Mr Right


buckleyThere is an excellent program on Radio four narrated by Michael Portillo on the late and great ‘Mr Right’: Bill Buckley. It is worth an hour of your time and in between the wit of Buckley, Michael Portillo throws up some interesting points about the difference between the Conservative movements in the US and the UK.

There are some great archival highlights, such as a few snippets of his famous 1965 Cambridge debate with the novelist and civil right’s activist James Baldwin, as well as many other peaks into the plethora of his adversarial battles on the iconic Firing Line, a show that was to run for thirty-three years.

A key point for Portillo is his argument that US Conservatism as influenced by Buckley is more ideological as distinct from its UK variety. Here Portillo uses the word ideological precluding the often negative connotations that surround the word, instead taking it to mean the thought necessary to construct the ideas. This was Buckley’s genius, to be the voice of thoughtful Conservativism, with power enough through the arguments contained in The National Review to convert Ronald Reagan from an instinctive Democrat to a Republican bibliophage.

As the right sorely misses the ideas of Buckley in the US, we are the worse for having lacked the public intellectuals with the spirit and brilliance to ignite a similar passion in this country. Listening to the Reith Lectures yesterday morning with the engaging statist political philosopher Michael Sandel discuss markets and morality, one can only imagine the battle Buckley would have fought with him over Sandel's ideas, which as things stand would sit so comfortably in the unthinking minds and unchallenged mouths of Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians of this country.

Blog Review 877


Once again we come up against that old distinction, between positive and negative rights.

Another story from the front lines of how all that extra public spending is actually being spent. Not well.

Here's fighting words. Macroeconomics is mostly ex-post storytelling.

The joys of the private sector: being able to tell the government where to go.

One view of the recent election of the BNP.

Another, lighter view.

And finally, not even the paparazzi papers are interested in a story about Mel Who?



Fascists in Europe


There is much discussion as to exactly what kind of people have voted for the BNP at the European elections. Much of the discussion surrounding this has been either naïve or disingenuous; many people who voted for the BNP are indeed racist and there are still plenty more rascists besides who voted for other parties or did not bother going to the ballot box at all. Racism is still common in this country and unless this is accepted the wrong conclusions from the BNP’s assent will be drawn.

So what are we to do about the BNP? Well, firstly ignoring them hasn’t worked; in fact quite the opposite. Ian Dale is spot on in tackling them head-on and Nick Griffin showed himself to a fool when quizzed by Adam Boulton on Sky. This is a good start but it is not enough.

We also need to see the depoliticization of European politics in favour of free trade and strong diplomatic relations. The European polity is a shambles and it is little surprise that the fascists have been voted into its realm by a number of European countries. As rotten as our national politics is, at least these BNP voters will mostly be voting Labour at the next general election; in 2005 the BNP received 192,746 votes, a lot, but nothing like the 943,598 votes they just got in the European elections. After all, even racists have priorities.

UK government says ‘No’ to volunteer labor


One of the many consequences of the new points-based system for UK visa distribution is the limitation imposed on non-EU student interns. The current migration regulations bar non-EU students from undertaking fulltime internships in the UK, effectively pronouncing a death sentence on thousands of UK internship programmes at universities around the world.

The objective of this new policy is simple, to protect UK jobs. The government assumes that a drastic reduction in free student labor will compel UK employers to pay EU citizens to do the work formerly done by non-EU interns. If the volunteer labor supply is depleted, organizations with internship programmes will be forced either to increase their expenses by hiring additional employees or do less work because they cannot afford to pay new staff. The points based system ensures that intern-dependent employers reduce either net profitability or productivity.

I grant that this is an oversimplification. It is possible that organizations that previously relied on non-EU interns might maintain their productivity levels by working more efficiently. It could also be argued that the time spent training interns diminishes organizational efficiency. Astute observers may even point out that intern-dependent employers represent a miniscule percentage of UK employers, so the impact on the economy will also be negligible.

Efficiency is a hallmark of free market economies, but it must be worked out in an unfettered marketplace not artificially imposed by regulation. Although the collective economy will notice little effects from the elimination of interns, market sectors containing an abundance of resource poor, intern-dependent organizations – unregistered charities in particular – will feel the effects of the points-based system most acutely.

The anti-intern policy is far from the top of the list of ill-advised policies set forth by the current regime (see capital gains tax reform, non-dom tax, et al.). Nonetheless, the policy is yet another example of regulation that obstructs free enterprise. Hopefully it will follow many of its poorly conceived counterparts to the policy graveyard.

Pirate Bay MEP


altIn Sweden the Pirate Party (Piratpartiet) have won a seat in the European Parliament. This party was formed after the increased prosecution of various online sites.

When asked, Pirate Party leader Rick Falkvinge told TorrentFreak: “We’ve felt the wind blow in our sails. We’ve seen the polls prior to the election. But to stand here, today, and see the figures coming up on that screen… What do you want me to say? I’ll say anything".

The party has been formed as a libertarian/civil liberty party who are particularly aggrieved, about the mass surveillance so prevalent in Europe and the increasing state of cyber-surveilance.

Rumors that upon the news of the win the gathered fans shouted "arrrr" have yet to be confirmed.

Blog Review 876


To those who would limit immigration: the problem with a bureaucratic system to do so is that it will be run by bureaucrats for bureaucrats.

What a ghastly and chilling prediction of the future.

Looks interesting: the real story behind the progression of the smoking bans.

A less likely but more amusing vision of what might happen.

Not that many seem to have noted that Tessa Jowell has her own questions to answer over mortgages.

Chicago professor seems not to have read Chicago professor on markets and racial discrimination.

And finally, how not to ask for publicity on a blog.


The election results


altSo Labour have been decimated and quite right too. Although I am no fan of Cameron’s incoherent stance on Europe, it is certainly preferable to Labour’s machinations since Blair came to power.

UKIP have done well despite the shoddy folding of many ballot papers, while the Liberal Democrats have not benefited from Labour's collapse. These moves are clearly a direct call for a fundamental change in the relationship between the UK and Europe.

Those across the political spectrum calling for further integration will argue that voters are in fact not voting on Europe but on National issues. Certainly given the drubbing that the Labour Party has received suggests that this is the case. Yet surely this is an even further rejection of the European project as it stands: even the elected face of this Behemoth is not a primary factor in the legitimacy for the voters of this country. This is reflected in the consistent low turnouts at European elections.

As an aside, during the BBC’s coverage the question was asked: "Why would voters choose the fascist BNP rather than the left wing Communists given the recession?" This is wrongheaded as the BNP is closer to what many in the left wing of the Labour Party would vote for. It is the failure of the Labour Party that accounts for the BNP gaining two seats.

The result is clear: it is a vote against Brown and a vote against closer ties with the European Union.