Friday, 5 December 2014

letter to Nicola McKenna of TV Licensing

Edited version of a letter to Nicola McKenna, collections manager from TV Licensing, upon receiving a threatening letter from her.
tv licensing threat header

Dear Ms McKenna,

We were dismayed yesterday to find a letter from TV Licensing lying outside our back door that said "you are hereby given official notice: your property is now under investigation" and threatened us with court action. Why was this? Is disconnecting oneself from the BBC really such a subversive act?

We do not have a TV, informed you of this, and confirmed it to Debbie Beckett of Customer Services in May, when we wrote that we would be happy to receive a visit as long as we have 48 hours’ notice. I do not think this is excessive – it is equivalent to the notice landlords have to give their tenants before they or their agents enter the property.

The visit will take place while I am there. No agent will be admitted to the premises when I am out unless they are in possession of a search warrant signed by a magistrate, which we will subsequently challenge. The visit will be filmed and may be put on the web. Should you take us to court on any pretext I will put regular updates of the proceedings online.

We do not watch any TV as it is being broadcast. We have drastically cut down on the BBC TV we watch afterwards on i-player and watch almost no commercial TV. We have been irritated by BBC bias, ageism and misogyny for some time, but for us the final straw was the lengths to which the BBC went to protect its reputation from the activities of Jimmy Saville, to the detriment of his victims.

Finally, I wish to put in a Freedom of Information request for all information in all formats you hold on our house, with details of how you got that information. I also wish to know what organisations or agents you are using to gather this information, which powers they are using and on what basis.

Gerry Dorrian

Friday, 10 October 2014

the political cartel's bloodied nose makes it more dangerous than ever

I wonder if Peter Mair realised, by the time of his untimely death in 2011, the enormity of his contribution to political science with his identification of the cartel party?

Ths is a political party that has, in its own eyes, outgrown its traditional constituency – eg workers, landowners, reformers, etc – and now campaigns for as big a chunk of the general electorate’s vote as it can muster.

The concept of the cartel party was a crucial step in identifying modern politics in general as a cartel affair, with a number of parties cooperating to ensure that they, and only they, participate in the structures of power, regardless of which among them in particular ends up holding the reins of government after any given election.

So Douglas Carswell’s acceptance speech as UKIP’s first elected MP was an attention-getter:

Crony corporatism is not the free market. Cosy cartel politics is not meaningful democracy. Change is coming with the realising that things can be better. (My italics)

He’s perhaps right, however, that the day’s other by-election in Middleton, where a candidate in a safe Labour seat managed to defeat UKIP by less than a thousand votes, is just as more meaningful for a party that is often denigrated as “far-right”.

I would be surprised if the British political cartel of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties took this lying down.

And there appears to be a precedent for a party taking affairs into its own hands which I fear may be replicated across the cartel.

In the 2005 General Election, there were 3,963,000 postal votes cast – in an atmosphere where the industrial scale of postal vote fraud had just been revealed – which constituted 12.7% of all votes cast; compare this to the postal voting figures of 1,370,000 (4.9%) in 2001. Labour's majority over the Labour party in 2005, in terms of raw votes, was 789,500 - equal to a fifth of the postal votes cast.

I’m sure I don’t need to add that Gordon Brown signed us up to the Lisbon Treaty/EU Constitution on the 2005 mandate, but the point for our purposes is that if something as major as a General Election was rigged in the past, it can be in the future.

As we congratulate Douglas Carswell in Clacton and John Bickley in Middleton, we need to keep our eyes open like never before for sleight of hand and distraction emanating from the political cartel.

Gerry Dorrian
300 word theses


Douglas Carswell’s acceptance speech: 'Ukip must stand for all Britons' - Nicholas Watt, The Guardian, 10 October 2014

Neo-fascism and neo-corporatism: the emergence of the cartel party - 300 words

Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy: The Emergence of the Cartel Party - Richard S. Katz and Peter Mair, party Politics, 1995

Resources for figures on 2001/2005 general elections:

Election Statistics: UK 1918-2007 - House of Commons Library, Research Paper 08/12, February 2008

2001 General Election Results, UK POlitical Info

2005 General Election Results, UK Political Info

Monday, 11 August 2014

near and far Jihad: a question for Western leaders

In the Daily Mail, Robin Harris makes an impressive case for robust action on the Caliphate proclaimed by Islamic State, now massacring thousands in Iraq and Syria, and condemns Western leaders for being "catastrophically naïve" in their analyses of the turmoil in Muslim countries.

I can’t argue with that, but I feel I must in turn suggest that Mr Harris is naïve in suggesting the Caliphate poses problems only for countries with a majority Muslim population.

As early as 2009, Jihadis have split their struggle into that against the far enemy – or far Jihad – which is America and the West, and near Jihad against Israel and all local administrations that fail to unqualifiedly call for its destruction.

Far Jihad is well-ensconced in the West, with anybody proposing counter-Jihad (literally action against jihad) condemned by organisations such as Hope not Hate as fascists, racists, and generally “far-right”, which has no fixed beaning but refers to anybody whose views they disagree with.

new face of the Caliphate: click for more
Jihadis like Anjem Choudary have openly called for a Caliphate for years, and this is key to understanding their mindset. The Caliphate can be proclaimed at any time in any country by any jihadi.

Counterjihad military action must therefore also take two parts: far counterjihad against genocide and, crucially, supporting Israel, whose attacks by Hamas were a diversion tactic to blind liberal Western media to Islamic State atrocities; and near counterjihad, including robust action on hate-preachers like Choudary and real policing of protests against established Western traditions such as free speech.

Far and near Jihad are now coming together, as shown by a recent open recruiting drive by Islamic State's predecessor ISIS in Cardiff. The question I pose Western leaders is: do you act now to protect your many loyal citizens of all backgrounds, including moderate Muslims, or must you be swept away to protect our children?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


ROBIN HARRIS: Our leaders are in denial about this Islamic revolution because it exposes their own naivety - Daily Mail, August 11 2014

Why Jihad went global -Jim Miles, The Palestine Chronicle, 2009

Counter-Jihad report - Jim Lowles, Hope Not Hate, August 2012

Anjem Choudary: Steps to an Islamic Caliphate - The Clarion Project, April 2012

10,000 Muslims Protest Against Free Speech at Google in UK - Gerard Direct, October 2012

Thousands rally in UK to demand end to anti-Islam speeches - Murtaza Ali Shah, The International News (Pakistan), April 2013

'Infidels must wear red collars and shave heads': 'Nazi' vision of Muslim Britain from Imam who ran 'Isis' barbecue in Cardiff park - Abul Taher and Nick North, Daily Mail, June 2014

'That's my boy!': Shocking photograph of a SEVEN-YEAR-OLD Australian boy brandishing the head of a Syrian soldier - and his jihadist father who took it - Emily Crane, Louise Cheer, Daily Mail, August 11 2014

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Israel and why Westphalia matters

In 1648, the Peace of Westphalia ended the 30 years' war by esconcing Cardinal Richelieu’s principle of raison d’état – justifying Catholic France’s alliances with Protestant powers to prevent absorption into the Holy Roman Empire – as the defining principle of the nation state.

Under raison d’état each state was free to run its legal internal affairs as it wanted, for example responding to pressures for universal suffrage at its own speed.

When Tony Blair was elected in 1997, he trumpeted a post-Westphalian settlement which would see Britain not only buy into the European Union’s supra-national agenda like never before, but participate in wars to spread neo-conservative values to Afghanistan and Iraq in what former US Deputy Defence Secretary Robert Ellsworth called "salvation without representation".

In Israel’s Gaza campaign, we’re seeing a demonstrably democratically-elected government take on Hamas, a group banned in many countries for its links to terrorism. It is in a sense a campaign against the crisis-hit post-Westphalian movement, where

it is the "internal" boundaries that create problems. Security, defence of privilege, identity, recognition and cultural traditions…are now altered, uncertain, liquid. They are no longer reliable.

Egypt’s sponsoring of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is also a classic Westphalian move: Egypt is one of the states that have banned Hamas. If Palestinian terrorists (by no means all Palestinians) were to catastrophically weaken Israel, the terrorists’ first move would be to announce themselves part of the soi-disant caliphate proclaimed by Jihadis in Iraq and Syria.

This is also a supra-national power, but far removed from the multilateral transfer of rules with the EU as template dreamt of by Blairites. It is an attempt to rebuild the Ottoman Empire, and as such the next stop would be Egypt, therefrom the rest of Arab Africa.

Israel is certainly fighting for survival, but it is now at the centre of the fight for the nation-state system. All of us who value freedom need to realise that freedom lives or dies with Israel.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Imposing Our 'Values' by Force - Robert F. Ellsworth and Dimitri K. Simes

A Crisis Of The State? The End Of The Post-Westphalian Model - Carlo Bordoni

The EU as a Multilateral Rule Exporter: The Global Transfer of European Rules via International Organizations - Mathieu Rousselin

Friday, 1 August 2014

comparisons between Hamas and Nazis aren't made lightly

During the Second World War, the British visited a lot of attrition on Germany and on Germans for a very good reason: it was them or us.

The Israeli Foreign Minister harked back to this time when he delivered a message to his counterpart here, Stephen Hammond, on the conflict in Gaza:

[Foreign Minister Avigdor] Liberman told Secretary Hammond that Israel expects special understanding on the part of the British. During one of the most difficult but greatest hours of Great Britain, when London was bombed during World War II, we learned from Churchill that even if the price is blood, sweat and tears, a nation that wants to survive must fight for its freedom.

Any comparison between Hamas and the Nazis is neither done lightly nor without justification. In November 2013, the Palestinian university in Jerusalem, Al Quds, made international news when it hosted a Nazi-themed rally; six months earlier – shortly before the murder of Gunner Lee Rigby – the Swastika was spotted flying over the town of Beit Omar.

This is what the Israelis are facing: a war that is basically a continuation of the one we faced from 1939-1945; a war that is not about land or money or power but the very existence of the Jewish people. Those brave Palestinians who realise and reject this know the risks they run: recently jihadis murdered 25 peace activists and blamed it on Israel even as Palestinian rockets, by accident or design, fall upon Palestinians.

As genocide is prosecuted in Syria and Iraq, our prone media prioritise manufactured outrage at recycled pictures and promote the BDS agenda. The original Nazis were more honest in their evil when they verbalised their version of BDS: kauf nicht bei Juden – don’t buy from Jews. As jihadis and their useful idiots shout and fly Palestinian flags over council buildings, please spare a thought about where the Swastika and kauf nicht bei Juden were headed from the start. There's been no change in plan.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Friday, 18 July 2014

Flight MH17 decisions: wait till vested interests stop shouting

The outrage [shooting down of MH17 over Ukraine] immediately raised questions over why commercial flights were using a region where attacks on aircraft have been rife.

These words from the Telegraph form the most succinct explanation, I think, as to why Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 came to grief in such a terrible tragedy. The article says, earlier, that "aviation safety authorities in the United States and Europe warned pilots in April about potential risks flying in or near Ukraine airspace". The paper now reports other Asian airlines "had already abandoned [flying over Ukraine] months ago because of security concerns".

Regarding concerns, an International Civil Aviation Organisation website document ostensibly praises Ukrainian Air Traffic Controllers for picking up English language skills, but then expresses concern that:

Learning language is a long and costing business…[and] Lack of resources does not allow to invite native speaking teachers and instructors to train aviation personnel, to purchase necessary equipment for…training, to organize recurrent training of teachers, instructors, raters and examiners abroad.

Considering airline fuel is expensive, and the Malaysian government was found in investigations into the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 to be a major shareholder in the debt-stricken airline, and one can understand their pilots being pressured to fly over Ukraine.

Ultimately, did Putin order the plane shot down? I don’t know, but the picture gets more complex the more you examine it. And I wonder how long conspiracy-theory sites will take to notice that the US, the UK and the EU could all do with attention taken off their internal affairs, or even that it might not be beyond the abilities of Jihadis to down the flight and blame it on an Israeli attention-diversion exercise?

I have my own theory – that it’s always better to wait for vested interests to stop shouting before making decisions with long-lasting consequences.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Air operators belatedly avoid Ukraine war zone - Tom Whitehead, Nick Collins and Martin Whitehead, Daily Telegraph, 17 July 2014

Asian airlines stopped flying over Ukraine months ago - AFP, Daily Telegraph, 18 July 2014

Challenges in implementing Language Proficiency Requirements in Ukraine - International Civil Aviation Authority; statement made on p12 of pdf. 2003 mentioned in document, but date of its publication not apparent

Saturday, 17 May 2014

UKIP and the anti-democracy machine: a message from the police to the real fascists?

The anti-UKIP machine reveals itself as an anti-democracy machine more every day.

The most alarming development is the spread of so-called "anti-fascist" groups gathered around the "Unite Against Fascism" banner, for example Hope Not Hate, SLATUKIP, etc. Their devotees remain a tiny minority, but what is most worrying is that while such organisations were once hard-left bodies allied to the fringes of the Labour Party, they are now in receipt of patronage and members from across the political cartel of Britain’s three main Westminster parties, whose electoral closed-shop UKIP threatens.

These groups are telling new members that UKIP are "fascists", then ensuring they are exposed to propaganda saying "the only good fascist is a dead fascist". We know this from former members who joined up in the first place because they thought UKIP was unpalatable, but found the violence-orientated approach they found themselves expected to adopt far more sinister.

The leading cliques within the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour parties need to be given a message that if one UKIP candidate, member or supporter is hurt or even killed then the reverberations will go right up the greasy pole and will find them.

Perhaps a preliminary message has already been given.

When Cambridge police visited Michael Abberton, who tweeted a satirical list of UKIP "policies", their bosses doubtlessly knew that the tweet was arguably within the ambit of free speech, and even if it weren’t the anarchic nature of the Internet made a successful prosecution almost impossible. But the message was delivered: regardless of what individual officers think of UKIP, police will not stand by and allow its members to be targeted by anti-democratic thugs who themselves are the real fascists.

I hope UKIP is maintaining a database of members who have been threatened or otherwise targeted. We cannot let fascists steal our democratic birthright.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

neo-fascism and neo-corporatism: The Emergence of the Cartel Party - 300 words, January 2014

Wrong for police to visit Cambridge man Michael Abberton for tweeting list of UKIP 'policies', admits Chief Constable Simon Parr - Cambridge News, 13 May 2014

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

the political super-elite: "universal suffrage gave the wrong people the vote"

Between 1945 and 1956, Austria saw four general elections produce parliaments in which the opposition’s tussles with government were choreographed, for which Austrians coined the term Bereichsopposition. This might translate as opposition arranged within a set area; Marxist social scientist Otto Kirchheimer, writing in 1957, translates it as "opposition of principle," which he defined later as "'the desire for a degree of goal displacement incompatible with the constitutional requirements of a given system".

Kirchheimer’s 1957 paper The Waning of Opposition in Parliamentary Regimes rails at the birth of the cartel arrangement of politics, whereby a group of parties with little to differentiate them dominate parliamentary politics. He notes this was an "extreme procedure" in Austria, but that the same arrangements were emerging in (West) Germany, France and Italy.

These three were the main signatories to the Treaty of Rome the next year. This transformed the European Coal and Steel Community, intended to prevent another war between France and Germany, into the EEC, the proto-EU.

Peter mair - click for obituary

Left-leaning political scientists like Kirchheimer and Peter Mair (right - whose Ruling the Void references the former’s essay) are pessimistic about the outcome of cartel politics. This seems to stem from a middle-class phobia of the revivifying power of the popular vote: a primal suspicion that universal suffrage gave the wrong people the vote. Walter Bagehot’s fear that "ultra-democratic" politics (universal suffrage – "the rich and wise are not to have, by explicit law, more votes than the poor and stupid") will lead to "violent laws" leads straight to Mair’s phobia of populist politics.

Think of this when you hear Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem politicians slate UKIP: you are hearing the self-serving super-elite of the anti-democratic political cartel, perpetually mired in oppositionalism to the mechanisms of government in Brussels, inform you that universal suffrage gave the wrong people the vote.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


The Waning of Opposition in Parliamentary Regimes - Otto Kirchheimer, Social Research, Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 1957. Link takes you to the essay on JSTOR, where permissions may be required. You can click here to try to access the pdf

Political Perfectionism and the 'Anti-System' Party - Michael keren, Party Politics 6, January 2000: a summary of the article giving Kirchheimer's definition of "opposition of principle"

Treaty establishing the European Economic Community (Treaty of Rome)

The English Constitution - Walter Bagehot, second edition, 1873. The quote about giving the vote to the "poor and stupid" is on p127 of the pdf

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Ukip "racism" row: is the Daily Telegraph buying into the political cartel?

Comedy’s funny. Peculiar, I mean: for example, I remember an American friend looking nonplussed at Father Ted, while I was splitting my sides.

Paul Eastwood's page at Jo Martin Management

Less amusing is the alacrity with which some on the Left will jump on certain types of comedy but not others. Dan Hodges, for example, has published a blog entitled Ukip is now a racist party, in which he seizes on comments made by comic Paul Eastwood (right), which retain their humour even within Hodges’ tirade.

It’s all what you’d expect from a Labour and union aficionado. What is unusual is that it was published on the blogs site of the centre-right Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph has become obsessed with Ukip recently, the party being mentioned in the analysis section at least once daily.

This, I believe, is the political cartel in action. We have a Tory-aligned publication running standard left-wing dog-whistle fare because both Conservatives and Labour are terrified of the long-term consequences of Ukip breaking up the current three-way football match where the parties kick the ball to each other to try and con the masses that the result is democracy.

And as for the charge of racism, I think questions like, for example, "what race is Islam?", although valid enough, risk heading down the wrong road. The whole vocabulary of race relates to the sinister concept that differences between groups of people are inherited and not culturally instilled. This vocabulary first served the slave trade (and indeed still does) before being conscripted to justify eugenics. It’s easy to forget, though, because "you are racist/fascist/insert your own meaningless-through-overuse adjective" is increasingly used merely as a synonym for "I disagree with you". We risk sliding back to the horrors of the 20th century through forgetting that words, contrary to what post-modernists believe, have meanings.

And that wouldn’t be funny.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Ukip is now a racist party - Dan Hodges, Telegraph blogs, 3 March 2014

Neo-fascism and neo-corporatism: The Emergence of the Cartel Party - 300 words

Click to go to Paul Eastwood's page at Jo Martin management

Monday, 24 February 2014

Establishment and Outsiders: patriots live on Winston Parva's Estate

go to Established and Outsiders on Amazon

I’m sure Norbert Elias and John Scotson never intended "Winston Parva" to represent the relationship between patriots and super-elites, but as an analysis of power relationships their sociological classic The Established and The Outsiders holds strong in this context.

Winston Parva is the fictionalised village in which the authors identified two classes of people: the Established in the old village, and Outsiders who inhabit the "Estate".

The power differential between Insiders at the centre and Outsiders on the Estate is what they wanted to examine. Power centres, once established, proceed mindlessly upon the Nietzschean task of acquiring more power: witness the neo-imperialistic chequebook held out by George Osbourne to Ukraine while flood victims here, on the UK Establishment’s home ground, appear to occupy at most afterthought status.

Lars B Ohlsson describes in his summary of Insiders and Outsiders the mechanism by which we Outsiders on the Estate – patriots – are kept in our place:

gossip centres and cliché-based judgements, condemnation and discrimination of 'them' while praising and promoting 'us', continually [feeds] the existing order.

Thus we have patriots condemned in general as "racists", "swivel-eyed loons" etc, for no good reason other than these are the present Establishmentarian buzzwords describing political Outsiders – witness Nigel Farage’s treatment in Edinburgh. The most extreme example so far is the removal of foster-children from their guardians on the grounds that "Ukip members might not be suitable foster parents for non-British children".

That UKIP is poised for major gains is due in no small part to the revulsion felt by people of all political persuasions that the Establishment feels parents’ political persuasion is sufficient reason for interventions in family life of the most extreme kind. Come the elections we need to remember that as far as the Establishment is concerned, we’re all outsiders living on the estate.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


The Established and The Outsiders - click to read reviews on Amazon

Insiders and Outsiders - aspects of inclusion and exclusion - a summary by Lars B Ohlsson

We should open chequebook to rebuild Ukraine, says Osborne: Chancellor offers millions to new government - Tim Shipman, Daily Mail, 23 February 2014

EU wonders why Britain hasn't tapped fund for flood relief - Reuters, 12 February 2014

Nigel Farage Edinburgh Protest Turns Ugly As Ukip Leader Locked In Pub 'For Own Safety' - Huffington Post, May 2013

Ukip row: multiple reasons children taken from Rotherham foster parents - Helen Pidd, The Guardian, November 2012 - "Ukip members might not be suitable foster parents for non-British children"

Council admits mistakes over Ukip foster parents storm - Ben Quinn, The Guardian, May 2013 - "The removal of the children caused outrage across the political divide"

Barnet Alliance [for Public Services] denies responsibility for leaflets branding UKIP 'racist' - Chris Hewett, This is Local London, January 2014

How to Spot a Swivel-Eyed Loon - The Guardian, undated

Sunday, 23 February 2014

the dead of Independence Square: does Ukraine have lessons for both patriots and security forces?

Ukraine, for the present at least, seems to be a free country. The security forces have evaporated from Kiev and protesters can finally mourn the dead of Independence Square, killed – we must assume – by aforesaid security forces.

Is there a degree to which the security forces were doing their job? That job was to protect their country, and their superior officers told them it was under attack; by people who are now being hailed internationally as freedom-fighters.

I ask this because patriots throughout the world look with increasing discomfort at their countries’ security services. In Great Britain peers have just blocked the police from being given powers to prevent "conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to any person". Note the phrase "capable of" – thought crime, anybody? In the US, a big story is the huge amount of ammunition bought by security forces that is banned from being used in theatres of war, firing concerns that it’s intended for use against perceived internal enemies.

So again I return to the Ukranian services – why did they stop? The full story might not come out for some time, but it looks as though a lot of them have decided – individually or en masse, or a combination thereof – that killing patriots, which is how many might see themselves, wasn’t their job.

Will US security forces personnel come to such a decision-point if they are called upon to shoot at their countryfolk? Will there come a point at which their British counterparts decide it’s not their job to suffocate social and cultural concerns which they share?

As the dead of Independence Square are mourned, perhaps it’s time for reflection on the price of freedom, on the part of both those who might be called to pay that price and those who might be called to exact it.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

In Ukraine, Mourning Amid Political Drama - Al Pessin, Voice of America

Friday, 14 February 2014

what the flooding crisis says about our fading citizenship

click for O'Donnell's page on the Kellogg institute

The thoughts of an Argentinian political scientist about newly-democratised nations might not appear to have much in common with the present flooding crisis, but perhaps we should look closer.

The late Guillermo O’Donnell wrote On the State, Democratization and some Conceptual Problems about the travails of Peru, Argentina, Brazil and other countries, but as comparative politics his insights are valid further afield – for example, you could say that the "profound crisis" of the "big state" becoming democratic mirrors that of the hypertrophied state in danger of losing its grip on democracy.

For O’Donnell, the state is more than the sum of its bureaucratic parts: it is "a set of social relations that establishes a social order" bound together by laws applicable "over a given territory", ie that country’s. He adds that the without these laws and the lawful agencies they underpin "the national state and the order it supports vanish”, leading to "a democracy of low-intensity citizenship".

With the Somerset floods we’ve seen a population which was left in chaos and crisis since the end of last year, with forces personnel only being sent in when the Establishment was embarrassed. Compare this with the near-immediate response to Thames Valley flooding, although even there it seems "some people are getting help and others aren’t": we see "a state whose...publicness and citizenship fade away at the frontiers of various regions and class and ethnic relations". In both areas every adult has one vote each, but each areas’s value to the regime (which O’Donnell stresses can be authoritarian even within a democratic state) seems the variable determining speed and credibility of response.

The Governmental and Environment Agency’s responses to the floods are not what one would expect from democratically-accountable institutions. They evince a vassal state in a neofeudal relationship to the EU overlord.

The question is: will votes challenging the democratic legitimacy of that relationship be respected as having equal value with those cast for parties that accept it?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


On the State, Democratization and some Conceptual Problems - Guillermo O'Donnell, Kellogg Institute, 1993

Chertsey residents claim 'homes sacrificed to save others' - bbc.cocuk - "some are getting help and others aren't"

(neo)feudalism and the EU - 300 words

Thursday, 13 February 2014

all issues should be up for debate: letter to Cambridge News

Letter to Cambridge News, published on Friday 13 2014. The names of the people I'm responding to have been changed.

I AM writing in regard of the letter from Jane Smith, Jean Smith and Joan Smith ('Negative power of persuasion', News, February 1, 2014). The education and health sectors are major topics of interest in any election, and should neither be demonised nor protected by taboo that prevents discussion of faults.

What I am most anxious to say, however, is that it is not 'racist' to voice concerns about mass immigration or violent religious extremism. The very vocabulary of race is sinister and outdated, and harks back to a time when differences between groups of people were attributed not to culture but to inherited factors. I believe this vocabulary, designed to turn off the critical faculties and elicit a more primal, uglier response from the target audience, will be employed more and more as the European and general elections draw closer.

People who use words like 'racist' and the like reveal more about themselves than they realise: when they think democracy might return a result they don't approve of, they're just not that into it.

Gerry Dorrian

Thursday, 6 February 2014

neocorporatism on the march: the Tube strike is a punishment for democracy

The picture is eloquent:

click for live-blog of the strike

This is what happens when you elect a clown as mayor. Not so funny now, is it?

The seventeen-word manifesto delineates the purpose of the Tube strikes of 5-6 February: punishing citizens of London for using their democratic birthright to elect a Mayor whom TUC high command disapproves of.

Peter Mair and Richard Katz referred to a situation where bodies such as trade unions developing relationships with the state mirrors the relations between the state and political parties. In other words, these bodies – such as unions – determine the direction of the state, supplanting democratically-elected representatives.

Mair and Katz call this situation “neocorporatism”. Given Mussolini identified corporatism as fascism’s political synonym, it’s surely fair to surmise that neo-fascism and neocorporatism can be similarly identified. The unions – in this particular case the RMT and TSSA – are using a 48-hour strike to inform London voters that their democratic choice of mayor is unacceptable to them.

Neocorporatism is the logical next step on from the political cartel formed by our three main parties, who kick the ball to each other every so often to give us plebs an illusion of democracy. The fightback starts when we use our birthright to elect representatives from outwith the cartel.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy: The Emergence of the Cartel Party - Richard S. Katz and Peter Mair

Mussolini on the Corporate state - Political Research Associates

Live blog of the Tube strikes - Claire Carter, The Telegraph, 6 February 2014

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Cambridge Greens targeting Lib Dem vote? letter to Cambridge News

I disagree with Dr Rupert Read, lead party MEP candidate, on the subject of wind activity and the impact of human activities on climate.

What I round equally interesting, however, is Dr REad's reference to the "pro-nuclear, pro-fracking, pro-coal consensus of of Labour, Conservative and UKIP."

One party is conspicuously absent from Dr Read's tirade. If the Green Party plans to target Lib Dem voters in the 2015 general election as well as in the European ones, does that mean the city's next MP will be from the Labour, Conservative or UKIP party?

Gerry Dorrian

Click for Cambridge News homepage

NOTE: I usually change the names of people I'm responding to when putting my letters to the Cambridge News up here, but haven't done so with Dr Richard Read because as an MEP candidate he is a public figure.

Friday, 31 January 2014

(neo)feudalism and the EU

The first use of "neofeudalism"seems to have been in 1940, when a doctor complained to the Medical Times about the consequences "if medicine was to be neofeudalized by the state". (Obamacare, anybody?)

Political scientist Guillermo O’Donnell ran with the idea, identifying neofeudalism within "those regions where the local powers…establish power circuits that operate according to rules that are inconsistent with, if not antagonistic to, the law that supposedly regulates the national territory".

European patriots can see the reverse process to O’Donnell’s happening in regard to the EU today – the supranational giant has established power circuits that operate according to rules that are inconsistent with, if not antagonistic to, the systems of laws that supposedly regulate the national territories.

click for the Atlantic Arc webpage
For example, the Atlantic Arc unites fragments of the UK, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal that have no other link than that the Atlantic laps upon their coasts; and the BBC has admitted taking £3m in grants from the EU, and acts as the EU’s propaganda outlet in the UK.

Like the feudal overlords of old, the EU has enlarged its fief by sleight of hand; it wasn’t announced to the British people until 2001 that "this country quite voluntarily surrendered the once seemingly immortal concept of the sovereignty of parliament and legislative freedom by membership of the European Union". By then all that was needed was a dynastic marriage in the form of a constitution: the Lisbon Treaty was signed by Gordon Brown under the so-called "democratic" mandate of the 2005 election.

So what destroyed feudalism? Here, after the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, in the words of Marxist writer Mark Starr, "the peasants were never reduced to the old Feudal bondage again, and a time of prosperity for them, known as the Golden Age, followed". Neo-feudalist bureaucrats of the Paris-Berlin axis take note.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Excerpt from a 1940 letter to the Medical Times - the first recorded use of "neofeudalism"?

On the State, Democratisation and some Conceptual Problems (A Latin American View with Glances at Some Post-Communist Countries) - Guillermo O'Donnell - go to p10 of the .pdf for a description of what he calls "neofeudalized"

Atlantic Arc homepage

BBC admits receiving millions in grants from EU and councils - Christopher Hope, Daily Telegraph, Feb 2012

Britain and Europe: The Culture of Deceit - Christopher Booker, October 2001; the passage quoted is at the top of the article

Mark Starr: A Worker Looks At History - Chapter 8 The Fall of Feudalism

Did Labour win the 2005 general election? - 300 words

Monday, 27 January 2014

neo-fascism and neo-corporatism: The Emergence of the Cartel Party

Régime censitaire is an interesting phrase: cens was a fee paid to a feudal lord which sometimes accorded voting rights. Thus the régime censitaire refers, in Peter Mair’s and Richard Katz’ seminal 1995 article Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy: The Emergence of the Cartel Party, to the state of democracy in the late 19th century, where some degree of property ownership was necessary in order to vote.

The "cartel party" refers to a situation where major parties compete for an electorate’s votes with none offering anything qualitatively different from the other, therefore they gain more from cooperating with each other than competing, to democracy’s cost. (Hobbling the free press, anyone?)

Parties evolve from "caucus" entities representing the minority entitled to vote to “mass parties” upon universal suffrage, then "catch-all" parties offering all things to all people, little different from each other. Here the titular cartel starts to form.

Scarily, Mair and Katz note that other bodies such as trade unions and employers’ associations "[develop] relationships with the state that are not unlike those developed by the parties themselves" – I would add developers and the diversity industry. They call this "neocorporatism". I have to wonder if they were referring to a quote by Mussolini, "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power". Is neo-fascism the corollary of neo-corporatism?

There is hope: new parties can challenge the cosy huddle, but must resist the trap the Liberal Democrats (identified by the authors) have fallen into of joining "the establishment they once decried".

Mass parties on either side of the pond produced Churchill, Attlee and Thatcher, and FDR, JFK and the Bushes before political cartels reincarnated the régime censitaire by restricting power within the circle of those who possess it already.

My money’s on UKIP and the Tea Party to shake things up. How about yours?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy: The Emergence of the Cartel Party - Richard S. Katz and Peter Mair, originally from Party Politics

(Leveson deal: MPs debate press legislation: as it happens - Rowena Mason, Daily Telegraph, 18 March 2013

"Mussolini on the Corporate state - Political Research Associates

Click for reviews of Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy, in which Mair's ideas on the political cartel arising from the article reviewed were posthumously developed from his notes

click for a review of The Triumph of the Political Class, in which Peter Oborne continues on Mair's ideas in Ruling the Void

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Alternative to 'political cartel': letter to Cambridge News

The Cambridge News was kind enough to publish my letter on why I'm voting UKIP in their edition of 24 January - here it is, with the name of the person whose letter I was responding to changed.

I read with interest John Smith's letter "The benefits of being in the EU (News, January 2, 2014).

Mr Cox mentions "rich UKIPers" - of the many people I know who intend to vote UKIP in the coming European and General Election, none is rich, myself included.

He states that "the City friends of Osbourne and Boris Johnson" wrecked our economy. Any deleterious effect Conservative policies have had on the economy have merely widened the cracks inflicted on the system by the previous Labour administrations. Remember Peter Mandelson announcing he was "intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich"? He seems to have been similarly quiescent about the amoral atmosphere in which many of these people acquired their lucre.

The Labour Party is just as much a part of what the late, left-leaning political scientist Peter Mair called a "political cartel" as are the Conservatives and the Lib Dems. Each party offers roughly the same policies with different wrappings. I'm sure not every member of each of the three main parties wants things to be this way, but laws made by European bureaucrats who nobody in Europe got a chance to vote for make anything else impossible.

Is being a member of the EU 100 per cent bad for Britain? Of course not. But the benefits of membership are minimal in comparison for the harms we are suffering and the risks we face, both societal and economic. That's why I intend to vote UKIP.

Gerry Dorrian

Europe is slowly strangling the life out of national democracy - Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph: Oborne writes about Peter Mair's concept of the "political cartel" in what I think will be one of the defining political essays of 2014

Changing Models of Party Organization and Party Democracy: The Emergence of the Cartel Party - originally published in Party Politics, now on politicacomparata: Oborne references this essay in his own, above

Click for reviews of Ruling the Void: The Hollowing of Western Democracy, in which Mair's ideas on the political cartel were posthumously developed from his notes

Monday, 13 January 2014

CJ Sansom's "Dominion": a low punch at UKIP

click for reviews on

It’s now widely accepted that Winston Churchill had a "wobble" in his now-famous three days in May 1940 when he was occupied by the feasibility of negotiating a peace with Hitler’s Germany after the "Narvik Debate" on the disastrous Norwegian campaign brought down Neville Chamberlain’s Conservative government and Churchill came to lead a tripartite National Government.

In CJ Sansom’s alternative history novel set in 1952, Dominion, Churchill was rejected in favour of Lord Halifax as leader of the Tories. Following the Dunkirk evacuation, a crisis in Parliament led to those peace negotiations with the Nazis, and Great Britain became effectively a German vassal state under the leadership of Lord Beaverbrook.

I don’t agree with Sansom’s intimations in the novel that patriotism is by nature evil. Nevertheless, taking something you normally wouldn’t pick up and turning it into something you can’t put down is the mark of a great writer.

What worried me is that, after the end of the novel, Sansom presents an essay on his views on Nazism, nationalism and patriotism in general (which, in conjunction with Palestine – ie Israel – he cites as the two great blights of the real postwar world). At the end of the essay, in which Nazism and fascism are extensively mentioned, he opines that UKIP is another manifestation of the "blight" of patriotism.

He offers no opinion on the EU which, although not a national or nationalist entity, many would point to as non-violent fascism. By the time he comes to UKIP, after pages spent railing against fascism and associating patriotism therewith, the footnotes have dried up, but the intention seems to give the reader the idea s/he is reading an academic essay condemning UKIP.

Should we be asking Macmillan whether, should it reprint Dominion before the 2015 General Election, it will reprint Sansom's tendentious essay?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


Three Days in May: When Winston Churchill wobbled - Jasper Rees, Telegraph

Conduct of the War Hansard minutes of House of Commons debate of May 8 1940, also called the Norwegian Debate/Narvik Debate

Click to read reviews of Dominion at Amazon

Pan Macmillan (publishers of Dominion) contact page

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Ariel Sharon RIP

My thoughts are with my Jewish friends upon the passing of Ariel Sharon; Like most great figures he was a man of many parts - freedom fighter, military leader, navigator of the ship of state as Prime Minister of Israel, husband and father. I think anybody who values an inclusive, and therefore genuinely peaceful, world, should be remembering Mr Sharon and meditating on his life.

I can't say things any better than in this obituary :

Ariel Sharon: proud Jew and military strategist, 85

Gerry Dorrian

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

voter ID: the story behind the Electoral Commission's announcement

If the Electoral Commission wants voters to produce IDs at polling stations Parliament could effect this by amending the Representation of the People Act: it's been amended 42 times in its lifetime.

The furore revolves around the 2000 Act’s amendments of the 1985 Act.

Sections 5-9 of the 1985 bill present various safeguards ensuring that absent voters using proxies or postal votes assure the Registration Officers of their identities.

Section 12, para 2 of the Representation of the People Act 2000 informs us that "Sections 5 to 9 of the Representation of the People Act 1985...shall cease to have effect" apart from in Northern Ireland. Replacing them is Section 4, relating to people in mental hospitals who are not detained offenders or on remand.

In other words, the 2000 act allows party activists to satisfy themselves of the identities of absent voters.

Nick Ross’ thesis, expanded in his book Crime, is that crime isn’t facilitated by bad people so much as that which is pilfered being readily available.

In the recent past what’s been pilfered appears to have been votes, to such an extent that even the International Committee of the Fourth International got worked up about it in 2004. The following year, in terms of raw votes, Tony Blair’s New Labour won by 1,500,000, in a General Election in which 6,000,000 postal votes were returned.

But from which "high risk areas" (the Electoral Commission’s words)? These are the ones they identify:

Birmingham, Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Burnley, Calderdale, Coventry, Derby, Hyndburn, Kirklees, Oldham, Pendle, Peterborough, Slough, Tower Hamlets, Walsall, and Woking.

I can identify 7 areas above where the population makeup is skewed away from the average mix in the UK. So why does the Government want to foist ID cards through the back door on all of us?

Gerry Dorrian
300 words


ID needed at polling stations, recommends independent watchdog - Electoral Commission: see Editor's Note para 2 for the "high risk areas"

Representation of the People Act 1985 - see sections 5-9 as mentioned

Representation of the People Act 2000 - see Section 12, para 2 and Section 4 as mentioned

Nick Ross's Crime - 300 words

- Britain: opposition to Iraq war led to Labour vote-rigging in 2004 elections World Socialist Web Site, published by the International Committee of the Fourth International