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Thursday, December 22, 2005

As you may have noticed I am far to busy in my real life to do any regular posting at the moment so I figured I might as well take a proper break until real-world issues have been decisively dealt with. That means I will not be back until Monday, January 9.
I am as always bemused by the arguments being traded over Christmas. There are some Christians who complain that the event has lost its religious meaning. I don’t find that quite convincing as the real Christian festival is Easter after all: And on the third day he rose again . . . and all that. That’s the key to Christianity. Christmas is really more a social and cultural event, a festive occasion to bring families together. Of course I am not downplaying Christmas’ religious meaning. I am simply saying that the event is more about family, rather than faith. That said, for me the two are strongly bound together, and I am sure many will agree with me. I think the reason for that is that Christianity’s core message, is also what ties us to our families: the combination of duty and love.
Normally I don’t go for this multi-culti-stuff, but I thought here’s a good political reason to include a Happy Hanukkah this year. Also, the coming year sees the 350th anniversary of the return of the Jews to these shores.
I am not going to wish readers a happy new year, because frankly, it’s a meaningless event. That’s not to disparage it though: after all, the dearth of meaning is surely the whole attraction of it.
Wishing you all a good following days, whatever you make of them.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

In a report on the EU budget argument over the rebate:

Some Blairite MPs had suggested that Mr Brown, in tabling a Commons written answer setting out the full costs of Britain giving up part of the rebate, was deliberately highlighting the additional cost in later years. The seven-year deal is “back loaded” so that Britain is giving up £2 million at the end of the period.

2 million? That’s it? What’s all the fuss been about then?!

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Monday, December 12, 2005

I know this could happen to anyone, but it’s still funny:

If you don not speak English or German you must brin an independent interpreter with you.

And presumeable if you can’t write it, please apply for a job . . .

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Via Clive Davis here’s great column by Anne Applebaum comparing Iraq not to Vietnam but to Korea. I think Applebaum is quite on the money here though I still find it too defeatist. But I think it’s worth comparing how the issue has shifted since I made the Iraq-Korea analogy more than two years ago. At the time I thought Korea was not the way to go and we needed to push for genuine victory. But I think the risk of ending up with another Korea, a situation that achieves a costly and ambivalent situation is quite big in Iraq now. Like in Korea, intervention in Iraq has brought good, but it has also created problems that proper success would have avoided.


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

I quite like the redesigned Spectator website. There’s a links section, never a bad thing, and there’s a news aggregator bit which collects the most substantive news items around. Whilst I have been sceptical about “oficial” blogs in the past, the Speccie’s blog is quite readable. There’s a good entry there by Tim Montgomerie who normally edits ConservativeHome on the still dire prospects for British conservatism, not just in form of the Tory party, but as a general movement. He points to the relatively more successful right in America. I am particularly pleased that he shares my concern, voiced previously, that the British right is very lacking on the think-tank front. What’s needed is unfortunately more money. That’s not quite so easy to fix I fear. But the more voices point to the problem the better.

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Well, so the sunshine kid got it. Good for him. Whether or not this will be good for party and country we will have to wait and see. Far too early to say anything definite I feel. But I do wonder whether he will give up his day job though? Well it does use all the buzzwords:
“. . . progressive and forward looking . . . continuously evolving . . . ask the
right questions so we can really listen . . . . “
You bet.

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Monday, December 05, 2005

Well I suppose it had to happen some day. David t at Harry’s Place has the story. Whilst it may be the remaining liberal do-gooder instinct in me that are the main course for my occasional concern over the vilification of Muslims, I think right-wing hawks should bear in mind that this matters a lot. Think about some of the arguments raised against the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Very prominent amongst them was the idea that these military actions were going to inflame Muslims to the extent that hordes of terrorists, including within our own country, were to be unleashed on the world. That is nonsence of course. But it’s an argument that has a lot of traction for the simple reason that the only British Muslim voices that are giving space in the msm are those of extremist nutters like Abu Hamza, or the often mealy mouthed apologists from self-declared community representations. The latter may say no to terrorism, but, well, there’s always a but. A but that often implies that the terrorists actions may be sort of wrong, but that their arguments were basically right; just a bit misguided the chaps. If this image of seething Muslim masses that are incapable of operating their own independent critical faculties to reach individual moral decisions, were true (which it isn’t), I can see that the best course of action in fighting terror would indeed be to lie low and hope you don’t get noticed.
But if you agree that the best way to fight terror is by confronting and facing down the enemy, with all means necessary, then it is obviously necessary to counter the myth of the mad and wild Muslim hordes. For if people believe in this myth they will be unwilling to shoulder the burdens of fighting a war that in their minds would unwinnable and best avoided. Of course by not acting against terror cells you actually let them grow as we saw with bin Laden’s gang in the 1990s.
So, by believing the racist mythology that there’s a jihadi lurking behind every Muslim neighbour, you actually increase the chances that it will be so.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Now I know that the headline alone will give many conservatives the creeps, but I think this is something that requires some thought. That liberals and the left have a somewhat formulaic anti-racism agenda is undeniable. That this agenda is fed by a Gramsci-inspired loathing of “normal” society, which sees a culturally hegemonic group using a discourse of oppression against “the Other” is something I don’t need to point out to anyone who doesn’t share this world view. Often the right, whether conservative or not, has just dismissed anti-racism politics as socialism-by-other-means. There is certainly a point to be made, that particularly the BBC has a tendency to only give treatment to racist incidents in which the perpetrators are native, white and nominally Christian. This has certainly been the view voiced by Laban, DumbJohn and others.
But that can’t be it. We can’t just say, because the left has so far monopolized this field of policy, the right shouldn’t touch it. This is even more indefensible given that the leftwing approach to combating racism is not going to work in the long-run. We are after all an increasingly multi-cultural society, so racism that doesn’t exclusively originate from white English men is going to be an increasing issue. Non-whites can be racist too, you know. And there is no reason to think that this would in any way be directed against whites either. The recent rioting between blacks and Asians in Birmingham is a good case in point. Conservatives can’t just pretend the problem doesn’t exist. It’s time we had something serious to say ourselves.
One thing that got me thinking was this post by Clive Davis that made it clear again, if it ever needed to be, that the left is right when it says that bigotry excludes. If you normally scoff at this sort of thing, think about how you feel at attempts to dilute and distablish any vestiges of traditional Britishness. Then accept that someone of minority background will feel the same when he is confronted by bigotry. What is always happening in these instances is that people are being excluded from the group they belong to. And this is where the Left gets it wrong.
So what group are people being excluded from here? The nation. And what’s the Left’s answer? Destroy the nation. Being polemical here, but there it is. Anti-racism should really be all about national unity, natural conservative territory. Conservatives in future should play more on this point. This is after all a big issue and a great potential strenght. It is something this country seems to long for from time to time. And I think it is fair to say that a lot of racism stems in fact from insecurities about national identity, so this policy approach is effectively coherent as well.
Time to flesh this out then.

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