Thursday, February 22, 2007 


The veteran left-winger Michael Meacher has today thrown his hat into the ring with a direct challenge to lead the Labour party while calling for Trident nuclear weapons to be scrapped, huge investment in renewable energy, curbs on City bonuses and nationalisation of the railways.

For Gordon Brown at least, this can only be good news. Michael Meacher has stepped up to the podium as yet another willing sacrificial lamb for the slaughter – just another no-hope candidate for Gordon to beat. However, as one Labour MP commented last year, "We don’t do coronations." The Labour party therefore need to put on the appearance of a democratically contested selection, but I think there is little doubt in the ultimate outcome.

Despite Tony Blair being, in my opinion, the main reason for Labour’s previous three electoral victories, it now seems to have become common practice for leadership and deputy leadership candidates to openly attack the Prime Minister, his record in office and his polices – each doing their level best to undermine Blair in the waning days of his leadership and gain favourability with the Unions and grassroots party membership whom will ultimately decide their fate.

Peter Hain only the other day made the ridiculous suggestion that city high earners should make a compulsory payment equal to two-thirds of their bonus to charity, and Meacher with the contestants for the Labour deputy leadership have proven in the last few weeks that the old left is still very much alive within the party. Of course, in reality the old left; in favour as they still are of nationalisation, even higher governmental spending than Gordon Brown, and the massive extension of the welfare system and state dependency, never disappeared – they were merely fronted by Tony Blair masquerading as someone 'moderate.'

The BBC in their profiling of Mr Meacher today made what I think was an extremely revealing comment, "But he has rediscovered his left-wing fervour since his return to the backbenches, attacking the government's record on the environment, foreign affairs and Trident."

When in Government – at the heart of power and influence, these Labour ministers are quite willing to say and do anything to maintain their position (much like the Lib Dems really, though actually, possibly not quite that bad.) They will put aside any convictions and opinions (Lib Dems don’t have any of those which is why they’re worse) in the pursuit of governmental position and authority – but when that power is brutally ripped from their hands (because none of them tend to give it up willingly,) they return to their old socialist ways.

Michael Meacher, like many of his Labour colleagues has had several brushes with the press, notably being accused of hypocrisy in 1999 for suggesting a ban on owning a second home, at a time when he owned three properties. One rule for us, one rule for themselves as usual.

What is also quite interesting to note is the way in which John McDonnell and Michael Meacher have been described by the media at large (especially the BBC) as "left wingers." I myself used the same analogy – because it is true. However, this does tend to give the impression that Gordon Brown is moderate; which of course is untrue.

On the one hand, to think that Gordon Brown will be any different to Tony Blair would be fool-hardy. He willingly voted for everything which Blair proposed during his ten years in office. However, Brown will do his utmost to appear as if he’s made a clean break from Blairism – though, as his party descends into anarchic infighting, will he truly inherit a party worth leading?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 


News reaches us that Tony Blair's top Downing Street aide, Ruth Turner, has been arrested yet again in the police investigation over the alleged sale of Peerages for Loans. She is currently under the suspicion of perverting the course of justice and colluding to sell House of Lords peerages to Labour party donors.

Miss Turner, Labour's chief fund-raiser Lord Levy and Tony Blair must be becoming quite familiar with their local constabulary. These three core suspects are however not the only people that should be having sleepless nights. The ongoing investigation will undoubtedly have implications for Gordon Brown as Primeministerial heir apparent. Had there been any misdoings, it is highly unlikely that Chancellor would have been out of the frame and completely uninformed – he has extended his tentacles and all-seeing-eye into most other operations, so why not the illegal sale of peerages?

Sunday, February 18, 2007 


It has been reported in today’s Telegraph on Sunday that should the Conservative party led by David Cameron win the next general election, the Hunting Act 2004 will be placed as a top priority for being repealed. The newspaper reports:

"The letter, from David MacLean, the former Tory chief whip, who says he is writing on behalf of Mr Cameron, says: 'Over the last few months colleagues have been speculating on the different ways we could honour our commitment… There is a danger that our straightforward commitment to bring a Bill before Parliament to repeal the Act… could get confused. All colleagues are therefore urged to simply repeat our commitment to repeal the Act. This would be, of course, on a free vote.'"

Today, traditional hunts across the country have marked the second anniversary of the Hunting Act 2004 by riding out in much the same fashion as they did before the law was enacted. On the traditional Boxing Day meets this year (well, technically last year,) hunts produced record attendance figures as around 300,000 people braved the cold weather to turn out and show their support.

The Hunting Act itself has been a spectacular failure. Despite wasting hundreds of Parliamentary hours (which could have been spent on much needier issues,) the class-obsessed Labour party claim that the act has achieved their aims. However, hunts are killing just as many foxes now as previously and I would hardly imagine that the increased support registered by hunts was what the Labour party had either envisaged or desired.

The law was badly written and is often completely unworkable – a particularly favourite example of mine being the loophole allowing a full pack of hounds to flush out a fox so that a waiting bird of prey may kill it. Of course, forty or so hunts upon learning of this loophole immediately purchased falcons and happily went about their business "within the law" as before – much to the great annoyance of the League Against Cruel Sports who have only managed to produce one minor (and currently disputed) prosecution under the act.

What's more, thousands of foxes die on Britain’s roads each year and yet the supposed animal welfare groups are not pursuing a ban on cars for example (completely untenable in reality,) or it would seem, speaking much about this particular issue at all. However, this is to be expected. As with many of these small issue and pressure groups, they have been infiltrated by those with a different agenda to the original founders – in this case those who hate what they perceive to be an upper-class sport and will do anything to spoil the enjoyment of those who chose to pursue it. A quick read of the self-proclaimed hunt saboteurs (or 'sabs' for short) websites would suggest that the motive behind their disruption of hunts has little to do with animal welfare and much more to do with class-hatred.

Yet, it would now seem that the tide of public support is fully turning in the hunt's favour. Interestingly the National Trust last year voted by a sizeable majority that hunts be invited back onto their land to ensure that injured deer were dealt with humanely, and Kate Hoey, Labour MP and Chairman of the Countryside Alliance has said that, "a different government, whether Labour or Tory, will inevitably have to repeal it."

It can now only be a matter of time before this useless, badly written and illiberal law is ripped from the statue books.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007 


Only yesterday I posted about David Cameron and supposed media revelations that he had smoked cannabis while at Eton and Oxford University. Today Mr Cameron is reported in the Daily Mail as having commented that, under his leadership, the Conservative party would take a different approach to drugs.

He also took the opportunity to give a strong warning to young people about the dangers of drug abuse saying, "I would advise strongly against it. It's against the law, it's wrong. I have seen what's happened to contemporaries and constituents who have gone badly off the rails with drugs."

It is certainly a pleasant (but welcome) surprise that David Cameron has chosen to make such a statement, although I would say that the simple reclassification of drugs which he advocates cannot be the only solution to Britain’s drugs problem. Still, better than nothing though.

Monday, February 12, 2007 


It emerged in the Daily Mail just two days ago that David Cameron probably took cannabis when he was at Eton, and during his Oxford University days. Mr Cameron has still refused to directly comment on whether or not he took cannabis, though he has pointed out that he regrets some of what he did when he was younger but hopes that politicians do deserve a private past.

So, does it matter whether David Cameron took drugs at university or school? The Conservative party and commentators from across the political spectrum would have you believe that it does not matter what a man did when he was a school, but what he says and does now. In that they may be right. However, although Mr Cameron has already stated on his webcameron website that he is not in favour of legalisation, I think that he should use this opportunity to powerfully argue against the use of drugs such as cannabis and heroin that continue to completely destroy the lives of many. Whether or not he will however, is completely another thing.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 


With a maximum of three years left before the next general election, it is perhaps too early to be predicting the outcome. However, based on current polling and a bit of guess work, ConservativeHome and 18 Doughty Street have come up with a short mock election broadcast.

The two parties of the left; the Lib Dems and Labour have always colluded and will always collude. Opinion polls might show that the Liberal Democrats currently have support ranging from 16% to 22% nationally. However, the party itself is only relevant in a number of key areas such as Scotland, Cornwall and the South West. I suspect that there are a number of Conservative MPs, especially in the South West, that are probably more than a little bit worried about their seats, knowing full well that even a small squeeze by the Lib Dems on the Labour vote could displace them.

At the last election in one constituency, the local Labour candidate heavily colluded with the Lib Dems and actively went around telling his own supporters to vote Lib Dem to keep the Tories out. This particular Labour candidate also happens to be the highest paid Chairman of Scrutiny on the local council, being paid twice as much as the next Chairman of Scrutiny in the country – all with the very gracious help of the Lib Dems. At the election, the then Conservative held seat turned Lib Dem. The Conservative MP increased his vote by just over two thousand, yet still lost as the Labour vote dropped by a thousand, the Green party candidate stepped down at the last minute (how mysterious) and the Lib Dem vote rose three thousand to just win. If this happened all over the country in Conservative/Lib Dem marginals – it could easily spell disaster.

While the Conservative party will undoubtedly do better than previously at the next election (whenever that may be,) it is unlikely in the current political climate that they will achieve an outright majority of MPs. Therefore, the prospect of a Lib-Con pact is a particularly grim one. I’m sure that many Lib Dems MPs will be falling over each other for a chance to hold governmental office, as would many Conservative MPs after so long out of power. However, I say let the opportunistic Lib Dems govern with Gordon Brown and his lot, and let them go down with the sinking Labour ship.

Monday, February 05, 2007 


I was watching an old version of Our Europe on 18 Doughty Street today presented by the Young Briton Foundation’s Shane Greer with Doughty Street regular Michael Ehoize-Ediae, Natasha Harrison and Elisabeth Davies on the panel.

The discussion centred on immigration – not for or against as the general consensus was for, but the differing degrees and levels of which immigrates should pass into Britain. Michael Ehoize-Ediae gave a fair account of himself and his case for controlled levels of immigration. I like Michael and he often speaks well but I think a better argument and line he could have taken would have been to talk about the cultural and ethnic tension that large scale immigration causes rather than try and argue on purely economic issues against the rabid economists.

Immigration is not purely an economic issue; it is also a social issue. This cannot be ignored. We had the lovely Elisabeth Davies from the Adam Smith Institute arguing for even greater levels of uncontrolled and unrestricted migration, which from a liberal economist’s perspective would be of exponentional benefit to the consumer. While I see the argument that higher levels of immigration create new jobs in the economy which spurs on economic growth – blahdy blah, blah etc: I also see that uncontrolled immigration causes huge social problems – which this Labour Government’s tenure in office has more than proved.

Multiculturalism and widespread immigration causes tensions where cultures of vastly different values attempt to coexist (or not as the case may be.) Cultural tensions which in certain areas are more widespread than others can cause violence, crime and segregation – none of which is beneficial to society at all. What’s more, cultural tension does not only occur between the indigenous population and immigrants, but between differing groups of immigrants. For example Muslims and Hindus who have clashed in inner-city areas over their respective faiths. There is also the fact that not all cultures are equal. Whereas your skin colour is an accident of birth, culture is based on opinions and beliefs. These are open to ridicule and therefore no two beliefs can be equal. Again for example, most people I am sure would regard the old Indonesian and South American traditions of cannibalism as unequal to the modern western democratic belief that such practices are vile and inhuman. I believe that in many cases, the cost to society of immigration at uncontrollable levels is greater from the net benefit in terms of jobs created and economic growth.

Shane Greer as the presenter attempted to propose labelling this as "a kind of institutional racism or xenophobia" (institutional seems to have become the latest media buzzword at the moment) – which of course it is not. It is merely an acceptance of the fact that the highest levels of immigration Britain has ever seen can cause huge social problems that the supposedly liberal economic benefits will not negate, and can in fact aggravate.

With regard to Elisabeth’s point on infrastructure, the problem with the National Health Service today is that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown decided to throw billions of pounds in its vague direction without first reforming the system which would be spending this money. Effectively on the one hand the system could not cope, and on the other hand the financial management by government was appalling. For example, the Gloucester Health Authority in 1997 covered the whole area. However, when Blair came to power, he devolved the authority into four separate Health Unitary Trusts. This was of course incredibly bureaucratic, expensive, and at the end of the day just didn’t work. Labour have now amalgamated the four trusts back into one Gloucester Health Authority – back to where we were in 1997 with millions wasted in the meanwhile.

There is of course also the fact that Blair and Brown cared little about the actual outcome of their spending and more about the immediate impact it would have in terms of votes and favourable media publicity. However, that aside, while mass immigration was not the cause of all the NHS’s problems, it is certainly an aggravating factor.

We now see in this country increasing levels of NHS Tourism, where those of foreign nationality come to Britain with the purpose of gaining access to specialist and expensive treatments. For that in itself you cannot blame these people. However, when there are people already in Britain that cannot get treatment because medicine apparently "costs too much," or "the resources are unavailable," then why are we admitting even more people and straining the Health Service’s already over-stretched resources? The, "ah yes but those new migrants will create new jobs etc" argument fails I’m afraid. As Michael Ehoize-Ediae rightly pointed out, the number of health workers is increasing by less than is required.

Personally I also think Elisabeth Davies was incredibly naïve in saying that, "I think what we’ll find, in a couple of years; everyone will forget these issues ever existed. They’ll forget the headlines in the papers and they’ll realise that it’s been a good thing. They’ll just be used to having people willing to do a better price on a job or what not. It’s just not going to be an issue." I am sure she is a smart girl; being a final year student of law from Sydney in Australia, and I recently read an insightful piece on Free Market policy vs. the Wristband by her the other day. However, despite what she might currently think, people in many circumstances do not forget all that quickly, especially if the problems which I pointed out previously continue to escalate – which they will.

The discussion, though themed by immigration moves onto the welfare system. The panellists agree that something must be done with the currently failing system, but beyond simplifying it they do not expand much. I think we need to do more than merely simplify the benefits system, which only doing so wouldn’t solve all its problems. Currently the system rewards laziness, fecklessness and irresponsibility. While we must ensure that nobody slips through the cracks, the welfare system in this country needs to be a safety net – not something that people can permanently live off to a higher degree than if they were working. As the great Winston Churchill once said, "A limit beneath which no man may fall; no limit to which a man might rise." This should provide an incentive for more people to go out and work rather than sit at home and comfortably claim on the dole.

Later in the programme the panel discussed a German proposed EU-wide ban on Holocaust denial. They all agreed that the idea was preposterous; pointing out that such a ban would not achieve anything other than to drive voters into the hands of neo-nazi or far right parties, as has already been seen in many parts of Europe. Further, to my mind, what exactly constitutes as Holocaust denial? What, under an EU-wide ban would be classed as denying the Jewish holocaust? Denying every single detail, and there are still a few unproven facts – or just certain aspects of the holocaust? Either way, it sounds rather dangerous to me. David Irving (whose name escapes Shane in the programme) originally denied the holocaust outright, but just before his arrest, trial and imprisonment in Austria changed his story to saying he didn’t think that Hitler knew the full plans set out in the Final Solution. Under the EU ban, would Irving have been committing a crime under the later, since this is historically disputed fact? This law I feel would be an unneeded attack on free speech in Europe and this country - but then the EU Parliament who would have to vote in and implement such a law is hardly a great bastion of democracy and free speech itself. As I’ve said time and again, the sooner we leave the European Union, the better – then we as a nation can make such decisions ourselves.

Overall this particular edition of Open Europe was very good. I think that perhaps Shane Greer as presenter spent perhaps too much time talking. However, he was generally insightful and did well at keeping the panellists on topic.

While I did not agree with absolutely every comment Elisabeth Davies made, I would go along with her overall tone. She is a classical economic liberal, and I think not scared of speaking up for her beliefs. I expect the Adam Smith Institute realise that they are very lucky to have her as their research assistant.

Michael Ehoize-Ediae was once again sound in practically everything he said. His last but one speech in particular, regarding the hypocrisy of a European Union dictating freedoms to foreign nations while restricting them in its own dominion, was excellent.

Natasha Harrison, founder of the UK Law community did extremely well I think on her first Doughty Street appearance. It’s not easy sitting there having people talking at you quickly with little time to collect your thoughts, with the studio lights glaring down on you and knowing that everything you say is being recorded and going out live. Her online Law community project set for launch later in the year is a really worthwhile venture and I wish her the best of luck in its organising and launch. I am sure it will be very successful indeed.