Patriotism and freedom – A libertarian defence of national sovereignty

Philip vander Elst, a writer and former editor of Freedom Today, has recently produced this excellent and thought-provoking study which refutes any idea that patriotism is only appropriate for people looking back to the past. There is nothing selfish or bigoted about loving our country and its institutions.

It is a lust for power, not the existence of nation states which causes wars. Indeed, “national sovereignty and loyalty to the nation-state is one of the essential pillars of a free and peaceful international order.”

The author goes on to tackle the complex issue of immigraton and argues that “there is a strong and principled moral and libertarian case for acknowledging the right of individual countries to control their borders and the flow of migrants seeking to cross them.” In other words, a desire to restrict immigration is not necessarily racist.

The final point in the essay is that freedom is more compatible with a sovereign, democratic nation rather than a situation where people “are imprisoned within a world of monopolistic supranational regional power blocs, or worst of all, some monopolistic system of global government.”

In summary, an excellent rebuttal of the ideals of the European Project whose ideals still remain intact in the minds of some of its key players, including Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission.

It also offers a useful starting-point in trying to de-programme our young people, many of whom have had little exposure to the very valid arguments against the European Union.

A wake-up call from the Brexit vote

“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.”  John Adams

The vote to leave the European Union on 23rd June and its immediate aftermath have tossed the pieces of our country’s political kaleidoscope into the air. Whilst it is still too early to know where they will all eventually land, the Brexit earthquake has created an opportunity to renew our country’s democracy and to show that good government is still possible. However, it has also revealed the obstacles that such a renewal would face.

Playing fast and loose

Many politicians, their sycophants and other members of the ruling establishment were (and presumably still are) prepared to throw responsibility, integrity and good judgement to the wind in pursuit of a political objective or their own narrow self-interests. No holds are barred and the end justifies the means.  We suspected then and now know that ‘Project Fear’ was largely a work of gross exaggeration, if not of fiction. Yet such gross deception would never have happened if the individuals concerned had acted with any sense of integrity, honour, duty and professionalism. Thankfully, there were a few – but alas not many – dissenting voices on the remain side who refused, in spite of establishment pressure and groupthink, to participate in acts of deceit and manipulation of the electorate.

Boldly go where facts, knowledge and analysis are missing

We now know that many politicians, members of the ruling establishment and their fellow travellers in the mainstream media are prepared to make authoritative policy statements with only a superficial knowledge of the subject or issue – in other words, behaving like proverbial fools who ‘rush in where angels fear to tread’. Obviously, they are highly likely to get it wrong often but yet they deliberately shy away from detailed statements based on facts, knowledge and thoughtful, perceptive analysis. Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne have shown, by hamstringing the Civil Service over any sort of BREXIT plan, just how little the political establishment actually knows or understands.

Poor democrats and worse

The ruling establishment has shown itself to be willing to undermine or circumvent the democratic process. Thus we see Remainiacs (with deep pockets) involving themselves in legal action (dressed up in sophistry), while some politicians are still trying to ignore or reinterpret the Referendum result.  Many also do not appear to have grasped that, whatever justification they may give for their statements, they are not entitled to ignore the democratic will of the electorate. The desire to strengthen democracy and restore the sovereignty of our own Parliament was one of the major factors in the decision of many leavers to vote for independence from the EU. In the wake of the result, these opponents of democracy talk down our country’s prospects in the media, using often spurious or selective ‘evidence’.

Out of touch ruling Élite

The ruling establishment’s agenda – supported by much of the mainstream media – is not shared by many of the electorate. Consequently, many voters, particularly the socially conservative, patriotic, individualistic, financially prudent types, feel that they are no longer represented and have no voice in the ‘corridors of power’.

The establishment generally comes across as having a set of common values, views and interests, including: globalism and destruction of national identities; remaking society into a sort of permissive, compliant image; intolerance of nonconforming views; pursuit of increasing statist or corporatist control. They view the electorate, who do not share these values, as wrong, ill-informed and/or misguided and in need of re-education. Furthermore, they never consider that their condescending attitudes are the root cause of the electorate’s ‘obstinacy’, as they would call it.

Some Implications

The gap between ordinary people and this self-selecting élite is vast. The two groups have very different philosophical outlooks and interpret the world in totally different ways. The élite live in a bubble, consisting of people who largely share the same views, self-interests and questionable assumptions – especially when it comes to the electorate and the opinions of ordinary people. In their isolated world, spin (with its abandonment of precise language) and the resulting superficial depth of thought have replaced humanity, patriotism, experience, actual knowledge and careful analysis.  Their objectives – pursuit of globalism and corporatism, self-interest etc. – are as likely as not to be working against the wishes, aspirations and best interests of much of the electorate. Consequently, we, the ordinary people, need some form of protection.

Traditionally, in our country, protection against abuse of power has been provided by the workings of democratic accountability and transparency and by longstanding systemic (Parliamentary and legal) checks and balances.  However, this approach requires all parties concerned to ‘play the game’. When a ruling élite effectively controls the apparatus of government and gains a stranglehold over economic forecasting and the media, as we are seeing, these protections can be ignored and dismantled.  This process is a slippery slope which can result in our becoming playthings for their sociological experiments  – reduced to nothing more than a resource to be exploited.  As democracy dies, so too do its checks and balances. Like a political version of Newton’s Third Law of Motion, extremism, inhumanity and intolerance rises on all sides to fill the gap.

In conclusion, democracy, like freedom, has shallow roots and must be constantly re-invigorated to remain healthy. The traditional methods of democratic renewal have been education, respect for just laws and active involvement by the electorate. If these tools are not regularly used, our ruling élite will accrue yet more power to themselves and our democracy will slowly wither away.

An open letter to a high-profile remainer

If we all write to our opponents, they may start thinking a bit more seriously about future membership of the European Union, giving us a far better chance of winning the coming referendum.

The following letter highlights risk management. There is a strong case for spreading its message  because we traditionally are far better at risk management and the EU is a failing political/bureaucratic experiment that encourages irresponsible behaviour and mutualises the resulting problems making them far worse.

Dear Mr Cameron,

I read with some concern a transcript of your recent speech (9th May on strength and security) which supported remaining in the European Union (EU) and highlighted the risks of leaving.  Whilst to paraphrase Mark Carney on the Andrew Marr Show, 16th May, highlighting risks is necessary in order to mitigate them, nothing is being said about the risks of remaining.  Could this be that whilst we traditionally are rather good at risk management, the risks arising from remaining within the EU are beyond our capabilities of risk management or mitigation? Thus the Public could be unaware of serious risks of remaining which cannot be effectively mitigated, whilst also being fearful of leaving under an erroneous impression regarding its riskiness?

I find developments within the EU, as reported recently in the Daily Mail  and the Daily Telegraph, rather alarming; hence my raising the subject of risk management and mitigation. We are not being asked to remain in the EU as it is now, but an EU which is highly unstable and on a trajectory to create a superstate.

From a risk management perspective, the EU, by extending its powers and adopting ‘one size fits all’ policies that apply to all member states, faces serious risks whereby some Member States will be extremely adversely affected. Some examples of this are the €uro and mass migration. Also there is a tendency to mutualise local issues or problems to all Member States making the results far worse, where previously these problems did not exist, such as with certain ECJ rulings.  It would appear, then, that the EU is inherently much poorer at risk management and mitigation than we are.

Can the EU become much better at risk management or even reform?  Professor John W Hunt, concluded on the basis of his studies of organisational behaviour in the EU and other international bodies, that reform always gets pushed to the bottom of the pile. He noted: “International bodies rarely have a power base of their own….. To justify themselves, these highly paid, often initially idealistic staff spend their time developing yet more ideas that can’t be implemented. The result is the worst of all worlds, there being nothing more cynical than a bunch of rich, demoralised ex-idealists.” Thus it is reasonable to assume the EU will largely remain unchanged, unreformed and poor at risk management.

I would be happy to discuss this further because we really do need an intelligent debate on all the serious risks not just those of leaving (which can be mitigated), but also those of remaining (which cannot).

You should, after an examination of all risks and their risk management, including those of remaining, heed the words of a great former Conservative Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury:- ‘The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcasses of dead policies. When a mast falls overboard, you do not try to save a rope here and a spar there in memory of their former utility. You cut away the hamper altogether. It should be the same with policy, but it is not so. We cling to the shred of an old policy after it has been torn to pieces, and to the shadow of the shred after the rag itself has been torn away.

Hypocrisy of PM eulogising the Queen while abolishing her realm

THE PRESS OFFICE OF                                                           

The Lord Stoddart of Swindon (Independent Labour)

 

News Release

 

22nd April 2016

 

The ‘hypocrisy’ of a Prime Minister eulogising the Queen while trying to take away her realm

 

The independent Labour Peer, Lord Stoddart of Swindon has taken exception to David Cameron’s eulogising Her Majesty the Queen on the sovereign’s 90th birthday, while he is simultaneously leading a campaign to abolish Britain as a nation state.

Lord Stoddart said:  “It is the most nauseating hypocrisy for the Prime Minister and other political leaders to eulogise Her Majesty on the occasion of Her 90th birthday while, simultaneously, organising a national and international lobby to bounce the British people into voting to remain in the European Union at the referendum on 23rd June.  This is an organisation, whose policy it is to abolish nation states, including Her Majesty’s own realm.

“They have already made Her Majesty a citizen of the European Union without consulting her.  Anyone with genuine respect for the Queen should vote to leave, which will protect her and our country from the EU’s aggressive empire building.”

 

Ends

Mr President, it’s none of your business!

Keep your nose out, Obama! Don’t you think you’ve done enough damage to prospects for world peace in the nearly eight years of your disastrous presidency?

So writes Rev Dr. Peter Mullen as the US President makes his case for us to stay in the EU. Dr Mullen goes on to say:-

“His latest conceit is to use the occasion of his coming to the Queen’s 90th birthday party to tell the British to remain in the EU. “you will be stronger for your belonging to this union,” he said. Imagine his reaction – and the entirely justified fury of the American people – if David Cameron said, “Well, Barack, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The USA would be stronger if you formed an economic and political union with Mexico, Nicaragua and all the other shambolic Latin-American states in your own back yard.” Of course, Dave would never go in for such straight talking, but one of his aides might have a quiet word in the President’s ear and say, “it is not the business of allies to interfere in the domestic policies of those allies.”   

This is precisely the line  taken by Matt Ridley when Obama’s secretary of State, John Kerry, spoke in similar terms a couple of months ago. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has also been critical of President Obama, calling him “hypocritical” and stating that it would not be right for the US President “to urge us to sacrifice control” when America would not do the same. Iain Duncan-Smith, the former Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith added “He is asking the British people to accept a situation that he patently would not recommend to the American population… I can imagine no circumstances under which he would lobby for the US Supreme Court to be bound by the judgments of a foreign court.”

Obama’s speech was a truly pathetic effort. The man used the word “friend”, but is this really appropriate for someone like this? A few years ago, when the Gulf of Mexico suffered from an oil spill caused by the sinking of BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform, the President pointedly referred to “British Petroleum”, even though the company’s full name has not been in popular use for many years. This man is no friend to our country.

Nor is he honest in his claim that TTIP “will advance our values and our interests.” True, it will advance the interests of US pharmaceutical giants, but  since when has a top-secret deal to be governed by a text that no one is allowed to publish been a true reflection of anglo-american values?
Quite honestly, his claim that we would be at the “back of the queue” for trade talks hardly ties in with the behaviour of a real friend. Anyway, we already have a healthy trade relationship with the USA without TTIP and world trade is moving away from big bilateral deals towards smaller, limited agreements in specific areas.

He made the security argument, mentioning the threat of terrorism as one would expect. Perhaps a gentle word in his ear that it is the EU that we wish to leave and not NATO might not have gone amiss.

However, it was particularly sickening to hear him talk of “The tens of thousands of Americans who rest in Europe’s cemeteries” who are “a silent testament to just how intertwined our prosperity and security truly are.” Those Americans, like the thousands of our own soldiers who died in World War 2, died to preserve our freedom and save us from tyranny. It is precisely our desire for freedom that drives us to vote to leave the EU. We should not stay in the EU just because it suits America or any other foreign country for that matter, nor should we be put off voting for leave because Mr Putin may like the idea. It is our country’s interests that count and it should be our decision alone what our future should be.

As our President, Edward Spalton has pointed out, In 1950 Clement Attlee, the Labour Prime Minister, refused to join the forerunner of the EU, the Coal and Steel Community. He said there was no way that Britain could accept that “the most vital economic forces of the country should be handed over to an authority that is utterly undemocratic and responsible to nobody”. The decline of our industries and the near extinction of steel production under forty years of EU control testify to his wisdom. Yet President Obama has the sheer cheek to urge us to continue in this subjection – a subjection which he an all Americans would regard as odious and downright treasonable – far worse than anything George III ever did to them!

“For us the EU is a long-suffered wrong, inflicted by our own political class”, said Mr Spalton. “The American colonists of 1776 took up arms for the rights of Englishmen who happened to live in America. Along with Samuel Adams we can now say loudly to our own betrayers – ‘If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen‘.

What possible objection could President Obama have to that?”

The EU – very risky to your wellbeing and pocket

The EU – a club of former countries that encourages irresponsible behaviour and mutualises the resulting problems, making them worse

In the current ‘debate’ (or, perhaps better, the current game of fear messaging and deceit) about our membership of the European Union, (EU), the subject of risk management is largely ignored.  Yet this somewhat arcane subject  – very mysterious to politicians – is critical to understanding what we are letting ourselves in for.   Its inclusion completely changes the actual or residual risks we face.  Its omission by Mr Cameron and many other senior politicians is completely irresponsible. We could pay a very heavy price in future if we opt for the most risky option in the mistaken belief that it is the safest.

From prehistoric times, even our most intellectually challenged Homo Sapiens ancestors quickly learnt that life is full of risks.  Hunting and progress needed successful management of these risks, whether it was avoiding being trampled by woolly mammoths, getting hurt by chipping flints or being burnt when cooking over an open fire.  If our early ancestors had been ruled by someone like Mr Cameron, his Project Fear would have led to our early extinction because of dire warnings about messing with fire or the dangers of leaving our prehistoric EU cave.

Today, any business activity or enterprise, investment, not to mention scientific experimentation and medical progress, will inevitably involve both risk taking and successful risk management if it is to achieve results. Government is no exception; Some policies come with a possible downside in the shape of unwanted or undesirable consequences. If there is a strong likelihood of this happening, risk management is necessary to mitigate these risks and avoid mistakes becoming disasters.

Of course, government incompetence, malevolence and greed is in itself a risk which needs to be managed. It isn’t easy to do this.  Parliamentary democracy is a step in the right direction, as in theory, our MP goes to Westminster to act on our behalf and use his or her brain to do the best for us and protect our interests. The nation state also acts as a tool of risk management since the more diverse a population in culture, heritage and history the more difficult it is to avoid serious risks of downsides to some. In this country we are very privileged that,  over centuries, laws, checks and balances have evolved, somewhat serendipitously, to provide a decent level of risk control while at the same time reining in the government and the state.

In the real world (as opposed to the bubble which our ruling élite inhabit), we are actually world leaders in risk management. We have also pioneered many techniques for managing risks and have legal frameworks where responsibilities and accountability for so doing (i.e., a duty of care) are clear.  Policy risk management at national level is inherently easier than at EU level, hence residual risks can be made much smaller than the initial, apparent, risks.  The future outside the EU, should therefore hold few fears because we can manage risks as and when they occur.

The EU, by comparison, is a basket case for risk management. It is not just that its leaders ignore risk management;  the organisational structure of the EU makes the task inherently more difficult and the consequences of failure more severe.  As we will consider in more detail shortly, one-size-fits-all policies devised by remote unaccountable bureaucrats and enforced by judges (all ideologically driven), are a recipe for risk, mistakes and floundering about afterwards making the damage worse. This pattern is repeated time and again.

One of the more subtle consequences is that it encourages irresponsible behaviour by the unaccountable ruling élite, be they politicians, bureaucrats, big business, vested interests, special interest groups or corrupt individuals.  Rather than act in the best interests of ordinary people (the common good), they use the EU as a means to an end, to avoid responsibility, to exploit the people while following their own, self-interested agendas.

Commonly known as corporatism, it amounts to government by the few for the few and the re-distribution of existing wealth from the many to them.  From a risk management perspective, giving carte blanche to the EU’s ruling élite poses great risks to the wellbeing and prosperity of the many.  The Euro, EU energy policies and pricing, open borders and bureaucratic regulation as pursued by the EU have all had disastrous consequences.

Continuing EU membership is a systemic high risk proposition that can only get worse as its leaders recklessly pursue their goal of creating a superstate while at the same time increasingly expanding their unaccountable control of our daily lives.  Sadly, the damage spreads far and wide because of the contagion factor. A local issue which may crop up in one member state – or even one part of one member state – cannot be dealt with locally.

This is quite deliberate policy and results in us all being affected by events taking place far away of no direct relevance to us. One example of this is the Landfill Directive, which addressed the problems faced by Denmark and Holland, two fairly small, flat countries which had run out of space to bury rubbish. Our quarrying industry creates more than enough holes for this country to deal with our garbage, but EU legislation has forced us increasingly in the direction of smelly, air-polluting incinerators..

Sadly, all that Mr Cameron is doing through Project Fear is showing everyone that he knows very little about risk management and consequently is unfit to govern anyone or anything. This has been amply demonstrated by the devastation of the Steel Industry.

If we are to build a prosperous future for the UK, we need to be able both to take risks (business is always inherently risky) and to manage risks successfully. Mr Cameron’s ignorance is potentially very damaging to our future prospects. We could end up with the worst of all worlds, subject to a reckless EU while frightened to build a confident, prosperous and secure future for our country.

Photo by Oregon State University