Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2009

The Party's over

I becoming confused about where necessary restraint stops and the politics of envy begins. The latest boondoggle from the BBC, after the absurdly overblown coverage of the US Presidential election and the even more bloated coverage of the Beijing Olympic games now seems to be the huge numbers of BBC people "covering"- well at least present at the Glastonbury festival . Naturally the less well funded- or at least not publicly funded- sections of the media look with green eyes on the well upholstered expense accounts of the national broadcaster. In the face of repeated attacks from Murdoch media outlets, the BBC generally made a case that the money grubbing Philistines from News International "would say that, wouldn't they" and the great and the good who comprise BBC governors would generally look the other way. However the Daily Telegraph- owned by the Barclay Brothers, who live in tax exile in Sark- may be made of sterner stuff. The poison that the coverage of M

The Media Way of Death

Well, I suppose the is a reasonable place to consider the death of the "King of Pop". Given the astonishing abuse of his body through needless drugs and needless surgery, I guess fifty was not too bad an innings, but as usual the po-faced media will glory in the shroud waving: no cliche will be left unstated as the endless recycling of the story of "someone you've heard of dies unexpectedly, relatively young" now allows them to make more sales. It is not pretty. I can not make too many deep statements- I suppose his best song was "Billie Jean", which is not exactly a meditation, even if it is a good record. Was he a pervert? On balance probably yes. Was he a victim? On balance, probably yes to this too. Beyond those two questions, and his music, I wonder how many people would really be able to work out what particular message this particular short-ish life gives us. That we are all mortal? We should really all know that. Talent does not insu

Summertime in Tallinn

The sun is high in the sky and unusually for Tallinn it is actually hot. The Baltic sea turns white, to match the sky of the long twilight. The sun barely dips below the horizon at sunset, leaving the sky pink until the dawn. The white nights are when Estonians celebrate the northern summer. The past few days have shown the medieval city of Tallinn it its finest colours, and though the tourists conspire to block the main streets of the old city, there remain quiet corners where the shadows cool the heat. The cats of the old town doze on the granite cobbles. The sky is clearest blue with a few clouds dangling on the edge of the horizon. I spent the St. John's Day holiday away from Tallinn in the deepest Estonian countryside. A friend who got married on Monday invited us to his Talu - farm- and the traditional features of the holiday went ahead. The Bonfire was lit as the twilight gathered and the dawn, Koit, and Dusk, Hammarik, were said to kiss for the only day of the year. As the

The Real World

I am sure that large numbers of political anoraks are delighted by the unveiling of the new Conservative-led group in the European Parliament... It is, of course, a total joke. The Tory allies consist of the most marginal and irrelevant parties in the EU. They could not even get Bulgarians to join them.Their major allies are the PiS- Law and Justice party- in Poland: led by a man who proudly admits to not having a bank account, just before he says he would like to send gay men, like Alan Duncan and Iain Dale to jail, but only because he can't hang them. Even in Poland Jarek Kaczynski is a joke: in Britain he is, and should be, a ridiculous laughing stock. As for the Czech ODS: their former leader has been photographed showing his shortcomings to some attractive female in Signor Berlusconi's villa. (noticeably even Berlusconi's party find joining up with the Tories too embarrassing). The Czechs too are headed for electoral oblivion, indeed that does seem to be the uniting t

Carrier Wave

The usual excuse for not blogging: pressure of work, will not apply. The fact is that the weather in Tallinn is so sunny and pleasant that the idea of writing has become something of a chore. However as I look across the shining waters of the Bay of Tallinn, my eyes are drawn to the low shape of HMS Illustrious , which has come alongside the Tallinn cruise ship quay. The sailors will take part in tonight's unveiling of the Freedom monument by President Ilves. Tomorrow is Victory day- the anniversary of the defeat in 1919 by the Estonians and Latvians of the Baltic German army under General von der Goltz . Tonight, just before midnight, the monument will finally be unveiled, accompanied by a premiere of a new oratorio by Urmas Sisask . The Royal Navy will be present in recognition of the role that it played in the War of Liberation as the most powerful allies of the Estonians in their struggle for freedom against both Bolsheviks and Baltic Germans. Yet although the pride of the Roy

Iran: a drift into dispair

After the disputed election in Iran, where, despite a huge increase in turnout, the election is said to have brought no change, I can not help noticing one very important thing: People who win elections by the margin suggested by officials in Iran do not usually need to arrest their opponents . It therefore looks pretty clear that the populist Ahmadi - Nejad has stolen the election. The reaction in the clerical state is already violent and could become explosive. Not good in a state that is already quite close to gaining a nuclear bomb. It underlines the nature of the regime that Ahmadi -N ejad wants that he shows such contempt for democracy. It will now be a test of the far more pluralist Iranian society as to whether this crime is allowed to go unpunished.

Why the Liberal Democrats must resist temptation

Liberal Democrats opose the current voting system because it delivers results which are often quite different from what people are voting for. Even on less than 40% of the vote, governments can be formed which control all of the levers of power. Sometimes, a majority can be formed by a party that actually comes second in the popular vote- as happened in February 1974, when Harold Wilson was able to form a government for Labour despite gaining over 200,000 fewer votes than the Conservatives. Over the 35 years since then, the power of the executive over the House of Commons has grown dramatically, and the power of local government diminished drastically. Thus the space for effective opposition has been reduced considerably, and the power of the Prime Minister has grown supreme. No longer " Primus inter pares ", the patronage and power of the "First Lord of the Treasury" can no longer be challenged even by his supposed peers, the Cabinet Ministers. The spectacle of the

Eating (Bob) Crow

Bob Crow- as I mentioned last week- has indeed taken it upon himself to lead yet another strike on the London Underground. Sure enough, this morning Londoners are struggling to get to work. The damage is estimated to cast the UK economy about £100 million. It is a typical two fingers from the unrepentant Communist leader of the RMT Union. His brazen attempt to blackmail more money for his bully boys is as outrageous as it is contemptible. He and his followers must be resisted. The greed and irresponsibility is typical of a man prepared to support a system that murdered millions. Still it is good to see that his organisation -No2EU- came twelfth at the European elections, and I suspect that many of those who voted for him thought they were voting for UKIP. Although it is causing me no little inconvenience during my stay in London, frankly London Transport (or whatever PR-led name that organisation now possesses) should tell Crow to stuff it and sit out whatever is the worst that this Sc

The fall of Labour: A Strange New Ocean

As expected the results of the local elections which came out on Friday and the European elections which were published last night have proven to be at least as bad as the worst projections for the Labour Party. After coming third behind the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats in the local elections, their position was even worse in the European elections. Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats having made progress in the local elections could only hold their own in the European elections. Yet for the Conservatives the picture is not one of unalloyed joy either. Apart from the result in Wales which is an undoubted triumph for the Tories, the progress that they have demonstrated, even despite the fall of Labour, may still prove to be insufficient to gain a stable majority at the next general election. Meanwhile the spectacle of two neo-Nazis being elected certainly made me feel quite nauseous, and I suspect that the Conservatives will feel the same. So what do the two results prove? Well,

"To lose one cabinet minister may be considered a misfortune, to lose two, looks like carelessness"

The pantomime of the Brown Premiership continues in its satisfyingly grim way. After the resignations, before they were pushed of Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears, we now hear rumours of a further resignation, after the polls have closed at 10 PM this evening. Clearly some attempt at an organised putsch against Gordon Brown looks like it is underway. Frankly I wish I cared. I well remember attending an evening dinner several years ago in honour of a Lithuanian minister that was being hosted by a then Conservative junior minister. The entire topic of his speech was nothing to do with the issue at hand, and certainly nothing to do with Lithuania. All this MP could discuss was the ramifications of the leadership contest that John Major had just provoked in order to face down his critics. The unrelenting internal navel gazing convinced me that the Conservative Party had completely lost the plot and needed to be replaced as soon as possible. I imagine that even if no plot appears or even if a

A Double Dip recession

The economic news has seen brighter of late- the dramatic interventions by the central banks are said to have brought a return to stability in the banking system. It is true that the financial system no longer seems to be evaporating before our very eyes. However the impact on the real economy of the wrenching shock to the banks is only now becoming plain. In fact, international banking system, through a combination of renegotiation and tight liquidity, is seeking to recapitalise itself as rapidly as possible- and several money centre banks such as Barclays and Goldman Sachs are repaying their emergency loans very quickly. The result is that despite the very loose liquidity offered by the central banks, the actual interest rates paid by corporates to the banks has actually increased substantially- and credit is still in very thin supply. The increase in the cost of money and the dramatic slowdown in demand is putting industrial production in a vice across the world. Yet it is only now

Bob Crow- Red Menace

I see that my trip to London is set to be disrupted by "industrial action", namely a strike by the RMT Union on the London Underground. Relevant Information: the General Secretary of the RMT Union, Bob Crow , is an unrepentant Communist. The only difference between Soviet Socialism and National Socialism is the death toll: Stalin alone killed more people than Hitler, and that is before we even get to Pol Pot, Castro, Hoxha, Tito, Ceausescu and the rest. Mind you Mao is probably the genocidal maniac to end all genocidal maniacs: a reasonable educated guess would be 100,000,000 dead. In case you were wondering, I truly loath, detest and despise Communists. Bob Crow seized control of his Union in the approved Marxist manner, the difference is that the Kremlin no longer subsidises British Unions like they did in the 1970s. A pity that Bob Crow doesn't realise that the show is over and dinosaurs like him should get off the stage.