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Editor, John Evans

Political Commentary: Leveson Lament

Nick Clegg

Why do politicians dump seemingly intractable problems into the laps of judges and lawyers?

Haven’t they learnt yet that legal eagles will take years to come to the conclusion that new laws are the only answer, while politicians will leap to legislate and play brinkman politics.

What starts as quite a simple problem that the law is fully equipped to handle — hacking phones, for example — swiftly becomes a lengthy “national debate”, a matter of conscience, and interminable party political shenanigans. Thus is Leveson.

Most of us don’t have a big stage to act out passing events on, so we tend to apply common sense. On Leveson we have concluded that the press has suffered enough for its sins, with one top-selling newspaper biting the dust, scores of journalists sent to prison — with some still pending — and millions voluntarily paid out to victims by the biggest proprietor. Even Satan would regard that as punishment enough.

Can’t the politicos see that the shock to the system administered to journalists and editors will deflect them from such acts for half a century or more? The law has already had its hundredweight of flesh. There really is no more left to compensate for MPs’ fury over their expenses exposure.

Psychologically, a powerful, shaming taboo has been erected by circumstances. No more action need be taken. The hatches are firmly battened down, never to rise again in our lifetimes.

Destroying the 300-year freedom of the press after all that, would be politics gone beserk and only deprive our civilisation of one of its most cherished pillars: freedom of expression.

Acts of spite and petty revenge may give some satisfaction to inadequate personalities, but the price to pay is that society as a whole is diminished. We have been diminished enough in recent times.

The events of this century so far only confirm what the public already suspects: They are all in it together!

John Evans

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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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Saturday Ramble: Why can’t Britain take strategic decisions?

Knight of Chivalry Equality kills quality. Therein lies the rub.

The obsession of Britain’s political class with the abstract, and virtually impossible, notion that equality can be achieved in a pluralistic society is destroying not only social cohesion, but also the power to act decisively.

Laws based on equality are, by their nature, fiendishly complex and barely justicable, except by using unreasonable force. They are specifically designed to restrain rather than set free. They represent an unwelcome European intrusion.

Thus, while China builds 50 new airports, the UK struggles with a single runway. Boris Island, an airport tentatively planned for the Thames Estuary, is out of reach for at least 30 years and probably eternity.

The buzz word of the equality movement is “fairness”. I doubt Nick Clegg ever opens his mouth without that baleful word coming out. It’s beginning to sound like the obsession it is. Let’s take a look at what fairness is, and what it’s intended to convey to voters.

Ask someone to define it and it usually boils down to: “something that works to my advantage”. That’s how Gordon Brown’s Labour Party defined it. So too the Liberal Democrats who now use it more often than Labour, even from within the Coalition.

For most people, a vague sense of Robin Hood hangs about “fairness”. Taking from the rich and giving to the poor is seen to be fair, although taking anything that isn’t yours is clearly theft, even when prosecuted by government.

In olden days, the Sheriff of Nottingham would store his loot/taxes in large caskets piled up in his personal treasury. There it would lie, perhaps for years, a huge chunk of spending power wrenched out of the local economy. No wonder they were mostly dirt poor in those days.

Today, the wealthy are one of the main drivers of economic activity by investing their treasure in companies via the stock exchange, or in special bank deposits. Cash is recycled into the most profitable channels, boosting jobs and growth.

Thus, if you take from the rich and give it to the poor, who do not invest because they have no surplus, you are depriving the economy of much of its productive driving force. In the end, that penalises the poor most.

The simple concept of fairness used by politicians is merely a vote catcher. It has no validity in the real world. It’s usually linked with “equality” which doesn’t exist in reality either. A top-down equality, forced by the state, would look very like North Korea.

Real political fairness is when everyone has a genuine job tailored to their talents, not a portfolio of welfare benefits.

As a natural-born conservative, I’ve always been attracted to Edmund Burke’s idea of the “natural society”– one in which people find their own social levels according to ability and inclination, and are able to speak out freely as they wish.

It seems obvious to me that such an arrangement results in a generally contented population, and therefore a peaceable one.

The recent, unlamented Labour government destroyed that homely consensus. Early on, it introduced a rigid system of Marxist equality legislation, based on class war principles, which imported alien doctrines and rigidities into Britain.

All manner of inoffensive folk were inexplicably demonised, and often criminalised, for views and actions that would not have been remarked upon in normal times.

Ideological correctness was the order barked from above. An Orwellian State sprouted up where once civility and civilisation stood. Society as a whole became disorganised and sullen, with serious outbreaks of violence on the streets, especially among the young of all classes. Alcoholism is now commonplace, as are hard drug habits, knife and gun crime.

All this recent misery and disorder can be traced back to obsessive social engineering by government ministers we wouldn’t trust to assemble a flat-pack whelk stall.

Equality is a dangerous matter for politicians to touch. They have no idea what complex areas of the mind they are meddling with. Equality before God, the Common Law and the Ballot Box is as far as a democratic society should go. The nation’s rule book should be vigorously defended, as it is in America.

If people are forced to bottle up their natural instincts and inclinations, with no outlets for expression, they develop severe anxiety neuroses and tensions that will increasing boil over into social disorder. People who are discontented most of the time inevitably reach for the bottle and the needle to calm their inner turmoil.

Enforcing equality of attributes is a minefield best left alone. It is also self-defeating because attributes are, by their very nature, unequally distributed across the human population. Every parent observes that fact in the personalities of their children, which are anything but equal, despite sharing a genetic makeup.

Nothing, save losing a war on homeground, is as explosively destructive of civilised values than enforced equality of attributes. Karl Marx, like all socialists, never understood human nature.

European legislation, based mostly on Napoleonic law always rankles with the instincts of a Common Law country like Britain. Parting with those freedoms since 1973 has left our leaders unable to act on the nation’s behalf.

Everything is decided in Brussels and passed through a sieve labelled “Equality”. Britain can no longer take strategic decisions because its leaders hold none of the levers of power. They are bound like Gulliver at the behest of pygmies, and seem content to occupy that demeaning position.

Only a fresh start will unlock British enterprise and release the dynamism last seen in the Victorian Age.

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.

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DIARY: Tory tailspin, Scargill and Vitamin D, Poppycock Watch: guest editors, Mottos for life, Book review: A Parenthesis in Eternity, Profundity of the Week

Nick Clegg

The Conservative Party is in a tailspin, plunging on every measure of political success and contentment.

Before I went on a break a week ago, I wrote a spoof rant on how the Tories had been partially swallowed by the Liberal Democrats. When I returned I found it was true.

First, that Chinese-dinner of a Budget in which a lot of money was shuffled around but nobody was left satisfied. It was so fiscally neutral it neutralised itself.

More importantly, when the nation’s grannies are fleeced, somebody has boobed big time. It’s no wonder top-gun Chancellor, George Osborne, tried to hide it.

Then, a story right off the pages of Charles Dickens. Wealthy gentlemen are lured into a house in central London, taken up to the top flat on the pretext of dinner and parted from a large slice of their cash. It’s such a sleek operation, the great Fagin would be proud of it.

To add to the woe, a columnist in The Times accused the Prime Minister of acting like a President, not a Prime Minister, as if he were a clone of Tony Blair. There is, of course, no vacancy for Head of State, so our PM must be thrashing around in some sort of limbo.

Dear oh dear, whatever happened to the most electorally successful political party in world history? With both Osborne and Cameron shot down within days, a gaping hole has been left at the top of government. Who will fill the gap?

Well, there’s always the Liberal Democrats.

* * * * *

At last, a fad has emerged that might just run for more than a week or two.

Fads come and go like contestants on a TV singing show. A trend only becomes a genuine movement with some staying power when the London crowd takes hold of it. If Notting Hill and Islington chic are on board, it will fly.

So what are we to make of the strangest fad to arrive in ages: a huge demand for Vitamin D? The health pages of the press are now incomplete without a piece on this miraculous nutrient, previously linked only with rickets, or bent bone syndrome. Something for the very poor only, maybe, or immigrants from hot, sunny countries?

Vitamin D3 (the natural version) is really a must-have pill to pop for a variety of conditions, not just bone-specific, but with 2,776 functions in the human body.

New research has shown a remarkable correlation between the incidence of heart disease in a country and the burning of coal in power stations. Since Britain switched from coal to other fuels during the Miner’s strike in the 1980s, heart disease has diminished amazingly.

Doctors claim the success for themselves, of course, but it really should be attributed to Arthur Scargill who almost single-handedly shut down the UK coal industry.

The mechanism operating is that burning coal puts so much sulphur dioxide into the atmosphere that it filters out ultra-violet (UV) radiation in the 295nm band. That is precisely what stimulates the skin to produce Vitamin D, which is closely associated with heart disease.

A massive project that ran almost every possible cause of heart problems through the Legal & General computer showed no link with obesity, butter fat (indeed, butter gave an inverse correlation, so tuck in chaps), and no apparent benefit from vegetables.

The shining star of this programme was Vitamin D. So put away the sunscreen and take to the beaches. It should be noted, however, that the test didn’t include cancer, especially of the skin variety, but I bet Vitamin D is good for that too, as is lots of tomatoes.

Healthspan recommends a supplement dose of 25 micrograms (ug) of natural D3 a day for optimum health.

A belated Knighthood for “King” Arthur, perhaps?

* * * * *

Poppycock Watch
Do your shoulders slump the moment you hear the words “guest editor”?

You are not alone.

The temp will almost certainly be a quangocrat or an obscure member of the literati — an aged crime or science fiction writer perhaps — or a fiercely political tribalist who despises every neck of the woods apart from his own. Contemporary poets are among the worst as they are inevitably wet and boring. Time to bail out.

Editors and producers like to think they are “breaking new ground” or “pushing the envelope” by introducing the exotic or simply bizarre into their normally sedate package. It’s also, I fear, a sneaky way of getting back at a loyal audience for their mass protests at any slight alteration in the “much-loved” status quo.

But if you ditch a winning formula for “something fresh and exciting” you will almost always be the loser.

Let’s be done with this scourge of “guest editors” once and for all!

* * * * *

In the idealistic days of one’s early teenage years, I adopted three mottos to carry me triumphantly through later life:

1. “Example is always more efficacious than precept.” Dr Samuel Johnson
2. “The higher he got, the further he could see.” Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure (Recently quoted by Charles Moore, which is what reminded me of these little gems)
3. “Never become trapped in a niche: experts are anything but.” John Evans

I made the last one up, but don’t discount it, it’s true. Overall, I reckon they have served me well. Any other suggestions?

* * * * *

Book Review: A Parenthesis in Eternity by Joel S. Goldsmith
Although this book was first published in 1963, it remains one of the few attempts to tackle the whole of the spiritual path, including the final Union with the Divine, since the great works of John of the Cross: The Ascent of Mount Carmel and The Dark Night of the Soul.

Its tone is largely Christian, with Jewish inclusions, and many references out to the author’s own organisation: The Infinite Way. Being a natural mystic, his net trawls widely through Buddhist and Hindu sources, as well as the Mystery Schools of antiquity.

The work is described as Goldsmith’s spiritual autobiography, although it doesn’t read like one. He is insistent throughout the text that mystics should follow the Mystery Schools’ observance of complete secrecy about their own experiences. He does, however, go into great detail on what to expect at different stages along the path without putting his name on it.

I don’t agree with this self-imposed reticence, which I believe hands victory to atheists and others who can criticise without response. The original edict was sensible, since the Roman Church would not hesitate to burn at the stake anyone they regarded as a heretic. That threat has now receded completely and the internet has opened up total publishing for all, whatever one might think of that.

It is, however, quite clear that this is a man who has experienced what he describes and tells it with total honesty and without bragging.

I recently got my copy from Amazon. Anyone on the Quest, or thinking about it, should have a copy of this book. Militant atheists should approach it in a generous spirit. It is all true.

* * * * *

Profundity of the Week
Introverts are the true leaders of the world, whatever extroverts may say.
See, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain (Just out).

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: What now for battered Cameron?

Britain David Cameron knows he’s in a stew. How could he not? After a series of poor judgement calls, his party is in turmoil, as are his dealings with the Gallic end of the Eurozone.

The electorate, I suspect, is reviewing its approval rating, and Brussels is in a typical anti-British strop.

Not to be left out, Nick Clegg has already drawn lines in the sand, and Paddy Ashdown has set out the Europhile stall. How out of touch they seem.

In the little matter of the medium-term fate of the Eurozone, Cameron has been sat on by the French, his proclaimed ally. And as for his one policy “triumph,” Libya, rumours are rife that it will adopt sharia law, as might fellow Arab-Spring neighbour, Tunisia. North Africa will be no bed of primroses.

All things considered, it’s not looking good for Prime Minister Dave. It wasn’t meant to be like this.

So what can he do to turn around his fortunes and retrieve the respect he has lost from his natural allies: Conservative MPs and activists, as well as Tory voters in the shires, even the wider electorate?

Doing nothing and hoping it will all blow over is not an option. The last thing he wants for the remainder of this Parliament is a series of rumoured challenges from stalking horses and backbenchers with nothing to lose. He must take back control without alienating those he needs to win the next election outright.

A popular suggestion would be that he sideline his Deputy, Nick Clegg by proposing a timetable for bringing back serious powers from Brussels. A chunky set of proposals would give substance to the announcement.

The clock might be set to start ticking the moment there is a breathing space in the Eurozone crisis, and the plan predicated on a forthcoming treaty change. That signal would be enough to change the terms of the debate.

The Lib Dems might threaten Armageddon. Pointedly, he could stress that this particular Armageddon has the Liberal Democrat’s name all over it. My guess is that they won’t. Where could they go?

Instead they might engage in internicine warfare and blocking tactics rendering them even more unpopular. Look what I’ve got to put up with, he will be able to say, we really do need a proper majority.

Sometime next year, probably in the Spring, he will have the opportunity to go to the country on a renegotiation ticket, highlighting the appalling state of Europe, to support the need for making British policy in the UK.

The proposition would have very wide support, even among Labour and some Liberal supporters. Quiescent Tories would flock to it.

The alternative — another elephant in the room — would be the worst of all possible worlds.

John Evans

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