Freesteel Blog » 2010 » May

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010 at 9:00 pm - - Whipping 8 Comments »

So here we are at the end of the election having not raised one bean for running Nor is there a single penny available for a new improved version of, or the radical internal party monitoring project.

Due to the serious lack of substantive democratic interest in this country, the only potential funders of projects such as these is the The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust who have blown all their money on their Power2010 campaign with nothing to spare to afford one single link to at any time during their campaign. I can’t even put into words how pissed off with that project in terms of its self-serving waste of opportunities and anti-grassroots astroturf instincts.

According to the Grants Awarded page, the breakdown of money that didn’t go to is as follows:


Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 at 9:26 am - - Cave 1 Comment »

Once again, too much work happening, and all my blogging time is taken up with active activities. Last weekend I was hauled off caving to the Forest of Dean whether I liked it or not.

We picked up two cavers in Manchester and headed down, using their crap-nav stuck to the windscreen. The novelty wore off after much time hurtling down unnecessary single track lanes nowhere near our destination, only to turn back out onto a trunk road. All the campsites had huge barriers and gates, except one which we found at 1am on Miss Grace’s Lane, which was excellent. There was even another caving club staying there.

Saturday was a trip down Slaughter Stream Cave. I have added the photo to that Wikipedia page, and then got incensed to discover that those Yank cavers had deleted the coordinate field from the Infobox Cave template.

On Sunday I had an unusually pleasant morning in Chepstow foraging for breakfast owing to the fact that we were booked into Otter Hole which has a tidal sump part way through. This wasn’t scheduled to drain till 1:40pm, so I couldn’t be rushed to get going, get going, get underground.

The cave was all squalor and sharp rocks. I found it exceptionally hard going. We participated in a session of spray cleaning some of the stalagmites in the Hall of Thirty. And then spray-cleaned ourselves with a secret hosepipe in the woods where someone had dammed a stream to create a head of water. Good thinking.

Here’s a 5 minute video to of the squalor.

Friday, May 7th, 2010 at 4:52 pm - - Weekends

I was in the count from 10pm to 5am. The results were bad. Very bad. In terms of matching the quality of the campaigns and the candidates to the electoral outcome.

There were two serious blows.


Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 7:42 pm - - Whipping

The Republican Party has a front group in the UK called the Young Britons’ Foundation for indoctrinating young Tories with that unique American cocktail of views shared by, among others, Myron Ebell.

In fact one of Myron Ebell’s fellow employees at the Competitive Enterprise Institute is on their advisory panel and, like the CEI, they start their lies on the first line of their introduction paragraph:

Founded in 2003 as a non-partisan, not-for-profit research and training organisation, YBF combats bias in the education system and mainstream media, seeking to train and inform young politically charged activists.

The president of this entity of unknown legal standing is Daniel Hannan who toured round the United States last year during their national debate about reforming their cruelly dysfunctional healthcare system proclaiming that the nationalized health system in the UK was a disaster.

The fact is the NHS in the UK is so overwhelmingly popular (with good reason) that no party can get elected without promising to fully fund and protect it. That’s what the Conservative Party is at pains to promise. Therefore, having Daniel Hannan — who is very effective as setting Conservative Party policy at least on Europe — going round other countries saying that he is fundamentally opposed to its very existance is somewhat of an embarrassment.

It scares people. It should scare people. And having his strange cult organization putting out this Danger of a Hung Parliament leaflet in the last week of the General Election is shocking.

500,000 leaflets were mailed out to over 25 Libdem/Conservative marginal constituencies, and it’s not even certain that doing this was legal, as they are not registered with the Electoral Commission and have undoubtedly gone beyond the spending limits.

One can only hope that it was a political mis-calculation. A lot of people are in favour of having a hung parliament. Or, as others have put it, a balanced parliament or even, God forbid, a representative parliament — at least in terms of being closer to the proportion of votes cast.

The Conservative Party scares us, and the Labour Party is a total corruption. Two parties in coalition would mean that national policy had to be negotiated between them, more in the open, rather than sold out and stitched up within the closed inner workings of a single party’s hierarchy where there is too much vacuum to be filled with life-threatening ideology such as this.

Daniel has this week been blogging away on the Daily Telegraph’s website about his Contract with Britain, modelled precisely on Newt Gingrich’s 1994 Contract with America (deadly deregulation leading to short-term business profits and massive environmental and economic crises).

Incidentally, when BBC Radio had a nice chatty interview with the still very active Newt Gingrich last week, they threw a few soft-balls and made him sound like a kindly old gentleman.

I emailed the program (they’re always asking for feedback) with a criticism of this interview. I asked that given the ties between Gingrich’s Republican Party and our Conservative Party, wouldn’t it have been nice to hear his comments about
the latest Conservative Party manifesto and the way that protection of the National Health Service is front and central to the whole party policy?

The exchange got a little bit testy. I was told:

There are plenty of other programmes on the BBC and on R4 to make overt political comparisons between left / right – blue / red – but its not a position from which we start.

Had we asked Gingrich why his party is so very different from the British Conservative party, in my view, would have taken us over well worn territory.

We’ll have to agree to disagree.

But there aren’t. I have never heard of any case where a member of the US Republican Party is invited to comment on material produced by the UK Conservative Party.

Considering the polical connections between the two parties to the extent of direct interference in the electoral process, I think we should be told.

Meanwhile, here is a fine video by the YBF to put shivers up your spine.

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 11:01 am - - Whipping 2 Comments »

I knew I had diversity overload here when I was watching a Chinese immigrant speaking as the Conservative Party candidate for Liverpool, Riverside about the Trident nuclear weapons system in a Methodist Christian church in Toxteth where the front four rows were packed with young giggling muslim women in headscarves.

It was lively.

There was uproar on the question of Palestine when the incumbent MP Louise Ellman stated categorically that there was no blockade of Gaza.

As the saying goes, You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

The fact was Louise Ellman didn’t need to be there, because with a majority of 33% she would still get elected if she stood Margaret Thatcher in her place.

So all due credit, considering her position. (The LibDem candidate Richard Marbrow didn’t turn up.)

Candidate hustings are a rare and unique moment of political equality. At all other meetings the MP has the seniority and the power, and what they say has the weight of significance — even if it’s complete bollocks. Even more so if it’s bollocks, because they have the power to implement what they say, and you’re going to live with the resulting balls-up.

But at this brief window they are officially on the level of the citizen and they have to debate about things in a row with other equal citizens. We get to hear what’s popular and what is not.

That’s why I like audiences that hollar and shout. It’s mainly to hear our own thoughts to ourselves, and to get the feeling that the powers have actually heard it. If we’d sat through these hustings in silent deference, our sense of despair at hearing what we know are lies would have been private and unknown to one another. Now it’s clear.

My take on the Trident nuclear weapons system? Thanks for asking.

Like most weapons systems, it is not a general purpose resource. Trident was designed to respond to an all-out nuclear threat of annihilation from another nuclear weapons state with whom we had insignificant economic relations (the Soviet Union) with an armed retaliation that was unlikely to be destroyed in the first attack by virtue of being on-board a fleet of submarines.

Such a threat no longer exists. And if one emerged in a future “uncertain world” — as the official position defines it such fine detail — then it could only occur over a time span sufficient to rebuild a similar nuclear weapons capability.

An enemy fleet of a thousand ballistic nuclear weapons, sufficient to destroy all parts of the United Kingdom where land-based missiles were situated, cannot appear overnight.

Come to think of it, maybe the reason they put the missiles in submarines is to keep them away from us. People don’t want missile silos littering the countryside. It’s too much of a reminder that Governments are in the business of mass murder.

In any case, they’re boxed in by their own irrational needs. Nuclear weapons have nothing to do with national security. They are needed to satisfy other deep political fetishes. It’s not possible to admit to them openly.

And, no, China is never going to be a military threat to the UK. They can already defeat us totally without raising a single weapon, because our financial system has a number of very sensitive national self-destruct mechanisms built into its structure. All they need to do is glance at the button to make our entire economy implode, and then there will be riots in the street within four weeks.

Politics is not a game.