Sunday, 28 February 2010

We Must Love One Another or Die

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
'I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,'
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.


Saturday, 27 February 2010

Resentment of Gifts Angers the Gods.

Small HGs standardly sat for GCSE Italian at 12 and strolled off with whatever was then the highest mark;  at 15 they sat A-Level Italian (a then 'unreformed' A-Level, very hard because of the sophistication of understanding in history, geopolitics and formal grammatical analysis required and, not least, the grasp of Italian literature from the earliest times to the present day which made Mr HG blench as he was required to produce teaching to the past papers).  It served two purposes:  a highly-prized  qualification for the still functioning universities, and a sharp reminder that much of what was being studied at school was way behind what they would have been working on in Florence.

The demand that the assessment of achievement in Mandarin should be divided between 'native speakers' and 'the rest' is wholly ill-founded.  Either you can cope with Dante, Tasso, Manzoni,   the problems of severe underdevelopment within a single country, challenges to state power, governmental corruption and the grey economy, the centrality of banking and its history, art and culture from della Francesca to film, the Camerata dei Bardi to Nono,  architecture and its uses, and the role of Church and State  (mutatis mutandis) or you can't.  This is an inappropriate playing field to level.

Like performance in music, mathematics, sport, endowment cannot be gainsaid.  Value-added  is a poor measure of capability when the start lines are so diverse.  Are all examinations to be individually appropriate to the starting point of the examinee?     There are built-in compensatory mechanisms - it's not easy to appreciate Wilfred Owen and his contribution to our cultural understanding of English history if you look at the First World War from the viewpoint of the defeating of Austria.

Friday, 26 February 2010

You Vote For All of Us on 6 March, Iceland.

Just imagine that on 6 March you could vote in a referendum that would reject Brown's bail-out of the UK banks, reject membership of the European Union, and save you piles and piles of your taxes being paid to unworthy recipients for years and years.

Only you can't because the United Kingdom hasn't got a decent and codified constitution as has Iceland. 

We aren't even getting a chance to vote the Big Bully out  by 6 March, never mind give him a good slap with a wet fish like the Icelanders.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

So What Shall We Tell the Children? Balls?

Angels are past caring about the adults.  Here is Nick Humphrey on the damage that is being done to the children.

'The problem—I mean the problem for children's education—is not just that so many adults positively believe in things that flatly contradict the modern scientific world view, but that so many do not believe in things that are absolutely central to the scientific view.

A survey published last year showed that half the American people do not know, for example, that the earth goes round the sun once a year. Fewer than one in ten know what a molecule is. More than half do not accept that human beings have evolved from animal ancestors; and less than one in ten believe that evolution—if it has occurred—can have taken place without some kind of external intervention.

Not only do people not know the results of science, they do not even know what science is. When asked what they think distinguishes the scientific method, only 2% realised it involves putting theories to the test, 34% vaguely knew it has something to do with experiments and measurement, but 66% didn't have a clue.

Nor do these figures, worrying as they are, give the full picture of what children are up against. They tell us about the beliefs of typical people, and so about the belief environment of the average child. But there are small but significant communities just down the road from us—I mean literally just down the road, in New York, or London or Oxford—where the situation is arguably very much worse: communities where not only are superstition and ignorance even more firmly entrenched, but where this goes hand in hand with the imposition of repressive regimes of social and inter-personal conduct—in relation to hygiene, diet, dress, sex, gender roles, marriage arrangements, and so on... alike in providing an intellectual and cultural dungeon for those who live among them.'

This Really Matters. What Do You Think Should be Taught to Your Children?

I trust we are all keeping up at  the back? 

Fodor refutes Fodor's critique of natural selection?

David Wallace (Oxford), following a link from my earlier post, points out this passage from Fodor's critique of Putnam's attack on cognitive science:
I don’t, myself, think that cognitive science is more in need of philosophical defence than is, say, ornithology. The warrant of the enterprise, in both cases, is not that the questions pursued are ‘well-defined’, but the truths that are discovered in the course of pursuing them. For someone who repeatedly claims to be a pragmatist, Putnam is strangely insensitive to the methodological truism that success is what justifies. If he really wants to mount a respectable attack on cognitive science (or ornithology for that matter) he has to show that the truths it claims to have discovered are spurious, or that they can be explained just as well without appeals to representational mental states and processes. That, however, would be hard work, and Putnam doesn’t even try. All of his arguments are a priori.
Dr. Wallace comments: 
All of which seems exactly right to me – but it could apply, mutatis mutandis, to Fodor’s own critique of natural selection, and indeed it’s pretty much what many of the commentators on Fodor have indeed been saying. As Fodor himself says in the same LRB critique, “what a strange business philosophy is”.
Leiter h/t again

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

In His Own Words

The culture of bullying under the Brown regime has been described for some days now in the press and in various newly-published books.  What is even more disturbing is Brown's acknowledgment of his behaviour.

Speaking out 'for the first time about the claims that staff in his office were bullied....He admitted his actions could be viewed as "demanding" and that of a "hard taskmaster" who sometimes got angry and impatient,' but said the office of the Prime Minister could not be held by a "shrinking violet".
"I get angry sometimes – doesn't everybody? I get impatient, I am driven to do the things," he said. "When I came into the job, I said look, I will try my utmost and I challenge people, I ask them to do the best they can.
"Actually, we work in an open plan office, we are a sort of family in Downing Street and like every family there are issues that come from time to time, but we have a got a great working environment and we get things done."
"In my job you have got to get things done, you have got to push people you have got to challenge people. You don't solve a world recession by being a shrinking violet."'  (Telegraph)

This repellent model of familial social relations is wrapped around with delusionary notions of capacity to act and achievements from his actions which feed into justification for the model he is using, and for the means used to maintain it.

"I get angry sometimes - doesn't everybody?"  No, most people do not feel anger in their relations with others; and if they are expressing anger it is interpreted as helplessness in distress and is met with offers of help and feelings of embarrassment at an adult regression to childish behaviour.

"I get impatient, I am driven to do things."   This is anger expressed as 'impatience' and  here resulting from the delaying of gratification; with  external drivers to actions -  'things'  - unspecified but clearly recognised as inappropriate, which permits the distancing of self from  bad behaviour.

""When I came into the job, I said look, I will try my utmost and I challenge people, I ask them to do the best they can."  The command - 'look',  the threat - 'I challenge people',  the contempt for the abilities of the other that must from time to time substitute for the actions of self, the unawareness of the autonomy of others in offering co-operation.

"Actually, we work in an open plan office,"  The implicit denial - 'actually' -  of exclusionary, secret decision-taking.

"and  we are a sort of family in Downing Street and like every family there are issues that come from time to time, but we have a got a great working environment and we get things done."  The assertion of authority and hierarchy where any challenge to the centrality of self is described as 'issues' within a (deeply-flawed) notion of intra-familial relationships, a relationship model which could not be more improper in the workplace.

"and we get things done." "In my job you have got to get things done, you have got to push people you have got to challenge people."   That is,  'people' must do as they are told, as if they were children in a cruel and dysfunctional family.

"You don't solve a world recession by being a shrinking violet."  The complete justification for selfish and unacceptable behaviour derived from a delusional goal that 'requires' total subordination of others and their reasonable, accepted needs and expectations to satisfying the goals of the self.

'A shrinking violet' is a derisory term used to contrast the justificatory grandeur of self-defined 'job' against a threatening requirement to behave normally and acceptably in post and in the public arena of a work place.


Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Another Day, Another Global Conference

Brown's been holding another global conference, but don't hold your breath for major innovation or an alteration in our global circumstances (except the cold realisation  that the nightmare is real, they have got steadily worse for the last 13 years).  It was just the ususal global conference indulgence towards a Leader who must be humoured because of the damage he would otherwise do on being global conference-thwarted.

The  Prime Minister-in-office repeated his  commitment to high speed broadband.  His ' Government' would invest £1bn to extend superfast broadband to "100pc of the population." He also promised to spend £14bn on projects such as Crossrail, high speed rail and motorways.
Other measures pledged by ministers at the conference included:
  • An "Investors' Charter" - a series of promises from the UK Government centred on "maintaining macroeconomic stability as a basis for low inflation and sustained growth." It included pledges to "enhance UK skills"; "develop UK infrastructure" and "make sure your voice is heard across Government."
  • A pledge to form the UK innovation Investment Fund to benefit life sciences and advanced manufacturing businesses.
  • A commitment to improve access to visas to foreign firms.
All this is reported in the Telegraph.  Frankly they deserve an award for being able to bear taking in once more this reheated set of unfulfilled 'pledges'.

Raymond Geuss on Teaching Philosophy

I have what I have always held to be a mildly discreditable day job, that of teaching philosophy at a university. I take it to be discreditable because about 85 percent of my time and energy is devoted to training aspiring young members of the commercial, administrative or governmental elite in the glib manipulation of words, theories and arguments. I thereby help to turn out the pliable, efficient, self-satisfied cadres that our economic and political system uses to produce the ideological carapace which protects it against criticism and change. I take my job to be only mildly discreditable, partly because I don’t think, finally, that this realm of words is in most cases much more than an epiphenomenon secreted by power relations which would otherwise express themselves with even greater and more dramatic directness. Partly, too, because 10 percent of the job is an open area within which it is possible that some of these young people might become minimally reflective about the world they live in and their place in it; in the best of cases they might come to be able and willing to work for some minimal mitigation of the cruder excesses of the pervading system of oppression under which we live. The remaining 5 percent of my job, by the way, what I would call the actual “philosophical” part, is almost invisible from the outside, totally unclassifiable in any schema known to me—and quantitatively, in any case, so insignificant that it can more or less be ignored.

H/T  Leiter Reports - a Philosophy Blog

"What You See Is What You Get." No Thanks Then Mr and Mrs Brown

'First God makes them and then he pairs them' is the rather cruel Italian version of 'A match made in Heaven'.   Mrs Brown, inevitably,   stepped out yesterday to comment inappropriately on  an enormous political row about the culture of bullying embodied by the Labour regime.

Mr Brown is not very quick on the emotional uptake.  Emotion seems to have a very limited expressive range  for him.  He has to be told about refinements of expression of feeling.  Rage and self-satisfaction are not really enough Prime Minister, the electorate you answer to expects comprehension elaborated in subtlety over every aspect of politics.  Which makes your obsessive fiddling with every aspect of politics rather than leaving others to get on with their jobs and, incidentally the people to get on with their lives, a fearful machine for displaying your inadequacies.

Mrs Brown is similarly without appropriate affect.  But while both display a notable disregard for dress and ornamentation, her emotional range is limited by the centrality of her perception of self.  Loud, large and graceless, she perceives herself quiet, elegant, unassuming but communicative.   Thrusting herself forward unaware of our surprise at her public behaviour, she 'speaks' for a non-existent constituency, a construct of her self-absorption and self-interest.

The art of spousal self-abnegation was brought to perfection by Dennis Thatcher - wholly  supportive in private.  When told his wife intended to challenge Heath for the Leadership of the Conservative party his reply is recounted in Campbell's book:

"Leader of what, dear?"  And then the dawning,  "You must be out of your mind.  You haven't got a hope."  But he never said a word in public.  That's how spouses should behave.


Monday, 22 February 2010

Time for an English Parliament

“I know what I stand for, and I know who I came into politics to represent.” 

Scottish Member of the Westminster Parliament for the Scottish seat of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath.

"I did not come into politics not to take what is owed to me."

Scottish Member of the Westminster Parliament for the Scottish seat of Glasgow North East 1979-2009 when, the  the first Speaker of the House of Commons to resign since John Trevor in 1695, he was forced out and then appointed to the Upper House by the Member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

Behaving Badly

The improper behaviour of Mr and Mrs Brown is now on public display.  The behaviour of neither of them is appropriate in a  democracy.   An essential characteristic of democracy is election not just to office but  to public role.

The lack of democratic sanction to the roles the pair of them have taken up  both within the Labour party and within government is offensive.  Mrs Brown has put herself forward into the political role of chief cheer leader and public expiator of her husband's behaviour in office. And in the office.  She introduces him at the Party Conference with a speech normally reserved to the elected Deputy Leader of the Party; she appears in the media resolutely advancing the theory of the lovableness of Gordon; she acts inappropriately, indeed mannerlessly, at official dinners (to which she is invited only as a courtesy, as a spouse) making political points through sending back dishes of which she disapproves. 

Brown has now confessed that there was a prior arrangement outside both Party consultation and electoral consultation with the country that he should 'take over' the premiership at a time to be agreed between him and the elected prime minister.    Despite the elected prime minister standing on the assurance of serving a full term, he was driven from office by a Brown putsch followed by a refusal to go to the country and obtain his own electoral mandate.  And the political brutality used to achieve this is enacted too in personal brutality displayed towards staff who serve in the prime minister's office.  While Mr and Mrs Brown weep on television working people are so distressed by their individual treatment in Downing Street they are frightened to go to work.

Both of them need to go and be 'passionate, 'emotional', and 'caring' in their own private context.  Such behaviour has no place in our democratic representation or in the roles it creates.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Polls and Their Uses

Political polls are highly dependent upon the reputation for probity of those who run them. To a surprisingly lesser extent they depend upon the technical competence of how they are sampled, weighted, and their questioning is worded, ordered, and organised - all those anoraky things. 

This is because, bluntly, polls are nothing more than rough and ready quick reference for how all manner of events are being interpreted politically by the population at large.  Any reasonably aware observer can do as well, and does.  Which leads to the politically unperceptive, and politically desperate in their commitment to their 'team', dumping the jiggery pokery of data collection and analysis and denouncing pollsters as self-seekers after political reward, or incompetent at their technical undertakings, or both, if their own desires, and clumsy perceptions,  are contrasted.

 People who can't be bothered to think about politics really, or are unable to assimilate and process the diverse inputs of political outcomes, take their lead from polling and their reassurance from polling's spurious 'academicity'.  And if the polls don't say what their inadequate political understanding and lack of attention to detail tells them, then the pollster gets it.  

We Are the Fair

Fairness is the election's key note. This pair should remember:

None but the brave deserve the fair

James Galbraith on What Is To Be Done

An email forwarded by Mr HG.  Perhaps Angels should have a different sort of computer.

"Friends & Family:
At the request of Policy Network, a London-based outfit that is organizing a "Progressive Governance" conference [another Browned-out conference, ed.] I supplied a short comment on jobs policy. The whole document is here:  My comment has been extracted and put up on the web here:
Since it's only a couple of hundred words, here's the whole thing:


Time to Re-read Keynes
James K. Galbraith

"Now that the immediate crisis has passed," Policy Network asks for "long-term strategies to shape our post-recession economies" and "to promote economic growth."

But the immediate crisis hasn't passed. It is not over for the jobless. It is not over for those losing their homes. It is not over for Greece, Spain, Portugal, or Iceland, facing ruin in the capital markets.

Europe has no plan for jobs. In America, President Obama has recently sent a jobs program and a call for investments in transportation, clean energy, and education to a stalemated Congress. No country has a credible plan for effective homeowner debt relief. To the plight of their own periphery, the countries of the European center appear to respond with folded arms.

The right goal is not to shape "post-recession growth." Growth is not assured. It cannot be assumed. And it is not even the highest priority. The right task is to find a fair, effective, and sustainable path out ofcrisis.

People need work. We face the challenge of climate change. This challenge must be met while also improving the quality of life, or it can never be met at all. The broad outline of a program is therefore plain. There is no mystery about it. In 1929, Keynes wrote,

"there is work to do; there are men to do it. Why not bring them together?" Today as then, it is that simple.

Do we need to "rethink the relation between the market and the state"? A futile hope! Those who once thought that the market could flourish without the state have either already "rethought," or they cannot think. They are our own Stanley Baldwins and when they discourse on this subject, "it not only is nonsense...but it looks like nonsense to any simpleminded person who considers it with a fresh, unprejudiced mind."

In the crisis, the financial sector collapsed. It hasn't recovered. The big banks remain open, but they make few new loans, take practically no commercial risks, and their old customers - households without wealth, businesses with out hope - make no effort to obtain credit. In this situation, the state ['state' is being used as 'government here, ed.] must act. It can act through the banking system by mandate, as it does in China and as it used to do in Japan and France. Or it can bypass the banks and go to work directly - as it did in America in the New Deal and as Keynes proposed for Britain in 1929.

A jobs program? Keynes again:

"No, says Mr Baldwin. There are mysterious, unintelligible reasons of high finance and economic theory why this is impossible. It would be most rash. It would probably ruin the country. Abra would rise, cadabra would fall...No, cries Mr Baldwin. It would be most unjust.... Unemployment is the lot of man... For the more the fewer, the higher the less."

The question facing world leaders today is not what to do. It is whether to do it. There are two goals to meet: full employment and sustainable energy. That's technically complex. But the complexities are complexities of engineering, organization and politics. They are not complexities of economics or finance.

Yet the question is posed as though it involved deep questions and insuperable obstacles, to whose true nature the uninitiated cannot be exposed. Thus the hue and cry over public debt and deficits projected to be unsustainable... for reasons never stated... in the long run. Our papers and our television speak of almost nothing else. But if they are right as all the voices of Wall Street and the City say then how come the long-term interest rate on the government bonds of the rich countries remains so low? In the United States, the federal government can borrow for 20 years at less than 4.4 percent. And it can borrow short term for practically nothing.

In truth, the deficit/debt uproar is a deliberate effort to sidetrack attention, to defeat the will of the electorates in the United States, as well as Greece among others, who stubbornly insist on real change,
effective action and financial reform. Those behind the uproar never foresaw the financial crisis. They never warned against the dangers of excessive private debt. [we should have been so lucky as to have had such a decent, economically literate Chancellor of the Exchequer, ed.] Their interest is plain: they profit from private debts!

So it pays to make believe that private is productive and public is sterile, that private is stable and public is not, when the reality is the other way around. [nope, that ' so' is inappropriate; it paid to enslave most of the population in debts for what they already owned in their sad little attempt to capitalise on the privatisation of social assets; then they became clients of the never-ending post-democratic progressive administrations and their political elite, ed.]

A final word from Keynes:

"It may seem very wise to sit back and wag the head. But while we wait, the unused labor [leave it, what's a 'u' matter? ed.] of the workless is not piling up to our credit in a bank, ready to be used at some later time. It is running irrevocably to waste; it is irretrievably lost. Every puff of Mr Baldwin's pipe costs us thousands of pounds."

[And every moment Brown has been in office for the last thirteen years has cost us a generation of young lives and an abandonment of any hope of betterment or even of work for almost 10 million of the generation above them, ed.]

Friday, 19 February 2010

Securing British Fashion's Future

London Fashion Week,  2010/2011, was  opened by  Mrs Brown, who said she was full of admiration and awe for the young designers.

“Fashion has taken its place as one of the most dynamic parts of the creative economy.”

“I am uplifted by their passion and fearless determination.” 

The prime minister’s wife wore a printed frock by Erdem,  accessorised with a belt made from a recycled fire-hose.

No Economic Credence Can Be Given to the Layard and Skidelsky Letters to the FT

Under the guise of controversy there is unanimity of view on the need to cut the Brown structural deficit.  The only difference is one of timing.  Those who want to do it now, in this budget, and those who would rather do it next year, after the general election that Brown cannot avoid.

Dressed in low-level technical arguments the difference in view is patently and exclusively political.  For shame those who flaunt their technical credentials to justify their political support for 13 years of Labour misrule.


Looking down (or should that be: looking down at?) those lists of signatories, there are two instant reactions: so old, - over 70 can be still up to to it, but there is a reason why old men are required to leave their university posts.

Wot no Business Schools?  No LBS, no Judge Institute (and they can be quite progressive shall we call it?), no INSEAD,  no Bocconi?  This is organised political propaganda  to put a stamp of approval on a disaster of economic policy.

As the graffito has it - old professors never die they just lose the use of their faculties.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Borrowing From Italy offers a much better documented case on why United Kingdom commentors should stop calling anyone else PIGS.  Italians couldn't care less what non-Italians call them;  their sense of self and its beauty, their delight in their country in every sense - history, culture, wealth, life-style -  is beyond the reach of mere mortals.  It's incomers like me who grow irritated by external vulgarity and incomprehension of Italian perfection.

Italians are far too urbane to remark on Mr and Mrs Brown and their diverse but united transgressions against good sense and good taste.  That Mr Brown is as a (non-Italian) child in his conduct of his  country's finances (Italians persist in regarding their colony as stopping at the Wall) is to be expected.  Did Mario Draghi gave him a helping hand in hiding his incompetence, and as resulting ravaging debt became all too much for him?  It was well understood that a useful idiot would be needed for the wilder shores of capitalist and financial markets to be provided with an offshore, non-European haven outside of more severely conducted states.

Fashion is one of the sectors designated by Brown as a 'British growth sector'.   Even Mario Draghi isn't going to be able to hoik him (or is it her?) out of that delusional mindset.


Mario Draghi didn't help Greece with its swaps;  the Bank of Italy has stated he hasn't helped anyone else either.  Thank Goodness for that.  No one decent should touch the Brown regime with a barge-pole.

We Need More Garden Cities

FIAT is closing its car manufacturing plant in Sicily.  There's nothing wrong with the workforce or their output but there's everything wrong with siting a major manufacturing plant on an island with poor links to the mainland, iffy levels of corruption in administration and regional government, and an underlying sociopolitical purpose to the plant being there at all, reliant upon government, regional and European Union funding which multiplies the interference with the industrial and economic objectives of FIAT's company strategies.   Sergio Marchionne displays a brisk attitude to governmental political interference in his industrial planning, in Sicily or anywhere else in the world.

FIAT says the plant in Sicily is like a cathedral in the desert.  It is no surprise that the Italian government, and the regional government in Sicily is offering large subsidies to any one willing to take FIAT's place as a work-provider.

This kind of government activity is precisely the waste of resources that Labour has committed in regions of the United Kingdom that have poor communications, iffy levels of corruption in administration and regional government, and an underlying sociopolitical purpose in using tax-derived funds to direct work-provision to deserts; inter alia multiplying interference in  the industrial and economic strategies of those manufacturing and industrial enterprises that do struggle to exist in once important industrial zones. 

Wealth from European Union regional funding, and from the UK tax-take  should have been used to build infrastuctural systems, and to close down no longer viable towns and cities. Their populations would have been attracted to newer and better positioned population centres where manufacturing jobs and skill centres could have been encouraged and expanded by the use of these thrown-away resources. Instead our tax-raised wealth has been used  to create not cathedrals in deserts but trapped populations of client voters whose only option is to support the hand that feeds them.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Philosophy Downfall

Leiter (Angels Latest Rockets) has happened to catch Hitler's disappointment in failing to get into his university of choice.

He should never have used Stalin as a referee, as Leiter notes.

Time For It To Be Made Clear When the Election Is Held

This Parliament is within weeks of expiry.  There can be no further credence given to the  argument that the prime minister of the day should be permitted to obtain political advantage from the determination of the date of the next general election: that is now a limited set of givens (see previous post) and the failure to announce the election date is taking on a sinister aspect.

Sinister because it is damaging the very shaky status of the country in being able to fund its debt crisis, and sinister because it raises the spectre of New Labour power holders yet again disturbing what was understood to be the United Kingdom's constitutional settlement.

We do not have a constitutional court, but an authoritative statement from our leading constitutional lawyers on the dissolution of the current parliament and the calling of the next general election required by constitutional practice and legal precedent is overdue.  If the Head of State believes that it is outside the  proper exercise of her office for such a statement to be issued, perhaps the media might step in; they are, after all, the Fourth Estate.

Monday, 15 February 2010

The UK General Election: Cut Off Dates

sets out general election possible dates and their requirements.  Just in case anyone is counting down towards hope rather than our financial Armageddon.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The Californian Solution: Brown's Last Resort

There is a scenario (the Californian Solution) in which Greece, having temporarily exited the eurozone, could devalue, using a kind of national soft-euro, to cope with its sovereign debt crisis and then, if it managed to go back to parity with the euro, it could rejoin it.

Angels are struck that this is roughly similar to where the UK is today. Having exited the ERM (though the Major administration   never wished  again to enter the eurozone), and having devalued heavily to cope with its Brown-perpetrated current crisis, it now is very close to parity with the euro, a status that is steadily maintained.

Is it planned by the Brown regime that it try again to join?

The five conditions set  by Brown were always designed so that they could be ruled to be or not to be met, simply on the Saviour of the World's say so anyway.  By joining the eurozone the UK would avoid further devaluations of the pound - good for inflation, but possibly bad for competitiveness should the economy continue to inflate.

However, in order for an application to succeed the UK would still be subject to the usual Maastricht conditions of fiscal convergence (debt/GDP ratio 60% maximum or at least falling towards it; deficit/GDP 3% maximum or falling towards it), monetary convergence (inflation rate no more than 1.5% higher than the three least inflationary EU members; interest rate no more than 2%  higher than that of the same thee members), and two years membership of the ERM-II maintaining the pound exchange rate, in terms of the euro, within +/- 15% of an agreed basic rate.

Brown's diktat does not run outside our poor country; he must conform to these requirements even with all the pliability the European Union would display in the event of a UK application to join the eurozone.  But fiscal convergence will be difficult to achieve for some time,  (just as in Greece) in spite of Alistair Darling's intimation of a deflationary budget - if and when there is be one before the election -or if and when there is an election after which serious budget presenting must take place.

The Californian Solution is, nevertheless, apparently being maintained as an option.  We can't go on like this, an election is essential to put such choices, central to our democracy, in our hands.  

Paying for New Labour's Destruction of the Family

Reaping the whirlwind  barely describes where Labour's unholy war on the family has delivered them.  In any normal society dependant members are cared for, be it at the beginning or end of their lives, within their families.  Labour's Long Marchers had a particularly repugnant determination to destroy our families, the immediate and first source of resistance to their state of mind.  The state they have tried to generate in our reality.

Now, as their cohorts reach incapacity through advancing age, their potential recruits suffer neglect, ignorance and appalling cruelty from the effects of encouraged  atomistic self regard and immediate satiation of desires by those turned away from loving nurture of others, both face abandonment, suffering and even early death from the inhumanity of  our New Society, our Third Way.

 Most European societies embody family obligation in every cultural expression: from the most formal constitutional, then legal, then economically and socially sanctioned, then religious and belief system validated, to everyday informal expression.   Not us.  Not New Labour England.  We are facing another tax, a levy rather, of £20,000 per estate, (and that will be just for starters)  to pay for these, literally, orphans of the storm of ideology.

Faced too with the eerie coincidence of extensive propaganda pressure for 'assisted suicide' and the removal of legal sanctions even to the killing of the weak.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

There Should Be a General Election Not a Budget

People in the United Kingdom are  not very well off.  They have what seem like European-level incomes but their living costs are so high, and the real tax burden so onerous their standard of living is much lower than in the rest of Europe.  The merest observation, the slightest experience of life-style abroad tells them this.  Lower energy bills, lower local taxes, lower central taxes on families with dependants, higher levels of entry into the tax system at all,  cheaper food of better quality, dramatically better schools and health services, transport infrastructures modern and relatively inexpensive, properly defended human rights, a properly defended constitutional democratic system.

When Labour announces a 'March budget' that will make  rich people pay for the deficit, we know that this is a lie on many levels.  There are rich people in England - the purpose of most of Brown's years of fiscal folly has been to make England an ideal residence for rich people.  They do not pay tax at onerous levels, to describe the situation mildly.  But in all those years of Brown's 'absolute control over the economy' he borrowed to provide those improvements of which he and his Labour party boast.  He borrowed from the future, indeed the futures of those not particularly well-off people who now are to be taxed to pay for what they were given and for what was redistributed from all that borrowing, to profit-takers.

The 'March Budget' may very well not be delivered as an actual budget, as  Capitalists@Work note.  

Discussion of this 'March Budget' could well be a flagrant act of propaganda, of fantasy conforming very precisely to the misconceptions of ordinary, not very well-off people, about their situation, to attract over the objective dreadfulness of our present and our economic outlook, their allegiance and their vote.  In the meantime fears of the situation of major UK banks exposed to very high levels of United Kingdom sovereign debt on the encouragement, indeed insistence of Brown's regime, have driven the costs of insurance of that sovereign debt higher than for Spain.

This irresponsible regard of all institutions of our state as nothing more than the means, the presentation of opportunity to remain in power, is delineated in market movements but in a worse part of reality,  damages the lives and life chances of tens of millions.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Mandelson Could Heed Lessons From Italy if He Wants Industrial Recovery in the UK

FIAT and the Russian car maker Sollers have announced a $3.3 billion joint venture to produce some half a million vehicles a year in the region of Tatarstan a thousand kilometres east of Moscow. A passenger car and SUV, designed for emerging countries, and new models from FIAT's alliance/takeover with Chrysler, will be developed and assembled there at existing plant which will gain new production facilities for producing components and a technology park and research facilities. 10% of production is intended for export.

Sergio Marchionne and Sollers' Vadim Shvetsov set up to the joint venture in Naberezhnye Chelny, with Prime Minister Putin announcing that the Russian government is considering long-term loans at a favourable subsidised interest rate for the whole of the investment. The Russian government's cash-for-clunkers scheme starts in March, assisting the recovery of the Russian car market, potentially one of the biggest.

Integrating FIAT and Chrysler technology with partners around the world is part of Marchionne's global strategy for FIAT;  he had originally been one of the front bidders for Opel before leaving negotiations with GM citing their of lack of seriousness  in producing a viable industrial, rather than political, negotiating position.

The Labour mindset, that government intervention and direction creates industrial reanimation (for UK industry is in a Lazarus-like condition) is inimical to modern capitalism. Innovation and research needs to be part of industrial and manufacturing capacity, not set up by government cut off from the companies it serves. Labour is ideologically perverse in its failure to accept that the proper role of government is to facilitate infrastructural modernity and a favourable economic, financial and regulatory environment for market capitalism. No government, no matter how far it spreads its planning tentacles, can replace market allocation and entrepreneurship.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Germany Can Buy Greece for the Money General Motors Pretends to for Opel Jobs

General Motors is asking European governments to contribute to their  'restructuring plan'.  The  American government has printed lots of dollars for this recent bankrupt  and now expects a return of real euros for its facesaver.   General Motors Europe Chief Executive Nick Reilly said:

"It is not surprising that the US would expect Europe and European governments to help a European entity and not have the US taxpayer pay for all of the restructuring and growth of Opel."

Germany would be responsible for coming up with some €1.5 billion of this ransom for jobs, with half coming from Berlin and the rest from the German states where GM has rundown plant producing outdated cars.

Germany can buy Greece for that sort of money, never mind some ghastly American car company that thinks it's living in the last century and can push Europe around.

As FIAT's Dr Marchionne noted when he walked away from Opel, the idea is to put together an industrial plan for a big enough car-producing sector, not engage in politics.

A bit of interesting intellectual property doth not an industry make.  If Germany decides not to buy Greece it can set up modern, innovative industries with the money GM is pretending too - and support the Opel workers through retraining and redeployment -  for less now and a decent return later.

General Motors can take its Opel and go home (unless creepy mandelsonian money printing to keep a few Vauxhall assembly jobs attracts them).

The Scottish Attitude to Death

Burke and Hare are stepping out again.  How long before Brown's  £20,000 tax on the estates of the minimally prudent, the decent, those who have sought to ensure they are not a burden on their families in old age and death, attracts the right to die, the assisted suicide, the helping-them-on-their-way, brigade?

Gosh, I wouldn't like to be old and frail in the United Kingdom.

Quasi-fiscal Brown and Greek Practices

Currency swaps at an unrealistic exhange rate are cancelled out at the time of repurchase but can conceal borrowing by the seller throughout the period in which they operate.  Greece sold dollars short at an over-valued rate in terms of euros, they got a billion dollars more in euros than those dollars were worth, they paid the billion dollars back on re-purchase but within the two transactions Greece had borrowed a billion off the books. Greek indebtedness is a billion more than it looked, thus keeping closer to the bounds of the Growth and Stability pact, improving the credit ratings, expectations, general financial credibility.

Greece did this because they wanted to indulge in government expenditures  uncovered by government income.

The United Kingdom is bound by the Growth and Stability pact, by credit ratings, expectations, general financial credibility.  Yes it can devalue, and goodness how it has.  But devaluation has not stopped failure to meet any of those factors squarely.  Has the United Kingdom under Gordon Brown's chancellorship and prime ministership engaged in Greek practices?

Getting stuff off the balance sheet might be considered the hall mark of Brown's regime both before and after 2007.  Selling government buildings to a public financial holding and leasing them back; forms of PFI; taking on contingent liabilities such as government guarantees; securitising future government revenues for immediate realisation....

Greece was disgraced by its keeping of official economic statistics and the threats of its debt position made more severe.  Brown might have to make a confession and a good act of contrition on his trip to Brussels tomorrow, not do the pointy finger at fellow sinners.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The Political Manipulation of Deprivation

Public libraries are to be deprived of protected funding status under New Labour.  As undergraduate study is closed down for  qualified and eager candidates, New Labour is hacking at another of the pillars of our culture.  For as long as there has been a culture of self-improvement and working peoples' education in more than skills, free at point-of-use access to librarians and their libraries has been as essential as free at point-of-use health care.   For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

Internet access is undermining the need for libraries says New Labour, in justification for their authoritarian and depriving vandalism.   So how many of you have access to JUSTOR?  How many of you, in the sense of the general population, have access to a computer and  broadband?  And even if you have, what use is it without the skills to use it?    Not just the superficial operator skills but the Weltanschauung, the heightened  by university-level study and its conferred independence of thought and understanding of the connectedness of things?  What if you are very small and seek the books your family cannot afford to buy? Or rather older and want to read the journals you cannot afford to subscribe to? Or wish to seek advice on what to look at (librarians are not just for fine-collection).

Never did Angels think to borrow the words of Ian Paisley, but this is beyond fury.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Darkness Stretches Over Our Universities and Cultural Heritage

Universities are centres of dissent.  Dissent is their way of thinking - followed by consolidation of the new.  It is in the universities that authoritarian regimes look for, and fear organised resistance to their hierarchies, first intellectual resistance and then the physical centres of opposition to distasteful and illicit bullies.   The mindset of intellectual inquiry spills over into everyday life and forms our culture.

So, as history teaches us,  the assault upon the universities by New Labour is no surprise.  New Labour has assaulted and mauled our constitution, our civil rights, our means of communication with government, our economic well-being, our family life, - even our rubbish bins are monitored.  Now freedom of thought and inquiry must be curtailed; controls and limits, obsessions of the authoritarian statists, fitted.

As with all authoritarian, imposed and anti-democratic systems there are individuals who occupy notable positions of ideological importance. And their ideologies are usually equally notably low-grade, cod versions of valid intellectual stances, coupled with a generous admixture of their personal and psychic idiosyncracies.

In Peter Mandelson we have a fine exemplar.  Ideologist of the  perversion of the social market to progressive post-democratic governance, he is also  without any stake in family and the next generation.  So we look at the poisonous amalgam of denigration of scholarship in the name of useful knowledge, and envy  accompanied by its child, spite.  New Labour and personal aggression -   towards our children whose enjoyment of a university education is to be curtailed by lack of means unrelieved by any egalitarian provision, and wilful  denial of the validity of any  pursuit of intellectual happiness, before they take up their places in the dole queues constructed by his diversely but equally dysfunctional Prime Minister and colleague.

Prince of Darkness is not an epithet to be gloried in as a compliment, except by those who either have no cultural understanding of what such a title stands for, or no interest in maintaining the culture that stands against it.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Calling the Election At Once Would Help Contain Political Bitterness

The concentration on political polls and their within margin of error shifts is a symptom of the need for the real poll.  For a general election.  Parliament expires on 10 May, the time left for something to turn up for Brown is now so constricted that the most likely thing to turn up is another Brown-engineered disaster.

The ghastly figures in the budget the Treasury must be preparing, the terrible chances of a disaster in Afghanistan,  a courteous flaying by Chilcot et al.,  an outbreak of further revelations on the inappropriate behaviour of members of the Labour party and their MPs  and Labour members of the Upper House,  another outburst of nose-picking or its equivalent on national television, yet another international snub for a finished politician.  The potential is enormous.  And, what makes it worse,  there is nothing  that Brown could do that will make anyone change their mind about him or his bully-boys.

Interestingly, the last time a new to office Conservative Leader was looking at a disgraced Labour incumbent it took a formal vote of no confidence in the House (the second, tabled within weeks of one another) to force him out.  Callaghan's was not the personal disgrace that is Brown's, but he enjoyed the ownership of an equivalently shambolic economic and social achievement, different in form but not in cause.  Gross overspending then, and answering to union puppet masters, yielded inflation on a scale that is on its way to us now, as well as Labour-supporter and union behaviour that brought  a sea change in voter attitudes to the role of the state in the economy and society.

Now Brown has the party-putsch taken majority of Blair's 2005 election win, unlike Callaghan surviving only with the contemptible support of the Liberal Democrats, so there is no possibility of the execution of this vile regime in the House itself.   We will have to wait to the bitter end, as Callaghan had hoped to make the electorate wait then, but was ambushed by Margaret Thatcher.  Then, the one-nation conservatism present in the Party was boosted by the cutting short of Labour's misgovernance, there was a sense that  the national disaster of  Callaghan's Labour had created a need for governing from a consensual rather than conflictual stance, that this  was required; Conservatism in tooth and claw, conviction Conservatism, was restrained.

This time the situation is reversed by Brown's intransigence, by his avoidance of an electoral confrontation he fears.  Despite the leadership of the Conservatives properly seeking consensus and governance for the best national interest, the interest of us all, the infuriated conflictual and conviction Conservatives could well overwhelm the leadership, driven by Brown's exhaustion of everyone's patience and his refusal to recognise the wrong he has done us all.

Many voters want more than the defeat of this Labour regime at the polls; when we finally get there they want the Labour party, in its present anti-democratic form, crushed.  In failing to replace Brown as Leader, and in failing to force Brown to obtain an electoral mandate, in allowing him to continue to, and threaten beyond, the bitter end, Labour has erected a politics of confrontation and command that  will be equally bitterly regretted if the current Conservative leadership is overwhelmed from the right.

Saturday, 6 February 2010


Cats live wherever, though they choose rural, garden-blessed and  book-filled homes accoutred with educated owners. But does he look like a 'cunning and selfish pet' to you?

Now I chat to this learned friend, who is resting quietly, until April, far underground by the church wall.

Decent Labour Supporters Must Lay Out their Plans for Recovering Their Party Convincingly

The Labour party's nicer supporters argue that Brown and Blair before him are not really representative of what Labour stands for.  They argue that the real Labour values must be reasserted and that if the Party is abandoned to a leadership that was effectively achieved by internal coup and then has isolated itself from democratic attempts to remove it, or even make it answerable to the membership which embodies the values of real Labour, then there won't be a political party that represents the interests of ordinary people and fairness.   Only government can intervene to right the wrongs thrown off by a capitalist economy.  Some argue there should not be a capitalist economy at all, but a utopian society where market allocation is replaced by abundance, abundance that can be achieved only by economic direction and planning.

Are they serious in their poposal that we should vote Labour in the hope of their retrieving their party from what they insist is merely a temporary deviationist cabal?  They argue for equality, participation, civil rights, the taming of the market through planning and redistribution to deliver the abundance and the fairness, for peaceful relations with other countries, for fulfilment of individual potential through education to yield personal happiness and effective contribution to civil society.  I could go on but really what they have is not a party that stands for any of this - nor is it a party that they can reach to change in any way at all.

Labour is the party of inequality and war and everything that flows from that.  Death, moral shame, waste, authoritarianism, brutality in the delivery of state power,  hierarchy, exclusion, hopelessness.  Decent people who have tried to remove the stain that spreads from their party onto our society have failed repeatedly within the party to set things right.  Perhaps they might consider joining the electorate now in voting to remove Labour from power and then continue their fruitless struggle while at least the country is freed from Brown and his destructive power trip. 

Or set out clearly for those of us who agree with them on the aims and purposes of government how they will remove Brown and his grip upon their party before we vote.

Friday, 5 February 2010

Wrong Mindsets

There are only 5 member states of the European Union with left of centre, 'progressive' governments:  Greece, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom - and Austria.

Austria seems to be alright.  The rest are going bankrupt.

The Company One Keeps

“A new spirit of mutual co-operation and respect”.

Gordon Brown  hailing  a new deal in Northern Ireland power-sharing,  standing with:  the Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen; Peter Robinson, the First Minister and Democratic Unionist leader,;and Martin McGuinness, Sinn Féin’s Deputy First Minister. in Hillsborough Castle, Co Down, this morning.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Brown Loses Control of Financial Policy

Evidence that the Brown regime is no longer in effective control of the United Kingdom mounted today when the Bank of England announced it would cease buying government debt.  There have been repeated claims from inside the permanent Whitehall governance of the country that Downing Street is paralysed and dysfunctional.  Within individual ministries civil servants no longer implement anything but the lowest level of day to day administration to keep ticking over until the new government, to be brought in by the general election Brown seeks to avoid calling,  can take up power.  A reputable polling organisation has reported that returns taken over 2009 give vote shares of: Conservative 42%, Labour 26%, Liberal Democrat 19%.

Brown, the holder of the office of prime minister but unelected by his Party or by the country, has attempted to use the parliamentary majority of his predecessor, who he drove from office some two and a half years ago, to build a new vision of post democratic progressive governance.

Unfortunately this new vision has encompassed the collapse of the British economy, the plunging of the country into trillions, not billions of debt, and the devaluation of sterling by over a third against the US dollar and the euro, accompanied by grotesque rises in unemployment levels and sharp rises in inflation.  After printing £200 billion in the  'quantative easing' fiasco the country managed to achieve 0.1% growth following the longest recession since the Second World War, finally returning to such anaemic growth long after every comparable economy.

The governmental stasis into which the United Kingdom has sunk is an indictment of the constitutional vandalism practised by the New Labour regime of Brown and his predecessor over the last 13 years in office.  It is a relief today to see that Brown's regime - which was calling for still more expenditure and debt -  is no longer in control as other centres of power within our governing structures attempt to limit the damage he and his cabal have wrought.

Gesture Politics

Gesture politics is one way of achieving deniability.  And when in Rome... so the pollice verso given to the mention of the Brown at a meeting of anglo Italian economists and advisors was  suitably ambivalent; did they mean Brown should be despatched or spared? 

Brown's own favourite hand gesture, the clunking fist, is of course the imperial signal for 'Kill'.

Gordon's Got Another London Conference...

...only this time mostly those in deep financial doo-doo are  coming.

Mr HG's computer is much more interesting than mine.  Indeed this is probably true of his life - yet little makes him wonder.  But this did (once I had distracted his attention from whatever he was up to on the wood-carrying, organic fertiliser ordering, lunch-cooking front).

policy network
new ideas for progressive politics
Policy Network
Jobs, industry and opportunity: growth strategies after the crisis

Progressive Governance Conference, central London, 19 February, 9am - 4pm

The financial crisis has urged us to rethink our approach to economic policy. Having averted a 1930s style depression, the focus of progressive politicians around the world is now shifting towards delivering a new politics of sustainable economic growth and job creation, one that is forward thinking and transformative and acknowledges the role of strategic public investment in our shared prosperity. At this critical juncture:

• What can governments do domestically to promote long-term sustainable economic growth?

• Which industries have growth potential and how can governments support their development?

• Given the priority of tackling unemployment and fostering more and better jobs, what kinds of policies and institutional structures can deliver the best outcomes?

• How can economic growth and job creation be encouraged in the context of the transition to a low-carbon economy?

• What is the future for international cooperation and global governance after Copenhagen and the G20 Summits?

Bringing together prominent European heads of government, political leaders and senior policy experts from across the world, this major progressive governance gathering will aim to shape this new politics and set the direction for a new socio-economic settlement for our times.

In the run-up to the event Policy Network will publish a series of short articles by some of the world's foremost economic and political thinkers. Alongside discussions on the day, they will put forward an intellectual framework for debate as well as innovative policy ideas for growth strategies after the crisis.

The discussions will be part of a series of Progressive Governance Conferences organised by Policy Network, acting in its capacity as international secretariat to the Progressive Governance Network.

Confirmed speakers
Gordon Brown, prime minister of the UK
Jens Stoltenberg, prime minister of Norway
jose luis rodriguez zapatero, prime minister of Spain
George Papandreou, prime minister of Greece
Mona Sahlin, the leader of the Swedish Social Democrats
Peter Mandelson, the UK first secretary of state
Pascal Lamy, director-general of the WTO
Karen Kornbluh, US ambassador to the OECD
"Casting their net pretty wide to mail me", remarked Mr HG.  "They wouldn't like me having my say one bit."

What is this conference, paid for out of our taxes, anyway?  The mayday call from the Titanic?

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

A Hollow Threat

The day Gordon Brown calls an election there will be dancing in the streets and a 21 gun salute fired in Hyde Park.  Evidently he has warned Unionists that the government will call snap Assembly elections in  Northern Ireland if they fail to reach a deal with Sinn Féin to hand justice and police powers to separatists,  and move right along the road map to a united Ireland.

The Ulster Unionist party (UUP) leader, Sir Reg Empey, said the prime minister intended to hold elections rather than suspend the assembly if the Democratic Unionists (DUP) rejected a compromise aimed at transferring policing and justice powers to Northern Ireland.

And just look at the words used by Shaun Woodward in the House of Commons today (never mind the meaning, there isn't one):

 “Considerable progress has been made. Patience is required, but equally we must be careful not to try people’s patience to distraction.“Unfair failure to make progress would not be rewarded, and I don’t mean by any particular process now, but by the people of Northern Ireland,” he said. “We have changed their lives by the peace process, we have secured it in the political process. It is right to make progress but we do indeed now sit on the edge."  So that's 3 for 'progress'; 3 for 'process'; and 1 each for 'it is right', 'peace' and 'rewarded' in 5 sentences and well under 100 words.

New Labour, new progressive post-democratic governance.

In the United Kingdom as a whole, au contraire, Angels wouldn't be a bit surprised if  Brown suspended Parliament rather than hold elections.

Northern Irish Questions

Northern Irish Questions at 11.30 this morning. Lots of the Northern Irish MPs will be in London then. 

Angels are surprised Brown hasn't announced a summit. You know, one of his opportunistic summity things.   He's usually awfully quick of the mark to have his piccy taken while he leads the world in statesmanship and reconciliation.

After all, New Labour's policy on Northern Ireland is nothing more than  buying off violence after failed military intervention,   announcing the training of police forces and setting up of governance and justice institutions, perverting democracy into power-sharing, and calling it bringing peace -  so he ought to have called a summit,  just like last week for Afghanistan.

Perhaps the Northern Irish who had thought of themselves as citizens of the United Kingdom are taking the opportunity to have talks with others on hanging in there and not transferring United Kingdom state powers of justice and policing to Irish separatists. 

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Shades of Dennis Healey Envelop Brown on his Way to Northern Ireland

“The right to vote a party out of government, the right to have an opposition - is that too much for anyone in the 21st century to ask? I think not, and yet those are the two seminal democratic rights . . . the people of Northern Ireland . . . are denied. That is not a basis on which government can be sustained."

“It’s vital for the interests of Northern Ireland that policing and justice is not devolved to an executive in which IRA/Sinn Féin hold the sway of veto....I hope there are yet within the DUP enough people of conscience and backbone to say no to the blandishments of this deal,” (Jim Allister,Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader, speaking today on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.)

The determined hold-out against the kind of power-sharing practised in Northern Ireland (and, as a comment from Weekend Yachtsman points out in an earlier post, the European Union), and its baleful effects is continuing. Brown's absence from the debate in the House of Commons on the 'London Afghan Conference' (fanfare of trumpets, oh, sorry, small damp squib) which he had called and hosted was up to his usual standards of discourtesy to our democratic institutions Unfortunately it led to his immediate undoing over Ireland.

During a statement about last week’s conference Mr Miliband was questioned by Conservative MP Bernard Jenkins on the prime minister’s reasons from being absent from the debate, given that he had hosted the summit.

“Where is he?” “He’s in Northern Ireland, actually.”,

was the 'he has more important things to do than be here' answer from the Foreign Secretary. But no. Democracy was still resisting in Northern Ireland and powers of the state to enforce justice and the civil order had not been conceded to the political wing of the IRA, despite the best efforts of the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and of Ireland, both current and previous.

Mr Miliband corrected himself: “Although I had been reliably informed that the prime minister was on his way to Belfast, it now transpires that he is not on his way to Belfast because the situation in the ... for various reasons which I won’t go into actually."

Brown had set off but had ordered his car to turn back on its way to the airport. Shades of Dennis Healey and the intervention of the IMF in the last collapse of the United Kingdom economy under the last Labour government. Downing Street said it could not rule out a visit to Belfast by the Prime Minister, but he was planning to work in Number 10 today.

"British sources rejected suggestions that Mr Brown had been “on the way to the airport and turned back at the last minute”. (Irish Times)


DUP MP Gregory Campbell has said any deal on policing and justice would have to be put to public consultation.

“We have been saying for about three years that what was required at the conclusion of discussions on policing and justice was community confidence. How would we know if there is community confidence? Well, we go and ask them, the wider community, we go and ask them,... If we come to a point where agreement is reached, in our view it would be insufficient for us to say, ‘well, that’s it now, we have agreed. Proceed.’ We say we should put that out to the wider community and say, ‘now what do you think?’”

Declining to outine the means of public consultation, Mr Campbell denied this was a delaying tactic by those keen to postpone the implementation of any deal with Sinn Féin.

“.... Because of the historical baggage of Sinn Féin, [some baggage, ed.] there has been a problem, particularly in the unionist community - but not exclusively so - and we have had to negotiate the situation whereby Sinn Féin do not become eligible for the position of justice and policing minister."