We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

We have already had people from the commission this morning talking about how they ‘interpret’ the French vote. What don’t they understand? No is no.

If the government in this country or the commission try to breathe life into this corpse, then we in Britain we must have a say to deliver the final blow.

– Liam Fox, Tory Shadow Foreign Secretary

83 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Old Jack Tar

    How about:

    I always thought a referendum was an unbelievably silly idea and I thought the decision of Tony Blair to hold a referendum was a very weak one.

    – Conservative MP Ken Clarke, who is still a member of the Tory party and one reason I will not vote for those vermin while he still is. Once a traitor always a traitor.

  • Anthony

    Hear, hear!

  • GCooper

    Old Jack Tar writes:

    “Conservative MP Ken Clarke, who is still a member of the Tory party and one reason I will not vote for those vermin while he still is. Once a traitor always a traitor.”

    Add me to that list! It’s revealing how often he and that other arch creep, Hesseltine, are so often quoted by the BBC.

    If there must be Tories at all, that’s the kind they like.

  • Verity

    Oh, boo hoo! You forgot Douglas Hurd! Another Za-NuLab insurgent. Uh, activist. Uh, loyalist sympathiser.

  • GCooper

    Verity writes:

    “Oh, boo hoo! You forgot Douglas Hurd! Another Za-NuLab insurgent. Uh, activist. Uh, loyalist sympathiser.”

    How strange. I was going to mention him and suggest what a perfect example he would be of the appropriateness of Cockney rhyming slang (as in – for our U.S. – readers – ” ‘es a bit of Douglas Hurd if you ask me.”

    Then I thought better of it.

    And now I don’t.

  • Verity

    V good! And where would Chris Patten fit into the rhyming slang lexicon?

  • GCooper

    Verity writes:

    “And where would Chris Patten fit into the rhyming slang lexicon?”

    Dear old Fat Pang? I doubt if even the most scurrilous barow boy would so much as give him the time of day.

    Every time I hear a BBC type waffle on about ‘One nation Conservatives’ I get this mental image of Clarke, Heseltine, Britton and Patten doing a Tiller Girls’ routine.

    I must see whether I’m still taking the right dose….

  • What don’t they understand?

    Is that not a contraction there?

  • Verity

    Well, it’s cocktail hour where I am, and I know the dose is right because I poured the vodka myself.

    Hesseltine and Clarke should fall on their swords or STFU. Are they aware of the damage they do, or unaware? Do they think their words are advisory and that people are listening? Clarke was a brilliant chancellor. We cannot take that away from him and nor should we. He can never be a leader. He never had what it takes to be a leader. These men are now silly old farts. How can you be a wannabee in your sixties?

  • The only one of that lot who has any traction in the Tory party today is Clarke. If Mr Howard gets his rule changes through AND the parliamentary party take leave of their senses, Clarke could become leader of the party. I think he would promptly find himself leader without a party to lead.
    I also think his chance has come and gone. The careerist tendency is warming to David Davis and for once they may be backing the right candidate.

  • Stehpinkeln

    The Moonie Times quoted some faceless bueraucrat as saying therewere 3 options.
    Rewrite and resubmitt
    Change the ratification process from all to some.
    Go ahead as if it was a yes vote.
    Contraction it might be, but what is Brussels giving birth to? I would suggest taking up arms, but you don’t have any. See if the local jihadists will lend you some Kalashnikovs for the duration.

  • It is a direct quote David.

  • Julian Taylor

    The day I can see green spotted blue pigs doing formation aerobatics over Whitehall is the day Ken Clarke will ever be Conservative Party leader. The party needs cohesion and reformation to its traditional centre right, not someone who will try and firmly wedge it between the Liberal Democrats and NuLabour.

    Davis at least represents a Conservative Party that will try and move on from the John Major era, rather than Clarke, Howard and Rifkind who symbolise the leftovers from Major’s cabinet still scrambling for power ever since they all failed to secure peerages after the 1997 election.

  • The Last Toryboy

    I cant believe Ken “Wrecker” Clarke, someone just fire this idiot, please, if he cant keep his trap shut. He must be on the Labour payroll given his antics.

    I find it hard to believe the leadership thing is so opaque, David Davis is the only one it can be. If anybody says otherwise, seems to me they should be purged, as the quislings will just be dripping poison into the body politic from then on otherwise.

    I sure as hell won’t be voting Tory or offering to hand out leaflets if that backbiting Eurofanatic ends up running the show.

  • Verity

    Stehpinkeln – The Moonie Times holds little, if any, fascination for Samizdatas. We are immune to its charms. The options it thoughtfully offers are of no interest.

    I am puzzled. What is it about Samizdata that keeps drawing you back although you appear to have little or no background in any of the subjects we talk about?

  • Clarke was a brilliant chancellor. We cannot take that away from him and nor should we

    Yes we should! Verity, those cocktails must’ve gone to your head. Ken Clarke was at best a technocrat chancellor who balanced the books by putting up taxes. He could have started to rescue the Tories’ reputation for tax cutting by slashing income tax in his final year and left Gordon Brown with an even bigger problem but instead he did Brown’s job for him.
    He may just win through if the ballot for Tory leader is among Tory MPs but I doubt it this time. Some of his former supporters are now angling for favour from the Davis camp.

  • Verity

    Michael Howard has been canny enough to mention the age thing, which means that is the first thing that anyone is going to think of now, when contemplating Clarke. I don’t think he has a chance any more. Even all his lavish support for the EU is now looking silly.

  • As I suggest here, to kill this thing off an alternative is going to have to be proposed. You can’t beat something with nothing.

    How about a new EU treaty (not a Constitution) that would (1) dissolve the Brussels bureaucracy, (2) create a free trade zone, (3) expressly state that it is NOT dedicated to an “ever closer union” but is limited strictly to its enumerated powers, etc. The EU in some form is not going to go away. It is time for the sensible people to take the offensive, define what the EU ought to be, and start pushing to make it into what it ought to be.

    Maybe the UKIP should take the lead on an alternative treaty. Keep it short. Five or ten pages. That should be plenty. Call it the New European Union Treaty NEUT. Short for neutered or neutralized.

    New Europe, which I think is better thought of as the Old Warsaw Pact, plus the UK plus the Netherlands could be the main proponents. UK + NE + OWP = a coalition to counterbalance France, Spain, Benelux and probably Germany.

    If the people who do not like what the EU is and is going to become just keep waiting for these elections and hoping they win, eventually they will lose.

    Time to take the war to the enemy. It is the only way to win this thing once and for all.

  • Verity

    Yawn.

    No “new EU treaties”. No EU. ( A “new treaty” that would dissolve the Brussels bureaucracy. Are you mad?)

    No new solutions from people across the pond who – bless! – are simply not able to wrap their minds round the issues.

    UKIP is not in a position to take any leads. Get real.

    Wolfie – the dinner hour approacheth and I believe I am entitled, under the Geneva Convention and other instruments of “international law” to two pre-prandial cocktails. It is also my human right to have wine with my dinner, if I want it. Right now, I am not making any formal commitment, but am reserving my rights.

  • If the French don’t like the EU Destitution because it is too far to the right, and the English don’t like it because it is too far to the left, they should just meet in the Chunnel and compromise… after all, that would be the democratic thing to do, right?

  • That is far too impolite, Verity. People from the USA are entirely welcome to express their views on EU affairs here. In fact I totally agree with Lexington Green that his suggestion is indeed the only way to rescue the EU. And I also realise there is not a snowball’s chance in hell of that actually happening.

    However as a political devise for putting down an intellectual marker on the subject so that it is not always the other side defining the debate, it is a splendid idea.

  • It is OK if Verity is tough on my suggestion, especially since I agree with her most of the time.

    The point really is that unless, somehow, an alternative proposal is put in play, the enemy has the initiative and always will. If not UKIP, if not a NEUT, whatever, those were off the cuff suggestions.

    The point must be to engage the largest possible public by offering an alternative, or to at least begin serious discussion of what an alternative should look like. Who will propose an alternative, in what forum and what its content will be, are all open questions. But the basic strategy I am sure is the correct one. But to not propose an alternative is to simply hope these people will give up. And they never will. And if they get enough chances to win, they will eventually win.

    I see no reason not to serioiusly propose to dissolve the existing Brussels entity. The US Constitution dissolved the pre-existing government which existed under the Articles of Confederation. I don’t say this is likely to happen. Of course not. I do say that starting out with an aggressive program allows you to retreat to something attainable. And, anyway, why not have a public discussio of what the Brussels entity actually does, what it costs, and why have it anyway? If you are going to write a Constitution, then by definition the basic structure is on the table. So, have at it.

  • Verity

    Perry, I am astounded that this blog is interested in ways of rescuing the EU.

    Having lived in the US for 14 years, which is possibly longer than you’ve ever lived there, despite your dual citizenship, I have been consistent in expressing my great respect and affection for America. I have been absolutely unswerving in defending the United States.

    I am, however, in this context, growing tired of uninformed people from across the pond making impromptu, naive stabs at solutions which have confounded British and Europeans themselves for 50 years.

    You are the undisputed householders of this blog and you are the only people who can decide on standards of comment. We’re guests in your household.

    Personally, I have absolutely no interest in seeing the European project rescued.

  • Perhaps the participants in this event could be surveyed regarding an outline or first sketch of a tolerable EU treaty. I’d like to hear what Martin Wolf and Sabine Herold think should be the future of the EU.

    The brains and talent to generate an alternative are out there. They just need to get focused on this question. It should be fun, actually. Once “alternative visions of Europe” and “alternate draft Constitutions” start circulating on the Net the Brussels nomenklatura will pee themselves in horror and try to stamp out any such peasant revoltingness. Which will only make things worse for them.

    It is time for a conference entitled “Europe After NON”, which should be convened expressly to write a draft of a better EU treaty. Conservative and Libertarian luminaries should be invited. It should be done with maximum pomposity and fanfare.

    Until someone generates an alternative and puts it on the table, this bowl of mush will keep being plunked down in front of the voters until they give up and eat it.

    Also, I notice that Verity was commenting while hungry. When I blog drunk, angry or hungry, I frequently repent at my tone. Not saying this applies here, just noting it. But more substantively, it does sadden me to see the apparent hopelessness of people whose views I share. British people in particular seem to get too cynical too quickly. Nothing is over until it is over, and sometimes not even then. Having overcome Nazism and Soviet Communism, this bowl of tepid grey goop in Brussels cannot be beaten? Please! Bestir thyselves and keep thy chins up and the sparkle in thine eyes.

    If I inject American ignorance into this conversation, I hope I can offset that by also injecting some American optimism.

  • “I have absolutely no interest in seeing the European project rescued.”

    Verity, how realistic is it to stop with this assertion? To say, “to Hell with the EU” won’t make it go away, or be less bad, will it? No EU at all would be good, I agree, but how do you address the situation you are actually in? An impromptu, naive stab can be irritating, I agree. But no alternative proposal at all is better?

    In all sincerity, it is clear the EU politicians will just keep pushing this thing until it is enacted. What program should be adopted to stop them. What non-impromptu and non-naive set of steps should be taken to stop this process, or minimize the damage?

  • I am like a dog with his fangs in the mailman’s leg. I cannot let go.

    That naïve fellow Wretchard offers this impromptu thought: “The real challenge for Europeans, especially Eastern Europeans and the British, is to articulate an alternative vision for the Continent. The European vision needs a second party in order to make up a debate.” Right.

    Now, to turn this thing off and go get a drink.

  • nick

    Just for all of you who are wondering just where Britain is going at the moment, spare a thought for those of us in Australia, who have to put up with fools like this on the letters page of the Australian….

    (31.05.05)

    YOUR editorial writer and other commentators have applauded the recently announced industrial relations reforms (27/5). Some of your readers will not, however, have missed the stark contrast between the general thrust of those reforms and an apparent reluctance by the authorities to apply any controls to the financial excesses at the top end of town (“News Corp executive deal pencils in $52m golden handshake”, 27/5).

    Is it not time for the laws relating to the excessive incomes and obscene lump sums being paid to high-ranking company officers to be amended so as to produce a big win . . . not only for all the workers, as you suggest in your editorial, but for the entire population?

    Why, for example, should there not be a point in the income tax scale above which a 100 per cent tax is applied to incomes? There should be enough able minds in Canberra collectively capable of identifying the annual income below which incentive is lost – and it follows therefore that a 100 per cent income tax at a level sufficiently above that would not be inappropriate. Similar reasoning can be applied to lump-sum payments.

    We have historically had a minimum wage – it may now be time for a maximum wage.
    Alan Polack
    Sandy Bay, Tas

  • Now Clarke’s standing for the Conservative Party leadership is made much easier thanks to the French ‘non’.

    I’ve blogged about this before and again today but it remains a sad truth that the Conservative Party – of which I am a member – could conceivably elect a Euro fanatic and centrist-inclined leader.

    Thus ensuring they lose again in 2009.

    AB

  • Johnathan

    Breaking news: I see that Chirac has chosen Villepin as his new Prime Minister.

    You have got to hand it to Jacques, he has a sense of humour.

  • The Tory leadership contests are like those teen slasher movie series and Ken Clarke is the leader candidate who just won’t stop coming back. He is like Jason Vorhees in the Friday the 13th franchise. No matter what you do to him come the next leadership contest he is back to try again.

    Fortunately the Tory Party is not stupid enough to select Clarke for leader; however the MPs just might be in their desperation to win at any cost.

  • Phil

    Day after election day i put a £10 on Clarke @ 25/1 for leader of tories. 2 days later it was 12/1, now you will struggle to get 4/1. When will those stupid Conservatives learn????????????

  • Perry, I am astounded that this blog is interested in ways of rescuing the EU.

    I had nothing against the ‘Common Market’ and if the EU could be moved back to that, I would see the EU as an essentially good thing. But as I said, that ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

  • Chris Goodman

    There is more likelihood of Tony Blair becoming the next Pope than Kenneth Clarke being the leader of the Conservative Party.

  • Phil

    Chris Goodman: Phoney has already got his sainthood, Pope wouldent be Charismatic enough, plus the divorce from Cherie would half his millions??

  • The Last Toryboy

    I never did like Wretchards writings much. Smart guy, but in too many cases, totally uninformed. Bit like Steven Den Beste (Hi Steven, I know you read this blog occasionally), a very intelligent man who 95% of the time I agree with, but every so often goes off the rails when talking about something which he knows nothing about (Europe or Britain in particular). Garbage in, garbage out, no matter how fine the brain in between the two.

    UKIP won’t be advocating any new treaties, it is written into the UKIP constitution (because the founders knew this question would come up) that only Britain out of the EU is acceptable to them.

    As for my views, there is EFTA, we don’t need the EU. While EFTA has shrunk to miniscule size thanks to the EU superseding it, it is still out there, and surely if in some utopian future where the EU is gone (yeah right) EFTA could be revived.

  • GCooper

    Perry de Havilland writes:

    “I had nothing against the ‘Common Market’ and if the EU could be moved back to that, I would see the EU as an essentially good thing.”

    I voted against Britain’s entry into the Common Market and I would do so again, today.

    My first reason was because it was plain that any organisation of that type would metastasise – exactly as it did.

    It was never intended to be a free trade zone (we already had one of those, EFTA). It was a proto-European state and only the wilfully blind failed to see that: though most politicians saw it perfectly well. They just lied about it.

    My second reason was because it was clear that the underlying philosophy behind the Common Market was to build walls around Europe to protect it from outsiders – at the time, the Americans and the Japanese. Clearly, this was not only the wrong reaction commercially, it was motivated by the sort of gut-level anti-Americanism you still hear from people like the over-interviewed Prof. Timothy Garton Ash, whose underlying motive seems to be a deep and abiding fear of the USA. That was and is what drives so much of both the Common Market and the EU – a sullen resentment on the part of the patrician classes, who would once have ruled several empires, of the success and influence of the United States.

    The Common Market was a confidence trick. It was a bait and switch operation. It was always intended to be what it became and we should never have had anything to do with it.

  • The Last Toryboy

    I’m with GCooper on the above. The Common Market was always a customs union, ie a body with protectionism, not free trade, as its ultimate goal.

  • GCooper

    The Last Tory Boy writes:

    “….a very intelligent man who 95% of the time I agree with, but every so often goes off the rails when talking about something which he knows nothing about (Europe or Britain in particular)”

    This gets us back to the point Verity was making. She, very correctly in my opinion, identifies an astonishing blindspot in the usually clear-sighted vision of a surprising number of American commentators, who seem quite incapable of understanding why citizens of a sovereign country might resent surrendering that sovereignty to others.

    Given a level of patriotism in the USA which, at times, seems toe-curlingly jingoistic to those brought-up in a less febrile environment, it is hard to understand this failing.

    Mercifully, not all Americans are so dense, but surprising proportion of otherwise informed and intelligent thinkers simply do not seem able to understand why the British might, also, wish to retain control over their own destiny.

  • GCooper

    Nannybot must have got out of the wrong side of bed, this morning.

    In the previous post I used the phrase “t***k-skulled” and had the post automatically refused on the grounds of “questionable content”.

    Is dense any better?

    Oh well, I’ll shut up now, but it did raise a chuckle.

  • Verity

    Well, I get up after having slept through the mother of all eight hour thunderstorms outside, and here on my computer, the same storm rages on.

    Lexington Green, I thank you for the elegance and good humour of your posts, but the elephant in the living room is: we do not want to surrender our sovereignty to anyone (save, in my case, the United States, but that is another argument), especially a gang of people who have made such a balls-up of running the continent of Europe since time immemorial. We are rich, successful and, despite Tony Blair – and much of his rubbish will be discarded once the grown-ups get back into Parliament – fairly rich.

    The rest of them hang around our door asking our departing customers laden with goods, “Any spare change, guv?”

    Again: We do not want a bunch of Europeans, much as we enjoy them on a personal level, having the teeniest, most miniscule, nanoid say in how we run our household and our lives. That includes not having their currency and their moronic measurements imposed on us for no reason other than hegemony.

    No offence, Lexington Green – and by the way, I hardly think two vodka and tonics before having a bite at eight merits an accusation of possibly being drunk and raving out of hunger! – but American posters keep coming up with little fiddly ways to “rescue” the EU, when our entire focus is on destroying it. It is a foul, communistic, deeply, horrifyingly undemocratic project . It suits the countries on the continent because (save Scandinavia) not one of them has any history of democracy. The deepest it goes is 60 years back, to the end of WWII, when it was imposed on them, kicking and screaming, by the US and Britain. Even today, they simply don’t get it. And we simply don’t want them. They are dangerous.

    Perry said the revival of EFTA may be no bad thing, but given the track record of this gang, I think I might not even vote for EFTA this time round. I would rather see us have individual treaties with countries we really like and trust and who will do us some good commercially. I can see absolutely no benefit in having an agreement with Greece, Portugal or Belgium, for example. Absolutely none. Let’s pay a bit more for olive oil and skip the formal arrangements. Poland, yes, but many of the other new passengers on the gravy train, no.

    To Lexington Green and others: You do realise that the British taxpayer is supporting a lot of these countries, don’t you? We’d rather have our money back, get out of CAP and have infinitely lower prices and order our own economy without an Gallic fantasies and economic follies de grandeur thrown in. It’s their style, and they’re welcome to it, but it’s not us.

    So Lexington, forgive our frustration with our dear American cousins when they show themselves to be completely unable to understand that Britain is a large economy that sells to the world, that we have been making our own laws for 2,000 years and, although we like most of our near neighbours, we don’t want to join their families. We’ve got our own family, thanks.

  • Verity

    PS – I would just like your indulgence while I add that, though I am a registered, gold card, fan of the United States, the country has a curiously myopic streak when it comes to understanding that not everyone wishes to emulate its form of government. Our own system of (British) government has worked for us over 2,000 years and suits us perfectly – because we developed it to suit ourselves. We have no interest in changing it to become more like you. Or, god forbid, more like France!

    So. No plans to fiddle around with the EU to make it more democratic and “acceptable”. We honestly don’t care how they govern themselves, as long as they stay friendly. If they don’t, we go back in with the Raid.

  • “It is a foul, communistic, deeply, horrifyingly undemocratic project .” “…Britain is a large economy that sells to the world, that we have been making our own laws for 2,000 years …”

    Verity, I am aware of all this and agree with all this. (On this theme, I wrote this post 2 1/2 years ago.)

    I am only trying to think tactically. Since Britain is already enmeshed in this mess, what is the best thing to do? Ameliorate it, or try to get out altogether? As a matter of political practicality, what can be done? What should be done? It seems that only a very small minority in Britain now want out of the EU entirely. How to move the ball? How to wake more people up? How to promote an alternative? That is what I am thinking aloud about — how to take the political offensive. Because merely saying, “I hate the whole damn thing” is like libertarians who block their ears at any reference to the dirty, dirty state. Moral purity, maybe, but it concedes all the initiative to the bad guys, which means they always eventually win. I don’t want that.

    In the immortal words of Gen. Patton

    I don’t want to get any messages saying that we are holding our position. We’re not holding anything, we’ll let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly, and we’re not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We’re going to hold onto him by the nose, and we’re going to kick him in the ass.

    Like Patton, I want the good guys to never be taking a defensive position, but aggressively advocating and promoting alternatives, taking the initiatives and setting the agenda and dominating the conversation. This should be possible. The pro-EU forces are entrenched and well-financed but ponderous and boring and patently dishonest. The guerillas should be able to run circles around them, as well as being smarter and funnier.

    OK. I’m done now. I concede a dire lack of detailed knowledge. All you subjects of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who know all the grim details better than I can talk amongst yourselves. But please, for own good, the good of your country and the world, come up with a way to COUNTERATTACK.

    (As to hunger and thirst, I hate think what I’d put on the blog after two vodkas on an empty stomach, poor wimply little man that I am.)

  • Verity

    Lexington, I believe – and this is my personal opinion – that it would be possible to persuade the British to vote to leave the EU by a small margin in small increments.

    It was supposedly put in place (it was a lie; but this is what was bruited about) to ensure that nations in Europe would never go to war against one another again. (Why not just sign a treaty saying, “I Germany, promise never to invade France, Belgium or any other of those silly, poncy countries again. Yours sincerely, Germany. ??)

    We would have to make it clear that the reason there hasn’t been another war in Europe is due to NATO and American determination. Bang that message home.

    A much stronger point, though, is the generation who lived through WWII as adults and therefore active participants, is diminishing. The British and Europeans in their 30s and 40s have absolutely no memories of anything other than a peaceful Europe.

    The moment for the EU, even if there ever had been a legitimate moment, which there hadn’t, is long past. The Tories under David Davies could make a good fist of leaving for reasons of economic self interest. The way it was clamped around us. Little by little.

    You are wrong that we should passively accept the EU since it’s there. It’s a fragile mess. It can be destroyed. Blair is wetting his knickers over the thought of a British referendum on the euro. He knows he would not only lose, but lose largely and humiliatingly. This is what is behind his vapid, “Time for reflection” statement. In other words, he actually wants people to believe he is so incompetent he had no contingency plans in place for a Non vote in France when the entire world was predicting it.

    I don’t know how, other than bullying by Alastair Campbell, Blair got a reputation for competence.

    Anyway, Lexington, the Brits would vote an overwhelming “no!” to the euro – economic self interest being what it is – and, if the dismantling of the rest of this massive edifice were done inch by inch, as the mantling was done, they would vote for it.

    They lied to get us in. We could lie to get us out.

    “We have no plans for further disengagement from Europe. It is only the refugee treaty, which is unfair to Britain, we are negotiating to withdraw from. We want to make sure Britain accepts its fair share of refugees, as should other countries like Greece. This just an exercise in fine tuning and in no way affects our membership of the EU.”

    Then, two years later, “We are just protecting the British consumer by withdrawing from CAP and saving our contributions to continental farmers. We have no intentions of any further disengagement from the EU, which we love and adore. We are just asking you to vote YES to save British farmers and get lower prices in the supermarkets for fresh produce for British children.”

    “This in no way affects our membership in the EU. It’s just a very simple, unimportant adjustment, that is all.”

    We’ve had a very good lesson in how it’s done. We should – and will – apply it.

  • Euan Gray

    Our own system of (British) government has worked for us over 2,000 years and suits us perfectly – because we developed it to suit ourselves

    Hardly. England was subject to the Roman state until the 4th century, then was a series of warring petty fiefdoms until unification against the Danes by the 10th century. In the 11th century, it was subject to a Franco-Scandinavian invasion which fundamentally altered the nature of the state and the system of government. The underpinnings of what one might call a “British” system of government in the recognisable sense did not come until after the signing of Magna Carta in the 13th century, and the idea of a representative government under a constitutional monarch took a further four centuries, a civil war, revolution and military government to become established.

    A recognisably modern, British and self-determined method of government really only dates from the time of Cromwell 350 years ago, and certainly not from “over 2,000 years” ago.

    EG

  • Verity

    Yes, Euan, we know. But in the main, Britain operated by tribal communities. I am trying to make it simple for Americans without boring them to death with a history lesson. One is not going to win people’s attention by boring them to death. You, of all people, should have found this out by now.

  • Verity

    I see in today’s Telegraph, Freddie Sayers writes that according to polls: This year, only 36 per cent of British 15- to 24-year-olds have a “generally positive” view of the EU, as opposed to a negative view or no view; 57 per cent do not feel European at all.

  • Euan Gray

    One is not going to win people’s attention by boring them to death

    Nor will one do it by grossly exaggerating the facts.

    EG

  • Verity

    EG – It is extremely rude of you to lumber in trying to spoil a position just to show off how erudite you are. If you were arguing against me and FOR the EU, that would be fine, but just to come barging in to be a spoiler is rude and counterproductive.

    I am making the case for the destruction of the EU. No one in America cares about your erudite recitations of Scottish history.

    There is absolutely no point in contibuting to this blog if a silly, mischievous pedant is going to wreck every subject that people try to discuss.

  • Nomennovum

    Verity,

    Waallll, go-olly! I had had no idee us Americans was soooo stoopid! But yor raht, history is booring.

    (Please keep your posts as simple as possible, dear cousins; we will tolerate nothing less.)

    ;)

  • Verity

    I am assuming that any American who is not intimately acquainted with the detailed history of Scotland and England has failed to become so because he is not interested. In the same way that, broadly as I admire the United States, I have absolutely no interest in how or when Idaho, say, became a state and would not follow arguments that brought the requirement for a detailed knowledge of Idaho to the discussion.

    I was trying to present my arguments in a way that would capture your interest, not bore you to death. Or lose you after two sentences.

  • Nomennovum

    Verity,

    No need explain. No offense was taken. My use of the semicolon followed by the close-parenthesis thing-a-ma-jig was meant to denote the lack of seriousness of my post.

    When I’m really mad, I type in CAPITALS.

  • Anthony

    I have to admit that, even as an Englishman, I think the American system of government has a better foundation than our own. In a sense, I suppose, it is based on our own system, but the revolutionaries did a great job of reformulating it in an effort to to secure as much freedom as possible.

    Of course, the problem is that the US government now pays no attention to the constitution, or tries to interpret it out of existence. The commerce clause is a good example of this. Since anything can be linked to commerce in some convoluted and tenuous manner, that loophole has allowed the federal government to create laws that it simply was not intended to have the power to. The judiciary has, in theory, the power to end this, but it is politically impossible to declare 80% of Federal law unconstitutional.

    However, I think that the original ideas behind the system were somewhat better than our own, where parliament is sovereign and its powers unlimited.

  • The Last Toryboy

    What happened in the UK is that the Lords and Monarch have been so utterly undermined they can no longer effectively act in their constitutional role, and we now have an elective dictatorship.

    The Lords, even with both arms cut off, have consistently opposed illiberal measures. If the Commons listened to their complaints rather than brush them off and then treat them as a problem to be abolished, we’d have far better governance in this country. Thats how a mixed constitution, which in theory we are supposed to have, works.

    In a sense I suppose this parallels what is happening to the US, ie the constutional arrangements of the country being subverted over the decades.

  • Anthony

    That is something I always wonder at. It amuses me that the representatives of the “commoners” are continuously craving ever more illiberal measures, while the Lords appear to be the voice of reason. It seems to have turned out that the majority of people are far more interested in oppressing other sections of the populace than the Lords are.

    I think the combination of a hysterical media and a populist government have something to do with that…

  • quentin

    EFTA would be fine by me, as long as it is just that.

  • Verity, you might be surprised how much English history some of us Americans know (see Maitland, Cam and Macfarlane references in link).

    “…passively accept the EU since it’s there.” Never said this. Just want to know the program for containment, rollback or victory. I’m not seeing it. The enemy has all the initiative right now, that’s what I’m seeing.

    (I lied when I said I was done.)

  • Verity

    Well, Lexington, UKIP is having an effect on concentrating the minds of the Tories, although whether they will manage to yank their minds away from squabbling about their leadership, we do not know.

    One thing I am sure of: in its own inimicable way, Britain will leave. I wouldn’t have written this a year ago, but apparently even young adults, who have never known anything else but EU hegemony, don’t like it, feel no loyalty to it, and don’t feel “European”. Britain tends to do things on a wierd, ad hoc basis.

    BTW, I have said for three or four years that it has already been decided that the first (unelected) “president” of the EU will be Dominique de Villepin. Tony Blair was dreaming. It was never going to be him, no matter what they promised him. Dominique de Villepin, who has a lifetime of experience of not being elected, never having been so, to anything, is being advanced now for his grand role.

  • Euan Gray

    It is extremely rude of you to lumber in trying to spoil a position just to show off how erudite you are

    I feel no need to demostrate my erudition. However, I don’t like positions built on exaggerated and twisted facts.

    No one in America cares about your erudite recitations of Scottish history

    Actually, I never mentioned Scotland. Where did you get that from?

    There is absolutely no point in contibuting to this blog if a silly, mischievous pedant is going to wreck every subject that people try to discuss.

    You only say that because this is far from the first time you’ve been caught out like this. It’s not pedantic to expect a degree of honesty and reason in debate.

    Nobody is wrecking anything. If you wish to build positions based on distortion, exaggeration, hysteria and sometimes even downright mendacity, then bully for you – but don’t expect to get away with it unchallenged and don’t complain when someone does pick up on the more egregious distortions.

    EG

  • The Last Toryboy

    Well, the Lords are also lawyers and the like, people who have studied the constitution and take things like habeas corpus seriously and with respect. By definition they are more highbrow, less prone to populist measures, and as they dont need to win the next election look further than five years max ahead.

    Aristotle wrote a lot of stuff on what he considered to be good government – he maintained that there were three basic forms, monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, and that all three forms were prone to becoming corrupt (tyranny, oligarchy, mob rule), and that a good form of government would mix all three together so that the bad parts of each would cancel out. From what I read the US constitution and the British one both owe a lot to his writings.

  • Verity

    Euan – To my amazement, you are correct. You didn’t mention Scotland this time. (I must confess, I only skimmed over your post.)

    No, no. It’s not “the first time I’ve been caught out”. Everyone else has understood that I was using broad brush strokes to paint a picture that could be quickly understood in the context of a blog read, and contributed to, by busy people who weren’t interested in having a history lesson.

  • Verity

    What’s more, we have to get out before they get their cold, grasping hands on our N Sea oil, which has always been the intent. Once they’ve got their hands on it, we’ll have one hell of a job getting it back. Might start a war, in fact. Oooo-err! The military might of Europe!!!

    We can send British schoolchildren over to grab Dutch soldiers by the earrings and yank really hard! Ha ha ha ha ha! Our only worry would be France. RAF pilots would refuse to attack because they’ve all got holiday homes in the Languedoc. French pilots would refuse to attack because they do all their shopping in London.

  • Pete_London

    Anthony

    I have to admit that, even as an Englishman, I think the American system of government has a better foundation than our own.

    Britain’s system of government has been proven to be as fine as any over the past few centuries. One of its features has been its reliance on tradition and convention. There is nothing inherently superior or inferior in this compared to the American system but it does rely on restraint and a willingness to follow the rules in order to make it work as designed.

    In the hands of our current government of ignorant vandals and wreckers it’s a recipe for disaster. Even so, if we had a written constitution Blair would have had it changed. The hideous Human Rights Act is just a law, it can be repealed at any time by a sane Parliament. Blair would have had it written into a written constitution if one existed.

    Verity

    I don’t argument with anything you’ve said and agree that one day Britain will leave the EU. We simply must. Britain’s soul is incompatible with where the EU is (still) headed. In any case I don’t care about the EU or bringing about its end. Britain’s exit will do for me and that alone may be enough to bring it down. Once the cash cow has gone the EU will be left toothless.

    The Tories can do the nation a favour for once and hold its own night of the long knives on the Ken Clark Fan Club and the Quisling Right. It’s still the organisation most capable of giving a lead and dragging opinion in the right direction. In fact the momentum has long been that way in both Britain and across Europe but they’ve been too dumb to see it. Once they wake up and find their cahunas the game really will be afoot.

  • GCooper

    Pete_London writes:

    “The Tories can do the nation a favour for once and hold its own night of the long knives on the Ken Clark Fan Club and the Quisling Right.”

    On which subject, it was depressing to read today that ‘Tory moderates’ (for which read “Tories In Name Only”) are calling on Clarke to run.

    No doubt this will win a chorus of approval from many in the media, in addition to the Tory wets.

    If there are sufficient of the latter for there to be a cat in hell’s chance of having that old hail-fellow-well-met fraud back in power, I shall probably take out a life membership of the UKIP.

  • Verity

    Pete_London, I was most interested in the debate sections of The Telegraph and The Times. Except for maybe one person in each paper, everyone else – including lots of Europeans – said the jig’s up. The EU’s dead. Finished. Fini. Listo.

    What is astounding is how quickly it is going to crumble. It’s like the Berlin Wall. It’s already being pulled down by the citizenries, all of whom are saying the same thing: we want to govern ourselves. We like our neighbours, but we don’t want them interfering in our affairs. Like the Berlin Wall, it looked so permanent and forbidding, and now people are climbing all over it and laughing.

    You are correct that the traitor Blair would have written the Human Rights act into a constitution, if we had one. Wow! Things sometimes work out for the best, don’t they? And once he and the Za-NuLab functionaries are out, we can get rid of their placemen in the House of Lords and have it all elected. Maybe for a single term of 10 years, so kill the temptation for pandering.

    I would also like everyone elevated by Blair to be delordified. And Blair to be offered absolutely nothing. I do not want to see him running his consultancy in DC (I predict this is what he is going to do to turn a buck) as Lord Blair.

  • Stehpinkeln

    I find the foolishness of most posters here amusing.
    Alibertiarian is a Socialist with a checking account. If my voicing different opinions frightems you , then I will leave. There are over 2 million blogs, so It’s not as if there is anything here that I can’t find elsewhere. I keep coming back because I have you bookmarked. I can change that with a few mouse clicks.

    “You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.”
    -John Morley

  • On which subject, it was depressing to read today that ‘Tory moderates’ (for which read “Tories In Name Only”) are calling on Clarke to run.

    No doubt this will win a chorus of approval from many in the media, in addition to the Tory wets.

    This sounds remarkably similar to conservative Republicans’ response to any media discussion of a potential Sen. John McCain (RINO-Arizona) Presidential run. The media get all atwitter in his underwhelming presence because he has the “courage” to thwart the will of President and the people who elected him at every chance (at least, whenever a camera is present).

    I have read this discussion with interest since following Lexington’s link over from ChicagoBoyz. Personally, anything that gets Chirac a sock in the jaw is a good thing by me. As for British involvement in the EU, I completely understand not wanting to subvert your nation’s sovereignty to a foreign and unresponsive power. I hold dear the hope that the EU blows away on the wind as Verity intimates is already happening, but I have to give Lex the point that the best defense is a good offense. As the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared!”

  • Richard Easbey

    “Alibertiarian is a Socialist with a checking account.” [sic]…. hmm. While this would make a nice bumper sticker–best affixed to a Volkswagen van, c. 1973–it doesn’t really mean anything. Libertarians and socialists have NOTHING in common.

  • If the government in this country or the commission try to breathe life into this corpse, then we in Britain we must have a say to deliver the final blow.

    If the Tory MPs of this country try to breathe life into Ken Clarke’s corpse, then the electorate of Britain will surely deliver them the final blow.

  • Verity

    Wolfie is correct. If the Tories try to lumber the party with this europhile – who would have taken Britain into the euro! – they deserve to be put out of their misery. Never did the term “yesterday’s man” ring with more resonance.

    Can anyone suggest to me why he is being supported? Is it by Quislings who want to finish off the Tories? Is it MPs who are strangely out of touch? How could anyone think Kenneth Clarke would be an acceptable leader for the Tories? It beggars description.

  • GCooper

    Verity writes:

    “How could anyone think Kenneth Clarke would be an acceptable leader for the Tories? It beggars description.”

    It does, it does.

    The poor saps believe that the reason they failed to win the last couple of elections was because they weren’t sufficiently Left wing and that only a Leftist party can win the vote of the British electorate.

    Do they really believe that this is now a totally different nation than that which voted for Margaret Thatcher – and which was only dispossessed of her by a palace coup of TINOs?

  • Verity

    G Cooper, obviously, you’re right, but we have to bridge a great divide here: the electorate who are, by and large a conservatively oriented bunch of people and would like a nice, solid conservative – nothing too exciting – to vote for as leader, and …. the Tory party in Westminster who have had the shit scared out of them by a trickster and a fraud.

    The rest of the conservative heartlands (and this includes hundreds of thousands of “working/aspirational class” people, who are a traditionally a large tranche of the Conservative vote) were repelled by Carny Boy Tone and his shell games, and didn’t want to vote for a Tonewannabee. So the Tories, unable to wrap their minds round the fact that people who wanted Tony Bliar would have voted for him – du-uh – sought a wannabee Tony Bliar.

    Seriously, how much sense does this make? Ken and his coterie are all dismissive bluster and inclusiveness shit they could get from the shitmeister himself.

    Why do they think it’s normal not to offer the electorate an alternative view? This is what scares me about the Tories and leads me to think they’re finished. They’re frit. How disgusting.

  • Stehpinkeln, the ‘management’ here certainly never asked you to leave.

  • CRL

    Mild Tangent: Does this mean, most likely, that the pound is pretty much safe? (This particular American has long been baffled that any European nations, at least their citizenry, would want to give up their sovereignty, and has never been fooled into thinking that hundreds-of-pages-long monstrosity that legislated crazed minutae like the correct name of parmesan — cap or lowercase? oh the humanity — cheese, and daily removes the power of government and decision yet another step away from the actual governed people, was a good idea, whether it be called a constitution, a treaty, or My Dear Aunt Martha. Although I will admit that in my less-intellectual teenage years I held this opinion mainly because I found the french 100 franc-note pretty and was sorry to see it go.)

  • Euan Gray

    To my amazement, you are correct. You didn’t mention Scotland this time. (I must confess, I only skimmed over your post.)

    Then I’d venture to suggest that you read them properly in future before making glib and inaccurate judgement on them.

    Everyone else has understood that I was using broad brush strokes

    A 4″ tar brush, I’d think.

    to paint a picture that could be quickly understood

    Because it was simplistic, in bright primary colours and in all its essential points quite inaccurate and misleading.

    in the context of a blog read, and contributed to, by busy people who weren’t interested in having a history lesson

    It’s not about history lessons, it’s rather about just being honest and reasonable.

    What’s more, we have to get out before they get their cold, grasping hands on our N Sea oil, which has always been the intent

    Let them have it. There’s nothing much left and this year or next the UK will become a net importer of oil. The advantage of oil was gained in the 1980s, when it funded the restructuring of the economy. It doesn’t really mean anything in economic terms any more.

    The military might of Europe!!!

    Which is more impressive than your rather patronising comments suggest you think. France alone has a more capable navy and arguably a more capable air force than Britain. No, it’s not in the league of the US – but at present no-one is.

    Libertarians and socialists have NOTHING in common

    I don’t agree. There are many analogues between socialist and libertarian belief systems. Significant ones are: based on speculative theory aimed at bettering lot of man; downplays importance of real-world evidence for success or otherwise of theory; uses a flawed and inaccurate set of assumtpions about human behaviour; has a selective view of history and cherry-picks the bits that support the case whilst ignoring those that deny it; are quasi-religious in their devotion to dogma; have a defined set of class/interest enemies.

    True enough, libertarians are not socialists with chequebooks, but they are still Utopians, just like socialists.

    EG

  • Pete_London

    CRL

    Giving up the pound for the Euro is a seperate issue. The French and hopefully today the Dutch have killed off this particular constitution, though expect the EU to come back with another version or pass it via other treaties.

    Blair has committed to holding a referendum on the currency, if the government decide to push for adoption of the Euro. It’s a non-starter at the moment because Blair would lose that referendum heavily. Practically it’s dead but he could still go for it in the next few years.

  • Johnathan

    Euan Gray writes that France has a bigger and more capable airforce than Britain. Any chance of citing a source for that? It is news to me.

    Verity, you are wasting your time chiding EG. He wants to educate us simpleton “utopians” about the real world, bless his cotton socks.

  • Euan Gray ignore all the arguments often proffered here that in fact libertarianism is profoundly anti-utopian and based on a reasoned and evidence based distrust of the consequences of giving people power over other people. But I have learned long ago that it is pointless to argue with Euan as even if you could get him to concede a point (yeah, right), it all just resets after each discussion and next time it was as if the earlier discussions never happened, making it all rather pointless.

  • Euan Gray

    Euan Gray ignore all the arguments often proffered here that in fact libertarianism is profoundly anti-utopian and based on a reasoned and evidence based distrust of the consequences of giving people power over other people

    Because the arguments are wholly unconvincing, not backed up by practical evidence, logically contorted and often invalid, and based on a flawed view of humanity and the real world.

    even if you could get him to concede a point (yeah, right)

    You have to actually make and demonstrate the point to do this, you know. This doesn’t seem to happen often around here. Instead, libertarian nostrums are posited as if that were enough to settle the matter. It isn’t. Nor is internal logical proof enough to establish the case: libertarianism may be logical consistent and coherent, but so is Marxism. You need to try harder than that.

    EG

  • Euan Gray

    Euan Gray writes that France has a bigger and more capable airforce than Britain

    I suggest, then, that you read his comment again becase I didn’t say that at all.

    EG

  • GCooper

    Euan Gray writes:

    “France alone has a more capable navy and arguably a more capable air force than Britain.”

    Evidence, please.

    Or are you confusing size with capability? If so, you are in a poor position to be throwing stones at others about the accuracy of their comments and a lack of evidence to substantiate them.

  • You need to try harder than that.

    With you it is a waste of time. That you have been refuted time and again should be obvious to regular readers and the fact you do not recognise that is your problem. Feel free to fool yourself but I have no intention of pandering to you.

    I regard you as occasionally insightful but more often than not you are just a contrarian troll whose views are far less convincing than you seem to think they are. Most annoyingly (and the reason I usually ignore you these days) you seem to have great difficulty accepting that you have been answered and when the time has come to move on.

    Moreover you so often labour the point with 200 words when 50 would do.

  • Euan Gray

    That you have been refuted time and again should be obvious to regular readers

    “The creed says such-and-such, you don’t, therefore you are wrong” does NOT count as refutation. “Read the literature” does NOT count as reasoned argument. You make pronouncements based on the theory, but don’t when challenged bother explaining why these pronouncements don’t match reality. This doesn’t count as refutation either.

    you seem to have great difficulty accepting that you have been answered

    When I actually have been, I do accept it. Simply spouting the party line and pretending the difficult questions weren’t asked is NOT answering someone.

    Moreover you so often labour the point with 200 words when 50 would do

    50 will do if you want to just make a glib statement. 200 might be necessary when you want to explain why a statement is being made and why it describes reality better than another. I thought this was somewhere to discuss, not to simply exchange slogans.

    EG

  • Effra

    Euan Gray is one of the few reasons to read the comments. As he says, libertarianism has much in common with socialism, to which it arose as a reaction. Both constitute systematic denials of biology, history and common sense; both, like the proverbial stopped clock, are occasionally worth consulting.

    Mr Gray is also distinguished by his literacy, lucidity and verbal propriety, which is another reason why he stands out.