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

After the protest

DSCN1324 DSCN1327The protest passed cheerfully, with neither violence nor police intervention, much to the disappointment of the assembled photographers. Old Holborn’s tactic was to piggyback on an event staged by the Socialist Workers Party. Their antics are apparently of slightly more interest to the press.

This caused some confusion to the libertarians in attendance, who watched our “guy” pose with his gunpowder barrel, while some Trot mentalist dressed as a Victorian child’s image of a banker ranted about “the dictatorship of the proletariat”. Neither protest was licensed, but the police looked on quietly. Are they under orders not to allow anyone to make news that might embarrass their suddenly-shy political masters?

Afterwards we had a drink and a chat at a nearby pub. OH is quite sanguine about the prospect of scaling down the British mega-state. He thinks the people are close to being ready for real change. Sadly, I think they will be absorbed in their soaps again as soon as they have “chucked the rascals out” at an election. They won’t sustain their interest in politics and a new set of rascals will settle comfortably at the public trough. In my life I have only seen our citzenry roused en masse once. Disappointingly, that was to mourn an aristocratic bimbo.

OH really is quite a character though. I would be delighted for him to be right and me wrong.

Guy again: what larks

Guy again: what larks
The gentlemen of the press are not impressed. "It's not even worth exercising my finger for this" one commented. Has he lit the fuse?" asked another. They were here though. When the fireworks in the mock barrel of gunpowder went off, they suddenly became interested. "Surely it's time for the police to put a stop to it now" one said and moved forward. Only violence would have been news.

The Political Manifesto

The Political Manifesto -Times Online .

I agree with almost every word of this, which is remarkable for an editorial in a left-liberal Murdoch organ for which I have long since lost respect. There are many sensible suggestions, though having observed the knuckle-gnawing tedium of the German, Polish and Russian legislatures in action, I suspect the electorate would miss the "knockabout" aspect of the House of Commons more than the Thunderer thinks. Continental legislatures are thoroughly caucussed and the public debates are the merest of formalities. When the real debate takes place behind the scenes, that is actually more likely to promote cynicism.

It's good to see a real debate beginning though, even as the old rascals are kicked out squealing; making their guilt ever more clear by their ludicrous protestations of innocence and ridiculous demands for sympathy.

You have nothing to lose but their claims

UK Libertarian Party: Expenses Protest -- Saturday 23rd May.

NoconI wish I could be there myself. After all, the £1.5 to 2 million pension fund set aside from the fruits of your lives' work to support Speaker Martin is reason enough. Martin should now face the life for which he and his ilk expect their impoverished constituents to be grateful. He should eke out an existence on a state pension in a Glasgow council flat, not live the life of Reilly.

Even that would be an injustice. His National Insurance stamps are not exactly up to date, given how briefly he was in productive work. He gave that mug's game up thirty years ago to live as a parasite on the workers, first as a trade unionist and then as a Labour MP.

His friends and cronies ask us to pity him the inglorious end of his political career. Yet he will live far better in retirement than most who have worked long hours, created jobs and improved our lives by producing goods or providing services. Of course many such valuable people lost much or all in the attempt, for business success cannot be guaranteed. Yet Speaker Martin never took the slightest personal risk to support his family. You have done that for him, and right generously, for the three decades since he decided honest work was not for him. And now he plans to live on your backs for the rest of his days, lording it over you in yet another set of vainglorious fancy dress.

Fancydress Because, for all the talk of his pension, his political career is not over. Injustice of injustices, he will remain a legislator. This, though he has contributed mightily, through his attempts to feather his own nest and suppress the truth about the nest-feathering of others, to the disgrace of the legislature. For a brief explanation of his role, watch this interview with the true heroine of the hour, Heather Brooke of the Your Right to Know blog.

Though his role in suppressing the truth is unforgivable, Speaker Martin was by no means the worst offender in terms of expense claims. Even now, it is reported that some Labour MPs are lobbying for Conservative John Bercow as the new Speaker. Why would they want a man with such a claims history to be in charge of "reforming" the parliamentary expenses system and restoring the reputation of the Commons? Do I need to ask? They are unabashedly plotting the defence of their troughing "rights".

Old Holborn will be at Saturday's protest in his "V for Vendetta" Guy Fawkes rig. Fancy dress is optional, though he gives tips on his blog as to where to buy the costume if you want. If you are in the area, why not keep him company for a while? Or, if you can't make it, promote it on your blog?

You have nothing to lose but their claims.

The gilded oaf is on his way out / UK - Martin to resign as Speaker.

OafGood news, but not nearly enough. Now it's essential to disprove the pathetic Labour spin that he's being used as a scapegoat. The best way is by metaphorically cutting the throats of all those who could have hoped to use him thus. How characteristic, by the way, that it is "unclear" whether his resignation is to take immediate effect. Could the man not communicate clearly just the once?

The trust and confidence of the people

Look at this apology for a man, clinging desperately to his loot and undeserved privileges by reading tremulously from his carefully-prepared script. See how he stumbles over the more difficult words. If Parliament is ever to "regain the trust and confidence of the people" it must begin by expelling this oaf (and not to the House of Lords, neither). Then it must root out every other "honourable" member who has exploited the nation's trust for personal gain. Their defenders are saying most members are to be trusted. Excellent. Then we can easily spare the rest, who should be stripped of their pensions as they leave just as they, by their incompetence and cupidity, have stripped so many of theirs. Then there must be an election so that the people may clean up this mess as the leaders of the three main parties have signally failed to do. In the meantime, Mr Martin, just go. You are a national embarrassment.

Unforced errors

ConservativeHome's Seats & Candidates blog: Local Association officers back Douglas Hogg MP.

What kind of political fool would openly back Douglas Hogg or Andrew Mackay in the face of current public contempt for their conduct? Their constituency chums may be loyal friends, but they have done their party a lot of harm.

Had I been the chairman of Hogg's constituency association, I would have told him to prepare his case against deselection to put to the association when called upon to do so. In the meantime, I would have demanded he keep his nose clean and his head down.  I would have refused to call an association meeting or discuss the matter further until the smoke had cleared. Hogg is not the worst offender, by any means. His conduct, while embarrassing, was not probably not criminal. But he and his infernal moat have become the emblems of the Tory side of this scandal. His association has now perfected the comic narrative for Labour and its luvvies in the media. He acted like a feudal lord and they -the damned fools- have tugged their forelocks.

Mackay's local council colleagues have been less dim, but no less naive. He may not even have asked them to express their support. They were put in that invidious position by ConservativeHome and should have ignored a question irrelevant to their role as councillors, which they were under no obligation to answer.

What the friends of such reprobates are doing by loyally seeking to protect them is signalling to local electors the extent to which the party thinks it can take their votes for granted. It achieves nothing good and does a lot of harm. Just when New Labour is finally being punished for disrespecting its core vote, the Conservatives appear to be copying the tactic. In protecting Hogg and Mackay from Conservative Party discipline, their local friends risk exposing the party to the electors' wrath. If the party won't discipline them, the electorate may try. Given a "white suit" or suitable minority party candidate as its weapon, it might even succeed.

It is dangerous to take any electors for granted right now. The provincial working class which established the Labour Party is incredibly loyal. Yet even it submitted to being Blair and Brown's political commode for only a decade. Having watched that happen, I doubt if rather more sophisticated Conservative voters will wait meekly in line for their turn. Cameron needs to get on the phone to all his constituency chairmen before more such foolish things are done. It's not too hard to imagine a smoothly plausible Tory MP talking his constituency association into backing him just before the fraud squad comes calling.

Local associations would do well to strike stern poses, maintain dignified silences and keep their powder dry. Unless they have a clear case for deselection, of course, in which case they should act ruthlessly and without hesitation. Better an ex-Tory MP in gaol than a current one.