Friday, October 31, 2003

Come again

Actually the Cuthbertson post below is a joy to read and I recommend it to all my readers. However a prize to the first who can tell me what he means by this wonderful sentence,

"There are people who are enjoying life today who would have been murdered if not for Michael Howard".

Did Howard leap in front of a bullet? Or wrestle someone with a knife to the ground? Or track down a serial killer?

Incidentally I think too much is made about Michael Howard's record as Home Secretary on crime.

Recorded violent crime when Howard took over: 284,000
Recorded violent crime when Howard left: 347,000

Gone

Like IDS, saveiainduncansmith.blogspot.com is no more. It was good while it lasted. Nick Barlow suggests that it was a success, in that it saved him from the certain humilation he would have had at the general election. True, but I can't really take much comfort from it. After all if you don't count his shadow cabinet he got about 45 votes out of 140 Tory MPs. That's humilation.

For those wanting more nice things about IDS, former IDS supporter Peter Cuthbertson shows us the flexibility we know and love in Conservative Party members with a typically unhinged defence of IDS whilst giving his full support to Michael Howard.

Give it a few weeks and it will be 'IDS, who?'.

The Grass Roots may be revolting

1. Howard might be more unpopular with the famed Grass Roots of the Tory party than we thought. Andrew Ian Dodge noted this almost exactly a year ago,

"Are the Tories the "Know Nothing" party for the 21st century? If Michael Howard's performance at an "in-the-round" session last night is anything to go by, it is the new party policy. Despite being at an event with party activists (ie: onside), the Shadow Chancellor managed to annoy most if not the entire room. Instead of listening to the points being offered, he instead mouthed centrist platitudes and non-committal statments. Michael Gove echoes my sentiments with his impassioned call for politicians to stop looking at their navels and pay attention.

His waffle was so bad that a party activist and funder of long standing, who gives £5k a year, pledged not to give a penny more. The entrepeneur was looking for policies that help small businesses; instead he got nothing. What was most interesting about the evening is the strong desire in the room for radical policies. It seemed that, like me, many in the room believed the way back to power is to continue the work Thatcher had started (and Major pissed away) and drive towards a much smaller, more accountable state. Amoungst the younger attendees there was a cry for more "classical liberal" (end to inheritance tax, streamlining of the tax system, more privatisation, de-centralisation, etc) policies and less centrist rubbish.

Howard continued to state that his desire was to do things "better", but he never made any commments to do things differently. He was described by one attendee as a "big government fiscal conservative." An apt description, if this discussion was anything to go by. Despite repeated attempts to deny it, it is clear the current Tory policy is to wait for Blair to fail. It is a high risk policy that may well, in fact, be doomed to failure.

As the attendees wandered off into a coolish London night, many of them wondered aloud why they had bothered. If a senior member of the Cabinet cannot convince his party members of the correctness of the party's policies, what chance does he have to convince the country, as a whole, to vote Tory. "

2. I am not going to resign from the Tory party. Why? The perks. Today they sent me an hilarous magazine, 'Heartlands' which I will bring you excerpts from next week, including how Iain Duncan Smith silenced his critics with his party conference speech.


Thursday, October 30, 2003

Howard II

The Guardian has Howard's recent voting record. Pretty right-wing Conservative standard fare, though interestingly he voted for a fully-elected House of Lords. Is this Tory party policy? I have no idea.

Decapitation

Somewhere in blogland it has been pointed out that Michael Howard's Folkestone constituency is not the safest in the world, with a majority of 5,907. The Lib Dems would require a 6% swing to take it.

Now for the Lib Dems to achieve this would be quite an achievement, particularly as if Howard has any future he will need a large national swing to the Conservatives. But a determined campaign, and tactical voting from Labour (who had nearly 10,000 votes) would at least keep Howard on his toes during the election campaign, reducing his profile elsewhere.

Then again that might be a good thing for the Tories...

For the last time

I've updated saveiainduncansmith.blogspot.com. It was the greatest failure of my career, and one I will have to take stock of and next time do better.

I resign! (Probably)

So I win Nick Barlow's IDS sweepstake with a 100% accurate forecast of the number of 'no' votes, 90.

It's (once you get over the inevitable 'didn't he do well?', itself telling) a terrible indictment of IDS's leadership that even with all the institutional bias towards keeping your leader only 75 Tory MPs had confidence in him.

And now to Michael Howard. When I joined the Tory party I hoped to be able to influence IDS's successor. I got my timing right -- I am eligible to vote on November 11th.

Unfortunately it looks like it was £12 wasted.

I can't agree with the party official on Newsnight last night who was so angry about the lack of 'democracy'. For a start, despite what he was saying, the Conservative Party has never been a democratic party. Until the 1960s it didn't even have a formalised leadership process. Second most party members are revolting and you wouldn't trust them with your old boots, let alone choosing a potential PM.

Nevertheless I also can't remain in a party with Michael Howard as leader.

Is there anything in his favour? So, he's 'forensic'? Useful is you are a scientist, perhaps. I suppose you could say that the Conservative Party is going the way of all other European centre-right political parties in choosing a grey, safe, dull man and that might get them back into power at some point. And at least -- for the first time since the 1960s we aren't going to have the most right-wing candidate on offer (well we are, but you know what I mean).

But Michael Howard?! Is this really the man to provide the massive overhaul we need to win back power?

To win power we need to do a few things quickly, 1. Forget about Thatcher, 2. Forget about IDS. 3. Try to realise that public bad, private good is not how most of the electorate think. 4. Come up with some policies that don't involve being nasty to foreigners.

Is Michael Howard up to the task? Of course not.

Therefore with a heavy heart I will tender my resignation from the Conservative Party once Howard is elected, unless he does something radical like bring Ken Clarke back.

ps Memo to party -- don't choose the candidate Thatcher backs -- Major, Hague, IDS -- see a link?
ps Oliver Letwin basically owes Andrew Rawnsley £1000

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Can he do it?

There's a growing sense that IDS might be about to pull off a great victory (see link below). That would be brilliant news. Even his critics must contend that he is great fun to have around.

IDS II

The BBC's diary is good for up-to-date information. The latest is that there has been 'a surge of sympathy' for IDS and he might get 60, 70, or even 80+ votes. He can still do it!

IDS

A few thoughts (probably repeated everywhere by everyone) on IDS.

1. He needs a large majority to survive, not say 60% of the vote. This is not an election of two candidates where IDS can say 'Well they would prefer X but they also support me'. This is a vote of confidence. Imagine the disaster for IDS when Labour can say 'Even 40% of his backbenchers have no confidence in his leadership'.
2. He might survive. ITN last night said he was a gonner but Andrew Marr pointed out 'you never know'.
3. According to an interesting story in the Independent the Conservative Party in parliament with him is in dire straits. Two members of the whips office are said to have been canvassing for letters against him.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Previous elections

A quick guide to previous elections against a sitting Tory leader and/or Tory PM. Only once has the incumbent lost (Heath) although Thatcher did not win in 1990 (the rules IIRC were a majority plus 15%).

1995, July 4
John Major 218
John Redwood 89

1990, November 20

Margaret Thatcher 204
Michael Heseltine 152

1989, December 5th

Margaret Thatcher 314
Sir Anthony Meyer 33

1975, February 4th

Margaret Thatcher 130
Edward Heath 119
Hugh Fraser 16

ps Nick Barlow has the odds on who will be the next Tory leader.

That seems rather quick

I go out for lunch and they have 4 votes, I return and Sky is reporting the 25 votes are in. It appears IDS's ultimatum was about as successful as his other policies.

ps It will take place tomorrow with result at around 6pm -- so clearly IDS is not going to resign.
pps He 'welcomes it', and is putting his name forward. He didn't say, like his (presumably ex after she called him the 'worst Tory leader ever') hero Thatcher, say 'I fight on, I fight to win'. Shame.

Monday, October 27, 2003

More biased BBC

An absolute classic on Biased BBC. I can't tell whether the author, Ed Thomas, is taking the piss or not of the whole concept. I fear he's not.

-------------

Headlining Tragedy

The difference between the headline sequence on CNN and BBC is stark.

Here is the BBC approach at 8.40 UK time:

'Bombs rock central Baghdad'

'At least 18 people are reported killed as the Red Cross headquarters and other buildings come under attack.'

Here is the CNN at the same time:

'Explosions rock Baghdad'

'At least 10 people have been killed and several injured following three explosions in the space of an hour in the Iraqi capital.
The first blast, believed caused by a suicide car bomb, struck early in the morning outside the Red Cross headquarters in the city leaving several vehicles ablaze and huge plumes of smoke rising into the air.'

Can anyone apart from me see hysteria in the one and sanity in the other, even if, as I suspect, the BBC usually gets casualty figures right?
------------

Ok -- having read it again he must be joking. It's the title, 'Headlining Tragedy' that gives it away. No-one, not even the swivel-eyed folk at Biased BBC, could see bias in 'Bombs rock central Baghdad' and not 'Explosions rock Baghdad'.

ps Then again I've read some of his other posts and now I am not so sure....

Friday, October 24, 2003

Den Beste

For a bit of fun I headed off to Stephen Den Beste's USS Cluelesss (if you remember he's the man who likes to make photoshopped jokes about September 11th) to see what the prolix one had to say.

He sure isn't keen on North Koreans who it appears are going to be nuked if America gets nuked by anyone.

"We'd also have to establish a new doctrine, and this would be more controversial and politically risky. The doctrine would be that if anyone set off a nuke in our territory and no one claimed responsibility, or if a terrorist group claimed responsibility, in that case we'd also obliterate NK"

ps John B in the comments section points out that I am being unfair to Den Beste here and he is right. He does specifically say this would not be a good idea, albeit it because NK would have a bomb, not because of the lack of evidence. Furthermore in Den Beste's defence when one of his correspondents suggests if someone nukes the US ANYWHERE in the world that can't prove it wasn't them should be nuked, or another suggests that North Korea should just be nuked anyway before it drops a bomb on the US, he does patiently explain why this might not be a good idea.

WhatdoYouwantGuv

I've just done a YouGov poll. They asked me about Iraq, Northern Ireland, illness at work, Top Man's Moto brand and which mobile phone makers come to mind. Nothing about the Great (and Quiet) Man. Stinging attack in The Economist though, and this interesting anecdote;

"his habit of leaving his clothes around his office and then barking at his female staff: "get those cleaned."

Canadian defence

A letter to The Economist,

Sir,

"Canada enjoys a free ride in defence from the United States" you insist. Please advise us of the countries that would attack Canada were it not for the might of the United States military"

Roy Palmer,
Quebec

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Going down?

Following Nick Barlow's alternative look at the league table, showing Wolves off the bottom, I enclose one of the spread betting firms' forecast for the end of season table. Wolves are somewhere down there -- you have to scroll a long way. It's hard to disagree with most of the conclusions -- it rather shows the 3-way nature of the league (best in Europe?!) although perhaps Leeds might be worth a bet? (sorry for bad formatting)


Man Utd 83
82
Arsenal 81
80
79
Chelsea 78
77
76
75
74
73
72
71
70
69
68
67
66
65
64
Liverpool 63
62
61
Newcastle 60
59
58
57
56
55
54
Man City 53
Birm'ham 52
51
Southampton 50
49
Charlton, Tottenham, Everton 48
47
Blackb'n 46
Fulham
Villa 45
Middlesbrough 44
Portsm'th 43
Leeds 42
41
Bolton 40
39
38
37
36
35
34
Leicester 33
32
Wolves 31

We must pull together

Things are looking back for IDS. Hence I have posted two new pieces to SaveIainDuncanSmith, the blog that is capitvating Westminster.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

PCRS IV - 100% real

Since starting at university in Colchester Peter Cuthbertson's unique perspective on current affairs has sadliy diminished. Luckily the great man still comments on other people's blogs and here is a classic via the excellent Harry's Place. I should stress I didn't write this myself -- it is 100% genuine. Later I'll bring you some examples of his 'measured' and 'laid back' attitude (e..g comparing the EU to Stalin).

"Despite being a very politically interested person, I am normally the last person to take a dislike to someone for their politics, and my general outlook is very laid back and measured in terms of what matters more in life. So very, very few things infuriate me. But it sickens me beyond words that ordinary, decent people who would wish no harm on anyone can be blown to pieces month after month for years on end simply for belonging to a country willing to grant Ulstermen the right to remain British for as long as they wish it, and yet still some of their fellow countrymen see fit to produce apologist tracks for their evil murderers. You're a warped and degenerate little man, Brownie, and a Quisling on a par with those Blackshirts who undermined Britain's war effort. People like you are the enemy of every decent and democratic person and you and Adams and McGuinness and the rest of your crooked heroes will fail. Thank God for that."

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

NYRB

The New York Review of Books is one of those things you forget about and then one day think -- oh, there must be a new one out -- and off you go to the website and there it is. It's a good edition this week -- including an interesting book review of Paul Krugman's latest.

Need some more pro-Bush talk not to be Anti-American

I've just checked on the swivel-eyed folk at Biased BBC and they have indeed reported on the story. Check it out.

Also I always like to include a few examples of egregious BBC bias. Here is a recent one, in a story about Bush meeting Arnie their correspondent wrote,

"Apparently, in his Terminator days, Mr Schwarzenegger had campaigned for the president's father - also of course a one-time president (emphasis added). "

Now, the problem here is simple. The BBC is alleging that Bush will not win re-election! It's not of course that they are using one-time to mean 'once was a', or just meant to put 'of course one-time president' or 'at one-time president'. To prove how biased it is the BBC later edited it -- no 'stealth edited it' (why didn't Peter Scissons mention it on News at 6?!).

Update: 'Ken' writes in the comments section: '100% of the edits are anti-American. [if] the edits were simply based on sloppiness, there would be a balanced +/- distribution of anti/pro erasures'.

Exactly Ken! Extreme anti-Americanism such as saying 'also a one-time President' is not on. We need some pro-Bushism or pro-Americanism to counter such comments.

Bias at the BBC

Oh dear. The folks at Biased-BBC are going to be all over this story. It appears the public believe the BBC was less objective in it's war coverage than other British TV broadcasters. The full report is here.

Only 66% to 69% thought the BBC's coverage was objective. Between 21% and 25% thought it was biased towards the Iraqi government...er no hang on...towards the British/Americans. Only 4% thought it was biased towards the Iraqi government and 12% towards the anti-war-lobby. The question therefore is - can we conclude all 18% work for Biased-BBC?

Affirmative Action

I know I said I would say nothing more on this subject but I have been reading a bit on the subject and so I am somewhat confused about an arguments critics of affirmative action make. Basically one argument is that by the 1970s black people, whether measured by economic or social factors, had stopped making progress, and this was in large part because of the way in which affirmative action reduces their incentives to do well, makes them feel like permanent victims and so on.

Now let us accept these premises (though even if true are they not true for poor whites too?), there seems to me to be a rather large problem with the argument. Despite what you would believe if you read right-wing blogs here was hardly any affirmative action in the UK in the 1960s, 1970s and even 1980s.

The earliest race legislation was the 1968 Race Relations Act, which outlawed intentional discrimination in employment, housing and the provision of goods and services. This was largely toothless, but in any case seems unlikely to have brought about black incapacity and victimhood. Then came the 1976 Race Relations Act, which covered direct and indirect discrimination in the private sector, and employment practices in the public sector. This law establised the CRE, replacing two statutory bodies establied in 1965 and 1968. The law permitted, but did not require a limited degree of 'positive action', under which current employees from a particular racial group could be trained to fill positions in which their racial group is underepresented. However recruiting for that purpose was forbidden.

This rather tepid measure in practice had a very limited effect in very limited areas and seems highly unlikely to have had the impact on black schoolchildren some believe. You then have to wait until 2000, in the Race Relations Amendement Act before you get more effective positive discrimination measures (this was largely in response to a report commissioned into the murder of Stephen Lawrence) and directed at large organisations, notably the Metropolitan Police. However even under affirmative action US-style remains illegal.

Thus unless we really believe the liimited statutory and (in practice terms non-existent) measure in the 1968 and 1976 acts had an impact on black youths completely out of proportion to their actual impact affirmative action cannot be an explanation for anything concerning them that happens 2002, and even then the full effect won't be seen until about 2013.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Moderately affluent

May i just note that today's Economist describes people earning over £100,000 a year as 'moderately affluent' (in an article on Lib Dem tax policy).

Thursday, October 16, 2003

An important contibution to British Politics

In an attempt to give The Quiet Man some comfort at this difficutl time I have decided to stop cluttering this site up with messages of support and dedicate a whole new blog to his achievements SaveIainDuncanSmith.

This could be important. Heh.

Still going on

The Oliver Kamm/Stephen Marks debate on the Iraq war is still going on. I see signs that it is ending (probably due to boredom -- it's rivalling David Blaine for endurance) with Oliver saying 'even if it was illegal' which sounds like a get-out clause (even if only tactically) to me.

General Election 2005

I rather enjoyed the Portillo programme last night. I thought it somewhat conflated the twin difficulties of being a parent and being poor, but Portillo came out of it well.

Thus the moment you have all been waiting for -- will I vote for him in GE2004 (assuming it is in 2004)?

Obviously as a member of the Conservative Party I want the party's official candidate to win. But luckily as Portillo will win by a large majority whatever I do it doesn't matter if I vote for someone else. Such are the delights of the First Past the Post system.

So I'm going to vote for someone else. Unless I change my mind.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

And more

Natalie Solent replies to my reply to her reply to my post (I think that's right). I feel this needs ending and I don't think we're getting anywhere. However I must comment on one thing:

"For those new to Matthew Turnerís blog, all that stuff about him being a Tory is a joke"

That is presumptious. So far I have been very careful not to say it is a joke. I have even supported the party on various people's blogs (Oliver Kamm's was the latest in a debate on pensions). If Michael Portillo liked the euro and didn't believe foreigners cheated in their exams I could even vote for him.

I will report back to my readers (and Natalie) after the Portillo programme at 9pm tonight.

The Wit and Wisdom of Iain Duncan Smith II

Here The Quiet Man notes that high 'growth rates' in the rest of the world represent 'very serious competition for us'. Sadly we can't reduce the growth rates in the rest of the world, so TQM comes up with a proposal of cutting government expenditure to allow us 'to compete with the rest of the world'.

"My right hon. and learned Friend is right to talk about a short or medium-term target of 40 per cent [for public spending]., but in the longer term, if we are to compete with the rest of the world--and its growth rates represent very serious competition for us--we must bring expenditure levels down even further"

Is IDS finished?

As the inquiry into IDS begins attention turns to what this means for his political future.

The BBC seems to think that if he is found guility his career as Tory leader is over, while if he is cleared it should enhance his standing among his MPs. This seems about right -- if he was to be barred from the Commons although it might make his performance as Tory leader somewhat better (no more PMQ disasters) it would be an odd situation, to say the least, for him to continue leading his party. There has been a debate about whether you could be PM from the Lords, but I've never seen one about whether you could be PM whilst being suspended from the Houses of Parliament. On the other hand if he is cleared outright then his critics look cowardly and mean.

However what happens if he is found guility to a lesser degree? This surely will finish him too. Now he has given up his claims to 'play the man not the ball' with his disgraceful conference speech, about all he has left is his reputation for honesty (which has already taken a few knocks, e.g his CV). Furthermore about the only coherent policy he can fight the election on is that he will spend 'taxpayers' money with more care than Mr Blair -- yet if these serious allegations are true we would have to conclude that IDS treats 'taxpayers' money with contempt.

I still think he is brilliant.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

£9.6bn a year

The Daily Telegraph notes that the government has spent £9.6bn on a failed campaign to make people reduce weight. The usual suspects are jumping up and down with glee mixed with outrage.

Maybe we should step back a little and ask ourselves 'is it true' or 'if it is true what does it mean'? The Telegraph article is short on how it gets to the £9.6bn, and a general news search show no-one else has any figures.

Examining a bit more closely British Spin can't come up with even £1bn. To his study I would like to add that the entire government advertising budget last year was around £250 million (i.e. less than 3% of the figure) and the Department of Health's was around £40m.

SO how did the Telegraph get to this figure? I can see three ways. One, I've got it wrong and actually they spent £9.6bn directly on fighting flab -- i.e nearly half the annual defence budget. Two, she's taken long-standing policies, such as sports in schools, and added them all up. Three, she's mistaken an advertising campaign costing £9.6mn for one costing £9.6bn.




IDS slides further

What can you do but shake your head in sorrow? The investigation into possible IDS sleaze is to go ahead.

Let us hope The Quiet Man is innoncent, or our party might have wasted another two years.

Monday, October 13, 2003

9,000 words

An amusing (for a while) debate between Oliver Kamm and Stephen Marks on the origins of the second Gulf war. It's pretty difficult to follow as neither really address each others points. But entertaining to see 9,000 words (I think) in a comments box.

Portillo

Having moved house my momentous decision to vote Conservative at the next election is having unseen consequences. Previously, in safe Labour Hampstead and Highgate, any Tory vote from me would have little impact, and in any case I had no idea who the candidate was going to be. Now however, I will be voting to put Michael Portillo in again. Oh dear. I know he's all cuddly, contrite and caring now, but I've never seen an apology for either his SAS speech (in which he basically threatened our European allies with an armed response) or his 'In other countries they pay to get exam results' speech. Also I saw him talk earlier this year and he said his hero was Margaret Thatcher.

Pathe

Pathe news has put 12 million pictures from its collection on the internet for free.

Cable revalued

The excellent Vincent Cable has been made the Lib Dems Treasury spokesman or is it now Shadow Chancellor? Either way it's a good appointment by Charles Kennedy*.

*Hang on...The Quiet Man is on the line -- he says he has a joke to add there. Ok...go on Iain..

"I bet he'll be celebrating with some bubbly this evening".

Oh, priceless.

Opinion polls

Here is my attempt to graph all this year's opinion polls Here I did a rolling average of the last 4 polls.

Please note the rolling average is not very scientific -- polls are not evenly spaced out over time or even by company.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Embarassing

There is no greater IDS support than I, but this is one of the most embarassing speeches I have ever heard.

He's currently trying to sound Churchillian or he's predicting civil disobedience. I can't really tell. Either way it sounds absurd.

"If the Government does not give the British people a say on the new constitution Ė that will not be the last word on the matter. I promise.

I will fight with all my strength to defend the British people's right to govern themselves.
And I put the government on notice. Michael Ancram and I will lead the campaign across the nation to fight for a referendum. We will fight at next year's vital European elections.
We will fight in Parliament We will fight at the general election. And I promise you: I will fight, fight and fight again to save the country that I love. Europe and the world"

Of course it's getting a lot of applause, but let us recall that John Major got a standing ovation from the Conservative Party at conference only five months after leading them to their largest ever election defeat.

ps It's getting worse. He's just asked them if they saw Blair's speech last week. They all looked really glum at the comparison.

Unity

It's slightly comic that only a few week's ago various bloggers were saying that the Conservative Party had the advantage of unity. I've never seen a conference week so overtaken with rumours of plots, a leader so devoid of support within his own party and a party so close to collective nervous breakdown. We were in a better shape in 1990 or 1995!

Now the Daily Telegraph tells us that even the reactionary fools who make up most of our membership think they made a mistake in electing IDS. Well nice of you to realise.

Now what we need is another leadership election where again we'll select the most right-wing candidate on offer, who will again fight the election on policies that would only appeal to the electorate if they were composed solely of dockers in the 19th century East End, and who will again resign honourably after failing to win seats such as Enfield.

It's not as if no-one predicted this disaster. Almost everyone predicted this disaster. Even Simon Heffer predicted this disaster. And there's nothing The Quiet Man can do - how can he call for loyalty when night after night he tried to destroy the last Conservative government?

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Conservative Domination through gambling

The Quiet Man says he is confident of winning the next election, and I for one believe him. Hence my idea to ensure that this country onlly ever has Conservative governments from now on.

Here's the plan. Each party member (and I believe there are 250,000 of us) stump up twenty pounds each to get a five million pounds. We then buy the Conservative position on IG Index, which is currently offering this spread on the expected number of Tory seats after the next GE -- 214-224.

To get a majority I think you need 330 seats, thus if TQM is right, on our bet we'll get 106 * 5m which is £530m. Such a a large fund should ensure that we can win any election we fight for the next 25 years. If TQM doesn't think this is enough he could perhaps raise another 5m from corporate donors, giving us over £1bn of fighting funds.

Be more careful

Even in its new, cool, tabloid size the Independent still suffers from a lack of decent political columnists, in particular Johan Hari, who some people seem to adore but I've never really seen the point.

Only one one issue -- the liberation of Iraq (as he would call it) does he ever seem aminated, for example this piece on March 26th (which I have edited only for length, see here for the full thing.

"Kenneth Joseph is a young American pastor who was so convinced that the current war would be waged against the will of the Iraqi people that he travelled to Iraq to act as a human shield. He was convinced that he would be welcomed by the Iraqis as a hero. Yet this week Joseph was explaining that his trip had "shocked him back to reality".

The Iraqi people told him that they saw the war as desirable, despite the inevitably high cost of
civilian deaths.They said - in footage he recorded on a hidden camcorder - that "they
would commit suicide if American bombing didn't start. They were willing to see their homes demolished to gain their freedom from Saddam's bloody tyranny. They convinced me that Saddam was a monster."

Every single anti-war protestor should - on the basis of this evidence and similar material I have offered in previous columns about the real wishes of the Iraqi people - reconsider their view. This is not "pro-war propaganda": Joseph was as anti-war as the most vehement members of the Stop the War coalition, but he was also an honest man who could not disregard the evidence of his own eyes."

Unfortunately 'every single anti-war protestor' should 'on the basis of the evidence' presented here, ignore everything Hari has to say. Private Eye notes this week that the whole story is false, see Counterpunch for the details.

This is not to be too hard on Hari, he has had the good grace to admit he was wrong,

"NOTE, written 25th Spetember 2003: It transpires that Kenneth Joseph was probably a bullshitter, and that his claimns were false. I should have checked his story out more rigorously before I used it. The full details of the Joseph affair can be found at the excellent Counterpunch website."

and journalists are going to get fooled, particularly if they write as often as Hari. But I do wish -- and this applies to this blog as much as proper journalism-- people would think a little more before relying on one source, even if it doe say what they want to hear, and particular if they are going to use it to lecture other people on what to do.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Jeans too

The days of 'Tory Boy' are over, if the Conservatives' shadow minister for young people is to be believed.

Charles Hendry notes that "the "Tory Boy" image has been jettisoned and the youth wing now looks "very normal". "That is the biggest change in our image change...Whereas 10 years ago they were having white tie dinners at £150-a-head, there was a good mix at the latest Conservative future dinner, with people dressed in jeans and t-shirts. They do look like other students."

Movie Guide

Although its not fool-proof, I always find that Plugged In is the best movie (and CD/DVD) guide on the internet for pure entertainment. Its mission statement,

"Plugged In is a Focus on the Family publication designed to help equip parents, youth leaders, ministers and teens with the essential tools that will enable them to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which they live"

gives you a flavour, but only through reading some of the reviews can you get a taste for the hatred in which they hold modern popular culture. No film ever gets a 100% rating, but Disney's new film Captain Nemo, did quite well, except for bad language...

"Crikey" is the closest thing to profane in the movie, but several crass phrases are started ("What the ...") and left hanging. When the fish in the dentistís tank purposefully foul their environment to make him clean it, one asks, "Does anybody realize weíre swimming in our own ..." (Heís interrupted before he can finish.) "Shut up" and "nuts" are also used."

Often unexceptional films (in every sense) such as 'Meet the Parents' meet with scorn:

"If only it had felt confident enough in its clean humor to avoid unnecessary sexual dialogue and profanity, including nearly a dozen misuses of Godís name."

Sometimes the criticism is just weird. On 'Saving Private Ryan' the reviewer moans about the language used by troops as they were moan to bits at Ohama,

"Foul language includes over 30 f- and s-words. On the battlefield, soldiers reminisce about sexual exploits back home (one young man recalls trying to have sex with an "ugly" schoolgirl in his father's barn). As for respecting faith and God, Ryan wobbles on both sides of the fence. It shows soldiers praying sincerely, but depicts one sniper as mentally unbalanced (he prays each time he kills a man)."




Hitchens

A few observations on Peter Hitchen's call for the Tory Party to disband.

It was a curious article, insofar that Hitchens' description of the Tory party's plight is rather good, whereas his prescription to get for new party it is ridiculous, and would see them reduced to third party state if they held together long enough.

Hitchens is frequently accused of wanting to return to the 1950s, but just because he is so frequently accused of it doesn't mean he doesn't, he does. And yet this is the complete opposite of what the Conservative Party needs, for the 1950s and 1960s still loom large in the party's current terrible state.

To see why think back to the aftermath of the 1992 election. It was commonly argued that social and economic change had destroyed the industrial working class, and thus Labour's prospects of ever forming a government. In fact, although Labour did need to adjust to these profound changes (though it is debatable whether actually needed New Labour, or if instead merely destroying the Bennite left would have done), and it did, in many ways they were also positive for the party. The decline of the manual working class went hand-in-hand with the decline of social and economic hierarchy and priviledge. Both of these essentially meant the end of the non-manual lower-middle class as a uniform block, which had been held together voting Tory by deference on one side and a fear of the manual working class on the other.

Now this group of people might not have been 'natural' Labour voters, if the Tories had articulated a view of society less hierarchial, and deferential, ie. Hitchens' 1950s dream. But they did or could not, and probably still can't (witness William Hague's 2001 election campaign).

Thus Thatcher's election victories of the 1980s (which were themselves due in large part to fortuitous, short-term factors) masked the underlying trend, which was massively to the detriment of the Tory party, and came to the fore in Labour's 1997 and 2001 landslides.

To recover from this the Tory party therefore needs the complete opposite of a return to 1950s world. It needs to become much more like a continental European right-wing party. A classic example of the other-worldlyness it inhabits was the opposition in it to the removal of hereditary peers, a position that would not have been contemplated by any other major right-wing party in the world.


8/10

I got 8/10 in naming the Conservatives' shadow cabinet, getting 4 and 7 wrong. How do you do?

IDS oh dear

If IDS isn't in deep trouble, the Conservative Party is trying to pretend he is.

Bonkers 'Bruce Anderson' today says that IDS has to resign if the Tories are to have any chance of winning the next election. An opinion poll says that only 53% of voters have heard of IDS, and only 7 in every 10 Tory vote.

More worringly the Conservatives trail Labour by 5 points in the latest poll, with a mere 31% of the vote. The Lib Dems are on 26%. This obvious has something to do with a Labor bounce after their conference, but probably also reflects the terrible time IDS is having.

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Germans = Nazis

Terribly odd article in the FT magazine on a journalists visit to Berchtesgaden, which was Hitler's HQ in the Alps for much of the war.

The journalist, Angela Lambert, arrives in teh area and says, 'Here -- not for the first time -- I was astonished by people's sudden, unprovoked rudeness', of which she gives some examples, including rude shopkeepers, railway clerks etc.

From this she decides,

'I concluded that it would have been people like this who became early Nazis, willing collaborators in an authortarian, hierarchial society: led step by imperceptible step towards differentiation (of the mentally or physically handicapped, gypsies, homosexuals, jews), then 'begin' incarceration, merciful euthanasia and finally mass extermination"

And on the Final Solution,

'It's aftermath still shows. There were no signs of Jewish life here. I never saw a handicapped child or adult, all signs of the frailty of the human condition tidied away. Multiculturalism and ethnic mix have not reached Berchtesgaden and I didn't see a single black or Asian visitor, let alone resident'.

And so on..

'Most of course were welcoming people. So why was I haunted by the feeling that the little town's immaculate streets and prosperous citizens hid not just an appalling past but a troubling present? There were many who might still, in spite of everything that happened here, respond to a stirring and seductive call for the purification of the German race'

Save IDS campaign

IDS's position looks desperate and according to the Sunday Telegraph he has very few supporters on the back benches.

In an attempt to shore up his position I am starting a 'Save IDS' campaign. This was the idea behind the 'Wit and Wisdom of IDS' but after hours of searching I can't really find much that would helpful.

Therefore 'Save IDS' will be based on discrediting those who want his job.

First, the 'shadow' Chancellor, Michael Howard, showing his economic expertise.

5th June 1991

"So much for the policies that the Labour party would have pursued if it had been in power during the past few years. What of the policies that it now proposes? What would be their effect on unemployment? The effect of the minimum wage policy on jobs would be devastating"

Unemployment when Michael Howard made his remarks. 10.6%
Unemployment today with minimum wage in real terms similar to the Labour policy Howard is referring to
4.4%

IDS RIP

It's sad to report, and you have to login so I won't link, but Britain's most Conservative Party-friendly newspaper, the Sunday Telegraph really has the knives out for The Quiet Man this morning. Max Hastings demands his replacement by ANYONE, whilst Matthew d'Acona notes that the parliamentary party are all plotting against him.

Ricin away from the truth

You're never going to guess -- the Ricin found in London...which somehow (I forget exactly) linked Saddam Hussein to Al Quedaprobably wasn't ricin.

But will IDS survive?

Allegations are flying around this morning about IDS and something to do with the employment of his wife on taxpayers money. As I said below, the more taxpayers money IDS spends the better, so as far as I am concerned this is a non-issue. However the Sunday Times says if true, the (largely unknown) allegations would require his resignation.

On the way

My decision to become a Conservative was motivated mainly by the fact that they are clearly nowadays the party of high government spending. Our policy on free university tuition hitherto has been the most visible of these generous commitments, but I expect many more to emerge during this year's party conference.

Already today we here that the party is going to restore the link between pensions' and earnings' growth. This is clearly an overdue measure, and to the eternal shame of Blair's government that it hasn't done so earlier. As I have noted many times on these pages, any sensible national pension system requires a large PAYG state element, and that Britain had the most 'affordable' state pension schem in Europe was a source of national shame, not pride.

Saturday, October 04, 2003

Well, I wouldn't have put it so strongly myself,

Peter Hitchens in this week's Spectator...

"The Tory party is a train wreck, not a train, an obstacle rather than a vehicle. There are many good and intelligent people trapped in the twisted ruins who would flourish if only they were released, but are now prevented from doing so by a pointless discipline. There are many voters, currently unable to vote Tory even while holding their noses, who long for a party that speaks for them and the country. Such a party cannot begin to grow until the Tory delusion is dispelled and this movement, whose time is gone, splits and disappears. Let it be soon."

Duncers in trouble

What does The Quiet Man have to do to get some respect?

He takes us into the lead in the opinion polls, with well over 30% of the electorate saying they will vote for us, and his own deputy leader tells the FT he needs to be more aggressive! That's just not his style David, and you should no that. He could barely bring himself to sack you even when you were plotting against him!

Backbench opinion is even worse.

"suicidal . . . People are finally concluding that we can't carry on like this any more. With a government that's doing this badly, and us just about level pegging with the bloody Lib Dems, it's a disaster."

Another said: "Almost anyone would be an improvement," and a backbench colleague said: "We have not a snowball's chance in hell of winning the next election . . . The party is in dire straits, heading towards oblivion and we need not just a new leader but a new shadow cabinet and a whole new strategy. It's a complete shambles."

I think it's time for all us Conservatives to make a public show of support for The Quiet Man, who needs us more than ever.

Solent revisited

Those with long memories and little social life will remember back in August I made a few criticisms of a post made by Natalie Solent, accusing her of racism. As the Great Kamm would say, 'I wouldn't bother reading past here'. But if you are very bored, I'll continue.

A bit later she replied, and in reply to her reply I said this,

"Anyway, Natalie Solent responds (indirectly) to my post below wrongly accusing her of racism, taking refuge in the old line of 'someone has to say it'. To be honest the post isn't much better than her previous one, with some classic touches such as the phrase 'informed black opinion' (that's the black opinion that agrees with her, naturallly). She quotes Martiin Luther King (an informed black) as if that ends the debate, despite the fact that we clearly aren't in the world he dreamt about, which is why we have affirmative action programmes.

Some progress has been made, as she now says she was only talking about a subsection of the black population. And yet I'll quote her original article again:

"This truth is often denied, but you watch the loudest deniers choose which tube carriage to get into late at night and you will get an education. Even black women will avoid a group of young black men. Imagine the tragedy of a black mother who watches her son go from being a lovable kid to being one of those rowdy, threatening youths. "

There's nothing qualifying the 'those rowdy threatening youths' except that they are 'black, young, men'. However if I misunderstood what she was trying to say then that's all well and good.

Essentially however the point of our disagreement is that Solent believes that black youths try less hard at school because they don't think they'll need qualifications because everything will be made easier for them. I think that's a load of Horlicks. "


I think you get the gist, though if you wish to read Solent's original piece (typical quote 'Because the biggest problem facing black people in Britain (and the US) is crime by other blacks') see here

Anyway to my surprise whilst trying to find a piece I wrote via Google, I came across a further reply from her. I can't make head nor tail what she is going on about, but it might prove informative for some people.

"Next bit. Matthew Turner writes:
Some progress has been made, as she now says [not now says; always did say - NS] she was only talking about a subsection of the black population. And yet I'll quote her original article again:

"This truth is often denied, but you watch the loudest deniers choose which tube carriage to get into late at night and you will get an education. Even black women will avoid a group of young black men. Imagine the tragedy of a black mother who watches her son go from being a lovable kid to being one of those rowdy, threatening youths. "

There's nothing qualifying the 'those rowdy threatening youths' except that they are 'black, young, men'. However if I misunderstood what she was trying to say then that's all well and good.


Well and good for him, maybe. He says that inter-blog wars are confusing and boring. For me the interest level of inter-blog wars goes right up when it's me being called a racist. Try it sometime. So I was motivated to turn to my dictionary. It says of the auxiliary verb "will" that it expresses "insistence, resolve, habit or intention," adding that 'would' is the past tense. Habit or predominating custom is the meaning used in this case. Here are some other sentences using the word the same way.

"Spanish workers will take a siesta in the afternoon."
"Your best friends won't [=will not] tell you, you know."
"On Friday afternoons I will curl up with my copy of Gardening Weekly."
"Blacks will start up their own businesses to sidestep the white-dominated job market." [That last in the sense of an observation of the present, not a prediction of the future.]

This usage is standard English. It's not particularly easy to misconstrue, unless you read with your hand on the trigger."


Eh? What is she on about? Which 'will' is she referring to? And why?

On the other point, where I alleged that Solent thinks black men have it too easy, she says that what she actually is saying is that because 'any qualifications, reputation or habits of diligence they might gain won't make as as much obvious difference as they should', the 'scale of incentives is flattened out. '

This I still think is complete and utter toss. The scale of inventives for young black men certainly is flatter than it is for young white men, but that is because of general racism in the labour and other markets, rather than because of affirmative action. Many studies (admittedly in the US mainly) show that black men need greater qualifications than white men to achieve the same position. That is the rationale for affirmative action.

On a micro level Solen'ts argument doesn't work either. When she blathers on about 'The point is that they think or, what is harder to cure, they half-consciously feel, that it won't make much difference what they do', then she really needs to explain this 'half-consciously' thing a little more -- I cannot believe half-consciously or other young black men believe society rejects or refuses to reward their talents because of affirmative action.

You can picture it now, in Solent-land a young, black man aged 25 enviously watching his similarly-aged white neighbour who went to private school, Oxford and now works in the City, thinking 'If only affirmative action hadn't half-consciously flattened the incentives to my being successful I could be like him'.

There's not a great deal more to be said. It appears I admitted I 'wrongly accused her of being racist' so we'll leave it at that, except to point out that she clearly has a very strange view of young, black men. Luckily for young black men they are not alone in attracting her strictures -- muslims maybe don't have too flat an incentive structure to be decent, but they get an easy ride by the media...

" violence by Muslims is played down by the media. People read the papers and find stories tucked away in corners that they know perfectly well would be spread across the front page if a non-Muslim person or country did the same thing."

'That they know perfectly well" -- you couldn't make it up, although one suspects perhaps Solent does.

Friday, October 03, 2003

Wes

General Wesley Clark, US Democratic Presidential hopeful, has a piece in the latest New York Review of Books (dated October 23 curiously) on what went wrong in Iraq.


To save right-wing bloggers time, I have read it for things that may come back to haunt him in the campaign.

I think I've found some (the '...' is where I've missed some words out for clarity),

"The American campaign to invade Iraq ...was...a...mistake. ...Saddam...is....a... better...man....than...president...bush"

Thursday, October 02, 2003

The Boys Book of Soccer 1963

Still packing before moving house I uncovered the above titled bok. And a cracking read it is.

Nick Barlow would enjoy it, for it describes Wolves as 'a power in English soccer', a 'cast-iron defence with a powerful, if not particularly attractive, style of forward play which brings them many victories'.

Some things however don't change. An article 'too many clubs' bemoans the fact that there are 22 clubs in Division 1, which means we can't compete with less tired Europeans. It argues for a 'super league', which fewer clubs, better ground facilities, with 'tip-up seats, good restaurants and car parks. Specators will have to pay more for admission'.


Elsewhere it has a stirring article on a European super-league. 'There is little doubt there will one day be a European league, though it will take time and their will be squabbles and arguments before it gets going. The men who run football in this country try to resist changes because they like to hold on to what they know. They fear their personal power would diminish if an internationa league was the top competition. In such a league would be Inter, Junvetus, the Racing Club and Rheims from France, Benfica from Portugal, Dukla Prague from Czechoslovakia, Barcelona and Real Madrid from Spain, Rangers from Scotland, Honved from Hungary, Hamburg SV from Germany and...'

Prepare yourselves...

'Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley From England'.

Tottenham? Burnley?

It goes on, 'international club football will then be played every weekend in the big cities. Fancy going along to see Rangers v Roma? Or Burnley v Benfica? Or Spurs v Real Madrid! You can't keep putting people off with second-rate soccer, and one the British public see players like those at Real Madrid they'll say 'That's the sort of football I want to see'.

Finally, there's a nice fictional story about a game between the boys of the 'Old Village' and those from the 'New Estate'. I'll spare you the details but leave you with this amusing passage,

"Ever since the New Estate had been built and tenants from London has moved in, there had been considerable rivalry. The new housing estate was resented because it encroached on valuable farming land; the new arrivals were resented because they were 'different'. Country peace had been disturbed.

'If we win [a soccer game] instead of those intruders', said one of the farmers, 'we'll shoot them in the back and be a hero to the Daily Mail'...sorry that bit was wrong, 'perhaps the sports ground could be used for an agricultural fair once a year',

'After all if they win', contribued somebody, 'they'll have one of those new-fangled clubhouses with a coffee bar''.

So there you go -- imposters from London, on an estate, trying to impose coffee bars on the good old rural Englishman.

Nice...

I haven't linked to this charming joke Steven Den Beste made about September 11th for a long time.
What a guy!

How bad are they?

One has to wonder how bad the US armed forces are. The latest opinion poll from Baghdad shows that 47% of Iraq's believe their country is worse off than it was before the US invasion, compared with ony 33% who think it is better off.

The poll does show that 67% believe the country will be better in 5 year's time, but really - if a superpower can't do better than the Baath party in five years, what is it doing there at all?

Splendid

Courtesy of Pogo via Nick Barlow, I bring you The Wit and Wisdom of Iain Duncan Smith, when he was a bright young thing...

His knowledge of his own front bench
PAXMAN:
So when we read that quote, "it's pretty obvious there have really, really been dark forces at work taking advantage of his absence", do you recognise the simply bogus quote?

DUNCAN SMITH:
I recognise the beastly novels that you may ever want to read, which is, and I don't want to be frightfully mean, just too bogus! Dash me twice, it sounds like a frightfully beastly novel. Ugh, how uncouth!

PAXMAN:
It's the blasted Shadow Leader of the frightful House, your man Eric Forth. Rather!

His grasp of the media

DUNCAN SMITH:
I shouldn't believe everything you read. Twaddle! Dear me, i'm telling you now, the truth is simply...

PAXMAN:
Have I misquoted Eric Forth?

DUNCAN SMITH:
I don't read that nonsense .

PAXMAN:
You don't read the Financial Times?

DUNCAN SMITH:
I don't read nonsense like that...

PAXMAN:
What papers do you read?


HIs knowledge of mid 1990s British political history

DUNCAN SMITH:
John Major and the PM had talked about bringing it to the spiffing middle 30s and I declared that may be a simply unbearable splendid objective. Good heavens!

His ability to change his mind

PAXMAN:
You are completely prepared to countenance British people paying to see their GP?

DUNCAN SMITH:
No, I am not, which is just too bogus! Dear me, i will look at the blasted arguments and I will discount them if they don't work. Good heavens!

PAXMAN:
So you are frightfully looking at this?

DUNCAN SMITH:
Of course I've declared I'm looking at it!

----

PAXMAN:
Utterly on the priceless question of GPs, to be clear spiffingly on this, you are dreadfully considering whether or not people ought to pay to see a frightfully horrid GP?

DUNCAN SMITH:
No, I am not considering whether people ought to see whether they should pay for their GPs. Marvellous!

PAXMAN:
You just declared you were working out whether it was frightfully a splendid idea or not?

DUNCAN SMITH:
What I declared was fabulously, we will look at all the simply dandy possibilities there are jolly well for reform. Ghastly, let me tell you.

PAXMAN:
So you are so very, very, very considering it?

DUNCAN SMITH:
I am not considering doing it, but looking at what is dreadfully viable .