No Minister

Posts Tagged ‘British Conservative Party

Iron Lady? Meet Tin Lizzie

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The recent Tory backdown on cutting taxes, especially the highest rates, sadly came as no surprise to me, even though the wind and noise generated by new Tory PM Liz Truss, was an impressive change from the Green world of Boris.

After several days of the markets shitting themselves over the increased debt and various other forecasts, Liz backtracked. Obviously the Supply Side arguments that worked for Reagan in the early 1980’s – no direct spending cuts to compensate, with economic growth spurred by the tax cuts doing the job instead – did not work this time. Perhaps the Conservative Party, which the Financial Times somehow ridiculously thinks is now the most right-wing party in the world, didn’t support the tax strategy, and threatened Truss’s tenure as PM? It’s what did Thatcher in at the end.

But let’s compare these Massive Tax Cuts to other things that cost the government money.

Oh yeah, that’s some blow to fiscal stability.

Gerard Baker summed it up well in the Wall Street Journal:

You probably wouldn’t have guessed that, after these measures, the size of the U.K. tax burden has gone all the way back to what it was in 2021. . .

Try to shave a little off tax to improve incentives for work and investment and raise Britain’s abysmal productivity, and you are cast by the vast army of U.S. and international financial bureaucrats, socially conscious asset managers and media organizations as a heartless Hayekian tyrant, kicking away the crutches that keep Brits from being consigned to the poorhouse. . .

The wider message for conservatives everywhere: Any effort to depart from the trajectory of expanding government will be met with fierce resistance. Flinch and watch as the ratchet moves higher.

That laughter you hear in the background is me looking at the ACT posters that are already up: Real Tax Cuts.

And as for that Ratchet of State Power, I was amused by this from Guido Fawkes:

“I always knew that it was going to be a political problem. I mean, let’s be honest, this was a political trap that was set by Gordon Brown in the dying days of his role as PM, right. And I paid the 50% tax. I was in business then. And I remember how devastating it was because actually, it meant you were paying about 65% tax. And there’s something in your mind, which is like, really, you know, only 35% for me? And I’m doing all these hours. I was a business person, then it was set as a political trap…. In theory it [the top rate of tax] should never have been there.”
– Foreign Office Minister Gillian Keegan 

A bomb designed to blowup David Cameron twelve years ago finally exploded. As Guido points out, the additional laughter you can hear is that from Gordon Brown.

 Even the IFS’ Paul Johnson thinks in revenue terms “It might plausibly cost nothing at all”The tax was not about raising revenue – it was about political positioning.

Stop laughing. What do you think Labour’s 39% income tax rate on those earning $180,000+ was really all about here in NZ?

I very much doubt that Liz has this poster anywhere near her.

Nor is she probably aware of this speech by Thatcher to the Conservative Party conference in 1980:

It isn’t the State that creates a healthy society. For when the State grows too powerful, people feel that they count for less and less. The State drains society not only of its wealth but of initiative, of energy, the will to improve and innovate, as well as to preserve what is best. But our aim is to let people feel that they count for more and more. If we can’t trust the deepest instincts of our people, we shouldn’t be in politics at all. . .

To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase the “U-turn,” I have only one thing to say: You turn if you want to: The Lady’s not for turning.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 7, 2022 at 10:02 am

What will happen when the “Empire writes back”?

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Fascinating piece on the impact of internet use in India on the English speaking world

TLDR: Some key quotes below but worth a read if you have time

…Indian academics stop thinking that their life’s goal is to “graduate” from India to become part of the western elite, and instead decide to take up their role of being prominent voices of a re-emerging civilizational identity. If and when this happens, India will have a lot of interesting things to say to the world.

Indians, irrespective of region and religion, are still largely a conservative people, who believe in antiquated notions like faith, family, virtues, togetherness of communities, etc.

Indians will not fall in-line on many of the projects of the western liberal elite – call us old-fashioned, but we still believe in boring old concepts like national borders, in organizing society not to maximize the profits of the shareholders or to re-engineer society to achieve ideological ends, but to the benefit of families.

The Western elite and their media houses are already grappling with these unfortunate realities. They look at India and see a billion people who would be conservatives if they lived in their western countries, and that scares the hell out of them.

For those of us of a more conservative bent it is welcome news.

The patronising racism from the likes of Kelvin Davis who believe “brown” people must support the left will become difficult to sustain. Telling ACT’s Karen Chhour that she cannot be a true Maori because she does not agree with leftist propaganda is just racist.

The US and British left are equally guilty. They dismiss true thinkers like Clarence Thomas and Thomas Sowell. What struck me about the UK Tories was how little it mattered or was remarked upon that the last 4 participants in the UK leadership election were not white males. A Labour MP described Kwasi Kwarteng, the new UK Chancellor of the Exchequer of being “superficially black”. He is of Ghanaian heritage. He is very sound.

I look forward to the coming strength of support for families over woke socialist ideology.

Will be I arrested now, or later?

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For posting this on a Social Media website.

Because over in Airstrip One that’s exactly what happened to a 51 year old British Army veteran. You can watch it here.

I think the Police Officer’s Obersturmführer’s words need to be highlighted:

“Someone has been caused anxiety based on your social media post. And that is why you’re being arrested.”

Harry Miller, a former police officer, was also arrested after claiming he had tried to prevent the former serviceman from being detained and his comment is also enlightening:

“…they were trying to extort him for money by making him pay around £80 for educational course so he could downgrade from a crime to a non-crime, which would still show up in a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.”

To be fair a Crime Commissioner for the Hampshire Police did have this to say:

“I am concerned about both the proportionality and necessity of the police’s response to this incident. When incidents on social media receive not one but two visits from police officers, but burglaries and non-domestic break-ins don’t always get a police response, something is wrong.

I wonder what the arrest and conviction rate is in Hampshire for boring old crimes like those, and what the penalties are even when convictions have been successful? I would guess they’re not great since another member of the Police and Crime Commission in the Greater London Authority, Caroline Russell, made it quite clear what priorities she wants the cops to emphasise:

“I hope the Met Police will look into Laurence Fox using pride flags to create nazi imagery and posting the images on a public platform.”

Or as one woman once put it:

 “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them.”

Remember that this is happening with a Tory government in power. Ironically I don’t think the Left are going to be willing to call them Fascists over this issue!

That last article also shows you can do the same thing with the British flag; but that will get you laughs.

Speaking of which, perhaps the best way to fightback is through laughter, as Tucker Carlson shows with a related – but equally inflammatory piece of teenager humour – from America:

Written by Tom Hunter

August 1, 2022 at 10:14 am

Tory Power Stances

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I always love it when one of the American blogs I read makes reference to the British TV comedy series, Blackadder.

Now admittedly they’re keying off these photos of various grandees in the British Conservative Party which in turn was die to some recent snarknews from the UK site of the Huffington Post.

Which the blog immediately associated with this scene.

The stance has been around for several years.

Why do Tories keep standing like this? [Metro – 4/30/2018]

I guess it’s part of their heritage.

That’s from the episode, Sense and Senility, (which seems so appropriate now for America) and reading that Wiki entry I see there is a section added about power posing, complete with a 2018 link to (of course) The Guardian, who never miss a chance for a shot at the Tories.

Fair enough too in this case. Plonkers!

A few years ago friends visited us in NZ from the USA and their three teenagers had never seen the show so it was funny to hear them saying, “That’s Mr Bean” (Rowan Atkinson) and “That’s ‘House'” (Laurie). They enjoyed it though.

The episode I showed them was not the one pictured here but the first one of the third series, dealing with …. politics. It’s become a family tradition that after each NZ and US Presidential election we sit down to watch “Dish and Dishonesty”, which I swear to God has become a more accurate take on politics with every passing year. Don’t believe me? Check out the scene of Blackadder entering Baldrick’s MP Candidate application.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 28, 2022 at 11:01 am

The Tory Contenders

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I have no idea who any of these people are but I like the cartoon. It’s from the UK Spectator article, Boris is gone: the leadership contest now begins:

The Tories are caught in a trap. One influential Tory MP who voted for Johnson in the no-confidence ballot told me, with a mixture of exhaustion and despair: ‘Please God, make it stop.’ That sums up the mood. The Tories had been hoping for some kind of divine intervention because they do not know what else to do. They knew they wanted Johnson gone – but hadn’t much discussed what happens next.

Business as usual for political parties, whose long-term vision sometimes extends as far as the next election.

It’s a sign of the times for the Tories that it’s still much more fun reading about Boris than any of his possible successors. Good reading on the subject here at Quillette, including a cracker of a quote:

Those who voted for him in 2019—unless blind, deaf or over-generous to the point of idiocy—knew very well what they were getting. Boris Johnson was the bodger, the gaffe-monger, the overgrown schoolboy who steals all the sweets and second helpings for himself, then diffuses your annoyance with spaniel eyes and a solar smile. This was not a political titan or a man of any particular conviction. He was not even someone you’d trust in the back of a taxi with your wife or daughter. “Boris is the life and soul of the party,” his cabinet colleague Amber Rudd once remarked, “but he’s not the man you want driving you home at the end of the evening.”

Plus a link to the brilliant Conservative election advertisement that ripped off the famous scene from the movie Love Actually.

It worked.

Would the electorate plump for frivolity or severity? On December 12th it delivered an unambiguous response. The British people preferred five years cavorting with P.G. Wodehouse than locked up with John Bunyan.

Following Labour’s historic election defeat (the worst for nearly 100 years), the Corbynites’ appalled indignation resembled that of someone bested in love by a caddish arch-rival. Hadn’t they combed their hair, professed their anti-racism, and held the door for their beloved—or, better still, had they not explained that holding open doors is sexist? Why then had she gone home instead with the boorish male chauvinist pig who had arrived late bellowing rugby songs?

The article goes on to point out that where this crashed was when this fun-loving, quipping, boorish approach failed to mesh well with Covid lockdowns and mask mandates. The opening and closing paragraphs of that article are lovely.

Then there’s this article from The National Pulse, which examines the impact of his third wife, Carrie, on him – and the rest of the Conservative Party. Now I get more than a little irritated when misogynist bullshit emerges about the influence of a wife or lover on some male political figure, as some sort of excuse or reason for what they do and don’t do, let alone their self-induced problems; Nancy and Ronald Reagan, Cherie and Tony Blair, Hillary and Bill Clinton. It’s a tale at least as old as Lady Macbeth’s “Out damned spot. Out I say”, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth to it as well:

Carrie, a former Conservative Party HQ communications staffer and official at the Clinton Foundation-linked Oceana, immediately corrupted what little semblance of conservatism Johnson once had, as only a third wife can. The speed at which Carrie operated, I’m told, is impressive. And almost every single scandal had her bungling fingerprints all over it. Often, as she gifted him terrible advice, she would brief the opposite to the media, covering her backside along the way.

Finally there’s this article from the always superb City Journal, which, while listing some of his successes, nails another problem with Boris – a policy problem this time, while hinting that it’s actually a problem with the “Conservatives” (and the GOP in America and….) as the writer observes that the next leader will have to deal with what Boris has left behind:

stagnation, high inflation and taxation, an incompetent state more preponderant in the economy than ever before, and indebtedness on a vast scale, thanks to money-printing and a corrupt (and corrupting) government largesse.

Having spent much of his career mocking the absurdities of extreme environmentalism, Johnson did an abrupt U-turn and shackled the British economy with his net-zero carbon emissions policy, putting a halt to hydrocarbon prospection at precisely the worst moment in history to do so. 

Remember that in this description we’re reading of a Conservative British government rather than a New Zealand Labour one.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 9, 2022 at 3:10 pm


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UPDATE: Anybody wishing to track this story should be looking at the best political blog in Britain, Guido Fawkes (Parliamentary Plots and Conspiracy). I rather like that the actual URL for the blog is “”

The Spectator is not kind even as they praise his ability to craft a phrase to frame things how he wants them:

‘Them’s the breaks’ casts Boris Johnson as a batsman who went for a match-winning shot to drive the boundary but somehow edged the ball to second slip where it might even have touched the grass before being caught. Oh bad luck, old chap – good on you for trying.

‘Them’s the breaks’ leads us away from the fact that Johnson is out because he turned up late without his kit, ran out most of his batting partners, repeatedly refused to walk and told the umpire to do one.

Those three words also lead us to a certain idea of Johnson the man: a happy-go-lucky English bluffer who thought he’d have a crack at this governing lark but couldn’t quite make a go of it. Oh well, onwards and upwards and all that.

To a lot of people, this idea of Johnson as an amateurish dilettante who doesn’t really care is wildly infuriating.

I love it when politics is predictable.

It’s been obvious for months, as the scandals built up, that Boris was on thin ice. It became even more obvious after his no-confidence motion where he won by a simple margin. Such things need to be won by an overwhelming margin in order to be settled. From the moment he “won”, he was politically dead.

In a just world he would have been dumped from the moment news broke about the fabulous party held at No.10 – while the country was supposedly locked down for Chinese Lung Rot on orders of the Boris Johnson government.

To a certain extent I can’t blame him. Who doesn’t want to party, especially in grim circumstances, and especially when you know that Chinese Lung Rot isn’t that dangerous and that social distancing and masks are useless. 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

Still, there’s the double standards and hypocrisy, but that almost never kills a politician. As usual in politics it’s being caught in a flat-out lie, and not for a single crime but a build up of multiple and similar crimes. These things take time – and then turn into a cascade:

Johnson initially denied reports that he had received a complaint that MP Chris Pincher allegedly groped guests at private gatherings over the past eight months – a man he later elevated to deputy chief whip. However, Lord Simon McDonald of Salford, the former head of the diplomatic services, said Johnson was made aware of the complaints, forcing Johnson to instead claim he “forgot.”

The United Kingdom woke on Thursday morning to more than 50 members of government leaving their posts, including five cabinet ministers.

Sex eh?. And not even Boris having sex, as glorified in some minor British play about the news industry that referred to Boris by having a prime lecher that resembled him, with a wall-mounted bed covered with Thatcher’s face that came down on the floor, ready for action, when a rope was pulled – and after the hotty of the day had been prepped. The frequency with which the bed hit the floor was a running gag.

Fifty members and five cabinet members is a loss rate that I think is unprecedented in UK government history, but it’s not my focus so I shall await commentators to correct me.

I always appreciate Mark Steyn’s take on things, and since he actually knew Boris three decades ago it adds weight:

Is he a nice person? Well, he’s left an awful lot of human wreckage in his wake. Some of the women he’s used and discarded seem to me, without naming names, to be sad and profoundly damaged from their brief intersection with his wandering zipper. 

What does he believe in? Other than himself, not terribly much.

Heh, heh. heh. Boris Johnson, like Donald Trump, is a great example of how Right-wingers usually feel about their politicians (but sometimes don’t); politicians are tools that we voters use to get what we want. By contrast the Left almost always fall into Great Leader Worship, especially if they win elections. In my lifetime I’ve seen it with David Lange, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Jacinda Ardern – and especially Barack Obama. It’s also why the Leftie letdown is so bad when such leaders prove to have feet of clay.

Boris was what British voters needed to get Brexit, end of story. After that he was merely an intelligent, erudite and entertaining clown – who could fuck off ASAP.

What makes it funny is that Boris was, supposedly, quite the globalist himself for a time – until he saw May floundering on Brexit and saw his chance for the brass ring.

He was going on the BBC’s “Question Time” that night and was worried that he didn’t have anything sufficiently arresting to say, so asked if I had any tips. I gave him a few thoughts on the passing scene, and he considered them not in terms of his own public-policy positions (if any) but in terms of attitudinal cachet. Finally, I said, “Why don’t you really stir them up and put in a word for social conservatism?”

“You mean abortion and all that? Oh, God..,” he sighed, and ordered dessert.

Yeah, but Brexit and a savvy media team managed to score him a huge victory, winning seats that the Tory’s had not won in a hundred years, breaching the Red Wall (remember we’re talking Britain here; Labour=Red) because of voters who objected to Brussel’s controlling them, and shocking the Centre-Left who had, hilariously, bought into the neo-liberal, globalist dream of free markets and the rest in the 1990’s as Tony Blair completely surrendered to Margaret Thatcher so as to regain power after 18 years in the wilderness.

And then he utterly squandered an eighty-seat majority. As I concluded that post-2018-election piece:
It would be nice to think that the Conservative Party might now think it safe to offer a bit of conservatism. But that would be too much to hope for…

And so it proved.

Do you like irony? I love it.

Anyway, enjoy that combination of clips that shows – once again – how accurate the great British series, Yes Minister (our namesake), was in portraying politicians.


Heh! Courtesy of commentator Lucia Maria.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 8, 2022 at 12:07 pm

Hot Girl Rules

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No, not him, although we’ll get back to The Covid Rules and Boris in a bit.

No, the Hot Girl Rules are the unspoken set of protocols across the Western world that mean that if you’re a hot girl you can get away with a lot of stuff that nobody else can.

Like being the Prime Minister of a country, going clubbing until 4am and leaving your phone at home so you can’t be contacted. Which then proves awkward when your Foreign Minister tests positive with Chinese Lung Rot and your officials try calling to say that you need to quarantine because you’ve been exposed.

That’s the women we’re talking about. Sanna Marin, PM of Finland at 36 years of age. She said she didn’t get the message, which I frankly think is a lie, what Millennial would be found without a phone on them. I think she just wanted to keep on clubbing. Good on her too!

Oh, she’s apologised but that’s a formality to keep the press off her back. I’m sure that she’s not sorry at all, and again, good on her.

So perhaps I’m applying Hot Girl Rules when I say that I can laugh off this incident while also being pissed off at the number of rulers around the world who have clearly ignored the C-19 lockdown rules they’ve imposed on their populations. I’ve covered this before with the numerous and ongoing incidents, starting with Britain’s very own fear-monger, Neil Ferguson and his booty calls, as well as the stunts pulled by SF Mayor, London Breed, CA Governor Newsom, and fundraisers and parties thrown by Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama, as well as the Met Ball: all unmasked Democrats, all servants were masked.

The latest to be outed is the British Tory PM, Boris Johnson, who had a very nice Christmas Party last year at the PM’s residence, No. 10 Downing Street: 40 to 50 people gathered, cheek-by-jowl with no masks. While at the same time:

… the law banned all indoor gatherings of two or more people. And though exceptions could be made for business meetings, the government’s guidance made clear that it was forbidden to hold a work Christmas party. While it is true that the Covid regulations were so fiendishly complex that at times even the authorities struggled to understand them, the no-Christmas-party rule was helpfully shared by the government’s Twitter account on the day before the Downing Street gathering.

There were a whole lot of other harsh government rules about what you could not do, that left people feeling more isolated and oppressed than they had in The Blitz. You can read the details at that link.

There was no area of life too important or trivial to escape the health minister’s glare. This was, as Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Hickinbottom put it, ‘possibly the most restrictive regime on the public life of persons and businesses ever’.

But what’s worse is video recently leaked to ITV, of another little meeting that occurred a few days after the Christmas event, which that Spike article above correctly titles:

They’re laughing at us. Literally. The PM’s former spokeswoman, Allegra Stratton, has been caught red-handed and red-faced on camera, joking about how best to deceive the public about the alleged Christmas party in Downing Street last year.

Perhaps they could call it a ‘business meeting’, she muses in the now infamous video leaked to ITV, filmed just days after the denied gathering took place. Another Downing Street aide offers: ‘It wasn’t a party, it was cheese and wine.’ ‘This is recorded’, Stratton reminds the room, before laughing again. Oh, how they laugh.

Moreover, they’re laughing at us while smashing us over the head with cudgels:

A day before Downing Street’s Christmas party, police broke up a wedding of 40 or so people in Barking. The Met Police are currently prosecuting a gathering in Ilford held on the exact same day as the Downing Street bash. The fine for larger gatherings was, at this point, a life-ruining £10,000.

Johnson has “apologised” for the video and says he’s “furious” about it. Politicians usually are when their minions so thoroughly show them up. I regard all politicians as being useful in the same way that toilet facilities are; you use them and move on. Boris was useful for winning an election and thereby executing Brexit. But that’s it. He has the same depth of belief in civil liberties and freedom that Jacinda Ardern, Joe Biden, Dan Andrews, and a host of others have. That is to say, freedom for them and their friends, not us. There’s also been press outrage but:

Now that the Downing Street party has been exposed, there has been an orgy of misplaced self-righteousness. The media cannot hide their glee at the scandal. But we know that some lobby journalists were at that party. And we know journalists have been caught out on past occasions, too. Often it has been the same journalists who spent every Covid press conference baying for harsher measures, tighter restrictions and ever-longer lockdown. They never raised any issue with the life-denying rules. They are laughing at us now, too.

Are our rulers really so certain that we live in such rarefied times that they face no prospect of being hung from a gibbet, guillotined, or just lined up against a wall and shot by the angry mob they’ve incited? Perhaps they’re that confident in their surveillance systems and informers (especially the C-19 ones), combined with the rich, lazy apathy that modern capitalism has created?

There’s one thing that they’ve certainly got in their back-pocket, at least in Britain (and likely in New Zealand as well) and that is the very public that’s now angry with Boris and company:

A ComRes poll found that 69% support vaccine passports, compared to just 10% who oppose the scheme, despite the fact that the UK government’s own study found that vaccine passports don’t work.

Co-dependency I think it’s called? Battered wife syndrome? Or perhaps there are more subjects among us than we know who crave the sting and control of a Madame Lash.

I’ll leave you with another photo of the rather lovely Ms Marin, because beauty assuages anger. Perhaps that’s why Hot Girls Rule?

A warning from the recent past

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I admit that I don’t have a lot of time for Jordan Petersen, the Canadian professor of psychology who has gained quite a bit of media fame in recent years since his famous interview on BBC TV about the fight between free speech and the growing constraints on words that are “permitted” for use. In that case the interview was over his objection to being forced to use “gender-neutral” words in Canada and he rather made a fool of the interviewer and her “So what you’re saying” schtick! It’s worth watching.

But I’d read his first book, Maps of Meaning, years before and found it to be such unreadable wank that I quit just two chapters in. To me it actually seemed to have been influenced by the very obscurantist clap-trap of post-modernism that feeds so much of the Politically Correct (now “Woke”) and Identity Politics bullshit we’re being fed.

Still, this would hardly be the the first time that a person I consider wrong on some issues gets other things right, and the following is one of them. It’s actually from a few years ago and is an interview on the Joe Rogan Show where he talks about how people get slowly manipulated in the modern era with small-scale propaganda and efforts rather than the vast, revolutionary leaps used in the past.

“If I encroach on you and I’m sophisticated about it, I’m going to encroach right to the point where you start to protest. Then I’m going to stop. Then I’m going to wait. Then you’re going to calm down, and I’m going to encroach again right to the point where you protest.”

“Then I’m going to stop, then I’m going to wait. I’m just going to do this forever,” explained Peterson. “Before you know it, I’m going to be back three miles from where you started, and I’ll have done this one step at a time. Then you’ll go, ‘how did I get here?’ and the answer was, well, I pushed you a little further than you should’ve gone.

The Joe Rogan Show itself is an example of pushback as the former actor has turned himself into a “radio” personality. Or more accurately I should say an Internet personality via his podcasts that have numbers of viewers and listeners that traditional MSM sources would kill for. Rogan himself appears to be getting increasingly red-pilled away from his traditional Hollywood “liberal” beliefs on various issues.

Incidentally the process described by Petersen here is merely a version of “Nudge Theory”, which got a big public push in 2008 with the book Nudge:

The book draws on research in psychology and behavioral economics to defend libertarian paternalism and active engineering of choice architecture. The book also popularised the concept of nudge theory. A nudge, according to Thaler and Sunstein is any form of choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without restricting options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must require minimal intervention and must be cheap.

Without restricting options or changing economic incentives! Hahahaahhaahah.

A “nudge unit” is already inside the current British Government, as described by Brian Easton in this Pundit article, and the head of that unit has visited New Zealand several times, so it is not a surprise to find on the website for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, a section on Behavioural insights.

As one critic noted of the whole theory:

If the “nudgee” can’t be depended on to recognize his own best interests, why stop at a nudge? Why not offer a “push,” or perhaps even a “shove”? And if people can’t be trusted to make the right choices for themselves how can they possibly be trusted to make the right decisions for the rest of us?[31]

Well if they’re credentialed enough then the assumption is that they can be. Whether credentialed equals educated, let alone wise is a larger, often unasked question.

Naturally Brian wonders if we’re “nudging enough” and I expect he’s fully in favour of many a “shove”.

Advice from the peanut gallery

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There’s an interesting post this morning from the Point of Order blog, David Seymour and Judith Collins meet Daniel Hannan.

The article talks of the fusion between Liberal and Conservative politics, using the British Conservative MP Hannan as one of the more clear-headed and articulate examples.

Basically it’s giving advice to both New Zealand political leaders, while also taking a rather subtle swipe at them:

“We classical liberals were few enough before 2020. The median voter was always to our Left on economic issues and to our Right on cultural ones. As is often pointed out, the political centre of gravity in Britain is ‘fund the NHS, hang the paedos’. The epidemic has made us even more of a minority. Around the world, people are more frightened and therefore more authoritarian.”

“Thatcher’s brand of Manchester liberalism never colonised the Conservative Party. At best, it formed a contingent alliance with mainstream Toryism – an unequal alliance, it should be added, for the free-marketeers were always the minority.

This reminded me another recent Spectator article focusing on ructions within the US Republican Party, where the Never-Trumpers appear to be fighting a rear-guard action, but which quoted Thatcher:

At the level of principle, rhetorically and in Opposition, it opposed these (left-wing Labour Party doctrines of planning, regulation, controls and subsidies) … and preached the gospel of free enterprise with very little qualification. 

Almost every post-war Tory victory had been won on slogans such as ‘Britain Strong and Free’ or ‘Set the People Free’. But in the fine print of policy, and especially in government, the Tory Party merely pitched camp in the long march to the left. It never tried seriously to reverse it. Privatization? The Carlisle State Pubs were sold off. Taxation? Regulation? Subsidies? If these were cut down at the start of a Tory government, they gradually crept up again as its life ebbed away. The welfare state? We boasted of spending more money than Labour, not of restoring people to independence and self-reliance. 

The result of this style of accommodationist politics, as my colleague Keith Joseph complained, was that post-war politics became a ‘socialist ratchet’ — Labour moved Britain towards more statism; the Tories stood pat; and the next Labour Government moved the country a little further left. The Tories loosened the corset of socialism; they never removed it.

The Conservative MP’s who allowed this to happen naturally became Thatcher’s opponents and they were known as “The Wets”, a term that Thatcher herself coined that has come to describe all such Right-Wing politicians in the Western world. Thatcher’s formidable personality, intellect and the sheer brute force of election success, kept these people on the back foot through the 1980’s. They got their revenge in forcing her to step down at the end of 1990 and appeared to have “won back” the party with the rise of the hopeless John Major, followed by an unexpected close victory in the 1992 general election. Until the rise of Brexit they once again became the face of the party, as they had been pre-Thatcher.

That article also included a quick vignette of the similar opposition that faced Ronald Reagan in the 1970’s from the old guard of the Republican Party. Reading the following is a reminder of what the status quo of mainstream Right Wing parties always amounts to:

  • Vice President Nelson Rockefeller dismissed Reagan as “a minority of a minority” who “has been taking some extreme positions.”
  • New York’s Republican Senator Jacob Javits: Reagan’s positions are “so extreme that they would alter our country’s very economic and social structure and our place in the world to such a degree as to make our country’s place at home and abroad, as we know it, a thing of the past.”
  • Illinois Republican Senator Charles Percy said Reagan’s candidacy was “foolhardy” and would lead to a “crushing defeat” for the Republican Party. “It could signal the beginning of the end of our party as an effective force in American political life.”
  • Former President Gerald Ford: “I hear more and more often that we don’t want, can’t afford to have a replay of 1964.” If the Republican Party nominates Ronald Reagan “it would be an impossible situation” because Reagan “is perceived as a most conservative Republican. A very conservative Republican can’t win in a national election.” Asked if that meant Ford thought Reagan can’t win, Ford replied to the New York Times: “That’s right.” The Times story went on to observe that Ford thought “Mr. Reagan would be a sure-loser in November” and that Reagan held “extreme and too-simple views.”

I appreciated the above points being concisely summarised in this quote:

In other words, there’s nothing new here with this alarmism about “political extremism” from GOP Establishment figures about a conservative outsider and his supporters having the nerve — the nerve! — to invade what they see as their private club.

A club with the best manners and temperament too. Quiet. Civil. Good food and drink and good conversation that stimulates the mind but does not upset the stomachs of well fed and credentialed people. One can go home from the club, there to read the newspaper and chuckle about the silly things the Leftists are getting up too, while knowing that it’s really nothing important to get upset about or – god forbid – fight against.

To sum it all up? The Renew America Movement is nothing more than the umpteenth rejection of conservatives by Establishment Republicans. They stand for the socialist ratchet. They are the embodiment of what Reagan called the “pale pastel” Republicans.

Reagan and Thatcher the extremists eh? Perhaps, but to borrow a phrase from our Lefty brethren, they were on the right side of history.

Written by Tom Hunter

October 16, 2021 at 9:52 am

The British Lockdown

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George Orwell set his dystopian story, Nineteen Eighty-Four, in Britain for the simple reason that it was the place and people he knew best.

But while other nations actually did suffer something close to that horror story I’ve always thought that the particular nature of the British people was better suited to the tale than most others around the world. The buttoned-down conformity, the in-built Class structure and its forelock tugging, the Boxer-like attitude towards enduring while being screwed over by higher powers.

For all of Simon Schama’s lofty talk about the long history of the British people’s fight that “tied together social justice with bloody-minded liberty“, and some recent evidence of the latter in the Brexit vote, the response to their government’s lockdown of the nation to deal with the Wuhan Flu has been sad to see.

In a superb piece at Spiked Online, editor Brendan O’Neill explores aspects of the damage this has done to Airstrip One

Covid Britain feels like a one-party state. Normal political life has been suspended. Political protest and industrial action have been banned. Even small gatherings that question the ruling ideology of this strange new nation – the ideology of lockdown – are violently broken up. Witness the police brutality that was visited upon lockdown sceptics in Hyde Park a few days ago. You dissent at your peril. 

The role of the citizen in the Covid dystopia is to applaud the state, not question it. Every Thursday night, on your doorsteps or your balconies, you must clap for the benevolent state and its gracious health service. Big Brother loves you and you must love it back. Vast propaganda billboards remind us of this duty.

But he points out the degree to which blaming the government or the Police is diverting responsibility:

Snitching is the only thriving business. By the end of April, British police forces had received 214,000 calls from Covid Britain’s willing army of spies. ‘Always the eyes watching you’, as Winston Smith put it.

There will be no hugging of people from outside your household until autumn at the earliest, says Matt Hancock, the secretary of state for human touch. A survey found that some people (possibly as high as one in five) are breaking lockdown to have sexual intercourse. Sex is an illicit activity in Covid Britain, as in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Hancock is our one-man Junior Anti-Sex League keeping a watchful eye over citizens and their wandering hands. In Orwell’s dystopia, ‘the sexual act, successfully performed, was rebellion’. Same here. Just ask Neil Ferguson.

To be fair to the British I’d bet there’s been a lot of booty calls going on that breeched the lockdown rules. The old instincts never run far below the surface of civility.

But O’Neill points out that, aside from instinctive desires, there’s been almost no thinking opposition:

Public debate has disintegrated. Do not for one minute be fooled by the noisy media discussions of the government’s failures or the pantomime yelling matches between TV presenters

All of this takes place within the lockdown ideology. The only ‘dissenting’ view you may hold in Covid Britain is that the lockdown didn’t come early enough / wasn’t severe enough / is being eased too early. The media-government spats over the Covid crisis are the narcissism of small differences.

In lockdown Britain, there’s one way to think and one way to behave. You must accept the lockdown or risk being demonised as a hateful individual and possibly being beaten by the police.

Sounds familar, even from our comments section. And as Public debate collapses so too does Political debate:

Every clash and row takes place within the parameters of acceptable thought. Genuinely demurring voices are notable by their absence. Lockdown scepticism is staggeringly absent. Jacob Rees-Mogg is right to say that MPs must get off their Zoom calls and physically return to the Commons. 

But it isn’t their physical absence that’s the problem – it’s their intellectual absence. Where are the voices for reason and liberty and a return to work and production? The speed and thoroughness with which our allegedly conflictual political system was bent to a singular, myopic cause raises profound questions about the health of our democracy.

He points out that the lockdown long ago achieved its objective of “flattening the curve” so that hospitals were not overwhelmed, and that people cooperated with that. But the cases never came in the numbers predicted, hospitals are now half-empty, and lockdown has now become something else entirely:

…lockdown has become a political, ideological cause, not a medical one, on to which so many of the elite’s prejudices – about the harmfulness of economic growth, the undesirability of mass society, the unimportance of liberty, the need for mass compliance to expert advice – have been projected. The lockdown is now separate from the pandemic. It has its own logic. It is the ruling ideology of our age.

As with other societies that have gone down this route, it has been enabled through fear multiplied far beyond what science said:

Government adviser Professor Robert Dingwall is right to say that officials have ‘effectively terrorised’ people into believing that coronavirus will kill them. We have been incited to fear not only a disease, but each other. Misanthropy is the fuel of the lockdown ideology. Steer clear of people. Do not touch them. Do not sit next to them. They might be diseased. And you might be diseased.

And similarly the result may end up backfiring on the conservative government because such terror has worked too well.

Polls show that many people are now reluctant to go back to normal life. Many want schools to remain closed. There is fear about returning to work. Things are so bad that the government is having to redirect its resources, away from terrorising us to stay indoors towards trying to coax us to come out again.

Return to your tasks subjects! The economy needs your enterprise and labour. The Welfare State needs your taxes.

Johnson himself is quoted as joking that “I’ve learnt that it is much easier to take people’s freedoms away than give them back.”, to which O’Neill responds pungently:

That isn’t funny. The use of terror to cow much of the public, decimate economic life and suspend everyday liberty is not a joking matter. Terror has consequences, especially in a situation where any form of meaningful dissent from the terror was demonised and even criminalised.

One of the most pathetic aspects of the old communist regimes was that their leaders always ended up wondering why The People slowly turned away from their slogans and exhortations and turned to drink and apathy. They seemed surprised that decades of fear and terror and repression and ugliness should induce such behaviour.

It would be ironic if the same thing happened to the victors of the Cold War, and it would be richly deserved.