Saturday, September 20, 2008

At some point, someone will need to make this speech

Reagan made this speech in 1981, not long after becoming President. It strikes the right balance between confronting the challenges facing his new government and striking a tone of optimism about the possibility of doing so successfully. It is neither airy waffle nor dismal and dispiriting.

"A few days ago I was presented with a report I'd asked for, a comprehensive audit, if you will, of our economic condition. You won't like it. I didn't like it. But we have to face the truth and then go to work to turn things around. And make no mistake about it, we can turn them around.

I'm not going to subject you to the jumble of charts, figures, and economic jargon of that audit, but rather will try to explain where we are, how we got there, and how we can get back."

In recent years spending, taxes and regulation have all increased and the money has been wasted on unreformed public services, long standing weaknesses in our transport infrastructure have not been addressed and we face an energy capacity crunch. All that left us chronically vulnerable with structural deficits and ongoing economic weakness outside the remarkably resilient financial services industry. A downturn in that industry has left us in huge trouble, the only major economy the OECD expects to see go into a recession this year, and likely to face a mushrooming deficit.

Curbing the rapid growth of public spending, the most important step to start addressing our long term economic problems, is going to mean treading on some toes. There will be many vested interests attached to our big state and overcoming them will require having the public on board. Making the scale of the challenge clear to the public but, at the same time, having a clear resolution to do something about the situation could earn a politician a lot of respect.

Things you learn from watching the stats on a viral

One of the sites that has linked to the Brown Calculator is TheGrumble.Com.  A generalist site for people with some gripe about the modern world?

No.  A BBS for picture framers.  Its full title is The Picture Framers Grumble.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Try the Brown Calculator

We've been busy at the TPA:

Gordon Brown calculator

The calculator is attached to a report which goes through area after area showing that Gordon Brown's economic record has been utterly dismal. It should illustrate the context to the economic gloom and the OECD's prediction that Britain is the only major economy that will experience a recession this year. Brown hasn't been the unlucky victim of international conditions but the author of his own demise.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sharia shows its face in Britain

The Sunday Times reports that Sharia courts are now in effect and their judgements are being enacted in British law. This is utter injustice:

"Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.

The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.

In the six cases of domestic violence, Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.

In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations."

These are not the fuzzy sort of judgements that apologists for the Archbishop promised would be the only ones Sharia courts could make. These are women being denied a fair share in inheritances or not having their complaints of domestic abuse followed up (after they have been pressured into accepting that they are not victims of a crime deserving of punishment). Even if their choice to use these courts was free they are signing away their legal rights as these judgements become binding and are enforced by conventional courts.

We have now created a situation where British Muslim women have to choose between their British rights or their Muslim ones. Anyone who has read the vital "Crimes of the community" (PDF) report by the Centre for Social Cohesion will know that such a choice is often far from free.

Equality before the law is dead. We might step in if some troublesome soul won't take no for an answer but otherwise many Britons now live by a different legal code to the rest of us. Such an important principle didn't die because the British public stopped caring about it or were too apathetic to make their voices heard. They reacted with utter fury at the suggestion that Sharia should be admitted as a part of British law. I'm not aware of any party manifesto ever having proposed integrating Sharia into the British legal system or even of any significant politician endorsing the idea in public.

It just sort of happened. Just like the recognition of polygamous marriages or countless other surrenders of our values that the British people never endorsed. It came about thanks to a combination of a lack of proper scrutiny of laws, this clearly isn't what the Arbitration Act was intended for, and a feeble establishment desperate for the false sense of security that can be had by appeasing those demanding Sharia.

We need a democratic revival or Britain's most cherished values are at risk.