THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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January 2007
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March 2007

February 2007

Dr. Arif Ahmed

Link: Faculty of Philosophy: Dr Arif Ahmed. my person of the month. Here's why. Well said, that man although - to quibble slightly - I don't think we should feel free to mock the over-sensitive only when their beliefs are "...a tissue of superstition and prejudice..."

In a free society, one should sometimes mock beliefs just for fun, if only to test them, or to harden the believers up for life as free men. They will thank us for it one day, when they are no longer mullah-struck victims clinging to the apron strings of the Nanny State.

Bring me Sunshine

EricerniethedanceMorecambe & Wise were funny once. Really. I remember laughing. The whole nation looked forward to their Christmas show; briefly united in laughter around the television. Stars of stage and screen humiliated themselves to appear with them. They were beloved.

Then, one day, they weren’t funny any more.

At first, we were just embarrassed for them. We tittered,  pretending to be amused. Then, as we saw re-runs of old shows, we realised something strange had happened. Fashion had changed so dramatically, so harshly, that it was as if they had never been funny. It was tragic, particularly for Eric & Ernie themselves. They carried on with the old routines. They were written by the same guy, performed with the same professionalism, but they just didn’t work any more. The magic was gone.

In the dying days of the Blair regime, as we face the War of the Labour Succession, something similar is happening. Blair, Brown, Blears, Milliband, Reid and the rest of the gang plug away at the old material. They spin the spin that brought them to power and kept them there. We used to lap it up, but now they leave the stage to the sound of their own footsteps, puzzled and sad.

It is as if their spin was never true.

So, why, I have to ask, when it is time for some alternative comedy politics, is Dave Cameron rehearsing New Labour's old routines?

The ThunderDragon: Mini Meme - Most Popular Posts?

Link: The ThunderDragon: Mini Meme - Most Popular Posts?.

The only thing I have against Blogpower founder James Higham is his penchant for memes. At least this one, for which I have been "tagged" by The ThunderDragon, is easy. My two most popular posts, by a very long way, were Credo and The Devil's Kitchen: Falling at the first hurdle.

All memes die here, so I don't "tag" anyone. Don't mind me, however. If you  have a blog, please feel free to let us know about your most popular posts.

Boris and the other Turkey

Link: Telegraph newspaper online.

I so rarely disagree with Boris Johnson that I hesitate to do so now, fearing I may be wrong. I would like to think I am. His vision of reconciliation is fine in its Christian idealism. His line on Turkey and the EU is seductive. I fear that both are misguided.

There is certainly an attraction to integrating a leading Muslim nation into a Western club for democracies. But Turkey will never be a beacon of hope for the Muslim world, or for anyone, while those who tell the truth about its history are imprisoned at best and murdered at worst. The legacy of Ataturk may be crumbling. "Militant Islam," aka "Islamism" seems to be growing in strength there. Pace Boris, we should see where that story leads before leaping into bed with his family's former homeland.

The women who went through an ordeal beyond belief | the Daily Mail

Link: The women who went through an ordeal beyond belief | the Daily Mail.

Time and time again, idiots proclaim "something must be done" and "what about the children" before casting off freedom and justice and embarking on State-sponsored witch hunts. The Daily Mail describes the ordeal endured by the children and parents of Cleveland 20 years ago as "beyond belief." They could not be more wrong. Anyone on the receiving end of the British State's "caring" attentions will recognise the sensations of horror, disgust and impotence described by the Cleveland families.

Only the most naieve could expect that, when the State apparatus intervenes in family life, it will be any more competent or kind than when it does anything else. I know a respectable, loving, middle-class family whose children were taken from them (briefly) after false accusations of abuse. The glee of the social workers at being able to persecute their class enemies was almost palpable. For the parents, smug and prosperous New Labourites, I have no sympathy. They needed to experience the realities of State power as endured by so many at their hands. I do feel sorry for their children.

I would be surprised if one of the Cleveland children is, as the article suggests, brave enough to pursue the matter. It is too delicate even for British afternoon TV. The publicity would harm her life, that of her family, and the lives of all the families. It would, ultimately, be a waste of time. The true "caring" attitude of the British State is revealed by the fact that Dr. Marietta Higgs is still working as a paediatrician in the National Health Service.

So many foolishly look to the State for protection as if it were any more perfect than any human agency. If you are in trouble, look to your family or friends. Throw yourself on the mercy of a stranger if you must. Your chances will be better. The British State only looks after its own.

What is your fear, and how have you overcome it?

(by our Guest Author today - Ellee Seymour)

I love words.  I love reading them, writing them, understanding them and delving into their origins. But when it comes to speaking them - well in public at least - I find that words fail me. Or rather I fail them.

It’s a strange and unwelcome feeling. I must be insane to admit that I would rather face the pain of childbirth any day than speak in front of an audience. I have some horrid past experiences to justify this; times when my body became tense and rigid, my throat as dry as cardboard and my voice shaking like a ragmop.

I have no idea how this fear originated. One expert questioned whether it was because I am the third of four children, and then there is the possibility that I may have inherited this fear from my father who was a very shy man.

I know I am not alone, I believe it is the biggest fear that people have. It’s rather like listening to a quiz show such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire when you know the answer to the £64,000 question while the contestant is desperately struggling to come up with the answer– it’s only easy if you know it.

Likewise for public speaking. While Jeremy thrives under the spotlight, and I have a husband who finds it as easy as knotting his tie, give me a pool of alligators to swim with instead, it’s a far less terrifying challenge.

Well that’s certainly how things were until last year when I decided to be more in control and I did two things – I had hypnotherapy with Mark from Winning Minds and joined Cambridge Speakers Club.

Since then, I am delighted to say there has been a slow, but marked, transformation, the difference in my speaking skills is very apparent. Most importantly, I can feel the difference, I am more confident. The racing pulse and nervous rash has lessened considerably.

I made my fourth speech at my Speakers Club this week entitled “Lord Nelson, My Hero”. For the first time I felt that I was able to control my nervousness and my wavering voice. I paused after paragraphs and the words pleasantly flowed off the tip of my tongue like never before. And I was able to make eye contact with the audience for the first time, I even smiled and looked as if I was enjoying it. I had excellent feedback from the audience too, it was almost thrilling. And best of all, the audience said they couldn’t believe I had ever been a nervous speaker, it was music to my ears.

I know I still need to work on my body language, the use of my arms, deciding how and where to stand, but I also know that comes with practice– and Rome wasn’t built in a day!

I also had a fear of spiders which I have conquered after attending a special course at London Zoo as a journalistic assignment for work.


Just as well because I think spiders are becoming even bigger each year, the huge ones won’t fit into my spider catcher.  I still prefer to keep them at arms length if their breadth exceeds the size of a dinner plate!

Just to prove how brave I was, you can see the photo of me holding a giant tarantula in the palm of my hand  taken at the end of the day. Now if I can do this, then I can surely learn how the skills of public speaking.

So tell me, what is your fear, is there a difficulty in your life which you are also trying to overcome? Is public speaking a problem for you too?