Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Last Days of Christian Iraq?

"The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country. After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything," explains Patrick Cockburn.

The Choice Is Clear

An horrifically bad candidate, from the stable that by 2016 will not have won a national election in 20 years.

Rather a good candidate, whom one would have to register as a Democrat in order to vote to nominate.

As one would have to do merely in order to vote to stop the bad candidate. That can only be done by supporting someone else in particular.

If nominated, then she would certainly become the President of the United States.

Get Her Out Of Here

Why does anyone allow Edwina Currie into their country?

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Rochester Round-Up

A sitting MP has been re-elected with far fewer votes than he managed last time.

He will certainly lose his seat to his own old party in May, and he is already engaged in a public feud with his new Leader, who makes up policy on the hoof.

The sight of Carswell and Reckless voting for Clive Efford's Bill to save the NHS, with Reckless even speaking in support of it, was too hilarious for words. NHS privatisation was, with Farage's amateur and dictatorial style, the reason for Mike Nattrass's secession from UKIP.

They were rightly torn to shreds by Dennis Skinner, who voted against the Treaty of Rome, against Thatcher's Single European Act and against the Maastricht Treaty, as well as having campaigned for a No vote in 1975 and for a Labour vote in 1983.

But UKIP has accepted what now seems to be the defining principle of British politics, that the heart and soul of England is the people who always voted Labour up to and including the 1992 Election. Those people have always voted Labour ever since, too. They always will. Thus speaks the heart and soul of England.

Still, UKIP may as well make itself useful, by campaigning for the abolition of prescription charges, of eye and dental charges, and of hospital car parking charges. Along with the renationalisation of the railways, of the utilities and of the Royal Mail, as supported by the majority of their (and of the Conservatives') supporters.

That white van man was a Conservative supporter in 2010 and will have voted either for that party or for UKIP in Thursday's by-election. He openly admits to having hung out his flags purely in order to annoy ethnic minorities.

Emily Thornberry, who grew up on a council estate where the houses will not have had porticoes, ought to have stood her ground. In her childhood, or even in mine, next to no one would have known what that flag was.

Flag-waving in general is not very English. But until 20 years ago, if you had asked the English what their flag was, then they would have told you something quite other than that. Nothing invented by, of all things, the advertising industry can be said to be part of working-class culture.

Least of all something that was invented as an integral part of pricing the working classes out of attendance at live football matches by rebranding them as a posh boys' interest, in order to make possible a drastic increase in the price of the beer thus associated with them.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

A Big Day Tomorrow

Clive Efford's Bill to save the NHS.
Ian Mearns's Bill to end the abuses of zero hours contracts.
Ignore the mere re-election of an incumbent for a party that had never previously opposed him. That will not be news.

Still In A Computer Wasteland

But while I am here, Seumas Milne on how austerity has obviously failed and ought therefore to be abandoned.
Mehdi Hasan on the austerity-promoting and anti-democratic EU, even if he does need to speak for himself, since some of us of the same generation, and likewise of the historical Labour mainstream rather than any kind of Marxist, certainly did recognise all of this even when we were teenagers.
And Peter Oborne on UKIP, Daniel Hannan, and the fact that Michael Gove is the worst Chief Whip in a generation.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Reckless, Indeed

He is mostly Irish.
And not "came over  in the nineteenth century" Irish, either. His grandfather was Henry McDevitt, the considerably less Irish √Čamon de Valera's man in East Donegal.
Repatriation, indeed.

Upon The Holy Hills

Brendan O'Neill and Tim Stanley should come to Durham.
Up here, we read in disbelief of these bans and things elsewhere.
We'll debate absolutely anything with absolutely anyone.

Village Voices

Yesterday's defeat of the Government over pubs echoed the defeat of the Thatcher Government over Sunday trading. As in that case, Tory traditionalists lined up with Labour against their own party's market fundamentalists. (Traditionalism and fundamentalism are always very different things, whatever alliances they may form from time to time.)

A key figure in that case was Sir Roger Gale, as he has since become. He was on Newsnight last night to mark the tenth anniversary of the hunting ban. He was debating against Labour's Baroness Mallalieu, of the Countryside Alliance. Sir Roger is a stalwart of the League Against Cruel Sports.

It is a feature of anti-hunting Conservatives (of whom there used to be far more; only procedural devices prevented a ban in the Major years, when it had majority Commons support) that they are otherwise very right-wing indeed, whether Old Right, New Right, or a combination of aspects of each.

Think of Sir Roger. Think of Sir Teddy Taylor. Think of Ann Widdecombe. Think of the late Alan Clark and the late Sir Anthony Beaumont-Dark.

It is also noticeable that many staunch hunting areas elect very few Conservative MPs, and that some elected barely any for a good many years until 2010.

Think of Yorkshire, the Midlands, Devon, Cornwall and Wales.

The unenforceable hunting ban is bringing the law into disrepute in certain areas and among certain people as surely as the non-enforcement of the drug laws does in and among certain others.

Indeed, there are points of contact. From where do you think that, directly or indirectly, squires' children obtain their drugs? Especially among men, there has never been much of a line between the very top and the very bottom of British society.

Universal Disservice

The case for a Police investigation into the privatisation of the Royal Mail, Lib Dem policy in 2010 and carried out by Vince Cable, has always been unanswerable. Where is that investigation?
And now, exactly as predicted, the universal service obligation is going down the pan, too.
Only Clive Efford's Bill on Friday can prevent the same thing from happening to the NHS.
Yes, David Cameron, of course it is backed by the unions. Your party and circle are funded up to their eyeballs by the American healthcare companies, unscrutinised by a BBC that was until recently chaired by Chris Patten.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Special Measures

Raise a glass to celebrate this afternoon's quite heavy Commons defeat (or, for the good side, victory) over pubs.

Whatever Michael Gove used to do to a school with an incompetent Head Teacher, that now needs to be done to the Government Whips' Office.

Grown-Ups Are Talking I

Robert Skidelsky on David Cameron and the economy.

Grown-Ups Are Talking II

Peter Oborne on UKIP.

All In This Together

Using some new app or what have you, The Daily Politics found that its viewers were disproportionately over 60, tended to feel that UKIP said what a lot of people really thought, and had only £125 of spending money after the bills had been paid.
It also found that Owen Jones's readers were disproportionately under 25, were well to the left, and had only £125 of spending money after the bills had been paid.
I think that we can all see the real story here.

That'll Do Nicely?

I know that that is American Express rather than Visa, but it still works, because the United States is one of the 56 - fifty-six - countries and territories whose passport-holders may enter the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies without a visa and stay for six months.

This is not about the EU. Their nationals and some others can come here without visas and stay forever. The reasons are complicated, but that is not what this post is about.
No, this one is easy. Make it reciprocal. Your people can do that here, if our people can do it in your respective countries. No problem.
With effect from 1st January of this year, Omanis, Emiratis and Qataris, whose government in the last case funds IS, may obtain online an electronic free pass into this country.

That is open and public corruption by a party which knows and cares more about the global superclass than it does about our own national security.
It must be repealed.
I have my doubts about Yvette Cooper, who has some of the posturing authoritarianism of the New Labour years in the Home Affairs brief.

But this is her double chance: promise to make visa exemptions conditional upon reciprocity, and promise to abolish the very special treatment for those sponsored by three of the most repressive, and in at least one case terrorism-sponsoring, regimes on the face of the earth.
Bring these matters to a division of the House of Commons at the earliest opportunity.

Very preferably, bring them to a division on a proposed amendment with legislative effect.

Headless From The Start

The predominant opponents, such as there still are, of the ordination of women in the Church of England are not the lace queens beloved of Fleet Street, but the Conservative Evangelicals.
They are committed to, in the words of the Reform Covenant, "The unique value of women's ministry in the local congregation but also the divine order of male headship, which makes the headship of women as priests-in-charge, incumbents, dignitaries and bishops inappropriate." Like the Scarlet Woman of Rome, in fact.
But from its very foundation, in the establishment of the Royal Supremacy, the Church of England has been in formal breach of the New Testament doctrine of male headship in the Church.
It has been in material breach throughout the reigns of Elizabeth I, Queen Anne, Queen Victoria and the present Queen, all of whom are everything short of worshipped by the constituency that is now represented by Reform and the Church Society.
Many in that constituency also will not hear a word against Margaret Thatcher, whose ecclesiastical role during her Premiership added Scriptural disobedience to Scriptural disobedience.
A text from one of the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion declaring black to be white does not make black white. Black is not white.
If a woman, as such, can be the de jure or de facto Supreme Governor of the Church of England, then a woman, as such, can be a priest-in-charge, or an incumbent, or a dignitary (an archdeacon, a dean, that kind of thing), or a bishop.
But if a woman, as such, cannot be a priest-in-charge, or an incumbent, or a dignitary, or a bishop, then a woman, as such, cannot be the de jure or de facto Supreme Governor of the Church of England.
It simply will not do to fall back on some languid, gentlemen's club way on the giggling insistence that it is un-English to take theology seriously. Catholics from the very start, and Puritans and their successors for almost as long, have made this point and more. They, we, are at least as much features of the English religious landscape.

I am a firm antidisestablishmentarian.

The sheer objectionable nature of a church whose doctrine was whatever the Crown, and so eventually the Crown in Parliament, said that it was at the given time, has been an enormous force for the creation in this country of a pluralistic society, and thus by necessity of a representative democratic political system.

Without it, there would have been neither the Nonconformist Conscience, because there would have been no Nonconformists, nor Catholic Emancipation, because Rome really was a long way away in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, so that some accommodation really would have been reached by those who still felt themselves Catholics, as if feelings mattered here, and who would consequently have had no need of Emancipation in 1829.

The establishment of the Royal Supremacy set the pattern for many a subsequent nationalisation, merely taking over what was already there and leaving almost everything, including most of the management, in place.

To the consternation of radicals. But to the reassurance, not to say the gainful employment, of all but the most advanced conservatives.

In this case, the thing nationalised was the previous role of the Papacy. If it is the New Testament doctrine of male headship in the Church that you need, then there is one place where you will always, always, always be able to find it.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Crash, Bang, Wallop

If there is a second global crash, then will that, too, be blamed in Britain on the then British Government and on its millions of employees?
If not, why not?
Until the one in 2008, the British economy was so successful, and the public sector was so essential to that success, that the Conservatives were committed to matching Labour's departmental spending plans pound for pound.

Meaning that David Cameron and George Osborne were committed to matching Gordon Brown's and Alistair Darling's departmental spending plans pound for pound.

Even on the day of the last General Election, still under Brown and Darling, with Ed Miliband and Ed Balls in close attendance on them, there was no recession in the United Kingdom, and this country enjoyed a Triple A credit rating.

Who would believe that that was a mere four and a half years ago?

I almost hope that there is another crash between today and next year's General Election.

After all, an incoming Government with its members' previous record would quickly sort out the consequences here.

Heading Out

The Lords Spiritual were never Lords for any spiritual reason. They were there because of the vast landholdings of the Medieval English Church, and then of the Church of England, which still holds them. But seats in the House of Lords on that basis are no longer occupied by anyone else.
From the first appointment of a woman as a bishop in the Church of England, that office will no longer even purport to express in any way the doctrine of the Fatherhood of God, issuing in Church Fathers who, in an Established Church, function as Fathers of the Nation. Why, then, will Church of England bishops, as such, still have seats in the House of Lords?
If the point is to embody sexual equality in employment opportunities, then those seats ought to go to the trade unions, at least these days. If the point is to embody responsibility for and to every inch of the Realm, then those seats ought to go to local government, which, moreover, exists across every inch of the United Kingdom, unlike the Church of England.
Even if the point is to embody a specifically English Christianity, then the Church of England has never accounted for more than half of churchgoers in England since anyone first checked in the middle of the nineteenth century, and has not even been the single largest in a generation now.
The arguments advanced for its parliamentary privilege, and which make sense in the Home Counties, would be greeted with blank incredulity in the Nonconformist heartlands of the North and the West Country; in the Catholic heartlands of the North, the Midlands and many parts of London (although not the parts that write as the sole recognised voice of English Catholicism in the pages of the Daily Telegraph); and in the great swathes of London and of certain other centres where the black-majority churches are now so predominant that even Songs of Praise has had to be altered in order to reflect that fact.
The Church of England not merely supported, but wrote, the 1967 Abortion Act and the 1969 Divorce Reform Act, in reports dating back to the 1950s, long before such measures enjoyed anything like public support. The humane and necessary decriminalisation of male homosexual acts between consenting adults in private actually went nowhere near as far as the Church of England had recommended in the Fisher years.
Half-baked in ideology and half-hearted in expression were the attacks on the Thatcherism for which most of the Church of England's observant laity and at least a large minority of its clergy voted, in stark contrast to the heavily Labour-voting Methodists and Catholics, then as now, possessed as those were and are of the theological resources necessary in order to formulate such a critique.
The Church of England's reserved parliamentarians were thus unable to prevent the implementation of Tony Blair's wicked schemes to impose on the world by force of arms the logically inescapable combination of the 1960s and the 1980s.
They have thus been unable to affect in any way the previously unimaginable acceleration of all three of Jenkinsism, Thatcherism and Blairism by the present bestial Coalition, within and around which the Church of England's regular attendees are more prominent than within or around any Government in many decades, reflecting the voting habits of the huge majority of those regular attendees.
And as of today, there is no particular reason for those reserved parliamentarians to exist at all.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

A Rocket Up The Whole Thing

Well, that's that, then.
Following Nigel Farage's New Statesman piece, Nicola Sturgeon's explicit guarantee that the SNP would not support a Conservative Government but would, on certain conditions, support a Labour Government, means that David Cameron and Nick Clegg are now the only Party Leaders who do not openly and publicly want the supposedly useless Ed Miliband to become Prime Minister.
So much for David Cameron's (in itself, utterly unremarkable) request that Labour, Lib Dem and Green supporters vote Conservative at Rochester and Strood. I mean, they might, although I doubt it very much.
But the next General Election, far from being the most complicated since the War or what have you, has become a straight fight between ConDem Cameron and a pro-Miliband alliance of everyone else.
Vote ConDem to keep Cameron as Prime Minister. Vote any other way, since Natalie Bennett is also on record as being open to Labour conditionally but absolutely closed to the Conservatives, and the end result would be Miliband in Number 10, not by accident, but by design.
The only person other than Cameron who wants to keep him is Clegg. Do you agree with Nick?
Sturgeon promised to make the payment of the Living Wage a condition of public sector contracts in Scotland, while including the dig that Holyrood could not make it a requirement by legislation. Labour therefore, and in any case, needs to promise to legislate to that effect throughout the United Kingdom.
But her main condition was the absence of nuclear weapons from Scotland. Again, Labour needs not only to match that, but to exceed it, by making it Union-wide.
No, Russia is not a bastion of liberal democracy, nor is she our ally, which would be an entirely different matter. But she has neither the will nor the means to attack us; nor had the Soviet Union, which could not transport bread from one town to the next.
Russia's internal and external enemies are also, at best, no friends of ours. They, too, are no paragons of whatever our values might be.
Unless, in the internal case, those values are unreconstructed Stalinism, or Islamism, or "National Bolshevism" with the hammer and sickle in place of the swastika on the Nazi flag, or an anti-industrial, anti-urban and anti-scientific anti-Semitism.
If Sir Edward Leigh or Dennis Skinner, the broadly Old Right Fleet Street brigade or the Morning Star, were in truth as their respective detractors allege, then that would issue in the strongest possible hostility to Russia, rather than in the opposite approach that they do in fact adopt.
Tomorrow, veterans of the Waffen SS Galicia, many of whom settled in Britain after the War, will march to the Cenotaph in London, accompanied by their supporters. There is to be a silent protest against  them, in memory of the victims of Ukrainian Nazism, past and very much present.