Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mr Jowell's murky past

Via Blairwatch, this piece by Craig Murray our erstwhile ambassador in Samarkand:

It is indeed not unusual to remortgage, though it was unusual that she remortgaged with an offshore bank. It is also unusual to remortgage for as much as £400,000. But it is very unusual indeed to remortgage for £400,000, then pay off the full loan, within a month, with spare cash.

What sort of people do such a thing? Well, money launderers.
And if that isn't enough for you:
Mills was under long term surveillance by the Serious Fraud Office for numerous dubious financial transactions. Approximately nine years ago, his office was actually raided by the SFO. As the investigation drew to a close, New Labour came to power. An inside source tells me that SFO staff believed they had a good case, and wondered whether his friendship with the new Prime Minister Blair had any bearing on it not coming to court. A Sunday Times Insight investigation into Mills was spiked by the editors.
Blair covers up (allegedly) for fraudster (alleged). I do love the sound of shit hitting the fan.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Worth a look

Channel Four is running a programme by Peter Hitchens called "Stealing Freedom" Should be interesting.

A pretty pickle

The Sunday Times has a leading article on the demonstration in Oxford yesterday in favour of the new animal testing laborator. It rightly applauds the protestors for standing up to organised thuggery. Many people will be in awe of the bravery shown by those who took to the streets. As a certified coward they appear to me to border on the insane - facing up to people who have no compunction in using violence against anyone who opposes them.

They can be under no illusions that the police offer any protection from the thugs, the boys in blue regularly making it clear that they cannot offer a protection service those who are threatened. So once again one can only stand awestruck by their courage.

But when you think about it, the implications of this are very profound. The police do not offer a protection service. Their role is limited to detection and prevention. Not protection.

Who then is to protect us? Who will guard those whose opinions attract the threats of the violent fringes? The answer has to be that individuals must defend themselves, but how they should do this is a mystery that nobody will answer. The thugs go armed with baseball bats, or worse. Any law-abiding citizen who attempted to do the same is guilty of a criminal offence.

Once again, I can only shake my head in admiration at the courage of those protesters yesterday.

The BBC reports that there were only 500 of them. This is an extraordinary number representing as it does those willing to take on armed men while they themselves are protected by nothing other than the force of reason. We can wonder how many more might have made their voices heard if there was no threat, or if they believed that they would be defended or could defend themselves.

There can be no doubt that the cause of free speech is under attack in the UK, not only from authoritarian government legislation, but because too many people are rightly frightened to speak out. It is surely no coincidence that the UK is one of the few countries where the Danish cartoons were not published.

There is a gaping hole at the centre of UK law and order policy which must be answered if the liberal value of free speech is to be protected. A written Consistitution is only half of the battle. We must be able to defend ourselves against those non-governmental forces who want to cow us into silence. Unfortunately I don't think we are ready to grasp this particular nettle yet.

Friday, February 24, 2006

NHS waiting lists are no more!!!

Truly, the miracles of the NHS are a wonder to behold. The Blessed, Sainted and Truly Oleaginous Patricia Hewitt has, at a stroke, abolished the spectre of NHS waiting lists by simple means of...abolishing them. What genius!

Read about it here.

The NHS. It's the envy of the world you know.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Coalition latest

Lots of interesting comment on the coalition around the UK blogs. This worries me a lot though:
"---a Bill of Rights might well set out a belief in the right of everyone to education from 5 to 16 - that's fine, but what it shouldn't and won't do is set out how that should be delivered. "
I had thought that a Bill of Rights was supposed to define what a Government couldn't do. A supposed "Right to education" is defining duties - a duty of government to provide it and a duty on taxpayers to foot the bill.

Are we all agreed on the definition of liberty? It means absence of coercion. Look it up in the dictionary. Education, wealth, poverty and hunger are not liberty.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Is Blair totalitarian?

See this list of repressive legislation, and the addenda in the comments. Read it and weep.

British Constitution

Liberty Central, the new portal to assist a coalition of the willing to get rid of Labour looks like it's going to be ready to go in the next few days. Unity at Talk Politics is on a bit of a roll by the looks of it.

Meanwhile Chris at Strange Stuff has already been posting a few preliminary thoughts about what should go in to the Constitution which will follow the overthrow. (It's a little presumptious isn't it? You know, getting together a few pyjama-clad geeks to write a new Constitution for the UK).

I thought I'd put down a few ideas on the higher-level stuff by way of complementing Chris's start.

We need to define very carefully what we are trying to acheive. I would worrty that it could rapidly deteriorate into an exercise in trying to hard code particular points of view into law. We've already seen a few favourite policies put forward for consideration by some bloggers. If we can't get these people to understand the purpose of a written constitution then we are sunk from the start.

Likewise, if we start to get a document framed in the language of "rights" then the whole thing will collapse. People will start to define anything they think valuable as a "right", which means that someone else has the duty to pay for it. We cannot (IMHO) have a document which gives someone the right to live at someone else's expense.

My proposal would be that we are aiming to acheive:

1. Limited government: Clear definition of what we believe government is for. What it can legislate on. By way of a radical thought, why not restrict the Bill of Rights only to defining what government may legislate on. Everything else should be off limits. We should not be about defining the hold that some individuals hold over others.
2. Dispersal of power: Between the house of Parliament. Between Parliament and the executive. Between the executive and the courts. Between different levels of government. Between government and the individual.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Political compass

I just did the Political Compass test again - I think the last time was a year or so ago. The result was pretty much spot on:

Economic Left/Right: 7.13
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.82

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Political change

While the ongoing rolling back of basic freedoms continues unchecked, I do wonder if the blogosphere is starting to stir into action.

In particular MatGB is proposing a coalition to get NuLab out. Essentially it's a "Vote anyone but labour" movement.

Meanwhile Talk Politics wonders about more radical ideas.
The problem here is not any one individual or any one political party but the whole rotten edifice; the modern political class that, today, dominates party politics, the managerialists and the state functionaries. It's like a fucking hydra - you cut off one head (Blair) and two more grow back just as bad.
But is anyone listening to the blogs?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Five Live phone in

I caught a bit of the Five Live phone-in this morning while driving back from the school run. The subject was the latest abuse claims coming out of Iraq. As part of the programme we had an interview with someome who was introduced as "ex-US marine" Jimmy Massey. I found this name ever so slightly familiar, and after getting home stuck it into Google where I found this:

Yet another example of the BBC trying to hide the background of their interviewees.

On the same programme we heard someone (an interviewee rather than a member of the public I think - I missed the intro) who claimed that he had been told by the BBC's Caroline Hawley that rape of Iraqi women by Coalition forces was widespread.

This startling claim begs many questions, not the least of which is why, if this is the case, is Caroline Hawley not reporting it?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pride of Britain

From Nip/Fuct, a blog by an NHS doctor:
The icing on the cake was when, on the ward round, we arrived at the bed of an elderly lady. She hadn't been seen by any doctors since her arrival in hospital several hours previously, because it wasn't her 'turn' yet. We were sifting through the referral letter from her GP, and checking her observations on the chart. It was then that we realised she was dead. And she had been dead for up to 2 hours.
Read the whole thing

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Quote of the day

The future's bleak. The future's Brown.
Outside story. I like that.

Friday, February 10, 2006

More on LegReg

That's the Legislative & Regulatory

Tim Worstall has a piece up at the ASI
Think of this as one of those little moments when you might want to gasp at the audacity of our rulers.
He points us to a piece by the Telegraph's legal correspondent Joshua Rozenberg:

Clifford Chance, the world's largest law firm, points out that the Bill "usurps the power of Parliament". In a briefing to clients, it says the only red tape that the Bill would remove is "the red tape of Parliamentary scrutiny for primary legislation".

The Bill - to be debated in the Commons today -would give the Government so-called "Henry VIII powers" to amend primary legislation by ministerial order without Parliamentary debate, the firm says.

Meanwhile, commenters at Bloggers4Labour reckon I'm getting my knickers in a twist about nothing. I hope they're right. They helpfully point out the transcript of the second reading here. I shall be wading through this over the weekend.

Consider Phebas reckons the legislation only refers to secondary legislation and it's all a mistake. I hope he's right.

Update: He has been persuaded otherwise in the comments on the same post.

The P-G on the BBC's cartoon reporting

The Pedant General has a must-read summary of the woeful performance of the BBC in failing to report the context of the Danish Cartoons story.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

BBC - slowest news organisation in the world?

It's now 24 hours since the story about the Danish cartoons having been reproduced in Egypt some five months ago.

The BBC still doesn't seem to have reported it.

Snail media.

More on the abolition of Parliament.

Barking Blair's Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act, giving ministers the power to amend legislation without reference to Parliament, has started to pick up a bit of notice.

Owen Barder notes that the LegReg Act is conferring what Westminster insiders refer to as "Henry VIII powers".
To my eye, this seems to be the mother and father of all Henry VIII powers. I expect we will be told that, like the abolition of local council elections which has been floated this week, these changes will make the business of government much more efficient and streamlined.
Mind you, if TB wants to chop off his wife's head that's fine with me.

Spy Blog comments on the lack of any safeguards:

This all feels like a replay of the non-debate which happened over the controversial Civil Contingencies Act 2004 Part 2 Emergency Powers, where the Government repeatedly refused to exclude any "core constitutional Acts of Parliament", such as Magna Carta 1297 , the Bill of Rights 1688, or Habeas Corpus, or even the European Communities Act 1972 etc. from being subject to amendment or repeal under Emergency Regulations.

In the end, even the Civil Contingencies Act ended up with the dubious fig leaf, that it could not be used to amend or repeal the Civil Contingecies Act itself (e.g. to extend a period of Emergency indefinately) or the Human Rights Act (which already has huge loopholes for "national security" or "public health" etc).

However, the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill does not have even those "safeguards", and, if passed as it stands, would give a Minister the power to amend or repeal or replace any or all legislation, and even the Common Law as well.

Talk Politics has the pithiest comments:
Just when you thought things could not get any fucking worse, bullshit like this turns up on the statute books - if this passes, then we really have got to find some way not just to change governments every now and then but get rid of the whole fucking lot of them.
Sounds like the latest recruit to libertarianism to me.

Murky.org wonders why this is nowhere in the MSM:
This is outrageous, truly outrageous - and I'm amazed that it's not front page news. I only learned of this bill via pointers from friends.


The real issue that remains is the parliamentary bill to, possibly literally, end parliamentary bills.
The CBI, ever the tool of big government, is supporting the Act.

This needs much wider dissemination. Start blogging, people.

Try Saudi mate

Some idiot has written to the Times (and been published!) demanding that blogs be controlled:
I am coming to the conclusion that access to blogging and the internet may ultimately require some form of control, although I cannot imagine how that could, or should, be done. We all need to be informed and this is best achieved by responsible journalism.
My message to the author is: go and live in Saudi Arabia or Iran where they share your views on freedom of speech.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Twenty Major on Abu Hamza

Twenty Major has the last word on Abu Hamza. (Not for the easily offended)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Get rid of Labour NOW.

I wonder if Bloggers4Labour can come up with a good reason to support a bill giving the government the right to enact legislation without troubling itself with getting the agreement of Parliament?

Time to change sides B4L?

Hat tip: Tom Paine at the Last Ditch

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Tony Blair has been lying again

Tony Blair has been using Parliamentary privilege to tell porky pies about the authorship of the LSE's report on ID cards.

Report here at Blogzilla.

Schooling is a waste of time

We know the paradox. Education improves earnings but most formal schooling appears to be a waste of time. Many economists claim that education is mostly a means of signaling quality.
This is from an interesting post on Marginal Revolution. The comments thread is good too.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Could I just let everyone know that this is the most beautiful performance of the most beautiful piece of music there is.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The BBC and the Danish cartoons

Has the irony of the BBC refusing to reproduce the Danish cartoons struck anyone else. The BBC is the world's most trusted broadcaster which, because of the unique way it is funded, can be relied to speak truth unto nations without fear or favour.

As one commenter on the BBC DHYS thread said:

Come on BBC - either you are going to conduct a serious debate, including showing the cartoons in question so open-minded people can give an informed opinion, or you're not.
If in order to protect Muslim sensibilities regarding the portrayal of the Prophet Mohammed you feel you have to refrain from publishing the cartoons, there is no debate. You've already decided they shouldn't be published. So why bother asking what I think?

easterhay, Buenos Aires