Monthly Archives: May 2005

I’ve always been kind of attracted to libertarianism. Not in the philosophical, well-read, intellectual sense. More in practical terms: I don’t think it’s any of the state’s business what I choose to stick in my veins or into another consenting adult. My biometric data is mine, not for them to treat as their own. I’ll swap the licence fee for a BBC subscription and my taxes for health insurance, should the ideological Right embark on their preferred trail of public vandalism.

Most of all, though, I like the idea that the free market and largely unregulated business will find a way to benefit us all. Read More

(Or “the glorious day”, for any lurking Citizen Smith nostalgics.)

Paul Anderson raves about John Palmer’s presentation of “the left case for a yes vote in the French and Dutch referendums”. I’m not so sure.

Very briefly: the new elements of the constitutional treaty can be grouped under the headings of economic liberalisation, democratisation and institutional consolidation. Read More

Can’t really argue with that. This is the problem with this bloody constitution – there’s no vision behind it. There’s nothing to inspire interest, enthusiasm or loyalty – even among the faithful. For a project as ambtitious as the breaking down of barriers between the disparate, once war-ridden nations of an ancient continent, you’d think they’d have at least tried to have given it a shot or two of pizzazz.

The trouble with this “constitution” (even the eurosceptic Scotsman accepts that it’s really little more than “a 500-page pull-together of all previous EU Treaties”) is, as I’ve said elsewhere before, that it’s looking to sort out the present and the clutter of the past, not the future.
Read More

Andrew at Hold that Thought, a new blog, has drawn my attention to a polemical piece by German social theorist Jurgen Habermas , arguing for a left-wing “yes” vote in the French referendum. Habermas’ major contention is that

What is vaunted today as the “European social model” can only be defended if European political strength grows alongside the markets. It is solely on the European level that a part of the political regulatory power that is bound to be lost on the national level can be won back. Today the EU member states are strengthening their cooperation in the areas of justice, criminal law and immigration. An active Left taking an enlightened stance toward European politics could have also pressed long ago for greater harmonisation in the areas of taxation and economic policy.

Read More

When is a war a ‘just war’? According to the classic definition, one of the key criteria is that war is not waged lightly: going to war has to be the ‘last resort’.

But it can be tricky to tell when you’ve reached the ‘last resort’, or the last of anything; you could easily jump too soon, or else wait too long and miss it altogether. Think of Father Ted Read More

So now we have the final proof. New Labour is the greatest political party in history. Not content with three historic election victories, bringing democracy to the Middle East and the elevation of a priapic blind man to one of the great offices of state, New Labour can create worlds of their own imagining from the raw firmament.

Read More

Britain has no written constitution.

This is one of the stock statements that pundits make on British political life. And, of course, like most stock statements, it isn’t really true. The vast majority of the British constitution is in fact written down, but in disparate documents, none of which are headed ‘warning: contains constitution’.

The Act of Settlement, the Parliament Acts, the Scotland Act, the Government of Wales Act, the Bill of Rights. These are all parts of the constitution, although none are explicitly headlined as such.

A small but consistent strand of modern British politics (which surfaces again in the comments on Eddie’s post below) has been the campaign to give the UK a unified written constitution. It has been becalmed for some time now, but with the tensions brought by such issues as devolution, Lords reform and European integration, the question is once again being posed.

In this post, I want to take a brief look at what the purpose of such a constitution would be, how the UK might go about adopting one, and then throw open the debate on what it might contain.
Read More

But first, some zen propaganda:

US military commanders are planning to pull back their troops from Iraq’s towns and cities and redeploy them in four giant bases in a strategy they say is a prelude to eventual withdrawal.

Eventually, we all withdraw. In the light of the eventual heat death of the universe, nothing is permanent. There is only the way. That alone remains… Read More