April 28, 2006

leave the EU

Via The Serf there is the new campaign to leave the EU, with possible the most ugly website of any recent political campaign. Please sort it out, coming from the grass roots and trying to avoid the political classes is a good thing (which means that Mr Cameron's refusal to allow Eurosceptics onto his front bench could be good for trying to get out the EU). However this is not the same as looking like a bunch of amateurs.

The Sun nolonger shines on New Labour

Having posted the previous day that The Sun is turning away from Blair and New Labour now we find the reason why,
Murdoch's UK business paid 52 million pounds in corporation tax for the year ended 30 June 2004 and 48.9 million pounds in 2003
Finally having to fork out for the Gobblin' King going to piss anyone off, especially such a noted tax avoider as Mr Murdoch.

April 27, 2006

shrub pruning

If anyone else is worried about the US being run by somebody that acts so stupidly that sometimes I'm surprised that he ever learned to breath then there might be a solution. The States that form the United states can themselves initiate impeachment proceedings, and several (Vermont, California, and Illinois) have started to do just that.

tax credits must go

Once again the government over paid it's tax credits and is now demanding money back because of it's mistake. The sum this year is £2.2bn, a huge amount of money. This is especially when put into the context as Wat Tyler at Burning Our Money has done:
tax credits overall "only" account for £15.8bn pa, that means they're bogging up 15% of them, despite spending zillions on new IT systems (described by the PAC as "fragile").
There must be a better system than this, and there is. The flat tax with a large personal allowance (say £12000) removes the low paid from tax entirely, removes all the disincentives to work that the current over complicated tax credit and benefit system creates, removes many tax avoidence mechanisms, and is massively simpler so is harder to mess up and requires less staff (and so cost) to administer.

April 26, 2006

The Smithy Code

Judge, Justice Peter Smith has decided to take the piss out of the piss take trial that he was lumbered with where Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh sued Dan Brown over Mr Brown's use of their historical work as a setting for his fictional novel. The judge found in favour of Dan Brown but people reading his 71 page verdict discovered that it contained a message encoded within it that started 'Smithy Code'.

Expect the book about the discovery of the secrets of the Smithy Code next year, a thriller set around it a couple years after, and the the trial as one set of authors sues the other a couple years after that.

Postal vote fraud, again

The system for postal ballots brought in by New Labour might have yet again proved too tempting to fraudsters, and again it is in the midlands. This time Lib-Dem rather than Labour. Perhaps trying to even things up should Labour set up vote factories again? The sooner that this system is replaced with one, maybe the one that Labour got rid of, that is less easy to defraud the better.

Torture. Is. Wrong.

I don't often disagree with EU Referendum but this is a case where we defiantly disagree.

Torture is wrong, absolutely and unequivocally. There are no situations where it is acceptable. No mitigating circumstances. None. It is a barbaric practice that has absolutely no place in Western society, trying to claim that you where 'just obeying orders' does not cut it. Bringing this dark practice out into daylight is always a good thing, trying to stop it should always be praised. Mary McCarthy had some unfortunate personal motives, and the Pulitzer Prize commitee that awarded Dana Priest for her story based on McCarthy's (alleged) leaks certainly did as well.

But even if her motives where dishonorable then that is reduce to insignificance by what they motivated her to do. Trying to underhandedly advance your career is nothing, NOTHING when compared to authorising torture. If
The CIA leakers are arrogating to themselves the right to subvert the policy of a twice-elected Administration.
then that is good. Everybody has the right to protect their fundamental Rights, and the Rights of others. That is what Rights are for. Rights protect people from the State.

This is not some Tony Bliar style crap about the 'right not to get blown up'. Anyone doing that is breaking the law, those people are criminals and can be dealt with in the normal criminal way. A right is different from a law. Laws are what the State imposes on the individual, like not killing other people, but rights are laws that are imposed on the state. Without them we are left with the tyranny of the majority and the terror of the General Will.

There are some things that the State simply cannot be allowed to do, ever. No matter what powers it gives itself, no matter how it wriggles and tries to throw up a wall of 'plausible deniability' there are limits beyond which the State is not allowed if it is to consider itself civilised. Small things like not presuming guilt without a proper trial or not punishing people beyond what is just, both concepts torture drives a coach and horses through.

another EU rip off

Yet another case of the EU getting ripped off. This time the parliament building, the second one that is that is only used one week in four. It appears the EU has been taken for the "last 25 years, to the tune of some £105m", not that much really by EU fraud standards

Incompetent cunt to resign

Charles Clarke has said that he has offered his resignation to Tony Blair. Perhaps he took The Devil's Kitchen's advise. Hopefully Blair will accept, and perhaps install somebody in the Home Office that doesn't want to turn Britain into a Stasi controlled police state. Well you have to hope don't you, but from the past three the odds are against it. Listening to the radio this morning not only have less than 1% of foreign criminals been deported, the situation has been known about internally for years. Having first been brought up in 2002, and then again in 2004, before finally reaching public notice in 2006 when maybe something will be done about it.

Looks like Blair is backing him, for the time being.

April 25, 2006

VAT fraud

According to The Register VAT fraud is getting so bad that revenues from this tax actually fell this year. So why not get rid of this massively over complicated tax that has proved to be a fraud magnet? Oh we can't. Having a value added tax is a requirement of the EU, and forms part of it's funding structure.

The Euro is set for collapse, EU economic adviser

A article in The Business about the Euro, and how a senior economic adviser to the European Commission thinks the Euro is set for collapse
Paul De Grauwe, a leading economist whose work was used to make the case for European monetary union in the 1990s, says the signs point to a slow death for the euro project over as long as two decades.
It may take less time than that, it is already creaking under the strain.
De Grauwe’s research paper concludes the euro project will flounder on a key flaw: that national politicians bear full political responsibility for unemployment, but that the tools to deal with it have been transferred to European institutions.
Well yes, that is what happens when you give up control of a major part of the economy to a group of people that don't care about your specific country so long as it is correct for the entire Eurozone. As was said by the sceptics before the Euro started. Not that in actuality the Euro has been particually good for the Eurozone as a whole either.
In the long run, however, there can be little doubt: without further steps towards political union the euro zone has little chance of survival.
Which was also said by the sceptics even before the Euro was launched, I recall that there was even a Goldman Sachs issuing a paper at the time arguing exactly that. The Euro was never just about free trade, just as the EU or EEC was never just a free trade area, they have not actually yet managed to become a free trade area despite that being one of the stated goals for 50 years. Most of the institutions of the EU simply are not needed where this the goal, such as the commision and the parliament (with both it's two buildings).

The joy of sects

A popular troupe of Iraqi actors, the Happy Family Team, wanted to put on a show for children so as to give them a break from the curfew and bombings in Bagdad. Nothing wrong with that, in fact a very nice idea. Unless you are an Islamist.
They were in the van, so they made an easily identifiable target. They had offered to drive a woman friend to hospital on their way. Their vehicle came under a barrage of gunfire on a main road. Mr Jawad and the woman passenger died instantly. Mr Radi was dragged from the van and beaten to death.

Sifting through photographs of the murdered men, Mr Eadi said: “What has Baghdad come to when actors are seen as the enemy? We are not politicians. We don’t care what a child’s religion is. Our goal is to bring joy. Whoever did this cannot have a family of their own, or how could they murder someone who just wanted to make people laugh? This is the start of a mini Taleban in Baghdad if the gunmen decide what we can and cannot do as entertainers.” He buried his head in his hands.
There is also a peice in the Gaurdian by Peter Tatchell about the ethnic cleansing of its Ahwazi Arab minority by the Islamist government in Iran. And let us not forget the latest message from arch-Islamist Bin Laden (who should have been caught ages ago) warning about the genocide in Darfur. That is if the West tries to stop the genocide he will retaliate.

WMD known not to exist

Before the Iraq war most people knew that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction (unlike North Korea), including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice:
BRADLEY: And what did this high level source tell you?

DRUMHELLER: He told us that they had no active weapons of mass destruction program.

BRADLEY: So, in the fall of 2002, before going to war, we had it on good authority from a source within Saddam’s inner circle that he didn’t have an active program for weapons of mass destruction?

It would also be fairly safe to say that Blair knew as well, but since he had already given unequivocal support for the enterprise (there has never been a war which Blair didn't want to get involved in) he just kept on lying. There where plenty of reasons to get rid of Saddam, over 180000 reasons, but Blair chose instead to focus on a blatant falsehood instead because the soundbite was better. Very New Labour.

April 24, 2006


A nice introduction to Gnosticism.

The English parliament

An interesting article on the West Lothian Question, and why Labour will never attempt to sort out the massively scewed system that they put in place.
The Scots have their own parliament. The Welsh have their national assembly. But the English have only Westminster - where Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs wield over 100 crucial votes, far more than Tony Blair's majority of 69. If you count only the English MPs in Westminster, Labour's majority shrinks to around 30.
There is no way that New Labour will ever give up that many seats voluntarily. It was was created purely for the purpose of gaining and retaining power, anything that got in the way (such as overt socialism) was dumped. But they will eventually loose (unless they trigger the Civil Contingencies Act or Leg/Reg) and so the tables will turn. As by solving the West Lothian Question the Tories would effectively gain as many seats as Labour stands to loose, so they are going to do something. Probably an English Parliament, as it will give them a legislature where they are much more likely to get lots of seats just as New Labour choise to Devolve power to Scotland and Wales only as it is in these that they are likely to get the more seats than an English parliament.

So the English Parliament is probably going to come in about 10 years (Gordon Brown will almost certainly get one term thanks to the current pro-labour bias in the First Past the Post system), no matter if it is the best solution or not since it will give the ruling party the biggest advantage.

Labour and the politcs of greed

What can Lakshmi Mittal'’s £14.8 billion buy that Bernie Ecclestone'’s £2,243 million cannot?
The Romanian steel industry apparently. But Mr Ecclestone was probably a better business man as he got all his money returned after the legislation that he bought was enacted.
Some [*cough* Polly Pot *cough*] argue that the answer is transparency all round. By knowing what everyone earns, the theory goes, we shall avoid a climate of suspicion and envy. The opposite is true: we should stop spying on the rich because it makes things worse. If we want to be rich, we should work at it. If we don’t, we should concentrate on things that matter more in life, such happiness.
Or even both. But guiding principle is the greatest happiness to the greatest number. Rather than the bitter, twisted, politics of envy spouted hypocrites like Polly.


According to Comment is free Cherie Blair is seen as greedy and grasping. Now there is a surprise, it is she after all that is the more socialist of the pair, Anthony being simply Fascist, so the greedy grasping nature of socialism (I want, so give or I get the state to deal with you) will be more deeply ingrained in her than him.

April 21, 2006

More EU fraud

The EU has a worse record of financial proberty than Enron. Enron where able to get their books signed off every yet up to the collapse, the EU hasn't been able to manage this for a decade. So here is the latest scandel: 5 billion Euro of a 7 billion Euro project has gone missing.
the auditors investigated 29 representative projects in Russia, the main beneficiary of the programme, and found that only nine actually achieved the objectives for which the EU was paying. In total, only 5 of the 29 projects had any lasting impact.
The Commision spokeswoman said that there where now systems in place to prevent further fraud, but after all the years of fraud in so many areas of the EU's budget I am very sceptical.

tolerating sucess

An interesting report on the way that tolerance corolates with economic sucess, by attracting the people needed for economic sucess and allowing them to create.
While I had been studying the location choices of high-tech industries and talented people, Gates had been exploring the location patterns of gay people. My list of the country's high-tech hot spots looked an awful lot like his list of the places with highest concentrations of gay people. When we compared these two lists with more statistical rigor, his Gay Index turned out to correlate very strongly to my own measures of high-tech growth. Other measures I came up with, like the Bohemian Index---a measure of artists, writers, and performers---produced similar results.

April 20, 2006

blogging described.

looking through the stats today I found an interesting referer:
Helping you find Female and male mastibation Online
Can there be any better description for a blog?

April 19, 2006

big scary monster

It appears to be New Labours last remaining electoral tactic. Hold up a blurry poster of a big scary monster, a two headed tangle of limbs, hair, sweat, and fat and tell you that if you don't vote Labour this creature will come and eat your children. Then whip it down as the blurred shapes begin to resolve (could it be ... no ... it couldn't actually be Polly and Gordon could it?).

At the last general election it was vote for us or the Tories will get in, even though they knew full well that the electoral calculus made this basically impossible. Now it is vote for Labour or the BNP will get in. They fail to mention that said scarey monster is actually just trying to gobble only 8% of the seats, and is unlikely even to get a fraction of that, and will never win a general election or even get a seat in Westminster. They fail to mention that the best way to show up how bankrupt their politics is is simply to let them fail of their own accord. They also fail to mention that because of the unremitting centralisation of both the Thatcher and Blair reignes it doesn't actually matter anymore who gets in, as "around 80% of the money given to councils by the Government is ‘ring fenced’ for uses that the Government has decreed".

If you are going to vote in the local elections. Please, vote for anybody but the fascists. Be they racist fascists, Islamist fascists, Marxist fascists, or New Labour.

Renew your passport in may

NO2ID are going to launch a new campaign this evening to try and get as many people to renew their passports early as possible, before it becomes compulsory to get an ID Card with a passport.
  • You have to pay if it is lost.
  • You have to pay if it gets damaged.
  • You have to pay if somebody else steals it.
  • You have to pay if you forget to imform them should your details change.
  • You have to pay when the database is hacked,should your details be changed.
  • You have to pay if some minimum wage clerk simply puts your details in wrong to begin with.
  • You have to pay in total at least £300 to get the damn thing in the first place.
  • Should your details be used for any nefarious purpose once they are stolen from the database, and have no doubts that peoples details will be stolen, then you will end up taking the blaim for things that you didn't do.

Simply so that the government can track your life in the minutest detail, selling that data to whomever they please, and for all this money you actually get nothing. It just makes getting services that you had taken for granted slightly harder to get while affecting benefit fraud, terrorism, or whatever else New Labour is using as the scare story de jour, not one bit.

April 17, 2006

We're Overtaxed

The economy is growing, but the one that Gordon Brown has less part in is growing faster. Freed from the excessive regulation and taxation that comes from the dead hand of the state the black economy is showing what can be done. This is not the criminal economy either, which is also growing fast and being ignored by the government, this is what would be legitimate business where it paying tax
. He defines the shadow economy as all market-based legal production of goods and services that are deliberately concealed from public authorities to avoid paying income, value added or other taxes or national insurance contributions; to avoid having to meet certain legal labour market standards, such as minimum wages, maximum working hours, safety standards; and to avoid the other kinds of red tape with which the official economy is burdened, such as legal requirements to fill in statistical questionnaires.
In Britain the untaxed economy is roughly 12.2% of the total "in France it is 14.5% and in Germany 16.8%" where they still, just about, pay more tax than we do. The Laffer Curve in action, and perfectly rational. With the current tax situation if you are "Working half-time on the minimum wage and you pay income tax", where up until the 1960s you had to be paying about the average income before you got income tax at all.

Campaign funding ... does it matter?

Obviously it matters to the parties and the people buying the peerages donating, what what about to the actual outcome of the election? In Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner they ask the question and the data they find comes back with a different answer than you (and the Parties) would think at first glance.
the amount of money spent by the candidates hardly matters at all. A winning candidate can cut his spending in half and lose only 1 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, a losing candidate who doubles his spending can expect to shift the vote in his favor by the same 1 percent.
We know that large amounts of political spending is dangerous, as it requires equally large amounts of funding. Funding that will be paid back in some way or other. We also know now that no matter how much funding is given the outcome will hardly change. So why no reduce the amount that the Parties can spend, and therefore have to acquire, by reducing the limits on campaign funding? Maybe to 50% or less of what it currently is (£20 million). No more big TV based national campaigns, but local campaigns, on local issues, fought locally. Force them to reconnect with their electors by removing the cash that has allowed them to disconnect.

April 12, 2006

Light at end of the tunnel ... is the light of reason

Another supernatural phenomena appears to being brought into the realm of the rational, another gap for the god-of-the-gaps to lurk in closed. This time near death experiences
Of the people with near- death experiences, 60 per cent reported REM intrusion, compared with 24 per cent of people who had not had near-death experiences.

"These findings suggest that REM-state intrusion contributes to near-death experiences," said Prof Nelson.
REM-state intrusion being
an activation of certain brain regions that are also active during the dream state

Who's behind the decline of politics? [Consultants.]

An interesting article by Joe Klein of Time Magazine on what he thinks is behind the fall in interest in politics.

It can be summarized as the TV ads that are used to try an maximise the share of an ever decreasing vote that each politician gets. This means slick market research based advertising, with the politicians parroting back what the focus groups tell them to say. Unable to influence their political leaders, as their views might conflict with the findings of the focus groups, the grass roots activists die away.

Yet at the same time they are killing grass roots activism they require ever more money to pay for ever more TV ads to make up for it. A vicious cycle develops with more and more people becoming angry and disillusioned with party politics and so not participating. Yet at the same time the parties require more and more money so that they can buy their TV time, money that cannot be raised thought their now dwindling roots.

Birthdays and deathdays

Today is the 400th anniversary of (Scot) King James I of England and VI of Scotland the picking the Union flag as the flag of his own new united country. However Mat at Not Little England and Helen at EU Referendum seem to think that it needs a bit of updating. Which means that it really does need an update ... or the world is about to end.

It is also the birthday of Lord Mahavir the founder of the Jain Dharma religion, and the death day of Major Weir. The Major was, like King James, a Scot with an interest in the occult. Or at least he claimed that he did after a bout of illness, before which he had been the model of a Puritan leader noted for his pious prayers. He refused to repent preferring to be burned at the stake for his sins and got his wish this day in 1670.

April 09, 2006

Cartoon Wars

It seems that South Park still has some teeth, with this very funny venture into the Cartoon Wars.

The parties are asking us for a lifeline - well, let them sweat - Sunday Times - Times Online

A nice piece in The Times Online on party funding, and why it must not be done by the State. Even though rather a lot of it is already done by the state:
almost half their gross revenue already comes from the state. At Westminster opposition parties receive £5.5m a year for parliamentary offices, including aides, researchers and spin doctors. Since 2000 a further £2m has been added for “policy development”, whatever that means. MPs get gyms, discounts, freebies and trips galore. They are civil servants and pay no Vat. Their travel is free and their second homes (and in the case of some ministers, third ones) are subsidised. They recently voted themselves pension plans of stupefying generosity.

The parties also get an estimated £80m of free letter post, conference security and television propaganda. Even Sinn Fein gets £584,000 a year in cash for “parliamentary allowances”, despite refusing to turn up or even take the oath of allegiance. The money is described as “an act of goodwill”.
He goes on to show how it was the power grab from the centre, making local activists powerless, that instigated the cash crisis in the parties. And so it will only be localisation, and power returning to a local level, that can ever truly solve it.

Human beings are not attack dogs

A much better article on Comment is Free than Hannah Pool's mindless prejudice by Brendan O'Neill on free speach
"People are not attack dogs. They are possessed of free will. And most of them, I would wager, would turn down the footballer's offer to massacre other fans or the Jamaican singer's invitation to beat up some 'batty boys'.

Those who accepted these invitations to violence, however, would be entirely responsible for their actions. They should be punished, not the speaker or writer who allegedly inspired them.

To punish speech for its potential consequences is not only an insult to liberty - it also calls into question the existence of free will itself, and treats all of us as beasts who must be protected from our own worst instincts by the gracious censor."
The best defence against bad ideas is better ideas. Free them all and truth will vanquish stupidity.

Jounalistic plodder

You can always rely on The Guardian for taking any issue and getting it completely arse backwards. The latest is Hannah Pool taking the judgement of Judge Finestein that 10 year olds should be treated differently from adults. This is a legal principal that has existed since ... oh ... forever, but she retrofits it as racist to fit her own prejudices:
Finestein was complaining about the Crown Prosecution Service pursuing a case against a 10-year-old boy from Salford, Greater Manchester, who allegedly racially abused another youngster (aged 11), calling him "paki", "Bin Laden" and using the N word. "Does this amount to a criminal offence? It is crazy. Nobody is more against racist abuse than me, but these are boys in a playground," said Finestein. Really, no one more than you, Finestein? Somehow, I doubt it.
And there is Hannah Pool's own prejudice coming though. He makes judgments, he does not write for the Guardian, therefore these judgments must be racist.
Finestein, who apparently has a reputation for speaking his mind, went on to reminisce about his school days, during which other children taunted him about his weight. "I was repeatedly called fat at school. Does this amount to a criminal offence? This is political correctness gone mad, it's crazy," he said. Ah yes, that old chestnut. When will people realise racism is not just about the words said but the history of oppression behind those words.
Kids are bastards, but they don't care what they say so long as it hurts. The malice is there, but the historical context is completely absent. They do not understand context or consequence yet. Because they are children, therefore they should be treated as children.
The CPS has issued a statement saying the three boys involved were offered a formal reprimand (an official slap on the wrist, that is) but only two accepted, the other offender's family preferring that he go to court and chance his luck by pleading not guilty. Still the CPS's fault now?
Yes it was. The CPS could and should have simply thrown the case out before it got that far. The other two will now have a criminal record for something that, when it came to court, was found to be not a crime. The third boy would as well had his parents not stood by him and stood up to the system.
The age of the accused or the nature of the alleged crime? Is it that he doesn't think racist abuse should qualify as a criminal offence, or the fact the alleged perpetrators are young enough to be in short trousers?
Obviously the latter, if you where willing to read what he said rather than jump to your own prejudiced conclusions. As Judge Finestein made quite clear it was because these where children, acting like children that the case should not have been brought.
Would he feel the same if the boys were 15, say, or 25?
Well from his judgement, no he wouldn't. Certainly not an adult of 25. However Hannah Pool is so set on confirming her prejudice that actually trying to understand what he said is of little issue.

Of course the boy should be treated differently than an adult. He is not an adult. He is a child. He has not learned how to judge the consequences of actions properly yet, that process called growing up. Once he has grown up and learned what it is to be an adult then, and only then, should he be treat them as an adult. Or perhaps Hannah Pool would actually prefer that all children are always treated as adults. Caught hoping over someone's fence to get your ball back? 18 months in an adult goal for breaking and entry? Somehow, I doubt it.

The taxation bargain

Taxation is a protection racket. You may wake up each morning with your back clammy from Gordon's sweat of the night before, but he will at least protect you from the attentions of all the lesser thugs out there. Well that is how it is supposed to be, a rational trade off for the less of two evils, but this only works so long as government keeps up it's end of the deal and does protect it's subjects from the multitude of criminals. It is increasingly it is failing to do so.
the rules for much more serious offenders are being bent left, right and centre, according to Fraser.

“When I joined the probation service in the 1960s, the policy was to target for probation people at the beginning of criminal careers. The purpose was to divert them from crime and it made sense,” he said. “In the 1970s all that changed. The new policy was to divert offenders from prison — to save money.”
Unless that is the government stands a chance of getting more money out if it's already overtaxed populace.
There was no such leeway for Bob Lloyd, boss of a small building company, who committed the heinous crime of parking outside his house. Though he parked legally — because a previous restriction had been lifted — he still received three fines.

Tim Worstall: David Cameron: Do Well by Doing Good

Tim Worstall has David Cameron's do gooding list that he would like everybody to try:
1. Take the bus when you can
2. Get to know your neighbours better
3. Pick up one piece of litter from the street everyday
4. Re-use your plastic bags when you go to the shops
5. Switch to energy efficiency light bulbs at home
6. Reduce your thermostat by 2 degrees
7. Support your local shopkeepers
8. Don't overfill your kettle
9. Fill out a donor card
10. Give blood.
Hmmm, I could have problem with trying to do my bit for Mr Cameron.

1. Well I could get a bus to work, rather than walk. But it would mean hanging around waiting by which time I could have already got there.
4. When shopping I prefer not to take plastic carrier bags, so reusing them could be a problem. I have a day sack instead that is much more robust and easier to carry on the bike (to get to the local shops).
5. Already done, not to save the environment but to save my bank balance.
6. Could be a problem, since I turned the heating off a couple of weeks ago with the weather warming up in order to save money.
7. I do, and will continue to so long as they continue to provide a better service at a lower price than the supermarkets.
8. I'll try to remember, but the last time I used my kettle was in early March.
9 - 10. Impossible. They will not let me, because of who I am.

April 05, 2006

The POWER of party funding

Tomdg in the comments suggested that the proposal of the POWER report supported by Johann Hari would be a good way to reform party funding. Mr Hari writes:
The real solution was laid out in Helena Kennedy’s brilliant Power Commission a few weeks ago. She suggested that each voter should be asked to nominate a political party to receive three pounds of public funds a year. The political parties would – in a swoop – become more accountable to us, not to Chai Patel.
I'm going to assume that the tick box for your vote and your cash are separate, and it is possible to abstain from nominating any party even if you don't want to abstain from voting. Without those two caveats it is worthless because of the need for tactical voting under a First Past the Post system. With them it does have some merit.

However it also has problems, such it is centralising. The money goes from taxpayers to the treasury, then to central offices, and only then is feed back out again. Or not, depending on whether central office decides that that particular candidate is worthy it's largess. Don't do what central office thinks is right and suddenly your seat might no longer be a priority.

As Daniel Finkelstein pointed out in The Times
the state funding of political parties will make it still worse, certainly in the form that is being considered. The State will bestow its financial favours on central party organisations. Private fundraising will be severely restricted. Discipline will be rewarded, the maverick punished, and independence of view militated against.
And it is independence of view that is important in politics, not robots following the party line.

Without a plurality of views opinions all you get is an echo chamber with everybody reinforcing each others mistakes. The best ideas can never be found if it is not even put forward for debate. John Stuart Mill shows up the shear arrogance implicit in this stifling of opinion in favour of the party line
if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.
Cameron and Blair might consider themselves infallible, but experience shows that they, and every other political leader, certainly are not. This is the whole point of a Parliament, to have representatives of a multitude of differing opinions, debate them, and through the debate discover the best. By centralising funding through the party hierarchy you snuff out that debate before it can begin.

The reply to this will be: But even if it makes the individual MPs more subservient to their parties it will make the parties more responsive to the people, as they are not just voting them power but voting the cash to campaign. Unfortunately this isn't strictly true.

The standard deviation of percent of the vote for all 3 main parties over the last 50 years is roughly 6%. That is in any election the parties can expect that their share of the vote is going to go up or down by 6% per election, which under the power proposals would mean that their funding would also on average change by about only 6% per election either way.

Or to put it another way; even if they do as badly they are going to see about 90% the maximum funding they could expect come rolling in no matter what. Not a great incentive to be responsive and go that extra mile for their voters.

I have already linked to examples as to why, despite the damage outlined above, state funding of political parties will not even solve the problem of party corruption, and could make it worse.

Party funding

Cameron, the archtypical career politician, is trying to colude with the government to try and bring in state funding for political parties. Wanker. Of all the options available the he wants the worst one.

looks like Ming is in favour of state funding as well.

April 04, 2006

Free Speech

I don't like Communism. Communism has killed more people than AIDS. However Communists should still be free to speak their views and argue their case.

So it isn't a good thing that Iranian Communist Reza Moradi is going to court because he had a banner with the Motoons on it at the March for Free Expression, apparently this banner was found threatening. Unlike the banners inciting murder carried by Islamists during their protest against the Motoons which where apparently just fine. He should cleared, and preferably the charges thrown out.

ID Cards

The minions of the rancorous thug seem to have got wise to the fact that people will be trying to renew their passports before ID Cards come into force so that they can avoid being forced onto the Stasi database. The Passport office has remove the note that you can renew your passport early for any reason from their website, leaving only a note that implies that you can only renew it if it has only 9 months left.

It is not all doom however. Phil Zimmerman, of PGP fame, has release a new peice of software for encrypted voice over IP. It uses AES 256 and 3000 bit public key encryption for key exchange. You can even, like PGP, examine the source code to make sure the it does not contain any nasties yourself. One particually elegant part of this system is the way that it avoid man-in-the-middle attacks.
Once that happens, and the caller on the other end also has Zfone installed, the interface cleanly indicates that the call is secure. It also displays two different three-character codes. One party reads his code, e.g. "CF8," while the other says hers, "TKP."

This bit of cloak-and-dagger isn't just fun, it helps prevents what is known as a man-in-the-middle attack, in which an eavesdropper sits between two callers, intercepting their cryptographic keys and then relaying the communications between them. If someone tries that with Zfone, the spoken codes won't match what the callers see on their screens.
New Labour might have outlawed encryption with RIPA but this little tool should certianly help against the prying eyes of the UK Secret Police.

There has also been another release of Freenet, a peer to peer system for entrinsically anonymous file sharing.

Islam is stupid

Via The Wild Hunt

Remember when, in a show of religious tolerance, the Taliban blew up the Buddhas of Bamiyan (a UNESCO world heritage site)? It was due to the Islamic ban on Idoltary, which is also the excuse for the Motoon Jihad, and now an Egyption Grand Mufti has agreed that all scupture is un-Islamic. So that means that Islamist mental cases now have a great excuse to bomb the Sphinx, the Karnak temple in Luxor, and just about every other important tourist attraction. Tourism being one of the few major Egyption industries that brings in hard currency from abroad.

How the GOP Became God's Own Party

An interesting article in the Washington Post on how changing demographics has transformed the American Republican Party into a theocratic party.

April 03, 2006

New Labour washes fraud whiter than white!

Labour is not going to give up on it's corrupt practices, it is in too deep. While when in office Tories like Neil Hamilton sold Parliamentary questions Labour sells entire departments to the highest bidder. Hamilton stopped selling questions when he became a minister, which is why he got found out and disgraced, but Labour will never give up on Lord Sainsbury, he could bankrupt them if they tried. They would have been wiser to stick to cash like Tessa Jowell and here classic money laundering techniques rather than keeping two sets of books filled with loans and not informing the Labour Treasurer about it.

Since one of the excuses for setting up the UK secret police[1] was large scale fraud so I wonder if they are going to investigate the Labour Party? Unlikely I know, the probably have much better things to do like arresting people for wearing slogan t-shirts or commemorating war dead in front of the Cenotaph and other heinous crimes. That and they are under the direct authority of the rancorous thug that we have as a Home Secretary.

Or perhaps it wasn't corruption on a massive scale, but an attemp to become more like the people they are supposed to represent. We the people have been placed in hock for the tune of £70,000 for each household (excluding the Enron style off balance sheet trickery of PFI). We have acquired massive debts, that we aren't told about, in order to pay for very little in the way of services. So obviously Labour wanted to feel our pain.

No I don't believe it either.

There have already been Siren calls that all it will take is for the Parties to be funded by the tax payers and these corruption problems will all go away. If we do this they won't. Corruption will get worse. As can be seen by the example of our European neighbors and the EU:
Think of the sleaze that brought down Helmut Kohl a decade ago. German political parties help themselves to more than £100 million a year of public money, but this didn't prevent Don Kohleone's Christian Democrats from maintaining secret accounts and receiving briefcases full of used notes. Think of Italy, where subsidies turned the old parties into para-state organisations. Before the breakdown of the Christian Democrat/Social Democrat duopoly in 1994, a party membership card, jingling with ribbons and medals, was seen as an IOU, to be cashed in when your capo took power.

Or think of France, also awash with state funding, where some 700 politicians have been charged with corruption in the past decade, almost all in relation to party financing scams. A fair number of them have naturally been pardoned by Jacques Chirac, but I am not allowed to tell you who they are, because it is illegal even to mention the fact of their convictions.
These problems come from the fact that the parties are increasingly remote from their members and so unable to raise money in the traditional manner from their members. State funding of the political parties is not the solution, it would be like trying to put out a fire by pouring on petrol. The real solution is localism, reconnecting the parties with their members and voters. However this is something that the mainstream parties will be loath to do, it would mean that they might have to listen and represent the people that set them up with the massive salaries and extremely generous pensions schemes in the first place. No more shifting from an arts degree at university to a think tank to a safe seat in parliament, the type of career politician that makes up both front benches would be no more and they might have to actually spend time in the real world and work. And that would never do.

[1] Yes I am trying to set up a google bomb.
<a href="http://www.soca.gov.uk/" 
alt="uk secret police"
title="uk secret police">
UK Secret Police</a>


The Serious and Organisted Crime Agency (or Stasi for short) officially came into existence over the weekend. They are directly accountable to the Home Secretary alone and not bound by the conventions of policing. Once you are on their books you will be watched for life much like the secret police (which is what they are) in any totalitarian state.

The BBC is running a Have Your Say on this new force, currently the second highest rated post is this:
Added: Monday, 3 April, 2006, 08:43 GMT 09:43 UK

They'll spend their time hounding individuals who try to demonstrate outside Parliament.

(If youy recall, this was slipped into the Serious Organised Crimes Act and the girl reading out the names of Iraqi war dead was fined £120).

Beware this government - Stalin is just round the corner.
So at least some people understand that Labour is rapidly taking us into a Stalinist police state. Stalinism is back in fashion not just with Labour but in it's home land as well, torturing people into confessing to crimes that they had no part in. Which is what is to be expected since the basic presumption of torture is that the suspect is guilty (even if they are not) so you just have to hurt them until they tell you what you want to hear. A concept with which Labour are quite at home, with having tacitly accepted the use of torture so long as it has been out sourced to somewhere sufficiently far away so that they do not have to listen to the screams.

April 02, 2006

Only a constitution can save us from this abuse of power

Here is a good piece in the Observe about the horrors that Blair and his authoritarian crew have unleashed, pointing out that we need a constitution now simply because New Labour have destroyed the old gentleman's agreement not to be a bunch of tyrannical twats
Nearly nine years on, what we can say - quite categorically - is that Labour's programme of legislation challenges the British constitution like no other administration before it. In a thousand tiny - and not so tiny - cuts Labour threatens our rights and freedoms, the rule of law and the sovereignty of Parliament.
He then goes on to list a selection of the worst offenders, such as control orders the Enabling Act Civil Contingencies Act, RIPA etc. Perhaps he should head over to Liberty Central and see what us people that saw what New Labour where up to long before him have been getting up to trying to start drafting one.