Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday 26 April 2006

Labour: the mindbogglingly incompetent Party - the 'sexiness' of power

Really you couldn't make it up!

Charles Clarke - yet another example of the unbelievably incompetent, ideologically-skewed manner in which our Labour Government conducts itself. This bumbling, arrogant, posh-sounding former Communist fellow-traveller and apologist for dictatorship burbles on, like the little boy caught with his hands in the sweetie-jar, trying to explain why he should not resign (or more appropriately, be sacked - well, Tony?) for having presided over a Home Office which has released over a thousand foreign criminals who have served their sentences, but whom courts earlier suggested should be considered for deportation when their gaol time was completed. Clarke, if you please, recognises the error, but thinks he should be allowed to stay and sort out the mess. Our Prime Minister, Tony Blair, apparently has full confidence in him - where have we heard that before? Clarke should go, or be sacked. Why should we allow this man who seems hell-bent on removing many of our democratic freedoms and who is, as I have long suspected, just another example of a rabid socialist who couldn't run a whelk-stall let alone the Home Office, stay a moment longer? The golden opportunity to get rid of him, because of his self-acknowledged lack of managerial ability and flawed judgement should not we wasted!

John Prescott - what a card! A two-year affair with a lady whom we are told is a 'diary secretary' - is that what they are calling it now? Pauline is 'devastated'. Very sad, of course, but you've lived with this bear of a man for decades, lady! What this really points to are two factors: the intoxication of power on the part of those who wield it and the suspension of good judgement on the part of those who come into contact with them. How else to explain the relationships formed by John Prescott, the late Robin 'the gnome' Cook, David Blunkett or David Mellor, or even TV personality/journalist Andrew Neil? The last two just to show this is not yet another anti-Labour, anti-politician rant. Would any of these men have attracted the female attention they obviously do/did were it not for the power or influence they wield[ed]? It is one thing to have self-important TV personalities' sordid sex-lives getting in the way of their jobs, it is quite another to have our Government processes side-tracked by such issues - and if John Prescott were a super-competent exponent of sensible policies as a Government minister then his personal foibles would be less critical, but he is neither of those things. His affair and those of the others do all add greatly to the 'gaiety of the nation', however.

As I said at the beginning, even my fertile imagination could not have made all of this nonsense up! Is at least one more wheel about to fall off this Labour Government's wagon?

Sunday 23 April 2006

Two little calls to action ...

First little call to action:

Visitors may have noticed that about a week or so ago I put up a small button at top left in support of a campain to 'Save Parliament'. Melodramatic language, I fully agree, but justified when you read and understand the terms of what the Government is proposing in its Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill, which I wrote about in some detail in mid-February. Whilst it is true that the Government, in the light of the furiously negative reaction of many people to what it is proposing, responded in late March with its proposals to amend it original Bill, this continues to be an exceptionally alarming piece of proposed legislation which will severely curtail the ability of the citizenry to keep tabs on what their elected Leaders are doing, ostensibly in their names - as recent articles in the Guardian and the Telegraph make very clear. If you share my profound concern, I urge you to visit the Save Parliament website and support its aims in any way you can.

Second little call to action:
Renew your passport as soon as possible -

Now that identity card legislation, in the form of the Identity Cards Act 2006, has been enacted and signed into law by Her Majesty the Queen, a major part of the battle to thwart this pernicious legislation has been lost. However, if you act quickly - preferably now or during the month of May at the latest, you may be able to avoid registering for an identity card for the next ten years.

I decided to renew my own passport at the beginning of March this year, despite my existing passport still having some time to run until its expiry, specifically so that I would be able to avoid registering for an identity card, but there may be time for others to do likewise if they act quickly and so send a perfectly legal, but quite effective, message to this Labour Government that there are a significant number of citizens who reject their authoritarian policies. As the only likely alternative governing Party, the Conservative Party, opposed this legislation before it became law, although I am not aware that it has formally pledged to repeal the Identity Cards Act 2006 should it be elected to govern, there is at least the possibility that I will not have to register even when my current passport expires toward the end of 2016 if pressure is kept up on them to promise repeal - and of course the third main Party, the Liberal Democrats, have consistently opposed this legislation too. To learn more, I urge you to visit the Renew for Freedom website and, above all, to get your renewal/application for a passport off as quickly as possible - if you value freedom there is no time to delay.

My use of the word 'little' to describe these two calls for action is, as I am sure regular readers will already have appreciated, merely an example of classic British understatement in the face of very real threats to our democracy and our collective freedoms.

Happy St George's Day to all my English readers!

St George slaying the dragon

Friday 21 April 2006

Happy 80th Birthday, Ma'am!

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her eightieth birthday today. Long may She reign over us!

Royal Standard for use in Scotland

Wednesday 19 April 2006

New MSP to take oath in Doric

I am of course not a supporter of the SNP, or its wider aims, but I do for some unknown reason find the idea of their latest addition to the 'wee pretendie Parliament' at Holyrood taking a supplementary oath in Scots Doric, after having taken the oath in English (a legal requirement), rather an attractive one:

"I depone aat I wull be leal and bear aefauld alleadgance tae Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors anent the law. Sae help me God "

Unions say they will attempt to overturn Peugeot decision

The decision by Peugeot to close its Ryton car plant is obviously very distressing. However, the idea that the unions or the Government will be able to 'persuade' the company to reverse its decision is, I would conjecture, rather unlikely to succeed - unless it involves a guarantee of massive public subsidy for the foreseeable future. Quite apart from anything else, EU rules prohibit that and whatever view one may take of the EU even 'euro-sceptics' (of whom I am not one) can at least be grateful for this. The most idiotic comment I heard today on the radio was one of the Labour government ministers, Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson I think, saying words to the effect that the government would do the same as it had in the case of Rover - just so long as their intervention/interference is limited to providing temporary assistance to retrainable workers and not in some futile effort at pouring public money into hopeless cases - just as they did in the case of Rover in the run up to the last lot of elections, in fact! With local government elections scheduled for England next month what other comment is necessary with this spin-obsessed Labour government.

Sunday 16 April 2006

Mary Scanlon implicated in dirty tactics in Moray by-election

Opportunism, and highly questionnable ethics, by the Conservative candidate in the by-election race for the Scottish Parliametary seat for the Moray constituency.

I wrote only recently about my views on this person and her attempt at geographic 'rebranding' within Scottish Conservative politics.

Unusual dietary preferences of rapist and murderer

I have read many gruesome reports of the activities of rapists and murderers over the years, but this particular example of an evil individual's thought processes and actions seems to reach new depths:

In addition to finding the girl's bicycle dismantled and stowed under Underwood's bed, police found "a decorative dagger believed to be used in an attempt to cut off the victim's head, a hacksaw, duct tape, meat tenderizer, skewers, and a duffle bag."

- it's the bit about a meat tenderiser and skewers that brought home to me just how abominable this monster is. I am deeply opposed to the death penalty, but I admit to finding it difficult to argue convincingly against that ultimate sanction in this case.

Gay Britons may not civilly partner at Hong Kong Consulate

At present British nationals who are gay may not take part in civil partnership ceremonies at the British Consulate in Hong Kong. The ban results from objections raised by the local Hong Kong authorities. When I first lived in Hong Kong in the mid-1980s homosexuality remained completely illegal there, as it had been in the UK until 1967, but in more recent years the gay community has become considerably more visible - although evidently not sufficiently accepted to allow such harmless, and normal, events to take place. Fuller report here.

I interrupt my lengthy 'hiatus' merely to note this sad evidence of continuing homophobia in a part of China.

Monday 3 April 2006

Today it is VERY cold and windy in Nairn

A couple of para-skiers obviously thought it was ideal weather for them to have fun off Nairn beach!

Taken about 30 minutes ago at the shore

Click here to see a larger image

I'm afraid they both gave up about 15 minutes after I took this photo - the wind was probably just too gusty I suspect.

Britain used torture against suspected communists in post-war Germany

Attempts to cover up this abuse for six decades have finally been at least partially thwarted by the efforts of the Guardian using requests under the Freedom of Information Act. It is salutary to have the news that our own Labour government of that day was prepared to indulge in similar tactics to those used by the then recently defeated Nazi enemy.

As the Guardian points out, it is not clear when such practices finally ended. One hopes that it was well before the signing of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its entering into force as recently as 1987; it is startling to realise that this particular convention was ratified by the United Nations only as recently as 1984.

Many states, including the UK, USA and most other 'democratic' countries have noted declarations and reservations to their own ratifications of this convention. It is depressing to face up to the fact that the world remains a pretty scary place in some respects. Our own present Labour Government has passed, or is attempting to pass, numerous pieces of legislation of late which raise many qualms amongst people like me who worry about the long-term future of our democratic traditions - Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 , ID Cards Act 2006, The Legislative and Regulatoy Reform Bill, some aspects of the setting up of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) [which has just into effect after a one-year trial period].

"I'm not anti-gay" says Australian PM Howard

Do you believe him? Referring to his opposition to the plan by the Australian Capital Territory authorities to recognise partnerships between same-sex partners, Mr Howard is reported as saying:

"That's wrong. This is not an anti-homosexual gesture, [it is intended to preserve the] special and traditional place of marriage as a heterosexual union for life of a man and a woman in Australian society".

What I say to you, Mr Howard, is 'round objects' (aka 'balls')! Nothing in this legislation will in any way affect the right of heterosexual couples to form relationships, get married, have children and live contented and happy lives until 'death do us part' if that's what, with a bit of luck, fate has in store for them.

In response to the question I posed at the beginning of this post, my answer is a resounding

US Anglican episcopate said to be moving toward appeasement

The Anglican Church in the US is said, according to leaked reports, to be moving towards an almost total reversal of its 'liberal' agenda vis-a-vis homosexuals, as a way of striving to retain unity in the worldwide Anglican community. Whether these sad attempts at appeasement, and let's not mince words for that is what this move represents, toward the extreme conservative elements within the Church will reverse the recent flow of history is open to debate; I doubt it myself.

Celebrating four years blogging ...

A milestone for this blog - today is its fourth anniversary. No big deal though. Since I began this blog I've seen the number of blogs grow enormously, particularly here in the UK. A few were around before my little blog, of course, and a few of those are still in existence, but many have come and gone having lasted only a few weeks or a few months. People blog for many different reasons I imagine and some simply cease to add new entries without any prior warning, leaving those of us who followed them wondering what happened; others announce they are not going to continue and actually follow through; some aren't able to give up the 'drug' though, and are soon back to fairly regular posting.

I've had a few breaks along the way, other than periods when I've been away on vacation or otherwise away from a suitable PC, but so far the periods of 'hiatus' have been relatively brief. I'm not sure for how much longer I will continue blogging here - of late my enthusiasm has been waning rather than waxing with only occasional bursts of the more or less frenetic blogging activity I've had the urge to do in earlier years; it's also true that there are a number of other British (including some other Scottish) bloggers who blog from some of the same perspectives as me on a regular basis, so I feel to some extent less pressure to keep up a regular flow of posting as some kind of a lone voice for my particular brand of analysis/ madness as there are others offering similar fare.

For those who have done me the honour of visiting occasionally or regularly and either commenting positively or negatively on what I have written, I again take this opportunity of thanking you most sincerely - your visits and your feedback have been much appreciated. So, this is the start of my fifth blogging year. It is also time for me to get to bed. Go in Peace!

Sunday 2 April 2006

Article heading list for latest 6-month period (October 2005 - March 2006) now up

The archive of 'Article Headings' for the latest 6-month period is now available - click here for the period October 2005 to March 2006.

There are permanent links in the right bar to this and earlier 6-month 'Article Heading' indices, immediately below the standard 'Blogger' monthly archive links.

Alistair Darling with Andrew Marr on Sunday AM

I've just been watching Andrew Marr's interview with Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, on his Sunday AM programme. Generally I like Andrew Marr, but was somewhat surprised to hear/watch precisely how he reacted to some of what Darling was saying. The discussion, amongst other topics, covered the 'back-biting' which has allegedly broken out again between the 'Blair camp' and the 'Brown camp' over the succession to Leadership of the Labour Party, hence who (until the next election) will be the next Prime Minister. Darling made the fairly conventional response, as a government minister, that those MPs and 'camp followers' of various personalities within the Labour Party are not helpful "either to the Labour Party or the people of this country" (this may not be a precise quote of what Darling said, but it is a very close approximation I think). Instead of doing his job of challenging, or at least discussing in more detail, this kind of statement, Marr simply said 'indeed' on two separate occasions to similarly worded responses by Darling to two different but related questions, almost as if he agreed with every word that Darling was saying or that it would somehow be in bad taste to probe what is going on, allegedly, within the 'camps' of Labour's two major personalities, Blair and Brown.

Most political pundits on the BBC usually make at least a pretence of keeping their own personal political beliefs out of their professional lives, even if their biases, real or imagined, can often be detected. Marr has been rumoured to be a Labour Party supporter many times before, fair enough (we must all have our delusions after all!), but I think he fell well short of the requirement not to let his own preferences colour his interviews with politicians with his absymal performance today with Alistair Darling. If I want overt political propaganda on behalf of the Labour Party (or indeed the Conservative Party) I can easily get this by visiting their respective websites - I do not expect a supposedly flagship political news comment programme on the BBC to be so craven in its attitudes!