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Thursday, 6 March 2008

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone

Today as the dawn broke over a land no longer my own, Parliament having surrendered our sovereignty to foreign powers, I felt unutterably miserable. Something unique that we made here in Britain, that was formed in the forge of our nationhood, tempered with the blood of our ancestors, something we felt worth fighting for for a thousand years, has been signed away by a treasonous cabal of weak and foolish men. This plunging sense of loss for something not just loved but at the very foundation of being cannot be remedied, nor will time heal a wound so grevious.

I curse the memory of every MP who was complicit in this treason.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Comrade Margaret Hoxha denounces reactionary music

In a four-hour speech to the League of Socialist Youth yesterday, Comrade Margaret Hoxha denounced the enjoyment of reactionary and anti-socialist music by unreconstructed kulaks and their running-dog lackeys. Comrade Hoxha exorted the citizens of the Socialist Republic of Kensington and Chelsea to purge the bourgeois imperialist fifth column and restore Comrade Henry Wood's 'People's Concerts' to the purity of socialist cultural orthodoxy.

The Young Pioneers of the Islington Anti-gastropub Collective then gave an impromptu concert of polyphonic ring tones in praise of the Great Leader. A collection for Party Funds was taken.

Lee Jasper goes with a whimper

Lee Jasper's resignation yesterday afternoon, on the eve of his grilling by GLA members, was ostensibly due to the exposure by the Standard of some puerile, illiterate and smutty emails sent by Jasper to a grants recipient.

In terms of the size of the Mayor's £11bn budget, the diversion of a few millions to favoured black groups and individuals in return for nothing in particular doesn't seem a big deal; indeed, this is Livingstone's position. Just as Blair was genuinely surprised that anyone should see anything wrong in selling peerages for party funds, Livingstone seems perplexed that he should be criticised for what he possibly regards as the legitimate pork-barrel perks of a large city mayor.

As Mary Reilly and Manny Lewis of the LDA face questions from GLA members this morning (and we can all watch a live webcast) it is hard to see how they can dismiss the enquiry as being motivated by racism, as Jasper continued to do even in his resignation note (which was surprisingly grammatically correct) .

Unless some London taxpayer makes a complaint to the Met of criminal behaviour by Jasper - perhaps for Misconduct in Public Office, it seems he will disappear into obscurity with a whimper, proving he was never anything more than Livingstone's creation and 'gofer'. No doubt the LDA officials will now be expected to carry the can for not having resisted Jasper's aggressive importuning.

Monday, 3 March 2008

From drink to casinos, the answer is local

There are few elements of national infrastructure that warrant direct central government determination; defence installations are one, strategic international travel infrastructure is perhaps another.

As to casinos, what business is it of government to determine their number and location? If the people of Blackpool, for instance, believe their future lies in becoming the UK's Las Vegas, and can persuade investors to put their money in, why shouldn't this be a local decision?

Ownership of second homes is to be made subject to planning consent, but though the decision will be taken locally the criteria and the 'tests' will be determined by government, and will doubtless incorporate some inane socialist social engineering objectives. Why not enable local communities to make their own planning rules?

As for 24 hour drinking, what arrogance of government to believe that a central Statist fit-all prescription was ever appropriate. What suits Newcastle may not suit Chichester; what works in a non-residential entertainment cluster may not work in a quiet village. If anything demands a locally determined framework, it is alcohol licencing. For many years the people of some Welsh villages didn't want the pubs open on a Sunday. If that's their wish, why should government ride roughshod over the wishes of local people?

If the smoking ban had been left to local solutions, we would have seen a whole raft of measures tailored to the needs and wishes of local communities. Some licencing areas may have exempted clubs, some may have imposed an outright ban, some may have made conditions requiring parts of the building being made smoke-free, some would have allowed owners and operators to make their own decisions.

All of the above demonstrate the fundamental wrongness of Labour's belief that central Statist prescriptive solutions can tackle every social issue. Our grandfathers would have found the idea that Big State considerations in parliament would include national controls on littering or dog fouling quite ludicrous.

I'm lucky enough to have a window cleaner, whose ladder I can hear as I type. How long, I wonder, before the government produces research demonstrating a link between dirty windows and anti-social behaviour or obesity or whatever, and legislates to require the population to polish their glazing or face spot fines? Not too ridiculous for words, I fear.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

David Cameron gets it

I make no apology for not avoiding a similar post-heading to Guido's; Cameron's speech in Wales is possibly the clearest indication yet that not a gulf but a whole silver sea is now opening up between Brown's bankrupt Statism and the possibility of a real democratic recovery in Britain with the Conservatives. Recent posts below, 'Redwood gets it' and 'Even Heffer gets it', were the latest in a growing number of observations that the Tories are starting to recall their pre-1979 roots.

Cameron's speech is well worth reading in full, HERE. He outlines the problem:
Public faith in our political institutions is draining away.

According to MORI, the proportion of people trusting politicians to put the needs of the country before the needs of party halved between 1974 and 1999.

Trust in Parliament fell from 54 per cent in 1983 to 14 per cent in 2000.

Since then it's got even worse.

Our Parliament is scorned.

Our parties are shrinking.

Our membership is ageing.

It's getting harder to find candidates willing to stand in council elections.

As far as the public is concerned, politicians are all the same.

Not because they all say the same thing, but because they all do the same thing.

Let's be clear what they think of us: "you lie and you spin, you fiddle your expenses and you break your promises."

To describe this disengagement and cynicism as a 'mood' is to underestimate both the depth and the intensity of the breakdown in relations between the government and the governed.
And outlines the solution:
Everything we do will be different.

Instead of remote control by a central state, schools, hospitals, police forces and councils will be free to set their own priorities, in consultation with the communities they serve.

This isn't so much an ideological shift as a recognition that the culture which justified the old way of running things has changed.

In our private lives and in business we are living in the post-bureaucratic age but the government hasn't caught up.

It's no longer true that the state has all the information and all the capability.

Technology has done the most amazing thing: it has put the facts, and the power to use them, at the disposal of everyone.

People don't have to accept a top-down offer anymore: they can drive their own choices.

I want to see us move from an age of bureaucratic control to an age of individual choice, local control and democratic accountability.

That's the real difference between us and Labour.

They believe in the State. We believe in society.
And that, in a nutshell, was where Ralph Harris saw the Conservatives starting from in 1979. It didn't work out that way, then; faced with powerful and rich unions, and town halls run by Dave Sparts, Thatcher had no choice but to massively increase central control, not just in government but in the party itself. The Conservative party's loss of over a million members between 1979 and 1997 was mute testament to the 'atomisation', in Cameron's words, that was the direct consequence of this.

As Brown also launched his next Five Year Plan to a half-empty hall unappreciative of his exhortations to class war and the joyless New Labour Soviet, even the choreographed spin couldn't disguise whose was empty rhetoric and whose was a real promise of change.