Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Land Song

I have always had some sympathy with Land taxers. I know -it is like confessing that you are a Chartist or supporter of some other High Victorian worthy cause like the Temperance Movement. However, as we examine the facts about land ownership in the UK, I can not help feeling that Land Use has become a massive problem. As you fly over the UK, it is fairly easy to see that urban development is a very small percentage of land use. While I for one am not in favour of unrestricted development, I am also not in favour of building homes in places where it is dangerous to do so- like flood plains. Yet more and more we are doing just that. Meanwhile the large majority of land in the country remains under the ownership of the same families, in some cases for centuries. Since the Landed Estates are structured as trusts and their legal ownership (as opposed to the beneficial ownership) does not change over the generations, there is a large percentage of our country where land title is not even registered and where it is extremely difficult to find out who actually controls it. This lack of transparency is at the root of a highly rigged market.

Instead of a sensible debate about development, the question quickly becomes an emotional appeal to people to oppose the "threat to the countryside". Frankly, the planning laws are a gift to NIMBY-ism: they are neither clear nor applied evenly. However, what concerns me is that many of the most prominent "defenders of the countryside" are not acting to do anything more than to defend their own narrow interests. It is therefore hard to take the braying privileged seriously in their "love of the countryside" until they can disclose what their financial interest in that countryside actually is. All land, not just that which is bought and sold, must now be registered and the title to it revealed- then perhaps we can see a little more clearly those who talk about green issues from the perspective of financial gain and those who genuinely understand that NIMBY-ism and Green issues are not the same thing.

In short we have an entirely rigged market in land- and it is driving up the cost base of the UK in economically dangerous ways. Land ownership is not transparent, the economic benefit of land ownership, which is now substantial, is not taxed at any level, while Labour and Capital are taxed severely. The high cost of land forces people into smaller and more expensive places- making the cost of housing in the UK one of the highest in the world. But meanwhile, the suggested benefit from a more empty rural environment is more than matched by a decline in the quality of urban living- not precisely a green benefit either. John Prescott now proposes high density development in risky areas like the Thames Gateway- we must after all "protect the Countryside"- but hang on, it is our failure to permit smaller, less dense development, in villages that has undermined the economic viability of many a country shop or pub- and made rural life in turn less attractive. What I suggest is that we now have a full debate about Land Use- with full disclosure of who is getting the economic benefits. Arguably a more diverse land use pattern would create more balanced cash flows for British farmers, and reduce the need for monoculture in agriculture that is one of the least green aspects of British land use. The distorted pattern of land use coupled with the rigged development market is a growing economic problem- perhaps we really should examine the case for switching the burden of taxation from Capital and Labour and think more about whether a Land tax truly makes sense.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Under watchful eyes

After the embarrassment of CK's downfall and the further embarrassment of Mark Oaten, Simon Hughes' little display of hypocrisy is making me feel murderous thoughts about the Liberal Democrats' Parliamentary party. The purpose of this election was to heal, and if Simon truly believes that he is a healing figure then he is frankly deluded. His stupefying ineptness with the media marks him out as one to avoid- after what has happened in recent weeks, he still chose to bluff his way though- that is to lie, even when he must have been aware that a tabloid expose could not be far away. I will not even give Simon a preference, and he should reconsider his position. As far as I am concerned, this contest is between Chris Huhne and Ming Campbell- I have already pledged my support for Ming, I would be content with Chris- I would be appalled if Simon comes anywhere close.

What particularly makes my blood boil is that this truly is a battle about scrutiny: not the tabloid scrutiny of the pathetic sexual shenanigans of politicians; the real battle about government and who controls it. I am currently back in Tallinn the -rather cold and snowy- capital of Estonia. I will be meeting with various members of the government here. Interestingly, there is almost complete transparency over government decisions here: the meetings of the cabinet are broadcast on the internet, including the agenda and supporting papers- the only time this rule of openness is broken is the exception of defence ministry matters. The Estonian population can scrutinize in detail their government and hold them to account accordingly.

By contrast, I see this morning that the United Kingdom now has the most scrutinized roads in the world- with CC TV coverage becoming universal. In my opinion this is foolish and potentially dangerous. The revelation that DNA samples from thousands of innocent individuals had been kept on file is frankly sinister. With the prospect of the expensive and badly thought out ID card system becoming compulsory, can I be the only one to think that the government authorities in Britain are overstepping the line? The increasing intrusion of government into people's lives is as unwelcome as it is unnecessary. I do not admit that the open-ended and vague "War on Terror" is a sufficient excuse to erode the liberties of a nation. It is the state that serves the people and not the other way round. At a time when the farcial freedom of information act still does not us to know some of the most basic information about our own country, it is not acceptable for the government to posses, let alone use, detailed personal information. As far as road traffic is concerned, well since so few people intend to keep the 70 mph motorway speed limit, it should either be raised or scrapped and replaced with higher fines for dangerous driving (in which case a judgment of what is excessive speed can be made by the court). The Rule of Law should be obeyed, but laws that few people obey are not worth keeping. Or are we now to have a DNA database for those dangerous criminals that drive at 80 on the M1? The people should be scrutinizing the government; the government should have few, if any rights to spy on its employers- the people.

These are the issues of scrutiny and accountability that should be at the forefront of the Liberal debate- not the fact that Simon Hughes is a "Tommy Two-Ways" and made the lie direct about it. However the puerile British Press could rake over old sex scandals until the last of our ancient liberties was finally denied us by an unaccountable and remote state. Hughes knew the rules- he failed us and he should not take this forward any further.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


The media have obviously decided that "the story" is the fall of the Liberal Democrats. So, we are going to have to put up with endless stories of minor defections and alleged "crises" for some time to come. However, I think that we should be looking beyond this rather purple patch.

I do not believe that David Cameron, even if he is able to become Prime Minister, will be an effective, let alone a Liberal (or even liberal), leader. He will be more attractive than his predecessors, who were mostly awful: Major, Hague, DFS and Dracula. In such company of course DC looks better. He may well get his party together and even win. However this is just the pendulum of politics. What Liberal Democrats must do now is to distill Liberal principles into a coherent programme for government.

The Labour government has shown that over government and micro management is not the answer. Liberal Democrats must show why local control and smaller government is more efficient. All DC offers (openly at least) is the same but better managed. Liberal Democrats must offer a genuinely radical policy mix.

After careful thought I have decided to support Menzies Campbell's campaign. After the shocks of the past few weeks, in any event I might have favoured a period of stability and reflection while we hone our policies and develop our front bencher team. However, the fact is that Ming offers a collegiate and genuinely Liberal approach to leadership. Under his leadership, I believe that our next generation have a chance to shine. He is disciplined and focused and actually looks like a Prime Minister. He is the leader who our political opponents most fear. I respect both Simon Hughes and Christopher Huhne but I believe that Campbell offers us the best chance to gain the keys to the kingdom and will be voting accordingly.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The gaity of nations

I know, I know, we are supposed to be very po-faced about sordid sex scandals. Nevertheless, the fact is they are just great fun... that is why our down market rags are so full of them.

The Brits adore the lovely juicy details (and who cares whether its is true that David Mellor wore his Chelsea strip when "frolicking" with Antonia da Sancha or not?). These things run to a formula- the hard faced journalist teasing out the details from the young ingenue (or rent boy), doubtless under the baleful eye of Max Clifford. The paper then making the absurd and utterly unjustified claim of "the public have a right to know" followed by the complete embarrassment and shame of the protagonist- mostly utterly deserved. There then follows the tearful and shocked family- whose lives, of course, will never be the same again.

Well, after Aitken and the whips, Archer and the spotty back, Major and Edwina Currie, Harvey Proctor and the rent boys, Piers Merchant and the poetry and all the other delightful and frankly hilarious comic book downfalls of the Tories, the Lib Dems have a proper sex scandal of our very own. So what? The rent boy and Max Clifford have taken their cut, Mark Oaten has been well and truly mugged and he and his wife now have to try to pick up the pieces. Sure, it is not a victimless crime, but Oaten knew he had been recognized and yet still stood as leader. "Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad".

I expect that the tabloids will now stake out the Lib Dems as much as they can, thinking that the actions of the inadequate render the party somehow unelectable. What rubbish! The Daily Telegraph this morning was a study in sanctimonious drivel. The fact is that most of us love these scandals, but we all of us know that in the cold light of day there are very few people who would like to confess every desire that they have ever acted on, let alone ever felt. The whole business of sex is coupled with the most basic emotions, including shame. OK, so crapping on a rent boy is fairly, shall we say, outre, but we love these scandals not because they are really so very shocking, but because must of us recognize that there are things in ourselves that we may not care to have splashed all over the News of the World. This is why we love the juicy details- even the great and good are not so very good. Perhaps too, in our heart of hearts, we think, well whatever shame we may have felt, he- and it usually is a he- must feel worse, and we take some comfort from that.

So the embarrassed discomfiture of Mark Oaten has briefly added to the gaity of the nation- but the po-faced hypocrites who think that this has anything to do with the Liberal Democrats should really get out a bit more. Ideas are stronger things than the all too human failings of the flesh, and our ideas are stronger than Mr. Cameron's or Mr. Brown's.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

When and not if

As Alan Greenspan finally leaves the US Federal Reserve, it is hard not to feel that some fundamental economic realities are changing across the world. The continuing economic imbalances in the US economy are not fully understood, but the scale of military expenditure that "big government Conservatism" implies can not be sustainable over the long term. George W. Bush is driving his country into some serious economic problems- can a US retrenchment be long avoided? And what does that mean for the wider world?

In Britain, the failure of yet another PFI- the new St. Barts hospital project- confirms the strain on public finances that seems more evident every week. As the United Kingdom overtakes Germany in the percentage of economic activity devoted to taxation, an air of gloom is settling over the UK Treasury. The economic forecasts so confidently put forward by Gordon Brown are about to be trashed from all sides. The Labour government will finally have to make some genuinely "tough choices": what expenditure programmes must they cut? British public finances no longer obey any kind of golden rule and unless there is a radical change in policy, then Britain too has run out of room for maneuver.

Worse may be yet to come, according to Houseprice crash.co.uk - click on link above. The persistent house price inflation of the last decade has probably come to an end, and may well now go into reverse. The ratio of house prices:average earnings has now reached an historic high. There are two schools as to what may happen next. The first is that the market has undergone a fundamental shift and will now settle, but that owning a house will not be as universal as it has been over the past thirty years. The pattern of most of the twentieth century included a large rental market, both private and social- council- housing and this more mixed market will now return. The alternative is that the prolonged boom will be followed by a sharp and dramatic bust, as took place in the early 1990s. The chances are probably higher for the second than the first, but in any event the growing insecurity of the housing market should certainly give pause for thought.

Given the various bear signals, it is hard not to conclude that "events" are about to move beyond the ability of even this government to spin them. Even the rumoured return of the much feared Alistair Campbell will avail Labour nothing if the growing pressures in the energy market finally force an economic down-draft upon the spendthrift American economy. Britain too is potentially on the bring of being forced into a government retrenchment that may be as protracted as it would be painful. Yet the policy mix on offer from the Tories is certainly not the radical Liberal approach that could reduce the role and cost of the state. Clearly ,the Liberal Democrats too will have to revisit their whole approach to the economy in the face of a major shift in economic fundamentals. That we should cap the size of the state is not in question, where we should cap it clearly is in question.

More to the point, the very basis of improved global prosperity over the past decade- freer trade- may now come under threat. The growing protectionism in Latin America may yet spread, and should the USA succumb to this false hope of "protection" the consequence could be a return to the beggar thy neighbour policies of the 1930s.

We face major threats- global financial instability, the stalling of the housing market in the UK, the consequences of profligate government expenditure, protectionism. Some may say I am being alarmist, that in fact we can handle these problems. My reply is that we should not underestimate the utter foolishness of our political class- as today's sordid and ludicrous revelations about Mark Oaten underline- I do not see leaders with economic understanding and vision. As that controversial classicist, J. Enoch Powell once said: "History is littered with wars which everybody knew would never happen."

In the face of a more uncertain future, the temptation is to vote for Menzies Campbell as the new leader of the Liberal Democrats. However, having rejected Simon Hughes, I am more intrigued than ever about Chris Huhne's ideas. Between those two candidates, I now slightly favour the more literate economist- as indeed does "The Economist", I hear from friends.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Cicero has yet to come to a final conclusion about the Liberal Democrat leadership contest. It is a shame that Mark Oaten was such an uninspiring figurehead for the so-called "right" of the party. There is a case for "tough liberalism", that is to say that not everyone gets prizes in our society, but Mark did not make such a case with particular conviction. He was also mistaken on the smoking issue- the reason for regulation of smokers is the damage that they do to others through secondary smoking, not the damage that they do to themselves which, higher healthcare costs aside, is not a concern of the state. So all in all his campaign began in confusion: the cringe-making response to Andrew Neil's charge: "Four words: unlimited ambition, limited ability"- Oaten: "That's not four words" ,is best put behind us. I therefore welcome his sensible decision to withdraw.

Simon Hughes, the supposed standard bearer of the "left", has been suprisingly good at articulating the Liberal vision: that there are things that the state should not do, indeed must not be allowed to do. However I have two concerns, one of perception and one of reality. Firstly voting for Simon will be portrayed as a "move to the left"- although even if Simon actually is more of a social liberal, I detect only a question of emphasis rather than fundamental changes compared to the current regime. Yet I do think that perception is everything, and I am reluctant to take this risk at a time when British politics is so fluid. More fundamentally Simon struggles to articulate, in an effective and pithy way, his vision. This suggests disorganization, and the comment that I heard at a Liberal Democrat gathering last night: "Simon would miss more meetings sober, than Charles did drunk" may not be too wide of the mark. It is certainly noticeable that his Parliamentary colleagues have been less enthusiastic about a Hughes leadership than one might have imagined that they would be.

The candidature of Chris Huhne I do find interesting. His undoubted intellect and experience have marked him out as a potential star for some time. Despite his weaker Parliamentary majority, he is clearly respected by many who are close to him, and I appreciate his strong grasp of key issues. The fact that he has chosen the environment to be the ground to lay out some genuinely radical ideas is also both bold and appealing. However, as I have examined his ideas more closely I find that, while his diagnosis of the problems of the environment is substantive, I am nervous about his solutions. I am by no means convinced that the solution to pollution is taxation. The majority of the press in any event characterize the Liberal Democrats as a high tax party, even though this is not true, since we have indicated that we intend to cap the proportion of National Income that is due to the State. However, I would have preferred to see such ideas as carbon trading and polluter fees brought more to the fore in the mix of policies-taxation may not be the most effective way to control the undeniable problem.

Menzies Campbell remains the man to beat. To a certain extent I regard his age as a positive. Firstly he has considerable hinterland- he is not a kid politician and has achieved many things in life away from politics. As far as image is concerned he is certainly credible as a future Prime Minister, especially when one considers that many of our great Prime Ministers, Churchill and Gladstone to name but two, were even older when in office and at the height of their careers. I like the idea of experienced gravitas showing up the callow weaknesses of "Comrade Cameron's Conservatives". Nonetheless, I still have some qualms about his political agenda. His support for "the project" in the mid 1990's was a sensible strategic positioning at the time, but the failure of Labour at both Westminster and Holyrood gives us some clear lessons- I would like to hear Ming articulate what these are.

I retain an open mind and am optimistic about the way that the debate is going. What the press seem to forget is that whether "social" or "economic"- which in any event I do not regard as mutually exclusive- we are all "political" Liberals, and far more unites us than could ever divide us.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


On 18th January 1943 Jewish Prisoners in the Warsaw ghetto made the first organized resistance to their treatment by the Nazi occupiers of Poland. Armed civilians fought against the second expulsion of Jews to the camps. Already the Nazis had created Treblinka, Auschwitz, Majdanek and Sobibor. The previous concentration of over 380,000 Jews into the cramped confines of the walled ghetto had already weakened and killed many through disease. The four day resistance, though it surprised the Germans considerably and delayed the expulsion, did not ultimately prevent the dreadful ovens at Treblinka from receiving their victims. The heroism in the subsequent Warsaw ghetto uprising, that lasted over much of the summer of 1943 only put off the appointment with the clanking cattle trucks.

It pays to think about what we have lost. The enormous resource of culture and intellect that much of European Jewry represented can be seen in Jakob Bronowksi. His humane and thoughtful insights on the human condition in "The Ascent of Man" were, for many people in Britain, the first introduction to the consolations of philosophy and a great landmark in television history. Bronowski was born in Lodz, just a short distance from Warsaw. It is sobering to think that on his 35th Birthday, also 18th January, Jakob Bronowski's co-religionists in Poland began the fateful struggle to resist annihilation. Only by chance did he himself survive, and escape the horror of ghetto, camp and furnace that awaited the majority of that remarkable group -European Jews- the Ashkanazkim.

When the President of Iran speaks as a holocaust denier- we should not be silent.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Liberalism and Liberty

As the Liberal Democrat leadership race gathers pace, much is being written on the subject of what Liberalism is. It was encouraging to hear J.S. Mill being quoted by at least one of the candidates. Even more encouraging to hear the beginning of a sensible argument. The key for Liberal Democrats will be to articulate the point that there is a strict limit as to where the boundaries of government should lie. All Liberal Democrats deprecate the intrusion on our civil liberties that the so-called "war on terror" is creating. The constant slew of regulation and legislation being passed at an ever increasing rate is an example of the "something must be done" mentality. Liberal Democrats should not give in to this regulatory temptation.

I will be casting my vote for the candidate that articulates this Liberal vision with the greatest clarity:

"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant" John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

Saturday, January 14, 2006

World View

"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a time of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality." -- Dante, The Inferno

January seems to be the time of year when journalists catch up with strategic changes in the world. Much has been written in the first two weeks of the year on certain ideas that are themes of the blog.

The Wall Street Journal this week has a front page lead on the growing challenge of Russia. The breakdown of the rule of law and the corruption of the Putin regime are things that exercised Cicero for some time. Meanwhile, the growing strength of China is attracting attention too. The People's Republic of China (sic) will probably overtake The United Kingdom as the world's fourth largest economy during the course of 2006. The almost unlimited demand for global resources that a resurgent PRC requires represents the biggest environmental challenge facing the planet at this time.

Politically the rise of authoritarian states within the international system represents a huge challenge to the West. The Chinese continue to maintain the full panoply of the Police state- the slave camps of the "Reeducation through Labour" -Laogai- system continue to provide a significant contribution to the Chinese economy, dominated as it is by the army and security services. Russia, restricting the rights of any group that is independent on the Putin clique, may prove to be an increasingly willing partner in a coalition of the authoritarian.

Yet in challenging this growing authoritarian axis, the West increasingly faces the consequences of its own compromises. The egregious corruption of Burlesconi, Chirac and Schroder, not to mention the scandals that may yet reach even higher in Washington, are undercutting the moral force of Western Democracy. The prosecution of an illegal war in Iraq, makes it even harder to criticise the authoritarian axis. Thus it is the leaders of the West themselves who are destroying our economic and political security. As further challenges emerge from across Asia, and perhaps in the future from Brazil, the increasing weakness of the West- demographically, then economically and politically, will undermine our own security. If we are dependent on Russian resources and Chinese manufacturing, at what point will our energy supplies be curtailed- like Ukraine- should we choose to disagree with the regime of a KGB colonel?

Thus I return to the primary question- our leaders must show integrity above all- and the shallow compromises that our system seems to force upon our political leaders undermines the moral authority of our system. In the TV adaptation of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" John Le Carre (and Arthur Hopcraft) allows the villain, Bill Haydon, some of the best lines:
"Do you know what is killing Western democracy, George?" "Greed! Greed and constipation, moral, political, ascetic".

The Roman Republic allowed its leaders to be corrupt. The decline of the Republic into decadence, brutality and tyranny rapidly followed. Almost 200 years ago Wendell Phillips said "Eternal vigilance is the Price of Liberty". As I survey the international scene in early 2006, I see challenges to democracy and Liberal values that are stronger than ever. Internally our political systems are being undermined by corruption and greed, externally we remain beset by Communist China and authoritarian Russia. Our social fabric has eroded during our years of comfort. Now the pensions shortfall threatens the prosperity of future generations. Our education levels and awareness of the rest of the world are no longer as strong as the explosion of education in Asia releases a whole generation there from poverty and ignorance.

Politics is not a branch of celebrity culture- if we choose a leader for their good looks instead of their integrity, then we have become a decadent society. Cicero will be watching the Liberal Democrat leadership race with more than passing interest. I want to hear a call to arms on fundamental challenges, I sense that time is running out for our whole system of democratic values unless we can re-energize and re-engage all members of our society:

"God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it." -- Daniel Webster

Monday, January 09, 2006

Thinking On...

No Liberal Democrat can have enjoyed the spectacle of Charles Kennedy's removal. As is often the way, few things became his leadership like the leaving of it: dignified, thoughtful, calm. This contrasted with the rather brutal manner of his defenestration- yet it underlines that Lib Dems are "in it to win it"- and perhaps this might give some of our political opponents some pause in their ill disguised gloating.

The question now is going to be a more open debate about how Liberalism can be advanced. I do not believe that Cameron can continue his attempts to be all things to all men without either alienating many in his party, or making the wider electorate think that he will say anything to be elected. I do believe that the positions of Tory and Labour on a wide range of issues have converged, and that the Liberal ideas of "Peace, Retrenchment and Reform", now mark out a distinctive political voice. The media take on the Liberal policy debates: right-left splits or social vs economic Liberals, misses the point. Political Liberalism provides substantial common ground- localism, political reform, consumer protection, environmental issues, human rights, international law- in huge areas Political Liberalism unites all of the party and is creating a distinctive policy platform. I am excited by the growing intellectual energy of the Liberal Democrats- an energy I do not see at all in any of the alternatives. I relish the coming debates- and I believe that fair minded observers will be pleasantly surprised to see the maturity and breadth of our ideas.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Twelve Steps

I have known Charles Kennedy on and off for more than twenty years. He is a thoughtful political voice in the often unreasonable swirl of British politics. He is charming, graceful and humorous. He has a political toughness that has stood the Liberal Democrats in good stead while he has been the leader of the party- it was largely his work that the Liberal Democrats stuck to their principles over Iraq. However, his problems with alcohol have been an open secret for several years.

The fact of Charles Kennedy admitting to his alcoholism, is of a piece with the man- and it demonstrates his integrity. However, his Parliamentary colleagues have been very concerned for some time that he has not been able to control his illness. It is clear that, if nothing else, British political life is entering a new and more competitive phase. The stakes are very high: Labour looks tired and the Blair-Brown big government approach distinctly past its sell-by date. The Conservatives, despite their shiny new leader, are disorganised, listless in approach and shallow in policy. As for the Liberal Democrats, they are disappointed that further progress did not come in bigger scale in 2005.

Liberal Democrat M.P.s are now ambitious- they will not settle, as a previous generation of Liberals had to do, for influencing policy from the sidelines. Thus the problems of Charles Kennedy must now be addressed. It is extremely reluctantly that I write these words, for I know the tragedy of the man: Mr. Kennedy must leave the leadership now.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Spin cycle

I must admit I listened to David Cameron speaking to Jim Naughtie on the Today Programme with a degree of astonishment. This "compassionate Conservatism" has so many echoes of George W Bush. Yet as far as Cameron is concerned, it just won't wash. This is the man who wrote the most right-wing Tory manifesto in a generation. So either he is serious, and has changed his mind on most of the views he offered to the electorate barely more than six months ago or is not serious and is as cynical a politician as any produced by Labour's spin factory.

If he is serious, then I find myself substantially to the right of the Tories- ironically, considering that they were accusing me of being "well to the left of Labour" at the last election. Nevertheless, I have not changed my principles one jot. The ideas that Cameron is putting forward are so similar to the "But-skillism" of the 1960's- the decade when British economic prowess was nearly fatally undermined. I am more than happy to oppose this flabby and ill disciplined ideology- and I suspect that Liberally minded Tories will feel the same.

If, however, Cameron is merely posing as a centrist, then he should be warned- the electorate are very tired of being "spun"- that is lied to- and the deeply cynical nature of Cameron's gamble will backfire on him. The voters are sick of this kind of unprincipled shallow bullsh*t and in any event are hardly likely to substitute Blue Labour for the real thing.

Comrade Cameron- beware: your cynicism (for such I believe it to be) is as foolish as it is dangerous. The British people are sick of phonies- as you may find out quite soon!