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Showing posts from June, 2007

Renewing the Liberal Democrats

The advent of the Brown Administration places new challenges for the opposition to face. David Cameron, for example, will need to adjust his front bench, to reflect the different portfolios that Brown has created. He will also need to find a considered response to the devastating charges from Quentin Davies, amongst others, that he is not much more than a vacuous light weight.

For the Liberal Democrats, the challenges are, if anything, greater.

Gordon Brown is clearly intending to address some of the major constitutional problems that the UK now faces. I now expect some radical measures, possibly an English Parliament for example, together with some of the measures that the Liberal Democrats have proposed to increase accountability at various levels of government. It will seem- and may even actually be- a concerted move onto territory hiterto considered to be that of the Liberal Democrats. His overtures to the leaders of the party have been deliberate and determined, and for our party t…

Brown Study

After an extended period out of contact (and extremely busy) I return to London to resume the blog. It has been a busy time in the areas in which this blog takes an interest- the issues of freedom, in both an international and a British context.

It is inevitable that I should acknowledge that my country has a new Prime Minister first, and to be honest I heaved a sigh of relief when Mr. Blair left office. His legacy will be examined in great detail over the coming years, but it is hard to avoid noticing how much he wasted. In the domestic field, his lack of understanding of management lead him to a studied informality in decision making that often lead to vast expenditure for virtually nil return. His failure to understand that the skill in reaching targets is not just about setting them was a clear example in his lack of managerial skills. As to foreign policy- his stubborn determination to back up President Bush's catastrophic Iraq fiasco cost the UK much life and much treasure, a…

Biffo Boris blogs blotto

I see Boris lunched rather well before he did today's op-ed piece in the Telegraph. He works himself up into a terrible lather about the fact that Gordon Brown is unelected as Prime Minister- YAWN.

Sorry Boris, two words why our constitution does not care about Gordon Brown becoming PM before he gets his own mandate, and why all your indignation is so much horse feathers:

John Major

Normal Service

Following my return from Albania, I have been focused upon completing a couple of investment transactions, in addition to trying to respond to some of the issues that were raised while I was in the "Land of the Eagle".

There are several things that I will need to address- the challenges facing the New British PM, and the implications of his courting of Paddy Ashdown and Ming Campbell. The latest exit from Russia by investors- in this case Dixon's also raises several questions.

Unfortunately I am now en route to Estonia, so I fear that my detailed thoughts will have to await more time for blogging -maybe next week!

"Thou Savage Nurse of Noble Men"

"O! Land of Albania, thou savage nurse of noble men" was how Byron hailed the place in Childe Harold. For me too I feel I have come, once again to the dark tower. As always the country seems to be very hard work for a visitor- you end up hot, dusty, thirsty and faintly revolted by the poverty, the dirt and bad smells, the gimcrack buildings and the neediness all around you.

Tirana is a crumbling fly blown city which makes Easterhouse look like Paris. It is an increasingly eccentric place- all the crumbling commie buildings are painted lurid colours which, in a strange way, makes the place look a bit like art deco Miami.

Skanderbeg square, the central cross roads of the city, has a quartet of Zogist, faintly Fascist buildings, which, not withstanding their brutal origins, are probably the most harmonious in the city - the other side is dominated by a massive Communist mosaic depicting the triumph of Mother Albania- the full Stalinist works on the front of the Parliament. In th…

The Greatest threat to Freedom?

Although the theme of this blog is about Freedom in the wider sense, the developments in Russia have caused me to focus quite a bit on what I see as the tragic and dangerous state of affairs under the regime of Vladimir Putin.

Lepidus, a regular corespondent on the blog, points me towards a piece by Anatole Kaletsky in today's Times. I like Anatole Kaletsky, who is a sensible and sane writer- and also good company- but I think that his comments rest upon several very Russian misconceptions of what Russia was before Communism and what it has become afterwards.

In order to think about Anatole Kaletsky's argument I think it is necessary to take a small excursion into Russian history.

Although Russia still looks to Kievian Rus as its ancestor state, in fact the political traditions of Moscovy were quite different from the diffuse collection of principalities that proceeded the Tartar conquest. The dramatic expansion of the power of Moscovy rested upon two great victories- the defeat…

Friendly Fire

Cicero does not usually believe in attacking people on his own side. There are very few Lib Dems with whom I have very many profound disagreements. However there is one figure in the party who I am beginning to use as a lodestone:

if he opposes something, it is usually right, if he supports it, it is usually wrong.

It is not only that his opinions tend not to be in accordance with mine, it is also that he usually expresses his views with a degree of intemperance which compounds whichever error he wishes to make.

The latest passionate but mis-aimed missive was a letter in the Independent this morning.

Whatever opinion you have of the State of Israel, signing off with the intemperate lines :"We can hope for a time when Israeli and Palestinian states co-exist peacefully, but for the present, Israel should be regarded as a pariah state practising the same racist policies white South Africa had" is not going to get you much of an audience on the Israeli side.

Step forward Chris Davies…

D- Notice

On the day when Putin decides that it is easier just to point nuclear weapons at Europe, rather than engage in a political debate it may be worth asking some interesting questions about what the UK is doing about the practical threat from Russia:

How many Russian diplomats have been asked to leave London in the past six weeks "for activities incompatible with their diplomatic status"?

How many Russian private citizens have been refused entry to the United Kingdom over the same period on grounds of a threat to UK national security?

How many Russian citizens have had their visa status revoked over the same period?

How many D-notices requesting that such information not be published on grounds of national security were issued over the same period?

CLUE: it is more than none.

Why Britain has a problem with Russia

Spreading "interesting" versions about why they killed Litvinenko- the English word, I believe, is "lies"
Beating Up British Diplomat in Siberia (Oh! You naughty children)
Threats against BP-TNK- the "environmental investigation" was a nicely Stalinist touch for anyone who has actually visited Magnitogorsk
Sending Nashi thugs to break the windows of the British Ambassador's Residence (again)
Illegal overflights of Scotland- We did not lock on with weapons radar- though next time, we may actually fire
Launching an internet war against Estonia from the Kremlin servers- then implausibly denying it was anything to do with Russia
Illegal overflights of Lithuania
Illegal trade sanctions against Poland
Illegal blockade of EU Embassy in Moscow
Illegal sanctions against Georgia (Sakartvelo, obviously, sanctions against Atlanta would be OK)
Illegally interning Georgian Citizens (Again Sakartvelo, if you are from Athens,Ga and sing mournfully, then "interning" i…