Thursday, 29 May 2014

On This Oak Apple Day, by David Lindsay

The Whig Revolution of 1688 led to very deep and very wide disaffection among Catholics, High Churchmen, Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and others.
Within those subcultures, long after the death of the Stuart cause as such with Cardinal York in 1807, there persisted a feeling that Hanoverian Britain, her Empire, and that Empire’s capitalist ideology, imported and at least initially controlled from William of Orange’s Netherlands, were less than fully legitimate.
This was to have startlingly radical consequences.
First in seventeenth-century England and then in the eighteenth-century France that looked to that precedent, gentry-cum-mercantile republican absolutism was an inversion of Jean Bodin’s princely absolutism, itself an Early Modern aberration.
But what of the creation of a gentry-cum-mercantile republic in the former American Colonies? Did it, too, ultimately derive from reaction against the Stuarts, inverting their newfangled ideology against them?
No, it ultimately derived from loyalty to them, a loyalty which regarded the Hanoverian monarchy as illegitimate.
Since 1776 predates 1789, the American Republic is not a product of the Revolution, but nevertheless sits under a radically orthodox theological critique, most obviously by reference to pre-Revolutionary traditions of Catholic and Protestant republican thought.
On the Catholic side, that is perhaps Venetian. On the Protestant side, it is perhaps Dutch. On both sides, it is perhaps to be found at cantonal level in Switzerland, where it is possible that such thought might hold sway even now.
There simply were Protestant Dutch Republics before the Revolution. There simply was a Catholic Venetian Republic before the Revolution. There simply were, and there simply are, Protestant and Catholic cantons in Switzerland, predating the Revolution. The literature must be there, for those who can read the languages sufficiently well.
Furthermore, there is no shortage of Americans whose ancestors came from the Netherlands or from Italy, and there may well be many who assume from their surnames that their bloodline is German or Italian (or possibly French) when in fact it is Swiss.
It is time for a few of them to go looking for these things, with a view to applying them as the radically orthodox theological critique of that pre-Revolutionary creation, the American Republic.
Within that wider context, far more Jacobites went into exile from these Islands than Huguenots sought refuge here.
The Jacobites founded the Russian Navy of Peter the Great. They maintained a network of merchants in the ports circling the Continent. Their banking dynasties had branches in several great European cities. They introduced much new science and technology to their host countries. They dominated the Swedish East India and Madagascar Companies. They fought with the French in India.
And very many of them ended up either in the West Indies or in North America. New York seems the most obvious place to look for them, being named after its initial proprietor as a colony, the future James VII and II.
The Highlanders in North Carolina spoke Gaelic into the 1890s, but in vain had the rebellious legislature there issued a manifesto in that language a century earlier: like many people of directly Scots rather than of Scots-Irish origin or descent, they remained loyal to the Crown during the Revolutionary War.
However, there were many Jacobite Congregationalists, such as Edward Roberts, the exiled James’s emissary to the anti-Williamite Dutch republics, and Edward Nosworthy, a gentleman of his Privy Council both before and after 1688. There was that Catholic enclave, Maryland.
And there was Pennsylvania: almost, if almost, all of the Quakers were at least initially Jacobites, and William Penn himself was arrested for Jacobitism four times between 1689 and 1691.
Many Baptists were also Jacobites, and the name, episcopal succession and several other features of the American Episcopal Church derive, not from the Church of England, but from the staunchly Jacobite Episcopal Church in Scotland, which provided the American Colonies with a bishop, Samuel Seabury, in defiance of the Church of England and of the Hanoverian monarchy to which it was attached.
Early Methodists were regularly accused of Jacobitism. John Wesley himself had been a High Church missionary in America, and Methodism was initially an outgrowth of pre-Tractarian, often at least sentimentally Jacobite, High Churchmanship. Very many people conformed to the Established Church but either refused to take the Oath or declared that they would so refuse if called upon to take it.
With its anti-Calvinist soteriology, it high sacramentalism and Eucharistic theology, and its hymnody based on the liturgical year, early Methodism appealed to them. Wesley also supported, and corresponded with, William Wilberforce, even refusing tea because it was slave-grown; indeed, Wesley’s last letter was to Wilberforce. They wrote as one High Tory to another.
Wilberforce was later a friend of Blessed John Henry Newman, whose Letter to the Duke of Norfolk constitutes the supreme Catholic contribution to the old Tory tradition of the English Confessional State, in the same era as Henry Edward Manning’s Catholic social activism, and the beginning of Catholic Social Teaching’s strong critique of both capitalism and Marxism.
Whiggery, by contrast, had produced a “free trade” even in “goods” that were human beings. The coalition against the slave trade contained no shortage of Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists or Quakers.
Yet the slave trade was integral to the Whig Empire’s capitalist ideology. If slavery were wrong, then something was wrong at a far deeper level. James Edward Oglethorpe, a Jacobite, opposed slavery in Georgia. Anti-slavery Southerners during the American Civil War were called “Tories”.
Radical Liberals were anti-capitalist in their opposition to opium dens, to unregulated drinking and gambling, and to the compelling of people to work seven-day weeks, all of which have returned as features of the British scene.
Catholics, Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists and Quakers fought as one for the extension of the franchise and for other political reforms.
It was Disraeli, a Tory, who doubled the franchise in response to that agitation. To demand or deliver such change called seriously into question the legitimacy of the preceding Whig oligarchy.
It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of Catholicism, of the Anglo-Catholicism that High Churchmanship mostly became at least to some extent, of the Baptist and Reformed (including Congregational) traditions, and, above all, of Methodism, to the emergence and development of the Labour Movement.
Quakerism and Methodism, especially the Primitive and Independent varieties, were in the forefront of opposition to the First World War, which also produced the Guild of the Pope’s Peace, and which had a following among Anglo-Catholics of either of what were then the more extreme kinds, “English Use” and “Western Use”. Each of those included Jacobites among, admittedly, its many eccentrics.
Above all in Wales, where Catholic sentiment was still widely expressed in the old tongue well into the eighteenth century, Quakers and Methodists had very recently stood shoulder to shoulder with Presbyterians, Congregationalists and Baptists, including Lloyd George, against the Boer War.
Paleoconservatives who would rightly locate the great American experiment within a wider British tradition need to recognise that that tradition encompasses the campaign against the slave trade, the Radical and Tory use of State action against social evils, the extension of the franchise, the creation of the Labour Movement, and the opposition to the Boer and First World Wars.
All of those arose out of disaffection with Whiggery, with the Whigs’ imported capitalist system, with their imported dynasty, and with that system’s and that dynasty’s Empire.
A disaffection on the part of Catholics, High Churchmen (and thus first Methodists and then also Anglo-Catholics, as well as Scottish and therefore also American Episcopalians), Congregationalists, Baptists, Quakers and others.
Behind these great movements for social justice and for peace was still a sense that the present British State (not any, but the one then in existence) was itself somehow less than fully legitimate.
In other words, the view that there was ultimately something profoundly wrong about this country and her policies, both domestic and foreign, was a distant echo of an ancestral Jacobitism.
Radical action for social justice and for peace derived from testing the State and its policies against theologically grounded criteria of legitimacy.
It still does.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Front National Could Destroy France, by David Lindsay

Like the UMP and its numerous Gaullist and Giscardien predecessor formations, the Front National, rather than individuals, factions and tendencies within it, is not immediately easy to locate within René Rémond’s theory of the three French right wings, les trois droites.

Both the UMP and, to a lesser extent, the FN now exhibit, far more than they used to, Orléanism as the bourgeois and economically liberal Franco-Whiggery against which stand both the populist traditionalism of the Legitimists and the populist authoritarianism of the Bonapartists.

There is a certain continuation of Legitimism in the more-or-less Lefebvrist wing of the FN and its electorate, but also in the Social Catholicism of a section of the old UDF and of those who look to the Gaullist conception of the strong French State with a strong Head to deliver the goods.

Not for nothing did Philippe de Villiers withdraw from the UDF over Maastricht as surely as Charles Pasqua withdrew first internally and then externally from the RPR.

Although Gaullism does have obvious Bonapartist roots, just as Boulangism did, yet the popular followings for either and both were and are at least as much Legitimist, especially deep in the countryside.

Especially there, the anti-Gaullist Right is not entirely Orléanist, either; not for nothing did it most recently rally to a man whose name was not merely Giscard, but Giscard d’Estaing.

And from where does anyone think that the popular constituency for an anti-Marxist Socialist Party first came from, or very largely still does come?

Mitterrand could never decide whether he wanted to be Louis XIV or Napoleon. But he certainly wanted to be one or the other.

Deep down, at least, one or the other was what huge numbers of his voters wanted him to be, too. Otherwise, he would never have won.

When he did win, he gave a job to Poujade, in whom the Legitimist and Bonapartist populisms of the Right met, who had endorsed him and who did so again.

To all of which, what says François Hollande, who was endorsed, after all, both by François Bayrou and by Jacques Chirac?

But more, what says the UMP?

The Legitimists celebrated patois (it was more than a century after the Revolution before anything more than half the population of France spoke French), local festivals and folk-customs, the ancient provincial boundaries, and everything else that Jacobins, Whigs, and their imitators or collaborators would wish to iron out, to put it at its very mildest, in the name of progress.

At present, the FN has a thoroughly républicain approach, not only to regional peculiarities, but also and increasingly to secularism.

However, if a new movement is indeed arising out of much or most of it and much or most of the UMP to give voice to those who would thus rise in electoral revolt against an increasingly Islamised, or at least to their mind no longer recognisably French, Île-de-France, then such a movement is likely to be most popular the further from Paris one travelled both geographically and culturally.

It is likely to be a movement very largely conducted in Breton and Corsican, in Provençal and West Flemish, in Occitan and Franconian, in Catalan and Alsatian (already spoken by a goodly number of FN supporters), even in Basque.

And even in places not quite as different as that, the call will be for ever-greater rural, traditional, Catholic, even French-speaking autonomy from a centre actually or apparently less and less characterised by such features, or even tolerant of them.

Thus, a movement sincerely intended to save France might very well end up destroying her.

Orthodox Jews and the State of Israel, by Yirmiyahu Cohen

Pope Francis’s current visit to the State of Israel, like the visits of his predecessors, represents the diplomatic relations that exist between the Vatican and the Zionist state.

We are a large community of Orthodox Jews who do not have relations with the State of Israel and who do not support its existence. Let’s take a few minutes to understand the reasons for that.

We are living in tumultuous times.

In the twentieth century, the Jewish people suffered the great tragedy of the Holocaust, and then what seemed to be a miraculous rebirth in their original homeland, the Holy Land.

Why would Orthodox Jews be against a Jewish state? Some think it is because the State of Israel is a secular state.

But that is not a complete answer, because if someone is doing something good (such as a volunteer ambulance service or an organization to feed the poor) we support it regardless of whether the activists are religious, secular or non-Jewish.

We praise the good that people do, and at the same time we reach out to our brethren who are not religious and try to show them the beauty of Torah.

So if having a state with an army were a good thing according to all, no one would be against it just because the leaders are irreligious. We would just try to make it more religious.

The best way to understand the real reason why Orthodox Jews oppose the state is by looking at Jewish history.

The Jewish people once had a state, in the time of the First and Second Temples. That state was destroyed and we were driven into exile two thousand years ago.

The Jewish belief has always been that “because of our sins we were exiled from our land,” in the words of the Prayerbook.

The exile did not come because we were weaker than our enemies; it came because it was G-d’s plan to atone for our sins. Furthermore, it was G-d’s will that the Torah should be spread all over the world.

It was always clear to the Jews that just as their exile did not come about due to their own weakness, it could not end with their own strength, only through repentance and the coming of the messiah.

Because G-d wanted us to stay in exile, He forbade us with an oath not to gather ourselves together and take over the Holy Land, and not to fight wars against the other nations.

This oath are written in the book of the Song of Songs and explained in the Talmud.

Because of this, when the Zionist idea was proposed by Herzl about a hundred years ago, almost all the rabbis in the world were opposed.

Even the rabbis who supported colonization in the Holy Land said clearly that they did not intend to fight wars and take over the land.

Moreover, the rabbis feared that a Jewish state would arouse the anger of the Arabs, who constituted 95% of the population of the Holy Land at the time the British took over during World War One. Wars would have to be waged, resulting in thousands of Jewish casualties.

After the state was founded, prominent rabbis continued to oppose it.

For example, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum (1887-1979), was the most vocal opponent of Zionism at this time. He spoke for all his life on the subject of Zionism and published two scholarly books on the subject, proving that the existence of the state violated Jewish law.

Another vocal critic of Zionism was Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, who never ceased to cry over the destruction and danger brought upon the Jewish people by the State of Israel.

Today there are large groups of Jews – about half of the Orthodox world, in fact - who are opposed to the state on principle and will not wave its flag or recite prayers for it.

It is often claimed that Jews who oppose Zionism do not love the Holy Land, or do not care about the millions of Jews living there. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Jews who oppose Zionism love the Holy Land so much and yearn so much for the redemption that they cannot stand to see the Holy Land turned into a mockery of the redemption by people who could not wait for G-d to fulfil His promises.

Jews who oppose Zionism love their fellow Jews in the Holy Land so much that they cannot stand to see even one life lost for the sake of a state.

Zionists, on the other hand, hear about Israeli army casualties and say, “This is the price we must pay to have a state.”

One issue in which our opposition to Zionism comes to the fore is the current effort by the Israeli government to draft the Orthodox into its army, and the Orthodox refusal to comply.

People ask: shouldn’t we do our share? The answer is that it is not only us Orthodox Jews – no Jews should serve in the Israeli army. There should not be an Israeli army or a state.

It would be like asking why Orthodox Jews do not work on Saturday – shouldn’t they do their share of the work?

The answer is, obviously, that no Jews are allowed to work on the Sabbath. It is just that the Orthodox are the only Jews who actually follow Judaism and care what the Torah has to say.

And while we cannot convince the Israelis to give up their state at the present time, we must still maintain our own adherence to the Torah, and we believe that in the end, the truth will prevail.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Being Israeli and Being Palestinian Are Twin Identities, by David Lindsay

When Shimon Peres and Mahmoud Abbas kneel in prayer in Rome alongside Pope Francis, in what capacity will each regard the other as being there?

Being Israeli, as distinct from being Jewish, and being Palestinian, as distinct from being Arab in general and Greater Syrian in particular, are twin identities, created by exactly the same events at exactly the same time, a time which is still within living memory.

Zionism and the modern concept of Filastin (which, like Arab nationalism in general, was and is an expression among the oldest inhabitants of the Land of popular Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican Christianity as it organised itself politically among students at American “mainline” Protestant missionary universities) were both new at the time, and each had very few adherents, although of course those believed that huge numbers of other people ought to agree and identify with them.

Now, in both cases, they do. By definition, there were no Israelis before the creation of the State of Israel. But there are now, quite distinct from Jews at large, and not all Jews in any case.

Even leaving aside the large and growing Arab population, which is the majority in half of the land area within the 1948 borders, there are Russians who refuse to eat kosher food and who insist on taking their Israeli Defence Force oaths on the New Testament alone, the Russian Nazis, the East Africans who have invented a religion based on the Old Testament brought by Christian missionaries, and the Peruvian Indians, with even the Pashtun are now classified as a Lost Tribe with a view to airlifting them to Israel in future, since at least they are not Arabs.

If Israel does not want to become a haven for Russian Nazis, then she needs to repeal the Law of Return, declaring that she is now a settled culture and society in her own right, and precluding any wildly impracticable demand for a corresponding right on the part of Palestinian refugees or their descendants.

The people who will do anything for Israel except live there, and who throw their weight around in demanding policies that suit their prejudices expressed from comfortable berths thousands of miles away, could thus be told where to go, or not to bother trying to go.

In any case, Theodor Herzl denied the possibility, once the Zionist State had been founded, that Jews, as such, could then continue to exist anywhere else. They would have lost the right to call themselves Jews, according to the founding father of Zionism.

If Hamas really can never come to terms with the existence of the State of Israel, simply as a fact of life, then with what did it imagine itself to have been negotiating, thereby scoring the significant public relations victory that was the release of hundreds of detainees in 2011?

For that matter, if Israel can never deal with Hamas, then what was she doing in the case of Gilad Shalit, and would she rather that he had been left to rot?

If there cannot be a Palestinian State, contrary to the position of the last Republican President of the United States, then with whom and with what have the Israelis ever been negotiating?

Those interlocutors do not seek recognition of a Muslim state; on the contrary, the Palestinian Authority already operates a Christian quota without parallel in Israel, though corresponding to similar arrangements in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iran. They do not even seek recognition of an Arab state.

Ever since 1993, they have recognised Israel within her borders before 1967, and, although they ought also to claim the territory to the east that a Palestinian State would rapidly come to include, they seek nothing more than recognition of Palestine within the territory captured in that year, the home of everyone who lives there, and if anything an emerging or emerged Orthodox Jewish refuge from godless Zionism.

The only problem is with recognising Israel as “a Jewish State”, condemning a fifth of the population, including the world's most ancient Christian communities, to the second class citizenship from which the Israeli Constitution theoretically protects them, however different the practice may be.

As things stand, Israel already deals with what can only realistically be described as a Palestinian State on so regular basis and so successful a basis that the President of that entity is openly opposed to the strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

Monday, 19 May 2014

AN Independence from Europe, by Mike Nattrass MEP

AN Independence from Europe tops your ballot paper.

It is led by Mike Nattrass MEP, who has stood at elections against the EU takeover since 1994. A vote here is a vote to leave the EU. The party currently has two MEPs and eight Councillors.

AN INDEPENDENCE FROM EUROPE rejects EU domination, as laws must be made at Westminster.

Currently, EU pressure for its members to "privatise" services causes concern. This fashion leads to threats of the privatisation of the NHS privatisation, which already struggles with debt due to excessive interest charges from private funding.

The NHS does not need privatisation of parts of the service, providing yet more costs and loss of coordination.

The global trading UK is restricted by EU domination and regulation. Leaving the EU will provide better trade with the world, including our Commonwealth and the EU.

Liberation from the EU will close “open borders.” The UK will control the influx of people by work permits and scrutiny, easing pressure on housing, schools, hospitals and local authority services, whilst helping to employ unskilled workers and the young.

The cost of EU membership (more than £55m a day) is wasted money, which should be invested in the UK.

The EU, having failed its accounts for 19 years, shows no sign of stopping massive levels of fraud.

The party say that back in the 1970s, Edward Heath assured voters that “The Common Market” was about trade and would not affect sovereignty.

The status changed to European Union (note the word Union), and the President of the Commission now states, “This is the new European Empire into which you have pooled your sovereignty.”

The fraud of our entry and surrender into the hands of the EU is well-known, and the people of the UK should repudiate any illegal agreement seeking to take power from Westminster.

Regulations, many unsuitable for the UK, are set into concrete by the EU. Changes, approved by all 28 countries of the Union, make alterations next to impossible.

Thus, privatisation of our postal service and post offices was lead by EU regulations stopping subsidy and opening up the “monopoly”.

The Lib/Lab/Con Party voted for these regulations with apparent glee. The subsequent result has been increases in stamp costs, more junk mail, and Post Office closures.

Both party MEPs voted against these EU measures.

An Independence from Europe says that Westminster is the place where UK law and regulations must be made, not Brussels where “one size fits all” and bureaucracy rules to the extent of insanity.

A vote for An Independence from Europe is a vote to leave the EU.

At the top of your ballot paper is your option to vote clearly against EU membership.

The National Health Action Party, by Deborah Harrington

The National Health Action Party was launched 18 months ago by doctors and health workers seriously concerned at the impact of the government’s massive top down NHS reorganisation.

This has wasted billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money. It has also led to the closure of A&E departments and local hospitals, massive understaffing of doctors and nurses, harmful rationing of care and the NHS 111 shambles.

One of the co-founders is the former Independent MP and physician Dr Richard Taylor, who won at two general elections campaigning against the closure of his local hospital at Kidderminster.

The other is cancer specialist Clive Peedell, who has announced he will be challenging David Cameron in Witney in 2015.

Their vision is to create a party which will put the health of the nation back at the heart of the nation and the heart of our national politics.

We believe that the NHS means more than a system of healthcare. Its creation as a social institution reflected national solidarity, expressed the values of equity and universalism, and institutionalised the duty of government to care for all in society.

The NHS marked out a space where the dictates of commerce were held in check.

Those values are under attack from increasing commercialisation and the Coalition’s Health & Social Care Act (2012), which removed the duty of government to provide a health care service for all.

There is clear evidence that the privatisation of the NHS is accelerating under this government.

On just one day recently, £1.2bn of contracts were put out to tender. Since last April 70% of all contracts put out to tender have gone to non NHS commercial companies.

We are standing a full slate of candidates in London in the Euro elections.

Our principal candidates are healthcare professionals who have been involved in the fight to save our services.

Our focus is on the NHS, which faces having the privatisation irretrievably locked in by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement currently being negotiated between the EU and US.

We are calling for the NHS to be exempted from this deal.

Our policies are founded on the relationship between health and all other aspects of our national economy. 

Health care provision is fundamental to addressing issues of housing, education, poverty, food standards and employment.

Dr Louise Irvine is standing in London as one of our candidates for the European election. Dr Irvine is Chair of the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign and led a successful court action against Jeremy Hunt in both the High and Appeal Court in defence of her hospital. She has this to say about the importance of your vote:

“Our key challenge in defending the NHS is that most people don’t know what is happening to it – it is being privatised and starved of funds. They have been kept deliberately in the dark. So anything which helps get the word out and gains much needed attention on the issue is worth doing.

Winning a Euro seat on a single NHS issue would have a huge impact. It would show people were waking up to what was happening and were angry. It would put the NHS on the political agenda. A recent poll showed that 1 in 4 people think the NHS is the most important political issue yet this is not reflected in media coverage.”

We are also standing a small number of candidates at local council level, in Cheltenham (St Paul’s ward), Rotherham (Sitwell ward), Plymouth (Plympton St Mary ward), Liverpool (Anfield & Wavertree wards), Enfield (Town ward) and Fulham (Munster ward).

Vote for the NHS, or lose the NHS. The choice really is that clear.

Why Vote in the European Elections?, by Alan Sked

Last time about a third of the British electorate voted in the European elections. Two thirds did not bother. Most Europeans did not bother. Why should they have?

The European Parliament cannot change anything. It rarely knows what is going on. The unelected European Commission initiates policy, agrees with the Council in secret how to shape legislation and gets the federalists in Parliament to rubber stamp almost everything whether they are aware of what is happening or not.

The European Court of Justice will always paper over any cracks with legal approval later.

There is no official opposition in the Parliament. There would be no point of having one. It might conceivably vote out the Commission (this happened once) but most Commissioners would just return (they did last time) and the same politicians and bureaucrats would run things.

Party manifestoes in European elections cannot therefore make promises that can be implemented. There is no democratically elected government to change or toss out of office.

The EU is anti-democratic. It is run by people who failed at politics in their own states (Brittan, Kinnock, Patten, Mandleson etc.). Baroness Ashton, the Labour Party’s former quango queen, who heads foreign affairs, has never been elected to anything in her life.

When small states vote down treaties in referendums, they are forced to vote again till they get it right. The Constitutional Treaty which was voted down by the French and Dutch was, of course, altered by 5% and pushed through parliaments as the Lisbon Treaty.

Since these treaties are all technically amendments to the Treaty of Rome, they should all fail if they do not achieve the necessary unanimous vote. They should never be resurrected. People who oppose them cannot ask for new votes in states that vote yes.

Yet what Brussels wants, Brussels gets.

Recently that has included imposing technocratic governments to replace elected ones in Greece and Italy, and ordering these governments and others to pass precise legislation according to a precise timetable designed in Brussels and Berlin.

In any case, according to the Interior Ministry in Berlin, 80% of all European domestic legislation now originates in Brussels anyway. The leader of the EU Liberals, Graham Watson, put the figure at 75%.

The EU is also corrupt. Its expenses, salaries, perks and pensions are an affront to the European unemployed created by its failed single currency experiment.

Its accounts have not been signed off by the European Court of Auditors for at least eighteen years. If it were a  trading company it would have to cease trading.

Membership costs a bomb. According to independent cost-benefit analyses the annual cost of EU membership to Britain is about 4% of GDP –10% if opportunity costs are factored in. That is £40 billion or £100 billion.

But is the EU really necessary?

It represents a rapidly declining share of world GDP; has no defence or security profile; has no influence in foreign affairs; and is in demographic decline. Once Germany’s population goes down by 20% over the next few decades, its leading economy will be sunk.

So why keep this useless bureaucratic monstrosity? To stop war in Europe? The only threat to Europeans after 1945 was posed by the USSR.  That was deterred by NATO and the USA’s nuclear arsenal, not the EU.

To raise living standards? It doesn’t do that anymore. No, we need a post-EU Europe.

Please do not vote in the forthcoming European elections. The mainstream parties are peddling lies about the EU and its benefits.

UKIP, which I founded, has no reason to be there. Its previous MEPs have mostly been incompetents or charlatans, who play no constructive part in the parliament and have been corrupted by expenses.

Every true democrat should stay at home.

The View from Durham Roundabout, by Godfrey Bloom MEP

We shall soon be asked to cast our vote on the Euro Elections, a mysterious organisation to most people who are largely bewildered as to membership implications.

Can they be blamed? Public sector broadcasting and the press, both extremely partisan never seem to bother to outline how it works or how it affects their lives.

Over 70% of our law now comes from Brussels. The only serious in depth study on Brussels and National Law was by the German Government who came to the figure of 80%. These estimates are broadly unchallenged by the Commission or Bureaucracy.

At election time some politicians try to spin it is 10% because the House of Commons only logs community law via a rather arcane assessment procedure. This is too absurd to go into here.

English Law is based on common law and statute law and can be traced, as a system, back to the time of Alfred the Great. Well before Magna Carta.

European Law, Corpus Juris or Napoleonic Code if you prefer is prescriptive. It tells you that which you may do rather than that which you may not. This means since joining the EU our system has been overtaken by the highly legalistic approach to government.

We now have had more law passed since 1997 than the entire period from the Bill of Rights of 1688/9 to the election of the Blair government. In the last 10 years I have seen about 2000 pieces of legislation a year go through the ‘parliament’ which is the amending chamber. Most of it is trivial.

Or is it? A few examples, novelty food ingredients, bottle shapes and sizes, tractor seats, tail gate lights and light filaments, the list is endless. Energy, food labelling, fishery, agriculture, employment policy all come from Brussels.

My desk in the last 10 years has been swamped with pleas from small businesses to vote against some piece of legislation. The effect of which would be to put them out of business. Three packaging companies, a bottling plant and a vending machine company to mention just a few.

The lawyer, regulator and civil servant love all this. Jobs for the boys.

Big businesses dislikes it but know that the unholy political alliance works in their favour. Small and medium size businesses account for nearly 80% of the UK economy and they are in despair.

The political rhetoric is less than helpful. Almost impossible to discern the truth and then translate it into the sound bite land of television.

‘3 million jobs depend on our membership’, an absurdity of infinite and obvious stupidity. The proposition that political union is essential to trade is economically illiterate on an awesome scale.

Over 40 countries now have completely free trade agreements with the EU without the baggage of petty regulation that spews forth from it.

Stand at the roundabout in Durham City and watch Hyundai’s, Kia’s, Subaru’s and Jeep’s shoot past. Our shops are stuffed with Chinese goods. Your vacuum cleaner was probably made in Malaysia.

The argument is to frighten the factory workers whose company has a European export market. Is it likely they will impose tariffs when we are massive net importers from Europe?

Will BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen stand for tariffs? Of course not. Our trade grows exponentially with North America and the Far East. It continues to shrink with the EU.

Demographically and economically the EU is in decline. Addicted to welfarism, statism, bureaucracy and crony capitalism we are already entering the end game.

Youth unemployment is 50% in Greece, Southern Italy and the Iberian Peninsula. Averages 30% everywhere else with the exception of Germany (9%). This is unsustainable in any society.

Even Germany who bankrolls the EU has a debt ratio of 80% of GDP. It is owed £900 billion by the shadow banking system.

Like the rest of the world, government debt is beyond any hope of repayment and default or hyperinflation is the inevitable outcome. No it is not different this time.

So, whom do you vote for in the election?

The fiat currency debt Tsunami will actually make it irrelevant as the EU in five years time will not exist as it does now.

If you believe in the European dream, which is not incidentally an ignoble one, the honest vote is Liberal Democrat.

If you want self-government, or indeed even self-misgovernment, vote UKIP.

The 4 Freedoms Party: The UK EPP, by Dirk Hazell

Reforming Europe matters for Londoners’ jobs: IT, finance, services, and others.

It follows that Londoners need a strong voice in the European Parliament to safeguard jobs, pensions and public services.

Europe’s strongest political party is the mainstream EPP European People’s Party.

The EPP is the party of Germany’s Angela Merkel, Ireland’s Enda Kenny, Poland’s Donald Tusk, and Sweden’s Fredrik Reinfeldt.

These are leaders who should be Britain’s closest friends and allies in reforming Europe. Unfortunately for Britain, the Conservatives left the EPP in 2009.

In the 2009-14 European Parliament, there were more EPP MEPs than in the Tory plus UKIP plus Green plus LibDem groups combined.

This matters for many reasons.

A study by the London School of Economics shows the Conservatives in the European Parliament are weak and marginalised.

The bigoted anti-women, anti-gay and anti-green views within the Conservative group’s odd collection of fringe parties clash with London’s openness. Indeed, since January 2013 in two votes out of three, the Conservatives’ group sided with UKIP’s.

As at the time of writing this article, disturbing revelations have come to light about the Tories’ discussions with hard right parties in an attempt to save the group they created on leaving the EPP.

VoteWatch Europe’s data reveals that the UKIP and Tory lead candidates in London have missed so many roll call votes they are in the bottom 10 per cent of MEPs.

As for the Liberals’ EU group, the British and Germans currently form the largest delegations. But YouGov surveys suggest only 1 in 4 of those who intended to vote LibDem in 2010 intend to do so in 2014.

In Germany’s 2009 General Election, Liberals had won 93 seats, but they lost every single one in 2013. London needs not a declining, but a strong and growing, voice.

The EPP is not only by far the strongest party: it is the best available party.

In the last five years, the EPP secured billions of pounds to get young people into work, help 4 million Europeans to train, and help 300,000 small firms.

The EPP simplified rules for small firms but strengthened consumer and health rights, environmental protection and external border controls.

We support the 4 Freedoms in President FD Roosevelt’s iconic 1941 Address: freedoms of speech and faith, freedoms from want and fear.

We also support the 4 core EU freedoms of movement of people, goods, services and capital. This is no licence to defraud social security.

We believe government should be local to people. People know best what works for them and Brussels and Whitehall must listen to them.

More broadly, the EPP believes every person deserves the greatest chance of fulfilment.

This includes both helping businesses to offer good and sustainable jobs, and also offering protection with dignity to the vulnerable.

It is a harshness sapping the soul of society when billionaires are richer than ever but others are having to turn to soup kitchens.

British politicians, not “Brussels”, are responsible for problems like housing shortages, educational and training shortfalls, archaic transport, aircraft carriers without planes, and substandard cancer care.

The truth is London needs Europe and Europe needs London: we all need reform!

In this election, we offer a strong team with real business experience and knowhow on getting results in Brussels.

Our candidates include an Irish woman, a British man with a Polish father, a French woman, and native Londoners.

As MEPs in Europe’s strongest Party, we will restore London’s strong voice: Europe’s leading city, Europe’s leading party.

We a strong economy with opportunity for the young, alongside protection and dignity for the vulnerable.

Although this is not a General Election, others dwell in their Manifestos on issues for the British Parliament to decide:  sterling, referendum, and opt outs.

We will focus on safeguarding millions of Londoners’ future jobs. We have five priorities:-
  • help Londoners to do more business anywhere in Europe and beyond. We agree with the CBI and TheCityUK: Europe must be more open and complete major trade deals with, for example, the USA.
  • digital union not digital divide: 1 in 4 new jobs for Londoners comes from technology. London needs an EU single digital market. We support free WiFi across Europe.
  • improved education, skills and training for all Londoners, regardless of postcode: we will help you to benefit from open opportunities for education, training and work experience such as the 40 per cent increase secured by the EPP in the Erasmus+ scheme.
  • lighter regulation for smaller firms: most Londoners work for smaller firms. We agree with what the Federation of Small Businesses says that they need.
  • safeguarding freedom, justice and the environment: Thames winter floods reminded us that London depends on a healthy planet. All Europeans need affordable, secure and sustainable energy.
Treating people with dignity includes safeguarding freedom and human rights such as privacy and protection, for example from terrorism and crime.

We offer what people want: we are experiencing exceptionally high correlation between awareness and support.

While the converse is also true, it is certain that if sufficient Londoners know what we offer, we will do well.

The Pirate Party, by Andy Halsall

There is something slightly strange about politics in the UK at the moment. Something that doesn't get that much coverage in the media hubub. It's something that isn't upfront in most politicians' election campaigns.  If you take a moment to look, you can see it almost everywhere.

During last year's local elections, the one thing that Pirate Party activists were told time and again by the people we spoke to, whether on the doorstep, in their flats or on the street, was:

"I don't vote, because it doesn't change anything."

There is a sense of powerlessness over the forces that shape our lives and the space around us. A feeling that decisions are made but we aren't included.  That governments whether local, national or European can do what they do regardless of what we want.
Ever increasing privatisation means many aspects of our society, from housing to the NHS, are being divided up and parcelled out. It can be impossible to find out who is responsible for the most basic aspects of our environment, public space and services, let alone get anyone to do anything. 

Huge companies, vested interests and foreign governments seem to get more of a say than we do in the agreements that shape our economy and society. We are left out, where we should be at the heart of decision making. We are kept in the dark, when we should be being kept informed.

There are plenty of problems.

In the UK, we are constantly scrutinised and monitored, whether it is by Europe's biggest array of surveillance cameras, or by our own and 'friendly' intelligence services. Here in the UK, companies like ATOS are paid to check we are ill enough to be off work. 
When it comes right down to it, in a country of physical barriers, many of us look to the internet as a place where we might retain some freedom, some control. But here too, as we have heard from whistleblowers and from our own governments, we are increasingly to be watched, restricted and monitored. The result of that snooping is targeted advertising, social analysis, and intelligence reports. The product is you.

We never hear about freedom of movement anymore. About the ability to live, work and play anywhere in Europe. Remember, it cuts both ways. All we hear is how one party or another may deal with the 'problem of migration'.  The same isn't applied to the free movement of goods or services. Of course not!

Do we want to live in a society where our jobs can be sent abroad to the lowest bidder, but we can't follow? Where European workers can't come to the UK to improve their lot and give us the benefit of their skills? Limiting that one freedom changes the balance, but not in our favour.

Oh, and the customs queue at Manchester airport will be murder.

That can't go on.

Our government has created a state where the default answer is 'No'.  In this 'No' cultur,e it's not surprising that people begin to feel that nothing can change. This is, more than anything, what the Pirate Party wants to change. 
Yes, people know us best for talking about digital rights, yet at the heart of our politics is the right of everyone to share knowledge, to innovate and to prosper. That is the way to take control over the world around us.

This is especially true when it comes to the European Union. Too many of our politicians are doing what they think might win them votes. Rather than talking about policy, they are shouting about personalities.  Rather than fixing the problems with the European Union, and there are many, they would rather use them as an excuse to do nothing. Our politicians prefer to say 'No' to change, 'No' to innovation and 'No' to building a better Europe.  

There are solutions...

The Pirate Party isn't like that. We want Europe to work, and we want the chance to convince you to be part of a Europe that works.  
For us, that means holding a referendum on our membership of the EU. It means making the case for the changes that are needed so that we remain a member. We need to be part of a better European Union.

We don't accept that the European Union can't be fixed, or that it is broken beyond repair. We know that our elected representatives in Europe need to hold the balance of power, to be able to make the changes needed, to introduce legislation and to respond to the need of those who elected them. Right now, they don't.

Vote Pirate

We know that we can help to build a society which breaks the feeling of powerlessness.  A European Union where our voices are heard and our concerns addressed.  This won't be an easy task. 
In Europe, we will need to curb the influence of lobbyists.  We will need to cooperate with other European countries to address the democratic and structural issues we see. 

The ideas are right here, they shouldn't come from pure ideology, dogma or think-tanks. Every policy is just an idea, a way to do it, and evidence that it will work. Everybody can get involved in that, everyone has something to contribute. 

That is why we are standing three excellent candidates in Dr Maria Aretoulaki, Dr George Walkden and Jack Allnutt. Maria is a small business owner in Manchester, George is a University Lecturer and Jack is a committed civil liberties activist.  We know that they can help bringout the ideas that we need, share them, and work to have them implemented in the European Parliament.

We have enough experience to know that it won't be easy; we are not naive. But it can and will be done. The test will be to see if the same voters in years to come feel that they really can change something, because by voting Pirate on the 22nd of May they will.

Lend No2EU Your Vote, by Bob Crow

The Lanchester Review is grateful to Brian Denny of No2EU for this, the late Bob Crow’s last ever article:

On May 22, we are asking you to lend us your vote and back No2EU: Yes to Workers' Rights, an electoral coalition that supports workers' rights, decent public services and peace. The European Union is a threat to all those things.

Across Europe, unemployment is exploding while the EU intensifies its attacks on workers' and trade union rights and the public services they rely on.

On top of that, the EU is deploying troops in Africa on the pretext of humanitarian intervention while funding fascists in Ukraine to overthrow the elected government.

All these imperialist antics are being carried out in our name as, under the Lisbon Treaty, we are now EU "citizens."

Public services, including postal, transport, energy, education and health services, are being privatised as part of the EU austerity agenda being imposed on member states by unaccountable EU institutions.

But the voices of working people are not being heard.

The failure of the major parties to represent them has led to a political vacuum which is being filled by Tory outriders like Ukip or, worse, groups like the British National Party.

Yet the major parties, including the Green Party, continue to tell workers to put up with EU membership because of alleged benefits from EU legislation such as the working time directive and the agency workers' directive.

But these very limited and fast-disappearing "rights" represent little more than a sugar-coating for the EU liberalisation and privatisation agenda.

Moreover, none of these "rights" deal effectively with mass unemployment or the introduction of zero-hours contracts and low-paid workers being forced to work in multiple jobs.

So why haven't the much-lauded EU Agency Work Regulations defended these vulnerable workers?

First, the regulations that claim to ensure agency workers enjoy the same basic pay and conditions as permanent workers only kick in after 12 weeks on the same temporary assignment.

Then the so-called "Swedish derogation" in the regulations assists employers to avoid any obligation for workers to receive basic pay and conditions comparable to a permanent worker.

The directive is actually normalising casualised labour as a new reality for millions of workers.

The EU is also stripping workers of their rights through harsh anti-trade union EU court rulings and strict bailout conditions on many states.

For instance, in Romania the EU has demanded an end to collective bargaining. In a country where 98 per cent of workers were previously covered by collective agreements, that figure has been reduced to little over 20 per cent.

The EU is imposing endless austerity on hundreds of millions of people through series of treaties, diktats, directives and bailouts at the behest of big business and the banks that caused the current financial crisis.

This is driving millions into poverty across Europe by imposing austerity measures particularly in countries like Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus, among others. The pro-EU Tory-Lib Dem Coalition is happy to follow suit.

The EU and the US are also currently secretly negotiating a treaty designed to open all service sectors, including health, to so-called "competition."

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) poses a severe threat to the very existence of our National Health Service.

TTIP opens all public services to competition, and healthcare is treated the same as education, construction, transport or waste disposal as another opportunity for profit.

Under TTIP, lawsuits can be brought against national governments, and a panel of lawyers will award damages based solely on commercial considerations.

This is being imposed without democratic discussion, negotiated by the EU and requiring no approval of national parliaments.

This EU business model of liberalisation, privatisation and fragmentation is already doing a lot of damage to our transport and postal services in the name of corporate profits.

Under the EU's fourth rail package, the EU is pushing for the introduction of compulsory competitive tendering and privatisation for all rail services across Europe.

But No2EU wants to see a different Europe - one made up of democratic states that value public services and do not offer them to profiteers, states that do not put the interests of big business above that of ordinary people. We believe that EU structures and rules make this impossible.

Vote No2EU on May 22 to say:

  • Yes to workers' rights;
  • Yes to an exit from the EU on the basis of socialist policies;
  • Yes to keeping Britain out of the eurozone;
  • No to austerity whether from Brussels or from Britain;
  • Yes to the rejection of all EU treaties and directives that curtail democracy, encourage social dumping and demand privatisation;
  • No to EU trade agreements like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US which threaten our NHS;
  • Yes to scrapping EU rules preventing member states' control over economic policies;
  • Yes to the development of sustainable manufacturing, agriculture and fishing industries in Britain;
  • Yes to the repeal of anti-trade union EU court rulings;
  • No to racism and fascism, and Yes to international solidarity of working people;
  • No to EU militarisation and an EU army; and
  • Yes to the restoration of democratic powers to EU member states.
  • Wednesday, 14 May 2014

    Looking Back at The Radical Tradition, by Taym Saleh

    The Radical Tradition: Twelve Essays on Politics, Education and Literature (edited by Rita Hinden, Penguin, 1964) is a series of pamphlets, speeches and newspaper articles given over a 40-year period, from 1914 to 1953, by RH Tawney, the eminent economic historian, Christian ethical socialist, and Labour intellectual.

    The essays cover much ground: the first three are profiles of the nineteenth-century radicals William Lovett, Robert Owen and John Ruskin; four discuss the problems of public school education, and the promises of secondary education reform and adult education; another four discuss the real meaning of economic and political liberty, and how the State and the market relate to true liberty; and the final piece examines the capacity of literature to express the age’s social conditions.

    To read it today is to peer into a world where the Left had to justify itself thoroughly, truly had to build something in opposition to the objects of its assaults, for before 1945 the Labour movement lacked the resorts of habitual loyalty, clichés and stultifying habits of mind.

    A few choice glances of this volume will, I hope, prove enough to understand some of the differences and continuities in the development of Labour thought between then and now, and between him and us.

    In 1919 the government set up a commission chaired by a High Court judge, Mr Justice Sankey, to examine the state of the coal industry. By a narrow majority, it recommended that the industry be nationalised. Tawney sat on the commission, and wrote a pamphlet explaining the case for public ownership.

    In describing the iniquities of private management of the industry and the advantages of the alternative, he goes through the usual arguments of exploiting economies of scale and transferring profits from shareholders to consumers and workers. But he also says something else:

    ‘The difference between its [the coal industry’s] conduct under public ownership and its conduct today is threefold. In the first place, it would be administered, not in order to pay dividends, but in order to provide an economical service of coal for the public. In the second place, each unit would be part of a team, and would not aim at cutting its neighbour’s throat. In the third place, the workers themselves would have a direct responsibility for its efficiency, and sufficient power to make that responsibility a reality.’

    The workers would participate in the decision-making processes of the industry and sit on the committees concerned, ‘but not as mere critics, but as men who can translate their ideals and experience into practice, and who bear the liability for making them a success.’

    It is unsurprising that an advocate of nationalisation would try hard to counter the wariness of stifling bureaucracy and of the overbearing state. Nevertheless, Tawney’s description of his (and the commission’s) preferred model for a publicly-run industry is striking for modern inhabitants of this post-nationalisation world.

    Whitehall is conspicuous by its absence. The government sits in a detached position as a guarantor. The real initiative rests with the Pit Committees, the District and Regional Councils, and the National Mining Council. At each level workers sit with technical experts and managers, with power emanating from the bottom level up.

    It is a proposal for state intervention whose objective is not merely redistributive – instead it seeks to engineer a situation in which workers may improve their lot (not just their purchasing power) through their own efforts.

    Of course, any serious statist must also contend with arguments that bind markets to political liberty. Tawney’s attempt to do so is recorded in a contribution to The Christian Demand for Social Justice, first published in 1949.

    In it, he refers to FA Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, and its argument that the Planning and Organising State’s activities must entail an erosion of civil liberties that, if unchecked, will eventually lead to a Totalitarian State.

    Much of his criticism of this causal chain lies in rejecting the tendency of Hayek to attribute to the State properties, powers and motivations that exist unchanged regardless of the context of time and place.

    Why, in other words, should the Russian State be expected to behave in the same way as the British State, when they are such different creatures living in such different environments? A perfectly sensible question, I’m sure you’ll agree.

    But the defence of state economic activity goes further than that, and is, for our present purposes, more interesting.

    First, there is the keen awareness of the potential for tyranny within the market economy:

    ‘It is still constantly assumed by privileged classes that, when the State holds its hand, what remains, as the results of its inaction, is liberty. In reality, as far as the mass of mankind is concerned, what commonly remains is, not liberty, but tyranny. In urban communities with dense populations … someone must make rules and ensure that they are kept, or life becomes impossible … if public power does not make them, the effect is not that every individual is free to make them for himself. It is that they are made by private power – by landlords interested in increasing rents or by capitalists interested in increasing profits. The result is not freedom, but a dictatorship, which is not the less oppressive because largely unconscious, and because those whom it profits regard it, quite sincerely, as identical with liberty.’

    The market economy is attacked, and its opposite defended, not solely in terms of providing people with a more comfortable or desirable state of being, as one would be concerned for the welfare of a cow in a barn; rather, as with the nationalisation question discussed above, the motive impulse comes from an altogether better-rounded estimation of the worth of man.

    But the most succinct and straightforward defence of government intervention comes a couple of pages later, when he tells us:

    ‘the State is an important instrument; hence the struggle to control it. But it is an instrument and nothing more. Fools will use it, when they can, for foolish ends, criminals for criminal ends. Sensible and decent men will use it for ends which are sensible and decent. We, in England, have repeatedly re-made the state, and are re-making it now, and shall re-make it again. Why, in heaven’s name, should we be afraid of it?’

    I cannot help but find this a little dated. To call its sentiment naïve is perhaps too pejorative; ‘confident’ seems closer to the mark. It is of the same age as George Orwell’s remarks in The Lion and the Unicorn, published in December 1940:

    ‘What this war has demonstrated is that private capitalism … does not work. It cannot deliver the goods. … The lords of property simply sat on their bottoms and proclaimed that all was for the best. Hitler’s conquest of Europe, however, was a physical debunking of capitalism. War, for all its evil, is at any rate an unanswerable test of strength, like a try-your-grip machine. Great strength returns the penny, and there is no way of faking the result.’

    It is too unfair to hold the power of 1940s socialism’s pioneering zeal against it. The difference between the statist objectives of the likes of Tawney and those of later times’ less discerning Leftists must not be ignored. But it is still the case that his case required a faith in the viability in the extensive involvement of government in economic affairs, and that faith was rather easier to maintain then than it is now.

    Who now, even after the Recession of 2008, can honestly say what Orwell was getting at – ‘the question’s settled now, a planned economy is obviously better than a laissez-faire one’? On the matter of economic organisation, this is perhaps the greatest difference between the Left now and then.

    Taking a broader view, however, the key is what we can call the ‘moral dimension’ to socialism, or more tellingly the ‘moral unity’ of Tawney’s socialist world-view.

    The best glimpse into the power and nature of this belief can be found in his great history Religion and the Rise of Capitalism – an explanation of the Reformation’s destruction of the medieval attitude to social questions and its replacement by what would later become classical liberalism and rational materialism.

    It concludes ‘what requires explanation is not the view that these matters [economic relations and social organisation] are part of the province of religion, but the view that they are not. When the age of the Reformation begins, economics is still a branch of ethics, and ethics of theology; all human activities are treated as falling within a single scheme, whose character is determined by the spiritual destiny of mankind; the appeal of theorists to natural law, not to utility; the legitimacy of economic transactions is tried by reference, less to the movements of the market, than to moral standards derived from the traditional teaching of the Christian Church; the Church itself is regarded as a society wielding theoretical, and sometimes practical, authority in social affairs.’

    Now, in his advocacy of the nationalisation of the coal industry and so on, Tawney is not pressing for a return to this particular order as such.

    Rather, he asserts the moral quality of man’s existence as immovable and irrepressible, and therefore holds that people must be expected to behave accordingly, whether they are in the counting house, in Parliament, or in the home.

    It is especially apt that the believer in these notions should have written so affectionately of John Ruskin, whose slogan in his economic treatise Unto This Last – ‘there is no wealth but life’ – rings in such harmony with them.

    Ruskin, as Tawney wrote in an article published in The Observer in 1919, considers questions of art, industry, society and politics not to be compartments, but facets of a whole.

    It therefore follows that it is insufficient and a dereliction of duty, when considering economic matters, to dismiss moral concerns regarding human existence as unrelated to the supposedly objective task of discerning the course and product of mechanical human interactions.

    While applying this idea to conditions in the labour market, Tawney unintentionally makes a prescient remark on the industrial strife that would later undermine the post-war consensus:

    ‘when a society by precept and practice has fostered the doctrine that its foundation is the pursuit of personal pecuniary advantage, it will not be able to appeal to men to forgo that advantage when it happens to find the application of the doctrine inconvenient.’

    As I said at the beginning, RH Tawney’s was a time in which the Labour movement had no soft bed to relax on, no intellectual shortcuts to resort to. This prevents us from being too sweeping in our didactic comparisons with the present day.

    Nevertheless, there is a difference in attitudes that cannot be entirely attributed to this particular difference in historical circumstance.

    The chief shortcoming of the modern Left’s attitude to economy and society is most seen in the way in which a proposal to redistribute wealth from one sort of people to another is too readily justified as taking money from the Bad (bankers, corporations, utilities companies, etc.) to the Good (the disabled, single mothers, nurses, etc.).

    Some of this can be put down to the reductionist proclivity to sloganeering and clichés apparently innate to most frontbenchers, on both sides.

    But the nub of it is, I suspect, related to the instinct to treat public money spent or wealth redistributed as in themselves markers of good deeds done, a little like the way some Calvinists took each unit of wealth accumulated to be a sign of divine favour.

    This is not to dismiss the case for state intervention in the economy out of hand – much of it is very good, including the proposed interventions in the rental and energy sectors, but some of it, like tax credits in lieu of wage increases or housing benefits substituting public housing, less so – it is to point out the fragility of the holistic world-view underpinning it.

    In modern times the temptation to avoid such questions and to treat GDP or unemployment figures as the bottom line of politics, and politics itself as a great exercise in accountancy, has proven overwhelming.

    The antidote for this is not easily found. Just as economics and ethics are false compartments, so are politics and ordinary life.

    Answers to such questions as these are not to be found in the policy recommendations of think tanks or government inquiries, but in the full rhythm of thought sustained by the mass of people in their lives.

    In our irreligious age the basis for such commonalty is hard to discern. Indeed, the problem may prove genuinely insoluble.