Thursday, 24 November 2011

Cuba will survive :-)

Sat with my tea, after a long days toil, I decided to watch the news and catch up on the days events. One story in particular riled me more than any other, even more than Rob Andrews refusal to quit. There was a five minute package on what a terrible place Cuba is under the Castro's. Being a man on a low income, living in the UK, I found this particular package almost laughable to the point that it was borderline propaganda. Some filthy stinking rich Tory scum International Development Minister then came on and continued the tirade against Cuba calling the Castro's "tyrants". The question I wanted to pose to this revolting tory was "are the Cuban people liberated from most of the misery that afflicts most of the people of the third world?" The answer to that would be yes, people in Havana live longer than people in Washington DC and they receive free education from primary school to PhD. But all this particular minister cared about was the fact that the people of Cuba couldn't vote. But we all know that Tories and capitalists in general don't recognise health, longevity and free education as basic human rights. All they care about is that we turn up every four years and endorse their antiquated political system. Elections in the UK are more like the Oscars.
I firmly believe that if it were not for the 50 years of siege, assassination attempts and invasions, from the United States, then democracy could have been achieved in Cuba. The United States has done everything it could to destroy the Cuban Revolution, the CIA has made 600 known attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro. America have done this precisely because Cuba is an inspiration to the poor of the world. So Washington is to blame to the absence of democracy in Cuba. Because sadly when a nation like Cuba is under constant threat, like Britain was during WW2, democracy has to be suspended in favour of a stable government. There were no elections in Britain between 1935 and 1945, British political parties did not fight each other throughout the course of WW2. Cuba, like Britain during WW2, has a rather powerfull and aggressive country that has a proven track record of kicking the shit out smaller countries, right on its door step. The United States is a mere 75 miles from Cuba and has been trying to destroy the Cuban and the Revolution for over 50 years and thus universal suffrage has been suspended. Also if one analyses the current political climate of Latin America it would appear that the only way to get elected is to profess admiration of Fidel Castro and opposition to capitalism and US foreign policy (see Hugo Chavez, the worlds most popular politician).
However, despite the fact that Fidel is no longer President, I firmly believe that Socialism will survive, the free health service will survive, free education will survive and the Cuban Revolution will survive. In spite of pro-capitalist propaganda Cuba will continue to be an inspiration to the poor of the world, and Fidel will always be an icon to people who want liberation from bone the grinding poverty and back breaking toil which has been inflicted upon them by a brutal and opressive capitalist system. Anyway, until next time comrades. Peace and Love!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Libertarian Left or Right?

Libertarianism, if it be the promotion of individual liberty and individual responsibility, is neither left nor right. In the British context it is neither Conservative nor Labour. It is not, essentially, about a political form at all but rather the removal of 'politics', of controlling power and coercion, in the life of the individual. (If only the directors of the now almost deceased Libertarian Party had embraced that!)
Insofar as the Conservative Party has its roots, and demonstrates its adherence to those roots, in the old aristocracy that ruled and controlled day to day life, it is anti libertarian. However in the 21st Century, and in much of the 20th, it has been Labour that has been the party of centralised control and intervention in the daily lives of the people.
In fact the Conservatives of Thatcher would probably have had more in common with the Whigs of old, and the Labour control-freaks and micro managers more with the old control-centred Tories of two centuries ago.
For the last 50 years or so both parties have indeed been different flavour of the same stuff. Today even, Cameron is less conservative than Blair was when he came to 'power', which he did by appealing to the popularity of conservative sentiment in the voters more effectively than the 'depleted-Conservatives' did in 1997.
During the 20 or so years before Labour's return under Blair, and for some years after, freedom did regain that bit of a breathing space because individuals within the Conservative Party had seen the individualistic beliefs they held dear, as well as simple, survivable reality, being dangerously eroded under old Labour. The changes in sentiment the Conservatives introduced after being elected in 1979 were not eradicated by New Labour until the collective public memory of why the Conservatives had been voted in had been obfuscated, re-written, and had faded. To repeat, the policies did not hit the buffers, the Party did after it abandoned those policies.
And now the forces that rolled back centralised control have been largely contained and neutralised and that breathing space for freedom is closing up very, very fast. The spirit of centralised controlled as exemplified previously by the USSR rides again with a whole new dimension on totalitarian terror from a different quarter; out of the Middle East and Middle Ages.
Politics is a shifting game and will always be open to deception. It is inherently dishonest being as it is, about power, and the manipulation, coercion and control of others.
Further, all too often one sees political debate revelling in tricks of thought and speech rather than with substance. It's about winning rather than addressing the truth.
However it would seem there would be more hope to promote libertarian agendas within the Conservative Party than within Labour. There is a spirit that has flourished from time to time amongst some of those in the Conservative Party that is far more libertarian than could ever be expected in Labour, unless that party were to go beyond the robust addressing of reality that occurred during Blair's first few years in power, and that probably actually came from Alistair Campbell, whatever his world view, and Labour actually seriously committed itself to the truth.
Self reliance, responsibility for one's self and actions, is far more in keeping with those who have built the nation rather than those who have used it to fund themselves, their programmes and their Utopian hopes

Friday, 28 October 2011

That Friday Feeling...

Grab yourself a Crunchie and all that. I'm feeling decidedly dodgy, so I'll leave you with a gem from They Might be Giants...

 I'm gonna grab a nap - take care and I'll catch you soon...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

In the Absence of the Born Leader, Talent Becomes Everything

Man City's astonishing demolition of their city rivals at fortress Old Trafford was too significant as both result and statement not to have any lasting meaning. This bunny is by no means a United supporter, although the Eastlands spending spree has gone some way towards removing the club of its status as plucky underdog and default option on derby day. The events on Sunday, those final few minutes in particular where United simply capitulated, were astonishing listening/viewing and wholly unexpected in terms of scale, but this bunny could not enjoy the experience in the same way as might have been the case but a few years ago. Of course, it could simply not have happened back then...

This may or may not represent a changing of the guard in terms of domestic dominance. It stands to reason that one side capable of strengthening to the extent that City have in recent years is bound to win major trophies before too long, but then a nine month Premier League campaign is an awful long time for a squad of immensely wealthy personnel, some of whose egos require round-the-clock massage, to stick together and pull in the same direction. Were the current season being played out in a computer game, then City might be the only team this bunny would wish to manage minus the benefit of some 'cheat' formation if he wished to actually win something. Back to reality, where keeping all those star players happy until next May will prove awfully difficult, while the Tevez affair appears to have further potential twists.

But if we're realistic, they've gone massive favourites to win the title for the first time for nearly half a century. One of the aspects that has to be factored into an equation is the state of the competition, and what we have seen already this season would indicate that there are further uncontrollables likely to break in their favour over the coming weeks and months. Chelsea, in the midst of a Villas-Boas revolution, appear to be a less than cohesive mish-mash of ageing quality, new additions and potential stars of tomorrow. Their brand of football is a whole lot more exciting and progressive than it has been at any time in the Abramovich era, but a sense of vulnerability in defence is apparent, and it may be two seasons before 'the new Mourinho' establishes 'his team' and they are ready to challenge again.

United have two significant issues. First up, the relative austerity brought about by the Glazer era finally appears to have bitten as their level of strength in depth has dipped somewhat markedly in the last two seasons. A few players missing through injury or suspension, and the opposing team sheet simply does not look as daunting as it otherwise might - while their first eleven is capable of matching pretty much anyone bar the once in a generation team that is Barcelona, possessing a squad capable of sustaining those levels of performance over nine months is an entirely different matter. The manner in which Basel, a middling European side, created scoring opportunities at will when they visited Old Trafford for a Champions League encounter, surely goes a long way towards amplifying this point. Notoriously poor travellers at continental level, they were a matter of seconds from returning to the land of cowbells and toblerones with a famous 2-3 victory.

I'm currently listening to a 5Live piece on Pressure in Sport, and someone has just made what is essentially this bunny's point regarding United's biggest current problem. Previous success has not simply been built on the presence of talented players, but men who acted as extensions of Sir Alex and his matra out on the field of play. Roy Keane, controversial a figure as he was, epitomised this type of player and their significance more than anyone. Not only were his engine, robust tackling and will to win a package capable of substantially stiffening even the most flimsy midfield, but Keane was the type prone to dishing out more than the occasional bollocking and throttling team-mates if standards slipped below the required level (this tendency would of course lead to his eventual departure from Old Trafford).

United were blessed in the 1990s and 2000s with a series of individuals capable of raising the whole to something greater than the sum of its parts. Bryan Robson was the first to fulfil the role of eyes and ears for his boss, and Edwin Van Der Sar may well have been the last. This bunny had a hunch that United would badly miss the retiring gloveman, for reasons that went beyond the immediate - professionals of his ilk are appear to be something of a dying breed in a modern game where absolute hunger is perhaps does not drive the average player through his career like it once did.

As the likes of Keane (who would no doubt have banged a few heads together when the score was 1-3) become more few and far between, elite level football may simply come down to the game of chess between coaches and the quality of the pieces they have to play with. Should the notion of club ethos die, then this can only be United's loss and City's gain. Take care and I'll catch you soon...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Looking Rough, Feeling Worse...

God bless the 'sacred cow' that is the NHS, eh? This bunny is still waiting for confirmation that his thyroid is about as much use as rocking horse shit, and just hopes they remembered to tick the appropriate box on the appropriate form this time. Given that this was the only test that was to be carried out, one would think the dice might be loaded in their favour - here's hoping that such optimism is not misplaced.

After much discussion recently of the question 'is it wrong to want to live on your own?' (and the forming of a recognised , legally protected minority for those of us who genuinely believe that it isn't), this song seemed strangely appropriate. What follows is not the single version that reached the dizzy heights of number 10 in 1987, but an unreleased demo that this bunny must say he greatly prefers.

Speaking of alternative versions, I've also attached a stripped down gem of a take on this bunny's favourite Smiths number - gotta love that Johnny Marr jangle, haven't you?

Nice to hear the inspired words of Morrissey from way back before he became a lifestyle fascist in his own, less socially acceptable way. Take care and I'll catch you soon...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Young Free and Ugly? Wish to Remain So? Join my Shiny New Minority...

In Saturday's Rabbit, this bunny got onto the subject of his wish to remain his own man (although it should be added that a queue is not exactly forming to provide a stern test of my credentials). Lifestyle choices are entirely personal things, and as long as they don't involve criminality, harming others or the requirement of enforced generosity from the taxpayer to fund them, then whether or not other people approve or disapprove at least ought to be utterly irrelevant.

That's this bunny's take on the situation anyway, but I've had more 'good advice' on this subject than one might ever be able to remember. Apparently, wanting to be on your own is a sign of serious mental illness, a common behavioural trait amongst sociopaths, or just plain wrong. Everyone, and I mean everyone, should take the 'Choose Life' mantra that accompanies the start of the film 'Trainspotting', and make it a blueprint for how to negotiate their existence. More to the point they who fail to extract these things from their time on earth are life's dismal failures. I mean, what's the point in them?.

I appreciate that being brave enough to make up your own mind necessitates the possession of equal courage to take the shit that will inevitably follow - it was not ever thus, and in his younger years this bunny lacked the confidence and certainty that are evident now. This is strange in itself, as most people believe themselves to know everything in their late teens, only to discover over time that like most of us, what saw as a fountain of knowledge is really just a hosepipe - in the midst of a hosepipe ban. Having acknowledged that no man has a monopoly on wisdom (although married men will explain to you that all women do), an instinctive liberal has to be prepared to take criticism, if one assumes all things to be equal.

But then all other things are not equal, and when being questioned about your way of life is as uncomfortable as it is for most, then this fact might potentially prick the ears. Something of which this bunny is frequently reminded (as if he needs informing of something he's already aware of) is that those of us who have no intention of 'settling down', getting married and raising a couple of hell-raisers are in an undisputed minority. This has always been presented to this bunny as a means by which to demonstrate that he is merely being difficult or contrary, and until recently, I'd simply seen such analyses as further evidence that the individuals concerned had the square root of no idea how this bunny's mind worked, nor any appreciation of the concept that 'one man's meat is another's poison'.

However, a more mischievous solution to this nagging concern has now surfaced.

Membership of an officially recognised minority can be quite a cosy existence if only one knows how to play the system. With the PC doctrine now accepted as the only basis on which discussion of an individual's faith, beliefs, values or lifestyle choices can be permitted, this discourse finds itself strangled to the point where the expression of a personal view that borders on being contentious becomes potentially criminal. Laws on 'inciting hatred' are there not only to protect poor, oppressed minorities who would otherwise be bludgeoned to death by critical words, but also serve as a marker for the rest of us, to carefully watch our words since we are being watched ourselves.

Being white, nominally Protestant and heterosexual, this bunny has not yet 'benefited' from the state-sponsored policing of thought, but if we can find a way of getting the voluntarily young, free and ugly recognised as an official minority group, then the logical argument will be that such as demographic will also require some form of legal protection. Criticism of any member of such a group will then be punishable by a spell in chokey, numerous awkward encounters with Bubba in the shower and extensive 're-education' from nanny. I've already come up with a word to define such blatant bigotry - how does 'lonaphobia' sound? We could have bags of fun campaigning against 'lonaphobia', while calling for our 'minority' to be better represented in parliament.

Anyone fancy a 'Pride' march to celebrate our diversity? This bunny's always game for a laugh.

In the meantime, until the next census comes around, this bunny and others who have made similar choices will have nine more years of needle to look forward to. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

We Don't Need a Referendum to Learn that the Tories are Plastic Eurosceptics

Sometimes what seems like a good idea at the time can come back and bite you rather hard on the arse. When Dave announced the launch of the e-petition site, it represented a concessionary crumb to what might loosely be termed 'people power'. In reality, the likelihood of government voting through something on request to which they would otherwise be opposed is slim to none, but there was at least the prospect of us little people getting our issues onto the political radar, breaking the monopoly previously held by the Westminster village in determining what 'counted', 'mattered' or was 'really important'. For that reason alone, this bunny sees the e-petitions initiative as an overwhelmingly good thing.

It's worth noting that 100,000 people have to sign an e-petition within an agreed time limit (usually 12 months) for the subject to qualify for debating time in the House of Commons. That's more difficult than one might believe at first, and means that only those issues on which a great many people genuinely care and are sufficiently motivated to sign up and spread the word will even come remotely close to making it. This bunny's favourite e-petition cause, that of None of the Above on ballot papers, is one that I've not encountered serious disagreement with when explaining its finer details, and enjoys plenty of support (certainly far more than the 166 people who've signed a petition for it).

The point is - it simply isn't an issue that evokes a decisive response from a large swathe of the population, which is what is ultimately required to secure those 100,000 signatures. The wish for a Referendum on EU membership is clearly in an altogether different ballpark, with polls suggesting that a clear majority want at least some renegotiation with regard to our terms of engagement with Brussels (an impractical and disingenuous third way thrown in by the Tories but more of that later). So perhaps the most unsettling aspect of the way this story has panned out is not Dave's attempts to terrify his charges into voting against their instincts, but this collective insistence on the part of the political class that "people don't really care about Europe". Weren't e-petitions meant to enable you and I to get across to politicians which issues we do and do not consider to be relevant? After all, it passed the threshold required to be taken seriously, so 'enough' people clearly do regard EU membership as a legitimate area of debate - deal with it.

Then there's the second curveball thrown in by the pro-EU parties in their attempt to muddy the waters. Apparently, with the Eurozone collapsing, Greece needing yet another bailout and the British taxpayer likely to once again be picking up a slice of the tab, this is 'not the right time' to be discussing whether or not the whole project is a gigantic waste of time and money that we should discard as a dismal failure and walk away from. The truth is that the federalist dream can go one of two ways as it stands - either the Greeks will be forced out of the single currency, re-adopt the drachma and begin to recover (potentially causing a domino effect amongst other struggling Eurozone nations), or the crisis will be used as the reasoning for the ever greater fiscal and political union that EU zealots always wanted.

In short, there is no better time to discuss whether we want in or out, for there will always be other shit happening in the world and the wait for a moment where nothing else is happening is likely to be a rather long one. So why is our political class resorting to these rather desperate stalling tactics?

That their real concern is of a referendum turning out the wrong result is hardly rocket science in itself, but it's clear that Dave has far more to lose from this than anyone. It was he who offered a referendum on the Lisbon treaty, only to renege on his word. Talk of repatriating powers back from Brussels, unworkable and dishonest as such a suggestion is, was his way of throwing a few bones to the 'Europhobic' wing of his party, but it really shows the Tories and their 'Euroscepticism' as the sham that it is. How many of their MPs are actually calling for British withdrawal from the EU as opposed to the current line of useless Tory nonsense that Dave has fed them? Remember 'in Europe, but not run by Europe?'.

One look at their record shows that the Conservative Party, whatever its rhetoric, has done more than anyone in modern hostory in sending Britain down the road of anti-democratic federalism. The Single European Act, Maastricht and the horror show of a decision to join the ERM were of course the significant moves in that direction, and when one examines the tide of 'ever closer union', the current has consistently flowed towards the same federalist endgame. Dave's biggest fear is having to stand before the masses during a referendum campaign, and for once say something that he really believes - namely that the EU and all that it does is wonderful and can expect his full, continued support.

Though he's probably wriggled out of it for now, this is a genie that he might regret ever letting out of the bottle - ach well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Be Your Own Man, Choose Your Own Goals

Many people will think this bunny to be rather sad for typing what follows while listening to Radio 2. I can say this with utter certainty since I know some of them personally and work with others. The fact that I don't sufficiently intimidate to stop them from saying as much to my face is something that on balance I should probably be quite pleased about, although history is choca with instances where those possessed of 'different' tastes became targets for control freaks, bullies, manipulators and suchlike. When you start to believe that someone's life and what motivates them is somehow 'wrong', then this can of course become the premise on which the many dish out considerable pain in the direction of the few.

A few years ago, I saw a counsellor who discovered that, to use her own words "Daz, a large part of the reason for your struggles in being accepted as part of a group is the fact that you aren't motivated by 'normal' things". Touche hun, and this bunny spent many years fighting a war on two fronts, against the nastiness, intolerance and lifestyle bigotry of folk unable to recognise that they owned their life and I had an equally monopolistic claim on mine, and a lack of self-confidence on this bunny's part in the fact that there is nothing wrong with being 'different', and that were we all 'normal' then the world would be a very, very fucking dull place. Sometimes, to my great shame, I've made concessions to (usually well-meaning, it should be said) individuals who piled on the pressure, and this bunny's moves towards appeasing them invariably failed, often ending in misery and a sense of regret.

Given that my heart was never fully committed to what I was doing, this is not exactly a surprise.

I don't want to 'settle down' into a relationship, marry someone, anyone and have a couple of kids, and nor do I believe that feeling this way represents some kind of hanging offence. It took me nearly three decades to say as much out loud, although with the benefit of hindsight it's probably balls-on accurate to suggest that such fears about a 'loss of sovereignty' were inherent in this bunny's DNA. I can remember three instances where I was possessed of 'feelings' towards members of the opposite sex and 'meant it' (ie, it went some way beyond 'I'd rattle the fuck out of that'). However, the sense of paralysis that automatically followed was something I've come over time to regard as a blanket, the coscious digesting the fact that these people represented a serious threat to this bunny's independence and sending out appropriate panic alarms.

Now I understand what was going on, my money is on 'feelings' of this nature never entering this bunny's heart or head at any point in the future. Good - they were never welcome in the first instance and I sincerely hope they fuck off, never to darken my door again. I sometimes wonder how many people, deep down, feel exactly the same way that I do, but fall into starting relationships and families that they never really wanted, pressured by well-meaning friends or relatives, intent on having their big day, living their own lives through their kids or simply seeking an excuse to buy a new pair of shoes? They had their whole lives to look forward to and all that - these people are victims of societal/peer pressure and those who regard one way of life as 'normal' and others, by definition, as 'wrong' or 'invalid'.

Another aspect of this is the way in which some choices define and drive others. I appreciate that for most people, the life of wife/husband, dog, lawnmower and 2.4 children represents at least part of what they want from life, and the best of luck to them since seeing people get what they want from their time here is always a rather uplifting experience for all who wish them well and are there to witness it. With this comes a different attitude towards aspects of career, earning money and suchlike, at least amongst those parents who give a flying fuck about their offspring - the role of provider often necessitates the taking of shit that one might not otherwise put up with.

In short, this choice (and I appreciate some are just unlucky in this regard) is a simple trade-off, between a potentially fulfilling relationship and the joys of raising a family, and the ability to travel at one's own pace, act in strict accordance with personal goals and say 'fuck you' from time to time. Of course, we don't all dream the same dream, or want the same thing, and while there may be an answer to this riddle that is most 'normal' by virtue of majority decision, the notion of right or wrong does not enter the equation. By such thinking, trailer trash raising seven kids on a hefty welfare cheque would be 'doing the right thing', while this bunny and others who pay tax positive and subsidise these choices are the black sheep or dregs of society. Statism and authoritarianism produce inevitable, perverse and unintended consequences, and this is equally applicable to the area of lifestyle choices as it is anywhere else.

This bunny very much doubts that some change of heart will take place anytime soon, and as a result his 'normal' or 'real world' will vary wildly from those of many, probably most people. Then again, someone raised in leafy splendour having been born into privilege will experience an altogether different 'real world' of their own, and probably encounter various forms of prejudice and inverted snobbery as they come into contact with people whose 'normal' cannot relate to theirs (the same could be said of travellers, gay people, whatever). Perhaps the only two questions that really matter are - does their way of life involve criminality or causing harm to others, and are they asking you or me to pay for it? If the response to both is negative, then it's really none of anyone else's business which choices of lifestyle suit them.

The only person we're any good at being is ourselves, and it's usually a smart move in the long run to follow our own path. This bunny is by no means a massive Beatles fan but the video attached somehow seems relevant to this post. Take care and I'll catch you tomorrow.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Something for the Weekend

Of course, two bits of massive news in the world of music this week - first up, the break-up of Westlife, possibly the greatest boy band of all time (snigger).

This bunny was most amused by the announcement that the split was 'amicable', having hoped to hear that 'artistic differences' had been claimed to exist within an act who specialised in glorified karaoke and would no doubt have done well in, and been well suited to, the holiday camp/cabaret circuit. Hearing one of them say, "you sold out man - it used to be about the music" would have been utterly priceless, but then again, after more than a decade together, aren't they just a tad past the age for selling records to kids?

Having a sister who is eleven and a half years younger than myself enabled them to provide me with a moment that was truly cringeworthy. Being tasked with buying her their 'best of' for Christmas, followed by this bunny's rather unwise decision to walk into his 'regular' record shop to pick it up prompted much ridicule from the seriously hip fella behind the counter who'd played a significant cameo in my collection of New Order's back catalogue. Mind you, when talking about the festive period, many get around their indifference by saying "ach well, as long as the kids enjoy it eh?"...

The announcement of a Stone Roses reunion and tour leaves this bunny with rather mixed feelings. They were a truly pioneering band in what was probably the last era where innovation and authenticity were able to break into the mainstream. The Brown/Squire combination was pretty much the equal of that between Morrissey and Johnny Marr, leaving the group headed by the latter pair as perhaps the last one yet to reform that we would actually like to do so (when Spandau Ballet can get back together in the meantime, you can't help but think that the man upstairs has a rather cruel sense of humour).

My worry is that after the understandable joy of those who remember them for the great songs, Brown's natural talent as a frontman and the indie/dance fusion that accompanied his mystic delivery, the gigs themselves will serve as a reminder that sometimes it's better to remember what you had than attempt to recapture past glories. It may be possible to pretend that it's 1989 all over again, but then you'll always know that we're two decades on and popular music has turned to ratshit in the time that has passed. For the sake of those who are making their way to Manchester for what should be an emotional gig, this bunny sincerely hopes that such concerns are unfounded.

I'll leave you with one of the Roses' finest works 'I Wanna be Adored' and Neil Hannan's inspiration for the title of this post. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

No I Won't Celebrate Gadaffi's Death - Bring on Armed Neutrality

It is of course possible that the star of videos that are readily available online is a double, that Colonel Gadaffi is alive and well having fled Libya several weeks ago and everyone involved has essentially got what they wanted. However, for the sake of conversation, we'll make the (often unwise) decision to take this 'breaking news' at face value.

The natural comparison is with the hanging of Saddam Hussein in December 2006. As with today's developments, there were three notable and striking aspects - first up, this is one of those few occasions on which people are permitted, in fact they're positively encouraged, to celebrate the death of another human being. Regardless of the evil that has been perpetrated by someone, anyone, this bunny has never found that particularly easy - with sympathy not exactly on the radar, a sort of emptiness takes over on occasions like this. Joining the ranks of the lynch mob is a function carried out with much greater enthusiasm by some than others and having members of the government egging people on in this regard appears to be in desperately poor taste.

Like Saddam, Colonel Gadaffi reigned by terror, oppressed and brutalised his enemies (whether real or imagined) and in short, was a horrible, wicked bastard. Some like to reel off the crime-sheet as their principle means of implementing regime change, as if 1) we didn't already know about the police state, censorship and casual disregard for the rights of individuals, 2) their case is somehow unique or at least worse than any other such abuse taking place at the time and 3) we have never done a deal with this particular devil, remaining ethically consistent in our opposition to this regime over a prolonged period of time.

None of these were true of Hussein, a tired old tyrant on his last legs, no longer a man of menace or ambition (that's why we went after him, right?) and such an analysis would fall down in equal measure were it applied to Gadaffi. Meanwhile, the Americans should have known how well armed (or otherwise) the Iraqi regime was since they supplied most of the weapons - as for our 'business' in Libya, this video says pretty much anything. Perhaps this really is the most shameful moment of the Blair years, a subject this bunny will gladly put to some sort of poll.
 

Considering his hot and cold relationship with the truth, love of the super-rich but slightly dodgy, and famously supercilious grin, the 'pretty straight kinda guy' no doubt felt seriously comfortable in such company. A penny for his thoughts right now may represent money seriously well spent.

The second observation worth making is how news of the man's death has immediately been siezed upon as an opportunity for Libya to 'move forward', whatever that means. Apparently, the death of a deposed dictator will result in a peaceful, prosperous democracy spontaneously flowering up, people will hold hands and dance in meadows amid scenes of blossoming flowers and rabbits hurtling around in freedom - please, please do me a favour. One of the more interesting elements of the recent civil war was how the tide was partially turned by the return of Jihadist guerillas from Afghanistan - this bunny did wonder how and why the pendulum swung overnight after the rebels looked set to be counted out earlier in the year. Having helped to remove the old regime, they're going to be looking for a slice of the pie themselves, and are already making noises to that effect after seizing weapons from the old regime. Last time I checked, the spirit of liberal democracy did not run freely through the veins of such people.

Without an obvious figure to replace the deposed, a vacuum emerges in which the most well-organised, ruthless and usually the most extreme can thrive. Should a full-scale civil war kick off at some point in the near future and the 'wrong' side emerge victorious, then we will come to see British and American meddling abroad in an altogether less positive light. Will anyone learn? Well, if Iraq didn't serve as a shock to the system, to at least sit out the next potential foreign adventure, then this bunny is not holding out much hope. Even the reality of spending cuts at the MoD does not appear to have jolted our political class and their inbuilt tendency to poke their noses in other people's business.

This brings us neatly onto the third and final point. Displaying an admittedly evil man (mind you he was our evil man when it suited) fighting for his life and reporting his failure to do so serves as an advertisement of this 'pro-active' foreign policy. To the doubters at home, the death of someone you could not defend serves as the 'one useful thing' that came out of the conflict - in their attempt to re-write history, Blair and his dossier-doctors did this with Saddam and now seek to repeat the trick with Gaddafi. For the wider world, and those who might be on the wrong side of the 'special relationship' as it stands, there is a clear message not to mess with people who will always, eventually, get their man.

Armed neutrality can never be an absolute position, for the logical conclusion of such a move would have been to cut a deal with the likes of Hitler, but as a starting point, it's a damn sight better than the war-mongering chaos we have. Rather than attempting to police the world, it would surely be wise to understand that freedom is not something that another can give to you, but the precious result of struggle and sacrifice - no revolution in history has been without the cost of human lives. This bunny supports all those who are fighting tyranny and oppression across the globe in their pursuit of freedom, but the struggle to rebuild their nations in a more desirable image for themselves is theirs, not ours, and the passing of a despot dinosaur does not alter that fact. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Blood, Sweat and Thyroids - the NHS Experience

One of the frequent criticisms levelled at this bunny and Libertarians as a whole is that we tend to see life rigidly through the lens of State = Bad and Private = Good. Of course the killer issue is whether your experiences drive your beliefs or the possession of certain prejudices alters the way in which one interprets the events of their everyday existence. This bunny has occupied environments where welfare has taken people's sense of independence away from them while providing a sort of cotton-walled prison, seen the way in which Statism as a way of life causes all manner of problems for others and can link every aspect of instinctive liberalism (the notion that you own your life and everyone else owns theirs) to a personal narrative which I've shared snippets of with you. and may elaborate on further at a later date.

Taxpayer-funded organisations have what could be charitably described as a very mixed record. Some state schools and hospitals perform well, while too many turn out illiterate teenagers or subject patients to MRSA-infested wards, leaving them in worse health upon leaving hospital than when they went in. The full spectrum of success and failure can be easily experienced by a lifetime of 'shopping' in the State sector. Some of this bunny's teachers possessed stratospheres more competence than others, the same could be said of doctors, with the helpful and diligent, in it for the right reasons, doing their utmost while a significant minority clearly regard the patient as nothing more than a statistic. The medical professionals' side of the negotiation on GP's salaries clearly played a much more aggressive form of hardball than the government - one of the inherent weaknesses of the State is its chronic inability to drive a firm bargain with regard to the spending of taxpayers' money.

Of course it may turn out that this bunny suffers from nothing more serious than acute hypochondria and some serious lifestyle issues, but I'm convinced that my thyroid is, to use a technical term, fucked. The ongoing bouts of tiredness regardless of whether I get six or ten hours of sleep, fluctuations in weight, mood swings, habitual melancholia, and one of the telltale signs of Hypothyroidism, a yellowing of the skin round the fingertips. This bunny was in the curious position of hoping a blood test would confirm the hunch, since seven years of aches, pains, bloating and fatigue regardless of choices on diet/drinking/smoking etc. take their toll both physically and mentally while causing something of a 'couldn't care less' attitude towards looking after oneself. The fact that I had to work this out alone after years on pump inhibitors to deal with the acid reflux that caused one in every three meals to come straight back up is something we can forget for now - that said I'm stunned that in all this time none of the several medical professionals I'd spoken to considered a thyroid issue amongst the possibles.

Last week this bunny took a morning off work to undergo a 'fasting blood test' - that means no food or liquids besides tap water from midnight the previous day and is more uncomfortable than one might think at first. Following up the results in the last few days, I was delighted to hear that I'd come up negative for diabetes, anaemia, liver poisoning (I should admit this was actually a surprise), hepatitis, the plague and a multitude of other disorders that might explain some of the aforementioned symptoms. The thyroid test, that which I'd originally asked for, was pending, and remained so until this morning. Ultimately, I discovered that the laboratory had never tested my blood sample for Hypothyroidism, since somewhere in the chain, the appropriate box on an appropriate form had gone unticked. This is hardly a hanging offence and is the kind of shit that happens.

One Saturday morning many years ago, I heard my father ranting on the telephone to a clothes shop after they had made a simple mistake of supplying something in the wrong size. Hearing his hysterical, insane demands for the poor girl behind the counter to be not simply sacked, but tied to a chair and tortured over several weeks (on reflection I may be exaggerating) made this bunny resolve not to 'lose it' with people in the same fashion. Not for the first or last time, his instinctively Statist attempts to be 'the boss' had instead made him look like a first class arsehole, and rather than stick around to endure the seven hour monologue about how right he was that would inevitably follow, I took a diplomatic decision to retire to a quiet watering hole. Alcohol and its unique gift for erasing painful memories is a close friend of this bunny - if I'm honest we're probably far more intimate than is healthy or sensible.

Anyway, the point is:- we will all screw up while doing our best at work and would only hope that the demonstrable honesty of those endeavours would buy us a bit of latitude in terms of the way the situation is judged and dealt with. As someone who has made my share of mistakes and probably yours in addition, this bunny tries to put himself in the position of the individual making an honest error and act accordingly - so I'm not mad at anyone on a personal level and once the initial frustration had died down, what's done is done. To their credit, they sorted out a second blood test within a matter of two hours, my (top notch, it should be said) line manager understood the situation, permitted a short-term disappearing act, and my sample was on its way to the microscope squad by mid-afternoon.

They've even labelled the blood 'urgent', which at least means it won't be shunted to the back of any would-be queue, and we may know the result for certain by Friday. Ok, the whole process has taken longer than it should ever have done, but in isolation that is not what gets this bunny's goat. The real issue was that of powerlessness, that should the same chain of events unfold next time then there will be the square root of sod all that can be done about it. Apparently, medication for Hypothyroidism is free on the NHS, for which I should presumably be grateful - however, if this creates a culture in which the patient is taught to accept sub-standard service and swiftly run along, then I'd rather pay something, anything, and in the meantime I'll donate the value of a prescription charge to charity.

The ultimate form of accountability comes not with raising complaints, filling in forms or playing postal pinball with one quango or another, but by taking one's hard-earned elsewhere. This is why ultimately, despite the many experiences, both good and bad, in the State sector, this bunny will always approach its monoliths and bureaucracies with an instinctive sense of suspicion. Many thanks to all the caring and capable people who've helped this bunny out in the last week or so - I genuinely appreciate their efforts, it's just the 'sacred cow' for whom they work that represents the problem. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Ten Years On and it's the Game I Keep Coming Back To - Championship Manager 01/02

Some of our contributors and readers are not overly keen on football and hey, there's no accounting for personal taste. Many are put off by the faceless corporatism of the Premier League, as the cult movement of fans returning to grass roots football demonstrates. Too many top players, who are supposed to be athletes at their peak, roll round on the floor and pass off the general demeanour of having been shot when an opponent makes but the slightest contact with them. This bunny can appreciate the thought process of anyone who concludes that the modern game is one of tarts and prima donnas. while of course the game itself will always leave more than a few people distinctly sub-zero.

Of course, I like and follow football, although in recent years it has come a close second to boxing in terms of this bunny's favourite sport. Covering domestic and European fights from ringside, attending weigh-ins and coming face to face with fighters and pugilistic culture provided both a rush and the sense of having really learned something. Boxers do not have things all their own way, have to live something of a spartan life simply to compete and beneath the glamour and high stakes of world title fights that the casual fan sees on television, taking punches is a means of surviving and making money for the the majority of those who turn professional. This bunny admires and respects those who climb through the ropes, giving everything and putting their long-term health on the line, sometimes just to get by.

Without boxing's journeymen, future stars would not have those 'learning fights' on the way up, where mistakes could be made in an environment where the consequences were less than fatal, then rapidly learned from. Guys like Peter Buckley and Matt Scriven are respected by other fighters for a very good reason - when your way of life depends upon being able to fight regularly, a stoppage and some sort of enforced time-out on medical grounds becomes wholly undesirable. Therefore, the development of survival instincts, sound defence and a particularly cagey sort of ringcraft is a fundamental aspect of taking vastly superior, perhaps well-touted opposition to the scorecards and remaining as active as possible. 'Professor' Buckley may have been several leagues below the man who shared his moniker, Azumah Nelson, but was every bit as worthy of the name in his own unique way.

Anyway, back to football - while this bunny can take or leave the FIFA/ISS type simulations that have accounted for countless cases of RSI and child obesity, the team management game of tactics, buying and selling players, training, that sort of thing, has always attracted my attention. Some are fun while they last but ultimately lose their appeal, others are deeply unrealistic and like any other type of simulation, there will always be dug-out gaming experiences that make you resent ever installing the bloody thing. Many believe the Championship/Football Manager series of games to be the most consistent series within the genre, making use of a simple format that has developed over the years into the more complex Football Manager simulations, challenges of their own in an altogether different way (I'll come back to these games later).

I was playing Championship Manager 1994 a few weeks ago, and what struck me was how unambitious it was from a graphics and gameplay point of view even for its time. Matches contained no 'action' as such, merely a text box that appeared at various points over the 90 seconds (less if you hold the space bar) to describe a shot at goal, injury, substitution, booking or sending off. Winning was simple once you got your head round certain things, like appointing quality scouts and having them find future Premier League players at rock bottom prices. 'Influence', which is ChampMan speak for leadership qualities, was a must-have commodity for about half your team. A few old-stagers with this penchant for taking charge on the field can facilitate a fairly uncomplicated promotion, then transfer listing and insuring the player come the end of the season would mean instant retirement, a free space in the (maximum 26 players) squad, while recouping the original (and pretty modest) sum paid for the player - simply repeat to fade.

Even in 2011, it remains compelling - the familiar routine of taking an unfashionable side from fourth tier to Premier league in successive seasons, then into Europe may appear to be a tiring one, but I suppose this is what marks out a good management simulation from much of the trash that has gone by the name. When you rate the game itself, being good at it becomes that bit more important, and any sense of achievement brought about by 'unrealistic' success that bit more real. Having given them a good go, one of the issues this bunny has with the Football Manager series - if playing an entire season in a couple of hours is too instant, then a game that feels like realtime is nowhere near instant enough, and if the unrealistic was somewhat too easy on those early versions of ChampMan (particularly with brilliant no-wingers formations), then keeping the art of the possible within very narrow confines just takes the fun out of it. I appreciate that I couldn't actually manage a professional soccer team, but the last thing I want is a gaming experience that constantly reminds me of this fact!!


There has to be a happy medium somewhere, and two legendary ChampMan incarnations come closest to it. 1997/98 saw the expansion of the game, with several new European Leagues available to try one's luck and at first fail dismally in. It is more than possible to screw your team up and make their fortunes a whole lot worse if you really don't know what you're doing. Midfield balance is a whole lot more important than on any simulation that had pre-dated it - too many attacking, creative players can leave your team something of a soft touch without the ball, while the tempting option of overloading the centre of the park with grafters can bring something of a goal famine. Over-achievement is possible, but takes times and tends to be of the modest variety to start with. There is of course a lower-league team of free transfers who will always get you to a certain level, but beyond that an eye for a bargain (and a regen or two) becomes a necessity. Cm9798 was also the first management simulation to immortalise players who were pretty average in real life - sign Tommy Svindel Larsen, for instance, and you're in business.

This bunny has lost days that could have been spent doing altogether more useful things, long after 97/98 had even a tenuous connection to the football taking place at the time. However, good as it undeniably was and remains, the work of utter genius that is Championship Manager 01/02 knocks it narrowly but clearly enough into second place in the rankings of greatest ever management simulation. The detail of tactical analysis here is spot on - sufficient enough to weed out those who simply cannot cut it, while not complicating things to the extent that even a qualified coach would struggle (as I suspect is the case with Football Manager). Hiring and firing your backroom team - coaches, scouts and physios. Unearthing rough diamonds for nothing from Scandinavia, overseeing the development of players into saleable assets or key components in a machine that storms through the divisions.

As with Cm9798, the unthinkable becomes likely only for the seriously good player who understands the nuances of the game. I appreciate that simulations rely on a match engine that can be worked out if one studies it closely. Having a team that is compact (high defensive line and deep centre forwards), narrow and finds players frequently 'between the lines' can consistently outperform the AI of the computer opponent if sufficient cohesion amongst players knowing their roles exists. Managing Shelbourne to victory in the UEFA Cup or taking Rochdale to Premier League glory in four seasons may be highly unrealistic and probably owed a great deal to luck, but then I've visited a few Cm0102 tribute sites in the last week or so and achievements of this nature in a rapid timescale are quite rare. 'Sussing' something to such an extent may not make you a bona fide football manager, but contrary to what some might believe, the greatest management game of all time was not necessarily a simple one. The distinct possibility of abject failure was a large part of its attraction.

My Scarborough side has just won the Conference in the first season, and this bunny is looking forward to 2002/03, as we take on the powerhouses of the English Third Division. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Protests Against Something - Answers on a Postcard

This bunny would defend to the death the right of individuals to peacefully protest in the name of a cause that he profoundly disagreed with. The line from the authorities that such mass gatherings automatically represent a 'breach of the peace' stinks to high heaven, even from some distance away, and appear to serve as an excuse for the police to apply heavy-handed tactics, antagonise the crowd and in fact spark the kind of violence that they had warned against in the first instance. No apologist for the rozzers or their dubious methods here.

Sparked by the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement and a group referred to as 'the Indignants' in Spain, something falling under the umbrella of 'anti-capitalist demonstration' went worldwide over the weekend, attracting support in London, across mainland Europe and on the other side of the world in places like Hong Kong and Sydney. Placards and slogans, talk of the 'many and not the few', Che Guevara T-shirts and one or two guys and dolls fancying themselves as the new Bob Dylan - not exactly this bunny's idea of a day out, but then most of those involved appeared to enjoy themselves while causing no harm to others. Of course, there will always be a level of disorder at a gig like this, much of it the product of dickheads seeing any protest as an excuse to turn reckless or violent. Not all of this is a direct response to 'kettling' and the Simon Harwood's of this world, and it would be naive in the extreme to suggest otherwise.

More than anything, I found this demonstration to be a confused one, and highly confusing as a result. What exactly are these people protesting against? Is it capitalism per se, or just the corporatist greed of a fortunate few whom governments have actively protected from the consequences of failure? Were they focussed solely on the latter, then while the movement would lose some of its political edge, a wider level of public sympathy, agreement and even participation would probably emerge. Without speaking to a large number of those involved one can never be certain, but the appearance one gets is that the failings of gangster capitalism, cronyism and corporatism have been capitalised upon (sorry!!) to launch a Soviet/Castro style ideological war on the very notion of capitalism itself.

Apparently, the mess we are in at the moment 'is where free markets invariably get you'. The fact that our economy does not run on such a model and is in fact ten parts Statist, ten parts gangster capitalist either goes over the heads of Trots and pseudo-Marxists or is rendered an intellectual inconvenience to be swept under the carpet. Yes, the bank bailout was a disgrace and individuals chasing the rewards of success should be susceptible to the risks that come with failure - that's how capitalism in its purest form actually works. Using taxpayers' hard-earned the confiscated to bail out corporations who got greedy is about as far away from pure capitalist thinking as one can get - were this explained to some of those who turned up yesterday then it might provoke an epic bout of head-scratching from some of them.

Two of their slogans really stood out for this bunny. The first appeared in Stockholm (hardly the home of capitalism as it is, but there you go) and read 'I am one of the 99%', presumably a reference to the remaining 1% in possession of 'a disproportionate share of the wealth'. As placards go, it's quite powerful stuff, likely to take in many who do not question exactly what it means. Far from wealthy people who wake at some anti-social hour to sell fruit and veg on a market stall, and those remaining milkmen and publicans are of course a part of that 99% as well. Most people starting a small business do serious shifts for an hourly rate that ultimately comes in at less than the minimum wage. They're hammered by taxes and regulation by the State that renders market entry increasingly difficult, and strengthens the hold of large corporate entities who can absorb the blow or creatively account their way out of any problems.

Capitalism has been attacked and interfered with by successive governments as it is, and this has caused far more harm to the 99% than it ever will to the privileged few. The changing character of our high streets, with what used to be independent shops boarded up as the multinationals bulldoze them, is testament to this fact.

Perhaps even more baffling is the call for 'real democracy', as if the creation of a socialist utopia is the only means by which the rights of 'little people' can be protected. Anyone who studies history for more than about five seconds understands that in those countries where private enterprise was marginalised or squashed, keeping it down was only enabled by the State very deliberately encroaching into personal freedom. The pursuit of higher living standards for an individual and those he cares for becomes strictly forbidden in any environment where such thinking is automatically dismissed as 'greed' - and once one establishes that certain thoughts are 'bad', then the policing of that thought by the State is entirely justified.

You never heard of pro-capitalist demonstrations in the former Soviet Union or Castro's Cuba, precisely because the policing of 'greed' appears to necessitate tyranny, oppression and the imprisonment of those who disagree with the party line (of course the celebrations that followed the collapse of the Berlin Wall dispelled the myth that those under Communist rule lived in a permanent state of bliss). Yes, these protesters want 'democracy', but only for themselves and those who broadly agree with them - were their vision of the perfect society ever to be implemented, this bunny suspects that most of this site's contributors would be censored, then classed as dissidents and slung in jail or some kind of forced labour camp. Those who spoke out in public would no doubt have to come in for the 'Tiananmen Square' treatment - it's an inevitable consequence of Marxism and authoritarian, collective thinking. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Friday, 14 October 2011

None of the Above e-petition

As I mentioned this issue in Thursday's Rabbit, here is an existing e-petition calling for the 'None of the Above' option to be added to ballot papers. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Cutie Cast a Shadow

There's people I have known
I'd easily have thrown
I didn't, they were simple to forget
While others in my life
were so distantly liked
this Capricorn wished we had never met

Cutie cast a shadow
and not before time now I know
that it doesn't pay to get down off that fence
Cutie cast a shadow
and not before time now I know
that those stupid Greeks, it seems, were talkin' sense

Your ridicule has roots
my god awful shellsuits
but please forgive these choices of attire
You ought not be taught
the lines you've already bought
It just massacres you, destroys your desire

Cutie cast a shadow
and not before time now I know
that it doesn't pay to get down off that fence
Cutie cast a shadow
and not before time now I know
that those stupid Greeks, it seems, were talkin' sense

You're told to assert
just make sure you don't get hurt
then jump the queue and find you're asked to wait
Life with the other sex
leaves you feelin' hexed
It tears your trust up, freeloads on your faith

Cutie cast a shadow
and not before time now I know
that it doesn't pay to get down off that fence
Cutie cast a shadow
and not before time now I know
that those stupid Greeks, it seems, were talkin' sense

Guess these days I know the score
can't be bothered anymore
Ciao, sayonara
Ciao, sayonara

Doubt I'll feel this way again
bite my hand and count to ten
Stroke my tiara
Stroke my tiara

Thursday, 13 October 2011

16 Year Olds Should Have the Right to Vote - and Just as Importantly, the Right Not To

The subject of lowering the voting age occasionally comes up under the conversational umbrella of "how do we get the general public engaged with the political process again?". As a stream of thought this is fairly simple to shoot down, largely on the basis that it rather resembles a parent suggesting that they should forget their first-born and focus on his younger siblings - oh if only we could start over with a blank piece of paper, then there's no way that we'd make those mistakes again. How the political class define those mistakes is one of those things that either amuses or irritates this bunny, depending on his general mood.

To the Westminster set, low electoral turnout is at best a result of their 'letting us slip away from them', as if a significant swathe of the Uk's general populace has completely forgotten that a 'democratic' system exists, thinking an election is something a man might get while reading a filthy magazine. The alternative explanation, one that Statists are especially fond of, is that those who fail to participate do so out of their own stupidity. They are too dumb to understand its significance, while appreciating the efforts of the political class and therefore expressing their gratitude at the ballot box is just 'beyond them'.

In reality, the old maxim that 'whoever wins, the government gets in' might never have applied more in our history than it does now. 21st century Britain is very much a one-party dictatorship in all but name, where the candidates capable of winning wear different coloured rosettes, but the principles (if any) that guide them can be separated by a cigarette paper. The Statist sentiment of steal and squander reigns supreme, transcends supposed 'political divides' and in reality is the only option. With the closed shop of First Past the Post rendering market entry for outsiders virtually impossible, the battle has long ceased to be one of ideas and become a nationwide version of 'the Apprentice', where three teams of 'managers' compete to be the least worst.

Hardly inspiring stuff, and falling voter turnout owes more to this dishwater, faceless corporation politics than it ever will to some perceived collective fault on the part of the electorate. In 2005, a mere 59% of those registered to vote bothered to turn up (and some of us, this bunny included, try to avoid registering ourselves if we can). That this increased to 65% last time out owed something to the mainstream media's constant message that 'this time, there really is a difference between the two main parties'. The walking disaster that was Gordon Brown, a charlatan to the core, helped to create that impression by announcing pre-election giveaways that he knew could not be afforded. Dave did not pledge a clean swing of the axe to the taxpayer gravy train and has kept his word, despite the attempts of some to convince us otherwise.

In terms of the course that the government would follow after May 2010, there was no real difference. Supposed ideological distinctions were simply wild exaggerations of minute details, and our rotten political class have a great deal to thank a subservient media for in terms of prolonging their existence. While more than a third of us saw this 'contest' for the sham it was, the prospect of a close result (and a hung parliament as it turned out) at least galvanised sufficient numbers amongst 'core supporters' to boost the turnout.

Given the way in which political parties invariably betray these loyal people, I'm amazed that such groups still exist. How can anyone be so convinced of one team's innate superiority when they are demonstrably the same as both of the others? Perhaps habitual Labour and Tory voters await the day that their party starts believing in something again? You might be there a while, mate!! Not voting does not disqualify one from having an interest in politics (this bunny did not bother in 2005 and 'forgot' to register in 2010, but votes UKIP in Euro elections) - that's another little Statist lie, designed to manipulate some form of validation out of the apolitical, apathetic and legitimately hacked off.

All of this is relevant to the Vote16 conversation, since one of the rather silly arguments against extending the franchise is the low turnout in the 18-24 category (as few as 37% bothered to vote in that nadir of 2005). This of course is working on a deeply flawed and dangerous premise, namely that voting is good and therefore failing to do so is somehow bad. That black X next to a candidate's name is a stamp of approval to both the 'democratic' process itself and whoever that individual has chosen to vote for. If they feel that no candidate is worthy of such approval, are genuinely apolitical or would rather have an open dictatorship than a tacit one, then the political class can lump it - or alternatively, stop lying, stealing, fiddling their expenses and actually give someone, somewhere a reason to place that faith in them.

The right not to vote is a crucial one in any democracy - that's why this bunny supports 'None of the Above' boxes on ballot papers (who fancies an e-petition by the way?) and would campaign hard against any attempt to introduce compulsory voting. Validating the process and one of its candidates is a choice, an act which the individual should be free to abstain from if they so wish. Once you take that freedom away and potentially imprison those who refuse to play ball, then no choice exists in reality - the power no longer resides with the ordinary citizen (even for that one day every five years) and any pretence of a truly representative system is dead.

In short, there is nothing wrong whatsoever with making a conscious decision not to vote.

One of the few enjoyable experiences this bunny can recall from his days at school was reading Harper Lee's 'to Kill a Mockingbird'. A key theme of this book is the way in which young people are less inclined to be blinded by prejudice or tribal loyalty than adults. They are not as likely to buy into received conventional wisdom, most have a naturally inquisitive temperament and have not yet had their spirits crushed by a life that teaches one to 'accept things as they are'. Not all aspects of what some would refer to as 'growing up' are overwhelmingly positive.

If a smaller proportion of 18-24 year olds vote than is the case with any other age group, then it stands to reason that even fewer at age sixteen will do the same. Like the children of Atticus Finch, most have not been taken in by membership of a faction or group, and see only what they regard as truth in front of them. If three-quarters of those aged 16-17 choose not to cast (or, god willing, go NOTA) then many will do so having concluded that none of the candidates were worth voting for. Let's face it, these people would be wise and sensible to reach such a conclusion, far more than many who actually vote out of loyalty to one tribe or an inbuilt hatred of another. This might drag the overall turnout down towards 50%, which would be something of a disaster for the political class - far from being a reason not to extend the franchise, surely this is a central plank of any serious case to do just that?

Of course, there are four very simple words with which anyone can win this argument - No Taxation Without Representation, since there is another word that accurately describes a situation where the former exists but the latter is absent - that word is Slavery. If one is old enough to work and contribute to the upkeep of older citizens who choose not to, then this bunny fails to see a single reason why the kept man should have a say in the makeup of the next government, while the taxpayer funding his idleness is deprived that right. At sixteen, an individual can join the army and be sent into an overseas engagement which they do not support. (in the last decade, this scenario could hardly be dismissed as a hypothetical, yeah?).

A warmongering government can regard this young man as cannon fodder and sentence him to death, but he remains constitutionally powerless to elect an alternative who might withdraw him from that danger. 'Fairness' is a word to which the dud mainstream parties all attempt to lay claim, yet this manifestly unfair situation would appear to be off the radar for all of them. In something of a vicious circle, the fact that sixteen and seventeen year olds cannot vote means that they are simply not taken seriously by politicians - this of course feeds the wishes of the dud parties to keep them disenfranchised despite obvious reasons why such a situation is unjust. This bunny cares neither whether they vote nor how 'well-informed' that vote is, merely for the rights of people old enough to contibute to, and die for our society. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Food For Thought

Now this particular inhabitant of the burrow is not usually one to bang on about politics (namely because my interest equals my knowledge), however as an enthusiastic sinophile this particular subject really irks me. How many times have you been sitting there watching the news or listening to radio 4 and you have to endure some moronic cabinet minister witter on about the under representation of women, people educated at state schools, Muslims, Afro-Caribbeans, etc in parliament. I know, its boring and its patronising. But arguably it is a fair point, the argument that the composition of a parliament should mirror the make up of the nation which it represents. However never once have I heard Cameron or anyone in British politics mention just how under represented Britain's Chinese community is in the UK Parliament. With almost half a million people of Chinese origin living here, abiding by our laws, working here and paying taxes here, surely, if one were pursuing Cameron's A-list logic, they are entitled to some parliamentary representation too. Or maybe that's the problem, the fact that Britain's Chinese community is perhaps the most law abiding ethnic group in the UK and embodies the very concept of the 'protestant work ethic'. They make no complaints of racism, have no chip on their shoulder regarding slavery or European imperialism and are quite happy to just live here, work hard and make money. So there is no need for Cameron to have to be seen 'reaching out to them', as he likes to be seen doing with so many other minority groups in the UK.

So the next time you hear some unelectable Communities Cohesion Minister or brain dead Minister for Diversity harp on about under representation of one group or another in parliament, just ask yourself, are uneducated people represented in parliament? Or if parliaments composition were to mirror the electoates composition as accurately as Cameron wants it to, shouldn't there be a larger amount of 'unintelligent' people in parliament? Its just a thought...........

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

I Thought Fox-Hunting was Illegal?

When the Liam Fox-Adam Werritty story first broke, this bunny was of the view that it was highly surreal and undeniably warranted Fox's departure, but would ultimately amount to little more than childish tittle-tattle. As for the numerous and various rumours about the Secretary of State's sex life, who cares?

Then further details began to emerge and this opinion was slowly revised - is it about sex, money or both? Has Werritty got something on Fox and why did the minister claim to be alone when his house got turned over last year? (this is now acknowledged to have been an untruth as a male friend was staying with him at the time). Why has the nature of Werritty's business interests conveniently overlapped Dr Fox's changing ministerial portfolio, from shadow health secretary to the defence brief? What the hell was he doing following a a former landlord and member of the government to Sri Lanka, handing out business cards as a supposed 'advisor' and staying in general decadence? (no, that isn't a euphemism by the way).

We could go on, but something, somewhere, is clearly less than kosher.

Anyway, probably the best thing someone in Fox's position can say (besides the words 'I resign') is nothing - I dunno if it was Dave's idea to wheel out notorious half-wit Chris Grayling for a televised defence of the beleaguered Defence Secretary, but given the lack of love lost between the PM and Foxy, it would make an awful lot of sense. That Grayling gets an absolute pasting from a BBC journalist and a Labour junior minister serves to illustrate painful limitations that should already have become clear to anyone who's seen him on television before.


A Libertarian government would of course make the utterly pointless department of Work and Pensions one of the first to be abolished. What you've just seen is a ringing endorsement of such a policy, and Fox, who could simply have gone quietly and at least managed the damage done to his career, must be wishing that the gormless Grayling hadn't driven a further nail into his coffin on live television, whether the attempt to help was sincere or otherwise. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Will keep this brief - the Football's on...

Someone has kindly pointed me in the direction of a certain Panorama programme regarding the BNP. The subject of the European Union must be a difficult one for Griffin and his gang of thugs to ponder, since while the (accidentally correct) party line of withdrawing from the EU panders nicely to their innate xenophobia, being a part of the club sure enhances the scope for corruption. This bunny rarely plugs something from Stasi television, but there you go - an apparent hatred of all things Brussels and Strasbourg has not stopped Nazi Nick from dipping his greasy little mitts into the till and boarding the gravy train himself.

The accepted conventional wisdom of course is that not everyone who votes BNP is racist - a great many are, but then this bunny has no problem acknowledging that some might simply be morons, or individuals possessing a peculiar and misguided notion of what constitutes a protest vote. The New Labour era (which of course is still ongoing in all but name) created a roll of shame for itself that was akin to 'War and Peace', but one that slips under the radar is this:- the constant demonization of Griffin and his party by the political mainstream raised their profile like no amount of their own hateful literature could ever have done.

Telling a pissed off electorate "whatever you do, don't vote for the BNP" has the natural ring of Peter Rabbit and Mr McGregor's garden to it - and it was on their watch that these toytown fascists, marginalised and isolated for a generation, achieved their best ever election result. Griffin, the NF shithead with an uncanny resemblance to a cross-dressing Miss Piggy somehow contrived to be seen in some quarters as a victim of the establishment - having spent years telling anyone who would listen that the holocaust was the myth of a Jewish conspiracy, he could probably not believe his own luck and has an awful lot to thank Blair and the PC class for. Along with his fellow scumbag Andrew Brons, Griffin's place in the record books is secure, regardless of what happens in 2014 - and attempting re-write or erase bits of history can be extremely difficult, as he should know.

On a brighter note, here's hoping Scotland can pull off an unthinkable victory in Spain - the match kicks off in less than an hour's time, and though the likelihood of such a result before the first whistle blows are slim to none, international football can throw up some quirky and anomalous results, particularly when one team has a great deal more to play for than the other. Whatever result a distinctly average Czech side manage away to Lithuania in Kaunas, the Scots must equal it in order to reach the playoff round for Euro 2012 - that the Spanish are already home and hosed as group winners may help them, particularly if it becomes apparent during the game that a draw will suffice. Lithuania shocked the Czechs in the return fixture in Olomouc, so it is just possible that Scotland could lose tonight's game and still progress.

This bunny's niggle is that a highly dubious penalty awarded to the Czechs at Hampden could ultimately prove fatal. I hope I'm wrong - take care and come on Scotland...

Monday, 10 October 2011

Books - a Change of Plan (Part 1)

Apologies in advance to anyone who feels that tonight's Rabbit is even worse than usual. A 'businessman' on the subcontinent has apparently placed a bet that at some time during October this bunny will write something that goes beyond bad and could be classed as literary torture. If I hadn't already earned my retainer several times over this month then perhaps what follows will seal the deal?

I've mentioned on previous occasions a book called 'a Failure's Guide to Winning the Rat Race' on which I had commenced work. Individuals close to (and respected by) this bunny pointed out that although it was a valid and potentially useful piece of literature, producing it at a time when I was still reliant on the aforementioned race and its filthy proceeds to get by may have, shall we say, unintended and adverse consequences. Five years ago I could not have been shaken on the subject, but then maturity either makes you wiser or renders you little more than a coward - I'll let you make your own mind which applies in this case.

Taking the sound advice of good people who I trust, I'll leave it to a later date and get cracking on Plan B - 'Second is Nowhere'. Sports cheats have always fascinated this bunny, since watching elite competition always gave the impression from a distance that the top sportsmen were those capable of regarding wealth, fame and acclaim as no more than pleasant by-products of something greater - namely that sense of achievement, the mark on mortality left by winning a trophy or medal through hard work, meticulous preparation and no little skill. In that sense, one can probably understand why fringe world level athletes like Ben Johnson or Michelle Smith dabbled with drugs to achieve otherwise unthinkable results - without the aid of needles and pills the medals would simply not have been won, and if you happen to go undetected then the history books cannot take it away from you, even if your conscience can.

But then there are truly elite level operators who still felt the need to break the rules - men and women to whom the essence of sport should surely have meant more. Boris Onishchenko was an outstanding fencer as it was without the aid of his 'magic button'  When British captain Jim Fox drew attention to the fact that Onishchenko was contriving to score points after hitting fresh air, the officials replaced the modified sword and asked for the bout to continue - Boris still ran out a convincing winner, illustrating that his cheating was not merely dishonest, but stupid and utterly pointless. As it was, instead of making up some much-needed ground on their opponents (ultimately successful in their absence) in the race for gold, the Russian team was disqualified from that 1976 modern pentathlon, with Onishchenko labelled 'Disonishchenko' and becoming something of a black sheep in his homeland.

This in itself is interesting, because although one would seek to avoid resorting to crude generalisations about an Eastern European desire to win at all costs, this bunny can't help but think that Boris brought shame on his country only by being caught. The former Soviet bloc produced a generation of athletes who may have been astonished to discover the presence of blood in their steroid stream, and nowhere was this more apparent than East Germany. When a nation of their size and relatively small population begins to dominate power events and swimming on a massive scale, the logical next step is to ask "what's their secret?". In the case of the GDR, it was drugs, growth hormones and a whole host of banned 'supplements', often given to teenage athletes as part of their 'training' for some future Olympiad.

When governments claim sport as a means by which to illustrate their superiority (Hitler of course attempted this with the Berlin Olympics of 1936, only to see the aryan challenge obliterated by Jesse Owens), forays into rule-breaking appear to become more likely. There is of course some cruel humour in poking fun at a female weightlifter or shot putter possessing more facial hair than this bunny (who is sporting a beard these days), but the price of Communist glory became all too apparent after the collapse of the wall in 1989. Former athletes began to explain how the State had doped their young bodies to the point where they no longer recognised themselves. Some returned their medals, while others became long-suffering victims of the dreadful side effects brought about by prolonged steroid and hormone abuse - cases of clinical depression, gender confusion (see Heidi/Andreas Krieger) and at least one suicide attempt can all be attributed to the East German medal-winning programme.

Sport would of course be nothing without its supporters, and there are essentially two aspects to the deal between game and fan that act as conditions for ongoing confidence. The first is that all paricipants are giving of their best at all times in a genuine attempt to beat their opponents (apologies to anyone who expected a piece on spot-fixing yesterday - this is a key part of something I will write on the subject in the week). Secondly, it has to be believed that the rules regarding prohibited substances mean what they say, with no competitor being allowed to gain an outside advantage. One of the great challenges for athletics and cycling in particular is of convincing the viewer that the perceived free for all on supplements is something of an urban myth - lifetime bans for those caught cheating is the only way to truly instil faith in supporters that the game is clean.

This bunny is aware that he's not even scratched the surface here, so has nominally referred to this as Part 1 should the need arise to return to the topic in the future. Many thanks to ManNotNumber amongst others for their sound advice - the rat race can wait for now. Take care and I'll catch you soon.

The Tory Party began dying a long time ago. It cannot be saved.

In early 2009, when I had my interview with my local Conservative group to become one of their council candidates, the news broke that Ken Clarke was invited to take a job in the Shadow Cabinet. The topical question of my interview, the one my interviewers threw right at the end as a "curve ball", was what did I think of Ken Clarke? I tried to give the the interviewers the answer that they wanted to hear and the result was stuttering non-committal to an opinion. This is one of those events I look back at with some regret about my cowardice.

Ken Clarke is the personification of everything I loathe about the Conservative Party. He is a liberal imposter; pro-Europe and limp about crime and punishment. A few weeks ago, Radio 4 interviewed Liberal Democrat voters about which of their coalition partners do they like. I seem to remember that Lib Dem voters approved of Ken Clarke most of all. I think one voter even gave Clarke the epithet "good" or "normal", or some similar positive attribute.

Ken Clarke is a liberal democrat if not a Liberal Democrat.

And so is David Cameron. I think David Cameron sometimes uses Clarke as a foil for his own liberalism, or as a weather vane to test the direction of the prevailing wind. When the storm brewed over halving sentences for criminals including rapists, Cameron performed a U-turn to fit in with public opinion. He came out against Clarke's proposals to give soft - actually softer - sentences to criminals. It is Cameron's wont to, at critical times, suppress his liberalism to offer a sop to Tory voters. Tory voters who are too deluded or tribalised to see Cameron for what he is.

Take a look at "Catgate". When Ken Clarke wagered that, contrary to Thereasa May's claim, that a pet cat did not feature in a judge's decision not to deport a Bolivian immigrant, Cameron appeared to slap down Ken Clarke. Not because Cameron disagreed with Clarke's softness on immigration, but because the Tory conference was one of those critical moments - much like election times - when the media is concentrated intensely on Cameron's Tories and he needs to be seen to do the populist thing. Knowing that the public is worried about high levels of immigration (levels that Cameron will do nothing to reduce) he seized the opportunity to side with May.

Remember Cameron's U-turn over his "cast iron" guarantee on a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty is undemocratic and Soviet. The Lisbon Treaty was a treaty that was allowed to "amend" itself. As such, any changes to the Treaty can be made within the Treaty itself, without having to publish a new Treaty. Because changes to the constitution can be made without publishing a new treaty, the EU Commission can acquire more power from member states without the inconvenience of member states holding referenda over their ceding of power to the EU.

It is anti-democratic and harmful to sovereignty. A Conservative Party - that is, a conservative and patriotic party - would have used the Lisbon Treaty as a good excuse to withdraw from the European Union. But David Cameron reneged on his cast-iron guarantee of a referendum on the European Union because his anti-EU posturing had ceased to be profitable. When he dropped his guarantee of a referendum he had a lead of double-figures over Gordon Brown and probably believed that he was more popular than he actually was and could jettison that burdensome referendum.

He always knew that the Czechs would ratify the Treaty so he could use this as a justification of his reneging on his "cast iron" guarantee. Deluded Tories see Cameron's reneging as proof that the Tories are the party of pragmatics. They do what they can do. They are not idealist or utopian. On the contrary, no Conservative leader has surrendered more to left-wing idealism than David Cameron.

Look at Cameron's meddling in his Party's own candidate selection procedures prior to the 2010 electoral contest. Look how he manipulated the South West Norfolk selection committee into choosing the young, female Elizabeth Truss as its candidate. For someone who ought to dislike powerful central executives, Cameron acts very much like a powerful central executive. It wasn't only Elizabeth Truss, but other female and ethnic minority candidates were "parachuted" into good constituencies in a way Cameron's mentor Tony Blair would have been proud of.

If Cameron's Tories cannot leave his Party's candidate selection procedure to meritocracy, what chance does our dreadful education system have? A truly Conservative Party would restore the tripartite education system; having grammar schools around the country would improve educational standards and give bright but poor students a chance to go to the top of society. But they won't restore grammar schools because they are ideologically wed to comprehensive egalitarianism - a system that places political correctness and equality of outcome above academia.

I know a lot of Tories who are cynical about David Cameron look fondly upon Margaret Thatcher, as if she was the apogee of conservatism. The truth is she was not. Her fixation with markets restored our economy to a position of greatness in the world but it did nothing for conservative values. If you look at the Conservative prime-ministers since the Second World War, none have been conservative.

It is not a new thing that the Tory Party has lost its identity and betrayed its conservative supporters. David Cameron's Tories are simply the most painfully blatant example of a party that has ceased to be useful and ceased to serve its purpose. This is why those Tories who cling to the Party in the hope that the next leader will hold conservative values will be disappointed: The Tory Party's dying isn't a recent phenomena. It has been dying for over half a century.

It cannot be saved.


James Garry is editor of Politics On Toast

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Is the Uk Libertarian Party Serious?

Something this bunny keeps an eye on is the directions from which our inbound traffic arrives. Much like the well-known game show 'Jeopardy', it's a case of 'if Outspoken Rabbit was the answer, then what was the question?'. The friend who pointed me in the direction of Benedict Le Gauche and his contrarian approach towards finding gainful employment deserves full credit for delivering our most visited post of all time. Pieces on the fortunes of the Uk Libertarian Party have also attracted traffic, and yesterday I saw that someone who wound up here had done so after originally asking "is the LPUK serious?".

Good question - there are probably two angles from which to answer it, and one has already been done to death on these pages several times over. I'm sure that the saga has not yet concluded and there will be further developments worth commenting on at a later date (I'll draw your attention to the write-up of a meeting on Thursday that was attended by none other than Nic Coome - http://libertarianhome.co.uk/2011/10/meeting-with-nic-coome/. Many thanks to Simon and co for keeping us informed). If the noises now coming out of the Withers cabal suggest that an answer to the sixty-four million dollar question (ie - where's the money gone?) is forthcoming, then one can only muse as to why this was not an option around April/May time.

Having seen this same group stubbornly refuse to even countenance disclosure of the accounts amid widespread calls to do just that, this bunny (as an ex-LPUK member who was sick of the threats, bullshit and stalling and walked away) remains deeply sceptical with regard to the motives for this apparent change of heart. How many paid-up members does the AP Withers benevolent fund have at the moment, and who are this gentleman's club referring to as the leader in the eyes of the Electoral Commission? With their online appeal for new funds torpedoed by Anna Raccoon and this site - http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/2011/07/cult-of-andrew-withers-deserve-what.html, would it be unreasonable to conclude that money is at the heart of this move, as it has been central to so many of LPUK's very public traumas?

The guys set out some reasonable expectations with regard to what they want from Withers in particular, but this bunny would advise extreme caution in their dealings with someone with a penchant for the underhanded. While the promise of disclosure and transparency is indeed something that many might regard as a chink of light, it also represents a tool with which to bargain and negotiate. Having dealt extensively with what might politely be referred to as 'the scheming type' in a previous life, this bunny recognises a certain modus operandi - dangle a carrot, but insist upon something in return, and before delivery (in this case, for dissidents to come back on board and, more importantly, start handing over their hard-earned again).

When you're dealing with the devil, hardball is the only game worth playing and this bunny just hopes that anyone intent on such a showdown is pig-headed and obstinate enough to give nothing away.

A back catalogue of pieces detailing the extent of LPUK's problems appears here:-

http://www.annaraccoon.com/politics/libertarian-liberties/
http://www.annaraccoon.com/politics/minority-report-libertarian-party/
http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/2011/07/coongate-cover-up.html
http://outspokenrabbit.blogspot.com/2011/07/cult-of-andrew-withers-deserve-what.html

So if we're talking about the current incarnation of the party, then there are a multitude of reasons why an individual who is 'committed to the cause' might take them less than seriously. But then there's a second question - is the notion of a Libertarian Party itself a large part of the problem? Instinctive liberals are often uncomfortable with either being ordered around or adopting this 'seargant major' approach with others. Most of us understand how organisations based on a rigidly hierarchical structure, with a great deal of power concentrated in its higher echelons, increases the scope for corruption, theft and abuse of that authority - after all, such positions are naturally inclined to attract the predictable assortment of bullies, parasites and sycophants that make the mainstream parties so loathsome.

There are clear advantages to having a political party that fights for a Libertarian cause. That is not to say that without one the fight against Statism would die, but while campaigns, pressure groups and even the blogosphere have their function, actual participation in elections and the recognised political sphere is the most likely way in which our ideas can be communicated beyond the converted. Of course, LPUK's presence in contested elections bordered on non-existent, since some of its top brass disowned the party name to stand as 'independents' (on one occasion at the financial expense of its members).

There are probably three lessons that can be learned from the mess that was LPUK - first up, the mere presence of any phoenix needs to be communicated properly so it does not stagnate as an internet movement. This means embracing and participating in campaigns on issues that matter and getting prominent members into print and on the airwaves. Secondly, the structure and constitution of the party have to reflect an organisation that is itself  instinctively liberal - disagreement with 'the party line' ought not be a hanging offence or cause for expulsion. The top-down principle of 'the fuhrer is always right' is that on which the Statists base their own model of cult/drone parties - surely as good a reason as any for us to reject it even if we write off the previous instance of 'skimming off the top' as 'one of those things'?

Something I heard from several directions while a member was the suggestion that we needed to become a slick, professional machine (which to this bunny sounds like code for - base our working methods on those of the parties we can't stand). I struggle to see how anyone could look to the LibLabCon as positive inspiration on any level - it is precisely because they are slick and professional that nobody trusts a word that they say. The thought of party organs being subject to Stasi-esque censorship left this bunny positively sub-zero, since what is considered outside the mainstream and highly controversial today might be proved to be accurate far sooner than one might think. Far from prohibiting comment and debate that might be deemed slightly crazy, this bunny would positively encourage it.

Remember, our opponents are always going to suggest that we're insane anyway - so talk, in fact shout from the rooftops about guns, drugs, prostitution, pornography and all the other 'fun' topics that appeared to be off-limits as LPUK became an 'economics party'. We shouldn't be afraid of having a sense of humour, ripping the piss out of our opponents or taking stances that will be deeply unpopular (such as:- mass immigration has been necessary over the years to cover the idleness of others who were born here, or:- it's none of the state's business to promote marriage or 'stable family life' - what goes on in the bedrooms of consenting adults is entirely their business. Nanny as voyeur is something of a passion killer, surely?).

For those seeking to retrieve something from the wreckage, this bunny tentatively wishes them well. However, if a phoenix eventually emerges from the flames, I hope our understanding of what went on in the past is not merely confined to the epic swindling of one man. As a group who believe in the sovereignty of the individual, it would perhaps be a more rewarding experience for all concerned if we kept this principle in mind at all times? We would of course need to co-operate voluntarily, but in this bunny's experience the only person we're any good at being is ourselves. If that means being perceived in some quarters as slightly mad, then hey it beats the hell out of total anonymity. Take care and I'll catch you soon.