Sunday, December 31, 2006

The joys of a Europe with open borders

First up: a charming story from Sweden and one the conventional media seems to have conveniently ignored (I wonder why). Last week, an American woman who sought medical treatment at a clinic in the town of Karlshamn couldn’t get any. Why? Apparently, the doctor was a Palestinian immigrant who objected to American foreign policy in the Middle East. For more, go HERE
Yet, Istanbul Tory finds himself scarcely surprised by this kind of news anymore...
In the wake of last week’s dramatic arrest of four Rwandans accused of playing leading roles in the genocide, one wonders how it was possible for any Rwandan genocide suspects to have slipped into Britain and quietly build new lives.
Again, Istanbul Tory finds himself scarcely surprised by this kind of news anymore...
A large part of the migratory inflow into Britain now comes from the new East European members of the EU. If these people wish to work, they must register, and figures show that the number who have registered since eight new countries joined in May 2004 has hit the half-million mark.The Home Office, never let it be forgotten, predicted that this figure would be a maximum 26,000 over two years. Romania and Bulgaria are no longer on the horizon but on our very doorstep. As of January 1st, 30 million people from these countries will be free to enter Britain. In November 2006, the government admitted in the House of Commons that immigration is of little benefit to the British public. Their own figures show a minimal contribution to GDP per head. Immigration to the UK has trebled under the present government. And it's not just the UK. Spain, which experienced net emigration until the late 1980s, now has 3.7 million immigrants of its own - or 8.7% of the population. In Ireland, foreign-born residents now comprise just under 10% of the population.
So, in the course of 2007, expect to hear more of Palestinian doctors with grudges to bear, genocide suspects in your midst and Romanian child prostitutes working the streets of British cities ....The price we pay for open borders. And there are still those who fail to understand the appeal of the BNP.

Friday, December 29, 2006

From beyond the grave- Gerald Ford and the Iraq disaster

George W has now suffered a stunning rebuke from the grave over the Iraq debacle. In an interview with the Washington Post, granted on condition that it be published only after Gerald Ford's death, the late president said he strongly disagreed with Mr Bush's stated justification for the war - that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. He also suggested Mr Bush had departed from his overriding duty as president to act in America's national interest.
"I don't think I would have gone to war," Mr Ford told Bob Woodward in an interview in July 2004. "I would have maximised our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever to find another answer."
Quite right too. Getting into Baghdad was the easy part. How do we get out? Neither W. or Blair has the slightest idea.

To democratize (if that is stil a goal), defend and hold Iraq together (if that is still feasible), U.S./coalition troops will be tied down there for decades. And militant Islam will never accept George Bush/Emily Blair dictating the destiny of the Islamic world. Gerald Ford was an honourable man; Bush and Blair are nothing of the sort.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gordo sucks.....

Many of the EU member states have lower GDP growth than the UK because they are plagued by a combination of remorselessly high tax and high public spending. You may remember New Labour's pledges from 2001 and 1997 not to raise either the basic or top rates of income tax. And yet, the tax burden on British workers is set to increase steadily over the next five decades as government spending outpaces economic growth.
According to projections published by the Treasury earlier in December, the overall tax bill as a proportion of national income will rise from 38.4 per cent this year to almost 40 per cent in ten years' time before hitting 41.6 per cent in 2056, if current policies are continued.
So much for the prudence of the “Iron Chancellor”....more broken promises.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

EU set to waste more money (believe it or not)

As of January 1 2007,Irish will formally become the 21st official European language to be given equal status within the EU. Gaelige can be used during debates and to translate all official documents from the EU. Gaining official status in Europe for the language will, interestingly enough, point to the near total failure to promote it at home.....According to census figures released by the Irish Central Statistics Office in 2004, out of the Republic's more than 4.3 million citizens there were approximately 1.6 million people claiming a self-reported competence in Irish. Of these, only 350,000 reported using Irish every day.
Translation costs for the EU's 20 official languages have already been spiraling out of control. In January 2005, officials said the amount was set to come close to two billion quid following the entry in 2004 of 10 new EU members.
For 2007, the cost of Irish translation in the Commission is estimated to be around €302m. Money well spent, I’m sure you would readily agree....And the insanity doesn't end there.For the EU's self-proclaimed "top 10 achievements in 2006" go here and expect to be wildly impressed.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

His Grace speaks out

Christians in the Middle East are being put at risk by the Government's "short-sighted" and "ignorant" policy in Iraq, the Archbishop of Canturbury has said.
Writing in The Times, Dr Rowan Williams said attacks on Christian believers in the region are increasing, and the Government should have a strategy for helping them.
The Turkish constitution guarantees religious freedom and Christians are allowed to practice their religion but many feel their religious rights are severely limited in the predominantly Muslim country.Remember Turkey's Christians while you are enjoying the Christmas holiday.

'hoping you have a very happy and peaceful Christmas wherever you happen to be.And very Best Wishes for 2007...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Consternation! Blair makes a fool of himself

As the NuLabour project collapses in disgrace, Tony (deluded as ever) is turning his attention to foreign affairs. An area where he has rarely excelled. As the Iraq debacle would seem to confirm.Indeed, Blair has named the Middle East as one of his priorities before leaving office.
And yet Blair inadvertently made diplomatic history yesterday by uniting Iran and Iraq on one point: criticism of his approach to the Middle East.
The Prime Minister was accused by Tareq al-Hashemi, Iraq's vice-president, of being "brainwashed" on changing his mind to withdraw troops from Iraq by George Bush, the US president.Mohammad Ali Hosseini, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, said Mr Blair's speech was "hostile" and an "obvious intervention" in the region's affairs. "The negative and discordant tendencies of Britain, along with the war-mongering and unilateral policies of Bush and Blair, have been the reason for tension and extremism and the cause of public hatred in the region," Mr Hosseini told the state news agency IRNA.

Both Tehran and Baghdad accused him of fuelling tensions in the Middle East. Will Emily take heed? Yesterday Blair also said in an interview he wanted a job with "real purpose" after he leaves Downing Street. Does he have any prior experience ?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

No to the "Alliance of Civilizations"

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in New York on Monday for an Alliance of Civilizations meeting at the United Nations headquarters.
The “Alliance of Civilizations" initiative is (in theory)designed to "advance mutual respect for religious beliefs and traditions and to reaffirm humankind's interdependence in all areas." 18 countries have pledged their support to the Project so far including (cough) Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Senegal, Iran, and Saudi Arabia as well as the usual Euro dhimmis. Blair is, of course, a great supporter.
A front-page report by the mainstream Turkish daily Hurriyet, on July 19th 2005 elaborated on this Alliance of Civilisations stuff :
"[…] If a global consensus is reached for the 'Alliance of Civilizations' project, work will begin for the establishment of a 'World Parliament' under U.N. leadership.
" A high-level group of 18 to 20 prominent intellectuals will prepare for the U.N. a 'road map' for action. Annan is expected to disclose the names of the members he has appointed to this Commission […].
A World Parliament???
Former prime minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar has rightly defined the 'Alliance of Civilizations' initiative undertaken by his successor Zapatero and PM Erdogan as 'nonsense.' In a statement to The Spectator last year Aznar said, "The 'Alliance of Civilizations' initiative is nonsensical. The only alliance of importance to us [i.e. Spain] is the Atlantic Alliance' […]"Full marks to Aznar. An “Alliance to rescue Western Civilisation from the current buffoons who rule over us” would perhaps seem more appropriate.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tony in Turkey- And why you should be worried

I, and indeed the majority of the British people, have long suspected that Tony Blair is a psychiatric case. And if proof were needed, Emily’s current visit to Turkey would tend to suggest the worst. After this and this, Tony has now determined to sow peace and democracy in the Middle East. And lobby hard for Turkey’s accession to the EU.

Downing Street said that the clashes between rival Palestinian groups yesterday demonstrated the importance of encouraging a moderate, secular Turkey to join the EU so that it could continue to act as a force for reform in the area.Hmmmm, let's look at reality for a moment.

First, Turkey has changed for the worse in recent years. For instance, Israel and Turkey were very, very close during the Cold War, partly due to their alliances with the United States. The relationship deepened after 1996, when the two states signed pacts to cooperate on military training and arms production. In the five years between 1996-2001, Israel and Turkey forged a deep, yet unofficial, military alliance. Turkey and Israel even managed to conclude a far-ranging, free trade deal in 2000.
But then came the rise to power of the AK Party led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2002. The Justice and Development (AK) party, has its roots firmly in Islamist politics. Erdogan has sought to reorient Turkish society to Islam, persistently opening wounds regarding the issue of mosque and state. Michael Rubin has written most convincingly about the AK government. I suggest Tony ought to acquaint himself with the reality of Turkish politics before he stupidly intervenes in matters of which he clearly understands little.
Surprise, surprise, Turkey now shows a new readiness to embrace its Middle Eastern partners. For example, this rather shocking event.
Damascus has in fact been overwhelmed by the warmth that suddenly radiated from Ankara in the past few years. Why should Turkey’s EU bid (which now appears to be at death’s door) encourage democratisation in countries such as Egypt, Paletsine or Yemen? Where’s the link? Turkey is a non-Arab country and is (more or less) a secular, democratic state. What kind of pressure can it bring to bear on the Arab states? Why is the country’s shift away from Israel and increasing realignment towards Syria and the other Arab states viewed as progress by Blair? Especially when Turkey is supposed to be so determined to enter the EU??? What is Blair thinking of?Especially when the reform process in Turkey has ground to a halt over the past year. And of the 25 EU member states why is the UK government still pushing so very hard for Turkish EU entry, when the majority of Europeans clearly take a very different view? I sense, and public opinion polls offer the same view, that there is no enthusiasim for Turkish EU entry in the United Kingdom. Why is Tony so obsessed with the question of Turkey and the EU? Frankly, I am none the wiser.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tony still on the loose...for now.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said that Scotland Yard detectives arrived at No 10 shortly after 11am today to interview the PM. They are thought to have left about two hours later. But without taking Emily into custody...this time.

Angus MacNeil, the Scottish Nationalist Party MP who triggered the police investigation, said: "This revelation will be shaking the very foundations of Westminster. For the Prime Minister to be questioned by the police during a criminal investigation is unprecedented." Unprecedented and wonderful at the same time...

Hat tip to Martine Martin for the excellent photo montage.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Save the German newts

The German government wants to dilute EU wildlife conservation laws to allow businesses to expand more easily.
I suspect fervent eco-warrior David Cameron wouldn’t go along with Merkel but couldn’t the German Chancellor just possibly be a wee bit right. Source

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Turkey gets stuffed

The EU foreign ministers have unanimously decided to freeze Turkey's EU accession negotiations in eight chapters in agreement with the European Commission’s recommendation. The future now looks increasingly bleak for Turkey’s EU bid.

Addressing members of his ruling party on Tuesday in Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the way the European Union is treating EU hopeful Turkey was “unfair.”
Turkish Justice Minister and government spokesman Cemil Cicek told reporters in Ankara that the European Union’s aim was the continuation of Turkey’s modernization project and that patience was required throughout the process.EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, who seemed pleased with the council’s decision, expressed that Turkey’s EU membership will show that Islam, the second biggest religion in Europe, is in harmony with European values such as democracy and human rights. An approach not likely to "win hearts and minds" in rural Austria or the Greek islands.

Turks increasingly view the EU with a large dose of suspicion and contempt (like many Europeans do). They are, however, much impressed by Emily Blair’s firm defence of Turkish interests in the EU accession process...while loathing him passionately for his disastrous adventure in Iraq with George W.

Interestingly, Nobel Prize winning author, Orhan Pamuk is mulling an entry into politics, or so the rumour mill goes. Good luck to him, politics in Turkey is a particularly brutal contact sport.

While perhaps more strangely, some Social Democrats and (former?) Islamists are apparently thinking about forming some kind of Centre-Left party with a "Muslim identity".....
Perhaps Blair will sign up for it- The Third Way meets the Green Way. Whatever next?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Free at last!

My right honourable friend, the blogger for Croydon happily reminds us of the demise of the Soviet Union 15 years back. But there are other events to be recalled from the Cold War as well.
On a snowy Sunday morning, December 13, 1981 the Poles woke up to find their country under Martial Law, the declared aim of which was to "defend socialism". As we can all remember, the communist order felt terribly threatened (rightly) by the members of the first independent trade union behind the Iron Curtin - Solidarity (Solidarnosc).

Thousands of Solidarity leadership and activists were arrested and imprisoned without court sentence. Among those arrested was Lech Walesa, the legendary Solidarity leader.On December 13, 1981 Polish borders were sealed, airports were closed and road access to main cities was restricted. Travel between cities required permission. Curfew was imposed between 10 pm and 6 am. Telephone lines were disconnected. All trade union and other independent organizations were closed. Public administration, health services, power stations, coal mines, sea ports, train stations, and most of the country's key factories were placed under military management.

Martial Law was ended on July 22, 1983. Some of the restrictive legislation introduced during martial law remained in force until the end of the eighties. The failure of the ruling Communist Party became only too clear in 1989 when Solidarity won by a land-slide in the first free election since World War II.

Poland has experienced remarkable economic success over the last decade. It now has an enviable reputation as a stable political environment and is a combative player within the EU. The queues in front of shops, food rationing and empty shelves - a daily nightmare of Socialist times are now nothing but a distant memory.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tory grass roots are revolting

The Tories have suffered a not insignificant defection to the UK Independence party.
Toby Horton, a Conservative party member for 40 years, who chaired William Hague's Richmond constituency while he was party leader, claimed that Ukip was the "party of real opposition" in Britain. "There is a real need in this country for a party of the centre right, and, if the Conservative party doesn't want to fill it, there is inevitably a vacuum that Ukip will fill." The defection of Horton - who was the Tory opponent to Tony Blair when he first became MP for Sedgefield in 1983 - is the third announced by Ukip this week.The tipping point for Toby Horton?
“The answer, in a nutshell, was Polly Toynbee. That was my tipping point."
Well, I agree with Horton about the Toynbee fiasco but not on Ukip where I tend to go along with David Cameron who famously remarked that "Ukip is sort of a bunch of ... fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists, mostly."
The fact is that Ukip takes its votes overwhelmingly from the Tories. The United Kingdom Independence Party took 622,000 votes at the last General Election. Although Ukip came nowhere near winning a seat, the Bruges Group said their support could have prevented the Tories from gaining 18 Labour- held seats and cutting Tony Blair's majority to a precarious 30.

What is to be done?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The French are repulsive

As Cranmer has observed, if one posts about Islam, one is inevitably deluged with comments. As for other subjects, the level of response can be a bit on the light side....But this is an important one, folks. So indulge me.
During a five-day trip to Britain, the Rwandan president Paul Kagame has been forced to publicly deny French allegations he orchestrated the assassination of his predecessor Juvenal Habyarimana in 1994, an event that triggered a genocide that claimed 800,000 victims.
President Kagame severed diplomatic relations with Paris last month after French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere issued charges accusing nine Kagame acolytes of shooting down President Habyarimana's jet. Bruguiere filed a document at the Paris prosecutor's office, citing evidence that Kagame, a Tutsi, and members of his military staff devised the operation to destroy Habyarimana's plane

Rwanda accuses Paris of training soldiers it knew would later commit genocide. France denies any wrongdoing, saying its military intervention helped Rwandans. Survivors’ groups have accused France of inadvertently extending the genocide when its troops occupied parts of southern Rwanda in a bid to help provide safe havens for refugees. They say France’s military presence helped slow Kagame’s advance, allowing Hutu extremists to continue their killing.

France, one of the key supporters of the Hutu-led regime that governed the country in the years leading up to the genocide, has always denied any involvement in the massacres.A French parliamentary commission in 1998 cleared Paris of responsibility for the genocide while admitting that "strategic errors" had been made.

Algeria's president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has said that French colonization of his country Algeria was a form of genocide. In a speech in April 2006, the Algerian president Bouteflika said: "We no longer know whether we are Berbers (indigenous North Africans), Arabs, Europeans or French". France committed a "genocide of Algerian identity" during the colonial era, he said. Bouteflika also said "Colonisation brought the genocide of our identity, of our history, of our language, of our traditions”

Paris says that the past should be left to historians. As far as Algeria is concerned.

And yet France's lower house of parliament recently passed a bill making it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide, a step that has been strongly denounced by the Turkish government. The Turkish government argues that the past should be left to historians.

Should the past be left to historians or judges? And why is France – a second rate power with a multitude of its own problems- so intent on projecting itself in the Third World? And with such a selective memory. Given that the country has so much African and Arab blood on its hands....

Monday, December 04, 2006

Squeezing Tony till the pips squeak

The former chancellor and "the best Prime Minister we never had" (allegedly), Denis Healey has lashed out furiously at Tony Blair. And we are not talking about being savaged by a dead sheep. In an interview with the Observer yesterday, Healey said that the Blair premiership had shown that "the prime minister can do anything if he wants to ... unfortunately, it was nearly all wrong: the Iraq war, foundation hospitals, university top-up fees - and now cash for peerages." Mr Blair is "still hanging on and no one can be certain he will go. Yet the sooner he goes the better," Lord Healey said.
His Lordship is to be congratulated for his good judgement. One suspects that Healey now bitterly regrets his decision to back Tony Blair to be Leader of the Labour Party within hours of John Smith's death. It was Healey who famously remarked of Neil Kinnock that “ He has never been a Minister, lacks experience, and people know it. In troubled times, the electorate looks for a strong leader and Mrs Thatcher is seen as one”.
Alas, the “Welsh windbag”and Blair share much in common. Both are principle-free “modernising” self-righteous hucksters with an adoration of control-freakery, power and the perks that go with it. But as Kinnock himself once observed “You cannot fashion a wit out of two half-wits.” And that is what Lord Healey seems to have in mind vis-a-vis young Mr Tony. As well as Baron Kinnock who noticeably fails to improve with age.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Socialism or death! I choose Death

It appears likely that a victory by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela's presidential election could turn him, like Cuba’s ailing Fidel Castro, into a president-for-life. He has long since consolidated control over the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government. He has created a cult of personality about himself, creating the illusion to the masses that he is infallible. Similar to Castro, Chávez is seen as a darling to the left, especially by lefties in the United Kingdom
CNN too.
Hang on- Didn't Chavez lead a failed coup in 1992? Shades of the much reviled General Pinochet, surely. The left seems to have forgotten about it.....
The reality of life in Venezuela ought to have given the left cause for concern.
Go HERE and HERE and HERE.

As Chavez's hatred of the United States and Israel has grown, he has become close allies with a number of the West's most dangerous adversaries. Chavez has visited Iran on several occasions, has hosted President Ahmadinejad in Venezuela, and has made extensive bilateral agreements with the current Iranian government. Chavez became an idol of Hezbollah supporters during the recent conflict because of his outspoken criticism of Israel and support for Hezbollah's "resistance." He used his recent tour through Europe not only to hobnob with dictatorial friends in Belarus, but also to stock up on Russian weaponry.
Latest surveys suggest that Chavez is likely to win, by fair means or foul, at least 60% of the vote…Not only bad news for Venezualan golfers I suspect....
And yet Venezuela is a country previously dominated by politicians from a strong and consolidated democratic party system. Worrying isn't it? The quest now is how to oust a non-democratic, authoritarian ruler-together with his Cuban idol, and its repressive apparatus. How is this to be done....?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Why the Pope's visit changes little

The Pope returned to Rome yesterday, winning more praise for a parting shot that he had “left part of his heart in Istanbul”. Actually, the Pope’s visit has almost become a consolation to Turks, who are reeling from the European Commission’s decision to recommend the partial suspension of EU entry talks with Turkey over its failure to give ground on Cyprus. The EU Commission’s decision to slow negotiations over Turkey’s membership talks carries the risk of a serious break in Turkey’s relationship with the West. The media are predictably painting apocalyptic scenarios:

However, it’s worth noting that the main goal on Turkey’s membership to the European Union was still unchanged, Finnish Foreign MinisterErkki Tuomioja said on Friday: “Turkey is still a candidate for membership to the Union. The EU will always welcome Turkey if it fulfills the criteria and Turkish public wants the membership. The Ankara Protocol was a clear commitment, which Turkey did not implement. We are also aware that the EU has not completed some of its jobs in Cyprus.” Asked whether the commission’s recommendations were severe, and whether they had a plan that would be offered to the ministers to change the commission’s decision, he said that while they did not have such a plan at the moment, they did not completely approve the recommendations, and had started meeting with the EU members to achieve a commonly acceptable solution.
And yet, the EU is sending contradictory signals as well. Go HERE and HERE.

Pope Benedict XVI signed a joint declaration with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, easing inter-church tensions and requesting more collaboration between Catholic and Orthodox churches. The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly has invited Bartholomew I as a “ecumenical” to address the general assembly on January 22-25 in Strasbourg. Ankara reacted negatively to the invitation of the Council that described Bartholomew I “His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I,” because the Turkish administration does not recognize the “ecumenical” attribution of the Patriarch. Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan said the Patriarchate was a Turkish institution and no other attributes are binding for Turkey at a weekly press conference on Thursday. The Pope may have prayed at the Blue Mosque facing Mecca but the position of Christians in Turkey is far from an easy one.

I doubt if the Pope’s visit to Turkey will change much in the long run...
I shall now return to more UK focused blogging.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A fatal blow to Turkey's EU hopes- Tony to the rescue?

The Pope may have had a semi-change of heart on Turkey joining the EU but Brussels has now suggested a partial suspension of Turkey-EU talks after officials failed to resolve a trade dispute over Cyprus. The Commission has proposed freezing talks on eight of the 35 policy “chapters” into which the accession talks are divided. Britain will call for a more limited form of punishment. It would ideally like three chapters linked to Cyprus to be suspended: the free movement of goods, transport and customs union.Blair said: “We have got to make sure we allow Turkey’s accession to proceed. Just at the moment to send an adverse signal to Turkey I think would be a serious mistake for Europe long-term.” Blair's judgement is, of course, extremely dubious at best. Whatever happened to Iraq's chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, Tony?

The suspension is a severe, perhaps fatal, blow to Turkey's decades-old attempt to join the bloc. Most Europeans will, however, be rather pleased at this development (let's be honest about it). With its population growing by nearly a million a year, Turkey would be the most populous country in the EU by the time it joined. Few Europeans wish to see an almost entirely Asian developing country within the EU. And that’s a fact even the entirely demented Mr Blair would be wise not to ignore...
As for the position of Christians in Turkey, see HERE

Strange Days in Turkey.....

In his first day in Turkey, the Pope has urged "authentic dialogue" between religions and underlined Turkey's role as a bridge in interfaith dialogue. After previously angering Muslims worldwide with remarks seen as linking Islam to violence, the Pope seems to have opted for conciliation and fence-mending.

The Pope, in a striking reversal of opinion, also said he backed Turkey's bid to join the European Union. "We want Turkey to be part of the EU," Turkish prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan quoted Benedict XVI as telling him.This represented the most pro-Turkish statement from the Vatican since Benedict became Pope last year. Nevertheless, not everyone in Turkey is happy with the Pope’s visit...

EU term president Finland has announced that its attempts to find a solution to the Cyprus problem have ended unsuccessfully. Turkish Government spokesman Cemil Cicek Cicek responded by saying that it was wrong to allow the Cyprus row to ‘torpedo’ Turkey‘s EU relations. Now that the Finnish plan has officially failed to make any progress, Germany and Austria have made statements against Turkey’s European Union membership process.German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Turkey had not fulfilled its responsibilities in regard to the Customs Union. This situation could not be “ignored,” she added. The Austrian foreign minister, Ursula Plassnik, defended her opinion that a break in Turkey’s negotiations - “to remove tension” – was needed.Finland's Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen is scheduled to make a surprise visit to Ankara on Friday in an attempt to rescue Turkey's troubled EU accession talks from a serious blow due to the Cyprus issue deadlock.

Prime Minister Erdogan has responded angrily to an opinion piece in Newsweek on the chances of a future military coup in Turkey. Zeyno Baran's controversial commentary in Newsweek's current issue stated that there is a 50-50 chance of a military coup in Turkey next year. One can but live in hope....

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A coup, a papal visit and a farewell to the EU?

These are certainly "interesting times" for Turkey....
According to the American news magazine Newsweek senior Turkish military officers have expressed the view in recent weeks that while they would not want to see an interruption in democracy, "the military may soon have to step in to protect secularism.” President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and the new chief of the General Staff, Gen. Yasar Buyukanit have also issued stark warnings on the need to protect secularism in recent weeks.The Newsweek article, which is written by Hudson Institute expert Zeyno Baran, notes that top level military authorities in Turkey are worried that civilian control over the country's military, which would increase with the general EU accession process, would "produce an Islamic Turkey." I suspect Baran is right.

European Union term president Finland said it has failed in negotiations to break the Cyprus deadlock, which is threatening to derail Turkey's membership membership bid to the 25-country bloc.

The Pope has declined Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul’s invitation to dinner during his visit. Gul added that Prime Minister Erdogan would probably meet with the Pope before his departure to the NATO summit in Riga. Gul said there was a possibility for the prime minister to briefly meet the Pope at the airport….. In the run up to presidential and general elections in Turkey in 2007, Erdogan will be shying away from too many photo opportunities with the pontiff. His grassroots wouldn’t like it...Michael Rubin has recently noted of Prime Minister Erdogan that "...The Prime Minister embraced Hamas’ most unrepentant hardliner whom even the French wouldn’t go near and then met one-on-one with Fatih al-Hassanein, a Sudanese financier of al-Qaeda (Turkish officials present in the October 2 White House meeting say this was a topic of conversation with President Bush)..." Source Go here as well.

For his part, the Pope has gone all moderate and conciliatory.

UPDATE: A papal U-turn?
After arriving in Turkey, the Pope certainly seems intent on making gestures to appease the Muslim population. The Turkish prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, told a news conference after brief talks with the Pope that he had asked the pontiff to support Turkey's EU bid. Mr Erdogan quoted the Pope as saying: "We are not political, but we wish for Turkey to join the EU." Later, after meeting with Ali Bardakoglu, the Islamic cleric who oversees Turkey's religious affairs, the Pope sought to allay the anger he had sparked in earlier remarks about Islam, and said "Christians and Muslims belong to the family of souls who believe in one God,"
The Pope's endorsement of Turkey's EU membership bid was, to put it mildly, unexpected given the pontiff's previous statements on the matter. What is he up to?


The Vatican has been forced to put out a statement on the question of Turkey and the EU. It said: "The Holy See does not have the power or specific task, politically, to intervene on the precise point of Turkey's entrance into the European Union. It does not strive for it.

"All the same, it sees positively and encourages the path of dialogue and of [Turkey] becoming closer and integrated into Europe, on the basis of our shared values and principles."

So no U-turn then?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mr Tony and the slave trade

This week Tony Blair is to deliver a 'historical expression of regret' for the British state's involvement in slavery; However, he will stop short of making an explicit apology. It was reported that Whitehall advisers had warned that a full apology could open the door to claims for reparations from the descendants of slaves. He will, however, back a United Nations resolution by Caribbean countries to honour those who died at the hands of international slave traders.

But although the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery will be marked in March 2007, the Prime Minister appears keen to apologise sooner rather than later - perhaps because he may have been forced to leave office by March.

As Tory frontbencher Chris Grayling said a few days ago: "I find it quite astounding that at a time when violent crime is rising and jobs and services are being axed from hospitals that so much ministerial effort seems to be being put into planning Tony Blair's legacy."

Blair should be apologising for the lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Are we going to apologise for everything that our forefathers may have done? Slavery was a terrible stain on history...but then history is peppered with mass killings and slavery. See here and here for some of the less discussed ones. Or go here or here

Typical Blair grandstanding. Tony’s pathetic guilt-trip is for all the wrong reasons. For Tone, his "legacy" is all... Actually, if I were in Tone's position, I would be sparing more of my time and energy on thinking about Yates of the Yard and the "cash for peerages" scandal.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Pope comes to Turkey

Next week's trip to Turkey will be Pope Benedict’s first visit to a Muslim country. And it promises to be interesting in many ways.

In September, Pope Benedict quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor who said the Prophet Mohammed had brought the world nothing but "evil and inhuman" things. The pontiff later said that he was "deeply sorry" for his remarks. But he has not retracted them. As Cardinal Ratzinger, he espoused the view that Turkey was a Middle Eastern country that did not belong in the EU. Ratzinger also publicly cautioned Europe against admitting Turkey and wrote to bishops the reason for his stand:
The roots that have formed Europe, that have permitted the formation of this continent, are those of Christianity. Turkey has always represented another continent, in permanent contrast with Europe. There were the [old Ottoman Empire] wars against the Byzantine Empire, the fall of Constantinople, the Balkan wars, and the threat against Vienna and Austria. It would be an error to equate the two continents...Turkey is founded upon Islam...Thus the entry of Turkey into the EU would be anti-historical.

The president of the state-controlled Religious Affairs Directorate, Ali Bardakoglu, has said that while the visit may help to improve relations between the Catholic and Muslim worlds, the pope should offer a complete apology for his remarks. The Turks are expecting the Pope to demonstrate in his public pronouncements respect for Islam and support for Catholic-Muslim dialogue. It will, in their view, also provide an occasion for him to clarify his statement regarding Turkey's place in Europe.

But in general the Turkish government has reacted very, very coolly to the visit. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan won't even be meeting Benedict, instead flying to Latvia to attend a Nato Summit. A calculated snub.

Papal visits abroad are normally associated with large crowds of the faithful turning out to greet the leader of their church. This time, large-scale protests by Islamists and nationalist extremists are almost inevitable. Not that the Pope is in any physical danger: the police will be out in force. And the populations of Ankara and İstanbul will have to endure a raft of sweeping security measures (in cities that are already plagued by every imaginable form of chaos). If truth be told, I shall not be venturing out much.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Ten things I wouldn't do

As I have been tagged by Guthrum, here are the ten things I would not do as per the yesterdays Telegraph

1.Vote Labour (naturally)
2. Have sexual relations with John Prescott (or Pauline for that matter)
3. Join the Taliban (I hear they are recruiting)
4.Live in Croydon- a hotbed of almost unimaginable sin and depravity
5.Have a facial tatoo
6.Read any of the Harry Potter books
7.Agree with Polly Toynbee
8. Say “Neil Kinnock was one of the leading political philosophers of late twentieth century Britain”
9.Attend a Rolling Stones concert
10. Have a pony tail- God Forbid!

Polly Toynbee and the Tories - Fisking required

Polly Toynbee has evidently enjoyed Greg Clark’s line on the need to embrace nuLabour as the source of all knowledge and the font of human progress.Polly writes gleefully:
It can only be good news if the Tories are serious about poverty...If David Cameron takes up the Clark report, this would mark a breakthrough.
Tories would stop pretending that wealth trickles down from the top. They would never again claim that a rising economic tide lifts all boats. They would have to confess that no crumbs fell from the rich man's table during the disastrous 1980s and 1990s…..By denying that this yawning gap mattered, the Thatcher governments sent a century of social progress into reverse.

Forgive me, but as ever, a spot of surgical fisking, is in order.I shall try to be brief.
After five and half years in power, Labour had made virtually no impact on poverty according to the New Policy Institute in late 2002.They noted that Approximately 13 million people are poor, the same number as 10 years ago and double the rate of 20 years ago.
Britain has the worst poverty record in the EU, except for Greece, with more than one in five people living on less than 60% of median earnings.

A report from the Office of National Statistics in 2003 showed that the "Gini coefficient", an international measure of inequality, had increased from an average of 29 points under Baroness Thatcher to 35 points under Blair. The figure for 2001-02 was 36 points.Income inequality in 2003/4 was around 40% higher by the the Gini coefficient than when Mrs Thatcher came to power.

What about the effect of Big Gordo's "redistributive" tax and benefit changes since 1997? Well, if you add in the effects of council tax increases, the average family is £150 per year worse off. A two-earner couple with no children is over £1,000 worse off.Poverty rates among pensioners have fallen particularly slowly, and they have not fallen at all among people of working age without children. Source

I could go on and on. But I won't. I shall simply note that Polly Toynbee often gets things badly wrong. It is incumbent on us all not to be deceived by the appearance of progress under NuLabour. The reality is far more complex. David Cameron should avoid attempts to draw up policies that could have been written by Bliar/Broon or Mandy,etc.Embracing flawed policies as our own can hardly be a recipe for success...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Polly Toynbee and the Tories

One of David Cameron's key policy advisers, Greg Clark MP, has urged the Conservative party to abandon Churchillian ideas and look to Guardian commentator Polly Toynbee instead.Now, there’s much to be said for reconnecting the Party with the One Nation tradition of Benjamin Disraeli and even Adam Smith but I think there is a danger of unnecessarily provoking much of the grass roots to apoplexy as well

Clark is reported as saying "Polly Toynbee is a serious thinker about social policy”. What!!!Blair, says Polly on a regular basis, should cease talking about ‘choice’ and ‘personalisation’ as if the NHS and schools were consumerist institutions. Instead, the message should be reiterated – Labour is for public services, the Tories are for ruthless privatisation, outsourcing etc. She also has a tendency to argue that the Prime Minister should stop "under-selling" his achievements!!
As far as Polly goes I would say that the Devil has it about right.

I would also urge Greg Clark either to reconsider his views or to lock himself in a room with a revolver and do the decent thing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thou Shalt conform to NuLabour's will

Having long revered Orwell's '1984' & Huxley's 'Brave New World' as accurate works of prediction, consider NuLabour's latest attempts at social engineering. For instance, Tony Blair has just unveiled plans for nearly 80 "supernannies" to help parents tame unruly children. The Prime Minister said he would spend £4m introducing a national network of experts in a bid to tackle anti-social behaviour at the root. Writing in the Sun, Mr Blair said "an overwhelming majority" of people would welcome outside assistance. But it's not just Blair. Proposals to tackle anti-social behaviour by forcing more parents to attend parenting classes are to be published soon. Home Secretary John Reid will outline plans to encourage the courts to order compulsory lessons in a wider number of cases. (Is it not without importance that unapologetic ex-Communist John Reid is now rated as 'conservative' in Labour's spectrum?)

The Left has done great damage to almost every aspect of life in Britain.That is not in doubt.The problem is how to halt this statist tide and reverse it- to challenge the left's total domination of society, thought and culture. Most of the British public are, as Orwell noted, largely apolitical-they do not think in the way the Left does. Thus, statism is here to stay for the foreseable future it would seem. And will prosper under Gordo. So long as people feel reasonably comfortable financially they're quite frankly not going to care that we live in a nanny state. (And how many of the electorate know our leaders are ex-commies?) Am I wrong? Oh lord I wish I was.

Hat tip to Martine Martin for the great picture!

Monday, November 20, 2006

What referendums? Gordon Brown and the Euro federalists

In a speech marking the beginning of Britain's EU presidency in the second half of 2005, Blair made, even by his admittedly low standards, a fairly rational speech to the European Parliament "We have to renew," he said, as he urged the union to accept new members such as Turkey and Croatia and to modernize economically to confront the competitive challenges of China and India.

If European countries decide "to huddle together, hoping we can avoid globalization, shrink away from confronting the changes around us, take refuge in the present policies of Europe," he said, "then we risk failure, failure on a grand, strategic scale."

But the situation across the Channel is far, far different. The French contenders for the presidency in 2007 have both strongly embraced the idea of a French-led drive for European integration. Nicolas Sarkozy, the centre-Right favourite for the presidency, recently set forth his own plans for reviving Europe after the failed constitution, involving a "mini-treaty", extracting elements from the defunct text. Segolene Royal opposes Sarkozy's idea of a "mini-version" of the torpedoed EU constitution. And what does she have in mind?

Gilles Savary, a French MEP and her spokesman and foreign affairs adviser, speaking to The Daily Telegraph has commented. "She believes, like all the French, that Europe should be more protective and should defend itself better," Mr Savary said. Miss Royal was confident that "Europe can be relaunched with Germany, Italy and Spain. It is perfectly possible to have treaties within the treaty, among four nations," he said. "If other nations want to sign up, that's good. But we cannot have a Europe where one part goes to war in Iraq, another part does not, and we all end up paying the bill." Germany has already indicated that it wants to resurrect the now discredited EU Constitution by the end of its presidency of the EU next June.

In the past, Gordon Brown has painted a picture of a Europe held back by outdated economic and political ideologies. According to Gordo Europe was being throttled by regulation, inflexible labour markets and product and capital markets that desperately needed to be liberalised.Blair has often been overly keen to mend fences with EU leaders. Will Gordo step up to the mark and credibly defend the national interest as PM or will it be a continuation of the lacklustre Blair approach? The Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, has said that "I think the EU should remain a union of states because I think the nation state has still not ended its mission..." Would Gordo agree?Will he really take on the Franco-German federalist axis?Who can say?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Alternative Futures for Tony Blair

While the dead tree media is over flowing with political obituaries for Tony Blair, and Assistant Commissioner Yates of the Yard closes in, TB would do well to reflect on his political after life. No one likes to leave a powerful and important job. But instead of the predictable memoires and corporate speech making, he might choose to seek solace and fellowship with Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek.

According to todays Sunday Times, Drnovsek, 56, has abandoned his presidential palace in Ljubljana, fired most of his retinue and moved with his dog to a mountain cabin where he grows organic food and bakes his own bread. Apparently, he frequently dresses in Indian clothes and is a committed vegan who “ …has embarked on a globe-trotting mission to preach positive energy, environmental awareness, spiritualism and animal rights, pledging to end the tyranny of “well-paid but inefficient international officials”.

Tony, after No10, you too could spread your love, spread the message of positivity and build a worldwide community, and ensure that humans become all we are destined to be.

Well, of course, he won’t be doing any such thing. Money is, of course, the issue for the Blairs. TB will be preoccupied with getting into the global lecture circuit and perhaps acquiring an advisory job with News International. Or perhaps George W. could put in a good word with the Carlyle Group. Not so much "turn on, tune in, and drop out", and more like "MLM - Me, Lovely Me". And some kind of occasional, conscience-salving, bit part in Bono/Clinton’s saving Africa thing.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

NuLabour Loyalist gets disloyal

Margaret Hodge, a long-time ally of TB, indeed, one of the original “Tony's cronys” and friend of the lovely Cherie has made a markedly traitorous attack on her one time Islington neighbour.

The Guardian reports that on Thursday, Hodge told a private dinner organised by the Fabian Society that she had doubted Mr Blair's approach to foreign affairs as far back as 1998, because of his belief in imposing British values and ideas on other countries- what she referred to as his 'moral imperialism'. Well, I certainly am not going to dispute the validity of that particular claim.
A Downing Street spokesman said he knew nothing of the reported comments. "Margaret Hodge voted for military action in Iraq. Since then, she has always spoken in favour of it…” he said.

Now, Hodge has a very long career in both political failure and unswerving loyalty to the Blairite tendency.many will remember that Hodge was notorious for her gross incompetence as leader of Islington council between ’82 and ’92(where she was fondly known as “Margaret Hoxha” after the former Stalinist dictator of Albania, Enver Hoxha). Hodge presided over a living hell for many terrified children in 'care' homes.Neverthesless, Blair rewarded his old friend by appointing Hodge to a succession of ministerial jobs after 1998, most controversially as Childrens Minister in 2002-2004. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown referred to her as "...Cold-blooded, narcissistic and blatantly insincere, she is not fit for this vital portfolio..." Privacy International later awarded Margaret Hodge the 2004 Big Brother Award for "Worst Public Servant" for her backing of controversial initiatives including the Universal Child Database...
Before the 2006 local elections Hodge said that eight out of 10 white people in her east London constituency of Barking were threatening to vote for the far-Right party in the May local elections. On 24 May 2006 the GMB Union wrote to Margaret Hodge asking her to resign "... because of Margaret Hodge giving so much publicity to the BNP which allowed them to win a large number of seats...".
According to a BBC report, Margaret Hodge apparently told a fringe meeting at the 2006 Labour conference that "Mondeo Man and Worcester Woman did not understand what we thought [Cameron] was about" and that the message of the Dave the Chameleon ads was too sophisticated for Barking voters...

Now, it is of some importance that the "Original Tony's Crony" is abandoning TB in the dying days of his premiership. She had “doubts” about the PM as long ago as 1998. Those doubts didn’t, however, prevent her from taking a succession of ministerial jobs from her old friend in the meantime. For Tony the game is up. We can only hope the same is true for the repulsively opportunistic and overly-promoted Hodge. But will Hodge resign or be pushed out of her ministerial job I wonder?

Friday, November 17, 2006

More Snouts in the trough

On a visit to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant yesterday, TB may have had good cause to reflect on the toxicity of the sleaze threatening his lame-duck government. The police chief investigating allegations that Labour rewarded financial backers with honours and peerages last night sent a stark warning to the Prime Minister, revealing that he has gathered significant and valuable material during his inquiry. But Labour's sleaze goes beyond "cash-for-peerages"...
This past week, the former Labour Cabinet minister, Chris Smith, was appointed to chair the Advertising Standards Authority, for which he will be paid £120,000 for a three-day week....
Alice Brown, a Labour Party member who had advised Helen Liddell, the former Scotland Office minister was appointed to the £72,000-a-year post of Scottish Civil Service Ombudsman.

To think that the Labour Party Manifesto in 1997 criticised the evils of “unaccountable quangos and secretive government”....

Thursday, November 16, 2006

No Longer Waiting for Gordo….

After weeks of protracted negotiations, Gordon Brown has been finally anointed as the next Prime Minister. Gordo has managed to shake off inner-party rivals demanding a contest. It is doubtless nice for Mr Tony that he can stay an extra six months in Office during which time he can sort out his retirement plans.
And I thought the Labour Party elected its leader…
So the Queen’s Speech yesterday was a completely meaningless event. We now have to all intents and purposes a lame duck government. The immeasurably grave Iraq disaster rumbles on...
Interestingly, one of the terms of the new Bliar/Broon entente (reported by the Daily Mail a week or two back) is that TB will apparently not publish his memoirs until Gordon Brown ceases to be Prime Minister. I suspect the lovely Cherie might scupper that particular deal. No love lost between Big Gordo and Cherie of course. And Cherie as we all know has a passion for easy money. I can hardly wait...

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Snouts in troughs- Edinburgh-style

The Scottish Parliament is planning to pay out more than £1 million to MSPs who lose their seats or stand down after next year's Holyrood election. Those Members who will not be returning will qualify for a "resettlement grant" of £26,113, which is 50 per cent of their final salary.
Former MSPs are also entitled to reclaim up to £19,500 for settling with their staff and closing offices, though the money does not go to them personally.
This latest move by the Scottish Executive comes only a few days after McConnell and Jim Wallace, the Deputy First Minister proposed peerages for former first ministers and their deputies. The Labour MSP contingent are obviously worried about the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May 2007. Tony Blair will, of course, still be in office next May. Many Labour MSP’s will pay the price. Incidentally, the European Parliament’s deal for MEP’s who are not re-elected is even worse with politicians leaving with a £120K handshake plus relocation etc. The thought of those poor politicians- out of a job and down on their luck-my heart goes out to them all.

Bliar, Reid - turning a blind eye to the Islamists in our midst

At the end of October, Home Secretary John Reid said police would try to "pre-empt the next attack and attempted attack" by terrorists. There would be a "continuing struggle where the terrorists try to get ahead of us and we try to get ahead of them". Today The Times reports that Abid Javaid, a member of the Hizb ut-Tahrir Islamist group (and a senior member at that) is working as a computer technician at the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office. Hizb Ut Tahrir or HT is an Islamic splinter group, which is banned in many countries around the world. It operates freely in Britain. A Newsnight investigation in 2003 discovered that its website promoted racism and anti-Semitic hatred, called suicide bombers martyrs, and urged Muslims to kill Jewish people.
A new investigation by Newsnight has also claimed that the group preached hatred to young men using staged videos of persecution of Muslims.For more about HT see here.
Shortly after the July 7 bombing attacks, Blair included the group in a list of those he planned to proscribe, but it has not been among those banned. In the aftermath of 7/7 Blair also spoke of his determination to "defend" the British way of life outweighed "extremist determination" to destroy it. NuLabour and the fight against domestic terrorism- talk about not “fit for purpose”...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

NuLabour...more dangerous than ever.

"In 2006 it is harder to find out what is going on in government than it was 10 years ago," said Sir Christopher Meyer, the chairman of the British Press Complaints Commission.A combination of changes to the law and the way channels of communication between the government and journalists had altered under New Labour and had led to it becoming harder for the press to report on those in power, he said.

In 1987, the Australian sociologist Alex Carey, wrote "Managing Public Opinion: The Corporate Offensive." He described how in the United States "great progress [had been] made toward the ideal of a propaganda-managed democracy,". The power and meaning of true democracy, of the franchise itself, would be "transferred" to the propaganda of advertising, public relations, and corporate-run news. This "model of ideological control," he predicted, would be adopted by other countries, such as Britain.
And so it has.
Only last week did the Ministry of Defence lift its ban on ITN journalists being allowed access to frontline troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The news broadcaster has now said it has been told there are "no further restrictions" on its reporters covering news from combat zones. The ITN chief executive Mark Wood said: "We are delighted to have reached agreement with the MoD so we can all move on…”
"The thought," wrote Arthur Miller, "that the state has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable, and so the evidence has to be internally denied." And so it is. It's time to stand up and start causing trouble.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Belgian state to subsidise Islam. Will Britain be next?

Mosques in Belgium will begin to receive government funding next year. Muslims constitute about 5% of the Belgian population and 20% of the population of Brussels. Over 300,000 Belgium Muslims are of Moroccan ancestry and over 160,000 are Turkish.The Belgium government employs over 800 Imams and teachers who teach Islam and Arabic in schools.

Flemish integration minister Marino Keulen has announced that seven mosques will be eligible for state funding as of 2007. The Belgium Muslim Representation Association (not the Belgian state) will determine which mosques initially receive funding.

Integration minister Keulen noted that the funding currently allocated for mosques would only be enough for seven mosques in 2007. The imams of recognized mosques will be able to receive salaries like other religious ministers, and mosques will be eligible to receive additional money for repairs and restoration.

Imagine if the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella body that claims to speak for Britain's 1.6m Muslims, were to have a say in which mosques were to receive state funding??? God forbid. Perhaps Belgian Muslims could fund their mosques -and I know this is pretty radical thinking- with their own financial means.
But naturally enough there is a problem on that score. The Protestant work ethic has failed to take root in much of Belgium's Muslim community. A chap by the name of M. A. Muqtedar Khan, a Muslim academic working at a US university, observed the following after a study trip to Belgium in 2005: Apparently some Belgian Muslims refused to look for jobs since the welfare check was normally 70% to 80% of the salary. For those who were married with children, welfare provided comfortable living and with low property values, even those on welfare could actually own homes.

Well, indeed. Why should a community so plainly enjoying the benefits of welfare be bothered to pay for the upkeep of their own mosques? And where have all the Saudi petro-dollars gone?

As for the United Kingdom, there are more than 500 mosques with official registration, which gives tax benefits and the right to perform recognized marriage ceremonies. There are probably another 500 unregistered mosques as well. Of the some 1,000 clerics, only about 30 were trained in the United Kingdom. 'cause for concern there I would say. Don't be surprised if the UK taxpayer ends up subsidising mosques as well.
The warning signs are already there. Just look across to Belgium.

Why Tehran has good reason to thank the Bush-Blair confederacy....

In his first State of the Union Address in 2002, George W said "Iran aggressively pursues these weapons (weapons of mass destruction) and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom".
At the beginning of 2005, two years after invading Iraq, the question was very much “Is America about to go to war with Iran?” "Would there be another preventive war to effect the nuclear castration of Iran?" Asked whether he would back Israel if it raided Teheran's nuclear facilities, Bush said in Feb. 2005, “Clearly, if I was the leader of Israel and I'd listened to some of the statements by the Iranian ayatollahs that regarded the security of my country, I'd be concerned about Iran having a nuclear weapon as well..."

In March 2006, Bush told an audience in Washington that his administration had proof that Iran was producing lethal, improvised explosive devices, that had been found in Iraq. “Such actions, along with Iran's support for terrorism and its pursuit of nuclear weapons, are increasingly isolating Iran, and America will continue to rally the world to confront these threats." W said.
Following last Tuesday's midterm rout of the Republicans, things certainly look very different. Members of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan panel, will meet George W today along with the vice-president, Cheney, and the secretary of state, Rice. The panel is actively exploring the possibility of an overture to Iran on how to deal with the danger of Iraq descending into all-out civil war. Mr Blair said of Iran in October 2005: “Their attitude towards Israel, terrorism and nuclear weapons is not acceptable. If they continue down this path people are going to believe that they are a real threat to world security and stability. I feel a real sense of revulsion. It shows how much some of these places need to reform themselves. How can we build a more secure world with that type of attitude? It is a disgrace.” In his annual Guildhall Speech on foreign affairs tonight, Blair will also say that the problems in Iraq will not be solved without a broader Middle East strategy to secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians, requiring the engagement of both Syria and Iran.

Naturally. The overthrow of Saddam Hussein by the US has swept away Iran's local rival, and free elections in Iraq have brought the Shia majority to power. Iraq, weakened by the immense violence which has followed Saddam's overthrow, now regards Shia Iran as the dominant partner in the relationship. King Abdullah of Jordan has warned of a Shia crescent. In yet another way, George Bush/Tony's disastrous impact will live on well past their terms in office: the ultimate result of the Iraq debacle is an authoritarian Iraq leaning toward Axis of Evil member Iran.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Big Gordo puts a bit of stick about....

In the dying days of the Bliar administration, Gordo has made a pitch to take charge of the fight against terrorism when (if)he becomes PM. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Gordo said that only a Labour government led by him could be trusted to protect the country, claiming the Conservatives do not understand “the scale of the threat we face”. Gordo said it was for a PM to "take the lead" and for the rest of the ministerial team to "play their part". The point here being that Brown is engaged in an offensive to wrap himself in the flag - to proclaim that, as Prime Minister, he will take no chances with national security. At the same time, Brown has dismissed Tory calls for a dedicated cabinet security minister. The Home Office is clearly not fit for purpose. Neither is Broon’s approach to national security. Centralising anti-terror policy to Downing St hardly seems the right approach. As David Cameron has argued, rather than spending £20 billion on the identity card scheme, it would make sense to plough the cash into setting up a dedicated border police force, replace the Human Rights Act with a proper Bill of Rights that will not hamstring the police and security services, legislate for the possibility of making telephone intercept evidence available to the courts, and confronting fundamentalists at home as well as abroad. The problem is it won’t be long until Blair/Brown adopt Cameron’s approach, legislate and label them another Labour vote winner.

Talking of national security, our gallic friends seem to be experiencing a spot of trouble with their intelligence services. According to Le Parisien newspaper, £18m from a secret emergency war chest controlled by a handful of French intelligence agents agents has vanished. Some of it may have been spent on what one spymaster called “dancing girls”.

For all his “pyschological flaws”, I doubt if MI5 will be spending cash on “dancing girls” when Gordo takes over at No10. Although I am sure much investment will be wasted. After all, Gordo has "form" in wasting public expenditure. When Gordo takes charge, austerity will be the order of the day- theatres and cinemas will close, dancing will be forbidden...enjoyment for enjoyments sake will be highly disapproved of. But will Gordo really be our Lord Protector in the fight against the terrorist threat? Or is this latest intervention designed to put potential leadership rival, John Reid, on notice that Broon will cede no area of policy-making on the road to the premiership. A shot across any potential rivals's bows as it were. Gordo wants no competition- He has seen off Alan Johnson and the others. He now demands nothing less than a coronation- the office of PM by right.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Howard Dean signs on for Labour’s sinking ship

The Guardian reports today that Howard Dean (the 2004 Democrat presidential candidate who failed to win a single primary or caucus outside his home state of Vermont) is to advise Labour on campaigning strategy ahead of Welsh, Scottish and local elections next May.

“The Welsh, Scottish and local elections next year are our midterms," said Hazel Blears, Labour's chair. “We want to look at their experience in campaigning, getting out the vote, holding house meetings where people can come together ... You don't want to transplant American politics, but there's a lot we can share," said Ms Blears.

Labour’s enlisting of Dean, an outspoken opponent of the Iraq war, in an effort to up Labour’s campaigning game is really rather strange given that the Democrats’ success in the Mid-term elections was owed largely to mobilising voters discontent about the Iraq war. The very issue which has caused many of Labour’s activists and core voters to abandon the Party. Labour are clearly desperate. Support for Labour has dropped to its lowest level in almost 20 years with the Conservatives opening up a potentially election-winning 10-point lead, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published at the end of October. The Populus poll in Tuesday’s Times shows no overall change in the Tory position (36%), but suggests that the party is proving a hit with women, 37% of whom back the Tories compared with just 31% for Labour.

It is significant also that Ms Blears, as Labour’s chair, is so focused on the campaign for the May 2007 elections-a clear indication that Blair still intends to be in office next May. A penny for glowering Gordon’s thoughts... Perhaps I am mistaken but I also thought Labour were teetering on the verge of bankruptcy (the Party admitted to £28m in loans but only £3.4m of income in donations earlier this year)….yet the enlisting of Mr Dean and efforts at reviving and modernising grassroots activism will cost money. Has Labour received a recent infusion of cash from some unknown secret donor, I wonder? Show us the money, Tony.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Polly Toynbee spouts off....time for a reality check

The usual unsourced and unsubstantiated bollocks from Polly Toynbee in today's Grauniad. This time she's going on about the need for Labour to reclaim the support of female voters. A surgical fisking is required, needless to say:

Polly argues...It is an extraordinary failure by Labour to have lost support from the voters who have gained most from the most female-friendly government yet. Just consider the great investment in maternity leave, nurseries and childcare: every three- and four-year-old now gets a nursery education. In 1997 there was a childcare place for only one in eight children, but now there is a place for one in three...
*In reality, Labour has adopted a policy of laissez-faire towards the vast majority of families, leaving them to find their own solution to the childcare lottery and has thus presided over a spectacular growth in day-nursery provision

She goes on: ...Sure Start has done more for new mothers than any other programme. It was low-paid women who gained most from the minimum wage, while tax credits help millions of families.
*In reality, a team of academics from Birkbeck college, London which is evaluating the scheme far from transforming the lives of the poor has argued that Sure Start appears overall to have made no difference at all. Although some individual schemes have been successful, in general it has failed to boost children's development, language or behaviour in the areas where it is operating.
See here

As for tax credits, millions of families are suffering financial distress because of the shambles in the wat the tax credits were introduced. An IFS report in 2006 showed that the tax credits system was discouraging some 2.2 million people on lower incomes from working more, because if their incomes rise the tax credits will be taken away and they face paying up to half of their extra income in tax.

And there's more:More has been spent on education and the NHS, with more new schools, hospitals and clinics, than in any other 10-year period.

*In reality, despite Labour's record spending increases since 1999, the OECD has shown that the nation's health is improving solely as the result of trend improvements which began before they came to power. Three quarters of the spending rises have been absorbed in cost increases, or as they are also known, increased paychecks for GPs in exchange for failing to work in the evenings and at weekends. Only a quarter have gone into new beds and staff. As this suggests, NHS productivity - the measure of value for money - is declining. A recent study compared the performance of different Western countries' health services in reducing mortality: the NHS came 18th out of 19. Educational standards, meanwhile, having risen during the 1990s, levelled off after 1999 and show little or no improvement for the cash that has poured in since that date.
Research has also shown that the income gap between rich and poor has widened significantly under Labour. Data from the Office of National Statistics showed that the incomes of the best and worst-off had risen by about a fifth between 1995 and 2003.

She's not through yet:Crime has fallen; there are more police and a new community support force on the streets.

Under Labour there are a million violent crimes a year, gun crime has doubled and police clear up rates are at their lowest rates for ... 25 years

Actually, all of this verbiage is a reptition of what she wrote on the 19th Sept, when she was in mourning over the Swedish Social Democrats election loss. She does tend to plagiarise herself quite a bit

I take the view that in certain respects, New Labour's approaches to the family are more reminiscent of the old Stalinist regimes of Eastern Europe in their demands of women as both carers and workers than of the transformation that had been anticipated before the 1997 election.

Polly, the fact is cuts in benefits to single parents, the drop in numbers of women MPs after the 2001 election and resignations from popular female ministers such as Estelle Morris, the demotion of Ruth Kelly, etc all signalled that Labour's "gender agenda", is certainly running out of steam.
Then there’s the Baghdad effect. Preemptive war....probably not very appealing to women voters.
Women had high expectations of New Labour; these expectations have not been met. Nor will they be.
Polly also makes a now familiar call for a woman deputy leader. She indicates her support for Harriet Harman. The latter, as you will remember, only lasted as Secretary of State at the Department of Social Security for just over a year (3 May 1997 to 27 Jul 1998). TB fired her. Megan Tresidder of the Sunday Telegraph has commented of Harman: She "has the fighting spirit of a Shirley Williams or Barbara Castle; yet when she talks about socialism, she does not convince you that she is their natural daughter."

Harman is rumoured to be one of Brown's chief supporters. She, like Gordon, will make an ideal opponent. She is gaffe-prone and alienating. And has been over-promoted. One hopes that the Labour Party might go along with Polly on the Harman suggestion. As for the rest....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bush is a loser....Why Conservatives should be pleased

An apt and strikingly effective front page from The Independent. The Democrats have won control of the House of Representatives and the US Senate. The American people have woken from their post-9/11 slumber and issued a searing indictment of Bush and the neo-Cons. They have repudiated the Iraq war and a corrupt "do-nothing" Congress.The American people have chosen to correct a disastrous course. The process of recovering America's good name must begin somewhere.
And the Bush defeat is the best possible outcome for conservatives around the world. For Bush is no Conservative.He is no ally of limited, constitutional government. Pre-emptive war, which encourages war for such vague humanitarian ends as "human rights," or because the United States believes another country may pose a threat to it, is not part of Conservative thinking.
As Douglas Bandow noted three years ago:
...The charge that he’s a crazy right-winger is beyond silly. Other than tax cuts—which have benefited the rich only because the rich paid, and still pay, most of the taxes—virtually nothing of conservative substance has happened. Government is more expansive and expensive than ever before....

For Paul Craig Roberts Bush bears no resemblance to a political conservative. A political conservative does not confuse government with country. Patriotism means loyalty to country. Bush, however, demands allegiance to his government: "You are with us or against us!" Critics of the Bush administration are branded "unpatriotic" and even "treasonous"...

W is a loser (rather like TB). He simply isn't "one of us". I shall not mourn his political demise...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

W. Bush says farewell to Rumsfeld and a Republican Congress

In the days leading up to the Mid-term election, Bush said he wanted Rumsfeld to stay on as defense chief until the end of his second term. Eric Ruff, the Defense Department press secretary, said he participated in meetings with Rumsfeld on Wednesday and heard no talk of changing war strategies or of Rumsfeld leaving his post. The newly-empowered Democrats, though wasted little time today in renewing calls for the president to sack the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.

Well, Bush announced this afternoon that Rummy has decided to resign after six stormy years at the Pentagon. The Democrats’ electoral success on Tuesday now opens the way for congressional investigations into the conduct of the Iraq war and its aftermath. W, the chickens are coming home to roost! W will have to adjust to the new political reality of being a lame duck President in much the same way that TB is now a lame duck PM. The Iraq debacle has emasculated the pair of them (so to speak)…

Turkey breathes a sign of relief...for now.

According to the newly-released Progress Report from the European Commission,
freedom of speech in Turkey is not guaranteed, the military still plays a "significant" political role and non-Muslim religious minorities face discrimination. All of which is true. The Progress Report states also that the pace of reforms has slowed down in Turkey and the 9th reform package, which Turkey is still working on, was not completed in the period which the report covers. This is also true. As expected, Brussels has condemned Turkey's continued blocking of trade from EU member state Cyprus. Cyprus has said it will veto the opening of any new chapter unless Turkey gives in on opening its ports and airports to Cypriot traffic before the end of the year. If no progress was made in the next month, the Commission would publish another report which would probably call for the suspension of negotiations related to Turkey's customs union with the EU. A showdown with Ankara now looks set for mid-December when the European Council meets.
Actually, the Turks are much cheered by EU Commision President Jose Manuel Barroso's comments today that EU Accession talks with Turkey will not face immediate suspension despite a continued dispute over Cyprus. In short, the Report is much as expected , i.e., critical but not overly so and wide open to interpretation by both supporters and critics of Turkey's EU ambitions. That's how it looks from Istanbul.
If you are a masochist, the commission's full report is here (PDF)

Why one “peace activist” is a complete tit

Remember Norman Kember?
The British “peace activist” taken hostage in Iraq last year, by the Swords of Righteousness Brigade and freed in March in a multinational military operation involving the SAS. He wasn’t excessively grateful about being rescued by the “violent SAS”as you may recall. Scotland Yard has now told Mr Kember that those who kidnapped him are now in custody. Channel 4 News reported last night that Iraqi police had made arrests about a month ago over the kidnapping and they were hoping to take them to trial next year.
Scotland Yard approached Mr Kember to give evidence at their trial. But Kember said he would have a moral dilemma testifying against his kidnappers because of his strong opposition to the death sentence.
I am, as even the most casual of visitors to this blog will know, firmly and unequivovally opposed to the whole Iraq nightmare- the circumstances which led up to the invasion and its aftermath. As is Norman Kember. But I differ with him on the critical issue of administering justice to terrorists. In my considered view, forgiveness grows from the barrel of an M-16 as far as homicidal Islamists are concerned. And if the shoe were on the other foot, forgiveness would hardly enter into it. Kember is deluded- as deluded as our own Dear Leader.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Nu Labour shafts ever

London's pride, Tessa Jowell, had long given private assurances that VAT would be waived on building the Olympic facilities. A spokesman for the Treasury has now said that it "almost definitely would have to be paid". The Treasury says EU rules dating back to 1973 leave little room for exemptions. Tessa apparently didn’t know about any such rules. The cost of £250m or more may now be picked up by the London council taxpayer or met by a further raid on the National Lottery. Blair has intervened to say that taxpayers in London should not have to fund any Olympic overspend. But then few would believe a word he says about anything. So this means they are, indeed, aiming to raid the lottery. The 2012 "budget" also does not include anything for Security, apart from actual guards at the stadia themsleves. The UK Government and taxpayer is going to have to spend at least over a billion on extra anti-terrorist security.

In any case, the long-oppressed London taxpayer gets shafted...the costs on yet another NuLabour vanity project are spiralling out of control. Livingstone has already announced that once the Olympic facilities are up Londoners will have to support them through higher taxes for a long time to come. This will be like the Dome, only on a vaster scale. Remember the Manchester Commonwealth Games? They were not "on budget" - the taxpayer had to bail them out to the tune of over 100 million. The Wembley stadium was due to cost 250 million, and is now going to cost over 800 million. The Nu Labour Project has one fatal flaw at its heart: a lack of interest in joined-up planning (but an obsession with glitzy PR)and a penchant for over-spend (its in their ideological DNA). Mind-we are the ones who stand to benefit...

Monday, November 06, 2006

Communist set to win presidency… Could Blair bound back from political death??

In Nicaragua, the Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega, today looked increasingly set for political resurrection, 16 years after the voters opted to sling him out of office. Ortega had, as you will remember, led a hard-line Marxist revolution in which he nationalized private land and drove inflation over 30,000 percent. Ortega will win the presidency outright if he holds on to 40 per cent of the vote or maintains 35 per cent and a lead of five points over the second-placed candidate. This could be one of Latin America's biggest political comebacks. His previous two presidential attempts, in 1996 and 2001, were failures. And it seems his wife has played a major role in Danny’s political rebirth.
Maybe Tony will try a similar resurrection from political obscurity when Big Gordo’s reign starts to crash and burn. Cherie would be all for it.
We all know how she feels about Gordo...

Actually, Ortega is only set to seize victory because the predominant "anti-Sandinista" vote was split between three parties. A lesson for anti-Leftists everywhere is to be learnt from that particular screw-up.With a per capita GDP of less than $800, Nicaragua is piss poor by even Latin American standards. Nicaragua receives approximately 35 percent of its budget from foreign investment and aid, and that would be in jeopardy if Ortega were elected and pursued an agenda of nationalizing industry and expropriation.

As with other elections in the region, Hugo Chavez has injected himself into the process in an attempt to influence the results. Back in April, Chavez hosted Ortega on his weekly television show, hugging Nicaragua's former revolutionary leader. "I shouldn't say I hope you win, because they will accuse me of sticking my nose into Nicaraguan internal affairs," Chavez said. "But I hope you win." Chavez has already offered cheap oil and heavily subsidized fertilizer if Mr Ortega wins.

The results of this election could prove to be a turning point for Nicaragua. And almost certainly a turn for the worse at that. Ken Livingstone, the BBC and the left-liberal media globally will experience collective orgasm if Danny Ortega wins through...of that we can, at least, be sure. In a country where underemployment is estimated at nearly 47 percent and half the country lives below the poverty line, the future looks grim for Nicaragua.No matter how The Guardian might interpret the results.But could Tony and/or Cherie ever stumble back from the political morgue to darken our futures?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Blair's a loser...according to Bryan Gould

Time for a trip down memory lane. Remember Bryan Gould. Who? Bryan Gould, the former Labour MP and Labour leadership hopeful. Bryan clearly isn’t too enamoured of Emily (for those who still don’t know-TB was nicknamed "Emily" at school).
According to Gould "Tony has lost it, he's living in a world of his own, and - as most will say - he's deluded on Iraq." As far as Mr Gould is concerned, Labour wasted the "unparalleled opportunity for change" it gained in 1997.
"We had a charismatic, popular, young leader, with a huge majority in Parliament and, arguably, Thatcherism had run its course. "It was a real chance to begin a transformation of society," he told the BBC News website from his native New Zealand, where he has lived since 1994. "It's not that he (TB) lacks principles (although he clearly doesn’t have too many of them), but he lacks politics….Blair always pitched to the public with 'trust me', but then Iraq came along, by which time he had become arrogant - and that will be the end of him…"
Yup, Bryan is right. TB has blown it. ‘Time for him to depart the scene (Good riddance) and make way for the Caledonian chap with “psychological flaws”. As I am sure Bryan Gould would agree. Incidentally, after leaving the UK, Bryan returned to New Zealand as Vice-Chancellor of Waikato University. He stepped down from the University at the end of 2004.He is currently a director of Television New Zealand.

Africans are not very smart-mind the evolutionary gap?

Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa is an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics (LSE). And a highly controversial and versatile one at that. He has just published a paper in the British Journal of Health Psychology alleging that African states were poor and suffered chronic ill-health because their populations were less intelligent than people in richer countries.

In the paper he cites Ethiopia's national IQ of 63, the world's lowest, and the fact that men and women are only expected to live until their mid-40s as an example of his finding that intelligence is the main determinant of someone's health. The LSE is supporting Kanazawa’s right to academic freedom of expression. The commissars of political correctitude are predictably demanding his head. I am a little doubtful on the value of Eugenics, which was after all so influential on certain political forces that shaped the intra-war period. Kanazawa certainly has the right to express his views. Will the LSE stand by their man? I wouldn’t bank on it.

* Kanazawa has authored other controversial papers, such as "Why beautiful people are more intelligent," and "Teaching may be hazardous to your marriage," which contends that male high school teachers and college professors constantly exposed to young women may begin to find their wives less attractive and their marriages less satisfying. I wouldn’t know about that last one....