Sunday, 31 January 2010

As We Really Are

Fifty per cent of us want public spending kept as it is, only eight per cent want cuts.

And we want the law against cannabis to be enforced properly.

So, who do we vote for?

Fair Access To Work

I have been sent the following:


Unemployed workers to demonstrate and deliver proof uncovered at Staythorpe at offices of Alstom, ECIA and Lord Mandelson and Rally to demand end to employers lies about underpayment and exploitation in Engineering Construction

Unemployed engineering construction workers will travel to London on Wednesday 3rd February from all parts of UK to stage protest demonstrations outside the offices of Alstom, the Engineering Construction Industry Association (ECIA) and Lord Mandelson Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and to attend a rally to demand an end to employers lies about underpayment and exploitation in Engineering Construction.

This follows a full audit of Italian sub contractors Somi, working for main contractor Alstom at the Staythorpe Power station construction site in Nottinghamshire, which uncovered that Somi has been underpaying employees by 1,300 Euros per month. See Notes to Editors 1 below for full details.

The details of the rally and demonstrations are as follows:

From 11.00am rally to assemble
Old Palace Yard
London SW1 P 3JY

At 11 .00am protest demonstration outside Alstrom office
175 High Holborn
London WC1V 7AA

At 11.30am protest demonstration outside Lord Mandelson's office
Business, Innovation and Skills Department
1 Victoria Street
London SW1 H 0ET

At 12.00 noon protest demonstration outside ECIA office
Broadway House
5 Tothill Street
London SW1 H 9NS
From 12.30 pm (delegations return from above 3 protests) Rally at
Old Palace Yard
London SW1 P 3JY

Speakers to include Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary, Phil Davies GMB National Secretary for Engineering Construction and Rally to be chaired by Phil Whitehurst GMB lead organizer Engineering Construction plus other guest speakers

Paul Kenny GMB General Secretary said “GMB has on numerous occasions advised employers and Government that undercutting is happening. GMB said that the only reason employers were bringing in overseas labour while local labour was on the dole was because they were paying them less. The findings at Staythorpe, but also concrete evidence at Isle of Grain and Lindsay Oil Refinery sites, demonstrates that some employers set out to undermine the national agreement not only on pay but also on safe construction.

Alstrom, the ECIA and Lord Mandelson all denied that undercutting was happening. GMB now insists that heads should roll, that undercutting should stop and that the unemployed UK workforce be put to work.

These protests are to say clearly that we will not be fobbed off any more. Lord Mandelson should return to the House of Lords with a new statement correcting that which he gave last year. (See par 4 in note 1 below)

Contacts: Phil Whitehurst on 07968 338810 or Phil Davies, GMB National Secretary on 07850 966465 Andy Fletcher Regional Organiser 07966 327984 / 01476 591870 Les Dobbs 07966 327967 / 01162510922 or

The Gaffer..............................

The Return of IDS

He may not have had the wit to oppose the Iraq War, but this great campaigner for social justice and national sovereignty has long been on record as not caring which party implements his ideas, as long as they are implemented. He belongs in the Cabinet. It is just a pity that that would be a Cameron Cabinet, mercifully unlikely to happen anyway.

Truly Astonishing

David Davis writes:

Tony Blair is truly astonishing. He is summoned to the Chilcot inquiry to answer questions, and instead he poses his own: "What if I had not invaded Iraq? Where would we be then?"

Put to one side the astonishing insensitivity of saying such a thing in a room in which at least 20 people could have replied: "My son would still be alive today." Let us answer his question.

And let us not be too prissy about it. He will not have been the first war leader to use secrecy and subterfuge to attain his ends. But he will be the first that I know of who bullied his attorney general, ignored his legal advisers, deluded his cabinet and dissembled to the House of Commons and the public to get his way.

Even if we accept that he felt he was acting in the public interest, these acts alone did enormous harm to that interest. He believes that weapons of mass destruction and state-sponsored terrorism are threats to modern society. So they are. Now consider how likely parliament or public are to believe any future prime minister if he says: "I have compelling intelligence of an imminent threat to this country."

So, by his excessive reaction to a non-existent threat, he has crippled the capability of future democratic governments to respond robustly to a real threat. He told the Chilcot inquiry that his perception and assessment of the risks posed by Iraq changed after 9/11. But that assessment was naive, ignorant, careless and inconsistent.

It was naive because there was no prior indication of links between Saddam and al-Qaida. Indeed there was evidence of hostility between them. It was ignorant because it ignored the known fact that there were a number of alternative bolt holes for al-Qaida in the many failed and dysfunctional states in the region, so shutting down one would not handicap them at all. It was careless because it took no account of the cause célèbre that invasion handed to Islamist fundamentalists the world over, and the recruiting sergeant for terrorism that it created in this country. It was inconsistent because he did few of the other things that this new threat demanded. In particular, he did not materially increase the size of our security services until 2004, nearly three years later, and too late to stop the 7/7 bombings. Unfortunately, the naivety did not stop there.

I suspect that, when they presented the "dodgy dossier", he and his advisers believed it. They appeared to have no grasp of the will-o'-the-wisp nature of much intelligence data. When I was the non-proliferation minister in the previous government, I saw weekly intelligence assessments of Iraq's capabilities and intentions. It was always clear that this intelligence was patchy and incomplete, like most intelligence on hostile nations.

Indeed, when Blair assured the House of Commons of the existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), I assumed that we had acquired access to live data from a human source in place. Nothing else explained his confidence. It now transpires that his access was no greater than ours four years earlier. Possibly less.

Similarly naive was Blair's approach to warfare as an arm of state policy. When Margaret Thatcher was considering military action to retake the Falklands, the people who were most cautions were the Whitelaws, Carringtons and Pyms, who had seen warfare first hand. They had witnessed young men being burned and shattered by the weapons of modern warfare. They had no illusions about the hideous human cost.

Blair's concept of war seems pure Hollywood. He seems to forget the vast numbers of innocent casualties; the collateral damage and destruction; the pain, hunger and disease that are the fellow travellers of military action.

How else do we explain the cavalier carelessness with which he treated the follow-through to military action? He was told by the Ministry of Defence that there was no "phase four", the reconstruction and rebuilding of the nation that should have followed the invasion if there was to be any moral justification for "regime change".

Of all the people in the world, Blair was the one best placed to insist to George W Bush that the Americans take this seriously. At the very least, it should have been the price of our co-operation. Yet there is no evidence that he lifted a finger.

The result? One hundred thousand civilian casualties in Iraq. Even if we accept Blair's aims – and I did – there is no excuse for a British government to behave in this simplistic, careless, almost blinkered way.

Sometimes it is necessary for governments to spend lives, but when they do they should take very special care over both their aims and their methods. They should never spend any lives unnecessarily, and never spend one life more than necessary.

The final price of this war is not yet settled. It has not destroyed the morale of al-Qaida; if anything, it has given it a new moral cause. It distracted us from Afghanistan – the necessary war – and has rendered it a thousand times more difficult to resolve. And it has taken the west from a position of moral superiority to moral failure.

Where would we be without your war, Tony Blair? Even by your own criteria, in a rather better position than we are now, I fear.

Why is this great man not Leader of the Opposition? He lost when far more people than could possibly have been eligible (where had they been for the previous 10 or 12 years?) voted for a complete unknown who had been heavily promoted by the BBC.

Why Blair Liked Wars

It is amazing how many on the Right are still forgiving of Blair over his wars, seeing them as the only good things that he ever did and as somehow not of a piece with the rest of his record.

Blair liked wars because they cost taxpayers vast sums of money. You might argue that the taxpayers should simply have been able to keep that money. Or you might argue that it should have been spent on fighting want, ignorance, ill health, idleness and squalor. But either way, you cannot argue for spending it on wars instead, if at all avoidable.

Blair liked wars because they are morally and socially disruptive. Everything to do with the Swinging Sixties started during the War. Just ask anyone of that generation. My late father always made that point in the Eighties, when Margaret Thatcher was on about the Sixties: she was right, but it really all went back to the War, when there was an epidemic of venereal disease, when London's and other cities' parks were turned on VE Night into giant outdoor orgies worthy of (indeed, surpassing) anything to come in the summer of 1968, and so much else besides.

Blair liked wars because he believed in making the world anew to some academic blueprint, or in his case to its vulgarisation for consumption by the uncultured likes of him.

And Blair liked wars because they create new enemies and entrench or embitter old ones, thus creating future threats, which lead to further expensive, morally and socially disruptive, make-the-world-anew wars.

Sometimes a war is inescapable, such as when our territory is invaded. But we are neither fighting nor facing any such war today. Nor were we at any point in Tony Blair's Premiership. Indeed, we have not been since 1982.

The Ugly Game

Oh, give me a break! Of course footballers are not moral examples, any more than they are intellectual examples or examples of unostentatious good taste. Expect the telly and the pubs to be ruined all summer in genuflection to these illiterates, drunks, junkies, thugs and sex maniacs. And to their husbands.

People have had it out with me on here in the past for daring to criticise that “working-class” game, with its season tickets so obviously pitched at the manual labouring market. Well, each England player’s new strip is bespoke – measured for, and then run up by, a Savile Row tailor. Each new member of the squad now goes through this, as a sort of initiation. What a touching act of solidarity in the current economic climate.

I sometimes wonder why the really big Premiership clubs still bother with football. They are so rich that they could name a “squad” of simple beneficiaries of some sort of trust fund. The fashion, the glamour, the gossip, the drugs, the drink, the sex, the lot could then just carry on as before, with no need for training sessions or what have you. Who would be able to tell the difference? The pricing of the working classes out of football, its legendarily bad treatment of its staff, and its use as a sort of circus of performing chavs as there might be performing seals or the performing monkeys like which they are now even trussed up, cannot be tolerated for ever. Or, indeed, for very much longer at all.

If you are still minded to describe football as “the sport of the working man” or whatever, then you need look no further than Sunderland away to Portsmouth last May. On a Monday evening. The evening of a normal working day, followed by another normal working day. There was no possibility of getting back to Sunderland any time before five o’clock on the Tuesday morning. It would have been on the Saturday, and many people had already paid for accommodation in Portsmouth that night. But it was moved. On the orders of Setanta.

Ah, the beautiful game…

Builded Here?

The Epping Forest BNP is apparently holding Sunday services, with about eighty congregants and with the collections of around five hundred pounds donated to party funds. They sing Jerusalem.

I am pretty sure that it is illegal to give the contents of a church collection plate to a political party.

And the reason that Jerusalem is appropriate for the Women's Institute, a purely secular organisation, is precisely that it is not a hymn.

Don't Ban Bindel

Bea Campbell defends Julie Bindel. Regular readers may have guessed that lesbian feminism is not really my thing. But Bindel's is a hugely important voice against pornography, in favour of criminalising the purchase of sex (although I'd also ban its sale, with exactly equal sentencing), against anonymity for those accused of rape (but nor should adult accusers enjoy anonymity), and in favour of the simple scientific fact that you can cut up the tissue any way you like but the chromosomes cannot change.

Out Of The Ordinariate

I don't know what the Queen is reportedly so worried about. Most of the people at whom it is aimed are in India, and have not been in the Anglican Communion (in which, as such, the Crown has no role and never has had) since 1970, or in many cases since 1947.

A Wandering Aramean

Rageh Omaar does Abraham, all the way back to Ur of the Chaldees.

There are still Chaldeans. Look them up.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Occasion'd By The Lyes And Scandals

Today is the anniversary of the execution of Charles I. In sillier circles, this imposition of the greatest tyranny in English (never mind Irish) history is termed “the English Revolution”.

In fact, of course, it long preceded the emergence of any industrial proletariat and is wholly inexplicable in Marxist terms, just as is the very existence of any Marxist movement in, say, the Russia of 1917, or Albania, or China at least until very recent years, or Korea, or Vietnam, or Nepal, or Bengal, or Sri Lanka, or Ethiopia, or Zimbabwe, or Uganda, or Rwanda, or South Africa, or Cuba, or Peru, or Bolivia, or … well, make your own list. At their respective heights of Communism, certainly Spain, and arguably also Italy and even France, were standing contradictions of the whole theory.

If there is any truth at all in the Marxist analysis of history, then these things simply cannot be. I think we all know what follows from the fact that these things are.

But didn’t Charles I believe in the Divine Right of Kings? No, he did not. Or at least he certainly expressed no such view at his grotesque “trial” pursuant to a Bill of Attainder, and before eighty of his carefully selected parliamentary and military enemies under a second-rate lawyer, John Bradshaw, created “Lord President” because all the proper judges had fled London rather than have anything to do with the wretched proceedings.

There, Charles declared repeatedly that, by denying the authority of the “court” to try him, he was simply upholding the law as it then existed, including the liberties of the English people and the parliamentary institutions of the English State. No law permitted the trial of the monarch, he argued. On the contrary, the law of treason then in force provided for exactly the opposite, namely that any attack on the monarch’s person was itself an offence. Simply as a matter of fact, he was right.

And the subsequent behaviour of the Cromwellian regime fully vindicated him.

Gorau Tarian Cyfiawnder

And yes, I did have to look up what that one meant.

Anyway, will Don Touhig's successor be a Co-operator, a trade union stalwart and an ardent Unionist, and at least in the same spirit as that Papal Knight with Opus Dei connections?

Quite possibly. Just so long as the Labour Party is kept out of things. Where is - oh, what is the word I'm looking for? - the People's Voice?

Sub Cruce Salus

This motto doesn't actually have much to do with the post (or does it?), but I still find it rather impressive. Well done, North Down Borough Council.

Lady Sylvia Hermon has reiterated her opposition to the Tory link while also making it clear that she intends to contest what would on the mainland be her very safe Tory seat. The UUP will be requiring all its MPs in the next Parliament to take the Tory Whip, so it seems perfectly clear what it, now subsumed into mainland Toryism, has to do.

But what does that make Lady Hermon (actually the correct form in her case)? The New Labour candidate? Is North Down, with a Nationalist vote of barely four per cent, now a fight between a Tory, a New Labourite, and an Alliance Party Lib Dem? Is the DUP going to stand aside and allow that to happen?

NOW, Do You Notice Me?

Only a teenager who knows that the cash tap will never be turned off can really misbehave at Mummy and Daddy's expense. And America can only arm Taiwan with the only money that America still has, China's, because she knows that China will never call in the debt, having spent five thousand years deliberately indebting other countries beyond anything that they could possibly pay off. But what if, just this once, Mummy and Daddy stopped paying? And what if, just this once, China called in the debt?

Don't Go Wilders

He is no martyr.

The Wilders-Fortuyn tradition is actually the same as the sort of thing now being put out by the likes of the National Secular Society, opposed to immigration by Poles because they are orthodox Catholics, or by African Pentecostals simply as Pentecostals, rather than to the practical consequences of mass immigration as such, or to the subversion of Christendom by Islam.

Wilders is opposed to welfare provision and other public services, to full employment and workers' rights, and to the classically Christian basis of the State and of the wider culture. The Muslims are not his real target; on the contrary, both mass immigration itself and a particularly virulent challenge to Christianity are very useful to him. His real targets are the orthodox Catholics and the small but very strong conservative Protestant "pillar" (one of whose parties, though not the other, has a growing appeal among African immigrants).

He is not without his equivalents in Britain. We have been warned.

Jon Cruddas: One To Watch

In bad ways as well as good. He used Any Questions to praise the invasion of Kosovo. He should have been Deputy Leader; just look at who is. He is very good. But might someone else be even better?

The Privacy Law

If the current judicially imposed arrangement on privacy were enacted into the statute law, but with the burden of proof in libel actions placed on the plaintiff, then who could object to that? And why?

We could then spare our objections for facts such as that John Terry, rather than Tony Blair, is on the front pages of today's Daily Mail, Sun, Daily Telegraph and Mirror.

Dress Code

I don't blame Tesco for banning customers in night attire, just as I don't blame primary heads who have had to send letters home asking that mothers leaving and collecting their offspring not do so pyjama-clad. I blame those who are now claiming that this practice, completely unheard of 15 years ago, is somehow part of "working-class culture". What, not getting dressed? Since when? The very opposite used to be the case. But then, in those days, there really was a working-class culture. Since, in those days, there really was work.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Round Two

George Galloway has spotted the howlers, and has written to Chilcot requesting to be heard.

Tehran Tony

Thank God for Gordon Brown.

Blair, you may recall, is the Middle East Peace Envoy.

Four Into One

As I write, a rally is being held at an East Belfast Orange Hall, probably announcing David Vance as the Traditional Unionist Voice candidate to take on Peter Robinson (who is bound to lose his seat to someone, it merely remains to be seen to whom, exactly), and certainly addresed by Vance, by Party Leader Jim Allister, and by Party President Willie Ross.

Vance was previously Deputy to the arch-integrationist Bob McCartney in the United Kingdom Unionist Party, and Ross, in his days as UUP Chief Whip at Westminster, was Chairman of the Northern Ireland Committee of the Monday Club. Even Allister, erstwhile Paisley protégé, is now opposed to the devolution of Policing and Justice in terms that are really opposed to devolution itself.

The DUP is now effectively led by one of the integrationist asylum-seekers from David Trimble, but even he is now an active Conservative Party Peer, while Lady Sylvia Hermon is for all practical purposes a New Labour MP. The DUP is offering a free run, in two seats where such a candidate is bound to be the first past the post, to a UUP now subsumed into mainland Toryism.

Suddenly, integrationism is the new black, to the point of being on the brink of taking Northern Ireland's most westerly seat straight from Sinn Féin. And all just as the Assembly seems set to collapse, leading to the reintroduction of direct rule at everything short of the explicit public request of Dublin.

When, and it is surely now "when", direct rule is reintroduced, then it should be accompanied by an Act applying all Westminster legislation to Northern Ireland unless, within a suitably brief time, it is specifically disapplied by a suitably weighted majority, perhaps sixty per cent, of the Assembly. That would keep out the likes of abortion, which would never have been introduced anywhere in the United Kingdom if the Kingdom had not been partitioned in 1922, but which would exist throughout these Islands if Sinn Féin had its way.

The Assembly would continue to exist for that purpose, and for the purpose of a fortnightly, or if possible weekly, Question Time with the Secretary of State, but for no purpose beyond those two. If it made people feel better to call this a temporary arrangement, then so be it. But in practice, it would be no such thing.

Something similar would probably secure majority support within the minority that would vote at all in any referendum on the matter in Wales. In fact, rather more people than would otherwise bother might very well turn out specifically to vote for this, at least if it also contained the right to enact subordinate legislation subject to ratification by both Houses of Parliament and Royal Assent, as the General Synod of the Church of England also relates to the Crown in Parliament.

And Scotland? The devolution legislation presupposes that the Parliament of the United Kingdom should continue to legislate overridingly in all policy areas, if perhaps not quite so frequently. People who think that they were voting for something else in the devolution referendum are like people who think that they were voting for "a free trade area" called "the Common Market". That is simply not what the legislation itself says. So, let that legislation be implemented in full.

In the coming hung Parliament, it will be, with Tory, Lib Dem and indeed Labour MPs from the Highlands, Islands and Borders happily accepting Westminster's attention to their local communitarian populist causes, also the stance of their brethren from North, Mid and West Wales: "If Holyrood or Cardiff won't deliver, but Westminster will in return for our votes in the tight divisions several times per night, then Westminster is welcome to do so, the Government is therefore welcome to our votes, and the SNP and Plaid Cymru are welcome to try and explain how this is what we have to do in order to get anything done in our localities."

In fact, Plaid Cymru might even adopt the same approach. On such a basis, both of its MPs voted against the SNP with a view to saving the Callaghan Government in 1979, just as two Ulster Unionists did, whereas both Irish Nationalists abstained.

Keep Your Friends Close...

Nick Clegg is half right. Every American Administration since the Forties has been in favour of a United Europe. That’s why there is one, and that’s why we are in it. The British neocons of the Henry Jackson Society call in their Statement of Principles for a single EU defence “capability” under overall American control, though run day-to-day by Germany, to which white America has her closest ethnic ties.

America has also always been in favour of a United Ireland within NATO and the EU, and the CIA funded the height of the IRA bombing campaign accordingly; there are serious question marks over the deaths of Lord Mountbatten, Robert Bradford and Airey Neave. Legislation for the forced incorporation of Canada has been on the American statute book since the nineteenth century. The Founding Fathers did of course assume that they would get the whole of what was then British territory in the Americas, from the Arctic to Barbados. America has never given up on that aspiration, the end of numerous Commonwealth Realms and British Overseas Territories, which latter’s politicians she loses no opportunity to flatter as if they were independent, no matter what their British people may think. They would not be independent for long, if at all.

One could go on.

We will never again be independent across the Channel unless and until we decide again to be independent across the Atlantic. We need to look to the example of the man who initially kept us out, a very great man indeed, who opposed all four of Nazi occupation, Soviet infiltration, American domination, and the unbalancing of the nascent EU against his country’s interests by means of British accession. All the while, he promoted proper welfare provision, workers’ and consumers’ protection, agriculture, manufacturing, small business, co-operative models of ownership, the gold standard, traditional Christian morality, and continuing ties to the former Empire, and he seriously considered restoring the monarchy. Oh, yes, a very great man indeed.

Where is ours?

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The homosexualist lobby wanted Clinton, anyway. They, and with them their clients in the Clinton camp, were furious at the presence on the Obama team of Donnie McClurkin, an ex-gay gospel singer.

Obama has never made any secret of his view that marriage is only ever the union of one man and one woman. And he needs the votes of the majorities in California and Florida, which re-affirmed that position on the same day as they gave him their Electoral College votes, a lot more than he needs however many, or few, the “gay advocacy” lobby may be able to deliver.

This change, rather superfluous in itself, seems particularly ill-timed when America is fighting two wars. To which the solution is: end the wars.

Obama Goes Nuclear

With my emphasis added:

Is nuclear power ready for a resurgence? President Obama received standing applause, from both sides of the political aisle, when he called Wednesday in his State of the Union Address for a "new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants."

Obama reiterated his support for developing solar cells, clean coal and biofuel technology and for giving Americans rebates to improve their homes' energy efficiency. He then added:

To create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.

As other countries, including the United Kingdom, push to open new nuclear power plants, industry lobbyists have been encouraging the Obama administration to do the same -- with some apparent success.

Nuclear power has long put environmentalists in a tricky spot. While its plants produce carbon-free power, their operation and the long-term storage of their spent fuel rods pose safety questions.

The United States has not added a new commercial nuclear power plant in decades. Still, for the last 20 years, its 104 existing plants have produced nearly 20% (19.6% in 2008) of the nation's electricity despite increased demand, according to the Department of Energy. In contrast, wind and solar combined produce less than 5%.

The Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, a group co-chaired by former New Jersey governor Christine Tood Whitman that favors nuclear power, is urging the United States to build dozens of new commercial nuclear power plants. Whitman has said that 32 new ones have been proposed.

In recent weeks, senior Obama administration officials have offered support to the nuclear industry.

Carol Browner, director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy, in an online video chat streamed live Jan. 11 on said:

The president believes that nuclear needs to be a part of our energy future. I think if you believe, as we do, that climate change is a serious problem, it's a problem that needs to be addressed, then you need to be open to all the ways in which we can produce energy in a clean manner. And so nuclear obviously is one of those. We have been working with the nuclear industry to understand exactly what it is they need. We have not build a nuclear plant in this country in a long time. But we want to work with the industry, to make that happen in the not too distant future.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Jan. 21, made a similar comment:

The White House is supportive of nuclear. We see this as part of the solution. …Right now 20% of our electricity is from nuclear; we would like to maintain that, possibly grow that. For that reason we are working aggressively to help restart the American nuclear industry with loan guarantees with research in the out years that will lead to more advanced, safer nuclear power.

In his State of the Union Address, Obama also called for Congress' final passage of a "comprehensive energy and climate" bill, acknowledging its costs and public doubts about global warming. He added:

But here's the thing -- even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future -– because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.


Many thanks to Ed West for this in The Catholic Herald:

A Catholic former Labour Party member disillusioned by its perceived anti-life, anti-family stance is to stand against a Labour candidate selected as part of a women-only shortlist.

David Lindsay, a Lay Dominican and college tutor at Durham University, will stand as an Independent against Pat Glass in the Labour stronghold of North West Durham, and has urged Christians across the country to do likewise.

A practising Catholic, Mr Lindsay describes himself as "pro-life, pro-family, pro-worker and anti-war, with a political philosophy derived from Catholic Social Teaching and heavily influenced by the Distributism of Chesterton, Belloc and their associates."

North West Durham is traditionally a strongly Catholic constituency, both Recusant and Irish, and is home to Ushaw College and close to the Passionist monastery at Minsteracres. Labour has won the seat at every Election since 1950 and has not fallen below 50 per cent since the Tory landslide of 1983.

But the party's decision to enforce an all-female shortlist caused an outcry. Constituency chairman Joe Armstrong said he refused to take part in the selection process because the National Executive Committee "held a gun to our heads".

For the record, I am still in formation as a Lay Dominican due to surgical interruptions, although I am certainly going to do it. This seat has only existed since 1987, so that it has only ever had one MP, who is now retiring and whose majority has gone down at every Election except the Labour landslide of 1997; in 2005, an Independent took more votes than that reduction.

By Monday morning, The Northern Cross will be aware that it has been completely bypassed on this matter at local level. We will also be watching that registered charity very closely where other candidates are concerned. Quite who at least one of those other candidates is going to be, remains to be seen: is the NEC really going to ratify a (presumably pro-life) Catholic included on an all-women shortlist against the party's own rules? If so, then why? Surely not "to stop David Lindsay"? As much as anything else, it would not have that effect.

Or does Pat not hold the pro-life, pro-family, pro-worker and anti-war views that, as one practising Catholic to another, I had simply assumed that she did? Questions of public scandal and the Sacraments then arise. If she does hold orthodox Catholic views, then some Green or whatever will be put up as a radical feminist and militant homosexualist alternative; I know that for a fact. Over to the NEC, I feel.

There are no unassailable Labour areas any more. Last time, South Wales returned the late Peter Law in the old constituency of Bevan and Foot, where he has now been succeeded by Dai Davies, Campaign Group ally, veteran supporter of the ferociously Eurosceptical and Unionist left-winger Llew Smith, and champion of traditional Christian values, who has every expectation of being re-elected.

The East End returned George Galloway, whose radio programme tonight will be unmissable, and who may hang around with the wrong sort from time to time, but who is himself a pro-life Catholic of the Old Labour variety. Due to boundary changes, he will either take Attlee's old seat or give it to the Tories. Here's to the former.

If Liverpool does not send back Bob Wareing - Campaign Group opponent both of embryonic stem cell "research" and of the neoconservative war agenda going all the way back to Yugoslavia - then it will come very close to doing so, and may balk only at his age. I very much hope that that does not happen.

Where does that leave? Really only the North East, and especially County Durham.

Judgement Call

Oh, for Fern Britton, who might ask him some questions.

Andrew Gilligan uses this week's Spectator to suggest finding Blair in contempt of Parliament and expelling him from the Privy Council. There are also calls for him and his accomplices to be disbarred.

All of these things should happen. But, apart from the first one, they should happen as a consequence of his criminal conviction. Not before some international court of dubious legitimacy. But before the courts of law of his country, the country from which he issued his illegal orders.


When not suggesting that the children of hoi polloi, with whom he would appear to have scant acquaintance, were all like the Edlington Two, Douglas Murray made himself Question Time's poster boy for violent lawlessness on the most enormous scale.

"Kosovo was illegal, Bosia was illegal", he squealed in defence of the illegal war in Iraq, something that at least he made no attempt to deny that he was. Well, yes. They were. Not only that, but we fought them, if we had to at all, on the wrong side.

Still, he did manage to needle Jenny Tonge about the record of the Lib Dems as cheerleaders for the illegal, and disastrous, dismemberment of Yugoslavia in the days when Labour and the Tories were still led by rather more serious figures than Blair and his Heir.

Disenchanted Brothers

And very disenchanted sisters.

So successfully have we "liberated" Afghanistan, that battered wives are setting fire to themselves in order to escape their pitiful existences.

If they happen to belong to those ethnic groups that are Shi'ite, then they can now be raped within marriage without any crime being committed.

Farmers are selling their daughters in order to pay off their debts to the opium barons whom we have supposedly cleared out.

And the "Taliban" are being put, Sinn Fein-like, on the payroll, even though Sinn Fein is an identifiable organisation and subculture, whereas the "Taliban" are simply Pashtun nationalists who are ultraconservative in their Islam, and have no existence apart from the Pashtun as a whole.

Oh, well, clearly it is now all hands on deck against Iran...

Failure To Act In The Interests Of Children

Doing as the doctors tell me is what keeps me alive, and what will continue to keep me alive. But offering the three separate jabs for measles, mumps and rubella for those whose parents do not want the MMR, even though I have no doubt that they are wrong about it, is not offering some sort of quackery as an alternative to medicine. So why not do so? The work of education could then go on. But without childhood epidemics of measles, mumps or rubella.

Françaises Français! Aidez-lui!

Sarkozy needs a proper Gaullist - a One Nation politician, with an equal emphasis on the One and on the Nation - to challenge him for President. Such a candidate would also be good for the one or more Socialists in the fray. It is quite clear who that can and will now be. Dominique de Villepin.

Not For Sale At Any Price

As Ross Perot used to say.

Obama is right, of course. Not only about nuclear power and about offshore drilling. But also that the lifting of restrictions on corporate funding of political campaigns means that foreign companies can now buy American elections. Foreign companies, moreover, are often nothing other than foreign states, as such.

You can have the "free" market. Or you can have, among so much else, national sovereignty. You cannot have both.

So, which does the Republican Party want? And why?

Making A Mockery

Mock The Week did a very unusual thing last night. It picked on someone who might have been able to fight back. Specifically, Gordon Brown. Cameron supporters, ask yourselves what it is about your hero, that people like those want him to win.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Going, Going, Gone

No surprise here:

The British government is seeking to raise more cash by selling its 71.5 billion-pound ($116 billion) stake in three crippled banks than Margaret Thatcher generated by disposing of state-owned businesses during her entire 11 years in office.

From 1979 to 1990, then-Prime Minister Thatcher’s three administrations privatized more than 20 companies, including British Gas and British Airways. The total raised would now be worth about 68.5 billion pounds, adjusted for inflation, according to accounting firm Ernst & Young.

Privatisation was never about economics. To achieve her social aims, she happily flogged things off at absurdly reduced prices, losing this country eye-watering sums of money. So out went expressions and guarantees of national sovereignty; we must be the only country on earth that permits foreign states, as such, to own our nuclear power stations and our electricity supplies. Out went safeguards of the Union, often with the word “British” in their names. Out went providers of the secure, high-wage, high-skilled, high-status employment that underwrites paternal authority in the family and in the wider community.

And that is before we even begin to consider the sale of council housing, which even her most stalwart defenders are usually too embarrassed to mention. The State simply gifted considerable capital assets to people so that they entered the housing market ahead of private tenants who had saved for their deposits. And it created for itself the whole Housing Benefit racket, which even if it were fraud-free (and it is anything but) would still be colossally more expensive than just maintaining a stock of council housing and renting it out.

Still, Britain now has a living former Prime Minister who cannot visit at least 50 countries for fear of arrest, and whom a Radio Four presenter can call a war criminal on air without the BBC’s receiving a single complaint. For all her faults, that living former Prime Minister is not Margaret Thatcher.

Not Going Dutch

Predictable whingeing in certain quarters at the non-coverage of the trial of Geert Wilders. But nothing that happens in any foreign country except America receives much attention from the mainstream British media, which treat American stories as if they were internal British ones.

For example, leaving aside the merits or otherwise of the man himself or of his office, look at the way in which everyone in Britain reacted to the appointment of Herman Van Rumpuy with “Never heard of him”. The Prime Minister of a country headed by a monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and whose capital can be reached from London by train.

But then, we don’t even know about countries with which we share a Head of State. We don’t even know about the country with which we share a land border. We don’t know about any other country except one, and we refuse to accept that that really is a foreign country at all. At PMQs yesterday, William Hague repeatedly referred to Obama as “the President”, as one might say “the Prime Minister” or “the Queen”.

I thought that that was what you neocons liked.

The Trial of The Century

Of what are we to witness the beginning tomorrow? Nothing less than the calling to account of the last great monster of The Bloody Century, which began in 1914. He is worse than Bush, having started before 2001.

No, of course he is not as bad as Hitler, although if you do as people usually do and concentrate only on those victims of one particular Nazi crime among many who happened to belong to one category among many, then Blair's half a dozen entirely voluntary wars probably double the six million figure, and certainly come very close to doing so.

And no, of course he is not as bad as Stalin or Mao. But is that really supposed to be any sort of praise? If the numbers game is the game that we are playing, then he far, far surpasses numerous reviled figures who are now beyond reach: Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein (who would in any case have been dead by now). The remaining likes of Robert Mugabe and even Kim Jong-il barely register next to Blair's global reign of terror. The deaths at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or in the Allied carpet-bombing of Hitler's Catholic and Social Democratic opponents, are as the tiniest drops to Blair's ocean of blood.

Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Amin and Pol Pot were never tried. Bush, Mugabe and Kim almost certainly never will be. Saddam's "trial" was unworthy of the name. For them, and for so many others besides, only one figure stands substitute, and very deservedly so. Blair has it coming, anyway. But there will be no harm in also requiring him to take it for the team. Only then and thus can we consign The Bloody Century to the history books.

Three Is The Magic Number

It seems right for ITV to be run jointly by the man from Asda and the man from the Royal Mail. ITV is commercial, yet somehow not quite part of the private sector, exactly. It has a unique position in the nation’s life and hearts, hence that 3 button on every remote control in the land.

To which it has no divine right. Which is to say, no divine right to exist at all.

Just how many people watch television on the Internet compared to the number of people who watch television on the television? Just which digital channel has anything remotely approaching ITV’s viewing figures? And has no one noticed how massively dependent on terrestrial television is digital television for its content? Yet this immensely privileged commercial network expects public money to provide such basics as regional news, and children's programmes.

It is very high time to re-regionalise ITV under a combination of municipal and mutual ownership, and to apply that same model (but with central government replacing local government, subject to very strict parliamentary scrutiny) to Channel Four.

I say again, there is no divine right to that 3 button. Nor, come to that, to the 4 button or the 5 button.

Better Than What Has Replaced Them

Peter Hitchens writes:

Take my posting of 17th January 2007 (1.52 pm) still reachable on the archives:

‘I don't propose a crude return to the pre-1965 world. I favour the German system, of selection in consultation between parents, teachers and pupils, with those who feel they have been wrongly assessed being allowed two years to prove themselves in grammar schools, and the possibility of late transfers. I'd add that being compelled, by inexorable fate, to attend a bog-standard comprehensive because you live in its catchment area is much crueller than being compelled to go to a secondary modern because you failed a reasonably fair exam. The secondary moderns were not that good (more on this later) but they were in many cases better than modern comprehensives.’

On page 145 of 'The Broken Compass’, which contains my most complete statement of position on this subject in the chapter 'The Fall of the Meritocracy' I say of the 'reformers' who smashed up the grammar schools: ‘They might have called for the building of more grammar schools...they might have offered a second chance to transfer at 13...they might have put one tenth of the effort into improving the secondary moderns that they would later put into creating and building huge new comprehensives. They might have created the missing technical schools which this country still needs so badly. They did none of those things.’

I then repeat the anecdote of Randolph Churchill's operation to remove a non-malignant growth, and Evelyn Waugh's joke that the doctors had found the only non-malignant part of Randolph Churchill and removed it - a joke I often tell to illustrate the following point; that there were undoubtedly major faults in pre-1965 secondary state education, but that these were not solved by destroying the one part of the system that actually worked.

I have several times drawn attention to the fact that, by the time they were abolished, a significant number of Secondary Moderns were teaching to 'A' level and getting their pupils into university.

And so on.

He goes on:

Wrecking the grammar schools took from everyone, and gave to nobody. Standards in general in British secondary education, state and private, fell disastrously and will probably never recover, inflicting permanent national damage. Within an inferior system, the comparatively better schools (though few if any were of the standards now lost) were henceforth reserved for the better-off, with the poor entirely excluded from advancement though education. Selection on merit had been replaced by selection through money, parental ingenuity and clout. The research of John Marks (The Betrayed Generation) shows that secondary modern pupils in a selective system (he used Northern Ireland as his model, still a functioning selective system, unlike the distorted patchy survivals in parts of England from which little can be learned) did better than comparable pupils in a fully comprehensive system.

As Big Brother limps on, think of the people you know who went to Secondary Moderns, and consider that if their children and grandchildren had had the same opportunities, then it would never have made it beyond series one, or even been commissioned at all. Never mind who would have watched it. Who would have appeared in it?

Grammar schools delivered higher standards across the board, and continue to do so in the few places fortunate enough still to have them, notably Kent, where the campaign against Thatcher’s comps was for so long spearheaded by the late Eric Hammond. Sending fifty per cent of people to university in nothing new in Northern Ireland; by definition, they cannot all have gone to grammar schools. No one seriously expects this to survive the imposition of comprehensivisation there by Peter Hain as a punishment.

Comprehensivisation has been, and remains, much beloved of the nastiest, most tribal Tories. It saved mercantile schools, and it is still what keeps ninety per cent of them in business. It also suits the intensely nasty and tribal New Labour down to the ground, allowing them to pretend to be sending to children to “comprehensive” schools when in fact the institutions in question are indistinguishable from their profit-driven counterparts, on account (so to speak) of tiny catchment areas within which house prices are out of this world, or complicated feeder primary arrangements, or so many other dastardly devices.

Ministerial defence of the grammar schools came from “Red Ellen” Wilkinson of the Jarrow Crusade, and from George Tomlinson. Academic defence came from Sidney Webb and R H Tawney. Vigorous practical defence came from Labour councillors and activists around the country, not least while Thatcher, as Education Secretary, was closing so many that there were not enough left at the end for her record ever to be equalled. Of Kent and Eric Hammond, we have already spoken. The
Gymnasien were restored by popular demand, as soon as the Berlin Wall came down, in what is still the very left-wing former East Germany. And they were successfully defended by the general populace in the Social Democratic heartland of North Rhine-Westphalia.

This is a cause of the Left against Thatcherism and Blairism alike. Let us take it up as such.

Nil Desperandum Auspice Deo

Or something like that, anyway.

After today's job losses in Sunderland, consider not only that the new Sunderland Central seat is full of Tory wards, but also that it is likely to be the first to declare on Election night. Not that that will affect the outcome anywhere else, of course. But for the first result in to be a Tory gain in Sunderland will certainly give both presenters and guests no shortage of things to talk about.

What's that you say? The Tories closed down the pits, the steelworks and the shipyards in the North East? Well, yes, they did. A generation ago now. What has New Labour done for the North East in the 13 most recent years, whether absolutely or compared to, say, the City? The people of Sunderland Central look set to answer that one.

Although it was entirely unexpected, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when this region, alone in the country, still put Labour at the top of the poll in the European Elections. But it looks as if the battered wife is finally about to stop going back for more.

More Paternity Leave

Hardly anyone takes it as it is.

I am all in favour of paternity leave. But I cannot see why it should only be available so early in the child’s life. Especially if the child is still breast-feeding, what, with the best will in the world, is the father actually doing all day?

Whereas a teenager, in particular, might very well benefit enormously if his or her father were in a position to say, “That’s it, I’m taking that bit of paternity leave I’ve been owed all these years, and since I’m either back at work the following Monday morning or I lose my job, then this will be sorted out by that Sunday night at the latest, oh yes it will be!” And I do not only, perhaps not even primarily, mean a male teenager.

So let him be able to take it. And let there be a legal presumption of equal parenting, the restoration of the tax allowance to fathers for so long as Child Benefit is being paid to mothers, and the restoration of the requirement that the providers of fertility treatment take into account the child’s need for a father.

When I have written in the past about the first of these suggestions, there have many hostile reactions, even though it is apparently an expression of mainstream feminism (not something of which I am often accused). And I know why.

Yes, there is the fact that this would kill off a good skive. Just what is he doing while, in particular, the child is still being breastfed? I mean, apart from being paid? And yes, there is the fact that this is a challenge to one of the flagships or totems of New Labour smugness, namely paternity leave as presently arranged. They are terribly, terribly proud of having introduced it, and they simply assume, as is their wont, that everyone agrees with them. But there are three rather deeper reasons for my interlocutors’ ire.

One is that I want the ability to sit around watching the television and feeling self-satisfied while the wife changes nappies to be replaced with an ability, and thus a firm expectation, that proper paternal authority will be exercised, not least in adolescence.

The second is that that authority requires an economic basis, namely high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs such as only the State can ever guarantee, and such as very often only the State can deliver.

And the third is that I do not share, and cannot understand, the simple presupposition on the part of my critics that childbirth is some horrific freak occurrence, rather than something for which - now see if you can take this in - the female body is designed, so that women have been having babies for ever.

Putting Asunder

The fall in the divorce rate is obviously to be welcomed. But it has to be seen in the context of just how common divorce had become, and remains. Not least, this was and is because the Major Government made it legally easier than release from a car hire contract.

It is high time to entitle each divorcing spouse to one per cent of the other's estate for each year of marriage, up to fifty per cent, and to disentitle the petitioning spouse unless fault be proved.

It is high time to entitle any marrying couple to register their marriage as bound by the law prior to 1969 as regards grounds and procedures for divorce, and to enable any religious organisation to specify that any marriage which it conducts shall be so bound, requiring it to counsel couples accordingly.

And it is high time to legislate that the Church of England be such a body unless the General Synod specifically resolve the contrary by a two-thirds majority in all three Houses, and to do something similar for the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, which also exist pursuant to Acts of Parliament, as well as by amendment to the legislation relating to the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy.

That would be a start, anyway.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

London Calling

If you can make it to the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London, SW1P 3EE (nearest tube: Westminster) on Friday, there here is the timetable for all-day protest on Tony Blair's Judgement Day:

A delegation including Iraqi citizens and grieving military families take the People's Dossier of questions for Tony Blair to Sir John Chilcot.

When Blair's testimony begins, names of Iraqis killed in the war will be read by novelist A.L Kennedy, musician Brian Eno, actor and director Sam West, actor and director Simon McBurney, playwright David Edgar, Lancet editor Richard Horton, former UK ambassador Craig Murray, Iraqi author Haifa Zangana, comedian and author Alexei Sayle, actor Miriam Margolyes, and more.

Including by many of those participating in the Naming the Dead ceremony.

12.00-13.00: PERFORMANCES
Lowkey, King Blues and other musicians.

Members of military families who lost loved ones in the Iraq war will read the names of all 179 British soldiers who died.


Possessed of Compassion and Integrity

Phillip Blond and John Milbank write:

Traditional Toryism justified social inequality. Old Labour believed in equality of outcomes. But today both parties have eschewed their earlier approaches and aspire instead to "equality of opportunity". For Gordon Brown, it is "the whole of social justice"; indeed equalising opportunity has captured progressive thinking and legislation for the last 30 years.

However, as the report by the National Equality Panel published today makes clear, this approach has failed and needs to be radically called into question. Inequality has risen, not fallen. Over those three decades the net income ratio of the top 10% to the bottom 10% has risen by more than a quarter. Governments have tended to tackle income at the edges with minor acts of benefit increase, but the real unaddressed agenda is wealth and assets, and here the ratio is truly stupendous: the total household wealth of the richest 10% is virtually 100 times that of the poorest 10%. One can only conclude that equality of opportunity is an inadequate and incoherent approach.

Why inadequate? Primarily, because it will not benefit most people. By definition, the winners in life are few, the losers several, and the middle the majority. Those who fail to win in the socioeconomic race still make a crucial contribution in doing mundane but necessary jobs. They, as much as the winners, deserve a fulfilling life in accordance with their capacities. But the rhetoric of egalitarian opportunity means that everyone who doesn't succeed is defined as a failure. Such contempt reinforces and repeats inequality.

Why incoherent? Because where opportunity displaces outcome, the accident of birth is treated as if it was entirely analogous to the accident of race or gender. But it is not. Society and government can refuse race or gender prejudice simply by not being prejudicial. But class is not so easy: one can never entirely extract people from their ancestry and upbringing.

These problems reveal a yet deeper incoherence. Equality of opportunity is advanced by those who advocate a meritocracy. But no account of what is objectively valuable for a society based on merit is ever offered. Instead the victors of such social competitions often have no inherent social values at all – look at the vast rewards reaped by the traders in socially useless banks. Equality of opportunity is thus wholly synonymous with a market without morals and a meritocracy without merit.

Paradoxically, what we need is a new synthesis of the traditional left's emphasis on addressing economic inequity and the old right's concern with justified inequality. In terms of the former, it is impossible to provide equal opportunities for children without improving the existing outcomes of the lives of their parents. We need a new political economy that will distribute resources more evenly and give working people greater assets and confidence, thereby ensuring a better start for their children.

The modern left scarcely addresses this need. Instead, by vaguely implying that all inequality is bad, it remains impotent in the face of a persistent inequality that is both merited and unmerited. But common sense tells us that inherited inequality is in part the result of economic injustice and in part the result of disparities of intelligence, skill and application. Currently the left tends to admit the latter truth for future practice, but to deny it in their theoretical account of the past.

It can escape this contradiction by embracing the "old Tory" view that privilege is not just reward for success, but also a way of providing the appropriate resources for the wielding of power linked to virtue. By virtue we mean here a combination of talent, fitness for a specific social role, and a moral exercise of that role for the benefit of wider society.

If we could conceptualise justifiable inequality, the results would ironically be more egalitarian than a vague and hypocritical hostility to any inequality whatsoever. Why so? First, because many current inequalities would turn out to be unjustifiable and so a proper politics for their removal would emerge. Second, because the more we seek to link social and economic prestige with virtue, then the more we can hope for good financial and political leaders possessed of compassion and integrity.

The politics of equality of opportunity has licensed ever greater inequality; we need instead a more radical economic egalitarianism coupled with the recognition of a difference of roles and a hierarchy of excellence.

Liberty is the freedom to be virtuous, and to do anything not specifically proscribed. Equality is the means to liberty, and is never to be confused with mechanical uniformity; it includes the Welfare State, workers’ rights, consumer protection, local government, a strong Parliament, public ownership, and many other things. And fraternity is the means to equality, for example, among numerous that could be cited, in the form of trade unions, co-operatives, credit unions, mutual guarantee societies and mutual building societies.

Liberty, equality and fraternity are therefore inseparable from nationhood, a space in which to be unselfish. Thus from family, the nation in miniature, where unselfishness is first learnt. And thus from property, each family’s safeguard both against over-mighty commercial interests and against an over-mighty State, therefore requiring to be as widely diffused as possible, and thus the guarantor of liberty as here defined.

The family, private property and the State must be protected and promoted on the basis of their common origin and their interdependence, such that the diminishment or withering away of any one or two of them can only be the diminishment and withering away of all three of them.

Irish Elites

Jason Walsh on Irish as the elite language, just as in Wales, although he is wrong about Irish as a Catholic peculiarity in Northern Ireland, or as necessarily bound up with Nationalism.

His American readers probably assumed that, anyway. They might have appreciated, and benefited from, some mention, both of Nationalism's history of hostility towards Irish, and of the role of Unionists, notably Protestant clergy and the rector's son brought in as the first President of the Republic by the people who resented having been bounced into declaring it, in preserving the use of the old tongue. Yes, far more Catholics than Protestants speak Irish in Northern Ireland. But not many Catholics speak it.

Will elite status compromise the generous public funding of Irish? It has not had that effect on Welsh. Whether in London or in Brussels, the people who write the cheques do not have a clue.

And Jason Walsh again, on the impending announcement of a new party, economically and socially liberal, in the Irish Republic. What's that? Been tried before? What I want to know is, who is behind this? We all know who is behind the big three Irish parties as they stand. The Irish Labour Party in its present form, venerating the memory of James Connolly but sharing almost none of his objectives, is heavily funded by trade unions that exist throughout these islands and are headquartered over here. And that's just official funding.

Fine Gael and, if anything even more so, Fianna Fáil are not even takeovers early on, as in the Labour case. We can all see who was behind a merger in 1933 of the Blueshirts, Cumann na nGaedheal and the National Centre Party, complete with a commitment to Commonwealth membership (which in those days necessitated retention of the monarchy, and a very high degree of integration in foreign policy and defence), albeit for a United Ireland as the ultimate aim. Never mind a 1926 secession from Sinn Féin itself, which went on to hang the IRA. You see, there is always a price.

So, who is behind this new, neoliberal, neoconservative secession from, at least, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, and possibly Labour as well? Three guesses. And they would all be right. In which case, what is their price?

Tea Party Unpopulism

Leon T Hader has no surprises for those of us who know astroturfing when we see it:

The Republican win in the special Senate election in Massachusetts has been compared to a powerful earthquake that could transform U.S. politics as we know it, pointing to a forceful populist uprising that reflects the rage of the economically distressed and politically frustrated American voters who are ready to storm the barricades and get rid of the crooked politicians on Capitol Hill and the Fat Cats in Wall Street.

According to the conventional wisdom, much of this populist fury has been fostered by the members and the groups that constitute the Tea Party movement -- who had backed Republican Scott Brown in the Senate race in Massachusetts -- and have created a political backlash against the growing government intervention in the American economy under President Obama and the Congressional Democrats, that has taken the form of the bailouts of the big banks and the auto companies, the costly fiscal and monetary policies (the economic stimulus program and the injection of liquidity into the financial system), and of course, the much derided health-care reform plan.

It is not surprising that Americans who according to opinion polls are feeling worried about unemployment, the value of their homes, and the availability of credit are being energized to take political action. What is intriguing, however, is that at a time when the U.S. military has been fighting two very expansive wars in the Broader Middle East (Afghanistan and Iraq -- and soon perhaps another one with Iran) while terrorism continues to be seen as a threat to American security, the populist insurgents seem to have been relatively silent when it comes to dead-end American foreign policy and the high costs in blood and treasure of the never-ending U.S. global interventionism. They have been castigating the political and economic elites -- as they should. But why do the foreign policy and military elites seem to be immune to the wrath of the new populists?

Interestingly enough, opinion polls indicate that most Americans are growing disenchanted with American global interventionism. Indeed, when Americans were asked in a recent survey of American attitudes conducted by the Pew Research Center and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), whether the U.S. should "mind its own business internationally," 49 percent said they agreed with that sentiment. That was up sharply from 30 percent in 2002, and was the highest reading found since the Gallup Survey first asked the question in 1964. These results seem to be compatible with the findings in other opinion polls that reflect continuing public disillusionment with the Iraq War and a clear support for a gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops from both Mesopotamia and Afghanistan.

So in a way, it seems that as many Americans are unhappy with Wall Street's bailout and the health care reform bill as they are with the military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet while the domestic policy issues seemed to have been the focus of the debate during the Senate race in Massachusetts, America's wars have received much less attention. If anything, the Republican Brown ended-up attacking Obama's foreign policy from a more pro-interventionist perspective when he called for sending all the additional troops that General Stanley McChrystal had requested.

Similarly, some of the stars of the Tea Party movement like former Alaska Governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and news show host Glenn Beck have accused President Obama of projecting weakness in dealing with the threat of terrorism and have appealed for more assertive U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran, North Korea and Russia. At the same time, another political figure that has been much admired by many of the new populists is Dr. Ron Paul (I served as one of his foreign policy advisors during the campaign), the Republican-libertarian Representative from Texas who has been a staunch opponent of the decision to invade Iraq and has called for U.S. military disengagement from the Middle East as well as from other parts of the world -- not to mention his long-time criticism of much the rising power of the National Security State.

It is possible that one of the main reasons why foreign policy issues, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not dominated the tea Party events has to do with the fact that new populists may have strong disagreements over the role that the United States should play in the world as well as over immigration and trade and social-cultural issues. Hence, my sense (which is based more on anecdotal evidence than on the results of any major opinion poll) is that while most of the new insurgents project a Lou Dobbs-kind of attitude on immigration, the Perot-type populists among them have been supportive of a more economist nationalist approach on global trade issues -- like many progressive populists on the political left -- and of a less interventionist foreign policy, not unlike the followers of Ron Paul among the Tea Party members (On social-cultural issues, "Peroites" and "Paulites" very much like left-wing progressives tend to embrace a more liberal/libertarian perspective in contrast to the Sarah Palin wing of the Tea Party that includes members of the religious right).

If we apply the foreign policy typology proposed by diplomatic scholar Walter Russell Mead it would be safe to argue that there are very few Wilsonians aka neoconservatives fantasizing about the democratization of the Middle East or Hamiltonians seeking to promote U.S. business interests abroad among the Tea Partiers. Instead, one could suggest that most of the new populists are either nationalist Jacksonians - who have no problem using force in defense of the country but are opposed to launching ideological global crusades -- or the more isolationist Jeffersonians - who are worried about the negative effects that foreign interventions would have on America's political and economic freedoms.

While the non-interventionist/Jeffersonian approach represented by Paul and other libertarian figures and outlets and the populist/Jacksonian position advocated by the Peroites and Pat Buchanan may be popular among the new populists, the main reason that they have failed to have more of an impact on the right-wing populist insurgents has to do with the strong influence of the elites controlling the Republican Party and the official conservative movement -- as opposed to, say, the views represented in The American Conservative magazine (I write for it) - which continue to promote the interventionist foreign policy principles advocated by the neocons and the religious right with their emphasis on the need to escalate the war against "Islamofascism," That explains why the majority of the Republicans and conservatives are still in favor of an interventionist U.S. foreign policy, a reality that is not going to change until the Jacksonians and the Jeffersonians start using their intellectual and political resources to advance their agenda.

Unfortunately for President Obama and the Democrats, the White House's decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan and to pursue a Bush/neoconservative-Lite foreign policy makes it difficult for them to try to exploit the populist sentiments by trying to project a less interventionist foreign policy.

Happy Holocaust Day

If you find the title of this post offensive, then so you should. But what else is one supposed to say? The whole thing is as ridiculous as it is revolting. For one thing, why is it on 27th January, the day Auschwitz exchanged mass-murdering Nazi tyranny for mass-murdering Soviet tyranny? Why not 15th April, the day Belsen really was liberated, and that by the British? In some years, that would even coincide usefully with Easter.

That we are prepared to have it today points to the extent to which the anti-British sectarian Left has taken over our public life, and the extent to which it has made peace with its old adversaries, also massively influential, on the anti-British sectarian Right. And that we really insist on having it all points to the extent to which it is so much easier, and even more fun, to concentrate on the wrongdoing of others rather than on that of ourselves.


Like all rulings of the "Supreme Court", today's against Ministerial freezing of assets without parliamentary approval should itself have no effect unless and until ratified by a resolution of the House of Commons. The true Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the High Court of Parliament.

But what if the MPs did not ratify this and other important rulings in defence of liberty and justice? They would, if they were elected in a manner which reflected a broader range of opinion, having been selected as candidates by the electorate as a whole, and being dependent for funding on wider civil society.

Rich For Life

According to the National Lottery, that means forty grand per year until you die.

Quite so. That's not far off twice the annual median income for a household, never mind an individual.

Whoever frames the tax policy of the One Party in this one-party state, take note.

Hail To The Chief?

I hope that the Government is suitably humiliated at being well to the right, in the very worst sense, of the Tories on banking reform. But I doubt that it is. It is beyond shame, and then some.

Anyway, William Hague repeatedly referred to Barack Obama as "the President", as one would say "the Prime Minister" or "the Queen". "You are not my President", the placards used to proclaim against Bush, and now proclaim against Obama. No chance of the pretended party of national sovereignty waving them, though.

Stuck In The Traffick

It was good to hear Sir Anthony Steen at PMQs. His work against child-trafficking, and his long campaign to expose the disappearances from the care system, now risk having no one to continue them in Parliament. All because of some infelicitous, but undoubtedly accurate, remarks about how people were envious of his big house.

David Cameron’s and George Osborne’s deeply dodgy mortgage claims are all right. But, like the anti-war Douglas Hogg’s moat for which not a penny was paid, like Sir Peter Viggers’s duck house for which not a penny was paid, and like whatever it was that Ian Gibson did wrong (voting against the Iraq War, to be precise), this is not.

So trafficked children can, quite literally, get lost.

Leaving Things Settled

Evan Haris, of all people, was at it again at PMQs. There is a certain Spot The Deliberate Mistake quality to proposals to make the monarchy more egalitarian or (God help us all) "meritocratic".

The Act of Settlement is good for us Catholics. It reminds us that we are different, and it does us the courtesy of taking our beliefs seriously by identifying them as a real challenge.

I question the viability of a Catholic community which devotes any great energy to the question of ascending the throne while the born sleep in cardboard boxes on the streets and the pre-born are ripped from their mothers' wombs to be discarded as surgical waste. Far from being a term of abuse, the word "Papist" is in fact the name under which the English Martyrs gave their lives, and expresses the cause for which they did so, making it a badge of honour, to be worn with pride.

The Protestant tradition is a fact of this country's history and culture. No good purpose would be served by denying it its constitutional recognition. And we must never countenance alliance with those, such as Harris, who wish to remove Christianity as the basis of our State. Parties, such as his or the SNP, that wish to abolish Catholic schools need not imagine that noisily seeking to repeal the Act of Settlement somehow makes their position any better.

As for male primogeniture, it, too, sends an important signal: that the male line matters means that fathers matter, and that they have to face up to their responsibilities, with every assistance (including censure where necessary) from the wider society, including when it acts politically as the State.

On matters such as this, we should listen to the voice of Recusancy, currently in the Commons (and it has been largely "reformed" - what an appropriate word! - out of the Lords) the voice of the gloriously anti-war Edward Leigh more than anyone. He has no time for this proposal, and rightly sees the whole thing as an excuse to bring the question of the monarchy to the floor of other Parliaments, particularly in Australia.

There is only one circumstance under which these changes could begin to be justified, namely that any Realm or Territory may leave the family defined by our shared monarch unless they were given effect, though not otherwise. Which is considering doing so?

John Paul The Great, Pray For Us

Anyone who still harbours the slightest doubt need look no further than the works of corporal mortification that he is now known to have performed regularly.

Corporal mortification is an integral part of Catholic spirituality. Catholics need to re-learn moderate self-denial on Fridays, on the Wednesdays in Lent, during Holy Week, on the eves of the Church’s greatest Solemnities, and before receiving Communion, as well as the considerable exigencies on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

These are of a piece with the cilice (a spiked chain worn around the upper thigh) and the discipline (a small whip used on the back). Convents manufacturing such items still do a roaring trade, and the rise of Opus Dei is a sign that the decadent period of disdain for asceticism even within the Catholic Church is an aberration now mercifully coming to an end.

"You Couldn't Make It Up"

So says Patsy Palmer of the doings of Bianca Jackson, the fictional character whom she plays in EastEnders.

You couldn't make it up.

Axis of Evil

From The Moscow Times:

The widow of late Chechen leader Dzhokhar Dudayev, the Soviet Air Force general who led a separatist war in the 1990s, is seeking Georgian citizenship.

Alla Dudayeva, who hosts a talk show on Georgian state television’s Russian-language channel, and her son Tegi applied for citizenship to Georgia’s Justice Ministry.

President Mikheil Saakashvili must approve the request, the president’s spokeswoman Manana Manjgaladze said by telephone Monday.

“My son and I are seeking Georgian citizenship because I have felt a close tie with the country since my husband’s death,” Dudayeva said in an interview late Sunday in the capital, Tbilisi. “The TV program offers me a chance to express my gratitude to the people of the Caucasus.”

Dudayeva’s television program, "Kavkazsky Portret" (Portrait of the Caucasus), was first aired Jan. 5 on Georgian state television’s First Caucasus station, which broadcasts primarily in Russian.

“Art, poetry, beauty and science are the only ways left to restore the lost links between the people of the Caucasus after frequent wars,” Dudayeva said, adding that she has received positive feedback from viewers, especially since the station began broadcasting via satellite in addition to the Internet.

Dzhokhar Dudayev was killed in 1996 by a federal rocket attack during the first Chechen war between separatist and government troops.

After taking power in Chechnya in 1991, Dudayev developed close relations with then-Georgian leader Zviad Gamsakhurdia. After Gamsakhurdia was overthrown later that year, he fled to Chechnya. He died in 1993 and was buried in Grozny.

Alla Dudayeva’s request comes 17 months after Russia routed Georgia’s U.S.-trained army in a war over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia. In the wake of the conflict, Russia recognized South Ossetia and another rebel region, Abkhazia, as sovereign countries.

Ah, neoconservatism's alliance with militant Islam. Of course, the Saudis - you know, the people who launced the 9/11 attacks - have to get something for their money.

Massive Earthquake Reveals Unknown Civilisation

From The Onion:

Less than two weeks after converging upon the site of a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake, American anthropologists have confirmed the discovery of a small, poverty-stricken island nation, known to its inhabitants as "Haiti."

Located just 700 miles off the southeastern coast of Florida, the previously unaccounted-for country is believed to be home to an estimated 10 million people.

Even more astounding, reports now indicate that these people have likely inhabited the impoverished, destitute region—unnoticed by the rest of the world—for more than 300 years.

"That an entire civilization has been somehow existing right under our noses for all this time comes as a complete shock," said University of Florida anthropology professor Dr. Ben Oliver, adding that it appeared as if Haiti's citizens had been living under dangerous conditions even before the devastating earthquake struck. "Of course, there have been rumors in the past about a long-forgotten Caribbean nation whose people struggle every day to survive, live in constant fear of a corrupt government, and endure such squalor and hunger that they have resorted to eating dirt. But never did we give them much thought."

Added Oliver, "Had it not been for this earthquake, I doubt we would have ever noticed Haiti at all."

Though anthropologists said they still did not know much about Haiti's history, they claimed that, by observing the Haitians' reactions to this particular disaster, and studying the way the people had come together and taken solace in one another's sorrows, it appeared as if most of them were accustomed to tragic, even horrific, events.

Researchers also came to the "startling" conclusion that Haiti's inhabitants must have at some point in their history been exposed to the English language, as many seemed capable of uttering such phrases as "Help us," and "Please don't abandon us again."

"They are normal people just like you and me," said Harvard University's Aimee Coughlin, who before last week had never come across any mention of the struggling island republic, whether in conversation, on television, or while scanning the front pages of newspapers. "They communicate with one another, they have families and loved ones, and they value religion. However, judging by the way they are fending for themselves—a position they seem almost resigned to—it's clear these mysterious Haitian people don't have much else."

According to Coughlin, the Haitian civilization was discovered on the night of Jan. 12, when relief workers were rushed to several resorts in the Dominican Republic to see if any American tourists had been injured in the quake. During an aerial tour of the island of Hispaniola, members of the Red Cross noticed signs of human life coming from Haiti.

"When we first landed there, I thought, 'No person could possibly live here,'" Oliver said. "Not only did the arid landscape look incapable of sustaining any sort of agriculture, but there was absolutely no infrastructure either. Had we known about this desperate, desperate place sooner, perhaps we could have shared some of our technological advancements with them."

"I've vacationed just miles away in beautiful St. Kitts many times," Oliver added. "Never did anyone say anything about this Haiti place."

Members of the world community were equally shocked at the discovery of such an impoverished civilization. U.N. representatives noted that Haiti's location puts it in the direct path of recent natural disasters such as Hurricanes Jeanne, Hanna, and Ike, disasters that probably caused massive flooding, disease, and death.

Likewise, leaders from a number of Western nations announced Tuesday that they were dumbfounded to learn people were still living without decent shelter, hospitals, or regular access to food and water.

"They must have had no way of communicating with the outside world, because had we known about these Haitians, we would have done everything in our power to help them," U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said. "Of that I have no doubt."

Tuesday, 26 January 2010


My income went up repeatedly during the recession. Will it now be coming down?

Arrest Blair

For all his faults, George Monbiot writes:

So today I am launching a website – – whose purpose is to raise money as a reward for people attempting a peaceful citizen's arrest of the former prime minister. I have put up the first £100, and I encourage you to match it. Anyone meeting the rules I've laid down will be entitled to one quarter of the total pot: the bounties will remain available until Blair faces a court of law. The higher the reward, the greater the number of people who are likely to try.

Little Acorns

We want and need a broadly based movement, to coalesce into a new party once in Parliament, just as the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, the Labour Party and (albeit at a very accelerated pace) the SDP all emerged.

I will be contesting North West Durham in any May or June Election, if the doctors let me when, in March, I next see them (several operations over the last couple of years). They almost certainly will, but having done exactly as they have told me is how I am still alive. In no particular order, priorities are my election, the re-election of Dai Davies, and the re-election of Bob Wareing. I don't agree with either of them about everything, but that's not how a political movement works.

I am more baffled than anything else at any suggestion that the Old Labour social conservative and patriotic position is embodied by the BNP, most of whose voters were previously Tories of the lower end of lower-middle-class type who see themselves as a cut above their chavvy neighbours. It is the Tory vote that goes down when the BNP vote goes up, but most commentators assume that Labour would ordinarily expect every vote in Yorkshire, or the North West, or the East End. If the BNP is any sort of voice of "the white working class", then how come it does pitifully badly here in the North East?

Keep Dai Davies and Bob Wareing in, and put me and anyone else we hear of in as well: you don't have to live in the constituency to give your time or your money.

Assistance Required

The following Early Day Motion has been tabled by Ann Widdecombe, Jim Clark and Jim Dobbin:

This House notes the tragic case of Lynn Gilderdale and the fact that her mother, Kay, was charged with assisted suicide for helping to end her life; notes that 110 people have been flown to Switzerland for the purpose of assisted suicide and not one person accompanying them has had to face being charged in court because Mr Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecution, decided against it on the grounds that it would have been against the public interest; notes, however, that although the situation of Lynn and her mother, Kay Gilderdale, was more stressful and tragic than most of the cases where people were flown to Switzerland, he decided to bring charges against Mrs Gilderdale – a decision questioned by the Judge and many commentators; notes, however. that his decision was made shortly after the publication of his Guidelines on Assisted Suicide which have been heavily criticised by senior members of the legal profession, parliamentarians and public commentators on the grounds that they jeopardise the right to life of the vulnerable sick and disabled; notes also that the case has been used as a showpiece to promote the legalisation of assisted suicide and the DPPs Assisted Suicide Guidelines and calls on the Government to require from Mr Starmer on what grounds he decided to pursue Mrs Gilderdale whose case accords with all the conditions he lists in his Guidelines as justifiable reasons for not bringing a prosecution.

This case met all of Keir Starmer's criteria for an assisted suicide such as he believes should be legal, and he has never brought a prosecution for assisted suicide under the Suicide Act 1961, which would have been appropriate here.

It could not be clearer that the Crown Prosecution Service should be abolished, and that all rulings of the new "Supreme Court" should be made subject to ratification by resolution of the House of Commons, without which such rulings would have no effect. There is also a strong case for once again requiring its judges to sit in the House of Lords; as much as anything else, much good work was quietly done by their Peers, especially bishops, in having injustices called in for review.

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is nothing other than the High Court of Parliament. But instead, we now have Starmer and his mates on the Bench making up the law to suit themselves.


Not a bit of it. Good on anyone who stands up to the criminal harassment, an imprisonable offence, routinely visited on anyone who refuses to bow the knee to the Everlasting War Against Everywhere Brigade, to whom the Israeli Hard Right always comes first, whether or not anyone votes for it even in Israel, never mind anywhere else.

The Police have rightly taken this matter seriously. You know who you are. Clearly, so do they. I only hope that your wildest dream doesn't come true in the form of sharing a cell with Blair.

Oh, and since it's been a while.

Lovely Jubbly

In the Guardian, Neil Clark, who shares my disappointment at the critical panning of Rock and Chips, writes:

Prince Lazar. Miloš Obilic. Prince Mihailo Obrenovic III. To this list of Serbian national heroes must be added another, more unlikely name: Derek Trotter.

The BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses, which returned to our screens last night in the shape of a one-off prequel, Rock and Chips, has been sold to countries around the world. But it is in Serbia where Del Boy has achieved genuine cult status.

I first experienced the phenomenon on a visit to Belgrade in the late 1990s. The first question I was asked after saying I was from Britain was whether I was a fan of Del Boy. The second was whether I'd ever met David Jason.

During Nato's attack on Yugoslavia in 1999, Clare Short defended the bombing of -Serbian state television by claiming it was a "source of propaganda". But when I was there all it seemed to be transmitting were the escapades of Trotters Independent Trading.

Today there are Serbian Facebook appreciation sites devoted to Mucke, the Serbo-Croat name for Only Fools and Horses, which translated means "suspicious job" or "shady business". In the Skadarlija district of Belgrade you can dine at Mucke, which claims to be the world's only restaurant devoted to the series. Naturally, Del Boy's favourite pina colada cocktail is also on offer.

In the kiosks on Knez Mihailova, the city's main boulevard, you can not only buy Only Fools and Horses DVDs, but "Dell Boy" [sic] badges, inscribed with some of his famous catchphrases. I bought one there last summer that read "This time next year, we'll be millioners."

Serbs who visit Britain for the first time are keen to hit the Trotter trail. "When I went to London my host asked me what I wanted to see first. Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, or Big Ben? I said I wanted to go to Peckham," Vesna Pesic, a businesswoman from Belgrade tells me.

So why is the programme, loveable as it is, particularly popular in Serbia?

"The life of Del Boy and Rodney is very similar to life here. They always have some crazy ideas to make money. They always get themselves in some ridiculous situations," says Svetlana Zecevic, an officer in the Serbian Ministry of Finance, and a huge fan of the show. As Del Boy might say, lovely jubbly.

Monday, 25 January 2010

Beyond The Fringe

An interesting programme on Radio Four today about the Welsh language activists of the Sixties and Seventies. They were right about English ignorance of Celtic matters. But it was a shame that they all seemed to Plaid Cymru types. In 1977, North Wales voted No to devolution by the same colossal majority as did South Wales. And in 1999, the split was east-west, whereas the split on the language is north-south.

Leo Abse's warning against rule by a bilingual elite is now an only too obvious reality for the overwhelmingly English-speaking majority in South Wales. But that elite is no more a friend of the people of the Welsh-speaking areas; on the contrary, it consciously refuses to live in such places, where its utterances would be understandable by waiters, bartenders, shop assistants and taxi drivers. Opposition to, or at least grave doubt about, devolution remains relatively strong in Gaelic-speaking areas and absolutely strong in Welsh-speaking areas, far as these are from the centres of power in Scotland and Wales respectively. On occasion, even Lib Dem MPs from the Highlands and Islands express it publicly, albeit in nuanced terms from which it is not hard to guess what they really think.

Other than those in Patagonia who are completely bilingual in Welsh and Spanish, native speakers of the Celtic languages are all completely bilingual in their native tongues and in English. Just as the existence of a common tongue understood by all, whether or not they happen to speak it at home or in a given town or village, is how there can be a government of the United Kingdom, so it is how there can be a Scottish or Welsh devolved body, or for that matter a government of the Irish Republic; the problem with the devolved body in Northern Ireland is not this. It is also the reason why London is permitted only the trappings, and very little of the power: London is the only city in these islands where it is no longer possible to assume that anyone in the settled, permanent population has English.

Speaking of Northern Ireland, what to say about the use of "dissident Republicans" (who would be dead if they were actually any such thing) to speed along the Unionists over the devolution of policing and justice? Or about the staggering complacency of Sinn Fein, no longer faced with any serious opposition in its own community, as the Tory-brokered consolidation on the other side offers to remove the SDLP from Belfast South and Sinn Fein itself from Fermanagh & South Tyrone, to do the Tories considerable good in the coming hung Parliament, and to give their UUP inner and DUP outer allies, even allowing for losses to Jim Allister, enough seats between them to secure the position of First Minister after all, doubtless in the person of Arlene Foster, embodiment of the takeover of the DUP by integrationist Tory refugees from the UUP, even down to her membership of the Church of Ireland?

Well, why say anything, beyond that last point about the staunchly Unionist Conservative Evangelical wing of the C of I, predominant, or at least still very substantial, within that body's Northern Irish half (it is now much more liberal in the Republic)? Whereas early Nationalist leaders were often highly scornful of the Irish language as a bar to progress, no small contribution to saving it was made by enthusiastic C of I clergymen who were staunchly Unionist and who would now be classified as Conservative Evangelicals. Douglas Hyde, the son of an County Sligo rector and born in an Ascendancy "Big House", became the first President of the Republic while remaining an observant Protestant, a dedicated Irish-speaker and educator in that medium, and an adherent to a political position fundamentally Unionist rather than Nationalist (which was probably why Fine Gael, pushed into declaring a republic by a coalition partner, gave him the job).

Sinn Fein may be creating a network of publicly-funded Irish-medium schools in order to banish the Catholic Church from the education, first of the Green side in the Six Counties, and then of almost everyone in the Twenty-Six. But at least as sterling, in its way, is the work for the language being done by the The Reverend Dr Eric Culbertson, country parson in County Tyrone, Honorary Clerical Vicar Choral of Armagh Cathedral (not the Catholic one), Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Orange Order, member of the Council of the Evangelical Protestant Society, and outspoken critic of the Good Friday and Saint Andrews Agreements. He stands in a long, long line.