Category Archives: Law and Government

Some thoughts on the London riots

By Mysterion

In response to the riots, a petition has been set up to remove benefits from those involved in the riots. At the time of writing, it has amassed 115,436 signatures. Some people have argued against this move, saying it will disillusion those people further from society. Whilst not necessarily advocating to removal of benefits myself, some seem to be under the impression that everyone is entitled to a place in society, which is something I don’t agree with. A place in society is earned by adhering to the unwritten social contract we have, i.e. respecting others and the laws of the land. It is this contract the keeps society functioning smoothly.

Some are under the impression that it is the job of the Police to keep the population in check, which is of course not the case. If everyone decided not to adhere to the law, the Police would be overwhelmed and could do nothing about it. Luckily, most people respect this social contract, but there those who choose to ignore it. These people should not necessarily gain the advantages that functioning members of society receive. When events of these nature occur, there is always the attempt to excuse the actions due to societal factors, as Nina Power in The Guardian has tried to do here. However, it is unfair to blame society as a whole for criminal elements that have always existed, and always will.

There is absolutely no justification for the actions and conduct of the rioters. People can go on all day about the reasons why this happened and the underlying causes, but simply put, these people have committed criminal acts. It is sheer criminality and it cannot be tolerated. There is ALWAYS a choice when it comes to such acts, the choice between doing what is right and what is wrong. If one were to come home and find their wife in bed with another man, and then they shot her, people might understand their reasoning behind it. But is it the right thing to do? Of course not.

Some quarters have pointed to the cuts as a catalyst for the riots, which is what Harriet Harman did on a shameful display on Newsnight where she tried to score political points from the events. This is absurd, and not even the New Statesman could agree with Harman. It is unlikely that a 13 year old stealing a widescreen TV is making a statement to the cuts to the EMA. If there is any underlying cause to all of this, it is a culture that has fostered this sense of entitlement from society for nothing, and a breakdown in the identification between right and wrong in people. A good way to establish the difference is to show the consequences of doing wrong. Punishing these rioters to the full extent of the law would be a good start.

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Well, sir, there’s nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide, electrified, six-car monorail!

by Leveret

In the State of the Union this week, the Prez urged the Congress to invest (i.e. spend) money on developing a high-speed rail network. Resurrecting this 19th Century technology is often wistfully mooted by the denizens of our capital city as well. Of course, the costs are almost never justified. It certainly is not the United States with its $18,000,000,000 in federal public debt or here in Enzed where we are borrowing $300,000,000 a week just to keep the lights on. Continue reading

A Disaster

By Mysterion

Is what Benedict Brogan says about the resignation of Alan Johnson from the Labour front bench. I think this is a fair thing to say. No matter what skills Ed Balls may have, it can’t be helpful to Ed Miliband to lose his favoured Shadow Chancellor after just months.

There’s an interesting scene in the (excellent) new film ‘The King’s Speech’, where Colin Firth’s character laments the popularity of the previous King, his brother. I find there are parallels in the situation with the Miliband brothers, and not just because both George VI and Ed Miliband sound odd when they speak. Ed Miliband, like George VI, has taken a position from his older, more charismatic brother. In the film, King George notes that most people become King when the previous Monarch is dead (or just about), but in his case the previous King is very much alive and looms over his leadership. Similarly, every setback and mistake that Ed Miliband makes will be analysed against David Miliband and how he may have dealt with the Labour leadership, especially while he is still alive in the political sense. With the downfall of Alan Johnson, I am sure the Labour faithful will be wondering whether they indeed chose the right brother.

What makes a great statesman?

By Mysterion

When asked what is most likely to blow governments off course, Harold Macmillan famously replied “Events, dear boy, events!” Unforeseen tragedies can have a dramatic effect on a leader’s popularity. One only has to look at the rise in approval for George W Bush after September 11, followed by a drop off after Hurricane Katrina.

The same can be seen in more recent events. The immense popularity of Prime Minister John Key could have been severely dented after the double blow in the South Island towards the end of 2010. Key’s speech after the deaths of the 29 Pike River miners were confirmed is fairly remarkable, and perhaps a pivotal moment in his Premiership. Times like these put politics into perspective, and Key performed admirably. The pain of the victims families was visibly shared by Key. Key rose above party politics at this point. Without being too mawkish, he was no longer the National Prime Minister, he was our Prime Minister.

A similar incident has occurred in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting incident. A tragedy such as this should not be about left and right, or red and blue. There is a time and place for a full discourse on why it happened, but now is not it. Bickering from both sides of the political spectrum has allowed President Obama to come in and rise above this. I may disagree with him on many points, but you can’t deny his oratory skills. His speech on the tragedy has been received warmly by many, even being praised by Fox News commentator Glenn Beck. It could also serve to boost his flagging Presidency.

As Obama would well know. As crass as it is, tragedies can be used to improve one’s standing in the polls. However there is a crucial difference between using a tragedy for your own ends and being seen to be using a tragedy for your own ends. It is all a matter of public perception. It’s why when John Key toured the damage after the Christchurch earthquake he was seen as a man of the people; but when the diminished Phil Goff does it, he is trying to capitalise.

I believe Queensland Premier Anna Bligh can expect a boost in her ratings in the next poll. The latest Newspoll has her disapproval rating at 67 percent, but she has performed with sincerity and grace in the face of the devastating Queensland floods. Not everyone can benefit from such situations of course. Julia Gillard seems to have a face and voice that is incapable of expressing simple human emotions, which isn’t a plus in events like these. Kevin Rudd had his faults as a Prime Minister, but I’m sure Gillard would kill for his common touch right now.

Botany by-election

By Mysterion

Maggie Barry in bid for Nat seat

Former broadcaster Maggie Barry – a member of the National Party for less than a month – is trying for selection in the Botany by-election.

Good for her. If it is something she is passionate about and committed to, then I say go for it.

Ms Barry will be a strong candidate for the seat because of her high profile and media experience.

Indeed.

However, she has no political experience

Ah, that little snag. It really begs the question, what ‘makes’ a politician? Is it enough to have a high profile and potentially be an effective campaigner? Or do you believe that you have to pay your dues, so to speak, through party membership and serving in local government? If the latter, Auckland Councillor Jami-Lee Ross could be the way to go. If the former, then Barry could be a sound choice.

The Arizona Massacre

by Leveret

Too many pixels have been devoted to deconstructing the fatal shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Probably the best take was George Will’s:

It would be merciful if, when tragedies such as Tucson’s occur, there were a moratorium on sociology. But respites from half-baked explanations, often serving political opportunism, are impossible because of a timeless human craving and a characteristic of many modern minds.

The craving is for banishing randomness and the inexplicable from human experience. Time was, the gods were useful. What is thunder? The gods are angry. Polytheism was explanatory. People postulated causations.

And still do. Hence: The Tucson shooter was (pick your verb) provoked, triggered, unhinged by today’s (pick your noun) rhetoric, vitriol, extremism, “climate of hate.”

(whole thing here)

It was as predictable as it was disappointing that, without a scintilla of evidence, the Fourth Estate would exploit the tragedy to attack their hated enemies such as Palin, Beck and all those vitriolic enough to disagree with liberalism.

An excellent take down of the media from a newly discovered, but excellent blog Verum Serum here. Disgusting.

Anima eius et animae omnium fidelium defunctorum per Dei misericordiam requiescant in pace.

Cablegate (not that one, the other one)

By Mysterion

Vince Cable, a Liberal Democrat Minister, has been stripped of his responsibilities after declaring ‘war’ on Rupert Murdoch. The comments were made by Cable to two Telegraph journalists posing as Liberal Democrat supporters.

In a statement, a Downing Street spokesman said: “Following comments made by Vince Cable to The Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister has decided that he will play no further part in the decision over News Corporation’s proposed takeover of BSkyB.

I have to confess that I am slightly disappointed in The Telegraph here, using a News Of The World style sting to get these revelations.

Cable also made the comment that he could ‘bring down the Government’, at a time when cracks are starting to show in the Coalition. As they celebrate their first Christmas in power, one has to wonder whether they will see another one.