Tuesday, September 23, 2008

News from the big bad world

So, they ask, where is she? Well, no, I don't suppose they do ask but, anyway, I am around, just busy with other matters, such as attending a conference on "soft Jihad" and how to fight it. There will be a long report or two on that and news of a new publication by Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell, launched tomorrow, entitled "The Plan". Here are some of their proposals:

Scrapping all MPs' expenses except those relating to running an office and travel from the constituency

Selecting candidates through open primaries

Local and national referendums

"People's Bills", to be placed before Parliament if they attract a certain number of signatures

Placing the police under locally elected Sheriffs, who would also set local sentencing guidelines

Appointing heads of quangos, senior judges and ambassadors through open parliamentary hearings rather than prime ministerial patronage

Devolving to English counties and cities all the powers which were devolved to Edinburgh under the 1998 Scotland Act

Placing Social security, too, under local authorities

Making councils self-financing by scrapping VAT and replacing it with a Local Sales Tax

Allowing people to pay their contributions into personal healthcare accounts, with a mandatory insurance component

Letting parents opt out of their Local Education Authority, carrying to any school the financial entitlement that would have been spent on their child

Replacing EU membership with a Swiss-style bilateral free trade accord

Requiring all foreign treaties to be re-ratified annually by Parliament

Scrapping the Human Rights Act and guaranteeing parliamentary legislation against judicial activism

A "Great Repeal Bill" to annul unnecessary and burdensome laws
Can't say I agree with all of it but the ideas are worth discussing and, after all, is that not what we are all complaining about: lack of policy. There is one great advantage to this plan - it cannot be achieved without an exit from the European Union. So if the Conservative Party adopts it ... well, I might vote for them in 2010.

In the meantime I intend to attend the launch tomorrow and shall blog about that. Tim Montgomerie will probably beat me to the finishing line. He always does.

Let me link to another story, one we have been following on this blog. It is most definitely from the big bad world - nothing to do with the EU or our own little party squabbles but much to do with the media, truth and freedom (in whatever order you would like to place those).

Richard Landes reports that France 2 has agreed to an independent enquiry on the Al-Dura affair. He links to a number of articles and comments. Why, one wonders, is France 2 doing this? It can't be bad conscience, as journalists rarely know the meaning of that. Financial problems? Well, we shall see how it develops and whether those missing film minutes will ever be recovered.