Monday, August 31, 2009

Caritas In Veritate Revisited

I read Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate' last night. To describe it as challenging is a transcendental understatement.
In the most polite and diplomatic Vaticanese, His Holiness goes through global capitalism, global capitalists, and their opponents like a dose of salts. Nothing and nobody is spared critique. Any economist stewing in their own orthodoxies' hypercorrectness and tempted to take him on should be aware that Joseph Ratzinger knows his economics so well that they will only make themselves look stupid if they try.
He does not appear to endorse any model, which may disappoint advocates of distributism, but declares instead the necessity of finding not a new model, but the right model; one which places the development of the whole person at its core.
Yet just when the conservatives have been whooping, cheering and high-fiving their way through the previous 79 pages, he says something which makes us stop short - indeed, should make us stop short, and seriously reflect on whether political conservatism is compatible wth orthodox Roman Catholicism. It left me reeling.
In Chapter Five, Paragraph 67, he writes,
"To manage the global economy; to revive economies hit by the crisis; to avoid any deterioration of the present crisis and the greater imbalances that would result; to bring about integral and timely disarmament, food security and peace; to guarantee the protection of the environment and to regulate migration; for all this, there is urgent need of a true world political authority."
This places him in direct opposition to both Chinese Communist chauvinism and American neconservative exceptionalism. It pits him against both the Scottish National Party and the United Kingdom Independence Party. And it pits him against Pat Buchanan as surely as it does against Fidel Castro.
This is an incredibly brave and bold thing for him to say; and one will have to reflect on one's own positions. After all, causa finita est.

The Enclosure Of The News

Thought for the day.
The BBC is a common good held in common by the British people.
Plutocracy's historic hatred of the British people gaining any benefit from any property they hold in common, from there being something from which it cannot profit, led first of all to the mass enclosures of the 18th Century, described by G. M. Trevelyan as 'the radicalism of the rich at the expense of the poor', and to the privatisations which started in the late 20th Century and which are still ongoing.
By attacking the BBC, Sunny Jim Murdoch has revealed that he wants to enclose the news media.
Discuss.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cherie Blair's Attacks On Catholic Teaching

The Scottish edition of today's 'Sunday Times' reports that the crystal-gazing human rights lawyer and prominent Catholic Cherie Blair has attacked Catholic teaching on contraception as not being in the interests of women who pursue careers (as a career non-careerist, I hope they eventually catch one). When brewed with lawyerly glibness, arrogance is toxic; Mrs. Blair's remark that '(i)f you look at the birth rates in France and Italy and Spain it seems that I might not be the only devout Catholic who likes to control her fertility' indicates that hers is lethal.
One had always thought being devout was not unlike being patriotic or entrepreneurial, a honour that should be bestowed upon you by others, and inappropriate to claim for yourself; but Mrs. Blair is obviously so achingly hip that she's in danger of needing a hip replacement, and need not concern herself with such conventions.
Membership of a corporate body requires adherence to its rules. Most corporate bodies' members possess enough self-discipline to adhere to the rules without prompting. However, if they will not impose discipline upon themselves then the body to which they belong must be able to impose discipline upon them.
In this regard, there is no difference between the Catholic Church and the Inns of Court. If Mrs. Blair is really interested in shaking things up and making a difference, such as reform of the laws on contempt of court, she could walk into the Old Bailey tomorrow and commit an act which could be considered contempt, get herself imprisoned for a couple of years and come to be hailed as a prisoner of conscience. But such an act would of necessity demand that she put herself at personal risk.
Not merely proclaiming your lack of self-discipline in being unable to follow the Church's teachings but actively flaunting your disregard for them, and stating your preference for the juvenile, hoary, barnacled gender nationalism of your youth called 'feminism', seems to indicate a lack of self-discipline which borders on being narcissistic.

The Funeral Of Edward M. Kennedy

Ted never did get round to answering his mail; although on that occasion history proved him right. The thought that I actually wrote that guff makes me shudder.
It is not known whether the flags over the Chivas Regal distillery in Paisley were lowered to half-mast on the news of Senator Kennedy's passing; but the TV coverage of his funeral seemed to indicate that his grandson Max Allen read a prayer of the faithful for the intention that President Obama's healthcare plan be passed. I could be entirely wrong. That is how I interpreted it.
Some folk can always be relied upon to snatch bad taste and embarrassment from the jaws of good taste and dignity. Even in death.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace; and may his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Amen.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dutch Courage

The decision of the Dutch authorities to intervene in Laura Dekker's life for her own well-being is absolutely correct, and should be applauded by all right-minded, right-thinking people.
No matter how skilled she might be, no matter if yachting equipment is now so sophisticated that crossing the Indian Ocean is less hazardous than crossing the street, no matter how liberal and emancipated her parents, a girl of 13 has no business sailing round the world on her own. To say anything else is suggestive of the onset of cabin fever. It's aggressive, narcissistic liberalism gone so barking mad that even the Dutch state says it's nuts.

Sunny Jim

Define irony.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton tirelessly dedicated his life and enormous energy to the advance of Christianity. For this, he was appointed Knight Commander of The Order of St. Gregory the Great.
Keith Rupert Murdoch has led a life dedicated to his own enrichment, debasing the culture by putting images of bare female breasts into family newspapers, always doing what the other guy won't in order to get ahead, imposing himself on the democratic process and generally epitomising Chesterton's observation on the British media that it did not have 'freedom from censorship of the press, but freedom of censorship by the press’. He is also a Knight Commander of The Order of St. Gregory the Great. Should he ever elect to flash his papal credentials, Keith would do well to remember that he holds the same rank as Sir Jimmy Savile - for whom a strong case can be made that his award is merited.
James Murdoch, The Roop's apparent heir apparent (and who also bears an astonishing resemblance to the actor David Hyde Pierce; compare, contrast, compare, contrast), has used the bully pulpit of a lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival to attack the competition, in his case, the BBC - Sunny Jim'll fix them, in a manner of speaking. He is clearly a very accomplished man; after all, to be appointed to a senior executive role in the company your father chairs in the face of what must have been incredibly stiff competition from the brightest and best business school graduates in the world indicates that the guy must really have what it takes.
Yet should thoughts of dynasty cloud his mind, he would do well to remember that the trouble with being a dynasty is that the young pretender really does need to be as good as the old man was, at all times and under all circumstances; and they're often hard acts to follow. Personally, the thought of another Murdoch appearing to use the power of the media they control to interfere in the public life of a country they have done very well out of is repugnant. It's among the best of all possible arguments against BBC reform.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

STOP (Some Thoughts On Populism)

Elitism is populism for rich people.
Being a populist, one has to admire the spirit of those Americans who have taken to holding townhall meetings at which their national representatives seem to have been receiving more direct critique than I can ever recall seeing before. This is true populism - the little people really getting in the face of those who run their lives, giving orders as opposed to taking them. And by God, don't the big guys hate it! Bring it on!
And yet, and yet, and yet...
It is an unfortunate truth that national populisms tend to clash. While believing that a dose of populism would be a worthy laxative for the constipated British body politic, populism should be an expression of love for one's fellow man, public recognition that we're all in the business of life together as moral and civic equals, and should thus always be tempered with respect for others. This is in direct distinction to elitism, which proceeds from the position that all men are not equal and do not deserve the same level of dignity and rights.
I only give this as an example, and I am sorry if the eyes of my very loyal American readers and friends glaze at this point, but are the guys at the townhalls primarily interested in rejuvenating the American republic and returning it to its founding principles, or do they only want to go back to the good old days of recent boom years? Do they want to roll the clock back to July 4th 1776, or to September 10th 2001?
If the former, good. Bravo and best wishes. If the latter...well, I'm not so sure. The spirit of the former would prove that populism could be successful without the need to involve itself in other nations' affairs. The spirit of the latter might prove the precise opposite - and would give credence and ammunition to the claims of the elitists, many of them so dangerous and malevolent themselves, that populism is inherently dangerous and malevolent.
The aims of populist uprisings (and in their own way, the townhalls can certainly be defined as uprisings, if only because the Establishment can't ignore them) must always be absolutely clear. They should be as much about respecting the right of the little guy next door, whether next door is next door, down the block, on the other side of the country or the other side of the world, to be able to get on with his life unmolested by anyone just as you want to get on with yours in the same way. As soon as that is understood and practiced, populism becomes not just a good thing; it also becomes a safe thing. Strange as it may seem to say, it might also then become one of the best hopes the world has ever had.

If In London...

The Career Of Daniel Hannan

This person seems to be just another bog-standard ideologue of freedom for the rich to prosper and for the poor to suffer, just another elitist who's led a life so cosseted he might as well have been bubble-wrapped at birth. He might not think he is, but that's certainly what he seems to be to me.
Why does anyone pay him any attention?

The Crimes Of James McColgan

If if it is true that one inmate in Polmont Young Offenders' Institution was able to assault and molest another for a period of nine hours without being disturbed, then the prison officers on shift at the time of the incident, the facility's governor and the chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service should all be summarily dismissed without compensation and with the loss of all pension rights, their pension pots forfeit in their entirety.
This seems to have been a catastrophic collapse in understanding of the concept of 'duties of care'; and threatening to deprive a Scot of what he thinks is his by right is still usually the best way of getting his attention.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pluralities And Benefices

In his marvellous book, 'How The Reformation Happened', Hilaire Belloc recounted how one of the Scottish Reformation's major drivers was public disgust at the clergy's abuse of benefices, often resulting in pluralities.
Those who had thought that pluralities and benefices had been swept away long ago should reflect on just what it is about Dr. Irwin Stelzer's opinions, what makes them so weighty and special, that they must be carried in both 'The Sunday Times' and 'The Daily Telegraph'. In the secular age, perhaps the gaining of a newspaper column means that one's tootsies are wedged in the Establishment's door, while gaining two can be considered a plurality.
Certainly, his column in today's 'Telegraph' regarding the likely consequences for UK - US relations flowing from Megrahi's release sounds rather too much like a 14th century beneficed boy cardinal threatening the serfs with damnation if they don't pay up their tithes for my taste. Ignorance may be bliss; but it's also embarrassing.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Avarice

It is odd to recall that until only a comparatively few years ago, the question of pay was never controversial.
It is only fair to say that the rewards the business class, many of whom seem most unbusinesslike and whose competence in a crunch has left one wondering whether they should be considered fit and proper people to be charged with the high and severe task of tying their own shoelaces, have given itself in recent times are entirely the consequence of an intellectual fashion. Lost 24 billion quid? Oh, er, boss, no column for that on the spreadsheet. No metrics to measure that one; but of course we still have to be incentivised to keep performing to such a high standard.
As Peter Abelard quite rightly remarked, 'fashion is the badge of the pimp'; yet sooner or later, everything goes out of style. Such rewards are incapable of being justified on the basis of competence or achievement. They have been the naked avarice of greedy men; men who equate the talent required to create great works of art, or to be able to play a sport to a professional level, with the cutting of costs and the throwing of thousands out of work. This is not merely immoral by any standard; it is perverse, incapable of rational explanation. After all, while Michangelo might have been well paid to paint 'The Last Judgment', one does not really think he was not also praising God in the process.
This madness is enabled by the legal fiction that limited liability joint stock companies should be invested with the same rights as flesh and blood human beings. Although many of those who use these vehicles are very upright and moral people, at root limited liability companies are a scam; a legal fiction designed to enable those who incur debt in order to pursue their dreams of financial gain to escape the consequences of their actions while leaving others out of pocket.
The mark of all religions is their priests' willingness to tell their followers how much they owe their god; Christianity, and specifically Roman Catholicism, only differs from the others in being true. On the other hand, neoliberal economics consistently show itself to be bog standard, with its insistent desire on telling all and sundry how we'd all be living in caves, naked, ignorant, starving and scratching our private parts, unless Ugg gets paid 600 times more than Ogg and is empowered to sack him at will because he has duties to the shareholders (Ogg, of course, sits around all day long, lazy, feckless, idle and stupid, doing absolutely nothing which might enable Ugg to earn his wage packet).
And the insolvency of joint stock companies creates dilemmas which might have baffled Shakespeare - when Shylock sought his pound of flesh, would he have settled for three pence in the pound?
Kicking avarice out the system is never going to happen this side of, oh, The Last Judgment; some fallen beings seem to quite like being fallen, and seem heartily disinclined to pick themselves up again. It is very strange that many of those who proclaim the merits of freedom of choice here on Earth are so disinclined to exercise their divinely ordained freedom of choice in order to try to get into Heaven. Yet there must be a better way than this; one not founded in the rambings of an epic Tourettist from Kirkcaldy, nor cooked up by a very disappointed man who spent way too much time in the library.
Until we find it, we shall be their earthly slaves; or so they think. Possessing knowledge of the truth and the hope of salvation, our hearts are more free than theirs will ever be.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Last Word On Lockerbie

Stop all the clocks, turn off the telephone, take 'Crimewatch' off the air and wind up 'Crimestoppers'.

The Tragedy of The Clipper Maid of the Seas continues to claim victims. One of its victims has been a Maltese shopkeeper named Tony Gauci, whose heroic response to the unbidden arrival of an almost cosmic kind of trouble on his doorstep has been to have his honesty and integrity impugned, actively and passively, by people with very much better bully pulpits than any he has had access to.

One of its future victims just might be a Scotsman who, as the result of perhaps the only principled decision taken by the soi-disant, ersatz 'Scottish Government', is now perhaps even more likely to be thrown to the wolves in order to keep the US State Department happy. Kenny MacAskill might not have had Gary McKinnon's fate in mind when he signed the release warrant; but that act's unintended and very likely real world consequence could be to help ensure that should the FBI ever get its hands on that naive and unworldly man, he will have any number of books thrown at him.

Tony Gauci identified Megrahi as the purchaser of clothing found wrapped around the bomb. His honesty and integrity have been impugned without fear of consequences because he was paid oh, oodles and oodles of dollars.

Yet the fact that he was paid does not of itself compromise the value of his evidence in any way. If it did, every conviction obtained for which 'Crimestoppers' has offered a reward should be considered unsafe. Anyone suggesting that in public? No.

His honesty and integrity have been impugned because he picked out Megrahi from an identity parade after having seen his picture in a newspaper which identified him as the person suspected of the Lockerbie bombing. I'm a bit rusty, I know, but I was unaware that the Scottish law of evidence contains a blanket ban forbidding potential witnesses to read newspapers. If it does, this would be a dramatic extension of the law that would surely have been the subject of comment in the media. Then again, I never was the world's most interested lawyer; maybe I missed it.

If this alone renders Megrahi's conviction unsafe, then every conviction obtained through the medium of Crimewatch, whether through its salacious crime-porn dramatisations or by the appeals of the photogenic WPC's saying breathlessly that 'This is X of Glasgow, and Strathclyde Police wish to interview him in relation to, etc', usually with the suspect's photograph filling the screen, must also be considered unsafe. Anyone seriously suggesting that? No. Again, I didn't think so.

Tony Gauci's sanity seems to be have been questioned by Lord Fraser of Carmyllie. This seems harsh, if only because I would have no idea just how going from being a small shopkeeper in Malta one day to finding myself as the star witness against an international terrorist the next would affect my own equilibrium. If Mr. Gauci's equilibrium has become unbalanced, it's possibly the result of the very great strain he would have been placed under - through volunteering to help Lord Fraser of Carmyllie.

He is alleged to have changed his story several times. Oh, he's obviously a paid perjurer!

Well, no, not necessarily, and those who accuse him of inconsistency should consider the following; it might also apply to them. The nature of my illness is such that there are times when I meet lots of new doctors. While the history I tell each of them is substantially the same, there are always minor differences. I forget one detail at one consultation, and another at the next. That does not mean that the history I'm providing is unreliable in its totality - that's just the normal operation of fallible human memory. That's why judges and juries must assess whether the evidence before them is credible and reliable; tests which the witness Gauci in the case of Her Majesty's Advocate -v- Al-Megrahi seems to have passed with flying colours.

Tony Gauci has done nothing to anyone other than have the life he had previously known ended by telling the truth. If the treatment he has received from the Scottish and British establishments has been anything to go by, it would not be surprising if he attempted to discourage everyone he knows from standing as a witness in a Scottish prosecution. If he did, I would only be able to applaud. The treatment he has received has been disgusting, and like all good witnesses, he's never answered back. For what he has done for us, for what he has given up for us, Tony Gauci deserves a medal and the public thanks of a grateful Scottish nation. He will never receive either. Wherever he is in the world now, he has my best wishes.

One wonders whether he also has the best wishes of Dr. Jim Swire. Dr. Swire apparently believes in Megrahi's innocence. He is free to believe this if he wishes, just as one is free to believe that the Moon is made of green cheese, and that the cow can jump over it, if one is so inclined. As my atheist friends, many of whom struggle with belief, keep telling me, you can believe anything you like; but that doesn't make it true.
He is now calling for a public inquiry. On 30 November 2000, he was quoted in 'The Guardian' as saying of Megrahi's trial at The High Court in The Netherlands that,
"We didn't come here looking for convictions or acquittals. We came expecting the court to decide ... and to get to the truth".
If Dr. Swire attended a criminal trial expecting it to deliver anything other than either a conviction or an acquittal, he was always going to be disappointed. Scottish criminal trials are not fishing expeditions. If he thought that a properly constituted Scottish criminal court, even one sitting in extraordinary circumstances and in the full glare of the world's media, would deviate from its function of determining the guilt or innocence of the accused on the basis of the evidence presented to it, one has to wonder whether he properly understood the nature of the process. Convictions and acquittals are what criminal justice is all about.
As someone who's spent quite a bit of their life in and around the law of Scotland, studying it, practicing it indifferently and talking about it, the aspect of the case which most disturbs me - and yes, I have to say most angers me - is the constant fuelling of the suspicion that Senators of the College of Justice, a body which only dates from, oh, 1532, just might have been the prime movers in a giant, multi-tentacled conspiracy to actively deny justice to an accused person. In 'The Spectator' of 17th August 2002, the country house Communard Tam Dalyell, by my calculations perhaps a near contemporary of Dr. Swire's at Eton, remarked that - well, as I wrote at the time -
"In the 'Spectator' of 17th August, Dalyell reports that the three trial judges reached an "absurd conclusion", and that the appeal judges "cannot have been unmindful" that sustaining the appeal "would have made the Scottish legal process the laughing-stock of the world".
(And many thanks to Jaco Strauss for keeping that piece online for so long).
The views Dalyell expressed in 2002 should be contrasted with those he aired in an error-riddled rant in 'The Scottish Mail on Sunday' of 16th August 2009; one which does not appear on that newspaper's website, but which Professor Robert Black has kindly transcribed onto his blog -
"I acquit the Scottish judges Lord Sutherland, Lord Coulsfield and Lord MacLean at Megrahi's trial of being subject to pressure, though I am mystified as to how they could have arrived at a verdict other than 'Not Guilty' -or at least 'Not Proven'"
I'm sure Their Lordships will all sleep better at night for having been acquitted by Tam Dalyell - but the idea that not one but three judges could have suffered a catastrophic loss of competence in the same place at the same time, without possessing even the limited excuse of having had the official arm put on them, and that their mates then covered up for them in order to stop every man Jack and Jill of them all from looking like a shower of wallies, is just nonsense; green biro, tinfoil hat nonsense of the most pernicious kind.
It is actively pernicious because it serves no purpose other than to undermine public confidence in the Scottish judiciary, intentionally or otherwise. For all of the law of Scotland's legion faults - the laws on the collection of municipal debt still remain barbarically mid-Victorian, for example, a state of affairs which a decade of devolution has done nothing to improve - Scotland's judges are clean. They have always been clean. I cannot bring myself to believe anything else; and for anything else to be said is, in my opinion, mischief-making. Dalyell's late father in law was once Scotland's second highest-ranking judge. Perhaps there is merit in the maxim that familiarity breeds contempt. It's certainly just as credible as stories of messages put on bulletin boards in the US Embassy in Moscow. That one has the distinctive pong of the 'No Dogs or Irish' canard about it. Evidence, please.
The now dead country house Communard Paul Foot had a hand in preventing the families of the Lockerbie victims from having peace of mind - as his mistaken and obsessive belief in the innocence of James Hanratty proved, this was something of a footprint. Foot, the product of the British establishment's most airless upper heights, was a professional thorn in that same establishment's side, through the bully pulpit of his investigative journalism in 'Private Eye'. One of his obituarists, I can't remember who and I can't be bothered finding out, noted that whenever he uncovered some factual clincher enabling him to publicise the misdeeds of someone usually less well-educated and less well-connected than himself, he would shout 'We've got the bastards!' Although he did good work, and yes, there are people who are now at liberty because of his efforts, Paul Foot was not always right. Perhaps those who practice investigative journalism are more prone to obsessiveness and monomania, more prone to an obsessive belief in the truth of their own beliefs, than the rest of us. In the case of Pan Am Flight 103, he didn't get the bastards; the Dumfries & Galloway Police got the bastard. Case closed.
Unless, of course, it was all a conspiracy; nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean? With some obsessives, there will always be one last bastard to get.
Now, there will be those who read this and think, 'Ah, Kelly, he's just a creature of the Scottish legal establishment! He's just an apologist! He's just a yes man!' To which one can only reply that those who say such things have no absolutely no idea as to the nature of my relationship with the Scottish legal establishment (precisely none at the moment, a state of affairs I am quite comfortable with and would be happy if it continued indefinitely), and that if I am a yes man, I am the least well paid yes man in the yes man business. Somebody throw me a brown envelope stuffed with untraceable used banknotes! Please!
In a way, one almost feels sorry for Kenny MacAskill. Almost. A sock-puppet with a skean dhu stuffed in it is still a sock, of course; yet the decision that The Copfighter-General had to take regarding Megrahi's release could not have been an easy one, and for just about the only time in his political career he'll get the benefit of the doubt from this quarter that a decision he has made has been right. He might have botched it by going to see Megrahi in prison; but I don't think he did. Scottish civic nationalism is not renowned for its principles - the SNP's preposterous adoption of the title 'The Scottish Government' to describe its minority devolved Scottish Executive is a particularly egregious case in point - yet when it was forced to act on principle, to stand up for the law of Scotland, it did. Faced with an impossibly high profile convict, medical reports from hell, Hillary Clinton, the Libyans, Christine Grahame putting in her typically vocal and unhelpful tuppenceworth and the sure and certain knowledge that the press and his political opponents would crucify him whatever he did, he took a difficult decision which under the law of Scotland only he could make. You might not agree with him (and I do agree with him - the TV images from Tripoli seem to show quite clearly that Megrahi is very unwell); but what he did took guts.
It is a pity that some still feel compelled to keep asking questions about what happened that night. One wouldn't ever wish to deprive them of their right to do so, of course, no matter how foolish and undignified they might make themselves look by so doing. Yet one cannot help but feel that such persistent questioning is rooted from a desire to know which is insatiable, incapable of ever being satisfied. No matter how many police man-hours went into the investigation; no matter how delicate and complicated the diplomacy that went into the suspect being surrendered for trial; no matter how public the trial and well-resourced the defence, there will always be some who will not believe the evidence in front of their eyes - that Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi blew up The Clipper Maid of The Seas; and dropped his appeal, never the actions of an innocent man no matter how ill, in order to return to Libya. He did it, and proved he can live with it. It's a pity that others can't.

The Funniest Thing I Read Today

"A Glaswegian - and one who still carries with him something of the menace of that city's pubs..."
Today's dead tree 'Sunday Times's' description of Professor Niall Ferguson, the double-bass playing Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and sometime self-described 'fully paid-up member of the neo-imperialist gang', in a passage snipped from the online version.
No, he doesn't really, you know.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Interim Lib

Well, that was so excruciating I wanted the sofa to swallow me the way Johnny Depp's did in 'A Nightmare on Elm Street'.
The sight of Kenny MacAskill, 'Cabinet Secretary for Justice' and Lord High Copfighter-General of Scotland, cranking through his public statement like a petrified second-year trainee solicitor making their first plea in mitigation in front of a disinterested stipendiary magistrate at Glasgow District Court, or a ham actor plodding his way through a potboiler at Pittenweem Rep., was too much to bear. Thank God for the Scottish cringe, because if I hadn't cringed and switched him off, I might not have survived much longer. I'm almost glad that Megrahi has been freed, if only to bring that horribly written, badly delivered speech to an end.
I will be revisiting this subject in a big way over the next few days; stay tuned. No sacred cow will go unslaughtered.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Many Thanks...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Prayer Request

The Beast In Me is growling. All help in keeping it in its cage greatly appreciated.

Some Thoughts On Senator Edward M. Kennedy's Intervention In The Lockerbie Case

There is something disturbing about seeing a man who by rights should probably have gone to jail for killing someone wishing to see another remain imprisoned.

A Suggestion Regarding The Obesity Epidemic Amongst The British Poor

The British digestive tract has presumably developed in such a way that it can process the traditional British diet of red meat and green vegetables.
Accordingly, it might not digest curry sauce, pasta or the fodder disguised as watered-down processed poultry as efficiently as the previous indigenous diet. The consumption of such materials (I hesitate to call them foodstuffs) leaves the consumer unsatisfied; perhaps unsurprising, given that their body is looking for something else. Accordingly, those who eat them need to eat more than those who do not.
It's not dissimilar to the act of putting unleaded petrol into a diesel engine. The wrong fuel gets you nowhere.
Even with the providence of the supermarKKKets, a constant basic diet of red meat and green vegetables is well beyond the purse of a low-income, two-wage British household like mine; and there are only two of us here, no nippers to feed as well. Many of those who decry obesity are well-paid at our expense. It would be interesting to see just what foodstuffs they put into themselves and their families. I would bet that even when they think they are cooking adventurously, they are using ingredients that their bodies are programmed to handle.
The chicken nugget is capitalism's injunction to the people to 'Eat Shit And Die' - quite literally. It is not a foodstuff. It is a weapon of class war.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

News From The Cruise Liners

Yesterday's Scottish 'Daily Mail' reported that The Rt. Hon. The Lord Steel of Aikwood, father of the Abortion Act 1967 and the Widow Twanky of Scottish politics, has been giving lectures on classic cars on the cruise liner the 'Thomson Spirit' sailing out of Harwich.
The tale of how a former Baby of The House and impassioned radical who fathered the most pernicious piece of legislation that the United Kingdom has ever seen, a true weapon of mass destruction, could now be playing the cruise liners while John Prescott, viciously mocked by Nicholas Soames for having been a ship's steward but who still ended up as Deputy Prime Minister, is worthy of Edna Ferber. It's the only kind of story she ever wrote.
Who knows, the noble lord might end up in pantomime yet.

Channelling Ian Fleming

The embarrassment caused to British naval intelligence by the 'Arctic Sea' incident makes one wonder just what titles Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, would have to give his books if he were writing them today.
'Dr. No' would presumably become 'Dr. Yes, Sir, Go Right On Through'.
'The Man With The Golden Gun' would be 'The Man With The Golden Checklist Of Health & Safety Do's And Don'ts'.
'Goldfinger' would be renamed 'Butterfingers'.
'Caught With A View To The Kill' would be 'Caught Watching 'The Bill'' (Bondista purists need not write in saying that this is not one of the novels, but a short story).
'Live And Let Die' would be 'Live, And, Oh, Heck, Anything For A Quiet Life'.
'On Her Majesty's Secret Service' would be 'What's Her Majesty's Secret Service Doing?'
And Thunderball...well that would just have to be 'Thunderous Balls Up'.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Dying To Vote

The comment reported by Lindsey Hilsum on last night's Channel 4 News, that the Taliban are threatening to cut off every finger marked with a voting stain, brings to mind some observations I made in an article called 'Neoconservatism and Democracy', oh, the best part of five years ago now.
That British men and women are dying so that Afghans can have their fingers amputated by Granddad is a sick joke. Afghanistan is neither a nation nor a country - it is an ASBO with a flag.

Political Gang Warfare On The Public Revisited

The always thoughtful John Harris has a piece in today's 'Guardian' on how the adoption of primaries will only mean the further advance of plutocracy. It's hard to disagree with him.
Like proportional representation, which is nothing but gang warfare perpetrated by the parties on the public, primaries sound like a great idea; but they only exist to find the most electable candidate for the party, not the best candidate to serve the people.
Take the parties out of the equation, and they become redundant. They are just another mechanism by which the parties can keep going on life-support.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Few More Thoughts On Lockerbie

The idea of Hillary Clinton telephoning Kenny MacAskill in order to, and I suppose the correct verb is order, him not to release Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi produces the wonderful image of two people with deeply unpleasant public images fighting over a third.
One can only imagine The Copfighter-General's reaction when he heard that the USA's Secretary of State, a former First Lady, was on the phone - and wanted to talk to him. As they might still say in Edinburgh - 'Gardyloo!'
It will be interesting to see just how the soi-dissant, ersatz 'Scottish Government' reacts to this unwarranted intervention is what is now solely an internal Scottish matter. Did The Copfighter-General enquire of the Secretary of State just where and when she obtained credentials in Scottish law of sufficient calibre to enable her to hold forth on Scottish penal policy? Did he mention the Clinton Administration's policy of solving the crime problem through the construction of 'Supermax' prisons, or as reasonable people could describe it, shovelling people into warehouses and throwing away the keys? Did he enquire just why American black men are still very much more likely to be incarcerated than whites?
Did he venture the suggestion that the USA has circumvented the kind of difficulties that Scotland encountered with the Lockerbie case through the use of 'extraordinary rendition', otherwise known as kidnapping? Meanings that people who live in glass White Houses shouldn't really throw stones?
Did he take the chance to put in a good word for his fellow Scot Gary McKinnon?
Did he send her homeward, tae think again?
Or was he thinking of just how badly an ill word from Hillary Clinton could affect next year's 'Tartan Week', which his boss The Tartanissimo loves so very much? Or just how badly another ill word could affect his devolved executive's flagship 'Homecoming 2009' tourism drive? Just one little ill word from the Secretary of State, and the only person who'll be going home in 2009 is a Libyan.
However, one is glad to see that somebody is at last standing up for Scottish law. Paul McBride QC has very rightly criticised MacAskill's decision to visit Megrahi in prison, particularly when he still has a role to play in determining whether the prisoner will be released; an entirely exceptional and unwarranted happening.
According to the 'Sunday Times' Scotland', Dr. Jim Swire is thinking of suing the Crown Office in relation to its conduct of the case. As Dr. Swire might be thinking of putting the taxpayers to the time and expense of having to defend themselves, the taxpayer are entitled to remind Dr. Swire that they will have the right to seek their expenses from him should he lose. In Scotland, these can be prohibitive.

Commisserations

Today's Scottish 'Mail on Sunday' has published a report that might have given this blog's old friend Osama Saeed - you remember, the chap who became an SNP candidate nine months after telling me that he had no intention of seeking office - a bit of a headache.
Turns out his Scottish Islamic Foundation has had to pay back a whopping £128,000 of the £200,000 it received from the soi-dissant, ersatz 'Scottish Government' in order to organise an event at the SECC called 'IslamFest'. Alas, when the time came for the ceremonial writing of dates into diaries, it transpired that hopes of 'IslamFest' taking place in 2009 were as ethereal as a desert mirage.
Och well, better luck next time. It's not quite, 'Next Year in Jerusalem'; more like 'Next Year in Finnieston - Inshallah!'

The Thoughts Of Michael Portillo

The former Conservative cabinet minister Michael Portillo has published what to these eyes is a particularly disgusting rant against the British people, claiming that we are fat and lazy; in his words, 'soft and selfish'.
It covers much the same ground as Correlli Barnett's 'The Lost Victory'; yet without complimenting Barnett, it bears as much relationship to that book as a slice of turkey ham does to an 18-inch steak.
If we are fat, it is because we have to eat the over-salted swill, little better than fodder, that now passes for affordable food. For many British people, the concept of having choice in food means nothing but an arbitrage between competing brands of packaged swill. The British diet used to consist of red meat and green vegetables; now, it is processed chicken, stuffed with more antibiotics than a branch of Boots and saturated with enough water to flood Boscastle, and oven-ready chips, each one a cardiac Scud missile, heart-attack bombs in a box. This is nothing to do with personal taste. This is a direct consequence of 35 years of stagnating wages and the age-old abject surrender of the food supply's management to the private sector.
If we are lazy, it is because we are exhausted by working the longest hours in Europe, too much of which is taxed to provide Portillo with his pension. No wonder we drink.
The British must be the only apparently free people in the world who are forced to listen to those passed off in front of them as intellectuals constantly putting them down. The fact that Portillo is able to say such things without much fear of consequences is that despite being fat and lazy, and not having suffered as much as other peoples in World War Two, we are at heart a peaceful people, often in the face of the gravest provocation.
As I munch on my dinner, wondering whether it's going to kill me now or kill me later, I really do rather hope that's going to continue.

The 'Arctic Sea' Incident

Excuse me for asking, but where the bloody hell was the Royal Navy? They should know the details and provenance of every ship going through that channel, down to the precise location of the Third Officer's intimate birthmark; they should not be waiting like good Europeans for Hans and Uli at Interpol to let them know that a ship has been hijacked less than 300 miles from British waters, only to find out it's the one they've just waved through like a lollipop lady guiding a troupe of idiot children across the road. Is stopping this kind of thing not what we pay them to do? Or is instructing the Iraqi Navy's nascent Sinbads in the merits of gender equality somehow more important? Have they no pride in what they do?
An admiral should be demoted to stoker for this - pour encourager les autres.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Release Of Megrahi

Yesterday, I wrote a long and exceptionally pungent piece concerning the release of Megrahi. I didn't publish it. I might yet.
The news that he is abandoning his appeal should hopefully give those who proclaim their belief in his innocence some pause for thought, and give them leave to consider another possibility - that he's a mass-murderer. This is a very comfortable position for me to take, because it's what I've believed all along.
Innocent men don't chuck their appeals - unless, of course, they know they're guilty to begin with.

George Osborne, A Man With His Finger On The Pulse

"....we need a much more responsible and properly regulated banking system. You cannot privatise the gains and socialise the loss in the way that has happened" -
"...the notion that profit is private and loss public and social is a precise re-statement of the definition of Italian fascist economic theory provided by Gaetano Salvemini in 1935." -

Hasta La Vista, Baby

Spain's new democratic hidalgos redefine the question of conscience.

St. Ignatius Loyola, pray for them!

The Times They Are A-Changin'

An elderly man named Robert A. Zimmerman has found it quite difficult to go for a walk without being hassled by the cops.

Daniel Hannan

As a regular user of the NHS, my own experience of it is that is no more or less bureaucratic or inefficient than any of the international companies for which I have worked. It is a large organisation, and suffers the problems of all large organisations.
It is not perfect. All things being equal, waiting lists are longer than one would like. Having been on them often enough, this is something of which I have a great deal of experience.
Yet the NHS also excels. It can be very good at addressing immediate and urgent need. When a patient's body rejects the stent which has just been placed in her heart, the NHS is very good at getting a professor of cardiology out of his bed at four in the morning to come and fix the problem.
Seven years later, the patient in question is still doing well.
Perhaps the real reason for the bald blow-in's invective against the NHS is that it represents something that his cold-eyed, cold-hearted, vicious ideology of personal gain cannot suffer - a service which is owned by the people and which by and large benefits the people. To those such as Hannan, nothing can be left in public hands.
It's all so very 1986.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Dislike of Katherine Heigl

The Elect

Being a former BBC Scotland journalist seems to be the only factor uniting both the Conservative and SNP candidates in the Glasgow North East by-election.
It is sometimes good for the people to know who their masters are.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Because You're Worth It

The recent scandals in banking and Parliament have shown quite clearly that those who pay themselves vast sums are not worth it, the sin of pride once more doing its evil work on a catastrophic scale in order to satisfy the egos of stupid men.
Such financial gluttony, such gorging of the self from the common table, is justified by economic theory. As time passes, one has come to believe that the quasi-religious pseudo-science of economics, the basis of which is self-interest, cannot co-exist with political systems based on the will of the majority. One or the other will have to go. Since the end of the Cold War, the aim of policy seems to have been to marginalise politics. History may show this to be have been a two decade long losing bet on a lame horse. If economics attempts to assert itself over politics, it will have a fight on its hands.
The banking failure was one of regulation. Regulation, the idea that economic actors are accountable to others for their actions, must justify what they do the scum, the herd, the little people, is a sin against economic theory. This is why it has been actively circumvented by defenders of plutocracy often up to behaviours which the reasonable man could reasonably describe as corruption. In an ideal world, those lawyers who engaged in 'regulatory capture' would lose their practicing certificates and be struck off the rolls wherever they are. The time for apologising for economics is long past. Time now for appearances before disciplinary tribunals and exemplary sentences.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Job Advert Of The Day

Chuck Baldwin asks some quite searching questions about why such vacancies should suddenly seem to have arisen.

Monday, August 10, 2009

'You Can Defeat People Without Killing Them'

The thoughts of Lord Mandelson, such as they are.

Hanging Hired Guns

The news that a British hired gun in the pay of ArmorGroup may be hanged if convicted of murder in Baghdad brings to mind the recollection that his employers used to be chaired by Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG, QC, MP, sometime Foreign Secretary and staunch critic of the invasion of Iraq.

He shouldn't be short of legal advice. On 500 quid a day, he might even be able to afford it.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Vestas, The Way Of The Future

The siege of Vestas has been lifted, and the bailiffs have moved in to perform that most historic British duty - to evict the squatters preventing the masters from getting what they want.
One wonders how long it will be before the old law, whereby a servant could only sue the master for breach of contract whereas the master could prosecute the servant, is returned to the statute book.
As time passes, and one realises one might make oneself anathema for saying so, the more ambivalent one also becomes to the United Kingdom's armed forces. Not to those who serve in them, of course, but to the mindset in which they are trained. They fight 'For Queen and Country'; and with a sense of foreboding, one feels that if their fellow citizens were to present a perceived threat to the security of either queen or country, the British armed forces would somehow feel less compunction about following shoot to kill orders directed against their neighbours than would Americans in similar circumstances.
The question of whether Peter Mandelson feels any sense of shame could provide psychiatric historians with enough material for 12 volumes - yet it was just a few days ago that one realised that he seems to have no sense of honour. Even as recently as 30 years ago, if a Cabinet minister resigned in disgrace he would retire to the back benches and stay there - they would consider it to be the honourable thing to do.
Mandelson has been disgraced twice. The word 'disgraced' is not too strong to describe the circumstances which led to both his evictions from Downing Street's Big Brother house. It is possible to be both shameless and honourable - the good whore is one of bad literature's stock characters.
Yet Mandelson's continued thumbing of his nose at convention, this time by again holidaying with a Rothschild while his fellow countrymen are enduring tough times as a direct consequence of policies he has been at the centre of, shows him to have no sense of honour. He doesn't realise how bad this looks, for he doesn't care how bad it looks. It's what he wants, and nobody is going to stop him. The people have had enough of our politicians, those whose wages we pay, cavorting with the rich in their playgrounds. A man with a sense of honour would understand this - having none himself, Mandelson clearly does not. Without a sense of honour, a sense that one has a reputation that must be upheld, one can have no sense of responsibility; a sense that it's up to you preserve your good name.
As Mandelson himself might say, his lips twisted in the mocking sneer of the elites, 'What's that?'

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Logic Of Tariq Ramadan

"The arguments that locate Turkey outside European history and geography cannot withstand analysis. For more than four centuries the Ottoman empire shared and shaped the political and strategic future of the continent. During the late 19th and early 20th century, it became the "sick man of Europe". Even today, Turkey's historical and economic influence continues to be substantial."
And not always positive, either. Yet the logic, such as it is, that would seem to illuminate that statement is itself illuminating.
The pesky thing about the Ottomans was that they were an empire. They conquered people. They were outsiders who moved in. They did not belong to the land, but stole it. Claiming that Turkey should be part of the European Union on the basis of Ottoman history is like claiming that Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Portugal belong in the Organisation of African States.
The double irony, of course, is that Ramadan is a Swiss national - he is advocating a policy for others, but not himself.
Alpha Plus for effort, Epsilon Double Minus for achievement.

It's All About Wages. It's Always All About Wages

"In the Thatcher recession of the 1980s, when unemployment rose from 5.3 per cent of the working population in 1979 to 11.9 per cent (3.3 million people) in 1984, the London stockmarket did not merely rise in every one of those years, it jumped for joy: 4.3 per cent up in 1979, 27.1 per cent in 1980, 7.2 per cent in 1981, 22.1 per cent in 1982, 23.1 per cent in 1983 and 26.0 per cent in 1984.

This, I'm afraid, is the pachyderm in the parlour. Over those six years, while unemployment was more than doubling, the stockmarket followed suit – and with good reason. The massive shakeout of labour enabled management to restructure businesses and slash costs. Profitability was restored at many companies that had been dismissed by investors as industrial dodos. I suspect we may be about to experience something similar."
They want you broken, face down in the dust. One more article like this, and he'll be up on a charge of inciting populism.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Digitally Altered Photographs

An Old Post Revisited

Vladimir Putin's latest shot round the block at walking round with his shirt off brings this post from December 2008 back to mind.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Roll Up! Roll Up! Hold Out Your Arm, And Pray The Needle Doesn't Sting!

The writer has long believed that while those who created and executed the New Labour Project were attending anti-apartheid demonstrations in the 1970's and 1980's, they were not doing so in opposition to the South African regime - they were in fact studying its methods.
A report submitted to the Welsh Assembly has suggested the abolition of free bus passes for the elderly on the grounds of cost. A defining feature of most revolutions is that they usually throw up at least one attractive, charismatic figure whose name is remembered long after they are dead. In having failed to do so thus far, the neoliberal revolution has been unique - it was the revolution of the chartered accountants.
The report's authors might think it's better for elderly people to stay at home, the sores on their legs getting bigger all the time, than to enjoy the limited independence afforded by a free bus pass. Taking away the bus pass would be a form of public transport apartheid, the hated Pass Laws of apartheid-era South Africa becoming the Bus Pass Laws of the Welsh Assembly; being themselves unsustainable over the long term, it is presumably illogical to believe that the elderly should be interested in environmentally sustainable activities.
Roll up your sleeve, Grandad. It's for your own good.
Being largely disinterested in philosophy, I was struck by the conundrum thrown up by the statement 'people must be allowed to die as they wish'. If this is true, then this must apply to all activities which a human being can undertake at all stages of the human timeline. Accordingly, it should be the case that all people must be allowed to be born as they wish. Any takers?
And while one has some sympathy for his loss, there is something grossly distasteful about a rabbi turning a series of anecdotes about his wife's death into a justification for assisted suicide on the basis that some lives have no 'meaning'. Way too many bad echoes.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Mandelson

Let us assume for a moment that the libertarians' dystopic vision of a nightmare future, where they live in a totalitarian state and the law refuses to validate every single one of their preferences, has come to pass.
In such a future, there would be at least one Englishman, who while being led away, head shaved and sewn into lousy pyjamas, would mutter that it was the result of a cock-up, not a conspiracy.
Let us hope, for their sake, that I am not chained to them; for they would get the piece of my mind that they deserve.
The chat regarding Peter Mandelson's possible return to the House of Commons and accession to the leadership of the Labour Party is really heating up. One wonders whether what we are seeing is the result of a thousand flying kites, or else the warm-up act for a constitutional fait accompli.
Whichever way it plays, it is likely to result in the further empowerment of an unwholesome man with a bad record in office and poor judgement in friends. This is not good for us. There must be someone else capable of leading the country to a better future. While Lord Mandelson might wish to cast his bread upon the waters, it's now so stale that you wouldn't feed it to the ducks.

Organ Donation

One would have thought that one of the easiest ways of doing so would be to increase the number of organs in circulation. One way of doing this would be to end the abortion holocaust.
Any takers? No, thought not.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Whistling In The Gathering Dark

While the death of Sir Bobby Robson is, of course, very sad for his family and his fans, it did not really deserve to knock the British state's continued shafting of Gary McKinnon off the top slot on the news.
The Home Secretary's abdication of his duty of care towards Mr. McKinnon is oddly reminiscent of a sight last seen in the movie 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' - that of a weasel with a knife in its paws.
He argues that,
"Some have argued that McKinnon’s case shows the law is wrong — that British citizens are at the mercy of an unjust extradition act and subsequent treaty with the United States. I disagree. The 2003 Extradition Act replaced the cumbersome existing legislation that simply couldn’t respond fast enough in an age where crime is increasingly indifferent to national borders."
The fact that his government has created this situation through its pursuit of the 'Globalisation In One Country' policy seems to have escaped his attention. He continues,
"Without it we couldn’t have implemented the European arrest warrant, without which it is unlikely that Hussein Osman could have been speedily extradited from Italy following his involvement in the failed terrorist attacks of July 21, 2005."
Hussein Osman set out to kill people because they weren't Muslims. Gary McKinnon sat in his bedroom looking for evidence of the existence of UFO's, and did the US Department of Defence a favour in the process. Given that he did not seem to have hacked into any network operated by the British state, whether he could be said to have committed any offence at all under British law has not been made clear.
With the greatest respect to American readers and friends, this is American imperialism at its worst. A vulnerable British man in Britain is being toasted by 'Atlanticists' too scared to tell Washington to take a three-cornered flying one to itself, the whole course of action the result of a stupid law whipped through a supine Parliament by a government led by the most vile, nastiest Prime Minister the country has ever had - a collaborator with imperium, the sort of guy the French shot in the street in 1945.
But The Postman Always Rings Twice. He continues,
"In making their case against the act, critics like to point out that more people have been extradited to the United States from the UK than vice versa. It is true. Between 2004 and 2008, 59 people were extradited from this country to America and 30 the other way. But what does this signify when the numbers are so small?"
That the Extradition Act 2003 is such manure that you could lay it on concrete and grow a crop of potatoes, for a start. Don't bother about the torture that unjustified extradition would heap on a vulnerable man - the numbers are small. Probably won't even need to put a box for it on the spreadsheet.
But the next bit is just classic -
"Would they equally argue that the act is unbalanced in favour of the UK over Spain because, in the same time frame, we have extradited only 27 people over there and they have sent 104 back?"
That could have something to do with us having imported more Spaniards of the calibre of Juan Carlos Crispin than having exported Brits of similar standing; a trend which resulted in bloggers pointing out the catastrophic scale of the UK's problem with foreigner perpetrated crime long before the government got round to it.
Given that this Act was passed (what an apposite verb!) after the action which Mr. McKinnon is accused of actually took place, one would have thought that that chronology might have afforded him a measure of legal protection. But apparently not; which is bad news for all bloggers who one day decide to pass negative comment on American policy, and end up facing extradition proceedings once Obama decides to label criticism of his administration as hate speech.
To my mind, it also makes Gary McKinnon the victim of retrospective legislation. But hell, Tony was a pretty straight kind of guy. Pity he doesn't get out much these days.
Och well, I'll probably have been euthanised first; Debby Purdy's seen to that, with the blessing of that peroxided old barbarian Margo McDonald.
In the shell of one of the type of nuts that seem to be all over the place these days, Ms. Purdy shares her life with a gentleman named Omar Puente. Although some newspapers describe them as being married, others describe them as partners. Mr. Puente appears to be a Cuban national. If the law relating to the prosecution of those who assist suicide is reversed, the risk of Mr. Puente's deportation to Cuba would appear to be consequently lessened.
Regular readers, those who have stayed loyal during recent hiatuses, should be sensitive to the fact that I am very frightened of the current push towards assisted suicide. While not fearing death, I don't want to be murdered; which is what my euthanasia would be. In the circumstances, I feel myself entitled to ask whether Debby Purdy is pursuing this course of legal action to ensure her man can stay in the UK once they take The Long Walk To Zurich.
I can understand why she might want to have the right to top herself if she is in pain, although the classic if unstylish option of swallowing a bottle of sleeping pills with a whisky chaser is on the table for her any time she wants; but for British law to be changed in a way that allows her to be put down like a lame horse, to end her life in a manner with all the dignity of a dead goldfish swirling down the bowl, while putting vulnerable British people at risk for the convenience of a foreigner is intolerable.
Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, McDonald was quoted in the Scottish Daily Mail of July 31 as saying 'I'm delighted for the Purdys'. Shows how much she knows. In her adopted city of Edinburgh, however, death is probably a better alternative to being cared for by the likes of Joseph Sinja.
The convenience of foreigners now seems to be the driving force behind all major areas of British domestic policy. In a move which hasn't been seen in the British Isles since about 1690 at least, the management at Vestas might have resorted to the classical tactics of medieval siege warfare to end the ongoing dispute.
Starving the serfs out, pardon, ending a workforce occupation through coercive methods before its legality has been determined by the proper authorities is the sort of thing that you think you can pull if you don't really know the lie of the land (previous generations of Danes might be going berserk in Valhalla at the thought of their descendants not being familiar with conditions on the south coast of England); or else your security is being provided by a 2 for the price of 1 squad of Latvians who might not understand that you can't really do that sort of thing here - for the time being, at least.
The only light relief that seems to be about is Scotland's unceasing ability to produce stupid criminals; of whom Mark Scobbie is a classic of the breed.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

A Short Thought For Those On The Right Who Complain About The Cost Of The Welfare State And Slander Claimants

"According to Gregory King over one million persons, nearly a fifth of the whole nation, were in occasional receipt of alms, mostly in the form of public relief paid by the parish. The poor-rate was a charge of nearly £800,000 a year on the country and rose to a million in the reign of Anne. There was seldom any shame felt in receiving outdoor relief, and it was said to be given with a mischievous profusion. Richard Dunning declared that in 1698 the parish dole was often three times as much as a common labourer, having to maintain a wife and three children, could afford to expend upon himself; and that persons once receiving outdoor relief refuse ever to work, and 'seldom drink other than the strongest ale-house beer, or eat any bread save what is made of the finest wheat flour'. The statement must be received with caution, but such was the nature of the complaint of some ratepayers and employers about the poor law...(Charles II's Act of Settlement) was seldom denounced, until many years later Adam Smith dealt with it in scathing terms. It is hard to ascertain the exact degree to which it operated, and Adam Smith appears to have exaggerated the harm done and the number of cases in which cruel wrong was inflicted. But at best it was a great evil; it is the reverse side of that creditable effort of Stuart England to provide for the maintenance of the poor through the local public authorities. That effort, on the whole, was not unsuccessful, and largely accounts for the peaceable character of English society" -
G. M. Trevelyan, 'English Social History, Pages 278-279, a standing rebuke to those right-wing dummies who think that Adam Smith never told lies and that history began with Milton Friedman.
Read that last sentence again, and again, and again - and just think about what would happen if your dreams came true, and the welfare state were abolished.