Syntagma Digital
Editor, John Evans

Saturday Ramble: Beastly Eastleigh

Rose-tinted In a fight to the finish it’s no use writing a polite note to your opponent requesting a date for the clash some time in the future.

David Cameron’s European policy lacks definition and is causing resentment and confusion in Continental Chancellories and his own party.

Cameron specialises in the promissory-note style of politics, in which a big speech resonates for a week or two then fades from the memory, signifying nothing.

By contrast, faced with a battle, Napoleon would march his men through the night and attack at dawn when the enemy least expected it. Audacity and controlled violence were his trademarks. He conquered most of continental Europe by these means.

As Goethe put it: “Boldness has genius. Magic and power are never far behind.” He would not approve of Dilatory Dave or Ossified Osborne.

What to do about a Conservative leadership whose main characteristic can be reduced to a single word: lacklustre? This is not going to change. It’s built into their characters.

Our one-percent per annum fiscal consolidation is winning muted plaudits from the international secretariat: Olli Rehn at the EU and others at the IMF. Caution seeps out of their bones.

The Prime Minister has stitched up this Parliament with a statutory 5-year term, throwing away every element of surprise. Neither Napoleon nor the Duke of Wellington would meet their Waterloo under such terms. The worst tactic in a game of poker is to put all your cards on the table.

That woeful third place in yesterday’s byelection at Eastleigh summed up the total of Tory ambition with just two years to go until the fixed General Election date. Excitement? You couldn’t fry an ant in it.

Meanwhile, in the real world, swashbuckling UKIP zoomed into second position behind the chaotic Liberal Democrats, bowed down — but not out — by sex scandals, dodgy law-breaking MPs and Euro fanaticism. At least they were interesting.

Watching David Davis on Wednesday’s Daily Politics reminded us how Prime Ministerial he can be, when insisting to a scornful EU Commissioner that a British exit was more than possible. He was too polite to mention that the only obstacle to that blessed state is his own leader and chummy clique of mainly ineffectual cronies.

Anyone who reads John Redwood’s daily email newsletter must also ruefully reflect that he would be an effective Chancellor of the Exchequer in these dangerous times.

David Cameron is now reduced to hoping that the public will never take to Ed Miliband and will carry memories of a broken Labour-led economy into the next election. After three years, perhaps, but he’s stuck with five, and the electorate may be more inclined to blame him and Osborne for a succession of dead-cat bounces.

Two years still to go? If only it were enough.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Coming up: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website,

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POLITICS: Is Calamity Clegg manipulating clueless Cameron?

Clueless Cameron

On 19 December I wrote a Diary opinion piece under Poppycock Watch which questioned David Cameron’s slavish approval of Nick Clegg’s latest big wheeze: changing the law on the Royal Succession.

Not surprisingly, the measure would bind us into European law just when the popular groundswell is pointing to a wish to leave the ailing EU altogether.

It would also do grave damage to whole swathes of English law and precedent, requiring wholesale amendments to the Constitution, as well as antagonising other institutions, such as the Church of England.

Prince Charles has led the backlash, deeming the proposal “rushed” and, by implication, un-thought through, and wholly divisive.

The Daily Mail has begun the journalistic charge with a front-page piece on Monday from its political editor, James Chapman, and an in-depth article from commentator, Simon Heffer.

This morning, it continued the pressure with a centre-spread piece from senior commentator Stephen Glover and a report from its social affairs correspondent on opposition from the Church, which fears the Bill could lead to its disestablishment.

Was there ever such an unnecessary cock-up, which could rumble on beyond the foothills of the next general election?

The question is now being openly asked: why has ditsy Dave handed the reins of constitutional change to Calamity Clegg? Surely this should have been vetoed long ago? It’s all about competence — yet again.

When it was first mooted last year, Syntagma pointed out that, since the founding of the United States of America, there has been a woman on the British throne for around 72 percent of the time. Where’s the problem?

As usual with the left-wing of the Coalition, ie. the incoherent Lib-Dems, this is ideological not realistic. Clegg is demanding blood in exchange for the support of his ragbag party — but not on boundary changes, obviously.

The tragedy for the British State is that the Prime Minister seems willing to go along with it without examining the full array of consequences for the country he leads. It was bad enough watching his ignorance about Magna Carta on American television, a vital document that became a powerful influence on the US Constitution, as well as crucial to British freedom under the law.

Lord Strathclyde’s sudden resignation as Leader of the House of Lords yesterday could well be tied in to this constitutional vandalism.

If David Cameron has any sense of self-preservation he will shoot this down before it causes any more trouble for the Conservatives.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Coming soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website,

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Personal Opinion: Breaking the Coalition is in the public interest

Bernie Madoff

Public sector spending is continuing to grow, as John Redwood tirelessly points out, while the non-government slice of the economy — the so-called private sector — is being squeezed remorselessly and forced to shed tens of thousands of jobs.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the deficit/debt crisis the result of too much money force-fed into the public sector over the past decade and more?

The private sector was taxed to the hilt to pay for this Whitehall “exuberance” and the creation of a self-serving client state. Bernie Madoff and other “off-balance sheet” and Ponzi wallahs must have looked on in wonder.

In the aftermath of Labour’s national disaster, something is seriously wrong with the Coalition’s attempt to strike the optimum balance between wealth creators and the public realm that lives off them.

One could be forgiven for receiving the impression that the whole economy is based on an upside-down view of how the world works?

A topical example is philanthropy. The current definition involves giving money to any organisation calling itself a charity, which might include entertainment companies, foreign dance troupes, various not-for-profit outfits in which the owners take large salaries while professional fund-raisers receive a hefty percentage of what they scoop up from the innocents who contribute.

The “giver”, ie the pretend philanthropist, is rewarded for his public spiritedness by having his tax bill seriously reduced. So-called gift aid, aids the giver as well as the organisation funded. The loser, as ever, is the taxpayer who has to make up the difference in other ways.

That is not philanthropy, it’s a bung for the burgeoning shadow side of the public sector, in other words yet another means of robbing hard-working wealth producers in what has become an underground Marxist society.

The whole confidence trick is performed using familiar smoke and mirrors, plus a dark complexity to keep the truth from the punters. Gordon Brown was the master of these many deceptions. His successors are merely following in his benighted footsteps.

If the Conservatives really do have the country’s interests at heart, why are they perpetuating Labour’s shoddy stratagems? The Liberal Democrats at least have the excuse of gross naivety and a schoolgirl excitement at being in power at all.

If David Cameron and the Tories really want to serve the United Kingdom, they would break the Coalition on the grounds that it doesn’t work, then ride out the turbulence until an election is forced on them. That, at the very least, would be honorable. It might also induce some admiration from the voters.

As it is, they are neither good for man nor beast. And that goes for the rest of the Westminster mob.

John Evans
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DIARY: Too many words, Poppycock Watch: neuroscience, Official sector is coming to get you, Ebdonomics


Walter Scott was a favourite author in my early teens. I savoured the complexity of his writing and wordy longeurs. Ivanhoe was sheer bliss, as were the whole of the Waverley novels.

Don’t take my word for it, Ho Chi Minh, friend of Jane Fonda, and former leader of North Vietnam during its successful war against the Americans in the 1960s, praised the book for “its gallantry”.

And well he might, no writer did gallantry like good old Sir Walter, who took up novel writing to pay off his debts when his finances collapsed through bad investments. So well did he do that he was able to purchase the heroic Lowland estate of Abbotsford and live like a gent for rest of his days.

Now Professor David Purdie, President of the Sir Walter Scott Club, is reducing Ivanhoe by 100,000 words to a meagre 80,000. Modern folk just can’t handle all that detail, says Purdie. Perhaps Tony Blair — a reputed fan — has suggested a minimalist New Labour approach.

I’m not immune to this argument though. After two years lapping up Scott’s style, I began writing like him in long, discursive letters to friends that were rarely answered. When my economics tutor, eyeing the latest essay on Keynesianism or Adam Smith, said, “Where did you learn to write like this? It’s all Martian to me,” I finally realised that there was hardly anyone still alive who could appreciate the old boy’s prose style.

Thus at the age of consent, I narrowly avoided turning into Jacob Rees Mogg.

* * * * *

Poppycock Watch
On Saturday’s Today programme, a neuroscientist said that there was no consciousness outside the brain — a statement of such outlandish arrogance that I was left open mouthed with astonishment.

Surely a scientist is supposed to be open-minded, taking a view perhaps, but not dismissing the experiences of many millions across human history.

I was glad to see Richard Dawkins last week admitting that he doesn’t really know if God exists or not. Leaving aside how you define “God”, it means that the waspish professor can no longer claim to be an atheist. It’s the agnostic life for him now. Enjoy!

I was also left a tad wide-eyed by the view of presenter Evan Davis, who gets dafter by the day. “We must do more neuroscience on the programme,” he announced gravely, obviously siding with the loopy boffin.

Are they all nutters at the BBC?

* * * * *

Have you noticed that the public sector is rapidly shape-shifting into the “official sector”?

This is a European notion that we are absorbing step by step. Like all EU imports it is a blatant brainwashing device. “Public sector” conveys the democratic view that we all own it. The public realm is where we live, breathe and have our being.

By contrast, “official sector” is something beyond us, patrolled by a hard-faced clique of “Officials” who will not be denied — technocrats appointed by commissars who cannot be sacked by anyone except their superiors.

Truly is totalitarianism drifting in on the winds from Europe.

* * * * *

Les Ebdon is the new “tsar” for university entry, driven in by Vince Cable and the cloth-eared Liberal Democrats. The Conservative universities minister, David Willetts, agreed, effectively killing off his career prospects.

Ebdonomics decrees that educationally-deprived youngsters should get places at Oxbridge just to rub high achievers’ noses in it.

Last week I saw a local ad for a course in Nail Manicure Management. It didn’t say whether it was for an Honours Degree or a Doctorate, but it wouldn’t surprise me either way.

John Evans

who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Mystics in the Modern World is coming soon.

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Political Snippet: Nick Clegg’s schizoid speech

Nick Clegg

Liberal Democrats certainly live up to their name. On the one hand, they are genuinely liberal and add something to the general political conversation. On the other, they are card-carrying Lefties who make even the Labour Party seem innocuous.

Both strands were stitched into Nick Clegg’s leader’s speech in Birmingham yesterday rendering it incomprehensible to a mildly Right of centre, occasional Conservative supporter like me — they have to work for my vote at all times.

It’s when the Lib Dems start on their extended “equality” riff that they lose me. Clegg wove it into much of the second half of his rather stilted speech. At times he seemed almost tearful as he defended the poor and dispossessed, even the rioters of August, who came in as fallen angels in need of a hug and a helping hand. Nick intends to send them to “summer school” for their pains. I’ll bet they’re laughing fit to drop at that.

Nothing daunted, Cleggie took a long draught of the last of the summer wine and promised to remake the world into a perfect paradise basking in the haze of a surreal orange glow. Not the slightest imperfection would appear in his promised land.

But hang on. The Lib Dems are a small minority in a Coalition Government dominated by those nasty Tories that Tim Farron and Chris Huhne spat venom at not many hours ago. And the problem of inequality has never been solved in any free country. Chairman Mao’s regimented hordes are probably the closest humans have got to an equal society.

The simple logic suggests that “liberal” and “equal” are almost incompatible. They are antagonists, rising and falling against each other simultaneously. Increase one and you reduce the other. The slogan of the French Revolution: Liberty, Egality and Fraternity is nonsense except that fraternity is the higher third that unites the other two in a spiritual context. Such a society is only possible in a monastery.

Again, Nick’s localism agenda — of which I’m all in favour — is totally out of kilter with the Lib Dems perverse support for concentrating considerable power in Brussels. The latter is profoundly undemocratic, thus betraying the second word in the party’s title.

There’s no getting away from it. The Liberal Democrats have schizophrenia built into their makeup. They claim the copyright on “fairness” yet speak with the forkiest of tongues when switching from local to national. No somersault is too big for them.

The idea that the Human Rights Act will never be repealed, prompts the question, who says so? And whose army will they use to defend the wretched beast?

Clegg’s point that the original human rights document was written by British lawyers is only true up to a point. They were writing it not for Britain, which had a sophisticated and settled legal system, but for all those countries that didn’t, or had spent years under the fascist cosh. To us it seems very foreign indeed.

Weasel words piled upon weasel words. Did he not realise that most of what he was proclaiming was impossible to achieve, for Nick demanded one-hundred percent compliance. Not a hint at compromise for those who disagreed with him. Everything was overstated and pushed to the limit. In other words, unreachable and unenforceable.

I detected no mention of the EU or of monetary union, although his tone on the Eurozone drifted ever so slightly towards scepticism during the week. Even he must be conscious of the smell of burning from across the Channel.

In the end it was the speech of a political novice, an ingénue full of childish innocence. Or was it chicanery?

John Evans

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