Web Analytics Trust People (once an Englishman in Philly): 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005

Friday, December 24, 2004

Merry Christmas one and all

...and if anyone's offended - tough!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Howard preferred ridicule to being seen as soft on terror

There's nothing I can add to this. Read it. I agree with almost every word (bar the last paragraph).

Monday, December 20, 2004

Stop the press: Labour Party to give up spin

So it seems that Labour's new year's resolution will be to give up spin and negativity.

Alan Milburn, seemingly firing the starting gun for next year's election, says "It will be the most positive and upbeat election campaign Labour has ever run."

What a good sign of a development in Labour Party politics. Surely now they will be able to take the moral high ground and proclaim themselves, once and for all, whiter than white in a great departure from the tactics that actually got them to power.

Or not....

In the same press release we hear that the election will be the "last stand of the Thatcherites" and that they would pin their slogan on the super-positive and ambitious "Britain is working - Don't let the Tories wreck it." How.....positive?

On the same day we see their latest campaign stunt advertised on their website. And, my, what positivity that exudes.

"Labour's Ian McCartney MP was speaking as 'The Ghosts of Tory Christmas Past' – three million unemployed, poll tax misery and 15% interest rates – returned to haunt Michael Howard's Conservative Party as part of a Labour photocall at Tory HQ."

"'The Ghosts of Tory Christmas Past' today reminded Michael Howard, on the day new employment figures are published, of the Tory leader's record in driving up unemployment to three million, promoting the poll tax and supporting, from within the Cabinet, economic policies that kept interest rates at 15% for a year."

It's a good job that Alistair Campbell is back in the fold too. He's always one to ensure a positive campaign and positive relationship with reporters is developed.

It seems that Labour is, once again, all spin and no substance. I am sure that the people would prefer "Less Talk and More Action". The only problem is the personnel and the organisation which is meant to be delivering it.

I am very worried that a bleak midwinter is going to turn into an even bleaker spring. In 2001, I vowed to myself I would never let another defeat like that be inflicted on the Tories. 6 May 2005 may be even more depressing.

On the bright side...I have six months left in America!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Free degrees?

And who said degrees should be Government-funded in the UK?!

I needn't have bothered with the exams. I could have just popped down the road to Harrisburg and got one of these. Could have got one for the dog too!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

It still stinks

If this is the best argument they can come up with in support of ID cards then I am convinced that I am right.

I have gone from having massive respect for Janet Daley, to almost nearly none. Some concerning an invitation she responded to most rudely and the rest concerning fatuous articles like this one.

Most striking, however, were these comments:

"Government is not seen so much as an august, disinterested body as a kind of super-person whom you, as a voter, want to believe shares your own beliefs and perspective. "


"Most voters now believe that the government can (and should) embody what decent, right-thinking people believe to be beneficent social attitudes."

If this is the case (as it may well be) then politics will be reduced to little more than a mad rush to respond first to public opinion and reflect and echo it rather than having a debate and letting the public make their choice. Actually, that is probably what has happened. It does not mean that we have to accept such sloppy thought. It does not mean we should stop promoting values we believe to be right and respectable. It does not mean we should surrender the fight. I always thought the Tory Party would rail against this, entirely popular or not. Unfortunately it is beginning to abandon me.

I am not a number, I am a free man

The Conservatives have made a monumental error over ID cards. As I have said time and again on this blog it represented an ideal opportunity to define what the Party stood for and to put clear space between ourselves and Labour, on an issue fundamental to traditional British civil liberties. It would have allowed the Party to put itself on the side of reducing Government interference not increasing it, and carve out a real strategic position of freedom from the state for your pocket and your personal life.

As it is, the once great Conservative Party is a pale and opportunistic echo of an irritating, nosey and nannying Government. I see no medium-term strategy now, other than damage limitation to get us through the next election before seriously looking at fighting the next, accompanied with a "'go below the radar' campaign and hope Lab and Lib votes fall the right way to give us a glimmer of sneaking in" tactic. We should oppose a Government playing a greater role than necessary in our lives. Unfortunately today's Conservative Party does not seem to have the calibre to do that. The tectonic plates of political argument are shifting. The great strength of the Tories has always been the ability to adapt first and fastest to this. Today they do not seem to have the skill to respond at all. Worst of all they don't even have the self-belief to stand up and say that there is nothing wrong with having "Conservative" views - and that they are proud to be right.

I could be begin to consider ID cards if I had seen anything to suggest they would have a positive impact on any aspect of our country. If I thought they would actually reduce benefit fraud, I could envisage thinking about them. If I could see one argument to suggest they would make us more secure from terrorism, I could countenance considering them. If I had been shown one way they would reduce identity theft, rather than making it easier to steal identities in a more wholesale way, I could begin to look at my reasons for opposing it. Unfortunately I do not see they will do that at all.

I am not a number, I am a free man. I should not have to register on a National Registry, disturbingly similar to the Sex Offenders' Registry, in order to be recognised in my own country. I should not have to have an ID card in order to freely walk about the streets and footpaths of this country minding my own legitimate business. Why should I have to prove who I am as I go around minding my own business in my own country? Why should there be a presumption, which I would have to displace by showing my card, that I am doing something wrong? Furthermore why should I have to pay for the privilege of this reversal in the presumption of the law?

I thought the Tory Party was my natural home. I thought they believed in these values and questions, which I hold dear. It appears it no longer does. It is a sad day for freedom, and a sad day for non-lefties in the UK.

UPDATE: This has caused quite a furore across the right-of-centre/broadly-libertarian blogging world. See the '1952 Committee', Andrew, Public Interest, 'The Candidate' and assorted other droplets of sense. There's a more thoughtful, and, probably because he feels slightly less strongly about it, more reasoned article I wish I had written by Blimpish. Where he is absolutely correct is that the Party flutters between good old Tory libertarianism, and times-of-strife Tory authoritarianism from policy to policy and day-to-day. Nobody thinks there are any gut convictions there. The greatest concern must be that the 'mods' (read, 'full of sound and fury signifying....nothing) will wrest control of the wheel on the rudderless ship. What they need is something totally new.

Griffin, Griffin, gone.

At the risk of sounding like an apologist for the vile and horrendous BNP, I am slightly concerned by the arrest of Nick Griffin. If he has broken the law then he, of course, deserves to be locked up. I will be much happier with him off the streets and with him not spouting his vile rubbish. That's not the point though, for I'd quite like to see Tony Blair and Tony Benn in the slammer too - but I don't think they should be and I don't think I have the right to decide on it.

From this article, it appears that his crime is branding Islam a "vicious, wicked faith" (I had to check I got the quotation marks in there, to avoid fear of an unwelcome welcome party at Heathrow!). This brings up all sorts of issues linked to the proposed laws on incitement to religious hatred. Now, I have no truck at all with racism or the people who brand and decide about others on the ground of race, and largely the same is true with religion. I detest Griffin and the unique brand of frothing bigotry and mindless loathing which he espouses. I do strongly believe, however, that if we want to be truly free we must be free to say whatever we like so long as we do not infringe upon others - that sort of infringement is not just saying something others don't like, but actually threatening them.

In fact the law is verging towards attacking thought crimes. The Government does not approve of racism, or people disliking certain groups on certain grounds. Most of the time I strongly disapprove too. I do not feel the urge to coercively force them not to think what they think though. I like to show them how they are wrong and persuade them to think differently. In fact, exactly what the Government thinks we should do with all 'conventional crimes'. Tony Blair and his chums do think very differently though.

This latest incident just lends more credence to his suggestion that he his being targeted by the establishment because they are scared of him; when in fact it's because he is so mindlessly wrong and offensive. The way to beat him and his ilk is to show them up for the mindless thugs they are. By all means arrest them when they use, threaten or incite violence, but not when they incite thought crimes or mere views of which the Government and ruling elite do not approve. I am becoming increasingly wary of Government intervention in the field of ideas.

And on a side not, can you actually incite someone to 'hate'? Someone elsewhere has rightly questioned whether you can incite someone to 'like'? Can you? Or are they just tools for Government manipulation?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I'm not a number I'm a free man

I am disgusted at Conservative support for ID cards in the UK. Words cannot convey my seething anger. I shall post much, much more on this I am sure. At the moment finals dominate. Let it just be said I am very, very, very angry.

Monday, December 13, 2004

I love America. I absolutely adore Philly. So don't get me wrong as I could see myself staying here. There are still many things which both amuse and perplex me. From this comes the first of a new series...


Car alarms, with a key-ring-mounted button, which instead of just making the lights flash, make the horn sound with a short sharp blast when opening or locking the car.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Whose Secretary are you, Minister?

This article irritated me. Obviously sexist abuse is wrong, but apart from Gillian Shepherd's anecdote, which clearly comes from some other age when she was first elected, is there anything actually sexist in there? Yes, there's abuse and banter, but is that all to be outlawed now? Were a female colleague to whisper to me, as I stood to make a maiden speech (God forbid) "You're flying low", I wouldn't take it as sexist. Irritating, maybe. Childish, maybe. But sexist!?

This Is Not Not the Nine O'Clock News

"And in news just in British comedians are speaking out about a law to outlaw jokes. It finds that people laughing could cause offence in communities that prefer to castigate themselves for enjoyment and blame all the ills of the world on that lot in the east/that lot in the west/ George Bush/sex [delete as appropriate]. This was not Not the Nine O'Clock News"

Rowan Atkinson is spot on though: "But unfortunately it is a wholly inappropriate response far more likely to promote tension between communities than tolerance."

Monday, December 06, 2004

Anniversary of privatisation

It's just a pity they couldn't have come up with a snazzier, more appealing name. Still, all in all a mighty triumph. The challenge, of course, is to use the efficiencies this bought to ensure all feel they're better off.

I was going to blog more but I'm feeling woozy from a Hepatitis B shot!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Police 'lose' explosives...

And they say we have to have identity cards as the only way to keep us safe in Britain...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Efficient use of public assets

Check out this spoof of the Scottish Parliament website: the website all in "Scots". No, that's right, not Gaelic, but Scots! It really is hilarious and shows the waste, in my view, of devolution to a body on too high a scale.

Except of course, it isn't a spoof...


Best Prime Minister?

Interesting survey of British academics on the BBC website about who they think the best PM was. Not the most eloquent contribution in the history of the world, I must say, but I wonder who Edward from Philadelphia is?!

Ironically there was an intriguing letter in today's Daily Pennsylvanian about the political composition of the academic elite. The concept of positive discrimination in University admissions for Tories/Republicans amuses me!

Perhaps it skewed the results of the BBC-publicised poll?