Thursday, April 27, 2006

BNP - Left, Right or what?

Norman Tebbit's recent spate of letters to the Daily Telegraph taking to task those who describe the BNP as 'right wing' have caused a bit of a stir. He's firmly of the opinion that the BNP is a 'left-wing' party, and he cites their policies on globalisation, nationalisation and other 'left' sounding issues. Those who attack him for this clearly betray a lack of historical knowledge. Not only has classical fascism (including both Italian and German Nazi varieties), always had a 'socialist' wing, post-war neo-fascism has continued the tradition. Strasserite fascism has been influential in the far-Right for a long time, including the National Front and other organisations that BNP leader Nick Griffin been involved.

Anti-fascists claim that this 'left' rhetoric from the likes of the BNP is just a clever ruse to lure the workers to fascism. They're wrong, the 'left' policies are genuine enough, they are core components of fascism ideology.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Don't vote, apathise...

Every election brings out the same old anarchist 'no vote' campaigns - though to be honest campaign is putting it too strongly, usually it's a case of a few stickers, a poster or some grafitti. The old slogan of 'Don't Vote, Organise!' would be sound if only it were true. In the real world the fact is that it's 'don't vote, apathise'. Not only does encouraging voter apathy feed into the general cynicism about politics - and that includes radical 'anti'-politics as much as it does Nu Lab, Tories and the rest - it also encourages the feeling that we're powerless to resist or change things.

When it comes to council elections this apathy makes even less sense. While it's true that local councils have been rendered almost powerless by the relentless authoritarianism and centralising tendencies of successive Tory and Labour governments, local councils are still closer to most people than what goes on in Westminster. If there's a chance to make a splash it's here. If we want to reconnect people's interest in change then it's here.

Encouraging apathy and cynicism is ultimately self-defeating. Do we really want people to believe that they have no power to make a difference?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The People's Petition

The People's Petition is a web petition for those in favour of medical research using animals to register their support. A spin-off from the Coalition for Medical Progress, it's an excellent way for people to show that they oppose the anti-vivisectionists who monopolise the discussion on animal experimentation.

Usually any discussion of 'the silent majority' makes me suspicious, but in this case it's probably warranted. Militant animal liberationists have forced people into silence, it's good that people are finally starting to stand up for medical research.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

No2ID - Pasport protest in the making

Quick note on the No2ID campaign against the ID cards being sneaked in by the government.

A quick quote:

Guy Herbert, general secretary of No2ID, said: "If everyone renews their passport now, that inconveniences their plans to get everyone on the register."

Greens and Blues

Listening to Darren Johnson, a spokesperson for the UK Green Party, on the radio this morning was a pretty depressing experience. He was talking about a possible complaint to the electoral commission because of the conservative party's new slogan - Vote Blue, Go Green. This would be, according to the Green party, confusing to voters.

Why is this depressing? Because it reveals that even a minor party like the Greens thinks voters are morons. Forget arguments about policies that matter. What's important is voting for a party not a policy. And because we are all so stupid we'll get confused and vote Tory thinking we're really voting for the Green party.

And then politicians wonder why the public feels alienated from politics...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Chernobyl deaths?

As the BBC report says, reading the UN/IAEA report on Chernobyl deaths to that produced by Greenpeace is like comparing chalk and cheese. The scope of the two reports is different:
  • the UN looks at the surrounding area, Greenpeace looks at all of Europe
  • the UN looks just at cancer deaths, Greenpeace looks at all deaths
There's no need to resort to conspiracy theories to explain the differences, all that's needed is an explanation of the different scope and definitions. However, that didn't stop the pro-nuclear lobby from trumpeting that nuclear power isn't so dangerous after all when the low figure of 4000 extra deaths was first reported.

And no doubt they won't complain when anti-nuclear campaigners seize on the highest figures (200 000) to show that nuclear power is very dangerous

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

In Defence of Global Capitalism

There's a good review of Johan Norberg's superb book over at the London Book Reading this book had a profound influence - it's one of those books that makes you rethink things. It's written with the sort of passion that you'd normally associate with anti-capitalists. It's radical, intelligent and... Why not read the review, or better still read the book.

Humans = Bacteria

Interesting post at the Citizen Scientist site. Good to see that at least one 'ecologist' makes explicit the anti-human thrust of green ideology. These people are so full of self-hatred and loathing of the human race that they believe that wiping out humanity is the best thing that we can do for the planet.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Nuclear Power, No Thanks?

There's a head of steam (if you'll pardon the pun) building up in favour of nuclear power. Global warming has breathed new life into the campaign to persuade us that the nuclear option is essential.

Two things we should still keep in mind. Firstly the dangers inherent in nuclear power - and the on-going discussion of the long-term effect of Chrnobyl is a salutory reminder of this.

The second is the recent report about the £70billion cost of decommissioning nuclear power stations in the UK.

I certainly don't subscribe to the notion that we need to massively cut back on energy consumption - if we want prosperity and peace in the world we need more power not less. But that doesn't mean we should ignore the dangers of nuclear energy. There are plenty of other technologies to be developed - from fuel cells to bio-diesel to ethanol.

That old slogan of 'Nuclear Power, No Thanks', well, it might need dusting off. Though this time it's likely that there'll be plenty of 'ecologists' on the pro-nuclear side of the argument.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

More animal testing required...

Good article on spiked-online about drug testing on people and animals. The recent events are Northwick Park are big news precisely because drug tests on people rarely go so badly wrong. Rather predictably the animal liberation lobby is seizing on this to argue that drug testing on animals isn't effective. That's rubbish. If anything it shows that type of treatment being tested (monoclonal antibodies) needs more vigorous testing on animals, particularly on primates.

Ultimately drug testing is dangerous, and unless you view animal and human lives as equivalent then there's no choice but to test on animals. The truth is, however, that there are some among the vociferous animal liberation lobby who value animal lives more highly than their own species.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Organic food - where's the evidence?

As a long-time consumer of organic food I was finally stung into looking for some evidence of positive health benefits by recently reading Bjorn Lomborg's excellent 'The Skeptical Environmentalist'. I took it as self-evident that organic food was healthier. And the benefits are touted everywhere by organic farming advocates and those interested in complementary medicine and nutrition.

So where's the evidence?

I admit I'm at a loss to find anything whatsoever. I've looked for scientific papers rather than simple assertions of 'fact'. I've looked at the Soil Association and other pro-organic bodies and groups. There's none. Lots of stuff against GM food, some stuff on benefits to the environment, but nothing on the benefits to human health.

I don't want to feel conned, I don't want to feel like I've been taken for a ride. If anybody knows of a credible paper on the benefits of organic eating then please post a reference or a link.

Monday, April 03, 2006

State funding of political parties

Given that the revelations about 'loans', cash for peerages and other dodgy financial transactions are big news, the idea that state funding of political parties is a way of making politicians clean is once more on the agenda. Is it me, or does the idea of paying politicians to keep honest a complete nonsense?

Looking around at the countries which do fund poltical parties doesn't fill me with confidence. France, Germany, Italy...all countries with poor records when it comes to political corruption and scandal.

What's more, how is this supposed to make the public more interested and engaged in politics? Paying for it with our taxes doesn't make me engaged, it makes me enraged. If politicians are really interested in making politics relevant than they should give back power, not stuff their faces deeper into the trough.