30th July, 2010

Is Philip Davies MP against racism or not?

by Sunny at 10:17 am    

Conservative MP Philip Davies spends most of his time railing against political correctness gaaawn mad. The Daily Mail love him: yesterday he was attacking Channel 4.

Conservative MP Philip Davies yesterday attacked the political correctness at the company saying it should employ people on merit.

He asked why, given that Channel 4 already had 12 per cent of its staff from an ethnic minority background, as compared with eight per cent of the general public, it needed special programmes like these.
When Channel 4 explained the staffing figures as being down the fact it is based in the capital, Davies told bosses: ‘You’re not a London broadcaster, you are a national broadcaster.’

This kind of stupidity is quite easy to destroy. If Davies wants Channel 4 to employ people on merit rather than represent people according to percentages, then why is he demanding that C4 represent whites according to their proportion of the population?

C4 is a London-based broadcaster, which inevitably means most people applying for jobs there will be from London. Given that around 40% of London is non-white, the broadcaster is in fact completely out of kilter with the area it works in.

Tory MPs can’t have it both ways. Either they want quotas for whites: in which case you could ask that C4 represent the population exactly. Or they accept that a broadcaster will recruit on merit from the pool that applies for jobs. Davies wants quotas, while claiming he wants the corporation to recruit on merit. He is either very confused or is not against discrimination.

Filed under: Media,Race politics
29th July, 2010

The EDL and Bradford

by Sunny at 2:21 pm    

My latest article for the Guardian expands on the point I made a few days go about the EDL coming to Bradford: Let EDL thugs demonstrate in Bradford.

I want to repeat a point I make in the article. I’ve had a fair bit of heat in the comments from people saying that the EDL demo will only raise tensions. I agree it will. That’s their whole aim of course.

But the people of Bradford aren’t innocent bystanders who can’t do anything: if they want to tackle community tensions then they must get organised. They have to find ways to reach out to each other. Simply banning protests allows local politicians and self-appointed ‘community leaders’ to brush these problems under the carpet.

Filed under: Race politics
28th July, 2010

The Israeli Octopus?

by Rumbold at 8:26 pm    

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, has caused a fresh diplomatic storm after attacking Germany’s most popular octopus:

The Iranian president accused the octopus of spreading “western propaganda and superstition.” Paul was mentioned by Mr Ahmadinejad on various occasions during a speech in Tehran at the weekend.

“Those who believe in this type of thing cannot be the leaders of the global nations that aspire, like Iran, to human perfection, basing themselves in the love of all sacred values,” he said.

Some may laugh, but last week a Pickled Politics reporter was able to obtain an exclusive shot of Paul attending the World Zionist Conference:

This also vindicates Martin Linton. Mr Linton, an MP, was heavily criticised after referring to “the long tentacles of Israel” and their impact on British politics. It seems he was right, and critics, including myself, clearly owe him an apology.

(Via Mr Eugenides)

Filed under: Humour,Middle East

What will Rod Liddle say now?

by Sunny at 6:27 pm    

So yesterday, 27 year old Mo Farah won a £10,000 gold medal in the European championships, 17 years after arriving in Britain as a 10-year old Somali immigrant.

This is what Rod Liddle had to say about Somali immigrants on his blog:

Incidentally, many Somalis have come to Britain as immigrants recently, where they are widely admired for their strong work ethic, respect for the law and keen, piercing, intelligence

Of course, he meant that sarcastically.

Both Sunder Katwala and I look forward to Rod Liddle joining us in celebrating a Somali immigrant making Britain proud.

Filed under: Media

An attempt to smear Operation Black Vote

by Sunny at 3:36 pm    

Ahh look, Harry’s Place blog up to its usual tricks again. A post by Edmund Standing is titled: Operation Black Vote and the Nation of Islam.

The implication seems to be there is some big partnership between the two. After all, the post spends ages criticising the NOI and then OBV. But it amounts to OBV having, “the need to promote a protest ‘rally’ in defence” of a police raid on a NOI mosque in Brixton. The press release on OBV, which Edmund Standing is referring to, states:

It’s reported by the NOI that the Police insisted that they had intelligence that there was a cannabis factory on the premises. The Police then bizarrely claimed that they were unaware that it was a Mosque building.

The police then had to apologise and pay out compensation for the raid. Perhaps Standing doesn’t care for police raiding places of worship or other spaces because he’s not religious. It happens less now, but there used to be a long tradition of the police trying to intimidate groups by raiding their premises without little proof. You either take a stand against it – or you let the police run roughshod over local communities.

Plus, the implication is that because OBV promoted the rally, they must agree with all the stances that NOI takes. In the same way, should we assume that all Harry’s Place writers who are defensive about the US government foreign policy also agree with everything the US government does?

Lastly, Edmund Standing, who Harry’s Place publishes regularly, worked for Douglas Murray’s Centre for Social Cohesion. This is what Douglas Murray said in The Hague to the Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference on Europe and Islam in February 2006 (note: It was originally posted at the Social Affairs Unit site but has since been taken down without explanation):

The point here is that the whole deal under which Muslims live in our societies must change. At present we ask “why do they hate us”, “what did we fail to give them”, and suchlike. It is time the West woke up to the fact that the militants in our midst – however large a percentage of the Muslim population – will never like us. And we should not want to be liked by them – so we should stop flattering and playing up to them. Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition. We in Europe owe – after all – no special dues to Islam. We owe them no religious holidays, special rights or privileges. From long before we were first attacked it should have been made plain that people who come into Europe are here under our rules and not theirs.

I’ll assume that Edmund Standing and Harry’s Place blog writers agree with the above then, shall I?

Filed under: Current affairs

Cameron to offer India say on immigration…?

by Sunny at 12:23 am    

Huh? I’m finding this somewhat hard to believe.

David Cameron is to offer India a direct say in drawing up Britain’s new immigration policy as Downing Street responds to fears in New Delhi that a proposed cap will harm trade links.

In a sign of what the prime minister will today describe as a new “spirit of humility” towards India, Downing Street is making it clear that Britain will consult Delhi over a proposed new cap on non-EU immigration.

Either it means the Tory free-marketeers have decisively trumped over the little-Englander ‘no immigration’ Tories, or it reflects on the country’s growing economic might and Cameron is just being very pragmatic.

As India prepares to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of its independence from Britain next month, the prime minister says Europe needs to accept the shift of economic power to Asia. “India’s economy is on an upward trajectory. In Britain, we’re waking up to a new reality.

I think I can hear the little-Englanders squealing in pain. The pragmatic free-marketeers have won.

27th July, 2010

The left and the need for a permanent campaign

by Sunny at 4:00 pm    

Harpymarx asks:

But Sunny do you trust the geezer [any politician]? You can lobby him, make demands on him and he can still ignore it

I did reply, but it’s worth making this into a proper blog-post that I can reference later.

As a left-wing activist I rarely do politics on trust. Politics isn’t about trust it’s about competing interests, and I wouldn’t just implicitly trust any politician if they got into power.

My default position is that the left needs to run a permanent campaign to get their ideas and policies into wider currency. That involves lobbying MPs, it involves grassroots organising and it involves kicking off media debates about certain issues and getting people to talk about them. It involves specific ‘targeted interventions’ (protests, flashmobs, exposes) to continually push a left-wing agenda and push the country leftwards.

As I’ve said before: politics is a permanent state of war. You’re fighting a constant battle to get your ideas and policies into the public domain and become established. And once they have, you keep pushing more. Or if you’re losing – then you keep pushing back. Politicians, by the nature of their job, have to weigh up lots of competing interests. The loudest and the most successful interest wins. My job as a left-wing activist is to ensure the left-wing interest group wins.

The mistake the left made (and I keep repeating this) is that it *trusted* Tony Blair in 1997 and thought their job was done. That opens you up to charges of betrayal and to disillusionment. I don’t get disillusioned easily because I’m in a constant state of war.

If I’m good at it – I can influence debates. If I do it badly, I won’t. I was part of the debate to challenge community leaders in 2006 and we won that battle eventually.

I challenged the Met Police’s Form 696 with a targeted intervention and they pretty much scrapped it by the following week. Those are two different kinds of successful examples. My problem is that the left, by and large, especially on economic issues, has been on the back foot for the 20 yrs.

The Left is a movement that has different, sometimes contradictory strands in it (the working classes lefties are standing up for are frequently quite socially conservative on abortion and such issues).

The key to being stronger is to find ways in which people on the Idealistic Left can work together with the Pragmatic Left to push the country leftwards. No doubt sometimes there are disagreements. But if the idealists think they cannot work with other sections of the Left, then they will simply be ignored and left behind. I don’t want to see that happen, but it’s exactly what is happening right now.

Filed under: Party politics

Afghanistan, now an unwinnable war?

by guest at 2:55 pm    

guest post by Ghaffar Hussain of Quilliam Foundation

So Wikileaks has published a ‘treasure trove’ of classified documents on Afghanistan which has got journalists very excited. But what new information has been revealed? Civilian causalities are being under-reported? Pakistan and Iran have been assisting the Taliban? Taliban leaders are being hunted and killed without a trail? Things are generally going badly?

None of this is news and it merely confirms what has already been reported in the past. However, that doesn’t mean that these leaks are insignificant. In fact, they are very significant in the realm of public perceptions.

The Afghanistan campaign has been compared to Vietnam in the past, often much to the irritation of military officials. But that comparison will become very difficult to ignore now with this leak. In 1971, the New York Times published excerpts of a secret document called United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense.

Continue Reading...
26th July, 2010

The war on Wikileaks begins

by Sunny at 10:20 pm    

I’ve said a few times that one of the more obvious double-standard of many neo-cons is how they like to apply different standards to people. So for example, free speech and civil liberties are very important for Muslims to understand and respect (because they’re unenlightened innit?) but when it comes to protecting the rights of Muslim hate-mongers to say what they want, then suddenly they start accusing others of ‘enabling terrorism’ or something.

They’re all for human rights and stuff, but not when Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch are criticising Israel or the US. Why can’t they just focus on the Muslims? They’re worse! — they squeal.

I don’t want to make this intro too long. I’ll just summarise it by pointing to this tweet by the Times’ David Aaronovitch:

The stuff that recent Russian spies managed to filch won’t have been 1,000th as damaging to security as the Wikileaks material. Big moment.

Tim Montgomerie, who’s more of a neocon than Liam Fox himself, agrees.

Hmmm… I wonder what they’re trying to get at? How long before Wikileaks is declared a threat to our national security and ‘an enabler’ of Islamists? How long before they start trying to find bias against western governments at Wikileaks and demand it be shut down? Not very long at all.

Filed under: Civil liberties,Media

Opposing the call for EDL march in Bradford to be banned

by Sunny at 5:22 pm    

The Telegraph and Argus have this front page.

Hope Not Hate are also running a petition to stop the march in Bradford.

I think the English Defence League are full of far-right racists and people out to create trouble.

But as I’ve said before, I do not want to see protests and marches by any groups banned, even if they’re the far-right.

It creates a very dangerous culture of people calling for bans of any marches by people they don’t like.

25th July, 2010

Female genital mutilation in Britain

by Rumbold at 3:19 pm    

Building on previous investigations, the Observer has further uncovered the scale of female genital mutilation (FGM) which happens to girls living in Britain:

Some 500 to 2,000 British schoolgirls will be genitally mutilated over the summer holidays. Some will be taken abroad, others will be “cut” or circumcised and sewn closed here in the UK by women already living here or who are flown in and brought to “cutting parties” for a few girls at a time in a cost-saving exercise…

Even girls who suffer less extreme forms of FGM are unlikely to be promiscuous. One study among Egyptian women found 50% of women who had undergone FGM “endured” rather than enjoyed sex.

The practice is widespread in certain parts of the world, especially Africa, where it cuts across religious lines. It emerged in North Africa in the pre-Christian era, and is a long established tradition in places like Egypt. Neither the Qur’an nor the Bible orders or forbids FGM, which adds to the uncertainty which allows the practice to thrive. Leading Islamic scholars, including Sunni Islam’s foremost jurist, condemned the practice a few years ago, but other notable religious teachers have continued to endorse FGM, suffering little opprobrium in the process. The head of the Coptic Church has also criticised the practice, but this hasn’t been enough to stop it amongst Copts.

Continue Reading...

The left and principles vs pragmatism

by Sunny at 10:39 am    

In a recent blog post, which tried to summarise a long discussion we’ve been having about the socialist left, Madam Miaow said:

For Sunny it’s “discipline” and “pragmatism” that excuse Ed [Miliband]. He’ll be evoking the spirit of realpolitik, next. For others it’s about principle and the will to fight for those with no power. You takes your choice.

Unfortunately, she didn’t properly reply to my earlier post asking, how should lefties deal with party loyalty and ‘collective responsibility’?, except by sighing, so I’ll work with the above quote.

It’s a false dichotomy. The idea that politics is about principles vs pragmatism isn’t politics – it is political idealism. There is always a middle-ground that many socialists and many centrists (within the Labour party) don’t really want to acknowledge.

Continue Reading...
Filed under: Party politics
24th July, 2010

Muslim women refused bus services because of the veil

by Sunny at 10:29 am    

The BBC reports (via Left Outside)

Two Muslim women have claimed they were refused a bus ride because one had her face covered by a veil.

The students, both 22 and from Slough, Berkshire, boarded a Metroline bus from Russell Square to Paddington, London.

But they said when they presented their tickets on Tuesday, the driver told them they were a “threat” to passengers and ordered them off the bus.

If this were the other way around the Daily Mail etc would be supremely outraged. But if the victim in question is a Muslim woman they just carry on.

Not surprisingly either, most of the comments under the ES article blame the women themselves for wearing it.

Filed under: Culture
22nd July, 2010

Griffin banned from palace garden party

by Rumbold at 9:32 pm    

Nick Griffin has been banned from a Buckingham Palace garden party after attempting to hijack the event for party political gain:

Before the ban was imposed Mr Griffin, an MEP for North West England, described the Buckingham Palace invitation on the BNP website as a “highly symbolic breakthrough” for the party and e-mailed supporters asking for questions they would like him to ask the Queen.

Mr Griffin also appeared on GMTV to talk about his invitation to the garden party.

But, in a statement, Buckingham Palace said: “Nick Griffin MEP will be denied entry to today’s garden party at Buckingham Palace due to the fact he has overtly used his personal invitation for party political purpose through the media.

Clearly the palace wasn’t withdrawing the invite because he is a member of the BNP, as the other MEP from the BNP, Andrew Brons, is still invited. Yet this decision, though correct, is likely to be used as a way for the BNP to continue to claim they are being persecuted. Their portrayal of themselves as outsiders and victims is their strongest weapon, and distracts attention from their actual policies and performance whilst in office.

Filed under: Media,The BNP

Good news! Government supports funding for women victims

by Sunny at 10:21 am    

Well, credit where it is due. Amnesty’s End Violence Against Women project have sent out this mail:

Dear Supporter,

I’m delighted to tell you that on Friday the Home Secretary, Theresa May, announced that she would extend the current No Recourse pilot project until March 2011. This enables women trapped in violent relationships by the ‘no recourse’ rule to access protection from which they would otherwise have been turned away.

Even better, she said that she would then be working on a permanent solution. The Home Secretary made this pledge despite the cuts climate, saying “some things are too important”. This is great news.

We will, of course, continue to try to work with the government to ensure that the project addresses some of the weaknesses in the current pilot, but this announcement is a major step forward that will give hundreds of women safety over the coming months, and beyond. Definitely something to celebrate.

To his credit John McDonnell MP tried to push this campaign too (it affected groups like Southall Black Sisters) but the last Labour government (to their shame) didn’t move on this much.

via the F Word blog

21st July, 2010

‘Invading Iraq increased UK’s terrorist threat’

by Sunny at 4:14 pm    

It was probably the most damning indictment of the Iraq war. And yet not enough has been said about it. Owen at ThirdEstate says it’s confirmation blindness and he’s right: us lefties have been saying it for so long that when it’s stated again – we just mutter something like ‘we told you so, you fucking cretins‘ and move on. But it’s worth stating again:

In straightforward, devastating testimony, Eliza Manningham-Buller told the Chilcot inquiry how she had warned about what sensible – but mostly frightened to speak out – senior Whitehall officials believed in 2003: that the invasion of Iraq would increase the terrorist threat to the UK.

More than once, the former head of MI5 emphasised to the Chilcot inquiry that the invasion exacerbated the terrorist threat to the UK and was a “highly significant” factor in how “home-grown” extremists justified their actions.

“Our involvement in Iraq radicalised a few among a generation of young people who saw [it] as an attack upon Islam,” she said.

No. Shit. Sherlock.

Why long before decent lefties like Nick Cohen try and accuse her of “moral relativism” or something? The Labour party people are silent because their main candidate is still busy trying to justify what happened, while not accepting at all the impact Iraq had in the UK. Tories are silent because they went along with this rubbish of course. Even uber-wingnut Melanie Phillips hasn’t said anything.

Now, I don’t believe the Labour leadership election should be a referendum on the Iraq war. But it’s striking that the Labour party is rushing headlong in pushing a candidate (D Miliband) who has learnt nothing from the debacle from start to finish, other than to say that ‘George Bush was the worst thing to happen to Tony Blair‘. But we’re not talking about what happened to Blair now, Mr Miliband – he is history. We want to know what you learnt from it.

Filed under: Current affairs

They call it ‘snookering’, I call it deliberate smearing

by Sunny at 2:20 pm    

A controversy has erupted in the US. CNN explains:

The NAACP has retracted its original statement condemning comments made by a former Agriculture Department official who resigned after a video clip surfaced of her discussing a white farmer.

“Having reviewed the full tape by Shirley Sherrod, who is the woman who was fired by the Department of Agriculture, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe that the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans,” the statement from NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said.

In the video, Sherrod can be heard telling an audience at a March 27, 2010, appearance before a local chapter of the NAACP that she had not given a white farmer “the full force of what I could do” to help him save the family farm.

But in actual fact the full video shows her saying the opposite – that she’d actually done her best to help the farmer. CNN quotes the farmer in question saying: “I don’t know what brought up the racist mess. They just want to stir up some trouble, it sounds to me in my opinion.”

This reminded me of the controversy that Harry’s Place blog tried to start up by smearing the New Statesman political editor Mehdi Hasan, which I then had to debunk and illustrate the full context to explain what Hasan was actually getting at. And yet, you still read extremist nutjobs on blogs frothing about how racist Mehdi Hasan was based on the video. It was a straight-up smear job, deliberately edited down and selectively presented for a particular reason. The same applies in this context to the NAACP incident. A small but very vocal percentage of people reading political blogs aren’t interested in context or understanding what the person is trying to get at. Especially if that person is black or Muslim. They get a clip that confirms their bias and they go apoplectic.

Update: There’s an excellent summary at The Week.

Filed under: Media
20th July, 2010

America’s military complex is out of control

by Sunny at 10:05 am    

I know it sounds like I’m making excuses for Obama’s unwillingness to keep to his promises on counter-terrorism. Maybe I am. But here is a sobering though: America’s military-industrial complex is out of control.
That’s the only conclusion you can derive from reading this detailed Washington Post investigation. Here are their headline findings:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.

* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.

* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings – about 17 million square feet of space.

* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.

* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year – a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

These are not academic issues; lack of focus, not lack of resources, was at the heart of the Fort Hood shooting that left 13 dead, as well as the Christmas Day bomb attempt thwarted not by the thousands of analysts employed to find lone terrorists but by an alert airline passenger who saw smoke coming from his seatmate.

They are also issues that greatly concern some of the people in charge of the nation’s security.

“There has been so much growth since 9/11 that getting your arms around that – not just for the DNI [Director of National Intelligence], but for any individual, for the director of the CIA, for the secretary of defense – is a challenge,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in an interview with The Post last week.

In the Department of Defense, where more than two-thirds of the intelligence programs reside, only a handful of senior officials – called Super Users – have the ability to even know about all the department’s activities. But as two of the Super Users indicated in interviews, there is simply no way they can keep up with the nation’s most sensitive work.

“I’m not going to live long enough to be briefed on everything” was how one Super User put it. The other recounted that for his initial briefing, he was escorted into a tiny, dark room, seated at a small table and told he couldn’t take notes. Program after program began flashing on a screen, he said, until he yelled ”Stop!” in frustration.

“I wasn’t remembering any of it,” he said.

That shit is scary.

All I can say is that lefties get easily frustrated with Obama not keeping his promises. They have a right to. But after reading that I can’t say I’m surprised.

What Bush did was create the conditions and infrastructure for a situation that makes it almost impossible for any US President to keep control of national security. In that environment it makes it impossible for him even to be a dove. The only way out is for Obama to tear this entire operation down.

19th July, 2010

Burka ban unlikely in UK

by Rumbold at 10:01 pm    

The private member’s bill introduced by a backbench Tory to ban burkas is even less likely to succeed after two Conservative ministers attacked the proposed ban as ‘unBritish’ (perhaps because the French are now debating one). There are plenty of campaigners for a burka ban who are motivated by a genuine concern for women’s rights, and plenty more who aren’t. But I am glad, for three reasons, that a burka ban is unlikely to come into effect.

Firstly, it is difficult to enforce. Do you arrest or fine everyone who has their face covered? For how long must it be covered? What if you are in fancy dress, or have had your face painted? Serious crimes (crimes against other people) would, cet par, rise, as police and the courts would have this extra law to deal with.

Secondly, it is an attack on civil liberties. People should have the right to wear what they want, providing they are not harming another person (I would back the right of nudes to walk around too). Once the state starts to regulate dress, you are on a very slippery slope.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it doesn’t tackle the root causes of what campaigners like Diana Nammi are trying to stamp out. It doesn’t make women any less oppressed, or make their relatives/in-laws any more liberal. It may in fact lead to greater restrictions on women’s rights as the sort of families who force women to wear burkas are the sort who wouldn’t let a woman go out uncovered.

In order to help the women forced or pressured into wearing the niqab/burka, other measures need to be undertaken. The state needs to ensure that such women have full access to state services, whilst vigorously prosecuting cases of domestic/’honour’-based violence. British society meanwhile must resist bowing to cultural relativism by arguing that pressuring women to wear burkas is okay because it is part of someone else’s culture. It is not okay to oppress women.

Benjamin Netanyahu caught saying what he really thinks

by Sunny at 10:02 am    

Bizarre this hasn’t made more of a splash. Tablet Magazine reports:

Meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu last week, President Obama could not have been more effusive. “I believe Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace,” Obama said. “I believe he is ready to take risks for peace.”

A newly revealed tape of Netanyahu in 2001, being interviewed while he thinks the cameras are off, shows him in a radically different light. In it, Netanyahu dismisses American foreign policy as easy to maneuver, boasts of having derailed the Oslo accords with political trickery, and suggests that the only way to deal with the Palestinians is to “beat them up, not once but repeatedly, beat them up so it hurts so badly, until it’s unbearable” (all translations are mine).

According to Haaretz’s Gideon Levy, the video should be “Banned for viewing by children so as not to corrupt them, and distributed around the country and the world so that everyone will know who leads the government of Israel.”

The idea that the Prime Minister of Israel wants peace always has been bollocks. His continuous refusal to curb the settlements already pointed to that fact. This just reinforces it.
via Neil R

18th July, 2010

Constrained by money? A response to Paul

by Sunny at 9:24 pm    

I’m more just writing down thoughts here… I was going to respond in the comments to Paul Cotterill but turning it into a blog post might be better. He says:

Now, what causes demand to outstrip supply to create rampant inflation? Well, mostly it’s when supply is constrained in some way.

Why was there huge inflation in Weimar Germany? Not because the government printed money, but because production in the Ruhr suddenly collapsed when the French and Belgian armies took over the area, after the Germans defaulted on the massively punitive reparations payments, and production collapsed.

Paul can take example of hyper-inflation to justify his point, but that doesn’t mean expanding the money supply endlessly has no impact on the economy. Let’s say supply of products in an economy doesn’t collapse. But if the government prints lots more money, it will eventually end up in the pockets of people. They will spend that extra money and suddenly demand will outstrip supply.

If you just keep it within the domestic economy, then it’s obvious why inflation will rise then. If however you’re importing a lot of good then it’s arguable that you could import more to fill that demand. But that would mean a trade deficit (you’re importing much more than you’re exporting) – which puts pressure on the currency, causing it to rise and hence inflation. Am I missing something here Paul?

Filed under: Economics
17th July, 2010

Losing the argument on the deficit

by Sunny at 10:08 am    

Since the same argument is raging on the other side of the Atlantic, I’ll let Chris Hayes of the Nation mag make my point for me:

The conversation—if it can be called that—about deficits recalls the national conversation about war in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. From one day to the next, what was once accepted by the establishment as tolerable—Saddam Hussein—became intolerable, a crisis of such pressing urgency that “serious people” were required to present their ideas about how to deal with it. Once the burden of proof shifted from those who favored war to those who opposed it, the argument was lost.

We are poised on the same tipping point with regard to the debt. Amid official unemployment of 9.5 percent and a global contraction, we shouldn’t even be talking about deficits in the short run. Yet these days, entrance into the club of the “serious” requires not a plan for reducing unemployment but a plan to do battle with the invisible and as yet unmaterialized international bond traders preparing an attack on the dollar.

Now, I’m realistic enough to know that the argument over the deficit has already been lost on one level here. The Labour party had no clear message during the election and they let the Tories define the argument for them. Near to the election pretty much everyone was fretting about the deficit and the debt, even Labourites. When your political enemies have forced you on their turf you’ve already lost.

I’m saying this partly in response to the astute Hopi Sen, who still reckons Labour should spend all its time drawing up some deficit reduction plan, as if that will somehow revive their electoral fortunes.

It won’t. The Tories will simply carry on claiming that Labour are playing ‘class war’ by planning to raise taxes and they’ll carry on cutting while saying that even Labour have now started to acknowledge the depths of their own incompetence.

The election is five full years away. Now is not the time to start preparing for government – now is the time to put the Coalition on the defensive and tell voters they are destroying their local communities. Very simple message: you just repeat it continuously. The Cuts Won’t Work. The only time this Coalition has looked shaky over the last few weeks is when Ed Balls repeatedly slammed Michael Gove and when Tom Watson called him a “miserable pipsqueak”. That’s the only time we saw fear in their eyes. You think they’ll be fearful if the Milibands spell out vague ideas that will be obsolete in a year’s time?

And even then, they’ll be trying to carve out very minor difference between the Tories using broad phrases like ‘we’re for fairness and equality and job growth’ – the Tories have already pre-empted that by calling their budget ‘progressive’. It’s bizarre that Hopi, John Rentoul and David Miliband et al believe that if they lay out some of these broad principles that somehow the debate will move on to their territory and they’ll grab the initiative back from the Tories. That intense jostling for space in the centre will do nothing to make Labour stand out at all.

Filed under: Economy,Media
16th July, 2010

So, will Geert Wilders be banned from the UK?

by Sunny at 3:35 pm    

The far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders has started a new campaign. The main aim of his campaign is to outlaw immigration from Islamic countries to the west.

He plans to tour five countries in addition to the UK.
Last year Wilders unveiled a 10 point plan to save the West. Some of those were:

- Stop cultural relativism. We need an article in our constitutions that lays down that we have a Jewish-Christian and humanism culture.
- Stop pretending that Islam is a religion. Islam is a totalitarian ideology. In other words, the right to religious freedom should not apply to Islam.
- Stop mass immigration by people from Muslim countries.
- Encourage voluntary repatriation.
- Have every member of a non-Western minority sign a legally binding contract of assimilation.

I bet Geert Wilders will not be banned from coming to the UK. And he shouldn’t be, because we must believe in free speech and the right for fascists to say inflammatory things.

But I also predict that the sorry shower of idiots who were vociferously calling for the Islamic hate-preacher Zakir Naik to be banned from the UK will be quiet on Geert Wilders. It’s one rule for Muslims and another one for non-Muslims isn’t it? Just the way Wilders would like it, in fact.

Relatedly, you may recall that Douglas Murray from the Centre for Social Cohesion has repeatedly written defending Wilders. In an article for ConservativeHome he said Wilders attacked Islam, not Muslims. Does he still believe that, I wonder?

Filed under: EDL,Race politics
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