europe. Not 'the West' vaunted in Anglo-American myth and, in all fairness, reality rather a lot of years ago, when Stalin ruled and there was a threat to crush the life out of the rest of us. But Europe needs to move on. Preferably leaving most of the post War structures, and ideologies behind it.

America is going to be thinking of itself for a while (hence Brown's hysteria and the extraordinary notion that he can 'warn' President-elect Obama against 'isolationism'). And Europe needs to think of cosseting and valuing its relations with Euro/Asia's largest landmass, mineral resource, trained and educated population, market, and link with the East; and with a neighbour offering a friendly hand - or should that be paw?

Never again should the Chancellor of Germany be photographed receiving the embrace of the Demented of Downing Street.

When you need a hug, Bears are Best.

Once More Without Any Feeling At All

I was about to write on the bestiality of Brown but paused to check with a couple of sources. Even the beasts of the field (and forest, jungle, savannah, seas...) have emotions, feelings, empathy, theory of mind. We are brothers (and sisters).

But not with Brown. He doesn't work properly. It isn't clear why, nature or nurture, or even if not working properly is a status awarded by a current, condemnatory cultural stance, that will be forced to give way to acclaiming the Brown-like amongst us. That will be impossible for Angels; the visceral disgust response to Brown suggests it's hard-wired into the warm, affectionate, compassionate, kind, responsive, emotionally literate. What used to be called the Good.

In Brown's world and that of his kind, we will be hunted down and behaviourally conditioned until we stop it.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Elby's Post On Guido Lifted From Lilith's Blog

Elby the Beserk said...

So I'm walking the dog this morning, and meet a runner I occasionally see on this our regular walk. Woods, river, beautiful Somerset.

Usually he runs past and we exchange hellos. This morning, he stops, and says to me

"Do you hate Gordon Brown?"

Like that. Out of the blue.

"Yes", sez I, "indeed, I loath the man and and wish him all manner of ill".

He laughs and says "It's not particular his politics. It's HIM".

Spot on mate. You, me, and much of the rest of the country. That's why all these opinion polls make me laugh - they completely miss the point.

Gordon. Just stop breathing, mate, and do us all a favour.

Word ver : "murbrie"

Scottish for not being able to extract your head from your arse.

E.G. "I'm in a right murbrie today"
Posted by lilith at 17:19

Reality Has Turned Off the Motorway and Is Nearly Home

This dead-tired 'New Labour' regime is being retained in power for what, exactly? No amount of window dressing can hide the facts - the United Kingdom economy is being brought down by the worst Chancellor, and then usurper of Executive Leadership, ever. Global, global, global is just an excuse. Certainly the dangers to us all are coming from all directions. In that sense it is global, but epicentres'r'us.

Various political polling figures are confirming that it is just in Labour heartlands that there is any gain in support for Labour and its Leader. We know that proposed fiscal measures to be met by borrowing not by matching expenditure cuts are causing a massive withdrawal of funds from the United Kingdom economy and its faltering currency. We know that the years under Brown when London was not so much 'lightly regulated' as a haven for all the financial activities unregulated in the rest of the world are over. The President-elect has stated his intentions of pursuing financial secrecy centres and casinos very clearly.

Yes, it's November, and the State at least has invariably honoured its war dead, (even when Brown in Government was increasing their numbers by denying the financial resources to fight), so we are seeing the Head of State a lot. However the re-emergence from a marked absence in the last few years, outside of Remembrance Sunday, is noticeable. And looking well, interested and up-to-date too. Indeed, looking a lot better than the aging heir. The State is going to be in need of a Head quite soon.

There is the strange behaviour of the press - bigging-up a Prime Minister widely laughed-at, together with his Balls, by the City in the good years. And the even stranger behaviour of the Conservative party. Opposition is not a word to be applied to the Conservatives. They are doing the absolute minimum, and even less, to avoid an obituary in the Brown-boosting Times. Not to speak of European Union cries of acclaim, which are particularly odd when it is remembered that the eurozone has very different agendas from what could, at a last gasp, be called the sterling area.

There is something horrid around Brown. Not silence, more a lulling, to facilitate an ordered withdrawal. There is a great deal to be withdrawn after the London party.

Then the hosts, us, can be left to clear up our house.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Walk Before You Run

Sterling is seriously worrying. First because I've got some - not as much as last Spring when sent to spend it, and found that the best thing to buy in London turned out to be Euros (for the kinds of sums under discussion and the benefits to lifestyle etc.), and second because the steady departures of infinitely larger sums currently at walking pace, are threatening to speed up. Which is bad news for a much wider spectrum of sterling holders.

According to the FT, 'outflows from UK fixed instruments since September 10 this year have offset around 75 per cent of the inflows seen since the start of 2004.'
Simon Derrick at BNY Mellon said a shift in what investors are worrying about is underway; from concerns on the economic outlook causing abandonment of UK financial stocks, to how government support for the economy – whether from the bail-out of the banking industry or a UK fiscal stimulus package – would be paid for. This focus-shift has occurred over the past two months, due to the growing scarcity of pools of international capital that the UK government might hope to draw upon to finance its spending plans. Both Russia and China are looking to their own uses for their reserves. Certainly, after all the cheek from New Labour over the summer, Russia will not be particularly interested in doing any favours. China announced its own $586bn fiscal stimulus package over the weekend. Neither will be impressed by Brown's grandstanding on the new world order either.

'Mr Derrick said the test of the UK government’s plan to launch a package of tax cuts funded by increased government spending would come in the bond market.' (FT)

“The evidence from our own data suggests that international investors may have already made their decision,”...“In the circumstances we therefore suspect that the announcement of a stimulus package will provide investors with a fresh reason to sell sterling.”

Monday, 10 November 2008

Saviour of the World or Saving His Skin?

Swollen-headed and empty-handed as always, our Leader has overstepped the mark. He has questioned Bretton Woods. Worse, our bombastic Prime Minister has come up with his detailed proposals for a Bretton Woods' replacement; a new regulatory regime, global in its scope and transparent as gossamer.

There are no circumstances in which the United States will put up with their banking system, indeed any part of their life-style, being regulated by non-Americans. The dollar remains at the centre of the global economic system. It is there too because it is part of the development pull that is creating emerging economies.

Sterling, though, is far too weak a currency to be used any more in the swollen deregulated aspects of that system, dilapidated as it is by loss of empire, costs of war, and its very use in the deregulated system itself. This last has led to the collapse of real national economic capacity, and the desperate efforts to involve others in propping up London as a centre of financial dealing, with sudden demands for regulation, colleges of oversight, and the demeaning flights from capital city to capital city begging for funding for the International Monetary Fund - after all, how much is it going to cost to bail out the United Kingdom?

The results of these perverted New Labour policies, the promotion of London as the unregulated off-shore financial casino are:
- the creation of a desperate dash by most of the grossly overtaxed indigenous population into the deregulated sector - in the particular case, housing, where no tax or easily avoided tax was on offer to small, individual investors.
- the massive diversion of investment from industry and manufacturing into various bubbles in the deregulated sector, leading to the collapse of UK industry and manufacturing.
- an insupportable balance of payments deficit masked by the flexible exchange rates that removed external disciplines on nation states' economic adventures, or perhaps adventurism - a measure which had been required (and justified as right) to enable the United States to continue running its huge external deficit and thus fuel economic growth in emerging economies.

The political, democratic effects of all this in a country with such a consensual and notably fragile constitutional and legal system as the United Kingdom are devastating. They threaten any attempt by the people, from voting to insurgence, to overturn this now-embedded structure.

Under the cover of seeking IMF funds, hundreds of billions, from the Arab states and from China, there is the special pleading for the UK to be bailed out directly so as to avoid the embarrassments of IMF strictures, cutting of public expenditures, raising of interest rates, etc. suffered, at Brown's instigation, by Iceland.

Statements like, "I believe it is possible in a very short period of time to create an international fund that is strong enough to help withstand the difficulties. It is in every nation's interest and in the interests of hard-working families in our country and every country that financial contagion does not spread.", expose us all to ridicule, as Brown holds out the UK's begging bowl to China and the oil rich states of the Gulf.

Either America yields its central position, its own interests, and those of countries deeply co-involved in the dollar, or New Labour has to yield its City milch cow, its client state, its very existence. That's all the Saviour of the World posturing is about. Saving himself.

The Means of Production

Rereading "Mrs. Milburn's diaries : an Englishwoman's day-to-day reflections, 1939-45", while recovering from agricultural labour, it occurred to me that her account could not be used as a guide today, although she was a very ordinary English woman, as she points out herself.

Capital, land, labour and technical knowledge are not available to millions of people in England. Willingness to feel how I feel right now, and Mrs Milburn describes feeling after a nasty November day in her garden, damp and cold, hoeing, weeding, digging over, clearing and mulching, is not likely to be offered either. Few even know it is required; or the acceptance of damage to crops and garden produce, or their complete loss from weather, insects, moulds and marauders. An entire skill set and culture, and the physical strength and strength of mind to put them into practice, has disappeared from our world. Let's hope it won't be needed. But it was the difference between surviving and starving in England only two generations ago.

And in the generation before that, in the great Depression, people did starve in England - read Woodruff's accounts of between the Wars. People are much softer than they think they are. And we are going to have to toughen up and learn a lot in a hurry.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Commonsense Banking

After David Hodgkinson, chief operating officer of HSBC, told the Glorious Leader where to get off, as they flew along on Brown's mission to rattle the UK begging bowl at the Arabs, HSBC has released a statement calling Mr Hodgkinson's remarks “common sense”.

“If base rates come down then rates for borrowers will fall, but interest rates must reflect the cost to a bank of its own borrowing and the risk presented by a borrower. That is the foundation of responsible lending.”



Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on--on--and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away . . . O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.

Accepting Honour

In July 2003 the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was voted the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor - known as the Congressional Gold Medal - the American nation's highest and most distinguished civilian award. Originally awarded to military leaders for achievement in battle, it became a civilian medal after the military Medal of Honor was instituted.

'The Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are generally considered to carry the same level of prestige (though significantly fewer Gold Medals have been awarded). The chief difference between the two is that the Freedom Medal is personally awarded by the President of the United States (executive branch), and Congressional Gold Medals are awarded by acts of the Congress (legislative branch). It requires the sponsorship of two thirds of the members of the House of Representatives and 67 Senators.

Each medal honors a particular individual, institution, or event. Although the first recipients included citizens who participated in the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, Congress broadened the scope of the medal to include actors, authors, entertainers, musicians, pioneers in aeronautics and space, explorers, lifesavers, notables in science and medicine, athletes, humanitarians, public servants, and foreign recipients.' (official site of the Congressional Gold Medal).

This is a gift from the American people.

When Blair became only the fourth British prime minister to address the US Congress in July 2003, it was widely thought that he would collect the medal at the same time. But he didn't and, within hours of his speech, the weapons expert David Kelly was found dead. (cf The Times)

The ousted prime minister has never collected the Medal, nor the Ellis Island Medal of Honour also awarded in 2003.

"I don't think it's going to happen now," a spokesperson for that award's sponsor remarked. Recipients are honoured for showing outstanding qualities in their personal and professional lives, while maintaining the richness of their particular heritage. Blair is the first non American to receive the award, whose roll includes Ronald Reagan, Rudy Giuliani and Muhammad Ali, as well as:
Bill Clinton
Hillary Rodham Clinton
George H.W. Bush
Gerald Ford
Bob Hope
Henry Kissinger
Lou Papan
Admiral Robert J. Natter, USN (Ret.)
Michael Finnegan
Goli Ameri
James L. Doti
Michael Novak

Two explanations have been offered formally for this failure to receive acknowledged honours which must be seen as offered to office as well as to the individual occupying that office. The first, particularly offensive, is that the individual design of the Congressional Gold Medal has not been agreed. Nelson Mandela got his in 56 days; John Paul II's took 165. The second, that Prime Minister Blair could not accept such an honour while British soldiers continue to die in Iraq has always been invalid - since when have losses in battle ruled out awards for courage? And for a very long time British troops languish, unused by the American or Iraqi commands, outside Basra. No explanation has been offered for the discourtesy in not collecting the Ellis Island Medal of Honour.

What damage is New Labour doing to the relations between the people of the United Kingdom and the people of America when the publicly offered gifts of the Americans to us are discarded and abandoned by Blair and Brown (who simply left his gift from the United States' President in the aircraft). We know it's 'Me, Me, Me' at all levels in New Labour's world, but in the real world it's 'Us, Us, Us'.

Some explanation must be provided quickly and clearly, to America and to the United Kingdom, on this ill-mannered, destructive behaviour.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Palle, Palle, Palle

The arms of the Arte del Cambio - the bankers' guild to which the Medici belonged - were incorporated into the arms of that greatest of renaissance families, with which Florence and Tuscany are emblazoned from side to side and end to end. The enormous wealth generated by the codification of banking - the big bang that gave birth to the Rinascimento, and the culture of the West, gave too, the war cry of the Florentines when their city and their culture were under attack.

Once more the banks are called upon to defend us from the assaults of statists and authoritarians.

HSBC, HSBC, HSBC doesn't have quite the same ring - but the resounding 'balls!' the independent banks are giving to Brown and his puppet, as they try to reinflate their burst bubbles, warm the cockles of my anglo-florentine heart.

The Petrified Forest

New Labour losing Glenrothes would have been a fascinating scenario. Holding it is rather dull. Not unnaturally the voters there were more concerned with ameliorating their situation in a degrading economic climate in the UK than with providing for more speculation on the collapse of the Labour party in Scotland.

The Labour-held Westminster seats in Scotland are like a petrified forest that would be cut down in any general election. Held since the Conservatives suffered the Thatcher wipe-out which reduced them to an English party, the same fate awaits tens of Labour Westminster MPs from Scotland, reducing Labour, too, to an English party. But this Scottish voting fodder is the means with which the national New Labour Executive sustains its grip on power; and in the case of the Westminster prime minister providing his only electoral validity.

A second New Labour loss of a safe seat in Scotland would have opened the vision of permanent minority status for Labour at Westminster. It would have spurred the devolutionary process in the United Kingdom, and not just in Scotland, as Westminster became an English parliament. It would have altered both major UK political parties to being contenders from the centre right and the centre left only in England. It would have produced a Scottish opposition of the centre right to the SNP which would assume the position of dominant party of the centre left in Scotland.

The growth of the permanent, administrative governance and its identification with an authoritarian state that is being imported with our assimilation into the European Union would no longer be inevitable. A highly devolved Scotland and England would defeat the regionalisation that breaks local unities and threatens our democracy.

Congratulations Mr Roy, congratulations New Labour, and best wishes for their future to the electors of Glenrothes.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Teaching Brown Some Manners

President-Elect Obama does not plan to attend the global economic summit in Washington called by President Bush for 15 November:

"The one thing he is not going to do is let anyone think he's undermining the president," said Gregory Craig, who has advised Obama on foreign policy. "There's only one president, and he'll take pains to make sure nothing he does is taken as undermining President Bush."

So much for the Illustrious Leader and Saviour of the World As We Know It and his public call for the newly elected president to act at once and not wait until January when he takes office.

Dreary Steeples of New Labour

The excitement, the verve, the joyous celebration of the change that the electorate of the Unites States has chosen has not overshadowed our ugly old regime's test at the polls today as much as they had hoped. Ever unwilling to have their grim unpopularity put to the vote, they had wanted the possibility of losing a heartlands safe seat hidden by other events.

Instead, as they grind out the same old lies, the same old cant about fairness and hard-working families and how nothing is their fault - all this to people whose lives have been on low-level hold for years as a result of New Labour's tax farming and crushing of opportunity - a shining contrast, and a measure of the weight of the New Labour dead hand, forces itself through their media narrative.

Glenrothes electors have the chance the majority of us have been denied for years today. Vote. Vote for the change we all want and you can choose.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Fly the Crux Decussata Tomorrow

The claim that the current state of the economy was the time for an emotionally challenged, control freaky, economically incompetent, lying, unelected, bogey-eater - spun as, "No time for a novice" failed the democratic test last night.

America rejected soundly what New Labour offers here - the utterly compromised post democratic consensus of focus groupies and wonky triangular policy presentation.

To the voters of Glenrothes falls the honour of bringing the picture of the unelected old feartie down from the attic and burning it.

What You See Might Not Be What You Get

The wives of the great and the good have always thought themselves entitled to intervene in the lives of others. Cooking the dinners, fixing the placement, listening to the table chit chat, often reasonably well-educated if not necessarily intelligent, they demand a share in the outside fun.

Some of them want formal office and recognition, piggy-backed on their husband's power that they believe was achieved uniquely with their support. Cherie Blair was one, and Hillary Clinton's presumption was monstrous. On a more rational scale there are the Wives littering local councils and, even more now that quango-power has triumphed, bringing in good money from the opportunity to provide a good dinner, a decent house, and comforts to the patronage classes.

When choosing a representative (admittedly a rare privilege in today's United Kingdom) look carefully at who they are shacked-up with. That person will be fired with frustrated ambition, self-regard, a sense of rights denied, and astonishing notions of entitlement. And they will be on every local and national board, commission, grant-giving body, governors, directors, rulers - you name it.

The sight of Sarah Brown glad handing miners' widows in Cardenden should freeze the marrow of the bones.

Wouldn't It Be Nice... first elect our candidate for high office; and then elect the person we believe will best represent the good, and the interests of all our society. Affirming our candidate's determination to support the choice that has been made, win or lose, enjoying democracy's great strength, to enable choice and to encourage unity around the result.

Wouldn't it be nice to be standing in lines for hours to exercise our vote.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Time to End the Sealing of Archives for Generations

The president of the International Jewish Committee on Inter-religious Consultations said that the Pope was “seriously considering” not proceeding with the beatification of Pius XII before the opening of Vatican archives on 'Hitler's Pope'. The archives will not be open to researchers for at least six years, and “a time for reflection would be appropriate” the Vatican said. The decree that Pope Benedict must sign has been held by the Vatican since May.

Sixty five years have passed since Pius XII saw Italy end its long, dark night of fascism as it was convulsed under civil war and foreign armies fighting over its entire territory. Still the political and civic life of the country is affected by those years. All information on them should be in the public domain. Yet there is an arbitrary and undefended, as well as indefensible, policy to keep archives closed.

This applies to all of us, not just to Italy or to the Vatican. We cannot understand the world we live in if authoritarian secrecy measures are taken to hide it from our sight and consideration. The Vatican almost prides itself on being a secret state; preening in being the repository of secrets that endow its sense of self importance.

But it is matched and over-matched by the United Kingdom. The wholesale practice of hiding past action makes our history the product of a 'narrative' just as much as current affairs are constantly bent into a propaganda tool. Our state and our government need to get up to speed at least with the last days of the German Democratic Republic that in so many others aspects, they clearly ape.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

A Measure of Their Idiocy

'Read Leijonhufvud. And act. ' is up there with 'neoclassical endogenous growth theory'.

Mr Heseltine, you should be commenting at this hour. Unfortunately Will Hutton cannot gift his surname in the same manner. But it's still balls.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Inappropriate Behaviour

The electors of Glenrothes are going to do a great deal of damage next Thursday, however they vote. If they elect the candidate for the Scottish National Party the earth will rain down faster on the coffin lid of Labour in Scotland, helping to bury a corrupted and rotting regime that afflicts us all. If Labour hold one of their safest seats in the United Kingdom the triumphalism, the vainglorious assertions of the Leader, whose only claim to democratic validity is provided by their next door neighbours, will be embarrassing; the Leader always is embarrassing of course,
but garbage about 'getting on with the job from morning to night with hard working families' will have the bins overflowing.

The menace embodied in choosing a head teacher to stand for Labour is typical of the low-level bullying that is used by the Party throughout the country. Head teachers are powerful people in communities. When the Labour apparatchik, hand-picked by Brown (sorry, that's an image bordering on repellent) declares he is 'standing up to be counted' Stalin's remark that it is not who votes but who counts that is important crosses the mind. The Labour candidate is going to be a disappointed head teacher if he fails to become a Westminster MP. He will have been disappointed (and we all know that disappointing and unhelpful behaviour has consequences in school)by the parents of children in full time education.

The state education system is a watchful, recording network spanning age groups and extensive local areas. It is quite wrong for any head teacher to ask for such a valuable favour as a vote from so many who, rightly or wrongly, might feel their family's fortunes affected by its refusal. The potential for improper pressure, even the possibility of the appearance of it, is to be avoided in any mature democratic system. It isn't a matter of rules and regulations and their observance, it is a matter of public comportment by an already public figure: 'After 37 years teaching in the area, to many voters he will always be "Sir".' reports the Herald. He should have behaved appropriately and avoided such public engagement in partisan politics.