Monthly Archives: May 2010

Richard Blake Signing


by Sean Gabb

I am  able to reveal that the critically-acclaimed and internationally best-selling novellist Richard Blake will be at Heffer’s in Cambridge on the 15th July, to sign copies of his miraculously glorious novel “Blood of Alexandria”, and to discuss his own genius and supreme goodness of mind. No cameras will be permitted….

Gerald Warner on Good Form re the Coalition of the Anointed


Coalition’s doing awfully well, don’t you think? It began as an exciting opportunity for two political parties, instead of just one, to share the spoils of office. Now, at the present rate of turnover, every Tory and Liberal Democrat backbencher should get a shot at ministerial office by the time the five years of power the coalition is gerrymandering for itself has elapsed. Just 18 days into the New Politics, David Laws, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, resigned for reasons that, to the untutored eye, look very similar to the old politics.

In his reply to Laws’ letter of resignation, David Cameron told him: “You are a good and honourable man.” That is good to know. So, why is he leaving the Government?

The little local difficulty was that Laws, over an eight-year period, had claimed more than £40,000 in expenses, against the parliamentary rules. It seems that further expenses remain to be scrutinised. According to The Daily Telegraph: “He also regularly claimed up to £150 a month for utilities and £200 a month for service and maintenance until parliamentary authorities began demanding receipts. Claims then dropped to only £37 a month for utility bills and £74 a month for his share of the council tax. Claims for service, maintenance and repairs dropped dramatically to less than £25 a month.”

It is fortunate that we are dealing here with a good and honourable man, otherwise some people might put an uncharitable construction on those facts. Cameron went on to say in his reply to Laws: “I am sure that, throughout, you have been motivated by wanting to protect your privacy rather than anything else.” Reading that and the similar drivel that has cascaded out of the establishment over the past 24 hours, one would think that Laws was under some compelling duress to take £40,000 of taxpayers’ money in order to protect his privacy. On the contrary, his privacy was only invaded because he had taken public money.

Once an individual claims any kind of state subsidy, his privacy is forfeit: the humblest benefits recipient could confirm that. The one certain way to have preserved his privacy was for Laws to have claimed no money – as he could easily have afforded to do. Laws is a multi-millionaire as a result of his previous career in banking: he was a vice-president of J P Morgan and then the managing director of Barclays de Zoete Wedd, before he was 30. That an MP with that kind of personal wealth elected to take more than £40,000 from the taxpayer says it all about politicians’ sense of entitlement.

It was that sense of entitlement that brought him down. His private life was revealed by Laws himself, in a transparent attempt to claim victimhood. To some degree that ploy succeeded, as the Dianafication of the former Chief Secretary among his colleagues and some elements of the media over the past 24 hours testifies. Cameron’s letter also said: “Your decision to resign from the Government demonstrates the importance you attach to your integrity.” It is good to have that on record, Dave, otherwise we might have imagined it had something to do with greed, media exposure and public anger.

Among the political nomenklatura much emphasis is being put on the likelihood that Laws will return to government. That is an expression of the resentment felt by the Entitled Ones that the public’s unreasonable touchiness about the disposal of taxpayers’ money has momentarily compelled them to abandon one of their own; but if the mug punters of the electorate think they have the final say they will be taught the error of their ways. The significance of the Laws affair is it signals that the sleaze which dominated the last parliament has leaped the fire-break of the general election to infect the New Politics. Anybody who ever imagined it would be otherwise is cerebrally challenged.

Another symptom of business as usual last week was HM Revenue and Customs blocking the peerage Cameron intended to bestow on Sir Anthony Bamford, a prominent Conservative Party donor. A minority of the public has succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome towards the political parasite class, masochistically decrying the exposure of Laws and giving him the “Parnell, my dead king!” treatment. The majority, however, has already shrugged off the momentary euphoria of the New Politics, assessed the situation and rightly concluded of its political masters: “They’re at it again.”

Less than a week ago I wrote that the Cameron project “has the smell of political death about it” – at a time when coalition scepticism ranked close to “climate denial” in establishment obloquy. The coalition is already unravelling, subverted by its own internal contradictions. Vince Cable has been passed over for Treasury office – the only role he deems worthy of his talents – twice in one month: the core of the Lib Dem reactor is close to meltdown. Dave is a loser: he lost the election, he lost the fight he picked with the 1922 Committee and now he has lost David Laws. This Government will end in epic disaster.

David Laws and His Sexuality


David Webb

I feel obliged to give me view on this. As the person who was more interested in cuts, Laws is a loss to the coalition – and let’s be frank, Laws was a more serious Treasury minister than Osborne, and arguably a more serious politician than Cameron too. Of course all ministers have to meet the law with regard to expenses, and I don’t believe Laws’ protestations that even his close family don’t know his sexual proclivities.

I think he was trying to claim victim status to cover up his booboo on expenses. But on the specific issue of whether a “gay partner” is a spouse – no, a gay partner is not a spouse. Sleeping with your same-sex landlord does not make that landlord a spouse. I suppose Laws is hoist with his own petard – he has never spoken against all this gay-friendly legislation. But let’s be clear: marriage is marriage, and nothing that is not marriage is marriage. If he had opposed attempts to define gay partners as spouses, I would accept Laws was in the right on this issue, but he didn’t.

I do feel sorry for him on the privacy issue though. We are moving increasingly towards a state where everyone’s sexual proclivities will be listed in a government database. How can you monitor homophobia if you don’t know who is and is not attracted to the same sex? There was that old folks’ home in the south where the residents were required to state their sexual inclinations. We must resist this. People ought to have the right to privacy – and Laws was right on this one point – and so a relationship that falls short of marriage is simply not something that should be required to be reported to the authorities for any purpose.

In many cases, individual people don’t know the full boundaries of their own sexuality and so could not give an honest answer to the question anyway. I disagree with a sexualised society where all this information is constantly in the public domain. Why not require decorum from everyone? And in fact Laws did conduct himself with decorum – in contradistinction to the vast majority of “gay” men in the public eye.

Review – The Terror of Constantinople by Richard Blake


 

Blake, Richard – ‘The Terror of Constantinople’
Paperback: 432 pages (Jan. 2010) Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks ISBN: 034095115X

The best type of books are those that lift you out of your surroundings and immerse you completely in the action, sounds and atmosphere of another time and place. Blake does just this with THE TERROR OF CONSTANTINOPLE and it was a real shame to finish the final page, as Constantinople was a fascinating place to visit, albeit just in my head. It is so very obvious that Blake, a historian, knows a great deal about the Roman Empire and goings-on at that time. The details in this book are so life-like that they carry you away on a tide of ancient history….and blood.

Aelric, a young and ambitious English man, is sent, by the Roman authorities, to Constantinople, in order to seek out and copy religious texts in their various libraries and solve some of the doctrinal controversies of the new Christian faith. Aelric is smart and streetwise but none too happy at the prospect of leaving his lady and unborn child alone for who knows how long. However, he has no choice in the matter and soon finds out that there are other, more sinister, reasons for his trip. He becomes embroiled in solving a murder and, indeed, has more than one attempt on his own life. He is taken captive, but escapes, is put in impossible situations by the emperor, Phocas, and has to rely on his wits and charm to save not only his own life, but those of his slaves and close companions.

Aelric is an extremely likeable character. He is a delightful mixture of energy, cheekiness, intelligence and, even, vulnerability – although he wouldn’t be at all happy for being described in this way. He longs to just go home and be with Greta, his lady, and wants to be present at the birth of his child. He shows real compassion regarding his slaves and not only treats them well but frees more than one of them in gratitude for their service to him. The book is written in terms of being his memoirs, as he sits in a monastery in England in his old age and reflects fondly on the memories of his somewhat reckless youth.

THE TERROR OF CONSTANTINOPLE is a very absorbing and interesting read. It is extremely well written but at the same time isn’t a particularly challenging book to read – just perfect for reading in bed or on the bus.

Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland
January 2010

Review – The Terror of Constantinople by Richard Blake

Heres mine


Michale Winning

Another Test of Libertarian Credentials


Sean Gabb

This one is from the Center for a Stateless Society – http://c4ss.org/quiz

Here, for what it may be worth, is how I score:

Meetings of the Other Libertarian Alliance


We meet on the second Monday of the month at 7pm at The Institute of Education, just off Russell Square – student bar, Room S16, Thornhaugh Street, London, WC1B 5EA.

On Monday, 14 June Christian Michel will talk on “Our Northwest Passage, How to go from here to a free society”

On Monday, 12 July Jock Coates will speak on “Mutualism”.

On Monday, 9 August Derrick Silver will speak on Global Warming.

On Monday, 13 September Tim Evans will speak on ‘Thoughts on the UK’s Libertarian Movement’

On Monday, 11th October, Detlev Schlichter will speak on “Paper Money Collapse – The Folly of Elastic Money and the Coming Monetary Breakdown”.

Detlev is a long-standing libertarian who has worked for almost 20 years in the financial industry as a trader and portfolio manager. He has recently completed work on a book of Austrian Economics aimed at an audience in the City and the world of finance.”

On Monday, 8 November Anthony J. Evans will present “A Proposal for Sound Money”

All are welcome, admission free. So do come along.
DAVID McDONAGH