Web Analytics Trust People (once an Englishman in Philly): 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More Madness of Mullah George

From Harry's Place, has George Galloway seen sense? When asked about the Mohammed cartoons, in a ranging answer incorporating 7/7 and 9/11 he "condemns these evil and barbaric acts". Sadly, though, in Galloway's world the evil and barbaric acts are printing some supposedly funny scribblings in bad taste, not the mass slaughter of many innocent people either at work or on their way there.

Indeed, "this incident is worse than the 11 September attacks in the US and the 7/7 incidents in London. Therefore, today it is the right of Muslims to express their anger and to defend their right and faith".

At least he stops short of actually expressly urging more attacks on innocent people.

UPDATE: There's also discussion in the interview as to whether or not George has actually converted to the faith of which he appears to want to be the political figurehead. So has he? We don't, of course, learn. He merely tries to deceive Muslims into thinking he has, while giving non-Muslims just enough to be satisfied he hasn't. As I said, beware the monster you try to tame, lest in turn tames you.

Monday, February 27, 2006

More on baby Charlotte

I've covered this story before in some depth, but it's come to my attention just now that in recent days Charlotte Wyatt (the baby whose parents had a legal battle just to retain the right to give her NHS oxygen and who was at one point left to die in hospital shortly after her birth due to a court order preventing her resuscitation) has become ill again and had the previous order reversed which in effect mandated her continued protection under the NHS. This means that as her condition worsens, if it does, then she will die and the hospital will not try to keep her alive. It's all documented on her blog and, despite the highly publicised problems her parents have been having, is really quite distressing. I hope she is in little pain and shall be praying for her life.

This is a very difficult area of the law and morals, but surely, with loving parents, life must be better than death?

Breaking news...


A huge fleet of police cars have just stopped three white vans and a large blue lorry on the Embankment travelling east, by Temple. Area is thronged with police...any connection to the Securitas robbery?


They've just stopped another lorry and coned off the inside lane. Two coppers who appear to be Special Branch are watching the one lane of traffic going through.


One guy has just done a runner up toward Westminster with two policemen in tow. A dog team has arrived. They appear to be looking inside the bonnets of the vans but aren't touching the lorries.


Traffic is really backing up now. I have to head out to a meeting so updates will pause. I'm trying to educate my flatmate with a crash course in blogger to continue for me...


I really have to go, but it appears someone has arrived from forensics.

UPDATE: At least two men ended up getting cuffed and taken off. Nothing about it in any news updates I can find as of 18.00. Freaky... really makes you wonder how much the police do that we never hear about.

Mindless leftism

So the British gender pay gap "is the largest in Europe" (note the quotation marks, they mean you can make a story say what you want, without checking its integrity, so long as someone's stupid enough to say it).

Why is this, you may ask. Well, according to one of the members of the group which drew up the report which makes this shocking assertion:

"It is because of structural problems; because of young girls' choices in schools and the fact that our careers education system completely fails to make them realise that the choices they make will determine what they earn"

So, for whatever reason, girls are making the wrong choices and are then paying for them later in life.

The response to this? Empower them and offer incentives to make better choices, surely?

Don't be so silly. The leftists know the answer. It's not the fault of the women and girls who make financially - I won't say entirely - poor decisions. Those who drew up the report they're actually relying on must be wrong. It's society's fault, the state's fault, nay, the fault of those who make financially better decisions. They must pay!

Katherine Rake, from the Fawcett Society - an organisation which campaigns for equality for women - said that widespread discrimination was a major contributor to the pay gap.

"It is not so much the pay gap that is the issue, it is the fact that women are not getting in to the best jobs. Women nearly always end up in low paid menial jobs. Business need to understand that women are quite capable of juggling a career and a family, and they should not be discriminated aginst for doing so."

Derek Simpson, general secretary of Amicus, said the report had "deliberately missed the point," adding that without compulsory pay audits, women will have to wait until "Doomsday" to earn the same as men.

So, some women earn less because they make choices which lead to them earning less. To rectify this, you completely skew any system of incentives we use to encourage people to make beneficial choices for themselves.

Despite this, they still expect fewer people to make those undesirable choices? Idiots.

UPDATE: Perhaps there is a rightwards trend in Britain if this feedback from the BBC is anything to by.

A mormon US President?

Before the loony-left beats me to it, I thought we already had a moron in the White House...

For one day, I felt Oxonian...

I think it's important to add another voice to the chorus of support for the Pro-Test march in Oxford at the weekend - it's good to see that you can shower on at least a semi-regular basis and still exercise your right to peaceful protest. I did begin to wonder...

The best posts about it that I've found are here and here. Reading these reports now wish even more that I could have made it but, alas, long-standing commitments prevented me.

If I had, I would have found myself firmly on the side of those defending Oxford University's right to develop an animal testing lab, as I strongly believe in the value of testing even though I do have concerns that it is as humane as possible. What's more, I would have been more surely against those who oppose it, those who eschew any rational debate for the rule of the mob in adopting the role of the bully. Groups such as the ALF and SPEAK have much of which they should be ashamed.

I am pleased Oxford, the University and its students (both past and present) are taking a stand on this matter in the face of intimidation. Although I was fairly undecided on the merits of the plan at the time, I recall quite clearly, as a student at Cambridge University, when the university shelved plans for its primate lab a few years ago. A similar campaign to that endured by Oxford was sparking up and the University, in my opinion spinelessly, decided to consult with student unions to "gauge student opinion about threats from the disruption". This was, of course, merely a prelude to saving as much face as possible in the resultant climbdown. My view at the time, which I expressed quite publicly, as now, is that it was a matter for scientists at the university. If they thought it was necessary and useful then we should have been happy to stand up to those who sought to bully us.

Here are other comments from the meeting:

Animal rights protesters would relish the opportunity to disrupt university and college life. Are we asking for trouble? Especially as we're near the site. [etc etc etc]

Protesters might leave us alone if students don't support building.

Sadly bullies all too often prosper.

So, well done and thank you Pro-Test.

French flap

The British Government has announced it is placing a ban on the import of poultry into the UK for consumption after widespread concern about the organisation of the French response to outbreaks of avian flu in the country.

The decision to maintain an embargo imposed in 1996 drew an immediate rebuke from French President Jacques Chirac, who told the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, by phone that he had delivered a "totally wrong" verdict.

Britain's left-wing government, under intense pressure from Chirac and the European Commission to copy other European states in refraining from a ban, issued a brief statement saying public health and food safety had to take priority.

EU officials in Brussels were not immediately available for comment on the announcement, but the British decision to maintain the ban makes it highly likely the European Commission will press ahead with its legal action against London.

Blair and his ministers stuck to the advice of France's new food safety agency, which reiterated reservations about British beef on Monday, despite a unanimous dismissal of its arguments by EU scientists a couple of months earlier, who stated that the H5N1 virus posed no significant threat to public health.

The government statement referred to the food agency's view of continued, if not quantifiable, health risks.

"Given this view, Britain is not in a position at this time to do anything other than consider the embargo," it said. Among the problems were insufficient guarantees on testing as well as on adoption of European Union rules on labelling and tracing the origin of poultry and related products.

"The British government is above all driven by the priority of public health and consumer safety," the statement said.

Surprised? That's because it's not true, I lifted it from an article in '97 on the continuing French ban on the import of British beef. I know bird flu is a different issue and am certainly not advocating a ban on imports, but it does show to me both the absurdity of the French at the time and also how inconceivable it is that the EU would be as amiable to us as to France.

The French flap about bird flu, and yet 79 countries still ban the import of British beef, after this.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Labour rattled?

So, Stephen Byers believes that Labour should "modernise" its links with the trade unions. That makes it quite clear that, no matter what they say in public and no matter how they attack Cameron for being a chameleon he's got them rattled by the direction he's taking the Tories.

Nothing, of course, will happen as a result of this story. As ever with Labour it's just a way of sending a "we're not so left-wing" message to key voters. What's interesting is that they feel they have to say.

I can't help but think it won't make Brown uncomfortable either. Clear "New" Water for a challenger anyone?

Friday, February 24, 2006

Mayor's suspension a pointless waste

I've just heard about Ken Livingstone's four week "suspension" through an interview with Simon Hughes on the radio.

Firstly, I ought to explain that I'm highly cynical about "Standards Committees" in any form. They seem to me to represent the crudest form of managerialistic (and purported) efficiency at the expense of the democratic process.

Nonetheless, I am staggered at the politicking which has gone on in relation to this, in particular by Simon Hughes. So many are merely using this as a chance to "get Livingstone", a man, incidentally, or I abhore, in a way which they just couldn't at the ballot box.

This entire matter strikes me as a non-issue politically, despite what he said being mildly offensive. What I do find shocking is that our democratic system permits non-entities to suspend an elected mayor, who'll still be paid, for a month and thereby frustrate the intentions of so many Londoners. What a pointless waste.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Madness of Comrade George

I know that I shouldn't be surprised by things such as this any more. It really ought to be old news which shouldn't wind me up. For some bizarre reason it still does though.

George Galloway has condemned Denmark as “one of the most racist countries in Europe, without a single purpose-built mosque,” at the same time as criticising the British press for being “full-on in their denunciation of the Muslims” and “negative coverage”.

Hang on a cotton-picking minute. Denmark is racist because they don't have a single purpose-built mosque? Can he be serious? Firstly, he's conflating race and religion in a way I'm sure would lead to my being barracked by many Muslims and many on "the left" if I did it, but beyond that what a coarse and sad way to decide whether someone is racist or not? What a betrayal of his socialistic roots. Just because Danish Muslims (some of whom are too busy stirring up hatred in the Arab world by touring with faked images of Mohammed) haven't built their own purpose-built mosque the entire country is racist? Whatever, George.

I'd been thinking about Mr Galloway last night even before I read this interview though and was reflecting on what a sad position he now occupies. His constituency is probably one of the most racially and religiously volatile in Great Britain, specially selected because it would be easy for him to divide and conquer on shady grounds. Having done that, however, he is now reduced to repeating the same lightweight, sickening line in order to retain support of his electorate. Having pandered to base prejudice in order to gain election he is now a slave to it.

His only choice is between obscurity and continuing as a British mouthpiece of the apologists for militant Islam, with little meaningful or even insightful to say, apparently, about any other issue in the country. What a lesson for politicians, past, present or potential. Beware the monster you try to tame, lest it in turn tames you. He tried to tame the British politics of Islam to use it for his own political ends, but in demonstrating he was pliable to it, his political ends have been reduced to those British political Islam will consent to. His weakness is now clear for all to see. Master turned servant.

Just to sum up the sad madness of "comrade George" I'll leave you with another part of the interview I quote from above.

But as he continues, he is confusing. “There’s no such thing as freedom of speech,” he says - “all freedom of speech is curtailed. I am, for example, curtailed from saying what I think of this gentleman (he points at me) by the laws of libel.” Since he is quite free to disseminate truth without fear of retribution, I can only assume it is the wish of George Galloway MP to spread lies about me. “And if he were black,” he continues, “I’d be curtailed from making a racist attack on him.” I am surprised. “Would you want to?” I ask. He ignores me. “If he were Jewish, I’d be curtailed from making an anti-semitic attack on him.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More Lib Dem internet shenanigans

I knew that the blog's readership had widened and increased in the last few weeks but I didn't know that a) it would have such a profound effect on readers or b) it could influence the Lib Dems!

Subsequent to this morning's posting the owners of the Lib Dem Forum have modified their advertising with Google so that a search for "scummy lib dems" doesn't provide you with a sponsored link to their conversations. What's more, a constructive dialogue struck up with the Ming Campaign has lead to them adopting my suggestion and focusing their web campaign; a search for "Lib Dem Leader(ship)" now throws up a link to the Campbell Campaign.

I just hope this doesn't harm the Huhne campaign...though something tells me it makes little difference!

Minger = Duffer

The Ming campaign is full of duffers.

The latest Campbell Campaign Email crows about including "light relief". Indeed, tagged at the end of a tedious and seemingly interminable list, if you get far enough, is this:

For your info and entertainment...Try entering 'Gordon Brown' or 'David Cameron' into the Google search engine.

So, dutiful to the last, I tab in "David Cameron" and "Gordon Brown" into Google. And, lo, the Campbell campaign have sponsored a link. Applause all round. Titters at the back. Money to burn clearly.

Sadly, this ground-breakingly hilarious move comes after this story on Guido's blog yesterday. The Huhney Monsters had placed a Google ad on searches for Hughes and Campbell, so the duffers over at Camp Campbell (and no, I don't work for the News of the World) clearly thought they'd better respond in kind. Indeed, they now appear above Huhne's link on a search for the terms "Chris Huhne" and can prove to demonstrate to anybody looking for the two leading lights of the main parties just why they never voted Lib Dem.

On the subject of "Lib Dem", however, the Huhney Monsters are still worth their weight in Sugar Puffs (again, no, I'm not with NOTW) and show they truly do "get the web" unlike Sir Menzies. Search for "Lib Dem" and you still only get Huhne2Win.

UPDATE: Search for "Scummy Lib Dems" and you, conveniently, get directed to "the Lib Dem Forum". What self-knowledge.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

How free is free?

So David Irving has been jailed for denying the holocaust. Unpleasant chap though he is, I think it's wrong that this law exists and has been used against him. I accept, nonetheless, that he broke the law as it stood in Austria; as did he. For this, for good or for ill, he was going to be punished. Surely it's right though that we question the priorities of what is, broadly speaking, "our society" in the light of the three year sentence handed down?

Just to focus the mind, David Irving will be deprived of his liberty for three years for merely questioning, 17 years ago, an established, albeit important, public opinion. That is the same sentence as handed out for this woman, for committing what is, in the eyes of many, one of the most offensive crimes in the world at the moment, this killer, this burglar, for burglary from an Army worker giving him a lift home and repeated criminal damage, this man for committing 47 offences of burglary and theft, and this "trained carer who used her experience to prey on vulnerable elderly people". Is that really parity? Is that really just?

Other parts of the world, however, are less compromising. About which should we be more concerned? Which helps us better "engage" with the Muslim world? Moreover, who dares suggest our focus and energies are misplaced?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Why do today if it can be put off until...

A long long day's business in the Midlands has delayed today's promised post on "lessons to learn from America" - instead let me leave you (both!) hanging on yet further by pointing you in the direction of this from Militant Moderate. He talks a lot of sense, but, I think, underestimates just what principles can be gleaned from across the pond.

In other news, maybe deliverance from car bombers will result from them getting stuck in jams on the roundabouts...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Lessons in Republicanism

There's been much discussion, in the light of Hague, Osborne and Fox visiting Washington DC, about just what the Tories in Britain can learn from the GOP in the States and the way they have developed a true political project from which to build their recent success. My own thoughts from my time Stateside are published on the site, but I'll recap them early next week in the light of the beginning of Cameron's leadership.

Huhne non-event

Read Militant Moderate for reaction to the Huhne report on Newsnight. I do think it's a non-story. I do think Michael Crick is a fairly obnoxious personality. Perhaps, to partly answer MM's question, the reason he is so sneery of success is that after promising much he perhaps hasn't achieved all he could have done with his life - save gaining a reputation for hatchet jobs.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Crick, Huhne, Newsnight, Guido Fawkes & Huzzey

Remember, you heard it here first.

Trust People thinks Guido is overegging his pudding. Lowering expectations to make successes appear even greater is an old Lib Dem tradition the Huhneys will have learned.

Why the Cheney episode won't play too badly Stateside

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Huhney Monsters

It's a proud day for me. Trust People has its first scoop*.

Coming soon is Guido and the Monkey's most recent edition of bar room banter. The straight guys this week are the Huhne campaign team - Guido's own "Huhney monsters". As well as Lynne Featherstone MP they "interviewed the campaign team - the press officer (Mr No Comment) and the campaign manager (Mr Soundbite). They were very sporting and gave a campaign commitment that one of the first acts of Huhne as leader would be to sort out Guido's membership card issue with Cowley Street."

I hope this isn't a sign of Guido's standards slipping but the dastardly duo seem to have confused the roles of Mr No Comment and Mr Soundbite within the Huhne hierarchy somewhat. You can check out one of their blogs here, but I think they'll both be suitably flattered by the plaudits nonetheless. I'm sure the quality of the satire will be no less than normal. My sources tell me that a thoroughly good evening was had by all, with Guido and the Monkey being as charming as you'd expect.

I haven't covered the Lib Dem leadership campaign much - scandals and sandals aside - but I have to admit genuine pleasure at seeing Huhne come forward. His campaign seems to have been slick but in a way which is not so slick as to put off the muesli brigade, though there has apparently been sniffing around. What's more he's certainly livened up debate amongst the old lot much more than would have been the case if we'd suffered the tedium of a straight Campbell vs. Hughes ticket. Will he win? He certainly has a good shot still. With the Tories' interests at heart though there would be something delightful about Hughes pulling it off...

*I say, scoop, well, it's not really a scoop, more a mini-bit-of-trivia, but indulge me!


Government takes "action"

So the bill on "glorifying" terror was passed yesterday. William Hague was entertaining at PMQs and Tony Blair came out with the puzzling assertion that most ordinary people understood the meaning of glorification. Do we really?

Since the result two fascinating pieces of comment from the left.

Tony Blair misunderstands freedom:

He said the new law sent the message that "we have free speech in this country, but don't abuse it".

The Guardian speaks sense:

The underlying problem about yesterday's debate - as with too much of the government's response to the terror threat since 9/11 - is that Labour has become dangerously addicted to campaigning by legislating. New laws are too quickly promised as a way of taking a public stand rather than as a solution to a problem. Parliamentary votes then become, as Mr Blair put it yesterday, a way of sending a message (or not) rather than a means of addressing a lasting need. William Hague was not far wrong, in response, when he dubbed the anti-glorification clause a "press release law".

The battle over this bill has been a shabby charade, It illustrates the truth that new laws are not the real answer to the real threat in our midst.

This is going to terrify those readers who already think I'm far too wet, but I might just start reading the Grauniad!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Blair v Hague Mk2

Good luck to Mrs Cameron with the birth - good luck to Mr Hague for PMQs tomorrow as he stands in as leader! It should be a corker.

How the welfare state stopped helping you over a rough spot, becoming a rights-based entitlement

If you read one thing today, make it this.

Do you have your papers, sir?

The might of incrementalism as a persuasive tool; the great ID database project creaks slowly on and each new power of the state slowly adds up to becoming more of a burden on Britain.

So, we are going to have to have an ID card after 2008 if we want to have a new passport. Maybe it's not so bad after all. It could just be a Government plan to cut down on cheap air travel - I'll certainly try to put off renewing my passport!

To avoid the card hassle couldn't they just pop a chip in the arm of each newly-born with the details on?

Finger on the pulse of Martians

As ever Simon Heffer has his fingers on the pulse...of Martians.

This time Sarkozy is the best thing to happen since sliced bread. He is, apparently, showing the resurgent British Tories the way to power, wait for it, by suggesting a tough Australian-style approach to immigration. Now, Heffer-lump doesn't justify this on the basis of predicted pleasant outcomes of the policy for France. No - it will get Sarko power and would do for the Tories too.

"Sarkozy shows Conservatives the right way to win power"
Read it. The conclusion he draws is hilarious!

What Heffer ignores, of course, is this short but non-exhaustive list of differences between Sarko's position (I'm a fan, by the way) and Cameron's. Just political, of course, I'm leaving the merits out of these; just like the substance-over-style Heffer...

-Sarko is a Government Minister, so starts from a position of power.
-His party has been winning elections.
-France has a sclerotic economy which needs jumpstarting.
-France is in a clear slump and needs bogey-men.
-France has serious issues relating to immigration and integration which have come to light in a much more obvious and impacting way on the French than problems have done in Britain ie. there were large-scale riots across France for days.
-Sarkozy hasn't just lost an election pretty heavily which was defined by focussing on immigration.
-Sarkozy hasn't just seen an election lost because his party is seen as "the nasty party" partly because of the perceived focus on that policy, right or wrong.
-Sarkozy isn't up against a Government which has been seen to take some fairly tough action (albeit in practice pretty useless) on the "immigration issue".

This article really would be risible if it wasn't so tragically vapid. Oh look, there's a right-wing policy being adopted let's say Cameron should be doing for no reason other than the fact someone else is...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Twelve good men and true

Do you believe it is up to the police to detect and bring criminals to book, that it's then up to the courts job to determine guilt and either hand out a proportionate penalty or stand as a bulwark of protection from unjust state punishment as appropriate (I know it's unfashionable, but, y'know, better that twelve guilty men go free than punish one innocent)? Or rather are these both just parts of the "criminal justice system", a state organ with the function of dealing with crime?

Simon Jenkins has outlived his usefulness in his latest diatribe, this time against trial by jury.

The mistake he makes in asserting that

To pretend that it delivers justice is absurd. This archaic theme park democracy is expensive, a waste of time and adds nothing to fair trial. Abolish it.

is a classic of the media elite. Instead of understanding an issue and adopting a reasoned, rational approach to an issue in general they focus on recent headlines and think that a response to them is a cool and reasoned response to problems society faces. Worse, they think that because what they say may have had an effect on the issue in the headlines it must also have a beneficial effect more widely. This means that we make policy in a frenzy and which caters merely to the more remarkable extremities of our society.

In this instance it's Mr Jenkins' assertion that the prosecution of the other Mr Jenkins caused problems (in the Billie-Jo murder case) and that it took ages to get Abu Hamza to trial because the police were concerned about getting enough evidence for a jury to convict.

Ignoring the question of just how accurate he is in lumping all and any blame for these two trials on the absence of Jenkins' rule he is once more falling into this trap for the media. Just because in these two cases it wasn't ideal does not mean that the hundreds of thousands of trials each year with juries do not make the system better - yes, better - than it would be without them. As the "new left" seem wont to do every week at the moment he tries to engage with our ancient rights on the basis of a bizarre functionalism. Believe it or not though the jury system wasn't set up to offer "efficient ways of dealing with miscreants". It was to give society the confidence to submit itself to being governed by a body with a monopoly of power. It was to reassure people that they would be treated in a just way reflecting the values of the society they lived in.

Mr Jenkins may not like it that he and his cronies cannot impose their vision of what is "reasonable" on the British people, but when it comes to the exercise of state power it is surely correct that you have the option of recourse to your people's common view of how facts are to be interpreted? It is surely right that twelve good men and true are best placed, in terms of substance, to decide on the basis of good old British common sense just what is reasonable doubt.

Barristers championing juries portray them as all-wise embodiments of good old British common sense. Yet they then treat them as idiots who cannot be trusted with the truth. They declare jurors clever enough to hear year-long fraud cases yet not clever enough to decide for themselves the relevance of particular evidence to a case. In a recent trial a jury was asked whether a credit card had been stolen but was not permitted to know that 100 other cards were in the accused’s possession. This is not justice but charades.

Yes, the court has to have some rules of ensuring any bias which results merely from the way the court proceeds is counterbalanced in the jury's eyes. Yes, some of these may be counterproductive at times. Surely better to remove these and make more admissible than to throw the baby out with the bath water? What's more, does he really think that such rules wouldn't become more prevalent and even less comprehensible if it was all done by professional lawyers? Does he think it better that one judge should hear whether or not evidence is admissible, when this means, in a combined arbiter of law and fact, that he has to pretend he hasn't heard what is eventually ruled inadmissible? That is and would be charades.

Despite his many jibes at law, lawyers and the legal profession juries retain the confidence of the British people in fair play and reasonable approach of the law. Perhaps it is this innate connection, which Jenkins can neither fully explain or manage, which motivates his article. And long may it continue. For while it does, it sends a clear message to the Government that we wish to retain an ancient right. An ancient right to say that any power wielded over us must be on our terms rather than those of the "right-thinking" elite who govern, and in governing us purport to know better than us how we should be treated.

To maintain that the fabric of British liberty rests on the tiny minority of cases tried by juries is absurd.

Maybe so, Simon, but its basic principles - such as government by consent not by evidence of efficiency - do so rest.

Rather than confidence in the managerialist's inane pursuit of that evasive "perfect definition" of laws to cover every unimaginable circumstance I would rather defer to the judgement of twelve good men and true. Then again, so what if we start catching more criminals and one silly old fool happens to go down for a week or so when he just happened to be innocent....

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Prioritising concerns

I was at a private dinner late last week with a senior member of Cameron's Tories who, it's fair to say, has some involvement with the enaction of the so-called Priority List, or A-list, for potential Tory candidates in target seats at the next election. This list, of course, has a 50% quota for men and women. Now, my own feelings are that the A-list is a good idea. It is vital that there is an emphasis on taking positive steps to attract the best people to be candidates for the party. My problem is that the plan goes further than this. The powers that be have decided 50% of the list will be women regardless of merit.

Aside from the fact that this exposes to question a fundamental principle, which I hold dear and believe the Conservative party should too, relating to a belief in gender-blind, race-blind and religious-blind meritocracy, it is so unnecessary. If one wanted a more representative collection of candidates, as this blog has said before, it would have been quite possible to make sure that you head-hunted the best young women and did all you could to make them apply for the list - and you could have achieved your aim without starting down the slippery slope away from merit and towards discriminatory quotas.

So, yours truly set out to test this pol's mettle with a fairly simple question.

I'm delighted you're taking on one of the remaining bastions of unacceptable discrimination on the grounds of sex and ethnic background with such conviction, I said, and I agree with almost all you suggest to tackle it. Will you and the party leadership commit to also taking on one of the worst bastions that remain though? In the judiciary, at High Court level a mere 15% of judges are women. You would need to increase the representation of members of ethnic minorities on the bench by some 300% just to match the current representation such groups have at the bar, let alone in wider society and no concern seems to be shown about this. You say the Party won't be half the Party it could be without more women and more members of ethnic minorities, well surely the bench won't be half the bench it could be on the same grounds - and the judiciary doesn't even have the legitimising quality of public elections. Given what a brilliant tool you think the Priority List quotas are for the Party, can we have one for the appointment of judges too?

Was there an answer, any answer? No. Not even a suggestion it could at least be considered if it proved to work for the Party? No. Not even an intelligent discussion about being pragmatic and ditching bits of what one believes in to avoid having all you believe ignored. Of course it was tricky - my question shows up the absurdity of the vacuous scheme. To the shame of this pol though, all I saw, as my question was ignored, was squirm after squirm after vacuous resort to the Tory Party as "employer". Cos, y'know, of course, all sorts of employers, even in the law, had to have equal opp policies now. Sure. That doesn't mean that when they have two vacancies one is for boys and one is for girls. This figure couldn't defend it in anything other than vacuous and patronising sound bites lifted from Cameron's acceptance speech.

This may be a necessary evil to win an election. I'd still at least appreciate a dog whistle to let me know those with their hands on the rudder can understand the full consequences of such rash ideas no matter how well they play in the Times. Because if I can pose a tricky question like this, you can be damn sure that those merry souls in Old Queen Street fancy their chances of putting a squeeze DC on this too.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Laws to protect Islam

A mass organised protest in Beirut against those Danish cartoons of Muhammad has just taken place in which

"The leader of the Hezbollah militant group told the crowd demonstrations must continue until Europe passed laws banning insults to Muhammad."

These are the same demonstrations for which the death count is 12. Over some cartoons.

At least the lines are drawn. It becomes, sadly, clearer by the day that this is an issue hijacked by Islamofascists. They do not represent all Muslims by a long-shot and we must work with the more moderate ones to develop a strong coalition to see off this threat.

Sadly there are still spineless sell-outs.

EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini has called on the media across the European Union to adopt a voluntary code of conduct to prevent such rows in the future.
By doing so, "the press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression", he told the UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right," Mr Frattini added.

The real message we will send is "we're happy to do what you want so long as you make enough noise". I have seen no rational argument in favour of so restricting freedom of expression. All such supine braying does is encourage further pressure from those who would Islamise the world.

Will militant Islam prevail?

To all those who say that the furore over the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad was to a certain degree an understandable response to gross provocation, I say balls. To all those who say that Jyllands-Posten, the Danish paper, acted irresponsibly in printing the cartoons, as a way of showing to the world that the fear engendered by extreme Islamo-totalitarians, I say tosh. To all those Muslims who, outraged at the red rag the West has waved to them by defending its right to free speech whilst allowing them to explain why the cartoons may be an insensitive thing to do, I say don't waste your time, go back to work or enjoy your families in your homes.

In October, last year, during Ramadan, in a country where the Muslim Brotherhood have a powerful base, and in an arabic newspaper the cartoons were published (above).

Here are some disturbing stats from that revelation and the aftermath. A principled stance was immediately taken by Muslims all over the world acting out of deeply-held principle and conviction at the dreadful provocation and disrespect which had taken place.

Editors sacked: 0
Products boycotted: 0
People made redundant as a result: 0
Flags burned: 0
Embassies torched: 0
Protests in the street: 0
Threats of murder, mass murder, suicide bombings etc: 0
Threats of beheading all Egyptians: 0
Traditional death threats to the paper or its employees: 0

Who's acting out of principle now? Says a lot doesn't it.

Most importantly it also suggests that even arabic countries have a tide of Islamism, or totalitarian Islam about which their governments are sufficiently concerned to jump on this badnwagon for a bit of blood-letting. And it shows us that militant Muslims across Europe are only too keen to take any opportunity to rail against the established order and the values we hold and have long held dear. The battle to show that their foul ideas will not and should not prevail should be engaged now, for by putting our heads deep in the sand of "multiculturalism is working" sand we risk deferring the problem to a time when it will be harder to master.

Hat tip to Rantings of a Sandmonkey who broke it. Well worth a read.

Cameron's flop-flop

Yesterday PMQs was awful. Did Cameron really only muster four questions? If DC is going to go for the jugular, if he's going to choose to go all Punch-and-Judy for the Fleet Street hordes then he really ought to do it properly. Appearances like that make me wonder whether he went for the consensual style partly to cover up potential weakness at the dispatch box - he certainly has very little experience of it, but even his pre-rehearsed delivery of his pre-rehearsed lines didn't go down that well, despite the reception from Tory MPs.

What was needed, of course, was a spontaneous assault on Blair sustained by a slightly different approach to make the same point - which if you didn't see it was that Blair was flip-flopping on education and could no longer lead. The attack on Cameron for flip-flopping himself was of course from the same Prime Minister who ran for election by the people of this country on a manifesto which later proved not to be worth the expensive paper it was printed on. A manifesto which said "we will not introduce top-up fees and have legislated to prevent them". A Government which later introduced them and had done nothing to prevent them. Cameron might be modernising and changing his party, but one area he would never even consider learning anything from New Labour is in misleading the country and flip-flopping over manifesto pledges they were elected on, he should have said. But didn't.

Incidentally - and I know I've said this before - but isn't flip-flop the most hateful expression in the modern political vocabulary? I was so disappointed when it caught on so much in the last US Presidential election as it just degrades and devalues any debate and, in and of itself, explains nothing. It's like those interminable debates about whether someone is a socialist or not. Tedious, sounds very important, but is actually just inane.

UPDATE: Guido's got a great new slogan for DC.

I'm screwed...well, I may as well enjoy it.


Your above scores indicate your relative risk in each of the 3 main types of terrorism. A score above 50% means you are living with the real possibility of death by that type of terrorism. A score above 75% represents extreme danger. Below 25% means you are most likely safe.

Some quick advice follows:

- Avoid large cities (especially political or financial centers) at all costs
- Avoid extremely large sporting events
- Avoid suburbs of extreme large cities

- Avoid buses and subways
- Avoid suspicious people
- Avoid establishments owned by targeted groups
- Avoid exploding bombs

- Avoid contact with other people
- Own a shack in the woods - or a cool boat
- Avoid contact with lots of mail (think: Anthrax)
- Avoid drinking tap water

This test sponsored by Dasani.

Hat tip: James Hellyer

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

He wouldn't, would he?!

John Reid couldn't possibly harbour hopes of Brown's downfall, or could he?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Left outside alone

Stumbled across this blog, Jamie's Big Voice, today. It's certainly thought-provoking reading about a subject I've often grappled with after passing Big Issue sellers, beggars or touts. I have to admit, beyond twee generalisations, I don't have much idea what to do about the problem of homelessness. We ought to ensure that there is a clear path available to allow those who are homeless to get back into mainstream society and find a place to stay. We ought to ensure healthcare and mental health support is available and homeless people are made aware of it. We all benefit from people being given a second chance. That said - when there are such options available - I would have concerns over bending too far backwards, accommodating every homeless person by handing them as great a subsidy as they'd like for life.

Here's Jamie's story though.

Perhaps it's just about helping everyone find their niche in life. But do we all have a purpose?

I'll try to muse more on this later in the week. It is an issue I have always wrestled with, but it's occupied me more since moving into the Temple. Every weekend that part of central London is all but deserted apart from those who live there - but live outside. It really brings home to me the scale of the problem. I am amazed by just how many homeless people come to a van which provides them with a hot meal all but on the doorstep of the British American Tobacco HQ in the evenings.

The traditional class system may have fragmented and greatly altered. I still struggle to accept Tony Blair's assertion that "we're all middle class now" in a classless society when you see such troubled people scrabbling to stay alive in and around the basements of the financial motor of Britain.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Freedom to hate

With the ongoing furore of certain groups of Muslims feeling they can decide what we should and shouldn't be free to say or do - even when it doesn't harm any of them directly - I enrolled on the Muslim Political Action Committee's UK forum. I was fascinated to see just what activist British Muslims did have to say about issues and how they really did see the world.

Much of what I've seen on there so far is predictable. There are many who rail against irrationally-perceived Zionist-Anglo-American oppression. There are, however, and this lifted my spirits greatly, a significant number of members - even of this fairly militant group - who do want to engage in rational, reasoned discussion. There are a not insignificant number who have fully endorsed my comments about the "cartoon war". This encouraged me, but it also made it quite clear that we have to be careful not to alienate all Muslims. We have to entrench and develop our common cause with rational, outward-looking and, dare I say it, sensible Muslims at the same time as being uncompromising with the headbangers: just as Thatcher took on and defeated the loony lefties without alienating the working class as a whole.

Here is one discussion I had about the Muhammad cartoon question:

Originally posted by me
I agree that the cartoons themselves weren't published "for free speech". Nevertheless, if we believe in free speech at all, don't we have to accept that we have to allow such things to happen even though we disagree? If we did that, then we could condemn the newspaper for printing such an offensive image and the world would agree with us. As it is they just think we are trying to oppress their traditions and trying to stop them permitting free speech.The fact is human nature is such that people will do things which we disagree with. Shouldn't the response to that be to reason and educate rather than shut them down?

Response by long-term poster
Good post.

Personally, I'm neutral on the cartoons - I don't think they were intended to offend originally (even the bomb one, when I first saw it, I took to be a reference to how Islam was being misused by some).But the disproportionate reaction has made the Arab governments look foolish - where is the boycott now that Germany and France need to be included? - and hypocritical.

It has also given endless ammunition to the those who would demonise Muslims. The responses threatening murder will be used to show that Muslims can't live in a civilised way, and there is now the opportunity to endlessly reproduce these cartoons and far worse ones. Explaining WHY Muslims found this offensive would have been far better.

I completely agree and agreed with this. One of the most common arguments raised, as well as the one I have most trouble with and which has certainly most perplexed a number of the more rational Muslims, however, is the question of why incitement to hatred on the basis of race is illegal and yet Muslims have no protection for things which are at least as important to them as their race. They point out that we do not actually support free speech unless it involves a physical impact on someone else - why do so many European countries have laws against holocaust denial (remember Mr Irving being detained so recently in Austria). Why is it that we rate the offence they are caused by caricatures of Muhammed so much lower than that caused by merely questioning the extent of Jewish persecution in the past?

I have to accept they have a point. If we do accept the right to free speech includes the right to offend, then we have to accept people will use their free speech to offend on the grounds of race. We have to accept that making offensive comments about race in such a way as to demean that race in the eyes of others - what would be incitement to race hate at the moment - is of the same moral equivalence as breaking religion's taboos in such a way as to demean that religion in others' eyes. It is the very persuasive arguments in favour of such equivalence, and the difficulty of responding to them, which have convinced me we should remove the confusing concept of hatred from our laws. It is becoming imperative that we take a real stand for freedom of speech to prevent further incremental incursions being made until we have no such thing as freedom - merely permission to make authorised comments. For, if we don't, the prospect of our freedom being progressively restricted on the basis that we don't have real free speech anyway is all too real. It is only from the civic sphere, and as a result of interactions within communities and between individuals, that the pressures upon what we choose to say and not say should arise.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Taking the p*ss?

Surely MAPSU are just taking the p*ss?!

Proving Jyllands-Posten right

And so the Cartoon War really gathers steam with Danish embassies being burnt and, in London, hordes of young Muslims bearing posters demanding the "beheading" of those who do not respect the Prophet. Some even went as far as invoking imagery of a new 7/7 or 9/11 in retaliation.

I do think it might be instructive to retrace the precise origins of the whole matter. A children's author had written a book, for children, about Islam. The book itself was entirely inoffensive but despite wanting to add to its texture with drawings he could not find a single artist who would represent Muhammad. Why? Not because of deeply-held religious objections (which would exist amongst a number of Muslim artists...more on the exceptions to this later in the week) but because potential artists were scared of threatened attacks. The author complained, publicly, in an attempt to show the hostility of key strains of Islam. Jyllands-Posten, in publicising this story, made a request for any images from its readers which yielded the original twelve cartoons which it later reproduced.

This has lead to the issuing of death threats, the request for terrorist attacks on Denmark, and, later the rest of the Western and non-Islamic world, a boycott of all goods Danish or Scandinavian, the closing of embassies across the Arab world and, most recently of course, the torching of the Danish embassy in Beirut. All these events have shown one thing for sure. The Danish cartoonist was right. There is some truth and some value in the depictions as a way of demonstrating just what the dangers of fringe strands of Islam really are. Thank God our free media gives us the chance to question this.

I have previously questioned whether I, personally, would have published these cartoons in a newspaper over which I had editorial control. I do believe we ought to choose to show respect, on the whole, for people's religious beliefs. Nevertheless, democracy, encompassing a commitment to free speech is one of the central underpinnings of the modern Western world and should be given the utmost of respect by law.

Many of those leading the criticism of Denmark and the free press say this is not about freedom of expression. They then go on to explain how it is actually about respect for their god and Prophet, and how nobody should have the right to disrespect him. I'm sorry, but hearing what you don't want to hear is just what free speech is all about and is therefore a concept the more regressive parts of political Islam cannot conceive of.

Muslims are free in the Western world to refrain from caricaturing their Prophet. Muslims are free in the Western world to go about pursuing their religion and praising Allah as they must. Muslims are free in the Western World to avoid paying for - let alone reading or watching - any media which does caricature their Prophet. What they cannot do is impose the stringencies of the religion they have chosen and in which they believe upon those of us who do not choose it and do not believe in it. Even more, they do not, should not and, to the best of my abilities will not, have the right to dictate what I can and cannot say about their religious beliefs, just as they can say what they like about how I will burn in eternal damnation.

On that note, at least, the only comfort is that even on their reading I won't have to spend eternity burning with any of this lot.

UPDATE: Came across this article and couldn't resist this paragraph

"The problem is that the perpetrators of aggression, suffering from a pathological inferiority complex about the weakness of Islamic culture and firmly believing the lies and libels with which they have been indoctrinated about Jews and the west, invert their own aggression as an attack upon Islam by their victims."

Friday, February 03, 2006

Does exactly what it says on the tin

Blogroll update

Time to update my blogroll with a few new faces.

I've already trailed the return of Quaequam and the arrival of Richard Huzzey (just before he got big as the online proponent of the Huhne campaign). A third LibDem who's worth a read is Martin Tod, former Cambridge Union President, although he does get very "LibDem technical" at times!

From the blue corner, Tory Convert is a thought-provoking read and Iain Dale, who I should have added during the General Election is almost always salacious. James Hellyer, when he updates, has interesting ideas.

For the Government there's not a lot out there right now, but I ought to return Tom Watson MP to the roll now he's back as good as ever (although there could be a promotion coming after Hilary Armstrong's nightmare).

Speaking of Hilary Armstrong's vote from hell, it is quite easy to be tough on her when perhaps we ought to be congratulating a very sharp opposition whipping strategy. With Oaten turning out and the Government being drawn into a false sense of security you have to say well done to the Opposition Whip's Office. Well done!

Disgraceful political games

If I believed for a second that Jack Straw cared about either free speech or the characterisation of Muhammad then I wouldn't mind this outburst quite so much. Sadly, as it is, after his trials and tribulations during the last general election I can't help but feel it is just a cynical ploy to shore up the sizeable Muslim vote in his constituency.

What's more, in "condemning the decision by some European newspapers to reproduce cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad as "disrespectful"" he is throwing his weight into an argument he should ignore. Just as it is not the responsibility of Government - or rather it shouldn't be in a non-Islamic system of Government - to regulate the press, it should not be up to the likes of Peter Mandelson and Jack Straw to dictate what they should or shouldn't do. They are entitled to their opinion, but we may hold them to account for it. What is disappointing is that there was no real criticism of the extreme and unnecessary response across the Muslim world.

I have some concerns over the sagacity of reprinting these images myself, but I am more than acutely aware that the sort of attitude which thinks it can gag such free expression must be taken on and faced down. My greatest worry is that the rumblings of Mandelson and Straw, for short-term personal ends, are just to avoid a confrontation between our principles of liberty and democracy and those of militant Islam. In so doing we risk permitting an unacceptable ideology to grow even stronger, thereby delaying an inevitable confrontation to a time where we are less likely to win.

UPDATE: In the meantime, you can continue irritating this lot, but buying this lot, and at the same time showing you stand fully behind free speech, in its true meaning.

UPDATED UPDATE: More eloquent words than mine from Militant Moderate.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

To EPP or not EPP

So Nicholas Sarkozy told Cameron he was weak for "giving in" to those on the right of his party who want the Tories out of the EPP. While I have some sympathy with Sarko's view that the party should remain allied to the EPP (European People's Party group in the European Parliament) - it's never been a member, only allied to it through the ED - he has chosen the worst argument he could to attack the decision.

For Cameron currently does not appear weak and is not conceived of as weak by his party or the public. In fact, the current theme is that he is willing to be ruthless to achieve that which is important to him, namely, the rehabilitation of the Tory Party: see the squeals accompanying the "A-list" and his pronouncements on the NHS and grammar schools. So I don't think Cameron will lose too much sleep over Sarko's protestations. In fact he may even welcome them, because standing up to French name-calling is probably the one thing, short of sending a task force to the Falkland Islands, that he can do to demonstrate to "the right" that he is the exact opposite of the spineless lefty some suspect he may be. In the same way that Tebbit and Heffer moaning help to highlight the desire to modernise and embrace the common ground close, Sarko moaning about weakness will make him seem stronger and more resilient when he stands up to such desperate protestations. Please, mon ami Sarko, stick to the arguments rather than name-calling.

The other interesting thing to come out of the article in the Guardian is Roger Knapman's criticism of Cameron's move. This just serves as yet further evidence that it's a good idea. If you read his comments carefully, he really does sound like a man rattled and threatened by the move. But, of course, that is Cameron's aim. Shut out UKIP as a potential voice for the right by undermining them on Europe.

"While I don't want Britain to be in the EU - and believe that one day we won't - if the Conservatives were to form the next government they would probably serve the national interest better by being part of the family of European governments rather than being on the fringes."

Sorry, Signor Knapman, but haven't you criticised them before in elections for not being able to properly critique the EU when their noses were in the same federalist trough?

And can you make sense of this?

"In the European parliament we have a completely mixed picture in terms of political culture - to the extent that one culture would often be very embarrassed by another. That does not matter to us very much."

So the cultures aren't embarrassed by each other in fact? Or are you just spouting froth with this because your scared the irrelevant parties you've used for your own ends may now be used by the Tories to get influence?

"Our role has been to link arms with other campaigning groups simply to oppose the constitution. We draw a line at the racist right, so we reject Vlams Blok, the Front National, Haider's Freedom party. But after that we are very happy to link arms with a Polish party that is more Catholic than the Pope, a Dutch Calvinist party which certainly disapproves of some of my social habits and a Danish movement led by the country's former Communist party leader."

And the problem with Cameron taking the same stance is what exactly?

One valid concern with the policy is this:
In my opinion, the Parliament should exist to set the direction of EU policy as it concerns the EU. To that end we are better served working alongside other centre-right parties, no matter what their views on the structure or ambit of the EU, in order to achieve our policy goals by shaping the behaviour of the institutions. In this being allied with some of the nutjobs I understand Hague has been talking to would be sure to be a hindrance. When it comes to structural questions or those regarding the scope of the EU and its responsibilities themselves, however, these should be dealt with by member states. The Parliament, and MEPs, should be irrelevant at this stage - as will thus be the case regarding any grouping in the Parliament itself. Sadly this sensible model does not currently match the situation on the ground. The challenge is what to do in the interim, and it could be Plan Cameron/Hague is the least worst solution to gaining domestic power, and preventing further drift in Brussels.

On one thing, however, Mr Knapman is certainly correct.
"However we are not a potential party of government"

Indeed. As such any UKIP vote is a wasted vote - or worse one which tightens a federalist grip on power in the UK.


Although in awe of the power of the interwebnet thingy I am always slightly suspicious of talk to promote e-democracy. As Guido says, it's just not the same as the real thing.

Having recently stumbled across Hear from your MP I'm less cynical though. You sign up with your postcode and email address and as soon as a proportionate figure (for my constituency 25) of your fellow voters have signed up the site is triggered. Your MP gets an email encouraging them to contact their constituents through the list and I suppose the idea is that the list will grow and you will slowly build a component of the "e-democracy". In fact, the reason why it might just work is because it supplements and facilitates the real thing - rather than trying to replace it.

So, if you live in West Worcestershire and your MP is Sir Michael Spicer, or if you live in the Cities of London and Westminster and your MP is Mark Field go sign up!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The culture wars commence

"The Boycott Jihad is on"

So, the culture war commences. The Muslim Public Affairs Committee of the UK has weighed into the Danish cartoon "war" with some pretty chilling posturing for anyone concerned with integration within our society. Somewhat ironically it is through capitalism that this battle finds its first ground; but so be it. If you are opposed to a Sharia hegemony in Britain's laws and the way Western democracy is governed here is what you must not do: MPACUK

Visit this website and do the opposite. Show your support by emailing the paper ( or the Danish embassy (

Then there's the handy list of products (which is far too long to list here!) that we should buy to show our support for free speech, our opposition to a hegemony founded upon the dogma of Islam. If possible, when you can, buy the items on the list to help reduce any impact of islamofascist pressure. Law should define behaviour not morals.

"Don't complain, Mohammed, we've all been caricatured here"

The news of solidarity across Europe with Danish newspapers and their government is most heartening. Perhaps we're not so decadent and incapable of enunciating and defending what we stand for after all. We can but hope, but things like this are certainly encouraging...and dare I say it, they make me feel more European.

Free speech & the rule of law

Pub Philosopher reports on the impending result in the Griffin prosecution. Whilst I fully agree with him that the law should not be the law, I cannot hope that the unpleasant Griffin escapes conviction. It is quite ridiculous that you can be locked up for merely talking about things in a way which could incite emotion in another, even if this would have no impact on their actions at all. Nonetheless, if we do not have democratic rule of law we begin to walk down a very dangerous path. If he did the crime, he must do the time.

"Trust people," says Cameron

This blog has long said the Conservative Party should take as its theme the principle of "trusting people". It has always argued that the single, basic reason it is closer to the Tories than to Labour is precisely because it is Conservative to trust people, but socialist or social democrat to trust "the people" and think it embodies the will of "the people" itself.

Back as long ago as May, I wrote of the leadership contest:
"My vote, if I have one, is up for grabs. The problem is neither Davis nor Cameron seems to enunciate that we don't have to choose between being proud of Tory values and communicating to the public that we're in touch with Britain. With the right leader we ought to be able to do both. Believing in a small state which trusts individuals and families to take responsibility for society is not and need not be incompatible with showing we're not crooked second-hand car dealers. My leadership dilemma is deciding which candidate is best-placed to do both. My big concern, from what I've seen so far, is that neither will come close."

I reminded myself and readers of this in November, when finally weighing up who to support between Cameron or Davis, and concluded Cameron should win as he came closest to matching this "golden paragraph" above.

Now it seems Cameron, must have taken on board this advice. I am delighted with last night's speech to Demos:

"Some have argued that our first principle, trusting people, contradicts our second, sharing responsibility. They argue that trusting people should mean giving responsibility solely to individuals, rather than trying to share responsibility between individuals, society and the state.

But that argument, pressed to its conclusion, leads to anarchy.

Some, from the left, have argued that trusting people and sharing responsibility means leaving people to look after themselves.They seem to deny the huge role that businesses, social enterprises, voluntary organisations, individuals and families can play in building a stronger society.Gordon Brown has set his face against sharing responsibility by arguing in response to our vision that "only the state can guarantee fairness."

That argument - denying shared responsibility - pressed to its conclusion, leads to monolithic state provision of public services.

A further, more sophisticated critique has focused on the need for us to be clearer about how we intend to share responsibility, with whom, and for what. It argues that the principle of shared responsibility on its own doesn't tell you very much. Let me answer each of these criticisms in turn.The first two need not detain us for very long.Plainly we aren't in favour of anarchy. And we aren't in favour of monolithic state provision.

We are in favour of striking a balance. And this is our response to the third criticism. The purpose of the policy review process we have established is precisely to establish clear borders of responsibility, by working out……what is best done by the state, what is best done by civil society and what is best done by the individual.

But, in seeking that balance, we start with an instinctive desire to put more trust in civil society and in the individual, rather than in the bureaucratic apparatus of the state.

This Conservative instinct to trust people has found many forms over the years.Council house sales; employee share ownership; facilitating choice in public services; local management of schools.It doesn't mean we are limited in our aspirations for government.But we do start with this instinctive desire to trust people because we recognise the inherent limitations of government."

Well said, old chap. You'd almost think one of his new speechwriters knew me...