Sunday, April 30, 2006
Friday, April 28, 2006
My two cents...
I have carefully re-read the BNP manifesto of 2005 and am unable to find evidence of Right-wing tendencies.
On the other hand, there is plenty of anti-capitalism, opposition to free trade, commitments to "use all non-destructive means to reduce income inequality", to institute worker ownership, to favour workers' co-operatives, to return parts of the railways to state ownership, to nationalise the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and to withdraw from Nato. That sounds pretty Left-wing to me.
Norman Tebbit must be either completely out of touch with reality or have become so gullible that he believes the BNP's pernicious propaganda. Of course it is an extreme Right-wing party. And Rachel Sylvester is right to describe them as such.
The BNP is strongly hostile to all minorities. It sells books which claim that black people are genetically inferior to whites. Its manifesto states that anyone who cannot prove a pre-1948 British heritage will be asked to leave. It is pretending to care about workers' rights to try to get the working-class vote - that is why it is targeting working-class areas in the local elections.
I have very little sympathy for Prentis's views here. Tebbit has specified economic and social policies that are explicitly left wing. Prentis has described the BNP as racist and therefore right wing. That is the only element he mentions. The problem here is that "right wing" has come to mean no more than "something of which I disapprove." If the terms are to have any meaning at all, it must by a socio-economic one. Chris has recommended that it be framed in terms of statist and non-statist, which seems reasonable, as well as choosing the interests of rich or poor, which seems a bit tendentious.
In any event, it seems clear that the old tribal differentiation no longer has any real meaning. This is largely because the old left wing has almost completely assimilated the old right's economic policies. It remains to be seen whether or not the new right will do the same with the left's social policies.
On that point...
Even if movement is restricted by pan-EU directives, what Councils do that visibly make a difference to day-to-day life tends to focus on recycling, public transport, street cleaning, park maintenance and so on. When I leave my comfortable Tory borough and venture out to Camden or Hammersmith, one thing that strikes me is the relative untidiness of the streets. My colleague has noted that the primary cause of this is grotty people littering.
In my neck of the woods there is a rather high-profile police station. Nearby is a school with a wonderfully high-flown and potentially misleading name. One morning as a bus disgorged its load of shining morning faces outside the police station, one of them tossed her copy of the Metro dashingly over her shoulder. As a result of recent terrorist scares the station is patrolled by armed policemen. One of these picked up the paper and tapped the girl on the shoulder. Her look of surprise was something to treasure.
I don't know if armed police are the most cost-efficient anti-littering policy, but it's certainly the most fun to watch.
Dead meat? Where's the beef?
In this piece they feel that they've got him.
Above all, its shows that the Fraud King cannot be trusted. If his "flagship policy" is a charade – all spin and no substance – what price any of his other policies? In opting for cheap gestures, he has further diminished the standing of politicians, and added to the general contempt which the breed attracts.
The blunder of which Cameron is accused is that, although he himself cycles to Westminster every morning, a car follows him carrying his papers, spare clothes etc. This makes everything he says on environmentalism a 'fraud.' I don't buy it. It's more reminiscent of the Left's gleeful grabbing of headlines with which to beat George Bush than of reasoned reportage.
Even though the Conservatives are currently flat-lining in the polls, Cameron's personal ratings are significantly higher. He has assembled a pretty good shadow cabinet and allowed it to do its job. Above all, the impression he has given is one of forward momentum. A story that his car is driven to Westminster carrying a lead-lined red box is going to sink without a ripple, except among newspapers and blogs that carry a personal animus. If this makes someone a 'Fraud King', then the entry levels for fraudulent monarchy are alarmingly low.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Don't forget to shut the door
According to the excellent Iain Dale's diary, the Love Whale will have gone by the weekend.
These are not great circumstances under which to have to spend more time with your family. I reckon that Mrs P probably isn't all that keen on him just now.
Channelling the Homeric spirit
The truly Nasty Party
This criminal set of professional liars have an avowed policy of dissembling to the public, holding together their fractured coalition by a combination of arrogance,false perception and naked ambition.
This is a truly a party without principles. This is a party established on convenience, thriving on ignorance, dependent on disenchantment and supported by criminal endeavour and misrepresentation.
It is biting indictment of the British electorate that this set of charletons and mountebanks attract votes rather than universal condemnation.
Whatever you do on May 4th, don't vote Lib Dem.
The way it is
Boris Johnson, despite the odd shenanigan here and there, is a man of wisdom and sense and a cohort of well turned phrases.
The following strikes me as about the best summary I have seen of the Case of the Vanished Liberties - or how New Labour Murdered Liberal England:
About turn! Labour has changed the law, and free-born Englishmen and women can no longer walk a few hundred paces down the Queen's pavement to Downing Street to protest at the closure of their local hospitals.
Actually, I had to bawl the message at the top of my lungs, because Labour's new measures against civil protest mean that you cannot use a loudhailer. As we all saw at the Labour Party conference, you can't heckle a cabinet minister any more without the risk of being arrested under section 44 of some swingeing new anti-heckler act.
You can't smoke in public. You can't legally hunt foxes, in the way that people have been doing in this country for hundreds of years. Naturally, I lack the courage to smack my own children, but anyone who is forced to that regrettable expedient will find that new laws proscribe any chastisement that leaves bruising or discoloration.
If you try to stop an inspector pushing his way unexpected into your kindergarten, you face a fine of £2,500. You can have your DNA held on a government database, and very shortly you will no longer be able to apply for a new passport without being obliged to fork out vast sums for an ID card. You can't replace your own window in your own home without some kind of inspection, and you certainly can't change a switch in the kitchen.
You can't put a union flag on your locker without the risk that you will be prosecuted for racial discrimination. You can be extradited to the United States without any prima facie evidence that you have committed a crime at all, let alone in America. You can lose your driving licence for a collection of comparatively trivial speeding offences, provided that they have all been recorded on camera.
You can't say anything that might be construed as inspiring "religious hatred", even though the Koran is full of stuff that plainly falls into that category. You can't "glorify" terrorism, even though there are plenty of people in this country who have just celebrated the anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916. You can't even say that a police horse is "gay" without being arrested and prosecuted for homophobia.
Read the whole thing here. There you have it - it was Tony Blair, in the library with the red tape who dunnit.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
A tidal wave of embarassment
The sheer profusion of embarassing stories is getting alarmingly reminiscent of the last days of John Major's Government, although the key protagonists there tended to be anonymous backbenchers rather than the Deputy Prime Minister or Home Secretary. When Clarke resigns and Hewitt gets fired who on earth is thhere to step up to the plate? Has there ever been a cabinet with as little talent as this? And has there ever been a less inspiring collection of possible re-inforcements? The Government just looks tired and soiled: time for a change.
Coming up Rosie...
Quite apart from the sense of rejoicing in the travails of a politician I have always disliked, this does raise the question: was this a case of a leg-up in exchange for a leg-over? Probably not, but isn't this fun? In tomorrow's papers: Gordon Brown ate my hamster!
Incidentally, sorry about the rather graphic image conjured up by the title...
Well played David and viva la revolucion
The more I see of Mr Davies, the more I like him. Pace DK and his typically trenchant views on things, I would (had I been a member) voted for Dave "The Change" Cameron as I reckon that the uniquely awful Electorate will be more likely to go for him (and the first thing we Tories need to do is win) but politically DD is probably more like my kinda Tory.
Anyhoo to related matters - let's hope that the noise in the street even now reaching my ears is the sound of Clarke's tumbril rolling past, as opposed to the usual sounds of the revolting peasantry of Sarf Lunnon, innit, like.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Charles Clarke - obfuscatory incoherence
routinely use language such as "police state", "fascist", "creeping authoritarianism", while words such as "holocaust", "gulag" and "apartheid" are used descriptively in ways that must be truly offensive to those who experienced those realities.
Fighting talk. But obviously those who seek to characterise the policies of HMG are making
ridiculous assertions, unsupported by any hint of understanding of the balance of powers that exist in our society.
Clarke thus accuses these journalists of intellectual laziness and a lack of adherence to professional journalistic standards. But that is all he does. There is no attempt in this article to refute any of the claims made against him and his policies, merely to deny them.
There are serious points to be made here. This Government has restricted the right to trial by jury, selectively removed the old 'double jeopardy' rule, massively increased the role played by summary judgment through the use of ASBOs, increased the length of time a suspect can be held without charge (and tried to increase it be more), introduced laws that allow for restrictions on personal liberty on suspicion of involvement in a crime (habeas corpus anyone?), created approximately 700 new criminal offences and introduced legislation that fundamentally alters the balance of power between the citizen and the state. Oh, and they've put out a Bill that effectively bypasses the legislative role of Parliament itself.
All of these are indicative of a Government that is careless of its responsibilities to maintain the rule of law. All of these strengthen the Executive at the expense of either the Legislature or the individual. All of these are issues that deserve a serious response. None of these are addressed by the Home Secretary in his speech. If Charles Clarke is unhappy that critics are pointing out the inherent illiberalism at the heart of the New Labour project there is a simple solution. If he can demonstrate the allegations to be false then he should do so. If he cannot, then he should admit the truth of the assertions. And then he should resign.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Friday, April 21, 2006
The father's a no nonsense military looking kind of guy. Seated across from him in the usual soccer mom getup is his wife. Next to her, facing me, a mass of black curls and inexpertly applied makeup, is her teenage daughter. She smiles at me toothily.
The other daughter sits facing away from me--face obscured by a hanging mane of heavy black hair. Her bejeweled fingers tap impatiently on the table top. Probably embarrassed to be seen eating out with her parents.
"Can I get anyone something to drink?" I ask cheerfully.
The man and his wife order some red wine.
"I'll have a coke," the first daughter says looking up and down. . . .
"And what will you have miss?" I ask the other daughter.
The daughter looks up at me from under her hair. Suddenly and I notice "she" has a beard.
"I'm not a girl," the newly revealed young man sniffs defensively. . . .
"I'm very sorry sir. I need to get a new pair of glasses," I say trying to cover my surprise.
"He said you were a girllll!" the sister taunts.
"Shut up idiot," the brother shoots back.
"Enough" the father cuts in, "Tell the man what you want to drink."
"I'll have a Coke," the young man mutters sullenly.
Tip in the toilet I go and fetch their drinks.
They order quickly and are soon tucking into their entrées. While they're eating the son gets up to go to the bathroom. As he approaches me I can feel the hatred coming off of him like heat off a radiator.
"I'm not a girl," he hisses looking me in the eye.
"No kidding," I deadpan. . . .
Saying nothing he shuffles past me. I can't help but notice he's headed for the wrong bathroom.
"Sir, that's the ladies room."
"I knew that," he says rapidly changing course.
"Just checking," I chuckle.
The family finishes their meal. They take a pass on dessert. Dad asks for the check.
"Sorry for the mix up," I say handing him the bill. . . .
Check paid the family gets up and heads for the door. I warily look inside the checkbook.
Dad left me a $100 tip.
I run up to the front to thank the man for his generosity.
"That waiter's a jerk," I overhear the son saying as he heads out the door.
"It was an honest mistake. Get a haircut!" the father calls out after him.
Catching up to the father I extend my hand.
"Thank you sir!" I say.
With a firm grip he replies, "No. Thank YOU."
"Not a problem," I grin.
"Goddamn hippie," the father mutters walking out onto the street. I stand in the doorway a hundred dollars richer. That was the most profitable faux pas I ever committed.
There are two points to raise here: one general and one specific. In general terms the complaint seems to be: the monarch is the head of the Church of England - is this fair in a 'multi-cultural society'? Or as Bunting herself puts it: How will that go down in a country where the number regularly attending Anglican services is roughly matched by the number of British Muslims?
To which the simple answer is: Who cares how it goes down? This is an explicitly Christian country at the very base of its constitution. If this is to be dismantled it would have to be for a better reason than the feelings of a million or so recent arrivals. As Alexander Downer said, if they don;t like it, they can fuck off (well that's nearly what he said).
The second point is one that has been raised before. Prince Charles famously said that he wanted to be a 'Defender of Faiths', and Bunting raises the topic of tweaking the official title, but on whose bally authority? The title Defender of the Faith was awarded (ironically) to Henry VIII by the Pope in recognition of a spirited pamphlet denouncing Martin Luther that the King had written (in flawless Latin too apparently). So if it is to be changed, what would be the authority? If it be only the sayso of the British Government then what on earth is the point in having it at all?
And there's more...
High salaries are a form of graft pure and simple. Banker and public company salaries are not dissimilar to the payments made by tin-pot dictators to themselves and their henchman. They do it because they can. Although, it is interesting to note that Robert Mugabe received less than £50,000 last year. Although a great deal more than the average Zimbabwean, it is a great deal less than a 30 year old investment banker would have earned.
Since his new palace cost the Zimbabwean economy anything between £3.75 and 6 million, it makes you wonder he afforded it doesn't it? When I was first in Zimbabwe in 1997 a copy of Time Magazine was banned because it identified Mugabe as one of the ten richest men in Africa. Apart from that, yes he's much more ethical than a thirty year old banker, if you don't count the murders, rapes and so on.
Polly misses the point - again
People do know more or less what everyone else earns in the public sector, so why not make it compulsory for all?
Well, because it's not public for a start. I, as a taxpayer, have a vested interest in the salary of Jonathon Ross because I help to pay for it. Similarly Tony Blair, or Mr Justice Cocklecarrot. You, as a taxpayer do not have any right to know how much I earn because you are not paying me. And if you are paying me, then not only do you know how much I earn anyway, but you should definitely be doing something more productive than reading this blog.
Incidentally, Polly Toynbee was two years below my mother at Oxford, and dropped out, unable to cope with the course. Failed 11-plus, dropped out of University: proof that being a total muppet need not destroy your career prospects, provided you have rich and famous parents to carry you through.
Graceless, Stupid and Wrong
John Humphries is graceless, stupid, opinionated and wrong.
How revealing the story is of Humphries insulting question to HM as to why she hadn't invited mass-murderer and torturer Fidel Castro to Her birthday lunch. Jokingly he asked 'do you think it is the tower for me'. What a shame it isn't.
He followed this with an interview today with Countess Mountbatten in which he could barely bring himself to be polite and every question was saturated with his own preconceptions and opinions.
Away with this canting broadcaster. Who is interested in the opinions of this mouthpiece? Who believes that this ill-educated and ignorant man has anything of value to add to any national debate? Why should we have his half-witted views pushed at us over breakfast?
Come friends, it is time to rise up and storm the studios of the Today Programme and drag the Humphries from his chair echoing hypocrite and traitor Cromwell "You have sat here too long for the good that you do. In the name of God go."
A Polite Address on the Occasion of Her Majesty The Queen's 80th Birthday
Today is of course the 80th Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen .
The UK is luckier than many are prepared to acknowledge in both the person of the Sovereign and the Institution of the Monarchy.
Despite the graceless carping of those with republican agendas (so disproportionately represented in sink-holes like the BBC), the Royal Family continue to deserve and to hold the respect, admiration and love of the vast majority of the Nation.
Even those currently in Government have come to appreciate and value the wisdom of the Monarch and the stabilising influence of the Monarchy.
As a loyal Subject what greater pleasure can there be than to wish Her Majesty very many Happy Returns and to express our earnest desire that there should many more.
God Save Elizabeth II, Dei Gratia Britanniarum Regnorumque Suorum Ceterorum Regina, Consortionis Populorum Princeps, Fidei Defensor, Lord of Mann, Duke of Normandy.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Send in the Gurkhas
With reference to the snippet that an IKEA store has resorted to hiring four Gurkhas to restore law and order in the car park, a couple of stories spring to mind that underline just how foolish any wouldbe criminal must be if they intend to mess about with the Gurkhas.
The first comes from Robert Graves' memoir Goodbye to all that, a reflection of his service in the Royal Welch Fusiliers during WWI. From memory, he said that one trooper, on being told by a regimental cook that jam was being given out only to those who could prove they had killed a German, had returned promptly the next morning with a sack that contained a German head and helmet. The kick being that the camp was five miles behind the front.
The second comes from John Masters' book Bugles and a Tiger. Masters was an officer in a Gurkha regiment, and tells the story of how, again during WWI
A British battleship, lights out, abristle with fourteen-inch guns, moved slowly up the heavily defended Suez Canal early in 1915. The officer on watch heard a small voice shouting from the land. At length he understood the voice to be saying "Halt! Who-go-dah?"
The officer did not reply. The voice then said "Halt or I fire!" The battleship switched on a searchlight, which illuminated one Gurkha rifleman standing on the bank. His rifle was pointed at the side of the battleship. The battleship stopped; its captain sent an urgent message for help; and the strategic movements of the Royal Navy sttod still while an officer of Gurkhas was found to tell the sentry that the battleship could pass. At last the Gurkha shouted "Pass friend, all's well," and lowered his rifle. The battleship glided on, with a thousand British sailors cheering and laughing.
Gurkhas? Don't mess.
A few thoughts on the Criminal Justice System
It is, of course, an iniquitous idea that the State feels it has the right to destroy an individuals livelihood, remove his freedom and in most cases deprive him of his house on an incorrect judgement. The savings involved are fiscally irrelevant, and the moral point is scandalously unjust.
He now has displayed his fundamental lack of understanding of the criminal justice process.
I propose to examine whether and if so to what extent an error in the trial process necessarily means a miscarriage of justice.
The point here is that the huge mechanism of the state is arraigned against an individual accused of a crime. If the state makes a hash of the prosecution that is the responsibility of the state, not of the individual. The most important Act here, Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), is designed to give the police guidelines within which it can operate. If it breaches those guidelines (by tricking a confession or entrapment for example) a crucial line in the relationship between state and citizen is crossed.
Clarke once whinged that he had spent too much of his life being patronised by lawyers. A suggestion might be to get off his fat arse and read up on the law. It is supposed to be his job after all. Fucker.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Pardon me, but...
A February poll showed that 91 percent of British some 1.6 million Muslims are "loyal" to Britain and 80 percent still want to live in and accept Western society [sic].
Umm, doesn't that mean that 144,000 are avowedly disloyal, and 320,000 don't want to live in or accept Western Society.
Is it me, or is that rather alarming?
Am I alone is seeing something more sinister in this? With the raft of draconian and dubious laws being passed now, from hunting through to terror, is the Government looking to cap its liabilities?
I mean, the way we are going we will all be jailed at some point.
What amazes me is that anyone is surprised. The NHS is th creation of a socialist Government in the 1940s, designed for the 1950s and seeking to cope with the 21st century. Can't be done. All the money in the world won't help - after all, if you put the engine from the latest Ferrari into a Hillman Imp, it wouldn't turn the Hillman Imp into a Ferrari, you would just create more problems.
What the NHS needs is a blank piece of paper and a fresh start.
But, you can't do it y'see, because to the left it is an Article of Faith, and to the British Electorate - that unique collective of the stupid, the brutal and ignorant - it is a Sacred Cow.
What does that mean? It means that taxes must keep rising as we try to fix the unfixable, the Tories must keep dissembling as they seek to reform the unreformable, the left must keep lying as they work to keep the faith, and the votes, of the 'healthcare professionals' and the people will keep dying early, in pain and unnecessarily, sacrificed for an out-moded, obsolete idea.
The NHS, not a crisis - a tragedy.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
A myriad of manifestos
My own feeling on manifestos, apart from thinking them screamingly pompous for a blogger to assert, is that less is definitely more. I would always pick the Conservative manifesto espoused by Bonar Law in 1922 ('Tranquility') over the rancid outpourings of Labour Parties from Atlee to Blair. I would therefore rather follow the Devil's Kitchen's mould and eschew any sort of manifesto.
However, entering into the spirit of the thing here goes:
1: The individual knows better than the State
2: People should be free to do anything that does no harm to others
Communist traitor in Castro encomium
If it had been established that Gott had been a spy for the Nazis, or even for the CIA or British Intelligence, does anyone believe that he would receive as prominent a position in the Guardian? As Douglas Murray notes, the only reasonable explanation is that "the newspaper approves of people such as Gott, and of the genocidal regime they propped up."
I do hope you all had a lovely Easter by the way.
Well said that man
So I was surprised to read some Good Sense today in Philip Stephens' column (subscription needed). Phil - from his byline pic a dead-ringerfor the Fat Owl of the Remove - has this to say on the subj. of The Newt Lover:
I am just sad, no ashamed really, that Mr Livingstone is the mayor of my city.
And so say all of us. Throw the baggage out.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Attack of domesticity
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Now, Mr Kitchen is not a man to mince his words, but as Jerome K Jerome almost said, he comes out really quite sensible. You'd be surprised. I call it downright wisdom.
Like a book he talkest
However, recently something rather splendid has happened - the street sweeper has been changed from a man who did nothing to a man who takes a pride in his work. The streets - whilst not exactly gleaming - are now impressively clean and tidy and it really does improve the feel of the place.
So I was rather disgusted to be walking behind two girls, dressed in obligatory track suits and swearing like navvies who as they picked through their fast food breakfasts chose to discard their detritus on the street without a second thought, despite numerous bins put there by the considerate rate payer. It never occured to them not to befoul the place where they live.
I would have remonstrated with them but first, I was worried about being screamed at (nothing worse than public spectacles) and second I trod on some gum that some other bugger had booby-trapped the pavement with which necessitated some hard graft to scrape the filthy stuff off.
But the incident got me thinking - why have so many people totally abandoned the small social courtesies that make life so much more bearable? And why do the left blame those of us who still behave (more or less) well in public?
I was going to write on this at (greater) length, but then I noted this in the Times, and I have to say Mr Delingpole puts it ever so much better than I would. In it he ponders this collapse of behaviour and the reaction that is happening in letting off steam by laughing at Chavs through fancy dress parties and the likes of Little Britain's Pollard. His conclusion?
So just why have these social menaces been able to flourish? I know who I blame: the sort of humourless, Polly Toynbee-style Lefties who argue so passionately that we shouldn’t laugh about them. If, for example, you were very unlucky last Christmas you might have been given a book called Is it Just Me or is Everything Shit? This feeble socialist agit-prop masquerading as humour lambasted, inter alia, the existence of Nu Snobbery, ie, being rude about poor people.
What the authors failed to understand is that the reason we laugh at the underclass owes less to snobbery than to frustration and despair at the social consequences of bien-pensant misgovernance. We see young girls being given a financial incentive to turn into single mums; we see parents unwilling to discipline and schools afraid to teach; we see a Government hell-bent on expanding the State so that more people are reduced to the role of whining supplicants; we inhabit a society obsessed with human rights but apparently uninterested in personal responsibility. We laugh at the underclass for the same reason we laugh in wartime and after appalling disasters: because if we didn’t we’d only cry.
Read the whole thing.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
The Trappings of Power
So now it is flights. Just a small additional piece of venality to add to the list of freebies, loans, directorships and lies. Yet another instance of our government -elected, damn it all, to serve us - grabbing as much as they can.
It is this same bunch of socialist garagistes who, taking time out from robbing us blind, have lectured us on the dangers of the "forces of conservativism".
Well, one of those forces was the concept of Nobless Oblige - which strikes me as a far finer principle to have at the heart of Government than our current motto of 'take what you can'.
Enough! Give us back our money and feck off.
PS - regard and marvel at technical mastery. Blue linky things and an image!
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Politics of the playground
The latter piece mentioned, by one Cameron Doudu, has managed to stir a languid reptilian eyebrow at its more obvious inanities. For a piece generally decrying the omnipresence of racism directed against blacks, it might be considered a touch impolitic for Mr Doudu to say:
It is about time white people learnt that you can not feel the full impact of racist abuse unless you are the victim of racist abuse yourself
Can you imagine if a Telegraph piece began with "It is about time black people learnt..."? They'd be accused of cutting holes in bedsheets before you could say "race-baiting." But I suppose I welcome the second half of the sentence, not for its truth, which is obvious rubbish (You cannot understand the science of pathology unless you have been a victim of it. You cannot understand the mechanics of glacier erosion unless you are 15 miles long and made of ice. You cannot understand the Guardian unless you have had your sense of irony surgically removed...oh, wait) but for its impact on the Reptile.
I can now, on the strength of this article, hold myself out as a pre-eminent expert on both racial abuse and racial violence, on the grounds that I have experienced both myself. All those chaps who've gone off to do ghastly sociology and racial awareness courses have been wasting their time. All they needed to do was get hauled out of their car at a roadblock by a crowd of panga-wielding maniacs. So if anyone has anything they don't quite understand about the politics of racial tension and the history of inter-communal violence, I am apparently the man to ask. Fire ahead.
The authorities forced him to sit on a bench, staring straight ahead into a wall, for almost 50 straight days. Dr. Lee told me, "Your body starts to rot." Eventually, his heart began to fail, and he had trouble breathing.
Unpleasant prison regimes are ten a penny in the undemocratic world, so why the specific attention paid to China? Well, there is a rather unsavoury twist to this story.
During certain periods of his confinement, Dr. Lee was made to work, in prison sweatshops. He assembled Christmas lights, in brutal conditions. At another time, he made bedroom slippers, with Homer Simpson's image on them. (You know Homer: the dad from the television cartoon.) You put your foot where Homer's mouth is.
Still, it could be worse: it could be Guantanamo Bay I suppose.
Monday, April 10, 2006
I too have noticed the dismally disheartening missive sent out by Patrick Stewart of the bald head and fruity voice. Cold Steel reminds us that one of Stewart's earlier roles was that of Sejanus in I Claudius. Not one of our nicer customers was young Sejanus.
In short, a lying, disreputable ambitious shit who would stop at nothing to achieve absolute power.
Do go and read the whole thing, there's definitely not enough Juvenal quoted on blogs - but don't get too disheartened by the future echoes you may perceive. I recently observed in the Mamertine Prison, famous chiefly these days for having housed SS Peter and Paul, a small (and highly slective) roll-call of famous victims. Prominent among these was a name that jumped out at me: Sejanus, AD 31, strangled. It may be a touch optimistic but then there are times when, looking at the variety of crooks, thugs, thieves and patronising harridans that form our current administration the Reptile finds himself echoing (and misquoting) young Gaius Caligula (promising lad I thought) "If only the British Government had but a single neck!" Eheu!
Change and decay
That being said, some change is inevitable - even for me. I have just committed my first link - ere long I hope to work out how to do this neatly with a blue word rather than a whole web address thingy. In this way I will become the change that is needed and Dave will be pleased with me.
Nasty, brutish and short
Not merely applicable to Hobbesian man, but also, and I think more exactly, to the Mayor of London, the ghastly Livingstone. His recent unpleasant remarks about men such as the American ambassador to London, or "chiselling little crook" as our elected representative described him, or the two Indian born Iraqi Jews who Livingstone told to get back to Iran have already been noted briefly on this blog and more extensively elsewhere.
So it was with a weary sense of the inevitable that the Reptile picked up his paper today to note that, once again, this odious little man, personification of all that is unpleasant about the Left in British politics, had drawn a direct comparison between the Poll tax riots in Trafalgar Square and the massacre of approximately 3,000 demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.
That Livingstone draws no moral distinction between the governments of Deng Xiao-Peng and Margaret Thatcher is not surprising. That he argues an equivalence between the deaths of hundreds in a brutal totalitarian crackdown against demonstrators for democracy and a riot against a democratically imposed tax in which no-one was killed displays his stupidity. That he did so in Tiananmen itself displays his insensitivity. That he has defended his remarks as valid displays his moral vacuity.
That he then asked for the Peterloo massacre - a bloody but small scale fiasco in which 11 people were killed 200 years ago - to be taken into consideration is staggering. Mind you, Ted Heath would have been proud, and it does show that between the moral relativism of the hard-left and soft-right there is little to choose.
Friday, April 07, 2006
Defending the indefensible...
Important it undoubtedly is, but such comments, such as this from Dr Crippen (of whom this is in no way intended as a personal critique) miss the central point.
Of course, consultants still earn far less than city solicitors, city accountants, stock-brokers, investment bankers and those nice people who sold you your endowment mortgages, but then doctors are not as important as these people.
This is apples and oranges stuff. Dr Crippen has already said that GPs now earn an average of £100-150,000 pa, with consultants presumably on more. Solicitors earn (in the city) about £50,000 on qualification (ie after training), accountants rather less. In order to earn the sort of money being talked of here, solicitors or accountants have to make it to partner. This means that they are then part-owner of a firm, and stand to make or lose money according to how well the firm does. Very few non-banking professionals can earn as much by salary as a GP or consultant (or senior civil servant for that matter); in order to raise their earnings that high, they have to gain a personal stake in the company.
Once they have done so - and the overwhelming majority never will - they are personally creating wealth. This obviously entails their earning more. All (or almost all) the money that is paid to doctors comes from the taxpayer; all (or almost all) the money that is paid to a partner in a law firm comes from the profits that firm has made in that year - money that the partner has himself made. An income of £150,000 isn't so dusty either - only 30,000 less than the Prime Minister.
On a final point of importance - without the solicitors, bankers, accountants and the rest, there would be very much less money available to pay the doctors.
Who's a pretty ghastly Polly
My understanding is that she blagged a place at Oxford using family connections to compensate for an inadequate brain and then dropped out before gaining a degree (hardly the sign of a brilliant mind at work).
Based on this she went in to the Guardian and Beeb and other holes, emerging now in various left-wing rags full of vim and ideas on how she and her ilk might spend our money better than we can.
What evidence is there that this women knows anything about anything? From what great heights is she qualified to lecture us?
Why wont she bugger off?
Thursday, April 06, 2006
The elephant in the room
Labour stands there - red in tooth and claw, gorged on the fruits of other peoples labour, having once more savaged the attempts of the middle classes to support their own with the proceeds of lives of hard work which have been taxed repeated times:
- taxed through the medium of income tax, sales tax, ni contributions etc
- taxed through stamp duties at every move
- taxed through the need to purchase private education to free families from the grind of sub-standard education provided by the dead hand of the state
- taxed through the need to ensure that private health coverage is in place to try and improve the chance of decent medical help.
The amazing thing is that anyone is surprised - at the end of the day someone must pay for the huge increase in highly paid civil servants doing nothing jobs, the armies of over-paid management consultants who feed off the public sector's incompetance creating a second layer of effectively state-funded employees. That someone is you and I. This is the elephant in the room.
However it is not enough for the tories to say 'cut taxes' - that is always too easy to paint as 'slash services' and like drug addicts the increasingly feckless public need their fix. No - first we must change the language, pointing out all the time that government doesnt have any money, it just takes yours. That every single penny spent in public investment represents value taken from you. That every time a council recruits a lesbian (pre-teen) outreach commissioner it makes it that bit harder for you to take your kids on holiday.
Until people realise that this is their money they won't allow change. Until people feel they dont want to be plugged into the government drip, they wont contemplate change. And to take out the drip - they have to trust the nurse.
That is David Cameron's job now - first to lull the public into letting him near them, like a vet with a skittish horse and when he is near enough, to start changing the language used to frame politics, getting them to understand and then use his words.
Then we can bury socialism once again. For another few years.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Perhaps this is one of those un-sayable truths - rather like the truism that Lib Dems far from being nice friendly people are lying scumbags who will promise anything to anyone in their desperation for power. Everyone knows this and yet everyone pretends it isn't the case, with the result that the good burghers of Barnes and the West Country actually vote for them. Now that is crazy!
Boris - sex god
Apparently so anyway. I guess a lot of women must believe that they and they alone can tame the tousled locks of Britain's most famous Brakenbury scholar and premier classicist. I'm extremely encouraged that Cameron has given short shrift to the tabloids on this - it's a good indication of a leader's strength within the party.
However, in the spirit of this I direct your attention to a spiffy game. The introduction is, in fact, rather better than the game, but I do like the idea of the ice-cream of truth.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Monday, April 03, 2006
Justifying the Licence Fee
That woman with the teeth. Street-walker? Night-porter? Ah...Janet Street-Porter.
Inheritance Tax, or the predicament of being middle class
There are others, of course, who hold different views. The attraction for people like this of IHT is precisely that, by taxing the cascade of wealth through the generations, a fairer society is reached. No inherited wealth can be regarded as earned, the argument goes, and therefore is undeserved and should be removed.
Personally I dislike all forms of taxation. This doesn't of course mean that I regard taxation as inherently immoral - merely that I dislike having money taken to pay for services that I don't use. This, fortunately, is not a position that I expect to be in for all that much longer. For it is an unfortunate fact that the tax system in the UK is now so complicated that only tax specialists and those who earn enough to afford them can understand. Nigel Lawson said, famously that taxes should be clear, low and compulsory. The current system is batting 0/3.
So the rich don't pay tax - or at least as much as they might if they didn't manage it. Instead they instruct lawyers and accountants to find ways through, ways both anticipated by the Treasury (such as increasing pension payments) and not.
These last run the gamut from the amusing to the desperately complex. Among the latter are the various offshore trusts so popular with the Labour Party, which are basically a vast game of pass the parcel. Among the former are such wheezes as forming a company in order to pay your nanny, thus avoiding paying so much NI by using the small companies tax break - Whoopee!
None of these schemes last long - but they don't have to, another one will soon be along. The reason for this is simple. There is a battle of minds between Treasury lawyers and City lawyers, and the ones in the City are cleverer and work harder. They also care more - they have to earn their money - and will therefore always find holes in a tax structure as mind-bogglingly complicated as this one.
So the only people who end up paying the full whack of tax are those who can't afford a tax adviser. These days, since it's become damn near impossible to fill in a tax return without consulting someone, this basically means the middle classes, especially since the threshold is only £325,000 these days - the price of a two-bed flat in London.
Back, Brown and Broke
Not much though. Nothing in the British political sphere will really change until Blair finally does go. At the moment everything that the Labour Party does is viewed through the Blair/Brown prism. From pensions to schools to the NHS, nothing that is said is presumed to relate to its actual subject, but is assumed to be more manoeuvering in the endless struggle.
For the Conservatives, the heart of their strategy appears to be an attack on the Chancellor, both for his personality itself, and for the impact this has on his policies - arrogant, inflexible and unpleasant. But this is limited utility while Blair remains. The Tories look and sound as though they are stuck in second gear - engine racing maybe but little significant forward momentum being made.
And the LibDems? Ming and Cable, 64 and 62, do not look the most dynamic team in the world. Maybe they'll be bringing in some fresh blood soon? I hear that Sir Herbert Samuel and Jo Grimond might be interested.
Well Rowed Oxford
For all the guff about pumps and whatnot - it was pretty clear to me that Oxford out-rowed, out-fought and out-thought the Tabs right from the get-go. I thought they were superb. It was particularly pleasing given the sheer strength of the Cambridge 8 and their monstrous Germans. As the French chap in the Oxford boat said - sometimes machines break.
Well rowed boys!