3 December 2010


Off to the Caribbean for a month on the good ship Discovery aka the "Love Boat". Lecturing, believe it or not. During the trip will be returning to Cuba, my birthplace, for the first time since I visited my Dad in Santiago right after the 1959 revolution.

Will be giving talks on Elizabeth's Sea Dogs, Slavery, Pyrates, the Wars for the Caribbean, the Libertadores, the Spanish-US war of 1898, Yanqui Imperialism, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez.

Doubt if I'll be blogging much, if at all. So here's wishing you Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year.

Frank Field - saying the previously unsayable

The biggest transformation of anti-poverty programmes since the war will "require a testing of some of the 1940s welfare state’s sacred cows" says the Guardian. Can't remember a report, ever, commanding the sort of broad-band support ( here, here and here) that has greeted Field's response to Cameron's challenge.

Frank Field is a Labour MP and a life-long anti-poverty campaigner who, in 1997, was charged by Blair to "think the unthinkable" about social security when he appointed him Minister of Welfare Reform at the DSS and made him a privy councillor. His ideas, then, were killed by Chancellor Broon and Field's boss at the DSS, Harriet Harperson, with Blair wimping out as usual, so Field resigned in 1998.

"Poverty is a much more subtle enemy than purely lack of money" he writes, affirming that financial poverty is NOT the dominant reason why disadvantage is handed down from one generation to another. This is hardly the unthinkable - thousands of parents, teachers and social workers have thought this forever. However it is saying what was unsayable in a Labour regime intent on turning a majority of the population into clients of the state.

This time around, Field's ideas have received the whole-hearted and public support of Oliver Letwin, the Conservatives’s chief policy thinker, while Cameron and Clegg have published a joint letter to Field praising the report as "a vital moment in the history of our efforts to tackle poverty and disadvantage".

Thirteen wasted years. And still polls indicate 40 percent of the British support the Labour pukes. Most of that 40 percent will bitterly resent attempts to give their children a better chance in life.

Labour - the crab bucket party

2 December 2010

As others see us 3

"Contagion and other Euro-myths" by John Cochrane in the WSJ ($):
This is not, in fact, an Irish bailout. It's a bailout of the European (including British) banks that lent a lot of money to the Irish government and Irish banks. If European governments want to bail out their banks, let them do so directly and openly - not via the subterfuge of country bailouts. Then they should face the music: How is it that two years after the great financial crisis, European banks make so-called systemically dangerous sovereign bets, earn nice yields, and then get bailed out again and again?

The NHS - envy of the world

The Patients' Association today released Listen to patients, Speak up for change (pdf here), a collection of firsthand accounts of hospital care of older patients from across the NHS detailing serious failings in standards of nursing care, poor communication with relatives and an ineffective complaints handling system.

Patients Association President Claire Rayner, who died earlier this year, was quoted as saying "Tell David Cameron that if he screws up my beloved NHS I'll come back and bloody haunt him!" Her son wrote the foreword this year and reports that she died angry at the inhumane treatment she sometimes received from nurses and doctors.
As she said time and again if even she, with her public profile, reputation for straight talking and acute knowledge of the mechanics of nursing and medicine could not get the treatment she was entitled to, what hope was there for others?
"Let the haunting begin", said her widower, as though Cameron were responsible for the deplorable standards of care in the NHS after a decade of having money fire-hosed at it. For that matter why, given her "acute knowledge of the mechanics of nursing and medicine", did it come as a shock to Claire herself that the NHS treats the dying elderly as "bed blockers"?

Patients' Association Chief Executive Katherine Murphy said:
Surely the essentials of nursing care are what every patient deserves and should get? The NHS should get this right all of the time. Lack of help with eating and drinking. Lack of help with personal hygiene. Lack of help with toileting needs. It is clear from the stories we hear on our Helpline that too many patients are being badly let down. It’s a scandal and it’s outrageous that has been persisting for years. Families are left with a life sentence of grief, with no lessons learnt and the same failings continuing.

An intelligent comment from a labourite

"We don’t see it, but our arrogance stops us from listening" on Labour Uncut by ex Labour party GenSec (January 2006 until resigned November 2007 over Donorgate) Peter Watt is the first piece of intelligent commentary I have read from ANY Labour party apparatchik in many years.
There is an arrogance at the heart of our politics that is going to make it difficult to really understand why we lost. It is an arrogance that says that we alone own morality and that we alone want the best for people. It says that our instincts and our motives alone are pure. It’s an arrogance that belittles others’ fears and concerns as “isms” whilst raising ours as righteous. We then mistakenly define ourselves as being distinctive from our opponents because we are morally superior rather than because we have different diagnoses and solutions. It is lazy, wrong and politically dangerous.
Shame he did not realize that self-evident fact when his mob was in power. What he says has characterised the so-called "progressives" from their Fabian beginnings in the 19th century. They have always been Pharisees and, regrettably, a recantation by someone marginalised for putting party before country is not going to change anything.  

Brendan O'Neill - quote for today

Excellent post on the hypocrisy of the Guardian and the New York Times over the material obtained from anti-American obsessive Assange. Oddly, Soothscribe O'Neill does not mention the more glaring hypocrisy, which was their refusal to print the Climategate material because it was "stolen".
It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that ‘the public interest’, as defined in these discussions, has very little to do with the living, breathing public. The higher valuation given to the highbrow tittle-tattle spouted by Wikileaks in contrast to the lowbrow tittle-tattle spouted by the News of the World is really a question of taste, of preference, even of snobbery (‘our gossip is worthier than yours!’), yet it gets dressed up in the pseudo-democratic lingo of the public interest. What these journalists and editors really mean when they talk about ‘the public interest’ is what they think is good for the public – what they have decreed, in their closed-off meetings using some narrow legalistic definitions, to be edifying and respectable enough for publication.

Parliamentary swine-whine about expenses

Here we go again. Back in 2002 the pigs in parliament successfully smeared and then destroyed the career of Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Elizabeth Filkin because she was, unconscionably, trying to make them live according to their own rules of conduct.

Now we see an orchestrated press campaign (sample here) against the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which was created in the aftermath of last year's revelations of just how shameless the parliamentary pigs are. Said swine will vote today to register their disapproval of having their access to the trough restricted.

And you know what? They'll get away with it. The Majorites are back in power and, led by the odious William Hague, they fully supported the Blair regime's attack on Elizabeth Filkin.

Milipede trampled

Generally dislike the bitchy commentators that infest Brit journopukery; but fair's fair - Quentin Letts' description of the Leader of the Opposition in the Daily Mail is one for the anthologies:

The lower right side of Mr Miliband’s mouth gaped. His eyeballs, two magnets, fought for unification.

He does have a peculiar physiognomy. I wonder if he was dropped on his head as a baby?

1 December 2010

Hutton's contemptible interim report

His brief was "Fair Pay in the Public Sector", but of course he did not limit himself to that and had to drag in the wealth-creating sector, as though it provided any basis for comparison. Burning Our Money takes apart the dishonest use to which Hutton, like all his kind, puts the word "fair".

But what else could anyone have expected from a BBC/Guardian-Observer journopuke? Not only that, along with the laughable Giddens he supplied such little intellectual content as Blair's NuLabour ever possessed. Here are his titles - read 'em and weep. Note the homage to the Welsh gas-bag Bevan in 1997 and the title of his latest book.

Could someone please tell me why Cameron appointed him to lead this inquiry? Oh - silly old me - of course, he's the Heir of Blair.

Them and Us: Changing Britain - Why We Need a Fair Society (2010)
The Writing On The Wall China and the West in the 21st Century (2007)
A Declaration of Interdependence: Why America Should Join the World (2003)
The World We're In (2002)
Co-editor with Anthony "Third Way" Giddens, Global Capitalism and On the Edge: Essays on a Runaway World (both 2000)
The Stakeholding Society: Writings on Politics and Economics (1998)
The State to Come (1997)
"The Scene Shifts, the Legacy Remains" in The State of the Nation: the political legacy of Aneurin Bevan (1997)
The State We're in: Why Britain is in crisis and how to overcome it (1995)

Bohemian Rhapsody

"Mercury turns wetland birds homosexual", reports the BBC

I don't trust myself to comment.

Terry Pratchett - soothscribe

Reading TP's 2009 book Unseen Academicals reminds me how often I have been struck by his pithy insights into the human - well, at least British - condition. Apropos the fact that you can keep live crabs in a bucket without a lid because the others will pull back any crab that tries to get out, he writes:
Crab bucket, thought Glenda as they hurried towards the Night Kitchen. That's how it works. . . Practically everything my Mum ever told me, that's crab bucket. Practically everything I've ever told Juliet, that's crab bucket, too. . . It's so nice and warm on the inside that you forget there's an outside. The worst of it is, the crab that mostly keeps you down is you.