Thursday, October 31, 2013

That Brexit Prize

The shortlist has been announced by the IEA and I am delighted to note that the Boss, who has done more work on the subject than anyone else is on it. Go Team EUReferendum though I am not, personally, a great fan of crowd-sourcing: it leads to a great deal of self-satisfaction and mutual back-slapping.

The other name I am very pleased to see on the list is that of James Bennett, who has been described by no less a person than Andrew Roberts as the "godfather of Anglospherism". Jim (another friend), I know, submitted a paper that saw the UK's future in the Anglosphere, an idea I strongly support, as readers of this blog (both of them) might recall.

My submission? Well, it went in at the last minute, having been written in the last couple of hours. So, no, it did not deserve to be shortlisted, whatever the other submissions on that list might be like. There is, however, an advantage to that: I am not constrained by the rules any more and shall be able to post my submission on this blog later on. That is, assuming I can find it in my folders.

In the meantime, one or two curious aspects can be noted and I have already discussed them with the Boss, when I called to congratulate him. There were only 149 submissions and only 100 of them, conveniently, from the UK. Does this mean that there really is so very little interest in the subject in this country? Or that too many people have accepted the ridiculous notion that all we need is a referendum and all our problems will be solved? If so, the work of the various referendum campaigns has been done. Or does the problem lie in the lack of publicity? We, in the echo chamber of euroscepticism knew all about the Brexit Prize but did anybody else pay attention, despite several media outlets mentioning it at the time?

So far as I can make it out the publication of the shortlist has been noted in CityAM and nowhere else, not even in the outlets that had publicized the launch in July.

Another curious fact is that instead of the promised twenty only seventeen were shortlisted. Is it really possible that the panel could not find another three entries of a similar calibre?

Monday, October 28, 2013

An apology

I am aware that the gap in the postings has been wider than ever and the reason for that is purely technical. I was having very serious problems with unwanted advertising that swamped websites and, in particular, Blogger whenever I wanted to use it. The problems have been solved (D. V.) and I shall re-start blogging in a very short time, possibly hours. I'd like to think that I have spent the intervening period in cogitating about the nature and purpose of this blog.

Monday, October 21, 2013

San Marino is not coming in

The tiny city state of San Marino is not coming into the EU and is not even going to negotiate. Its referendum on whether to apply for membership had such a poor turn-out (20 per cent) that by the state's constitution the result is invalid. That is a remarkably low turn-out but the problem has arisen before and was ignored in the past. San Marino is clearly more of a stickler for constitutional niceties than other countries.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

More on Brigadier Cowgill

Though my last posting was largely a dissection of the noble Lord Leach and his pretensions, so avidly backed by the Evening Standard, to being the leader of the more intellectual branch of the eurosceptic movement, it also referred briefly to the man who has been described as the unsung hero of it, Brigadier Anthony Cowgill MBE.

All of us who knew Tony Cowgill, his indefatigable work, his determined stubbornness to get the at the truth and to overcome the "gobbledegook" presented by the EU and its various supporters and, above all, his unfailing charm and courtesy miss him a great deal. The cause misses him.

His work on the EU started in 1992 when he had reached an age at which most people would consider retiring and taking things easy. Not Tony. He and his son Andrew laboured mightily to produce annotated versions of the various treaties, whether the government wanted us to read the text and understand it or not (mostly not). I am very proud to say that in the days when texts were not available on the internet but only in hard copy I was instrumental on several occasions in getting those pages to Tony and his son Andrew as soon as possible from the Parliamentary offices.

Discussing Tony Cowgill with a friend yesterday I was reminded of his role in creating a business organization that opposed Britain's entry into the euro. This is what said friend, a journalist (hint: he has a regular column in the Sunday Telegraph) wrote:
The Brigadier had been after the CBI for some time over its bogus polls trying to show that "business" was generally in favour of the EU, although when you looked at the small print the polls showed very serious and growing dissatisfaction with the workings of the single market, over-regulation etc. Then they trumpeted that the biggest yet poll was to be carried out by Bob Worcester and MORI with special reference to Britain joining the euro. Tony had one of his fatherly talks with Worcester and pointed out that it would do his professional standing no good if he gave his name and prestige to a much-publicised poll that would, on the CBI's track record, be presented as no more than a shameless propaganda exercise. Shortly afterwards, Worcester told Tony that he had withdrawn from his arrangement with the CBI (as was publicised by certain malicious journalists at the time, well one of them at least), and the much-vaunted poll was never carried out.

At the same time, Tony had ensured that his reporting on the CBI's chicanery with its polls was passed on to various key CBI members, including Stanley Kalms (now Lord Kalms)and also a regional branch which made a big stink about what head office was up to. The result of all this was that a number of concerned senior members, including Kalms and Leach set up Business for Sterling, which did play a significant part in showing that there was great unhappiness about the euro in big business circles but the groundwork had been laid by the great scare over Goldsmith's Referendum Party - which prodded all three main parties into pledging before the 1997 election that Britain should only be allowed to join if this was put to a referendum first.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it all began. It is up to us to ensure that the Brigadier's name lives on and his achievements are not forgotten.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lord Leach in the Evening Standard

The Evening Standard has a thoroughly sycophantic whole-page interview with Rodney Leach, the chairman of that perestroika organization, Open Europe. Readers of this blog will know that I have some problems with Open Europe, not least the fact that they keep trying to explain how wonderful the EU would be if we could just reform it or change our status in it with nary an idea as to how this astonishing development could be achieved.

The interview starts with the following words:
His campaigns might have ensured that Britain said non to the euro and nein to the European constitution, but Lord Leach of Fairford isn’t saying no to European Union membership this time around.
To begin with saying non to the euro and nein to the European constitution (that, too, was more of a French project than a German one) was never the same as saying no to European Union membership. This is shoddy journalism but what can we expect from the Standard?

In any case, the word "might" here is not used as a supposition or, in other words, the assumption is that Rodney Leach's campaign did ensure that Britain said ......  Oh really? I was under the impression that it was a combination of Sir James Goldsmith's Referendum Party and Gordon Brown's petulant but useful desire to stymie Tony Blair that ensured Britain's non-participation in the euro. It is true that Mr Leach's (as he then was) organization, Business for Sterling, helped to strengthen the already existing public dislike for the euro and he did manage to persuade some business leaders that staying out of what was clearly an economic disaster would be a good idea. However, as I once pointed out to one of Mr Leach's minions, it would have been then and would be now courteous and graceful to acknowledge the work done among business leaders to counter the CBI propaganda by the British Management Data Foundation and its founder, Brigadier Anthony Cowgill long before any Leach organization was even thought of.

As to saying nein to the European constitution, that is an even more doubtful proposition, as the Constitution for Europe was resurrected in the shape of the Lisbon Treaty and has been transmogrified into the Consolidated Treaties, published by the selfsame BMDF. Last I checked, the United Kingdom was still legally obliged to implement all its provisions.

The rest of the interview merely points out how incredibly sensible and influential Lord Leach is and how people are bound to listen to him, particularly as he wants to make sure that the EU's various directives and regulations are changed in order to save the City of London. Once again, we hear very little as to how that might be achieved but no doubt the bright boys and girls of Open Europe will explain it all to us in detail. I am not holding my breath.

Do read the article; it won't take long. But whether you do or you don't there is one thing that we must all remember: Open Europe together with a number of other supposedly eurosceptic organizations will use all its resources (and they are not to be sniffed at) to support the IN campaign, should there be a referendum on the subject.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Not just French Senators

As this blog pointed out, certain election monitors, namely a few French Senators were falling over themselves to announce to the world that the recent election in Azerbaijan was free, fair and in keeping with the best democratic traditions despite a few minor problems like results being published before anything even happened.

It seems that the Senators in question are not alone. The same opinion was voiced by the representatives of two Toy Parliamentary Institutions, the European Parliament and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) of which Azerbaijan is a member and which we, according to some, must not leave under any circumstances.
The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) condemned the election, citing the lack of a level playing field, limitations on fundamental freedoms, intimidation of voters and candidates, a restrictive media environment and “significant problems ... throughout all stages of the election day processes.”

At the same time, the European Parliament (EP) and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Pace) praised the election and said they observed a "free, fair and transparent" process around election day.
What could be the reason for this, asks Holly Ruthrauff of EUObserver.
Like other autocrats in the region and beyond, Azerbaijan's President, Ilham Aliyev, seeks a veneer of international legitimacy and calls in pseudo election observers who assess the election positively, regardless of its integrity.

Such observers may be motivated by various interests, political or economic, or even, reportedly, by gifts of Azerbaijan’s famous caviar.

This phenomenon has unfortunately become a typical part of elections in the region, as well as globally. The trend of internationals overlooking a blatantly undemocratic election to cast legitimacy on the incumbent winner is only accentuated in an oil-rich state like Azerbaijan.
But surely, she pleads, the EP and PACE are not fake election observers but real organizations devoted to the idea of democracy, freedom and transparency.
They regularly send delegations of elected parliamentarians to observe elections and have committed themselves to do so in a credible manner.

Both are signatories of the UN Declaration of Principles for International Election Observers, a document signed by 45 international observer groups expressly to avoid such situations.

The declaration requires observer groups to conduct comprehensive observation, taking into account the entire election process and placing election day into this context.

Indeed, it was the long-term findings of the ODIHR that the EP and Pace disavowed by issuing a separate statement, contrary to established practice.
So what caused this behaviour? Alas, we get no explanations merely hand-wringing. Dare I suggest that the words oil and caviare might be part of that explanation, at least as a starting point?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The new Norwegian government

Erna Solberg, the new Prime Minister of Norway has formed her government, giving two key portfolios, finance and oil, to the smaller partner, the Progressive Party. Siv Jensen is the new Finance Minister. (This is what I wrote about her some years ago and this more recently.)
The new government, promising to lower taxes, reduce the economy's reliance on the vast oil sector, invest heavily in infrastructure and curtail immigration, now has just a few weeks to revise the outgoing government's 2014 budget to reflect its own policies.
This will be a minority government but that is not so unusual in Nordic countries (used to happen here as well)and, in any case, "the Conservatives have enlisted the formal outside backing of the Liberals and the Christian Democrats to ensure stability". And no, before you ask, the question of EU membership is not on the agenda.

Friday, October 11, 2013

European values victorious?

Over and over we have been told that the purpose of the European project is to consolidate and spread European values which are, for the purposes of this argument, democracy, liberalism, freedom of just about everything (unless the EU says otherwise) and suchlike extremely admirable concepts. Of course, European history shows quite clearly that other values come to the fore quite frequently but those are the ones the European project wants defeated and destroyed. To put it as succinctly as possible, the European project intends to use European values to defeat European history.

How is that project working out? Not so well in Greece, where the twists and turns of the Golden Dawn saga merit a posting all of its own. Not so well in some other countries, according to latest reports.

EurActiv informs us that the far-right Front National is doing rather well in the opinion polls in France.
France's far-right National Front could top European Parliament elections next May, pulling ahead of the two big mainstream parties for the first time in a nationwide vote, a poll showed on Wednesday.

Some 24% of those surveyed by for the Nouvel Observateur magazine said they would back the anti-immigrant party, compared with 22% for the centre-right UMP and 19% for the governing Socialist Party.
The party has acquired a respectable look under the leadership of Marine Le Pen and
knocked out left-wing rivals and pulled far ahead of the UMP in the first round of a local election in southern France this week.

The party's next major political test will be municipal elections in March, in which Le Pen says she wants the party to build up a strong local base by winning control of hundreds of seats in local councils.

A strong showing in that ballot could set the party up for further gains in the European Parliament elections, where Eurosceptic and nationalistic parties often do well.
That, of course, is the problem. The European project expects European values to transcend boundaries and eventually overwhelm the electorate across Europe particularly in elections for the European Parliament (a. k. a. Toy Parliament). This seems not to happen and, as the EUObserver points out, things could get worse next May:
Anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders, who PVV party advocates withdrawing from both the euro and the EU, remains a major force in the Netherlands.

It has been polling top in the domestic scene in recent weeks amid frustration with the current government's economic policies and amid rising euroscepticism among the Dutch.

Both Wilders and Le Pen have mooted the possibly teaming up to campaign ahead of the elections.

The eurosceptic, anti-immigration UK Independence Party, came third in local elections in May.

It is currently polling at 11 percent, ahead of the junior governing party, the Liberal Democrats, but is tipped to exceed the 16 percent it claimed in 2009, while party leader Nigel Farage has himself predicted an "earthquake" next year.

The National Front poll is set to heighten fears - already alive in Brussels - that the elections to the European Parliament will result in large gains for extremist parties.
Let us accept that some parties that oppose the cosy political consensus that is the European project will do well in the European elections in May and might do well in various local elections. (In fact, have done relatively well in the case of UKIP.)

Before we start worrying about extremism, though, would it not be a good idea to define it? Is it extremism to point out that the euro was a monumentally stupid idea that has not done any good to anyone and is doing active harm to many? So extreme as to be off the accepted political scale?

Is it unspeakably extreme to oppose the European Union, which is, by its own admission an undemocratic body, ever less popular with the people and whose accounts have never been signed off by its own Court of Auditors?

Is it extreme to say as does Geert Wilders that there should be a moratorium on the immigration of people who not only do not share but actively oppose and try to destroy the accepted liberal (and supposedly European) values of the Netherlands?

Do those much-vaunted European values not include opposition to the current establishment?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

So much for those election monitors

To nobody's particular surprised President Aliyev of Azerbaijan has won a spectacular victory and will be entering his third term.
The Central Election Commission (CEC) said that with 92 percent of the vote counted, the incumbent, Ilham Aliyev, won by 85 percent, while the top opposition candidate, Jamil Hasanli, got 5 percent.

"Our model of national and religious tolerance is an example for all other nations … We will continue democratic reforms and the process of building a modern state," Aliyev told national TV.
In this he has the agreement of some of the international observers in Baku.
French senators have congratulated Azerbaijan's President on a sweeping election victory, but they could have done it one day before the vote.

The French politicians, Nathalie Goulet, Mohamed Soilihi and Jean-Claude Peroni - three of dozens of international monitors in the country - were quoted by Azerbaijan state press on Thursday (10 October) as saying Wednesday's poll was free and fair.

"I did not see any difference in the election processes of our countries," France's Soilihi noted.
A slight problem has emerged, which casts doubt on that statement unless there are aspects to the French electoral system we do not know.
The CEC contracted a firm called Happy Baku to create a phone app to publish the outcome.

But when the app became available for download one day ahead of the vote, it already contained a set of results: Aliyev 73 percent and Hasanli 7 percent.

Activists based in Germany, which operate the opposition cable channel Meydan TV, published screen-grabs of the data.

The news quickly acquired the tag "appgate" and reached EU officials in Brussels. It also made headlines on the British state broadcaster, the BBC, on Swedish TV and in the US daily, the Washington Post.

The app equally quickly went offline. The Happy Baku chief also deleted his Facebook page, Twitter account and LinkedIn page.
We have to wait and see how EU officials will react to events in Azerbaijan, given that President Aliyev "is about to decide what percentage of a €40 billion gas pipeline to award to European firms". To be fair, the EU itself does not have electoral mishaps of this kind - it prefers not to elect its political leaders.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Have the Ralph Milibands won?

The  Miliband saga rolls on. Yesterday's Evening Standard carried a heartfelt plea from the Leader of the Opposition and potential Prime Minister, Ed Miliband not to drag the next election into the gutter, that being where it is now thanks to the nasty attacks on him by the Daily Mail and their persistent assertions that Ed's father, Ralph Miliband, was a highly influential left-wing Marxists who had little time for British democracy or, indeed, democracy of any kind, considering that to be a bourgeois construct.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Ed Miliband the sensitive and honourable politician who sees nothing wrong in having his photograph taken in the company of a young supporter whose t-shirt is ... ahem ... not very nice about a previous Prime Minister. An odd companion to take to the moral high ground, which little Ed seems to want to occupy at the moment.

It is more than possible that non-British readers of this blog do not know what all the fuss is about though British ones may well feel that they have heard more than they ever wanted to about the Miliband family. So here is a brief summary of the whole brouhaha.

Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition and a potential Prime Minister who seems to be reinventing himself as a firebrand socialist is the younger son of the highly influential, extreme left-wing Marxist thinker and writer, Ralph Miliband, who came to Britain as a refugee from the Nazis in his teens. Before we go any further, let me remind everyone that neither being a refugee from the Nazis nor serving in Her Majesty's forces is a guarantee of a person's loyalty to the country or to the political regime of (relative) freedom, democracy and constitutionalism. The history of the second half of the twentieth century bears me out.

The row of the father of the Leader of the Opposition started on Saturday when Geoffrey Levy wrote an article about him and his possible influence on his son, whom the Daily Mail does not like, being on the other side politically speaking. The article was not about the personal life of any Miliband and dealt exclusively with political matters, which, one would think was entirely reasonable when you are writing about a leading politicians and a leading political theorist who happens to be his father. Not so but far from it.

Ed Miliband reacted furiously at the aspersions cast at his father and demanded apologies, withdrawals, resignations, for all I know, sentences in the Gulag. How dare the Daily Mail sink so low as to write the truth about smear his father? This, despite the fact, that, as the Labour supporter and son of Labour MP Dan Hodges has pointed out, little Ed tends to drag his father and his mother into his speeches rather a lot.

What little Ed and in his wake the Labour Party, left-wing journalists and twitterati, even the right-wing commentariat objected to was the Daily Mail expressing the view (and refusing to apologize for it) that Ralph Miliband, to whom this country gave shelter, responded by hating it and every institution in it, particularly those that prove so attractive to refugees. Untrue, sobbed little Ed; untrue shouted his Labour Party chums; untrue shrieked the left-wing commentariat; really not nice muttered the right-wing commentariat. Time was a real socialist would have been proud if he were described as someone who hates his country in the name of international socialism but socialists ain't what they used to be.

Ralph Miliband wrote at length of the need to adopt Marxist ideas; he chastised the Labour Party for not being radical enough; and while he expressed some reservation about Stalin and the Soviet system in general, he supported and advocated the destruction of capitalism and western bourgeois democracy. Does this mean he was not a patriot? One could argue so and argue successfully. One could say as Tim Montgomerie, an impeccably right-wing columnist, does [no link as the Times is behind a pay wall] that wanting to change a country is no proof that you hate it. To which one can reply that surely it depends on how much one wants to change and how deep those changes are intended. In the case of Miliband senior the changes he advocated were wholesale. He did not like anything about this country's political and cultural set-up.

But he served in the Royal Navy during the war, comes the plaintive response. How can anyone who does that be unpatriotic? Quite easily, as it happens. A good many people served in the forces during the war, among them, I dare say a number of the maligned Daily Mail journalists of the day. Many Communists served in the armed forces though usually after June 22, 1941. Before that they and their rag, the Daily Worker, called on members of the armed forces to desert and decried the capitalist war waged on their great leader's buddy, Hitler. Unlike the British Union of Fascists, the CPGB was not made illegal despite clearly expressed treason and their rag not shut down because Churchill did not want to antagonize the unions.

Even after the German invasion of the Soviet Union it was often not patriotism  or love of freedom that motivated the Communists who were serving but a desire to use the situation to forward their own cause, which just happened to be that of the other vile regime of the mid-century, the Soviet Union. Anyone who is interested in the subject could do worse than read Evelyn Waugh's magnificent trilogy Sword of Honour, especially the last novel, Unconditional Surrender (or listen to its dramatization on Radio 4 on Sundays at 3 pm).

Ralph Miliband would have been too young to join the forces before Barbarossa, so we do not know whether he would have done but his subsequent pronouncements show quite conclusively that he was on the enemy's side in the Cold War, as Benedict Brogan points out. His views were well known and something that in the past the left accepted with some pride.

In 2004 the Guardian wrote:
Ralph Miliband died in 1994 as arguably Britain's most charismatic and influential leftwing intellectual. His books about the unequal relationship between business and politicians, and in particular about the tendency of the Labour party, and parties like it, to overcompromise with capitalism have been taught in universities in Britain and far beyond since the 1960s. His teaching is vividly remembered by former students. Outside academia, he also spent countless dogged hours as an activist, trying to establish more genuinely socialist alternatives to the Labour way of doing things. He did not soften with age. "The last conversation I had with Ralph," says a close friend, "he was savage about Blair."
Being savage about Blair is not, I suppose, particularly controversial until one realizes that the savagery is caused by Blair's failure to implement extreme socialist policies and, probably, by his getting rid of that infamous Clause 4. It would appear that Miliband senior's allegiance to the cause predates his service with the Royal Navy:
One boiling afternoon during his first summer in London, he [Ralph Miliband] went to Highgate cemetery, found Karl Marx's grave and, standing with his fist clenched, swore "my own private oath that I would be faithful to the workers' cause". Not that he intended to remain a worker himself: he found clearing bombsites "an arduous business" and felt a distance from his fellow labourers that was partly a matter of nationality but also a matter of aspirations. He wanted to be an intellectual. In 1941, he applied to study politics at the London School of Economics. He was accepted.
The rest of the article gives an interesting and cogent account of Miliband senior's activity in the name of Marxist socialism though it gives no thought to the question of whether he was patriotic or not. Each reader can decide for himself or herself.

All this is straightforward and ought to be the usual coin of political rows and discussions. Yet the whirlwind raised by that article among the commentariat and twitterati has been astonishing and to the Daily Mail gratifying. Day after day they have maintained that they would not apologize (having withdrawn one rather tasteless photograph which was not quite as tasteless as the one of little Ed above) and that they would continue to proclaim the evil legacy of people like Ralph Miliband. If that ensures that his son never becomes Prime Minister, well, the Daily Mail is not going to shed any tears over that.

Yesterday they gave space to Michael Burleigh, a highly respected historian of Nazi Germany and of terrorism. This time round he wrote about Stalin's left-wing apologists who saw nothing terribly wrong with the Gulag or the numbers murdered, tortured and imprisoned as long as it was done in the name of social justice. After describing the horrific camps and their extent as well as some other aspects of the Soviet rule and the terror which was the essential core of it, he adds:
Such a system — whose goal was ‘social justice’ — relied on any number of Western apologists to deny what others had witnessed first-hand.

Many of these were British academics, intellectuals and journalists. Among them were the founders of the London School of Economics, Sidney and Beatrice Webb.

They merely said of Stalin’s terror famine: ‘Strong must have been the faith and resolute the will of the men who, in the interest of what seemed to them the public good, could take so momentous a decision.’

When Stalin decided to purge entire swathes of the Communist party in the mid-1930s — resulting in 600,000 or so people being tortured and shot — Western apologists lined up to excuse actions that had been motivated by his envy, paranoia, hatred and spite. The fact that the vengeance extended to the families and children of the Soviet butcher’s victims, and blighted the lives of others down the generations, was no hindrance to putting a rosy gloss on mass murder.

For Stalin established a few model prisons especially to show visiting Western dupes such as Professor Harold Laski, the mentor of Ralph Miliband at the LSE and chairman of the Labour Party.

Laski, who was seemingly not shocked by prisoners having their teeth smashed out with iron bars, reported back: ‘Basically, I did not observe much of a difference between the general character of a trial in Russia and in this country.’
Ralph Miliband may be tangential to the story but his views fit in well though, to be fair, he occasionally disapproved of his friend Eric Hobsbawm's slavish admiration for Stalin.

So why should there be such a fuss at the Daily Mail's possibly slightly intemperate but not wholly inaccurate and politically understandable attack on the two Milibands (David having left the British political scene)? Ed's slightly ridiculous self-righteousness is understandable, given the mood of present-day politics. Those nasty journalists are attacking is just the sort of plaintive cry one would expect from him with lots of references to smear tactics and gutter journalism. The same goes for the left in general, and the Labour Party in particular. While their own methods of throwing muck at everyone they disagree with and going on at length about David Cameron's education are not perhaps of the highest order, they are quick to take offence when the "extreme right-wing nutcases" point out obvious truths about them.

That still does not explain why the Conservatives are tut-tutting and the right-wing commentariat is calling for smelling salts at the vulgarity of it all. It could be, as Benedict Brogan says, that we have forgotten the Cold War, which ended technically 25 years ago. I think the reason is a little more profound and has something to do with the phenomenon described by Michael Burleigh. The truth is that the Ralph Milibands of this world have won this battle and to reverse that victory we need to fight hard. They have made it unacceptable across the political spectrum to criticize anyone with a left-wing tendency even if that tendency involves supporting some of the worst tyrannies, some of the most savage political systems of world history.

Allow me to remind my readers of something that happened in 2008 when Max Mosley, younger son of Sir Oswald Mosley, the one-time member of practically every political party and the one-time leader of various fascist organizations in Britain. Mr Mosley who was not a politician but a man deeply involved with Formula 1 racing and thus unknown to most of us was caught out in some unsavoury sexual behaviour. If memory serves me right, the girls in question were blackmailed by the late unlamented News of the World newspaper to give them stories about Mr Mosley. When he won his court case on the grounds that his privacy had been invaded, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about the dreadfulness of controlling the press when it was merely doing its duty of purveying smut about a little known individual, which was of no public value at all.

The other thing I recall is that there were numerous articles about Mr Mosley's father and mother, all describing at great length and with no reference to the case in question their political activity. That, apparently, was acceptable, yet describing the political activity of the father of the Leader of the Opposition and his possible influence on the son is "beyond the pale".

Would anyone care to dispute my assertion that the Ralph Milibands have won?