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Saturday, 6 June 2009

Caeucescu moment for Brown at Arromanches

Normandy veterans were distinctly unimpressed when Gordon Brown rose to say a few words at their Arromanches commemoration this afternoon. Sarah Brown looked stunned as a huge swell of booing filled the square. Brown carried on regardless, perhaps used to this reaction by now. The French President looked bemused.

Having made their point, the veterans swiftly returned to their good-natured selves and even allowed Gordon to shake a few of their hands afterwards for the cameras.

Still, this will be Gordon's last visit to Normandy.

Friday, 5 June 2009

The witches of Westminster

What can one say?

The cabinet are behind you, Gordon

Oh God! - Champagne tonight! I haven't felt so good since, er, my Guernsey calved.

Three down, one to go

I can't say I have any regrets at the resignations of three of the most corrupt ministers in Brown's Cabinet. Unless Hoon also decides to resign 'for the good of the party' ahem Brown must sack him.

And then ask the Queen for a dissolution of Parliament.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Brown may go on, but Labour is finished

The next seven days will decide the fate of Gordon Brown, and despite the confident predictions of his imminent political demise I'm not so sure. Brown is as ruthless and cunning as an old dog fox; he's had plenty of practice surviving, even if he's no longer sure what for. His political obituary has already been written, and whether he goes next week or next year won't change the substance of it.

The Guardian was half-right yesterday when it solemnly intoned "The truth is that there is no vision from him, no plan, no argument for the future and no support. The public see it. His party sees it.", but it is not only Brown that this applies to, but the Labour Party itself.

For recent years, Labour has coasted along on an arrogant assumption that they have a monopoly of social concern, that they alone can redistribute our aggregate wealth to the benefit of those who have less than the average. They have also tried to apply this to education, skills, ability, talent and health, oblivious to the reality that unlike income the determinants of ability and merit and personal responsibility cannot be taxed and redistributed. Their failure is manifest.

Above all, Labour just can't abandon the very rock on which the party is built - collectivism on a national scale - at a time when the zeitgeist, like a vast supertanker, is turning away from this course. Trying to fit an awkward sort of centrally-controlled communitarianism into a socialist framework only exposes the bankruptcy of their ideology. For as long as they don't trust people to make the best decisions about their own lives and about their communities - and they never will - they have nothing more to offer. The Labour State still decides in Whitehall that your playground needs a new swing; asking you what colour you'd like is not local democracy.

I have before me a seminal little book entitled 'Renewal - Labour's Britain in the 1980s'. Edited by Gerald Kaufman, it is a collection of pieces by the Labour Shadow Cabinet intended to redefine the party in the face of Thatcherism. Albert Booth, Don Concannon, Brynmor John, Bruce Millan, Stanley Orme, Merlyn Rees, Peter Shore, Eric Varley, John Silkin .... and the rest. It is a confection of central State control; 'radical' reorganisation of State structures, a greater role for the central State in every aspect of our lives. Overblown with pomposity, it declares for example;
We aim to free working people from the economic chains of unemployment, inequality, deprivation and indignity with which the capitalist system binds them. We intend to scrap the anachronism of industrial feudalism that still disfigures Britain. By taking democracy inside the factory gates and through the office doors, we shall establish the basis for social justice.
In the end it was none of this fine socialist rhetoric that returned Labour to power in 1997; it was Tony Blair, with his coprophage grin and young children, who put personality before ideology. Absent Blair, you could feel Labour retreating to the comfort zone of their bankrupt ideology. Comrades will read John Smith today with tears of fond nostalgia in their eyes. Gordon Brown finds himself very much at home in the pages of 'Renewal' - indeed, I'm half-convinced he based his last conference speech on it. There's something very 1980s about Gordon.

Whether 2009 will be the blow for Labour that 1922 was for the Liberals remains to be seen. Or maybe Labour will go out not with a bang but with a prolonged whinge. But across the nation electors are asking themselves 'what are Labour for?' and not finding an answer.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Constitutional reform and the corruption of power

My attention was drawn by Nick Drew in a comment on a post below to a new book 'Soft Despotism' by Paul Rahe, reviewed by Mark Steyn. Tocqueville's intermediate institutions and Burke's small platoons as the fundamental strengths of society, undermined by central Statism. Yes, of course.

Tocqueville, Burke and Hayek are all worth re-reading at a time when the discussion is around constitutional change, but who else?

Can you name the writer who gave us "Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."? Or "And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that. All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely"? Or even "The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern: every class is unfit to govern."? Yes, Lord Acton of course.

And on constitutional reform, in turn quoting Mackintosh, Acton wrote:
Constitutions are not made, but grow ..... custom and the national qualities of the governed, and not the will of the government, are the makers of the law, and therefore that the nation, which is the source of its own organic institutions should be charged with the perpetual custody of their integrity
In other words, our unwritten constitution is the amalgam of a complex series of horizontal relationships, of local institutions, that interact with the horizontal relationships below them and above them; a web of networks within which all the necessary functions of State and government slot. Coroners, Lords Lieutenant, Magistrates, Property Tax Valuers, Bishops, Port Health Authorities, Aldermen and Burgesses, Parish Councillors, Police Commissioners. And so on up the tiers until one reaches the Crown. And our nationally elected MPs, nationally appointed Circuit and High Court judges. All bound in a series of customary relationships. And many more.

The modern central State and a morally corrupt civil service have tried hard to untangle this web, and replace it with a series of legalistic vertical relationships with all the strings converging in the hands of government. Their dream is the malign nonsense of that black rogue Rousseau; a direct relationship between every individual and the State, with the destruction of all intermediate institutions.

Acton was of the view that only either a republic or a constitutional monarchy offered the prospect of liberty - all else was despotism. And liberty, he said, "is not the power of doing what we like, but the right to do what we ought".

Conservative sociologist Robert Nisbet echoed Tocqueville in the value he accorded local intermediate institutions. Absent those institutions, "loose individuals" became more and more dependent on politicians and bureaucrats for their survival. It goes without saying that such "individualism" was part of the problem and not the key to restoring liberty. Liberty is not Anarchy. Freedom at its core is freedom to follow our conscience; Lord Action wrote "all freedom consists in radice in the preservation of an inner sphere exempt from State power". Intermediate institutions - Burke's 'little platoons' - give meaning and structure to our lives and our liberties, and when Statist governments try to remove or disempower them, they rob us all of something infinitely precious. Burke wrote;
To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed toward a love to our country and to mankind. The interest of that portion of social arrangement is a trust in the hands of all those who compose it; and as none but bad men would justify it in abuse, none but traitors would barter it away for their own personal advantage.
And those words should echo in our minds whenever a central Statist such as Brown offers to draft a written constitution, for this is an invitation to sign away our liberty, to pawn our freedoms and surrender our rights - even to that inner sphere of Lord Acton's - for a central State would seek to usurp even our right to conscience.

A damning indictment of the political class

As a boy one lesson drummed in from earliest times was that of responsibility - you always looked to the welfare of your men and your animals before your own comfort. Along with 'never point a gun at anyone you don't intend to kill' and 'if there's hard work to be done everyone pulls together'. No doubt these simple lessons in moral responsibility would be derided by Gordon Brown as 'gentlemanly' virtues that have no place in Labour's 'Me First' culture.

It's this socialistic culture of selfishness, and Brown's dismissal of any place for altruism, any place for the social responsibility of those in fortunate or leadership positions for those less fortunate or those placed under them, that is corrosive of the probity expected of our Parliamentarians.

Labour's all-women shortlists and the like are demonstrative of their 'Me' culture. It effectively confirms that the personal interests of Labour's favoured candidates ranks higher than the welfare of their constituents; that selection is about getting, not giving. I want the best amongst us to represent us in Parliament, and I couldn't give a stuff what sex or colour they are. Labour are happy to take second or third best if it benefits the 'right' candidate. Labour believe Parliament is about the well-being of MPs; I believe it's about the well-being of an MP's constituents.

And not just Labour. The whole political class are soiled with the 'Me' culture. Gordon needn't worry about the Commons being a 'gentleman's club' - it hasn't been that for some while. And in the past many Labour MPs displayed the virtues of gentlemen as well as Tories, proving that strength of character, not accident of birth, determines worth. Brown's 'Me First' Labour party naturally favours accidents of birth in its selection lists, as anti-democratic as any Tory grandee declaring that a man should have four quarterings on his escutcheon before he became a PPC.

So what do the public think of this soiled 'Me First' political class? Well, they're wise to it. The wisdom of crowds. The following is perhaps the most interesting of the BBC's poll results;

Our Parliament a worthless heap of dross? Yes, in the public's eyes. What a damning indictment. Any MP should today hang his or her head in shame that they have made this come to pass. Yes, made, not allowed.

It's time you all threw-out Brown's 'Me First' selfish culture. And perhaps try to re-learn some of the virtues of gentlemen.

Time to prepare a criminal case against Brown

Gordon Brown has never had a democratic mandate from the British people. He remains in office on sufferance, for as long as the will of the electorate will stretch. That remit is ended. An unassailable majority of electors no longer regard his holding of Prime Ministerial office as legitimate, yet he refuses us a general election. He is, in effect, a squatter in Downing Street.

Every day he remains in power, our economy and nation suffer. The absurd VAT reduction. The lunatic borrowing and spending. The utter mismanagement of the nation's assets. For as long as he refuses an election, the continuation of such policies in the face of public opposition by a minister lacking democratic legitimacy constitutes in the broadest sense malfeasance in public office.

There is no doubt that Brown will go down in history as the UK's worst ever Prime Minister. The obloquy of history will follow him to the grave. It will not be enough merely to deny him the peerage usual for ex-PMs; I believe he should answer for the damage he has caused in the dock.

Prying Brown's fingers from the door jamb of Number Ten will require some shrewd blows. Let him also be aware that the British people will pursue him into the courts, and that every day this illegitimate unsanctioned vote-dodging squatter clings unreasonably to power will make his offence the worse.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Throttling the Country

Just another graphic

Just another play with photoshop on the same theme as the post below. Please feel free to use any of my graphics - that's what they're there for.


I am very happy being European. Our continent is the cradle of all modern civilisation, and I can travel from Vienna to Dublin and see how European thought and philosophy have shaped our built environment. Blind superstition and Enlightenment, Renaissance and humanism all frozen in stone and brick and tile and render, bronze and marble, timber and plaster. One can read a thousand years of the economic history of a town from its architecture. The pompous buildings of the EU and its institutions never fail to raise a bitter chuckle; so much glass, and so little transparency.

Europe is defined by its culture, not by an inhuman bureaucracy that seeks to achieve by Directive what Hitler failed to achieve by armed force. I don't want to be part of a Greater European State. That's why I'm lending my Conservative vote to UKIP this Thursday.

Brown refuses again to put country before party

Gordon Brown's TV performance yesterday, whether assisted by medication or not, was the same old same old Brown; passionless, flat and as inspiring as the contents of a Soviet supermarket. There is seemingly nothing that will compel him to put the interests of the country ahead of the desperate clinging to power of a dying Labour party.

And at a time when big-bang localism is starting to seize the national imagination, Brown can offer only the same old centrist State institutions as an answer. Even his language is taking on the jargon of the politburo hack; he doesn't seem to realise it, but we already have a 'National Democratic Council'. It's called Parliament. And it's failed. It's rotten. What we need is an election.