Friday, 6 January 2012

Abbot's bigotry is from another age

Dianne Abbot usefully demonstrated yesterday how out of touch she is with modern Britain and how much we've moved on since the days of Gene Hunt and his Quattro and Abbot's stalled development. For most people in the UK today, except for a few deluded and out-of-touch politicians, race isn't an issue. Abbot therefore sounds like some old golf-club bore longing for the return of Empire and proper race distinctions. 


I shall file her future pronouncements under 'witless'.

HUF makes Budapest even better value

The fall in the HUF from around 350 to around 390 to the £ makes Budapest an even batter value destination for British travellers; EU duty-paid ciggies at HUF 710 a pack now work out at £1.82 and half a litre of beer at HUF 360 £0.92p. Roll on Easyjet's summer schedule rather than the unusable winter departures. 


The Zloty too has fallen from around 5.20 to 5.40, which will stretch spending power.


This is my kind of Europe; floating exchange rates and national currencies, but free movement of goods and open borders to trade. Computerised banking has made the old arguments about the transactional costs of dealing in a multiplicity of currencies redundant.


I'll bet Greece dreams of a floating Drachma ...

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Magyar unease

The late Lord Soper was not so much a 'ranting Methody' as a member of the liberal establishment, a mainstay of QT and Any Questions, a prolific columnist and the public face of Methodism. I'd give a lot to be able to hear his views on the new Hungarian constitution. Surely he couldn't argue against the Fidesz party's explicit references to God in the new constitution, nor against the party's "Family, Home, Work, Health and Order" mantra that saw it elected with over a two-thirds majority? Or perhaps he could. 


Fidesz doesn't particularly like Islam. Nor is it keen on the US cults now making inroads into Eastern Europe - the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Scientologists. So part of the new constitution is a restriction that limits the benefits enjoyed by churches to those which have been active in Hungary for at least ten years and have at least 1,000 members. Others are not illegal, you understand, just unable to enjoy the same tax breaks and benefits as the Catholics and the Jews. Amongst the religions unable to meet the bar are the Methodists. I'm sure Donald Soper could have made a case that this was de facto illegality, but it just scrapes inside the provisions of the European Convention with regard to Freedom of Religion. And this is typical of much of the new Magyar constitution; you have the feeling they wanted to go further. Requiring all media to register with the government, including those with an exclusively online presence, is just a fag paper away from requiring bloggers to obtain State licences and a potential breach of Freedom of Expression provisions. 


As in previous posts on this, I'm not condemning Fidesz. I'm just uneasy.   

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

RIP Searle

Searle was by all accounts an eccentric chap. This was not an unusual characteristic amongst those who had survived the Japanese death camps. As a cartoonist, he had a truly unique ability and insight, for which we must be thankful. And perhaps the most amusing aspect of Searle's series of cat cartoons is that by all accounts he wasn't at all fond of cats. 

Young cat already regretting puberty

Euro federasts have no love for Europe

Sometimes it's the little things, tinged with geekiness, that reinforce my love of Europe. Brickwork, for example. Once the art of brickmaking had been developed in stoneless Flanders it spread outwards across the continent, finding an early home in East Anglia with strong Flemish design influence, but also reaching Eastern Europe, where the stepped gable transmuted into baroque machicolations. The rail gauge, 4' 8½", almost universal in Europe except, unexpectedly, for Ireland and Spain, and exactly equivalent to the wheelbase of horse-drawn carts and wagons used since Roman times. I love our quirks, our differences, and Europe's defining national characteristic, its cheeses. I'm very proud to call myself a European. 


My Europe isn't the Europe of the federasts. For them, Europe means homogeneity, a dull equalised sameness, a bland and mediocre non-identity. Bruce Anderson writes in the Telegraph this morning on how these ideologues, exactly like the Marxists before them, love their ideology more than they love Europe; they are, indeed, prepared to see Europeans suffer in poverty, see lives and families ruined, and see a generation of lives spoiled in order to preserve the ideology. They love federism more than they love Europe. 


It's because I love Europe that I want to see the baleful powers of the EU destroyed.   

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Party donations cap farce

With apologies to those of you who have read this here many times before, the parlous state of the main parties is wholly of their own making. They've gone from mass-membership political parties with powerful and effective local structures to centralised Metropolitan clubs from which the grass roots are excluded, in the process losing many millions of members and their fees. Their common agenda in the centralisation of State power and the emasculation of local decision making saw even the Tories lose over a million members between 1979 and 1997 when they were actually in government. They are no longer recognisable mass-membership parties but national political consumer brands. The combined membership of the big three doesn't even reach 1% of the UK electorate. Their long-term aims, supported by a Mandarinate willing to sacrifice democracy for the sake of what they see as 'stability', is to become the three permanent Parties of State, funded wholly by the taxpayer, and with the ability to exclude all newcomers from Parliament. This monstrous silent coup is taking place under our noses.


Today the Mail reports that Clegg is to seek to implement a donations cap but without increasing State funding. What bollocks. Clegg is facing the next election with a share of the poll that may not even reach double figures, with a probable membership of no more than 50,000 and no money in the bank. Of all three parties, he needs tax funding the most desperately and it's utterly disingenuous to pretend he isn't after greater tax funding whether up-front or through the back door. He's hardly likely to give away the LibDems' advantages of incumbency in the face of a determined challenge for third place from UKIP.  


There's really only one answer in reforming UK politics, which means loosening the stranglehold the big three have on our democracy, and that's not to vote for any of them - a 'No votes for the Tax Thieves' election campaign from the grass roots. However, under PPERA this may not be quite as simple as it seems - there are regulations about non-party campaigners which we need to look into. Watch this space.