Scotland and the EU.

Baroso is on record as saying “an independent Scotland would have to negotiate entry into the European Union”. Finland’s negotiations took three years. The SNP counter with “but of course they would let us in, why wouldn’t they?” and that negotiations would take just 18 months. The answer to that is simple. Several countries in the Union have regions with significant secessionist movements: Spain (Catalonia, the Basque country), France (the Basque country), Italy (South Tyroll). Spain have already indicated they would have serious issues with Scotland being let in without at a fight, lest it encourage the Catalans who’re voting soon in a non-binding referendum.

It shouldn’t matter, but it does. The Scots are therefore probably about to have a referendum on continued EU membership, and they’re the most Euro-enthusiast nation of the UK. There’s no reason why a small country can’t prosper outside the EU, like Norway one of the Richest countries in the world, so why is the SNP’s line so patently dishonest?

Can someone with better knowledge of Scots politics tell me why the normally competent Alec Salmond has let himself be caught in such an obvious bear-trap?

Friday Links

Because I haven’t time to post, I thought I’d share with you my nominations for this week’s Britblog Roundup.

  • One from Instpector Gadget about how senior officers are selected, and why they therefore ruin everything. This contains a similar argument to…
  • …The Devil’s Kitchen‘s view as to why David Cameron has changed his mind on drugs.
  • Crooked Timber on Wikileaks
  • A couple from Heresy Corner on ‘Extreme Porn‘ and the idea that Conservatives are “unevolved
  • Tim Worstall on why Bureaucracies always expand.
  • The Adam Smith Institute on what “Big Society” actually means (rather than how David Cameron is implementing it) and how it’s only possible with a tax-cut.
  • Paul Sagar at Liberal Conspiracy on why he’s letting his (labour) party membership lapse
  • Charles Crawford suggesting that the Left’s protests are rather futile. People protesting that other people should pay more tax to give them benefits they think they’re owed is rather ugly.
  • Chris Dillow on character vs. institutions in politics.

Make a note of what you think are best posts of the week and send your selection to Britblog [at] gmail [dot] com, which this week is at the Blogoir (if he’s got his PC up and running again)

Britblog Roundup # 290

Is up at redemption Blues. Don’t forget to send anything from the British Blogosphere to britblog [at] gmail [dot] com. I’ve picked up a great many brilliant blogs from the roundup, it’s worth getting involved with. The hosts are of all different political and philosophical persuasions and it’s always interesting to see what they think of your selections.

Britblog Roundup #289

Welcome one and all to the 289th Britblog roundup in which are contained, or ‘kettled’ (depending upon your political persuasion) the best blogposts of the week.

We’ll kick off with the student demonstrations, which… um kicked off this week. HarpyMarx gives her perspective of the protests, and her spelling & grammar deteriorate as her anger rises.

Eventually Carl and me [sic] got out the kettle by Whitehall. As I write protesters are still being kettled, attacks on the Supreme Court and the Treasury. But what do the cops expect when you kettle, contain, correll [sic] people? Treat people like they are nothing, kettling provokes anger and distress. It’s an attack on democracy, freedom of movement and civil liberties.

So where were the riots about Labour’s savage attacks on civil Liberties? No enemies on the left eh?

Vive le [sic] resistance!

Of course all the trouble was from a “tiny minority”. It wasn’t just highly priveleged Cambridge students who happen to be the adopted sons of Pink Floyd guitarist, Charlie Gilmour causing trouble. It was also, as Richard Osley pointed out highly priveleged pupils at the kind of London state school which require a million pounds to buy a house in the catchment area, who were also were demanding that the people who clean those schools pay taxes to ensure their higher education remains “free”. Them, a few actual students, the Socialist “Worker” and anarchist group, Class War who are the kind of protest tarts who’ll protest the “Cutting” of someone’s hair.

There is plenty of talk about “access to higher education”. Better Nation gives a round-up of “attacks” on the same. Obviously, it’s the Tories who started it. On the other hand, people’s opinions change once they’re earning. Charles Crawford sums up the “tax payer” position.

Bottom line. I have to pay for three Crawfs to get through school and university. I don’t want to pay as well for Charlie Gilmour and the massed student left-fascists swarming round the streets of London yesterday.

Of course a question the left has to ask itself (when they’re not masturbating about the thought of “revolution” against “Tory Scum” or engaging in a circle-jerk of indignation about police “brutality”) is to what extent will the coalition’s policy be to blame for a drop in student numbers from poor backgrounds, vs the grotesque misrepresentation of that policy by the left? On BBC Question Time, the left-wingers refrain was “the details aren’t important” because, presumably they reveal a policy which would see the low paid pay less than now, and the wealthy graduates pay more. Meanwhile, nothing is paid up-front. I fail to see how this is wildly different from a time-limited graduate tax. No-one is offering mass, “free” higher education, so why is the Left (and the Labour party) pretending that the Labour party is?

Of course the real loser in this are the Liberal Democrats for whom the reality of coalition Government (something they’ve long desired) means they cannot make absolute pledges on anything (and nor can anyone else). Peter Cranie brings some sobering by-election results for the yellow team. Maybe that’s why Lib Dem voice reckons returning officers aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

Still on education, Natalie Bennett reviews Wendy Wallace’s Oranges and Lemons: Life in an Inner City Primary School, and draws some conclusions about why British students do so poorly in international league tables.

The rum business of Julian Assange’s rape case generated a lot of comment. Is it rape, or a strange, Swedish law. Is it trumped up for the convenience of the US in the wake of Wikileaks or is it coincidence? The left, on the basis that anyone who pisses the USA off that much is a fellow-traveler, decided that Assange was a Hero. The left, who also believe that all men are rapists, and no accusation is ever malicious, were therefore tying itself in knots, as they played many hands of victim poker. Cath Elliot and Sunny Hundal’s spat is detailed here, and here. Chris Dillow sums up the cognitive biases of those involved. This blog’s take on the issue, by Mara MacSeoinin, is here. Of course all left-wing support for Assange will evaporate once they work out that he’s a libertarian.

Brian Barder welcomes Keneth Clarke’s policy on sentencing. As do I and campaigner and inmate Ben points out that the characterisation of the Tories as “hang ’em & flog ’em” types is unfair. A softer line on prison, especially for low-level offences is generally well received by the thoughtful from across the political spectrum. It’s the knee-jerk unthinkers who read the Daily Mail tend towards authoritarianism.

Charles Crawford wonders why the FCO can’t be excellent, and wonders whether an “excellent” organisation would need a “reputation manager”.

Andreas at London cyclist asks the ever-fraught question where cyclists wait at traffic lights. The correct answer is “Are you quite mad? I don’t wait unless I have to”. Of course there’s a vocal, self-righteous minority of cyclists who obey the law and like to tell everyone about it. Towards the end of the thread, the vast majority of people who go through when it is safe to do so in order to avoid getting crushed, start commenting.

Environmental issues got a lot of airing, with many on the right reviewing Britblog founder Tim Worstall’s book. Here’s one from Samizdata. Jonny Porritt calls for no nuclear subsidy, Tim calls him on double standards. Climate resistance goes into a great deal of detail about Prof. Brian Cox on the BBC. Barkingside 21 calls on people to reuse and reduce, being more important than recycling.

The ‘F-word deals with the fraught process of comment moderation. This is not something I have to deal with on this blog – free speech and all that. But some people think that words can hurt, and feel the need to censor others’ opinions, and it can become a lengthy and time-consuming process. Which is another reason I don’t bother. A third reason to not bother is that as I understand it, if you moderate you ARE responsible for comments which are potentially libellous. If you don’t, you’re not. If someone complains, I have the opportunity to take the comment or the post down. If I don’t like a comment I ignore it. If I think it’s spam, I delete it. I think the hyper-sensitive feminists at the f-word would do well to publish and ignore anything they find hurtful. Anonymongs & trolls trouble all blogs. Let them be, they haven’t the wit to generate their own readership. Though the staggering hypocrisy of that last comment will not be lost on those who write the left-wing blogs where I make a nuisance of myself…

Can I urge everyone to send in just one or two of the best posts they come across to britblog [at] gmail [dot] com. The same people every week are sending in nominations, which means the same blogs get nominated. This is not to denigrate those regular contributors at all, the Britblog wouldn’t work without Natalie Bennett and the Chameleon & co. who submit something every week, and I certainly cannot hold myself up as a paragon with my erratic nomination. Set an alert on your calendar to send an e-mail every Friday with the best posts you’ve seen in the week. Use the star button on your rss reader to go back over the best of the week’s posts. I just feel this process could be brilliant if there were more and varied contributors – the more the merrier. Note to self: Must. Do. Better.

Next week we’re at the Chameleon’s place.

Britblog Roundup #286

Good morning and welcome to the on-time and on budget Britblog #286. A lot has happened this week, but by far the most important development was that of the blogging retirement of Britblog host and all-round good-egg, Mr Eugenides, to tributes from all round the Blogosphere, including mention from Comment is Free. The observation that the catharsis of blogging is a medium best suited to oppositional politics isn’t new, which explains the resurgence in the Left-wing blogosphere. Before May, a strike, especially in the public sector, was an embarrassing family argument. Best not spoken about, you know… pas devant les enfants. Now of course, a strike is a glorious battle against the hated neo-thatcherite enemy. Dave Osler gets stuck in by suggesting that Strike negotiation is a game (once more?).

Of course, one group who will, thankfully be in oppositional mindset forever, and will therefore NEVER feel the need to throw in the towel is the Feminists. You cut, we bleed, says the F word. Philobiblon tries to be more upbeat by reviewing “Rethinking Contemporary Feminist Politics” by Jonathan Dean which can be yours for £54 on Amazon. Those long winter evenings will just fly by. I’m more drawn to The ever quirky ‘Early Modern Whale‘ who brings us the tale of John Allen, author of Judicial astrologers totally routed, and their pretence to Scripture, reason & experience briefly, yet clearly and fully answered, or, A brief discourse, wherein is clearly manifested that divining by the stars hath no solid foundation … published by J.A. for publick good, Printed for John Allen (1659). Back to the sisters, Progressive Women brings us the news of the 2010 “Feminism in London” conference. Men were allowed, apparently. No, I couldn’t make it either.

More seriously, ‘Too Much to say for Myself‘ brings the harrowing story of a seemingly preventable murder, as the Victim’s mother contacted the police no fewer than 102 times about her ex-husband, but was dismissed as having ‘a tendency to over-react’. Of course, the problem is taking every complaint seriously would lead to intrusive policing as every vindictive, vexatious complainant attempts to get their enemies’ collars felt by the fuzz. It is to prevent this super-surveillance dystopia that Crash! Bang! Wallace jokingly calls for a “buffoons register” to list those calling for intrusive government intervention. Of course in the Chanelle Sasha Jones case, or indeed the better-known Baby P or Victoria Climbie, better, or more intervention may have averted tragedy, but then no-one would want to live in the kind of society where Every tragedy could be averted. It really is the difficulty about using individual cases to highlight failings: the counter factual is not available. How many men would you deny access to their families at the behest of a potentially hysterical woman (or, indeed vice versa) to save one life? The policeman’s job is not an easy one.

Of course libertarian, feminist, socialist or some combination, the joy of the blogosphere is not in the ranting, entertaining though that is, nor in campaigning whatever your axe to grind, but in the enlightening posts by people who really know what they’re talking about, for this is the one area where the Blogosphere really beats the Mainstream media, hands down. Former diplomat, Charles Crawford points us to a shameful episode in Britain’s history, and suggests that the EU fund a significant search for the mass graves and in identifying all the bodies where possible, go a little further than “regret” way of reparation for the complicity all nations have in the mass-murders of the 20th century.

On an entirely different subject, but another guest post from an expert, A Place to stand brings us an idea to ameliorate congestion on the forth road bridge (the one that doesn’t need painting all the time) at considerably lower cost than the (several, and climbing) billions a new bridge is projected to cost by building a ‘tidal’ fifth lane in the middle instead.

Of course, as any traffic management expert would tell you, building more capacity on the roads merely generates more traffic. This is especially true in London, so the cyclists behind “at war with the motorist” have some good points on encouraging cycling. People don’t cycle because it’s horrible and scary sharing the road with fast-moving traffic which isn’t expecting to see you. By building the cycling infrastructure, you encourage cycling, which means motorists are more likely to expect cyclists, which makes cycling more pleasant in a virtuous cycle which has been achieved by the (equally cold and wet) Germany or Holland. The problem with cycling infrastructure is that, yes, it’s local, and therefore ends up, after being filtered through town-hall incompetence forming a half-arsed attempt to meet Government targets, and therefore ends up looking like this pathetic, dangerous and counterproductive effort in Hitchin.

While we’re on local issues, I wonder what would happen in the independent People’s republic of Yorkshire?

One thing that is going to be harder in the future is for Mainstream media organisations to get away with untruths – people now have a means to get another side of the story out. In this case, The BBC being forced to apologise to Bob Geldoff. Brian Barder doesn’t think this is enough. Nor does his son Owen Abroad. Both these guys have an interesting perspective on the issue.

Camden Kiwi (one of the few I know of who won’t be rubbing it in about the Rugby) reviews Tenessee Williams’ Two-Character Play at the Jermyn Street theater for us. Diamond Geezer doesnt think much of One New change, (nor was my Brother with Jamies MeatFeast restaurant there earlier this week).

Tim Worstall enlightens us as to where “Posh” might have come from: Persian. Virtual Economics reckons the Times’ paywall is about News Corp, not The Times.

As any discussion about politics always ends up about a discussion about economics, A Place To Stand brings us his Growth Plan. It starts 1) cut the deficit, then… before suggesting a lot more Nuclear power, followed by a British Mars shot. A view with which I have some sympathy. Transition culture reckons the Economics of Happiness is more important than building huge national penises to get to Mars, and recommends downshifting to prevent burnout and save the planet. And I have some sympathy there too.

The Blogosphere is a glorious cacophony of voices, all with their own magic, quirks, and individual ideas, as anyone who has attempted to weave a narrative around the disparate posts which appear in the Britblog inbox will tell you. At present the libertarians are waning, the left is rising. What the future holds, no-one knows. The only thing I am sure about is that Blogs are often more informed and informative than Newspapers. They are also more varied. Democracy is stronger when everyone has access to a voice.

So there we have it. The end of the weekly roundup. Next week, we’re with Mick Fealty at Slugger O’Toole. Please send him the best stuff you find this week to Britblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

Britblog Roundup # 285

I’m not sure it’s within the rules, but there are 3 mentions of A Very British Dude (and only one of them a self-nomination) in this weeks Britblog roundup, ably and comprehensively hosted at cabalamat’s place, Amused Cynicism.

Britblog #283

The much-delayed Britblog roundup #283 Is up at the wardman wire.