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Tom
London, England
An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about threats to liberty in Britain
Interests: liberty, travel, photography, writing
Recent Activity
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I had a brilliant run through Spain to my overnight rest in France yesterday. Speranza performed magnificently. I resisted the temptation to race the Audi drivers provoked by her in Spain and the BMW drivers provoked by her in France. Instead I enjoyed the passing scenery, including first glimpses of... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at THE LAST DITCH
If you are serious about wanting that picture on your wall click the email link in the sidebar and I will be happy to give you a link where you can download the full (enormous) file for printing. I love my commenters – they give a point to blogging – so let's call this a reader special offer.
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Spanish wine at THE LAST DITCH
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Thank you kind sir. I have devoted lots of time to my photography since I gave up practising law and I strive for professional competence but without complicating my tax return with fees. My "client" was pleased with the results of my first commercial shoot so the pressure is off now and I can relax and have even more fun. The drive today was wonderful. Thanks for the tourist tip but sadly I am already in France. Spain has fantastic motorways!
Toggle Commented 2 days ago on Spanish wine at THE LAST DITCH
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This is not retirement! I am not old enough to retire. I am available to do reasonable amounts of work at sensible levels of pay providing that it's not all too tedious. ;-)
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on Homage to Catalonia at THE LAST DITCH
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I am booked to stay in Carcassonne on my way back to port. I have arranged to meet some friends there for dinner. I have heard it's beautiful and hope to make some time for a shoot there.
Toggle Commented 3 days ago on Homage to Catalonia at THE LAST DITCH
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I am in La Priorat because an old friend invited me. We first met when he arrived in Poland from Canada in 1999. I was his first professional contact there. He has been following my photographic progress on Facebook and kindly thought of me when one of his businesses –... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at THE LAST DITCH
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I rose early in Zaragoza to rendezvous with my host in Catalonia at noon. Things didn't go well. My splendid modern hotel was in the part of town developed for Expo 2008 and none of the roads were in Speranza's database. Her satellite navigation system is a banal piece of... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at THE LAST DITCH
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After one smooth crossing I can recommend the Portsmouth to Santander ferry as an easy, relaxing way from the productive North to the relaxed South of Europe. Given the number of coach tripping pensioners on board the voyage even made me feel young again by comparison. Whether I would be... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at THE LAST DITCH
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Today Speranza and I sail to Santander in Northern Spain to embark upon a mostly recreational road trip. Political blogging is suspended until I return on October 4th and The Last Ditch will – subject to the constraints of internet access on the road – once more become a travel... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at THE LAST DITCH
Ok. You had me confused. Planning blight is a term of art and that's just incompetence and backscratching you're talking about. Even then I bet the landowners and builders you mention think harder about their budgets than Totnes Council. Apologies for teasing re Guardian!
Toggle Commented Sep 19, 2016 on Local politics is a dirty business at THE LAST DITCH
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True! Always fun to open those. ;-) Having acted for developers it never seemed like that to me. I am surprised to see you write of poor little public authorities vs big bad businessmen. Are you channeling the BBC / Guardianisti today? Thats just not how the world is and it's a mistake to fall for their agitprop in their constant quest for more power to push us around. Developers are always anti-capitalists' bogeymen but in truth have the same healthy incentives as other business people to maximise both the value of their assets and the return on the capital they deploy (rarely their own but trust me their lenders and investors are exercising oversight to stop the heart of a public servant!) The biggest example of true planning blight in the UK at present is not caused by any private development but by government indecision over the expansion of London's aviation facilities. Apart from choking off international trade in services it's leaving hundred of thousands of Londoners uncertain of their futures and blighting the value of typically their largest asset. It's a particular problem in a city where housing is so expensive that ordinary folk unwillingly have a combined shelter and pension fund. Trust me, all private forces involved would have built the damned runways by now and everyone would know where they stood, for better or worse. Planning blight is where there is uncertainty about what permission will be granted or when an existing permission will be implemented. Developers are always working to get land into its "highest and best" use and blight mostly occurs when authorities pander to uncommercial busybodies resisting that. Prevent your local pub from being turned into apartments or an opencast pit being opened on nearby farmland and you're just prolonging the blight because all land must become whatever makes it worth the most eventually. Unless you want to club together and buy it to keep it uneconomic! A rapid way to destroy your wealth but feel free. I wouldn't riot yet. I have a feeling we have overestimated the ruling élite. It may be as vulnerable as the Labour Party has proved to be. It would take very few intelligent, articulate and determined sorts to depose it. The problem then would be dealing with the elevated expectations of an electorate raised by self-seeking politicians and cultural Marxist teachers and journalists to believe saintly public servants are the cure to all ills.
Toggle Commented Sep 19, 2016 on Local politics is a dirty business at THE LAST DITCH
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There is a problem with "first past the post" electoral systems like the UK's. Population changes and movements between constituencies can make election results unfair at the national level. At present, constituencies with populations varying from 108,804 to 21,789 get to choose one MP each. Some of us are therefore... Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2016 at THE LAST DITCH
State ownership is a socialist policy. State control is a fascist one. It’s a fascist party, but then in that sense so are both of our main parties; the Labour Party overtly so. It would argue with the nomenclature no doubt but its policies and conduct suggest that “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state” is a reasonable summary of its ideology. Precisely what aspect of our lives would it accept as being outside the state’s area of interest and action? I can’t think of one. Our choice of football club to support, perhaps? Not that the Conservatives are much better, but they do have a classical liberal tendency (represented by the likes of Daniel Hannan) which has been weak for generations because of the corrupting effect of the statist, bureaucratic provider of jobs for the boys and girls known as the EU. Once Brexit is behind us and the Conservatives unite the Hannanites may come back into prominence. Certainly the party’s ideological divisions will become more important because the Labour Party looks like being hors de combat for a generation at least. Right wing vs Left wing is not a useful shorthand now, if it ever was. Statist vs Libertarian is a more useful axis to track. Not least in a more international world because Left and Right often have a country specific meaning. In Continental Europe most “right wing” parties are some variant of “Christian Democrat”. In Catholic countries, the Church has a big influence. In Poland, where I lived for 11 years, I would be a left-winger because “right wing” means Catholic Nationalist and social conservative. I have neither sympathy with nor interest in either of those tendencies. Not giving a damn about peoples’ personal choices in their private lives there is hugely radical and would make Polish “Conservatives” despise me. I was once half-jokingly asked to be spin doctor for the Presidential campaign of a Polish right winger and gave just one piece of advice - “Fire me”. When asked why I pointed out their voters would despise me as a foreign non-catholic and my appointment would damage the campaign. That was the end of my brief Polish political career - begun and ended during one course of a jovial lunch. In America, most Republicans are also tied up in social conservatism. I don’t think who “marries” whom is any business of the local or federal state, for example. Nothing could be more private than a marriage contract and I would be perfectly happy for there to be no legal definition of marriage at all; leaving it entirely to individuals and any private organisations (such as churches) they chose to involve. Consider how despised Tom Paine (the original and best) was when he died, though arguably the most influential of the Founding Fathers. He died in ignominy and disgrace because he was merely suspected to be an atheist (he wasn’t, he was a Deist). I am openly an atheist and there will be many women Presidents, Presidents from every ethnic group and even a Muslim President before Americans will elect one of those! Since Reagan (an historical outlier in many ways, just as Thatcher was in Britain) both mainstream parties in America have been in favour of a big state with a wide sphere of action - as politicians naturally are, given that it increases their job opportunities and earning potential. When you vote there, you are simply choosing on which kind of projects your money will be wasted. In the NASA golden years, I might well have chosen to vote Democrat and waste my tax money on space exploration as NOT wasting my money was not an option and I am a science fiction fan. Trump vs Clinton offers no choice for Americans who want respect for the best-written constitution in the world and/or who don’t want to police the planet. Both of them will spend more on the already bloated military and keep Oceana at war with Eastasia. Clinton would be more corrupt and stoke internal divisions with her cultural Marxism. She would probably make US cities more dangerous, while doing more to disarm the people she put in jeopardy. Trump however would potentially destabilise the world. What a choice. People vote on domestic issues primarily, so I will be betting on Trump but that bet will be my only interest in the outcome. If I were an American, I would vote Gary Johnson without hope of his success. Who knows, most voters in mature democracies with two party systems vote to stop the more dangerous of the two. Since both Clinton and Trump are equally dangerous, there seems to be no plausible defensive strategy so one might as well vote ones conscience! Perhaps Johnson will surprise us.
Toggle Commented Sep 16, 2016 on Of luck, choice and deplorables at THE LAST DITCH
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The respect is mutual and I hope you're right about Le Pen. Please forgive me my doubts, but allow them.
Toggle Commented Sep 14, 2016 on Of luck, choice and deplorables at THE LAST DITCH
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Being loathed by the élites is necessary but not sufficient. Some loathees (Lenin, LePen and the jury is still out on Trump) are just posturing to become élite.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2016 on Of luck, choice and deplorables at THE LAST DITCH
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It is a very superficial comparison. UKIP is a democratic party with broadly small state, free market policies (with some eccentric exceptions). Front National was formed as a fascist, anti-Semitic party with consistent big state goals. The current leader has cleaned up its anti-Semitic image to take it mainstream but has had to expel her father, the founder, because he and his supporters in the party resisted even her modest makeover. It's still a fascist party in terms of seeking a big state directing the economy and has explicitly anti free market economic policies. UKIP was never that and has no such tendencies, despite the leftist media's attempt to tar it with that brush. Your bracketing of the two parties (as Le Pen herself has tried to do) is unkind to UKIP to say the least.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2016 on Of luck, choice and deplorables at THE LAST DITCH
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Quite so. That's why Dr King was right to focus on the content of a man's character not the colour of his skin (or any other random attribute). He would certainly have rejected the "check your privilege" nonsense and, given his undoubted courage, have been puzzled by triggered snowflakes in search of "safe spaces"
Toggle Commented Sep 12, 2016 on Of luck, choice and deplorables at THE LAST DITCH
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I would not compare Front National with UKIP at all. I am surprised you wish to do so.
Toggle Commented Sep 12, 2016 on Of luck, choice and deplorables at THE LAST DITCH
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You can't help what family, race, sex, sexual orientation or religion you are born into and brought up in. So it is pretty damn ridiculous to judge you for it. That's as far as I go with the "identity politics" schtick. Hating a posh person for his parents' wealth or... Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2016 at THE LAST DITCH
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None of which justifies changing the rules in retrospect in order to tax an arrangement entered into by the company in good faith. The Rule of Law is more important than any schadenfreude you may feel for a company you dislike that is in trouble. First they came for Apple...
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23rd June made me even more of an optimist too, but let's not get carried away with ourselves. Something is certainly stirring in the social democrat smugocracies of the West. The triangulated voters of left and right are thwarting the parasitical élites and their armies of rent-seekers in various entertaining ways but there is no ideology and no leadership has emerged. Some dangerous demagogues could yet turn it to bad ends. I have hope it will turn out well but there are many things that could yet go wrong.
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Apple faces €1bn bill for Irish tax loophole Apple has conducted itself in Ireland in full compliance with Irish tax law. The so-called "loophole" (aka lawful structuring) was not something devious used deceptively but was well known to — and accepted by — the Irish tax authorities. The Irish government... Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2016 at THE LAST DITCH
I am glad I asked! I am also glad I got out of the game before bantering, flirting and wooing became such a minefield. It's not an easy time to be a young man in the West, but those in the first furlong will find a way just as we did. There are powerful drives in play in this respect and most humans are more kindly and practical than fanatical. It's an index of the pressures they face however that — opinionated and "difficult" though some have called me — I hesitated to press "publish" on this one. The new orthodoxies are in danger of becoming as hateful and repressive as the old ones. Just observing to a young female of my acquaintance that if the Patriarchy existed I would certainly have been invited to the meetings got me a spurning a Victorian prude would have been proud of! As to the name of your blog, my late wife's father was a man of the turf. His way of saying he was getting old was that he would soon "be crossing the Melling Road for the last time". I thought you might appreciate that reference. PS. Judging by your spelling of "maneuver" you might need this link to appreciate the reference. Sorry. http://www.grandnational.org.uk/fences.php
Toggle Commented Aug 24, 2016 on What went wrong with feminism? at THE LAST DITCH
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I think you can only do that with other WordPress blogs. Feel free to link and quote. More importantly, please feel free to comment and let me know what you think! I am on dangerous ground and need guidance.
Toggle Commented Aug 24, 2016 on What went wrong with feminism? at THE LAST DITCH
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Woman and men are in this life together and bound by the most powerful of bonds. By which I don't mean sex. Sexual partners (and not just heterosexual ones) often move seamlessly from love through hate to damnable indifference. But that rarely happens to the love of mothers and sons,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2016 at THE LAST DITCH