I hate my countrymen

The Tory Party, rather disgustingly, has made anti-immigrant bigotry a key part of its platform. They believe the UK should withdraw from 1951 United Nations Convention on Refugees: rather than taking people in on the basis of how much they’re being persecuted, we should set refugee quotas and not let anyone in once they’re filled.

That isn’t the really bad thing. The really bad thing is that a sizeable proportion of Brits [*] say they agree with Mr Howard’s policy. So either a sizeable proportion of Brits are dumbasses who believe any old bollocks they read in the press, or they’re Nazi bigots. I’m hoping it’s the former, although this is still far from undepressing.

Update: here is further evidence for the former.

[*] The link goes to a poll data analysis rather than an individual’s opinion; I have no idea what Anthony Wells’s personal views are, although I hope they’re not in line with his party’s.

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Investigative reporting

Various news organs got a tip-off last week that someone videotaped Prince Harry’s notorious Nazi party (no, not *that* notorious Nazi Party). Unfortunately, the tip-off consisted of the information that the videotaper was "a bloke from the West Country, can’t remember his name, with long straggly hair".

As a result, at least one tabloid hack was ordered to spend last week travelling round the West Country tracking down posh twits with long straggly hair and asking them whether they were at Harry’s party.

Strangely enough, these efforts haven’t yet paid off…

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Uncool analogies

Tim Blair is an idiot. You knew that already, of course. But it does take a particularly moronic worldview to equate Nazi Germany with Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

I don’t support Castro; his regime is authoritarian, and disagreeing with him might well land you in jail. However, he’s far more of a Lee Kwan Yew than an Adolf or a Mao – he took control of somewhere absolutely knackered and horrible, and brought massive improvements to its people’s standard of living.

Neither Singapore nor Cuba are places I’d choose to live – I’m quite keen on the whole ‘freedom’ thing. Still, life in either country would be reasonably tolerable, unlike life in Nazi Germany or Maoist China.

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Guess the soft liberal ponce

Which ivory-tower sandal-wearing hippy said this?

"A calm and dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused against the state and even of convicted criminals against the state, a constant heart-searching by all charged with the duty of punishment, a desire and eagerness to rehabilitate in the world of industry of all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment, tireless efforts towards the discovery of curative and regenerating processes and an unfaltering faith that there is a treasure, if only you can find it in the heart of every person – these are the symbols which in the treatment of crime and criminals mark and measure the stored up strength of a nation, and are the sign and proof of the living virtue in it."

Answer at the rather good The Law West Of Ealing Broadway blog. Run by a magistrate, who apparently doesn’t wear a wig or bang a gavel.

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Perfunctory post

Think-tank Centre for Policy Studies is a rightwing lobby group, not an impartial research organisation. Of course their latest survey finds that bludgeoning single parents with a stick is a good idea, and that we should do whatever the Yanks do.

I’m sceptical. One claim CPS makes is that we should follow the US example of making single parents live in poverty, backed up by stats about how teen pregnancy in the US has declined significantly while the UK figure has risen marginally. Now, the UK figure for under-18 pregnancies in 2002 was 41,868 , while the US figure for 2000 (most recent I can find in both cases) was 301,540. Per head of the population, this gives a US rate about 1.5 times higher than the UK rate.

Losing a stone is much easier if you weigh 15 stone to start with than if you weigh 10 stone…

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Fill in the blanks

"Microsoft have announced the availability of a new product aimed at allowing customers to combine the _____ of Microsoft Outlook with the _____ of Hotmail."

The factually incorrect and boring answers are here.

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Rubbish but not scary

David T at Harry’s Place has the right attitude towards fundamentalist Islam.

"There is nothing alien and exotic about islamism, in either its content or its style. The extremists of the islamic and christian/post-christian worlds share a common heritage; they are both self conscious revolts in the romantic tradition against modernism and liberalism.

"Well, we’ve lived through these battles in England and America. We’re surviving their aftershocks, still."

Oppose it. But don’t turn it into the bogeyman that’s going to destroy society as we know it, or you’re doing exactly the same thing as the loons who fear conspiracies of lizards/Jews/Bildebergers…

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It’s just not true

Just a quick pointer to American readers: there is no social security crisis; even the most pessimistic economists believe that the fund will be solvent for decades; and privatised, market-based schemes have massively ballsed-up whenever they’ve been tried elsewhere. More information here.

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