Friday 30 November 2007

The New Hawk Hatches

I doubt that David Cameron, a Blair-like figure educated far beyond his natural intelligence at necessarily enormous expense and only where he is in the absence of the grammar schools, has anything more than the haziest idea where Kosovo is. He clearly has no idea that the Russians and the Serbs were our allies in two World Wars, in very marked contrast to, say, the black-shirted Kosovar Albanians whose sons and grandsons still hero-worship them in the Kosovo "Liberation" Army.

It is the spectre of such a state, at once Nazi and Wahhabi, not to say pimping and heroin-trafficking, that is the real threat to our security.

The Wrong Way Round

Reverse this, and you'd get the dream ticket. Only Paul's states' rights can give America Kucinich's social democracy, just as only national sovereignty can restore social democracy to Europe. Paul and Kucinich, in that order, should tell the Tweedledum and Tweedledee Parties where to get off, and run anyway.

But Why?

The Tories are making hay, of course. But their party is now so confined to the South East and East Anglia that it has no more chance of removing the Government than has, say, the SNP, or Plaid Cymru, or any of the parties peculiar to Northern Ireland. (In which case, with no Tory bogeyman that really exists, what is the point of the Labour Party?)

And anyway, what political difference would a Tory victory make? There is none. But that will be the question, and the answer, that really matter over the next year and a half.

A Saint Andrew's Day Message

Today should be a public holiday throughout the United Kingdom, as should Saint George's Day, Saint David's Day and Saint Patrick's Day.

Since SNP types sometimes take an interest in this blog, where is your referendum? On the contrary, Lord Salmond is increasingly dependent on the Tories (which most of your voters really are anyway), and is actively plotting to become even more so. So what is now the point of the SNP? How very Pyrrhic your victory now seems to have been.

You Have Only Yourselves To Blame

The Labour MPs who read this blog - both those who send regular emails telling me to keep it up, and those who send regular emails telling me to curl up and die, as well as any others - have only themselves to blame. The same is true of every Labour MP who failed to sign John McDonnell's nomination papers. Hard Left? Once upon a time, perhaps. But he had made the journey from Labour Left to Labour mainstream, rather than from anti-Labour sectarian Left to anti-Labour neocon. As I say, you have only yourselves to blame. And the country at large has only you to blame.

"The Moral Collapse Of A Once-Great Party"

Peter Oborne on spectacularly good form.

Who now remembers that it was Churchill who once called the unions "one of the pillars of our civilisation"? And who even knows that, until the airbrushed John Smith's unutterably tragic death, Tony Blair had been planning to leave Parliament at the 1997 Election, secure in the knowledge that at Smith's first, or certainly second, reshuffle, he would have been out of the Cabinet?

Smith's only true heirs are here, and above all here.

Bitter And Twisted

A Stalinist-turned-neocon blog to which I will never link carries an article shrieking hysterically that those who were wrong about the defining issue of the next generation and more are not receiving the media coverage that they feel is their due, whereas those who were right (Claire Fox, Neil Clark, Rod Liddle, and others) are ubiquitous. Boo, hoo.

Just how much brass neck does Straight Left need to have to question other people's political roots and past lives? Just how much brass neck does any neocon need to have in order to do so? They should leave that to those of us with no such roots or past lives except in the Labour Party, the Co-operative Party, the Fabian Society, the Christian Socialist Movement, and the mainstream public sector trade unions.

And just how much brass neck do the devotees of Oliver Kamm need to have in order to accuse anyone else of being part of a "personality cult"? Alas, these people really do believe his fantasies about Neil Clark and "Green Goddess", about me and Martin Miller, and so forth. Unlike Kamm himself, they are mad rather than bad.

But, of course, it is Kamm himself - bad, wicked, evil, a sort of Charles Manson figure - who is in fact guilty of pseudonymously editing his own Wikipedia entry in order to claim that he a Times columnist when he isn't, and of a campaign of criminal harassment against Neil for two years and counting just because Neil gave his ridiculous book a richly deserved bad review.

No wonder that Kamm is now pretty much blacklisted by the media, and comments stating these facts are left up on their blogs, whereas those repeating Kamm's lies and his followers' fantasies are rapidly deleted.

I Demand My 15 Days

For the views about Islam expressed on this blog, I demand the badge of honour that is imprisonment for 15 days in Sudan.

Floundering On The Northern Rock

In the House of Commons yesterday, Mark Field, Tory MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, objected in the strongest possible terms to the Government's help for Northern Rock, since the employees and small shareholders are in the North East. Good to see the Tories becoming a national party again.

Meanwhile, how will the Lib Dems' approach influence their attempts to keep control of Newcastle City Council, especially when set alongside their ethnic cleansing of the working class there?

Every burnt out car and boarded up shop front in the North East cries out for a proper Opposition to New Labour. Where is it? Here, that's where. And nowhere else at all.


The outrage is correct, as are the Lib Dems to demand to know why government departments do not purchase Remploy goods and services. But have either the Tories or the Lib Dems, not to say Labour critics, given up both on the "free" market generally and on the EU in particular? If not, then they are in no position to comment.

Bread And Butter Politics

No time to blog last night or until now today, alas. Anyway, Their Lordships were much vexed yesterday about the provision of sandwiches in Their Lordships' House. But this excellent comestible can be prepared even by a servant possessing only the most basic of skills, or, in extreme necessity, by oneself. First, purchase a loaf of bread...

"Labour Friends of Israel"?

Twice now. And that's before anyone investigates Sir Ronnie Cohen's tax status.

Not Israel as such. Certainly not "the Jews" as such. But LFI, as such. Deeply, deeply, deeply dodgy.

Is LFI really about Israel at all, or just about the cover of being able to shriek "anti-Semitism" and "Holocaust" if questioned? We are about to find out.

Thursday 29 November 2007

An Undesirable Alien

Berezovsky must be deported.

An Islamic America?

Almost certainly, if current trends continue. Matching, of course, an Islamic Europe, and not least an Islamic Britain.

Immigration, which capitalism of course requires be unrestricted, is a factor here. But it is less and less so. The spread of Islam among blacks (with their massively influential popular culture) and Hispanics in the US matches its spread among British youths of Afro-Caribbean extraction, and also among white, middle-class, often female seekers after something more than our decayed, violent hedonism. There are already well over sixty thousand Muslims in the White British ethnic group. Just project that figure over the next hundred, or even only fifty, years. And that's only the White British ethnic group.

We need to re-learn the value of structured daily prayer, of setting aside one day in seven, of fasting, of almsgiving, of pilgrimage, of the global community of faith as the primary focus of personal allegiance and locus of personal identity, of the lesser outward and greater inward struggle, of the need for a comprehensive and coherent critique both of capitalism and of Marxism, of the coherence between faith and reason, and of a consequent integrated view of art and science.

The answer to the challenge of the Sunna is Sacred Tradition. The answer to the challenge of the Imamate is the Petrine Office. And the answer to the challenge of Sufism is our own tradition of mysticism and monasticism.

Liberal Catholics will be the last to see the point.

Sua Culpa?

These questions must be answered.

Dare I Say This?

First Michael Levy, and now the latest goings on. Has anything ever corrupted the Labour Party more than the Israel Lobby? And what would one discover if one went looking through its links to the other parties? Not "the Jews". Not even Israel herself, at least not directly. But the Israel Lobby in this country.

From Sun Hill To Cranford

Not for the first time, Baftas all round to the Police, this time for the football corruption arrests. They really are among the greatest theatrical talents in the land. So much so, that it's a wonder they are not on Cranford, where a vacancy now exists following the death of Dame Eileen Atkins's character.

Will there actually be any charges? Just Google for "John Yates" (and where is his Bafta Fellowship to go with his K or Big P?) to find the answer to that one. The difference being, in this case, that those arrested really might be innocent after all.

Well, Of Course

John Howard's successor as Leader of the Australian Liberal Party was very nearly Malcolm Turnbull, erstwhile leader of the campaign to abolish the monarchy in Australia.

Well, of course.

If you believe in "meritocracy" (that those with wealth and paper qualifications should determine merit, on the basis of wealth and paper qualifications), in globalisation (with its erosion of national and local differences), and, within that, in enforced conformity to the culture (in a horribly debased form) and to the geopolitical interests of the United States, then you must believe in the abolition of the monarchy, whether in Australia, in Britain, or anywhere else.

Thankfully, these are exactly the notions that have just been rejected at the ballot box in Australia, and will be again when the next republic referendum comes along. Will the Australian Political Class get the message this time?

Who She?

On this afternoon's World At One, Martha "Coffee and Underwear" Kearney referred to someone called "Kosova". Who she? And I don't just mean Kosova.

Neither Great Nor Good

Sunny Hundal is one of the Great and the Good of British blogging, and specifically one of the (wholly self-appointed) arbiters of acceptable left-wing opinion. Warmongers all, of course. Anyway, against that background, check out this article of Hundal's on the model state in the Middle East. Er, Dubai...

As Neil Clark puts it: "Why on earth does the BBC (owned by us, dear reader, let's not forget) see it as its mission to promote this very silly man, whenever they have a programme on blogging?"

Marxists For Global Capitalism

Well, of course. Capitalism leads to Marxism, or else to Jacobinism, anarchism or Fascism. Such is the reaction of the despairing millions to the effects of capitalism on their lives.

That's why we need social democracy, in order to conserve everything that conservatives exist to conserve, both against capitalism itself and against the reactions against it.

That's why, in fact within social democracy, we need the employers like Taki's father (and, one trusts, Taki himself) recently cited most favourably in a High Life column as keeping wage disparity to a minimum in order to prevent the rise of Communism.

And that's why, behind both of these and more, we need Catholic Social Teaching, the most (indeed, to the best of my knowledge, the only) comprehensive conservative critique of capitalism.

Wednesday 28 November 2007

Our Blue Is Their Red, Our Red Is Their Blue

Following the news in a comment below that the Tory Whips' Office is covered with posters for Hillary Clinton, can anyone think of a member of the current Shadow Cabinet who, if an American, could not conceivably be a registered Democrat? Or, indeed, of a member of the current Cabinet who, if an American, could not conceivably be a registered Republican, even if a strong supporter of Giuliani? Indeed, is it conceivable that Cameron and those around him could be Republicans at all, Giuliani or no Giuliani? Liberal posh boys were a generation or more ago. But now? I don't think so.

In No Position To Comment

Things would have been any better under the Tories how, exactly? Black Wednesday Dave is in no position to comment. Nobody is going to lose their job or their home because of any of this. But they did the last time that David Cameron was allowed anywhere near the running of anything.

"The Spectre Of Iran"

This was proclaimed over and over again by the BBC as the reason why Arab countries - even Syria! - had turned up to Annapolis. Expect a lot more of this gibberish. In the extremely unlikely event that an Iranian nuclear weapon ever comes into being, or is even being sought, then it will be a threat to precisely one state in the world, and that state already has nuclear weapons anyway.

Furthermore, that state now contains so few people to whom even the most deranged Iranian elements might object, and is well on course to contain fewer and fewer such in the coming decades until there are quite possibly none at all by about the middle of this century, that it simply would not be worth Iran's while to launch a nuclear strike, especially given the number of Muslims, Sephardic Jews, ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionists, peaceniks, and for that matter Holocaust-deniers (let in from Russia under the Law of Return), who would inevitably be killed.

Nuclear weapons capable of reaching America from Iran? Or even of reaching Britain? Or even of reaching France or Germany? Any Iranian desire to attack any of those countries in the first place? Get a grip! Next you'll be saying that nuclear weapons can reach them from Mesopotamia (whence, again, they would have to have been launched for some unknown reason), can be deployed within 45 minutes, and can be completely undetectable by any means whatever.

A Russian Missile Shield In Serbia?

Here's hoping.

Dare They?

Chris Huhne has let the Government off the hook completely if he has reported the latest goings on to its wholly owned subsidiary, the Metropolitan Police, which could not even bring itself to charge anyone in relation to the flagrant sale of knighthoods and peerages.

Still, good luck to him in goading Labour and the Tories into a libel action on that question. The look of terror on that ridiculous Bradshaw creature's face said it all. As soon as this is in front of a jury, then the game is up. So, dare Labour and the Tories sue?

Of course, the Lib Dems have not payed back two million pounds received from a man subsequently imprisoned for perjury.

It's time to sweep away the lot of them.

Bunny Girl

Yesterday's Guardian (although I can't find a link, but I have the paper copy in front of me) reported that the ultra-feminist Hillary Clinton was being supported by Hugh Heffner. Would further comment be superfluous?

Lucky Little Belgium; Lucky Great Britain?

Neil Clark writes, in this week's New Statesman:

"Now that we have a high-speed rail link to Brussels, maybe Britain's transport chiefs could take a look at the rest of the Belgian rail network. For, when it comes to public transport, it's the much-derided Belgians who have the last laugh on us Brits.

Like Britain, Belgium is small and densely populated. But, unlike Britain, it has a co-ordinated, fit-for-purpose, publicly owned public transport system. Belgian Railways is the cheapest network in western Europe, with ticket prices that should make train travellers in the UK green with envy. In Britain, a next-day, peak-time return ticket from Manchester to London (200 miles) costs just over £200. In Belgium, the cost of a similar journey is less than £24.

Not only are Belgian fares cheaper, the ticketing system is simpler. In Britain, there are more than 200 types of railway ticket, depending on dates, time of travel and time of booking. In Belgium, price is determined by distance - a system despised by free-market fundamentalists. Prices don't go up in the rush hour: Belgian Railways simply puts on more trains and carriages. It has no problem meeting capacity because it owns its own rolling stock.

What a contrast to Britain, where commuters on the nation's most overcrowded routes are told they will have to wait three years for an end to their ordeal, because the train companies refuse to order new carriages until their contracts are extended.
A publicly owned transport system also means that the various modes - train, bus, tram - can be co-ordinated. In Ghent, you get off a train and a tram is waiting to take you to the city centre (for E1.50, the set fare on all Belgium's trams and buses). In Britain, despite the government's exhortations, the system remains fragmented.

Anyone who has travelled on both the British and the Belgian systems knows which is better. Yet, incredibly, the Belgian model is under threat from neoliberals in the EU. In the name of "competition", they are calling for the end of national rail monopolies and for transport to be opened to foreign companies.

In October, after intense pressure from corporate lobbyists, the European Parliament voted for the liberalisation of all international rail services from 2010, and for the European Commission to report no later than 2012 on the liberalisation of domestic rail services.

This pressure is coming from Britain; opposition is led by France and Belgium. In other words, we are calling for the rest of Europe to follow our flawed model, dreamt up by the free-market ideologues of the Adam Smith Institute.

On my last trip to Belgium, I travelled by train from Oxford to Waterloo International. At Oxford Station the ticket office was closed, and the departure board was not operating. As a train pulled into Platform 1, bewildered passengers asked each other if they knew where it was going.

A few hours later I was in the Gare du Midi, Brussels, from where an efficient and cheap underground system took me directly into the centre of the city.

Belgium may be only a short distance across the North Sea, but as far as public transport is concerned, it's a different world."

Having wrecked public transport here, New Labour and its Tory and Lib Dem satellites are determined to wreck it on the Continent, too, by means of the wretched European Union. But there is now an alternative. So come on board.

Tuesday 27 November 2007

Considerably Richer Than You

Those of us who have received this Harry Enfield response, almost in so many words, when we have dared to challenge the hegemony of this country's eye-poppingly corrupt Political Class may now look forward to the next time that they, now utterly exposed as cast-iron crooks, try and use it. We don't even need much money, if we have sufficiently strong local candidates. Indeed, the public mood is now such that Election campaigns which are really just ostentatious displays of the wealth of one's friends (often obtained at public expense) will go down very badly indeed. But no one inside the bunker can begin to understand this.

Hungary: One To Watch

Neil Clark rightly writes:

What Hungary shows is that the real divide in the world today is not so much between traditional socialists and conservatives, but between those who support the neoliberal globalist agenda of privatisation, tax cuts for the rich and running the economy for the benefit of global capital, and those who believe that maintaining economic sovereignty and safeguarding the interests of ordinary working people should come first.

As neoliberal "reforms" become ever more severe and unpopular all over the world, we can expect this new, left-right anti-globalisation alliance to gain even greater strength.

Poll To Poll

The latest polls put "Others" on fourteen per cent. But time was when the BBC could only bring itself to call UKIP "Others" and leave the matter there even when it took more votes than the Lib Dems. So, who are these "Others"? I think we should be told.

And, as ever, somewhere between thirty-four and thirty-eight per cent of respondents, or possibly even more these days, have been discounted for headline purposes because they are determined not to vote for anyone, since there is no one for them to vote for.

Let's go to work.

Till The Day I Die

Yes, the proposal to incorporate a Welsh dragon into the Union Flag is silly. Not least, what will become of the flags of those other sovereign states, and of one of the United States of America, which themselves incorporate the Union Flag?

Instead, versions of the Union Flag might be shown in which, in a circle in the centre, only that of Saint George, Saint Andrew or Saint Patrick remains, or a Welsh dragon is indeed superimposed, in place of the current flags of the parts of the United Kingdom.

Better still, the Union Flag should be recognised as the only official flag of each of the four parts, and God Save The Queen as the only official anthem, whatever folkloric attachment there might be to others in practice, as is already the case with, in particular, the Royal Flag of Scotland, and Flower of Scotland or Land Of My Fathers. Thus, for example, when two parts of the United Kingdom played each other at sport, only the Union Flag would be flown, and only God Save The Queen would be sung.

Is This The End Of Harriet Harman?

She can be a totally unreconstructed man-hating fanatic from the Seventies. She can be an erstwhile but unrepentant associate of the Paedophile Information Exchange. She could be the Henry Jackson Society's and the Euston Manifesto Group's duly and openly nominated candidate to split the anti-war majority vote, by means of sheer Straussian deceit, in order to deny the Labour Deputy Leadership to Jon Cruddas. But has Hatty's luck finally run out?

I hope not, because men - and their wives, mothers, daughters, friends and acquaintances - might have some cause to vote Labour if it has. So might people who believe that there is something objectionable about sex between men and boys. And so might opponents of the neoconservative war agenda in all its mendacity. As it is, none of these people should consider for one moment voting for a party which gives house room to Harriet Harman (among others). So, long may Hatty remain, say I.

Thatcher's Children

As even a bank still stands on the brink of nationalisation, it is clear that precisely six of Margaret Thatcher's doings have really endured: the Single European Act (with its abrogation of the principle of unanimity in the Council of Ministers), the Anglo-Irish Agreement (with its concession of joint sovereignty over Northern Ireland, a direct surrender to terrorism), the evisceration of local government, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, the replacement of O-levels with GCSEs, and the creation of the previously unthinkable phenomenon of millions of dole claimants at any given time.

The first two would be far easier to reverse than is generally supposed. Reversing the third would take more work, but could certainly be done. And the fourth and fifth could be swept away tomorrow. But the sixth is completely entrenched. Good luck to Gordon Brown following his latest recitation of the same old speech always delivered by any politician on this matter. But, as much as anything else, far too many people are employed to service mass unemployment for anything very much ever to be done about it. They would deny it, but they, more than anyone else at all, are Thatcher's Children.

Things To Name "Muhammad"

Any suggestions?

Monday 26 November 2007

Shocked and Appalled

David Irving and Nick Griffin arrived for a debate at the Oxford Union wearing lounge suits and neckties. I am shocked. And appalled. In response to an earlier post, an irate Oxonian whose institutional self-importance had been questioned called Durham "second-rate". Well, we might not have the artificial advantage of a copyright library by law. And we might not have the social cachet that comes from admitting almost entirely from the 150 poshest schools in the country. But at least we always dress properly.

Who He?

Any information on Hashim Thaci, the Kosovo "Liberation" Army spokesman given uncritical credence on the Aaronovitch Blair Hagiography last night?


Dianne Hayter has hitherto always been one of those people who are around politics for ever without ever entering, because without ever seeking, the limelight. But on the front cover of her rather good book, Fightback! - Labour's Traditional Right in the 1970s and 1980s, she is depicted, addressing a meeting from that period, with black hair. Yet on Newsnight this evening, some 25 or so years later, her hair was blonde. Fightback, indeed.

More Like 1907 Than 2007

I've highlighted the very best bits of this by Mick Hall:

"Unless a tiny miracle happens and a new Left Party is formed before the next UK General Election, I doubt after that election there will be a single working class MP in the Westminister Parliament and by working class I loosely mean manual worker. We have already reached the stage when if you look at the class backgrounds of the current crop of honorable members, it appears to be more like 1907 than 2007. It is as if the major social changes that took place in the UK over the three decades that followed WW2 never happened, as these days almost the entire House of Commons comes from the urban middle classes. The odd Toff still sit on the green benches of the Commons and as place-men in the House of Lords, but the working classes are becoming invisible from both Houses of Parliament.

Take the Liberal-Democrat’s leadership contest between Christopher Huhne and Nicholas Clegg, about the only nod they give to the working class is to emulate Blair by shortened their christian names to Nick and Chris, believing that by so doing the electorate will see them as classless and not as they undoubtedly are the product of the wretched elitist English class system. That both men were educated at Westminster and Oxbridge in itself demonstrates what a small pond the Parties at Westminister now prefer to fish in when looking for a Party leader. If Tony Blair were still in power all three of the main parties would have been led by a public school, Oxbridge educated politico, as I said welcome to 1907. Just how unrepresentative these Party leaders are of modern Britain is demonstrated by the fact that in the nation as a whole only eight percent of the UK population attend independent fee-paying schools.

In the last ten year of a Labour government, we have witnessed the English middle classes gradually clawing back the political and cultural space they lost to the working classes between the years 1945-79. Above I have used Parliament as an example of this, but I could have equally used local Government, the arts and media. The Blairites have removed entirely via their Governmental Quangos, working class people from the type of oversight committees that used to govern at local levels the NHS, Social Security, DHSS Tribunals and Education. Workers used to be nominated to these committees and tribunals through their trade union branches, district committees and Trades Councils, not any more. Today all of these bodies have been replaced by Quangos, to gain membership of which one must have a professional qualification or ministerial approval. Just as in the 19th and early 20th Century the middle classes used ownership of property as a bar on working class inclusion in the nations affairs, today they are using professional qualifications and the old boys network. [how else can one explain that 30 percent of MP’s went to Oxbridge and a fee paying school when as I have already said the national average is only eight percent.]

The media has also filleted working class people from the airways and editorial offices, for example one is more likely to see an old Etonian presenting Breakfast Time TV than a working class lad who went to his local comprehensive. Listen to the radio these days and you will be hard pressed to hear a regional accent. True we have not seen the return of the cut glass BBC accents which were prevalent prior to the mid 1960s, what you get today is an un-placeable drawl which basically amounts to Estuary English tidied up, or campness made respectable. We are also beginning to see the return of middle class actors doing their stuff portraying cor-blimey working class people as either the salt of the earth who know their place, or Blaggers and junkies with no in between. It is as if the media world has been taken over by Guardian readers, but Guardian readers without a hearts or soul.

Those middle class people who out of opportunist greed and self interest believed it was wise to remove the English working classes from any contact with the levers of political power, are playing a very dangerous game. Europe is not the USA and England is not New Jersey. The main reason this country unlike elsewhere in the world saw so little internal conflict in the 20th Century was because the working classes had created the LP through which they could channel their political demands. If this avenue continues to be stifled or closed off to us, then we may well look for more militant means to get our voices heard; and some Middle class people may well get to re-learn the lessons of 1917, the hard way.*

* Before someone mentions the violent conflict that occurred in the north of Ireland during the latter part of the 20th Century, this reinforces my point as there was no Labour type party there to which the nationalist working class could turn to settle their genuine grievances."

Or the Unionist working class, of course.

Sunday 25 November 2007

A Light In The South

The incoming Australian Government will no doubt hold another referendum on abolishing the monarchy (any party has to appease certain interests), but will no doubt endure another No vote.

After all, by rejecting John Howard, Australians have rejected every anti-monarchist argument, not least "meritocracy" (that those with wealth and paper qualifications should determine merit, on the basis of wealth and paper qualifications), globalisation (with its erosion of national and local differences), and, within that, enforced conformity to the culture (in a horribly debased form) and to the geopolitical interests of the United States.

Nothing could better encapsulate that rejection than another vote to retain the institution that, across so many Realms and Territories, stands for and embodies something so much better, so much nobler, so much more humane. God Save The Queen!

But the sound of the ubiquitous Jacksonite and Eustonite Denis MacShane touting himself as a personal friend of Kevin Rudd's is certainly a cause for concern. Where is the Australian People's Alliance?

Oxford Blues

On one level, who cares whether or not some student society invites Nick Griffin or David Irving to address it? Least of all when the grown-up, permanently resident, working, tax-paying City of Oxford is politically one of the most interesting places in Britain today.

Yet where is the coverage of the fact that no Tory Councillor has been returned there, whether at City or at County level, for a good many years now, giving the lie to the alleged continuing existence of the Tory bogeyman without which there is no point to the Labour Party? (Are there still any Tory Councillors in Cambridge, either? There certainly isn’t a Tory MP there these days.)

Where is the coverage of the rise of the Green Party in Oxford’s middle-class wards, a clear indication that the Guardian Tendency is detachable from the Labour coalition if given any alternative, and is by no means necessarily susceptible to the charms of the Lib Dems (again, if given an alternative)?

Where is the coverage of the rise, on Oxford’s council estates, of the Independent Working Class Association, which has about as many councillors nationwide as the two Respect factions put together, yet of which almost no one has ever heard? And where is the coverage of the fraught relationship between Oxford’s Greens and the IWCA, a microcosm with profound implications for the impending, not to say ongoing, realignment of the British Left?

Still, since apparently we must treat the Oxford Union as an institution of earth-shattering importance both absolutely and compared to the above trivialities, one trusts that those who have clamoured to keep out Griffin and Irving will react in the same way to any invitation to, say, those who lied this country into war. Or the utterly unrepentant old Stalinists, Trotskyists and Mugabe-worshippers in New Labour and the Euston Manifesto Group. Or the utterly unrepentant old bag men of apartheid South Africa, Ian Smith’s Rhodesia and Pinochet’s Chile in the Henry Jackson Society and throughout the currently dominant generation of Tories. Or those who treasonably discharge their parliamentary duties under the day-to-day direction of the American neoconservative junta. Or the supporters of militant Islam in Kosovo, in Chechnya, in Turkey, in Pakistan, previously in Bosnia and Afghanistan, effectively in Iraq, and putatively in Syria. Or the cheerleaders for Nazism in Bosnia, Kosovo, Denmark, Flanders, and among the Russians let into Israel as a result of the Law of Return. To name but a few.

Without Sweetness

It is time to stop patting Condoleezza Rice on the head for being a black woman, and ask how a record like hers would be regarded if it were that of a white, male third-generation university graduate, rather than that of a black, female, third-generation university graduate.

Why Not Kucinich?

Because he supports mass immigration's theft of the jobs of the black and white American working class, driving down of that class's wages and working conditions, and oppressing it by means of enforced bilingualism.

And because he wants to build social democracy (insofar as he could, in view of the foregoing) at federal level, which cannot be done: only states' rights, as advocated by Ron Paul, can bring social democracy to America, just as only national sovereignty can restore social democracy to Europe.

A Ron Paul running mate, perhaps. But not President.

Once Again, With Feeling

Hurrah! England has been drawn against Croatia again. Here's hoping that this will guarantee English non-qualification for the World Cup.

No television schedules butchered. No twenty minutes of half-hour news bulletins given over to this non-news. No hordes of oafs showing us up in front of the rest of the world (and I don't just mean off the pitch). No pretending that the England team stands any realistic chance of winning the tournament itself. No fake patriotism of the Saint George's Flag variety from those who seem genuinely unaware that when the black writing, often even in a form of Gothic script, is added, the thing could not possibly look more German.

And, with a bit of self-made luck, the opportunity to concentrate instead on the real threats to our country, including (though by no means restricted to) the mass adoration of uneducated, drunken, drug-addled, obscenely overpaid wife-beaters and gang-rapists. Come on, Croatia!

Saturday 24 November 2007

In Reality

Two very odd emails this morning, from old friends of mine who, to the best of my knowledge, have never heard of each other. One is really quite high up on the staff of Someone Tremendously Important in America. The other is one of the Jedi moles inside the Death Star at Brussels. Anyway, they have both emailed me to ask if Oliver Kamm is a spoof. Clearly, this is becoming the received wisdom in some very high places indeed. How should I respond, and why?

Friday 23 November 2007

Taking Over The Asylum

I write this watching an asylum-seeker, of vast wealth acquired in highly dubious circumstances, using the BBC (not for the first time) as a platform from which to demand the overthrow of an elected government.

Labour MPs Questioning Brown's Leadership

Rarely, if ever, wrong.

And there will no doubt be a byelection soon enough, which the allegedly super-popular Tories will win with a massively reduced majority if it is in a Tory seat in the South East (where they already hold most of the seats anyway), but lose spectacularly if it is anywhere else at all (where they have to win seats), probably dropping to third or even fourth place, and quite conceivably losing their deposit.

So, who will go first? Brown, or Cameron? Could they both be gone by Easter?

Armed and Dangerous

Of course the Government is putting our soldiers', sailors' and airmen's lives at unnecessary risk. It is doing so by deploying them in the wholly voluntary, and not remotely defensive, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars which are now lost, but from which it refuses to extricate them.

So they should bring themselves back, to be cheered through the streets by the grateful populace, whose liberties they really would be defending by thus, without needing to fire a shot, bringing about the collapse of the ID card-wielding, prolonged detention without charge-mongering Political Class, in whose place proper politicians and parties could then re-emerge.

If the next pointless war is to be against Iran, then we should stop bothering to have our own Armed Forces at all. Instead, we should simply conscript our least accomplished 16-year-old boys directly into the Israeli Defence Force. After all, it certainly needs the manpower in a country which now contains hardly anybody except non-Jewish Arabs (the single most common name for newborn boys inside the pre-1967 Israeli borders is now Muhammad), Sephardic Jewish Arabs despised (historically to the point of irradiation) by the Zionist Ashkenazi elite, ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionists, Russian Nazis let in by the ridiculous retention of the Law of Return, and peaceniks.

If the more-or-less secular Ashknenazi base of Zionism cannot even be bothered to defend in itself by the most basic means of reproducing itself both physically and intellectually, then why should it expect anyone else to defend it by rather more exacting means? And how is a state which is in no sense part of Christendom in any sense part of the West, anyway?

The Problem, Not The Solution

"Sex education" is not the solution to the problem of the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases sweeping Britain. It is that problem. No one older than seven or eight can now be in the slightest doubt as to where babies come from, and no one older than 11 or 12 can now be in the slightest doubt as to how to put on a condom. Yet ... well, we all know yet what. When something is as spectacularly unsuccessful as this, then, at the very least, it ought to be discontinued as a matter of the utmost urgency.

Thursday 22 November 2007

Afghanistan Is Lost

As the Tsars failed to conquer Afghanistan, as Imperial Britain failed to conquer Afghanistan, and as the Soviet Union failed to conquer Afghanistan, so the "coalition" has failed to conquer Afghanistan.

Well, what else did anyone expect?

No, Of Course Not

Is one in twenty of us, or even one in a hundred, not the child of his or her supposed father? No, of course not. These surveys attract people who have always suspected as much. The wonder is that the figure is not even higher than one in twenty. But there is nothing remotely representative about any of this. And it is certainly no argument for insanely listing two women as a child's parents on his or her birth certificate.

Public Failures

One of the oddest things about the Political Class's hatred of the public sector is that so few of the former's members have worked much, if at all, in the private sector that they are nevertheless utterly convinced would be so much better at delivering public services, despite not only the dearth of evidence to that effect, but now the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Could it be that if they actually knew anything about the private sector, then they would know that, whatever else it might be good at, it is wholly inappropriate to these particular tasks?

No member of the present Cabinet has ever worked in the private sector. Not one. Ever. Of everyone who was ever a Cabinet Minister under Tony Blair, only two had ever done so: John Prescott, as a ship's steward in the 1950s; and Alan Milburn, the obsessive privatiser of the NHS, running a Trotskyist bookshop called Days of Hope, known to its clientele as "Haze of Dope".

As for Blair himself, Peter Hitchens, in particular, was never able to trace anyone whom he had ever represented in court. Has anyone out there ever been either represented in court, or taught as a student, by Gordon Brown?

All in all, our lords and masters seem to hate the public sector, not out of ignorance of it, but because they themselves were rubbish at doing what it does. So they want to make what it does rubbish all round, by handing over those functions to people and organisations whose expertise is entirely elsewhere.

Where The Real Talent Is

I've nothing against football, but I'm not a fan. However, it has been hard to avoid today. Much opinion seems to be that the new England manager, or whatever he is now called, should look beyond the pampered, petulant, pretty-boy Premiership to the real talent in the Championship.

Likewise, say I, we should be looking for parliamentarians from outside the pampered, petulant, pretty-boy Political Class, seeking them instead among those who, like Championship and non-league football clubs, have strong local bases, and close ties to wider civil society.

Of Parades and Freedom

Right about now, the Royal Anglian Regiment, back from Afghanistan, will be exercising its Freedom of the City of Norwich by means of a parade. Jolly good. Now let all our Armed Forces "exercise the freedom" of Britain by parading through the streets having brought themselves back from Afghanistan and Iraq.

And let the Political Class that sent them there, to whom they have not sworn allegiance (but rather to the Crown, i.e., to our ancient liberties) come tumbling down as a result, taking with it its ID cards, its prolonged detention without charge, and all the rest of its assaults on the very things that our soldiers, sailors and airmen have sworn to defend.

Carry On Invading

Yes, I do know that Seamus Milne was in Straight Left. But, unlike some, he has clearly seen the error of his ways:

You might have thought that the catastrophe of Iraq and the bloody failure of Afghanistan would have at least dampened western enthusiasm for invading and occupying other people's countries in the name of humanitarianism. But if the past week or so is anything to go by, such chastening has proved short-lived, at least in Britain. First there was Gordon Brown's reassertion, in his speech at the Lord Mayor's banquet, of the west's right to intervene behind state borders, followed within a couple of days by his foreign secretary David Miliband's declaration in Bruges that the European Union must be prepared to deploy hard military power beyond its own borders.

Then came what was described as an "impassioned defence of liberal interventionism" by Jonathan Powell, who until a few months ago was Tony Blair's chief of staff. Sounding like an apologist for a defeated regime who has learned nothing from its worst excesses - perhaps understandably - Powell restated the case for what another former Blair adviser, Robert Cooper, praised as "a new kind of imperialism" as if the last six years had never happened. Or, rather, happened differently.

The problem with the Iraq war, Powell seems to have convinced himself, is simply that "we were not successful on the ground". Nobody would have bothered about the lack of UN resolutions or the absence of weapons of mass destruction, he seems to believe, if the occupation had somehow worked or been accepted by Iraqis - though perhaps some international support would have been useful as well.

He draws this conclusion from the fact that none of the other three of what he calls "our four wars" - Sierra Leone, Kosovo and Afghanistan - was fought in self-defence or directly sanctioned by the UN. Yet "no one" in the west questioned them or complained, he claims, because they were a success or at least a short-term success. This is nonsense. Every single intervention was widely challenged and it would be hard to chalk up the reverse ethnic cleansing of the half-frozen conflict in Kosovo, the thousands killed in Afghanistan this year or even the misery and corruption of semi-colonial Sierra Leone as western achievements.

Like Blair, Powell clearly itches to invade Zimbabwe and Burma and claims "we" would tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran if only it were democratic. Like Pakistan, presumably. And after praising a string of unilateral interventions, the former Downing Street chief of staff only ends up favouring some kind of "rules-based system" of international relations because "other big countries" may too become superpowers and want to throw their military weight about as well.

This mentality is a recipe for global aggression and lawlessness. The experience of the past decade has driven home the incendiary dangers when the global powers arrogate to themselves the right to attack or invade other countries under the banner of human rights, acting as judge and jury in their own cause and in the certain knowledge that they will never be subject to the same violent sanction for their own violations of humanitarian and international law.

"We should have been clear we were removing Saddam because he was a ruthless dictator suppressing his people," Powell now declares. He should have added: "who defied western power, unlike other ruthless dictators we support in his region and around the world."

Any rules-based system of international relations has to apply to the powerful as well as the weak, allies as well as enemies, or it isn't a system of rules at all: it's a system of imperial power enforcement. By invading Iraq on a false pretext and bathing the country in blood with complete international impunity, the US and Britain have made the chances of a genuinely universal, rules-based system for humanitarian intervention even less likely. And of course Jonathan Powell has played his part in that to the full.

I Trust That You Are All Reading This Without Difficulty Today

I expect, in accordance with past form (shall we say...), that there will be no problem now that this situation has actually been discussed on here.

It's no wonder there are bombs. Still, the idiot younger sons of the gentry have to be given something to do, I suppose. Let's just say that this is not my first ever dealing with them, and that they've never won yet...

You haven't seen my inbox from people I've known for donkey's years, now spread across various sections of public service. Most of them have never tried to access this from work (good to know - keep those noses to the grindstone), but when they did, it was blocked, although other blogs weren't.

Personally, I think that either or both of Sean Phillips and A Friend might be spoofs. But I know that my correspondents elsewhere aren't. And I know that the computers on which I have actually seen this phenomenon during the last 48 hours aren't. So Sean Philips and A Friend spoke much truer than they knew.

And is this anonymous comment, placed this morning, also rather close to the mark?:

The one thing they fear most is the re-emergence of the Old Labour Right.

They have convinced everyone that they are the Labour Right "like your parents voted for in the non-swinging provincial Sixties" when in fact they are not even the Labour Left.

They are the anti-Labour Left of the old WRP and IMG and all that, gone home to middle-class suburbia after university and its immediate aftermath. But basically unchanged. And now running the country.

But then you come along. And thank God for that.

I rather suspect so.

Wednesday 21 November 2007

Ron Paul: Towards An American Left

Ron Paul wants to roll back the frontiers of the federal state. Good. The US, like the EU, is far too large and far too diverse for social democracy at federal level. Unhitch states' rights from slavery or segregation (the former having long been against the explicit text of the Constitution, while the latter can never return now that blacks have the vote), and that principle is just what America needs in order to produce a proper Left, doing things at state and local level.

Formula Milking

At today's PMQs, the redoubtable Ronnie Campbell (look out for whichever ghastly latte-swilling lobotomy case is parachuted in to replace him) asked why the Barnett Formula could not be extended to the English regions. Of course, he received no sort of answer from Brown.

But the Barnett Formula should not be extended. It should be abolished. The devolved body in Scotland has revenue-raising power of its own, which it has never felt any need to use no matter how lavish its spending: free university tuition, free prescriptions, free personal care for the elderly, and so forth.

And in any case, there should be precisely one criterion for spending: need. Need among Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions. And just as importantly, need within them.

Spending money in Scotland or the North East, say, does not automatically constitute helping on the poor, and might very well constitute helping the well-to-do, as it often does. Likewise, I have honestly never seen poverty elsewhere in this country any worse than that in London or on the South Coast (although I have seen it just as bad in the North East, by God I have - so much for 10 years of a County Durham MP as Prime Minister).

Ronnie Campbell has spending money in his Blyth Valley constituency in mind. And why not? But how much of it would actually end up there, and how much in the pockets of the residents of, say, Corbridge, or the poshest Newcastle wards? Just as Barnett Formula money currently ends up in the pockets of the residents of, say, Eastwood, or Edinburgh Pentlands. I say again, the Barnett Formula should simply be abolished. Nothing should matter except need.

Mind Your Language

If Gaelic needs a BBC television channel to keep it going, then its speakers should just give up. And that is the case being made: not that this channel is needed in order to serve Gaelic-speakers as, say, BBC One serves English-speakers, or indeed S4C serves Welsh-speakers, but rather that it is needed in order to save the language itself from extinction. How, exactly? Are people going to be compelled to watch it, and then to discuss in Gaelic what they have just viewed? (It is also always worth noting that there are absolutely no monoglot speakers of any of the Celtic languages.)

Welsh was all but illegal into the twentieth century, but it survives and thrives. Whereas Irish is an official language of Northern Ireland the only official language of the Republic, yet it is all but dead. However strongly I might believe in a great deal of State action, or indeed however critical I might be of a great deal of other State action, there are some areas in which it makes not the blindest bit of difference one way or the other. And this is one of them.

What is not one of them, however, is the enforced bilingualism or multilingualism used to keep down the working class, broadly defined ("anyone who works", "anyone who can be sacked"), in Wales, and increasingly in Northern Ireland, in London, in certain other urban centres, and wherever there are concentrations of recent immigrants. It must end in those places, and it must not be permitted to happen in the North of Scotland or anywhere else. You know what you have to do.

Ian's Place

I never link to Harry's Place, of course. But I have been emailed about today's discussion of Ian Smith there. All fears confirmed in full: where this meets this, and where this (which Durham County Council will let me access) meets this (which it won't - why not?), there is the "anti-totalitarianism" and the "liberal interventionism" of the "decent Left".

Not Before Time

After the Bevin Boys, a hint at today's PMQs of recognition for the Women's Land Army. And like the Bevin Boys, not before time. How was either allowed to endure such indignity for so long? This ought to be an enormous double scandal, all over both the mainstream media and the blogosphere. Why isn't it?

Who Won In The End?

"Under Margaret Thatcher, the Conservatives were able to highlight the growing economic opportunities offered by the market, making it increasingly clear as to which was the winning side," writes Peter Franklin.

Really? We are on the brink of nationalising a bank (which used to be much better-run as a mutual building society closely tied to a locality) in order to counteract the ruinous consequences of the anti-conservative "free" market for the thoroughly conservative Common Good.

What next? We shouldn't have to wait too long to find out.

If Rhodesia Had Happened Today

The Exile writes:

Smith and the Rhodesians were proto-Thatcherites who liked to pretend that they were self-sufficient pioneers. Actually most whites lived in Salisbury, the capital city, where most of them were employed as civil servants.


Had the Rhodesia Crisis happened in 2005 instead of 1965 things probably would have been very different. Those same fake-socialists who today cheer on the forward march of capitalism would, I have no doubt, have found something progressive in Ian Smith and his people. As it is they have to content themselves with the odd discrete call for the kaffir to be put firmly back in his place.

If Smith couldn't accept black suffrage until blacks had become sufficiently prosperous and well-educated to meet the property and educational qualifications for voting, then he was simply accepting Rhodesia's immaturity, and should therefore have accepted continued British rule while that immaturity remained.

The Hungarian People's Alliance

Neil Clark writes:

I've written plenty in the past year or so about the ever-worsening conditions for ordinary people in Hungary, where the privatising, neoliberal government of the millionaire Ferenc Gyurscany has imposed swingeing cutbacks in state provision. But the Hungarian people are stirring: and today there will be widespread transport strikes across the country. The strikers are protesting not only about the government's plans to close large chunks of the country's railway network, but also about the planned part-privatisation of health care. There will be a big rally at Kossuth Ter at 6pm tonight. The event is being supported not only by leftist groups and unions, but also by Hungary's conservative opposition, who, to their credit, reject the heartless neoliberal dogma of the current governing coalition, and who oppose the privatisation programme.

As all true conservatives must so reject and oppose, of course. And not only in Hungary.

The Last Straw?

In the words of an anonymous comment, referring to the blocking of this blog by government departments:

Coming out for Ron Paul was probably the last straw. Nobody, and certainly nobody in Britain, must know about him, not least because he wants to stop spending Americans' tax dollars on running other countries. Hence the Fleet Street/BBC/ITN blackout where the Ron Paul Revolution is concerned.

Any thoughts?

That's Right, Isn't It?

Also from T:

So let's get this straight.

The unrepentant old Trots and CPGB (even Straight Left) hands over at Harry's Place and the Euston Manifesto Group are all right. So are the unrepentant old lackies of the Boer Revenge Republic, the Rhodesian treason, and assorted Iberian and other Fascists (especially Pinochet) over at the Henry Jackson Society.

It is all right for them to support militant Islam in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. It is all right for them have supported it in Afghanistan, and to support making its life a whole lot easier now in Iraq, and soon in Syria.

It is all right for them to support Nazism, strictly so called and openly identifying itself as such, in Bosnia, Kosovo, Denmark, Flanders, and as a result of the Law of Return's flooding Israel with Russian Nazis.

And it is all right for them to believe, and to act on their belief, that British MPs and peers, and their counterparts throughout the world, should function as such in accordance with the direction of the junta centred on the Project for the New American Century and the American Enterprise Institute, unelected even by the American people, never mind anybody else.

But this blog undermines the British State.

That's right, isn't it?

Well, isn't it?

As Anti-British As Each Other

Thanks to T (who posts comments here) for the words of the Associated Press:

"Despite their bitter differences, Smith and Mugabe shared one common bond — their deep dislike of Britain, which they saw as a meddling colonial power.

Just as Mugabe accused former British Prime Minister Tony Blair of interfering in Zimbabwe to protect the interests of whites, Smith poured vitriol on the government of the late Harold Wilson for pressing him to hand political power to the black majority."

Mugabe was of course a hero to those who became New Labour, to those who are now the Euston Manifesto Group, and so forth. Whereas Smith was of course a hero to those whose formative political experiences were in the Federation of Conservative Students, to those who are now the Henry Jackson Society, and so forth.

But there is now an alternative to both.

"Not Appropriate"?

At 8:50 PM, Sean Phillips commented:

David, sorry to post off-topic, but why on earth has your blog been blocked by computers in government departments? I can get it at home, but at work I just get a page that says "this website is not appropriate". I can get other blogs - just not yours. What makes your blog so dangerous? Or inappropriate?

Any ideas?

Drawing A Line

"It is about drawing a line under the terrible nationalist legacy of the 1990s," David Miliband told the House of Commons about Kosovo.


Positively Public

One hundred thousand Civil Service jobs - one hundred thousand - cut when the Inland Revenue was merged with Customs & Excise. The courier service contracted out. And look what has happened. Meanwhile, also at the Treasury, Northern Rock.

No more public sector job cuts. No more contracting out; indeed, reversal of it wherever it already exists. No more demonisation of the public sector. And no subsidy without equity.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Ian Smith

Why was this man such a hero to people who, after all, would not otherwise be overly sympathetic towards acts of treason against the Queen backed up by a Boer Republic set up as an explicit act of anti-British revenge in a former Dominion of the Crown by people who had been interred during the War because of their pro-Nazi activities? For that matter, why were they so fond of that Republic? Don't give me "Mugabe". That's not the question.

Local Hero, National Hero, Global Hero

How does one nominate for the Today programme's Man of the Year? Is it too late? I feel that we should all nominate Michael Forbes, the Scottish farmer taking on Donald Trump.

Calamity Clegg, But Not Buff Huhne

I was going to entitle this Snoozenight, but in fact the Newsnight debate between Clegg and Huhne was rather good.

Clegg came across as a petulant Establishment hack aghast that anyone had the temerity to ask him any questions at all. Whereas Huhne might have put in all the usual caveats, but within that came as close as he could (so that we all knew what he really meant) to expressing sensible views on Trident, immigration, and the Euro.

Clegg was vague and sounded like a Blair throwback when asked what his price would be in the event of a hung Parliament (although a Labour-Tory coalition is what would actually happen), but Huhne was explicit in calling for, and justifying, Proportional Representation and fixed-term Parliaments.

Blair is gone, and Cameron might well be gone as soon as a byelection (for which we can't have long to wait now) exposes the true level of Tory support. So why bother with Clegg? Increasingly, I don't think that they will.

Ron Paul

Well? Can anyone think of a reason why not?

Black In The Union Jack

The black community is economically of the Left, doctrinally traditional in its Christianity, strongly family-focused, and staunchly patriotic, monarchist and pro-Commonwealth. So David Cameron has nothing to offer it. Whereas we have everything.

Stop Thatcher's Greatest Triumph

Dr John Sentamu is of course quite right.

But when the governing party has a totally unreconstructed 1970s man-hater as its Deputy Leader, and has MPs bought and paid for by the corrupt and corrupting Emily's List; and when the other two parties are just as in thrall to the same lobby; then what do you expect?

1980s consumer capitalism (nothing to do with the real consumer movement) was always the planned entrenchment of 1960s permissiveness. It was Thatcher who destroyed the economic basis of patriarchal authority, initially in working-class communities. She did that on purpose, and the effects are all around us. They are everything for which we despise her and her devotees.

So this change will represent Thatcher's greatest triumph of all, at least to date.

But there is now an alternative to the anti-male, and therefore (as much as anything else) anti-Socialist and anti-working-class, stranglehold on social policy over the last thirty years, from which women and children have suffered most.

"Voters aren't crying out for a party of free market social liberals"

So says ConservativeHome.

Well, it's a pity that we have to make do with three of them out of three, then, isn't it?

Imagine this system. Such a party would win seats, though only in the South East, whereas very different entities (us; High Tory paleocon; Old Liberal; Old Labour Left) would win them everywhere.

In other words, it would be much as the Tories are now, and are going to remain under Cameron, piling up huge majorities in the South East the way Labour used to in mining areas. But where are the miners now?

The Catholic Church and Celtic Football Club

With the warmongering Blair cheerleader John Reid installed as Celtic's Chairman as of last night (well, what else do Blairites have to do these days?), let all ties be cut. Indeed, there is a serious case for the Church to try and set up a new club for Her children to cheer for. Celtic is more than a football club. Or, at least, it was until last night.

The End Of Identity Cards

After this afternoon's fiasco, I trust.

High Time

The Association of Chief Police Officers does a lot of harm, as those who work under its members are the first to point out from bitter experience. But its support for reclassifying cannabis as a Class B drug is obviously welcome, although Class A is in fact the appropriate status for this extremely dangerous substance, accompanied by a general crackdown on the possession of drugs, including a mandatory sentence of three months for a second offence, six months for a third offence, one year for a fourth offence, and so forth.

What a contrast with this. And what a contrast with the record of David Cameron, who signed the Select Committee report that led to the downgrading of cannabis in the first place, unlike his Tory colleague on that Committee, Angela Watkinson. The restoration of cannabis to Class B, backed even by ACPO, will be a humiliation for Tony Blair, but that does not matter, because Blair's party has already made him go. It will also be a humiliation for David Cameron. So, will Cameron's party make him go, too? If not, why not?

A Little Learning

On one level, I am tempted to say that the state education sector is none of the Tories’ business, and that that is all there is to it. In health, we see the very underrated Alan Johnson moving away from Tony Blair’s Howard Hughes-like fear of the “dirty” public sector. That moving away cannot possibly happen too quickly across all policy areas.

But in education, the parties are now engaged in a bidding war to see who can move closest to promising the all-out abolition of state schools as such, with schools instead functioning as universities used to: the State will merely pay the fees of most pupils at what will in fact be private institutions. Means testing will follow rapidly after that, and then up-front payment of fees, or the replacement of State payment with loans, or some combination of the two. Except for viewers in Scotland. Of course.

As for Academies as such, since we are going to have them, is there any pro-life, pro-family, pro-worker and anti-war reader who might be able to find a one-off sum of two, four or six million pounds in return for one, two or three Academies to be run in accordance with economically social-democratic, morally and socially conservative British and Commonwealth patriotism, in partnership with splendidly “statist, syndicalist, nationalist, theoconservative and provincial” politicians? If so, then do get in touch as a matter of the utmost urgency:

Fish and Fowl

Year on year during the Thatcher and Major eras, Labour MPs marched into the division lobby against the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies, very lately joined by a tiny percentage of the Tories. Then the 1997 Election happened, and the roles were suddenly reversed, except that no Labour MPs joined the Tories in opposing these evils (I can think of no other suitable word for them).

The supremacy of British over EU law must be restored, Britain’s historic fishing rights thus reasserted (in accordance with international law), and farm subsidies (a very good idea in themselves, predating accession to the EU by thirty years, and every argument for which is applicable to coal, steel, shipbuilding and their latter-day equivalents) brought back in house at national level. You know what you have to do.


Yes, I know that this title is obvious. But so what? Not least because I am from the North East, I am very happy for all the Northern Rock depositors who are going to be helped out by the Government. But what about the victims of Farepak, who do not require anything like as much money? What is the difference? Is it really just class?

The First Casualty

Peter Wilby’s superb article in today’s Guardian:

It is a matter of record that the British press, and the American press even more so, failed badly to expose the flimsiness of the case for going to war in Iraq. Will it fail again as the threat of an attack on Iran grows? The verdict from a conference on "War, truth and the media", attended by some 250 media workers and students in London in Saturday, was an overwhelming "yes". We have already started to accept, without significant questioning, that Iran will shortly develop nuclear arms, that it will then threaten Israel and the rest of the Middle East, and that it is responsible for much of the conflict in neighbouring Iraq. The assumption that Iran is a wicked aggressor is buried in the language we use. As Tony Benn pointed out, British and American nuclear weapons are "deterrents", Iran's will be "weapons of mass destruction".

The media's failings are systemic. Whether it's Iraq, Iran or our domestic "fight" against terrorism, the official, government-approved narrative dominates. To be sure, facts that don't fit the narrative are frequently reported: for example, the Guardian revealed last year that tens of thousands of small arms now in the hands of private Iraqi militias were secretly shipped from Bosnia by the Pentagon. But suggestions that the anarchy in Iraq suits America perfectly - because private capital can step in to buy up the country's assets and the US can retain control of the oil - are discounted. Alternative narratives of this sort have been developed by, for example, Naomi Klein in her book The Shock Doctrine and the New York Times and New Yorker journalist Jim Holt. But they are treated as marginal, eccentric curiosities, which never inform the media's day-to-day approach to Iraq and Iran.

We live in what has been called "the public relations state". Governments try to control the news agenda to a far greater extent than even 20 years ago and, as media organisations slash their editorial budgets, official PR steps into the vacuum. Titbits of information about the "threats" from Iran are fed to the media, often through selected journalists and often from intelligence sources. Reporters and editors, delighted with their "scoops", are not likely to subject them to too much critical scrutiny. In any case, they lack the resources to verify them. Their rivals, finding the stories confirmed by official sources, follow them up and give them further credence. Stories that don't fit the official narrative are denied and derided and therefore quickly die.

There is no conspiracy, no direct censorship. It is just the way the system works, with information from official sources crowding out everything else. In 2008, the truth about Iran will be as elusive as was the truth about Iraq in 2002 and 2003.

One Thing At A Time, Please

On Sunday afternoon, within hours of the last Bonfire Night events in some parts of the country, Santa arrived (accompanied by several of the cast of Coronation Street) at the Prince Bishop Shopping Centre in Durham. Having been, in my time, the Prince Bishop Shopping Centre Santa, I really do have to wonder just how early Christmas is going to begin next year, or the year after that.

The post-Blair cultural confidence is of course welcome: Britain has at last felt free to keep Halloween, Guy Fawkes and Remembrance Sunday again without an unspoken but very obvious fear that they might be suppressed at any moment; it is as if a foreign occupation has finally come to an end, and no doubt Christmas will be the icing on the cake. But we should at least get one thing out of the way before we move on to the next.


In answer to several enquiries about why I link to certain sites, my general rule is to link to anyone who links here. If I have missed anyone who does so, then I am very sorry, and do please get in touch.

Monday 19 November 2007

Calamity Clegg?

Could Huhne win? I'm beginning to think so. He was the neocon Establishment candidate last time, but now they've found someone even more like that, so he's actually the lesser evil. Still, roll on the day when, in the course of each Parliament, each party gives the electorate the final say in choosing between the two potential Leaders nominated by the most branches nationwide.

If we had that now, Blair would have been out years ago, Brown certainly would not have been merely crowned, Davis would have beaten Cameron, and we'd currently be choosing between David Laws and Simon Hughes. As with the rest of these reforms, real politics: bring it on.

Kosovo: What Now?

The Exile (a bit sweary, but worth it not least for the stuff about Oliver Kamm's failure to be invited to student parties or let into the University of Oxford's Freemasons' Lodge) writes:

Serbs in the NATO occupied Serbian province of Kosovo have refused to legitimise their own annihilation by voting in the recent elections.

Preliminary counts indicate that one of Kosovo's major criminal figures, Hashim Snake Thaci, has won most of the Albanian vote, not that turnout was very high amongst them, either. Only about 40% - 45% bothered to show up at the polls.

What happens next is out of Serbia's hands. If Moscow will give a security guarantee to Belgrade then the Serbian army can march in and retake the province that was stolen from them as a result of western aggression in 1999.

The Russians should give that guarantee. Kosovo is where globalised capitalism first began its forward march. Therefore it is right and proper that Kosovo is where that march should turn into a humiliating and irreversible retreat.


There Are Still A Few Proper Tories About

And Geoffrey Wheatcroft is one of them, as can be seen from this article in today's Guardian:

The past week has not been a happy one for those who held what Robert Harris, writing in the Guardian 18 months ago, called the "peculiar - one might almost say touching - view prevalent on these pages that Brown, once he becomes prime minister, is suddenly going to provide an entirely different kind of Labour government". First came the bullying of Admiral Lord West into an about-turn and "Aye, aye, sir!", then the humiliation of David Miliband when Downing Street tipped off the Sun that the foreign secretary's Bruges speech on Europe had been blue-pencilled by the prime minister's office. A different kind of government? The end to spin that Gordon Brown himself promised last summer? Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell at their worst couldn't have displayed greater brutality or trickiness.

But for Kremlinologists trying to analyse what's happening inside the Brown politburo, there was a still more fascinating moment after the prime minister's own speech on foreign affairs at the Lord Mayor of London's banquet, when it was discussed on Newsnight by Denis MacShane and Dr Irwin Stelzer. MacShane need not detain us: the Labour MP has a permanent hangdog look and no doubt a good deal to be hangdoggy about, though he still evinces a loyalty to the government that is rather touching when you think of the way Tony Blair hired him and fired him.

He is surely nothing like so interesting or influential as Stelzer. On the face of it no more than an expatriate American economist, this clever, genial old chap is a seriously powerful figure in our political life: professional eminence grise and oracle of the neoconservative movement - he edited an anthology called Neoconservatism, which very properly included a contribution by Blair and a jacket puff by Stelzer's good friend Brown. He is also, in Andrew Neil's chillingly jocose phrase, Rupert Murdoch's representative on earth.

It was he who brought instructions to Downing Street in 2004 that Blair must promise a referendum on the European constitution or lose the support of the Murdoch press, and the promise was duly given - which left Blair and now Brown wriggling.

Stelzer denied having uttered any such threats, it should be said. But then he has also said that "Mr Murdoch doesn't tell the Times or Sunday Times what position to take because he has an undertaking not to do that when he acquired the papers", and anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of Murdoch who could say that with a straight face deserves the Nobel prize for chutzpah on top of his other academic distinctions.

What's so refreshing about Stelzer is his candour. Whenever he talks about the Anglo-American relationship there's never any namby-pamby pretence that the United Kingdom is in any useful sense of the words a sovereign country. You're a client state and don't you forget it, says the doctor. Nothing displayed this more clearly than his ferocious reaction - shown by the Washington neocons in general but in particular by Stelzer, who returned to the theme last Tuesday - to one particular appointment of Brown's.

"First prize for appalling goes to Mark Malloch Brown," Stelzer wrote at the time. While Washington understood that Brown had to make the occasional gesture of sham independence, "inviting Malloch Brown into this 'government of all the talents' is to include one talent too many". It was the voice of the KGB rezident in Sofia 40 years ago, reminding the Bulgarian government in comradely but firm tones that the promotion of suspected "rotten elements" could not be regarded by Moscow as a purely internal matter. Seltzer could have been echoing Brezhnev's minatory words to Dubcek in Prague: "Your frontiers are our frontiers."

The deviationism or thought crimes of which Malloch Brown stood accused were his support for the UN, where he used to work, his criticism of the Bush junta, and his opposition to the Iraq war. The fact that all these views are broadly shared by the British electorate is neither here nor there. It's no part of the job of any British minister to insult the imperial power.

Now the voice of the rezident has been amplified by others. There was a ferocious hatchet job on Malloch Brown in the penultimate Spectator, nowadays the epicentre of Anglo-neoconservatism. (It was co-written by Claudia Rosett, "journalist-in-residence" at the "US-based Foundation for Defence of Democracies", whose website explains that it was originally sponsored by a group of rich philanthropists who wanted to "offer Israel the kind of PR that the Israeli government seemed unable to provide itself".) And those denunciations have done the trick. Last summer Malloch Brown mused out loud that London and Washington might not in future be joined at the hip, but he has now been induced to make a recantation worthy of a Soviet show trial.

In his speech on Tuesday the prime minister himself said ingratiatingly: "I am a lifelong admirer of America. I have no truck with anti-Americanism in Britain or elsewhere in Europe and I believe that our ties with America founded on values we share constitute our most important bilateral relationship."

Those are interesting and thought-provoking words. Is it "anti-American" to regret that we were dragged into the Iraq adventure purely to demonstrate Blair's - and Brown's - fealty to our most important bilateral partner, or even to wonder occasionally whether the last few years may not have raised questions about the fitness of the US for its role as hegemonic superpower? Does the prime minister have in mind the "shared values" of Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib? Of "extraordinary rendition" and "enhanced interrogation"?

When Brown visited the US last summer his manner was less than effusive, which predictably enough disappointed Seltzer. Remarking that people in the White House had complained to him that the new prime minister was curt and surly - hadn't they ever heard anything about him? - Seltzer contrasted this with the gloriously opportunistic display just given in Washington by Nicolas Sarkozy. And he played yet another riff on the terrible danger from Europe that the British blindly fail to recognise. To which the answer is that the European Union has many failings, and plenty of room for criticism, but that it was not the commission in Brussels or parliament in Strasbourg that led us into a needless, criminal and catastrophic war.

One other thing has worried Seltzer about Brown in the past: his "domestic priorities and priorities about eliminating poverty - he has some sort of bell that goes off in his head when he sees poverty anywhere". But then Brown spent one weekend recently with Murdoch, and Stelzer is a regular visitor to Downing Street. With a bit of luck and guidance, that annoying bell can surely be silenced.

Sunday 18 November 2007

What If They'd Done As They Said They Would?

If the money can be found for nationalisation, then we should start with that of the railways (“private” companies only kept profitable by public subsidies, which should therefore be renationalised not only immediately, but without compensation) and the rip-off utilities.

The prospect of Northern Rock’s nationalisation calls to mind the never-implemented Labour manifesto commitment in 1945 to nationalise the land and the clearing banks. Well, if the former had been as a first stage towards Distributism, and the latter as a first stage towards turning them all into mutual building societies, then why not? But they wouldn’t have been, although that is not a reason why they never could be.

Still, what might Britain have been like if the land and the banks had been nationalised by Attlee, as he had successfully promised the electorate that he would do? Or if Margaret Thatcher had banned party political contributions by trade unions, as successfully promised in 1987? (And why didn’t she do it?) Or if Tony Blair had held a referendum of Proportional Representation, as successfully promised in 1997? And can anyone think of any other examples?

The Child's Right To A Father

Geraldine Smith, a proper Labour MP, though sadly one of the last.

No More Clone Wars?

The decision of Professor Stephen Wilmut to give up cloning and stem-cell “research” is obviously welcome. The world’s most famous ever sufferer from Parkinson’s Disease was the world's leading opponent of this “research”, held up as the solution to Park'n'Alz, but in fact advocated, like cloning, and like the ghastly creation of hybrid and chimera embryos, by people who genuinely could not care less if everyone else in the world succumbed to either or both of those diseases.

What matters to them is the dehumanisation of the embryonic human being, the depersonalisation of human beings generally, the desanctification of human life. The mere popular knowledge that these procedures are taking place at all is an important part of that entirely non-scientific project, the true character of which is philosophical, economic, social, cultural and political.

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

Or vice versa, of course. Some of the people who want this want to treat people like animals, some want to treat animals like people, and some want to do both. But all want to blur the distinction. And which people will suffer? It won’t be them. Well, of course not. As Chesterton said, wherever there is animal worship, there is human sacrifice. Professor Wilmut is most heartily to be congratulated for breaking these ranks.

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


If Russia vetoes UN recognition of any ludicrous claim by Kosovo to be an independent state, and promises to aid any Serbian military campaign against it, then will “the West” push the matter? I doubt it. They are hardly going to risk World War Three for a collection of black-shirted Wahhabi and heroin-trafficking pimps. Are they?

After all, if they did, then the precedent would be set: once the neocons’ own economic policies had produced Muslim majorities in, say, the former Metropolitan County of West Yorkshire, or great swathes of France, then will those areas also be entitled to independence? If not, why not?

Country Life

At last, some coverage of rural poverty. The loss of any parliamentary voice for the once-mighty, and still living, tradition of rural radicalism is one of the many, many reasons why these reforms are so urgently necessary.

Isn’t it absolutely amazing that the party of negative equity, of a “free” market ideology the full implementation of which would simply abolish agriculture in this country, of the mass destruction of public transport, of the mercifully unsuccessful attempts to privatise the Post Office and the Forestry Commission, and of the mercifully unsuccessful attempt to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board, should have been able to present itself as the party of the countryside, and even to claim some ancestral right to represent the countryside in Parliament, a claim which is contrary to the plain facts of history?

And isn’t it absolutely amazing that you don’t already need planning permission for change of use if you wish to change a first home into a second home (which, being rather iniquitously taxed differently, is perfectly simple to identify)?

Two among many, many, many reasons for a new party.

Education, Education, Education

What is David Cameron on about? Schools teach phonics anyway. It is government policy.

Or so we are assured by those who are themselves either public school plain and simple, or else, not least in comments here, products of those private schools which have the effrontery to send their bills to the taxpayer, and thus to pretend to be part of the state sector. Such products even affect what they think are working-class accents, although, never having had a conversation with a working-class person, they always sound false, for so they are. “Not least in comments here”...

Phonics is, of course, taught in the schools to which they send their own children, at vast expense either in fees or in house prices. That is why they do not want it taught to anyone else’s children, government policy or no government policy. Expect Cameron to announce that he has found this method in use in the school that he has chosen for his own offspring, set as it is among million pound houses, and so his work here is done.

The Neocon Threat To The Monarchy

One to watch.

Silent Witness

The Church of England’s ordination of more women than men to its presbyterate last year, and doubtless in every subsequent year, bodes most ill for witness within our national life to the classical Christianity that is, as much as anything else, the basis of all three political traditions. Independent research has found very large proportions of the women among the Church of England’s clergy to be doubters of or disbelievers in absolutely key points of doctrine, with two thirds denying “that Jesus Christ was born of a Virgin”, and, astonishingly, fully one quarter denying the existence “of God the Father Who created the world”.

The radical feminist Establishment not only wants women to become bishops, but also wants to require that the episcopal “team” in each diocese include both sexes. So, of those with privileged access to the media and other organs of national life as the voice of the Christianity professed by seventy-two per cent of Britons at the last census, at least one eighth will be agnostics or atheists.

Furthermore, the presence of bishops in the House of Lords is specifically cited as a reason why women must become bishops, as they doubtless will. It is difficult to imagine a better case for abolishing that House, precisely in order to preserve and restore witness within our national life to the classical, historic, mainstream Christianity both underpinning that life and professed by the overwhelming majority of the population.

The Fraudian Beowulf

I suppose that I should be annoyed about the secularisation of Beowulf. And I am. But I am really riled by the introduction, as in The Lord of the Rings, of a “love interest”. Why? In this case, Beowulf has sex with Grendel’s mother (Angelina Jolie, of course), but doesn’t actually kill her, merely pretending to have done so! Are we still that in hock to Sigmund Fraud? No, no, no: sex is not the answer to everything.

The New Cuban Revolution

Neil Clark writes in the Spectator about the cigar-smokers’ revolt against the smoking ban. I was naturally sympathetic towards the ban, partly because I had already seen it in action in Scotland, where I never noticed any of the No Smoking signs in bus shelters and all over the place, such as now deface England. But as someone whose smoking was confined to a very good cigar towards the end of the sort of function that calls for such (basically, if wearing a dinner jacket, then have a Cuban in the inside breast pocket), I must say that I do miss it. And I miss the smell of pipe tobacco as well, in certain locations.

Friday 16 November 2007

Down With "The Self-Appointed Uber-Bloggers"

Splendid stuff from Neil Clark.

Who did die and make Iain Dale and Paul Staines the Kings of the British Blogosphere? How, exactly, did this happen?

Much More Likely

I think that Chris Huhne had a point on Question Time last night: hatred of the Lib Dems among Labour and the Tories in their respective heartland areas (which would account for the great majority of their respective MPs in a hung Parliament) is so visceral that they are more likely to do a deal with each other.

Such arrangements are of course routine in local government; and there is currently just such a coalition at national level in Germany.

Let's face it, who would be able to tell the difference politically between the present situtaion and either a New Labour-New Tory coalition, or indeed a New Tory majority government?

So, although Huhne might not have meant it like this, even in the event of a hung Parliament, the Lib Dems still wouldn't matter.

And has anyone else noticed the serious possibility that they might become an England-only party next time? The SNP could have their every Scottish Westminster seat (and their every Holyrood seat except Shetland) if it made any effort at all, and Plaid Cymru could take their seats in Mid-Wales. Only Cameron keeps them in business in the West Country, where well-known local right-wing Independents are in the offing, including in every seat in Cornwall, all currently Lib Dem held, and in that case pretty much certain to remain so.

Thursday 15 November 2007

The Birkbeck Torquemada?

Does no one expect the Spanish Inquisition? I certainly do, and I am never disappointed.

The same people who regard The Life of Brian as the last word on Jesus declare their general intellectual dependence on Monty Python's Flying Circus by bringing up the Spanish Inquisition in relation to the Catholic Church, and especially in relation to the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "formerly known as the Inquistion".

The CDF was in fact the Roman, not the Spanish, Inquisition; but neither ever claimed or exercised any jurisdiction over non-Catholics. The Roman Inquisition granted the accused rights far in excess of those prevalent at the time, such as the right to legal representation (paid for by the Inquisition if necessary), a right not formerly recognised in England until 1836. Only people whose activities were a threat to the State (a tiny percentage) were ever handed over to it for execution or anything else, a severity far less than that of the Protestant governments of the time.

And what of the infamous Spanish Inquisition? It was staffed by clerics, but it was established, and they served, strictly at the pleasure of the Spanish Crown (perhaps it is difficult for people used to the Church of England to understand this distinction?), which had it approved on false pretences by Pope Sixtus IV. He was a repeated but unsuccessful opponent of its severity, an opposition, moreover, which has to be seen in the light of the below in order to appreciate it fully. From 1558, it imprisoned the Spanish Primate, Archbishop Caranza of Toledo, for eight years, despite repeated Papal attempts to secure his release. Furthermore, the Spanish Inquisition enjoyed popular as well as royal, but not Papal, support.

As a civil body, the Spanish Inquisition has to be compared to other civil bodies of the time; and it actually compares rather well, using torture in only two per cent of cases (and then for no longer than fifteen minutes), with only one per cent experiencing torture more than once. Of 49,092 cases between 1550 and 1700, fully 1,485 (not even three per cent) ended with the death sentence, and only 776 were actually put to death by this agency, not of the Church, but of the State. On average during that century and a half, the Spanish Inquisition executed five people per year. And yet the Popes considered it unacceptably severe even in that day and age, when the English were executing anyone who damaged a shrub in a public garden, the Germans were gouging out the eyes of those who returned from banishment, and the French were disembowelling sheep-stealers.

The Spanish Inquisition dismissed anyone who broke its clearly set out Instructiones, and people before the secular courts in Barcelona would sometimes blaspheme in order to be sent to one of the much more humane prisons maintained by the Inquisition.

All of the above may be verified from the works of serious scholars such as Professor Henry Kamen (an English Jew) of the Barcelona Higher Council for Scientific Research and Professor Stephen Haliczer of the Northern University of Illinois. Who is to be believed? Scholars such as they? Or Monty Python's Flying Circus?

UPDATE 4:00 PM: I've now had to correct them on the old "Hitler's Pope" canard as well. Honestly, one accepts (however grudgingly) as a fact of life that many scientists will be wilful historical illiterates. But philosophers who are like that are just letting the side down.

And This Is Why

Neil Clark illustrates that he is indeed the Best UK Blogger by means of this splendidly conservative article in the Morning Star:

The charge sheet against the Anglo-Saxon neo-liberal model is a long one. It leads to greater inequality and, by encouraging selfishness and materialism, creates social breakdown. Its devastating impact on the environment has also been well documented. And, as the war against Iraq proves, it’s an economic template that leads inevitably to war.

But one of the most overlooked aspects of contemporary turbo-capitalism is the way it makes our everyday lives more boring.

The Anglo-Saxon model, by favouring big business and global finance over small, locally owned enterprises, has, in a comparatively short space of time destroyed high street diversity in Britain.

Just compare the vibrant high streets of the towns and cities of mainland continental Europe with the main streets in any British and American city - and you’ll know what I mean.

I recently spent a week travelling around Belgium, a country where, despite the enormous external pressure from big business and the think tanks that they bankroll for it to be discarded, the mixed economy ‘Rhineland’ model still holds sway. In Belgium, individually and family owned shops, bars and cafes still dominate the high streets. Despite being the base for the EU and NATO, two agents of globalisation, Brussels, the capital of Belgium, is one of the least globalised cities in the whole of Europe, with the lowest per capita number of Macdonalds, and not a single Starbucks or Pret A Manger in sight. How very different to the UK! It‘s always demoralising to arrive back home after spending time abroad and be greeted with the sight of banks, chain stores and fast food outlets which have turned our towns and cities into such soulless, homogeneous places.

There are those on the left who will question whether the issue of high street diversity is one they should get involved with. Does it really matter if global chains - and not locally owned businesses - dominate our high streets? The answer, most emphatically, is yes. The importance of locally-owned businesses, rooted in the community and responsive to that community, cannot be underestimated. The owner of say, a small café in Brussels, of course wants to make a profit, but his ambitions are very different from that of a large multinational corporation. The café owner, can, if he/she wishes, give free drinks to his friends or allow regular customers to keep a slate. The atmosphere in an individually-owned establishment is entirely different - and much more personal than in a global chain.

Just compare the way the nature of the British pub has changed, since large profit-hungry plcs started to dominate the industry. The friendly ‘local’, which attracted - and catered for - people of all ages, and which provided priceless social capital for many communities, have, up and down the country, been replaced by ‘vertical-drinking’ bars, where only young drinkers will feel at home. It’s no coincidence that the huge increase in binge-drinking in Britain has coincided with changes in the ownership of pubs- the big corporate chains who now dominate the market care about only one thing- profit maximisation- and that means out with the elderly drinker slowly sipping his pint of mild in the corner, and in with young drinker, who, market research tells the companies, will spend a lot more money.

In global chains, the spontaneity and personal touch which you can find in individually owned cafes and bars, has been eradicated. And consequently, all our lives are the poorer. Unlike our café owner in Brussels, Starbucks doesn’t just want to make a profit, it wants global domination. It pursues an aggressive expansion strategy, similar to that adopted by other global chains like Macdonalds and Burger King. Starbucks is currently opening seven new stores a day and now has over 13,000 global outlets. But this is still way short of the company’s stated aim of having 40,000 stores. The way aggressive global chains eliminate the local competition can be seen most clearly in London, which now has more Starbucks outlets than Manhattan.

A world in which the main streets of every city were as globalised as London’s would be a sad and colourless place in which to live. So it’s great to report that the fight-back against global chains is gaining momentum.

In Paris, the city’s Socialist deputy mayor Lyne Cohen-Solal has recently launched a £21m plan to save the historic Left Bank’s independent booksellers, arthouse cinemas, art galleries and writers’ cafes by buying up properties to stop them being converted into yet more bland chain stores. "All the cities all over Europe are starting to look the same. London, Berlin, they're going to have the same streets with the same shops," Mme Cohen-Solal said. Last year, over 250 independent cafes and restaurants closed in Paris; the city now has around 30 Starbucks stores, so it is clear that action is urgently required to preserve the character of one of the most unique cities in the world.

In Britain, opposition to high street uniformity is growing too - a leading newspaper recently launched a campaign to save London’s small shops.

Of course, all these initiatives should ideally have been taken years ago, before global chains had made such inroads. But it does seem that more and more people are waking up to the simple truth about modern turbo capitalism- that far from increasing competition- it actually destroys it. Big chains don’t want diversity, but uniformity- a world in which everyone eats the same food, listens to the same music, and wears the same branded clothes.

The world is still a wonderfully diverse place, so let’s keep it that way. Because if the global chains get their way, there will be no point in ever setting foot outside our front doors again.