Posted by: Ian | May 8, 2009

Can you claim for light bulbs?

So at last we start to see what the piggies have been eating in their trough – and the rest of us can feast for the next few days on the gory details. The Telegraph obtained (probably from the list that was doing the rounds for the highest bidder) uncensored details for the entire cabinet. Rumour is that they also have the opposition front-bench ready to roll in the next few days as well, so we can see what they need to claim whilst living in Notting Hill!

Here are my highlights for the morning:

The Minister for Chipmunks (Comrade Blears) claimed £5000 on three separate homes over three years, including 2 TV sets – claiming it was all in withing the rules – set by MPs, of course.

Our uncultured Culture Secretary (Andy Burnham) claimed Stamp Duty on a property sale – again within the rules.

The ex-prince of darkness (now a sort of queen of the warm glow) Lord Mandelson claimed for improvements, the week after announcing he stood down, to a house he later sold a a profit of £136,000.

Our Prime Mentalist claimed for light bulbs in his children’s bedroom – I assume he must has smashed them with a flying Nokia.

The classic circular statist defence is nicely deployed here: We make the rules that we haven’t broken.

Trebles all round as Lord Gnome might say.

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Posted by: Ian | May 6, 2009

So who should I vote for?

The elections that promise world-changing significance are upon next month, as we elect the rubber-stampers to the parasites-in-chief over in Brussels/Strasbourg. But, in this and the local elections, I am genuinely stumped as to who to vote for.

During this current economic situation, not one of the major parties had the balls to ask whether it was the system itself that was broke. They all bleated on about improving access to credit (trans. “debt”) to improve liquidity in the market. In other words – we all need to keep banging our credit cards to get the economy going again – sound advice in never (never) land.

I think I may start self-harming if I have to continue to listen to party leaders go on about ‘hard-working families’. I am married, have kids and would fit into this apparent demographic. But what I think they are talking about are the people who bought into the lie that living on credit-cards and remortgages to finance an idyllic surbaban lifestyle centred around the right to perfect schoolsnhospitals and property-porn would go on for ever as if it was their right. Bollocks.

The EU is the antithesis of what it means to be libertarian-left. It is a centralised, undemoncratic, unwieldy, cash-hungry institution that is so remote from people that it is probably the best example of what subsidiarity is not!

 

Labour

Next!

But seriously, why would I vote for a bunch of nannying, statist, smug, superior, power-hungry piggies who have bled the country dry and in the midst of the chaos still think that launching the oppressive, cash-hungry, useless ID Card scheme is a good idea?

 

Conservatives

So Cameron talks a good game about liberty, equality etc – but he is still wedded to monetarism and the Thatcherite principle of Laissez-faire economics, and is convinced that globalised capitalism is a good thing. And with unreformed Thatcherites such as Daniel Hannan running things in Europe for them … forget it!

 

Liberal Democrats

I had such hopes for Nick Clegg. His speech at the party conference actually gave me hope we might get a genuine liberal leader of the lib-dems. But he has stayed the course on economics, along with the other two hoons, and they are fading fast again.

Green Party

Their principles are great – but they are falling into the same trap as Labour, in believing that a top-down legislative approach is the way forward. Statism is the acceptable face of democratic tyranny and I sincerely hope that they realise this and embrace a libertarian approach to progressive politics.

UKIP

Dear God, no! I don’t think I have ever met a more unpleasant bunch of xenophobes in my life (obviously apart from the BNP, who I cannot even bring myself to link to here – sorry!). Can Comrade Smith exclude them as well?

 

So, the Digger is left with no-one I can vote for. Is the reasoned choice, to not vote at all?

In today’s Guardian “sex-education activist” Heather Corinna argues that what she calls (in spite of the profile description) sexuality education is essential from the age of five to help counter abuse:

Most “sex ed” programmes for children entail basic knowledge of the body, including some of the changes puberty will soon bring and the correct names for body parts; every child’s right to privacy and personal boundaries; education for abuse prevention and identification; and the barest basics of general reproduction. Ideally, sexuality education for children should also contain some information about identity and what the wide variety of relationships between people can look like, including those who don’t fit the mould of the nuclear family or a heteronormative paradigm.

All of this can look laudable and helpful, and indeed what can be done to help reduce the shocking statistics of child abuse, and to help young women find dignity and a sense of personhood that doesn’t involve hoping the feckless spotty teenage boys want to shag you at least has the right motives.

But the stench of government ideological propaganda reeks through every word of this piece. It is not the content that is necessarily wrong – it is the assumption of moral absoluteness in the content of current sex-ed philosophy and is typical of the hectoring, paternalistic (which is just a little ironic from a feminist such as Corinna) approach which has grown up in educational, social and welfare institutions.

And, of course, parents just won’t do it right. They have all sorts of prejudices, hang-ups and wrong ideas that we need to protect our little new model citizens from. I’ll leave the last word to Ms Corinna:

We’ll sometimes hear it said that this is information that parents, not educators, should be giving children. I think it’s fantastic when parents do give this information to their children. However, this sentiment is specious at best: so many parents do not inform their children about these issues, or do so with their own bias, misinformation or shaming.

Posted by: Ian | April 29, 2009

A Liberal Secularism?

There has been much debate over the last few years over the role of religious belief in society. The oft-heard cry is that “we are a secular society” and therefore anachronisms such as the public role of religion (from Anglican bishops in the Lords, ‘faith” schools, sharia civil law, public display of religious symbols and dress etc).

Secularism, at its best creates a level playing field for all belief systems – Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Pagan, Satanist, Hindu, Humanist, Atheist, Agnostic, Flying Spaghetti Monster or whatever. The issue isn’t whether any of these systems of belief are reasonable, silly, helpful, irritating or anything else. Secularism should allow space for everything and everyone to publicly express their beliefs and to practice them. This means that anti-abortion campaigners, Dawkins devotees, Muslim views on gender, Mohammed cartoon or Jerry Springer the Opera should all have a space in the public space if there is someone who wants to put it there. The freedom to offend other people is a fundamental element of secularism at its best.

Secularism at its worst is no better than religious fundamentalism in that it tries to restrict public freedom of practice and expression, and in that sense is fundamentally anti-libertarian. There is nothing that makes my heart sink more than another Toynbee-wannabe with that peculiar brand of Guardian-inspired illiberal liberalism. The absolute conviction that their opinion is so right that everyone else needs to get in line or shut up.

Posted by: Ian | April 27, 2009

The Privatisation of Big Brother

Just when we thought that this government were going to get all 1984 on us and store every bit on inernet communication we make, Comrade Smith announced that she was kindly ruling out a database of this kind. How considerate of her to let us keep our right to privacy (although this is the government that considered retrospective legislation to break a contract, so as Comrade Harman implied, ‘laws can be changed’).

However, rather than a super-database of chatroom lurking, illicit google searches and inane facebook status updates the Ministry of Love is going to compel private companies to keep a record of who does what, contacts whom, and what social network sites they frequent.

According to the BBC:

The Home Office will instead ask communications companies – from internet service providers to mobile phone networks – to extend the range of information they currently hold on their subscribers and organise it so that it can be better used by the police, MI5 and other public bodies investigating crime and terrorism. Ministers say they estimate the project will cost £2bn to set up, which includes some compensation to the communications industry for the work it may be asked to do.

So our surveillance society marches on, our liberty is suffering a death by a thousand cuts and we still don’t do anything about it.

There are two secondary schools within walking distance of my house. One of these, which consistently has the highest GCSE results in the area, adopted a unique educational philosophy recently. The head of this school approached the local chamber of commerce and asked the apparently sensible question – “What are you looking for in our school leavers”. They then geared the (little) freedom they have been granted by central government towards matching their pupils towards the needs expressed by the Chamber of Commerce.

What? WHAT?? What has happened to education? Has it really just become a factory to produce good little consumer drones and wage slaves? I thought education was supposed to be the means to equality and liberty. Instead we are enslaving our children, and brainwashing them to become the means of free market economic recovery. Absolute bollocks.

Education is supposed to help the individual see the world as it is, to have the skills to decode the messages that are thrown at young people from government, the media and society, and to be able to make an informed choice to participate or not. It is supposed to help people find out who they are, how they are made, and what their place might be in this world. It is meant to inspire a love of discovery and knowledge so that learning becomes a life-long experience.

Instead it has become a target driven, government sanctioned (think Miss Umbridge from Harry Potter), soulless, deadening 12 years before someone is thrown to the world of work to start climbing the consumerist ladder. Count me and my kids out.

Posted by: Ian | April 19, 2009

Policing by Consent?

It seems to me that the police are knee deep in it as the fall-out from the G20 protests continue. There is now footage of a third incident with someone getting smashed in the face with a riot shield.

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The problem is that the assumption of policing in this country is that it is done ‘by consent’ of the populace, as the IPCC are finally realising. In other words, the way that laws are upheld are supposed to be methods that the public find acceptable. This is, of course, in theory. The increasing authoritarianism of governments is probably the strongest argument for a system of democracy that limits how long a person (or party) can stay in power.

I saw the same approach during the Poll Tax protests in 1990 (and sported a bloody nose to remember it by!), and it is when governments forget that they govern by the consent of the public, and that the police are there to allow protest, not prevent it.

Posted by: Ian | April 17, 2009

Blog Round UP

Guido Fawkes reports on Charlie Whelan, one of the backroom boys  associated with all the smearing, claiming that he is a victim of Tory smears.

Still on the subject of the new media darling, Iain Dale comments on the Steve Richard’s opinion piece from the Indie that Guido is one of Media’s Most Influential People.

Charlotte Gore takes a pretty sharp look at the green car subsidy proposed by the Government.

Rowenna Davies at Liberal Conspiracy asks why Labour isn’t working with Rural Campaigners.

Labour List try and move on from the McPoison debacle with a focus on Young People, including a statement from Dawn Butler

Posted by: Ian | April 17, 2009

This Oppresive Regime

So what will be the legacy of twelve years of New Labour? Two stories in the press today summarize it quite nicely I thought:

Council ‘snooping powers’ to be reviewed

There are supposedly 42 million CCTV cameras in the UK making sure we all stay in line, and add to this the vast number of speed cameras. No-one has abused this more than local councils, but the very idea that an elected representative has the right to make an exective decision about which bits of my private life can be spied upon and when I can be summarily fined because of those cameras is a stench that permeates the entire modern body politic.

Arrested MP ‘told he faced life’

There is probably little in politics that I would find to agree on with Damian Green, but again we have an example of the Exectuve over-reaching themselves, and trampling upon an elected parliamentarian. Here is his interview

Posted by: Ian | April 17, 2009

Postings from the Libertarian Left

Welcome to the new blog. The simple aim is to counter the common, false dichotomy between libertarian right and statist left.

We reject the slavish devotion to capitalism, corporate greed, the support of the modern opiate of consumerism and the maintenance of the modern empire of the global free market. We also reject that the only alternative to this is an equally oppressive statist culture that denies the essential liberty of the individual, of families and of communities.

We embrace the principles of liberty, common ownership, the right of every person to hold their means of production and keeping everything (education, housing, health, politics) at the most local level possible.

We will be posting comment, campaigns and reflections on politics, economics and, well … just all of life today.

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