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The Geographical Guide To Sin 13 May 2007

Posted by David in Comment, World.

Michael Gove and his mother-in-law have introduced a new discussion game to Britain, as yet unnamed it seems. Apparently you have to match each of the 7 Deadly Sins to a country (I guess you could do it for anywhere really), and its very popular in Italy. So here goes;

Lust – France, need I say more
Anger – Iran, keen to destroy millions
Pride – Australia, where they fly their flag and can win stuff
Sloth – Spain, where everywhere closes at lunchtime
Envy – UK, where “keeping up with the Jones'” is endemic
Gluttony – USA, closely followed by the UK
Greed – Hong Kong, ultimate consumer city

No doubt it will be labelled politically incorrect, so enjoy your discussions while they last.

Brown Towns 13 May 2007

Posted by David in Comment, Environment, Labour.
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David Dimbleby is in the Sunday Telegraph with his new book, How We Built Britain. I find it rather alarming that he finds the Lloyd’s Building “a work of genius” as it’s well known as London’s most depressing building to work in (with huge numbers of depression cases), something he just about alludes to with talk of it having “no natural light” but narrowly avoids – as do most supporters of modernism, who can dismiss any evidence of their architectural cult’s never ending failings confidently and callously with unbelievable ease.

But Dimbleby’s biggest mistake is when he says “The modernist architects adopted a rational approach to the problem, studying the way people seemed to lead their lives and designing houses to match, rather than offering the kind of houses people thought they wanted.” Whilst he is right that “it was a mistake”, modernists never designed buildings for the way people actually lead their lives – rather they designed buildings for the way they felt they people should lead their lives. Modernism has a huge, left wing and totalitarian history to it; un-human in scale, unnatural in material, inflexible in design, they are “machines for living in” designed by planners who see people as cogs in the machine (a la Modern Times) rather than human beings. Which leads me to Gordon Brown…

Gordon Brown, stepping out from the shadows, has announced plans for five new carbon neutral towns. Now, after getting over the shock of the term “new towns” – so gloriously epitomised in Milton Keynes and Crawley – we have to ask, where? How can you just build five “new towns”? Apparently brown field sites will be used, but there aren’t that many. Once again, more countryside will be destroyed.

Gordon Brown And The Deliberately Placed Auto-Que 12 May 2007

Posted by David in Labour.

Brown Auto-Que

So Comrade Stalin Gordon Brown has thrown his hat into the ring to become next politbureau Labour leader and thus, Prime Minister. He declared himself not interested in style, a badly placed auto-que blocking half his face from the main TV camera seemingly proving this. The BBC gladly pointed this out, “this proves he is more about substance not style” they practically said. But there’s no way the camera man, stage set up team and Gordon Brown himself could have missed it- he put it there on purpose to try to prove his “substance not style” point.

Selective Quotes To Be Banned By Nanny State 28 April 2007

Posted by David in EU, Europe, European Union.

We’ve all seen it; “Superb”, “a masterpiece”, “the greatest thing since sliced bread”. The short quotes used to publicise films (and books) because there isn’t really any other way of describing a film or book quickly enough on a billboard, poster or cover. Being sane human beings (or at least not being total utter idiots), we take these quotes with a pinch of salt, they are after all adverts, and understand it’s obviously only part of a longer description.

But of course we are not to be trusted. The EU’s new Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, which comes into effect in Britain next April, bans promotions that are “likely to deceive the average consumer, even if the information is correct”.

Now I’m not for deceiving consumers, I am very pro-consumer rights, but consumers are not total idiots. Selective editing is wrong, but do we really need protecting from it? The new law will require test cases, so it is as yet unclear where it will end.

And come to think of it, how guilty is the EU of selective editing? I know loads of people who voted Yes to a Common Market in 1975 but weren’t told it would become the EU, in fact they were guaranteed that it wouldn’t. I have seen an EU printed “Citizen’s Copy” of the EU Constitution, abridged to 8 pages of very selective quotes. The EU would have been shut down years ago if it had to meet even basic consumer protection laws.

It has however got me thinking about all the quotes used as tag lines on blog headers. My own – “As discussed in Prime Minister’s Questions!” – is of course true but possibly rather misleading (it was only referenced). I will probably soon be able to add “And illegal under EU law” as well. But I wonder how selective others have been? Iain Dale’s Diary, as essential to my morning as Marmite, I hate Marmite and never touch the stuff? Nah.

Time For Civility, Please 25 April 2007

Posted by David in Comment, Conservatives.
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“Think of the messages parents give children from an early age. Be careful. Don’t do that. Do it this way. I’ll do that for you. That seems to me a fair summary of most of the messages that government gives the public. We are infantilising people – treating them like children, with the result that many of us are behaving like children. Policy is made for the minority who do wrong rather than the majority who do right.”

Few paragraphs could sum up the present day government than this one, from David Cameron’s speech on civility. Also worth reading is the sketch in The Times. But for all the ease of joking – and such a stance has much opportunity to lampoon – it’s true. As a society, civility has gone out the window. As he says, “We have come to assume, and to resign ourselves to the fact, that civility is on a permanent and inevitable downward slide. This is curious, since in other areas, we assume the opposite. We don’t assume that the economy will get worse.”

Look at the amount of swearing on television and in public, the downright rudeness and ignorance of some people, the fact every law and regulation is targeted for either the most utterly stupid or obsessively law breaking minority. Because one person may do something wrong we are all held back, like school children getting a class detention.

Some wrongly pin the lack of civility on Thatcherism – the creation of what they would call a “me, me, me” attitude – but this is wrong. The “me, me, me”attitude was just as present, even more so, in those out on strike (demanding X, Y and Z from taxpayers and using force to get it) than in those being successful in business. But this is not the cause of today’s problems.

The civility problems of today are not caused by economics, but by a complete attack on social values. An attack where the state takes over and induces a “help us” attitude rather than a “we can” attitude, where individual action to act is held back by over-regulation, and where the old values of decency, respect and civility are sneered and laughed at for being old fashioned, conservative and dull.

The ties that bind us – family, community, the nation, tradition – have been undermined and destroyed by people who detest what they stand for, failing to accept the strength we gain from such ties. “A love of tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril.” Without sense of belonging, many – particularly young males – go looking for other groups to identify with, many leading to gangs based on race, religion or other divisions. Without sense of belonging, people are less inclined to help each other.

On the less extreme scale the young do not learn good manners and how to behave, and the rest of us soon give them up. The erosion of values and community also leaves us unconfident and weak. But “It is lack of confidence, more than anything else, that kills a civilisation. We can destroy ourselves by cynicism and disillusion, just as effectively as by bombs“.

How we rebuild civility, I really do not know, it is an organic and natural thing. We can however, at least, stop undermining and attacking it.

Bring Back Moira 25 April 2007

Posted by David in BBC.

The BBC has sacked Moira Stuart! How dare they! Moira Stuart is a truly fantastic newsreader who has given long and loyal service to the BBC, reading the news in a dignified and eloquent manner so far removed from some presenting these days.

The BBC says “the traditional newsreader role has all but died out”, but this is a bad thing. Moira, who I’m surprised has never been given an honour of some kind (like Sir Trevor McDonald), has a lovely voice and polite manner – which is a rare thing on TV. Her episode of ancestry programme Who Do You Think You Are? was one of the best. I hope they give her some similar presenting role elsewhere on the BBC.

Saint George’s Day – 23rd April 23 April 2007

Posted by David in Comment.
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Today is Saint George’s Day, a celebration in England since 1222. Dan Hannan thinks Saint George’s Day is ideal for celebrating Shakespeare, annoying lefty songwriter and Z list celebrity Billy Bragg is talking about patriotism in the Telegraph, and even the BBC is pondering how to celebrate Saint George’s Day. There is of course the annual “it’s time for a new patron Saint” grumble.

To me, Saint George’s Day is a day to celebrate the best of everything English. Things such as the countryside, history and traditions. There should not be too many flags as we’re an understated country [A pride that dares and heeds not praise/A stern and silent pride] – but a nice flagpole looks good as long as it’s not overdone (like during the football).

I disagree slightly with Dan Hannan, who states that Shakespeare is the greatest ever Englishman. That honour of course goes to the greatest ever Briton, Winston Churchill, who summed up our country’s honour and values more than any other in both text and speech.

Anyway, whichever you prefer, have a happy Saint George’s Day.

Saint George’s Day 22 April 2007

Posted by David in Comment.
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Once again the 23rd of April, Saint George’s Day, has arrived amid the usual grumblings from left wing fanatics who find anything English or British to be somehow racist. This years main culprit, the far left religious solialist “think-tank” Ekklesia, who have suggested that the English should celebrate their role as “global citizens” and not as “narrow nationalists” on the patron saint’s day.

The BBC message board is full of pro-Saint George comments, although the one they decided to highlight on the main articlewas Andy Belkin from Norwich who wrote “why do we need to celebrate dimwitted pursuits such as patriotism?” They make it look like it is typical of responses, when in fact Mr Belkin is in a very small minority.

I support making Saint George’s Day a national holiday in England, I think it is a great tradition (celebrated since 1222) and chance to celebrate the positive things our country has achieved and stands for. This would be far better than May Day, which was only introduced by left wingers in 1978 so they could listen to the Soviet military parade through Moscow on the radio and is now just used by crazy anti-capitalist riot mobs as an excuse. Most other bank holidays were selected due to cricket.

Saint David’s Day should of course be a holiday in Wales, and Saint Andrew’s Day a holiday in Scotland. Alternatively we could replace three existing bank holidays instead of just the one, and have all three of the patron saints days as Bank Holidays across all of Britain instead of in just the one constituent nation. There should also be a “British” holiday, replacing another bank holiday that represents nothing. My suggestions being Union Day (1st May), Churchill’s Birthday (30th November), Trafalgar Day (21st October) or VE Day (8th May).

I think this would be far better than the largely pointless, meaningless dates now. What, for instance, is special about “the last Monday in October”, an ideal candidate for shifting to Trafalgar Day, or “the first Monday in June”?

The Original Green Tory? 22 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Environment.
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As I frequently tell people, environmental conservation and conservatism have a long history together. Vote Blue, Go Green, shouldn’t be considered alien – we have and always have been the party of the countryside and real environment. After all, which Conservative gave the following speech?

For generations, we have assumed that the efforts of mankind would leave the fundamental equilibrium of the world’s systems and atmosphere stable. But it is possible that with all these enormous changes (population, agricultural, use of fossil fuels) concentrated into such a short period of time, we have unwittingly begun a massive experiment with the system of this planet itself. Recently three changes in atmospheric chemistry have become familiar subjects of concern. The first is the increase in the greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, and chlorofluorocarbons—which has led some to fear that we are creating a global heat trap which could lead to climatic instability. We are told that a warming effect of 1°C per decade would greatly exceed the capacity of our natural habitat to cope. Such warming could cause accelerated melting of glacial ice and a consequent increase in the sea level of several feet over the next century. This was brought home to me at the Commonwealth Conference in Vancouver last year when the President of the Maldive Islands reminded us that the highest part of the Maldives is only six feet above sea level. The population is 177,000. It is noteworthy that the five warmest years in a century of records have all been in the 1980s—though we may not have seen much evidence in Britain! The Government espouses the concept of sustainable economic development. Stable prosperity can be achieved throughout the world provided the environment is nurtured and safeguarded. Protecting this balance of nature is therefore one of the great challenges of the late Twentieth Century.

Find out here. The author later expressed regret for the negative things environmentalism has been used to promote, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be used to promote good things.

In Defence Of The Union 19 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Scotland, Scottish politics, SNP.

Today David Cameron is making a speech in defence of the union. As Cameron pointed out in an article for the Telegraph, the defence of the Union must rely not just on nightmares of independence and cold mental logic, as Labour is doing as we speak in Scotland, but also on our hearts and spirits. For nearly 300 years, the United Kingdom has been a remarkable success. Britain, despite its wrongs and faults, has been on balance a force for good in the World beyond the contemplation of nations far larger. From the Common Law through to the English language, concepts of liberty to engineering wonders, this small island has a lot to be proud of.

Cameron will highlight the logical reasons – such as shared prosperity and global weight – but also the British Broadcasting Corporation, founded by a Scotsman and truly nationwide, and the National Health System, founded by a Welshman. He could add the Bank of England, founded by Scottish born banker William Paterson, Sherlock Holmes, wrote by Scottish born Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the steam engine, invented by Scottish born James Watt,the first television, created by Scottish born John Logie Baird, and the free market economist, Adam Smith.

Not to mention the thousands who have died for Britain, defending our liberty and values, and the vast majority of people who have ancestry from all over this island. We are not just three nations – Wales, Scotland and England – but one nation as well, Great Britain. As James I said, “Hath not God first united these nations, in language and religion and similitude of manners? Hath he not made us one island, compassed by one sea?”

Update: For the blog reader Dave On Fire and anyone else interested, “Niall Ferguson – Benefits Of Anglobalisation“, a short working paper. On the topic of things Scottish and British, Niall Ferguson was born in Glasgow and studied at Oxford.