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Showing posts from July, 2008

Harriet through the looking glass

I am not quite sure what most irritates me about Harridan Harperson. Her anti-Liberal special pleading perhaps? That no one should achieve success by their own efforts, but should also match some Harman defined template for what is acceptable- this I find both patronising and insulting. A feminist that does not believe simply in the equality of women, but rather that women should be given extra "help" in order to make up for some Harman-defined long term "injustice against women". Several highly successful women friends of mine would regard this as humiliation and not a triumph. Her tone is such that when she- as usual- makes highly controversial statements, one can tell that to disagree with her is not just to hold a contending point of view, it is to be morally inferior. Only her vision is ethical and right, all others are so incorrect as to warrant persecution. It is largely this arrogance that has got the Labour party into its current mess, so it is with rather


Russell Johnston was a civilised man. He embodied a certain courtly Highlander tradition that is the antithesis of the provincial. His interests were many and each of these he pursued with a passion. Those who only knew his honeyed Highland cadences could be caught out, for Russell did not tolerate fools too well and his peppery comments could be as acerbic as they were funny- delivered in words of one syllable, yet still in his beautiful Skye accent. In many ways Russell was a visionary, famously well travelled, he could also be the source of surprising and detailed arcane knowledge. He was at his best, perhaps, in discussion after a good meal, clutching the inevitable glass of Scotland's wine. His passionate belief in the value of the European Union is not today a popular cause, but as the years passed he grew even more convinced of what he termed "the necessity of Europe". He grew yet more convinced of this after he became involved in the crisis surrounding the breakdo

The UK- the country that died of indifference?

The previous piece I did on whether the UK might not survive until 2012 (see below), was greeted with some interesting reactions. Jonathan Calder makes a point that many have said to me: summarised as, " Yes, the UK might not survive, and No, we don't care ". Others, more sanguine, have suggested that Britain is not in immediate danger and -again to paraphrase- that "there is an awful lot of ruin in nation". I note that those most complacent about the future of our state are not Scottish. Just to make full disclosure: I am a multi-lingual European by culture, British by heritage, inclination and choice, and Scottish by descent, education and sporting support. I am also English by descent and -since I live in London- by current residence. I also have Welsh (and Dutch, French and probable Danish) descent too. I freely admit to being shocked by the indifference with which the prospect of the dissolution of Britain is being greeted. In my view, the end of the United

Can the UK survive until 2012?

Another by-election, another Labour humiliation- so far, so unsurprising. That this time it was the SNP, rather than the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats delivering the shock may seem of only passing significance. After all, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the SNP were riding high, winning the Hamilton by-election in 1967 before gaining 11 MPs in the October 1974 election. Yet in the end the Scotland Act of 1979 was defeated and the SNP fell back to only two seats in the subsequent 1979 general election. However, my fears for the very future of my country are growing. In 1979, the Conservatives held 22 seats. Now they hold only one. Instead of voters abandoning the party of government for the party of opposition, the Scottish voters are choosing the party of opposition to the Union . Even in their wildest dreams, the Scottish Conservatives can not hope to gain more than a handful of Westminster seats, even if their English and Welsh counterparts make dramatic gains. A future Prime

Shame, Pain & Dr. Death

So, the arrest of Dr. Radovan Karadzic finally happened. I find it hard to be joyful. The return of the mispronouncing newsreaders makes me wince slightly, but so does the knowledge that few things in the Balkans are entirely as they seem. Western leaders have gone onto the television praising "a genuine breakthrough", conveniently forgetting they role that their countries played in the savage unwinding of what had seemed to be a modern, European society. The hypocrisy of Douglas Hurd, the sanctimoniousness of David Owen, all were impotent in the face of defiance and -yes, not too strong a word- evil. The fertile plain of Slavonia and the high mountains of Krajina and Hercegovinia look very different, yet in both places I found the detritus of war. The smell of burning villages. The terrible noise. The terrible silence. The heartbreaking details: a dog's lead, fading photographs of families who would never come home again. The faces, taught with fear and pale with exhaust

Idealism, Realism and Cynicism

How often to those involved in British politics hear the words "you're all the same- just in it for yourselves"? The contempt for politics and politicians- never far away even under normal circumstances- seems to have become a mania of hatred- and is irrespective of political party. I can understand a certain scepticism about what politicians can actually achieve, in fact I think it is healthy, but the hatred of all things political is extremely corrosive and could undermine the very basis of our free society and way of life. What politicians might do to change perceptions is to inject some courtesy into the way that they interact with each other. If our politicians took each other a bit more seriously, then the yah -boo-shucks of the House of Commons at its worst would not be the fist image that people have of politics, but a rather more serious view. If we begin to think that politics is irrelevant , then the very fabric of our freedom becomes vulnerable to simple popu

A "faraway country"

The European chessboard has grown complicated. The hostile regime in Moscow is exploiting any opportunity to damage the cohesion of both the European Union and NATO. The Kremlin continues to spread black propaganda against any state that annoys it in some way . Indeed the perceived enemies of the Putin regime have often come under attack- whether in the realms of cyberspace, as Russian hackers launch attacks designed to shut down most of the apparatus of the modern state, or quite literally, with state sponsored assassination and physical intimidation of diplomats. The straight theft of foreign owned assets in Russia is also routine- as the latest twists in the campaign against BP in Russia makes quite plain. It is not a surprise that polls in the UK now show that Putin's Russia is considered the greatest threat to the country after Al-Qaida and Iran. After all, Russia- unlike Iran- has actually used a nuclear weapon on the streets of London. Other states are much more sanguine a

Taking a breath

Blogging has been sparse- I have been changing my job and sorting out a new -at least part time- base in Tallinn. It has meant that I have been rather remiss in keeping up the blog.

Fellow Travelers and Useful Idiots

Sometimes I wonder whether Mary Dejevsky is not actually in the pay of the Kremlin lie factory. Pieces like her latest in The Independent leave me open mouthed. The idea that Britain is in some way responsible for Kremlin sanctioned murders in London, "because we give asylum to the Kremlin's enemies" is simply despicable. The special pleading she makes for the Kremlin is reminiscent of the most lick spittle Communist fellow traveller. The fact is that Russian agents were sent from Moscow to kill in broad daylight, and with scant regard for the well-being of any innocents who might have got in the way. Then again, she actually supports authoritarianism- her piece in January was nothing short of disgraceful.

Mr. Brown and what we have to fear

On March 4th 1933 President Roosevelt made his inaugural address at the east portico of the US Capitol Building. In the face of a catastrophic failure of the financial system and almost total economic meltdown he began his leadership on note of optimism: "This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." His speech, which is well worth reading fully , stands out as the point when the United States accepted the need for radical measures. Though classical Liberals, with the benefit of much hindsight, criticise many of his most interventionist measures, at the time they seemed entirely justified- the scale of the economic collapse was simply so gigantic. More to the point, Roosevelt with a combination of practical measures and optimistic determinati