Web Analytics Trust People (once an Englishman in Philly): 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005

Monday, February 28, 2005

I have just had the most saddening and infuriating experience of watching the debate on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill live online. The disregard the Labour Government shows for Parliament and concerns about civil liberties is really quite chilling. We have just been treated to Charles Clarke using some tangentially-relevant Telegraph poll, which we all know is affected by the exact words used, to justify taking such draconian measures where a politician can lock up individuals without a judge. For me I find the whole idea terribly chilling. As Sir Patrick Cormack very powerfully said "we should never grant powers we would not wish our opponents or enemies to have". I have to say I completely agree.

We have to attack terrorism and make life difficult for those who hate and wish to destroy our society, but if we throw out safeguards for our liberties then we effectively let terrorists win. If this issue goes through, with the sham of debate we have seen, not only will it be a sad day for Britain, but it will be clear this is another of the Labour dirty trick election games.

UPDATE: Fantastic and powerful speech by shadow Attorney-General Dominic Grieve just now. When I met him in person I was distinctly underwhelmed, but he has just put Charles Clarke right in his place with a rumbustuous attack on Labour's spouting of opinion polls. Particular highlight was his assertion he wouldn't vote for such a dog's breakfast which undermined civil liberties if 99% of the country was in favour of it.

Isn't it a bit odd to argue in one breath the Tories are playing politics and then in the other to assert that public opinion is different!?

God bless America

Now this post may well annoy some of my more frequent regular readers but I feel obliged to air my great satisfaction at reading this article in the latest Daily Pennsylvanian. It's in response to a decision by the university to ask fast Mexican food restaurant Taco Bell to take over space which is currently empty but used to be inhabited by a bunch of horrendous little snack booths which nobody used and which lost money. The complaints against Taco Bell, from what I can understand, are that it's not healthy and that it doesn't pay its workers enough money, and that the university should take a stand against such disgusting evils.

Well, having been at university for four years, three of them amongst the tide of left-wing student politics in the UK, I am more than used to such self-righteous indignation. What is refreshing, however, is to see that there are people willing to speak out against its supposed assumed norms. In Britain you can sometimes feel like the heathen for daring to suggest the student body as a group has better things - like study - to do than to fight an ongoing and judgemental war against the latest 'cause celebre' of the student branch of the Socialist Worker Party. What we need in Britain is something of a more assertive stand against the assumed norms of the left, and it has done me such good to see that in the US. The fact is that those who object to the apparently horrendous standards of Taco Bell never have to eat there and can choose to put their money elsewhere. What's more, we have the extraordinary contradiction that one of the writers wants affordable food, but doesn't want the impacts of what affordable food means. For me, it's just another example of jumbled up left thinking.

Help save the FA Cup

If you have time, do please sign this petition against FA plans. They want to move the FA Cup to a Wednesday night before the end of the league season due to the slightly earlier World Cup and also to have no replays in the 5th and 6th rounds. I really do feel that this is a worrying step for the Cup, which used to be the staple of British sport but which, with moves like this, can easily become devalued. I doubt very much that they would move Champions League games for it... The FA Cup itself is a fantastic institution, allowing every team, amateur or professional, across the country in the English game, a shot at reaching the greatest honour in the game. To water it down, to ignore the history which makes it such an institution, is to weaken its place in the public eye. It's great that the Football Supporters' Federation feels so strongly.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

And still things get worse...

Labour's election campaign gets worse and worse and Alan Milburn's assertion of what will matter in "this election" juxtaposes rather sadly with the BBC's comments here. I accept that personal and negative campaigning will be a part of election campaigns but this seems particular tedious and particularly low-brained. The abject refusal to acknowledge any sound economic management in the last years of the Conservative Government in the mid-90s is predictable but sits ill when they wheel out rubbish like this. One of the heartening things of the last few weeks of Conservative campaigning is that they have been overwhelmingly constructive and come out with positive announcement after positive announcement - at this rate they may just avoid a disastrous second and get a decent second!

Another dull post agreeing with Militant Moderate

Militant Moderate blogs on the importance of self belief. I couldn't agree more, but would expand the analogy to politics too, and in particular the Conservative party. Their greatest problem is that the public doesn't feel at home with them, but by becoming increasingly paranoid about this they have merely made the matter worse. If they don't believe that their views are right how can they expect everyone else to? Too often in recent years it is some self-belief which has been lacking and which has resulted in pale policies modelled on New Labour's vacuousness. It might just be that a little bit of confidence is returning now and that can breed more both within the Party and within the public - there have been too many false dawns to be sure of this though. What's more, I don't think that winning this general election is quite such a fortunate prize as a Welsh Grand Slam...

Do the sums add up?

Why no criticism of this latest proposal from the LibDems on the BBC? I remember when the Conservative plans came out the website was crawling with assertions of pigs flying and the like - why no question at all of how they plan to afford these spurious plans to raise the levels of stamp duty?


Is this 'hohnest politics'? It seems pretty damn low brow just to say "they'll do nothing for pensioners". I'm pretty sure 50% off a council tax bill, whether you agree with the policy or not, is something. I suspect this is the shooting of a LibDem fox...

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

EU dangers for Britain

A fantastic quotation from the French politician I most admire, even if we disagree, Nicholas Sarkozy at EU Serf:

"If the French said 'no' in the referendum, it would be the British, who want a fiercely competitive market, who would triumph".

As ever, incisive and accurate from Sarko.

Honours selection process to be more "diverse"... least we keep the "Empire"....

"Diverse" is fast becoming one of the most sickeningly overused and misused words of the 21st Century. Why is "diverse" any better than "unified" or "the same"? I can see why it is not something to criticise and that choice and variety can be good, but is it always the be-all and end-all. For me, the new "motto" of the EU, if the Constitutional Treaty is ratified, will be "united in diversity". That pretty much sums up, not just the Treaty, but the excessive use of the word to meaninglessness for me. The motto, like the Treaty, gives platitudes to "diversity" in terms of nationality of the member states but in reality is a veil for a much greater process of unification, the federalism which dare not speak its name.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Ken Woe

Militant Moderate makes some interesting comments about the ongoing Livingstone furore, with which I largely agree, however, I can not share his complete ire against the Mail Group and the Evening Standard. It is silly and absurd to make Livingstone utter the now completely meaningless words "I'm sorry" just to placate certain pressure groups in the most superficial manner possible. That, however, renders his comments no less thoughtless, his behaviour no less unbecoming, and his actions no less vulnerable to criticism. The modern trend for behaving how one wishes just to "apologise" in an apparent loss of face must be stemmed, along with the unnecessary public love-ins or moments of false and artifical "grief" a la Diana's funeral which remind me all to eerily of George Orwell's "minute's love/hate".

Please, God, not three months of this!

I am absolutely furious having read Labour's latest "debate" on Conservative spending plans. If this is the standard of drivel which we will have to put up with over the next months then I am going to have to zone out of the whole campaign.

John Prescott has said in response to the Conservative plans to tackle council tax that "None of the Tories' sums add up so today's promises from the Tories are not worth the paper they are written on. The only guaranteed cuts you will get from the Tories are cuts to frontline services such as schools, hospitals and the police.The Tories have committed to cut £35 billion from public spending. In addition, they have made spending commitments totalling well over £15 billion that could only be funded from cuts elsewhere. So the Tories have to find £50 billion worth of cuts to pay for their tax and spending plans. "

Now excuse me for one moment, but it seems to be Mr Prescott's sums that don't add up. If the Conservative Party has to make £35 billion in savings/cuts then that is £35 billion not £50 billion. The fact they are not promising £35 billion in tax cuts makes it unnecessary to raise an extra £15 billion through cuts! Has he just pulled this £15 billion figure from mid-air? Applying this logic to Labour then they would have to find at least £31 billion in cuts... I can understand how it might be a valid line of attack to question whether the James Report can be realised and to ask what would happen if full savings couldn't be made, but to conjure up figures for apparent costs out of nowhere and then to assume no savings will be made under it is just plain preposterous and disgraceful politics.

Then, to sum up, he hits us with the most absurd line of all - "The truth is none of the Tories' sums add up and today's promises from the Tories are not worth the paper they are written on. The Tories have to find more than £50 billion of cuts to pay for the tax and spending commitments they have made – a scale of cuts that could only be found through frontline cuts to schools, hospitals, the police and vital public services."

Erm...the exact spending commitments which he reckons the Tories will need to make cuts to pay for are for investment in frontline spending on schools, hospitals and the police! What he won't do, of course, is face up to the fact that there might be a debate over whether more is necessarily better in terms of public spending. That is a very interesting debate for the Tories, and in my view is the 'accepted norm' which they must shatter to get back into power. With Mr Howard's short leadership it is not one, however, onto which they can hope to twist debate during this election campaign.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

BBC Bias?

Just another quick example of BBC bias.

In this article on a row over Labour's immigration pledge which the Conservative says they have already broken the quotation brought out as a caption is "This is three party politics" by Charles Kennedy. What relevance does this have to the story other than flaunting the LibDems? As ever, subtle yet ruthlessly effective bias against the Tories.

Then again, maybe I'm just paranoid and decent MPs would help?

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

BBC bias?

Sorry for the quiet period - I have been reinspired reading this article on the BBC website about the proposed EU Constitution and was staggered by the pro-European bias which it betrays. Subtle, slightly hidden but ever so influential.

"The constitution was signed last year to change the way the European Union works now it has 25 members."
If that was purely the case why wasn't it prepared before the accession of new members? The clear emphasis here is that we need the constitution because we're now so big. It is an easy logical step to make from this to having to support it.

"Months of negotiation ended last October when European leaders signed the constitution, designed to streamline EU decision making."

I wouldn't say it is in any way fair to say it was designed to "streamline EU decision making". I would say it was designed to streamline EU integration. Decision-making on new issues currently not regulated by the EU is the real area it will have its greatest impact.

"But replacing the veto with qualified majority voting in other areas could produce reforms the UK wanted. "

This is almost certainly true - but it is stated as fact rather than opinion. It is also highly likely it will produce reforms which the UK does not want and can never realistically get back out of.

It is subtle bias and slight misrepresentation like this which has subliminal effects on people and is so characteristic of bias often shown by the Beeb.