30 March, 2014

Earth Hour

Bugger, I missed it. I was watching, on a device which used electricity, Jeremy Clarkson and his friends drive smoky diesel lorries through Burma.

Most entertaining it was, too. Better than turning the lights off, anyway.

I reported on this a few years back when the Environment Minister of British Colmbia lit candles all over his residence and set the cat on fire. That's a carbon pawprint, if you like.

Earth Hour is not for people who are worried about the planet but for people who want to look as if they are. Almost no electricity is saved and it may be that the sudden surge in use at the end of the hour means the event might cause more to be used.

If you think that not using electricity will save the planet, don't use any. You'll be happy. But don't tell us about it. Keep it to yourself.

Virtue is its own reward.

The clocks change

Don't get me started on this, it's bad for my blood pressure. I am remaining on GMT and suggest you do too.

Cock a snook at the State. Say 'I am a free person and know what the time is without being told, wrongly, by a bureaucrat I am paying to do so.'

Keep saying this until you are sane.

The Scottish Pound

We are still hearing a lot of nonsense about a possibly independent Scotland and its currency.

'Walking out of the UK means walking out of the UK pound' George Osborne is reported to have said. I haven't read what he actually said, because I can't be bothered, but he should take care that reportage of his speeches does not come out as utter drivel or loose thinking.

Of course Scotland can keep the pound: it just keeps printing out its Scottish pound notes and fixes their rate at 1:1 to the British £. At present the Bank of England holds £1 for every Scottish £ printed. Also it stands by Scottish Banks as lender of last resort. It is these two things which would change, unless we had a currency union.

As to allowing a currency union in return for Scotland permitting our nuclear weapons at Faslane, the suggestion is risible. Why would we want our nukes in a foreign country? Put them in Portsmouth which already has the skilled workforce and traditions to cope.

Scotland would be very unwise either to seek a currency union or simply to adopt the UK£ as its currency because it would result in it being overvalued and causing a recession, such as we see in Southern Europe today, which has had a vastly overvalued currency (the €) for years, caused by political will rather than economic sense. Thousands of Scottish jobs would be lost.

Let's adopt a simple policy. If they go, they go. They can adopt the Japanese yen as their currency for all I care but they get no help when the plan fails.

28 March, 2014

Cats

The news that cats may be giving TB to humans is disturbing.

When we thought that badgers were spreading TB - even if only to cattle - we had a cull.

The question is whether they should be shot, or gassed in their suburban homes.

The government must act swiftly.

25 March, 2014

The way we live now

I don't know what you made of the news that aborted embryos in NHS hospitals are thrust into the furnace in order to heat the hospital as part of an energy saving scheme. Perhaps you sighed and reflected that this is the sort of world we have created for ourselves.

For me, and perhaps for many, the idea that this is part of a waste to energy scheme lends it a particular horror, I don't know why.

I suppose there will have to be some enquiry, which won't change anything except in that it will make some people feel better about it.

What I can't listen to, however, is people saying that it shows lack of respect for human remains. These are unborn people whom we as a society have decided to kill because they are inconvenient.

Now that is lack of respect.

Europe

Tomorrow Nigel Farage, head of UKIP and Nick Clegg, head of the Liberal Democrats, will debate Europe. For myself, I don't believe it will be an earth shattering event: the parties are so far apart there can be no synthesis, only an individual restating of existing positions. I suppose the major outcome will be the damage it does to the Tories.

Anyhow, just in time for this event Business for Britain, a Group campaigning for European reform, has come up with some rather interesting research.

Since 1996 Britain has voted against proposals in the Council of Ministers 55 times, but on each occasion that proposal has gone on to become European Law. Our vote has counted for nothing, not even once.

The other shocking aspect to this is that we have only voted 'No' 55 times. There have been a damned sight more than 55 damaging proposals in the last 18 years.

Forward, Nigel.

22 March, 2014

Dealing with foreigners

It appears that Gennady Timchenko, a Russian oligarch, sold his share in the oil trading company Gunvor the day before the US put him on its blacklist. Naturally the list had been leaked.

The swine. The utter swine. This is the problem with blacklisting Johnny Foreigner, he just doesn't play by the rules. Timchenko should have left his billions where they were and taken it like a man.

But no. He weaselled out.

Shocking.

Ummmm....is there any chance of the West behaving sensibly on Ukraine, admitting we instigated the trouble by supporting a mob which staged an illegal coup against the country's properly elected government, and just letting it go before we suffer any further embarrassment?

Probably not.

17 March, 2014

St. Patrick's Day

The referendum

I smiled when I read that various Western leaders have described the referendum in the Crimea as 'illegal'.What does the properly elected Ukrainian Head of State say? Given the fact that he is currently in Russia I expect he says 'yes' to it, making it ....er....not illegal.

Of course Britain is allowing a referendum on whether Scotland should remain in the UK, even though the Scots are not ethnically different from their countrymen, do not speak a different language and have much deeper ties to the Union than Crimea has to Ukraine.

And I saw the European Union had condemned it, too. I think President Putin will be giggling here. He will remember that Ireland, having had a referendum, was sent back to the polls twice, because it got the wrong answer, and that when France and Holland voted in referenda against the new constitution, it was changed into a treaty, so there wouldn't be another vote.

Putin hasn't tried any of that in Crimea, he's too honest.

This has been hypocrisy taken to a shocking extent, and we're as bad as the rest of them.

Oxfam

I remember going on a sponsored walk for Oxfam - it must have been a good forty years ago - and I have donated modestly in the years since.

You feel safe giving to Oxfam: its proper name is or was the Oxford Campaign for Famine Relief and you know exactly what it does.

No you don't.

There was a recent case with an actress Scarlett Johanssen who as well as being an Ambassador for Oxfam was in an advert for Sodastream, which is made in ISRAEL. Oxfam had decided to enter the Arab / Israeli dispute on the side of the Palestinian Arabs (I don't know whether Hamas or Fatah) and in the ensuing row Ms Johanssen, to her credit, severed all ties with Oxfam.

Note that Oxfam's involvement in the West Bank was nothing to do with famine relief. It was purely political, the managers taking the money donated by honest folk for the relief of hunger and applying it towards their own political aims. It doesn't matter which side you take yourself, this diversion of funds should outrage you.

Now we read that Oxfam has decided to give its views on the gap between rich and poor - not in Africa, where it is extreme and identifiable as a cause of hunger, but in Britain. It has announced, pompously, that the five richest families in Britain have wealth equivalent to that of the poorest 20%. This is not a complaint that the poorest 20% are suffering from famine (they're not) just that they have perceived a sin (rich people tend to be rich and poor people tend to be poor). They have got involved, as in their Middle East caper, with politics, pure and simple, and using your money to do it.

Personally I shall never donate to Oxfam again.

14 March, 2014

Tony Benn

Tony Benn has died aged 88, denying a bed in an NHS hospital to someone, unlike him, who couldn't afford to go private.

You will find three sorts of obituaries of him: those from a dwindling few who think he was often right; some from the right of the political spectrum who think he was wrong about everything but one of those originals who spoke his mind which is a good thing (like Stalin, I suppose). The third, and there is a particularly ghastly version of this by Mary Wakefield in the Spectator, falls for his innate charm. Wakefield, whom he clearly twisted round his little finger, thought his philosophy was a belief in the inherent goodness of man.

There's clearly quite a lot that needs to be put right here.

In the '60s and '70s my father, the son of working class parents, was, like a lot of managers then, trying to understand what was going on with the working man, whom he had begun by regarding as his own type. In fact the British worker was the same, it was just that a new politics had entered the workplace and disruption, largely for disruption's sake, was its aim. It was the era of lightning strikes, intimidation and bullying, and Benn pushed this programme as hard as he could.

Benn, by contrast, the son of a cabinet minister, wealthy publisher and viscount, had never had any understanding of the working man and didn't until the day he died: there was a leitmotif of patronisation, which even came out in Mary Wakefield's panegyric where he described a couple of his visits to poor areas (Get me, I'm hanging out with the sans culottes). For Benn, the British workers were Karl Marx's useful idiots, catalysts he could put to use in his political melting pot. Most of them, those who weren't his acolytes, hated him.

And he uses in his act the familiar socialist props. He explained to Wakefield, as if to a child, that Hitler and Mussolini nationalised the banks. He doesn't say that he has been trying all these years to put into practice the policies of Hitler and Mussolini, or, of course, that his policies would leave the British Citizen with as much freedom as the Germans and Italians in the 1930s. He must have looked so cuddly as he was saying it.

Benn opposed the European Union, which you may think a good thing, but he did so because he thought it might stop him from imposing an even worse system on us.

Tony Benn was almost an exclusively bad thing for Britain, and worse because he dressed up his illiberal beliefs as daring candour.

De mortuis.... of the dead let us speak nothing but the truth.

13 March, 2014

I yield to no one....

It seems that the Boy Band One Direction are encouraging their fans - which consist largely of randy 14 year old girls - to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer demanding he maintain foreign aid and and tighten up on tax avoidance.

Now, I am all in favour of getting kids involved in politics and naturally yield to no one in my admiration for One Direction's .... I think espi├Ęglerie is the word .... but this is a tricky one. Doubtless Harry Stiles and the other children have a firm grasp of macroeconomics but in Italy, for example, the new Prime Minister, a trendy leftie, has just realised that the way to get more jobs for people is to cut taxes. But if you publicly encourage tax cuts you lose that smug, one world fair trade image which is so important in the music business: look at Bono.

Probably best to stick to the day job, lads.

 

12 March, 2014

Francis's First

Tomorrow, 13th March, will be the first anniversary of the accession to the throne of St. Peter of
Francis I (although he doesn't much like thrones).

Will he be conservative or liberal, good or bad? Will he allow contraception, women priests?

Find out in my article in The Commentator. It's Free!

11 March, 2014

De mortuis....

It only happened this morning, but I am already heartily fed up with being told what a wonderful, warm
person the late trade union leader Bob Crow was.

He was, by contrast, an unpleasant, drunken shit who insisted on living in state-subsidised accommodation despite earning £140,000 a year, blocking other more needy people from getting a home.

He had no taste for democracy and was too extreme even for the Labour Party.

Nobody who couldn't get into work or visit their family because of some unnecessary strike he had called, nobody who paid extra for a train ticket because he insisted on overpaid and unnecessary staff on the trains, none of these people think he was a friendly, cuddly chap whose heart was in the right place.

Let us start speaking the truth about these people. His family might miss him but the rest of us don't.

05 March, 2014

How far we've come

Russia is a country run on different moral and philosophical lines to a western country. We knew that.

President Putin is a nasty piece of work and his tough guy image doesn't just extend to being photographed without his shirt. We knew that, too.

Even the British Foreign Office, which in my view should have been closed down years ago in the public interest, knew these things.

Then the West began to covet Ukraine.You may wonder why: it is an enormous country with some rustbucket industries, subsistence farming and a Russian pipeline running through it. The reasons are that America and NATO wanted to put one over on Putin, whilst the European Union wanted to see its bureaucratic kleptocracy extend eastwards. There would be Ukrainian ministries, with commissioners, under-commissioners, chefs de cabinet and largesse to be distributed to the grateful cossacks. That's the sort of stuff Eurocrats like.

John McCain, the failed presidential candidate who brought Sarah Palin to our TV screens, has been in Kiev stirring up trouble, as has John Kerry, Secretary of State and our own William Hague.

As the mob got violent the EU brokered a peace deal, which the mob ignored. Baroness Ashton completely misunderstood what was going on. They overthrew the Ukrainian President who asked Moscow to intervene. Moscow did not 'invade' - they didn't have to since they had thousands of troops and scores of planes already there, perfectly legally.

David Cameron and Others are now mouthing absurdities about sanctions, and not going to the paralympics, as if anyone cared.

It just goes to show how far we have descended, that senior political figures have connived in the overthrow of a democratically elected government and then tried to blame the outcome on someone else.

The winner is....

After the Oscars ceremony the Italian papers were ecstatic. 'The Oscar goes to Sorrentino', 'Italy wins!', such that you might have thought that Matthew McConaughy, Kate Blanchett and the rest didn't exist.

It was of course for best foreign picture but they were mevertheless delighted. All, except for the Berlusconi Family paper, Il Giornale, which led with 'The Oscar goes to Berlusconi' reminding us what none of the other papers had mentioned, that it was Silvio's production company which made the whole thing possible.

Poor Silvio! No one even wanted to mention him. It was the truth that dared not speak its name.

02 March, 2014

P.I.E. (2)

There has been an interesting and, for me, pleasing development in the case of the Paedophile Information Exchange and the National Council for Civil Liberties.

We have now settled down to the expectation of something new every day, which suggests seriously bad management by the Labour Party. Tony Blair's old supremos Peter Mandelson and Alistair Campbell would never have let it get this far.

There has been an interesting defence of the NCCL by Brendan O'Neill in the internet magazine spiked , which is written by what appears to be a group of left-wing libertarians, if such a thing can exist. O'Neill says that NCCL was right to affiliate with P.I.E. because people shouldn't be censored from expressing their views, whether one agrees with them or not.

To a large extent, as a Libertarian, I agree with this. I have had enough cases where my views have failed to see the light of day because they were 'inappropriate'. You may remember Rod Liddle being told, when he wanted to put a Eurosceptic on a panel show, 'You don't understand, Rod, these people are simply mad'.

But the NCCL appear to have gone further than merely allowing P.I.E. to spread its opinions. They seem to have actually campaigned for them, which is quite, quite different. The new development is Patricia Hewitt, former Labour cabinet minister and then head of NCCL, replying to a letter from a schoolmaster.

That schoolmaster was my old tutor at St Paul's, Philip McGuinness. Philip was fortunate to have gone through life with a strict set of values as to what was right and what was wrong. He wasn't everyone's cup of tea, and certainly not every schoolboy's, but in later life I rather envied him, as I envy those who have no doubts about religion, one way or the other. I have always been wracked with doubt, on almost every subject under the sun.

Philip wrote to Patricia Hewitt:
"I cannot help but think that you do not support civil liberties at all. Your aim is questionable in the extreme. Are you aiming for the destruction of society, for the enslavement of the individual, for the destruction of family life? Is your object to shatter prospective individual happiness at an early age?
....Your title is a shame and a masquerade. There must be some very twisted minds and pernicious malcontents behind your organisation if this is the sort of thing you advocate".

Hewitt had written in a press release

"NCCL proposes that the age of consent should be lowered to 14, with special provision for situations where the partners are close in age, or where consent of a child over ten can be proved."

Her reply to McGuinness suggests that the police should not get involved if there has been consent and the press release suggests that consent could be given at 10 years old..

She and the NCCL seem not just to be giving a platform to P.I.E. but campaigning for it.