Friday, May 31, 2002

Let’s blame Brussels – for a change



Both Natalie Solent and Patrick Crozier take me to task for being beastly to the Belgians. Blaming Europe for the break up of railtrack is not on, as no-one ordered us to do it that way it was our own stupidity (and perhaps desire to maximise the sale price by aiming different bits at different sectors).

However my standard for blaming the European Union is to ask – if we weren’t in it would we still have done it? If the answer is probably not then I blame Brussels. The standard employed by Mrs Solent and Mr Crozier is obviously a higher one.

As Iain Murray points out, we did split train and track because of the European Union:

91/440 initially only required separated accounting regimes, but it was obvious they weren't going to stop there, and the directive was amended to require separate entities, but not until 1999. It could be argued that we gilded the lilly (or stinkweed), but we were definitely following the spirit, if not the letter, of the directive as it stood in 1992.

Would we have done it differently. We can never tell, but previous privatisation practice shows that although we liked to split up monopolies we never went so obsessively about doing it as with Rail Track.

And about David Beckham’s foot, isn’t it amazing where the malign influence EU gets to these days?

Daddy Peaceblogs?



Is Steve Chapman going soft?

There's some kind of weird moral slippage going on here, whereby just because it was right to oust the Taleban it's now right to oust anyone and everyone.)

Strange times

Blame Europe for everything brigade



Who can Tom be talking about when he mentions "the blame Europe for everything brigade". Strictly its "blame the European Union for everything brigade". And here's something else to get worried about, although it is not the EU that is to blame here.

I have never blamed Europe for the weather, or the fact that my home computer is now officially extinct (be prepared for thinner posting by the way). But if I find a way I'll be honour bound to blame them for it.

Sign up. Sign up.

Invade France



Paul Gottfried is not writing about webloggers, but he may as well be. Asking why do the "neo-cons" hate the rest of the world.

On a related point Andrew Dodge has an interesting piece on the source of anti-semitism in France. Of the web logs I read this is the only one that has actually stated (apart from airstrip one, of course) that it is Muslim immigrants and not indigenous Frenchmen who are doing this. Do the other web loggers not know (admittedly it's not exactly well covered in the media)? Or do they simply think that it is not relevant?

Top marks to the Dodge.
Thursday, May 30, 2002

91/440 or bust. Or both.



Natalie Solent (who thinks I’m an amoral sweetie-pie) asks whether the current mess on the seperation of train and track has anything to do with the European Commission. Well, Natalie, yes it does.

I will point to the wonderful Christina Speight, who writes:

Sometimes one despairs at getting the simplest facts about the EU across even to those who write about it! For instance take the Sunday Telegraph of 22 October where, in writing about the Hatfield rail crash, the journalists write on page 24 "Perhaps the industry should now ... revert to the pre-1948 model of ... regional private sector rail companies owning their own trains, tracks and stations and controlling their own destinies". All very logical one might well think ... even common sense, BUT (with the EU there’s always a "BUT") on page 18 of the same issue Christopher Booker says "I must once again (draw) attention to the Railway Regulation 1992, the instrument responsible for setting up Railtrack. This clearly states that it was issued under the European Communities Act to bring Britain into compliance with EC Directive 91/440, laying down that track ownership must be separated from that of operating companies. The fact that the Government never explained this at the time, even to the then British Rail Board (one of whose members, Simon Jenkins, once told me that they all thought it was just some daft idea of the Treasury’s) should not stop us from putting the blame for this particular idiocy fairly where it is due" [Could Mr Booker take a short walk of 6 pages to tell his fellow journalists? ..ED] {Sunday Telegraph 22/10/00}

(Unfortunately this column does not appear on the Telegraph site)

And we can then go to the source The Railways Regulations 1992 :

In section 2 (1) it says:

The purpose of these Regulations is to provide for the implementation of Council Directive 91/440/EEC of 29th July 1991 on the development of the Community's railways

So there you have it Natalie, it is true.

Not only are they ruining the NHS, but they are ruining the railways. The time to leave is now.
Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Oiling the future



Jeremy Sapienza points out a story showing that there may be vastly more oil than we thought. Which would mean that any Iraqi/Iranian/Saudi domination of the Middle East would be a temporary blip (which would hold true any way if you took the free market seriously).

This means that we Brits should concentrate on making oil expensive while we can still export the stuff. Yet another reason to get out of Arabia.

Another day, another deployment



Tony Blair told us we won, so it is with some surprise that I have to point to yet another deployment of British troops in Afghanistan, going under the name of Operation Buzzard.

It only involves 300 troops, but it seems awfully close to the Pakistan border at at time of fairly high tension.

Minister for whose Transport?



Iain Gray is a fairly new minister for Transport, but he's not the same minister for transport as Alistair Darling, which is a shame.

You see Mr Gray runs transport up in Scotland, where by a massive coincidence Mr Darling has his constituency (Edinburgh Central). Mr Darling just runs our transport.

So shouldn't Mr Darling's title just be changed to proconsul?

Penny for the Byers



So why did Liar Byers hit the dust? Well he suggests that it was the City wot did it. And so it was. Byers was detested in the City because of his attempt to take over the Railtrack business without either compensation or a primary act of Parliament. In other words Byers had attempted theft.

Now the City were in the end compensated, almost to the full value of their holdings. Although this quieted the City’s fury towards the Government, they still had Byers in their sites as they wanted to make an example of him pour encourager les autres. The message they wanted to get across to any wannabe confiscatory minister was, only at the risk of your political life.

So why did Blair get rid of Byers after holding on to him for so long? Well it has to do with the Euro. Byers is very pro-Euro. As far as Blair sees it Byers is a trusted pro-European and not an opportunist like Peter Hain, and so was worth keeping to fight the Brownite tide. And then Brown started saying that perhaps the Euro wasn’t so bad after all.

So Blair started pushing forward a Euro referendum and has suddenly found an unexpected cooling amongst previously solid allies. Business is not too keen on the Euro all of a sudden, even the CBI says its 'not convinced', and without business support Blair has no chance. And what would please business more?

Bye bye Byers.

Please Lord, don't make us Swiss



Some response from Christopher Montgomery on my disagreement with him. I think that this deserves to be put on the main web log, and not kept relegated to the comments section.

My problem with British foreign policy is our permanent state of tutelage to the Americans. This is not a fact, but a state of mind. Therefore to alter it, you have to alter the mental landscape of those involved in British foreign policy.

To desist from this practice - being a voluntary US protectorate - we can, of course, try the 'Switzerland' route, and opt out of having a foreign policy. Not only do I not think that this is in our best interests, I also think that it won't work. In other words, it is precisely fear of being reduced [sic] to the state being Swiss that prompts our foreign policy elite to solve the problem by adhering to superpower patrons.

To successfully entrench our independce, we have to convince our rulers that it is feasible; this, it seems to me, is best achieved by building alliances to throw off our cousins. It also, further, seems to me to be a debt we have to pay to others, to help them throw off the US too, as they came freely to our aid when we needed them.
Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Search me



You can now go and look through my archives with Google. Please have a look.

It begins with a K



So there's this territory and it has a Muslim majority. It is controlled by a bigger, non-Muslim country which has some historic claim to it based upon what a king did, although the local population are not too keen on this. Some of the local population have turned to terrorism, and the terrorist groups have links with Islamic radicals across the world and in a neighbouring, smaller, Muslim country.

So will the West support the terrorists or the occupiers?

Depends whether the place is Kosovo or Kashmir.

Pro Europeans and child murderers



European Court of Human Rights moves a step closer to releasing Myra Hindley. For those of us who believe in the death penalty this will be good news (life can't mean life).

It should be noted that although the ECHR is not an institution of the European Union, it is the official court of the European Convention of Human Rights, to which all EU members have to sign up to.

Shades of Gray



John Gray has a stab at analysing the far right in the New Statesman.

I must admit he seems to do a better job than the "don't vote Nazi" crowd. A couple of things are disturbing from this refugee from neo-classical economics. Firstly he talks about "fascists" discovering Libertarian economics, in which case one wonders how they can meaningfully be called fascists.

He then goes on to describe Russia and China as being examples of market economies that have made no progress in other areas of human liberty. Does he seriously think that these two countries are as repressive, or more repressive, than the days of Mao and Stalin? Only a neo-conservative can believe something so absurd.

However the piece is worth suffering for, especially when he points out the anti-naitonalism of the inter-war Nazis.
Monday, May 27, 2002

Another reason to get our troops out



They've appointed Paddy Ashdown as the UN viceroy in Bosnia.

Burning Bush



For those of us who have this rosy view of the Bush White House being stuffed full of Eurosceptics, his recent speech in Berlin should give pause to thought:

When Europe grows in unity, Europe and America grow in security. When you integrate your markets and share a currency in the European Union, you are creating the conditions for security and common purpose. In all these steps, Americans do not see the rise of a rival, we see the end of old hostilities. We see the success of our allies, and we applaud your progress.

Happy Monday



My improvement at antiwar.com has come up with another, well, interesting article about India and Pakistan. He thinks its all America's fault.

He also lambasts the British elite for not standing up to India, and so roping in Pakistan as a pliant ally. What we need a pliant ally for in South Asia is beyond me, but these High Tory die hards are darn entertaining. Well worth reading.

One line that is especially good is when talking about the emptiness of "morality" when talking about the brutality of state power:

for we understand, whether Tories or libertarians, truths about states few liberals have an interest in admitting.

Now there are a lot of libertarians, High Tories and those who regard themselves as being on the right who are every bit as hopelessly moralistic on foreign policy as a New Labour ethical foreign policy. The principle holds good, though.

I've also been asked to write on Mr Montgomery's excellent start up site, Electronic Review. And here's the piece, it's on Conservative attitudes on withdrawal from the EU. Read it.
Sunday, May 26, 2002

Just Leave



UN rebukes Britain over smacking.

New Blog Alert



I would like to point you to this new web log, Implausible Deniability by Franklin Harris - a Lew Rockwell contributor. It's new, so I'm sure he'd appreciate a few hits.

A couple of other (more hawkish) new links, Alley Writer, War Now and Sterling Times.

My standards for linking are very lax, you permanently link to me, I'll link to you. It may help if you tell me.
Saturday, May 25, 2002

And we still wait



After all this waiting the first Turkish troops arrive. As we are running roughly five months late on the promised transfer of command (first it was the Germans - who realised that this was hardly France, then the Turks - after we paid the wonga) who's going to treat this latest missive seriously:

Turkey is expected to take over command of the ISAF before the end of June. The ISAF has guaranteed security in the Afghan capital since shortly after the fall of the fundamentalist Taliban late last year.

Yeah, right. And who will be supplying troops for both offensive and peacekeeping measures for years afterwards?

Forgotten Corner



Looks like our troops will have to stay over there:



The United Nations peace-keeping force in Sierra Leone should remain in place to ensure democracy becomes entrenched after this week's general election, a senior UN official said on Thursday.



Remember, it ain't a success until we're out. Although the Pakistanis seem to be scuttling.

Friday, May 24, 2002

Cheery news



A minimum of three million people would be killed and 1.5 million seriously injured if even a "limited" nuclear war broke out between India and Pakistan, warns a new study uncovered by New Scientist.

The folly of arms control



At the risk of dictating I heartily comend Brendan O'Neil's piece "Why shouldn’t third world states have nuclear bombs?"

I personally believe that arms control is a dead duck, and that we should concentrate on means of defence (anyone say star wars?).

Also check out his piece on why the Marines messed up.


An interesting point is that it is the first web log item (or web page that looks like a web log) that has been referenced on antiwar.com. Are we going to see more of this from refering web sites like antiwar.com or lewrockwell.com?

No Free Speech, we're Europeans



This should send a shiver up our spines. British media promotes Islamophobia, says EU. They what? Threre have been lies about Islam spread by our newspapers, but that usually involves claiming that a religion spread almost entirely by the force of arms is somehow "peaceful".

The Sun became almost unreadable by saying that as most Muslims were honourable and peaceful people that Islam was somehow not to blame for the violence that was associated with it. Just like student Marxists are often very well off, but that doesn't mean that socialism isn't to blame for the fall in living standards when its been implemented.

Well the report (a PDF is available here) blames all anti-Islamic incidents on media reporting. ThThese incidents included "In Oldham racist graffiti was dubbed on to the wall of a Mosque", graffiti in a Heathrow toilet saying "Muslim Skum" and a newsagent being called "Osama" by his suppliers.

The fact that 19 muslims hijacked a plane and killed 2500 may have had something to do with it. But no, it was Margaret Thatcher who criticised Muslim leaders for not saying that September 11 was "disgraceful". Well, wasn't it?

This part from the Telegraph says it best:

Even the BBC was reproached for calling Osama bin Laden an "Islamic fundamentalist" and an "Islamic terrorist", on the grounds that his acts were "un-Islamic".

So history is to be thrown overboard for the opportunistic interpretation of Islam, which sort of ignores the more bloodthirsty parts of the Koran.

The really worrying piece is that this is not from some sort of "worthy" pressure group, but from the European Union. Further European integration won't just mean innapropriate interest rates or identity cards, but muzzling the press as well.
Thursday, May 23, 2002

So why did they do it?



Two takes on the Sinn Fein success in Ireland. The Spectator says that there is resentment at the fact that Ireland, despite the economic good times, still has fundamental problems. Magill's says that it is the community politics among those forgotten in the boom, which the far right specialise in within the rest of Europe.

New Toy



The Google news search, may not be perfect but it is a powerful tool when looking for information on Kashmir, the Sangatte refugee camp, Oliver Letwin or anything. Go play.

Victory over the French



Who said that Le Pen was an unmitigated horror?

The French have for the last few years been taking part in a campaign to shoe-horn us into the Schengen treaty. The what treaty?

Well, its basically a treaty that aims for a "borderless Europe". Not in the sense that any ordinary person would understand it, with the simple lifting of border controls between the countries concerned, but a large and intrusive structure that "harmonises" policies on subjects such as illegal immigration and ID cards.

At a time when the European project is showing no signs of moving forward in the UK on the monetary front, Britain's accesion to a "borderless Europe" would stop the car stalling.

So what were the French doing? Well they opened a refugee camp with the specific aim of clothing and feeding obviously bogus assylum seekers (if they were running for their life they would have stopped in France) attracted by the perception of a generous welfare system.

The French government were quite blatant about this. They would keep this going until we signed up to Schenegen. Their way of relieving the pressure would be to build another camp.

Enter Le Pen. His campaign, with strong anti-immigration overtones, struck big in formerly left leaning Calais, who were sick of the problems from the camp. Suddenly the French government sees maintaining European credentials secondary to taking the wind out of an anti-establishment party. Sangatte gets closed.

Of course we may take in 1000 or so illegal assylum seekers, but its over. There's no need to sign Schengen, and this perfidious attempt at blackmail has failed.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Intervention and Kashmir



Surely you can't keep out of Kashmir? Don't you know they've both got nukes?

Two rhetorical questions we are bound to hear more of over the next few days/weeks.

But isn't the problem, at least partly, one of intervention?

You see on paper Pakistan doesn't stand a chance. It's north western flank now has an India friendly government (thanks to who?) and the army is less than India's one million troops. Even a nuclear exchange would have more effect on densely populated Pakistan than on its larger neighbour (as one Indian minister chillingly pointed out).

So why does Pakistan think it has a chance? They want the world to make India "see sense". And after all America owes Pakistan big time, bombing of Pakistan would have been several degrees harder without the safe passage through Pakistan. And does one really want to think what the Islamic paranoiacs will make of western support for India?

Would they have seen sense earlier if they were on their own against their stronger neighbour? Perhaps not, although isn't it funny how other countries with border disputes can live in peace for years.

So that's why we should never have got to where we are now, but should we intervene further?

One for the comments box.

Kashmir source



If you want to follow Kashmir, you can get your daily fix here.

UPDATE: Tom Fox got there before me.

The Hague Farce



Let's ignore India, Pakistan, Kashmir and nukes for the moment. This is funny.
Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Different strokes



Once again I must thank Iain Murray for pointing out this thought provoking article in the Washington Post.

Basically its a justified moan about how Europe (1) dislikes America and (2) thinks that military preparation is for other people.

He (Jeffrey Gedmin and not Iain Murray) concludes:

But the old alliance holds little promise of figuring prominently in U.S. global strategic thinking. That's why the administration's tactical doctrine, namely for the mission to define the coalition, makes sense. Sure, we still need allies for the long haul. The Eastern Europeans like us. The Turks and Israelis grasp the threat and spend for defense. The Brits do too -- and can help enormously if they guard their independence from Brussels in years to come. If the old alliance is gone, it's time to start building something new.

Now the slant could be a good one for the Anglosphere types. Europe = weak and sickly, America = strong and vibrant.

And yet, and yet, in this matter aren't we more with the Europeans? I'm not talking about the absolutely hopeless state of their armed forces or their dislike for America - but in our lack of global ambition.

We may be more like America than the Germany and France, but this does not make us Americans. America is a world power, and we to be blunt, are not. We may have been there, but we're not there now.

So this article is saying what should be obvious, America is a global power and its old allies are not. That means the old allies have different priorities. And that includes us. But sometimes the obvious things are the hardest to see.

Page not found



If this is happening to your web log, read this.

Incidentally...



Iain Murray puts me straight on my assertion that the gold standard was incidentally involved with foreign policy. It's all to do with the role of foreign banks and their inconvenient habits of collapsing, making investors nervous about Britain's banking system.

Doesn't convince me, as going down this road makes almost all large economic issues ones of foreign policy - the competitiveness of high tax economies is one example. Of course our economy is affected by foreign events, but economic management is not in itself a matter of foreign policy.

I doubt that this is an issue over which the Times will be quaking in their boots.

Jump or Push?



First they defend him, then they sack him and then they defend him again. And it seems that the Americans aren't too keen on him. So who's telling the truth?

It must be so reassuring for Blair that Gordon Brown is defending his neighbour over the Euro. I'd feel reassured, if I wasn't Blair.

Fisked



Here's an article that will appear on a number of weblogs commenting on the Robert Fisk "death threats". And here's an article that won't. Guess what they're in the same online magazine. There I go, dictating again.
Monday, May 20, 2002

Searching for meaning over the sea



This Irish election may seem puzzling and irrelevant, but according to the Eurosceptic National Platform it is seismic.

The most pro-Europe party, Fine Gael, has been humiliated while the two parties that best increased their votes were the Greens and Sinn Fein, the two parliamentary parties who opposed the Nice referendum.

Referendum Postponed?



Do you really think that they're going to hold a referendum any point soon? Even the new CBI boss is against it. If they can't get the bosses on board how in heaven's name do they think they can win this thing?

Gold News



I'm puzzled. Nothing new there.

Iain Murray points out an article in the Times:


The Liberals split over Ireland and imperialism in the 1880s with one faction, the Liberal Unionists, bolting the party. They split again over the prosecution of the First World War, with Lloyd George detaching himself from his colleagues. The Gold Standard prompted a Labour split in the 1930s, with Ramsay MacDonald going Awol. The political consequences of the Korean War cast Labour into opposition in the 1950s. Devaluation did for Harold Wilson in the 1960s. The proposed withdrawal from the then EC and the rise of CND led to the SDP in the 1980s.

In every case, it has been a foreign policy dispute (often ones with serious economic implications) that has torpedoed the Left in power.


How, other than incidentally, was the Gold Standard a foreign policy issue? Remember this was before Bretton Woods when we were expected to maintain our own currency and not rely on the Americans to maintain the link with gold.

Is this trying to fit an inconvenient fact into an otherwise watertight argument and hoping no one will notice, or is this another instance of the Times hiring the wrong fact checker?

No Downside?



My improvement on antiwar.com, Christopher Montgomery, has come up with another article, this time on immigration. His basic thesis is that immigration is good, has always been good and "has produced no downside whatsoever" (his emphasis).

The idea that a massive social change would produce "no downside whatsoever" is rather curious coming from a High Tory such as Monty. Perhaps this is the first action to defy Newtonian laws, will perpetual motion be next? Not to challenge his basic thesis that immigration is a simply wonderful thing (I may do that later, my views are far more nuanced) there are some downsides that I can think of which may conceivably be laid at the door of the immigration experiment:

1) The depression of low skilled wages in comparison to Japan or America (until the 1970s). What's wrong with low skilled workers actually earning more? Downside 1.

2) Crime. The inbalance in crime figures among ethnic groups is the sort of unofficial secret that our liberal dinner tables specialise in. And why would this be odd? After all if the sorts of people who migrate (full of initiative, ambitious and more intelligent than their brothers and sisters) are just the sort of people who start up small businesses - are they not the same profile that will get involved in, oh, organised crime? Of course crime would have gone up anyway since the 1940s, but I think it is fair to say that as (a) crime has gone up and (b) immigrants and their descendants provide criminals out of proportion to their proportion in the general population - then some of the increase in crime is down to immigration. Downside number 2.

3) Why have we been getting all these Muslim terrorists all of a sudden? Is there a mass conversion to Islam in the shires? At a lower, and thankfully less lethal, level the children and grandchildren of immigrants are less likely to identify with their new home, just look at the bumper stickers - Jamaican flags are not the sign of assimilation. Part of the answer is undoubtedly to educate the children in English history and provide a civic virtue to subscribe to. However this is still a downside of immigration.

This is not to say that immigration is wrong, just that it has negative effects. Immigration certainly has many good effects, but let's not pretend that there are no downsides.
Sunday, May 19, 2002

Spot the Trot



Gosh, a whole BBC online piece on Alan Milburn's early days that doesn't mention his membership of the purist Trotskyite (and pro IRA) International Marxist Group. This is despite mentioning his work in the Marxist bookshop Days of Hope and

This isn't the first time that the BBC have been coy about Mr Milburn's extremist past, or Stephen Byers and Alistair Darling's.

If any Conservative front bencher (apart from Ken Clark) had been so actively involved in a right wing equivalent like the National Front, what's the betting that the BBC would mention the fact whenever they mentioned his or her name.

Bias anyone?

Through the Mill



Knowing how you all seem to detest J S Mill (should I be encouraged by widespread detestation of a worthy but rather dry political philosopher) I thought that this article would please all you die hard anti-utilitarians out there. John Stuart Mill and Liberal Imperialism
Saturday, May 18, 2002

State Failure



This reasonably fair minded assesment of briefingate is worth reading:

Is there a point to spending $30 billion-plus dollars a year for a sweeping intelligence system -- and Congress is in the process of approving a multibillion dollar boost -- if that system cannot discern and efficiently handle the nuggets it does manage to obtain?

Perhaps 9-11 will not bequeath us big government after all.

Where's Osama?



And if he's dead, where's his body?

So that's why Oswald liked the idea



I get wary when I see the "EU=Fascism" equation bandied around. (One particular correspondant kept on making this analogy and one of his most recent e-mails lauded Le Pen, does this mean that he favour's the EU more than he used to?)

However, Iain Murray points to some disturbing Italian developments.
Friday, May 17, 2002

Sense in strange places



Someone else notices the BBC's racist slur, and condemn it. And it's the Guardian!

Conversely, the patronising dismissal, in some quarters, of Joao Varela, a possible future leader, as the LPF's "token black" indicates how the path to an equal, respectful, variegated society at peace with itself remains long and hard.

They don't point out that one of these quarters is the Beeb.

They also come out with some real sense on the "rise of the right":

The real problem lies not with these parties themselves but with the way in which they are allowed to hijack crucial but neglected issues that they then proceed to distort and exploit. If there is a message here for Europe as a whole, it is that mainstream politicians of left and right must plug in now, without delay, and humbly, to the corrosive questions of race, immigration, anti-semitism and social fairness in all its myriad aspects. This is hard work, too often shirked. It is not as exciting as fighting foreign wars or conjuring visions of Europe's future constitutional architecture. But to perpetuate the current failure to connect at ground level will be to court more near-misses as in the Netherlands, France and Austria and risk, somewhere, some place, sooner or later, a definitive, nightmare triumph for an extremist party dedicated to division.

Working class alienation is the real cause of the rise of the right, at least in France, the Netherlands and (on a smaller scale) Britain. The working class will need to be re-engaged with politics and the Libertarian right may be able to re-engage them if they recognise the souring role that the white-collar public sector has played here. Better than screaming "Don't Vote Nazi".

Allies do spy on each other



Israeli arts students or spies? I must admit that I've not kept up to date with this saga. But if they are spying on America, so what?

I don't mean that the American government shouldn't act to stop the Israelis, but what we shouldn't do is act shocked that the Israelis are trying to spy on an ally for whom they rely on their long term survival. If you were Israeli wouldn't you like to know what was going on?

Put another way, does anyone seriously think that there isn't a big American intelligence effort in Israel trying to find what those crazy Middle Easterners will do next? Do they think that Carville and the rest were sent out, twice, to help Barak fight Likud without the knowledge and approval of the American administration?

Or what about Britain? Is anyone seriously suggesting that there is no interest from American intelligence in our affairs?

What makes an ally is not the lack of espionage agents (that would not indicate an alliance but a vassal state) but temporary mutual interests.

What is very puzzling is the behaviour of the warbloggers. Do they really think that Israel is incapable of spying on America, and are they really confident that nothing will turn up? Jonathan Pollard should act as a reminder.
Thursday, May 16, 2002

Thank God for Instapundit



Last time I did this I touched a few raw nerves, as well as overestimating the emotional maturity of one or two bloggers. This means that the inconvenient news watch will just have to keep going.

There seems to be remarkably little comment from the hawkish British blogs I covered before on the American administration's foreknowledge of Al Qaeda's intentions.

Obviously this is not a deliberate policy to just ignore this news, but is it perhaps a sign that web logging is not the future for news reporting when it can be as selective in its collective reporting as the big media?

That being said, Glenn Reynolds is covering this and he probably gets more unique readers than all the British political web logs combined.

Convenient Fiction



Is the Economist really a free market publication. In this article they state "the world is slowly waking up to the dangers of allowing shipping to operate under the cloak offered by FOCs [Flags of Convenience]". So greater international government, more regulation and higher taxes for an industry that has largely moved out of government control and (surprise) not only become more prosperous but through containerisation done more to bring peoples together than any amount of UN resolutions.

In many areas of business, money laundering and tax evasion are two other "abuses" that governments are keen to crush, a globalising - and regulating - tendancy is slowly taking over. All those Libertarians and fellow travellers who cheer globalisation to the rafters in the name of the Anglosphere or exporting liberty may find that the world they've helped to create is far less free than the one they helped to destroy.

What will unite us?



In the Spectator Chris Patten says that we need to develop a European patriotism.

So what will tie us to Europe?

Obviously it can't be a shared history as there never has been a time since Christ walked the earth when one part of Europe has not been at the throat of another part. From the Germanic tribes and the Italian centurions (or the Greeks and Romans).

Democracy? In the continent that spawned Marxism and Fascism?

Language? Non.

Religion? After all many of the most enthusiastic integrators call themselves Christian Democrats. But after you get past Christianity what brand. Catholicism, which is the most obvious candidate, would meet fierce opposition even in virtually agnostic England - and that's before we get to places like Sweden, Greece or the Netherlands where the Catholic vs the rest thing actually meant something.

So what about some "can't we all just get along" ecumenism? I don't know but I think that some luke warm combination of kumbaya, wolly jumpers and guitars won't tear the people from their old nations. You need some raw emotion for that.

Geography? Again where's the emotion in that?

So what do we have left? Something that the vast majority of Europeans have in common but that has some raw emotional appeal. Like the colour of their skins.

You think that the European elites are too liberal and modern for this. Well if they don't pull something out of the hat then the people will leave them and the whole thing will collapse. And if it collapses so will their power and privelage.

Perhaps they don't want to rule any more, as elites in the past have also grow mysteriously tired. But if they do, do you think that they will put the interests of their darker skinned bretheren before the continued enjoyment of the perks of power? No, really?

Whose guns were they?



So those guns, were they Al Qaeda's or were they our ally's? Two posibilities, our ally is brazenly trying to pull off a dodgy insurance claim - what does that say about our choice of friends? Or intelligence led fighting could have meant that we listened to one Afghan warlord merely to weaken one of his allies. And again we look stupid.

Either way its a poor show.

And where's Osama?

Token?



Was I the only one who heard, Joao Valera, the leader of the Pim Fortuyn list described as a "token black MP" on the BBC's news last night at ten?

The man is a succesful businessman, temporary leader and was designated as the immigration minister. To say that his talents had nothing to do with his selection and his skin colour had everything is, well, racism. Racial smearing is a common tactic of the left when they confront members of ethnic minorities on the right.

Of course the BBC will get away with it. Racial abuse is fine if it comes from the left.
Wednesday, May 15, 2002

The Great Dictator



"I'm not keen on Emmanuel Goldstein's attempts to dictate the editorial directions of other blogs" claims Iain Murray. Dictate! I've never been accused of that before, even of shabbily attempting this. Of course, I'm sure that Iain would not view all dictation attempts as being equally foul.

Daddy Warblogs also took exception to this, claiming that I somehow stated that the Likud vote was responsible for years of Arab hatred of Israel. Err, no. I claimed bias, not time travel. After he gets over this (news ticker boy?) the analysis is actually quite readible.

Peter Briffa, manages to throw all his toys out of the pram. He pens a "satire" which probably sounded better when he got back from the pub than it does now, and didn't see fit to link to the offending piece for the benefit of his somewhat bewildered readers (he also took the site out of his permanent links). Not that this stopped him recommending the piece by e-mail to other bloggers mentioned.

So what was the point of this piece that generated such hysterical reactions from three intelligent men? Well it was not an attempt at dictation, the shorthand is not good enough. The point was that I was expecting some reaction on the Likud vote from some of the right wing bloggers so I looked at one and found nothing, then the next and nothing, even Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds. Now that's interesting, and to be honest more interesting than a couple of "Sharon's a moderate" comments. Not on an individual web log (I would be holding myself to a ridiculously high standard), but on nine current affairs web logs with a history of trenchant commenting on the Middle East, it just looks strange. To me at least.

So, no, its not evil to ignore the Likud vote - it's just biased. Bias motivates most web loggers (I didn't start this web log to put things across impartially). However as I said before ignoring instances of Israeli political stupidity will not make it go away. It is a mirror image of the mistakes that the left made with the ANC, and yes the Palestinians.

Take a chill pill.
Monday, May 13, 2002

Only 40 000?



Two interesting reports on the (by British standards) huge pro-Israel demonstration. One from the New Statesman points out that internal Israeli politics was being played here.

Christopher Montgomery, who was oddly at both demos, says that the Israeli demonstration was a tad smaller than a similar pro-Palestinian one two weeks back. This is not a sign, I must stress, of Britain's support or otherwise of Israel - just that there are more Muslims than Jews living in or near London.

News from the High Tory Uplands



My improvement at antiwar.com, Christopher Montgomery has put out another astounding column titled "Gibraltar: It’s Ours, and We’re Keeping It". I know the enigmatic title may give you some difficulty in guessing the subject matter or the stance he takes - but as always I recomend reading it.

Last week he did an article, "Living History", on British colonial practice and the week before he launched his jeers at the Eurosceptics with his trenchant Superduperstate.

One should also point out his up and coming e-journal Electronic Review, which reads like the Spectator as if they actually tried to write it well.

Fair's fair



Fred Pruit at Rantburg has told us what he thinks of the Likud vote and it aint much.

He also points to American Kaiser who used the S word.

Damien Penny, another blog where I will never appear on the links column, also doesn't like it.

War Now! comes out with the somewhat inevitable "Sharon's a moderate" line (which on this issue and in that company he actually is). Oh Bruce, James Carville ran Ehud Barak's campaign and not Netenyahu's.

This chap, Alley Writer, actually likes the vote.

Tal G in Jerusalem has a piece on the internal dynamics of it all, pointing out that when one of the two is in power the other is the "critic from the right". Sometimes it's not fair, the Tories were barely as tenth a demented over Europe and they are cast into outer darkness, Likud pull these stunts and get into power on the back of them.

Oxblog, a new web log which I will have to pay more attention to in due course, calls this a step backwards.

No response from the Brit Bloggers, although Natalie Solent reports on some campus demonstration getting nasty. So stupid left wing students at an American university deserve a mention, but not stupid right wing politicos.

What's your opinion on Liberia?



Don't have one? Get ye to the opinion factory, and quick.

Why? Rebels are advancing on the Liberian capital. These rebels (who go under the acronym LURD) are backed by ... Sierra Leone, the regime is kept in power by ... the British Army, who are paid with ... my taxes and yours.

I ask, as I've done before, what precisely is our interest in this area of the world?

Where Bias can lead



This web log doesn't cover the middle east, although British reaction to the area is well within its remit. However this latest vote by the Likud saying "never" to a Palestinian state (yes, I know, never doesn't quite mean the same thing in that part of the world as it means anywhere else) is notable for its absence of comment in the blogosphere.

This is notable for two reasons. Firstly its a serious slap in the face to the Americans, and the Administration is looking weaker and weaker. If you take the proposition seriously that the only thing that's stopping the world spinning off its orbit is the prestige of the West (alright America) then this is a serious blow. Not only is America snubbed, but its snubbed by the largest party in a state which arguably owes its existence to American largesse.

Secondly this makes the pro-Israeli side a lot harder to defend.

Think about what the alternatives are to some sort of Palestinian state:

1) Give it to Jordan. Probably the best shot, but Jordan doesn't want it and its hard to blame them for that. It would be easier for the Jordanian royal family to go into exile now rather than waiting for them to get chucked out. Anyway how would Trans-Jordan not become the defacto new Palestinian state, complete with six hour marches to Tel Aviv?

2) Keep it under millitary occupation for ever. Bit of a non starter unless they have the appetite for a permanent guerilla war.

3) Chuck out the A-rabs. Trust me, this will be impossible to defend if you don't want people asking about the colour of your shirt.

But does the blogosphere come out with anything on this? Not that I've seen, not even a piece to say "don't take this all too seriously" or "hey, Sharon's a moderate".

Andrew Sullivan says nothing on the Likud vote but that "More and more, Americans see Israel's struggle against the Palestinian terrorist insurgency as no different from our own struggle against al Qaeda. Sharon wins!" Not if his party continue like this he won't.

Instapundit. Nothing for the foreseeable future.

Rantburg is to be fair not doing today's blogging yet, but if he doesn't cover it then it will be a gross oversight.

Natalie Solent says nothing - not even a claim that this batty move "promotes moderation rather than the reverse".

Daddy Warblogs doesn't have a peep on this, although there's an unfortunately timed piece on why Israel has done nothing to start the troubles.

Peter Briffa. Nothing.

Iain Murray. Nothing.

Samizdata. Barren.

Andrew Dodge. Not a peep.

Freedom and Whisky. Nowt

This is a limited survey covering either the hawkish British bloggers or some of the better known other bloggers. But its indicative. Here we have Israel's largest party doing something which on the face of it is explosive and a slap in the face for the present administration. Ignoring it won't make it go away.
Sunday, May 12, 2002

Who is Pim?



An interesting and balanced attempt to analyse the European Far Right. And from the Guardian no less.

Foreign or Domestic?



Here's an interesting article on the interaction between Blair's Middle Eastern policy and internal Labour politics.

Back to Kosovo



Do you remember Tony Blair accusing the Taliban of having the world's largest hoard of heroin (even if it was in the same way that Customs have Britain's largest stash of every illegal drug)? Well there doesn't seem to be such a stash of skunk these days, the Afghans under our tutelage are too busy selling it.

Another one emerges



Sixth Briton held at Camp X-Ray. This one's actually from Zambia but holds a British passport and grew up in (surprise) North London. Zambia, as far as I'm aware, has a negligible Islamic presence.

What are we doing to breed them? Before we go fighting terrorism across the world, isn't it better to tend the beam in our own eye?
Saturday, May 11, 2002

Cosying up to the commies



An interesting, if old article about Blair and Leszek Miller. Who? The "post" communist premier of Poland:

My hunch is that they are all so pleased to have an enthusiastic pro-European running Poland that they aren’t really interested in what actually happens inside the country.

Precisely. And to be honest I see nothing wrong with that attitude. If Blair perceives expansion of the EU to the East as in our national interest, it is nothing to be ashamed of to care not a jot for the internal dynamics.

Of course a wider, or stronger, EU is not in our national interest. But we shouldn't condemn Blair for a rare show of realpolitik, but learn from him.

Did I read that right?



From an old article by Mark Steyn in the Spectator:

Saddam had nothing to do with 11 September; the House of Saud had everything to do with it.

Are you ready for Neo-Imperialism?



A thoughtful, if short, survey on neo-imperialism and the left from the New Statesman.

Nope, won't find it here

<

MSN Search puts me at number 9 for British takeovers in nigeria in the late 1800s.

I think that's kind of cool.
Friday, May 10, 2002

Still a menace



There's a lot of complacency about these days about the BNP and their "failure". This sobering analysis should put some of this straight. Caveat Lector - this analysis is from a far left group, although they have a far better track record of monitoring the far right than more well known left wing groups, or indeed the establishment.

On massacres



The treatment of the Palestinians and the treatment of the Bosnians have remarkable similarities. One group sees itself as the vanguard of Western civilisation and the other, weaker, group are radicalised Muslims with a curiously Westernised world view. You could also point out the blurring of civilian and military roles among the Muslims and the fine line between national protection and pogrom. Not to mention the constant talk of ethnic cleansing.

As you probably notice I see a lot of grey in both these situations, although I understand why those with perhaps less time or interest do not. What does fascinate me is why the switch of sympathy, at least in Britain and America.

Is it, as Jude Waninski speculates a matter of which PR firm you hire?

Is Arafat finished?



Robert Fisk seems to think so.

Paper of Record? Pah



Michael Gove has written a
piece on Pim's death. Not bad, but a couple of silly mistakes crept in:

promoting a non-white woman from the Cape Verde isles as his deputy

Joao Varela may be a cosmetics executive, but he's a bloke.

Fortuyn may have been the most striking face of Dutch populism but the movement from which he sprang has resources beyond his name. Leefbar (Liveable) Nederland is a populist alliance which has come from the fringes of politics, in the space of months, to threaten the country’s establishment. Even within Leefbar Nederland (LN) Fortuyn was a maverick, ploughing his own furrow in the ethnically charged port city of Rotterdam to secure 17 out of 45 seats in March’s local elections.

Too right he was a maverick. He was forced to leave the party, a fact which Michael Gove - if he was aware of it - does not impart. The party he stood for election for was the Lijst Pim Fortuyn and not Leefbar Nederland.

That being said, I've managed to make a few mistakes in my time, including spelling Mr Fortuyn's name with an e on the end - something which got a surprising number of hits. So if you suddenly notice me spelling proper names not quite correctly, you know I'm just trying to get some more hits - or being dyslexic for the day.

However all being said and done I'm not paid to get my facts straight, Michael Gove (or is it Michael Gov?) is.

Was Fortuyn a fascist?



Here is the Manifesto of Lijst Pim Fortuyn in English. Judge for yourself.

Out of mind, out of luck



‘High risk of Indo-Pak war’ according to the Hindustan Times. Of course everything in Pakistan is hunky-dory, and no cause for concern whatsoever.

Pot and Kettle



Mark Steel says that Pim Fortuyn was a racist and fascist because he described Islam as "sick and backward" (the quotes are Mr Steel's and not Mr Fortuyn's). I have a soft spot for Mr Steel since I saw a TV show on stand up comedy and his was the only footage that was actually funny. However, I think that this is a bit rich.

Isn't Mr Steel a member of the Socialist Workers Party, which is Marxist. Didn't ole Karl once say that religion was the "opiate of the people"? Now being dependent on an opiate, isn't that pretty much the definition of sick and backwards?

Mr Steel, I would hazard a guess, also thinks that Islam is sick and backwards. But he would also say the same about Christianity, Judaism and Hare Krishna. Or is he objecting to the idea that a religion who's idea of debate is whether to bury homosexuals alive or throw them off a tall building is somehow more backward than religions that hapily exist in a democratic culture?

Anyway as a Marxist (if one of the few intentionally funny ones) he would also know where this quote comes from:

The next world war will result in the disappearance from the face of the earth not only of reactionary classes and dynasties, but also of entire reactionary peoples. And that, too, is a step forward.

So all of us opiate dependents have been warned.

The future's tide



Bill Deedes has a thoughtful article in The Spectator on the future of immigration. If we're not careful this could be a big foreign (and not just law'n'order) policy issue for Britain in the next decade.

Immigration and Israel



This article about anti-semitism in France is interesting in its own right, but that's not why I'm posting it.

What interests me is where the anti-Semitism is coming from. Its not so much the indigenous population, something that much of the bloggosphere seems to be keen on, but specifically concentrated among immigrants, particularly (but not exclusively) Muslims.

I will miss out the obvious point about the dead Dutchman saying the same things as the New Statesman, immigration policy is not what this web log is about.

What are the consequances for Western, particularly British, foreign policy with the increasing numbers of Muslims - both immigrants and British born. Now the Muslim population is not up for grabs electorally in the same way that the Hindus or Sikhs are. But it is more organised than the Carribean community, and does not identify with Labour in the same way as they do. In other words they could come up for grabs, and part of their price will almost certainly be more of a pro-Palestinian foreign policy.

Who would have foreseen that when the cotton mills were desperate to fill the night shift?
Wednesday, May 08, 2002

The Indian Example



Name one group of countries that came together in one state without flying off into a civil war.

As far as I know the only country that has managed this is Australia (prior conquests don't count by the way, neither do peaceful dissolutions). There may be others but it bodes ill for the EU.

Name any one democracy that has survived as a democracy without a majority of its voters speaking the same language.

If the Europhiles cared, they'd say India. But they don't really care about this question, whether because they think Europe is magically "different" or because they aren't bothered about democracy (grave fallacy that - that you're chums will always be on top) I really don't know. Anyway for any Europhile who is worried about the democracy question, here's some worrying news from India.

Quote for the week



The ultimate purpose of our foreign policy must be to protect the liberty of the people of the United States

Senator Robert Taft

That's what Iain Duncan Smith believes as well. Problem is that he's forgotten that he's from the United Kingdom.

Are they related?



There's a disturbing link. Both Fortuyn and Andrew Sullivan are gay, right wing and socially liberal. It now appears that Fortuyn was a rather observant Catholic.

I ask you, have they ever appeared in the same room together? Is Pim really Mr Sullivan not wearing a wig and speaking in a stereotypical germanic wig. Is Andrew Sullivan's hair real.

The world demands an answer.

In defence of Bribery



The Economist has an article on bribery. Usual moralistic stuff, bribery's wrong, and governments ought to stop their firms bribing foreign companies and governments. In this case it is being backed, like so much other creeping socialisation of international business, by the OECD.

First a practical point. In many third world countries foreign countries are blocked out of the bidding simply because they are foreign. Contacts and family connections make sure that the contracts go to the well born. So what's the reaction to these connections? Buy them. In Marxist parlance it is replacing status (feudalism) with contract (capitalism). As perverse as it sounds bribery levels the playing field.

But off the coldly practical considerations. Did you know that in Swahili they use the same word (baksheesh) for bribes and for tips? And what is the difference?

To me the difference is that tipping is done with the knowledge and approval of the owner, a simple moral difference - but what if everyone knows and everyone accepts that to get by you need to give some baksheesh now and again. This may not be full approval, but it is a grey area. And this state of affairs is what goes on in most if not all third world countries, and quite a few areas of the first world as well.

And then there's the actual role of governments. If we define a bribe as an extra payment for a service rendered without the knowledge and approval of the owner of the service provider, then does this deserve a criminal sanction?

For the bribe taker (who is after all the more guilty party - as he is misappropriating resources for his financial gain) then this can surely be a disciplinary matter, and if it goes any further - a civil matter. A business that doesn't know what its employees are doing should not call on the taxpayer to bail it out. As for the bribe giver, if owners care about this they can simply bring out blacklists of bribe givers.

So how does this reflect on these laws? Well it simply is not much of our business what goes on in foreign government procurement.

If our firms are going to bribe foreign governments then let them take their risks. Foreign governments can discipline their corrupt officials, or even prosecute them. If they don't want to do this then it is up to their people to replace them. If their people find that government corruption is way down their list of priorities, then why should it be anywhere near the top of ours?

Of course the argument goes that as we give aid to the Third World then where the money goes concerns us. But that is not an argument for criminalising our businessmen, but for curtailing our aid. And there are plenty of arguments for that already.

The EU to use Rainbow flag



Young man, there's no need to feel down

According to the Independent the EU is to ditch the 12 pentagrams.

I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground

Instead they're going for a stripey flag representing "all the colours in Europe".

I said, young man, 'cause your in a new town
There's no need to be unhappy


So it will look sort of Rainbow, type.

Young man, there's a place you can go
I said, young man, when you're short on your dough


I may not be an expert on these things but hasn't a stripey multi-coloured flag been done before?

You can stay there, and I'm sure you will find
Many ways to have a good time.


Perhaps its a way to appeal to us Brits. Remember that a former Commissioner (when PM of France) claimed that a quarter of British men had, well, exquisite colour sense.

It's fun to stay in the E.&.M.U.

Assassins of Liberty



Justin Raimondo has a good piece on the far right in Europe. Although he is still far too nice about Le Pen (his links to the more authoritarian right precede and follow his Poujadiste period) he makes a good point about the EU's Soviet methods.

On a similar point, did anyone catch what Chris Patten said on the radio this morning? I may have been half asleep (well I was) but he seemed to have actually got some of the reasons why the far right are doing so well. It seemed to engage with them intelligently and was a far cry from the "don't vote Nazi" juvenallia that the establishment have subjected us poor voters to so far. He didn't seem to address working class alienation, but maybe someone will get there.

However, the fact that it was Fatty Pang who actually seemed to treat the voters as intelligent sentient beings shocked me. Luckily pro-Europeans like Patten by and large treat the voters as idiots on Europe and then wonder why they are so far behind in the opinion polls.
Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Book Alert



Ernest Bevin's biography is out from Politicos (run by Iain Dale). One of my minor heroes.

Loony Tunes



The Economist really can pick stupid fights, as this rather batty piece on how America should react in the Middle East - by making all the Arab countries into democracies. Doesn't that remind you of Ann Coulter's call to convert their people to Christianity?

If Arabs really want democracy they'll take it. It's none of our business to help or hinder them.

Good to see that they recognise that Iran is on the way to becoming a democracy.

Brave Prediction



According to this writer in the "market anarchist" site anti-state.com, Iraq has a good chance of beating America in the mother of all sequels. I think that's mad, but it's an article that may be worth reading. However one line I do agree with:

In the end, every empire, even Uncle Sam’s, must return again to the dust.

Who counts the votes?



An old article on election monitoring by Mark Almond.

Democracy? What Democracy



From the BBC:



In Brussels on Tuesday the chancellor will argue the case for Britain running a budget deficit to pay for improvements to public services.



Such a move is potentially in conflict with the EU's Stability and Growth pact, which dictates that countries must be "close to balance" or in surplus.



How dare they. The only economics the European Union excels at is that of bribery.


Dreadfully rude



I do follow Football, but I am not a hooligan. The same can not be said for the Sunday Telegraph's chief Football correspondant Patrick Barclay. After a short tirade by Sean Gabb who wondered why he was being censored in a radio debate, and this reply winged backed to him.



Mr Barclay can be reached at patrick.barclay@telegraph.co.uk and if it helps in your correspondance the man has a chip on his shoulder about his Scottishness.

Random thoughts on Fortuyn



There'll be more in depth



Unfortuynate moral



Jean Marie Le Pen was often vilified for having thugs surround him as his "bodyguard". Pim Fortuyn refused to have his own bodyguard, requesting police protection (which was refused). Le Pen's still alive.



Unfortuynate gaff



No matter what feelings political figures arouse, the ballot box is the place to express them A Blair



"No matter what feelings"? Hardly uncatagoric, is it?



Fortuynate Reporting



Why is Pim Fortuyne's policies reported to be right wing economically and left wing socially? How is social freedom in these times in any way a left wing cause - who wants to ban foxhunting and sack people for telling racist jokes?



Fortuyne favours the brave



According to the Guardian:



Mr Blair had been planning to hold an official bilateral meeting with the Dutch prime minister, Wim Kok, and then speak at a Dutch Labour party rally. Mr Blair still has a strong reputation in the Netherlands and was seen as a star turn in the campaign to push back Fortuyn's political support. His relatively unconventional style was thought to be useful in the fight against Fortuyn.



An "official" bilateral meeting before going to a political rally. Who's paying for the flight, etc? Is it entirely appropriate for us to pay for our Prime Minister to appear at a foreign election rally. Isn't that blatent interference in another country's politics?


Monday, May 06, 2002

Time to follow the American lead



US renounces court treaty:

The United States has withdrawn from a treaty to establish an International Criminal Court (ICC), provoking outrage from human rights organisations.

Where's Osama?



Oh dear. Me and my big mouth.

Security begins at home



A rather disturbing article on British complacency in the face of Muslim terrorism. Why are we so keen to root it out in places like Afghanistan where we have no conceivable strategic interest, while we are scared stiff of tightening immigration controls?

In the long, short and medium term what's most likely to stop the bomber coming through?
Dutch far-right leader 'shot dead'. And all he was going to do was pick up some votes in an election and upset the establishment.

The we're all right club



David Carr says he "hearty commend" my piece on working class alienation. Interestingly the analysis that Mr Carr and myself share is not that dissimilar to a certain far left group that Mr Carr dismissed as producing "semi-literate drivel". Never mind.

A tad more complacent is Jim Bennett, who claims it's all down to this lovely Anglosphere. "Rather than garner 15 percent of the national vote, the BNP took three local council seats of the nearly 6,000 at stake, not dissimilar to performances in other times."

Well no. The BNP has only ever won one council seat in the past, and that was in a bye-election with Labour collusion (they wanted to get the Liberal Democrats out of Tower Hamlets). They have now taken three seats, in the face of a concerted campaign and in a general election. It's small breakthroughs like this that got the Lib Dems started.

Iain Murray also comes up with a bit of a redundant suggestion, "I've always said that Tories should attack Nazis for being un-British and therefore un-patriotic."

Well, this has been what the Anti-Nazi League (look at the name, it's not the anti-radical nationalist league), Searchlight and the Labour Party have been trying for years. It simply ain't working.

Firstly the BNP strenuously tries to put on suits and put away the black shirts. They may not be completely succesful, but they will get more so as their "Euro nationalist" strategy continues apace.

Secondly many of the working class don't actually care about the BNP's views on whether the holocaust happened or whether the Jews control the media. To them this is all academic. What matters is how bad their schools are, how much crime there is on their estate and how their children won't be able to get a job or flat in the town they've grown up in.

The BNP address these issues. Now, they're wrong on their diagnosis and solutions, but they do address the working class despair that is being ignored by all the other parties - especially the Labour Party with its domination by the working class's enemies in the white collar public sector unions.

It is by addressing the root causes of the right - working class despair - rather than saying "Don't vote Nazi" (there's an original slogan) that the far right will be worsted.

The Conservative Party can beat the far right by addressing Labour's lost constituency, not by irrelevant name calling.
Sunday, May 05, 2002

If voting changed anything, they'd abolish it



That was the title of Ken Livingstone's autobiography before he became London Mayor. He thought he was making a clever-clever point, but it seems that he may have been on to something. In Bradford and Birmingham they are thinking of shelving plans for directly elected mayors because they may offer the British National Party a "platform", and in the Independent there are reports that the government will sue any BNP councillors who vote on racially charged issues. Excuse me, weren't the deluded burghers of Burnley voting for them to be racially charged?

The point is that you won't beat the far right by closing down votes or denying them a "platform". It totally ignores the reasons for their success.

A few years ago I found myself involved in a council housing case in an inner city area. A young, working, married couple had been living with the wives parents for eight years and the council were effectively refusing to find them a place. The wife and (I think) her parents had been born in the council's area and the overcrowding was affecting the father's health.

The next door two bed flat had been empty for some months, and was suddenly extensively repaired by a council work crew. To house the couple? No. To house a single Nigerian woman new to the country, who was paying her rent through social security payments rather than her wages.

Now to the great credit of the dwellers of this overcrowded flat no connection was made between the nationality of the next door neighbour and their plight, perhaps they'd thought that I'd be offended. However the general grumbles about favouring immigrants were never far from the surface.

This is one reason why the BNP have so much potential for growth. The perception is that immigrant communities are crowding out not just the jobs of the native working class (which also includes British-born blacks and Asians) but the homes and schools as well. It also shows a second reason for the growth of the BNP, but not so obvious. The working class may have DVD recorders and satelite TV, put it is still at the mercy of middle class bureaucrats when it comes to policing, housing and their children's education. Not only are many of their most basic necesities out of their hands, but the people who control these necesities despise them.

The working class are beginning feel that there is no one there to protect them. And they're right. Their old protectors in the Labour Party have become the political arm of white collar Public service workers - who are more of the working class's class enemy than the bosses ever were. The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are less institutionally biased against the working class than the Labour Party, but simply have spent too long in the Shires and the free market or civil liberty think tanks to learn how to address the Working Class. And as for the majority of the far left they are simply from the same constituency as the Labour Party, more concerned with teachers' perks than with ensuring a good education for working class kids.

So who's there to represent the working class? The far right have seen their niche, and they're going for it. It is for this reason, and not because of virulent white racism, that the BNP has been starting to find success.

Of course the Left's reaction will be to call for the far right to be no platformed and in private to decry the lack of revolutionary fiber in the working class. But in the end the BNP's their bastard offspring.
Friday, May 03, 2002

The Corndog



For any NRO Corner fans out there (both of you) you may find this take-off to be quite good. From Reason.

There's this great piece:

DO THEY CARE, TOO? [Andrew Stuttaford]
Rod, In your recent post on the possible selection of Mecca as a retaliatory target, you mention, quite correctly, that such step would leave "every Muslim on the planet enraged." Are similar concerns, I wonder, being expressed in the Islamic world? Are there any prominent Muslims calling for restraint in order to avoid "enraging" the West? I would like to think so.


Oops, sorry that's actually appeared in the NRO corner and is not a parody.
Thursday, May 02, 2002

Terrifyingly naive



Sacre Bleue. Hugo Young writes something sensible in the Guardian:

For Mr Blair is a driven intervener. He believes in that role for Britain, and defines the national interest more broadly than any leader since Gladstone. Mrs Thatcher's sense of the national interest confined it to the defence of Britain's shores and possessions. Mr Blair reaches beyond that, beyond our local continent, into the far blue yonder, anywhere the world might be made a better place by the benign intervention of a good, stable, rich and militarily capable country like Britain. Iraq is the place where this philosophy looks like next being tested.

While I don't necesarily agree with him on the Thatcher idea (how would he explain M'Lady Finchley's frankly batty pronouncements on Yugoslavia) or his ignorance of early Gladstonian anti-imperialism, he is right that this is a "terrifyingly naive" man. And he's running the country.
Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Conservatives for an Independent Britain - a proposal



The Conservative Party has reached a consensus on Europe, a healthy scepticism that stops short of contemplating withdrawal. Perhaps it's time to start contemplating.

The case for withdrawal is rarely made even with about a third of the population supporting it. This is a strange imbalance, and it is worrying for a number of reasons:

1) By taking out the whole range of options it unbalances debate. "Moderate" federalists like Gordon Brown can point to more extreme federalists like Tony Blair who in turn can point to the lunatic fringe Liberal Democrats. This makes the extreme and impractical Euro-federalism of Tony Blair look moderate, while Gordon Brown is seen as a Eurosceptic. The official position of the Conservative Party, meanwhile, is not seen as a via media between withdrawal and independence but as the outer limits of debate. Groups such as the European Foundation simply do not have room to breathe.

2) If the desire for withdrawal is not articulated within the mainstream, others will profit from doing so. As we have seen with the results from France, this is not something we should take lightly.

3) On a tactical level, the lack of a serious case for withdrawal could scupper any "No" campaign against the Euro. There are a number of scenarios being discussed to push the Euro through against the better judgement of the British people. One of these is to offer either withdrawal or Economic union. This presupposes that the Conservatives will not be able to face withdrawal and that the British people will be unfamiliar with the arguments. By organising now, this will not happen.

So what can we do about this? My proposal is to start a campaign within the Conservative Party which simply calls for withdrawal from European Union. At the moment the European debate has been shut down within the Conservative Party with the closure of groups such as Conservatives Against a Federal Europe and the Monday Club. It's time to reopen the debate.

With a masthead of a few influential grassroots activists, an energetic media campaign and a meeting at the next Conservative Party conference - a small group of people with a simple idea can have a disproportionate influence.

I am prepared to act as a clearing house for anyone interested in this venture (and prepared to quietly go into the night if nothing come of it). My e-mail address is isolationist_2000@yahoo.com , and confidentiality is assured.

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