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Saturday, 29 August 2009

So why can't we?

Richard North posts the Excellent Defence of the Realm Blog that our fast jet ground attack aircraft are fast wearing out and that RAF-types are looking for old fashioned piston 'n propeller alternatives such as the Hawker Beechcraft and Brazilian Tucano for this ground attack role.

BAe of course sold Hawker to Raytheon some time ago, but anyone with childhood Airfix experience will recognise the Hawker pedigree; the Typhoon was one of the last war's finest ground attack aircraft.

Is is so far beyond our national capabilities to develop and produce a modern piston 'n propeller ground attack aircraft? Perhaps with a Rolls-Royce engine even? If Bob Jobsworth offered a £1m design prize with the condition that the aircraft went into production within two years and with costs within a pre-set envelope could British industry rise to the challenge? Why can't we?

Baron Trougher of Gorbals

For the shameful and opprobrious act it is, Gordon Brown has hidden the elevation of the worst Speaker in the history of the United Kingdom's Parliament at the arse-end of a bank holiday week in high Summer. Such a shameful act is perhaps more suited to be clothed by the obscurity of a moonless night, but there it is; Baron Trougher of Gorbals now joins a House that was once both decent and honourable.

No doubt the loathsome political class will now launch a revisionist review of their chief figurehead, the man who epitomised the corruption of Parliament by this corrosive cabal; "Martin's been judged too harshly" they will opine, "actually, he wasn't that bad a Speaker".

Oh yes he was. He connived at the destruction of Parliament's authority, and that means our authority, over the executive; he cringed and fawned for political favour like a Labrador bitch caught eating a chocolate cake, and his offensive stupidity in the Chair betrayed the dignity and honour of the Commons. He remains an abject and vile creature, unworthy of honour or dignity.

Well done Gordon; again you've demonstrated what an enemy to the interests of the people of this nation you are.

Friday, 28 August 2009

No need for Labour hand-wringing over Barnet

Barnet council's self-proclaimed adoption of Easyjet's business model is causing some left-wing hand wringing. There's no need of course; even Labour councils have been applying this business model for years.

Paying extra for faster planning decisions, or paying less Council tax for using a smaller bin, are no different than choosing to a pay a higher charge in a council car park close to the city centre rather than using a cheaper car park further away. Or would Barnet's Labour critics argue that homogenous car park charges 'promote a more equitable society and open up opportunity more widely'? If so, they need to look to the many Labour councils that cream it in from expensive parking charges in prime locations. Barnet is just taking the principle a stage further. And why not?

And even the nationalised railways had First Class travel for sale - much loved by any Labour politician with an expense account - and I've never heard a single one of Labour's troughers ever contend that abolishing First Class would 'promote a more equitable society and open up opportunity more widely'.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Aldershot for sale - Swedish School, anyone?

It may have passed you by, but Defence Estates are selling Aldershot. The place has been synonymous with the British Army for at least a century, but now it's up for sale. Or rather, the army bits are. See HERE for details.

I was looking for a site on which a parents' co-operative could found a Gove School on the Swedish model, offering iGCSEs to an academic intake selected solely on academic merit by an entrance exam. The day-school would need room for a couple of rugby pitches and a cricket table, of course, and be within day-commuting distance for its pupils. It would have be to be near tube or rail links and in a safe and attractive location.

An ex-MoD place seemed an ideal starting point, but there's nothing available in London at the moment. Local government sites would be an alternative, but the best of these were all sold off during the housing boom. I was beginning to imagine that the idea of Gove Schools would founder on the most fundamental requirement - no sites available for them - when inspiration struck.

Big-bang Localism will free up millions of square feet of government buildings in London; government departments and quangos have spared no taxpayer's expense in providing themselves with fantastic buildings in prime locations, and many of these will make first class locations for a new Gove School.

And there you have it. Gove Schools in London will remain a Conservative fantasy unless Cameron is serious about Localism and about shrinking the State, and unless government departments and councils are forced to offer disposal sites first to groups of local parents and others who wish to found a new school.

Betfair for house prices

Those of you who have used Betfair will know it works by the users themselves betting both for and against events; 'backing' or 'laying' in the jargon. Betfair just holds the stakes and pays out when the results come.

The Economist reports that a housing derivative has been set up in the US that allows homeowners to hedge against house price movements; like Betfair, users bet on whether house prices will rise or fall. Optimists are matched to pessimists, and 'bets' are fully paid up front. Unlike Betfair, the 'betting slips' can be traded, giving the derivatives liquidity.

I'm not quite sure why I don't think this will work, I just don't think it will. Inventive, though.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The left must face up to their totalitarian blindness

I commend to you James Marson's piece in yesterday's Guardian entitled 'The left must face up to Stalin's evil'. Marson deconstructs the 'Stalin meant well' justification that many on the left still use (and which many of you identified in comments to a previous post).

Marson writes "President Viktor Yushchenko has expended much energy drawing attention to Soviet crimes in Ukraine, most notably the Holodomor, or "death by hunger" of 1932-3.... For decades a wall of silence surrounded the Holodomor – one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century, in which several million Ukrainian peasants died."

This wall of silence wasn't confined to nations behind the Iron Curtain. In two posts below, I demonstrate how Nye Bevan, the sainted hero of the left, praised Stalin's Russia in the Commons even after the facts of the Holodomor were known.

When Bevan was praising Stalin's Russia in April 1933 Gareth Jones, Lloyd-George's aide and a man of impeccable credentials, had already (in 1932) published a number of articles in nespapers including the Times following his visits to Russia describing the state of things; In October 1932, before Bevan's 'parasites' comments, he had also publicised the growing famine in two articles entitled 'Will there be Soup?'.

In March 1933, in the same month that Muggeridge had three unsigned pieces on the Holodomor published in the Manchester Guardian, Jones' famine stories broke world wide with convincing and unambiguous evidence of Stalin's brutality. Both of these were before Bevan stood up in the Commons to defend Russia in April 1933.

Whilst Stalin was starving millions of Ukrainians to death, and the whole world knew, Bevan described Russia as 'the one nation, which, despite all the difficulties, is still showing that it is possible to have a world order in which people can live with more security than we have here'.

Marson concludes his piece;
It is a bitter pill for some on the left to swallow that what Stalin did in the name of apparently laudable goals was horrific. Maybe some politicians are using the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and comparisons between Stalin and Hitler to smear the left and Russia. But to my mind, if the left, along with the Russian leadership, is still unwilling to face the horrors of Stalinism and the devastation it wrought across central and Eastern Europe, it is smearing itself.
Footnote: To read a prime example of one of the gulag-defenders that Marson refers to, see Jonathan Steele's piece in the Grauniad.

Legalising drugs won't eliminate criminals

Guido's influential call for drugs legalisation goes against all my instincts. You see, there will always be those amongst us whose desire for quick money overcomes both their moral scruples and their fear of risk. Right now they're dealing drugs. Does anyone seriously imagine that if drugs were legalised, this cohort would meekly march down to their nearest McDonalds to apply for burger-flipper jobs?

Of course not. The drug-dealing scum would just turn to alternative criminal activity. At best this might be burglary, mugging and robbery. Or the profits to be made from dealing illegal handguns (and would those who advocate legalising drugs also advocate legalising handguns on the same basis?). At worst, our welfare ghettoes may grow to resemble Brazilian favelas, where a 'hit' can be bought for $50 and human life becomes cheaper than beef.

Unless you remove this criminal cohort from society completely - and I've yet to meet a Libertarian who would advocate concentration camps for the underclass - then criminalised drugs may be our best defence against something far worse.

Joe Kennedy's pact with the devil

Some years ago a serious friend astonished me by suggesting that Joe Kennedy had made a pact with the devil over the futures of his sons. He made a fortune from questionable activities including bootlegging and crime-family links, and was appointed US Ambassador to London during the war before blotting his copybook. Paralysed by a stroke but fully mentally aware, he lived to see two of his sons assassinated and the third destroy his political career in the waters of the Chappaquidick. I asked what had gone wrong. My friend replied "Joe Kennedy thought he could outsmart the devil."

Make of that what you will, but today sees the end of one of America's most controversial political families. The obits will pick apart Ted Kennedy's life, and future historians insulated by the distance of time will judge the effect this extraordinary family really had on the world. For today let's let them grieve.

Climate Change Camp where?

Not about climate change, of course, but instead the spurious 'man made global warming', today an assortment of grungies and crusties will set up camp in one of our public spaces. The police are pretending not to know which one, but you can be pretty sure that they do.

My bet's on Lincoln's Inn Fields, or possibly Temple Gardens. If they pick Temple Gardens, they have the delightful prospect of being watched over (and filmed) from the many barristers' chambers around - including that of Mr Dominic Grieve QC, the Shadow Justice Secretary.

Anyway, possibly not the weekend to schedule a visit to the fantastic
Sir John Soanes' Museum.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

BNP due in court over 'indigenous' members

When I posted back on 23rd June about the threat to take the BNP to court over its whites-only membership policy many of you contributed erudite and illuminating comments on what, precisely, constituted 'indigenous' Britishness. One of my favourites was from Costello, quoting Sellar and Yeatman;

"The Scots (originally Irish, but by now Scotch) were at this time inhabiting Ireland, having driven the Irish (Picts) out of Scotland; while the Picts (originally Scots) were now Irish (living in brackets) and vice versa. It is essential to keep these distinctions clearly in mind (and vice versa)."

Now the writs have been issued and we will hear the fascinating legal arguments that m'learned friends will advance.

If, as has been suggested, a race defines itself by language, then the indigenous peoples of these islands, speaking Brythonic in England, lost their cultural identity (but not their genetic dominance) when Anglo-Saxon displaced Brythonic, emerging, with a dash of Latin and Norse French by the time of Chaucer, into English.

It's all nonsense, of course; what the BNP really mean is that if you've got a decent whack of Melanin in your outer wrapping, you can't play. Nothing to do with language, genetics or culture.

And anyway, if people want to form a private club (which is what a political party is) and debar women, or people with red hair, or green-eyed men, or short people, or dark people from membership why on earth should the State intervene? The extension of this to its absurd conclusion is the State regulating the choice of guests at my dinner-table, prescribing an amusing homosexual, a working-class black woman and a handicapped adult to sit at the board each time I host a meal.

I'd sooner join the Ugly Dunces Club than the BNP myself, but if they want to set this rather silly membership criterion, what moral right does the State have to intervene?

Monday, 24 August 2009

Don't heed the ex-mandarins' crocodile tears

From the late 1970s, from which time Jonathan Powell correctly identifies the collapse of cabinet government, the civil service has pursued a relentless agenda of central Statism, gathering power to Whitehall in an effort to effectively exercise all the levers of government control via ministerial diktat and statutory instrument. Not only has this process neutered local government, it has emasculated Parliament; Ann Widdecombe said in an interview with Total Politics that she entered Parliament as an MP and is leaving as an employee of the House of Commons.

So the crocodile tears shed by the mandarins who brought this about, reported today in the Guardian, should not be given too much credence. These are the very men who have destroyed Parliamentary democracy and local governance and who have cultivated a politicised and corrupt civil service. Their bleating shifts the blame onto Labour, but you can be sure this is only a tactic ahead of fears that Cameron will shrink the power of the central State and undo thirty years of their cynical centralisation.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Beckett claims taxpayer should pay for her to buy popularity

Margaret Beckett's extraordinary submission to Sir Christopher Kelly was revealed in the Times today. In it, Beckett reasons that politicians are alone in having to buy popularity with the voters, and that the taxpayers should keep their other expenses high to make up for it. Beckett says;
"There are costs, uniquely associated with political life, which others are unlikely ever to face, which are not and never will be met from public funds. Such expenditure continues to arise throughout political life, usually ... without being supported or reimbursed. Political campaigns, by-elections, public functions or conferences, prizes, sponsorships and donations incur costs, not just in hundreds but probably totalling thousands of pounds, from the MP’s own pocket"
Of course, all those party members who spend hours, days and weeks delivering leaflets and door-knocking for Beckett without pay, all those who make donations and contribute to prizes cheerfully from their own pockets, all those who pay their own travel and hotel costs to attend a party conference or a public function without thought of reimbursement or personal gain must now be asking if they've all been wasting their time.

This is the twisted and corrupt reasoning of the political class, so blinded by sleaze, avarice and self-entitlement that they've completely lost touch with the world around them. Damn them all to Hell.

Trougher Jones vs. Thrifty Dannatt

The mistake that sleazy and corrupt MPs commonly make is to assume that everyone is like themselves. It was a big mistake for Kevan 'trougher' Jones to make when he tried to nobble Gen Sir Richard Dannatt with a smear over the general's expenses; both the Mail and the News of the World come out in defence of the general today with examples of Jones' troughing and the general's thriftyness.

I'll also bet that the cost of catering at the Summer garden parties at the Palace comes out at about £2 a head; three cups of tea, a cucumber sandwich and a small rock bun.

What Labour's vulgar and conspicuous consumption culture can't get its head around is that value and thrift are built-in qualities amongst Britain's old establishment; Labour will plump for champagne and Mayfair catering whilst Dannatt will serve £1.49 a bottle Lidl white and home-made mushroom vol au vents.

What Dannatt and the Queen both realise is that the food and drink isn't the point; it's just what you fiddle with between conversations. The point of these things is meeting and networking. And that's something Bob Jobsworth and 'Trougher' Jones will never understand.