Osborne’s Budget

Of all the announcements, the merging of NI and Income tax is potentially the most significant. Other than that, the budget contained mostly steady-as-she-goes measures, with the political necessity of meeting a stupid election promise – the fuel price stabiliser.

Let’s deal with the Brownian crap first. Rating benefits and tax allowances to CPI instead of RPI is a stealth tax of some import. In time that will significantly erode their real-terms value. As far as the UK is concerned, CPI has NO basis in most people’s cost of living. You might as well index such things to Rick Astley’s download statistics.

The Fuel price stabiliser: no duty escalator if the Oil price is over $75 (subject to consultation) paid for by a really good, hard dry fisting of the North Sea Oil companies is politically sensible, though economically less so. For those holding stocks in North sea oil co’s, though, it just seemed vindictive. For a practical, micro-level demonstration of how the Laffer curve works, read this post from Capitalists at Work. Politically, Osborne needed to do something to meet the truly daft idea from the election (which when they thought about it for 5 minutes I’m sure they hoped would just go away…) and did so with as little damage as possible. Though why they couldn’t have just cut a meaningful amount from duty to AT LEAST cover the recent VAT rise is beyond me, but the manifesto commitment was met and the papers appeased. Or most of them at least.

Osborne boasted of removing 100 pages from the tax code, which is a start, it’s a sticking plaster on the gunshot wound which is Gordon Brown’s near quadrupling of its length. Why no action on tax credits for example?

But that’s carping, the cut in corporation taxes are welcome – signalling that the Government doesn’t HATE businesses like Gordon Brown did, but I don’t understand the point of corporate taxes: People end up paying it; either the Owners of capital get lower returns, employees lower wages or customers higher prices, some cuts in corporation taxes will be regained by taxes on these: most evidence suggests that with returns on capital being pretty level across countries, corporation taxes fall mainly on customers and workers.

The best news, though is the imminent end to NI, which has long been a fiction to enable what became under Gordon Brown the most complicated and confiscatory tax regime in the world. Thanks to misalignments between the rates of NI and Income Tax, there are two narrow bands where the marginal rate of tax is an eye-watering 62%, and even those on low incomes are taxed at a disgusting 32%. The only remaining function of NI is to hide from the British People the tax they pay. This should have been done decades ago, along with ending the capricious contributory requirement for pensions: it’s tough on women especially, forces people onto means-tested benefits and ends up saving the country very little, if anything. And what is the point of the Employers’ contribution? Why split payroll taxes except to hide from the people how hard they’re being raped by the government?

If Britain’s eye-watering taxes are to be cut, the British People, especially those who are net contributors but believe they aren’t, must have their noses rubbed in how much they actually pay so they start focusing on that rather than the rather spurious “benefits” of most of that money. Put it like this. If you had a 30% pay-rise, you could go on holiday somewhere better than Skegness, save a bit AND save up for Junior to be educated properly. If it weren’t for the complete bureaucratic capture of the Labour party and the public sector, a 30% cost cut could be achieved without affecting “front-line” services, by firing 00’s of ‘000’s of the unnecessary extra whitehall pen-pushers hired since 1997 (a forlorn hope).

A small mention in the budget, though is bigger news. It’s the beginning of the end for Labour’s ’47 settlement. The doctors are getting the health service back, in effect destroying the disastrous and soon to be unlamented NHS (though the name will live on, as it’s the British religion). On welfare, NI, long a fiction is on the way out, and benefits will be simplified. Taxes will become flatter, and lower. Capital and profit will be taxed less and as a result the country will be richer as a result. The budget goes nowhere near far enough in cutting the thicket of allowances and gimmicks, nor does it reduce the enormous burden in any meaningful way, but it sets out a plan which MIGHT lead to these things. As such it’s probably as good as we’re going to get, given the disastrous state in which Labour left the country.

A Handy 3-minute guide to the Budget can be found here.

Poison to Political Discourse.

Predictably, there’s a “campaign“, more like one lonely, inadequate woman, whose child is ‘special’ who are demanding that a councillor be fired for describing the public Gallery as “retards”. Not the nicest thing to say about your electorate, but probably not wildly inaccurate either. Let’s see what happens to him at the ballot box shall we? However the humourless bint in question has filed an official complaint saying

One of my children has a severe learning disability and if I was aware that this word was used about her I would consider it a hate crime.”

Apparently, this was said out loud, and without hyperbole, as the councillor described, not as the allegation implies the handful of disabled people there, but a UK Uncut protest as “retards”. Given the extreme economic illiteracy and wanton stupidity on display from UK Uncut, I think the description of them as “retards” is generous, as it removes the mens rea from their extreme cuntularity.

In a separate incident, which arose later (and is in NO WAY part of a politically motivated campaign) he is also alleged to have used the world “wonk” to describe a council worker, used in political circles to describe one rather too interested in policy, specifically a think-tanker without real-world experience, and as such is marginally less pejorative than “nerd”. It is not “offensive and humiliating” though referring to the same person, a danish council worker as “woman” and “Foreigner” are a little less polite, I’ve been called worse, and shouldn’t get the sack for such behaviour. With this complaint I hear the faint sounds of a barrel being scraped by UK Uncut retards.

I am not suggesting John Fareham is a good councillor, or that he is right to say such things. I don’t know the detail & care less. But the professional offence-taking, and the passive aggressive demands that someone be fired for being merely rude, is getting out of hand.

This isn’t about whether someone was offended. It is simply using the excessive laws defining “hate speech” to silence one’s political opponents. Labour, with it’s thought crime legislation is now out of power, but the aim is now clear. It is not to protect minorities from persecution. It is to outlaw a conservative view, especially when robustly expressed by an amateur politician. This is unacceptable & poison to the robust political discourse needed in a healthy democracy.

And if you’re really offended, here’s an idea. Don’t vote for the bastard, and campaign for the other guy. If you want to circumvent democracy and have him fired, basically for having a different world-view to you, fuck off and die, you hateful, miserable, humourless bunch of anti-democratic twats. If you’re shocked and horrified by the word “retard”, you need to get out more. There’s shocking and horrific things going on in Libya or Afghanistan at the moment. Perhaps the UK Uncut retards, would like to join the Army to go and have a look. Or perhaps they should listen to their mother, who no doubt like mine said “sticks & stones (or roadside bombs) may break your bones, but names will never hurt me”.

Grow up and get a life.

A British Bill of Rights.

The news that convicted sex-offenders are to be given the right to appeal their life-time requirement to sign on the sex-offenders’ register has prompted tabloid Paedogeddon and a reprive of the pre-election Tory policy of a British Bill of Rights. This usually comes up in Conservative circles when some Euro-Judge decides some vexatious piece of law which apparently flies in the face of mob rule natural justice. The Daily Mail cliche that “the Human rights of criminals have become more important than those of their victims” is, as ever, complete bollocks. In this instance there is no European element, as the judgement was handed down by the UK’s supreme court applying British Law, the Human Rights Act 1998 – something Conservatives get worked up about too, because this too is seen as a dastardly Euro-plot to undermine common law.

I have no problem with the ruling. It does seem manifestly unfair that a man with no sexual interst in children will be on a list which in public immagination lumps him in with predatory paedophiles, for the rest of his life with no right of appeal, and may therefore get lynched one day when such information is leaked to the baying press. You don’t need to do much to get put on the sex offenders’ register, and the fact that it’s harder to get off than the cold-call list from alternative telecoms providers does fly in the face of the principle that some offenders can be rehabilitated.

On the recent ECHR ruling I have little problem with prisoners being allowed the vote. On the other hand, the restriction of the franchise is not an unreasonable punishment. It takes a court to decide who’s right, and only a vindictive bastard or rights obsessive gets worked up one way or the other. The point is that I would prefer a court rooted in British law, applying law drafed in accordance with the principles of common, rather than continental, law and subject to the Crown in Parliament, to decide rather than some unaccountable foreign body accountable only to itself.

The point to make is that a British Bill of Rights would put human rights law firmly within the British legal system, rather than being an impostition flowing from our membership of the EU. This is why I support a British Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act 1998. However The British Bill of Rights will still enable judges to consider the rights of Sex offenders to appeal against a lifetime of second-class citizen status. British judges will still find in favour of the rights of Prisoners to vote. The idea that the rulings the Supreme Court interpreting the Bill of Rights come up with will be any different to the current system interpreting the Human Rights Act is risible.

Indeed a Bill of Rights which didn’t allow rulings to displease The Sun would not be worth the paper it’s written on.

These rulings are not “legislating from the bench”. It is application of principle, which get lost in the hurly-burly of politics. Politicians who think that the ‘primacy of parliament’ means legislating vindictively in a manner likely to appease the Sun newspaper’s ‘hang em & flog ’em’ approach to criminal justice will be dissapointed. The only difference will be the a reaffermation of the supremacy of British law within the UK, so criminals will still get “rights”, but the Sun will no longer be able to blame “Europe” for this, so I suspect the policy’s most voiciferous supporters today should be careful for what they wish.

Why NetrootsUK is Doomed to Fail

Netroots UK is the project by centre-left bloggers to “build the progressive grassroots online” in order to…

…make better links between campaigners from the worlds of politics, environment, development, civil liberties, unions, community groups…

…to share ideas for using social media to campaign against fiscal sanity the cuts. It all sounds terribly worthy, and I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than attend an event sponsored by the TUC where the key-note speakers include the likes of Sunny Hundal of liberal conspiracy, Sunder Katwala of the Fabians and Brendan Barber Current occupant of the Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov memorial chairmanship of the All-Union Central Council of Trades Unions.

Of course this is all new to the Lefties. For the last 13 years as the social media cranked up, a broadly sympathetic Labour party was in power. Online activism consisted of emotional blackmail of Labour members and persuasion of more or less influential MPs to sign early day motions. Once the Party lost power, their activism returned to type – violent protest, with the people smashing things and chucking bricks broadly condoned by the more moderate elements because it’s a symptom of “the anger we all feel”.

This “anger” is not directed at the policies for most of the “activists” at the rallies and demonstrations. It is tribal. The Labour party is not in power, so they’re now free to indulge their adolescent angst. It doesn’t work. The students had broad support, until they started disrespecting the cenotaph and pissing on the Statue of Sir Winston Churchill. Now the Government has a sympathetic ear from the tax-payer as they explain how their policy isn’t the herodic horror it’s been painted by the NUS.

So in order to “fight the cuts” the TUC is organising a day of speeches, and (FFS, they are parodies of themselves) ‘workshops’ in order to thrash out the unified message they’ll try to sell the rest of us. No enemies to the left, don’t split on the Labour brothers, don’t wash the movement’s dirty linen in public. Self-proclaimed “voice of a Generation” and New Statesman hack, Laurie Penny put it nicely

We’re listening politely whilst appointed arbiters of the centre-left mow the grassroots into a neat, acceptable bourgeois lawn .

Compare with the Right, Tory and Libertarian blogosphere which united to oppose the savagely illiberal and fiscally incompetent Labour government. I write about what interests me, for no-ones’s benefit but myself. If anyone’s persuaded or wants to argue, great! If someone thinks it’s useful, even better. Otherwise, I don’t care. Because there was no attempt at all from CCHQ to manage or control the message, or in anyway organise the message (I know – the Pre-Election bloggers’ forums organised for sympathetic bloggers by Eric Pickles which I attended were more by way of “thank-you” piss-ups), it was more credible. Guido, Conhome and Iain Dale built their readership BECAUSE they aren’t mere salesmen for the party. The bloggers who railed against the Labour government are now taking David Cameron to task, perhaps without the rage, but remaining independent of the Party and true to whatever grinds their axe. Even Conservative Home is often highly critical of the Leadership, whereas Guido often mocks the lefties for their complete refusal to cover stories damaging to the Left.

The result of this partisan hackery is that,under the pretext of getting rid of the Trolls (in practice this means ‘people who disagree’) and using the “network” the left-wing twitterati and blogosphere will build up at Netroots UK, they will end up speaking only to themselves. Enjoy your earnest, but deeply boring discussions about how to build a “progressive consensus” in the hermetically sealed echo-chamber of tedious student-union Marxists who never grew up. You can guarantee you’ll persuade no-one who doesn’t already agree that Red Ed’s problem is that he’s just not Left-wing enough.

Direct Democracy

The responses to the proposal that the most popular petitions receive a debate in parliament, and the top petition gets drafted as a bill, have ranged from derisory to enthusiastic. Of course, as ever, this blog is way ahead of the Government, and I think my proposals are constitutionally more subtle than the flawed and toothless proposals from the coalition. Who’s for a petition to make me dictator? Why not? It worked for Caesar.

In general, I am in favour of direct democracy. Arguments based on the stupidity of the people and the commensurate benefits of representative democracy will fall on deaf ears here: the people will make fewer stupid decisions than their elected representatives, even if they are deaf to the appeals of libertarianism.

Whilst the proposal being debated in parliament will mean that the majority, Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister for example, will be voted down. However the same issues will reach the top, time after time. Europe, a perennial bug-bear of the no. 10 petition site will get its debate, and will be rejected. As will bringing back the death penalty. The smoking ban may far better, and the Hunting ban will be the subject of endless pro and anti petitions.

The threshold will be sufficiently low that pretty much any well financed pressure group will get its debate in parliament. And, since the direct democracy Rubicon has been crossed (can you imagine removing such a right?) the ratchet will only go one way. So whilst this proposal will change the square-root of bugger all, there may be more to come.

Expect lots more debates on Hunting with hounds, Europe; expect illiberal legislation like the smoking ban to face harder passages through parliament in future as organised opposition mobilises support (how many people care enough to actively SUPPORT a ban -most just acquiesce). Sneer if you like to, but this is a step in the right direction.

The Bush-Era Tax Cuts Stay. Wrong Call.

When the Guardian reports on President Obama’s cave-in over the Bush-era tax cuts by saying…

Paul Krugman, the Nobel economics prize winner, called on Obama to stand firm against the Republicans’ “tax-cut blackmail” which will cost the US treasury $4 trillion in revenue over the next decade and prompt a “major fiscal crisis”.

they’re quoting an “economist” whose long-since abandoned serious research and become instead a parody of himself. The fact is, Krugman has worked out that there are an awful lot of people for whom no taxes are high enough (especially when applied to someone else, usually “the rich”) and neither can spending ever be high enough, and having a Nobel Laureate pander to their prejudices pays rather well. As he recently argued that the deficit was not big enough, to suggest that NOT RAISING TAXES which is what not allowing the Bush cuts to expire amounts to, is fiscally catastrophic when you’ve been arguing for a far higher level of Government spending funded by borrowing, Krugman is dishonest at best. The reality is more complex.

The jury is still out on whether “Fiscal stimulus”, using government spending to kick-start the economy by boosting demand, is possible at all outside the “automatic stabilisers” of welfare provision. But because most people are utterly ignorant of economics, they think state borrowing is a magic money-tree, which means you don’t have to tax in order to spend, this allows politicians who should know better to call state spending over and above that received in tax “investment” in the boom and “stimulus” in the bust. These are big, important-sounding words that make it seem that insane profligacy is backed by some proper economic thought.

Such “stimulus” can take two forms tax-cuts and state spending on services. Whilst keynes argued for the state to use slack demand in the economy to build roads and public works (a position close to coalition policy…) in practice, the neo Keynsians argue that it’s the borrowing that puts money into the economy, by increasing demand. This frees them to spend on their priorities unconstrained by tax reciepts which are rarely roads and public works which actually benefit joe ordinary, and instead consist of make-work schemes for a client state. Because this spending is of marginal utility, people are not better off in the long-run.

The arguments in favour of tax-cuts as stimulus are slightly stronger: by leaving the money in peoples pockets, some is spent on things people find worthwhile (ie NOT TSA Crotch-Fondlers and Diversity Outreach Coordinators), generating VAT and sales taxes and cycling through businesses leading to an increase in corporation tax. Some of it is invested (actually invested in the hope of an above inflation return as opposed to “invested” in public services) in businesses leading to extra employment, raising income tax receipts, stamp duty and CGT receipts, should the investmet go well. Some will be invested in Government bonds, which has the effect of lowering the interest rate paid by the Government. Of course, whether this increase in other taxes as a result of the tax-cut is greater than the “cost to the exchequer” is moot. I suspect, in the long run generally a well-designed tax-cut (ie not the ones Obama has just extended) may pay for itself in extra growth generated as explained above, in the short, run they just increase the deficit, with exactly the same effects as extra spending.

The absolute size of “the state” is not important here (even if I generally favour a smaller one), nor does the form the stimulus takes, extra spending or tax-cuts matter a great deal. What IS important, however is what Krugman himself once derided as “the old-time religion of sound-money”. Something the Republican right has abandoned with unfunded tax-cuts, and the British Left has never thought about in the first place with its insanely profligate love of ever-higher state spending.

Politicians risk stagflationary catastrophe (if they’re lucky…) by running these huge deficits, and it matters not whether it’s spending or tax-cuts which did it. The effect of deficits is the same – inflation as money is printed, high interest rates as the bond markets lose confidence; high intereset rates potentially cause the economy to stagnate, leading to currency weakness, raising the price of imports and effectively making people poorer. Furthermore, people save to offset future tax-rises and use artificially low short-term interest rates to pay off debt, negating much of the effect of the “stimulus”. So there’s not much if any extra growth in the economy for a great deal more debt hanging around the tax-payer’s neck. The way Governments spend money in practice means the tax-payer hasn’t even got good infrastructure for all that debt, which MIGHT have led to higher growth because extra state spending is often, in effect, like paying men to dig holes and fill them in: work of no utility at best. Leftists like this because they like lots of lovely government spending, and because, in the UK at least the neo-keynsians and leftists are the same people, the “stimulus money” gets spent on diversity outreach coordinators and assorted prod-noses, who actually hold back economic growth in a sea of red tape. In the US the punk-keynsians are on the right so the stimulus money is spent on more prisons, TSA crotch gropers, expeditionary warfare and the “war on drugs”, crippling the country in pointless security theater. Does any grown-up think this spending increases utility in the economy?

Whether it’s tax-cuts or spending increases, deficit spending doesn’t work to stimulate the economy beyond the Automatic stabilizers, especially in the long-run. The message to politicians is simple: Don’t cut taxes if you’re not going to cut spending. Don’t raise spending if you’re not going to raise taxes. In economics, there is no such thing as a free-lunch. Whether you favour a big state or a small spending MUST be paid for. Small deficits in a recession are fine – no-one’s suggesting that the budget be in balance every year, but deficit must be matched by surplus in the good times. And that happened under those much derided and much under-rated politicians: John Major (and Gordon Brown, for a couple of years, until he abandoned TORY spending plans, which is why I don’t give him credit) and Bill Clinton (how clever of him to hide unpopular fiscal sanity by shagging a fat lass)

So last night, Obama took the easy option and gave into the Republicans over Bush’s tax-cuts, and already American debt is falling sharply on the news, heralding higher interest rates for all, which will negate much of the stimulus effect, as millions pay more on their mortgages. Obama wasted all his political capital on futile Health care reform, and had none left to fight the Republicans where it matters. He seems to neither know, nor care about the danger of a big deficit. Indeed, he’s unwilling to cut spending, and appears to welcome a deficit as “stimulus” so he’s as much of a stupid Punk Keynsian as Ed Balls. He wants to Spend, Spend, Spend on Government programs. But like all politicians, he won’t ask the voter to pay for it – he may be able to blame the Republicans for half of the problem, but that’s a political call; he’s demonstrated his priorities. If you beleive in “stimulus” why not cut taxes as you raise spending? Politically, it makes sense: The voter’s kids, the poor dupes who are going to pay for it all eventually, don’t have a say. Of course America is a big, rich economy so the wheel will come off a long time after he (and Bush, who it must be remembered caused the problem in the first place) have left office.

Obama, the politician who entered office on a wave of Optimism not seen since JFK has failed to stand up to a recalcitrant congress and within two years become, fiscally at least, a nightmare love-child of Bush Junior and Gordon Brown. It is debasement of the currency caused ultimately by unfunded “bread and circuses” for the mob which eventually did for the Roman Empire. Unless we return to “the old-time religion of sound money”, and stop taking listening to that dishonest purveyor of pretty lies, Paul Krugman, western civilisation is doomed.

Labour: Shameless & Despicable

Tony Blair, when arguing in favour of the authorities being allowed to lock terrorist suspects for three months without charge, made the case, over and over that the move was vital for “security”. Three months was a bit much, even for Labour and this was eventually knocked down to 42 days pre-charge detention.

The police demanded it, he said, and the police are all-knowing. They never fit up the local suspicious dusky-looking odd-ball for high profile murders, and would never, ever use flawed intelligence to allow them to lock up, or even better, shoot the local suspicious, heavily bearded religion enthusiast. Intelligence, especially in the hands of those tireless and incorruptible public servants is always faultless, and the police cannot therefore be denied any power they ask for. It’s for the public’s own good, and of course, if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear. Despite the Government’s watertight case, Parliament in one of its occasional fits of contrariness, disagreed. The “compromise” was for suspicious-looking dusky types to be banged up on the police’s whim for a mere 28 days without being told why, if a nod from a judge could be obtained. 28 days is of course many, many times longer than in any other free democracy.

This was of course, never about “security”. Indeed the powers were never used. The plan was transparent. To create such an outrage against civil liberties that the Tories would be compelled to oppose it, thereby allowing Labour to campaign against them as “soft on terror”, because in Labour’s white working-class heartlands, “terrorist” means, “dusky, bearded religion enthusiast” and definitely not “us” or “people like us”. This case would be handy in a fight against the BNP, as the subtle difference between being locked up and being locked up WITHOUT CHARGE is lost on the majority of Britain’s spectacularly stupid electorate.

Now, in opposition, Labour need back their wet-arsed, mewling, pinko former supporters who hated the Labour government’s outrageous and savage assault on civil liberties. When in opposition, there are no “difficult decisions” just voters to placate, and lefties, who are so brainwashed into believing that Tory=Evil, and Labour=Righteous that they have forgotten, and forgiven Labour in a mere 6 months, whilst not seeing any irony in still blaming Thatcher & the Tories for everything else wrong with the country. At best, this is naive, at worst dumb, lumpen tribalist stupidity. Labour has admitted its mistakes, and the thuggish Ed Balls has said he MIGHT support a move to drop the detention without charge to the still-outrageous 14 days, which is still much longer than in any equivalent free democracy.

Labour, having run for 13 years one of the most savagely authoritarian regimes in the free world in which they systematically and comprehensively demolished most of the safeguards protecting the people from the misuse of executive power, cannot be taken seriously when they say “whoops, sorry! Our Bad!”. I would need to see a lot more evidence of a change of heart before I forgive the party. I suspect Labour’s U-turn is as transparently political as the policy when they were in Government. Their U-turn is welcome, but I don’t trust them nor should anyone who claims to have any love of freedom, until they expunge anyone who voted in favour of 42-day pre-charge detention.

Yes, that means you, Mr Balls. I make much of Labour’s catastrophic economic mismanagement, but it is the profound destruction of freedoms that will be the legacy of the Blair & Brown years long after we’ve paid the financial bill.

Farewell to the Devil…

…So the Devil has joined Mr Eugenides in throwing in the Towel.

There’s still all manner of socialist lunacy to oppose at all levels of Government. Even if I am broadly in agreement with this Government’s approach, there are councils, there are celebrities, there are unions, there are people who’ve lived high on the fat of a profligate government now bleating about “cuts”. They are parading the bleeding stumps of the poor, in many cases kept poor by those policies they’re bleating about cutting. These are the people who need opposing – the needlessly entitled client state that Labour built – help the Coalition smash it.

Of course if your demands are “dismantle the entire edifice of the state by next tuesday” you’re always going to be dissapointed. If you cannot see any benefit from the EU, and think it THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE, and see plots and betrayal where I see a pragmatically skeptical Government which has more important things to do than tilt at the EU windmill, you’re always going to be angry. The election, as far as I am concerned produced a result which may, in time, result in a good government. So I too am losing the rage and throwing rocks at opposition politicians (metaphorically speaking I don’t want to end up prosecuted for “threatening communication”) is less fun than it was when they ran things.

The oppositional mindset of the Blogger prior to May was about the savage assualt on civil liberties. Now, its about whining that you have to stand on your own two feet once more as the state removes the comfort blanket. The blogosphere is going to be a much diminished thing if Liberal Conspiracy is in the vanguard and all it is bleating about is ‘cuts’.

Of course, I will miss the Devil’s cathartic ranting ond forensic foul-mouthed fisking. He’s a good mate in meatspace too. However as someone somewere said “Blogging is like the Hotel california: you can check out, but you can never leave”. The devil will return, of that you can be sure.

Some of you may have noticed a drop off in the volume of posting here. Of course when I am inspried, I write, when I am not, I don’t. At the moment I am busy and Travelgall is away for a couple of weeks. Rest assured, we will stay in harness at least until the Labour corpse stops twitching. I may not be directly opposed to the Government, I am, after all, a card-carrying Conservative. I am, and always will be opposed to “the state” insofar as it affects me and my life, whether by enabling corporate fuckwittery, or by rapacious taxation, or by poor, illiberal law-making.

The Government is not libertarian. The state is still consuming over 50% of GDP. Tax is over 40% of GDP. The civil liberties outlook is, like the country’s finances merely getting shittier at a slightly reduced rate. There is still much for the Libertarian blogosphere to do.

The Student Protests

I’ll defer to someone who was there or thereabouts: Guido sums it up well, but in offering my opinion, I’ll ask ‘will everyone stop being so po-faced about it’.

Of course the NUS routed the march past Millbank, and of Course the NUS was involved in the violent as well as the non-violent bits of the protest. So I take the Student leadership’s condemnation of the invasion of CCHQ with a pinch of salt. It’s about as credible as those coming from Gerry Adams – and for the same reason, if rather less lycanthropic and scary. The political process must maintain the fiction of non-violence, but you get further with a kind word and a gun, than you do with a just kind word. The NUS knew the green-haired rock-chuckers of Class War and others, the same idiots who attend evey climate camp, G20 summit and protest would tag along yesterday too. The student leaders have a hard-on for the Soixant-huitards, and they need serious rioting to be taken seriously. “There are, like, you-know, some SERIOUSLY angry people, actually.”

Finally, the police, facing cuts of their own, were only too happy to be “overwhelmed” by a bunch of limp-wristed Celia & Tarquins as they gained access to the building where police budget cuts were decided, hence the rather paltry police numbers.

Face it, this was a good result for all concerned: Fighting is fun. The crusties got to kick off, the police got to break some white, middle-class heads for a change, whilst allowing the Conservatives in their HQ to suffer a bit of criminal damage, which can’t hurt when the home office budget is discussed. The Labour party somehow have got away with their policy being essentially identical (and staggeringly hypocritical). Finally the Government gets to say “we don’t give into violence”.

No-one was killed, and apart from the couple of dozen who were arrested, and the Liberal Democrats, everyone goes home for tea and medals feeling very satisfied with themselves following this rather predictable piece of political theatre. Who says violence doesn’t solve anything?

Corruption, Or why I’m not fussed about SpAds

You’ll notice Bitching about Alastair Campbell was absent from this blog back in the day. OH… I may have bitched about his EFFECTS, but that’s bitching about a successful enemy. I never denied his right to do the job he did, and have grudging respect for his ability.

Likewise the army of SPADs, spin-doctors, parachuted Lords and others who made up the last Government’s Sofa cabinet, and the same creatures who look like making the coalition’s sofa cabinet. Party political workers joining the Civil Service to serve the Government seems to me natural; as do experts and wonks serving in the Lords to have access to ministerial appointments. Guido disagrees, and calls it “naturalisation” of the Coalition.

Devil’s Kitchen will no doubt call the “new coalition overlords” the “same as the last Government”. However the sofa cabinet was not the root of the corruption of politics. The real corruption of British politics is the power of patronage over MPs. The force that sees MPs surrender their duty to hold the Government to account, to act as a nodding dog and Lobby-fodder in order to please the whips sufficiently to serve in ministerial office one day.

What we get therefore is an executive drawn from a shallow Gene-pool of 650 (plus a few Lords), and a Legislature supine before the executive which holds the only route into Government for its members. Neither branch works very well, so this is why we’ve handed all oversight to the judiciary, which ain’t exactly democratic. What we really need is a stronger parliament, and greater, though not total separation of the Legislature and executive. I would encourage the Government to pull whomsoever it wants in Government into the Lords, and give them offices of State pretty much at will, save for a few of the Great offices of State. Service in the commons should therefore be all about being an effective constituency representative and standing for your beliefs without the imminent prospect of a Call from #10.

The new intake of Tory MPs is showing admirable independence, but they too will soon be “naturalised” too, unless the system and conventions change. The truth is, the conventions don’t need to change much, the glory of our unwritten constitution is its flexibility. Unfortunately, plans to elect peers will put them on exactly the same footing as MPs, and will make them subject to the whips in exactly the same way.

‘Idiocy’ is trying the same thing again and expecting a different result. Which is why I strongly oppose an elected Lords.