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Thursday, 5 November 2009

Where are the Statesmen?

There are few modern politicians to whom one would accord the dignity of Statesman. Thatcher was, Blair isn't and will never be. The idea of Brown as Statesman produces a risible snort even amongst Labour Party ranks. Cameron has done a fair job of fitting his foot in the glass slipper as a credible domestic PM but trails in the chorus on the international stage. In time, who knows, Cameron may grow into Statesmanship, but that time is not now.

His speech yesterday was about as good as he could make it but the glaring fatuities could not be disguised. The next time we face losing our virginity, he declared, we would not surrender it so lightly. In the real world, of course, once it's gone it's gone. The Constitution Treaty, like 'going all the way' is the end of the process, not an intermediate step. Secondly, he said, he would secure the co-operation of all 26 fellow Federal authorities to allow the UK a whole series of opt-outs. No doubt he will also demonstrate equal proficiency at herding feral cats.

The United Kingdom must now engage in a level of European diplomacy unseen since Versailles or Potsdam, and must do so with pygmies at the helm, with hardly a seasoned Statesman in sight. Pitt the Younger faced issues of similar scale, but Dave is no William Pitt. The only credible choice now facing the United Kingdom is In or Out; is Britain to be a European Satrapy, our laws, unique justice system, foreign and defence policy and economy to be subject to foreign diktat, or are we to remain as we have been for a thousand years a part of Europe, with indissoluble cultural bonds, a common Christian heritage, but with free trade and in open co-operation with our fellow Europeans?

And as for Cameron's plea that he hasn't got time to deal with correcting both Labour's pillage of the British economy and Europe during his first term, I rather think the next Prime Minister's agenda is a matter for the British people to decide, not Dave's vain and self-centred comfort zone; if Dave doesn't think he's up to it, he must stand aside now. For we must demand much of our next government - to deal with not only Europe and the economy but with whatever other crises may arise. We must be ruthless in our expectations; we will exhaust and discard spent politicians in the process, and like Alanbrooke throw another fresh division into the breach. We will demand of our Parliament self-sacrifice, unremitting toil and legendary tenacity; political reputations will perish on the altar, and the cleansing fires of the forge will bring forth a nation renewed.

Prepare for battle.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Power slips from Cameron's hands

This afternoon's announcement by Cameron on his revised approach to giving the British people a say on Europe could be the important of his political career. His voter base is people who want to get rid of Labour rather than people who want to see Dave in Number Ten. To prevent this fragile promise of power from slipping from his hands, Cameron must make a clear and unambiguous commitment to allowing the people of Britain to determine their own European future.

The grass roots of the Conservative party are not happy either. North Norfolk Tories, dubbed the 'Turnip Taliban' by metropolitan Statists, are in open revolt at the prospect of one of Dave's 'A' List slappers pretending to represent them. Cameron's embrace of Localism doesn't extend to the primacy of local associations, it seems.

Meanwhile Ian Blair, Jacqui Smith and Michael Martin are all taking advantage of their unemployed status to appear more human and less culpable in a series of well-publicised reflections on their decline and fall.

All of these mean that Cameron is less powerful today than he was last week, his options more limited and his support more fragile. Yet he still prefers to balance on the tightrope than plant his feet on a soapbox; perhaps the time is not yet right, perhaps he's holding his fire. There's a long time between now and next May, and if UKIP get their act together they could well divide Cameron's vote at the polling booth.

There's everything still to play for.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Benisons not lost, just misplaced

In a gentle Fisking of Marr's new TV series 'The Making of Modern Britain', Charles Moore concludes;
As well as gaining much, we have also lost. Honour, manufacturing, oratory, worship, friendly societies, organised temperance, provincial pride, fair play, low taxes, reading and writing, public order, good trains and public clocks which kept the time – just a few of the things which our own age could improve if it bothered to admire the past rather more and itself rather less.
But not lost, I think, as much as misplaced. Many of the benisons that Moore lists spring from our national sense of self-worth, the comfort of our place in our little platoons, and the binding effect of the shared sense of duty and responsibility that this brings.

To keep all we have gained - a more equitable society, a progressive 'one nation' Conservative Party, universal education and health care - and to rediscover what we have misplaced, we need to recognise the malignant forces that seek to prevent this. European federalism, Socialism, central Statism, the cult of the self, the assaults on our national sense of identity. These are evils that must be recognised as such.

Marr, bright chap that he is, is too blinkered, his Corporatist world vision too limited, to realise any of this, and so we have what could have been a first rate TV series scripted and presented by an intellectually handicapped second-rate commentator.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Why elected officials should be able to overule 'experts'

When Daniel Moylan, the Conservative Deputy Leader of RBKC Council, wanted to do something about the appalling mess that Kensington High Street had become he faced a seemingly insuperable obstacle in the council's own traffic and transport engineers. These experts, who feared being sued unless they stuck rigidly to the Department of Transport's outdated and antique 'guidance' on road design, refused to present RBKC members with the traffic scheme they wanted.

They warned Moylan that removing the cattle-pen barriers, taking down the thousand-odd signs that commanded pedestrians and motorists, and allowing people to make their own decisions as to how they shared the road space would lead to a massive increase in road accidents. Moylan persisted. Officials refused. In the end, RBKC councillors in committee made their own decisions at variance with their experts' recommendations, and thereby took personal legal liability for any accidents caused. It was an incredibly brave thing to do; if Moylan was wrong, he risked losing everything.

In the event, the years have proven so far that Moylan's scheme has actually reduced accidents on Kensington High Street, that traffic moves faster and everyone is happier. The experts aren't always right.

And even when the experts are right, in terms of a narrowly drawn scientific conclusion, it should always be democratically elected representative that have the final say; there are always other factors, perhaps far more important factors, than are considered by the scientists within their narrow remit.

If we let the pointy-heads rule us on the basis of their science alone, then Sweden, Canada and the Czech Republic would never have stopped their compulsory sterilisation programmes, and women and men deemed eugenically detrimental would be castrated or have their wombs removed. Sweden, Polly Toynbee's favourite nation, only ceased doing this in 1976. If we let the pointy-heads rule us, then not only pre-war Germany but all of Europe would have euthanised defective infants and those men so terribly war-wounded that they were incapable of independent life. If we let the pointy-heads rule us, then we would waste thousands of billions of the world's wealth on combating mythical AGW. Oh, sorry ....

Wanted: Fat cat trougher to save our expenses

Desperate MPs are now searching for a pro-expenses stooge to appoint as chair of the 'independent' IPSA to counter Kelly's recommendations. The head and senior executives of the IPSA should, in their view, support strongly the idea of highly-paid MPs with generous expense allowances and international troughing opportunities. The shivers of austerity and being restricted to live like the merely wealthy are giving courage to members in a last ditch attempt to preserve their corrupt lifestyles.

They may wriggle and squirm as much as they like, but we'll have them off the green benches and in the Jobcentre queue next Summer unless they demonstrate that they really do get it at last. Harman, whose contact with the real world is sporadic at best, is not a voice they should be listening to.