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Showing posts from May, 2007

Tell a lie big enough

Russia has cast its dice- A total farrago of lies that suggests that it is the UK that is guilty of the murder of Andrei Litvinenko and not Russia. Instead of this barrage of nonsense, let us consider the evidence: The Polonium 210 came from a Russian reactor under the control of the Russian Security services just outside Moscow- we can tell which reactor produced the poison by specific isotopes that were in the mix. From the decay rate we can even tell on what day the Polonium was produced. The trail of alpha radioactivity released by the Polonium that contaminated the murder site also left the murderer leaving a trail of poison all the places that he had visited. Thus two aeroplanes were contaminated as were a variety of other areas, although all those who came into contact with the Polonium were contaminated, the primary trails were those of Litvinenko himself and his murderer. The trail makes it quite clear that Lugovoi and his Russian security service leg man committed the crime-

A Response to the heirs of Blair

As the Cameroons declare themselves to be the heirs to Tony Blair, I would like to declare once again the key principle of Liberalism, taken from the book that is the badge of office of the President of the Liberal Democrats, On Liberty : "The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, whether physical or moral is not a sufficient warrant. . . .Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign" John Stuart Mill So If it really is to be New Labour and Blue Labour then let us shout from the rooftops the errors of their ways! There is an alternative to to patronising public schoolboys. There is an alternative to managerialist nanny staters. There is an alternative to cavalier rejection of our ancient liberties. The Liberal Democrats are founded on JS Mills principles- it is time to evangelise!

Emigration, Immigration, Integration

Usually I have a lot of time for the Joseph Rowntree reports, although I am a little nervous about drawing the sweeping conclusions that they have made in today's report about immigration . Although advertised as a survey of 600 individuals, in fact the attrition rate took the continuing survey down to only just over 100 individuals, and I think that the sample size is too small to really judge too much about whether Eastern European immigrants actually intend to stay long term or not. I am not too worried should it be the case that about a quarter do see a longer term future- these are those who are integrating and providing substantial skills. Meanwhile, it is interesting to see that British strawberry farmers are now very nervous that they will not get enough Central and Eastern Europeans to come for the harvest this year . I am sure that the usual suspects will come out with tirades about immigration- not differentiating those who come to the UK under the free movement of labou

Claim to fame

I have been a fan of the Chase me Ladies I'm in the Cavalry blog for some time: Puerile - check Childish- check Filthy- check Side Splittingly, Hog whimperingly, cry out loud funny- check check check. I see in his latest post Harry has outed himself as a Lib Dem voter. As he lives in High Wycombe, perhaps he voted for me last time, then! Do you know- however insulting he may be about this- I'm really rather chuffed.

Ignorance is bliss?

Agentmancuso - a thoughtful Scottish Liberal- was kind enough to quote some words from this blog on the Our Scotland forum so I went to have a look. The theme was "what is the most Fascist country in Europe?" One or two people suggested Russia, Croatia got a dishonourable mention, then a few suggested Estonia. I pointed out some fairly objective truths about the place, it is free and democratic for a start and adheres to various international conventions, including the European Union which really do prohibit states that are not objectively free. I was therefore rather surprised to find a blizzard of comments in response based on nothing but unsupported assertions. No real evidence was presented, yet each seemed to have a passionate point of view which they clearly felt was as valid as any one Else's. Yet these positions were objectively false. Absurd premises were made- that the Communist bloc did not practice state censorship, for example- that made me wonder whether we

Is David Cameron losing the plot?

The funny thing about the Grammargate fiasco amongst British Conservatives is that it shows David Cameron in a consistently bad light. He must know how resented his Old Etonian background is amongst many opinion formers- not least John Humphries - so stirring the pot on education will always leave some echo of the dreaded class war. The other thing that this is showing up is that Cameron is growing more isolated in his party- it is not just the right wing malcontents this time- even centrist MPs have been showing irritation. Although this is obviously not the beginning of the end, it probably is the end of the beginning for Cameron. After a breezy first year or two, he must now engage in a war of attrition with quite a few of the Tory die- hards . Cameron has hitherto been a extremely lucky politician- this maladroit blunder is the end of his lucky streak. In the end OE charm is not enough, and with the plodding policy review process now beginning to show its first fruits, I suspec

Freedom of Information

The roll of dishonour: Thos MPs who voted to exempt themselves from the freedom of Information Act: Of 96 MPs who voted in favour, 21 were Conservative MPs - Peter Atkinson (Hexham), Simon Burns (Chelmsford West), Sir John Butterfill (Bournemouth West), James Duddridge (Rochford & Southend East),Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East),Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove),Greg Knight (Yorkshire East),Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East),David Maclean (Penrith & The Border),Bob Neill (Bromley & Chislehurst),Andrew Pelling (Croydon Central),Mark Pritchard (Wrekin),John Randall (Uxbridge),David Ruffley (Bury St Edmunds),David Tredinnick (Bosworth),Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone & The Weald),Lady Ann Winterton (Congleton) and Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield). The Conservative tellers for the Ayes was Tim Boswell (Daventry). All of them should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. 78 were Labour MPs - Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East),Graham Allen (Nottingham North),Janet Anderson (Rossendal

A blow upon a bruise

My heart sinks as the distressing predictability of the Putin regime shows up yet again. On November 23rd 2006 Alexander Litvinenko- a Russian defector, but a British Citizen- died in a London hospital. It transpired that he had been poisoned with Polonium 210, with a radioactive signature of Russian origin. Over the course of the past five months the Police investigation has discovered evidence that directly links a Russian intelligence operative, Andrei Lugovoi, to the administration of the poison in a cup of tea served at the Millennium hotel, Grosvenor Square. Today, the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided that the evidence is such that Andrei Lugovoi may be charged with murder and his case sent for trial. As a Russian citizen residing in Moscow, the DPP will request the Russian authorities to extradite the indicted man to face trial. The initial response of the Russian authorities is to refuse this entirely legitimate request. Furthermore, on the same day, the Russian Envi

Russia's active tense

The utter paranoia of the Russian regime ahead of the Samara summit is quite extraordinary. It is not Russia that is the victim of politically inspired hygiene checks on its exports. It is not Russia that has been the victim of a politically inspired shut down on its major oil route. It is not Russia that has been threatened over the moving of a World War II monument and had riots fomented in its capital by a foreign embassy (although in recent years we may note that they have demolished several monuments and even desecrated graves in order to build new roads). It is not Russia that is the victim of Cyber-attacks that have crashed many major corporate and government websites. It is not Russia that has had its Ambassador harried at every turn by thugs. Russia has prosecuted these activities and not been the victim. The Germans have kept the Samara summit alive, but if the Russian strategy was to divide and rule in the EU, the sheer brutality of their methods has eliminated any goodwill

The British Response to the Crisis in Tallinn

HMS Illustrious will come alongside at the Port of Tallinn next week. When will a permanent NATO presence be established in Estonia? Will the Sea Harriers pay a small visit along the NATO- Russian border? I do hope so, after all, breaking the windows in Pskov will just match the damage that the Nashi regime did to the Estonian consulate there.

Brownian Motion

What happens if Gordon Brown makes a radical move on electoral reform? It now looks quite possible that Gordon Brown as Prime Minister will start office in the same way that he began his term as Chancellor- with an unexpected and far reaching radical reform. As Chancellor his first act was to give independence to the Bank of England. Arguably this was the single most important reform that he has made. Now, there are many hints that he will pass a package of constitutional reforms, including reform of the government of England and electoral reform. Certainly the hint that came from Jack Straw was that additional member voting was being seriously considered. OK, it is not a strictly proportional system, but it is likely to help the Liberal Democrats in any event since at present they have less than 10% of the seats in the House of Commons despite gaining 23% of the votes. However a switch to additional member voting also carries significant risks for the Liberal Democrats. Firstly, after

Russia's state of denial

The Op-Ed piece in the Daily Telegraph by Boris Berezhovsky today goes straight to the heart of the problem of Putin's Russia: the failure by Putin to acknowledge that the USSR was a criminal state. The disgusting behaviour of Putin's Nashi thugs towards the British Ambassador in Moscow reflects the fact that Putin not only feels no shame about the crimes of the Soviet era, he is actually proud of them. The fact that Moscow can continue to launch cyber attacks against Estonia, together with closure of the border and all the other acts of harrassment , simply reflects that Putin's regime is not one that the West can do business with.

Cyber Attacks continue against Estonia

Russia continues to attack Estonia. The denial of service attacks launched from Russia against Estonian sites are extraordinary. Edward Lucas gives the details here . This is nothing more than a co-ordinated act of aggression against a NATO and European Union member state. The West continues to handle this with kid gloves- but for how much longer?

So farewell then...

Watching Blair last night, it is tempting to be charitable. "He will be missed", "He had good intentions", "He had some successes". Indeed several fairly hard nosed commentators have been getting nearly as emotional as Blair himself - a positive chorus of E.J. Thribb -like commentary. I, however, can not see it that way. Blair's mistakes have been catastrophic: "Ethical Foreign Policy" Mishandling relations with the European Union Wasting two pounds in every three spent on Health Running up massive future debts in misconceived PPP deals Running up massive future debts in misconceived PFI deals Peter Mandelson as Trade Minister The Millennium Dome Freedom of Information Act farce Jo Moore Affair Estelle Morris Failure to recognise that devolution applied to England as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Failure to budget properly for Olympic Games Failure to budget properly for Infrastructure expenditure School tables Cheriegate Betr

Russian History

As Mr. Putin takes another swipe at Estonia for daring to stand up to Russian bullying, I notice that he argues against rewriting history . Well History certainly is the problem. After the October revolution, the Bolsheviks began a reign of terror- nobody knows how many people died, but it is in the millions. An artificial famine was created by the Bolsheviks in Ukraine- no one knows how many died, but it is in the millions. Stalin launched the Great Terror though the 1930s- no one knows how many died, but it is in the millions. In 1937 Stalin purged the Red Army and the Party- no one knows how many died. In 1939 Stalin invaded Poland and arrested anyone connected with the Polish State and Army. Tens of Thousands of Polish Army officers were taken to Katyn and shot. In 1940 Stalin invaded the Baltic countries and Finland- about a million people were exiled or shot. In 1941 Hitler attacked Stalin, and the war finally came to the Soviet Union. Tens of Millions were killed. In 1944, Sta

The need for British Liberalism

Simon Jenkins attack on the Liberal Democrats in The Guardian is a bleat of pain from that section of the British establishment that no longer understands the modern world. Comfortable at home with his knighthood and his directorships, his occasional ventures out into the real world leave him confused and baffled. For him politics is a binary choice: everyone is either a little Labourite or a little Conservative, and these two should take turns in power. Though the labels change, the perquisites of Sir Simon and the other soi-disant "great and good"will therefore remain unchallenged. He does not understand that politics has changed- and that the British will no longer accept the cosy cabal of these two. The major trend over the past thirty years has been the consistent growth of the power of Liberalism. This growth has come despite repeated crises: the near disaster of the Thorpe trial, the rise and fall of the SDP, the near death of the merged Social and Liberal Democrats a

I salute your indefatigability..

The news in Tallinn is that "British MPs" have supported the Russian Stance. I checked- it was only George Galloway. George Galloway- a reliable friend of tyrants and murderers. Julie Burchill in drag, without the wit. I am looking for sponsorship for my "punch-a-c*nt" campaign. Any takers?

The Eagle and the Small Birds

As the Second World War drew to a close, the representatives of the big three Allied Powers, the UK, USA and USSR, met to discuss the form of world that they wished to see in the aftermath of the conflict. Churchill spoke: "The eagle should permit the small birds to sing and care not whereof they sing." This vision of respect for small powers was quickly dismissed by Stalin, who intended nothing but a relationship based on force. Putin has the same realpolitik view of the foreign relations of the Post Communist Russian Federation. He has bullied Georgia and Moldova, when they stand up to Russia- expelling Georgian nationals, and harassing those Russian citizens of Georgian heritage, in a racist display of xenophobia encouraged from the Kremlin. The violence in the North Caucasus has continued- with UN observers even being forced from neighbouring Ingushetia. However, the latest display of threats against Estonia is a direct challenge to the West. At the end of the day, altho

So what do the Liberal Democrats do now?

There is no hiding from the fact that Liberal Democrat hopes were not fulfilled in these local elections. Although the vote overall held up, in the places where it mattered, we were comprehensively outplayed- and not just by the Conservatives. For every gain like Eastbourne, Northampton and Hull, there were painful losses like Bournemouth, Waverley, North Devon, Torbay, South Norfolk, Windsor or Woking. We ended the evening four councils less than we began, and lost 246 councillors. So, disappointing... and we should give this pause for thought. This is the second year in a row where the Liberal Democrats have failed to make progress. Our vote was broadly static, as it was last year, but this year we saw more losses, as the FPTP system did not give us the rub of the greens. We are clearly being hurt by the Tory recovery, and the Conservatives on the face of it should have much to celebrate. They achieved a higher share of the vote and made around 900 gains, giving them control of 38 mo

Just stepped out...

I have spent the last week away, and inevitably it was a critical week in various affairs that are themes of this blog. I have already blogged a little about the attacks that Russia has been making against Estonia, and I will return to this shortly. Suffice it to say here, that the actions of the Russian Federation are totally unacceptable, but the weakness of the NATO and especially the European Union response opens up the real possibility that both these organisations are now simply a dead letter, with no strength to oppose the burgeoning power of a neo-fascist Russia- a truly terrifying prospect for those who believe in freedom. Meanwhile I got it wrong over the elections in Scotland- the SNP did better than I expected, and the Liberal Democrats were blind sided. Fantastic candidates like Craig Harrow and Siobhan Mathers did not get elected, while the loyalty and hard work of Nora Radcliffe was drowned in a wall of SNP money, which allowed the detestable Alex Salmond to enter the Sc