Saturday, February 28, 2009
Marie-Antoinette never said 'Let them eat cake'.
President Obama's judgment seems to be questionable.
Although he might have expressed the sentiment with a little more finesse, you can't deny that Sheriff Richard Davidson had a point.
Ban The Tax Havens Now. No Representation Without Taxation!
Much recent reporting of migrant workers currently in the UK is reminiscent of 'The Grand Old Duke of York' -
'O The Grand Old Duke Of York
He had 10,000 men,
And when they had marched to the top of the hill
Then he marched them down again
And when they were only halfway up,
They were neither up nor down'.
One, a Polish woman named Aleksandra Lojek-Magdziarz who projects an insufferable public image in 'The Guardian', has been marched down the hill and straight into the Job Centre. She should not fear - Tony Miranda might be hiring. She might even get a reference from Neal Ascherson.
A small story of multicultural Watford. Elton John should compose a song...
The European Union seems to be promoting - protectionism! AARRGGHHH!!!!
In other outbreaks of economic millenarianism, it's been reported that '(f)ailure to save East Europe will lead to worldwide meltdown'. Or not, as the case may be.
Shona Robison, aka The Fag Hag, has her sights set on banning cigarette machines. If she succeeds in her goal, then presumably these items could be recycled for use in the storage of sensitive NHS data.
Alan Keyes on Obama. Wonderful, wonderful stuff; as are the very important questions being asked of the president in respect of his intentions regarding The School Of The Americas.
Archbishop Charles Chaput appears to have been studying the life of Becket.
Foreign criminal stuff - Norilda Ortiz (while Guevara went to Bolivia to die, she got out as far as Stranraer).
A bit of wishful thinking going on here, perhaps.
The Conservatives are shoulder to shoulder with the government in their support for The Pillage Of The Post Office. For a party which apparently celebrates the rights of the individual, its members consistently display a remarkable capacity for ideological uniformity. After all, it was they who privatised the railways.
The best comment on the whole Post Office thing has come from John Harris. The pillage only seems justifiable under the economics of 'The Magic Roundabout'. The only way to save the banks is to nationalise them - the only way to save the Post Office is to privatise it. Royal Bank pensioners walk away with full boots - Post Office pensioners get threatened with pension cuts.
At some point, as he tries to address these contradictions, I expect steam to start emanating from Lord Mandelson's ears.
Europe's leaders are apparently 'missing'. But not all of them - Barroso has recently insulted Putin in the Kremlin, in true 'Watermelon Man' style.
The offshore oil industry's labour market may soon be becoming less 'flexible'.
And students of the life of Louis XIV should remember his deathbed regret - that he made war too lightly.
Lastly, students of events where the imposition of ideology has had a negative impact upon the institution that the ideology was supposed to improve are directed to Lord Gill's broadside in the case of Woodside - v - Her Majesty's Advocate. Paragraphs 66 to 80 are particularly good.
Welcome home, my brother. That you will now probably never be invited to blog on 'Comment is Free' is nothing compared to what might await you in Heaven.
The absurdity of conflating evolutionary status with financial success is best illustrated by the statement that 'Davos Man' is 'the most highly evolved mammal on the planet'. It seems to have been coined by Michael Gove, a politician who to this jaundiced eye has 'at school, was an unpopular boy who spent his playtimes inside reading 'The Lord of the Rings' written all over him. He admits to having played 'Dungeons and Dragons'; the Crown rests. The idea that Bono and Tony Blair might be more highly evolved than, say, the writer of this blog is risible - yet even if the comment was a throwaway line, it does rather seem to indicate that some Conservatives remain as attached to ever to the same apotheosis of business and businesspeople which has landed us in debt and might yet possibly land us into serfdom.
In other business news, businessman preaches apocalyptic sermon in favour of business. Whoever said rationalists can't be millenarians? Connoisseurs of economic millenarianism can find more examples here, here, and here. God bless the economists - they're bringing the Middle Ages back to life in front of our eyes. All that's needed to round off the picture is for Irwin Stelzer to don sackcloth and ashes and start wandering round the City of London crying 'Doom! Doom!'.
Dr. Stelzer is the editor of an anthology entitled 'Neoconservatism'. Presumably, his mindset can properly be described as Churchillian; given a crazy and discredited ideology to defend, he'll say 'Oh yes, yes, yes, yes'.
In other news from the neoconservatism front, yesterday I went looking to buy a copy of Oliver Kamm's 'Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left-wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy'. Sadly, although the political science section within Borders Glasgow seemed otherwise well stocked, it did not seem to carry that particular volume. I did try to look for it, and the staff had helpfully arranged the volumes by author's name in alphabetical order. The absence of this volume may not be a bad thing, indeed might have saved me from myself; being so stupid that I have a reminder to blink tattooed on the back of my eyelids, it is doubtful that my intellect is sufficiently elevated to be able to understand any part of its content more demanding than the title. Contemplating its brilliance, I might have gone into shock, and been forced to spend the remainder of my days strapped to a bed in a locked psychiatric ward, drooling and screaming. However, in the interests of those potential readers who can handle him, Mr. Kamm might care to ask the management of Borders why his book seems to be absent from their shelves; that is, when he's not using Rupert Murdoch's resources to take petty and unpleasant potshots at Neil Clark.
In yet more news from the neconservatism front, Justin Raimondo, once described by Mr. Kamm as 'stridently unlettered', has helped a doltish fellow unlettered stumbler and fumbler to a conclusion about all commentary that the neos issue about Russia. Along with Iran, Russia is being set up as the 'common enemy' against whose depredations we must defend ourselves. This is quite fascist. It is telling that the individual upon whose comments Mr. Raimondo bases his critique is one 'Andrei Illiaronov'. Mr. Kamm might think Mr. Raimondo to be stridently unlettered - this author believes that Mr. Illiaronov gives every impression of being stridently deranged.
Mr. Raimondo has been producing other good analysis recently, in particular on the effect that recent Eastern European immigration has had on Israeli politics. His colleague Ivan Eland has also written a thought-provoking analysis of just how much Barack Obama might resemble Geoff Hoon. Not good.
Some libertarian knickers are being twisted into tourniquets at the thought of Fred Goodwin's pension being defenestrated along with the Royal Bank of Scotland's shareholder value and billions of taxpayer funds. They are, of course, quite right - retrospective legislation to strip Goodwin of his pension would create an extremely dangerous precedent.
I have got round this particular problem by having no pension worth speaking of. Yet it should not be forgotten that while stripping him of his pension would be a step too far, as I've already said here and reiterated in comments here and here, there are punitive laws which could apply to Goodwin, those on disqualification from the directorship of companies, which should apply to him - but which don't because they contain no specific provision for the kind of chaos he caused.
A Bill of Attainder against Fred Goodwin would be against good public policy; but by the same token, so would Fred Goodwin ever being permitted to direct a limited liability company ever again. Seems like a fair trade, don't you think?
Laban Tall is the blogger I go to first in the morning; he's right, oh, only about 99.9% of the time. Yet his analysis of Goodwin as being a 'sacrificial fat cat' doesn't really go far enough.
He had never been an entrepeneur, had never driven round industrial estates in a white van handing out leaflets, had never had to go collecting overdue debts with the bank breathing down his neck. He is an accountant whose background was in interring companies, not building them.
If l'affaire Goodwin has one positive outcome for us all, it should be that accountants are no longer entrusted with the management of public companies, and their cult overthrown. Presumably not really having experience of building businesses himself, the only way Goodwin could make RBS grow was by buying other ones. This is fine if all you're ever looking for is short-term growth, but over time you always go one deal too far.
My friend Martin Meenagh feels some sympathy for Goodwin. I don't; he threw thousands out of work to get what he wanted. Just like all other wannabe Attilas, his career's now a footnote on history's balance sheet. Best place for it. But hey, that's life in the big city.
In some parts of the world, it's 1857 all over again!
The kind of practice outlined in this report on a particular group of bailiffs used to be called 'demanding money with menaces'; and the place where those culpable of it would end up was called 'prison'. The bailiff sector seems to be prone to mishaps at the moment.
Geoffrey Smith, a stalwart of the days when England was England and TV was innocent, has passed away. RIP.
It is disappointing to see that Ian Hamilton QC has dropped his action against the Royal Bank of Scotland. Banking and corporate law might indeed be 'legally and factually complex'; but that doesn't alter the fact that there are bank branches on of what's left of our high streets, and that the purpose of the sheriff courts is to ensure that justice is administered locally. No doubt Sheriff Pender's reasoning was perfectly sound; and at least his judgment does not create a binding precedent.
There's still more there...go to go...
Friday, February 27, 2009
(I'm in a bit of a Wittemberg mood).
One of these days somebody, somewhere, will publicly agree with what I have written about the United Kingdom now being in the same phase in its history as Germany was at the end of The Thirty Years War. In Germany, taxation was increased while liberty was diminished. Say it again - rinse and repeat. It is now happening to us. You have been warned.
I will not stand for a man alleged to have libelled the British writing fantasies about British history.
'No Taxation Without Representation' was a good slogan in the 1770's; 'No Representation Without Taxation' is a suitable slogan to be thrown at the Conservative Party's donations policy. No to foreign interests, No to intimacy between politicians and business leaders, No to tax havens, No to men who take every advantage offered to them by the law to minimise what they and their entities contribute to the public purse. In a democracy, the people are the landlords - it's time for the rent, the price paid for being able to do business, to go up.
I will not stand for Scotland's hospitals being turned into factories for the murder of the elderly and the terminally ill. Margo MacDonald, the sponsor of The Proposed End Of Life Choices (Scotland) Bill 2009, used to have my admiration for the shabby treatment she received at the hands of the Scottish National Party; she doesn't have it anymore. She has Parkinson's Disease: so what? Having Parkinson's is part of the tapestry of being alive. It's part of the deal you sign up for the moment you pop out your mother's womb - even before the midwife slaps you on the backside.
If public policy is now made on the basis of emotional individualism, let's all be emotionaly individualistic; indeed, let's get really down and dirty in the emotional individualism in a way that will hopefully make some readers extremely uncomfortable. She should be grateful she has Parkinson's, and not a condition like mine. She has memories of living without her condition; I don't, not since the age of eight (since the night that 'The Sound of Music' premiered on British television, to be exact). Her condition will kill her; and so what? If that's all it's going to do to her, she should be grateful she hasn't had to live with it every minute of every day of her life, hasn't had to factor its unpredictability into all her life-changing decisions, hasn't had to cover it up in order to get jobs it later makes sure she can't do, hasn't had to deal with the ignorance and prejudice and stereotyping associated with it, and hasn't has to deal with those who can't be bothered having to deal with it. The astonishing thing about this malevolent bill is that some will consider her to be a heroine for sponsoring it. If I weren't extremely frightened at the thought of getting a needle in my arm because of it, I'd almost be ready to laugh.
The so-called 'consultation document' attached to this evil thing apparently poses the following question -
"Do you feel a waiting period of 15 days is enough?"
A 'waiting period' of 15 days would seem to be analogous to a 'cooling off period' often found in consumer credit legislation. If MacDonald would make those more likely to be euthanised live under the shadow of euthanasia, I fully intend to shout unkind words into a dying woman's ear - abandon this selfish and egotistic bill and start praying; for if you do not, you may find yourself cooling off in Hell.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Time to clear out the favourites list.
The comments attached to this thread, and this one as well, provide the eternal truth of the maxim that the Internet is rank with weirdos. Such comments serve only to fuel the paranoia of wannabe censors who regard the Internet as a 'beast'.
In foreign criminals news, we have a wonderful collection of pilgrims in Rogel McMorris and Hector Muaimba, Noe Machado, Kristoff Emmanuel Alauya, Paulo Jorge Nogueira da Silva, Paolo Parracho and Vikas Dundage. The UK does not have a problem with foreigner-perpetrated crime. Move along now. Nothing to see here.
By suggesting the possibility that the 'right to die' can become a 'duty to die', Wesley Smith sets himself up for a needle in the arm. The man is quite clearly a malcontent, for as is well-known, God wears a white coat; and for laying hands upon the sick without latex gloves, His Son should have been up before the GMC for failing to adhere to appropriate infection control procedures. Having raised Lazarus from the dead, it was entirely reckless to expose him to the risk of MRSA.
An article by Noreena Hertz has prompted the question 'Who's Noreena Hertz?'. By the looks of it, just another Shami Chakrabarti - an insider Establishment radical.
'Nihil Humani Me Alienum' is the motto of the Law Society of Scotland. Just as well, because while Scotland's Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has been eating Burns Suppers with the kind of disdain that helped ignite the French Revolution, his department will keep your DNA for life for driving through a red light, Eilish Angiolini is helping establish a 'European network of prosecutors, and we're having a review into double jeopardy. I don't suppose that the elevation of the avian in the ascendant to those parts of the Scottish legal Establishment who think that trying people for the same crime again and again and again is a good thing would stop them - do you?
A free and independent Scotland - a country where justice would be in the hands of a disturber of the peace who just can't leave ancient liberties alone. But he's in tight with Alex Salmond, so that makes it all OK. Or not. Never mind that the judges are publicly expressing fears for their independence under MacAskill - Scots Wha' Hae!
In what might be an act of state censorship, BBC Scotland failed to acknowledge MacAskill's absence from a conference on the depressing topic of knife crime. Billy Connolly's comments about Scots with surnames as first names spring to mind.
Like Hazel Blears, Beatrix Campbell reminds one why the 'evil dwarf' is a stock character in the mythologies of Europe.
I came across a quote yesterday which is allegedly attributable to Jack Straw - "The British are a race not worth saving". This is politically explosive. If untrue, it's a grotesque libel that Mr. Straw must confront and oppose. If true, then he not only has no business being in government; he has no business being in Parliament, indeed, he should be feeling the attentions of the law.
Any reader have any idea where and when he was supposed to have said it?
The words 'Muslim cleric' and 'Australia' don't seem to sit naturally together. One can see why.
In other Religion of Peace news, Cardinal Jose Policarpo has uttered what might perhaps be words of wisdom.
There may be very reasonable grounds for questioning every word to come from the mouth and pen of Fareed Zakaria.
Stealing pages out of rare books is one of those obsessively oddball crimes, like stealing rare birds' eggs', the perpetrators of which might automatically be assumed to be wackos.
Barack Obama's stepmother lives in a council house in Bracknell.
While the retiring Archbishop of Westminster might think economic dislocation to be a good thing on one level, I do not recall either he or any of his colleagues saying a word about the implementation of aggessively business friendly labour policies on the British worker.
Plenty more where that came from. However, at this point the diet has to be deserted pro loco et tempore...
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
All you will ever really need to know about America's current financial condition, by Paul Craig Roberts.
His critique of libertarian economists is particularly apposite. By and large, libertarianism is a form of what the late Norman Cohn called 'mystical anarchism', not unlike The Heresy of the Free Spirit. With some very honourable exceptions, whose gracious patience with me seems to be boundless and for which I am very grateful, its adherents are also largely unburdened by awareness of reality - as P. J. Mulvey can attest.
The point that Dr. Roberts could have made, but didn't and which would have been interesting to read given his deep commitment to civil liberties, is whether the loss of economic liberty that a depression entails will also be likely to result in the loss of political liberty. This writer's stated view is that the average man's position is now almost directly analogous to that of your average German peasant's at the end of The Thirty Years' War, and that serfdom might be just around the corner. It would be interesting to know what Dr. Roberts would make of that thesis.
It also raises a thought that's been bouncing around for a couple of days. Thomas Friedman has recently performed the sterling service of letting us know just how poorly American economic history seems to be understood in some parts of the world; however, as Dr. Roberts correctly points out, for most of its history the USA's was a protectionist economy. Did this help foster a greater sense of civic polity than we have in the UK? Is the British heritage of economic laissez-faire among the reasons why every attempt to define what being British really means is always laughed down? That the roots of that particular civil distemper go back very much further than the 1960's?
An interesting subject for a future post, perhaps.
Anyway - enjoy the sight of the guy who got a medal from the French for his commitment to privatisation talking about economics; something he actually knows something about.
Following hard on the heels of Bossco's, sorry, Bosco's statement that the Post Office needs a good pillaging because of its failure to automate, Bossco's, sorry, Bosco's boss is apparently putting the frighteners on its pensioners.
This is a disgusting tactic intended to get what you want by putting those more vulnerable than yourself into what one might a call a state of fear and alarm and distress; the precise moral equivalent of a protection racket telling an elderly shopkeeper that their business might suffer fire damage unless they pay up. Pay up or burn down - go private or lose your income. Absolutely no normative difference between the two.
This is the globalisation that Lord Mandelson praised in 'The Guardian' on his first day as Business Secretary. This is what globalisation looks like, up close and personal; and may Pat McFadden, the good Labour man fae Paisley, hang his head in shame at his involvement in this betrayal of the old and the low-paid.
A new drama series will soon be beginning on ITV entitled 'Law And Order: UK'.
If cultural history is ever written in the future, television cop shows should provide an interesting area of study. Many are poor entertainment; yet with the notable exception of 'The Shield', virtually all glorify a group wielding state-sponsored and largely unaccountable force. This is puzzling. The vocation of policing has often been the domain of those who like beating up wee boys down back alleys. There is much not to admire in many police officers.
Strathclyde Police, the home of 'righteous perjury' and 'The Two Cop Bop' (see comments), even has one, Chief Superintendent Anne McGuire, who considers it her business to state that owners of licensed premises 'must take responsibility for their premises and customers'. This is a statement of public policy. Public policy is something that CS McGuire is paid to police, not dictate. The Copfighter-General should have issued her with an immediate and stinging public rebuke - but he didn't. Probably catching up on his Burns Suppers.
The news that police numbers might have to be cut is therefore, in one sense, not quite a good thing, but not perhaps a bad thing either. It will hopefully serve to remind many police officers that they are not above society, but part of it - and not immune from its pressures.
The handwringing, and rather windy, sanctimony of Shami Chakrabarti's testament to herself and the organisation she 'serves' in today's 'Guardian' must be offset against her most recent performance on 'Question Time'.
Referring to the Lindsey oil refinery dispute, she windily windied platitudes about how the dispute had been resolved in the absence of, if I recall correctly, 'xenophobia' and 'racism'.
Ergo, this under-insightful, over-exposed and, for her age, over-honoured minor public policy celebrity's thought processes appear to work as follows - we will defend your liberty, while reserving the right to abhor you and what you still have the right to think, and will try to direct you round a more 'correct' way of thinking; presumably for your own good.
The correct response to such an approach is, of course, the avian in the ascendant - for Shami is just as much a Jacobin as the rest of them. Just as Robespierre took to himself the right to dictate what was and was not 'virtuous', so Chakrabarti and her associates have taken to themselves the right to dictate what should and should not be 'free'. Liberty, the group she serves so well, is a classic example of the appropriation of a concept by a dedicated minority. For any group to style itself 'Liberty', as if only its members understand the meaning of the word, is a gesture of grotesque insolence to liberty itself.
It is significant that Liberty is the rebranded National Council for Civil Liberties. Chakrabarti lists NCCL's original animating spirits to have been Vera Brittain (an unashamed elitist whose daughter was evacuated during WWII not to Scotland or Wales but Yale University), H. G. Wells (a moral anarchist), and Harold Laski (a now virtually unread scribbler who wielded too much unelected power during his lifetime). Chakrabarti's absolute disdain for complete freedom of thought and conscience is only natural - she heads a body whose founders made a great virtue of adoring the common man, and empathising with his plight, from the safest of distances.
Chakrabarti is in danger of degenerating into another one of those British national treasures, like Long Longford and Tony Benn, that we can well do without; those self-appointed moral consciences from the Irish peerage, or who possess the good sense to marry American heiresses or, in Chakrabarti's case, partners in Top 100 City law firms. This process should be resisted with might and main, for such people have never really spoken for us. If St. Shami the Sanctimonious is anything to go by, they still don't.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Patrick Bosco McFadden (holder of a name that not even the late Rikki Fulton could make up) has declared,
"I know a number of Labour MPs have concerns about this, but with the company facing a huge pension fund deficit and the volume of mail falling year by year, and with a lack of automation compared to other Mail companies this is urgently needed."
A cursory examination of Bossco, sorry, Bosco's CV displays what seems to be immersion in professional politics since leaving university, and a complete absence of industrial experience. His qualifications to pontificate upon the operational demands of a running a postal service would therefore appear to be thin.
There might be ways in which this pillage could be avoided.
Those responsible for managing the pension fund into deficit could be stripped of their property; before being stripped to their underwear and being compelled to ride donkeys through the City of London wearing dunces caps. It's unlikely to happen - but it would be a wonderful incentive against future pension fund failure.
Bossco, sorry, Bosco's comment that the volume of mail is falling does not seem to be corroborated by the volume of junk falling through my letterbox every morning.
It is hard to see why automation should be somehow good in a postal service, while somehow bad in agriculture. Agriculture is a fecund source of those jobs that the British 'can't do' or 'won't do' and which have apparently needed mass immigration to ensure they get done. Why wasn't agriculture forced to expend the capital outlay required to automate in the same way that Bossco, sorry, Bosco, seems to be saying that the Post Office should? What's good for one should be thought to be good for the other, one might have thought.
Bossco, sorry, Bosco works for Lord Mandelson, now reported to planning the retardation of social progress - presumably because it's all right to talk about workers' rights when elections are on the cards, but otherwise business is business.
Has any politician responsible for the regulation and conduct commerce ever been as powerful as Mandelson? Or so closely identified with business? With the boss class?
Or should that be the Bosco class?
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Mrs. Tweed is very much a creature of her times. Ian Bell, a leftist oozer who oozes for 'The Sunday Herald', comes tantalisingly close to grasping the significance of her life and career - while inevitably conflating her situation with the 'right to die' movement.
As Bell says, Mrs. Tweed is everything that your average advocate of assisted suicide is not - brash, ill-educated, a creature built up and then destroyed by the media. However, her courage in the face of her illness is a rebuke to those like Polly Toynbee, who says we should all lie down because she tells us to.
She rebukes those who want to accelerate their dying because they can't handle the basic business of being alive and in pain. She shouts to them 'That's life! And up yours!' - good luck to her. Yes, dying is natural, but it can also be painful. Pain can be good for you. It reminds you you're still alive.
Bell's lowing ruminations don't address the most important aspect of this whole story - that a 27 year old former dental hygienist with hardly a qualification to her name and who has expressed some pretty unsavoury views might just become the agent whereby dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other young womens' lives might be saved. Interest in smear tests has apparently gone through the roof.
If any woman who has ever laughed at Jade Goody, or called her names without knowing her, gets tested as a result of this episode and is found to have cervical cancer capable of treatment; well, they won't be laughing now. They will be thanking her for their lives. May she have more days yet to come; she might have entertained and appalled us in equal measure by holding a mirror up to our faces and showing us aspects of ourselves that we would prefer to ignore or wish away, but if her illness helps other women survive, then her death won't be meaningless. It'll be heroic.
Friday, February 20, 2009
The last comment made on 'Question Time' last night came from the Rt. Hon. Tony McNulty MP. I quote from memory, so absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.
He stated, entirely facetiously, that after the show he would follow Lord Heseltine and Piers Morgan down Peckham High Street shouting, 'He's a journalist, he's a Tory, take your pick'.
While obviously intended to be humourous, it made me believe that McNulty is excited by the prospect of violence being done to political opponents and those who criticise him; even when they are old men, although admittedly Heseltine is a particularly unpleasant example of the breed.
McNulty's speech displayed an arrogance and aggression which was quite difficult to watch. He seems to have no understanding of courtesy. Whenever a Conservative's name was mentioned, they were not given the politeness of being referred to by their first name, or even their title - Lord Heseltine was just 'Heseltine', while David Cameron was not 'Mr. Cameron' but just 'Cameron', and Iain Duncan-Smith just 'Duncan-Smith'.
This lack of courtesy was coarse and common. If he was affecting the posture of the class warfare of his youth, it is unbecoming to see such an affectation in a member of the Privy Council.
McNulty is a famous New Labour mediocrity. On 1st March 2006, I called for his sacking from the post of Minister for Immigration over his obstinate refusal to state the truth that mass immigration had depressed wages. It is not recorded whether he ever suggested following both the Governor of the Bank of England and the Chief Economist of the Institute for Personnel Development down Peckham High Street shouting 'Take your pick'.
Yet on June 9 2006, in a move worthy of Gogol which entirely rewrote the concept of 'conflict of interest', his wife was appointed Chief Inspector of Schools for England and Wales. It is almost beyond the bounds of possibility to believe that no suitable alternative candidate could have been found. Presumably Chief Inspectors of Schools are appointed and not proclaimed; but even if they were, it would have been proper for Mrs. McNulty to have excused herself on account of her close connection to a member of the government. Her appointment might have been perfectly proper. Sickly nippers might rise from their beds in Great Ormond Street as soon as Mrs. McNulty's shadow passes; she might even cast out devils with a rebuke - yet her appointment did not give the appearance of propriety.
But who cares about that when you're building a new Britain?
I do not feel comfortable having someone so publicly thuggish as McNulty having power over me. If political parties are indeed gangs, he gives every impression of being a capable mid-ranking capo, with the Immigration Service and the police just rackets to be run. That's the impression he gives me, anyway.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
It is gratifying to see Timothy Garton Ash weigh in on the eradication of British liberty by the New Labour government.
Those who would make those over whom they rule less free are tyrants. 'Community harmony', the excuse used to justify the exclusion of Geert Wilders, is just another strain of state authoritarianism; played fortissimo, it yells 'Security!', while 'community harmony' is the pianissimo strain.
Yet while the British state's pianissimo artists will use any and all excuses to stamp the peoples' face into the dust, Garton Ash is really no better than they are. He gets irritated at the loss of civil liberty, while at the same time repeatedly using the phrase 'We in Europe', conflating the British nation with 'Europe' - a true construct to which we must all bow the knee.
Garton Ash is, of course, free to call himself and even think of himself as being a European if he wishes - to paraphrase Joan Cusack in 'Working Girl', 'I jump around in front of the mirror in my underwear, but it doesn't make me Madonna'.
For the rest of us, being a European means that you have to suffer the loss of economic liberty occasioned by displacement from the workforce. What did Garton Ash have to say about the Lindsey oil refinery dispute, the roots of which were in the right of free movement of labour throughout the European Union? Not much, as far as I can see. It is often said that political liberty follows economic liberty - if true, the reverse, that the loss of political liberty is a consequence of the loss of economic liberty, might also be true. The loss of the individual British citizen's economic liberty has been British government's most pernicious collective achievement of the past 30 years.
For example, that labour should seek to organise in its own interests is, according to the principles of classical economics, perfectly rational - yet this right has been systematically eroded to the advantage of employers.
For example, why should the closed shop be illegal for manufacturing workers, when the House of Commons is, with rare exceptions, the biggest closed shop of all; the one operated by political parties? Ban the closed shop completely - so ban political parties.
'Chaos!' 'Ruin!' cry the mavens. Worst of all, 'Populism!' 'Populism!' Rubbish. The party system does not preserve or enhance liberty - it diminishes it. Why should any man have to join what are to all intents and purposes gangs in order to be able to add their talents to public life? A cursory reading of Jeremy Paxman's 'The Political Animal' reveals that half of the talking heads who appear spouting the party line know it's rubbish - the words must stick in their throats.
So why do they do it? Because they know that the party system does not provide better government - but that it does provide access to power.
By being compelled to educate themselves on every local and national issue without the benefit of party political talking points, every candidate would at least be well versed. We would have a political system that would be more clean, and less likely to be subjected to the influence of special interests. They might get what they want - but it would bankrupt them to do it, and there would have to be too many people in on the conspiracy.
Government is not reflective of the people, but of the parties. And what do they have in common with us?
Those who believe that proportional representation is the way forward speak with forked tongues. Proportional representation does not benefit the people - but as we in Scotland have become all too aware, where it operates it does so for the exclusive benefit of political parties.
The parties are not part of the solution - they're part of the problem.
The parties are not part of the solution - they're part of the problem.
"Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three (which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the "Chatterley" ban
And The Beatles' first LP."
The degradation of the British worker that has occurred over the past 20 years really began to bite at some point between the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the accession of New Labour in 1997. It was during that period that personnel officers began to refer to themselves as 'Human Resources', as if Homo Sapiens Sapiens, aka the child of God, was nothing more than a tool to be used for the performance of an economic function. Aristotle might have approved - but to refer to a human being as a resource is to consign him to slavery.
We now have an economy where what should be earned in basic wages can only be earned by having to jump through hoops like trained seals or performing dogs in order to earn 'bonusses'. If we are to be free from the depradations of the state, we must also be free from the depredations of those who bray that 'jobs are a cost'. They cannot do this while at the same insisting on an Englishman's right to his ancient civil liberties. This intellectual conundrum is one of the most glaring examples of how the British Establishment's mindset remains rooted in the early 19th Century.
The concept of the dignity of labour has been forgotten by those charged with maintaining our cultural traditions. And, like - they expect us to vote for them?
No way. Ban the parties. Ban them all. Ban them now.
The current British confusion over what liberty actually is has been revealed by reaction to the treatment of Geert Wilders.
No right-minded, right thinking British person should give a damn about Geert Wilders or the unedifying dog and pony show he put on at Heathrow Airport. It says much for Wilders' regard for British law that he deliberately attempted to flout it - the weightier jurisprudential arguments regarding freedom of movement are of neither interest nor consequence. Wilders wants to ban the Koran in the Netherlands - he's a book-banner, and apparently a crazed and revolting one, in the grand European style. He's not part of the solution; he's part of the problem.
Geert Wilders - Old Europe. Tim Garton Ash - New Europe. To hell with them both.
"For him (and so far we may agree) there is no freedom without law; but he tends to convert this, and to argue that wherever there is law there is freedom. Thus ‘freedom’, for him, means little more than the right to obey the law”.
This is the only kind of freedom the British state understands - the freedom to do as you're told; a perfect example of bipartisanship.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
"...it means hysterical attacks on yours truly for actually taking sides in this debate, with the ostensible basis for the denunciation being a wonkish blog post — it says so in the title — in which I acknowledge that there is a potential short-run argument for protectionism, while making it clear that I’m not in favor of acting on that argument. He doesn’t actually take on my argument; he just insists that the only reason I might possibly have said anything like this is partisan bias, as opposed to an attempt to be intellectually honest.
Speaking of which, Clive and others have, in my view, a fundamentally flawed view of how to defend free trade. They believe that you should scream “Heresy! Sacrilege!” at anyone who even suggests that the world is more complicated than the simple Ricardian model of comparative advantage. But, you know, the world actually is more complicated than that simple model, and I believe that one’s case for free trade should be robust enough to stand up to a bit of free thinking — not sustained by excommunicating anyone who questions orthodoxy, even hypothetically." -
Paul Krugman, 2008 Nobel Laureate for Economics (or most recent winner of a prize awarded by a Swedish bank, depending on your ideological preferences), writing on a blog whose title is culled from that of a book by Barry Goldwater.
Nope, folks, economics is not a religion. Move along now. Nothing to see here.
Hat tip Ilana Bet-El.
Lord Mandelson, discussing remarks made by the chairman of Starbucks concerning the British economy.
Oh, Brave New World, that has such people in it.
Mind you, given what seem to be his deeply held commitments to globalisation and the pillage of the remaining portion of British assets held in public hands, one might ask the same questions of Lord Mandelson himself.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Lord Mandelson's exhortation to the Prime Minister to 'avoid a media frenzy' to be delivered to the Council on Foreign Relations (and not 'the Council of Foreign Regulations' as stated in 'The Guardian') indicates that the global elite is in something of a panic.
If Mandelson has reservations concerning the conduct of British policy, then the doctrine of collective responsibility means that the appropriate place for them to be raised is in Cabinet - not in front of a think tank connected to every American administration, of whatever ideological hue, of the last half century.
These are the people in front of whom Lord Mandelson feels it is appropriate to discuss policy issues - not the British people, nor their peers, nor their parliament.
Then again, the appearance of propriety has never been Lord Mandelson's strong point. In more whimsical moments, one can easily imagine the current British Government as St. Trinian's, with Mandelson playing George Cole to the Prime Minister's Alistair Sim; for unlike those former New Labourites jumping ship to the Conservatives like rats off a sinking ship, Lord Mandelson is not a 'policy entrepreneur', but a policy spiv.
It is reminiscent of Lady Macbeth's injunction to her husband that if they 'screw our courage to the sticking post, then we'll not fail'. Alas, Gruoch! Birnam Wood might yet move to Dunsinane!
Monday, February 16, 2009
The speed with which bushfires tore through Australian homes, and Man's inability to cope with Nature when it turns on him, seems reminiscent of the fate of Pompeii.
We now live in a world where law serves no purpose other than coercion, and ersatz states seem on the point of coming crashing down. The Pompeiians had no chance to negotiate with Vesuvuius - perhaps it would be better if we did not try to manage the current financial crisis and let it take its course. What may be being seen is a re-ordering of events, a restoration of some kind of natural equilibrium which always happens in the wake of natural disasters. How we cope with it is up to us.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
The actors of European history have sometimes borne wonderful names, like Frederick the Pugnacious, William the Silent and Charles the Sufferer.
The Pillage Of The Post Office planned by Peter the Seedy might not be The Rape of Silesia, but it comes close. It's not his to sell - but he'll go ahead and sell it anyway. For Peter the Seedy is a good European; and rapine and pillage of the commons in order to keep yourself and your mates ahead of the game is what most good Europeans have historically done.
According to David Lindsay, the old reactionary eagerly supports this pillage, while the court dwarves who sit behind him, their capacity for critical thought largely outsourced to the party line, tumble and jest as they vote for the 'Royal Mail' to be abolished. The old reactionary is such a good European that he deserves a European name.
Kenneth The Fat. Somehow, it just suits him.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The news that Lord Truscott appears to be above the criminal law for no apparent reason other than that he's a member of the House of Lords - is this privilege reserved only for Labour peers? - should not deflect enquiry into the identities of those members of the House of Commons with whom he seems so very friendly.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
This morning, I was planning to write something suitably acid about the gibbering troupe of the bungled and the botched that appeared before the Treasury Select Committee yesterday, under the title 'Didn't They Do Well?'
Representing HBOS, Hornby and Stevenson did a good imitation of a human concertina, Hornby going in, Stevenson going out; their evidence a doleful tune played in, out, in, out, for three hours. This might be doing them a great dis-service, but those parts of their evidence that normal people could actually understand gave the impression that under their leadership, HBOS was what happens when you cross Jacob Fugger with Sam Peckinpah - a bank that dies in slow motion.
In the Royal Bank of Scotland corner, Goodwin looked like one of those childrens' toys that do nothing but flip over when pressed; while McKillop, a dead ringer for the actor Richard Johnson, sounded like a roll of carpet being pulled out by a salesman at General George.
In hindsight, the hearing's principal flaw was its format. Every member of the Committee was given the right to ask questions; this was a bad idea. If the session had been free-flowing, with members coming in with immediate questions arising from answers instead of each member asking set questions on a 'Buggin's Turn' basis over the course of three hours, the former Masters of the Universe would have been abasing themselves, denouncing each other and screaming for mercy like Chinese milkmen within about 10 minutes.
The hearing was also flawed by the Committee membership. McFall could not resist a pathetic attempt at old-fashioned West of Scotland class warfare by asking McKillop whether 'the finest malts' were served at the directors' dinner held the night before RBS board meetings; a straightforward 'No' rather took the wind out of his sails.
And I don't think anybody asked Goodwin how he was finding 'life in the big city'. Had that question been asked of him, his reaction might have told us more about the man than any amount of boring garbage about the extermination of shareholder value, international business models, possibly defective risk management procedures, positions in Triple-A rated securities that turned out to be Triple-Z or any of the other unintelligible guff that he poured out all morning.
And when presented with Goodwin's pulsing jugular, none of the Committee failed to strike - 'eh, Sir Fred, as you've said the Royal Bank of Scotland possessed an international business model, and had an international board; so, eh, were any of its international directors involved in the management of those companies whose shares the RBS invested in and which later turned out to be lemons?'
That would have been a question worth asking.
At times, the hearing managed to make me have to leave the room in toe-curling embarrassment, at other times it put me to sleep - as show trials go, it wasn't much of a trial, and certainly not much of a show.
A very much more interesting and edifying way of passing the time would have been to watch Father Robert Barron's analysis of The Christus Victor Theory in the movies of Clint Eastwood. British banking - a religion going nowhere. Christianity - a religion going somewhere. The market for ideas is never closed.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
History always throws up interesting comparisons. Sometimes they're interesting, sometimes they make you want to throw up.
For example, could any functionary of either the Labour or Conservative parties please tell me the normative difference between a shortened working week caused by union activism in the 1970's, and a shortened working week caused by plutocratic excess in the 2000's? Will the return of the three day week mean that capital's right to organise will end up being as thoroughly mangled and smashed as labour's right to organise was in consequence of what happened 30 years ago?
Of course not. That would be 'fundamentally totalitarian'.
Ed Balls, the bug-eyed bootleg butty-banning Bilderberger who possesses a profound sense of his own exceptionalism and who only answers questions on constituency matters, is reported to have said of the current crisis that,
"I think that this is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s and we all remember how the politics of that era were shaped by the economy."
"We now are seeing the realities of globalisation, though at a speed, pace and ferocity which none of us have seen before.
"The reality is that this is becoming the most serious global recession for, I'm sure, over 100 years as it will turn out."
Let us contemplate Balls for a moment.
Why does Balls believe himself to be exceptional? Because politics has become a profession, just another form of labour to be divided in order to achieve maximum efficiency. To allow this to have happened has been an enormous historic mistake; whereas participation in the conduct of affairs should be the right of all, it has become the privilege of the few - and it takes no great leap for the privileged to consider themselves exceptional. And when you believe yourself to be exceptional, you start doing stupid and arrogant things.
No British politician has ever had any business attending the Bilderberg Group. It is a closed and unreported forum at which only the views of capital are advanced. The only circumstances under which British politicians should attend Bilderberg is on the condition that the rights of labour are as well-represented as those of capital. That is not the case; at Bilderberg, it is as if the rights of labour, which for the avoidance of doubt are set out in Scripture, do not exist. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that policies should thereafter be enacted which treat the rights of labour as if they do not exist.
It is with some interest that one notes that the avid Bilderberger Kenneth Clarke once pooh-poohed the idea of Muslim clerics who call for jihad and plot the overthrow of the state being charged with treason - those with an uncharitable cast of mind could ask whether he was watching his own back; or another portion of his anatomy.
But (or butty?) back to Balls.
Balls uses the word 'globalisation', as if this phenomenon possessed one clear and single definition - which it does not. For all we know, he could be talking about a gypsy in leprechaun's clothes.
Therefore, what is he talking about? When he deploys that over-used and under-defined word, we are entitled to ask - what is he actually talking about? If he is acknowledging that this ultimate 'win-win' scenario (which we can now surmise has only ever been a mask for the advance of plutocratic totalitarianism) has a downside, then he and his fellow politicians who have pushed this unmandated policy, not a process, onto the people should be facing stern questions from the electorate.
Yet we now have a policy vacuum; there is no alternative policy there. If that's not totalitarianism, I don't really know what is; but Balls's self-image is probably based on the assumption that he's the sort of guy who asks the tough questions, to which he expects staright answers - not someone from whom straight answers are expected in response to tough questions.
And now Balls reveals everything which is most dangerous about himself and the people with whom he associates -
"I think that this is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s and we all remember how the politics of that era were shaped by the economy."
When those words come from the mouth of Edward Balls, lovers of liberty everywhere should feel the blow of a chill wind.
We must be both generous and charitable in the face of extreme provocation, and presume that Balls is ignorant. Stanley Payne's 'A History of Fascism' (quoted passim) makes the following facts quite clear -
1. Fascism was a Continental phenomenon, almost exclusive to nations only formed in the late 19th Century such as Germany and Italy;
2. German National Socialism was much the consequence of the influence of Romanticism in German culture, a fact alluded to by Bertrand Russell in his discussion of Rousseau, as of the country's economic circumstances in the wake of the Great War and during the Great Depression; and
3. At all times and under all circumstances, the British Union of Fascists was a minority group which never came anywhere near power; and the volume of literature which has been produced regarding both it and Oswald Mosley has been in gross disproportion to whatever influence either he or his movement ever held.
Britain's is not a fascist culture, its people not one susceptible to fascism's snares. They never have been and they never will be. If Ed Balls doesn't realise that or understand that, then his ignorance of his own country's history, and his lack of regard for his fellow citizens, is inexcusable.
Yet the same fretting and hand-wringing that the Establishment has engaged in over the rise of Mosley's muppets for the past 75 years is now being seen over the British National Party, a perfectly legitimate political party. For the avoidance of doubt, I stand among the BNP's opponents, as stated here, here, and here - yet I would never dream of trying to have it declared religious anathema; and kudos to the bishops for telling Ian Blair where to go.
It really would be conspiracy theory to think that the current crisis has been engineered by the global elite for the purpose of imposing world government. Under that genuine conspiracy theory, those of their critics who have suggested that they are ignorant of history would be totally wrong; they have read Toynbee, they would be all too aware of history, they would know that mass immigration and the advance of Islam into Europe would result in the same social tensions appearing across the Continent; and they would know that they would then be able to divide and conquer.
They would know that the collapse of an international financial system apparently created for no purpose other than to enable them to pillage it would provide opportunities for them to seize power; perhaps by threatening the rise of non-existent, non-probable bogeymen like a mass British fascist movement unless they're allowed to seize the reins.
Such a conspiracy is so improbable as to be capable of being immediately discounted. If it did exist, it would be truly diabolical.
Yet the danger of liberty being snatched away from the British people is very real. In the coming days and weeks, we may just see how far the banking aristocracy's tentacles have wrapped themselves around the organs of the British state. Folks, it's time to take a quick trip back to 1648.
The end of the Thirty Years' War saw Germany in ruins. One German in four had been killed. The country's elites had fought themselves to exhaustion, and the country into poverty.
The only way that the elites could see to restore prosperity while maintaining their positions was the through the imposition of crushing taxation. This resulted in the extension of serfdom; real-life, crushing serfdom.
In 2009, our bankers, our own aristocrats, have gorged themselves to the point of exhaustion. The only way many can now survive is through public bailouts. These bailouts have to be paid for - if the bankers cannot make the banks pay, they will have to be paid for by taxation so crushing it would have the same impact upon us as the taxation of the German aristocracy had upon that country's free peasants in the 17th Century.
We are in precisely the same position now as they were in then - when our leaders start talking of their fears for liberty, it is time for us to be mindful of our own.
Keep an eye out for reports of lights in the sky.
For many years, the Metropolitan Police's Special Patrol Group was portrayed as being the iron fist within the rule of law's velvet glove.
It served one function in the system, to quell disorder; and it was very good at it. As such, it became a target of those dedicated to sowing disorder and disharmony, whether racial or cultural. The failure of Margaret Thatcher's government to defend the SPG against accusations that it was a racialist paramilitary was one of the greatest victories ever scored by our civilisation's internal enemies - amongst whom could be counted the foreign radical Blair Peach, before his untimely and unfortunate demise. The question of whether Peach would have disapproved of 'police brutality' perpetrated in the name of the Socialist Workers' Party must remain academic.
Yet the tactics of which the SPG were often accused might seem to be the subject of research among some of our more inquisitive young social historians. These vigilante - young lads properly have a better response time than Strathclyde Police.
Monday, February 09, 2009
A very sad but telling story of British officialdom, in all its glorious dhimmitude.
Today's 'Daily Telegraph' carries a speculative report concerning the next likely outbreak of British worker unrest against international plutocracy's efforts to bring in foreign workers and warehouse them on ships. It now seems almost possible to diarise them; if it's Wednesday, it must be the Isle of Grain.
Yet the report, which perhaps tellingly does not carry an author's bye-line, contains the following statement concerning the lawlessly solved Lindsey oil refinery dispute -
"Some of the Italian workers living on that ship (moored at Grimsby) claimed they could not leave it without being attacked by angry locals."
It would be of great interest to know how many complaints of assault, whether verbal or physical, have been made to Lincolnshire Police by Italians on the Grimsby hulk. The one thing that shines through loud and clear from the history of the Lindsey dispute is that its biggest loser seems to have been British racial nationalism.
So who was assaulted? And where are the complaints?
Sunday, February 08, 2009
It has been reported that on February 10, Fred Goodwin and other directors of the Royal Bank of Scotland will walk to their Canossa, in the form of the Treasury Select Committee of the House of Commons.
They will have many searching questions to answer, and a great deal of explaining to do. Such is the level of interest in the event that it's being televised live. Non-UK readers should realise that such coverage of a select committee hearing is virtually unheard of.
Peter Sutherland will apparently not be among those doing public penance. According to the 'Financial Times' of February 7, he was finally shown the door the previous day.
Mr. Sutherland has been involved in the management of a bank only saved from outright collapse by nationalisation; one which has posted a loss of 28 billion pounds, the largest in British corporate history, in the process. Now having a bank on their hands as a result of actions to which he was party, the taxpaying British public is entitled to have grave concerns regarding Mr. Sutherland's managerial competence.
Today's 'Sunday Times' reports that Goodwin ran a disgusting regime based on domination, his character apparently little better than that of a common bully. Mr. Sutherland might plead ignorance of such behaviour, and such ignorance could be genuine; however if that were the case, he could be quite rightly and properly be accused of being out of touch with what was happening in an institution he was being paid to direct. Hopefully, it was not the case that Goodwin's fellow directors were prepared to overlook such behaviour for as long as he got results. That would display a lack of concern for the working conditions of Royal Bank of Scotland staff quite unbecoming a figure as distinguished as Peter Sutherland.
His involvement in The Decline and Fall of The Royal Bank of Scotland does, however, have other consequences. Whether the bank's affairs have been scandalous remains to be seen - but his involvement in them means that he is no longer suitable to hold the position of 'Consultor of the Extraordinary Section of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See', which he has held since December 2006.
Mr. Sutherland should resign from that position forthwith. This would be both decent and dignified; a sharp contrast to the lack of decency Fred Goodwin showed to those who worked under him, the lack of dignity he offered them, and the enthusiasm with which he cast thousands out of work. It would be indecent, undignified and unbecoming to have to make the Holy Father sack you. He has more profitable things to do with his time.
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Alex Salmond - "He was the kindest, most decent human being it has ever been my pleasure to meet....He was a credit to both his faith and to his country".
Stevie Purcell - "He was a gentleman in all he did. I will miss him."
Annabel Goldie - "Bashir Ahmad was a real gentleman, much liked and respected across the political spectrum."
Tavish Scott - "He was a decent and honourable gentleman and a good man to speak to."
Nicola Sturgeon - "Bashir Ahmad was an exceptional person, and I will miss him deeply...Bashir represented the best of Glasgow and the very best of Scotland."
On February 5 2006, Mr. Ahmad desecrated a Mass. Given the fulsomeness of the tributes currently being paid to him, it seems only appropriate to append that footnote to his eulogies.
Clarkson, whose family fortune seems to have built on 'Paddington Bear' merchandising, gives every impression of being the kind of middle-class English boor whose sport is making call-centre operators' lives difficult, bullying those they know are powerless to stand up to them. His boorish mystique eludes me.
Yet he has publicly apologised for describing Gordon Brown as 'a one-eyed Scottish idiot'. This statement contains two facts and an opinion perfectly capable of being supported by the weight of evidence.
There is a delicious irony in seeing a public boor of a motoring journalist being wilded by a pack of disabled parking bay users; yet through the rear view mirror, apologising for expressing a valid opinion does seem rather short-sighted.
Friday, February 06, 2009
To sing an old song, of which some readers might be tiring but the importance of which to the blogger cannot be overstated, economics is now a religion - and clearly protectionism is to be considered a mortal sin against it.
At the same time, Gordon Brown has urged bankers' to show restraint when considering their own pay. Decoded, this pronouncement really says, means 'You've dodged a bullet this time, lads - so don't foul the nest any more'.
Of course, showing restraint in their own remuneration is an act of self-sacrifice of which The International Banking Clan is incapable. In his book 'Egypt's Making', Michael Rice equated the estate owners of ancient Egypt with English landowners of the 19th Century; what they shared was a sense of absolute confidence derived from complete certainty about the world, and their role in it.
The International Banking Clan have been allowed to run riot through our wealth for so long that they too have developed precisely that same sense of certainty about their own positions in the world, and their importance in it. They have become a secular aristocracy. Where aristocracy thrives, neither the serfs nor their tribunes get to tell the aristocrats what to do; which means expecting a banker not to expect a bonus is as absurd as expecting a midget to turn out for the LA Lakers. What Brown realises, and the Banking Clan don't, is that there is such a thing as the public mood; and seeing those who have caused you privation continue to enjoy plenty while you suffer will do nothing to improve it.
Yet Old Labour never dies, it only transforms itself into another implement for the sharpening of irony. The peculiarly lawless solution to the Lindsey oil refinery dispute has produced one of the all-time classic quotes, right up there with 'We wuz robbed', and 'Football's a game of two halves', from the mouth of GMB organiser Phil Whitehurst -
"It was a unanimous decision. It was an excellent vote."
Excellence is unanimity; he might not have meant it that way, but that sort of thinking does seem to display something of a totalitarian mindset. Yet this solution is not going to make the problem go away. Any deal that means European Union law has been infringed must be challenged by European Union authorities. If they do not, then they will suffer an acute crisis of legitimacy, one law after another will steadily be ignored and the whole European project will unravel faster than a ball of wool in the paws of a kitten. Lindsey is a make or break challenge to European integration - and from all the good little janissaries of the Europeans, from the fat old reactionary to the beardy professional Europhile to Lord Twinkletoes himself, there has been not a sound heard in defence of the project they have worked very hard and very long to bring to success. What does tell you about what way they think the wind is blowing?
Today, Naomi Klein has written that, "governments that respond to a crisis created by free-market ideology with an acceleration of that same discredited agenda will not survive to tell the tale"; yet also today in the UK, we see precisely more of the same being proposed for the Royal Mail. As I have written before, the correct name to be given to Lord Mandelson's proposed program of privatisations, in which the Royal Mail is set to play a leading role, is 'pillage'. Pillage is not win-win, and is most certainly zero-sum for those on the recieving end.
Yet if the British state is so desperate for funds that it must consider selling everything in sight to private investors, I can think of a perfectly reasonable market-based solution, entirely in line with neoliberal ideology, which would enable it to raise funds while keeping the Royal Mail in public hands. I can even think of someone to oversee the project.
The Government should immediately set up an investment vehicle called 'Equality Through Security PLC', and offer its shares to the public. The services of every publicly funded diversity co-ordinator, five portions of fruit and veg a day supervisor, hate speech combatant, and CCTV operator in the land should be transferred to ETS with a view to immediate privatisation, together with the Department for International Development in its entirety - meaning that The Bugler Of The Bishopton Boys' Brigade would once again have to work in a job involving the dirty business of earning fees (but he comes from a brilliant family, so it shouldn't present any problem).
In times of economic crisis, this would relieve the public purse of the intolerable burden that such services currently represent, while at the same time testing whether there is actually a market for them.
Who is to lead it?
Today's 'Guardian' reports that the axe is now almost certain to fall on Peter Sutherland from the board of The Royal Bank of Scotland. Hopefully Suds will depart from office with a measure of dignity; although given that the bank's share price has fallen by over 90% on his watch, there may be some small investors who picture him leaving The Royal Bank of Scotland like Arnold Vosloo at the end of 'The Mummy Returns'.
Yes indeed, Peter Sutherland, international panjandrum and plutocrat, one of the very few people who seem to have managed the feat of being both over-and under-employed at the same time, is just the fellow to lead Equality Through Security PLC; and he'll soon have time in his schedule to do it. Let us see the prospectus!
Altogether now -
MANDY! MANDY MANDY! OUT! OUT! OUT!