Saturday, September 07, 2002
Why not side with the good guys?
IN THE TELEGRAPH, Mark Steyn remembers September 11 last year, and rightly looks with pity on those twisted people who feel America brought the attacks on herself. I think this is the most appropriate response. People whose minds are so warped they cannot recognise evil when they see it, and can only in their confusion and hate look for reasons to blame the victim, deserve nothing else.
It's the details that stick. I was in a skyscraper last week and looked across and caught the eye of a woman in the building across the street, and I thought of the people in the south tower, after the first plane hit, glancing out the window and seeing the jumpers from the north tower going by - men in business suits, necktie up and flapping, choosing to take one last gulp of air and plunge to their deaths rather than burn and choke in the heat.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:44 | Permanent Link |
Is Brown starting to feel protective of "his" economy?
THE SUN REPORTS on Gordon Brown's most recent thoughts on the euro, portraying his comments as very sceptical: a warning that membership could be a repeat of the disasters of the Exchange Rate Mechanism:
“To join EMU without a proper, full assessment of the tests could prejudice the UK’s stability. It would risk repeating past failures.”
Knowing Brown's ducking and dodging on issues like this, I would interpret such words as deliberately ambiguous rather than eurosceptic. Even so, I can understand how the Chancellor may believe that an economy as successful as ours could really be jeopardised by Economic and Monetary Union with the rest of Europe. Of course, Brown's mistake is to put this success down to himself, when he just hasn't been given enough time to screw up the golden legacy he inherited - an economy the best shape since before the First World War. Britain's drop from 9th to 19th place in the international competitiveness league and its plummeting savings ratio are a good start, however. That's what happens when so many burdens are loaded on business and savers are taxed mercilessly. Thankfully, when the time comes we can vote Gordon Brown out. Joining the euro would change that permanently, ensuring the key decisions for the British economy would be made by people we can never remove at the ballot box.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:39 | Permanent Link |
"Keynesianism is rubbish" - Paul Marks
Obituaries for Baroness Young:
Friday, September 06, 2002
Those who've forgotten the difference between right and wrong take the bait again
SOMETIMES I JUST cannot fathom the way some people react to common sense statements with which no one who believes in a lawful society can disagree. Reports the Guardian:
The home secretary, David Blunkett, last night sparked a new row when he described those jailed after the Bradford riots as "maniacs" who should stop "whining" about their sentences and attacked the "bleeding heart liberals" who have questioned the length of the prison terms.
The Home Secretary is not a stupid man: he knows exactly the sort of reaction these words will generate long before making such statements, and relishes the attention he gets from the Lib Dems, the Guardian, Independent and BBC. When attacked by them, he gets to disguise his relatively softly-softly approach to crime behind the criticisms of our liberal elite, putting himself on the side of the victims of crime, which is anything but the truth. Yet they fall into his trap every time.
Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, claimed Mr Blunkett had yet again displayed a mix of the sensible and the irrational.
And where did Blunkett suggest that he should be responsible for sentencing? Nowhere at all. But Hughes couldn't help but criticise an obviously true statement because it was levelled at thugs and vandals many of whom happened to be Asian. I suppose that in this day and age we ought to be pleased that we have a Labour Home Secretary who is against all criminals and louts, whatever their ethnic origins. That he manages to expose those who do not see crime this way is to their shame and a credit to his political cunning. But let's not be fooled into thinking his policies are to the benefit of anyone who obeys the law or is a daily victim of crime. As Labour's Austin Mitchell puts it, New Labour is all about "talking right and walking left". In no case is that truer than Blunkett's.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 04:19 | Permanent Link |
Commenting restored.Permanent Link |
Thursday, September 05, 2002
Why the Summit deserved to fail
ANDREW KENNY SPENT two days at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, and "everywhere saw science cringing before superstition, reason retreating from irrationalism, and capitalism grovelling before fascism". He reports on the hypocrisy and callousness of those who want to damn to poverty and hunger those without the benefits of modern technology, based on the erroneous belief that this is better for the environment.
Greenpeace, the eco-fascist organisation whose flair for publicity is a match for Hitler in the 1930s, stole the headlines on the issue of energy. In South Africa, poor people use very dangerous and dirty energy, namely coal, wood and paraffin, which they burn in their houses and shacks. The toll of death and disease is appalling: more than 4,000 children a year die from paraffin poisoning; fires kill and mutilate thousands more; air pollution in households reduces life-expectancy by 15 years. But just north of Cape Town is Koeberg nuclear power station, safe, economic, with no emissions and producing tiny amounts of stable waste which are easy to dispose of safely. In a brilliantly symbolic act, Greenpeace ignored the plight of the thousands of people dying from dirty energy and staged a showy demonstration at Koeberg, the source of the cleanest electricity in Africa.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:22 | Permanent Link |
A change for the better
AMERICA REALLY DID change on September 11th last year, says Mark Steyn in the Spectator today. It woke up and began to recognise without doubt that negotiation with evil, moral relativism and the notion of a peaceful world following the Cold War were all lies.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 14:46 | Permanent Link |
It's not what's better that matters: it's what's best
MICHELLE MALKIN WRITES in the Jewish World Review of the latest teenage craze sweeping the States: mixed-sex sleep-over parties authorised by negligent parents.
"I just feel it's definitely better than going to hotels, and this way you know all the kids who are coming over, you know who they are with," said Edna Breit, a Maryland mom who allows her teen son to invite up to 20 girls and boys to sleep over, bathe in a hot tub, and stay up until dawn watching movies in the family basement.
Breit shared her furtive method of policing her young overnight guests: "You keep the serving bowls for snacks small. That way you have the pretext to go down there and refill." This is pathetic. How is it that we arrived at a point where a grown woman is proud of turning her home into a coed Comfort Inn, where parents must dream up sneaky ways to spy on their own children? When did "better than" judgements replace doing what’s best for your children?
This is a crucial point, and it reveals a great deal about the attitudes of too many modern parents. Rather than declare that some behaviour is wrong, and some behaviour is forbidden, they prefer to find ways to make it somehow 'safe' and acceptable. That way they get the illusion of parental control without the difficulties of having to say "no". But the result is a large number of spoiled brats whose demands are always met and, however unreasonable they may be, taken seriously so long as they are moderated a little by the parents.
Sadly, in all its actions the state absolutely refuses to support those parents who do try to keep control, the most cynical and knowing collectivists seeing the family as a threat to its power. In this country, here and now, doctors give away contraceptive pills funded by the taxpayer to children too young to have sex legally (briefly forbidden in 1984, the only year the abortion rate ever fell). Schools prescribe the abortifacient morning-after-pill to pupils and teach value-free sex and drugs education aimed at the lowest common denominator. Ever more liberal drug laws make clear that young people who indulge in the selfish and grubby habit of drug-abuse have nothing to fear. The state is consistently distrustful of the loving and knowing authority of parents. No wonder so many teenagers throw away their futures becoming pregnant to louts or addicted to narcotics when good parents can expect no support from authority, and be assured of every effort from government to undermine their attempts to mould their offspring into decent people.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 12:15 | Permanent Link |
Greece bans the Gameboy!
Wednesday, September 04, 2002
What more can they do, Geoffrey? Brainwashing?
GEOFFREY HOWE SAYS this Labour government is "too passive" in making the case for destroying the pound for ever. I find this hard to believe when Peter Hain is using The Disney Channel to spout euro propaganda to innocent kids who only want to see Mickey Mouse.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 18:35 | Permanent Link |
Socialist solidarity wearing thin
WHEREAS PETER HITCHENS is devastating in his argument and nearly always right, his brother Christopher has style by the bucketload. He is a fantastic writer and a loveable gentleman. Despite his Trotskyism, he has written extensively against people like Clinton, and defended America against those "comrades" of his who think she deserved her fate on September 11 and that fighting back in self-defence is wrong. Anyway, his response to his friend Martin Amis' recent work Koba, though hardly an advert for communism, is fantastic. I urge you to read it.
Only one thing puzzles me. Hitchens says in the letter that he is opposed to those on the left who succumb to "a creepy concept of 'moral equivalence' between the United States and its (actually our) enemies - whether Christian Orthodox thugs in the Balkans or Islamic fascists in Afghanistan or national socialists in Mesopotamia." And there I was thinking this was the same Christopher Hitchens who wrote a book a few years ago called The Trial of Henry Kissinger, urging that he be tried for so-called war crimes.* How could I be so mistaken?
*Much of the evidence for it, incidentally, being summoned from unforgivably dishonest selective quotations from Kissinger's memoirs, if reviews of the book are to be believed.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:02 | Permanent Link |
The left lives up to the caricature
I hate to steal Peter Briffa's thunder, as he does this sort of thing so well, but this really brought a smile to my face.
"It doesn’t really matter what Bush does any more. He’s appallingly isolationist except when he’s being dangerously interventionist. He’s an arrogant, swaggering cowboy except when he’s being a shrinking violet."
"The isolationism that could be heard among some Republicans before 9/11 has been replaced by a militant unilateralism, not confined to the governing elite."Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 12:12 | Permanent Link |
Ignorance untempered by humility
THOSE ON THE right who worry about falling standards and subtle political propaganda in schools, may not yet appreciate a third problem: the growing tendency for schools not merely to play no part in stifling ignorance, but to make the ignorant actually feel good about knowing nothing. The US is often a grim predictor of social trends that will sweep Britain, and one wonders how much of Mark Goldblatt's report on this phenomenon in New York schools may come true, or be true, here.
[A]fter years of psychotherapy disguised as pedagogy, ignorance is now buoyed by self-esteem — which, in turn, makes students more resistant to remediation since they don't believe there's a problem... For the last two decades, I've taught freshman courses at CUNY and SUNY colleges in the city; the majority of my students have been products of the city's public schools. I am saddened, therefore, to report that more and more of them are arriving in my classes with the impression that their opinions, regardless of their acquaintance with a particular subject, are instantly valid — indeed, as valid as anyone's. Pertinent knowledge, to them, is not required to render judgment.
Want to scare yourself? Sit down with a half-dozen recent public high-school graduates and ask them what they believe. Most are utterly convinced, for example, that President Kennedy was murdered by a vast government conspiracy. It doesn't matter to them that they cannot name the presidents before or after Kennedy. Or the three branches of government. Or even the alleged gunman's killer. Most are convinced, also, that AIDS was engineered by the CIA — even though they cannot state what either set of initials stands for. Most will voice passionate pro-choice views on abortion — even though they cannot name the decision that legalized it. Or report the number of judges on the Supreme Court. Or define the word "trimester." Most will happily hold forth on the hypocrisy of organized religion — even though they cannot name the first book of the Bible. Or distinguish between the Old and New Testaments. Or state the approximate year of Jesus's birth (a trick question). Most will bemoan global warming — even though they cannot name three greenhouse gases. Or convert Fahrenheit temperatures to Celsius. Or say what planetary phenomenon causes seasons.
... [Students] have been robbed — and not simply of the instruction they should have received through 12 years of primary and secondary schools. They have been robbed of their entrée into serious cultural debate. Robbed even of the realization that they are stuck on the outside looking in. They are doomed to an intellectual life of cynicism without ever passing through knowingness, a life in which they grasp at platitudes to resolve momentary disagreements and do not possess the analytical wherewithal to pursue underlying issues.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 03:52 | Permanent Link |
Appeasers of Saddam are worse than appeasers of Hitler - John O'Sullivan
Tuesday, September 03, 2002
Trimble has a future, but not as UUP Leader
HOW CAN ONE man manage to talk so much sense? This is the only way I can react to Kit Kildare's fantastic piece on the Ulster Unionists today:
From a Unionist point of view, there’s a vast amount wrong with the Good Friday Agreement. There are the terribly big, terribly wrong things, such as freeing terrorists. Then there’s the stuff in the middle range of awfulness, like the kulturkampf against British symbols in the North (despite, in the South, as far as I’ve seen, the failure to, oh, rebuild Nelson's Pillar). Throw into the mix that Unionists confront this having met all the obligations they faced under the Agreement whilst Republicans have yet to do the one thing asked of them, and you can see why middle Ulster is unhappy. And, despite what you might think, the argument that they should be ‘grateful for peace’ never quite washes, as Unionists don't think they were responsible for there not being peace in the first place. Hence, they’re not overly keen on rewarding people for, more or less, giving up bad habits they never should have had in the first place.
The truth is that for all his efforts, Trimble was just too trusting and too compromising to achieve a workable settlement for the decent people of Ulster. He was unwilling to stick to sensible deadlines and too willing to agree to extreme terrorist demands. For him to continue would now be seen as treachery by too many Unionists in Ulster. The solution is his resignation:
Just about all his current, progressive supporters damned his election as party leader in 1995; whereas, in fact, David Trimble was the right, the brave, and the imaginative choice. Now, having followed his newly acquired friends’ advice too closely, he is in danger of wrecking the Agreement by destroying what it rests upon: the electoral viability of the UUP. For Ulster, and for peace, David Trimble should go (to SW1).
By SW1, Kildare means the Shadow Cabinet, and it is a truly excellent suggestion. There, most likely as Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary, he could present the Conservative case for lasting peace on democratic - not terrorist - terms, and save the Good Friday Agreement by bequeathing its problems to someone willing to fight for what is right as hard as the IRA fights for its own wicked ends. Jeffrey Donaldson would be just the man for that. A moderate Unionist, he supported the Good Friday Agreement right until the end, when he walked out in opposition to the fudging of the terrorist decommissioning issue. Considering the IRA is a quarter of a decade past its deadline for decommissioning of all weapons, yet still in government, Donaldson's suspicions have sadly been proved 100 per cent correct.
As well as a good, intelligent man who would oppose terror from wherever it came, Donaldson is young, good looking and convincing - a suitable leader for modern Unionism. But most of all, as a former agent to Enoch Powell during his time as Unionist MP for South Down, he has a particular closeness to many figures in the Conservative Party. I last saw him cheerfully sat beside the Tory MP Andrew Rosindell on the Commons benches.
The best prospects for peaceful union involve not only a full incorporation of Northern Ireland into Britain, but also a non-sectarian Ulster where the people vote red or blue, not green or orange. If background deals continue to go well, and the Ulster Unionist Party and the Conservative and Unionist Party were to unite, we would be more than half-way there. So many Ulster Catholics currently support the union with Britain (at least one-third), but they flinch from voting across sectarian lines. A Conservative and Unionist Party - currently lead by a Catholic who fought the IRA when a soldier - would be a perfect home for so many of them. Uniting these two parties would help end sectarianism, encourage lasting peace and gain the Tory Party a significant number of seats. Jeffrey Donaldson is perhaps the man most likely to deliver that unity. He could go down in history as the last Unionist Party leader, but also the man who made it possible for his people to be full and equal parts of the country they love. He is the right choice for UUP leader for so many reasons, and I only hope he can take over the party before it is too late to stop the DUP and Paisley, who could so easily drive Unionism into a cul-de-sac with only one exit - a united Ireland.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:18 | Permanent Link |
Class hatred exposed in all its glory
THE VILEST MEMBERS of the brigade of inverted snobs who want to ban hunting are now inciting criminal actions against those prominent figures who disagree with them, giving those people's home addresses to their fanatical followers:
On its website, the group states that it has chosen to name only "the more prominent" supporters of fox hunting, but warns that the list is not exhaustive and that others could be published soon.
It goes on to urge anti-hunt activists to break the law, saying the alliance is "committed to encouraging [actions] on their property".
Although the group is vague about what the protests should entail, it does not rule out vandalism or violence, saying: "These toffy nose b*****ds deserve everything that's coming to them."
One message of solidarity published on the website, urges saboteurs to "hunt them down and give them a piece of their own medicine". Another states: "The only good hunter is a DEAD one."
I do not doubt that the odd obscure figure does oppose hunting on grounds of animal welfare. But for everyone else who wants to scrap this ancient liberty, the motivation is class hate - something just as vile and indefensible as racial hatred - with all the dangerous consequences of that clear in the quotes above.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 09:43 | Permanent Link |
Monday, September 02, 2002
Haloscan is down at the moment. I'll restore commenting as soon as they sort themselves out.
Andrew Sullivan is back from his holidays, blogging away merrily again. Not to be missed.
Working with Ann Widdecombe - John O'Farrell
Kindness to one's opponents doesn't help
I AM RATHER a fan of Oliver Letwin, and I think that most of the time he presents the Conservative case politely and convincingly. But he irritates me severely with his kindness to his opponents, which is neither reciprocated nor, quite frankly, deserved. On BBC1's Question Time earlier this year, for example, the left-wing members of the panel all condemned the press for what they had written about Cherie Blair. She had just blamed Israel for the terrorist attacks it faces, implying it should end the policies that gave suicide bombing vermin "no hope but to blow themselves up". Someone called Linda Smith said that the press criticism would have been appropriate only if Cherie had joined Hamas. Then Oliver Letwin, a Jew himself, claimed to agree with them, losing any chance to damage the government over what was a disgraceful comment. He was only made to look silly as a result, with the lefties trying to trump his position with further expressions of sympathy for Palestinians. One has to ask whether such acts of kindness help conservatives at all. Over at Townhall, Ann Coulter gives an American perspective, answering firmly in the negative.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 13:27 | Permanent Link |
Saddam is a grave threat
THOSE IN ELITE circles who oppose war with Saddam are not so different from contemporary critics of Churchill, Alan Judd writes. Blind or indifferent to the dangers posed, if their arguments win the day, they will imperil us all:
Superficially, Hitler was a much bigger threat to us, much closer to home than Saddam Hussein. But since then, in war as in trade and communication, the world has got smaller. Given the means of delivery (overtly by missile or plane, or covertly by, say, building a nuclear device into a container ship), weapons of mass destruction are at least as great a threat in the hands of a distant hostile power now as was the much closer, conventional Luftwaffe in 1940. How would Tony Blair explain to the survivors of a devastated Southampton that, well, yes, actually, we did know that Saddam was planning something like this but it didn't at the time seem right to do anything about it?Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 11:16 | Permanent Link |
Demographic changes might deliver for the Democrats what modern voters will not
MARTIN KETTLE SAYS the US needs a regime change, being as it is oh-so-simplistic in the war on terror. Much better to have a government committed to investigation and solving of the "root causes" than one that kills the terrorists who kill Americans. Ahead of any studies into the matter, I can confidently predict that the first 'root cause' is that the US is rich and some other countries are not. The solution is to get in touch with their ambassador and send them a monthly cheque to keep their terrorists at bay. The second 'root cause' is not permitting the state of Israel to be swallowed up and sink into the ground. The solution to this one is simpler still.
But how will these policies of appeasement be delivered? Kettle has the answer:
In their striking new book The Emerging Democratic Majority, the left-of-centre writers John B Judis and Ruy Teixeira have used census data, voting studies and exit polls to argue that a combination of deep-rooted modern American demographic, economic and cultural trends is beginning to stack the odds ever more heavily against the Republicans.
The new majority, they argue, is based on professionals, women and minorities, all of whom, especially the Latino minority, are growing as a proportion of the electorate, and all of whom are keen to vote. These Democratic voters are concentrated in postindustrial urban "ideopolises" in the north-east, the upper midwest, the west coast and in significant parts of the south, including Florida and Virginia. Judis and Teixeira go out of their way not to be deterministic, but their argument is undeniably intriguing. As long as Democrats remain fiscally moderate, socially liberal, reformist and egalitarian, the authors say, the party will enjoy the edge over Republicans for years to come.
The frightening thing is I can see it happening. In Britain, a radical conservative government like Thatcher's could actually seize the reigns of power and prove to people the virtues of a freer society. In the US, the government is split into so many parts that it is near impossible for the Republicans to begin a process of right-of-centre reforms that will banish the Democrats in their present state in the way Thatcherism banished old Labour.
On the other hand, voting patterns are notoriously difficult to predict. Study after study showed in Ulster that by now the Catholics would very nearly be equal numbers to the Protestants and therefore the union with the UK would end. The Catholic numbers rose, but instead we see at least one-third of them (and basically 100% of Protestants) wanting to remain British. I doubt that the immigrant vote will stay as attached to the 'Rats for ever as it is at present. I wonder too how much appetite these professionals have for a European model of high-tax, large state regulation. Perhaps when they see it in all its job-destroying, dependency-creating glory, they will convert to the Republicans for life.
There is also the effect of groups like the Greens. There is no doubt in my mind that Ralph Nader cost Al Gore the Presidency in 2000. His fairly impressive voting figures will only be encouragement for further socialist, tree-hugging candidates and supporters. Slowly, such people and voters may split from the Democrats, with them and the Greens robbing votes nearly as often from each other as anyone else. As I noted below with regard to the Hackney Mayoral elections, the left has never been as rational with regards to splits and to voting sensibly as the right. Let us hope this continues to be reflected across the pond, and that this more optimistic analysis is closer to the truth.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 09:59 | Permanent Link |
Why do so many refuse to see Marxism for the evil that it is?
FOR SOME FASCINATING writing on the left's persistent blindness to the atrocities of communism, see The Guardian's two extracts from Martin Amis' new book Koba the Dread. Extract one focuses on the author's contemporaries, and extract two on his father's days as a communist.
At one point, reminiscing, Christopher [Hitchens] said that he knew this building well, having spent many an evening in it with many "an old comrade". The audience responded as Christopher knew it would (his remark was delivered with a practised air): the audience responded with affectionate laughter.
... Why is it? Why is it? If Christopher had referred to his many evenings with many "an old blackshirt" the audience would have... Well, with such an affiliation in his past, Christopher would not be Christopher - or anyone else of the slightest distinction whatsoever. Is that the difference between the little moustache and the big moustache, between Satan and Beelzebub? One elicits spontaneous fury, and the other elicits spontaneous laughter? And what kind of laughter is it? It is, of course, the laughter of universal fondness for that old, old idea about the perfect society. It is also the laughter of forgetting. It forgets the demonic energy unconsciously embedded in that hope. It forgets the Twenty Million.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 02:49 | Permanent Link |
A couple of interesting columns from yesterday:
Implications of the Theory of Comparative Advantage - Sam Koritz
Sunday, September 01, 2002
Blair, Bush and IDS at one on military action?
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH has come out in favour of pre-emptive strikes on Iraq, rightly warning of the devastating consequences if we do not attack soon:
"Those who believe we can simply do nothing must say how we would counter Saddam in the future when he has nuclear and biological weapons. Ultimately, the question is not whether we deal with Saddam, but when and how."
Coupled with Blair's clear statement the other day that with regard to Iraq, "doing nothing not an option", it looks as though both the main party leaders are going to support military action to depose Saddam Hussein. I look forward to Charles Kennedy being humiliated over his stance, and his party's. Now let's go in there and get it over with.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 06:21 | Permanent Link |
Herr Stoiber ist nicht so gut
A LEARNED PROFILE of Edmund Stoiber, the man whom polls suggest will become Chancellor of Germany in three weeks time, suggests the British right hasn't very much to be optimistic about if he wins:
Stoiber is an old-fashioned Roman Catholic authoritarian; he is not a radical free-market Conservative in the Thatcher/Reagan mould. He's in favour of agricultural protectionism, and a staunch supporter of the Common Agricultural Policy, which he wants to make even more biased in favour of Germany's farmers. Like many on the left, Schroder's Social Democrats failed at first to appreciate Stoiber's unexpected ideological mixture: they were completely unprepared when Stoiber attacked the Chancellor for promoting a tax reform which placed too light a burden on big business.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 06:05 | Permanent Link |
Education, education, education
WHAT BETTER WAY to ensure parental compliance with a school's decisions about its pupils than to get the parents to commit to exactly that beforehand? So reports the Sunday Telegraph:
Headmasters should be allowed to refuse places to children whose parents refuse to guarantee their good behaviour, the Conservative party will propose this week.
I cannot imagine any sensible objection to this that doesn't revolve around putting the rights of thugs and louts before children who want to learn. When placed in "mixed ability groups" when I was at school, I saw repeatedly the damage that distruptive pupils can do with their parents on their side. They would tell the teacher they couldn't stay behind after school as demanded because their mother had ordered them to walk out in such circumstances rather than miss the bus. The headmaster who told them to dress as the uniform demanded would be met by the claim that their father authorised them to wear trainers in class. At the school at which my mother teaches, one child was banned from an end-of-year trip to a theme park for misbehaving. His father responded by taking the boy down to the scene of the trip by car himself on the very same day. These scenes reportedly go on across the country, extending in a shocking number of cases to parental violence against teaching staff.
Parents like that cannot be allowed to undermine the work of decent teachers, and if they insist on behaviour that will only adversely affect their offspring in the end, then a school has every right to refuse to serve them.
The column ends:
Lord Tebbit has told friends that Lady Thatcher is disappointed with Mr Duncan Smith's performance so far, but that he and others are still hoping that the Tory leader will confound their fears by adopting incisive policies before the next election.
They have been heartened by signs from the Tory leader that he will go into the election committed to a form of vouchers for education and health, to give pupils and patients more choice over where they are taught and treated.
Tory party officials confirmed that their long-term thinking includes voucher-style proposals.
Dear Lord, I hope so.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:08 | Permanent Link |
Freedom is about the little things, too
WILL HUTTON IS not normally the sort to complain about graffiti, except perhaps as a sign of the depravation, hopelessness, social exclusion and unemployment caused by the modern capitalist system, a boom/bust trade cycle, a society that puts profit before people blah blah blah...
But if that graffiti is in defence of the freedom of country folk, then - by goodness - he'll churn out a 1,100 word column in protest faster than you can say "It hurts because it's true, Will".
It was the graffiti on a bridge over the M1 that brought me up short. 'Liberty to hunt', it proclaimed to every passing motorist. Whoever had written it plainly thought that hunting was so basic a human right and that any action to limit it so fundamental an assault on their autonomy of action that they could invoke one of the great rallying calls of Western civilisation - liberty - to serve their cause.
Bizarrely, Hutton attempts to level the charge of pettiness at those who care about such liberties. According to him, it is not the man who wants to ban the selling of bananas by the pound, or killing of foxes by dogs rather than shotgun, who is being petty, but those who protest such bans on grounds of freedom.
Real liberty is too precious and sophisticated an idea to be co-opted in this way. Conservative thought has for so long dominated our national conversation, and the way it has appropriated the idea of freedom become so undisputed, that our political, and arguably wider, culture is desensitised to what is liberty and what is sectional licence.
Street traders who want to use imperial measures are described as metric martyrs, their 'liberty' assaulted by the Government and European Union.
Inevitably, fox hunters go into this category: people who see freedom in terms of small things that don't seem to matter to others. Huttonian "real" liberty, on the other hand, means only things like the right to vote and innocent until proven guilty. It offends him that anyone can talk about liberty in relation to such things as selling apples in pounds and ounces, or hunting vermin with dogs.
But freedom is precisely about those little things, because if the state has the right to intervene in such trivial and harmless matters, then its right to control and coerce in the rest is limitless. If a man in a supposedly free country is given a statutory duty by the state to kill foxes to control their numbers, but at the same time forbidden from doing so if it means involvement in a certain sport, then how can he make the case that the products of his labour are his own business, that what he chooses to read and to believe, are up to him alone?
To ensure real liberty for all, the business of the state and the law must be constrained as much as possible to that which is necessary for its preservation. Once we make the state the guardian of us all and the ultimate decision-maker about how we spend our free time, freedom is decimated, replaced by the banality of the tyranny of the majority. No issue demonstrates that better than fox-hunting.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 03:00 | Permanent Link |
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