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

January 2009

Our brilliant government

Government 'fixing health consultations' with taxpayer-funded groups - Telegraph.

Sitting as a committee, it is doubtful if the entire Cabinet could pass a British Constitution "A" level. Our government is hopeless at delivering and procuring public services. It is useless at executive oversight of state employees. It has the financial acumen of a drunken sailor. But it is brilliant at something. It is sans pareil at deception. It is stellar at lying. In this, it has reached artistic heights undreamed of by previous governments.

Scratch the surface of "charities" and many prove to be clandestine state agencies. Actual state agencies, theoretically independent, serve political interests. Enquire about the activities of many "private sector" employees, and you will find they are performing outsourced state tasks. Pressure groups and lobbying organisations are funded and even founded by the state to support its aims. And now it has taken to manufacturing its own "public" for "public consultations" on new legislation.

Hazel Blears has accused political bloggers of generating cynicism.  Either she is hypocritical in inverse proportion to her stature, or she is a fool. She might as well blame the neighbour who raised the alarm for starting the fire burning her house. Dishonesty is the very blood in this government's veins.

Pants on Fire Dance~

Helen Suzman, RIP

BBC NEWS | Africa | Obituary: Helen Suzman.

Helen Suzman was a voice in the wilderness for much of her political career; pleading what must often have seemed a hopeless case. She did not achieve high office. She had none of the trappings of success that so many lesser politicians strive for, but I am sure she cared nothing for that.

She never gave up. I am not sure today's South Africa is quite what she was hoping for, but her life should still stand as an inspiration. One intelligent, determined human being can stand for justice, truth and freedom even when most around her have lost touch with their humanity. One person can be a beacon in the darkness. Challenged by a political opponent for asking questions which embarrassed South Africa, she retorted;

"It is not my questions that embarrass South Africa, it is your answers"

Her life proves, once again, that we are not just flotsam on the inevitable tides of history, as some would have us believe. One person can make a difference. Mrs Suzman certainly did.
Helen Suzman
I offer my sincere condolences to her family and friends.

Government incompetence is a good thing | Willem Buiter’s Maverecon | In praise of government incompetence.


Let me begin 2009 with a glimmer of hope. I have been unkind in the past years about British academics. Reports from the front line (the Misses Paine are currently studying at Cambridge University and the London School of Economics respectively) have given no reason to be otherwise. I have feared particularly for the moral welfare of Miss Paine the Younger at the LSE, which was founded by Fabians and sometimes still seems to serve as the Labour Party's staff college.

Yet the linked article is by
an LSE professor and I agree with almost every word of it. He is just as scathing as I have tried to be about the attacks of our current government on our civil liberties. If I had written (as I wish I had);

The threat posed by our own government to our liberty and fundamental rights is a constant one.  Most of the time it is a much greater, direct and immediate threat than that posed by foreign states (through conquest or extortion) or by external non-government agents, the violent NGOs like Al  Qaeda.

...some of my readers might have thought I overstated the case. Perhaps the dignity of Professor Buiter's office will give them pause for thought? I have tried repeatedly to express the sentiments below, but sadly not with such powerful effect;

It was breath-taking and depressing to observe the transformation of New Labour after 1997, from the party of open government, human rights and civil liberties into an increasingly paranoid group of power-hogging and repressive political control freaks, who have done more damage to fundamental human rights in the past 11 years than any other (sequence of)  government(s)  in any comparable-length stretch of time since the Glorious Revolution. 

(though, unlike the good professor, I never believed Labour - with its socialist control-freak DNA- was a party of "human rights and civil liberties.")

Please read the whole article. It is quite heavy going for a newspaper piece, but it is worth the effort. I am delighted to learn that the faculty around Miss Paine the Younger is not monochrome scarlet. Professor Buiter's piece has encouraged me to believe that we bloggers who distrust government in principle (and this government in practice) are not entirely without academic support. It has cheered me immensely as I face a year of economic gloom and family challenges. I hope it does the same for you.  A happy new year to you all.