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Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Liberal Party - In Memorium

   Dan Hannan reads the obituary for the Liberals on his blog today (though he uses it to punt the Tories, not UKIP, as its heir:

"The Lib Dems are finished – a squalid end for the heirs of the greatest party in history

What a miserable, tawdry end for a party with such noble antecedents. The Whig-Liberal movement was responsible for the finest developments in our history. It gave us parliamentary supremacy and religious toleration, meritocracy and a wider franchise, the equality of all citizens before the law and the supremacy of that law over monarch or minister. Not only did Whig principles elevate Britain above the run of nations; they created the United States of America.

Has this sublime tradition, the tradition of Edward Coke and John Hampden, of James Harrington and Algernon Sidney, of John Milton and John Locke, of Pitt the Elder and Edmund Burke, of Earl Grey and Viscount Palmerston, of Richard Cobden and John Bright – and, yes, of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson – truly found its quietus in the person of Nick Clegg? The thought is almost unbearable.

But the truth is that the Lib Dems had long since abandoned classical liberalism. Though the Homeric figures I have just cited would be astonished to see it, Whig-Liberal principles survive best in a goodly part of the Conservative Party.

The takeover happened slowly, through successive transfusions. The first occurred in the late nineteenth century, when traditional Palmerstonian Whigs, alarmed by the Liberal Party’s drift towards social democracy, sidled up to the Conservatives, formally amalgamating in 1912 (the “and Unionist” bit of my party’s official name dates from that merger). There was a second transfusion with the assimilation of some of the “coupon” Liberals following the First World War, and then a third with the absorption of the National Liberals during the 1950s and 1960s.

These transfusions left the surviving Liberals weak and anaemic, but still recognisably the heirs to Gladstone. Indeed, as their electoral prospects became poorer, they attracted unusually high-minded supporters: men and women who cared more about principle than office.

When did things go wrong? In 1988, when the Liberals merged with the Social Democratic Party. People sometimes think that the SDP was founded on some issue of principle: opposition to nationalisation, or to unilateral nuclear disarmament or some such. In fact, it was created because the Labour Party wanted to make incumbent MPs subject to reselection by party members. To be sure, there were some honourable Labour moderates, including David Owen himself, who had long agonised about his support for his party. But the mass of his followers were actuated by grubbier considerations: they didn’t want to lose their seats.

Suddenly, the high-minded Liberals were overwhelmed by a horde of petty, calculating careerists....

Pure liberalism will always struggle to secure an electoral majority. While some of its positions are popular – tax-cuts, welfare reform, Euroscepticism – others are not. I always tell libertarian students to focus on the big issues, such as the economy and education, rather than fighting losing battles on relatively minor questions such as drugs and pornography. As part of a wider conservative alliance, as under Thatcher or Reagan, classical liberalism can enjoy meaningful triumphs. On its own, it will only ever be a fringe movement.

As for the Lib Dems, they have long since ceased to be liberal in any meaningful sense. In recent years, they weren’t really anything at all. And, as King Lear observes, nothing will come of nothing. Thursday was the beginning of the end. Nothingness – annihilation – is coming."

   I put this comment:

I used to be a LibDem. Some years ago I was told that the party Executive had voted, unanimously, to expel me. That I was to be allowed to make a written defence (not a verbal one) to the charges but not to know what they were beyond having written things that were "illiberal and incompatible with party membership".

After a vigorous public campaign I was allowed to know that it was about having had letters published in newspapers supporting classic free market economic liberalism and saying we needed nuclear power. Years later I was told that a hidden reason was that I opposed the criminal war to put the obscene genocidal organlegging drug lords and sex slavers of the KLA in charge of Kosovo.
It would be wrong & presumptious to say my expulsion was when the LibDems abandoned the founding principles of liberalism, but certainly, that did make it formally undeniable that being liberal was officially "incompatible with party membership".

My defence ended:

"To accuse me of being "illiberal" is totally untruthful. I dispute that supporting freedom, seeking to end poverty, seeking to prevent the unnecessary killing of 24,000 pensioners a year from fuel poverty or opposing genocide can be described as "illiberal" by anybody with a trace of honesty. I believe that it would be in the interests of the party, as well as the country, to commit itself to traditional liberal policies & particularly to achieving economic success - time after time it is shown that the electorate want wealth, whereas Ludditism, bicycling, windmills & banning things are not popular Even if it is decided that such matters are "incompatible with membership of the party" this would only prove that liberalism & membership of the Lib Dems are incompatible. I must leave that decision in your hands & those of the Appeals Tribunal.

I have said that nuclear power is more cost effective & reliable than windmills, that strong economic growth is preferable to the UK's current comparative decline & Scotland's steep decline & that illegal war, ethnic cleansing, genocide & child sex slavery are wrong. If the "Lib Dems" decide that these opinions are "incompatible with party membership" then you are neither honest, competent or liberal.

Neil Craig"

I am proud to say I am now a UKIP candidate - that party being the true heirs of the original Liberal party.

It is possible that, if the party had kept Kennedy as leader, whose position on war was at least classically liberal, he would have prevented Cameron's bombing of Libya and he, rather than Tory backbenchers, led the fight against war on Syria. As such the party would have retained at least a fig leaf of principle, without which no party can long survive.

Dan, in your list of dates when the party lost its soul I would include when it first decided to support EEC membership. At the time it looked like and possibly was a progressive movement for free trade, so the decision was reasonable. However over time it became a party shibboleth, even as the EEC/EU become less of a trade area and more of a rickety Empire. This attracted illiberals into the party and drove out liberals, which is why, under Ashdown, the party was the most enthusiastic supporter of war & genocide in Kosovo and elsewhere."

Anybody not sufficiently bored with my history here can see my full defence here - My Expulsion - Defence statement I, II, III, IV

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Brian's Big "Debate" Today

 Was held in Townhead "Village Hall". This one was specifically about the reverendum (16 weeks to go). The total audience was about 35, which is poor, though no schoolkids. On the panel were

- Patrick Harvie, Green leader (* coincidentally on during the April edition previously described, and also previously described by me as "a permanent fixture on the BBC")
- James  Dornan, SNP


- Annabelle Goldie, Tory and previously party leader
- Jim Murphy, Labour (impressive - he has mastered sincerity and displays it as effectively as he did the spot of blood in the middle of his white shirt after the Clutha bar tragedy)

4 questions during which I was able to answer twice as was Robert Malyn, Glasgow branch chair.

1 - "Who should we believe when the figures the Yes and No camps produce are so far apart."  Obviously everybody said me, what else can they? However Harvie somewhat weakened my question to him by getting in his admission first. Dornan had said their growth figures were credible. Harvie then said it wasn't about growth or economic success but equality, greenery etc. When I got chosen I pointed out that Harvie had said in a TV debate that "nobody should vote for independence on the grounds that it would produce growth, indeed that he didn't expect any growth" and that Nicola Sturgeon, on stage with him, hadn't disagreed. Would these 2 lie to tell us which it was, since it is difficult to accept their position until we know what it is.

Brian then took several other questions and in the shuffle mine went unanswered, which is answer enough.

2 - "Can Scotland be viable without oil" - Murphy wisely answered that of course we would be viable, just poorer. Harvie said we must stop burning oil because of "catastrophic" warming.

I put up my hand and got called & said "As a supporter of UKIP I do not believe in the catastrophic warming Mr Harvie warns us of. This is supported by the fact that there has been no warming at all, let alone catastrophic warming since 1998. However, be that as it may, because of the shale gas revolution, we must expect oil prices to fall. There is as much shale available in Britain as to match our oil. One thing we can be sure of is that if the SNP or Greens had been in power when north sea oil was found it would still be in the ground. Again nobody answered it.

Robert also stated from personal experience of living in Ireland in 1990s and 2000s during the boom, that Ireland generally since Independence in 1922 has been an economic basket case and various public services e.g. health service, Public Service TV, and Transport Infrastructure roads / rail etc were pretty poor in comparison to the UK in General and Scotland in particular.

3 - "What about the pulling of cinema ads" - a light hearted bit in which people said which films they didn't like. I wanted to point out that this may show the people to be less interested in the referendum than the political classes and it would be dreadful if the vote, either way, went 51:49 on a 40% turnout. I wasn't asked.

4 - "Do we need Trident in a post cold war world" - Quite a lot of sensible points were made on all sides, mainly on the principle of keeping it. I didn't try too hard because I really don't know what the proper answer is. If I had been taken I would have said something about it being a token on both sides since there is no possibility of Britain actually using our nukes except as part of a general NATO action.

Robert got to point out the incongruity of those wanting to cancel our nukes on financial grounds while we give foreign aid to those investing in their own ones (ie Pakistan). 

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Brian's Big "Debate" - Bearsden

  On Friday I am going to be part of the Big "Debate" audience in Townhead. So here's one I did earlier:

Friday 4th April, Bearsden the panel, Patrick Harive for the Greens, David Martin, Labour MEP, Mona Siddiqui, Edinburgh Uni, formerly Glasgow Uni, Court member, Fiona McLeod, SNP MSP and Neil Baxter.
There were 4 questions on three of which I got to say something simply by keeping my hand up. The one I didn't was about global warming where Brian specifically said he was moving on though there were still hands up. Perhaps the email from the Head of BBC Scotland Censorship Dept saying that under no circumstances should any debate be allowed on the subject, in which the other side were allowed to participate, be allowed, had something to do with that. Siddiqui was balanced on this in that she said she knew nothing about it so Harvie was given as much time as necessary to assert that catastrophic warming was visible.
Childcare - all about the SNP promise to spend more on childcare after separation. It had recently been found that their promises that this would be payable for out of the extra taxes working mothers pay had no factual backing. No serious estimate had been made of how much these mothers would pay. I got to point out that childcare costs in Britain are 41% of average wages whereas in Estonia, not a country known for hating their children, it was just 6% and that the difference is entirely political regulations which, even though a member of UKIP, I couldn't blame on the EU because Estonia is a member too. Holyrood has control of most regulations so the SNP could massively reduce those costs right now if they wished.
Red Road Flats being blown up to celebrate the games - everybody disagreed with that. I got to say that the problem was not the blowing up but the decades spent letting them decline, when they were structurally sound - and that this was symptomatic of the way 3/4 of housing costs are actually political not technological. The blowing up was cancelled but that is just cosmetic - the real damage was done.
Can't remember the last question now but it gave me a chance, at the very end, to say that it was improper for the BBC to censor UKIP, particularly when it is important enough for attacks to be made (2 panel members had made such). Brian denied that UKIP was censored, citing as proof, that I was able to speak from the audience. I don't know if any listeners found that convincing.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

3 UKIP News Items

  3 Interesting news items about UKIP

- Lord Tebbit's blog on the Telegraph points out:

"There were some odd features of the poll, particularly the puzzle of who was really funding the "An Independence From Europe Party" whose title put it at the top of the long ballot paper which had Ukip at the bottom. Clearly the organisers and funders could have had no hope whatsoever that it would gain enough votes to elect an MEP, so what was their motive? I can only assume it was to catch out voters intending to support Ukip and lure them into precipitately putting a cross against its name before finding Ukip right at the foot of the page. One way or another it secured 1.49 per cent of the vote and if one adds even half of that to Ukip's score it makes Mr Farage's lead even more impressive."

I commented - Thanks for pointing out that 1.49% the spoilers took from the UKIP vote - something the BBC media have been silent on. Bearing in mind that the difference between UKIP getting no Westminster seats, at least if we don't target, which we will, and winning an overall majority of Westminster seats is only 10% (25% to 35%) that is a major effect.

Running this through Electoral Calculus we get

Conservative 210 seats, Labour 278 seats, LD 20 seats, UKIP 113 seats

- The BBC have just been reporting a ridiculous claim by the Yes campaign that, because they will achieve a marginally higher growth rate than currently, after 17 years we will all be better off. This is to counter an opinion from No that it will cost us over £2 bn to do the organisational changes of setting up new departments in every branch of government now run centrally. Yes's counter was to say it would cost £200 million. Bearing in mind that the enormously simpler job of raising or cutting Scotland's income tax alone by up to 3p has long been agreed on both sides, to cost £40-£45 million the idea that hundreds of changes of a similar order could be for £200 is ludicrous and even No's figure seems optimistic.

   Which didn't stop the BBC repeatedly saying the truth must be half way between each figures.

    This also induced me to send them this email. While it has not been answered it is now undeniable that a "balanced" BBC would have to give, at least, matching airtime and matching support for this:

"The Yes campaign's assessment of us being £1000 better off in 17 years depends entirely on the SNP being able to promise a slightly higher growth rate. That is simply an evidence free assertion. If they achieve an economic collapse we will be poorer.
Or if we achieve the average growth rate of the non-EU countries (5.5%) rather than our 2.5% we will, in 17 years be 65% better off (1.o3^17) or £17,000.
We can be much more confident we can do that with a UKIP government outside the EU. Lets see if the "balanced" BBC state propaganda organisation decides to allow, or to censor, mention of this option."
I have much more faith in UKIP, outside the EU, achieving non-EU average growth rates than I do in the openly Luddite SNP achieving higher growth rates, or any growth, outside the UK & inside the EU.
- The Scotsman has a relatively friendly article about David Coburn's victory.
"Ukip is currently without a Scottish leader – although Mr Coburn said he was “sort of running it” as the only elected parliamentarian the party has north of the Border."
I assume this means that because we have not yet had this year's AGM due by the end of May, Misty Thackeray's pro-tem leadership is no longer legal. Fortunately the AGM is promised very shortly and we can clear up the leadership issue. This is vital if we are to have a full range of radical, visibly Scottish, policies before the run up to the Westminster and Holyrood elections. 

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

From the Register:

China will become the world's biggest economy this year, overtaking the United States in GDP. As the FT drily notes, "Most economists previously thought China would pull ahead in 2019."
So China powers on, at a greater pace than had been predicted by Western economic experts, who are supposed to know about these things. But our leaders still can't seem to figure out why.

   Which shows the power of compound growth.  Back in 2008 I discussed this, pointing out that at 10% growth gdp doubles in 7 years and that by 21 years from then (15 from now) they would have reached our current per person wealth.

    Of course we could have had such growth any time we wanted as I have been saying since starting this blog. Indeed since then I have come to the conclusion we could have grown more easily and faster than China, had the political parasites in charge wanted it. But they don't.

     The Register goes on to say why China is managing this - because they are competent people just as capable of innovation as we are (or were) which is true but not the whole story.

  The graphs don't cover exactly the same period, though the trend is unmistakable but if we take the 1990 to 2002 period electricity production goes up just under 3 fold and gdp went up just under 3 fold. Who woulda thought? Allegedly absolutely nobody in our political class (except in Holyrood where it is provable they know.

"In modern times the main driver of economic growth has been, and continues to be, energy" - Jim Mather, SNP minister. Jim was the only competent and patriotic SNP MEP but unfortunately has now retired.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

UKIP Victory Across Britain as well as Scotland

  "There is no substitute for victory" according to General Douglas MacArthur and UKIP don't need a substitute.

   We came a clear 1st in the UK election:

   "UKIP won 27.5% of the vote and had 24 MEPs elected. Labour, on 25.4%, has narrowly beat the Tories into third place while the Lib Dems lost all but one of their seats and came sixth behind the Greens."

    So we may expect to see the Tories cease demanding free marketeers support them for fear of "splitting" the vote, indeed in theory they should start telling their supporters to vote UKIP everywhere where they came 3rd and while I don't expect them too, the voters are smart enough to work that out for themselves.

     While it was not the 100% wipe out for the LibDems some had predicted it is close enough - they were beaten by the Greens.

     Eurosceptic parties also did well across the continent.

    The Scottish vote is also a victory:

"The SNP won 386,193 votes on the night - almost 29% - with Labour coming second, on 346,377 votes (25.9%).

In third place was the Conservatives, with 230,569 votes (17.2%), followed by UKIP on 139,687 (10.4%).....

The Scottish Greens hailed their "best ever result", after winning 107,805 votes (8%), while the Liberal Democrats got a total of 95,076 votes (7%)."

   That is very bad for the SNP, particularly with the referendum coming up. It looks like a lot of SNP who would be Tories elsewhere decided to vote unionist. It is good for the Tories who were well ahead of us, though UKIP thrashed them elsewhere - I suspect this is not so much an increase in approval for them as a decrease elsewhere.

    Though we got our seat and are now the 4th party in Scotland, it was by a very thin margin. I strongly suspect that the votes going to the Tories not us (& more) was entirely because of the disgusting, dishonest and wholly corrupt campaign run by the BBC to call us "racist".

     In theory, and law, now that we have just over 1/3rd of the vote of the SNP the BBC will be obliged to give 1/3rd as much airtime to UKIP members as to Salmond, Sturgeon and co. In practice you would have to believe we live in a free democracy to expect that law to be enforced. However we can expect an almost infinite amount more coverage (ie some) and even some making up for 2 decades of censorship.

    10.4% in an EU election suggests a somewhat lower Holyrood vote, though, since Holyrood is under a PR system, not the squeezing out that happens in Westminster elections. To be a major party at Holyrood we have to have positive Scottish policies to put forward. I am convinced that the Scottish people only need some serious policy alternatives to the present "left of the UK Labour party consensus" that all 5 Holyrood parties share. I hope to keep on suggesting some.

    The Greens beating the LDs is also a humiliation for them, though it was achieved more by the latter increasing their vote - another sign more of dissatisfaction with the main party alternatives, I think, than approval of the Green enthusiasm for recession, blackouts and pensioner freezing.

    Bishop Hill reports the victory and wonders how much being opposed to the catastrophic warmong fraud helped. The comments give a useful balance of answers to that question.

   My opinion is that the voters recognise the connection between warming, windmillery and rising electricity prices and are not fooled. However they do not yet recognise the close connection between rising energy prices and recession - and that it is our job to make that clear.

   They also do recognise the discrepancy between the catastrophic warming we were promised being an obvious lie and the consequent fact that the parties pushing it (& state media) are obviously corrupt liars. This tends to reduce confidence in them. It will be interesting to see how, with UKIP having an increased entitlement to coverage on state media, they continue to censor us from climate "debate" as demanded by their Head of the Censorship Department. 

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Beagle 3 Cubesat - Response

  I got this comment from an engineer whose competence has been well demonstrated in the way that matters:

"It all depends what you intend to do. If e.g. you intend to drill down below the surface, or smash large rocks - basically use a lot of force and/or energy, then you have to be a certain size. However if you just wanted to take pictures - then you could e.g. create small probes and even allow them to be blown around like Argo buoys.

However, the best strategy is to avoid going for the one-off. It is e.g. better to send 10 probes costing $100million each than 1 probe costing $1billion. This is not just a numbers game, that some will get through, but it is also because the reliability and efficiency vastly increases even after one or two probes. And this is really what Moores law is -- it is that the more of something you do -- the better you become.

This is a fundamental difference in working between academia and successful industry. An engineer given the money to send this probe would have been successful. It might not have done so much, but it would have got there. And the way they might have done that was by sending more than one.

Or let's be more specific. If I were planning this I would have built ten probes. The first one I would have thrown out of a tenement block and ran the "mission" using that. The next would have been dropped out a helicopter, plane, balloon, then a rockets.

Then I would have sent perhaps three devices 1/3 the size in the hope of at least one getting results. But this is not how academia thinks.

The most basic principle of engineering. I would never have awarded the contract to myself or indeed any university. Instead I would have a found someone who already produced remote probes in challenging environments, either for medical use or drains or buoys, and they would have got the contract."


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