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Entries by Bishop Hill (6700)


The Eighty-Five Theses

As your government totters towards its end, Prime Minister, it is time to begin an assessment of the damage you have done to the country. I set down here some of your least glorious acheivements. There is little with which to balance them, on the credit side of the ledger.

  1. Your government, Prime Minister, has continuously and systematically attacked the civil liberties for which generations of Britons have fought.

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Hunting ASBOs

Via The Englishman, an article in the Telegraph which reports that the League Against Cruel Sports are going to try to use ASBOs against foxhunts.

Asbos could be served for trespassing, parking 4x4 vehicles in country lanes and "aggressive behaviour" by huntsmen and hounds against people and pets, said the league which has managed only one successful private prosecution since the Act came into force in February 2005.

This is of course what civil libertarians have always said was the major problem with ASBOs. They require so little by way of proof that they become a route to oppress those who can't be convicted of anything, either because of a lack of evidence or because they haven't actually done anything wrong. Either way, the Government doesn't care, it just wants them dealt with and a headline secured.

Fortunately their chances of success seem slim:

But Andrew Keogh, a Manchester solicitor who edited Asbo Law Reports, said: "The easiest [complaint] to go for would be dogs barking or being unruly. But I view the chances of success as very slim indeed."

This is good news. It wouldn't surprise me though to see the hunts try the same approach on the League Against Cruel Sports, whose approach to "peaceful" protest seems be exactly the kind of behaviour that ASBOs were created to deal with.  This would obviously be immensely cheering in terms of rubbing their noses in it, but it wouldn't be much of a victory for liberal England.


A thought

If Lord Levy is found guilty, presumably he will be stripped of his peerage, like Jeffrey Archer was?


Control of public sector spending

Chris Dillow wonders if Gordon Brown is actually in control of public sector spending, the unwritten suggestion being that he isn't.

In order for an organisation to be in control of spending, it has to have a time phased budget, and regular reports of its performance against budget. For a group of organisations like the government the results of the individual units have to be consolidated to give an overall picture of the group performance.

As far as I know, most public sector organistions are not able to produce accurate management accounts within a reasonable time after the period end. The government is certainly not able to produce consolidated accounts at any time, let alone monthly. Huge corrections at the year end are the norm, rather than the exception.

How then can it even be suggested that the government is in control of its spending? 


Welfare reform. Again.

See this announcement of John Hutton's that he's going to deal with the long-term unemployed? Unless I'm very much mistaken, when they were first elected in 1997, NuLab slapped a windfall tax on the privatised utilities to fund a "sustained assault on structural unemployment" or some such nonsense. So presumably this announcement is a tacit admission that either they spent the money on something else or that they wasted it all.

I wonder which it could be? 


After the deluge

Well, the flood waters were gone by the morning. It was amazing that, where the river had rushed along the main road last night, there was now no sign that anything had happened at all. We seem to have made it to the BBC website. Rather impressively they have managed to get the identification of the river wrong - it was the Back Burn rather than the River Queich which flooded the town centre. The Quiech skirts the edge of the town half a mile away.

Questions are already being asked about why the new flood defences failed. The risk to the town centre comes from the Back Burn passing through a culvert under the Town Hall and the main road. If the volume of water is too high it backs up until it the river bursts its banks just upstream of the culvert.

The new flood defences seem to have involved clearing the river bed of debris and building up the retaining walls in this critical area above the culvert. Now, I'm no expert, but all this seems to do is to increase the flow of water towards the choke point, but seeking to contain it. But isn't building up the walls rather futile in the face of a major flood? Surely even the tallest wall can't hope to contain this volume of water? Shouldn't a proper flood defence scheme aim to move the choke point much further upstream to somewhere where excess water can be released away from civilisation? 

Who decided on this particular design of flood defence? Are they qualified? How much were they paid? We need to know. 


Rain and rain and rain

It's been a terrible month for rain here, and its been tipping it down pretty much non-stop for the last three days.

Tonight the river through the village lost the plot and burst its banks, making a nonsense of the new flood defence works which were completed just a few weeks ago. Having said that, I don't think any flood defence works would have stood up to the battering ours have received in recent days.

There are quite a few houses completely flooded, and several businesses are going to be hard hit, not least of which is the post office - one which can ill afford the expense. Fortunately, we're well above the river.

This was the view along the main road an hour ago. It's still raining and its forecast to keep going for another twenty four hours or so.











The photo is not the clearest, but everything you can see between the camera and the man in high-vis clothing is water. 

And before anyone mentions global warming, the old-timers are saying it's nearly as bad as the one in 1991.


New on the blogroll

Out From Under - apparently a Liberal Democrat who is in the wrong party.

Liberal Polemic - who hasn't worked it out yet.

Both well worth visiting. 


Instruments of attainder

An Act of Attainder is an act of parliament passed against a particular person or sometimes a group of people. Until their use died out in the late eighteenth century they were a means by which the King could convict anyone he liked without needing to persuade a jury of his case. The last recorded Act of Attainder was passed against the Irish rebel Lord Fitzgerald in 1798.

Until now.

Christopher Booker recounts the truly shocking story of Bowland Dairies, a small Lancashire cheesemaker which was on the receiving end of a short visit from EU inspectors. The inspectors claimed that the milk did not meet EU rules on antibiotic residues, and, despite a Food Standards Agency visit confirming that this was incorrect, they went on to confirm a ban on the company's products. Even when they were defeated in the European courts, the Commission went ahead an banned the company from trading. They went on to threaten the UK with a full audit of every dairy in the country and a fine for not protecting consumers.

If anything it then gets worse

Despite the FSA's solid support of Bowland and its insistence that no rules had been broken, the Department of Health bowed to the commission's diktat. On October 16 it rushed through a statutory instrument, the Curd Cheese (Restriction on Placing on the Market) Regulations 2006, to take immediate effect. Section 3 read "No person shall place on the market any curd cheese manufactured by Bowland Dairy Products Limited".

Never before, it is believed, has a statutory instrument been issued in Britain directed at closing down a single named company (breaching the ancient principle of British law that "the law must be blind", i.e. it must be general in application, not directed at any specific individual or body).

This is therefore the first Act of Attainder passed in this country since Lord Fitzgerald in 1798. If anything it's worse than that - it's a statutory instrument rather than an act of Parliament, so it doesn't even carry the moral authority of having passed a vote in both houses. Essentially the executive have taken upon themselves the power to outlaw someone without resort to the courts, without even the backing of Parliament. Tony Blair has only to point his finger at you and you are outlawed.

That's tyranny isn't it? 



Playing the race card

Bit of a to-do over at Councillor Bob Piper's. The good councillor has gone and posted a picture of David Cameron photoshopped to look like something out of the Black & White Minstrel show. Tory Diary and Prague Tory are outraged and are letting their feelings be known.

sortitrr.jpgNow let's not kid ourselves. A Conservative couldn't do anything like this and get away with it. They would be hounded out of office, with every left-wing blog in the country snapping at their heels like a bunch of rabid mongrels. But let's also not kid ourselves that Bob Piper is some sort of racist. Foul-mouthed and offensive, yes, but it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that this was targeted at blacks. 

Mind you if I was black, I wouldn't be desperately impressed at being reminded that my ancestors had been looked down on in this way, and I might well be tempted to make a complaint to someone. There are some episodes of history which it would be better to consign to history. How are the scars of the past ever going to be healed if the left keeps trying to open them again for their grubby little political ends?

It's instructive to compare Bob Piper's pictures to a very similar photo of Joe Libermann which was put out by Jane Hamsher, a supporter of Ned Lamont, earlier in the year.

liebermanhamsher.jpgAs Outside the Beltway said at the time:

As political satire, it’s incredibly risky, period. But to use it in the context of a blog post that has nothing to do with [...] race relations in general is just inexplicable.

Hamsher later issued an apology (of sorts) and withdrew the picture. The Lamont campaign made strenuous efforts to distance themselves from her. I would imagine that Bob Piper would be best advised to do the same thing before the Labour party decides to distance itself from him.

 Even stranger though,  was this picture of Michael Steele, the Republican candidate for Maryland senator, also done out in blackface and also the production of a left-wing blog. Strange because, if it's not obvious from the photo, Michael Steele is black anyway.


Why is it that left-wing commentators feel free to use this kind of photo which must be offensive to millions of black people? What is it they hope to acheive? To me it marks them out as crude, unthinking people. Who would want to vote for people with minds so corrupt? They must be pretty desperate to let the mask slip like this. 

Labour has accused the Conservatives of playing the race card whenever they have raised the subjects of immigration and multiculturalism. We should be clear that discussing immigration and multiculturalism is not playing the race card. This is.


Millions may refuse to have an ID card

The Register reports on a YouGov survey on how people are feeling about the prospect of having to carry an ID card. The results are very encouraging for those of us who are trying to get the message out that it is not acceptable to a free society. Fully 8% of the respondents questions indicated that they would refuse to sign up for the database even if this meant they were fined. If this figure was extrapolated to the whole of the over 16 population, this would mean 4.8 million refuseniks.

The ID cards issue is shaping up very nicely to be Labour's poll tax. Keep spreading the word. 


What's going on at the UNDP?

Here's an interesting story I chanced across while in search of something else. It's from a site called Inner City Press who are snooping around the UN Development Program.

The story (in fact it's a series of stories) allege that:

  • Head of the UNDP Kemal Devis fired Brian Gleeson, an associate of UN deputy Director General Mark Malloch Brown, but then offered  an artificially created post in order to hush things up. Mr Gleeson may have been threatening to spill the beans on other improprieties.
  • Mark Malloch Brown hired an author to pen a book about the UNDP which doubled as a hagiography of Mr Malloch Brown. The book cost $567,000.
  • Jeffrey Sachs the economist who is famously paid only $1 to advise the UN on its development goals was secretly taking a salary of $75,000 from another part of the UN.
  • Mark Malloch Brown appointed one of his supporters to the post of UNDP Communications director outwith normal recruitment procedures, by dint of getting the same Brian Gleeson to rewrite the rule book.

 Apparently some people see the UN as the conscience of the world, or as the basis of a future world government. Some people are absolutely barking mad.



Via Laban Tall, comes this Daily Mail article which tells us that the government is buying access to the Rightmove homes database from its American owners. At a stroke this gives them access to floorplans and details of property improvements for the majority of houses sold in the last ten years. This of course gives them information which will enable them to "reassess" (ie increase) council tax. Tax implications aside, the real objection is obviously that it's big brother writ large.

The good news is that Rightmove is selling access to the database, rather than the database itself. This means that practical steps can be taken to put pressure on Rightmove.

So get the word out. Don't use any estate agent that is signed up to Rightmove. There's a handy search facility on their website so you know who to avoid.

Of course, this doesn't stop the government from using the information it has access to already. All we can do there is kick the buggers out of power. I propose that polite society starts shunning Labour supporters too. If you support Labour, you support big brother. Your choice. Deal with the consequences.




Cameron outflanked on the right

It's happened. There are now parts of the Liberal Democrats which are further to the right than David Cameron: Cicero is lambasting the boy king for his support of relative poverty, describing it as capitulation rather than triangulation.

This country does not need more of the same- it needs a radical deregulation and much clearer limits to the power of the state.

Yes indeed. We now have three big-government parties none of which seem to have any concept of how to deal with the problems the country is facing.


Technorati v Blogpulse

I've just checked how the new site is doing at Technorati & Blogpulse. It's a bit odd. Technorati has picked up links from Devil's Kitchen. Blogpulse has picked up links from the Adam Smith Institute.

Why don't these links appear in both?