Controversial anti-Muslim MP banned from the UK
A controversial right-wing Dutch politician and controversial anti-Islam campaigner has been banned from entering Britain
Geert Wilders has been refused entry to the United Kingdom to broadcast his controversial anti-Muslim film Fitna in the House of Lords. Mr Wilders said he had been told that in the interests of public order he will not be allowed to come to Britain. He responded to the decision in fighting mood, telling reporters that he still intended to travel to London. He said: "I shall probably go to Britain anyway on Thursday. Let us see if they put me in chains on arrival. It is an unbelievable decision made by a group of cowards."
Mr Wilders is under 24-hour police protection because of his anti-Muslim stance. He has been receiving death threats from Muslim groups outside Holland since the anti-Koran film appeared on the internet earlier this year. The film features verses from the Koran alongside images of the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, Madrid in March 2004 and London in July 2005. The film equates Islam's holy text with violence and ends with a call to Muslims to remove 'hate-preaching' verses from the Koran. It provoked protests in Muslim-majority countries including Indonesia and Pakistan.
Last night, Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said he had called British foreign secretary David Miliband to protest against the decision. He said: "It is disgraceful that a Dutch parliamentarian should be refused entrance to an EU country." A spokesman for the Lords said that the invitation to show his film remained open.
Home Office sources confirmed Mr Wilders had been refused entry to the UK. A Home Office spokesman told The Daily Telegraph: "The Government opposes extremism in all its forms. "It will stop those who want to spread extremism, hatred and violent messages in our communities from coming to our country. "That was the driving force behind tighter rules on exclusions for unacceptable behaviour that the Home Secretary announced on in October last year."
A British "health and safety" measure that might really be helpful gets knocked on the head by absurd bureaucracy
The food standards watchdog was accused yesterday of a "heavy handed abuse of power" in banning a new low-alcohol wine in the face of Government policy urging people to drink sensibly. The Food Standards Agency argues that the drink, with an alcohol content of just eight per cent, is wrongly labelled "wine" in breach of European regulations. But lawyers for its manufacturers, Sovio Wines, told a High Court judge that the official ban by the Agency of its semi-sparkling Spanish white and ros‚ had "paralysed" the company's business. Stocks worth tens of thousands of pounds, held at a bonded warehouse since the 2007 banning order, had been rendered undrinkable and therefore unmarketable because of the wine's short storage life.
Sovio, "devastated" by the effect on its 1 million pounds venture, would seek to recover its losses from the FSA if it succeeded in overturning the ban, Fergus Randolph, the company's counsel, said. He told Mrs Justice Dobbs that in the words of the company's chairman Tony Dann: "This wine would interest and was produced in particular for a certain section of the market". The judge said: "Women."
Mr Randolph said: "Yes, my Lady, but it doesn't have to be exclusively for women." The wine, he said, was aimed at greater social responsibility. It was a palatable alternative to modern high-alcohol New World wines. The trouble was that, at only eight per cent, it did not qualify as "wine" under EU regulations.
Sovio, based in Farnborough, Hampshire, argued that it had a "legitimate expectation", from what it had been told in the past by the FSA, that the wine would be allowed on to the UK market. The company also contends that since the product was not officially "wine", it was a matter for local trading standards and no business of the FSA, which therefore had no power to ban it. In its defence, the FSA argues that the very fact that the drink was labelled as wine in contravention of EU law gave the agency jurisdiction over its distribution - as it would have over water labelled as wine. The agency also denies giving any indication that Sovio's product would remain immune from enforcement under the EU's wine regime.
At 8% proof, the wine is well below the strength of conventional modern wines, which are up to 15%. It is produced using a technique called "the spinning cone column" that reduces the level of alcohol and yet ensures the wine retains the aroma, flavour and body of regular wines.
Mr Dann said before the hearing: "It's crazy that this product, which is pure undiluted premium wine, and combines total integrity of flavour with a much lower alcohol content, is somehow illegal. "The Government is urging the drinks industry to provide a wider range of lower alcohol products, consumers want to drink them and yet the FSA is seemingly trying to kill a product that everyone wants". Mr Dann has looked at producing the wine in California because it would be allowed into the UK under separate trade agreements covering wine imports from the USA.
But he said that even this hit a wall of bureaucracy. The FSA said that as the wine was below 9% alcohol it could not be legally called a wine and must be labelled a "wine-based drink".
A tiny island of sanity in "elf 'n safety" Britain
Kids must have scrapes says Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents
Children must get bumps, bruises and cuts to teach them how to cope with pain, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has said. The guardian of public safety has formed a coalition with the National Children's Bureau (NCB), to encourage children to take risks and learn about hazards in the playground and outside of school. Peter Cornall, head of leisure safety at RoSPA, said: "Parents stop their children doing activities, like sledging, that with a little bit of training and encouragement they might be able to do." In the past week two children have died and several more have been injured while playing out in the wintry weather. [Britain's "elf 'n safety" obsession obviously did nothing for them]
"I think we have started to go down the route where we have dumbed down playgrounds to make sure that toddlers are safe but we have lost the challenge and excitement for older children," Mr Cornall told The Times. Approximately 40,000 children are taken to hospital as a result of injuries obtained in playgrounds every year. [Britain's "elf 'n safety" obsession obviously did nothing for them]
The Child Safety Education Coalition (CSEC) announced today and supported by a 1.6 million pound government grant, will look at ways to teach children how to avoid danger, deal with fire in the home and take calculated risks. "We want to equip young people with skills so they can live healthy, adventurous, active lives," Mr Cornall said. "It is as important that they go outside and climb trees as it is they play computer games. We don't want 12-year-olds going to secondary school having never climbed a tree or walked to school on their own. "It's promoting minor accidents to prevent major accidents, so falling over in a playground, bumping your head, knowing what hurts or stings, will help you. "We don't want kids getting fractured skulls on playgrounds but we have to let them learn that bumps and bruises aren't going to be the end of the world. They can be positive and give people a coping mechanism and an understanding of the consequences."
Britain already has a number of permanent safety education centres and a range of annual safety events run under the banner of Learning About Safety by Experiencing Risk (Laser). They allow children to experience scenarios like roads, water, smoke-filled rooms and unsafe kitchens in a controlled environment. The new coalition will try to raise the profile of such activities. Sophie Wood, of NCB, said the coalition would encourage and support high-quality activities to help to reduce unintended injuries to children.
Francesca Anobile, 16, was fatally injured while sledging with friends in Rotherham last Tuesday. Ben Newell, six, died on Saturday after he fell through ice on a pond near Pontefract. His 12-year-old brother Dylan was pulled from the pond and survived. [Britain's "elf 'n safety" obsession obviously did nothing for them]
A portrait of a successful Leftist politician
Australia's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has no principles, only a love of power, the usual Leftist defect. Unlike his conservative predecessor, John Howard, he just goes with the flow, displaying neither courage nor convictions
During question time last week, as debate frothed about the Rudd Government's $42 billion spending package, a voice in the background made a plea: "Will the real Kevin please stand up?" It was one of the more astute observations amid the orchestrated pronouncements and intervening pandemonium of parliament.
True prime ministerial character can never be judged before taking office or in the honeymoon period that follows. It emerges over time in shaping policy and responding to events. Worryingly, the emerging Kevin Rudd persona has at its core the convictionless pursuit of power.
It is difficult to construct a firm set of Rudd principles. As Prime Minister, he has mastered the art of slippery politics. He speaks with hyperbole to suggest conviction that, on closer scrutiny, is not there. He darts from one piece of Rudd rhetoric to the next, only to move away from each of his sweeping pronunciamentos with alarming speed.
There are two tests of political conviction. The first is one of consistency, delivering on promises made and adherence to core beliefs over time. The second test of conviction is courage: whether a politician has held beliefs before they emerged as the orthodoxy or simply jumped on a bandwagon only when it was popular and safe to do so. So who is the real Rudd? You be the judge.
Rudd was the Labor politician opposed to a broad-based consumption tax who rose in parliament on June 30, 1999, speaking with apparent passion to declare the passing of the GST legislation "a day of fundamental injustice. It will be recorded as the day when the social compact that has governed this nation for the last 100 years was torn up." In 2006, he wrote about John Howard's "regressive consumption tax". Rudd's heartfelt belief opposing the GST has not been aired since he became Prime Minister. GST keeps all the states afloat.
Rudd was the Opposition leader who described global warming during the last federal election as "the great moral issue of our time". It was a vote winner. Kyoto was signed with the conviction that climate change was "the defining challenge of our generation". And then the Rudd shuffle. By last December, the great moral issue was reduced to a meaningless carbon emissions reduction target of 5 per cent by 2020. Rudd ignored the findings of the UN panel he once lauded, which laid down a minimum target of 25 per cent to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 as necessary to prevent the sort of catastrophic climate change that Rudd once believed in. In October 2006, Rudd wrote his "light on the hill" Labor agenda for Australia was "taking the lead on climate change." Now, there is no mention of leadership at Copenhagen 2009.
As Opposition leader in October 2007, Rudd committed a Labor government to taking "legal proceedings against President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad on a charge of inciting genocide" when the Iranian President spoke about wiping Israel off the map. The tough language of conviction was followed by inaction. Last December the Rudd Government announced it would not pursue legal action.
There was more tough-guy talk about Japan's annual whaling hunt during the final term of the Howard government. As Opposition leader, Rudd spoke in grave tones about taking Japan to the International Court of Justice or the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. That promise has evaporated into the political ether of office.
In addition to dumping promises, Rudd has a knack for discovering beliefs only when they are politically popular. Rudd boarded the responsibility agenda of indigenous politics only after it was politically safe to be on that side of the ideological divide, buffered by black leaders such as Noel Pearson and Warren Mundine. By contrast, John Howard staked out his ground on the dangers of victimhood politics and the need for practical reconciliation long ago, attracting scorn and derision for not kowtowing to the then accepted orthodoxy of symbolism and treaties.
Similarly, as Labor leader, Rudd morphed into an economic conservative when it was electorally popular to carve out those credentials. His language of fiscal prudence wooed voters as he assured us not a "sliver of light" separated Labor and the Coalition on fiscal policy. Now, amid a global financial crisis, when it is fashionable to attack the free market, Rudd's stripes have changed. Now he is a social democrat who writes tomes about a conspiracy in Australia of neo-liberals who have left the country financially wrecked. As his more astute critics have asked, which social democratic country would Rudd rather govern in place of neo-liberal Australia, where a handy surplus enabled him to turn into a big-spending Keynesian PM? While he still claims to be an economic conservative, saying so does not make it so. Billions on cash handouts and "social" spending look like Rudd's down payments on the next election dressed in the slippery language of "stimulus".
Since his elevation to the ALP leadership in 2007, Rudd has sought to be taken seriously as a responsible leader with philosophical underpinnings and core beliefs. Writing in The Monthly in October 2006, Rudd said his mentor, German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, would "caution against inflammatory rhetoric that seeks to gain political advantage". Rudd attacked Howard's "radioactive language". Hypocrisy, thy name is Kevin. Bonhoeffer's dictum has been dumped. Again and again, Rudd has conjured up the imagery of crisis to pump prime his political leadership: saving future generations from climate change, rescuing Australia from Howard's "Brutopia" and now liberating Australia because "the great neo-liberal experiment has failed". His war-footing language serves to undermine the confidence that is sorely needed and by not negotiating with the Opposition he exposes the emptiness of his language, given that a true economic emergency would demand genuine co-operation.
Rudd's hyperbole serves only to make his undelivered promises and inconsistencies even more pronounced. Strip away the big words and solemn phrases and an empty edifice of unfulfilled promises and shifting opportunism remains. Rudd reminds one of the way 1920s US Democratic Party leader William Gibbs McAdoo described president Warren Harding's speeches: "an army of pompous phrases moving across the landscape in search of an idea".
Confidence in a leader comes from knowing who they are and what they believe. Love him or loathe him, Howard was known to friend and foe. His political beliefs remained steady and he pursued them often against the orthodoxy of the time. Pragmatism was, of course, part of Howard's political make-up. For example, he rejected a GST only to later embrace it as part of much needed tax reform, despite the political risks. But Rudd is an entirely different leader. There is not a single instance of Rudd taking a responsible but unpopular decision. With philosophical principles impossible to pin down, his only consistent and coherent belief is in political power. Every Rudd position has been determined by how to get it and, now, how to keep it.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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