Monthly Archives: July 2010

The two sides to welfare

There are two kinds of welfare: one for those who are unemployed or disabled and another for private interests. Today, Iain Duncan Smith announced his plans for a shake up of the welfare system. Some of what he has said about those on benefits appears to be based entirely on popular myth and denial.

“After years of piecemeal reform the current welfare system is complex and unfair. For many people taking a job leaves them no better off than a life on benefits, and this has trapped significant parts of our society in inter generational worklessness and entrenched poverty.

Let’s have a look at “intergenerational worklessness” and what this means. Prima facie it appears that people simply refuse to take work because they can live on benefits. On the other hand, many people are reluctant to take work – including part-time work – because they would be worse off; this is something that IDS acknowledges. Anyone who has been forced to live on benefits will tell you that it isn’t easy and benefits don’t cover the rising costs of living. Few people choose to live a life of penury. But what about living wages? Many employers, particularly in the current climate are telling their workers that they must take a pay cut. Furthermore, many employers are keen to pay their workers as little as they possibly can in order to keep down costs (but will pay themselves performance bonuses). No one can survive on the minimum wage.

As for the “intergenerational” part of that phrase, what IDS seems to be saying is that worklessness is cultural; it is deeply entrenched ‘way of life’.  But was this situation created by the State or by claimants? What IDS and his supporters continue to ignore is that the manufacturing industries in which these claimants might have worked were all closed by the Thatcher government along with the mines. We have been told by this government that the numbers of private sector jobs will increase. But how will these jobs be created when the country’s manufacturing base has been destroyed? Not everyone can work in financial services!

IDS also claims that “dramatic amounts” of money [was] being wasted in overpayments. I need to see evidence of this. When I have been unfortunate enough to have to claim dole, I have never once been overpaid any form of benefit nor has anyone else that I know. Yet IDS seems to be saying that this is a frequent occurrence.

What the Tories really want to do is to scrap benefits altogether and force people to go cap-in-hand to charities (who will also face funding cuts). For them, benefits claimants represent a massive drain on the economy. By attacking people on benefits, they have found a people without a voice; without power. Meanwhile Lord Ashcroft, Zac Goldsmith et al can salt away their cash in offshore bank accounts and pay no taxes. Train Operating Companies (TOC’s) can still receive huge government subsidies and continue to offer a third rate service at a premium price. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the biggest recipients of state handouts are private companies; the TOC’s are among them.

This Times article from last year tells us that,

Last year, the eight largest franchises received a total of more than £800 million from the taxpayer. By 2012, they are due not only to receive no subsidy but pay a combined premium to the Government of more than £300million.

While the TOC’s pay the government back some money, they still make profits for their shareholders.  This Guardian article tells how last year the TOC’s were to receive £400m. For companies that are not making enough money, there is a state benefit called Revenue Support that they can claim.

National Express East Anglia, Virgin Trains and Northern Rail also qualified for revenue support last year. National Express East Coast, which agreed to pay the government a record £1.4bn but will relinquish the contract this year after admitting it could not afford it, did not qualify for support until the end of 2011.

The supported franchises could be joined by the remaining major routes over the next two-and-a-half years. Stagecoach’s South West Trains(SWT), which owes the government £1.2bn, will qualify for revenue support from next year if it wins a legal battle with the DfT. By the end of 2011 the list could include: East Midland Trains, also owned by Stagecoach; Arriva’s CrossCountry; Northern Rail; and Southeastern and London Midland, which are both owned by Go-Ahead.

Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper in the long term to nationalize the railways instead? The old private railway companies like the iconic GWR and LNER never received a penny in public money…but they also failed to make profits!

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Filed under Big Society, ConDem Budget 2010, Government & politics

The voting reform bill: a good opportunity for some partisan mud-slinging

Next time you may have to list preferences.

It is amusing the way some Telegraph bloggers are dealing with the proposed referendum of AV and the Labour Party’s response to it; it’s an other opportunity to engage in a little mud-slinging.

A couple of days ago, the Honourable Tobes complained that Labour and, in particular, Jack Straw, was being “opportunistic” in its opposition to the referendum. Honestly, some people have nothing better to do.  Here Young claims that

Straw’s excuse is that the bill paving the way for the referendum is also going to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 and redraw some constituency boundaries to equalise the number of people in each constituency. That’s bad news for Labour since Tory seats are, on average, more populus than Labour ones, meaning Labour candidates require a smaller number of votes to get elected than Conservatives.

Ah, but Straw may actually have a point. I guess neither Tobes nor any of the other supporters of this bill have considered this.  Instead they scream that Labour is being ‘unreasonable’ and that their worries are unfounded but how true is this?

Will Straw (Jack’s lad) notes the Electoral Commission’s investigation into under-registration earlier this year,

“The highest concentrations of under-registration are most likely to be found in metropolitan areas, smaller towns and cities with large student populations, and coastal areas with significant population turnover and high levels of social deprivation.”

So voters are an issue or, rather, the lack of them. I am also concerned with the coalition’s inference that they are being ‘impartial’. John Costello says,

By failing to factor them into his arithmetical review of constituency boundaries, Mr Clegg will be distorting the electoral map of Britain for good, and diluting the representation of people from poorer social groups in the process.

Poor people and people from minority ethnic groups are under-represented, yet this doesn’t seem to concern the coalition who bat the subject away with characteristic nonchalance. Labour are told to ‘go out and register some voters’. Costello continues,

The government’s boundary review promises to deliver the very antithesis of that objective. Now it’s true that over the past 13 years boundary reviews have been conducted on the basis of the existing, incomplete electoral registers. But not on the scale being proposed here (i.e. being used as the basis for chopping 50 seats), and the process was always balanced by the opportunity for public consultation.

So let me get this straight, there will be no public consultations? What happened to devolving power to the people? This article from the Independent says,

Cutting 65-80 seats by crudely equalising registered voters will simply reduce the number of seats in inner cities and areas that have devolved government (apart from London). In short, areas that never elect Tory MPs. This will be Florida-style gerrymandering of the electoral system, disenfranchising many of the most vulnerable people in society.”

Again, the coalition seems uninterested in this. Why? Is it political convenience? David Blackburn of The Spectator calls for Cameron to detach the boundary changes from the bill and notes that there is a sizeable number of Tory rebels. He also observes that “Bernard Jenkin, leader of the Tory rebellion, has the numbers to derail the bill”.

But AV is not PR and despite its supporters saying that “every vote will count”, it is little different to what we have already.

But the knives are out for Jack Straw but as this comment observes, the Lib Dems are rather fond of a little gerrymandering themselves.

The Liberal Democrats are the party for “Unequal Constituencies”. In the Scottish highlands and islands.

Hmmm… I wonder why that might be? It is a real puzzler.

The Lib Dems have handed the bill’s opponents an open goal with their H&I gerrymandering.

Ooops! Of course, an example of institutionalized gerrymandering exists across the Irish Sea where the Unionists have drawn and redrawn boundaries to preserve their majority and thus retain their grip on power in Northern Ireland. This was happening as recently as last year where unionists conspired to freeze out the SDLP from a committee.

Lisburn City Council breached its own equality agenda by excluding the SDLP from an important committee, the Equality Commission has found.

The party was not given a seat on the committee which is overseeing the council’s transition to a super council.

The truth of the matter is that any kind of voting reform must overseen and implemented by an outside body: this is normally the Electoral Commission. The redrawing of constituency boundaries is done by the Boundaries Commission. The Tories don’t want any change to the system and have done all they can to ensure that any bill is unpalatable to those who want change. The Lib Dems have clearly shot themselves in the foot on this issue: if the bill fails, they lose. If the bill succeeds they still lose. The only winners are the Conservatives and Labour.

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Left? Right? Useful?

The words right and left have been used to define party political positions since the days of the French Revolution. Le droit (the right) was represented by the clergy, the aristocracy and the monarchists. Le gauche (the left) was represented by anyone else who wasn’t born into the purple. In recent years, the words right and left have been described variously as “unhelpful” or “useless”. While this may often be the case – particularly when describing positions within political parties – it is all that we have and regardless of its flaws, it works.

Within the last few days I have witnessed a blatant (and Orwellian) manipulation of language so that the extreme-right appears to be extreme-left.  At least this is the case in the mind of Daniel Hannan and his supporters who seem to feel that the BNP are “left-wing” because there is a trace element of socialist economics in their policies. I say ‘trace element’ because whatever socialism there is within their economic policies is reserved only for les certains, in other words – as Griffin would describe them – ‘indigenous’ British. The BNP is not socialist and they are certainly not an internationalist party.

I often find that it is those on the Right who will shout the loudest about the right/left cleavage. Today another Telegraph blogger has waded into the fray. Gerald Warner shouts,

We have to get rid of this nonsensical vocabulary. The correct terminology for those who futilely seek to improve the world through some innovatory creed such as socialism is “radical”, “liberal” or, preferably, “progressive”, since that places some onus on them to explain to what destination they imagine they are progressing. In the more extreme cases they may be described as “revolutionary”.

The shouts are at their loudest when parties like the BNP or their predecessor, the National Front are described as ‘extreme right’.  It seems as though the problem stems from the fact that parties like the BNP, NF and of course the Nazis lean towards authoritarianism. According to commentators like Hannan or Tebbitt, authoritarianism and tyranny are characteristic of left-leaning regimes and will cite Stalin-era Soviet Union or Maoist China as examples. Apparently this is what happens when left-wing parties take power…or so they continue to delude themselves into thinking.

But they seem ever-so-sensitive about their assignment on the Right. Left-wingers don’t get this worked up.  Ed West says,

This is because, as Daniel Hannan wrote last week, the BBC and the wider liberal media conflates “Right-wing” with evil, even when it’s absurdly inappropriate, anachronistic or nonsensical (such as with the Iranian hardliners).

“Evil”?  Someone needs to grow up. Surely the Iranian hardliners are right-wing? Why get so upset about it? But the BBC are described here as ‘liberal’ when they are, in fact, rather conservative (witness the BBC’s response to the DEC request to air an appeal for the people of Gaza earlier this year).  Hannan was so enraged that he even claimed that,

A true Rightist believes that, other things being equal, the individual should be as free as possible from state coercion: a position equally abhorrent to socialists of the National or Leninist varieties.

His argument comes unstuck when Pinochet, Franco, Stroeßner, the Greek Generals or Salazar are offered as examples of right-wing tyrannies which, incidentally, were all trading partners of the so-called liberal democracies from the 1950’s through to the 1980’s.  For instance, Pinochet had the support of the Thatcher government, ostensibly because of Chile’s succour during the Falklands War. But this support was also ideological: Chile under Pinochet was brutally fashioned into  a model of free-market economics. This ‘miracle’ impressed Thatcher and those on the right of her party, who were referred to as the ‘Dries’.  The left of her party or the ‘Wets’ (or One Nation  Tories), on the other hand, were known to be dismayed. Curiously, in the 50’s and 60’s, some One Nation Tories were denounced for their ‘socialism’.

Stalin: left or right?

As I mentioned above, the Right will often use Stalin as a tactic to undermine the arguments of the Left, pointing to both Stalin’s character and his authoritarian regime. But if we have a closer look at Soviet-era ‘communism’ we see two things: first, there is the regime’s glorification and worship of the military – something that is consistent with fascism. Second, Stalin’s policy of ‘Socialism in one country’ was in direct conflict with socialism’s internationalism; it was nationalist in scope. We could argue that the thesis of  ‘socialism in one country’  gave rise to the former.  Related to Stalin’s doctrine was the need to keep the revolution at ‘home’: this was manifested in the way in which the public was kept in line: through coercion and repression.

Apart from the nationalism and the glorification of the military, Stalin’s USSR had a centrally planned and managed economy; there were no private companies; all economic activity was state-controlled. This is not necessarily the same as a commonwealth, where all the citizens of a nation share in the wealth created through common ownership.

In the so-called ‘free’ world, the act of consumption was regarded as ‘freedom’. However when we unpack this thesis we find that one has to have the economic means – in other words, the money – in order to participate; in order to be ‘free’. This message of ‘freedom’ was sold to the east as an ideal and when the Eastern Bloc collapsed in the late 1980’s, there was a headlong rush for consumer goods. How quickly ideas of freedom evaporated when it was discovered that the West’s ‘freedoms’ rested entirely on the means to consume. As a consequence we now see former Soviet satellite states adopting authoritarian and reactionary regimes.

The end of ideology is a myth

In the early 1990’s we were told by a succession of Right-thinking academics and politicians that we had reached the ‘end of ideology’. Fukuyama described it as the ‘end of history’. But have we come to the end of ideology or is this what the certain politicians want us to think?

One of Thatcher’s objectives was to ‘destroy’ socialism in Britain. How she was going to achieve this was anyone’s guess since, as the character V says in the film V for Vendetta, “Ideas are bullet-proof”.  People who espouse certain ideas can be killed-  often by the state – but their ideas refuse to die. The de-Nazification of Germany in the aftermath of WWII did not lead to a purging of all Nazis from Germany nor did it wipe from the memory the Nazi ideology. Nazi parties, as well as fascists ones, continue to exist in spite of the misguided efforts to eradicate their ideas.

I find it odd that no one has ever declared Conservatism or Liberalism dead, but many on the Right will erroneously claim that socialism is dead because of the collapse of the USSR. Even the Left bought into this idea and so the race was on among social democratic parties to make themselves appear slightly more right-wing. This included the abandonment of long-standing policies and the full embrace of neo-liberal economic policies in order to appeal to ‘floating’ voters. This became known as the Third Way.

Left-wing and proud

I will not apologize for being a left-winger nor will I erroneously claim that Franco was actually a left-winger in order to pervert historical materialism for the sake of ideology. The legacy of the Thatcher years has been to demonize anything that is vaguely left-wing; even the Labour Party fell into this trap when Kinnock expelled the Militant from the party. Labour then went on to reject anything that appeared or sounded slightly socialist. Why? Because 18 years of Tory rule created a culture of intolerance (just look at how loudly they shout about ‘political correctness’). The Tory-supporting press were more than happy to oblige in the ritualistic slaughter of an ideological enemy and so lies were told about left-wing councils in order to make them left look foolish, trivial and silly.

The Left is weak in Britain and it has only itself to blame for this sorry state of affairs. While the Right continue to thrive…but for how much longer?


Filed under Ideologies, Society & culture

Cheap tricks and smears. Welcome to the world of Dan Hannan

Hannan’s repeating the lie that the BNP is a ‘left wing’ party again in his blog. Only this time, he is involved in a spat with fellow Telegraph blogger, Damian Thompson. who says,

I really am bored of Right-wing Tories like my old mate Dan Hannan insisting that the British National Party is “far Left”. It isn’t. It’s on the far Right. Sure, the BNP’s economic policies reflect a version of socialism; it would create a monstrously intrusive, high-spending state not unlike those on the totalitarian Left. But, for crying out loud, let’s use some common sense here. Political parties are defined not just by their economic manifestos but also by their culture. And the culture of the BNP expresses a nationalist racism that is almost identical to that of European parties that everyone identifies as far Right, even if they are less statist and protectionist. This culture is a long way removed from Dan’s free market Whiggery; but then Dan is not on the far Right, just as (say) Will Hutton is not on the far Left and has almost nothing in common with the Socialist Workers’ Party. Calling the BNP Left-wing is like calling the Soviet apparatus Right-wing, as so many libertarian Lefties did in the 1970s. It’s a debating society trick, nothing more.

Quite right, Damian, quite right….it’s not only a debating society trick, it’s a cheap trick; a cheap and nasty trick.

Mad Dan’s headline reads “There’s nothing Right-wing about the BNP – except in the BBC sense of baddie”. I think that title reveals more about the man than he cares to admit.

Here, he falls back on a rather shaky piece of logic

The BNP, like all fascist movements, emerged from the revolutionary Left. It dislikes free enterprise, hates the rich and resents the monarchy. It markets itself as “the Labour Party your parents voted for” and its last manifesto promised “to give workers a stake in the success and prosperity of the enterprises whose profits their labour creates by encouraging worker shareholder and co-operative schemes”. Its support comes overwhelmingly from ex-Labour voters.

Wrong. The BNP was formed as a splinter group from the National Front whose precursor was Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. So what does this prove? Nothing whatsoever. Did Mussolini’s fascists emerge from the revolutionary left? No,  they did not. Mussolini may have, at one time, been a socialist but he was soon expelled for supporting WWI. he soon followed the lead of irredentist,  Gabriele d’Annunzio (who was a darling of the Futurists). Being expelled from a socialist party doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have taken socialism with you to forge into a new dynamic party of fascists. Yet, this is what Mad Dan assumes. Quite frankly, I don’t know what history this man has been reading but it is all wrong. Appealing to the working classes is pretty common for fashos, but actively incorporating them into the party’s leadership structure is something quite different. No far-right party has ever done this. In this way, the far-right shares something in common with the Tories. Remember the Primrose League? It was an attempt by the Tories to attract working class support in the 1880’s. But the working class never found themselves actually leading the League’s  local branches; they remained at the bottom of the hierarchy.

Then there are the Nazis:  Hitler was not and never was, a socialist.  While some of the Nazis may have, at one time, been socialists, they were either expelled or left the party of their own accord. Hitler was totally opposed to socialism from the outset. How on earth could he and his party be ‘left-wing’ when they were opposed to trade unions?

Hannan then quotes FA Hayek. This is a very bad move because Hayek isn’t exactly neutral in his ‘analysis’ of socialism; he wants to tie it to fascism and in so doing ignores the corporatist nature of fascism/Nazism in order to score a political point. The defence of Hayek appears to rest on a single premise: Hayek lived in Austria during the Dolfuss regime.  For Hannan, it is as if Hayek exists in some kind of ideological vacuum.

Read Hayek’s chapter on “The Socialist Roots of Nazism” in The Road to Serfdom,

No thanks, I tried Hayek and he made me sick….and he made the rest of the country sick when Thatcher adopted his philosophy.

This is pure gold,

In what sense, then, is the BNP Right-wing? Some argue that it is Right-wing to discriminate on the basis of race and nationality rather than class and income, but this would surely make Stalin, Gerry Adams, Pol Pot and Robert Mugabe very Right-wing indeed. A true Rightist believes that, other things being equal, the individual should be as free as possible from state coercion: a position equally abhorrent to socialists of the National or Leninist varieties.

When did Gerry Adams discriminate on the basis of race or even religion? You’re going to have to find some pretty solid examples, Dan; because your case is looking shakier by the minute. You do realise that there have been Protestant members of the IRA or did you think that the ‘Troubles’ was all about religion? Your take on the Right as ‘defenders of freedom’ is so risible that I can only say one thing by way of reply: Pinochet. Of course I could have said Franco or Salazar, but Pinochet was alleged to have presided over an ‘economic miracle’  that was, in part, informed by the theories of Hayek (as well as those of Friedman who was also influenced by the Austrian School).

As the blog nears its end, it becomes ever more batty. He shrieks,

No, there is only one sense in which the BNP is Right-wing, and that is the BBC sense. Our state broadcaster uses the epithet “Right-wing” to mean “disagreeable”

Do they? Is that like when “lefties” allegedly use the word “hate” when they mean “disagree”?  To be honest, I think you’re spending far too much time around Teabaggers, Dan.

One thing is clear from this blog and your blog of a couple of days ago: you don’t know your right from your left.

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Third Way, Third Position, Third Camp…it’s all bad news

I am not a fan of thirds; I am suspicious of anything that describes itself as a “third” something or other. What am I talking about? I am talking about the tendency of today’s politicians to claim that they are taking a political third ‘route’ –  for want of a better expression.They are dishonest with themselves and dishonest with the voting public.

We’ve had Third Way, Third Camp, Third position and Third Reich. I’ve had a belly full of them! The Third Way was espoused by Tony Blair and Bill Clinton; it was adopted by European social democrats as a way of appealing to wavering voters who would ordinarily vote for a conservative or Christian democratic party. In the process, the Third Way actually took social democrats further to the right, so that they were barely distinguishable from the left wing of conservatism. Proponents of the Third Way fell into the arms of the world’s bankers and now we live the consequences.

Third Camp was a Trotskyite position during WWII that was taken up by Max Shachtman and his followers. Third camp socialism was against all forms of imperialism, including Soviet imperialism. The Third Camp dissolved into various camps, some of them became social democrats who were avowedly ‘anti-communist’ in their rhetoric; others went on to form a variety of Trotskyite groupings. Third camp became nothing more than a shabby compromise and like the Third Way it was discredited and criticised by many Marxists – particularly as many Third Campers ended up becoming neo-conservatives.

The Third Position was an attempt by Euro-fascists to soften their line and present themselves as ‘nationalists’. It claims to oppose both ‘communism and capitalism’. Like the Third Camp, they want to appear neither left nor right but have a great deal of trouble concealing the fact that they both are racist and right wing. While Nick Griffin and the BNP have made piecemeal gestures to appease their critics, people like Patrick Harrington have tried to continue the ‘political soldier’ idea outside the BNP. I’ve actually argued with Harrington on a well-known political forum and he tries to c0me across as reasonable but always betrays his ‘true self’ through his comments on race, class and immigration. The Third Position is the bastard offspring of the Third Reich.

The Third Reich has been done to death. We know what it stood for and we know that we don’t want it.

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Hannan doesn’t know his right from his left. Quelle surprise!

I’ve heard it all before. The Nazis were ‘socialist’ because they had the word “socialist” in their name – Nationalsozialistiche Deutscher Arbeiter Partei. It is a smear and it isn’t a well-thought out smear either. The clue to the Nazis extreme right ideology is in the word “National”. But then, those people who referred to the Nazis as ‘socialists’ deliberately ignored the corporatist nature of the Nazi state for the sake of fallacious reasoning. The Nazis were no friends of the working class or the trades unions and neither are the BNP.

So when I had a peek at Hannan’s blog, I saw him pretty much repeating the same lie as the US right wingers I had encountered on Delphi Forums. In the title he declares that “The far- Left BNP has never supported the monarchy“. For someone who likes to pat himself on the back for his classical education, he seems to be a remarkably thick individual.  After all, didn’t David Cameron this week tell the US media that Britain was a “junior partner” during WWII? I wonder how Norman Tebbit reacted to that bit of news?  Maybe in Hannan’s eyes, Franco was a socialist too? How about Oswald Moseley? A lefty? Didn’t Edward VIII want Moseley to run the country as a fascist state?

What is ‘left’ about the BNP? Precisely nothing. Left wing parties don’t advocate repatriation, voluntary or otherwise. Left wing parties don’t claim to look after the rights of the “indigenous British‘, meaning white British.  Left wing parties don’t offer explicitly racist policies as a ‘solution’ to economic problems. More importantly left-wing parties aren’t corporatist – the BNP is very much a corporatist party. Even the extreme right wing union Solidarity cannot be considered syndicalist since it embraces corporatism – which rather contradicts the ostensible raison d’etre of a trade union.

Unless I am very much mistaken, Enoch Powell (who is Dan’s idol) was a member of the Conservative Party when he made the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. But Powell wasn’t the only Tory in the 60’s to express such views. On 5 April 1963 on the BBC’s Any Questions the flamboyant Tory MP, Gerald Nabarro made this remark,

“How would you feel if your daughter wanted to marry a big buck nigger with the prospect of coffee-coloured grandchildren”?

The former Tory MP, John Townend, talked of ‘niggers in woodpiles’. Yet, Dan would get his knickers in a twist if someone suggested to him that the Monday Club, Conservative Way Forward or Enoch Powell were fascists. Is it because the BNP are an extreme right wing party that he wants to make the spurious claim that they are ‘left’  so that the Tories may appear ‘softer’? If that is the case, then it doesn’t work. The BNP, like UKIP and the Tories are on the right of the poltical spectrum and no matter how hard you try, there is no way the BNP can ever appear to be a left wing party – particularly when its public school educated leader uses the phrase “indigenous British” as a codeword for ‘white’.

But is Hannan is trying to claim that the BNP are a left wing party because some bloke-in-a-pub wrote a blog on a website attacking the Queen?  The site that he links to is not an official BNP website. It claims to “support the BNP and to speak in defence of the United Kingdom’s indigenous population…” How does he know that this is, as he claims, a “prominent BNP supporting site”? To be honest, I’ve never heard of the Green Arrow and I’m pretty up-to-date when it comes to Britain’s fashos. But my question is, where does that place those Tories who regard themselves as republicans? I guess Dan forgot about them.

This New Statesman article was written in reply to Norman Tebbit’s identical claim that the BNP is a ‘left wing’ party.

A word of warning to Hannan and others who want to repeat this lie: this is not the United States and people in this country won’t fall for your smear tactics. Most people in Britain know the difference between the right and left and most people know that the BNP are fascists.

Conservative Clubs up and down the country welcomed members of the National Front – it was one of Britain’s worst kept secrets. Indeed some members of the NF would often participate in the Monday Club.  This Time article from 1973 says

More recently the Monday Club has been torn by internal rebellion; there is some evidence that members of Britain’s small, neo-fascist National Front are moving to take over some of the club’s branches.

Okay, that was 1973 and a lot of NF members were expelled but there is little to distinguish the Monday Club from the NF or indeed, the BNP who were formed as a splinter from the NF. Their ideologies are quite similar too: Britain for the [white] British.

In the US, the terms right and left have been generally replaced by the words “conservative” and “liberal”. I remember once correcting someone who said that Stalin was a ‘liberal’. He was a nationalist (socialism in one country) and an authoritarian bully, that makes him little different to a reactionary conservative – like Augusto Pinochet.

For all the talk about the end of ideology and the end of the right/left dichotomy, we are still stuck with right/left whether we like it or not. But to describe an avowedly fascist party as ‘left wing’ truly beggars belief.

Finally, I once referred to Thatcher as ‘fascist’ in the 1980’s. An old socialist overheard me, pulled me over and gave me a good telling off. “She’s not a fascist”, he said. “She’s a reactionary conservative, there’s a big difference”. He was right. Pity some Tories can’t learn a similar lesson. No?

Edited to add: Since the general election in May, Nick Griffin has lost a good deal of support  and many are calling for him to resign. It should come as no surprise that there are some serious splits in the party. The Green Arrow actively calls for Griffin to step aside. This blogger isn’t a fan of the Green Arrow.

With no BNP website due to Griffins ineptitude/corruption and downright maliciousness, people are turning to the Green Arrow forum/blog to have their say, unfortunately due to the obvious ineptitude of Paul Morris’s, the imbercile and long time Griffinworld lickspittles, leadership (sic), they can’t fully have their say there either.

I like the way this bonehead spells the word ‘imbecile’.

On Nothing British, they urge the BNP to distance itself from the monarchy-hating Green Arrow.

Yesterday, Nothing British exposed the BNP-supporting Green Arrow blog, run by Paul Morris, for calling Her Majesty a “liar and traitor to her own people” and called for “treason” and “sedition”.

Someone clearly hasn’t done their research. Eh, Dan?

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Douglas Murray, missing in action

I haven’t seen our Dougie since his mad blog in The Daily Torygraph at the end of June. Either he’s keeping a low profile or he’s slinked off somewhere with his tail between his legs – and so he should.

His blog on 29 June was a disgrace and revealed a nasty racist streak.  Of course, he denies he is racist but  some of his rants on Question Time indicate to me, at least, that he has some issues with certain cultures.  As for those who dare to mention racism, he dismisses them as ‘politically correct’. Yes, it’s ‘politically correct’ to dare suggest that racism still exists in Britain. We’re all white now, don’t you know…

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One more time with feeling…

I’ve just noticed this Spectator article from the Honourable Tobes.

If you click on ‘About the IOE’, you’ll see the following sentence: ‘Our distinguished history and current mission are rooted in a commitment to social justice.’ Now you’d think that a taxpayer-funded teacher-training college would be a little more circumspect about disclosing its ideological bias, particularly if its lecturers are hoping to be quoted as impartial authorities when it comes to assessing Conservative policies. But no. That’s perfectly normal.

Is social justice ideological or is it the case that right-wingers applaud social divisions and inequalities? Are you some kind of social Darwinist, Tobes?

The IoE is not simply “teacher training college”, it is a federated college of the University of London that specializes in education and matters that relate to it. I actually did my PGCE and my Masters there.

In his eagerness to paint the IoE as some kind of hotbed of left-wing radicalism he says,

These suspicions are heightened when you click on an issue of IEOLife, one of two magazines published by the ‘Institute’. It contains an article on the work of CAPLITS (Centre for Academic and Professional Literacies), an organisation that teaches students ‘how to… express meaning effectively.’ CAPLITS is a masterstroke of satirical invention.

CAPLITS exists to support students whose first language isn’t English and to give support to those who aren’t familiar with academic writing, you dolt. Not everyone can write in an academic style, which is necessary for any kind of written work in Higher Education. Perhaps you would prefer academic work to be delivered in er, text speak? My current university has something called The English Language Centre. Other universities will have a similar department. So what’s the problem?

“Fools rush in”, as the old saying goes.

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Buzzwords Beyond Idealism: Freedom, Choice and Big Society (via mrkirkman’s blog)

This fits with the blog that I just made.

Apart from ‘cuts’, ‘deficit’ and ‘it’s all Labour’s fault’, three other political buzz-phrases have been knocked about the past couple of weeks – some of them not so new. Freedom. Choice. Big Society. They, of course, all sound exciting, positive and perhaps even solutions to the problems our public services face. But these catchphrases are beyond idealism. The reality behind each is that whilst some may reap the benefits, those for whom our publ … Read More

via mrkirkman's blog

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Free schools? More like ‘Me First’ schools

Toby Young regularly gets his knickers in a twist over any criticism of his cherished free schools. Indeed, anyone who doesn’t share the Honourable Tobes’s view on free schools is a ‘loony left-winger’. Of course he would deny that  his support for free schools is ideological. Ideology is what those horrid left-wingers have, not Tobes.

Here he lambasts an Institute of Education report that Swedish free schools have created segregation within the system, what Ed Balls has described as “educational apartheid”,

I don’t think I’ve ever come across a richer source of politically correct gobbledygook. Among its many delights it contains a passage on ‘transpeople’, defined as people who’ve undergone ‘gender reassignment surgery’. You wouldn’t have thought there’d be many of them at the Institute, but that hasn’t stopped the ‘Gender Equalities Officer’ from coming up with a series of pledges designed to protect their rights. She promises to ensure that ‘our equal opportunities policies… do not discriminate against transpeople — especially in terms of dignity at work’ and that ‘trans perspectives are included in equality impact assessment processes’.

Marvellous isn’t it? A whole policy devised just in case a post-op transsexual ever enrols at the Institute. The ‘Equalities Officer’ (fresh from her last berth on a Soviet nuclear sub) promises to include the policy as ‘part of the mandatory equality training’.

You know something? I can’t take this tripe seriously. Young is what Americans would call a ‘blowhard’ and what Scousers would refer to as a ‘gobshite’. All he thinks he needs to do is accuse the IoE of “political correctness” and make a desperate attempt to link the Institute with Soviet-era political officers and the job is done.  Weak.

But this is even weirder,

If this repository of Left-wing claptrap is going to be allowed to dictate the Government’s education policy then God help us all.

“Left wing claptrap”? Blimey, you’re on fire today! By the way, the IoE is an internationally renown institution and certainly has a better track record on educational matters than pushy parents like you, Tobes. Which reminds me, have you ever taught in a school? Do you have a PGCE? No, you don’t. Just because you’re a parent, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you are some sort of expert on formative education.

So how will free schools formulate their admissions policy? Presumably admissions will be the responsibility of the parents who run the school. Young’s borough,  Ealing,  has the highest concentration of private and independent schools in London. Places for state schools are limited and hard fought over. Instead of building new state schools, the coalition has decided to create a system that will eventually exclude those who do not meet the whimsical admissions criteria of the free schools. So where will those pupils go? Oddly enough, the Honourable Tobes hasn’t got an answer for that. Furthermore, he doesn’t care.

I find it revealing that Young ignored some of the more important points contained in the report. For instance, the report’s author, Suzanne Wiborg, discovered

that while free schools improved pupils’ results at the age of 15 or 16, there was no difference in results between free school pupils and children at other schools by the equivalent of A-level.

She says,

“The advantage that children schooled in areas with free schools have by the age of 16 is not translated into greater achievements later in life as they score no better in the final exams at age 18 and 19. They are no more likely to participate in higher education,”

Wiborg also found that,

local authorities had to pay for costly surplus school places and that the planning which went into allocating student places had become complex and expensive.

So who says this won’t lead to, as Balls puts it, educational apartheid? But we should recognize where all of this comes from: school league tables. Pub darts teams belong in leagues, not schools (well, maybe their sports teams do).  One can point to a school and say it fails because of factors  X, Y and Z. But whose fault is it that a school ‘fails’? Is it the pupils? The teachers? The governors? The LEA? This form of manufactured competition is not only divisive, it is corrosive and we can see its effects on those schools that at the bottom of the league tables. We also need to remind ourselves who introduced the idea of the school league tables in the first place. It was the last Tory government under John Major, who also introduced targets and benchmarks. The Honourable Gobshite seems to have ignored that important point too. Quelle surprise!

I noticed this in The Morning Star (I can see Tobes preparing to fulminate already).

But coalition cracks appeared when Lib Dem MP David Ward declared that Mr Gove’s Bill was “leading to what could be a nasty accident.”

He warned it would lead to “a fragmentation and a weakening of the state school system.”

And he feared that the British National Party would have a group of parents applying to set up a “free school” within a year.

Exactly, so who is going to stop BNP and other fascist-minded parents from setting up a free school? Not you, Tobes.  And certainly not Michael Gove.

What about disabled children? I can some of these schools refusing admission simply on the grounds of not having an access ramp outside… or citing the lack of an access ramp as a cover for something else.

Freedom is a state of mind; governments can’t give you freedom, only you can do that for yourself. Free schools are for those who don’t want their child to associate with those oiks from the estate over the road.


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