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"We admire the development of the peace movement around the world in the last few years. We pray to God to empower all those working against war." - Saddam Hussein, February 2003

Saturday, August 31, 2002  

Do we need further mass immigration?
"It's a simple question, and one that I have been seeking an answer to for months: why should one of the most densely crowded islands in the world - with congestion problems, over-stretched public services, 1.5million unemployed and a housing crisis - want immigration at such levels that it is quadrupling the rate of population growth and bringing in enough people to fill the city of Cambridge every six months?"

So begins Anthony Browne's analysis of current immigration policy. It will be interesting to see if, and how, this question is answered.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:38 | Permanent Link |

Arafat can't even keep the blood of Palestinian teenagers off his hands

DESPITE HIS CONSTANT words of encouragement to homocide bombers and even the naming of public squares after them, Arafat's claim to have no real control or influence over the terrorists who murder and mutilate innocent Israelis every day is still believed by some. Such people should read The Times today:

"PALESTINIAN militants shot a teenage girl dead for “collaborating” with Israel, Palestinian sources said yesterday.
Rajah Ibrahim, 18, was the second woman in a week to be killed by members of the al- Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, who are affiliated to Yassir Arafat’s Fatah movement. She was shot in the head three days after being abducted in Tulkarm. Sources said she provided information to Israeli security services that allowed troops to track down and kill the group’s area commander, Raed Karmi, in January."

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 04:39 | Permanent Link |

Actions matter most, David, not words

NEXT TIME YOU find yourself thinking that David Blunkett, the pot-smoker's new best friend, talks some good sense, remember his actual actions in government, rather than his empty threats of action against criminals. Two government admissions come today, both of grotesque Home Office failure. The first is on street crime and the second on asylum.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 04:25 | Permanent Link |

Free markets and free trade, not gesture politics, are the solutions to poverty

FOR THE ONLY readable analysis of the Johannesburg Summit by a left-winger, check out John O'Farrell's column today. He takes the whole thing about as seriously as it deserves to be taken.

Meanwhile, in a masterful piece, Jennie Bristow asks why we have such summits when everyone from left to right knows they never succeed.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 03:39 | Permanent Link |

Friday, August 30, 2002  

Capital punishment saves lives

JOHN O'SULLIVAN MAKES a great case for the death penalty, also in the National Review. He writes that all the present arguments put up in against it gain strength not through any logical consistency, but through constant repetition. One particularly convincing part is in his contrasting the chances of an executed man being innocent against the chances of a guilty man killing again:

"Even though wrongful executions are exceedingly rare, we know a great deal about them. Yet we hear little or no mention of their exact equivalent on the other side of the argument — namely, murders committed by those who have already committed a murder, served their sentence, and been released to murder again (or who have murdered an inmate or guard in prison.) That is curious. For a few years ago there were 820 people in U.S. prisons who were serving time for their second murder of this kind.
If the death penalty had been applied after their first murders, their 820 subsequent victims would be alive today. That figure is not a statistical inference but an absolute certainty. Of course, it is intellectually possible for abolitionists to argue that it is better to acquiesce reluctantly in the murder of 820 innocent men than to execute mistakenly one innocent man — but somehow I doubt if that argument, stated so plainly, would convince the democratic majority.
What those 820 murders establish is that, contra the abolitionists, there is another strong argument for capital punishment. It is known technically as the argument from incapacitation (i.e., dead men commit no murders.) And that argument alone is more than adequate justification for capital punishment. That is perhaps why we never hear of it."

It's pleasing to see the work of England's Sword's Iain Murray being summoned as evidence, too.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 23:54 | Permanent Link |

No matter how often they are wrong, they get taken seriously

PERHAPS THE MOST tiresome thing about the critics of a war on Iraq is their own certainties. War after war, they have been wrong, yet they keep trotting out the same stuff, eagerly lapped up by the media. Victor Davis Hanson and James S. Robbins make this point brilliantly in the National Review, today.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 22:12 | Permanent Link |

Discriminating even against the disabled who joined the party

"We don't want a dwarf like you campaigning for us!" The attitude of the BNP? Or the UKIP? No - the Labour Party.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 02:40 | Permanent Link |

What are they fighting for?

IN AN INTERVIEW with the Financial Times, Jack Straw has confirmed that a referendum on joining the euro would not be halted by British military action against Saddam Hussein. Oh irony of ironies it would be if, while British troops were in Baghdad fighting for our freedom, government ministers were in London campaigning for us to surrender it for ever.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 01:54 | Permanent Link |

Thursday, August 29, 2002  

Time to lower the school leaving age?

ANDREW GIMSON WANTS a school leaving age of 14 for those who want to leave by then. At first, this seems very young, compared to ages for driving and drinking alcohol. But by that stage, doesn't just about everyone have some idea about whether he has a future in an academic career or not? If not, why not let him put himself to good use, get a job, earn some money and mature a little? It may make a group of people currently very disruptive and often violent much more responsible, hassling children and teachers less in school and committing less crime out of school. The worst of these cases all commit truant anyway, so perhaps giving them a legal, sensible alternative to compulsory education is the best option:

"The children who need, more than any others, to be given the option of leaving school are those who, after nine years of compulsory education, which is to say at the age of 14, have discovered that academic work is not for them.
To subject such children to two more years of the national curriculum amounts to a cruel and unnatural punishment. The humiliation of going to a classroom each day to be given work you are unable to do is a terrible thing. No wonder a large proportion of such children respond by doing all they can to subvert and ridicule the system that humiliates them in this way."

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:56 | Permanent Link |

Media bias across the West

SEE STEPHEN POLLARD's piece today on media bias. Very convincing stuff, and I'm looking forward to Slander coming out in paperback.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:43 | Permanent Link |

Is Bush really losing support?

ACCORDING TO SOME, President Bush's support is now in freefall. As Byron York shows, in fact, he simply gained temporary support after September 11th from those who would never vote for him anyway. With a return to a more realistic approval rating today, we see a truer picture.

"For months after September 11, the question of Bush's job-approval rating was, for some Democrats and independents, an index of patriotism in which one was supposed to give a certain answer. Now that is fading away, and Bush is losing the nominal support of Democrats and independents who did not - and would not ever - vote for him. Undoubtedly some of the president's post-September 11 increase in popularity is real and lasting. But we'll only know how much once all of his non-supporting supporters have dropped away."

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:06 | Permanent Link |

Now this is effective opposition

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH has promised that a Tory government under him will overturn any ban on foxhunting. This promise must stay in place. It is morally right, and if hunting is banned, it will swing hundreds of thousands of country votes our way, losing us next to nothing in urban support.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:49 | Permanent Link |


THIS SITE HAS now been active a month, and I am pleased with its modest success. Just short of ten thousand hits in the first four weeks of a site is a great start. Thanks to all who have visited and made comments on the page (good and bad), and please keep reading.

I'd also like cautiously to welcome a Stuart without a surname, whose new site British Spin has some interesting thoughts on the politics of the day. He gets off to a flying start by calling yours truly a "spotty Tory youth". Well, two out of three isn't bad. Best of luck to him.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:49 | Permanent Link |

Wednesday, August 28, 2002  

You can either have guns or government, Gerry - it's up to you

IF DAVID TRIMBLE is willing to work in government with an armed terrorist organisation carrying out attacks on Ulstermen, he does not deserve to be leader of Northern Ireland's Unionists. The IRA has had four and a half years to give up its guns, and instead, it has broken its ceasefire with murder, intimidation and "community policing" (kneecapping and mutilating fellow Catholics who don't fall into line). It is a very simple choice: the IRA can choose terrorism or it can choose the democratic process. It cannot have both, and no decent government should allow it to. If the Provos will not begin a ceasefire and start to give up all their weapons, let them be turfed out of office as soon as possible. The Ulster Unionist Council is right to force this choice upon those engaged in the peace process. If they succeed, many lives will be saved. If they fail, we can at least be honourable enough to refuse power to those who murder our people, pressuring them to stop. At the moment, we have the worst of all worlds: gunmen in government and innocent people shot in our streets.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 06:23 | Permanent Link |

Electricity - the next Summit Scapegoat?

WELL, you can try to make it up, but it is never as weird as the reality. Now a leading environmentalist is complaining about all of the products powered by "the tragedy of electricity". What comes next? A scathing attack on the inventor of the wheel? A suggestion that we return to living in caves? One has to wonder what we are supposed to be protecting the environment for, exactly, when these same people who urge us to save the earth seem to find fault with every human achievement in history.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 06:14 | Permanent Link |

Is the World Summit a waste of time and money?

TIRED OF THE BBC's self-righteous preaching about the environment and the pointless World Summit, I found Jonah Goldberg's column on the unlimited capacity of the environmentalist cultists to be wrong such a breath of fresh air:

Few groups, aside from the Flat-Earthers and fans of Carrot Top, have been more consistently wrong in their basic assumptions and predictions than the sustainable-development crowd.
The philosophical assumption undergirding sustainable growth -economic growth without depletion of natural resources -has a very old pedigree, dating back most famously to the 18th century economist Thomas Malthus, who claimed the world would starve because food production could never keep up with human population growth.
Perhaps the most famous modern Malthusian is Paul Ehrlich, an academic scare-monger who's still cited by the establishment press as a reliable expert. He predicted in 1968 that the "population bomb" would result in the mass starvation of billions of people, including some 65 million Americans by the 1980s.
Of course, Ehrlich, like all Malthusians before and since, was proven laughably wrong.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:51 | Permanent Link |

Tuesday, August 27, 2002  

No customer is more deserving of British arms sales than Israel

WHAT IS THE point in having a defence industry if, whenever a democracy is in need of our weapons, we put an arms embargo on it? It happened with Sierra Leone, and now it is happening with Israel. Britain's arms industry is the second largest in the world, and our weapons are among the best. We should be proud that Israel turns to us for help, and eager to supply them with what they need, and to sustain British jobs and the British economy in the process. These left-wing MPs who forced this embargo kick up more fuss over selling arms to Israel than they ever did over arms sales to Robert Mugabe. It only serves to show the twisted priorities that motivate them.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 11:35 | Permanent Link |

Left-wing priorities and values as screwed up as ever

IF, as The Independent reports today, the BNP is recruiting in prisons, maybe the left will start to reconsider the policy of releasing every crook after a slap on the wrist. You can't really expect them to care about thugs leaving prison and going on a violent crime spree, but maybe socialists and liberals will start to take an interest once they find out they are joining National Socialist parties.

By the way, Colin Moses, the new leader of the Prison Officers' Union, sounds a lovely gentleman. Listen to this bile:

"I believe prison officers have been wrongly branded as some sort of right-wing grouping.
"My election just reaffirmed what I had always believed. The vast majority are decent, hard-working people."

So according to him, those with conservative views are not decent or hard-working people now. Decency apparently has nothing to do with your concern for others, your kindness as a person and your commitment to your country and family, and everything to do with your political views, which must be very much left-of-centre. Anything else, and well, whatever your virtues, it isn't possible to work hard or be a decent person.

Even stranger is how he claims his own election "reaffirms" the virtues of the union members. Presumably those who voted for the other guy do not belong to that vast majority. What an arrogant and bigoted attitude to politics and to himself.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 11:02 | Permanent Link |

Hypocrite Heath

ACCORDING TO CABINET papers released under the thirty year rule, as Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath was deeply concerned about the cost to the country of a monarchy. It is interesting that this fiscal rectitude never got in the way of bad policy decisions on his part, however. People have differing views on the European Community, and some of you even believe we won't be less free under an EU constitution and a single currency. But apart from French lorry-burners, no one would claim the Common Agricultural Policy was a success. Yet it was 'save every penny' Ted who signed us up to this ridiculous system, costing the average family £20 extra per week just in higher food prices, and destroying British agriculture by punishing the productivity of our farmers. If Prime Minister Heath was so worried about wasted money, he should have looked to Downing Street for the reason, not Buckingham Palace.

Will we ever have a government that offers better value for money than the monarchy? I wonder.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:44 | Permanent Link |

Make no mistake - what Monbiot proposes is a road straight to tyranny

GEORGE MONBIOT MAKES an interesting case against economic growth in the Guardian today, beginning with an attack on the free market:

"Let us imagine that climate change does not exist, that pollution does no damage to ecosystems or human health, that fisheries are not collapsing, freshwater reserves are not drying up, topsoil is not eroding, and forests and coral reefs are not disappearing. Let us pretend there is no conflict between two of the avowed goals of the current earth summit: relieving poverty in the poor nations while enhancing economic growth in the rich ones. Let us pretend that there is no competition for resources between rich and poor. Let us accept, in other words, the myths of neoliberalism."

'Neoliberalism', I should explain, is one of those left-wing terms invented to marginalise a certain view and make their own sound better. Just as appeasement becomes 'examining the root causes' and taxing the wealth-creators out of the country becomes 'social justice', the free market becomes 'neoliberalism'. There is nothing new about the free market, which existed ever since a caveman offered a piece of food in exchange for some clothing. But adding 'neo' and 'ism' makes it sound like a radical new ideology to want the economy to be run broadly as it was run from the beginning of time until 1939.

Anyway, there is nothing inherent to the free market that makes scepticism of the doom-mongers solely a belief of economic liberals. For example, the most articulate and expert critic of environmentalist claims, Bjorn Lomberg, is a socialist. As for the latter points, anyone with a basic understanding of economics should understand why economic growth in the West does not conflict with economic growth in third world nations, why they can both become richer together. Once one gets past the 'fixed quantity of wealth' fallacy, economics makes much more sense. Suddenly, you don't wonder why recessions are bad for everyone, or why countries can manage to trade with one another without the richer one impoverishing the other. But for Monbiot's sake, it needs to be said again. There is not a fixed quantity of wealth in the world. People value different objects differently, so if one person values a book priced £10 more than that sum of money, and someone wants £10 more than the book in question, they both gain from the trade. Voluntary economic transactions are never about exploitation. They are about exchange for mutual benefit. So the best way for poverty to be extinguished everywhere is for the West and the East to trade as freely as possible, with no barriers getting in the way. This isn't 'market fundamentalism', or dogma - it is a simple recognition of the fact that government just isn't needed in this matter. People can do fine without it, and they are freer to spend money as they wish that way.

Monbiot writes impressively a little further down about the limits of money:

"But while poverty does not cause happiness, there appears to be some evidence that wealth causes misery. Since 1950, 25-year-olds in Britain have become 10 times more likely to be affected by depression. And it is surely fair to say that most of us suffer from subclinical neuroses, anxiety or a profound discomfort with ourselves."

Of course, he is right. Money does not solve all of life's problems, or bring happiness to anyone with a soul. But who exactly has claimed that it will? The enduring myth that conservatives are the ones obsessed with money just will not die, despite it being the polar opposite of the truth. In fact, it is socialists and their liberal friends who see money as something political, something for politicians to involve themselves in. Conservatives take a different view entirely: money and property rights are necessary to preserve a free society, but they are not political means or ends. The conservative view is that politicians should keep their hands off. Socialists want government departments to determine the amount of money everyone ought to receive, and distribute it according to a bureaucrat's assessments of needs. Who is really obsessed with money here?

He concludes:

"We know that the world is already rich enough to meet all real human needs, but that this wealth is not trickling down from rich to poor. We know that while there is a desperate need for redistribution, further growth in the rich world is likely to make everyone more miserable."

Growth not only makes people miserable, he claims, but damages the environment, by allowing more businesses to form, which pollute more. Conversely, recessions destroy polluting businesses, so they are good for the environment. (Isn't 'green economics' creepy and cold?)

The frightening thing is he cannot see any difficulty in his vision, and makes no reference to the monstrous state that would be necessary to implement Monbiotism. Just think about the arrogance of what he says, too. We are all too rich, he claims, when thousands of parents live in smaller houses in dangerous parts of the town to get their kids to decent schools, where those who can't afford to go private in medicine die on a waiting list, where it costs £50 to fill a family saloon with petrol. But once Monbiot says we have enough money, that is it, as far as he is concerned. Any notion of personal ambition after that must go. The entrepreneur who works to give money to charity must stop growing the economy because Monbiot says we are all too rich. Wanting a better life for one's kids, a bigger garden, a cottage in the country, are all suddenly beyond the pale because George Monbiot says so, and he recognises no limits to government, and no notion of majority tyranny.

The government that decided at what level the country had become too rich would be a bureaucracy to put Stalinist Russia to shame. First, it would have to tax massively. Of course, that would cause 'brain drains' of intellectuals and wealth-creators just as the criminally high taxes of the Healey years did, but socialists don't seem to care about that. They see ability to earn great wealth as a character flaw, and see the rich leaving the country the way most people see bogus asylum seekers being turned away. Second, it would make bureaucrats rulers of everyone's life in a way we have never seen before. With them deciding who is entitled to what, you owe the government everything. If you want to use the government's money in a particular way (you would have none of your own - the state would own 100% of national income and distribute it as necessary), you have to appeal to the government. Just imagine how anyone wanting to fund an opposition party would fare in that case.

You don't even have to care about property rights, or make a moral distinction between those who earn money and create wealth, and those who would only receive it, to see what is wrong with this sort of society. In George Monbiot's world, the bureaucrat would be King - his judgement and whim dictating thousands of lives - and the individual nothing. All of this would be essential in the name of redistribution of wealth, yet Monbiot claims to derive his views from a disinterest in money.

[Edit: For a great line-by-line refutation of Monbiot's article, check out The Screed. Thanks to Tom Roberts for the link.]

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 02:51 | Permanent Link |

Monday, August 26, 2002  

Follow the Goldbergs around the States

COSMO GOLDBERG IS on holiday, and his owner, National Review Online's Editor, is keeping a travel blog. Amusing stuff as ever: well worth a read.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 20:31 | Permanent Link |

Everything these people know, they learned from TV, so don't expect human decency from them

WHEN TELEVISION FASHIONS a society to respect only public grief, only compassion shown on camera, only tears shed in public, it is no surprise that "grief tourism" should be so successful. The people of Soham are expecting too much if they are surprised that busloads of locals now bring their insincere words and their crocodile tears. Only modern society could make a ghoulish, perverted interest in murder and death respectable.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 11:40 | Permanent Link |

Those who gloat over Enron have a vicious agenda of their own.

GIVEN THE RECENT accounting scandals and their tarnishing effect on the free economy, some communists have never had it so good. Andrew Busch reports:

Ever since the collapse of the Soviet bloc, the radical left has been on the defensive as the advocates of a system of thought discredited by history. One can sense that they have lived a decade or more in a vast intellectual bunker desperately awaiting the slightest sign of economic trouble to seize upon as evidence that Marx and his doctrine should be rehabilitated. Now they are emerging into the daylight.

He does a good job of refuting the arguments of most apologists for Marxism, but I would add my own thoughts to this. A number of people have said that the reason communism failed was Marx's optimism about human nature: people are too selfish for a communist system to work. Those who give this explanation aren't normally able to explain themselves and say why human selfishness makes a difference. The reason is that it doesn't. Selfishness is not anything concrete that can have an effect on an economic system. Is it the man who puts in extra hours every night for his kids who is selfish, or is it the man who does minimal work and allows them do without? The idea that earning more money to improve one's own condition and that of one's loved ones is selfish doesn't stand up. Sadly, it is a reaction to the way many people cannot handle the idea that "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" is a bad idea in theory, and one with consequences monstrous enough that it should never be attempted again. To blame communism's failure on a single part of human nature is to imply it is worth retrying in a century or so should we become less "selfish". Nothing could cause more suffering.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 11:22 | Permanent Link |

Subsidising terrorism only makes things worse

I LOVE THIS idea that the West should target large sums of money at third world countries in an effort to counter terrorism, based on the erroneous belief that poverty and hopelessness turn decent people into mass murderers. First of all, the terrorists with the most blood on their hands are very often extremely wealthy, Bin Laden and Arafat being obvious examples. Second, Africa is by far the world's poorest continent, and whatever problems it has, it does not inflict much terror on the rest of the world. But most of all, after three thousand were murdered, do these liberals really think it make sense to repond by paying out a huge lump sum to those likely to be guilty of the same thing in future? Imagine if a Mafia hitman killed a New York police chief and his family. Would it make sense to give a big pay-out to Italian-Americans in the hope of placating them enough that they don't try it again? And would anyone be surprised if the next police chief were soon murdered, when the precedent of rewarding murder with money had been set? On the world scale, it works the same way. You don't respond to crime by paying out money to likely criminals: you fight the crooks and bring them to justice. Danegeld was wrong many centuries ago, and it is wrong now.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 04:12 | Permanent Link |

Appealing to young voters makes sense - but be sure to do it right

TORY CAMPAIGNS TO appeal to young voters are now going to take a novel twist:

Every teenager in Britain is to receive a birthday message from the Conservative Party when they turn 18, it has emerged.
Each 18-year-old will be sent a voting age "welcome pack" by their local Conservative association in an attempt to recruit younger people into the party.

I am cautiously in favour of this proposal. I think it may pay off in marginal seats, so it is money well spent. But there are ways to do this well, and ways to do this badly. The bad way would be to try to appeal in some apolitical way. Being young myself, I know the sort of thing that is apparently supposed to appeal to younger voters. I have sat in politics classes watching videos where every camera angle is deliberately slanted, and the same droning pop song is played in the background every few minutes for half an hour. No votes will be won by sending leaflets with a childish font and a foul-mouthed "relaxed" message inside.

It may put some off, but votes will be won with an explanation of what the party stands for: how young people will pay less taxes, have more choice and be more free under the Tories. There are no special tricks to winning the support of younger voters: as with everyone else, some of them agree with Conservative principles, some don't, and some grow to like them later. In this propaganda, aiming for the first group is key.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 03:47 | Permanent Link |

Sunday, August 25, 2002  

GUESTBOOK ADDED TO the page. Netcomments closed down so comments now hosted at Haloscan.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 01:16 | Permanent Link |
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