THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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February 2014

Harriet Harman is being treated unfairly

Cranmer on Labour's paedophile problem

I agree with Harriet Harman that she is being smeared, but I struggle to feel as sorry for her as I should. She who lives by the sword shall, with a bit of luck approximating to karmic justice, perish by it. It is simply delicious that a women who has worked so tirelessly to undermine liberty and the rule of law is now in need of both. She doesn't seem as keen on 'the court of public opinion' now that she faces 'trial' herself.

Harman was one of the puritanical Left's Witchfinders in the scandal surrounding the allegations of under-age sex (but not paedophilia in his case) involving Jimmy Savile and other 1970s celebrities. Yet as in-house lawyer at that time to the National Council of Civil Liberties (now Liberty) she saw no need to advise her client that it was a problem to have the Paedophile Information Exchange as an affiliate. Indeed she seems to have worked on some of the outrageous papers supporting some of PIE's positions that NCCL published at the time. One might wonder how a newly-qualified solicitor found herself in such a role, but that's another issue. NCCL was pretty much a captive of the Labour Party and young Harman was already firmly on the left, where ideology always takes priority over talent or expertise.

Mysteriously she won't accept that her failure to give such advice was a mistake. I didn't qualify until 1982, so she is senior to me in our profession but I would certainly have acted differently in her place. Nor do I know any colleagues of that vintage who would not. I don't think the sexual mores of Britain changed very much between the mid 1970s and the early 1980s, but that's irrelevant according to Ms Harman. She has loudly insisted - when it suited her political position - that they haven't changed in forty years. 

That's hypocritical nonsense of course. We are talking of the era of The Little Red Schoolbook; an era of profound sexual upheaval. I still have my copy somewhere; a relic of my time as a teenage leftist in Harman's era at NCCL.

Not even the Daily Mail mentions now that PIE originated as a special interest group of Outright Scotland or that it merged with Paedophile Action for Liberation (itself an NCCL affiliate before the merger) - an offshoot of the South London branch of the Gay Liberation Front. It's not too surprising (if you are not an hypocrite who refuses to acknowledge that times change) that paedophiles, gay and straight, should have latched onto the gay movement's campaign to normalise what were then 'alternative' sexualities. Nor should a non-hypocrite seek to smear the gay movement for its failure - in those heady, underfunded, radical days, to differentiate as precisely between 'correct' and 'incorrect' attitudes as it now expects of others. It had not yet won the victory that now allows it to demonise those who fail to keep up with its ever-changing thought-crimes.

It really was a different world, in short, and the currently rather prudish Left have been foolish to intensify their attacks on the Catholic Church and Savile's showbiz circles by saying that it wasn't. As His Grace points out in the linked post;

The thing is, Pope Benedict XVI spent much of his pontificate issuing profuse expressions of remorse and repentance on behalf of his church for the heinous acts of paedophile priests and the post-conciliar hierarchical conspiracy of cover-up. And the BBC is still apologising over its 1970s "groupie" culture of misogynistic permissiveness and predatory paedophilia. Both institutions are horrified and appalled - 40 years on - that they did nothing to protect so many vulnerable victims over such a long period. But at least the perpetrators are now being held to account - one of them even post mortem.

These institutional apologies have not protected either, of course, from the relentless smears of the Left. Yet, for all their failings, neither the Catholic Church nor the BBC ever sought to justify the misconduct or, still less as the NCCL did, to argue that it should be normalised. 

Conservative commentators are reacting to this story in a generally gentle and seemly way. Iain Dale is taking the Milliband line. The Spectator is magnanimously pointing out that 

There is no continuity of between the positions Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt adopted in the 1980s and their thought today. In office, Harman led a group of Labour women politicians who worked to make the law friendlier towards rape victims. Hewitt, Harman and Harman’s husband Jack Dromey (who was at the NCCL at the time) have not campaigned to reduce the age of consent to 14 or 12, or to abolish it.

I am glad that the non-Left is being reasonable and refusing to make the kind of vicious demands for intemperate action that characterise 'righteous' leftists when they taste the blood of political opponents. It does them great credit and I hope voters notice. That said, the Daily Mail has really done no more than pick up Harman's and Dromey's own discarded grenades of hypocrisy and political dishonesty and lob them back into their trench.

Human rights from the wrong humans?

Tory plans to axe human rights laws will remove obligation on state to protect its citizens, says Keir Starmer - Telegraph.

Keir Starmer illustrates, all unwittingly, exactly what has gone wrong in Britain. Take his hilarious statement that:
In the pre-Human Rights Act days, a civil liberties approach and the common law (sic) struggled to achieve this.

Were Britons in any way at a disadvantage to those citizens of civil law countries whose "positive rights" were in the gift of their rulers? I think not. I don't think our grandfathers thought so. They would have regarded such a notion as both stupid and unpatriotic. I agree with them, unfashionable as patriotism now is. Stupidity, of course, is always in fashion.

Our rights as humans derive from our being human. They are not the gift of any state or inter-state agency. Particularly not the United Nations, which routinely has dictators and thugs chairing its "human rights" committees. As soon as they are shaped by politicians rather than moralists they will become instruments of control. 
As a side light on this subject, I looked up the etymology of the word politics to reinforce my point and found this wonderful quote;
Historically speaking, all political communities of the modern type owe their existence to successful warfare.[6]
So much for the moral inferiority of private property rights to those of the state, eh? The statists who seek to control more and more of our rights are the organisational heirs of our conquerors. Their whole argument - for all their camouflage of "social contracts" (show me a copy) and the "consent of the governed" (take away the state monopoly of violence and see if behaviours change) comes down to "might is right". Love the boot, even as it stamps on your face.
Our human rights are ours to defend. If anyone interferes with them, we are entitled to act. That right of self-defence is itself a moral human right. The only reason we have so many "victims" in our society for Starmer's fantastically benevolent state to "protect", is because that same state has removed that human right.
In general, our rights as free men and women should be to do anything to anyone or anything not specifically prohibited by a clear and unequivocal law of universal application (including, by virtue of the Rule of Law, of application to the State and its agents). All other laws are morally wrong.
In the sick minds of Starmer and Britain's other state-lovers they are not our servants but our masters. Like good little slaves we should look to the massas to keep us safe. The more power they have to do that, the more content we should be and the safer we should feel. To the extent that we think about it at all, of course. We shouldn't really trouble our little heads as it's a distraction from our working to keep them in style in the big house.

Even more insulting is his stupid observation that

Around the world, citizens have fought for years for basic rights from their governments. In the UK, having now got them, some want to hand them back.

We can't hand back what was never theirs. They have no rights to give us. They exist at our sufferance.

All we want (from a state so small and weak as to present no threat in itself) is a clear set of laws with broad agreement from all. Not laws that tell us who to be or how to think, but laws that leave us free men and women with full rights of thought, speech and self-defence. We don't want them by the thousand so that even a lawyer can't know them all. We want only necessary, obvious laws that derive from clear moral principle. If we can't find a nexus between a new law and the non-aggression principle then to hell with it and to hell with the deceivers who propose it.

Mr Starmer's vision of us as children in the arms of Mother State is insulting, demeaning and - most of all - immoral. The state's imagined "duty" to protect us has already transformed, predictably, into a raft of laws designed to shape us to its aims. Such a state will attract to the ranks of its thugs, cronies and - most of all - leaders, the lowest, most exploitative type of bully.

Get Well Soon, Tony Benn

BBC News - Tony Benn seriously ill in hospital.

I rather like Tony Benn. He's a glorious English eccentric. He's an aristocrat whose attempts at working class affectation are so weak as to be hilarious. His patrician affection for the working class is, however, never in doubt. Say what you like about him, he did not use working people as fuel for his own career, unlike so many in his party (including some who were working men once). He is sincere in his stupidity. He believed he was doing good.
His instinctive emotional reaction is that of the better sort of country squire. Like many of his generation (including many far cleverer than him) he was drawn by the easy, wrong answers of Marxism. Still I have no doubt that - unlike many of his political successors - he has his heart in the right place.
He has been the political weathervane of many. My father told me years ago "I am not much interested in politics, but if Tony Benn's against it, I'm for it". That has guided many better than more studious approaches, except perhaps on the subject of the European Community. Benn was against continued membership at the time of the only referendum we were ever allowed, which convinced many Common Market-sceptics to vote the wrong way. Including me, a naif exercising my ballot for the first time.
I find it hard to believe any current socialist is a good person, given the 20th Century's unequivocal demonstration of the consequences of that vicious doctrine. Either they will its vile ends, are too stupid to understand them or are hucksters playing on its appeal to the weak and envious.
I make an exception for Benn. He's not very bright. He could talk for England in the Talking Olympics but he doesn't listen very well. His thoughts are in ruts so deep he can no longer see over the sides. But despite his continued willing of ends that would kill, impoverish and oppress, I am still fond of the guy.
I wish you a speedy recovery, poor misguided Tony. You have had a good run, but still I hope you live to see what a fool you have been. For someone with such a muscular conscience that will be, even if it's only in your final moments, all the hell you deserve.

Rich List stats

My Way News - Class back on rise in UK _ but elite different.

Apropos the Sunday Times Rich List;
Philip Beresford, who assembles the list, told the BBC that "when I first started 25 years ago about two-thirds of the rich list were people who had inherited their wealth. Today, approaching 80 percent are self-made and that's really a legacy of the Thatcher years."
Can that be anything but good news to anyone but the envious? Can we stop rabbiting on about medieval injustices now please?
More freedom. More education. More opportunity. Less whinging. Less leftist teaching. Less poverty.

A sustained sneer in The Observer

Meet Cody Wilson, creator of the 3D-gun, anarchist, libertarian | Technology | The Observer.

I do enjoy a Guardian writer sneering at an enemy's arguments as those "you might formulate in a sixth-form debating society" and at his "19th-century taste for ideologies and theories". It's deliciously ironic when her own thinking will never rise above the level of sixth-form debate and she faithfully serves a (failed) 19th Century philosophy.
The only part that jarred was her sneer at
the US, where any aforesaid nut can simply go out and buy a gun in a shop, and the rights of nuts to go and buy such guns is enshrined in the constitution
and her ridiculous comment that 

In Britain, where we hope our robbers carry nothing more than a big stick and arm our police officers accordingly, it's a potential societal revolution that none of us asked for

She reports her interviewee's point, but still manages to miss it as badly as one of his plastic home-made guns. Did she not read her own article?

Wilson believes the Liberator will undermine the power of government and radically democratise everything and transform the relationships between individuals and the state. 

Yes, we want guns to shoot criminals who threaten us. Firearms are so readily available to them that we are really asking for nothing more than - in Guardian terms - equality and social justice between the criminal and non-criminal communities. We are not fussed how many criminals die, but that doesn't make us uncaring because we also believe that many people would never become criminals if it could be made as risky as, say, being a victim of crime.

But we also want to deter the heavily-armed state. To break its monopoly of force. To keep it in its place as our servant by restoring its fear of us. We don't believe there would be nearly as many smug Guardianisti telling us how to live our lives if every Englishman's castle still had guns behind the portcullis. 

It seems that Guardianista brains are so thoroughly conditioned that they can't even grasp that concept for long enough to sneer at it.

A recipe for a poor nation

BBC News - Lord Smith: Environment Agency 'bound by Treasury rules'.


  • One rich free-range nation, reared on fertile terrain
  • Millions of productive citizens
  • Thousands of intellectuals, incubated in ivory towers well away from reality
  • Complacency
  • Belief in the virtue of the state apparatus (common name: credulity)
  • Problems (foraged ingredients, to be found anywhere)
  • Demands for government to solve all problems
  • Left or right-wing political pretexts (according to taste)


A big stick


  1. Add complacency and credulity to your rich nation
  2. Mix your intellectuals with your demands that government solves all problems
  3. Beat your productive citizens with big stick to extract juices
  4. Use juices to coat the problems, observing (but ignoring) the increase in risky behaviours
  5. Wait for problems to re-occur
  6. Heat on a high flame of opposition criticism of inadequate government action
  7. Turn up heat as politicians in power blame their officials
  8. Bring to the boil as officials blame the government for not employing enough officials
  9. Marinade the situation in productive citizen-juice and coat with a thick crusting of more officials
  10. Season with political pretext of choice

Of verbals and planted evidence

Downing Street police arrested over allegations of pornography exchange | UK news | The Guardian.

When I practised criminal law in my youth, I was sceptical of clients who said the police had made up false statements or 'verballed' them - giving false evidence of oral confessions or remarks suggesting guilt. As a nice young man brought up to respect the boys in blue, I did not believe they would descend to such dishonesty. I didn't want to believe it.
I presented the cases as best I could of course. I hope the magistrates didn't detect my scepticism.
The Metropolitan Police have finally convinced me that those long-ago clients were telling the truth. Its officers verballed Andrew Mitchell and made up false statements about the 'plebgate' incident so casually that it's obviously routine. They expected to get away with doing it to Mitchell because they had so many times before.
My clients also told me that the police routinely planted evidence. I didn't believe that either. Now we learn that evidence has been found on the smartphones of the very officers who embarrassed the Met.
It's easy to put damning materials on someone's computer or mobile phone. You can do it at your leisure and don't even need the sleight of hand required to put drugs in someone's pocket. There now almost always seems to be illegal content on hard drives seized by the Bill.
My scepticism is rather heightened when I read that the disciplinary proceedings against these officers have been suspended while the CPS decides what to do about their alleged 'extreme porn' habit. Suspended until the public loses interest perhaps?

The aspidistra has crash landed

Miss Paine the Younger made me the perceptive gift of this book. I read Orwell's books and many of his essays at school, but knew nothing until now about the man himself. So influential were his words on my young mind that Shelden's biography explains me almost as much as his subject.

Orwell is one of few famous socialists I could have liked. There are many I know in everyday life and am not such a bigot as to discard, but I hold influential men to higher standards.

Those acquainted only with 1984 or Animal Farm might not even think of him now as a Socialist. Both books parody Soviet Communism with which most British Socialists (with reservations varying inversely with their immorality) sympathised. So, in fact did Orwell. 

I think that if the USSR were conquered by some foreign country the working class everywhere would lose heart, for the time being at least, and the ordinary stupid capitalists would be encouraged ... I want the existence of democratic Socialism in the West to exert a regenerative influence upon Russia.

He thought the Russian Revolution good, but that it had been hijacked by the power hungry. He was sage enough to realise those are the very people likely to lead revolutions but naive enough to imagine

that revolutions only effect a radical improvement when the masses are alert and chuck out their leaders as soon as the latter have done their job

How could an intelligent man harbour such a fantasy? Any chucking 'the masses' did would be at the suggestion of leaders out to replace the revolution's victors! Surely any fool could see they would not only be nastier and more cunning but at least as power-hungry? Socialism, whether achieved by revolution or democracy, requires enormous state power. Such power will attract the scum of the Earth. That's not a bug, it's a feature.

The most interesting passages, scattered through the book, deal with Orwell's romantic imaginings of a democratic Socialist England, somehow untinged by authoritarianism. His biographer writes that

The England that Orwell declares his loyalty to is a place where tyranny cannot easily establish a foothold because of the deep commitment to what he calls 'private liberty', by which he means 'the liberty to have a home of your own, to do what you like in your spare time, to choose your own amusements instead of having them chosen for you from above'.

He loved freedom as much as the fieriest modern Libertarian but, economic illiterate that he was, failed to see that the only alternative to incentive is force. He imagined a society in which no-one could earn more than ten times than the lowest paid, but gave no thought for the violence required to prevent them earning more or seize their surplus. Not only did he think men had only to be shown what was right in order to do it, he ludicrously imagined that, in a free society, all would meekly accept a single view of 'what was right'. He romantically imagined

... a specifically English Socialist movement, one that appeals to the English character, and is not tainted by Marxism which was a German theory interpreted by Russians and unsuccessfully transplanted to England. His Socialism would not be 'doctrinaire, nor even logical', and would leave 'anachronisms and loose ends everywhere' - the lion and the unicorn will still be resplendent on the soldiers' cap buttons, the old judge will still wear 'his ridiculous horsehair wig.'

In his day successful Socialism was perhaps, if your understanding of economics was sufficiently limited, vaguely plausible. He probably expected the industries nationalised in 1946, for example, to perform much better under state control. There is no such excuse for Labourites today.

Most of all, he and his generation failed to grasp that if the state is player rather than referee in the national game, it will soon no longer be 'cricket'. Pretty much everything he hoped for was achieved by post-Orwellian Labour governments, with disastrous economic consequences. In the process "the English character" he so admired has been profoundly damaged.

Part of me, liking this well-meaning corduroyed buffoon of a provincial schoolmaster as I do, is glad he didn't live to see what nonsense it all was. Part of me wishes he had not died so young so that he could have satirised it with all his skill. 

What happened to legal tender?

Transport for London has announced that its buses will soon no longer accept our nation's bank notes and coins as payment. If this is legal, it shouldn't be. I was consulted and expressed strong views (be fair, I have few weak ones).

If one of my daughters is in a seedy area of town (they are young and prone to hipsterish views of what's entertaining), her Oyster Card is in the purse stolen from her in a club and her credit card is the subject of the latest bank technology failure I want her to be able to use emergency notes secreted about her person to get home safely. In this Cinderella City where the Tube bizarrely closes down at a puritanical hour, night buses matter. The only mode of transport more dangerous than a TfL night bus is a long walk home.

TfL says it has trained its drivers to adopt a consistent approach to protecting the vulnerable in such circumstances. Firstly, the word 'vulnerable' has been so corrupted by our unintelligentsia that I never want it applied to me or mine. Britain's 'vulnerable' are often the entitlement-obsessed protégés of our political gangsters. At best, they are the innocent excuses the gangsters use to extend the scope of their violent reign. That's not us, buddy.

Secondly, have they ever watched a London bus driver interact with his/her passengers? I have witnessed crudeness and obscenity on some occasions and jaded indifference on others - e.g. in response to a chavvy mother refusing to fold her stroller to make way for a disabled person in a wheelchair. The TfL policy is clear, as was no doubt the driver's training, but life is short and she couldn't be arsed.

Thirdly, this policy will ensure free travel for pushy, lying, latently-aggressive criminal sorts while honest, respectable girls - their potential victims - will not lower themselves to ask for a bus drivers' mercy. And, of course, fares will rise for the honest. Put like that, I suddenly see that it's stupid of me to be surprised. After all, thats pretty much the template for public policy in modern Britain.