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

I wanted to support the Daniel Hannan classical liberal faction within the Party as it (I hoped) took control.

I have been disappointed so far. The nature of the beast is still just as I remembered it and Teresa May – possessor of a second-rate mind untroubled by principle – is its archetype. I was a Conservative Party counting agent at my local authority elections this week and spent a few hours in the dejected company of candidates and volunteers in a solidly Labour London Borough. My impression was of a Party that sees Labour as the engine and itself as the brakes. Or perhaps more kindly Labour as the arsonists and itself as the Fire Brigade. No Marxist ever subscribed so thoroughly to his doctrine of “historical inevitability” as these people. A consumer regulator might usefully force both parties to change their names to the “Let’s Fuck it Up” and the “Let’s Fuck it Up More Slowly” Parties. The only encouragement I took from the evening was when I wandered off and mooched around the Labourites. My God, what an unappealing bunch they are, at least in London.

Tom Paine

31 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Runcie Balspune

    I just finished a history podcast episode covering the book Led By Lions that detailed the heroic efforts and ultimate sacrifices by some serving MPs (and their sons) during WW1 who actually went to the front lines. I also found this blog series on the same subject.

    A bit different from the leftist revisionism of “donkeys” – I’m looking at you, Ben Elton.

    To cap it all, even though MPs started to be paid just before the war, many were of a generation who served government without expecting a reward.

    There are few from our shoddy shower who’d dirty their hands picking up a weapon and killing fascists of any stripe, more so on the left who’d probably invite them in for a cuppa and a chat and charge it to the taxpayer to boot.

  • john in cheshire

    We have a vast swamp and it must be drained. The question is, who is going to appear on the scene to lead the draining?

    I’d love to live to see a day when our denizens of the deep swamp are captured and brought to justice as well as the indigenous traitors of our country.

  • AndrewWS

    In certain parts of London (and the author’s may be one of them) it’s not so much historical as demographic inevitability.

    I am also a Hannanite and joined the Tories (from Ukip) after May said she was going to go for Brexit. I, too, am finding it a rather dispiriting experience.

  • Sam Duncan

    “Teresa May – possessor of a second-rate mind untroubled by principle”

    Ain’t that the truth? (Although I’d argue that the likes of myself are second-rate; May is down somewhere around the lower teens.) Tom’s whole post is spot-on. And the frustrating part is that the Conservatives’ most successful period in recent memory was when they stopped being the socialist-fire brigade and decided to stand up for principles and ideas. As Tom points out (“I was not a “Tory” but a Thatcherite and was as utterly out of place in its ranks as she was”), they may not have been Tory ideas or principles, but they were a damned sight better than nothing, bumbling along offering the voters bribes of their own money, just marginally better arranged than Labour.

    As we can see right now. Oh, great: Corbyn’s mob of unrepentant Trots didn’t do as well in the local elections as they’d hoped and we’d feared. Isn’t that just dandy? They should have been bloody wiped out. And a Conservative Party worth its salt would have wiped them out. The Tories are coasting, and it just isn’t good enough.

  • Bulldog Drumond

    Who gives a fuck? Is that really an observation of importance?

  • Mr Ecks

    The Fish Faced Cow solves the spelling problem.

    That BluLabour are scum is a given. But hardly surprising since we have sat back and allowed the fucking Frankfurt School to infiltrate everywhere.

    We need leadership. There is plenty of hatred for the leftist scum running us all down. But the boss class are made of the same cloth as the enemy. They ARE the enemy.

  • >Who gives a fuck? Is that really an observation of importance?

    Of course it is. Teresa May is a porn star. Imagine the complications when your valet gets the two mixed up, old boy.

  • Sam Duncan

    “Teresa May is a porn star.”

    She’d probably make a better Prime Minister, too.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    “Teresa May is a porn star.”

    Well, at least that T. May is doing something of genuine value, providing goods and/or services which an economically-significant number of people want and are willing to pay for….

  • Bruce

    Beware wishing for “strong leadership”.

    You might just get it; good and hard and often, after you pass under the arch emblazoned, “Arbeit Macht Frei”.

    If the vast bulk of the “electorate” is utterly bereft of qualities of individual initiative and self control, there is little hope.

    If that “lack” is the result of generations of actively-enforced “policy”, there is even less hope.

    If individual initiative, “moral fibre” AND hope are systematically crushed by “strong leaders” as much as their “wanna-be” contenders, ALL HOPE IS LOST.

  • Regional

    Tom,
    Politicians are eff wits who can’t get a job in the real world and there is no epithet that can describe journalists and it’s always been the same, yet we’ve survived, go figure.

  • It’s all too fitting, given his pseudonym, that Tom Paine has just summed up American politics since about 1940.

  • Albion's Blue Front Door

    Socialism, for all its many flaws and continual errors, has somehow become the default position for politics. Thus we now have A Not Quite So Socialist party in office worried about The Stupidly Socialist Party making gains.

    Hard to see a time ahead when parliament stops arguing about how much each party loves subtle shades of Socialist ideals.

  • Paul Marks

    Sadly Mrs May (and so on) do seem themselves as just the break on socialism – they have no real alternative to it, because they were not taught any real anti socialist ideas at school or university and they have not gone out and read and thought for themselves.

    The are certainly NOT totalitarians like Mr Corbyn – but Mrs May and people like her do see the state (government spending and regulations) as the default response to all problems. Mrs May has always been quite open about that – after all “Radical Joe” Chamberlain is her political hero.

    “Then why did ordinary Conservatives vote for this leadership” – we did not vote for this leadership, we did not get a vote.

  • Bruce

    “Front Door”

    It all seems very “Pythonesque”; a bit like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVI5ZOT5QEM

    The horrible thing is that the punters pay for this madness TWICE; the cost of running the election and then the generally disheartening next few years. Rinse and repeat ad nauseum.

    Then, of course, there is the vast army of non-elected “civil / public” servants who apparently only become “accountable” if actually caught on camera with their hands in the till, or fondling someone “inappropriate”.

    Finally, there are the self-declared “opinion shapers” of the Lamestream Media.

  • A bit different from the leftist revisionism of “donkeys” – I’m looking at you, Ben Elton.

    Ben Elton is, admittedly, a complete arse, but variants of that quotation have been said of the British Army by various foreign types for nearly 200 years.

    The officers on the front-line during WWI (lieutenants and captains) were mostly well meaning, but naive and their views on the war changed dramatically between joining the Army and finishing their service. This was why there was such strong support for idealistic idiocies such as the League of Nations and Nazi appeasement.

    Even the Generals, such as Haig weren’t “Donkey’s” by any means, although they were both callous and high handed, seeing victory at any price, even over a mountain of corpses as being justified.

    This is one of the reasons that I am opposed to the power of the state, since such power inevitably gives rise to foreign adventurism and a desire by the elite to force their views on other sovereign countries.

  • *Donkeys* obviously…

  • It is not so much as wanting a”strong” leader as wanting a Leader with Conservative principles. I have given up on the joke tories pretending to be a government, as much use as a chocolate fireguard in a major fire. Their whole attitude shows contradictions every time they open their mouths. You know the sort of thing, we are short of energy capacity, so lets all have electric cars…and an electric train service! What planet are these people on, or is it the drugs.

  • CaptDMO

    From the U.S….
    “…Conservative Party counting agent at my local authority elections …”
    What would that mean, to those of us of the American dialect?
    I could ASSUME,…but, well, you know…..
    “Who gives a fuck? Is that really an observation of importance?”
    Only to the literate.

  • “…Conservative Party counting agent at my local authority elections …” What would that mean, to those of us of the American dialect? (CaptDMO, May 7, 2018 at 11:47 am)

    In the UK, each party can have (and the major ones usually make sure they do have) observers at each of the various vote-counting sites – to check the counting is done fairly. It means staying up overnight, like the counters and the candidates, till the count is done and signed-off. I assume this is what Tim Paine means.

    “Then why did ordinary Conservatives vote for this leadership” – we did not vote for this leadership, we did not get a vote. (Paul Marks, May 7, 2018 at 7:45 am)

    While we had key wins in 2016, one of the most important losses on this side of the pond was how the Tory parliamentary party managed to block a membership party vote for leader (the closest we ever come to a US primary, or I guess caucus would be the nearer term). We cannot even say it was all the fault of evil remoaners – without Gove turning on Boris, the remoaners would not have had their chance. But with Boris destroyed by Gove who also thus destroyed himself, and Leadsom then pressured to withdraw, the MPs avoided May having to face a party vote. (With Boris seeming to have gone native at the foreign office over the Iran deal, one is aware of the imperfections of that alternative scenario, but I think I’d still have preferred it to the one we have.) I guess Tim Paine is hanging in there partly in the hope that a party vote will happen before the next election.

  • James Strong

    Boris was not destroyed by Gove.
    It is not the case at all that Boris had an entitlement to the leadership, or even to have his candidacy unopposed by those from the same wing of the party as him.
    Gove stood for the leadership within the rules; Boris could have done the same. But he wimped out.

  • Rich Rostrom

    CaptDMO @ May 7, 2018 at 11:47 am:

    From the U.S….
    “…Conservative Party counting agent at my local authority elections …”
    What would that mean, to those of us of the American dialect?
    I could ASSUME,…but, well, you know…..

    Similar to a US “judge of election”, I think. (For those of the British dialect, “judges of election” are paid volunteers who operate the polling places and run the vote count after closing. I’ve done it off and on for about forty years.)

    Or perhaps a “poll watcher”. (In the US, someone representing a party, a candidate, or a referendum pro/anti group, who may stay in the polling place to observe voting during the day, and the counting/reporting process after closing.)

  • Bupo

    No change then over the last 50 years …

  • Neil R

    “…Conservative Party counting agent at my local authority elections …” What would that mean, to those of us of the American dialect? (CaptDMO, May 7, 2018 at 11:47 am)

    As others have said, Counting Agents are appointed by the candidates to observe the count. In practice (if they’re doing the job properly and not treating it as a social event) they will watch the ballot boxes being opened and ‘take’ (i.e. watch but don’t touch) a sample of the ballots to gain an insight into voting patterns across individual polling districts – smaller than wards or constituencies. Once the counting proper starts they’ll just scrutinise the counters and watch for errors – I was a candidate at a count on Friday and in another ward colleagues spotted some thirty votes had been put onto the wrong pile – had this stood then a seat would have been lost.

    Back to the topic – of course, had we a Conservative government rather than a not-Labour one then (local factors notwithstanding) those thirty votes might not have made such a difference – we’d have been many hundreds of votes ahead.

  • bobby b

    William H. Stoddard
    May 7, 2018 at 4:39 am

    “It’s all too fitting, given his pseudonym, that Tom Paine has just summed up American politics since about 1940.”

    Maybe semantics, but I was just thinking that he has summed up the current difference in US and GB politics.

    Paine said “My impression was of a Party that sees Labour as the engine and itself as the brakes.” In the USA, he could very well be speaking about the contra-Trumpian wing of the Republican Party – those “Conservatives” who continue to fight for a strange version of conservatism that encompasses larger government and more taxation, fighting to fund and control “conservative” social causes and wage their favored wars. These people are infuriated by Trump.

    There is also a wing of conservatism that has formed around Trump. This wing sees itself, not as the sea anchor trying to stem the tide of growing government, but as a force driving in the opposite direction and actively shrinking government power.

    GB has its Tories, and UKIP. In my USA-centric and imperfect view, UKIP started as the Cult of Farage – who was the most attention-getting voice in GB seeking to shrink government power and exit the EU. But the other main UKIP players seem to not have shared Farage’s priorities, and so when Farage ducked out, UKIP just naturally progressed back to what it was – one minor faction within the conservatives, which no longer seek goals outside of those sought by the Tories. It retains its Brexit wing, but it seems that wing has one focus only.

    So, what Paine sees as lacking in GB would seem to be present in the USA. I doubt it survives Trump’s first term, but there is progress to report so long as it exists.

  • shlomo maistre

    A consumer regulator might usefully force both parties to change their names to the “Let’s Fuck it Up” and the “Let’s Fuck it Up More Slowly” Parties.

    Hating the players instead of the game. As per usual. I believe someone once defined insanity as trying the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.

    Oh well.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Socialism, for all its many flaws and continual errors, has somehow become the default position for politics.

    This is unfortunately true. Whenever a Grenfell or Windrush style news story appears, no-one ever suggests the same bunch of idiots should never be let near other things. The public have been lulled into the acceptance that government should do and solve everything and if it fails, then “more government” is needed.

    In fact, even the more “extremist” forms of socialism are being whitewashed and are become acceptable, with the current shadow chancellor keen to show his little red book (of death and disaster) in parliament, to euro-trot Juncker and his eulogy of Marx, all looked over without a whisper despite the ongoing tragedy that is Venezuela and the acceptance of North Korea as “just another government” (albeit one that has cause the misery and suffering of millions for decades).

    A recent BBC programme called “Secret Agent Selection” has put candidates through to SOE training of WW2, one is a Polish lady who, when introduced to radio operation lessons became quite upset, simply because her grandfather was a radio operator with the Polish resistance and had been captured and killed, the fact this was at the hands of the Soviets (when the whole programme was about defeating the Nazis) was just skipped over.

    Very slowly, as people forget the excesses of the hard left, or those too young to have experienced it, this kind of “friendly socialism” is making a comeback, and it is indeed worrying, not least because the spineless Blairite morons don’t want to lose their seat and rebel.

  • Paul Marks

    No John Galt – it was not that General Haig and his man General Gough were just not just people who aimed at victory at any price, they were BAD COMMANDERS who almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Remember the Allies had a vast superiority in both men and resources over the Central Powers – the war lasted so long and was so bloody PARTLY because many Allied Generals (including both Haig and Gough) were NO GOOD.

    Military incompetence was extreme in both the Russian and French Army (as was made horribly obvious in 1914), but the British Army was not much better. Haig panicked in 1914 (if he had been in charge the war would have been lost there and then – see Max Hastings on this), Haig made terrible blunders in 1915 (which he falsely blamed on his Commanding Officer – in an political influence operation to get his Commanding Officer’s job), his offensive in 1916 was a disaster (and the only officers sent home in disgrace were those officers who ordered them men to take cover when they realised the operation was a vast SUICIDE attack), his offensive in 1917 was another disaster (in which Haig ignored all expert advice), in early 1918 Haig and Gough failed again, and in late 1918 Gough was gone and Haig (contrary to the lies pushed by himself and his supporters) was largely out of the loop when it came to tactical decisions.

    Some Generals improved over time – Rawlinson did (the butcher of 1916 had become competent by late 1918) and so did the Canadian Currie, and some Generals were taken from the Western front to areas that better suited them – people who only know General Allenby from his great victories in the war-of-movement in the Middle East are shocked by his poor performance on the Western Front (an environment that ran contrary to his aggressive character). But Haig (and Gough) was the same mixture of ignorance and arrogance in 1918 that he was in 1914 – his one supreme ability remained in political intrigue (which he pretended to despise) and office politics – making sure the official histories and documents would present him as the competent General he was NOT.

    Of course even Haig looks competent compared to the military people send to command the operation to force the narrows and take Constantinople in 1915. They really were a shower of shit – no apologies for bad language, they deserve it.

    The First World War exposed horrible weaknesses in the British military – perhaps in British CULTURE. Even given straightforward (not easy – but not wildly difficult either) tasks, the British military managed to fail (not always – but very often) and the commanders who failed were rarely punished – instead the blame went not to the “the professionals” but to people who were NOT in command.

    The cult of the “public servant” the “professional” was already very firmly in place by 1914 – the rule of the “educated”. And Prime Minister May is very much part of that.

    There is a vast difference between fake “professionalism” (putting on a front, acting a role – like Haig) and REAL professionalism. A real professional studies their profession – they LEARN.

    Will the Prime Minister learn? I doubt it – as British culture is a matter of following certain procedures (box ticking). What Germans call “mission command” (being given a task and working out for yourself how to ACHIEVE that task) does not matter here.

    Malayia and Singapore in 1941 to 1942 – that is our culture, everyone following the “correct” bureaucratic procedures and LOSING. And no one taking any real personal responsibility.

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  • […] Perry de Havilland at Samizdata, there’s a rather long quote by Tom Paine wherein he characterizes the Labour Party and […]

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