Tuesday, 22 July 2014

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: "Jihad Brides"

The following Freedom of Information request has been sent to the Home Office and the Attorney General's Office:

Dear Sir/Madam,
re: Freedom of Information Request
In recent weeks, the press have reported on "scores" of women holding British citizenship travelling to the Middle Meast, to marry fighters for groups such as ISIS.
One of them posted a picture on Twitter of her toddler holding a Kalashnikov, describing him as "my mini mujahid".  According to the Daily Mail, the father is a Swedish-born ISIS fighter: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2699084/Pictured-Smiling-British-toddler-posing-assault-rifle-tweet-sent-Jihadist-mother-quit-London-Syria-ISIS-fighter-husband.html
I would like to know the following:
1.  Will such women be free to return to the United Kingdom whenever they please, without penalty?
2.  Will children born abroad to "jihad brides" be able to settle in the United Kingdom/become eligible for British citizenship?
3.  Will foreign spouses of "jihad brides" be able to settle in the United Kingdom/become eligible for British citzenship through the various "family (re)unification" channels, or similar?
4.  Will the authorities be unable to prevent entry into the United Kingdom of foreign jihadists such as the one mentioned in the above Daily Mail article, by virtue of their having EU/EEA citzenship?
5.  Will the authorities be unable to deport the children and/or partners of "jihad brides" who do travel to the United Kingdom, owing to the "Right to a Family Life" and related legal provisions?

Yours faithfully,

  etc.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Hatred of the Left Redux

Horatio Chapple planned to follow
his parents into medicine
I have written before about the casual inhumanity of the Left on this blog, particularly in the wake of the lurid celebrations surrounding Margaret Thatcher's passing.

This unpleasant tendency was on display again yesterday in the Socialist Worker's coverage of the inquest into 17-year-old Eton pupil Horatio Chapple's death.

Horatio was attacked by a polar bear on a hiking trip with the British Schools Exploring Society in Svalbard, an island in the Arctic Ocean north of Norway.

"Eton by bear?", ran the tasteless headline in its regular column, 'The Troublemaker':

"Horatio Chapple, an Eton pupil, was killed by a polar bear in 2011 while on an adventure holiday.  ...  Troublemaker has long supported campaigning for the environment.  Now we have another reason to save the polar bears."

So that there are more of them around to maul to death teenagers wicked enough to commit the terrible crime of (through no fault of their own) attending a public school, presumably.

Might the writer of this unspeakably callous column have more sympathy for state school pupil Patrick Flinders, horribly disfigured by the same bear, on the same trip?

Perhaps, perhaps not.  It may well be that Patrick is what the Left terms a "class traitor" for palling around with the likes of Horatio Chapple, and therefore equally undeserving of sympathy.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

There's Always a Catch

In his first debate with UKIP's Nigel Farage, there was one really concrete benefit to the public of EU membership which Deputy Prime Minister Clegg could hang his hat on: the abolition of roaming charges.

(Well, not now, but in the near-ish future  probably  and only after another classic, money-guzzling regulatory cock-up.)

"Just imagine!", we were urged, as though being presented a vision of a shining city on a hill, "no more those extortionate roaming charges when you go on holiday; when you want to send a text; when you want to make a call!"



Roaming charges are a pain, to be sure.  
None of the standard-issue, long-discredited hogwash with respect to "three million jobs" and "the top table" had held up, but this was a policy everyone could get behind, surely.

True, the price demanded in exchange for such beneficent regulation is hig
— open borders; a debauched democracy; a plundered Treasury; etc.  but it was something.  Right?

As with so many things, sadly, while the EU is (prospectively) giving to holidaymakers with one hand, it has been taking with the other.  
The EU jobs myth has been
debunked time after time

I discovered this for myself yesterday at an airport in Krakow, when I tried to purchase a bottle of Żubrówka 
— a very characteristic bison grass vodka, native to Poland — in the small duty-free shop.

Two prices were listed: one for around twenty-five Polish 
złoty, listed on a red label marked "duty free", and one for nearer sixty, listed on a blue label emblazoned with the EU's circle of stars.  My partner and I figured that the former listing must represent the price in the shop, and the latter the ordinary price including duty  we were being show what a good deal we were getting.

In fact, it turned out that the former sum applied only to travellers leaving the EU 
— bound for the the supposedly resurgent Evil Empire in Russia, perhaps, or to sign up with the British jihad in Syria while "EU Citizens" moving within the EU were gifted the dubious privilege of paying full price. 

The European Union, it turns out, abolished duty-free sales for travel between its members way back in 1999.  Ordinary Britons and British businesses didn't want this, of course:


The duty-free lobby estimates that up to 100,000 jobs will be lost at ports and airports and amongst airline and ferry staff - with 30,000 jobs at risk in the UK alone.  A spokeswoman for Luton airport in Bedfordshire called the decision "a major blow", arguing that 11% of the airport's total income came from duty-free.  "This is likely to lead to higher costs for travel and it could hit jobs in the travel industry", she added.  British Airways warned the abolition could translate into increased landing charges for airlines by about 15%.

In the end, Britain, France and Germany all tried to secure an eleventh hour stay of execution for European duty-free, but were unsuccessful.  Jacques Santer's Commission forced the measure through, despite the fact that it was technically resigned, following the Edith Cresson scandal.

This was an early, concrete realisation Jacques Delors's dream, that the European Commission "should become a political executive", able to "define essential common interests" 
— and to Hell with the opinion of the member states' elected governments.
Hovercraft Swift meets her end at
the breaker's yard
Fears that the move would damage British businesses proved to be well-founded, with its most famous casualty being the much-loved Channel hovercraft fleet.  

Its owners bought a few extra years by selling off these icons of modern British engineering to museums and scrap merchants and replacing them with catamarans, but by 2006 the jig was up and the company went into liquidation, leaving former workers in fear for their pensions.

(So much for Mr Clegg's alleged Euro-jobs, incidentally.)

I confess that all of this had completely passed me by until now  I do not enjoy all the opportunities for regular, personally profitable foreign travel indulged by Euro-politicians, unfortunately.  None of it leaves me with the impression that British tourists (or the tourism industry) are getting a particularly good deal out of the European Union.

With or without those roaming charges.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

"London no longer needs to be tied to a stagnating EU" — Kwasi Kwarteng MP

An incisive piece by Kwasi Kwarteng in yesterday's London Evening Standard.

The structures that made the City prosperous — a stable political environment, the rule of law, a measure of self-government — existed centuries before the EU was ever thought of. 

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Grand Conclave of the Lizard Men

The Prime Minister, alongside such luminaries as Chancellor Osborne, Shadow Chancellor Balls, Lord Mandelson and the ubiquitous Kenneth Clarke, will attend a meeting of the sinister controversial Bilderberg Group today.

The North Briton
prefers not to sail the wild shores of Conspiracy Theory — too many voyagers lose their minds to cabin fever — but the odd pleasure cruise isn't too harmful.  Bilderberg attendees might not be space-faring reptoids, but the meetings do smack of the unhealthy intimacy between politicians of all persuasions which Peter Oborne warned against in The Triumph of the Political Class.

Anyway, here's some good, old-fashioned fuel for the fire, courtesy of JFK:


(True conspiracy buffs might be disappointed to learn that the late Mr Kennedy was, in fact, talking about international communism — not Bilderberg, the Council on Foreign Relations, or even the Bohemian Grove.  Something of a let down!)

Friday, 17 May 2013

With Friends Like These...

The black banner of al-Qaeda flies over rebel-controlled Raqqa
Another foreign policy gaffe this week, as a commander in the rebel coalition which William Hague recognised as Syria's "sole legitimate representative" last year releases film of himself pulling the entrails from a slain soldier, before sinking his teeth into the man's lungs.

In fairness to Abu Sakkar — real name Khalid al-Hamad — he thought the organ was a liver.  So an honest mistake, then.

Sakkar, who commands one of the "Farouq Brigades" implicated in the indiscriminate shelling of Shi'ite villages in Lebanon and the persecution of Syrian Christians near Homs, remains unrepentant: "[A]fter what I did", he told TIME Magazine, "hopefully [government loyalists] will never step into the area where Abu Sakkar is."

Sakkar was not at all shy about his ruthlessness, saying of the Alawite population who subscribe to same Shi'ite sect of Islam as President al-Assad, "Hopefully we will slaughter all of them."


"I have another video clip that I will send to them", he added darkly.  "In the clip, I am sawing another shabiha [government militiaman] with a saw; the saw we use to cut trees. I sawed him into small pieces and large ones.”


Sakkar's antics co-incide embarrassingly with renewed efforts by our government to shore up the faltering insurrection, with David Cameron recently announcing his intention to double British support to the rebels.  Arms cannot yet be sent  the European Union does not permit us to take that decision independently — but "non-lethal" aid can, and the money, body armour and armoured vehicles being shipped are doubtless just as useful as rifles and rockets would be.

Is it wise to tread this path of ever-increasing intervention?  Ministers seem to have made up their minds that we "cannot stand idly by", but has anyone taken the time to perform an audit of previous foreign adventures where we were assured non-intervention was "not an option"?

Iraq, of course, is sliding deeper into the mire every day.  Senior politicians say "civil war has already started".  This has not been without consequence to neighbouring Syria, a popular bolt-hole for Iraq's Sunni insurgents.  Indeed, the Free Syrian Army has accused Prime Minister al-Maliki's Shi'ite-dominated government of sending warplanes to attack them and sworn vengeance; a development which could have far more disastrous consequences than Israel's recent headline-grabbing strike against a Hezbollah convoy in the country.
Fighters for the National Army of Cyrenaica, which
declared autonomy from Tripoli unilaterally this March

The uprisings we have sponsored or encouraged in North Africa are turning similarly sour, w
ith political killings in Tunisia, violent persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt, and the desecration of British war graves amid escalating tribal warfare in Libya.


Even in Kosovo, where our decision to back the Kosovo Liberation Army against Slobodan Milošević marked the beginning of Britain's modern love affair with liberal interventionism, our efforts have borne rotten fruit: Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi — alias "The Snake" — has been exposed by the Council of Europe as the the kingpin of an international mafia network dealing in arms, drugs and human body parts.  Tales of the KLA murdering Serbs to sell their organs on the black market, which once seemed fantastic, have proved shockingly accurate.

However, our most extensive efforts have been in Afghanistan, where we have been trying to effect change for eleven long years. If the merits of liberal interventionism can be demonstrated anywhere, it should be there.

Some commentators have indeed expressed a cautious optimism.  The BBC's James Landale
, who has been accompanying prime ministers to operational theatres and hearing them briefed on "how well things are going" for years, hints that "there are straws in the wind that perhaps the mood is changing in Afghanistan."  Senior Afghan commanders tell him the bazaars are "buzzing".  The Taliban have been pushed into the desert.  The new authorities created by the West have "a sense of control".

Could Afghanistan be the success story the Free Syrian Army — and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office — so desperately need? 

Well, VICE has just released a documentary examining at the results of our lengthy programme of nation-building in that country. A much-expanded version of the Panorama report Mission Accomplished? Secrets of Helmand, the documentary is presented by British journalist Ben Anderson, and titled This Is What Winning Looks Like:



(A video podcast of Mr Anderson discussing the documentary with Eddy Moretti is available here.)

So, what do we find?

The Afghan National Army is viewed almost as a foreign force of occupation by southern Pashtuns, being comprised largely of the followers of Northern Alliance warlords like the dreaded General Dostum, who massacred up to 3,000 prisoners in the early period of the war.

The Taliban controls villages within walking distance of the Americans' main base in Sangin, though it is described in an ISAF press release worthy oSaeed al-Sahhaf as "transforming into a safe haven".

Worst of all are the National Police: corrupt, drug-addled and predatory; commanded by men who keep young boys as sex slaves while criminals use heroin money to build expansive villas worthy of Mexico's Narco Lords.

Is this the best we will be able to expect from the rebel coalition's cannibal commanders, after paying a price in blood and treasure our depleted armed forces and groaning Exchequer can no longer bear?

Burke warns us that those who do not learn from history's mistakes are doomed to repeat them.  Mr Hague, a historian who has written engaging and insightful biographies of Pitt and Wilberforce, would be well-advised to take a hard look at our more recent past before committing us fully to a Syrian adventure.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The Power of Language (and Self-Delusion)

North Korean rallies have always been
 more Red Square than Third Reich
BBC reporter John Sweeney's highly controversial Panorama report, North Korea Undercover, proved to be a bit of a damp squib in the end.

This is not ground-breaking footage of the country's mysterious hinterland or the ever-expanding Gulag described in the bestselling Escape from Camp 14, where "babies are born to be slaves".

Instead, it is just another semi-covert recording of the standard Potemkin tour of monuments, memorials and public works projects which visitors to the Hermit Kingdom always receive.  A write-up of this surreal experience had already been ably penned by the notorious Peter Hitchens; folk devil to the Left and terror to Tories.

(In fact, Mr Sweeney seemed to ape Mr Hitchens very closely on occasion, even down to a roguish request for a copy of Orwell's 1984 at the Grand People's Study Centre.)

One striking innovation, however, was the early claim that this last great Marxist bastion is not a relic of the revolutionary Left at its 20th century worst, but "a far-right state; an ultra-nationalist state".

Many see North Korea as a communist state.  One year ago, [portraits of] Marx and Lenin still had pride of place [in Pyongyang's main square].  But this year, on our trip, they've gone. ... So what sort of system is this?

Professor Brian Myers, a contributing editor to the studiously left-wing magazine The Atlantic, justifies the characterisation of the DPRK as "far-right" with reference to the fact that it has more men under arms than Hitler's Germany or Mussolini's Italy prior to the Second World War.

Where does this notion that large standing armies are exclusive to (or indicative of) right-wing regimes come from, though? Pronounced, strident militarism is a more or less universal feature in communist states; from the combat fatigues of the Castros to the parades of the People's Liberation Army.

John Everard, Britain's ambassador in Pyongyang from 2006-2008, is used to buttress Professor Myers's argument.  The late Kim Jong-il, he asserts, "was an unabashed admirer of Hitler and copied him quite consciously, down to details like the Nuremberg marches, which are staged in Pyongyang to this day."

The Dear Leader's true role models came from
places closer to home than Austria
How Mr Everard formed his impression is left unclear.  The ex-ambassador had previously acknowledged in a Korea Economic Institute podcast that contact with the North's leadership was well above his pay grade.  Whatever Kim Jong-il may or may not have felt about the Führer, however, it was the "Mao suit" made famous by the founder of the Chinese People's Republic he was always careful to be seen in, not a German greatcoat.

The Numeremberg connection is even more tenuous.  Vladimir Lenin institutionalised mass marches and rallies before Adolf Hitler was ever heard of, and they have long been used as tools of control and power projection in communist states.

The Romanian tyrant Nicolae Ceaușescu famously met his end after losing conrol of a rally in 1989.  The Kims' paymasters in the People's Republic of China have been more successful, holding a particularly extravagant one for their state's 60th anniversay four years ago.

Curiously, Mr Everard had previously described North Korea as having been "created by Soviet Army officers".  It was the men of the Red Army, not the Waffen SS, who took Kim Jong-il's father and "built [him] into a leader, [and] when they found that he commanded insufficient public respect, they built up around him a Stalinist cult of personality so that the country ended up being ruled by a god-king".

This brings us back to the portraits of Marx and Lenin.  Their (very recent) disappearance co-incided with the removal of a third portrait.  This one depicted North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung, the Great Leader who continues in the office of Eternal President within a glass coffin, modeled after the ones in which the corpses of Lenin and Stalin — his patron — were preserved.        


Mr Sweeney does not infer from this that Kim Il-sung's influence is at an end.  Indeed, he is at pains to stress the continuing importance of the deceased's cult of personality.  It seems more than likely that the removal of the three portraits was simply an aesthetic decision, with no wider significance.

In truth, however, it has never been common for foreign communists to be used in the propaganda of the DPRK.  It would run contrary to the spirit of Juche, the rather poorly understood governing ideology of North Korea adapted from the Soviet brand of communism by Kim il-Sung.

This is best summed up in the following passage from the Great Leader's seminal 1955 speech On eliminating dogmatism and formalism and establishing Juche in ideological work:

[T]he form of our government should ... be fitted to the specific conditions of our country.   Does our people's power have exactly the same form as in other socialist countries?  No, it does not.  They are alike in that they are based on Marxist-Leninist principles, but their forms are different. ... Many comrades swallow Marxism-Leninism whole, instead of digesting and assimilating it.  It is therefore self-evident that they are unable to display revolutionary initiative. ... Marxism-Leninism is not a dogma, it is a guide to action and a creative theory.  So, Marxism-Leninism can display its indestructible vitality only when it is applied creatively to suit the specific conditions of each country. 

In short, Kim il-Sung believed that his Propaganda Department was too slavish in its imitation of the USSR and Maoist China.  It would promote Soviet Five-Year Plans and hang paintings of Siberian landscapes, while local strategies and familiar scenery went neglected.  He warned that if Koreans were not taught to admire their own leaders, educated in the history of their own revolution and inspired with an affection for their own particular homeland, the Party would not be able to carry them with it.  

"If we mechanically apply foreign experience," he said, "disregarding the history of our country and the traditions of our people and without taking account of our own realities and level of preparedness of our people, dogmatic errors will result and much harm will be done to the revolutionary cause."


"To do so is not fidelity to Marxism-Leninism nor to internationalism; it runs counter to them."

So, was it failure on the part of Professor Myers and Mr Sweeney to appreciate these subtleties of Juche that explains their mischaracterisation of the DPRK as an "ultra-nationalist", "far-right" state?

I suspect not.  It seems instead to be a consequence of the peculiar tendency of those with left-wing sensibilities disavow any regime with negative attributes.  They use the Right as a sort of political dumping ground, into which they can deposit mercenary, laissez-faire capitalists, intolerant religious fanatics and atheistic totalitarians alike, despite their having nothing in common besides their obvious wickedness.


This control of the Left over political terminology is incredibly powerful.  It leaves the public with the impression that the Right is defined solely by aggression, bigotry, dictatorship and selfishness.  The widespread delusion that state socialism is "a good idea — in principle" has thus survived the depredations of  its practical application in a way that fascism has not, because people like Mr Sweeney can always rationalise that far-left regimes like North Korea's are not really left-wing.

Some on the Right have begun to resist this paradigm, thankfully: Lord Tebbit has pointed out the absurdity of the BBC describing of hardline Marxists within the Chinese Communist Party as "conservative".  Daniel Hannan has explained how the BNP's advocacy of state-ownership of industry and hatred of "banksters" makes it far-left, not far-right 
— and their leader agrees:



And what of that terrible exemplar of right-wing extremism, the National Socialist German Workers' Party?

One suspects that conservatives in the cast of Edmund Burke would reject its one-party dictatorship and its revolutionary character.  Modern libertarians, meanwhile, might take issue with its anti-capitalism and maintenance of strict gun control laws.

Perhaps it is significant that Sir Oswald Mosley progressed from Conservative backbencher to Labour Party minister before blossoming into leader of the British Union of Fascists?

*

For a more in-depth, rough-and-ready undercover documentary than Panorama's, try VICE Media's Inside North Korea:









Eagle-eyed viewers will notice in one of the videos that, somehow or other, North Korea has been penetrated by Teletubbies merchandise.  Clearly, there are some Western evils even the Bamboo Curtain is not proof against.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Hatred of The Left

What happened to that "innate sense of compassion"?
So much for the Tories being "the Nasty Party".

The passing of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher this Monday has generated a great upswell of bile from the political Left 
— that supposed font of compassion, fairness and equality.

"Rejoice!" rang the headline of the Socialist Worker, which also advertised a "Thatcher's Dead Special Pull-Out".


"Tramp the dirt down", tweeted Bradford MP George Galloway, ironically of the 'Respect' party.

David Hopper, the general secretary of the Durham Miners' Union who turned seventy on the same day, took to the airwaves to let viewers know he was "having a drink to it right now".

"It's a marvelous day", he added.  "I'm absolutely delighted.  It's my 70th birthday today and it's one of the best I've had in my life."

Meanwhile, the tasteless isthatcherdeadyet.co.uk 
— someone has actually taken the trouble to shell out for this domain name — has been amended to read simply YES, in towering letters.

"The lady's not returning", it gloats, before asking "How are you celebrating?"

"Everything you need to celebrate the big day!"

Some people, it would seem, are celebrating in the streets.  Public parties dominated by twenty-something students and petty criminals  who have never seen a hard day's work, never mind an actual coal pit  have now descended into violence, with at least six police constables injured (one seriously) and a charity shop in Brixton raided and vandalised.

(With the late Baroness's funeral still some time away, and revellers determined to mark the occasion in their own, hateful way, it seems likely that the worst is yet to come.)


Can all this venom be attributed purely to the "divisive" nature of Baroness Thatcher's premiership, or is it indicative of a broader left-wing psychosis? 

Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan has recounted, in a piece titled 'Memo to my Leftie friends: you'd feel better if you tried not to hate us so much', how Conservative Home editor Tim Montgomerie once attempted to put this challenge directly in the pages of the desperately unpopular (but highly influentialGuardian newspaper:


"Do you really think", he asked, "that Tory politicians take some sort of sadistic pleasure from inflicting pain on public sector workers and benefit claimants? I ask because I'm encountering a large number of people in the Labour movement who are determined to peer into Conservative souls and find the blackest of motives." 

Reading the replies in the 'Comment is Free' thread is instructive:



I suspect Osborne views public sector workers and benefit claimants in much the same way as I view livestock.


[H]ave you even met any Tories? They're like a cross between Fagin & Goebbels...


I don't belong to any party, but i can draw real comparison between Conservatives & Nazi's [sic].

"The idea that Conservatives want to take Britain back to a world of the Victorian workhouse ..." is absolutely correct.

[L]etting miners starve and hunger strikers die plus systematically decimating the working class doesn't quite compete with a bit of saliva on your blue rosette. [This in reference to Mr Montgomerie describing how a Labour activist spat in his face during the '92 election campaign.] No matter how many doors you open or how politely you eat your fucking soup.


I have always found [Conservatives] to be nasty, selfish, lying, despicable, evil, grasping, ignorant, duplicitous wastes of oxygen.


If the disgusting morons in the Tory party don't want people to think they take pleasure in stamping on the hopes of decent folk maybe they shopuld stop looking as if they're enjoying it all quite so much and start apologising for their rich city scumbag masters.

And, finally:



The Tories have opposed every progressive policy that sought to relieve the plight of the poor. If the Tories had their way we’d still have children working down the mines. ... Tories are only happy if they have some poor clod to look down upon and whom they can treat like shit. ... Tories are spivs by definition and are ruled by the motto - "I'm all right Jack - fuck you.

This last comment is particularly interesting insofar as it betrays gross ignorance of history: it was in fact a Conservative government under Robert Peel which put an end to the practice of employing young children (and women) underground in the mines in 1842.

The celebrated Tory reformer who had led the commission recommending this mines legislation, Lord Shaftesbury, would strike another blow against child labour in Britain with the 1875 Climbing Boys Act, piloted through Parliament by another Conservative government 
 this Benjamin Disraeli's.

For a more general flavour of the historic reforms in Britain which have been pioneered by conservatives, one could do worse than to give this video a few minutes of their time:




"Who controls the past controls the future", however, and "Who controls the present controls the past".

None of this information is helpful to the ideological adversaries of conservatism, who dominate the social narrative, so it disappears down the memory hole.  Crude smears such as "If the Tories had their way we'd still have children working down the mines" could not be thrown around with such abandon if all the facts were on the table, after all.

Those 'Comment is Free' remarks date from way back in 2010, it must be said.  The Left was still downhearted (and, up to a point, rightly shamefaced) following the end of New Labour's thirteen-year reign, and their rhetoric had lost much of its usual fire.

It has been rekindled in time for Baroness Thatcher's passing, three years later, however:








This is just a modest sampling of the rancour which has been offered up on social media, and relatively mild.

It comes as no surprise.  While the conservative, broadly speaking, views opponents as mistaken but ultimately well-meaning on a personal level, the Leftist seldom seems able to see anything in his enemies but sheer malevolence.

Those with opposing views are not simply people who view the world through a different lens, they are demoniac — and thus must be either exorcised or eradicated.

It is this small kernel of unreasoning hatred at the heart of Leftism 
 a kind of "liberal bigotry— which accounts not only for the sadistic, outspoken pleasure taken in the death of frail, sickly grandmother seen over these past days, but which leads, wherever the rule of law cannot restrain it, to its high-minded designs for egalitarian utopia inevitalbe transformation into something monstrous.

Comrades!  The insurrection of five kulak districts should be pitilessly suppressed.  The interests of the whole revolution require this because 'the last decisive battle' with the kulaks is now under way everywhere.  An example must be demonstrated.

  • 1. Hang (and make sure that the hanging takes place in full view of the people) no fewer than one hundred known landlords, rich men, bloodsuckers. 
  • 2. Publish their names. 
  • 3. Seize all their grain from them. 
  • 4. Designate hostages in accordance with yesterday's telegram. 
  • Do it in such a fashion that for hundreds of kilometres around the people might see, tremble, know, shout: "they are strangling, and will strangle to death, the bloodsucking kulaks". 

Telegraph receipt and implementation.

Yours, Lenin.

Find some truly hard people

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Willful Ignorance?

"I'm having a drink to it right now."
"It's a marvellous day", declared David Hopper yesterday, in an extraordinary display of bad manners and spite. "I'm absolutely delighted."

For the cigar-puffing general secretary of the Durham Miners' Association, the late Baroness Thatcher "perpetrated more evil in the north-east than anyone before or since."

"It isn't just about the coal mines. She set out to destroy unions. She decimated the industry, she destroyed our communities.”

A damning legacy, to be sure, if we we could confirm the veracity of Comrade Hopper's charges.

But do they stand up to scrutiny?

This PDF from the 'Durham in Time' website provides us with a helpful timeline of pit closures in the region, from 1950 all the way to 1993.  Surprisingly, given the strength of the prevailing narrative, it does not reveal a great 1980s holocaust of the Durham mines.  

Instead, it reveals that Margaret Thatcher closed a mere 15 mines 
— while Labour's Harold Wilson shut down 58.

Durham is not an exceptional case.  In fact, the Labour governments of the '60s and '70s closed down a substantially greater number of mines than Margaret Thatcher ever did, and put tens of thousands more miners out of work.

Indeed, they would have done more, but the Cabinet feared the electoral consequences.  Labour chose, in the words of one senior figure, "political sanity over economic madness".  The really dirty work, then as now, would be left for the Conservatives.

Was Harold Wilson's death marked by callous, vindictive jeering and lawless street parties, with the BBC taking every available opportunity to describe his disastrous, revolutionary premierships as "divisive"?

No.

We should not really wonder at this apparent cognitive dissonance, however.  It finds an almost exact parallel in the legend of "Thatcher the Milk Snatcher".  This is used as a rod for Conservative backs to this daydespite the fact that it was Labour which began the process of "snatching" free school milk in 1968 — and from more pupils than the then late Baroness ever did, too.

We should instead wonder that the Left has made such an excellent job of conquering the past, with the Right acquiescing to be robed in the mantle of perpetual villainy with no more than a sigh of resignation.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Chávez: A Retrospective


Commander Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías; patron to the Castro dictatorship, shill for the Chinese Communist Party and enemy of Britain and the Falkland Islanders, has died.  

The following comment, posted in response to a CNN article reporting the announcement, seems a fitting eulogy: 
Rest in peace, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías.  As a Venezuelan, I didn't agree with most of your policies and politics, but I do not rejoice in your death and I do respect the pain of your family and supporters.

In 1998, when you campaigned for the presidency 
— and promised to end corruption  despite my disappointment with the traditional parties, I did not support you because you had led a coup against president Carlos Andres Pérez.  I didn't like Pérez, but he was elected by our people and attempting to overthrow him was proof that you did not respect the will of Venezuelans.

I didn't oppose 100% of what you did.  I was grateful, for example, that you placed the issue of poverty on the table and you put the spotlight on millions of Venezuelans that until then had been excluded.  
I knew that the Cuban doctors in the slums were unprepared and unequipped, but I understood that they meant the world to the mother that knocks on their door at 3am. 

I was also happy of the way most Venezuelans started to care about politics again (some because they supported you; others because they opposed you).  The anti-politic feeling we saw in the 90's was precisely what got you elected.  And I also kept in mind that a majority of Venezuelans did support you, so you certainly had a right to be in office.


These are my 10 reasons why I will not miss you:

1. Your authoritarian manner (which reflected a flaw probably most Venezuelans have), and your inability to engage in an honest dialogue with anyone that opposed you.  Even from your death bed, you had a Supreme Court justice fired because she didn't agree with your politics.

2. Your disrespect for the rule of law and your contribution to a climate of impunity in Venezuela.  In 1999, you re-wrote the Constitution to fit your needs, and yet you violated it almost on a daily basis.  With this example, it is no surprise that crime exploded in Venezuela.  In 14 years, our homicide rate more than tripled from 22/100K to 74/100K.  While judges were busy trying to prove their political allegiance to you, only 11% of homicides led to a conviction.

3. Your empty promises and the way you manipulated many Venezuelans to think you were really working for them.  In 14 years you built less public housing than any president before you did in their 5 year periods.  Hospitals today have no resources, and if you go there in an emergency you must bring with you everything from medicines to surgical gloves and masks.  The truth is that you were better at blowing your own trumpet than at getting things done.

4. The astounding level of corruption of your government.  There was corruption before you got elected, but normally a government's scandals weren't made public until they handed power to the opposing party.  Now we've heard about millions and millions of dollars vanishing in front of everybody's eyes, and your only reaction was to attack the media that revealed the corruption.

The only politicians accused of corruption have been from parties that oppose you, and mostly on trumped up charges. For example, Leopoldo Lopez was never condemned by the courts but you still prevented him for running for office.  His crime?  Using money from the wrong budget allocation to pay for the salaries of teachers and firemen 
— because your government withheld the appropriate funds.

5. The opportunities you missed.  When you took office, the price of oil was $9.30, and in 2008 it reached $126.33.  There was so much good you could have done with that money!  And yet you decided to throw it away on corruption and buying elections and weapons.  If you had used these resources well, 10.7% of Venezuelans would not be in extreme poverty.

6. Your attacks on private property and entrepreneurship.  You nationalized hundreds of private companies, and pushed hundreds more towards bankruptcy.  Not because you were a communist or a socialist, but simply because you wanted no one left with any power to oppose you.  If everyone was a public employee, you could force them to attend your political rallies, and the opposition would not get any funding.

7. Your hypocrisy on freedom and human rights.  You shut down more than 30 radio and television stations for being critical of your government, you denied access to foreign currency for newspapers to buy printing paper (regular citizens can't access foreign currency unless you authorize it), you imprisoned people without trial for years, you imprisoned people for crimes of opinion, you fired tens of thousands of public employees for signing a petition for a recall referendum and you denied them access to public services and even ID cards and passports.

8. Your hypocrisy on the issue of Venezuela's sovereignty.  You kicked out the Americans but then you pulled down your pants for the Cubans, Russians, Chinese and Iranians.  We have Cuban officers giving orders in the Venezuelan army.  Chinese oil companies work with a higher margin of profit than any Western companies did.  And you made it clear that your alliances would be with governments that massacre their own people.

9. Your hypocrisy on the issue of violence.  You said this was a peaceful revolution but you allowed illegal armed groups like Tupamaros, La Piedrita and FBLN to operate.  You gave them weapons.  You had the Russians set up a Kalashnikov plant in Venezuela.  You were critical of American wars but yet you gave weapons to the Colombian guerrilla, whose only agenda is murder and drug-dealing.

10. Your hypocrisy on democracy.  Your favorite insult for the opposition parties in Venezuela was "coupists", but you forgot you organized a coup in 1992, and the military that was loyal to you suggested they would support a coup in your favor if the opposition ever won the presidential elections.

There was no democracy in your political party: you chose each of the candidates for the National Assembly and for city and state governments. When the opposition won the referendum that would have allowed you to change the Constitution in 2007, you disavowed the results and you figured out a way to change the articles and allow yourself to be reelected as many times as you wanted.

You manipulated the elections in 2010 to make sure the opposition didn't get more than a third of seats in Parliament even though they got 51% of the popular vote. Your democracy was made of paper, you made sure there were no meaningful checks and balances and all institutions were your puppets.


So no, Hugo I will not miss you. Rest in peace now, while we try to rebuild the mess of a country that you left us.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

In Defence of Narrative History

Michael Gove's draft History syllabus has been published, greeted with praise by popular historians and predictable scorn from academia's "Oxonian spires".

Historian Niall Ferguson, who advised on the new syllabus, offered a defence of the reformed curriculum in The Guardian, building on arguments first advanced at Jesus College in a debate with Richard Evans:

"Why do critics feel obliged to defend a status quo that so many teachers, parents and pupils agree is indefensible?"

"From Cambridge no less a personage than Richard Evans, the Regius Professor of History, condemned Gove's attempt to restore "rote learning of the patriotic stocking-fillers so beloved of traditionalists".

According to Evans, the new curriculum was "a Little England version of our national past, linked to an isolationist view of our national future". It constituted "a mindless regression to the patriotic myths of the Edwardian era".

From Oxford came the echo.  David Priestland said it was a "depressingly narrow … resolutely insular … politicised and philistine" document. "We are … firmly back in the land of the Edwardian bestseller Our Island Story."


...


Quite why the professors feel obliged to defend a status quo that so many teachers, parents and pupils agree is indefensible I cannot work out. Is it sheer ignorance? Or partisan prejudice?

Surely they can't sincerely think it's acceptable for children to leave school (as mine have all done) knowing nothing whatever about the Norman conquest, the English civil war or the Glorious Revolution, but plenty (well, a bit) about the Third Reich, the New Deal and the civil rights movement?"


Well, indeed  but Professor Ferguson has missed a trick here in his failure to take the anti-British "progressives" to task for their unjustifiable denigration of H E Marshall's wonderful Our Island Story.

This classic and beautifully illustrated masterpiece of the once-proud narrative tradition puts the drab and colourless style of most modern British historians to shame — devoid as they are of any true affection for their subject; adopting a slavish deference to "academic impartiality" wherever opportunities for modish, contemporary judgement do not present themselves.

I could not recommend the volume more highly 
— nor its companion volumes Scotland's Story and Our Empire Story.  




(Click on the images above for links to the books' Amazon pages.)

An enormous debt of gratitude is owed to organisations such as the 
Civitas Institute, which have worked to keep these marvellous books in print.