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Saturday, April 30, 2005


Ooops, lost the leaftlet, so no detailed critique. Well nevermind. On the plus side, they want a more liberal drugs policy and they opposed id cards. Also, credit where credit’s due, they do make the impression of running an honest campaign. Won’t do ‘em any good mind you, because of Europe, Iraq, taxation, etc. And what an embarrasingly studentish thing to do to use a picture of George Bush to contrast with their own policies. ‘nuff said.


Friday, April 29, 2005

THE CHOICE BEFORE ME: THE SOCIALISTS (real ones, no cheap shot this headline)

Well, what can you say, it’s fairly obvious really what these fellows want, namely to

establish a new system of society: One based on the common ownership and democratic control of the means and instruments for producing and distributing wealth by and in the interest of the whole community.

Ok, well we’ve heard this all before during the last century and a half. Strangely they don’t seem to be put off by the fact that all attempts to actually implement these sorts of policies always ended in dictatorships with variable degrees of cruelty, bloodshed and misery. Local candidate Danny Lambert unsurprisingly had nothing to say about any local issues. Needless to say I won’t be voting for them. However if you want to keep up to date with their activities, they’ve put in some real effort and got themselves a Blogger account, the consequence of which you can view here; is surprisingly readable if you can take the language.


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Excitement, the election flyers are all in! Here in the seat of Vauxhall which is erroneously supposed to be Lambeth at first, there’s a fair amount of choice, besides the mainstreamers there’s a Green, Socialist and English Democrat candidate, and who knows what goodies may be waiting in the booth next Thursday. Actually that’s one of my favourite bits of voting, discovering what freaks are standing for election that are so marginal that I’ve never heard of them before.
Incidentally, the sitting MP is Kate Hoey of Labour.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Probably the best collection of election posters is Blimpish, who has been avidly Photoshopping away these past days. Go immediately hence and have a look at his poster designs for the
Conservatives, 1, 2, 3
1, 2, 3, 4
and even Respect, 1, 2

He also has some shocking revelations about the origins of one of our major politicians, but see for yourself . . .

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

After the last online sould-searching test, I though I might do another, just to make sure about that sexuality thing. So, Channel 4’s Gayometer reassures me that

Congratulations! You’ve scored right in the middle and are a well adjusted and happy hetero man!

What a boring result. And quite surprising given some of the things people used to say about me . . . But that’s a story for another day. . .

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Thursday, April 21, 2005

These online test thingies are being very complimentary about recently. The political ones were a bit odd, but this one about prejudices is also odd in its results (hat tip to Voice of the Futue; Beeb story here). It told me that:

Your data suggest a moderate automatic preference for Black People relative to White People

For the record I’m white, so, huh? I mean I was prepared to accept that I would be subconsciously prejudiced in favour of whites to some degree, but this way round? Oh well, whatever.
They offer quite a number tests on other prejudices too. So, I took the one on sexual orientation which told me that:

Your data suggest a moderate automatic preference for GAY PEOPLE relative to STRAIGHT PEOPLE

Again, for the record, I’m straight. Ought I to reconsider? ;) Yes, I know that’s not what the result means, but again I find it odd, as I would have expected the opposite which I wouldn’t have really been happy about but that I was willing to accept.
I don’t know what these tests actually show us then, but at least they seem to say that my partiotism is intact:

Your data suggest a slight automatic preference for United Kingdom relative to United States

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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Anyways, browsing through the Times I bumped into this piece by Martin Samuel (who he, btw?). I think it serves as a good example of what about the Iraq policy wasn’t wrong and why the “anti-war” crowd is missing some quite important points in their critiques of Blair. It is rather untypical fare for the Times, which much of it taken up with irrelevant arguments and typical anti-war fare, for example

this country is run by liars who have misguidedly allied it to bullies, thieves and vicious thugs

Most of the article falls into this type of arguing and I won’t bother stating the case against most of these points; it’s been done before too often, and if you agree with the writer you will agree even more, and if you don’t, this isn’t going to convince anybody.
However, there are some weightier points being raised, that I feel inclined to rebut. To start off with Samuel writes:

As it stands, there is a very real danger that we will re-elect a prime minister who has overseen the most fundamental change in foreign policy since the dissolution of the Empire, without forcing a proper debate of his beliefs. Wherever one stands on the subject of the war, this is unhealthy.

Except of course that wasn’t the case at all. Britain’s decision to go into Iraq alongside the US was entirely consistent with British grand strategy in the post-1945 era. Sure there is a level of debate to be had about whether the details of the Iraq case merited action, but the decision rested within Britain’s wider strategic outlook, whether you agree with that outlook or not. As Alister Miskimmon has argued conclusively (p.298/299):

The principles underlining the use of the armed forces have not dramatically changed since Labor took power in 1997. …
The UK remains a highly engaged international actor, whose colonial past, combined with its multilateral links, give it a global reach and relative influence that few states can match. Shifts in the European security environment since the end of the Cold War, and the insecurity that characterizes the post-September 11,2001,world have challenged the UK ’s ability to adapt effectively to new foreign policy problems. In particular,the balance that the UK has sought to strike concerning Atlanticist and Europeanist visions of security policy has come under increasing strain. Due to the current upheavals in international order,the UK has not sought radical upheaval of its foreign and security policy. Despite Blair ’s efforts to shape the development of European military capabilities to reinforce transatlantic burden sharing,events have consistently forced Blair ’s foreign policy to be largely reactive in scope. Thus, Blair has not initiated substantial change in UK strategic culture,preferring to try and mainain the UK ’s current position within the transatlantic community.

On the other perhaps there’s something by this Martin Samuel fellow to consider more seriously:

But Iraq is item one, whatever your stance. If you believe the West is truly under threat and is justified in acting against rogue leaders and nations, you should express that in support for the Government.

Please don’t. Another Labour term with power transferred to Gordon Brown by 2007 at the latest, may well destroy Britain’s military infrastructure for such a strategy (see Keegan on this). If you really think this is the number one issue and you are a hawk, the Conservatives still remain the least-worst option; albeit a fairly rotten option too, all things considered.
Ok, but perhaps he is onto something here:

At last count, on April 12, coalition troop deaths stood at 1,723, a toll rising daily, largely unreported … And if we treat our own casualties so disdainfully, what about the civilian lives lost? Is this not what we should be discussing? The rebuilding of Iraq is so chaotically managed that about £4.8 billion of Iraqi oil funds under coalition management are missing.

So, the argument is that it is being run badly? Well, I couldn’t agree more with that.
I also think there ought to be some debate about holding the relevant people to account for several mistakes, including
-the failure to plan for the fact that Saddam Hussein’s netwar-forces (the Fedayeen Saddam, for example), would continue fighting after the collapse of Iraq’s regular forces,
-the apparent ignorance of the fact that in a country governed by a police state there was going to be a good degree of chaos when that police state was in its entirety –and wholly rightfully- dismantled overnight,
-the massive intelligence failure on wmd-programmes, but not Iraq’s. I’m thinking about the failures in regards to Lybia, Iran, North Korea and the nuke smuggling ring in Pakistan. But no one seems to care about that. Intelligence on Iraq’s wmd was ambiguous and this ambiguity was confirmed by post-invasion searches, but intel on these other points was catastrophically inept. These are the real failings we ought to have a look at, because the seeds to future problems can be found in them, not in the wrongful political use of intelligence by Blair, which simply confirm that Blair is not always entirely straight with the facts, hardly something novel only revealed in regards to Iraq.

More points could be added, but those are the issue that a real look at the Iraq question should be addressing, but all opposition parties are skirting to issue either by silence or silly talk about how we ought to outsource decisions on these matters to the UN security council.

It is quite possible that in the UK these issues have been kept under wraps by hawks who didn’t want these issues interfering with the 2004 US election, just as right now in the US the questions are being relegated to a later stage to avoid embarrassment for Tony Blair in his bid for re-election.
However, that is what they must remain: delayed. After May 5th, whoever wins, there has got to be some serious questioning about the failures of British (and US) Iraq policies.

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Thanks to Blimpish for the links to online political surveys (I love these, btw, genuinely).
This one was quite creepy in its result I feel, I mean I am actually not that Eurosceptical at all, and on the rest of the issue I have no idea if they have any policies at all, but this is what the computer tells me how I should vote:
Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:


Your actual outcome:

Labour -3
Conservative 26
Liberal Democrat -20
UK Independence Party 35
Green 4

You should vote: UK
Independence Party

UKIP's primary
focus is on Europe, where the party is strongly against joining both the EU
constitution and the Euro. UKIP is also firmly in favour of limiting
immigration. The party does not take a clear line on some other policy issues,
but supports scrapping university tuition fees; it is strongly against income
tax rises and favour reducing fuel duty.

Take the test at Who
Should You Vote For

Oh dear. Well, there is a more detailed one around as well, so let’s see if it got my politics more accurately.
My general result showed:
Crime and punishment, internationalism
Your position on
this axis is 0.4
You are likely to be centrist.

Your position on this axis is 3.7
You are likely to be very
free-market and pro-war.
Well that sounds about right, whatever that exactly means. So give me more detail. On to page two where we have info

on the first and most important axis. Positions on this axis describe your views on crime and punishment, Europe, and other transnational issues including immigration and international law.

This is were I seriously began sweating:

You didn't tell us which (if any) newspaper you read regularly, but on your answers on this axis we judge your best match is the The Mirror / Daily Record

Not only am I supposed to be voting UKIP, but I’m even assumed to be a closet Mirror-reader? I actually read the Guardian fairly regularly, but why did they stick me with the Moron-paper? Do they think I’m stupid to boot?
I was about to become depressed but the final page was still to come,:

Positions on this axis describe your views on public and private involvement in the economy, international trade, redistributive taxation... and Iraq

Salvation is it hand:

95.7% are significantly to your left
3.9% have views about the same as yours
0.4% are significantly to your right

Phew. What a relief. Though I do wonder what kind of nutters those must be who are significantly to my right? No, seriously, how could you be to the right of me on these issues?
Whatever, my political sef-image has at least been restored.

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Friday, April 15, 2005


Question 1: Defence Expenditure
Should the United Kingdom sustain or increase the existing defence budget rather than reduce it in favour of other priorities for government expenditure?

The Defence budget should not be reduced in favour of other government expenditure,

-because, as studies by both the Government and Tories have shown that there are such gigantic wastages in the public finances that easily beat the total size of the defence budget. Cutting the defence budget and moving money thus saved to other areas will simply fuel and entrech the inefficiency of other Government services.

-because there are already too many shortfalls in simple materiel matters such as aussault rifle ammunition or an apparent inability to maintain an already thinly stretched infantry, which for all intents and purposes is the core of the military. (Briefly see Keegan on this here)

-because the military also matters in many areas of international influence, inlcuding quite significantly, European integration, where this is Britain’s strongest bargaining chip in negotiating for a more sensible EU.

All that said, there’s no reason why the MoD can’t use the money far more effectively and it is high time to look at ways to streamline weaponry development and procurement. (Critique of current practices by Luttwak here)


Wednesday, April 13, 2005

You should really read these questions being raised by Michael Codner from RUSI. Although I doubt any of the parties are going to answer these clearly and comprehensively -let’s face it, that’s not politicians’ strenght exactly- they are a good guide to understanding the security issues that should matter to our voting decisions. I will be providing brief, note-style answers to each of these in the coming days, so you know what you would get if I were a party and you would vote me in. Remember, this is the most important issue there is: national security is the first duty of the central government which we will be determining in early May.
(Also if you want to stay abreast on this issue you might find RUSI’s general election page helpful.)

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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

. . . but I am not being idle. In the current few weeks my internet access is being very irregular and there are actualy real life concerns that need attention too.
However, I am using some of my off time to finish some essay-length pieces, which though largely written and finished eons ago, still need huge amounts of formatting, footnote inserting etc. They will be appearing here sometime soon.
While neither blogging nor blog-reading for quite some time now I have been thinking about what I want to be doing with my site, and after initial thoughts about shutting down, have developed a clearer idea of what this blog of mine is supposed to be achieving. That concept will be revealed along with a new site design sometime in the the nearer future, in about two weeks’ time I guess.
So, plenty of stuff to look forward to.


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