Norman Tebbit’s cricket test

Not cricket

You may or may not remember Norman Tebbit’s old cricket test. Back in 1990 Tebbit told the Los Angeles Times “A large proportion of Britain’s Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It’s an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?”

Predictably this caused outrage. Then Lib Dem leader Paddy Pantsdown condemned the “outrageous and damaging remarks” and Labour MP Jeff Rooker called for Tebbit to be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred, “(Tebbit) is a clever politician using soft language about cricket” Rooker claimed.

Yesterday a British soldier was literally butchered in the streets of London in broad daylight. The man who probably did it, who reports suggest was brought up in Britain, was filmed, still covered in the victims blood, saying

“The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers.

“And this British soldier is one. It is an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.

“By Allah, we swear by the almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone.

“So what if we want to live by the Sharia in Muslim lands? Why does that mean you must follow us and chase us and call us extremists and kill us?

“Rather you lot are extreme. You are the ones that when you drop a bomb you think it hits one person?

“Or rather your bomb wipes out a whole family?

“This is the reality. By Allah if I saw your mother today with a buggy I would help her up the stairs. This is my nature…

“Through many passages in the (Arabic) Koran we must fight them as they fight us.

“An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

“I apologise that women had to witness this today but in our lands women have to see the same.

You people will never be safe. Remove your governments, they don’t care about you.

“You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns?

“You think politicians are going to die?

“No, it’s going to be the average guy, like you and your children.

“So get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so can all live in peace.

“So leave our lands and we can all live in peace.

“That’s all I have to say.

“Allah’s peace and blessings be upon you.”

The chap wasn’t Asian but it certainly seems as though he considered himself ‘other’ than British. Seems old Norm might not have been quite so crackers after all.

The relationship between welfare and immigration

Home comforts: Firuta Vasile's initial request for benefits had been rejected by the local council

You give immigrants a bad name

The influx of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants expected from January 1st 2014 has lately seen Britain’s politicians running round like headless chickens trying to prevent the obvious and predictable results of their previous actions (or inactions). The idea that people from these countries might come to the UK and avail of its generous welfare system has triggered concerns about immigration. Should we not, instead, be worried about welfare?

Classical liberals and many on ‘the right’ more generally would complain if government prevented a person from Bolton taking a job in Southampton. What right would a politician have to interfere in the mutually agreed employment decision of an employee and an employer? But if this is so, why should government have any more right to prevent a person from Juarez or Lahore taking a job in Minneapolis or Sheffield?

Indeed, if the government erected capital controls such as existed in the post war period to stop people shipping their wealth abroad, many on ‘the right’ would decry an act of confiscatory socialism. But why should the freedom of movement be granted to capital and denied to labour?

Immigration is an area of public policy rarely treated coherently. ‘The left’ frequently defend the free movement of labour (recently anyway) but oppose the free movement of capital. From ‘the right’ it is often the opposite. A common opinion, in pubs and taxi cabs at any rate, is that immigrants come here to sponge off our welfare state and take our jobs, a contradictory sentiment often expressed by the same person in the same monologue.

Some immigrants do travel to the UK to gorge themselves in the trough of its lavish welfare state. I wrote last January of Firuta Vasile, a woman who has apparently done little but leech off the British taxpayer since arriving from Romania in 2008.

Indeed, stories on BBC London about the lack of affordable housing in the capital are often illustrated with an interview with an immigrant demanding that more ‘affordable housing’ be made available by the state. But there is probably no shortage of affordable accommodation wherever they came from and the high prices of London are simply a market signal saying: This place is full up.

Immigrants like Ms Vasile give a bad name to the majority who do travel to Britain wanting to work. But, besides that, they are eroding support for the welfare state itself.

For all the noble notions of a brotherhood of man it remains a fact that people, in the main, feel more empathy with those who are more like them than those who aren’t. We generally care more about people who speak our language, dress like us, worship the same God (or none), watch the same TV programmes etc, than we do about people who don’t. This is one reason why the British or American media will devote hours of coverage to the deaths of American children in Newtown but spend little if any time on the Pakistani or Afghan children killed in drone strikes.

Regrettable as it may be, it is a fact of life that our empathy decreases as our differences with the person being empathised with increase.

The effects of this for a welfare state are as obvious as the effects of throwing your doors open while laying on a banquet of benefits. While people might be quite willing to pay towards a system that they believe is going to help people like themselves they will be considerably less willing to pay towards a system that they perceive benefits people who have very little in common with them. As Stuart Soroka writes

“Immigration has the potential to raise powerful challenges to the political legitimacy of the welfare state. Immigration can unsettle the historical conceptions of community, which define those who are ‘us’, recognized members of existing networks of rights and obligation, and those who are ‘strangers’ or ‘others’ whose needs seem less compelling. According to many commentators, the growing presence of newcomers, especially ethnically distinct newcomers, may erode the sense of social solidarity on which welfare states are constructed”

Or, as Milton Freidman put it: “You cannot simultaneously have free immigration and a welfare state”. The mass immigration overseen by the Labour government which saw millions enter Britain, 371,000 of whom are claiming benefits, has been one of the major factors in the decline in support for the welfare state in Britain. It has led to the serious consideration of a contributory element to welfare.

The answer is that government has no basis in rights to interfere with migration, but neither does it have a duty to subsidise it. If people want to go and work in Britain or the United States, and they can find employment, they should not be impeded. But if they cannot find employment the government should not hand them taxpayers’ money or goods and services purchased with that money.

There is a choice between immigration and welfare. The irony is that by choosing immigration a government of the left did more to undermine the welfare state than ‘the right’ ever did.

This article originally appeared at The Commentator

2015: Time for Cameron to ‘hug a Ukipper’?

The Battle for Britain

In 2005 the Conservative party crashed to its third defeat at the hands of Tony Blair’s Labour. Michael Howard delayed his resignation to give the Conservatives time to reflect on how they had reached this sorry state and ponder what they should do about it.

Looking back to their last days in power before the 1997 election defeat Conservatives saw three factors at play. First, was their bitter civil war over the European Union; second, the steady stream of sleaze scandals; and third, general public boredom with a Conservative government which had been around since 1979.

But by 2005 most of these issues had gone. Blair had neutered Europe as an issue for the time being by promising a referendum on British membership of the euro. In government, Labour had proved just as sleazy as the Conservatives were. And, after eight years of Labour government, the Conservatives looked ever so slightly fresher.

And still they lost. Even against a Labour government which had bent the facts to send British soldiers into Iraq to remove weapons of mass destruction which weren’t actually there, they had lost. Again the question: why?

A bit of research emerged at around this time which showed that people generally approved of Conservative party policies until they found out they were Conservative party policies. To one group of Bright Young Things this indicated that the problem was one of marketing and the search was on for a salesman. Step forward David Cameron.

Cameron had only been in Parliament for four years before he decided to run for the Party leadership. But he had plenty of political experience; indeed, he had done little else since university. He went straight into a job with the Conservative party. From there he became Director of Corporate Affairs (whatever that is) for a TV company, a role which appears to have involved talking to politicians a lot.

It was this presumed media savvy which won Cameron the leadership in 2005. The party wanted someone to put an acceptable face on apparently popular policies. It didn’t want to be Theresa May’s “nasty party” anymore and Cameron promised to make them “feel good about being Conservatives again”

He and the Cameroons who gathered around him had reached political maturity during Blair’s reign. They had seen how Blair had taken over a party which couldn’t even win an election against John Major in the middle of a recession and comfortably won three elections on the bounce. They believed Blair had managed this by ‘detoxifying’ the Labour brand, by taking on and ridding the party of its madder elements. They determined to do the same for the Conservatives.

On one level this meant delving into Blair’s bag of media tricks. Call Me Dave gave speeches without notes, took his jacket off, went sledging, rolled his sleeves up, hugged hoodies, and at the 2006 party conference he made more wardrobe changes than Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra.

But on a deeper level the Cameroons were searching for a ‘Clause IV Moment’, the symbolic point when you tame your extremists and embrace electability. Their calculation was that they could bully and pick fights with their ‘right wing’ and in doing so they would attract support from the fabled ‘centre’. After all, they reasoned, any right wingers who didn’t enjoy being bullied by them had, like Richard Gere, “nowhere else to go

But there was a problem. By 1994 the Labour left had been so utterly discredited that the original Clause IV Moment was simply an overdue act of euthanasia. In theory, and in practice, during the post war period the left wing orthodoxy of high tax and even higher public spending had been exposed as the economic suicide it remains.

By contrast no such thing happened to the ideas of the Conservative right. Indeed, the last few years have seen one formerly ‘controversial’ view of theirs after another be resoundingly vindicated. Immigration is too high. Government is spending too much. The euro is a disaster.

Ultimately the Cameroon strategy failed. After five years of ‘rebranding’, against one of the most incompetent administrations in history, and in the middle of a recession, in May 2010 the Conservatives failed to win their fourth election in a row.

And those right wingers didn’t just sit around meekly soaking up the punishment Cameron dished out to them in a vain effort to impress the Guardianistas. Lots of them buggered off to UKIP. And how did Cameron, the master political operator (sic), respond? He was gratuitously rude to them. Again. In the Telegraph last week Dan Hodges wrote that come 2015 “the vast bulk of [Ukip’s] remaining support will come home, reluctantly, to David Cameron.” No, it won’t. And why should it if Cameron keeps abusing them to solicit a favourable glance from Polly Toynbee?

Cameron’s support rises when he pursues Conservative policies; the EU veto and welfare reform, for example. Now, I’m no Central Office genius, but perhaps there’s something in this? Perhaps it’s time for Cameron to stop his fruitless flirting with some mythical centre (which is, in reality, just a punji trap with the sharpened heads of George Monbiot and Mehdi Hasan at the bottom) and remember that he’s a Conservative?

The long term Cameroon strategy of replacing the Conservative right with the Labour right will fail. Its hysterical reaction to even the mild fiscal medicine administered by the coalition demonstrates that Cameron will never find enough votes from that quarter to replace the real Conservatives he sent off in Nigel Farage’s direction.

As 2015 approaches Cameron might find he needs to Hug a Ukipper. If he carries on this pathetic baiting they’ll probably tell him to get stuffed.

Too Blue for Labour

The Great Blue Hope

I wrote a little while ago about the ‘common ground’ in British society uncovered by a Labour Party listening exercise. It found that Brits wanted

“tough on crime (and to hell with the causes), a preference for money to be spent in the UK’s roads and schools before those of India or Nigeria, a crackdown on benefit cheats and lazy arses who don’t want to work, and a strong desire to see the NHS and school system work properly. Add in a little mild xenophobia towards the continental Europeans and a visceral loathing of MPs and bankers”

I went on to say

“For all the fuss about ‘Blue Labour’, there is only so far Labour can move towards this common ground without breaking apart”

It seems that I overestimated how far Labour could move in this direction. This week Maurice Glasman, the guru behind ‘Blue Labour’, gave an interview to the Telegraph in which has said

“We’ve got to re-interrogate our relationship with the EU on the movement of labour…Britain is not an outpost of the UN. We have to put the people in this country first. The EU has gone from being a sort of pig farm-subsidised bloc to the free movement of labour and capital.”

He went on to say

“We should be more generous and friendly in receiving those [few] who are needed. To be more generous, we have to draw the line.”

All sensible stuff and well in tune with what the Labour party’s listening exercise told them about the feeling of the British people.

But on the issue of immigration Labour remains firmly wedded to the principle of the open door. As reported in the New Statesman today Blue Labour is about to be “effectively disbanded” for Glasman’s heresy over immigration.

So, already, we have found just how far Labour are prepared to go to meet the British people and it isn’t very far. They should listen when Glasman says of the public and Labour “They’re in the right place — it’s us who are not”

S**t my economist says #2

This week the ever amusing tried to cite the cutting of funding for English for speakers of other languages (Esol) courses while David Cameron is urging immigrants to learn English as evidence of his hypocrisy.

Labour still dont seem to have grasped that, just because something ought to happen, it doesn’t automatically follow that the government ought to pay for it.

David Cameron talks some sense – now wait for the backlash

“Calm down, calm down”

David Cameron is capable of saying some very silly things. He was at it again earlier this week when he branded Oxford University, his alma mater, a disgrace for only accepting one black student last year. It was doubly silly in fact. First, it wasn’t actually true. Secondly, the problem isn’t some sort of racism on the part of the dons but the total failure of the comprehensive education system.

He is also capable of saying some very accurate things and in his statements on multiculturalism and immigration he has been not only wise but quite brave too.

Back in February Cameron joined the ranks of European leaders to announce the death of ‘multiculturalism’. Like Sarkozy and Merkel he was right to do so, multiculturalism has failed. This isn’t the same as saying multiracialism has failed, it clearly hasn’t, but you’d never know to listen to some of the reactions to Cameron’s remarks.

The left believes in multiculturalism because it doesn’t believe, with notable exceptions like George Orwell, that culture itself is anything special. According to Marx all society was just a manifestation of the social relations generated by prevailing economic relationships, a social superstructure erected on the economic substructure to borrow his terminology. It followed from this that as these economic relations changed so the culture would change; there was nothing immutably valuable about culture itself.

The Labour party rightly pays little lip service to the crank doctrines of Marxism today. But you can see a very definite economism at work in their belief that there is no problem which cannot be solved by the liberal application of a bit cash. To the left the answer to every social problem is financial, or economic. Though they don’t put it in these terms any more, they still believe that the substructure wags the superstructure.

So if culture was a trifling matter then having multi cultures was nothing to be worried about. This allowed Labour to fling the UK’s doors open which also had the handy result for them that many of these immigrants tended to vote for them. They were importing voters.

The problem is that culture does matter. It evolves to facilitate communication, becoming a standard stock of norms of thought, speech and behaviour. It does this based on a host of factors besides economic relations. Culture is far more complex and important than the left believe.

The result is that cultures haven’t dissolved when placed next to other by mass immigration, they have persisted and cultures haven’t integrated. Rather they have settled into separate but parallel existences with minimal contact with each other.

This was encouraged by another favourite tool of the left, identity politics. This emerged in the 1960’s and 1970’s when the left realised that the working class, its traditional support, was deserting it. It responded by hanging its hat on a constellation of groups based around disability, religion, sexuality and race. By chopping up society into interest groups, each with an interlocutor, the left fostered division.

Cameron was totally correct that multiculturalism had failed. Predictably the left responded in the way it does when anyone tries to discuss an issue which the British public are so concerned about; it screamed ‘Racist!’, ignoring the fact that it’s entirely possible for different ethnicities to share a common culture.

Now Cameron has gone and said something accurate and brave again. In a speech today he will say that mass immigration has “created a kind of discomfort and disjointedness in some neighbourhoods” and “placed real pressures on communities up and down the country”. That this is self evidently true wont stop some from trying to paint him as the Grand Wizard of the Whitney Ku Klux Klan which to the left is almost as bad as the Bullingdon Club. Almost.

Gillian Duffy strikes again

“We must stop meeting like this”

A year after being called a ‘bigoted woman’ by Gordon Brown and dealing a massive blow to Labour’s reelection chances Gillian Duffy faced off with Nick Clegg yesterday.

Rochdale is a long way from Westminster yet it seems Mrs Duffy cant walk to the shops without bumping into the leader of a political party. Of course, it helps that she was driven there by a local Labour party activist in a scheme dreamed up by local Labour MP Simon Danczuk who, one suspects, can expect a telling off from Ed Miliband, admittedly not a terrifying prospect.

Why so? Well, as wheezes go this one backfired badly. Whereas Brown was unpleasant and anti social and didn’t like people very much, Nick Clegg is quite a nice chap and was perfectly polite to Ms Duffy, even if calling her ‘Gillian’ was a bit over familiar. When faced with a woman of clearly limited intelligence who insisted on asking him the same question he’d just answered, Clegg showed admirable coolness in the face of a pretty obvious set up. Still, with the practice he’s had you’d expect him to be cool under fire.

But something of interest emerged from the meeting and that was Labour’s attitude towards Mrs Duffy and people like her. The lesson of ‘Bigotgate’ was that the Labour party is run by people who don’t like Labour voters very much. The open door immigration policy operated by the last Labour government was, no doubt, a boon for the likes of husband and wife Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper who could get a nanny on the cheap. And besides, how many immigrants could afford to live in Highgate? Surely, as they looked out of their bedroom at their neighbours million pound houses, they wondered what all the ‘immigration’ fuss was about.

It was rather different for the low paid people who traditionally make up Labour’s support. They faced competition for low skilled jobs and saw stagnant wages as a result. They saw their public services stretched to breaking point. They saw their communities change beyond recognition. And when Mrs Duffy dared to question the leader of the workingman’s party about all this she was called ‘bigoted’.

And Labour haven’t changed. When David Cameron made a perfectly sensible speech on the failure of ‘state multiculturalism’ Sadiq Khan popped up to accuse him of “writing propaganda for the EDL”. When the coalition put forward the well intentioned but probably ineffectual immigration cap, Labour suggested sticking to their failed old policy.

For all the schmoozing of Mrs Duffy Labour have been doing it is all totally false. They don’t care about her issues and they probably think she is a nutcase. Using her for the failed ambush of Clegg is a low and cynical political stunt.

Why the Labour government is crap

(Written in response to something pro Labour)

Ill be voting Conservative (no shock there). And Ill be doing it on policies, not half baked second hand opinion masquerading as original thought like ‘Oh, theyre a bunch of toffs’. Flip this silly inverted snobbery round; would you say “I wont vote for her, shes only a grocers daughter!”

Were also reminded about Thatchers “decimating” of industry. Well, decimating means (coming from the Latin ‘deci’) a decline of one tenth. In fact, under Thatcher, UK manufacturing fell from 25.8% of the economy to 22.5%; indeed, decimation.

But lets take a look at this Labour government. In 1997 manufacturing accounted for 20% of our economy. By 2007 that had fallen to 12.4%. The Romans never came up with a word for that.

Labour have been an utter economic disaster for this country. Between 2002 and 2007, before a single bank needed bailing out, Labour were running budget deficits. Lest we forget, the economy was growing at the time (based on borrowing). Unemployment was low. Tax receipts were rising. Yet Gordon Brown still managed to spend more than he had coming in.

So, when the storm hit, we were buggered. Someone once described a recession as being like when the tide goes out and you find out who’s been swimming naked. We were well and truly in the bollocky buff.

And we are nowhere near out of the woods. True, the economy has returned to weak growth, but if you throw £175 billion of borrowed cash at a problem youre bound to have an effect. But what effect? Despite the ludicrous assertion above that Labour have “reduce(d) the number of unemployed and (got) people back in to work” we actually have more people unemployed than at any time since the hated Thatcher. We have a rate of economic inactivity which is higher than its ever been before.

Trouble is that you cant go on doing this and you need to stop. If you dont and you keep borrowing then you will see your interest rates go up. Put simply, the Conservatives can deal with this looming meltdown, Labour cant.

And lets not forget the disastrous role the Labour government had in bringing about this recession. In 2003 we switched the inflation target for the Bank of England from the RPI measure (which includes housing costs) to the CPI measure (which doesnt). If wed stuck with the RPI wed have had interest rates go up sooner and choke off the bubble before it reached the stratosphere. Theres alot further to fall from up there.

The economic story of this government can be simply told. They inherited, from the Conservatives in 1997, the best economic climate since before the First World War. They will leave them, in 2010, with the worst economic climate since World War Two.

We are told that Labour “are becoming tougher on immigration”. Phew, well, it only took them 13 years! But this points system only applies to those coming from outside the EU. If you are worried about Poles taking jobs then this points system wont make a blind bit of difference.

We were told about Labour’s shiny new school buildings. Bravo. Sadly the teaching that goes on in them has got worse. The Programme for International Student Assessment compares students from a range of countries. In 2000 the UK ranked 7th in reading, 8th in maths and 4th in science. By 2008 we had slumped to 17th in reading, 24th in maths and 14th in science.

I will agree with vote Conservative “if you want to pay less tax and National Insurance”. Of course, if you want to keep paying high taxes to bail out bankers, then vote Labour by all means.

Which brings us to the NI increase. Why, with unemployment high, do Labour want to put a tax on jobs? They put a tax on fags and cider because they want people to consume less fags and cider. They put a tax on jobs, however, and dont expect employers to consume less labour.

Vote Labour if you want 42 day detention and ID cards. Vote Labour if you want more dodgy wars. Vote Labour if you want more lies about European referendums. Vote Labour if you want a bloated, unproductive public sector to strangle the economy. Vote Labour to see a continuation of mean politics, with attack dogs being turned on everyone from a Conservative MP’s wife to Joanna Lumley and a survivor of the Paddington rail crash. Vote Labour if you want a CCTV camera in every home. Vote Labour if you want five more years of Gordon Brown.