Wednesday 28 February 2024

Their anger has gone too far now.


There are lots of different people going on demonstrations in support of the Palestinians, calling for a ceasefire and who are concerned about the death toll and the number of injured in the Israeli Hamas conflict since October.

People on the Left and especially the Far Left are most likely to demonstrate. Along with them are some people without particularly strong views who have been swayed by horrible scenes on the news. The next biggest demographic is probably ordinary Muslims who might up to now have not been particularly involved in political issues. Finally, there are some Islamic fundamentalists.

The Left and particularly the Far Left is motivated mainly by dislike of the West. It only ever demonstrates if either Britain or the USA is involved in a war or if a western ally is involved. It is always particularly hostile to Israel.

Israelis are viewed falsely as being, white, European colonisers while Palestinians are viewed as brown, Middle Eastern victims of colonisation and oppression.

I think its reasonable to suppose that the vast majority of British Muslims overwhelmingly sympathise with the Palestinians. Most Muslims will have their view of the justice of the conflict. This is no different from how anyone else views foreign affairs. We are all allowed to think as we please about foreign wars. In this they are no different from large numbers of other Brits who support the Palestinians in a perfectly peaceful legitimate way.

But if we are to analyse the justice or injustice of the Israeli-Hamas conflict we have to put it into a historical context.

Since the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 there have been approximately 116,000 deaths. We don’t know exactly how many deaths the present conflict has involved, and we don’t know how many fighters and how many civilians have been killed. We don’t know how many Palestinians have died because of friendly fire from Hamas rockets and how many have died because of Israel. But a lot of people have died. It may be more than 30,000.

Well let’s go back to a similar date to when Israel was founded.

1 The Partition of India                    1946-1948          200,000–2,000,000

2 Kashmir conflict                           1947-                   80,000–110,000

3 Algerian War                                1954-1962           400,000–1,500,000

4 First Sudanese Civil War             1955–1972          500,000+

5 North Yemen Civil War               1962–1970          100,000–200,000

6 Nigerian Civil War                      1967–1970           1,000,000–3,000,000

7 Bangladesh Liberation War        1971                     400,000–3,600,000+  

8 Invasion of East Timor               1975–1976          100,000-200,000

9 Lebanese Civil War                    1975–1990           120,000–150,000

10 Afghanistan conflict                 1977-                    1,400,000–2,500,000

11 Iran–Iraq War                           1980–1988           500,000–1,500,000

12 Second Sudanese Civil War     1983–2005           1,000,000–2,000,000

13 Algerian Civil War                   1991-2002            44,000–200,000

14 War on terror                            2001-2021            272,000–1,260,000

15 War in Darfur                           2003-                    300,000+

16 Boka Harum insurgency          2009-                    350,000+

17 Syrian civil war                       2011-                   506,750–613,407+

18 South Sudanese Civil War       2013–2020           383,000+

19 War in Iraq                               2013-2017          195,000–200,000+

20 Yemeni Civil War                    2014-                   377,000+


All of the conflicts that I have listed here have involved Muslim states or people. Sometimes it has been Muslims fighting Muslims, at other times it has been Muslims fighting non-Muslims. But in each case the number of deaths has exceeded the present conflict between Israel and Hamas and in most cases, it has far exceeded the deaths in all of the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts since 1948.

In each of these conflicts innocent women and children died either directly or indirectly from war. The Bangladesh Liberation War in particular involved the murder of up to 3000,000 Bengalis and the rape of 300,000 women.

At the time of many of these conflicts we did not have 24-hour news, nor did reporters have the same degree of access as they do now. But the suffering of the people involved in these conflicts whatever their race or religion was similar if not worse to that suffered by Palestinians in Gaza. It is not worse to be killed or wounded in Gaza because there are pictures on the BBC news.

Most of the conflicts listed received minimal coverage in the British media and few if any demonstrations. Many of these conflicts are all but forgotten today. How many people know about the mass displacement of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims during the partition of India. How many know about the Bangladesh’s War of Independence? Very few, I think.

Yet everyone knows about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and appears to think that it is both quantitatively and qualitatively worse than any other conflict in recent decades. But this is false. It is a grotesque distortion.

The present war between Israel and Hamas is relatively small scale. It far less brutal than most wars in history. Israel is taking more care to avoid civilian casualties than any of the other wars listed. Yet none of the above wars involved continual demands for ceasefires from the SNP nor mass demonstrations on the streets condemning one or other of the participants.

If every single Muslim nation involved in the wars of the past decades had been condemned by Muslims all over the world not least because they so frequently involved the deaths of innocent Muslims, I would be more inclined to take seriously their condemnation of Israel. But British Muslims were largely silent about the war in Yemen or Darfur or the Iran-Iraq War. There were no calls for a ceasefire then.

It is perfectly legitimate to criticise Israel, but only if it is done in the same proportion to the criticism you make about other wars and worse wars. If you ignore larger numbers of innocent Muslims being killed in Yemen or Bangladesh, you have no moral right to criticise Israel when it responds to being attacked. It is not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel if that criticism is justified and proportionate, but it is anti-Semitic to criticise only Israel and to ignore other far worse wars.

The lives of the countless millions who have died in wars involving Muslims since 1945 including countless innocent Muslims are just as valuable as any other lives and just as valuable as the innocent civilians who have died in Gaza. Our shared humanity is more important than whether we share a faith.

But it is quite wrong to condemn only Israel while condemning no one else who has fought wars in the past decades. It is quite wrong to have mass demonstrations for months about a relatively small-scale conflict while ignoring or not even bothering to find out about much larger wars involving your coreligionists.

To condemn only Jews who fight wars while not giving a damn about Muslims who fight wars that are more terrible is anti-Semitic. It suggests a warped judgement. It’s just fine for Muslims to kill Muslims, we won’t demonstrate about that. But if anyone else and especially Jews are involved in a war with Muslims we will demonstrate and threaten and if our MPs don’t do what they are told well they should be careful and will deserve what they get.  

This is not merely a biased and warped judgement. It is biased and warped morality.

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Sunday 25 February 2024

Why does no one want to come to Scotland?

The problem with Scottish nationalism is that it would do nothing to address the fundamental problems Scotland faces, but instead would have added some new ones that we didn’t face before.

Scotland is a wonderful place to live. We are sparsely populated which means that countryside is always nearby and largely empty. The Highlands are as beautiful a part of the world as anywhere on earth. There are beaches to wander on and mountains to climb. There are historic sites to visit. If you have a reasonable job, you are likely to have a good standard of living. Why then does Scotland have a static population that is due to decline?

While the population of the UK has grown by nearly 30 million since 1939, the population of Scotland has grown by around 400,000. Scotland makes up 32% of the UK’s landmass but only 8% of the population. Why does no one want to live in Scotland?

It’s not the weather. Scotland’s weather is usually mild. We avoid the unpleasant heatwaves and, in the winter, now it only snows for a few days and is rarely extremely cold. Winter in Scotland is much more pleasant than either northern or eastern Europe.

It gets very dark in December, but the compensation is that we have wonderful amounts of light in the summer.

There are a number of reasons why Scotland does not attract people or give birth to enough babies to increase our population that way. The main reasons are history, geography and politics.

If you look at the British Isles you will find that those places that were most prosperous in the nineteenth century were those with the greatest degree of industrialisation. From the Midlands in England northwards there is a divide. Those areas including Wales and Northern Ireland that were involved in heavy industry have not recovered from the decline of that industry which took place not merely in the UK but all over the developed world. It simply became unprofitable for countries like ours to dig coal, make steel and build ships. What made us rich in the nineteenth century made us poor in the late twentieth. This is why these industries closed.

Scotland’s problem is that large parts of the country that were formerly industrialised remain poor with few economic opportunities. People from these parts of Scotland are more likely to leave than arrive.

The problem however is exacerbated by the fact that post industrial areas of Britain vote as if they were still industrialised. This makes the situation worse. In Scotland public opinion just as in northern England and Wales remains to the left. It blames Conservatism for the decline of its industries and thinks that the solution to its problems is socialism or social democracy.

In Scotland there are still people who think that socialist ideas like rent controls fixing food prices, raising taxes and increasing public spending to provide the population with free things will increase prosperity. But this is economically illiterate.

The problem with industrialised areas of Scotland was that they were making a loss on their steel, coal and shipbuilding industries. None of the above socialist solutions could in any way lead to these places making a profit.

As we are discovering with the SNP rent controls leads to housing shortages, raising taxes leads to less revenue, providing free things leads to rationing. It is harder for Scots to get into university because tuition fees are free. It is harder to get NHS treatment because there is a waiting list (rationing). If you try to fix food prices you will end up with a shortage too.

The only way for formerly industrialised parts of Scotland to become profitable and to have better living standards is if people in those areas follow the basic laws of economics that tell us that businesses will profit if you lower the burden of taxation, and you follow the laws of supply and demand to increase profits. But it is precisely this that no one in Scotland votes for.

Scots in poorer parts of Scotland think that their problems will be solved by higher public spending, more benefits and more free things, but it is precisely these things that keep them poor. It is not so much post-industrialisation that damages Scotland as the political mentality that goes with it.

Cut taxes, cut public spending make it easier to do business in Scotland and prosperity will gradually follow, but it is precisely this that the SNP does not want to do. This makes Scotland ever more dependent on UK Treasury fiscal transfers and ever less likely to vote for independence for that reason. It is as if the SNP were deliberately trying to make its goal harder.

Historically Scotland was divided by geography. The central belt and the coast from Edinburgh to Aberdeen were quite different from the rest. This is the fundamental reason for Scotland’s static population.

Much of Scotland is made up of marginal land that is inaccessible from the major population centres. Crofting may be necessary in order to keep the land occupied, but it doesn’t make a profit. Neither does small scale fishing. This leaves tourism. But even here the lack of infrastructure in many of the most beautiful parts of Scotland hinders us.

I would love to visit Scotland’s islands, but I am deterred by the cost of accommodation and the lack of reliable transport links. I love visiting the Highlands, but many roads are still single track and are totally unsuitable for the volume of traffic they receive in the summer.

But it is precisely this lack of infrastructure that makes it harder for businesses in remote areas to make a profit. These parts of Scotland don’t need independence, they need better roads, better ferries, more tunnels and more bridges. If the rest of the Scottish economy was performing better, we could afford to build these. But we can only afford to improve the infrastructure if our economy makes greater profits, but it is precisely this that it won’t do because the SNP is doing the opposite of what needs to be done.

If Scotland wants to increase its population, then those parts of Scotland that are at present almost empty have to be given the opportunity to develop businesses that are profitable which attract people to the area. But it is difficult indeed to develop a profitable business if your customers cannot get there because the ferries don’t work, and the roads are so narrow that the cost of transport is prohibitive.

Millions upon millions of people have arrived in the UK in the past decades. If we want to attract people to Scotland, we should first try to attract them, because it is easier for them to make the move to Scotland than anyone else in the world. We already have the scenery and the quality of life in Scotland. We have the space, and we have the beauty, but we don’t have the job opportunities and the salaries that would attract someone who has a good job in the area surrounding London to come here.

It isn’t merely that the SNP’s policies discourage business and make it harder to prosper, worse is that instead of taking practical steps to improve the Scottish economy it spends all its time banging on about independence, which would do nothing whatsoever to address the historical and geographical problems that Scotland needs to solve.

Worse the constant threat of secession discourages those people from other parts of the UK who might decide to make their future in Scotland, because they fear that they might end up foreigners in their own country with houses they can’t sell. Why come to Scotland to do the same job you have already only to be taxed more to do it? Why indeed? That is why no one wants to come to Scotland.

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Friday 23 February 2024

Britain we have a problem


When do we realise that we have a problem in Britain and that it is necessary to talk and write about it honestly and openly? This week. No, I don’t think so. It isn’t bad enough yet.  Still, I will write anyway.

The story about the SNP’s Opposition Day debate being hijacked by Labour looks initially like a nothing story. Parliament has all sorts of weird and wonderful rules does it matter if this or that precedent was broken? Well, you could say the same about football having all sorts of rules. One of them is to do with not being allowed to use your hands. If you break that rule you don’t have football anymore, you have rugby. Well so too it matters that parliamentary procedure is adhered to because if you cease playing the game called “democracy” you end up playing another game called “tyranny.”

The SNP gets three Opposition Day debates a year. I might disagree with the SNP on most issues, but I can still see that the Speaker and the Labour Party treated it unfairly.

But I don’t have all that much sympathy with the SNP, because why was it using one of it’s very rare Opposition Days to debate Gaza? Foreign policy is outwith the control of the Scottish Parliament and even if the SNP won all of the seats in Scotland it could not form a British government, so it is not at all obvious why the SNP should be interested in Gaza apart from it being the favoured holiday destination of Humza Yousaf’s family.

The SNP is a single-issue party, and that issue is not a ceasefire in Gaza. It may be that the SNP is cynically trying to attract the Muslim vote in Scotland, but it is hard to see it changing the result in any Scottish seats at the next election, nor will calling for a ceasefire in Gaza in any obvious way advance the cause of independence.

It is here I think that the SNP can be most criticised. It was playing a game. It hoped to embarrass Labour by putting forward a motion for debate which would lead to lots of Labour MPs rebelling. Keir Starmer sought to avoid this by putting forward his own motion. He may or may not have persuaded the speaker to allow this by talking about MPs being threatened. This is where it ceases to be a game.

The SNP must have been aware that MPs particularly in parts of England with large Muslim populations were being threatened. “If you vote against a ceasefire in Gaza this bad thing might happen.” That’s quite a serious threat. A number of MPs have been murdered. We all know that there is a constant threat from terrorism, which makes this sort of blackmail credible. Under those circumstances why did the SNP choose to use one of its Opposition Day debates to discuss an issue that is outside its own remit and over which the UK parliament has next to no influence?

Even if the British government sided with Hamas and broke off diplomatic relations with Israel it would have almost no influence on events in the Middle East. So, it hardly matters one way or another whether an Opposition Day debate says one thing about a ceasefire in Gaza or another.

But it would matter if you were an MP who voted the wrong way who ended up dead. It would matter to you. But it would not matter to the SNP, so long as Humza Yousaf and his wife are happy.

Gaza ought to be a non-issue in British politics. We have no influence over wars in the Middle East anymore than in Myanmar. Neither weekly demonstrations nor BBC disapproval will change the outcome or save a single life. Instead, it is as if Gaza has become not only the main issue, but the only issue. But the problem for British politics is not in Gaza. It is here.

The problem is not merely that some MPs have been intimidated. That is a huge problem and is completely intolerable in any democracy. A far worse problem is that Islamic extremism has succeeded in intimidating large numbers of British Jews, our police force and has been allowed to express itself freely with no fear of any negative consequences whatsoever.

The sorts of things that have been written on signs and chanted by demonstrators each week during demonstrations would be completely unacceptable if they were said about any other country than Israel and any other people than the Jewish people. Try saying such things about any other conflict involving anyone else and you will find yourself very quickly arrested.

But no one dares to object to these demonstrations let alone stop them, because the police are scared that something worse will result. Well, I’m sorry the worse has already arrived. MPs are scared to vote the wrong way over Gaza.

We lost the Labour candidate in Rochdale who was apparently a moderate, a centrist and an ally of Jewish people because he was heard to agree with an absurd anti-Semitic conspiracy theory perhaps because he thought he needed to say it in order to attract votes. If this is what the moderates say, what do the extremists say?

It’s not Houston we have a problem. It’s Britain we have a problem. The problem is that we are not honest about the problem. Do you think Apollo 13 would have got back if they had been dishonest about the problem?

Large numbers of British citizens have been radicalised by the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7th and Israel’s response which has killed many times as many Palestinians. For these people it is not a conflict in a far away country of which we know nothing. Instead, it is the most vital issue to them right here and right now.

But the problem is just this. Muslims in the UK make up around 6.5% of the population. If such a relatively small part of the population is capable now of intimidating MPs over an issue that has nothing to do with Britain, what would happen if 6.5% doubled to 13% and then doubled to 26%? At what point would we have to break off diplomatic relations with Israel, condemn it for existing and supply weapons to Hamas just to stop our MPs from being murdered by their constituents?

There is a desperate need for honesty. The problem is that honesty will always be called by Islamists “racism” and “Islamophobia”. They call it this deliberately precisely in order that we remain silent.

But religion is not race and if something is dangerous it is not a phobia to be scared of it.

We cannot remain silent. In times past both in Scotland and in England we were a theocracy. Try disagreeing with John Knox and you would end up the way of Mary Queen of Scots. Try disagreeing with Mary Tudor and you would be burned at the stake. We spent the succeeding centuries developing tolerance and freedom of thought as well as freedom of religion.

We cannot allow our politics to be intimidated by religion. Believe what you please, worship how you want, dress as you want, but we are in genuine trouble if we vote according to religious dogma.

The fundamental issue with regard to Gaza is Islamist. When Jordan annexed the West Bank no one cared. When Egypt annexed Gaza no one cared. When it was ruled by the Ottoman Empire there were no demonstrations anywhere about freeing Palestine. It is only when Israel took over Muslim lands that there is righteous fury, not because the Palestinians lost their lands, they lost them equally to Jordan and Egypt and the Ottoman Empire, but because Jews took a tiny little chunk of the Dar al-Islam. This is why there is such fury in these demonstrations in London and such indifference about whatever Saudi Arabia does to Yemen.

It is justified to criticise Israel, but it is anti-Semitic to criticise Israel only, while you ignore other wars where they don’t care at all about civilian casualties. There are numerous such wars going on right now that don't make the BBC news.

To solve a problem, you first have to be honest about what it is. We have a conflict between our own democratic British values and Islam. The vast majority of Muslims hold their opinions about Gaza because of their religion and this motivates many if not most of them politically. Well, this means we have political Islam. But political Islam is identical with Islamism. Which means that Islamism is intimidating our MPs and is deciding the outcome in a number of our constituencies.

I don’t wish to be nasty to Muslims. I find Islam to be an interesting and rewarding field of study. But I don’t want our democracy to be overly influenced by Islamism, because then like the “democracies” of the Middle East it will rapidly cease to be a democracy at all and become instead a theocracy. 

Above all we need to be honest. Islam is fundamentally theocratic. It is a religion of the law. It is this that Christianity opposed when Jesus broke the Sabbath when he plucked the ears of the corn. It was with this action that he set us free. Everything that we value about our country followed from this one action.

Well, if you import enough theocrats eventually you will end up with theocracy. You can continue to kid yourself that there is a meaningful distinction between Islam and Islamism, or you can instead decide to be honest about the problem. We have different world views and different ideas about theology in Britain. If we are not very, very careful one side or the other will not only try to control how our MPs vote it will try to control everything else too. At that point we might be faced with the same choice as occurred to some pagans worshiping a meteorite some centuries ago. You can assimilate, fight, or flee.

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Saturday 17 February 2024

The Conservative Party has failed to conserve


The main purpose historically of the Conservative Party is to conserve. Rather like the RSPB protects birds the Conservative party is supposed to protect Britain. Protecting Britain involves defending our island against its enemies, which requires us to have a strong defence and a serious of alliances with friendly nations. Britain now has a very weak defence. Our armed forces are tiny and relatively powerless compared to how they were historically. But perhaps more importantly protecting Britain means protecting our quality of life and preserving those aspects of living here that most of our citizens love. It is here too that the Conservative Party has failed to conserve.

Conservative voters want to live in pleasant towns and cities amongst other British people where politeness is the norm, crime rare and a decent standard of living is reasonably easy to obtain if you work hard at school and then go to work.

People are content with relatively little. A house, a family, enough food, a garden, a park nearby, the ability to drive to work cheaply, and go on holiday to the Mediterranean once a year.

If the Conservative Party could give British people up and down the country an economy that gradually improves, peace and prosperity and otherwise leave them alone it would continue to win most elections. But it hasn’t. It has failed in its mission to conserve.

The West is faced with three main external threats, Russia, China and radical Islam. We must contain these by spending sufficiently on defence and maintaining our technological advantage over opponents. But if America goes back to isolationism under Trump, Britain and indeed Europe in general would struggle to deter anyone.

But the threat from China and Russia is a limited threat because it is external. The threat from radical Islam is not merely that it is in Yemen, or Gaza or Iran. We can contain these threats because we can identify them. The real danger is that radical Islam is here and we cannot distinguish between the radical and the non-radical because the ideology is essentially the same.

It is here above all that the Conservative Party has failed to conserve, because it has added a threat to our security that simply did not exist in 1914 or 1939 and could not even have been imagined then.

It was being an island that meant we were kept free from invasion apart from 1066 and arguably 1688. While every country on the continent suffered invasion, and occupation and changes to its borders due to war we avoided this. No one could invade us so long as we had a strong navy. Even in World War II with our army defeated and shattered we were never seriously threatened with invasion.

But now being an island has for the first time in our history become a disadvantage. We cannot build a fence in the sea and anyone who arrives on a British beach no matter who he is, where he is from or what his intentions are will be allowed to stay forever. Not only this. We will pay him to do so.

It is this above all that is leading Conservative voters to desert the Conservative Party. They look around and see their towns and cities transformed beyond all recognition. The buildings may be the same, but everything else is changed. Your job Conservative Party was to conserve our way of life and you failed.

Brexit was above all a rebellion against the feeling that we could do nothing to stop our country changing in ways that we opposed. It was a hope for millions of British voters that they would gain some control over not merely our borders, but our government and that this government would listen to the concerns of ordinary voters. The Conservative Party is being punished above all because it gave us hope and then dashed that hope.

British society developed over many centuries and was characterised historically by migrations of Celts, Romans, Anglo-Saxons, Normans and others. But in the thousand years since the Conquest the mix of the British population was static. Where there was migration, it was on a small scale and easily absorbed.

It is perfectly possible to believe that limited migration from anywhere in the world brings us people with useful skills and is perfectly compatible with conserving the essential character of Britain.

But unlimited migration which the Conservative Party has not only allowed by failing to control our borders, but also by allowing hundreds of thousands of people to arrive legally with visas is gradually changing our country beyond all recognition.

We must treat each new arrival pleasantly and politely. He has the right to live and work here legally and it is quite wrong to treat him badly.

But the nature of British society is quite different from that of the United States. We were until the 1950s a homogenous society whose population had remained largely unchanged for a thousand years. We were not like the United States a society in any reasonable sense a nation of immigrants.

But it was just this that gave the British people its characteristics. It was just this that gave us our way of life. It was the Conservative Party’s job to conserve this and it failed.

Life is not better now than it was when the Conservative party came to power in 2010. Educational standards have fallen through grade inflation. It is harder to see a doctor now than it was. We have had high inflation and seen our standard of living decline due to the cost-of-living crisis. We have been locked up at home for nearly two years and we have seen woke ideas which even in 2010 would have been considered mad become so mainstream that we have to be careful when disagreeing with them lest the police charge us with a hate crime.

The British people are continually attacked by the public bodies that have come to power during the present Conservative government for daring to live in our own country and liking it the way it is. Even our countryside is called racist and colonialist as if it was us who colonised our green and pleasant land. Well maybe my family did colonise it, but it would have been when the Celts and then the Anglo-Saxons arrived.

Conservatives are going to continue to desert the Conservative Party not because we think it will be better under Labour. It may well be worse. But when a political party fails to do its job in a democracy you have to kick it out and hope for something better.

I think the present Conservative Party is going to be annihilated this year and deservedly so. Indeed, better so. The only hope left is that a party emerges that is willing to do what is necessary to defend our country and conserve what is left. It is clear now that the Conservatives will conserve nothing.

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Tuesday 13 February 2024

Israel must decisively defeat Hamas

At the beginning of the First World War Britain unquestionably had the finest Navy by the end we had the finest army too. The British Army performed worse in the Second World War, not least because it was decisively defeated in 1940, but it made up for it to an extent later. The RAF defeated the Luftwaffe and performed to a similar level as the USAAF. The Royal Navy rescued the army from Dunkirk and its command of the sea meant that Britain was never seriously threatened with invasion. Our armed forces were second only to those of the Soviet Union and the USA.

Just look what they have become. We have aircraft carriers without enough planes that keep breaking down. Our army could not even fight a small war on its own and nor could our air force. We can contribute when the American want to fight a war, but that is about all.

Prior to the Second World War there was no Israeli military tradition not least because there was no Israel, yet from a standing start Israel since 1948 has produced an army, air force and navy that would defeat anything Britain might put up against it. While the British army could defeat Germany in the field in 1918, we couldn’t invade Israel even if we wanted to not least because we lack the ships to get there.

Our military history has become one of decline with an MOD more interested in woke and diversity than actually fighting and winning battles. The soldiers, sailors and airmen we have are still first rate, but we lack the numbers, we lack the equipment and quite frankly we lack the morale to take on a serious opponent.

The difference between Israel and both the US and British armed forces is that Israel is threatened in a way that neither the UK nor USA are any more. Unless it is World War Three no one is going to invade us. Israel has faced invasion, defeat and annihilation on any number of occasions since 1948.  It means that Israel cannot afford to fight like the British or the Americans, because it would lose and it dare not lose.

We could have won in Iraq and Afghanistan if we had been willing to fight like we did in World War Two, but we are no longer willing to take sizable casualties nor inflict them. So, we were defeated on both occasions.  We lack the stomach to fight insurgency. We are unwilling to do what is necessary to defeat it.

Now apparently Israel should take advice from Britain about whether to continue its operation in Gaza.

Well, I wonder if Israelis are considering how a top class British Army and intelligence service was able to fight the IRA to a standstill, infiltrate it and make being an IRA terrorist a seriously dangerous occupation, only for our politicians to give away that victory to the extent that the daughter of an IRA terrorist is now First Minister of Northern Ireland. If we were going to give it away in the end why fight at all? It would have been better then to say to Dublin in 1968 it’s your problem and saved everyone the trouble. No wonder the IDF won’t listen to Britain.

The IDF has come very close to defeating Hamas in the field. It’s rather as if the IDF has encircled Berlin. So, what should it do? Stop, make peace and go home. Always do what your opponent least wants. Do you think Hamas wants Israel to keep fighting or to stop.

It has taken months to get to this stage and the opportunity may never come again. So yes, finish the war. Defeat your opponent completely.

We know that Israel is already doing its best to avoid civilian casualties, but that in any form of urban warfare these are unavoidable. But sometimes it is necessary to fight a war anyway. We understood this in World War Two, which is why we bombed both Germany and Japan.

General Sherman did more to win the Civil War than anyone else because he showed the South the consequences of its rebellion by destroying everything in his path from Atlanta to the sea. The South wanted no part of this sort of warfare and hasn’t been tempted since.

So too Germany which had invaded France three times in 70 years is now the most pacifist country in Europe with an army that would struggle to invade Luxembourg. What changed Germany was that its cities were bombed flat, and its citizens suffered the full horror that goes with invasion and the humiliation of being partitioned and occupied. Finally, after three chances Germany learned its lesson only when it was completely destroyed.

At some point the Palestinians have to learn their lesson. They invaded Israel and raped, mutilated and murdered Israelis in such a barbaric fashion that they justly faced the full wrath of Israel.

The result has been terrible. Not terrible by World War Two standards. The Royal Air Force deliberately burned alive more of the citizens of Hamburg in one night than Israel has done accidentally since October.

Israel is not trying to kill civilians. It could kill vastly more if it wished by carpet bombing Gaza. It is trying to defeat only Hamas, but unfortunately in order to defeat the Nazis it was necessary to kill ordinary Germans some of whom did no wrong or even opposed Hitler, some of whom were children. The same logic obviously applies. We are childish when we suppose that it does not.

You can continue with this interminable conflict which has been going on for around the same amount of time as German militarism from 1870 to 1945, or you can end it.

In 1918 despite defeating the German Army decisively the allied armies did not continue their advance into Germany. They made peace with Germany in such a way that Germany was left intact and still with the desire to have another go. The result was another war in 1939.

Peace only comes when you so decisively defeat your enemy that he regrets fighting and decides never to do so again.

It is not up to me to advise the IDF. They know more than I ever will. But I do not believe the Palestinians will ever cease to embrace terrorism until they are fully shown the consequences of doing so and accept that the land that their grandparents lost will never be theirs again. After all the German population today does not commit acts of terrorism to get back parts of Poland that it lost in 1945.

In previous generations in Britain, we understood the full horror of war and how it was necessary to do dreadful things to win. It was this that meant we kept fighting after the great losses on the Somme and accepted that we were justified in bombing German cities at night because at that time we had no other means of fighting back.

Our armed forces have become a pale imitation of what they once were partly because we have felt safe since 1945 and no longer feel the need to pay what is necessary to have first rate armed forces. But then don’t criticise Israel for doing what is necessary to defeat a relentless opponent who will never make peace until it is decisively defeated and destroyed.

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Saturday 10 February 2024

The goal is to abolish Holryood

A few months from now in September I am going to do my usual weekly shopping and suddenly I will find that it has ended up costing me £20 more. The reason will be that the Scottish Parliament has decided in its wisdom to charge me 65 pence per unit rather than 50 pence. It won’t make that much of a difference. I’m not going to buy fewer bottles of wine or cans of beer for my husband, but it will be an additional unwelcome expense thanks to devolution.

A lot of middle-income Scots have begun to notice life has got more expensive and we look ahead to retirement and worry that our savings are being eroded by inflation and all sorts of expenses like a heat pump and an electric car might need to be covered by our ever-diminishing income. At this point we begin to resent the Scottish Parliament with its constant attempts to make us pay higher taxes, pay deposits on cans, and generally make the cost of living higher so that we have less disposable income.

There is a tipping point for everyone. Perhaps this year you will reach yours. Maybe you already did.

There is much less support for devolution than you might think in Scotland. There are about 25% of us who would gladly abolish Holyrood. This is mainly Pro UK people who see that devolution in chiefly responsible for the rise in support for the SNP and Scottish independence.

Devolution came from soft nationalists who wanted to recognise Scotland as being a separate country that needed its own parliament while remaining in the UK. It was for this reason that people like Donald Dewer kept talking about regaining the Parliament that was lost in 1707. It was like saying we can be independent again only we will stay in the UK. It was a fundamentally incoherent argument and was always bound to fail.

It did fail. As a project to hold the UK together it is hard to think of anything worse that Labour could have done in the 1990s. Labour’s soft nationalism, in arguing that it was unfair that Scotland got a Tory government when it voted Labour was responsible for the hard nationalism of the SNP arguing that the solution therefore was to vote for independence.

It’s a good argument. If you think that Scotland is a separate country, then voting for independence is a no brainer. It follows logically from thinking it is a separate country.

But it is vital to realise that the SNP doesn’t want devolution and never did. Even when it embraced the Scottish Parliament it was only as a stepping stone towards independence. This therefore leads to the absurdity of Gordon Brown’s idée fixe that if only the Scottish parliament could be given more powers (stepping stones) it would never cross the river to independence. An extra waffer thin mint of federalism with Scotland having all the powers while Westminster still sends it all the money is just what’s needed after all the other powers that Brown told us would stop Scottish nationalism.

The problem with Gordon Brown and his generation of Scottish Labour is that they can’t quite admit that they were wrong and so have to throw good money after bad until they discover that their coal mine of ideas is bringing up only mud. But still, we have to keep the miners digging.

But the truth is hardly anyone in Scotland wants devolution. The 25% who want to abolish Holyrood don’t want it, nor do independence supporters. No matter how you measure genuine independence support that makes a clear majority against devolution. More Scots today oppose devolution than supported it in 1997, many more.

25% may not seem very much, but it is the equivalent of the Lib Dems and Conservatives put together. It’s approximately the historic level of support for independence prior to the independence campaign beginning in 2011. If you add a few percentage points, then 25% becomes the level of support that Labour and the SNP will get in the General Election. So, people like us who disagree with devolution as it is at present are a significant proportion of the electorate.

Independence supporters of course would oppose abolishing devolution, but not because they want it, so who remains? These are the people we must persuade. Soft nationalists.

Labour and the Lib Dems in particular are full of soft nationalists who view Scotland as a separate country, but they don’t want it to actually become a separate country.

We have this endlessly in Scotland. There are huge numbers of people who support Gaelic and are delighted to have our ambulances with Gaelic translations, but who never actually learn Gaelic. So too huge numbers of Scots think that they want a Scottish news channel dedicated to all the exciting business of the Scottish Parliament and providing a Scottish perspective on Gaza, whatever that is, but no one actually wants to watch it.

Our carrots must be Scottish, even our tea which cannot grow here. One day there will be an SNP edict that bananas have to be Scottish or at least not English.

Soft nationalism is as much of a problem as hard nationalism and is less coherent intellectually. Without the soft nationalism that gave rise to the Scottish Parliament, and which is present in much of the Scottish media, there would have been no hard nationalism and no SNP.

It must be carefully explained to Labour and Lib Dem soft nationalists that either the UK is one country in which case it makes sense for there to be fiscal transfers within that country, or it is four countries in which case fiscal transfers make no sense as you cannot reasonably expect English taxpayer to subsidise foreigners.

Labour cannot expect to rule England with Scottish MPs if England is really a separate country and rule Scotland too with devolved powers that England lacks. It’s a con. I’m surprised more English people don’t see that. We are fortunate indeed that English nationalism does not exist. Only a few nutters and fascists support the English National Party (ENP).

So, the UK is either one country with parts that happen to be called countries but are really no different from the various regions of France, or the UK is really four separate countries held together in some sort of weak confederation, which would logically mean those parts were already independent and would make the UK’s continued existence these past centuries historically inexplicable.

If the UK is really one country, then we need to cease thinking about it as four countries and find a method of government involving national, regional and local power that gives ever UK citizen the same degree of national, regional and local power and influence. Anything else is unfair.

The first stage is to decisively defeat Scottish nationalism. We can do that this year. If the SNP gets considerably fewer seats in the General Election than Scottish Labour, there will be no stepping stones to independence because there will be no river.

The next stage is for Pro UK parties to form the next Scottish government and for support for abolishing Holyrood to reach a level where it cannot be ignored.

Labour supporters might realise that there is no point having a Labour government in Edinburgh working against a Labour government in London and if it is working together then what’s the point. Devolution from Labour’s point of view only made sense as a consolation prize when the Tories won a General Election. If Labour wins Holyrood is a liability.

The final stage is to repeal the Scotland Act and replace it with a system of devolution across the UK that is not the odd and incoherent mishmash that we have at present but rather a system of regional power modelled perhaps on France which has 96 departments with a similar population to the UK.

Some of us are beginning to think of ways to increase support for abolishing Holyrood. Let’s aim first to increase it by 10% to 35%. Help if you can. We can do this.

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Wednesday 7 February 2024

Is this the reward for IRA terrorism?


How should we respond to a Michelle O'Neill of Sinn Féin becoming First Minister of Northern Ireland? On the one hand we should be pleased that Sinn Féin is primarily nowadays involved in politics rather than bombing, but on the other it makes us confront the consequences of the Belfast Agreement that brought about that peace.

The British government has for more than one hundred years treated Northern Ireland in a way that no other European country treats its territory. There are any number of border changes that followed both the First and Second World Wars that are considered permanent in Europe even though they are in principle no different from the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Germany does not seriously seek to reunite the territory that it lost to Poland in 1945, nor does Austria seriously seek to reunite North and South Tyrol, which were split at around the same time as Ireland was partitioned.

When modern day Hungary was formed Hungarians found themselves in other states, there is no serious movement to reunite them with Hungary.

It is a general principle in post war thinking that boundaries are sacrosanct, which is one reason there was such widespread revulsion at Russia’s attempt to rewrite the borders of Ukraine. It matters not one little bit if Russian speakers outnumber Ukrainian speakers in in Crimea or the Donbas, nor indeed does it matter if they wish to be part of Russia, these places are still part of Ukrainian territory. This argument applies everywhere in Europe except Northern Ireland.

When Ireland fought to leave the United Kingdom after the First World War it lacked both the popular support and military means to take what became Northern Ireland with it, for which reason Ireland was partitioned. If Ireland had the right to secede from the UK, then Northern Ireland obviously had the right to secede from Ireland or not join with it in leaving.

There is nothing especially unusual about an island being partitioned. Hispaniola has two states. Borneo has three.

The moral case for Northern Ireland being part of the UK is no different from any of the other border changes in Europe that resulted from conflict in the twentieth century. To suppose that it is unjust that Northern Ireland is British is to suppose that it is unjust that Silesia is part of Poland rather being reunited with Germany.

If you think that the island of Great Britain can be partitioned as both Welsh and Scottish Nationalists argue, then there is no logical reason why the island of Ireland cannot be partitioned also. There is nothing intrinsic about an island that implies that the territory of one part ought to belong to another. The fact that you share an island gives you no territorial claim over someone else’s territory. If it did Haiti could annex the Dominican Republic and Indonesia could annex Papua New Guinea.

There was no sovereign nation state called Ireland prior to independence so it can hardly claim to have lost something that belonged to it. Ireland prior to independence was legally part of the United Kingdom and what became Northern Ireland was British territory. It was Ireland that took British territory when it left rather than the other way round.

The UK has a better claim on Ireland than Ireland has on Northern Ireland after all Ireland was British territory until it rebelled while our troops were fighting on the Somme.

The United Kingdom should have said to Ireland, Northern Ireland is permanently UK territory if you want to annex it you will have to win a war against British armed forces in order to do so and by the way we have nuclear weapons.

But the UK has never treated Northern Ireland as an integral part of our territory, nor indeed do we treat Scotland and Wales as integral parts. Each can leave by means of a referendum as can Northern Ireland.

No one else thinks in this way. Whatever the injustice of former Mexican territory now belonging to the United States, any attempt by Mexico to annex that territory would be treated by the United States as an act of war. If the Mexican Republican Army carried out terrorist attacks in New Mexico, the United States would not make a deal with Mexico called the Santa Fe Agreement offering New Mexicans the chance to reunite with Old Mexicans by means of a referendum.

Americans like Biden are hypocrites for applying a standard to Northern Ireland that they would not apply to their own nation’s territory. The USA famously forbade secession which unquestionably had popular support by means of the bloodiest war in its history.

But the UK did not respond to terrorism in Northern Ireland and elsewhere like every other country in the world would have. Instead our government chose to make a deal with Sinn Féin, the IRA and the Irish government to make the future of Northern Ireland depend on a referendum.

In a way this puts Northern Ireland in a no different situation than Scotland or Wales or indeed England. Each could in theory leave by means of a referendum and if they left, they could in theory decide to join another country.   

Again, no other country in the world runs its affairs in this way. It makes the territorial integrity of the UK contingent in a way quite different to any other state in the world. No other country in Europe would allow a part to leave by means of a referendum including Ireland.

We are where we are. Our politics is determined by our history. The UK uniquely feels the need to give its parts the right to leave.

Polling suggests that the majority of people in Northern Ireland wish to remain in the UK. Indeed, support for remaining in the UK is higher in Northern Ireland than Scotland and possibly Wales. The main difference is that only Northern Ireland has another state Ireland agitating to annex it. This meant that Northern Ireland was treated differently after Brexit to every other part of the UK.

The UK government ought to have said to Ireland and the EU there is an international border between Ireland and Northern Ireland if that causes you a difficulty then it’s your problem not ours. We should have been willing to leave the EU without a deal to prevent a border down the Irish Sea, but we were not willing partly I think because we have always viewed Northern Ireland as different and only contingently part of the UK.

In the end it is up to people in Northern Ireland to determine their future, after all voters in Northern Ireland chose to ratify the Belfast Agreement and perhaps it was worth it to make peace. But in that case, there needs to be more clarity on the conditions regarding a border poll.

All we really have is the condition that if the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland thinks it likely that a majority would vote for Irish unity then there should be a referendum. But there are a variety of problems with this.

Sinn Féin is still the political wing of the IRA. The IRA has not ceased to exist. But then any border poll would have to take place with an implied threat. If you vote the wrong way, we might begin our bombing campaign again.

This is exactly the tactic that the Irish government used to justify there being no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit. If you try to put up a border there will be a return to the Troubles. Well, the implication must be that this would be still more be the case in a border poll.

After a border poll in 1973 the IRA did not choose to give up the armed struggle.

But this puts Northern Ireland in the same position as Crimea when it voted to join Russia with the Russian army present. It makes a legitimate democratic vote impossible.

If a majority of the voters now wished Northern Ireland to remain in the UK, the Secretary of State might agree with Sinn Féin’s optimism and choose to have a poll this year. What would happen to the Belfast Agreement if Northern Ireland overwhelmingly voted again to stay in the UK?

Would Sinn Féin and the Irish government accept that the people have spoken and accept that Northern Ireland was permanently part of the UK. No of course not, Sinn Féin just like the SNP would immediately campaign for another referendum.

But this makes the contest unfair. If a border poll results in a united Ireland, then everyone will have to accept that this is permanent, but if it doesn’t Sinn Féin can keep on having referendums until one day it wins. “We only have to get lucky once”.

The British government pays Northern Ireland each year a considerable sum of money, without which the Northern Ireland economy could not function. If Northern Ireland were to unite with Ireland, then that sum would have to be paid by Ireland. But why should the British government pay money to Northern Ireland if Sinn Féin’s First Minister wants it to leave?

If Michelle O'Neill wants Northern Ireland to leave, she should first arrange it so that Northern Ireland ceases to receive any money from the British government by living within its means. After all you cannot say you want to leave your job and expect it to still pay your wages.

If Ireland wants Northern Ireland not just theoretically but actually then it has to be willing to pay for it, well when Ireland covers the budget deficit in Northern Ireland in full, we might first consider that Ireland is ready and willing to take on the task of managing Northern Ireland and that Irish voters are willing for their taxes to pay for British citizens in Northern Ireland. If they are unwilling to do so now, how can we trust that they would really be willing in the future.

Has Ireland thought of the consequences of having in percentage terms more foreigners living in its borders than any other European country. Would they get some sort of special status and rights like other minorities in Europe or would they just have to do what they were told?

The British government must take seriously the territorial integrity of the UK and make clear to those that threaten it in Ireland that it is unreasonable to expect there to be friendly relations between a country that has just annexed UK territory ultimately because of a terrorist campaign. Ireland in that case apart from the British citizens who would remain there could hardly be treated as an ally still less as a friend. Why then should the Kingdom of Great Britain which would result from the loss of Northern Ireland maintain a Common Travel Area between Ireland and Great Britain.

If Troubles arose because of forced reunification, it would be tempting for Britain to have nothing whatsoever to do with it apart from to offer refuge to our own people. It would be Ireland’s problem and up to Irish forces to deal with it.

For that reason, we might be grateful that there was no longer free movement between our two islands. For it would be better then for us to have as little to do with Ireland as possible.

If you want it you pay for it and if it blows up in your face you deal with the Troubles not us.

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