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Saturday, 26 December 2009

The true barbarity is loving foxes more than people

Socialists as a group aren't terribly fond of people. Oh, they like the idea of people, alright; the idea of a great amorphous mass awaiting Fabian revelation and compliantly doffing its collective cloth cap saying 'Well, I never thought of it that way before, guvernor', but not actual, real people themselves. Real people are too difficult. They keep defying convenient stereotypes; they have aspirations founded in inequality in that they want a better paid job, a newer car, a bigger garden and a bigger-breasted wife than their neighbours when the theory says that they should delight in socialist uniformity. They don't always obey the law. They drink. They fornicate. They smack their kids. They say things that cause gasps of horror in Lady Toynbee's salon. No, by and large, for most Socialists, real people are best avoided.

Animals are always safe territory for Socialists. Saving dolphins from capitalism, Orang-Utans from greedy loggers, tigers from superstitious primitives, donkeys from Spaniards and cats from the Greeks is not only virtue in itself but has the advantage that the recipients of such care don't answer back. Unlike people. And saving animals gives Socialists the opportunity they love most of all things; lecturing their fellow man on his moral shortcomings, whether for abusing the ickle animals or not speaking up against the abuse.

So it's no surprise to see Young Lord Benn, son of the erstwhile Viscount Stansgate, standing up for animals - foxes, in this case. He doesn't care for the lives and families that would be cast into penury without hunting, he doesn't care for the communities of people struggling to keep their identity in the face of a ruthless Statism, he doesn't care for the mortar that binds the blocks of many people's lives and has done so for centuries. Real people - the blacksmith, the property developer, the farmer, the water engineer and the housewife - who ride with and follow the hunt aren't important, or at least aren't as important as foxes.

And that's the true barbarity. People like Benn who love animals more than their fellow humans. It's perverse, it's delinquent and saddest of all, to a Socialist it makes perfect sense.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

A degree of inspiration

Good news today that Mandelson's proposed cuts to the higher education sector may force degree-awarding institutions (I won't call them all universities) to churn students through their first degree in two years.

For many undergraduates, their first year these days is taken up with bringing them up to the old 'A' level standards. Under Mandelson's proposals, this would restrict degree-level teaching to just a year before graduation. For the bulk of students, this seems fine to me; a bachelor's degree is regarded in industry these days as about the equivalent of the old 'A' levels, students would suffer only two years of debt rather than three and we would reap the benefits of the most mediocre of our higher learning institutions slimming down as a result.

For exceptional students, and for good schools and sixth-form colleges, this could also offer substantial advantages. Imagine if good students could complete three good 'A' levels in a year, and that their schools or sixth form colleges were newly empowered to confer bachelors' degrees after a further two years study. Costs would be low, students could in many cases continue to live at home, and at nineteen would have their first degree. Those who then wanted to work could do so a year early unencumbered by debt, whilst those with a taste for academe could then enrol at proper universities for their Masters' or other higher degree.

The Conservatives should adopt Mandelson's initiative immediately.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Grayling's dog whistle a dishonest ploy

Chris Grayling gets plenty of column inches this morning with a suggestion that the Conservatives will declare open season on burglars and allow householders to murder them. This is palpable nonsense, and the Conservatives will certainly do no such thing. Grayling has chosen a silly phrase ' "grossly disproportionate" to blow his dog whistle. Disproportionality is like pregnancy; you can't be a little bit disproportionate. You either are or you aren't.

As the law stands, if I wake in the night to find an intruder inside my dark home, and he confronts me rather than flees, and if I'm in genuine fear of my life, I can strike him dead with whatever weapon comes to hand and do so quite justly and legally, even if when I switch the lights on the knife or screwdriver I thought he was holding turns out to be a TV remote. The existing law covers this. If, on the other hand, I return home in daylight to find a scrawny teen unplugging my video in circumstances where there was no threat, real or perceived, to my life and I kill him it would not be legal or just.

It was not reasonable for Tony Martin to shoot his burglar in the back as he was running away. It was not reasonable for Munir Hussain to beat his burglar half to death when the threat has passed; had Hussain killed him when the burglar was holding him at knife point, a time at which he may have felt his life was in danger, he would have had just reason.

I know from your comments below that many of you will disagree with me on this but I ask you to consider that what you are defending is not the right of self-defence, but the right of retribution. And if so, whether you really really want to remove the right of retribution from the courts to the aggrieved party?

If you sell me a car so dodgy it amounts to criminal fraud, do you also uphold my right to come around with a couple of the lads and hack-off your left hand in retribution? If you give me a forged tenner in my change, can I slit your nostrils open there and then?

Anyway, blogging from now on will be light. Many thanks and good wishes to all those who have commented throughout the year (even the weird Japanese dialogue) and may you all have a peaceful Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year.