THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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January 2009

The NSPCC, real or fake charity?

- Bishop Hill blog - The NSPCC - a danger to society.

Bishop Hill has upset me this morning. I have had a standing order to the NSPCC for some years. I was unaware that it was taking £14 million of government money and angry to find that it is supporting the government's current attacks on home schooling.

It's fine that Britain provides free-at-point-of-use state education for all. I have lots of issues with how it delivers that, but that's an issue for another day. There is no way, however, that state education should be compulsory. If I had not been lucky enough to afford private education for my children, my wife and I might well have preferred home schooling to a state system we knew well as ex-pupils and, in her case, as an ex-teacher. The government's campaign against home schooling has been disgusting - even implying that some home schoolers are doing it only to conceal their child abuse. The NSPCC's support for that campaign has nothing to do with its charitable purposes and - I suspect - everything to do with its status as a government front.

A charity that takes government money is not worthy of the name. Charity is all about voluntary contributions. Tax is, by definition, an involuntary contribution. Had the taxpayers wanted to give that £14 million to the NSPCC, they could have done so. They were not given the choice. Therefore nothing done with that money is truly "charity."

More insidiously fake charities, among which I am disappointed to suspect I must now number the NSPCC, are instruments of government policy and patronage. They are used to "astroturf" (create fake "grass roots" support for) government policies. They are used (through overpaid sinecure jobs) as a source of government party patronage. Many a Labour candidate in the next election wll boast of his or her work for charity, when in fact they were "parked" with that organisation by political influence.

I will cancel my monthly standing order to the NSPCC and write to explain why. My correspondence will no doubt be a waste of time. If the NSPCC's leadership is, as I now suspect, politically selected, the people concerned will know that full well. That one small donor has rumbled them is neither here nor there, in the context of £14 million extorted for them forcibly by their major sponsor in Whitehall.

Welcome back, Tom

Welcome back Tom Paine, unsung American hero | Ben Macintyre - Times Online.

I would not blog in his name if I did not greatly admire the man. He was the most effective pamphleteer in history and had a hand in the founding of two of the republics I most admire. I do not doubt that, if he were alive today, he would blog far more fiercely and effectively than his humble and unworthy admirer. The world badly needs another Tom Paine, but I am conscious it is not me.

The idea that President Obama might replace the bust of Churchill in the Oval Office with one of a worthier Englishman is cheering on a gloomy day. I hope to attend the celebrations in Norfolk later this year of the bicentenary of Old Tom's death. Perhaps the President should make an appearance too?

h/t my anonymous reader from Teddington, who emailed me a PDF of the print article, which I had missed online. Thank you, kind sir.

We are all "criminals" now (but then, somewhere, we already were)

Raedwald: Integrated EU blacklist of 'criminals' is here.

It is hard to know where to begin with Raedwald's sobering post. Did you ever hear of a more sinister concept than for "insult of the State, Nation or State symbols" to be a crime? Yet Raedwald and other bloggers who have picked this up are under a misapprehension. The EU Council Decision of 20th January creates no new offences. All of the ludicrous examples he cites are existing crimes in one or more EU jurisdictions. The innovation is for the EU's national police forces to share the data. Libertarian as I am, I can't say I have a problem wtih that. The story simply makes me wonder, yet again, whether I want to be in an ever-closer union with people who think calling Nicholas Sarkozy a conceited little plonker should be a crime. To be fair, they probably also wonder about union with a country which fines people for not sorting their garbage and then piles it all back into an unsorted heap.

Pessimists will fear that this is a first step to unifying the criminal code across the EU. What a disaster that would be. The overlapping Venn diagrams of European criminality would be coloured in to make a single mass. Almost everything would be unlawful. Wouldn't it be wonderful however, if we could unify European criminal law by adopting a different approach? What if only the "overlapping area" (i.e. only those actions which are criminal everywhere in the EU) were to be crimes? It would be a new European dawn of liberalism. A vain idea but - I am sure you will agree - a beautiful one.

Old Holborn's response, meanwhile, is characteristically robust. He has filmed himself burning the Marian flag of treachery and posted the video to his blog, urging all men and women of goodwill to do likewise. I am tempted, but in Russia I think it might just make me popular.

Ospreys 15-9 Leicester

BBC SPORT | Rugby Union | Ospreys 15-9 Leicester.


Yesterday's match was hard-fought. I had forgotten quite how much aggression rugby can involve! It's a miracle the game can still be played in these litigious, health-and-safety minded days. How long before the busybodies demand an end to the glorious legal doctrine of volenti non fit injuria, which makes such sports possible? After all if the consent of the smoker does not now absolve the tobacco company, why should the consent of the injured rugby player absolve the man who tackled him? Surely Mummy State needs to save him from himself?

The visiting side did not cover itself in sportsmanlike glory. The Liberty Stadium (I like that name) echoed to bitter chants by the Ospreys fans of "Cheats, cheats, cheats!" as Leicester deliberately slowed the game down. Sometimes it seemed Leicester had more water boys on the pitch than players.The Ospreys needed a 7 point winning margin to be certain of going through to the next round. Leicester just needed to hold them to less - and did. So both sides won, but sportsmanship lost. No tries were scored. To tell the truth, neither side came very close. The defensive play was brutal and effective. Leicester were more physical, the Ospreys were more skilful - but also more prone to errors. I gathered from the graphic observations of their more critical fans, that this was typical.

I was particularly delighted by the burly fan nearby (my friend says he's always there) who berated the French referee (who dealt weakly with Leicester's sharp practice) in strongly Welsh-accented French. At every sporting event there is always at least one bull-voiced, self-confident fan, who knows better than the officials, the team manager and each player how their jobs should be done. This chap - bellowing "Ouvrez les yeux, ref!!" - was a particularly classy specimen, I thought.

I read JMB's comment on yesterday's post from my iPhone during the interval, so I had the chance to wave at Liz of Finding Life Hard? as directed, had I only known where she was sitting or indeed what she looked like. Be that as it may, I had a great time, met my friend's brother for the first time and spent a pleasant evening at a Chinese restaurant with my friend and his wife.


This morning Vittoria and I had a clear sunny journey back up to the top of Wales. It was one of those rare runs where you delight to encounter slower traffic for the pleasure of overtaking it. Not that there was much, on a quiet Sunday morning in sleepy mid-Wales.The temperatures are above freezing today so it was safe to put Vittoria into "sport" mode and practise the cornering techniques I was taught on the driving course I took last September. I tootled, engine barely ticking over, through village after village but then scooted briskly along the roads between. It was the perfect route for such a car, with lots of bends, including hairpins. With the glorious Welsh landscape rising and falling before us, Vittoria's V8 sang sweetly and her exhaust pipes harmonised at the passersby. I watched one chap, slackjawed and open mouthed, stop in his tracks to watch us, his head cocked and turning as he drank in the noise and the glamour of a Maserati in flight. I think we woke up the small boy in him. I certainly hope so. Vittoria often seems to give onlookers as much pleasure as she does me.


Tonight, I dine out with Mrs P. and tomorrow it's back to Moscow before heading on to Istanbul. Friendship, sport, fun, family and Labour's corruption exposed (making them yet more politicians bitten by their formerly-affectionate poodles this week). What more could a man ask for?

Pax Rupertica ends?

This morning's story in the Sunday Times is significant, not for the revelation that some Labour peers are corrupt, but for the fact that one of Rupert Murdoch's papers is prepared to conduct covert investigative journalism against Labour and to splash the embarrassing results on the front page. The cosy relationship between Murdoch and Labour is either over or subject to a tough renegotiation. The last Conservative government fell amid allegations of sleaze which were paltry by comparison to this. The disgraced lords were purporting to pimp for current ministers, including the Prince of Darkness Himself. They were offering, by use of their relationships with such apparatchiks, to pervert the legislative process itself. It is too serious to be a warning shot. If Murdoch wanted to renegotiate his deal with Labour, he would surely aim to leave his long time friends and partners in power? Time will tell, but this gives hope of political change on an Obamaic scale.

Ospreys vs Leicester

Ospreys vs Leicester

A day off from politics. I am the guest of an old friend at this Heineken Cup match, having flown in from Moscow yesterday and driven Vittoria down from Chester to Swansea this morning. It was a beautiful drive on winding Welsh roads. Here's hoping for a match that's half as much fun.

I find it amazing too

Britain on the brink of an economic depression, say experts - Telegraph.

Albert Edwards, a strategist at Société Générale, likened the British economy to a Ponzi scheme — a fraudulent debt mountain like that allegedly used by the New York hedge fund manager Bernard Madoff. “What I find amazing is that people aren’t really nailing Gordon Brown and [Bank of England Governor] Mervyn King for this,” he said. “At least in the US they had the excuse of the arrival of sub-prime — a new sector of the market. We didn’t really have anything similar but we ended up with a bigger national Ponzi scheme than the US.”

If the members of HM Opposition can't "nail" a government of such transparent uselessness what, pray, is the use of them?

The dog cooking dinner / Europe - Sarkozy unveils €600m press rescue.

PJ O'Rourke compares government intervention to "fix" markets to Dad burning dinner and the family deciding to have the dog cook the next one. It is certain is that the trillions currently being spent (they would say "invested" but they don't understand the word) by governments worldwide will be misdirected. Dead tree publishing - particularly of periodicals - is a dying business. Its decline has nothing to do with the economic downturn and everything to do with the fact that advertisers can target consumers more precisely using Google etc. There is only one good reason for a politician to direct money to the newspapers - and that's to buy their support while it still has some political value.

French taxpayers are pretty relaxed about Government waste, but surely even they will see this for what it is?

Gordon Brown withdraws plan to keep details of MPs' expenses secret

Gordon Brown withdraws plan to keep details of MPs' expenses secret | Politics |

Now this is (if there is no devious small print) a "green shoot" of democratic recovery. Faced with a real debate on the subject (after the Conservatives decided to issue a three line whip to vote against) Brown bottled. I do not doubt that the Tories, whose record on these matters is little or no better than Labour's, were pressured to do so by constituents. So well done to everyone who raised the matter with their MPs.

Rather than revel in this tiny triumph after 11 years of steadily-weakening democracy in Britain, let us all fall like wolves upon the expense data which will now, after all, be revealed. We should shame Members of Parliament back from their troughs into the chamber of the House of Commons to do what they were elected to do.

h/t Mr Eugenides

We shall overcome

I agree with every word (apart from the religious slant). So will most described casually as "right wing" by unthinking sloganisers of today. But what has "positive" discrimination to do with Dr King's vision? What has endless obsessing over whether people of a certain skin tone should be called "Black", "Coloured" or (as Dr King did) "Negro" to do with his vision? What has the notion that only white people can be racist to do with it? Or the notion that all white people are racist whether they know it or not? What has constantly changing the politically-correct designation for black people, to the confusion and embarrassment of the elderly or unprepared to do with it? What has accusing whole professions of being "institutionally racist" to do with it? And finally, what have all this pseudo-intellectual quibbling and flim-flam to contribute to realising Dr King's dream?

In this life there are men and women of vision. King was one such. Then there are the chancers, blaggers, con artists and freeloaders who cynically take the ideas of such people and exploit them. Such are the people engaged in the industry of racial equality today. What Dr King wanted was for us to judge people on the content of their characters. Hallelujah. I could not agree more. So let's judge. The race relations industry is staffed by bad characters promoting discontent to justify well-paid non-jobs. They will never be satisfied, even when all of Dr King's pre-conditions for satisfaction have been met, because it is not in their interests to be so. They are the greatest obstacles on the path to his dream today.