Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Smart Guys Theory Of History

Today, an incident occurred which has forced me to cease writing my book immediately.
It’s become clear that its theme has become too urgent, too immediate to wait for submission, rejection and eventual publication; accordingly, its main points are very heavily condensed into this post.
It may give some serious pause for thought to those who think that Alex Salmond would make a fit and proper leader for an independent Scotland.
It is the product of having read 41 books on European, French and Russian history and economics since January 2007; and if nothing else, it may puncture the belief that holding a professorship in history at Harvard does not by and of itself confer great historical insight.
Last week, the Sunday Herald published this letter of mine in its entirety; they only changed a couple of spellings –
As a Unionist who stubbornly refuses to refer to our constitutional Scottish Executive by its new and funky, but unconstitutional, name of 'The Scottish Government', the First Minister's behaviour since his victory in a botched election has been appalling.
His claim that he and his clique are the only group with the right and title to call themselves the government of Scotland is a disgrace; little short of lese-majeste. His consistent interference in undevolved areas such as defence reeks of the elitism, grandeeism and contempt for the rule of law for which the pre-Union Scottish Parliament was notorious, characterised by Erskine of Grange's comment in 1735 that prior to the Union, 'liberty was a stranger here'.
Salmond's contempt for the law is so bald, so blatant that it is clear than an independent Scotland founded on the back of his 'Shortbread Revolution' ideology would soon fall back into its old, corrupt, lawless rut. His contempt finds allies in so-called 'Unionist' politicians too timid to call him out and cut him down to size.
It's not as if the so-called 'Nationalists' have much imagination. We keep hearing about how much like Ireland and Estonia we'd be; what about aiming to be like Switzerland instead?
Wha's like us?"
Today, it runs a reply from one ‘Malcolm Cordell’ of Broughty Ferry – possibly the same Malcolm Cordell who, on 30 June 2006, won a tenner on the Dundee United FC lottery. In this letter he admits my letter referred to “characters and events unfamiliar to (him)”, which one would have thought was his problem, not mine, but he still felt able to conclude his correspondence with the following sentence –
Incidentally, why did I feel that Kelly’s wish for Alex Salmond to be ‘cut down to size’ was meant literally? Beheaded, maybe?”
There’s no fool like a smug, self-satisfied Scotch fool; and anyone who thinks that for one person to use a perfectly normal figure of speech such as ‘to cut down to size’, in its correct context of reining in an upstart, is for them to wish violence to be done against another is a fool. However, they are an enlightening fool nonetheless.
It’s now obvious that some Scottish nationalist circles consider the expression of doubts over Alex Salmond’s bona fides and sincerity to be crimethink.
Jenny Hjul has published a commentary in today’s Sunday Times (which as far as I can see is not online) entitled “Salmond’s winter festival leaves me cold”. Referring to some sort of Scotia Festa running from 30th November to 25th January, she writes– “Information packs, complete with the flags, have been dispatched to nurseries and universities, and leaflets advising (of) suitable ways of having fun are being sent out to schools."
Upon reflection, the scenes of hundreds of children jumping up and down for joy upon the news that Glasgow had been awarded the 2014 Commonwealth Games looked eerily like something one might expect from North Korea; more Pyongyang than Partick.
Although I am childless, I am very gravely concerned that Scotland’s children are being subjected to a massive campaign of indoctrination into Scottish nationalist ideology on the taxpayers’ time. If this is the case, then Salmond is as guilty of crimes against the young, the vulnerable and the impressionable as were Stalin and Hitler.
I’m sure he’s not aiming to establish a ‘Fuhrerprinzip’; a ‘Tartanprinzip’ would do nicely.
Yet none dare ask the question – could he cut it?
I’m afraid I believe the answer to be no; and not only because the weight of the nation cannot be borne by a man with a bad back. When faced with the achievements of the guys who've actually done what he says he wants to do, he can't get off the starting blocks.
THE ‘SMART GUYS’ THEORY OF HISTORY
(Abridged from my book; and wherein is explained the meaning of the phrase ‘The Shortbread Revolution’)
Scotland, one of the very few nations whose people yearn for ‘freedom’ while they holiday in Dubai, has a habit of producing ‘pretenders’.
James Stuart was known as ‘The Old Pretender’, his son Charles Edward as ‘The Young’.
Salmond’s conduct since the botched Scottish Parliamentary elections of 3rd May 2007 has shown him worthy of the title ‘The Great Pretender’, for his behaviour has had as much in common with that usually expected from a constitutional government’s leader as a very average Elvis Presley impersonator has in common with Presley himself.
Perhaps his mischief can be dismissed as the immaturity of an intellectually immature nationalist ideologue, aching to blast white noise into The Saxonist Entity’s lug and to outrage ‘Outraged of Tunbridge Wells’. If so, it casts a sad, and telling, insight into the nature of Salmond’s character. Few successful nations have had a pater patriae who behaves like a glue-buzzing, Burberry baseball-capped Buckfast swiller spoiling for a fight with the cops in Coatbridge – yet in terms of the constitutional settlement that he must work within, that is precisely how the First Minister of Scotland behaves towards Her Majesty’s Government of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Perhaps he aspires to go down in history with Vaclav Havel, the scion of one of Prague’s wealthiest families, whose ‘Velvet Revolution’ overturned Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. If so, then Salmond’s efforts since gaining office deserve to be labelled ‘The Shortbread Revolution’ – twee, sickly, instantly forgotten but undeniably Scottish in character.
Yet if The Great Pretender and his Shortbread Revolutionaries are actually serious about making Scotland an independent state (the nature of Scottish nationhood being an entirely different can of neeps), then history does provide very clear markers for them on how to go about it.
The question, however, is whether or not he really is willing to do it; whether he will be able to retain his fire for ‘freedom’ while in office, or whether it will mellow him into a comfortable rut of pay, perks, pensions and privilege; whether or not a lifetime’s habit of fixing all policy around the polestar of ‘independence’ has rotted his critical abilities; whether he possesses the courage of his convictions; whether he has the guts to make unpopular decisions.
In order to achieve this goal, he would have to learn lessons from some pretty smart people – people who’ve actually done what he says he wants to do and built enduring, successful states from the ground up. Or he could follow what might seem like the easier path; in which case Scotland and all her people would be crippled for years.
The Great Pretender’s posturing goes down well with his core vote, some of whom might think the expression ‘total strategy’ refers to a Dutch soccer system– but they need to learn that there’s a great deal more to building a state than just sticking one over on the English; and that if you start badly, then you’ll continue badly. We can only hope the nation wouldn’t end badly.
European states stand or fall by how they deal with the epochal changes they must sometimes face; the establishment of a particular form of government (France), the consolidation of small states into one (Germany and Italy), the change from one form of government to another (Russia) and, in some cases, even independence (The Republic of Ireland). If they get it right, they can power ahead to stability and prosperity in remarkably short periods of time; if they get it wrong, then the problems can take decades, even centuries, to fix.
The success or failure of each nation is, more often than not, entirely dependent on the vision of the people at the top at the time these changes are taking place. Though separated by time and distance, history’s most successful nation-builders have shared a number of the same economic beliefs, and broadly the same beliefs on the nature of the relationship of national culture to the nation-state; for them, love of home and homeland on their own was not enough.
In this regard, history has been quite kind to the United Kingdom. Our last great seismic, nation-changing event was probably the Union of 1707; a gourmet banquet to which Scotland brought a meat pie and a can of Superlager. In many respects we are lucky to have largely trundled through history – since the Reformation, the British have never had a revolution that didn’t fix itself in the end; usually with a cup of tea, a Protestant monarch and the maintenance of the class system.
Although the United Kingdom’s constituent parts have enthusiastically invaded each other from time to time, that we have not suffered an invasion from overseas for a millennium has given our affairs a measure of stability that other states have sadly lacked. One inevitable consequence of the Union’s dissolution would be that an independent Scotland would require to bend its mind to the question of its own defence; and hoping than an invading army would be repelled by the massed ranks of Scotland’s parliamentarians standing on the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle singing metric psalms and Doric folk songs may not be enough.
It is to the experience of those states that have undergone changes as profound as those that The Shortbread Revolutionaries would inflict on Scotland that Scotland herself must turn to for guidance.
The experiences of conquered nations, like Germany and Japan in 1945, are of no help to us. Their development since those dates has not been indigenous, but imposed by a conquering power’s vision. We have not been conquered - officially, anyway - so we must make our own way through the traps that history will lay at our feet.
The seventeenth and nineteenth centuries each produced an outstanding nation-builder, in the persons of Armand-Jean du Plessis, Cardinal Richelieu and Otto von Bismarck. It is in the footsteps of these giants, The Really Smart Guys of History, that Salmond must walk if he would lead Scotland to ‘freedom’.
The nineteenth and twentieth centuries provide excellent examples of nation-builders of the second rank, in the shape of the Conte di Cavour and Eamon de Valera. At this stage, it should be noted that, rather depressingly, the nature of the challenges an independent Scotland would face bear greater similarity to those faced by Italy and Ireland in their day than those faced by France and Germany. Unfortunately, as with Italy and Ireland, these challenges would be likely to be entirely of our own making.
In Boris Yeltsin, a man who equated ‘change management’ with ‘bankruptcy’, the twentieth century provided the definitive example of what a potential nation-builder must not do, must not be like. It is of some comfort that as a nation-builder, Salmond would not be as bad as Yeltsin – nobody else could ever be as bad. A second Yeltsin would be a statistical impossibility.
What made Richelieu and Bismarck so smart? They did three things.
Firstly, they pursued their countries’ interests with almost monomaniacal intensity.Richelieu, the author of devot Catholic literature who communicated regularly and said Mass whenever he was able, pursued alliances with Protestant monarchs in favour of Catholic monarchs because he believed it to be in France’s interests to do so, thus moulding the mindset within which France has conducted all its diplomacy down to the present day.
Bismarck quite deliberately pursued a policy of imperialism, because, surrounded as Germany was by other imperial powers, he believed it to be in the best interests of Germany. It wasn’t very nice; it wasn’t very politically correct; but it was vital to the interests of the state. It is also highly doubtful that Bismarck would have approved of the later excesses of German imperialism, such as the massacre of the Hereros; there was little advantage for Germany in it.
Secondly, recognising as they did that a wealthy nation is much more likely to survive than a poor one, they encouraged local industry by the use of the same blunt instrument – they imposed tariff barriers. They did not wallow in the shallow orthodoxies of so-called ‘free trade’ (pace Milton Friedman, if lunch can never be free then there is no way trade can ever be free either), nor did they listen to those whom we now call ‘economists’. It’s just as well they didn’t – because Boris Yeltsin did, and look where that got him. Mirabile dictu, and contrary to everything the high priests of the secular religion called ‘economics’ consider holy, the skies did not fall on their heads; in the case of France, they didn’t fall on the heads of Mazarin and Colbert, Richelieu’s successors, either. There’s a moral concerning the conduct of economic policy in there somewhere; don’t let economists anywhere near it.
Thirdly, they were unashamed cultural nationalists. Richelieu’s baby, the Academie Francaise, lives to this day as the ultimate gatekeeper and guardian of French culture. Bismarck’s policy of ‘Germanification’, while less liberal than the cultural policies of Richelieu, was essential to the survival of his unified German state; if they were going to be Germans and not Prussians, they would need to think and act like Germans.
The second rank equalled some of the achievements of the first, but not all.
In some ways it’s unfair to include Cavour on this list, for he really cannot be faulted for dying a month after Italy was unified. He was primarily a Piedmontese nationalist, and Piedmont was to Cavour what Prussia was to Bismarck – the place of primary loyalty. So much for the toxic words Professor Niall Ferguson spat at his own homeland on 1st January 2006 that, “(Scotland’s) over. Over the way countries are sometimes just over. Over the way Prussia is over. Over the way Piedmont is over”.
Professor Ferguson either doesn’t know or hasn’t grasped that Piedmont and Prussia are most certainly not over – we now call them Italy and Germany instead.
Although Cavour dragged Piedmont into the nineteenth century through his massive expansion of its railways, it is doubtful whether wider Italian economic policy would have benefited from having his hand at the controls; he was a committed free-trader, and would have shrunk from the step most vital to ensuring the success of a new state – protecting and encouraging its industries.
The real curse of Cavour, however, is one that would be visited on Scotland in short order. Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry of Benedetto Cairoli, one of Cavour’s successors – “Cairoli was one of the most conspicuous representatives of that type of Italian public men who, having conspired and fought for a generation in the cause of national unity, were despite their valour little fitted for the responsible parliamentary and official positions they subsequently attained; and who by their ignorance of foreign affairs and of internal administration unwittingly impeded the political development of their country.”
Yup, that’s the Scottish nationalists to a tee. One too many wee drams, one too many folk songs, and not enough time spent on learning how to build nations – a problem already encountered this century in Ireland, at the hands of Eamon de Valera.
This may seem like a strange thing to say, but Dev was the nearest thing to John Knox that Ireland’s ever produced. Not in the religious sense, of course; but by so successfully battering their national cultures into the shape they wanted them to be, they were most certainly two of a kind. De Valera started governing an Anglocentric country and stopped governing a foreign one. Precisely the same thing would happen to Scotland, under Alex Salmond.
Dev, while no economist, gets a bad press for attempting to Smoot-Hawley Ireland from the effects of the Great Depression by the use of tariffs. If he had tariffed Ireland in 1922, the effects might not have been so severe as they ended up being after 1932 – the great lesson of that period being, of course, that the worst mistake to make when thinking of tariffs is to think of lowering them in the first place.
And so to Yeltsin, Russia’s first post-Communist president.
The greatest service that Boris Yeltsin performed for Russia during his presidency was the peaceful manner in which he laid his office down. Russia was on the slide from the day and hour he placed blind, unquestioning trust in the ‘shock treatment’ dogmas chanted by Yegor Gaidar. It went from being a country where people had money and there were no goods to buy with it to one where there were goods to buy but nobody had any money to buy them with. This was not a success for the free market.
There are those who may say I’m being unfair to Scottish nationalists as a whole, and point to the vision for Scotland contained in Dennis Macleod’s and Mike Russell’sGrasping the Thistle’.
Credit must be given where it’s due. ‘Grasping the Thistle’, although not an official SNP document, is an undoubtedly sincere attempt to address the critical question of what an independent Scotand should do to maintain its independence. Its authors’ backgrounds are in mining and the arts, so it’s not surprising that the book’s strongest parts are its discussions of, ahem, minerals and the arts. Indeed, their praise of Charles Haughey’s patronage of the arts in Ireland makes him sound like a Medici prince; an unfortunate edification, for sure, for if ever there was an Irishman who thought he was a Medici prince, it was Charlie Haughey.
However, while reading it I couldn’t help but think I was hearing calypso music in the background.
Calypso music was famous for being both pleasing to the ear and without much challenging content. ‘Grasping the Thistle’ is two Scottish nationalists’ calypso to the so-called ‘business community’, ‘Tally Me Ma Haggis’ if you like, lilting that when Scotland’s independent it will still be a great place to do business. Although it’s liberally peppered with quotations from ‘The Wealth of Nations’, one wonders how long it’s been since its authors read anything that challenges their worldview; like Correlli Barnett’s assertion that Smith’s views on trade in food were blown out of the water by the advent of refrigeration, or John Kenneth Galbraith’s footnote that in using diamonds as an example of things that have value but no purpose, Smith failed to foresee the advent of industrial diamonds.
And the book’s greatest flaw is its authors’ blind acceptance of the current global economic order. They have the same faith in ‘The Washington Consensus’ as Yeltsin had in Gaidar; yet with that same consensus possibly falling down on its backside, they might find the Wigtownshire Consensus rather less accepting of the order they so greatly admire.
Salmond does not possess the vision of a Richelieu or Bismarck. He would immediately swap one Union for another. He would have us become a neo-liberal subsidy junkie like 1980's Ireland, instead of having the vision to turn us into the Switzerland of the North Atlantic. He falls at the very first hurdle - ensuring the nation is independent and can maintain its independence.
Instead, the best we can hope for is for him to sort of turn out to be sort of another Cavour or De Valera, possibly to the poverty and certainly to the cultural backwardness of us all.
Over the next few days, I will be posting what I think an independent Scotland would have to in order to survive. It will not make pleasant reading.

Some Thoughts On The Soi-Disant 'Scottish Government's' Perception Of Legality

Do the Tartanissimo and his tacksmen read this blog?
"First Minister Alex Salmond has called for the Scotland Office to be scrapped in the wake of the criticism over Des Browne's dual role....SNP leader Mr Salmond said the current situation was "unsatisfactory" and called for wide-ranging reforms.

He said it would be possible for the devolved administration in Edinburgh to deal directly with the prime minister, bypassing the Scottish secretary. "
This is yet another of Salmond's casual outrages against the devolution settlement. Living as he does in a Scotland of his own imagination, where a man's a man for a' that (provided, of course, he's willing to get with the program) and every problem can be fixed with a wee dram and a folk song, the abolition of the post of Secretary of State for Scotland would suit his political purposes right down to the ground he would run an 'independent' Scotland into within months.
This cannot pass.
Having a job means I don't see 'Question Time' as much as I'd like. The edition broadcast on Thursday November 22 came from Glasgow. One of the panellists was Nicola Sturgeon MSP, the Tartanissimo's loyal water-carrier during his years of exile from Holyrood.
Although she now holds the post of Deputy First Minister of Scotland, it's worthwhile remembering that although The Spawn of Salmond has been returned to the Scottish Parliament three times, she's never won a ballot with her party's name on it. She was returned to the first two parliaments as a 'List MSP' (the vehicle by which Scottish party hacks win the power, pay and pension lotteries) and on the third, the one she did win outright, the extremely presidential, if not cultish, hosanna 'Alex Salmond for First Minister' appeared where one might usually expect to see the words 'Scottish National Party'.
Such an identification of one man with 'the nation' was beyond the arrogance of even The Sun King.
During this debate, she described the Iraq war as 'illegal'. I agree with her.
That she retains some concept of the notion of 'legality' from her legal training is heartening. Hopefully she'll soon recognise that much of what she's been party to in the office she now holds has also been illegal.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Adam Smith On The Union

"By the Union with England, the middling and inferior ranks of people in Scotland gained a compleat deliverance from the power of an aristocracy which had always oppressed them - "
Wealth of Nations, V.iii.89 (Oxford, 1976), P.944, quoted by James Buchan, 'Capital of the Mind', p.180.

Friday, November 23, 2007

My Application For The Post of Secretary Of State For Scotland

Forget the 'West Lothian Question' - the really difficult issue is now the 'East Ayrshire Question'.
The 'East Ayrshire Question' can best be posed thus - can one person simultaneously hold two high offices of state and perform either to any level of competence?
The Rt. Hon. Desmond Browne, the sometime country solicitor who now holds the offices of both Secretary of State for Defence and Secretary of State for Scotland, would answer it in the affirmative.
But with the UK currently fighting two major wars, and with a devolved Scottish Executive led by a claque intent on minor treason and petty lese-majeste, he's just wrong.
The offices should be split. For as long as the Union remains, there must be a Secretary of State for Scotland, the office held by someone with their eyes totally on the ball.
It's no secret that the Scottish Labour Party suffers from a huge talent deficit. Its members have guid Scotch ambition in spades, of course; but in their circles, the ability to think independently has never been much prized. It's doubtful whether many of Scotland's Labour Members of Parliament could cut it in debate with a terrapin. Called Clive.
Gordon Brown could solve the problem at a stroke, of course; but again, he doesn't really have the talent to draw upon.
Which is where I come in.
I am willing to volunteer myself to be elevated to the House of Lords in order to serve as Secretary of State for Scotland. I am both partially disabled and a member of an ethnic minority, so that's all the demographic boxes ticked.
I have a fair knowledge of law, history and economics, so can be trusted not to embarrass myself in front of people who actually matter.
I hate the Labour Party with a visceral, atavistic, blinding, feral passion; but if it's deemed absolutely necessary then one is prepared to lie down and think of England - provided subscriptions are refunded upon the return of the (charred remains of the) party card.
I might think Attila the Hun dangerously liberal, but at least my heart's in the Union; and right now, the Secretary of State for Scotland should be a full time champion of the Union, and a jealous keeper of its rights within the devolved settlement - precisely the sort of person it hasn't had for the last decade.
And the beauty of it is - I am a completely unknown quantity. The high elders of the Scottish village would have to force themselves to be nice to me, without any clue as to what I'd do next. None of them even know what I look like.
OK, Gordon, you've got a volunteer. Letters patent, if you please...

'To Struggle For Good'

A New Synonym For Terrorism

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Butterfingers

Liberty Is A Stranger Here

So the law of Scotland, insofar as it concerns double jeopardy and submissions of no case to answer, is to be reviewed.
Such illiberalism is merely to be expected from the Tartanissimo's Troupe of Tartan Toerags. They're a' wee Scotch authoritarians, aye ready to stamp on a man's head while telling him it's for his own good.
The BBC reports Kenny MacAskill, The Copfighter-General, as saying that,
" Fairness for both the victim and the accused is at the heart of any good justice system. But so too is public confidence.
"Questions around Crown appeal rights, double jeopardy and previous convictions, though not new, were raised again after the trial for the World's End murders in September.
"Good government is about listening to those public and political concerns with a cool head."
What are the differences between 'public concerns' and 'political concerns'? Is he admitting that the Serve No Paupers party are elitists, single issue specialists, disconnected from the silent majority? Is he admitting that his party's opinion of the Scottish public is that 'a man's a suspect for a' that?'
OK, I have a good idea for law reform; if prosecutors want more power, the should lose their right to strike.
In other Scottish news, Alan Cochrane reports that Scottish history is at last to be taught to some level of competence.
Let us hope the children are taught the most important words in Scottish history -

Monday, November 19, 2007

Not A Good Record To Set

It is hard to see what good was ever done for John Straffen by the British state.

Think about it.

A Challenge For Economists

Any economist who really does think that nationality, and thus nationhood, is unimportant should be invited to sell their citizenship for £100,000.

They would be richer, for sure; but thereafter they would be stateless, and would require to rely on the market for everything.

What? You mean there would be no takers?

SomeThoughts On The Life And Career of Andrew Fletcher Of Saltoun

If Scottish history was an episode of 'Father Ted', Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun would be Father Jack.
All Scottish Unionists should know that when they hear a Scottish nationalist praise Fletcher, they are hearing praise for a Scot who would have thought nothing of enslaving other Scots.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Are English Nationalists More Stupid Than Scottish Nationalists?

A thought occurred to me today, after re-reading Simon Heffer's absurd article, 'The Union of Scotland and England is over'.
Heffer thinks he'll be saving money after the grasping, clawing Jocks are turfed out; but he doesn't seem to realise that even if the Union were to end, England would still be left with Northern Ireland, with 70% per cent of its output based on public spending, on its hands.
Doesn't look such a good idea now, eh, Bob?

Scotland 1, Italy 2



We lost. Again.

"In the 'Tartan Army', which followed the Scottish national football team in its run of qualifying for the World Cup from the 1970's, the people made it (the kilt) their own; with the same hopeless fidelity as the old Jacobites they have in kilts followed the squad right through its later, more dismal fortunes".

Michael Fry, 'Wild Scots'. Page 185.

No change there, then.

They Don't Like It Up 'Em

Irwin Stelzer, forever the loyal Corporal Jones to Rupert Murdoch's Captain Mainwaring, shouts,
It seems the globalists don't like it up 'em...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Changes To The Scottish Legal Profession

(Readers should note the views expressed here are personal).
The online edition of the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland notes that,
"Changes in the way the legal profession works have been promised by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

In a parliamentary debate yesterday, Mr MacAskill said Scotland’s legal profession had served Scotland well and was one of the fundamental pillars of the Scottish identity, but that Scottish lawyers should not be held back by “inappropriate restrictions and regulations that do not meet modern needs”.
Although Kenny MacAskill, The Copfighter-General, would vehemently deny it, all this talk of change sounds terribly Blairite.
JLSS continues,
"The parliament agreed, in light of the Office of Fair Trading's response to the super-complaint by Which? on restrictions on business structures, and the Law Society of Scotland's current consultation on the subject, a motion affirming that the profession's regulatory and business structures should reflect Scottish circumstances, and supporting moves towards reforms to allow the Scottish legal profession to compete internationally while enhancing access to justice and affordable legal services in local communities."
One just doesn't know how the practice of law in Scotland has survived for nearly a millenium without the supervision or interference of either 'Which?' or the Office of Fair Trading. How did we manage?
Restrictions on business structures? Like, you mean so-called 'Tesco law'? OK, here are my (not entirely serious) proposals for reform.
Solicitors in Scotland should be granted the right to perform dentistry; for if butchers and bakers can write wills then lawyers should be able to pull teeth, and the division of labour be damned. The logic is inexorable and inescapable.
Alternatively, Scotland's solicitors should band together to beat the supermarkets; for once, to take the fight to them.
'KwikLaw' would be a supermarket run along the same lines as a legal practice. Customers would have to prove their identity before being allowed to shop there, but would be able to leave the store without being required to pay for their purchases at the point of sale; indeed, they would often have to be sued to get them to pay their bills.
However, given that its prices would be artificially inflated by the costs of professional indemnity insurance, subscriptions, mandatory continuing professional development and indeed membership of the professional body, it's a pity it would go bust within a week.

Weep For The Children

Although one most certainly does not wish the Scottish national soccer squad ill for the match against Italy this afternoon, by the same token I find the (media-driven? politically convenient?) hysteria baffling.
In Alex McLeish, Scotland has a coach who's done everything both as a player and club manager. One of Scottish culture's curses is that one Scot cannot offer a sincere compliment to another without being accused of patronising them; but Mr. McLeish, an extremely intelligent and accomplished man, will no doubt have his players' heads in good order before they face the world champions. His record shows that they could not be in better hands.
However, last night's BBC 'Reporting Scotland' broadcast pictures of schoolchildren being permitted to wear football colours and 'See You, Jimmy' wigs during school hours. Apart from showing that the Tartanissimo's 'Shortbread Revolution' (so called because it is twee, sickly, instantly forgotten but undeniably Scottish in character) seems to have something of a lax approach to school discipline, the children were also heard singing what one presumes to be the latest campaign song.
I do hope Scotland wins, for those childrens' sake; for their elders remember the pain they felt when they were children, caused by the songs they too once sang.

The Holy Family As Asylum Seekers

On the face of it, there appears to be nothing irreverent per se about the BBC's drama portraying the Holy Family as asylum-seekers in Liverpool.
Allthough the flight into Egypt postdated the Nativity - from the secularist viewpoint, Our Lord was only born in a Bethlehem stable because of St. Joseph's willingness to comply with the civil law's demand that he participate in the census - it was most certainly an act of what would now be called asylum-seeking.
One does hope, however, that the BBC's Holy Family is shown following the original's example, and returning home when the trouble's died down.
And who are going to play the Three Wise Men? Dalglish, Souness and Hansen?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Vessels Of Providence

(Note: Catholic post. If disinterested, hasta manana).
There may be some talk of 'cold cases' in the Scottish criminal justice system in the weeks and months to come.
It may possibly be the case that the name of a priest whose conduct would appear to have been, well, less than perfect will be mentioned.
However if that priest's behaviour created the conditions by which dreadful crimes might eventually be solved, could it be possibly be the case that the priest was a vessel of Providence?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Simon Heffer, Wrath Of God

Monday, November 12, 2007

Here's One I Missed Earlier

From a few days ago, but well worth mentioning. This will have you rolling in the aisles.
From BBC Wales, look you -
"Members of the Turkish community protested at the unveiling of a plaque to a genocide they say never happened.

The Armenian genocide of 1915 at the time of the Ottoman Empire has been a source of deep division between Turkish and Armenian communities worldwide.

Armenians say 1.5m were killed, through systematic massacres or starvation, a claim denied by the Turkish community.

Saturday's unveiling at the Temple of Peace in Cardiff events saw feelings running high on both sides.

Welsh assembly Presiding Officer Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas was at the unveiling of the plaque which has been paid for by donations from the Wales Armenia Society. "
Protests in Cardiff in defence of the Ottoman Empire's honour, and phrases like 'The Wales Armenia Society', bring to mind Renton's injunction to Sick Boy and Begbie -
"Just what are you boys on?"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Wishful Thinker Of The Day

That would be David Blair, who writes in the 'Sunday Telegraph' that,

"Russia will soon cease to be a world power".

Russopohobic guff from start to finish.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's Never To Early To Call Your Solicitor...

"Joe90", Attack-Hamster-In-Chief at the blog of the diffident SNP parliamentary candidate Osama Saeed (my all-time favourite quote of Osama's - "...if Sajad wasn't a Muslim, he wouldn't care about his daughter"; don't forget that the man who wrote that is now a Scottish National Party candidate for Parliament) has posted a link to a group called 'Scotland Against Criminalising Communities'.
One of its stated aims is "(to) (ensure) that everyone is treated as innocent until proven guilty; that habeas corpus (the right of a person to be brought before a judge to decide whether or not his detention is lawful) be restored and to demand that those imprisoned without trial under this legislation are released or granted a fair trial. "
This would be very noble, if habeas corpus formed part of the law of Scotland.
Doh!

A Love Of Fish and Chips

Muhammad Abdul Bari, MBE, Ph.D., the Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, has given a fairly vacuous interview to 'The Daily Telegraph'.
He says that "(t)he air is thick with suspicion and unease... (i)t is not good for the Muslim community, it is not good for society", while at the same time not providing any real killer smackdown to those of his co-religionists apparently intent on murdering people and blowing up stuff in the name of their shared beliefs.
There is the usual insulting and historically ignorant warning against the United Kingdom suddenly morphing into the Third Reich -
"Every society has to be really careful so the situation doesn't lead us to a time when people's minds can be poisoned as they were in the 1930s. If your community is perceived in a very negative manner, and poll after poll says that we are alienated, then Muslims begin to feel very vulnerable. We are seen as creating problems, not as bringing anything and that is not good for any society."
That he should make such a comment immediately before Remembrance Sunday indicates just how detached he is from the cultural mainstream.
There is a denial of Islamic terrorism -
"Terrorists are terrorists, they may use religion but we shouldn't say Muslim terrorists, it stigmatises the whole community. We never called the IRA Catholic terrorists."
Quite right, we called them 'Irish republican terrorists'. They killed and maimed in order to create an 'Irish Republic'. That most were 'Catholic' (though not by any definitition I know) was irrelevant to that goal. There were very many Catholics in Northern Ireland, men like Gerry Fitt and John Hume, who turned their backs on the men of violence. But when the virgin-chasing vest-wearers kill people and blow up stuff, they are doing so to advance 'Islam'. There is therefore no compelling reason why they shouldn't be called 'Muslim terrorists' - that's what they are.
And a signal, major difference between men like Fitt, a man who couldn't to the pub without a gun in his pocket, and Hume, the eternal dove amidst the carnage whose rewards for all his efforts were a Nobel Prize and then to be instantly forgotten, and men like Bari is that the former ran considerable risks. One wonders just how much intimidation faces from other Muslims for his statements; and if he thinks that life for British Muslims is as difficult now as it was for Ulster's Catholics in the late 1960's, if he thinks that the Special Branch are anything like the B Specials, then he really is in cloud cuckoo-land.
There is the usual whining and bitching about foreign policy and policing. But his comments on social policy are beautiful -
"Everybody can learn from everyone. Some of the Muslim principles can help social cohesion - family, marriage, raising children with boundaries, giving to the poor, not being too greedy."
These are also Christian values, faithfully practiced by Christians up and down the land without any of them ever having picked up a Koran. Bari is a Muslim sectarian preferentialist's Muslim sectarian preferentialist. The rest is just hot air in the same vein.
The piece ends with a list of his 'Favourite things about Britain'. These are -
"..fish and chips, cheese, shirts and ties".
Note the absence of such fripperies and appurtenances as freedom of thought, conscience, expression and movement, democracy, the rule of law, civil liberties, property rights, the monarchy, the NHS, the welfare state, tea on the lawn, Shakespeare, rugby league or Clapham Junction. For Bari, it's 'fish and chips'.
Wonder if he ever bought them at Shehzad Tanweer's place.

Friday, November 09, 2007

With Friends Like These...



The BBC reports that,

"An anti-war group and Muslim organisation have backed a lawyer facing a contempt of court hearing following a terrorism trial.

Glasgow lawyer Aamer Anwar (pictured) criticised the trial of his client Mohammed Atif Siddique, from Clackmannanshire, who was convicted of a series of offences.
The Glasgow Stop the War Coalition and Muslim Action Committee said Mr Anwar had been made a "scapegoat."
The groups have urged Glasgow Muslims to remember him at Friday prayers....

A spokesman for the Muslim Action Committee said: "It has been decided that Aamer's case will be raised at Friday prayers at all mosques across Glasgow.
"This is a new development in the Muslim community and shows the depth of mistrust for the official response to the war on terror as well as the growing support for Aamer Anwar."

Wikipedia's entry on the 'Muslim Action Committee' notes that it,

"is a United Kingdom based umbrella organisation specifically set up in February 2006 to respond to the Muhammad cartoons published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten."

That a body set up specifically to challenge and hopefully suppress free speech is now championing it might be both ironic and puzzling, until one realises that its very name exposes its purpose of being a bog standard vehicle for the bog standard espousal of bog standard Muslim sectarian preferentialism.

I will wait until the High Court issues its determination on Anwar's case before commenting on its substance - although if, like Anwar, you're a Scouser on the cusp of middle age the prospect of having to perform The Dance Of The Seven Veils for some of Scotland's most hardened criminals can't be too appealing.

And he might not be looking forward to the Law Society of Scotland's inevitable investigation very much. If I were him I'd be checking to see if the High Court's ceiling's leaking, because if he's acquitted the Law Society beaks might just be waiting to escort him to Drumsheugh Gardens in the way Mephistopheles carried Faust off to Hell through the hole in his roof.

And it is extremely important for fellow professionals to both refrain from and deplore any expression of schadenfreude. At times like this, it's just not cricket.

I think these events might be a real 'development in the Muslim community'; but not the one The Big MACS think, and await the High Court's decision with interest.

And what on Earth does 'stopping the war' have to do with a possible contempt of court?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Aamer And Misbah

The online edition of 'The Journal Of The Law Society Of Scotland' notes that,
"Politicians, writers and lawyers are among those protesting against the contempt of court referral against the outspoken solicitor Aamer Anwar....
The proceedings arise from remarks by Mr Anwar following the conviction of his client Mohammed Atif Siddique for terrorism offences. Speaking to the press outside the court after the conclusion of the trial, Mr Anwar said the verdict was a tragedy for justice and freedom of speech and that his client had not received a fair trial.

Lord Carloway, the trial judge, after considering the matter, said Mr Anwar had attacked every area of the trial process and the the issue whether he had been in contempt of court should be referred to three judges of the High Court.

Author Iain Banks, Labour politician Tony Benn, Respect MP George Galloway, convener of the Muslim Council of Scotland Bashir Maan and human rights lawyer Gareth Pierce are among those who have expressed support for the lawyer...
Independent MSP Margo MacDonald has also added her support for the campaign, saying she wants to raise the issue in the Scottish Parliament if she is allowed to do so."
How odd it is, how odd, that Anwar, accused by a Senator of The College of Justice of having launched "an attack on the court itself", should find himself being so stoutly defended when none of those listed as coming to his aid more than whispered their outrage at a truly gross crime against the administration of Scottish justice - the abduction of Misbah Rana by her father Sajad Ahmed Rana, in direct contravention of the order of a Scottish court.
At that time Banks said nothing; Benn said nothing; Galloway said nothing; Macdonald said nothing; Pierce said nothing; Anwar himself said nothing; and the only thing Maan could do was whine about 'Islamophobia'.
It might just be me, but in a certain type of light and from a certain point of view, it might be concluded that the luminaries speaking out on Anwar's behalf are nothing more than lawless partisans, with axes to grind and agendas of their own.
Perish the thought.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

David Aaronovitch

David Aaronovitch, a columnist with whom I almost never agree, has at last produced a lucid column; he blames Hussein Osman, Ethiopia's answer to Denzel Washington, for the death of Jean Charles de Menezes.
There is, however, one suspect in the death of the Blessed Jean Charles whom he does not blame, yet should: The Sainted Illegal Himself.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Extraditing Foreign Criminal Scum

is now up on The Devil's Kitchen.

One for the road, so to speak.

Some Thoughts On Blogging (And Bloggers)

If he were alive today, Camille Desmoulins would have been a blogger.

This would not necessarily be a good thing.

The Last Words I Will Ever Blog About Immigration

I've had enough. Seriously - this time, I have had enough.
On April 30 2006, I wrote that,
"The right to decide who lives amongst them is one of the most profound rights of any nation of citizens...Blair came to power in 1997 wanting to increase immigration. No other conclusion supports the facts. Whether he was motivated by ideology, a flawed understanding of economics, a desire to ingratiate himself with the business class or my own personal belief, that he profoundly hates everything about the United Kingdom and its people and will do everything in his power to change both it and them, he did not tell us that was his plan."
Despite his crapulously petty outburst of Scotophobia, at least Charles Moore now appears to agree with me; as does Camilla Cavendish. It's a pity they're both the best part of two years behind the analysis curve.
But I've lost patience with trying to change minds that will never change in spite of whatever evidence is presented to them.
Enough already. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing my analysis has been correct.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Congratulations To Osama Saeed

I must confess to being rather surprised by this, if only because, in answer to my suggestion to him of 17th February 2007 that "(i)n my opinion you are not a fit and proper person to hold public office, and will say so to anyone who asks until I see evidence to the contrary", Osama himself assured me on 20th February 2007 that, "...to answer one of your other points, I hope you’ll be able to rest easier knowing that I don’t hold any public office, am not standing for public office, and have no plans to do so."
Perhaps he had a change of heart.

Why So Many Searches for Ioannis Revenikiotis?

In the past 48 hours, I've had a big traffic spike on account of searches and hits for "Ioannis Revenikiotis" (presumably this Ioannis Revenikiotis).
They've come from Canada (ISP address 198.103.104.12), the UK (ISP addresses 161.112.232.22, 86.138.250.173, 194.131.14.2, 213.123.51.162, 143.252.80.100, 195.171.40.130, 82.150.96.2, 81.178.104.75, 81.79.67.65, 86.133.24.165, 84.9.123.62, 86.27.51.189, 80.194.238.218), Greece (ISP address 212.205.165.2), Switzerland (ISP address 80.238.8.128), France (ISP addresses 158.50.204.4, 81.56.144.195), Iceland (ISP address 157.157.90.134), the USA (ISP addresses 198.45.26.25, 207.38.187.31, 70.132.150.16) and "Unknown" (ISP addresses 79.65.27.42, 189.61.12.224).
It seems an unusual amount of unusually focussed interest in the name of one Greek nutball, for sure. If any of the searchers wishes to get in contact with me to explain, I'd be interested to hear from them.
And they should, of course bear in mind my e-mail policy.