Monday, July 27, 2009

The British class war never stops

The Leftist government constantly looks for any means it can find to tear down the middle classes

Shocking new details of a stealth tax of up to £600 for householders with views of any kind, patios, conservatories and even a nearby bus stop are revealed for the first time today. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show millions of homes have already been secretly assessed by Labour in preparation for council tax hikes expected to target the middle class after the Election. Homes have been given 'value significant codes' which will make virtually every desirable feature taxable.

Although not every home has been assessed, so far nearly 100,000 householders face being penalised simply for having a scenic view from their windows. Even those who have a mere glimpse of a river, hill or park - or any other pleasing outlook - stand to pay more under a special category for 'partial scenic views'. Worst hit among the 11 types of view are likely to be the 26,346 assessed so far as enjoying a full sea view and the 21,709 who overlook a golf course or farmland. People with garages, conservatories and patios - and even parking spaces - are also in the firing line.

While the list is by no means complete, the figures indicate the chilling detail with which the inspectors are examining Britain's homes. The documents also reveal the sheer pettiness of the new rules. Balconies are divided into those up to three square metres, three to five square metres and so on. The 'Conservatories' category even covers lean-tos and differentiates between single and double-glazed.

The Valuation Office Agency, which is compiling the massive database of every home in England, has divided the three-quarters of a million people with conservatories into four groups. The 115,610 with double-glazed conservatories will be hit harder than the 43,821 with single glazing.

People with patios could be in for a shock. A total of 4,932 homes have been registered as having 'value significant' patios - Whitehall jargon for big ones, perhaps with built-in barbecues. There are likely to be tens of thousands more.

Others who enjoy living in a peaceful area will soon have to pay for the privilege. A total of 38,081 homes have so far been given the coding of TQ, which tells council tax chiefs that they live in a quiet street or cul-de-sac.

The UP code for those with good access to public transport, such as those living near a bus stop, may find their council tax goes in the same direction - up.

Some of the details released by the VOA resemble a manual for taxing rich householders till the pips squeak. About 13,000 homes with pools are listed, with separate categories for indoor and outdoor; as are 1,731 equestrian paddocks; 4,933 stables; 2,863 tennis courts; and 2,268 penthouses.

The system gives all 23million homes in England one of about 100 'dwelling-house codes' for each type, from modest council flats up to mansions. It takes account of architectural styles: brick, thatch or stone fascias, sash windows, age periods and size. If and when the revaluation takes place, tax will be calculated through a vast and complex formula which uses these codings. Householders with one or a number of the features could see their council tax band move up by one or possibly two levels. Moving up from Band D to Band E could mean a rise of around £300. Moving up to Band F could result in a £600 increase.

Shadow Local Government Secretary Caroline Spelman said: 'Gordon Brown's council tax inspectors have been caught red-handed preparing the way for massive tax rises on middle England after the Election, to fill the black hole in Britain's ruined public finances. There is now cast-iron proof of a council tax revaluation by stealth. 'Only Labour would think of taxing people for looking out of their own windows. Conservatives will scrap these tax-raising plans and abolish tax inspectors' rights of entry into your home.'

The Government has spent a staggering £13million on the VOA's scheme to build the new database. Ministers have secretly renewed a multi-million-pound deal between the VOA and leading property website Rightmove to access sale prices and floorplans for tens of thousands of homes. The Treasury refused to say how much information the VOA received from Rightmove, whose website has a databank comprising 400million pages of information. In addition, the Government has spent £3.7million on a US computer system that can pinpoint households on a map and list information gleaned from house-to-house inspections....

In 2005, Ministers shelved plans to revalue property, originally set for 2007, over fears of a backlash from voters who could face massive council tax rises. However, they have not ruled out going ahead with the revaluation if Labour wins the Election.

Window taxes and similar attempts to make people pay for household features have long caused controversy. In 1696, a tax on windows was introduced to replace the Hearth Tax based on the number of fireplaces in a property, which was abolished because people resented inspectors snooping in their homes. The Window Tax was assessed from outside, making it cheaper to levy. But people avoided it by blocking up windows, and it was abolished in 1851.


How Britain's cultural elite rejects middle-class values and censors debate

Conservatism as heresy

The BBC maintains the absurd myth that it is always politically neutral, but occasionally one of its senior employees writes or says something that lets the cat out of the bag. In an article earlier this week in the BBC's in-house journal, otherwise known as The Guardian, the Corporation's controller of drama commissioning, Ben Stephenson, wrote: 'We need to foster peculiarity, idiosyncrasy, stubborn-mindedness, left-of-centre thinking.'

Left-of-centre thinking! Are you shocked? Even surprised? I confess I am not. Despite ritual denials, I had assumed that the minds behind the BBC's somewhat depleted drama output were sympathetic to Left-wing ideas rather than Right-wing ones. In a similar way, many of the people who run BBC news or current affairs programmes evidently have Left-wing leanings.

Imagine that you were a brilliant young playwright who had conceived a play about the destructive psychological effects which abortion can have on women. Mr Stephenson or his sidekicks would not clap you on the back. You would be shown the door, if you had ever been let through it. The Right-wing authors who have written for the BBC over the past 30 years can be numbered on the fingers of one hand. John Osborne, who began as an anti-Establishment firebrand with Look Back In Anger and ended his days as a grumpy Tory, was given some airtime in his dotage.

Then there was Ian Curteis. His play about the Falklands War, which was sympathetic to Margaret Thatcher, was binned by the BBC, and finally shown after 15 years as a kind of historical curiosity. The decks would have been immediately cleared had he portrayed Lady Thatcher as a bloodthirsty warmonger.

Most of the BBC's culture programmes have a left-of-centre perspective. For example, the contributors invited to appear on BBC2's Newsnight Review almost invariably belong to the soft Left. The occasional Right-winger is allowed on, though he or she may feel obliged to fall in with the prevailing Left-wing consensus.

It would be silly to single out the BBC for blame. The Corporation merely reflects a general takeover of our culture by the Left. It is difficult to think of any leading novelist, poet or playwright who could be even vaguely described as Right-wing. Tom Stoppard? Ronald Harwood? Only at a pinch.

Art is more difficult to define in political terms. All that can be said is that the BBC tends to celebrate fashionable post-modern artists, many of whom have little ability other than the power to shock, while ignoring immensely gifted artists whose work is more traditional.

Over the past 30 or 40 years, the Left has captured the citadels of our culture. I don't mean the old formidable communist Left, which is dead and buried, but a trendy soft Left whose world view is promulgated by The Guardian and the BBC. This is the club which aspiring members of the cultural elite are required to join.

What is fascinating is that during most of the 20th century the Left did not exert a stranglehold over our culture. Three of the four writers who are generally seen as the fathers of modernism could reasonably be described as Right-wing, sometimes dangerously so. T. S. Eliot became a devout Anglican and small 'c' conservative. The poet W. B. Yeats flirted with Mussolini, while the American writer Ezra Pound became, I regret to say, a paid-up fascist. Two of the greatest English poets of the last century, W. H. Auden and Philip Larkin, ended their days on the Right. Auden, like Eliot, rejected the atheism of his youth, and embraced religion. Some of Larkin's political views were extremely Right-wing, and would probably lead to his being banned by the BBC were he around today.

Both Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell, two of our finest mid-20th-century novelists, were firmly of the Right, though neither of them had much time for the Tory Party. Waugh famously said that 'the trouble with the Conservative Party is that it has not turned the clock back one second'.

Of course, I am not pretending that all the great writers of the 20th century were Right-wing. Far from it. The Bloomsbury group, whose members included Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster and Lytton Strachey, were the intellectuals forebears of the modern liberal-Left. Bernard Shaw was a socialist, as was H. G. Wells. Waugh's friend, the novelist Graham Greene, moved increasingly to the Left, and ended his days as a trenchant anti-American.

All I am saying is that throughout most of the 20th century there were Left-wing writers and Right-wing writers who argued and differed and were sometimes friends. There was a debate. There were choices. What we have now is a Left-wing literary monopoly, many of whose members apparently believe that it is impossible in the modern age to be a great writer and Right-wing.

You may say it is wrong to attach labels such as ' Right-wing' and 'Left-wing' to all authors. But every writer is in some sense political, even one as apparently removed from great events as Jane Austen. When Elizabeth Bennet lets fly at the odiously snobbish aristocrat Lady Catherine de Burgh in Pride And Prejudice, Austen is celebrating middle-class virtues of plain-speaking and honesty against ignorant aristocratic pretension. That is a political point.

To return to the BBC's Ben Stephenson, he doubtless sees himself as an iconoclast challenging the status quo. But in fact he is part of the status quo, conforming to the Leftist beliefs that predominate in the BBC. Courage lies in questioning the status quo. That is what artists are supposed to do. Members of our cultural consensus huddle within their ramparts, terrified of promoting ideas or thoughts they deem unacceptable.

Perennial themes in the Corporation's increasingly sparse drama are the evils of poverty, the excessive power of the State and the smugness of the bourgeoisie. I grant these can be rewarding, but there are many other important things going on in our society. Yet these would not be considered proper subjects for a BBC play.

The increasing power of the State could be examined not so much on account of its passion for surveillance as because of its apparent desire to end up by employing every worker in the country. The breakdown of the family, which partly explains the squalor, violence and human degradation visible in many of our towns, would be a fertile subject for drama. So might the social and cultural transformation brought about by uncontrolled immigration.

But the liberal-Left consensus, nourished by The Guardian and the BBC, believes in an ever-expanding public sector. It does not place much value on marriage. It is relaxed about mass immigration. So three subjects which concern many people are ruled out. They cannot even be addressed. It is equally hard to imagine a BBC play that grappled with the harmful effects of abortion, or showed religion in a sympathetic light.

We live in a cultural monopoly mediated by the BBC. Most writers believe more or less the same. Discordant voices are excluded, or at best muted. For much of the time a Leftist elite talks to itself in endless circles. All this helps to explain my feeling that we live in a narrow, boring, self-satisfied little country.


The British police have been trained to hate the middle class too

Company director arrested for attempted murder after rescuing son being beaten by yobs

A company director has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after confronting a gang of yobs who were attacking his stepson. Colin Philpott, 58, allegedly stabbed a 16-year-old in the chest during the incident in the front garden of his £500,000 Tudor-style house.

He had awoken late on Friday night to discover stepson Alex Lee being beaten by the group of teenagers. Mr Lee, 25, had gone outside to stop the gang from vandalising Mr Philpott’s Jaguar car. Mr Lee was said to have then been punched and kicked in the head, suffering a broken nose and concussion for which he needed hospital treatment.

Susanne Philpott, 51, says her husband – who owns an escalator cleaning company – rushed out to defend her son with a letter-opener he had grabbed from a shelf. It was then that the teenager was allegedly stabbed five times. He was taken to hospital and was last night said to be stable.

When police arrived at the five-bedroom house in Crowthorne, Berkshire, Mr Philpott was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. Five youths, aged 16 and 17, were arrested on suspicion of assault and criminal damage.

Mrs Philpott said: ‘My son and I came out at about 11pm after hearing a bang and we saw two young guys outside our house. ‘They returned 15 minutes later – with three others – and all were visibly drunk. I took a digital camera and told them that if they vandalised anything else I’d take pictures as evidence. ‘One said that he would kill me and burn down my house. I was terrified and when Alex tried to calm him down, the other four got worked up and they all attacked him. Alex ended up on the ground with all five of them on him, kicking him in the head and stomach. I was so frightened for him that I screamed for Colin, who was in bed.

‘He came running out – still barefoot and half asleep – and saw the mess Alex was in so ran back into the house. He grabbed the first thing he saw, which was a letter-opener, and confronted the boys. ‘They attacked Colin and I saw one stumble into the road as Colin screamed for me to call the police. When the police arrived and then arrested Colin, I was gob-smacked. ‘It was heartbreaking to see him handcuffed and carted off like a common criminal. He is a hardworking, honest family man and was only trying to protect us.’

The mother of two, who works as a training consultant, said the quiet neighbourhood had been blighted by teenagers attacking cars and defacing gardens for several months. She claimed that just days earlier, Mr Philpott’s £30,000 S-Type Jaguar had been smothered with hair gel while it was parked on the driveway. ‘We have had lots of trouble with vandals and they have targeted us twice within a week. The worst thing is that I am now terrified in my own home. ‘The police have installed a panic button but I still don’t feel safe. My husband and I had a holiday planned but now I wouldn’t feel safe leaving my 22-year-old daughter on her own. ‘I just can’t get over how one minute you’re happy and everything is fine and the next your life has been turned upside down by some mindless yobs.’ ....

Other residents said gangs of youngsters had ripped up flower beds, thrown eggs at them and thrown objects through open windows. Neighbours have reported the anti-social behaviour to the local council and a councillor is said to have asked Thames Valley Police to take action.

Last night the force confirmed that Mr Philpott had been released on bail, pending possible charges.


The selective meddler

Good to meddle in Israel; bad to meddle in Iran

In foreign policy, President Barack Obama has demonstrated a disturbing propensity to curry favor with our adversaries at the expense of our friends.

The Czechs and Poles are rightly concerned that they will be sacrificed on the altar of better U.S. relations with Russia. And the Israelis fear that the Obama administration’s desired opening to the Muslim world will be achieved at their expense. Mr. Obama’s attempted bullying of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a case in point.

Mr. Netanyahu was sworn in as Israel’s prime minister on March 31. Shortly thereafter, the Obama administration confronted Israel’s new leader in a very public way regarding Israeli settlements in the West Bank, an area partially controlled by the Palestinian National Authority. This was an extremely unusual way for an American president to greet the new leader of a liberal democracy that’s a close ally of the U.S.

The Obama administration was not satisfied with a series of understandings crafted by the Bush administration that, while not freezing settlements, had nonetheless achieved a significant reduction in settlement construction. During a May press conference with the Egyptian foreign minister, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that Mr. Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements—not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions.”

Subsequently, Mr. Obama demanded that Israel freeze construction in east Jerusalem. Of course, Mr. Netanyahu rejected Mr. Obama’s demand. He declared that Jerusalem is an open, undivided city “that has no separation according to religion or national affiliation.” Mr. Netanyahu added that “we cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and purchase in all parts of Jerusalem.”

If Jews were prohibited from buying property in New York, London, Paris or Rome, there would be an international outcry. Why, Mr. Netanyahu wondered, should the standard be different for Jerusalem?

Mr. Obama is woefully wrong if he believes that his confrontational style will provide an incentive for the Palestinians and the members of the Arab League to resolve the Arab-Israeli dispute. It will simply reinforce the long-standing Arab belief that the U.S. can “deliver” Israel if it only has the will to do so, thereby reducing Arab incentives to make concessions in direct negotiations with Israel.

As if on cue, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian National Authority, announced that he would not negotiate on any issue with the new Israeli government until Mr. Obama’s settlement conditions are met.

In addition to the building freeze in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Mr. Abbas insisted on four other unilateral, non-negotiable concessions: First, an independent Palestinian state; second, that Israel pulls back to its pre-June 1967 borders, minus a Palestinian land bridge between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; third, a Palestinian “right of return” to Israel; and fourth, resolution of all permanent status issues on the basis of the 2002 Abdullah plan calling on Arabs to normalize relations with Israel in return for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders. The “right of return,” in particular, is a non-starter.

If Mr. Obama seeks a Palestinian Arab state, he is going about it the wrong way. The fact is that Mr. Netanyahu has endorsed a two-state solution and an end to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank—as long as the Palestinians accept Israel as a legitimate Jewish state and cannot militarily threaten it. Israel has been willing to accept a two-state solution since the United Nations partition resolution for Palestine in 1947, but the Arabs have refused. They are not interested in creating a separate Palestinian Arab state but in destroying Israel as a Jewish state.

The Obama approach in the Middle East is predicated on what might be called the Arab “grievance narrative,” which holds that Israel was created as a result of Western guilt about the Holocaust. It is also based on the idea that, as the president suggested in his Cairo speech, there is moral equivalence between the Holocaust and Palestinian “dislocation.”

Such language illustrates an inability to make distinctions. Arabs launched a war against Jewish self-determination and the state of Israel long before any Israeli “occupation” of their lands. When Israel seized land in a defensive war, it was the Arabs, not the Israelis, who kept Palestinian “refugees” in limbo for three generations to await Israel’s destruction.

As Mr. Netanyahu reminded Mr. Obama after the latter’s Cairo speech, the Arab claim that Israel was a land grab by the great powers to salve the collective conscience of the West after the Holocaust is a slander. On the contrary, he observed, Israel’s right to its homeland rests on the longstanding historical connection of the Jewish people to the land of Israel. This right was ratified by the unanimous and legitimizing votes of the League of Nations and the U.N. Security Council’s permanent members, and validated by over 60 years of Israel’s successful, democratic statehood.

Israel’s “right to exist” was expressed best by Israeli diplomat Abba Eban in 1981. He wrote, “Israel’s right to exist, like that of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and 152 other states, is axiomatic and unreserved. Israel’s legitimacy is not suspended in midair, awaiting acknowledgment. . . . There is certainly no other state, big or small, young or old, that would consider mere recognition of its ‘right to exist’ a favor, or a negotiable concession.”

Mr. Netanyahu might also have added that Israel’s control of the West Bank (territory that should properly be called “disputed” rather than “occupied”), was the result of defeating the Arab powers who initiated the Six Day War of 1967. The status of aggressors and defenders is not interchangeable. Neither is the status of victorious powers and defeated ones.

Nonetheless, Israel has taken unilateral steps toward peace, steps not reciprocated by the Palestinians. When Israel unilaterally disengaged from the Gaza Strip, dismantling 21 settlements and displacing over 9,000 residents, it conducted the most comprehensive test of the “land for peace” concept in the history of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Yet Israel was rewarded with the creation of a terrorist enclave governed by Hamas, rather than the peaceful, responsible neighbor Israel would need in order to accept a Palestinian Arab state.

Unlike Hamas, the corrupt Palestinian National Authority that holds sway in the West Bank has nominally accepted Israel’s right to exist but has never given up the “right of return” for Palestinian “refugees.” That right, if implemented, would mean the end of Israel’s existence.

Peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians requires compromises on both sides. U.S. pressure on Israel, without any on the Palestinians, will not achieve the desired outcome.

Earlier this summer, the president justified his decision to downplay even rhetorical support for the Iranian protesters who rose up against their government and its fraudulent election. He did not wish the U.S. to appear to be “meddling” in Iranian affairs. He apparently feels no similar constraint when it comes to Israel.


An old Australian way to deal with Arab attacks

To Reginald Messenger, it was "just something that had to be done". He was a trooper in the 6th Light Horse Regiment at Beersheba in 1918 when he took part in what is emerging as one of the darkest, and and most overlooked, chapters of Australian military history. Known as the Surafend massacre, it involved 200 Anzac troops, some from the famed Australian Light Horse, who retaliated for the murder of a New Zealand soldier by razing a Bedouin village in Palestine and murdering between 40 and 120 of its inhabitants.

"Dad told me about it numerous times," Reginald's son, Oliver, said. "He said that they were camped next to this Gyppo village and one day they woke up to find that some of their blokes had their throat cut and their things stolen. It had been going on for some time - the Gyppos would steal from them all the time - and so they decided to do something about it, because no one else would."

One night in December 1918 the soldiers surrounded the Bedouin village of Surafend, emptied it of woman and children, then fell upon the men with bayonets and heavy sticks. "Dad never expressed any remorse about it," Mr Messenger said. "I gather that they had put up with it for too long. They were good soldiers, those blokes, but they didn't put up with any shit."

The incident occurred shortly after the end of World War I, and has been all but obliterated from the official record. Just three pages of H.S. Gullet's 844-page official war history mention it, and neither the NSW Returned and Services League nor the Light Horse Association had heard of it.

A new book, called Beersheba, by the journalist Paul Daley, re-examines the Surafend massacre, and the long shadow it cast over the legend of the Light Horse, famed for their 1917 cavalry charge at Beersheba. Daley says that, after the massacre the British commander-in-chief, General Sir Edmund Allenby, "wiped his hands" of the Light Horse, even maliciously withdrawing citations and decorations. "Dad said that after the incident, a general - perhaps it was Allenby - addressed the men and called them cowards," Mr Messenger said. "But the men just counted him out [counted loudly, in unison]. They just drowned him out, you know?"

A spokesman for the Australian War Memorial, said: "The Anzac legend is an uplifting one but, like all legends, there are some unfortunate aspects. But this doesn't detract from acts of heroism and bravery."



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.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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