Welcome to edition 221 of Britblog Roundup, your weekly summary of the best in British blogging.
Cabalamat has a list of 10 ways MPs fiddle their expenses:
1. ‘Flipping’ their addresses: MP nominates London property as “second” home, charges the taxpayer for furniture and refurbishment, then nominates constituency home so they can do up that one too. […]
10. Binge eaters: MP claims the maximum £400 food allowance for every month of the year, even during the recess when they are unlikely to be away from their main home.
It’s a shame they don’t put so much effort and enterprise into governing the country properly.
Brian Barder summarizes the controversy over MPs’ expenses:
A shamefully large number of MPs of all parties, on front and back benches, have apparently behaved carelessly at one end of the spectrum, and probably semi-corruptly at the other, with all kinds of petty fiddling in between, most if not all of it technically within the letter of the rules (which MPs themselves have of course approved), but in some cases miles outside their spirit. […] The blogosphere is humming with contempt for the whole breed. So are the tabloids, and much of the broadsheets. Phone-in programmes on radio and television are receiving buckets of bile to pour over politicians’ heads.
“I have been a trade unionist all my life. I did not come into politics not to take what is owed to me.”
Dizzy is broadly in favour of electoral recall:
Is now the time to consider some sort of emergency legislation that introduces the ability to recall an MP, like recall laws in the US? I have seen others mention this, such as Tory Bear, and as a member of the great unwashed, it ought to be the case shouldn’t it, that if my MP has been such a utter shit with my money that a method exists to force them to seek reelection from their constituents?
Parliament itself can have votes of no confidence, so why can’t the constituency electorate? We often hear from MPs about how political disengagement concerns them. That turnout is falling etc etc. Have they considered that may be because the adage of “if voting changed anything it would be made illegal” is not just cynicism but a reality for so many?
Wilders’ plan is also discussed at Liberal Conspriracy. Sunny isn’t overly fond of him either:
The BNP could certainly learn from Geert Wilders because I think they only got as far as ‘voluntary repatriation’, closing Islamic schools and ending all immigration. […] What nice company Wilders and Douglas Murray keep. It’s also very heartening to know that they get their ideas on best practice from Saudi Arabia.
Geert Wilders is also on the Home Secretary’s list of people banned from Britain, notes Archbishop Cranmer.
Jim Jay writes about a survey on the attitudes of British Muslims:
77% of Muslims said they strongly identified with the UK. It could be that the figures are saying that UK Muslims are more patriotic. Alternatively it could be that Muslims in the UK have been subject to loyalty test after loyalty test over the last decade and so when someone asks them “How strongly do you identify with the UK” they are conditioned to ensure they come across as fully integrated citizens.
He’s suspicious of some of the survey’s findings:
The big headline however is around homosexuality. Not one UK Muslim respondent thought that homosexuality was “acceptable” compared to 58% for the the UK as a whole […] Whatever the methodological detail (which I’ve been unable to find) a 0% return is as suspicious as a North Korean election result and we have to be pretty careful when drawing conclusions from it.
Regarding the survey, Shelina Zahra Janmohamed says attitudes to sexuality have been over-emphasised:
Mainstream media coverage has sensationalised the report by reducing it to one thing: Muslim opinions about sexual relationships. Muslims are indeed more conservative than the general population. The danger in focusing on sexuality as a litmus test of integration is that in turns this into a one-issue debate.
Cabalamat disagrees, saying attitudes to sexual issues are important:
Quite a few of my friends are gay or bisexual. If someone says my friends are bad people because of it, I disagree, and I’m not going to like that person. In fact, I think that person is a bigot. Don’t ask me to respect people I think are bigots, because in all honesty I cannot. […] There’s also a practical point. If there were more Muslims in Britain they could, by allying with other religious and socially conservative people, get laws changed in ways that I wouldn’t like. People might say that the rights of gays are secure, but within living memory, homosexuality was a crime in Britain and gays were persecuted and driven to their deaths.
Lewisham council is stencilling the pavements with pictures of defecating dogs.
Heresy Corner discusses oppression of women in the Muslim world.
Mick Fealty reminisces on Margaret Thatcher:
Mrs Thatcher had a big idea. For all the swathes of comment on the net and in the newspapers, neither of her contemporary inheritors have. In a world where complex problems play themselves out on a global as opposed to a national, scale, that may be more dangerous now than it ever seemed back in the so-called dismal 1970s.
Charles Crawford discusses the ethics of the civil service.
Archbishop Cranmer discusses Irelan’s proposed new blasphemy law.
Also banned from Britain is American shock-jock Michael Savage. The Heresiarch is puzzled.
Clairwil ponders who to vote for in the European election.
Harpymarx isn’t impressed by the MoDs new soldier action figures, and suggests an addition to the range:
Though what is far far worrying is the production of a ‘generic baddie’… They have said it won’t be a racist stereotypical toy such as from the Middle East etc. No, it will a ‘a random mercenary’. And there are enough of them operating in private military and security organisations across war torn countries.
Oh, and here’s another idea for the ‘generic baddie’ how about a composite of Tony Bliar, and Dubya Bush, and all the other warmongering colonialists and imperialists shafting the oppressed…?
Chris Dillow talks about the conflict between liberty and democracy:
The public does not want libertarianism. Which means that the public does not want a system that respects fundamental rights. There’s a conflict between liberty and democracy. I’m surprised this issue isn’t more prominent. The growing interest in cognitive biases within centrist politics – be it Cameron’s embracing of “Nudge” or the “libertarian paternalism” of Julian Le Grand also suggest a scepticism about conventional democracy. After all, if people are poor judges of their best interests in health or pensions, why should they be good judges of their interest at the ballot box?
Janine thinks the labour movement should reject the Labour Party’s leadership.
Economics and economic policy
Andrew Ian Dodge compares tax protests in the UK and USA, and quotes Mathew Elliot giving this advice:
make events fun — the tea parties have followed this admirably. If people are going to give up their time to attend an event, they don’t want to be surrounded by sour-faced protesters. They want to feel positive about their activism, so using humor to convey a serious message is essential.
Brian Barder discusses the global tragedy of unemployment:
The dry statistics of unemployment figures tend to mask the human suffering that lies behind them: men and women losing the jobs that helped to define them, in some cases with little prospect of ever finding employment again.
In a thoughtful article, Jackart discusses welfare policy want why the right is labelled “nasty”. He concludes:
The right must acnowledge that not everyone is capable of “getting on a bike and finding work”. Meanwhile the left must demonstrate how support for social provision can survive in a heterogenous society; and how generous welfare can be given without bankrupting the country, as welfare already accounts for about a third of Government managed expenditure. They must also acknowledge that simply demanding more off “the rich” will not wash, because the rich will refuse to pay, and go somewhere else. In truth, intelligent people are doing this on both sides, but no-one in government is listening, as they are too busy engaging in tribal point-scoring along traditional party divides.
It’s 30 years since Thatcher gained power! Neil Robertson asks whether Thatcherism was worth it.
Stroud is getting its own currency!
Gordon McLean reviews X-Men Origins: Wolverine:
This isn’t a movie about being clever. This is a movie about action, fighting and mutant super powers. And boy does it deliver on that front!
Unfortunately the hyperlinks don’t work — McLean needs to fix his HTML.
Alix Mortimer discusses the film Zulu and female role models.
Valdemar Squelch at Heresy Corner discusses science fiction and politics, by way of the new Star Trek film.
Laura Woodhouse discusses marriage:
My relationship would be considered more serious, more committed, more worthy of respect if we got married than if we remained happily unmarried. Needless to say, I resent that. I resent that other people’s judgements should affect my feelings about my relationship, and, what’s more, I really do believe that however hard I tried to make my (hypothetical) wedding and marriage as alternative and feminist as possible, I would not be able to escape from the centuries-ingrained connotations of ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. I would not be able to stop people looking on my wedding day as the best day of my life, the pinnacle of my achievements.
Lynne Miles writes about the threatened deportation of Sima Valand which was to have taken place on the 8th of May. Her husband comes across as a nasty piece of work:
During the 15 years of their marriage Sima was subjected to frequent verbal, physical and sexual abuse by her husband. Following their arrival in the UK, the violence escalated. It culminated in a horrific rape in May 2008. While her husband was on bail, the threat to Sima was sufficient to force her to move to Nottingham for her safety. She was subjected to frequent death threats from the husband’s family. Her in-laws have contacted her on frequent occasions to tell her that they will cut her up and kill her if she returns to India.
Kate Smurthwaite reviews Jessica Valenti’s book, He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut.
[it] looks like one of those rather meaningless “gift books” that you buy for friends when you can’t think of anything else they’d like. [But] the “fluff” appearance of the book, no doubt soon to be appearing on every thinking woman’s toilet shelf, is part of it’s brilliance.
Penny Red discusses abortion rights.
Jonathan Calder ponders the connection between trainspotting, autism and normality.
Swiss Toni discusses the new weight-loss drug Alli, which has unpleasant side effects:
What do you think happens to all the fat that this drug stops your body from absorbing? It passes through your body, of course. Sadly, your body isn’t really equipped to prevent pure fat from exiting your body in this way, and do you know what that means? Yes, it means anal leakage. You shit fat. Mmm. Nice.
Think you can live with that? Well, apparently it also means that the fat passes straight through your body. You might sit down to enjoy a curry, but you probably won’t make it home before some of that richness tries to make an unscheduled exit from your body. Are you ready for that? I know a guy who was on this stuff when it was only available through prescription. He tells me that it doesn’t take very long before you realise that a curry simply isn’t worth the cost and you give it a miss.
Fortunately, I had already eaten my dinner when I read that bit.
Phil BC thinks Twitter is useful.
Diamond Geezer looks at the 1854 cholera epidemic
Random Acts Of Reality notes that MPs aren’t the only people on the fiddle.
Misprism has news of a disturbing legal case where the British Association of Chiroprators are using the law to expose their harmful practises. Essetially, the BCA are encouraging patients to use their bogus treatments instread of one that work. Simon Singh wrote a book exposing them, and they’ve sued him for libel:
Simon Singh followed up his successful pop-sci book Fermat’s Last Theorem with a new one called Trick or Treatment? on alternative medicine. In it, he called out the British Chiropractic Association for promoting bogus treatments.
The libel court’s preliminary ruling, which lawblogger Jack of Kent describes as astonishing, was that to defend himself, Singh will have to prove that the BCA are deliberately and knowingly lying to patients. This is going to be almost impossible, because they are probably not doing so, which is why Singh never said they were in the first place. He was saying the treatments don’t work, which they don’t, and that the BCA promotes them, which it does.
Low Carbon Lifestyle talks compost.
And finally, Tesco threatens the world!
That’s all for this week, next week it’s Jackart‘s turn.