Thursday, September 30, 2010

On being prepared

Almost every one of the people I talked to yesterday – and it was quite a few – raised spontaneously the story of Ed Miliband and his brother, but in terms of speaking dismissively of the media treating it as a "soap opera".

Nevertheless, that is how the media deals with its affairs, reducing everything it can to the lowest intellectual level, revelling in the trivia and the drama, oblivious to the important issues and, most often, not even beginning to understand them.

Immersed in the news coverage of yesteryear, however, I am warming to the thesis – often advanced by my erstwhile co-editor – that it has never been any different. While I have seen in the past some very interesting and accurate coverage of technical issues, it does seem to be the case that the last place you can go for analysis and understanding is the media.

Many journalists like to think of themselves as writing the "first draft of history". But more often, their work is an intellectual cul-de-sac, so wrong and so misinformed that it provides only markers as to the fact that something happened - the actual facts having to be gleaned from other sources.

However, for that basic news, the media does still serves a purpose, and it is The Daily Mail which provides the most colourful coverage of the strikes and violence sweeping Europe, and in particular of the General Strike in Spain.

What we do not get, though, is any sense of whether this reflects wider sentiment in those countries, representing Europe on the brink, or whether this is just the action of a few disaffected hotheads with an eye to maximising publicity for their cause.

The evocative pictures, though, warn of things to come here – and the idea of "spending cuts" triggering violence has been much touted by the unions and, most recently, by senior police officers.

With their fingers deeply embedded in the tills, their self-serving cant conceals what we would like to think is the real truth – that the trigger for riots and disorder will be the failure of government to make the necessary cuts, as it continues to slice off greater and greater proportions of our incomes, while delivering less and less.

Talking over the possibility of violence with someone else last night, the view was advanced that a better option is pushing the likes of the EU Referendum campaign, a non-violent option that has the merits of giving activists something to do.

The trouble with this is that doing something, for the sake of doing something, is not necessarily better than doing nothing. And it can be worse. We have to contend with the idea that much of what we do as eurosceptics is actually counter-productive. The other thought is that simply repeating the same tactics that have consistently failed for the last 30 years is not exactly a winning strategy.

Better, perhaps, if we stopped trying to create a mass movement and concentrated on building structures which would enable us to exploit the mass movements than arise spontaneously, when the time is right. For that, we need a different approach – and a very much smaller number of people.

The point, of course, is that violence, if it is going to come, will come for reasons entirely unrelated to our own preoccupations. What is important is that the instability it creates – if it goes far enough – presents opportunities to seek and effect change. But that is only any use if we are prepared, and we are not.

Certainly, gathering signatures and going cap in hand to our rulers to ask "pretty please" if they would be ever so kind and give us a referendum is a complete waste of time and life energy. The time for that is when we have built up the infrastructure that can put a million people on the streets, at a time and place of our choosing. Then, we don't ask ... we demand.


Rewriting history

Two articles yesterday, one in The Daily Telegraph and the other in The Daily Mail trailed a new BBC documentary called Secret Iraq. A three-part series, showing at 9pm on Wednesdays, it purports to tell the "real" story of the Iraqi occupation and insurgency.

The Mail starts its report with the legend: "Britain's withdrawal from Basra was a 'defeat' which left the city 'terrorised' by militias, according to a damning verdict by British and American generals." Yet, many will recall how much effort went into portraying this defeat as a "victory", with sundry generals all offering a carefully crafted concerted line, not least Gen Dannatt, with his infamous "we have achieved what we set out to achieve" speech.

Typically, though, in order to progress the narrative, the producers rely on the tired and wholly unreliable device of using "talking heads". And one of those heads is Gen Dannatt. This is not only lazy journalism, it runs the risk of misleading the watcher. Players are being allowed to state positions which are partisan, yet their contributions are accepted without challenge, effectively as stated fact.

I will not comment a great deal more, holding the bulk of my fire until the series has ended. But I would note the comment in October 1941 of Sir Stephen Taylor, Director of the Ministry of Information's home intelligence division, when he was discussing the need for a working definition of morale.

In a highly relevant observation, he said that: "Morale must be measured not by what a person thinks and says but by what he does and how he does it." The same must apply to journalism and history. Events must not be measured by what the persons involved think and say about them (especially afterwards) but by what they did and how they did it at the time. Actions should speak louder than words.

By that yardstick, Dannatt – and many other actors – come out very differently than they would have you believe from their subsequent claims. Needless to say, though, I have a dog in the fight, with my book Ministry of Defeat. Despite this new narrative being better and more expensively resourced, I still prefer my version to what the BBC has so far offered.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You too can have one

I'm absolutely sure that you want one of those really eco-friendly Smart cars – you know, the ones that do 150,000 miles on a pint of petrol, accelerate from 0-25mph in thirty years and make a statement to all your friends and neighbours about how green you are.*

Well, you are in luck. The owner of the Smart car in the picture doesn't need his any more, so it's going at a knock down price. And if you have a little difficulty recognising it, it's the silver thing between the two trucks. Perhaps we could get Ed Miliband to drive it?

* Reliable sources here say it wasn't Smart car ... it was a Ford SUV. But hey! This is a propaganda war as well.


Belgian minesweeping

Dated 1939, the caption to this photograph reads: "Member of Royal Dutch Navy demonstrates the Belgian version of how to defuse a sea mine."

And, for the intellectual equivalent, on Thursday 30 September we have Geoffrey Lean hosting an "Age of Energy" event at The Daily Telegraph offices, where you can pose your question to a panel of energy experts including Secretary of State; Chris Huhne, TV Presenter; Philippa Forrester, Shell Chairman; James Smith, Leading academic; Professor Gordon Mackerron and WWF Chief Executive; David Nussbaum.

Marginally, the winner of the Brain Trust goes to the Belgian, so the chances of you getting anything out of this event are a tad remote.


I really do hope

... once again, that all those Hooray Henries who rooted for Cameron as defender of the armed forces are now having a good look at themselves as the implications of the strategic defence review begin to emerge.

You might have expected me to have followed the process in some depth, adding to the "great debate" from the experts and pundits as to which way our defence policy should go. The problem, though, is that there hasn't really been a great debate, not in any sense of there being a strategic review.

What this is about, and what it was always going to be about, is cost-cutting. The process then becomes a money-grab, with each of the Services fighting for its share of the loot and trying to protect its favourite "toys". Thus, the chances of us emerging with "leaner, fitter" armed forces are next to nil.

In fact, as we now see from Liam Fox's reaction, the financial top-slicing risks having a devastating effect on the forces' morale. So we have the defence secretary complaining: "Frankly, this process is looking less and less defensible as a proper SDSR and more like a 'super CSR'" (comprehensive spending review)".

But why is he so surprised? As long as there is a divorce between foreign policy and defence, as, we pointed our earlier, this was always going to be a "strategy-lite" review. That means that it could only be about spending.

It is there that the dereliction of our foreign secretary begins to be apparent. Throughout the entire review process, he should have been putting down markers on Britain's place in the world, aiming to shape the review and thus ensure that the foreign policy interest was paramount. Instead, he has been silent.

Looking back, we have not had a single speech of any weight or significance which might have been taken as a foreign office contribution to the strategic defence review. Then we get his intervention yesterday, when he elevates "climate change" to the top of the league.

Without any sense of surprise, we have noted the inability of the media to remark on the absence of foreign policy input to the defence review. It thus has to be unsurprising that it fails to note the perversion of policy and the absence of the foreign secretary from the debate.

Much earlier, my erstwhile co-editor confidently predicted that in William Hague we would have the worst foreign secretary in history, and so far she is stacking up to be right. But then, this is only to be expected from a man who is the right hand to a lightweight whose grasp of foreign policy seems to embrace a belief that we were a "junior partner" to the Americans in 1940.

Going right back to the beginning, the great concern about Cameron was always that he was a policy-lite leader. The concern turns out to have been fully justified. Now, with the chips down, we are seeing the effects of that inability to "do" policy - and it doesn't get any more serious than failures to craft foreign and defence policies.

Hague as worst foreign secretary, therefore, has to be seen in the context of his being a member of the worst government in living memory. After the last administration, that is going to take some doing, but it looks to be the only superlative that Cameron and his merry men (and women) will ever merit.


A cold wind doth blow

Reported by the Scottish Daily Record and now picked up by The Daily Mail is the news that the Cairngorms in Scotland saw a coating of snow last weekend (pictured above). Temperatures in the Highland mountain range plummeted below freezing as a couple of inches of snow fell , despite it still being September. Now The Record is quite openly saying that the snow - before the end of offical British Summer Time - has sparked fears we could be facing another long, cold winter.

Nor is this – as you might expect – an isolated event. Other parts of Scotland also suffered their coldest September temperatures for nearly 30 years as double figures sank to below zero and frost appeared. Kinbrace in the Highlands was the chilliest place, recording a temperature of -4.4°C, while Loch Glascarnoch had its lowest September since 1993, at -2.6°C.

The paper quotes STV weatherman Sean, who has reviewed the current weather patterns and is saying: "At the moment it does look like there's a good possibility we'll have another cold, snowy winter."

It certainly does have that feel about it. Two hundred miles further south, where we run into winter without even the briefest Indian summer to fortify us, we have been resorting to central heating for the last three days. A certain weary cynicism thus overtakes as as we observe the shenanigans on the election of the Labour leader. Noting how it is that the winner if Ed Miliband, former energy and climate change secretary, it is he who shepherded the Climate Change Bill into law.

Despite tht fact that this legislation is set to cost us £18 billion a year, all to deal with the hypothetical effects of climate change, it is a testament to the detachment of the poltical classes that this has not harmed his political career.

But now bloweth the cold wind of reality. And despite the best efforts of the politicians and the media to keep it from the general public, the growing cost of Mr Miliband's extravagence is becoming more and more evident. Many a career is going to be destroyed by another bad winter. It would be so nice if Mr Miliband's was one of them.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Oh dear

On Thursday 30 September at 6pm, I am told, New Direction – The Foundation for European Reform will be launched in the City of London. The launch will attended by Baroness Thatcher as well as the secretary of state for defence, Rt Hon Liam Fox MP; Europe minister David Lidington MP, and minister for international security strategy, Gerald Howarth MP.

New Direction, they claim, is a free market, euro-realist think tank. It is affiliated to the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR). The founding president is Geoffrey Van Orden MEP and the director is Shane Frith – formerly director of Progressive Vision.

In fact, little Shane is a tad shop-worn. He has worked for a number of London based think tanks, including Reform, Open Europe and the Centre for Policy Studies, since moving from his native New Zealand. He has spoken for the Stockholm Network and was the founder and director of Doctors' Alliance, "a pan-European network of medical professionals seeking better ways to deliver healthcare." He is also listed as a Progressive Conservative.

Shane tells us he has regularly appeared on television and radio in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, including the BBC Politics Show, Bloomberg TV and BBC Radio. And, from 2002 until 2004, he was Chairman of the International Young Democrat Union, an organisation "that links young people involved in centre-right politics."

Not only that, he has been a parliamentary candidate for the New Zealand National Party and has worked as a consultant for a number of MPs both in Britain and New Zealand. More recently, as "a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party," he confessed that he was "worried that I may have to vote for the Liberal Democrats at the next election."

Howsoever, this week's launch will be attended by MPs, MEPs, Ambassadors and senior representatives from the City and business. Then, New Direction will get down to the serious task of providing an income for think-tank-tart Shane Frith. 

In his spare time he will then seek to promote policies and values that emphasise the factors of growth and competitiveness - small government, less regulation, free trade - as well as opposition to EU federalism and the importance of the transatlantic alliance and a range of issues including defence and immigration.

No doubt, the cause of eurorealism will be mightily strengthened.


I should not do this

... but sometimes, you just can't help yourself. First, you see this headline, then you see this one, and the imagination automatically does the rest. But the real savings, one suspects, would be in Westminster and Whitehall. There is most definitely prime minister potential here, and it could avoid this sort of tragic outcome.

In fact, the possibilities are endless, especially where they have already implemented the idea, as the picture here illustrates.

- - - -

But hey, the one thing they can't do is research, so I'm safe at least. It's back on the treadmill for me on Battle of Britain project and I've been hard at work revising the narrative on this day, 9 September.

What is incredibly interesting and useful here is the number of people helping out. Apart from the forum (which continues to be invaluable), the stuff people are sending me on e-mail, and the long telephone conversations with friends and colleagues, it is amazing how many people are prepared to help when you contact them out of the blue.

So far, I've had some serious help from the New Zealand Commission (now Embassy), Great Ormand Street Hospital for Sick Children, The Peabody Trust and the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovil. That detail and help makes all the difference. I have a good feeling about this project.

- - - -

And here, the article to end all articles - in The Guardian of all places. Louise Gray, he's sussed you!


Thrice strange

You would expect that, when the foreign secretary goes to New York to deliver a speech to one of America's most prestigious think tanks, that the British media might report it.

This is Hague, and he has been talking to the Council on Foreign Relations. But just as important is the subject – climate change. "I believe we, as foreign policy practitioners, need to up our game in building a credible and effective response to climate change," he says.

He then goes on to say that climate change is perhaps the twenty-first century's biggest foreign policy challenge along with such challenges as preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. So, we have a British foreign secretary equating climate change with nuclear policy, and this is not news?

But just to make the hat-trick, we have China trying to breathe life into the climate change process, and that does not seem to be worth reporting in the British media either.

So what really is important? Er ... don't ask. I really don't know any more what is supposed to be news. But generally, it ain't anything I'm interested in.


Monday, September 27, 2010

He's right

Dellers is saying that: "We need to ensure that corporatist profiteers are no longer able to benefit from the distortion and corruption of the markets which result from green regulation."

He's right, of course, but short of shooting them, it is difficult to know how we go about doing that. In the US, the Tea Party movement is showing us the way. We need to punish these dodgy politicians at the ballot box, he says.

Then we need to ensure that those scientists guilty of malfeasance are, at the very least thrown out of the jobs which we taxpayers have been funding these last decades.

The big problem is that this country is no longer a functional democracy – if it ever was. The corporates are in bed with the politicians (and vice versa) and the people are very carefully kept out of the loop. Apathy reigns and, even if it didn't, we now have a choice between Ed Miliband and David Cameron. Some choice, unless you include Nicky Clegg.

Shooting them all, however, is a messy and inefficient way of going about things. Invariably, the wrong people get topped and, likely, it is the corporate selling the guns and making the profits. Profits are profits, whether from carbon credits or cordite. Plus, there is an absolute certainty that they will get their hired killers (pictured) to retaliate.

All in all then, things look pretty bleak ... unless, like Charlie, you believe in miracles. Perhaps that is what we need. Failing that, we have Delingpole, and that's a start.


The £100,000 cleaning bill

I have lost count of the number of times I've heard from sundry eurosceptics about the role of the Queen in protecting the sovereignty of our nation – the importance of her coronation oath, how she is the last resort, etc., etc.

There is, however, a growing realisation that the Queen is not going to come to our rescue, and drag the nation back from the clutches of the EU, forcing reluctant politicians to restore our independence and start governing us properly in the national interest.

And it may be that which fuels some of the current antagonism, being shown by The Daily Mail, which complains about a near £100,000 bill just for cleaning the chandeliers.

The Palace response however, is quite reasonable. To an average person who has an average house, it seems a lot. "This is our Head of State in her headquarters and a high standard has to be maintained," the spokesman says. "People are not profligate with the spending."

Actually, one could go with that, if the Queen was acting as a Head of State and was performing a role as a constitutional long-stop, protecting the people against the unconstitutional – as some would have it – depredations of the Westminster politicians. But, it seems, the Queen has now shrunk in stature to little more than a gilded figurehead, with no intention of fulfilling her constitutional functions.

For a fully-functional Head of State, £100,000 on cleaning the chandeliers is not a lot to pay. On the other hand, for a useless geriatric simply to enjoy the trappings and privileges of power, without giving anything back, it is far too much.

At the moment, there is enough residual loyalty and affection to sustain the Queen, who was around during our darkest hours (pictured). But the time is coming when more and more people will be asking what royalty is for.

That questioning will most likely become a torrent when or if Charlie takes the throne. We could see a crisis of confidence and much else. Not least, that may present the opportunity to bring home to people that the real head of state is the president of the EU commission, currently Mr Barroso, and that Mrs Betty Windsor is an "EU citizen", just like the rest of us.

Then, paying for cleaning the chandeliers will be the very last thing we have on our minds. We will be more inclined to hang something in their place.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

A bloody disgrace

Britain's biggest supermarket chains are selling halal lamb and chicken without telling unsuspecting shoppers. Those stocking meat slaughtered according to Islamic law include Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Somerfield and the Co-op.

And a Mail on Sunday investigation has found that fast-food chains including Domino’s Pizza, Pizza Hut, KFC, Nando’s and Subway are also using halal meat without telling customers. But the UK’s second-biggest supermarket, Asda, has refused to confirm or deny whether it sells halal meat.

If you spool down to the end of the news report, to the comment piece, you might see a familiar name.


Shouting out loud

Booker, thank goodness, will get slightly more coverage with his column than I did with my post covering the same territory.

Certainly, it cannot be said often enough – especially as it is being ignored by the BBC and almost all of the media – that "the world's largest wind farm" opened off the Kent coast last week, is going to cost us £1.2 billion in subsidies over the 20-year working life of this installation. The corrected headline, by the way, reads "billions" and not "millions".

At a time, supposedly, of economic stringency, it is offensive beyond measure that this government – like its predecessor – is encouraging such huge amounts of money to be top-sliced from our electricity bills, "by far the most important and shocking aspect of this vast project" writes Booker.

But what is equally offensive is the silence of the media on this aspect. Those outlets which have reported on the installation have been completely silent on the fact that, for the subsidy we are being forced to pay, we could have a 1GW nuclear power station, which could yield a staggering 13 times more electricity, with much greater reliability.

The obscenity does not stop there, though. The Swedish owners, Vattenfall, may have commissioned 100 turbines but they are only the first stage of a project eventually designed to comprise 341 of them. When complete, this will generate subsidies of £1 billion every five years.

And even then, that is not the end of it. A final claim for the Thanet wind farm (which Mr Huhne boasts is "only the beginning") is that it will create "green jobs" – although the developers say that only 21 of these will be permanent.

Now, when you work it out, each of these are costing, in "green subsidies" alone, £3 million per job per year. That is £57 million for each job over the next 20 years. The Government gaily prattles about how it wants to create "400,000 green jobs", which on this basis would eventually cost us £22.8 trillion, or 17 times the entire annual output of the UK economy.

If all this sounds dizzyingly surreal, Booker says, the fact remains that we must begin to grasp just what the green fantasies of Mr Huhne, the EU and the rest are costing us. And we should also remember that Huhne's immediate predecessor was Ed Miliband, the man who is now the leader of the Labour Party, the man who approved this dreadful, deceitful scheme in the first place.

A crucial first step towards getting some grip on reality, Booker concludes, "must be for those who report on these wind farms to stop hiding away the colossal price we are all now having to pay for one of the greatest scams of our age." He is right. Even in this day and age, £1.2 billion is a serious amount of money, especially as that is only a down payment.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wholesale micturition

There can be no justification or moral imperative which requires anyone to pay tax to a system which permits this, the wholesale raiding of the public purse. The picture of Mandelson (left) is priceless, and says it all.

But if the EU commissars are at it – as always – so are the MPs with another lapse of judgement that will cost us a small fortune.

All this, of course, pales into insignificance when we end up paying a hidden tax of £1.2 billion for the latest windfarm scam, but there is something particularly loathsome about these individuals creaming off the system. These people are, as we have observed, indulging in wholesale acquisition of micturition.

Turning to the great statesman Thomas Jefferson, it was he who said that, "When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." And without dwelling on the issue of whether we have reach the state of tyranny, it is certainly the case that too many in government have lost their sense of fear.

How we return them to that state, without wholesale slaughter, must be one of the most pressing issues of the day for, without the people able to impose meaningful sanctions on our politicians, there is no restraint which will prevent more and more of this type of abuse.

Jefferson was the great upholder of the right to bear arms, and considered the ultimate safeguard against tyranny to be the armed militia. Although he did not say so explicitly, the logical and only consequence of his advice is that, should our politicians get out of control, we must be prepared to take up arms against them and, if necessary, kill them.

I do not actually think we are there yet, but we are heading in that direction – and I would always argue from an exception with anything to do with the EU. If anyone slaughtered the entire corps of the EU commission – eurocrats and all – I would not shed a single tear.

That is why warnings are necessary. Jefferson was no fool and history does tell us that, eventually, people lose patience with abuse of power. The response is nearly always ugly and violent. The likes of Mandelson may feel they can acquire the product of micturition at their leisure. But the reprisals can be abrupt, brutal and permanent.


Too close to call

Apparently, there is a leadership contest going on in the Labour Party.

Does anyone care?


Friday, September 24, 2010

Queenie – meet Charlie

The Queen asked ministers for money to heat Buckingham Palace from a fund reserved for low-income families, it has been revealed. Royal aides pleaded for the cash as they claimed gas and electricity bills had risen by more than 50 percent in a year - totalling more than £1million. They thus complained that the £15m government grant to cover the Queen's palaces was inadequate and her energy bills had become "untenable".

And now for the "money quote": The dosh would have come from £60million of energy-saving grants reserved for cash-strapped families, housing associations and hospitals.

But what Queenie really needs to do is have a word with her son Charles. The lad has recently embarked on a tour of Britain to promote his sustainable living initiative, START. The initiative, we are told, aims to combat the confusing messages around climate change, global warming etc, and just get people to "start with something really simple", like having a clothes swapping party or walking the kids to school.

Whilst there's nothing new in what Prince Charles is doing, burble its supporters, "it's refreshing to see a simple message of community, responsibility and sustainability without the hysteria and nay-saying that's usually associated with environment stories."

So there you are ... Charlie - the boy wonder who wants energy bills to increase so that we can save the planet - can meet his cash-strapped mum and arrange a new START. It's a bit late for her to start walking the kids to school, but I'm sure the clothes swapping party would go down an absolute bomb.


A rat is smelt

On the face of it, we should be delighted with the news here that a bonfire of quangos is being planned.

However, while we may be looking a gift horse in the mouth, to commit the cardinal sin of mixing metaphors, I smell a rat. Having spent more of my life energy than I would care to admit researching the theory of deregulation (so much so that I never got round to publishing), my crucial finding was that every cyclical bout of deregulation presaged a further spate of regulation.

The dynamics are so locked together that there is good evidence to suggest that each leap forward in state control actually requires a period of deregulation, that being used as the scapegoat for all government failings and thus the justification for more and greater controls.

Thus, the way the progression works is that you have a spell of regulation (with the creation enforcement and administration bodies) and then a reaction, which leads to a partial deregulation. This, however, simply acts as a step towards a new bout of regulation, giving the march towards authoritarianism a jagged, "staircase" profile.

Just abolishing quangos, therefore, is of little avail – unless you address the reasons why these bodies were created in the first place. Otherwise, all that happens is that the bodies transform themselves into different structures, but do not actually disappear (either that, or they go into hiding for a few years).

And what is not visible is any attempt to address those reasons – the root cause of excessive regulation and officialdom, which probably means that this highly publicised initiative is just window dressing.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

The scam spreads

Via the blogs, we learn that feed-in tariffs are a total rip-off. But how can that message possibly prevail when the BBC's "take" is that buying in to the scam offers "a great return on investment!" And, needless to say, the Beeb is also talking up the news that the world's biggest offshore wind farm off the Kent coast has been officially opened.

As always, the BBC sprays out figures, but no information. We get told that there are 100 turbines in the £780m wind farm, and that these "are expected to generate enough electricity to power 240,000 homes" – perhaps the most dishonest way going of describing the capacity of these machines.

In fact, getting proper statistics from the media is a losing battle, but Vattenfall, the project owner, has it on its website that there are 100 Vestas V90 wind turbines, with a total capacity of 300 MW. This is sufficient, it says, to supply more than 200,000 homes per year with clean energy.

By the time you take in the load factors (about 26 percent), however, and apply the rather understated government-inspired domestic consumption factor, you actually get 131,000 homes – but even then the figure is fiction. On cold, windless days, the number is zero. On a breezy summer night, when the power isn't needed anyway and the National Grid is having to pay suppliers not to produce electricity, it could be a lot more. Such are the games they play.

But there are no games when it comes to the subsidies. On top of the £40 million in electricity sales, Vattenfall will collect at least £60 million a year in Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) top-sliced from our electricity bills so that we do not notice the theft. And theft it is, an undisclosed tax paid to these rip-off merchants for producing unsustainable electricity.

Over term for the 20 years these turbines are suppose to last, we are looking at a public subsidy of £1.2 billion – enough to build a 1GW nuclear power station – a plant with a deliverable capacity more than 13 times this wind array. That is the extent of the rip-off to which we are being subjected.

And for that, it appears, we get 21 full-time green jobs. But if we gave them a million each and told them to get lost, that is not even a rounding error on the amount we are dealing with. We would get to "save" (i.e., not spend) £1.2 billion, less £0.021 billion. Instead, we pay - effectively - nearly £60m per job for the 20 years. These must be the most expensive jobs on the planet - we could even have 20 David Camerons for the price of each worker.

As with my previous thread, I ask why we tolerate this. That much, of course, is rhetoric. We tolerate it because, individually, we are powerless against the might of the state. But that will not always be the case. We need to make it so before the state ruins us.


It's not them, it's us

The headline almost speaks for itself ... Ban Ki Moon, that thieving little autocrat heading one of the biggest kleptocracies in the history of man – barring the previous one – wants governments to pledge £25.5bn to eradicate world poverty.

It is not a coincidence that, below this one, we have a piece which records that, since 2003, we've spent £30 bn in "aid" to Afghanistan. And have we eradicated poverty, even in that benighted country? Or is it a fact that the country is poorer than it ever has been, that the rich are richer, that the violence is at an historic high and there are thousands of overpaid tranzies feeding at the tit of international money?

But you would expect a thieving tranzie such us Ban Ki Moon to be holding out his hands for more money ... that is what he does for a living. But it does not excuse the likes of Nick Clegg – an ocean-going moron if ever there was one – from supporting these thieves.

Back home, though, we support these people – defer to them – elect them ever ... "we" being the generic, of course. I'd sooner cut off my leg and feed it to the cat than vote for any of these ... (insert suitable description here). In fact, after a visit from the bailiff yesterday, I may well have to anyway.

Why do we allow these morons to get away with it? What is with the collective stupidity of the "civilised" world that we allow these brain-dead fantasists to run our government, to waste our money and to spread misery, discord and discontent around the world, all in the name of convincing us that they really are as stupid as they look?

It is us, collectively, who allow this to happen. We need our brains examined.


The heart rejoices

... to see this report in Der Speigel. But what took it so long? I recall writing a whole series of posts in 2008 addressing such issues, and in one of the series, I quoted the award-winning journalist Fariba Nawa and her 2006 report on the reconstruction programme in Afghanistan. In it, she wrote:
Afghans are losing their faith in the development experts whose job is to reconstruct and rebuild their country. While the quality of life for most is modestly improved, they were promised much more. What the people see is a handful of foreign companies setting priorities for reconstruction that make the companies wealthy, yet are sometimes absurdly contrary to what is necessary.
Then, last year, we had the famous Ferris wheel which gave eloquent testimony to the bankruptcy of the programme.

Nearly $40 billion (€30 billion) in development aid has flowed into Afghanistan since the start of the war. It goes into an industry which is also concerned with securing its own posts and functions, with the hard-to-criticize justification that it is doing good.

Yet there is no one with any understanding of the situation in Afghanistan who will tell you that the NGOs are anything other than pure poison, along with most of the government aid programmes. They are doing more harm than good - incalculable harm - and will continue to do so for as long as we support them.

"Aid organizations are businesses dressed up like Mother Teresa," writes the Dutch journalist Linda Polman in her no-holds-barred exposé "The Crisis Caravan: What's Wrong with Humanitarian Aid?" And this is not new information – as we ourselves show. But still it goes on, and on and on.

That is the curse of modern society (and perhaps even of society in general). Long after you know something is a crock of sh*t, it still goes on because there seems to be no way of stopping it. But why are we so surprised that Afghanistan is going belly up? We would be mad to expect any other outcome ... stark, staring, raving mad.

There you have it - a kind of incurable madness grips us all. We allow this insanity in our name. We listen to the politicians justify it, and do not slaughter them, even despite the fact that their ignorance and sloth will cause the slaughter of many, all with our money.

The international community is digging a multibillion-dollar grave for itself - and us. This is decadence of a higher form, and we should be ashamed.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Snatch to be replaced

The BBC is trilling its little head off about the announcement that the decision to award the contract for the LPPV has gone to Force Protection Europe and Ricado, with their Ocelot. That is probably the right choice and it means that the last of the Snatch Land Rovers can now be replaced. However, while one can say it is exactly what the Army needed – that was back in 2003. It is now probably too little, too late.

Nevertheless. it will be heaps better than the Jackal and maybe some soldiers who would otherwise have left their legs and possibly their brains spattered over the Afghan countryside might survive intact. However, in the case of some officers, it would be hard to tell the difference if the latter event occurred, and for some generals it would be an improvement.

Of course, it would have been nice if we had had mine protected vehicles back in 2003, when we really did need them, instead of the Snatch Land Rover ... er ... except that we did (pic below). But the Army didn't want them and flogged them off at knock-down prices. It then did its level best to ensure that no more were bought - with the full support of the BBC - until the hapless Des Browne forced the issue and soldiers started finding out how nice it was to have two legs after all.

Now, of course, the Army has seen the light, seven years after it could have acted – which is about the sort of speed the Army is capable of working (in fact, slightly faster than average). But the Taliban now have seven years practice in blowing up British Army vehicles and will soon get the measure of this one. What we really need is more Buffaloes and some Huskies, which even the French are buying, and some concerted effort in using intelligence-based systems coupled with 24/7 UAV surveillance on target routes.

The trouble is that the idea of using detection systems, as well as detection vehicles in concert (much less designing and buying a Pookie replacement with GPR and environmental mapping software) is probably so far above the competence level of the typical brown job that we'll have to wait for the invasion of the Euro Army (where in some countries they still have an education system) to up the brain-cell count before we get any movement in that direction.

Instead, we'll have to make do with the Media's currently favourite talking head, Col Tootal, to tell us what for. He knows everything 'cos he's been there and ritten a book. So that's alright. Job sorted.


The House of Pachauri

One cannot avoid making the comment (at least, I can't) that as we see the homeland (and indeed adopted home city) of Dr Rajendra Pachauri make such a sterling performance of the Commonwealth Games, we can also rely on them for their financial probity and good sense, when it comes to dealing with the consequences of global warming.

How heartening it is that the former colony has had the good sense to learn the lessons from the Raj, and can now take its just place in the galaxy of liberal, democratic nations which lead the world with their imagination, fortitude and organisational skills - which are so much coming to the fore in the current celebrations of athletic prowess.

We should be so proud.


Too many examples

I was tempted, albeit only for the fraction of a nanosecond, to write about Chris Huhne. But even the thought of writing about this retard was just too much to bear. In any case, I'd already provisionally marked up this story (see above) for my overnight piece – yet another example of the incompetence and lack of proportion of modern-day officialdom.

But as my erstwhile co-editor is fond of asking, was it ever any different? And the answer to that is probably no. Whenever state systems are put under stress and anything serious is demanded of them, they tend to foul up, as this remarkable piece from Ritche Calder attests – published exactly seventy years ago yesterday.

This, I've built into my own latest post on the events all those years ago and I am now convinced that the period towards the end of September was the time when the British government came closest of all to losing control, and possibly facing an insurrection.

The evidence of a major U-turn is there, even despite draconian censorship by a Ministry of Information which was actually the model for George Orwell's MiniTruth. In his book 1984, he was describing Soviet Russia, but the model also drew from his experiences of London in 1940 (where he was living at the time), the British government and the BBC.

All of this serves to reinforce my general contention that no good can come of vesting too much power or resource in the apparatus of the state – whether police or any other institution. They will always mess up. And therein lies our problem. We have allowed a situation to develop where the state has too much control. The example above and many others (too many) illustrate that we have a lot of clawing back to do.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sodden and limp

In the aftermath of the British withdrawal from Sangin, we have considerable media comment, and a huge contrast of styles. Up front is the ponderous – some might say pompous - Max Hastings, in The Daily Mail. He says: "Blame the generals and politicians for this mess. But our soldiers can hold their heads up high."

Then we have the gung-ho Sun which blares: "Sangin: Our Boy's blood, their efforts, their victory." And just to make sure we get the message, it has that great strategist Andy McNab, who is now the "Sun Security Adviser". Continuing the joke, he tells us:
I AM fed up with armchair generals who say the handover of Sangin to US Forces is a British retreat. That is 100 per cent crap. We have moved out because at long last the 20,000 US 'boots on the ground' finally arrived.
The Scotsman has Clive Fairweather telling us that the handover is a sensible redeployment of our troops ... not a retreat. He then retreats behind a "premium" paywall, so we never get to see what he really thinks. And we care less.

In The Daily Telegraph we get some sensible pieces from Thomas Harding, but it is more reportage than analysis. And that is what is missing – decent analysis.

You couldn't call Hastings's piece "decent" analysis. His is lightweight extruded verbal material. You unroll it, tear it off by the yard and paste it in to fill the space. I'm getting rather bored with his pontificating. I much prefer my own.

I was mightily cheered, however, by an extract from Michael Foot's biography of Aneurin Bevan, who commented on the wartime coverage of military affairs – the Second World War, that is. "Immediately on the outbreak of war," he wrote, "England was given over to the mental level of the Boys' Own Paper and the Magnet." He continues:
The Childrens Hour has been extended to cover the whole of British broadcasting, and the editors of the national dailies use treacle instead of ink. If one can speak of a general mind in Britain at all just now, it is sodden and limp with the ceaseless drip of adolescent propaganda.
At least we can take some comfort in having been there before. I devoted a considerable amount of effort to evaluating the situation at Sangin in Defence of the Realm and was particularly proud of this and this, both of which pieces attempt to get to the core of the problem.

But with a nation given over to a second childhood, still "sodden and limp with the ceaseless drip of adolescent propaganda," such grown-up analysis is a complete waste of time and energy.

How much easier it was for the political classes to prattle on about "underfunding" and "overstretch" instead of using their brains. How much easier it is now for the tabloids to cheer "Our Boys" to the rafters, and celebrate yet another victory. We deserve what we get.


It's dead

Moonbat writes the obituary for a climate change agreement. "So what do we do now?" he asks, then telling us:
I don't know. These failures have exposed not only familiar political problems, but deep-rooted human weakness. All I know is that we must stop dreaming about an institutional response that will never materialise and start facing a political reality we've sought to avoid.
The poor wee lad. One of his commenters is terribly unkind, writing: "Never mind, George, I'm sure there'll be another bandwagon along in a moment, and some new scare for you to fret about."


Monday, September 20, 2010

Is this man an imposter?

There is this person called Clegg (the one on the left), who claims to be the deputy prime minister, telling us that he is planning to mount a programme of fear and intimidation in order to extract more money from the "middle classes" – as opposed to the filthy rich class to which he and his tranzi wife belongs.

The thought occurred that maybe we should report him to the police as an imposter. But then the further thought occurred that this is what the police spend most of their time doing anyway (when they are not extracting money under false pretences), so we are not going to get a lot of help from that quarter.

Cogitating on this, I popped into the doctors' surgery this morning, to book an appointment to see a doctor about a minor complaint. The earliest the receptionist could offer was 28 September, and then only if I took the slot at 7.50 am. One can, therefore, see why Mr Clegg needs the money so desperately. After all those years of under-funding, it is so very obvious that the cash-starved public services need more assistance.

Not least, he also needs the money to pay prisoners £750 compensation for being deprived of the "right" to vote. And now little Cleggy is set to obey those lovely European judges and give all prisoners the right to vote, after an "official source" said the rulings might make it impossible to keep the current voting ban in place.

Forgive me if I have raised this before, but have I ever asked for reasons as to why we should not rise up and slaughter them all?


Another great victory

Most of the papers carry the "news " today, that British forces have scored yet another great victory in the global war on terrorism, handing over the now pacified town of Sangin to the grateful forces of his excellency president Karzai, who will now extend his kindly rule over the friendly and prosperous inhabitants of this bustling market town.

This victory follows in the great tradition of recent campaigning in Afghanistan, where British forces can now add Sangin to the growing list of towns and settlements pacified, which include Now Zad, Musa Qala and Kajaki, and where the US forces can only stand back and admire the sheer skill, dedication and fortitude of the UK military and its leaders.

The template for this success, however, was undoubtedly forged in recent times by the experience in Iraq, where the British military brought us the stunning success of the al Amarah campaign, followed by its storming success in Basra, which has earned the undying gratitude of the Iraqi people – those that survived the experience.

But for those who think such successes are recent, we need to look back 70 years where, this weekend we were able to celebrate another great victory where the RAF so successfully beat off the German air force that the citizens of London and elsewhere only had to endure another eight months of bombing and a few tens of thousands dead and injured – plus hundreds of thousands of homes and properties destroyed - as the Luftwaffe roamed almost without challenge in the barely-defended night-time skies.

And so the lessons of the past transfer to the future. Says Sir Stephen Dalton, the current Chief of Air Staff, "winning the Battle of Britain was vital to the overall outcome of the war ... Unless we had control of the skies over Britain we could not build up the forces ready to liberate Europe later on."

"That is entirely relevant today," he adds. "Without the freedom of the skies in Afghanistan there would need to be 10 times the number of soldiers and marines on the ground to achieve the same effect." And as with the Luftwaffe of the past, we only have to count the wrecks of the Taliban air force to know how true this is.

We are so lucky that we have such wise and foresighted leaders who will guide us on the path to yet more and better glorious victories in the mould of Sangin. And the Afghanis simply don't realise how lucky they are that we happened along at just the right time to save them and their beautiful country.

UPDATE: Nice piece from Thomas Harding - the only thing that will change is the nationalities on the tombstones.


I think I've been saying this

"Of course the last Government was idiotic. It demanded that the British fought two complex counter-insurgency wars in two countries while simultaneously cutting the defence budget. Yet much of the blame for the MoD's grotesque overspend lies with senior officers and civil servants ... ".

Sam Kiley on the programme he's made for Dispatches tonight at 8pm, headed "How The MoD Wastes Our Billions". God knows how many times, and for how long I been saying this, but my constant theme has always been that there is no shortage of money in the MoD.

But the flavour of the time was "underspend" and "overstretch" - a politically-driven agenda that deliberately missed the point. Never mind, as Kiley says, that: "We spend more on defence than everyone except China and America. So why can out top brass barely support one brigade in Helmand?" If there was any justice, there would be a lot of people hanging their heads in shame ... but that ain't going to happen.

And by the way, have a look at this by Devil's Kitchen - a bloody good piece, and more so because he absolutely gets the point about the Battle of Britain. If you haven't looked at the blog, now's your chance. The distillation of the wisdom of a lot of our readers and much else, it's beginning to shape up into something special.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Stuff them

"Once the police forces of this country could have relied on fierce public support against cuts in their funds and manpower. Now I think they will get very little," writes Peter Hitchens. He adds:
For years I have said they should sell the helicopters and fast cars and get back on foot. I said they should reopen police stations and man them. I said they should remember that the middle classes are their friends. And almost all I heard in return was moaning that I was anti-police and unfair to a fine body of men. Piffle.

The police forces of this country have broken their covenant with law-abiding people and now they lack friends when they need them most. If they had listened to me instead of being so sensitive, this would not have happened. Flattery is not the same as friendship, and criticism is not necessarily hostile.
But it is not just helicopters and fast cars. The above scene shows the obstructed junction at the top of our road – where cars and vans regularly park, blocking the sight line and making joining the main road a dance with death.

Yet this is clearly a breach of the Highway Code, where Article 242 states: "You MUST NOT leave your vehicle or trailer in a dangerous position or where it causes any unnecessary obstruction of the road."

However, according to West Yorkshire Police, who came out to look at our problems, this is just the Highway Code and not enforceable – despite being referenced to the Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 22. This says:
If a person in charge of a vehicle causes or permits the vehicle or a trailer drawn by it to remain at rest on a road in such a position or in such condition or in such circumstances as to be likely to cause danger to other persons using the road, he is guilty of an offence.
But the Police deny that this law applies. They have said categorically that they are not prepared to take any action and will not even now respond to our calls. Well, the government can cut their funds to the bone for all we care – in fact, the harder the better. Stuff them.



Julian Williams and Shub Niggurath co-author a guest post over at Bishop Hill, taking on George Monbiot and his defence of the tainted Pachauri – all under the title "George Monbiot: scrubbing the record clean".

Meanwhile, just in case you are wondering, the Press Complaints Commission complaint against Monbiot, The Guardian and The Sunday Times proceeds apace. All the preliminaries have been dealt with and there has been a robust "exchange of views". Now, the issue is scheduled to go to the full panel of newspaper editors for adjudication during their next meeting in October.

Speaking of The Sunday Times, it having retreated behind its paywall, I have stopped reading it on-line, but have still been buying the print edition. So strapped is Mr Murdoch for cash, however, that the price has gone up today by 20p, to £2.20.

Reading the wartime newspapers – as one does – one sees that the 1940 Observer (pictured) was a mere twopence in old money – less than one penny in new. As a totally unscientific rule of thumb, to get current prices you multiply by 100, which should put the price of a Sunday newspaper at under £1 a copy.

Effectively, the price has more than doubled – but are we getting double the value? For sure, there are all the supplements and the magazines, but I never read those anyway. They go straight in the bin.

That leaves me paying £2.20 for a newspaper (£114.40 a year) but, when you compare then and now, you find that the 1940 editions had far more news – about 40 stories per page. This compares with four on the current front page of The Sunday Times and less on most of the rest of the pages. Furthermore, most stories would not actually qualify as news – and I really don't want four pages on the Pope, plus the front page lead.

Clearly, the time has come for a parting of the ways. Internet news, plus a small selection of good blogs is enough to keep informed. The rest can go hang, although I suspect Mr Murdoch will not be losing any sleep at my rejection of his products.


Hospitals on hills

When you hear that a government minister is endorsing a proposal all hospitals should in future be built on hills, to stop them being submerged beneath the rising seas brought by global warming, you really have to start worrying.

This, of course, is Spelperson, but she doesn't personally advocate digging up hospitals and relocating them, in her recent statement or even in last week's speech. And nor even will you find that in the official government report which has caused some excitement.

Nevertheless, with The Independent having set the hare running, Booker picks it up in his column and has a bit of fun with it, before moving on to the serious stuff about renewable energy policy.

It is all desperately worrying, as the government's policy of "massive self-delusion" is based entirely on the need to meet EU renewables targets, yet – as Booker explores in some depth – they are just about as mad as putting your hospitals on wheels and trucking them up hills to keep them dry.

The only problem is that the policies are not so obviously mad, and there are a lot of people who stand to make a lot of money out of them, which means that they have a long way to go before someone pulls the plug – so to speak.

But, with her speech last week, it is very clear – as if there were any doubts – that it isn't going to be Spelperson who pulls the plug. Read the Booker column and weep ... as usual, and wonder how it is that a supposedly intelligent species can go so utterly mad.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

No getting away from it

"Defence decisions must be determined by foreign policy, not by the Treasury," says the lead letter in The Daily Telegraph.

This is from Col David Hills retired. You can see why he is retired, and still a Colonel rather than a General. He talks far too much sense.

But, of course, to recognise that principle also requires looking at the Elephant in the Room. That is not allowed. So we have acres of newsprint, a torrent of comment and thousands of overpaid backsides warming God-knows how many committee chairs – all to absolutely no avail.

There is no getting away from it though – determining defence policy without first working out your foreign policy is a complete waste of time - and some. But to do it when you know that the real reason is because you can't bring in the "elephant" is just dishonest. Then, that's what they call politics.


Of bald men and combs

The European Movement is getting terribly worked up about the EU Referendum Campaign, offering a line-by-line fisking of the Campaign's position statement.

The trouble is that the statement is the usual identikit "euroscepticism" which shows that the authors know nothing and have learned nothing about the enemy they confront. Here is a sample:
It's a sad fact that Britain is sleepwalking into the European Super-State and Britain must wake up to the nightmares hiding under the sheets of Brussels. EU laws and directives made without our knowledge or consent, behind locked doors of the most complicated clauses and sub-clauses imaginable.
Equally predictable is the European Movement response, the bores leading the bores, making this very much the fight of the bald men. But the European Movement should know that any campaign which features as its pin-up boy the egregious Dale, gurgling about the "Westminster Village", is going nowhere.

The first and foremost requirement of any campaigner is to "know your enemy" - Wellington's finding out what is on the other side of the hill, and all that. And the most crucial thing you will ever learn about the EU is that it is not a super-state, has no ambitions to become one and will not become one. But it is, increasingly, a super-government - and that is where it intends to go.

Primarily, the EU is a means by which the political élites in each of the member states by-pass the democratic institutions in their own countries, imposing their rule without the inconvenience of people participation. That is why the construct is so popular and enduring. The élites have created their own government without the interference of the pesky people.

In short, the EU is not an external agency imposed on us by foreigners (the UKIP/little Englander paradigm) but a conspiracy in plain sight, so glaring and obvious that it is ignored by all. It is the mechanism by which the political élites of Europe by-pass democracy and keep themselves in power. Thus, the EU is what the power élite in the British establishment impose on their own people - replicated in each country of the Union of Elites.

But, as long as we have the spectacle of bald men fighting over combs, the proles can be kept occupied without ever getting near the truth. The conspiracy goes marching on. The European Movement is part of it, and the EU Referendum Campaign looks like it is joining it.


And so it starts

We've had a truly crap summer. I've never known the grass grow so little, its been so cold. We've had the central heating on three times this week already, and now we get the above in The Daily Mail.

All the signs are that we're in for a rough winter – another extreme global warming event. And the little warmists can squeak all they like about "weather", but when you're having to buy rock salt wholesale and re-mortgage the house to pay the fuel bills, the "big fry lie" begins to look a bit frayed round the edges.

Another bad winter and global warming is political history – up here, anyway.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Read this and weep

Damian Reece, Lord Turner, the EU and the European Supervision Authorities.

Of Lord Turner, Reece says: "If the EU had its tanks on our lawns, such brave words would be an effective shell burst to drive them off. Except the tanks have already rolled over our lawns and are now camped outside the FSA’s HQ in Canary Wharf, with a division trundling along Commercial Street towards the Bank of England ...".

And that is why there are no politics any more – just revolution.


Meaningless data

According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, arctic sea ice appears to have reached its annual minimum extent on 10 September.  The minimum ice extent was the third-lowest in the satellite record, after 2007 and 2008, the Center says, "and continues the trend of decreasing summer sea ice."

The big joke, of course, if you are into these things, is that arctic ice extent seems to run on a seventy year cycle, as well as being affected by short-term cycles which have more to do with wind patterns than they do temperature. Thus, a declining trend since the beginning of satellite data – which started in 1979 – is actually meaningless. Unless you know what happened in the previous cycle, you have no comparative base, and therefore you are just producing figures in isolation.

The very latest figure might tell us that the cycle is on the turn, and there is some slight evidence that we have passed the bottom end. We are, after all, just past the 70th anniversary of the surface raider Komet traversing the ice-bound northeast passage, on her way to the Pacific to sink Allied shipping.

As we recalled earlier, she left Germany on 3 July 1940 with a crew of 270, sailed up the Norwegian coast and then, with the assistance of the Soviets, navigated the northern route, crossing the Bering Straits into the Pacific Ocean in early September. She returned safely to Germany on 30 November 1941, after sinking seven ships, only in 1942 to be sunk by British motor torpedo boats near the Cap de la Hague, with no survivors.

If seventy years ago, we'd been spending the time monitoring arctic ice instead of indulging in an orgy of killing, we might all be better off. But, since we did not, we don't have the information – and guessing isn't good enough.

The Russians though, who live with the ice - and suffer from the vagaries of the climate far more than we ever have - have collected a huge amount of data and are convinced (warning mega PDF) that there are long-period fluctuations in climatic conditions, and have evidence to demonstrate the existence of an approximately 60-year repeating pattern in the circumpolar Arctic zone.

Needless to say though, that doesn't stop the little boys and girls in NSIDC knowing better and making stupid statements. Why should they listen to the people who know what they are talking about when they can make complete idiots of themselves unaided? But I guess they are no more stupid than the people who listen to them.