Over lunch the other day, I criticised the Conservative Party for its poor performance as HM Opposition. One of my friends asked how I would do it differently and this (above) was one of my tongue-in-cheek suggestions. What do you think?
So a piece of academic research seems to confirm what the nasty right-wingers have been saying. Given the red/pink (shall we call it burgundy?) bias in Britain's academia, that's a rare occurrence.
On our way to hospital this morning for the first of Mrs P's treatments, our London cabbie took our minds off our troubles with a truly magnificent anti-government tirade. He had been sitting on the rank outside our hotel for 3 hours with four other taxis and no sign of a fare. Yesterday, he took £15 from 12 hours work and he was not happy about it. He told us he had never seen London so quiet in 36 years at his job and was scornful of what he called the "worst government ever's" claims to be solving a problem for which he held them entirely to blame.
His rant was not as grammatical as one of DK's, but was every bit as colourful. He called into question both the ethics and parentage of Her Majesty's principal ministers. He was particularly scathing about Alan Johnson, who used to lead his son's union "... and was always useless..." He strongly defended HM Opposition when I suggested they were at least partly to blame for doing their job so badly. However (while he didn't think Cameron was too bad and "didn't care what a man's background was as long as he did an honest job") he would have preferred David Davis to be in charge. His main anger was reserved though, for those who are taking the benefits system for a ride. He said most of his neighbours are living on benefits and felt they were laughing at him for working. His leisure consists of a weekend flutter and he finds it infuriating that everyone else in his local betting shop is also gambling with money he worked for. They are not alone. So, at the moment, is HMG.
Congratulations to "The Real Machiavelli" for bringing us this story of how our
great nation rewards the families of its heroes. If you have a blog, please link to him. As Prodicus (to whom a tip of the hat) says;
Read the linked article and you may better understand this.
The single most sickening aspect of modern British society is the fate of children bred to maximise state benefits. The most extreme recent example is the "British Fritzl," who kept his daughters in captivity and raped them over a period of 25 years in order to produce more child benefit. Fritzl is a sick, sadistic pervert. His British equivalent is a lazy, greedy, sick sadistic pervert motivated by the desire to live free on the work of his fellow-citizens.
We are told that one in ten British children is subject to abuse. How can that be? Surely any parent knows that the instinct to nurture and protect one's children is one of the most powerful drives in nature? Yet, case after case demonstrates (as the persistence of property crime had long since proved) that the evil are, in economic terms, "rational actors." They respond to incentives. If you offer farmers subsidies for oilseed rape, the fields turn yellow. If you offer scum subsidies to have children, they will set to breeding with a will.
I don't hold with the sentimental view that everything driven by a desire for money is evil. Money is just a morally-neutral means of exchange. The desire to have it is simply the desire to have more choices in life. But there are some things (and having children is one of them) that should be driven by higher motives.
Police investigating the disappearance of Shannon Matthews found touching notes from the child to her elder brother;
"Do you think we'll get any tea tonight?" ["tea" being what we from oop North call the evening meal] Shannon scribbled in one note. In another she said: "If we're quiet we might get a bag of sweets. Don't talk too loud or get a beating."
These children were helpless prisoners at the mercy of an uncaring woman who did not even remember precisely how many of them she had. What chances in life did they have? Sadly, Shannon and her siblings are not alone. Sadly, they are more than averagely likely to grow up to repeat their appalling mother's lifestyle. Baby P. (another child born for the welfare benefits to his mother) had he lived, was more than averagely likely to grow up to be an abusive parent.
Why would anyone create incentives to motivate those least likely to nurture their children to produce the bulk of the next generation? Who stands to benefit? Not the families themselves. Certainly not the children. Certainly not the wider society that will have to deal with them when they grow up (with hope-inspiring exceptions) to be dysfunctional citizens.
The only beneficiary of this system is the Labour Party, which created it.
There is a polite convention in British politics that we assume our opponents, however misguided, to be well-intentioned. I know it is a terrible thing to believe anyone capable of deliberately promoting human misery for political profit, but having grown up in the Labour heartlands, I am afraid I do. The greatest threat to the future of the Labour Party is prosperity. Apart from a few tens of thousands of votes from eccentric aristocrats and Guardian-reading, middle-class sentimentalists, Labour depends on the votes of two categories of people; state employees and the poor. It is in the interests of the Labour Party to maximise the numbers of both. Like Karen Matthews, whom it resembles in so many ways, the Labour Party is a "rational actor."
This, from "a site devoted to developing internet based resources for Labour Party members and supporters";
Labour's organisational crisis is deep. We have no money. We have too few experienced organisational staff. The real level of our membership is barely more than half that of the Tories. But the crisis of the left is deeper still. The organising idea of the mainstream left - socialism defined as the abolition of, or the severe curtailment of, private ownership has proved both to be a failure and, worse still, a route to repression. Too few on the left are yet prepared to admit this in public but the facts show that over the last half-century the capitalist countries and not the socialist ones have been the most progressive and have done most to liberate their citizens.
Dizzy is adding value by pointing out the kind of "internet based resources" transpero.net is "devoted to developing" for the Labour Party. That Labourites are buying up websites with Tory names, presumably to be used for deception (why else would they want them) should be front page news. They have been detected in preparation for the digital equivalent of Watergate-style "dirty tricks", which should tell voters everything they need to know about them. As Dizzy says;
Suddenly an attack blog appears that uses the name "toryparty" ..., and it's set-up, hosted, and pointed to the site of one of Draper's former rapid rebuttal colleagues from Millbank. You do the maths. If I was in CCHQ I would be starting domain dispute proceedings...
I have to ask, given his political leanings and his technical skills, why ISN'T Dizzy working at the Conservative HQ? He would be a valuable asset in what is clearly going to be a dirty election.
Just when the full extent of Francis Fukuyama's idiocy is finally becoming apparent, the UK government's financial incompetence is compromising the defence of the realm. Right now, the government should be cutting every public sector job involving tasks too vague for concrete tests of successful performance to be applied. Instead it is trying to offload orders for fighter planes, which it cannot now afford, despite having had more than 10 years (the planes having been delivered very late indeed) to save up. The real story here is not the loss of the planes (with which the forces seem unenamoured) but the admission that our government is so financially incompetent as not to make provision for its obligations. Was it hoping to win the lottery perhaps?
I am tired of hysterical risk assessments. Almost every problem today is touted as a "greater threat than global warming" (probably true, but that's not how it's meant). However, I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that our nation's independence has rarely been more vulnerable than it is now. I do not fear the much-exaggerated terrorist threat. The hapless primitives of Muslim extremism have never been as dangerous as the Soviet-trained and American-funded hard men of the IRA, despite having a few losers prepared to sacrifice their own lives in an attempt to kill. There will not be as many of those as we fear. The human will to live is remarkably strong. Nor will the threat last as long. We may struggle to digest Muslim men into our culture but we will absorb the women, for whom traditional ways are not quite as attractive. All we have to do to begin that process is cut off the supply of village girls for arranged marriages. British-educated Muslim women will take care of the rest.
The real risks we face now are both internal and external. Internally, we face the loss of our freedoms under cover of "The War Against Terror." That is in our own hands. We must make it clear to our politicians at every opportunity, both by democratic process and civil disobedience, that we will not submit. We must make it clear that this kind of PC nonsense is not the way to "protect" us against terrorists. Only good intelligence work can do that - and then imperfectly.
The external threat is less dramatic, but no less serious. We face Finlandisation by the sub-optimally democratic powers of the world that Nature has blessed with oil and gas. Eco-fantasies aside, our civilisation depends as profoundly on those fuels as on the air we breathe. We have been buffered by North Sea supplies for a while, but that is almost over. Even if it were not, I doubt the soon-t0-be-independent Scots would be gentler fuel overlords than the Saudis or their competitors. Without that buffer, we can already see Germany chumming up to the suppliers on which its industry depends. Thanks to the "Atomkraft? Nein Danke!" idiots of the 1980's, it has no choice. We are in no place to sneer. We have already compromised our own ethics for Saudi Arabia, so let's not pretend we will not do the same for other suppliers, whoever they are and whatever their demands
Our two key spending priorities right now should therefore be energy independence (building nuclear power stations - and fast) and defence. We should be building, not scaling down, our home defences and we should prioritise them over foreign adventures. We need to secure as many sources of energy supply as possible until our nukes come online, in order to play one supplier off against the other. And we need a navy and air force able to defend our supply routes.
While New Labour has tinkered relentlessly (and at huge economic and social cost) with every trivial aspect of our lives, it has failed in the primary role of government. It has not secured our independence as a nation.
The first time I remember hearing the name "Tony Benn" was in 1975. I was discussing with my father how to vote in Harold Wilson's referendum on whether to remain in "the Common Market". This was my first vote and I was terribly serious about it. Given a lethal combination of youthful idealism and an attraction to cheap French wine (whatever happened to that benefit of the EU?) I was going to vote "Yes". My father said he had planned to vote "No" but, learning that would put him on the same camp as Tony Benn, he had decided he must be wrong. "Generally speaking," he said, "whatever that man says, you should believe the opposite."
I was a young lefty then and rather shocked by his approach, but over the years (except over the EU) my father's rule of thumb would have worked pretty well. Even though I was then on his side, politically, I didn't like the man. There's something rather patrician and condescending about him; in a way no patrician who was not of the Leftist Establishment would dare.
A couple of years ago, I bought a DVD of one of his one-man shows. I rather enjoyed it. I have to confess that, while still infuriatingly condescending, he has a certain personal charm. Most politicians do, up close (how else would the rogues get elected?). He certainly has a way with a friendly audience. My surprised comment to Mrs P. about how much I enjoyed it was relayed to her Northern Labourite mother. The result was that I was given the latest volume of his diaries for Christmas. Ever the optimist, my mother-in-law probably thought she could help me towards her dead-but-still-poisonous 19th Century ideology. I smiled at this thought (I love her dearly, despite her manifold political delusions) and added the book to the bottom of my "to read" pile
Finally, I have read it. Again, he has surprised me. Contrary to what I have thought all these decades, he's not a bad man at all. He may even be rather a good one. Making allowances for the fact that his more recent diaries are self-consciously for publication (one way to have him like you, it seems, is to tell him how much you enjoyed the earlier volumes) he's a sincere, kind, familial human being. He's not a villain at all, but an absolute fool.
...where is? Is this the end of triangulation in British politics, with the core vote taken for granted by New Labour finally biting back? Does it signal the end of the United Kingdom? Democracy is such a crude tool when you think about it. For all my undoubted schadenfreude at Labour's richly-deserved humiliation, I am not sure what the voters of Glasgow East have said.