Tuesday, June 22, 2004

NOTE TO READERS

Its exactly a year since we moved from this blog over to our Movable Type/Bloghouse site and to celebrate that anniversary... the blog has disappeared and we have lost all our material.

So apologies to those of you who were trying to reach us for the past day or two on the old site. We are still trying to work out exactly what has happened but it appears it is no coincidence that the disappearance happened exactly a year on. Bloghouse, who hosted the site, seem to have let their domain registration run out and all their sites have gone belly-up. Can the situation be retrieved? I have no idea at this stage but it doesn't look good. I'm sure there is a lesson here for bloggers........

So, what to do? Well until the situation is resolved we will have to blog here at our old home. Like an old house its rather dusty but the basics still work - we can post and it seems you can comment. However the links on the side are a year old and so several of them will be out of date and we will get round to fixing those sometime in the future if we have to stay here for a while.

If we can't get the bloghouse site up and running again we will have to make a decision about creating a new site. This has happened at the worst possible moment given some of the personal/work commitments myself and other regular bloggers have and so we have to take the easiest option which is this blog.

Don't pass this on to people yet as we are going to give Bloghouse some time to try and sort things out before we ask people to change their links.

Once again our apologies to regular readers and we hope normal service will be resumed soon. Somewhere...



posted by BA on 3:47 AM link

Friday, June 20, 2003

SIGN THE PETITION!

You know it makes sense.

posted by BA on 6:16 AM link
DON'T SAY YOU WEREN'T WARNED

The Jackboot of puritanism has reached our shores.

posted by BA on 6:11 AM link
GIVING THEM WHAT THEY WANT

For all the warts on British television, a year in America taught me just how lucky we are to have not just the BBC but also a range of diversely funded channels with different layers of public service ambitions and obligations. The lesson from America is that, if news and public affairs are left purely to the market, it will most likely give the government what it wants." Writes the BBC's John Willis in the Guardian.

Meanwhile Al Gore wants to do something about it.

Harry's Place - Real Blogging, Fair and Balanced - we blog, you decide.

posted by BA on 3:21 AM link
AMERICAN SOILDERS SPEAK OUT

A series of interviews with GI's in the Evening Standard which is extremely disturbing on a number of levels:

"We're more angry at the generals who are making these decisions and who never hit the ground, and who don't get shot at or have to look at the bloody bodies and the burnt-out bodies, and the dead babies and all that kinda stuff." Sgt Quinones added: "Most of these soldiers are in their early twenties and late teens. They've seen, in less than a month, more than any man should see in a whole lifetime. It's time for us to go home."

posted by BA on 3:12 AM link

Thursday, June 19, 2003

WHAT THE WORLD THINKS OF AMERICA

I have been browsing some of the weblog reaction to the BBC programme on attitudes to the USA the other day and the results of their poll and once again the blogosphere manages to create a world of its own.

I can't be bothered linking to all the sites but they are the usual suspects and you can get a taste from Jeff Jarvis whose considered view is that "The BBC is anti-American in all sense of the word, not only because it is hostile to us but also because it is anti-matter to our matter; it is the great snot factory."

So what is so upsetting about the BBC (along with a dozen other broadcasters) asking people what they think of the USA?

The poll asks a whole range of question and gets roughly the kind of results you might expect: People like the USA a lot more then they like George Bush, there is broad support for the fight against terrorism but widespread opposition to the US attitude to global warming, we like American movies and music more than American food etc etc.

As well as the tv programme, the debate and the poll, the BBC also gave up some space on its website for a collection of emailed views. As always with these random opinions there is mixture of intelligent comment and utter stupidity (rather like weblogs perhaps?).

All of this is proof of some BBC bias against America. Yet all the BBC did of course was provide the questions - not the answers.

The reaction of American bloggers to all of this gives me an answer that is far more worrying than the predictably silly and ill-informed comments of anti-Americans:

It is a waste of time asking the world what they think about the USA if Americans really don't want to know.

I want to see America be successful in the war against terror, I want to see them intervene in humanitarian crisis and I want to see them play an important role in helping solve the many problems of the world. But to do that successfully as well as being strong and active, Americans needs to listen to what people think about their government and their approach - even when they disagree.

After all freedom of speech means little if no-one is listening.









posted by BA on 2:59 PM link
IRANIAN STUDENTS DESERVE OUR SUPPORT
Johann Hari appeals for greater support for the Iranian students and rightly criticises those on the left who are reluctant to back the democrats for fear of being on the same side as George Bush.

In response Chris Bertram thinks many western leftists may well be more interested in George Bush but doubts they are actually hostile to the Iranian democracy movement. I think he is right and this at least is an improvement on other recent liberation movements that the anti-American elements on the left have opposed. Chris also makes some other good points about how the left got the 1979 Iranian revolution so badly wrong.

And now a question? There are a lot of sites linking to Iranian weblogs and so on which is great for us to get insight into the struggle. But what about practical solidarity? Is there anything set up where we can give serious help to these people? I'd rather give my money to help Iranian democrats than bloggers on the scrounge wouldn't you? Any ideas?

Oh and here is a beautiful poem from Iranian Cyrus Mahan entitled A New Flag is Declared Read the brief bio at the bottom.

(Thanks Magnus)





posted by BA on 3:27 AM link

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

HELP WANTED!
It seems likely that I will be shortly introducing a talented political cartoonist to the blog, something which I suspect would be a first, certainly for a British weblog. Now the problem is that I have this talented chap offering his services but I have no way to post images here. I think I need to leave blogspot and move this site over to it's own server.

I will need nice, easy-to-use software that I can access anywhere in order to post to the blog. I have noticed a lot of people going over to Movable Type, but to be honest nearly all the sites now look very similar to each other which I think is a bit dull. I am sure there is a way of personalising MT but I guess you need to know quite a bit about template design which I don't. Just on the off chance that any regular reader happens to be a techy - could anyone offer a suggestion, or even better give me a hand? Drop me an email (the addy is on the left) if you think you can help.



posted by BA on 3:58 PM link
WE WILL NOT COMPLY!

Not content with banning smoking and criminalising beer drinking for 20-year-olds, American bureaucrats now want to ban lap dancing.

Do we want a society where we're so controlled that we cannot do anything at all? Do we want a society where people can't go out and enjoy themselves?," said Roger Diamond, a lawyer representing about 25 adult clubs in Los Angeles.

What he said.

Is this some policy the Americans picked up from their old pals in the Taliban?

Guys, if things carry on like this you might want to consider moving to the European Union where drinking, smoking and dancing, even on laps, is still allowed.



posted by BA on 10:09 AM link
IF ONLY ....
Tony Blair must be really wishing he was president of the USA now - according to a new poll one third of Americans think we actually have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

posted by BA on 7:47 AM link
THE JACKBOOT STUFF
Lot of trafffic looking for the material about the Jackbooted Eurocrats - you can go straight to the Eurosteria story here.

Or you can scroll down and join in the debate about libertarianism if you want.!

(Oh yes and well done Nick)

posted by BA on 7:13 AM link
LIBERTARIAN SOCIALISM?
As I suspected Samizdata, in the shape of David Carr, are none too happy at Paul Anderson describing his politics as 'democratic socialism with a libertarian punch'.

Carr writes: May I humbly suggest a clearer alternative to that meaningless bit of cant? How about:Vegetarian cooking with just a hint of roast beef?

Mr.Anderson has clearly not yet been advised that he can either be a socialist OR he can be a libertarian but he cannot possibly be both.


Paul can define what his 'libertarian punch' is himself but I think what we are seeing here is an attempt by right-wing libertarians to claim the term purely for their ultra-capitalist utopian vision of the future. Like all evangelical ideologues, right-wing libertarians are motivated by a strong desire to present themselves as the one true way. But the idea that the phrase libertarian is their property alone is just wishful thinking and not born out by the history of the term.

Many anarchists would desribe themselves as libertarians, sharing the Samizdata crowd's disdain for organised government. On the Marxist left there are the anarcho-communists and council-communists, who describe themselves as libertarians. There have long been people who use the term 'Libertarian Marxist' or 'Libertarian Socialist'. (see this list of random links)

The Samizdata people will of course explain at length how these ideological visions are incompatible with their version of libertarianism - and apart from a hostility to the state that protects our liberty, freedom and rights, they are right. They have little in common. But that still doesn’t mean there is one accepted definition of libertarianism.

David Carr's argument really is only about claiming the term not about whether socialists really pretend to have anything in common with turbo-Thatcherites - which they obviously don't.

An area in which David and Perry are right is that the phrase libertarian has something of a buzz about it at the moment, particularly in the world of weblogs. In the real world of course you are as likely to meet a right-wing libertarian purist as you are to bump into a Maoist (a political tendency they have quite a few things in common with).

Personally I would never use the term libertarian to describe my politics because even if I felt the needed to add a buzzword to my political outlook (which I don’t) I wouldn't choose one that has become associated with the militant minority on the far right of Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party.

Nor does the ultra-left version of libertarianism, rooted as it is in anarchist opposition to the main parties of the labour movement in Europe, appeal much to me either. Let them both fight over the term - such battles over the rights to a political label are indicative of the fringe nature of the activists at hand here.

But perhaps what annoys the right-wing libertarians about people borrowing their title is that their ideas do have a use for the rest of us. Anyone serious about politics needs to constantly question how far the state should be involved in our lives. Also there are many people who would subscribe to social libertarianism (or lifestyle freedom) while not accepting the economic ideas of the libertarians. In contrast there are plenty of conservatives, like Margaret Thatcher, who reject lifestyle libertarianism but are quite attracted to radically de-regulated capitalism.

So people borrow bits they like from the libertarian outlook while not buying into the whole package as offered by the people at Samizdata. That process happens to all radical ideologies.

It is worth remembering when you come across the hardcore libertarian right in the 'blogosphere' that these people are a tiny extremist faction - interesting chaps as they might be.

I say good luck to them - if Samizdata's brand of fundamentalist anarcho-capitalism gains ground on the right, maybe in the Conservative Party, it can only benefit the democratic left. The British people have always shown disdain for zealots and dogmatists of any colour.




posted by BA on 3:47 AM link

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

MORE IRAN LINKS
For those still confused with as to why foreign intervention is not welcomed, needed or appropriate in Iranian people's struggle for freedom, Goudarz Eghtedari offers an insightful take in his op-ed piece published today in the Oregonian. It is re-published on the website Eyeranian - another useful resource.

Also here is an interesting weblog from Mojtaba Baakhtari, an Iranian doctor living in London.

Iran has a rich political history, especially on the left and despite the repression of the mullahs and before them the US-backed Shah regime, many organisations have survived. Broad Left has an extensive collection of links to communist, socialist and radical left parties of varying shades of red.

Other political resources can be found here. As for the people on the streets, the Student Movement Co-ordination Committee has their own website now - pay them a visit.





posted by BA on 5:37 PM link
GAUCHE

Tribune columnist Paul Anderson has a weblog presence entitled (provacatively for some) 'Gauche' and subtitled (annoyingly for some) democratic socialism with a libertarian punch.

Being an independent-minded socialist he doesn't follow Tribune's anti-war line or the tendency of many on the radical left to turn a blind eye to the Leninist control of the Stop the War Coalition:

Once the fighting kicked off, the protests collapsed. Part of the reason, no doubt, was that at least some onetime anti-war types decided that they had to support "our boys". But hunch tells me that rather more former-protesters decided that, once push came to shove, the choice between American imperialism kicking Saddam's ass and his vicious regime surviving was what the Yanks call a no-brainer. In other words, we didn't want it to come to this, but now it has. Or to put it yet another way, in Leninist-speak: Death to Saddam, long live democratic Iraq!



posted by BA on 4:06 PM link
CHAOS IN IRAQ
The American-led reconstruction effort in Iraq is "in chaos" and suffering from "a complete absence of strategic direction", a very senior British official in Baghdad has told The Daily Telegraph. The comments paint a grim picture of American incompetence and mismanagement as the Coalition Provisional Authority struggles to run post-Saddam Iraq. "This is the single most chaotic organisation I have ever worked for," the official said.

Interestingly the report says back in London, British ministers are said to be fed up with being "taken for granted".

This is a growing theme. The US military might be good at blasting their way across deserts but they are proving to be utterly useless when it comes to nation and confidence building.

On the same day Jack Straw made these comments to the BBC about the US and Iran: "Given the long history of Iran, they have to be allowed to sort out their opposition internally. The thing that would most derail the process toward the establishment of a better democracy in Iran would be suggestions that the opposition there was being orchestrated from outside, which happily so far it has not been."

Right, got you Jack.

Thanks to Matt for the link.




posted by BA on 10:08 AM link
IRANIAN BLOGGERS
Jeff Jarvis has a number of useful links to Iranian webloggers which will make for interesting reading in the coming weeks. Jeff has been posting and linking to Iranian bloggers for some time and encouraging others to do the same - good use of blog space.

posted by BA on 8:53 AM link
MORE LIES (AND A FEW LAUGHS)

Of course it is not just right-wing bloggers who are happy to circulate lies and misinformation. Right-wing newspapers do that too. British Spin exposes the predictable hostility and inaccuracy of the Tory press in London to the free choice of devolution being offered to the North of England.

Meanwhile I notice on Technorati that at least 30 blogs are running with the false 'EU blogging' story (see below). So far just two of them have bothered to link to the rebuttal here. It does make you wonder why they are so afraid of even the suggestion of accountability doesn't it?

Also: Nick Barlow makes some good comments on the europhobes: Yes, it's that wonderful time when they all gather in a circle to reinforce their prejudices based on the flimsiest of facts while screaming 'lalala we can't hear you!' at anyone who tries to stop them. Sometimes these circle jerks are known to summon up one of their patron saints (St Glenn Instapundit or St Andrew Milkyloads) to scatter down blessings and referrals upon them.

So, what's this one all about? Like many other right wing circle jerks this one is centred a whole new Euro-myth, giving them the chance to rail against 'our would be masters' in Brussels and bring out the old Stalin and Hitler comparisons. Look on the bright side, at least they haven't gone for the Paisleyite idea of branding anything related to the EU as the work of the Devil and/or the Antichrist (who may well also be the Pope).


And another thing: British Spin sums the whole matter up in three short paragraphs:

My position is simple. I demand the right to write factually incorrect, distorted articles which smear, abuse and damage others reputations without providing any opportunity of redress or coherent debate.

Further, I demand the right to be incoherent without vile irony attending, incomprehensible without contemptuous clarification and obnoxious without satirical reproof.

I demand my right to display my ignorance without fear of correction. This is the very essence of the internet. It is where I stand. I can do no other.


And yet another: Matthew Turner has some breaking news: "An organization that isn't the EU today didn't pass legislation that in any case wouldn't have made it illegal not to allow a right-to-reply on blogs."

The journey complete
Yep Nick Barlow was right in his prediction of the 'circle jerk'.

Instapundit is now posting the 'EU and the blogs' story, telling Fox News presenter Bill O'Reilly that "Your whining sounds a lot like what we’re hearing from those European bureaucrats who are trying to bring the Internet under control because it’s a threat to their position. Is that the company you want to keep?"

By tomorrow night this will be on Fox News with O'Reilly probably expressing surprise at himself for his support of an EU crackdown.




posted by BA on 6:47 AM link
EUROSTERIA
Dear oh dear, it just gets worse. Blogland is now up in arms about an alleged terrible European plot to force weblogs to give a right to reply to factual errors.

Maybe this is the issue that will finally get our friends on the other side of the pond to sit up and take notice of what's going on over here with the EU, says Au Currant.

"Europe, this is Jackboot - I believe you've met before. Jackboot, please proceed to stomp all over freedom of speech. There you go, stomp stomp stomp. Good Jackboot," says Rachel Lucas. "We will not comply!" announce Samizdata.

Even liberal Jeff Jarvis joins in raging about "stinking European bureaucrats". who want to "tell us how to operate or what we have to link to or what to say or how to say it. That is simply undemocratic."

And it is also completely untrue.

Sorry to disappoint those who are excited about their impending oppression but the Council of Europe's Revised Draft Recommendation on the right of reply in the on-line media sadly makes not one single reference to weblogs. Not one. Not even a quick namedrop of Instapundit.

Sorry for those who fear censorship but there is not a single mention in the document of the right to reply to opinions. Not one. It is simply about correcting facts. It is about adapting to the online world a 1974 Council Resolution which does not go beyond granting a right of reply with respect of factual statements claimed to be inaccurate and that, as a consequence, the on-line dissemination of opinions and ideas falls outside the scope of this Recommendation; "

Therefore the draft recommendation suggests that if non-professional on-line media print factual errors about people or organisations, they should be obliged to give them the right to reply in the same way as any other media. What is wrong with that? Especially when the draft makes it clear that any policing of such rights should be according to the principle of 'self-regulation' - which is what blogs work by anyway.

So how did this alarmist story emerge then? Well, The orginal unammended draft report referred specifically to 'professional online media' but the ammended version deleted the term 'professional'.

So an alert online journalist Declan McCullaght got on the case and found a member of the European Council's Media Division to give him the quote that "Some online publications run by nonprofessionals can be very influential and therefore damaging to the reputation of other people" to explain the change.

I am frankly amazed that American bloggers who spend half their waking hours "fact checking the asses" of the New York Times would be against the idea that any media should publish corrections and I am even more amazed that they reject the idea that weblogs should be taken as seriously as any other media. It is published information - full stop.

But even if you object to running corrections of factual errors in principle there is still one other small matter - The Council of Europe has nothing to do with the European Union. Nothing at all. It is an entirely seperate organisation with over 45 member nations.

Oh yes and another minor detail. The Council of Europe has no powers to implement any laws whatsoever. It is not a legislative body. It has zero power.

Now I wonder how many weblogs will bother to voluntarily give me the right to reply to the hysterical euro-phobic scaremongering?

Care for a straight banana anyone?
















posted by BA on 3:41 AM link
MULLAH'S SPEAK OUT

Iran's ruling clique have once again shown their inability to respond realistically to the post 7th century world by making two hilarious comments.

The first concerns the relative balance of power in the contemporary world. As US troops occupy two of Iran's neighbours, as Iran's nuclear programme continues to bring unwanted attention from everyone else and as students continue their nightly anti-regime protests Ayatollah Khamenie has stated "Despite their propoganda, the United States is on the verge of collapse and resembles a mountain of ice which is melting" Very interesting. I don't think I've seen a clearer example of the psychological phenomena known as projection in my life.

The second comment is from an unnamed regime spokesman who has commented on US support for the demonstrating students "their (the US) remarks are a blatent interference in Iran's internal affairs". Is this the same Islamic Republic of Iran which pronounced a death sentence on British novelist Salman Rusdie in 1989 ? Wasn't that an interference in Britain's affairs ?

The Iranian people already know that the regime is murderous and incapable of managing an economy. As they consider the most recent lies and hypocrisy they will draw their own conclusions.



posted by marcus on 3:36 AM link

Monday, June 16, 2003

IT'S MAKE YOUR MIND UP TIME

It is sometimes hard to take seriously the pro-European slogan that Britain needs to be at the "heart of Europe" . After all throughout the history of our relationship with the evolving European Union we have almost always been on the edge, sometimes sniping, sometimes shouting loudly and often just sneaking off back across the channel with a nicely negotiated 'opt-out'.

A significant section of political opinion, particularly Conservative political opinion, has remained openly hostile to closer integration in Europe yet even among those who would reject the label 'Euro sceptic' , there has been a good deal of, well, scepticism.

The arrival of the single currency, the euro, brings a halt to this very British approach. There is no chance to fudge this issue for eternity. Sooner or later we are in or we are out of the euro zone. There is not going to be a dual-currency and the fact that some Tories are now raising the prospect of leaving the EU all togther shows that we are reaching the decisive moment.

The only chance of continuing to be on the sidelines is to opt for the Daily Telegraph's 'country membership' - getting what we can out of the single market while taking no responsibility for and getting no benefit from the wider social and political process. Besides being unacceptably selfish to our partners, that is clearly not an attractive proposal for the left being little more than a blatant attempt to ensure that the social benefits enjoyed by employees in Europe are kept well away from British workers. It simply hides an agenda to keep the poorer regions of the UK trapped in low-wage economies.

To most people on the democratic left then Europe has been a no-brainer. We are internationalists, we see much to be gained from integration and we like some of the alternative models on display in continental Europe. We don't think that helping post-fascist Portugal and Spain become fully fledged market democracies or assisting in Ireland's economic progress was a 'waste of money'. On the contrary.

But the recent disputes over the Iraq war have thrown a spanner in the works. I like to think of myself as a Euro-enthusiast but that enthusiasm was sorely tested by the French behaviour in the UN security council and the anti-American postures adopted. Some on the anti-war left now talk of the EU as a 'balwark' against the US, taking comfort from the prospect of a return to a bi-polar world - not a vision to inspire those of us who value a positive relationship with the US.

Mirroring and at the same time, encouraging, this view is a new aggressive anti-EU tone on the American right. They see the EU as a French vehicle that aims to compete with them in the battle for global hegemony. The American right have rather grown to the idea of a unipolar world where they are the undisputed leader. A blatant example of this thinking was shown by Anglo-American conservative weblogger Andrew Sullivan who recently penned an item charmingly entitled "The Euro Menace".

Sullivan warns tactically against the US being too blatant in its hostility to the EU project, less it weakens its influence over 'friendly governments' but says:

" At the same time, Americans need to wake up and understand the significance of this new rival to U.S. global power. No, it will not be a military threat. But it can be an enormous deadweight on U.S. power, as we saw earlier this year. And its anti-American timbre is unmistakable..... That's the current challenge to U.S. foreign policy: how to prevent the new European constitution from becoming a reality, how to woo and keep the loyalty of pro-American European governments and states, how to save new Europe from the stultifying and malign embrace of the old. It may, alas, be too late to prevent the worst. But better late than never.

Of course the European consitution as of little relevance to the US being an entirely internal European matter. I suspect that what Sullivan means is how to stop greater integration becoming a reality. Sullivan is showing the fear that many on the US right now have of a stronger, more united Europe, a fear that may have economic as well as political roots.

Should that worry the European left? Should we care that the US might see the EU as a rival? Well, unlike some, I certainly don't think we should aim for the EU to become a hostile opponent of the US nor should we wish to create that impression. But a Europe which is more powerful, more effective and more co-ordinated on the international stage should be something that progressives welcome - indeed it should be something that Americans who have whined about Europe "not taking its responsibilities" should also be pleased by. It is likely that in the future the EU may be able to reach where the USA does not wish, or cannot, go. On other occassions it may act in concert with the US and at times it may need to act diplomatically to impede ill-advised adventures from the US. If that frightens certain US right-wingers, well, let them be afraid.

What about Britain's 'special relationship' with the US? Anyone serious about their politics has to recognise the importance of a constructive and friendly rapport with the US. But as we have seen time and again, the relationship can often be a one-way street and even if we gain more than we lose from remaining close to the Americans, it would be foolish for us to put all our diplomatic eggs in one basket. The ability to have a foot in both camps as an extraordinary position which, despite the problems of the past year, remains one which ultimately Britain can really benefit from.

The anti-European critics on the American right and the British Euro-sceptics also share common ground in their view of the EU as being some kind of statist nightmare, where all enterprise will be stifled by excessive legislation and that nightmare of nightmares the welfare state. The libertarians even like to put pictures of Stalin imposed on the EU flag. We are warned across the blogs that the EU lacks the democracy and liberty of the 'Anglosphere'.

In which case the conservatives have to ask themselves why in the past two months the people of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic - who have tasted democracy and liberty for little more than a decade and, unlike the critics have experience of real Stalinism, have voluntarily opted to join this illiberal horror house?

As Will Hutton put it recently : Those who do not have liberty, or have won it only recently, know the EU is their friend not their enemy. Warsaw and so many of the other cities of Eastern Europe are just two and half hours away by plane. It is a revelatory flight - and it is one that should be mandatory for every enemy of the EU.

And add to that Bucharest, Bratislava, Zagreb and many other cities where governments, businesses, trade unions and the population at large have had their eye on the European prize since their liberation from dictatorship. Back in 1989 we, along with the rest of Western Europe, promised to share a 'common European home' with the people's of the formerly communist East - how can we even think of betraying that commitment?

Yes there are problems with the EU structures. Yes, there is a tendency towards French-style 'institution building' and yes there are many other issues, such as Agricultural subsidies, that one could point to and see fault. But the left has never engaged with political or economic structures because we believe them to be perfect - after all we have spent decades working with the many flaws of the centralised British state and only now are we beginging to get results in reforming it. If we believe there are faults and even dangers in the EU project we owe it to ourselves and to the new states to remain in the middle of the battles fighting their and our corner.

Involvement with and reform of the EU should be the natural terrain of the left. The democratic left is and always has been made up of reformists, people who are convinced that political activity works and can deliver results. As one such reformist, Roy Hattersley puts it:

"There are only two possible European policy positions. One requires Britain to work away "at the heart of Europe" for policies that benefit Britain. The other follows a course so critical that it inevitably results in withdrawal. Tory logic can only lead to little England."

It still is a no-brainer isn't it?






posted by BA on 2:34 PM link
IRANIAN VOICES
Iran is becoming the big story and the BBC website has a nice collection of e-mails from Iranians. Elsewhere there is an interesting comment from Iranian blogger Hoder in reaction to George Bush's weekend statement of support for the demonstrators.

Hoder's suggestion that Bush keeps his mouth shut gets a mixed reaction from his readers but he raises an important issue. There is no doubt of course that the US wants change in Iran (don't we all?) and Bush was asked a straight question by a reporter and had to give an answer. But you would hope that the administration realises that associating too closely with the demonstrations gives the clerics the chance to paint their opponents as a 'fifth column' and a chance to try and turn the protests into a national sovereignty issue - which would clearly not be helpful.

posted by BA on 3:50 AM link
YES, YES AND YES
The Guardian says that John Prescott will provide referendums next year on regional devolution for the three northern regions.


posted by BA on 3:10 AM link

Sunday, June 15, 2003

INFANTILE DISORDER

"Never in my life have I seen such a vociferous, poisoned bunch of people....they were like animals, they really showed their teeth, it was disgusting"

Not a description of the eating habits of the kebab-munching post-pub crowd but what passes for comradely debate in the Scottish Socialist Party.

I suppose the euphoria over the recent electoral success had to end sometime and suspect the pitfalls of constructing a political party composed of various sects who each consider themselves the only true representatives of the people are now showing themselves.

posted by marcus on 2:44 PM link
THE ANTI-EUROPEANS
The pro-euro campaign Britain in Europe has a list of 60 'anti-European' organisations on its website and it makes for interesting reading.

As BiE point out it is a real alphabets soup, including the British Housewifes' League and the spectacularly-named All Party Alliance Against Brussels (which naturally has no party support) but what is more interesting are the harder ideological opponents of the EU. The Libertarian Alliance, which includes Samizdata blogger Brian Micklethwait and another blogger David Farrer are named and of course more mainstream Euro-sceptic and nationalist conservative organisations are also present on the list.

In the same camp on the EU issue are the Communist Party of Britain (and the Communist Party of Britain Marxist-Leninist), the (Trotskyist) Socialist Alliance and Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party - I can't describe how much I'm looking forward to the eventual referendum on the euro just to see these lot all sharing a platform with Nigel Lawson and everyone to the right of him.

Of course you can overplay the 'unholy alliance' angle. The ultra-left and the right are opposed to the EU for entirely different reasons. On the Red Pepper mailing list the other day one ultra-left contributor described the EU as being a 'neo-liberal capitalist club', yet the right are against the EU precisely because it isn't such a free-market paradise.

But sometimes the single issue is enough of a bond to cross the ideological divide. According to BiE, one member of the Libertarian Alliance, Dr Sean Gabb, has backed Scargill's party because "Mr Scargill is a patriot who has always campaigned against membership of the European Union”.

All in all it is a pretty effective piece of propaganda from the Britain in Europe people.

I mean if Nationalists, Conservatives, Libertarians, Trotskyists, Stalinists, Scargillites and Organised Housewifery are all opposed to the EU, is it not difficult to avoid concluding that Brussels must be doing something right?

posted by BA on 1:58 PM link

Normblog
British Spin
Tom Watson
Stephen Pollard
PolitX
Nick Barlow
Paul Anderson
Matthew Turner
Jeff Jarvis

Perspective
Vox Politics
Conservative Commentary
Slugger O'Toole
Junius
Public Interest
Emily Jones
Edge of England's Sword
Au Currant
Natalie Solent
Samizdata
Brendan O'Neill
Look Back in Anger
Cinderella Bloggerfeller
Matt Welch