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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

Friday, October 04, 2002  

Off for a week

I PROBABLY WON'T be blogging for the next seven days, as I am preparing to go to the Conservative Party Conference. Rest assured I will be back in a week with a full conference diary.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:29 | Permanent Link |

Thursday, October 03, 2002  

This war is both just and multilateral

IN HIS INIMITABLE way, Mark Steyn continues to make the case for war in today's Spectator, dismissing pacifist clergy and UN-loving lefties with ease.

England’s clergy have redefined the Christian concept of a just war to mean only one blessed by the Security Council, which is to say the governments of France, Russia and China: it will be left to two atheists and a lapsed Catholic to determine whether this is a war Christians can support.

... Just as a matter of interest, how many countries does George W. Bush have to have on board before America ceases to be acting ‘unilaterally’? So far, there’s Australia, Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic, Qatar, Turkey.... Romania has offered the use of its airspace to attack Iraq. The Americo-Romanian Coalition Against Iraq has more members than most multilateral organisations. But no matter how multilateral it gets, it doesn’t count unless it’s sanctioned by the UN.

... Indeed, just to complete their embrace of the metaphorical Austin Powers Nehru jacket, the Left has finally signed on to the concept of ‘deterrence’. In the Cold War, they wanted no truck with this repulsive theory: why, the notion that ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ and a ‘balance of terror’ would protect us was morally contemptible and consigned our children to live under the perpetual shadow of Armageddon. But with Saddam it’ll work just swell. He’s a ‘rational actor’: even if he gets nukes — even if he has them now — he’s not crazy enough to use them. And, if he does, well, hell, it’s hasta la vista, Baghdad.

I can’t see it working myself. To pursue the analogy, deterrence means allowing Saddam to turn the bulk of the Middle East into his version of Eastern Europe, a collection of neutered and subverted client states, beginning with Jordan. Millions of people beyond Iraq’s borders will be informally conscripted into Saddam’s prison and bequeathed to his even nuttier son. There will no be peaceful negotiated resolution of the Israeli–Palestinian question.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 14:59 | Permanent Link |

We can have either liberty or equality, but not both

THE DILEMMA AT the heart of Blair's Conference speech is highlighted in today's Guardian by David Clark.

He asked rhetorically why parents shouldn't be allowed to send their children to a school of their choice. The answer, of course, is a simple matter of supply and demand. The demand for places at the best schools will always be greater than the ability of those schools to provide them. The only way to ration them would be through a pricing mechanism or selection, both of which are hateful to anyone who truly values equality.

Of course, as everyone knows, the present system does ration on the basis of money. You either pay for your children to go to a private school, pay for private tuition or buy a house in the right catchment area. How that is an improvement on the social mobility of the grammar school era, when selection was about ability rather than money, is a question only socialists can answer.

Conservatives should not be scared to side openly against equality and with freedom and choice. Equality in the sense that Clark means it is equality of outcome, which is not about human dignity or fairness, but about envy. Equality in this case means ensuring mediocre education for everyone because it is unpalatable to the socialist that some should have the means to buy something better. This was exemplified by Labour's decision to abolish the assisted places scheme, a voucher system which gave talented, poor children the opportunity to go to private schools. This backward, nasty agenda should be tackled head-on. It is the only hope for the public services, and offers great opportunities for the Conservative Party.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 11:33 | Permanent Link |

Wednesday, October 02, 2002  

What we owe religion

CONTRARY TO IGNORANT liberal claims that religion as a whole has a malign influence on the world, causing war and so on, it was religious, Judeo-Christian values that led to democratic principles that all men are equal before God, that each soul and each individual matters. In the National Review, Michael Novak makes the point well.

Before the revolution of morals brought on by Judaism and Christianity, pagan philosophy held that most men are by nature slaves, and that "the strong do what they can, and the weak do what they must."

It was Christianity (drawing on Judaism) that established three necessary premises for modern democracy: the inherent dignity of each person, rooted in the freedom that makes each person an Imago Dei; the principle of the universal equality of all humans in the sight of God, whatever their natural inequalities; and the centrality of human liberty to the purposes and principles for which God created the cosmos.

In short, Christianity made the liberty of every individual before God the bright red thread of history, and its interpretive key. Underlying the chances of democracy, then, is its faith in the immortality of the human soul, which is the foundation of the concept of human rights and universal dignity. Lose this faith, and humans become harder and harder to distinguish from the other animals, and human rights become ever more difficult to define, defend, and uphold.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 18:06 | Permanent Link |

The difficult dichotomy at the heart of Blair's speech

IN THE GUARDIAN today, Polly Toynbee accurately pinpoints the trouble with the PM's Conference speech, the central circle that cannot be squared:

Tony Blair talks of hard decisions and the need in this individualistic era to give people choices. But he refuses to acknowledge that there is an age-old conflict between liberty (choice) and equality. He needs to confront it and at least admit there is a problem.

Unsurprisingly, she opts for equality, and most of Blair's party is with her. But liberty and choice are the only way to a better public sector, and Blair's unenviable choice is between reversing decades of his party's efforts, dashing his activists' hopes, or failing as Prime Minister.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:28 | Permanent Link |

Some have such short memories

MY GRUDGING RESPECT for the strength of Labour members' peace-loving convictions pretty much vanished as I watched the reaction to President Clinton's arrival and speech at their Party Conference today. Forget for a moment his 1995 assistance to Sinn Fein/IRA, when he placated pro-life, Irish-American Catholics by letting Gerry Adams into the country to go on a spectacular media tour. Forget his adultery, his lies, his perjury - for which Clare Short publicly said he should have resigned. Forget that he left office the only President in US history to cast doubt on his successor's right to govern. Forget his insulting them today with his ignorance of British politics through his embarrassing resurrection of the "Third Way" nonsense Blair himself abandoned at least three years ago. What about his policies in government? Are Labour activists' memories so short that they cannot remember their virulent opposition to the 1998 bombing of Iraq, which he began at such a convenient moment in his impeachment proceedings? Do they forget his pointless destruction of a pharmaceuticals factory when he bombed civilians in Sudan? The closing years of the Clinton administration were met almost as harshly by the Left as the present day actions of President Bush.

There was something sickening about the whole event, with news media fawning almost as much as the Conference to the Liar in Chief. Clinton was a bumbling idiot with few scruples - some of the rape allegations against him probably true - willing to use military action to distract from his sleazy behaviour at home and laughably claiming the credit for the Reaganite economy he inherited, as though a few damaging tax rises were what the US economy needed to sail towards the deregulated prosperity it enjoyed in the 1990s. He is no hero, and he deserves no hero's welcome.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:45 | Permanent Link |

Tuesday, October 01, 2002  


"I never apologise. I'm sorry, Lisa, that's just the way I am." - Homer in today's Simpsons repeat.

"I'm sorry: I don't make any apologies for my members fighting for better pay." - Mick Rix, Aslef Leader, in yesterday's PFI debate at the Labour Party Conference.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 20:30 | Permanent Link |

The politically correct tyranny goes on

JOHN JAY RAY emailed me today with the extraordinary story that under new rulings, it is now illegal discrimination to prevent the blind from becoming airline pilots in Australia. Now, it is safe to say that a legal ruling will soon reverse this: only the insane would propose that the blind fly aeroplanes. But what this case represents is all those smaller, less ridiculous cases that do not get reversed: those that are prevented from demanding well educated applicants for certain jobs or jobs that require strength and heavy lifting for some of the time and are barred from testing these abilities. This isn't at all far-fetched. A few years ago in this country, it was suggested that the tests for recruiting police officers were unfair. Men and women both took the same test, but because women failed more often, they were given a special easier test that they could pass just as often. A few months ago, the former Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Kevin McNamara suggested that graduates from many universities faced unfair discrimination because most Foreign Office jobs were given to Oxbridge graduates. This was a British Member of Parliament seriously opposing selecting candidates for jobs because they went to the country's best universities.

We may not see blind pilots, but we will continue to see similar unfair, stupid and dangerous undermining of intelligence, hard work and skill for as long as people are willing to tolerate and bow down before political correctness.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:48 | Permanent Link |

Speechless ...

IF DRAINING THE colour from the cheeks of others can be considered a skill, Andrew Sullivan is a Grand Master. Please, read today's entry to his blog entitled 'Two Stories'.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:26 | Permanent Link |

God bless British justice

THE IRA TRIED to murder Geoffrey Howe in 1988, reports Ed Moloney. British intelligence apparently foiled their plot to detonate a bomb as the Foreign Secretary's car passed by, on a ministerial to Brussels. The Sun continues:

Mr Moloney said PM Maggie Thatcher knew of the second plot and wanted to give the terrorists “a bloody nose”.

Weeks later SAS men shot dead three IRA members planning to bomb a military band in Gibraltar.

The pleasure most people feel at those shootings is, in my case, only enhanced by the hope that they were planned in advance, and the terrorist butchers got the execution they deserved. Sensible people know the IRA have no intention of giving up the murders and bombings that brought them control of a part of this country. Let's hope we can at least return one day to these sorts of punishments, which actually deal with and punish terrorist evil.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 08:04 | Permanent Link |

Sunday, September 29, 2002  

For the sake of immigrants most of all, let's have the test in English

ASSIMILATION OF IMMIGRANTS into British society is good for the preservation of our culture and our way of life, good for the sake of everyday dealings, and overwhelmingly, good for the immigrants themselves. Most countries have a citizenship test to ensure minimal recognition of certain basic principles and recognition of the nation's cultural heritage. Blunkett finally began the process of setting out such a test for Britain this year, and the bi-partisan support for such a common sense measure was encouraging. That is why it is so depressing that current Home Office proposals allow the test to be taken in Bengali or Bausali if the person taking the test is not familiar with English. What is the point of immigrants learning the history of our country and the order of succession to the throne if they can't communicate and work with the native population? It isn't through sadism that we should insist on this, but through a practical recognition of what living in modern Britain is about. Translated tests go against the whole spirit of assimilation and a common British culture for people of every skin colour who live here and come to live here.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:55 | Permanent Link |

Great writer, strange man

MATTHEW PARRIS, the former Tory MP and political journalist, has finished his autobiography, which is reviewed today. If you already plan to get it, I suggest not reading such a revealing summary of the book. For everyone else, it provides intriguing insight into a man who - despite seeming disarmingly normal - is unafraid to make clear his own bizarre ways and life.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:10 | Permanent Link |

Going private is better for everyone

AMONG THE MOST absurd of leftist prejudices is that against private education and healthcare. Sanctimonious Guardian journalists endure the equivalent of Catholic confessions in their columns by weeping into their keyboards about their choice to "put their children before their principles" by buying them better schooling than the government provides. But this is a backward outlook. Every time someone pays for his own healthcare and education, he leaves more resources in the state system for others. The taxes are still paid, and his entitlements are still there. By refusing to take them up, one is being charitable. Simon Carr makes this point well in today's Telegraph:

Traditional socialist dogma wanted private schools and hospitals closed, and that was that. New Labour's "social justice", by contrast, treats self-help as an act of debauchery, like smoking, for which the guilty must atone through taxes and other penalties. It is a mean-minded philosophy. To relieve taxpayers of the burden of supporting you, and therefore increase the resources available for the poor, is itself an act of charity.

One feels obliged to ask also why those who go private should have to pay twice - for the education or healthcare they use, and, through taxation, for the state equivalent that they don't. This injustice could be corrected by education vouchers, which would be a ladder of opportunity to millions. They might also have the beneficial effect of undermining the peculiar notion that the more one relies on the state - that is, on others - for support, in terms of benefits, education, healthcare and even employment, the more virtuous one is.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:56 | Permanent Link |

Heffer returns to an old enemy
It was commonly said of Mr Major that, however incompetent he might have been, he was, at heart, a nice man. This remark was most often made by those who did not know him.

When Simon Heffer begins a column in this vein, you know something of what to expect in the rest. He doesn't disappoint.

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

The verdict on Gore's return from the dead

AL GORE WILL say anything to be President, writes Jonah Goldberg at Townhall, where he is backed up by Charles Krauthammer, who describes it as "a disgrace - a series of cheap shots strung together without logic or coherence".

Meanwhile, Mark Steyn is as brilliant as ever on the Democratic Party's difficulties and divisions over the war on Iraq. More wittily convincing than just about any modern columnist, he can effortlessly make disagreement with no-nonsense conservatism seem utterly absurd and laughable.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:33 | Permanent Link |

Right and wrong aren't a popularity contest

THE WEIRD IDEA that if something is done often enough, it stops being wrong, persists in an Observer leader:

An American President, a Prince of Wales and now a former Prime Minister have had evident difficulty in adhering to the high standards prescribed for everyone else. Perhaps Conservatives, and those in the wider world who indulge their fetishism for so-called 'family values', might now acknowledge that the time has come for a little considered silence in such matters.

Certainly, far too many people have affairs and abortions, and divorce and sleep around. But that doesn't make them any more acceptable. The more people break the promises, bounds and moral rules that keep society together, the more important it is that others are willing to point to a higher standard of behaviour at which all should aim. If adultery and family breakup are acceptable because they happen often, why not slavery in the 18th century or the Holocaust in the 1940s? If the only moral standard one must achieve is matching the general behaviour of others, then potentially anything is acceptable. It takes courage to put ones head above the parapet and tell unpopular truths, but those who do perform a role of inestimable importance. There will always be adulterers, but equally, betraying ones marital vows will always be wrong. Let us hope that people continue to recognise this and that a few brave politicians will continue to be honest enough to tell people how essential the family is to a stable society.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 09:41 | Permanent Link |

Resign, Estelle

IT'S USUALLY A SAFE bet that when a politician and a civil servant disagree about something, it is the politician who is lying. This government had every reason to cover up its shocking lowering of A level standards, and Sir William Stubbs has made clear the "unbearable pressure" the Education Secretary put on him, jeopardising his ability to do his job as an independent regulator. In an area so serious, such conduct is not acceptable from a cabinet minister. If Estelle Morris has any shame, she should go now.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 08:43 | Permanent Link |

US teenagers less promiscuous

SOME ENCOURAGING STATISTICS from the American Centre for Disease Control suggest significantly less sexual activity among today's high school students than those of a decade ago. Abstinence education sounds a laughable concept: telling young teenagers to wait before they have sex, that sex is a moral venture, not merely about pleasure, that it can have good and bad consequences. It is surely living in cloud cuckoo land to believe that sex education should mean treating young people like mature adults, able to control themselves, instead of like animals unrestrained by foresight, conscience or morality, simply to be given condoms and pills to stave off some of the worst consequences of underage sex. There's only one anomaly with this absurd idea: it works extremely effectively, and is ensuring a better future for thousands of young Americans. Is it to much to hope that British politicians might put some faith in our young people and give this a try here, too? Decades of amoral, clinical sex education certainly haven't been successful.

[EDIT: Nor will handing out morning-after-pills to girls just a year older than Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman without parents having any say in the matter.]

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 08:35 | Permanent Link |

The Observer talks to the PM

PRINCE CHARLES IS quite entitled to give his view, the Private Finance Initiative is right and political insults come with the territory, says Blair to the Observer, in a rather boring interview.

Andrew Rawnsley and Kamal Ahmed have some nerve in presuming to speak for everyone else on farmers and hunting. With public opinion now evenly divided on a hunting ban, one wonders where they get their ideas about ordinary British people.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 06:48 | Permanent Link |

Israel depends upon the West, and too many countries let her down

FEW ON THE left oppose the state of Israel through hatred of the Jewish people. For them, the motivation is either ignorance of the historical situation or a simple inability to see the need to fight terror. Their mistake is to believe that the Arab world's reasons are the same. Bill O'Reilly says otherwise:

A few years back, I was wandering around Morocco -- perhaps the most pro-U.S. Muslim country in the world. Everywhere I went, little kids ran up to me asking for handouts. When they saw I was an American, many of them asked in English: "Are you a Jew?" When I answered in the negative, they were very pleased. Jews were bad, they all said.

If you travel anywhere in the Muslim world, I guarantee you that the vast majority of children will behave the same way. They are taught hatred for the Jews in school. Their parents reinforce the prejudice at home. This has been going on for thousands of years, and it's all about land. The Muslims feel the ancient land of Palestine is their territory.

The new distinction the left likes to promote is between anti-Zionists and anti-Semites. The former is "respectable" opposition to the state of Israel. The latter is a hatred of the Jewish people themselves. The problem with this is two-fold. First, in no other situation is someone said not to be racist if they distinguish between destroying a country and hating the people of that country. If someone wanted to destroy the state of Peru or Egypt, forcing everyone out of the land in question, it would be absurd to claim that he is not in any way racist. But opposition to the very existence of Israel is dignified in this way. Second, the anti-Zionist excuse is not only extended legitimately to ignorant lefties, but to just about everyone. As Andrew Sullivan has noted, one could quite consistently, according to current excuses, claim Adolf Hitler was anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic. At first, anti-Zionism described a narrow, intellectual position. Now it almost extends to the most fervent Holocaust celebrator in the world.

O'Reilly is right also in stressing the importance of American assistance of Israel, and the shame Germany should feel for rewarding Gerhard Schroeder for his appeal to the country's basest prejudices.

The United States has heroically supported Israel in the face of almost worldwide condemnation. But what the world refuses to acknowledge is that without America's help, the Arabs would slaughter the Jews much like the Nazis did. There is no question about this. Hamas, Hezbollah and the other insane terrorists will tell you flat out: The Jews deserve to die. If the United States ever stopped supplying money and weapons to Israel, there would be a second holocaust.

... But the most egregious betrayal of all lies on the doorstep of Germany. The loathsome Gerhardt Schroeder sold out the United States and Israel by refusing any assistance in the Iraq situation in order to win re-election. Schroeder and the rest of his government know that Saddam Hussein would kill Israeli civilians in a heartbeat if he felt he could get away with it. The Germans know Saddam is capable of doing Israel great harm. Yet those courageous Germans are sitting this one out. Even though it is because of them that Israel had to be created in the first place.

Closer to home, I feel anger myself in the British government's decision to refuse the sale of arms to Israel. When it was discovered that weapons were still getting through via the United States, the press treated it as a scandal. We have the second largest arms industry in the world. Even the most self-serving, immoral Prime Minister, happy to see Israel sink into the ground, should at least care about the British jobs destroyed by these sentimental arms embargoes. Israel's life depends on constant support and military aid from the US. Were America to follow Blair's lead, she would be trapped among half a billion Arabs, most of them intent on her destruction, with nowhere to turn. Thank God the US government has more sense and conscience than Britain's.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:27 | Permanent Link |

Beware the tyranny of sensitivity

A LONDON THEATRE group has renamed Victor Hugo's classic play "The Bellringer of Notre Dame" through fear of offending men and women afflicted with curvature of the spine. Now of course no sane person, whatever the state of their back, would be offended by the real title, and of course it is amusing in its way that some should go to these lengths, even when they do mean trampling on literature and culture. But as we all know, political correctness doesn't stop at pedantic self-censorship, and slowly progresses towards public disgrace and perhaps dismissal for anyone who dares deviate in his views a quarter of an inch in either direction away from the PC line. Political correctness isn't about being sensitive towards some, but about being ruthlessly, mercilessly intolerant of all those who take a different view from your own. That many see it at first as no more than harmless eccentricity is to their detriment. We should all heed the warnings of those few who do forsee the dangers and consciously flout PC conventions, for it is still true that in the People's Republic of the visually impaired, the partially sighted woman is President.

Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 02:31 | Permanent Link |
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