Friday, February 07, 2003
Lies, damned lies and the Guardian
AS THE ZIMBABWEAN DESPOT Robert Mugabe continues to starve millions of his own people for supporting the opposition, the Guardian allows his wicked supporters to lie in his defence. The people producing the paper must know that the columns they print are packed with lies, but they neither correct them nor tell people they are untrue. This is not about free speech but wilful misleading of the Guardian's readers, presumably to serve "anti-colonialist" political objectives. This cannot be excused, and only serves the interests of those who murder and seek the starvation of so many millions of innocent Africans.
A few of the derisory lies they printed today in one column:
Contrary to hostile western media reporting - and its often racist overtones - there is no total breakdown of the rule of law; nor is there a record of extreme human rights violations or the degree of violence routinely claimed.
There is also no evidence of any institutional attempt to divert distribution of food.
The fast-track land acquisition programme has been completed; law and order has returned on the farms. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 12:34 | Permanent Link |
It may be Blair's opportunity, but is it our salvation?
MATTHEW PARRIS' SOLUTION TO TONY BLAIR'S WOES is typically imaginative and adventurous: he should join the Conservatives and await appointment as their leader. It's not actually as far-fetched as it sounds, and Parris' case is interesting, although I certainly wouldn't like to see Clarke restored as Chancellor, the Tories' European divisions resurfacing dreadfully if both the PM and Chancellor were europhiles.
But it must be admitted that Blair would not be a bad Tory leader by any means. For a start, he could implement all the public service reforms that he favours but the Chancellor, Cabinet and Labour Party oppose. He could stop worrying about pleasing the unions, the Labour left and so on, or justifying his crushing of the fireman's strike.
And just think of the way he would be remembered by history: victor in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq and the man who brought back two political parties from the brink of destruction. Parris doesn't say in his defence that Churchill and Gladstone, two of Britain's greatest Prime Ministers by any measure, were in both main parties for considerable chunks of their career. Is it so far fetched that Blair could follow their example? I don't know any more.
Watching the hideous Newsnight Special yesterday, I felt nothing but sympathy for the Prime Minister. Faced with a very articulate and well-informed audience, so many of their questions hit right home, and he just couldn't answer satisfactorily. This was partly his own fault for framing his defence in terms of upholding the UN rather than defending the national interest. But nonetheless, the shocking thing for me was how much sympathy I felt for the Prime Minister. I am ashamed to say that when I heard a few years ago that the Serbs had planned to assassinate Blair as he flew into the region by helicopter during the Kosovo War, a small part of me felt disappointed that he had survived. The same old utilitarian calculations ran through my head - better than one man die than the whole country be sucked into euro-slavery, his pro-crime policies will have cost many innocent lives already etc. - but of course this was wicked thinking.
I mention this only as an illustration of how much my attitude to Blair has changed. Yesterday I watched in despair, hoping desperately that the PM could land a punch and make a good case. There was a moment when he began a speech about how strongly he believed what he did, how he was desperate to solve this problem, how he sometimes had to say what he believed to be true no matter how unpopular it was, how sometimes people had to put their trust in their leaders. The cameras focused in on his emotional face as he explained all this. But as he finished, just one person applauding, another tough question came straight away and it became clear that no one was enchanted by him any more.
I could probably stomach Blair as Tory Leader, but I'm not so sure if he would be much use to us any longer. In the last Conservative Leadership campaign, IDS repeated a wonderful phrase, coined by his campaign manager Bernard Jenkin to be used against Portillo: "My concern would be if we launch off on pashmina politics, where we wind up adopting the fad just about to go out of fashion." It seems as though pashmina, Clintonite, Diana-esque politics is dead, so far as it had much power over the British people. Blair's personal influence and popularity are waning, and people seem to want something different, now. And beyond this personal appeal, what does he have to offer? What Parris suggests may be logical for Blair, but I don't know if it will be in the interests of the Conservative Party. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 11:19 | Permanent Link |
Thursday, February 06, 2003
Withdraw from the ICC now
"This is not a court set up to bring to book Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom or Presidents of the United States."
With plans already being hatched to have Tony Blair tried for war crimes at the International Criminal Court in advance of the liberation of Iraq, it seems all the sceptics' gravest warnings about the court are coming true long before any of us expected.
Every ethical person believes that someone has basic human and civil rights wherever they are in the world. But the jump from that shared belief to an assertion that the new ICC is the best way to protect those rights is a big one to make, and should be too big a jump for those wise enough to see where it could lead - where it is already leading.
In her overwhelmingly comprehensive book on foreign policy and the world in the twenty-first century, Margaret Thatcher shows with skill the fatal flaws of the court. First, it will offer no protection to the people in the countries which murder and torture the most. They will not sign up to any Court that will put them on trial, and if they do, they will ignore its demands. The Court will instead be used only on the democratic countries who work to defend liberty. It could very well be the case that the Court would deliberately bring prosecutions against the US, Spain, the UK etc. to prove it was not biased against the East.
Second, the only way to ensure proper jurisdiction is the use of force against countries that refuse to sign up. This would inevitably mean anti-democratic pressures on individual nations and their own courts and judicial judgements, smashing national sovereignty.
Third, the Court would act overwhelmingly against those countries who took military action, as in Kosovo or the Gulf, ensuring less of the selfless action to save others that has so characterised the last decade.
Like the United Nations, the ICC is ultimately about restraining anyone who will submit to its will. And if Mugabe, Saddam and Castro won't do this, then that means punishing Bush, Blair or Clinton instead. The US has wisely refused to sign up to the ICC for this very reason, and we should follow their example. We have done more for the world than any other country, and we deserve better than to be its punchbag. Whatever Blair may have got wrong, he is not a criminal and our leaders must not be treated in that way. If we permit this, democracy as we know it will cease to exist, our governments subject to the arbitrary authority of foreign dictators and fanatical human rights groups who believe shooting an armed terrorist bomber is a war crime. To support the ICC is not only anti-British but contrary to all the well placed instincts of those who believe in international justice and in standing up for the liberty of others.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:31 | Permanent Link |
Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:05 | Permanent Link |
Wednesday, February 05, 2003
Foot firmly in mouth
PAUL FOOT, nephew of the great Michael, writes in the Guardian that there "isn't the slightest sign that anyone in Iraq is clamouring for liberation by armies from America or from Britain, Iraq's former colonial conqueror".
Stephen Pollard strongly agrees.
100% of Iraqis voted for Saddam. They all love him. They really do. The fact that anyone voicing the slightest, mildest criticism of anything ever done by Saddam is immediately killed is, of course, irrelevant to there being not "the slightest sign that anyone in Iraq is clamouring for liberation".
'nuff said.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 22:16 | Permanent Link |
Whatever use they may be, computers cannot teach
EXCELLENT INVESTIGATION INTO the effect of technology on school teaching in today's Telegraph. Sadly not available online, the article reveals what John Clare saw as he went into a rapidly improving school for a day to observe lessons involving the computers for which the headmaster and many of his teachers expressed such enthusiasm. What he reports is depressingly similar to all that I experienced in such lessons when I was at school.
The topic was Shakespeare. John Kennedy, the head of English, had spent an hour selecting web sites. They included one on the Globe theatre and another on Scottish witchcraft. The children's task was to look through them and transfer the bits they found interesting into their computer folders. Most spent the 35-minute lesson scrolling through the sites, pausing occasionally at the pictures. Whenever Mr Kennedy was not looking, one played a video game.
Throughout the day, the same story emerges - lessons barely if at all related to the subject supposedly being taught wasted on somehow involving computers. He concludes:
In all five lessons, the subject had become subservient to the technology. Far from motivating the children, it distracted them. Small wonder, then, that computers - despite the £2 billion spent on them - have done so little to raise educational standards.
I remember whole terms of almost zero work done in some subjects in my old school, which has an extremely good reputation for a comprehensive. As soon as we were put on computers, the alternative ways of using our time were chosen by nearly everyone. A friend and I would use Epop to take over others' computers manually from our own, and view what they were doing (or move their mouse pointer from our computers across the room, their baffled reactions really enlivened a pointless Mickey Mouse subject). It would range from homework from other lessons to searching for pictures of Britney Spears. Rarely would any real work for the subject in question be done.
Part of this relates to the way teachers are for the moment unfamiliar with the technology of today. They have no idea how little time some things take, and you can hardly rely on the class to tell you when they would far rather be messing about than listening and working properly. Hopefully, as teachers become more informed about technology, they will be more wise to time wasting, though of course they cannot watch computer screens anywhere near as easily as they could watch an ordinary class.
But the more important factor, I feel, is the way in which use of computers undermines the true role of a teacher, converting him from someone who passes on knowledge and involves the class with what he says and writes to a sort of technical repair-man, to be called on if something goes wrong and for occasional queries, but far from the central source of facts and ideas. Knowledge is instead gained through the computer. Of course, without the superior skill and experience of a teacher, how are the pupils to know what parts of the infinite information they can gather online is relevant? How are they to be sure of finding all the necessary parts? How does mere gathering of knowledge help the pupil to understand it, or think it through?
Computers may have their place in English, Science or French lessons, but I think the problem John Clare highlights is a significant and growing one. Computers are not a shortcut to learning and thinking, and overuse of them at the expense of ordinary lessons can do a great deal of harm. I hope it does not take a generation's experience of wasted lessons for educationalists to become fully aware of this. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 18:24 | Permanent Link |
Rupert Murdoch to be a father once again
AS NEWS INTERNATIONAL HEAD, Murdoch is very productive for a 72 year old. He is clearly keen to prove that in other ways, too. The age gap between the new baby and Murdoch's eldest will be 44 years.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:51 | Permanent Link |
Reason #5,789 why child-rapists should get life sentences
PAEDOPHILE BRIAN CALABRESE has made clear his intention to rape four to six year olds again. He has been identified as having homocidal tendencies and has identified 44 different people for rape. In prison, he kept pictures of small girls under his mattress and made clear his disappointment that he could not commit more rapes in jail. The Pennsylvanian is to be released on his birthday, the 7th of February. The state has no legal way of preventing this, nor any way to warn parents in the area he moves into of his past. Britain's laws are identical of course, the News of the World's 'Sarah's Law' campaign to allow such warnings sneered at relentlessly by our liberal elite.
It goes without saying that if any man who raped a child automatically received a life sentence, and that for them life must mean life, there would be no tragedies like this just waiting to happen. Let us remember that Sarah Paine herself was murdered by a paedophile who was released because of liberal attitudes to sexual deviance and criminality. His continued imprisonment would have prevented this murder. This alone justifies locking up every child molestor in the country for as long as they shall live. You often hear people say that it is better for ten guilty men to go free than one innocent man be jailed. Maybe so, but let's also recognise that it's better that every convicted paedophile be kept in jail until the day they die than one innocent child be killed or raped.
Life imprisonment with no possibility of release should be the minimum sentence for anyone who would have sex with a young child. If this were implemented, we wouldn't any longer have to worry about such cases as Brian Calabrese's, nor fear what any kiddie-fiddler would do once released. Most of all, we could prevent some truly tragic murders and many life-ruining sexual assaults. That convicted paedophiles have a right to be free at all is a warped notion. To further assert that this right should trump the right of children to be safe from them is just monstrous. In a civilised society, this can never be the case. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:45 | Permanent Link |
Saddam helps show Tony Benn's true colours
THE PRIME MINISTER just cracked a rare joke in the Commons at Tony Benn's expense, suggesting that Jeremy Paxman and John Humphries have nothing to fear from the Bennatollah's probing interviewing skills. I must say I agree, and found the whole transcript of his questioning of Saddam laughable. It was reminiscent of the pre-Robin Day political interview: "Do you have anything further to tell your loyal people, Prime Minister?". Paul Reynolds of the BBC noted that the tone was so deferential and the questions so soft that for any real journalist they "would have ensured the reporter was not employed in this fashion again".
It really was extraordinary to see a man who in his time self-righteously used the terms Thatcherism and fascism interchangeably look up in quiet awe at probably the most evil national leader alive. Apart from helping create the impression that Saddam Hussein is the sort of man who can be questioned and negotiated with, the interview's sheer pointlessness was startingly. For example, he began:
Mr President, may I ask you some questions. The first is, does Iraq have any weapons of mass destruction?
Now just what did Tony Benn expect the answer to be?
War hinges on proving that I have such weapons, and I've kept them secret, kept them hidden, kept them moving from place to place away from the inspectors now for so long. But you have come along and asked me in such a polite way that I feel forced to be honest: yes, I do. I have them, and if you want to stop me getting enough to kill all my enemies, you'll have to do it soon.
Quite how he could have entertained such an answer is beyond me - that he would deny it goes without saying. So why ask it? Why not tell him that he has proved himself a liar on this issue and as someone willing to use chemical weapons? Why not say that consequently the world is terrified of what he will do next, and that if he wants to celebrate his 25th anniversary in power next year, he had better hand over all the weapons not accounted for at once, because that is the only way he can preserve peace and stop Bush from invading?
Surprise, surprise, Saddam answered:
A few minutes ago when you asked me if I wanted to look at the questions beforehand I told you I didn't feel the need so that we don't waste time, and I gave you the freedom to ask me any question directly so that my reply would be direct.
The interview continued in this vein, with Benn's final question outrageously aimed not against Saddam but against those who do not trust the Butcher of Baghdad with history's most dangerous weapons.
There are tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of people in Britain and America, in Europe and worldwide, who want to see a peaceful outcome to this problem , and they are the real Americans in my opinion, the real British, the real French, the real Germans, because they think of the world in terms of their children.
Saddam thankfully gave a wonderful answer to this:
First of all 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 and for the cause of peace and security based on just peace for all.
Every word must be a dagger in the heart of those lefties who claim to despise Saddam and everything he stands for. Let this quote be used against such people from now until the day Iraq is liberated. I will myself keep it at the top of this blog until then.
Harry Steele, who has always respected and admired the Bennatollah, is sad at all the criticism Benn will now receive. I am not. Everyone loves Tony Benn's lispy, upper class accent, and he so often gets across his message in such a courteous, sweet way, that it is hard not to be fond of him. But like Jimmy Carter and Nelson Mandela, Benn rarely meets a murderous dictator he doesn't like. He has praised Chairman Mao, defended IRA criminals as POWs, spoken well of the Soviet Union and predicted defeat for British forces on the eve of the Falklands War. Behind his naivety and innocence are the dangerous pacifistic socialist ideals that led to the murders of so many millions. It is for them that he can aid Saddam so easily, for them that he can excuse Maoism, the Russian Revolution and IRA bombings, and for them that he could exercise his freedom of speech in predicting death and bloodshed for the men who fight for it. However respected and sweet a statesman he seems to have become in old age, let us neither forget this sinister side of him nor fail to realise how monstrous it would be for the likes of him ever to seize the reigns of government. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 13:32 | Permanent Link |
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Both parties are coming to see the need to bring an end to a lunatic's asylum, race relations and immigration policy
AS LABOUR'S PHIL WOOLAS condemned the race relations industry for not taking racist attacks on whites seriously, Shadow Home Secretary Oliver Letwin yesterday described the fears of many people regarding immigration as "legitimate concerns". Calling for a cool-headed approach to the whole asylum and immigration debate, he defended plans to detain all asylum seekers until it had been confirmed they were not terrorists.
I think prominent figures in both parties are now coming to realise that the stance on asylum and immigration of the three main parties has for a considerable period been far to the left of the British people. The BNP has gained of late simply because their own approach to this issue is marginally closer to the views of most ordinary people. The only way to defeat the party on this issue is for the main parties to move back to the centre ground and appeal to the concerns and fears of ordinary people, showing them that they don't have to vote for Neo-Nazis to get a better and fairer asylum system and a more controlled immigration system. This isn't about appeasement of fascism, but about politicians paying attention to the people who put them in power in the first place. The BNP's recent success is testament to what happens when the mainstream political establishment stops listening. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:17 | Permanent Link |
The nonsense the world wants to hear
DENNIS PRAGER WRITES the satirical speech that most of the world seems to want to hear from President Bush. As he hands over power to Al Gore, the President explains his failings, regrets his simplicities and apologises for his outlook on the world, on justice and on democracy.
I now realize that the most important goal America and its president can pursue is to be liked, hopefully loved, by mankind, and especially by France, Germany, China, and the Arab world.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:17 | Permanent Link |
Monday, February 03, 2003
Mandela - an inspiration as a speaker, but a failure as a leader
MICHAEL LEDEEN WRITES a fair-minded and richly deserved denunciation of Nelson Mandela in the National Review, pointing to the good sides of the man - that he turned his back on terrorism, forgave those who had been cruellest to him, and inspired so many - but also recognising that he has ultimately been a failure as a national leader.
Instead of taking the opportunity to shut down the vast networks of corruption put in place by the white leaders of the country, he permitted his own cohorts from the Africa National Congress to wallow in the same troughs. Instead of insisting on the creation of a first-class educational system for all South Africans, he simply presided over the installation of a quota program that gave most of the slots in the best schools to the majority black population.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:33 | Permanent Link |
The only asylum hysteria comes from the Left
WRITING A COLUMN condemning the press or the Conservative Party or the British people for their attitude to asylum really is easy as pie. They are much like those Dave Spart pieces in Private Eye - without real content, and just hurling random disjoined phrases and insults.
"Coming from terrible conditions ... valued contribution to our culture ... racist press ... Daily Mail ... mindless xenophobia .... hysteria sweeping our country."
Well, some things never change. Roy Greenslade returns to form, attacking all who take a different view as blind followers of the newspapers they read, newspapers whose "vile racist agenda" is fermenting hysteria across the land. He deliberately blurs the distinction between those using the asylum system to escape with their lives and those abusing the asylum system as a means of economic migration.
It is just beyond such people that someone could have legitimate, logical reasons to oppose the turfing of pensioners off hospital waiting lists in favour of someone who got off a boat three days ago because the British benefits system is more generous. They are the only hysterical ones I can see. Every argument, every reasonable, sensible proposition given in favour of an asylum system that is fairer to the genuine asylum seeker and to the people living here already, is not met by counter-argument, but by smear, by name-calling and vicious accusations. Does Roy Greenslade never ask himself why one-third of the EU's asylum seekers end up in this country, or why every genuine refugee should have to put up with conditions diluted nine times over by bogus asylum seekers? Apparently not.
Thankfully, newspapers people actually buy, like the Mail, Sun, Daily Express and Telegraph, are more in touch with reality and are willing to cover the asylum issue rationally and fairly. People like Greenslade are losing this battle, and people who care about this country and the way ordinary people live are winning the fight for a better asylum system - one that will help the genuine refugee while thwarting the Left's desire that the people living in our country have no say in the numbers coming here. We aren't going to be silenced any longer by smears and name-calling, and everyone is beginning to recognise that a government's first duty is to the people already living here, not to all those who want to come here because the state benefits are better. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:03 | Permanent Link |
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