Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Two stories, little comment

The first story, about Islamist dog Choudhary, sees him telling British Muslims that voting and democracy are unislamic and they should refrain.

The second is that the overwhelming majority of British voters believe that Islam is not compatible with British values.

One can't really add much more to that.

The right to forget

There are some crimes so heinous, so evil, that they call for all trace and all record of the perpetrator to be expunged from human memory; the perp is unhumaned, in other words. I do sincerely wish that the wretched papers would stop printing stories about the person who has just murdered 150 of his fellow men. I don't want to see him mentioned, remember his name, see his photograph or read about his life. For God's sake let all memory of him be lost, forgotten and rejected.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Ed speaks to the global corporates

Ed has taken four pages of the FT to speak Milibollox to the boards and shareholders of the global corporates, those mega-businesses behind the EU, to tell them that an EU referendum may be disadvantageous to their business aims. 

Had he actually wanted to speak to the UK's SMEs and micro enterprises, drivers of economic growth and innovation, he would have taken space in the Mail, Telegraph or Express. But then of course these businesses are all opposed to the EU. 

So it's just a clear punt to the globals to support a Labour/SNP coalition, then. Good. Glad that's clear. 

By Laws

The Manifesto Club have scored a first today - by persuading both the Mail and the Indie to bite on the same tedious and inaccurate press release, each paper printing almost identical stories. HERE and HERE.

In fact, local by-laws are often the only answer to a particular nuisance. The Libertarian test - whether one person's actions have an adverse effect on others, and if so, if the effect is disproportionate, there is justification in restricting the actions - apply pretty much to by laws. You can't make by laws banning pink, or making beards compulsory. By laws aren't about tastes, as Manifesto would have it, but about local nuisances not covered by existing national laws. 

For example, lycra boy-racers are cycling furiously through a shopping precinct. Everyone's fed up with it, and fearful for kids and the elderly. The police say they can't act because it isn't a public highway, and the council's security guards have no powers to stop cyclists and have been abused in the past by the pedal louts. There are three things you can do; erect traps and barriers to make all cycling impossible but also making buggy and wheelchair access very difficult, enact a new national law banning all cycling in all shopping precincts, or enact a local by law making furious cycling in the Blogsworth Centre illegal. Which is the least intrusive of the three?

As a Localist, I want more, rather than fewer, local variations to the law. Local magistrates used to be sensitive to varying the penalties for statutory offences in accordance with local custom; drunkenness in  Frinton would cost you £50 but drunkenness in Yarmouth only £5. Manifesto are a Statist, centralist pressure group who want the socialist solution under which one size fits all - the same solution is applied everywhere, like a cudgel, rather than specifically, like a scalpel. 

They offer as an example the following;

"Oxford City Council has passed a PSPO prohibiting people under the age of 21 from entering a tower block, unless they are legally resident in the block or visiting a legal resident."

Uhm, yes - tower block stairwells are frequently misused for drug dealing, drug taking, prostitution, sex, as toilets, covered in vomit, broken glass or with passed-out crackheads. I imagine if you lived in such a tower block, you'd welcome any measure that tackled these particular nuisances - after years of the police telling you they could do nothing about it, and the council having tried locks, cameras and wardens without any effect. Do Manifesto really  want to condemn the poor sods living in such conditions to fear, helplessness and inaction? Perhaps they do.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Nice if you can afford it

My generation will recall the great days of evening classes on the rates during the 1970s and 1980s; local councils funding nil or nominal cost classes for adults in pottery making, woodwork, car maintenance, Serbo-Croat and flower arranging. It was all very Margot Leadbetter, in that the beneficiaries were generally the aspirational middle classes who could afford to buy a pottery kiln, set of carving chisels or bathtubs of cut flowers. A chum of mine, an accountant, did a car restoration course at the local tech and afterwards spent about £20k buying and restoring an old MG.

History, of course, is not written that way. For those under 40 such as the Guardian's Lola Okolosie, adult education was about brave councils fighting poverty and class disadvantage and bringing the light of literacy to the poor and ignorant. The slow death of evening classes on the rates for Lola is symptomatic of a war on the poor rather than the consequence of the ever-expanding costs of child surveillance and custody by councils.

Lola is of the generation and milieu that believes that the State should do everything for them, including no doubt wiping their arses. The State, however, can't incubate the drive for self-improvement, so strong in our people in the early part of the last century that it supported an entire mass publisher - Dent - bringing an Everyman's Library of cloth-bound 8vo knowledge into Glasgow tenements, Plaistow attics and rented rooms. An amiable Scots vagrant once accosted me on the Strand quoting Wordsworth - his mother was a Dent subscriber.

Whilst early evening classes may have been the continuation of self-education by the local State, they didn't stay that way for long. Do gooders and social fiddlers soon realise that the poor are not queuing in droves to spend several hours of good drinking time learning irregular verbs. So the classes soon changed to attract motivated middle-class attenders keen to learn Spanish or Italian for their holidays, or how to bend and spot-weld steel sheet in the case of my accountant chum. Nice if you can afford it - but now we can't.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Gove screws it up for Cameron on Bercow

I am second to none in my disapprobation of our First Commoner, the egregious poison dwarf Bercow. His preening self-love, acidic bitchiness, partisanship, unpleasantness and monstrous ego all make him utterly unsuited to be a neutral, self-effacing, universally regarded Speaker of Parliament. Cunning rather than clever, and with the manner of a bullying young master at a third-rate school picking on second-formers ( "Are those zits, Cameron, or have they been throwing custard at you again?") he will not have endeared himself to any MP committed to the dignity of the Commons. Yesterday as the result of the vote was announced he put his face through any number of pubescent contortions for the cameras, none adding a millimetre to his stature. 

Yet I agree wholeheartedly with the result of yesterday's vote. Gove screwed it up for Cameron - possibly deliberately? - and condemned Hague, who deserved a warm valedictory, to slink out of the House like a bad odour. It was clear his heart just wasn't in the motion, and prior to the vote when he was invited to escape the humiliation by withdrawing it, I'm sure he gave the idea serious consideration. The whole plot of a last minute vote was absurd, unparliamentary and partisan. Gove, no stranger to pomposity and self-love, has felt the rough edge of Bercow's tongue and it must have hurt. By stooping to Bercow's level in attempting to be rid of him, he mistook the strange ability of the Commons to do the right thing at the most unlikely moments.   

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Global re-armament (except Europe)

Britain went into the second world war with a 2lbr anti-tank gun that couldn't penetrate German armour and a 3mph infantry tank that could be destroyed with ease by enemy weapons. Whilst Lord Gort, commander of the doomed BEF, was exercising on his charger his German counterpart was doing unsportin' scientific war stuff. Our forces were still under the command of the effete and historical Gentlemen and awaiting the battle-winning Players to take the field. Gort's charger was eventually shot on the quayside at Dunkirk, not qualifying for a place on the destroyer home.

Well, it may be good news that the Germans in 2015 pose no threat. Our approach to defence may not have improved, but the German armed forces are in even worse condition. Whilst the US has maintained a defence spend by cutting domestic infrastructure budgets, Germany has cut both. Now the bridges and autobahn are crumbling but it doesn't matter because Merkel only has 30 working MBTs and half a dozen working helicopters.*

Meanwhile Japan has just launched its first carrier since WWII in response to rapid Chinese military expansion, Russia has a programme of building 100 new warships between 2011 - 2020 and is bringing into service a long-range bomber with a top speed equal to our air defence fighters, Chinese naval vessels are anchored off African ports and the US is expanding its 'smart' war fighting resources (i.e. kit that doesn't depend on being operated by Americans - the average size of US pilots and submariners having doubled since WWII and with no sign of slowing).

Of course Dave's commitment to maintaining the foreign aid budgets remains inviolable.  
*Update
=======
The state of the Bundeswehr is analysed HERE and makes grim reading; the table below was released by the generals and is, er, 'optimistic'. For instance, when it was released, only 2 of Germany's 33 NH90s were flyable and ALL of her Sea Lynxs were grounded. 
 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Cameron buggers it up

The entire political class appears to be in self-destruct mode. With the election only weeks away, they're falling off their perches in droves. And now Cameron, whose crap judgement far more than his ill intention has been responsible for any number of policy blunders during his term, has shot himself. He really isn't very bright. Even Gove on Newsnight couldn't resist chuckling away at the stupidity of it.

The sole glimmer of hope is that the Commons have a new clerk. Bercow is pretending to be in agreement with the appointment of the old Clerk Assistant, David Natzler, as the replacement for Sir Robert Rogers. Whether the poison dwarf will be able to control his ill manners sufficiently to allow Mr Natzler to get on with the job will be another matter. However, with the potential for a hung parliament, at least we have someone familiar with Bagehot. 

Every week now brings some new turn, like a music hall that gives and gives. Hey ho.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Alan B'Stard rides again!

Not even Marks and Gran could have invented a script-plot as twisted as this one; Tory boy spends 27 hours in discussion with head of violent fascist street-group and is recorded plotting a fake white-knight scam to win Tory votes, then complains when the recording is released that the plot is taken 'out of context'. You'd need a heart of stone not to chortle at Afzal Amin squirming in a doomed effort to save his candidature. 

All he lacks is Neil Hamilton popping up to excuse him ...