Saturday, 30 August 2014

The End of the Party

It is rumoured that some Conservative MPs are going to refuse to campaign against Douglas Carswell. If theirs were a properly run party, then it would kick out anyone who said things like that.

Thatcher certainly would have done. The friends of Christopher Brocklebank-Fowler, say.

Major would have kicked out anyone who had said that they were not going to campaign against Emma Nicholson, Peter Temple-Morris, Alan Howarth or Hugh Dykes. Or against George Gardiner, come to that.

Anyone promising not to campaign against Shaun Woodward or Bob Spink would also have received short shrift.

Likewise, if UKIP were a properly run party, then the Roger Lord situation would never have arisen.

Nor would Lord be on the brink of being the Conservative candidate if either party were anything other than a complete and utter shambles.

Gorgeous, But Not Grateful

A terrorist attack on a Member of Parliament, and that in the interests of a foreign state, demands to be investigated as a matter of the utmost seriousness.

At Bradford West, George Galloway put up as exactly what he was, and he not only won, but he topped the poll in every ward, including the ones that were over 90 per cent white. Bradford West had been a Conservative target seat in 2010.

It would be interesting to see any of the Henry Jackson Society lot, or the Conservative Friends of Israel that include David Cameron and 80 per cent of his party's nominal MPs, put up openly for Likud and be elected anywhere in Britain.

Never mind top the poll in every ward, including those which were over 90 per cent Pakistani or Bangladeshi (or non-white of any kind, come to that), of what had been a Labour target seat at the preceding General Election.

All of that said, I find that, in what must have been a very recent move, I have been blocked on Twitter by George Galloway. If certain things turn out in the next few weeks, then all that I shall be able to say will be, "There's gratitude for you."

As soon as she had resigned, I tweeted George, to his great approval, to suggest that he invite Baroness Warsi to join his parliamentary inquiry into the BBC's coverage of Gaza. The details of that inquiry ought to be announced in the near future. Look out for Lady Warsi.

Also for those whom I emailed him to suggest: "Sir Nicholas Soames MP, an Old Right commentator (Peter Oborne, Andrew Alexander, Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Stephen Glover, Christopher Booker, Peter McKay), a rabbi, and an Evangelical minister and theologian (Dr Stephen Sizer -, or ask him to suggest someone else)."

I had two exchanges of emails with my associates in New York, one in search of a Liberal or Reform rabbi, and the other in search of an Haredi, but most certainly not Neturei Karta, rabbi.

As with the above, look out for Rabbi Dr David J Goldberg OBE of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John's Wood, or for anyone whom he might have suggested in his stead, and look out for anyone linked to True Torah Jews, who even offered through me to fly over someone suitably experienced if they could not find such a person in Britain.

I did not have to do any of this, you know, George. And no one is indispensable, or bigger than the Movement. Not even someone who was once seconded in a debate by my erstwhile housemate, Dr Tom Hamilton, who is now the Head of Research for the Labour Party but who in those days was most certainly not a member of it, and whom you congratulated on having made "the speech of the night".

Get well soon.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Stemming The Tide

Welcome To The British Labour Market

Exactly What We Need

While the Eurosceptics leave the Conservative Party (at the highest estimate, there were only about half a dozen of them in it, anyway), Matthew Ward gives New Statesman readers this long-overdue article. I suspect that he is quite young. The plates are shifting. Good stuff:

Friends of the political establishment should be disturbed by Douglas Carswell’s defection to UKIP this morning.

It was a surprise to all; unaccompanied by the familiar rumours and cryptic-burblings in the media that normally precede major political "moments".

The announcement was bold and resolute, made in considered and perspicuous language, and formulated to persuade rather than deceive.

In short, it was the antithesis of the type of politics it was designed to subvert.

It is nothing new to say that Cameron’s brand of Toryism is vapid; without serious intellectual heritage or direction.

Radically undermining the family unit through cruel and sadistic benefit and tax changes, whilst simultaneously increasing the public debt, Cameron’s administration has been a clumsy experiment in neoliberal political management, utterly devoid of ideological guidance, relying on specious sound-bites to spasmodically jitter from crisis-to-crisis.

We all know this and Carswell critiques it more brilliantly than I ever could so I refer you to him.

What I am more concerned about are the consequences of Carswell’s arguments for the Labour Party, where my allegiances lie.

I fear that in the long run Carswell’s announcement will reveal less about the internal struggles of the Tory Party than it does about the intellectual inadequacies and impoverishments of the Left.

In his announcement this morning Carswell took a decidedly un-conservative position.

He rejected the assumption that consensuses are the product of collective reason and experience – they are simply constructions that serve a sectional interest.

Invoking Paine more than Burke, Carswell noted how his party sustains itself on this myth. 

We might be told that certain constraints are non-negotiable, and certain assumptions must be held, but this is just a rhetorical guise to conceal their partial and transient character.

On Carswell’s account the cross-party deference towards the financial services, or to the EU, says less about the philosophical or economic merits of such a position than it does about the insular world of modern British politics.

Put simply, there is an alternative to the status quo.

A familiar trope of the Left, you might say. But then why has it been left to an irritable right-winger to state it?

How confused have our politics become when Labour are arguing that our relationship with Europe should roughly remain the same?

That, while the EU may be a Hayekian fantasy of unaccountable bureaucracy and anti-inflationary consensus, we should stick with it for the sake of economic stability.

And that we should be grateful for the occasional token directive enforcing gender equality or upholding workers conditions – as if these social rights were the invention of a benevolent Belgian bureaucrat, rather than the product of a long and bloody struggle in this country which often meant rejecting our European neighbours for a genuinely internationalist outlook.

If we had a referendum on the EU we would be seen as eccentric and esoteric, the argument runs, unable to deal with "modernity".

We should be big enough to take that criticism.

Like Carswell I remain optimistic. Consent for the consensus, even the passive variety, is waning.

As ever, Labour is one step behind the electorate; the glib New Labour promises of consistency and competence are insufficiently rousing to achieve major electoral success.

It might just be that an irritable right-winger is exactly what we need to shake up the Left.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Carry On Up The Carswell

What a complete and utter shambles.

Douglas Carswell voted for war in Syria. His views on the Middle East require some examination, actually. In fact, his whole record and his many stated opinions now require a great deal of examination if he is the "perfect fit" for UKIP that Nigel Farage called him today. 

The existing UKIP candidate at Clacton is refusing to stand down, instead offering to write Carswell a job reference. How about an open primary?

All eyes are now on Daniel Hannan. His book with Carswell, The Plan, may now be read as the de facto UKIP manifesto. It is very true indeed to Hannan's description of himself as a Radical Whig.

Like Carswell, Hannan tellingly did not grow up in Britain. Indeed, unlike Carswell, he seems to have very little connection to this country beyond having attended a public school and an Oxbridge college. A sign of the "British" Right's future, perhaps? Or of its present, come to that?

You will never see a Labour MP's defection to UKIP, and that says it all about UKIP's allegedly broad appeal. So much for that, and so much for being anti-Establishment. The candidate in place has been sacked over the airwaves because the "LibLabCon" incumbent wanted it instead.

It looks as if this is all going to be decided by the voters, when UKIP is going to split the UKIP vote. Roger Lord has offered to stand for the Conservatives (I'd keep my eye on Mark Clarke there), proving, as if proof were needed, that his former, but possibly future, party and his current one are interchangeable, with UKIP wholly parasitic on the immemorial Tory subculture.

I am still available, Grant Shapps. You know where I am.

What a complete and utter shambles.

It's Time To Stand Up For Our NHS

Rob Flello writes:

We are now less than nine months from the General Election and political parties will be spending much of the time ahead setting out their manifestos.

Many of you may feel this is unimportant. People tell me the parties are too similar or that promises will be forgotten once the election is over.

The current Tory-led Government has made this worse. Before the 2010 General Election it promised no cuts to front-line services, an end to bankers’ bonuses, no abolition of Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), improvements to Sure Start, and no rise in VAT.

What it delivered was cuts to vital services, a Chancellor desperate to protect his friends in the banks and their bonuses, EMA cut within a year of the poll, more than 500 Sure Start centres closed and VAT hiked to 20 per cent.

Perhaps most galling of all, however, was the pledge there would be “no more top-down re-organisations” of the NHS.

Instead, the biggest top-down overhaul in the NHS’s history, at a cost of £5 billion, has imperilled its future.

In recent weeks the problems the NHS faces have made national headlines. From this you might conclude the NHS is failing to cope with demand and is no longer fit for purpose.

The NHS doesn’t run perfectly and it is probably unrealistic to expect an organisation of its size possibly could.

But this ignores the fact that as well as re-organising the NHS, the Government has criminally underfunded healthcare.

Its NHS record is clear: almost 50 per cent more cancelled operations; average waiting times up by almost a week; and a drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment within 62 days.

People now face a postcode lottery whereby it is not their need that governs whether they get treatment, but where they live.

Perhaps most worryingly, while in 2009-10 four out of five people said they could see a GP within 48 hours, the figure now just two in five.

The Government’s solution, as with most things, is to flog the NHS to the highest bidder while shirking responsibility for the problems it faces.

Let me put it another way. If your car starts developing faults but you haven’t taken it to be serviced for four years, then you can’t blame the car?

All of this has led to ‘Transforming Cancer and End of Life Care’, a project which will see £1.2billion of cancer care services transferred to the private sector. This is deeply worrying.

Those who support it ignore the sheer recklessness of making yet another massive structural change at a time when the health economy in Staffordshire, like much of the UK, is plagued by debts and struggling to cope with the fallout from the Stafford Hospital scandal.

If this were not sufficient cause for concern, consider also the following questions.

Who gave the Tories a mandate to sell parts of the NHS to their private sector friends?  Who seriously thinks our healthcare will be improved by handing it to companies whose first concern is profit?

I don’t know about you, but I want my doctor to consider what’s best for me, not the company he works for.

If changes need to be made, they should be made to the existing system, one which has served us well for almost 70 years.

To use the car analogy once more; if your vehicle develops a fault with part of its engine, you don’t give away the car but fix the broken part.

The evidence shows the NHS consistently out-performs market-based healthcare systems in other parts of the world. I cannot think of anything worse than moving towards the American model, which forces families to spend thousands of pounds on treatment and base life and death decisions on financial considerations.

That is why I’m delighted my parliamentary colleagues from the area have joined me in opposing these proposals, particularly those from the Conservative benches who have bravely defied their party line.

The NHS has always been about prioritising people over profit.

I hope in years to come we will not look back on this period as the one in which this vital principle was thrown away.

Steppe Back

We are not going to war over Ukraine.

Of course.

And when this is all over, the heavily Russian parts of the south and east will be in Russia, rather than inside whatever purely administrative internal borders the Soviet Union had at the time of its collapse.

Of course.

By then, though, we might have been forced to confront the reality of the side that we backed. You know, as we have had to do in Syria. Where we were warned. By Vladimir Putin.

Of course.

Of A Sort, Perhaps

I am active in Progress, Movement for Change, Unite the Union, the Co-operative Party, the Fabian Society, Christians on the Left, Compass, the Labour Representation Committee, the People’s Assembly Against Austerity, the People’s Press Printing Society, Blue Labour, and elsewhere, especially as Director of the One Nation Society, which is supported formally and informally by several MPs.

But due to an electorally poisonous local official whom I knew at school but who joined Labour long after I did, I am not a Labour Party member. I find that useful. I am the kind of person whom Labour needs to reach and retain in order to regain and retain office.

Apparently, that means that I cannot be a candidate for the Progress Strategy Board. It would be interesting to ponder if that would have been the line before the recent elections to the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. But here we are.

Now, for whom to vote? Thom Brooks gets a God’s Own University pass, especially for being the only candidate from this part of the country and the only one who follows me on Twitter. But how to cast the other three? Which, if any, of them could say this?:

I stand on the centre ground.

The contribution-based Welfare State, with contribution defined to include, for example, caring for children or elderly relatives. Workers’ rights, with trade unionism. Community organising. Profit-sharing. The co-operative movement and wider mutualism.

Consumer protection. Strong communities. Fair taxation. Full employment, with low inflation. Pragmatic public ownership, including of the railways, utilities and postal service.

Local government. The Union. The Commonwealth. The national and parliamentary sovereignty of the United Kingdom in the face of all challenges. Economic patriotism, including energy independence and balanced migration.

Conservation and the countryside, especially the political representation of the rural working class. Superb and inexpensive public transport. Academic excellence, with technical proficiency.

Civil liberties, with law and order, including visible and effective policing. Fiscal responsibility. A strong financial services sector, with a strong food production and manufacturing base, and with the strong democratic accountability of both.

A total rejection of class war, insisting instead upon “a platform broad enough for all to stand upon”. A large and thriving private sector, a large and thriving middle class, and a large and thriving working class.

Very high levels of productivity, with the robust protection of workers, consumers, communities and the environment, including powerful workers’ representation at every level of corporate governance. A base of real property for every household.

A realist foreign policy, including strong national defence. A leading role on the world stage. A vital commitment to peace. And a complete absence of weapons of mass destruction.

This is the centre ground.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The Real Taboo

Not mentioning race.

Mentioning class.

The 11 or 12-year-old daughter, indeed the daughter several years older than that, of a Councillor, a social worker or a Police Officer would not be allowed by such figures to stay out all night with older men.

But the attitude of those white stalwarts to these white girls was, "You came from the gutter, anyway."

This was, and throughout the country tonight it still is, an internal white thing.

And that thing is class.

Read This To The Last Line

Under The Crown

I have been sent the following:

The warning by republicans that a ‘yes for independence’ vote in Scotland would seriously undermine our own constitution is, I’m afraid, wishful thinking by followers of a movement that was rejected by the Australian people at referendum and is continuously being rejected in the polls.

The fact that our States agreed to unite: “under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland” or that our sovereignty shall extend to Queen Victoria’s “heirs and successors in the sovereignty of the United Kingdom” does not mean that our constitution is voided should the composition of the United Kingdom change.

Even if Scotland votes ‘yes’, which seems to be highly unlikely, and leaves the Union, the United Kingdom will still remain. The departure of Ireland or Eire from the United Kingdom in the last century did not affect our constitution at the time. In fact the matter was debated following the ratification in 1922 of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, but it was decided that the change would not impede or affect in any way the validity of our Constitution.

An independent Scotland would join the existing sixteen Realms, of which Australia is one. However, I doubt whether people both in Scotland and in England have yet realised that Scotland would thereafter be treated as a foreign power. It would lose the pound sterling and would need to establish its own currency. Furthermore, Scottish citizens may find themselves unable to enter England without facing strict border, passport and immigration controls.

Philip Benwell
National Chair
Australian Monarchist League
0419 417 097

Nixon In Dixie

The most memorable rally of 1966 was held at the Wade Hampton Hotel in Columbia, South Carolina, an all-male event with everyone crowded together, standing near the stage in a smoke-filled room.

The speakers were Nixon, Strom Thurmond, and Albert Watson, who won in a special election in June 1965 to become the first Republican in the 20th century to represent South Carolina in the House of Representatives.

It was boisterous and raucous and the response to all three speakers was thunderous. Nixon outdid himself. Strom outdid Nixon. Watson outdid both.

With a deep, powerful voice he was shouting at the close, “Freedom is not free!” It was unlike any rally I had witnessed. When it was over I was waiting outside in the hall.

Nixon came out sweating and smiling. That it had been a tremendous show was written all over him. “This is where the energy is!” said Nixon. “This is where the future of the party is!”

The story of 1966, he told a larger gathering at the hotel, will be the “resurgence of the Republican Party in the United States … and the headline on that story will tell of the coming of age of the GOP in the South.”

Among the malevolent myths about Nixon is that he set out to build the Republican Party in Dixie on a foundation of racism. That is not the man I knew and it is the antithesis of what I saw.

While Nixon approved of my writings on law and order, he expressed an emotional empathy with black Americans. It was in his DNA. His Quaker mother’s family had been active in the Underground Railroad in Indiana.

On coming to Congress he agreed to Adam Clayton Powell’s request to be part of a five-man team that would take the floor to answer the racist rants of Mississippi’s John Rankin.

His record as vice president, working behind the scenes for the Civil Rights Act of 1957, for which Dr. King sent him a personal letter of gratitude, marked him as a progressive.

I recall him storming out of his office in a rage one morning over a story he had read about an Alabama town that had refused to bury a black soldier killed in Vietnam in its whites-only cemetery. Have a statement ready for me when I get back from lunch, he ordered.

Let me make some calls first, I replied. The story did not ring true. Southern respect for martial valor would not abide this.

I called the mayor. He told me his town had been slandered. There was no room in the white cemetery to bury anyone. The town had offered to pay the full funeral costs of their soldier son.

Researching the Web half a century later, I found the story of Jimmy Williams of Wetumpka, Alabama, a black soldier and Green Beret who, it was said, was to be buried in a pauper’s grave in June 1966 but would be laid to rest one hundred miles away in the military cemetery at Andersonville, Georgia, site of the Confederate prisoner-of-war camp.

Where the truth of this story, now half a century old, lies, I do not know. But this I do know: Nixon’s visceral recoil at what he thought was a moral outrage was genuine and unforgettable.

One of the first of the monthly columns I wrote with Nixon, which was carried nationally and in the Washington Post on May 8, 1966, described the Republican opportunity in the South as “a golden one; but Republicans must not go prospecting for the fool’s gold of racist votes. Southern Republicans must not climb aboard the sinking ship of racial injustice. They should let Southern Democrats sink with it as they have sailed with it.”

The Democratic Party in the South has ridden to power for a century on an annual tide of racist oratory. The Democratic Party is the party that rides with the hounds in the North and the hares in the South. The Republicans, as the South’s party of the future, should reject this hypocritical policy of the past.

Nixon quoted Democratic Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, who said that “if it hadn’t been for Republicans, we would still be talking [in the Senate]. If the Republican members had voted with the South, none of that [civil rights] legislation would have been passed.”

“Senator Hill is correct,” Nixon wrote. Republicans were decisive in passing the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act.

And Republicans “should adhere to the principles of the party of Lincoln … and leave it to the George Wallaces and Lister Hills to squeeze the last ounces of political juice from the rotting fruit of racial injustice.”

On a June tour of the South, columnist Charles Bartlett, a friend of JFK, wrote that Nixon’s line in Jackson, Mississippi, that Southern Republicans must not “climb aboard the sinking ship of racial injustice,” had “served to make the moderates bolder.”

In 1966 Nixon went south for Congressman Howard “Bo” Callaway, running for governor of Georgia against Lester Maddox, and Congressman Jim Martin, running against Lurleen Wallace, wife of George, for governor of Alabama.

David Broder caught up with Nixon in Bakersfield, California, October 20, where we were campaigning for congressional candidate Bob Matthias, the two-time decathlon gold medalist and star of the ’48 Olympics where he first achieved national glory at age 17.

Broder had a front-page Washington Post story the next morning, headlined “Administration Challenged by Nixon to Repudiate Racists Seeking Office.” Broder’s story began:

Former Vice President Richard M. Nixon stumped through California today, challenging the Johnson Administration to repudiate racist Democratic candidates. …

“I have yet to find a Republican candidate anywhere who is campaigning on the white backlash,” Nixon said. “It is time for the national Democratic leadership and the Johnson administration to make it clear whether it is going into the South as the party of Maddox, Mahoney and Wallace.”

At this time Nixon was being pushed to make Maddox, Mahoney, and Wallace a central issue of the campaign by issuing a statement demanding that President Johnson “purge the demagogues” from the Democratic Party.

Nixon asked me to think it over and work something up. I memoed back that I had “reservations” and thought that throwing the gauntlet down to the president could backfire.

All these guys you name are running on anti-LBJ campaigns. With the possible exception of Mahoney, they are gutting Johnson every day. They are thus unconscious allies in one respect, and if we slam them they will simply turn around and start slamming us as well. This statement would be warmly received in Manhattan, but I really wonder how the South will view it.
To date they [Wallace and Maddox] haven’t said anything for us or against us at all. That’s fine with me. It seems that today there is really hardly anybody down [South] who dislikes RN. There will be a good number of solid Nixon-haters after this statement.
McWhorter agreed. There was a danger that any such demand upon the President would backfire. Should LBJ accede to Nixon’s demand, and declare Lester Maddox and Lurleen Wallace extra ecclesiam, Lester and Lurleen would win in landslides. Nixon would be blamed for killing two viable GOP candidates in Georgia and Alabama. This was tricky business, and as I wrote Nixon there was another consideration—1968:
Wallace is the symbol of Southern resistance to Washington in the South, just as we would like to be the symbol of resistance to Washington and its policies in the nation. We will want, I would think, the people who are supporting Wallace now to be in our corner perhaps later.

Besides, George Wallace is one hell of a popular man in the South right now. As the Governor of Arkansas said two weeks ago, “If George Wallace ran for President right now, we wouldn’t have to count the votes, we could just weigh them.”

We did not make Wallace and Maddox a central issue, but neither did we ignore them. In yet another attack on the Democratic Party, on October 30, in a column for the North American Newspaper Alliance, Nixon wrote, “Below the Mason-Dixon line, the party of Jefferson, Jackson and Wilson has become the party of Maddox, Mahoney and Wallace.”
Mahoney was George P. Mahoney, no true Dixiecrat, but a blue-collar Irish Catholic and perennial candidate now running for governor of Maryland on the anti-open housing slogan “Your home is your castle!”

His opponent was Baltimore County Supervisor Spiro T. (Ted) Agnew. Taking on the national Democrats for their silent complicity in race-based campaigns being run by their Dixiecrat colleagues, Nixon wrote:
Lyndon Johnson, Bobby Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey have not lifted a finger or invested an ounce of their political prestige to prevent this seizure of their party in the South by the lineal descendants of “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman and Theodore Bilbo. They have allowed it to become a party in which Bull Connor is completely at home.
Boosting Win Rockefeller for governor of Arkansas, Nixon added, “[T]he Democratic Party has dredged through the early novels of William Faulkner to come up with its Snopesian candidate, Jim Johnson, whose racial views make incumbent Governor Orval Faubus, by contrast, a flaming liberal.”

The new Republican Party in the South should rest, said Nixon, “on four pillars: human rights, states’ rights, private enterprise and a foreign policy of peace without appeasement.”

To those who call “states’ rights” code for “segregation,” he added, “Republicans have rejected the old concept of states’ rights as instruments of reaction and accepted a new concept: States’ rights as instruments of progress.”

This means states assuming their responsibilities “in the fields of health, transportation, education and welfare.”

Summarizing his views, Nixon repeated lines we had used in May: about leaving it to “Maddox and Wallace to squeeze the last ounces of political juice from the rotting fruit of racial injustice.”

This column, released on October 30, was carried in dozens of newspapers across the country, from the Philadelphia Bulletin to the Los Angeles TimesMcWhorter, a passionate champion of civil rights, came around to say he was impressed.

Some biographers, seeking to portray Nixon as “playing the race card,” have ignored both of these nationally syndicated columns.

Just days after the May column appeared, Nixon received a letter of congratulations from Al Abrahams, executive director of Republicans for Progress, which had just produced, with another liberal group, Republican Advance at Yale, a Southern Project Report.

These liberal Republicans did not like the way the party was evolving in the South, and had 10 hard recommendations, some of them demands, to be made on state parties by the Republican National Committee.

Roscoe Drummond, a columnist Nixon admired, hailed the report. David Broder, then of the New York Times, led his story on the report by writing, “Two liberal Republican groups urged the Republican National Committee today to help register Southern Negroes and to discipline ‘lily-white’ GOP organizations in the South.”

The report, he went on, “produced a cautious reaction from National Committee officials and immediate condemnation from some Southern state G.O.P. chairmen, presaging a major intraparty debate.”

I wrote Nixon a cover memo and stapled it to the report. There is “much good material” here, I said, but the “recommendations don’t seem very practical.”

It is a matter of simple fact that the vast majority of Southerners (white) believe in segregation of the races if not by law, certainly by personal choice.

These recommendations are going to bring no one racing to the Republican banners, but if carried out they would succeed in antagonizing and angering a lot of Southerners. For what?

I think your position is correct. Tell the Southerners what your principles are on human rights, fight for those principles in party councils, but take no part in any effort to purge the party of all who oppose integration.

I told him that, looking first at the report, then at our column, “I think the column looks quite good.” Nixon wrote back on my memo, “I agree.” File the report, he wrote.

That was half a century ago. Our approach was right.

Wallace would sweep the Deep South in 1968. But we would carry Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee.

Nixon in 1972, Reagan in 1984, George H. W. Bush in 1988, and George W. Bush in 2004 would sweep all 11 states of the old Confederacy.

Wilson and FDR had carried the same 11 states all six times they ran—but had done so in open collusion with some of the most rabid segregationists in American history.

Even Adlai, who had carried the five states of the Deep South plus North Carolina and Arkansas in 1952, did so by putting on his ticket Senator John Sparkman of Alabama, a future signer of the Southern Manifesto.

What was the Southern Manifesto?

This declaration was written in 1956 by Senators Strom Thurmond of South Carolina and Richard Russell of Georgia and signed by all but three of the 22 senators from the 11 states of the old Confederacy. Nonsigners were Al Gore, Sr., and Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, and Lyndon Johnson of Texas.

The congressional delegations from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia all signed unanimously. Only two Republican House members were among the 99 congressional signatories.

What did it say?

The Southern Manifesto charged the Supreme Court with a “clear abuse of judicial power” in the Brown decision desegregating the public schools in 1954.

The court, declared these “Dixiecrat” senators and congressmen, had substituted “naked power for established law.”

This unwarranted exercise of power by the Court, contrary to the Constitution, is creating chaos and confusion in the States principally affected. It is destroying the amicable relations between the white and Negro races that have been created through 90 years of patient effort by the good people of both races. It has planted hatred and suspicion where there has been heretofore friendship and understanding.

The manifesto pledged the use of “all lawful means to bring about a reversal of this [Brown] decision which is contrary to the Constitution and to prevent the use of force in its implementation.”

In solidarity with this stand, Senator Harry Byrd of Virginia declared a state policy of “massive resistance” to desegregation in 1956. Governor Orval Faubus would block the entry of black teenagers to Little Rock Central High in 1957. Governors Ross Barnett and George Wallace would resist the integration of their state universities in 1962 and 1963.

All were Democrats.

Liberal hypocrisy in decrying Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” after a century of liberal collusion with Dixiecrats denying Southern Negroes their civil rights, does not cease to amaze.

What the Left never understood, or would never accept, is that Nixon brought the South into the Republican column not because he shared their views on segregation or civil rights. He did not.

What we shared was the South’s contempt for a liberal press and hypocritical Democratic Party that had coexisted happily with Dixiecrats for a century but got religion when conservative Republicans began to steal the South away from them.

The Goldwater-Nixon party in which I enlisted was not a segregationist party but a conservative party.

Virtually every segregationist in the eleven states of the old Confederacy, and every Klansman from 1865 to 1965, belonged to the party of Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman.

All Hope Is Not Yet Lost

Arnaud Montebourg, France’s economy minister who has just resigned, is quite right. He denounced austerity policies as “absurd” because they had brought about “the most destructive crisis in Europe since 1929″.

He rightly attacked the Eurozone’s fiscal stance as “the cause of the unnecessary prolongation of the economic crisis and the suffering of the European population”, and he correctly demanded a major change of policy away from “the extreme orthodoxy of the German right”.

Montebourg is not the only one who has been railing against the absurdity of counter-productive policies which are relentlessly dragging down the Eurozone into deflation.

Renzi, the young Italian prime minister, has rightly been demanding an easing of over-tight fiscal policies and a longer timescale to generate the growth to enable his country to overcome its excessive indebtedness.

Italy, like Japan before it, has now endured nearly two decades of falling living standards and in the absence of growth will soon find maintaining its interest payments unsustainable.

Merkel’s policy of endless austerity is wrong, wrong, wrong. Worse than that, it is ruthlessly selfish.

The German position, ostensibly coloured by their experience of hyperinflation in 1923, is that any monetary expansion in the Eurozone must be resisted like the devil.

Their real motive is that enforcing austerity is an effective weapon for achieving German economic dominance throughout Europe by relegating France and Italy, let alone the southern European rim, to the sidelines as subordinate partners.

However, all hope is not yet lost. According to the latest quarterly figures Germany suffered a reduction in its GDP of 0.2%.

This is not good news in principle, but the only thing that will chasten the German government out of their arrogant smugness is when Germany itself begins to suffer a serious downturn.

Germany’s over-dependence on manufactured exports may now begin to tell against it, and its obsessive fetish with an excessive tight fiscal stance may slowly become untenable.

It might be thought that the woes of the Eurozone have little to do with the UK, though half our exports still depend on Eurozone growth.

With UK growth forecast to be 3% this year Britain, as the Tories will endlessly tell us, is doing well, indeed a model for other countries.

But arrogance is not just a German problem, it’s Osborne’s too. The signs of cracks in Osborne’s economic facade are already beginning to appear.

The official tax receipt figures for July turned out not to be the £50m surplus expected, but a £234m deficit, which takes some explaining if growth is really 3%.

Moreover the so-called recovery is heavily weighted in favour of services (predominantly the City of London) and not in manufacturing or construction (the rest of the country).

As the recovery steadily implodes next year for lack of demand, the UK will need to learn the lessons of the Eurozone and to stimulate demand either by QE targeted directly on industrial projects, not the banks, or by printing money and a helicopter drop (metaphorically speaking) of a large cheque to all families throughout the UK below the top quartile.

In Undiluted Form

Owen Jones writes:

Poor old David Cameron, returning from pointing at fish on his Cornish holiday – to be greeted with a media warning him of “double trouble”.

Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage declaring their parliamentary candidacies could hardly have been more predictable, but both bring the Tory leader’s plight into sharp relief.

Despite a much-vaunted “economic recovery” that is utterly meaningless in the lives of most Britons, Labour retains a consistent lead, thanks to the ex-Lib Dems who fled Nick Clegg’s fold in disgust.

Cameron failed to redraw the electoral boundaries in his favour; his quest to defy history and increase the Tory share of the vote looks all but hopeless.

Farage’s purple army are chewing into the Conservative base, and the Ukip surge has not evaporated as expected after the European elections.

And so Johnson circles like a vulture, waiting for the Cameron project to become a carcass so he can swoop in and feast.

But – seriously – what a depressing spectacle, and what an indictment of British democracy. Both Farage and Johnson are portrayed as the ultimate mavericks, the politicians who dare to deviate from the script and – in the case of Ukip’s leader – as an anti-establishment insurgent.

Let’s just park their shared backgrounds (over which they have no control) as public school educated white men. These great “mavericks” share the same basic underlying assumptions as much of the rest of the political and media elite.

Both want to privatise public assets and hand them over to profiteers: including, say, the NHS, with Ukip having called for privatisation exceeding even the current government’s plans. Both want to slash taxes on the rich: both call for the top rate of tax to be lowered to 40%.

Both champion the City, where Farage used to work as a commodities broker. Both want to curtail the remaining rights British workers still have: in Johnson’s case, to subject trade unions to a turnout threshold which, if applied to the London mayoralty, would render his 2012 election illegitimate.

Both encourage popular anger to be directed anywhere but at the wealthy few who actually run the show: notably, immigrantsBoth are the establishment in human form, the fighters for the interests of the richest people in Britain who have doubled their wealth in just five years.

The audacity of both is striking, even as it is facilitated by the mainstream media. Johnson (or “Boris”, as we are encouraged to chummily call him) is a fantastic branding exercise for hard-nosed, old-fashioned defend-the-rich Toryism.

Any other politician snapped flapping around on a zipwire would be crucified – think bacon sandwich gate by a factor of a thousand – but for Johnson, it’s a triumph!

His wacky turn of phrase (being reincarnated as an olive – LOL!), his bumbling demeanour – all foster the image of an outsider, the only politician who passes the “want to have a pint with and not simply to pour it all over his head” test.

And yet here is the man who launches crusades to stop the “vilification” of bankers, as though it is the financial elite who plunged Britain into economic calamity who are routinely demonised, rather than unemployed people, immigrants, trade unions and public sector workers.

Farage is arguably even more masterful. Ukip is a party led by uber-neoliberals, and yet its voters are – on economic issues – generally strongly left-of-centre.

That is all down to Ukip’s skilful manipulation of the idea that immigrants – rather than, say, bankers, tax-dodgers or poverty-paying bosses – are responsible for the nation’s ills.

In doing so, Farage presents himself as the man who will stick it to the establishment, when in fact he is one of its greatest shields.

And so Farage and Johnson say all too much about the state of British democracy.

The confines of acceptable political opinion are narrow and zealously guarded, and those presented as outsiders are actually the establishment in undiluted form.

It must surely be a source of great private amusement for both.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Uxbridge Entrant?

As far out of London as you can go without leaving it. But not actually outside London. And a safe seat.

Boris Johnson is so popular, isn't he?

Spot The Asian

Keith Joseph, Rhodes Boyson, Michael Havers, Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Laurens van der Post, Cyril Smith, Peter Righton, Peter Morrison, or their dear friend, protectress, and in Joseph's case even protégée, Margaret Thatcher.

I'll give you a clue. It's a trick question.

Most of the victims in Rotherham were not Asian, either. If the view of the social workers was that it was culturally normal and acceptable for them to be engaging in "consensual" sex from the age of 11, then that was not because these children's culture was Asian, or Muslim, or what have you. It was not. Today's report makes it clear that it would have been culturally impossible for any more than a handful of Asian or Muslim girls to have been victimised in this way.

Regular readers of this site, and readers of the more recent of my books to date, will have known for some years that it was long routine, not least in the Thatcher period, for training in such professions to include induction into the view that at least post-pubescent childhood sexual activity with adults was normal, natural, and beneficial to both or all parties.

The 1970s Radical Right was as keen on the abolition of the age of consent as it was on the repeal of the drug laws, among other legislation for public protection such as rent controls, or the rights of trade unions, or the pre-1986 restrictions on the City of London, or the powers of local government, or the public ownership of key amenities.

Or, indeed, the immigration controls to all of which Boris Johnson is so opposed, and which used to be exercised by the requirement of a union card for employment.

That hostility was all of a piece. It still is. Now as then, nothing can justify any part of it that cannot logically justify and require any and all of the others.

Sovereign Will

Alex Salmond is a man very, very, very used to his own way. When he says "the Sovereign Will of the Scottish People," he means "the Sovereign Will of Alex Salmond."

But while either might obtain in Scotland, neither has any force anywhere else.

It may or may not be either the sovereign will of the Scottish people or the sovereign will of Alex Salmond that there be a currency union (as which merely using someone else's currency is not at all the same thing) with the state that would undoubtedly still be called the United Kingdom.

But so what?

That would certainly not be the sovereign will of the Parliament, people or anything else of the United Kingdom. Opposition in Wales would be particularly pronounced, and would carry the weight of loyalty. The areas that would be most opposed would be the most strongly Labour areas.

The answer would be No.

Scotland can become Panama, of all the places the names of which might resonate from her history. But if she wants a currency union, then she already has one. On 18th September, she will vote on whether or not to remain in it.

Virtute et Armis...

...We Dare To Defend Our Rights.

If Britain were a United State of America, then she would be the second poorest, between Alabama and Mississippi.

Inner London may be the richest area in Northern Europe, but we have nowhere else in the Top 10, although we do have nine of the 10 poorest. We have 11 areas that are poorer than Eastern Europe.

There ought to be a weekly news magazine, similar in format to The Spectator or the New Statesman, featuring a columnist from each of those areas.

As well as a column by each of the signatories here and here, together with one nominee of each in the United Kingdom, and one anywhere else in the world, with the possible exception of the United States, of and from which we already hear a great deal.

But I am not holding my breath.

And The Air Is Warm

Although his conclusion is wrong, Simon Jenkins writes:

I blame the British class system.

Yesterday’s August bank holiday was the coldest on record, with an average 30mm of rain. Carnivals in Notting Hill and elsewhere were drenched. Snow fell in Scotland. It was reportedly warmer in Siberia.

On my Welsh beach, hardy souls in puffer jackets and scarves walked their dogs while children bleakly trailed buckets and spades across sodden wastes. Cafes echoed to huddled masses cursing staycation publicists.

Britons are expected to take their holidays in August, weeks after the warmer and sunnier June/July period, because it once suited agricultural practice.

It was related to reaping and fruit-picking, to the movement of migrant labour and the start of the shooting and stalking seasons.

When ordinary people began being able to flee for a week to the Mediterranean, the authorities did not react by moving bank holidays from the start of August back into real summer.

In 1964 they pandered to the domestic tourist industry and moved it later, to the end of the month. By then, days are shortening, temperatures falling and rainfall rising.

Records show that roughly half these later bank holidays have been wet, cold or otherwise miserable. Blazing sunshine is rare. The change was a cruel mistake.

British holidays are bedevilled by a simple fact. Those that fix them holiday abroad. They can pay to chase the sun, afford private cottages or take their leisure when they choose.

But time moves on. Over a third of employees now work on bank holidays in service industries.

The concept of a single “day off” is an anachronism. Bank holidays should stop and an individual’s time off be folded into a general holiday entitlement.

This annual festival of misery should end.

At the very least, the powers that be should allow Britons a break when the sun is high and the air is warm. That is not the end of August.

In Britain, with our pointless celebrations of the mere fact that the banks are on holiday, public holidays do not apply to people who are too public in anything other than the schooling sense of the word.

Nowhere else on earth is like that, because everywhere else has proper holidays, celebrating specific things that really matter. Keep Christmas and Easter. And New Year (or Heathmas, as it sometimes called), if you must, although the Epiphany would be better.

Bring back the real Whit Monday, making an even stronger case for abolishing Heathmas by also having abolished Wilsontide, and making it easier to get on with reading and teaching Philip Larkin without having to explain what the title of his best collection means.

Get rid of all of the others and replace them with Saint George's Day, Saint Andrew's Day, Saint David's Day and Saint Patrick's Day. A heavy concentration in this Islands' incomparable Spring and early Summer. 

Something distinctive about each of them: Guinness, leeks, haggis, whatever, although I admit that it is difficult to think what the English one might be.

A self-interested basis for popular Unionism in perpetuity.

One on 30th November, before which nothing related to Christmas would intrude, just as it does not before Thanksgiving in the United States.

And no excuse for making the common people work on these days anyway because, after all, they do not really mean anything. Each of these really would mean something.

Love and Kindness

There’s not enough love and kindness in British politics, Labour MP Tom Watson has said.

In an exclusive interview with The Catholic Herald, the MP, who has represented the West Bromwich East constituency since 2001, spoke of the time when “it was normal for politicians to worry about what inequality does to us as a society… and that just seems to have been lost”.

“I know this might sound naïve but I really believe there’s not enough love and kindness in our politics,” said Mr Watson, who is known for his combative style in Parliament.

During the interview, Mr Watson spoke of how he has taken inspiration from Pope Francis.

“I’ve been reading his stuff. He really inspires me. Did you read his Lent message? It quotes Corinthians – ‘that by his poverty you might become rich’ – I honestly believe that we need a new politics that is inspired by that same service, love and compassion,” he said.

Mr Watson was not brought up as a Christian, but chose to be confirmed in the Church of England when he was an undergraduate and spoke about how he sometimes turns to prayer.

“You might not think this counts. But yes – in times of great stress and need, I talk to God,” he said.

Mr Watson also confirmed that his children are being raised in the Catholic Church.

Since his resignation from Tony Blair’s Government in 2006 after calling on the then Prime Minister to resign, he has taken up a number of campaigns from the back benches.

Under attack himself from News International, he began to work with other victims of intrusive and illegal press attention.

“It wasn’t vengeance but just this absolute fury at the injustice of it,” said. “This institution – these powerful people – were getting away with it. And everyone was just letting them, even though they really were ruining innocent people’s lives.”

Now Mr Watson has turned his attention to allegations of historic child abuse by senior politicians and public officials.

While pointing out that the Catholic Church has its own difficulty in this area, he said:

“It would be very wrong and quite dangerous to single out the Church and say that it’s been a problem there and that’s that. What we’re discovering is that there was a time when we as a society didn’t love our children enough and didn’t protect them properly. This is not about the Catholic Church or religion, it is about institutional failures throughout.”

Berks, Not Martyrs

Mehdi Hasan writes:

Can you guess which books the wannabe jihadists Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Ahmed ordered online from Amazon before they set out from Birmingham to fight in Syria last May?

A copy of Milestones by the Egyptian Islamist Sayyid Qutb? No. How about Messages to the World: the Statements of Osama Bin Laden? Guess again. Wait, The Anarchist Cookbook, right? Wrong.

Sarwar and Ahmed, both of whom pleaded guilty to terrorism offences last month, purchased Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies.

You could not ask for better evidence to bolster the argument that the 1,400-year-old Islamic faith has little to do with the modern jihadist movement.

The swivel-eyed young men who take sadistic pleasure in bombings and beheadings may try to justify their violence with recourse to religious rhetoric – think the killers of Lee Rigby screaming “Allahu Akbar” at their trial; think of Islamic State beheading the photojournalist James Foley as part of its “holy war” – but religious fervour isn’t what motivates most of them.

In 2008, a classified briefing note on radicalisation, prepared by MI5’s behavioural science unit, was leaked to the Guardian.

It revealed that, “far from being religious zealots, a large number of those involved in terrorism do not practise their faith regularly. Many lack religious literacy and could . . . be regarded as religious novices.”

The analysts concluded that “a well-established religious identity actually protects against violent radicalisation”, the newspaper said.

For more evidence, read the books of the forensic psychiatrist and former CIA officer Marc Sageman; the political scientist Robert Pape; the international relations scholar Rik Coolsaet; the Islamism expert Olivier Roy; the anthropologist Scott Atran.

They have all studied the lives and backgrounds of hundreds of gun-toting, bomb-throwing jihadists and they all agree that Islam isn’t to blame for the behaviour of such men (and, yes, they usually are men).

Instead they point to other drivers of radicalisation: moral outrage, disaffection, peer pressure, the search for a new identity, for a sense of belonging and purpose.

As Atran pointed out in testimony to the US Senate in March 2010: “. . . what inspires the most lethal terrorists in the world today is not so much the Quran or religious teachings as a thrilling cause and call to action that promises glory and esteem in the eyes of friends, and through friends, eternal respect and remembrance in the wider world”.

He described wannabe jihadists as “bored, under­employed, overqualified and underwhelmed” young men for whom “jihad is an egalitarian, equal-opportunity employer . . . thrilling, glorious and cool”.

Or, as Chris Morris, the writer and director of the 2010 black comedy Four Lions – which satirised the ignorance, incompetence and sheer banality of British Muslim jihadists – once put it: “Terrorism is about ideology, but it’s also about berks.”

Berks, not martyrs. “Pathetic figures”, to quote the former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove, not holy warriors.

If we want to tackle jihadism, we need to stop exaggerating the threat these young men pose and giving them the oxygen of publicity they crave, and start highlighting how so many of them lead decidedly un-Islamic lives.

When he lived in the Philippines in the 1990s, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, described as “the principal architect” of the 11 September attacks by the 9/11 Commission, once flew a helicopter past a girlfriend’s office building with a banner saying “I love you”.

His nephew Ramzi Yousef, sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, also had a girlfriend and, like his uncle, was often spotted in Manila’s red-light district.

The FBI agent who hunted Yousef said that he “hid behind a cloak of Islam”.

Eyewitness accounts suggest the 9/11 hijackers were visiting bars and strip clubs in Florida and Las Vegas in the run-up to the attacks. 

The Spanish neighbours of Hamid Ahmidan, convicted for his role in the Madrid train bombings of 2004, remember him “zooming by on a motorcycle with his long-haired girlfriend, a Spanish woman with a taste for revealing outfits”, according to press reports.

Religion does, of course, play a role: in particular, a perverted and politicised form of Islam acts as an “emotional vehicle” (to quote Atran), as a means of articulating anger and mobilising masses in the Muslim-majority world.

But to pretend that the danger comes only from the devout could cost lives. Whatever the Daily Mail or Michael Gove might have you believe, long beards and flowing robes aren’t indicators of radicalisation; ultra-conservative or reactionary views don’t automatically lead to violent acts.

Muslims aren’t all Islamists, Islamists aren’t all jihadists and jihadists aren’t all devout. To claim otherwise isn’t only factually inaccurate; it could be fatal.

Consider Four Lions.

Omar is the nice, clean-shaven, thoroughly modern ringleader of a gang of wannabe suicide bombers; he reads Disney stories to his son, sings Toploader’s “Dancing in the Moonlight” with his mates and is pretty uninterested in Muslim beliefs or practices.

Meanwhile, his brother Ahmed is a religious fundamentalist, a big-bearded Salafist who can’t bear to make eye contact with women and thinks laughter is un-Islamic but who, crucially, has no time for violence or jihad.

The police raid the home of peaceful Ahmed, rather than Omar, allowing Omar to escape and launch an attack on . . . a branch of Boots.

Back in the real world, as would-be jihadists buy books such as Islam for Dummies, ministers and security chiefs should venture online and order DVDs of Four Lions.

They might learn a thing or two.