THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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August 2010
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October 2010

September 2010

Time to move on?

When it comes to race, the move-on brigade can't dismiss the problems | Aditya Chakrabortty | Comment is free | The Guardian.

Not according to Aditya Chakrabortty, who is keen to hold onto the race card. Let's try not to suspect it's because he has few others in his hand. According to Aditya who, despite having the "wrong colour of skin" has somehow managed to land a job as economics leader writer for the Guardian;

...racism can still be as simple as being pulled over by a policeman for having the wrong colour of skin...

Yes, I suppose it can. It can also be as simple as assuming you were pulled over for having the "wrong" colour of skin. Perhaps it really is time to move on Aditya. But then reading some of your other articles, moving on from outdated dogma is not really your forte, is it?

Mrs P and Social Justice

We took a walk in Manchester city centre yesterday and found it amusing to see the party of the people surrounded by scruffy barricades and police protection. One plum-voiced young Jonty hanging around the perimeter of the Labour shanty-town was ill-advised enough to offer Mrs P. "a leaflet about social justice". "Social justice?" she remarked incredulously. "Piss off!"

Sometimes I think I am not the radical of the family after all.

Mr Eugenides on form

Mr Eugenides: The geek inherits the scorched earth.

I enjoyed the title, but my favourite part has to be;

Say what you like about David Cameron, but at least he's the most talented politician in his family.

Do read the whole thing and enjoy. I do begin to wonder though if the members of the anti-left commentariat are in danger of teaching Odd Ed's spin-doctors their job. Every word he and his supporters utter saps Labour's waning strength. Every word of criticism we offer, shows them the way out of the mire.

OK, we are happy that the enemy forces are badly led. We have said so, in chorus. But now is no time to gloat or sneer. It's rather a time to attack their wicked, debilitating, opportunity-destroying, ugly ideas. To attack them pitilessly until (as they already are in post-communist countries) they are the laughing stock of history.


 Ed Miliband - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

MilliblandFrom the point of view of anti-socialist, freedom-loving voters, this is the third best possible outcome to the Labour leadership contest. It is the best one we could reasonably have hoped for.

The unions' choice has prevailed and Labour is now led by a dour, snooty, charmless man. Television viewers were immediately presented with gleeful (and off-putting) trade union leaders welcoming their man with hyperbole about opposing the "assassination" of public services.

Labour is moving leftwards under the control of its paymasters. Odd Ed will play badly with the Labour heartlands. He will play even worse in Middle England. The bookmakers immediately lengthened the odds on Labour to win the next election.

This is the best news in British politics for a long while. Like Mr Milliband himself, I would like to thank the members of the Labour Party for electing him.

Quote of the day

Progressivism is about selling fantastic dreams  - work less, earn more, play more, become more attractive, be more admired by your peers, end hunger, end poverty, create world peace, abolish cancer, save the whales, save the planet all by simply voting once every few years and telling people, hey, I voted for cool. Musicians, actors, comedians… all manner of people who depend on being ‘in’ and ‘hip’ to make a living align themselves with progressive politics. Cos it’s cool. It’s one giant circle-jerk of ‘cool’.

Charlotte Gore

I am tired of the rich

I am tired of the rich, but not the same ones as Dr. Cable. Good luck to the City "spivs", I say. No-one has to give them their money to invest. Every fee they make is paid by choice. Every trade they organise is between volunteers. If either party to the trade loses, it's his own problem (unless the Government chooses to make it yours). Frankly, if we had as many choices about the greater part of our money now taken and spent by government as we do about the small part we have free to invest, we would be happier folk.

The rich I am tired of are the "old money" sorts who - from their comfortable homes in the country and the more elegant parts of London - lecture those of us who earned every penny we have (not to mention all the pennies we don't have because stolen to be frittered away by government). I am thinking of the Cleggs, the Camerons, the Millibands, the Toynbees and - let's not forget - the Blairs. From their places of safety, they blather on about social inclusion and "the vulnerable" but their drippy view of the world - as informed by guilty consciences played upon by Marxist educationalists - exposes the rest us to danger. If they had to live next to "the vulnerable", they might appreciate the "social exclusion" they are lucky enough to have inherited.

Being in the UK means having my heart started in the morning by the Today Programme on Radio 4. It's now a sort of Dragons' Den for "social entrepreneurs" - people pitching for taxpayers' money, supposedly to solve social problems, but actually (in many cases) to provide themselves a living from the public purse. Today someone advocating special drug courts set my heart pounding with words to the effect that it was ridiculous to imagine that people "disabled by their addiction" should "run their own lives" well enough to avoid having their children taken into care. Almost everyone is capable of running his or her own life. Only the belief - supported by the welfare industry - that someone else is better able to do it, can change that.

This kind of irresponsible thinking led to the police losing control of our streets, as reported by Sir Denis O'Connor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary;

One study showed that almost half of almost 6,000 people surveyed had changed their routines through fear of anti-social behaviour, by avoiding certain streets or not going out at night.

Tell me again who "the vulnerable" are! As Inspector Gadget notes, the problem is all about insulating people from the consequences of their own choices. Nothing could be more stupid. Nothing could be more predictable than the consequences of such stupidity. Those whose parents or grandparents became rich (with the assistance of previous generations of City spivs) are well able to scorn those who have yet to pull it off. Old money has always despised new. Old money has also always affected lofty concern for the downtrodden. The warped consciences of those who have never known poverty are, by their political expression, a threat to our civilisation. The possessors of those consciences - including the not-short-of-a-bob-or-two Dr. Cable himself - are the rich I am tired of.

Taking my ease

How nice to have unrestricted access to the internet. Despite my multiple VPN accounts, China has totally succeeded in preventing me from accessing Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and many blogging sites of late. My apologies to kindly readers who have "friended" me on Facebook during this electronic purdah. No offence was intended by my delay in responding. Nor have I lost interest in the blogs where I usually comment. I am simply back to being able to see them in Google Reader, but not to access them directly. It's most frustrating.

Many foreign diplomats live in my apartment building so one has to assume special attention is paid to its communications links. The broadband service is delivered centrally via an internal network. I am no expert in these matters, but I suspect my VPNs are being blocked there. I haven't given up my subscriptions yet, but I do increasingly wonder if they are worth the money (and the slower connection speeds).

Vittoria1 Work has been hard and occasionally unpleasant of late so I am glad to have the opportunity of the Mid-Autumn Festival to take a break. I have moon cakes in my baggage for Mrs P. to try and I have a weekend in the Cotswolds with a client, learned friend and occasional commenter here to look forward to. If you see Vittoria roaring tunefully about in the area of Chipping Campden on the 1st weekend of October, do give Navigator and me a wave. He's on a promise of a stint as driver, so he may have to change his nom de plume.

In the following week I shall be visiting Vancouver for the first time to attend the International Bar Association conference. While I am there, I shall take the opportunity to meet another valued commenter (and fellow-blogger) JMB for lunch.

In the meantime, as I await these treats, I am prescribing myself total rest. China is fun, but (in my office anyway) very tiring. At least when I return there on October 10 I shall have Mrs P. to keep me company and take my mind off the stress.

Any ideas?

DSC_1389_2Don't worry. I am not becoming a food blogger. However there was some confusion over a (very pleasant) lunch in Shanghai today as to what exactly this - the dessert included in our set meal - was. There were excellent Chinese speakers there, but the giggling waitress was rather testing their vocabulary with an account of it being made (so they understood) from the generative organs of a frog. It actually looks more like frogspawn, which may well have been what she meant.

I was not up for trying it myself but it smelled quite pleasant. The idea was to pour syrup and milk on it and then scrape it, along with the fruit, onto a spoon and eat it. We were told it's good for longevity (though it doesn't seem to have helped its original owners in that respect).

Can any knowledgeable reader tell me what my braver friends were really eating?

Is being British a skill?

Unusually for me, I have spent much of this week in the presence of Brits; first at a conference in Shanghai addressed by "civic leaders" from two Northern Cities whose football teams now contribute most to their GDP. One was an ex-teacher and the other an ex-social worker. Both were, as we say up North, "gobs on sticks" and both were (of course) Socialists. As representatives of modern Britain, they were - sadly - spot on. What was interesting was not what they had to say but the supreme confidence with which they said it. Here in one of the oldest continuous civilisations on the planet; the second largest economy after the USA; with one quarter of the world's people and one of the fastest growth rates anywhere, these mediocrities held forth with an arrogance born of never being challenged in the political desert they call home.

The Chinese participants were, as Chinese people are, very polite. They nodded as the "civic leaders" spoke of their cities' long-gone glory days. As they spoke I reflected that the city leaders of those times were not subsidy hounds like them, but shipping magnates and industrialists on the give, not the take. I am pretty sure they were higher grade human material than their modern equivalents. I am also pretty sure that the Chinese at the conference thought the connection to modern realities as tenuous as I did.

The next night I heard an English judge give a speech to assembled Chinese lawyers. I winced as he said how happy we were to help them develop their legal system. These people, m'lud, had a legal system when your ancestors were painting themselves blue. I am as proud of the English Common Law as the next lawyer, and probably more convinced of its usefulness in international commerce, but I am respectful (having practised law across the great Civil Law/Common Law divide) of the merits of other systems. His Chinese counterpart made a cheery remark about how a young lawyers exchange scheme had been discontinued because "we understand the British Government has some financial difficulties." You could see the twinkle in his eyes as he said it. What he didn't say (because stating the obvious is not a Chinese vice) was that If they thought there was real value in the scheme, their government has no such difficulties.

Perhaps I am being unfair. Most of the people at both UKTI-sponsored events were (a) serious and talented professionals and (b) nice people. It does strike me however that Brits are still - for all the humiliations of the last century - too quick to assume that there is something extra special about their knowledge and experience. We have as good a contribution to make as anyone else, of course - and the widespread use of our language makes it easier for us to make it - but quite what possesses the citizens of a small country with a crumbling economy to exhibit such collective bravado is beyond me.