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Archive for October 2011

Redistribution?

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Written by David

October 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Euroscepticism

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Like the Conservative Right in the USA (who we now know is a funder of British Eurosceptics) – Euroscepticism flourishs where myths and misunderstandings abound. In fact it has been a tactic of Eurosceptics and their mouthpieces (I’m talking about you – the Daily Mail!) to spread distortions and fear.

I came across a post by Tim Montgomerie, “The Tory Diary” on which he calls on the Right to learn the lessons of the No to AV Campaign, which he says “was to follow the research when fighting a campaign and not the establishment wisdom.”

So what arguments should Eurosceptics use?

He argues that they should use the results from answers given by the public to (what I regard as very loaded) questions about their objections to the EU.

He lists them – and adds – “We also found that 20% of respondents identified “European human rights laws” as the least attractive feature of the EU.”

Sadly this results not from fact – but a confusion between the EU (27 Members – founded in mid 1950s – we joined in 1973) and the European Convention on Human Rights (part of the Council of Europe – set up in the late 1940s – 47 members – we were members from the start and played a key role in writing the Convention). The media has its responsibility – for often referring to “the European Court” failing to say whether a decision is of the EU’s court in Luxembourg or the European Court of Human Rights, which is in Strasbourg.

As a law lecturer – I am aware of the disturbingly high number of law students who don’t know the difference – if we are to tackle the Conservative Right – we need to tackle the myths and misunderstandings which their campaigns rest upon.

Written by David

October 24, 2011 at 9:47 am

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Anti-Government claims challenged

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It is worth reflecting on Lord Acton’s comment that “power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely”. It is not a problem confined to those in public service. All power – including economic power, can corrupt those who enjoy it. One of the roles of a government can be to hold to account those who have power.

That’s why I believe in active and strong legislative bodies – they can limit the accumulation of unaccountable power – through anti-trust (competition) laws; can regulate against activities which involve the deception; exploitation and endangering the health and life of others (consumer protection laws) they can bring those who abuse power to account for their actions (Congressional and, though weaker British parliamentary Select, committees).

Much has been achieved through progressive use of political power. Consider the exploitation of people in the 19th Century. We no longer permit child labour; there is a minimum wage; in most countries there are safety nets to protect people from the misfortunes of chance (and I’m very proud of the British National Health Service).

If you don’t trust your politicians, hold them to account – I have little sympathy for those whose motives in denigrating politicians and public servants is to allow the holders of economic wealth to escape accountability; to enable them to expand their unjust exploitation of fellow humans; animals and the planet on which we live. I’m very suspicious of those who are always calling for a “bonfire of regulations” and “getting government off their backs” – because I’ve found that in practice they mean they want to be free to kill off competition; pay others little while making a grossly unfair profit off other people’s labour; stop accountability through Parliament/Congress or the Courts (like so called “Tort Reform”).

[This was a response to an attack by one of the anti-government/progressive rants I received from the likes of a tea partier to my recent video]

Written by David

October 19, 2011 at 6:25 am

The malign influence of the American Right

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I have been warning for some years about the dangers of Right Wing American money being used to surreptitiously influence politics. This morning’s Observer – in response to the Liam Fox scandal – has published some of these clandestine links.

Watchers of the right-wing American scene will recognise the names of the Koch Brothers and others. People who have used their wealth to push their ideologically extremist agenda. I repeat my oft-made comment – we in Britain (and in Europe) need to make ourselves aware of these peoples’ activities – and the way that they have used their money to bring the extremist right to a position of considerable influence and power in the US. They are the people who have put up the money for a network of right wing organisations who had now reached the position that they are ‘framing’ political discource in the USA. They are the ones who have promoted apparently unrelated organisations, to entice people in, then fill them with their loathsome ideas.

Can I recommend some useful books which exposé their activities and methods –

The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Ruined Government, Enriched Themselves, and Beggared the Nation

The Conservative Assault on the Constitution

Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

and some of the works of Sidney Blumenthal

Rise of the Counter-Establishment: The Conservative Ascent to Political Power

The Clinton Wars

Written by David

October 16, 2011 at 12:52 pm

The Challenges We Face

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Written by David

October 1, 2011 at 8:34 pm