Friday, August 06, 2010

So, farewell then Jack Straw !

Hoorah ! Jack Straw is quitting front bench politics. What a pity he didn't quit public life at birth ! He says, "But now I want the freedom to range more widely over foreign and economic policy." No, no, no ! Go and waste years writing the memoirs no-one wants to read.

Perhaps we could amend the Reform Bill to add ex-Presidents of the NUS to the list of people ineligible to stand for parliament along with lords, lunatics and felons. The degree of guile and utter lack of principle required to win that post should disqualify anyone.

Hiroshima Day

Hiroshima Day. Do we really want to spend billions on a Trident replacement so that we can do this again ? I couldn't bear to post most of the images I found.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Labour Gerrymandering

My friend Simon McGrath has reminded us of Jim Callaghan's defiance of Boundary Commission recommendations in 1969 which would have cost Labour at least 10 seats. Actually it was worse than that. Callaghan failed to lay Orders in Council before parliament as the law required. Instead he introduced a bill to give effect to local government changes in London which he liked but also to absolve himself from the duty to lay the orders for parliamentary boundary changes which he didn't. The Lords passed the bill but with wrecking amendments. Ross McWhirter started a court action for a writ of Mandamus to order Callaghan to carry out his statutory duty as Home Secretary. In the end Callaghan laid the required orders before parliament but made sure the Labour MPs were whipped to vote against them. Consequently the 1970 election was fought on 1954 boundaries. Labour lost anyway.

Labour had form for gerrymandering. They didn't like the first ever Boundary Commission recommendations in 1948, so they simply added 17 new urban constituencies. They now have the gall to suggest that reforming parliament to make constituencies more equal in size is gerrymandering. They would know, of course.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Microcosmographica Academica

I am delighted that F.M.Cornford's guide to academic politics Microcosmographica Academica is out of copyright and available on-line. It also applies to national politics. It explains the principle of the thin end of the wedge and the difference between Conservative-Liberals and Liberal-Conservatives.

A Conservative Liberal is a broad-minded man, who thinks that something ought to be done, only not anything that anyone now desires, but something which was not done in 1881-82.

A Liberal Conservative is a broad-minded man, who thinks that something ought to be done, only not anything that anyone now desires; and that most things which were done in 1881-82 ought to be undone.

The men of both of these parties are alike in being open to conviction; but so many convictions have already got inside, that it is very difficult to find the openings. They dwell in the Valley of Indecision.