England's Sword 2.0

Friday, May 31, 2002

Dailypundit moves

As the Blogosphere shifts slightly, William Quick has become the latest to move. "DailyPundit can now be linked directly at, but after DNS settles down, http://dailypundit.com should take you right there. (That URL is
already working for some folks)," says Bill. The link on the left should work again in a few days.


I was going to say something about Paul Gottfried's Spectator article but Tom Burroughes of Libertarian Samizdata has got there first. I don't disagree with a word.

And the crowd goes wild

Magnificent news in the opening game of the World Cup: France 0-1 Senegal. I'm not celebrating simply because of ancient rivalries, but also because, assuming England come second in their group behind the Argies, they will have to face the winners of France's group. Denmark have a tidy little side, with the best goalkeeper in Europe (hem hem), so I think they'll think they've got a good chance of topping the group now. Good news for England.

Now watch us go on and beat Argentina and top the group, and have to play France anyway...

New column out

My latest UPI column is out. You can read Recent research suggests ... here.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

More on drugs in South London

Here's a link to the official police evaluation of the experiment (PDF version). It's remarkably complacent, for the following reasons:

1. The release of officers' time could have been acheived by a reduction in bureaucracy or by delegating most of these tasks to civilian personnel.

2. Drug trafficking increased when it fell in adjoining boroughs (did all the pusher move to Lambeth?)

3. Police officers' failure to return questionnaires is dismissed as proof that they have no serious concerns. More likely it is a clear sign of a demoralized police force that feels it has no power over what goes on.

This all tends to point towards this being a policy railroaded through against the wishes of local policemen and local residents. Dreadful.

Jeffersonian Tolkein?

The chaps at Libertarian Samizdata have found a magnificent quote from LOTR:

[Sauron] is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and take his place. That we should wish to cast him down and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his mind.

Doing away with tyrants entirely rather than replacing one with the possibility of another -- how Jeffersonian can you get? Yet Tolkein was speaking with the voice of old England, not revolutionary America. Those who claim that America invented these ideas, or is a land full of the descendents of the only people who cared about them, should take another look at that sentence. It is quintessentially English. I hope Peter Jackson gives it its rightful place in his upcoming version of The Two Towers.

Back in Lambeth

Back in my old stamping ground of Lambeth, relaxed drugs laws aren't helping. They're currently trying to spin the idea that the relaxation has contributed to a decrease in crime, despite the fact that this decrease seems tied perfectly to an increase in policing since crime spiralled out of control in the first few months of 2002 (when that happened, different observations were made and Rudy Giuliani had to state the obvious, because no-one in London dared to).

Anyway, the Telegraph story, which I missed when it first came out, gets the point exactly right:

In the community centre of the Stockwell Park Estate [I used to live three minutes walk away from this notorious project - ed.], Julie Fawcett has seen at first hand the effects of leniency. "I have kids coming in here high on skunk [a particularly potent form of genetically engineered marijuana] and it makes them psychotic. They smoke it in their lunch hours and you can't tell them to stop it because they say 'the police don't mind'. What do you say to that?"

Ms Fawcett, whose office still bears the blackened mark of an arson attack, believes that legalisation is a middle-class project got up by people who do not understand the effects it has on the ordinary people who live on her estate. "This is a middle-class agenda from people who may smoke their dope responsibly. They don't buy from the dealers on the street who run everything here. The police have basically given up."

Precisely. This is a middle-class agenda driven by the fact that investment bankers don't want precious little Tarquin, with his First in Eng Lit, to get a police record because he started puffing away at Eton or Cambridge. As with assaults on the family, education and the legal system generally, it's the working class that suffers, far more than they suffered from the status quo ante.

Comrades, come running

My grandfather's favorite newspaper is back and on-line. The Morning Star is the Marxist daily that was once financed by Moscow, but now seems to have started up again independently. I'm glad. I'm also told that the paper has an excellent editorial today about how bad the EU's Common Fisheries Policy is. Sadly, they haven't updated the editorial links recently. Still, it's nice to have the descendent of The Daily Worker around.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Postmodern Problems

Jim Bennett's latest column looks at the future of NATO following the President's speech in Berlin:

While accepting a modest vision of what a continued NATO might achieve, America would do well to begin constructing alternative structures for defense collaboration with nations that wish to cooperate, like Canada, on a modernist and sovereignist basis. For a roster of who else might fit into such a structure, we could do worse than look at who is fighting on the ground with us in Afghanistan, particularly Britain and Australia. Australia is another nation with a postmodernist intellectual class and a modernist population; its recent actions in dealing decisively on the asylum issue were as fully supported by the general population as they were furiously protested by the intellectual elites.

Bush was not wrong to give one more performance of the old show in Berlin; that is a theater for old shows. Soon, however, other stages will call for new plays, with bringing together veterans of other shows in other places, with a few old faces as well.

As I've said before, I think the current NATO arrangements are a step along the way to dropping the vitually useless (in both senses -- they provide nothing of use, and think they have no real use for the alliance any more) continental European members, and creating an Anglo-Russo-American alliance (thanks to all those who visited from SF god Jerry Pournelle's site when I compared this to his far-sighted CoDominion idea some days back).

Founding Brothers, Confounding Ways

I watched the History Channel's documentary Founding Brothers in once long sweep last night, having recorded it on Monday so as not to miss the wrestling (one of my guilty pleasures about America). In some ways it was not so much the story of a group of men as "The Triumph of Thomas Jefferson," seeming to tell the stories of Washington, Adams, Hamilton and Madison (the last particularly so) only in so far as they intersected with Jefferson's career. Jefferson's character did not come out of the series well, although in the end its focus was the triumph of the Republicans and the defeat of Federalism, a triumph which seemed to meet with grudging approval as having made America what it is today.

Jefferson is a complex character, and the show concentrated on his dirty dealings, hypocrisies (they gave complete credence to the doubtful claims about his involvement with Sally Hemings, saying he enslaved his own children) and other flaws as much as on his ideals. They made much of his falling out with Adams, but gave very little time to the equally significant quarrels between Adams and Hamilton. Hamilton's vast character flaws were given far less time than Jefferson's. Adams' own partisanship was glossed over; the appointment of the "midnight judges," including John Marshall, was not even mentioned, despite its significant impact on American history. Overall, I was not impressed by the balance of the series, although I enjoyed it immensely.

But it has made me think more about TJ, a personal hero of mine. I am more impressed than ever by the way he put his single-minded pursuit of principle above all other considerations. If friends posed a danger to the nation, he dropped them. If the political colossus that awed every other politician of the day opposed his views, he did not shirk from trying to undermine that colossus. That principle -- that the new nation was something different, and must not be allowed to be steered towards the old, failed, flawed model -- was more important than anything. From what I know of the Federalists, I think it quite possible that they could have trod the path so many Republicans (since ancient times) had trod before, putting personalities and effectiveness before constitutionality. It may not have been Washington or Adams (although it may well have been Hamilton), but their successors if the party had survived could have gone that way. Jefferson's opposition, helped by Madison, may well have thwarted this possibility. America should be grateful that he considered principle so important that he did what he did.

Further, it struck me how Roman Jefferson was. I must look into his writings to see whether he realized quite how much his political ways owed to the politics of the Roman Republic. The combination of high principle with political shenanigans such as even the British Liberal Democrats would never stoop to is very Roman. You see it in all the letters of Cicero (another hero of mine, with whom Jefferson shares the problem that we know more about him from his voluminous correspondence than we do any of his contemporaries, warts and all) and in all that we know about the Trimuvirate and their opponents. Jefferson must have seen from the example of the Roman Republic, as well as that of the English Commonwealth, how republics can be corrupted into the rule of one man -- monarchy -- and must have learnt that Roman-style ruthlessness was the only way to prevent that happening. If that meant some decent chaps got knifed, then so be it. Furthermore, if the historians had bothered to read some ancient history, they would know that the simple yet comfortable style Jefferson adopted was very Roman. Rough clothes and fine wine were not seen as incompatible by the ancients.

Jefferson got what he wanted, and America needed. Churchill acted similarly for Britain. I'm glad both of them acted the way they did, and they remain heroes of mine.

Finally, didn't serial liar Joseph Ellis look very uncomfortable in that tie?

Whey, man

Who would have thought I'd see Washington Post doyen E.J. Dionne writing about my home town, South Shields? Well, actually, he's writing about its MP, David Miliband, and his ideas for Reinventing The Third Way. This is a particularly interesting quote:

"Third Way triangulation," he said in an interview last week, "is much better suited to insurgency than incumbency. 'Not-this, not-that' is a very good way of throwing out a right-wing government. But it's not a long-term prospectus for changing your country."

Miliband has just been promoted to Schools Minister -- an almost unprecedented leap straight to Minister of State level for one so young. I wonder what non-Third Way, positive ideas he'll bring to the job, and whether any of them will be US-inspired?

Gove's Think Tank

Michael Gove is the Director of Policy Exchange, a new "think tank" dedicated to new ideas for the Centre-Right in the UK. This deserves watching...

Loose cannons and gay pubs

For those of you who are interested, here's the BBC's Cabinet reshuffle at-a-glance. Here's some personal insights into the sub-cabinet appointments.

My contacts in the local government parts of what was DTLR tell me that Lord Falconer was the biggest loose cannon they have ever seen. He also presided over the dome fiasco. He's now going to be in charge of criminal justice, alongside David "Civil liberties -- what are they?" Blunkett. *Shudder*

Meanwhile, Stephen Twigg has been promoted to be an Education Minister. I knew Stephen quite well when I was an election superviser for a student election he was standing in. He's a very nice chap. I last saw him when I bumped into him in a gay pub in Hampsted (don't ask -- it was a Dreadful Pub Crawl) and he was as warm and friendly as ever. I wish him well in his Ministerial career.

Insert Jim Bennett quote here

Thanks to the redoubtable Junius for this one. As long-time readers know, I think that the New Statesman occasionally has flashes of genius among all its dross. This isn't quite a flash of genius, but John Lloyd's article on the death of multiculturalism is still damned good. It points out how America has been, far from the hotbed of racism Europeans seem to think it is, the most successful democracy at integrating large numbers of minorities:

The war against terrorism is a further aid to this, as it widens the distance between, on the one hand, Americans of all backgrounds and, on the other, the movements and groups with which radical African-Americans had once claimed the kinship of mutual oppression. Radical black groups were the cutting edge of the American multicultural moment, insisting on the right, even the duty, of black Americans to promote their separate culture (however that might be defined). Now, black Americans - after many decades of prejudice, and despite the poverty in which many of them still live - are able to conduct the same intricate negotiation with the rest of US society and its power structures as other groups that have successfully retained an ethnic identity. Middle-class blacks are both using and losing their separateness in order to climb up society's ladders, to enrich themselves and to pass on their wealth and position to their children - as did the Irish, Italian, Jewish and other elites. Shorn of its most active support outside the academy (where it has become a subject), extreme multiculturalism is withering on the vine.

Lloyd could go further, by pointing out the role that resistance to cultural integration played in creating the black underclass (or, rather, the use of said class as an experiment by bourgeois liberals in foisting their anti-cultural beliefs on them), but I think he's made his point. Britain is also in pretty good shape:

The British governing classes have been willing to accommodate cultural exceptionalism in many ways - exempting Sikhs from wearing motorcycle helmets; allowing Jews and Muslims to kill conscious animals; acknowledging (now) that Muslims, like people of other faiths, should have their own state schools. But that is as far as it will go for a while. "Liberalism" - rather more hard-edged and unillusioned than in the 1960s - is back. David Blunkett, who articulates the view of the council estates best, as he came from one, has made it clear that citizenship, learning the English language and adherence to the law and cultural norms will now be more explicitly expected of communities that still define themselves as culturally or religiously apart from the indigenous one (white, brown or black). This month, the police got new guidelines on forced marriages which stress that these are not simply a faster version of arranged marriages, and that the possible consequences - assault, rape, kidnap - are no less crimes because committed within a family. A recent ICM poll for BBC News Online showed that, even though most people think that race relations have improved in the past ten years, they also think that immigration has had a negative effect - further ammunition for those who believe that multiculturalism, which pinpoints the indigenous community as the problem, can damage race relations.

With the rise of multiculturalism to a position of dominance in our value system, we were teetering on the verge of a vast abyss. The progressives wanted us to take a giant step forward. Thankfully, the silver lining of 9/11 is that sensible people of all political persuasions are taking a step back instead.

PS For those who don't know, the Jim Bennett quote is "Democracy, immigration, multiculturalism -- pick any two".

Darling Darling

Tony Blair has reshuffled his government following Stephen Byers' resignation (which, as Iain Dale has pointed out, buried the news that they had to give away the Millennium Dome). Alistair Darling is the new Transport Secretary and Paul Boateng is Britain's first Black Cabinet Minister. I've never been a fan of Boateng's politics, but I've met him and very much liked him as a person. Well done, Paul.

The most interesting thing about all this is that labour has finally admitted that Transport is an important issue that deserves its own Secretary of State. When they came to power, they amalgamated Transport into one Department with Environment and Regional Government. Then they split off Environment. Now they've split off the local issues, which are going to the Deputy Prime Minister's Office, leaving Transport on its own again. Good. As long as central government is going to take on responsibility for getting people to work, it deserves a place among the great public service offices of state. Whether it should have that responsibility is another matter, but taking that as a given the issue is too important to have its Minister sidetracked by other, unrelated issues.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002


Like Charles Murtaugh, I couldn't finish reading the New York Times' article on the last words of those who died in the World Trade Center. Josh Chafetz has a summary, with heartfelt commentary, at OxBlog.

Dispatch from the Trenches

Dan Hannan MEP is happy to send out an occasional briefing on his experiences in the European Parliament to anyone who is interested. Here's an excerpt from his lates, entitled "an ordinary week in Brussels":

Here is a selection of some of the things being pushed through the European Parliament this week. None is especially momentous. None is big enough, on its own, to make much of a stir. But, taken collectively, they give a pretty good indication of the direction in which the EU is going.

Report on the Future Development of Europol

Europol is described by the European Parliament as "the embryonic federal European police force". It is intended to evolve into a kind of European FBI, dealing with major crimes while leaving the lesser offences to the national constabularies. To this end, the report proposes to make it directly accountable to the European Parliament, and to incorporate its funding into the EU budget, thus removing it completely from the control of the nation-states.

Report on Corporate Social Responsibility

Here is yet another attempt to regulate businesses, so that their mission is "broader than only making profits". In particular, firms are ordered to "maintain a gender balance, not only in Europe, but in third world countries where they have branches", and to allow a whole clutch of busybody pressure groups to regulate whether they are trading ethically, maintaining a proper work-life balance and so on.

Recommendation on a Single Electoral Method

In a separate report, the European Parliament reiterates its demand for a uniform voting system for European elections. It wants all countries to operate on the basis of party list proportional representation, and to hold their elections on the same day (which would mean moving the UK election from Thursday to Sunday). It also demands equal numbers of men and women on the party lists, and calls for 10 per cent of MEPs to be elected from a single pan-European list. This would obviously disqualify parties, such as the British Conservatives, who do not contest elections on a trans-national manifesto.

Division of Powers

The Parliament is setting out its stall for the proposed European Constitution. It wants to endow the EU with legal personality, opening the way to EU representation at the United Nations and on other international bodies. It also calls for the "communitarisation" of justice and home affairs and of foreign policy – that is, an end to the current intergovernmental approach in those areas.

This is, if anything, a light legislative week. Yet, day after day, the European Parliament is adopting a series of harmonising measures which barely make the news in the member countries. So much for Tony Blair’s fond notion that "Europe is coming our way".

My spine shivered when I read that. This is all about the agglomeration of power by a certain class. Let no-one pretend otherwise.

Silent strategy

Michael Gove gets it right again in this analysis of the Tories' current strategy:

Since the last general election the Tories have learnt to listen, and adopted a strategy appropriate to reality. They recognise that the biggest challenge facing the nation is the need to improve health, education, transport and crime-fighting. They identify the biggest impediment to reform as the impulse to centralise, regulate and second-guess which is intrinsic to Labour. And they emphasise that while all of us lose out as a consequence of public sector failure, with the middle classes forced to pay twice for many services, the biggest losers are the most vulnerable.

By concentrating on this strategy the Tories align themselves with the majority, where elections are won. By declining to be drawn into other arguments, such as the euro, they display that focus on the real national interest which an aspirant government requires. Should a euro referendum be called, then the Tories are in a better position to argue, as is right, that it is a monumental distraction from the real issues Britain faces. And they come to the argument with greater credibility as a party which sees this issue in the round.

The Euro is an issue that goes beyond partisan politics, and it is vital that it is presented that way. Tory activists will not need the imprimatur of their party to campaign effectively when the referendum comes, and by the party keeping quiet the cause can more readily attract others. Barring a massive revival at the polls, this is the best way forward for the party and the country.

Extinct argument

My Tech Central Station column is up. It looks at the media's repeating of a claim by the UN that a quarter of the earth's mammal species face extinction in the next 30 years. Hogwash.

About bloody time, too

He's finally fallen on his sword. I'm placing a large wager on my belief that Peter Mandelson will be installed as his successor. The only way to keep that man down is to drive a stake through his heart.


I find myself asking the same question as I did on Friday. Thanks to Natalie and Peter for pointing to this one. The widow of a school principal killed by a machete-wielding pupil has been asked by the Probation Service to apologise to his killer. She upset the poor little lamb by pointing out his lack of remorse, thereby jeopardizing his chances of conning the probation board into letting him out early.

Meanwhile British judges have decided that the term "detained at Her Majesty's pleasure" has no meaning any more. I always thought the ability of Ministers to keep the most evil monsters in jail longer than their sentences was a useful one and a sign of flexibility in the system (given the fuss over its use in the cases of such vile beings as Myra Hindley, the chances of the power being abused are minimal, to my mind). The civil liberties of the victim are being sacrificed at the altar of the civil liberties of the wrong-doer. How often do we have to see this happen before we say enough is enough?

Friday, May 24, 2002

Happy Memorial Day

Going away for the holiday weekend, so I don't expect to post until Monday evening at the earliest. Have a great holiday.


Peter Briffa also has some things to say about the EU's attitude towards the free press, but what really made me splutter in disbelief was his link to this story:

A MAN who spent 11 years in jail for a murder he did not commit has been charged £37,000 for his stay.

The Home Office deducted the money from Michael O’Brien’s £650,000 compensation.

Officials claimed he was not entitled to the full amount because he did not pay living expenses while behind bars.

*cough* *splutter* What?!?

Then, to top it off, he links to this story, about a cop reprimanded by his bosses for chasing a thief.


INS horrors

Dr Frank is suffering from INS aftershock. I know what that's like. My sympathies to him and his spouse.

Europe: seething hotbed of anti-... er, Islamism

The pseudonymous Emmanuel Goldstein has an important post about an official EU report condemning the European press for causing anti-Muslim incidents. Are they doing a similar investigation into synagogue burnings? I need hardly ask.

4GW -- sounds like a wargames company to me...

The perceptive Joe Katzman has an interesting analysis on Winds of Change on the subject of America and Israel moving towards 4th Generation Warfare (4GW). I wonder if the reason Blair was so keen to get Brits into action in Afghanistan was partly in a desire to get experience of new planning strategies. Maybe, but I'd venture to suggest that there seems to be so much political interference in British military planning that we're going to get left behind whatever our experiences. I may ask some military types what they think of this.

Thursday, May 23, 2002


I haven't been covering the Kashmir situation because a) everyone else has and b) I haven't been following the news from there closely enough recently, but this Telegraph editorial, The proximity deterrent looks pretty accurate to me, assuming that one side or the other isn't crazy (for which, see Suman Palit).

Bush Bucks-up the Bundestag

President Bush's speech this morning was pretty to the point, if you ask me. I've posted the full text here. Some highlights:

Together, we oppose an enemy that thrives on violence and the grief of the innocent. The terrorist are defined by their hatreds: they hate democracy and tolerance and free expression and women and Jews and Christians and all Muslims who disagree with them. Others killed in the name of racial purity, or the class struggle. These enemies kill in the name of a false religious purity, perverting the faith they claim to hold. In this war we defend not just America or Europe; we are defending civilization itself.

The evil that has formed against us has been termed the 'new totalitarian threat.' The authors of terror are seeking nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Regimes that sponsor terror are developing these weapons and the missiles to deliver them. If these regimes and their terrorist allies were to perfect these capabilities, no inner voice of reason, no hint of conscience would prevent their use.

Wishful thinking might bring comfort, but not security. Call this a strategic challenge; call it, as I do, an axis of evil; call it by any name you choose -- but let us speak the truth. If we ignore this threat, we invite certain blackmail, and place million of our citizens in grave danger.

He made this point as well:

Those who despise human freedom will attack it on every continent. Those who seek missiles and terrible weapons are also familiar with the map of Europe. Like the threats of another era, this threat cannot be appeased or cannot be ignored. By being patient, relentless, and resolute, we will defeat the enemies of freedom.

He didn't quite say "Get the point, Fritz?" but in some ways I wish he had...

Better late than never...

My latest UPI column, Recent research suggests..., finally appears on the web...

Institutional Racism at the BBC?

Interesting article by the London correspondent of the Jerusalem Post in The Spectator. He alleges that the BBC is, to coin a phrase, institutionally anti-semitic:

In my judgment, the volume and intensity of this unchallenged diatribe has now transcended mere criticism of Israel. Hatred is in the air. Wittingly or not, I am convinced that the BBC has become the principal agent for reinfecting British society with the virus of anti-Semitism. And that is a game I am not willing to play, even if, as one BBC researcher recently assured me, my interview fee far exceeded that of my Arab opposite numbers (an outrageously racist point that I, a third-generation refugee and an exile from apartheid South Africa, found difficult to appreciate fully).

I am neither an apologist for the Israeli government nor a defender of its policies. I have been perfectly capable of taking a critical view of Israel when appearing on the BBC, whether it was the Israel of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak or Ariel Sharon. And I am not afraid of informed criticism from others. On the contrary, I believe that criticism is essential to the health of the democratic process (although I was always perplexed that Arab guests were treated with a kind of paternalism that never permitted hard questions).

I have a problem with the BBC’s propensity to select and spin the news in order to reduce a highly complex conflict to a monochromatic, single-dimensional comic cut-out, whose well-worn script features a relentlessly brutal, demonically evil Ariel Sharon and a plucky, bumbling, misunderstood Yasser Arafat, the benign Father of Palestine in need of a little TLC (plus $50 million a month) from the West.

But it was not just the lamentable standards of journalism. I parted company with the BBC over its hysterical advocacy of the most extreme Palestinian positions; an advocacy that has now transmogrified into a distorting hatred of a criminal Israel and, by extension, into a burgeoning hatred of Jews closer to home.

It is astonishing that little more than half a century after the Holocaust, the BBC, guardian of liberalism and political correctness, should provide the fertile seedbed for the return of ‘respectable’ anti-Semitism that finds expression not only in the smart salons of London but also, according to the experts who monitor such phenomena, across the entire political spectrum, uniting the far-Left with the Centre and far-Right.

I have a couple of problems with this analysis. One, I don't think the idea of institutional racism is useful. Not everyone at the Beeb is anti-Israeli. I've had friends who worked there, and could still be working there, who are in no way anti-Israeli. So it's silly to say there's something in the air there that foments anti-semitism. What's far more likely is that the BBC attracts a certain sort, who are likely to be anti-Israeli. Which is to say, a lot of idiots work at the BBC. There's lots of other evidence that this is the case (a private Beeb would have gone bust a long, long time ago).

Second, the author does pull the switcheroo from anti-Israeli to anti-Semite. Although a lot of people are both, there's still an important difference. Repugnance at Israeli politics does not make one a Jew-hater. It's a cheap and ugly trick to accuse someone who is upset by the restrictions the Israelis put on Palestinians drilling wells of anti-Semitism. The Beeb types do have a one-dimensional perspective of Israeli politics but I very much doubt that this translates to hating people because they are Jewish.

Nevertheless, the effect of what the Beeb is doing probably does contribute to anti-Semitism. Lord knows there are plenty of people in the UK who don't possess enough of the background to distinguish between Israel and Jews. That's where the BBC is doing Britain an apalling disservice. And once again, it's a function of the bourgeois imposing their views and values on the nation as a whole. It is not the role of the educated middle classes to filter news for the common man. Davis goes over the top in his analysis, but his conclusion is sound enough.

Redefining democracy

Meanwhile, the European Commission has made its formal proposals to the sham Constitutional Convention. Here's a particularly fun proposal:

While voluntary co-operation can achieve progress, the need for binding legislation on certain aspects should also be examined, such as the statute of immigrants within the European Union or a European regime for dealing with asylum seekers. All legislation on justice and home affairs should be proposed by the Commission, adopted by co-decision (Council and Parliament) and controlled by the Court of Justice.

In this context, Commissioner Vitorino recalled: "The constitutional architecture of the Union should be based upon the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This will guarantee the protection of democratic values and the individual rights of all residents in the Union".

So in order to protect democratic values, legislation is proposed by unelected bureaucrats, voted up or down by a combination of Ministers, who may or may not be elected, and by people elected by a party list system, then controlled by unelected judges.

Oh joy.

Europe: the Irish view

The National Platform for Democracy, Independence and Neutrality - Ireland is an odd organization. It's Ireland's premier organization for opposing European integration, and won a great victory when the people of Ireland rejected the Nice Treaty despite both major political parties supporting its approval. The Platform comprises a lot of decent people, but has links with Sinn Fein. Its slogan might as well be Jeff Davis' "We ask only that we be let alone".

Fair enough. One of its most important arguments is that neutrality is enshrined in the Irish Constitution, and that the Common Foreign & Defense Policy Signor Prodi is so keen on would contravene that requirement. Americans can appreciate that point of view.

Anyway, the Eurocrats are miffed that the Irish should be so nit-picky about their constitution and are demanding that Ireland exploit the central weakness of referenda and ask the question again, hoping for the right answer this time. One of their main points is that Nice is important for European enlargement. The National Platform have issued a statement that I think is worth quoting in full (its not on their website, which is being renovated). This is long, but I think it's useful to read as an example of what non-conservative, small state, neutral thinking is on the EU at the moment:


"A conclave of technocrats without a country responsible to no one" - French President Charles de Gaulle on the EU Commission.

* * *

The incoming Irish Government should "get down at once" to re-running the Nice Treaty referendum, Irish EU Comissioner David Byrne said on RTE's "Morning Ireland" this morning.

This statement comes a day after Mr Byrne put his name to the Commission's proposals to the EU Convention that the Commission become a quasi-government for Europe,the sole source of EU legislative proposals on economic policy, EU-wide taxes, foreign policy, and an EU frontier police and public prosecutor in an EU area of harmonised civil and criminal law.

(N.B. If the latter should come about - and big steps in this direction have been already taken - it would mean an end to trial-by-jury and "habeas corpus," as these pillars of the justice systems of the English-speaking world do not exist in the continental EU systems, which permit preventive detention and inquisitorial judges.)

Key elements of Irish civil society such as the Trade Unions, IBEC and the Churches must play their part to get Nice 2 ratified, Commissioner Byrne laid down on "Morning Ireland."

In assessing Commissioner Byrne's remarks one should bear in mind that the EU Commission, and Mr Byrne as one of its members, has a significant selfish vested interest in the ratification of the Nice Treaty. Nice's abolition of the national veto in some 30 policy areas means that the Commission becomes the sole proposer of EU law in these areas, which obviously increases its power.

Other Nice Treaty provisions have the effect of moving the Commission towards becoming a quasi-EU Government,an aspiration which Commission President Romano Prodi's proposals to the EU Convention yesterday puts further flesh and bones on.

These include the provision of the Nice Treaty that removes from national governments and prime ministers the final say in deciding who will be their national Commissioner. Under Nice this is to be done by majority Council of Minsters' vote, rather than unanimously as heretofore. Under Nice, Governments also lose their veto on the appointment of the Commission President, who will henceforth be able to shuffle and reshuffle Commissioners after their appointment, much as a national prime minister can shuffle a cabinet.

This replacement of unanimity by qualified majority vote will have the effect, if Nice is ratified, of ensuring that both the President of the
Commission and individual national Commissioners must be congenial from the outset to the qualified majority on the EU Council - which means effectively the EU's Big-State Members.

Couple these provisions of Nice with the Treaty's proposals for a rotating EU Commission in an enlarged EU, and the fact that the ultimate size of the Commission is still undecided, and one can see why former top Irish EU officials Eamon Gallagher and John Temple Lang told the Forum on Europe in Dublin Castle that Article 4 of the Nice Treaty's Protocol on EU Enlargement providing for rotating Commissioners, is "a serious flaw" in the Nice Treaty, and is in no way necessary to facilitate EU enlargement.

As Eamon Gallagher said there: "If the principle of one member of the Commission per Member State is given up now, you will not get it back later."

These are some of the reasons why all good Europeans and exponents of the European ideal should be pleased that the Nice Treaty was rejected by the Irish people last summer, for it gives the opportunity of deleting these objectionable proposals in a revised EU Treaty, or one that does not require a constitutional referendum in Ireland, before it is too late. Or else leaving the contentious issues of Nice to the 2004 grand constitutional EU Treaty now being discussed in the EU Convention.

On "Morning Ireland" also Commissioner Byrne repeated the canard that the Treaty of Nice is necessary for EU enlargement, despite the statement of his superior, Commission President Romano Prodi, last summer that "Legally,ratification of the Nice Treaty is not necessary for enlargement. It is without any problem up to 20 members, and those beyond 20 members have only to put in the accession agreement some notes of change, some clause. But legally, it's not necessary... from this specific point of view, enlargement is possible without Nice."

The FACTS about the relation between the Nice Treaty and EU enlargement are given in a letter in today's "Irish Times" from National Platform secretary Anthony Coughlan. This was written in reply to an article by UCD Jean Monnet Professor Brigid Laffan, in which she gave the same tendentious twist as Commissioner Byrne does to what the Nice Treaty is about.

This follows for your information:

Text of letter in today's "Irish Times" from National Platform secetary Anthony Coughlan:

Professor Brigid Laffan writes (15 May) that the Nice Treaty was negotiated to permit EU enlargement. How does she reconcile that statement with the following facts?

Nice replaces unanimity by qualified majority voting on the EU Council of Ministers in some 30 policy areas. These include the appointment of EU Commissioners, the funding of EU-wide political parties, international trade in services, the implementation of agreed foreign policy joint actions and common positions, and the rules of the EU Structural Funds. What have these to do with EU enlargement?

Nice abolishes the right of each Member State to have one of its nationals on the EU Commission in an enlarged EU. Former Irish EU officials Eamonn Gallagher and John Temple Lang have characterised this provision as "a serious flaw" in the Treaty and as in no way necessary for EU enlargement. They see it as a dangerous erosion of the legitimacy of the Commission as the guardian of the common EU interest, and particularly disadvantageous for small States like Ireland.

Nice permits the division of the EU into first-class and second-class members by permitting eight or more EU Members to "do their own thing" and to use the EU institutions for that purpose, even though the other Members disagree. Examples would be harmonising taxes among themselves or making the EU Court of Justice the final determinant of their citizens' human rights.

Eight out of 15, or eight out of 20, or eight out of a possible 27 in an enlarged EU. This ends the EU as a partnership of legal equals, in which each State has a veto on fundamental change. At present the other EU States cannot go ahead and agree special arrangements among themselves without Ireland's permission. These "enhanced cooperation" provisions of the Nice Treaty would allow them to do that in future.

It is these provisions which make up the new constitutional matter that requires a referendum in Ireland if Nice is to be ratified. There is no need for us to change our Constitution to permit EU enlargement, anymore than we had to hold referendums on previous enlargements.

These provisions for what would effectively become a two-tier three-tier EU are not necessary for enlargement. They were brought into the Treaty negotiations by France and Germany at the Feira EU Summit after the Intergovernmental Conference(IGC) to consider the implications of enlargement had been set up. Their political purpose is to enable the Big States, Germany and France in particular, to establish an inner directorate in an enlarged EU, which can then confront the rest with continual political and economic faits accomplis. They provide the legal path towards what M. Jacques Delors called for in 2000: "A Union for the enlarged Europe
and a Federation for the avant-garde."

Nice militarizes the EU in a new way by making the EU directly responsible for the first time for the 60,000-soldier "Rapid Reaction Force" and the associated EU Military Committee and EU Military Staff, instead of using the Western European Union as the agent of the EU in military matters, as was previously the case. Again, what has this to do with EU enlargement?

The Treaty of Amsterdam says that if the EU enlarges by even one State, the Big States will lose one of the two Commissioners each now has, but will be compensated by increasing their relative voting weight on the Council of Ministers OR by taking their population size into account in such votes. That does not require a further EU Treaty. It is why Commission President Prodi told the Irish Times last June that "enlargement is possible without Nice," and that the EU can be enlarged by 10 or more Applicant countries on the basis of their individual Accession Treaties, as happened with previous enlargements.

Nice BOTH increases the relative voting weight of the Big States AND introduces a population criterion for Council votes from January 2005, irrespective of whether EU enlargement has occurred by then, and irrespective of the number of new Member States. The allocation of Council votes and Euro-Parliament Seats for the 12 Applicant countries is set out in a Declaration attached to the Nice Treaty as the common position of the 15 Members in their negotiations with the Applicants. This is not legally part of the Treaty proper. It was therefore not rejected by Ireland when we voted No to Nice last year. There is no reason why the Applicant countries
cannot join the EU on the basis of the proposals in this Declaration.

The logic of these facts would seem to be that the non-contentious parts of Nice should be put into another Treaty which does not require a constitutional referendum in Ireland. The contentious parts, such as the "enhanced cooperation" provisions, should be left to the Year 2004 Treaty now being discussed in the EU Convention, when the Applicant countries can have a say on them as full EU Members. May I suggest that this is the course the Government should insist on vis-à-vis its EU partners, if it is to do its constitutional duty in the light of last year's Nice referendum result.

Wednesday, May 22, 2002

A new definition of 'influence' we haven't heard before

Is the G7 about to beome the G4? It's often said that Britain has to be part of the EU to increase its global influence. How does that happen if you lose a pre-existing seat at a major international body, as the EC President is suggesting?

Signor Prodi will also raise the possibility of the Commission replacing individual governments as the European Union’s representative at major events such as the International Monetary Fund and the G7 meetings of leading industrialised nations.

As I've said before, the elephant in the living room here is the UN Security Council seats of Britain and France. I'm quite happy for France to give up its seat to the EU, but Britain must be firm on retaining our own influential positions at the UN, IMF and G7. Giving up our seat on the WTO was itself a step too far...

Don't expect much today

Had a busy morning and am swamped this afternoon. Hope to be back to normal tomorrow, though. In the meantime, be advised that Howard's Kesher Talk is moving to http://www.hfienberg.com/kesher -- I'll adjust my links when everything's sorted out there.

Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Empire of the Setting Sun

Michael Gove, meanwhile, does a great job comparing Europe to the declining Manchu Empire. He also focuses in on something Jim Bennett often says, that Europe is diverging from the rest (predominantly anglo) of western civilization:

it would be a misreading of Europe’s political elites to see these complaints as isolated gripes which can be overcome, one by one, through patient dialogue. Europe is not begging to differ in particulars, but beginning to diverge in fundamentals.

The current trajectory of European political development is driven by elites who, unlike America’s political leadership, find the moral burden of operating in a world of nation states too onerous. The direct accountability of parliaments is being supplanted by the closed power-broking of European bodies insulated from effective scrutiny.

Instead of upgrading national armies to meet new threats to national security, waning energies and limited resources are devoted to constructing administrative white elephants such as the European Rapid Reaction Force, which adds not a tank, soldier or bullet to the EU’s defence capability.

Instead of being able to project power against threats to our interests and values, Europe’s leaders seek to manage conflict through the international therapy of peace processes, the buying off of aggression with the danegeld of aid or the erection of a paper palisade of global law which the unscrupulous always punch through.

Europeans may convince themselves that these developments are the innovations of a continent in the van of progress, but they are really the withered autumn fruits of a civilisation in decline. Elites that shy away from electoral competition, demur at shouldering military responsibilities and temporise in the face of danger are destined for eclipse.

Why am I reminded of the final scenes of the Syndicate in The X Files, doomed and surrounded by the faceless aliens?

Blair on the Atlantic divide

Illuminating evidence in a Times interview with Tony Blair. He's desperately trying to keep both feet in both camps. I find it very interesting that he alleges that the personal links between national leaders are important. This is despite all the evidence of disconnects between the governing classes and the peoples of Europe, which also tend to show that it is the governing classes that are more anti-American than the peoples.I'll be interested to see how long Blair is able to play this game before it all gets too much for him.

Hep cats

I've got a piece up about the Newsweek silliness on Hepatitis C over at The American Enterprise Magazine Online today.

Rock on

Britain backs down over Gibraltar deal, but this is not a bad thing. It's actually a concession to the people of Gibraltar, who don't want to be Spanish, thank you very much. It looks like the despicable Foreign Office is going to have to let the people of Gibraltar have a veto over any plans to transfer sovereignty, and quite right too.

Of course, the right thing to do is to extend full British citizenship to the Gibraltarians. But that will never happen while the Foreign Office has a say in things.

This constant defense/foreign office divide has got me thinking. Didn't the two elements used to be the responsibility of one man, the Minister/Secretary for War? Perhaps the two could be helpfully combined again...

Left behind

Brendan O'Neill has an interesting post partially explaining why he doesn't call himself left wing any more. People who hold civil liberties dear are being forced out of the left. Curiously, the battle is much harder fought on the right, where the authos have lost quite a few skirmishes. A party that's proud to stand up always for the national interest and civil liberties should have a natural constituency throughout the anglosphere. It's odd that so few examples exist.

RIP Stephen Jay Gould

Famed Harvard Biologist Gould Dies. A shame he went so young. Like most popularizers of science -- from Magnus Pike in the UK to Carl Sagan here -- he often annoyed "real" scientists for oversimplifying. If you are to get people thinking about science, that's important. You don't get people interested in Latin by mentioning the subjunctive or ablative absolutes all the time. I liked Gould, and I'll miss him.

Blog Revolution

Hmmm. Instapundit has left blogspot. My archives have disappeared and it won't let me republish them at all(@!#$%^^&!!!). I've been thinking of leaving blogger for a while now, but have always thought "better the devil you know". Time to approach a pro hosting service instead of blogspot, at the very least, which I've also wanted to do for some time but have never been able to spare the cash required. A donation or two would be handy to speed this purpose along, hint hint...

Monday, May 20, 2002

Private Frazier?

Jeff Gedmin, former head of the New Atlantic Intitiative at the American Enterprise Institute and now head of the Aspen Institute in Berlin, says of NATO, The Alliance Is Doomed. This is an important article, whose conclusions will come as a shock to many still mired in the Cold War:

It's true the U.S.-EU relationship is one of convergence -- in commerce and trade. Economic interdependence is on the rise. But in the military-strategic realm, the divergence that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall continues at breakneck speed. NATO is now becoming an OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) with side-arms. Perhaps that's even okay. It can still play an important political role in Europe.

But the old alliance holds little promise of figuring prominently in U.S. global strategic thinking. That's why the administration's tactical doctrine, namely for the mission to define the coalition, makes sense. Sure, we still need allies for the long haul. The Eastern Europeans like us. The Turks and Israelis grasp the threat and spend for defense. The Brits do too -- and can help enormously if they guard their independence from Brussels in years to come. If the old alliance is gone, it's time to start building something new.

Quite right. Indeed, I wonder if the Britanno-American sponsoring of Russia into NATO's structure, if not membership, was implicit recognition of the new reality. NATO's second division members might get left behind as the Pournelle-esque Codominion of the US, UK and Russia takes over. If so, then British thinking is increasingly schizophrenic, unless Blair thinks he can keep one foot in each of the economic and defense camps. The recent flurry regarding the timing of the Euro referendum becomes clearer, but also more indicative of how deeply confused Blair is.

Per mare, per terram, per spinum

This Telegraph leader has it exactly right on the PR disaster that accompanied the Royal Marines' actions in Afghanistan. Churchill would never have got into such a mess, which just shows that spinning in wartime is different from spinning in peace.


Dan Hannan sees the point on the Anglosphere:

Mr Patten thinks he has the answer. "You can already feel the stirrings [of pro-European patriotism], perhaps, in the shared indignation at US steel protection," he writes. "You can feel it at the Ryder Cup, too." It is significant that the only two examples he can come up with are based on anti-Americanism. From his point of view, this may make tactical sense. Nations do indeed cohere when they perceive an external enemy. And there is a certain market for anti-Americanism even in this country. But I wonder whether long exile is beginning to distort Mr Patten's view of the British.

When truly important matters are at stake, we tend to sympathise most with the community of free English-speaking nations, the countries which have stuck by us in most conflicts from the First World War onwards.

No number of Ryder Cups can compete with the reality of cultural affinity, based on common legal and political traditions and, above all, on a shared language. Mr Patten shrewdly understands that a common EU identity will be facilitated by a sense of "them" and "us". But I suspect he will be disappointed by how the British define "us".

And for those in the Blogosphere who despise Chris Petain, err, Patten, here is some good news:

I see Mr Patten in Brussels from time to time, mooching around disconsolately. He seems somehow greyer and paunchier than when he arrived, and the bags under his eyes have spread. Not long ago, it was reported that he was "counting the hours" until the end of his term. I put it down to disillusionment. To a man like Mr Patten, a principled and idealistic European, the reality of the Brussels system must be hard to bear. Instead of finding himself among pioneers, working to transcend war and bring a new political order to the continent, he has found himself among some of the most stubborn and self-serving officials in Europe. Even his thoroughly uncontentious plans to make the EU's overseas aid programme less corrupt ran up against vested interests in the bureaucracy.

And yet he will still blame himself and the British, and the Americans, rather than face up to reality. He's not so much carrying a torch for Europe as an entire Nuremburg Rally.

Race for the cure

BBC Online has a major survey on Race in Britain. Some interesting results. A majority of whites think Britain is a racist society, but they also think immigration in the past 50 years has damaged Britain. I think the reverse is true in both cases. My suggestion is that the lack of any decent debate on multiculturalism and its effects has simply made white Brits believe that there is something wrong with them, and they are resentful of immigrants because of that. There's a psychological term for that, but I wish I could remember it. Whatever it is, it ain't healthy.

Left behind?

Tim Hames takes a cold hard look at two ideas of Peter Mandelson's -- that Labour must work closely with the Liberals because otherwise the Left is divided, and that the Euro is vitally necessary for Labour's success. Both ideas are hogwash, says Timbo, and in doing so he points out that the combination of the two is historically a road to ruin:

In every case [where a Leftish British government has split], it has been a foreign policy dispute (often ones with serious economic implications) that has torpedoed the Left in power. While the euro might bind parts of Labour and the Liberal Democrats closer, it would do so at the price of Labour’s own unity. The real lesson of political history is that it is not the division between the parties of the Left but division within the major party of the Left that is fundamental.

As I've mentioned many times before, I can see Labour splitting, and it will almost certainly be over a foreign policy issue (Iraq or the Euro). Those of us who think Labour's massive majority is one of the most dangerous things for Britain might therefore welcome Mr Mandelson's ideas...

Bennett on local government

Jim Bennett takes up the theme of English local government:

A more reasonable approach to decentralizing England would be to restore the traditional county boundaries and return more power to them. Although Britain never had a federal nature, much of the aggrandizement of central power and diminution of city and country authority happened only in the 20th century, and fairly late in that.

Americans tend to think of counties as small units, but in fact England's traditional counties would be considered large enough for self-government anywhere else in the Anglosphere. All but four of England's counties and independent cities are larger in population than the state of Wyoming; the Australian state of Tasmania is smaller than England's third-smallest county, Cumbria, and Canada's Prince Edward Island, a well-run province, is smaller than any English county.

Why don't England's conservatives just counter with a proposal that any traditional county could, by petition, hold a referendum to establish a local assembly with the same powers as Scotland's recently established legislature? If people felt the need for stronger local government, they could establish it without becoming part of a synthetic region such as "South-East England." Simple, well-understood and effective.

Quite right. Jim's comments fit right alongside Mark Steyn's in the latest Spectator. Mark makes a point that Tories should leap on as a new idea that has the virtue of being traditional:

At some conference a couple of years back, I suggested to an affable Tory quango baroness that the Conservatives should become the party of decentralisation. She thought this was ridiculous, but then she seemed to have a difficult time getting a handle on US federalism in general — she kept talking about ‘the American police’ and ‘the American education system’, neither of which exists in any meaningful sense. In America, power is vested in ‘We, the People’ and leased upwards, through town, county, state and federal government, in ever more limited doses. By the time you get to the organs of embryo world government like the International Criminal Court, Americans are inclined to feel that’s leasing it a little too far.

The trouble is that the Tories had to turn their back on decentralization and local power in order to fix the disfunctional British state in the 80s (provoked by people who "nationalized" local democracy, using local powers to fight national battles). As I've said before here, I think that was essential, but it should have been fixed. Local democracy should have been restored once the entryist foe was defeated. It wasn't, and that was the single biggest mistake of the Major years. If the Tories can recognize this, then they can help save England.

Friday, May 17, 2002

Well, they could take a print of two of my fingers...

An Italian-based correspondent e-mails this...

The Corriere della Sera today (15/5/02, pages 1 and 14) interviewed Berlusconi's Minister of the Interior (rough equivalent of Home Secretary) Signor Claudio Scajola, at the G8 summit in Canada. He said, "We must get to the point in Europe of bringing in a single passport, and we are nearly there. Also finger-prints on ID documents. The new identity card which we are planning together with Germany will have a space for finger prints." Question: "So, will everybody's finger-prints soon be taken?" Scajola: "In Berlin, with the German Interior Minister Otto Schily, we have created a working group which is planning a new identity card. A document which
amongst other characteristics will also a space for fingerprints, which must be taken from everyone, including the Italians [and presumably all EU inhabitants, - the British too?!]. But in the new ID card which we have already presented in Italy [presumably as a bill in the Italian Parliament] there is a chip embedded to store bio-metric data." [He goes on to say that this is to stop terrorists and illegal immigrants etc.]

Note: Can you imagine everybody queuing up at the police stations to have their finger-tips inked and pressed onto their cards... think of all the little old ladies smarting with indignation at being thus treated like criminals... what a vote-winner!!! :-o

Doubtless British EU-philes will say, "This will never happen, it is just the Italians and Germans talking, nothing has been officially presented, etc etc so go back to sleep." However, I would note that this is a case of two major EU governments, one of them centre-left, and the other centre-right, or more properly, far-right, which both see eye to eye on this issue. Somebody in Parliament ought to ask the British government if they agree with this, or if not, will they veto it if it is ever presented to the Council of Ministers? [Tories! Wakey waaakey!! there is a LOT of work to do. Just TELL the British people about these things.]

He goes on...

Question: At this G8 you talked a lot about controls on Internet: will the levels of control on the Net be raised? Scajola: "We must tackle the problem with the managers [service providers] of the Net because copies [of communciations] must remain within the system. either we insert the possibility of a certain control, with all due safeguards, or we will not be able to defeat major criminals and international terrorism. [And then there is a bit about setting up an international databank on child pornography.]

NOTE The Italian constitution does have a clause safeguarding the secrecy of correspondence (which jurisprudence has extended to telephone calls, which may not be tapped except on judicial order). This was not discussed in the paper however.


The same issue of the Corriere della Sera, today, reports (p.11) that the Director of RAI, the Italian state TV company, apologised for allowing a right-wing magazine to advertise itself on the network with a commercial exalting Benito Mussolini as a "great statesman". What is really sinister to my mind is that evidently the magazine editor thinks that by spending money on broadcasting these messages he will increase his sales. In fact the news-stands are full of magazines and video-cassettes all about the life and times of Mussolini. He is evidently back in fashion. This comes a couple of months after Italy's vice-premier, Gianfranco Fini, on being
appointed as official government representative for the EU convention which will write the "European Constitution" which they will then all want us to live under, said "Yes I know that when I was last in the government in 1994 I said that Mussolini was the world's greatest statesman, but I couldn't *say* that now..."


This appeared in Corriere della Sera last Thursday. Signor Paserman, chairman of the Rome Jewish community, some of whose relatives had been deported to extermination camps during the war, published an article in a major Italian paper saying that "Forza Nuova",(a group that is to the right of La Fiamma, a group that split away (to the right) from Fini's Alleanza Nazionale), was "pro-Nazi" and "advocated violence", as it undoubtedly does. One of its sympathisers was convicted for setting off a bomb in a left-wing newspaper office a couple of years ago.


The Mayor of Foggia, a town in the Italian South, who is a member of the government party Alleanza Nazionale, has asked the Prosecutor's Office to open criminal proceedings for war crimes against those responsible for the bombing of Foggia in 1943.

If by the time this gets taken up, the EU arrest warrant is in place, war-time RAF officers, who are still alive, had better look out! And those who were in the USAF had better avoid holidaying in the EU.

This comes after a public statement by Italian cabinet minister Mirko Tremaglia a couple of months ago, visiting El Alamein battle-site in North Africa, who said "It would have been much better if we [Germans and Italians] had won the battle, and the war!" Presumably this is the policy of Signor Berlusconi's government, since no couner-statement was forthcoming from his office on this matter.

Now where are all the Guardian editorials about the return of the Far Right when they're really needed?


This made me cry...

Assimilation problems

Another thoughtful Telegraph leader on what the success of the LPF in Holland means. It doesn't explicitly say it, but the undercurrent is that immigration is good if assimilation takes place. So far so good.

But assimilation into what? I've been reading Theodore Dalrymple's Life at the Bottom lately, a collection of his essays from the City Journal (if you read his Second Opinion column in the Speccie, you'll know what to expect). Dalrymple repeatedly makes the point that English culture today is so debased that it is no wonder that minorities refuse to assimilate. The gyrations David Blunkett went through when he realized that assimilation was important, but didn't know what he should advance as an example of British values, is an important illustration here (he eventually came up with 'tolerance").

Which brings me back to a recurring theme of this blog: education, education, education. The British need to teach their children about their island's history, and the values that drove the main acheivements of that history. Religion will be an important element in this history, but generations of Catholics were taught about Protestantism's role in acheiving Parliamentary democracy without any proselytization involved. Hindus and Muslims need have no worry on that score.

Second, we need to sweep away the bourgeois values that have been foisted on the working class since the 60s and strengthen local communities by bolstering families and reinvigorating local democracy. Immigrants who worry about their daughters being exploited by feckless males (or about their sons turning into said feckless males) will have less to worry about if the British realize the anthropological value of moral rules about sexual behavior. I am confident that we can accomodate homosexuality without needing to throw out all rules that strengthen family (there's some interesting polling data on current attitudes here in Roger Mortimore's latest MORI Commentary column).

Third, we need to involve all sections of the community more in that improved democracy. The Tories desperately need to find more minority candidates, for instance, but it's no use people like Lord Taylor moaning about it all the time. that's a failure of leadership. Minorities themselves have to form the British equivalents of the Center for New Black Leadership, for instance.

Assimilation is one of the worthiest goals I can think of, but it's not a simple question of one side being in the wrong. Ending multiculturalism also means ending aculturalism, if that's a word, and that will be the hardest job of all.

Citizens' Charter

Brendan O'Neill has unwittingly offended another blogger, whose reaction, I should stress, was rude and unwarrented in my opinion. I therefore think I should outline my Charter (to use a Major-era buzzword) for communications from readers of this blog.

1. I welcome all polite e-mail, although I cannot guarantee to respond to it. Disagreements are as welcome as agreements.
2. I shall not delete any comments from the comments boxes unless they are obviously beyond the pale (again, courtesy is the key here). Nor shall I ban people from commenting unless they are, in usenet parlance, flamers or trolls.
3. I shall consider any e-mail, unless otherwise marked, to contained the author's implied consent for publication.
4. I am happy to consider extending posting privileges to any regular correspondent who asks for them. There are two others who currently have posting privileges, although neither have used them yet.

More power to Brendan, by the way, who is rapidly replacing Steven Den Beste as king of the long form, in my eyes.

20/20 Hindsight

I'm a bit mystified by all the fuss over what was and wasn't known about possible hijackings before 9/11, and I'm glad Glenn Reynolds has admitted that nothing really could have been done without advance identification of the individuals concerned. There is, as so often, and Anglosphere angle in this. According to the NY Times story, Foreboding Increased, but No Single Agency Had All the Clues,

the report provided to the president on Aug. 6, which warned him that Mr. bin Laden's followers might hijack airplanes, was based on 1998 intelligence data drawn from a single British source, government officials said today.

That source said Al Qaeda had an interest in hijacking airplanes in order to obtain hostages who could be used as bargaining chips so the terrorist organization could demand the freedom of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, a Muslim cleric who was convicted in 1995 for his role in the failed plot to blow up landmarks in the New York area.

This kinda blows the case that officials knew what was being planned out of the water.

The most interesting thing to me about this revelation, however, is the sharing of intelligence between the UK and the US. This is a vital element in American intelligence gathering which will be lost forever if Britain is integrated into a European military and intelligence structure as currently envisaged (see here for a rundown of the issues. Unfortunately, the links to Charles Grant's important papers no longer work; the long version is now here in PDF form). It's yet another reason why America has a vital strategic interest in Britain retaining her sovereignty.

Of course, there may come a time when Britain and America fall out and stop sharing data, but there's no point in forcing that issue artificially.

Thursday, May 16, 2002

Postmodernism revisited

Interestingly, Chuck Colson thinks Europe is postmodern but the US modern also.

Lessons from America

Thanks to the Dodgester for bringing this one to my attention. Regular readers will know I'm a fan of the Daily Telegraph's Free Country campaign. The spokesmen of the Libertarian Alliance in the UK aren't, and wrote to a large number of Telegraph journalists (including the football correspondents...) to point this out. Alex at The Liberty Log has a very sensible reaction to this, one that mirrors my thoughts exactly.

I think there are several lessons the British liberal-conservative movement can learn from their much more successful cousins in the US. The first is Reagan's "Eleventh Commandment": thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican. Second, and this is the crime the LA is committing here, you should not make the perfect the enemy of the good. Euroskeptics and British libertarians (with some notable exceptions) are frequently guilty of this. And by their constant quibbling, they provide room for statist and superstatist forces to advance. Result: a fractured movement and more statism and loss of sovereignty. To paraphrase Burke, for the triumph of evil it is only necessary for good men to quarrel. Grow up, chaps.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Prayers needed

Mona Charen is one of my favorite columnists and my organization has worked with her from time to time when she has needed good data. I was therefore distressed to learn that her eldest son is currently in intensive care following a traffic accident. This is truly a nightmare for any parent. My prayers are with her.

Pims all round

According to the ever-reliable Ananova, List Pim Fortuyn has come joint second in the Dutch elections. The Christian Democrats came first with 41 out of the 150 seats up for grabs. LPF got 24, the same as Prime Minister Wim Kok's Socialists and his coalition partners the Liberals. I imagine it's likely that LPF will be asked to join a coalition with the Christian Democrats. We'll see.

Who has Jenkins' Ear?

Once again, Simon Jenkins gets it right on the constitution. Writing on Lords reform, he starts off by rightly rubbishing the argument for Proportional Representation in the new chamber:

Let us begin with one nonsense. There is no justification for what all Westminster now wants, a party-based elected chamber. We have one already, and a pathetic morsel it is. Why have another? If it were to have real power, it would confuse and thwart the democratic will of the Commons. If it has no power, I repeat, what is the point? All proposals for a wholly or partly elected second chamber assume the election would be on a multi-member and/or party list system, if only to be distinct from the Commons. Only thus can the second chamber “reflect the will of the people”. Put another way, only thus can it remain under a degree of party control. Such list systems — as for devolved assembly elections — give all power to party managers. Whether or not the lists are based on wide or narrow geographical constituencies, they are lists.

These lists would be no different from the “lavender lists” that created the present House. I am sure Mr Blair has realised this. He has no intention, any more than do the spokesmen for the existing chambers, Robin Cook and Lord Irvine of Lairg, of letting voters actually choose the membership of the new House. They may choose its party composition, but the selection or deselection of names on the lists will be by party managers. These will not be high-profile, blood-andthunder American senators. They will not be local personalities standing for election under their own banners. They will be “people we know”. Everyone understands that.

A hit! A very palpable hit!

Jenkins goes on to suggest an intriguing scheme for electing and appointing the chamber's members:

I would go for a version of the American senatorial system. Each county and each city would elect its own local figure, who would require a five-year residential qualification and no party allegiance entered on the ballot. The field would be open to any local public figure yet extremely hard for the whips to pollute. Elected members would bring to Westminster a truly local mandate, recreating a feature of the old House of Lords. This was a body with its roots in the territory of provincial Britain, something lost with the advent of life peers.

For appointed members I would adopt the best of the Wakeham Commission proposals. This was for a non-party independent appointments commission, an idea rejected by Downing Street as absurdly hard to control. But I would tie the commission’s hand. It would have to select half the second chamber as representative of groups and occupations far beyond the present judges and bishops. If lawyers and clergymen sit in a second chamber ex officio, why not academics, doctors, engineers, farmers and trade unionists? The more specialised the job of politician becomes, the more valid a second chamber filled with other professions.

A combination of provincial personalities and occupational leaders would add real diversity to the politics of Westminster. It would dynamise Parliament. It would not damage the democratic sovereignty of the Commons, since its power to check the executive would remain limited. Appointed members would serve only one term and the changing kaleidoscope would form a true forum of the nation, not as present of London and Scotland.

I have to say I agree with him on the local representation bit. On the appointed members, I disagree reluctantly, because where does one draw the line? Piano tuners? Wire drawers and kindred workers? I think the appointed benches should remain the Bench of Bishops, as long as the Church of England is Established, and the Law Lords, because a legally-experienced voice is useful in the framing of legislation and the House of Lords' role as "Supreme Court" is an important one.

Actually, one thing I have toyed with is the idea that the House of Commons should be the locally-based chamber and the House of Lords the nationally-based one, charged with looking at wider interests, but that would necessitate the total destruction of the party machines before implementation.

Funny how much more difficult adapting an historic system that has gone off the rails is than designing a whole new one. The Founding Fathers's difficulties in Philadelphia were nothing compared to this...

Immigration and Citizenship

Janet Daley, as an immigrant and daughter of immigrants, has the line on immigration and the duties of both the immigrant and his host country exactly right. As she says, it is not the immigrant that is the problem. It is his children. Immigrants must raise their children to believe that coming to the new country was the right thing to do, while never forgetting the good things that they left behind, and the host country must raise them as their own:

If we were educating our young, of all ethnic origins, to be unabashedly proud of their British identity - instead of denigrating our own history and our own culture in a self-indulgent frenzy of post-colonial guilt - we could be offering the children of immigrants something worth abandoning the alienated racial ghetto for. Then they could go home and explain it to their parents - and hand it on, in turn, to their own children.

This is the only way to proceed.

No relation

I once worked with a senior civil servant called Andrew Murray. He was a nice chap, and seemed sensible. So unless he's taken a knock on the head it can't be this fool writing in The Grauniad. I've recently been trying to sharpen up my op/ed writing skills and to remember always that any assertion should have a fact-checked source behind it. This Murray obviously doesn't know that. For instance, he doesn't think the USA is engaged in a war on terrorism:

It is instead an open-ended war to make the world congenial for the most chauvinistic elements in US public life. Every government in the world they dislike is to be removed, every grudge they have been nursing from the cold war (there can be no other reason for targeting Fidel Castro) is to be exorcised. Military force may be used in some cases; while in others the well-tried methods of destabilisation, sanctions and coup will be deployed.

Where evidence and argument fail, the administration relies on effrontery. The national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, demanded that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez "respect the constitution" on the day he was restored to office, following the failure of the US-backed military coup against the constitution. Bolton, Rice et al seem to regard themselves as masters of the universe, and show every sign of planning to implement their maximum global programme before the US people gets the chance to elect anyone slightly more sensible.

Well, if "the most chauvinistic" Americans were trying to unseat goverments they disliked, they'd probably start with France, then China. Castro is not a relic of the Cold War -- he's a living, breathing Dictator who continues to oppress his people. I happen to think the embargo is a mistake, just as I thought sanctions on South Africa were a mistake (I believe free trade spreads free ideas), but check out this recent Jeff Jacoby column to see how awful the cuddly old teddy bear really is.

Meanwhile, where is there any evidence that the coup against Chavez was American-backed. Even the loony Chavez himself hasn't come up with any evidence other than he saw an American-registered plane on the island he was taken to during his period of confinement. Even the most ardent anti-American would have to admit that it's not too unusual to see American-registered planes in northern South America.

As for the American people desperately wanting to elect someone "more sensible" than the President: current job approval rating c.73% (CBS/New York Times, 4/28-5/01). I'd imagine that at least some of the disapproval comes from people who don't think he's doing enough...

And if this twit knew anything about US politics, he'd know that the instincts of this administration are towards isolationism. Self-defense has prompted the need for military adventures overseas, not some form of capitalist imperialism.

Andrew, you're a disgrace to the clan and the man you're named after. Change your name to Fisk and get thee hence!

No balance, lots of checks

Trenchant editorial in the Telegraph, How Blair tamed his poodle, on the state of Parliamentary democracy:

Since Labour was elected, the Government has abused its enormous Commons majority to mount a sustained assault on Parliament's authority in a way that has grave implications for British liberty. The attack has been on three fronts: managerial, procedural and constitutional.

On the managerial front, Labour has deliberately recruited bland parliamentary candidates, likely to do as they are told. It has then whipped its MPs mercilessly to keep them "on message". It has packed the watchdog committees of the House with its own appointees, keeping likely trouble-makers out.

Procedurally, one of Mr Blair's first acts was to declare that he would answer Prime Minister's Questions only once a week, instead of twice. "Family-friendly" parliamentary hours are being introduced, to send MPs safely home to bed, where they can cause no trouble to the Government. The parliamentary guillotine has been used constantly to silence debate - even on constitutional Bills, which by convention had always been debated in full. Meanwhile, important policies have frequently been announced outside the House. All this, while a weak Speaker watches on.

Constitutionally, Parliament's powers have been sapped by devolution, Europe and a judiciary newly politicised by the Human Rights Act.

The Commons - between elections, the only guardian of the people against the executive - is being emasculated. The Opposition parties must commit themselves to beefing up the watchdog committees of the House and codifying the old conventions that once held the executive in check. They must make firm pledges now - before they, too, are corrupted by power.

Damn right, if you'll pardon my French. Parliament needs to be saved from these party machines. To achieve that, there are two possible solutions. One is the drastic one of separating the Executive from the Legislature by directly electing the office of Prime Minister. I've suggested that before, and think it's the best solution in general. Another means might be to disallow the use of any party label on the ballot paper, or, for that matter, in election communications, broadcasts and posters. Then people couldn't just walk into a polling station and vote for a party candidate. they'd have to know who the candidate was before voting for them, which would presumably strengthen individual candidates against the party machine. Just a suggestion. Any thoughts as to its practicality?

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Police 5, well 3 now

Michael Gove says that Enid Blyton could do a better job than most of Britain's polic chiefs, and fingers their unaccountability and bureaucracy as the main problems. He's right.

Likud it or not...

I'm not keen on Emmanuel Goldstein's attempts to dictate the editorial directions of other blogs, so I had not intended to mention the Likud vote on Palestinian statehood at all. As it happens, Kesher Talk says it best.

A Charter for Our Times

Jim Bennett draws attention to a silly mistake in the Clark piece. Clark says

The assumption that has remained central to their world view since the signing of the Atlantic Charter in 1941 - that there exists an unbreakable community of interests and values linking the democracies of Europe to the United States - is being challenged as never before.

Jim replies: "Uh, the central assumption of the Atlantic Charter was that there exists an unbreakable community of interests and values linking the democracies of Britain and the Commonwealth to the United States. At the moment the Charter was signed, the only other democracies in Europe were Sweden, Switzerland, and Ireland, all of which were conspicuously unlinked to the United States."

This inspired me to take a look at The Atlantic Charter. What a splendid document. It should be required reading for all school children, never mind every supposedly democratic politician in Europe. The final clause is particularly relevant to current events:

Eighth, they believe that all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measure which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments.

What better witnesses than Roosevelt and Churchill to have on your side when presenting the case against Saddam?

The spirit of Lord Bauer lives on

Bad leaders, not lack of aid, cause African poverty might seem to come from the bleeding obvious school of headlines, but so few people seem to realise its truth. This is a great article that sums up the current problem:

Among the most articulate critics of never-ending aid as a solution to Third World poverty was Lord Bauer, the economics professor who died earlier this month. He held that it was the character of a country's institutions and the aptitude of its populace that determined its success. "Where people's abilities, motivations and political institutions are favourable," he wrote, "material progress will occur. Where these basic determinants are unfavourable, development will not occur, even with aid."

In Africa, political mismanagement, corruption and disregard by the authorities for the bulk of the people have prevailed, indeed flourished, in the half century that has followed the first withdrawal of colonial rulers. What African leaders such as Amin, Mobutu, Mengistu, Moi and most recently Mugabe have created in their countries are conditions that are distinctly unfavourable for the development of people's abilities, motivations and political institutions.

They have ruled their countries like medieval fiefdoms, looting their faltering economies and through shocking mismanagement creating hardships and famines for people who do not get the opportunity to vote them out.

And yet the West has continued to pour in the aid, which has almost unerringly found its way into Swiss bank accounts. Today, there is not a single example of an African country in recovery from post colonial chaos.

The author concludes:

As Lord Bauer said, aid goes no way towards righting past colonial wrongs. Only the overthrow of the despots will do that.

If it is incumbent on us to right colonial wrongs, and I'm not sure it is given how many good things were also done during the period, then we must work out how best to do that.

Oh, so that's what civil society is for...

Has the penny finally dropped? A Telegraph editorial points out that party political machines might not be as useful as local groups:

Which leads on to the delicate question of how the Conservative Party should slot into the anti-euro coalition. On the one hand, only Iain Duncan Smith can bring to the table a campaigning machine with a presence in all 658 constituencies. On the other, there is nothing Tony Blair would like more than to present the referendum as "another chance to kick the Tories".

In the Scottish and Welsh devolution referendums, the Conservatives contrived to get the worst of both worlds: they were just high-profile enough to attract plenty of flak, but did very little to mobilise their supporters on the ground. It does not need to be that way.

In Kent, the Conservatives have mounted a brilliant campaign in defence of selective education, but have done so by taking their place quietly within a non-partisan organisation, "Support Kent Schools". A similar way must be worked out to recruit the Tories to the "no" campaign as individuals or in groups.

In the US, local groups are incredibly strong and central groups, such as the political parties, are very weak by comparison with their European cousins. Abortion rights campaigns are not run by the Democratic Party, but by local pro-choice groups. Gun rights campaigns are not run by the Republican Party, but by local gun rights groups such as local NRA chapters. There will be some funding from NARAL or Planned Parenthood or the NRA, but strategy is decided locally. This is civil society in action, with local people deciding their own direction. Enforcing "singing from the same hymn sheet" around the nation would be suicide.

If the Tory party is beginning to realize the importance of this idea, so much the better. A drastic slimming-down of Conservative Central Office and the setting-up or expansion of regional offices might be a jolly good idea.