The Absurdity Of The Margaret Thatcher Memorial Library

There is some discussion in the media of a Margaret Thatcher Memorial library, as a way of preserving her memory. It is common for retired presidents of the United States to create a library where their monumental decisions, which could have affected a world, are recorded.

They are mostly vanity projects, but may as with Franklin D. Roosevelt’s or JFK’s libraries be of wider significance and they do fall under the supervision of the NARA.

Whilst the American tax system encourages philanthropic gestures from the excessively wealthy to help create and maintain such libraries, that is not true in Britain. booksmess1

That is part of the reason why I can not see it coming off, at least in the short term. There is a significant reluctance amongst the obscenely rich in Britain to put their hand in their own pockets for the benefit of others.

We are going to witness this next week, as Margaret Thatcher’s funeral will be paid for, mostly, by the State, which is extraordinary.

Not for nearly 50 years taxpayers have had to pay for an ex-Prime Minister’s burial and then only for the exceptional Winston Churchill, when he died in 1965. Even the matchless Clement Attlee, creator of the NHS along with Nye Bevan, had private funerals, which their families paid for.

It is more probable that any Thatcher Memorial library be sponsored or maintain, in part, by Her Majesty’s Government, directly or indirectly. Those who made a packet out of Thatcher’s misrule, bankers, speculators and spivs would only begrudgingly part with money if they can share in some of the reflected glory.

Even if it gets built, with private money and no state sponsorship, then how would it continue running? Who would bear the costs?

Certainly, Thatcher’s estate rumoured to be worth in excess of £60 million could afford it, but her mean spirited offspring are unlikely to give up any significant funds. And if it could be built, money found to keep it going, what would it contain?

Some tawdry copies of the Daily Mail? Or perhaps the knife, which the Tories plunged into Thatcher’s back in 1991, causing her resignation, would be made a prime exhibit?

All in all, it is a terrible idea, based on questionable assumptions, for a political philosophy more accustomed to closinglibraries than opening them.

Update 1: Apparently, the political comedian behind the Thatcher Memorial library is Donal Blaney. He’s a questionable individual, only too willing to make excuses for the fascist dictator, Augusto Pinochet. This link to Tory HQ shows the political pathology at the heart of British conservative thinking, the relativising of Pinochet’s atrocious regime.

Update 2: The Beeb seems to approve of this idea, or at least that is the tone of this news piece.

Chagossians, An innumerate Iain Duncan Smith And More

I had hoped to start 2013 on a better footing, with longer, more thoughtful post but time and life are not so generous. I think the plight of the Chagossians deserves a wider audience:

“For the uninitiated, in the 1960s, the US wanted Diego Garcia (one of the Chagos Islands) as a major air base. It spoke nicely to the UK, its owners, who consequently evicted and banned all the inhabitants from it and the neighbouring islands. The constitutional arrangements were apparently decorous. A new UK colony was established (the British Indian Ocean Territory or BIOT) with a Commissioner to make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Territory. “

Iain Duncan Smith is a loathsome politician, but he’s also innumerate as Channel 4’s Factcheck shows:

The claim

“Tax credit payments rose by some 58 per cent ahead of the 2005 general election, and in the two years prior to the 2010 election, spending increased by about 20 per cent.”

The verdict

We asked the Revenue and Customs (HMRC), which administers work and child tax credits, how much has been paid out since the current system started under Labour in 2003 (before that it was the Working Families Tax Credit).

It said that in 2003-04, £16.4bn was paid, and the following year – the one that included the general election to which Mr Duncan Smith refers – £17.7bn.

That’s an increase of 8 per cent, not 58. “

The German army still has a problem with neo-Nazis as Zeit On-line points out, original in German or the Google translation.

In the US, White Supremacists are planning an anti-immigration rally according to the ADL.

The Guardian looks at the companies set to benefit from the privatisation of the NHS.

The Automatic Cat’s commentary is to the point:

“That doesn’t matter, anyway. The purpose of his statement was to demonise a section of the public in order to justify cuts which themselves are aimed at proving to ‘The Markets’ how fiscally astute and fearless we are. ‘The Markets’ being, in large part, the global banking system which brought us to the edge of catastrophe in the first place.

We’ve seen this kind of demonisation before, with the unemployed and the long-term ill. The suggestion that they’re really putting it on somehow, or shirking, or somehow otherwise undeserving of any help at all. It goes hand in hand with the policy that the safety net has made us all soft and needy and that taking it away will get us off our lazy behinds and make us take all those jobs which are out there.

It really won’t do. Personally I’m rather insulted that the government thinks so little of us that it believes we’ll swallow this nonsense. It shows a rather interesting lack of sophistication and, indeed, compassion. A government which believes we can be so easily manipulated is really not a government worth having. “

Reuters reminds us of the ever increasing death toll in Syria: 60,000 at the last estimate.

Will 2013 be better than 2012? Not looking good thus far.

Google’s Tax, Awful Pam Geller And The Census

Google didn’t pay a lot of tax last year, according to Mashable.

The truly awful Pam Geller, friend of the English Defence League, was on Russell Brand’s TV show and surprise, surprise she lied:

“BRANDX TRANSCRIPT.

Russell: “Do you believe President Obama supports jihad against America?”
Pamela: “Only in Libya. . . . [He’s] not pro-jihad.”

FACT CHECK. On her blog, Pamela has written that “one thing is for sure: [Barack] Hussein [Obama] is a muhammadan. He’s not insane ………..he wants jihad to win.”

The Daily Mail and Home County types are having a fit about the latest British census, whilst one family of scroungers are planning a slap up Christmas.

Ripped-Off Britons shows how UK national debt isn’t as big as the Tories make out.

Open democracy had a good report from Oliver Huitson, How the BBC betrayed the NHS: an exclusive report on two years of censorship and distortion.

An Occasional Murdoch, NHS and Misogyny Roundup

Rupert Murdoch ate a mountain of humble pie at the Levinson inquiry and looked distinctly uncomfortable with his newfound humility.

That’s a thing of the past. Murdoch reveals his true feelings on Twitter:

“Told UK’s Cameron receiving scumbag celebrities pushing for even more privacy laws. Trust the toffs! Transparency under attack. Bad.”

Charlotte Church was a bit annoyed.

Over at the NHS they are not happy, according to one of its honchos:

“The head of the NHS has laid bare his fears that the government’s controversial reforms of the health service could end in “misery and failure”.

Women in the media, why the disparity?

An ex-Wikileaks supporter explains why:

“For a long time now I was a strong supporter of Julian. I used to donate regularly to him. I defended and supported his actions because I believed in the cause that he was fighting for. Since the days of the original attack I ran the primary South African Wikileaks mirror (www.wikileaks.za.org). Back in those days thousands of us rallied to support Wikileaks when it was under constant DDOS attack.

Now I see the absolute disdain the Assange`s treat this cause with I can no longer put my support behind the idea. To the Assange’s it has become the Assange Road Show. Wikileaks is all about them and their own personal agenda. “

Malatesta covers the activity of the British Far Right with humour, look out for Mike Mosley, yet another neo-Nazi that likes guns.

This is a piece of understated reporting if ever there was one.

French antisemitism comes to the fore on Twitter.

An indicator, if one was needed, of Tory failures, food banks serving more.

In Australia, the definition of misogyny is being updated.

When Universal Credit is introduced in Britain, the disabled will lose out.

Radovan Karadžić’s lying know no bounds.

When you think about buying an iPhone remember that Foxcon are still using youngsters to make their bits.

Worried by Americanisms? Linguistic traffic is not one way, as the Beeb shows.

Good news, neo-Nazi’s plans for social media thwarted by Twitter.

Tens of thousands have disappeared in Syria.

Paramilitary abuse and raped in Colombia, one woman’s tale.

Thanks to the UK Human Rights Blog and Irène Solomon there is an unofficial English translation of the Rachel Corrie judgment.

The Beeb and its mistakes over the Jimmy Savile investigation.

The New Yorker on Romney:

“Romney’s conviction is that the broad swath of citizens who do not pay federal income tax—a category that includes pensioners, soldiers, low-income workers, and those who have lost their jobs—are parasites, too far gone in sloth and dependency to be worth the breath one might spend asking for their votes. His descent to this cynical view—further evidenced by his selection of a running mate, Paul Ryan, who is the epitome of the contemporary radical Republican—has been dishearteningly smooth. He in essence renounced his greatest achievement in public life—the Massachusetts health-care law—because its national manifestation, Obamacare, is anathema to the Tea Party and to the G.O.P. in general. He has tacked to the hard right on abortion, immigration, gun laws, climate change, stem-cell research, gay rights, the Bush tax cuts, and a host of foreign-policy issues. He has signed the Grover Norquist no-tax-hike pledge and endorsed Ryan’s winner-take-all economics. “

Finally, the CST’s Online radicalisation. ‘Lone wolves’ of all stripes.

The BBC And The NHS

I think Martin Shovel doesn’t get the recognition that his wit and drawing skills deserve.

In this case he details with the BBC’s attitude to the NHS:

Those readers unfamiliar with the issues would do well to read Oliver Huitson’s and openDemocracy contribution:

“The BBC’s coverage of the NHS bill represents a profound failure to inform the public on an issue of the utmost importance. To summarise, it appears that:

– the BBC never questioned or explored the lack of democratic mandate for the changes to the NHS

– they consistently presented the bill using the government’s own highly contested description

– expert critics were not given the space and opportunity to highlight the true nature of their objections

– financial links between healthcare firms, the Conservatives and the House of Lords were never reported

– the significant role of the private sector in Lansley’s new health market was never explored

– fears over privatisation were occasionally stated but never explored or explained

– the role of private firms in commissioning care was not properly explained, if at all

– the role of private firms in creating the bill was never examined or reported

– sources with significant links to private healthcare were presented without a disclosure of their interests

– the BBC censored key stories, particularly as the bill reached its final stages. On 19 March 2012 when the bill was finally passed in the Lords, BBC Online published not a single article of news or analysis on the bill. “

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Clegg’s Non-Apology

The blogosphere and twitter are a buzzed with Nick Clegg’s non-apology, which is here. The video clip is unremarkable and demonstrates a monumental lack of introspection by a politician, but the comments are wonderful and before they are removed this is a selection:

“A blatantly self-serving apology issued because the Cleggeron can smell his own imminent political death. He’d already decided to ditch this policy *before* the election but declined to tell the electorate & carried on making empty promises. Just a shame for him that his 30 pieces of silver haven’t lasted as long as he thought they would. Go fuck yourself, Nick. I look forwards to your consignment to the dustbin of history…

Fattybill2011 22 seconds ago

Why do politicians always say “I say this” before saying something? No one else does it. It sounds so insincere and weird. Anyway, Clegg, you can put your onion away and dry your little tears. No reasonable, well-informed person is going to vote for your mob ever again.

HertsHoopsDotOrg 2 minutes ago

Ah conference season, or more ironically for many new universities, the new academic year is about to begin.
Too little too late. Voted Liberal Democrat at the last general election, and sincerely regret doing so. They will say exactly what you want to hear so they could get into a position of power; dump all their manifesto promises (incl. the NHS), do their own thing by the Tory ideological book, and forget all the people who put their faith in them to do a good job.
Never again.

jpezzaa 9 minutes ago

Changing the tax system to make it fair?? WHAT??HELLO??You guys must think we’re morons. You lot are the morons. DV is gonna go up as women will be more financially dependent, more people will die, working class are going to stop being able to afford to go to uni. the 50p tax rate has been cut. Make goldman sachs, amazon google vodafone and tesco home pay their tax, review MPs pensions, cut the house of commons restaurant subsidy and get the money back of the banks. shame on you.

RockinMadz 16 minutes ago

Keep talking you’re just digging deeper. You have no credibility, and appear to be a perks of office hungry tory lackey.

straylightc4b 21 minutes ago 19

You lied, you stole my vote. You broke every pledge and every promise. I pledge never again to campaign for, vote for or support any member of the Liberal Democrat party at any level, local or national. Unlike you I keep my promises.

PARIDABY 21 minutes ago 2

Politically speaking, Cleggy’s just shot himself in the foot. Such an overdue apology is going to do more bad than good for the Liberal Democrats. Promising “I will never again make a pledge unless as a party we are absolutely clear about how we can keep it. ” is just ridiculous.
Tom Landers 21 minutes ago “

If the Labour Party had any gumption and savvy then they would follow the Democratic rapid response team’s tactics in the US and release a shortened version, a humourous, dubbed version of Clegg’s non-apology and stick it to the LibDems in the Tory coalition.

There is a very strong anti-Tory sentiment in Britain which the Labour Party should try and capitalise on.

Toynbee on Cameron And Thatcher.

Polly Toynbee is right to argue, despite its supposed fluffiness, that the Cameron administration is even to the right of Margaret Thatcher:

“When Cameron assumed leadership of a party that had lost three elections, the focus groups warned him to embrace welfare state values. Or at least to pretend to. How consciously he dissembled we don’t know, perhaps he doesn’t either. He retains the misleading aura of a pragmatist, disguising the fervour of his anti-state dogma. He may be no great ideas man, but for his Tory generation it’s a reflex: they instinctively breathe free-market Hayek and Schumpeter on “creative destruction”, applying it to government itself. Their Americanism takes the form of shipping in Tea Party Republicanism – how readily they would have let Murdoch create a British Fox News.

Only dogma explains why Cameron risks all by stripping down the NHS, Britain’s holy of holies. The only serious obstacle to his intent has been his own ineptitude at implementation. Yet for all the bungled U-turns, there has been no deviation from the great austerity.

How ironic that he should be assailed from his right. In misleading voters as to his intentions before the election, he seems not to have let his own party into the secret. They only heard they were to be disinfected, detoxified, turned green and never be nasty again. The reality of welfare cuts the Institute for Fiscal Studies calls “without historical and international precedent” seems to pass by the likes of Fox and Davis. “

Did I say I didn’t like the Tories? With reason.

Liberal Conspiracy’s Ten key NHS privatisation stories the BBC barely reported on, is a useful reminder.

Update 1: How Tory Peers will financially benefit from the privatisation of the NHS:

“More than one in four Conservative peers – 62 out of the total of 216 – and many other members of the House of Lords have a direct financial interest in the radical re-shaping of the NHS in England that is perilously close to being enacted. These peers have been able to vote on the crucial divisions that will determine the immediate and long-term future of the NHS and the coalition’s Health and Social Care bill.

The peers – who have personal interests in insurance companies, private health-care and private equity groups – have placed themselves into a position in which they are in danger of voting on behalf of the personal and private interests that stand to gain from the bill rather than in the public interest. “

An Orwell, The Middle East And Boycotts Round Up

There is never enough time to read, reflect and blog, so whilst I think over other posts here is a quick round up of stories that caught my eye.

I was surprised to find that George Orwell had a piece on antisemitism. In many respects, it is as if it were written yesterday:

“I could fill pages with similar remarks, but these will do to go on with. Two facts emerge from them. One — which is very important and which I must return to in a moment — is that above a certain intellectual level people are ashamed of being anti-Semitic and are careful to draw a distinction between “anti-Semitism” and “disliking Jews”. The other is that anti-Semitism is an irrational thing. The Jews are accused of specific offences (for instance, bad behaviour in food queues) which the person speaking feels strongly about, but it is obvious that these accusations merely rationalise some deep-rooted prejudice. To attempt to counter them with facts and statistics is useless, and may sometimes be worse than useless. As the last of the above-quoted remarks shows, people can remain anti-Semitic, or at least anti-Jewish, while being fully aware that their outlook is indefensible. If you dislike somebody, you dislike him and there is an end of it: your feelings are not made any better by a recital of his virtues. “

At Liberal Conspiracy, Sunny Hundel is direct in his criticism, Publicity-hungry extremists to protest at US Embassy London.
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