Tuesday 30 September 2008

The Republic Strikes Back, But When Will This Kingdom?

Martin Meenagh writes:

I awoke this morning with a song in my head of which I must have been dreaming. It was one of those by Irish singers which my mother had played in the car when I was young, and she was driving around Northamptonshire thinking of Donegal. In retrospect, many of those songs were radical American protest songs, and quite a few were by Woodie Guthrie--but when replayed and resung in Irish accents, they took on a republican tinge I have always admired.

The song of which I was thinking was one I couldn't quite place--Guthrie's 'Banks are Made of Marble', which I can't find on youtube. The chorus runs

Let's break out the banks of marble
With the Guard on every door
And share out the gold and silver
That the workers sweated for.

After that, I went down the Cromwell Road and gave a sort of lecture-cum-seminar on European politics. A bright American asked me at the end what I thought of the reformed Paulson plan, and I, trying to be responsible, said that I didn't like it, I thought that it was wrong, but that I thought that it would pass, but that it should not. I thought this because the media, the establishment, the banks, and the Washington elites were all behind it.

Wrong again, Meenagh. The American republic is not dead. The stupid media and the corrupt hacks might think they own the place, but it belongs still to its citizens and a good part of their representatives are scared of them. When all else is rejected, they are still capable of choosing the right thing.

In fact, the representatives either freshly elected or about to go into elections won't touch this kryptonite, however hysterical the reportage class. That's how much the voters hate it. Seven hundred billion dollars will not be given to insane bankers with no questions asked, not yet.

The great republic, for the first time in decades, perhaps for the first time since the death of Robert Kennedy on this scale, is fighting back. So I went looking for songs, and found this beautiful version of the tune of the Battle Hymn of the Republic, sung in French by the incomparable Mireille Matthieu. The French touch is for any Republicans reading, even if I do know and like you. You'll thank your right wing for voting this monster down eventually.

And Martin Kelly writes:

The rejection of the Paulson Plan Mark II by the House of Representatives shows that, contrary to many expectations, the American people are not prepared to be bullied into a fascistic financial regime.

That the markets have tanked today was not unexpected - yet although the prospect of great financial adversity seems horribly real, one can only applaud those Congressmen, of both parties, who elected to prefer liberty and the nation over bipartisanship and managerialism. In the case of the Republicans, it should be noted that many hoped these principles would be discovered before they spent the years 2001 to 2006 spending like drunken sailors. However, it's better late than never - the Paulson Plan would have been a step down a path from which, if trod once, there would have been no turning back.

Let's see what creative destruction's really like.

But Kelly also writes:

On the day it was nationalised, Bradford & Bingley was still advertising for new business - on Paramount Comedy.

The immediate re-sale of its savings and business network to a Spanish bank, which already owns two other British high street players, is globalisation at the point of the sword. It's a car boot sale of what is probably the most valuable part of the business.

In all likelihood, the Spanish would deem it both culturally and politically unacceptable for a British bank to own three of their major high street brands. If it is considered politically necessary for the Bradford & Bingley to be nationalised to save it from its previous management's folly, then so be it - but there will be considerable resentment against what will quite rightly be perceived as yet a further extension of the powers wielded by companies based in one particular foreign country over the British economy; powers that that country would never allow to be reciprocated.

We are being cannibalised, gobbled up by the world one piece at a time.

You know what you have to do.

Obama And The Scots-Irish

The Exile writes:

We looked recently at how the Democrats have managed to alienate the Catholic vote in the USA, now let's turn our attention to another group, the Scots-Irish. They normally vote Republican, but might be expected to switch given the state of the economy. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be happening.

If you only read one article about the USA and its culture then the one I urge you to take in is The Appalachian Problem by Peter J. Boyer, from the latest edition of the New Yorker. Boyer looks at the Scots-Irish, who make up the bulk of the white population in Appalachia and concludes that Obama just isn't reaching them. According to Dave Mudflat Saunders, a man who combines Democrat beliefs and Scots-Irish values:

Obama’s “Change” message... is too abstract, too vague, for the region. “Those people . . . were screwed by the English in Scotland and Ireland way before they came over here and started getting screwed,” he said. “They’ve been screwed since the dawn of time. And you know what? You ain’t gonna do anything with them, talkin’ about change. You know why? We’re all changed out. That’s all you ever hear, every election. Somebody’s gonna change some shit. Nothin’ ever changes. We get f**ked.”

What these people need to hear from Obama are concrete proposals that they can believe in, which will ensure that jobs return to their areas. What they are getting is either waffle, or policies that they know will tell against them. Thus when Joe Biden said, "No coal plants here in America," as he did recently in Ohio, that strikes directly at the heart of Appalachia with its coal mining tradition. As far as Obama is concerned he may very well have described the USA as the "Saudi Arabia of coal," but he is also on record as dismissing the whole industry as "dirty energy". What that means is that he flip-flops on policy matters: a waffler who flip-flops - the man is a Republican wet dream.

The problem is that Obama doesn't have those policies, and thus he has nothing to offer the God fearing, gun carrying, anti-abortion voters who are of Scots-Irish descent.

Whether in Northern Ireland and in relation to the English (or the Anglo-Irish) themselves, or in the United States and in relation to the anglophile WASP elite, there is an old Scots-Irish ambivalence (no doubt underlying Ian Paisley's recent cosying up to the SNP) that saw them with the English (and thus with the Anglo-Irish) during the Plantation, against them during the Civil War, with them during the Glorious Revolution (as I do not hesitate to call it, given the Papal Blessing sent to William of Orange when he set out for Ireland), against them during the American Revolution, and half in and half out of the 1798 Rebellion (the Jacobin, and thus anti-Catholic, foundation of Irish Republicanism).

The Scots-Irish in Northern Ireland are for ever "betrayed from London", and the Scots-Irish the American South and West are for ever the victims of "Northern aggression" or "East Coast elitism". But no one fights harder for either Union, British or American.

Obama should have chosen Jim Webb as his running mate, for this and various other raesons. But even now, Obama can and must appeal directly to this remarkable people's economic populism, and at least as much to the fact that they, with the blacks and the Irish Catholics (Joe Biden's lot), make the United States military possible, so that theirs - his wife's, his hearers', and Biden's - are overwhelmingly the families and communities devastated by pointless, unwinnable wars.

Shana Tova

Not that my Jewish readers (I have quite a few) will read this until after the event, of course.

But have you noticed how the Congress of the supposedly secular United States has this festival off? Yet there are a million more Arabs (by no means all of them Muslims, of course) than Jews in America. There are far, far more Catholics, who might wish to keep, say, the Assumption, or Corpus Christi. As a proportion of the population, there are not really all that many more Jews in America than in Britain.

So why? I am not trying to make a point here. I am just wondering why.

Olmert Has Faced Reality, So Why Won't You?

Of course, there is going to be a Palestinian State in the territory captured in 1967, with its capital at East Jerusalem.

Of course, there is not going to be a Palestinian State anywhere else.

Like or lump it, but you can't change it.

Even Ehud Olmert now accepts this. So what the hell is the excuse of anyone who, after all, doesn't have to live there?

Every Little Helps

Tesco feeds the masses, including me from time to time. So why not have record-breaking profits? What matters is what is done with them.

Among other things, it is time to make the supermarkets invest in agriculture and small business (investment to be determined in close consultation with the National Farmers’ Union and the Federation of Small Businesses) by means of a windfall tax, to be followed if necessary by a permanently higher flat rate of corporation tax, with, in either case, strict regulation to ensure that the costs of this are not passed on to suppliers, workers, consumers, communities or the environment.

You know what you have to do.

A Great Gurkha Victory

Here's to many more for serving and former Gurkha and Commonwealth personnel and their families.

You know what you have to do.

And Now On ITV, Not The Regional News

ITV no longer has any entitlement to the 3 button on every remote control in the country.

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

You know what you have to do.

Stop Whingeing, Start Acting

We still have vacancies for European candidates, and won't be publishing the full list until it is complete. So get in touch, anyone who can sign up to this.

Meanwhile, set up forum sites or what have you if you like. I'll even link to them from here.

But this is the job in hand, and I make no apology for attending to it.

Furthermore, do not assume that nothing is going on just because it has not reported on whatever it is that is read by Westminster Village pretty people and other Sixth Formers.

Monday 29 September 2008

George Osborne


South Shields

With Milly banned (he'll never be Leader now, so what is the point of him?), whom should Brown arrange to have imposed on South Shields, as Blair arranged to impose Milly? I'll start us off with Derek Simpson.

We'll Be Next

I've seen the future, and it's Austrian. That is where our current sort of one party politics by another name leads.

Expect the BNP to win a European seat in every English region except the North East, and even that is only because we have a mere three seats to fill. That's eight in all. In more than one region, they are looking at more than one seat.

But they can be stopped.

You know what you have to do.

Prescription Charges

To be abolished in Northern Ireland.

Already gone in Wales.

And on the way out in Scotland.

No one over 60 pays them anyway, nor does anyone who is not working, such as those who are too ill to work. Cancer patients are about to be made exempt, too.

Yet Brown will not declare for total abolition.

You know what you have to do.

That Tory Rail Link

No further north than Manchester or Leeds (rather like the Tories, in fact).

And not until 2027 anyway (again...).

You know what you have to do.

School of Hard Knocks

A lot that was good about post-War education was down to the military backgrounds of the practitioners: self-respect (not least in one's appearance), proper time-keeping, regular inspection and assessment, institutional loyalty, even the sense that failure is part of life and is not the end of the world.

But would sending lots of people straight out of the Forces into schools really make any difference today? Our all-volunteer Armed Forces simply presuppose obedience. Would people from that environment really be able to cope in the totally different atmosphere of so many schools?

One Party To The Tune Of Another

As UKIP implodes, Tories Douglas Carswell MP and Daniel Hannan MEP have published its programme, practically word for word, as the blueprint for a Tory Government. Priceless. And do they expect their readers not to know who dismantled local government in the first place, or which party gave this country all three of the Treaty of Rome, the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty?

Are Carswell, Hannan et al entryists, as Trotskyists in the Labour Party used to be? I suspect not. Rather, they strike me as more like the tiny faction of pro-Soviet MPs that Labour had to expel in the Forties, or that which later accrued to Straight Left: in close touch with the Communist Party, actually more pro-Soviet than plenty of people in it, but with no formal connection to it.

Make A Mark

Mark Clarke and I have not always agreed, but he is even my friend of that Facebook of which the young people speak, and I find this outpouring of scorned-womanliness deeply distasteful. Who is really behind it, and why?

I have some suggestions:

- Those who resent Mark's selection by an open primary instead of by some cabal or other;

- Those who resent that Mark is local to the constituency;

- Those who resent that Mark is "only Durham";

- Those who see Mark as the young sort of black, since he is visibly mixed-race, and since the West Indian side of his background includes Dame Eugenia Charles, late Prime Minister of Dominica, rather than whatever collection of yardies or gangsta rappers the people now running all three parties think that blacks are fashionable for being; and

- Those who object, for reasons of their own, to Mark's strong stand against prostitution.

Any one of these is more than credible.

Mark should hit back hard, both on open primaries and on prostitution. Regular readers will know my views on each.

In the course of each Parliament, each party should submit a shortlist of the two candidates nominated by the most branches (including those of affiliated organisations where applicable) to a binding ballot of the whole electorate at constituency level for the Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, and at national level for the Leader.

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

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

Likewise, in the course of each Parliament, each party should submit to a binding ballot of the whole electorate the ten policies proposed by the most branches (including those of affiliated organisations where applicable), with voters entitled to vote for up to two, and with the highest-scoring seven guaranteed inclusion in the next General Election Manifesto. All of those ballots should be held on the same day, and each of them should be held at public expense at the request of five per cent or more of registered voters in the country.

The official campaign for each policy should have a tax-free campaign allowance, conditional upon matching funding by resolution of a membership organisation. The name of that organisation should appear on the ballot paper after that of the policy. And there should be a ban on all other campaign funding, and on all campaign spending above twice that allowance.

Meanwhile, by all means let it be made a criminal offence for any person above the age of consent (which should be raised to 18) to buy, or attempt to buy, sex. And let it also be made be made a criminal offence, with an equal sentence, for any person above that age to sell, or attempt to sell, sex. Since the former are usually men and the latter usually women, are women morally and intellectually equal to men, or not? And how much longer must we endure the "free" market, which cannot be at all without being in prostitution, pornography, drugs, the lot?

One Of The Workers

Yesterday's Black Dog column in the Mail on Sunday was tickled by the visit of Quentin Davies to an art gallery in Manchester during the Labour Party Conference, and by his expression of admiration for the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition there. "Spoken like of one the workers", it guffawed.

Well, yes, actually.

The old working class had a very vigorous intellectual, cultural, and therefore political life. The pitmen painters, the pitmen poets, the brass and silver bands, the Miners' Lodge Libraries, the Workers' Educational Association, and so much else besides, made up a civilised and civilising world destroyed by the most philistine Prime Minister until Tony Blair.

Protecting Liberty And The Poor By Fighting Crime

Today's gem from the splendid Right Democrat:

A no-nonsense Democratic prosecutor, John Morganelli, is running for Pennsylvania Attorney General. USA Political Action Committee prescribes Morganelli's record as follows:

"District Attorney John M. Morganelli is a 4 term, elected District Attorney in Northampton County, Pennsylvania. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association. He is known for his 'tough on crime' positions. He has been an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration."

"He has appeared on CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight", and Fox News Networks "The O'Reilly Factor" and has testified in Washington on the issue of illegal immigration."

Here is Morganelli's crime and security platform for Pennsylvania:

1. Abolish Parole for Violent Felonies

We have seen that incarcerating violent criminals for longer periods of time works. Violent crime in America is down in direct correlation with increasing prison population. Violent offenders who bring physical harm to others should get long, stiff prison sentences their first time around. One miserable failure is our parole system. The facts are that criminals out on parole represent a significant portion of repeat offenders. The time has come for parole to be abolished in Pennsylvania for any person convicted of a violent felony such as murder, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping and armed robbery. These people should be given long flat sentences which should be served in their entirety.

2. Protect Pennsylvania From Illegal Criminal Aliens

Today there are approximately 20 milion illegal aliens in the US many of whom are engaging in additional criminal activity aside from their illegal entry into the US. The 2000 census estimated that there are between 100,000-200,000 illegal aliens in Pennsylvania up from about 27,000 in 1992. That number is now even higher. There are presently about 800,000 criminal illegal aliens at large in the US who have been ordered deported. Many have criminal records in their country of origin. Illegal aliens come into contact with law enforcement on a daily basis committing violent crime, like rape and murder, drug crime and crimes such as Identity Theft, Tampering With Records, and Passing False Documents. The FBI and the Director of Homeland Security recently warned that the continued influx of thousands of unidentifiable illegal aliens each year is a national security problem .

The following needs to be done:

* Lobby for passage of the CLEAR ACT by the US Congress which will expressly empower state and local police to arrest and detain illegal aliens soley on their illegal immigration status.

* Seek to enter into Memorandums of Understanding now with the Department of Justice to expressly empower state and local law enforcement in Pennsylvania the authority to detain illegal aliens solely on immigration violations.

* Investigate and prosecute under state law employers who repeatedly employ illegal aliens in order to hold them accountable and subject to both criminal and civil sanctions.

* Advocate legislation declaring foreign ID cards used soley by illegal aliens as unacceptable and an unrecognized form of ID.

3. Pass Legislation Creating a Gang Statute that Criminalizes Gang Membership-

ISSUE: Criminal gangs play a large role in the gun violence on our street as they deal drugs, steal cars, commit robberies and use gun violence to engage in their turf wars. Pennsylvania is one of a number of states without a gang statute.

SOLUTION: Pennsylvania needs to be aggressive. We should not pass a law that is weak and ineffective just to say we have one. Pennsylvania law should make it a crime just to be a member of a criminal gang. It must make it clear that gang membership alone will result in stiff jail sentences. This will allow law enforcement to aggressively go after the young thugs who terrorize our communities, and breakup and put out of business a culture of gang worship and membership. We should not wait for the next homicide, robbery or drug deal. It is time to attack the nests of the gangs. With leadership from the attorney general, we can carefully craft a statute that will pass constitutional muster to make gang membership itself illegal. Breaking up criminal street gangs in our cities will strike a major blow to gun violence.

4. Create Gun Trafficking Unit in OAG

This unit would be dedicated to multi-county illegal gun trafficking which would work in conjunction with local police and district attorneys in targeted, high violence areas of Pennsylvania.

5. Implement By Attorney General Regulation Mandatory Reporting of Stolen/Lost Firearms

The attorney general must implement by AG regulation a regulation that requires the reporting of stolen/lost firearms. This would eliminate “cover” for those who illegally sell guns to criminals and then later claim their gun was stolen when it shows up in the commission of a crime.

All good stuff. The main victims of crime are the poor.

Here in the United Kingdom, we need raise the minimum age for jurors at least to 21, and give every defendant an absolute right to be tried by a jury or bench drawn entirely from the AB or C1C2 social group. To restore the pre-1968 committal powers of the magistracy, abolish stipendiary magistrates, repeal Thatcher’s Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and restore the pre-1985 prosecution powers of the Police.

To return to preventative policing based on foot patrols, with budgetary sanctions against recalcitrant Chief Constables who failed to implement this. To insist on Police Forces at least no larger than at present, and subject to local democratic accountability, most obviously though Police Authorities, but if appropriate by means of elected sheriffs.

To make each offence carry a minimum sentence of one third of its maximum sentence, or of 15 years’ imprisonment where that maximum sentence is life imprisonment.

And to reclassify cannabis as a Class A drug, with a crackdown on the possession of drugs, including a mandatory sentence of three months for a second offence, six months for a third offence, one year for a fourth offence, and so on.

Far from being an assualt on liberty, this is the context in which we can and must repeal the Civil Contingencies Act, repeal the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act, and restore the situation whereby a Bill which runs out of parliamentary time is lost at the end of that session.

The context in which we can and must brook no extension of detention without charge, no identity cards, no control orders, no admission of anonymous evidence other than from undercover Police Officers, and no provision for conviction on anonymous evidence alone.

The context in which we can and must repeal existing erosions of trial by jury and of the right to silence, repeal existing reversals of the burden of proof, repeal provision for majority verdicts (which, by definition, provide for conviction even where there is reasonable doubt), and repeal provision for Police confiscation of assets without a conviction.

And the context in which we can and must repeal the Official Secrets Acts.

You know what you have to do.

Sunday 28 September 2008

One Party Britain. Again.

Just how many times does James Purnell's and Andrew Adonis's obviously signed and sealed membership of any future Cameron Cabinet have to be announced before even the most die-hard Labour and Tory loyalists alike realise that something might be ever so slightly amiss? And now Hazel Blears as well.

Michael Gove is touring Fleet Street announcing the Tories' flagship policy of flogging off the whole of a state school sector which educates ninety-three per cent of children, but of which neither they, nor New Labour, nor the media these days, can so much as begin to see the point. Hence the absence of any fuss over this extraordinary assault. (The Golden Age of these things was in the days of selective state schools, the brief interlude between normative mass illiteracy and the ongoing descent back to that position.)

But Gove himself is on course for greater things than what is regarded as the Cabinet middle rank of Education Secretary. Rather, the man Cameron openly wants for that job, and who has very clearly already accepted it, is the current Schools Minister.

Give that a moment to sink in.

Put The People In; Keep The Politics In

Both Bradford & Bingley and Northern Rock must be turned back into mutual building societies, with that status, on their part and on that of every other such society, given cast-iron statutory protection. As an ultimate objective, this should be the case for all the banks, which one by one seem to be in a position to be bought up by the State for that purpose.

Meanwhile, away with Cameron's scheme to "take the politics out" of this area by mean sof soem new committee or other. Already, thanks to Brown and cheered on by Cameron, the electorate, as such, actually cannot even care about interest rates, even though the public certainly does. Brown and Cameron have both expressed the desire to do the same thing to health policy, once again reversing one of Labour greatest democratising achievements. And now this.

With no say over either monetary policy or health policy, nor any over the regulation of financial services, what will politicians be for? There will still be education, and transport, and policing, and social security, and foreign policy, and defence, and a host of other matters. But for how much longer? The precedent will be well and truly set. Parliament will go the way of local councils, except voluntarily.

Don't let it happen.

The Reagan Question Revisited

Plenty of good stuff over on Right Democrat at the moment, including this:

During the final presidential debate of the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan, running against Jimmy Carter, turned to the camera and asked “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” The debate took place against a backdrop of spiraling inflation and rising unemployment. A week later, Reagan won the election by one of the largest margins in recent history. Now, with the 2008 presidential election just weeks away and the economy once again in turmoil, a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) updates the Reagan question by comparing economic indicators in 2008 and 2000, and finds that most indicators suggest that voters are worse off now than they were eight years ago.

The report, “The Reagan Question: Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Eight Years Ago?,” uses a range of economic indicators to give voters a basis of comparison of their sense economic well-being.

“The data seem to suggest that voters are worse off today than 8 years ago,” said report author John Schmitt. “It is hard to see how voters could answer Reagan’s question any other way.”

The study finds that 23 out of 25 indicators are worse in 2008 than they were in 2000. Some of the indicators examined included the unemployment rate, annual inflation, the “Misery Index” (the sum of the the unemployment rate and the inflation rate), job growth, wage growth, the poverty rate, the number of uninsured, college tuition costs, and gasoline prices. Of these, only inflation-adjusted median family income and productivity growth were higher in 2008 than they were in 2000.

Christian America and Secular Europe?

Not really.

And certainly not if the reaction to the Wall Street Crash is anything to go by, as Robert Parham, a Baptist, points out:

President Bush told an anxious and angry American public on Wednesday that the nation faced "a serious financial crisis." In a structurally sound speech devoid of poetry and short on hope, Bush said that "these are not normal circumstances," "the market is not functioning properly," "there's been a widespread loss of confidence," "major sectors of America's financial system are at risk of shutting down," "America could slip into a financial panic" and "our economy is facing a moment of great challenge."

Bush played to public fear much as he played to fear leading the nation into the war in Iraq. He wasn't the only one playing that card, however.

The opposition party is doing the same thing, as it did before on our way to war a world away.

The media is hyper-ventilating about a deep recession, a possible depression, a global melt down.

None seem to know what to do, who to blame or how to explain proposed plans.

Given the alarm bell of crisis, one group has been missing from the public square: leaders of faith.

Washington Post journalist David Waters raised this issue a few days ago, "Why aren't the leaders of our major Christians denominations saying anything about the economy?"

He noted: "They've had plenty to say during the past week about other pressing moral issues. Catholic bishops remain focused on abortion. Southern Baptist leaders continue to condemn abortion and defend Sarah Palin, and National Baptist Convention leaders [fretted] about aging congregations and applauded Michelle Obama. Presbyterian leaders expressed concern about gun violence, Assemblies of God about hurricane victims, Lutherans about poverty, United Church of Christ leaders about peace. None of them said anything about Wall Street."

EthicsDaily.com columnist Dwight Moody rightly observed on Thursday: "There is an axis of incompetence that runs from New York to Washington, from Wall Street to the White House. All they know how to manage are elections."

Jim Wallis predictably said: "The behavior of too many on Wall Street is a violation of biblical ethics…It's time for the pulpit to speak—for the religious community to bring the Word of God to bear on the moral issues of the American economy. The Bible speaks of such things from beginning to end, so why not our pastors and preachers?"

Wallis is correct, but his commentary isn't particularly helpful. Criticizing Wall Street's moral failure or lamenting the silence of clergy doesn't really help.

So, what does help? What should faith leaders say and do in a time of economic crisis?

First, when levees break or houses burn down, people want words of hope from the pulpit. They don't want an analysis of why awful things happened. They do want a word of hope that a better day is coming and need a word of realism that you take life one day at a time. Hope and patience are Christian virtues.

Second, those who suffer from economic bad times need concrete help. Too many Americans have "more month than money." Maybe it's time for local churches to have food and clothing drives. Maybe churches need to remember that Joseph filled the warehouse for the lean years.

Third, faith leaders need to critique our culture, addressing both the consumer culture, in which one finds worth expressed in overconsumption, and the commercialism culture, in which one is tempted by powerful forces night-and-day to consume everything.

One countervailing theological theme to the consumer culture is being made in the image of God. We derive our worth from having God's stamp, not wearing the latest fashion, driving an expensive car or living in a house beyond our means. Another is found in the Exodus account of gathering manna, in which the insecure gathered more than they needed and found that the excess bred worms (Ex. 16:17-21). More is not necessarily better.

As we have "mission moments" on Sunday worship in which we share what the congregation is doing in the world, maybe we should have "truth-telling moments" in which we share what the world of commercials is doing to us. Warning about false and misleading advertisements, commercials which are too great a temptation, has the power to counterbalance commercialism.

Fourth, faith leaders need to do sermon series on money. Money has both a light and a dark side, a balanced theme that runs through the biblical witness. The worship of money is idolatry—idolatry leads us astray. The demonization of money is falsehood—falsehood keeps us from truth.

Few better books develop from a biblical perspective the truth about money than Richard Foster's Money, Sex & Power.

Fifth, faith leaders need to disarm the religious myth that wealth is a sign of God's favor. They need to challenge the social myth that those who run corporations know how to run the church and society.

Recent events have shown us that the so-called best and brightest captains of Wall Street are really the most morally devious with no appreciation for the consequences of their actions.

Sixth, faith leaders should call for discernment about a $700 billion bail-out plan. We need no rush to acceptance, no blind dash to the gates of salvation.

Unless we have returned to an Edenic state of moral purity, those who have crafted the plan have filled the plan with their vested interests. Human nature is human nature. Greed is greed. Appearances are almost always deceiving.

We need to be wise as serpents in all matters, as Jesus urged his disciples.

Cantuar and Ebor are doing sterling work, so to speak. But where are the Catholic Bishops on both sides of the Atlantic? This is a golden opportunity, of a once-in-several-generations kind, to make the case for Catholic Social Teaching and Distributism.

Saturday 27 September 2008

Tony McNulty for Chief Whip?

So says The Sun.

Peter Hitchens records McNulty's words to an Index on Censorship gathering on Monday 16th June (the strange reference to the "outlaw community" is to his Irish background - the academic Conor Gearty had used this phrase earlier):

"It is not my job to pass laws that outlaw radical politics. It is not my job to come up with laws that say 'anyone who says they don't like George Bush, Tony Blair or what's happened or not happened over the last 5-10 years is somehow a violent extremist'. It absolutely isn't.

"I know it's terribly hard to believe but I used to be radical myself. I used to think that politics was about selling newspapers...my excuse was I was very, very young but, you know, like a lot of government I'm an ex-Trot.

"And discovered myself in a very very clumsy way what politics was all about and what I wanted from politics.

"I say - by the by - at a time when it was very very dodgy in some senses to be so coming from the 'outlaw community'. I remember growing up in the 70s, I remember my father coming to me and saying 'Can I just have a look at all those books you've got and I know you're every interested amongst other things in Irish politics but PTA (The Prevention of Terrorism Act) has just been passed, if you've got anything there from or by the IRA you'd better get rid of it'.

"I don't say that's anything like the experiences that some have now but I do understand that the mythology that says that as a consequence of that the entire Irish community in this country were against the terrorism effort or against the PTA doesn't follow at all. This is how far back I go...In the late 60s going to church in Kilburn and seeing young men dressed all in black with berets and sunglasses on 'collecting for the boys' - as it was described at the time - and old ladies going up and spitting at them and throwing the collection bucket over.at the time. I do think there are very thin parallels between all aspects of the Irish position and what prevails now. I know it's difficult, I know it's contested terrain. I am not about outlawing young people from any community having radical views, and disagreeing with my views. It's absolutely the opposite."

Which is why some of us are determined to restore the party that was otherwise destroyed by Communist and Trotskyist infiltration of the unions and the Constituency Labour Parties respectively, eventually leading to the creation of New Labour by utterly unrepentant old Communists, Trotskyists and fellow-travellers who had merely moved on in terms of their means from economics to the culture wars, with their ends entirely unchanged.

The party owing "more to Methodism than to Marx", indeed owing nothing whatever to Marx. The party of the Welfare State, workers' rights, progressive taxation, full employment, strong local government and a strong Parliament.

The party (or, at least, a party - the same gap now exists where the Tories used to be) of, in the words of Hitchens, "patriotism, the Armed Forces, proper policing, proper schools, traditional religion, marriage, and the Monarchy".

The party of Attlee, Bevin, Morrison, Bevan and Gaitskell.

Not the party of Tony McNulty.

You know what you have to do.

Capitalism and Corruption

Neil Clark writes:

Somalia is 180th out of 180. Iraq is second from bottom. Haiti fourth from bottom. And Afghanistan lies in 176th place.

No, it’s not the FIFA world rankings- but the 2008 Corruption Perception Index, published by the Berlin-based Transparency International. All the countries above have one thing in common: they’ve all experienced ‘interventions’ in one way or another, in recent years by the US. Surely something for supporters of US interventions in the affairs of other sovereign states to ponder.

The other revealing thing about the survey is the countries at the top. Among the top fifteen least corrupt nations in the world are Norway, Austria, Canada, New Zealand and Sweden- and- at number one- Denmark. All are countries with a relatively small gap between rich and poor- in fact Denmark and Norway are among the most egalitarian societies on this planet. The message is clear: if you operate a mixed economy with progressive taxation and a welfare state you are much less likely to have a corrupt society.

As to Britain- well - turbo-capitalism is taking its toll. We’ve fallen four places in the ratings, to 16th, with Transparency International reporting “The weakening performance of some wealthy countries… casts a further critical light on government commitment to rein in the questionable methods of their companies in acquiring and managing overseas business”. The more openly capitalistic Britain has become, the more corrupt we have become too. If we do want to climb in the top ten, and reduce corruption, then have to return to the sort of progressive economic policies we followed back in the 1960s and 70s.

After Belgium, Britain?

In the Daily Mail, Neil Clark writes:

Crisis, what crisis? As I sip coffee in a Brussels cafe, it's difficult to imagine that I am in the capital of a country facing the worst political crisis in its 169-year history.

For four weeks, Belgium has been without a government after Prime Minister Yves Leterme resigned.

The latest impasse comes just four months after Belgium ended a nine-month period without a government, following an inconclusive general election result in June 2007.

Despite many negotiations, and the intervention of King Albert himself, Belgium's political parties have found it impossible to agree on the formation of a new administration.

Now it seems the future of Belgium is at stake. An increasingly vociferous Flemish nationalist movement is calling for the country to separate.

Opinion polls show an increasing number of Belgians believe separation is the only way the political stalemate will end.

If Belgium does separate, it is a move that will have repercussions not only for the country's 10.5million people, but for the rest of Europe, including Britain.

Belgium is a country divided by language: the Flemish, which make up 58 per cent of the population, have Dutch (or Flemish) as their native tongue, while the Walloons speak French. There is also a small minority of German speakers in the far east of the country.

Historically, the French-speakers in Wallonia, in the south of the country, have held the upper hand. For the first 60 years of the country's existence, French was the official language and Wallonia, the centre of Belgium's mining industry, was by far the most prosperous part of the country.

But that all changed when recession hit Wallonia in the Eighties. While the region is stagnating, Flemish-speaking Flanders is booming - tourists flock to its wonderfully preserved cities such as Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp, and the area is home to many multinationals.

Greater economic prosperity has fuelled Flemish demands for greater autonomy - and even separation.

In 1980, the Belgian constitution was redrawn, giving more autonomy to the Flemish north, the Walloon south and the bilingual capital, Brussels.

But the devolution of power, far from assuaging separatist demands, has only increased them - a lesson clearly not learnt by New Labour which pushed ahead with devolution for Scotland and Wales, believing it would strengthen Britain.

The Right-wing, anti-immigration and pro-separatist Flemish Party Vlaams Belang, denounced as fascist by opponents, has increased its share of the vote in every election since 1987. In 2007 it won 17 out of the 150 seats in the Belgian parliament.

Although Vlaams Belang's hardline stance is not shared by a majority of the population in Flanders, there is nevertheless widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo.

'If there are 1,050 speed cameras in Belgium, then there are 1,000 in Flanders and 50 in Walloon. And the money from the penalties is split up 50/50. OK, that's a bit exaggerated, but not far from the truth,' says Ben Thys, a Flemish businessman.

Flemish subsidies to the south are more than 3.3 billion euros a year. 'We are paying for the Walloons not to work,' says cafe owner Guy Wauters. 'Taxes are high because of this. The situation is simply not fair.'

More than 60 per cent of people in Flanders say they would like to see Belgium stay together - but only if the Walloons make concessions. And as the disagreements intensify, a growing number of Walloons think Belgium's days are numbered.

Rivalry between Flemish and French-speaking communities have always existed.

Only one per cent of marriages cross the linguistic divide. Two years ago a scandal erupted when Sophie Pecriaux, an MP from Wallonia, was found to be having an affair with Hendrik Daems, a Flemish politician.

If Belgium does separate, the consequences will be felt across Europe. If Flanders and Wallonia can be independent countries, why not Scotland and Wales? The SNP, the ruling party in the Scottish Assembly, has pledged that Scots will have the chance to vote in a 2010 referendum on whether to break away from the UK.

The disappearance of Belgium would also be a body blow to the EU and its dream of closer integration.

Brussels is the headquarters of the EU, and Belgium has been one of the most enthusiastic supporters of monetary and political union. Yet many would say the EU has also contributed to the political crisis in Belgium.

The fact that newly independent countries can find a ready-made home in the EU makes independence much more attractive than might otherwise be the case.

Many people sneer about Belgium (usually along the line of 'name a famous Belgian'), but the country has much to be proud of - its ultra-reliable public transport system puts Britain's to shame, and the health service is highly regarded.

In the event of a divorce, what to do with these excellent services? And how would Brussels be carved up between the rival groups?

This issue could be why Belgium may yet pull through. 'I think we will stay together but in a new confederation, with Flanders and Wallonia having more control over their own economies,' says Ben Thys.

The question is: can people from different linguistic and cultural groups live together in one country? If not, then will Europe, including the UK, break up into succession of ethnically-based micro-states?

'I never could see the point of Belgium,' the wit Clement Freud once said. But the 'point of Belgium' will be most apparent if it goes.

Only a short train ride from London, a neocon-backed Flemish secessionist movement with deep Nazi roots (like the neocons' friends in Bosnia, Kosovo and Denmark) is, in the cause of the anti-conservative "free" market and in order to destroy a social democracy based squarely on Catholic Social Teaching, busily destroying a state closely resembling the United Kingdom, historically our principal ally and trading partner on the Continent, and headed by a monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.

If it succeeds, then we will be next.

You know what you have to do.

Napoleonic Brown

Martin Kettle writes:

Four years ago, ministers decided that Britain's South Atlantic island possession of St Helena needed to have an airport. If planes could land on the tiny island, more than 1,200 miles from the nearest continent, its economic and demographic decline could perhaps be turned around. Plans began to be made. The airport was scheduled to open in 2010.

Earlier this year, the Foreign Office finally asked the Department for International Development to sign off on the airport. The file went up to the secretary of state, Douglas Alexander. But instead of giving the go-ahead himself, Alexander was required to pass the decision up to Downing Street. Brown insisted on reading all the papers in the St Helena file and afterwards asked personally to see all the tender documents, in case they did not give value for money. I am told the papers remain in Downing Street and that no final decision has yet been taken.

I was born in Saint Helena, and my mother's family is entirely Saint Helenian. My grandmother was for some years a member of the Legislative Council, and one of my uncles is one of the two captains of the ship that goes between there, here and Cape Town. He supports the airport, though - it is indisputably the right way forward.

Of Masses, Latin and Critical

The Exile writes:

Just as British Catholics are now deserting the Labour Party so their American counterparts may be about to abandon the Democrats to their fate. It is as if the Democrats want to rub Catholic noses in the party's support for Roe v. Wade, and at the same time almost force the church hierarchy to take a stand against Democratic Party politicians because of the their misrepresentation of Catholic theology.

When the Democrats met in Denver to endorse the party's election platform, they stated quite clearly that: "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right." Barack Obama in his acceptance speech then confirmed that plank, and the party then began to run adverts claiming that the Republicans would overturn Roe v. Wade. Put simply, abortion is a major issue in this election because the Democrats chose to make it one. They cannot complain if it turns out to be a vote loser for them.

To make matters even worse, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Joe Biden, who is also a Catholic, along with Nancy Pelosi, the Catholic Speaker of the House, then earned the wrath of their church by misrepresenting Catholic dogma on abortion. Faced with that garbled travesty of what the church believes the bishops had to get involved and issue a clarification of the correct theological position. What this meant was that even if the church hadn't wanted to get involved in the election, the fat mouthed stupidity of Biden and Pelosi meant that they had to issue a statement.

Although the president doesn't make the laws, and cannot ban abortion even if he wanted to, the battle lines for this election have now been drawn and place the Democrats firmly in the pro-abortion camp. Not only that, but they do not have any wriggle room - they have seen to that one themselves.

The Republicans by way of contrast have quite a bit of wriggle room. Sarah Palin may be firmly anti-abortion, but John McCain isn't. In other words Palin can talk to the base about the evils of abortion while McCain is discussing other issues. That party has not been committed to anything just because Sarah Palin makes a speech or two.

Having been dragged into the election, the Catholic Church has lost no time in reminding people at every opportunity of its anti-abortion position. That will not effect all American Catholics, but it is going to effect some of them - especially those who are from a Latin-American background and who live in the swing states such as Florida. Conversely, the pro-abortion voters were probably never going to vote Republican anyway, so the Democrats have lost votes on the swings and gained nothing on the roundabout.

Why did they do it? Probably hubris - they thought that the election was in the bag and nothing could stop their march to victory. As the election tightens with the two candidates neck and neck that was another big mistake that they made.


The opinion polls give Barack Obama a lead of between three and five percent over John McCain in the race for the White House. Unfortunately that will not be enough if the Bradley Effect kicks in; as to overcome that tendency Obama needs a ten percent lead at least.

The Bradley Effect is named after Tom Bradley, a black candidate who narrowly lost the 1982 race for California's governorship after having led consistently in the polls. What happened was that voters lied to the pollsters about their voting intentions and then cast ballots for the white candidate in the privacy of the voting booths.

It is usually seen as a white voter trend, but it effects Hispanic voters to an even greater extent. Hispanics are a major part of the Democrats' voting coalition and the polls show two-thirds of them breaking for Obama. The question is, will they carry through with their pledges when they reach the polling stations?

Hispanics and blacks tend not to get along very well largely because they both compete for the same minimum wage jobs and Latinos have a proven track record of not voting for black candidates. If we couple that with the Democratic Party's determination to alienate the Catholics with its stance on abortion, then we have a recipe for an Hispanic desertion of the party in November.

This election is becoming very interesting indeed.

Yes, but...

Far from Hispanics' being the great hope of American Catholicism, Latin America has never been a very Catholic place, with slight if any Mass-going majorities, huge numbers of the unbaptised, rampant syncretism and surviving paganism, and a very heavy dependence on (historically European, these days usually North American) missionary priests.

Wishing for the United States to remain an English-speaking country is fully compatible with Catholicism. Indeed, those who are most vocal in that cause are themselves traditional Catholics.

Ten Arguments Against The Bailout

Writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, J. Boyd Page writes:

Reason No. 1: The $700 billion Wall Street bailout is merely a “drop in the bucket.” It will not correct Wall Street’s problems. The government’s suggestion that a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street and its bad investments will somehow solidify the markets is simply unfounded. The true facts show that there are more than $12 trillion worth of mortgages outstanding in the U.S. alone.

Reason No. 2: The bailout plan smacks of cronyism. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and many of his chief advisors are Wall Street alumni. Paulson’s close relationship with the Wall Street community strongly suggests ulterior motives may impact his recommendations.

Reason No. 3: Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke do not understand the problems confronting the American economy and are not qualified “to be king.” Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, stated: “This administration is asking for a $700 billion blank check to be put in the hands of Henry Paulson, a guy who totally missed this, and has been wrong about almost everything.”

Reason No. 4: The bailout plan proposes to give Paulson unfettered discretion to do as he sees fit with no accountability to anyone and no review of his actions by either courts or administrative agencies. To create a “get out of jail free” card for anyone associated with the proposed bailout offers unlimited possibilities of abuse.

Reason No. 5: The Wall Street bailout plan is a “knee-jerk reaction” and there may well be better alternatives for spending $700 billion of taxpayer money. The $700 billion plan is aimed at a very small segment of American employees — generally the group of people who have earned excessive income over many years and who live in “ivory towers.” Alan Meltzer, a economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan, summarized the situation saying, “This is scare tactics to try to do something that is in the private but not the public interest.”

Reason No. 6: President Bush and Paulson have proposed a bailout plan even though they have no idea of what to do. Prior to committing $700 billion of taxpayer funds, our government should at least have a plan on what is going to be done with the money.

Reason No. 7: The bailout plan will undoubtedly result in a weaker dollar with many adverse consequences for the American economy. David Woo, the Global Head of Foreign Exchange at Barclay’s in London, stated that “the downdraft on the dollar from the hit to the balance sheet of the U.S. government will dwarf the short-term gains from solving the banking crisis.”

Reason No. 8: The bailout plan is unlikely to avoid a recession. Even experts who suggest there are long-term benefits to a bailout plan note that it could take the better part of a decade before beginning to show any impact on the U.S. economy.

Reason No. 9: There is no transparency to the bailout plan. Lack of transparency is one reason our economy is in the position it finds itself today.

Reason No. 10: Under the bailout plan Paulson and Bernanke intend for the U.S. to pay above- market prices for the assets that the country buys. Bernanke is urging that any bailout plan buy illiquid assets at values above those for which they could be sold on the open market. In other words, Bernanke wants the American people to overpay for Wall Street’s illiquid assets.

Sound like a good idea to you? It doesn’t to me.

Break In Transmission

I've briefly been in hospital again, hence the shortage of posts and the failure to put up comments. I'll be replying to comments over the weekend.

Kelly Tells Milly: Come Back When You've Grown Up

According to Ruth Kelly, Milly is "one of the great talents of the future" and "a rising star".

Which is no way to describe the Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister in waiting.

Is it?

Eyes Opening Over Ecstasy

No, of course ecstasy should not be downgraded to Class B.

Rather, cannabis should be upgraded to Class A.

Remember, two thirds of the population have never taken any illegal drug, not even once. Among today's teenagers, that figure rises to three quarters.

1968 was a very long time ago now, and even 1995-ish was hardly the day before yesterday.


If you do not want Sharia Law here, then you must oppose usury. Either or both of staying Catholic and reading the Bible would have created a situation in which, among much other avoided misery, nobody would have felt the need to look to Sharia for moral, humane alternatives to the existing financial system.

The Western answer to Islam is not capitalism and the secularism from which it is as inseparable as Marxism is, however much many capitalists or some Marxists might wish it otherwise. The Western answer to Islam is Christianity, the age-old enemy of usury.


There is a certain Spot The Deliberate Mistake quality to proposals to make the monarchy more egalitarian or (God help us all) "meritocratic".

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

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

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

The ID Card Design

Go on, enjoy yourselves.

And is that bull supposed to indicate Merrill Lynch?

Open Justice

Further to a discussion on Woman's Hour just before I was hospitalised again, no, of course we should not extend to those accused of rape the anonymity enjoyed by their accusers. Rather, we should take it away from those adult accusers. Ours in an open system of justice.

Like the secrecy of the family courts, like convictions on anonymous evidence, and like both pre-trial convictions and pre-trial acquittals by the Crown Prosecution Service, such anonymity violates that absolute principle. Away with them all.

Complaints Against The Police

Few things better illustrated Labour's takeover by posh Trots than its conversion to hostility towards the Police. The Police response was to turn into a wholly owned subsidiary of he posh Trots, subsequently known as New Labour. And New Labour's own response in turn was to refuse to pay the Police properly.

However, in these days of "record complaints" against the Police, and in the spirit of strong support for their old school trade union demand for proper pay in the public sector, I do have one or two friendly gripes of my own:-

- Treatment of cannabis as if it were more or less legal;
- Total non-enforcement of the drug laws in relation to universities;
- De facto lowering of the age of consent to 13;
- Demands for identity cards, 42-day detention without charge (not trial, charge), and other changes in public policy to the detriment of civil liberties;
- Moralising denunciations of the newly convicted for media consumption;

And, above all:-

- Failure to patrol the streets on foot.

Three Is The Magic Number

What does ITV believe entitles it to the 3 button on all our remote controls? It will have no claim to that pre-eminence among commercial broadcasters if it goes through with any of the latest schemes to ruin it yet further.

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

Friday 26 September 2008

This Week's Moral Maze Howlers

Clifford Longley, specifically billed as a Catholic - "I am in favour of the separation of Church and State."

Michael Portillo (First in History from Cambridge, allegedly) - "the Church of England was set up to be an example of moderation and tolerance."

Steve Chalke - "Hellenistic thought is not Biblical thought" (I don't know in which language he thinks that the New Testament was written).

Joan Bakewell - "Seventh Day Adventists are against blood transfusions" (that is in fact Jehovah's Witnesses).

Where does the BBC find these people?

I have an awful feeling that this is going to become a weekly event on here.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Recessions and Elections

Recessions make people cautious, and so likely to vote for the status quo rather than for change. If David Davis, say, were Tory Leader, with someone equally dependable-looking as Shadow Chancellor, then things might be different. But Cameron and Osborne scattering stardust about the place? Against the man who by Spring 2010 will be dear old "oh well, at least we know what we're getting" Gordon Brown? Forget it. Remember, the economy had picked up by 1997. If it hadn't, then Major would have beaten, not Smith or Brown, but certainly Blair.

The Prescription Election?

You don't pay prescription charges in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, nor if you are either over 60 (as more and more people are) or too ill to work (or, indeed, simply not working anyway). How many prescriptions does that leave? And even fewer after yesterday. Is Gordon planning on announcing wholesale abolition this time next year, in time for a Spring 2010 Election? I wouldn't put it, or anything else, past him.

Ruth Kelly Quits

And we all know the real reason why.

Voting for this mob (all of them, not just Labour) is a mortal sin.

You know what you have to do.

Arm Against "The Parental State"

"From birth till death it is now the privilege of the parental State to take major decisions - objective, unemotional, the State weighs up what is best for the child."

Helen Brook, letter to The Times, February 1980

In 1967, this weirdo handed out contraceptives to under-age girls, behind the backs of their parents and their GPs. Most people were deeply shocked.

In 1995, the Tories gave her the CBE.

We either have proper parents, accompanying their daughters to their family doctors in order to be vaccinated against cervical cancer. Or we have "The Parental State", vaccinating them at school without any parental involvement, when not also imposing ID cards, DNA databases, CCTV cameras, prolonged detention without charge, and all the rest.

But not, of course, actually running either schools or hospitals, nor railways, nor utilities. Yet they still have to fill up their time somehow. These are some of their ways of doing so. Another is waging pointless, unwinnable, and therefore endless wars.


Have you got that?

Ownership or control by a foreign state (it doesn't matter which one), as such, is totally unacceptable.

Together with clean coal, nuclear power offers to secure high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs for the working class, and independence from Arab oil and Russian gas. Among many other good things, this would contribute significantly to reversing Thatcher's destruction of the economic base of paternal authority, initially in working-class families and communities, but then very rapidly throughout society as a whole.

How could any conservative object to that? Unless, of course, the nuclear power (or the clean coal) were owned by a foreign state.

So we need public ownership, which is British ownership, since nothing else can deliver what is necessary on the scale that is necessary.

Free School Meals For All

Why not?

If we can afford the Iraq War or the new Trident...

Hatty For Leader?

I can laugh, so that's what I'm doing. Remnant Labourites reading this should weep buckets. But no one should be remotely surprised that Jon Cruddas was denied the Deputy Leadership by this shamelessly dishonest splitting of the anti-war majority vote. After all, Harman was the candidate of the most hardline neocons in the House of Commons, Gisela Stuart and Denis MacShane. Hers was a Straussian deception of the common herd. Are we on the verge of another one?

Furthermore, consider how the Tories - little more than an upmarket Darby and Joan Club - mysteriously managed to find over a quarter of a million people to vote in their Leadership Election, of whom more than two thirds voted for the neocon, socially super-liberal, achingly posh candidate. Who were they? Where were they? Where had they been for the previous dozen years? And where are they now? Harman's implausible vote for Labour Deputy Leader was comparable: the whole thing stank, and stinks.

Meanwhile, to matters historical, yet very contemporary: the old Paedophile Information Exchange was hand in glove with the old Campaign for Homosexual Equality (they were practically a single organisation - same address, same committee, the works), which in turn was hand in glove with the old National Council for Civil Liberties in the Hatty and Patty days. (Patty, please note, is now a key anti-Brown conspirator, having previously had overall responsibility for every social worker in England.)

This is all very well-researched and well-documented; indeed, so different were attitudes within the real ruling class at the time (I mean to publicising these views, not to the views as such, which have not changed one jot) that no secret seems to have been made of these connections.

The people who have done all the relevant (painstaking) research have of course been short of a hearing in more recent years. But with Hatty's new-found eminence, they are certainly going to get a hearing now. Aren't they?

They're on the case, so watch this space...

Queen of the South

To all those fearing or hoping that the splendidly anti-war new government in Australia would appoint a Queen-hater as Governor-General, below is an extract from the ABC 7.30 Report interview with H.E. Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of Australia, broadcast yesterday:

KERRY O'BRIEN: How do you see your relationship to the Queen, having had five years as Governor of Queensland.

QUENTIN BRYCE: I recently visited Her Majesty at Balmoral Castle, and she is always very warm and welcoming. I think I was down in the program for a 20-minute private conversation with her that lasted well over an hour. We talked about many things.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You are quite struck by her knowledge of Australia, I think, and interest.

QUENTIN BRYCE: Always, about how superbly briefed she is always, and, of course, her long experience. I have to say when I walk away from meeting with her, and I have had a few of them, the words that come into my mind are about service and duty.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The debate on Australia as a republic is going to surface again over the next two, three, four, years, because it's part of the Government's agenda to raise it, sequence of events. Will it matter to you one way or the other what Australia's system is for the Head of State?

QUENTIN BRYCE: I think it will matter to me. It will matter to all Australians. As I, you know, mentioned before, we are maturing and evolving society, of course our parliamentary democracy is too. Australian people will engage in debates, discussions about our constitution, as they always have. And I think we have a big responsibility to be very well informed about the evolution of the constitution.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Do you trust Australians to make the right decision about their own future in that regard, constitutional monarchy or republic?

QUENTIN BRYCE: Yes, absolutely.

Attention Deficit No More?

Mostly for being born boys rather than the girls wanted and expected by their mothers (more and more of whom know little or nothing about men or boys anyway), half a million British children are now drugged up to their eyeballs with Ritalin and such like as "treatment" for various non-existent conditions.

In fact, having long since decided that femaleness, simply in itself, was a medicable condition requiring the pumping of women's and girls' bodies full of highly poisonous substances in order to stop those bodies from doing what they do naturally, we now seem to have decided to treat maleness in the same way, and to get in even younger than we did with femaleness.

But has anybody noticed? Now, that's what I call an attention deficit.

Until now, it seems. Not before time.

Public Ownership?

Or this?

Which is it it be?

Here in the United Kingdom, we can and must go further, building on our own traditions by transferring the rescued financial institutions from public to legally protected mutual ownership, not least as an example to the world, including the United States.

Guess Who's Paying For The Bailout

In the Houston Chronicle, Loren Steffy writes:

The Treasury Department's sweeping bailout effort is feeling like a $700 billion shakedown.

Congressional testimony continued this week, with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson urging rapid approval for their plan to buy up bad debt from financial firms and restore stability to the market.

Paulson's hurry-up offense isn't playing well with members of Congress, and it isn't faring any better with folks like Ed Schipul, who runs a Web design company in Houston. Schipul, who's raised a family, paid bills on time and made monthly mortgage payments for about 15 years, said he's outraged that his tax dollars will go to bail out the irresponsible lending on Wall Street.

"They're proposing that we pay for someone else's mistake, and at the same time they're not holding those people accountable," he said, reflecting an anger many Americans are feeling toward the bailout.

Fairness, though, was an early victim of this crisis. Taxpayers will get stuck with the bill because the cost of doing nothing outweighs the need for punishment.

"I believe if the credit markets are not functioning, that jobs will be lost, the unemployment rate will rise, more houses will be foreclosed upon, GDP will contract, that the economy will just not be able to recover," Bernanke told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. "My interest is solely for the strength and recovery of the U.S. economy."

Too-powerful Paulson?

The Beltway Bailout Brigade says we have to move quickly because the markets won't wait. But as I noted on Sunday, several poor policy decisions helped get us into this mess, and before we make any more, we need to take a hard look at what Paulson and his posse are planning.

For starters, the proposal — which runs about 850 words — is short on specifics about what we'll be buying or how much we'll pay. Instead, it gives Paulson unlimited power to decide all that later:

"Decisions by the secretary pursuant to the authority of this act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

If approved as stated, Paulson would preside over the biggest federal spending binge in history like some financial demigod, unanswerable and unassailable.

All hail King Henry.

"That's absolutely unacceptable," Schipul said. "I didn't elect Henry Paulson."

Changing the rules

Paulson's power grab, already under fire in Congress, probably won't survive. Lawmakers also hope to add some relief for homeowners, such as returning bankruptcy provisions for homeowners that were eliminated in the "reform" bill passed a few years ago at the behest of the credit industry.

But this bailout has to be about more than money, more than just sopping up the swill that is choking the financial sector. It has to be about changing the rules. This crisis grew to such large proportions because of the financial instruments that allowed risk from mortgages and other debt to be borne by one party, while giving the rewards to another.

That undermines the basic risk-reward principle of capitalism. Yet the Paulson Plan does the same thing, shifting the risk to U.S. taxpayers while rewarding the perpetrators on Wall Street.

In other words, we are rushing toward a system in which Wall Street, or what's left of it, has no accountability, where it could foist hundreds of billions of dollars of bad decisions on us, then go merrily on its way.

Need for transparency

For years, we've heard the cry from Paulson and his cronies that regulation kills competition and ultimately growth. Yet the absence of regulation did little more than give Wall Street a long rope with which it now strangles our economy.

No one knows if $700 billion will be enough to restore stability to the markets, but we can't put this crisis behind us until we adopt the checks and balances that allow the market to move forward with confidence.

In exchange for our "investment," as Paulson described it on Capitol Hill, we deserve accountability and transparency. The lack of those two elements were major contributors to the current crisis.

If the big banks want our help, we should demand stricter oversight, particularly of the unregulated derivatives markets. Our cash should come with a bright light. Otherwise, we'll just have more of the same: hundreds of billions of dollars passed in darkness.

That's not a bailout, and it's not an investment. It's a gift.

Come All Without

Neil Craig clearly has time on his hands:

Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Palin
Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Palin

Washington's not building ships or boats
Some are building monuments, others printing $ notes
Everybody's in despair, every girl and boy
But when Sarah the Eskimo gets there
Everybody's gonna jump for joy

Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like Sarah Palin

I like to go just like the rest, I like my sugar sweet
But jumping queues and makin' haste, just ain't my cup of meat
Everyone's bullied, feeding lobbyists from the public trough
But when Sarah the Eskimo gets here
All the the lobbyists will have to ---- off

Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Palin
Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like the mighty Palin

Let me do what I wanna do, I can't decide 'em all
Just tell me where to put 'em and I'll tell you who to call
Nobody can get no sleep, there's someone on everyone's toes
But when Sarah the Eskimo gets here
Ameica ain't gonna doze

Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like Sarah Palin
Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like Sarah Palin
Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like Sarah Palin
Come all without, come all within
You'll not see nothing like Sarah Palin

Tuesday 23 September 2008

And So To Brown

I couldn't sit through it. The American-style spousal speech and Motown-musicked video beforehand had made me ill before Gordon was even on stage. And I love Motown.

I saw the first half-hour, though. They applauded his description of New Labour, entirely accurately, as "a pro-market party", indicating that neither they nor he ever read the papers or watch the news these days.

And then there was Oona King. Apparently on or very near the front row, lovingly lingered over by the BBC cameras - I mean, why? Plenty of MPs lost their seats last time, and plenty of Labour MPs in particular, several whom had previously done rather better than never so much as making PPS or Assistant Whip despite having voted for the Iraq War, the privatisation of public services, the destruction of civil liberties, the lot. (To be fair, Blair was very given to bringing in women and ethnic minorities at the lowest level and then leaving them there. At least Brown is honest - he won't have them at all.)

But they certainly do not enjoy Ms King's media profile. What is going on?

Milly's Friends

As seen on last night's Newsnight:

- David Aaronovitch, old Communist Party hand turned Murdoch columnist, and key member of the largely Murdoch-employed junta of old sectarian Leftists which ordered this country to war in Iraq;

- James Purnell, persecutor of the sick and the disabled, and David Cameron's choice for his own current Cabinet position, making Milly and him the Weirdo and the Weasel; and

- Eddie Izzard, more than a little at home in the gender-bending world of New Labour and New New Labour.

Meanwhile, Iain Dale reports that:

"The city of Chester's delegate has had her pass withdrawn and booted out of Conference after bumping in to David Milliband. She told him that he was a disgrace for the way he is "plotting" to bring down Gordon Brown. Miliband's people complained and they have now withdrawn her pass as a result."

Be afraid.

Be very, very, very afraid.

State Action For Social Justice Reduces Abortion

Good old Right Democrat, with my emphasis added:

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good recently published its own study concerning supporting pregnant women and how those types of programs affect the abortion rate. In their study, CACG found that states with more generous grants for women, infants and children had a 37% lower abortion rate.

The findings support arguments in favor of the Pregnant Women Support Act (introduced by Senator Bob Casey D-PA and Congressman Lincoln Davis D-TN) promoted by Democrats for Life. http://www.democratsforlife.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=48

Here is the Executive Summary from the study:

Family, social and economic supports reduce abortions

Recent research finds that the abortion rate among women living below the poverty level is more than four times that of women above 300% of the poverty level. This study of all U.S. states from 1982-2000 finds that social and economic supports such as benefits for pregnant women and mothers and economic assistance to low-income families have contributed significantly to reducing the number of abortions in the United States over the past twenty years.

Elected officials can use socioeconomic public policy to reduce abortions

The findings in this study suggest that elected officials can utilize effective and appropriate socioeconomic public policies to reduce abortions. These include: increasing benefits for pregnant women and mothers with children under five; promoting policies that increase male employment; providing funding for child care for working women; increasing economic assistance to low-income families and removing the “family cap” on economic assistance. Legislation aimed at these goals can effectively reduce abortion in America.

Socioeconomic factors reduce the abortion rate

Analysis of nationwide data suggests that the economic status of pregnant women factors prominently into their abortion decision. Public policies that provide assistance and support to low-income families are rarely framed as ways to reduce the incidence of abortion. However, the findings from this study suggest that a two standard deviation difference among states in the reported level of economic assistance to low income families is correlated with a 20% lower abortion rate. Across the entire United States, this translates into 200,000 fewer abortions. The Welfare Reform Act of 1996 allowed states to impose a cap on the number of children eligible to receive economic assistance in low-income families. Removing this family cap would decrease abortions by about 15% or 150,000 nationwide. The findings also suggest that, in the 1990s, states with more generous grants to women, infants and children under the age of five as provided by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program had a 37% lower abortion rate.

Finally, higher male employment in the 1990s was associated with a 29% lower abortion rate.

Economic support for working families and pregnant women does not increase fertility.

Our analysis indicates that public policies that increase economic support for families and pregnant women do not increase the fertility rate. This suggests that pro-family policies reduce abortions, but do not increase the pregnancy rate. There is little evidence, therefore, to suggest that these policies provide a reward incentive for additional children. More generous economic benefits that support families, while reducing abortions, have no effect on the fertility rate. However, the family cap on government assistance, which was intended to reduce “welfare dependency,” increases both abortion and fertility rates. Rather than reducing pregnancy rates, the family cap may have had the opposite effect.


For too long, many pro-lifers have backed candidates for public office that end up cutting funds for social service and health care programs serving low income mothers and children. A more consistent and effective pro-life strategy would be to fight for a better social safety net to reduce the demand for abortion.

And yes, I am a strong opponent of the use of State or other power to abort, contracept and sterilise the working classes out of existence, whether the traditional black and white, English-speaking and Christian, patriotically American working classes in the United States, or the traditional black and white, English-speaking and Christian, British and Commonwealth patriotic working classes in the United Kingdom.

But the advocates of these things cannot even get it right in their own terms: the people whom they target have more children, not fewer, anyway. Which would be fine by me, if those children's and their parents' quality of life had not been systematically destroyed in what has in any case turned out to be a failed attempt to prevent them from being born in the first place, and so to justify replacing them with people who understand no English except commands, who know nothing about workers' rights in the country in question, who can be deported if they step out of line, and who (since they have no affinity with any particular part of that country) can be moved around at will.

Chris Dodd and Jim Webb: American Heroes

At heart, America has really always been dirigiste, in the tradition of Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln and Henry Clay.

Thank God for the continuation of that tradition today by Senator Chris Dodd, who demands legislative changes to the Treasury proposal in order to establish a board to oversee its execution, require that monthly reports including financial statements be submitted to Congress, and place caps on executive compensation at institutions participating in the bailout, among other measures, even including a public stake in each such institution.

Senator Dodd also wants to see provisions to assist struggling homeowners, including placing into affordable housing funds twenty per cent of any profits earned from the purchase and sale of assets by the Treasury Department under the bailout.

Can you imagine any frontline British politician saying any of that, never mind all of it? Even Jon Cruddas could only do it if he did not join the Cabinet after all.

Meanwhile, the man who should have been Obama's running mate, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, has written to Dodd (PDF), also to urge that any legislation granting the federal government the authority to purchase $700 billion in bad assets include a strengthened regulatory structure to prevent future market instability, and a cap on executive compensation in companies being rescued by the American taxpayer. Thus speaks Reagan's old Navy Secretary, a staunch cultural conservative. Of course.

Says Webb, “It is inarguable that the regulatory structure now in place has not protected either our financial system or the U.S. taxpayer. The administration is asking for an unprecedented rescue of the most profitable institutions in America with the taxpayers footing the bill. No bailout should occur without a return to increased regulation.”

Webb also insisted that, if taxpayers' money is being used to bail out an American company, the limit on compensation to the company's executives must be capped at the salary of senior federal government employees. (Again, try and imagine any British politician allowed on the air saying that.)

“We must ensure that executive compensation in those companies being rescued by American taxpayers is reasonable in scope, until this crisis has passed and the American taxpayers have been made whole,” said Webb.

Webb has been warning for several years about the excesses of Wall Street, identifying them as a grave risk to America's economic position in the world community, and as grossly unjust to ordinary workers.

“Executive compensation in the United States is outrageously out of proportion with any other period in our history, and with any other major country in the world today. Unless we insist on this basic principle of fairness, we will rightly risk the condemnation of our fellow citizens. Further, as the government purchases securities using this new authorization, it must do so at true market value or less. To do otherwise would subsidize those who precipitated this crisis,” said Webb.

Well, he is far too generous at least to this other country there. But apart from that, we cannot possibly have some of this too soon over here.

You know what you have to do.

Finger Lickin' Good

A couple of tasters from R J Stove's splendid hatchet job on Andrew Roberts in The American Conservative:

"It is tempting to make an entire article not only from Roberts’s forensic amorality but from his outright factual ineptitude. In a spasm of revisionist daydreaming, Roberts has announced that the Australian prime minister in 1938 was Robert Menzies. This would have astonished the actual Australian prime minister of that year, who bore the name Joseph Lyons. Presumably relying on one-volume encyclopedias’ entries, Roberts never got around to discovering that the Australian leader baptized Joseph Benedict Chifley was known to all his compatriots as Ben Chifley: not, pace Roberts, as “Joseph Chifley.” Someone might also with benefit have advised Roberts that the Brighton bombing aimed at Margaret Thatcher occurred in 1984, not 1985, and that Nelson Mandela was released from jail in 1990, not 1994. Virginia Woolf could hardly have contributed to the periodical Encounter, since she suicided 12 years before it began."

"Roberts’s infatuation with the Anglosphere compels him to assume, instead of proving, that the Anglosphere actually exists. But does it, outside neocon fantasies? Did it have any meaning before the Thatcher-Reagan personal friendship or the FDR-Churchill political marriage of convenience? What grounds, historically, are there for concluding that a shared tongue unites peoples? Bernard Shaw’s celebrated “divided by a common language” quip suggests the contrary. So, too, for that matter, does the Serbo-Croat experience.

Could it not be conjectured that America has owed its entire essence since at least 1776 to the fact of Not Being Britain? But for its Not-Britain-ness, would America even be America? How many American leaders before Reagan actually imagined that an “Anglosphere” determined their policies, as opposed to being intermittent rhetoric? How many British leaders? (One such leader, Lord Palmerston, famously said the opposite: “we have no permanent allies, only permanent interests.” For similar convictions across the pond, consult the Monroe Doctrine and Washington’s Farewell Address.)

What meliorating effect, pray tell, did this “Anglosphere” have upon Eisenhower’s clobbering of Anthony Eden in the Suez affair? Or upon Harold Wilson’s refusal to permit British troops in Vietnam? Or—if bilingual Canada is considered an Anglosphere component—upon Pierre Trudeau’s “A plague on both your houses” stance toward both America and Britain? What price have Irish-Americans ever put on the Anglosphere’s desirability? How much did pro-British sentiment in Australia and, particularly New Zealand, matter against Britain’s 1970s support for the European Common Market (support that Roberts strangely likens to the actions of “an abusive parent”)? Nobody expects any historian to have all the answers. Trouble is, Roberts’s cocksureness prevents him from even asking the questions.

Yet there is worse. Roberts commits the same sin for which Orwell rightly castigated Britain’s wartime Stalinists. They did not, he complained, ask themselves: “Is this policy right or wrong?” Rather, they asked, “This is Russian policy: how can we make it appear right?” As has already been explained, no British or American crime fails to elicit from Roberts a frenzied justification. Suppose Britain had run its own Auschwitz. Suppose America had carried out its own premeditated Holodomor —as distinct from imperial Britain allowing Irish and Indian famines through gross incompetence. Can we imagine that Roberts would not be there, spin-doctoring apparatus at the ready, to defend such corpse factories? Indeed, on what logical grounds could he oppose them? We know that atomic warfare as practiced at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to say nothing of Dresden’s incineration, meets his full approval: “Fortunately,” he smugly asserts, “the English-speaking peoples’ wars are fought by professional soldiers under the direction of elected politicians, with intellectuals having very little to do with them until they are safely won, after which they can criticize with hindsight and moral superiority.” Pius XII, Admiral William Leahy, Bishop Fulton Sheen, and British philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe might have disagreed with Roberts on this last point, but what did they know?

“Live not by lies,” Solzhenitsyn pleaded. Lenin had an approach far more congenial than Solzhenitsyn’s to the likes of Roberts: “Truth,” he explained, “is what serves the revolution.” So it is with Roberts’s notions of truth: they serve the neocon revolution. The old-style revolutionist advocated cloth caps, gulags, a command economy, and the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Roberts-style revolutionist advocates democratism, sexual liberation, endless war against “Islamofascism,” a Ponzi-scheme economy, and the dictatorship of the Anglo. There is no reason for the second apparatchik, any more than the first, to impose on the intellects of the rest of us. Orwell again:

Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for. Don’t imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of ... any ... regime, and then suddenly return to mental decency. Once a whore, always a whore."

Roll On, Tie Up

Roll on the increasingly predicted tie in the Electoral College, so long as Congress then delivers Obama-Palin rather than McCain-Biden.

Monday 22 September 2008

Come In, Number 10

Ah, the joy of annoying the Millifans! So I'll have another go.

He'd never get 70 nominations from the PLP, never mind win in a ballot of Labour members and levy-paying trade unionists. So why are you still banging on about this nonsense?

Miliband isn't even the real Foreign Secretary. That Mark Malloch Brown attends Cabinet says it all. Some Labour MP or other had to be found to pretend to be Foreign Secretary in order to keep the Labour Party sweet. And only Miliband had the right combination of idiocy, indolence, vanity and venality.

Since he is already not the real Foreign Secretary, if he ever did move into Number 10, then who would be the real Prime Minister, and why?

We could do a lot worse than Malloch Brown.

And we would.

New Labour: An Elite Defined By Hate

This is my cover article from today's First Post:

Our new ruling class is ignorant and insular. At least ‘toffs’ had a sense of duty, says DAVID LINDSAY

The New Snobs of Labour have gathered this week in Manchester for their party get-together. Snobbish? You bet. Our country is now governed by an elite that denies being elite. Our ruling class flaunts its state education, yet attended the best comprehensives in the land.

Of course, David Cameron's cocooned background (Eton and Oxford) isn't ideal preparation to lead the country, but David Miliband didn't exactly grow up on a council estate, either. Nor did I. However, like all those from the genuine middle, I grew up around those who did. We went to school with them. We still see them. We couldn't avoid seeing them even if we wanted to.

But for the new ruling class, which we might call the New Labour core vote, those from council estates are, knife crime aftermaths aside, invisible.

When the Glasgow East by-election forced the Gallowgate underclass (life expectancy lower than North Korea in some parts) into Westminster's in-tray, the Government suddenly had to empathise with a depravity they only sporadically admit exists. Likewise, those who govern us have sheared off any connection with the old upper class. Ours is now an elite that knows nothing about either 'chavs' or 'toffs', nothing except that they loathe them.

This hatred stems from when Thatcher banished both the aristocracy and the old working class by declaring only money, and only new money at that, to be 'merit'. New Labour has all too gleefully continued her work.

There have been similar changes in America, where there used to be the tennis-playing, golfing, polo-playing and yachting class of Vanderbilts, Roosevelts, Rockefellers, Astors, Du Ponts, Carnegies and Joneses, the original 'Joneses' with whom others strived to 'keep up'. That class still exists. But even the last, and the least probable, of its notable scions is now coming to the end of his time as President.

The shift in power, which many still don't admit has happened, is a shame for several reasons. They weren't perfect, but at least the old elites on either side of the Atlantic were characteristically conscious of the responsibilities of the more fortunate towards the less fortunate. When flung together, top and bottom forged constructive relationships. It happened on the land, and it still happens when the military brings together officers schooled to Sandhurst traditions and poor recruits. You can see it now in the affection shared between Prince Harry and the soldiers he commanded in Afghanistan.

But the British ruling class now has little or no connection to the armed forces. That's why Gordon Brown was able to appoint Des Browne as the Secretary of State for both Defence and Scotland, and suggest in doing so that representing the British military was merely a part-time job. That's why the Government had little compunction in sending an army of 'toff' officers, 'chav' squaddies
and nothing much in between to be harvested in pointless, unwinnable wars.

When these soldiers return to Britain they return to substandard medical care and abuse from members of the public during swimming rehabilitation sessions in Leatherhead Leisure Centre. Only the other week Corporal Tomos Stringer was turned away from a Surrey hotel, simply for being a soldier. A recent study has estimated that former soldiers comprise as much as nine per cent of the UK prison population. If you took out the hated 'toffs' and the hated 'chavs' from our forces, there would be almost nobody left. Certainly not the sons, daughters and future members of the decision-making, warmongering circles.

Those circles, a philistine collection of fund-controlling agenda-setters, are equally contemptuous of the cultures of the old upper class and of the working class, insofar as they have allowed it to survive at all. They are just as ignorant of pitmen poets as of TS Eliot, and just as ignorant of grand opera as of brass and silver bands. But they know that they hate them.