Wednesday, 26 May 2010

I may be stupid, but they're utterly mad

Gosh I'm daft.

After we finally got rid of Brown, I put up a post wondering what I ought to blog about now that the evil Statist was gone. I was so pleased to be rid of the little platoon of nasty Statists camped at the end of my driveway that I completely forgot about the entire army of Statists sitting at the end of the road, grinning.

Well, they've reminded me of their presence today, alright. Oh yes. Bigtime. Oh, Brussels, how could I have possibly forgotten eu?
A network of national funds should be introduced so the cost of bank failures are not met by the taxpayer, the EU internal market commissioner has said.
Are you sure that we should not just implement better regulation and rely on the rule of law and market competition, M. Barnier? No, it seems that:
banks should be asked to contribute to a fund designed to manage bank failure, protect financial stability and limit contagion
Surprise surprise, the Statist organisation to end all Statist organisations proposes that we increase taxes in order to pile up a huge wad of cash which the State will use to rescue us all when the world ends because of our own silliness.

Now, like all Statist plans this is flawed. We know that, of course, just from the fact that it is a Statist plan. There are (after all) only two sorts of Statist plan, first those with obvious undesirable side-effects, and second those with undesirable side-effects that we haven't worked out yet. So where are the flaws in this plan, then?

Well, I was wondering what will happen to the money? The idea, as I understand it, is that the money will be kept, waiting around for a bank failure, at which point the men in grey suits will rush in holding great wads of cash and use it to bail out the bank in question run the bank down in an orderly fashion. But what will happen to the money until then?

Will Governments put it in a bank account? I hope not - if the money is waiting until the banking system collapses and banks can't pay out the deposits they hold, it's going to be embarassing when M. Barnier turns up with his chequebook and ask them to cash a cheque for him on the account they never thought they'd have to pay out from. Ooops.

Is it going to be invested? Again, where? In the financial system that it will have to be used to rescue? In an instrument that we can sell to someone else to raise the cash, just as soon as they can withdraw the cash to pay for it from their bank...?

No, the money will have to be held as cash. By a government. Now, let's assume that they keep it as cash and don't spend it on a pet project. No, it's possible. Really - there are some honest politicians around who... oh. OK, there's the first problem; we are going to give this huge pile of cash to a government and say "Look, we might need this later; keep it safe. Don't use it for something else, no matter how certain it is". We just know that one day the banks will teeter, the grey men will knock at the door and ask for the cash, and then we'll go back to the politicians and shout "What do you mean, it fell at the first fence??".

Assuming that we somehow overcome this problem (stop laughing, please), there is still a deeper problem here. We have worked out, by a process of elimination, that the money needs to be taken from the banks and put in a huge dungeon somewhere, safe from the politicians, where it will be ready to spring into action at the first sign of a crisis. In order words, in a very real sense and completely unlike the sense in which Mr Brown used the phrase, we are going to take all of this money out of the economy. That was a bad idea a few weeks ago. Apparently, it's a good idea now.

This money will not be there for banks to lend to citizens and businesses. It will not be there to invest in new and promising companies. It will not even keep pace with inflation. That will mean fewer new businesses, less growth in existing businesses, fewer new jobs, and higher interest rates. And all of that means less tax income for governments and less wealth in the economy. How certain is M. Barnier that the growth this money could create if it is left in the economy would not better equip us to deal with a banking crisis?

In other words, if the problem is that Governments don't have enough money to bail out the banking system when it does something daft, this solution could make that problem even worse.

Surely, the solution must be to stop the banks doing daft things? Surely?

This is, it seems, a classic Statist solution. But on the brighter side, it looks like my blogging inspiration is far from exhausted.

The Cuts Hit Home!

Yes - the NewsBiscuit has full details of the disaster striking our beloved public services as a result of those evil Tory Coalition cuts.
Lincolnshire County Council was thrown into ‘total disarray’ after discovering that the vital roles of ‘Change Manager’ and ‘Diversity Coordinator’ will be left unfilled due to the government’s programme of cutbacks.
But surely these cannot be the only frontline services facing the axe? No, it gets worse:
In a further blow to the local community, Adult Education courses in crystal healing and Reiki have been slashed.
Where oh where will we get the next generation of crystal healers? How will they obtain their essential training if there is not a government-subsidised evening class?

So... How are the local residents reacting to this disaster?
Residents were reported to be in shock, unable to comprehend how society would continue to function, hundreds of council workers have been signed off sick with stress and all council employees over the age of 40 have taken early retirement due to ill health.
Just as we thought. But surely something can be done?
Council workers have organised a series of strikes to protest at the cutbacks
What a relief! Presumably this is their top priority? Yes, it seems - the strikes are:
scheduled to take place in ‘as little as 2 years’ to allow adequate time for proper public consultation and the recruitment of the council’s new ‘Industrial Relations Coordinating Manager’.
Thank heavens - the UK may still be safe....

(Hat Tip: @AdamProvis)

Monday, 24 May 2010

Bye bye, Child Trust Funds....

One element of Osborne's cuts stood out to me - the discontinuance of Child Trust Funds.

These always annoyed me, for purely selfish reasons. You see, Gordon (remember him?) not only introduced them just after both my children arrived, he also introduced them just before his arrived. That hurt. That felt (quite irrationally) personal.

They're also indiscriminate, pointless, and directive, but they're not the reasons why I'm glad to see the back of them. Good riddance.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Ka-BAoom...

So the BA strike is on, after all?

Who cares? There are plenty of other airlines; some offer better service at keener prices. I and my firm stopped using BA sometime late last year. By way of example, one of my business partners is on his way to a major international trade marks conference tomorrow, and even the prospect of him not being able to fly out was something that we simply could not tolerate. We could see that BA were in for a lengthy dispute, and kept well clear when booking.

I'm not sure whether it's BA or Unite who have the death wish. The dispute is too old and too arcane for any outsider to fathom it. Not that it matters - BA has now lost the trust of its customers and will die, either slowly or quickly. Then, Unite's members will either be unemployed or on lower salaries elsewhere.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Hypocrites

On the M40 this morning, who do we see? Why, it is the boys in blue, upholders of our laws and preserver of our safety on the roads.

But, I fear, an accident is about to happen? My speedometer seems to be indicating 90-ish. Surely I must be about to ram this conveyance of all that is legal, for they will not be exceeding the 70 limit?

Err, no; here we see the situation a moment later:

I seem to be still behind them. How can that be? Let us watch, and wait:

Yep, still behind them, still at about 90. Gosh, the police van must be doing 90mph?!

I plan to keep these photos on my phone in case a police officer gets shirty and tells me that speed kills, that exceeding a speed limit places you and all around you in danger. Feel free to do the same. Because the thing is, he was perfectly safe; his driving was polite and considerate, and I did (indeed) felt sufficiently safe around him to whip out the iPhone....

(Sometimes, I'm glad this blog is anonymous!)

Monday, 17 May 2010

Smoke, Fish, and Football

I don't like smoking.

No, I'll rephrase that. I really detest smoking. It is, to my mind, a disgusting habit. The act itself produces a noxious smoke that (literally) turns my stomach. The after-effects of the act leave a pall over wherever it is done. The walls are left greasy, sticky, and brown, the air is left fetid, and many of the smokers are left yellow in tooth and claw, prone to belching out yet more of their malodorous effluent on the thankfully rare occasions on which they manage to summon the lung capacity necessary to breathe deeply. I can hardly believe that they enjoy it. I simply cannot understand why they pursue this habit.

So, obviously, I am wholly and utterly opposed to the smoking ban.

No, you read that right. I am opposed to the ban. The reason is quite simple; I have my own very excellent means of protecting myself from the (alleged) effects of second-hand smoke. I keep this means with me at all times. Indeed, you could say that it and I are joined at the hip.

Literally, joined at the hip; it consists of a pair of legs. Light up next to me, and I walk off. I leave. I take myself somewhere that the air is clear. I use my own personal freedom in order to allow others their own personal freedom. I have no more right to dictate their behaviour in public than they do mine. So no thanks, Nanny, I neither need nor want your protection from their smoke.

Why? The alert amongst you will have seen the reason already: I do not understand why they pursue this habit. Therefore, they must know something that I do not. It is quite possible that I am wrong and that they are right. Given that they are causing me no harm that I cannot reasonably avoid, it is wrong that I and others should prevent them.

Then, there are the inevitable side-effects of the ban, most of which you find being discussed over at Leg-Iron's place. Like all legal measures that are at heart wrong, the smoking ban needs a range of intrusive rules and has a range of undesirable consequences. As an example of the rules, take my office. It is non-smoking; it always has been. If anyone in the office were to light up, they would find themselves being ejected in short order. It therefore has an elegant brass sign on the front entrance; it bears the usual no-smoking sign, and is fitted neatly into the door frame. It is accompanied by a second no-smoking sign mandated by the legislation; large, white, obvious, and as ugly as it is unnecessary, I hate it. There because our old sign is slightly too small to comply with Nanny's rules, it stands there as a reminder to me that our own efforts do not count; they are are of no consequence. Only Nanny in Whitehall knows what sort of sign is adequate to stop people from smoking in my office.

Then, the side-effects. So many Brits go to the pub for a drink and a smoke. Now, they cannot. Did New Labour really think that they would obediently go the the pub for just a drink? If so, why? Everyone else knew that they would buy a drink from the off-licence and drink at home. So the pubs have shut. Well done, Nanny; you have been very effective in protecting me and the bar staff from second-hand smoke - I cannot go to the pub and they no longer have a job. Nice one.

Meanwhile, the smokers are at home. With their children, if they have sufficient fertility left. Oooh, that was clever - the bar staff who had a choice are protected, but the children who do not have a choice are not.

More seriously, there are plenty of other things that I find irritating. Football, for instance. Why, really, does it matter whether eleven men who you have never met and who did not grow up near the place where you probably weren't born managed to kick a ball into a net more often than eleven other similar men. Why? Why does it excite such passion, such excitement, such willingness to pay over the odds for brightly-coloured shirts that were never going to fit someone as unfit and overweight as the person who is usually wearing it?

Or fishing. The opportunity to spend all day sitting by a river waiting to inflict pain on an innocent fish. Sitting there, outdoors, in a peaceful enclave of English countryside, away from nagging wives and rowdy children ... oh, ok, fishing I can understand, but you get my point. There are plenty of things that I do not want to do and which I find annoying, but that is no reason to ban them - even if they hurt the people that do them.

If you don't agree with me, then take a good hard look at yourself and what you enjoy. Is there no-one that finds some aspect of your life annoying? If you can honestly answer that question with a "yes", then you either need to learn a little more self-criticism, or you need to get out more.

Advice...

...should be considered carefully before being acted on.

::[Best Leslie Phillips voice]:: Well hello there, dear reader....

Friday, 14 May 2010

Teeth on legs

Lord Harris is a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority. At a meeting of the MPA to approve a new contract for kennelling dogs seized by the Met under the Dangerous Dogs Act, he baulked at the £10.5M cost (as well he might) and suggested using SO19 officers to shoot them instead. Interviewed on the Today programme, he confirmed that his aim* had been to be provocative, to force people to think about the sheer cost of the system and find a better way.

I happen to agree with him that the sheer length of time for which these dogs can be incarcerated is itself inhumane. The dog does not understand, it only knows that it has been separated from its family. If it was not aggressive when it was seized, I suspect that it will be by the time it is released (if it ever is).

What was worrying, though, was the testimony offered as to dogs being trained to be aggressive, given specific exercises to strengthen their jaw muscles. Clearly, such dogs are not being acquired by dog lovers as family pets. They are being acquired by aggressive louts who want an impressive weapon that they can brandish.

Which gave me an idea - still definitely in the "provocative" category. As dogs are apparently being bought as weapons, why not remove the incentive by repealing the Dangerous Dogs Act, re-legalising handguns, and relaxing sentences for knife possession? At least the guns and the knives are less likely to be used against toddlers...

--------------------------------
*sorry

Tough on Hypocrisy, Tough on the causes of hypocrisy

The 55% rule is fairly controversial, and so it should be. It is a small but significant change, of the type that should be discussed. I haven't made my mind up yet; I can see arguments on both sides.

David Blunkett has made his mind up, as have other Labourites. He says it is
"a profoundly anti-democratic move"
Worse still,
"The numbers mean that it would be impossible, even if every opposition MP united against this coalition, for the House to express its lack of confidence in it."
Gosh... so you'd never be party to something like this then? You'd never consent to be part of the movement that, as Leg-Iron points out, decided that:
The Scottish parliament needs 66% support for a vote of no confidence. Who set that level? Why, it was the Liberal/Labour coalition that ran the place before Al the Oily Fish took over.
But, wait a minute, what was David's quote again?
"The numbers mean that it would be impossible, even if every opposition MP united against this coalition, for the House to express its lack of confidence in it."
Err, no, what is being proposed is that a dissolution vote would need 55%; a "no confidence" vote could still be carried by 50%+1 vote. So that makes you wrong and hypocritical, David. Ooops.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Change

Well, where do we go from here? Specifically, where do I go from here?

This blog has had a fairly consistent theme since its inception almost two years ago; that of vociferous (and sometimes plain angry) objection to the Labour government and in particular to the former* Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Neither now remains; my preferred choice is Prime Minister and we have a largely Tory government with a yellow streak that could well be quite successful. So is there still a point to this blog?

Don't worry, I'm not going the way of Letters. But there will be change around here. First and foremost, I have had a little cleanup of the sidebar (that bit over to the right); the anti-Gordon elements can go now that their work is done. My thanks go to those who provided them, especially Stu Sharpe for the "No Confidence" banner. Next, a shift of emphasis. The "Allegiance" banner is gone; for any of you who didn't work it out, it was the Cameroon flag. Whilst I still support him and wish him best, I do not plan to be an unthinking cheerleader for the PM; that way lies intellectual laziness and (rightly) ridicule. So from now on, I plan to shout out when I think the Tories are doing something stupid, rather than just quietly acknowledge it. I suspect that will mean the blog will become less political; we'll have to see whether they do enough stupid stuff for me to blog about. (I suspect they will - all governments do!)

As for what will replace the politics, well I'll try and limit the intellectual property stuff. Unless you're involved in IP, or an insomniac, I doubt you'll want to read it. Other than that, I'll have to see what takes my fancy. I hope you all stick around to find out!

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*Yes! Yes! I've waited *so* long to say that......

Let's be careful out there

I'm not planning to say much about the Paul Chambers trial. Just:

(a) anything that we post on the internet, be it a tweet, a blogpost, or a comment to a blogpost, opens us to criminal prosecution if there is someone out there who feels threatened by it, even if you didn't mean them to be feel threatened - or even to read it. Take care, people.

(b) I told you something like this would happen. Now you all officially have something to fear, even if you have nothing to hide.

I shall leave the causal analysis to Al-Jahom, who sums it up perfectly:
  • Bad law, drafted and passed into law by the Labour government.
  • Target driven pursuit of prosecutions, under whatever laws may apply, bad or not.
So, if you support Paul Chambers and share my horror and disgust at his plight, but you voted Labour last week, you really need to stand back and re-evaluate what it was you voted for.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Pardon?

So Gordon is stepping down so that Labour can find a new leader and make a deal with the Lib Dems?

A new Labour leader? So Labour would give us two unelected PMs in succession? Our leaders would be the bloke who came last in the leaders' debates, and a bloke who wasn't even there?

A Lib/Lab coalition - i.e. with 315 seats between them? Has anyone pointed out to them that they still won't have a majority? To save us from the instability of a minority government, they will give us a minority coalition?

My head is spinning.

If this happens, it will survive for months at best and will be the death knell for the Lib Dems and for PR. So I'm wholly in favour.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

If this is fair, I am a banana

Would anyone who advocates the transfer of powers to Brussels on the ground that it is to our benefit, please explain this one to me.

We, the British taxpayer, are to be ordered to help bail out Greece, taking on 10% of that countries liabilities, by way of a qualified majority vote made up of countries that will not be contributing, or will contribute less. This is despite the fact that we simply cannot afford it, set as we are on the same course as Greece and only 18 or 24 months behind. The vote will be only a qualified majority not unanimity, because it is being introduced under an emergency provision designed to provide a swift response to natural disasters. The bailout is one-way only; as an EU country we can apparently be forced to contribute, but as a non-euro country we cannot be the beneficiary of a bailout.

To confuse matters further, the Lib Dems are preventing Cameron from taking the power necessary to do anything about this manifest lack of democracy and fairness by the EU that they approve of and would like to take us further into, because they want British elections to be fairer and more democratic despite never having gained a mandate for that policy.

Sometimes I think the world has gone utterly potty.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Is this the worst possible result?

For the country, I mean, not any specific party.

At the moment, the pattern is

Con 291
Lab 251
Lib Dem 52
Other 27

So the Conservatives do not really have the seats needed to form a workable minority government. Equally, the only genuinely likely coalition partners - Labour and the Lib Dems - do not have enough between them (yet?) to form a parliamentary majority.

The only partnership that gives a workable majority is Conservative/Lib Dem, but that requires the two most widely separated parties to work together in a way that Dave has ruled out.

Ooops.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Tomorrow

I want to set out my thoughts on what you should all do tomorrow. Advice is offered without charge but without liability; you are free to ignore it as you wish!

First, and foremost, vote. It is worthwhile, whatever people say. I know that there is a strong current of cynicism out there; that votes only count in the marginals, that they're all the same Labservatives really, that the EU decides everything, that the economy is so dire that no-one will achieve anything, and so on. There is, however, one small snag with all of this; it is rubbish. Indeed, if you will indulge me, it is patently rubbish.

There is clear blue idealogical water between the parties. Brown believes that only the State can save us and that the private sector is there to support the State. Cameron believe almost the exact opposite. If you were listening to the debates, as well as watching them, then this point came across loud and clear.  It will therefore make a difference who wins this election. Vote for the one who fits your world view best.  But make sure that you vote.

Second, make your vote as effective as you can. I am, as many of you will know, firmly libertarian in my outlook. However, the Libertarian party will not be getting my vote; nor did I volunteer to stand for it.  The reason is simple; whether you like FPTP or not, it is the system we use and it means that the Libertarians are not going to win anyseats, let alone win a majority. Sorry Obo, sorry OH, but there you have it. If we are to achieve a right-of-centre government, we need to vote Conservative. If you like what Labour has done to this country, then vote Labour and God help you.

Do not imagine that I am under some illusion that Dave is a closet libertarian.  His views seem to be a close match to mine, but not a perfect one. No; this is political pragmatism. Dave is the candidate for PM who is (a) acceptable and (b) stands a chance. You may have a different choice for criteria (a), but I urge you to remember (b) also.

So, to summarise; do vote, and vote effectively.

Monday, 3 May 2010

How?? Why??

In the last 13 years, NHS spending has doubled. We know that, and some of us can see it in our tax returns.

So why has this happened? How can this have happened?
Fury of gran taken to Aylesbury after fall INSIDE Wycombe Hospital
GRANDMOTHER Angela Bignall [...] tripped over a chair leg while in for a routine blood test – but had to wait for 30 minutes for an ambulance and then endure a 16-mile journey to Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Aylesbury.
Yes, you read that right. She tripped over while IN A HOSPITAL. You'd think, wouldn't you, that while you were IN A HOSPITAL would be the best place possible to fall over, if you were going to.

No, not in Brown's Britain. Or not in High Wycombe, at least. Because, you see, our local hospital no longer has an A&E unit. It can no longer treat anything like this. If you're actually hurt, then High Wycombe hospital is not a good place to be. In fact, you may as well be out in the street somewhere, as you still have to wait half an hour for an ambulance and then be driven all the way to Stoke Mandeville where (if memory serves me) you then wait for a few hours more.

Her reaction?
She said: “What in heaven’s name is happening to Wycombe Hospital?”
She might well wonder.

Gordon's Record

The facts in this video are true:



The events are fictional. Sadly.

Labour Candidate Running Scared?

Well, there is still no reply from the Labour candidate for my constituency. If you recall, on 23 April I asked him:
Gordon Brown says that if David Cameron doesn't raise NI as Gordon plans to, that will mean that £6 billion will be "taken out of the economy". I'm confused. Where will it have gone? Won't it still be in our pockets for us to spend in the economy on what we would like to spend it on?
Less than 24 hours later, he replied:
Thanks for the email- the question surrounding taxation at the moment can be summed up by the paradox of thrift. Currently, the government through a variety of spending measures is maintaining the overall level of demand in the economy- in order to do this in a fiscally responsible way, it is necessary to raise this cash from somewhere. So of course, without the rise in NI money will still be in your pocket, but the collapse in private demand demonstrates that people are not spending it (hence the government needing to sustain demand). NI is being raised as it is a fair tax- noone on less than £20k will pay any more in NI contributions, and it requires employers to contribute as well. To put this last point in perspective, the bill for higher NI to M&S will be £10m- they've just given their new Chief Exec a £15 golden hello.
My immediate answer was:
Well, it answers my question in that you accept that the money will not be taken out of the economy, contrary to Gordon's claim.

Of course, if people choose of their own free will to repair their personal balance sheets by saving the money, but Labour choose to force them to give up the money so that it can be spent on their behalf, is that not strikingly illiberal and undemocratic?

If the money was left in people's own hands, they could choose to spend it or to save it - if they chose the latter, then we would not have had to inject such huge funds into the banking system. Our banks would then have funds to invest or to lend - can Labour prove that this (the route of free choice) would not be a more efficient way of allocating the money?
That was on the 25th April. The next day, as I had still not heard from him, I sent a reminder:
A little disappointed not to have heard from you in reply to my email. I look forward to hearing from you, though.

While I'm emailing you, I thought I'd pick you up on the little "politics of envy" moment at the end of your last reply. You seem to be suggesting that it is ok to place additional taxes on businesses, because they can afford it - is that the basis of Labour's tax policies? That anyone with a bit of cash can expect to have it confiscated? I fear that would be detrimental to the competitiveness of our private sector - do you not agree?

I also feel that the M&S award is more of an isolated example than a basis for policy. My firm, for instance, has seen its profits halved over Labour's term in office. That translates directly to a halving of my income and that of my partners. Talking to my clients and my suppliers, it seems that we are more representative than the M&S example you quote.

Despite this, we have managed to find the funds for a staff pay rise of roughly 1%. That means that if the NI rise were coming into effect now, we would have no choice but to tell our staff that there could be no pay rise because your payroll taxes were taking up the entire increase in our salary budget. Is that what you want me to tell them next year?
Still nothing the next day, so I sent a brief chaser which elicited a promise:
Sorry, I've been out campaiging and without email for the past two days. Will get around to replying asap...
...but sadly nothing has been forthcoming. So I sent another reminder last night:
No reply yet? :-(

(Did I come across as bigoted?)
Nothing yet, but I'll keep you posted...

UPDATE: 1425... A reply!
No, I don't think you're bigoted at all- in fact I'd rate you as a singular wit. The NI rise it not about the politics of envy, it's about rebalancing the public finances in a way that doesn't fall unfairly on people with low and modest incomes. We don't have a budget deficit because the government has been wildly profligate- the credit crunch reduced the government's tax take by a quarter. We could have either withdrawn support and slashed public spending to balance the books immediately or maintained spending to keep the economy ticking over until private demand recovered. I think that, whilst we are not out of the woods yet, all the indicators show that the government has been hugely vindicated in taking the steps it has.
Well, we see the usual tactic - mix up several questions so that you can answer none of them.

So, here is my reply:
Thanks.

I didn't say that the NI rise was an example of envy politics - that was a response to your use of the M&S example to justify higher taxes for everyone. Can you answer the point as to whether high taxes will be detrimental to business competitiveness?

I'd disagree strongly with your assertion that this government has not been wildly profligate (although your comment could be read as an acknowledgement that is has). Looking at this graph, courtesy of the Spectator, it is clear that the Labour government has been living beyond our means since the moment that Gordon's promise to stay within Tory spending limits expired:
It is striking that under Tory government, we saw what you are now describing - a temporary blip during and immediately after a recession. However, as soon as Gordon was free to operate as he wished, he ran a consistent deficit that has left us with no reserves. Then, when the recession hit - harder than that which we suffered in the 90s - the situation became catastrophic.

It does therefore seem that Gordon's mismanagement during the good years is the prime reason why we faced the impossible choice between withdrawing support to those who need it, and borrowing truly frightening amounts of money that will cause financial pain for years to come. I would not call it "vindication" when a government places itself in the position of having to choose between these two deeply unpleasant alternatives. Do you not agree that - once again - the truth is that Labour has simply run out of our money?
UPDATE: 04/05/10 20:04

No reply yet, so I've sent a chaser:
Look forward to hearing from you when you have a chance.

By the way, do you agree with Manish Sood?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Why Am I A Tory?

A quick history; I grew up on the top floor of a council high-rise, looked after by my single-parent mother. She later married, but both she and my stepfather were public-sector employees throughout the time that I knew them. I was brought up a Catholic, taught the importance of caring and providing for those who had been less fortunate. My formal education was within the state system - at state-funded Catholic primary schools and a state secondary school.

My current views are firmly liberal; if you wish to partake of an activity that I disapprove of but which does not hurt those around you, then I can be expected to be firmly in support of your right to do it.

My formative teenage years were spent under Maggie, hectored regularly by the news of three million unemployed.

There are no toffs in that background, no silver spoons, no double-barrelled surnames. No-one that I knew used to invite me to their estate for the weekend. And I have never (never) worn tweed. So why am I so firmly Conservative? Why am I utterly contemptuous of the liberal-left parties that my background so decisively pointed me toward?

It was Nick Clegg who summed up the reason for this when he spoke earlier today. Trying (desperately?) to encourage disaffected Labour voters to switch to the Lib Dems, he sought to reassure them by saying that they would not be betraying Labour, it was instead Labour that had betrayed them. What he does not realise is that it is the whole of the liberal left that has deserted the working classes and the poor. It is not his fault (or even that of Labour). They deserted them right at the start, when they formulated a philosophy of politics that treated business and "the rich" as an inexhaustible resource; one that would continue to churn out the golden egg of tax income regardless of what policies they chose to implement. The moment they did that, they sowed the seeds of their inevitable failure when they finally ran out of other people's money.

And so, as I realised very swiftly, the liberal-left are actually the wing of British politics that does the greatest harm to those on low incomes. By taking all the money that they do out of the economy and giving it to unproductive civil servants, they starve businesses of capital with which they might grow and create employment. They blunt the owner's real return from the business, and make him think twice about bothering in future. They embark on grandiose schemes to create jobs, but instead destroy them.

I know how and when I realised that there was this disconnect between their stated aims of helping the poor and the actual effect of their policies. It was when I discovered that they very firmly wished to close my school. This was a school where I regularly saw boys from poor backgrounds given an academic education that matched or exceeded that in the private sector. It was a school where the (very) occasional use of corporal punishment kept 700-odd boys on the straight and narrow and allowed the boys to work in a safe and secure environment. It was (worse!) a selective school. On both of these grounds, the liberal left objected vehemently, yet I could see with my own eyes that it worked.

As I grew up, I saw this again and again. I watched Arthur Scargill demand that pits remain open, even if the coal could not be extracted economically. I watched Howe and Lawson bring economic sanity to the UK against the howls of socialists, and allow our economy to re-invigorate itself - putting those three million back into productive employment.

I read Milton Friedman and, initially, wondered why a book filled with the blindingly obvious should be regarded as such a major work. Then I listened to those who disagreed with it, and saw that the blindingly obvious seemed to escape those of a liberal-left bent.

So, slowly but surely, I realised that the policies of the liberal-left look as if they will work, but are doomed to side-effects and unforeseen* consequences that lead to a worsening of the situation for all, including those most in need. Meanwhile, the policies of the Right look as if they will be harsh, but in the end benefit all - including those most in need.

Hence, my call to you today. Help the workers; Vote Conservative.

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*unforeseen by the liberal-left, at least...

A Dream Come True?

Me, 7 April 2010:
I've just realised. Politics is boring. Really, really boring. I'll vote for whoever says "For 5 years we'll leave you alone and keep quiet"
Cameron, today:
The style of government I aspire to is one of quiet effectiveness.