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Saturday 25 August 2018

Corbyn not the only politician who wants to control the media

Corbyn is endowed with a quality that one can describe as either brave honesty or naive stupidity. In coming clean with his desire to see the State establish control not only of mainstream broadcast and print media but also social media he is only saying what many of the political class both left and right only dream about. 

Corbyn's Big Idea is a nationalised British Digital Corporation, to ration our bandwidth and licence and monitor bloggers and authors of private websites, to broadcast State News, with its own PeoplesPedia to replace Wiki, and a British National search engine, that can filter out all those inconvenient references to Fabians advocating the gassing of the poor or the mentally ill, or saint Nye Bevan's gulag apologies when Stalin was slaughtering millions in the Holodomor. Somewhere in Corbyn's twisted reasoning, I'm sure, the entire internet is the work of 'Zionists' and must be purged to provide a home for Socialist purity. 

Finding a government or opposition front bencher who speaks for freedom of thought, speech and expression is as rare as finding teeth in a hen. If you're a politician, generally you loathe and fear not only the press but these days the ease with which anyone can post an opinion and even the proles get the same 280 characters as a cabinet minister. The dags and liggers of the old, dead politics equate universal media access with the rise of populism; not only are the wrong sort of people using democracy, they aver, but ordinary people are discussing things without our moderation!  

Well, the genie is out of the bottle and won't be recorked. They may look to China's grip on the internet all they like - it's too late for the West. About four hundred year too late. You see, Lilburne, Winstanley, the Levellers and many others already laid their necks on the block to secure such rights - and we will not see Parliament erode them. 

Wednesday 22 August 2018

Brexit for Freedom - the next battles

Not all readers of this blog voted Brexit, and that's fine. Not all readers are members of political parties, but among those that align with UKIP or Conservatives, one or two of you are Old Labour, and that's fine, too. Because those things that unite us are far more important than those things that divide us. It was a paragraph in Sherelle Jacobs' Telegraph column today that gave me cause to pause and think about those values - those common values that keep me writing here and stimulate you to respond. She wrote -
.. we need to talk about “grassroots activism”. From verbal puritans turning free speech into a hate crime and invasions into our online privacy to our boarded-up high streets, people feel their personal agency and sense of belonging slipping away. Brexiteers should be campaigning for individual freedom, not just from Europe but in the humdrum of everyday life. They should be redefining community in local terms.
Well, as a Localist and a democrat, that chimes with me. My use yesterday of the term 'Patricians' for those we oppose is neither novel nor original. We were also reminded (hat tip Mr Drew) of Cicero's support of the elite patrician class against Caesar, whose leadership of the populares brought change to Rome that presaged her greatest years. 

Above all, Brexit offers hope to the young, those worst affected by the bigoted illiberal authoritarianism of the new puritans that seeks to censor, forbid, restrict, govern, ration and throttle what they say, think, listen and respond to on their 5G devices. Robert Nisbet was an American sociologist inspired by Burke and de Tocqueville  rather than by Marx or Engels;
Revolt has trumped tradition, and the price is paid daily with distinctively modern pathologies such as social isolation, moral uncertainty, and personal anxiety. True freedom, Nisbet insists, is not found in the empty spaces of an omnipotent state, but in a pluralistic society where a variety of social groups and institutions intermediate to the individual and the central state have real functions or responsibilities and, by definition, enough autonomy to carry them out, thus offering individuals a sense of purpose, identity, and belonging. The continual weakening of human association bonded by kinship, ethnicity, faith, work, locality, voluntarism, private pursuit, or shared interest by a jealous, power-hungry state creates what Nisbet calls “loose individuals.” These are untethered or atomized souls drifting from the safe harbor of community into the torrents of an impersonal, bureaucratized state that cannot, from its elevated seat of vertical power, replace the intermediary social bonds and moral community it has dissolved in ever pressing its claim for still greater responsibility for each of its subjects or citizens.
It is for the victims of the well-meaning but suffocating State that Brexit stands - again, mostly the young. The obsession of the modern state, here and in Europe perhaps more than anywhere, with constructed 'equalities', rights but not responsibilities, freedoms 'to' defined behaviours but not freedoms 'from' interference and restriction, multiculturalism and diversity, all of which actually rob the individual of the freedom to seek and form alliances and social institutions that have both authority and effectiveness. The modern citizen has become the casualty of an increasingly interventionist, paternalistic state always seeking to increase its power and influence for the sake of 'the Public Good'.

Nisbet wrote;
The greatest single revolution of the last century in the political sphere has been the transfer of effective power over human lives from the constitutionally visible offices of government, the nominally sovereign offices, to the vast network that has been brought into being in the name of protection of the people from their exploiters. It is this kind of power that Justice Brandeis warned against in a decision nearly half a century ago: "Experience should teach us to be most on guard to protect liberty when the governments' purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachments by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
When I look at the capos of the EU, at the Patrician class in the UK, at our political, judicial, public service and journalistic elites, I see these well-meaning zealots that simply don't understand the harm they have done, the freedom they have destroyed, the young lives they have manacled to their altars of illiberal authoritarianism. 

If Brexit means anything it means not only throwing off the chains of the EU, but emancipating the people of Britain, our youth and our future, from the slavery of these well-meaning inquisitors. With legislated fire and regulatory torture, they destroy lives whilst seeking to conform the human spirit into their didactic ideals of perfection.

Brexit is not the end of our battle. It is the start of another campaign.

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Hague joins Leadership debate

William Hague joins the Conservative leadership debate with a plea not to make Boris Johnson leader by changing the rule book. It is a cri de couer from the deeply establishment ex-leader of a predominantly Remain parliamentary party to an overwhelmingly (and growing) Leave party membership. It also acknowledges unwittingly that party members can force rule changes if the parliamentary party remains unwilling to change; Arron Banks did not pluck the figure of 10,000 new ex-UKIP Conservative members out of the air; it is also the size of petition specified in the party constitution needed to trigger the start of a rule-change process, and I believe a coded warning.

Hague instead asks the party to trust its MPs to make the right choice of Leader.

However, the party Board may hold an easier and quicker answer to changing the process used by the '22 Committee - which opens the possibility of a compromise that may not be the 20-member open ticket, but will not be a process that excludes Boris from the membership ballot.

Given recent choices by the parliamentary party, Hague's plea is a big ask. Hague is also opposed to the involvement of members in 'open primaries' on the basis that the adoption of the process in the US gave America Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton - what he calls 'appalling' choices. Yes, William - but popular. His plea is deeply patrician, wholly establishment and antithetic to change, and will no doubt find favour amongst supporters such as the CBI and the global corporates. I doubt it will find much support amongst a Conservative grass roots membership who may themselves find the actions of many in the parliamentary party equally 'appalling'.

Robbins No.2, Jonathan Black, in power stance, selling the Robbins Plan to Cabinet members

Monday 20 August 2018

PTSD Adonis and 'Howler' Grayling - your pain is real

You know I really wasn't jesting when I dubbed Adonis and Grayling with their blog monikers. I have the evidence of semi-hysterical radio and TV interviews with pitched, stressed quavery voices, staccato delivery, mental confusion and so on. Plus an assortment of tweets so ill-advised, jejune and illiberal that only some dreadful cerebral confusion could have caused them. And Since neither of these fine gentlemen could have been at the pharmaceuticals, I reasoned, they must have been overwhelmed at the Brexit vote collapsing their secure little universe.

Now it seems I am academically vindicated - Poltico EU claims
For Britain’s pro-European middle classes, Brexit is akin to a psychological trauma which has left many unable to behave rationally, according to two leading experts. Far from being hyper-rational observers concerned only with what is economically sensible, many have morphed into the “Remainiacs” of Brexiteer disdain.

They are acting no differently to what psychologists would expect from those suffering from chronic anxiety caused by loss of control and insecurity, Dr. Philip Corr, professor of psychology and behavioural economics at the University of London, and Dr. Simon Stuart, a clinical psychologist, told POLITICO.
The shrinks have even coined a clinical term for the condition - Brexit Anxiety Disorder, or BAD. But is it curable, or will 'PTSD' and 'Howler' stay that way for life?
Those suffering anxiety might return to more ‘normal,’ ‘rational’ behaviour if the context around them changes,” he said. Clinically, however, this is often a forlorn hope, because contexts don’t usually tend to change enough.

“In that case, what I’d try to do is help the person become more flexible — in short, to learn how to live with the anxiety, tolerate the uncertainty, and work out how they can continue to engage with what truly matters to them in life, rather than getting caught up trying to change things they can’t change.”

In other words, Remainers may just need to relax and get over it.

Modifying the powers of the 1922 Committee

Apologies for a techy Conservative Party post, but I suspect this will be of interest to all other new or rejoining members. The Party Constitution is a fairly simple document for anyone used to dealing with commercial or construction contracts. In relation to election of a Leader, s.3 of Schedule 2 requires;
Upon the initiation of an election for the Leader, it shall be the duty of the 1922 Committee to present to the Party, as soon as reasonably practicable, a choice of candidates for election as Leader. The rules for deciding the procedure by which the 1922 Committee selects candidates for submission for election shall be determined by the Executive Committee of the 1922 Committee after consultation of the Board.
In other words, as suggested below, the 1922 Committee could currently conspire to withhold from the Party membership as a whole the most popular candidates.

Christopher Hope reports in the Telegraph about efforts by a fellow Party member, John Strafford, to amend the rule to allow any MP with more than 20 nominations from fellow MPs to go on the ballot paper to the membership.  

I am sure all MPs and members of the party who, as I am, are committed to openness, transparency and full democracy will support these fair, equitable and sensible rule changes, which will benefit the image and electability of our Party and of our candidates.