Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Conservatives sell out British people

The Conservatives have sold out on the ID cards bill.

They'd long since lost my vote anyway.


Monday, March 27, 2006

March for free expression

The Belmont Club is pointing out that while the police claimed that flags were not permitted at the march for free expression last weekend because of a bylaw, this didn't seem to apply at earlier demonstrations by Palestinians.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

The ALF in Fife

I read yesterday that the ALF had visited a local venison farm and tried to release the deer. This is what I found at the front gate.

Fortunately, the perpetrators do not seem to have been the sharpest tools in the box, having cut the wrong bits of fence and failed to release any of the deer, but as the owners point out on their website, escaped deer usually return to the farm in pretty short order anyway preferring a stress-free life on the farm to dodging dog walkers in the woods.

The ALF also managed to leave a minefield of barbed wire for the deer to entangle themselves in. These animal lovers seem quite happy to arrange maiming and a slow death for these deer. They also destroyed a number of wildlife corridors created by the owners.

I daresay the owners would appreciate any messages of support or perhaps the odd purchase from their online shop. I'm sure the ALF would appreciate it if everyone eats venison this week.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Labour and false accounting

Blairwatch points out that the Labour party appears to be guilty of false accounting. No doubt an investigation will be launched and it will be found that nobody was responsible.

Crooks, money launderers, receivers of bribes.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Jonathan Freedland on education

There was an interesting programme on Radio 4 this morning about the history of education. It featured James Tooley of the EG West Centre destroying his left wing critics. Well worth a listen.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bottom-up government

If we are ever to secure our freedoms political power has to be devolved. Recognition of this imperative immediately begs the question of which powers should be devolved and to whom. Perhaps even more important is how ordinary people can ensure that these powers are not returned to central government against their will. Inevitably governments, no matter which shade of political opinion they represent, will try to centralise power.

One of the beauties of a federal system of government is the way it reduces creeping centralisation by reserving certain policy areas to lower levels of government. Then if freedom is attacked, people can vote with their feet and move elsewhere.

While it's true to say that mission creep has affected even federations like the US, from a UK perspective, a federation looks like a pretty good way to keep power a bit closer to the individual. Certainly it's possible to imagine the UK as a federal state with an English Parliament sitting alongside the devolved administration in Edinburgh and a beefed-up assembly in Wales. But in terms of the subject of this posting the multinational federation solution would largely fail to disperse power in a meaningful way - the English administration would control power over pretty much everything that affects people's daily lives in the same way that the UK government does today. In essence government would remain a top-down affair with behaviour and choices defined for us by an overweening state.

If power is to be devolved and to stay devolved, the Constitution needs to pass power not to national governments but to lower administrative levels. In England this might be the county. Or then again, why not disperse power still further - perhaps to the level of the community? Or even (perish the thought) to individuals.

Whatever level is chosen, power would reside there, but could be passed upwards if the voters so decided. So a community might decide that it wanted to pass power over its school up to county level so as to pool resources and seek economies of scale. Later, if it was dissatisfied with the county administration, it could simply take the power back. Then again, if it wanted to pass control of its school over to a private sector administrator (who might offer similar incentives driven by its own economies of scale) it would be perfectly free to do so.

In order for a system like this to work the tax raising power would have to reside at the lowest level of government. In this way the community in the example above would simply pass on to the county (or the private sector), a mutually agreed level of funding to support the supply of services. It would pass on funds to central government for defence and foreign relations in the same way.

The critical question that needs to be answered by those on the left is: are you willing to forgo giving to central government the power to redistribute between regions. If that power is given to away then devolution becomes a sham and we are left with a shuffling of the deckchairs. Central government can demand what it likes because it holds the purse strings.

A radically devolved model of government will only work if there is a direct relationship between the votes cast and their financial consequences. In essence you can have liberty or you can have redistribution but you can't have both.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Married to the mob

It will not surprise many people to hear that David Mills, the multimortgaging millionaire husband of Tessa Jowell is a former Labour councillor.