Saturday, November 27, 2004
First on Pora the "student activist movement" - as Newsweek said It happened in Serbia in 2000 with Slobodan Milosevic and again in 2003 in the former Soviet republic of Georgia with Eduard Shevardnadze. On both occasions, students—with a bit of Western coaching—took to the streets by the tens of thousands and toppled unpopular post-communist regimes. Now there are indications it could happen again this month in Ukraine. And it's what the leaders of Pora, Ukraine's highly organized youth organization, are banking on if the runoff presidential election set for Nov. 21 goes awry.
Immediately after the Oct. 31 vote, Pora began flexing its muscles.............."All they want is some kind of action," says Kiev analyst Mikhail Pogrebinsky. "It is not enough for them to vote."
So once again, as with Yugoslavia etc, we have "western coaching" to get the desired result.
And from CBC's Sara Newham— which is generally very pro-western but has the advantage of being a bit closer to the scene than the leader writers
We received sporadic updates from fellow observers in other parts of the country throughout the day. There was trouble in Cherkassy where a fight broke out and a policeman was killed. There were also reports of busloads of people, Yanukovych supporters, traveling to all the polling stations between Odessa and Kiev to vote. One organization, Pora (It's Time), set up a blockade on the roads going into Kiev so buses couldn't get into the city.
So the only bits which were not qualified as purely "reports" are that a policeman was killed defending the ballots in Cherkassy (SE of Kiev & marginal constituency) & that Pora were barricading roads (because of unverified reports of busloads of opponents). It will be interesting to see if anything more gets reported about the policeman's murder but it seems likely that, as a government employee, he died at the hands of government's "western coached" foes.
I doubt if any large election has ever been indisputably perfect but it may well turn out that this election was less fraudulent than our last Euro election where an improbably large number of writ-ins helped Labour in Birmingham or the previous one where the Lib Dems lost a seat because the returning officer allowed somebody to stand as a literal democrat (& get 10,000 votes).
Is it right to just keep rerunning elections until the "right" answer comes up - is it worse to incite violence, mutiny & the spectre of civil war to achieve power.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
UKRAINE - PLUCKY DEMOCRATS OR CIA EMPLOYEES?
During the Bosnian "independence referendum" which was certainly dubious our media made no complaint. During the coup that overthrew Milosevic (which was done specifically because polls showed he was going to win the 2nd round) our media openly supported the opposition. The Georgian "revolution" is equally questionable. Ditto reporting on Chavez in Venezuela.
It is accepted that western powers organized & funded the Yugoslav coup. It has been noted that coincidentally one of the opposition parties in Georgia bore the same name & logo as one of the openly western funded Yugoslav parties. Some years ago the US ambassador to Belarus (previously the ambassador to Nicaragua) said that his embassy was funding 300 opposition political organizations, which in a country of 10 million is quite a lot.
US Ambassador admits Washington is subverting the Belarus presidential election
by Stephen Gowans
The United States has launched a massive campaign to subvert the September 9th Belarusian presidential election in a effort to topple President Alexander Lukashenka, who has been moving slower on "free market reforms" than Washington would like. And Washington is using a strategy similar to one it used to oust the Nicaraguan Sandinista government in the 80's, and to depose Slobodan Milosevic in Yugoslavia last year.
The campaign, which involves funneling money to non-governmental agencies (NGO's) opposed to Lukashenka, a youth group reminiscent of the US-backed Serb resistance group that was instrumental in toppling Slobodan Milosevic, and Radio Free Europe broadcasts urging Belarusians to vote for Lukashenka's US-backed opponent, was revealed by the US Ambassador to Belarus, Michael Kozak.
Nicknamed "the weasel" by former CIA director William Casey, Kozak served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs, working in Panama and El Salvador in the 80's, and in Nicaragua at a time Washington was employing various shady and illegal means to topple the Sandanistas, including illegally funneling money to the Contras. In a startling letter to a British newspaper, Kozak revealed last week that Washington's "objective and to some degree methodology are the same" in Belarus as in Nicaragua, sparking fears that Washington is prepared to up the ante if Lukanshenka wins the September 9th election.
The opposition, in calling for the military to come over to them is an example of such upping of the ante & difficult to explain in purely internal terms. Gore, for example, did not, despite some serious evidence of electoral fraud, call on the US army to come over to him.
There seems to be an idea that democracy is not how the majority of people vote - it is only democracy if they vote the way our governments want.
The main checkable accusation seems to be that the media were biased but we are dependent on the BBC etc for this claim. This is the same BBC who specifically said that Izetbegovic was a moderate, Tudjman a "nationalist" (when they knew they were both nazis at the time publicly in favour of genocide) & the KLA committed to a liberal multi-cultural Kosovo. Presumably, by their standards, anybody who says otherwise is "biased"
Even if it turns out there was some voting fraud (& looking at the policeman who was killed it seems at least even money that he was killed by opposition not government thugs) the official winner has certainly freely got a considerable higher share of the vote than Tony Bliar's 40%.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
WHY I QUIT
Last Monday it was decided that, despite both motions having been previously ok, the constituency would not allow them again. The reason given for quashing Enterprise was that the leadership didn't want it discussed & would not accept it anyway. The leader of the ctte has said she knows absolutely nothing about such an intent.
I can understand anybody who thinks I am being a bit of a prima donna, after all I want to discuss a billion pound tax cut. However I believe in both proposals & have had no serious economic arguments from opponents.
In the circumstances, while remaining a traditional liberal, with great regret I find that if I cannot be part of the solution I should, at least, cease to be part of the problem.
1 the importance of creating an environment favourable to business in Scotland.
2 the key long term role that sustainable economic growth must play in ending poverty.
Conference therefore calls on the Scottish Executive to
(i) set up a Parliamentary Committee charged with actively reducing the burden of legislation on business, particularly small businesses
(ii) provide special assistance to individuals & small businesses seeking to register international patents & copyright
(iii) ease building & zoning regulations outside conservation areas
(iv) make a substantial reduction to corporation tax in Scotland
(v) target skills training on areas of high unemployment
(vi) benchmarking growth in Scotland against growth in the UK as a whole & in other OECD countries
(vii) undertaking not to increase the real tax take on business by more than 1% per annum until growth has exceeded the average of the UK & OECD
Scotland's economy is in serious trouble. We are consistently growing at at least 1% less than the UK as a whole. Currently we are marginally poorer than Spain which makes us the 2nd poorest western European country after Portugal & if either we discount the receipts & multiplier effect from the Barnet formula or wait a few years we will be the poorest. On the other hand Ireland which was in a not much better position in 1989 is now per capita the world's 4th wealthiest sizeable country.
What happened is that in 1989 they started liberalizing the economy - reducing business tax substantially & cutting regulation. This has received an undeservedly slight amount of coverage in our media & is often claimed to be put down to Ireland's independence (1921) or joining the EEC (1974) or having citizens abroad sending back money (19th Century). Since their spectacular growth of up to 9% per annum was first measured in 1991 I think the cause is fairly obvious. Note that this achievement has not been made by 5 year plans or starving the peasantry to buy machine tools or building nuclear power stations or any major sacrifice (although the politically correct brigade are now sacrificing their pubs).
This motion was designed to gently start things here going in the same direction.
(i) is designed to put cutting red tape on every MSP's agenda. I am not one of those who believe MSPs are lazy or in it for themselves - it might be better if they were not so hard working. Those who enter Holyrood want to achieve things & the traditional way of doing so is to pass a law or regulation. Unfortunately all such have side effects & when taken together can produce an impenetrable hedge of regulation. Setting up a commission to cut regulation is handing the MSPs pruning shears & giving them a job to do.
(ii) Small companies are far more innovative than large ones - this has been proven time & again. On the other hand they don't have as large legal depts. By taking on the legal burden of securing patents worldwide we could encourage innovative small businesses here & in the long term it would be repaid manyfold.
(iii) See the building motion for arguments.
(iv) Corporation tax is actually a reserved matter but I have no doubt that if we went to Westminster & offered to pay Scotland's share of this out of our current grant (& the Treasury experts were to assure Gordon Brown that this would have a net positive effect on our & therefore 8% of the UK economy) he would accept. Assuming that our corporation tax is, like our income tax, 7% of the UK's a 50% cut would cost a bit over 1 billion. This would cause some pain but without it the programme is just waffle. This is the only part that costs serious money, cutting regulations actually saves it.
(vi) Basically Jim would have to stand up in Parliament & accept plaudits or brickbats on how we are matching our targets. Concentrates the mind wonderfully.
(vii) This is a self denying ordinance not to kill the goose after it starts laying. Currently an undertaking not to increase industry taxes by more than 1% costs us nothing. With the economy growing at roughly that rate, we can't anyway. While such a party promise cannot be legally enforced parties do not like to be seen to openly lying. This would help to create an air of business confidence in our long term future & a justified confidence if it was kept.