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Week 18
Saturday 3 May 2003


Edwina did it!  And Labour struck back at the Welsh Nationalists! Edwina held her Gower seat comfortably, with 45% of the vote, on a 39.8% turnout - I got back from the count at 4.00 am - and a more normal life can now re-commence.   Labour has won 30 seats - exactly 50% of the total Chamber - thus giving the Party a working majority, without the LibDems.  So it is a good result. Plaid Cymru was thrown out of its three South Wales seats, and they were retaken by Labour - Islwyn, Rhondda, and Llanelli. 

Do you know who
these soldiers are?

The English Courts must be given the opportunity to rule upon the lawfulness of the Iraqi War.  But legal procedures will stand in the way of proceedings unless there can be found a specific cause of action within the jurisdiction of the UK.  At the end of March, three British soldiers were sent home, ostensibly for refusing to obey orders which (they contended) involved the killing of innocent civilians. 

One of those soldiers would make the ideal "plaintiff", for a human rights action.

Do you know who they are?  They were all three from 16 Air Assault Brigade, stationed in southern Iraq to defend the oilfields [ see The Guardian ]

Hit Count for April 2003

Your response held up well during April, considering the diversions of the War, and the deadening effect of the Easter break - it even increased slightly - this was the hit-counter figure to close-of-play on Wednesday 30 April - thanks for your continuing support...

monthly hit-totals

2002 (sample)        June      65
                       September 152

2003                   January  415
                       February    517

                                 March   554 
                              April  572

PS Real Web aficionados may wish to know that, of all the operating-systems used to access this site since January 2002, only 5% have been MAC - as follows -

Windows 98          32% 
Windows 2000       29% 
Windows XP          12% 
Windows NT          10% 
Windows 95            7% 
MAC                      5%
Misc                      5%

Total                     100%

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Liberalism, more
important than Democracy

Representative democracy is not everything it is cracked up to be.  My trudging days on the Welsh knocker have been dispiriting.  While the awful "Coalition" claims to be promoting democracy worldwide, we shall be lucky to attract 40% of all Welsh voters to the polls. 

Far more significant, in my judgment, is the growing intolerance - the sheer illiberalism - of our society.  To me, liberalism means the long-term cultivation of liberal institutions - the rule of law, respect for an equality agenda and human rights, independent judiciaries, personal property ownership, effective forms of political organisation and participation. And these are more important to me than any mechanistic doctrines of representative democracy. Labour will survive as a political force only if we learn the same lesson.

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Kid Glove Secretary

True, Patricia Hewitt has managed to ruffle a few City feathers by allowing shareholders to debate fat-cat salaries and pay-offs at their AGMs see The Observer.  But the denizens of the Boardroom will soon find their way around the new rules - mark my words! They know just where the cream is hidden, and they enjoy unique secret access to it.  To out-manoeuvre them, shareholders must be given powers of prior approval of key corporate decisions - and Hewitt continues to resist that.

> Vienna > Lisbon

An absurd UN War-on-Drugs Conference took place last week in Vienna. The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs met at the midway point of its ten-year campaign to eradicate narcotics. Seventy-five nations attended, in deference to prevailing US obsessions.  And the floundering UN Narcotics Director Antonio Costa declared that total global eradication was on target for success by 2008. As Polly Toynbee observed Who’s he kidding?

Others have convened an Alternative Drugs Summit for Lisbon in October, to start work on drafting a new UN Treaty on drugs policy. The former Portugese Drugs Minister Vitalino Canas, said - "We are utterly frustrated with this defective UN system, so we have taken matters into our own hands". A man after my own heart!  I will find out the details and keep you posted. I shall certainly try to get to Lisbon myself, if the opportunity offers.

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thinking big

Fabians are good at thinking ahead of the game.  And as the authority of global organisations comes under threat, they have properly focused on forms of globalisation, both of the Left and of the Right  What matters, it is argued, is the precise form of "globalisation", not simply some general phenomenon. 

I hanker for a simple statement of those individual rights which we should advocate world-wide, rights that carry conviction make sense in every language, every political system. 

"Anti-racism" is not enough

We are right to be concerned with the rise of the British National Party, with the popular resentment of refugees, and with the tendency of politicians to play the race card.  But these nasty trends will not be countered by the barren language of "anti-racism". 

  • Only a fully-argued ideology of individual equality, and social equity, will suffice.

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Devolve to Survive

"Management" is now high on the political agenda, much higher than it ever used to be..  It is difficult to engage any elector with the old causes celebres- social inequality, discrimination, injustice, tyranny and oppression. What matters is reliability in refuse collection, diligence in pothole-filling and hedge-trimming, assiduity in the removal of canine excreta, success in cutting hospital waiting-lists, managerial prowess in traffic management – these are the stuff of current "politics".

  • But the paradox is this: Ministers at Westminster will never be able to perform these tasks to the satisfaction of our fellow citizens, at street-level. They are on a hiding to nothing.  Devolution to Regional Assemblies is absolutely essential - a veritable necessity of political survival Westminster.  Ministers should get themselves out of the firing line.

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Abdroids Rule OK

Natural persons are retreating from the corporate frontline.  1,852 individual directors of UK companies have already taken advantage of new statutory provisions to prevent anyone find out where they live. This is the "Huntingdon Life Sciences Defence"... 

But this twist in the corporate saga is a threatening one.  It is only contact with natural persons that enables the system of abstract personality to be properly policed, at any level.  This is further dismal evidence of the global explosion of the secretive device of artificial personality, which constitutes a threat to the freedoms of us all.

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Property Rules OK

Few people understand the profound significance of property law for all business transactions. In our settled UK society, we take it for granted that property rights are routinely respected and upheld. Our citizens have come to terms with the primacy of property and its ownership.

I am sure you will want to keep in touch with what Steve Bell is drawing, in The Guardian

These are dark and
dangerous days

No sense of direction has emerged, since the "victory" of Baghdad. The truth is, that nobody can really believe the scale of the destruction wreaked, by the Coalition attack, upon the United Nations and the world's hopes for a consensual world order.  We face a grim future, ordered unilaterally by a rogue state, the United States.  Edward Said delivers an excoriating critique of American conduct, in The Observer.

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Charitable Loos...

Psst!  Can I interest you
in public loos?  I am seeking supporters and partners, from all over the UK, for a new charity project to provide public toilet facilities.

Not many job ads appear on these pages.  But this is an exception.  A key political vacancy has arisen, for the job of General Secretary of the Fabian Society

My hope is that the trawl will attract a truly independent socialist spirit, as the retiring Michael Jacob has proved himself to be.  I wish him a full and challenging life, with his young family. And I express my gratitude for his great Fabian career. 

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Special Footnote

I love the online newspapers, which are my access to the world - share them with me - click through to their Homepages from here -

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Diary 2002

Now up to date!  I have re-structured my Diary to give you a day-to-day means of looking back, throughout the year just click through

What are your thoughts?  Drop me a line


Try BBC News, the public service website for the best and quickest access to the news, as well as a huge political data resource, the BBC is unbeatable


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Friday 2 May 2003

Dear Friends

The Fakuna family were flown out of Gatwick back to the Czech Republic this morning. Their Solicitor did all she could.   We just hope to see them again.


[ Ed: Tom wrote Wednesday 30 April...]

Josef Fakuna and his family, Rosita and their children, were 'removed' at 6.30 am this morning - in an unannounced dawn raid by Immigration officials.  

Josef and Rosita helped to organise the February event at St Phillip's Community Centre (by the Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group/SBASSG), and they provided much of the food - the delicious Czech dishes. They were our best link with the Czech-Roma community, and they got to know many of our SBASSG members and friends over the past six months.

They are now in Gatwick Detention Centre – their Solicitor is doing all she can, but their appeal will probably have to be made from the Czech Republic.  UK law now says that no asylum claim can be made by a Czech citizen, despite the  well-documented systematic abuse of Roma human rights. Most Czechs have now been sent back or been induced to go 'freely'.

We're very worried about the Fakunas - and also about everyone else living in Swansea in terror of being woken up like that, in the early morning. 


Dr Tom Cheesman  SBASSG Treasurer
University College, Swansea 
more from SBASSG at Hafan

I say...

The "unannounced dawn raid", directed against those who have committed no crime and are suspected of none, is an inhumane and unacceptable "police" method.  The Fakunas were not in hiding - they were living openly, with their children, within the community of Swansea. I am deeply ashamed of a Labour Home Secretary, and a Labour Government, willing to curry rightwing popularity by the deployment of these methods.

...Roger WE

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Staged "Confessions"

We are hearing strange confessions of personal crises, from Jack Straw and senior Ministers. They dramatically declare that they would have laid down their political lives, in the cause of aggression against Iraq.

But these confessions are not what they seem.  At the moment, active negotiations are progressing among human rights lawyers, to indict Tony Blair for his decision to take his country into war - by his personal exercise of the Royal Prerogative. That is, as a matter of law, his personal decision - and would constitute the ideal, unambiguous focus for legal proceedings. The Government no doubt knows about all this, because we are no good at secrecy  and this Website is certainly monitored.  And they must be keen to spike the legal guns arrayed against them.

  • These "confessions" are, I believe, a crude stage-managed attempt to generalise and disperse responsibility for the aggression, and build a defence against war-crime prosecution.  Wot, Royal Prerogative?  Not me, Guv - it was the Commons wot did it.  Tony Blair is trying, retrospectively, to pass the buck to his parliamentary colleagues - having made it clear at the time that the Commons vote was only advisory, thus discouraging opposition in the first place.  He is getting his retaliation in first. 

    History is being re-written, before our very eyes.

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the learning curve

In the chaos of post-war Baghdad, the sinews of the modern economy are laid dramatically and painfully bare. It is quite clear, for those who wish to see, that all the basic institutions of our society are governmentalThe primacy of public order is brutally self-evident.

That is a key socialist perception, and the lessons of Baghdad must not be missed. The much vaunted "market-place" of Adam Smith can only operate, if all the necessary public institutions are already firmly in place. Indeed, all transactions (including governmental transactions) are clearly integral to the health of any economy.  Rightwing economic theory (" is business that creates the wealth, which the public sector spends...") is shown up as a sham.

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dire straits

All EU countries face one gigantic, common problem.  Not foreign policy, not George Bush, not "drugs", not immigration. It is the failure of their various systems for the provision of old age pensions.  New UK data, published this week, shows that the private pensions "industry" is collapsing before our eyes, facing the impossible task of regaining saver confidence.  Compulsory state systems are either too limited (UK) or too expensive (France, German, Italy) to meet the bill.

  • Only the creation of a satisfactory, state-backed state-guaranteed system will work, to restore shattered confidence.  Far from "breaking the bank", it is the one measure guaranteed to lay the foundations for a strong European economy.

And do you know?  The Financial Times agrees.  This is no doctrinal socialist fantasy.  It is sound, practical politics.  It is good economics, good for business.  Labour should take the idea very seriously indeed.

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I return - ever in the pursuit of your interests - to the strange ways of capitalism. This large tube of toothpaste is on sale today at Sainsburys - at 47p.  And these are the underlying comparative retail-prices of other toothpastes - per 100 ml.

  • Aquafresh            148.0p
  • Colegate              188.0p
  • Macleans             198.0p
  • Colgate Whitener   249.0p
  • Sainsburys              37.6p

Can you Adam and Eve it?  Does it simply demonstrate the value of brands - or does it betray an underlying element of dishonesty, in all business transactions?

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Lord Irvine
Posterity beckons

This is the last I remember of my wig, some thirty years ago.  I had moved from the Bar to the house-building industry, and my wig had become a plaything for my daughter Katharine.  It was a fine horsehair wig, which had belonged to my father when he practised briefly at the Cardiff Bar, in 1915.  I then sold it to a young barrister John Greaves for £15, and it moved on through the profession, like the yellow Rolls-Royce.  Non, je ne regrette rien...
  • Lord Irvine now has the chance to organise a Bonfire of the Wigs, as well as abolishing the deceptive mumbo-jumbo of QC status.  If he wants to retrieve his elusive reputation as a radical, that is precisely what he will do...

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continuity, stability, optimism

Alan Greenspan

Why should George Dubya be so pleased with the re-appointment of Alan Greenspan as top US banker, at the age of 77?  Did Greenspan not serve dutifully throughout the Clinton era?

There is one, single, simple answer.  Consumer confidence.   Bush's reckless dismantling of international institutions, are now the very cause of declining consumer confidence.  True, there is an immediate "war dividend" - successful sheriffs are always applauded, when bad guys fall.

  • But consumers are worried, the world over.  And worried consumers pull in their horns and start saving, for an even rainier day.  Who is to say that they are wrong? The whole world economy could be brought to its knees by worry, by uncertainty.  In the modern world, the fear of war can be as destructive as war itself.  Bush needs to settle consumers' nerves, and get them spending again.  That's why the veteran 77-year-old Greenspan, in the job since 1989, has been asked to stay.  If God's in his heaven... ...all's right with the world.

Talking of heaven - Sir Martin Rees is the eminent Welshman who is the current Astronomer Royal, and he has just published his new Book of Revelations, predicting that mankind has only a 50/50 chance of surviving this century.  Now that will do nothing whatsoever to bolster consumer confidence.

It's all uncannily close to the theme of my own magnum opus thesis - Multiple Differential Uncertainty (which nobody ever reads...)

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My New Party Line..

I have been struggling for some time to find the right "tack" for Labour Party reform. I now say that the interface between salaried political professionals and Party volunteers should be differently configured. Each element should be given its own set of functions, its own "power sector", with the work of Government and Opposition left to the salariat, and allowing the Party's volunteers to assume exclusive responsibility for the life of the Labour Party "in the country".

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Try BBC News, the public service website



Other recent topics

  • Confidence is indivisible >>>
  • Socialism inspires liberalism >>>
  • America cannot afford war >>>
  • Labour Party Reform >>>
  • Giving away a railway station >>>
  • Reforming the Police >>>
  • My Draft Labour Manifesto >>>
  • Capitalism? An illusion... >>>
  • Police NOT War >>>
  • Abdroids invade Lloyds of London >>>
  • Beware LA collapse >>>
  • Closed Shop, Union Shop >>>
  • Am I religious?  >>>
  • For Wales, read Cymru >>>
  • Baby Bonds, great idea >>>
  • Ulster: The Stevens Report >>>
  • And read my own Big Theory itself, at
    Multiple Differential Uncertainty   
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Follow my August 2002 Russian Tour Diary, now unfolding in splendid technicolor - capacity problems have so far limited the scale of how much I can E-publish, but there is still plenty to read -

What are your thoughts?  Drop me a line

Budget Footnotes

Budgets invariably throw up basic statistics which are difficult to come by, at other times of year - I am holding this item, just in case you have not yet tried it...

Week 18
Saturday 3 May 2003




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- is that a deal?  Roger WE