Thursday, 31 May 2007


He wants it, so he's got it. This time, he has gone too far.

Paramount Chief of Sierra Leone

Apparently, Blair has been created one of these, in the course of his incomprehensible Farewell Tour of Africa. It is for his role in putting down the rebellion there a few years ago. Well, would there ever have been such a rebellion if someone rather more fitting from these shores had still been the Paramount Chief of all Paramount Chiefs, the very Head of State? If they have any sense at all, then they will bring back the Queen. And they won't be the only ones.

The Heirs To Blair

Congratulations to George Osborne on making it into the Shadow Cabinet when he is only Saint Paul's and his father is in trade. On those twin grounds, he was very nearly kept out of the Bullingdon Club. And then where would he be?

Osborne has guaranteed that, regardless of the outcome of the next General Election, there will be the continuation of such massively popular and spectacularly successful policies as the Iraq War, the impending Iran War, the Public-Private "Partnerships", the Private Finance Initiative, the deliberate and systematic reduction in the incomes of the poorest fifth of the population since 1997, the same amount of unemployment as in 1997, the systematic importation of a new working class of non-unionised non-English-speakers, the employment of fully one fifteenth of the entire population in domestic service, identity cards, Control Orders, mass surveillance by CCTV, ninety-day detention without charge (not trial, charge), the welcoming into the government of Northern Ireland of people who believe the Provisional Army Council of the IRA to be the sovereign body throughout Ireland, and the "renewal" of Trident while our troops are sent into battle armed with little more than conkers on strings. To name but a few.

Furthermore, the Tories are not only going to hold fast to each and every one of these, and all the other, policies that have resulted in Britain's enormous voter turnout, and in the huge, and hugely active, membership of political parties in this country. Unlike Labour, the Tories are also going to close even those grammar schools which still exist, the only policy difference between the two parties.

Anyone who disagrees with any one or more of the above policies should leave the existing parties, never so much as vote for them again (at least where Parliament is concerned), and be working to ensure the election of morally and intellectually serious politicians instead. In fact, feel free to contact me about this:

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

The EU's Neocon Agenda

The Lost Leader writes (in a letter to today's Guardian):

David Clark (Brown risks isolation if he plays veto politics in Europe, May 29) seems to have forgotten that the EU constitution was vetoed by the people of France and the Netherlands in referendums. Attempts by the right in France and Germany to rehabilitate this neocon agenda should be resisted on behalf of all European workers, who suffer most from the politics of privatisation and cutbacks in public expenditure. It is not surprising that around Europe it is parties of the left, and social democrats, that oppose these policies and this constitution. The people of France and the Netherlands rejected the treaty because it attacked the European social model. I have tabled an early day motion in parliament calling on the prime minister and chancellor not to sign any treaty or agreement that affects the constitutional relationship between Britain and the EU at the Brussels summit without consulting the British people in a referendum.

John McDonnell MP

Lab, Hayes & Harlington

Quite. The only thing to add is that any Labour Prime Minister properly so called would veto any EU Constitution, simply on principle. McDonnell would have done, as Attlee, Bevan, Gaitskell, Wilson, Callaghan, Foot, Healey, Kinnock (at least in those days) or Smith would have done. And Brown might yet.

Graham Brady Resigns

Good for him, but why was he ever in the strongly anti-grammar schools Conservative Party in the first place?

The inexorable logic of the Willetts-Cameron position is that even those grammar schools which still exist should be closed, since they are harmful not only to those who do not get into them, but even to those who do. This view (that of the sectarian Left of the sectarian Left, mostly public school like the Tories) is entirely of a piece with the Tories' record in office between 1970 and 1974, and between 1979 and 1997.

Anyone who wants to save the remaining grammar schools can, I suppose, join Labour, whose policy that is. But whatever else they do, they must leave the Conservative Party immediately.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

"He Knows He's Had A Warning"

He also knows whom I'm quoting, knows who he himself is, and knows that he won't be warned again.

Is This Warm?

Iain Dale reports the difficulty of trying to persuade Greenpeace (a centimillionaire, seriously elite organisation, I might add) to debate global warming.

Well, cutting CO2 emissions has a long history as a solution in search of a problem. Time was when it was supposed to be the solution to global cooling.

Funnily enough, it always involves no restoration (indeed, the further destruction) of high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs for the working classes in general and for working-class men in particular, plus little or no economic growth in the poorer parts of the world.

Such jobs would also be created, in an entirely "carbon neutral" way, by nuclear power, which offers independence from Arab oil and Russian gas. The super-rich, super-posh Greenpeace lobby is dead against that, too. How very odd...

Monday, 28 May 2007

Scary New Powers For The Police

But don't worry. They could only use those powers if they actually set foot outside and patrolled the streets.

Time To Put Up Some Frontières?

Unsurpisingly, the old Communist neocon Nick Cohen uses his Observer column to praise Bernard Kouchner, the discredited warmonger of the French Socialist Party, and therefore Sarkozy's new Foreign Minister, making him a French equivalent of the pro-war Democrats (i.e., most of them), or of Gisela "Vote Bush" Stuart and Denis "Vote Sarkozy" MacShane, or indeed of Cohen himself, to name but a few in the wonderful, interchangeable little world of The Henry Jackson Society and the Euston Manifesto, among all the other trading names of the indivisible neoconservative junta.

And might we have stumbled upon yet another such trading name, and thus upon the neocons' greatest triumph yet where the art of mass deception is concerned? I refer, of course, to Kouchner's co-foundation, Médecins Sans Frontières. A Trojan Horse, designed only to infiltrate as many countries as possible, and actually deserving to be expelled from every single one of them now that its true origins and character have been exposed? I only ask.

Fantasy Island


Buy the book.


Despite Labour's very narrowly retaining overall control of Derwentside District Council, it is reported that Portfolios are to be given to the Independents and Lib Dems recently described by local MP Hilary Armstrong as "the enemy" (not that her judgement is worth a bucket of spit, considering the circles from which she considers it appropriate to recruit staff...), in order to prevent their allocation to Labour Councillors linked to the other local MP, Kevan Jones. Jones is tipped for great things under Brown, but the DDC Great and Good openly describe his supporters as "a separate party". Not, however, "a separate party" with which they are prepared to go into coalition. That, they reserve for the Independents and the Lib Dems. Or, as Armstrong calls them, "the enemy". It is all very strange...

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Let's Be Sensible

Over at, my old mate Tom Hamilton has taken issue with me over the war in Afghanistan. Readers will recall that the rationale for that war was changed, even before the invasion had begun, from the 9/11 attacks to the treatment of women. (The latter has not improved one jot in Afghanistan, and there is still neither hide nor hair of Bin Laden either there or anywhere else.)

In fact, in probably the only good move that Bush that has ever made, he responded to 9/11 by removing the pointless, but to many people gravely offensive, American troops from Saudi Arabia. As a result, there has been no attack on American soil since, just as there has been none against Spain since she withdrew from Iraq, even though Spain was part of the Caliphate for many centuries. But all the attention at the time of Bush's wise action was on Afghanistan, where the precedent was being set for the always-intended wars against Iraq and Iran.

To that end, the removal of the disagreeable khalifah, Pashtun regime would always have happened anyway, secure in the only too well-founded Straussian knowledge that a sufficiently decieved common herd would never pick up on just how different that was from the secular, Arab regime in Iraq or the Shi'ite, Persian "regime" in Iran. And Afghanistan would always have had to be invaded anyway, whoever was running her, as the base for invading Iran from the east, just as bases were or would be provided by Turkey for invading Iran from the north, by the Gulf for invading Iran from the south, and by occupied Iraq for invading Iran from the west. Indeed, the invasion of Afghanistan would always have had to have taken place at just the time when it did, in order to keep the invasions of Iraq and Iran on schedule.

So the war against Afghanistan would have happened anyway, and would have happened when it did, 9/11 or no 9/11. It is also worth pointing out, not only that far larger numbers have died in Afghanistan and Iraq than died on 9/11, but also that they have died at the hands of supposedly civilised governments. And for what? To what end? Furthermore, the number of deaths on 9/11 was about equal to the number of deaths on British roads every year, and we seem perfectly willing to tolerate that.

Poor Tom is incandescent at this series of blatently obvious facts, which call gravely into question the supposed rationale for the deaths of large numbers of brown people. I wonder why? What a thing it must be to have gone to the bad. As a visibly mixed-race person, remind me never to visit any of the pubs around Euston station...

Iain Dale's Diary

For several days now, and from several computers, I have been trying to read this. But it always switches off the Internet programme. Anyone else had this problem? And any ideas as to how to rectify it? Very many thanks.

Friday, 25 May 2007

The Squawking of The Crow

Bob Crow should hang is head in shame. On last night's Question Time, it was left to Michael Heseltine, of all people, to explain to him that there is still Council Housing in this country. Quite a bit of it, in fact.

Thursday, 24 May 2007


Control Orders manifestly do not work. So here's thought: why not charge people with specific criminal offences, and then put them on trial? If you can't find anything with which to charge them, or if they end up being acquitted, then leave them alone.

To no one's surprise, 90-day detention without charge (not trial, charge) is back on the agenda. Any excuse.

Meanwhile, capitalism continues to demand and receive unlimited immigration, supposedly Socialist forces continue to cheer this on, the once-and-future Caliphate of Turkey remains in NATO and prepares to enter the EU, the Wahhabi-led dismemberment of Yugoslavia approaches its bitter end (or is it?), we have overthrown one of the Arab world's two main bulwarks (in Iraq) against Wahhabism and against the culturally similar expression of Shi'ism, we are threatening to overthrow the other such bulwark (in Syria), and we carry on backing Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Chechens.

It is time to wake up to the real threats, the ones that actually exist.

Bloody, Hot and Lethal

Yesterday, Patrick Mercer rejoiced to inform a debate in Westminster Hall that the activities of Iran were making conditions for British servicepersons in Iraq and Afghanistan "bloody, hot and lethal". Well, I hate to break the news to Colonel Mercer, but those conditions were "bloody, hot and lethal" anyway. Which is indeed because of foreign interference in Afghan and Iraqi affairs. That interference, however, is not from Iran.

Has anyone made the slightest investigation into claims that Iran is involved in Iraq or Afghanistan? It is at least possible to see whom the Iranians might be arming in Iraq. But in Afghanistan? Who, exactly? And why, exactly? This is not the first time that the War Party has been unable to distinguish Sunnism from Shi'ism, there being Shi'ites in parts of Afghanistan, but the country as a whole being heavily Sunni, and the Taliban being fanatically so, with a history of persecuting the Iranians' Shi'ite brethren.

We all remember the lies that took us into Iraq, and most of us didn't believe them even at the time. But can anyone remember, without looking it up, why we ever went into Afghanistan in the first place? And what on earth would actually constitute victory, or defeat, either there or in Iraq?

God Save The Queen

Radio Two is having a bit of a jamboree tomorrow for the thirtieth anniversary of God Save The Queen by The Sex Pistols making it to Number One. Expect something similar in much of the print media. But neither the BBC nor the newspapers have done anything to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the last great, or at least the last much-reported, expression of the patriotic, monarchist, pro-Commonwealth culture of the working class, and of those views as unifying all classes, all political persuasions, all parts of the United Kingdom, and all the Queen's Realms and Territories, as they still do, media coverage or no media coverage. Oh no, the real story is some pop record, not even a good pop record and which most people did not buy. Of course.

How To Stop This D-I-V-O-R-C-E

The latest ruling on divorce poses yet another terrifying threat both to the institution of marriage and to the status of women, and therefore doubly cries out for legislative redress.

First, there is no reason why an intelligent and well-educated woman (or anyone else, for that matter), having spent years bringing up children, should thereafter be considered incapable of any employment whatever, and thus require to be maintained by her ex-husband. There should be a statutory maximum of, say, three years for retraining, after which she should be expected to find a job like everyone else. Whether it is the sort of job for which she was qualified before having children is neither here nor there.

Secondly, any spouse petitioning for divorce without alleging fault (which would then have to be proved in court, with prosecutions for perjury if false statements were made) should thus forgo any entitlement to any part of the other spouse's estate, and in no circumstance should any asset (including the marital home) already held by either spouse before the marriage be subject to any claim by the other spouse.

And thirdly, no former spouse without dependent children should be entitled to maintenance for longer than the marriage itself lasted, nor should any former spouse with dependent children be so entitled in his or her own right rather than in right of those children.

While working as homemakers, did these women not eat? Did they go about naked? Did they sleep in the street? Surely, they have already had their share? Every man, every woman of good will, everyone who believes in the institution of marriage, everyone who believes that women are intellectually equal to men: withold your vote from any parliamentary candidate who does not undertake to support the above reforms.

But, above all, marriage should be made much more difficult to enter into in the first place.

Of Fact and Fiction

Both Coronation Street and EastEnders are drastically re-writing storylines which would have borne the most tangential similarity to the case of Madeleine McCann. What an astonishingly mawkish country this has become! And are people aware that the abduction of children doesn't only happen abroad? I suspect that that suggestion is the underlying reason for this re-writing.

Reduce Britain's Rubbish Mountain

Incinerate David Miliband.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Nuclear Power

My Right Honourable Kinsman, Alistair Darling, is quite right about nuclear power. It offers the restoration of high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs for the working class, and of independence both from Arab oil and from Russian gas. One Nation politics, with an equal emphasis on the One and on the Nation. What’s not to like?

Well, something , according to the global warming lobby, who ought to be the first people to welcome nuclear power. So, what is their problem with it? The restoration of high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs for the working class? Independence from Arab oil and Russian gas? Or both? I think we should be told.

The Chagos Islands and Ascension Island

Justice at last for the Chagos Islanders. Yet, even as I write, another craven British Government is allowing an American Administration to perpetrate a strikingly similar injustice against British Citizens on British soil. I refer to Ascension Island. Google for it, and for the splendid Councillor Lawson Henry in relation to it. And then ask yourself why this shocking story is not front-page news.

Whit Monday

This year, very unusually, the holiday that everyone still calls Whit Monday will in fact occur on Whit Monday. So it should, every year.

The Real Irish Republic and The Rhetorical Irish Republic

Since the Provisional Army Council remains undisbanded, it presumably still claims to be the sovereign body throughout Ireland, in succession to the purely rhetorical 32-County Republic of 1916. Therefore, regardless of any other factor whatever, how can any Irish party or politician consider, even for one moment, coalition or co-operation with Sinn Fein, which accepts and propagates that claim to sovereignty, and several of the leading members of which are in fact members of the Provisional Army Council?

It seems that, just as working-class Nationalist areas of Northern Ireland have been handed over to those who adhere to this monstrous claim to sovereignty so that they might govern them as if that claim were in fact correct (with Loyalist areas similarly handed over other terrorist organisations, although it is not clear on what, even theoretical, basis), so the parts of the Republic, and especially of Dublin and its environs, left behind by the recent, rather ill-founded economic boom are likewise to be handed over.

But, as in Northern Ireland, it is the real, legally and democratically legitimate, state that is to pay the bills, the bills for denying the entitlements of citizenship to those of its citizens who happen to be working-class.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Britain Goes Maddy

Just as James Bulger was never called "Jamie" while he was alive, nor do his relatives refer to him as such to this day, so Madeleine McCann's name is not "Maddy". But that is almost a detail. The two really important points are, first, that there is almost never anything like this sort of reaction to any child abduction carried out in Britain, and secondly, that, on examining the circumstances of this abduction, the McCanns should thank their lucky stars that they are doctors.

If exactly the same behaviour had had exactly the same consequence, then there would have been much less sympathy for nurses, and less still for a hospital's or a medical practice's clerical staff (although the media probably would not have bothered to report it in that case), while hospital porters would have been flayed alive in the very newspapers now gushing over yellow ribbons, cuddly toys, pointless three-minute broadcasts at the FA Cup Final, and so forth.

Yet those same newspapers are read rather more by hospital porters than by doctors.

North Britons

I have been taken to task for using the noble, and perfectly factual, term “North Britons”, as it allegedly “harks back to a time when Scotland was "North Britain" or NB - and the UK was "England".” I should be fascinated to know when, exactly, this time ever was. I submit that there has never been any such time. In fact, the term harks back to the time when Scotland enjoyed a prosperity never seen before (if since), and a geopolitical influence certainly never seen either before or since. (Of course, nothing could be more guaranteed to preclude the restoration either of such prosperity or of such influence than the secession of Scotland from the United Kingdom.)

The term recalls Bevan’s speech on the first ever “Welsh Day” in the House of Commons, when he sagely opined that, since “Welsh coal is the same as English coal and Welsh sheep are the same as English sheep,” the day was a waste of parliamentary time, which should instead have been taken up with debating energy or agriculture throughout the United Kingdom. Now as then, quite.

Furthermore, it is a simple statement of fact. No distinct ethnic group exists within the predominant population group in these islands (including the Irish Republic). The local and regional variations are as great within any given part of the United Kingdom (or, again, within the Irish Republic) as between or among any two or more of them.

However, as reflected in, for example, the absence of lay magistrates or of any automatic right to trial by jury, Scotland has a more technocratic and oligarchic tradition than is usually found in England (although, up to a point, it can also be found in areas with small and close-knit middle and upper-middle classes), which in turn explains the incandescence of that largely Nationalist, if not always formally SNP, technocratic oligarchy's members whenever anyone dares to question or contradict them, something that is second nature to the English when faced with such figures. No one in Scotland has ever spoken to them like that in their lives, and they have no idea how to react.

This was demonstrated during the Thatcher period, when the great and the good of Scotland’s professional bodies and ancient universities reacted in just that way to a Prime Minister who fondly imagined that she should be governing Scotland. These people’s influence led, in turn, not only to the otherwise unforeseeable Labourisation of Scotland, albeit only up to point, but also to the equally unpredictable and surprising, but far more consequential, Scottishisation of the Labour Party, which even many working-class Scots had theretofore routinely dismissed as English.

Not least when they are senior figures in the Labour Party or the trade unions (again, this phenomenon is by no means unknown in parts of England), they are used to being politely agreed with and dutifully obeyed, no matter how ridiculous their assertion or instruction.

Thus, they feel free to suggest that there was ever “a time when Scotland was "North Britain" or NB - and the UK was "England"”. Or (even from the bench!) that the sovereignty of Parliament does not apply in Scotland, in which case, as much as anything else, the Scotland Act of that Parliament is void and of null effect. Or that the EU, or any other international body, would recognise Scotland and a remnant United Kingdom as qualitatively equal “successor states”, rather than, as would obviously be the case, the former as a simple secession from the latter.

Or that most or all of North Sea oil and gas is in Scottish territorial waters. Or that, even if it were (which it is not), any British Government would ever consider Scottish independence in return for less than fifty per cent of oil and gas revenue in perpetuity, or would use anything less than every force at its disposal in order to secure that settlement. Or that the Thatcher Government had “no mandate” to govern Scotland even though Scotland was an integral part of the United Kingdom and returned a percentage of Tories among her MPs favourably comparable, from the Tory point of view, to several other comparably populous areas.

Or that any British Parliament would ever legislate either for the further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament, or for Scottish independence, or for a referendum on the subject. Or that such a referendum would have even the moral, never mind the legal or constitutional, authority to decide the matter, not least (though by no means exclusively) given the voting rights, certainly of Irish Citizens resident in Scottish parliamentary constituencies, and quite possibly of citizens of numerous countries resident in Scottish municipal areas, but not of the overwhelming majority of the citizens of the state the future of which was being decided, namely the United Kingdom.

These suggestions deserve to be laughed out, along with the party that has failed to deliver an independence referendum even this time round, and which will fail to deliver any programme for government, since it contains only one politician, and since no two of its members agree about anything except independence. In the days of North Britain, both those suggestions and that party would indeed have been laughed out.

So rise now, and be North Britain again.

Not Conducive To The Public Good

Dr Rowan Williams has not invited Gene Robinson (who left his wife and children for the homosexual nightclub scene - contrast Jeffrey John, who has never married) to next year's somewhat improbable Lambeth Conference. But among the bishops of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America are persons who need trouble, not only the Archbishop of Canterbury, but the Home Secretary. Their stated views on Africans, in particular, call for Exclusion Orders such as are already in force against their compatriots, David Duke and Louis Farrakhan.

The same may be said of Hans Küng, Swiss although long resident in Germany, and thus not an EU national. Küng's views on the late Pope John Paul the Great's Polishness made, and make, him the authentic voice of the age-old Teutonic racism against the Slavs; he only gets away with it because he is Swiss. His latest book seems to suggest that he has converted to Islam, albeit an Islam of his own devising; the view that the Fall of Vienna to the Turks, and the consequent Islamisation of German-speaking Europe, would have precluded the decadence and decay purportedly necessitating his own rise was periodically expressed by the best-known historical voice of that same age-old Teutonic racism against the Slavs...

If the political price of these Orders were to be the issuing of the same against those African prelates who expressed the opposing view on homosexuality in terms also least in keeping with our own conventions for even the most robust of debates (and we Britons undervalue our national tradition on this score), then so be it.

Big Brother Is Watching The Detectives

And they don't like it. Nor should they. I might return in a future post to the fact that George Orwell is overrated. But he has his uses. When even senior Police Officers are expressing doubts about CCTV and about ID cards, then it really is time for their proponents across the pretend-spectrum of British politics to take notice. The Police do not want to live in that sort of society any more than anyone else does. Good for them. But if they were to return to patrolling the streets on foot, as a preventative rather than a reactive force, then no one would ever suggest that they, or anyone else, needed to live in such a society.

Monday, 21 May 2007

It's Not Often That I Agree With Margaret Hodge

Really, it isn't. In fact, I'm not sure that I have ever done so before. But of course British Citizens should be given priority in social housing provision. And of course so should the people who've been on the waiting list the longest (as normally happens anyway), most likely to have lived in the area for many years, and very likely to have grown up there. Why are we even discussing this?

Is this an old-Marxist-turned-Blairite (there are enough of them about) finally joining the Labour Movement, just in time for its reconstitution as a political force once the so-called Labour Party finally collapses, as, demographically, it will certainly do within the next 10 years at most?

Friday, 18 May 2007


Yes, I do know that that's not actually the root of the word. But in that case, see if you can think of any other term for the actions of the Tories, or even the Lib Dems (not that one expects much principle from them), if they back a candidate for First Minister of Wales who comes from a nasty little language-fascist party which seeks to make it illegal for the English-speaking eighty per cent of the Welsh to be employed as bartenders or shop assistants in entirely English-speaking towns or villages.

Wrong On Every Level

Bernard Kouchner was one of the very few French Socialists to support the Iraq War. His punishment for this gargantuan error? Appointment as Sarkozy's Foreign Minister. Of course.

Who She?

Last night's Question Time featured one Clemency Burton-Hill, a very young and very posh lady who is apparently an "actress and columnist". Was I alone in never having heard of her, never having seen her in anything, and never having read anything by her? She had some good points to make, but the same could be said of a lot of people. They, however, do not appear in David Dimbleby's high society address book.

Hatty and Patty

With Harriet Harman trying to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party (on no basis except her involuntary chromosomal arrangements), and with Patricia Hewitt clinging on for dear life to her position as Health Secretary (with, among so much else, overall responsibility for every social worker in England), isn't it time that someone revisited the links that this pair, under the aegis of the old National Council for Civil Liberties, used to have with the old Paedophile Information Exchange?

Thursday, 17 May 2007

God Is Gone Up

Allelúja, allelúja.

Ascéndit Deus in jubilatióne, et Dóminus in voce tubæ.



So don't let any jumped up Bishops' Conference try and tell you otherwise.

All On The Same Side Now?

Like so many of the centres of resurgent neo-Nazism and neo-Fascism in Central and Eastern Europe (not to mention Denmark, where a neo-Nazi party keeps the government in office), Estonia, land of the war memorial demolition merchants, is now a member of NATO, a member of the EU, and an active supporter of the neoconservative war agenda, complete with the troops in Iraq to prove it.

So, that's all right, then.

Isn't it?

Obvious And Unoriginal, But None The Worse For That

If Iraq is not safe for Harry, then nor is it safe for Tom or Dick.

Park'n'Alz Again

Would you believe it, the creation of hybrid and chimera embryos is necessary in order to treat Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease! Just like everything else that these people ever want, of course. Nothing so vulgar as evidence is ever produced, because none exists. But who are the rest of us to ask to see any?

The world's most famous ever sufferer from Parkinson's Disease was the world's leading opponent of stem-cell "research", also held up as the solution to Park'n'Alz, but in fact advocated, like these latest ghastly developments, by people who genuinely could not care less of everyone else in the world succumbed to either or both of those diseases. What matters to them is the dehumanisation of the embryonic human being, the depersonalisation of human beings generally, the desanctification of human life. The mere popular knowledge that these procedures are taking place at all is an important part of that entirely non-scientific project, the true character of which is philosophical, economic, social, cultural and political.

Likewise, the promotion of condom use in Africa, ostensibly as part of some "fight" against HIV infection (a "fight" in which, if it is really being "fought" at all, this particular "weapon" is manifestly worse than useless), but really in order to promote sexual promiscuity as a manner of life (or, rather, death) and weaken the influence of Christianity (with its strong critique of capitalism), in which twin causes those so promoting would happily see the entire population of Africa die of AIDS.

And likewise, among so much else, this latest attempt to normalise the (necessarily artificial) cross-breeding of human beings and other species, so as to entrench in the public mind the view that human beings are, as it were, nothing special. This is not least because of the obvious answer to the question of what, or Who, it is that makes human beings special. And it so also, closely relatedly, because an economic and political system which can treat animals as people can just as easily treat (or, very often, simply carry on treating) people as animals.

Who is going to be on this new regulatory body? Chosen by whom, by what means, and on what criteria? I think we should be told. And I think that at least some of the members should be elected by, and from among, the general public.

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

The Tories and Grammar Schools

Why is anyone surprised? The Tories have always been against grammar schools.

As Education Secretary, Thatcher (who sometimes came as close as possible to claiming to have attended a state grammar school without actually telling that lie) closed so many of them that there were not enough left at the end for her record ever to be equalled. During a very prolonged period in office, the Tories made no effort to reverse comprehensivisation, because, far from being Socialist, its suited, and suits, their requirements to a tee, with strict selection by parental income through either or both of fees and house prices.

As for Labour, comprehensive schools were what it came up with when it gave up (a very long time ago) on serious wealth redistribution. "Equal Opportunities", "meritocracy", and all that. Nothing to do with Socialism at all, to say the very least.

Still, it is notable that a vote for the Tories is now a vote to close down even the grammar schools that still exist. But again, why is anyone surprised? The Tories have never done anything to defend the grammar schools. And why would they? Indeed, how could they? Even in flagship Kent, that job has been left to Eric Hammond. Of course.

What Blackest of Days Is This!

A rabble-rousing neoconservative demagogue as President of the French Republic, and a rabble-rousing separatist demagogue as First Minister of Scotland! Still, at least the former actually won his election. The latter lost an election specifically on the Union, at which far more Unionists than separatists were returned. Yet he has somehow become First Minister anyway. North Britons should disregard his illegitimate and treasonable regime's every edict, and neither Her Majesty's Government nor the Parliament of the United Kingdom should have any dealings with it.

Farewell, Then, Jerry Falwell

If the Democratic Party had still been like, then no one would ever have seen the need for you, and it would have been in office pretty much continuously, with none of the hugely damaging economic effects of Republican rule (in return for absolutely no change in the abortion law) on your own flock.

Who Would Be On A Unitary Authority?

In order to revive the regional assembly proposal already rejected in a referendum, the demented notion that Northumberland and Durham County Councils should become unitary authorities has been revived. Well, given that a council's employees rightly cannot seek election to that same council, who would actually be eligible to serve on a unitary Durham County Council? Have the London decision-makers considering this proposal ever been to County Durham?

Only Wrong In Detail (And Not In Much Of That)

Peter Hitchens writes:

For many people in Britain, especially those over 60, politics is a simple matter of one party or the other. If you aren't Labour, you must be Tory, and if you aren't Tory you must be Labour. A large chunk of my correspondence consists of annoyed missives from Labour people accusing me of being a Tory because I've been rude about Mr Blair, and Tory People accusing me of being a Labour supporter because I've been rude about Mr Cameron.

Wearily, I bash the computer keys yet again to explain to them that disdain for the one does not mean support for the other. But I seldom get through. In fact it is one of the most frustrating arguments you can try to have. Facts and logic rarely make any impact. As far as such people are concerned, there are two political parties and if you are against one, you're for the other. This is why I use the expression 'tribal' to describe a lot of political loyalty in this country. It is not interested in facts or logic. Such people picked up their opinions from their surroundings and were never argued into them. So they can't be argued out of them either. Nothing will shift such devotion (which is valued but also secretly despised by political professionals) except the visible, undeniable collapse of one or both of the tribes.

I happen to think that the Tory tribe is closer to such a collapse than Labour, and for a lot of reasons I'm better placed to encourage that than I am to help bring about the crumbling of Labour.

But that doesn't mean I am not just as keen to get rid of Labour. It's just that I think that Labour is held together by the Tory Party - and knows it.

I remember the dreadful autumn when poor Ian Duncan Smith was trying and failing to lead the Tory Party. And I also remember being privy to a fascinating conversation between two leading BBC liberal commentators, both in my view sympathisers with the Left, and therefore much closer - in culture, attitudes, hopes and fears - to New Labour than they could ever be to the Tory Party. I mention this as a simple matter of fact. It's probably time to have a discussion about BBC bias again soon, but not now.

Anyway, these two left-liberal persons were deep in conclave about Michael Howard's rumoured putsch against Mr Duncan Smith. And it was clear from everything they said, and the way they said it, that they were very anxious to see Mr Howard stage his coup and succeed. Now, these were people who in the ordinary course of things didn't much like Mr Howard. I expect they viewed him (as I do not ) as 'right wing' and (as I do) as a threat to liberty. I also suspect strongly that their conversation was a true reflection of internal discussion at the top of the New Labour government at the same time. Interestingly enough, a few weeks later I encountered similar pro-Howard sentiments in a Guardian commentator, who was defensive about the Tory Party when I attacked it in his presence.

They wanted Michael Howard because they recognised him as a proper political professional, a man who could make the Tory Party look serious again, and save it from falling to pieces. Why should they care? Why should they be concerned? After all, Mr Duncan Smith did ( and still does) truly represent the force and mind of the British Conservative Party, a spent force with nothing to say and no way to say it. Surely a good leftist would be glad to see the Tories wiped off the map?

Well, you might also ask why the Tory government elected in 1987, with a mandate which would have allowed it to destroy the Labour Party by choking off its union funding, mysteriously decided to abandon this plan. Why should Mrs Thatcher's government have wanted to help save the Labour Party? But they did, and I really do think that people should ask questions about this very fishy business.

The reasoning was, I think, roughly the same each time. In both cases, they feared that what might replace their habitual opponent would be far more dangerous to them. And they feared for the unity of their own party if it was deprived of its traditional enemy. I've mentioned elsewhere in these postings the catastrophic effect that the collapse of the USSR had on the old NATO powers, and of Gennadi Gerasimov's silky jibe that "we have done the worst thing to you that we could possibly have done. We have deprived you of your enemy".

Well, it's even worse for political parties. I can't count the number of times, during the last ten years when Anthony Blair, faced by a backbench rebellion, has fought it off by raising the spectre of a resurgent Thatcherism sweeping the nation. When David Cameron sent his MPs into the government division lobbies recently, Labour Members felt unclean and badly rattled to find themselves in such company.

MPs may like to think of themselves as sophisticates who can have cross-party friendships, and some of them are. But they know that it is fatal, in our adversarial system, to be seen in public fraternising with the enemy or nodding too enthusiastically at an opponent's speech, even if it is rather good. There'll always be a 'loyalist' handy to record the moment and use it against you, and to leak word back to your constituency that you're not really true to the flag.

Loyalty and party discipline depend on the existence of a threat, a threat that will - supposedly - take advantage of any failure or division. And this is specially the case with New Labour, which is as harmonious as Yugoslavia.

Of course stupidity helps. I have mentioned before the twin delusion, held by the Nigels in the golf clubs and the Kevins in the Labour clubs that New Labour is somehow 'right wing'. This fatuous conceit, also held to by 'alternative' comedians, professional political journalists and supposed 'satirists' has the one virtue of being simple. It helps in the writing of a headline, or the making of a cheap joke.

But, as poor Polly Toynbee ceaselessly points out in column after column and book after book, it simply isn't true. In classic terms, of increased state power, higher taxes and a bigger welfare state, with legions of people employed by the public sector, Labour is our most left-wing government since 1945-51. In terms of constitutional revolution, it is the most radical since Cromwell. Culturally and socially, it has hugely outdone Harold Wilson and Roy Jenkins in turning the 'permissive society' into the politically correct society. In foreign policy, it has made us more subservient to continental powers than any ruler since Charles II sold the country to Louis XIV at the secret Treaty of Dover. There is also a strong case, which I won't elaborate just here, for making out that the Iraq war is not 'right wing', but originated in radical leftist ideas about reforming the world, combined with a leftist contempt for national sovereignty.

But Kevin and Nigel, seeing that the basic rate of income tax hasn't risen (though every other conceivable tax has ) and that BT hasn't been renationalised, nor the coalmines reopened, conclude that the government is 'right-wing'. Well, what can one do about the weary, mistaken cliches of conventional wisdom?

The first thing one can do is to point out that Labour used to have a genuine Right Wing. There was Hugh Gaitskell, who was against the Common Market because it would destroy the Commonwealth and end a thousand years of British history, and who made the best anti-Market speech by any British politician.

There was his ally William Rodgers, the forgotten member of the 'Gang of Four', who organised the successful Campaign for Democratic Socialism. This was set up to overturn Labour's conference decision to get rid of British nuclear weapons (a decision also denounced by Gaitskell in his 'fight, fight and fight again speech').

The CDS fought and fought and fought again, in dozens of constituency Labour Parties, while others did similar work in the unions, against this Communist-backed attempt to divide NATO and place Europe under the shadow of Moscow. And they won.

Go further back and you'll find Ernest Bevin dethroning the loveable old booby George Lansbury as party leader, because Lansbury's pacifism was an absurdity in the age of Hitler. Bevin later became one of the most instinctively patriotic foreign secretaries we've ever had (no European nonsense for him either, if it upset British coalminers). The right wing didn't just make itself felt on foreign affairs, important as they were. It might surprise you to know that a large chunk of the Labour Cabinet voted to retain capital punishment in 1948. Or that some Labour MPs voted consistently against liberalised abortion and divorce in the 1960s.

And, from my ancient days as a labour and industrial correspondent, I remember the leaders of the Electricians' And Engineering unions fighting the Cold War against the fellow travellers of the rest of the union movement. I specially treasure the memory of Frank Chapple of the Electricians ( who had helped fight against Communist ballot-rigging in his union) denouncing the rest of the TUC for their pathetic refusal to give full backing to Polish Solidarity against the Warsaw Communist dictatorship. There were little things too. I remember at a much more obscure union conference hearing an ordinary delegate, confronted with the argument that there was no unemployment in the Soviet Union, getting to his feet to snarl "And there's no unemployment in Wormwood Scrubs either".

But Right Wing Labour died soon after 1981, when the Gang of Four broke away. By no means all of them were 'right wing', but some of them were, and Labour's Marxoid left took the opportunity of the defections to make several important constitutional changes that made life in the Labour Party very difficult for socially, morally and culturally conservative-minded types.

These changes, pursued by the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, were keenly backed by those bits of the union movement that were infiltrated by the Communist Party, which in those days used its industrial strength skilfully in favour of shoving Labour sharply to the Left.

The conventional wisdom is that Neil Kinnock crushed 'the Left' in his famous denunciation of the Militant Tendency, and that he prepared the way for a 'Right wing' counter-revolution by Anthony Blair (by the way, those who wonder why I call him this should know that I do it to make people think. It is, in fact, his name. He called himself that in articles he wrote for the New Statesman in the 1980s, and his wife referred to him as 'Anthony' in her election leaflet in Margate in 1983. He switched to 'Tony' for political reasons. People brought up with his background would have thought 'Tony' a bit downmarket).

Actually, the Kinnock-Blair counter-revolution is a myth. the Militant tendency, outside Liverpool, was a no-account Trotskyist sect, even smaller than the International Socialists to which I long ago belonged. It was not a major force in the leftist takeover of the Party, and its defeat didn't reverse the constitutional changes. The great fuss over 'Clause Four' is likewise meaningless.

Nationalisation hadn't been a serious issue in the Labour Party since the late 1950s. the issue over which the Left held on, and have never flinched, is comprehensive schools, identified by them as far more significant than nationalisation. Any Labour leader who sought to bring back selection by ability would be destroyed, though the Left have accepted covert selection though wealth or religious affiliation, of the sort used by the Labour elite - provided the idea of an eleven plus is strictly off limits. Taxation and the expansion of the welfare state, plus a conviction that crime was a disease that needed to be treated, are other important parts of this ideology. And, once Jacques Delors had explained the European Union's social democratic nature to them, they were mad keen on that too. Issues of national independence didn't worry this lot.

The other thing that changed was that Margaret Thatcher, by devastating manufacturing industry, had pretty much wiped out the old male-dominated heavy-lifting industries where Labour's socially conservative, religious voters were still concentrated. The union movement quietly transformed itself into a white-collar, feminised pressure group for public spending, since most union members now work in the public sector. Many of these new trades unionists - social workers, teachers, civil servants, Quango employees, BBC people, local government and health professionals - had also been through the universities or teacher training colleges of the 1960s and early 1970s, where crude cultural Marxism was the standard received opinion, and so formed the willing shock-troops of political correctness.

I think there may be one or two actual right-wing Labour MPs still hiding out in the Parliamentary Labour Party, but I don't want to make their wretched, hunted lives any worse by naming them here. They have no real influence or hopes of preferment to high office and so -unlike their forerunners - are politically meaningless.

This is why the Labour Party, whose leadership elections were once so contentious and fierce, now has no real issue over which to divide.

And yet these vestigial right-wingers represent a huge current of working class social conservatism, broadly patriotic, broadly religious, broadly monarchist, against drunkenness, gambling and sexual licence, highly uneasy about mass immigration, hostile to the EU, angry about crime and disorder.

But the Labour Party itself long ceased to represent such people.

Some of these abandoned voters might well help form the basis of the new party I hope for. In fact it would have no chance without them. They could never possibly vote Tory, and find it increasingly difficult to vote Labour. It is time they were represented in Parliament again - but it won't happen until the two old parties are obviously ready for the morgue. All that can save these two near-corpses is a silly revival of the Tory vote in 2009, and state funding. Let us hope that neither happens.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

John McDonnell

Gordon Brown will not rule out either a Lib-Lab coalition (being campaigned for by Newsnight) or the BBC's long-preferred Alternative Vote electoral system (being campaigned for by The World At One). Only a vote for John McDonnell is a vote against these things, and he should be shouting that fact from the rooftops.

Furthermore, McDonnell has thoroughly conservative, "Middle English" views, as has the traditional Left generally, on Europe, on civil liberties, on the decidedly unconservative neoconservative war agenda, and on neoliberal economics (hardly of benefit to, say, farmers or shopkeepers).

For good or ill, the Irish Question is no longer being asked. I do not welcome into the government of either part of Ireland those who believe the (notably undisbanded) Provisional Army Council to be the sovereign body throughout Ireland. But I seem to be in a minority of one on that score. And at least John McDonnell was advocating it a very long time before either Gordon Brown or David Cameron.

Monday, 14 May 2007

Away With Tyranny and Terror

This is my five hundredth post.

Are you an enemy of tyrrany and terror? If so, then you cannot possibly be in favour of more powers for the European "Parliament", a platform for Stalinists (in the technical sense of the term), Trotskyists, neo-Fascists, neo-Nazis, and people who believe the Provisional Army Council of the IRA to be the sovereign body throughout Ireland.

If the Council of Ministers (a legislative body of elected politicians) were made to meet in public, and to publish an Official Report akin to Hansard, then there would be no need for the European "Parliament", and it could just be abolished. But then, such are the vagaries of the electoral systems on the Continent that at least the first four of the above problems would still apply: as junior partners in coalition governments, such people would still be making, just as they do now, the laws under which we must live.

Furthermore, numerous members of the old nomenklatura, including three from within the Soviet Union itself, now sit on the all-powerful European Commission, while the conditions of some coalition or other will undoubtedly result in a neo-Fascist or neo-Nazi appointment thereto, sooner rather than later.

And all of this before the accession of Turkey...

A Truly Grand Coalition

They might be wrong about economics (can they not see that their views in that field contradict everything else for which they stand?), but they are right about a great deal of other things, and now they, the Cornerstone Group of Tory MPs, have launched a blog HERE.

Although he'd probably better not announce it while campaigning, PM Brown should invite each of the Cornerstone Group and the Socialist Campaign Group to nominate one MP, on Privy Council terms, to sit on each Cabinet Committee, and one (most obviously Edward Leigh and John McDonnell respectively) to sit in Cabinet, though without voting rights, on those same terms.

All in return for never actually voting against the Government (although abstention would be all right, at least for Tories and so long as they didn't speak in the debate). A similar deal would be harder to strike with the Crossbench Peers, but would still be possible with enough will.

Not only would this all be good in itself, but it would sod the Lib Dems, and with them the BBC's obvious campaign to revive New Labour's founding aspiration of a Lib-Lab merger entirely on the Lib Dems' terms. That, in turn would have a significant knock-on effect on the Cameroons. Or rather, a significant knock-out effect on the Cameroons, the last standard-bearers of New Labour.

Britain: Europe's Real Banana Republic

Children are never kidnapped in Britain, as they are in Portugal. Are they? All right, then, they are always speedily returned, safe and well, to their parents. Aren't they?

When are we going to get over the demented notion that everywhere on the Continent is a banana republic, even Germany with her police who police and her schools that teach, even France with her superb rail network, even ... well, the list goes on, and on, and on?

Once we do, then we might no longer produce persons such as the lady engaged to a Briton recently extradited to Greece to stand trial for attempted murder. Incandescent at the audacity of Johnny Foreigner, she has bewailed that "They are supposed to be under European law now [what does that have to do with anything in this case?], but they think that they can still make laws for themselves!" Imagine!

And we might even condescend to enter a serious piece of popular music with even an outside chance of winning the Eurovision Song Contest, rather than moaning that other countries "take it [i.e., take themselves] seriously".

Of course, there is one banana republic in Europe. It is the land of John "Banana" Yates, bent and yellow, who refused to interview Tony Blair under caution so as to preclude a Prime Ministerial resignation even more premature than has proved necessary in any case, and who is refusing to charge people who have been caught red-handed, and who are probably going to plead guilty anyway, until after that resignation and the subsequent "handover" have taken place. I defy anyone to find anywhere on the Continent remotely as corrupt as that.

The McDonnell Broadcasting Corporation? If Only!

How many elections do the Lib Dems have to lose before the BBC stops trying to turn the other two parties into them? Not content with Newsnight's campaign for Gordon Brown to replace his fellow-Eurosceptic Margaret Beckett with Sir Menzies Campbell, The World At One today launched its renewal of the Beeb's longrunning campaign for the entirely non-"proportional" Alternative Vote electoral system, egged on by Simon Hughes.

Or has Auntie been taken over by John McDonnell's campaign, which, always on course for thirty per cent of the vote, would top forty per cent if Brown failed to rule out both a Lib-Lab coalition and any move away from First Past The Post either for Westminster or for local government?

Saturday, 12 May 2007

More Power To Parliament, More Power To The People

So, Gordon wants more power for Parliament and for the People, does he? Good for him. Just for a start, he should try the following:

1. The restoration of the supremacy of British over EU law, and the use of this to restore Britain's historic fishing rights;

2. No EU law to apply in the United Kingdom without having gone through exactly the same parliamentary process as if it were a Bill which had originated in our own Parliament;

3. The requirement of British Ministers to adopt the show-stopping Empty Chair Policy until the Council of Ministers meets in public and publishes an Official Report akin to Hansard;

4. The election of Britain's European Commissioner by the whole electorate from a shortlist of two submitted by a secret ballot of MPs;

5. The disapplication in the United Kingdom of any ruling of the European Court of Justice by resolution of the House of Commons (giving this country the same level of independence as is rightly enjoyed by Germany through her Constitutional Court), and the non-application of any ruling under either the Human Rights Act or the European Convention on Human Rights unless and until ratified by such a resolution;

6. Repeal of the Civil Contingencies Act;

7. Repeal of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act;

8. Restoration of the situation whereby a Bill which runs out of parliamentary time is lost at the end of that session;

9. Repeal of existing erosions of trial by jury, and of existing reversals of the burden of proof;

10. Abolition of majority verdicts (which, by definition, provide for conviction even where there is reasonable doubt), raising of the minimum age for jurors at least to 21, restoration of a minimum property and/or educational qualification for jurors, restoration of the pre-1968 committal powers of the magistracy, and abolition of stipendiary magistrates;

11. Each MP who took his or her seat to be given a tax-free allowance of a fixed sum of money, publicly transferable to the registered political party of that MP's choice, conditional upon matching funding by resolution of a membership organisation (the name of which would then appear in brackets on the ballot paper after the party designation next to that MP's name), with party spending limited to twice the number of MPs multiplied by the amount of this allowance, thus precluding any state funding such as would necessitate state involvement, no doubt through some ghastly commission of the ruling class, both in policy formulation and in candidate selection, which would enable that class to dictate, even more than at present, both what may be discussed, and by whom, with no role for trade unions, i.e., no role for large numbers of working, tax-paying people and their families, the length and breadth of this country;

12. The introduction of a system whereby each constituency party submitted a shortlist of two potential parliamentary candidates to a binding ballot of all registered electors in that constituency, and each party at national level submitted a shortlist of two potential Leaders (i.e., putative Prime Ministers) to a binding ballot of all registered electors throughout the United Kingdom, not least because this would help to protect the First Past The Post electoral system at both national and (therefore) local level;

13. Each branch of each party (including branches of affiliated organisations in Labour's or its successor's case) to suggest up to three policies, with members at branch level to vote for one, with the three receiving the highest numbers of votes from each branch going forward, with the ten highest scorers nationwide then going out to a ballot of the whole electorate, with each voter entitled to vote for up to two, and with the top five then to be included in the subsequent General Election Manifesto;

14. Continual exposure of the ruling class's pathological hatred of local government as in fact an undisguised hatred of people other than themselves, and as expressing itself in the ridiculous view that councils ought to be "commissioners rather than providers" of services, as if efficiency or accountability had somehow been increased by a village primary school's no longer even employing its own caretaker, or by giving private companies unconditional licenses to print public money in return for risk-free "investments" in, say, emptying the bins, or preparing school food, so that the sooner that this whole process of the last 25 years is halted and reversed, the better;

15. Everywhere to be covered by a Parish or Town Council, or an urban or suburban equivalent, with greatly increased powers and resources;

16. Election of the BBC Governors for a fixed term of five years from among those licence-payers in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and each of the nine English regions who are politically independent (sufficient to be eligible in principle for membership of the remuneration panels of local councils), with each licence-payer (including members of political parties) voting for one candidate, the top two per area being elected at the end, and the Chairman being appointed by the Secretary of State with the approval of the relevant Select Committee;

17. No one to be permitted to own or control more than one national daily newspaper, more than one national weekly newspaper, more than one television station (including any of the ITV regional stations), or interests in both sectors, a move which, if made at the start of a Parliament, would just be a fact of life by the time that another General Election came round;

18. As many trade unions as possible to ballot their members as to a potential member of the House of Lords, and then to challenge the Government en bloc to ennoble those thus elected, or else explain in each case what was unacceptable both absolutely and by comparison with Jeffrey Archer, Mike Watson or the Levy Mob;

19. Programmes of one-year House of Commons internships for the highest-scoring A-level candidate at the centre serving each ex-LEA's poorest catchment area who was willing to take them up (most preferably funded by that ex-LEA, and in the office of the local MP) and for a graduate of each of the post-1992 universities (most preferably funded by that university, and in the office of the local MP), thus beating the ruling class at its own game; and

20. The development of an accredited qualification for older "non-graduates" with life experience who aspire to become MPs.

As I say, just for a start.

All The Talents

Newsnight went bananas about Gordon Brown's "Government of all the talents" including the Liberal Democrats. It has now become clear why the BBC is campaigning for Margaret Beckett to be sacked. It is not just her Euroscepticism, although there is that, especially given that all three even potential candidates for the Labour Leadership are Eurosceptics, as are several of the candidates for Deputy Leader. But even beyond that, it is because the Beeb has decided that Sir Menzies Campbell should become Foreign Secretary. And who will Brown be to argue? Only the Prime Minister, that's all: no one at all compared to the BBC.

Jon Snow's Moribund Rump

Reporting Blair's resignation-that-isn't on Channel Four News, Jon Snow described the Labour Party of the early 1990s as "a moribund rump". No, it wasn't. But it is now.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Things Can Only Get Better

There, I think that that's dealt with for now.

Iran and Islam

I have been asked in several emails why I am so sympathetic to Iran when I am so concerned, more generally, about the threat posed by Islam. Well, many of my answers may be read in earlier posts. But it more than bears repetition that Shi'ism does not believe in the Caliphate, and that the attempt to create in Iran something comparable thereto is already on the way out, just as such attempts will not last in Southern Iraq, or in Lebanon.

Iranian Shi'ism in any case contains many very obvious continuations both of Zorastrianism and of Hellenism, whereas the Iraqi and Lebanese versions are of course culturally Arab: austere, ferocious, and, in the Iraqi case (the form found in an arc around the Gulf, and including most of both the Saudi and the Iranian oil-producing regions), not much marked by any great pre-Islamic culture, other than so very long ago as to make little difference; Lebanon, being in the Levant, is of course a completely different story. Being Levantine is an important mitigating factor. Being Persian is even more so.

And what of Sufism, I have been asked? Well, there are very obvious continuations of Judaism, of Christianity and (at least through Christianity, and possibly also through Judaism) of Hellenism in Sufism. As with Sh'ism, Wahhabi, Salafi, Deobandi and the rest who argue that Sufism is largely un-Islamic have a very good point, or, rather, a series of very good points. But the Chechens are Sufi, and Sufism is hugely influential both in Turkey and on the "village Islam" of the Indian Subcontinent, two enormous sources of danger. Furthermore, there exists a Sufi Council of Britain which, in a classic neocon-Islamic alliance, supports the conditions of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, and supported the full extent of the Israeli bombardment of Lebanon.

Finally, when the Wahhabi, Salafi, Deobandi and the rest say that theirs is the true, pure, original Islam, then, although they are wrong in detail, they are fundamentally correct. And that is the problem: Islam, simply as such. Which, in those terms, Iranian Shi'ism is not, making it far less of a problem, if necessarily a problem at all.

Fake and Real Threats

The widow of Mohammed Siddique Khan has been noisily arrested, and is apparently to be subjected to a mind-boggling identity parade of women in full Islamic dress. But believe the hype when she is at least charged, or preferably convicted, never mind convicted of anything remotely connected with terrorism. Based on past form, there is little chance of the first outcome, less of the second, and as good as none of the third.

But yet further theft of our liberties is no doubt being planned on the back of all of this. And, in the meantime, capitalism continues to demand and receive unlimited immigration, supposedly Socialist forces continue to cheer this on, the once-and-future Caliphate of Turkey remains in NATO and prepares to enter the EU, the Wahhabi-led dismemberment of Yugoslavia approaches its bitter end (or is it?), and we carry on backing Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Chechens.

It is time to wake up to the real threats, the ones that actually exist.

Where Does Auntie Find These Nieces (Of Both Sexes)?

If you thought that Martha Kearney was bad on The World At One, then don't take your eye off the rising Emily Maitliss, who presented last night's HARDTalk Special on BBC News 24.

Tony Benn and Norman Tebbit wanted to talk about politics. But Maitliss, being a BBC political correspondent, had no interest in such matters, and only wanted to talk about Tony-Hates-Gordon gossip. She repeatedly asked Benn about Gordon Brown's "style", and when he repeatedly tried to steer the conversation towards policy instead, she seemed genuinely close to tears. Then she nearly exploded with rage when Tebbit pointed out that the opinion polls were unreliable (which they are).

Expect a lot more of this.

But we have only ourselves to blame. We could create new political movements, based on clear principles expressed as specific policies. I am doing my bit towards that end. Are you?

Save Margaret Beckett From The Beeb

Still licking its wounds from the failure of its campaign to make David Miliband Prime Minister, the BBC has begun a campaign to remove Margaret Beckett as Foreign Secretary once Gordon Brown takes over at Number 10. This campaign must be opposed and stopped.

You don't have to like, or approve of, Mrs Beckett (although right-wing readers should note that she is the most Eurosceptical Foreign Secretary since Bevin, which is why the Beeb wants rid of her). You just have to believe that campaigns of this kind are not what the BBC is for.

As for Milly, Brown should sack him, at which point his rather improbable constituents at South Shields (has he ever even met them?) would deselect him.

Not that Milly's the only one like that, of course...

Neil Clark Spot On: Part One

This article of Neil's appears in today's First Post:

Serb-bashing, the last acceptable form of racism in Europe, sadly shows no sign of abating. The news that Serbia is to take over the presidency of the Council of Europe this week has sent Serbo-phobes into paroxysms of rage. "If European countries can't find the courage to act against Serbia, they can't find the courage to act against anyone," complains George Monbiot in the Guardian.

But the Serb-bashers are wrong: the Balkan republic has every right to be considered a valued member of the European family. Of all the constituent republics of the former Yugoslavia, Serbia was the least responsible for its violent break-up. The conflict was precipitated, not by Serb aggression, but by the illegal breakaway of Slovenia, egged on by Germany, in 1991.

Foreign intervention was also responsible for the war in Bosnia: the touch-paper being lit by the US ambassador Warren Zimmerman when he persuaded the Bosnian separatist leader Izetbegovic to renege on the EU-sponsored 1992 Lisbon agreement.

While no one denies that Bosnian Serbs committed atrocities, it's important to remember that the International Court of Justice recently exonerated Serbia of responsibility for the massacre at Srebrenica. Serbo-phobes castigate Serbia for not extraditing Mladic and Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leaders, to The Hague. But can one really blame Serbs for questioning the impartiality of a court which was set up by the very Nato powers which illegally bombed their country in 1999, and which, from its inception, has shown a blatant anti-Serb bias?

Far from being a pariah state, Serbia has played a positive role in modern European history: it was the Serb uprising against the Nazis in 1941 which postponed the Wehrmacht's invasion of the Soviet Union by a crucial five weeks. Were it not for the bravery of the most unjustly demonised people on the continent, Europe would look a very different place today.

Neil Clark Spot On: Part Two

This article of Neil's appears in today's Morning Star:

The French anarchist group the Situationists made doing nothing a philosophy. As a lifestyle, doing nothing might be considered a trifle extreme. But on the evidence of Tony Blair's period of office, it's difficult to think of a better basis for our foreign policy. Liberal imperialists like Blair routinely claim that their policy- of intervention before breakfast, lunch and dinner, from Kosovo, to Afghanistan and Iraq is the ethical one.

A closer inspection will show that the very opposite is true.

Consider the bloodshed in the former Yugoslavia. In the great liberal imperialist rewrite of history, atrocities such as Srebrenica occurred because the West sat back and watched the evil Serbs try to ethnically cleanse their way to a Greater Serbia. The truth was that without Western interference, there would have been no Balkan civil wars in the first place.

In what the author Diana Johnstone has described as an ‘extraordinary intervention contrary to all customary diplomatic usage’ Warren Zimmerman, the U.S. Ambassador in Belgrade made it clear Washington would not accept any use of force by the Yugoslav Federal Army to keep the federation together. The Germans in their sponsorship of separatists in Slovenia and Croatia went further- not only promising diplomatic support to the republics if they broke away, - but also equipping them with weapons and air force stocks. In Bosnia, the U.S. did all they could to prevent the separatist Bosnian leadership signing up to any deal which would have kept the republic in Yugoslavia, and also sabotaged the 1992 Lisbon agreement which would have provided for a peaceful division of an independent Bosnia. ‘If you don’t like it, why sign it ?’ Zimmerman asked Alija Izetbegovic- thus lighting the touch paper for the three year civil war.

Four years after Bosnia, the liberal imperialists were at it again, this time bellowing for military intervention against the Serbs for alleged atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. But once again, the trouble in Kosovo was not that the West had been doing nothing, but that it had been doing plenty.

Since 1997, western governments- determined to break up what was left of Yugoslavia, had been hard at work transforming the rag-bag cut-throats of the Kosovan Liberation Army into a viable fighting force. Eight years on from the ‘humanitarian’ intervention which followed, Kosovo, under the auspices of the ‘international community’, can accurately be described as Europe’s first Mafia-run state. The province, previously so multiracial, has been ethnically cleansed of over 200,000 Serbs and Roma. Thousands are still without regular electricity. And the dropping of over 10,000 tons of depleted uranium in the 1999 NATO bombing campaign has led to a sharp rise in cancers, not just in Kosovo but across the rest of Serbia too.

In 2001, it was the Afghans turn to sip from the poisoned chalice of Western intervention. A multi-million dollar military campaign was launched by Washington to topple the Taliban- the group of Islamic fundamentalists who but for foreign meddling in Afghan affairs would never have come to power in the first place. To date ‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ has claimed the lives of over 5000 civilians, including the 40 guests, mainly women and children, killed during a B52 raid on a wedding party. ‘Afghanistan is an utterly lawless country’ was the verdict of the veteran war reporter Robert Fisk, returning to the country after its ‘liberation’. ‘Schools have been burnt down, there have been rapes in the north. You cannot travel the roads by night’.

Unabashed by the chaos they unleashed in Afghanistan, the liberal imperialists then moved on to Iraq. In the media brainwashing that preceded the war, it was taken as a given that ‘something had to be done’ about Saddam- even by those in the anti-war movement. When The Guardian asked twenty prominent anti-war campaigners the question ‘what would you do about HIM’, only two came up with the proper response- to do nothing. Had the U.S. and Britain done exactly that four years ago, save lift the genocidal sanctions that were killing 5,000 Iraqi children a month and halt the illegal twice weekly bombing raids on the ‘no-fly’ zones, over 600,000 people now dead would still be alive. And the world would be a much safer place.

Liberal imperialism is not only unethical in its consequences- but also in the basic assumption that underlies it- namely the arrogance that ‘we’ ...i.e. the most powerful nations on earth have a god-given right to interfere in the internal affairs of other 'less enlightened’ nations- to dictate who should be their leaders and under what system of government they should operate.

Doing nothing as a foreign policy is, by contrast, based on humility- in acknowledging that we have no moral authority to interfere in matters which are clearly not our concern. Doing nothing not only means not getting involved in disputes that are not our business, but also not helping to ignite those disputes in the first place. That means reining in the military/industrial complex in whose interest it is that humanitarian ‘crises’ come along every two or three years. It also means respect for both the spirit and letter of international law- and the overriding importance it places on the principle of national sovereignty -a concept as despised by today’s liberal imperialists as much as it was by their jack-booted predecessors.

As we survey the physical and human debris caused throughout the world, by those told us that ‘something must be done’- the adoption of a truly ethical foreign policy is surely the most urgent priority of our times.

What are the Lib Dems FOR?

THIS is Simon Jenkins as he so often is: the overall point is spot on, even if some of the detail is infuriatingly wrong.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Bad, But Not All That Bad?

Perhaps Sarkozy, though bad, is not all that bad? After all, he is not opposed to protectionism, but he is opposed to hedge funds and to speculative capitalism, and (unlike those Islamisers of Europe, the neocons, generally) he is opposed to Turkish accession to the EU.

Apparently, Sarkozy sees himself as the new de Gaulle. Well, then, here's hoping that he turns out, after all, to be a good conservative dirigiste, in opposition to the capitalist corrosion of everything that conservatives exist in order to conserve, and that, inseparably therefrom, he treats both halfs of the neocon-Islamic alliance just as the General treated all four of German occupation, Soviet infiltration, American domination, and the unbalancing of the old Common Market by British accession. After all, de Gaulle was right on all those counts.

Sarkozy is young enough to want a second term, for which he will need the votes of those Gaullists whom he hoodwinked into voting for him this time. But by then, of course, he will have a Presidential record on which to be judged.

An NHS Board

Who is going to be on the proposed NHS Board, first suggested by Gordon Brown, and now taken up by the BMA? The NHS, through the Secretary of State for Health, is currently accountable to the House of Commons. It is also consistently the electorate’s number one concern. But now the electorate, as such, actually cannot even care about interest rates, even though the public certainly does. And Brown seems determined to do the same thing to health policy, once again reversing one of Labour greatest democratising achievements.

With no say over either monetary policy or health policy, what will politicians be for? There will still be education, and transport, and policing, and social security, and foreign policy, and defence, and a host of other matters. But for how much longer? The precedent will be well and truly set. Parliament will go the way of local councils, except voluntarily.

We should insist on a directly elected NHS Board, if we must have one at all. In Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and each of the nine English regions, we would each vote for one candidate. The top three would be elected to serve a four-year term. There would also be a Chairman, appointed by the Secretary of State with the approval of the House of Commons. The Board would meet in public under any circumstance when a council would do so. And the candidates would be sufficiently independent to qualify in principle for the Remuneration Panels of their local authorities.

This pattern would also be applied to the BBC Governors (in which case the voters and candidates would be licence-payers), to Ofcom, to the Press Complaints Commission, and to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, just for a start.

Not the necessary restoration and extension of the powers both of Parliament and of local government. But a few steps in the right direction.

The Unions and Illegal Immigration

What are the unions doing, supporting an amnesty for illegal immigrants? The "free" movement of labour is inseparable from that of goods, services and capital, and none of those "freedoms" can be contained within any legal framework, which is why those (a tiny number) who benefit from them materially (though not in any other way, but that doesn't bother them) want and welcome such "freedoms".

A new working class is being imported, which understands no English except commands, has no idea of workers' rights in this country, can be moved around at will because it has no attachment to any specific locality here, and can be deported if it steps out of line. The existing working class can then just be made to go hang, taking with it its unions, its minimum wage, its health and safety regulations, and the rest.

The unions (and the Catholic Church, also supporting this proposed amnesty) should indeed be in the vanguard. On the other side.

Monday, 7 May 2007

The Fall of France

What an unmitigated disaster: the end of Gaullism, of an independent French foreign policy.

A third permanent seat on the UN Security Council is now in the hands of a supporter of the neoconservative war agenda. Britain and France will still be like that even after the US itself has ceased to be. And if even the French can no longer be bothered to maintain an independent foreign policy, then what hope is there for us, or for the Germans, or for the Italians, or for anyone at all really?

Chirac really was a conservative, and the neocons' problem with Gaullism was that it really was a conservative ideology. So, no "Someone Else's Country [America, Israel], Right Or Wrong". No use of "realist" as a term of abuse. And no idolisation of the Whiggish "free" market, with its utterly corrosive effects on everything that conservatives, properly so called, exist in order to conserve.

Oh well, goodbye to all that.

Even I do have to hand it to the neocons. Theirs is an ideology with no roots in the mainstream political tradition of any country on earth. Yet they have managed to convince Americans that world-remaking military interventionism is not only American, but American even in a conservative sense. They have managed to convince conservative Australian and Canadian voters to support subordination to America (thus redefined, of course).

They have managed to supplant the Social Catholic tradition in Germany (at least beyond Bavaria), Italy, Spain and Portugal, a tradition less like which their own ideology could not conceivably be. They have managed to supplant even the Tory and Labour traditions in Britain, at least in the sense that no political party now embodies, or seeks to give effect to, either of those traditions. And now they have even managed to supplant Gaullism.

Chilling. But impressive.

Hills Of The North, Rejoice

In the world of Fleet Street and the BBC, everyone grew up in the Home Counties, went to Oxbridge, moved to central London, and has lived there ever since. Just as they imagine Labour to have been hegemonic in Scotland and Wales for decades until recent days, so Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle are the only places in the North of which they have ever heard, and even those could not be identified on a map by them. (George Osborne even claimed this week that Birmingham was in the North, although he himself is nominally the MP for Tatton!)

In that world, it is axiomatic that General Elections are won and lost in the South East, since that world's inhabitants know absolutely nothing about any other part of Britain (the assumption that anyone with a Scottish, Welsh, Northern or Midland accent is working-class is a particularly jaw-dropping case in point). So Jon Sopel was barely able to contain himself on The Politics Show when Derek Simpson repeatedly suggested that Labour needed to reconnect with the North. There are, after all, still no Tory Councillors in any of the three Northern settlements whose names Sopel could dimly recall (nor are there any in Oxford, but no one ever mentions that). And anyway, who cares?

Well, in point of fact, the Labour gains in the South East in 1997 were just a bonus. Most of them went back to the Tories in 2005, doing the Tories absolutely no good whatever. For the Tories first nearly and then actually lost office by first nearly (in 1992) and then actually (in 1997) losing most or all of their seats in the real key electoral battlegrounds of Scotland, Wales, the North and the Midlands. The Tories' failure to recapture office has been precisely their failure to recapture those seats. Furthermore, the battle between the Tories and the Lib Dems in the West Country actually makes the difference between a majority Government and a hung Parliament at every Election, yet receives as good as no media attention.

By contrast, however important it might be economically, the media's beloved South East is an electoral irrelevance, as the last General Election proved conclusively.

Yes, Congratulations To The Lib Dems!

It is not often that one has cause to congratulate the Liberal Democrats, but their principled refusal to acquiesce to the SNP's demand for a Scotland-only referendum on the continued existence of my country, the United Kingdom, is truly exemplary. The Unionists easily won the Scottish Election. And the United Kingdom is my country, which no one has the right to take away from me. Those are the two points that matter.

Not The Conservative Party

Huge gains for Derwentside Independents in the heartiest of Labour's heartland wards, an example of just how well a predominantly right-wing alternative to Labour can do, provided that it is not the Conservative Party. Similar groups are springing up all over the place, and actually run at least four English councils, including one (Teesdale) here in County Durham. Surely someone in the media must be interested in this striking and fascinating sign of the times?

Good Riddance

Gordon Brown has little to commend him, but if the prospect of his Premiership is enough to banish John Reid from public life, then Brown really cannot be all that bad. Who will be the next to jump before being pushed, announcing an intention to "retire"? The smart money is on Tessa Jowell, but there will be others. Reid's best mate in Cabinet, at whose Constituency Labour Party dinner he has given an after-dinner speech, for a start...

Which brings me to a Reid-admirer known to me, who refused to speak to old schoolmates at Thursday's count because they were now lowly tellers (their reaction to this was hilariously unprintable and unprintably hilarious...), and who is perhaps best described as Not David Lindsay, since the basis of such political success as he has ever had in this Ward and Parish has been his supposedly high profile, and supposed popularity, compared to me.

For that reason, my former party ran him as a District Council candidate instead of me four years ago; he lost them the seat. I have just been comfortably re-elected to the Parish Council, whereas he scraped back in by a hair's breadth. All in all, at a most localised level, Reid's delusion that he could have beaten Brown for Leader springs to mind.

So I can only regret that Reid had not made his announcement this time last night, when I was pinned up against an alley wall by NDL's brother-in-law-to-be, with his hands gripping my throat, while NDL's sister screamed hysterically that, among other things, I had "ruined [NDL's] career". What "career"?

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Didn't The Tories Do Well?

No, they did not. Winning back Dover, Rugby, Windsor and Maidenhead, South Norfolk, Chester, and the East Riding only causes people to exclaim, "You mean that there was ever not a Tory-controlled council in Dover, Rugby, Windsor and Maidenhead, South Norfolk, Chester, or the East Riding!" And note how their "Northern Revival" extends no further north than borderlands such as Cheshire and East Yorkshire.

Not that any of this will bother either the Cameron Broadcasting Corporation or those who still use the Tories as a bogeyman with which to frighten Labour MPs, Labour activists (such as there still are) or traditional Labour supporters into line. When is someone going to ask, "So what if the Tories got back in? What would they actually do that was any different?" Answer would come there none.

Farewell To All That

What should form part of Tony Blair's farewell tour, and why?

Auntie Won't Let It Go

The BBC campaigned relentlessly for the Oxonian public schoolboy and neocon sympathiser Chris Huhne to be made Leader of the Liberal Democrats. It has never shown anything but spite towards the man who beat him, Sir Menzies Campbell. And on The Word At One, it was actually pushing Huhne as an alternative Leader against his express will, right there in the room! Specifically, that pushing was being done by Martha Kearney, whose appointment to The World At One has significantly lowered its tone, so that one expects, any day now, questioning of the coffee-and-underwear variety to which Kearney subjected David Cameron and David Davis on Woman's Hour.

Kearney appears to have secured her present appointment as a sort of consolation prize for not being made Political Editor of the BBC despite a shrieking campaign by Polly Toynbee in the Guardian, which consisted of nothing more than "but she's a woman, so you have to appoint her!" Toynbee is currently running another such campaign, in support of Harriet Harman for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. When that also comes to nought, how should the BBC console Harman, and why?

Fourth Past The Post? No, Thanks!

Not only has the scandal of the spoiled papers in Scotland exposed the impracticality of changing the electoral system, but, both in Scotland and in Wales, the party that came fourth is now the kingmaker. Indeed, on Newsnight from Edinburgh, no representative of the party that came third in Scotland (and Wales) was interviewed at all! This is not remotely either proportional or representative. In fact, it is the opposite of either.

The L-Word

Hundreds of (largely right-wing) Labour activists have just lost the main or only reason for their activism, namely their own or their spouses' Councillors' allowances. Rightly or wrongly, they blame this on the Blair-Brown feud and the negative publicity that that feud has attracted to the Labour Party. A Left candidate for Leader was always going to get thirty per cent of the vote if he actually mananged to make it onto the ballot. But he would now get forty per cent, thanks to the votes of ostensibly his least likely supporters, who, so far as they are concerned, have now had their comfortable old age stolen by Gordon Brown twice over. So, all that a Left candidate now has to do is make it onto the ballot...

Who's In Charge?

Can we now expect people who have been caught red handed and are probably going to plead guilty anyway to be charged, or must we wait until Blair has actually resigned?

Beyond The Pale

The Scots had an election on the constitutional question, and the Unionists won resoundingly, with far more Unionists than separatists elected. This throws into sharp relief the perpetual duty of Unionist politicians to treat separatist parties as political pariahs, not only in Scotland, but also in Wales, in Northern Ireland, and indeed in England.

Plaid Cymru (which, for some reason the BBC now just calls "Plaid", i.e., "party"!) is in a grey area, as, arguably, is the SDLP. But no one must "deal" with the SNP, nor with Sinn Fein, not because the SNP is terrorist (which it certainly isn't), nor even primarily because Sinn Fein is terrorist (although it certainly is), but because both the SNP and Sinn Fein wish to dismantle the State itself, the State being, in point of fact, the United Kingdom.

No other state exists within Great Britain or Northern Ireland, and everything therein either is itself the sovereign Crown in Parliament (within which primacy had passed to the House of Commons, elected by universal adult suffrage), or else exists by and under that sovereign authority. There can be no place for those who believe the (undisbanded) Provisional Army Council of the IRA to be the sovereign body throughout Ireland. And no more can there be any place for those who believe sovereignty in Scotland to reside with the majority of those deemed eligible to vote in a referendum outrageously held only in Scotland, who bother to vote in that referendum, and whose votes are able to be counted.

Trimdon: Ground Zero

Readers outside the North East and Cumbria might be interested to hear that Look North, BBC One's 6:30pm bulletin in these parts, had an interview, not only with the Tory candidate in Tony Blair's "home" ward who secured no votes at all, but also with her proposer, a lifelong Labour voter who had seen some bloke from the Conservative Party wandering Trimdon door to door in search of signatories to the Nomination Papers, had noticed that he "was close to tears" in his despair, had taken pity on him, and had therefore signed up, though without the slightest intention of actually voting Tory. Priceless. Not least as a counterweight to the Cameron Broadcasting Corporation's relentless proclamation of an actually non-existent "Tory" "revival" in the North of England.

Friday, 4 May 2007

A Thousand Thanks, And The Fight Goes On

A thousand thanks to everyone who not only re-elected me to the Parish Council far more comfortably than either I or anyone else had anticipated, but who also gave me four times more District Council votes than I had dared hope for. To my delighted astonishment, somewhere between one quarter and one third of my District supporters voted only for me (as did even quite a number of my Parish supporters), and so presumably would not have voted at all if I had not stood.

Nowhere near half of my District supporters voted for any other single candidate. If even half of them had voted for John Ingham, then he would have kept his seat. Or, if even half of them had voted for my proposer, Paul Jackson, then he would easily have been elected. Or, if even half of them had voted for Bob Glass, then he would have come second and Labour would have won all three seats. So I have not exactly done too badly for a man with absolutely no material resources to speak of, and who had initially had to present himself in person at Consett Civic Centre so as to refuse to leave the room until given the relevant Nomination Papers, which They had repeatedly failed to send out to me by post.

So last night is just the beginning, especially in relation to my four key local aims: to secure a Youth Worker for Lanchester; to cut Lanchester’s Council Tax, by making the new Stanley Town Council pay for the services in Stanley provided by Parish Councils elsewhere, including Lanchester; to secure recognition of the existence of poor people in Lanchester, and the targeting services accordingly; and to stop the setting up of a regional assembly by the back door, which is the real reason for the latest demented scheme to introduce unitary local government in County Durham.

And also in relation to the local application of all my national and international work, of course. So the fight goes on, for real wealth redistribution, including fair tax; against the privatisation of Council Housing; against crime, drugs and antisocial behaviour; for fair school admissions policies; against the shipping in of a new working class which understands no English except commands, has no idea of workers’ rights in Britain, can be moved around the country at will, and can be deported if it steps out of line; for affordable, convenient public transport; against the EU Constitution; and in so many other areas.

Likewise, the fight goes on, against the "free" market, and instead for farm subsidies, for the Greenbelt, for the Agricultural Wages Board, for import controls, and for proper immigration controls; for rural services and amenities; for field sports; for the United Kingdom, against European federalism, and for an independent British foreign policy; against drugs, prostitution, pornography, and unrestricted drinking or gambling; for the State's support of marriage as the legally binding union of one man and one woman, and of fathers as more than mere sperm banks and cash machines; for enforcement of the age of consent laws; for the defence of Christian adoption agencies and other charities; for recognition in word and deed of Britain's and Europe's Christian heritage; and, again, in so many other areas.

And not least, the fight goes on, for no more pointless wars against non-threats, against the ongoing genocide of the ancient Christian community in Iraq, against the reduction of the British Army to a mere Defence Force of amateur policemen and social workers, against the reduction of the Royal Navy to a coastal defence force even though there is no threat to our coast, against the planned abolition of the Royal Air Force altogether, for properly equipped armed forces, for proper medical treatment of the injured, against spending billions of pounds on weapons aimed at nowhere in particular and which we could not even use without foreign permission, and for civil nuclear power to defend us from the turning off of our gas by the Russians or our oil by the Arabs.

After all, as long-term readers of this blog are already aware, I have the emails to prove that the BNP has undertaken to contest this seat of North-West Durham against me but not not against any other candidate, implicitly including the sitting MP, Hilary Armstrong. Therefore, be in no doubt, the fight goes on.

Don't It Always Seem To Go

Neil Clark is on fire at the moment. Here is his latest, from today's The Australian.

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
'Til it's gone.
THE words of Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi were penned nearly 40 years ago, but they do, I believe, have particular relevance this weekend as the citizens of France prepare to bid adieu to Jacques Chirac, their President for the past 12 years.The man they call Le Bulldozer can hardly be said to be going out in a blaze of glory. Opinion polls show about 70 per cent of the French public has a negative view of him: in 2005 Chirac was rated the most unpopular president of the Fifth Republic since pollsters began measuring the personal approval ratings of French politicians in 1978.

Foreign commentators seem similarly unimpressed with Chirac's record. "Whenever a corrupt, vulgar, sex-addled politician leaves office it's a cause for celebration," opines Philip Delves Broughton in Britain's Daily Mail. "When that politician happens to be Jacques Chirac, it is truly a moment to hang out the bunting, whistle La Marseillaise and pop a bottle of Kent's finest methode champenoise."

I beg to differ. Chirac may have got some decisions wrong during his time in office, but on the defining issue of our times - the Iraq war - the "corrupt, vulgar, sex-addled" Bulldozer got it absolutely right. For keeping his country out of a catastrophic conflict and for refusing to give legitimacy to the invasion by supporting a second UN resolution, he deserves far more plaudits than he has yet been accorded.

It's easy to forget the opprobrium Chirac and his country received for having the temerity to oppose the neo-conservative war agenda. The phrase "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", first uttered by a character in The Simpsons and popularised by Jonah Goldberg in National Review, became the favoured term of abuse, while the anti-French hysteria that swept the US led to french fries being renamed freedom fries in three congressional buildings in Washington, DC.

Chirac, likened to a rodent by Christopher Hitchens, was accused of being a pimp for Saddam Hussein, with a 1975 quote - in which he told the then Iraqi vice-president "I welcome you as my personal friend. I assure you of my esteem, my consideration, and my affection" - being constantly dragged up by those who were somewhat less keen to mention former US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld's infamous visit to Baghdad in the 1980s.

When those weapons of mass destruction turned up, Chirac would, we were informed, be a laughing stock. "France (and Germany) risk being completely disqualified as serious members of the international community," predicted Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum. Yet four years on, it's the US and Britain - and not France and Germany - that have seen their international credibility torn to shreds. France, because of its opposition to the Iraq war, is now arguably the most respected Western country not only in the Middle East but throughout the entire world: its increased influence was seen in the key diplomatic role it played in helping to end the Israel-Hezbollah war last year.

Those who warned that France's relations with the US would be permanently damaged on account of Chirac's anti-war stance have also been proved spectacularly wrong. "The revival of French influence in Washington must be particularly galling for Mr Blair after the considerable political damage he has suffered for persisting in his close alliance with the American President," records neo-conservative writer Con Coughlin.

By telling it straight to George W. Bush, Chirac proved himself a better friend to the US than the obsequious Tony Blair. And for his candour Chirac has been rewarded with greater respect in Washington: significantly, there was no "Yo Chirac!" greeting for him at last year's Group of Eight summit.

Chirac's opposition to the Iraq war was not based on any great affection for Saddam, nor knee-jerk anti-Americanism, as his detractors claim, but because in foreign policy terms he is a conservative realist and not a neo-conservative. For conservative realists the whole notion of a pre-emptive strike is anathema. Conservative realists know that wars have unintended consequences and that military action should be the last resort. Conservative realists believe in deterrence and containment: they prefer to let sleeping dogs lie rather than stir up hornets' nests.

But it's a mistake to confuse such a position with weakness. In January last year Chirac said France was prepared to launch a nuclear strike against any country that sponsored a terrorist attack against French interests. When it comes to countering Islamic terror, France's record is second to none: "France is the most stalwart nation in the West, even more so than America, while Britain is the most hapless," is the verdict of US terrorism analyst Daniel Pipes.

The main worry is that under Nicolas Sarkozy, Chirac's probable successor, things could change. Sarkozy criticised Chirac's handling of the Iraq crisis, and even though he has since conceded the French President was right, he nevertheless favours aligning foreign policy more closely to Washington. There's little doubt that Sarkozy has a closer ideological affinity with the neo-conservative world view than his staunchly Gaullist predecessor. And that could mean trouble lies ahead.

It was once said of Neville Chamberlain, Britain's most disastrous prime minister, that he would have made a good lord mayor of Birmingham in a bad year. About Chirac the opposite could be said to be true. He was a mediocre mayor of Paris but, in foreign affairs at least, an uncommonly good president. The French won't know what they had 'til it's gone.