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Brussels: Déjà vu

Brussels: Déjà vu
By Keir Martland

I remember watching with horror on the night of the 13th November 2015 as the news of the Paris atrocities came through. RT, the BBC, and Sky were all of them thoroughly confused by the events and yet I stayed up until the small hours of the morning. When I woke up, the death toll was well over a hundred.  It made me, and countless others, almost physically ill. It also made me very angry.

This morning, I sat down with my breakfast and switched on the television set with the intention of getting my 5-10 minutes of BBC propaganda. Instead, I was very nearly late for college. Just as in November, I was glued to the screen, only this time I don’t feel the same anger. Yes, I am repulsed. I would hope that the very idea that any one of us could be blown to smithereens by some lunatic while on the way to work or waiting for our luggage – in our own country – would repulse any sensible person. But I am incapable of reproducing the emotions of last year.Instead, what I mostly feel is déjà vu. 



The Supreme Court: Our Last Hope?

The Supreme Court: Our Last Hope?

By Keir Martland

On 15th March 2016 the Investigatory Powers Bill was passed by 281 votes to 15 at Second Reading. Conservative backbenchers competed during the debate over who could praise the Bill the most. Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition presented no principled opposition to the new powers proposed. The Scottish National Party seemed to have a proportionally higher turnout than the Labour Party, and one or two SNP MPs made some very pithy comments. UKIP Leader Nigel Farage has not made it onto the media to denounce the Bill, if indeed that is to be the UKIP line – you can’t tell these days with UKIP – although Steven Woolfe MEP has. Undoubtedly, however, the champions of freedom from within politics at the moment are Conservative backbencher David Davis and the Liberal Democrats.

If Mrs May’s Investigatory Powers Bill, drafted 4th November last year, receives Royal Assent, then the security services and the police shall, for the first time ever, be given the explicit power to hack our telephones and our computers. The Bill also specifies that the last year of our search history is fair game for the police and security services.


Paris: A Few Political Points to Make


I disagree that it is crude to make a political point out of atrocities such as that in Paris yesterday. Bad politics causes these attacks and better politics can prevent them. Here are a few political points I’d like to make.

In the first place, most of us have imperfect information about the events of last night. I was flicking back and forth from Sky to BBC, who, in turn, were getting their most reliable information from BFM. Even as I write, the death toll is disputed as is the question of whether the terrorists definitely were Muslims.


In Praise of David Cameron (& Co): A Libertarian Fatwa


A fortnight ago, I wrote something nasty about Margaret Thatcher for the Libertarian Alliance[2]. Yet even I will concede that in order to be so cruel about the old cow one must inevitably come across as sympathetic to some less than civilised people. In order to attack the Thatcher government and its record one must to some extent deny the existence of the many problems this country faced in 1979: the rampant inflation; the militant trade unionism; the lack of self-respect as a nation; the high rates of direct taxation; the low levels of home ownership. I will concede that even if one takes a dim view of the Thatcher government, there are many allowances that can, and indeed must, be made.

However, when considering the latest tax credits debacle, I am unable to make similar allowances for Mr Cameron and his government. This particular episode is a perfect example of economic illiteracy, legislative incompetence, and constitutional ignorance.


In Praise of Margaret Thatcher


Margaret Thatcher won the 1979 General Election after the vote of no confidence in Jim Callaghan’s government. Callaghan had not been particularly disastrous as Prime Minister until the winter of 1978/9, the so-called Winter of Discontent. Thatcher then proceeded to transform this country from a largely free one to a largely unfree one.

Yes, we are told that Britain was the Sick Man of Europe in the 1970s and emerged into the 1990s a prosperous and libertarian country. Yes, the scandalously high tax rates were slashed, for example the top rate of income tax was cut during Thatcher’s time in office from 83% to 60%. Yes, union power was reduced. Yes, people were allowed to buy their own council homes. Yes, we went to beat up the Argies in the Atlantic.