Saturday, February 18, 2006
PART III OF IV - MY "IILLIBERAL" BUT CERTAINLY TRUTHFUL BLOGS
I admit to expressing myself 'robustly" (I would rather say with unflinching honesty). I note that on absolutely no point has Mr Fraser chosen to dispute the factual accuracy of what I have said merely whether it is right to say it. I regard this as "illiberal". I have mentioned my party allegiance on my site but dispute that anybody reading it could reasonably conclude that I was writing purely official party policy. Mr Fraser has chosen the piece entitled "Why I Quit" as an example & I submit that anybody reading it would conclude that I had quit the party. Nonetheless, to satisfy your objection, I have now put into the heading of my blog a statement that the party wish it to be known that this is not an official party site.
Mr Fraser has said that I "frequently" mention my party membership in letters. This is untrue. It may be that I have done so once, though I confess I have no memory of it. Nonetheless if Mr Fraser is in even the slightest degree honest I must have done so & I am forwarding this paragraph directly to him so that he can ensure he presents his evidence of this - or not as the case may be.
My reasons for not mentioning party membership in letters are twofold. Firstly because I think starting every letter with a reference to my party membership would tend to discourage publication. Secondly that I generally, at least while a party member, while not restricting myself to parroting the party line attempted to paint the Lib Dems as better than the alternatives.
I include a letter I had published in the Scotsman shortly before the EU election in which I portrayed the Libs (& more equivocally the SNP) as more supportive of economic success than Labour & Tories. In light of present events this may have been unfair to all 3 but at the time I believed it. No party member, at the time, suggested that this letter would have been improved by mentioning my previous allegiance. I have not previously been told, even by Norman, that this wasletter was harmful.
LETTER IN SCOTSMAN 31/5/4
Being a bit of a political anorak, I went to the hustings meeting in Glasgow last week. All but two of the candidates - Elspeth Atwooll (Liberal Democrat) and, more equivocally, Alan Smyth (SNP) - came out firmly against a growing economy. Even Struan Stevenson (Conservative), from whose party we might expect more stodgy common sense, weighed in with the opinion that it just allowed the Chinese to buy more of our concrete rather than conveniently starving as they used to.
There was a time when politicians were, at least publicly, committed to reducing poverty. This matters more to the really poor of Shettleston, who are thereby robbed of a future, than to the chattering classes of Hyndland, who already have it. Nonetheless it shows a contempt for ordinary people among the political class that feels it proper to make people's lives harder.
I absolutely dispute Mr Fraser's claim that anything I have said is "illiberal" unless Mr Fraser is allowed to so completely redefine the term that the founders of the movement are classed as "illiberal" as discussed above.
Mr Fraser objects to me including links on my blog with which he disagrees & for whose opinions he holds me liable. This is an argument from "guilt by association" which I absolutely reject as illiberal. Voltaire said "I absolutely disagree with everything you say & will defend to the death your right to say it". This statement is in many ways the basic axiom of liberalism & I will not, under any circumstances, accept that the party has a right to tell me who I may or may not bloglink with. By this argument does the fact that Paddy Ashdown & Osama bin Laden frequented the office of the Bosnian Moslem leader prove that they share philosophies?
In any case I provide links to Slobodan-Milosevic.org, England's Sword, Antiwar, Jerry Pournelle, Lenin's Tomb & the Adam Smith Institute. I obviously cannot endorse all their views. I doubt if there is any subject on which these would all agree.
Sample Postings on ‘A Place to Stand’
13/11/05 ‘Communists Support the Right to Bear Arms.’ Paddy Ashdown a perjurer and condoner of child sex slavery.
This merely reprints evidence presented in court & not now disputed that Mr Ashdown did say under oath that, standing on the Albanian border, he saw Yugoslav soldiers ethnically cleansing named villages & that said villages are not visible from that location due to mountains being in the way. This evidence is literally rock solid. The other incident is that a woman was indeed found, in a UK court, to have been wrongfully dismissed for objecting to a member of Mr Ashdown's administration purchasing & keeping a young girl as a sex slave. This was reported in 2 British newspapers. Mr Fraser makes no attempt to dispute the facts. He has elsewhere stated his attitude towards child sex slavery.
7/11/05 ‘Islamic Fundamentalism…’ An extraordinary attack on Lord Bonomy.
Exactly where in the Lib Dem constitution does it say that when a senior judge makes a particularly foolish statement we are required not to object? Lord Bonamy said, from the ICTY Bench, that fundamentalist Islam does not pose a security threat. I suggest that this is a statement, particularly in relation to Mr bin Laden, with which robust disagreement is reasonable.
24/10/05 ‘Glorious Defeat at the Lib Dem Conference…’ Neil’s speeches at Glenrothes were right (he says).
Of course I said they were right. Am I required to say that my speeches were wrong? These were public speeches made where the party had invited journalists to attend. They were in no way confidential. I spoke in favour of Free Trade & against having government political correctness officers throughout Scottish business & while I was heavily outvoted my opinions were & are consistent with the traditional Liberal position. Eileen McCartin said in her summing up that the position I was defending was no longer liberal because "principles change with time". I disagree.
I strongly suspect that it this, as much as the official charges, is the reason for the present circumstances. I spoke to a conference, whose mind I believe was already made up, to say that the motion, that North Korea & Burma are producing better economic examples than South Korea & Singapore, was wrong & that the motion saying that political correctness inspectors in Scottish business committed to satisfying the "expectations" of "special interest groups" would "increase productivity" was also wrong. When both motions were passed overwhelmingly Mr Fraser decided to use the expulsion card he has kept in his pocket since May. This redifinition of "liberalism" & purging of those who disagree is not liberalism in any sense - it is Orwellism.
Under Chairman Mao party members, whose opinions were found to be different from those of the Party were forced to engage in self criticism sessions but his party was not affiliated to the Liberal International. It is worth pointing out that I specifically invited those who voted for the motions, including Mr Fraser, to put their opinions on my blog - that none chose to do should not be held against me.
10/08/05 ‘So the Australian Media Censor…’ Neil denies the Srebrenica Massacre took place.
I do not deny that a massacre took place at Srebrenica. That thousands of unarmed Serb civilians (3,800 named individuals have been identified) were killed by Mr Oric, many by beheading, has been stated by the NATO general during the Milosevic "trial". Nor do I dispute that some Moslem soldiers died also - it would be a strange war were that not so. However it is a matter of fact that what were initially described as mass graves were empty & that, of what was initially described as a garrison of 7,500, 7,000 are now known to have escaped. I dispute that I have any duty not to mention the facts - indeed I deal with this principle later.
03/8/05 ‘Lies, Damned Lies…’ Neil attacks the Guardian on the same issue.
01/08/05 ‘Srebrenica Massacre a Lie’
24/5/05 ‘Question Time Lie’ an attack on Matthew Taylor who stated that in his opinion the war in former Yugoslavia was legal.
He stated that launching an aggressive war against Yugoslavia without a UN mandate was legal but neglected to say why. Since Nuremberg aggressive war has been prima faci a criminal act. I asked both him & the party to say why this one isn't but have yet to receive a reply. I would have been perfectly willing to post a reply. If Mr Fraser is treating all races equally he MUST be calling for the expulsion of all members of the Lib Dems who say that launching an aggressive war on Iraq without a UN mandate is illegal. I look forward to watching his campaign with interest.
I do not believe that there is a single member of the party who is honestly convinced that that war was legal & or anybody who has fully investigated it who believes it was moral. The refusal of Mr Taylor or any party representative to say why it was is indicative. I repeat my offer to post their response on my blog. So long as the party claims to support the rule of international law this is going to continue to eat away at its credibility & produce questions like the audience remark on Question Time.
03/04/05 ‘Hail, Hail…’ the Pope gave money to and smuggled arms for Croatia.
He has made an error here. While I have reprinted publicly available evidence that the Pope provided an unsecured long term interest free loan of $2 billion to Mr Tudjman the article on Caritas arms smuggling referred to the shipment of 1,500 mortars
I have, on reconsideration, already removed this item on the grounds that the title was somewhat flippant & that my reference to the theological implications for the soul of the Pope, while doctrinally sound, were inappropriate bearing in mind that I am a nonbeliever. Nonetheless the article is factual & Mr Fraser has made no attempt to assert otherwise.
21/11/04 ‘Why I quit’ Neil’s view of why he left the Party in 2004.
Is it seriously suggested that I should not have given reasons or that this could be mistaken for official party policy.…
Friday, February 17, 2006
PART II OF IV
It is true that I left Maryhill party as a result of their refusal to submit for debate 2 motions, One calling for action to encourage mass production techniques in housing & the other calling for several actions to improve our economic performance, primarily a reduction in business tax. Both had been previously submitted but not called (though the Enterprise one was on the Autumn preliminary agenda). I felt that I could not honourably work for a constituency so opposed to what I consider progress. It is a convention that a constituency party need not fully agree with a motion to be prepared to see it discussed.
I profoundly disagree with Mr Fraser's opinion, which he obviously still holds, that encouraging growth by tax reductions is so extremely "right wing" a policy that nobody within the party should even discuss it. I point out that this policy is precisely that proposed by Adam Smith & the founders of the party & that for Mr Fraser to call it "illiberal" is to make liberalism an entirely different philosophy from the originators of the term
Mr Fraser's claim that the motions were "badly drafted & not thought through" is in no way truthful. As said the Enterprise motion had already been preliminarily selected for debate at conference. Moreover both motions had had been drafted together with Debra Storr whose job is to ensure that motions debated are properly drafted. She can confirm that she pronounced both motions, after she had finished with them, as satisfactory for debate (though she thought the committee might choose to split the housebuilding one in 2). Indeed after she had finished I suggested that she should publish & put the notes on drafting that she had given us on the Scotlibdem site - she did this which contradicts her endorsement of allegations against me so demeaning of her own abilities. This was done because a previous draft of the Enterprise motion had been rejected by the Conference Committee on the grounds that "it did not call for a change in policy". Far from not being "thought through" the motions had been subject to extensive debate & revision within the constituency over nearly 2 years. Mr Fraser participated in the drafting meeting with Debra.
I accept that my annual membership ran out in April. I was not informed that Maryhill had decided in May that I should be expelled. Shortly after I quit the SNP adopted a policy of cutting business taxes to stimulate the economy, very similar to my proposal.
In a subsequent email correspondence with Mr Robert Brown MSP in which I suggested that it would be unwise for the Lib Dems to wholly abandon this classic liberal position to the SNP, particularly in light of the fact that it was being extremely successful in Ireland (Ireland's economy has grown by just under 20% since I originally proposed my enterprise motion -see http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=032805E ), He requested that I rejoin the party & re-present my proposal. This proves that he did not believe it had not been "thought through". After consideration I did this in July. I related this in my blog on 1st September describing Mr Brown only as "a senior member of the party" but I think his action in endorsing Mr Fraser's lies about my motions deprives him of any right to anonymity.
As Mr Fraser has eloquently proven, it would have been impossible to carry out Mr Brown's request as part of Maryhill. It should be pointed out that Maryhill itself has many members who do not reside in the constituency, which has been of assistance in their maintaining conference voting rights.
Indeed the extraordinary meeting which decided that cutting business taxes should not be submitted again, because it was "to right wing" to even be discussed, was arranged by Mr Fraser in the home of a member who lives many miles outside the constituency & takes no part in its activities but broadly supports Mr Fraser's opposition to traditional liberal economic policies.
I regret to say that, despite what, in honour, I must presume to be Mr Brown's efforts on behalf of the motion he asked me to present, neither motion has, yet again, been chosen by the Conference Committee. Indeed, as on every occasion since devolution, no primarily economic matter will be discussed. His influence in the party organisation must be much less than generally believed.
There are however 2 about bicycling. Of course bicycling might be a classic liberal principle - I don't know how many motions there were at the Liberal conference in 1906 about bicycles.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
PURGING LIBERALS FROM THE LIB DEMS - MY STATEMENT - I OF IV
Cynical though I had been about whether this enquiry was, or was ever intended to be, in any way impartial or of integrity I was taken aback to find that the party executive could unanimously support this accusation on the basis of absolutely no evidence. This confirms my suspicion that my sole fault has been to support a fairly traditional liberal position, on laissez faire economics, individual freedom, national freedom, the rule of international law & technological progress at a time when the party is being run, at least within Scotland, by people who are intent on jacking up the name "Liberal" & slipping an entirely different vehicle underneath.
Further than this I submit that the new vehicle is one which they believe cannot be sustained in open debate. Hence the refusal of debate at conference etc. In this they are quite correct. That is why the opposition to my position has not been by debate but by compulsion.
Liberalism, the original sort, is sweeping the world because it offers freedom, wealth & a decent society people can be proud of & that is what the overwhelming majority of citizens want. Economic decline, windmills, dependency culture & visiting government busybodies telling them they can't smoke in their own homes is no substitute.
Nonetheless I am forced to defend my letters against the accusation that they (all?) are "illiberal". In reverse order from the date of the accusation - all items are on my blog archives:
On 29th November I had a letter in the Herald, a few days earlier in the Scotsman, also on the 24th (Scotsman), 22nd spoke on Radio Scotland against Alex Salmond, 3rd Nov (Scotsman) & 22nd July (West End Mail) all supporting nuclear power. I am aware that the official party policy is that we should support the closure of Hunterston & Torness & of the high emission coal generators leading to the loss of 2/3rds of our electricity. We would then rely on windmills (or unspecifiable methods) which currently supply under 2%, unreliably, to make up the shortfall. However I submit that the question of whether party leaders can guarantee that there will be no shortfall is not a question of principle but of engineering. My position that we should seek to halt the current death, by fuel poverty, of 24,000 pensioners a year, by producing affordable electricity, is much more liberal, not to say humane, than that of the leadership. Former executive member Steuart Campbell felt forced to resign from the party over nuclear policy but that is not quite the same as expulsion.
On 17th November (Herald) I wrote against the planning system preventing houses being built taking as an example knocking down particularly well built brand new houses because they did not fit council plans. This is in line with my housing motion, which unfortunately, the party has not been allowed to debate. I made no specific mention of the Lib Dem position. I submit that the idea that the state should not massively artificially limit homebuilding is classic liberalism.
On 17th September (Herald) I wrote very strongly in favour of the proposed reduction in business rates saying "it is particularly remarkable since it was Jack McConnell, in his previous post, who was responsible for increasing rates in the
first place. While the doctrine of collective cabinet responsibility prevents us knowing for sure, it seems likely that the accession of Nicol Stephen, who, while running for Lib Dem leader, pledged support for business tax cuts, may have played a part in this" & then going on to call for a corporation tax reduction.
Present events, including the refusal to allow Enterprise to be discussed at Conference & that allowed motions are would increase regulation, taxes, government spending enormously & prevent the introduction of modern technology make it less likely that the leadership actually sincerely supported pro-growth policies as anything other than a reaction to the SNP's more thorough adoption of the Irish example. That would suggest that the proposed future rate cut back to the level we started at is merely token.
The letter was intended to draw attention to what I consider to be a news item favourable to the party & whether it was correct or not I still believe it to be favourable.
On 15th September (Herald) I wrote that the New Orleans hurricane should not be blamed on global warming. What the Lib Dem position on this is I don't know but this is the scientific "consensus". On September 3rd I wrote in the Scotsman that Ireland's growth was due to free market policies not to EU cash, pointing out that the EU money went mainly to agriculture, the slowest growing part of their economy. This is classic liberalism - it is also correct.
On 22nd August (Scotsman) I wrote congratulating Hollyrood Speaker George Reid on persuading the Executive to look at how other countries achieve economic growth. I suggested looking at examples outside the EU as well as within - I dispute that this was "illiberal".
On 1st August a letter I had sent to the entire British national & much of the US press was published by the Morning Star alone (what Mr Fraser would call a "right wing" newspaper). This was about Nasir Oric, the Moslem commander of Srebrenica responsible for the genocide of at least 3,800 Serb civilians, who showed journalist videos of him beheading men, women & children (as reported by the Toronto Star & Washington Post). Supporting evidence was given on oath by General Marillon, the ranking NATO general in Bosnia at the time. I suggested that this person should have been charged over this genocide. Under the benevolent rule of Mr Ashdown he returned to civilian life as the owner of what is, I suspect euphemistically, called a "night club".
I dispute absolutely & without possibility of compromise that to be opposed to the deliberate beheading of children on a racial basis is "illiberal". I suggest that the only political movement which could support such obscenity is a Nazi one.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
SUBSIDY TO TICKETS FOR HIGHLAND & ISLAND AIR
In 2004 I spoke at conference & later sent a copy to Mr Stephen saying
Currently we subsidise these airports by 2/3rds of their operating costs & have done so for years with no disapproval from the EU. The rest is raised from landing charges. Unfortunately traffic at these airports is so small that the landing charges per person are nonetheless prohibitive. I checked recently & found that a flight to Barra would cost £27 but it would cost £33 to land.One difference between the proposal & the current intention is that under the proposal costs would probably be reduced considerably further, at least if the effect of no-frills air was duplicated & that the reduction would apply to everybody thus having a real effect on the economy. The other is that, at roughly half of the subsidy already being made to Island airports the cost would be under £8 million whereas the current offer is costed at £11 million. The reason for the difference is that in my proposal the subsidy is applied at the earliestpossible point in the process, prior to landing charges, whereas this is applied at the end, ticket price, after all the middleman costs have gone through.
Much of the cost of these airports is because they have the same regulatory framework as larger airports. For example approximately 20% of running costs are for security. This, for example means £16.62 is spent per head on keeping bin Laden out of Tiree. Equally each airport is required to keep its own fire brigade. Firemen at Heathrow expect to go through their entire working lives without having to attend a fire – nonetheless when dealing with 30,000 people a day this is a necessary cost. I would argue that it is not when dealing with 5,000 people a year. There are other ways to save expense such as putting the management out to tender & putting runway maintenance in the lands of local authority roads depts. If we could reduce running expenses by 1/3rd these airports could be run with no landing charges at all
The Scottish Parliament has authority over this regulatory regime. The whole point about devolution is that from a nearer perspective it is possible to produce solutions which would not be apparent from London. This is a clear example & we should use it.
High landing charges are the main thing detering low cost airlines. In the example I gave earlier the total cost was £60. Were there to be no landing charges it would be £27. Were a no frills airline involved I expect it would roughly halve & were the number of passengers to skyrocket, as seems likely it could halve again.
Why the less effective more expensive method was chosen I couldn't say.