THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Of sheep and distemper
Of angels, pinheads and snake-oil

Of petrol, pasties and the rape of Liberty

I have taken a break from the world for a week. I cruised the single-track roads and waiting smilingly in the passing places of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. I drank whisky, ate poor food and looked at magnificent scenery. I pictured my ancestors (for, despite Salmond's history-pokery, we are all one people) cruising those sea lochs in renamed Viking longboats and scratching a living from a landscape the fertility of which varies inversely with the beauty of the shapes into which it is arranged. It was great.

I did cast an eye over an occasional newspaper. Some fusspot civil libertarians were jeopardising the nation's safety, apparently, but the main issue of the hour was whether or not our political leaders really DO like cheap pasties from some out-of-control Geordie pie-shop. Oh, and whether it had been sensible for some politician to give filling stations the excuse to rack up the price of my motor car's food.

Then I got home and read the blogs. No wonder the politicians constantly hatch schemes to bring citizen journalists under the same 'regulation' as the dying, old-fashioned, corrupt press. The pie shop barely rated a mention and the bloggers were largely unmoved by the 'petrol shortage'. What warped priorities are these?

In opposition, where soon they will repose again, the Coalition was - if not red-hot - at least pinkly-flushed about civil liberties. Labour's refreshingly honest, open, totalitarian-with-a-brave faced-schemes to monitor all citizens at all times lest they act in their own interests were, then, unacceptable. Like most honest citizens who ask little more than to be able to keep the bulk of the proceeds of their own labours and to be free to spend their lives as they wish, both the 'Conservatives' and the 'Liberal Democrats' (note the use of quotation marks as wash-tongs to hold soiled concepts at arm's length) were agin 'em. Trust the people, they cried, in the hope of reciprocation.

But now they are in power and the world is a different place. Or at least the British state is, now that its chain of command ends with them. The French have their own notion of what is the 'English vice' but we are self-aware enough to know that it is, and has always been, hypocrisy. We (not just the English ourelves but the whole Anglo-Saxon world that bears our DNA) are hypocrites to a man.

Who would have guessed that these pink-faced products of old money were the most vicious Englishmen of all? Let's have the other lot back. At least while they rape our liberties, they won't pretend to love them. Such is the fun to be had - once in power - in bossing others around that there apears to be no option to elect any that DO love our liberties.

In the meantime, here are some of the more sterling attempts to do what I should perhaps have been doing when I was having fun. If you don't want to live in a world where the Greggs' pasty is at the centre of political life, I suggest you visit these sites and bookmark or RSS them. Oh, and the picture of my favourite view in the world is to soothe you as you read this stuff.

Big Brother is back

There's something secret

Listen you ignorant trollop

Email and web snooping is unworkable

Meet the new boss

This guy thinks 1984 is an instruction manual

OK, so this is not an April Fool

Tell me this is an April Fool, please

Someone loves Big Brother

Internet privacy - a draft letter to your MP

Digital Dave is watching you

What Davy said, in opposition

Watching your fall

and the BBC's take on it (more regulations needed to regulate the regulators)




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It is pleasant to hear you are enjoying your vehicle,even if it is necessary to leave England to do so.

Quite by coincidence I came upon this article by another retiree also enjoying his new-found independence

I have come to the conclusion that we must enjoy these indulgences while we can, a strange authoritarian urge seems to be gripping the world and debasement of the currency will soon ensure that it is worthless.


Let's be having those foodie recommendations! I am a frequent (at least once a year) visitor and had such fun in my car this time that I don't think I will be too long before returning. If I thought proper restauration was a possibility, I would stay longer! I tried Ireland for one of my road trips. I loved the food (lots of good food there, so the Celts are not all crippled gastronomically) and the people but hated the roads! I shall only ever return by plane for a rugby match. It's a waste of time even having a car on the Emerald Isle, what with the crap surfaces and the massive tractors driven by time-rich peasants obstructing every view.

I am off to Italy for "pilot training" on the Ferrari test track in a couple of weeks, so first things first! I shall be able to cover more Scottish ground with the benefit of that. It would be great to navigate from one good meal to another next trip.

The photo is from the battlements of Dunvegan Castle, looking out to the sea loch that was the only way in for most of that building's history. It has been in continuous occupation by one family - the McLeods - for more than 800 years - longer than any other house on these islands. Lucky so and sos. I have no hankering to be aristocracy, but would have loved to be The McLeod of that ilk. I hope he appreciates his good fortune in owning the best house in the British Isles.

Andrew Duffin

You don't have to eat bad food in the Highlands, Tom - ask for a few recommendations next time...

And don't be such a tease, where is that photo taken?


@Peter Whale: It seems that the internet is the last bastion of free speech.

For now, maybe... But for how much longer?

james higham

It's a litany of dismay, Tom. My prediction is the house of cards comes down after the Olympics. It's already down in reality, in default territory but they're just pretending it's not.

In recent days, iDave must have peeved the press as there've been one or two nice pieces coming out. Let this continue.

Peter Whale

Tom you are at your best showing up the establishment for their hypocrisy over civil liberties.
I think the first comment I made on your blog was to say that it was your profession that had a lot to answer for the erosion of our civil liberties, by not defending them as they should. You rightly took me to task. How naive I was. Although they bear some responsibility along with the other professions who do not speak out.The main culprits are the MSM that establishes such a cosy relationship with power and does their bidding so well.
I never ever buy a newspaper and get all my news from the internet. Starve the beast of money and they will disappear. It seems that the internet is the last bastion of free speech. Thanks for the links.


Pleased you had a good holiday-and glad that you're back blogging. The whisky has certainly not dulled you.

With regard to the Highlands, they are indeed a place of desolate beauty,but, as you found, the food is frequently pretty grim. How this can be when the country itself produces the finest beef, good lamb and fantastic seafood has always been a mystery.

On your main point, hypocrisy is indeed the Anglo saxon vice-and I think always has been. The British Empire was, of course a product of those preaching liberty but practising something quite else for others-and not just the inhabitants of the colonies. In one of the few sensible things Tony Benn ever said, he described the UK as the last colony of the British Empire-it still is.

And haven't the pink faced products of old money always been the most vicious of all Englishmen? And historically haven't they always dressed it up as being in the "national (i.e. their own)interest"? This time it seems their "spin" doesn't wash quite as well as it used to.

Perhaps we've all grown up (courtesy of Blairs "weapons of mass destruction" perhaps?). Let's hope so.

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