Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Wesołych Swiąt Bożego Narodzenia

Sunday, December 23, 2007

"The choice of joining the Catholic church made by such an authoritative personality can only arouse joy and respect"

Oh well I suppose I must.
Congrats, Tone, old boy, now you've finally crossed the Tiber and made it to Rome Sweet Home. For good reason, your conversion has caused more than a few raised eyebrows.
(Actually, that's putting it mildly. Damian Thompson is disgusted, pointing out that in terms of his voting record, Blair has "the blood of innocents on his hands.")
You know he's right, Tone. Your record on abortion and unethical embryonic stem cell research is indefensible and has scandalised the faithful. And that's not all. On Holy Smoke, Radical Orthodox Catholic blogger, Onthesideoftheangels (OTSOTA sets the standard for doctrinal orthodoxy by which the rest of us are measured) has identified another huge problem with the conversion: the Iraq War. OTSOTA writes:
"Tony Blair actuated an illegal unjust war ... An unjust war is canonically judicial murder - a latae sententiae excommunicable offence - therefore it has to be acknowledged as sinful and repented - something he has not done publicly - in fact he's stated the exact opposite at every opportunity! The cardinal had a duty and responsibility to address this - and this is not something TB can whisper in a confesssional - it's a public sin and hundreds of thousands died - his silence declares assent; as he has not recanted his position in public. If he was received into the church he HAD to repent - so why is there this silence on the issue - and why has his Eminence allowed this scandal to arise?"
Labour MP, Peter Kilfoyle has expressed similar sentiments. "I'm trying to think of a parable about this, but I don't think there is one to match it," he said. "Put it this way: if he showed one ounce of contrition over Iraq, then he would be closer to the body of morality that is the Catholic church."
Now Tone, you know that I'm inclined to see the best in people. You know how much I love concord and harmony. And you know that I'll go out of my way to be as charitable as I can about your appallingly anti-life voting record. Maybe just maybe you voted the way you did because you felt that was the only way to quell the whisperings of the small but spiteful anti-Catholic tendency in our party.
But the thing is Tone, even as skilled an advocate as my good self would have trouble selling that argument. See, the thing is, you didn't get where you did in politics by being timorous, or afraid of taking risks and if necessary hitching your colours to the mast and facing down the opposition. Indeed it was those very qualities you clearly displayed when taking Britain into possibly the most unpopular war ever. You see, Tone, now you're one of us, you'll discover that it's all one big seamless garment; one moral or political action connects to another. And that's why even for the likes of us (who believe in miracles and things like scales falling from eyes) your conversion stretches credulity and we are less able to rejoice in it than we would like.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

After the good news, the bad

Hot on the heels of the good news, comes the bad. 'Twas ever thus I suppose.
"Millions of stay-at-home mothers will miss out on a full state pension after the Government quietly performed an about-turn on granting them equal rights to working women, it has been disclosed.
Seven out of 10 women are not entitled to a full pension because the time they took out of the workplace to care for their children means they have not paid enough national insurance contributions.
The Government indicated six months ago that it was prepared to allow women with families to make one-off payments to cover up to nine years' worth of missing contributions before retirement.
Last night, however, it emerged that this plan had been dropped by ministers - to the fury of campaigners who claim it penalises women who choose to put their family life before their careers."

If only people paid more attention to important matters such as pensions rather than irrelevant flummery like global warming then everyone, not least senior citizens, would be a lot better off. As it is, the government gets away with such disgracefully disorded priorities as ordering ministers to assess the "climate cost", whatever that might mean, of all decisions, rather than doing what belongs to them and ensuring that pensioners get to share in the economic growth they have helped to create.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nick Clegg very boring liberalish man

So anyway, this bore has narrowly won the Lib Dem leadership election (on the bright side at least he beat that Goddamn, muthaf***in', human-hating, enviro-mentalist, population-controlling freakshow, Chris Huhne). And in his "victory" speech he made the usual bland pronouncments about "ambition and change" and "we want to change politics and change Britain" and the "beginning of Britain's liberal future" and oh its too yawn-inducingly derivative for words. But what with him sprinkling the word "liberal" around like so many hundreds and thousands, this blog wondered just how liberal Cleggie actually is.
According to the Public Whip, Clegg

• voted moderately against the introduction of ID cards. OK, so a fairly basic test of liberalism this, and he gets a tick.
• voted very strongly for investigating the Iraq War. Another tick.
• voted very strongly against the anti-terrorism laws. Big strong tick.
But what's this?
• voted moderately for introducing the smoking ban. Now this measure may have been desirable on public health grounds but it can hardly be described as a liberal one. Clegg begins to look like much less of a dyed in the wool liberal than he makes out.
According to The Christian Institute
• he voted for the 'Lester Amendment' which deleted the incitement to religious hatred offence and instead modifies existing law on racial hatred. So that's another tick for liberalism.
• he voted against increasing the number of regional casinos from 1 to 8. Again, this may be desirable in itself but it can hardly be described as liberal.
• he abstained or was absent on the vote for the deeply illiberal Sexual Orientation Regulations which restrict religious liberty. So we can deduce nothing from that.

So what's the Dolphinarium verdict on Clegg's liberalism? Because we've been bored to stupefaction by him we're feeling in a generous mood, so we'll give him 5/10. He's a liberalish, pretty ordinary, doesn't-stand-out-from-the-crowd kind of guy but not a principled ideological liberal.

Lib Dem leader's intriguing family history

The Lib Dems may have chosen another boringly slick identikit politician in Nick Clegg as leader but at least he had some glamorous relations. Take his great, great aunt Moura Budberg, for instance. Known as the Russian Mata Hari, Budberg was suspected of having spied for both the Soviet Union and British intelligence. Rather appropriately, she had a "distinctly liberal attitude to sex" and was variously mistress to Maxim Gorky, H G Wells and "the man who nearly toppled the Bolshevik government", Robert Bruce Lockhart. She sounds like a colourful character.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Achtung! Hummer Verboten!

Stalinists shouldn't eat lobster, y'know. It's too good for them.

Good news at last

Following my last post, I should report today's good news. It's taken years of campaigning by the Pensions Action Group and Dr Ros Altmann and some well timed leaks in the press but at last, those workers who lost their pensions when their companies went bust are going to be beneficiaries of a £2.9bn rescue package, which will restore 90% of the value of their pensions packages. Its welcome but it should never have taken this amount of effort in the first place.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Oh Gord!

As the truism has it, the Tories have sex scandals, and Labour has financial scandals. My party has obediently played according to type in recent weeks. Today brings news of another, different kind of financial scandal. This time, Brown and Darling are apparently blocking a £725m rescue package for 125,000 workers who lost their pensions when their employers went bust or wound up their schemes. If this is true then it's morally indefensible. Recall that back in April it was revealed that Brown had ignored civil servants advice when he pushed ahead with scrapping dividend tax credits on pension funds in July 1997 - an act of colossal folly, which in no small way contributed to the pensions crisis. What is it with Brown and pensions? He seems to have a blind spot as far as they are concerned. Pensions must be thought of as deferred wages, a basic entitlement for any worker. As this blog commented back in April, the lost livelihoods of pensioners should not be treated as just another pawn in a political game.
Oh, the naked politicking behind the story's emergence is also worth commenting on. Cabinet split ... Peter Hain "is angry" ... Mike O'Brien is "mortified". Added to this, the Mail on Sunday has yet another unwelcome story for Brown (was ever a leader more cursed with ill fortune?)
reports that Brown reduced a top aide to tears over the on-off Autumn election fiasco and
• Friends of former party general secretary Peter Watt, who quit over the 'Donorgate' scandal, said he was privately critical of Mr Brown's "lack of leadership".
• Left-wing Labour MP John McDonnell said his party was "in a mess" and faced defeat by David Cameron as a result of the Prime Minister's "ineptitude".
• And insiders revealed party chiefs planned to offer Labour MP Ken Purchase a peerage so his Commons seat could be given to transport union boss Jack Dromey, husband of deputy party leader Harriet Harman.
Plus there's a delicious item about the boy David (Miliband, that is) trying to stop the teddy bear teacher's rescue.
There's no hiding it. Labour's high command is showing all the traditional signs of disarray; vicious infighting, scrambling for cover and leaking all over the place.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Life after Gord

The kaleidoscope has been shaken and the pieces are in flux. Yes indeed. We refer, of course to the fascinating scandal which has acquired the name "donorgate". For an idea of how the pieces will settle again, we turn to The Speccie's Fraser Nelson (who better, frankly?). According to Nelson, there is conspiracy in the parliamentary Labour Party's ranks once more; MPs are asking a question which would have seemed unthinkable only a few months ago - who will replace the hapless Gord?
Nelson has penned an excellent peice on a very interesting subject. A couple of sentences stood out for me:
"One can only imagine the dismay of Alan Johnson, Health Secretary, when he heard his name being touted for this ‘caretaker’ role last week. This means he is a dead man."
Upon reading those words, a beatific smile settled on this aquatic creature's visage. If only, I thought.