Saturday, March 22, 2003
New Political BritBlog helps the Right stay in the lead
JUST AS I was beginning to worry that Britain's left was catching up in blogland, Au Currant pops up on the scene. Despite its name, the page is neither French nor Francophile, but solidly Anglo-American and pleasingly right of centre, featuring many varied and interesting posts. If you are now visiting the page under the impression that Salma Hayek is the next Einstein, or that Iraq is incapable of turning out a boy band, be prepared to have your illusions shattered by what is revealed.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:33 | Permanent Link |
Road map for appeasement
I AM IMMENSELY FEARFUL of those who are now arguing that the Bush Administration should put as much effort and vigour into bringing peace between Israel and the Palestinians as it did in fighting Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. My fear is not just that it sounds so reasonable at first sight, but also at the way in which even people on the Right are quite willing to concede to this sort of reasoning.
Of course, the difference between pacifying Iraq and pacifying Palestine is that while no sane person in this country blames anyone but Saddam Hussein for his terror and wars, when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, everyone in enlightened circles now blames not the government-backed Palestinian terrorists who make a peaceful settlement that does not threaten Israel's survival impossible, but Israel herself, for defending against such people. What is meant by "applying equal vigour" is not dealing with Palestinian terrorists the way Saddam's threat was dealt with, but bullying Israel into accepting a 'peace' settlement irrespective of its terms.
When it comes to Israel, the strategy of blaming the victim is second nature to our liberal elite. They don't recognise or care that both a Palestinian and an Israeli state is not compatible with the likes of Yasser Arafat remaining in power. What they see as 'peace' would be a nightmare for Israel to which the US, Britain and no European country would ever agree for themselves - a full neighbouring Palestinian state with its borders protected by international troops, free to arm for further conflict and to launch constant terrorist attacks on Israel in the mean time. Handled wrongly, the 'road map for peace' could literally mean Israel's destruction.
Dealing with the Middle East conflict the way she dealt with Afghanistan and Iraq would mean America going into the Palestinian Authority, killing all the terrorists and kicking Arafat's despicable, kleptocratic regime out of power. What is proposed instead is equivalent to the rest of the world forcing the US to accept Taliban control of Canada in the midst of terrorist attacks on American soul, in one final hope that this concession, this carrot, this one last act of appeasement, will be enough.
There is an inherent flaw in appeasement which ensures it cannot work. It can be expressed economically, even if the resources in question are not money. It is that if you reward someone for doing something, for acting in a particular way - if you subside terrorism and aggression - then you encourage it and get more of it. The fundamental problem with every negotiated settlement with an aggressor is the contradiction of rewarding his wrong-doing on the one hand and asking that he stop it on the other. If every inch of ground Arafat has gained is through terrorism, then what possible incentive does he have after this to give up on terror? Because it rewards deliberate malice, appeasement is worse even than bailing out a lame duck industry, which merely means rewarding involuntary incompetence.
What if the Palestinians refuse to implement a particular part of the recommendations? We already know what it will mean from our own shameful experience in Northern Ireland - demands in every case that Israel take "one last step for peace", with concession after concession given without the peace itself ever arriving. If there is one lesson to be learned from the Good Friday Agreement, it is that in these peace settlements, the democracy must not meet all of its own commitments first, and then just rely on the terrorists' goodwill to get the benefits in return.
Ending terrorism even for a short time would be a good thing - though don't count on Arafat implementing it - but it can be reversed in a second. A grant of statehood to the Palestinians is a bargaining diamond whose reversal would require an invasion certain to be condemned worldwide. Israel would therefore be crazy to agree to any Palestinian state if she could not be sure of safety from terrorist attacks launched from this state. Ensuring this means peace first, Palestinian statehood second. It means democracy for the Palestinians, free and fair elections, and an end to any government by terrorists, for if the Palestinians elect such people in free and fair elections, then clearly they do not want peace. Nothing I have seen of the road map for peace suggests that this is the course that will be followed.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:23 | Permanent Link |
Quote of the Day
"The United Nations should pass a resolution prohibiting the sun from rising while they are at it." - A Freeper's response to Jacques Chirac's declaration that he will use the French veto to force the UN to oppose any post-war administration of Iraq by Britain and AmericaPosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 01:54 | Permanent Link |
Friday, March 21, 2003
The first free Iraqis celebrate their liberation
AS COALITION FORCES entered Sawfan, Baghdad, tearing down the great imposing portraits of Saddam Hussein, here are some of the reactions of Iraqi civilians at last freed from his tyranny.
Milling crowds of men and boys watched as the Marines attached ropes on the front of their Jeeps to one portrait and then backed up, peeling the Iraqi leader's black-and-white metal image off a frame. Some locals briefly joined Maj. David "Bull" Gurfein in a new cheer.
I am so proud that Blair stuck this one out. I am so glad I am British and not French. The twelve troops who died tragically this morning are martyrs to liberty, and we should remember their sacrifice, as well as rejoicing at how it will benefit Iraqis above all.
I hope that camera crews arrive at more Iraqi cities as they are liberated over the coming weeks, and that the footage is juxtaposed against recordings of Charles Kennedy's opportunistic anti-war posturing in every Labour and Tory party political broadcast between now and the next election.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 21:29 | Permanent Link |
12 COALITION PERSONNEL, 8 British and 4 American, have been killed in a helicopter accident in Kuwait.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 03:24 | Permanent Link |
They care about Iraqis so much they'd rather Bush lost power than Saddam
MORE ASTONISHMENT ABOUND on the Guardian forums, which really are the British equivalent of the notorious Democratic Underground. I decided to test their commitment to Iraqi civilians by posing a simple question - if they could remove only one leader from power, would it be Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush? No prizes for guessing which the vast majority picked. Some of the disgusted responses of the handful of posters on the forum who are not to the left of Josef Stalin are worth quoting among the rest.
Bush, because he's a menace, a real threat to world peace.
Saddam causes misery to his opponents in Iraq. Bush causes global misery - from civilian bombings in Afghanistan, support for the evil Sharon regime (no word of its contempt of UN resolutions), and a stash of lethal weapons which it has no intention of giving up. Suffice it to say the world would be a better place without Bush, and Iraq would be a better place without Saddam.
Hang on let me think for a micro-second,got it, BUSH.
I find it astonishing that many people would prefer to see Bush removed from power rather than a man who has over two decades of murder and torture under his belt.
Bush by a hundred miles.
Why do many of you pretend to care about 'Iraqi Civilians' when you state on this very thread that the man most guily of killing them would be a preferred leader of the country.
[M]uch as we deprecate Saddam Hussein, his time is past.
The answer to this question is so obvious that it makes little sense in asking it. Bush.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 02:10 | Permanent Link |
Worth trying ...
A COUPLE OF IDEAS that just occurred to me:
Does Woody Allen count as an Israeli?
REASONED CRITICISM OF Israeli government policies is of course legitimate and may not be tinged with racial prejudice at all. But the anti-Semitism of some Palestinian supporters is so obvious it's almost funny that they can deny it. On Question Time just now, someone alleged that because there are so many Israelis in the US Government, American policy towards the Middle East cannot improve until the US government changes. Of course, Israelis are surely almost non-existent in the US Government, and what he means is that President Bush has given prominent roles to learned and skilled American Jews. But to complain about the Jewish lobby's influence and conspiracies would be too obvious, so the talk is of Israelis even when these Jews are not from Israel at all. Whether this is a deliberate strategy on his part or something he picked up from others we can only speculate on. But such moments do prove that there are people who, when they attack Israelis, in fact mean Jews.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 00:18 | Permanent Link |
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Combine David Irving and Gerry Adams and the new Palestinian PM is what you get
NISSAN RATSLAV-KATZ argues that Arafat's appointment of Mahmous Abbas as Prime Minister is not the sign of hope that many believe it to be. Apart from long-standing involvement in terrorism and support for the present attacks, the man described by the BBC as an "intellectual" and an "author of several books" has written historical tomes reporting that the Holocaust was a Jewish conspiracy intended to increase global sympathy for the Zionist cause.
Cal Thomas has more on the BBC's favourite intellectual, whose claims about the Holocaust extend to the view that fewer than a million Jews perished.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 05:39 | Permanent Link |
Not all Muslims think alike, BBC
ONE OF THE worst things about political correctness is the way members of favoured minority groups lose their individuality and instead are classified in terms their self-appointed representatives choose. Instead of reporting that some mouthy black bureaucrat takes x view, media happily report that the 'black community' believes x, as if black people are unable to form different and varying views about an issue every bit as much as anyone else.
The BBC continues this depressing phenomenon in rather gratituous fashion regarding every single Briton who happens to follow the Islamic faith:
Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain said the religion's 1.6 million followers all over the UK were deeply disappointed that their government had committed its forces to battle in dubious circumstances.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 04:30 | Permanent Link |
It's war at last
THE SECOND GULF WAR HAS BEGUN, the White House has just confirmed.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 02:54 | Permanent Link |
The land must come after the peace
EXCELLENT POST AT Right Wing News on the new 'road map for peace' in the Middle East. As John Hawkins shows, Palestinians generally don't want peace, and their desire for a two-state settlement is only part of a longer-term plan for a single state, uncontaminated by all dem Jews. The road map is nothing original, just the umpteenth 'land for peace' deal, all previous versions of which have been flawless in losing Israel land, but hopeless at granting her peace. The alternative, he argues, is for the Palestinians to become free, democratic and peaceful first, and then to get a state, and so bringing peace by ensuring that a Palestinian state is not merely a great launch-pad for future attacks.
Peter Hitchens and Mark Steyn have both in the past covered this issue exceptionally, and their comments are certainly worth examination again now. I am disappointed that President Bush has apparently abandoned the win-win situation which Steyn defended so well. If I knew that, as is likely, this U-turn is a response to Blairite pressure, I would be even sadder.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 02:18 | Permanent Link |
Opportunism knocked and Charles Kennedy answered
MATTHEW TURNER ASKS why the Liberal Democrats are accused of opportunism merely because as a party they have united behind a line that (at least until recently) happens to be popular.
I think they have been disgustingly opportunistic, and that this is apparent in their constantly changing position on war, and their new reverence for the "unquestioned moral authority" of the United Nations, which gave no more support to the Kosovo War - which the Liberals backed strongly - than to this one.
But most of all, it is clear with regard to their conduct towards the Conservatives. In the closing couple of years of Paddy Ashdown's leadership, he was espousing a doctrine of 'constructive opposition', which worked out as vigorously supporting the new Labour government on some issues and - in theory - opposing them equally strongly on others. When the Tories attacked them as Labour's poodles, they fired back the charge of irresponsibility and opposition for its own sake, condemning 'yah-boo' politics and the like. This was not a generation ago, but four years ago.
The extent to which they followed this doctrine became clear when William Hague (showing what events have confirmed was very accurate foresight) said that release of IRA terrorists should happen while the organisation decommissioned their weapons, otherwise we would lose all bargaining chips against a fully armed terrorist organisation ready to wage war on innocent people at any time. Charles Kennedy made zero allowance for legitimate criticism of this policy, and in his first conference speech as the new party leader, he outrageously told the Tory leader: "Loose talk at Westminster can literally cost lives in Northern Ireland... William Hague, grow up!"
Yet as it became clear that Tony Blair had no intention of forcing proportional representation through, this constructive opposition strategy fell apart completely. Suddenly, the Liberal Party found all sorts of new principled objections to government policy. So within three years of telling the Leader of the Opposition to "grow up", Kennedy was reporting to his party conference his utter disgust at Hague's successor's strategy of 'constructive opposition': supporting Blair on a tremendously important issue of national security, of war and peace. Kennedy used the fact that he had himself been the one to be tougher on the Prime Minister as an example of his party's own emergence as the "real opposition", draining all possible political capital out of the Iraq crisis, managing to attack the leaders of both main parties over their attitudes.
How "loose talk" might cost lives in Ulster was not made clear. The recommended tougher line on the IRA would probably have saved a number of lives in the Catholic areas of Northern Ireland now tyrannized by the Provos. But let's just entertain the possibility that Kennedy was right about Hague's "loose talk" risking lives. How much more true this is of the Iraq crisis! Every major political speech works to relieve a little more pressure on Saddam, ultimately making war more likely. Kennedy has ensured that in the last six months such speeches are all he has been known for.
Constructive opposition was fine for Kennedy when it suited his party political interest in a rigged electoral system, which - unlike the voters - would deliver the Liberals power. But when it meant principled Conservative support for a war the party leadership knew to be right even if it was not popular, constructive opposition was suddenly a sign of Conservative moribundity. When dealing with a threat to national security in Ulster, Kennedy thinks the slightest criticism "costs lives". But when dealing with a threat to national security in Iraq, massive, constant opposition was perfectly acceptable to him. Kennedy has done all he could to squeeze political capital out of this crisis, backing away from and disparaging positions he held to passionately a couple of years ago.
Reasonable people can certainly take the view that the Liberal Democrats are right to oppose a second Gulf War. But they cannot sensibly claim that the party has not been intensely hypocritical and opportunistic throughout the Iraq crisis. It's a fact.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 00:35 | Permanent Link |
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Even more than Blair, Brown is the continuity candidate
THE ECONOMIST REGARDS Gordon Brown as the only serious contender for the Labour leadership should Tony Blair fall under the proverbial bus. It also makes the interesting point that a Brown premiership would mean more continuity of present policy than if Blair himself were to remain Prime Minister. Blair, recently radicalised, has come to see the value of bold (though still insufficiently ambitious) reforms of the state sector - reforms that Brown will not accept, and would not, as Prime Minister, permit.
The article also contains the startling revelation that in Blair's first term, Gordon Brown would permit the Prime Minister a maximum of two interventions a year into the domestic policy over which the Chancellor has such a grip.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 21:00 | Permanent Link |
He cares only about France and himself
PRESIDENT CHIRAC HAS enjoyed a recent popularity surge among the left for his intransigence. These misguided folks think he genuinely cares about Iraq or any issue beyond France's oil contracts with Saddam and her wider interest in dividing Britain and the United States. I hope that upon reading Stephen Pollard's post on Le President, from which the quote of today below is taken, some such people might wake up to the reality. I doubt it, though.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 20:00 | Permanent Link |
Quote of the Day
"I'm sure that as a leader he loves his people" - Jacques Chirac on Saddam Hussein, the only tyrant in history to gas his own peoplePosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 19:59 | Permanent Link |
More 'patriots' against the war
LISTEN TO SOME of the bile pouring from the lips of Guardianistas who oppose any liberation of Iraq. Someone asked whether those against the war should support British troops in the coming conflict. Here are some of the most sickening responses.
They made their choice when they took the queen's/president's shilling. They agreed to fight and kill and die as directed. Fuck 'em.
Why would anyone wish for things to go badly for our soldiers. That would just mean more deaths all around.
[Asking opponents of war to back our troops is] nothing more than a ploy to defeat opposition to this war. If you don't support our troops now, then you are a traitor. McCarthism is alive and well.
Much as I fear the death of many Iraqi civilians, I equally don't want thousands of soldiers dead either.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:31 | Permanent Link |
"We don't want to fight but by jingo if we do,
Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:03 | Permanent Link |
It's Britain they hate
I HAVE NOTHING original to say regarding Tony Blair's marvellous and passionate motion defending war yesterday. Nothing, that is, except to say that when he condemned the Liberal Democrats, who claimed that - unlike Labour and the Tories - they were united, by saying they were "united in opportunism and error", I've never felt so proud of a Prime Minister as I did just then (I barely remember the Thatcher years). He is going to such lengths doing the right thing that whatever his other mistakes, no one should ever forget that he has proved himself a Churchill rather than a Chamberlain when it comes to defending the British people against certain aggressors. Whatever his cowardice in Ulster, his surrender in the EU, his misplaced reverence for the United Nations and of course his countless domestic failings, Conservatives must not let time diminish their respect for Blair's bravery on this issue.
But as I have now paid great tribute to a political opponent, let me also register my utter disgust with other such foes. Maybe it's something others have known for years, I don't know, but I finally got the Lib Dems yesterday. The party doesn't merely want their professed aim of a federal Europe - they want an end to any British influence on the world. If we are to have a voice on the world stage, the Liberals actively want it to be as part of an EU choir, not an expression of British will. I sat open-mouthed as Charles Kennedy, always happy to revel, if not take part, in anti-American bigotry, talked about Britain being broken off from her natural allies in this conflict. France, Germany, Belgium? Natural allies? America is head and shoulders above the rest Britain's natural ally. I don't know what's worse - believing that France is a more natural ally to Britain than America, or lying about such a belief for cheap political gain.
On Thursday, Simon Hughes announced that his party had in the past argued for a single EU seat on the UN Security Council, France and the United Kingdom losing their seats and representation. Does anyone believe Britain's interests would then be represented at all? Does anyone think that under such circumstances Britain could have overcome the Franco-German duopoly of EU influence in favour of a positive vote for disarming Saddam? Of course not. On all the issues that matter - Iraq, Zimbabwe, the Middle East - Britain's voice would have been stifled by the rest of the European Union, our instincts, votes and passions coming to nothing.
The Liberal Democrats cannot stand Britain as a country. They want us to join the European Union because any British influence on the world is for them only acceptable within the context of French approval. The party has latched onto leftist paranoia about Britian becoming America's 51st state. But their vision is worse still - the "regions" of Britain as a dozen impotent branches of a European superstate, the country as a whole having no independent power and influence over the world, bound always to the European powers the Liberals trust rather than to the Westminster politicians elected by the British people, whom they do not.
I don't use the word "traitor" lightly, and I will not use it here. But the party's vision of Britain and the world is certainly not compatible with any notion of patriotism except perhaps that of Euro-patriotism. Their loyalty is not to Queen and country but to Prodi and the EU. No wonder they haven't won an election in nearly a century. Now, I simply await with glee the loss of so many of those seats they gained at the last two elections. The recent Lib Dem successes have been entirely down to Conservative weakness. When we have fully recovered, they will not know what has hit them. They deserve every defeat.
[Edit: Some seem to believe that my refusal to classify the Liberal determination to abolish Britain's presence on the world stage as treason as being part of a trick to make out that I did in fact believe that, but hadn't the courage to say so. That certainly isn't the case, and my aim was precisely to distinguish between treason and total lack of patriotism, the latter being the true Lib Dem position when it comes to Britain.]Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:50 | Permanent Link |
Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Quote of the Day
"[T]hose voting in Parliament today need to consider what sort of a nation Britain is. Ours is the only European country in the post-war era which has never shirked its obligation to try to preserve peace in the world and defend the interests of the West against its enemies.
This fact has maintained our high military reputation, our global influence and our self-esteem. From 1940 to the present day, we have continuously recognised that we must be strenuous for peace and freedom, and that this sometimes means fighting for them.
In this, we have sustained with the United States the most important alliance of modern times. If we slink away now, we will suffer much more than the relatively minor catastrophe of losing a prime minister: we will be weak and friendless, and we ought to be ashamed." - The Daily TelegraphPosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 13:36 | Permanent Link |
There will be a war, the UN isn't behind it, but Short still won't give up her ministerial limo
IF THERE IS a single method of operating worse than threats and blackmail, it's idle threats and blackmail you don't in the end carry out when your bluff is called. Clare Short's decision to remain in cabinet shows her to be just such an operator. I hope her supposed great conviction and principle is never again taken seriously. This is not the first time she has backed down. Originally, she promised to resign if any war with Iraq went ahead. Her 9 March interview was itself a backing down over the original threat, reducing it to a decision to resign if the war went ahead without the UN. Now, the war is happening, the UN won't endorse it, and Short is still in cabinet. However much I may feel this war is just and necessary, her behaviour of late, given the crowning touch by this decision, is truly contemptible. I only hope the Prime Minister sacks her soon, anyway, remembering all she did to undermine him.
Perhaps saddest of all, I now won't be able proudly to post the 'then and now' image below, which I painstakingly put together last week.
Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 10:47 | Permanent Link |
Ahem! No comment
Courtesy of milspecgear.com:
America's US-hating 'patriots'
GREAT POST OVER at Right-Wing-News on the outrageous placards of those peaceniks who make no secret of their hatred of everything America stands for, but in many cases nonetheless protest vigorously any claim that they are anti-American. Their fellow travellers in Britain and Europe don't have to pretend. But in America, for sound electoral and popularity reasons, anti-Americans have to clutch at any straw rather than admit to their contempt for their people and country. But this self-loathing, very much like liberal Britain's imperial guilt, is a powerful force across the whole of the American Left.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 01:51 | Permanent Link |
Monday, March 17, 2003
Wow! The Indy got it right
ROBIN COOK, the last Foreign Secretary and the Leader of the House of Commons until today, has just left the government over Blair's Iraq policy. One wonders what he may say in his resignation speech.
The BBC has an interesting analysis of this move, noting that Cook is the first Labour minister to resign on a matter of principle since the 1970s. The same column suggests he will immediately become the leading rebel on the Labour backbenches, and could even be the Kingmaker in the next Labour leadership election.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:16 | Permanent Link |
The UN has failed in its last chance to prove itself relevant
BUSH AND BLAIR have now abandoned efforts to get an eighteenth UN resolution condemning Saddam Hussein before launching military action.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:15 | Permanent Link |
He's come out against war - he can't backpedal on this one
AS WAR APPROACHES, we must remember all that Charles Kennedy has said about it, and not allow him to back-track once action starts and change his mind once the conflict is over. So here are some quotations from his speech in Torquay delivered yesterday.
"Any war will cause a refugee crisis of huge proportions - not to mention the dangers of famine and disease."
"[Iraqi civilians] have suffered terribly under Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. There is no question about that. But war could so easily make their plight so much worse."
"Regime change is a thoroughly flawed doctrine. There is nothing in international law to justify it."
Spare some time to read the whole speech. On the whole it is disgraceful, with fine talk about "universal human rights" that Kennedy wants to deny to Iraqis (see the Liberty Log for an even more gratituous example of such reasoning), and the "unquestioned"(!) moral authority of the United Nations. More importantly, it is a speech he cannot now change his mind about. He has made his position on this war clear, and if and when it is a success, the terrible weapons of mass destruction are found and destroyed, and Iraq is democratic, no one must allow him to forget what side of the fence he eventually came down on.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:48 | Permanent Link |
The last hours of peace
WHILE UN INSPECTORS are withdrawn from Iraq as Saddam is given one last, final, last, final, final, last chance, the Prime Minister has announced an emergency cabinet meeting for 4pm. The Independent is predicting Robin Cook's resignation at that meeting. We shall see, as it begins in one hour.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 15:03 | Permanent Link |
Quote of the Day
"As far as I'm concerned, war always means failure" - Jacques Chirac
Doping them up can't replace discipline
FUN PIECE FROM The Onion archives on the drug Ritalin, which "cures" every difficult child, is taking America by storm, and is unfortunately becoming more and more popular this side of the pond. Teachers are especially keen to recommend it, as it is an easy solution to their own discipline problems, but it's not something I hope any parent would use lightly.
Ritalin Cures Next PicassoPosted by Peter Cuthbertson | 13:17 | Permanent Link |
The fascists aren't only in the BNP
IF YOU WANT real insight into the mentality of members of the Socialist Worker's Party's Anti-Nazi League, look no further than their latest campaign to have a university student expelled, not because he has broken any college rules or laws, but because he is a leading member of the British National Party. Let's ignore for a moment the distaste every thinking person should have for the BNP (and indeed the SWP/ANL) and ask by what possible reason membership of a political party should result in expulsion from a university. Personal tastes are one thing, and some of them may disgust others. Someone may like to eat a curry for breakfast and eat toast for dinner. Or perhaps someone else is a big fan of Eminem or idolises Fidel Castro. On any university campus you will find deeds and views in ordinary students that disgust and offend others. But by what possible logic can they be a reason to deny someone their education? The ANL does not say. Apparently widespread distaste for his views is enough.
Does it even need to be said that once left-wing groups get a veto over who goes to university, it will not stop with Neo-Nazis? After all, how different is the language they use against the BNP from that they use against Enoch Powell, for example? Once they managed to rid the universities of any BNP people, why shouldn't they use exactly those arguments against anyone who supports Powell? Or maybe Margaret Thatcher? Or David Blunkett? It's okay to say "I don't like Nazis" and dismiss unfair treatment of them ostrich-like, but at what point do your own views become unacceptable once vetting of them is standard? International Socialism has killed far more people than National Socialism. Perhaps the Trotskyists of the SWP/ANL could themselves be the next to lose out from such a process.
Most frightening is their whole "don't trust the people" attitude. The ANL clearly hasn't the confidence in the voters that they will reject such people, so they use intimidation and ridiculous campaigns like this. They think free expression and equality before the law are problems which must be solved and fought. Their advocacy of basically fascist tactics - shutting down political parties, banning their members from universities, further restrictions on free speech - is testament to a disgust with the democratic process should it throw up results they strongly dislike.
Similarly, for all their rejection of fascist ways, they seem equally committed to many of its vices - "love music, hate racism" is one of their slogans, and indeed, it is not only racism but racists they despise with every bone in their body. Their cartoons talk of the National Filth and show Neo-Nazis as rats, a tactic perhaps deliberately stolen from the Third Reich. Hate, anger and dehumanisation of many ordinary but misguided former Labour voters is what they are all about.
Whatever the follies of voters who managed to grant the BNP a handful of council seats, it is certainly no worse than that of people who would join an organisation like the ANL, whose anti-democratic, Trotskyist message is as nasty and as empty as anything the BNP has to offer.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 13:04 | Permanent Link |
Sunday, March 16, 2003
Let's hope the peaceniks listen to the Stop the War Coalition in this case
THE STOP THE WAR COALITION is encouraging all its supporters to walk out of their places of work to demonstrate and stir up trouble the day war is declared. I like this idea for two reasons. First, because general British common sense attitudes will soon prevail, with the vast majority of normal people coming in after twenty minutes for a cup of tea. Those left outside will be very few in number. This will be real encouragement for would-be wobblers (ie. the Prime Minister), who will be spurred on by the paucity of serious opposition.
Second, of those who do refuse to do any work that day, they really will be the sort of people doing jobs advertised every Wednesday in the Guardian. Won't it be a shock to everyone to see the country managing just fine without thousands of hospital administrators, ethnic diversity councillors and so many of the other worthless bureaucrats who live off the taxpayer without delivering any noticeable benefit in return? Maybe their employers will see this and even start getting ideas after that day is over about asking them not to come in at all the following week. We can only hope.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 18:47 | Permanent Link |
Hypocrites start at Calais
THIS IS ALMOST too good to be true: France, that self-proclaimed bastion of the United Nations, has unilaterally enforced regime change on foreign nations 37 times since 1960, without the support of the UN Security Council. Well, if what's good for the goose is good for the gander, then maybe what's good for the frog is good for the bulldog and the eagle.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 17:53 | Permanent Link |
Diary of Conservative Spring Conference 2003
AT ABOUT 1PM YESTERDAY, I rushed late into a Conservative Christian Fellowship fringe meeting with Oliver Letwin, David Willets and John Hayes, each of whom was making the case for the conservative they most admired. Their choices were Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Disraeli and Edmund Burke. Their arguments were mainly of historical interest, but they did have relevance for modern conservative debates.
Each, however, made one particular observation I found striking. For John Hayes it was Burke's prediction of the terrors of the French Revolution before they actually happened - that is following the start of the revolt but before its true miseries began. Burke saw any like method of social and political change as being inherently dangerous in exactly the respect it turned out to be in France.
Willetts noted that it was partly down to Disraeli's attitudes that British conservatism has fared so much better in general than its continental counterparts. It was he who ensured the party neither became a rural, upper class sectional interest group, nor a liberal, free market grouping, but a combination of both, appealing to both strands of opinion.
Letwin picked up from this, noting that it was precisely by recognising these different strand of conservatism, none of which should force out the others, which would prevent the sorts of divisions so beloved by the media. I think he was absolutely right in implying that neither traditionalists nor modernisers, wets nor dries, mods nor rockers, eurosceptics nor europhiles should dominate the party to the exclusion of the rival camp. British conservatism's success is precisely its openness to those in both camps - in finding a compromise that can have appeal to both.
The conference proper began with Teresa May's opening speech, in which she condemned the Liberal Democrats (a running theme for the weekend) for their opportunism and constant changing of position on the Iraq crisis. The 90 minute foreign affairs debate began next, with Iain Duncan Smith starting off with the same message and wishing the Armed Forces the best of luck. Bernard Jenkin and Michael Ancram both gave good performances when it came to their speeches, but the more interesting contributions were those from the floor. Caroline Flint-Macleod, a candidate at the next election, gave a very well received anti-Chirac speech. Another Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, who had lost his brother in the Bali bombing last year, spoke in favour of dealing with Saddam. I got the strong impression from both that we have some very qualified and competent people just waiting to join the Conservative benches once the party recovers from the landslide victories Labour achieved. It's a very good sign.
The economy debate followed, with CBI Director General Digby Jones, normally a non-descript and uninspiring figure, giving a speech that made public sector reform and business regulation and taxation surprisingly exciting. He warned that with Labour's National Insurance rise coming in this year, were any more regulations or taxes to be implemented, the boardrooms across the world would be unable to look upon Britain as being the freest economy in Europe, and their investment would dry up drastically - no longer would they believe that this country was any different from the rest of Europe, with their catastrophic social democratic models. Britain has the lowest unemployment in Europe and the least regulation. Ireland has the second lowest unemployment in Europe and the second least regulation. Holland has the third lowest unemployment in Europe and the third least regulation. This was not all a coincidence, he said.
He also said that with the public sector reforms being promised by both parties, it was essential to bring in private companies, with all that they can offer - most importantly the private sector ethos. For in the public sector, what comes first is the system - "we've always done it this way, this is how we do things around here". Second come the public sector workers, and third come the taxpaying customers who use the services. But in the private sector, he went on, these priorities are turned the right-way up. Businesses are run for profit, he said plainly, but that means always putting the customer first, because they are the ones who get you every penny of profit. Next come the staff. And in a private sector business, there is no 'system' resistant to change and reworkings - you can't afford it, and if you have it you go bankrupt.
All in all a compelling and convincing analysis for anyone who does not believe that the private sector is irredeemably bad, and that it is better for someone to be out of work than working in a job the rules of which a bureaucrat disapproves.
Iain Dale also made a good two minute contribution, noting the effect Ken Livingstone's congestion charge was having on his own Westminster business of Politicos Bookshop, with customers and takings down 10% in the last month, and local car park meters confirming that lack of mobility in central London is to blame. He also noted that of over 400 Labour MPs, only five had any business experience - none of them in the cabinet.
Michael Howard made a similarly convincing case.
At 6pm, I left the hall for a Conservative Way Forward fringe meeting whose guest speaker was Oliver Letwin. Rather than stick to Home Affairs, his speech was on the strategy for the party over the coming years. It bore many resemblances to the speech he gave in the 2002 Bournemouth Conservative Conference. He said that as Labour's massive injection of taxpayers' money into Britain's state sector clearly wasn't improving it, it was hardly an obvious point that cutting taxes would make it worse. He went on to talk about the way a hospital he was involved with himself worked - there was no need for targets: satisfaction of patients was the only target because the hospital would otherwise go out of business. He argued that Conservatives could fight for better public services and lower taxes, because lack of money was not the issue - it was the structure that made much of the public sector so inefficient.
His warning about the way rising state spending has masked unemployment was a real slap in the face. 600,000 manufacturing jobs have been lost under New Labour, he warned, and because so many new bureaucrats whose contribution to public services is negative or virtually non-existent have been employed in the state sector, this has been masked. The wealth-creating sector of Britain's economy is contracting, and being replaced by that reliant on taxpayers' funds, but which clearly isn't delivering better services.
Questions came on such issues as BBC bias, in response to Letwin's assertion that the Conservative task was to make the Andy Marrs and Adam Boultons perceive that the party offered a realistic alternative. Letwin stated that he didn't believe the BBC was biased in favour of any party, but did have institutional biases on certain issues, such as the European Union, which he said infected the organisation from top to bottom, not granting publicity to the BNP, and - unsurprisingly - in favour of public service broadcasting.
When someone asked him what role he thought either corporal or capital punishment had in Britain, he said none. Although Letwin accepted that he was in a minority in opposing the death penalty, he said all evidence suggested that voters looked to politicians to moderate their prejudices, not to appeal directly to them. That, he went on, was why despite winning a large element of support for their asylum policy at the last election, the Tories still managed to lose more votes than they gained because of that very issue.
I didn't get the chance to suggest the policy of elected judges to him, but I may email him my recent Electric Review piece, as it touched on what he said yesterday multiple times.
On Sunday morning, Oliver Letwin was again the first to speak. He repeated his promises of a 20,000 per annum quota on asylum seekers and 40,000 extra police over the next eight years. Damien Green and Liam Fox in turn made equally convincing and fair speeches on their portfolios, winning the greatest cheers for promises to ensure the best candidates got to university regardless of their background, and to allow patients to choose how their tax money was spent in the NHS when they fell ill. Bashing the Liberal Democrats was a particular running theme of this weekend's conference speeches, and Liam Fox perhaps did it best. He noted Lib Dem frontbencher Jenny Tonge's heartwarming account in a press release of a visit to a local hospice, the sort of patients she met there and the effect the experience had on her. A slight problem with this is that the hospice hasn't yet been built.
Tim Collins won a warm standing ovation for his own speech, mainly because of the way it ended, in which he condemned those Conservatives who attacked the party from the sidelines, asking that if they can't say anything nice about the party, they shouldn't say anything at all.
Iain Duncan Smith's closing speech was quite impressive, and he struck the right tone of humour, condemnation of Labour and support for Blair's Iraq policy and British forces about to go into action. He seems to be growing in the job - something most evident in recent performances at Prime Minister's Questions. Whether this will be enough will, I think, still depend upon the May 1st local election results.Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 16:00 | Permanent Link |
THE MOST RECENT comments to this site seem to have disappeared when Haloscan went down. Apparently they will reappear soon. Posted by Peter Cuthbertson | 14:48 | Permanent Link |
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