Monday, May 14, 2007

If only there were more leaders like John Howard

You have to admire John Howard for his leadership and his straight talking. Not one to mince his words, he described Robert Mugabe as a 'grubby dictator' after banning the Australian cricket team from touring Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s Environment and Tourism Minister has just been appointed chair of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, after a sizeable number of votes from African and Latin American countries. Bizarre, when you consider Zimbabwe's appalling record on sustainable development. You have to ask two questions:
  1. How can anyone take the UN Seriously?
  2. How is giving aid to Africa going to help when (to borrow the Times words) it has become little more than an unregenerate dictators’ club?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

The sun sets on Tony Blair

So Tony Blair has finally announced his retirement from 10 Downing Street.

I have to say that I have mixed feelings. He modernised the Labour Party, convincing me and many others that it was safe to vote for him. He was a pragmatist who was more concerned with "what worked" than with ideology (which explains why many in his party hated him).

He came to power with a huge majority, and had a strong mandate for change, yet he squandered it. Whilst he promised an awful lot, he was always better at "talking the talk" than "walking the walk".

He said he would be "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime", yet violent crime has spiralled out of control.

He promised welfare reform, but 10 years later, there are over 5 million people (one sixth of the workforce) who are not working and on benefits.

He promised no new taxes, yet we have had numerous tax hikes.

He came to power promising that his priority would be "education, education, education", but he has only been able to inject the feeblest of reforms, and only with the help of the Tories.

He said he would take Britain to the heart of Europe, and tried to reform the EU subsidies, but gave up Britain's rebate instead.

His government doubled spending on health with the aim of matching European spending, but our health service is falling apart at the seams, with little to show for the extra money.

We were promised an "integrated transport policy" yet the only transport that is working are the airlines. Ironically, it's the one part of the transport system that the government doesn't control.

On foreign policy it was a different story. He was in many ways a neo-conservative, believing that military action was sometimes necessary to bring about democratic change. He argued passionately for military intervention in Kosovo. The airstrikes that followed ultimately led to the toppling of Milosevic's regime. And in the days after 9/11, he articulated far better than Bush the threat the world was facing from Islamic extremism. (It was a mystery to many why he didn't take the threat to Britain more seriously). He backed George Bush on Iraq, and stuck to his guns, despite his unpopularity in Britain and within his own party. He had a quality that is rare in politicians these days, statesmanship. In some ways he was a British Shimon Peres, admired more abroad (particularly in America) than at home.

Tony Blair's biggest success of all has been the British economy. For the last ten years there has not been a single period of negative economic growth, this has never happened before. One of Labour's first acts in government was to cede control of interest rates to the Bank of England. By keeping their hands off the economy, Labour did a better job of running it. It's only a shame they didn't run the rest of the country in the same way.

David Cameron's new policy.....hug a Jihadist

David Cameron has spent two days with a Muslim family in Birmingham and writes about his experience in the Observer. The article is entitled: "What I learnt from my stay with a Muslim family"....not much it seems.

Amongst other things, he says that we shouldn't use the world 'Islamist' as it's offensive to Muslims. (I'm not quite sure what kind of word were supposed to use instead).

And whilst he praises faith schools and argues that integration is essential for building social cohesion he then contradicts himself by arguing:
...the third step in promoting integration is to ensure there's something worth integrating into. 'To make men love their country,' said Edmund Burke, 'their country ought to be lovable.' Integration has to be about more than immigrant communities, 'their' responsibilities and 'their' duties. It has to be about 'us' too - the quality of life that we offer, our society and our values.

Here the picture is bleak: family breakdown, drugs, crime and incivility are part of the normal experience of modern Britain. Many British Asians see a society that hardly inspires them to integrate. Indeed, they see aspects of modern Britain which are a threat to the values they hold dear - values which we should all hold dear.

To argue that there is nothing to integrate into is precisely the kind of argument that the Islamists (sorry David) use. Muslims are not the only people offended by family breakdown, drugs, crime and incivility. Society is also made up of Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jews and Christians, both black and white who are just as offended, but they have still integrated, because they want to buy into a society that gives them freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom to choose how they live their life. It's not a freedom you get in any Islamist society.

David Cameron then ends his article by saying...
Asian families and communities are incredibly strong and cohesive, and have a sense of civic responsibility which puts the rest of us to shame. Not for the first time, I found myself thinking that it is mainstream Britain which needs to integrate more with the British Asian way of life, not the other way around.
So what are you proposing David? That we all convert to Islam?

The problem with Britain is not multiculturalism, but bi-culturalism. There are the Christians, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, moderate Muslims, Atheists, Gays etc...who are prepared to tolerate each other on the one side and the Islamists who are opposed to everyone else on the other.