Friday, March 6, 2009

The Last Post

This really is the Last Post on the BrugesGroupBlog as far as I am concerned. As of now I shall cease to post here and concentrate on EUReferendum and whatever other blog I may decide to start. It is possible that this blog will be continued by somebody else at some later stage but I cannot tell who or when. Not all experiments work out.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

They'll find out

Everything seems to be coming up roses between the UN and the month-old Obama Presidency - as opposed to the people of the United States and the self-same Administration. SecGen Ban Ki-moon has moved fast, no doubt worried about future problems, to ask for more support and, above all, more money.
Ban said during a wide-ranging interview this week with The Associated Press that he was encouraged by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's response to his request for additional cash for peacekeepers and other badly stretched U.N. priorities.

They spoke on the sidelines of an international conference in Egypt on Monday that raised $5.2 billion in pledges for rebuilding Gaza, at the conclusion of the U.N. secretary-general's nine-day, six-nation African tour.

"She is quite supportive, and she told me that she will, her administration, the Obama administration is committed to working very closely politically and also (with) these financial contributions," Ban told the AP.
Words, as the SecGen knows, are cheap and there is still Congress to contend with on the subject of finances. Given the sorry record of those peace-keeping troops - useless at best and a bunch of rapists and exploiters at worst - more money is unlikely to solve the problems. In fact, nothing will solve the basic problem of the UN, its complete unaccountability that allows all sorts of bloodthirsty, kleptocratic dictators to call the tune.
The thawing relations between the United Nations and President Barack Obama's month-old administration represents a remarkable turnabout from just three years ago, when the Bush administration's U.N. ambassador, John Bolton, thrived on exposing U.N. corruption and failures but also furthered U.S.isolation.
Yes, indeed. Those UN corruptions and failures are still with us and the new Administration will do exactly what the other ones did - try to explain them away as long as they can and then turn against the organization. If it lasts that long. Three years ago was a year into Bush's second term. So far, Obama has had one month of his first term.

Another nightmare

Senator Edward Kennedy, the man who never saw a wrong cause without supporting it, is to receive an honorary knighthood. This is for his "work" before, during and after the noxious Belfast Agreement (I refuse to refer to it as the Good Friday Agreement). That would be the work he did in support of IRA/Sinn Fein.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Another success for the Home Office

This is being reported in various outlets but Hot Air is particularly succinct, though they get the information from the Daily Telegraph.
A Dutch poll taken February 7 showed his party in third place behind the Christian Democrats and Labour. Three days later, the Brits banned him from the UK. The latest Dutch poll, taken February 28: Wilders’s party 27, Christian Democrats 26, Labour 21.
The chances are Geert Wilders's party would have gained in popularity anyway but the Home Office deciding that an elected politician from a free and democratic country should not be allowed into Britain because the people he is accusing of violent attacks on all opposition might .... turn violent undoubtedly brought the man a good deal of support.

Gosh, what a surprise

President Prime Minister Putin's current party "United Russia" has won handsomely or, as the International Herald Tribune puts it, handily, in Russia's regional and district elections. Not altogether surprising, one might say, given the situation in that country.

What is a little odd is the phrasing of the article, the first I saw this morning on the subject. It starts off by saying without quotation marks:
The ruling party in Russia has won handily in regional elections, the Central Election Commission said Monday, the first electoral test for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin since the economy began to turn dire.

The party, United Russia, won the majority of seats in all nine regions where local parliamentary elections were held Sunday, and nearly swept smaller municipal elections.
Electoral test, eh? Just how difficult were those conditions? Harder or easier than those on University Challenge?

Further down we are told:
But many independent analysts said that elections have become little more than technical exercises since Putin came to power as president in 2000, and offer only a haphazard indication of voter preference.

Television and many other media outlets are largely tilted in favor of United Russia, and, out of four parties present in the federal Parliament, only one, the Communist Party, offers real, if pliable, opposition to Putin's party.

"This was just a small, uninteresting show," said Anton Orekh, a political commentator on Echo Moskvy radio. Public interest in elections, he said during an interview, had become "slightly less than low."
Unexplained murders of critics, lack of legal prosecution and other attempts to bully may have something to do with that lack of public interest.

The IHT holds firmly to the view that Putin remains the most popular politician in Russia, a view that has little to say for it, given the overwhelming publicity he gets and the complete lack of information about anyone else. Being more popular that supposed President Medvedev is hardly a great achievement. Mind you, there are rumours that the latter may be trying to form links with the dissatisfied military but we have to wait and see how true those are.

Given that there are already discontents across the country, particularly the Far East, and given that these discontents cannot be expressed through electoral means, we can but wonder what the spring, the traditional time for trouble in Russia will bring. And if there are serious disorders, will those journalists who think President Prime Minister Putin is so popular, be astonished?

Monday, March 2, 2009

This is really sad

I used to love University Challenge back in the Bamber Gascoigne days (yes, I know, dates me a bit) and, as a school girl (take those dates off) would dream of participating. Didn't happen, of course, and I have not seen the programme for many years - the penalties of not having a TV set. But having a winning team with a participant who is no longer a student does make one sigh with despair. Which bit of "this is University Challenge" didn't these ultra-bright people understand?

Friday, February 27, 2009

We should be paying attention ...

... to the tea-parties a.k.a. taxpayers' revolts across the Pond. So far they are mild-mannered though we shall see what the day brings. But remember what happened after the one in Boston.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Let us hope they listen

Dan Mitchell of Cato Institute warns the United States not to follow the European path. He points out, inter alia, that Keynes himself would have been horrified by the proportion of GDP that is consumed by the state nowadays.

Here are the killer paragraphs (though I wonder why Dr Mitchell left Britain out of his excoriation):
The only good news, at least relatively speaking, is that other nations are in even worse shape. With the exception of Switzerland and a handful of other examples, nations in Europe are burdened by public sectors that consume up to 50 percent of economic output. In places such as Sweden and France, government spending actually consumes more than half of GDP (though Sweden somewhat compensates by having very market-oriented policies in other areas).

Europe’s sclerotic economies should serve as a warning for American policy makers. If government continues to grow, it will be just a matter of time before the United States also is plagued by low growth, higher unemployment, and stagnant living standards. Government spending is not the only policy that matters (see
here for additional information), but making America more like France is a big step in the wrong direction.
Sadly, it looks like the Obama Administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress, which appears to be ever more insane, chaotic and dishonest with every day, seem to be determined to drive the last hope of economic recovery - the American economy down the same path. Here is Claudia Rossett's take. I am not sure I can say "enjoy" about such a grim subject.

It is almost inevitable that with a political class, in Britain, in America and on the Continent, that has become almost completely detached from the rest of the country and its wealth creation, should like economic legislation that gives more money, more power, more employment to them and their clients. What is good for Washington or, for that matter, Whitehall, is almost certainly bad for the rest of the country.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Next meeting

The Bruges Group will hold a meeting on February 24 at the Foreign Press Association, 11 Carlton House Terrace (W. E. Gladstone's old house) at 7 pm. The speakers will be Peter Lilley MP and Martin Howe QC and they will be speaking on the destruction of parliamentary democracy, a subject Mr Lilley, at least, ought to know a great deal about.

You do not have to book ahead. Just turn up and pay at the door. I shall not be there for once, though Martin Howe is always worth hearing and I should like to know how he envisages Britain renegotiating a different relationship with the rest of the EU. The last time I asked him, his response was disappointingly silly. Drawing parallels between the British and the Swiss positions is pointless. There are no parallels.

As for me, I shall be at the National Theatre, watching the revival of Tom Stoppard's play about Soviet dissidents, "Every Good Boy Deserves A Favour".