Sunday 31 December 2006

The Empire Strikes Back

I cannot put this better than does Neil Clark (

Saddam Hussein, the former President of Iraq, was hanged today at 3am GMT. The news comes as no surprise, as Saddam's execution was inevitable from the day he was captured, three years ago. He simply knew far too much to be allowed to live. But even more importantly from the point of view of The Empire, Saddam's death, and that of Slobodan Milosevic earlier this year, is intended as a warning. The message could not be clearer: stand in the way of our plans for global hegemony, and you till will either die at the end of a rope or from an induced heart attack in your prison cell. The message is intended for all those who obstruct the neo-conservative project, particularly the current leadership of Iran and Syria, but also other 'troublesome' leaders who don't toe the line, such as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Alexsander Lukashenko in Belarus.

In acting in this way, the U.S. Empire is no different to any others. Throughout history, empire builders, be they Roman, British, Spanish, Ottoman, Russian or German, have shown little mercy to those who had the temerity to stand up to them. The only surprise is that there are those who think Pax Americana is any different.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, on the day that their former leader was executed, here's news of a poll in Iraq which says that 90% of the country's population believe that life was better before the invasion- i.e under Saddam. No wonder they were so desperate to hang him.

Excellent News

The New Year's Honours List announces an OBE for Councillor Alex Watson, the richly deserving Leader of the exemplary Derwentside District Council (exemplary, not least, for the manner of its being run in co-operation between those who emphasise the social-democratic means to conservative ends and those who emphasise the conservative ends necessitating social-democratic means, to the exclusion of sectarian Left entryists associated with the disgraced but shameless David Hodgson, and lately with Kevan Jones MP). Splendid!

Friday 29 December 2006

Education, Education, Education

The Labour MP and former Aviation Minister, Karen Buck, has withdrawn her 13-year-old son in disgust from one of the Government's "flagship" City Academies (one, moreover, of which her husband is a governor).

Meanwhile, only yesterday, the Government announced that "Gifted and Talented" pupils would be able to buy "e-credits" for extra lessons in such things as Mandarin, and a programme run by NASA. Furthermore, since fully one third of schools have simply ignored the "Gifted and Talented" programme up to now, they are all now to be required to identify for this purpose the top ten per cent of their pupils in academic terms, a total of around 800,000 in the country as a whole.

So how about this for a wheeze? Each primary school's top ten (or, better, twenty or twenty-five) per cent of pupils, thus identified, might be admitted to a whole secondary school for children like them, where such lessons were an integral part of the curriculum, so that there was no need for "e-credits".

Heaven knows what we might call such an institution, but there are two reasons why none such will ever be set up. First, a national network of such schools would put most fee-paying schools out of business within ten years, and a lot of them well before that. And secondly, no such system could operate without powerful Local Education Authorities.

Opponents of fee-paying schools, and supporters of LEAs, think on.

A free country?

Well, freer than yesterday, anyway. Today, we repaid the final installment of the loans taken out by the Attlee Government just after the War. By 1950 our national debt amounted to 200% of our GDP, compared to 36% today. As the Guardian explains:

In 1945 Britain borrowed $4.34bn from the US consisting of a$3.75bn line of credit and a "lend-lease" loan facility of $586m. The following year the government agreed a $1.185bn line of credit loan from Canada. The money was primarily designed to assist in the post-war reconstruction of Britain's exhausted economy and shattered infrastructure. But the lend-lease loan related to wartime supplies already in transit from the US under President Franklin D Roosevelt's programme of the same name which began in 1941 and which ended abruptly shortly after VJ Day in 1945. Roosevelt famously said the scheme was like lending a neighbour a hosepipe to put out a fire. It marked a significant step away from America's post-first world war isolationism.

Today, the United States and Canada received final payments of $83.25m and $22.7m respectively.

We are no longer in America's debt.

The Net Tightens

John McTernan, Tony Blair's Political Secretary, was yesterday interviewed under caution over gaps in an email chain relating to cash for peerages.

Thursday 28 December 2006

Better Hazel Than Hilary

Hazel Blears is campaigning vigorously to save NHS provision (specifically, to save renowned and award-winning maternity services) in her constituency. This is in marked contrast to the record of Someone Else I Could Name, who campaigned vigorously, and only too successfully, to destroy such provision (including just such services) here in her own constituency, even conspiring spitefully with the then Tory Government to that end. To this day, her mini-me refers to that much-missed provision as "a tip" and such like, when not pretty much demanding at Parish Council meetings that the elderly have their Zimmer frames kicked away for his sadistic amusement.

Blears, apparently, is facing deselection, and so is pulling out all the stops. Well, that's called democracy, folks. But just what does Hilary Armstrong have to do, or not do, to face any such threat? The level of sycophancy towards politicians in this part of the country beggars belief, and genuinely baffled one of the leading campaigners to save Shotley Bridge, who put it to me at that time that anywhere else, "The MP would have been dragged in, by the hair if necessary," rather than begged on people's knees to condescend to turn up to public meetings, and even then let off entirely when she failed to do so even so much as once.

Market? What market?

Needless to say, dear old Sir Digby Jones has had fits of the vapours at a modest call for pay restraint at the practically tax-exempt upper end of the scale, exemptions the bill for which is footed by the middle and working classes, with one of the great cities of the world now functioning as a tax haven for the super-rich as if it were a Channel Island or a smaller West Indy.

Anyway, Sir Digby cites, as such people always do, "the market". What "market"? Most of these people have only ever worked for one company in their lives. Almost none is a foreign national, and most of those who are are Irish. Many are related to the founders of their respective companies. This "market" simply does not exist.

As for the scaremongering talk of withdrawal of investment and of "brain drains", the real British market, sixty million strong, is sufficiently large that people are always going to want to sell to it, and if they are told that they just have to make the goods here and employ our people from top to bottom within our pay restraint regime, then they will do it rather than forego a market this size.

And a "brain drain"? See above as to the sort of people we're actually talking about. Anyway, even assuming that anywhere else would take them, where would they go? Only America springs to mind, a country which most of them visit frequently and where many of them even have permanent residences. They have explicitly decided against actually living there, rather than just having houses there, on a permanent basis, simply because most people do not wish to live permanently in a foreign country.

Bring yourselves home, lads

Britain no longer has an Army: technically speaking, we have only a defence force, since it has a manpower capacity below 100,000. Our island, trading nation also has next to no Navy left at all. And the Neocon Ascendancy with which we are still afflicted (as are several other countries, but no longer the lucky old United States) continues to lobby for the RAF to be abolished entirely.

If their Commanding Officers really want "Our Boys" to be treated as national heroes, then they will order a full, immediate and unconditional withdrawal both from Afghanistan and from Iraq. They could be home before Tony Blair had even noticed, and they really would be cheered through the streets on their return. There is no identifiable "job" to "finish" in either of those countries, and our presence in the latter, at least, has always been illegal; so if Blair or anyone didn't like this withdrawal, then they'd just have to lump it.

After all, who has the guns and the tanks anyway? And who, moreover, would have the moral and legal high ground, and the popular support?

Of Life And Death

At last, and thanks to Jon Cruddas, someone in the media has bothered to mention the obvious fact that the Labour Party is bleeding to death, losing an average of one member every 10 minutes, so that, if the current trend continues, it will have no members at all by the General Election after next in 2013. Of course, it won't get that bad (will it?). But where, exactly, will the decline stop? Ten thousand? Five thousand? One thousand?

Not that the other parties are in any healthier shape. We need an authentically social-democratic, socially conservative, and all-round patriotic political movement, conscious, worthy and proud of its popular, British roots; to restore the living politics of the dead where now we have only the dead politics of the (only just still) living.

More on "the separation of powers"

Gosh, the highly-placed character of the people who email me about this blog since I started posting comments on certain others! Anyway, in addition to laughing until I cried at their utterly unprintable responses to the Blair Bashi post below, I have, by a request which I doubt that I'd be thanked for calling "popular", written up into a full-length article my thoughts on "the separation of powers", mercifully an obvious impossibility in a monarchy:

Where, exactly, is the "scandal" in the dropping of the investigation into BAe and Saudi Arabia? At the very least, it is as nothing compared to John Major’s appointment of Jonathan Aitken (whom I freely accept is a changed man these days) as Minister of Defence Procurement on the direct orders of the Saudi Royal Family. Remember that? Some of us do.

Is it a Labour Government’s defence of the skilled, high-wage, high-status jobs of the British working class that is "scandalous"? I should say that it was just surprising, and a bit late in the Blair day. And I write as one who, in principle, would ban entirely the sale of arms abroad, provided that the Government had already fulfilled its responsibilities to the relevant section of the citizenry by diversifying its employment accordingly while fully preserving its skills, wages and status.

But we long ago chose to get into bed with the House of Saud, and we have bizarrely become even more intimate with them (of all people) since 11th September 2001. So now we must lie not only in that bed, but in that embrace.

And do any of you believe that foreign policy, defence policy, or even the jobs of our own people (fellow-citizens, fellow-voters, fellow-taxpayers) should have no bearing on these matters? If so, then you should clear off to the Liberal Democrats, if anywhere. You are in no sense conservatives, nor in any sense Socialists, nor really in any authentically British political tradition at all.

Which bring me to Kirsty Walk on Newsnight. She practically had kittens over this "breach" of "the separation of powers". Had she heard that term on The West Wing, or Sex and the City, or Pimp My Ride, or something? When will she be demanding that all Ministers resign their seats in either House, that the Law Lords renounce either their peerages or their seats on the bench, and so forth? "The separation of powers"? I ask you! What next? "The separation of Church and State", "breached" at some Royal event or something?

But Ms Wark was not alone. They were all at it. Has anyone who is allowed on the BBC ever heard of the Law Lords? Or of the Home Secretary’s role in determining sentences? Or of the numerous quasi-judicial functions of Ministers? Or of the fact that all members of the Executive are required to be members of the Legislature? Or of the fact that the judges make the whole of the Common Law?

This "separation of powers" line was also put about when the position of Lord Chancellor was abolished overnight in favour of something apparently sketched on the back of a beer mat. But the House of Lords is still chaired by someone in much the same outfit, which was actually presented by Blair as a serious, and even conclusive, argument for abolition. It is just that Baroness Hayman is not the Lord Chancellor. But so what, from that point of view? Meanwhile, there is still no Cabinet Minister accountable to the House of Commons either for the major front-line public service that is the Court Service, or for the enormous Legal Aid budget of public money.

Like the other examples given above, the office of Lord Chancellor was often described as an "exception" to "the separation of powers". Quite apart from the fact that such a doctrine cannot, by definition, admit of exceptions, so that their very existence disproves the doctrine itself, there do seem to be an awful lot of these "exceptions", and they do seem to matter rather a lot.

In reality, the "powers" have never been "separate", nor can they ever be so. One of them has to win in the end. In Britain, we have decided that it is to be Parliament, and thus the elected House of Commons within Parliament. Would we rather that the Prime Minister always had the last word? Or that, as in the United States (among other places) an unelected judicial body of lifetime appointees could simply rule that any matter it liked was "constitutional", and thus reserved entirely to itself? This is why, as is their wont, judicial theorists and constitutional lawyers habitually engage in more than a spot of wishful thinking where "the separation of powers" is concerned. They wish to see an American-style krytocracy in this country.

The wretched Human Rights Act has been a major step in that direction. But mercifully, we still have instead the supreme legislative, executive and judicial authority of the Crown (i.e., of the nation embodied, regardless of party or anything else), exercised either by Parliament itself or by Ministers drawn from and accountable to Parliament. Within Parliament, the House of Commons has come to be elected by universal adult suffrage and, since the Parliament Act of 1911, to be supreme.

The Crown is the ultimate contradiction of the Franco-American, and in no sense indigenously British, theory of the separation of powers. And it is thus the ultimate guarantee that the United Kingdom (and each of the 15 countries with which we share the Crown) will remain a democracy, unlike either absolutist and historically coup-plagued France, or krytocratic America, to name but two.

One really would have expected the sort of people who present our major broadcast news programmes, or who are interviewed thereon with regard to these matters, to understand such things. I should have been genuinely baffled that they did not, had it not been for the fact that, waiting for Newsnight to come on in one of these non-Question Time seasons when everything interesting seems to happen, I caught the end of something called Coupling.

The characters spoke with middle-class London accents, but the thing itself seemed to be set in New York, or at least in the city of Friends and Will & Grace. They even used American, rather than British, phraseology. Such, I suspect, is the world that the BBC newsroom inhabits, utterly unrecognisable to the rest of us.

"Separation", indeed.

Saturday 23 December 2006

A Very Merry Christmas

And A Happy New Year (although I might be back here through the week).

Goodwill to all men?

Neil Clark (only ever wrong about hanging - writes:

Christmas. A time of peace and goodwill to all men. But not if you're a neo-con. Having already caused untold human misery by their deceitful and illegal assault on Iraq, the warmongers are, it seems, planning further unlawful aggression, this time against the people of Iran.

In 1999, it was the turn of Yugoslavia. In 2001, Afghanistan. Two years later Iraq. And now Iran. Each time, the leaders of the countries concerned were portrayed by means of ferocious propaganda as the biggest threats to world peace since Adolf Hitler. But we know now that it was not Slobodan Milosevic, Mullah Omar or Saddam Hussein who posed the biggest problem, but the serial war-mongers who threatened them.


Let not mighty dread seize your troubled minds

Iain Dale ( writes:

In their latest attempt to scare the living daylights out of the British people John Reid and Sir Ian Blair tell us that the prospect of an attempted terrorist attack is "ever present, of an unparalleld nature and growing." Sir Ian adds for good measure "it is a far graver threat in terms of civilians than either the Cold War or the Second World War." Come again? The entire civilian population was at risk from nuclear attack in the Cold War and civilian casualties in London during World War II amounted to tens of thousands. Sir Ian should know that careless talk costs lives. Language like this is pathetic and smacks of crying wolf.

The government operates a system of alerts on terrorist threats and it has been set at SEVERE since July 2005. I am beginning to question why this is. It is appalling to accuse the government of trying to scare the population into accepting yet more draconian anti-terror legislation, but that's what appears to be happening. We mustn't let them succeed.

Quite. But Iain is an A-list Tory candidate. So, what are the Tories doing to stop all of this? On the contrary, they are egging it on, and would even be backing ID cards if right-wing journalists and bloggers hadn't forced them not to.

No Contest

Michael Meacher's spoiling activities have almost certainly ensured that Gordon Brown will be elected Labour Leader unopposed, i.e., that there will be no actual election. There is simply nothing like enough Labour MPs to put both Meacher and John McDonnell on the ballot paper; if there were, then the Government would be facing nightly defeat on the floor of the House of Commons. So Meacher can look forward to being restored as Environment Secretary under Brown.

But what, exactly, is Alan Simpson's price for keeping Jeremy Corbyn out of the Deputy Leadership Election, which there really is going to be? I think we should be told...

Blair Bashi

There has been much much mockery of the late President Saparmurat Niyazoz of Turkmenistan, but his country's vast gas reserves throw into sharp relief our own need to develop both the application of clean-coal technology and the real nuclear deterrent (nuclear power), thus safeguarding our independence while providing high-skilled, high-wage, high-status jobs for our people.

In the meantime, what geographical and cosmological phenomena, days of the week, months of the year, household items, and so forth might be re-named after Tony Blair or his specific relatives, and why?

Thursday 21 December 2006

The Guardian; or is it now The Guaderon?

Where was the Guardian's pro-Cameron ICM poll actually conducted? Support for David Cameron exists only in the South East, where the Tories already hold most of the seats. They are looking at piling up majorities in places like Cameron's Witney, Ed Vaizey's Wantage and Michael Gove's Surrey Heath, of the size that Labour MPs used to get from the miners. But so what? Where are the miners now?

In the days when the Tories used to win General Elections, they did so by winning seats in Scotland, Wales, the North and the Midlands. They first nearly and then actually lost office by losing first many and then most of those seats, respectively in 1992 (when no one had ever heard of Tony Blair) and 1997 (when Labour's poll rating had not varied since Golden Wednesday, also long before Blair was on anybody's radar screen). Their failure to recapture office has been precisely their failure to recapture those seats. By contrast, in 2005, they took back most of their 1997 losses in the South East, to absolutely no effect.

Furthermore, opinion polls are always recalculated to factor out the 34% that consistently expresses its intention not to vote. But we are never told that the true levels of support are 26% for the Tories, 24% for Labour, and at most 16% for the Liberal Democrats (leaving aside parties even more minor than those three have managed to make themselves).

After all, that would seem to suggest that an utterly non-Blairite, non-neocon political movement (morally and intellectually serious, not to say solvent) could reasonably expect a third or more of the eligible vote for its social democracy, its social conservatism, and its patriotism in all directions. And that would never do.

Wednesday 20 December 2006


No one would object to CRB checks if they were not so ridiculously expensive, and if one did not need a different disclosure for every activity that brings one into contact with children or certain categories of adult. How can it really cost that much? And how can one disclosure fail to suffice? It simply cannot, in either case. The whole thing is just a money-spinner for the private company (implicated in the cash for honours scandal) to which it has been farmed out, and brings child protection into disrepute.

Tuesday 19 December 2006


Is it time to start referring to Yates of the Yard as "Banana"? After all, a banana is bent and yellow.

Well, perhaps not quite yet. But certainly if Blair is not arrested, or not charged, or not remanded in custody, or not prosecuted, or not convicted, or not imprisoned. In any of those six events, Yates will stand exposed as the most corrupt member of the most corrupt police force in the most corrupt country in the world.

Sunday 17 December 2006

Oh no, now I have to agree with Harriet Harman!

Though only up to a point, so that's all right, more or less. She is of course quite right that the buying of sex should be illegal. And quite wrong that the sale thereof should not be. Are women morally and intellectually equal to men, or not?

Also, no one should be deemed capable of committing either of these offences below the age of consent (which should be raised to 18 anyway). Or is the hysterical feminist war against teenage boys (whose mothers cannot even be admitted to women's refuges - did you know that?), even above all their many other designated enemies, to be waged on this front, too? Those who ordinarily insist on treating teenage girls as grown women and teenage boys as small children (if that) somehow insist on reversing the arrangement in cases such as this.

It would take a lot to persuade me to give up my three remaining affiliations to the Labour Movement, two of which carry votes in the forthcoming Leadership and Deputy Leaderships Elections. But Harman's election as Deputy Leader might just do it. She embodies, and that in a particulary virulent form, one of the overlapping ideological positions, based entirely within (psuedo-)academia and the media but with no popular following, that do not have anything to do with either the Left or the Right in this country or anywhere else, yet somehow managed to take over the apparatus of one or the other (in this case, the Left) in the Seventies and Eighties, and from that base to take over the other one as well from the Nineties onwards.

Saturday 16 December 2006

Of Ks and Big Ps

In that subculture, of course, Ks and Big Ps could be all sorts of things...

Seriously, I think that they're actually getting frightened. No, not them. The Met (itself no stranger to the K or the Big P).

If anyone is ever charged, despite the incontrovertible fact of the sale of knighthoods and peerages over long years and including by both main parties at present, then, 18 months down the line, the Met would be looking, at best (yes at best!) at subjugation to the Mayor for London and to the Greater London Authority, and quite possibly at separate constabularies for each London Borough. And no more Ks or Big Ps.

They've been warned, and they've heeded the warning. Hence no caution when interviewing the man who must be guilty if anyone else is, as someone else clearly must be: they wouldn't dare charge him, so they can't and won't charge anyone.

Ks and Big Ps all round, then?

Friday 15 December 2006

My two hundredth post, and it has to have Blair in it!

I've been having a bit of a discussion on the invaluable about how Blair, who became an MP when he was only just 30, was ever at the Bar long enough to become a QC. Apparently, all barristers who become MPs automatically become QCs. In that case it does seem a bit naughty to use the title (as he certainly does, or I'd never have heard of him under it).

Anyway, has anyone ever actually been represented in court by Tony Blair? If so, then who, when, how did it go, &c? And if not,...?

Thursday 14 December 2006

"Separation", indeed

The "scandal" of the dropping of the investigation into BAe and Saudi Arabia (is it a Labour Government's defence of the skilled, high-wage, high-status jobs of the British working class that is "scandalous"?) is, in any case, as nothing compared to John Major's appointment of Jonathan Aitken (whom I freely accept is a changed man these days) as Minister of Defence Procurement on the direct orders of the Saudi Royal Family. Remember that? Some of us do.

Kirsty Walk on Newsnight practically had kittens over "the separation of powers". Had she heard that term on The West Wing, or Sex and the City, or Pimp My Ride, or something? When will she be demanding that all Ministers resign their seats in either House; that the Law Lords renounce either their peerages or their seats on the bench; and so forth. "The separation of powers"? I ask you! What next? "The separation of Church and State"?

But then, waiting for Newsnight to come on in one of these non-Question Time seasons when everything interesting seems to happen, I caught the end of something called Coupling, the characters in which spoke with middle-class London accents even though the thing itself seemed to be set in New York, or at least in the city of Friends and Will & Grace. They even used American, rather than British, phraseology. Such, I suspect, is the world that the BBC newsroom inhabits, utterly unrecognisable to the rest of us. "Separation", indeed.

"No lawyer present"?

The BBC keeps on saying that there was "no lawyer present" when Blair was interviewed by the Police. So, has he been disbarred? I think we should be told...

Well, this Lefty does, for a start

Peter Hitchens writes (on

I don't defend Augusto Pinochet, the late dictator of Chile. He was a wicked man who tortured and murdered his opponents and - in a law-governed, constitutional democracy - chose illegal and undemocratic methods. Whatever good he may have done, which is in any case open to serious question, does not excuse these unforgiveable actions. So why won't the Left say the same simple thing about Pinochet's socialist twin, the Cuban torturer and mass murderer Fidel Castro?

As I bicycled past Hyde Park Corner the other day, I was upbraided by another cyclist who said I was unfair about Cuba and - when I called him a sucker for the regime - absurdly accused me of being a toady of the British 'regime'. (So far as I could work out before the lights changed, this was because, despite being as rude as I can be about our major political parties, critical of the Queen and Prince Charles, I support the institution of monarchy. I really didn't have the whole afternoon to spare to put him right about this).

He really couldn't grasp the simple point that, whatever he might believe about Castro's alleged (and dubious) achievements in health and education - the evidence for which comes mainly from Cuban official statistics which cannot be independently checked - Castro is a monster.

He has reversed the verdicts of courts when he didn't like them, so as to punish opponents. He imprisoned his old comrade Huber Matos, who just wanted to go home quietly. His regime began with show trials and mass shootings and continued with repression and censorship and intolerance, which have gone on ever since. For a long period he persecuted homosexuals. He has arranged to be succeeded by his brother, which the left normally would denounce as a sort of sideways hereditary monarchy. His prisons are a disgrace. Torture is used. Interestingly, Pinochet on occasion put in a good word for Castro, and Castro was - reasonably - perturbed when Pinochet was arrested, seeing this as a danger to himself.

The honest thing, whatever your politics, is to condemn them both. I do. What about you?

Yes, I do too. So should we all.

Another Good Day To Bury Bad News

Of course, Lord Stevens has only told us what every sane person knew nine years ago. But he has done so at our own lavish expense. What a waste of public money! Fayed and his crew should just have been told where to stick their conspiracy theories.

But how much coverage has there been of a real story of the day, namely the Post Office closures? (And where is the Countryside Alliance when we need them?) Oh, and has anyone, anywhere asked why Blair, the man who actually granted the corruptly and illegally purchased seats in the legislature, was not interviewed under caution?

No, of course not! Instead, it's just Diana this, Diana that, Diana the other.

The Sound of Silence

In recent days, has anyone heard a single voice on radio or television arguing that both the buying and the selling of sex are equally reprehensible and, above the age of consent (which should be raised to 18 anyway), should be treated as such in law, including with the full force of the law? For that matter, has anyone heard a single voice, or even read a single article or letter, pointing out that there cannot be a "free" market in goods and services generally but not in prostitution or anything else, including drugs, alcohol, gambling and pornography?

Just Say No

If a political party cannot persuade anyone to give it any money, then it does not deserve to exist. But such is politicians’ and party hacks’ self-importance that they refuse to accept this self-evident fact. Their nationalisation of political parties would only make a baleful situation even worse. State funding of anything means state control. It has to, and in many cases it needs to.

Already, the only designation other than “Independent” permitted on a ballot paper is the name of a political party approved by the Electoral Commission. That Commission must approve the party’s constitution (including its aims and objectives), and must approve the Party Leader.

Some commission or committee would have to decide which parties or candidates deserved to be held up to the public teat. We can imagine only too easily who those commissioners or committee members would be, and therefore on what basis they would make their judgements.

All this merely to end the dying Labour Party’s dependence on the thriving trade unions, the only clean money left in British politics. Trade unions’ millions of members live, work and pay taxes the length and breadth of Britain. Unions have to ballot their members about maintaining a political fund, and even then individuals have to opt into it.

But that is precisely the problem so far as the political class is concerned: the combination of popularity, ordinariness, provincialism, democracy, liberty, and the vulgar practice of working for a living. That class wants to destroy the influence of the popular, the ordinary, the provincial, the democratic, the free and the hard-working. Indeed, it wants to destroy these social-democratic, socially conservative, patriotic things themselves, in order to destroy social democracy, social conservatism, and patriotism.

State funding of political parties is a key weapon in that destruction. Just say no.

Wednesday 13 December 2006

Sauce for the gander?

Apparently, "trials" in Africa have shown that male genital mutilation reduces the risk of HIV infection. Since the gist of this "finding" is that infections hide in nooks and crannies (who paid for this?), and since female genitalia are in any case far more vulnerable to infection, is female genital mutilation now to be advocated as a means of preventing the spread of HIV? After all, "it's part of their culture"; and didn't you know that women's bodies, or at least the reproductive parts thereof, were insentient, denial of which fact is called "misogyny"?

Monday 11 December 2006

Yes, Jesus IS the reason for the season

Another year, another round of lazy claims that Christmas is a taking over of some pagan winter festival. There is of course a universal need for winter festivals. But the dating of Christmas derives from the Jewish Hanukah, not from the pagan Saturnalia or anything else.

No British or Irish Christmas custom derives from paganism. There is little, if any, fokloric pagan continuation in these islands; and little, if anything, is known about pre-Christian religion here. Most, if not all, allegations to the contrary derive from Protestant polemic against practices originating in the Middle Ages, and usually the Late Middle Ages at that. The modern religion known as Paganism is an invention from scratch, the very earliest roots of which are in the late nineteenth century.

Furthermore, the dating of Christmas from that of Hanukah raises serious questions for Protestants, who mistakenly exclude the two Books of Macabees from the Canon because, along with various other works, they were allegedly not considered canonical at the time of Jesus and the Apostles.

In fact, the rabbis only excluded those books specifically because they were likely to lead people into Christianity, and they are repeatedly quoted or cited in the New Testament, as they were by Jewish writers up to their rabbinical exclusion. Even thereafter, a point is made by the continued celebration of Hanukah, a celebration thanks to books to which Jews only really had access because Christians had preserved them, since the rabbis wanted them destroyed.

Indeed, far from being the mother-religion that it is often assumed to be, a very great deal of Judaism is actually a reaction against Christianity, although this is by no means the entirety of the relationship, with key aspects of kabbalah actually deriving from Christianity, with numerous other examples set out in Rabbi Michael Hilton's The Christian Effect on Jewish Life (London: SCM Press, 1994), and so on. Hanukah bushes, and the giving and receiving of presents at Hanukah, stand in a tradition of two-way interaction both as old as Christianity and about as old as anything that could reasonably be described as Judaism.

Victorian Values

The ridiculous collection of decadents now running the "Conservative" Party claim to wish to see a return to Victorian values. They themselves, of course, have never given up upper-class cocaine addiction, or recourse to prostitutes of both sexes...

Intolerance of Intolerance

Tony Blair says that people who don’t like British tolerance can clear off. Please don’t laugh. It’s not funny. To qualify for public funding, religious-based projects will now have to prove that they meet certain standards laid down by an intolerant secularism, one of which (many other examples could also be cited here) is the misdefinition of equality as interchangeability, at least where the two sexes are concerned.

For example, men and women are equal, and therefore not interchangeable, in Catholicism, in the Church of England, and in Orthodox Judaism. Thus, women cannot be Catholic priests, or Church of England bishops, or Orthodox rabbis. This is for unanswerable theological reasons. But a project of the Catholic Church, or of the Church of England, or of an Orthodox synagogue, can now expect, either to be denied funding or other recognition, or to have any such award challenged in court.

However, doesn’t Blair live in a sort of halfway house between the Catholic Church and the Church of England?

Well, Blair has presided over a reduction in the incomes of the poorest fifth of the population. He has consistently voted for abortion up to birth. He supports the harvesting of embryonic human beings’ stem cells for pointless “research”.

His government has legalised cannabis in all but name, and is trying to recreate Las Vegas several times over on this tiny island. It has legalised the sodomy of 16-year-old schoolboys in public lavatories. It came within inches of destroying the church schools. It came within one vote of criminalising the preaching of the Gospel, losing only because of sheer incompetence. Even now, it is trying to force the closure of Catholic adoption agencies, and of Pentecostal youth clubs reaching out to disaffected black youth.

And Blair, on a lie, took Britain into the Iraq War against the entreaties of every significant Church of England figure bar one (whom he had recently passed over for Archbishop of Canterbury) , and of every significant Catholic figure without exception.

Blair’s religiosity would seem to have no effect whatever on his politics. Catholic, Church of England, Orthodox Jewish and many other community projects are doomed unless he is removed forthwith.

Still, at least I'm not reduced to lapdancing

Wage slavery, even freelance wage slavery, precludes my attending tomorrow's planning meeting after all. But at least I'm not reduced to lapdancing to earn a crust. Our community's young women also deserve better than that, as I have every confidence that the Council will agree. Won't it? After all, don't they?

So, farewell then, Jeanne Kirkpatrick and General Pinochet

So, farewell then, Jeanne "the poor and oppressed are used to it so they don't mind" Kirkpatrick and General Pinochet. Reagan, Botha, Friedman, Kirkpatrick (from whose doctrine Botha and Pinochet so benefited, like Marcos, the Duvaliers, &c), and now Pinochet. Next will be She. But remember, these elderly or deceased represent the future. Don't they?

How useful was Pinochet over the Falklands, really? Anyway, Thatcher had practically invited the Argentines in, and the Royal Navy then had to behave as if she did not exist in order to drive them back out again, a sort of coup without which the Falklands would be Argentine to this day.

And will She be going to Pinochet's funeral?

The Return of IDS?

Suddenly, Iain Duncan Smith is back, making his pitch to lead the breakaway party of the few remaining Tories among Conservative MPs in the coming hung Parliament. He'll have to fight Edward Leigh for it, though. And Leigh had the wit to oppose the Iraq War.

Interesting that they are both Catholics. Most Catholics are not Tories of any stripe; and most High Tories are, of course, C of E.

Friday 8 December 2006

Hands Across The Atlantic

It's not every day that one submits a 30,000 word book to a publisher, especially if one did it all in the previous 18 hours (well, not exactly, but it sounds better that way....); so I sit here rewarding myself with a bottle of the Speckled Hen, even if they have changed the labels. Bah!

Anyway, I note that Blair, on his latest visit to Washington, has still declined to collect his Congressional Gold Medal. So is there any way that we Britons could petition the new Congress to revoke it, rescind it, or whatever is the correct term? If they thought that there was real public support for over here (which, of course, there would be) for such a move, then they might just do it.

Meanwhile, General Sir Mike Jackson, his Navy and RAF counterparts, and if possible their American opposite numbers, should point out that there is no identifiable "job" to "finish" either in Afghanistan or in Iraq, and should accordingly order their subordinates to withdraw, unilaterally. After all, they are the ones with the guns and the tanks, so what is anyone going to do to stop them? There have been Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and Presidents of the United States who could have stood up to such a move. But Tony Blair and George Bush are not among them.

Thursday 7 December 2006

Are the neocons on the way out?

Rumsfeld gone. Bolton gone. The neocons are on the way out, aren't they?

Dream on!

They are still on a roll in Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany, France... Watch out for New Zealand. Meanwhile, the President of the European Commission is a former Maoist who went on to become a rabidly "free"-marketeering and pro-Bush Prime Minister of Portugal before being eased into his current role. They don't come more neocon than that. Watch that space.

And as for America, who are these newly-"resurgent" "conservative Democrats"? Socially conservative economic populists (as Americans call them), a true resurgence of an old and great force? Or neocons, looking to complete their coup by taking over one party to which they are fundamentally alien just as they took over the other party to which they were (and are) fundamentally alien?

Opus Dei and the Left

Spurred on by the insinuations of David Lindsay Watch, I have been doing a little research into Opus Dei. Wikipedia (yes, I know, but...) lists nine Opus Dei politicians (plus, inexplicably, Robert Hanssen). Of those, three (including two women) are on the Left and four are dead (one since 1966), with no overlap between these two categories.

Only one is a Chilean "Chicago Boy"; and even that, though wrong in itself and impossible to square with Catholic Teaching, is not the same as having been a fully-fledged supporter of Pinochet, whose name is always brought up by Opus-haters, but who is nowhere listed as in any way affiliated to Opus Dei.

I say again, Opus Dei, though not really political at all, inclines, if anything, to the Left. Much like the Catholic Church in general, in fact.

Essayist sought

As part of my edited volume Left and Right Must Unite and Fight (which has a publisher lined up), I'd like to include a synthesis of the feminist and the conservative-Christian critiques of the sex industry. I'm already writing one essay (I've done it, in fact), co-writing another, writing the Introduction, and probably writing a Conclusion as well; which seems like quite enough of me for one multi-author book. So if anyone else is interested, then please email, and I'll send you all appropriate details. Very many thanks.

Tuesday 5 December 2006

The madness behind the Mental Health Bill

Mental health policy in this country has long been dictated by a sort of political mental illness in itself, namely the belief that if the two front benches agree with each other, then that constitutes a consensus at large and "the centre ground", dissent from which is by definition extreme and insane. We also see the consequences of this warped thinking in so many other areas, of course.

Russia: the nuclear deterrent that we still need

No, I'm not talking upon unproven rubbish relating to radiation poisoning at the behest of a President who has the temerity to resist his country's incorporation into the Neocon Empire. I mean that country's ever-tighter stanglehold on our energy, which could be turned off at any moment if that President, or his successor of the day, so determined. Even more than Arab oil, Russian gas demands that, along with the application of clean coal technology, we develop the real nuclear deterrent: nuclear power, and plenty of it. A rather better use of the money, I feel.

Mind Your Language

This is a respectable blog, so please do not swear or make obscene references when posting comments (which I simply haven't the time to moderate, and wouldn't really want to anyway). Thank you.


Four of the world's five longest-standing democracies have the same Head of State, who was deposed as Head of State of Fiji in 1987. Guess who?

Stanley Town Council and the Parish Councils: national and international readers, please skip

The following was sent out a couple of weeks ago, to all Labour and Independent District Councillors in the non-Stanley part of Derwentside, copied to a number of Lanchester Parish Councillors (Labour, Tory and Independent) and to the local press. I have received numerous positive responses (again from across the spectrum, as much within parties as between them) and no negative ones:

"Tuesday's meeting of Lanchester Parish Council confirmed what we all knew anyway, namely that the creation of the Stanley Town Council will result in the end of the Derwentside District Council donations to the existing Parish Councils. I have no intention of rehearsing here any arguments about the STC as such, since there would no point. But several of you will recall that I have consistently argued that, following the creation of the STC, DDC should no longer provide anything in the STC area which Parish Councils provide anywhere else in Derwentside.

This has earned me abuse like I have otherwise only ever experienced when suggesting that there were poor people in Lanchester and that they might need some help, but I stand by this as I stand by that: people who want the STC but do not want it to spend (i.e., to do) anything, instead demanding that the allegedly hated DDC carry on providing, strike me as completely absurd. Furthermore, the withdrawal of the DDC donations to Parish Councils because of the creation of the STC, while entirely predictable and understandable under the circumstances, only serves to re-emphasise the importance of this point, since the Parished areas are now paying directly for the STC. It will not do to say that "Stanley won't be getting a donation either", because Stanley never did get a donation, whereas we are actually having our budgets cut (and that quite drastically).

Therefore, I hope and trust that resolutions will be passed by every Parish Council within Derwentside, by both the Majority Group and the Opposition on DDC, and accordingly by DDC itself, to the effect that, following the creation of the STC, DDC should no longer provide anything in the STC area which Parish Councils provide anywhere else in Derwentside. A failure to do this would be iniquitous and immoral (as well as ridiculous from the point of view of the STC and its supporters), and it would not be forgotten in the run-up to the forthcoming Elections."

The question needs to be asked and answered: why should the Parished areas be made to pay for a body for which only the most questionable public support has ever existed even within its own area, which pretty much guarantees a platform for the BNP (the only functioning party in Stanley other than Labour, which will never find enough candidates to fill every seat), and whose own advocates appear to want it to do nothing except pass a monthly resolution telling Kevan Jones how wonderful he is (and, no doubt, pay its members - themselves - generous allowances) while still expecting the allegedly hated Derwentside District Council to spoon-feed them?

Monday 4 December 2006

New Parties: The Nuclear Option

There was Blair today, flanked by Jack Straw and Margaret Beckett. They're all for nuclear weapons now that such weapons are indisputably pointless in addition to being, as they have always been, morally repugnant. Cameron is right behind Blair of course, complete with a 1980s haircut accordingly. And the best that the Liberals can suggest is a six-year delay before going ahead anyway.

There are many reasons why the British People needs to create new political parties. This is one of them.

You don't say!

According to the outgoing Secretary-General of the United Nations, Iraqis were better off under Saddam Hussein than they are now. You don't say! What is to be his next revelation? The Pope's Catholicism? Bears' defecation in the woods?

Saturday 2 December 2006

Where the hell is Hilary?

Hilary Armstrong - Cabinet Minister, regular churchgoer, and woman - has said nothing whatever against the "Red Velvet" proposal. Her collusion in the Tory closure (in all but name) of Shotley Bridge Hospital was bad enough. Her whipping through of the massive deregulation of drinking, gambling, prostitution and pornography, and of the downgrading of cannabis, was far enough removed from her roots. But this is beyond belief, beyond obscenity, beyond anything. Where the hell is she? And why the hell is she still anywhere at all?

It's time for the BBC to catch up with the Pope, not the other way around

Here we go again. According to the BBC (who else?), the Pope is planning to reverse the Catholic Church's position on condoms and Aids "in Africa". Why on earth would be want to do that?

Certain people might consider applying some journalistic or scientific objectivity to the question of where in Africa the condom use relentlessly promoted by Western NGOs and compliant governments has ever arrested, never mind reversed, the rate of HIV infection. There is nowhere.

However, such a reversal is under way in Uganda, where the government's message is the same as the Catholic Church's: "Change Your Behaviour". Huge numbers of condoms have been distributed in Botswana, and the result has been for President Festus Mogae to declare, "Abstain or die". Who, exactly, is incapable of fidelity within a monogamous marriage and abstinence outside such a marriage? Women? Black people? Poor people? Developing-world people? Or just poor black women in the developing world?

And after those questions, certain people might examine the very high reliability of Natural Family Planning, as admitted even by the World Health Organisation (hardly a Vatican puppet, to say the very least). Who is incapable of the requisite discipline? See above? Or is it just that all women must poison themselves in order to be available constantly for the sexual gratification of men, much as people in emerging holiday resorts must carry condoms in order to be so available to Western sex tourists and, in point of fact, their diseases?

Why is it only ever the people who hardly consume anything who are told that there are too many of them, be they the people of the developing world abroad, or the working classes and the altogether excluded at home? And what are the implications of believing that the unborn child is both a part of a woman's body (of her very reproductive system, in fact), and at the same time insentient? They seem terrifying even here, never mind where female genital mutilation is endemic.