16 November 2015

Je Suis Parisien de nouveau

You all know what happened on Friday the 13th, for the second time this year, Islamofascists (a bit more descriptive than the "neutral" term Islamist) murdered their way across Paris.  This time instead of "just" being offended by cartoons or people being Jewish, they were "offended" by people at a concert, at a football match, at a restaurant. 

France has responded by bombing Raqqa, capital of "Islamic State", because as the Socialist President of France, Francois Hollande pointed out, France is at war.  The attacks were claimed by ISIS, and for now it appears they were at least incited by, if not funded and armed (and partly manned) by ISIS.   It is war, against Western civilisation, against the modern, tolerant, diverse society of people who simply LOVE LIFE.  For that is what Islamofascists (and indeed all totalitarians) despise for the people they enslave.

However, the West is fundamentally weakened in response.  Because the dominant philosophical influence in the West is one of self-hatred, guilt and identity politics driven cowardice of the left, and the opposition to this is dominated by "conservatives" who are so tied-up in philosophical contradictions and embrace of the guilt and self-loathing expounded by the left, that they are impotent, and the only other discourse that occasionally emerges is kneejerk racism - i.e. those who just want to deport all Muslims.

Brendan O'Neill in Spiked has written about the hand-wringing apologists.  The whole article is worth a read, he are excerpts:

It’s in the already emerging handwringing about a possible Islamophobic response to the attacks, with observers fretting that ‘there could be a backlash, largely driven by confusion and anxiety’. This has become routine after every terror attack: the first response of concerned observers is not with the actual victims of actual terrorism but with possible victims of a moronic mob uprising that exists entirely in their imaginations. This, too, speaks to a profound self-loathing in the West, where the media and political elite’s fear is always how their own societies, and what they see as their inscrutable fellow citizens, a ‘confused and anxious’ mass, will behave. They condemn the terrorism, yes — but they fundamentally fear and loathe the societies they live in, the people they live among.

it is precisely this response, this moral disarray in the modern West, which acts as a green light to terrorist groups or individuals to punish us. It’s an invitation to assault. The interplay between the self-loathing of the modern West and the nihilism of Islamist outfits is striking. They are a brutal, violent expression of a disgust for the modern world that has its origins in the universities, political circles and media elites of the West itself as much as in volatile, unstable territories in the Islamic world. Indeed, many of the attacks in the West over the past 15 years have been carried out by people either born in or educated in the West.

12 November 2015

Remember Cultural Safety in nursing education?

This widely viewed Australian spoof about education isn't far from the mark:

This Ph.D thesis from Massey called "A Maori model of Primary Health Care Nursing" exemplifies this nonsense.  Take this gem:

Unfortunately, much of the present literature on which we rely to develop nursing curriculum, practice and health policies is presented, not only from a pakeha perspective but also with a strong
biomedical focus. This has proved to be of little use to Maori.

Post-modernist identity politics denies that modern medicine is of" little use" to people from a pre-modern culture.  Now I agree that being sensitive to the customs and beliefs of patients is entirely a sensible part of nursing, but this is simply treating people as individuals and customising providing services in ways that optimises their experience.  However, to treat medical science as being secondary or even almost dismiss it altogether is complete nonsense.

The insanity of not judging people's actions and capabilities as individuals, but as categorised groups, and the insanity of the denial of reality and objectivity are exactly what this little video identifies.  It's about time it was laughed at and challenged, because the philosophy and values behind it are not only irrational, but fundamentally corrosive to individual rights and freedoms to the point where, as in my previous post, those applying it become not only appeasers of fascism, but apply fascist techniques to their approach to any form of challenge.

The single biggest philosophical threat to our freedoms is not Islamism itself, nor a new generation of Marxism-Statism, but the entire edifice of post-modernist relativism and structuralism - for it is that which is hindering the policies and practices needed to confront the fascists from all sides.

So how far away from how things are is this?

07 November 2015

Student Unions in the UK explicitly appeasing fascism

It's entirely logical.  The natural conclusion of the philosophy of post-modernist moral relativism, that refuses to apply moral judgment to those who engage in genocide, slavery and rape of women and children, incinerates prisoners of war, beheads those it simply dislikes (including children who do not submit to its religion) and kills men for being gay.  

For that is what University College London (student) Union has done, following on from the National Union of Students last year.  Brendan O'Neill in The Spectator writes more on what happened.  Basically, the Activities and Events Officer of UCLU (Asad Khan) said that a former student, who has fought with the Kurds in Syria to repel ISIS, could not talk about his experiences because "there are two sides and UCLU wants to avoid taking sides".

Moral relativism has hit its epitome in this act by Asad Khan.  I wonder if Mr Khan takes the same approach when confronted with any crimes.  Would he stop women talking about rape because "there are two sides"? Would someone talking about racist abuse be told that she couldn't talk without the alleged abuser being there because "there are two sides"?  I doubt it.  Asad Khan is a selective moral relativist, he only wants to appease mass murdering fascist religious fundamentalists who are explicitly sexist, racist, homophobic and touters of violence as the solution to any infringement.

NUS last year refused to approve a motion condemning ISIS because that would be "Islamophobic" and offensive.   As if this doesn't feed the belief of some that all Muslims are deep down supporters of the ideology and tactics of ISIS.

What this tells you is that student unions in the UK, which long have had remarkably selective morality about foreign affairs.  It goes without saying that for decades it rightly condemned apartheid, but never had anything to say about the slaughters of opponents by African dictatorships such as Robert Mugabe.  It's always been a friend of the Palestinians and opponent of Israel, but not so much the friend of the Iranian opposition to the regime.   In short, it has always been vehement against dictatorships and perceived oppression caused by the UK Government, the US, NATO member states or other Western regimes, but curiously quiet over any regimes that take on any of the above.   Standard far-left moral relativism which fits in perfectly with the current leader of the UK Labour Party.

Yet now, it should be abundantly clear to any students with a conscience, libertarian or even those who identify themselves as left-liberal (with the beliefs in secularism, free speech, feminism, LGBT rights), that the student union movement in the UK has now aligned itself with a far-left movement that is, at its core, fascist.

It's not that the student unions are completely amoral and relativist, demanding equal weight and time be given to all opinions on everything.   Like I said above, they would never take a stance on anything at that point, as all opinions are equally valid and it would be "disempowering" to take a stand which explicitly repudiates the views of others.  

No, they have views, it's just that the perspective that wins out, over everything, is fundamentally illiberal, intolerant and appeasing of fascism.  

A man who fought to protect civilians from violence, including murder, enslavement and women and children from rape, was not allowed to speak because those who would murder, enslave and rape deserve a hearing too.  What's that if not appeasement of fascism?

For that's what ISIS is, it is what the more "moderate" forms of Islamism (as seen in Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States) are.  Islamofascism.  This is what the mainstream of the British left now tolerates because it is what the Labour Party leader (and his acolytes) now express as their standard view

It is what journalist and former Labour Party member Nick Cohen described in The New Statesman:

the fact remains that the Labour party has just endorsed an apologist for Putin’s imperial aggression; a man who did not just appear on the propaganda channel of Russia, which invades its neighbours and persecutes gays, but also of Iran, whose hangmen actually execute gays. Labour’s new leader sees a moral equivalence between 9/11 and the assassination of bin Laden, and associates with every variety of women-hating, queer-bashing, Jew-baiting jihadi, holocaust denier and 9/11 truther. His supporters know it, but they don’t care.

For those of us who are libertarians, we are used to the far-left appeasing soft communist regimes like Venezuela, which harasses the opposition media, stacks the courts, wrecks the economy and blames it all on US imperialism.  We are used to the far-left demanding civil liberties, but seeking to take the majority of some people's income, and some of their assets, to control their entrepreneurial activities and even more lately, curtail their freedom of speech because it might cause "offence".

However, now the mainstream left appeases the very people who would impose a tyranny that would take all that it claims to care for back to the dark ages.

Even when some of them oppose ISIS, they are willing to appease a lesser tyranny (Bashar Assad) that drops chemical weapons and barrel bombs civilians, presumably because Assad is ideologically aligned to the left.  After all, the Assad hereditary dictatorship has long been aligned to the USSR (and now Russia), been anti-Western, has repeatedly occupied Lebanon, waged war against Israel and backed Hezbollah, and is now backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.  

This video from the BBC programme Daily Politics below reveals how Syrian opposition activists claim the self-styled (far left) "Stop The War Coalition" (which Jeremy Corbyn has long belonged to) has rallies against war in Syria to back the Assad dictatorship.  With a meeting chaired by Shadow International Aid Secretary Diane Abbott (a long standing hard-left Labour MP), "Stop the War"  refused to let any Syrians talk at a public meeting about "opposing war in Syria".

In essence, "Stop the War" coalition isn't opposed to war in Syria at all, simply opposed to Western intervention in the war.  As far as it is concerned, it doesn't want to know about the Assad regime bombing civilians and using chemical weapons, killing over 100,000, for it backs that side against both the small liberal opposition, and the wide swathe of Islamist opposition groups, including ISIS (but it doesn't support Western bombing of ISIS because the West can't do any good anywhere).

Hardly surprising, since mourner for the USSR and sycophant of multiple dictatorships, George Galloway, praised Bashar Assad:

I wouldn't be surprised if Galloway didn't seek to rejoin the Labour Party and become a candidate, presuming he loses his bid to be Mayor of London next year under his Islamofascist appeasing/Marxist RESPECT Party banner.

You'll find the same appeasement of Islamofascism in universities and increasingly the mainstream left all over the Western world, including the USA, Australia and New Zealand.  It is the banal end-result of combining identity politics (which deems all Muslims as "victims" deserving of special kid gloves treatment and tolerance, regardless of their own views) with the vacuous moral relativism of post-modernists philosophy (there being no such thing as objective reality or morality rooted in reason and values, just different cultural/identity perspectives).

In this environment, actual Islamofascists can shield themselves as being protected by those whose other values they despise.  Meanwhile, Muslims who seek to move towards more liberal values or apostate Muslims (who have converted to other religions or rejected religion) are largely ignored.  After all if you reject Islam, you're no longer a member of the oppressed identity.

In the 1930s, the far-left ignored and appeased Stalin, in the 1960s and 1970s it appeased Mao, today it appeases Islamofascism.  However today, the far-left IS the mainstream left.  In between patrolling language it considers racist, sexist and homophobic, it is providing succour for the most racist, sexist, homophobic band of terrorists seen in modern history.

It's time to call them out for what they are - appeasers and facilitators of fascism.

04 November 2015

Wellington Airport Runway Extension: Definition of a Cargo Cult: Part One

For those unfamiliar with the term "cargo cult" it is a description of what might best be called as a naive practice of some cultures with low levels of scientific understanding and a high belief in animist religions that certain rituals will result in untold riches arriving from the skies.  Nowadays it is often shortened into "built it and they will come".

Such is the hype around the planned extension to the runway of Wellington Airport - a proposal that completely lacks pure commercial merit and has no net wider economic benefit - but is being promoted by the opportunistic, encouraged by the naive and to be paid for, largely, by those will get no benefit from it at all.

I say this as someone who grew up 1.5kms from the airport and knows a bit about the aviation sector, having recently been part of the team that reviewed over 50 proposals for expanding airport capacity in London.  I know Wellington Airport very well, and the likelihood that there will be long haul flights into that airport that will generate net benefits to Wellington ratepayers to recover the costs of subsidising the runway extension is very low indeed.

Let's remember the airport is a commercial concern, two-thirds owned by Infratil, which itself is not willing to contribute two-thirds of the capital costs of the project.  It's the owner of the other third - Wellington City Council - that is the problem, because it is willing to force ratepayers (along with other Wellington councils) to cough up half of the liability to boost the value of Infratil's investment. This in itself should cause both believers in the free market and socialists to baulk at public subsidy for a predominantly private entity, but no - they have cargo cult syndrome.

They believe that magically if an airport extension is built, there will be long haul flights from Wellington to Asia and the Middle East, making the city more attractive for business.  However, it is far from clear exactly:

- Why airlines will fly long haul to Wellington;
- Are the assumptions about the the benefits claimed valid?

09 October 2015

Abandoning foreign policy now means Pax Rus - is it what you wanted?

Whether it be left-wing activists of the so-called "peace" movement or libertarians who think that foreign policy should mean immediate withdrawal from the world, the recent events in Syria have demonstrated that when the USA, and with it the Western world, decides to withdraw from being involved in other countries, that others will fill the vacuum.

So it is that President Obama, who ridiculed Mick Romney's claim that Russia was a rising threat, has left the opponents of the Marxist/militarist hereditary dictatorship of Bashar Assad wide open to being attacked, by the air, by Vladimir Putin's unashamedly expansionist military.  

Dad and son, and their personality cult
Had Obama been true to the neutrality that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee had presumably rewarded him for "ex.ante", he would have said that there is no Western interest in what happens to Syria.  For indeed, his pitiful actions (a few airstrikes against Islamic State) have demonstrated not much above it.  In fact, I would have respected, if disagreed, with a position that replicates that of the nihilist libertarian isolationists who want the USA to withdraw from the world, and let Islamism grow, tyrants take over its friends and do nothing, until the first missile, bomber or terrorist controlled airliner strikes US soil (actually scrub that, for when the latter happens, even they think the response is NOT to attack those who harboured them).

If the so-called "land of the free" wants to withdraw from the world, then those of us who bear the consequences of that withdrawal better be prepared for the cost of this, but let's not pretend that the USA gives a damn about other peoples wanting to be lands of the free or escape tyranny.  That's their battle, and if others want to join in their oppression, don't pretend that it matters.

So to Syria.

15 September 2015

Jeremy Corbyn the new communist Leader of the Opposition

Ed Miliband's greatest failure as former leader of the UK Labour Party was not losing the 2015 election worse than Gordon Brown did in 2010, but in leaving it a new process for electing leader that has helped ensure that one of the least appropriate MPs in the House of Commons, now leads the Opposition.

To make it clear, Jeremy Corbyn has, for decades, been a bit of a joke.  One of the handful of MPs on the Trotskyite extremes of the Labour Party, who has never held any office in the Labour Party shadow cabinets, nor in government.  Not only was he never a parliamentary undersecretary under a Labour Government, but he was never a shadow spokesman either.  His views are not only well to the left of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband, but also Neil Kinnock and arguably also Michael Foot - whose 1983 election manifesto was famously the "longest suicide note in history".

As Conservatives guffaw at him becoming leader of a party, that only months ago it feared losing to, it's worth remembering some of his positions, but also the context within which "Corbyn-mania" has appeared.

Corbyn believes there is nothing worth doing that shouldn't be managed by the government.  He believes that education should be under the control of a National Education Service, wants all public schools under central control and would strip private schools of their charity status (and would prefer if they all closed down too).  He wants to abolish tertiary tuition fees and to guarantee all graduates a job.

He wants the multiple private railway companies and the gas and electricity companies to all be nationalised, without compensation to the owners.  He opposes "austerity" and is open to printing money to pay for large government infrastructure projects, mostly around more state housing and public transport.  He wants higher taxes, higher welfare payments and a massive programme of building council houses, and to introduce rent caps on the private rental sector.

He wants to reopen coal mines, ban fracking and wants a new "Green economy" funded by taxpayers. Yes, he believes in the environment and coal mining.

Suffice to say that a man who thinks Venezuela is a shining example, is an economics moron, but it is much worse than this.

Corbyn's approach to foreign affairs can be summed up by three points:

-  The Western world is the source of all of the world's ills;
- When other countries have dictatorships or wars, it is probably the fault of the Western world somehow;
-  Israel is the source of evil in the Middle East, or it is the USA.  Take your pick.

He says "the survival of Cuba since 1979 is an inspiration to the poorest in the region", forgetting of course that this is done on the backs of an authoritarian one-party state that imprisons and tortures opponents.  What else can be said of a man who called the murderous Sandinistas heroic?

What of his welcoming members of the IRA to the House of Commons weeks after the IRA bombed the Grand Hotel in Brighton, killing five people in 1984 (attempting to kill PM Thatcher)?  What of his colleague John McDonnell saying it was time to honour IRA bombers, because it was they who gave up the war and created peace?

He believes the UK should abolish its independent nuclear deterrent because it would "set an example" to countries like north Korea to disarm.  Is he stupid, or does he simply think that totalitarian socialist states have some good in them that can be appeased?

He talked of his friends at Hamas and Hezbollah, justifying it saying he calls "everyone" he meets friends and it is important, when seeking peace, to talk to all sides (the same excuse he gave for meeting the IRA).  He has yet to meet anyone from the Israeli Government of course (nor Ulster unionists, let alone paramilitaries).  Then again, he also donated to Deir Yassin Remembered, a campaign run by Holocaust denier Paul Eisen.  Corbyn vehemently rejects anti-semitism, and I believe he is genuine.  However, he associates and gives succour to anti-semites and those who want Israel "wiped off the map".  It's difficult to see how he reconciles this.

He would like the UK to withdraw from NATO because he opposes its "eastern expansion", ignoring that a key reason for that expansion are former satellites of the USSR keen to be protected from their former imperial master.   However,  he doesn't see Russia as being so bad.  Indeed, he thinks NATO has provoked it, by talking to Georgia about membership (of course it didn't happen, and part of Georgian territory is now Russian occupied), and Ukraine (ditto). 

He rails vehemently against Western imperialism, which means any military action by the West or Western states, but he never protests such intervention from Russia or Iran or China.   He opposed the UK defending the Falklands from a military dictatorship, indicating that in any conflict, he will tend to take the view that the "other side" probably has a point, and the UK (and the West) should relent.   

Of course, none of this is new, he's been a Marxist rebel for over 30 years, but he has backing, from a solid core of old-fashioned communists, who miss the USSR (think George Galloway, Ken Livingstone), and a new generation of airhead Marxists, brought up on the class, race, gender consciousness of identity politics in schools and universities, and using the internet to spread their hate filled ignorance.

Don't forget at the height of the Cold War, this sort of politics did gather nearly 28% of the vote.  For those joking that Corbyn and his views are "unelectable" consider what is in his favour that was not the case in 1983:

- Thatcher had barely won back the Falkland in a big show of patriotic success, which Labour had opposed.  There will be no winning war likely in the next few years;

- The Liberal Party was in a position to ally itself with a breakaway party from Labour (the SDP) and had been on the resurgence.  By contrast, the Liberal Democrats were almost wiped out at the 2015 general election and are moribund, and unlikely to present a credible alternative;

- The anti-NATO/anti-nuclear campaign in 1983 was in the context of taking on the USSR, which no longer exists as an example of "what socialists really want".  A whole generation of airheads have no idea about what life under the jackboot of Marxism-Leninism really is like;

- Far left voters partly drifted to the Greens and SNP in the last election, if Labour pulls back many of those voters, they will come close to the Conservatives in share of the vote - but with First Past the Post that might be plenty to win a majority;

- The demographics of the UK have changed, with more immigrants and ethnic minority voters who tend to support Labour, although that relationship is not as tight as Labour would hope, it is one reason Labour did relatively well in London at the General Election.

So don't rule him out completely, but then I fully expect the Conservative Party to not take advantage of this move to the far left, but rather engage in a sopping wet contest for the middle muddle ground of mediocrity.  It already has with its commitment to raising the minimum price of labour to the so-called "living wage" level (with some retailers already warning about how inflationary that will be, which will make the "living wage" even higher and so on).  It continues to engage in totemic wasteful projects like HS2, and a massively subsidised nuclear power station, whilst worshipping the NHS religion and playing corporatism and central planner with multiple sectors.  Too many in the Conservatives would rather win a massive majority for the sake of power than actually reverse socialism and state privilege wherever it may be.

With David Cameron standing down before the next election, is it too much to ask for a Conservative leader who actually is opposed to not only the policies, but the principles and rhetoric of the new Labour leader?

10 September 2015

Farewell Air NZ 737s - the noisy revolutionaries

On the 6th of September, NZ557 from Christchurch to Auckland marked the end of Boeing 737 service for Air New Zealand.  This was barely mentioned by the press, but there is history behind Air NZ (and its predecessor NAC) flying Boeing 737s, because they truly revolutionised travel within the country in the 1960s and in just over 10 years or so they had seen off the end of the Wellington-Lyttelton overnight ferry, the Christchurch-Dunedin-Invercargill overnight train and one of the two Auckland-Wellington overnight train services - despite best efforts by politicians to prop the latter three up with subsidies.

Before aviation enthusiasts jump on me, yes, I know the Boeing 737-300s that have been flying the last decade and a half are not the ones that started flying in 1968.  These were the 3rd generation of the type NAC first flew on the "main trunk" Auckland-Wellington-Christchurch Dunedin", and yes there is now a 4th generation (which are the types flown by the likes of Qantas and Virgin Australia to NZ today), but the basic design retain a lot of commonality.  Besides, I like an excuse for a bit of history, and this one contains a political element that demonstrates, once again, how "democratic control" of a business can so easily sow the seeds of failure.

NAC was wholly owned by the Government and had virtually a statutory monopoly on domestic air services.  Other airlines did provide services, but they had to prove to the bureaucracy that there was demand for the service (heaven forbid a business start up service risking it might not have customers!) and prove it would not interfere with the services provided by existing operators.  So NAC had a legal veto over competition.  Nevertheless, it almost always operated profitably overall, although the reality was that the "main trunk" was gouging passengers and making high profits, whereas services to provincial airports like Kaitaia, Gisborne, Oamaru and Westport were unprofitable, but considered politically important (unlike today, with Air NZ which is profit focused across the network).   Still, NAC, as government businesses were at the time, was run by aviation professionals and as the jet age started in the 1950s, by the early 1960s it was becoming clear that the next revolution in air travel would be pure jet travel.  It gained Government permission to go to tender for jet aircraft to fly domestic services in 1965.

The three main manufacturers at the time, Boeing, Douglas and British Aircraft Corporation all were shortlisted.  Boeing with its, as yet unflown, 737. Douglas with the DC-9, and BAC with its BAC 1-11.  NAC's criteria for the aircraft to choose included speed of turnaround, fuel efficiency and ability to manoeuvre safely and reliably at Wellington Airport (which had a runway even shorter than it has today).  Herein comes the "democratic control" element.  The then Holyoake National Government wasn't impressed by the conclusion of NAC's analysis, that the Boeing 737 was the best aircraft for the job.  It was more interested in international trade diplomacy and winning the support of the British Government in securing favourable trade access when it would eventually enter the EEC.  It insisted that NAC "look again" at its business case, delaying approval for its capital investment in the 737.

NAC did, and once again made it clear that the 737 was the right plane for the job, and so it proved to be.  Over 8,600 Boeing 737s have been built (and are still being built), of the four generations of the original design (and a fifth generation is being developed).  The BAC 1-11? 244 and production ended in 1982, although Romania's Ceausescu regime was licensed by the Callaghan government to produce 22 it struggled to complete 9 by the time the vile regime was overthrown in 1989.  It was not the last attempt by a New Zealand Government to intervene commercially in the decisions of its airlines, but fortunately the airline won and so NAC was one the earliest operators of the Boeing 737 (Lufthansa was the first), the plane that (after some slow years) would be Boeing's biggest selling variant ever.

So what was the result? It cut travel time on the routes it serviced by nearly half, and it was 50% faster than the Vickers Viscounts it was replacing, so one Boeing 737 could fly around twice as many services a day with 50% more passengers, saving them a considerable amount of time, but also enabling airfares to be more affordable, particular for growing business traffic between the main centres.   As a result, the competing modes were increasingly hit hard.

02 September 2015

Emotionalism - the new post-religious puritanism

Forgive the length of this piece, but this is a very big issue that should concern not only those who embrace academic freedom, but also more generally individual freedom and the importance of reason.

As Mary Wakefield in The Spectator last week put it:

Back in the 1990s, PC students would stamp about with placards demanding equal rights for minorities and talking about Foucault. This new PC doesn’t seem to be about protecting minorities so much as everyone, everywhere from ever having their feelings hurt.

The illiberal left (and I am not being pejorative here, but believe that despite their claims, these are people who are as illiberal as any hardline social-conservatives, in their own way) regard the term "political correctness" as a reactionary pejorative label against "liberation" movements that seek equal treatment of people based on a whole set of agreed identity politics based categories.  It is swiftly dismissed, rather than the key arguments behind it tackled, not least because, unfortunately, so many who claimed "political correctness gone mad" (as if it was ever sane) were themselves not particularly articulate about their concerns, or (if you scratched the surface) racist, sexist and homophobic.

Today the illiberal left (yes there is a genuinely liberal left) have moved on, into what I call the new tyranny of emotionalism.  It is the belief that if something someone says or gestures or does, hurts your feelings, the person who says or gestures or does whatever, should refrain from doing so, to protect the hurt feelings of the "offended".

It is seen in the reaction of illiberal left to the Charlie Hebdo murders by Islamists - after a cursory expression of horror, their first reaction was that nobody should say anything to upset Muslims, by taking on the tyranny of those seeking Islamic blasphemy legal principles to apply to the free world. Then it went much further, with television in the UK refusing to show the cover of Charlie Hebdo magazine, because it might offend a tiny minority of viewers.

It is seen in the anonymous vitriol poured out by those offended by an article published in a newspaper that was neither illegal, nor gratuitous (but the newspaper was from the spawn of the devil - being The Times, owned by the illiberal left's own pantomine villain - Rupert Murdoch - whose main crime has been to establish or buy media outlets that express views they not only disagree with, but importantly disapprove of).   It saw the newspaper pull the article because of the angry mob.

It is seen in the complete absurdity of a UK National Union of Students Women's Conference asking delegates to not applaud speakers because it "triggered" anxiety for some students.  So "Jazz Hands" were suggested instead.  The language used by one of the advocates for this hyper-emotionalism responded by saying:

21 August 2015

Harmful Digital Communications Act indeed

Turn away for long enough and I find the NZ government does something outrageous to curtail freedom and to expand Nanny State, sure enough it has with the Orwellian sounding "Harmful Digital Communications Act".  Even if I supported it, if I was a Minister getting that title passed over my desk by a Ministry of Justice manager, I'd have tore a strip off of her or him for having had a complete lack of any education in either literature or history to give ANY legislation such a title.

The purpose of the Act as well has shades of Big Brother:

"to deter, prevent, and mitigate harm caused to individuals by digital communications; and
provide victims of harmful digital communications with a quick and efficient means of redress"

It's a curious post-modernist trend for laws to be created not to protect rights based on well worn principles of individual rights and freedoms, property rights, contracts and torts, but to "prevent harm" - to have laws to sanitise life so that "everyone" is protected.

However, the term "harm" doesn't mean physical harm.  There is no need for new laws covering an actual infringement of your body (although the digital dimension does justify ensuring laws protect your property and covers contracts and torts), for such laws exist - in abundance - including ones to protect you from yourself.  The harm being covered is, what "The Flight of the Conchords" would say are "hurt feelings".

Being offended, is to be harmed.  To be distressed by what someone else has said, is to harmed.  This goes beyond defamation, which is - indeed - damage to one's property in the form of your reputation. It's an almost childlike drive to make everything structured and inoffensive.  In the UK, it came out in its most absurd form a few months ago with the National Union of Students Women's Conference saying:

"Some delegates are requesting that we move to jazz hands rather than clapping, as it's triggering anxiety. Please be mindful"

I didn't make that up.  If someone is a little bit upset, then everyone else must conform to avoid upsetting that person.  It's the radical so-called "progressive" identity politics champions being manufactured by post-modernist university departments out of air headed students raised on this form of Newspeak. 

So the Harmful Digital Communications Act is about "serious emotional distress".  It is now a crime in New Zealand to make someone else upset, digitally (now now!).  I know I did that when I separated from my wife, thankfully I didn't do it by text message today, or I might be in trouble.

However, let's see how you might get into trouble, because Amy Adams, the National Party, the Labour Party, the Maori Party, NZ First and much of the Green Party thinks your freedom of speech should be curtailed, in case it distresses someone.  Kudos to ACT's David Seymour for standing up to it, and indeed Russel Norman, Gareth Hughes, Julie-Anne Genter and Steffan Browning for having thought about it.  

I know this legislation has had much coverage online for what's bad about it, but it deserves constant attention, and every single MP who voted for it needs to be exposed for their moronic endorsement of it.  It's a disgrace to all who voted for it, and if anything indicates clearly how utterly incompetent they are in being able to apply principle and concepts to problems and issues, it is this law.

I encourage all to push the boundaries of this law to expose this incompetence.

17 August 2015

70 years since VJ Day - a victory that was necessary and moral

I remember hearing the stories of the men who endured being POWs of Japan in World War 2. Growing up with TV series such as Tenko exposed me to a taste of the sadism and violence of imperial Japan.  So it is with some sadness to note that one of the primary narratives, from the so-called "liberal" left has been not remembering the brutality, fascism and racism of Japanese militarism, but demands for American apologies for Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It's a small sign that culturally, the stories of the Burma Railway (which saw around 100,000 work as slave labour), the Nanking Massacre (at least 50,000 killed, 20,000 women and girls raped) and Japan's brutal occupation of almost all of east Asia from Korea to today's Indonesia, have such a low profile. You can be sure that China's modern tyrants and the two Koreas damn well make sure nobody forgets in their countries, as they don't need to exaggerate the genocidal approach Japan took to placing their lands under the "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere".  Perhaps it is because Western leftwing academics aren't excited when it isn't Europeans doing the invading and killing, as it doesn't fit the banal "only white people can be racist" narrative.   The so-called "peace" movement has no answer as to how the world should have responded to imperialist Japan, is it because it is less concerned with "peace" than it is with opposing Western civilisation, liberal democracy, freedom and capitalism, with a distinctly anti-European bent?

The endurance of those who fought militarist Japan is difficult to calculate.  There were Americans, Koreans (not Kim Il Sung after 1940 despite the complete fictional account he based his legitimacy on), Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipinos, Australians, New Zealanders, Indians, Nepalese and many others, and they were rolling back a regime that had at its centre a philosophy of:

- Racial supremacy:  The Japanese were the master race, all others were inferior.  Indeed, Koreans  and Manchurians were so inferior that chemical and biological weapons were tested on them (and yes the Allies took the research conclusions for their own purposes after the war).  

- Militaristic fascism:  Japanese imperial rule was based on the entire militarisation of society, with no sense of consultation or input from the governed.  All were subjects, all were to do as they were told and to operate effectively as slaves, for the Empire of Japan.  It was a complete totalitarian regime, and given the superiority of Japanese rulers, its subjects were deemed to be grateful for the mercy of the Emperor.

- Religious authenticity:  The rule of the Empire was deemed to come from the Emperor, who was the living embodiment of god.  That was absolute and not able to be questioned.

One measure of the human cost of Japanese imperialism is over 6 million deaths due to murder, under its occupation from 1937 to 1945 alone, but Japan's imperialism started in 1910 (with Western consent) in Korea and its invasion of China commenced in the early 1930s.  100,000 were massacred in Manila alone in early 1945.  The "Three Alls" policy applied to China after 1940 was to "kill all, burn all, loot all" in retaliation to Chinese resistance to the occupation.  Women and girls throughout the occupied territories, particularly in Korea, were kept as sex slaves (so-called "comfort women") to please the military.   Japanese newspapers even celebrated the "contest" between army officers as to who could kill 100 with a sword first.

Japan's militarist regime was the aggressor, but it also had the compliant and enthusiastic support of a people who did what they were told, who worshipped their Emperor and basked in the propaganda that told them how superior and special they are, and how lucky they were to have been chosen to lead Asia.  What dissent there was in Japan was not organised and on a minor scale.  Japan's dictators had the effective consent of its population to conquer.

So the defeat of Japan, unconditionally, was wholly moral and justified.  The use of nuclear weapons to accelerate that defeat and contribute towards it was also moral and justified.   The reason Japan had nuclear weapons applied to it was because it had invaded the United States, it had conquered and placed much of Asia under its brutal sadistic jackboot.  The moral culpability for the deaths inflicted in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and indeed already by conventional bombing in Tokyo, Osaka and many other cities, was the Imperial Government of Japan, which was willing to continue murdering and killing innocents abroad and refusing to surrender in a war that it started.

No one can doubt the abject horror and suffering the two atomic bombs caused, the horror they inflicted undoubtedly contributed not only to them not being used in Korea by President Truman (against military advice), but also inadvertently creating the deterrent effect which remains to this day.  However, the justification for their use is not from those impacts, but because defeating a ruthless, sadistic and murderous tyranny justifies using weapons that minimise the casualties of your own population.   Better to use the atomic bombs than to suffer greater Allied casualties by ground invasion or not obtaining an unconditional defeat and complete withdrawal of Japan from Asia.

When a tyranny wages war against its neighbours, and brings death and destruction upon them, its victims cannot be constrained from inflicting defeat upon it, for fear of the inevitable deaths it causes upon the weakest who reside under that tyranny.  All tyrannies hope and expect that governments with less appetite for war than it, will weaken in the face of taking such unpalatable decisions.  These same tyrannies don't think twice of massacring others.  The children killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the responsibility of their parents - the same parents who remained in Japan, working and contributing towards a system that had been waging a sadistic expansionist war against its neighbours.

So yes, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, appallingly dreadful and unspeakably vile though they were, were a considered, reasonable military decision to seek to accelerate an end to a war that was the responsibility of the Empire of Japan.   The attacks on Japan were acts of self-defence, to remove a regime that until the last day of the war, insisted on retaining control over Japan, on taking responsibility for prosecuting war crimes itself, and essentially no change in government.   It took the evidence of the nuclear attacks to force Japan to surrender with only one condition - that the Emperor would be protected.  That was one condition that could, grudgingly, be accepted.  You don't need to imagine what the Empire of Japan would do when it defeated a country - for it did so many times - it enslaved the entire country under martial law, and engaged in forms of genocide.

Those who fought against Japan were heroes, they defeated one of the most malignantly evil regimes of the 20th century (albeit this has quite a long list), an expansionist racist tyranny that any "true" liberal would celebrate the defeat of, without question.

The hand-wringing about the atomic attacks may be understandable, given their historic significance. However, to talk of the suffering of those attacks outside the wider context of Japanese eliminationist racism and militarism, is disingenuous.  It smacks of cheap anti-Americanism.   There are questions that can be asked about how some Japanese war criminals were effectively excused and some Japanese atrocities were deliberately ignored after the war, and bigger questions about how Japan still hasn't effectively faced up to its history (but then neither has communist China).  

However there should be no questions about the victory over Japan.  Moreover, given the enormous assistance the West gave to Japan to rebuild, reject communism, become a friend and until recently become the second biggest economy in the world (with a standard of living to match),  and be a functioning, vibrant liberal democracy,  the picture painted of an evil USA engaging in mass murder of Japanese civilians unjustifiably, seems selective indeed.   Now if only Japan's leaders could start treating their wartime history like German leaders treat theirs.   

13 July 2015

Syriza's being exposed for its emptiness

Even some of those Greeks who voted for Syriza last year must have started to get a sense of reality emerging that for all of the bluster and bragging of Alexis Tsipras, he himself has capitulated to what he once thought of as "neo-liberal hegemony".  

Tsipras, and Varoufakis (the not so lamented "rockstar" Finance Minister, embraced by the airhead media) said they opposed "austerity" (a leftwing pejorative for balancing the budget), and were elected on the platform.  

However, now Tsipras (having removed Varoufakis) has gained parliamentary support for raising a lot of taxes, increasing the pension age, some modest spending cuts and privatisation of ports and airports to seek a third, yes third, bailout with Greece's Eurozone partners.  The problem for Tsipras is that other Eurozone countries are losing patience, and it is more the Finns, Slovaks and Baltic States that are fed up with Greece, than the Germans.  


Because many Eurozone countries don't trust the Greek Government.

The first bailout saw Greece granted loans between 2010 and 2012 of 107 billion yes billion, Euro on condition that Greece would get its budget deficit down to 3% of GDP by 2014.  Part of this deal was to end the practice of paying public servants two more months of pay a year every year.  Yes, public servants would get a bonus of an extra two months' salary every year.

The second bailout saw 50% of Greece's debts with private bondholders written off and the remaining debt on an interest rate of 3.5% (so much for the rhetoric about the evil foreign bankers profiteering), knocking 100 billion Euro off of Greece's debt.  Again, the Greek government was expected to cut its budget deficit, which it did, somewhat.

However, the extent of reforms of the Greek economy that were expected simply didn't happen. State pensions for "dangerous professions" such as hairdressing (yes really) were still paid out at age 50. Defence spending exceeded the 2% of GDP expected for being a member of NATO (and there was little scrutiny of where that money went).  In short, Greece maintained big government, corporatist for the centre-right, large public sector for the centre-left, but little welfare state besides pensions.   

Syriza got elected promising an end to "austerity" that was part of the deal for the two previous restructurings of public debt, but found no appetite at all to do this.  After all, why would other governments expect their taxpayers to pay for Greece to continue its corrupt, unreformed bloated inefficient state?

So Syriza embarked on two rather vile strategies to frighten the Eurozone.  One was to start talking about the war - World War Two that is - saying Germany hadn't compensated Greece "enough" for the war, and besides Greece wrote off some debt owed to it by Germany in the 1950s (as did most Western European states).   As a strategy to get the Germans on side, it was beyond parody and as a strategy to get European sympathy it was childish.  After all, was Greece truly saying that it, especially, should get some of that money back from Germans who were mostly not born at the time? Quite rightly, Eurozone member states that ended up on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain sniffed at this anti-German nonsense.  After all, they all spent 40 years under the yoke of the USSR and its local tyrants, and couldn't even consider demanding Moscow compensate them.

After German bashing backfired, Alexis Tsipras went to visit Vladimir Putin.  The implication was simple -  If the West doesn't support our unreformed bloated socialist/corporatist state, we'll turn to Russia.  The implication did cause a few ructions in Washington, as it could have meant Greece abandoning NATO, but even Putin didn't want Greece.  With global oil prices and EU sanctions hurting Russia, Putin smiled and knew not only that he couldn't afford Greece, but that such a move would be unnecessarily antagonistic.  So Tsipras ran back with his tail between his legs.

Now he has tried his latest trick.  He opposed a proposed bailout.  He held a referendum and convinced Greeks to oppose the bailout, then found out that the banks were running out of liquidity.

So the Greek government did the usual desperate move of any authoritarians.  It restricted the amount individuals could withdraw from their own bank accounts.  It effectively banned imports (within a customs' union and currency union!) by imposing exchange controls, and closed the banks for a week.  

Now he wants a new bailout, he is proposing tax increases to more than correspond with the deal he rejected, and other Eurozone countries (except the socialist sympathising French and Italians) are uninterested.  Countries with lower per capita GDP than Greece, with lower debt, and smaller states, that faced bigger economic challenges (with the collapse of their communist bloc economies) are uninterested in a government that lies, that blackmails and has no contrition that the main problem is past Greek governments overspending.

Having dug up the past, having flirted with Putin, having opposed budgetary responsibility and now apparently supporting higher taxes (which will hurt the economy much more comprehensively than cutting back the massively bloated public sector), and privatisation, but few are interested.

The right response of the Eurozone is to say no.  To tell Greece that if it wants to save its banks, it needs to live within its means, default on privately held bonds if it wishes and expect not to borrow any more.  The xenophobic socialists that are governing Greece are the philosophical descendants of those who fought on the Soviet side in the Greek civil war.  Had they won then, Greece's fate would have looked a lot like Bulgaria and Albania to its north.  It would be nice if some in Greece realised how much they are to be grateful for and face down the rent seekers of the state that are holding their country back.  

25 May 2015

Take responsibility for Iraq, it may be time for war sooner rather than later

Regardless of the position you might have taken over the Iraqi war, it happened and in essence, the "coalition of the willing" took upon itself the responsibility of governing Iraq.   It did so because Saddam Hussein controlled Iraq was seen as being a threat to its neighbours and more generally. Removing the regime was to enable Iraq to become a friendly and stable friend to Western interests.

However, although it essentially let the Kurds govern themselves, it failed - utterly miserably - to establish law and order in the rest of Iraq, with a government that represented and granted rights and rule of law across all Iraqis.  Over 90% of those killed since the original invasion were at the hands of sectarian militia groups.  The sectarian Shi'a administration now in Iraq, is relatively weak and is one reason why some Sunnis have embraced ISIS in resistance to that government.

Iraqi President at the time, Nouri al-Maliki, bears some responsibility for the disaster, but the overwhelming responsibility lies with the US State Department, British Foreign Office and those of the "coalition of the willing", for simply they were the coalition of the unwilling.

The overthrow of Saddam Hussein created a vacuum, that the "coalition of the willing" were unwilling to fill - that is of strict law and order, border control and to establish a government that would apply the rule of law, objectively, and defend the rights of all citizens.  It's hardly surprising, for the sheer volume of forces needed to do that were beyond the willingness of any governments to provide (or afford).  Unlike Japan, which culturally was in a sense of shock and fear after its defeat, and Germany which saw occupation by powers already spending vast proportions of their GDP (and were near neighbours), Iraq was flooded with weapons, full of thugs who lost their power after the fall of Hussein, and had porous borders with a neighbour that sought to make it compliant.  

Iraqi Kurdistan is the shining exception.

The United States and its allies let Iraq down.  After the success of the late surge, it let a bigoted corrupt sectarian leader take over the country, and as a result those who he was bigoted against, and excluded, turned on the regime, and found allies, and the genesis of ISIS was created.

It is very easy to be introspective, and say the original war was a mistake, and to blame Iran for its remarkable efforts at destabilising Iraq (notice how the anti-war movement in the West has absolutely no issue with Iranian imperialism, as the anti-war movement is, in fact, a movement against Western civilisation and capitalism).  That effort is for academics, what policy makers need to consider is what to do now, particularly as ISIS is spreading, virus like across Syria and Iraq.

Iraqi Kurdistan is far from perfect, but there is a reasonable degree of rule of law, peace and governance that is far from disagreeable in the region.  It effectively is part of a separate federal unit from the rest of Iraq, and deserves to be defended, particularly given the relative acquiescence of the world after Saddam Hussein's chemical weapon attacks upon them in the 1988. 

However, the case for Western military intervention is much greater than being "nice" to the Kurds, there is a case of self interest here.  A failure to take on ISIS and defeat it has the very real chance of being dangerous not only to those the West once called its allies, and many thousands (and millions) of innocent civilians, but a base for terrorist action in Europe.

If ISIS captures Baghdad, with no significant Western military effort, it presents the possibility that Iraq will see genocidal actions against Kurds and Iraqi Shi'a, that ISIS will turn on Kuwait and use the oil wealth of Iraq to fund further expansionism.  It presents the possibility of Iran invading Iraq to prevent this, and without a doubt, such a takeover would be a clear indication that the West not only has abandoned the Middle East, but is willing to let ISIS have virtually free reign in its holy mission to establish a totalitarian Islamist Caliphate in the Middle East.

Some will say so what?  They'll say so what until an ISIS bomb explodes in the Coliseum, or maybe St. Paul's Cathedral in London, or Notre Dame in Paris.

ISIS has clear intent to go beyond Iraq and Syria.  It has embraced eliminationism with its conquests, demanding that people convert and submit, or get killed.  It has murdered children, taken women and young girls to be sex slaves and beheaded and otherwise executed men for any form of dissent, including being gay.  It seeks to eliminate Israel, to eliminate all of the hereditary monarchies in the Middle East, to make every Muslim dominated country into a dictatorial caliphate, and to expand this wherever it can.

So this is a terrorist group, seeking to establish governments, as a death cult, that celebrates when it commits genocide, that seeks to wipe out liberal secular democracy and wipe out civilisation in favour of its misogynistic Islamist pre-enlightenment nightmare.  It has access to oil as a source of revenue and is unafraid of using the technology developed under civilisation to turn against it.   It is the Taliban, with oil, with the expansionist interest of Nazi Germany.

The question is not if, but when there is inevitable conflict and if there is to be conflict, whether it will be with Arab and non-Arab allies, or whether the continued near isolationism of the West means that the Kurds, Iraqis, Syrians and others are just to be left to be slaughtered.

So what should be done?

ISIS should be attacked, first in Iraq, with the Iraqi military, as part of a concerted effort to recapture all territory from ISIS, attack bases inside Syria and secure Iraq from ISIS - which must also include the borders and ensure Iraq's government is of Sunni and Shi'a Muslims.  However, once Iraq is secured, the decision must be made to go into Syria and eliminate ISIS.  Yes, it will help the Assad regime, but it is not for that regime - and indeed a no-fly zone should be established to stop the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs.  It is to remove the virus of ISIS, it is to lance this boil before it establishes itself with power to project itself more than across immediate borders.

The US should lead this, with NATO and the Arab League, and Iran - yes, Iran. For Iran is positively moderate in comparison. For ISIS is a common foe, including a foe for Russia and I suspect eventually, China.  Defence of Iraq does not need a UN Security Council resolution, just support from the Iraqi government, but beyond that attempts should be made to get multilateral endorsement. Yet that should not be considered a barrier to intervening by whatever means is necessary, to wipe out ISIS.

For if this is not done, there will be innocent victims, not just in Iraq or Syria, but in Europe and the United States and beyond.  The Western leaders who are in charge if or when that happens, can hardly have been surprised, but should it take such a loss for action to be taken?

21 May 2015

Make me a cake or I'll call the Police

Before I start, for the avoidance of doubt, let's get three things clear:

1. I'm not a Christian, and I find some elements of Christianity to be not only irrational but also immoral.

2. I'm not gay.

3. I fully support two people of the same sex being able to get married, just like two of the opposite sex, and I find fear or hatred of people because they are homosexual/lesbian/bisexual to be both irrational and immoral.

So from a libertarian perspective, the Asher's Bakery case in Northern Ireland is an interesting one.

The long and the short of it is that a gay rights activist in Northern Ireland asked a bakery to bake a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan on it, and the bakery objected because the owners oppose gay marriage, because of their religious beliefs.

The court has ruled that refusing to bake the cake is illegal "discrimination".  What this ruling represents is a fundamental infringement on two rights:

1. Freedom of trade;
2. Freedom of speech.

14 May 2015

Losers in the UK election

Well before I pontificate about the reasons to fear the new Conservative Government (and David Cameron has already given us one having said:
 "For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone".

Yep, just contemplate that one, alongside:

It's often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that's helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance...Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality. "We must say to our citizens: this is what defines us as a society. To belong here is to believe in these things"

However, isn't rule of law about the point that if you obey the law, the state WILL leave you alone?

More on that later, but what of the losers of the election?

Labour: 256 seats in 2010 to 232 in 2015.  When you remove the 40 lost in Scotland, Labour gained 16 seats in England and Wales, mostly from Liberal Democrats. To hell with them.  An atrocious result, losing seats in England and Scotland, with gains really only seen in London (albeit fewer than hoped).  Labour did not win the bulk of the Liberal Democrat voters it sought, it lost some voters to UKIP and a lot to the SNP in Scotland.  It was too leftwing for England, and although some say it wasn't leftwing enough for Scotland, what it actually lost on, was not being nationalist enough.  Nationalism taps into deeply held prejudices and fears, and the SNP milked that in a way Labour couldn't.  Labour now faces inexplicably trying to move away from class war in England, but tackling fears of globalisation and immigration in the north, whilst outflanking the SNP in Scotland.  If it can't take on the SNP successfully, then every single general election will see the Tories saying "Labour = SNP" as it is difficult to see Labour getting a majority without it, especially after the long delayed boundary changes that will remove the demographic bias that has emerged in Labour's favour.  Add the infighting over leadership in the coming months, and it's easy to see Labour looking rather forlorn.  Rising from 29% to 30.4% in the popular vote is not a reason to celebrate.

Liberal Democrats:  56 seats in 2010, 8 in 2015, the worst result since the Liberal Party merged with the SDP, and before that since 1970.  In popular vote it is a cull from 23% to 7.9%. The contradictions of a party that was once of the centre, that swung left, then propped up the Conservatives in government have come to swallow it up.  Those who swung left went to Labour.  The environmentalist misanthrope vote, went Green.  The residue of genuine small government liberals, went various places (or stayed home), and the Liberal Democrats who won, did so because the alternatives were thought of as much worse.  Good. There should be space in British politics for a party that is both socially liberal and economically liberal, and defends civil liberties. However, none of the main three parties are socially liberal when it comes to confronting Islamism, the Conservatives are mildly economically liberal, and the Liberal Democrats mildly defend civil liberties.  Either the Liberal Democrats drop the "Democrats" become the Liberal Party of old, shed the Green anti-scientific anti-reason authoritarianism and the corporatist/welfarist instincts, or it's time to bury the party.   However, there is little reason to think that the rump of the Liberal Democrats has the instincts to move that way, rather it seems like, once again, being the non-union party of the left.   Meanwhile, Nick Clegg is political history and likely doomed to limp on as the MP for Sheffield Hallam, for the fear that if he resigned causing a by-election, the Liberal Democrats would likely lose, culling the total from 8 to 7 seats.  Expect not a lot out of Liberal Democrats for a while.  

UKIP: 2 seats entering the election, 1 after. The "People's Army" voted and came second in over 100 seats, the majority of which are Conservative held ones.  With one MP, it was not a triumph as it would appear that in the three other most likely winnable seats, voters rallied behind the Conservative candidate to defeat the UKIP one. That polarisation, largely driven by the rhetoric around immigration, means it is difficult to see how UKIP can break through when Labour supporters would rather back a Conservative over UKIP. Clearly, campaigning from the Conservatives, supported by Conservative backing newspapers, saw UKIP sympathising voters switching Conservative to stop Ed Miliband.  Such is how First Past the Post works.  As an aside, Nigel Farage resigned as leader because he didn't win South Thanet, he apparently is now leader again from acclamation by the party Executive.  It clearly believe he is the party's greatest asset.  He may well be, but he is also its greatest polariser.  The single MP, Douglas Carswell, may find his own, admirable, libertarian credentials stretched to breaking point, as he battles the egos behind the scenes buoyed up by UKIP coming third in the popular vote with 12.6%.

SNP:  From 6 seats in 2010 to 56 today, only one MP lasts from Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to stop the SNP from making Scotland a one-party state.  Its nationalist socialist agenda wont go far though, as it has little power in the absence of backing up a Labour government, although it will be consulted on further devolution (which it has a strong interest in).  Expect the SNP to use its seats as a platform to moan about the "hated Tories" not representing the will of the Scottish people, even though again First Past the Post delivered so many MPs (56 out of 59) due to plurality, given 50% of the popular vote in Scotland was not for the SNP.   The SNP will see the next five years as feeding its campaign for another referendum, which it dishonestly says is "up to the Scottish people", code for "if they vote for us in the Scottish elections, we will say they have chosen one".   My expectation is that within these 56 MPs are some right lunatics or rent-seekers, who will prove themselves to be embarrassing and thus temper the overall support.  Bear in mind, with the third largest group of MPs in the House of Commons, they appear formidable, yet only gained 4.7% of the popular vote (up from 1.7% in 2010), reflecting its decision, of course, to only stand candidates in Scotland (where it got 50% of the popular vote).

Greens: 1 MP in 2010 and 1 MP now, the Green surge was seen in membership (over 50,000), and its vote went up from 1% to 3.8% of the popular vote.  The true anti-capitalist, misanthropic lunatic left continue to have a voice, although the Green leader, Natalie Bennett came a distant third in the seat she contested (Holborn & St Pancras) and the sole MP, Caroline Lucas increased her majority.  Of course, this doesn't stop the misanthropic enviro-left from polluting the policies of Labour or the Conservatives.  Both supported a law that binds the government to emissions targets (who is going to enforce this?).  Both embrace raising the cost of energy to meet such goals.  

Of the others, the Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru won the same number of seats as it did in 2010, despite record television coverage for its leader, Leanne Wood (who touted the same lunatic nationalist socialism as the SNP, with a bit less hysterical passion).  The same proportion of vote was obtained.  In Northern Ireland, unionists/protestants gained a seat at the expense of the Marxist nationalist/catholic Sinn Fein, and the secularist/liberal Alliance.  However, Northern Irish MPs will still have little influence at Westminster.   George Galloway's RESPECT Marxist/Islamist party finally got defeated as he was unseated by a large margin.  Whilst the once feared white supremacist BNP collapsed as it went from around 564,000 votes in 2010 (5th largest popular vote) to less than 1,700 votes, Monster Raving Loony Party gained more than twice that.  One guess where the BNP vote largely ended up.

So the UK voted against socialism, but it hardly voted for much less government.  Labour fondly told the public that "extreme Tory cuts" would see state spending shrink to around 35% of GDP, as if people should fear that.  Hopefully this will come to pass as a bare minimum, but it's not that which I fear from the Conservatives.

It's the approach to  national security, law and order and free speech - which, by the way, would have been worse under Labour...

12 May 2015

It wasn't a jump to the left

Hell yeah. 

What a relief.  All but one of the opinion polls indicated a dead heat between the two main parties. The bookies saw a Labour minority government (propped up by the SNP and Liberal Democrats) as most likely.  The broadcasters were convinced that the odds of the Conservatives forming a government, a minority government, with the Liberal Democrats and maybe UKIP and the DUP, were not good.

Meanwhile, the hated Lynton Crosby had kept David Cameron on one message, and Cameron kept saying that the Tories only needed to win 23 more seats to govern alone.   Yet, with all of Labour's rhetoric about how awful the economic recovery had been for so many, and calling itself the "party of the many not the privileged few", it seemed inconceivable that with the sinking lid of spending cuts, that the government wouldn't lose seats.   325 seats is a majority, and it was thought that if the Conservatives got 290 seats it would be a good night for them.

Then it came at 10.02pm on Thursday night.  Exit polls predicted not only that the Conservatives would be the largest party, but would be two seats short of a majority.  So it was to be that this was too "conservative", and an overall majority would be won with 331 seats.  Why?

1. Ed Miliband, even those his net negative poll ratings improved in recent weeks, never remotely came close to David Cameron as preferred Prime Minister.   Cameron may be a professional spin doctor, he may have no strong philosophy, he may be (as Labour didn't tire of pointing out) a posh boy who went to Eton and belonged to the Bullingdon Club, but then Miliband was not so different. With the exception of a short guest lectureship at Harvard, his entire career had been to work for the Labour Party or be an MP.  He is a millionaire, who inherited an expensive home in one of the most upmarket parts of London (Primrose Hill), and was a Marxist academic.   Any accusations of Cameron not being "in touch" were easily redirected onto Miliband.

2. The economy, stupid:  With a drop in unemployment of 2 million, inflation at around zero, average wages growing above inflation, and the economy having grown faster than any economy in Europe in the past five years, the story the Conservatives could sell was positive.  By contrast, Labour had remained far behind in credibility on the economy.  Yes, the crash was a banking crash, but when Ed Miliband said that Labour hadn't spent too much when it was last in government, on BBC Question Time, the audience laughed at and ridiculed him.   If Labour couldn't show contrition for wasting money before, how could it be trusted now?  By contrast, the Conservatives had cut spending, albeit modestly, and the economy grew, rather than flatlined (as Labour said it would).  The state had shrunk from 45% of GDP to 40%, and Conservative plans to cut further, which Labour scaremongered over, didn't scare many voters.  

3. Classwar? No thanks:  Labour went on about a recovery that worked only for the wealthy, but for the 2 million who got jobs that wouldn't ring true.  Labour's rhetoric was constantly a refrain that was against wealth-producers, that rarely talked positively about business, that claimed the Tories were supporting the "privileged" few, unlike Labour, didn't wash.  After all, if the Tories were only for the rich, how could they attract support of at least a third of voters.

4. SNP: Polling for months had increasingly indicated Labour was going to lose a lot of its seats in Scotland, as a result a key plank of the Tory campaign was "vote Labour get SNP" given it was difficult to envisage Labour winning enough seats elsewhere in the UK to make up for the Scottish losses AND gain a majority.  As the SNP's policies were so clearly Scottish focused, and to the left of even leftwing Labour.  Even though Ed Miliband said "no deals" with the SNP, and at one point said he'd prefer a Tory government to doing a deal with it (which didn't help him in Scotland), nobody believed him that if the numbers stacked up, he'd do it and English voters saw a vision of a government beholden to handing Scotland more money, or another independence referendum.  The pro-Tory press (Sun, Mail, Telegraph and Times) all supported this.  Of course, with Labour losing all but one of its seats in Scotland to the SNP (and the Conservatives keeping their sole MP), it helped, but Labour + SNP is still only 288 seats.

5. End of the Liberal Democrats:  While the Liberal Democrats lost a significant number of its voters to Labour and the Greens (Labour had counted on winning the majority of them), the Conservatives hoovered up a fair share of the Liberal Democrat seats as well, including all of those in the southwest. Whilst the Liberal Democrats argued they would give the Tories a heart and Labour a brain, voters who leaned one way or the other simply decided to vote for one of the main parties.  Whilst Labour did gain from this, it lost due to...

6.  UKIP took from Labour.  The conventional view of Labour (and the Conservatives) was that UKIP would largely hurt the Conservatives, being, by and large, a mix of old fashioned Conservative resistance to the EU and immigration, and a scepticism of nanny state type solutions.  However, in the final weeks, the Conservatives successfully campaigned in their heartland to convince many UKIP voters to vote Conservative to keep Labour out.  This is what cost UKIP Rochester and Strood (which it had won in a by election), and stopped Nigel Farage winning South Thanet. This didn't work on UKIP supporters who had come from Labour in the north, who saw a party that talked to them in the way the Conservatives never could.  Labour lost seats due to UKIP, because its class war "metropolitan elite" rhetoric and narrative seemed fake, unlike the gaffe prone but straightforward talk of UKIP.

7. The polls worked for the Tories:  With almost all polls showing a very close race, there was genuine fear of a Labour government (not really a genuine fear of a Tory government) causing economic disruption.  Turnout was higher this time than in 2010.

8.  The shy-right:  One theory is that a reason polling looked low for the Conservatives compared to the actual result, was that many who hold "right wing" views keep them to themselves.  They are not activists, and those who are leftwing activists make it very clear how much they hate those who may support the Conservatives or UKIP, and are willing to vandalise, occupy or otherwise do violence or threaten those who disagree with them.  People are more hesitant to publicly support the right, than support the left, understating the views of the right.

So, a sigh of relief?  Yes.  Joy? Not really, except for the schadenfreude of the demise of multiple politicians, which is ALWAYS a joy.

To see Ed Miliband discover his party is more of the few than the many.  To see Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (and former right hand man of Gordon Brown when in government), Ed Balls removed from office, after his predictions of a flatlining economy, and that the Conservatives cut "too far and too fast", was glorious.  To see the odious felcher of dictatorships, George Galloway, ousted by a large margin, was delicious, as was removal of the anti-Jewish Liberal Democrat David Ward in the neighbouring seat in Bradford East.  To see oodles of green religion worshipping Liberal Democrats disappear, especially the arch-interventionist "Business Secretary" Vince Cable and subsidised renewables fanatic, Ed Davey, was wonderful.

Of course there is the claim that the Conservatives didn't win because the proportion of the vote won was far short of 50%.  This is true, but then had the UK had a form of proportional representation (noting voters rejected 3-2 a shift to a moderately more proportional system in 2011, by referendum) much would have been different.  Parties would have campaigned everywhere, not just the marginals. The SNP would have become much less relevant a factor.  More voters might have gone for smaller parties, and who knows how many voters it would wake up in "safe seats" who finally thought their votes would matter.  Regardless, adding the Conservative and UKIP vote would reach around 50% of seats, and adding a few Ulster unionists of both stripes would create a majority.   The left can't claim a majority.

In NZ the great fear of the "right" (I use the word liberally) was that MMP would mean permanent leftwing government.  In fact it has, but not by leftwing parties, rather the National Party moving towards the statist centre to occupy the majority ground.

So yes, there is a Conservative majority, it was won by a mix of sheer economic results, and fear of the left spending too much, interfering too much and wanting to take from some to give to others. There is reason to have some hope for the UK, but what of the parties that lost?

08 May 2015

UK General Election 2015

Well I did what one has to do in the UK, I stayed up till 10pm for the exit polls and have just woken up four hours later, because by now there are few results, just maintenance of the exit polls that predict a result the polls did not - a poor result for Labour, a massive wipeout for the Liberal Democrats, a huge gain for the Scottish National Party and the Conservatives coming much closer to an overall majority.


that may yet change.

To follow my thoughts, I'll be live blogging on my largely quiescent UK blog http://libertyscottuk.blogspot.com and on Twitter @libertyscottuk for the rest of the night

All I can say for now, is that it is looking like the UK, once again, shows it wont elect a solidly leftwing Labour government.