Saturday, August 03, 2002
FOR A SICKENING example of self-importance, read the front page of the Mirror today:
"Pressure mounts on Tony Blair as 91 per cent of voters slam plans to send our lads in to back Bush's armed "regime change" in the Gulf"
Turn to the full story, and you find - surprise - that it is not 91% of the voters who oppose war, or even 91% of people selected in an opinion poll - it is 91% of Mirror readers who could bother to phone up: less than eleven thousand people in a country with a population of 60 million. But, dishonestly, they go on to pretend this is a real blow to hope of Britain waging war:
"Blair knows a war in Iraq would go against the views of the electorate."
He knows no such thing about public opinion. But what he does know is that Saddam poses a grave threat to the British people. Popular or not, a war to be rid of him is necessary.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:25 | Permanent Link |
THE TORY PARTY is really putting its efforts into changing its ways to better appeal to modern Britain, and so far it is working well. Selecting candidates who look more like Britain is only the first step, however. Far more important is establishing the Conservatives' vision for the future. This should not mean detailed policies that will put the party on the defensive (and in some cases be stolen by the government), but making clear the general conservative ideas for the future: smaller government, more decentralisation, greater freedom, reforming the toilet that is our public services rather than simply flushing money down it, and support for the pound. Given a few government cock-ups, we will then suddenly find people willing to listen to us, and we will have an attractive, radical and optimistic vision for the future that will appeal to the British people once again. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 04:27 | Permanent Link |
AMERICA AND BRITAIN refuse to be fooled by Saddam again. Good. Let's hope he's gone within a year. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 03:48 | Permanent Link |
Friday, August 02, 2002
I SAW A QUOTE this morning that strongly backed up my 'Thought for the day' last Sunday, on the problem with libertarianism. It refered to America, but how true it is of all human governace.
"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 21:50 | Permanent Link |
NEIL KINNOCK IS a man now more pitied than anything else. But then he hasn't done so badly in some ways. The European Community offers a second chance to all those politicians their domestic peoples are wise enough to reject. There, free from fear that anyone can vote them out, such incompetents as Kinnock can get up to their incompetent and crooked dealings. It nows seems that Kinnock has done plenty of that, as The Sun reports:
Mr Kinnock was one of 20 Commissioners brought down by a massive corruption scandal in 1999.
He was reappointed and ordered to clean up the EU’s giant bureaucracy. Top accountant Marta Andreasen was hired to pinpoint waste.
But she revealed EU accounts were even worse than those of collapsed US giants Enron and WorldCom...
Experts fear that up to £5billion of the £63billion annual EU budget is lost through fraud, waste and mismanagement.
Mrs Andreasen, 47, claimed she was asked to verify accounts she knew were untrue — and was threatened with the sack for refusing to sign.
And she accused Mr Kinnock, 60, of playing a key role in axing her after just four months in her post.
Mrs Andreasen said: “He decided I should go to another job.
“Commissioner Kinnock even tried, thankfully unsuccessfully, to prevent me from appearing before key parliamentary committees on the issues.”
Neil Kinnock would never have been leader of a sane Labour Party, nor for that matter anything more than a humble, dim backbencher. That he got so far is testament to the EU's blindness to talent: or even its deliberate selection of the talentless. He should go - now.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 08:18 | Permanent Link |
SOME MEN, badly indebted to the bank, will turn to loan sharks as a very short-term solution. Labour is now trying something similar, going cap-in-hand to the trades unions, asking for them to pay up three years in advance:
"Charles Clarke, the Labour chairman, has called on the unions to guarantee their funding for three years at a stretch to help to ensure that the relationship is “put on a proper footing”.
Assurances from the unions would help to solve Labour’s problems with its bankers, who are alarmed at the party’s £6 million overdraft and are demanding evidence of stable long-term income."
Labour has apparently never faced such a financial crisis, and just to rub salt into that wound, the Conservative Party recently paid off all debts.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 07:36 | Permanent Link |
ALASTAIR IRVINE IS in many way a typical crack cocaine addict: willing to put his grubby, selfish pleasures before anyone else, he soon turned to violent crime to fund his habit. He now faces fifteen years in an American jail for firearms and burglary offences committed there. The only thing different about him is that his father is the Lord Chancellor of the United Kingdom. A couple of the cops dealing with him represent the rest in being disinterested in this, and rightly putting their duty first:
“We know who his Daddy is and we don’t give a damn. He is accused of seven felonies and he is going down.”
“Irvine is in a two-man cell and is under no special protection. Just because he is English and has a privileged background does not give him any right to be separated from the other prisoners. I cannot reveal who he is sharing with, but it could be a rapist or a murderer.”Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 06:52 | Permanent Link |
Thursday, August 01, 2002
I DO NOT think any honest person who observes the BBC for long can deny its left-wing bias. As has been said, the editorial line of the Guardian and the BBC are virtually indistinguishable, the difference being that the former is paid for only by the eccentrics who like that sort of thing, while the latter is funded by a hefty poll tax on us all.
For an example of shocking bias, just take today's BBC Online report on what Norman Tebbit said in this week's Spectator about the Conservatives. With a banner at the top of the page reading 'It's tough to be a Tory' the piece quotes Tebbit in the most biased way possible. At one point in the Spectator article, Tebbit remarks that whether Alan Duncan is gay or straight is neither here not there - what matters it that the Tories have policies that appeal to the British people:
Despite the ramblings and spoutings of the overexcitable and scarcely rational children in Central Office, the nation is not possessed by an overwhelming urge to fill the shadow Cabinet with 25-year-old black lesbians and homosexual, asylum-seeking Muslims. Alan Duncan’s totally unsurprising announcement that he is ‘gay’ has on them the impact of a powder puff flung at an elephant. Britain is a very tolerant country. The great mass of us have no desire to emulate Mr Duncan’s activities under his duvet; we do not think it our business exactly what he does do there; we do not wish to join in; we just wish profoundly that he would not bore us with his sexual problems. [Emphasis mine]
So how do the BBC report it? By reporting the opposite of Tebbit's message as his beliefs. They deliberately miss out the main point of the article with a blatantly selective quotation designed to make him sound as though he is attacking homosexuals, rather than stating that the sexuality of Tory MPs is not an important issue:
"The great mass of us have no desire to emulate Mr Duncan's activities under his duvet... we do not wish to join in; we just wish profoundly that he would not bore us with his sexual problems."
When he backed Mr Duncan Smith's leadership bid, Lord Tebbit described him as a "normal family man" which was taken to be an attack on rival Michael Portillo who had admitted to youthful homosexual experiences.
This disgraceful bias has existed for years and years, but still Tories flinch from the most obvious solution to a publically funded institution that plays party politics: privatisation. Like the Guardian, the BBC can support Labour and the Euro as much as it likes as far as I am concerned, so long as they admit that is what they are doing and so long as I do not have to pay for it. There is no hope of the BBC ever returning to the ideals for which it was established: to bring culture and learning to the masses through a new medium. Its ranks are packed with politically correct Labour supporters, especially at the top, like Director General Greg Dyke, who donated a huge amount to the party, and socialist Chairman Gavyn Davies, whose wife is Gordon Brown's Secretary, and who was invited to the Chancellor's secret wedding even though Tony Blair and Charlie Whelan were not. Freeing the BBC would be best for everyone, especially the kids on council estates who have to go without their mothers for a fortnight when they are jailed for not paying their TV license. Please, let it happen soon.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 18:57 | Permanent Link |
"Ultimately, he was an articulate, but stupid man."
So concludes the Daily Telegraph on Arthur Scargill, who retired as NUM leader this week.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 18:32 | Permanent Link |
IN THE SPECTATOR today, Boris Johnson applauds the success of the Right to Buy, and condemns the recent decision to end it, which can be explained only as a vicious decision to turn thousands of people into serfs of a socialist government, rather than free men and women who want to be independent of the state:
"If there were a contest for the most successful policy of the 20th century, the ‘right to buy’ introduced by the Conservatives after the 1979 general election must be a strong contender. While monetarism and privatisation failed to convince many people of the virtues of the free market, home-ownership did. The broad-based appeal which accounted for the Conservatives’ four general election victories between 1979 and 1992 can be summed up in the words of the fabled working-class voter when asked why he was not voting Labour: ‘It was Margaret Thatcher who got me my ’ouse, weren’t it?’ In 1979, 50 per cent of the population owned their own homes; in 2002, 70 per cent do...
In 1997, when his ears were still very much in tune with the likes and desires of the new middle classes, Tony Blair pledged to retain the right to buy. But this week it has become just one more manifesto promise to have fallen victim to the resurgence of socialist ideology within the government."Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:31 | Permanent Link |
THIS GOVERNMENT CERTAINLY loves wasting our money. Now we see them planning to pay off council workers with a substantial wage increase. Ministers brought it on themselves, of course, by courting maximum publicity in announcing all sorts of extravagant expenditure. We know most of it goes not to improving the public sector at all, but straight into the pockets of the people for whom the public services are really run - its employees. Making clear the government has money to burn, as Brown did, was only whetting their appetite. In this last year, inflation has been 1%, but the unions representing council workers are demanding wage increases of 10%, and it looks like they will get them. Now I have a very simple principle with this sort of case. If people want more money, they should work harder, do better and raise more money. I don't believe that anyone thinks local government has got 10% better since August 2001, so I can't see any justification for such a large pay increase. Of course, most of the problems of the state sector are not at the level of hard working public servants, anyway, but at the bureaucratic level. That alone shows the need for greater choice in public services, something that can only be made possible by private sector involvement. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 03:39 | Permanent Link |
THERE CAN NO longer be any doubt of the threat Saddam poses. Unless action is taken against Iraq long before the next Presidential Elections in a couple of years, the West will be in terrible jeopardy:
"Saddam Hussein will have enough weapons-grade uranium for three nuclear bombs by 2005, a former Iraqi nuclear engineer told senators yesterday, as the US Congress held hearings on whether to go to war."
Elsewhere in The Guardian, William Shawcross makes a long and persuasive case for fighting in the Second Gulf War, the key line being:
"The real immorality and the greatest danger is to allow this evil man to remain indefinitely in power, scorning the UN and posing a growing threat to the world."
But time was made for a stupid argument from one of Saddam's useful idiots in the British press, Hugo Young, that as such a major action has not been taken in such a long time, it cannot possibly be necessary now. Making time to call the Falklands War an "absurdity", he suggests that for any democracy to launch a pre-emptive strike is inherently wrong, so presumably he would prefer to wait until Saddam has blown Washington DC, London or Tel Aviv apart before we do anything, just to ensure we are acting in self-defence. If he gets his way, we can only hope he is among those hit first.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 02:32 | Permanent Link |
YOU CAN USUALLY divide non-conservatives into the far-left, who want to introduce politicies to destroy Britain's economy, as Jim Callaghan did, and the centre-left, who want to introduce policies to destroy Britain's constitution and independence, as Blair does. What troubles me most about the centre-left, apart from their recent successes, is the total antipathy they show towards democracy. Tony Blair devolved power to London, Scotland and Wales (devolved being a euphemism for establishment of yet another tier of government), but when it became clear that no one wanted Frank Dobson as London Mayor or Alun Michael as Welsh First Minister, he did all he could to rig the party elections in their favour. In the European Elections of 1999, he rigged the voting system to give total control over candidates to the party, so that people could vote for their party, but not their representative, who would be added to the list by the parties in London in order of preference. His plans to rig the Euro referendum were made equally plain when he refused to follow the recommendations of Lord Neill, that equal funding for both sides in referenda should be ensured by government through the campaign. This control freakery is matched across the Labour movement among the centre-left. We saw the ridiculous behaviour of the Amicus bosses after Ken Jackson was deposed. And we have also seen the Public and Commercial Services Union try to stop self-proclaimed Trotskyist Mark Serwotka from gaining the leadership of the union he won in a free and fair election. Anyway, the High Court just overturned this, and Serwotka is now leader.
He is just the next name in a very long list of new Union leaders: extreme, militant figures who threaten to destroy the authority of Tony Blair. Joining Serwotka and Derek Simpson, the new communist leader of Amicus, are the Marxist Bob Crow of the RMT (Rail), the hard-left Andy Gilcrift of the Fire Brigades Union, leftist Billy Hayes of the Communication Workers Union and Scargillite Mick Rix of the train driver's union. Even the TGWU's Bill Morris may soon be deposed himself in favour of a far-left figure (or someone even more far-left than him, depending on your perspective). We are already getting a whiff of the dangers that may come if the unions do fight the government, including mass strikes and cuts in public services or higher taxes to pay for their inflated wage demands. A Tory government would suddenly look a lot more attractive to the British people if this happens, so perhaps this should be grounds for optimism. People would again look to the right to fight the unions. Ballots worked very well twenty years ago, but if they now mean militancy, then encouraging more and more people through tax credits and vouchers to look elsewhere than the uniform, stale, unionised public sector for what they need will be not only a good position for the Conservatives to adopt, which it is already, but a forward-looking, attractive one to a great number of people.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 00:45 | Permanent Link |
Wednesday, July 31, 2002
I URGE YOU to read US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's fantastic speech about Milton Friedman, printed in the National Review today. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:28 | Permanent Link |
IF YOU HAVEN'T already today, check out Stephen Pollard's homepage for a great article at the top about the problems of the Tory Party, and the best summary of the party's new Chairman you can find. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:09 | Permanent Link |
JONAH GOLDBERG BELIEVES the Second Gulf War is already overdue. Time will tell. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 09:05 | Permanent Link |
THE SAD TENDENCY for American lawyers and judges to disregard the spirit of every law, and the most basic common sense, continues. Kathleen Parker comments today on those trying to sue burger bars for selling them the food that fuelled their obesity:
"In this case, the demon includes McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's and KFC. The victim, not that it matters, is a 56-year-old maintenance supervisor named Caesar Barber, who claims that his obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol and two heart attacks were caused by the fast food he ate four times a week.
It's pretty hard to draw a straight cause-and-effect line between eating at those restaurants and a heart attack given the possible confounding factors (heredity, lack of exercise, other foods or substances consumed elsewhere), but who cares? Having milked the tobacco industry dry, the health police need a new target. Food was bound to be next."
Along with Tania Kindersley's recent Spectator column on the same issue, this only goes to prove that being greedy for food doesn't exclude greed for any ill-gotten gains one can get from the court:
"In America fat is the new f-word — instead, it’s nutritionally endowed, or person of mass, or gravitationally challenged. Big Is Beautiful, and if an airline insists that you buy two seats to accommodate your bulk, sue the bastards and declare that you are striking a blow for civil rights.
This produces a warped moral perspective. The director of the American Obesity Association has described fatism as ‘a return to the worst kind of discrimination. It’s like putting African-Americans at the back of the bus.’ This is not only a fantastically bonkers equation, but carries the dangerous implication that fatness is not a health hazard but a blow for freedom."
Amusing as these cases may be, they do highlight a serious problem of no one wanting to take responsibility for anything any more, least of all themselves. Like women who change their mind and retrospectively withdraw their consent to sex the next morning, ruining men's reputations with dishonest rape claims, these fat people want to claim that someone else is responsible for them choosing to eat fatty foods. Well, they aren't. In a decent, free society, it is imperative that everyone looks to themselves first for the solutions to their problems, and then turn their attentions outwards, preferable to help others rather than make a claim on them. Once even the most banal of decisions in life can be put down to someone else than the person who took it, ideas of personal responsibility and free will die for good. Once this occurs, we can have no moral justification either for punishment of crimes or preservation of liberty.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 08:49 | Permanent Link |
WE HAVE REASONS to be cheerful:
"Public support for UK membership of the euro is ebbing even though more than a third of the population has now used the new European notes and coins.
A poll for Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) revealed that opposition to the single currency has risen sharply in Britain, dealing a blow to pro-euro campaigners who had hoped that familiarity with the new notes and coins would fuel enthusiasm for UK entry.
The survey of 1,000 adults, conducted for CSFB by Martin Hamblin GfK, showed that just 35 per cent now believed the UK should join the euro in the next two to three years. This was down from 42 per cent in January. The proportion opposed to entry rose from 46 per cent at the start of the year to 55 per cent, according to the poll conducted earlier this month."Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 08:17 | Permanent Link |
A REGULAR ON BBC2's Despatch Box, Kevin Maguire has a strangely endearing, laid-back smugness. But he has never particularly caught my interest in anything he has said. That was why I was surprised to see him write so good an analysis of the career of Arthur Scargill, now in its twilight. A self-styled Stalinist who promised to get the Queen a job in Woolworths once communists took over the country, Scargill lead two strikes against the Thatcher government. The first, in 1981, was met essentially by a government payoff, but Maggie used the next three years well. She built up coal reserves and framed laws to ensure that the unions' destruction of the governments of Heath and Callaghan would not be repeated under her watch. She succeeded, killing for ever the power of the National Union of Miners, a dreadfully violent union of communists determined to end the democratically elected government of the British people. Truly they were "the enemy within". As Maguire notes:
"The Yorkshireman inherited a 250,000-strong union when he won a pithead ballot to succeed Joe Gormley in 1981. He bequeaths an organisation affiliating 5,001 miners to the TUC, a pitiful figure - though many suspect even that is inflated. TUC bodies representing magistrates' clerks, airline pilots, probation officers and chiropodists can boast bigger memberships...
Scargill, who has taken to comparing himself to Nelson Mandela, is preparing his memoirs and may yet find a new platform. But, given his record, will anybody listen?"Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 07:50 | Permanent Link |
ONE OF THE most pervasive myths in the debate on drugs is that cannabis is comparatively safe; sometimes, it is claimed, even safer than alcohol. In fact, alcohol's greater use because of its legality is the sole reason it causes more problems. Cannabis itself is a very dangerous drug, which can trigger schizophrenia in the very young, counteract the effects of anti-schizophrenic drugs, and cause permanent brain damage given only one joint smoked every other day. Silly Police Commander Brian Paddick's experiment in Brixton was a monumental failure, an imposition on decent people who were hounded by violent drug dealers, and particularly on struggling teachers whose lessons were made worse by the arrival of kids too "zonked out" to do any work. These are not my words: they are the reports of the Labour MP for the area, Kate Hoey.
Yet despite the dangers of cannabis and despite the failure of the Brixton experiment, cannabis is effectively to be 'decriminalised' across the whole of Britain. Well, perhaps public support is the saving grace of this wickedly irresponsible scheme? Nope. Opinion polls today show starkly that a majority of 53% against 38% oppose the idea. This is a cross-party concensus of normal people against drugs, with more Tory, Labour and even Liberal Democrat voters being against the measure than for it.
So why must it be done? The Blairite agenda of revolutionary social liberalism that Peter Mandelson alluded to recently, in his introduction to The Blair Revolution Revisited, strikes again. Millions of decent men, women and children across the country, who rely on authority to do all it can to rescue them from the evils of drugs and narcotics dealings, will suffer for it.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 06:16 | Permanent Link |
MILTON FRIEDMAN IS ninety years old today. I can't say anything personal about him yet, I am afraid, as I am only a few pages into the Great One's Capitalism and Freedom, perhaps his most famous economic treatise. Instead, I will post links to five columns I saw recently, which celebrate the last ninety years, and his contribution to prosperity and liberty. Permanent Link |
IN THE SPIRIT of recent UN-bashing, I highlight this fascinating article by Douglas Sylva on the UN's response to AIDS - a "safe sex" programme that is having no effect:
"And, in the most shocking admission, the Population Division also concludes that the only significant behavioral change has been toward more monogamous relationships: "Among those respondents, whether male or female, who did change their behaviour, the most frequently cited change had entailed confining sexual activity to one partner."
It is not Pat Robertson saying this; it is not Jerry Falwell. The Population Division is made up of the U.N.'s chief statisticians. And they are admitting, in essence, that the billions of dollars spent to promote condom use have been wasted. Thanks to their research it is now also clear that — even with no money, no conferences, no encouragement from Elizabeth Taylor and Elton John — people in the world's poorest countries have begun to figure out that the only sure way to protect themselves is through abstinence."Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 00:54 | Permanent Link |
Tuesday, July 30, 2002
This site has now been up just under four days, and the response has been extremely encouraging. I have had nearly 750 page views on 500 separate visits to the site - not bad for a page so young. I thank everyone who has read some of what I have to say, and all those webmasters who linked to me, and who were kind enough to mention me in their own blogs and web sites.
I have now added the ability to comment on any post I make. I hope that the feedback I receive is as positive as has been so far, but if you think I am wrong, please let me know.
My 'Thought for the day' section will be written at least once a week, or perhaps every Saturday and Sunday. Thanks again for your support. I am glad there is such interest, and I'll keep on writing.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 23:18 | Permanent Link |
THANK YOU, Melanie Phillips! In "The case for war against Iraq", she boldly destroys all the arguments against taking part in the Second Gulf War. I would quote some of it, but the column is best read as a whole. Importantly, she is correct in noting that states do have a right to launch pre-emptive strikes in self-defence, and that even if Saddam is somehow deterred by Anglo-American weapons, he can easily leak his own to terrorist organisations who will use them for him. He must be stopped. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:51 | Permanent Link |
THE LIBERAL DEMOCRAT party stands for almost nothing. It is a party which gains nearly all its votes on the basis of a substantial distaste for both the proper parties, not through any enthusiasm for the policies they espouse. Whatever your ideological thinking, you are stupid to join the Liberal Democrats if you have any ambitions to achieve anything in politics. Those who do are the dregs of the Commons, a ridiculous collection of people, including Lembit Opik, who has spent his time in Parliament conducting a five-year publicity stunt: a campaign against asteroids and the threat they pose to the British people.
But I have thought for a long time that there is at least one exception to this rule: Menzies Campbell. An articulate, senior Scot, he speaks with authority, and he has the ability to be taken seriously. As Foreign Affairs spokesman, he has kept the Party's policies verging on sane (except towards Europe, of course). Unlike some in his party, has been supportive of American action in Afghanistan, and given emphasis to those who use the public sector as opposed to those who run it, to whom the Liberals normally give priority.
But on Newsnight last night, he was bewildering in his logic, or lack of it. Discussing Iraq, he accepted fully the threat Saddam posed:
"Now I don't doubt for a moment that Saddam Hussein has got chemical and biological weapons, and I believe he may be on his way to having a nuclear capability as well."
Despite this clear danger to the lives of millions of his own people, he asserted plainly:
"You've gotta have a legal basis for regime change..."
This was, of course, left-wing code for 'do whatever the UN says'.
So clearly, his options were limited either to hoping against hope that Saddam does not use his deadly weapons or hoping against hope that the UN Security Council (of which Syria is a member) would support an invasion of Iraq. He made clear which he believed:
"I don't think there will ever be a UN mandate for this... anyone else who joins in with the United States is at loggerheads with the United Nations and indeed with the customs of international law. I think Mr Blair would want to think very carefully before getting himself in that position, no matter how favourable he may think the fact that he's able to exercise influence over George Bush because of his ready response to the events of the 11th September last year."
So although he thinks Saddam certainly has chemical and biological weapons, with nuclear weapons on the way, his policy is simply to trust him not to use them, because the UN doesn't support it. I cannot believe a man like him can be so disinterested in defending the lives of his people. What on Earth does he think Saddam Hussein is making these gruesome weapons of mass destruction for if not to attack his enemies? What can give him any confidence that he Saddam will not use them? Mutually Assured Destruction only makes sense when you are dealing with leaders who care about the lives of their citizens. Saddam has already tested chemical weapons on his own people, so why should he have any qualms about hurting us, or care about our response?
And where exactly did the idea originate, now accepted by all the broadcast media and challenged by no one, that the decisions of the anti-Semitic, undemocratic United Nations define what is morally right and legal for all the world? We saw their depraved ravings last year in their conference in Durban, the week before September 11th, with Mugabe and Castro being cheered to the rafters, and resolutions being passed against Israel that included everything but the demand that all Jews wear a Star of David in public.
At this crucial moment, as ever, the UN and the Liberal Democrats are wrong, and America is right. I strongly believe we are on the eve of the Second Gulf War, and that good people will soon be risking their lives. But it is for the freedom and security of us all that they will fight, and it is right that they do.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 14:24 | Permanent Link |
BY GIVING THE parents of schoolchildren the money that would be spent on their kids in school back in the form of vouchers to go towards paying for their children's education, Canada's education system has flourished. This system is now being proposed in America. The teachers' unions and atheist extremist groups were furious, but the US Supreme Court rejected their false claims that the system was unconstitutional. Over here, this proposal would be a great improvement upon the present situation. If the Conservatives ever move beyond policies of reducing school bureaucracy, this would be a marvellous policy to adopt, which would win them the support of perhaps millions of parents who fear for their children's education. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 11:56 | Permanent Link |
PAUL DRAYSON, Chief Executive of Powderjet Pharmaceuticals, not so long ago donated £50,000 to the Labour Party. A few weeks later, he won a £32 million government contract to provide a smallpox vaccine to Britain. The result? Well, it seems sleaze kills, or at least has that potential:
"The government has ordered millions of doses of a smallpox vaccine based on what is known as the Lister strain of the disease to protect people in the UK in the event of a terrorist attack.
In the US, the Bush administration has bought a different vaccine developed by the New York City Board of Health to combat another type of smallpox which its scientists believe is more likely to be used by bio-terrorists."Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 11:03 | Permanent Link |
AFTER SEEING THIS cartoon in today's Telegraph, I can no longer doubt that a picture says a thousand words:
Monday, July 29, 2002
THE GOVERNMENT NOW seems to be back-tracking on plans to scrap the Right to Buy. As with the mad idea of taxing the recipients of rubbish, let us hope it comes to nothing. While we are on the subject of back-tracking, what happened to the idea of taking child benefit from the parents of truants? I can count on one hand the things New Labour has done that I have liked, but if this is ever done, it would certainly be one of them. Why should people be able to claim funding from the taxpayer while not meeting their most basic obligations as a parent? Prison sentences may be effective in some cases, and not others, but for nearly everyone, a serious diminution in household income is a major disincentive to bad behaviour. Every "right" must correspond to a responsibility, and the right to state support for your children must be matched by you ensuring they are educated enough to provide for themselves later on in life. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:40 | Permanent Link |
"EVERY MEP COSTS taxpayers nearly £1m a year compared with a UK MP's cost of £385,000 and £84,000 for a peer". I do not oppose paying our politicians highly. Attracting the best Chancellors and Education Ministers will not be achieved so long as they are paid a pittance compared to what they can earn in the private sector. When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys, as the present government demonstrates every week. But it seems that politicans are paid wages inversely proportionate to their usefulness to the country. While MPs are vital to our democracy, I doubt more than a few per cent of British people could even name one of their MEPs, or gives two hoots what they get up to. So why pay MEPs thrice as much? Similarly, isn't the Lord Chancellor the highest-paid Cabinet Minister? Anyone have a clue as to why? Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:26 | Permanent Link |
IMAGINE A COUNTRY where it is perfectly legal to turn a baby upside-down during birth, pull the legs, then the body, then the shoulders and neck from the womb, leaving the head alone inside. Now as the arms and legs wriggle, the baby ready to gasp for her first breath, you smash her skull and tear out the brain with a pair of scissors. Caligulan Rome? Nazi Germany? In fact, unbelievably, this is the law in the United States of 2002. So long as a pregnant woman wishes her baby dead, an abortionist has a legal right to kill the baby while she is being born. I am serious.
Now, this does not in any way reflect on the moral standards of the decent majority of the American people, only on the depraved moral standards of the Democrat Party. Republicans have for years made desperate efforts to end this carnage of partial-birth abortion, but every time, the Bills are ostensibly opposed for reasons of health - specifically that a woman who has already given birth to the entire body of her baby will put her life at risk by giving birth to the head. You don't have to be a scientist to see what is wrong with this argument. Indeed, you only need to have got to the 'fitting shapes into holes' stage at school to see through it.
These lies cover up a truth the Democrats dare not admit. They see any laws, any public measures, any organisation and any mother or father who values the unborn baby as a unique being, as a threat. They don't care about choice, as has been proved in earlier votes this last year. They opposed measures to grant extra medical care to the unborn, seeing distinguishing the baby from the mother as a step on the road to banning abortion. When it was proposed that violent criminals who cause pregnant women to miscarry should suffer extra punishment for the deaths of their unborn victims, their reaction was even more incomprehensible. They argued that giving even the vaguest legal rights to the baby would be threatening in the same way to abortion rights. So what about choice? What about the mother who chooses to value her baby as an independent, innocent human life? They want the state to remove that choice from her when it means charging the man who attacked her. The pro-choice lobby have no interest in life, liberty or property, only in ensuring that the legal status of the unborn can never be changed, even for the benefit of ordinary mothers and to the detriment only of wicked criminals. Like New Labour, the US Democrats have no ideological or principled vision, and seem to exist only to perpetuate abortion in the USA. That this determination seems to rule out reason, compassion or any compromise does not trouble them. If that means supporting a procedure like partial-birth abortion that is evil by any civilised standards, so be it.
Sometimes, the American Left honestly makes me glad we only have Labour and the Liberals over here.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:43 | Permanent Link |
STEPHEN POLLARD'S DEFINITIVE comments today on the abolition of the Right to Buy:
"Of the few people who do still pay attention, a large proportion are Labour types who have never been reconciled to the ultimate snub – that it was Mrs Thatcher who did more to transfer real assets to council tenants than Labour has ever done. One of those is Mr Prescott. He might not be able to do much about the one and a half million who have escaped local authority clutches, but he can at least stop anyone else."
The politics of destructive envy are back with avengeance. It's as though they never left.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:03 | Permanent Link |
THE INTELLECTUAL LEFT were horribly, monstrously wrong about the Soviet Union, and the strong support they lent to it should diminish them in front of most normal people. Yet we rarely find this, and instead see widespread affection in high places for the "comradeship" of those days. Why is this? TownHall has been particularly good today, so I link to a third column from it: David Horowitz's answer to this question, based on a recent book by Martin Amis, which looks critically upon the former Communist apologists who remain among the intellectual elite. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 07:29 | Permanent Link |
THE RECENT DEATH of Salah Shehadeh, military leader of Hamas and a terrorist butcher responsible for ending hundreds of innocent lives, made the world a slightly better place. But the deaths of so many civilians that he used as human shields was a tragedy. One can side with Israel against her attackers while still condemning the sort of blunder that turned a correct decision to bomb Shehadeh into a wrong decision to use a bomb capable of killing not only him but also over a dozen more people, which is of course what happened. Paul Greenberg sums up this sensible perspective admirably. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 07:13 | Permanent Link |
AN AMERICAN REPORT on the experience of gun control in Britain concludes that it has been a failure, has increased crime (including gun crime) and would be at least as damaging to the United States. The full details of the British experience will be available soon, but Paul Craig Thomas' column at TownHall today describes the American section of the study. Looking at the comparative risks of guns in the home compared with cars, bathtubs and vacuum cleaners, he really puts the statist gun grabbers' figures into perspective:
"Did you know that water is 19 times more dangerous to a child than a firearm? In 1996, 805 children died from accidental drownings and 42 died from firearm accidents. (Gun-control zealots inflate "child" firearm deaths by including teen-age drug-gang members killed in turf battles.)
Bathtubs are twice as dangerous to children as guns. Fire is 18 times more dangerous to children than guns. Cars are 57 times more dangerous. Household cleaners and poisons are twice as dangerous."Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 06:33 | Permanent Link |
LABOUR PLANS TO scrap the Right to Buy. Anyone with the most elementary knowledge of market forces will know that reducing rocketing house prices is a simple matter of increasing supply. With around 85% of the country uncovered by roads or towns, this is not a case of building on cricket pitches or something. And what effect, if any, will scrapping the Right to Buy have on this problem, anyway? The exact same people will be living in the houses, only they won't own a stake in society any more. We know the real reason for this move: electoral benefits. Just as the Tories cannot afford to be socially liberal because it means destroying marriage and the family, without which it is very hard to grow into a Conservative, Labour cannot afford to let people be self-reliant and own their own homes, or else they will start to see what little they get from government for what they pay, and start voting them out of office. This disgusting breach of an election promise will surely go almost unnoticed in the press and on TV, of course, but hundreds of thousands of British people will soon be less free and more dependent on government and welfare. Another Labour policy reversing twenty years of progress. Is there anyone these bastards won't betray? Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:48 | Permanent Link |
AS WAR LOOKS more and more likely, it is good to see some in the press finally making the case for defending the free world. The Sun is clear and right:
"If our enemies acquire nuclear, biological or chemical weapons they will use them on us.
Maybe Israel would be the target. Maybe America. Maybe Britain.
It is incumbent on President Bush, his White House team and Blair to ensure that does not happen."
An editorial in The Independent's takes the opposite view, with the rather startling title "However brutal the regime, Britain must not support an invasion of Iraq". Is the Indy really suggesting there are no depths to which Saddam can plunge that will change its mind about this war? Is that really the response of a civilised person?
The column finishes:
"The terrible truth is that the perpetrators of 11 September would want nothing more than a massive show of force by the Christian West against the Muslims of Iraq. For that reason alone, we should say no to war."
Considering the article gives only that reason to oppose war, it had better be sufficient, as is claimed. But in fact, I think it is nonsense. When Britain and the US took action in Afghanistan, the 'Muslim world' did not see it as an attack on them, or their religion, and nor was that their response during the First Gulf War. The 'Muslim world' can see who our enemies are, and when we react against those enemies, others are deterred from joining them. Much more likely they are glad to accept our eager offers of friendship.
What concerns me most of all is the cynicism of this sort of angle. After September 11th, the Independent as much as any other newspaper rightly made clear the distinction between moderate Muslims of the sort we all know in this country, and the violent Islamic fundamentalists of Bin Laden's sort. But now they seem willing to blur that distinction by implying that an attack on the latter is an attack on all Muslims. Such an inconsistent and cynical approach to an issue as serious as this does journalism a disservice.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:01 | Permanent Link |
Sunday, July 28, 2002
Thought for the day
If you believe in a truly libertarian society, your only way to success is in working to build a society based upon traditional morality, shame and chastity. Contradictory? Actually, no. Given a little examination, it turns out to be rather obvious; almost self-evidently true. If you want to live in a country where every man supports himself rather than looking to the taxpayer, where crime is rare and so massive police powers, ID cards and DNA databases are superfluous, you will not do so on the back of the destructive policies of social liberalism.
Libertarians traditionally do not look to history for the sort of society they wish to build. But I sense that the famous passage with which AJP Taylor begins his English History 1914-1945 comes closest to the libertarian ideal: a place where the normal, sensible Englishman comes into contact with the state only through the post office and policeman. The United States that existed before FDR's massive extensions in state power is similarly the model of the sort of America that libertarians across the pond seek to build. What all successful societies in history with small states have had in common is a strictly moral populace. Victorian Britain could survive without a large state precisely because pious ideas of shame, duty and self-reliance ensured that people would look to themselves for what they needed, rather than the state, and because crime was low enough that the state did not need to seek all the powers it could summon to fight back.
One mistake far too many libertarians make is to associate traditional morality with big government, and hostility to freedom. The opposite is true. The more influence morality has over a man's conduct, the less need there is for the state to control it. Crime can be reduced by many police, many laws, tougher sentences and more guns. But most of all, to have a low crime society without an overbearing state, you need to fashion the sort of country whose people are inclined not to commit crime in the first place. Roger Scruton made this point as brilliantly as ever in his call to "Bring Back Stigma":
"The law combats crime not by eliminating criminal schemes but by increasing the risk attached to them; stigma combats crime by creating people who have no criminal schemes in the first place. The steady replacement of stigma by law, therefore, is a key cause of the constant increase in the number and severity of crimes."
To see morality as inimical to liberty, as a threat to libertarian ambitions, is the most statist thing one can do. It is to leave the state as the only thing to pick up the pieces when society fails to function.
It is no mere joke to say that at present libertarians are those who like the liberal society but hate paying for it. Take a recent column on paedophilia in America's leading Libertarian Magazine, Reason, entitled "Sins of the Fathers". Throughout the article, the message is clear: molesting kids is wrong, but 'merely' wanting to rape them is not. The article is a rebuke aimed at all those with a moral problem with lusting after children.
"The issue is not sexual attraction; it is sexual action...
Bibliophilia means the excessive love of books. It does not mean stealing books from libraries. Pedophilia means the excessive (sexual) love of children. It does not mean having sex with them, although that is what people generally have in mind when they use the term. Because children cannot legally consent to anything, an adult using a child as a sexual object is engaging in a wrongful act. Such an act is wrongful because it entails the use of physical coercion, the threat of such coercion, or (what comes to the same thing in a relationship between an adult and a child) the abuse of the adult’s status as a trusted authority.
Saying that a priest who takes sexual advantage of a child entrusted to his care "suffers from pedophilia" implies that there is something wrong with his sexual functioning, just as saying that he suffers from pernicious anemia implies that there something wrong with the functioning of his hematopoietic system. If that were the issue, it would be his problem, not ours."
I believe that the dominance such people seem to have over libertarianism is a source of much of its undeserved failure. Such arguments only make libertarians sound nasty, extreme, and frankly strange. They may explain their defence of paedophilia on the grounds of a philosophical tradition of 140 years standing, but most ordinary people do not see it that way: what they see is a political movement apparently sympathetic to a pervert. Similarly, attacking the welfare state on grounds of economic efficiency is productive before some, but to the majority, it just looks like greed: not wanting to help those in need. Unless one explains in moral terms the evils of trapping people on welfare so that each time they make an economic advance there is a corresponding benefit cut, and of creating a state which appears to remove every citizen's private duty to others, how can one show that they are wrong to put this thinking down to greed?
So morality surely reduces the need for a large state. But does accepting the importance of morality in society mean a greater role for the state in other areas? I do not believe so. Let us look at the actual aims of social conservatives like Melanie Phillips, Peter Hitchens, Ann Widdecombe, Charles Moore, John Redwood, Roger Scruton and Theodore Dalrymple. How many can you name in mainstream journalism or politics who actually want to change the law to make homosexuality illegal, for example? I do not know of any. Again, we see the reality - the social "authoritarians" are not really authoritarian. They do not want new laws to stop immorality and crime: they want free people to choose to be good themselves. They want a country where virtue is praised and vice condemned.
Ultimately, the enemy of libertarians is state control, not self-control. Morality in ordinary life removes the need for the sort of huge state that politicians have built for us since the 1930s. The more people choose to be good of their own accord, the more convincingly one can question the need for an over-mighty government to keep them in line. But until libertarians give up their crusade against any idea of decent behaviour, I do not see them succeeding.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 22:09 | Permanent Link |
TONY BENN IS predicting another Suez Crisis if Britain makes any attempt to go to war again with Iraq. I have a lot of respect for him, both as a great orator and as a true gentleman, but I wouldn't trust his analyses for a second. As the British Task Force was sent to the Falkland Islands in 1982, Benn famously (and disgracefully) told the House of Commons that the attempt to capture them would fail. Two years later, he assured the House that the ultra-violent, communist National Union of Miners would never be defeated in their attempts to smash the government. He and his ilk have opposed war in the Falklands, the Gulf, Kosovo and Afghanistan, and all the doomsday scenarios have been wrong. Who for a moment thinks that Britain and America have the slightest chance of losing this war once we have the courage to commit ourselves? I am truly baffled that some think the pathetic conscripts we saw in 1991, who couldn't surrender fast enough, could pose a serious threat. These cowardly predictions are made every few years, and they are always wrong. In Kosovo, we heard that the knowledge of the terrain with which Milosevic's troops were blessed would make them a deadly threat. In Afghanistan, we were told that the fanatics of Al Quaeda would be the ultimate soldier: unafraid of death, motivated by a literally religious bloodlust. When we fought back, they turned tail and ran, leaving British forces still scouring the mountains today, looking for some terrorists to kill. While Iraq's army poses no significant threat to Anglo-American forces, her developing weapons of mass destruction could destroy us all. That is why war is right. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:46 | Permanent Link |
NEW LABOUR DIED last week. I had rarely felt so optimistic about the future for the Conservative Party after the week in which Brown chose to throw all that money away and the unions went berserk. Now, I am just baffled. If sacking David Davis was supposed to diminish his stature, it has been spectacularly counter-productive, turning a man unfamiliar to the great majority of the British people into a very senior figure who is probably, at this very moment, as well known as IDS himself. Despite his demotion, David Davis enters this week a more powerful man as a result of what was done to him. As ever, Party comes last and, like the country, continues to suffer. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 06:42 | Permanent Link |
AS CRIME BECOMES more and more an unremarkable part of life for the British people, we hear that "one in three men in Britain has a criminal conviction by the age of 40".
As to the reasons for this, the Observer has so many possible targets available: the failures of the education system, the crime-subsidising welfare state, the abolition of corporal punishment or conscription, liberal judges, hotel-room prison cells, lack of parental discipline. But - what a surprise! - they come to a somewhat different conclusion; that too many bad things are illegal:
"People whose behaviour merits legal sanction, but falls far short of what we commonly understand as a crime - minor motoring and public-order offences or failure to purchase a TV licence - are channelled through the criminal courts. If Mr Blunkett wants to get offenders back to work and release police officers to deal with real crimes, it is time to reconsider which of the 8,000 criminal offences on the statute book need the full force of the criminal law."
Now I am not necessarily saying that all of those 8,000 laws are sacrosanct, but I do not accept that scrapping large numbers of them is the answer to this problem. Countering crime by redefining it still leaves the same problems as before. I get worried by the arguments we keep hearing for leniency on petty offences on the grounds that it leaves more police time for the most serious crimes. Until we legalise everything but matricide, there will always be a more serious crime that requires police attention, but to treat the lesser offences as distractions rather than important problems in their own right is a deadly attitude to take against the victims of such crimes. But more than that is the fact that when you are the one who suffers, no offence is ever a minor offence. When your kids are unable to play in the streets safely because of brain-dead thugs driving at 60 miles per hour down it, or your mother has to pick up condoms and clear up pools of vomit from her garden every morning after the public-order offenders have become drunk and disorderly, you do not see these things as minor. They ruin lives and piece of mind for millions of good people around the country.
The alternative policy of zero-tolerance, pioneered in New York and Middlesbrough, has a much better track-record. Again and again, real life experiments show that when the police take all crimes seriously, and deal with all criminals harshly, including the graffiti-spraying vandal, respect for the law as a whole rises, and the criminal life becomes progressively more difficult. To stop emphasising some laws is to remove respect from them all, and to push back further the boundaries of bending the law. We all know those who do things just a bit illegal, and we don't worry so much about that. If we found out that someone we knew was involved in something the law does take very seriously, our attitude would probably change quickly. By reducing the number of offences which the law cares about, we give greater and greater social acceptability to those who border on criminality, while offering less and less with which society may fight back. All criminal offences are serious, and should be treated as such by those in authority. Better that the law steps in early on the conveyer belt to the criminal lifestyle, giving a short, sharp shock to a young offender, than when it is far too late to help either the crook or his victims.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:52 | Permanent Link |
CRISTINA ODONE HAS seen through the liberal elite, and celebrates their detachment from ordinary life in the Observer today.
"theirs is the great cause of secularism, feminism, meritocracy and highbrow culture. While enjoying the privileges of the well-off, they profess deep social concerns. The poor, single mums, women under the Taliban and working parents have all gained admirable support from these self-appointed guardian angels. But as in most fundamentalist sects, these priestesses will brook no dissent.
Anyone who is not with them is against them. Swathes of humanity and areas of existence earn their contempt. Popular heroes and popular culture, whose values and concerns fall outside this elite's narrow agenda, are sneered at as crass, or ignored as unworthy of comment."
She also mentions the personal attacks she has faced when writing controversial columns, reporting that "a senior political journalist had wished me stomach cancer".
Just about every man and his dog are coming to see what those who still call themselves 'liberal' really stand for: establishing one politically correct set of viewpoints and tolerating no deviation from them. Some joke that this is mere intolerance of intolerance, an excuse the PC mob grasp with both hands. But this is nonsense. There is nothing intolerant about not sharing the Guardian's view on gay rights, race relations laws or adultery. In no other area of politics is it considered intolerant to favour one view over another, perhaps privatisation over state ownership, or low taxes over high taxes. But in issues with favoured groups, like asylum seekers and single parents, a quarter of an inch deviation in either direction from the PC crowd marks you out as a wicked heretic. That the stone-throwers are the fanatics is not changed by them bawling "intolerance" as they do so.
Odone is right in what she says, but one thing troubles me. As Deputy Editor of the New Statesman, she surely must have had control over a columnist they employ called Mark Thomas*. Earlier this year, in the interests of tolerance, of course, he offered his full columnist's wages to anyone who could assassinate President Bush. He noted too that hearing of Lady Thatcher's recent stroke put a spring in his step. Now, I can't claim to know what precisely a Deputy Editor does, but if she let this go by, it seems a trifle hypocritical to be so high-and-mighty now over some PC bigot the New Statesman doesn't employ wishing stomach cancer on her. Is wishing death or disease on someone so different from editing a magazine whose columnists do the same and worse?
*Best known as the fat one in the infamous George Michael section of Newsnight last month.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 04:53 | Permanent Link |
The first counter (top right of this page) tracks the total number of hits the site gets. The second tracks the number of individual visits. If you refresh this page, the value on the first counter will increase because you viewed the page again, but that on the second will not, because it is the same visit.