Sunday 28 February 2010

Liberal Catholic?

Lynne Featherstone tried to tell The Westminster Hour that the Lib Dems were terribly pro-Catholic because ... they wanted to repeal the Act of Settlement!

Forget pro-life. Forget pro-family. Forget pro-worker. Forget anti-war, on which the Lib Dems have nothing like the record that they pretend. Forget even Catholic schools, higher than which comes absolutely no priority in the Catholic community in practice, and which the Lib Dems want to abolish.

No, what matters is that we be deprived of something that is in fact rather good for us, the enemies of which really want to repudiate Christianity as the basis of the State, and which is irrelevant to anyone who does not realistically aspire to see their offspring on the Throne within one generation.


Perhaps the first of a six-part series? Anyway, running together two replies to comments on this evening's earlier post about pig farming (or not):

Actually, I thought it was a spoof when I first read it. I had, I confess, much the motive attributed to me by Anonymous 22:22 (who has the present scene right, too - cheers). [This was the suggestion that I was double-bluffing, and sitting here with a glass in my hand, laughing away at those who rose to my bait. Yes.]

But not only have I received a truly staggering number of unprintable comments just like that, I have also received at least as many very much like Tom's [see below], as well as a number of emails such as lead me to expect a very great many by lunchtime tomorrow. I would like to thank everyone for them, even if many have been far too, er, choice and fruity to put up here.

Tom seems to speak for an awful lot of people, whom of course I knew existed, who are profoundly resentful of the domination of this area of policy by people who are no more typical of agriculture than of society in general.

It really does seem to be the case that this letter is copied off the Internet and sent off every time that anyone has this situation, which seems to arise an awful lot. I am surprised on one level. But not on another.

This problem occurs quite frequently, so those in the field, so to speak, copy and paste this letter, make the necessary tweaks, and send it off. A certain number inform the Internet that they have done so, and can therefore be found to have done so by means of Google.

Doubtless, there are many similar examples, of the recurring response to the recurring problem. There is a lot to be said for the aristocratic social conscience and for the leadership role of the gentry. But such are not the only voices of agriculture. They are far too often treated as if they were.

In response to the following:

You are a very wicked man, Mr. Lindsay. Goading those overeducated souls into a response is bad enough. But then goading them even further by not putting up their words of wisdom. They have never been treated like that in their lives. Who do you think you are? Truly the heir to Rod Liddle.

Yet you seem to have come across a real problem unexpectedly and given a voice to otherwise voiceless people who have existed in this country for many centuries of forced silence under ignorant, absentee yokes. Truly the heir to Rod Liddle.

I wrote:

It will be many years yet before Rod needs to name, as Gore Vidal said of Christopher Hitchens, a dauphin or delfino.

Oh, well, it's Lent again in well under an hour. Maybe I'll do one of these every Sunday until Easter? See if you can spot it. See if I do one at all.

Marginal No More

"But we are still well ahead in the marginals," bleat the Cameron groupies and the people who wish that they were. Are we supposed to be impressed that our electoral process can be warped by the money that a single individual has refused to pay as tax in this country?

Well, who cares? Seats are only "marginal", just as others are only "safe", because it suits the media and their political creatures to treat them as such. They decide where and who matters. They decide where and who doesn't matter. If we let them. In which case, we have only ourselves to blame.

For as long as I can remember, I have been hearing people in this area complain that the Tories and the Lib Dems do not put up remotely credible candidates or do any campaigning work worth speaking of, and that they might pick up support if they made more of an effort. "What has the Labour Party ever done for us?" may be a particularly loud refrain after the last 13 years, but there is nothing new about it. However, even now, when Labour's appeal here is based on ancient history, and when the later half of the intervening generation has been lived under a less than spectacularly successful Labour Government, voting for anyone else still depends on having anyone else worth voting for.

But the truth is that, while there must be any number of people in the country at large capable of being MPs, the three parties cannot find from among their members anything like the collective two thousand or so that they would need in order to field a serious candidate in every constituency, giving every voter a meaningful choice. It is this, rather than the electoral system, that needs to be addressed. It demands, not a new way of voting, but new people for whom to vote, selected by new means that involve the whole electorate.

In the meantime, those of us not fortunate enough to live in what has been decreed from on high shall be a "marginal" seat, and therefore important enough to command the attention of Lord Ashcroft and the BBC, should be organising, supporting and electing candidates of our own, rejecting both whatever the party in possession can be bothered to give us, and whatever the other parties can be bothered to put up on paper but in no other way. We certainly won't be marginal to anything once we have done that.

Getting It

Alan Johnson was not only one of the very many potential Prime Ministers, actual or rumoured, whose ambitions were killed off in the Blair years by Gordon Brown. He was also the first of the two Education Secretaries, to date, to see his hopes of the Premiership crushed by means of a public humiliation at the hands of Archbishop Vincent Nichols, a truly terrifying political operator even compared to Brown. And I mean that as a compliment.

However, Johnson was on this week's Politics Show in these parts, and he had the wit to point out that the BNP's support comes from those who used to indicate their desire to be considered a cut above their neighbours by voting Tory. Fascist movements have always been the vehicles of people like that, and they always will be. The lazy assumption that Labour could otherwise have expected every vote cast in the East Ends of London and Glasgow, or in some amorphous place called "the North", is precisely that: bone idle. As Johnson, a Cockney who is now a Hull MP, understands perfectly.

The voice of the white working class would not have failed to win a Strasbourg seat in the North East last year, it would not contest every ward in Sunderland unsuccessfully every year, it would not have failed to win a single seat on the Stanley Town Council for which it campaigned in alliance with a man who is now a Minister of the Crown, and numerous other examples. By no means only in the North East. In Glasgow North East, the Labour vote held up. The BNP vote went up dramatically. And only just ahead of the BNP was the thing that collapsed. The Tory vote.

Snouts In The Trough

A friend forwards this, submitted by a friend of his to DEFRA:

Dear Secretary of State,

My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs.. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business.

In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.

I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?

As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?

My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.

If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?

Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear?

I am also considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?

In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits. I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.

Yours faithfully,

The Pauline Community

Otherwise known as the Church.

In any case, the only reason anyone ever argues that Saint Paul did not personally write anything up to six of his 13 Epistles is because, for reasons entirely of their own, they happen to dislike what those Epistles have to say. That is how Biblical criticism works: it begins with the presuppositions of liberal theology, which itself begins with the presuppositions of the sort of pre-Postmodern secular humanism that is now at least a generation out of date, and then it meticulously constructs itself in order to "prove" them.

Even by the standards of these things, what a staggeringly biased series The Bible: A History has been, with only Ann Widdecombe really bothering to engage with anyone who might radically disagree with the presenter's own position, in the process showing up Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens for what they are. Even the well-meaning among the rest have been content to fawn over whatever highly politicised examples of the dated and the cranky Channel Four has lined up for them to present to the viewing public as if they were authoritative or even particularly serious.

No Spring In His Step

In The Broken Compass, Peter Hitchens recounts how, at the end of these speeches, all the hacks form a huddle and decide what the line should be. They have certainly done so today.

Such is the influence of Andrew Rawnsley that one week on from his embittered Blairite rant, and the Heir to Blair's poll lead, once 25 points, is now within the margin of error, while a fake charity which seems to have been run out of the Heir's office, or as good as, will be lucky if the Cameron associates concerned do not face criminal charges.

In the run-up to a General Election, the Tories' Spring Conference is considered less newsworthy than an earthquake in Chile. As much as anything else, there seems to be little public appetite for rule by the hired help of a foreign intelligence agency which steals the identities of our citizens in order to stage acts of terrorism.

And what of Cameron's speech? There were only two noticeable things about it. The delivery of a nondescript piece of non-committal lip service to family values while standing in front of an anti-fatherhood abortion enthusiast and prostitute-frequenting cocaine addict. And the delivery of a denunciation of the National Curriculum while standing in front of the Education Secretary who introduced it. In future, Dave, use a lectern. With no one behind you.

Enter At Your Own Risk

It is rich beyond Croesus for neocons, such as the website that Straight Left has now become, to complain about entryism. Even when, as in the case of the Islamic Forum of Europe and the Labour Party in Tower Hamlets, the claim seems to be fairly well-founded. That said, the main argument is that most of the new members there have Muslim names. Would they say that about, for example, Jews?

Still, after he has taken either Attlee’s old seat or enough votes to give it the Tories, Tower Hamlets is soon to have a directly elected Mayor who, though blessed with unusual eloquence, is politically a pretty standard pro-life Catholic of the Old Labour variety (a couple of divorces, but never mind), yet is able to win a parliamentary seat by having SWP students distribute leaflets contrasting his traditional Catholic moral views with the views of his New Labour opponent, leaflets in Bengali, a language not read by those students. The most brazenly brilliant and brilliantly brazen political operator in Britain today, and now almost completely free of Trotskyist and other sectarian Leftist ties, in stark contrast to his critics, who actually were such people, unlike him, and who have never recanted one word of those positions.

But in any case, it was David Cameron whose vehicles toured Ealing Southall blasting out in Asian languages that Hindu, Muslim and Sikh festivals would be made public holidays under the Tories. It was his “Quality of Life Commission” that then proposed giving the power to decide these things to “local community leaders”. What else would those figures be given the power to decide in return for filling in every postal voting form in their households in the Bullingdon Boys’ interest, and making sure that all their mates did likewise? To the statelets thus created – little Caliphates, little Hindutvas, little Khalistans, and so on – people minded to live in such places would flock from the ends of the earth, entrenching the situation for ever. Labour Councillors and activists fairly regularly defect to the Tories on frankly communal grounds and are always welcomed with open arms. The present candidate at Ealing Southall is one such.

And let’s not even start about the Lib Dems.

Never Heard

In rather a contorted piece trying both to mitigate his shameful opposition to the position of Michael Foot during the Falklands War and to defend his shameful support for the position of Tony Blair during the Iraq War, Nick Cohen suggests that younger readers may never have heard of the SDP, behind whom Margaret Thatcher was in third place before the first of those conflicts broke out. He may very well be right.

But the SDP is one of the three streams feeding into the permanent, electorally irremovable government to which we are now subject, and the ideology of which is defined as "the centre ground", any dissent from which is therefore branded eccentric and extreme. That extends to any dissent from the Iraq War, the funny-money flogging off of the schools and the hospitals, practically uncontrolled immigration, and so many other policies with which most people would and do not even broadly agree. And that extends to pointing out the facts about the backgrounds, always wholly unrecanted, of these "centrists".

Stream One is that of John Reid, David Aaronovitch and the Communist Party of Great Britain, in those days the paid agency of an enemy power. Of Peter Mandelson and the Young Communist League. Of Alistair Darling, Bob Ainsworth and the International Marxist Group. Of Charles Clarke, Jack Straw and the nominally Labour but entirely pro-Soviet, because Soviet-funded, faction that controlled the NUS. Of Alan Milburn, Stephen Byers and Trotskyism; Milburn's only ever job outside politics was running a Trotskyist bookshop called Days of Hope, known to its clientele as "Haze of Dope". Of Tony McNulty and IRA fundraising in the very city that was then bearing the brunt of the bombing campaign thus funded. Of Patricia Hewitt, Harriet Harman, the Paedophile Information Exchange and Paedophile Action for Liberation. And so on, and on, and on. Including the assembled New Labourites who sang, not The Red Flag, but The Internationale, at the funerals of Donald Dewar and Robin Cook. And including Nick Cohen.

Stream Two is that of the unrepentant old paid cheerleaders for the Boer Republic set up as an explicit act of anti-British revenge in a former Dominion of the Crown, as well as the unrepentant former paid defenders of Pinochet's Chile. In those circles, it was also de rigueur to demand the dismantlement of the public services, the legalisation of all drugs, the abolition of any minimum age of consent, and much else besides. Once again, these views have never been recanted; indeed, they have largely come to pass.

So we see support for the European Union, which subjects us, both in the European Parliament and in the coalitions filling the Council of Ministers, to the legislative will of assorted Stalinists, Trotskyists, neo-Fascists, neo-Nazis, East European kleptomaniacs and other neocon crazies, and people who regard the Provisional Army Council as the sovereign body throughout Ireland. We see the carve-up of Northern Ireland between that Army Council's Marxist guerrilla organisation and a bizarre fundamentalist sect unconnected to mainstream Ulster Protestantism, very Protestant though that undoubtedly is. And we see that the old sectarian Leftists of New Labour have installed in the Speaker's Chair the erstwhile Secretary of the Race and Repatriation Committee of the Monday Club.

And Stream Three is the SDP. There are more former members of the SDP in the Shadow Cabinet than on the Lib Dem front bench. The Cameron project is the SDP's path back to power. Somewhat ironically considering that John Cleese used to do Party Political Broadcasts for the SDP, there is now something of a "don't mention the War" attitude to that party. Be in no doubt, the SDP was very imperfect. Apparently unable to see that the unions were where the need for a broad-based, sane opposition to Thatcherism was greatest, it was hysterically hostile to them, and instead made itself dependent on a single donor, later made a Minister by Blair without the rate for the job. It had betrayed Gaitskellism over Europe, betrayed Christian Socialism (and, lest we forget, Gaitskellism) over nuclear weapons, adopted the decadent social libertinism of Roy Jenkins, and adopted the comprehensive schools mania of Shirley Williams.

Cameron has all those four political faults, and he has an SDP-laden front bench to prove it. What is more, he is heavily dependent on Demos, the Communist Party continuity organisation to whose founding Director, Geoff Mulgan, ecumenically an old Trotskyist, he has promised a peerage and Ministerial office. Cameron is of course also surrounded by the 1980s hired help of apartheid South Africa and of Pinochet's Chile.

The other two parties are just the same. Don't vote for any of them. Make alternative arrangements.

"Liberated" Iraq, Part 94


With Part 95 here.

The Merciful Candour Of Friends

Such as Daniel Larison:

Is the ownership of the Falkland Islands the business of the United States? I have no idea how it could be. This is a matter to be resolved by the British and Argentinian governments. Complaints about U.S. neutrality are misguided. It is probable that the only side that could benefit from U.S. involvement is the side rejecting British sovereignty and exploitation rights.

As a comparison, consider the dispute over Kashmir. A long-time U.S. ally, Pakistan, has pressed Washington for yeas to try to internationalize the Kashmir dispute. As the de facto government controlling Kashmir, India wants to keep the issue between the two neighbors. One of Obama’s early missteps was to suggest publicly that he was open to U.S. mediation of what the Simla accord had determined should be treated as a purely bilateral issue. Since then New Delhi has prevailed on the administration to abandon that idea, and the result is the confirmation of the status quo. As a general rule, leaving bilateral territorial disputes to the two parties involved is the correct thing to do. This is what the administration has done in the case of the Falklands, and unless we want our government to become even more interventionist in its foreign policy and even more meddlesome in other conflicts around the world we should applaud Washington’s refusal to weigh in on either side of the dispute.

And Alex Massie:

While US support during the Falklands War was eventually forthcoming and, indeed, extremely useful it was far from immediate. Indeed, initially the State Department sympathised with the Argentine position while Jean Kirkpatrick, then Ambassador to the United Nations, openly sided with the Galtieri regime. Better to support a nasty little junta as a bulwark against lefty influence in Latin America you see? And to hell with the interests of your friends. Interests trump alliances, or so the argument went.

And something of that spirit still exists in Washington. There's no desire to take a public stand on this issue that would irritate other Latin American countries who have no need to be reminded of what they deem US interference in Latin America. Equally, there is a certain view in Washington that the Falklands are a mildly absurd remnant of a long-gone British imperial era and, since the death of that age was a US objective post-WW2 it's not a great surprise that Foggy Bottom remains unimpressed by the last embers of that once glorious fire.

If push does eventually come to shove then the Americans will, I hope, back Britain. But they'd rather not have to take a decision of any sort. If that means annoying the UK then so be it. And of course, the UK can be annoyed because Washington calculates, not unreasonably, that in the end, Britain won't do much to frustrate US objectives elsewhere whereas the Latin Americans will in areas of policy in which Britain has next to no interest or stake.

That veteran of Jim Callaghan's and Michael Foot's Labour Party, Peter Hitchens, has it right:

Let's stop pretending we have a ‘special relationship’ with the USA, and treat America the way France’s General de Gaulle used to.

They’ll respect us for it, as they respected him. Here’s the first thing we should do, which I am sure the great General would have done.

Washington refuses to back us against Latin America’s renewed campaign to make us hand over the Falklands and their people to the Banana Republic of Argentina.

Right then, we should immediately take all our troops and equipment out of Afghanistan, and put them on boats and planes to Port Stanley, leaving nothing behind but a few empty baked-bean tins.

Any politician willing to pledge this will win the Election, by the way. This one-sided ‘relationship’ is far more unpopular than they realise.

Alive, And Kicking The SNP

Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi is not only innocent of the offences of which he was convicted, an immaterial point in view of his withdrawal of his appeal. He is also still alive and rather a picture of health. Alex Salmond, not only have you a thoroughly crooked Deputy, and not only have you failed to deliver the only thing that your party exists to do, but now this. Third behind the Tories? Here's to fifth behind the Lib Dems and the Greens.

The Eternal State

As the Ottoman Caliphate called itself. And, after all, it lasted from 1299 until, depending on how you measure these things, 1922 or 1923.

The latest news is not that the secular ultranationalists of the Army have tried to stage an anti-Islamist coup. There is nothing remotely new about that.

Rather, the news is that they have failed to do so, and that those apparently responsible face prosecution. The AKP can now do that sort of thing.

In a country to which that most modish of terms, "strategically vital", really does apply.

The Eternal State, indeed.

British Tea Parties?

Why adopt a tactic which has already failed in its own country? The Tea Party movement there has already descended to engineering and then celebrating the election of Scott “Jobs Bill” Brown, and to levying an enormous registration charge in order to pay a decidedly non-Middle American fee to Sarah Palin.

The whole thing was only ever astroturfing: the corporate faking of grassroots. Hence the failure to criticise the very big government, very high tax wars. Hence the level of publicity. And hence the absence of any publicity worth speaking of for the British effort, lacking as it does the necessary corporate sponsorship. But since when did big business believe in, say, national sovereignty, or family values?

Friday 26 February 2010

Desire The Right

Treacherous Obama, eh? Er, no, actually. There is nothing new about any of this. America has always been opposed to British sovereignty or even influence anywhere in the Americas, and indeed anywhere beyond England, Scotland and Wales.

A lot of the British passport holders on the Falkland Islands these days are Saint Helenian. Attention to a British Overseas Territory is most useful in the debate about what it is to be British. Being British is not and has never been an ethnic identity. However reduced it may now be in these terms, being British is an imperial identity, transcending ethnicity as surely as Saint Paul's Roman citizenship was wholly compatible with the fact that he was a Greek-speaking Jew from present-day Turkey.

In view of the entirely voluntary constitutional status of each of the places in question, to be British is now to be not just any, but at some level all, of English, Scots, Welsh, Irish, Manx, Channel Islander, Mediterranean, North American (they are that, not West Indian, in Bermuda), Caribbean, South American, Southern African Creole, Indian Ocean Creole, and Polynesian.

Don't Be Spooked

MI5, indeed!

It has primary responsibility for the increasingly chaotic and disastrous security situation in Northern Ireland.

According to its recent official history, the three greatest threats to Britain in the last hundred years have been Hitler, Stalin and Osama Bin Laden, all "armed with power". Yes, that's right. Armed with the power of a dialysis machine in a cave in Pakistan.

And it devotes much of its time to putting out a ridiculous piece of propaganda in the form of a drama series which some people think is real, or at least realistic, and which David Cameron has described as his favourite programme.

Doubting Thomas

He has the same surname as my mother had before she was married, and when he first popped up on Facebook I assumed that he was a Saint Helenian. He is the most obviously mixed-race person on whom (yes, I) have ever set eyes. However, it turns out that he is:

"BNP Parliamentary Candidate for Easington Constituancy"

And that:

"Im not racist. But im getting extremely pissed off with asian people in the UK speaking in arabic in public!! Ya go to the corner shop or to the chippy and you hear other languages being spoke! I find it to be totally ignorant!!"

In response to the announcement that Rod Liddle is a Patron of my parliamentary campaign, he exclaims:

"90,000 BNP leaflets going out in your area mate! 16 activists are going to hit this area hard as well!"

90,000 is about as many votes as the BNP will receive in the entire country now that it has given up the only reason why anyone ever voted for it. That giving up, however, is good news for the "BNP Parliamentary Candidate for Easington Constituancy", described by one of my Facebook friends and campaign supporters as "definitely an octoroon. Thomas would have commanded a high price on the New Orleans block back in 1860."

Proper State Schools

I overheard a fascinating little exchange between two of my freshers yesterday evening. One of them was talking about his beloved Blackburn Rovers, and was able to translate its motto, Arte et labore, “by art (in the older, fuller sense) and by work”. He then launched into a little bit of Latin verse that he had learned for his Latin GCSE, although he is now reading Maths. I had never before heard Latin spoken with a Lancashire accent, although I suppose that it must have been common liturgically before Vatican II.

Anyway, enter the other party to point out that there was none of that sort of thing at “proper state schools”. Her friend, you may have guessed, was a grammar school boy. Now, Lancashire County Council is under Conservative control. But that has only been the case since last year, the first time since 1981. From then until 1985, it was under No Overall Control. And then from 1985 to 2009, including the whole of my tutee's life until he was towards to very end of his time in the Upper Sixth, it was controlled by Labour.

It was Margaret Thatcher who, as Education Secretary, closed so many grammar schools that there were not enough left at the end for her record ever to be equalled. It was Margaret Thatcher, who, as Prime Minister, replaced O-levels with GCSEs, the one thing, above all others, for which my entire generation must never, ever forgive either her or her party. Between 1979 and 1997, not a single grammar school re-opened. Not one.

Whereas Ministerial defence of the grammar schools had come from “Red Ellen” Wilkinson of the Jarrow Crusade, and from George Tomlinson. Their academic defence had come from Sidney Webb, author of the old Clause IV, and from R H Tawney. Their vigorous practical defence, not least against Thatcher, came from Labour councillors and activists around the country, notably in Lancashire, and also in Kent, where their protection was long spearheaded by Eric Hammond.

They were restored by popular demand, as soon as the Berlin Wall came down, in what is still the very left-wing former East Germany. More recently, they were successfully saved by popular demand in the Social Democratic heartland of North Rhine-Westphalia. But in Britain, each party continues to believe something totally false about its own record with regard to proper state schools. Away with the pair of them, never mind the Lib Dems, heirs to Shirley Williams and her betrayal of Wilkinson, Tomlinson, Webb, Tawney and all the rest. Do not vote for any of them. Make alternative arrangements.

How To Read An Opinion Poll (Revisited)

In today's first of two from him, Peter Hitchens writes:

Many months ago I wrote an entry on this subject which I think can still be Googled. I'd just like to make a small comment on today's IPSOS MORI poll. This is the third major poll in a row to show the Tory lead (already pretty feeble) shrinking - in this case to five per cent. There can now be no doubt that this is actually happening, and that the earlier polls showing such a trend were not rogues. Much of the polling also took place after the 'bullying' allegations against Mr Brown, which voters presumably regard as irrelevant, as I do.

Where does this interesting news appear in the loyally Conservative-supporting newspaper which expensively commissioned it? I will tell you. It is on Page Two (known in the trade as the Elephant's Graveyard, the place where good stories go to die). It lacks the exciting, attention-getting coloured bar or pie charts which so often decorate poll stories, and has a strange headline 'Labour could still win most seats', which isn't really the point of it. In fact I entirely missed it when I hunted through the paper for it on my early-morning train, though I had heard it mentioned on the radio. I at first thought the BBC had got the wrong paper.

I keep telling you. Polls are intended, by those who commission them, to influence opinion, not to measure it.

I wonder if you can guess what might have propelled this poll on to Page One of the newspaper concerned? That page, today, is rightly much taken up with the latest horrible child murder. But there is space for other stories - and the other prominent spots are occupied by articles on back pain and watering the lawn.

Much more important than the coming election, eh?

"The Return"? If Only

Twenty thousand Saddam-era Army officers to be reinstated, having been purged in 2003. It would take a heart of stone not to laugh. But even this is too little, too late.

The Iraqi Ba’ath Party was multiethnic and secular. It had not been founded by Saddam Hussein, and his was a constant battle to keep control of it. To ban its erstwhile members from office is to ban anyone who has ever run anything, and amounts to a blanket ban on Sunni Arabs and on Christians.

And to have destroyed it is almost certainly already to have destroyed the only body that would have been capable of producing a multiethnic, secular democracy in Iraq when the old man died, as he would have done soon enough.

That Far More Worrying Islamist Nation

On fine form today, Peter Hitchens writes:

Amid all the palaver about Iran's slow-motion attempt to build a nuclear weapon (my experience of Iranian technology and ability to complete major projects on time suggests that they might get there somewhere around 2050, if they really, really try), there is momentous news from that far more worrying Islamist nation -Turkey.

We like to think of Turkey as being an honorary Western country. It's in NATO (whatever that is now) and it wants to be in the EU (heaven knows why). Kemal Ataturk got the Mullahs under control nearly 100 years ago. Hijabs are banned on state property. It's secular, modern, etc etc.

I don't agree. In fact I think this picture is completely out of date. My own experience of Turkey suggests that its population, including much of the new urban middle-class, are (unlike the Iranians) fervently and increasingly Islamic, and want to be more so. The country during Ramadan is enormously and enthusiastically devout. People I interviewed during the day didn't even drink water, traffic was nervous and violent (my Istanbul-bound taxi crashed 100 yards from the airport, and this was the driver's explanation) because everyone was so frazzled from fasting since first light. I just don't believe the repeated conventional wisdom that Prime Minister Erdogan and his AK Party have given up the militant Islamism they used to espouse, when he wrote 'Our minarets are our bayonets.'

Western liberals (as usual forced into folly by dogma) see Erdogan as a sort of hero, and Turkey's secular military as the villains, a 'deep state' threatening dictatorship. Well, the Turkish military certainly aren't democrats, and have intervened many times in coups d'etat to shut down governments they didn't like, including several incompetent ones and one Islamist one. But they are in the Ataturk tradition, firm secularists who don't want Turkey to be an Islamic republic. So are the liberals really sure they're less of a worry than the AK Party, in the long run? By the way, if Turkey were to go fully Islamic, it would be a majority Sunni state, unlike Iran which is Shia, and so a bit of an outcast from the rest of the Muslim world. Sunni Muslims regard Shia as heretics, and often persecute them. I'll also touch on the significance of this a little later, while discussing Afghanistan.

He does:

Those who insist that the Taleban, or the non-existent fantasy organisation 'Al Qaeda' would be more likely to commit terrorist crimes in this country if our troops withdrew from Helmand, need to explain the logical process which leads them to this belief. What is the process by which the British military presence in this portion of Afghanistan has this effect? I cannot see it myself, but would be willing to accept it if someone would explain it to me, in short, simple steps with factual evidence to back up the argument. Assertion doesn't do it for me. And the burden of proof is on them. It's they who want others sent to die in the name of this policy. They must show us how this policy actually operates in practice.

Ronnie Clews [who comments on his blog] says: ’If you can reassure me that all will be well and that we have nothing at all to fear from the likes of Osama Bin Laden and his terror network, or from their paymaster Iran and their 'peaceful' exploitation of nuclear energy - fine! I'll be the first to agree with you.’

There are two things wrong with this point. One, I offer no such reassurance. I cannot guarantee anyone that they will be safe from terror attacks. Terrorism is by its nature secret and based upon surprise. What I am saying is that the British government, also, cannot offer any such guarantee, or explain how British troops in Afghanistan make terrorist attacks in Britain more unlikely. They might as well say that our military presence made fog in Somerset more unlikely, or road accidents in Peebles less likely. There is no evidence to connect the two things. There is a rival argument (which I don't myself buy) that our presence in Afghanistan makes terror attacks on Britain more likely, and I have to say that, thin as it is, and likewise lacking evidence, it is considerably less laughable than the opposite case. I am not the one doing the pretending. Any country is at risk from terror attacks, and one of the main things we need to grasp is that the elaborate 'anti-terror' mechanisms now in place are largely useless in reducing this danger, for many reasons including human fallibility. Terrorism, by its nature, cannot be entirely prevented. Such security is a fantasy. Those who offer it are fakes.

His other error is his absurd claim that Iran is the 'paymaster' of Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden is a Wahhabi Sunni Muslim, who regards Iranian Shia Muslims as dangerous heretics (the Shia minority in Wahhabi Saudi Arabia suffers severe discrimination). The Taleban loathes Iran, and it is mutual (Taleban fanatics actually crossed over into Iran to try to destroy the (astonishingly majestic) Shia shrine at Mashhad, such is their loathing of their supposed co-religionists). People who want to warn us of the terrible danger from the Islamic world really do need to know a little more about it, if they want to be taken seriously.

Proud To Be A Keynesian Eurosceptic

That great embodiment of Commonwealth British patriotism, the only person to resign from either front bench in order to vote against Maastricht, Bryan Gould, writes:

When I left British politics in 1994, the Independent published a leading article in which, alongside some generous comments, they regretted my adherence to "Keynesian macroeconomics" and my "fervent Euroscepticism".

I imagine that support for Keynesian macroeconomics does not seem as anachronistic today as it apparently did then. And, I would argue, my "Euroscepticism" (which was so easily and wrongly translated into anti-Europeanism) should now more readily be recognised as all of a piece with the Keynesian view that keeping control of one's own macroeconomic policy, rather than handing it over to an unaccountable international central bank, was an important safeguard against recession.

I was reminded of all of this by last week's Financial Times piece by the veteran economics commentator Sam Brittan. He argued that the introduction of the euro had been premature, and that the plight of Greece (and perhaps of other eurozone states to follow) was a direct consequence of failing to recognise that a common currency could succeed only if there was a convergence of costs across the whole economy – and if the common currency helped towards, rather than hindered, that end.

Brittan's current view is of course in marked contrast to what he thought and wrote on many previous occasions. I recall that, in 1988, when Britain's membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) – the euro's precursor – was a live issue in the Labour party, Brittan spoke at a meeting of the party's backbench economic affairs committee, and advised my colleagues to "put Bryan Gould on a slow boat to China" while the party changed its policy in favour of supporting ERM membership.

Since Keynes is now once again all the rage, Brittan might quote the great man's famous response: "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do sir?" The problem here is that it is not the facts that have changed; it is the minds that were wrong. The arguments against a common currency across such a wide and diverse set of individual economies were as strong in 1988 as they apparently have now become.

The essence of the case for the euro (and of the EMS and the ERM before it) was always a political one. A common currency can only work and make sense if the whole economy is subject to one central monetary policy which must supplant other elements, such as a national fiscal policy, that would ordinarily constitute macro-economic policy. In a democracy, a power of this kind could only be properly exercised by a democratically accountable government. The unstated conviction of the proponents of a single European superstate was that this logic would mean that a common currency would inexorably lead to the creation of a single European government to provide at least the illusion of democratic control over what would otherwise be government by central bank.

The economic consequences of such an arrangement pointed to the same outcome. The improbability of the whole of such a diverse economy being appropriately served by a single monetary policy was so great that it could only be contemplated if a sort of Faustian bargain were struck by the participants.

The powerful advanced economies would inevitably dominate monetary policy which would be framed to suit their interests; and that would mean that weaker economies would have great difficulty in living with it. In the absence of the ability to deploy an independent fiscal policy or to devalue, their only recourse would be to deflate and accept unemployment. They could be persuaded to accept this only if the stronger countries would implicitly undertake to treat them as – in effect – social security claimants and recipients of regional aid, and that could be made palatable to the taxpayers of the richer countries only if they could be induced to see those in poorer countries as fellow-citizens.

That bargain has now – as evidenced by the difficulties that Greece and their euro-partners are facing and failing to resolve – broken down. The Greeks, having long struggled with an inappropriate monetary policy, are finding the required deflation extremely painful; while the Germans have reneged on their implicit undertaking to maintain the integrity of the euro by bailing out countries that find the going tough.

The collapse of that bargain may well signal the end of the eurozone. But it should also sound an alarm. We ignore the importance of a broader-based, democratically accountable, properly focused macroeconomic policy at our peril.

The economic interests of a wider European economy – to say nothing of small matters like a functioning democracy – will be best served, not by a forced but failed attempt at convergence through a single monetary policy, but by country-sized governments deploying all the instruments of macro policy to suit the needs and interests of the economies for which they are responsible. The European dimension should rest mainly on a high and growing level of co-ordination of policy and functional cooperation among separate and well-performing economies which see their future as developing together.

Keynesian macroeconomics and a scepticism about forcing the pace on creating a single European state and economy should be seen as going hand-in-hand. As we now know, a failure to learn the lessons threatens recession and drags down all parts of an artificially constructed single economy. Hopefully, that has now become clear; and it might have served us well if it had been recognised in 1994.

A Serious Error of Judgment, A Sort of Blindness

There was a serious error of judgment, a sort of blindness, when we didn't foresee the genocidal dimensions of the government," he told reporters at a news conference with Kagame.

Errors of assessment and political mistakes were made here, and they led to absolutely tragic consequences.

So opines Nicolas Sarkozy , of the G8 and the UN Security Council, bodies admittedly disgraced even further in recent years by the presence variously of Bill Clinton, George W Bush and Tony Blair.

There were two genocides in Rwanda. “Genocide” is a slipperier concept than you might think. In 1993, the former Bolivian President, García Meza Tejada, was convicted of “genocide” for the deaths of fully eight people. Those may or may not have been the only people whom he killed. But they were the only victims of his “genocide”.

And so to Rwanda. Or, rather, to what is to be our model in these matters, a kangaroo court in Tanzania, set up by a UN Security Council resolution with no authority to do so, and specifically empowered - again, on no proper authority whatever - to try only members of the former, devoutly Catholic regime, and not of that which overthrew it, namely a direct extension, by means of a Ugandan invasion of Rwanda in 1990, of the only-too-successful Maoist insurrection in Uganda. Thank God that no one is now to be sent from this country, historic refuge of the oppressed, to appear before that kangaroo court.

Théoneste Bagosora was finally convicted (well, of course he was – this sort of thing never, ever acquits anyone) eighteen months after the prosecution’s final submission, and fully twelve years after his arrest, even though his trial had started almost immediately. That was entirely typical, as is the use of European and American activists as “expert witnesses” even though they witnessed absolutely nothing and were in fact thousands of miles away at the time alleged. As is the heavy reliance on anonymous prosecution witnesses (even though it is in fact six defence witnesses before this “Tribunal” who have been murdered soon after giving evidence), universally known to be paid liars.

As is the routine holding of session in camera. As is the admission of hearsay evidence. As are the rulings that no corroboration is necessary to convict a man of rape even he has pleaded not guilty, and that it matters not one jot if a prosecution witness’s written statement differs markedly from his testimony in court. As is the astonishing principle that a prosecution witness’s inconsistencies are proof of trauma, and therefore of the guilt of the accused. And as are the farcical translation problems.

The remit of this “Tribunal” is frankly racist, providing only for the trial of Hutus, the overwhelmingly predominant ethnic group, for crimes against Tutsis, the historically royal and aristocratic minority. Crimes by Hutus against Tutsis undoubtedly happened. But so did crimes by Tutsis against Hutus. Neither Maoist guerrillas nor embittered, dispossessed aristocrats are characteristically restrained in these matters.

No one knows how many people were killed, often with machetes. The usual figure cited is eight hundred thousand. Perhaps that is correct, perhaps it is not. But what is undoubtedly the case is that not all the perpetrators were Hutus, although many were. What is undoubtedly the case is that not all the victims were Tutsis, although many were. What is undoubtedly the case is that no Tutsi has ever been tried, because none can be: that whole people has been declared innocent in advance, and another whole people declared guilty in advance.

What is undoubtedly the case is that an invasion of a sovereign state by a larger neighbour at exactly the same time as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait has been backed up to the hilt by the West in general and the United States in particular, so that the Americans are now where first the Germans and then the Belgians once were: running Rwanda through a tiny clique drawn exclusively from the Tutsi minority.

And what is undoubtedly the case is that that clique is Maoist, whereas the majority-derived government that it overthrew was headed by a daily communicant, Jean Kambanda, whom it subsequently tortured into confession while illegally detaining him, and whom it denied the lawyer of his choice.

The world is finally beginning to wake up to what really happened in Rwanda. Not a moment too soon. But when will Britain, where we now propose to try one Rwandan genocide but not the other, even though neither of them was perpetrated either on our soil or against our (then) citizens?

And now this. Sarkozy simply has to go.

Let The People Speak

Froma Harrop writes:

Have you voted on any of the Democratic health-care-reform plans? Me neither.

No such vote was ever taken. But with coordination that the Rockettes would envy, Republicans insist that "the American people have spoken" on the matter, and they want the proposals killed.

House Republican Leader John Boehner: "The American people have spoken, loudly and clearly: They do not want Washington Democrats' government takeover of health care."

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell: "The American people do not want this bill to pass."

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele: "The American people have spoken. The White House hasn't heard their message."

Quite a coincidence, these guys saying the same thing on the same day. No matter. What they're saying is nonsense.

All politicians try, but Republicans excel, at creating a fantasy public always marching behind their baton. What the GOP leaders lack in veracity, they make up for in confidence.

They base their public mind-reading on polls showing displeasure with the Democrats' reform legislation (or what the public thinks is in it). They ignore polls that don't.

Some Americans are unhappy with the lack of a public option in the Senate bill, others with its inclusion in the House version. Many already have their government-guaranteed health coverage and don't want to share.

Almost everyone detests the "Cornhusker kickback," a special deal arranged by Nebraska's Democratic senator, Ben Nelson.

And how does one count strong opinions by those who don't have the foggiest idea what's really in the bills — but who are taking their talking orders from partisan yakkers?

It's worth noting that President Obama's proposal, based on the Senate bill, does not include a public option. It eliminates the Cornhusker kickback. It eases up on the controversial tax on so-called Cadillac health plans. And in an appeal to older voters, it does away with the Medicare drug benefit's "doughnut hole."

The public option has been the most demagogued item in the entire health-care debate — not because it's a bad, or even radical, idea but because the deep-pocketed insurance industry opposes it. Republicans have been portraying it, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private options, as a socialist Satan intent on destroying the American Way. The public option has been burning at their stake for so long, it's a wonder there's even an ash left of support for it.

But a recent Newsweek poll has 50 percent of Americans still favoring a public option and 48 percent opposed. That the administration refused to strenuously defend a cost-saving device that always enjoyed widespread backing is something I'll never understand (and may never forgive). Nonetheless, health-care reform must pass, with or without the public option.

The last time "the American people" came close to officially speaking on this subject was in November 2008, when they elected a Democratic president and expanded the Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate.

It's mind-boggling that any sophisticated analyst would attribute Republican Scott Brown's surprise victory in the Massachusetts special senatorial election to public rejection of government-guaranteed health care. As a Massachusetts state senator, Brown voted for a universal coverage plan that's a lot less conservative than what's on deck in Washington.

The Newsweek poll also asked for feelings about the job that Obama and Republicans and Democrats in Congress were doing on health care reform. Some 52 percent disapproved of Obama's performance, 61 percent disapproved of the congressional Democrats', and 63 percent disapproved of the congressional Republicans'.

No one is walking away from this with an Academy Award, but what's coming out of Republican leaders' mouths clearly isn't what's coming out of the American people's. The people will speak definitively on Nov. 2.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Every Liddle Helps

I am delighted to announce that Rod Liddle, Associate Editor of The Spectator and a columnist on The Sunday Times, and formerly Editor of Radio Four's flagship Today programme, has graciously agreed to become a Patron of my Independent candidacy for the parliamentary seat of North West Durham.

Rod has strong local family connections and, while he and I do not necessarily agree on every issue, we are at one that we cannot deliver the welfare provisions and the other public services that our people have rightly come to expect unless we know how many people there are in this country, unless we control immigration properly, and unless we insist that everyone use spoken and written English to the necessary level. We are at one in refusing to allow climate change to be used as an excuse to destroy or prevent secure employment, to drive down wages or working conditions, to arrest economic development around the world, to forbid the working classes and non-white people from having children, to inflate the fuel prices that always hit the poor hardest, or to restrict either travel opportunities or a full diet to the rich. We are at one in seeking to give a voice to the socially and culturally conservative, strongly patriotic tendencies within the British Left's traditional electoral base. And we are at one in opposing the neoconservative war agenda abroad and its assaults on liberty at home.

We look forward to welcoming Rod on the stump here as the General Election approaches. In the meantime, we urgently need people who are here permanently and who will campaign, sign nomination papers, know where the vote is, and get that vote out. Furthermore, we are in most pressing need of cash. For those of you who prefer absolute privacy, there is a PayPal button on this blog.

Remember, all that we need to be is the first past the post. Rod, from the perspective of the big league national media, thinks that we can do it. So, let's do it.

Hacked Off

Where does a political journalist go once he has been exposed as a liar by everyone from the Prime Minister down? Abroad, presumably. But where would take him?

Poor Rawnsley. His big story didn't last half a week. And he himself won't last the other half. Doesn't it make your heart bleed?

Assistance Required

Care Not Killing reports:

The Care Not Killing Alliance has welcomed the changes made by the DPP in finalised guidelines published today.

Lord Carlile QC, Chairman of CNK, said:

“The DPP was given an impossible task by the law lords following their decision in the Purdy case last summer. His interim guidelines carried very significant risks and we are very glad that he has clearly listened carefully to the many concerns expressed. These revised guidelines greatly reduce the risk of undermining existing law. Our main concern was that the interim guidelines singled out as a group those who were disabled or ill, thereby affording them less protection than other people under the law. We are very glad this has been removed. In other respects as well, these guidelines are a real improvement. They stress that the law has not changed, that no-one has immunity from prosecution, and that a prosecution will normally follow unless there are clear and compelling public interest factors to the contrary. There are still some flaws and problems which will need attention, such as how a compassionate suspects motives are to be determined in practice.

The test of these guidelines will be their application in practice. We will of course be following the handling of such cases with interest.”

But John Smeaton cautions:

New guidelines published today by Keir Starmer (pictured), the director of public prosecutions (DPP) blunt the law against assisted suicide.

Paul Tully of SPUC Pro-Life, which was officially represented before the courts in the Debbie Purdy case, told the media this morning:
"It is not credible for Keir Starmer to claim that he has not relaxed prosecuting policy on assisted suicide. The new policy effectively decriminalises assisted suicide in a wide range of circumstances.

"Assisting suicide is wrong in itself, not merely because there may be coercion or ulterior motives involved. The intentional killing of the innocent is always wrong.

"Mr Starmer has said today: 'The case of Purdy did not change the law, nor does this Policy, and suggestions to the contrary are simply wrong.' Mr Starmer cannot make this true just by saying it. He must demonstrate his determination to bring prosecutions that euthanasia-sympathisers in the media will dislike. Such prosecutions will be used to generate vitriol against him by the euthanasia lobby in the BBC and other media and in the judiciary. We saw this in the recent case of Lynn Gilderdale and Mr Justice Bean.

"The focus on motivation (why the suspect assisted a suicide) rather than intention (the suspect's deliberate will to assist the suicide) is a radical departure from the rule of law. The 'victim’s wish to die' is the most significant factor now in the guidelines. It undermines the law, and is the main concession that the euthanasia lobby was seeking. It makes assisted suicide very different from other serious crimes against the person, where consent to becoming a victim is not accepted either as a defence in court or as a factor against prosecution.

"The fact that references to disability have been eliminated will be something of a relief to disabled people and their families, and this eliminates one of the anomalies between this offence-specific code and the general code for Crown Prosecutors. However, the disabled and chronically ill remain the most likely victims of this weakening of the right to life."

My Country

The United Kingdom is my country, and no one has the right to take it away from me.

There is no precedent for a referendum on secession, to which devolution does not compare.

The continued existence of the state is a matter for the whole state. And there is no state in the United Kingdom except the United Kingdom. That is a fact.

Who is to vote in this proposed referendum in Scotland? Everyone on the electoral register? Which one? For local, European and Holyrood elections, any resident EU citizen can be registered. Are they to have a vote on the continued existence of my country? While I have no vote?

Not that it is ever going to happen. The SNP is finished for at least a generation, on course to come third behind the Tories this year. Its level is indicated by its faffing about with something like this under the current economic circumstances.

Mutual Feeling

The public stake in RBS, as in HBOS, is now permanent, non-negotiable safeguard of the Union, as public ownership has always been. But apart from that, all the banks should be turned into mutual building societies, ironclad as such by statute.

Naming The Price

To Argentina, anything up to fifty per cent of Falklands oil revenue, in perpetuity. In return for a complete and permanent renunciation of any claim to sovereignty. Galling, on both sides. But nobody would die.

As for America's attitude, what did you expect? This is not about Obama. This is about America, simply doing what America does.

The Axis of Evil

Abdulmalik Rigi, the captured leader of Jundullah, was en route to a meeting about the setting up of a British and American-backed base as near as possible to Afghanistan's border with Iran. As in Bosnia, as in Kosovo, as in Chechnya, as in Xinjiang, and as for all practical purposes in Iraq, nothing could be further from the truth than that neoconservatism, still running the State Department in the person of one of the Saudis' favourite hired help, is in any sense opposed to the most viciously violent manifestations of the most hardline reactions within Sunnism.

The Chilcot Cover-Up

In The American Conservative, Rod Liddle writes:

There is a grave anxiety that gnaws away at Sir John Chilcot as he daily conducts his inquiry into the war in Iraq. By 11 o’clock each morning, as some former Foreign Office mandarin is dissembling about weapons of mass destruction or the legality of the invasion, you can see Sir John beginning to look troubled. A little after midday, this has developed into a rumbling and a mild panic. Soon enough, he will interrupt the evidence and inquire politely, but with some urgency, if perhaps now might be the right time to break for lunch? Or, he will add, in a spirit of democracy but with a slightly crestfallen expression, should we wait until 1 o’clock?

Lunch is an important part of the Chilcot Inquiry, Britain’s third sort-of inquest into the events that led up to the invasion of Iraq. This one has been convened because the present Labour administration, under Gordon Brown, wishes to decouple itself from the gravest failure of the previous Labour administration, under Tony Blair. Or at least I assume that’s the idea. Anyway, over the course of several interminable months all of the British people who had anything to do with the war will be paraded before the inquiry and asked stuff.

I don’t think you Americans would quite believe the Chilcot Inquiry unless you saw it. Even then you might be fooled into thinking it is a production of a hitherto unknown early Terrence Rattigan play, one of those anti-dramas where titled, well-mannered people who attended Eton behave with exquisite politeness toward titled, well-mannered people who attended Harrow. It is a snapshot of Britain that could have been taken with a pinhole camera in 1896. If nothing else, it is at least a salutary reminder that no matter how modern Britain pretends to be, it is not really so. Not at the top.

The counterargument is that at least we are prepared to investigate this farrago, to ask the salient questions. Well, indeed—although that depends upon what you mean by “investigate” and “salient.” We have already had two inquiries into the Iraq War—the Butler Inquiry and the Hutton Inquiry—both of which largely exonerated the government, at least partly as a consequence of the extremely narrow remits that were set down at the start of each process. Now we have a third that, according to Chilcot, is “not a trial,” is not designed to establish guilt or innocence or to apportion blame, but is instead an amiable ramble around the houses before a spot of lunch at the Garrick Club. Thus there has been an almost total absence of forensic inquiry and follow-up questions. Witnesses say things that clearly conflict with things they were saying during the run-up to war, but they are never asked to reconcile these contradictions.

Please forgive the skepticism, or even cynicism, but public inquiries chaired by amenable establishment judges and consisting of amenable establishment figures have been a mainstay of the British system for a century or so, and they have never poked a finger of blame at the government. This may, of course, be because over the last 100 years the British government has at all times behaved with the utmost probity, honesty, and decency. Certainly this is the line taken by government ministers over Hutton and Butler: You see, we told you so. It’s just that you people are determined to vilify the government and are not prepared to accept the official decision.
Inquiries of this kind only ever work when they are held 30 or 40 years later, and everybody who might be implicated by them is dead. If we held an inquiry into Suez right now it is entirely possible that the chairman would find that Britain may just have overstepped the mark a little with regard to Egypt, but benefit of hindsight, past is a different country, not much we can do about it now, etc.

Let’s take a look at the people doing the inquiring. There’s Sir John Chilcot in the chair, a former civil servant attached to the security services who has been accused of “spoon-feeding” easy questions to the witnesses and has told them that they need not answer questions they consider inappropriate. Then there’s the eminent historian Sir Martin Gilbert, who was four-square behind the invasion of Iraq from day one and has already served on the Butler Inquiry, which cleared the government of misleading the public and the House of Commons. Then we have Professor Sir Lawrence Freedman, who wrote some of Tony Blair’s foreign-policy speeches, including the one our former prime minister made in Chicago where he outlined the criteria by which civilized countries like Britain and the U.S. might wage war against Third World Islamic hellholes. Are you beginning to get a flavor of this thing? There’s the former diplomat Sir Roderic Lyne, who, in his genteel way, has asked the most penetrating questions so far. And Baroness Usha Prashar, who is presumably on the panel because she is a nice middle-class Asian lady who has done many nice things in her life but has so far not asked a single question of pertinence or point. These are the people charged with the task of discovering the truth.

From the witnesses—mainly civil servants but with a sprinkling of charismatic guests such as Blair, his spin doctor Alastair Campbell, and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw—we have heard the same stuff we heard in the Butler Inquiry.

We know that even in the autumn of 2002, Iraq was considered less of a threat to the West than Libya and Iran. We have heard again how Blair pledged to stand beside the U.S. in its dealings with Iraq as early as spring 2002, and from that moment on we were headed to war, with or without the United Nations’ approval. It has been reiterated that the September dossier, which detailed Iraq’s threat to the West, was not merely based upon flawed intelligence, but was “sexed up” in order to provide a compelling case for the public—and the House of Commons and the cabinet—to take military action. We have heard once again that in the last month or two before the invasion, the British government received persuasive intelligence reports that Iraq had no program for weapons of mass destruction, posed no threat, had no official links with any Islamic terrorist organizations, and was beginning to comply with the UN weapons inspectors.

In short, we have had confirmed what we knew all along: Britain, via a short conversation between our prime minister and President George W. Bush, committed itself to doing pretty much whatever the U.S. wanted to do about Iraq. As this criterion for an invasion might not prove sufficiently alluring to the public or to Parliament, Blair and his close lieutenants flammed up Iraq’s military threat in a manner that deceived all of our major institutions. A nuclear program? Nope. A program of WMD that was “beyond all reasonable doubt”? Nope. An ability to strike at British targets within 45 minutes? Don’t be so bloody stupid. This much we knew already, but the cavalier approach to those nonexistent weapons of mass destruction continues to thrill the layman. We discovered, early on in the inquiry, that Iraq’s possession of chemical weapons was not predicated upon it having, uh, chemical weapons. As one sage put it, as a country with a vibrant petro-chemical industry, Iraq had the ability to create chemical weapons pretty quickly and had no need to stockpile them. As it also possessed ballistic missiles—a means of delivery of those hypothetical chemical weapons—then de facto, it had chemical weapons. Even if it didn’t.

Only Brits get a chance to take part in this production. There will be no Bush or Rumsfeld or Cheney. More pertinently, no Hans Blix.

The spin from the major players—the cabinet, Blair, Campbell—continues unabated. They say, in the most reasonable of terms: listen, we made a decision to invade Iraq. That may have been the wrong decision, and we can have a valuable and rewarding debate about that. But come on, do not suggest that we lied or acted under anything other than good faith.

The complete reverse of the argument is the truth. It may well be that invading Iraq was, in the long term, the right thing to do—although I would disagree, and so would many others over here. But it is beyond dispute that the government dissembled, it exaggerated, it distorted. It misled the British Parliament and the British people. Its reasons for invading Iraq were simply not those that it stated at the time. Instead of commissioning intelligence reports to ascertain the nature of Iraq’s threat to either the West or to neighboring Arab countries, it made up its mind and twisted the intelligence to suit that conclusion. This was pretty clear shortly after the invasion, and it is even clearer now. But don’t expect our Chilcot Inquiry to conclude such a thing. It is not there to apportion blame.

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Darling Won't Be Moving Over

I know that we are related, but I have never met him, and I am as critical as anyone of the takeover of the Labour Party by people with such unrecanted backgrounds as, in his case, the International Marxist Group. But for all the jokes about his reward for 30 years of ironing Gordon Brown's shirts and polishing his shoes, there are only three people who have been in the Cabinet continuously since 1997. One is Brown himself. Another is Jack Straw, also no mean master of the darker political arts. And the third is Alistair Darling. Add in that he was right all along about the recession. All in all, not a man either to write off or to underestimate.

Libertad o Muerte

Her Majesty's Realms of Belize and Jamaica are members of the Rio Group, as is Guyana, which also has very close historic ties to Britain. If any one or more of them has recognised some Argentine claim to the Falkland Islands, then we have only ourselves to blame for favouring American hegemony and its pet project, the EU, over the Commonwealth.

Our engagement with the Americas should be as an American state, in that sense, six times over, since the Falkland Islands, Bermuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and the Turks & Caicos Islands are each and all British by choice, whatever the United States or anyone else might think. Two more American states, Dominica and Trinidad & Tobago, retain the right of appeal to a body drawn from the High Court of Parliament at Westminster, and lucky them, since we no longer have any such right here. (Engagement with Africa should also be as an African state in right of Saint Helena and Her Dependencies, while Mauritius retains that right of appeal.)

Why would anyone expect any American President to side with the imperial power, as such, against which his republic defined itself, never mind in such a way as would scupper trade deals with his near abroad, possibly cause Hispanics to riot in the streets, certainly damage him in the eyes of what is now that massive voting bloc (which it wasn't in 1982), and cause him to be branded "Benedict Arnold" by neoconservative enemies of "the Anglophile network" for both Irish-American and Zionist reasons, including those close to a Secretary of State who still covets his job? The neocons' attitude was perfectly encapsulated and expressed by one of their great heroines, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, the last time round. Paleocons and others who would not wish to identify with Kirkpatrick and her admirers should consider their own position accordingly, even if we are talking about the land of the Redcoats.

Meanwhile, where this dispute is concerned, which way will Uruguay jump? Belgium is sometimes said to have been set up by the British in order to annoy the French, which would endear her to those most loudly cheering Farage tonight if they knew anything. But Uruguay really was created by Britain specifically not to be Argentina. Those on the Falklands requiring serious medical attention are taken to Montevideo to this day. Ongoing developments are strongly redolent of Peronist and kindred tendencies. Greater Argentina doesn't just mean no more British Falkland Islands. Greater Argentina also means no more Uruguay.

And such a movement across the continent means no more Queen of Belize, because it means no more Belize, only Greater Guatemala.

Take Back The Power

From the Campaign for Public Ownership:

According to the new report from the energy regulator Ofgem, Britain’s privatised energy suppliers are making more than £100 out of every customer by refusing to cut bills during the record freeze.

They are now making an average profit of more than £105 a year from every dual-fuel customer.

The wholesale price of gas fell by around 60 per cent between 2008 and 2009. But suppliers chose not to cut customer tariffs before the winter - meaning a profit bonanza of £846 million a month.

The Campaign for Public Ownership believes that the only long-term solution to the problem of energy company profiteering is to restore the energy companies to public ownership.

The problem lies in the ownership structure of the energy companies. All of them are Public Limited Companies, whose overriding aim is to maximise profits for shareholders. That's what PLCs do. Instead of reacting with horror to the entirely predictable news that PLCs are putting the interests of shareholders before Britain's long-suffering energy consumers, we should instead be calling for the government to take the one step that will lead to lower energy prices in the long term. Restoring the energy companies to public ownership will mean that prices can be lowered, as there will be no shareholder dividends to pay.

Furthermore, public ownership is British ownership, it safeguards the Union, and its means of defending both the sovereignty and the integrity of this nation frequently even had the word "British" in their names.

Moreover, remember that wildly inflated fuel prices, falling particularly hard on the poor (including very many of the old), are being enforced as part of the war against secure and skilled employment, against the paternal authority thus possessed of the necessary economic basis, against global economic development, against travel by us common people, and against our access to the meat that we are designed to eat.

Certainly Not "A Non-Country"

I fully expect, and on balance rather hope, that Nigel Farage will be returned at Buckingham. But didn't we once fight a war at least ostensibly to defend Belgium, historically our principal ally and trading partner on the Continent, an entity not unlike our own United Kingdom, even headed by a monarch of the House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and with a social democracy based on Christian principles?

Don't Mess With Big Gordon

At PMQs, the only person trying to keep "Bullygate" going was some unknown backbencher whose question had clearly been planted earlier in the week. The whole thing is as dead as Andrew Rawnsley's career or Christine Pratt's "charity".

But then, think of everyone, and what an awful lot of them there were, who was touted in the Blair years as a potential obstacle to Brown's ascent. Where are they now? Most of them are not even standing this year, and none will ever again be a Minister.

The Tories are reduced to trying to blame Brown for prehistoric briefing against Alistair Darling by Damian McBride, whom Brown appears to have known only by his surname. Hundreds of people work in Downing Street, and they all think that they are best mates with the Prime Minister. But they are not.

All this, and Brown is against assisted suicide, too.


Like the extremely anticlerical ruling element in the Irish Republic, the extremely anti-British, not unrelated ruling element in Australia needs to be asked: what proportion or percentage of all the children involved are we talking about? What proportion or percentage does that leave? But that two-sided question must never be asked. For the Church must be banished from any public role in Ireland, just as all ties between Australia and Britain must be cut. By absolutely any means whatever.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Mersey Beat

Liverpool and its environs are very much like us in the North East, among other places such as Wales, the West Country, East Anglia and more: usually invisible to those who make economic, social, cultural and political decisions. But this year, Liverpool has the chance to be noticed in a major way. By re-electing Bob Wareing. By electing Ricky Tomlinson, or at least giving him enough votes to keep out Luciana Berger. And, as of today, by ensuring a worthy successor to the great man, Peter Kilfoyle.

Brooke Not

If BBC Four's depiction of Heather Brooke is even halfway accurate, then it confirms every suspicion about one of those (for some reason, usually female) Americans in Britain who just cannot believe that things in Britain are not exactly as they are in America, or at least as they imagine things to be in what is in fact their highly secretive, hugely corrupt, intensely bureaucratic, profoundly oligarchic, dynastic and caste-based country.

Yes, MPs' expenses needed and need cleaning up. But not by the likes of that. Any more than our undoubtedly deficient and defective libel law should be reformed merely because there are American legislators, journalists and others who just cannot believe that anywhere on earth dares to have any sort of law different from that in the United States.

The poster of Woodward and Bernstein was a nice touch. But then, Watergate would not be a story these days, and in many ways it is a wonder that it was much of a story even at the time. Most people, on both sides of the Atlantic, would simply assume that this sort of thing went on, on both sides of the Atlantic. Didn't they then? If not, why not?

School's Out

Congratulations to the Government on unveiling what Michael Gove's One And Only Tory Policy would look like in the most unlikely event that it ever reached the stage of being presented to Parliament as a Bill.

"Grammar schools"? Did someone say "grammar schools"? No, of course not. That, including in the form of the excellent Secondary Moderns that would thus be restored, would be to the benefit of exactly the sort of people whose presence alongside the offspring of upper-middle-class metropolitan hysterics has caused those hysterics to force this unseemly bidding war.

Sledgehammer Nuts

Mass arrests in Turkey of those planning to set off bombs in busy mosques, and to shoot down a Turkish fighter jet over the Aegean in order to blame Greece, both so that the Army, newly restored to popularity, could stage one of its customary coups and restore secular ultra-nationalism in place of the present Islamism.

Yes, those are the options: secular ultra-nationalism in the form of military rule, or Islamism. Such is Turkey, our dear brother in NATO, to which Robert Gates has been haranguing Europe for failing to be sufficiently committed, 19 years after it stopped serving any good purpose and started serving many very bad ones.

And such is Turkey, putatively our dear brother in the EU, at which point we should be subject to the legislative will of the secular ultra-nationalist militarists, of the Islamists, and the Marxist terrorists of Kurdish separatism.

Stupak 2016?

First his glorious Amendment, and now Toyota.

Is it too early for Stupak 2016?

The Ron Paul Revolution?

Ron Paul's victory in the CPAC straw poll should be seen alongside the decline in attendees' identification of pro-life and pro-family issues as priorities. Paul himself understands that big war is big government, so that you cannot define yourself against the latter unless you have the wit to oppose the former. He is pro-life, but, as explicitly with the traditional definition of marriage, he seems to see abortion as a matter purely for the states. He is, frankly, soft on drugs. The split between conservatives and libertarians has been a long time coming. A serious bid by Paul in 2012 may very well bring it about.

On Commission

All five Electoral Complaints Commissioners to be appointed by the man who stole the last Presidential Election.

Remember, our boys died for this. And are still dying for this.

"Dangerous To Children"

If the Sex Education peddled in county schools is not very manifestly that, then what is? Of course, the whole point of it is to encourage children into sexual activity with each other and with adults. It is grooming, but at public expense and of a captive audience. Mass abortion and the ravages of the clap, or worse, are regarded as prices worth paying by children for perverted adult indulgence.

By all means teach civil partnerships, a bare legal fact. They do not need to be consummated, so encourage pupils to discuss why they are restricted to unrelated same-sex couples. That should be a fairly short discussion, since there is no good reason for that restriction.

And teach Natural Family Planning. The idea that NFP "does not work" seems to be widely viewed as on par with the idea that exercise is good for you: a statement of the obvious. But in fact, not only does even the slightest thought demonstrate that, properly practised, NFP must be effective, but its very high reliability, greater than that of any artificial means, is duly admitted even by the World Health Organisation, which is hardly a Vatican puppet, to say the very least.

The problem that NFP's detractors have with it is not that it is ineffective but that it can only be used effectively by a faithful married couple. A couple, moreover, who run next to no risk of divorce, which is as good as unheard of among NFP users, something that certainly cannot be said simply of Catholics (which not all NFP users are), or even of Catholics with strong views on divorce. This is so far removed from the detractors' own experience that they are intellectually and emotionally unable to cope with it.

Or is it just that women must poison themselves in order to be available constantly for the sexual gratification of men? That is right down there in the depths of misogyny with the suggestion that the preborn child is simultaneously part of a woman's body (indeed, of her very reproductive system) and insentient.

It's Not Racist

The white working class is more likely to intermarry than any other group in Britain apart from Afro-Caribbeans. Half of children in Britain with an Afro-Caribbean parent have a white parent, usually a white working-class parent. No wonder that the white working class hardly voted for the BNP in the days when anyone did, i.e., before that party gave up the only reason why anyone ever did.

Past Labour Governments took action to arrest the importation of a new working class whose members understood no English except commands, knew nothing about workers’ rights in this country, could be deported if they stepped out of line, and, since they had no affinity with any particular locality here, could be moved around at will.

Past Labour Governments took action against the enforced bilingualism or multilingualism that transfers economic, social, cultural and political power to a bilingual or multilingual élite, to the exclusion of the English-speaking working class, black and white.

And the No2EU – Yes To Democracy list at the 2009 European Elections, completely ignored by the BNP-obsessed media, was headed both in the East Midlands and in Yorkshire and the Humber by leaders of the Lindsey oil refinery workers.

How do we vote for such candidates at this and subsequent General Elections? Certainly not by voting for almost any Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat candidate. Make alternative arrangements.

U and Non-U

The UUP seems to be filling the void left by the DUP, as the Unionist critic of the undemocratically enforced coalition in which it might participate, but has little clout. One would rather see the UUP than, say, the TUV fulfilling this very necessary role.

In fact, the UUP is not a million miles from the Parliamentary Labour Party that voted against the partition of the United Kingdom. From the Attlee Government’s first ever acceptance of the principle of consent with regard to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. From the Wilson Government’s deployment of British troops to protect Northern Ireland’s grateful Catholics precisely as British subjects. And from the Callaghan Government’s administration of Northern Ireland exactly as if it were any other part of the United Kingdom. Indeed, two UUP MPs voted to save the Callaghan Government (both the fact that they did so and the reason why are important) when both Irish Nationalists abstained.

The last integrationist MP to date elected specifically as such was the Labour-minded Robert McCartney, now a full-time campaigner for the grammar schools, another grand Old Labour cause against Thatcher. The British State is of continuing importance in protecting Northern Ireland’s Catholic interest against Protestant domination, whether under devolution pursuant to the Good Friday Agreement, or within such federal Irish structures as may ever be acceptable to a Dublin Establishment at once profoundly unconcerned about Northern Ireland’s Catholics and profoundly influenced by the theory of two nations with an equal right to self-determination.

And the Welfare State, workers’ rights, full employment, a strong Parliament, trade unions, co-operatives, credit unions, mutual guarantee societies, mutual building societies, and nationalised industries, often with the word “British” in their names, were historically successful in creating communities of interest between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, thus safeguarding and strengthening the Union.

How do we vote for such parliamentarians at this and subsequent General Elections? Certainly not by voting for almost any Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat candidate. Make alternative arrangements.

Back To School

Catholic schools stand on the brink. The Tories offer them no hope, and the Lib Dems have been committed to their abolition for as long as that party, as such, has existed.

Yet it was Labour MPs who defended Catholic schools, and thus all church-based state schools, over several successive decades. National leaders of the Social Democrats recently supported Christian religious instruction in the schools of Berlin. Early Labour activists who resisted schemes to abort, contracept and sterilise the working class out of existence.

Catholic and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, fought tooth and nail against abortion and easier divorce, not least including both Thatcher’s introduction of abortion up to birth and Major’s introduction of divorce legally easier than release from a car hire contract. Methodist and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, fought tooth and nail against deregulated drinking and gambling. There were those, including John Smith, successfully organised (especially through USDAW) against Thatcher’s and Major’s attempts to destroy the special character of Sunday and of Christmas Day, delivering the only Commons defeat of Thatcher’s Premiership.

The trade unions’ fought numerous battles to secure paternal authority in families and communities by securing its economic base in high-waged, high-skilled, high-status male employment. Trade union banners depicted Biblical scenes and characters. There is an abiding concern that any new or reformed second chamber continue to include powerful guardians of moral and spiritual values in general, and of our Christian heritage in particular.

How do we vote for such parliamentarians today? Certainly not, with extremely rare exceptions this time, by voting Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat, never mind for the very anti-Catholic separatist party in Scotland or for the secular fundamentalists of Plaid Cymru. Do not vote for any of them. Make alternative arrangements.

The Real World At One

For all her faults, Auntie knows a non-story when she sees one. Only in the closing seconds of The World At One, and then only in terms of Phil Woolas and his reference to "this Pratt of a woman", was there any mention of "Bullygate". Quite right, too.

"Sleaze" was the wrong issue in 1997, and either that or this is the wrong issue in 2010. But we cannot have a General Election campaign based on policy differences, because there aren't any.

Neither Justice Nor Peace

Is the message finally starting to get through about the Northern Ireland "Peace Process"? Will it ever?


On the Falkland Islands, we'd get nothing from the EU as such, nor from most of the members individually. What's it to them, after all?

However, the French provided invaluable intelligence support last time and would certainly back us up in some way again, possibly of a more public kind this time, which is not to say that their support was not important last time. Only they really understand the relationship that we have with our Overseas Territories.

And Portugal was faithful to our oldest alliance in 1982 when it came to the use of the Azores; no doubt that would apply again.

But we can forget about America. It would be worth seeing this thing go to the Security Council, for the spectacle of certainly France, and possibly also Russia and China, backing us up while America either abstained or voted for the other side. Even then, though, would some people over here get the message?

Why shouldn't the Falklands be British a thousand years from now? The period of decolonisation is a thing of the past. The ties that still exist today are for ever.

One Nation, Indeed

I am all for giving subjects of Her Majesty's other Realms and Territories at least the same rights of entrance to and residence in this country as are afforded to EU citizens. But I wonder what Pauline Hanson would make of such a provision, extending as it would to the people of Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, Papua New Guinea, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Solomon Islands, and Tuvalu.

Not to say to those of the three inhabited Pacific territories voluntarily dependent on Australia, the one inhabited Pacific territory voluntarily dependent on New Zealand, and the two Pacific states in free association with New Zealand. As well as at least to that Melanesian half of the people of Fiji whose Great Council of Chiefs, which elects the President, continues to acknowledge the Queen as Paramount Chief even though Fiji became a republic following two coups in 1987 (and has not exactly had a happy history since), so that Her Majesty is still depicted on the currency and on the stamps.

And then, of course, there are the British Overseas Territories.

These are the ties that Mrs Hanson, and her new friends in what little remains of the BNP, have in mind. Aren't they? After all, no others really exist.

''We Have Raised A Great And Beautiful City"

The pro-life advertisements in black areas of Atlanta, correctly describing the black child as an endangered species, are a wonderful sign of hope. In the womb, on the streets and on the battlefield, America's black male, in particular, is now the victim of a three-pronged genocide.

Thank God for a President who has endorsed the Pregnant Women Support Act, and who has promised not to sign any Healthcare Bill which did not include both the public option and the principle embodied in the Stupak Amendment, which taken together will make abortion practically impossible to obtain.

And thank God for a President who is ending the war in Iraq. Now, to end the war in Afghanistan. And to preclude other such misadventures by removing the Lurleen Wallace de nos jours from the State Department.

The Dream of Unity

As the BBC calls the scheme for an alternative to the Organisation of American States, "free" not only of American, but also of Commonwealth, influence. That same BBC, in the course of the same reports, now talks about "Las Malvinas". Who will take up the baton of Jim Callaghan and Michael Foot against this pernicious tendency?

The Argentinians, of course, understand perfectly well that they could not have invaded the Falkland Islands without American approval in 1982 and that they could not do so today. Manifestly, they received that approval then. Who is to say that they would not receive it now? Ending British influence in the Americas is the permanent foreign policy aim of the United States, and is therefore a key motivation behind the OAS.

But the debate is now wide open. So, let it be joined in terms of the 10 sovereign states in the Americas that freely choose to be headed by the same person, who also heads a further six states of their free volition, one of which, with seven entirely voluntary Overseas Territories in the Americas, can also claim to be an American State in that sense. Another two voluntarily retain the right of appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, among other very close social and cultural ties to Britain also shared by at least one more again. Such are the foundations of real, abiding alliances.

The dream of unity, indeed.

The Slippery Slope

Hilary Armstrong was quite right to warn against "the slippery slope towards the separation of powers".

So don't vote for Cameron's plan to abolish the monarchy, the standing contradiction of, and permanent bulwark against, that ruinous theory.

Monday 22 February 2010

"Dissident" Republicans

Britain created Fianna Fáil to hang them.

They were hanged.

Britain now bankrolls Sinn Féin to shoot them.

Sicut Patribus Sit Deus Nobis

Including Ted Kennedy.

Scott Brown was one of five Senate Republicans to vote for the Democrats' Jobs Bill. It would take a heart of stone not to laugh.

But try to contain yourself. You need all your guffawing for when Brown's party nominates as its Presidential candidate the man who ran for the Senate from Kennedy's left and who gave Massachusetts socialised healthcare with Kennedy's support. After all, even he is more of a "fiscal conservative" than anyone else on offer.

Anyone else on offer, that is, who did not and does not have the sense to see that "fiscal conservatism" is incompatible with warmongering.

Cameron Weaker Than Kinnock

Tories only six points ahead, on a mere thirty-seven per cent, far too little to win.

Shadow Cabinet tomorrow, scheduled to last two hours. Could be double that, at least.

Kinnock went into the 1992 Election nine points ahead. Cameron is in a weaker position than that.

Happy Birthday, Mr President

The Western Confucian writes:

The Founder's birthday is a good time to re-read this important document — George Washington's Farewell Address. Congress reads it every year, and then goes about to ignore its sage advice. An excerpt:

31 Observe good faith and justice towards all Nations; cultivate peace and harmony with all. Religion and Morality enjoin this conduct; and can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be worthy of a free, enlightened, and, at no distant period, a great Nation, to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who can doubt, that, in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be, that Providence has not connected the permanent felicity of a Nation with its Virtue? The experiment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices ?

32 In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential, than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular Nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The Nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the Government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The Government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of Nations has been the victim.

33 So likewise, a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

34 As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attachments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and independent Patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with domestic factions, to practise the arts of seduction, to mislead public opinion, to influence or awe the Public Councils! Such an attachment of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful nation, dooms the former to be the satellite of the latter.

35 Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens,) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake; since history and experience prove, that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of Republican Government. But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots, who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

36 The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop.

37 Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities.

38 Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient government, the period is not far off, when we may defy material injury from external annoyance; when we may take such an attitude as will cause the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel.

39 Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?

40 It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

41 Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.

42 Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of commerce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with powers so disposed, in order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our merchants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.