A blog by Patrick Crozier


May 30, 2003

Why I am a Eurosceptic
Patrick Crozier

Tony Blair has come out against the Eurosceptics (at least that’s the BBC’s take on things) and, as a not-quite fully-paid up, card-carrying member of the Eurosceptic movement I feel obliged to respond. But it occurred to me, reading the BBC report of Blair’s words, that very few of his criticisms applied to me. The one about withdrawing certainly did but other than that I rather got the impression that he must be talking about someone else.

I am a Eurosceptic (meaning I want Britain to withdraw from the European Union) because I am a libertarian. I believe that the current set up makes it very difficult, legally, for a British government to follow libertarian policies and that further engagement would only make things all the more difficult.

As someone who, in another place, covers transport issues, I am confronted daily with the block-headedness of the European Union’s rail policy. It’s been there for over ten years and the problems that Britain’s railways face are in large part inspired by the EU – along with, it must be said, a fair dose of our own stupidity. Were I ever to become Transport Secretary and seek to introduce what I regard as sensible policies I would almost immediately find that they would be ruled out as contrary to European law. I would then be faced with the uncomfortable dilemma of deciding whether to carry on in defiance of the EU or to resign.

Although I can’t prove it, it is interesting to observe the Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling’s almost complete paralysis on the subject. Although (I think) he has correctly identified fragmentation as the problem, he resolutely refuses to do anything about it because he can’t – the EU won’t allow him to. The thing that damns him is his failure to tell the rest of us.

“Ah”, say the critics “what you need to do is get involved. Show that you are committed to the project and the debate will start to go your way.” Don’t they always. But that is precisely what Britain has been trying to do for over 30 years. In the late 1980s it was just possible to believe that the Single Market was the answer to our prayers; proof positive that our free-trading instincts were being listened to. But very soon we realised – largely through the magnificent Daily Telegraph columns of Christopher Booker - that far from being a boost to trade the Single Market was being used as a club with which to batter and subdue enterprise, especially the smaller and more traditional varieties.

After 30 years of trying and failing to get the EU to move in our direction surely the time has come to say enough is enough, the trial period is over, the experiment has failed?

“OK,” say the critics “well, what about the peace and prosperity? Aha, got you there!” The argument being that the EU alone is responsible for the peace and prosperity we have enjoyed over the last 40 years. To which one might reply, how come Switzerland and Norway haven’t been ravaged by war and poverty over recent years? The truth is, of course, that we had peace in Western Europe because we had, in the Soviet Union, a common enemy and because both sides had nukes, effectively making nuclear war unacceptable. Modern-day British prosperity is down to the Thatcher Revolution and not the EU. Yes, yes, yes, I know these are assertions and I can’t prove them (or at least I am unwilling to do so here and now) but then again so is the one about the EU being entirely responsible for peace and prosperity.

Tony Blair may, today, have succeeded in knocking down a straw man but I do not feel that he has laid a glove on me.

Where have all the weapons gone?
Patrick Crozier

Richard Littlejohn thinks he has the answer:

Maybe they’re in Syria now. Or Iran. Given Chirac’s links with Saddam, we could do worse than search another country the size of France.

France.

From the Sun.

May 27, 2003

Fisking Polly Toynbee – Part Four
Patrick Crozier
The NHS is the most efficient health system in the world: now it is well financed, it can be the best.
I am going to assume for the sake of argument that there are some studies out there which have compared some standard procedures across the Western world and come to the conclusion that the British ones are the cheapest.

But that's a long way away from saying they're any good. It could quite easily be the case that other countries provide operations of higher quality. Ones where, for instance, there's no 2-year waiting list or no MRSA super bug or where nursing staff are pleasant to you and the wards are nice places to be. If money is to be spent then I would suggest much of it would have to go on these areas which, of themselves, would not actually increase the number of operations performed.

There is also the issue of scalability - the ease at which you increase the size of something. Doctors, nurses, hospitals and operating theatres do not grow on trees. It takes many years for them to appear. The Splurge might look good over the next two years but it won't be long before the next recession kills it stone dead. And then where will we be?

This is also something odd going on here. Miss Toynbee claims that the NHS is "efficient" implying that that is a good thing. So, how did it get to be good? I can't imagine that it has become massively more efficient over the last 6 years of Labour Government - after all, it doesn't seem to have changed much in any other respect - so the conclusion must be that it must be the old Conservative Government that must take the credit. Miss Toynbee, do be careful.

Quote of the day
Patrick Crozier

From Au Currant:

...Islamic terrorism has been like a Rorschach blot of the Left

May 25, 2003

Blogging: the race is on
Patrick Crozier

Two bits of news today (or at least news to me today) suggest that there's going to be a hell of a battle between rival blog management systems.

First up is Movable Type who are introducing a new system called TypePad. This will be a sort of Movable Type Lite with the additional features of a template design facility and inclusive hosting. The idea is to appeal to the casual ie not very technical blogger and bearing in mind that the lack of templates and fact you have to find your own host are the very things that put people off switching to Movable Type it would appear that they could be on to something.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, Blogger is hitting back with Dano, the Blogger that works ie a Blogger where the archives don't do a runner every five minutes. I assume that they will lick their archives problem which should prevent a haemorraging of customers but that still leaves the problem of lack of flexibility which the introduction of no more than about five new tags will do little to alleviate.

So, to sum up, MT are going to compete on Blogger's ground of being easy to use and Blogger are going to compete on MT's ground of actually working. Things are about to get very interesting in the Blogosphere.

May 24, 2003

The Colonel Collins saga
Patrick Crozier
"Word has gone round that the [American] major was heard to say: 'You do your job and I will do mine.'

"Majors do not speak to colonels like that. The colonel apparently blew his top and stormed: 'Do you realise who you are talking to? This is Col Tim Collins of the Royal Irish Regiment. Stand to attention when I'm talking to you.'

"The major stood up in a sloppy, disrespectful manner while saying 'Yeah, fine' instead of snapping to attention.

"At that point, Col Collins got angry and ordered a sergeant major to arrest him for insubordination."

LOL. From the Telegraph.

Glasgow giants deserve more than playing in two-team league
Patrick Crozier

Paul Hayward in the Telegraph. Isn't it interesting that as British political institutions are splitting apart it's footballing institutions are coming closer together. Now, why would that be?

Thought for the day
Patrick Crozier

There are three things a political organisation needs to do:

  • convert people
  • keep them converted
  • and give them something to do.

May 23, 2003

Heh, heh, heh
Patrick Crozier
And every time I reach for a Guinness I remember that the Irish were neutral in WW2.
From Lileks.
Thought for the day
Patrick Crozier

Victory goes to the organised.

May 18, 2003

First World War.Com
Patrick Crozier

Is here. I really can't recommend this site highly enough. It is probably the best source of information on the First World War anywhere.

Cuba was a rich country...
Patrick Crozier

...before Castro. I did not know that. From Common Sense and Wonder.

Fisking Polly Toynbee – Part Three
Patrick Crozier
Spell out what good the state does and how much more it can do.
What does she mean here? Notice, I am having to ask this with just about every line she writes. Is it because she is vague or I am being over-precise? Dunno. Anyway, I will continue on in this vein because that's the kind of guy I am.

She could mean that because the state, say, provides some schools which provide some education to some children it is therefore a good thing. But if she were saying this it would be terribly disingenuous. The real measure is how the state compares with the alternatives.

And then we get into a real problem. Because how do you make that comparison? Which is better, that ten children are educated to level 9 or that one child is educated to level 100 and the others not at all? Which is better quality or equality? This is assuming that you could ever come up with a linear scale of education - surely and impossibility.

And even then there is the whole question of whether education itself is so much better than its alternatives. Personally, I rather think that a vast number of 14-year olds would be far better off (and not just financially) by leaving school and entering the world of work.

I suppose what I am arguing is that you (and by extension government) simply cannot know what "good" is, let alone deliver it.

How to blog
Patrick Crozier

I'd forgotten this rule:

One burst of concentration: one blog posting
Don't try to write great long screeds - unless you are used to it. Get the thought down and fire away.

May 13, 2003

Fisking Polly Toynbee – Part Two
Patrick Crozier
Stop trying to do good by stealth,
Well, that presupposes that governments can do good. I would say the evidence for that is pretty shaky at least. After all, if governments can do good that would tend to imply that the more they do the better things get. I would say the evidence of the Soviet Union compared to the United States would indicate the opposite.

But I guess I see her meaning here. She would like Blair to stop pretending that he's all in favour of low taxes while on the sly stuffing state services with gold and, instead, say it as it is. And I have to say, on this at least, I agree with her. There is nothing constructive in ambiguity.

...stop running against public services
Oh Geez. What can this mean? You cannot argue that Tony Blair is against the NHS and state education. Remember "24 hours to save the NHS" and "Education, education, education."? For Heaven's sake.