Friday, April 29, 2011
I said I'd keep you posted so here goes...
I got a voicemail from Westminster University's PR company (really) asking me to call them back. Before I got chance, the event was cancelled.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Nick Cohen wrote long ago about the weird relationship between the elements of the left and Muslims so extreme they could be called fascist (I even had a crack myself). For the perennially unpopular left the potential muscle offered by extremist Islam offered a tiger they could ride, if not all the way to power, certainly towards a bit of sought after relevance. This left were less Atlee, more Von Papen.
Of course, there were huge hurdles to overcome; issues of women’s rights, gay rights or even animal rights. The left avoided them by going quiet on these issues. The card of Anti-Americanism trumped all others. As Churchill said, “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons”. Well I’ve yet to see a production of Faustus where Mephistopheles doesn’t come to collect.
Well now the ‘left-right’ axis or ‘ideology horseshoe’ has been bent into a pretzel. Next Tuesday the University of Westminster will be playing host to an event called ‘Zionism, Jewishness and Israel’ which is billed as “A panel discussion examining Israeli Criminality in the wake of the Goldstone Retract”. Speakers include John Rose, a leading figure in the Socialist Workers Party, Alan Hart who, according to the post which brought this whole thing to my attention, has made up stories about Israel, notably that Israelis were behind 9/11, and Dr Ghada Karmi, an academic at Exeter University.
Also on the roster is Gilad Aztmon, a shameless anti Semite who was expelled from the SWP for calling the holocaust “a complete falsification invented by Zionists and Americans”. No wonder Stormfront, a leading neo Nazi website, are advertising the event. So are members of the Stop the War Coalition. The left are now making common cause, not just with Islamofascists, but with common or garden fascists.
However, it now appears that John Rose and Ghanda Karmi have pulled out of the event. That leaves just Alan Hart and the University of Westminster which is still, apparently, playing host to Aztmon’s noxious fantasies.
I tried to contact the University to find out who had booked the event and how I could get in touch with them. After a bit of passing around I spoke to a guy called Jordan who told me that though the event was indeed booked for next Tuesday, he knew nothing about it and neither did anyone he had been able to speak to. He did say, however, that the event could have been arranged via the Student Union. This would be the same student union which recently saw three activists from Hizb ut Tahrir elected.
Anyway, Jordan has told me that his director will be in touch with me. I’ll keep you posted.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Speaking for himself
“The only solution is to kill 600 people in one night. Let the UN and Bill Clinton and everyone else make a scene - and it is over for 20 years”
Such was the late Alan Clark’s prescription for dealing with the Provisional IRA. It says much for the peace process and the changed state of Northern Ireland that yesterday’s ‘rally’ by the Real IRA drew only half that amount.
The gathering was held to commemorate the Easter Rising of 1916. The 300 souls in attendance, clad mostly in tracksuits as befits such a somber occasion, listened to a speech read haltingly from a crumpled bit of paper by a fat man kitted out from Millets. Many of his words were lost in the strong wind which whipped the hillside cemetery.
What could be made out was chilling. With the Queen due to visit Ireland next month this tubby masked man claimed to speak for “the Irish people” and warned that “The Queen of England is wanted for war crimes in Ireland and not wanted on Irish soil. We will do our best to ensure she and the gombeen class that act as her cheerleaders get that message”
This mans grand claim in front of his smattering of followers to be speaking for “the Irish people” is rather undone by opinion polls suggesting that the majority of Irish citizens actually support the visit. But then men dressing up in military uniforms and issuing declarations which claim their opinion is shared by all “Irishmen and Irishwomen” and that they are “entitled to...the allegiance of every Irishman and Irishwoman” is something of an Easter tradition in my ancestral homeland. At least Patrick Pearse had a way with words and enough personal bravery to show his face.
More chilling given the recent murder of young policeman Ronan Kerr was the warning that the Real IRA would target police officers
“Oglaigh na hEireann (the IRA) call on any young nationalist who may have been sold the lie that the RUC/PSNI (Royal Ulster Constabulary/Police Service of Northern Ireland) is somehow an reformed, non-political police service to think again, those who think they are serving their community are in fact serving the occupation and will be treated as such. The GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association), Catholic Church and constitutional nationalism will be unable to protect those who turn traitor, they are as liable for execution as anyone else regardless of their religion, cultural background or motivation”
Threats to the Queen and threats to police officers; why did the police not swoop in and arrest these people?
Sadly, despite the pitiful crowd yesterday and all the outrage over PC Kerr’s death, the answer is that a strong police response to these people would probably have been condemned. ‘Counter productive’ and ‘harmful to the peace process’ are phrases which would, no doubt, have been quickly on the lips of even supposedly respectable nationalists like Sinn Fein.
This is because even now Sinn Fein are not anti violence, they are just anti other people’s violence. Violence, after all, got them where they are so, unsurprisingly, they take a pragmatic rather than moral view of it. Gerry Adams condemned the murders of two soldiers in 2009 as “counter productive”
But even mainstream nationalism is tainted with this equivocation. As my friend Ruth Dudley Edwards pointed out recently the men of 1916 “were a clique within a clique within a clique”. The Irish Volunteers who, along with the Marxist Irish Citizen Army, mounted the 1916 rebellion, numbered 180,000 men on the outbreak of the First World War. 170,000 of these joined the British army. Of the 10,000 left only 2,000 went out with Pearse at Easter Week. Yet Pearse, like the sweaty terrorist yesterday, claimed to speak for the Irish people.
Yet these men who, acting on their own, unleashed violence on the streets of Ireland are venerated by mainstream politicians in the south. Until this changes we will never hear a true condemnation of dissident Republicanism. As Dudley Edwards puts it “as long as we continue to glamorise 1916 and any of what followed, we legitimise the activities of those who believe they carry the torch lit by Patrick Pearse”
This is why we wont yet see strong action taken against the Real IRA. Newly respectable Sinn Fein and long respectable parties in the Republic might well look at the Real IRA and see only an unwelcome, distant, grubby and deluded cousin, but they see a cousin all the same.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Would they have?
You may be one of those people, like me, who always tries to sneak a look at someone’s library, record or DVD collection when you visit their home. Perhaps the shelves are a window on the soul?
In October last year Nick Clegg told Desert Island Discs that his book choice would be The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa. By then Clegg’s popularity had plunged from the heady heights of the pre election TV debates in April to somewhere lower than a snakes waistcoat. What does Clegg’s choice of The Leopard tell us about the man who is one of the most controversial figures in Britain? And how useful is this sort of analysis?
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Sunday, April 24, 2011
As if by magic
The following joke is currently doing the rounds on the 'Keep spending' circuit
“A banker, a Daily Mail reader and a benefit claimant are sitting around a table. There are 12 biscuits in the middle of the table. The banker takes 11, and then says to the Daily Mail reader, "Watch out for that bloke, he's after your biscuit!”
All very amusing no doubt but you might have found yourself asking ‘How did the biscuits get there?’
This joke reveals alot about the economic attitudes of those who make it. Wealth is just assumed to arrive out of nowhere. It isn't even a given, it just appears as if by magic. It focuses on how wealth is divided, saying nothing about how it is generated.
And that is the crucial question. There can be no debate, no debate at all, about how to divide up national wealth until there is a clear idea of where that wealth will come from.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
More than a storm in a tea cup
Just after the Presidential election of 1972 Pauline Kael, a critic for the New Yorker, is reputed to have said “I can’t believe that Richard Nixon won. I don’t know anyone who voted for him”. Given that Nixon had just won by a 23% margin and 18 million clear votes, the widest margin in the history of presidential elections, you have to wonder who Kael had been talking to.
The success of the Tea Party movement in a little over two years has been just as spectacular as Nixon’s. They have energised a Republican party which was moribund in 2008 and helped them take control of the House, bring the Senate near balance, and sweep up governors mansions and seats in state legislatures across the country. Incredibly, the Republicans now have a good shot at winning back the White House in 2012.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Things just aren’t working out for Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor. Over the past year or so he has consistently pointed across the Atlantic Ocean to the United States for proof that the George Osborne’s fiscal restraint is unnecessary and dangerous.
A massive hole was blown in that argument last week when President Obama unveiled a plan to cut the US deficit at a faster rate than the UK, 2% per year as opposed to 1.6%. Understandably, George Osborne was crowing; “It reinforces the point that Labour are entirely isolated in the international community...That has left them in no-man’s land”
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011
"To say the stuff I do take balls this big"
In September last year left wing American journalist Max Blumenthal wrote on openDemocracy that
“Members of the Tea Party "Patriots" did not seem to care that their rhetoric was irrational, or that comparing Obama to Hitler and Stalin was contradictory and obviously hyperbolic”
In the same article he wrote
“The seemingly incongruous Tea Party propaganda recalled signs waved by right-wing Jewish settlers during rallies against Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and his support of the peace process, portraying him as an SS officer and as the French collaborator Marshall Pétain. In 1995, amid this provocative atmosphere, a young right-wing Jewish zealot assassinated Rabin. The Israeli tragedy was a cautionary example of targeted hatred leading to violence.”
Friday, April 15, 2011
This week the ever amusing Labourlist.org tried to cite the cutting of funding for English for speakers of other languages (Esol) courses while David Cameron is urging immigrants to learn English as evidence of his hypocrisy.
Labour still dont seem to have grasped that, just because something ought to happen, it doesn’t automatically follow that the government ought to pay for it.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
"Calm down, calm down"
David Cameron is capable of saying some very silly things. He was at it again earlier this week when he branded Oxford University, his alma mater, a disgrace for only accepting one black student last year. It was doubly silly in fact. First, it wasn’t actually true. Secondly, the problem isn’t some sort of racism on the part of the dons but the total failure of the comprehensive education system.
He is also capable of saying some very accurate things and in his statements on multiculturalism and immigration he has been not only wise but quite brave too.
Back in February Cameron joined the ranks of European leaders to announce the death of ‘multiculturalism’. Like Sarkozy and Merkel he was right to do so, multiculturalism has failed. This isn't the same as saying multiracialism has failed, it clearly hasn't, but you'd never know to listen to some of the reactions to Cameron's remarks.
The left believes in multiculturalism because it doesn’t believe, with notable exceptions like George Orwell, that culture itself is anything special. According to Marx all society was just a manifestation of the social relations generated by prevailing economic relationships, a social superstructure erected on the economic substructure to borrow his terminology. It followed from this that as these economic relations changed so the culture would change; there was nothing immutably valuable about culture itself.
The Labour party rightly pays little lip service to the crank doctrines of Marxism today. But you can see a very definite economism at work in their belief that there is no problem which cannot be solved by the liberal application of a bit cash. To the left the answer to every social problem is financial, or economic. Though they don’t put it in these terms any more, they still believe that the substructure wags the superstructure.
So if culture was a trifling matter then having multi cultures was nothing to be worried about. This allowed Labour to fling the UK’s doors open which also had the handy result for them that many of these immigrants tended to vote for them. They were importing voters.
The problem is that culture does matter. It evolves to facilitate communication, becoming a standard stock of norms of thought, speech and behaviour. It does this based on a host of factors besides economic relations. Culture is far more complex and important than the left believe.
The result is that cultures haven’t dissolved when placed next to other by mass immigration, they have persisted and cultures haven’t integrated. Rather they have settled into separate but parallel existences with minimal contact with each other.
This was encouraged by another favourite tool of the left, identity politics. This emerged in the 1960’s and 1970’s when the left realised that the working class, its traditional support, was deserting it. It responded by hanging its hat on a constellation of groups based around disability, religion, sexuality and race. By chopping up society into interest groups, each with an interlocutor, the left fostered division.
Cameron was totally correct that multiculturalism had failed. Predictably the left responded in the way it does when anyone tries to discuss an issue which the British public are so concerned about; it screamed ‘Racist!’, ignoring the fact that it’s entirely possible for different ethnicities to share a common culture.
Now Cameron has gone and said something accurate and brave again. In a speech today he will say that mass immigration has “created a kind of discomfort and disjointedness in some neighbourhoods” and “placed real pressures on communities up and down the country”. That this is self evidently true wont stop some from trying to paint him as the Grand Wizard of the Whitney Ku Klux Klan which to the left is almost as bad as the Bullingdon Club. Almost.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
"We must stop meeting like this"
A year after being called a 'bigoted woman' by Gordon Brown and dealing a massive blow to Labour's reelection chances Gillian Duffy faced off with Nick Clegg yesterday.
Rochdale is a long way from Westminster yet it seems Mrs Duffy cant walk to the shops without bumping into the leader of a political party. Of course, it helps that she was driven there by a local Labour party activist in a scheme dreamed up by local Labour MP Simon Danczuk who, one suspects, can expect a telling off from Ed Miliband, admittedly not a terrifying prospect.
Why so? Well, as wheezes go this one backfired badly. Whereas Brown was unpleasant and anti social and didn't like people very much, Nick Clegg is quite a nice chap and was perfectly polite to Ms Duffy, even if calling her 'Gillian' was a bit over familiar. When faced with a woman of clearly limited intelligence who insisted on asking him the same question he'd just answered, Clegg showed admirable coolness in the face of a pretty obvious set up. Still, with the practice he's had you'd expect him to be cool under fire.
But something of interest emerged from the meeting and that was Labour's attitude towards Mrs Duffy and people like her. The lesson of 'Bigotgate' was that the Labour party is run by people who don't like Labour voters very much. The open door immigration policy operated by the last Labour government was, no doubt, a boon for the likes of husband and wife Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper who could get a nanny on the cheap. And besides, how many immigrants could afford to live in Highgate? Surely, as they looked out of their bedroom at their neighbours million pound houses, they wondered what all the 'immigration' fuss was about.
It was rather different for the low paid people who traditionally make up Labour's support. They faced competition for low skilled jobs and saw stagnant wages as a result. They saw their public services stretched to breaking point. They saw their communities change beyond recognition. And when Mrs Duffy dared to question the leader of the workingman's party about all this she was called 'bigoted'.
And Labour haven't changed. When David Cameron made a perfectly sensible speech on the failure of 'state multiculturalism' Sadiq Khan popped up to accuse him of "writing propaganda for the EDL". When the coalition put forward the well intentioned but probably ineffectual immigration cap, Labour suggested sticking to their failed old policy.
For all the schmoozing of Mrs Duffy Labour have been doing it is all totally false. They don't care about her issues and they probably think she is a nutcase. Using her for the failed ambush of Clegg is a low and cynical political stunt.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
"Don't blame me, I voted for 10.9% spending cuts as opposed to 12%"
One of the most common arguments put forward by the Keep Spending Brigade is that there is no mandate for these cuts. This is as false as anything else they put forward.
Leave aside any consideration of how a representative democracy, such as ours, works. Leave aside also any worries about what is meant by a 'mandate', a deceptively elastic term on the left. Just look at the numbers.
Between them the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democratic parties got 88% of the vote at the last election. Few ever doubt that the average Conservative voter is behind the coalitions plan to regain control of our nations finances so that's 36% of voters supporting the governments efforts to reign in the deficit. That’s a large way towards a mandate in anyone’s book.
Then there’s the rest of the 88%, the 23% who voted Liberal Democrat and the 29% who voted Labour. Surely the Lib Dems didn’t vote for this fiscal program?
Well if they read the Liberal Democrat manifesto then yes, they did. Once upon a time the Lib Dems were the party of public spending restraint, Nick Clegg, at the height of Cleggmania, warning “There is this big black hole in the public finances” and telling off other parties for “kidding people” and “failing to show candour” about the scale of the problem. Among other things the Liberal Democrat manifesto pledged to cut tax credits, winter fuel payments to pensioners and child trust funds. Vince Cable, at the time St Vince, warned that this wouldn’t be all, “There is more to be done. I fully appreciate this isn't enough. We have to go beyond that”.
So yes, Liberal Democrats did vote for this fiscal program and we can add their 23% of the vote to the Conservatives 36% to get us 59%. That’s a pretty good mandate but we can do even better.
Labour’s economic policy is currently a total void. But, back in 2010, they had a Chancellor in Alistair Darling who wasn’t, in Labour terms, totally useless. He managed to reign in some of Brown’s scorched earth fiscal impulses and had a plan to cut the deficit.
Darling’s plan involved lots of spending cuts. When he was asked a few weeks before the election “The Treasury's own figures suggest deeper, tougher than Thatcher's - do you accept that?” Darling replied “They will be deeper and tougher”. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, this plan, which Ed Balls rejected, then accepted, now, perhaps, is rejecting again, would have seen a Labour government cutting spending by a Snowden-esque 10.9% this fiscal year. The coalition cuts on the other hand, which Labour never cease to tell us are “too fast and too deep”, amount to 12% this fiscal year.
10.9% and 12%, there’s not much of a difference. I think we can put the people who voted Labour in 2010, voted, that is, for “deeper and tougher” cuts than Margaret Thatcher ever made, into our mandate for austerity group giving us the 88%. Now that’s what I call a mandate.
Monday, April 11, 2011
My dad sent this in to a national newspaper. It didnt get printed so I thought Id give it an airing
I hope you will permit me to take issue with the views expressed by R. Bunting in your Letters column of 6 April, in which he said, "The real division in Britain is between those who believe in 'profit before people' and those who think 'people before profit' is how the country should be run."
It is a mantra of the left that there is somehow a choice to be made between people and profits, and it is one that reveals the stupidity of those who chant it. If, like me, you have worked in the private sector all your life, you will realise that job security and future pension prospects are absolutely dependent on the profitability of the company that employs you. Loss-making companies go bust and jobs go with them.
If you work in the public sector it is worth pausing to reflect that the tax revenues that pay for your job, and your final-salary pension scheme, come from taxes on company profits. Loss-making companies have nothing to tax.
Mr Bunting is in error in blaming our troubles solely on the banks. The Brown-Balls policy of hosing the public sector with borrowed money did that, though some banks subsequently gave an extra twist to the knife.
It is essential for the future of our country and its inhabitants that we all realise that our very survival depends on the profits made by the businesses of this country, large and small. A belief that money comes from the tooth fairy and a fondness for repeating adult nursery rhymes will only drive us deeper into the hole we have been dumped in.
Saturday, April 09, 2011
When Maggie ruled the world
That “Thatcher’s children” is still a term of abuse shows how Margaret Thatcher and the decade she dominated are still relevant. Conjured up by Eds Miliband and Izzard ‘Thatcher’ is shorthand for greed and destructive selfishness.
But there’s a problem. If it was all so bad and she was so awful how did she win every one of the three elections she fought with large majorities? How did she win such impressive numbers of working class votes? Who on earth voted for her?
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Friday, April 08, 2011
Ah, Mr Osborne, vee haff been expectink you
Opponents of the coalition government’s plans to cap the growth in the national debt to a still pretty massive 15% this parliament often cite the support of “some of the world’s most distinguished Nobel Prize winning economists”. When you hear that phrase you know that the names Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz are scaling the walls of the conversation.
However, neither of these won their Nobels for their work in fiscal policy or economic stabilisation. Krugman won his for his (excellent) work on international trade and Stiglitz got his for his work on information asymmetries. All interesting stuff and both men should be listened to, but popping out the Nobels like they’re some sort of killer Top Trump just doesn’t wash.
Put it this way; the fact that Paul McCartney wrote Hey Jude doesn’t make Mull of Kintyre a good record.
Wednesday, April 06, 2011
"It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt" - Abraham Lincoln's advice to Johann Hari
“The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant”, Ronald Reagan once said, “it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so”. If we forgive the Gipper for his misuse of the ‘L’ word, we can see the truth in his remark. Nowhere do we see it more clearly than in the writings of Johann Hari, a man who doesn’t let his complete ignorance of economics prevent him from spouting off about it.
He was at it again last week when he called the idea that government borrowing of £450 million per day was anything to get worried about ‘The biggest lie in British politics’. He revealed an ignorance of history to match that of economics.
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