1 May 2008 2:02P
‘As I understand it, this strike was about closing the final salary scheme to new workers. If so, then it is a disgraceful abuse of power by union leaders. What basis is there to strike about non-workers?’
I’d say there is at least as much right for union members to fight to protect the working conditions of their children as there is for whinging middle-englanders to moan and whine that they can only leave 300k tax free to their children.Why is it that the only way for the future to be affordable is to forever slice away what little those at the bottom have whilst those at the top continue getting more and more, can’t we start slicing from the top?
2 May 2008 10:03PM
‘Nothing in politics is certain, but today’s Cameron is looking very much like tomorrow’s prime minister.’
Not sure you can win a general election without actually putting some policies forward. Also it would be interesting to see whether the Tory vote has dramatically increased or whether, like me in the last few local elections, many Labour supporters are so pissed off with the ‘New Labour’ experiment (read putsch) that they just said sod ‘em and went down the pub. As for Boris as Mayor can his minders keep his mouth shut for 2 years the guy’s a walking time bomb for the spin doctors.
The best thing about living in Scotland is that independence is our get-out-of- Tory- Britain card – will be interesting to see what happens to the support for a referendum if the Tories look like winning the next election.
12 May 2008 11:51AM
One of the major problems the Tories have is that it will be difficult to go into a general election without any policies. So far they have planned to match Labour spending on virtually everything and reduce taxes. On the few occasions policies have been discussed they have been in a mess, grammar schools and John the Vulcan’s review being just two. Much of the disquiet with Labour lies with the creeping privatisations which the Tories support, foundation schools, contracted out health services etc This disquiet, along with pay policy is already leading to growing unrest in the public sector and if the Tories win we could see a wave of strikes on a scale not seen for some years, especially as unions have now found out how to work within the anti-union legislation. On Europe we will see many Tories moving to a total ‘let’s get out of the EU’ position as they compete with UKIP for votes and the old divisions will resurface. The Tories will also have to say how they will deal with Scotland as the pressure from Edinburgh for ever-greater control, if not outright independence, mounts. What will they do about Iran and Afghanistan, what is their energy policy especially with regard to the poor, how will they regulate the city, what taxes will they cut for the rich? In short the Tories have done well so far by saying very little but that can’t last forever.
23 May 2008 10:52AM
‘The Conservatives won in Crewe because we attracted lower income voters abandoned by Labour: now we can push for a historic realignment’
You didn’t attract anyone, NEW Labour repelled many of it’s core voters who for some time now have been unable to distinguish between this sorry bunch of right wingers and public school boys and your bunch of right wingers and public school boys.
23 May 2008 5:22PM
‘”Add to this the theft of the national family silver – the sale of industries of which we were all part owners,”
In what way were you, or anybody else, a “part-owner” of those industries? Could you sell your share? No. Did you have a vote at a General meeting? No. Did you have any say in who ran them? No. Did they provide you with free services? No. Could you demand employment from them? No.
Exactly what attribute of “ownership” do you say you had over those industries?’
How about this:
Unlike shareholders in private companies I could actually remove the board (ie the government) via a vote.
Unlike utilities companies today the pressure I could bring to bear on the government would mean that it would be much more difficult for them to increase my energy bills by 16% in the autumn and then warn me that they are expecting to increase prices again by between 25-40% later in the year – all the while posting record profits, huge dividends and large scale remuneration for their executives.
The publicly owned industries were never government-owned, they were government run mutuals bought and paid for by the people of the country for the benefit of the people of the country.
How about the privatisation of the TSB:
‘In 1984 the government published a White Paper and a new TSB Bill, in which the quasi-federal decentralised structure was abandoned in favour of a single central organisation which was no-longer legally unique but incorporated under the Companies Act 1985. The purported aim was to give the then-called TSB Group a more effective operating structure and also establish clear guidelines for ownership and accountability, neither of which was clear under former legislation. The government, however, profited from the sale of the bank, as it received the value of the flotation without at any point paying any sums for the ownership of the bank’s assets.’ those assets having been paid for over many decades from the proceeds of the savings of the poor and middle class communities, largely in the north of England, that they served.
26 May 2008 6:26PM
‘Our new economic approach is rooted in ideas which stress the importance of macro-economics, post neo-classical endogenous growth theory and the symbiotic relationships between growth and investment, and people and infrastructure.’
I will be glad to see the end of the right wing corporatists who have hijacked the party since the death of John Smith. I am also looking forward to the next Tory administration trying to explain how they will cut taxes for the rich at the expense of the poor – I’m sure I’m not the only person who has got a disk full of quotes from Osborne and Cameron’s opportunistic championing of the 10p tax rate ready to pull out and bash them over their public school skulls with.
17 May 2008 7:53PM
‘Baroness Thatcher made a brave effort to cut down on the burgeoning number of “non-jobs” created under the previous Labour government.’
‘the surprising message of these figures out today (pdf). These show that there are now 4.18 private sector workers for every general government employee. That’s down from 4.43 when New Labour took office. But it’s higher than the 3.89 ratio in 1993.’
‘Contrary to public image, Thatcher did not slash government jobs. The old figures show that general government jobs grew slightly between 1979 and 1988.’
figures available show that public sector employment as a % of total employment was as follows:
In 1992 public sector employment was 23.1% of the total, this dropped to 19.2% in 1999/2000 and had risen by 2007 back to 19.8% of the total, but hey why should right wing idiots allow anything as ridiculous as the facts get in the way when the Daily Mail with the execrable Littlejohn to the forefront have shown you don’t need facts if you pander to ignorance and bigotry.
‘I think it is pretty much accepted that average public sector pay is now higher than that in the private sector’
This is a disingenuous argument given that many of the lowest paid public sector jobs were outsourced such as hospital and school cleaning and catering and the already low pay on offer was cut further to allow the private companies to profit at the expense of their workforce.
24 May 2008 3:06PM
‘so why the sudden surge amongst the working class people of Crewe who are, goodness me, voting Tory…’
Crewe remained solid Labour even during the early 80′s when Thatcher used the Falklands War boost to call a snap election. Voting Tory as opposed to NEW Labour is not as shocking as at first might appear as the Tory Party at least gives the impression of actually being to the left of NEW Labour on some issues, that is how far away from their core this fucking disaster of corporatist careerist opportunists has taken the party – they didn’t vote Lib Dem because they wanted to make sure that Brown got the message that he and his cabinet are such an unmitigated disaster that even the Tories would be preferable if he doesn’t get off his ass and sort it out.
Care to provide evidence for this huge army of ‘feckless’ given that more people are in employment than ever, the number of unemployed is, even including those in IB, comparable to our European competitors, JSA has been reduced in real value by over 50% since 1979, the New Deal imposes on the long term unemployed such delights as a compulsory 13 week full time course run by a private company such as A4E, the number of vacancies is widely put at 650,000, there is the impossibility of restricting immigrants from within Europe coming to work in the UK…
Freedom of Speech
23 May 2008 9:12PM
The problem is that governments over the last 30 or 40 years have forgotten many of the conventions of power such as not passing over powerful laws that can be used against the people. Virtually every law now has a general purpose clause designed to make it easier for a prosecution or harder for the defence – we see the erosion of ‘public interest’ defence, we see the government using ‘national interest’ and ‘commercial confidentiality’ to prevent the public from knowing what it’s government is doing. The UK government is one of the first to lie down and acquiesce when the US demands the right to impose extra – territorial laws on our people, we have demands for the maintenance of huge databases whose only purpose, given the impossibility of monitoring them in any meaningful sense, must be to allow the ‘security services’ to go on fishing expeditions. We see anti-terrorist laws being applied to old men who have the temerity to shout at Saint Tony or to selfish parents seeking to get their child into a particular school.
20 May 2008 9:47PM
It may seem new and alarming, but it’s an old story. The communications data bill, announced in the draft Queen’s speech, includes proposals for a massive new government database that will allow the Home Office to keep details of every telephone call made, every email sent, and every web page browsed by anyone in or through the UK.
‘An estimated 45 billion text messages will be sent during 2007, representing 3.75 billion per month or 123 million messages per day. ‘
Good luck finding the one where I describe exactly what I would like to do to the right wing bastards who hijacked the Labour Party during the 1980′s.
Another reason for voting for independence from the UK when we finally get pissed off enough with these lunatic right wing tendencies and decide Scotland can’t be any worse off going it alone.
4 May 2008 1:44AM
‘Your comments about the USA are meaningless as we already have long-established commercial stations in the UK running ad breaks with NONE of the issues you mention above.’
and how long would this continue without the BBC being around?
The thing is competition is a 2-way thing and just as the BBC is dumbing down to compete with the commercial stations the commercials are competing against the BBC in terms of News, current affairs etc. In fact the BBC has even affected US TV as without intervention from the BBC with an offer of funding it may well be that Michael Moore would never have been seen on TV.
‘The TV Nation pilot show … got tremendously positive responses from test audiences, but plans for a series were put on hold simply because NBC couldn’t find a space in their schedules for the show.
The TV Nation story might have ended there but for the intervention of Michael Jackson – not the singer, but a namesake who was then head of BBC2. He heard about the show, requested a tape of the pilot episode from NBC, and loved what he saw enough to offer BBC financial backing for a series.’
26 May 2008 12:44AM
The press, at least in democracies where free speech is encouraged, were given particular privileges:
- access to powerful and influential figures – right to protect sources – right to immunity from certain laws, for example the CRE couldn’t investigate newspapers for stories they printed
In return for these privileges the press were expected to fulfil their constitutional function and keep an eye on those in power acting as a check on misuse of authority.
What do we have in the UK today?
Endless stories about whether some minor celebrity was wearing knickers Comment pieces by such as the execrable Littlejohn being treated like Tablets form the Mount Prostitutes being paid a fortune for kiss and tell stories Rupert Murdoch as the new Earl of Warwick ( look it up yourself you lazy bastards)
The last time I can recall being impressed by a journalist was when Paxman interviewed Michael Howard, video here:
Why do we still have the lobby system? If someone in power has something to say they put their name to it or they shut the fuck up. Why are politicians allowed to choose who they will be interviewed by? they need the publicity more than we need their bollox, let them answer real questions from real journalists or tell them to go to hell; Richard & Judy is not the forum for political debate. The Today programme has become a parody of itself; the 24 hour news stations prefer to have Jane Hill standing outside a door in Portugal for weeks rather than investing their time in making investigative programmes that were common some 25 or more years ago such as This Week, World in Action etc. ITV has apparently given up serious journalism completely and the US media has effectively been silenced by their inability to criticise the corporations who own them and buy their advertising.
Political Corruption and Corporate Influence
6 May 2008 5:23PM
‘Allow us to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your first year as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the ExxonMobil Corporation. You will become the public face of an undisputed leader in the world energy industry, and a company that plays a vital role in our national economy. As that public face, you will have the ability and responsibility to lead ExxonMobil toward its rightful place as a good corporate and global citizen.
We are writing to appeal to your sense of stewardship of that corporate citizenship as U.S. Senators concerned about the credibility of the United States in the international community, and as Americans concerned that one of our most prestigious corporations has done much in the past to adversely affect that credibility. We are convinced that ExxonMobil’s longstanding support of a small cadre of global climate change skeptics, and those skeptics access to and influence on government policymakers, have made it increasingly difficult for the United States to demonstrate the moral clarity it needs across all facets of its diplomacy.
Obviously, other factors complicate our foreign policy. However, we are persuaded that the climate change denial strategy carried out by and for ExxonMobil has helped foster the perception that the United States is insensitive to a matter of great urgency for all of mankind, and has thus damaged the stature of our nation internationally. It is our hope that under your leadership, ExxonMobil would end its dangerous support of the “deniers.”
A study to be released in November by an American scientific group will expose ExxonMobil as the primary funder of no fewer than 29 climate change denial front groups in 2004 alone. Besides a shared goal, these groups often featured common staffs and board members’ http://opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110009337
13 May 2008 6:19PM
… ‘On Tuesday, May 20, 2003, Lomborg will receive the Julian L. Simon Memorial Award from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, established in honor of the man who inspired Lomborg’s book….
CEI is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy group dedicated to the principles of free enterprise and limited government.’ http://www.scienceblog.com/community/older/archives/K/1/pub1251.html
‘ExxonMobil Corporation was a major donor to CEI, with over $2 million in contributions between 1998 and 2005. In 2002 the company gave $405,000; in 2004 it gave CEI $180,000 that was earmarked for “global climate change and global climate change outreach.’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Competitive_Enterprise_Institute
‘The business-backed Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) released two ads last week to “counter global warming alarmism.” One of the ads says research shows “The Antarctic ice sheet is getting thicker, not thinner. . . Why are they trying to scare us?”
Actually, scientists say increased snowfall in Antarctica’s interior is evidence that global warming is taking place.
Scientists also say that the ice sheet is melting at the ocean’s edge and a recent report says it is shrinking overall.
The ads drew a protest from a University of Missouri professor who says they are “a deliberate effort to confuse and mislead the public about the global warming debate.”
He said one of them misuses a study he published in Science magazine last year on the Antarctic ice sheet.
An editor of Science also said the ads misrepresent the findings of that study as well as a second study on Greenland’s glaciers.’ http://www.factcheck.org/article395.html
‘Did conservative elements in the White House provoke an Exxon front group to sue EPA to suppress a report on climate change?
That’s the question that two State Attorney Generals have asked US Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate, after Greenpeace uncovered a routine email in a Freedom of Information Act request.
In the email, Myron Ebell of the Exxon-funded Competitive Enterprise Institute writes to Phil Cooney, a senior official at the White House Council for Environmental Quality.
He describes his plans to discredit an EPA study on climate change through a lawsuit.
He states the need to “drive a wedge between the President and those in the Administration who think that they are serving the president’s interests by publishing this rubbish.”
He notes his group is considering a call for the then-head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Christine Todd Whitman, to resign, and openly suggests that she’d make an appropriate “fall gal” if the administration is serious about getting back into bed with conservatives opposing action on climate change.’ http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/investigation-of-exxon-front-g
‘Britain’s leading scientists have challenged the US oil company ExxonMobil to stop funding groups that attempt to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change.
In an unprecedented step, the Royal Society, Britain’s premier scientific academy, has written to the oil giant to demand that the company withdraws support for dozens of groups that have “misrepresented the science of climate change by outright denial of the evidence”…. This is the first time the society has written to a company to challenge its activities. The move reflects mounting concern about the activities of lobby groups that try to undermine the overwhelming scientific evidence that emissions are linked to climate change.
The groups, such as the US Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), whose senior figures have described global warming as a myth, are expected to launch a renewed campaign ahead of a major new climate change report. The CEI responded to the recent release of Al Gore’s climate change film, An Inconvenient Truth, with adverts that welcomed increased carbon dioxide pollution.’ http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2006/sep/20/oilandpetrol.business [Edited by moderator, along with responses in other posts]
13 May 2008 7:56PM
… can only think that you are saying that if a scientist becomes convinced, through his studies, that his original hypothesis is incorrect, his duty is to ignore the evidence which has changed his opinion in favour of the status quo.’ …
[My] argument is that he accepts an award funded by organisations that are not impartial in any way shape or form. These organisation misuse and distort the work of others, lie when necessary and use political influence to try and silence their critics – that is the type of ‘science’ with which Lomborg is associated so using his own words to justify his actions lies in the ‘ self recommendation is no recommendation’ school.
‘So, let’s see: Lomborg is receiving a prize from some organization that gets some of its funding from Exxon and the rest of your comment veers over to comment on the nefarious deeds of “conservative elements” … so, any comments on the actual article above or you prefer to attack the person through his associates exclusively?’
‘The “debate” about the causes of global warming so prevalent in the media is absent from the scientific literature: it has been manufactured, wholesale, by Exxon and groups like AEI that lie to the American people about global warming in order to reduce support for regulatory solutions.’ http://www.newsweek.com/id/135587/page/3 ‘A review in the science journal Nature called “The Skeptical Environmentalist” “a hastily prepared book on complex scientific issues which disagrees with the broad scientific consensus, using arguments too often supported by news sources rather than by peer-reviewed publications.”‘ http://www.newsweek.com/id/39686 For a fuller description of the lengths to which global change sceptics will go to deny the validity of the science around global warming with funding from ExxonMobil the following is an in-depth description of their actions: http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/ExxonMobil-GlobalWarming-tobacco.html [Edited by moderator]
13 May 2008 9:30PM
‘B. For the same cost, you could really do some good in the developing world in terms of food, water, and disease management.
let’s take them in order:
food – let’s use an example from the richest, most developed nation on earth
‘ Global Warming Could Slam Food Supply Food Prices Could Rise as Farmers in California’s Prolific San Joaquin Valley Feel the Effects http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/GlobalWarming/story?id=2277893&page=1
‘Global Warming Will Reduce Future Water Supply, Study Finds
…n 2001, Barnett and other scientists with the Accelerated Climate Prediction Initiative estimated that vital water resources derived from the Sierra Nevada may suffer a 15- to 30-percent reduction in the 21st century as a result of changes in snowpack runoff.
The authors of the new study extended these ideas to regions that heavily depend on glacier-derived water for their main dry season water supply. Such regions contrast with those that depend on water derived from snowpack, such as the western U.S., where water supplies are replenished each year. Thus, the researchers warn that “even more serious problems may occur” in glacier dependent regions “because once the glaciers have melted in a warmer world, there will be no replacement for the water they now provide.”
Barnett, Adam and Lettenmaier say the most vulnerable region where vanishing glaciers will impact water supplies in the coming decades is China, India and other parts of Asia because of their potential to affect vast populations throughout this region. The ice mass in the mountainous area of this region is the third largest on Earth following Arctic-Greenland and Antarctica.
In South America, a significant fraction of the population west of the Andes Mountains similarly could be at risk due to shrinking supplies of glacier-derived river water. Glacier-covered areas in Peru, for instance, have experienced a 25 percent reduction in the past three decades, the authors note, and “at current rates some of the glaciers may disappear in a few decades, if not sooner.” Here again they warn that fossil water lost through glacial melting will not be replaced in the foreseeable future….’
disease – ‘The World Health Organisation (WHO) says global warming could lead to a major increase in insect-borne diseases in Britain and Europe.
It has called for urgent government action to prepare for the spread of diseases like malaria and encephalitis. ‘ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/372219.stm
— Unlike the author I believe it would be better to treat the cause not the symptoms.
13 May 2008 10:40PM
Climate change – Fact 5
If we continue emitting greenhouse gases this warming will continue and delaying action will make the problem more difficult to fix
The global average temperature will increase by 2 to 3 °C this century – according to one of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) mid-range estimates (blue line on the graph below). This rise in temperature means that the Earth will experience a greater climate change than it has for at least 10,000 years and it would be difficult for many people and ecosystems to adapt to this rapid change.
These temperature increases are likely to result in an increased frequency and severity of weather events such as heatwaves, storms and flooding. Rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could set in motion large-scale changes in Earth’s natural systems. Some of these could be irreversible — the melting of large ice sheets will result in major consequences for low-lying areas throughout the world.
‘Sure that the “cause” for the global south’s suffering is anthropogenic global warming, then?’
I am not SURE that my house will burn down, I will be burgled or have a car crash but there is enough evidence around that it could happen that I take out insurance.
‘And diseases: you notice the american south, which weather-wise could easily support malaria, does not seem to be unduly bothered? I think this has to do with the fact that we are actually developed enough to tackle the disease agents proactively. It’s not temperature; it’s ability and know-how.’
You are talking about dealing with diseases that have always been endemic in the region, the UK hasn’t had widespread malaria for hundreds of years. If you were really as ‘developed’, ‘able’ and full of ‘know-how’ as you superciliously state then you would maybe have built levees around New Orleans that could do what they were supposed to do.
14 May 2008 2:45AM
‘Over 400 World Wide Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007. See http://tinyurl.com/2dv6nz’
From your link the Senate Committee cited a paper entitled ‘”Heat Capacity, Time Constant, and Sensitivity of Earth’s Climate System,”‘
this paper was based on flawed modelling and, o what a surprise, selective use of the data available, see
The paper was hailed and supported by, amongst others:
‘Lindzen was identified in a lawsuit brought forth by major auto companies[Central Valley Chrysler-Jeep Inc. v. Catherine Witherspoon, No. 04-6663] in which the state of California, Environmental Defense, and the Natural Resources Defense Council demanded, in a pre-trial discovery motion, the entire correspondence between several scientists (including Lindzen) and the auto companies. Environmental Defense attorney Jim Marston said of Lindzen and the 15 other scientists, “We know that General Motors has been paying for this fake science exactly as the tobacco companies did,”
Joel Schwartz, of the American Enterprise institute, wonder who funds them? hmmm
‘According to the Guardian article, the AEI received $1.6 million in funding from ExxonMobil. The article further notes that former ExxonMobil CEO Lee R. Raymond is the vice-chairman of AEI’s board of trustees’
Bob Carter – who ‘is a member of the conservative think tank the Institute of Public Affairs’ which, deary deary me, ‘has a particularly close relationship with the American Enterprise Institute’.
Dr Vincent Grey,a ‘self – selected’ reviewer of the IPCC’ , – ‘I have been an Expert Reviewer of the drafts of every single one of the IPCC Reports for 17 years. I wrote 1,678 comments on the Fourth Report, 16% of the total. I have done this job as a retirement hobby, for all these years just for the pleasure of science discussion and I never expected that anybody would ever know what I had said. I was therefore agreeably surprised recently when I found that an application the Freedom of Information Act in the UK had led to the publication on the web of all of the comments, so everybody can now judge whether their frequent rejection was justified.’
The link given by Dr Coles, is a link to the EPW, a tax funded US Senate Committee which was chaired by James Mountain “Jim” Inhofe – ‘Only Texas senator John Cornyn received more campaign donations from the oil and gas industry in the 2002 election cycle. The contributions Inhofe has received from the energy and natural resource sector since taking office have exceeded one million dollars’
other items of information about Sen Inhofe from Wikipedia (it’s too late for me to trawl through the web sites now):
‘As a member of the Armed Services Committee, he was among the panellists questioning witnesses about the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse. There he made news by claiming he was “outraged by the outrage” over the revelations of abuse, suggesting that shock at the crimes was more offensive than the crimes themselves’
‘Inhofe was one of only nine senators to vote against the McCain Detainee Amendment banning torture on individuals in U.S. Government custody’
‘In March 2002, Inhofe also made a speech before the U.S. Senate that included the explicit suggestion that the 9/11 attacks were a form of divine retribution against the U.S. for failing to defend Israel. ‘
If you can really take seriously a report that is based on the work of such people then I fail to see how you can criticise others for preferring the work of experts who know what they are doing.
19 May 2008 1:27PM
facts don’t seem to be a strong point of neanderthals from the right:
‘Temperatures are continuing to rise
The rise in global surface temperature has averaged more than 0.15 °C per decade since the mid-1970s. Warming has been unprecedented in at least the last 50 years, and the 17 warmest years have all occurred in the last 20 years.’
———————– Let’s try a little logical thought to see if we can find where the problem lies:
1/ Climate change has occurred many times in the past millions of years – agree/ disagree
2/ During the carboniferous the climate was conducive to widespread abundant plant growth over much of the world’s surface. – agree / disagree
3/ Over tens of millions of years the detritus from this abundant plant life was laid down in the earth eventually becoming coal, oil and gas ( a similar process led to the formation of carboniferous rocks such as limestone) – agree / disagree
4/ The coal, oil and gas in the ground locked up tens of billions of tons of carbon captured from the atmosphere – agree / disagree
5/ the removal of this amount of carbon from the atmosphere had an effect on global climate – agree / disagree
6/ The burning of tens of billions of tons of carbon and its release back into the atmosphere will have an effect on global climate – agree / disagree
7/ the short time scale, 100-200 years, over which this carbon, which took many millions of years to remove naturally, is being released back into the atmosphere is so fast on geo-evolutionary scales that it will be very difficult for the planet and its inhabitants to adapt unless action is taken – agree / disagree
Note: those people who believe the earth is 6000 years old can ignore all the above as it only applies to those who prefer science to myth
6 May 2008 10:32PM
‘(i) Only the Westminster Parliament can legally change the status of Scotland;’
‘All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.’
‘(ii) Any move towards separatism should, morally, have to be approved by the rest of the UK also’
Why? I believe precedent is on the side of the Scots if you view the separation of Czechs and Slovaks as such.
‘(iii) Why should a split of the UK into two happen to coincide with the English-Scottish border?’
Because Scotland is a country not a region, if the north, or indeed any other parts of England, wished to secede from England that would be an entirely internal matter for the English.
‘But I can easily see the LibDems becoming the opposition here once Scotland is independent with Labour vanishing into a fringe loony-left party in England.’
If you look at your political history you will see that the Liberals and the Labour party are only separate parties because of political posturing and divisions in the early 20th century
‘In the late 1800s and early 1900s the division between socialism and liberalism was not a very clear one. New or advanced liberals such as J. A. Hobson, T. H. Green and L. T. Hobhouse expounded views not all that different from those of many Fabians and even leaders of the Independent Labour Party. Keir Hardie famously wrote an open letter to Lloyd George asking him to consider taking up the leadership of Labour. Even much later the two party’s were intertwined. The 1945 Atlee government had its foundations in Keynes’ work on demand management and full employment and the welfare state as conceived by Beveridge, both of them Liberals.’
7 May 2008 1:00AM
‘any country which splits into two, even if the two parts are very unequal in population, means by definition that each part becomes “independent” of the other. That is why so-called “Scottish independence” is a matter for the whole UK.’
Bit of a ridiculous statement as we are not talking about one country splitting into two but two countries ending a union between them, by your logic the Serbs should have had a veto on the independence of Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia etc.
Scotland is a sovereign nation whose leaders, at a time before the franchise, agreed to a Union with England. Scotland has its own history, legal system, education system and, as has been mentioned above, invests its sovereignty in the people unlike England where sovereignty rests with parliament.
To be honest if we were really looking to moving forward to a new style of ‘post-nationalist’ politics I would like to see self-defined regions controlling their local affairs with a more democratic and accountable European parliament dealing with those things that need to be dealt with at such a level but I’ll settle for getting out from under the Xenophobic and supercilious English as a positive first step .
Would be interesting to see what happened if the Scots approved independence on a large turn out and with a good majority and ‘Call-me-Dave’ was PM. Especially as they have, even with a type of PR, only 17 seats of 129 in the Scottish Parliament and as for them being a unionist party it was only with Tory support that the SNP got their budget through.
Freedom of information
16 May 2008 1:57PM
The main problem with FOI is that the exemptions are couched in very general terms. One of the grounds for refusing information in to ‘protect commercial interests’. Given that vast sums of money are being spent on PFI etc one would expect that, as one of the fundamentals of a democracy is that voters have a right to know how their money is being spent in order to make an informed decision at elections, information regarding public-private contracts would be available afetr signing if not before.
Has any organisation or individual appealed a decision not to release such information? Who decides what is commercally sensitive information? Is the logical end point of this that should the government privatise everything we would have no right to know how much money was being spent or even who it was being given to?
16 May 2008 5:10PM
Surely the easiest way to get FOI working properly, from the point of view of theose seeking information would be to amend the Act so that:
i/ the presumption is that information WILL be released and that the govt/ dept concerned needs to appeal to the tribunal for permission to withhold it, after all the taxpayers own the information not the govt
ii/ information must be released within 90 days unless appealed, all appeals must be made within 30 days of receipt of the request and heard within a further 30 days
iii/ failure to comply with the above should be a criminal offence and civil remedies should be available for any losses/ expenses incurred due to failure to receive the information
8 May 2008 10:10PM
You can just see it now can’t you – the poor have no pensions, no health benefits and no access to socialised medical services whilst the CEO’s and financial parasites are getting Genetic Enhancements for themselves and their families as part of their remuneration packages. Bankers in the city of London queuing up to get a gene implanted to produce cocaine naturally, monarchs and presidents getting a third eye in their nose so they can look down it upon the rest of us maybe the poor and ethnic minorities will have modifications to make them both subservient and physically stronger so they can be sent to fight wars in other people’s countries to steal their resources, an ‘OFF’ switch so that the economically inactive can be terminated if they are unemployed for more than 6 months….
23 May 2008 12:51AM
‘There is no such thing as a “key worker”‘
I believe the concept in the UK was copied from pioneers in Aspen, Colorado, where the property prices were so high due to rich skiers buying up all the housing that the State couldn’t provide teachers, police officers, fire and rescue workers etc etc You seem to have forgotten that working for the state doesn’t mean you are a blood sucking parasite, unlike those who make their living speculating in the stock markets say.
‘The right to buy was a good idea. The mistake was that councils didn’t use the proceeds to build more ‘social housing’ that they then offered RTB upon.’
Because councils were explicitly forbidden from using the money for housing by the wonderful Thatcher.
‘Social housing makes people dependent.’
I think you’ll find that a 25 year mortgage makes people dependent on far worse blood suckers than the local council, ask the millions who are facing foreclosure in the US for examples of how they were taken for a ride whilst of course governments around the world bail out the banks. Want a UK example of exactly why council housing was sold off in the UK ask Dame Shirley Porter.
‘The unanimous ruling against Dame Shirley Porter by the law lords yesterday marks the official end of the longest running and biggest local government corruption scandal in Britain. It also marks an ignominious conclusion for the public career of one of the country’s most flamboyant politicians who was ordered to pay a £27m surcharge for “wilful misconduct”.
The headline-grabbing millionaire Tesco heiress dominated the political scene in London in the 80s just as Mrs Thatcher dominated national politics. Dame Shirley was determined to make Westminster council a Tory byword for efficiency and low cost government.
She was wealthy (named by Vogue as the 20th richest woman in Europe), ruthless, vain and never shy of using any gimmick – including posing as a council litter collector in St James’s Park. But her rule of iron in Westminster came within a whisker of collapse in the late 80s when the then unreformed Labour party was within four votes of capturing the council.
A lobbying company was appointed to advise her how to stop socialists – now many of them New Labour MPs – getting control of a borough that included Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, Belgravia and Mayfair.
At the same time Dame Shirley started what the law lords described yesterday as the unlawful and corrupt policy of gerrymandering the poor – and thought to be Labour voting – and homeless out of the borough. Officially it was called “building stable communities” but it became known as the homes-for-votes scandal.
Dame Shirley and David Weeks – her successor as leader – organised a series of secret meetings to draw up “battle zones” of council property in marginal wards to ensure that these were sold off to prosperous and hopefully Tory voting professionals to prevent what Dame Shirley described as the Trotskyists taking over. The poor were to be housed outside the borough or in expensive bed and breakfast accommodation. ‘
26 May 2008 9:15PM
‘If you champion the splendors and benefits of Western culture, while claiming to oppose religion entirely, you are, metaphorically speaking, tone deaf’
Given that our societies are built on the work of those who have gone before it would be kind of difficult not to have been influenced by the past, however you do seem to have a rather one-sided view of what the past has given us.
In the UK we have wonderful cities, Liverpool, Bristol, Manchester, London all have wonderful buildings constructed on the proceeds of slavery and imperialism. If I am against slavery and imperialism am I also ‘tone deaf’?