Sunday, 30 November 2008

Water On The Brain

Neil Clark writes:

You couldn’t make it up. You would have thought that after the disaster of railway privatisation the free market loons of The Adam Smith Institute, who came up with the whole barmy idea in the first place, would have done the honourable thing and left public life for good. But no, they’re still at it. The battiest think tank in the world wants to see the publicly-owned Glas Cymru - the company which owns Welsh Water - subjected to the “disciplines of private sector ownership”. And we all know that that will mean: profits for the few, but much higher bills for householders.

In his brilliant post 'English Water, anyone', Charlie Marks writes:

"Though Glas Cymru may not be perfect, it looks a damn sight better than what we have in England! We are being told that the only way to lower our bills is to have the profiteering water companies competing with each other. We have this with our gas and electricity suppliers - but do our bills come down? No, they compete with each other to squeeze as much money out of customers!

Privatisation has been a disaster. Public assets sold off at knock-down prices to the friends and sponsors of the governing party (Tories, now New Labour). Prices have been allowed to skyrocket -natural monopolies are milked for profit by colluding suppliers in gas, electricity, and railways. Rather than seeing greater private investment in our railways, more public money is invested in rail than ever before!

The likes of the Adam Smith Institute can try all they like to convince the public of the benefits of handing public resources over to big businesses. Their nonsense is only heeded by those politicians hoping to get cushy non-jobs in business after they leave office.

We need to return the privatised utilities to public ownership and democratic control, with the involvement of workers and consumers in the process of management.

Surveys of public opinion have never found a clear majority in favour of privatisation - and with the credit crunch being perceived as resulting deregulation and demutualisation, more and more people will begin to see the necessity of reversing the neoliberal era.

Privatisation of water and sewage services did not take place in Scotland or Northern Ireland. Scottish Water is owned by the Scottish government and both the incumbent nationalist party and the opposition Labour Party are committed to the company remaining in the public sector. The Scottish Tories are for privatisation, but are at pains to point out they don’t want what has happened in England! Northern Ireland Water priovides water and sewage services in the six counties; like Scottish Water it is still part of the public sector.

So, there’s Northern Ireland Water, Scottish Water, Welsh Water - how about English Water?"

You can read Charlie’s article in full at the Campaign for Public Ownership’s website and at his own excellent pro-public ownership blog.

Meanwhile, I see that the Adam Smith Institute have got a new book coming out entitled 'Privatisation - Regaining the Momentum'. That's sure to be a best-seller this Christmas, isn't it?

No, because, after the utility bills have been paid, no one can afford to buy it.

Wasted On The Young?

Not only have the Tories of safe Labour Swansea East selected a candidate with the slenddid name of Christian Holliday, but 19-year-old Nick Varley was selected yesterday to contest City of Durham. He grew up in nearby Chester-le-Sreet, and has lived in the constituency itself for the last couple of years, and is a second year law student at Hull.

Labours Roberta Blackman-Woods has a majority of 3,274 over the second-placed Liberal Democrats. The Conservatives are in third place with 9.4 per cent of the vote and Nick would require a swing of over thirty per cent to win the constituency. The seat last had a Consevative MP in 1922.

But that's the student Tories at Durham out of the campaign at Tynemouth, and those at Hull out of the campaigns in any Yorkshire marginals. They'll be trying to get young Varley in, which they won't.

MPs are getting younger, of course. Funnily enough, that trend has coincided with Peers' getting older. Hereditaries would quite often inherit in their thirties or even twenties, quite often take their seats at 21 having inherited in childhood or adolescence, and occasionally even do so having inherited at birth as posthumous sons.

Rogue States

One of the last self-governing and self-respecting countries on earth is Switzerland.

But this United Kingdom, neither self-governing nor self-respecting, has still managed to become a rogue state by licensing human-animal crossbreeding, by permitting the manufacture of spare parts babies, and by purporting to abolish fatherhood.

And Switzerland (alas, all the more easily, even if the grounds of that ease are splendid in themselves) has also managed to become a rogue state, first in relation to assisted suicide, and now also in relation to heroin.

I write this only because I would die for the United Kingdom and in so many ways still greatly admire Switzerland. Both are going through what look like national mid-life crises, perhaps following on, at least in the British case, from the inexplicable decision to have a national adolescence over the last fifty or so years.

Full maturity cannot possibly be restored too soon.

Save Michael Martin

Somebody should be sacked over the Damian Green affair, of course.

Most obviously, and I write this as a very strong supporter of the Police, that needs to be somebody inside the Met, which has clearly decided to go after the party of the politician who has driven its Commissioner (however ill-liked, he was one of their own) from his job, and to avenge its own self-humiliation when it failed to have charges brought over the flagrant sale of seats in our very legislature.

It must not be Mr Speaker Martin.

Yes, he is everything that New Labourites of all parties disdain: economically left-wing, morally and socially conservative, orthodox Catholic, working-class, from the Heartland (the Midlands, the North, the Scottish Lowlands, Wales in general and South Wales in particular) that is now infuriating them even further by returning to economic pre-eminence, committed to traditional parliamentary procedures and to the purposes behind them, undoubtedly very sceptical about European federalism (within American hegemony and globalisation) on the one hand and the break-up of the United Kingdom (into bits all the more easily handed over to the European superstate, the American hyperpower and global capital) on the other.

And yes, he has probably been put at a disadvantage in this case.

But if he goes, then that is the end for everyone who is any one or more of economically left-wing, morally and socially conservative, orthodox Catholic, working-class, from the Heartland, committed to traditional parliamentary procedures and to the purposes behind them, and sceptical about European federalism on the one hand and the break-up of the United Kingdom on the other.

Save Michael Martin.

Nasty In Neasden

At the huge Hindu temple in Neasden, whom did the Government dispatch to attend the ceremony mourning the victims of terrorism in Bombay?

Why, the Minister for London, of course. Tony McNulty.

A man who used to stand with his collecting bucket outside Catholic churches and argue with the old Irish ladies who regarded him as absolutely disgraceful for doing such a thing.

Collecting funds, that is.

For a terrorist organisation.

Which was, at the time, bombing London.

London, then the seat of a Labour Government.

Ukraine and NATO

In Ukraine (the partition of which is now, for good or ill, pretty much inevitable, and most unlikely to be much minded on either side), membership of NATO, which hasn’t done anything worthwhile since 1991 and only still exists to annoy the Russians gratuitously, is apparently regarded as “essential for independence”.

Spot the deliberate mistake.

Help The Ageing

On the hugely funny Outnumbered, a 12-year-old character this week asked his father, played by Hugh Dennis, why “you old people” were so obsessed with sex and drugs.

Fiction? Well, yes.

But it wouldn’t be funny if it were not so very, very true.

No More Remploys

The matter of the closure of Remploy drags on.

Imagine if we had one hundred parliamentary constituencies, with each of us able to vote for one candidate, with the six highest scorers elected at the end, and with each party having at least one sixth of seats in the House guaranteed one sixth of seats on each of the (much more powerful) Select Committees, one sixth of Select Committee Chairmanships, one sixth of Ministerial positions generally, and one sixth of Cabinet positions specifically.

A dozen or more parties would survive and thrive under such a system, so that there would always be plenty of opposition (unlike in the Northern Ireland Assembly, where all parties are in government all the time, so that no one is asking any questions). But permanent powers in the land would be a High Tory party, an Old Labour Left party, an Old Liberal party, a morally and socially libertarian party of neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policy, and an economically social democratic party of morally and socially conservative British and Commonwealth patriotism.

Any one of those could quite probably, and any two of them could certainly, insist on anything it liked as the price of anything else wanted by one or more of the others, regardless of whether or not there was any connection between the two propositions.

There would be no closure of Remploy in that case, just as Farepak would have been sorted out rapidly and satisfactorily, or just as there would have been no British invasion of Iraq, or just as there would be no hunting ban, or just as there would be no Son of Trident, or just as there would be no Lisbon Treaty, or … well, make your own list.

And imagine if there were there were a ballot line system, with small parties and campaigning organisations (including, for example, trade unions) entitled to endorse candidates and to be listed alphabetically on the ballot paper after the candidate’s party of the word “Independent”. The number of votes per ballot line would be counted separately and, although all those for a given candidate would be added together in order to give his or her final and determinative result, published separately.

There would be no closure of Remploy in that case, just as Farepak would have been sorted out rapidly and satisfactorily, or just as there would have been no British invasion of Iraq, or just as there would be no hunting ban, or just as there would be no Son of Trident, or just as there would be no Lisbon Treaty, or … well, make your own list.


Ructions over the Tories’ imposition of a London candidate at Hexham, the only constituency never, ever to have elected anything other than a Tory MP.

Frankly, I doubt that Peter Atkinson is any happier about this sort of thing than is his neighbour across the county boundary, Hilary Armstrong.

She is so unimpressed by the potential successors being lined up by the New Labour machine that she might very well not retire after all.

Will he?

There must be any number of cases of this sort of thing around the country. Has anyone any more?

A Viewer Observes

This letter of mine appears in The Observer:

The BBC license fee should be made optional, with as many adults as wished to pay it at any given address free to do so, including those who did not own a television set but who greatly valued, for example, Radio Four.

The Trustees would then be elected by and from among the license-payers. Candidates would have to be sufficiently independent to qualify in principle for the remuneration panels of their local authorities. Each license-payer would vote for one, with the top two elected.

The electoral areas would be Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and each of the nine English regions. The Chairman would be appointed by the relevant Secretary of State, with the approval of the relevant Select Committee. And the term of office would be four years.

At the same time, we need to ban any person or other interest from owning or controlling more than one national daily newspaper. To ban any person or other interest from owning or controlling more than one national weekly newspaper. To ban any person or other interest from owning or controlling more than one television station. To re-regionalise ITV under a combination of municipal and mutual ownership. And to apply that same model (but with central government replacing local government, subject to very strict parliamentary scrutiny) to Channel Four.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Afghanistan: We Must Pull Out Now

As Peter Hitchens explains:

We must pull our troops out of Afghanistan. It is no good waiting for the Americans to lift us off this hook. They will leave, too, in the end, but they do not know it yet.

It takes quite a nerve for us to claim we are fighting terror and promoting civilisation in Afghanistan, when we have been beaten hollow by the IRA in Ulster, when we cannot prevent deaths like that of ‘Baby P’, and our own poorer zones are lawless wastelands of disorder and violence, guns and knives, long abandoned by authority.

In fact it is this arrogant fantasy that we have some sort of right, as a ‘civilised’ country, to visit our non-existent wisdom and our devalued ‘democracy’ on Afghanistan that infuriates me most of all about this futile adventure. Brave young men, the best of their generation, die or are maimed for life because our politicians do not even have the small courage to admit that they were wrong.

The Government never knew why it was sending them there in the first place. Opium poppies? We grow them legally in Oxfordshire. Freeing women from the burka? It’s still worn. Fighting the Taliban? We could do that for 50 years and still lose, as anyone who knows anything about Afghanistan could have warned from the start.

It’s weeks since Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said that the idea of defeating the Taliban was ‘neither feasible nor supportable’, America’s spooks recently conceded that our operations there were in a downward spiral, and our Ambassador to Kabul, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, has been revealed in a leaked document to believe that our mission is doomed. Yet we just carry on, like Earl Haig on the Somme, spending other people’s lives like so much paper.

Afghanistan’s government is a corrupt, powerless joke, not least because it is founded on the barrels of foreign guns. It does not even control its own capital. The Taliban are quietly re-establishing themselves in a cleverly modified form, avoiding some of their old unpopular policies.

There is no point in waiting for a new American President to save us from our own folly. Barack Obama – like all Left-wing US Presidents – will need to prove how ‘tough’ he is quite early on, and also hopes to win over many of the neo-Cons who backed the ‘war on terror’.

And Mr Obama’s most likely way of showing off will be to step up the futile Afghan conflict, since it is still – absurdly – popular and widely believed to have a defined purpose. Probably he will make more and more raids into Pakistan, a country already stumbling around in wounded circles.

This whole septic area is the direct legacy of ill-informed, short-term meddling by outside powers, from our own invention of the nonsensical ‘Durand Line’ border which divides Pakistan from Afghanistan in the wrong place, to our shameful, ill-prepared panic scuttle from India 60 years ago, to more recent Russian and then Western interventions in Afghan affairs. If this is the outcome of well-meaning intervention, surely neglect can only be better?

We forget everything, and learn nothing. Politicians often pose as being able to save us from economic crises, which in fact they cannot control any more than they can order the weather about. They do have absolute power over the deployment of our troops, yet they never debate it, and political journalists never ask them about it.

The Tory ‘Opposition’, ashamed of its role in selling the country to Brussels, backs the operation in the hope of appearing ‘tough’ and ‘patriotic’. Patriotism in these times demands a little more thought than that.

And this is certain. We have failed at whatever it was we were doing in Afghanistan, if we ever knew what it was.

Who dares send another man to die in a cause that’s already lost? Get out now.

Co-ops, Not Crushings

A shop assistant crushed to death by the greedy mob. Only in America? Don't you believe it.

George Galloway has suggested that the Government buy Woolworths and turn it into 680 new co-ops. Well, as a strong supporter of co-operatives, I think that something like this would be very good for the Co-op (there is always a Tesco or an Asda nearby, for those who cannot afford it; there is bother over the Co-operative Party's continued use of Co-op premises) and the John Lewis Partnership (which, as much as anything else, includes Waitrose).

From The Gulf To The Mediterranean

It should come as no surprise that there have long have been close ties, even if they are only now coming out into the open, between Israel and the Gulf monarchies.

Jews may be forbidden to enter those latter, but their attitude to Palestinians is enough to gladden even the hardest heart of a London or New York armchair Likudnik. Just ask the Palestinian refugees in Kuwait, for a start.

No wonder that APIAC, with all that lies behind it, ran a joint Presidential candidate with the axis of Saudi Arabia (where that candidate would be forbidden to drive), Kuwait (where she could not vote, although her husband could) and the United Arab Emirates.

The wonder, indeed the scandal, is that that candidate is to be made Secretary of State at all, never mind as her reward for coming third out of two.

If I Hear "Nookyular" Again, It Will Be War

India and Pakistan are both "nookyular powers"?

It is like fingernails down a blackboard.

Meanwhile, a long shot, but not to be ruled out completely, is that this is one of India's increasing number of terrorist acts blamed on Muslims but then found to have been carried out by the people who are massacring Christians in Orissa. The same people, in fact, who maintain that Bombay is called "Mumbai".

Which is also like fingernails down a blackboard.

Just Fancy That

George Osborne's brother, a junior doctor training to be a psychiatrist, has been suspended for "irregularities" with regard to drugs...

Islamisation: Nothing To Do With "Race"

The expected cheap comments that I sound like the BNP when I point out that a mosque would not be treated like my local Methodist Church Hall and denied municipal funding if it refused to allow alcohol or gambling. But I stand by that. And Islam has nothing to do with "race", anyway.

There is, of course, an Islamic threat to Europe. But it is the threat that people disgusted with the complete collapse of all moral standards in the personal, social and economic spheres, and left helpless by the closely connected, almost total loss of collective cultural memory, will convert to Islam in droves. The first signs of this are already upon us, closely resembling the early stages of the past Islamisation of various other parts of the world.

We should be worrying about that, the real Islamic threat: we should be restoring our personal, social and economic moral standards by rediscovering our collective cultural memory. Unless, that is, we want rich men to be allowed to have four wives (and to make a point of it, as a status symbol), we want women to go around shrouded and flapping about like giant bats, we want to cut off thieves' hands, and so on.

Look at the mosques full of disaffected young men in Afro-Caribbean areas, and at the flourishing Student Islamic Societies full of white, middle-class, deep-thinking, and often female seekers after something more than our own dominant decadence and hedonism.

And who can blame them? Grinding poverty, chronic ill health with nothing really done about it even though our society could easily afford to do something, collapsing educational standards, war after war after war, further money to be wasted on obscene nuclear weapons, drugs, drunkenness (I'm no teetotaller, but that's not the same thing at all), sexual promiscuity, pornography in newsagents (they're made to have it by the distributors), a nation of gambling addicts, and on, and on, and on. All these things (and many, many more) are obviously connected.

So there will be an Islamic Europe probably by 2100, and certainly by 2150, unless we turn away from our own social and economic irresponsibility, which we can only do by rediscovering the things that we had to give up in order to turn that way in the first place. Otherwise, more and more disaffected youths and deep-thinking young (often female) intellectuals will turn to Islam.

In comparable ways did many another country begin to be Islamised. Who'd have thought that present-day Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and much of Northern India could have beeen Islamised? Who'd have thought that much of black Africa could have been Islamised (very much an ongoing process)? Who'd have thought that Central Asia and much of western China could have been Islamised? Who'd even have thought that much of the Levant could have been Islamised? No one, once upon a time. But how did it happen? And how quickly?

Imagine if only the White British Muslim population (already well over sixty thousand) grew by an improbably small fifty per cent every ten years: by 2100, there would be over a million of them. Now imagine that it grew by a possibly over-large, but nevertheless much more realistic, one hundred per cent every ten years: by 2100, there would be nearly 23 million of them.

The truth is somewhere in the middle, but much closer to the latter figure than to the former given both the rapidly rising rate of conversions, and the birth rate to converts (including the all but legalised practice of polygamy: the benefit system now pays out specifically for polygamous partners). Yet that's just the White British section of British Muslims, a small minority of the total.

And then consider that the "mainstream" birth rate has now been well below replacement level for two generations, with no sign that this trend is ever going to be reversed. Comparable patterns are observable, and indeed well-documented, right across Europe. Who needs to blow up airports? Eurabia, and Amerabia (well on the way), here we come!

We can stop it. But will we?

All Muslims are missionaries, in the way that all Christians are supposed to be missionaries. And the former are proving very effective missionaries in Britain and Europe at present. They expect some White Britons and their equivalents elsewhere to convert, and that is indeed happening with some rapidity.

But mostly, like everyone else, they just expect those population groups to all but die out during the twenty-first century, leaving few people except Muslims in Western Europe, all without anyone's having needed to be either converted or killed. That, too, is well under way.

Criticising or mocking Islam would already be illegal if Hilary Armstrong hadn't mistakenly sent Tony Blair home that night. Ten years ago, would you have believed that? Or that well over sixty thousand Muslims (and rising rapidly) would be classified as White British?

Consider that rate of growth by conversion, as well as Muslims' much higher birth rate than (currently) mainstream Western Europeans', including the widespread semi-clandestine practice of polygamy. How many do you think that there will be in another ten years? Or twenty? Or thirty? Or forty? But such is in keeping with the global history of Islam.

And consider the Danish cartoon row. Did you know that there were Muslims in Denmark? There was never a Danish Empire, so where did they come from? Yet they are there, and they are certainly making their presence felt, as Muslims are throughout North-West Eurabia. Get used to it.

Or do something about it.

Gramsci Died A Catholic

A proper one, not one who had re-written their theology to conform to Gramsci, which is what Liberation Theology is (or, rather, was - it barely exists any more):

The Vatican has revealed that Antonio Gramsci, the founder of Italian Communism and an icon of the Left, reverted to Roman Catholicism on his deathbed.

Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, former head of the Apostolic Penitentiary of the Holy See, which deals with confessions, indulgences and the forgiveness of sins, said Gramsci had "died taking the Sacraments". He had asked the nuns attending him in hospital to let him kiss an image of the infant Jesus, Monsignor De Magistris said.

He said rumours that Gramsci had reverted had never until now been confirmed, and the Italian Left had also remained silent on the issue. "But that is how it was" he told Vatican Radio. "Gramsci returned to the faith of his infancy".

Gramsci, who came from Sardinia, won a scholarship in 1911 to study at the University of Turin, a city dominated by the Fiat factories and where trade unions were emerging. He became a Marxist journalist, supporting workers' councils which sprang up in Turin during the strikes of 1919 and 1920.

He played a leading role in founding the Communist Party of Italy or PCI in 1921, became its leader, and after visiting Moscow sought to form a united front of leftist parties against Fascism. He was arrested by the Fascist police in 1926 and put in prison, where his already poor health deteriorated. He died in Rome at the age of 46, shortly after being released, and is buried in the Protestant Cemetery.

He is regarded as one of the most important Marxist thinkers of the 20th century. His thought is crystallised in The Prison Notebooks, in which, among other things, he argued that Capitalism was based on a combination of force and consensus, and that Marxism could only supercede religion if it met peoples spiritual as well as material needs.

Your Problem Being?

Matthew Castray writes:

Mr Rudd has also been careful to maintain the conservative cultural positions of his predecessor. In a suggestion reminiscent of the Keating years, in October the new Labor Speaker floated the possibility of removing the Lord’s Prayer from the opening of Parliament, and replacing it with a multicultural ‘prayer’ and some sort of daily acknowledgement of Australia’s traditional owners. That same day, the Prime Minister slapped the proposal down, citing ‘long-standing tradition’. Indeed, Mr Rudd has maintained a distance from Mr Keating himself: when the latter recently questioned the level of public reverence surrounding the slaughter of Anzac troops at Gallipoli in the first world war, Mr Rudd said publicly that Mr Keating was ‘absolutely 100 per cent wrong’.

The Ministry of Ethnic Affairs too, quietly shelved by the Howard government, has not made a return.

Your problem being?

In Britain and Australia alike, back when Labour Governments were Labour Governments (when and why did the ALP change the spelling, by the way?), they were notable for their “conservative cultural positions”, and would never have dreamt of abolishing the Christian prayers in Parliament, nor of any need for a “Ministry of Ethnic Affairs”. Never mind belittling the Fallen!

This was inseparably bound up with their very active opposition to poverty, ignorance, ill health, unemployment, squalor, and needless war.

The rise of Communist and Trotskyist infiltration split both parties, and, as Marxism shifted from economics to the culture wars, turned the main body in each country into the sort of party that wanted to abolish the Christian prayers in Parliament, and wanted things like Ministries of Ethnic Affairs, but was actively opposed to any measure addressing poverty, ignorance, ill health, unemployment or squalor, or seeking to prevent needless war.

If Rudd is turning the ALP back into a proper Labour Party, then good for him. We need a proper Labour Party in Britain, too.

Mr Rudd faces a new and formidable Liberal opposition leader, Malcolm Turnbull.

Leading campaigner to abolish the monarchy, the logical constitutional end of neoliberal economics, the moral and social attitudes from which neoliberalism is inseparable (what the market wants, the market must have), and the neoconservative remaking of the world in that image by force of arms.

Another reason to need proper Labour Parties around the Commonwealth and the world: the Keating-Blair school is staunchly anti-monarchist, whereas in its earliest days the British Labour Party peremptorily dismissed an attempt to make it ant-monarchist, rapidly going on to become a stalwart of such things as the House of Lords and the honours system.

Had it not done so, then it could never have done anything about poverty, ignorance, ill health, unemployment, squalor, and needless war.

Apart from the House of Lords, this is all equally true of Australia.

Heath Shuler for United States Senate?

Apparently so:

U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler is not yet sworn into his second term, but some Democrats hope he sets his sights two years from now on a run for the Senate.

That election would pit Democratic nominee Shuler, a star quarterback at Swain County High School and the University of Tennessee, against U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, who played defensive back at Wake Forest.

Shuler said he has not ruled out a run for Senate, but wants to focus now on Congress.

“First and foremost, I am going back to Washington and work on the economy,” Shuler said. “At this point in time we need to focus on the economy.”

Shuler won re-election last week with 62 percent of the vote over Republican Carl Mumpower, an Asheville city council member.

Shuler has established himself as the kind of middle-of-the-road Democrat who can win a statewide election. After he knocked off eight-term incumbent Charles Taylor in 2006, Shuler was approached about running against Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

“It was my first term, and we decided against it,” Shuler said in an interview Wednesday.

Shuler said he has no regrets about the decision despite the fact that Dole was defeated by state Sen. Kay Hagan last week.

“You can always play Monday morning quarterback,” he said.

Shuler acknowledged the talk about a Senate campaign and said he would “weigh options” in the future.

“I need time to breathe right now after the election,” Shuler said.

Facing a challenge

Gibbs Knotts, a political science professor at Western Carolina University, said being talked about for a Senate seat probably doesn’t hurt.

“Any time a politician can be in line for a higher office, it is not a bad thing,” Knotts said. “It keeps their name in the press and is an honor to be considered.”

But a 2010 race against Burr would be a challenge. Shuler could not “ride on the coattails” of the presidential race, and in Burr he would face a rising star in the Republican Party whose name was floated as a vice presidential candidate last summer.

“I think it would be a tough race,” Knotts said. Burr “is popular in North Carolina, and he is popular in Washington.”

If Burr wins re-election, he will be the first incumbent to hold the seat since Sam Ervin, who retired in 1974.

The political parties have swapped the seat every election since then. In 1980, Democrat Robert Morgan lost to Republican James Broyhill, who lost to Democrat Terry Sanford in 1986. Sanford got beat in 1992 by Republican Lauch Faircloth, who lost to Democrat John Edwards in 2004. Burr won the seat over Erskine Bowles in 2004 when Edwards ran for president.

One hundred per cent pro-life.

Bring him on.

Artur Davis for Governor of Alabama?

Annie Johnson writes in the 28th November edition of CQ Today Online News:

“The first barrier is, according to the exit polls, there are more Republicans than Democrats in Alabama. For a Democrat to win, you have to win virtually all the Democrats and then get a huge majority among the independent voters,” said Merle Black, the Asa G. Candler professor of politics and government at Emory University in Atlanta. “It may be tough for any Democrat.”

The Democrats’ performance in this year’s congressional races could provide some ground for optimism within the party’s ranks. Conservative Democrat Bobby Bright, the mayor of the state capital city of Montgomery, won the seat in the 2nd Congressional District — usually a Republican stronghold — left open by retiring eight-term Republican Rep. Terry Everett ; state Sen. Parker Griffith staved off a fierce Republican challenge to hold the 5th District seat of retiring nine-term Rep. Robert E. “Bud” Cramer in Democratic hands; and lawyer Josh Segall, a political newcomer, staged a narrowly unsuccessful bid to unseat Republican incumbent Mike D. Rogers in the 3rd District.

And Davis, who is more conservative than many Democrats on social issues such as abortion and gun owners’ rights, also insists that the next governor of Alabama will be dealing with issues such as education and balancing the state’s budget, issues that transcend politics and race.

While Davis admits a win for governor would be historic, he says that is not why he wants to run.

“If I run a campaign that’s based on race I will lose, more fundamentally I will deserve to lose. If I run a campaign that is as empty as ‘we need to make history,’ I’ll lose and I deserve to lose,” he said. “I will and should run a campaign based on my ideas about where my state can be and where my state can go.”

Social justice, family values, no harvesting of black people in needless wars, strictly limited and strictly legal immigration, America as an English-speaking country: those are the agenda of African-Americans, ninety-five, or possibly even ninety-seven, per cent of whom voted for Obama. He owes them. They know it. They should let him know that they know it.

American Income Gap Worst In Developed World

From Right Democrat:

James Parks reports in the AFL-CIO's NOW Blog:

The global economic crisis will lead to deep cuts in the wages of millions of workers worldwide in the coming year, according to a report published today by the International Labor Organization (ILO). Meanwhile, wage inequality in the United States between the top 10 percent and bottom 10 percent income brackets is the highest of any developed economy.

The report, Global Wage Report 2008/09, warns that wages are likely to fall worldwide and exacerbate an already unacceptable level of inequality. Based on the latest growth figures from the International Monetary Fund, the ILO forecasts the global growth in real wages will at best reach 1.1 per cent in 2009, compared to 1.7 per cent in 2008.

Says ILO Director-General Juan Somavia:

For the world’s 1.5 billion wage earners, difficult times lie ahead. Slow or negative economic growth, combined with highly volatile food and energy prices, will erode the real wages of many workers, particularly the low-wage and poorer households. The middle classes will also be seriously affected.

The wage crisis is not confined to poor or developing countries, the ILO says. Wages in industrialized economies are expected to actually fall, from an increase of 0.8 percent in 2008 to a decline of -0.5 percent in 2009. In the U.S., average wages are expected to decrease by about 1 per cent in 2008 and fall even further in 2009.

In the United States, workers at the top earn 4.75 times more than those at the bottom, compared to a ratio of 2.10 in Norway, 3.0 in France and 3.15 in Germany.

The ILO report shows this bleak outlook follows a decade in which wages failed to advance as much as economic growth. According to the report, while the global economy grew at a 4 percent annual rate between 2001 and 2007, growth in wages lagged behind, increasing by less than 2 percent per year in half of the world’s countries.

The report also points out that growing wage inequality is creating a dangerous situation. Since 1995, inequality between the highest and lowest wages has increased in more than two-thirds of the countries surveyed, often reaching socially unsustainable levels. Among developed countries, Germany, Poland and the United States are among the countries where the gap between top and bottom wages has increased most rapidly. In other regions, inequality also has increased sharply, particularly in Argentina, China and Thailand.

The wage gaps are so wide, Somavia says, that they threaten the future of free societies.

The legitimacy of globalization and of open economies and societies hinges critically on greater fairness in outcomes. Central to this fairness is the ability of working women and men to obtain a fair share of the wealth they create.

To prevent the decline in wages from deepening the global recession and delaying its recovery, the ILO suggests that governments provide stimuli for consumers and increase the purchasing power of workers:

Firstly, social partners should be encouraged to negotiate ways to prevent a further deterioration in the share of wages relative to the share of profits in GDP. Secondly, minimum wages should effectively protect the most vulnerable workers. Thirdly, minimum wages and wage bargaining should be complemented by public intervention through, for instance, income support measures.

The report shows that collective bargaining is an efficient way to counter declining wages and fight wage inequality. However, the ILO notes that in the United States, less than 15 percent of workers are covered by union collective bargaining, compared with more than 70 percent in a number of European countries, including Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands and Spain.

Economic populists flocked to Obama. He united the black, white and (to an extent) Hispanic working class in his support. He owes them. They know it. They should let him know that they know it.

Defend Florida's Pro-Family Adoption Law

From Right Democrat, again:

A Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge has struck down Florida's law banning gay adoption. The state law passed in 1977 by a Democratic-controlled Legislature and signed by one of Florida's most progressive Governors Reubin Askew was enacted to preserve traditional family values within the Sunshine State.

On November 4, Florida voters again showed their support across party lines by voting overwhelmingly to ban place a ban on same sex marriage in the Florida Constitution. In the debate over gay adoption, few consider the best interest of the child. At the very least, traditional families must receive priority in adoption and foster care placement. A 2005 report from Spain makes an excellent case against adoption by same sex couples.

Madrid (Fides Service) - HazteOir Spain in collaboration with the Spanish Forum for the Family and the Institute for Family Policy has just published a “Report on infantile development in same sex couples " on the consequences for children adopted by same sex couples. The report, compiled by first class psychologists and experts, includes a vast bibliography of articles and documents on criteria for judging suitability for adoption of same sex couples. Only days before the Spanish senate will be called to vote on the proposed amendment to the Civil Code to allow same sex couple to ‘marry’ the report was sent to all the senators to provide them with a full picture of scientific opinion on this important matter.

The report demonstrates that none of the studies on the development of children brought up by same sex couples has the minimum scientific rigor necessary to reach conclusions with an acceptable grade of validity. It is curious, the report underlines, that the members of associations in favour of same sex adoptive parents, like the American Psychological Association and the American Association of Paediatrics, are homosexuals, lesbians, authors and editors of homosexual publications. The woman author of one of the most frequently mentioned papers reportedly said on several occasions that the presence of the father is completely superfluous for the correct development of the child, she also said she did not believe in the family as an institution and the openly defended the possibility of enlarging the same sex couple to include more than two members. These opinions are totally different from many other important studies. For example the Spanish Association of Paediatrics said that a “family nucleus with two fathers or two mothers is clearly dangerous for the child”.

From the few serious studies on the matter it emerges that the development of children educated by a couple of the same sex is very different from that of children in a natural type of family with a father and a mother, and can be very dangerous under various aspects. These children are also more prone to physical and mental problems than those in a normal family. Psychological disturbances range for lack of self-esteem, stress, confusion with regard to sexual identity, behaviour, greater tendency to drug dependence, school failure, bad behaviour at school; greater tendency to homosexuality; weaker health and more risk of mental disorder, suicide, and possibility of contracting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Another important fact is that same sex couples were seen to be less stable. For example in Sweden the number of separations of same sex couples is 37% higher than that of heterosexual couples. In Holland same sex union last for an average 18 months. Instability does not guarantee the good of the minor.

On the basis of these facts Ignacio Arsuaga Hazte Oir President said: “In no way can a couple of persons of the same sex be judged suitable for adopting a child. Considering the findings of this vast bibliography we are obliged to protect the minor and say that same sex couples must not be allowed to adopt children". (RG) (Agenzia Fides 25/5/2005, righe 40, parole 563)

The people who affirmed traditional marriage to be the law in Florida are the people who at exactly the same time gave Obama that key state's Electoral College votes. He owes them. They know it. They should let him know that they know it.

Friday, 28 November 2008

The Ashford One

Let some good come of the Police’s contempt of Parliament, although of course the arresting officers and those who authorised them will have to be imprisoned for a time.

Let the Official Secrets Acts be repealed.

And let the Police concentrate on arresting those sitting or former MPs who are war criminals.

The Stakeholder Union

There should now be no question of ever selling the Government stake in RBS (or in HBOS). There never should have been. Those stakes are now integral parts of the Union as such, being safeguards at least as real as any, and of a great deal more practical importance than many.

McCain Might As Well Have Won

Yes, Jim Jones will be a better National Security Advisor than Randy Scheunemann would have been, not that that is saying very much.

But if Hillary Clinton can be Secretary of State, then Robert Kagan might as well have been.

And Obama really should have campaigned openly on a pledge to keep Robert Gates in his job. Then there might now be President-Elect Edwards.

How The Other One Per Cent Lives

The Spectator has excelled itself, with a cover cartoon of Cameron and Osborne in their Bullingdon Club uniforms, beating up Gordon Brown.

Consider what would happen if a group of boys on a council estate, the same age as Oxford undergraduates, formed themselves into an organisation - complete with a name, a uniform, officers and a membership list - specifically for the purpose of becoming drunk and disorderly before committing criminal damage and even assault.

They would rightly be sent to prison.

Whereas the Bullingdon Boys go on to become, simultaneously, an aspirant Prime Minister, an aspirant Chancellor of the Exchequer, and an actual Mayor of London.

Living in rural England, as I have done most of my life and which is a very different matter from merely owning great swathes of it while living in Knightsbridge or Notting Hill, I suspect that the publicans of Oxfordshire are not without connections in the local constabulary and magistracy.

One of those publicans should simply tell the Bullingdon Club to stick the money that they offered them at the end of one of their "events", because he would be seeing them in court. How would it look for Cameron and Osborne if the Bully Boys were to be locked up for just long enough to have themselves sent down?

Until that day, however, we will continue to be treated to spectacles such as that broadcast last night.

Under his, her or its emerging bouffant, Squeaky Osborne, the campest man in Britain outside professional football (and an old boy of a school with close links to a London Anglo-Catholic shrine noted even in such circles for being full of men in tweed skirts but no biological women whatever), had much to say on Question Time about the arrest of Damian Green.

But that wasn’t the question asked by a member of the audience. Bullingdon Dave Dimbleby managed to protect Osborne entirely from answering that question, which was about prostitution. How very, very odd…

Might this the beginning of an occasional series, The Questions That George Osborne Is Protected From Having To Answer? And another, The Protective Hand of Bullingdon Dave Dimbleby?

Bombay Mix

If it really is all about Kashmir, then those demanding an ethnically pure yet also fiercely Islamic secession from a multiethnic democracy should simply declare UDI. After all, that was what Kosovo did.

How come there was not a word when the Mumbai Jumbais killed any number of Muslims in Gujarat, or even now as they are killing any number of Christians in Orissa? On the contrary, the BJP is being treated as an honoured participant in the current hand-wringing.

But then, we now have to treat as such Sinn Fein, the UDP (the UDA gone Marxist in prison, after the prison tutors’ own Marxism had become cultural rather than economic), the PUP (the UVF gone Marxist in prison, after the prison tutors’ own Marxism had become cultural rather than economic), Respect (Trots and Islamists gathered around an Old Labour Catholic who must wonder what on earth he has got himself into), and doubtless also the BNP once it has the Strasbourg seats that it will be picking up in June. Incidentally, no such high threshold was imposed before the UDP and the PUP were admitted to polite society; Sinn Fein and Respect, I admit, have representation at Westminster.

How long before a Hindutva party is picking up council seats here (the Tories are openly recruiting Labour members and supporters of Indian extraction of that basis, and the Lib Dems are probably also doing so), and presuming to rename Leicester as it has already renamed Bombay, Calcutta and Madras?

Or, indeed, a Khalistan party? Seeing Manmohan Singh on television reminded me of the missed opportunity that was the recent refusal, at the insistence of the Equality Commission, to create a proposed Sikh Regiment of the British Army, a scheme which had the very strong support of the Sikh community. That community has been very pointedly rebuffed. That rebuff will not be forgotten.

And if the Bombay attacks turn out not to have been motivated by Islam after all (although by then we will already have bombed to smithereens Pakistan, and probably also Iran as if she could have anything more to do with a Salafi or Deobandi group than Ba’athist Iraq could have had to do with a Wahhabi group), then they will turn out to have been motivated by some or other form of Marxism, probably Maoism, and in that case specifically the Naxalites.

Well, we were all supposed to have been delighted when a long-running Maoist insurrection finally overthrew the King of Nepal. So are we then going to invade Nepal? And what of the President of the European Commission, who has never said that his own Maoist insurrection in Portugal was wrong at the time?


Poor Irwin Stelzer cannot seem to see that promoting both French interests in Britain and French interests in France is what Nicolas Sarkozy is paid and housed for. Yes, Gordon Brown certainly could take a leaf out of Sarkozy’s book. Barack Obama might yet do so, although I would no longer bet on that.

Stelzer promotes (although he is hardly alone in this) a totally false idea of his own country, which is in fact the land of big municipal government, of strong unions whose every red cent in political donations buys something specific, of very high levels of co-operative membership, of housing co-operatives even for the upper middle classes, of small farmers who own their own land, and of the pioneering of Keynesianism in practice.

In fact the land that long led the world in protecting high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs both against the exportation of that labour to un-unionised, child-exploiting sweatshops, and against the importation of those sweatshops themselves. And in fact the land that could until very recently say that she led the world in that she “[did] not seek for monsters to destroy”.

Obama, although he has always given grave cause for concern, appeared to be at least more sympathetic to that tradition, which is the Real America, than were either Hillary Clinton or John McCain. But doubts now grow by the day. So perhaps, with the rest of the Henry Jackson Society (and the Euston Manifesto Group), Stelzer is not going to have to move to Israel after 20th January after all.

A pity, because if they don’t, then who will save the secular Ashkenazi elite there from a country inhabited only by Arabs, Sephardim and ultra-Orthodox Jews? There will presumably now be a crackdown on Russians. Or will there? Are even Nazis acceptable, just so long as they are neither Arabs, nor Sephardim, nor ultra-Orthodox Jews?

And if the Henry Jackson Society and the Euston Manifesto Group are not going to move to Israel, then whom are we going to send, to where, and why, in order to make room for Palestinian Christians who, having lived for decades between the pseudo-West and the Dar al-Islam, would serve as such an excellent social, cultural and political leaven against both of them here in the United Kingdom?

Hillary Bombing All The Way To Both Banks

Taki has a specific example of the close relationship between the ghastliest Arab regimes and the most generous supporters of Zionism (although, as Hugo Rifkind, who would know, points out, Nat Rothschild is not Jewish, it is just that his name sounds as if it might be).

In fact, there has been a very close relationship between the ghastliest Arab regimes and Israel herself for donkey’s years. And lest we forget, the next American Secretary of State was both Israel’s candidate for President, and the candidate of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. They indicated their support in the customary green-backed form.

Whereas Iran was literally to be nuked by Madam President on the instruction of any of those four. Presumably as punishment for having elections, for having a reserved seat for Jews (and three for Christians, being two for Armenians and one for an Assyrian) in her Parliament, for having more women than men at university, and for having the most acclaimed contemporary cinema in the world.

Radical Orthodoxy Required

Father Michael Pfleger has more than a touch of Tim Westwood about him. And his flock is entitled to orthodox Catholic catechesis, including, as Latin Catholics, the Roman Rite recognisable as such.

But we orthodox Catholics need to look at Saint Sabina’s, Chicago. Where are our employment resource centres? Where are our social service units? Where are our homes for the elderly? Where are protests against our own equivalents of Jerry Springer (Jeremy Kyle) and Howard Stern (Jonathan Ross)? Where are our battles against drugs? And where are our purchases of prostitutes’ time in order to send them to counselling and job-training schemes? For that matter, where are our counselling and job-training schemes?

If we fail to provide these things, then we leave the way open, at best for Catholic priests who fail to ensure orthodox Catholic catechesis (including, for Latin Catholics, the Roman Rite recognisable as such), but more probably for persons even worse than that.

"Restrict" This

The Methodist Church Hall here in the delightful country town of Lanchester is much used by the local community, but is in urgent need of repair.

The (soon to be abolished) District Council’s officers are adamant that no help can be made available due to the “restrictive” covenant that prohibits both alcohol and gambling either on the premises or in fundraising.

I therefore propose that Croft View Hall rename itself “Croft View Mosque”, and appeal to the Council for the money, ostensibly for a dome and four minarets, on the understanding that there can be neither alcohol nor gambling either on the premises or in fundraising.

Vive La Reine

The goings on over the leadership of the French Socialist Party illustrate a profound truth about the French Republic, namely that nobody, deep down, really wants it. France’s history would have been so much less bloody if she had evolved, as Britain did, into a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. It is barely fifty years since de Gaulle seriously considered restoring the monarchy on the British model.

But instead, the French obsess over the British and Monegasque Royal Families while prostrating themselves to a succession of absolute monarchs: de Gaulle, Pompidou, Giscard d’Estaing (with his inherited title, and his insistence that he and his wife be served a course ahead of everyone else because they are so much posher), Mitterand (related to our own dear Queen), Chirac, and now Sarkozy.

Queen Martine or Queen Ségolène? Thank God for Queen Elizabeth.

Scotland's Other Diaspora? And England's?

There is apparently an emerging, very white, mostly male, at least broadly working-class subculture of Scotophilia (as so often the way with philias, not terribly realistic, but there we are) in parts of Northern Europe. Nothing more than the British taste for Italian coffee houses in the Fifties, or for Chinese food today? Perhaps.

But there really must be Scots-descended people in parts of Northern Europe. Scotland was a member of the Hanseatic League, and, while everyone eventually came to accept that there as going to have to be a Union with somewhere, England was by no means the only suitor considered. Union with France floundered on the question of religion. Union with the Netherlands, however, very nearly happened. Links were as strong as that.

One would no more have expected anything less than a fully functioning community of Scots in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, or indeed any Hanseatic port such as Hamburg, than one would expect anything less than a fully functioning Irish community in Glasgow, or Liverpool, or London.

And then there is the matter, only now coming to be systematically explored, of the Jacobite Diaspora. We need to be clear that by no means all of that Diaspora was in any sense Scots. Most Scots were not Jacobites, and far more Englishmen were than has been recognised until very recently. If the Old and Young Pretenders could have raised their armies in England, then they would certainly have done so. Cardinal York called himself “Henry IX of Great Britain and Ireland” and that, so far as he was concerned, was just that.

But there is no doubt that there was proportionately more Jacobitism in Scotland than in England (Bonnie Prince Charlie himself once said that he would “do for the Welsh Jacobites what they did for me, I will drink to their health”). Far more Jacobites went into exile from these islands than, say, Huguenots sought refuge here. They made a very significant economic contribution to France and Spain. They founded the Russian Navy of Peter the Great. They dominated the Swedish East India and Madagascar Companies. And they did very much more besides.

Thursday, 27 November 2008


I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

So says every child, every morning, in every school in the United States. It seems quaint to us Britons, of course. But then, so does today’s annual celebration of the Puritans, of all people, as heroes of freedom of conscience.

Yet by all means give thanks for America, for the things to which every child there pledges allegiance every day.

First off, “the Flag of the United States, and the Republic for which it stands”. It is precisely that, a republic. It is not an empire. It is of laws, not of men. The man who is President is not the office. And even the office is not the law.

Nor is the American Republic a majoritarian tyranny. The Senate or the Electoral College may throw up anomalies, even occasional apparent outrages. But they are hugely successful preventative measures against far worse and more frequent outrages.

That Republic is “one nation”. It is equally one and a nation. It is not a colony of global capital or world government. A melting pot it may be, but it is not some sort of giant landing strip where everyone is entitled to be, since in that case no one would really belong there.

But what of “under God”? It means that the Republic acknowledges a higher moral law in all things, primarily the sanctity of each individual human life, whether of the unborn or of the very old, whether of Appalachian military heroes or of Iraqi women and children.

And it means that the Republic honours the traditions by, in, through and as which it has received that acknowledgement, drawing on them directly and explicitly in the organisation of its affairs. The phrase “the separation of Church and State” does not occur in the Constitution. If it did, then there would still be slavery in America.

That the Republic is “indivisible” means that it is invisible by poverty, racism, refusal to speak English, or anything else.

“Liberty” includes liberty from hunger, from ignorance, from preventable or treatable illness, from homelessness or squalor, from idleness, from illegal or otherwise unfair competition, from torture, from the “Patriot” Act, from avoidable wars, and from the whipping up of hostility to America abroad.

“Justice” includes a job, a decent home and standard of living, education, healthcare, strictly legal and strictly limited immigration, due process of law, national security, and peace.

And “for all” means not only for Wall Street. Not only for those who can afford health insurance, or college fees, or the best lawyers. Not only for those who can afford to avoid tax.

Not only for those who meet ethnic or gender quotas, or who can find their way around in Spanish as well as in English. And not only for those who can, and want to, keep their families away from military service.

NEETional Service

David Blunkett is on the right lines, but he seems to be proposing some sort of Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Is he, one wonders, positioning himself to take over what was once the Duke of Edinburgh’s place in the national life when the Consort dies? I wouldn’t be at all surprised - Blunkett was always going to end up as a National Treasure of one sort or another.

Anyway, we need universal and compulsory – non-military, but uniformed, ranked and barracked – National Service between secondary education and tertiary education or training.

As much as anything else, this would send people to university that little bit worldly-wiser, which would not only be good for academic and behavioural standards, but would also drain such swamps as Marxism, anarcho-capitalism, and the marriage of the two in neoconservatism. No one who had been around a bit would ever fall for such things for one moment.

Of course, that is also a very good reason for broadening the social and socio-economic base from which students (and, indeed, academics) are drawn, instead of “widening participation” by abolishing everything in which one might wish to participate, and then only letting in the offspring of the upper middle classes anyway, on the smug assumption of having done one’s bit.

There was no threat to gowns, or Latin graces, or black and even white tie functions, or what have you, in the days when even Oxford and Cambridge were massively dominated by products of the state sector, and most private schools were barely academic at all.

On the contrary, these were exactly the reasons why people had gone there.

From the grammar schools.

Which brings us back to David Blunkett.

My Eyes Are Smiling, Too

Over the last three years, there has been a four-fold increase in the number of people joining the British Armed Forces from the Irish Republic. The only reason why there aren't even more is revulsion at the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Incidentally, if the war in Afghanistan is because of an attack on New York, then why aren't the Irish Republic's own Armed Forces fighting it? This has nothing to do with neutrality: any number of Irish citizens must have died on 9/11.)

The Irish Republic is growing up, and duly adopting a more mature attitude both to her neighbour and to her own history, an attitude which should include accession to the Commonwealth without delay.

After all, it was the Pope who gave the Kings of England the Lordship of Ireland in the first place, and a Papal Blessing was sent to William III when he set out for Ireland. The Lateran Palace was illuminated for a fortnight when news of the Battle of the Boyne reached Rome.

Into the nineteenth century, Catholics joined in the annual celebrations of the Relief of Derry; into the late eighteenth, Catholic priests even took part in the prayer service at the Walls of Derry.

The professors and seminarians of Maynooth published a declaration of loyalty to the King during the 1798 Rebellion, and those extremely few priests who had adhered to that Rebellion were excommunicated, the bishops calling them "the very faeces of the Church".

Prominent Belfast Catholic laymen chaired rallies against successive Home Rule Bills, with prominent Catholic priests on the platforms. There were numerous Catholic pulpit denunciations of Fenianism, which is unlike any of the three principal British political traditions in being a product of the French Revolution. Hence its tricolour flag. And hence its strong anti-clerical streak, always identifying Catholicism as one of Ireland's two biggest problems.

Jean Bodin's theory of princely absolutism, held by the Stuarts and by their anti-Papal Bourbon cousins, was incompatible with the building up of the Social Reign of Christ, subsequently the inspiration for all three great British political movements. Likewise, ethnically exclusive nation-states deriving uncritically from the French Revolution do not provide adequate means to that end.

By contrast, the absence of any significant Marxist influence in this country has been due to the universal and comprehensive Welfare State, and the strong statutory (and other, including trade union) protection of workers and consumers, the former paid for by progressive taxation, and all underwritten by full employment: very largely the fruits of Catholic Social Teaching, especially via Diaspora Irish participation in the Labour Movement here as in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

And such fruits have been of disproportionate benefit to ethnically Gaelic-Irish Catholics throughout the United Kingdom; even in the 1940s, Sinn Féin worried that they were eroding its support.

All very well worth fighting for (if only it were in fact what the British Armed Forces were currently fighting for, of course).

As more and more people in the Irish Republic clearly agree.


Yes, we should take the opportunity of a change in American President to change our policy on Afghanistan.

Specifically, 20th January 2009 should be set as the date on which we simply pull out. Both from there, and from Iraq.

As for opium, we now grow our own - at public expense, of course - across the South, where once was oil seed rape. For the NHS, allegedly...

Mumbai Jumbai

The reason why I don't write, say, "Peking" is, among other things, because at least "Beijing" is what the Chinese themselves call it.

By contrast, the rendition of Bombay as "Mumbai" is mercifully repudiated both by that city's High Court and by its Stock Exchange. For the forces behind that and other such innovations are seriously nasty.

"Al-BBC", say the neocons.

Not a bit of it, if this is anything to go by.

Rather (and following on from "Myanmar", making the BBC the Trumpet of the Burmese Junta), we have the BBC, Voice of the BJP and the RSS.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Pardon Me, Mr President?

Conrad Black?

Scooter Libby?


And why?

Osborne Should Pledge To Scrap Trident

Says Edward Pearce, rightly.

Numerous Tories with relevant experience – Anthony Head, Peter Thorneycroft, Nigel Birch, Aubrey Jones – were sceptical about, or downright hostile towards, British nuclear weapons in the Fifties and Sixties.

In March 1964, while First Lord of the Admiralty and thus responsible for Polaris, George Jellicoe suggested that Britain might pool her nuclear deterrent with the rest of NATO.

Enoch Powell denounced the whole thing as not just anything but independent in practice, but also immoral in principle.

Robert Gates Kept On

Is this some sort of joke? It's not a very funny one.

First a Secretary of State who as a Senator voted in favour of the Iraq War, whose foreign policy views were rejected in the person of John McCain, and who as a candidate had promised a nuclear strike against Iran (where there are more women than men at university) if so instructed by her campaign contributors in the feminist paradises of Saudi Arabia (where women may not drive, and whence came the 9/11 attacks), Kuwait (the last country on earth to deny the vote to women simply as such) and the United Arab Emirates.

And now this.

Reaching across the aisle could and should have meant bringing in Chuck Hagel, Mike Huckabee (thus guaranteeing that the gloriously beatable Sarah Palin would be the GOP nominee in 2012), Ron Paul, and even Mitt Romney on health.

Alongside Dennis Kucinich. Alongside John Edwards, since if the Clintons can come back, then there is obviously no morality clause. Alongside Jim Webb, who should have been one of Secretary of State, Defense Secretary and National Security Advisor - why the hell isn't he, doesn't Obama know that he owes Virginia? And alongside Ben Nelson and Bob Casey, not least because, like the culturally conservative Webb, morally and socially conservative Democrats like Nelson and Casey always backed Obama against Clinton. Among others.

But no.

Like Britain, America now has a permanent government, irremovable by mere elections.

So she gets a Secretary of State politically indistinguishable from Condoleezza Rice, who is no sort of social conservative; Bush was pretty much the only one round his Cabinet table, and even he is not much of one.

And now this.

Is this some sort of joke? It's not a very funny one.


Twice at PMQs, Gordon Brown described Andrew "Recession Is A Good Thing - It Keeps The Lower Orders In Check" Lansley (a pity, beacuse Lansley voted against the Iraq War) as "the only person guaranteed a place" in Cameron's Cabinet.

Well, only if you don't count two other people, Gordon. Both of them are in your Government. And one of them is in your Cabinet.

Their Lordships Keep Off The Grass

Good for the House of Lords, rejecting an amendment to delay the reclassification of cannabis back to Class B.

But cannabis must be made a Class A drug, accompanied by a crackdown on the possession of drugs, including a mandatory sentence of three months for a second offence, six months for a third offence, one year for a fourth offence, and so on.

And how much longer must we endure the "free" market, which cannot be at all without being in drugs, prostitution, pornography, the lot? That is the real problem.

Unwelcome Home

Scotland's self-debasing year-long riot of fake tartan and knobbly sticks is being pitched to her diaspora in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but, controversially, not the West Indies, which are full of people with Scots names.

And yes, those names are indicative of Scots descent. Like African-Americans, Afro-Caribbeans are very visibly lighter-skinned than people from the West Africa whence their slave ancestors were transported. Both in America and in the West Indies, very light-skinned slaves were given good jobs in the big house, rather than being made to work the fields. Think about it.

Yes, it is wrong to ignore those Diaspora Scots in the Caribbean (and the duskier Diaspora Scot-Irish, of whom more anon, in the United States). But there is a rather more glaring omission. There are five million people born in Scotland and living in England (i.e., as many as the total population of Scotland), and a million people born in England and living in Scotland (i.e., one fifth of the total population of Scotland is English-born).

Who in Scotland has neither relatives nor in-laws in England? The Christmas cards are wending their way across the Border as I write. I can tell you that for a fact.

Yet this "homecoming" has been, and is being, sold not at all in England, where at least half the Scots Diaspora must live. Actually, although the thought of some March of the Clans down Edinburgh's Royal Mile is absurd, I find that neglect rather hurtful.

And is anything been done in Northern Ireland, one wonders? Certainly, there is much reaching out to the Scots-Irish in America. But what of the Scots-Irish in Scots-Ireland? Nor let it be forgotten that the Scots were no great fans of the American Revolution. They much preferred the land to the north that remained loyal.

The Scots-Irish were revolutionaries pretty much to a man (they were no solid Unionists in Ireland at the same time). But those whose families, and indeed persons, had gone directly to America from Scotland were frequently Loyalists.

An early draft of the Declaration of Independence included among its charges against George III "sending against us Scotch and other foreign mercenaries". And in vain did the rebellious Legislature of North Carolina publish a manifesto in Gaelic, which nevertheless continued to be spoken there for more than a century after the Revolution.

So the Scots-Irish from America will have plenty to discuss at their "homecoming".

To which they, at least, have been invited.

No BBC Local After All

In all the fuss over the decision to let Jonathan Ross off the hook, I suspect that most people will have missed the rather better decision that, very untrue to form, the BBC is going to allow an alternative source of news (local newspapers, read by something like eighty per cent of people at least once per week) to remain in existence. How very generous of you, Auntie...

Wanted: An Opposition

Says Geoffrey Wheatcroft, a proper conservative who is therefore as deeply unimpressed as he is staunchly anti-war.

Let Them Eat Cake, And More Of It For Their Money

"Most people will suffer not at all in this recession: on the contrary they will do well as prices fall and the real value of their earnings rises."

So writes Polly Toynbee.

She has been mocked for it, but only by her entirely appropriate targets, "the Tories and their press", who think (or like to pretend that they think) that everyone is on at least one hundred thousand pounds per year.

And who are horrified that life's essentials, and even a few little luxeries, might become affordable to the rest of us.

I'll Be Glad When Odoacer Gets Here

Yesterday, a Select Committee of the House of Commons was addressed by Peter Stringfellow, and Newsnight interviewed a spokeswoman for "the English Collective of Prostitutes".

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

No Change

Clinton's people could hardly have done better if she'd actually won.

Where is that 2012 primary challenger to give a proper voice and choice to the economically populist, morally and socially conservative foreign policy realists who put Obama in, and who can just as easily put him right back out again? That person needs to be there from Day One.

If This Really Were A Socialist Government

Neil Clark writes:

If we really did have a Socialist government in Britain here's some of the things they'd be doing:

* Renationalising public transport, the energy companies, utilities and Britain's infrastructure.

* Reintroducing a staunchly progressive income tax system.

* Abolishing VAT on fuel altogether.

* Abolishing prescription charges in England.

* Reintroducing free dental care on the NHS.

* Pulling Britain out of the EU, NATO, and the World Trade Organisation.

* Pulling British troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan (funny isn't it, that despite the billions of pounds of public money this would save, the opposition Conservatives, who are calling for government cuts, never even mention this particular economy?)

* Introducing free personal care for the elderly.

* Re-establishing the link between pensions and average earnings, not in 2012 as the government has promised, but now.

* Establishing the very important principle that not a penny of taxpayers money should be given to a private company without the taxpayer acquiring equity in that company.

* Making all 'short-selling' illegal- not just of bank shares.

* Closing the loopholes which mean that billionaires whose money is largely made in Britain, pay little, or no tax whatsoever.

When we do get a government doing all or most of those things, then I think we can accurately call it 'socialist'.

Harriet Harman Talking Sense!

Yes, the WI should complain to and about any newspaper accepting advertisements for sexual "services".

So should we all.

But what, oh Cabinet Minister, are you going to do about it?

Meeting Medvedev Half Way

Obama owes his position to foreign policy realists, and to those who care for and about Christendom rather than the necons' pseudo-West, so he should take heed of this, by Pat Buchanan:

The morning after Barack Obama’s election, the congratulatory message from Moscow was in the chilliest tradition of the Cold War.

“I hope for constructive dialogue with you,” said Russia’s president, “based on trust and considering each other’s interests.”

Dmitry Medvedev went on that day, in his first State of the Union, to charge America with fomenting the Russia-Georgia war and said he has been “forced” to put Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad to counter the U.S. missile shield President Bush pledged to Poland.

Medvedev had painted Obama into a corner. No new American president can be seen as backing down from a Russian challenge.

Three days later, Polish President Lech Kaczynski tried to box Barack in. His office declared that, during a phone conversation with Kaczynski, Obama had promised to deploy the anti-missile missiles.

Obama foreign policy adviser Denis McDonough denied it.

One week later, however, Medvedev wisely walked the cat back.

During the G-20 summit in Washington, he told the Council on Foreign Relations the issue of Russian missiles in Kaliningrad “is not closed. I am personally ready to discuss it, and I hope that the new president and the new administration will have the will to discuss it.”

President-elect Obama should not let this opportunity slip by, for a second signal came last week that Russia does not want the Cold War II that the departing neocons wish to leave on his plate.

Moscow offered Spain and Germany use of Russian territory to supply NATO troops in Afghanistan. As our supply line from the Pakistani port of Karachi through the Khyber Pass to Kabul grows perilous, this has to be seen as a gesture of friendship by a Russia that shares, as a fellow victim of Islamic terror, the U.S. detestation of al-Qaida.

Opportunity also presents itself with the official report of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on the August war. According to The New York Times, the OSCE found, consistent with Moscow’s claims, that Georgia “attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.”

Russia’s response--running the Georgian Army out of South Ossetia, occupying Abkhazia and recognizing both as independent nations--may seem disproportionate and excessive. But, contrary to John ("We are all Georgians now!") McCain, Moscow has a compelling case that Georgia’s Mikhail Saakashvili started the fire.

Medvedev is now on a four-nation Latin tour with stops in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela and Fidel Castro’s Cuba. But this seems more like diplomatic tit-for-tat for high-profile U.S. visits to Tbilisi and other ex-Soviet republics than laying the groundwork for some anti-American alliance.

For, just as for Washington the relationship with Moscow is far more crucial than any tie to Tbilisi, so Moscow’s tie to Washington is surely far more crucial to Russia than any tie to Caracas or Havana.

With these opening moves, how might Obama test the water for a better relationship with the Russia of Medvedev and Vladimir Putin?

First, Obama should restate his campaign position that no anti-missile system will be deployed in Poland until fully tested.

Second, he should declare that, as this system is designed to defend against an Iranian ICBM with a nuclear warhead, it will not be deployed until Iran has tested an ICBM and an atomic device.

So long as the Iranian threat remains potential, not actual, there is no need to deploy a U.S. missile defense in Poland against it.

Third, he should invite Medvedev to Camp David to discuss what more they might do together to ensure that no such Iranian threat, to either nation, ever materializes. For if Iran does not test an ICBM or atomic device, what is the need for a missile defense in East Europe?

Fourth, invoking the principle of self-determination, Obama might propose a plebiscite in Georgia and Abkhazia to determine if these people wish to return to Tbilisi’s rule.

The second bone of contention between us is prospective NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine.

As NATO is a military alliance, at the heart of which is Article V, which obligates every ally to come to the defense of a member who is attacked, to bring Georgia in would be madness.

To cede to Saakashvili power to bring us into confrontation with Russia would be to rival British stupidity in giving Polish colonels power to drag the empire into war with Germany over Danzig, which is exactly what the Polish colonels proceeded to do in 1939.

Before the NATO summit next week, Obama should signal to NATO, and the Bush administration, that nothing irreversible should be done to put Ukraine or Georgia on a path to membership.

First, because the president-elect will decide himself about new war guarantees in Eastern Europe or the Caucasus. Second, because these are matters to be taken up at a Medvedev-Obama summit, not foreclosed for him by neocons now trooping home to their think tanks.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Avoiding The Issue

You could put up the top rate to ninety-nine pence in the pound, for all the difference that it would make. They wouldn’t pay it then, because they don’t pay it now. Yes, there are people who pay top rate tax. But they are not on £150,000.

Close the loopholes, raise the threshold and, if possible, cut the rate. Not just for the top band, but for income tax as a whole.

They’d move abroad? Well, since they are not paying anything anyway, so what? And in any case, no, they wouldn’t. Precisely two cities on earth offer the lifestyle that they want, and one of them is in a country with a much less indulgent attitude towards tax-dodgers (see another of today’s posts for more on what that great country is really like). Of those who are not British, many would not be let into that country, and have been refused entry to it in the past. And those who are British have no more desire than most other people to live in a foreign country, just because it would be living in a foreign country.

Close the loopholes, raise the threshold and, if possible, cut the rate. Not just for the top band, but for income tax as a whole.

People Without A Land

The conviction of a neo-Nazi gang of Israeli youths should surprise no one. Israel long ago gave up on being a Jewish State, and became instead an obsessively non-Arab, including non-Sephardic, one. On that basis, she will let in pretty much anyone. And then there are the ultra-Orthodox…

When the secular Ashkenazi elite granted a right of return to the Sephardim, they no more expected anyone to use it than the Attlee Government expected the entire Commonwealth and empire to turn up in London giving been granted the right to do after the War. And that elite really did believe that Palestine was “the land without a people for the people without a land”; like the American pioneers who somehow could not see the Red Indians, they somehow could not see the Arabs.

Under the Law of Return, as it insists on calling itself, Israel is being stuffed with Russians who will not eat kosher food and who insist on taking their IDF oaths on the New Testament alone, with East Africans who have devised a religion based on the Old Testament brought by Christian missionaries but who make no claim to Jewish descent, even with Peruvian Indians. Zionist websites claim that, among others, the Pashtun (yes, the very Taliban) are a lost tribe of Israel. Well, they are certainly not Arabs. So they’ll do. Won’t they?

And now some of the Russian have turned out to be Nazis. Who knew?

Still, help is at hand. See here, and especially here. The Soviet Union is no more. Apartheid South Africa and Pinochet’s Chile are no more. Even Bushland will very soon be no more. There may be no land without a people. But these are certainly people without a land. And every one of them is either a secular Ashkenazi Jew or simply not Jewish at all, but simply not Arab at all, either.

For every one of them that Israel takes, we should take a family of Palestinian Christians, to be dispersed around our country as a Levantine leaven, keeping the rest of us constantly aware of the reality, both of the Dar al-Islam, and of the pseudo-West, having lived between the two for decades and for generations.

Common Diversity: The Image of the Triune God

More children with Down’s Syndrome are living to birth.

Praise God, Who has made us all mutants together, one way or another. An extra chromosome? Is that all?

At last, we are coming to recognise that fact.

The Real America

The nationalisation of Citibank in all but name is nothing new in America, a country profoundly unlike that which its louder admirers, at home and abroad, like to proclaim. America is the land of big city government, of strong unions, and of very widespread co-operative membership, not least in housing. It was the first country ever to give effect to Keynesianism.

An entire episode of Frasier was once devoted to the eponymous hero’s efforts to take control of his condominium. Try and imagine anything set in Britain in which a psychiatrist and well-known broadcaster lives in a housing co-operative and devotes a week of his life’s spare time to its politics.

The decidedly Distributist tradition of small farmers who own their own land has long been under sustained threat. But it lives on.

And nationalisation is nothing remotely new there, either.

Our Own Sinn Fein

“It wouldn’t matter if the BNP had nine Strasbourg seats, or twelve, or fifteen, or twenty-one. UKIP and the Greens are not the BNP. The BNP is in a category all of its own. It will never be allowed on Question Time or Any Questions.”


Sinn Fein is allowed on Question Time and Any Questions.

Immigration And The Left: The Dutch Example

Neil Clark writes:

Anyone who argues that, as a political force, socialism is dead, ought to visit the Netherlands. The Socialist Party of the Netherlands (SP) is the fastest growing political group in the country.

They won 25 seats in the last general election - an increase of 16 seats - and made huge gains in last year's local elections. They are now the third largest party in Holland in terms of members and could well replace the Dutch Labour Party as the main alternative to the Christian Democrats.

Why are they so successful? I would suggest that it is because they are a socialist party that actually has socialist policies. They oppose the privatisation of public services, advocate higher taxes on the very wealthy and have condemned the "the culture of greed" caused by "a capitalism based on inflated bonuses and easy money". They oppose war and Nato and the nascent European superstate. They were the only left-wing Dutch party in Parliament to oppose the new EU Constitution in the 2005 referendum.

Of course the fact that they have one of the most charismatic - and photogenic - of all of European political leaders in the 41-year-old epidemiologist Agnes Kant (pictured above) does them no harm.

Part of its popularity with the voters lies in one particular policy which differentiates it from British or other European parties of the left: they oppose large scale immigration. The SP see the 'free movement of labour' as part of the neoliberal globalist package - something which benefits big business but not ordinary people. Their opposition to immigration is not based on racism - as tends to be the case with the BNP and other far-right parties in Europe - but on their socialist ideology.

A recent publication by the SP asserted that labour migration in the EU was making "more acute the contrasts between rich and poor and competition between different groups of workers within the EU". Instead of lauding the free movement of labour as other parties on the left do, the SP calls for policies "to make migration unnecessary" and for the EU funds to be used to enable poorer regions of the continent to be self-supporting.

The SP's opposition to large-scale immigration is not a recent development. In the 1980s, the party's booklet Gastarbeid en Kapitaal (Migrant Labour and Capital), denounced the migration of foreign workers into the Netherlands as a capitalist ploy to drive down wages and destroy working class solidarity.

This is a far cry from the traditional position of the British left - which despite overwhelming evidence that large-scale immigration does reduce wages - still clings to an the ideology of open borders. In doing so, they are not only complying with the wishes of big business, who for obvious reasons welcome the influx of large numbers of people from low-wage economies onto their labour market; they are also espousing a policy which is unpopular with large swathes of the electorate and which is likely to become even more unpopular as unemployment grows.

The success of the Socialist Party of the Netherlands shows that there are lots of votes to be won by an unequivocally left-wing party which has the courage and sense to oppose large-scale immigration on non-racist, anti-capitalist grounds.

Phillip Blond On Deflation


But falling prices of basic essentials and little luxuries are still fundamentally a good thing.

Chambliss Is A Shambles

From Right Democrat:

Tragedy struck a Georgia factory in February when combustible dust caught fire and exploded at the Imperial Sugar plant in Port Wentworth, killing 14 workers and injuring many more.

Now, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), an opponent of working families who’s in a tough runoff to defend his Senate seat, is facing questions about whether he improperly aided Imperial in its efforts to avoid the consequences of its negligence.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) hit the company with $5 million in fines for “willful and egregious safety violations” over the blast. And a Senate subcommittee held a hearing in July, finding that Imperial had no plan to deal with the dangerous combustible dust and ignored warnings about plant safety.

During that hearing, Chambliss—who has received $21 thousand in campaign contributions this election cycle from the sugar industry—berated a corporate whistle-blower who exposed the dangerous conditions at the plant.

Mark Tate, an attorney representing families of two workers killed in the blast as well as two injured workers, has subpoenaed Chambliss to testify about his involvement in trying to protect Imperial Sugar from consequences of the explosion. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Chambliss is accused of interfering with the case both inside and outside of Congress.

Tate says he wants to know if Imperial Sugar executives persuaded Chambliss to sharply criticize a company whistle-blower during a July Senate hearing on the explosion. He says he also wants the senator to respond to plaintiffs’ claims that the company arranged a meeting between Chambliss and victims’ families to dissuade them from suing.

Chambliss is refusing to answer the subpoena and testify about his actions, but Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) says his claims of immunity don’t stand up to scrutiny.

Neither does the anti-worker record of Chambliss. He has opposed workers’ interests on issues like the minimum wage and overtime protection. Chambliss needs to put workers first and come clean about his relationship with Imperial Sugar.

Chambliss’ opponent in the Senate race, Jim Martin, has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO.

For more information on the shameless record of Saxby Chambliss, check out this website.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Trustafarians Against Tax Cuts

I have never met an Old Etonian I didn’t like. (Admittedly, I have never knowingly met a member of the Bullingdon Club.) I shared a student house with one, who is now one of my friends on the thing Facebook of which the young people speak. I am even rooting for Ed on Last Man Standing.

But there are OEs and OEs, just as there are no doubt old Saint Paul’s boys and old Saint Paul’s boys.

Tomorrow, David Cameron and George Osborne will denounce a rise in the income tax threshold, or a reduction in VAT, or something like that. The Shadow Cabinet is known to be riven between the independently wealthy (Cameron, Osborne, that crowd) and those jumped-up oiks who have to “work” for their six, seven and eight figures per annum in the City (now a theme park maintained at public expense, but of that another time).

When the Bullingdon Boys ask about taxpayers’ money, then Brown and Darling should have no compunction is shouting back, “What’s it to you? You have colleagues who take out in bailouts so that they don’t ever become so poor that they might have to pay in. But you, Dave and Gideon, have no relationship whatever to the taxation system. So mind your own business.”

And if VAT is lowered, then the rest of us should be shouting about how it cannot be lowered any further, because the EU won’t allow it to be. There will certainly be no such shouting from the party that, as required by its own Maastricht Treaty, imposed VAT on fuel and on domestic power, and which went into the 1997 Election determined that Chancellor Ken Clarke (who would also have taken us into the Euro – thank Gordon Brown for keeping us out) would impose that Eurotax on food, too.

Hazel And The Nutters?

Hazel Blears is of course quite right. Jean-Marie Le Pen once got himself as far as the second round of a Presidential Election by playing on the undeniable abandonment of the French white working class to poverty, dereliction, crime, drugs and disorder.

Maps published on the Internet in the last week show a concentration of BNP members here in County Durham, with fully one per cent visible ethnic minorities and with no asylum seekers at all, and particularly in the east of the county, where Easington was the only district in the United Kingdom to be one hundred per cent White British at the last census. Have you ever been to County Durham in general and to East Durham in particular? No, it is not multicoloured. What much of it is, is poor. Grindingly, hopelessly poor. After eleven years of “Labour” government.

There are not twelve thousand eugenicists or Holocaust-deniers in Britain today. Of course there aren’t. So now that this membership list is available, perhaps someone in academia will undertake a proper piece of research, surveying all those listed, in absolute confidence, about their political views. Just what is it that only the BNP is addressing?

We may mercifully conclude that no major party is going to adopt a policy in favour of capital punishment. It is also just as well that none is going to adopt a policy in favour of an English Parliament.

But the three great political traditions in this country have at least potential answers to the questions of loss of sovereignty (to all three of the EU, the US, and global capital), of the consequences of that loss (from the Common Fisheries Policy to the Iraq War), of the importation of a new and compliant working class that largely cannot speak English, of the abandonment of Police foot patrols, of light sentencing, of the legalisation of drugs in all but name, of the erosion of the traditional family and its values, of the way in which the traditional white working class has come to be completely ignored, of institutional deference to Islam, of the admission of a fully armed and highly active terrorist organisation to government in Northern Ireland, of devolution without majority support in Scotland and with only twenty-six per cent support in Wales, of the oppression of Wales’s English-speaking majority, and of so much else besides.

Those concerns are shared far beyond those who do, or who would ever, support the BNP. Not least, they are very widely, deeply and strongly shared within the ethnic minority communities.

Of course, if any of our existing parties were anything to do with any of the three great political traditions in this country, then (like the underlying situations giving rise to the calls for hanging or for English devolution) these problems would never, and could never, have arisen in the first place.

Hear, Oh Israel

It comes as no surprise to me that the British-Israelite Fellowship that meets on Durham’s North Road has links to the BNP. There have been more than rumours about that for years, which is why I have never indulged my idle curiosity and taken myself along to the Shakespeare Hall on a Saturday afternoon.

But the British-Israelite position is not in itself any more preposterous than the belief that the Ashkenazim, the Sephardim, the Ethiopian Jews and the rest are all one ethnic group, some members of which have presumably just been out in the sun longer than others.

Nor is it any more preposterous than the assumption that, simply because they speak Arabic and most of them are Muslims, the present non-Jewish inhabitants of the Levant are purely and simply the descendants of Arab, Muslim conquerors.

In fact, there is of course at least as much Israelite blood in the average Levantine Arab, and indeed probably a great deal more, than in the average Jew. Jews, like Palestinians and like “Anglo-Saxons”, are a thoroughly mongrel lot.

Not that it really matters. Identifying with Israel, like identifying with Greece or Rome, is about behaviour, not blood. Specifically, it is about adherence to the only true continuation of any of those three, namely the recapitulation of all of them in Jesus Christ and His Church.