In the meantime here is an article by Allister Heath, Editor of City AM, one of the remaining freebie newspapers in London that concentrates on financial and economic matters. Readers of this blog will not be surprised to learn that I agree with the title: Tory Economic Plan is a Damp Squib. So far, all the Tory plans have been damp squibs except when they have no plan at all as for instance in the problem of the European Union.
Have we not been told at length by the Conservative leadership, party members and various friendly commentators that the economy is the most important issue and one that voters care about more than any other? Mostly that is true and Her Majesty's Opposition should come up with some ideas that would at least interest that electorate.
As Allister Heath says:
It should have been an important moment, the day the Tories unveiled their masterplan to sort out the economy. So it was with some trepidation that I turned to George Osborne’s 23-page document, tantalisingly entitled “A new economic model”. I shouldn’t have bothered: the report is a damp squib. A few of the proposals are great; most are fluffy; some are downright bad; none are new.I suppose we should be grateful for a few non-new great proposals and Mr Heath enumerates them in the last paragraph of his article. But they are lost among all the fluff and fudge. There is a problem at the heart of those proposals:
For the last decade, the Tories rightly argue, “growth was too dependent on government spending and debt-fuelled consumption. A sustainable recovery must be driven by growth in exports and business investment.” Yet they won’t commit to reversing Labour’s hike in national insurance; will keep the 50p tax indefinitely (worryingly, they are now portraying it as a quid pro quo for a one-year public sector pay freeze); won’t free up the economy or jobs market; remain wedded to extreme environmentalism; won’t reverse any of Labour’s hundreds of tax hikes; and will rely too much on gimmicks such as mentoring schemes for entrepreneurs.So why, apart from a well merited dislike of Gordon Brown and his merry men and women, should anyone vote for this sorry lot?
Britain, of course, is not the only country to have economic problems though I shall leave Greece and the other Club Med countries alone for the moment. There are the various East European countries, known as that because they became members of the European Union rather a lot later than the West European countries. One has to say this because of the number of people who demand to know why one refers to East Europeans as one group.
In fact, writing about any of those countries is quite problematic and one may as well accept all the flat that is thrown in one's direction. The most difficult country of all of them to write about is Poland, not least because Poles agree on one thing only: nobody appreciates them or understands them. They disagree on what the understanding and appreciation should be. This article in the Economist (by, I suspect, Edward Lucas) sums up the whole dilemma in a highly amusing fashion. Read it all. There is no point in quoting various paragraphs. The comments, particularly the ones attached to Polish names prove the poing.
My last and most important link is to an article on a completely different subject though not unrelated to the problems of Eastern Europe.
Glenn Beck's immensely popular programme on Fox News Channel has recently featured and hour long documentary with the title you do not see very often on MSM channels: The Revolutionary Holocaust. It looked at the human cost of those benign systems, so applauded by Western intellectuals, academics, politicians and media pundits, Stalin's Soviet Union, Mao's China, Castro's Cuba, Ho Chi Minh's Vietnam and so on.
Needless to say, the programme was greeted with some outrage as well as sniffy superiority by those self-same academics, intellectuals etc etc. Glenn Beck, they said in superior tones, is merely a TV hack; who is he to lecture us on this subject. Well, the answer is that Glenn Beck seems to have done his homework (I am relying on other people's accounts) and got knowledgeable writers. In other words he did not simply ignore all the literature that told the truth about the Communist system. Using the word holocaust was clever, too.
Here is Jamie Glazov, descendant of Stalin's victims and child of later dissidents, thanking Glenn Beck for telling the truth and standing up to the people who have dismissed the suffering of tens of millions of people as they still dismiss everything that is not part of their narrow, self-centred world view.
I find Mr Glazov's account of the Western intelligentsia's attitude to him and his parents rather familiar, having had to put up with a great many similar comments myself and having heard about other people's experiences.
Both of my grandfathers were exterminated by Stalinist terror. Both of my parents, Yuri and Marina Glazov, were dissidents in the former Soviet Union. They risked their lives for freedom; they stood up against Soviet totalitarianism. They barely escaped the gulag, a fortune many of our friends and relatives did not share. I come from a system where a myriad of the closest people to my family simply disappeared, where relatives and family friends died under interrogation and torture for their beliefs — or for simply nothing at all.Yeah, what could be worse than being oppressed by Pepsi commercials? Read the whole piece. Well worth it.
Now try to imagine me sitting in the company of left-wing “intellectuals” in the West who think they are oppressed. This is my lifelong experience. I remember one radical feminist, whom I sat next to in a graduate student lounge, lecturing me sternly about how women in the West are oppressed because they wear bikinis on beaches; with a reprimanding tone, she explained to me that this represented the way capitalism objectifies women, marginalizes them from spheres of power, and metaphorically decapitates them as human beings. I remember asking her what she thought of female genital mutilation and honor killings in the Muslim world. To this I received a stone-cold silence and a frightening hateful stare, a stare with which I have become accustomed: I would be confined to a gulag or a psychiatric hospital if this particular individual had the power to place me there. This would be done for the good of society of course. My question was heresy: she could not, naturally, admit that evil adversarial cultures and ideologies existed — under which women truly suffer real oppression — for if she did, then she would have to sacrifice her entire worldview and personal identity.
Another colleague of mine, with great moral indignation and personal angst, once complained to me about how we are being “attacked” by Pepsi commercials. “By trying to tell us that we are not cool if we don’t drink Pepsi,” he agonized, “the capitalist machinery practices the politics of exclusion. By trying to pretend it offers us choice, it actually negates choice.”
My mom’s father was executed by the Soviet secret police. He did not have the luxury of being oppressed by Pepsi commercials.