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Showing posts from March, 2013

Estonia marks the years of freedom but Russia marks the dark hours of the night

Today is the day that the life of Re-independent Estonia becomes longer than the period of independence before Soviet occupation. It is a significant milestone in the psychological recovery of Estonian society from the Soviet occupation. Yet it is also the anniversary of the March deportation of 1949  when tens of thousands of Estonians- many, indeed most, were women and children- were sent to exile and often death in Siberia. Those that returned were brutalized and traumatized for the rest of their lives. For the first decade after the recovery of Estonian freedom there remained a deep seated fear that this second period of independence would prove as fragile as the last, and that once again occupation, famine, torture and death would become Estonia's lot. Gradually that fear has begun to lessen, and as a whole generation has grown to parenthood with little or no recollection of Soviet power, the psychology of Estonians has subtly changed. The 2008 crisis has passed, and it is w

Home Truths about the British Press

To return to a perennial problem in British democracy: what can we do about a press that is both so biased it is twisted, and so aggressive it has rightly been called "feral".  The Reporter- once a by-word for integrity- think Alistair Cooke or Ed Murrow- has instead become a by-word for tetchy arrogance or profound corruption- think Piers Morgan, the Murdoch Press, the Daily Cancer-Scare or, lets face, it large parts of the BBC. From overseas, I find it extraordinary that there is not more condemnation of the blatant manipulation, and outright lies that comprise a large part of the newspaper stories on the political pages- and increasingly in broadcast media too. Yet even in the fairly unimportant world of teen pop stars, the naked nastiness of the press- and especially the paparazzi in Britain- is making lives miserable. Justin Bieber, for example, is a fairly harmless teen sensation, who has been harried and hassled all through his visit to the UK- he is only 19, and m

Death of Chavez mourned by other Demagogues

The Op-Ed piece in today's Independent by George Galloway is a classic case of cheap left wing demagoguery. I can certainly judge George Galloway by his friends- mostly murderous criminals with no respect for democracy and little respect for human life, rather like the late Hugo Chavez. Usually de mortuis nihil nisi bonum   but in the case of Chavez we must make an exception. By making Venezuela a regional ally of Cuba, he placed himself firmly in the same tyrannical camp as the Communist regime in Havana. He led an onslaught against human rights that was condemned both by Amnesty international and Freedom House, and he subverted the democratic constitution of his own country, creating a cesspit of corruption and incompetence that has placed Venezuela on the road to economic perdition. Naturally Galloway is a fan of the late Commandante Chavez. So are many other left wing demagogues like Ken Livingstone. However we can not be blind to the price of Socialism in Venezuela- and

Trust and Distrust

" Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear " William Ewart Gladstone The Liberal Democrats on principle oppose secret courts. Our party conference has repeatedly pointed out that no government can be above the law. It is an article of faith that we must oppose any executive authority that seeks to place itself outside the normal rule of law. Nor is this a purely theoretical issue: the information coming out of Libya after the fall of Gadaffi suggests prima facie evidence that agents of the British government sanctioned criminal activity- including torture and even murder- of those the government deemed arbitrarily and often without evidence to be guilty of enmity against the British state.  The executive can not even give a number for how many such secret trials might take place under the proposed legislation, still less give any assurance as to the integrity of the judicial process without public sc

Lessons of Eastleigh

Phew!! When all was said and done it really was a close one, and another week, maybe even another day or two and it could easily have been another result. Be that as it may, the party dug as deep as I have ever seen it do, and the relentless commitment and hard work of thousands of volunteers with spectacularly good organisation on the ground made the difference.  Bravo!  Set against pretty much the very worst that the party could face from pretty much the very worst of the British press, the result is -frankly- something close to a miracle for the Liberal Democrats. The party has saved itself from the brink. Now we owe it to ourselves and the country to set out a renewed, coherent Liberal agenda. Personally, I want to see a commitment to fair tax, which must also mean simple tax. We must stop the state trying to do too much, but make the commitment that whatever it does do, it must do with excellence. Among many other things, that means accepting the need for radical health