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

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Public Drunkenness and Pomposity

Public Drunkenness Can Never Be a Social Norm - Iain Dale - Dale & Co..

Apropos of my previous post and the widespread delusion that candid photography is against the law, Iain Dale is busy digging himself deeper into a hole after an ill-advised photographic tweet on his way home last night (click to enlarge).


I defend his freedom of speech, of course, but I think he should be happy the lady cannot be identified as the publication is arguably libellous.

As a libertarian, I think the laws of defamation fall under the category of "de trop", but for so long as they exist (and they have been around a long time) Iain needs, particularly as a professional communicator, to bear them in mind. Fortunately for him, the first time anyone would have chance to consider the effect on her reputation would be if she were rash enough to identify herself by suing. So she won't. Before she even considers it, she ought to read about the role of an ill-judged defamation suit in Oscar Wilde's downfall.

It's a surprising lapse for Iain who is famous for his media skills and a highly accomplished communicator (usually of not very much). An amusing Twitterstorm has ensued, as the professionally-offended on the Left take up chivalric cudgels while calling him a c**t and a w*****r without any sense of irony. They are also ranting on about the breach of this anonymous lady's privacy, which is nonsense. Firstly, she's still anonymous and secondly she was in a public place. Anywhere you can lawfully be looked at, you can generally be photographed. People take photos on trains all the time, and - although usually incidentally - there are almost always strangers in the frame.

For what it's worth, I think Mr Dale is guilty of bad manners and a surprising, for him, lack of media savvy. He says she was behaving badly, but the picture doesn't illustrate his point in any way. She could just be depressed or tired. As it comes down to his word, he should probably have left it at words.

Iain is in danger of being seen as using the hammer of his influence to crack the nut of his irritation with a minor disturbance to his peace (allegedly) caused by this woman. Sadly he comes off looking like a pompous prat. In his own interests he should have apologised immediately but having rashly mounted his high horse he's having trouble getting off. His lines of defence look tortured and weak (can he really not have realised the sexual connotations of 'slapper?') and are doing him no good.

The only benefit to his not apologising is that the stream of gleefully sanctimonious responses show the British Left up for the insufferable prigs they mostly are. Ironically, if this tweet represented his true character, it would be a trait Iain had in common with them.

So we were right about this too?

EU-sceptics who predicted the failure of the single currency have been feeling pretty smug for a while. Now, those who have long complained that our political class was being bribed into support for the EU can also start telling their EU-mug friends "I told you so". According to today's FT:

A British MEP who leads the European parliament’s most powerful committee on economics and financial regulation is facing the threat of being ousted in a post-summit backlash against Britain.

The moves against Sharon Bowles, the Liberal Democrat who chairs the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee, threaten to make her one of the first casualties of UK prime minister David Cameron’s decision to wield the UK veto ... Although no formal request to change the committee chair has yet been tabled, some MEPs are openly calling for Ms Bowles to resign and are questioning whether a British MEP has the credibility to lead a committee dealing with the eurozone – a movement gathering momentum after Britain’s defiant stand at last week’s summit ... In a sign of the mounting pressure on British representatives in Brussels, Elmar Brok, a veteran German MEP, said it was time to “marginalise Britain, so that the country comes to feel its loss of influence” ...

So far so good. Our EUSSR comrades are wielding sticks and carrots to steer our political donkeys. Need we worry at all about their chosen beast? After all, the LibDems are among the EUSSR's most committed fifth columnists, so it seems a little mis-directed. Wait though, there may be some logic in their choice:

Although Ms Bowles’ views often clash with those of the UK Treasury, her position makes her the most influential British MEP and one of the diminishing points of UK leverage over a bout of Brussels rulemaking that seeks to reshape the City of London

Aha! Fortunately, the key word here is "seek." Good luck with that, comrades. And good luck with the Tobin Tax and censoring the output of the ratings agencies too. In fact, I hope you do both as soon as possible, the better to drive your investors to the City. We actually don't need the 15% of the EU's financial transactions carried out in your inferior, less trusted markets but times are tight and we wouldn't say no if you are really that stupid.

The EU is and always was a corrupt, anti-democratic farce. All that could perfect my schadenfreude as this delicious end-game unfolds would be for a British Prime Minister to have the testicular fortitude to lead us out before it collapses or we are expelled.

Not that being expelled from a collapsing edifice is such a terrible fate.

Vandalism, art or satire?

Painting the Soviet army monument is vandalism: Bulgarian Minister of Culture - Bulgaria - The Sofia Echo.

Soviet2 Of course, the Bulgarian Minister of Culture is right about the criminality of the act. Banksy's a criminal too. He's wrong about this though;

We (Bulgarians) are the only ones led by some kind of destructive force when it comes to monuments of socialism.

With due respect, Mr Minister, that's deplorable Bulgarian exceptionalism. Personally, I can never see one outside a museum without wanting to deface it - and neither can anyone with a proper sense of history. In case anyone's interested, this is what the whole thing looks like - the whimsical decorations above are to the bas reliefs on the base.

Soviet3I lived in Warsaw for 11 years. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Poles took down the Socialist monuments and changed the revolutionary names on the streets. They did so (as is the Polish wont) with a wicked sense of humour. Dzerzhinski Square (named for the Polish founder of the KGB) became "Bank Square". The former offices of the Communist Party became, for a while, the home of the Warsaw Stock Exchange and various other capitalist running dogs (including me).

I lived in Moscow for 6 years. The Russians (unable, like the Poles, unfairly to blame "the Russians" for everything bad in their recent history) retained the monuments and street names. They took the Bulgarian Culture Minister's view; i.e. that Socialism was a part of their history that should not be denied.

Personally, I think the Poles were right. Keeping the monuments of the vilest totalitarian empire in history in place makes no sense to me. What would it have told us if the Germans had retained their Hitler-era monuments on the basis that National Socialism had been (as it undoubtedly was) an important part of German history? Why is this any different?

Not that I am advocating a smash-the-Buddhas approach. The subject matter may have been evil, but some of these monuments were worthy pieces of art. That they were made in service of a false religion is no reason to destroy them. For myself, I still regret not managing to acquire one of the Socialist Realist reliefs that decorated the now-demolished Kino Moskwa* in Warsaw, for example. Even some of the artistically unworthy pieces were interesting historically. Perhaps the best approach is that represented this park in Budapest? Keep them by all means, but consign them to history where they belong.

*Partly because I have fond memories of a profoundly uncommercial cinema that had more than enough legroom for my two-metre-tall frame and partly because a bravely subversive Polish artist had humorously made the cow being led by noble, muscular Polish peasants just as noble and muscular itself. I wish I could find a picture to show you. It made me laugh every time we went to see a movie.

The charm of leftist incompetence

Bestsellers There is some amusement in the Paine household each morning at the fact that a certain parcel has not been delivered. Since Mrs P. ordered a reading lamp from (aargh) the Guardian online store, other parcels have been ordered (and arrived) from those wicked capitalists at Amazon, L'Occitane, Aveda, Net a porter, Ocado and John Lewis.

Not to mention that iTunes has instantly delivered Lady Gaga's latest offering and several rental movies have been served up both by ITunes and (when Apple's sadly limited offering palls) Virgin Media to while away our housebound evenings.

Yet every morning, the Guardian's parcel reminds us of Billy Bunter's famous postal order. It's only funny, of course, because the Guardian's shop is in competition with others. The NHS monopoly of aspects of our health care (so beloved by the bumbling Guardianisti) is causing rather less amusement chez nous.

Still, Guido need not worry about the implications of the Guardian bookshop's bestsellers list. The books will probably never have chance to do their wicked work on soft Islingtonian brains. In relieving them of their money for inadequate service their agitprop organ of choice is, ironically, delivering an education (if nothing else) to Guardian readers everywhere.

Leftism vs humour

You can’t have a laugh with a Lefty - Telegraph.

Simon Heffer doesn't strike me as the cheeriest soul himself. I have only seen him once in person; at Lords, which is a jolly enough place, and he had a longer face than the sporting circumstances justified. Still he nails the left in the linked article, which is unusually supportive of his avowed foe David Cameron.
Lefties, with one or two notable exceptions, are a sour, boot-faced lot. They are inevitably so because they are motivated by grievance and envy, neither of which is a sentiment guaranteed to put joy in one's heart. They seek offence where none is intended; they strive to suppress individuality of expression; they like to control others. Humour, whose main purpose throughout existence has been to deflate such priggish, pompous and sour attitudes, is therefore the enemy of militant Lefties, who wish to standardise attitudes and behaviour, and whose political project is to enforce and inflict as much control as possible over others.
Quite. Though Cameron would present a more difficult target for the miserabilists if his jokes were any good. I am convinced enough now of his good humour. It's his political courage I doubt.