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Happy New Year!

Happy new decade!

I enjoy, albeit with trepidation at times, looking back at the decades I’ve lived through and charting the change from beginning to end.

O tempora, o mores!

1960s

In 1960, growing up in the United States, I remember that things were still quite formal. Most people took care in the way they spoke and in their appearance. They were careful to conduct their households in a respectable manner. By the middle of the decade, that began to change but not too noticeably.

By 1968, a social revolution was underway, including sexually. What was once private became public. Attire reflected that. Women began wearing skirts above the knee. Men’s clothes became more form-fitting.

Sloppiness and drugs became fashionable with the advent of hippies. Even though they were a small minority, they received a lot of media coverage. A slogan connected with them — ‘If it feels good, do it’ — began to pervade society at large.

Cinema and television reflected this change.

At home, Americans moved from watching westerns to tuning into a zany comedy hour. In 1960, Gunsmoke was the most viewed programme. In 1969, it was Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Gunsmoke had moved to sixth place in the Nielsen ratings.

Film genres and themes also shifted. In 1960, the great epics were popular, with Spartacus the highest grossing film and Exodus coming third. Psycho was second. In 1969, while Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was in the top slot, Midnight Cowboy was at No. 3, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice was No. 6 and an X-rated movie, I Am Curious (Yellow) was No. 12. It would have been unthinkable in 1960 that an urban drama about homosexuality, a movie about swingers and one that was pornographic would have been so popular nine years later.

1970s

The cultural shift continued in the 1970s. American magazines and newspapers devoted many column inches to social drop-outs experimenting with communal living. Swingers were becoming popular in suburbia. Again, those were two small sub-groups of society, but everyone — even the most respectable — knew about these two phenomena.

Pop music got bolder, more sexualised. I remember in high school that we talked a lot about sex and could hardly wait to start dating so that we could experiment. Our parents wondered what was wrong with us. The idea of sin and the forbidden went out the window. ‘If it feels good, do it’ had spread to the middle classes. Previously forbidden carnal acts were encouraged as being completely ‘natural’. This furthered the evolution of a shame-free society. Today, I read that some teenagers don’t kiss on a first date; instead they engage in oral sex.

Interestingly, one of the most suggestive singers of the decade, Eric Carmen of the Raspberries, laments where this has led today:

I remember neighbours of ours getting divorced. The wife said that she could earn her own living now, thank you very much. The husband was heartbroken. We felt sorry for their two children. Until then, my family and I personally did not know any couples who got divorced. It just didn’t happen to everyday individuals. However, divorce rates continued to rise and, these days, no one bats an eyelid.

More women started working. What began as a liberating elective would turn out to be a mandatory means of survival in marriage in the years that followed. Few of us knew that then, though.

Returning to music, it was a great decade for youngsters. FM radio produced rather excellent stations devoted to little known genres that never reached Top 40 AM stations. Through them, we discovered prog rock from Britain: Yes, Rick Wakeman, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, to name but three musical greats. There were many more, too numerous to mention here.

Near the end of the decade we had disco. Saturday Night Fever was a huge box office hit and propelled John Travolta from television (Welcome Back Kotter) to cinema fame.

The most popular television sitcoms, such as Welcome Back Kotter, were all set in metropolitan areas. In terms of television in general, The Waltons was probably the only show with a rural setting.

Halfway through the decade, I spent a year in France, which was much quieter than the US socially and still quite formal, even though the more leftist state university students were generally unkempt and unwashed. In many respects, the country was a bridge between the 1960s and the 1970s in the nicest possible way.

1980s

Leaving university, I recall that many of my friends latched onto the Reagan zeitgeist and became conservatives.

They turned into their parents and lost the fun-loving verve they once had. I stayed single the longest, so was more acutely aware of a shift into respectability and suburban living.

I lived in a major US city then, earning my own way in life. For relaxation, I used to go to matinees at the weekend. The price of admission was cheaper and the cinemas were nearly empty, giving me the impression I had the big screen all to myself.

I saw a lot of world films in the first part of that decade, some from Brazil and Australia but mostly Britain and France. French film became a passion. Even one of the UHF television channels showed French films from the 1950s. Bliss.

As far as music was concerned, my favourite FM station played British and European singles apart from reggae on Sunday afternoons. More bliss.

Then, around 1986, something began to change. Although my favourite radio station stayed the same, the movie theatres weren’t showing as many foreign films. Within a couple of years, they stopped showing them altogether. One of my lifelines had vanished, sadly. The American films that replaced them were not very good, either, so I stopped going to the cinema.

Everything became very one-dimensional. America, somehow, had lost the link with the zeitgeist of European culture, which it never recovered. It used to be that people in the 1960s and early 1970s made a two- or three-week trip to western Europe to see the historic sites they learned about in school. It was what we today would call a bucket list item.

Fortunately, by the end of the decade, employment events intervened — and further improved — for me.

1990s

Living in England, I realised that I had an insatiable appetite for history and politics. I learned a lot about both thanks to a gift subscription to The Spectator, which I had read about in English lit class in high school. It’s been around since 1828.

In 1990s, my in-laws told me that Margaret Thatcher’s time was up. She had become too full of herself. We had high hopes for John Major.

I remember the 1992 election, which Major won handily. I could not understand the rage of my female colleagues who expected Neil Kinnock to win. They stayed up all night drinking, waiting for a Labour government that never came. The next day, at work, they were hungover, tearful — and, above all, angry. Why did they think he stood a chance? Perhaps I had been reading too much of The Spectator, but I had no doubt that Major would continue as Prime Minister.

By 1997, most of us felt change was needed. The Conservative MPs on the front bench seemed like tired, bloated bureaucrats. None of them had an original idea. Most seemed to be lining their own pockets. I was most consterned by Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley, who started closing A&E (Accident and Emergency) services at local hospitals. What was she thinking?

When Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997, nearly everyone I knew rejoiced. Change was coming.

And how …

2000s

The first few years of Labour were fine. I was enjoying my work too much to pay any attention.

By 2005, I longed for a Conservative government, especially when Gordon Brown became PM with no general election.

After that, Labour became unbearable, banging on about people’s personal lives and habits. The smoking ban came into force in the summer of 2007. Ministers assured us in television interviews that private members clubs and hotels would be exempt. No, not at all. It was a blanket ban everywhere.

It was during this decade that London elected its first mayor, Ken Livingstone. He served two terms and introduced the city-wide congestion charge for motor vehicles, which we called the Kengestion Charge. My colleagues at the time reminded me that, as head of the old GLA (Greater London Authority), he was known as Red Ken.

Boris Johnson succeeded him, also serving two terms. His administration made the streets tidy again and also lowered crime.

By 2006, I started looking more closely at the EU and the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels who seemed to rule our lives. I agreed with those disgruntled Britons who wanted a referendum on our membership.

Most of all, however, I was sick and tired of Labour, to the point of despair.

I also asked my far better half to cancel my gift subscription to the The Spectator, as it had changed its editorial line considerably after Boris Johnson left as editor. Although more people now read it, it is a former shadow of itself. I would not call it neither conservative nor traditional at all any more.

2010s

Hope came in the May 2010 general election.

The Conservatives had to form a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats. It was the David Cameron and Nick Clegg Show, but at least Labour were out of the picture after 13 years.

David Cameron referred to himself as the ‘heir to Blair’. It took me some time to see it, but he was not wrong.

He set out to reform the Conservative Party and alienated older, faithful members in their local associations. CCHQ suddenly did not need their help.

On a broader level, Cameron will probably be best remembered for opening up marriage to same-sex couples and for offering us the EU referendum, billed by all parties as a ‘once in a lifetime’ choice which they all pledged to implement.

A number of televised debates took place in 2016. I watched them all. Some of my friends were less than convinced by the Leave proposition. The one clincher was Brexit The Movie, which is an hour-long eye-opener about the Brussels gravy train and better than any of the debates, no matter how good:

I stayed up until the early hours of the morning of Friday, June 24, 2016 to watch the result. When it was clear that Leave had won, I went to bed. The next day, my far better half and I woke up to Cameron resigning because he did not like the result. We had a celebratory lunch in London and went to a party that evening that had been planned months earlier. I remember the apprehension we both felt about sounding out the other party guests as to their views on the EU. We later discovered that were not alone. Finally, someone there broke the ice upon his arrival by exclaiming:

Is everybody HAPPY? I certainly am!

At that point, we were free to talk about Brexit.

Theresa May became Prime Minister later that summer.

Across the pond, another sea change was happening: Donald Trump’s candidacy. It was even more of a shock when he won. A startled nation awoke to find that Hillary Clinton was not their president.

The conflicts about Brexit and Trump continue today. Opponents to both have grown ever more vehement.

On September 20, 2019, the British website Spiked issued a thought-provoking documentary on Trump and Brexit. It’s 26-minutes long and well worth watching. To cover Brexit, their reporters interviewed residents of Southend-on-Sea in Essex. To cover the Trump phenomenon, they interviewed Pennsylvania journalist Salena Zito and residents of Erie, which was once a major industrial powerhouse in that state. It has fallen on very hard times, indeed:

The major theme running through both is, as they put it, ‘change’, which I believe they should have called ‘self determination’ and ‘recovering the aspirational dream’.

One thing that struck me was the interview with the owner of a gym in Erie. He said that his father raised seven children on a janitor’s salary:

You couldn’t do that now.

Too right. Both parents now have to work — unlike in the 1960s — and few households can support more than two or three children.

People in Britain and the United States want to work and save more of their hard-earned cash. They also want good job opportunities for their children.

A fisherman in Southend said that, because of EU rules, he is restricted to an ever-smaller part of waters in which to fish. The number of fishing boats has continued to decline, he added, and the number of fisherman has also dropped dramatically. That is why he, and many others in Southend, voted Leave in 2016.

The decade closed with Boris Johnson’s landslide victory on December 12. Historian David Starkey explores what this means for the nation in this 57-minute documentary from The Sun, ably conducted by a young reporter:

Starkey explores the evolution of Parliament since Victorian times, when it became the institution we know today. As many Northern constituencies flipped from Labour to Conservative, Starkey says that Boris’s pledge to revitalise the North will mean little unless he espouses their values of patriotism, which, he says, has been a dirty word for many years.

He says that Boris could well become a figure like Charles II, who restored the monarchy beginning in 1660. Many of their personality traits are similar, he notes, particularly their penchant for bringing a nation together and reforming it at the same time. It is well worth watching when you have the opportunity.

There is much more to Starkey’s interview than summarised here. He talks about the people of the North, Labour, Jeremy Corbyn, David Cameron, Tony Blair and, significantly, Benjamin Disraeli. Starkey hopes that the PM will study his Victorian predecessor’s successes closely.

With that, I must close for now. There are many developments over the past 60 years that I have not mentioned. This is merely to give an idea about the direction that Western society took as the decades rolled on.

Welcome to 2020. Let’s hope it brings many good tidings. I wish all of us the very best.

The Guardian front page, first edition, May 8, 2015On April 28, I wrote about the UK’s general election, which was held on May 7, 2015.

After endless months of polls showing the two main parties, the Conservatives and Labour, either neck and neck or with a difference of three percentage points, election night television coverage showed a remarkable exit poll that defied belief. The Conservatives — Tories — were set to win comfortably.

The Conservatives had been in a Coalition government with the Liberal Democrats for the past five years. Although it worked very well, clearly, Prime Minister David Cameron had hoped to govern independently this time around. But no one, except Australian campaign manager Lynton Crosby with his private polling, thought that would become reality. Probably only Chancellor George Osborne believed Crosby’s polls as he was the only upbeat Tory. Everyone else was quietly cautious.

Even the most accurate poll — the exit poll — slightly underestimated the final total. The Conservatives won a clear majority of seats, surpassing the magic number of 326 to end up with 331!

Interestingly, all the party leaders gathered at the Cenotaph the afternoon of May 8, for a memorial service marking the 70th anniversary of VE Day. That is the last time we shall ever see them together.

Obamarama

Americans might be interested to know that Obama campaign strategists played a role in this very British election.

Miliband hired David Axelrod as his campaign adviser and Cameron took on Jim Messina as his.

Success bred success — in one case.

Historic defeats

The IndependantThe 2015 election will long be remembered for unthinkable defeats:

– The Scottish Labour Party was routed north of the border by the Scottish National Party (SNP). Even their leader, Jim Murphy, lost his Parliamentary seat. Murphy has not resigned from SLP leadership.

– The Liberal Democrats were wiped out in England and Scotland, going from 56 seats to … eight. Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the second most powerful man in Britain from 2010 to 2015, stood down as his party’s leader the morning of May 8. At least he held onto his Sheffield Hallam seat. It was rumoured in the days immediately before the election that Tories there were planning on voting for him just to keep out Labour.

– Big — longstanding — MPs lost their seats. One was Liberal Democrat Vince Cable for Twickenham, west of London. The most notable was Labour shadow Chancellor Ed Balls who lost to a Conservative in the West Yorkshire constituency of Morley and Outwood!

– Labour leader Ed Miliband, although winning re-election to his constituency, stood down as party leader at lunchtime on May 8.

– Spoiler party UKIP experienced an increase in votes, however, in the end, they only won one seat, Douglas Carswell’s Clacton in Essex. Party leader Nigel Farage lost his bid for Thanet South in Kent to a Conservative. Farage announced his resignation soon after the result but said he might be back in the autumn after taking a break.

England speaks

Metro second editionEveryone is examining how the Conservatives did so well.

It seems as if the English were able to speak up in the privacy of the polling booth.

The English are not allowed a voice at any other time unless they deprecate their own country and people.

However, the silent majority finally had their say — and how!

The threat of a Labour government working hand in hand with 50+ SNP MPs finally got through to the English. Ed Miliband mooted a Mansion Tax for those with houses worth £2m and upwards. He also wanted to put a stone monument with the main Labour manifesto points in the garden of No. 10 Downing Street, which many of us thought was very strange, indeed.

The Daily Mail reported (emphases mine):

It was the idea of Torsten Henricson-Bell, 32, the director of policy. A former Treasury economist, he wanted a version of Tony Blair’s pledge card which worked so well for Labour in the 1997 election.

‚ÄėTorsten thought we were not getting our policy ideas across, so he persuaded Ed to do the stone,‚Äô said another Labour insider.

Axelrod, on a rare trip to London, enthusiastically signed off on the hubristic monument, having long championed the idea in the US of enshrining policy ideas in ‚Äėstone tablets‚Äô. Tom Baldwin, one of Miliband‚Äôs media advisers, was also keen.

‚ÄėHe was like an excitable puppy dog scampering around the newspaper offices, boasting that Labour was going to unveil a brilliant new idea that would be a huge vote winner,‚Äô said another source.

Miliband also has no love of England or the English. His physical presence is uncommanding making it difficult, if not embarrassing, to imagine him on the world stage. He was rumoured to admire French president Fran√ßois Hollande’s policies, which are turning out to be a nightmare economically and socially.

Most importantly, we had not forgotten the 13 years of Labour government from 1997 to 2010 which put the country on a weak footing both economically and socially. No one wanted a repeat of that, especially so soon.

Two telling comments from Telegraph readers express what many of us thought. Note the mention of queues at the polling stations:

peterl: I live in David Cameron’s constituency and like many I thought that Ed Miliband would be walking up Downing Street (a thought that made me sick to my stomach), that is until Thursday morning when I went to vote. Normally you can just walk in, register and vote within 5 minutes but on Thursday there was a half an hour queue out of the Town Hall door and my wife found it the same later on that afternoon.

It was pretty clear to me then that the ‘English were speaking now’ and the subsequent exit polls declared at 10pm were not a surprise.

hawthorn: Your experience mirrors mine almost exactly. I don’t live in that constituency, but I had just the same sickening feeling about Miliband. Then I got to the polling station and had to queue! Even if just for a short time, I remarked on returning home that I had never before had to do this. And I wondered…..

Left-wing bias

As in other Western countries, British media is very much left-wing.

There are very few commentators and pundits who conduct balanced interviews and present their opinions impartially. The BBC is the worst offender. ITV, on the other hand, does an excellent job of overall analysis. SpouseMouse and I watched their coverage on election night and the following day with the briefest of check-ins at the Beeb.

And, contrary to what hardcore leftists say, there is no ‘Tory media’. Even the Daily Mail and The Telegraph have a lot of journalists openly critical of the Conservative Party.

Election campaign commentary nearly everywhere largely revolved around David Cameron losing his career on May 7. However, by the middle of last week, several endorsements went to the Coalition or the Conservatives. Rupert Murdoch’s papers played a blinder. In the UK, The Sun openly endorsed David Cameron and, in Scotland, the Scottish Sun came out for the SNP!

At least The Telegraph‘s James Kirkup had the good sense to apologise to his readers (emphases in the original):

This is the confession of a political journalist. I get paid to know about politics, to explain politics and yes, to predict politics. On this general election, I failed. I got it wrong. I didn’t see this result coming.

The same is true of a lot of people, but that’s neither excuse nor justification. My job is to tell the people who read me things that will leave them better-informed about the subject at hand. And I didn’t do that job as well as I could have done.

That makes me sad, but happy too. I hope you‚Äôll allow me a minute to explain some of that, and to apologise …

That was based partly on reading opinion polls, something that’s now clearly shown to be an error. Some of it was based on talking to Conservatives in all parts and levels of the party, from Cabinet ministers to party staff, from MPs in rock solid seats to those in marginals. Almost of them predicted that the party would suffer net losses. 

Overall, I doubted whether the party‚Äôs general election strategy could deliver the majority David Cameron now enjoys …

All of this led to me to write about the Conservative campaign more harshly … But again, that‚Äôs irrelevant now. The people who ran the Tory campaign have been vindicated. And I was wrong.¬†

The BBC could not bring themselves to discuss Ed Miliband’s failure and David Cameron’s triumph. They spent a lot of time on Scotland in the election result coverage and were still banging on about the SNP victory in the evening news on May 8. They gave David Cameron brief coverage lasting only a few minutes.

The endless and inaccurate polls

This year, British pollsters went American-style, much to the disappointment of the English.

We had frequent polling from various organisations every week. They showed the same results with insignificant fluctuations. All were wrong.

The only one which turned out to be right was the exit poll commissioned by¬†the BBC, ITN and Sky. This is because it was done by a handful of specialists overseen by John Curtice, the UK’s foremost psephologist. If Curtice didn’t think the permutations from the various data drops during the day fit, the numbers had to be redone for accuracy.

As far as the other polls go, thankfully, the British Polling Council is launching an independent enquiry to examine how and why they were so inaccurate. YouGov’s Peter Kellner blamed everyone but himself and his organisation:

… ‚ÄúWhat seems to have gone wrong is that people have said one thing and they did something else in the ballot box.‚ÄĚ

… “We are not as far out as we were in 1992, not that that is a great commendation.”

But he blamed politicians for relying too heavily on polling data during their campaigns and said they should instead concentrate on standing on a platform of what they believe in.

However, as Kellner knows, the fact of the matter is that polls do generally shape not only a campaign but also the final result.

Number Cruncher Politics has an excellent analysis of the 2015 polling and ‘shy Tories’. Anyone interested in surveys and polling will wish to read all of it. Ultimately:

Most predictions of election results make the assumption (implicitly, perhaps) that polls are unbiased. But the implications of of this are far from being merely psephological, they are also political. They drive the narrative and set the tone. Parties have ousted their leaders based on poll ratings.

But (emphases mine):

  • Opinion polls at British general elections are usually biased against the Conservatives and in favour of Labour. In 10 of the last 12 elections, the Conservative vote share has been underestimated and in 9 of the last 12, Labour‚Äôs share has been overestimated. The spread between the two has been biased in Labour‚Äôs favour in 9 of the last 12 elections, including 5 of the last 6 …
  • Every one of the 16 opinion polls with a comparable election in the last two years has seen a pro-Labour bias in terms of the spread. This has closely matched the period during which the Labour lead was falling.

Whilst polling organisations are continually updating their models to adjust for bias, it seems as if they inherently favour Labour.

A Telegraph article noted this loud and clear:

They subscribed to an inherent Left-of-centre bias that infects much of the public discourse in this country and embraces a set of values that are simply not shared by most people. Whether they are sitting in the news rooms of the BBC or the so-called liberal media, they simply fail to understand that this quiet ‚Äúsmall c‚ÄĚ conservatism constitutes a majority in Britain and always has, even if it manifests itself in different ways.

What happens now?

David Cameron took Ed Miliband’s ‘One Nation’ slogan and made it his own when he spoke on the afternoon of May 8 after visiting the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

He was careful to reassure the Scots about fuller devolution and pledged to achieve this as quickly as possible. He also addressed the concerns of Labour voters in summarising his health and education plans and accomplishments thus far.

Cameron must also make good on his second promise for a referendum of Britain’s membership in the EU. A minority of voters upset with his reneging on a ‘cast-iron’ promise for a referendum several years ago became UKIP supporters. Those Eurosceptics still supporting the Conservatives were able to forgive Cameron once but will certainly hope he will make good on his second pledge for a referendum by 2017.

In short, he will have a challenging time. However, he has the full support of his Chancellor George Osborne who is now also First Secretary of State. This may imply that Osborne is in line to become the next leader of the Conservative Party for the 2020 election. And to think I heard many over a decade ago describe Osborne as weak and simplistic. People do mature and become wiser. Osborne has done an outstanding job as Chancellor, given his relative youth (compared to mine and that of his critics).

Whatever happens, expect stability.

I do not often agree with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, a Liberal Democrat, so this is a rare occasion.

Much hullabaloo has been made since Drummer Lee Rigby’s death about the need for government and citizens to spy on the average man on the street.

Of course, it is not worded as such, but, in effect, that is what it means. Billed as a fight against terrorism, the Snooper’s Charter — if approved — would invade every last oasis of privacy we have in Britain. And it would be sure to affect the English more than anyone else on this Sceptred Isle.

On May 30, this is what Nick Clegg told LBC (talk radio) listeners (emphases mine):

Nick Clegg has warned against “knee-jerk” reactions to the murder of soldier Lee Rigby as he restated his opposition to the so-called “snooper’s charter”.

The Deputy Prime Minister said measures in the Communications Data Bill were “disproportionate” and “unworkable”, despite claims from Cabinet colleagues that the legislation was necessary to ensure public safety.

Mr Clegg also warned any measures to ban radicals such as Anjem Choudary from TV screens would make them heroes to extremist groups.

The controversial communications legislation would require internet companies to retain records of emails and social media messages for a year and allow police and security agencies to access the data, but not the content of messages

He added: “Very important parts of what was proposed just weren’t workable because the industry, the Facebooks, the Googles, and all these people upon whose cooperation we rely to go after the bad people just said it wasn’t really workable in its present form.

“Other aspects of it have always struck me as perhaps being disproportionate.”

Clegg advocates striking a balance between longstanding cherished liberty enjoyed in Britain for nearly a millenia and giving appropriate powers to authorities to target individuals and groups suspected of undermining it.

What terrorist is going to start a string of emails or post his intentions on Facebook? If they were doing this, the authorities would have been able to assess the situation plainly and clearly. And Lee Rigby would still be alive today.

There are already enough powers granted to police and security services in Britain to investigate potential terror suspects.

Thankfully, Britain rejected last Thursday’s proposal — via referendum — on the AV (Alternative Vote) system.

The Telegraph has a map which shows that only 10 constituencies — comprised of Labour (e.g. Lambeth, Islington) or highbrow university voters (Oxford and Cambridge) — saw a ‘Yes’ vote prevail.¬† 430 constituencies voted against.¬† However, when broken down by numbers of votes, the Noes had 13,013,123 and the Yeses 6,152,607.

One pundit said the reason AV lost was that most people voting were ‘older, Conservative and less intelligent’.¬† I thought I had bookmarked the link on Friday, but I was mistaken — sorry.¬† This theme is running more or less through various leftist editorials on the result.

The Guardian‘s Polly Toynbee — historian Arnold’s granddaughter, the columnist most Britons love to disparage — is worried that the vote signals ‘a Conservative hegemony’.¬†Oh, my. That’s pretty rich, considering we had 13 depressing years of Labour.

Furthermore, because the unpopular Liberal Democrat (an oxymoron) leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was seen to be behind the push for AV ever since last year’s General Election, people instinctively distrusted the idea.¬† More importantly, though, few could understand it.¬† I included the link to the Guardian’s interactive display in last Thursday’s post.¬† (If AV had passed, the Lib Dems stood to be the main beneficiaries, as this projection of 2010’s election results shows.)

There were no consolation prizes for Nick Clegg’s party in the local elections held the same day.¬† The Telegraph reports:

The Liberal Democrats were severely punished. They lost almost half their councillors in town halls across the country, while the Conservatives exceeded expectations …

Labour did far worse than many in the party had hoped. Ed Miliband did see his party win in Wales, but Labour was humiliated in Scotland and just managed to break through the 800 gains barrier in council elections that was deemed the benchmark for even modest success.

You can find out more by looking at the Telegraph‘s map of results.

Let’s just say that the No to AV (and decent results for the Conservatives) showed common sense. Many of us were beginning to wonder if it was becoming a rare commodity, but, thankfully, it lives on in the 21st century.¬† Well done, voters!

Raoul Moat might not be a familiar name outside the UK.  He was recently the target of a lengthy police manhunt in Rothbury, Northumbria.  After his death, thought to have been by suicide, questions arose from a family member about the exact circumstances. 

Mr Moat —¬†or Moaty, as he is popularly known in the¬†minds of¬†some and on the internet —¬†may become¬†England’s¬†newest folk hero.¬† That’s not a good idea.¬† He was a violent, troubled man who exemplified¬†Jesus’s words in Matt. 26:52:¬†‘He who¬†lives by the¬†sword, dies by the sword’.¬† Within hours of his death, at least one Facebook site appeared intended to laud this man who evaded the police for several days.¬†¬†Although the page was later¬†removed by its creator, a number of supportive messages in his memory appeared¬†before many more condemning his actions were posted.¬† Now another page is up with 15,000 new messages.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron condemned this cultish devotion¬†for Mr Moat and reminded the public that¬†the gunman was a¬†hardened criminal.¬† There was nothing laudable about him or his actions.¬† Yet, Moaty’s last days¬†resonated in a strange, legendary¬†way, not unlike the story of Ned Kelly.¬† Part of the reason might¬†be¬†to do with his name, which sounds as if it could have come from a Coen Brothers film.¬† The more important factor is that, like Ned Kelly, he defied and outwitted the long arm of the law.¬†

Even so, middle England¬†is asking, ‘Why set up Facebook pages honouring a violent criminal?’¬† This post is by no means an apologetic for Mr Moat but will attempt, with some help, to explain the mindset at work.¬†

For the past 13 years, the average Englishman has experienced increased state interference even to the point where authorities¬†are¬†entitled to his DNA, including that of his children, and access to his former ‘castle’, the home.¬† Unless he opts out, his NHS medical records will be accessible by over 200 agencies across the UK.¬† Furthermore, he may have lost his job as¬†it has been sent overseas or filled by a newcomer who is happy to accept less-than-standard UK wages.¬†¬†Despite that, he has seen his taxes rise.¬†On the high street, he has CCTV filming his every¬†scratch of the nose.¬†As far as entertainment goes, his local pub may have shut, since at least 40 close every week.¬† Whilst relaxing at home, he is bombarded by any number of public service announcements on the telly: he cannot drive properly, he commits benefit fraud and he doesn’t know how to eat healthfully.¬† He receives a letter from his child’s school telling him that his growing¬†child¬†is obese when he isn’t.¬†He may be prosecuted for child abuse if his¬†offspring doesn’t slim down.¬†His children have mandated sex education at school far earlier than they should.¬† He reads in the paper about social cohesion and how he must alter his ways¬†for those of people new to his culture and ‘community’, which isn’t a ‘neighbourhood’ anymore.¬† We’re all one big spied-on, communitarian island.¬† And ‘island’ describes¬†how many Englishmen feel, where they must measure every word and action.

All this control is a form of neofeudalism.  Whereas before we were serfs doing the bidding of the local lord or the king and his men, we now bow to the Fabian state.  And many see no escape.  Even a university degree no longer guarantees social mobility.

So, the average Englishman counts for naught these days in the eyes of civil servants (!), the police and politicians.¬†We must be got rid of or controlled.¬†Many English have taken the hint and emigrated. Others wish they could.¬† Still others want to stay and¬†see a return of civil liberties.¬†Ergo,¬†Mr Moat’s standoff with¬†the police¬†captured the public imagination.¬† (Of course, none of these reasons explains Mr Moat’s personal circumstances.¬†¬†He lived in¬†his own hell.)

Blogger Dick Puddlecote discussed the phenomenon in a recent post called ‘Moat, Facebook and the Failure of Political Discourse’:

As I never tire of mentioning, I grew up with working class people, I employ working class people, and I mainly socialise with working class people. The overwhelming feeling amongst them is that politicians are not interested in their meagre concerns. Nor will they ever be, as Nick Clegg recently illustrated with perfect clarity.

I’d venture to suggest that¬†… initial motivation to blog may have had something to do with this ivory tower attitude from our politicians – I know it was for me¬†… visitor figures are testament to the fact that millions of us feel that however loud one shouts, however hard one tries to point out that swathes of respectable middle and working class people are being blithely ignored … Politicians. Just. Don’t. Care.

… Owing to the electoral machinery described above, many of those who admired Moat have probably not seen a politician in the flesh for years. Even at election time they’ll receive little by way of literature, and their complaints will mostly be ignored if they are in an area of no electoral importance for the main parties.

They are fundamentally dissatisfied with how they are treated by the state, and their main interaction with the state is through the police. So when Moat leads the police on a merry old dance, he is ‘sticking it to the Man’ and, in their minds, is to be applauded.

It’s true that many of the working classes bring a lot of this misery on themselves by not voting, but their worries and concerns should still be addressed. Bullying and coercion to fit into a proper way of living as perceived by those who do vote only serves to further erode their trust in the system as a whole, makes their participation in the process less likely, and further escalates the anger and sense of isolation …

It’s the consequence of decades of being ignored; of being dictated to by those who they feel impotent in engaging with; of being bossed around by the state with no avenue of objection..¬†

Rather than take the Facebook group as a sign of degenerative behaviour, maybe all parties should be looking at exactly why, for large sections of the public, a social networking site is now a more realistic method of registering dissent than petitioning a politician is.

In the Independent, columnist and television presenter Janet Street-Porter had this to say about Moaty and the Facebook phenomenon:

Frankly, I wouldn’t get too lathered about these incoherent ramblings ‚Äď what we should be bothered about is the fact that a large section of our society feel like outsiders.

Just as we think crime is rising when it isn’t, the Moaty people are symbols of a deep malaise. Most of Britain wants to be middle class. This lot know they’ve not been invited to that party. They haven’t got fame, money or the stuff their working-class heroes such as footballers and pop stars flaunt. All they’ve got is the right to whinge and rant in cyber space. Unless politicians find a way to connect with them, the gap will only widen.

It’s¬†impossible for the Coalition to undo 13 years of Labour oppression in 13 weeks, so I’m hopeful (and prayerful) that the Conservatives and the more thoughtful among the Liberal Democrats will delve into this area more over the next five years.¬†¬†Disaffected Englishmen vote, too, and would like to think that¬†they — and their future —¬†really matter.

So much for Nick Clegg’s Your Freedom site, which I discussed last week.¬†

Oh, it’s still up and running, but Mr Clegg made clear in a video on July 9 what laws would not be repealed.¬† Interesting that he mentioned the ones that he did, both in the same breath:

Never mind that Conservative MP Brian Binley has tabled an early motion for one of the areas Mr Clegg said would remain as is.¬† Mr Clegg wishes to ignore 25% of the population — voters — and continue to dehumanise them as Labour did.¬† Whose freedom is it, anyway?¬† Whose to give and to take away?

So much for¬†the opportunity for a spot of libertarianism.¬† After all, Mr Clegg’s party is called the Liberal Democrats, is it not?¬† Yet, among them are some of the most illiberal and least democratic¬†people around.

I have to think there is a ray of hope in all of this and pray that the Government lifts some of the 4,289 laws Labour passed during their 13-year tenure.¬† Although I’m closing with a quote from an American author, Robert Greene, may his dream come true for all of us:

I dreamt that it was the year 2070 and that I was walking on the crowded streets of some city. People seemed oddly happy and there was a feeling of lightness in the air, as if something had really changed in the world and we had figured out a better way to live. What was most strange about this dream was that in the midst of it I was conscious of thinking back to the year 2010, so long ago. For some reason it occurred to me that that moment in time was some kind of turning point. That was when things began to right themselves, I told myself, but few people saw or understood this. If only we could have realized back then what was happening, where we were headed. How sad.

In the middle of this strange thought, I woke up. The dream and its intense mood stayed with me for quite some time. It made me think–this is clearly how it is in history. People never appreciate the moment they are living in. We can look back at all of the tumultuous, exciting periods in history with an air of nostalgia, but it’s an illusion. Those in that moment have no such perspective and no such appreciation. If only we could now have that perspective and realize that we are living through one of the great transformational moments and that the old is finally dying away.

If you are a British reader, be sure to visit Your Freedom, which the Coalition government opened up last week.

There you will be able to register and vote on laws to be repealed.  The last Labour government passed over 4,200 new laws in 13 years.  This leaves the average Briton in doubt as to whether he is obeying the law at any given time of day! Furthermore, many of these laws are intrusive and have no place in any nation, let alone the one which devised the Magna Carta in 1215, which enshrined freedom for the English and formed the basis for national constitutions centuries later, including that of the United States of America.  But I digress.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg launched Your Freedom on July 1.  It is the first public consultation of its kind, anywhere in the world.  As I write, concerned Britons have posted 2,700 suggestions.  Why not have your say whilst you have the opportunity?

Nick Clegg explains the idea here in this short video:

Happy St George’s Day!

The feast day of St George — patron saint of England and several other countries —¬†is April 23, but how many English know that these days?¬† We used to, but not any more.¬† It’s considered politically incorrect to wave the English flag of St George — a¬†red cross on a white background.

The Daily Mail reports:

Only one in ten would happily fly the cross of St George to celebrate the national saint’s day.

Double that number said they thought they would be told by authorities to remove it if they flew it from their house.

People have been told over the past decade to remove their flags from gardens or vehicles as they were public order offences!¬† About the only time it’s ‘okay’ to fly the flag is during¬†football’s (soccer)¬†World Cup.

The Mail elaborates:

Despite calls from public figures ranging from Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu to Gordon Brown for more celebrations of the English national day, there has been clear disapproval from many public authorities.

In 2008 St George’s Day parades were banned by local authorities in Bradford and Sandwell in the West Midlands on the grounds they could cause trouble or were ‘unhealthy’ and ‘tribal’.

Last year Mr Brown’s instruction that public buildings in England should fly the flag on 23 April were undermined by the production of a European map drawn up in Brussels that wiped England off altogether and replaced the country with a series of EU regions.

They should just tear a leaf out of this fearless saint’s notebook and do it anyway!¬† But public officials won’t because they are largely socialist and secularist.¬†

And on April 22, the Daily Mail reminded its readers of what Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg wrote in the Guardian in 2002:

‚ÄėAll nations have a cross to bear … But the British cross is more insidious still.

‚ÄėA misplaced sense of superiority, sustained by delusions of grandeur and a tenacious obsession with the last war, is much harder to shake off. We need to be put back in our place.‚Äô

Winston Churchill’s grandson, Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, replied:

‚ÄėThese views will disgust people the length and breadth of the country. They show that Nick Clegg is unfit to lead his party, let alone the country.

‚ÄėThey are an insult to the memory of Britain‚Äôs war dead and to a time when the British public all pulled together for the common good. They prove that Mr Clegg shares the European view of Britain rather than the British view.‚Äô

He mocked claims last weekend that Mr Clegg is now as popular with the public as Churchill as ‘laughable’.

How does Clegg think he could have ever grown up in England in a privileged background if the Allies had not won the war?¬† If they had not, there would have been no freedom of movement.¬† How would his parents have even met?¬†How would they have settled in England?¬† Sorry, there’s a disconnect here I don’t understand — a radical distaste and ingratitude for what he has received thanks to Allied —¬†including British (including vast numbers of English)¬†— intervention.¬† Let him be thankful for what he has received through their efforts, thanks to God’s grace and St George’s example!¬†

As far as St George’s Day activities go, there are some¬†in London, although I’ve only seen them listed¬†on the official tourist site. The¬†Anglican Diocese of Norwich is asking those churches which have bells to ring them between 6:00 and 6:30 on the day.¬† Preston (Lancashire) also had events planned.¬† Good for them!

Other than that,¬†even moreso than¬†last year, it’s a damp squib, and more’s the¬†pity.¬†¬†We should be considering the merits of our great saint’s life as we could¬†use his example to be more heroic people, even in the simplest of ways.¬† The Royal Society of St George has a beautiful write-up, which I’ve excerpted below:

There are many legends in many cultures about St. George, but they all have a common theme; he must have been an outstanding character in his lifetime, for his reputation to have survived for almost 1,700 years!

Most authorities on the subject seem to agree that he was born in Cappadocia in what is now Turkey, in about the year 280 AD. It is probable that from his physical description, he was of Darian origin, because of his tall stature and fair hair. He enlisted into the Cavalry of the Roman Army at the age of 17, during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian and very quickly established a reputation amongst his peers, for his virtuous behaviour and physical strength; his military bearing, valour and handsome good looks.

He quickly achieved the rank of Millenary or Tribunus Militum, an officer’s rank roughly equivalent to a full Colonel, in charge of a regiment of 1,000 men and became a particular favourite of his Emperor.

Diocletian’s second in Command was Galerius, the conqueror of Persia and an avid supporter of the Pagan religion. As a result of a rumour that the Christians were plotting the death of Galerius, an edict was issued that all Christian Churches were to be destroyed and all scriptures to be burnt. Anyone admitting to being a Christian, would lose his rights as a citizen, if not his life

As a consequence, Diocletian took strict action against any alternative forms of religion in general and the Christian faith in particular. He achieved the reputation of being perhaps the cruellest persecutor of Christians at that time.

Many Christians feared to be loyal to their God; but, having become a convert to Christianity, St. George acted to limit the excesses of Diocletian’s actions against the Christians. He went to the city of Nicomedia where, upon entering, he tore down the notice of the Emperor’s edict. St. George gained great respect for his compassion towards Diocletian’s victims.

As news spread of his rebellion against the persecutions St. George realised that, as both Diocletian and Galerius were in the city, it would not be long before he was arrested.He prepared for the event by disposing of his property to the poor and he freed his slaves.

When he appeared before Diocletian, it is said that St. George bravely denounced him for his unnecessary cruelty and injustice and that he made an eloquent and courageous speech. He stirred the populace with his powerful and convincing rhetoric against the Imperial Decree to persecute Christians. Diocletian refused to acknowledge or accede to St. George’s reasoned, reproachful condemnation of his actions. The Emperor consigned St George to prison with instructions that he be tortured until he denied his faith in Christ.¬†

St George, having defended his faith was beheaded at Nicomedia near Lyddia in Palestine on the 23rd of April in the year 303 AD.

Stories of St. George’s courage soon spread and his reputation grew very quickly. He was known in Russia and the Ukraine as the Trophy Bearer.¬†His remains are said to have been buried in the church that bears his name in Lydda. However, his head was carried to Rome, where it was preserved in the church that is also dedicated to him.

Britannia¬†relates St George’s place in English history, excerpted below:

A lesser holiday in honour of St George, to be kept on 23 April, was declared by the Synod of Oxford in 1222; and St George had become acknowledged as Patron Saint of England by the end of the fourteenth century. In 1415, the year of Agincourt, Archbishop Chichele raised St George’s Day to a great feast and ordered it to be observed like Christmas Day. In 1778 the holiday reverted to a simple day of devotion for English Catholics.

The banner of St George, the red cross of a martyr on a white background, was adopted for the uniform of English soldiers possibly in the reign of Richard 1, and later became the flag of England and the White Ensign of the Royal Navy. In a seal of Lyme Regis dating from 1284 a ship is depicted bearing a flag with a cross on a plain background. During Edward 111’s campaigns in France in 1345-49, pennants bearing the red cross on a white background were ordered for the king’s ship and uniforms in the same style for the men at arms. When Richard 11 invaded Scotland in 1385, every man was ordered to wear ‘a signe (sic) of the arms of St George’, both before and behind, whilst death was threatened against any of the enemy’s soldiers ‘who do bear the same crosse or token of Saint George, even if they be prisoners’ …

Saint George is a leading character in one of the greatest poems in the English language, Spencer’s Faerie Queene (1590 and 1596). St George appears in Book 1 as the Redcrosse (sic) Knight of Holiness, protector of the Virgin. In this guise he may also be seen as the Anglican church upholding the monarchy of Elizabeth1:

But on his breast a bloody Cross he bore
The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweet sake that glorious badge we wore
And dead (as living) ever he adored.

So, to all those in England and other countries celebrating this great day, enjoy yourselves! 

Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry, God for Harry, England, and Saint George!
¬†¬†— Shakespeare, Henry V

Almost a week on and we’re still in the grip of Cleggophilia.¬† The Tory voters are like a chocolate fondant¬†with the soft centre moving to the right and the left.¬† (Today’s graphics¬†are borrowed¬†from Prodicus¬†at left and the Spectator Coffee House blog at right.)

Our media outlets are cock-a-hoop over the possibility of a hung Parliament.¬† Nick Clegg is their darling of the hour and the¬†ubiquitous Lord Mandelson told the¬†BBC that a LibLab coalition can offer voters ‘change’.¬† That alone¬†should make Tories thinking of defecting to Lib Dems to¬†reconsider their vote.

The reality-television generation¬†doesn’t really understand how the political system in the UK works.¬† They think that the popular vote wins all, so that if the Lib Dems win, Clegg becomes Prime Minister.¬† Yet, it will be Gordon Brown.¬† Electoral Calculus explains how the boundaries for the Parliamentary seats have been drawn and says:

Even after the Boundary Commisson changes, there seems to be a difference in the electoral geography for the two main parties. This is typified by the fact that if Labour and the Conservatives have equal support, then Labour still has a majority in Westminster, but the Conservatives need about a 10% lead to get a majority themselves. Some people call this a “bias”, but we will use the more neutral term of “gap”.

What holds true for the Conservatives is also true for Lib Dems.¬† So, we will have five more years of Gordon Brown and, if not, then, at the very least,¬†a majority left-wing Parliament — unless, we actively canvass our families, friends and neighbours about just what they think Liberal Democrat policies are.

N.B.: If you have time only for a brief glance, please read emboldened and green¬†highlights¬†through to the end of the post — guaranteed worth your while!

When¬†you have a chance over the next fortnight to talk with a floating voter, ask them these questions — in addition to raising yesterday’s Lib Dem talking points:

1/ Do¬†they enjoy taking a holiday abroad?¬† Even with the ridiculous security procedures at airports, most people will say, ‘Of course.’¬† Tell them that Vince¬†Cable — likely to be the next Chancellor of the Exchequer — wants to more than double¬†airline tax.¬† Iain Dale writes:

Taking a family of four, the current short haul (0-2000 miles) tax of £88 would rise to £199.76. The same family flying long haul would see their tax rising from £400-440 to £908-998.80. That rise of 127.5% is quite nasty, but the rate rose last November so compared to last Summer, a family flying this year would face a 187.4% increase in tax if Vince Cable became Chancellor.

2/ Are they upset about the UK’s loss of sovereignty to Europe?¬† Would they want to ditch the pound for the euro?¬† With many Englishmen, that’s a Yes/No combination.¬† The FT reports¬†(emphases mine):

Viewed from¬†Brussels, the rise of Nick Clegg and his Liberal Democrats in Britain‚Äôs election campaign is a fantasy come true … Britain‚Äôs opinion polls are topped by a party¬†whose leader¬†spent five years working at the European Commission and another five years as a MEP in the European Parliament …

… for most eurozone countries, Britain will always be semi-detached from Europe¬†until it adopts the euro.

Still, as Clegg rides high in the polls, Europe has a big beaming smile on its face Рbut it is doing its best to hide it, for fear that British voters spot it and punish Clegg accordingly.

3/ How do they feel about fat cat bankers and MPs?¬† Probably not too good.¬† Nick Clegg described his second house in¬†his constituency of Sheffield as modest and pebble dashed.¬† And yet …¬†Channel 4 reports that this house is in a neighbourhood where the houses sell for an¬†enviable ¬£325,000 to ¬£420,000.¬†Have a look at Clegg’s Sheffield and London residences.¬†And, perhaps you thought his father¬†Sir Nicholas¬†— or¬†Pater, as they would say at¬†Westminster School¬†was retired, but not at all.¬† C4 reporter Cathy Newman says:

Nick Clegg vowed to get tough on the banks today, and called for a return to the ‚Äútraditional‚ÄĚ banking of his father‚Äôs day. But the Lib Dem leader‚Äôs father, now in his mid-70s, is actually still in banking.

Sir Nicholas Clegg is chairman of the United Trust Bank. The bank describes itself as one of the UK‚Äôs leading suppliers of funding for property developers based in the UK …

Sir Nick‚Äôs banking history also includes being director of one-time merchant bankers Hill Samuel Co Ltd, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Lloyds TSB‚Äôs Offshore Private Banking unit ‚Äď given the Lib Dems‚Äô stance on tax havens it is perhaps a relief for Clegg junior that his dad no longer works there.

Clegg senior was also co-chairman of Daiwa Europe Ltd; and chairman of Daiwa Europe Bank plc ‚Äď where he worked with former chancellor and Tory heavyweight Ken Clarke.

Aside from chairmanships, he has also served as a director of the International Primary Markets Association, and a senior adviser to the Bank of England on banking supervision, where he was hired as a so-called grey panther to shake things up via his commercial sector background.

He was also a member of the supervisory board of Bank Insinger de Beaufort NV and a Director of Insinger de Beaufort Holdings.

It‚Äôs difficult to know just how ‚Äúold fashioned‚ÄĚ Nick Clegg Snr is in his banking approach, but it‚Äôs clear even his prudent approach has not spared his bank losses, although they do seem rather modest.

Conclusion — your friends probably aren’t¬†in the same elite league as Lib Dems.¬†They should think seriously about voting Conservative.¬†More than likely, they’d want to keep some of their own wealth.

Of course, there is now a bit of astroturfing going on the Conservative supporters’ blogs by Lib Dems.¬† If you’re a Tory reading them, don’t lose sight of the goal!¬† Same thing happened in 2008 — to a much nastier extent — in the US¬†presidential election.¬† The astroturfers were out for blood.¬† Yes, it was orchestrated, and afterward they admitted it was only psy-ops.¬†¬†This is¬†how it worked¬†(written in October 2008, a week prior to the election) as reported by someone who worked¬†on this¬†part of¬†Barack Obama’s campaign:

The internal campaign idea is to twist, distort, humiliate and finally dispirit you …

We do this to stifle your motivation and to destroy your confidence …¬†

Sprinkle in mass vote confusion and it becomes bewildering. Most people lose patience and just give up on their support of a candidate and decide to just block out tv, news, websites, etc. This surprisingly has had a huge suppressing movement and vote turnout issues.

Next, we infiltrate all the blogs and all the youtube videos and overwhelm the voting, the comments, etc. All to continue this appearance of overwhelming world support.
People makes posts to the effect that the world has ‚Äúgone mad‚ÄĚ.¬† Thats the intention. To make you feel stressed and crazy and feel like the world is ending.
   

We have also had quite a hand in skewing many many polls, some we couldn‚Äôt control as much as we would have liked. But many we have spoiled over. Just enough to make RealClearPolitics look scary to a McCain supporter. It’s worked, although the goal was to appear 13-15 points ahead.

See, the results have been working. People tend to support a winner, go with the flow, become ‚Äúsheeple‚ÄĚ.
The polls are roughly 3-5 points in favor of Barack. That’s due to our inflation of the polls and pulling in the sheeple.
Our donors, are the same people who finance the MSM. Their interests are tied, Barack then tends to come across as Teflon. Nothing sticks.

And trust, there were meetings with Fox News. The goal was to blunt them as much as possible. Watch Bill O’Reilly he has become much more diplomatic and ‚Äúfair and balanced‚ÄĚ and soft. Its because he wants to retain the #1 spot on cable news and to do that he has to have access to the Obama campaign and we worked hard at stringing him a long and keeping him soft for an interview swap. It worked and now he is anticipating more access. So he is playing it still soft.

Our goal is to continue to make you lose your morale. We worked hard at persuasion and paying off and timing and playing the right political numbers to get key Republican endorsements to make it seem even more like it was over and the world was coming to an end for you all.
There is a huge staff of people working around the clock, watching every site, blogs, etc. We flood these sites. We have had a goal to overwhelm.
The truth is here. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

  

So, there you have it — plain as day.¬†

Moral of the story: KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.  KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE PRIZE!

In the fevered excitement accompanying Nick Clegg’s rise in the polls over the past few days, how many people know exactly what the Liberal Democrats — the wheelie bin party —¬†support?¬† (Today’s graphic comes from the¬†conservativehome blogs, outlining yet another LibDem policy.)

The Sun commissioned YouGov to do a poll published on Sunday, April 18.  All the policy questions were taken from the Liberal Democrat platform.  Interestingly, people dislike most of their policies.

Did you know about these?  Questions and results which the Lib Dems are worried about:

Tax: Scrap income tax on earnings of less than £10,000 a year. The £17billion cost of this will be paid for by a tax on bigger houses, a tax on airline flights, restricting tax relief on pensions savings for higher-rate taxpayers, and attempting to clamp down on tax avoidance.

Support: 66%

Oppose: 20%

Don’t know: 14%

Defence: Replace Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system and develop a variant that is a lot cheaper but less powerful and possibly easier to detect and stop.

Support: 37%

Oppose: 37%

Don’t know: 26%

Europe: Give the European Union more powers on justice issues, bank regulation, the flow of asylum seekers, limiting climate change and cooperate more on security and defence.

Support: 18%

Oppose: 65%

Don’t know: 17%

Euro: scrap the Pound and join the Euro when the conditions are right.

Support: 21%

Oppose: 65%

Don’t know: 14%

Immigration: Give an amnesty to 1 million illegal immigrants who have lived in Britain for ten years, speak good English and don’t have a criminal record.

Support: 35%

Oppose: 49%

Don’t know: 16%

Prisons: Allow 58,000 criminals a year to do community service instead of going to prison by banning jail terms of less than six months.

Support: 33%

Oppose: 50%

Don’t know: 17%

Public sector pay: Limit pay rises for public sector workers for the next two years to £400 a year.

Support: 57%

Oppose: 24%

Don’t know: 19%

Higher education: scrap university tuition fees over six years, and increase taxes to pay for this.

Support: 31%

Oppose: 48%

Don’t know: 20%

Voting: Change the voting system for electing MPs, so that individual constituencies become much larger and parties are represented in parliament broadly in line with their national vote.

Support: 54%

Oppose: 16%

Don’t know: 29%

Energy: Stop any new nuclear power stations from being built and attempt to solve the energy crisis by coal-fired power generation plants and wind turbines instead.

Support: 32%

Oppose: 41%

Don’t know: 27%

Some of these things sound pretty good until you start thinking about what the Lib Dems are leaving out.  Here are my questions:

Tax: So will there be a mansion tax on larger houses?  How large does that house have to be before it qualifies?  And even more tax to pay on our flights?   

Europe: Give the EU more powers to step all over us?¬† No, thank you.¬† He says he’d give us a referendum on whether to leave the EU.¬† That’s a sop to UKIP voters to prevent them from swinging to the Tories.¬† Don’t believe it.¬† How will they pose the question?¬†It’s bound to be in some way that gets us all to say, ‘Yes!¬† Let’s stick with the EU¬†bureaucracy!’¬†Instead vote Tory to¬†hold ‘Call me Dave’ Cameron to his cast-iron promise on this subject.¬†¬†¬†

Euro: So we join when the conditions are right.  What are those conditions?  Who determines them?  Do we get a referendum?

Immigration: Are there 1m illegal immigrants who have lived here for 10 years, speak good English and don’t have a criminal record? How do the Lib Dems¬†know?¬† If we have 1m of these, how many other illegal immigrants do we have living here?¬† The mind boggles.

Public sector pay: The ¬£400 a year — is that across the board?¬† Is it the same for everyone’s salary?¬† ¬£400 a year will mean more to a lower-salaried worker than a hospital administrator.

Higher education: Will there be a mansion tax for the rich to stump up to pay?  Before Labour brought in tuition fees, this cost was borne by every taxpayer.

Energy: Are coal-fired power generation plants and wind turbines enough?¬† Why not move into nuclear power, or won’t that sit well with the party base?

This is¬†sheer hell.¬† And, no, Labour wouldn’t be bothered by any of this if they plan to move into a coalition government with them.¬†

But there’s more … abortion and euthanasia

Catholic commentator Cristina Odone, writing for the Telegraph, says the Lib Dems are big on abortion and euthanasia:

This is a Jekyll and Hyde outfit. It’s not just the party of Nick Clegg, with his lovely bright wife and faith school-educated children. It’s the party of Dr Evan Harris.

Dr Harris believes in euthanasia ‚Äď and, I mean, really believes. He was instrumental in ensuring that legalising euthanasia became Lib Dem party policy …

Dr Harris also believes our present abortion laws are too strict, and the fact that an astonishing fifth of pregnancies are terminated is of no great import. No wonder he is known as ‚ÄúDr Death‚ÄĚ by his critics.

… as the subject turns to the ethical or religious issue of the day ‚Äď faith schools, say, or teenage pregnancies ‚Äď I watch him turn pop-eyed with bilious indignation. He becomes almost a caricature of the National Humanist Society spokesman: God is bad, his followers mad.

Labour still has a rump of Christian socialists. The Tories are relatively sympathetic to faith. The Lib Dems are now the most secular party in the Britain ‚Äď and not in a good way.

And still more¬†… giving violent criminals the right to vote

The Lib Dems — since Ming Campbell was their leader — have wanted to give the right to vote to hardened criminals in preparation for their release.¬†Labour in Birmingham have¬†distributed leaflets to highlight this fact and include some local notorious criminals.¬† According to a commenter on conservativehome, where this was raised, it’s because — get this —

a European Court of Human Rights decision in which judges from such long-standing democracies and respecters of human rights such as Hungary, Germany, Spain and Bulgaria have found Britain deficient.

Oh, right, so, those countries — all of which have endured totalitarianism at some point in the last century¬†— find Britain deficient?¬† Give over!¬† This is what I mean by being concerned¬†about handing even more powers to Europe!¬† NO!

Just remember: vote yellow, get Brown. 

Message to UKIP voters: It’s immaterial whether you are mad for David Cameron — vote Tory and we’ll pressure him to come good on his ‘cast-iron’ promises.¬†

For more articles see:

Nick Clegg defends Liberal Democrat stance on Europe

‘Nick Clegg’s appeal “will last as long as an insect bite”‘ (‘clegg’ means¬†‘horsefly’, apparently)

‘Nick Clegg tries to hide Liberal Democrat Euro-federalism’

‘Lib Doomed’

‘Warning as Libs Lead Poll Race’

‘Absent Liberal Democrat Donor Convicted of Fraud’

‘Inconvenient truths for leaders who got debate facts wrong’

‘Leading Lib Dem quits over sex scandal’

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