July 2010

Civil liberties and human rights

An MP, a journalist, and others, need your support

Philip Hollobone MP Philip Hollobone MP
A lot of people are finding it funny, going on odd, that the UK organisation called Liberty is, in so many words, offering to take MP Philip Hollobone 'to the cleaners'. All this because of his views of the burka. The Independent has the letter to Hollobone from Liberty, it's almost gleeful in the way it's worded, a posh version of the veiled threat, "c'mon make my day". They might be right and he might be wrong, or perhaps the other way around. The fact is, a bit like Nulabour, Liberty look like they are yesterday's people. And another fact is, again like Nulabour, it's all their own fault. Liberty and its Head Honcho, Shami Chakrabati, are a regular feature of the media circuit. Theirs is a rather priggish double act, they know best and right from wrong, but alas that's all they know. If they were in a sales and marketing team living off commission they would starve to death. You may wonder how such an organisation can, so effortlessly, get so many people's backs up.

The Big Society versus chilling out

Big society or cafe society, which to choose?

Gosh! Cafe society looks to be both fun and fullfillingGosh! Cafe society looks to be both fun and fullfilling
I have a feeling that before the general election few people took much notice of David Cameron, or anyone from the Tory Party for that matter, going on about 'The Big Society' (TBS). While this was one of Cameron's pet subjects, he did indeed go on about it a great deal, there was so much else to consider. For example there was the economy, a subject both complex and boring. Most people knew, instinctively, that the cuts like the hidden costs would be considerable when they came to be known. There was also the ghoulish factor, watching Gordon Brown and Nulabour disintegrate.

Another thought was that the Tories would get an overall majority and quietly drop TBS having only talked about it to make them sound a bit leftie. Well here we are in the age of the coalition and now here comes TBS for real. Now imagine this is the TV show University Challenge, "your starter for 10 points and no conferring, what is The Big Society"? - - - - - - - - "I shall have to hurry you"! As so few people I've challenged seem neither to know nor care I think Cameron has got himself into trouble here. I wonder if some Tories are annoyed about this? If so it's their own fault. So c'mon, TBS, what is it?

If you search you will find opinions galore on what might happen if TBS goes right.

AGW, Melanie Phillips explains

Science comes second now

Camouflage, science well hidden!Camouflage, science well hidden!
Here at this blog Richard North is greatly admired. It's been a long term plan to try to add a little more to the great global warming debate, or lack thereof. But there have been problems. North, with Christopher Booker of the Telegraph, are so good at this subject that there's not much left over. They have taken on all comers without fear: Dr Pachuri, Al Gore, even George Monbiot. All have been damaged in the process, taken down a peg-or-two.

We've been here before?

Weasel words again

Not very fierce?Not very fierce?

Let us just get some of the excellent legislation passed such as: the scrapping of ID cards, the NIR, ContactPoint, the rolling back of DNA retention and terrorism powers and then it would be sensible to have another election.

Mr Cameron began by talking in clear sentences but is now beginning to equivocate and sound like Gordon Brown. He says that we shall withdraw from Afghanistan when we have trained enough Afghan police and soldiers: "We must continue to work with the Afghan army to create a stable Afghanistan able to maintain its own security and to prevent al-Qaida from returning."

An example of French dress sense?

Cross party consensus versus one man and his money?

The burka - keep your money in your pocket Mr Nekkaz?The burka - keep your money in your pocket Mr Nekkaz?
"One to watch", as they say. The French have taken a stand on the burka, with some force too, only one MP voted against introducing the ban. This is going to be very interesting as an opposition movement is being formed, funded by a wealthy Algerian, Rachid Nekkaz.

He insists that the ban, which was approved by the lower house of parliament on Tuesday and is set to be ratified by the senate in September, is "anti-constitutional" and a move that could put France on a slippery slope towards greater intolerance.

Well it does all depend upon what you think intolerance is, Nekkaz also said -

I think this would never happen in the United States or the United Kingdom … France is a country which is not scared to compromise its principles, he said.

Unlike the typical country where Islam is the majority religion? Lessons on intolerance to the French might not be a good idea. France was very welcoming to black jazz musicians at a time when mixed race bands were not possible in the United States. In another report we see how this move had true cross party political support.

The Three Musketeers* turn to writing

The Prince and the people's party

The pen is mightier than the sword? The pen is mightier than the sword?
With comedians a sense of timing is vital, it appears to be the same with memoirs. As we see HERE Gordon Brown is still typing his and, recalling those speeches by Tony Blair, the ones he peppered with pauses for dramatic effect, perhaps his typing stops dead now-and-then too, for the great big book from Blair is rumoured to be still months away from publication. If as reports suggest Brown is typing 10,000 words a day, although the man was prone to fibbing, all eyes will be on the work by Peter Mandelson. For his book is the first to appear, first past the post if you like and no, this is not, for once, the main point. What is of real interest is the length of it and the estimated speed of typing, as the question must be-"when did he start writing it"?

Education, education, education!

Learning the hard way?

Is university employment really that secure? Is university employment really that secure?
Naturally the Spectator finds it hard to say anything good about Gordon Brown, funny yes, good no! An article by David Blackburn was especially funny as it homed in on the attempt, or so it would seem, by Brown to get himself into the record books. When in government many people accused Brown of lying, well even in opposition (or should that be exile?) fantasy and the ex-PM are together. Brown is writing his memoirs and it's the size of the thing that's suspicious. Let Blackburn explain -

If you think your life’s an unremitting tragedy, pity the proof reader at Gordon Brown’s publisher. The late and unlamented Prime Minister has been out of office for 58 days, typing 10,000 words a day. That’s 580,000 words already. Tolstoy took 4 years and 460,000 words to write War and Peace, Cervantes needed 10 years and nearly 500,000 words to write Don Quixote, and the Bible is 783,000 words. 580,000 words typed by a partially sighted man with maybe 30 years to live.

The Nucoalition fails to spot etc

The Deputy PM and Foreign Secretary make us laugh (intentionally?)

They're laughing now,but later? They're laughing now,but later?
"Are we nearly there"? The cry of the bored traveller who has not kept alert on the journey, disappointed to be still on the train but not at the destination. When Nick Clegg, with an almost child-like approach, asked us to say which laws we wanted him to magic away he had not been more then half awake.

Perhaps like a child on the way to the seaside he had nodded off, lulled by the motion, and had dreamt all was well. Poor man! His plan was for us to direct our attention to the pettiness of government, he would do the rest. What happened was that many people, well aware a lot of government is awful, said they were more than happy to let this stand, for a while. But what they would really like would be for large chunks of legislation that have come from the EU to be removed first. Clegg, as an ex-MEP, had only himself to blame for this pratfall. Is this the sort of mistake the Deputy PM should be making?

However, the devoted EU supporter is always of the opinion that the UK public is further on than 'nearly there' when it comes to the EU. They like to think that 'the journey', the act of acceptance, is over. We have arrived and we are all so happy with out lot.

William Hague, or some journalists on his behalf, tried something similar.