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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.

Davids, Davids, Everywhere 17 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives.
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It seems that if you don’t know what someone’s called, it’s a good bet to call them David, especially if they’re Tories. Does being called David make you more likely to be a Tory, unless you’re the son of communist academic and surname’s Milliband? I’m a David. The party leader is a David. The Shadow Home Secretary is a David, almost twice (Davis is almost there). He has a near namesake, David Davies MP, which really confuses the tabloids (especially as Davies talks often about law and order issues). It turns out that in total there are 17 David Conservative MP’s, if my count is correct. And now Nobel Prize winning David Trimble has joined the Conservative David benches, giving a good weight to the party in general but particularly its efforts in Northern Ireland. It’s not often Nobel Prize winners join.

Media Intrusion Splut William And Kate, Not “Class” 17 April 2007

Posted by David in BBC, Comment, Media, Royals.
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I really cannot believe the media. It was painfully obvious to everyone that their constant barrage of intrusion caused the break up of Prince William and Kate Middleton, who was forced to live in the glare of a media which photographed and published her every move – from going shopping to sitting on a bus – while they speculated about possible engagement (Woolworths even ordered the commemorative plates to sell). Talk about external pressure on a relationship. Everything she did, and everything her family did (including her Mother chewing gum), was being analysed and judged for suitability as future British Queen by a media that views everything but itself as irredeemably flawed. In the end, poor old Kate Middleton seemed to be dating the press more than she was Prince William.

Meanwhile, every night out Prince William had with his new Army friends was shown as him neglecting Kate (who was probably watching Friends or doing her hair anyway). God knows what they’d have said if Kate had been photographed out with her friends instead of William…

When the situation started to scarily resemble that of a young Diana – Kate being badgered down the road Starbucks coffee in hand by dozens of happy snapping paparazzi – the end was near. When the media even began to suggest it was very much like it had been with Diana, there was really no escape from it.

As was initially suggested, William and Kate were I firmly believe rightfully told by both their families they had to decide; marry and commit to the life (and get the security protection), or flee it. The painful balancing act couldn’t go on, it just wasn’t fair on either of them (especially Kate). By ending it, they have let Kate free. She has escaped from a terrible life time sentence, at least for now (no one has said they’d never get back together in a few years, older and ready to settle down).

But what I really cannot believe is that, clearly to blame, the media have gone looking for another cause of the split. And what’s the best they can do? Class. Pathetic!

The story that the Queen disapproved of Kate’s Mother Carole Middleton – because she used the word “toilet” instead of “loo” and “pardon” instead of “what” – is frankly outrageous. The Queen would firstly never express disapproval of anyone, she is too graceful and discreet to do any such thing. She has met some of the most horrible people in the World – such as “Lixard of Oz” Paul Keating (who as Australian PM told her he wanted to abolish her and grabbed her under his arm in a public meeting) – and remained graceful and polite. She has read Queen’s speeches in the 50s, 60s and 70s resembling the Communist Manifesto and not shown emotion. She even opened the Edinburgh Hollyrood Parliament without laughing. So I doubt she cared less about having someone chew gum or use the word “toilet”.

And secondly, the Queen mixes and has always mixed with a very wide variety of people across the entire Commonwealth, and has more enjoyment with what these (which Royal observers would see as being in a lower class) than she does with Royal observers like Nicholas Witchall, who Prince Charles described as awful. The Queen particularly likes people with horses, and there are few interests with a more mixed socially bunch of people than the horse World. If anyone it’s the Royal observers who disliked the Middleton’s “class”, not the Queen.

The Telegraph is strangely very interested in the “class story”, which I find odd for them. According to their Which Class Are You?survey I “probably have a coat of arms” (I have a coat and two arms, does that count?) and am just 50 points short of being Duke of Devonshire (because I don’t have any children to send to school, and have a PlayStation and not a dressing up box – a dressing up box is a bit odd for a Duke isn’t it?).

Scottish Conservatives On The Roll 16 April 2007

Posted by David in Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Scotland, Scottish politics, SNP, UKIP.
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Suddenly, and unexpectantly, the Scottish Conservatives are on the roll. Their campaign so far has been nothing short of a miracle. Anabelle Goldie, who for ages seemed boring and dull, turns out to be a quad bike riding, ten pin bowling, former naughty school girl who ouzes charisma, trouncing the other party leaders in debates and interviews. The pledge not to go into coalition has proved highly popular, and the lib dem yellow paint-chart – emphasising a Lib Dem vote is a vote for Labour government – is very innovative (and true).

But the SNP are still far ahead, with Labour making the error of portraying their former Scottish deputy general secretary as an ordinary member of the public. It’s almost as if certain elements in Labour want them to lose, perhaps to derail Brown? They also continue to rely only on negative campaigning and scares of life in an independent Scotland that is inevitable if the SNP win, leaving voters feeling insulted. If they have such low opinion of Scotland’s prospects, they’re hardly the inspired optimists needed, but rather failed has beens believing in an inescapable dependency culture on a national scale.

The SNP, of course, aren’t what’s needed either. They certainly aren’t inspired or optimistic, basing their figures on magic growth, EU cash now heading East and fast depleting North Sea Oil (“It’s Scotland’s oil” they may say, but most of it’s nearer the Shetland Islands actually, time for SINP?). Their campaign is merely a glossy, GQ style sales pitch of Alex Salmond. Slogan: “It’s Time”. Time for what? As yet, we don’t know.

And bubbling under, as with all elections using proportional systems, is a plethora of small parties. There’s UKIP, the “Stop the Growth” Greens, the Scottish Socialists, and the Labour supporting Lib Dems.

So who’ll win? Who knows.