Thursday, 30 April 2009

Beating The Retreat

I was very moved to hear the list of our war dead from Iraq read out in Basra.

But if you did that at the Cenotaph, then you would be arrested. People have been.

So why did they bother? What was it all for?

Eighty Years On?

The first Lib Dem Commons victory since the Twenties? What, so every Home Office or Treasury Bill failed when Roy Jenkins was Home Secretary or Chancellor of the Exchequer? Every Education Bill failed when Shirley Williams was Education Secretary?

Somewhat ironically considering that John Cleese used to do Party Political Broadcasts for the SDP, there is now something of a "don't mention the War" attitude to that party. Could it be because, when so many of today's media grandees were Communists or Trotskyists and entirely open about it, the SDP was trying, however imperfectly, to provide a home for those whom they had driven out of Labour?

And the SDP was very imperfect. Apparently unable to see that the unions were where the need for a broad-based, sane opposition to Thatcherism was greatest, it was hysterically hostile to them, and instead made itself dependent on a single donor, later made a Minister by Blair without the rate for the job. It had betrayed Gaitskellism over Europe, betrayed Christian Socialism (and, lest we forget, Gaitskellism) over nuclear weapons, adopted the decadent social libertinism of Roy Jenkins, and adopted the comprehensive schools mania of Shirley Williams.

But even so.

The Engels Language

Tristram Hunt is certainly making the effort to publicise his new biography of Engels, a figure of almost impossible importance.

Engels rightly regarded the family, property and the State as having a common origin. After all, why bother having the State, if not to defend the family and property? Why bother having property, if not to defend the family and the State? And why bother having the family, if not to defend property and the State?

Those ostensible conservatives (and Conservatives) who now advocate the withering away of the State undoubtedly know that it is a Marxist term for a Marxist aspiration. But do they know that it would also be the withering away of the family and of property? They ought to be able to work this out. But nevertheless it is time that someone told them, and that in no uncertain terms.

Meanwhile, those who have taken control of the Labour Party not only know and understand this perfectly well, but have merely changed their tactics from the economic to the social, cultural and constitutional, in order to bring about the destruction of all three of the family, property and the State, all three of which that party was in fact founded to conserve against the "free" market.

Engels is best-known and most revered in China. The Trotskyist roots of many now in positions of power or influence are at last becoming reasonably well-known. But the Maoist roots of many such, beginning with the President of the European Commission, also cry out most urgently for investigation.

Roll of Honour

These are the Labour MPs who voted for the Gurkhas:

Dianne Abbott
Ian Cawsey
Harry Cohen
Jeremy Corbyn
Paul Farrelly
Mark Fisher
Neil Gerrard
Kate Hoey
Kelvin Hopkins
Joan Humble
Glenda Jackson
John McDonnell
Shona McIsaac
Andrew Macinlay
Gordon Marsden
Bob Marshall Andrews
Julie Morgan
Nick Palmer
Stephen Pound
Nick Rainsford
Andy Reed
Linda Riordan
Alan Simpson
Andrew Smith
Paul Truswell
Keith Vaz
Mike Wood

Plus Robert Wareing.

Much talk today of Baroness Lumley if Cameron gets in. But why wait for that? After all, is she a Tory? Very few showbusiness people are. And in this cause, her main alliance has been with the Lib Dems. I suspect that she's an Old Liberal who would sit as a Cross Bencher. Bring her in, say I.

"No Republican Support"?

For the stimulus package, according to Gavin Esler on Newsnight.

Well, Arlen Specter is now a Democrat. Does Esler know (and he very well might) that Maine's Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snow are about to follow suit?

Meanwhile, I offer you these wise words to Esler from the lips of the Reverend Jesse Jackson:

"While there's stimulus on the frontside, there's haemorrhaging on the backside."

Ay-men to that...


"The Freedom of Choice Act is not my highest legislative priority," President Obama said.

And we all know what a politician means when he says that.

"The most important thing we can do is to tamp down some of the anger surrounding the issue to focus on those areas we can agree on."

The Pregnant Women Support Act.

He knows who put him in: the people who reaffirmed traditional marriage in California and Florida, who abolished legal discrimination against working-class white men in Colorado, who declined to liberalise gambling in Missouri or Ohio, and who keep the black and Catholic churches (especially) going from coast to coast.

And he knows that they can put him right back out again.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Take Them In, Indeed

Anyone who still doubts the sheer pointlessness of the Tories need look no further than the fact that they have allowed the Lib Dems to make the running on the Gurkha issue.

The Tories caused the problem in the first place, but they do seem to be on side now.

So the Gurkhas should be settled in the ten safest Tory wards in the country, and the consequences observed in a reality television series narrated by Joanna Lumley.

The Tartan Thatcherites

Calling them "Tories" would be an insult to proper Tories, of whom there are quite a lot in Scotland.

The entirely soi-dissant Scottish "Government" wants to banish volunteers from the hospitals there, and instead have visitors' tea and sandwiches provided commercially. By just the sorts of companies that give money to the SNP.

Where the fantasy comes from the SNP is a left-wing, or at least a centrist, party, I honestly cannot imagine.

LDV In Receivership

Oh, well, at least it is now owned by Oleg Deripaska rather than by the British public.

After all, we wouldn't want to go back to that sort of thing.

Would we?

Our Friends In Tripoli?

So that poor man can now serve his sentence in Libya? He shouldn’t be serving it at all. He didn’t do it. Everyone knows that.

We needed Syria on side in the first Gulf War, so we blamed Libya instead. Libya later needed us (or, at least, the Americans) on side, so Gaddafi played ball and handed over this innocent man, just as he later did and pretended to have dismantled a WMD programme which had never existed in the first place.

Alliance with Libya, run by the Gaddafis and where at least a third of the population subscribes to the Sanusi synthesis of Wahhabism and popular Sufism, is either irrelevant or positively pernicious, depending on how you look at it.

Whereas alliance with Syria – run by an erstwhile London doctor and with a huge, very well-integrated Christian population – is an urgent priority.

However, there can be no alliance with Syria while this great wrong remains unrighted.

Though not for that reason alone, that righting cannot possibly come too soon.

Vive La Reine!

Peter Hitchens writes:

I have spent the past two weeks in the United States, not working but travelling on my own account, revisiting some favourite places and coming up for air. It remains an exhilarating and beautiful place, wrongly sneered at by too many British people who simply haven't experienced enough of it to know how good it can be, and how much worse off we would be if it weren't there. But it is also a foreign country, not some kind of special friend - but a foreign country to which we have unique access because we speak a similar language. Only fluent French or German speakers could ever know as much about those countries as any British visitor can swiftly learn about the USA - if he wants to.

Rather than re-immerse myself in the small-scale squalor of British politics, which seems even less appealing or interesting than it was when I set out, I thought I would muse a little on what an English person experiences in the great republic, and what it means (or might mean) for us.

It is now many years since I lived in Bethesda, Maryland, an idyllic suburban settlement just North-West of Washington DC. I still remember with a faint smile English acquaintances and colleagues gulping in dismay when I said I was going to live 'in Washington' (the distinction between DC and Maryland was a mystery to them, so I didn't trouble them with it). Several - having read sketchy reports about Washington being the USA's murder capital, as it then indeed was - thought I would swiftly be murdered, mugged or just gunned down by some firearm-crazy person. Others imagined a howling wasteland of vast distances, given this idea by the fact that my house number had four digits instead of the two or three more usually found in Britain.

As it happens, my road (many miles from the national capital's drug-infested crime zones) was shorter than most English suburban equivalents, overhung with huge trees and wonderfully intimate and neighbourly. The American system of house numbering is a sort of postcode, and only the final two digits tell you anything about the length of the street. Children ran in and out of everyone's houses. Parents patrolled the street in the evening to slow down or stop the (rare) cars that drove through. We hung a Union Flag on the pole which was fitted as standard over our front door (my landlord had said I could fly anything there except the Confederate Stars and Bars, which I didn't want to display anyway), to the often-expressed pleasure of everyone else on the road. One of my neighbours took my education in hand and insisted I went with him to a football game (Baseball was on strike most of the time I was there, or he'd have taken me to that too). Doors and cars were left unlocked, Democrats and Republicans mixed happily, I never saw or heard a gun there or within miles. Our local ambulance service (which was well-equipped and excellent) was run by volunteers, financed by contributions from thousands of us, and by a spectacular annual lobster feast - and free of charge to those who needed it. A dozen preconceptions died within minutes.

The only sad truth was that Montgomery County, the lush district where we lived, was almost entirely white, whereas Prince George's County, a few miles to the East and more or less as peaceful and prosperous, was almost wholly black, reflecting a more or less voluntary racial division that nobody likes to talk about but which persists despite fifty years of civil rights.

There are dozens of other things that don't quite fit the English prejudice. Where I lived, and in many other US cities, public transport was if anything better than in Britain, especially the clean, safe, spacious and well-designed Washington Metro. Manners were almost always better than they were here. There is intelligent broadcasting, not on the BBC but on doggedly liberal radio stations financed by subscription and contributions (we helped raise money for our local station, despite its politics, because of the way it upheld standards of language and debate, which is roughly what I do for the BBC, though a bit more voluntary). There was also free medical provision for the truly poor, while private medicine as then and is now in a crisis not wholly unlike that which grips the NHS, with the insurance companies pressing hospitals and doctors to keep costs down.

Other paradoxes in this supposedly 'right-wing' country were the pervasive political correctness in broadcasting journalism and education, the gigantic welfare state created mainly by Lyndon Johnson, and the laborious efforts to make Spanish an official language, far more costly than it would have been to insist that everyone spoke English.

But what I found most fascinating was the feeling that, despite all this, you really were much more on your own, for better or worse. Oddly enough this would come home to me when I took trips across the Canadian border, the only frontier in the world which exists to separate two different ideas about how to be free. I was both reassured and somehow constrained by the sight of St Edward's Crown on Canadian police badges (and also by the evocative little signs by Ontario main roads, with the same crown and the legend 'The King's Highway', a haunting phrase which is now of course being removed on the pretext that it might upset bilingual fanatics, though why they can't just have every other sign saying 'Le Chemin du Roi', or 'Chemin Royal' I do not know. Plenty of French Canadians seem to me to be closet royalists, far from keen on the 1789 revolution).

Up there, I thought, I was a little safer from the consequences of my own (or other people's folly) and a little less free to fail or succeed on my own. The idea that authority proceeds from the Crown, and the Crown's authority ultimately flows from a benevolent God, still persists in Canada. I suspect this is at the root of the idea that the state has duties towards its citizens, which produces things unknown in the USA, such as a comprehensive national health system and a state broadcasting network. Which do I like more? The more I think about it, the more I can't make up my mind.

In the USA, authority is supposed to be vested in the free people, and if you want to have a relationship with God then you must have it directly. This also has something to do with the issue of guns. Though I believe Canadian gun law is much less restrictive than Britain's, it isn't as relaxed as the USA's. I've written at length about gun laws in my 2003 book A Brief History of Crime. I argued that it's clearly demonstrable that restricting the ownership of guns by law-abiding people doesn't actually make anyone any safer, and in some cases may actually put them at risk of becoming victims. If that is so, then the desire of the state to restrict gun ownership (which disarms everyone except criminals) needs another explanation. This was of course misrepresented by my opponents, and will be again now. But the survival of personal gun ownership in the USA seems to me to be a sign that it is a more grown-up society, both permitting and requiring more responsibility from individuals than we do. The only gun owner I knew personally when I lived in Washington was a (female) prosecutor who was allowed to carry a gun in her handbag in Virginia, a remarkably peaceful state, but had to leave it behind when she went into the risky parts of Washington DC (which certainly do exist), where guns are denied to the law-abiding but owned by thousands of drug gangsters (who exist, by the way, not because drugs are illegal but because people stupidly take and buy illegal drugs). Her husband, a magazine editor, kept a squirrel gun by his desk as he worked in his suburban home, surrounded by dense woodland. This could be disconcerting for visitors as he would sometimes seize the firearm in mid-conversation, and blast at a nearby rodent through the open window. He never seemed to hit anything at all.

Here's another example of how America treats its people as being more responsible for their actions and lives than we do, and what that can mean in practice. On a visit to Alabama to write about the reintroduction of chain gangs I asked one shackled convict, clearing weeds from beside a motorway, what he was in prison for. The answer - writing cheques without the cash to back them. Now, if that got you put on a chain gang in Britain, we wouldn't have enough chains to go round.

The USA still more or less believes in punishment for people who commit crimes, and those who break the law can find themselves flung into a grim world of the lost, quite terrifying and implacable. I shudder for any innocent person who drops through that trap door, though it seems to me that Britain's penal system is fast becoming as savage, but without being punitive towards the criminals themselves. If the USA ever abandons its Bill of Rights and becomes the authoritarian state which Dick Cheney and his accomplice George W. Bush seemed intent on creating, then it could rapidly become a very frightening place. I'm never sure how deeply rooted the old English principles of presumed innocence and Habeas Corpus actually are in the USA, and there are incidents - Lincoln's suspension of Habeas Corpus, Woodrow Wilson's imprisonment of objectors to World War One, the 1920s Palmer raids, Roosevelt's internment of Japanese Americans - which suggest that lawful liberty is quite fragile there in difficult times (not that we have much to boast about these days).

There's another thing I always love about being in the USA - that unmistakable symptom of a society of genuinely free men, the continuing use of miles, yards, feet and inches, ounces, pounds and pints, not to mention quarts and gallons. And the temperatures still in flexible Fahrenheit, where the difference between being dead and alive (or between a warm spring day and a cold one) is a lot more than two degrees.

Arriving back in the vast liberal prison reception area that is Heathrow, with its officious 'UK Border' (which it isn't, as it is controlled by the EU) and its metres and litres, makes the heart sink. And yet I remember long ago how I used to experience a comforting feeling of homecoming when I stepped off the Channel steamer at Newhaven or Folkestone, and was embraced by the quiet, green, unconquered smallness and individuality of England.

One could comment much on this, but I only want to add that the French Canadians are not "closet" monarchists. They are ardent monarchists. Their Fleur de Lys is the quintessential French monarchist symbol, reviled by republicans to this day. And in any case, they were ceded to Britain in 1763, so the Revolution of 1789 is no part of their heritage.

"Her Majesty remains at the head of the State, the living symbol of the roots and continuity of the values we hold in common and those that are our permanent ideals ... She is the one entrusted with the conscience of the nation."

That appeared in the Autumn 2002 edition of
Canadian Monarchist News. Its author was an historian and former Cultural Advisor at Rideau Hall. His name was Fr Jacques Monet SJ.

So far from the Revolution and its Terror is Quebec that in May 2008, the Assembly there voted unanimously to keep the Crucifix that hangs above the Speaker's Chair. And below the Royal Coat of Arms.

The GOP's Specter of Oblivion

Right Democrat has this, from New England Cable News:

Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey says "the state has changed substantially over the past couple of years."

"It's a change in the right direction in the sense that we now have more people that are going to be supportive of the kind of change that President Obama has not only promised, but begun to deliver on," said Casey.

Longtime Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter says he's switching parties. The Republican National Committee chairman says the decision is motivated by "personal political interests," because Specter would likely lose in the next GOP primary. He's up for re-election in 2010.

President Barack Obama says the Democratic Party is "thrilled" to have Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter.

"We're happy about this news for the Democratic Senate and for the American people and for the president's agenda. I'm not going to get into 2010 discussions. I think it's premature today," said Casey.

"It appears now we have 60 votes for a lot of important issues," said Casey.

Specter is a bit liberal socially, but the totally pro-life Bob Casey is pleased, so he must be all right really.

To those who say “good riddance”, was Teddy Roosevelt “a real Republican”? See here for how, in his autobiography, he wrote:

“I hold that a corporation does ill if it seeks profit in restricting production and then by extorting high prices from the community by reason of the scarcity of the product; through adulterating, lyingly advertising, or over-driving the help; or replacing men workers with children; or by rebates; or in any illegal or improper manner driving competitors out of its way; or seeking to achieve monopoly by illegal or unethical treatment of its competitors, or in any shape or way offending against the moral law either in connection with the public or with its employees or with its rivals. Any corporation which seeks its profit in such fashion is acting badly. It is, in fact, a conspiracy against the public welfare which the Government should use all its powers to suppress.

“If, on the other hand, a corporation seeks profit solely by increasing its products through eliminating waste, improving its processes, utilizing its by-products, installing better machines, raising wages in the effort to secure more efficient help, introducing the principle of cooperation and mutual benefit, dealing fairly with labor unions, setting its face against the underpayment of women and the employment of children; in a word, treating the public fairly and its rivals fairly: then such a corporation is behaving well. It is an instrumentality of civilization operating to promote abundance by cheapening the cost of living so as to improve conditions everywhere throughout the whole community.”

I have been hoping for years to read a proper study of the two Presidents Roosevelt in terms of their similarities, preferably leading to a synthesis of their thought as applicable in the present age. If anyone knows of such a work, then do please let me know -

The rural and Western half of the Republican Party supported the New Deal. Congressional Republicans (not all, but some) cast the votes that passed Civil Rights in the face of Dixiecrat resistance. Their party historically and rightly viewed the wider world in strictly realistic terms, “not seeking for monsters to destroy”. Republicans called for Europe to revert to pre-1914 borders and thus end the First World War, an outcome (also advocated by Pope Benedict XV) which would have precluded both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Theirs was the party of Eisenhower, with his even-handed approach to Israel and the Palestinians, and with his denunciation of the military-industrial complex. The party of Nixon, who ended the Vietnam War as President Obama will end the Iraq War, and who began détente with China as President Obama is beginning détente with Iran, Cuba and beyond. And the party of opposition to Clinton’s unpatriotic job-exportation, unpatriotic sweatshop-importation, and unpatriotic global trigger-happiness, all continued and expanded by the unpatriotic Bush Administration (except for when it came to protecting Pennsylvanian steel, the ingrates...).

But where is it now?

Much like the Tories, in fact.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

It Is Better To Die Than To Live A Coward

So translates the motto of the Brigade of Gurkhas. But of what, exactly, is the Government afraid? And why, exactly?

Joanna Lumley emails:

Thank you so much for your support of the Gurkha Justice campaign. We are overwhelmed by the support the campaign is receiving.

As you may know, on Friday, the Government badly let down the Gurkhas. The new rules they have announced will exclude the huge majority of ex-Gurkhas who retired before 1997 from claiming citizenship in this country. They've given five bullet points that virtually cannot be met by the ordinary Gurkha soldier.

It is so obvious that the treatment of the Gurkhas has been a great injustice. To treat them like this is despicable.

The strong reaction by the public and press should show the Government that they simply cannot get away with this outrage.

I'm ashamed of our administration. We will be challenging this decision in the courts and in Parliament. We will not stop now.

This is not a party political campaign: it's simply one for justice. I am so grateful though for immediate support from MPs from all Parties, including amongst others Conservative leader David Cameron and Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg.

Nick Clegg has agreed to put a vote to Parliament this Wednesday calling for a fair deal for Gurkhas. This vote on its own won't change the Government's ruling, but would be an overwhelming signal to the Government that they need to think again.

We need all MPs that support the Gurkha justice cause to turn up and vote for a proper deal for Gurkhas on Wednesday. Can I ask that you take a couple of minutes right now to ask your MP to do so?

You can send a message to your MP directly at - please ask them to support the Gurkha Justice motion on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, there will also be a Gurkha Justice rally and protest against the Government's decision, starting at noon in Old Palace Yard, Westminster. Many MPs have already committed to support the vote and join me and others at the rally. I know it's awfully short notice, but if you can, please do come along as well to add your support.

If you can pass on this message to others as well that would be fabulous - and if they sign up to we can keep in touch with them directly in future.

Lastly, again, thank you so much for your support. It means so much to us. I spoke today to Lt Madan Kumar Gurung, who has been at the forefront of the campaign since it began. He said to me that he has no fear for the Gurkhas any more, as he knows the loving hearts of the British people will not let them down. With your support we won't.

With warmest good wishes,


Arlen Specter Joins Democrats

A bit liberal socially, but he'll do.

Bye, Bye, Byers

I don't think much of the easily avoidable fifty pence tax rate, even if you'd think from sections of the press that half the population was about to be driven from these shores.

But it does have one thing going for it.

It has been denounced by the most incompetent Cabinet Minister ever (and that is saying quite something), a man who has never said that his part in the Trotskyist destruction of the Labour Movement was wrong in any way at all.

Iceland Votes To Join The EU?


The results of the general elections in Iceland are not a success for those who want the country to become a member of the European Union. At least not the success they were hoping for. The only party that has the policy of joining the EU and put emphasis on that in the election campaign, the Social Democratic Alliance (Samfylkingin), got 30 percent of the votes (20 MPs) which is similar to what the party has got in previous elections. In 1999 it got 27 percent, in 2003 31 percent and in 2007 again 27 percent. In other words the results are at best a defending victory for the party.

The Social Democratic Alliance can form a government with majority in the parliament with both the Left Green Movement (Vinstrihreyfingin - grænt framboð) (34 MPs) or the Progressive Party (Framsóknarflokkurinn) together with the Civil Movement (Borgarahreyfingin) (33 MPs) apart from the possibility to form a renewed government with the Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) (36 MPs) which will probabaly not happen due to the current unpopularity of that party. But both the other forms of government are, however, very likely to mean tough and difficult talks for the social democrats.

The party increasing its votes the most is the Left Green Movement as was expected. It got 21.5 percent and 14 MPs compared with 14 percent in 2007. The party rejects EU membership. The conservative Independence Party, which also is opposed to EU membership but has been mainly blamed for last year's collapse of most of the Icelandic banking sector, got 24 percent and 16 MPs. The two parties that thus reject joining the EU the most got together 45.5 percent and 30 of the the total 63 seats in the parliament compared with the Social Democratic Alliance's 20.

The remaining 13 seats are spread between two parties, the Progressive Party and the Civil Movement. The former got 9 seats and the latter 4. Neither of them is in favour of EU membership but the Progressive Party favours membership negotiations according to its platform if certain very strict conditions will be met, one of them being that Iceland will hold full authority over Icelandic fishing grounds. Something the EU will understandably never be able to accept. As a result the party is generally not seen as being in favour of EU membership.

The Civil Movement, however, has no policy in favour of joining the EU. It has a policy that all agreements with other countries that involve transfer of sovereignty shall be put to a referendum and also that Iceland should seek to negotiate monetary cooperation with other countries or, if necessary, adopt a foreign currency unilaterally. One of the party's major policies is also that of not signing any agreement concerning the so-called Icesave issue before a research by independent experts has been carried out on what the duties of the Icelandic government are regarding that.

The Civil Movement emerged from the protests in Reykjavík last winter and its platform has many radical policies that the Social Democratic Alliance could find very hard to agree on. The biggest demand of the people protesting was increased direct democracy (referendums) and that the people should be more involved in the decision making process in the country. Naturally joining the EU would not be a step in that direction but rather further away.

What kind of a government will take power in Iceland after the elections is expected to become clear in the next few days and also how that government will approach the EU issue. The most likely coalition is between the Social Democratic Alliance and the Left Green Movement.

The Banality of Evil

The Big Lie in Britain was that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But hardly anyone here has ever believed that, anyway.

Whereas rather a lot of people in America did and do believe The Big Lie there, that Saddam Hussein had links to "al-Qaeda", and was indeed behind the attacks of 11th September 2001.

That was Bush's only case for war, just as Blair's only case for war was that Iraqi WMD could be deployed against British targets with 45 minutes. Neither Bush nor Blair employed any other argument whatever.

Yet this now passes with almost no comment: not only was Bush's case untrue, but it was obtained by torturing a man specifically into saying it, in order to justify a war already decided upon.

Reshuffle Rumour: Reid's Return?

A very good after-dinner speaker, in my experience.

But previously noted for bragging about directing the Police to arrest people in the middle of the night.

Reid was a Communist Party activist deep into his adult life, well before the fall of the Soviet Union, and he has never expressed the slightest remorse. At Stirling University, when the Communist Party ran the Students' Union (with its large cash turnover), Reid was its enforcer. As he later was for Neil Kinnock, and then for Tony Blair, whom he clearly wished to succeed as Prime Minister.

Furthermore, Reid claims that New Labour reflects what he sees as the "fact" that Britons are now (among other things) "better off", "better educated" and "less deferential" than in the past. What planet is he living on?

First, only a generation ago, a single manual wage provided the wage-earner, his wife and their several children with a quality of life unimaginable even on two professional salaries today. This impoverishment has been so rapid and so extreme that most people, including almost all politicians and commentators, simply refuse to acknowledge that it has happened. But it has indeed happened. And it is still going on.

Secondly, well, where to begin? Britons at large, including graduates and even PhDs (such as Reid), are simply not the best-educated that they have ever been, or even especially well-educated at all. All the paper qualifications in the world cannot disguise this fact, which is only too horribly obvious to anyone who so much as walks down a street in Britain today, never mind to anyone who goes in search of intelligent and informed conversation here.

And thirdly, the extraordinary deference shown to the opinions of ageing rock starts and such like indicates that the generation now running things is actually much more deferential than was or is that of its own parents or grandparents, and is quite possibly the most deferential ever, but merely chooses to defer to different (and, frankly, less deserving) people.

Be afraid.

Be very, very afraid.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Tories Demand Lisbon Treaty Referendum

The issue on everyone's mind, of course.

They aren't saying that they'd campaign for a No vote. They have never said that.

This whole referendum business is a distraction. They pointedly failed to put down a Second Reading amendment which did not mention a referendum, but simply rejected the Treaty itself because of what was in it.

In office, they would have signed it without protest and ratified it without a referendum. They are the party of the Treaty of Rome, the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty. And they always will be.

Is Ahmadinejad Jewish?

It seems so.

Even Wagner never changed his name. But then, what would have been the point? He couldn't have changed his face.

And no doubt there were plenty of Spanish anti-Semites with "ez" surnames.

Ah, but therein seems to be the point: Ahmadinejad has had to change his name, even though he is not anti-Semitic, whereas Wagner and many a Spaniard were.

There have been Jews in Persia since before there were Jews in Spain, and long before there were Jews in Germany.

It is all very complicated...

Question Time

Same day as the expenses vote. But from Great Yarmouth. So no MPs expected.

Frank Skinner will be on. Who else should be, and why?

Equality Audit

That rules out Georgia Gould and the entire Shadow Cabinet, for a start.

Or have I missed something?

Unite, Indeed

Why either Unite or the CWU still funds the Labour Party, I have absolutely no idea.

Harriet Harman stood on the picket line with the House of Commons cleaners last time. Will she this time? If not, why not?

Silver Linings, Indeed

There was always something about identity cards that was somehow just never going to happen in this country. And now we can't afford them, anyway. So that's that.

Nor can we afford that giant database. So we are not going to have it. Jolly good.

But nor can we afford Trident.

And nor can we afford the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

COPE And The Cape

That any single party could ever have had the two-thirds majority necessary to amend the South African Constitution means that it was, to that extent, set up wrongly in the first place. But now no party does, which is a very healthy sign.

COPE is as much a product of the liberation struggle as the ANC, and rather truer to it. And the Democratic Alliance is the successor of the Black Sash movement, of the Progressive Federal Party, and all that. History will judge that that tradition did at least as much in practice to bring down apartheid, and did not prolong the agony by allying with the Soviet Union and so antagonising the West, especially the United States.

An entire province is now run by a party other than the ANC (the DA). With a Coloured majority (that is a capital C, and there is nothing "so-called" or "painful" or what have you about it), with almost as many whites as blacks, and looking out across the harbour at Cape Town to the world beyond, South Africa's great hope is that she contains the Western Cape. Jacob Zuma will never be The Big Man, a Greater Mugabe or a Greater Amin, there.

The Catholic Church In America Is Coming Home

To the Democratic Party, which is coming home to Her, as Right Democrat sets out:

Metro Catholic reports today that a leading Catholic Bishop has endorsed a Democratic-sponsored abortion reduction bill known as the Pregnant Women Support Act. The legislation is sponsored by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congressman Lincoln Davis (D-TN). This excellent piece of legislation deserves the support of all Americans, pro-choice or pro-life, since it would eliminate unfair insurance industry practices denying maternity coverage to pregnant women. See documentation later in this post.

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) - Cardinal Rigali, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), wrote to all U.S. Representatives urging them to co-sponsor the Pregnant Women Support Act (PWSA, H.R. 2035) re-introduced in the House by Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN) on April 22. The PWSA provides resources and support for pregnant and parenting women and their families.

“The Pregnant Women Support Act reaches out to women with a helping hand when they are most vulnerable, and most engaged in making a decision about life or death for their unborn children,” Cardinal Rigali said.

The Cardinal said that the PWSA offers “an authentic common ground, an approach that people can embrace regardless of their position on other issues.”

“There are some statements that almost everyone can endorse. First, the fact that over a million abortions take place every year in this country is a tragedy, and we should at least take steps to reduce abortions,” said Cardinal Rigali.

“Second, no woman should ever have to undergo an abortion because she feels she has no other choice, or because alternatives were unavailable or not made known to her. An abortion performed under such social and economic duress meets no one’s standard for ‘freedom of choice’,” the Cardinal continued.

Among other provisions, the PWSA will ensure that pregnant women are not denied coverage by insurance companies; establish a toll-free number for resources during pregnancy and after birth; provide life-affirming pregnancy services and parenting education in maternity group homes and other centers; provide new mothers with free home visits by registered nurses; and codify the current regulation allowing states to provide State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) coverage to unborn children and their mothers. It will also encourage adoption by expanding adoption tax credit and adoption assistance programs.

Cardinal Rigali distinguished the Pregnant Women Support Act from controversial proposals involving pregnancy prevention, which raise serious policy questions and in many studies have been shown not to reduce abortions. “Discussion of pregnancy prevention and related issues will surely continue inside and outside Congress. In the meantime, pregnant women need our assistance now so that abortion is not promoted to them as their only choice….I hope you will join Representative Davis in ensuring that the Pregnant Women Support Act will be considered and enacted by this Congress,” he said.

The full text of Cardinal Rigali’s letter is available here and here.

The Miami Herald has uncovered secret rules of HMOs when it comes to pregnancy (PDF). According to a handbook by VISTA, an HMO, it says:

"There is no coverage for maternity and routine newborn charges until the initial 15-month waiting period is satisfied. During the first 15 months from the effective date, no coverage is available for pre-natal, post-natal or delivery charges. For all plans, complications of pregnancy are covered the same as any other illness. If it is determined that conception was prior to the effective date, coverage will be voided, and the premium will be refunded less benefits provided. This also excludes elective abortion."

With the passage of the Pregnant Women Support Act, pregnancy will no longer be a pre-existing condition in American health insurance. It will also eliminate the "abortion incentive" that too many women and families face everyday. This is one of the many reasons why Democrats for Life is working so hard to pass PWSA. We want to bring both sides together to agree that there is much we agree on, and making sure that women who want to carry their child to term shouldn't be coerced to end their pregnancy so they can obtain their health insurance.

Democrats for Life.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

A Rising In The East?

Are you in Essex or the East End of London?

Are you an economically social democratic, morally and socially conservative British and Commonwealth patriot?

Could you be the Independent candidate for Erith and Thamesmead?

No toddlers need apply.

That seat is on course to be won by the BNP if the spitting in the electorate's face goes ahead after all.

Mind you, I have now been told half a dozen times that if the ballot-rigging doesn't work there, then Little Miss Parliament will be imposed on North-West Durham, where we are, after all, used to the idea of a safe Labour seat as a princess's plaything. At least Philip Gould is not the retiring MP.

But I don't know who is supposed to campaign for her, or even to sign her nomination papers. Will the last abolished councillor, or other stalwart, to leave the Labour Party in these parts please turn out the lights.

Education Authority

What do the Tories know about the state school system? What business is it of theirs?

Without powerful Local Education Authorities, there can never again be a bipartite or tripartite secondary system. That is the real reason for wanting to abolish what remains of LEAs.

Note how completely Blairite Tory policy now is. And note how, in best Blairite fashion, "the centre" (unless Michael Gove just meant "the Centre for Bad Undergraduate Rubbish, London, SW1") is now defined to mean support for the wholesale privatisation of primary schools.

For that is what City Academies are: private schools, but with their bills met by the taxpayer. But then, of course, the products, either of the VAT-exempt Tory factories, or of the London Oratory, Cardinal Bourne, Haverstock, William Ellis, Camden School for Girls (yes, Georgia Gould, that means you) and the like, think that that is what all schools are: private schools, but with their bills met by the taxpayer.

Employee Liability

It is an extremely bad idea to make MPs' staff direct employees of the House of Commons.

There are all sorts of reasons for this, but not the least is that such jobs would then effectively be restricted to people straight out of the super-posh universities to which they had been sent by their super-posh schools (by no means necessarily private, at least officially).

This is already very largely the case. But it is still possible for an individual MP to make exceptions. For anything like the foreseeable future, the House as an institution would never do so.


God Save The Queen.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Pointless All Round

If there is no more point to New Labour, then there is by definition no more point to its imitation and continuation, the New Tories.

The End of Cocaine "Socialism"?

Ed West writes:

I received an email from a banker friend yesterday which read simply: "This f'in tax thing is a disgrace". Now this man is a perfect gentleman, polite, decent, well-mannered and modest, quite the opposite of the stereotype of the braying, greedy yob. But he's wrong – 50 per cent for earners over £150,000 is not a disgrace.

Rich Tory-voting bankers aren't the only victims. I bet all the cocaine socialists in the media, arts and business who supported the "New Labour project" must be gutted now. Fifty per cent top rate tax – that wasn't part of the deal, Tony, that wasn't part of the deal. You told us all we'd have to do is support the 68er agenda - sexual liberation, feminism, multiculturalism, all that stuff - and we could sit back and watch profits soar on the back of cheap foreign labour.

Under New Labour Britain has become Valhalla for the rich, and Hades for the middle class. Low and middle earners are saddled with income tax, NI, council tax, stamp duty and many, many other terms that make so many of us want to act out the Michael Douglas film Falling Down. Meanwhile the squillionaires have been treated with the sort of deference one would expect in a country ruled by a short moustachioed colonel called "El Presidente".

So, while this puts me in the minority at the Telegraph, I'm as unmoved by the 50 per cent tax rise as I am by the Susan Boyle phenomenon.

We've heard all the arguments about driving wealth-creators abroad – and you know what? I don't believe it. The idea that money trickles down or that the rich invest their excess cash in new wealth creation is nice but it doesn't ring true – they invest the bulk of it in property which pushes up prices and the end result is that most of us cannot afford to live in our own country anymore.

When my mother first came to London as a secretary she lived in Hampstead, Chelsea and Kensington. I can't even afford to eat breakfast in Kensington. In fact, like millions of others. I'm dependent on hand-outs from my parents just so I can afford a pokey flat in some part of London that's not even on the tube. I admit that not many of you will be reaching for the hanky right now while reading about the woes of a young media professional in London, but what about policemen, nurses, teachers or any of the other people who have been left behind by the housing market? In large parts of London there are no really middle class people at all – everyone is either super-rich or super-poor, and it's fair to say it does not make for a very happy mix.

My only objection is that the money will be wasted on more doomed attempts at getting the hopeless, man-made underclass into work, and other failed and unworkable pieces of social engineering. Rather I'd prefer, as Vince Cable suggests, that we use the money to take the poor out of tax altogether. What a shame Vince never joined Labour.

He did, before he joined the SDP. But that is a detail.

Patriot Acts

While Melanie Phillips, like a Bush Era stopped clock, is still banging on in favour of the Islamist terrorist dismemberment of Russia, President Obama is getting on with the serious business of bilateral arms reduction negotiations with that country. What a thing it is to have a conservative in the White House for a change.

No wonder that he is so popular among Catholics, white Evangelicals, Cuban-Americans, self-identifying conservatives, and so on. He represents a return to Eisenhower, with his ending of the Korean War, his even-handed approach to Israel and the Palestinians, and his denunciation of the military-industrial complex. To Nixon, who ended the Vietnam War as President Obama will end the Iraq War, and who began détente with China as President Obama is beginning détente with Iran, Cuba and beyond.

To the opposition to Clinton’s unpatriotic job-exportation, unpatriotic sweatshop-importation, and unpatriotic global trigger-happiness, all continued and expanded by the unpatriotic Bush Administration. And, yes, to Reagan’s bilateral arms reduction, one of the very few conservative things that he ever did, indeed quite possibly the only one.

In other words to the viewing of the wider world in strictly realistic terms, "not seeking for monsters to destroy", but instead, for example, calling for Europe to revert to pre-1914 borders and thus end the First World War, an outcome (also advocated by Pope Benedict XV) which would have precluded both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Such is by definition a return to that rural and Western half of the Republican Party which supported the New Deal, and to those Congressional Republicans (not all, but some) who cast the votes that passed Civil Rights in the face of Dixiecrat resistance.

So no wonder that President Obama is so popular among Catholics, white Evangelicals, Cuban-Americans, self-identifying conservatives, and so on. And no wonder that the organisation purporting to be the Republican Party is not, and has no idea what to do with itself.

Except, perhaps, to behave like a Bush Era stopped clock, still banging on in favour of such things as the Islamist terrorist dismemberment of Russia.

The Party Is Over

In the New Statesman, Neil Clark has this interview with Alice Mahon:

She was born into the Labour Party. Her grandfather, a Scottish miner who moved to Yorkshire in search of work, told her how he had heard and been inspired by Keir Hardie. At the age of ten, she was delivering Labour party leaflets. At 19 she was a party member, and at 49, she became a Labour MP, for her home town of Halifax. Now, after 60 years’ association with the party, Alice Mahon has had enough.

Her resignation was announced the weekend of 18 April in a letter to her constituency chairman, in which she claimed that the party’s leadership had “betrayed many of the values and principles that inspired me as a teenager to join”. There have been many attacks on New Labour before, but Mahon’s could yet prove to be one of the most damaging.

Widely respected throughout the labour movement for her integrity and commitment to social justice, Mahon’s critique of New Labour has traction, as it chimes with what millions of core Labour supporters feel about the party’s lurch to the right. “Labour is the party of bankers, not workers,” she tells me. “The party has lost its soul, and what has replaced it is harsh, American-style politics.”

Like many on the left, she hoped that things would improve with Gordon Brown’s elevation to the leadership in 2007. “I was naive enough to think that when Tony Blair went we would get a change of direction. But it was just wishful thinking. The thing is that Brown really believes in neoliberalism. Things are getting worse in the party, not better, particularly since Peter Mandelson came back.

“Take the Welfare Reform Bill. John McDonnell was magnificent, but what I thought was deeply depressing was that – apart from Lynne Jones – there were hardly any Labour women MPs attending the debates and opposing the bill.”

The party’s “obsession” with privatisation, and the way former cabinet ministers (16 at the latest count) obtain private-sector jobs soon after leaving office, are particular bugbears. “Why are we continuing to privatise? It can’t be because privatised services work better; we only need to look at the railways to know that that isn’t true. One has to wonder whether it’s because of the rich pickings politicians can get when they leave office. They are joining companies which bid for government contracts, and there is a clear conflict of interest.”

Then there’s foreign policy. Mahon, a veteran peace campaigner, has opposed all of New Labour’s military interventions. “Labour has become the party of war. The wars against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq are all part of the same imperialist war. The Labour Party was supposed to be against imperialism. I remember seeing children being pulled out of the rubble when Israel bombed Lebanon. But the government wouldn’t say anything to condemn it. What kind of morals is that?”

For Mahon, the party is now beyond repair. “New Labour’s control of the party is total. They don’t just use smear campaigns against the Tories, but against anyone within the party who opposes them. Take the case of Janet Oosthuysen, who was selected to be the prospective Labour candidate for Calder Valley at the next election. She’s a lovely woman and very popular with local people. So what did they do? They dragged up the fact that she had once scratched her former husband’s car, and the NEC then blocked her candidacy.

“Then there’s Bob Wareing [Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby from 1983 until he was deselected in 2007]. What happened to him was disgusting; a lifelong socialist who had given great service was deselected in favour of a thrusting, ambitious Blairite [Stephen Twigg] who had lost his seat in the last election.”

Mahon, as the descendant of a miner, feels she has nothing in common, either politically or personally, with New Labour’s middle-class metropolitans. “Blair was a cuckoo in the Labour nest. New Labour is nothing whatsoever to do with the Labour Party. What do I have in common with James Purnell? He looks like a Poor Law Guardian.”

So if the Labour Party is not the answer for progressives, what is?

“I’d advise people to vote for individual candidates. I’m not going to join any other party. What parties are there? The big disappointment has been the unions, who have continued to support Labour, even when they’ve been privatising and attacking working people.”

As honest and as straightforward as any politician I have met, Alice Mahon is a throwback, in the best sense of the word, to the times when the Labour Party inspired devotion in working-class communities around the country. “When I was a child growing up in Halifax, there were three main topics of conversation in our house: Rugby League, cricket – and the Labour Party,” she recalls. One wonders in how many working-class households today the Labour Party is discussed in affectionate terms. And how many ten-year-olds will be out delivering party leaflets.

New Labour may have won three general elections in a row, but by alienating those like Alice Mahon, who have given a lifetime of service to the party, it could well have sown the seeds of its own demise.

Gurkha Justice

Not only should old Gurkhas have an absolute right to live and be naturalised in the United Kingdom, but (an even more pressing need) serving and former Gurkhas' children should be charged only home student fees by universities here. When is that going to happen? Why hasn't it happened already?

Jacqui Smith, over to you.

DVLA: What Does That Stand For?

I invite suggestions in view of the fact that, in the present climate, it is advertising personalised number plates "from £245".

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Happy Saint George's Day

God Save The Queen.

When will this be a public holiday throughout the United Kingdom? Why is it not already?

"A Return To Old Labour"?

Have the Government and its associates repented of their formative Communist and Trotskyist activism, admitting that it had been wrong at the time? Have they made it clear once and for all that, contrary to appearances, they have not merely changed tactics from the economic to the social, cultural and constitutional, without having changed their ultimate objectives one iota? Have they explained definitively that when they call themselves social democrats, they mean one of that term's two entirely different definitions (the one that almost all English-speaking people mean) rather than the other (the one relating to the Russian Revolution and to the original German party of that name, and subject to repeated Papal condemnations)?

Have the Government and its associates become instead supporters of the universal and comprehensive Welfare State, and the strong statutory and other (including trade union) protection of workers, consumers, communities and the environment, the former paid for by progressive taxation, the whole underwritten by full employment, and all these good thing delivered by the partnership between a strong Parliament and strong local government? Have they therefore taken to giving a political voice to trade unions, co-operatives, credit unions, mutual guarantee societies, mutual building societies and similar bodies?

And have the Government and its associates now moved into the tradition of the trade unionists and Labour activists who in the early twentieth century peremptorily dismissed an attempt to make the Labour Party anti-monarchist, and resisted schemes to abort, contracept and sterilise the working class out of existence?

The tradition of the Attlee Government’s refusal to join the European Coal and Steel Community because it was “the blueprint for a federal state” which “the Durham miners would never wear”? Of Gaitskell’s rejection of European federalism as “the end of a thousand years of history” and liable to destroy the Commonwealth? Of the unanimous Labour vote against the Single European Act, of the 66 Labour MPs who voted against Maastricht, and of the every Labour MP without exception who voted against the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies every year between 1979 and 1997? And of the view of the European project that prevailed overwhelmingly within the Parliamentary Labour Party when it was comprised overwhelmingly of economically populist and social democratic, morally and socially conservative, staunchly Unionist and pro-Commonwealth, often church-based politicians?

The tradition of Bevan’s ridicule of the first parliamentary Welsh Day on the grounds that “Welsh coal is the same as English coal and Welsh sheep are the same as English sheep”? Of those Labour MPs who in the 1970s successfully opposed Scottish and Welsh devolution not least because of its ruinous effects on the North of England? And of those Labour activists in the Scottish Highlands, Islands and Borders, and in North, Mid and West Wales, who accurately predicted that their areas would be balefully neglected under devolution?

The tradition of the Parliamentary Labour Party that voted against the partition of the United Kingdom? Of the Attlee Government’s first ever acceptance of the principle of consent with regard to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland? Of the Wilson Government’s deployment of British troops to protect Northern Ireland’s grateful Catholics precisely as British subjects? And of the Callaghan Government’s administration of Northern Ireland exactly as if it were any other part of the United Kingdom?

The tradition of the Catholic and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, who fought tooth and nail against abortion and easier divorce? Of the Methodist and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, who fought tooth and nail against deregulated drinking and gambling? And of those, including John Smith, who successfully organised through USDAW against Thatcher’s and Major’s attempts to destroy the special character of Sunday and of Christmas Day?

The tradition of Attlee’s successful dissuasion of Truman from dropping an atom bomb on Korea? Of Wilson’s refusal to send British forces to Vietnam, but use of military force to safeguard the right of the people of Anguilla to be British? And of Callaghan’s successful prevention of an Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands?

And the tradition that helped to provide the backbone of the Police, the Armed Forces and the Prison Service in much better days for all of them, and to call millions onto the streets to celebrate such events as the Coronation in 1953 and the Silver Jubilee in 1977?

Merely to ask these questions answers them.

Indeed, the unrepented Communist and Trotskyist activity included ruthlessly purging the House of Commons of almost everyone even remotely like that, of whom there would be still be hundreds in a representative Parliament, just as there always used to be.

A return to Old Labour?

If only!

Proving Ahmadinejad's Point

Adrian Hamilton writes:

Read Ahmadinejad’s address at the UN conference on racism in Geneva this week and there is little to surprise and a certain amount to be agreed with. His accusations against the imperial powers for what they did with colonial rule and the business of slavery is pretty much part of the school curriculum now. His anger at the way the economic crisis originated in the West but has hit worst the innocent of the developing world would find a ready echo (and did) among most of the delegates.

It was not for this, however, that the countries of Europe and North America gathered up their skirts and walked out of Ahmadinejad’s peroration. The UK’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Peter Gooderham, rather gave the game away when he said afterwards: “As soon as President Ahmadinejad started talking about Israel, that was the cue for us to walk out. We agreed in advance that if there was any such rhetoric there would be no tolerance for it.” The Iranian leader, he went on to say, was guilty of anti-Semitisim.

Just how you can accuse a man of anti-Semitisim when you haven’t stayed to hear him talk is one of those questions which the Foreign Office no doubt trains its diplomats to explain. But what basically was our representative trying to say here? That any mention of the word Israel is barred from international discussions? That the mere mention of it is enough to have the Western governments combine to still it? In fact, Ahmadinejad’s speech was not anti-Semitic, not in the strict sense of the word. Nowhere in his speech did he mention his oft-quoted suggestion that Israel be expunged from the map of the world. At no point did he mention the word “Jews”, only “Zionists”, and then specifically in an Israeli context. Nor did he repeat his infamous Holocaust denials, although he did reportedly refer to it slightingly as “ambiguous” in its evidence.

Instead, he launched the time-honoured Middle Eastern accusation that Israel was an alien country imposed on the local population by the West, out of its own guilt for the genocide; that it was supported by a Zionist take-over of Western politics and that it pursued racist policies towards the Palestinians. Now you may find these calls offensive or far-fetched (if there is a Zionist world conspiracy, it is making a singularly bad job of it) but it is pretty much the standard view in the Muslim world. Western support of Israel is seen as a conspiracy, and it is not just prejudice. There are now books by Western academics arguing that the pro-Israeli lobby wields an influence in the US out of all proportion to its numbers. If the Western walkout in Geneva did nothing else, it rather proved the point.

Nor is it far-fetched to charge Israel with being a racist state. As the only country in the world that defines itself and its immigrants on racial grounds, it could be regarded as fair comment.

Of Pius And Portugal

From the Daily Telegraph:

Pope Pius XII told senior bishops that should he be arrested by the Nazis, his resignation would become effective immediately, paving the way for a successor, according to documents in the Vatican's Secret Archives.

The bishops would then be expected to flee to a safe country – probably neutral Portugal – where they would re-establish the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and appoint a new Pontiff.

That Hitler considered kidnapping the Pope has been documented before, but this is the first time that details have emerged of the Vatican's strategy should the Nazis carry out the plan.

"Pius said 'if they want to arrest me they will have to drag me from the Vatican'," said Peter Gumpel, the German Jesuit priest who is in charge of researching whether Pius should be made a saint, and therefore has access to secret Vatican archives.

Pius, who was Pope throughout the war, told his advisers "the person who would leave the under these conditions would not be Pius XII but Eugenio Pacelli" – his name before he was elected Pontiff – thus giving permission for a new Pope to be elected.

"It would have been disastrous if the Church had been left without an authoritative leader," said Father Gumpel.

"Pius wouldn't leave voluntarily. He had been invited repeatedly to go to Portugal or Spain or the United States but he felt he could not leave his diocese under these severe and tragic circumstances." Vatican documents, which still remain secret, are believed to show that Pius was aware of a plan formulated by Hitler in July 1943 to occupy the Vatican and arrest him and his senior cardinals.

On 6 September 1943 – days after Italy signed the September 3 armistice with the Allies and German troops occupied Rome – Pius told key aides that he believed his arrest was imminent.

General Karl Otto Wolff, an SS general, was told to "occupy as soon as possible the Vatican, secure the archives and art treasures and transfer the Pope, together with the Curia so that they cannot fall into the hands of the Allies and exert a political influence."

Hitler ordered the kidnapping, according to historians, because he feared that Pius would further criticise the Nazis' treatment of the Jews.

He was also afraid that the Pontiff's opposition could inspire resistance to the Germans in Italy and other Catholic countries.

Some historians have claimed that General Wolff tipped off the Vatican about the kidnap plans and that he also managed to talk the Fuhrer out of the plot because he believed it would alienate Catholics worldwide.

The latest revelations will be seen by some observers as a further attempt by the Vatican to bolster the case for Pius XII being declared a saint.

Pius has been accused of being anti-Semitic and of harbouring sympathies for the Nazi regime, most notably in the 1999 book
Hitler's Pope, by British author John Cornwell.

But other Catholic and Jewish historians contend that in fact Pius was loathed by the Nazis for speaking out about the Holocaust and for behind-the-scenes efforts to save Italian Jews who otherwise would have been sent to death camps.

Has it really been 10 years? As someone once said, "Tell a lie big enough..." In fact, Pius XII was first ever called "Hitler's Pope" by none other than John Cornwell, in his 1999 book of that name, a thinly disguised liberal rant against John Paul II with the 'thesis' that the future Pius XII, while a diplomat in Germany, could have rallied Catholic opposition and toppled Hitler. Pure fantasy, like the origin of the whole "Pope supported Hitler" craze: the 1963 play The Deputy by Rolf Hochhuth, who was later successfully prosecuted for suggesting that Churchill had arranged the 1944 air crash that killed General Sikorsky.

Pius XII directly or indirectly saved between 8500 and 9600 Jews in Rome; 40,000 throughout Italy; 15,000 in the Netherlands; 65,000 in Belgium; 200,000 in France; 200,000 in Hungary; and 250,000 in Romania. This list is not exhaustive, and the Dutch figure would have been much higher had not the Dutch Bishops antagonised the Nazis by issuing the sort of public denunciation that Pius is castigated for failing to have issued.

After the War, Pius was godfather when the Chief Rabbi of Rome became a Catholic, and was declared a Righteous Gentile by the State of Israel, whose future Prime Minister (Moshe Sharrett) told him that it was his "duty to thank you, and through you the Catholic Church, for all they had done for the Jews." When Pius died in 1958, tributes to him from Jewish organisations had to be printed over three days by the New York Times, and even then limited to the names of individuals and their organisations.

All of this is contained in works of serious scholarship by Margherita Marchione, Ralph McInerny, Ronald J Rychlak, and others, most recently the superlative Rabbi Professor David G Dalin.

Colonel Claus Schenk, Count von Stauffenberg, recently given the full Tom Cruise treatment, was a devout Catholic, with close dynastic connections to the Bavarian Royal House of Wittelsbach (whom the Jacobites would have on the Thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland), to the family of Saint Philip Howard (martyred Earl of Arundel), and do on.

In Austria, Hitler had murdered the Chancellor, Englebert Dolfuss, who in fact defended, on the borders of Italy and Germany, Catholic Social Teaching and what remained of the thoroughly multiethnic Hapsburg imperial ethos (to this day, numerous German, Magyar and Slavic names are found throughout the former Austria-Hungary) against both the Communists and the Nazis.

Yes, he was authoritarian. But look at his neighbours, and look what he was up against domestically. Imagine if a Fascist putsch in the Irish Free State (and at least one was attempted) had coincided with very serious Communist and Fascist threats in Britain. The British Government of the day would have been authoritarian, too. And, while the emergency lasted, it would have been right. In the same tradition was Blessed Franz Jägerstätter. Google him, people. Google him.

Examples of Catholic anti-Nazism could be multiplied practically without end. The more Catholic an area was, the less likely it was to vote Nazi, without any exception whatever.

Meanwhile, we all need to learn far more about Portugal, our dear old friend, where they even use GMT when we do, and where they even use what we call British Summer Time when we do. Far from laying claim to any part of our territory, Portugal allowed us to use the Azores during the Falklands War.

There, a leader sometimes categorised by the lazy as a "Fascist", actually, on the border of Civil War-ravaged Spain, held the line against against both the Communists and the "National Syndicalists". That line was the Estado Novo (strikingly similar to the British tradition of morally and socially conservative economic social democracy) and exceedingly multiethnic, indeed multiracial, Lusotropicalism (strikingly similar to a patriotic allegiance to the United Kingdom and to the Commonwealth).

Yes, again, Salazar was authoritarian. But, again, look at his neighbour, and look what he was up against domestically. Again, imagine if a Fascist putsch in the Irish Free State (and at least one was attempted) had coincided with very serious Communist and Fascist threats in Britain. Again, the British Government of the day would have been authoritarian, too. And again, while the emergency lasted, it would have been right.

Salazar was overthrown by a Maoist (yes, Maoist) insurrection, a figure from which went on to become a rabidly "free"-marketeering and pro-Bush Prime Minister before being wafted into the Presidency of the European Commission. What progress, eh?

No wonder that Salazar was recently voted the Greatest Portuguese Ever in a mass television poll of his compatriots.

Miami Virtue

Right Democrat has this:

President Barack Obama is enjoying dramatically high approval ratings among Cuban Americans, the majority of whom favor his efforts to ease the U.S. trade embargo against their communist-ruled homeland, a new poll showed this week.

Sixty-seven percent of participants in the poll, which underscores a dramatic shift in a community with close ties to the Republican Party, gave Democrat Obama a favorable rating while only 20 percent said they had an unfavorable opinion of the young president.

The poll released on Monday was conducted by Bendixen & Associates, a Miami-based public opinion research and consulting firm that has been studying the Cuban American community for more than 25 years.

The nationwide poll of Cuban Americans -- there are about 1.5 million in the United States -- was conducted last week after Obama slightly eased the embargo against Havana by granting Cuban Americans the right to travel freely to the island and send money to relatives there.

He also eased restrictions on dealings by U.S. telecommunications companies with Cuba, but linked any further thaw in relations to Cuban advances in sensitive areas such as human rights and releasing political prisoners.

Fernand Amandi, an executive vice president of Bendixen, said Obama's approval rating was the highest Cuban Americans had bestowed on any president since the Republican Ronald Reagan in the mid-1980s and the highest ever for a Democrat.

Which seems a tad ungrateful, all things considered.

They and the Democrats have become realists together.

Goes To My Head

"4p on wine", screams the front page.

Of The Sun.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Avoid This

Except that you can’t.

My Right Honourable Kinsman could put the top rate up to ninety-nine pence in the pound. Tony Blair, David Cameron, George Osborne and Nick Clegg still wouldn’t pay.

Ostentatiously high rates are beside the point. There wouldn’t be the slightest need for them if the enormously rich were not effectively exempt from tax anyway.

Ending that would bring in revenue beyond what were previously our wildest dreams. It would make it possible for the personal allowance to set permanently at national median earnings for full-time work (however much that happened to be at the given time), and for everyone to be guaranteed a minimum income of half that. And it would enable us to do these things on a flat rate of income tax with no further exemptions.

Just as there would still have to be child benefit payable to the mother (or the father in her complete absence), so there would still have to be the restored tax allowance for the father (or the mother in his complete absence). But apart from that, one Social Security payment, called and delivering Social Security, and bringing everyone up to half median earnings for full-time work. And one tax allowance, of twice Social Security, i.e., of median earnings for full-time work.

Bury This

“Our children will be in poverty for decades to come,” announced David Cameron.

Er, yours won’t, Dave. There isn’t even a mortgage on any of your three houses.

And do you really not know that there were no unburied dead during the Winter of Discontent? Either you don’t, making you too ill-informed for office. Or you do, making you too dishonest for office.

Release This

No charges against any of them. Remember, you paid for this. And you will be called upon to forgo yet more of your liberty because of it.

Apparently blameless, they will now be deported and their education ruined, all to save face.

Expect a lot more of this now that such matters are in the hands of John Yates, the master of high theatricality leading to absolutely no results.

Bank On This

In praising Gordon Brown, Linda Riordan, MP for Halifax and erstwhile researcher to Alice Mahon, had her fist in a velvet glove. But it was a fist of iron. She called explicitly for him, a Prime Minister from the near orbit of Edinburgh, to guarantee financial services jobs in Halifax.

The full nationalisation of Lloyds TSB, and thus of HBOS, should lead to the re-constitution of the Halifax Building Society, as the template for rebuilding the highly localised mutual movement throughout the country. That would be the right thing to do. And Gordon Brown should consider that it might also save a previously super-safe seat, plus at a hell of a push at least one neighbouring marginal as well.

Occupy This

The Visteon workers are here.

As much as anything else, see the organisational opportunities afforded by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Whip This

When a Labour MP was called after an SDLP one, it turned out to be because no one on the Tory benches had anything to say.

Too much to hope, then, that the Labour Whip had finally been withdrawn from a party which, while it has much to commend it (totally non-Marxist Old Labour economics, and Catholic moral and social policy), was created in reaction against a Labour Government, brought down that Government by abstention, and wishes to exclude from British social democracy people who currently benefit from it.

But then, that Whip, itself still in existence despite the historic near-total lack of Commons divisions, is set to extend even to members of a Cameron Cabinet, at least one of whom is a member of the current Cabinet.

COPE With This

The ANC needs to be taught a lesson. COPE arises out of the liberation struggle. And indeed the Democratic Alliance is the present embodiment of the tradition of Alan Paton and Helen Suzman, nowhere near as liberal rather than radical as is usually assumed. Neither is going to win. But strong showings for both would be a very healthy sign.

Nuke This

“You go on about how Israel was founded by anti-British terrorists and the Israelis still hate us in a way that the Americans or the Irish no longer do [mostly never really did in the Irish case, but of that another time], but you never mention Iranian hostility to Britain going back to the overthrow of Mosadegh.”

Well, in point of fact, I do, from time to time. But if there is anyone who argues that Britain, America or the wider Western world should organise all foreign and security policy around the Iranian interest as perceived by the most hardline and disagreeable Iranian elements, then I have yet to come across that person. Has anyone else?

With Iran’s three reserved parliamentary seats for Christians, we do in fact have a greater affinity with Iran than with Israel, although our affinity with Syria (Christian-majority provinces, Christian festivals as public holidays) is greater, and our affinity with Lebanon (a European official language, a constitutional requirement that the President be a Christian) is greater still.

But Syria was really behind Lockerbie, admittedly in itself a direct attack on an American rather than a British target. And yes, there are problems arising out of Iran’s historical relations with this country.

If for some unknown reason Netanyahu (did you see him in that skullcap as if he were the Rebbe of Lubavitch? – why don’t people just laugh?) either sincerely believed, or at least managed to convince the Knesset, that there was about to be an Iranian strike against Israel, and if Israel then took out wherever that strike was supposed to come from, then that would be Israel’s and Iran’s business, not ours.

And just how anti-British does a country have to be for certain people? Look at the Euston Manifesto Group (if it still exists) and the Henry Jackson Society, and there they all are: the old supporters of the Soviet Union or of the Boer Republic set up as an explicit act of anti-British revenge in a former Dominion of the Crown, now united in devotion to the vision of America closest to the tripe taught in schools there about the War of Independence and its background, and to the vision of Israel closest to the hanging of our teenage conscripts and the photographing of that act (within living memory, of course).

What about the Jews who were killed in the bombing of the King David Hotel? Do they not count because they were British?

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Taking The Bait

Who is going to stand up and demand that this latest opportunity be taken, to introduce legislation restoring the United Kingdom's historic fishing rights (two hundred miles or to the median line) in accordance with international law, and to defy any MP to be seen to vote against it?

Not the Tories, obviously.

But the Lib Dems? The SNP? The DUP?

If not, why not?

What The American People Voted For

"Obama wants to turn America into a European-style social democracy", shrieked his enemies. So the American people voted for him. Now, where is the "European-style social democracy" for which they voted?

And "Obama won't hold to the Likud line", shrieked his enemies. So the American people voted for him. Now, where is the non-holding to the Likud line for which they voted?

If he isn't delivering the latter, then what makes anyone think that he will deliver the former?

As for student union style preplanned walk-outs, grow up.

Sinners, Indeed

The ghastly Sinners establishment is a product of the deregulation of drinking, gambling and the "sex industry" since 1979, and especially since 1997. How much of that did you vote against, Denis MacShane?

Sunderland's Finest?

No, not a post about football.

Last time, Neil Herron's intervention gave a Strasbourg seat to the Lib Dems instead of UKIP, making the North East the only English region not to return a UKIP member. I hope he was very proud of that.

But this time, Neil Herron's intervention could give a Strasbourg seat to the Lib Dems instead of the BNP, making the North East the only English region not to return a BNP member. He really could be very proud of that.

Votes For Prisoners?

No, of course not.

But if we hadn't eroded trial by jury, and if we didn't have convictions by majority verdict (i.e., where there is reasonable doubt), then no one would suggest this.

Oh, and we could go back to proper sentencing as well.

What A Drag

I recently had sight of an MP's latest communication with every household in her constituency. On the front, she looked for all the world like a former member of her staff. Except butcher. He would have been much more convincingly dragged up. And no doubt is so on a very regular basis.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Tax This

The threshold for income tax should be the median wage for full-time work (currently about £23,000 per annum), with tax thereafter at a flat rate with no further exemptions or allowances. That this would mean the same rate for everyone does not, of course, mean that it would be the same sum for everyone.

It does, however, mean the unaccustomed arrival of a tax bill for those whose only current relationship to the taxation system is that of being bailed out by taxpayers when they look like becoming so poor that they might join our number.

There are many uses to which the vast revenues thus accessed for the first time might be put, not including, for example, nuclear weapons, or wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, or bailing out super-rich non-taxpayers in order to keep them super-rich and non-taxpaying.

One such good use would and should be the amalgamation of all current Social Security payments into something called, and providing, Social Security, and guaranteeing that no one's income ever fell below half the national median wage for full-time work.

Both this new tax system and this new benefit system would be dazzling simple to understand, and would cost next to nothing to administer.

Geneva Convention

"Britain is now at war with Germany. Consequently, so is Australia."

So declared the Australian Prime Minister in 1939. How could he not have done?

By contrast, there is no excuse whatever for "Israel is not attending some conference at which there might be the slightest criticism of Israel, consequently neither is the United States, neither is Australia (among others), and neither should Britain".

Iran is so anti-Semitic (Persians are not Semites, by the way) that she has a reserved parliamentary seat for a Jew. If ambassadors are to be recalled from places having the slightest contact with anywhere, then they ought to be recalled from places having the slightest contact with the state that has Avigdor Lieberman in government.

Lebanon's European official language, and requirement that the President be a Christian, make Lebanon a more Western country than Israel. Syria's Christian-majority provinces, and Christian festivals as public holidays, make Syria a more Western country than Israel. Iran's three reserved parliamentary seats for Christians (and one for a Jew) make Iran a more Western country than Israel.

While Israel has a right of self-defence, that is not in principle any of our concern, and it is by no means impossible that our interest may be on the other side, where it would have to be pursued accordingly.

Yet, despite the promise that there would be a Commons vote on any future war, we are not only arming Israel, but sending our sailors and marines to fight, not against the pirates menacing our shipping, but for this entirely foreign, permanently ungrateful, and at root very hostile country.

For a sort of default Arabism - which accepts the fact that the ultimate globalist institution forced us to surrender to exceptionally vicious Marxist terrorism, but which nevertheless refuses to like that fact - is integral to this country's character, as Tony Blair might have understood if he had ever spent any time here. As surely as people who want Sharia law, people who do not like this are free to leave.

Ashes To Ashes

Back tonight.

There should be a series in which Gene Hunt is transported to 2009 and put in charge of investigating political corruption. After which Bowie album could it be named, and why?

All right, so Ashes To Ashes is not as good as Life On Mars. And moving Gene Hunt to London wasn't a very good idea, even if he really would have been addressed as "Guv" rather than "Boss" there, the one really grating thing about Life On Mars. But the last series certainly had its moments, even if it was set in a sort of generic Eighties - there were no yuppies as early as 1981.

In one episode, the destruction of skilled work, and the demolition of the homes of those who performed it, was accurately portrayed as "Thatcher and Heseltine succeeding where the Luftwaffe failed". Who won the War in the end, eh? No wonder that Gene Hunt was visibly sympathetic. Time was when both parties were united in supporting high-skilled, high-wage jobs and high-quality, affordable housing, as well as by a common allegiance to the Crown, the Commonwealth, the churches, the Police and wider criminal justice system, the Armed Forces, and so forth.

The A-List: Where Are They Now?

Pretty much everywhere except on the cusp of Parliament, including here and here.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

The Empty Lobby?

I don’t usually do bloggers v old-style media stories. Whether on a blog or in a newspaper, if you have nothing better to write about than how awful newspapers or blogs are, then you shouldn’t really be writing at all, because you don’t have anything to say.

But the events of the last week have, I suppose, vindicated the professional bloggers on a key point. What do the lobby, in particular, actually do all day? They need do nothing more than check their emails enough times to have received their spoonfed stories from the politicians or publicly funded hangers-on whom they have known since university (often the very recent past). If not before, when one considers that the two universities in question admit from only a hundred schools.

They have gone straight from drinking together in student bars heavily subsidised by the rest of us, to drinking together in Palace of Westminster bars heavily subsidised by the rest of us. Politicians and Fleet Street or BBC types alike did not or do not need to work for several years after university. If they did, then they could never get in. The lowest level positions are only available to people who can live (and that in central London) on little or no pay.

This is all doubtless why, while even they have to admit that being caught ballot-rigging is at least a minor story, they regard it as entirely unremarkable that a political party (it could be any of them) is wafting into a safe seat the 22-year-old spawn of a duly ennobled pollster-to-order and a fashionable vanity publisher, that spawn herself straight out of the Oxford to which she was sent by one of the highest of Lenin High Schools. But for details about exact parental occupation, or exact super-exclusive school, or exact achingly cushy job, they really do just assume that everyone lives like that.

Child Matters

Who pays for Every Child Matters? Who do you think?

It is now running a poster campaign for which only children can be forgiven. The demand is for the lowering of the voting age to 16, and the posters illustrate apparently 16-year-old persons, under slogans wholly unrelated to voting.

“I can get married, but I can’t vote”, says one. You shouldn’t be able to do either, say I. “I can join the Army, but I can’t vote”, says another. On balance, you probably shouldn’t be able to do either, say I. “I can drive, but I can’t vote”, says a third. Not if you’re only 16, you can’t, dear. But my personal favourite is “I can fix your car, but I can’t vote”. What others might there be? “I can do up my buttons, but I can’t vote”? Go on, enjoy yourselves.

It shouldn’t be necessary to explain this, but clearly it is. Lowering the voting age even further would pose a very serious threat to democracy, since no one seriously imagines that the opinion of a 16-year-old matters as much as that of his Head Teacher, or his doctor, or his mother. So why, it would be asked unanswerably, should each of them have only as many votes as he has? Thus would the process start.

Harold Wilson probably thought that he might gain some advantage from lowering the voting age. But in fact the Sixties Swingers hated him, and handed the 1970 Election to Ted Heath, to no one’s surprise more than Heath’s and his party’s, because, after Selsdon and all that, they had thought that he was going to entrench economically their own moral, social and cultural irresponsibility and viciousness. As it turned out, they had to wait another nine years. But they did it in the end. By voting Tory.

But the lesson should have been learned. The very young would not even vote for a party which had been in office a mere six years, a long time to them. So the extremely young are certainly never going to vote for a party which, by this time next year, will have been in office since they themselves were a mere three years old.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Alice In Purnelland

Alice Mahon has made it entirely clear that she has left Labour because of policy, including the vicious Welfare Bill, the work of James Purnell, who persecutes the poor, sick and disabled while charging the taxpayer four hundred pounds per month for food, since apparently neither his ministerial nor his parliamentary salary is paid in order to feed him.

Truly, we have stepped through the looking glass.

Setting The Culture

Since, as David Cameron says, "it's the boss who sets the culture", what culture is he setting, and what culture would he set as Prime Minister?

We know that he has at least once had cause to visit a "sexual health clinic". If he was the victim of some sort of assault, then fair enough. But he would probably have made the whole story about that specifically.

We know that he was a member of an organisation dedicated explicitly to the imprisonable offences of drunken and disorderly conduct, criminal damage and assault.

And we know that he refuses to deny that he has used Class A drugs.

A Kick In The Ballots

Fun and games in Erith and Thamesmead, a super-safe Labour seat where the sitting MP is retiring. The party machine has had to step in after the ballot box for the selection of a new PPC was found to have been tampered with.

Where most MPs come from is by far the biggest political scandal in this country today.

Instead of the current eye-popping arrangements, in the course of each Parliament, each party should submit a shortlist of the two candidates nominated by the most branches (including those of affiliated organisations where applicable) to an independently administered, binding ballot of the whole electorate at constituency level for the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, and at national level for the Leader.

All the ballots for Prospective Parliamentary Candidate would be held on the same day, and all the ballots for Leader would be held on the same day. Each of these ballots would be held at public expense at the request of five per cent or more of registered voters in the constituency or the country, as appropriate.

Each candidate in each of these ballots would have a tax-free campaigning allowance out of public funds, conditional upon matching funding by resolution of a membership organisation. The name of that organisation would appear on the ballot paper after that of the candidate. And there would be a ban on all other campaign funding, and on all campaign spending above twice that allowance.

Strength Out Of Weakness

The weak pound has them flocking to Britain from all over the shop, and especially from the Eurozone. It also has our own people holidaying in this country. Like manufacturing, domestic tourism is a mass-employing pursuit that pays the taxes out of which bailouts are funded.

A Sensible Zionist

I don't agree with all of this, by Martin Meenagh, but it is basically right:

The London Times has, in recent years, been a reliable conduit both for the scattered remains of the neoconservative movement and for the right wing in Israel. Today, they are reporting--and the Jerusalem Post is echoing--that Israel is preparing for a strike in Iran. This strike would involve hitting at least twelve targets, some moving, around 1,000 miles away.

I think Benjamin Netanyahu is many things, most of them probably criminal. I've called him a Jewish Nixon, only a little in jest. But he is not an idiot. What he tends to do is create climates in which others feel they can only act through violence. He's got Ehud Barak on side in this effort, and even, apparently, (and not to her credit) Tzipi Livni.

Can he really be plotting or encouraging a Persian war?

I agree with the American Defense Secretary, not that it matters. He thinks that an action against Iran would only delay their nuclear programme whilst strengthening their resolve.

I'd go further. If the Iranian regime is suffering from low oil prices, why push them sky high, and predictably endanger sea and pipeline traffic? If the Iranian revolutionary guards, ayatollahs, presidency, and urban middle classes are all at each other's throats, why unite them? If the Iranian nuclear facilities are underground, what is going to damage them short of nuclear ordnance? Why is anyone willing to throw brave young Jewish men and women, and for that matter the land of Israel, into the mincer?

I hope that what is going on is just sabre-rattling. I also hope that if I am wrong, as I am frequently, that any action would not result in massive retaliation.

Iran is extraordinarily dangerous. My American readers should understand that it is immediately dangerous to Europe; a big enough strike on them endorsed by us, and we can look at a range of responses from terrorism every Tuesday to kissing Rome good-bye. I would also point out that it has not been significantly weakened by sanctions, that Persia has been around for thousands of years. Attacking it would be a bit like taking on China, and in terms of strategic challenge not that different from invading Russia.

I would further point out that the forces of the west are currently being churned in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that both Britain and the United States are near bankruptcy, just in case any armchair warriors or Humpty the Grumpy Numpties out there want another fascistic war.

Iran has links to the pirates in Somalia, it funds and arms Hamas, it can raise networks of terrorism and strike as a state across the Mediterranean and across Europe.

Localise the Fateh-Hamas war and play it by proxy; pursue a two-state solution in public; run defense operations in a clandestine manner--all of these programmes if given as orders would make sense.

But start a Persian war under cover of upholding UN resolutions that come from a body no one in Israel can have that much time for, given the way Israel has been isolated within it? In defiance of an American administration probably willing to throw you over the side? Come on.

I understand the frustration, but I can't believe that lashing out will do anything other than get Jews and a whole lot of other people killed.

The Truth: Far Worse Than The Truthers

Despite being an outspoken opponent of the 9/11 conspiracy theorists, George Galloway had on his programme last night, and will be having on it again this evening, one Tom Kylie. Building Seven, on the BBC fifteen minutes before it happened, you know the sort of thing.

But if the world is a conspiracy, then it is a remarkably unsuccessful conspiracy.

And in the case of 11th September 2001, the truth is far worse than a mere inside job.

That day was indeed the happiest day in the life of George Bush: at last, something that could be used to bring about his otherwise inconceivable second term as President.

And also in the lives of the neocons whose unwitting, because witless, puppet he was: at last, an excuse to take out Iraq, Iran, Syria... Anywhere but the real culprit, the country that funds both the Bushes and the Clintons.

But this was not because of any sort of conspiracy. Rather, it was because, in their own terms, they had suddenly found themselves lucky beyond their wildest dreams.

Yes, it really was, and it really is, as bad as that.