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

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Burning our money

Burning our money.
Mike_DenhamI have missed "Wat Tyler's" old blog, which has been silent for two years. It was the one to which I always referred sceptics about blogging. "Wat's" alter ego was the perfect person to counteract the stereotype of bloggers as opinionated idiots writing from their mothers' basements. Mike Denham is a professional economist who has worked both at the Treasury and in the private sector. He is erudite and thorough in his research and considered in his conclusions.

The good news is that the Burning our Money blog is back. The better news is that Mike has written a book with the same title. True to his diligent nature he has not just recycled his six years of blogging but has researched and written it from scratch.

I met Mike once before at a bloggers' party where we were the only two present of any reasonable vintage. I was happy to see him again this evening at the launch party for his book. Here he is (click to enlarge), holding up the copy he kindly signed for me. I can't wait to get stuck into it and, knowing his writing so well, I confidently commend it to you. I also recommend you subscribe to the revived blog. On past form, it will be a good source of hard data with which to smite the dishonest rascals in power.

The book is available from BitebackAmazon,Waterstones, and all good booksellers and the blog, of course, is here.

Samizdata quote of the day

Samizdata quote of the day |

I am honoured by words of mine having been chosen as a Samizdata "quote of the day". Samizdata bills itself as
A blog for people with a critically rational individualist perspective. We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... let's see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.
Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]
If you don't have it in your RSS feeds, I strongly commend it to you.

Hysteria. His or ours?

How do we escape the hysteria that threatens to erode public debate? | Peter Beaumont | Comment is free | The Observer.

The linked article by Peter Beaumont cheered me up immensely. If the control-freaks of the left-wing press, so intent on setting every possible parameter of public debate, fear that;

The blogosphere, increasingly fuelled by toxic language, is hindering honest engagement rather than encouraging it

then we political bloggers are doing well. To quote (as I have not done in such style since my misguided Communist youth) from Chairman Mao:

It is good if we are attacked by the enemy, since it proves that we have drawn a clear dividing line between the enemy and ourselves. It is still better if the enemy attacks us wildly and paints us as utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that we have not only drawn a clear dividing line between the enemy and ourselves but have achieved spectacular successes in our work.

The truth is that the elite Beaumont calls "opinion formers" feel threatened by electronic democracy. They had long ago managed to infiltrate and subvert the old media to present a consistent statist view that has been acquiesced to, but never truly accepted, by what Mao would have called "the masses" and I just think of as "us." We express this division of reality by the term "politically correct". If it wasn't different from that which is merely "correct", there would be no need for the qualifying adjective.

Beaumont considers any view that is not politically-correct as "hysterical", but I think the only hysteria here is his. True democrats seek to serve the people, not mould them. They certainly don't despise them, fear them and regard their use of language as "toxic". I only wish I could be as optimistic as he is pessimistic that his game is up.

"Opinion formers" everywhere are seeking to manage the internet. Communist China employs legions of trolls to contradict every anti-government view expressed online in an advanced form of electronic agitprop. The corrupt elites of the world will fight to keep their thieving hands on the levers of power. They will seek every possible way to hinder the resistance of those they regard as their lawful prey.

Not nachos, nachas.

Apropos of nothing else, but in sheer parental exuberance, I wish to announce that Miss Paine the Younger took a first in her Politics & History degree from LSE. Given her upbringing in post-communist Eastern Europe, it's somehow right that her favourite subject of study is the Cold War. For myself I am delighted that awful era has just become something for historians (not her of course) to get wrong.

The degree ceremony is on Thursday and we will have in mind amid the celebrations the sad fact that the late Mrs Paine's last ambition was to live to see it. She had even, as Miss P reminded me this week, bought a dress in preparation. If her own religious faith was right, she will be there. As to that, atheist that I am, I have never wished more strongly to be wrong.

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.

My favourite post of 2010

Most of my British readers do not share my views on guns, so my favourite post of the year here at The Last Ditch will not have appealed to them as to its substance. At least I hope most would agree with my proposed amendment to the British Constitution however, which read as follows;

It is beyond the power of the members of the Legislature and the Executive to create laws, impose policies or issue instructions to state agencies that give them any greater power, privilege, immunity from prosecution or other protection than any other citizen.

I find it amazing that a political class (and the LibDems and Tories are no different from Labour in this respect) obsessed with "equality" has no problem with its own, unearned, privileges. But then, despite what the French may say, the true vice anglais has always been hypocrisy.

What were your favourite posts (or Tweets) of the year from Britain's political blogs? Please free to link to them in the comments. If you want to see my own choices, they are here (all the posts I shared this year in Google Reader).

Old news about the Devil

The Devil's Knife: Sound The Last Post...?.

Chris-mounseyYou will already know that former chairman of the UK's Libertarian Party, Chris Mounsey has announced an end to his blog, The Devil's Knife (formerly known as The Devil's Kitchen). Regular readers may wonder why I didn't immediately join the chorus of pleas for him to reconsider.

I owe many of my readers here to links from the Kitchen. In the middle days of The Last Ditch, Chris was generous in his support of a far less entertaining blog than his own. Through our blogging connection, I had the pleasure both of meeting Chris socially and working with him professionally. He is an intelligent, articulate and politically passionate young man. I admire his virtues and have great hopes for his future. I think he has more to offer than he knows himself. I also think someone should note, given his devilish persona and taste for shock comedy, that his concern for the common weal gives the lie to leftist slurs about heartless libertarians.

In truth, I wanted to be sure it wasn't a false alarm. The boy has form in this respect and we may still hope that his righteous anger will haul him back, fulminating, to the keyboard.

Chris, aka DK, aka The Devil, was - on form - one of the most entertaining bloggers around. He has rarely been on form since his mauling at the hands of Andrew Neil, but Mrs Paine and I (Mrs Paine is a big fan of his sense of humour) had hoped he would get over it. Embarrassment and reticence little became a man who adopted "The Devil" as his blogging persona.

The fates sent us DK as the very necessary antidote to the most dangerous woman in Britain. He was not so much the Devil as the Anti-Toynbee. His attacks on her were his nadir in terms of taste and his zenith in terms of wit. He will not be able to watch her promote her destructive political agenda while knowing that she knows she saw him off.

So, at least, we must hope.

Another one bites the dust

Mr Eugenides: The last post.
Eugenides demon eyes
I was in a good mood this morning. The sun is shining, there's a day of rest ahead, and Mrs P. (who was very ill this week) is chirpy again. Mr Eugenides has spoiled it. The Devil (who has the pleasure to know him personally) gives him his due here. For my part, let me just add that Mr Eugenides was one of the wittiest inhabitants of the British political blogosphere. He was as funny as he was spot on. It would be churlish to let the moment pass without thanking him for his entertaining efforts over the last five years. Thank you, sir and good luck. You will be missed.