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Archive for the ‘democracy’ Category

Ashton in ’82: 3rd agent from the left

The Times revelation today that Baroness Ashton, newly crowned Labourist foreign affairs boss of the EU, had Soviet links should come as no surprise to anyone. After all, half the current Labour party, including and especially a whole host of older government ministers, were (are?) communists. Add to that the fact that the continental left – including the far left – dominate the EU’s bureaucratic machinery and its increasingly powerful political arm and you have a picture of a centralist takeover reminiscent of the thankfully defunct Soviet empire.

The fact that this sounds so bizarre to reasonable people is precisely what is allowing them (“them” being European socialists) to get away with building the new socialist empire on the sly. No wonder they don’t want democracy coming anywhere near their grand federalist project. It’s not just that the majority of the half billion people currently being railroaded into an undemocratic superstate would have rightly rejected Lisbon had they been given the choice, but that socialists are not interested in democracy in the first place. That is to say they are, at least, not interested in the brand of democracy you or I are used to, namely, pluralist liberal democracy and parliamentary sovereignty. They prefer the Soviet-style, trade union brand with delegates armed with the “bloc vote” of members. What is, after all, “supranational democracy” and “qualified majority voting” other than a rehashed form of block voting on an international scale? Of course this system was preferred by the left because it has all the added advantages of not only always securing the outcomes that are politically desirable, at least to the federalist movement, but of ignoring any dissenting voices. And all the time they are able to argue, as our politicians constantly do, that since our politicians have been democratically elected and they choose their members for the European Council and the European Commission, and now European “ministries” too, then all is well – we are democratically represented. Allied to this is the European Parliament, where directly elected MEPs thrash out day to day lawmaking, fiercely defending their nation’s interests.

This is, of course, all garbage. In reality, all we have is delegates, hand-picked by domestic – and now often foreign – politicians who technically do not have the national constitutional and/or sovereign right to do so, who wield the power they have been given, (not with which they have been entrusted), in whatever way they see fit, basically unanswerable and unlimited. In reality, also, the European Parliament has no teeth (who would want it to anyway? I for one prefer Westminster to Strasbourg – but I digress), its members talk and talk and claim generous expenses but they don’t make law, they can’t hold the EU executive branches to account and they certainly won’t (with notable exceptions) “fiercly [defend] their nation’s interests,” cohabiting, as they do, in transnational political – yeah, you guessed it – blocks. In fact, it’s very hard to tell what they do do. In short, they accomplish nothing and amount to little more than a sop or nod to pluralist (genuine) democracy.

The real power is and always will be with the variously appointed EU commissioners, councellors, judges and now “ministers”. The Lisbon Treaty, far from closing this democratic gap, has simply served further to widen it, which was, after all, its real purpose. The appointment of the risible Baroness Ashton, complete with “alleged” Soviet links through the CND and communist past, merely serves perfectly to illustrate the point. In fact, given how unknown and useless she and the newly installed “President” are, it appears that the commissioners are unwilling to give up the power in any event. Stitch-ups within stitch-ups, then, in what amounts to a wholly unedifying affair – and dangerous times for the continent of Europe.

Baroness Ashton of Upholland’s past came back to haunt her yesterday when the European Union’s new foreign affairs chief was forced to deny taking funds from the Soviet Union during her days as treasurer for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

Lady Ashton, a surprise choice for her post, was challenged to deny that she had contact with Russian sources while she was in charge of its accounts at the height of the Cold War.

The Times has learnt that concerns about her CND involvement are felt across countries from the former Iron Curtain now in the EU and that MEPs plan to question her about it when she appears before them for the hearing to confirm her in her post.

Nigel Farage, the UK Independence Party leader, raised the matter on the floor of the European Parliament yesterday, earning himself a reprimand for referring to Lady Ashton and Herman Van Rompuy, the new European President, as pygmies

Mr Farage added: “She was treasurer during a period when CND took very large donations and refused to reveal the sources. Will Baroness Ashton deny that while she was treasurer she took funds from organisations opposed to Western-style democracy? Are we really happy that somebody who will be in charge of our overseas security policy was an activist in an outfit like CND? I do not think she is a fit and proper person to do this job.”

Lady Ashton was not present but her spokesman said: “This was more than 25 years ago. She left the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in 1983 and has had no involvement in the organisation since then. During her time in the CND she never visited the Soviet Union, had no contact with the Soviet Union and has never accepted any money from Soviet sources. The first time she visited Russia was as EU Trade Commissioner.”

All the candidates for the next European Commission must undergo formal hearings at the European Parliament and the European People’s Party, the main centre-right group, has pledged to reject any who have promoted communism in the past. Lady Ashton has denied being a member of the Communist Party.

She is due to have an informal meeting with the MEPs’ Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday and a formal hearing in January, although she starts her new job on Tuesday.

Krisjanis Karins, a centre-right Latvian MEP, said: “Some information has been published that she was involved in this Marxist movement. If this is the case it is disturbing. We are especially concerned how the High Representative for Foreign Affairs will conduct discussions with our eastern neighbour.”

Hynek Fajnon, an MEP for the Czech centre-right ODS party, told the newspaper DNES: “There is no doubt that the Kremlin supported CND activities. If Mrs Ashton as treasurer had played any role in that, it would be a great scandal.”

CND rejected the claims, predictably, and are now seeking legal advice about whether they should take action against Farage and his fellow Kipperist Eurotroughers. I’d would love that, especially the part where Ashton is called as a witness:

(Best Alec Guinness voice) Barrister: “Did you handle any money from the Soviet Union sent to help fund the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and other, shall we say, ‘dodgy’ organisations?”

Ashton (clearly flustered): “I had no links with Moscow Central in 1982 and I know of no one named ‘Karla.'”

Oops.

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Superb, important post from Sharpe’s Opinion which spells out some reasons why it is vital that Labour are defeated at the next election. It’s not an advert for the Tories and rightly so. That would diminish the force of its argument.

WTF.

DISCLAIMER: I don’t swear. I don’t rant. That’s my thing. Other bloggers, they rant. I don’t. I don’t write as an outlet for my rage, I just do it because I enjoy it. I keep my cool and try to write calm and collected opinion pieces. So the title of this post, and the rant which follows, I hope shows just how furious I am right now.

Deep in the ancient annals of political blogging history – last May, I think it was – I wrote a post about the BNP which started with what I thought was quite a funny joke:

I know they’re racists. I know they’re fascists and totalitarians. I know they’re liars and frauds. I know they’re criminals. Enough about New Labour, though, I’d like to know what exactly is so scary about the BNP?

I was, of course, lightly mocking the growing number of superficial similarities between Labour policies and BNP ones. “British Jobs For British Workers” being a classic example – a BNP slogan which Gordon Brown took as his own. The Labour Party and the BNP share ideas on a fair range of areas, in fact, particularly their generally redistributive economic stance. It’s oft-noted by better political commenters than I that the BNP tend to do well in strongly Labour areas.

It used to be something we all poked fun at, and pointed out to Labour supporters to get them all irritated. Gradually, though, the joke started to wear thin. Now it’s past its breaking point.

The thing is, what was ‘British Jobs For British Workers’ has now degenerated into the Dickensian idea, also a BNP policy, of sending teenage mothers to ‘poorhouses‘. And to add mocking insult to grievous bodily harm, this bright spark idea is going to be compulsory, according to Ed Balls, not optional as Brown and his media lobby would have us believe.

Seriously. Putting teenage mothers into care for re-education. Is that what we’ve come to? Is that the Britain we live in?

No, it turns out, it’s worse than that. That was yesterday’s news and, whilst anger me it did I have relaxed about it a little bit now1.

Because today we learn (and can we please get this to a wider audience) that somebody in New Labour’s government thinks they can determine somebody’s nationality using their DNA. That out there somewhere there are people with Kenyan DNA and Somali DNA.

Seriously.

I mean, can we take a moment to step back and discuss this a bit further, because I really hate false accusations of racism. It drives me round the bend when people use the word ‘racism’ as an argument ender, or worse as a straw man. That no politician can talk about immigration or multiculturalism without being bombarded with accusations of trying ‘to keep the darkies out’. I don’t care whether you agree with them or not – let them make their argument and challenge it on its own merits, not using some racism straw man. I can’t tell you how much it irritates me.

But this is something different. Because hidden behind the ‘DNA tests for asylum seekers’ story is somebody with a deep-seated misunderstanding of the concept of nationality, and of genetics, and of race. This is somebody who believes that a persons ‘Kenyanness’ is measurable, quantifiable, testable, based on their DNA. Does this same person believe that you can measure ‘Britishness’ by genetics? That there exists some model British DNA, distinct from the DNA of the French, or of the Pakistanis or the Irish or the Germans?

That, in essence, we are all different species to each other, and can be distinguished as such.

I’ve been racking my brains, but I can’t think of any other way to interpret this, or any other logical conclusion to the line of thinking which attempts to separate peoples’ nationalities based on their DNA. Either this is the way they think, and they are indescribably racist, or it isn’t and… Well, what? What else could it possibly be? Presumably, this isn’t a single person making this policy, either, but a committee. Presumably there is an entire working group at the UK Border Agency devoted to solving this ‘Kenyan problem’ and who probably don’t even realise that their natural impulses are walking them straight into Godwin’s nightmare.

And where’s the defence? Where’s the person willing to put forward the Labour Party’s side of this? These measures were announced near enough in silence. It’s almost like the Home Office are embarrassed about this, which I’d believe if I thought they were capable of feeling such human emotions as embarrassment. The only reaction I’ve seen from anyone so far is the one which adorns the top of this post – three simple letters that say all that’s needed.

The dying days of this Labour government are galling enough for those of us who see socialism as an inherently bad thing, who disagree that putting people in boxes will help them understand each other, who don’t think that state intervention in markets makes markets work more effectively, and who don’t think fairness means what Gordon Brown thinks it means. If it’s bad enough for us, how bad must it be for those disillusioned folk who voted for Tony Blair in 2005 and got this?

How bad must it be for those people who had faith in the Labour Party to help the needy and cure the sick. How bad must it be for the honest people who voted for Labour because they thought the Tories were the ‘nasty’ ones? How sick would it make you feel to know that you supported a moderate, centrist Government who promised you front line services, and you ended up with this.

This is a democracy, and we have a choice. Consider it your civic duty to remove your Labour MP from office. From this day forward I advocate voting for anyone who stands a chance of ensuring Labour cannot win another term.

Please. Please God.

Anyone. But. Labour.

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This is what I call top-class political journalism. Clear, cogent, cohesive and devastating. Another journalist seems to have finally understood the true scale of the damage set to be inflicted upon Brown and Labour by a country that has, quite simply, had a bellyful of them. It’s worth the read…

They have no idea what is in store for them. Not really. When Labour convenes in Manchester for its annual gathering next September, its members will look back on this week’s conference in Brighton as another era, another country, another world. Gordon Brown will be gone, David Cameron will be in No 10, and a new Opposition leader will be telling his or her flock not to despair – or, more accurately, to stop despairing. Factionalism, introspection, recrimination: these will be the hallmarks of the wrecked movement that once carried all before it as New Labour.

But that moment lies ahead. For now, the governing party is too busy ensuring that it will lose the general election to think of what life will actually be like once defeat is in the bag. Charles Clarke pops up to perform his constitutional role as the man who urges Gordon to go, for health reasons or something similar. Baroness Scotland, the Attorney General, is fined £5,000 for employing a Tongan housekeeper illegally – with the magnificent twist that she is in breach of a law she herself steered through Parliament. Baroness Vadera, one of Gordon’s closest advisers, quits as a minister. Gordon himself, apparently shunned repeatedly by the President, is initially reduced to meeting Barack Obama in a New York kitchen, thus bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “kitchen cabinet”. The polls strike hammer blow after hammer blow to Labour’s morale. David Cameron may not have “sealed the deal” with the public, but Gordon Brown most certainly has.

The entirely predictable corollary of these pre-conference fiascos is epically unsubtle positioning by the principal leadership contenders. Alan Johnson, whose false modesty is now starting to grate, admits that he’s “not willing to rule myself out for all eventualities in the future”. I’ll bet he isn’t. In a Guardian profile yesterday, Ed Balls was reported to have mumbled to a seven-year-old who asked “if he wants to be prime minister… that he would, if asked, adding that someone has to do the job”. Again: you don’t say, Ed.

Meanwhile, in New York, the other Ed (Miliband) told Mary Riddell in The Daily Telegraph yesterday that “I just think for me to start speculating about [the leadership] is a distraction and a bit presumptuous.” Another big fat “yes”! Pressed on rumours that the PM might stand down before the election, the best Miliband could muster was: “I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think it would be right. Honestly.” Not exactly a passionate oath of loyalty, is it? If I were Gordon reading that, I would mutter “Et tu, Ed?” into my porridge. Or perhaps just hurl the porridge against the wall, as seems to be the Prime Minister’s preferred method of expressing mild irritation these days.

Mr Miliband’s pre-conference mantra is that “there’s no future for Labour in not being a party of the middle classes”. This is true – indeed, it is obvious to the point of banality – but it is odd to hear Mr Miliband of all people say it, given that, for the past decade, he has been one of the most outspoken advocates of what he calls “fair taxes”. And what Mr Miliband calls “fair taxes” is what the rest of us call “being fleeced” and “having less of our income left to us by the rapacious state to spend on our families”. In his interview with The Sunday Telegraph today, Mr Brown claims that Middle Britain is top of his list: “These are the people who I identify with.” Again, could have fooled us, Gordon. If the Brownites think that they will win over the electorate by reinventing the Blairite wheel at this late stage, they are in for a shock.

As, indeed, is the whole Labour movement. The shock of defeat lies not only in the loss of power, terrible as that undoubtedly is. A party driven from office must expect a whole array of traumas, great and small. For a start, the political landscape on the morning after the election is utterly transformed, and makes all pre-electoral prophecies instantly redundant.

The sheer scale of Labour’s victory in 1997, the consequent tininess of the Conservative parliamentary party, and the absence of Michael Portillo from the Tory leadership race: none of this could have been foreseen at John Major’s final conference as leader in Bournemouth in 1996. Most Conservatives knew they were heading for defeat. But it was 22 years since the Tory party had lost an election. It had forgotten the rank smell of failure, the ashen taste in the mouth, the sudden experience of irrelevance.

Irrelevance is at the heart of it all, and it is this that should most frighten Labour as it gathers by the sea. A party in power, no matter how divided, no matter how exhausted, no matter how useless, is still interesting: its exhaustion, its infirmity, its lack of trajectory are important because they affect all of us as citizens. If John Prescott is rude about Harriet Harman, it is a story. If Tony Blair is reported by Adam Boulton to think that Gordon Brown is a “quitter”, that’s a story, too.

Labour has grown used to the limelight, and has forgotten that nobody has a right to the public’s attention. It is a paradox that the longer a Government lasts, even as it suffers cellular damage and approaches invalidity, the more convinced it becomes that its beliefs are obvious, that its arguments are plain common sense, that it does not have to win the battle daily. Philip Gould, Blair’s chief pollster, used to quote approvingly the belief of the US strategist Dick Morris that, in modern politics, a government needs a “daily mandate”. Plainly, Mr Brown believes no such thing. He exudes only contempt for his opponents and their policies, even though the polls suggest that Mr Cameron’s personality and proposals have achieved considerable traction with the public.

The election of a Government does not represent a collective swoon before an ideological blueprint, but something much messier and more numinous: boredom with or suspicion of the other lot, intuitive enthusiasm for what the victorious party represents. That enthusiasm is provisional, probationary, and must be renewed constantly. Labour has completely forgotten this. It believes that Britain is a Labour country suffering a temporary bout of false consciousness. In fact, the opposite is true: after three general election victories, the scales have fallen from the public’s eyes.

It will all look so different in Manchester a year hence. But let me predict this much about the week ahead at Brighton: Brown will give a decent speech, better than expected, which will include at least one killer punch (remember “no time for a novice” last year?). He will face down his internal assassins once more. The Labour Party will feel a little buoyed by its leader’s determination. Then, it will disperse, go back to its constituencies – and prepare for Opposition.

All I would add is that contained within this piece is an implicit and powerful warning – for Cameron in particular and the Conservative party at large. If you unpack that warning, it might go something like this:
1. Do not take the power you will be lent for granted (again).
2. Do not lie to the people who gave you the job. Respect them by being straight with them.
3. Treat the offices of state which you will once more occupy – and the mother of parliaments – with respectful humility.
4. Seek that “daily mandate” and put it at the centre of your political philosophy.

Democracy is a continuum. Elections are merely the legal and essential expression of the need for a healthy democracy to change direction from time to time. The coming General Election, and the democratic change of direction we all so desperately crave that it will bring, is long overdue.

If Cameron follows these principles honestly and not as some sort of publicity gimmick or disingenuous ‘triangulation’ (stifling a debate by lying about your intentions, thus elbowing out any genuine antithesis), then there might be room for a glimmer of hope to emerge that British parliamentary democracy can become healthy once more, after the severe damage that has been done to it by years and years of Labour misgovernance and dishonesty and the daily abuses by MPs of every stripe of a system of remuneration that relied on their personal integrity to function.

If Cameron does this, he will have my vote until the day one of us dies. If he doesn’t, he’ll have one term and then, well, we’ll need another “change of direction”. We’ll kick him out and continue our long, long search for a decent prime minister. (We might even give Boris a try!)

That’s the challenge for Cameron. I think he’s up to it. I hope I’m right.

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Aside from being utterly horrifying – just how much damage has Labour done to democracy in Britain! – this story in The Times is timed to perfection (Brown’s about to grunt through his much-leaked, pathetic TUC speech) and potentially is political dynamite. It will generate a great deal of indignation, not to say indigestion, in people nationwide who read it over their Monday-morning Cornflakes.

Don’t take my word for it, though. Read on and make up your own mind about whether you think the people who represent us in Parliament, however useless they might be, should at the very least be elected by us to that position, or professional civil servants with no public political affiliation. Labour has utterly corrupted that, just like they have corrupted everything else in Britain during their cataclysimic time in power. Who the hell is in charge here?

Labour is funding trade union activity inside Whitehall with millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, The Times has learnt.

Government departments are paying the salaries of dozens of union officials, some earning more than £60,000 a year, who do no work for the taxpayer.

The Conservatives expressed horror last night at the “cadre of union officials” embedded across Whitehall.

Ten departments have revealed that they employ 46 full-time and 87 part-time officials to work exclusively for the unions at taxpayers’ expense. Their salaries cost between £150,000 and £4.5 million per department. They are also given access to office space, computers and photocopiers worth an estimated £1.2 million each year.

A Whitehall whistleblower has told The Times that union officials spent time on “far-left political campaigns and making up false claims about the Conservative Party”. Civil servants are bound by impartiality rules.

The whistleblower also claimed that union officials are given promotions worth thousands of pounds, despite working outside their departments’ remits. The source added: “This is a two-tier system where ordinary civil servants work for a living and strive for years to get promotion, while political cliques in unions get their chums into taxpayer-funded jobs where there is no job.”

One senior official with the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), Karen Abram, lives in Lancashire but has her travel and hotel bills paid by the Department of Health so that she can work in London. The department said that Ms Abram was a “home worker” and that her expenses complied with internal guidelines.

The disclosure, which comes the day before Gordon Brown addresses the TUC conference, has revived accusations that Labour has done favours for its union paymasters.

Several departments, including the Treasury, did not respond to requests for information, which means that the total value of assistance could reach £10 million a year.

According to Electoral Commission records, union donations accounted for £5.4 million, or 69 per cent, of Labour’s fundraising in the first six months of the year.

The scale of the union assistance has caused surprise. One union source said that in an ideal world, there would be one full-time official for every 2,000 workers. However, the Home Office has 83 full and part-time union officials for its 70,000 employees: one for less than every 1,000.

Francis Maude, the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, said: “On top of office costs, it is now clear that the Government is bankrolling a cadre of full-time union officials across Government, costing millions of pounds a year. There needs to be full openness and transparency on these costs so taxpayers can know whether this is appropriate public expenditure and represents value for money.”

A spokeswoman for the Cabinet Office said: “Since 1996, departments and agencies have been able to set their own levels of trade union facilities time, but we do not collect this information centrally. Like many employers, civil service departments follow the Acas code of practice — time off for trade union duties and activities — when agreeing facilities with their trade unions.”

Senior union officials, including Paul Kenny, the general secretary of the GMB union, have regarded attempts by Mr Maude to uncover information about trade unions’ work in Whitehall, as a declaration of war [it damn well should be!]. He told The Times that unions were more heavily regulated than the banks.

The three unions that work inside Whitehall are the PCS, Prospect and the FDA (First Division Association).

Trade union representatives are in theory banned from interfering in the formulation of policy, although some officials suspect that this may take place informally. This was denied by a spokesman for the PCS. “Typically these individuals take up personnel complaints and negotiations with management. In some departments, this is negotiating and some take people on full-time,” he said.

(You can’t touch me, I’m part of the union this Labour government.) Do they think people will be pleased about this? Do they seriously think that we don’t know that they have debauched democracy with their hand-greasing and egregious, shameless use of union place-men to shore up their control of the civil service? Do they think they might have done something wrong here.

The answer to all those questions is, of course, “no”. They have no idea how much fury this latest piece of evidence of the corruption that lies at the blackened heart of this Labour government will generate. Or how much further damage it will cause them.

They are that arrogant; they are that stupid.

How many more nails does Brown’s coffin need hammered into it before we finally get to bury him, one wonders?

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This new toon from the Times’ brilliant Peter Brookes just about perfectly illustrates what an utterly busted flush useless Brown is – and the precarious state of British democracy after 12 years of disastrous, fascistic Labour misgovernance.

It’s pretty funny, too.

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Just watched this 1989 classic for the first time in years. It got me thinking, if he rigs things so he doesn’t have to go between now and June 2010 (or even beyond that date), then how the hell will we rid ourselves of Gordon ‘Tyrant’ Brown? It’s a tricky one.

Tell you what, even though he’s a Dennis Skinner-type loony communist, the fictional PM Harry Perkins is infinitely more desirable than Brown. At least he’s honest. At least he has principles. At least he’s reasonably normal. At least he’s elected!

So we’ll have to switch the plot lines around a bit for our little revolution. The restoration of British democracy is the goal, not the subversion of it, as in the film. That can’t begin before our demagogue PM is removed and this cesspit parliament taken down with him. Any suggestions?

Anyway, here’s a clip:

<embed id=”VideoPlayback” src=”http://video.google.com/googleplayer.swf?docid=-5934770535944771489&amp;hl=en&amp;fs=true&#8221; style=”width: 435px; height: 326px;” allowfullscreen=”true”></embed>

“I’m going to tell the truth.”
“He can’t do that. He’s the Prime Minister.”

Tee hee.

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Just watched this 1989 classic for the first time in years. It got me thinking, if he rigs things so he doesn’t have to go between now and June 2010 (or even beyond that date), then how the hell will we rid ourselves of Gordon ‘Tyrant’ Brown? It’s a tricky one.

Tell you what, even though he’s a Dennis Skinner-type loony communist, the fictional PM Harry Perkins is infinitely more desirable than Brown. At least he’s honest. At least he has principles. At least he’s reasonably normal. At least he’s elected!

So we’ll have to switch the plot lines around a bit for our little revolution. The restoration of British democracy is the goal, not the subversion of it, as in the film. That can’t begin before our demagogue PM is removed and this cesspit parliament taken down with him. Any suggestions?

Anyway, here’s a clip:

“I’m going to tell the truth.”
“He can’t do that. He’s the Prime Minister.”

Tee hee.

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