Friday, December 17, 2004

Blair government gives two fingers to the constitution

Hey, it was predictable, right? The Lords is only the highest court in the land - why the hell should the government listen to them when they vote 8 to 1 that the detention without charge of terror suspects is illegal? And who's this Lord Hoffman chap to tell them that "The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these"?

After all, until we introduce a supreme court the Law Lords are not democratic because of some guff they always spout about separation of powers. I mean, so what if the Cabinet sits within the legislature and so, by the same logic the government uses to discredit the Law Lords, has no right to say anything?

We're talking about TERRORISM here, people. This is a TIME OF CRISIS. It's no time for petty legal wrangling. WE COULD ALL BE KILLED IN A MASSIVE EXPLOSION OR THROUGH EVIL BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS AND STUFF AT ANY MOMENT. Are you really going to allow some old man in a wig tell you that nice, smiling Tony is wrong? Hey - your super, soaraway Sun (and that lovely Mr Murdoch) agrees with Tony, and WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE TO TAKE A CONTRARY VIEW, EH?

Hey, look, that nice Mr Clarke says that these so-called judges are wrong, and so does that lovely Mr Straw, so they must be. He seems to agree with that nice Mr Blukett about these sort of airy fairy, libertarian nonsense being almost as dangerous as the TERRORISTS CHARGING AT US OUT OF THE SKY ARMED WITH LOTS OF BOMBS!

Nosemonkey would like to make clear that he fully supports the Blair government in every single decision that it ever makes, and will never dare dissent in any way, shape or form, as it is abundantly clear that that would simply aid the TERRORISTS WITH THEIR BOMBS.


(Nosemonkey is hungover and really quite incredibly filled with rage)

Edit: Oh, and nominate me - you know it makes sense. If you don't you're only supporting the terrorists.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Blunkett - the aftermath

Manic at Bloggerheads reads the Sun so I don't have to. Today's topless lovely is sad to see Blunkett go. Poor love.

Meanwhile, DoctorVee has a round-up of last night's immediate responses from the Bloggosphere - sadly including mine before I noticed that in cutting and pasting I'd lopped off the end of a sentence - something Blunkett would never do (boom boom!).

However, initial hopes of an end to the ID card madness have been shattered. I sort of knew that they'd still go ahead with it, but still... I rather hoped some sense would be seen.

Then again, Charles Clarke is the man who, as Education Secretary, seemed to miss the entire point of higher education when he said "I don't mind there being some medievalists around for ornamental purposes, but there is no reason for the state to pay for them".

Coming soon from Home Secretary Clarke: "I don't mind there being some civil liberties around for ornamental purposes, but there is no reason for the state to protect them".

On the day that the Law Lords are due to rule whether the government's suspension of habeas corpus for "terror suspects" at Wandsworth prison (dubbed "Britain's Guantanamo") is actually legal, Blair hardly looks like he's trying to appease those of his critics who see the growing power of the state to keep tabs on its citizens and imprison them at will as a move towards a police state.

But hey - it's the terrorists who hate freedom, right?

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A note on the blogroll, if anyone cares

Loosely inspired by DoctorVee, I've had a bit of a re-organisation of the links to the left hand side, and added some new ones. I think of my blogroll as bookmarks as much as anything, as I blog from several different computers - they are there to help me find things quickly as much as to point out decent sites to people who have the misfortune of stumbling upon my own.

I will be adding more links over the next few weeks, and then some may disappear as I decide whether or not they are places I am likely to want to visit regularly. This isn't necessarily a judgement on their quality, it's just I've seen way too many blogs with nonsensical lists of sites which go on for ever and lose all meaning, and mine is already beginning to get out of control. Regular pruning is necessary. If you want a vast list, go here.

Again, if you feel I am missing any good links, let me know. I'm still hunting around, and have frequently forgotten to take note of some good sites I've found. At the moment, all those listed have got something interesting to contribute - I disagree with many, but interest and provocation value is the order of the day. If sites stop provoking any kind of reaction, they'll go simply to save space. It's not meant as an insult.

Oh, and I've also added "non-partisan" into the strapline of this blog, because I am. It sometimes seems this needs to be made clear, as various fellow bloggers have confused me for being a supporter of pretty much every party going over the last few months. I support none - just policies and (occasionally) individual candidates.

Absolutely no one cares at all about this post, do they?

Blunkett has quit - about bloody time

The power of modern communications proved his undoing.

Now personally I couldn't care less whether any of this having an affair, trying to break up a family, using the Metropolitan Police as bodyguards for his mistress, abusing his expenses to buy her train tickets, or getting a nanny a visa business affected his job or was overly dodgy.

What I care about is the fact that he has been one of the most viciously, unpleasantly intrusive Home Secretaries we've had for a fair while. He almost made Michael Howard look nice. I don't care why he's gone, I'm just glad he has.

Now, as long as Labour can scrap his pet ID card project, the future's looking a little less bleak in this country.

David Blunkett - worthy of great respect for his achievements in the face of adversity, but worthy only of contempt for the policies he has brought in and was striving to see brought into law.

Update: Bugger. As expected, the Home Office has gone to Charles Clarke, who also strongly believes in ID cards. Ho-hum...

Update 2: Having just seen Blunkett's interview with Andrew Marr on the BBC's 10 o'clock news, I feel genuinely sorry for the guy. I am convinced he's genuinely upset.

But I'm still glad he's gone. Not that he will be for long - his mistakes were minor compared to those of Peter Mandelson's, and Mandy's come back from the dead more times than a bloody phoenix. Give it two years at most, Blunkett will be back in the cabinet - as long as Brown isn't PM by then, obviously...

And they say economics is boring...

Overseas investment in Britain has plummeted. So is this the fault of the EU, of Britain for not joining the Eurozone, of Labour's tax and workforce policies, of the high cost of UK labour, or is it just because the global economy's a bit screwy at the moment? Either way, overseas companies invested a total of just £12.4bn in the UK last year, down from £16bn in 2002 and the lowest since 1994.

Part of this was due to a 50% fall in European Union investments, a fact which will certainly be picked up on by the anti-EU camp as a further indication that Britain doesn't need Europe, and that European trading is a minor part of the UK economy.

Meanwhile, US investment in the UK increased (which considering our government's continued blind support for the Bush administration is only fair, let's face it), despite overall US overseas investment continuing to decline.

So the anti-EU lot will also jump on this to show that our future lies with our cousins across the Atlantic, rather than those over the Channel. This is despite the fact EU companies still invest more than twice that of American ones in the UK. And, of course, these are the figures from 2003 - before the US dollar got into its current trouble, so American investment is likely to have dropped again once the 2004 figures are released.

How, then, to explain this decline in investment? Well, my gut feeling is that a likely cause of the decline in EU interest is that we have kept out of the Eurozone, but to be honest it's rather hard to tell. For starters, I'm no economics expert, and secondly it's important to remember that 2003 was an incredibly uncertain year - what with various disease epidemics all over the shop, wars being fought and the like.

If this is the start of a trend, it's a worrying one. But because of last year's uncertainties I'd say we should probably take this as an abberation.

And in any case, if the US dollar continues its decline, the UK is set to lose out far more than simply from a drop in investment from our European partners. Much as in the 1920s, America has its financial finger in a lot of investment pies around the world - and we all know what happened when the US economy went tits-up then.

With Bush in the White House for another four years, who's to say what will happen - but his first term hardly gave very encouraging signs for an American economic boom... We could be in trouble, and if the trouble stems from the US then no amount of Gordon Brown "fiscal responsibility" will be able to get us out of this one.

"Politically incorrect, xenophobic, racist and who knows what else"

Nope, not the usual UKIP suspects, but - supposedly - European politicians' real reactions to the proposed Turkish accession to the EU:

Even after 40 years of attempts to get closer, Brussels and Ankara are still strangers. That could be due to the fact that many correspondents don't know Turkey and the Turks from first-hand experience. For many Germans, the image of Turkey is still dominated by their experience of Turkish immigrants, many of whom came from rural areas of Anatolia with limited education and a tendency to stick closely to their own cultural circles.

Even for those in Brussels who've actually been to Turkey, the image doesn't improve much, often limited to the stereotype of gold-chained rip-off artist who preys on tourists in resort hotels.

Few know much about Turkey's up-and-coming business elite, the new hipsters with money to burn, the students in Istanbul's trendy neighborhoods or the successful businessman, who exports his products throughout the world.

Add to all that a hysterical fear of an emergent, "dangerous" Islam, and the picture loses any semblance of truth.
There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about possible Turkish membership, which is why the debates will be heated, but this sort of silly attitude is the most counter-productive it's possible to take.

I mean yes, obviously Turkey has some major social problems (a friend of mine was robbed, stabbed and left for dead by a taxi driver when on holiday there), but shouldn't the real fears be about the suddenly massively-extended border, which would be touching on a number of unstable, supposedly terrorist-supporting states? Shouldn't we be worried about the state-sponsored torture and human rights abuses? Shouldn't the real concern be the Turkish economy?

If we're going to start attacking countries because of national stereotypes and the experiences we had on holiday, why the hell is mafia-dominated Italy part of the EU, zooming around on their scooters? Why have we allowed the militaristic Germans in with their tendency to put their towels on the best seats by the pool? What about the new states of Eastern Europe, packed full of wideboy cowboy builders in shell suits? What about Greece, riven with corruption, and where sweet, innocent English girls are raped every summer in their resorts? How about Britain, with her snobby, holier-than-thou attitude, rising teenage pregnancy levels, and soaring gun crime?

This sort of thing is bad enough when it comes from the Daily Mail, but if this kind ignorant petty-mindedness can't be overcome, there will be little hope of sorting out the on-going social problems withing the EU, let alone those outside its borders. Turkey blatantly isn't ready to join the EU yet, but for reasons of economics, human rights and security, not because Turkish people are a bit dodgy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

BNP leader arrested

On suspicion of incitement to racial hatred.

Coming soon: Murderer arrested on suspicion of killing someone, Rapist arrested on suspicion of having sex with someone against their will etc. etc.

Oh, sorry, I forgot. The BNP aren't racist anymore, are they?

If you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to fear

Can someone please explain to me how the Conservative party's backing for ID cards can be tallied with their claims that they want to cut back on "nanny state" big government, save money, and their age-old ideology of promoting individual rights and responsibilities?

Can someone also please explain to me precisely how the Tories, who now back Labour's two most divisive and unpopular policies in both the Iraq war and the intrusion of biometric ID, think that blindly following the government is the duty of an opposition party?

And finally, can anyone explain to me why they might be worth my vote?

More on this, perhaps, later.

Update: John at The England Project is keeping a tally of previously pro-Tory bloggers who will no longer support the party because of this policy. Are you one? Let him know.

Update 2: Howard's bollocked it up good and proper with this one - even Conservative parliamentary candidates are pissed off.

Time to start thinking who next again, methinks...

Monday, December 13, 2004

"A totalitarian foreign power which, with the help of Quislings in Westminster, intends to take over our country"

Superb stuff via Martin Stabe:

Pub landlord in EU flag row

With a heading like that, and armed with the perennial assumption that pubs are often home to rather more "traditionalist" (to put it nicely) views on national life, you'd probaby expect the landlord to be the one objecting to the flag. But no. Instead it is the landlord who is being fined - yes, fined - by Worthing Borough Council for flying the EU flag outside his premises.

The quote heading this post in fact comes from the chap who complained to the Council about the "foul emblem", which apparently offends him when he has to walk past it. The same chap who had a letter published in a UKIP newsletter in February this year in which he claimed that "if we... surrender our constitution by adopting an EU version our children may have to fight a civil war to get back the constitution which is rightfully theirs". He's certainly got a flair for the melodramatic, if not a very strong grasp on reality. Just because he finds the idea of the EU offensive, does that mean no one else should be able to fly the flag? Personally I find the UKIP pretty offensive, but I'll still defend their right to spout their nonsense.

But the silliness of the complaint is not the issue. Where are the Council coming from with their decision to fine the landlord, rather than tell the author of this bizarre complaint precisely where to go?

Well, a Council spokesman justifies the fine thusly: "The EU flag is not a national flag and thereby falls within the same category as any advertising-type flag. These require advertising consent from the council."

So there we have it - the EU is not a state - OFFICIAL. Does this mean that every building in the land which flies the circle of stars should be fined, or will Worthing's frankly bizarre (if, technically, perhaps correct) interpretation be swiftly overturned on appeal? Either way, methinks that the EU itself should probably have something to say on this - the precedent and implications could prove somewhat problematic if the decision is upheld.

There could also be implications for the forthcoming election campaign - if an EU flag is political advertising, and so the council should receive a payment, what about those posters for individual candidates which pop up outside houses across the land in the run up to a vote? Will individual homeowners have to fork out cash for the right to state their political opinions, or will it only take one person who disagrees with them to make a complaint for them to be fined, as has happened here?

Very, very silly at first glance, but worryingly so if you start thinking about it too much. The anti-EU lot will probably have a field day once they pick up on this... So, having helped highlight it - enjoy yourselves, guys.

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