Monthly Archives: February 2007

(A guest post by Gus of 1820 fame.)

Anyone who didn’t believe in karma should take a peek at what’s going on in the Antarctic Ocean. As Associated Press reports: “The crew of a Japanese whaling ship (the Nisshin Maru) stranded in Antarctic waters by a fire that killed one seaman were trying to repair its engines yesterday so that they could reach safety by their own power rather than accept a tow from Greenpeace.”

The news that the Nisshin Maru is the only ship in the whaling fleet able to process whale carcasses, and the season may have to be abandoned if the ship is inoperable will no doubt make your heart break. But there’s a more serious side, if the ship breaks up it will cause havoc to the delicately balanced eco-community of the region.

It’s another piece of great PR for Greenpeace, fresh from their legal triumph over Blair’s dodgy consultation process on new nuclear things, but the environmental campaigners are are facing their own challenges. Greenpeace’s brand of direct action and well managed media messages faces a new challenge from the most right-wing communists you’ll ever meet. In the latest spate of attacks on charitable status after the Smith Institute contoversy, Thomas Deichmann writing in Spiked! challenges Greenpeace’s charitable status arguing that they act ‘politically’.

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There is much discussion amongst our continental brethren about just what to do with the aborted EU constitution. Some suggest simply ratifying the thing anyway, despite the French and Dutch “no” votes; others propose cutting bits and trying again; others still that bits of it should be introduced gradually (so that no one really notices); yet others that we should start again from scratch.

Yesterday, however, one of the most bizarre suggestions I’ve yet heard was put forward by Italy’s Interior Minister Giuliano Amato (who has his own ideas about the constitution). Speaking at the London School of Economics, he suggested that one of the reasons why the EU’s constitutional question may not be solved this year is “the British transition, because the British prime minister on that occasion might meet some difficulty committing his country for the future”. Read More

Much has been written about David Cameron being a Blair manqué. The accusations of style over substance, the eye-catching initiatives, the willingness to alienate his party, the constant drive for modernisation, and the sleight of hand that leads one to believe that one day soon it will be necessary to count the spoons.

And here is some more evidence for the prosecution: grave robbing.

With the corpse of Billy Cox over his shoulder, Cameron declared the 15 year-old’s murder tells us

…our society is badly broken and we need to make some big changes, starting now.

Needless to say, Blair – rightly – denounced the sickening hyperbole of it all:

This tragedy is not a metaphor for the state of British society, still less for the state of British youth today, the huge majority of whom are responsible and law-abiding young people.

If only he didn’t have previous form on the issue himself. Witness Blair’s wailing and gnashing of teeth over the still-warm cadaver of murdered toddler Jamie Bulger in 1993. The freakish murder he said was…

…the ugly manifestation of a society that is becoming unworthy of the name.

And the law and order arms race between Labour and the Conservatives was born. It goes without saying that we were no more up to our knees in murdered toddlers in 1993 than we are murdered teenagers in 2007.

Cameron might be a new dog but he knows the old tricks.

Update: Nick Robinson makes the same point.

Apropos of nothing, a thought about Scottish Independence:

In the event of independence for Scotland (presumably following a ‘yes’ vote in a referendum, in the wake of an SNP victory in the Scottish Parliamentary elections), what would be the criteria for citizenship of the new country?

Now, I am registered to vote in Scotland (I even own a flat in Edinburgh, off Dalry Road). I would presumably become a citizen of the Independent Republic of Scotland, if it came into existence. However, I am at present a citizen of the United Kingdom, a country that will persist (albeit in a leaner form) should Scotland choose Independence. In that event, will I be stripped of that UK citizenship? Any mechanism to do so would, I think, be an odd an illiberal thing. In any case, having been born in London to British parents, I would be an unassailable candidate for dual citizenship, even if I did have to actively apply for it.

I imagine the reverse case would be true for the Scottish diaspora elsewhere in the world. They are citizens of other countries, but would be eligible for Scottish citizenship too. Personally, I don’t have a problem with a high proportion of the population having dual citizenship (I am, after all, a dangerous multiculturalist). But surely such a situation would be undesirable for the Nationalists. Gaining independence from the English, only to see hundreds of thousands (maybe millions) of people applying for dual citizenship, would seem to be a hollow victory.

What are the lessons from other partitions and secessions? The Scottish Nationalists claim to be ‘different’ from the English, and yet there are no clashes of religion, ethnicity, or language. Therefore the choice over which side of the border to stand is less obvious. And the reasons for drawing a border in the first place are less clear.