Archive | February, 2006

Power to the people

28 Feb

What do we think of the recommendations from Baroness Helena Kennedy’s Power Inquiry, on challenging the low turnout among Britain’s young electorate?

I agree with David Aaronovitch, who disagrees with the reports finding but does support the recommendations. I haven’t the time or inclination to get bogged down with how the inquiry reached its conclusions, but I would like to express my own thoughts.

Firstly on the point of voting at 16, I see no major reason why a 16-year-old cannot vote. Those with opinions will utilise this right, yet I feel the majority, who couldn’t care less, will not. Counterproductively this will probably send the proportion of the non-voting electorate up, not down.

The restriction on donations would protect the democratic process, why should the rich have a disproportionate ‘voice’ in the argument leading up to an election? Yes they contribute more to the country in terms of taxation, but equal funding would help ensure the best argument wins the day. Lobbying is a cancer on the capitalist system, not a virtue.

I also like the idea of public petitions (signed by a minimum of 400,000 people) forcing a debate in parliament. MP’s argue that they don’t have enough time for their own bills to be debated, but my retort is that they have created 700 new criminal offences since 1997, so evidently they spend far too much time ‘lawmaking.’ They should do as we instruct, not debating their own pet-projects.

Parliament is important as it’s in control of billions of pounds that we, as the taxpayers, have laboured for. Parliament is also important as a means to keep almost 500 busybodies out of industry, but that’s another story. Parliament should therefore, be supremely accountable to us, and if we the people want ministers to do monkey flips while we sit around laughing, then it’s tough shit. Good idea Helena, I look forward to abusing the system.

I actually have my own recommendation. I believe that all public institutions should be democratic. Schools should not only have elected governors, but also democratically elected student representation, with real power. How can we expect kids to embrace democracy at eighteen when all they have known is an undemocratic autocracy?

Waste, sanitation, the police force; all should be democratically accountable, not following central diktat from Whitehall. Lawmakers should make the law not dictate implementation. The ministerial record on delivering progress is evidence enough, that our politicians couldn’t manage a towel draw, never mind a budget in the billions.

Only localism and regional representation will solve the disengagement of the masses from the self-important nonsense of Westminster. It’s hard to reconcile Blair’s tenure with devolution of power, but at least they tried with the regional assemblies. This was of course in truth, a watered down, almost powerless façade. What we need is real regional federalism, with London based government dismantled to all but defence of the realm and international diplomacy. The executive power of the PM (easily the most constitutionally powerful democratic public office in the world, bar non) must be tempered by powerful, locally accountable, regional political institutions.

Only then can we give power back to the people.

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Goodbye liberty

27 Feb

I just watched the latest episode of Dispatches on Channel Four, presented by political commentator Peter Hitchens. It was an excellent summary of the unbridled curbing of civil liberties by this Labour Government, and their questionable justification for the growing state.

There was, predictably, an air of the Daily Mail in the film; but this should not divert the viewer from the reality of the Blair administration, and their constant affronts to both British justice, and the innate freedoms we hold dear.

Big Bro

Think I’m exaggerating? How about this from the horse’s mouth: –

In theory, traditional court processes and attitudes to civil liberties could work. But the modern world is different from the world for which these court processes were designed.

I’m sorry Tony, but if we burn Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, what exactly are we fighting to protect?

The Mac difference

27 Feb

MAC

Microsoft gets a great deal of bad press, and if you have the misfortune to have to wrangle with the peculiarities of the Windows operating system, you would appreciate why. I’m an accountant, so at work I am armed with a P4 Dell running Windows NT, and it’s a depressing experience.

Drab spreadsheet after drab spreadsheet, such is my Excel-powered existence (not to mention time spent with the unfathomable and unwieldy Internet Explorer). Yet at five-o’clock, each and every day, I can emerge from my office and go home to a wonderful enlightened world of Macintosh. Ah the simplicity, elegance, and functionality of the OS X operating system. The ease at which my iPod syncs with Tiger, the pure tactile ecstasy of the PowerBook, and the robust portability of my iBook, never has technology felt so right.

For those yet to make the change, take a view of this video of a Microsoft makeover of the iPod packaging, it’s a mock-up of course, but it brilliantly conveys the difference between the two companies.

Top Trump

27 Feb

This post will probably cut short a promising real-estate career before it’s even began, but what the hell is the deal with Donald Trump’s hair?

Trump

Now premature baldness is no trifling matter, but one has to go gracefully, with a debonair disregard for ones own vanity. Not, as is the case with Multi-Billionaire Trump, desperately employing an Olympic size comb-over.

Still, It gets him the ladies….

French going to teach us to be Europeans

27 Feb

Those habitual anti-progressives and occasional rioters, the French, have announced a proposal to create European Lessons in secondary schools across the 25-state union. In a sardonic nod to the democratic process, several of the ideas are ‘are recycled from the constitution’s ruins.’ Remind me, who was it that first rejected the French authored constitution?

The lessons, which British officials have dismissed as a “non-starter,? would the French argue, be an “apprenticeship? for young Europeans. Not happy with dislocating the European people from democratic accountability, our intellectual betters now suggest that we’re socially engineered into good, compliant, little federalists.

Did someone once say the Soviet Union had fallen?

Regular readers will know that I am a passionate European, and a regular traveller across our glorious continent, but our continent is glorious because of the very differences that our political elite seeks to destroy in their homogenising socialist quest.

The EU should be a union of free trade, free-movement, and peaceful co-operation, nothing more, and nothing less.

We don’t need lessons for that.

The Box

26 Feb

A regular reader made a comment on the Neocon’s Break Ranks post, referring to a poem by Lascelles Abercrombie, sung by John Denver, called The Box. This recommendation was accompanied by an emailed link to the lyrics, which I have reproduced below: –

LASCELLES
THE BOX

Once upon a time in the land of hush-a-bye,
around about the wondrous days of yore,
I came across a sort of box
bound up with chains and locked with locks
and labelled, “Kindly do not touch, it’s war.”

Decree was issued round about
all with a flourish and a shout
and a gaily coloured mascot tripping lightly on before:
“Don’t fiddle with this deadly box
or break the chains or pick the locks.
And please, don’t ever play about with war”

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Arab League Video

25 Feb

If you didn’t think it was possible to offend both the White House and the Islamic World, prepare to be surprised….