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

September 2007

Burglary isn't worth investigating

Link: Police to probe Ian Huntley suicide attempt

Suicide isn't a crime. Nor is attempted suicide. Given his horrendous crime, Huntley's desire to die is perfectly rational and it is his life to end if he wishes. So what crime is the "Ministry of Justice" (how I hate that un-English name) investigating? Huntley's criminal negligence in botching the job, perhaps? If not, who will join me in a private prosecution of MiniJust for the real offence of wasting police time?

The Top 500 Political Blogs in the UK

Link: Iain Dale's Diary: The Top 500 Political Blogs in the UK - Voted for By You.

My thanks those who voted for the Last Ditch. I am surprised to be rated higher than many blogs I consider to be better; e.g. the relentlessly sound Bel is Thinking, the wittily brilliant As a Dodo, the seminal Nourishing Obscurity and the legendary The Policeman's Blog. I am also gratified to be ranked higher overall by my fell0w-bloggers than Iain placed me in his listing of "Right of Centre" blogs.

It is an index of the mess that the Conservative Party is currently in that my humble, amateur, part-time effort is rated 16 places higher than the Party Leader's fully-staffed, professionally-designed blog. Give up, Dave.

Usmanov latest

Link: Tim Worstall » Blog Archive » Alisher Usmanov Speech.

Tom Wise MEP repeated, under the protections of the parliamentary privilege of the European Parliament, some of the key allegations against Alisher Usmanov which led to Tim Worstall's Ireland's and Craig Murray's blogs being taken down recently at the request of Usmanov's lawyers. Tim Worstall has a summary on the linked page of his blog.

As a lawyer myself, I would like to disassociate myself from some of the unpleasant things written about Usmanov's solicitors. We lawyers are samurai, doing our warlords' clients' bidding within the rules of our professional code. The firm in question is suffering, because any attempt by clients to Google it now brings up pages of vitriolic commentary against it. It may be said to have acted honourably in attempting to advance its client's interests to its own detriment.

I am not sure that Mr Usmanov's interests have actually been advanced. Frankly, far more people now know of his alleged criminality than Craig Murray could have reached without his help.  Because of professional confidentiality, his lawyers can never reveal whether they acted on, or against, their own advice. Usmanov strikes me as the sort of client to thump a table and demand action, regardless of the advice offered.

Unsubscribe from Human Rights abuse in the "war on terror"

Link: | Get Started.

Unkown_largeI know that some libertarians and (even more) some traditional right-wingers are irritated by the way in which Amnesty International has contaminated its human rights campaigning by "bleeding" into other, "right on" issues. Liberty comes under similar (and partly justified) criticism. Amnesty's latest campaign, however, is one which every freedom-lover can and should support. The linked page tells you all about it. I have personally "unsubscribed" and I would ask my readers to set aside their distaste for Amnesty and do likewise. I have added an "unsubscribe" button in the sidebar.

A National Mottto

Link: BBC NEWS | Magazine Monitor.

The linked page cheered us up over our breakfast toast. Readers of the BBC Website posted a thousand suggestions in response to El Gordo's suggestion that the United Kingdom needs a national motto like France's Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite or the United States' In God We Trust.

Of course a few are sickeningly right on, featuring such hypnotic triggers as "diversity." Many, however, confirm that our national sense of humour survives. Others confirm that the Paines are not alone in their anger about the state of our nation.

Our personal favourites were;

Come and have a go if you think you're 'ard enough

(a football chat in the spirit of Scotland's national motto, nemo me impune lacessit), and

May contain nuts

For my part, I am quite happy with the UK's existing motto (has Brown never looked at his passport?)

Dieu et mon Droit

but I am quite tempted by Steve of Cambridge's sourly spot on suggestion;


which he translates as "whatever."

The costs of blogging?

Last week I was approached with a proposition I could not accept because of this blog. I realised I was unconcerned about declining. Although I despair at times, this little blog is more important to me than fortune or glory. Its readership is small and it has precious little impact, but I would rather have my say than not. Watching, reading and listening to the media's sickening hagiography of the man Brown after his Conference speech yesterday, I was delighted I had a blog. I could not bear to be constrained in expressing my contempt for that odious man and his pathetic media sycophants.

You cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank God!) the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there's no occasion to.

When journalists belittle blogs and bloggers, they reveal their lack of understanding of a basic human impulse (presumably strong in them, given their choice of career). We want our opinions to be heard. MSM critics might like to consider that if they reflected the full spectrum of political opinion in Britain, political blogging would hardly exist at all. Britain's political bloggers are, above all, a living rebuke to Britain's journalists. Perhaps that's why they hate us?

So far, so good

I rather frightened myself in the discussions on my last post with the thought that my blog might, thanks to Google, become associated with its odious subject matter. According to my stats package however, it seems (at least not yet) to be the case. Here are the searches that brought people to The Last Ditch yesterday.

drill down 2 10.53% socrates's the unconsidered life
drill down 2 10.53% wellingborough blogs
drill down 1 5.26% example of justice
drill down 1 5.26% current affairs knowledge of last six month of world
drill down 1 5.26% quotes from children at slag heap in aberfan
drill down 1 5.26% tom paine
drill down 1 5.26% pictures of thomas paine's family
drill down 1 5.26% tom paine moscow
drill down 1 5.26% bbc smoking
drill down 1 5.26% gordon brown british values
drill down 1 5.26% do you agree with socrates's the unconsidered life
drill down 1 5.26% birthday breakfast
drill down 1 5.26% romania eu culture
drill down 1 5.26% arif ahmed
drill down 1 5.26% underclass telegraph
drill down 1 5.26% what to do to get ready to dance
drill down 1 5.26%

comments margaret thatcher and gordon brown

I can happily live with being associated with Socrates, Thatcher and Paine. I have no idea why "what to do to get ready to dance" should bring someone here. My terpsichorean talents are noteable only by their absence. I am delighted that anyone should have come to me looking for an "example of justice." I only hope he found it. It's a long time since I was in Wellingborough, but I find no shame (only puzzlement) in being associated with that fine town.

Do my fellow bloggers worry about the concepts with which Google may associate them? I hate memes, so please don't take this as one. However, I would be interested to hear your thoughts, whether in comments or on your own blogs.

Toleration -vs- Approval

I have been pondering a comment I received on my post of 18 days ago. Quoting my passing remark that;

I even feel sorry for paedophiles, who have no more control over their sexual preferences than other sexual minorities, but who cannot be tolerated because their desires - by definition- can never be acted on consensually. I think that VR and computer graphics may help them find a way to act out without harming children

TDK commented;

Your contention relies upon the assumption that a paedophile has a fixed amount of desire which can be sated by the use of VR. Let me suggest two counter propositions:

1. Might desire increase through the use of such stimulants?
2. I'm a great believer that civil society is achieved more by the use of social norms such as disapproval, stigma and shame than by legal means. Might giving signals of acceptability in VR have a deleterious impact?

There are important points here. There is no force in human society more powerful than sexuality. If you doubt that, just consider the risks people take with their families, their careers, their health and their very lives to satisfy their sexual desires. TDK's theory that illicit desires should be denied stimulation seems to underlie current thinking. Parents are forbidden to video their children at school events or the swimming pool, lest the films find their way into the hands of paedophiles. Parents are reluctant to allow children out to play.

There is no evidence that this has reduced paedophilia. I would be surprised if it had. The incidence of most sexual aberrations seems to be fairly constant and highly resistant to legal and social controls. That is why the Thatcher Government's concerns about schools "promoting" homosexuality  were so absurd. These are matters not susceptible to evangelism. In any case, denied overt sexual stimulation, people will be stimulated by very little. The nicely turned ankles that gave our great-grandfathers such a frisson have little effect now. Could even the burgeoning New Cromwellian State suppress everything that might turn on a frustrated paedophile?

TDK's second point is even more important. I agree entirely (as I said in my original post) that social mores are more powerful than mere laws. The suggestion, however, that in tolerating something we might be said to have approved it quite startled me. That is what has given me such a long pause for thought. In fairness, it is also an idea behind much current thinking. If TDK is wrong, it is in a highly conventional way.

I am a man of strong views. There are many things that I hate. Golf and skiing, for example, turn decent people into bores unfit for civilised company. People who drive Smart cars richly deserve to be shot at dawn. I avoid such specimens like the plague but never dreamt that, in not demanding they be banned (or shot), I was approving their life choices. The bizarre sexual enthusiasms of Mark Oaten are utterly repulsive to me. I squirm in thinking of them even for long enough to write this paragraph. Can it really be said that, in -as it were - not giving a shit about his activities, I have endorsed them? It makes no sense to me. Yet whenever a liberalising measure is proposed (rarely enough under the New Puritanism of New Labour), the pundits roar that we cannot be seen to approve of cannabis, drinking after 2230 at night, or whatever. As if societal norms were binary. 1=Approved and 0=Forbidden.

This dangerous logical fallacy will lead us ever further from freedom. It must be fought. I doubt TDK is any more or less repelled by paedophilia than me. But I would only ban specific aspects of any behaviour, however repellent, which cause direct, verifiable and serious harm to others without their consent. Laws are not a means of expressing opinions. They are - or should be - there to prevent specific, identifiable harms. As Montesquieu wisely said;

"If it is not necessary to make a law, it is necessary NOT to make a law"

If we targeted our laws on serious harms and enforced them rigorously, we would do far more good than with our present blunderbuss approach. The idea that society "approves" of all lawful activities is a bar to such targeting.

Fair dealing?

Labour's policies make no sense when approached from the point of view of reason, fairness and justice. That is because they were not conceived from that point of view. The logic behind Labour's policies is simple and corrupt. Their objective is to steal public funds and use them to bribe Labour's supporters.

That is why Labour-donating Northern Rock, with its legions of Geordie depositors was saved from its idiocies. That is what all those non-jobs advertised in the Guardian are about. That is what selectively closing hospitals in Conservative constituencies is about. That is what cash for consultations is about. That is what devolution is about. Scotland and Wales are voter farms, with Socialists hand-reared at the flowing teat of Mother State.

Once you understand that, your sense of puzzlement at Labour's poll lead will evaporate and be replaced with a desire to find another homeland. It was a Scot, Alexander Tytler, who perceived that

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse out of the public treasury."

But in siding with the visceral hatred of the Celtic fringe for the Saes or Sassenachs (don't deny it boyos, I grew up among you) Labour has gone a step too far. The English are famously tolerant and forbearing. They take pride in it. But Margaret Thatcher put her finger on the matter when she quoted Rudyard Kipling's "Norman and Saxon" to Francois Mitterand;

“The Saxon is not like us Normans, His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealings,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone"

The Barnett Formula is very far from fair dealing. it is theft, pure and simple. It is the theft of the English taxpayers' life work to bribe the legions of Labour-voting Celts. It is corruption, nothing more.

h/t the CEP