I said that I would respond to any questions on the final comment thread.
Paul the HalfSwiss asked would you rather have eternal good health but no money or eternal riches and suffer a slow and painful existence?
The former. I try not to be a materialistic person.
Matt Revell asked will I still crop up in the comments on other people's blogs?
Almost certainly. Probably less frequently.
Sam Tarran asked whether I'll still be stalking the grounds of the blogosphere?
I shall be spending more time helping out with The Ghost Cabinet. If I get the itch to post, I might ask other bloggers whether I can do a guest blog.
Ed asked when am I coming back?
Not for a while – unless Brown calls a snap GE.
Mutley the dog asked whether I think some of these lefty types take life a bit too seriously?
Thanks for taking care of the site from time to time, Mutley. 42 of my posts are labelled games, but not everyone has a sense of humour. Maybe the NHS can help.
Unity asked whether those nasty labour bloggers bruised my ego?
In the words of Dr. Seuss "Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind". So that would be a no. ;-)
Tim asked whether I would suggest that there might be a *conspiracy* against me?
I pointed out the coincidence of receiving 4 comments in half an hour one weekday afternoon from 4 blogging buddies. Conspiracies involve deception or subterfuge, so no I wouldn’t call it a conspiracy.
Tim also asked you didn't have anything to do with Grant Shapps’ campaign in Ealing, did you?
Now who’s talking conspiracies.
This post really is the end. You've had your fill. I'm not publishing comments.
28 July 2007
I said that I would respond to any questions on the final comment thread.
23 July 2007
On 23 July 2006, the Praguetory blog was born. One year on, I've decided that the time has come to put the toy back in the box. I shall continue to use the site as my political dashboard so the blogroll will remain up-to-date.
I'd like to thank commenters, linkers and lurkers. As anyone who has read this blog knows I could chunter on at length in this post, but instead, I'll do a final entry this weekend where I'll answer any questions you leave in the comments to this post.
Matt Wardman, a good blogging friend of mine - has set up a fun poll. Not quite sure what to make of the options he is offering.
James Forsyth at the Spectator is a commentator with whom I frequently disagree (usually because his arguments are fallacious or based on false premises). He is asking whether a party has ever come back from "this far behind" to win an election. For the purpose of his question, I'll set to one side the fact that the swings at Ealing and Sedgefield would make the Tories the largest party nationally if repeated at a GE and that the Tories won the local elections by a landslide and answer the question as is.
I blogged previously on the parallels between Gordon Brown and ex-Canadian PM Paul Martin. Paul Martin called an election in 2006 where his liberal party were showing a 5% to 10% lead in the polls. The Conservatives won easily in the end as shown by the graphic. More narrative here, but the key feature of the Conservative campaign was their "policy a day" initiative that won round the public and the media. The Conservative leader Stephen Harper isn't and wasn't seen as charismatic, but he was certainly seen as authentic and substantial.
Authenticity is the word Tim Montgomerie at Conservative Home has been using to press home what the Tories need to convey to attract new votes. I couldn't agree more. But don't expect anything I say to carry any weight. In fact the opposite will probably happen, as witnessed by my reshuffle advice to the party to retain Willetts and Maude where they are and demote Osborne.
22 July 2007
My last post was my 600th published. So this is my 601st. Another Labour saddo has spent today trawling through all my posts and archiving them on his PC - and I didn't even engage him to do it! Seems like a nice bloke. I'm sure there was a good reason for him to try to get another blogger sacked in the past, so nothing to worry about. Lol.
He's also going to be on Wolverhampton Radio with Paul Uppal later this week where he'll have the opportunity to consider a monologue I have prepared relating to Gordon Brown. I'm sure his counter-arguments will be grounded in logic and reason rather than a prepared ad hominem attack - that approach certainly hasn't worked for Gordon at PMQs! - but then again, if, like Gordon, your capacity to think on your feet is limited, it's worth a try.
I'm getting deja vu.
The most commonly cited weakness of Zimbabwe is the democratic problems and I don't deny these deficiencies, but I believe that the left-wing ideology is just as much as a problem. Let's go through the roll call
- lack of legal protection for private property rights
- printing money to tackle inflation
- price controls
- state control of the media
Meanwhile life expectancy has fallen by about 30 years over the last 10 years. Zimbabwe now has the lowest life expectancy in the world. This is yet another reason why I oppose big government and left-wing ideology wherever I see it. Speaking of which a good post from The Darker Side Of Bridget Jones.
19 July 2007
I have no special knowledge about how the voters of Ealing vote and we will know soon enough, but I will say that the Tory rebuttal of the "Tony Lit donation" smear was far too weak and was a blemish in an otherwise excellent campaign. As Mark Twain said;
“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”
and indeed the lie that Tony Lit was a Labour donor was not rebutted strongly enough. Lit's response that he attends many such events in a business capacity was simply not forceful enough. The media scrum following the revelation was a chance for Tony to really put the knife into Labour. In his shoes I would have been delighted to make the following points to the press on the Sunday ;
1. I was at the function for business purposes. I agree that it is not ideal that Labour organise events like this as a front for fund-raising activities, but from a business perspective it made sense for Sunrise Radio to be in attendance.
2. The payment for the dinner was made by Sunrise Radio Ltd not me. Therefore, my lawyers will be in touch should any journalists continue to libel me by calling me a Labour donor.
3. I understand that Sunrise Radio Ltd are contacting the Labour Party as a matter of urgency in respect of this apparent breach of privacy, copyright and Data Protection.
4. Is it any surprise that the British people have so little trust in Labour when Labour can't even be trusted to keep private business arrangements confidential?
Monday's headlines start looking a bit different if he rebuts in that style. Might have been worth a few votes, but I guess that Tony Lit is new to politics. One thing is crystal though. Tony is a Tory and he has put in a sterling effort for the party. Best of luck.
The legend known as the Irregular Blogger, the linguanaut or plain old Damon Lord is coming to visit Prague next week. In Cardiff Conservative Future circles, Damon is well known for being an eternal student and a fun bloke. His post on how Facebook discriminates against Gay Lords was a particular joy.
18 July 2007
I am encouraged that many of the Conservative candidates for the London mayoralty primary have placed emphasis on law and order. Given that Lee Rotherham's thoughts on these matters are the most developed I think it's a real pity that he hasn't made the final six.
Policy plagiarism between fellow Conservatives is to be encouraged and so I hope that the other candidates read Lee's well researched article on his website and pick up some of his ideas. I'm sure he'd be happy to share his experiences and assist them with developing policy in this area.
Knocking George Bush is a popular activity. Call me unfashionable, but I bear no ill-will towards him. Nonetheless, I do think that he has deeply damaged the Conservative cause by virtue of the profligate state spending he has overseen whilst in government.
17 July 2007
An omission in my sidebar links that I've been meaning to rectify is the absence (no pun intended) of teacher blogs. Frank Chalk is the best known teaching blog although I find his (?) posts a bit hit and miss. Discouragingly, Frank doesn't link to any teaching blogs in his blogroll. Does he fear competition or does he think they're all boring?
16 July 2007
This is the view from some land I own in Slovakia. We're planning on putting some holiday cottages up on this site. The early reports we have received from our local architects relating to the basic site issues are very encouraging. Never mind being able to afford it, if this land was in the UK, it wouldn't be available for purchase.
In other good news, Slovakia's tax take as a proportion of GDP has now fallen by over 10 percentage points in the last 10 years (Source) to just 29% of GDP whilst industrial production is rising by 17% per annum and GDP growth is pushing double figures. Sounds like a good place to invest unless you're a Socialist and then of course, you won't believe the link between low taxation and economic success. ;-).
There was a big story at the weekend about a "couple who broke up for financial reasons".
Mike Rouse debated it with one of our mutual blogging mates and decided to do a post on how his views developed in the light of the story - here.
Well, the subject of the original article has contacted Mike Rouse and further altered Mike's perceptions as described in a follow up post. As a result of the turn of events Mike has a much more interesting and rounded story.
In respect of the problems faced by young couples, there is no single remedy or policy solution. In truth, there are several underlying problems that need to be tackled including public housing allocation, taxes, benefits, the overall housing market and crime. David Cameron's promise to put the interests of ordinary families at the heart of policy is an important commitment to getting on top of the malaise.
As mentioned last week, I have some posts on small government saved up. To set the scene, several of my favourite political insights are summed up by the following Reagan quote.
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, 'I'm from the
government and I'm here to help.'
If uttered by a Labour politician it would certainly send a shudder - Caroline (Supernanny) Flint (honourable mentions to Brown and Blair) being the modern British politician who has, in my opinion, come furthest on the trajectory of taking state "help" to its natural totalitarian conclusion.
It's a most unfortunate paradox that although at the micro level, it is preferable to have political representatives who are both willing and able to serve/act for their electorate, at the macro level preferable to have a political leadership with a natural and confident bias for inaction.
Labour's legislative frenzy (98% of which is done via statutory instrument - i.e. without a full Parliamentary debate) provides evidence that they are an excellent example of a statist government. The Tory's approach to the public services and ideas such as elected police sheriffs and abolition of regional assemblies are initiatives that could reverse the tide. These are appealing ideas, but we need to communicate better with the electorate on how different our approach to governing will be.
12 July 2007
Developing... more tomorrow.
Based on analysis of official records for 300 public sector projects completed since 2005 or ongoing, the Taxpayer's Alliance have calculated a running total of £23 billion in cost overruns. I make that £75 million per project and close to a grand per household. A most horrendous case is a freaking Art Gallery in Sandwell which is £30 million over budget!
The surveyed sample only scratches the surface of a certain type of government waste and inefficiency.
Nevertheless it's about the same amount as the latest estimates for annual Czech government revenues. Pitiful.
As I have previously blogged, extortionately high marginal tax rates that low earning Brits suffer is a disgrace. Therefore, I am delighted to see that the Liberal Democrats have weighed in with a surprisingly bold and eye-catching proposal that does begin to address this important political issue.
Cynics may argue that this cut will be chewed up by their local income tax and of course we wait to see detailed analysis of their sums, but I am glad to see one of our major parties setting a tax-cutting agenda. In their statement, Ming Campbell said;
“The unacceptable reality is that in Britain today the poorest pay a higher proportion of their income in tax than the super-rich."
It is indeed unacceptable. Can Mr Osborne and his newly revitalised Treasury team please get a grip and start to give us a clue what they are going to do to tackle this issue?
On Monday April 2nd the missus and I went to the upscale Rio's restaurant in Prague. On its walls you can see lots of pictures of President Vaclav Klaus and other local luminaries. We were the only diners in the main room and the downstairs room which was empty when we arrived, was sectioned off. It was noticeable that the prowling restaurant owner was somewhat agitated by our presence.
In his wake was a youthful security guy complete with earpiece who frisked the area and stationed himself at a table between us and the stairs. Some men and some glamourous blonde women arrived. The one pictured arrived alone - in not a dissimilar outfit to the one shown here. One of the restaurant staff mentioned to the security man something along the lines of "You would, wouldn't you?" to which he replied "I don't think my boss would like it". We were going to get a dessert, but the oppressive atmosphere was hardly conducive so we decided to leave. As we left the restaurant, the owner was involved in a heated and very rude exchange with a taxi driver telling him not to come so close to the restaurant and threatening to call the taxi company to have the driver sacked!!!
In a situation mirroring the John Prescott scenario, Jiri Paroubek had criticised his opposite number Mirek Topolanek when Mirek was caught out last year. In a country where over half of all marriages end in divorce, both major party leaders have begun divorce proceedings in the past year. I don't think we're going to see a "back to basics" political philosophy any time soon here, but this is the kind of news that makes my girlfriend want me not to be involved in politics.
"Men strive to attain political power, consciously or unconsciously, in order to have reproductive access to a larger number of women. Reproductive access to women is the goal, political office but one means. To ask why the President of the United States would have a sexual encounter with a young woman is like asking why someone who worked very hard to earn a large sum of money would then spend it." Discuss.
11 July 2007
The suspension follows a Standards Board for England investigation into allegations that the councillor had breached the Code of Conduct by publishing material on his web page that was both party political in nature and also 'hateful and abusive' towards ethnic minorities.
Bob Piper, who gained notoriety nationally when he posted a mock election poster of a blacked-up David Cameron has issued a statement about the incident on his blog. Further background to Bob's experience on such matters here.
Partly as a result of a broadside from Alan, my blogging mate over at the Daily Propaganda, I've decided to try to focus on political and economic issues over the next week rather than the electoral pyrotechnics taking place in and around the Ealing Southall and Sedgefield by-elections. I'm not denying that internet politics can take a role in influencing elections, but at the end of the day, the results depend on the local electorates in what are, after all, two of Labour's safest seats.
I've been labelling my posts since the start of the year. Here are the top 20 labels used.
- blogging (56)
- Games (42)
- Labour Sleaze (39)
- Political Commentary (37)
- Conservatives (31)
- Eastern Europe (29)
- Labour Incompetence (26)
- Lifestyle (26)
- Meeja (25)
- Labour (25)
- Brown (22)
- Birmingham (20)
- Local Government (20)
- Elections (17)
- Europe (15)
- Taxes (14)
- Blair (13)
- Social Issues (13)
- Criminal Justice (11)
- Labour Factions (11)
Did I mention that I'll be helping out with a workshop on political blogging next weekend?
10 July 2007
I'd like to present some facts behind two salient elections in 2005. The UK had a general election and Iraq had its first democratic elections post-Saddam.
UK electorate - C 45 million
Iraqi electorate - C 15 million
UK turnout - C 60%
Iraqi turnout - C 70%
UK Est'd overseas voters - 3 to 4 million
Iraqi Est'd overseas voters - C 2 million
UK overseas votes - unknown - max 17,500
Iraqi overseas votes - 320,000
Us Brits really take democracy for granted, don't we? When we talk about spreading democracy, we should remember that we've also got a lot of homework to do.
08 July 2007
Thanks for looking after the blog, Roman. Regulars will be pleased to know that Roman shouldn't have invoked my name as a supporter for his deeper EU vision - I think there has been a misunderstanding about what EU reform means. Roman is a veteran of the protest "actions" of 2000 and some of his rebellious youth has persisted in his political DNA. Unfortunately, some of Roman's comments do pass muster in the student bars of red Zizkov. I'd be much obliged if anyone can accommodate Roman in London this August.
As further evidence of the old adage that it doesn't matter who you vote for the government always gets in, the Socialist opposition (CSSD) in Czech (who are in the same EU grouping as the beloved British Labour Party) are calling for a referendum on the EU treatistution whilst the ODS are denying Czechs a say.
Update May 2010 - This set of blogs were assisted by Mutley the Dog aka Robert Chambers RIP
05 July 2007
GUEST POST BY ROMAN CUNIK - PRAGUE STUDENT
A future United Europe can only be a force for good in the whole world by making as the United Nations has said, that peace and disarmament are a ways and means to to politics, not some future goal. It means
That all international relations affairs can only be viewed with the question of disarmament and peace as the crucible. Especially in the Middle East, the question is Does what we do enhance peace or make war? Does it advance disarmament or does it contribute to weaponisation?
To make a very cobcrete example - and I am sorry USA fans but here I make some constructive criticisms of USA foriegn policy. Should there be a kind of tripwire missile detection and launching system here in the Czech Republic? If so should it be in the sole control of the USA? I think no and so no to the second as well. President Bush says it contributes to security by promising to shoot down attacking missiles - from where they are flying he does not say. But it also heightens tension with the Eastern countries like Russia to have such powerful weapons systems on their borders. So I say instead approach and make disarmament deals with those countries which might fire those missiles. Then there will be no need for such defences. This peace and disarmament as a policy not a goal.
I am waiting to see who has house room preferably in Londons West End for me to stay for a few weeks this summer...in return you can stay by me in Prague 1, whenever you like.
OK, what say you??
Update May 2010 - this was a joke blog by Robert Chambers aka Mutley the Dog
04 July 2007
Like most pro-Europeans I believe that strength in unity is particularly important in today's multipolar world. We argue that a united and independent Europe has become increasingly necessary, while a politically divided one would bring disadvantages in many areas, including economic, cultural, political, social, scientific, diplomatic and military. A major argument is the relative small size and importance of the individual European countries with respect to the current and rising powers on the world scale. The individual countries have limited geopolitical influence and are unable to represent their own interests effectively. On the other hand, a united Europe, with a population and an economy larger than that of the United States, would make a viable partner, or competitor, whose opinion and interests would be taken into account on the world stage. Let us be clear - a United Europe can stand up to America - even by force of arms if needed, but hopefully it will not come to that!
I would like as well to refer to the benefits of the EU to its member states. Citizens enjoy benefits such as the right to free movement across the EEA and social benefits such as employment rights, and consumers benefit from greater choice and guaranteed standards. Such 'cost / benefit' assessments are not the most important however. We also feel that we belong to a community of people with common bonds. Further European Integration and cooperation is a peacemaking force. This is so important I feel no single member state can stand in the way, and if it s needed the European army can enforce reluctant countries to integrate in the name of their own people - that is the United European people.
If you are OK to invite me to visit you in London, please let me know,soonest as I make my summer holiday plans.
Update May 2010 - this post was written by Robert Chambers aka Mutley the Dog to wind up the serious politicos who tended to visit this blog.
02 July 2007
GUEST POST BY ROMAN CUNIK - PRAGUE STUDENT
My friend Praguetory here in Prague is allowing me to
make some posts with a set purpose of getting some
internationalist discussions going on some themes
which I can choose as being my "close to the heart"
He has warned me that there are many "aristocrats of
blogging" who are readers here and so I begin my
residence making apologies in advance for my English -
which is not as the Queens and for any naivety I may
still have about politics.
For my part I a Czech student with a big interest for
Europe and a desire to travel. I will willing accept
any invitations to stay at your country house or
London abode - I am great reader of Wodehouse and
would abide all conventions (Joke)
Today I present to you my simple agendas:
The need for a deeper as well as wider European Union,for the benefit of the people.
Peace and Disarmament as a a means to politics not a
Ways equality in wealth can be reached in a just and
fair way for all.
Praguetory has said me that he is OK with these themes
and so I invite all your comments to topic one.
Update May 2010 - this blog was written by Robert Chambers aka Mutley the Dog to wind up the serious politicos who normally visited this blog.
01 July 2007
Rumours are afoot that the major parties have struck a deal over the forthcoming Sedgefield by-election. Sources suggest that all three major parties have agreed to stand aside for Martin Dobbs, who is currently a popular local independent councillor. Under the terms of the arrangement Martin will be subject to the Liberal Democrat and Conservative whip on alternate weeks and is being lined up to serve as a junior government advisor.
A smiling Martin admitted that he had voted for all three parties in the past so the idea made perfect sense to him. Tony Blair supports the initiative saying "Martin makes a perfect cross-party candidate. People are sick of seeing the major parties campaigning against each other. I think that Martin's candidacy will be welcomed by the electorate and will help make elections less divisive".