Wednesday, April 06, 2011
Pathetic! British PM says Britain caused many of the world's problems
It's bad enough for a Leftist leader like Obama to be disrespecting his own country but to have an alleged Conservative do it...!
Britain is responsible for many of the world’s historic problems, including the conflict in Kashmir between India and Pakistan, David Cameron has said.
The Prime Minister appeared to distance himself from the imperial past when he suggested that Britain was to blame for decades of tension and several wars over the disputed territory, as well as other global conflicts.
His remarks came on a visit to Pakistan, when he was asked how Britain could help to end the row over Kashmir. He insisted that it was not his place to intervene in the dispute, saying: “I don’t want to try to insert Britain in some leading role where, as with so many of the world’s problems, we are responsible for the issue in the first place.”
His remarks about Kashmir were greeted warmly by the audience of Pakistani students and academics, but drew accusations from historians that the Prime Minister was wrongly apologising for Britain’s past.
Daisy Cooper, the director of the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit, said: “This is typical of the UK’s schizophrenic relationship with former colonies where it is both proud and embarrassed about its past. The Coalition has said that it has big ambitions for a modern Commonwealth and the UK should stop being embarrassed about its colonial past and they should work with other countries to help improve their human rights.”
Tristram Hunt, the Labour MP, historian and former television presenter, said: “To say that Britain is a cause of many of the world’s ills is naïve. To look back 50-odd years for the problems facing many post-colonial nations adds little to the understanding of the problems they face. “David Cameron has a tendency to go to countries around the world and tell them what they want to hear, whether it is in Israel, Turkey, India and Pakistan.”
Mr Cameron’s apparent willingness to accept historic responsibility for the Kashmir dispute has echoes of public apologies issued by his Labour predecessors. In 1997, Tony Blair apologised to the Irish people for the famine the country suffered in the mid-19th century. And in 2006, he spoke of his “deep sorrow” at Britain’s historic role in the African slave trade. In 2009, Gordon Brown issued a formal Government apology to tens of thousands of British children shipped to Australia and other Commonwealth countries between the 1920s and 1960s.
In the same year, Mr Cameron said that Britain should do more to celebrate its history, writing: “We must never forget that Britain is a great country with a history we can be truly proud of. Our culture, language and inventiveness has shaped the modern world.”
Sean Gabb, of the campaign group Libertarian Alliance, said Mr Cameron should not apologise for Britain’s past. He said: “It’s a valid historical point that some problems stem from British foreign policy in the 19th and 20th centuries, but should we feel guilty about that? I fail to see why we should.
“Some of these problems came about because these countries decided they did not want to be part of the British Empire. They wanted independence. They got it. They should sort out their problems instead of looking to us.”
Mr Cameron’s remark is striking because he has previously spoken of his pride in Britain’s past and named Viscount Palmerston as one of his historical inspirations. As foreign secretary and later prime minister in the mid-19th century, Palmerston was popular for his brazenly interventionist foreign policy, an approach that later became known as “gunboat diplomacy”.
Mr Cameron was in Pakistan to make amends for any offence he caused last year by accusing the country of “exporting” terrorism.
Kashmir has been contested since 1947 when India was partitioned. The original borders were drawn up by Viscount Radcliffe, a law lord who became chairman of the two boundary committees set up with the passing of the Indian Independence Act. He submitted his partition in August 1947 and the two nations were created.
While some historians say that makes Britain responsible for the dispute, others point to Hari Singh, the Hindu ruler of Kashmir in 1947. Despite an expectation that Muslim areas of the subcontinent would become part of Pakistan, he decided that Muslim-majority Kashmir should be part of India.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars over Kashmir since partition, and the dispute continues to strain their relationship. On a visit to India last year, Mr Cameron was criticised when he said Britain should approach its former imperial possession “in a spirit of humility”.
As well as Kashmir, some historians say Britain bears historic responsibility for other international disputes. Many trace the Israel-Palestine dispute back to Britain’s decision in 1917 to establish a “national home for the Jewish people” in the territory then known as Palestine.
The borders of many Middle Eastern states were also drawn by Britain. The badly-defined and highly unstable border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan was also largely defined by Britain in the late 19th century.
Britain may have a Tory PM - but Lefties and luvvies still run the place
Over at Ofcom it is shrug-your-shoulders time. The broadcasting regulator had shown leniency to ‘edgy’ comedian Frankie Boyle after he made jibes about a disabled child — letting him off with no more than a rap on the knuckles.
Boyle’s remarks were made on Channel 4, another public body. Chairman David Abraham and the channel’s liberal supremos were similarly disinclined to take the matter too gravely.
In the House of Commons the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, was asked about the soppingly wet commission which will consider a Bill of Rights. It includes Leftist lawyers Anthony Lester, Helena Kennedy and Philippe Sands. Mr Clegg wafted aside concerns from Tory MP Esther McVey that the commission might not ‘reflect the will of the British public’.
Over on Twitter, meanwhile, millionaire actor and Labour supporter Eddie Izzard was regaling his faithful munchkins with his latest political apercus, attacking the Government’s cuts. What a tangled web!
This is not about Frankie Boyle, horrible though he sounds. Nor is it a beef about Ofcom, Channel 4 or Nick Clegg, richly though they may all deserve criticism.
I hope simply to draw attention to a lesson from these unrelated events. They all show the way that our politics is increasingly being influenced by unelected voices from the Left.
The country may have booted Labour out of power at the last general election, but the bien-pensant liberals remain very much in control. Though they liked to consider themselves ‘alternative’, they are in fact the Establishment, as set in their ways and as intolerant as the tailcoated elders of the Victorian age.
In the middle of the last century, public life in Britain was dominated by elected representatives. Ministers, chosen from the House of Commons, made most of the decisions. Royal commissions were rare. Procrastinating ‘consultation exercises’ were few and certainly not subject to the myriad equality audits and minority-balance assessments which today’s civil servants demand.
It is in such discussions that democratically elected politicians have their will emasculated.
Today’s politics, partly thanks to over-regulation and the deadly grip of lawyers, partly thanks to the timidity of so many MPs, is more about quangocrats and cronies — many of them still, sadly, Tony Blair’s.
We may think ourselves to be a modern, democratic land, but our public life is very much the plaything of the rich and famous, friends of the powerful, popular pin-ups.
It is about ‘celebrities’ seeking to establish themselves as concerned citizens. It is about an interfering, pro-public spending ‘third sector’ and former Blairites who still need to earn a few bob and therefore seek a perch on the public cliff-face.
Think of Blair’s ex-bag carrier Sally Morgan — his director of government relations — who has just, staggeringly, depressingly, been put in charge of Ofsted, the schools standards watchdog.
Think of Alan Milburn — the Health Secretary who resigned to spend more time with his family — being made the state’s independent authority on social mobility. Milburn! What a chancer he was as a minister.
In a few weeks’ time we will vote in a referendum on electoral reform which could alter Parliament for good. Given the effect that this referendum could have on our elected politics, you might have expected MPs to hurl themselves into the debate. But no.
The Yes To AV referendum campaign has been dominated by showbusiness personalities. Stephen Fry has been involved. Isn’t he always? So have Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick in TV’s Blackadder, Oscar winner Colin Firth, militant atheist Richard Dawkins (ugh) and dreadlocked poet Benjamin Zephaniah.
Poor old Zephaniah was dropped from some of the campaign’s leaflets in the Southern counties, though. Perhaps it was felt he was a bit black.
We had more of the same, unelected stuff when the No To AV campaign held its dismal little launch. On the stage sat Lord Winston, that telly scientist with the Groucho Marx moustache. ‘I am not a politician,’ he boasted (falsely, because he is a Labour peer and therefore a member of Parliament). Anything but an elected tribune, that was the mantra.
Hang on. Are politicians not voted in by us? Do we not choose them to represent us and to be accountable? How can an inadequate ‘star’ such as the impeccably Left-wing novelist Zadie Smith be held up to scrutiny when she appears on BBC Radio to rail against library closures? Other ‘names’ opposing changes to public libraries have included fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, actress Dame Judi Dench and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Perhaps the Archbish’ was determined not to be outdone by atheist Philip Pullman, who has long made it his business to spout forth about public funding of libraries. The naughty thought enters my head that Mr Pullman’s books must do quite good business at libraries, but I am sure it would be quite wrong to suggest that he is supporting libraries purely for personal financial gain.
Arts Council cutbacks last week were another example of vicious cultural politics, conducted almost entirely away from Westminster and to the favour of the Left. The shenanigans involved the Council’s chairman, Dame Liz Forgan (who chairs the trust which runs the Guardian newspaper), and a slew of Left-wing luvvies, all united in a common belief that they have a God-given right to spend and waste taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
Actor Sam West, whose mother Prunella Scales (of Fawlty Towers fame) appears in Labour Party adverts, was leading the pack, making daft accusations that the Tories actually enjoyed cutting the arts. If a politician made that sort of ludicrous claim we could vote him or her out of office. When the likes of West do it, we are pretty much powerless to take issue with him.
On the same day, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s director, Michael Boyd, went on the BBC to compare the Daily Mail to the Soviet Union’s propaganda sheet Pravda. Why? Because we had argued that the country, regrettably, had no option but to reduce national debt. If anyone was behaving like a hardline communist, it was Mr Boyd and his cadre of subsidised, bourgeois privilege.
The unelected Leftist Establishment confronting the Cameron Government at present is a daunting edifice. It ranges from the new Supreme Court, serial naysayers to the elected Commons (the judges seem much keener on Europe), to essentially frivolous figures such as Shilpa Shetty, a Bollywood actress who appeared on Celebrity Big Brother. She demanded continued spending on the BBC’s Asian Network, even though it costs many millions of pounds. Is she not rich enough to fund it herself?
No discussion of pay is allowed to pass on the public airwaves without a contribution from Left-wing journalist Will Hutton. Scintillating he is not. Yet he is Left-wing, so on he goes. No debate about murdering despots passes without a contribution from the ultimate luvvie lawyer, Geoffrey Robertson QC.
Analysis of the health service is bent towards the views of The King’s Fund, allegedly independent but distinctly big-state in its views. The pink-tinged Institute For Public Policy Research think-tank has an unhealthy influence over Whitehall pensions policy.
And so it continues. The Left has been discredited at the ballot box, but its remit continues through unelected channels.
There are big guns such as the Local Government Association which opposes the cuts, and the Equality And Human Rights Commission, which uses public money to prosecute Christian hoteliers for refusing to rent rooms to gay couples.
And there are smaller fry such as athletes Denise Lewis and Dame Kelly Holmes, who opposed reductions in the tax money spent on school sport. Cyclist Jason Queally wrote to the Prime Minister ‘seeking an urgent meeting and demanding a rethink’ on that policy.
In an ideal world, Downing Street would ignore this carping chorus. In a Britain gripped by celebrity worship and run by headline-seeking politicians, unfortunately, they are listened to and allowed to set the agenda.
So far, David Cameron has appeased these people. Maybe he feels comfortable in their presence. Socially, he is ‘one of them’. They dress like him, eat the same sort of food, speak the same language, go to the same holiday destinations. Politically, however, they are a mortal danger, not only to the Government (which they hate), but also to our continued sovereign power.
If Britain is going to conquer the peril of its national debt and become competitive in the 21st century it is going to have to shake off this sly, unelected and deeply unrepresentative elite, and the sooner the better.
NV: Couple outraged after hospital takes newborn baby away
This Nevada incident is a great contrast with how it goes in Britain. Public pressure meant that the matter went no further. In Britain the couple might never have seen their baby again
A group of protestors want answers after a couple had their baby taken away by social services at Summerlin Hospital. The decision was made by hospital staff regarding the care of the baby.
The couple says their baby was kept at the hospital against their will after a nurse contacted social services for what they describe as an "unjustified reason."
Lincoln and Cecilia Rogers say their dreams came true when baby Lilia was born healthy just a week ago. But they describe a nightmare in getting her home from Summerlin Hospital.
"They said, ‘Well, if you leave the hospital I'll have to arrest you and your husband.'" Cecilia is referring to the police officer who was sent to her room just hours after giving birth, all because she and her husband told the nurse they didn't want to keep Lilia overnight in the NICU to be treated for jaundice. "We just really wanted to take the natural approach if we could," Cecilia explains.
The couple says it got a second opinion and spoke with a pediatrician at Summerlin Hospital, who agreed that it would be okay if the couple took the baby home with minor jaundice as long as they signed a medical release form.
But the nurse they originally worked with called Child Protective Services to report these new parents for not agreeing with the recommended hospital care. "And then Child Protective Services walked in and started interrogating my wife," Lincoln recalls. "Basically, they were going to take the baby and put her in that incubator no matter what. I thought we had no option."
That lack of option is what prompted a protest outside of Summerlin Hospital. Dozens of people stood up in support of the Rogers family, many of whom are new parents themselves. "I feel that – especially new parents – we need to know what our rights are and when they're being overstepped," says Wyndee Forrest
And that's exactly what Lincoln and Cecilia say happened when their baby was required to stay at the hospital. "It took one nurse to make one horrible decision and a domino effect to happen like that," says Lincoln. "It's just been so unfortunate."
Summerlin Hospital declined to comment on the specifics of this case but did release a statement that it disagrees with any claims that the hospital violated any patient rights.
Baby Lilia is reportedly healthy and at home with her parents.
Australia: Racial Discrimination Act has chilling effect on freedom of speech
By James Allan (Garrick Professor of Law at the University of Queensland)
COLUMNIST Andrew Bolt is before the Federal Court because various plaintiffs are seeking a declaration against him under the Racial Discrimination Act (together with a court-ordered apology, which sounds Orwellian even writing it down).
They want the court to declare that Bolt's opinion pieces about light-skinned Aborigines were unlawful under the act, which strangely enough need not be the same thing as being a criminal offence under that act. And they want the court to enjoin their being republished.
In 1995, the last year of the Keating government, this act was amended to include racial vilification, meaning it became unlawful "to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group" on the basis of their race. But because of the fear of how stifling this could be for free expression in this country, the act also limits remedies for this as well as providing for lots of exemptions. So you don't infringe the act if your words were said reasonably and in good faith in such contexts as being part of an artistic work, or an academic debate, or was "a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest".
The Bolt trial is testing the limits of this legislation. We will see how this 1995 legislative amendment, controversial even back then, is interpreted by the courts. We will see how much room there is in Australia to say things that offend others, the sort of issues that really do lie at the heart of free speech concerns.
Four comments only indirectly related to that trial are worth making. First, I have always said that Australia has more free speech than Canada and Britain. And in practice, if you factor in the sort of self-censorship you see on American university campuses, then we have more scope to speak our minds here than even in the US.
Depending on how this trial goes, that could all change.
Second, a number of commentators have mistakenly claimed this couldn't happen if we had a bill of rights. Wrong! Canada has one of the strongest bills of rights in the common law world. It also has way more limits on your scope to speak your mind when it comes to so-called hate speech, and indeed defamation and campaign finance rules, than we have here. That's why Mark Steyn was dragged before courts and pseudo-courts in Canada, bill of rights and all. The mistake is to think a bill of rights with its "right to free speech" somehow gives you an absolute right along those lines. Wrong. All you buy with a bill of rights is the judges' views about the proper scope of the right, how it relates to other enumerated rights, and what limits on it are reasonable.
Put differently, you can be an unstinting critic of bills of rights at the same time as you are in favour of lots and lots and lots of free speech. There is nothing inconsistent in that and people who point to some supposed mismatch between the two simply don't know how bills of rights work. When you buy one, you are simply buying the views of the unelected judges. You are not buying absolutist guarantees of rights.
Third, however this court case goes, and even if there be some sort of appeal, the people to blame for this infringement of free speech are our legislators. This 1995 amendment ought to be repealed, and now. Sure, you can read this statute as giving such wide exemptions that you could drive a truck through them. So maybe Bolt will walk away unscathed.
But the very fact he (and you) can be brought to court at all can impose a massive chilling effect on free speech. We shouldn't have an act that allows complaints of a quasi-defamatory nature to be turned into ones dressed up as racial vilification. Those who think, like me, that the valuable sort of free speech is the kind that protects stuff many find offensive and distasteful will want this 1995 amending legislation repealed.
Otherwise claims to be in favour of free speech start to look like favouring only the warm, fuzzy varieties of free speech.
The only valuable sort of freedom of speech is the sort that allows people to do or to say what others find wrong-headed, offensive, distasteful and intolerant.
Being free to say and do what everyone else wants you to say and do is not a liberty or freedom you will ever have to fight for; it will make little difference to anything.
Already this Bolt trial is getting publicity in the US. Steyn is writing about it, as are others. And they're painting us as a Mickey Mouse little jurisdiction where being offended is enough to allow victims to paint some speakers as acting unlawfully. Some are suggesting we might be heading down the road Canada travelled.
I think any good, well-functioning democracy requires its citizens to man up and grow a thick skin. If you're offended, tell us why the speaker is wrong. Don't ask for a court-ordered apology and some two-bit declaration.
Of course none of this is the court's fault. They didn't pass this legislation. Our legislature did. And it's time to repeal it. Now.
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.