This was the question asked on the Guardian…
“How will the artist fare when The Ukip take over?”
And I was moved to reply thus:
Well if ‘the artist’ does something that people care enough about to pay for willingly (for example ‘the artist’ formerly and once again known as Prince…said to be not short a bob or two), then they will continue to do just fine.
But come the UKIP revolution, for the most part I imagine ‘the artist’ currently funding their decaf macchiatos by gnawing on the public teat, justly receiving money from the appropriately taxed philistine lumpen-proletariat (who inexplicably stay away from Ken Loach films in droves) … oh dear, I fear they may indeed have to get a real job. Oh the humanity! Damn you Farage! Damn you to hell!
Or more likely, ‘the artist’ will just find a different way to live off the forcibly appropriated money of others, of which the many and varied ways are always advertised in the Guardian.
Thus I council against despair. Indeed, after a challenging period of adjustment for the bourgeois left, I foresee ‘the artist’ eventually living happily ever after, regardless of the brutality of the Farage Brownshirts, by becoming a Diversity Enforcement Officer for some tier of local government.
Charges dropped against Spurs fans’ Yid chants, reports the Tottenham and Wood Green Journal.
About bloody time. The charges were more than usually malicious and absurd. The usual level of malice and absurdity is to pretend that certain syllables – called “racial insults” among the illuminati – are magic spells infused with the irresistible power to turn any mortal that hears them into a raging savage. It was the rare achievement of these charges to be crazier, nastier and more insulting to the intelligence and decency of ordinary people even than that.
As reported by the Jewish Chronicle, although by shamefully few of the other reports of the case, the men charged had said “Yid” not as an insult but as a way to cheer on their own team. All three men are Tottenham Hotspur supporters. They may be Jews themselves; I could not find a source that stated whether any of them are or not, but given that they are Spurs fans it could well be the case. I found an interesting article in Der Spiegel (no need to say the obvious) that gave a brief but clear explanation of this phenomenon:
Tottenham Hotspur’s Jewish background is similar to the Ajax [a Dutch football team] story. The north London club was popular among Jewish immigrants who settled in the East End in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. “The Spurs were more glamorous back then than the closer West Ham United or Arsenal,” says Anthony Clavane, a Jewish journalist with the tabloid Daily Mirror who published a book in August about how Jews have influenced the history of English football. Additionally, other northern London districts, such as Barnet, Hackney and Harrow, have traditionally been home to many Jews, which has also contributed to the Hotspur image.
So, for historical reasons the Tottenham Hotspur home stands sing of their own as the Yids, the Yiddos, or the Yid Army. For this it was proposed to put three men in jail. From the Jewish Chronicle link above,
Their arrests followed widespread debate late last year, after the Football Association issued guidelines in September announcing that fans chanting the word “Yid” could be liable to criminal prosecution.
The move caused anger among Spurs fans, who refer to themselves as the “Yid army” as well as the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust, which stressed that “when used in a footballing context by Tottenham supporters, there is no intent or desire to offend any member of the Jewish community” .
Following the example set by everyone from the Desert Rats to Niggaz Wit Attitude they have taken what was once an insult and turned it into a badge of honour. Tasteless? Possibly. Knowing nothing of the history of a Jewish link to Tottenham Hotspur FC, I recall once being shocked to see a blackboard outside a pub advertising a forthcoming match to be televised there as a contest between the “Yids” and whatever team were to oppose them. I mumbled an attempt at protest to a barmaid who had stepped outside for a fag. She didn’t know what I was talking about – in retrospect I’m not sure she even understood that “Yids” had any other meaning than a nickname for THFC – and I slunk off in embarrassment. One could certainly argue that it it is a poor memorial to the persecution and mass murder suffered by Jews over the centuries to make an insult used against them into a means to excite collective euphoria among people watching a game. But if you really want to contemplate great barbarities memorialised in plastic, turn your eyes to the attempts of the Crown Prosecution Service to charge Gary Whybrow, Sam Parsons, and Peter Ditchman with racial abuse, and smear them as anti-semites, for asserting the Jewish identity of their own team.
In the event that Scotland disregards my feelings and votes for independence, what currency would you recommend it use?
Opinions on this matter do not split neatly between Left and Right. Here are two of today’s articles on the subject; one from the Adam Smith Institute and one from the Guardian. A few days ago the pro-independence, pro-market campaign group “Wealthy Nation” republished this article from the Institute of Economic Affairs, recommending that Sterling be kept for the time being. It looks a serious piece, but it was written before the recent interventions by George Osborne and Manuel Barroso.
Commenters wishing to use words like “seignorage” are requested to give me warning first so that I can hide behind the sofa.
As I often like to say and to write, if I don’t regularly quote me, who else will? And once upon a time, I wrote (on page 4, left hand column, of this), in a paragraph about the many different ways there are to be an effective libertarian, this:
Or perhaps you contribute crucially to the cause simply by (a) calling yourself a libertarian when asked what you are but not otherwise, and (b) being a nice person in all other respects. By merely proving that libertarianism and decency can cohere in the same personality, you will be a walking advertisement for the cause, as I might not be.
Now I don’t want to accuse Frank Turner of regarding himself as a member of any sort of political team, any sort of promoter of a “cause”. He is first and last a musician and an artist, not “a libertarian”. But the more I learn about this man (and thanks to Google sending me emails whenever anyone mentions him I have been learning quite a lot about him lately), the more he strikes me as the living embodiment of the above notions. It’s not that he is incapable of arguing his political corner. Merely that, on the whole, he prefers not to, and just to get on with his work and his life.
Consider this Frank Turner interview piece by Anna Burn, published today by Cherwell.
Near the beginning, Burn writes of the “clear tension” between Turner’s “old, anarchist politics and his new libertarianism”. And at the end of her piece, she writes this:
“People have historically been quite rude about rock and roll as serious art,” he says. “To me rock and roll is proper art, but it’s also disposable art, it’s adolescent art. What’s great about rock and roll is that it’s music about being young and pissed on a beach and getting your first kiss and then dancing until dawn. Sometimes people want to make rock and roll into this high art and I love it because it’s low art. It’s almost a sort of Liechtenstien thing. It’s pop art.” He grins wryly, seeming pleased with the pun. “All my influences are rock and roll.”
And with that last declaration, we’re done. As we’ve been talking he’s been putting his coat back on so that he can dash down to catch a train to London and film his tribute to Pete Seeger for Newsnight. For a man who’s on his longest break from touring in seven years, he’s still remarkably busy, and yet he can still spare a few minutes to chat to a student newspaper.
As he runs down the stairs, I realise that this is why he is a true folk singer – he’s open to everyone prepared to engage with his work, and he makes it worth their effort.
Note the Pete Seeger reference. This is not a man who allows a thing like politics to get between him and an admired fellow musician. See also Billy Bragg.
Sometimes with journalists, the pressure to write a column, and extract some broader, or deeper meaning, from an event can lead the writer into places where, to be kind about it, does not work to their advantage. Let’s take the case of Peter Oborne, who writes about the recent melancholy state of the English cricket team (it was hammered 5-nil in the recent Ashes tour of Australia). One of the consequences of this has been the sacking of the England coach, and now, it seems, the dismissal of one of its most recognisable players, Kevin Pietersen. Pietersen, or KP as he is known, is one of a long line of players who were not actually born in the UK (he was born in South Africa) but, by various routes, got himself eligible to play for the English national side. (His mother was or is British, as far as I know).
KP is known for being both a flamboyant striker of a ball, a great run-getter, but also someone who is not, in some eyes, a perfect “team player”. Words like “selfish”, “maverick” and “egoistic” get thrown around a bit. (As a libertarian, none of these terms strike me as particularly bad, but they are usually thought of as terrible in polite society.)
Oborne muses about all this, and he has some credibility in writing about cricket. A few years ago, he produced a book about Basil D’oliveira, who played for England, was a non-white, and who, hence, had problems in trying to play in South Africa. His story is one of how sport and apartheid endured a particularly torrid relationship. So, in general, you’d think that Oborne would be above writing nationalistic, ugly stuff about sports and games. Well, what to make of this:
The early history of Test cricket runs parallel with the fall of empires and the rise of the modern nation state. Test matches started in the 19th century, the great age of nationalism. Sir Don Bradman, the greatest cricketer who ever lived, was the symbol of Australian self-assertion against the mother country.
Quite possibly. Although let’s not overdo it.
Sir Frank Worrell, the first permanent black captain of the West Indies, was a vital figure in the liberation movement that spread through the Caribbean in the post-war era. According to the historian Ramachundra Guha, “one can read the coming into being of the nation of Pakistan” through study of the life of the nation’s first Test captain, Abdul Hafeez Kardar. All of these great men saw cricket partly as a sport, but more importantly as a way of serving their country. Cricket as a means of making money did not come into it. For many of them it was also a system of ethics.
Maybe true, although “serving ones country” is not what playing a ball game is about for me. My terrible “selfish individualism”, I suppose.
At the heart of the game was a highly developed concept of fair play. Players were expected not to cheat – for instance to “walk” if they were out. The authority of the umpire was respected. It was axiomatic that the individual should subordinate himself and his talents to the team.
A golden age, truly it was.
This set of propositions was linked to a powerful vision of the social order. It was assumed that men and women of exceptional gifts would devote lives of service to their community rather than further their own interests. It was recognised that extraordinary talents came by the grace of God and were not a mark of individual virtue.
Your life is not your own. You must serve the Collective. Your talents aren’t yours – they belong to the Collective. Okay, our Peter’s just really warming up now. There’s more:
The underpinnings of this vision have weakened. Religion, with its essential teaching about the unimportance of self, is no longer the force it was. In economic terms, cricket at the top level has ceased to be a form of national service. It should be viewed as another branch of the global entertainment business, dependent for revenues on giant TV conglomerates such as Subhash Chandra’s Zee corporation and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Cricket was a form of national service. Ah, so it was like being made to wear a military uniform, being sent off to strange lands to kill people when you’d rather do all that selfish individualist, money-grubbing, Sun-reading stuff instead. It is now about evil entertainment, not the misery of standing in a hot field. Murdoch, corporations…….
Sir Frank Worrell, AH Kardar, Don Bradman and England’s Colin Cowdrey were all manifestations of the mid-20th-century nation state, and all the social and moral obligations that went with it. Kevin Pietersen is just as surely a manifestation of the unqualified victory of neo-liberal market economics over the past two or three decades. Neo-liberals have little time for social institutions, are contemptuous of national borders, and dogmatically advocate the free movements of capital and people. They regard community, place and nation as worthless superstitions. Above all, they place the individual first.
If you believe in liberty as many “neo” liberals are, then by definition, it is about the freedoms of individuals. That doesn’t mean that people cannot and do not voluntarily associate and create clubs, with rules and standards, and sometimes fall out with people whom they don’t like, such as KP. It not the case that liberals don’t understand or respect institutions so long as those institutions operate by consent and don’t use coercive force.
In so far as Kevin Pietersen has any nationality, he seems to be South African. He was born and bred in South Africa, speaks with a South African accent and made his first-class debut for a South African team. He emerged as a cricketer in the most wonderful moment in South African history, when apartheid had gone and the country was building a multi-racial national team. Pietersen wanted no part in this new world. He got out as soon as he could, claiming that the positive discrimination necessary to help black cricketers stood in his way. Lack of loyalty has been his hallmark in English cricket. He moved first to the county of Nottinghamshire, then Hampshire, now Surrey. In the England team he seems to have been the repeated cause of division and bitterness. Eighteen months ago, Pietersen shared a century partnership with James Taylor, a 22-year-old debutant, at Leeds. At the end of the session Pietersen walked off the field with the South African players, leaving Taylor on his own. It later emerged that Pietersen was sending text messages to his South African opponents. In these he is said to have mocked the England captain, Andrew Strauss. Strauss, and not Pietersen, quit in the wake of that episode – a black day for English cricket.
A right wanker, then. Should have stayed at home.
I would argue, therefore, that there are important lessons to be learnt from the Pietersen debacle. We can acknowledge that open borders and free movement of capital – the key conceptions of neo-liberalism – have brought great prosperity and a certain vitality to Britain over the past quarter century. There is no mainstream political party that would like to risk scaring away Goldman Sachs or Ford Motors.
Scaring away foreign investors? I dunno, maybe it might be a good thing to give up all that ghastly consumerism.
But the wealth brought by international capital can be intensely damaging. It drives up values of houses so that ordinary, hard-working people can be priced out of the market. The impact of globalisation, especially through immigration, can make some British citizens feel that they are living in communities that no longer belong to them in a political system that no longer listens to them.
Make your mind up Mr Oborne. So free trade/movement etc brings prosperity, but it also “intensely damaging”. All those foreigners with their funny accents and so on buying “our” homes. This is classic “fixed wealth fallacy” in action (there seems no awareness on his part that that argument might logically lead for calls for, say, a quarter of the UK population to be deported or killed so as to cut house prices).
What does it mean to be British? Who makes our laws? Who, indeed, do we want playing for our national sports teams? These are all very difficult and dangerous questions. Like most people, I am not confident about the answer. As someone who has followed and loved the England cricket team for nearly 50 years, one judgment is easy. The England selectors made exactly the right decision in dumping Pietersen for repeated selfishness and disloyalty this week.
Well, as far as Mr Oborne seems to be concerned, he doesn’t want anyone playing for England who hasn’t been born here, which I guess would have ruled out many a previous England player. They were clearly mercenaries, “neo-liberals” who failed to understand that playing a game of cricket should be seen in the same terms as, say, joining the Brigade of Guards.
These are all very” difficult and dangerous” questions. Oddly, by the logic of Mr Oborne’s argument, the hero of his book would not have been allowed to don an England cap or shirt, since, well, just how “British” was he?
For every type of crime there are false victims as well true ones, suggestible and forgetful witnesses as well as witnesses whose recall is accurate, scam artists digging for gold as well as honest people bravely speaking out to bring monsters to justice. The existence of cynical liars, fantasists, and well-meaning but tragically mistaken people is part of the human condition and always will be. That is why any half-way civilised society has trials and rules of evidence instead of just declaring people guilty or innocent by category.
Coronation Street star Bill Roache found not guilty of rape and assault, reports the Telegraph.
and in a separate article,
Bill Roache not guilty: high-stakes gamble backfires for CPS
Accusations that the Crown Prosecution Service has indulged in a “celebrity witch-hunt” gather strength as Coronation Street actor found not guilty of all charges
Public kept in the dark over ‘rogue’ charities, reports the Times. The story is behind a paywall, but I shall quote the first and most interesting paragraphs:
The names of more than a dozen charities suspected of serious abuse are being kept secret by the charity watchdog.
The identities of 13 charities placed under statutory inquiry during the past nine months have been withheld by the Charity Commission, preventing prospective donors from knowing about the allegations against them.
The inquiries are opened into charities suspected of only the most serious wrongdoing, including the financing of terrorism, tax avoidance, abuse of vulnerable people or other serious breaches of trust.
Emphasis added, with accompanying oaths. Has it come to this? That for a charity to arrange its affairs in a legal manner such that as much as possible of the donations it receives go to the cause the charity exists to help rather than to the government is to be classed with financing suicide bombings and stealing from the senile? Would it not be a breach of the donors’ trust to do anything other than practise tax avoidance?
From the genuinely scary opening sequence of Muppet Treasure Island…
Shiver my timbers, shiver my soul
Yo ho, heave-ho
There are men whose hearts are as black as coal
Yo ho, heave-ho
And they sailed their ship across the ocean blue
A bloodthirsty captain and a cutthroat crew.
It’s as dark a tale as was ever told
Of the lust for treasure and the love of gold…
Shiver my timbers, shiver my sides
Yo ho, heave-ho
There are hungers as strong as the wind and tides
Yo ho, heave-ho
In other news, Tim Yeo has got the old heave-ho. Deselected as a Conservative MP by his constituency party.
For those unfamiliar with “Green Trougher” Yeo, this old post by James Delingpole explains why we mustn’t laugh. There are indeed hungers as strong as the wind and tides.
Milder than a year ago (and my heating bill is lower as a result, which is nice), the UK winter has been associated with a long period of rain. Parts of the UK have suffered heavy flooding such as in the southwest, as in Somerset. The floods again raise the issue of what ought to be the way we deal with them. Absent any kind of powerful government, I guess one obvious response would be that insurance premia would reflect the risks of living in a flood plain, and so this would prompt responses such as people building homes in different ways – such as a modern form of “stilt,” maybe – and moving to higher ground, or encouraging some sort of collective, but voluntary effort to abate flooding risks, such as creating funds to pay to put levees on rivers, or dredge them regularly, etc.
We are where we are, however. And if you think a government has certain very basic, narrow responsibilities, defence – one of the core functions – should perhaps include defence against certain types of natural catastrophe, albeit not an open-ended commitment; such a move should also incentivise local efforts, rather than prevent them. Which is where the UK Environment Agency’s recent behaviour comes in.
In the Spectator Coffee House blog, Charles Moore weighs in with an article that argues that much of the problem is that the EA has, over the past couple of decades or so, changed its approach to flood control to one where it seems to believe in benign neglect. It is possible to see a form of environmentalistic anti-modern civilisation mindset at work here. No more arrogant Victorian attempts to tame nature by dredging rivers, pumping out water systems and the like. And Moore cites the views of a recent head of the EA, which I think gets to the heart of the change:
The Environment Agency’s opposition to dredging is reported, but not explained. Poor Chris Smith, the current chairman, gurgles inarticulately as if the floods were closing over his head. The answer, as with so much in the management of the environment, is ideological. Especially under its former chief executive, Lady Young of Old Scone and New Labour (I have made only half of that title up), the EA has seen human activity as the enemy. Lady Young has been quoted in Parliament as saying that she would like to place limpet mines on all the old pumping stations to get rid of them. If people are the problem, you wonder why the EA employs more than 11,000 of them. Without human intervention, the Somerset Levels would become an inland sea. Perhaps that is what the EA wants.
I think maybe that it is what the EA wants, not that such an organisation could perhaps say so bluntly lest it provoke so much public anger that its staff would be sacked and leadership replaced. But even if you don’t go in for conspiracy theories (and I don’t) you might wonder whether the ideological tilt of the EA fits with those who actually want such disasters not to be averted because it will be used as handy evidence of Man-made climate change. Pictures of vast floods across parts of the UK will, I can bet, be used by the alarmists to justify their arguments that Man is wrecking the climate and so we need yet more windmills and all the rest of it. Much easier to do that rather than go to the boring effort of dredging rivers and undertaking civil engineering projects to reduce the flooding risks in the first place.
Another thought that strikes me as if the EA really has taken some sort of policy switch and decided that old pumping stations should be destroyed or left idle, who exactly approved of this policy? Was there any public discussion of this? Who is, or should be, held accountable for it?
Meanwhile, here is an article by the founder of the Glastonbury Festival, who, I suspect, can see the commercially devastating impact of the EA’s position. And a similar call for change in the local media.
As Moore says, the EA has over 11,000 staff. It is about time that organisation began to become part of the solution of flooding risk, not an active and foolish contributor towards it.
For part of what passes for the chattering class in the UK, the idea that having “too much” wealth is so ingrained that it comes as a shock when the right to own as much property as one can in a free society is asserted. For example, I’d be willing to bet that most “liberals” these days (I use that word in its corrupted, American sense) take it as a given that the “rich” (chose your definition) should be taxed far more heavily, proportionately, than everyone else, in order to redistribute gains that, they assume, are in some way unjustly acquired. (The fixed wealth fallacy, as our own Brian Micklethwait pointed out many years ago.)
Recently, there have been signs of dissent at the idea of heavy tax burdens on the rich. London Mayor Boris Johnson recently had a pop at high tax rates, and others have done so. This appears to have got up the nose of Richard Godwin, who writes a column for London’s Evening Standard newspaper. In a model of superciliousness, bad logic and general asshattery, Godwin lets rip:
I’m considering jacking it all in to become an entrepreneur. I reckon I’ve got what it takes. Most of my thinking falls into the blue sky category. Box-wise, I’m generally outside. People ask me to give 100 per cent, I’m like: “How about 110 per cent?” They say it’s mathematically impossible to give 110 per cent. I say: “Impossible is not in my vocabulary.”
Okay matey, we get it. You are good at taking the piss. I’m impressed.
The only barrier between “me” and “entrepreneurship” is my salary. It’s currently under £150,000. I’m working on that, 110 per cent! But I wouldn’t be affected by Labour’s proposed 50p tax rate and, as I understand it, it’s only “entrepreneurs” who come in for such persecution.
You wouldn’t be affected by the tax rate. Maybe not directly; but the point is, if you generally let it be known that anyone who has the effrontery to be paid “too much” gets at least half his/her earnings confiscated at source, that has an impact. Look beyond your own little mental universe, Mr Godwin.
No sooner did Ed Balls announce his plans to increase the levy on the richest percentile than a familiar chorus began. “What did the wealth creators do to deserve this?” pleaded the CEOs of FTSE-listed companies and the inheritors of family wealth. “Won’t someone think of the entrepreneurs?” thundered Boris Johnson, calling for the top rate to be cut to 40p. For it seems the word “entrepreneur” has changed its definition. Even the Duke of York outed himself as one recently. Before the crash, it meant someone who started an enterprise, deriving from the French verb “to undertake”. It has come to mean something like “deserving rich”. It’s how the over-£150,000s reassure themselves that their wealth is the product of their genius and graft as opposed to a specific set of social and economic conditions.
Okay, sometimes terms get used loosely, but the underlying logic is nonetheless sound: if you hit high earners with high taxes, it means the point of taking big risks is blunted. Maybe not extinguished, but nonetheless, the impact is real. Mr Godwin might as well deny that as deny that the Earth orbits the Sun.
Now, I know quite a few people who fit the old definition of entrepreneur, who have “dreamt of a new product, or a new market, and then struggled to make it happen,” as Johnson put it. When they started their businesses, they had neither the means nor the inclination to withdraw a six-figure salary for themselves. They preferred to reinvest. Some of their companies have since become very successful. However, of all the complaints I have ever heard, income tax is not one of them. The banks’ reluctance to lend is a far more pressing concern.
Nope. First, a lot of businessmen and women don’t draw a big annual salary; their income stream is highly volatile: famine one year, feast the next. If, after several lean years of building up a business, they suddenly come good, and say, half of the rewards are confiscated in tax, then the preceding risk-taking and general graft looks less worthwhile than it might have done in a lower tax environment. Time-horizons come in to play here. To increase the willingess of people to invest long term, not just in financial terms, but in terms of time and effort, the logical approach is to reduce taxes overall.
By definition, those who pay the top rate are life’s winners already.
He’s got it the wrong way round. If you have high taxes, then the chances of becoming a winner are made worse; the point of taking risks to be a winner is blunted. In any event, people who earn high salaries typically make a lot of sacrifices to get there, in my experience.
That great enemy of entrepreneurship, Margaret Thatcher, set the top rate at 60p. As successive governments have cut that, the economy hasn’t magically grown. All that has happened is that fewer people have benefited from the growth. That’s not entrepreneurship — it’s self-interest.
She set it at 60 after cutting it from a crazy level of almost outright confiscation; towards the end of her time in office, it fell further to 40 per cent, as Mr Godwin should know. He’s trying to imply that Maggie was quite happy to see the top rate at 60p in the pound. She plainly wasn’t. And the economy has grown as the top rate came down; nothing magic about it. Despite the problems of the past few years, Britain is in many ways a more entrepreneurial country than it was when Mrs Thatcher gained power in 1979.
Last night, I was half listening, not watching, a repeat of the TV comedy quizz show “8 Out Of 10 Cats” on some late night digital channel like E4 or Pick TV or some such thing. And I heard a comedian called John Richardson having a go at Nick Clegg, the leader of Britain’s Liberal Democrat Party.
Richardson was sneering at the Lib Dem Conference of whatever year it was when this show first went out, because so many of the things said at it, said Richardson, were boring and banal and obvious.
As an example, Richardson cited a pronouncement proclaimed with great solemnity by Nick Clegg which went something like this:
“It is not enough for governments and politicians to stop bad things. We must do good things.”
Richardson’s complaint about this pronouncement was that it was banal and boring, but banal and boring because so obviously true.
But both Clegg and Richardson are wrong. The idea itself, as stated with such admirable clarity by Clegg, is anything but banal and boring. It is very, very bad. It is banal only in the sense that badness often is. And Richardson was wrong in objecting to it in the way that he did.
If governments and politicians the world over were to switch over to only stopping bad things and to abandon all attempts to do good things, the world would quickly – although admittedly only after a period of angry readjustment – become a massively better place.
Dominic Frisby, like John Richardson, is also a comedian, among other things. I especially like this rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas. And I could have imagined it, but I think I also heard Frisby’s voice last night doing a pre-sell in between programmes, for some future BBC programme involving Business Dragons. Frisby’s career as an entertainer and performer, in other words, is motoring along nicely.
But guess what. Politically, Dominic Frisby does not sail with the prevailing comedic wind.
I have been reading Frisby’s recently published book called Life After The State, which I learned about earlier this week when I attended at talk given by Frisby at the Institute of Economic Affairs. As I later discovered when I began reading his book, Frisby’s talk was pretty much a spoken version of the book’s Prologue , which you can read here.
The next chapter in Life After The State, immediately after that Prologue, tells the sad story of Glasgow’s decline from world super-city to basket case. Glasgow, Frisby makes clear, has been a continuous and epicentric maelstrom of government attempting to do good things, year after year, decade after decade, to try to reverse Glasgow’s decline from economic and industrial glory to drug-addled welfare-dependency. And Glasgow’s problems have just kept on getting worse and worse. “And”, because to everyone who has been paying proper attention to the last century and more of human history, this would not be a surprise. Much of of the rest of Britain has followed Glasgow’s lead, if that is the right word.
Says Frisby, in the concluding sentence of this chapter:
The best way for government to help people is not to.
I don’t think Cameron has conceded anything very much. The Lib Dems are not much farther to the left than he is personally and he would have a much harder time with his own party if he was not in a coalition. I think Cameron has done quite well by his own miserable standard.
Cable is just one of those people that think that the debate (was there one?) about the role of the state has been settled and that elections are just about replacing the management team.
- Samizdata commenter Peter T