Saturday 31 January 2009

Thirty Years On, Thirty Years Hence

Yes, the Iranian Revolution drew deeply both on Shi'ism and on the very ancient Persian culture.

But in a society which has dug up and burnt its own roots, the hole is both even bigger and even easier to fill.

Think on.

Things Are Not As They Were

On Any Questions, not only were David Blunkett's well-known Eurosceptical colours fully on display when he called the Strasbourg body "the European Assembly", but the old Blair enforcer also defended secondary striking in the cause of opposition to unnecessarily imported labour.

And then Simon Heffer - yes, Simon Heffer - called for the relevant trade union to take the employer to court. Of course, deep down, the proper Tory tradition has always really thought of trade unions (and co-operatives) as basically Good Things. It was the ones that we happened to have in this country that were Bad. But not any more, they're not.

Look at the situation giving rise to this action, and then think how many MPs have neither any such situation nor any public perception of such in their respective constituencies. Precisely that number will be in favour of globalisation in general, and the European Single Market in particular, within a very few short months.

In a word, none.

Payback Time

The Democratic Unionist Party was wrong about 42-detention without charge (not trial, charge). And I am not entirely convinced that it is right about Heathrow expansion, although I do tend to side with unions rather than luvvies.

But its MPs were just doing what politicians are supposed to do when they ensured a good dose of economic populism as their price for supporting the former. And their price for supporting the latter seems to have been Gordon Brown’s endorsement at PMQs of Nigel Dodds’s furious repudiation of the payment of “compensation” to or in right of terrorists, so that it looks as if no such payment will be made while Brown has anything to do with it.

And on that, at least, they are absolutely right.

The Republican Party: Moral And Political Collapse

Every single Congressional Republican has opposed President Obama’s economic stimulus. Bush’s bailouts were fine. But this, to the benefit of ordinary people, is unconscionable.

In the same way, of course, Bush had to be backed up to the hilt as “the Commander-in-Chief in time of war”, whereas President Obama’s decisions on Guantánamo Bay, on torture, on Iraq, and with any luck on Afghanistan after all, enjoy no such loyalty from the Rush Limbaughs and Bill O’Reillys of the world.

The economic stimulus will be massively to the advantage of rural, Evangelical and Catholic America, just as the New Deal was. Some Republicans had the human decency and the political competence to support the New Deal, however few Evangelicals or, especially, Catholics there may have been among their voters at the time.

Those same Republicans, of course, stood foursquare with the rest of their party in opposing needless foreign entanglements, insisting insteadhat America should only go to war if attacked (as eventually happened) or under clear and present threat of being attacked.

Today’s GOP urgently needs to learn the lessons of its own history. Or else it will die. And it will deserve to die.

The Republican National Committee now has a very significantly more anti-life and anti-family Chairman than has the Democratic National Committee. Democrats need to be out there, asking moral and social conservatives directly, “What have the Republicans ever done for you?”

And they need to be presenting President Obama, entirely accurately, as the true heir of those Republicans who called for Europe to revert to pre-1914 borders and thus end the First World War, an outcome which would have precluded both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Of that rural and Western half of the Republican Party which supported the New Deal. Of Eisenhower, with his even-handed approach to Israel and the Palestinians, and with his denunciation of the military-industrial complex.

Of those Congressional Republicans whose votes passed Civil Rights in the face of Dixiecrat resistance. Of Nixon, who ended the Vietnam War as President Obama will end the Iraq War, and who began détente with China as President Obama is beginning détente with Iran (and beyond). And of Republican opposition to Clinton’s unpatriotic job-exportation, unpatriotic sweatshop-importation, and unpatriotic global trigger-happiness, all continued and expanded by the unpatriotic Bush Administration.

The one missing link is Afghanistan. No one voted for President Obama because of his support for the war in Afghanistan. Huge numbers did so in spite of it, in order to end the war in Iraq. He should announce the fact, for so it is, that, just as the 9/11 attackers included no Afghans but numerous Saudis, so that attack was ordered and funded, not from some cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan, but from one of the more opulent corners of the Arabian Peninsula.

Among very many other things, he might then need to replace the Saudi, Kuwaiti and Emirati hired help – and loyal consort of the Great Unpatriot – whom he has appointed as Secretary of State. What’s not to like?

Catholic Church Harbouring A Nazi

In all the fuss about Richard Williamson, what of Hans Küng?

His disparagement of the late Pope John Paul II’s Polishness made and make him the authentic voice of the age-old Teutonic racism against the Slavs. He only gets away with it because he is Swiss.

Although long resident in Germany, Küng is not an EU citizen. So his exclusion from the United Kingdom would be perfectly simple to accomplish. That exclusion is very long overdue.

You know what you have to do.

The Red Tory Moment?

Phillip Blond sets out his stall.

Friday 30 January 2009

British Jobs For British Workers

It should not, but evidently it does, require the statute law for this one.

It should not, but evidently it does, require the statute law for this one. Assuming the relevant qualifications and experience, first should come British citizens, who may of course be of any ethnic background. Then Irish citizens (a bit prodigal, but undoubtedly part of the family), citizens of countries (four fifths of them wholly or predominantly non-white) having the same Head of State as the United Kingdom, Fijians for as long as the same person is both our monarch and their Paramount Chief, and the persons and families of British Armed Forces personnel such as the Gurkhas. Then other Commonwealth citizens. And finally, everyone else. No exceptions. Prosecution for non-compliance. If necessary, to hell with the EU.

The only possible change to these arrangements would be if a new body were created parallel to the Commonwealth, also ceremonially headed by the monarch and having his or her Realms and territories as the core members, but open to anywhere, regardless of any connection or otherwise to the British Empire, that wanted to make a (basically Christian) stand against European federalism, American military-industrial hegemony (which the Americans themselves have now rejected at the polls), globalisation, and the rise of China.

Italy probably wouldn’t join, but Portugal (and Poland) probably would. And member-states’ citizens should at least have parity with those of Commonwealth countries not headed by the Queen.

If necessary, to hell with the EU. And anyway, giving priority to domestic workers (and produce) is normal in many other EU countries, possibly in all of them.

Before anyone tries it, it is quite likely that these Italians are not practising Catholics these days, and if the Portuguese are anything like the Poles then they will be very Catholic indeed at home but barely at all over here. In any case, it is beside the point. Catholic Social Teaching does not permit the deliberate driving down of wages and working conditions. Quite the reverse, in fact.

Note that the workers of all four parts of the United Kingdom have risen as one. For one they are.

Welfare Privatisation Shambles

The FT (yes, the FT) has it here and here.

Turkish Delights

Why has no villager on Davos called into a police station and demanded the arrest of the numerous notorious thieves who have now washed up there?

Anyway, to the behaviour of the Turkish Prime Minister, and to the welcome that he received on returning to Istanbul. Turkey is determined to be a Great Power again. The Islamists and the secular ultra-nationalists are agreed on that. Furthermore, it is the Islamists who are in power, right here within NATO, and putatively within the EU soon enough.

And they are the Turkish Tories, affiliated to the European People’s Party, and indeed very much of a piece with Cameron and his promise to create little Caliphates, Hindutvas, Khalistans, and doubtless also Judeas for those finally evicted from the West Bank, to be run by “local community leaders” who will decide the public holidays and who knows what else in return for ensuring that they and their mates fill out every postal voting form in their households in the interests of the Bullingdon Boys. Needless to say, these little Caliphates, Hindutvas, Khalistans and Judeas will be global magnets, thus entrenching and perpetuating themselves for ever. No wonder that Turkey’s ruling AKP feels such an affinity with Cameroons.

We have been warned.

Tartan Tribulations

Martin Kelly is on characteristically pugnacious form:

Budgets are like kidney stones. If you don't pass them, you're in trouble.

The budget proposed by the soi-disant, ersatz 'Scottish Government' has been voted down in the 'Scottish Parliament'. The peoples' tribune most directly responsible for thus shutting down the government, our own wee Henry Hyde, is a Romophobic watermelon with some off-the-wall notions on public health and an apparently insatiable appetite for the consumption of public resources.

Over the course of history, governments have fallen for many reasons. The 'Scottish Government' may be the first ever to fall because it wouldn't provide enough funding for loft insulation; a suitably ridiculous end to a ridiculous minority Scottish Executive, itself the bastard spawn of a ridiculous experiment in government, one that should never have been undertaken and only ever likely to end in an outcome guaranteed to make us an international laughing stock - which, after yesterday, is what we deserve to be. Scots wha hae, wi' Wallace bled; Scots wha's hae, wi' Salmond fled - straight back to the Labour Party.

One can almost imagine The Tartanissimo echoing the words of Theoden King, as Saruman's army marches on Helm's Deep -

"The days have gone down in the west,
Behind the hills, into shadow -
How did it come to this?"

He should console himself with the thought that like Theoden, he will have followers who will go with him to whatever end; all four of them.

The reason it came to this was the ridiculous idea that everyone in Scotland thinks the same way and has the same priorities. At no time and under no circumstances will Patrick Harvie ever stop pushing his anti-life, anti-human extremism to the front of the political agenda, even if it means he has to take down a minority Scottish Executive to get what he wants. It says much for the vacuity of his agenda that what he wants is not a chicken in every pot, but a damp proof course in every wall. It says much for the retardation of his political skills that he does not know that taking down a government does not make you popular with the people. I guess Gaia's bigger than all of us, for sure; but Big Earth Momma has no vote, and British people don't like being made to vote more often than they have to.

The idea that the Scots would all pull together for Scotland was absurd from the outset. That it has been disproved over an issue so footling as loft insulation makes me wonder whether Somebody Somewhere is having a laugh.

The Tartanissimo's number was up with the Glenrothes bye-election. One newspaper, I can't remember which, published a wonderful 'compare and contrast' piece at the time, with one picture showing the glamour and razzle of the American presidential election and another showing Alex Salmond holding a loudhailer as he stood beside a burger van on an empty street in Fife. It said it all.

As an opponent even of devolution, one who voted 'No-No' in 1997, it is intensely gratifying to see The Tartanissimo going toe-to-toe with The Sunflower Kid like cats in a bag; a legal anarchist with no concept of the rule of law fighting for his political survival against a moral anarchist whose career disproves the idea that everyone's interested in being part of one big happy Scottish family. Justice is done, and justice always prevails. It was always going to end this way. Good riddance.

Of course, the budget will pass. Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens all stand to lose in an election. In particular, if the Greens are seen to cause an election, then the public blame game, the recession and their lack of a large core support will mean that they will probably disappear. So they will cave first and the budget will pass.

But does not anything that weakens Holyrood suit the SNP? Are they not an anti-devolution party? Is that not why they want a centrally set yet nominally local income tax, rather than simply levying the Tartan Tax? Among much else. After all, do they not want to highlight the weaknesses of Holyrood?

Not any more, no. After all, they run it these days. There will be no independence referendum at least while that is the case. Which means that there will never be one, not because the SNP will always run Holyrood, but because the other parties are not just Unionist but actually reject, albeit with nothing like the necessary force in practice, the framing of Scottish politics in terms of a constitutional question which in Liberalism need not exist and in either Toryism or Labourism cannot exist. They came into politcs to do other things entirely, and they want to get on with them. If even an SNP Executive could not or would not hold an independence referendum, then why should they? They should not. And they will not.

Which means that there will never be independence. Not that there ever would have been, anyway. And not that there ever can be now, what with the goings on in the financial services sector.

Meanwhile, as it has been put to me today (keep them coming, folks), "The best bet for the Unionists is to let Holyrood get on with running social policy and local economic development and, frankly, to sort out a proper backup plan for next time, so they can actually get a Unionist First Minister from an overwhelmingly Unionist Parliament."

I give the whole thing 10 years.

Absolute maximum.

Occasion'd By The Lyes And Scandals

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

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

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

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

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

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

May The Posterity Endeavour

Our Hanseatic heritage is generally overlooked. But it may yet come into its own. These islands naturally belong to several worlds, and constitute their meeting-point.

One such is Teutonic, Nordic and Baltic. Attention must be paid to the cultivation of the closest possible social and cultural ties with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, up to Iceland, and round through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and indeed Slovenia and Croatia now that the Croats, in particular, are starting to wake up to the plight of their kith and kin in the land that Izetbegovic built. Such ties would have all sorts of economic and political benefits.

Various events would embody the reclaiming of this aspect of our identity (there are also the Huguenot and Jacobite aspects, of which other times), and the ideal anniversaries on which to hold them are coming up in a few years’ time, notably the restoration of the heirs of the Traitor Peers to their titles, and some sort of ceremonial reconciliation with the Duke of Bavaria (as Head of the Royal House of Stuart) in 2015.

A Proper Charlie

I did manage to catch the last five minutes of Question Time from Fort William. Whom had Labour put up? Er, Charlie Falconer. A Scot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the owner of a Highland hideaway. But a lifelong practising member of the English Bar, who must therefore have lived in England all his working life. And who has, in fact, done precisely that.

Only Nicola Sturgeon would not have been on a London panel. And she probably thought that she as visiting a foreign country in the West Highlands at least as surely as if she had been visiting the North West of England.

How We Miss

Stuart Reid is a diehard High Tory of the Latin Mass variety, who therefore opposes globalisation and the Iraq War, wants President Obama to give Americans universal healthcare, and writes:

It would be silly to suppose that people do not conspire. Many years ago, before he went to work for the military-industrial complex, Christopher Hitchens responded to someone who accused him of believing in conspiracy theories by saying: "What do you believe in, then? The coincidence theory of history?" How we miss Christopher Hitchens.

How, indeed...

Pro-Life Victory In Mexico

And the Catholic Church is even given the proper credit.

Still The Queen Of The South

I have been emailed the following:

The Australian Monarchist League welcomes the news that “Senior Government figures admit the prospect of a backlash from voters in marginal seats -- many of whom are fearful of losing their jobs -- has forced a rethink.” (Herald-Sun January 30, 2009)

The League has always held that it would be a foolish and short-lived government that seeks to tamper with our Constitution. It was the votes of Traditional Labor, who are in the main staunch Monarchists, which kept John Howard in power, and it was they who deserted Howard in droves over WorkChoices. In a similar manner they will speedily abandon the Rudd government if it proceeds along the pathway of radical constitutional change.

Philip Benwell MBE
National Chairman
Australian Monarchist League

"Traditional Labor" did for a time exert conisderable influence in Australia in the form of the pro-life, pro-family and pro-worker, if tragicaly also (at least in relation to Vietnam) pro-war, Democratic Labor Party of Bob Santamaria, one of the most influential Australians of the post-War decades.

You know what you have to do.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Toytown News

Look at the near-total lack of coverage of the defeat of the Scottish Budget, and see how one of the most outward-looking places on earth has become a funny little backwater. Tragic. Truly tragic.

All that this thing does is spend a central government grant. It can raise taxes, but refuses to do so. This cannot now be blamed on Tony Blair or Gordon Brown, unless Alex Salmond is somehow in one or other of their pockets. Is he? I don't think so.

Hell's teeth, even Lanchester Parish Council uses the revenue-raising power that it has. That is the element of responsibility in politics, at whatever level. The Welsh devolved body statutorily, but the Scottish one voluntarily, is therefore at sub-parochial level.

The "success" of the Lib Dems over this budget will not endear them to their brethren at Westminster, who realise that no one would be hit harder than they, either by any restriction of the voting rights of Scottish MPs, or by any reduction in those MPs' numbers. Devolution on something like the Welsh model to the Highlands and Islands, or the Borders, they might have liked. This, they certainly do not. Labour MPs who had broadly envisaged a glorified restoration of Strathclyde Regional Council are none too happy, either.

So don't bet against either of those becoming their respective parties' policies, and being legislated for in the next Parliament (because the Tories are not really going to win) without any reference to Holyrood. I am not advocating them. But don't bet against their coming to pass.

All in all, I give it 10 years before no one can be bothered to keep it going any more. Children being born now will marvel that there ever was such an entity. "What for?", they will ask. What, indeed?

The Eagle And The Cross

This Richard Williamson business has brought the "Pius XII and the Holocaust" nutters out of the woodwork.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As for Williamson, it is simply not a heretical proposition or a schismatic act to deny the Holocaust. It is purely an historical error, like saying that the Battle of Hastings happened in 1067 or not at all. One cannot be excommunicated for that, nor can one be denied reconciliation to the Church for it. And Williamson's is not the bespoke voice of Lefebvrism on the subject. On the contrary, one of this country's leading scholars of Judaism – Professor Robert Hayward, Professor of Hebrew at Durham – is a very active Lefebvrist.

A New De Gaulle Is Needed

To restore good conservative dirigisme in opposition to the capitalist corrosion of everything that conservatives exist in order to conserve.

And, inseparably therefrom, to restore an independent French foreign policy drawing on the glorious battles against all four of German occupation, Soviet infiltration, American domination, and the unbalancing of the nascent EU by British accession.

The next Presidential Election awaits.

Sarkozy simply has to go.

The Mother Country

I am very happy for the Americans. But Britain has had a part-black Head of State for at least 189 years today. George IV was the son of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, herself descended from the part-black Portuguese line, and described in her youth as having "negroid features". He was succeeded by another of Charlotte's sons, William IV, who was succeeded by Charlotte's granddaughter, Queen Victoria, from whom all subsequent monarchs have been directly descended.

Ah, Portugal, our dear old friend, where they even use GMT when we do, where they even use what we call British Summer Time when we do, and which allowed us to use the Azores during the Falklands War. Land of exceedingly multiethnic, indeed multiracial, Lusotropicalism (strikingly similar to a patriotic allegiance to the United Kingdom and to the Commonwealth), of which the Queen's "negroid" ancestress was so striking an example, but which we are all supposed to be delighted was overthrown by the Maoists, one of whom is now the neoconservative President of the European Commission.

There Won't Be A Lib-Lab Pact

Sunny Hundal or no Sunny Hundal.

The scheme is completely unsaleable to either party in the North of England, and in local government generally. Northern or municipal Labour would rather go into coalition with the Tories, and actually does so a lot more often than the London media might think. Usually, that is specifically to keep out the Lib Dems.

Russia Is A Western Country

It's a shame about the EU bit, and there is plenty of the developing world to which what follows does not apply, but Dmitry Rogozin, Russia's envoy to NATO, is of course right overall:

“There is an enormous distance between Europe and the Third World. There is a new civilization emerging in the Third World that thinks that the white, northern hemisphere has always oppressed it and must therefore fall at its feet now. This is very serious.”

“If the northern civilization wants to protect itself, it must be united: America, the European Union, and Russia. If they are not together, they will be defeated one by one.”

The Russia-haters are in fact anti-Western. They loathe the Biblical-Classical synthesis in Christ and His Church, which simply is the West (and is also increasingly defining entire civilisations in the developing world), and of which Russia and her Slavic brethren are the historic gatekeepers, both against Islam and against domination by the Far East.

Gilad Shalit

The First Post has this editorial:

Not for the first time, the issue of an abducted Israeli soldier has moved centre stage in the complicated search for peace between Arabs and Jews. This time, the soldier concerned is Gilad Shalit, a corporal seized by Hamas militants in 2006 at the age of 19, and held in a Hamas prison ever since.

Yesterday, when Barack Obama's Middle East envoy George Mitchell arrived in Jerusalem to discuss the Gaza ceasefire, the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made it clear his country would not allow the reopening of Gaza's border crossings with Israel - in line with the 2005 agreement brokered by Condoleezza Rice - until Shalit has been released.

Because of the closure of the border crossings for the past 18 months, Gazans have resorted to digging more smuggling tunnels under the southern border with Egypt.

According to a report from Donald Macintyre in Gaza City for the Independent, Israel's argument is that the 2005 agreement was made not with Hamas but with the Palestinian Authority of Mahmoud Abbas. If the crossings are to reopen, Israel wants the Ramallah-based authority to control the Gazan side of the crossings, rather than Hamas.

Olmert is understood to believe that Hamas has been sufficiently weakened by Israel's 22-day offensive that the eventual return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza is now feasible "in one form or another".

The big question now is whether the release of Gilad Shalit can be negotiated with Hamas - probably in exchange for Palestinian prisoners - and whether he is even still alive. The French claim to have the answer to that. The Shalit family holds dual French-Israeli citizenship and French diplomats have been monitoring the Shalit situation via Syria.

According to Gilad's father, Noam Shalit, speaking yesterday to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz from France, President Nicolas Sarkozy has personally confirmed that Gilad is alive. Sarkozy apparently told Shalit he had been assured of his son's safety after speaking personally with Syria's President Bashar Assad and with two French politicians who had traveled to Damascus and met the Hamas political chief, Khaled Meshal.

Gilad's mother, Aviva Shalit, also spoke to the press on Wednesday - and her emotional comments reveal why her son's release is such a political hot potato in Israel.

"I want to be hugging Gilad when I go to cast my vote," she said, referring to the upcoming general election on February 10 when the Kadima party - with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni replacing the departing Olmert as leader - and Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party fight for control of the Knesset.

For Aviva Shalit, whose boy has been "rotting away" in a Hamas prison for 948 days, the issue is very simple - in not bringing Gilad home, Olmert's party has broken what she calls "the pact between the state and the mothers".

She said: "The State's commitment has been unshakeable throughout the years. the unspoken covenant between the military and the mothers was carved in stone. We give you our sons and daughters to serve ¬ you return them to us. Not always in one piece, not always sound and too often dead; but they always, always come home."

As Seth Freedman explained in an article for The First Post at the beginning of the Gaza offensive, "Israel values the lives of its soldiers so much that they routinely swap hundreds, even thousands, of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a few captured soldiers, or even simply for the body parts of troops killed in battle and subsequently held by the enemy."

Second Homes Are Killing Cornwall

As Dorothea explains:

Cornwall is one of the poorest areas in the European Union. Wages are very low. House prices are very high. The very beauty of Cornwall has proved a curse because it has attracted huge numbers of tourists, emmets as they are locally known, providing mainly low-paid, very skewed and seasonal employment. It has also brought the second-home-owners, colonisers with wealth and privilege far beyond the average Cornish who they are shoving aside.

As Truro & St Austell MP Matthew Taylor has said:“It’s not just rocketing house prices that are driving local people out of Cornwall, but also the fact that thousands and thousands of homes have been bought up by holiday-makers who may only visit the area a few weeks out of every year. For the rest of the time what would be perfectly good homes for people from Cornwall are left unoccupied, despite many young families having to move elsewhere to find somewhere to live."

This conflict is coming to a particularly poignant head in the Lizard village of Helford, a place now blighted by 70% of homes being owned by well-heeled absentees.

Chris Bean is a local fisherman. When he gets back from a day's fishing he’s “not surprised the village he returns to is empty.

"They disappear off to Milton Keynes or London - don't think about it anymore," he said.

The problem he faces is Helford village has no working jetty. So, still at sea, he has to load his catch on to a dingy to get it ashore. It makes his work harder and more dangerous.” BBC.

But the incomers are determined that Chris and the other fishermen will not get their jetty, and they are using the full sledgehammer force that plenty of cash, time, professional consultants and know-how can apply.

“David Muirhead, a solicitor and part-time fisherman, said that he hoped a compromise between industry and beauty could be reached but urged villagers to show greater understanding.

"They are using all their resources to try to stop this by hiring London solicitors as well as environmental consultants and a town planner," he said.

"They are saying, 'We have all the money to oppose this'. Instead, they should consider it a privilege to be living here and be prepared to work with a group of very hard-working local fishermen."…”

With this recession / depression / slump developing rapidly the social climate is changing. If I were these second-home-owners I’d be thinking hard and changing my position as quick as can be. They might find Cornwall becoming much less welcoming.

Sunshiner reckons that “soon the second homers will no longer be able to afford the luxury of a rural retreat and real people will once again live in these villages. The sooner the better.”

Futeffla rages: “... Shame. Shame on you, you awful, awful selfish bastards. You people are the enemy of everything good. I mean, how dare anyone try and eke out a living in view of your saintly second homes? Curse those filthy local peasants and their sincere desire to feed their families! Hate. Hate you all, you smug emmet tossers.”

The comments in the local paper are none too friendly either. Patience seems to be wearing distinctly thin.

Such, both in Cornwall and elsewhere, are the fruits of the Left's historically illiterate abandonment of the countryside, where people have to make do with the Lib Dems, a silly yet nasty party overall but with many individuals who try their best on certain causes or on local issues. Matthew Taylor is or was supposed to an adviser to Gordon Brown. What advice has he given on this?

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Poll This

Tory poll lead, blah blah blah.

Believe in a Tory victory when it actually happens, and not a moment before. By the time of the 1997 Labour victory, it had been inevitable for four and a half years, twice as long as anyone had ever heard of Tony Blair.

But pretending that the Tories matter is the only thing that keeps anyone at all voting Labour, never mind leafleting for them or what have you.

And even if the Tories did win, so what? Ken Clarke (in his seventies) as Chancellor. James Purnell as Works and Pensions Secretary. Andrew Adonis as Education Secretary.

What is anyone getting worked up about? Why does anyone care in the least?

Compensate This

The compensation of terrorists as if they were victims is of course obscene. But so is the presence of those terrorists in government, a government which they regard, and conduct, as subject to the sovereign will of their own Provisional Army Council.

Bailout This

We don’t want to go back to the days when the State ran the steelworks and built the cars.

Do we?

Unclench This

President Ahmadinejad’s response to President Obama’s out-stretched hand has been as meaninglessly ritualised as was the original overture.

Just as Iran is not trying to build a nuclear weapon, and so can be said to have stopped doing so at any time that President Obama deems politic, so the Obama Administration is not, in any meaningful way, “supporting Israel”, and certainly not to the extent that Iran is “supporting” certain other people whom President Obama mentioned hardly or not at all. So this or a future President of Iran can always just say that the Americans have stopped doing so, and then have to face down nothing more than the equivalents of the Bush-era crazies on the subject.

Détente with Iran is now a fact, at least for America, and one trusts for Britain as soon as possible. As with his Eisenhower-like even-handedness over Israel and Palestine, President Obama’s Nixon-like thawing of relations with Iran as Nixon did with China (although it took Jimmy Carter, 30 years ago this month, finally to recognise the fact that the one China is China), and his impending conclusion of the war in Iraq as Nixon concluded that in Vietnam, recall the days when the Republican Party had much to commend it.

Like the above achievements, Eisenhower’s excoriation of the military-industrial complex, the calls for Europe to end the First World War by reverting to the 1914 borders (as advocated by Pope Benedict XV, and which would have precluded both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union), the ferocious championing of agriculture and rural communities, and the opposition to Clinton’s job-exportation and to his global trigger-happiness, all rank alongside the New Deal (strongly supported by rural, pro-farming Republicans in the West), Civil Rights, and other Democratic contributions.

No one can seriously claim that Nixon, for all his faults, was any more unsavoury a character than Kennedy. But he wasn’t pretty, he didn’t get shot, and he did get caught. There have been Democratic Presidents who might at a push have started the Iraq War. Clinton might have concluded Bush’s deals to export jobs to sweatshops, or issued his amnesty for the corresponding importation of those sweatshops themselves, as well as for the significant disadvantaging of the black and white working class by the transformation of America into a bilingual country. But no previous Republican President, including Bush’s father (whatever he might say now), would ever have done so.

The appointment of Hillary Clinton was still a very bad idea. But she does at least appear to be on some sort of leash. Her boss is unbound by her promise to drop a nuclear bomb on Iran (where there are more women than men at university) if instructed to do so by her campaign contributors Saudi Arabia (where women may not drive), Kuwait (the last country on earth to forbid women, as such, from voting) and the United Arab Emirates.

Champion This

The Labour councils along the Clyde are said to be planning a “Champion” of their own choosing, a sort of First Minister of the West of Scotland. Alex Salmond might (understandably) say “Who the hell are you?”, and put the phone down. But this person would be put through to Downing Street, and under that patronage to Brussels. He (presumably he) will therefore be dealing directly with Downing Street, and under that patronage with Brussels, so that Alex Salmond can just go hang.

It is rather comical to see the Greater Glasgow Labour Establishment reduced to such measures. But Gordon Brown is no Glaswegian, however tribally Labour he may be. So, what of areas that have always been neglected under devolution, always would have been, and always will be? Is it beyond, for example, the increasingly devosceptical Lib Dems of the Highlands and Islands to come up with a “Champion”? Apparently so, I fear, since they cannot even find anyone to put on Question Time from Fort William.

And then there is still the party thing. Yes, Gordon really is that old, and that non-metropolitan. What is Brian Wilson doing these days?

Support This

Jack Hunter writes:

For all the yammering by talk-radio nitwits and GOP chicken hawks about “supporting the troops,” it’s quite ironic that these same pundits and politicians have had little to say about the many high-ranking troops who support Obama’s decision to close Guantanamo Bay. Throughout, the Bush presidency, I made the point time and again that thanks to talk radio, being a “conservative” now meant never questioning your government so long as a Republican was in charge. To not support the president in a time of war was not only unpatriotic, but anti-military, we heard time and again. Last week these same pundits and politicians not only refused to support their president and his decision during a time of war, but on torture and Guantanamo Bay – they loudly and boldly opposed the military.

Accredit This

Still hardly any coverage of the unrest in Madagascar. The fourth-largest island in the world is populous (and increasingly so), is strategically placed (both as Africa emerges and as we have to deal with Indian Ocean piracy), and was British until 1890. But we now have no embassy in that country, to which we now pay no overseas aid. We will be sorry, and sooner rather than later.

Score This

As soon as this business with someone called Robinho became known, News 24 (or whatever it now calls itself) stopped reporting anything else on the strip across the bottom of the screen. So much for credit crunches, or wars, or other such trivia.

But I don’t know what is remotely newsworthy about this. Robinho appears to be a Premiership footballer. He is therefore doing exactly what the Premership’s super-rich owners and sponsors, and necessarily rather well-heeled season ticket holders, pay him to do, namely acting as a working-class Uncle Tom:

Oh, look at the chav boys. They can barely read, and would never dream of actually doing so. They are chronic alcoholics and cocaine addicts. They have eye-wateringly poor taste, and are brash in displaying their decidedly new-found wealth. They beat their wives (if “wives” be the word), consort with prostitutes, and commit sexual assaults in nightclubs. But they are so very, very good at entertaining us by means of an ultimately pointless, purely physical activity.

Both sides are equally despicable, like a prostitute and her client.

Marry This

The Mormon polygamists of Canada are set to argue to court that if, as has been found, the human rights legislation there creates a right to same-sex “marriage”, then it also creates a right to their own activities, which is, after all, far more ancient, and far more widely practised around the world to this day.

You either define marriage as only ever the union of one man and one woman, or you end up with this.

Skewer This

I am deeply shocked to discover that there is little or nothing more than salt and fat in that well-known health food, the doner kebab.

Aren’t you?

But I am utterly delighted to have paid for this discovery.

Aren’t you?

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Happy Holocaust Day

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

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

Just A Second

Quite how being elected is an inoculation against financial corruption, I cannot even begin to see. But it looks as if we are to have a new second chamber. We had better be ready to make the best of it, with specific proposals to restore territorial representation (hereditary peers, very originally at least), national representation (life peers, at least in theory), representation of this country's moral and spiritual values and of her Christian heritage (Lords Spiritual), and independence of party or Executive.

The Senate should have the same powers as are currently enjoyed by the House of Lords, and also the same revising powers in relation to devolved bodies. It should have an absolute veto over any Bill passed by the House of Commons (or any devolved body) without a vote, including any EU legislation passed by negative resolution of the House of Commons. And it should have the power to require a referendum on any Bill already designated as constitutional for the purposes of the procedures of the House of Commons.

Each of the English ceremonial counties, Scottish lieutenancy areas, Welsh preserved counties and Northern Irish counties (99 units in all) would elect six Senators, who would have to have been registered voters there throughout the previous five years, with each voter voting for one candidate by means of an X, and with the six highest-scoring candidates declared elected at the end. The whole country would elect a further six Crossbenchers by the same means. The Senate would have a fixed term of six years, and Senators would have the same remuneration and expenses as MPs.

Meanwhile, the place of the bishops in the Lords has nothing to do with the Established status of the Church of England. They were there before the Reformation. Indeed, with the abbots and priors of the still-undissolved monasteries they formed the majority of the members. So, in place of 26 bishops, let there be 26 representatives (all politically independent, of course), 13 specifically of the United Kingdom's Christian heritage, and 13 of moral and spiritual values generally. This would be far more than fair: if the aim were simply to reflect the population at large, then seventy-two per cent of such seats would be reserved for Christians.

Elections would be on a national basis. From each list of candidates, each of us would be able to vote for one candidate, and the highest-scoring 13 would be declared elected at the end. Vacancies in the course of a Parliament would be filled by simply bringing in number 14. As to whether these should be members of the Senate, I am not sure. That would spoil the nice round number 600, at which I would also fix the number of MPs, with 100 constituencies having equally-sized electorates elected six MPs each by the means set out above. Instead, any two of them from both lists or three from either might have the right to put down an amendment and to come and argue for it before the Senate (or, if the Senate did not support it, the Commons, just as Ministers from either House should once again appear before both Houses in order to answer questions), and any four of them from both lists or six from either might have the power to send back a Bill before it receives Royal Assent, with the requirement that it receive a two-thirds majority in both Houses before proceeding.

As to the vexed question of a residency requirement for MPs as for Senators, 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, at county level for the Senate Candidate, and at national level for the Leader. All the ballots for Prospective Parliamentary Candidate would be held on the same day, all the ballots for Senate Candidate would be held on the same day, and all the ballots for Leader would be held on the same day.

Each of those ballots would be held at public expense at the request of five per cent or more of registered voters in the constituency, the county, or the country, as appropriate. Each candidate in each of these ballots to have a tax-free campaigning allowance out of public funds, conditional upon matching funding by resolution of a membership organisation. The name of that organisation would appear on the ballot paper after that of the candidate. There would be ban on all other campaign funding, and on all campaign spending above twice that allowance.

Such ballots for Commons candidates would heavily favour local candidates ordinarily, but would also leave open the possibility of a major figure's doing what there is a long tradition of their doing, a tradition followed by Gladstone, Churchill, George Galloway and others, and very much part of our parliamentary system.

And as to Senatorial independence of party, there is no reason why the parties in the second chamber need necessarily be the same as those in the House of Commons. Indeed, there is every reason why they should not be.

The legislation creating the Senate should ban by law the contesting of Senate elections by parties that contest Commons elections, and provide for the creation of two new parties, to contest only Senate elections. One might be called the National Party, the other the Democratic Party. Anyone would be free to register, without charge, as a member of either, though no one would be compelled to. Anyone so registered could contest that party's primary, in which, as set out above, everyone, registered or not, would have a vote.

The character of each of the National Party and the Democratic Party, or indeed of any other Senate party (and there would be six seats per county to fill) would depend entirely on who registered as a National, or as a Democrat, or whatever, and then exercised their rights as such. There would be no reason for Commons parties to prevent their members from registering with Senate parties, although they would be forbidden by law to require it, and vice versa. And Senate parties would be forbidden to receive funding other than by resolution of membership organisations, thereby requiring them to have links to wider civil society.

On The Spot Fines For Cannabis Possession

The House of Lords is A Good Thing after all.

At Last, Good Sense About Iran

Since Iran is not in fact building nuclear weapons, President Obama can just announce his satisfaction that she has "stopped" whenever it is politic to do so. As soon as possible, please.

Only about half of the Iranian population is ethnically Persian. Much of the oil is in the Arab South West. There are Kurds in the North West. Half of the Baluchis are in the East, the other half being across the border in Pakistan, where they have long-standing secessionist tendencies. There are so many Turkemen that Tehran is actually the second-largest Turkish-speaking city on earth, even though Turkish is a minority language there. There are more Azeris in Iran than in Azerbaijan. There is a sizeable and very ancient community of Jews, complete with its own reserved seat in Parliament. There are also three reserved seats for Christians, namely two for Armenians and one for an Assyrian. And so on.

A multinational state such as the United Kingdom should be insisting on the preservation of Iran (which any war would undoubtedly destroy), as it should have insisted on the preservation of Iraq and Yugoslavia. And an America true to her own best ideals would take, and would have taken, the same view. This might just now be happening.

An attack on Iran would make the Iraq War look like the Teddybears' Picnic, exploding the Shi'ite Arab arc from South-Western Iran through Southern Iraq and round the Gulf (including most of the oil-producing part of Saudi Arabia), exploding Kurdistan across at least three countries including Turkey (a member of NATO), exploding the Turkish-speaking parts of Turkey as well, exploding Azerbaijan and thus the Caucuses, exploding Baluchistan (and thus nuclear-armed, Deobandi-ridden Pakistan), and on, and on, and on...

It is almost impossible to state in words the urgency of preventing this from happening.

But why would anyone want it to happen? Iran is a multi-ethnic emerging democracy with, among other things, more women than men at university. Its present President is on the way out, anyway. The people accusing him of having a nuclear weapons programme (contrary to a fatwa by the Supreme Leader) and of wanting to kill the population of Israel are the same people who told you that Iraq had magic nuclear weapons capable of being deployed within 45 minutes, capable of reaching New York from Mesopotamia, and one hundred per cent undetectable.

But they have already gone.


Chinese New Year

Chinese New Century.

China must remain united, and be reunited, from Tibet to Taiwan. The alternative does not bear thinking about.

And we must eschew all economic - which will inevitably become social, cultural and political - dependence on her. She has quite enough consumers of her own to keep her workers busy. And we have quite enough consumers of our own to keep our workers busy.

Meanwhile, Right Democrat has this:

The China Currency Coalition ("CCC") has commended the Obama Administration and Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner for recognizing that China is manipulating its currency.

"This is a battle we have been fighting for over four years," said CCC Co-Chairman Richard L. Trumka, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO. "China's manipulation of its currency since 1994 continues to take an enormous toll on working families and manufacturing in the United States. It has contributed to our severe economic problems. We are pleased and appreciative that the Obama Administration intends to act aggressively on this important issue."

"This is a very important step toward resolution of this problem," said Doug Bartlett, Co-Chair of the Coalition, owner of Bartlett Manufacturing Company, Inc. in Cary, Illinois, and a Board member of the U.S. Business and Industry Council. "By the same token, it is important to note that under existing law, recognition that a country manipulates its currency only requires that the U.S. Administration engage in talks with China about the matter. Such talks have been going on between the Treasury Department and Chinese officials for years, with virtually no effect," he said.

"The view of the China Currency Coalition is that Congressional legislation allowing U.S. companies and workers to petition for trade remedies remains urgently needed. The CCC is working with Members of Congress to make this happen," Bartlett said.

In the CCC's view, the mercantilist currency practices of a number of countries, not China alone, are the antithesis of free and fair trade. For that reason, it welcomes the strong language used by Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner that "countries like China cannot continue to get a free pass for undermining fair trade principles."

The CCC also welcomes Mr. Geithner's statement that "the new economic team will forge an integrated strategy on how best to achieve currency realignment in the current economic environment," Mr. Trumka added. "The members of our Coalition stand ready to work closely with the Obama Administration to achieve that goal. It is long overdue and badly needed, especially at a time of global economic crises. We cannot imagine how global economic growth can resume on a sound and stable footing without addressing the source of fundamental imbalance."

About the China Currency Coalition

The China Currency Coalition is an alliance of industry, agriculture, services, and worker organizations whose mission is to support U.S. manufacturing and production by seeking an end to Chinese currency undervaluation. Additional information on the Coalition can be found on its website:

1509 And All That?

I note that a minor public school is advertising for a Chaplain to "continue the school's five-hundred-year-old Anglican tradition". Well, there was no word "Anglican" until the nineteenth century. And there was no Church of England in 1509. But that was the year of the accession of Henry VIII. Is it from that that any "Anglican tradition" is now dated? I only ask.

Historical Crickery

On Newsnight, Michael Crick claimed that the "Traitor Peers" - three of the Royal Family's German relatives, plus an Austro-Irish nobleman - who had to be stripped of their peerages for fighting on the other side in the First World War, had been punished for their "business dealings" with Germany!

The peerages themselves were never suppressed, so 2014 would be a good time to restore them to the rightful heirs, as the legislation provides for. Princess Caroline of Monaco as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cumberland and Teviotdale, Countess of Armagh, Princess of Great Britain and Ireland? Well, her bachelor brother shows no sign of producing legitimate issue, so the union of these and the old Throne of Hanover with that of Monaco seems only a generation away.

So Much For Low Inflation

In my experience yesterday, the cost of public transport has gone up by one seventh in 28 days.

We need a national network of public transport free at the point of use, centred on publicly owned railways.

Make it happen.

One Land

Returning to the "othering" of Gaeldom in Scotland, and also in Ireland, the partition of the United Kingdom in 1922 destroyed the partnership between Highland and Irish land reformers, which would have had a knock-on effect throughout the United Kingdom as the results of their much better-organised agitation bore legislative fruit at Westminster.

You might argue that there would have been separate legislation, not applicable in England or Wales. Well, even if there had been, English and Welsh small farmers and farm labourers would have taken one look at it and decided that they were having some of that.

But instead, although the land question is not as bad as it was in Scotland, it is nowhere near where it would have been if partition had not happened, and it remains quite unaddressed in Ireland. Its addressing by the devolved body in Scotland even though there was by then a Labour Government at Westminster was perfectly scandalous, and has (undoubtedly on purpose) shielded the rural workers of the rest of the United Kingdom from what can begin - and if it had a nationwide context then it would only have begun - to be achieved.

Welsh Speaking


Compare it to this.

By all means let the people of North Wales have all the Welsh-language provision that they could possibly want, although they have never needed it in the past in order to preserve the language. On the contrary, it was all but illegal for centuries, yet survived and thrives.

Contrast it with Irish, the only official language of the Irish Republic, but with no more than two thousand people who even claim to be native-speakers, many of whom are widely understood to be making a political point by not exactly telling the truth.

But free the people of South Wales from rule by a Welsh-speaking elite unconnected to the fully Welsh-speaking communities and culture further north, and perpetuated by a handful of achingly exclusive "state" schools which their local Labour councils regard as a nuisance.

Which is really an argument against devolution at all, and certainly against any further devolution of powers over the (mercifully reserved) Welsh language or anything else. Further devolution would not, of course, pass in a referendum. Nor is there the slightest chance of it while any Welsh Labour MP is Secretary of State.

He himself might very well resign in order to oppose it (only Ministerial office kept the present one, and several other Welsh Labour MPs, from opposing devolution outright), and it would split the Labour Party organically, with probably the majority of its members in Wales seceding. Ex-Labour Independents and ex-Labour (by no stretch of the imagination Hard Left) small parties already do well there, and their unification might very well be brought about by this.

Monday 26 January 2009

A Golden Opportunity

Having given Obama his job (as they have given every President his job since 1976), Catholics should now come up with 20 things that must not happen (not must, but must not) if he expects them to consider him for re-appointment when his fixed-term contract expires.

Those lines in the sand would after all be widely shared, both on the Right with regard to pro-life and pro-family (and, among the paleocons, anti-war) issues, and on the Left with regard to pro-worker and anti-war issues. Five of each would be more than welcome, and are more than necessary.

President Obama's Rural Agenda

From Right Democrat:

Iowa Public Television's Market to Market reports on President Obama's agenda for Rural America:

Listening to the inaugural address of America’s 44th President this week, it seemed likely Obama’s presidency is destined to be compared to that of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Not since FDR’s 1933 inaugural address in the midst the Great Depression has a president used the occasion to advocate a legislative agenda the way Obama did on Tuesday.

Roosevelt realized that the largest task at hand in 1933 was to put people to work. And Obama renewed his call for congressional action creating new jobs building and repairing public infrastructure.

Both FDR and Obama were faced with a skeptical electorate that had grown increasingly disillusioned amidst troubling economic times. While Obama has repeatedly stated that the economy is his top priority, it is less clear what that means to America’s farmers and ranchers.

Andrew Batt examined Obama’s rural agenda over the past two years and filed this report.

As the nation watched Barack Obama assume the Presidency this week, the weight of two wars and an economic recession hung heavily on America’s 44th Commander-in-Chief.
President Barack Obama: “America. For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.”

“We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.”

President Obama’s nod towards alternative energy is nothing new. A grueling two-year campaign for the Presidency highlighted numerous issues including the future of wind power and biofuels.

From the cold caucuses in Iowa…

Obama: “We need to foster the development of the next generation of biofuels.”

To the daily grind of the general election…

Obama: “Wind, tide, solar, we can do it all and we must do it all…”

Obama has promised to double alternative energy production in his first term – a lofty goal buoyed by massive federal spending. The $825 billion stimulus bill proposed by Obama and modified by House Democrats includes a litany of investments. Under the new plan, some federal tax credits, for sectors like wind energy, would become Energy Department grants paid in advance to spur faster alternative energy investment.

The omnibus bill also includes $6 billion designated for rural broadband infrastructure. But it’s still unclear whether or not the bill’s larger sums, aimed at state and local infrastructure, will be used for Rural projects like bridges and country highways.

Outside of the stimulus proposal, the Obama Administration’s views on agriculture include a variety of initiatives and some in agreement with Republicans.

Tom Buis, President National Farmers Union: “Let’s give Senator Barack Obama a warm Iowa Farmers Union welcome.”

Speaking to members of the Iowa Farmers Union in November 2007, then-Senator Obama agreed with a bipartisan proposal from Iowa Republican Charles Grassley to cap farm subsidy payments at $250,000. Despite a bipartisan coalition, the subsidy cap did not make it in the 2008 farm bill.

President Barack Obama: "Here's what I'll do as president. I'll immediately implement Country of Origin Labeling because Americans should know where their food comes from."

Federal officials were set to enforce Country of Origin Labeling, or COOL in the coming months but an Obama executive order this week froze all pending regulations until further review from the new Administration.

Current COOL policy would allow a meat processor using product from foreign and domestic sources to simply place “multiple countries” labels on the packaging. Some cattle groups hope Obama and new Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack will “tighten” rules concerning a “multiple countries” label and enforce more descriptive labeling.

Obama: "I have always stood for tougher environmental regulations and local control over whether CAFOs can be built in your neighborhood. That's why we need to limit EQUIP funding to giant CAFOs so they pay for their own pollution and that's what I will do as President of the United States."

Obama’s stance on controlled animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, has endeared the new President in many environmental circles but those same stances have created an uneasy reception from livestock producers.

Barack Obama: "Tell ConAgra it's not the Department of Agribusiness. It's the Department of Agriculture."

Despite Obama’s public condemnation of agribusinesses, critics have blasted new Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack as “too close” to large agriculture companies. The former Iowa Governor has a history of supporting biotechnology and ethanol production during his tenure in the Hawkeye State. In his conformation hearing last week, Vilsack said he would be a Secretary for all American farmers.

Sec. Tom Vilsack, USDA: "I do appreciate the diversity of agriculture and that it's the job of the USDA to be responsive and representative of all of that diversity and to be supportive of that diversity...These are hard working people, these are folks that have a value system that is not just important to them I would argue that it's important to us, to this country.”

While Obama will likely confront multiple domestic and international challenges in his first 100 days, the 44th U.S. President made a 2007 promise to quickly tackle rural policy.

Obama: "After I'm elected I will ask Democrats and Republicans to come together for a summit on Rural America and it won't be held in Washington it will be right here in Iowa. And we will take action on a Rural Agenda in my first hundred days in office."

The New Deal enjoyed the extremely forceful support of that half of the other party which, in the tradition of FDR's great kinsman and namesake, represented the freeholding small farmers of the American West rather than big capital in all its globalism and anti-family zeal. Are there still any such Republicans today? Here is the chance to find out.

Mutual Feelings

Anglo Noel writes:

I'm currently reading Kevin Carson's Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, which I think has the reputation of being 'The Das Kapital of Modern Evolutionary Anarchism'. I've still to finish Mr. C's magnum opus, as there is a lot to take in...and my brain has largely forgotten how to absorb serious economic theory (as opposed to slogans) in one go. In fact I've left the opening part, the most theoretical section, largely alone, and sort of made my way through the historical and 'what is to be done now?' sections.

However, after those caveats, I'm glad I'm reading it, as I think embracing Mutualism is the way forward. As the state in Britain, the US and elsewhere is getting increasingly exposed as just means to prop up Big Business financially, I think there is a space now for an anti-corporate, non-statist alternative to Actual Existing Capitalism to make its voice heard and challenge the status quo. Mutualism seems to be a good a starting point as any for trying to achieve this.

To be frank, there has not been a lot of calls from the British Left for a Mutualist approach to the current crisis. Indeed, with the British state nationalising (totally or in part) much of the banking/financial sector here, there appears to be wind (sailing, not scatalogical, metaphor intended!) behind those on the British Left whose answer to every economic or business problem appears to be a call to nationalise the sector or company in trouble. There is nearly invariably accompanied by a simultaneous call for 'workers control' of aforesaid firm or sector. Thus far in the current crisis, the British state has not heeded those calls, and without some sort of employee or consumer representation, the moves by the state to intervene in the financial system can be seen as merely state capitalism, as the Independent Working Class Association has pointed out.

Furthermore, I think the Left (here and elsewhere) has to think beyond putting forward nationalisation as the answer to all problems. There are some sectors ie the utilities, the railways, the Post Office, the NHS where I cannot see how corporations can do a better job than the state. That is, Actual Existing Corporations, as opposed to those pie-in-the-sky enterprises Politicians, Think Tanks and Journalists seem to think run erstwhile public services. However, even in the public sector, there needs to be more than just state ownership, run (often at arm's length) from Whitehall. Tony Benn wrote back in 1980 that 'We have had enough experience now to know that nationalisation plus Lord Robens does not add up to socialism' (Arguments for Socialism, quoted in Geoffrey Foote [1986, Croom Helm]The Labour Party's Political Thought, p.330). Hence it should be pretty obvious that a state-owned bank headed by some failed ex-financier who sends Christmas cards to Gordon Brown and Tony Blair is NOT socialism either. There needs to be some sort of representation of employees and consumers in the running of public enterprises. This is not just 'a good thing' for socialists to support. It is essential that state-owned enterprises have some democratic input from those who work in them, and use their products, otherwise further down the line the claim that 'we are returning to the 1970s' or 'modelling the economy on the old Eastern Bloc model' will come to the fore and derail any moves towards a post-corporate society. Writing in the early 1980s (In the Tracks of Historical Materialism, Verso Press, 1983, p.49), Perry Anderson wrote about the need for a quite detailed exposition of what a socialist society would look like, as:

' is quite clear that without serious exploration and mapping of it, any political advance beyond a parliamentary capitalism will continue to be blocked. No working-class or popular bloc in a Western society will ever make a leap in the dark, at this point in history, let alone into the grey on grey of an Eastern society of the type that exists today. A socialism that remains incognito will never be embraced by it.'

Over a quarter of a century on, the need for a non-statist vision of a socialist society is even more pressing, and I think Mutualism can play a large part in creating such a vision.

A large part. Yes, I'd go along with that.

A Message To "Break Dancing Jesus"

You now owe me £110,000 - it goes up by ten grand for each week that it remains unpaid - for your past racial discrimination against me, and for your (imprisonably criminal) racial abuse of me on here.

Pay up.

Caution This

Magistrates, who see the real-life effects of these things whereas "experts" and even politicians do not, are rightly furious that cannabis, which today returns to Class B, is nevertheless still subject to lighter penalties than other drugs in that class.

Cannabis must be made a Class A drug, accompanied by 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.

The rich and powerful, and their spoilt kiddies, are as subject to the law of the land as everyone else.

Per Mare Per Terras?

Watching A History of Scotland on Saturday was very rewarding, as the whole series has been. It was of course none other than the Stewarts, before they Frenchified their surname, who first "othered" (as people used to say back in Postmodernity) Gaelic Scotland, and of course the historically Norse, and therefore English-speaking, far North.

And "other" it remains. I still don't know whom Labour will be putting up on Question Time from Fort William, which I shall miss anyway due to a college function. But what with the Highland Lib Dems at Westminster rapidly making the Lowland Labourites look almost devolution-friendly (and that is quite a feat), it is no surprise that that party has drafted in Jo Swinson instead. The SNP clearly cannot see the point of the Highlands and Islands, either. The Tories can no longer be expected to, I suppose. And who else will be gracing the panel? Why, Hardeep Singh Kohli, a London-based Glaswegian comedian.

Fort William may not be Wick, but it is quite some way from Glasgow, really quite some way from Edinburgh, and an extremely long way from London. With such an attitude to its inhabitants or anything like their neighbours, why is the BBC bothering to send Question Time there at all?

Cohen Crunched

No well-paid Murdoch job for the warmonger after all. So he is trying to worm his way back. Unfortunately, much of what he says is right.

I Am A War Crime

As John Laughland explains:

If, as is expected, the judges of the International Criminal Court in The Hague confirm the indictment for genocide of the president of Sudan (an indictment having been issued by the prosecutor in July 2008, which requires confirmation by the judges for it to be valid) then the principle of national sovereignty will have been definitively buried in international law. What used to be the uncontested cornerstone of the international system will have become a dead letter – and even a principle associated with the worst abuses of human rights.

My firm view is that the indictment will be so confirmed. (The ruling should come in the next month or so.) In 2007, the ICC judges confirmed a similar indictment against a Sudanese minister who would normally enjoy the same immunity from the jurisdiction of the ICC, whose charter Sudan has not signed, as the head of state does. If the judges have confirmed the indictment against the minister, with the simple reasoning that the ICC has jurisdiction over any country in the world once a case is referred to it by the Security Council of the United Nations (as the situation in Darfur was in 2005) then there is absolutely no reason why they should not do so again for the president himself.

Human rights activist are, of course, eagerly awaiting the confirmation. For many years they have said that the fight for universal human rights is a fight against national sovereignty. On the face of it, it seems obvious that states do not have unlimited rights within their own borders and that they can be legitimately attacked or condemned if they abuse their own citizens. Not only is such behaviour shocking in its own right; it has a specially shocking quality akin to that of sexual abuse committed by fathers against their children. When a state abuses its own citizens, it breaks a very fundamental contract by violating its duty to protect them.

However, just as the original authors of the concept of the rights of man, the French revolutionaries, wanted to supplant the sovereignty of the king and replace it with their own sovereignty instead, so the proclamation that nation states do not have certain rights is in fact a proclamation that someone else, in this case the ICC but often “the international community”, has the right to adjudicate the matter. To say that Sudan does not have the right to commit genocide is a truism; to say that it is committing genocide and that a criminal indictment of the head of state is the best way to achieve peace in Darfur are political judgements.

They may well be true. But if they are then used to justify acts of violence – for instance military intervention in Sudan, or the capture and imprisonment after conviction of the Sudanese president – then such acts of violence, like all state or super-state acts, will themselves be based on sovereign decisions not susceptible to further counter-appeal or condemnation. In law, at least in the law of the countries leading any such attack or in the law of the ICC, they will not be criminal acts but instead acts of justice.

It may seem perverse to rehearse the niceties of constitutional argument in the face of mass death in the civil war in Sudan. But the creation of coercive supranational jurisdictions like that of the ICC – coercive because Sudan, unlike the signatory states of the ICC Charter, has not consented to it – poses two fundamental (and related) political questions. These two questions, indeed, are among the oldest in political philosophy; indeed, one can even say that they express the very essence of politics itself.

The first question is: “Who has the right to rule?” Do international judges in The Hague have the right to say who is a criminal in Sudan? More generally, is it better that international organisations have the right to rule, or should nation-states have this right? The question has to be decided one way or another because although there can be much interpenetration of international and national law, on all sorts of issues, the normal basis for this is consent by the nation-states concerned, who express their consent in the form of treaties. States can consent to very intrusive international regimes, for instance the European Union or the World Trade Organisation, but the ICC represents something qualitatively different – an international regime which exercises power outside the territory of those states which have consented to it.

The second question is, “When is it right to use force?” We normally take it for granted that force is justified to prevent crimes. But to what extent is the criminal law an appropriate conceptual instrument for analysing war? There may, I suppose, be some cases in which it is excusable for a policeman not to act when he sees a crime being committed, but they are marginal exceptions. By contrast, it is very easy to envisage cases in which the cessation of hostilities is preferable to continuing violence in the name of justice. Indeed, peace treaties are often signed between former enemies which precisely contain clauses drawing a line under any future prosecutions.

In the Bosnian civil war (1992-1995) the numerous attempts to broke a peace agreement were attacked by human rights activists in the name of justice. Politicians who accepted their arguments scuppered these agreements saying that aggression should not be rewarded. Eventually, when everyone was exhausted, a peace agreement was signed along the very lines proposed and rejected at the beginning of the conflict. In other words, the war was prolonged needlessly for three years and tens of thousands of people were killed for nothing. “Justice”, in other words, can be a very poor guide in wartime.

It is obvious, then, that I am deeply sceptical about the veracity of the charges against Sudan and about the political usefulness of making them. But what about the first question? My view is that nation-states are a far better forum for adjudicating political questions than international organisations for one simple reason: national governments, even dictatorships, are part of the nation they govern, whereas international organisations are structurally disconnected from the people over whom they wield power. The judges at the ICC will never have to justify or give any account of their decisions to the Sudanese people whereas there is always the possibility that a tyrannical national regime can be overthrown or that it will reform itself.

This basic structural problem causes international organisations to go slightly mad. We are all familiar with the lunatic policies which emerge from the Berlaymont building in Brussels but ideas which emerge from the glass and steel offices of the ICC in The Hague are no less daft and repellent. An excellent example of this was provided before Christmas by David Scheffer, Bill Clinton’s former Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues and a firm advocate of military and judicial interventionism. Scheffer wrote (“Rape as genocide”, International Herald Tribune, 4 December 2008) that the centrepiece of the indictment against President Bashir of Sudan for genocide is the claim that Sudanese forces or their proxies are practising mass rape and that this is wiping out ethnic groups. Scheffer writes, "Babies born following the rapes are called ‘Janjaweed babies’ who rarely have a future in the mother’s ethnic group. Infanticides and abandonment of such babies are common. One victim explained, “They kill our males and dilute our blood with rape”."

Just pause for a moment and let the enormity of this sink in. A leading human rights activist, a former diplomat and now a law professor, a man who presumably thinks of himself as the epitome of liberalism, is aligning himself formally, in public, and on a matter of law, with perhaps the most radically tribal conception of human identity one can imagine. He is saying that miscegenation should be regarded as equivalent to murder. He is arguing that a “people” is defined by bloodlines and racial purity, and that a group whose women give birth to miscegenated children is thereby being eradicated.

Since the signature of the genocide convention in 1948, the charge of genocide has been ridiculously abused, for instance in 1988 when a former Bolivian president was convicted of genocide on the basis of a shoot-out which killed twenty people. The “rape as genocide” charge, however, which the ICC prosecutor has brought and which David Scheffer supports, puts even these in the shade. It draws its inspiration not from the legal principles we associate with the Nuremberg trials of 1945 but instead from those formulated in the so-called Nuremberg race laws of 1935, which also legislated against miscegenation. What an ironic turn of events.

To say the very least.

Channel This, Man

Peter Hitchens writes:

By 2014, it will be impossible to travel between England and the Channel Islands, or England and the Isle of Man, without a passport. But you will be able to cross the international border between Ireland and Northern Ireland without any document. And with luck, you’ll also still be able to go freely to the Isle of Wight, or the Orkney Islands or Lundy, too.

Why the anomaly? The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are not in the EU. Lucky them, you may say, and interesting proof that you don’t have to be huge to be independent.

But also proof that the EU, and not we ourselves, now controls our borders.

Yes, but we can still legislate to give everyone from a Realm or Territory with which we share a Head of State the same rights of entry and abode here as are enjoyed by EU citizens.

You know what you have to do.

Home Again

A version of my views on the Scottish Homecoming appear in The First Post, although, to keep things simple, please comment on yesterday's post here if you have any thoughts on those views.

Sunday 25 January 2009

Of Motes and Beams

I care profoundly about the plight of the people of Gaza. I can only laugh myself silly at the idea that Christian Aid, or Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal (as Patron of Save The Children), or anyone else associated with the appeal banned by the Beeb, is any sort of sympathiser with Hamas.

But why is so much fuss being made about this, which we have not caused (at least, not directly), rather than about the plight of the people of Afghanistan or Iraq, which we have indeed caused, and that in the most direct way possible?

Alas, I have answered my own question there.

A Hardy Son of Rustic Toil

Readers of this blog will not need to be told that there was nothing “heaven-taught” about him, however scatter-gun may have been his formal education, and however much of an autodidact he may therefore have been during the rest of his life.

So here are just a couple of thoughts on the great man.

One is that he and Scotland do not quite fit. Or, rather, did not. His sheer genius turned a culture bipolar between Calvinism and Enlightenment rationalism into one conducted within a triangle with the Westminster Confession and its staunchest upholders in one corner, the likes of Adam Smith and David Hume in another, Robert Burns (and also, later, Sir Walter Scott) in the third, and most people somewhere in the middle.

And another is that his writing in Scots identified him in his time as falling within a category mostly comprised of Episcopalians and such Catholics as there were in the eighteenth-century Lowlands. He maintained good relations with both, even if it is true that he had little or nothing in common with either beyond a hostility both to rationalism and to Calvinism (or at least, in the Episcopalian case, to the Westminster variety of it). And those hostilities not only formed his own rural proto-Romanticism, but then went on to inform, not least through him, the Mediaeval and Jacobite nostalgia of the Episcopalian Scott.

Indeed, Burns entered Continental intellectual life via the Scots Catholic seminaries in exile. Such seminaries serving these islands have a great deal to answer for. Among very much else, they also introduced football to the Iberian Peninsula.

A Wall of Fire Around

In 2009, Scotland is staging a year-long homecoming, aimed at the vast global Scots diaspora, to bring in an extra forty million pounds. But marketing is in practice aimed almost exclusively at America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. There, large numbers of Scots-descended people have ties to Caledonian Clubs and such like, very often with Nationalist tendencies. Only people who move in those politicised circles are really being told. An advertisement is to be shown on PBS, hardly a major network. And an advertising partnership with National Geographic will reach America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. But nowhere else.

The UK and Europe are supposedly also “key markets”, but no one knows how those markets are being tapped. In correspondence with me, “Brunei, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and the Middle East” have been identified. Apart from South Africa, none of those places has a significant Scots-descended population. Do several have any at all?

The Scots-Irish in America are being targeted. Their ancestors sided with the Revolution, almost without exception. But those who had gone directly from Scotland to America largely founded Canada instead. These two sides of the family will certainly have plenty to discuss at their homecoming. Of which they, at least, have been informed.

The enormous number of Scots-descended West Indians has not been made aware of this homecoming. Non-white people who merely like whisky in “Brunei, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and the Middle East” are one thing. But non-white people who might be family are clearly quite another.

The Unionist Scots-Irish of Northern Ireland are being neglected. And there are five million Scots-born people in England, as many as the entire population of Scotland. Never mind all of us Scots-descended people here. At least half the Scots diaspora lives in England. If this homecoming were what it claims to be, then there would be adverts all over the national media. But you have probably never even heard of it until now.

An advert is allegedly to be shown in London and Ulster between Burns Night and March. But that is after the main event, today’s 250th anniversary of Burns’s birth. And why only in London, anyway? The “major advertising campaign” said to be “kicking off” in London and the North of England is nowhere to be seen. I only know about the homecoming by chance, from a close relative living in Scotland. We are being completely ignored. That is rather hurtful.

Meanwhile, pre-Union Scotland was part of the wider Dutch, German, Scandinavian and Baltic world. She was a member of the Hanseatic League. There was nearly Union with the Netherlands, not with England. There is still a Scotophile subculture in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe. But this opportunity to engage with it has not been taken.

And Jacobite émigrés controlled much of French and Spanish banking, maintained a network of merchants in every port circling Europe, founded the Russian Navy of Peter the Great, dominated the Swedish East India and Madagascar Companies, and did much else besides, including in North America and the West Indies. By no means all of them were Scots. But there was proportionately far more Jacobitism in Scotland than in England. And the Jacobite diaspora is currently an academic growth area. So another opportunity has been missed.

Perhaps the Jacobites’ descendants, the Hanseatic Scots’ descendants, the Scots-descended West Indians, and we Scots-descended people in England should meet up? We are all Scotland’s disowned children together.

Mr Griffin Goes To Strasbourg

It has come to something when even Harriet Harman gets the point. Yes, the BNP might well win a Strasbourg seat in the North-West.

In fact, it is pretty much guaranteed one there, in the South-East, and in London. It will probably take one in each of the other English regions, even here in the merely three-seat North-East. On a good day, it could take one in each of Scotland and Wales. In the seat-rich North-West, South-East, and London, it is looking at two each.

14 in all.

Because so many people thought that it could not happen.

And because certain people willed it to happen, in order to tar all manner of legitimate public concerns with the brush of the BNP, thus to exclude them from respectable debate.

You know what you have to do.

Or you will have only yourselves to blame.


Yet more consternation about the pointless diplomas of the pointless Ed Balls, who attended the same school as Ken Clarke had done, but after it had been driven out of the state sector in which it had found itself in Clarke’s day, and thus restricted itself, no longer to those who had passed an exam, but instead to those whose parents could afford to pay the fees.

Grammar schools, O-levels, A-levels.

Technical schools, offering equally respected qualifications.

And Secondary Moderns, imparting exactly as much academic and technical knowledge as most people really need, and forming economically and socially active, culturally and politically engaged people, in very marked contrast to that which has so often replaced them.

All else is but gimmickery, distraction and deceit.

Colour This

There were many reasons why I could never have been a Labour MP, even before I left the Labour Party in order to do politics instead.

Most obviously, I have the wrong chromosomes. I remember being told by the relevant officer of a very male trade union indeed that, so far as the parliamentary panel was concerned, that union was only interested in women, and that was that. Well, good luck to it with finding any.

I would lose many a game of prolier-than-thou, but the fact remains that I went from a County Durham comp to a non-Oxbridge university, not from an achingly exclusive London pseudo-comp to the Oxbridge college at which my parents met.

I have not been an oddball political obsessive with absolutely no other interest since the age of 12 or even younger. Indeed, I am still not an oddball political obsessive with absolutely no other interest, and I never will be.

I have worked, and do work, outside politics. Ever.

And although my mother is an English-Irish-African-Indian-Chinese-Polynesian with a Scots maiden name, my father was a plain and simple Lowland Scot, complete with being part-Highland and part-Huguenot.

Which brings me to the latest ructions within the remnant Labour Party over the obvious, but officially denied (not least because flagrantly illegal), zoning of what are still inexplicably safe Labour seats, in order to ensure that those where particular ethnic minorities are concentrated return members of those minorities to Parliament.

Can someone please tell me which constituency is reserved for a Scots-English-Irish-African-Indian-Chinese-Polynesian person, and why?

Disable This

I carry no candle for Dick Cheney, just as I carry none for Abu Hamza and little, if any, for David Blunkett. No one could accuse this blog of Political Correctness.

But Blunkett was subjected to an entire television “comedy” in which the only joke was “blind man has sex”; the same people later gave us a John Prescott-themed “fat man has sex” barrel of laughs.

Hamza has been the object of endless ridicule of the “sling your hook” variety and worse.

And this week, Cheney, admittedly just injured rather than disabled, was widely compared to Dr Strangelove.

How and why is this sort of thing considered acceptable?

Deny This

It is simply not a heretical proposition or a schismatic act to deny the Holocaust. It is purely an historical error.

And one of this country’s leading scholars of Judaism – Professor Robert Hayward, Professor of Hebrew at Durham – is a very active Lefebvrist.

Saturday 24 January 2009

That Gaza Appeal

What, precisely, is wrong with it?

And why, precisely?

The Masters Now

Bush's bust of Churchill - drunkard, warmonger, anti-Semite and ballot box reject - has been removed from the Oval Office.

This country should give President Obama a replacement, a bust of Attlee, whose government gave effect to the economic tradition that had come down from the conservatives Colbert and Bismarck through the Liberals Keynes and Beveridge, and the Keynesian side of which, at least, was pioneered in the United States by the greatest ever President from Obama's own party, with the extremely forceful support of that half of the other party which represented the freeholding small farmers of the American West rather than big capital in all its globalism and anti-family zeal.

Will Our Money Be Good?

What if people refused to take RBS notes because they did not believe that RBS could back them? After all, it will be fully nationalised by Easter, and probably well before that. Nothing else can stop job losses dwarfing those at Woolworths (RBS is also NatWest) and a run on one of the biggest banks in Europe.

Message To Sana

Read this.

And act on it.

Are Red Tories Radical Orthodox?

I have just had an article on Radical Orthodoxy rejected by one of the world's most prestigious theological journals, because, although the editor agreed with every word, it was too sophisticated for his readers. Seriously.

If anyone wants exactly three thousand words, plus endnotes and bibliography, double-spaced and all that, then do get in touch -

Anyway, Phillip Blond's Red Toryism, with John Milbank definitely in the background, is a very long way indeed from the "Eucharistic anarchism" of the RO glory days, when we were just supposed to do somehow Christian Socialist things without reference to the State, since, Early Modern princely and then republican absolutism being a perversion of ecclesiology (perfectly true), all political thought was therefore such a perversion (perfectly false).

Yes, a very long way indeed.

And thank God for that.