Saturday, February 22, 2003
Bribing louts to go to school
BACK TO THE wonderful world of British education, I now hear of a school holding special revision classes to improve its GCSE results, which is fine. But to ensure they get good attendance, they are paying the pupils a well above minimum wage figure to turn up to them. Obviously they can't afford to give A grade students and lost causes this amount, so only those predicted to get Cs and Ds are invited. Those who would attend revision classes for nothing still cannot go.
Let no one say that schools and LEAs are underfunded, or that their resources are distributed wisely. This is a typically immoral and stupid use of resources, a blatant appeal to instant rather than delayed gratification, in the hope that if the louts of today don't care about their exams, they at least will care about the money offered. But if they really aren't bothered about their exams enough to turn up to revision classes, they deserve the results they get.
Then again, with the cane gone from the classroom, if severe punishment is not available to teachers, then bribery with your tax money is about all they have left to induce kids to do what they ought.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 07:43 | Permanent Link |
Friday, February 21, 2003
Redgrave's farcical, pro-Saddam idiocy
IF ANYONE DID not see the appalling Question Time yesterday, I suggest they watch it online to see a wonderful example of the mentality of the anti-war brigade. I don't quite know who Vanessa Redgrave is, but her name is one of those that always pops up a lot in relation to popular leftist causes. Anyway, her behaviour throughout was just appalling, turning the show into a complete farce. Constant interruption, stupid gestures and the most absurd and offensive points were raised in support of her positions. She didn't even understand many of the points made by other members of the panel.
One of her first pronouncements was to compare the Taliban to Holocaust survivors - saying that Afghans who a matter of months ago were firing on British troops, and are now claiming asylum, should be taken in just as we should have taken in German Jews - because the Nazis claimed Jewish refugees were killing Germans. Was she suggesting we should have taken the Nazis' word for it? Or does she think there is any doubt that the Taliban and the British Army were at war in 2001? Either position is utterly insane.
She went on to say that it was untrue that the threat of force had forced Saddam Hussein to re-admit UN weapons inspectors, because the inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq in 1998, but Saddam had been happy to have them there all along. Surely she must know why they were withdrawn - because Saddam had restricted their access to all his places of development of WMDs and they couldn't do their job. The weapons inspectors weren't there on holiday, so of course when Saddam kicked them out they were withdrawn from the country altogether. But to listen to Redgrave, you'd think they were withdrawn on whim and that Saddam had done nothing to stop them doing their jobs. She sincerely believes that the threat of force had no effect in forcing him to re-admit the inspectors.
Someone in the audience asked her what her solution to the crisis was. Are you ready? Okay, here comes the Redgrave plan. She said the solution was to declare Saddam Hussein a war criminal and bring him before the International Criminal Court. Even assuming that Iraq had signed up the ICC, let's see where Redgrave's logic goes. The threat of war with the greatest military force on Earth has not moved Saddam. The most basic human decency has not moved Saddam. Millions of deaths in wars and attacks on Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Israel have not moved him. But it seems she seriously believes that a Court summons in the post is all that is necessary to stop him, that without the use of force we can get him before any criminal court. Incomprehensibly, the questioner nodded at this proposition as if it were remotely possible, and many others in the audience applauded. She also suggested sending in huge numbers of UN workers to stir up trouble for Saddam and help destroy his dictatorship. And I'm sure Saddam would have no objections to that, either. Beyond belief.
What a disgraceful attempt at serious debate. What a pathetic argument and person. If I went too far in my alliterative description of the February 15th demonstration as a Million Moron March, I was too kind in my description of those leading it. Either intensely stupid and gullible, like Redgrave, or evil, like the anti-Semitic Islamofascists, such people must not be allowed to influence policy, and their rants must never be taken seriously. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:12 | Permanent Link |
Let's get the ratchet effect working for us
MY FIRST PIECE for Electric Review has been published today. I argue that the Conservative approach to policy needs to be more radical and ambitious, and thought out in such a way as to restore Keith Joseph's ratchet-effect, but this time to get it moving rightwards. Let me know what you think. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 07:46 | Permanent Link |
Thursday, February 20, 2003
Apology for tyranny
AFTER WHAT MUST have been a truly exhausting search, The Guardian has finally found an Iraqi exile who opposes the war. The more thoughtful members of the left have certainly shown embarrassment at the way Iraqi after Iraqi would speak out against allowing Saddam to stay in power even one more day. This is apparently the Guardian's belated way of showing how sparing Saddam is in the interests of innocent Iraqi civilians too, as if their opposition to this war could not be reduced to hatred for Israel and a desire to thumb their noses up at President Bush.
Anyway, after some token condemnation of Saddam, the argument that develops is bizarre. Partly a suggestion that Iraqis can remove Saddam just fine on their own, partly a claim that they do not wish to, and in places implying that democracy in the country is working just fine, Kamil Mahdi makes the case against liberating Iraq.
Their turbulent recent history is not something that simply happened to Iraqis, but one in which they have been actors. Iraqis have a rich modern political tradition borne out of their struggle for independence from Britain and for political and social emancipation. A major explanation for the violence of recent Iraqi political history lies in the determination of people to challenge tyranny and bring about political change.
Interesting theory, but I would say the one major explanation for the violence of recent Iraqi history is a certain villain's determination to preserve his own tyranny, halt political change, and extend his borders and subjects. It seems perverse and - dare I say it? - racist to assert that Saddam's monstrosities are somehow a part of the Iraqi character: that we can't expect anything better from those old Arabs than attempted genocide and state-sponsored rapists. As for the suggestion that we Brits are somehow responsible (someone change the record, please!), this is the language of Mugabe, and is beneath contempt as an excuse, justification or explanation for any of the henious acts Saddam Hussein has committed.
This case being pretty thin stuff, Mahdi tries invoking the Iraqi people:
People like Ahmad Chalabi and Kanan Makiya have little credibility among Iraqis ... The prevalent Iraqi opinion is that a US attack on Iraq would be a disaster, not a liberation, and Blair's belated concern for Iraqis is unwelcome.
Again, this case falls flat on its face. Just how does he know this? How can anyone possibly be aware of the private opinions and darkest yearnings of an oppressed people, every one of them knowing that the slightest opposition will doom their entire families? They may worship Ahmad Chalabi and long for the liberation of their country, knowing that the army will turn against Saddam as soon as it knows he will lose power. They may desperately hope only that they can again see their friends and family who live in exile. How can we know? For Mahdi to assert this view as the general feeling of anyone when it is impossible to gauge is not just misleading, but it's bare-faced lying, making up opinions that no one knows.
I don't pretend that the liberation of Iraq is the main reason I support war to stop Saddam. If the Iraqis were all that was at stake, I don't think I could in all conscience support sending British troops out to die for no national interest whatsoever. I would avidly support any International Brigade that worked to liberate Iraq, but I would not see it as the legitimate role of the British state to get its troops involved.
But as we must now invade Iraq for legitimate security reasons, I rejoice that the cultured and terribly oppressed Iraqi people can soon taste liberty. It says everything about the anti-American, anti-Jewish cancer of the left that they cannot feel the same way. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 21:02 | Permanent Link |
Quote of the Day
"Labour is a party of social engineers, of system-builders and 'planners' (in the Hayekian sense). It is a party of pacifists and socialists, of love-the-world useful idiots, of Castro-fawners and Arafat-admirers. It is a party of tax-eaters and commerce-haters, of labour union officials and government pen pushers and Community Relations Liaison Officers. It is a party of God-hating hedonists, of sour-faced feminists and proselytizing homosexuals, of cop-haters and criminal-coddlers." - John DerbyshirePosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 21:02 | Permanent Link |
Wednesday, February 19, 2003
Perhaps it won't just be Saddam's cronies who get their just deserts in this war
WINNIE MANDELA, the evil ex-wife of the former South African President, is to travel to Iraq to be a human shield. I have written before, somewhat coldly, of those peaceniks willing to stand in front of Iraq's military facilities in the hope of preventing the bombings, or of increasing opposition to war by their deaths. While I said that their blackmail should obviously be no obstacle to any military plans, I would equally feel no pleasure at their deaths. Of Winnie Mandela's demise, I cannot say the same. A monstrous sadist, the woman involved herself in the whipping to death of a 14 year old child, and in public she obsessively advocated lighting petrol-filled tyres around the necks of her political opponents, a common ANC practice which often involved forcing the children of the victims to watch.
If Winnie Mandela has the balls to see this one through, then I hope that should any of the human shields die, one of them will be this monster. The sooner she awakens in Hell the better. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 20:28 | Permanent Link |
Redwood's return is right for all Tories
I AM HEARTENED by news of John Redwood's possible return to the Shadow Cabinet. He is one of the cleverest, most interesting men in British politics. Redwood can really get to the heart of a brief, finding what is philosophically wrong with the Labour approach and getting all the details worked out from there. He is also very well-endowed with the most under-rated quality in politics: imagination.
George is in a hole and can do nought but keep digging
I do think, though, that it's time Rusbridger took him to one side and told him that there is a law of diminishing returns regarding this arresting opening sentence mallarkey and he passed it a few years back.
I would say it applies to more than just Monbiot's opening sentences, but I suppose his problem is that even if he wanted to start writing sensibly, it is now too late. Loyal readers turn to his columns already expecting the apocalypse, so for him one day to describe free enterprise as being only as bad as nun-rape and matricide followed by cannibalism would be such a toning down of his rhetoric they'd think he'd gone all soft and accepted a Directorship from British Petroleum or something. If he wants to avoid losing the support of the few who still take him seriously, all he can do now is keep churning out the same over-heated stuff.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 19:54 | Permanent Link |
Monetary xenophobia will be a crime before long - count on it
THE TELEGRAPH ECHOES the warnings I gave yesterday that Brussels' anti-xenophobia laws could before long extend to any criticism of the EU's institutions. Already, it reports, the EU funds a group called the European Monitoring Centre, which has identified opposition to joining the euro as "monetary xenophobia". Yes, it's funny. Of course it is. Political correctness always starts out that way. But give it time and we'll soon be slave to it as much as we are to all the other little tyrannies. Brussels is working hard on banning vanilla xenophobia now, and would love to criminalise euroscepticism too, which in its intolerance it sees as a phobia, an illness. As long as we accept European laws as supreme over those made by the people we elect in parliament, Brussels will get its way in the end. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 18:18 | Permanent Link |
We're getting it right ... but it's so slow
WHEN JOHN DERBYSHIRE wrote last year of his certainty that Tony Blair would back out of his support for war with Iraq, I found it a very convincing piece, and it worried me. Now it seems he is coming to see he was wrong, just as he recognises he may have been in doubting Bush's resolve. But his problem is with the timescale. He contrasts favourably the way Maggie dealt with the Falklands crisis to the seemingly endless series of negotiations, reports, dossiers and inspection teams that are forming the prelude to this war.
The last war for me — the last war I saw my own country engage in, and some of the participants in which I knew personally — was the Falklands War of 1982. Speed and daring were certainly on display in Margaret Thatcher's response to Argentine aggression; and the wrist-flapping mountebanks at the U.N. had very little to do with what transpired. Talking with American friends, however, they tell me that there is a characteristic American way of war, which involves the slow accumulation of overwhelming force, which is then unleashed in a brief, terrible campaign. Speed and daring don't come into it much. It's a different national style of war making.
He concludes with a measure of defeatism that seems justified.
I am an American now, and I suppose I had better get used to the American way of war. I have to tell you, though: I prefer the British way.
Well, to quote Churchill, "The Americans will always do the right thing ... once they have exhausted all the alternatives." It's just a shame Blair's insistence on a UN route has so heavily implicated us Brits in exhausting ad nauseum all the alternatives. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:47 | Permanent Link |
Blair's position may be more precarious than Saddam's
NOT ONLY COULD Tony Blair be damaged politically by the Second Gulf War, suggests John O'Sullivan, but he could be its first casualty. An interesting analysis of what may lie ahead for him and the ways he may try to get out of it. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:17 | Permanent Link |
Chamberlain showed us how not to deal with Saddam
FROM PETER HITCHENS to Paul Foot, you can guarantee that the one way to get the anti-war lobby sneering is to compare Saddam Hussein to Adolf Hitler and opponents of stopping him to those who appeased the late German Chancellor. Jonah Goldberg argues that such comparisons are valid and make an important historical point.
[S]omething can be really bad and still not be as bad as Hitler and his regime. And it's here where I think the doves' argument falls apart. Liberals replace the question "Is Saddam evil enough?" with the question "Is he as evil as Hitler?" Then by answering their own question, they declare Saddam should get a free pass simply because he's not as bad as Hitler. This is a little like saying police shouldn't stop robbers because robbers aren't as bad as murderers.
As for the argument that Saddam is no Hitler because the threat he currently poses is not as great:
In this bizarre formulation, military action is unwarranted because Iraq isn't strong enough - as if the West would have been wrong to stop Hitler when he was still weak. Sure, some conservative realists and isolationists can get away with making this point as they are deeply skeptical about morality in foreign policy. I think they're wrong on realist and moral grounds, but at least they're intellectually honest. But liberal opponents of war tended to support interventions in Somalia, Kosovo, Haiti, etc. - countries far, far weaker than Iraq.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 13:33 | Permanent Link |
A pathetic penalty, like all modern sentences
AS IT TURNS OUT, Paul Kelleher, the hooligan who destroyed a £150,000 statue of Britain's first woman Prime Minister, has been jailed. His sentence of three months is derisory given the crime, and I hope he serves every day of it, but then what sentence these days is remotely proportionate to severity of the crime committed? I suppose that in a society where the price of a murder or rape is six years and the price of a second burglary is some community service, a three month sentence for destroying a fabulous work of art and a historical monument is no less unjust. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 13:29 | Permanent Link |
Quote of the Day
"It used to be said that declaring war was a convenient way for failing governments to distract attention from their domestic problems. But declaring non-war, as it turns out, is almost as good. What better way for Gerhard Schroeder and M Chirac to divert attention from their failure to get to grips with the reform of their economies, than to snub the United States and lecture the world on the value of peace? Militant pacificism, it seems, can be as effective a strategy for propping up weak national leaders as invasion of an enemy." - Janet DaleyPosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 12:03 | Permanent Link |
Non-entity then and non-entity now
[Edit: I've just read the rest of the article and found out that she is a eurosceptic who left Labour for the Conservatives in 1998 as a result of their stance on Europe. Ahem! Perhaps I was too harsh.]Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 11:03 | Permanent Link |
Punitive taxation to fund demoralising welfarism, both of them lasting from cradle to grave
POLLY TOYNBEE'S ADVICE to radical ministers is to take advantage of Blair's wartime courage by proposing "progressive" measures to regain Labour's popularity - they should dust down their dreams and make their demands. Her own suggestion manages to combine anti-family prejudices and welfarism in equal measure.
The one truly popular extension to the welfare state would be a promise of children's centres for all babies - gleaming new local palaces guaranteeing a creche, baby clinics, health visitors, a nursery school, day care and after-school clubs for every child, rich and poor, paying according to means. It would in these dark days gladden the hearts of middle England parents right up the social scale who all struggle to pay for child care, as well as the poorer parents for whom child care tax credits have failed. Children's centres are the missing part of a cradle-to-grave welfare state.
Indeed, it could be. Given these possibilities, one really could go from cradle to grave barely seeing his parents or children at all. Until you reach school age, you can be fobbed off to a children's centre. From then you go to school until university age, at which point you leave home altogether. You have kids sometime near the beginning of your career, then fob them off as soon as they are born, repeating the process from scratch. Children would become not a life-changing commitment, but an free time accessory like cable TV, never interfering in your career or taking up too much time.
No one seriously disputes that parents spending time with their children helps them. But to suggest that policies should be based around this fact is seriously taboo. Far better to allow the career-obsessed all the ways they can of avoiding their responsibilities as parents.
I wonder what would happen if a leading political party proposed payments to mothers who looked after their own children, rather than the system that exists at the moment, which makes two neighbours better off taking care of each others' children on an afternoon than looking after their own. The Conservative plan at the last election to allow non-working mothers to transfer their tax exemptions to their husbands (or vice versa) at least recognised this problem, and would be a good start. Why, after all, should a family that earns £36,000 from one spouse be taxed more highly on their income than a family in which each spouse earns £18,000?
Next we come to how Polly might fund this final piece in the cradle to grave welfarist jigsaw. How would Britain find the cash?
By taking money from the dead to pay towards new babies. Inheritance tax is low and kicks in only at £250,000: most pay little or nothing, the rich avoid it. The Fabian Society is about to publish a detailed plan for how this unearned income could be more vigorously taxed. Braver still, there is the top rate of tax. Unfreeze the political panic that all tax rises must be unpopular by increasing top rates for incomes over £100,000 to 50%. It would bring in at least £3.4bn a year, enough to build splendid children's centres.
Toynbee here seems to want taxes to extend from cradle to beyond the grave. But as we all know, inheritance duties do not tax the dead: they steal from their grieving children, who grew up among their parent's possessions and collections. The property is not only rightly theirs, but has sentimental value and forms a link to the past. But after a low limit, 40% of it all goes to the grubby paws of the Chancellor. But then what does further extending this vulture-like arm of government matter when it grants the benefits of these marvellous childcare centres? Well, the problem is it might not raise the extra money necessary.
As Labour enters its seventh year in power, Britain is already quickly approaching tax levels so high that increasing them doesn't generate any more revenue - it only further wrecks the economy. We are now near the stage at which government taking a greater proportion of the cake only shrinks the cake to the point at which the amount taken is the same. Raising taxes on grieving heirs and hard-working headteachers will mean exactly that, as well as more entrepreneurs leaving the country completely, taking their skills abroad.
The single best thing government can do for the poor and disadvantaged is to cut its own size, allowing them greater self-reliance, and cutting its subsidies of the very behaviour that for ever leaves them dependent on others.
For the poor most of all, we need less welfare. For the economy most of all, we need less taxation. More of both, as proposed by Polly Toynbee, will only lead us down the path to the European social democratic model. This is a cul-de-sac of regulations on business shrinking employment, taxes on those still in work paying for the ever-expanding welfare of the rest, and slow, steady decline for the economy as a whole ensuring all lose out drastically in the end. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:02 | Permanent Link |
A crime is a crime is a crime
PAUL KELLEHER, the scum who destroyed a statue of Lady Thatcher, has been found guilty of criminal damage, his insulting excuse that it was a political statement thrown right out of court. He will be sentenced today. I really hope he gets a long sentence, and if he does not go to jail at all, it will be a travesty. Whether this statue had been of Harold Wilson, Margaret Thatcher or Tony Blair, the crime is the same, and no one can ever excuse damage to people or property on political grounds. The man is a hooligan, nothing more. In smashing the statues of any of our elected leaders, a vandal not only ruins a marvellous work of art, but he attacks the democratic traditions of this country, and so every one of us. I hope to God he's on bread and water within the week. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 07:51 | Permanent Link |
If Carter is against this war, it has to be right
"Jimmy Carter was not a flashy or showy President, but history judges him as one of America's greatest."
No, it's not the Onion. It's the Daily Mirror, the paper that supported Michael Foot in the 1983 Election. I don't know which history judges little Jimmy in this way, exactly. Republicans don't so much seeth at the mention of his name - as they do at Clinton's - as giggle. The Simpsons calls him history's greatest monster. And even the smarter liberals now know what a joke he was. The other day someone asked on a web forum "What does it take to get a Nobel Peace Prize?". I replied:
1. Be nice to every murderous dictator you meet
Note that I didn't name anyone in particular. But what was the reply from one of the board's leading Democrats?
A little bitter about Carter?
If even the sort of people who voted Carter to power can see what a miserable failure he was, if only admitting it by accident, it's just laughable that the Mirror can praise him at all, let alone to such absurd excess.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 07:20 | Permanent Link |
Commenting seems finally to be working again. Sorry it's been inactive so long. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 04:27 | Permanent Link |
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
A petition for murder, tyranny and terror
PHILOSOPHY PAGE BUTTERFLIES AND WHEELS has another idea for an online anti-war petition. But getting the peacenik brigade to sign it would be somewhat tougher. Still, it encapsulates exactly the attitudes of all those who willingly sign such things.
Dear FriendPosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 18:47 | Permanent Link |
Viva la France, Saddam
DAVID FRUM WRITES in the National Review on France's recent behaviour towards Bulgaria and Romania, both of whom support the Bush/Blair line of disarming Saddam. Jacques Chirac's threats were both general ("They missed a good chance to keep quiet") and specific ("If they wanted to diminish their chances of joining Europe they could not have found a better way").
As I read that, France – a nominal American ally – is threatening to wage economic warfare against other American allies as punishment for attempting to aid the United States. Read the news yourself and check whether I am right.
This is obviously true. The economic and political penalties of EU non-membership are being threatened against two countries simply because of the stance that their leaders take on Iraq. When Americans debated this approach themselves last week, leftist Matthew Turner said it was "racist hysteria". Now that the shoe is on the French foot, I wonder if he feels the same way.
For all practical purposes, France is Saddam Hussein’s most important and most loyal ally. Had it been up to France, Saddam Hussein would have acquired nuclear weapons back in 1981. France helped Iraq subvert UN-imposed sanctions in the 1990s – and the illegal revenues from sanctions-busting have paid for the rearming of Iraq. France talks now of “giving the inspectors more time” – but it was French support that emboldened Iraq to thwart inspectors through the 1990s, and it was French opposition at the Security Council that finally destroyed the inspection regime in 1998.
Ouch! Undiplomatic? Yes. Offensive? Yes. True? Absolutely, yes.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 18:31 | Permanent Link |
No euro this year, and probably not ever
AS DOWNING STREET gives heavy indications that there will be no euro referendum this year, I think it's becoming clearer that we will never have one and never join. I don't think this government's popularity is going to pick up significantly this side of the 2005/2006 Election (or the other side of it, for that matter), and that the time when they could have won such a referendum, if there ever was such a time, has long passed.
It is worth remembering the Prime Minister's promise that the decision about euro entry in this parliament would be taken within two years of the 7 June 2001 General Election. So in less than four months, we will know one way or another. Short of the political climate changing dramatically, for example by Blair emerging victorious and vindicated from a short and unbloody war with Iraq and flexing the muscles of his renewed personal mandate, I would think his decision will again be to delay a referendum. As for Blair emerging victorious from a short and relatively bloodless war with Iraq, I am sure this will occur, though whether this will be within the next four months, and whether he will be vindicated, is another matter entirely. If the substantial peacenik crowd cannot be persuaded of the case for war by the mountain of evidence already supplied about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, I doubt many of them will be any more convinced that the war was justified by a smug Prime Minister constantly reminding them that people were "dancing on the streets of Baghdad" when British and American troops liberated Iraq's capital.
In his first term, when people liked and trusted him, Blair was extremely cautious. Now in his second term, when people don't, he is extremely bold. But the boldness required to take the country into an unpopular war one year and then into an unpopular currency zone the next, or next but one, is I think too great even for the post-September 11th Blair. And by the time the decision is passed to someone willing to examine the situation afresh, the euro's failure will probably be so obvious as to make entry a dead issue. Whatever threats Brussels may pose to this country, it is becoming a real struggle to see the single currency as one of them. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:52 | Permanent Link |
Animals above people will always be the animal rights groups' way
IF YOU'RE PREPARED to feel your stomach churn, check out America's People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' recent letter to Yasser Arafat. Far less ignorant of the Middle East sitation than your average Question Time audience, it understands the influence of the terrorist who names public squares after child-murdering homocide bombers. Without a word of condemnation of the monstrous acts of terrorism committed against Israeli civilians, its writes to Chairman Arafat with a simple request: Kill Jews by all means, but never donkeys.
Your Excellency:Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:45 | Permanent Link |
Controlling A and B isn't enough for them - they must control how you travel between them, too
AS A TORY, I cannot muster much enthusiasm for public transport. I accept its necessity, but I really don't see why it should be promoted as the way of the future, when every self-respecting young person wants a car as soon as it would be useful, whatever his politics. As Alan Clark once put it, public transport is setting off at a time and from a place you didn't want to begin your journey, getting into a large metal container with a group of strangers, and arriving at a place you didn't want to end up at.
But for those who love the state, it will never be enough for them to ensure that A and B are run by them. Ideally, they will also control your means of getting from A to B, ensuring you cannot get anything better than that offered by the state. Zoe Williams summarises perfectly this arrogant, 'take what you get' viewpoint in the Guardian today. The saddest thing is it's so extreme and anti-liberty I don't know how you could parody a view like this. It is its own parody.
The use of a car where public transport exists presupposes the following; first, you are prepared to sacrifice air-quality and the overall safety of your fellow man for your own convenience; second, you dislike to travel in the proximity of your fellow man; third, you have no verifiable sense of civic responsibility or pride, preferring instead not to get rained on; fourth, if you drive an SUV, you are all these things, only 10 times worse. You are selfish - which makes the congestion charge a tax on selfishness. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:27 | Permanent Link |
Review of a Review
THE GUARDIAN HAS today examined some of Britain's political weblogs, and I was pleased to see Conservative Commentary was among them. The author managed to find something bad to say about most of them, so I wasn't disappointed by the criticisms, despite him finding nothing particularly nice to say about mine (and this was The Guardian).
Slightly unusual in being a small "c" conservative, rather than hard-right Libertarian, Peter Cutherbertson's blog is perhaps the most domestic, even parochial, of the British blogs, and betrays a certain old fogeyishness rather than cutting-edge intellectual theorising.
I'll first get out of the way my name - it is Cuthbertson, not Cutherbertson. This is a mistake made by quite a few, so I don't see it as a grevious error, but I am disappointed they did not check.
At first I was a little puzzled at the idea that I was only small-c conservative. I am a card-carrying Conservative activist and very strongly Thatcherite. But then I realise what he meant in terms of small-c conservatism being a respect for the traditions and institutions of this country and the values that have long existed in it as separate from the Tory Party. In distinguishing this from the sort of libertarianism that dominates on the right of the "Blogosphere", he described my views accurately and made a distinction I like to make myself between 'libertarianism plus support for the US and Israel', and conservatism more generally.
As for the lack of cutting-edge intellectual theorising, I do think I add that too, indeed I worry that a lot of my posts are far too long for being excessively philosophical. But as a general defence I would suggest that being a teenager, cutting-edge intellectual theorising may be a little above me for a while yet. But the other charge is old-fogeyishness, so I guess my youth doesn't quite wash.
Thus, although there is much close reading of New Labour policy, some simply old-fashioned thinking ("For girls in particular, cigarettes can be a real aid to elegance, as proved by Marilyn Monroe and the like.") make the site less palatable to non-conservatives than needs be.
Well, I'm pleased the close reading of policy is noted, though I think old-fashioned is an odd thing to say regarding that particular comment, made more than a little tongue-in-cheek. Is he saying there was a particular period of time when holding a cigarette did look elegant, but that such a time has passed? This seems rather odd. Completely wrong the view may be, but that it was true once and is true no longer seems very unlikely. If women once looked elegant smoking, in just what year did this change? Do Marylin Monroe and others no longer look elegant wielding cigarettes, or do they remain so but the generation of women who followed do not? I can't help but wonder whether he thinks that even if this view is true today, it is nonetheless old-fashioned to dare to express it, a more PC person keenly keeping with the times.
Could also do with archiving and cutting down the length of its front page.
I do archive (links in the right hand column), but the page is too long at the moment. I think this is a large part down to my very long UN post which was made gargantuan by including two emails in full. When this particular post has disappeared off the bottom of the front page, I'll examine it again and see whether I should still include 30 posts, or cut this down a little.
All in all, a pretty observant review from someone clearly not of the same politics as the site's main audience. I'm glad I was included.
Anyway, I shall now be off for a walk to the newsagents to buy the Guardian. Hopefully the column in question is not web-only. It will be nice to see my name (or a close approximation) in print in the national press.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:06 | Permanent Link |
Sick pay should only be for those who are ill
HONOR BLACK, Electric Review's fictional MP for Steeplebumpstead, keeps an interesting diary of modern politics from the perspective of a Tory anti-moderniser. A good read generally, it also includes some great titbits from recent news, for example:
Car plant chiefs in Luton are planning to give their workers lie detector tests to establish whether they are actually sick when they say they are.
So do I. If someone arrived at work one day and found that his employer had called in sick and closed the place down, he wouldn't normally expect to lose out financially because of it. His labour is still on offer, so why shouldn't he be paid? But this is the standard deal for businesses whose employees call in sick - despite the pay still being added to their employees' wage packets, they do not get the work. We accept this because the relationship between employer and employee does not work identically both ways, and it does seem unfair that an ordinarily employee (if not an employer) should face a penalty merely for being sick.
But this should certainly not be abused by those who feign sickness to avoid doing their jobs. Such people break the mutually beneficial contract between worker and employee and only create a culture of suspicion that makes things worse for all those who are genuinely sick.
Other than questions about the reliability of lie-detector testing, I can't think of a single reasonable argument against this scheme, except perhaps one based on the absurd notion that people who feign sickness have a right not to be caught out. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:18 | Permanent Link |
Whisper it: Islamofascism remains a threat
IN CASE YOU'RE wondering why the news has died down of the man caught carrying a grenade in his luggage at Gatwick, I suggest it has something to do with the discovery of a Koran in his luggage, a piece of news barely reported at all.
I don't think anyone who is familiar with the typical British Muslim family can believe Islam always breeds a culture of hate for others and for liberty. The sort of unassuming politeness and decency so many of them project is reminiscent of the attitude your typical Englishmen once had. As John Derbyshire has written, there's a kindness about many followers of the religion that puts the majority of the rest to shame.
But equally, to pretend that Islam has nothing to do with the threat we now face, that Islamofascism of the Bin Laden and Arafat sort has no connection to the wickedness and tyranny of so many Islamic regimes, or is merely a tiny minority of the total, is wilful blindness. Islam as a religion deserves our tolerance and respect. But political Islam, militant Islam, is a threat to the life and liberty of us all. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 00:36 | Permanent Link |
Sunday, February 16, 2003
Oh dear ...
Who's betting a liberal designed this particular quiz?Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 23:07 | Permanent Link |
We're not as spineless as the marchers
SOME GOOD NEWS AND SOME WONDERFUL NEWS. The good news is that the 'million' moron march consisted of only 750,000 people, police estimates putting the attendance figure well under double the numbers the Liberty and Livelihood March drew on 22 September. Considering how peripheral a cause fox-hunting is to the large majority of British people, this is a contrast very favourable to supports of country sports.
The excellent news is that opinion polls reveal nearly two-thirds of the British people will support a war on Iraq even without a second UN resolution.
Some 62% of respondents said they would be happy to back military action against Iraq so long as most members of the UN Security Council supported it - even if one or two of the five permanent council members used their powers of veto.
Even though the usual morally blind tendency's elevation of America as a greater threat than Iraq was made the headline of the poll, I think this is a remarkable change-around. Indeed, it is too remarkable to believe that people have changed their mind this much. Similar polls this week gave 11% supporting action without a second UN resolution.
The reason, I am sure, is that people do not generally know the intricacies of the United Nations, or realise that even if the majority of nations and Security Council members see a threat, a single country can veto a resolution. Once people come to understand this, you see a much more realistic view from the British people - that we cannot be held to ransom by France or China. This means that even if both those countries veto a second UN resolution, Tony Blair can explain that we won majority support on the Security Council and from the UN. If these polls are to believed, the majority will support him on that basis as we go to war. The myth of Britain's UN-fetishism has been revealed a hoax. We will do what is right and in our interests, not what a parliament of tyrants and kleptocrats tells us to do. ®Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 21:57 | Permanent Link |
If you won't obey the law, you shouldn't be making it
SOLICITOR GENERAL HARRIET HARMAN has been banned from driving and fined for speeding. This was not a case of some Under-Secretary for Statues being caught travelling three miles above the limit and getting a slap on the hand. It was the Law Chief of the United Kingdom caught driving at 99mph - a speed no one can realistically achieve without deliberately choosing to break the law. Why doesn't she resign? What possible excuse does she have for this? Has she no shame?Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 03:39 | Permanent Link |
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