Archive for the ‘International Politics’ Category

UK Seat Forecast

May 7th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The seat forecast site I use the most is May 2015. They have their own forecast and also list five other ones.

Here’s what their final pre-election forecast is:

  • Conservatives 273 (33.6%)
  • Labour 268 (33.3%)
  • SNP 56 (4.4%)
  • Lib Dems 28 (8.8%)
  • DUP 8
  • Sinn Fein 5
  • SDLP 3
  • Plaid Cymru 3
  • UKIP 2 (13.4%)
  • Greens 1 (4.8%)
  • George Galloway 1

Of the 650 seats, you need 326 to govern. But Sinn Fein tend not to vote or turn up so of 645 votes in play you need 323.

If we look at rough blocs you have:

Right – Conservatives 273 + DUP 8 + UKIP 2 = 283

Left – Labour 268 + SNP 56 + SDLP 3 + Plaid Cymru 3 + Greens 1 + Galloway 1 = 332

Centre – Lib Dems 28

Labour is definitely in a preferred position. Even if the Conservatives get Lib Dems support they are 311 – 12 seats short. They need to beat the poll predictions by 12 seats.

Labour can’t govern without SNP support. Without them they are 276 and even f Lib Dems support are 304.

The SNP has said they will not vote confidence in a Conservative government. Labour have said they will not do any deal with SNP, either coalition or confidence and supply. So SNP has to back a Labour Govt even if no policy deal, or force another election.

It is interesting to consider what the result would be if the UK had proportional representation. Based on the polls, a proportional Parliament (excluding 18 Irish seats) would be:

  • Conservatives 212 (vs 273)
  • Labour 210 (vs 268)
  • UKIP 85 (vs 2)
  • SDP 56 (vs 29)
  • Greens 30 (vs 1)
  • SNP 27 (vs 56)
  • Others 11

So a proportional system would see UKIP gain the most, followed by Greens and SDP. The losers would be the SNP, Conservatives and Labour.

However a Conservative government would be more likely, as the blocs would be:

Right – Conservatives 212 + UKIP 85 = 297

Left – Labour 210 + SNP 27 + Greens 30 = 267

Centre – Lib Dems 56

 

It will be interesting to see the results tomorrow. I’ll be at the UK High Commission and will do a bit of blogging and tweeting during the day. As it is FPP, you should take the projections with caution. There are rarely national swings, and while there has been a lot of electorate polling, some of this is now quite dated. Also turnout motivation may be higher on the right – to stop the SNP having the balance of power.

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Nobody knows why Cameron wants to be PM

May 6th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting critique by Peter Saunders of the CIS:

This UK election campaign has been the most tepid and uninspiring I can remember.  Everyone seems bored. 

Support for Labour and Conservatives has hardly flickered (both stuck around 33%).  Barring some last minute seismic shift, Britain is heading for another hung Parliament, this time with the socialists of the Scottish National Party holding the balance of power.  They will back Labour.

The Tories have run an ineffective campaign.  They’ve targeted Miliband, but the Labour leader performed well in TV debates and his ratings are up (from minus 52% to minus 18%!).  Voters say the Tories have been too negative.

With the economy apparently strengthening, the Conservatives should have had a positive story to tell.  Growth is the strongest in Europe.  Two million new private sector jobs have been created (more than in the rest of the EU put together).  Real wages are recovering.  The deficit has halved (though debt is still huge).  This should be enough to win an election.

The Tory campaign has been based on no one wanted Miliband as PM. But Miliband has performed okay in the campaign. I agree that they should have been campaigning on the economy more.

The Conservatives seem ashamed of their successes.  Four hundred free schools have been founded, 4,000 schools have become self-governing academies freed from local council control, and education standards at last are rising.  But none of this gets mentioned (Cameron sacked his Education Minister to appease the teacher unions).

Always a mistake, appeasement.

Week after week, the focus is on the NHS (Labour’s strong suit) and immigration (where the Tories are outflanked by UKIP).  Voters have been left wondering: What do the Conservatives stand for? 

In a telling blunder, Cameron this week forgot the name of the football team he claims to support.  It was symptomatic of his lack of belief in anything.  He wants to be Prime Minister.  But nobody knows why.

They may get the largest number of seats, but with the SNP likely to win almost every seat in Scotland, this puts Labour in the stronger position. However a UK Government propped by a party that wants to dissolve the UK is unlikely to be stable or popular!

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April 2015 public polls

May 5th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

apr15polls

The parties are very close to where they were three years ago with Labour and Greens down slightly and NZ First up.

The executive summary of the newsletter is:

There were three political voting polls in April – a Roy Morgan, a One News Colmar Brunton and a NZ Herald DigiPoll.

 The average of the public polls has National 19% ahead of Labour in April, up 3% from March. The current seat projection is centre-right 61 seats, centre-left 50 which would see a National-led Government.

In the United States Obama’s approval rating for foreign policy increases on the back of the draft Iran deal.  The country direction remains strongly negative. Jeb Bush remains just ahead of Scott Walker in support for the Republican nomination.

In the UK the Conservatives look likely to win more seats than Labour on 7 May but Labour appears to be in a better position to form Government as the SNP are on track to win almost every seat in Scotland, and have said they will not allow the Conservatives to govern.

In Australia the Coalition regain a bit of support, but still trail Labor. Abbott’s approval ratings have improved significantly but remain negative – as do Bill Shorten’s.

In Canada the Conservatives are better placed than a year ago to retain power, as they enter the final six months before the October 19 election.

The normal three tables are provided comparing the country direction sentiment, head of government approval and opposition leader approval sentiment for the five countries.

We also carry details of polls in New Zealand on Ports of Auckland, the NZ Flag, the surplus, Iraq and euthanasia plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please e-mail newsletter@curia.co.nz with your name, organization (if applicable) and e-mail address or go to this page to subscribe yourself.

 

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Australian deficit projected to hit $45 billion

May 4th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Adelaide Now reports:

AUSTRALIA is facing deficits “as far as the eye can see’’ and next week’s Federal Budget is likely to be $41 billion in the red, respected economic forecasters have predicted.

The 2015-16 budget is likely to include a $41.3 billion deficit — a $14 billion deterioration since the December update, according to a report by Deloitte Access Economics to be released on Monday. The underlying cash deficit would be $45.3 billion.

And because of the Senate, the Government can’t get through policy changes to reduce the deficit. It may be a very long time until Australia gets back into surplus.

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How many Labour MPs have staff on zero hour contracts?

May 4th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Another case in point – zero-hours contracts. Ed Miliband has somehow been allowed to get away with turning zero-hours contracts into an issue in this election campaign, even though the government of which he was a part did nothing about them for 13 years. Not only that, but 68 Labour MPs have employed staff on zero-hours contracts in the past two years, including Miliband’s Parliamentary Private Secretary. Could his hypocrisy be any more blatant?

That’s got me thinking. Many political parties and MPs have staff on casual contracts with no set or guaranteed hours. A smart journalist would ask the MPs campaigning against zero hour contracts, how many staff do they have on a zero hour contract?

It’s like the 90 day trial periods. Labour and Green MPs campaigned against all other employers being able to dismiss staff during a 90 day probation period. Yet they have their parliamentary staff on a permanent probation period where they can be dismissed at any time, without cause, if the MP just loses confidence in them. I doubt the hypocrisy on that issue is isolated.

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Let Greece default

May 1st, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Like a spoilt child and an angry parent locked in an experiment of tough love, Greece and its creditors are embroiled once more in a tug-of-war whose stakes are the future of the debt-ridden country and maybe the euro itself.

By May 9, Greece’s hard-left Government has declared, a deal will emerge to unlock €7.2 billion ($10.22 billion) in fresh credit and keep the economy afloat.

Without it, Greece will default and may even exit the eurozone, triggering the greatest challenge to Europe’s single currency in its 13-year history.

It’s near inevitable. Greece seems to think the rest of Europe should pay its bills. Let them have their own currency.

Let a bankrupt Greece be held up for the next few decades of what happens when you elect Governments that just increase spending and debt, and then can’t even pay the interest on its debt.

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Fighting electoral fraud in the UK

May 1st, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Lord Ashcroft has announced:

With the General Election exactly a week away, I am delighted to report on a new initiative to tackle electoral fraud.

The “Don’t Stand for Electoral Fraud” project from Crimestoppers, the crime-fighting charity, is perfectly timed. It will see a four-pronged attempt to tackle those who intimidate voters, bribe voters, steal postal votes and vote for someone else.

The move follows a partnership between Crimestoppers, the charity that I founded 27 years ago, and the Electoral Commission, the independent elections watchdog and regulator of party and election finance.

I am delighted that the Electoral Commission has embraced this project and I hope it will mark the beginning of a long and happy association between Crimestoppers and the elections watchdog.

As with all Crimestoppers’ work, we are urging the public to be our “eyes and ears” and to report any evidence or suspicions that they may have of criminal activity in this field – by using our on-line form or our 0800 555 111 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 0800 555 111end_of_the_skype_highlighting number to highlight their concerns anonymously.

Depending on the nature of the alleged offence or malpractice, it will then be up to the police and/or the relevant Electoral Registration Officer/Returning Officer to pursue further inquiries aimed at preventing the fraud and catching the offenders.

The key message of the new initiative is: “One person, one vote – that’s how democracy works. We each get one ballot and one vote. This is our right and it is our right to vote freely for whoever we want, without anyone doing anything to stop us.”

A very worthy electorate. It is wrong to pressure someone to vote a particular way. It is also wrong to pressure someone entitled to vote, not to vote. Likewise it is wrong to vote more than once, as that is effectively stealing a vote from someone else.

You might think there is no problem to be solved but:

Early last year a report entitled “Electoral fraud in the UK”, presented by Jenny Watson, chair of the Electoral Commission, concluded simply: “Electoral fraud is a serious issue.”

As recently as last week, a London mayor who “cynically perverted” the religious feeling of his Muslim community and “silenced his critics with accusations of racism and Islamophobia” was removed from office after a bitter legal battle.

The disgraced Lutfur Rahman repeatedly played the “race card” in his bid to seize the mayoralty of Tower Hamlets and later cling to power, Richard Mawrey, the Election Commissioner, ruled.

It was ordered that last year’s mayoral election, which was riddled with corruption, be run again and Rahman – who was re-elected to the position after forming his own party, Tower Hamlets First – was barred from standing.

The BBC reports:

The Election Commissioner upheld a number of the allegations, including:

  • Voting fraud: ballots were double-cast or cast from false addresses

  • False statements made against Mr Rahman’s rival Mr Biggs

  • Bribery: large amounts of money were given to organisations who were “totally ineligible or who failed to meet the threshold for eligibility”

  • Treating: providing free food and drink to encourage people to vote for Mr Rahman

  • Spiritual influence: voters were told that it was their duty as Muslims to vote for Mr Rahman. Mr Mawrey cited a letter signed by 101 Imams in Bengali stating it was people’s “religious duty” to vote.

So double voting, bribery and treating.

You’d think this would see him condemned universally, the UK’s largest trade union is backing him fully!!

The Guardian reports:

The leader of Britain’s biggest trade union has expressed his support for the former mayor of Tower Hamlets, who was removed from office after being found guilty of electoral fraud.

Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, Labour’s biggest donor, gave his backing on Thursday to Lutfur Rahman, who was dismissed following a court ruling last week. …

Andrew Murray, the union’s chief of staff, told the rally in Stepney Green, east London: “I am not speaking in a personal capacity, I am speaking on behalf of the union … and I am sending a message of support from our general secretary, Len McCluskey. Unite is proud to associate ourselves with Lutfur Rahman.”

He called the judgment “an undemocratic assault on the people of Tower Hamlets” which was both “racist” and “Islamaphobic”.

Exposing electoral fraud is racist and Islamaphobic!

And this is not some mad loner, but the official view of the UK’s largest union.

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Tories pledge a no extra taxes law

May 1st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Guardian reports:

David Cameron will pledge to introduce a new law within the first 100 days of a Conservative government to prevent any rises in income tax, VAT or national insurance in the next parliament.

In an attempt to step up the pressure on Labour leader Ed Miliband on tax, the prime minister will say the new law will help voters to choose between the Tories, who say they have cut income tax for 26m people, and Labour, which, he claims, taxed people “to the hilt”.

A five-year “tax lock”, to be included in new legislation, would guarantee no increases in income tax rates; no increases in VAT, nor an extension of its scope; and no increase in national insurance, nor an increase in its ceiling above the higher rate threshold.

I like this.

We should do this here – pass a law that guarantees no increase is tax rates, GST or ACC levies for five years. That would force Labour, Greens and NZ First to vote for or against it. Yes a future Government could repeal it, but considering NZ should be in surplus, it would be politically more difficult for them to do so.

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Free speech is not free of consequences

April 30th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

DESCRIBING the sacking of SBS sports journalist Scott McIntyre over offensive tweets about ANZAC Day as an attack on free speech is “absurd”, Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner has argued.

On Saturday evening, the high-profile SBS soccer reporter tweeted a number of “highly inappropriate and disrespectful comments” about the ANZACs and Australia’s involvement in numerous wars.

“Remembering the summary execution, widespread rape and theft committed by these ‘brave’ Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan,” Mr McIntyre tweeted to his 30,000 followers.

He described Australians celebrating ANZAC Day as “poorly-read, largely white, nationalist drinkers and gamblers”, and accused Australia and its allies of the “largest single-day terrorist attacks in history” in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So the Axis powers were the victims in WWII and the ANZACs were rapists in his world view.

Since then, many journalists have come out in support of Mr McIntyre, and a Change.org petition calling on SBS to reinstate him and issue an apology has gained more than 1500 signatures.

Writing in The Australian newspaper today, Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson said Mr McIntyre had not been censored as his tweets did not break any law.

“Decrying McIntyre’s dismissal as a free speech violation and censorship is absurd,” he wrote. “McIntyre was free to tweet his bile before he worked for SBS, while he worked for SBS and now that he no longer works for SBS.

“SBS simply decided it didn’t want to be associated with him. No one is guaranteed a job. Employers are not compelled to put up with behaviour that harms their public reputation.”

Exactly.

Accountability is essential to ensure free speech is exercised with respect for others, he said, adding that the issue is not free speech but “how an increasingly hysterical culture led by social media is resulting in people losing their jobs”.

“McIntyre is not alone. Had he tweeted content interpreted as homophobic, racist or sexist, some would be calling on SBS to sack him, not tweeting ‘free speech’,” Mr Wilson wrote.

They very same people I suspect.

“Perhaps McIntyre’s sacking will be a lesson that always calling for retribution against opinions you disagree with is a double-edged sword that can slay your enemies as well as your friends.”

I doubt the lesson will be learnt. In NZ we see now regular attempts by some on the left to get Hosking and Henry sacked for their views – by trying to induce advertiser boycotts.

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A solution to methane emissions?

April 29th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand scientists have unveiled major leaps toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions from our belching sheep and cattle, with animal-safe compounds that can slash methane emissions by up to 90 per cent.

Curbing the release of methane gas from ruminant livestock, such as sheep and cattle, has been a long-standing headache among farmers and scientists.

The methane emissions amount to almost a third of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, and is the largest contributor compared with other sources. …

At a conference in Palmerston North this morning, the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium announced new research progress from animal trials.

More than 100,000 compounds have been screened, and many thousands tested in laboratory experiments over the past several years.

To date five compounds, selected as the most promising options, had been tested on sheep and resulted in reductions of methane emissions from 30 per cent to more than 90 per cent.

That’s extremely encouraging results.

There are many ways one can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and I much prefer using science to reduce emissions, to shooting one in five cows, as the Greens propose.

Dr Rick Pridmore, the consortium’s chairman and steering group member of the Manawatu-based New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre, said the successful tests of methane inhibitors was news Kiwi farmers could “get excited about”.

“The results are significant for two reasons. First, because they work on livestock consuming a grass-based diet and, second because the short-term trials showed such dramatic results,” he said.

“It must be stressed that these are early days. Further trials are needed to confirm these compounds can reduce emissions in the long term, have no adverse effects on productivity and leave no residues in meat or milk.

“We are already looking to engage with a commercial partner and, all going well, we could possibly see a commercial product within five years.”

Early days but indeed encouraging. If the research holds up, this will have global ramifications.

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A worthy winner

April 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

USA Today reports:

A debate has erupted over the decision by PEN American Center to give its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award to the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

It was at the offices of Charlie Hebdo that an assault by Muslim extremists in January left 12 people dead, including the publication’s top editor and a number of prominent cartoonists.

How could anyone think that it shouldn’t be Charlie Hebdo? 12 people died because they stood up for free speech and satire.

PEN says on its website that for 90 years, its mission has been “to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views and to make it possible for everyone to access the views, ideas and literatures of others.”

Cartoonists gunned down for expressing their views sound like worthy recipients of the award.

Exactly.

Not according to six novelists, who announced they were stepping down as literary hosts of PEN’s gala dinner in New York City on May 5.

Their beef?

“A hideous crime was committed, but was it a freedom of speech issue for PEN America to be self-righteous about?” Peter Carey, one of the protesting writers, said in an email interview with The New York Times. He said, “All this is complicated by PEN’s seeming blindness to the cultural arrogance of the French nation, which does not recognize its moral obligation to a large and disempowered segment of their population.”

This makes me want to vomit. The six novelists basically blame the victims.

Another of the dissenting writers, Rachel Kushner, lambasted Charlie Hebdo for its “cultural intolerance” and its embrace of “a kind of forced secular view.”

A forced secular view? If only? Atheists are not gunning down people who mock secularism. It is the Muslim extremists who believe it is their holy duty to stamp out any non comforming view.

To its credit, PEN is hanging tough. This is a well-deserved award, and the critics are off the mark. Freedom of expression would hardly be a big deal if it were only the freedom to be politically correct, to express opinions that are weak tea, tepid sentiments that everyone can embrace.

Too often only politically correct speech is deemed worthy of defending.

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Bali Nine executions commence

April 29th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I’m sad to see Indonesia execute the ring-leaders of the Bali Nine. I don’t support any state having the death penalty. Apart from the possibility of miscarriages of justice, I think the world is a better place if no state executed people – whether it be for apostasy, drug smuggling, or murder. We should not give to our own governments the power of deciding who is worthy to live or die.

However 36 countries do retain and use the death penalty, including Indonesia. The fact Indonesia has the death penalty for drug smuggling is well known. They have prominent signs up at airports stating this. If you choose to smuggle drugs (especially 8 kgs of heroin) in Indonesia, you are choosing to expose yourself to the risk of capture, conviction and execution.

As I said I’m against the death penalty. But you know what- if you don’t want to be executed, then don’t smuggle drugs in countries that have the death penalty for smuggling drugs.

Hopefully one day all counties will have abolished the death penalty.

Counties that executed more than 10 people in 2013 are:

  1. China – 1,000s
  2. Iran – 369+
  3. Iraq 169+
  4. Saudi Arabia 79+
  5. USA 39
  6. Somalia 34+
  7. Sudan 21+
  8. Yemen 13+
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The Ontario Progressive Conservatives Leadership election

April 28th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I don’t normally focus on provincial politics in Canada, but I’m following with interest the leadership election for the Progressive Conservatives in Ontario, as a mate of mine is a contender.

Unlike in NZ, Canadian parties are not restricted to choosing their leaders from their caucus, and have lengthy election contests where every member can vote. It is not uncommon for a leader to not be an MP when they get elected.

The Leader of the Progressive Conservatives in Ontario resigned in June 2014, after losing the provincial election. They got only 28 seats to 58 for the Liberals and 21 for the NDP. They lost nine seats despite being their third term in opposition.

The election will be on 9 May 2015 – almost 11 months later.

Every member of the party in Ontario gets a vote. The votes are weighted so each of the 107 ridings has equal weight. So signing up 5,000 members in one riding won’t help you much – you need to work on getting votes from the entire province.

The front-runner for the leadership has been Christine Elliott. She has been deputy leader since 2009 and has support of 19 of the 28 provincial MPs.

A total of five candidates went forward. Elliott, Vic Fedeli (shadow finance), Lisa MacLeod (shadow treasury), Monte McNaughton (shadow trade) and Patrick Brown.

Patrick is not a provincial MP, but a federal backbench MP. I’ve known him for over a dozen years, after we went to Sri Lanka together to do democracy training. We’re good mates, despite him nicknaming me Uncle Fester. I happened to be in Canada when their 2006 election was on, so helped him out a bit. He won his federal seat that year, off an incumbent Cabinet Minister.

He won the marginal seats by 1,500 votes in 2006. Then after two years increased it to 15,000 in 2008 and 21,000 in 2011.

Patrick is one of the most impressive retail politicians I’ve seen. He gets involved in every community event there is. He leads and champions fundraisers for local causes. He turns up to almost every meeting and forum. That’s how a seat goes from marginal to getting three times the votes of your opponent.

When I was there in 2006, Patrick was door knocking in -30 degree temperatures and snow every day. Volunteers who were only door knocking once or twice a week were wanting to stop after a couple of hours, but Patrick would always be the one saying let’s do one more block – despite being out every day.

When Patrick first announced his candidacy, he was seen as having no chance. He wasn’t even a provincial MP. He scored barely 5% in the opinion polls.

But Patrick got to work. He and his team started signing up members. Not 500 or 1,000, but around 30,000. He didn’t just sign them up in the areas that normally vote PC. He went to areas often hostile in the past. He worked with ethnic communities, and has been so good at pushing Canadian-Indian links, he’s a personal friend now of the Indian Prime Minister.

He couldn’t get as many endorsements from MPPs as Elliott, but he got endorsements from legendary ice hockey players. Brown organises an annual ice hockey charity event for his local area, and gets many stars along – and even takes part himself.

It’s now two weeks to go, and a poll has him now in the lead. Ahead 54 to 46. No guarantee he will win, but an amazing turn-around. If he wins, polls show they are slightly ahead of the Liberals, so he could become Premier at the next election. But one step at a time.

The lesson here, if Patrick does win, is sheer hard work and endless energy can make a difference.

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UK Labour vows to outlaw Islamophobia

April 28th, 2015 at 12:03 pm by David Farrar

You have radical Islamist clerics in the UK preaching hatred against the UK, the West and support for ISIL and Al Qaeda.  Yet Ed Miliband has decided the speech that needs to be stomped on is so called Islamophobia.

Muslim news reports:

A future Labour Government is committed to outlaw the scourge of Islamophobia by changing the law and making it an aggravated crime, according to the Party’s Leader Ed Miliband.

“We are going to make it an aggravated crime. We are going to make sure it is marked on people’s records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime,” Miliband told the Editor of The Muslim News, Ahmed J Versi in a wide ranging exclusive interview.

And:

Labour Party Manifesto pledged to take a “zero-tolerance approach to hate crime” regarding the growth of Islamophobia as well as anti-Semitism. “We will challenge prejudice before it grows, whether in schools, universities or on social media. And we will strengthen the law on disability, homophobic, and transphobic hate crime,” it said.

God knows what disability hate crime is.

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The great Australian experiment

April 28th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Austarrivals

It is hard to think of a bigger proven disaster, than that of the Australian Labor Party’s boats policy. People will recall how John Howard’s hardline on asylum seekers arriving by boat with hated by the liberal left in Australia. They demanded an end to it, and when Labor won in 2007, they scrapped it.

You can see above what happened. The scrapping of Howard’s policy saw an exponential growth of people trying to arrive by boat. Not a 100% increase or even 1,000% increase but a 10,000% increase. Before they did a u-turn in 2013, the number had grown from around 10 people a month to 4,000.

But that was not the worst impact of Labor’s policy. It was the death toll. Their policy change may have been well intentioned, but it incentivised desperate people to pay thousands of dollars to people smugglers to try and get them into Australia onto unsafe boats. The so called humane policy turned out to be a lethal policy.

Austdrownings

When say two or three civilians die in an overseas war zone, some are quick to say the Government is responsible for their deaths. Well what do you can it when a Government policy led to almost 1,200 human beings being killed. And not a quick death, but probably an awful panic stricken event as their boats sink in the middle of an ocean, and they slowly drown or freeze.

Sometimes correlation is not causation, but in this case it clearly is. Note that since the change of Government, there has not been a single drowning at sea, and the level of asylum seekers arriving by boats has fallen by a massive 99%.

Greg Sheridan in The Australian noted:

While Australia will still be one of the most generous societies in the world to refugees, they will arrive in an orderly and lawful manner and be chosen by Australian authorities.

Australia has the highest refugee quota per capita in the world.

The Abbott government will neither confirm nor deny the numbers, but in the past four weeks some five boats have been turned around or towed back towards Indonesia.

Operational secrecy has been central to the success so far.

Operationally, turning boats back is even more effective than transferring people to Manus or Nauru.

The arrival of people in Manus and Nauru often still triggers final payment for the people-smugglers, who continue to tell their customers that people housed on those islands will eventually get to Australia.

Failed illegal arrivals who return to Indonesia, on the other hand, demand their money back and tell everyone they know that the mission was a flop. Even if the boat is sound and the crew competent, they are met by the Australian navy and kept out of Australia.

And so the people smugglers are out of work, and you don’t get hundreds drowning out at sea.

Meanwhile, Australia continues to have, per capita, the largest permanent refugee resettlement program in the world. But these refugees are not self-selected nor chosen by illegal people-smugglers – they are all genuine refugees, and none of them drowns on the way here.

Exactly.

It is a salient reminder that good intentions are not enough. Bad policy can lead to people dying. Promoting biofuels for example led to mass starvations as third world nations changed their land from food production to biofuels. And taking a soft approach on boat arrivals led to an exponential increase in boats, and hundreds drowning at sea.

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Idiot

April 26th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An Aboriginal sovereignty campaigner says he is frustrated he was “hassled” by customs officers when he tried to enter Australia on an Aboriginal passport.

Callum Clayton-Dixon, who is the chairperson of the Aboriginal Provisional Government, said he was questioned for around 30 minutes on Friday evening when he arrived at the Brisbane International Airport from a trip to New Zealand.

He told ABC Radio he presented his Aboriginal passport but was told this was not a valid travel document.

What an idiot. You present a fake document that you KNOW will not be accepted and you then whine that you were hassled over it.

Clayton-Dixon said he would continue to use the passport on future trips.

Yeah, good luck with that.

I bet you he did not use it entering NZ, as he simply won’t get in.

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How is this man running a school in Australia?

April 23rd, 2015 at 4:27 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

THE State Government will probe shock claims girls at an Islamic high school in Melbourne’s west have been banned from running in case it caused them to lose their virginity.

A former teacher at Truganina’s Al-Taqwa College alleged that principal Omar Hallak stopped girls from running in cross country events in 2013 and 2014, Fairfax Media reported.

It gets worse than that.

Mr Hallak previously drew the ire of Mr Merlino when he reportedly told some students that Islamic State was a Western plot.

He claimed Islamic State was created by Israel and the US.

Bad enough to have such radicals in the wider community, but to have one of them poisoning the minds of school children is terrible. The State Government should stop all funding for his school.

 

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NZ leads anti fossil fuels subsidy coalition

April 21st, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Tim Groser announced:

Climate Change Issues Minister Tim Groser today led a coalition of governments calling for the phase-out of subsidies to fossil fuels in the lead-up to a major climate conference in Paris.
 
New Zealand, along with Costa Rica, Denmark, Ethiopia, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland today endorsed a statement to be delivered to the Paris conference that supports the elimination of inefficient subsidies to fossil fuels on environmental, economic and social grounds. The first countries to endorse the initiative were the United States and France which joined New Zealand in Washington to launch the statement.

This is something most people should agree on. I’m generally against most subsidies, and definitely against fossil fuel subsidies.

So how much of an impact do fossil fuel subsidies have?

“New Zealand is leading efforts to urge countries to reform, as this is the missing piece in the climate change jigsaw. More than one third of global carbon emissions between 1980 and 2010 are estimated to have been driven by subsidies for fossil fuels,” said Mr Groser.

Huge.

Many of the “solutions” for reducing greenhouse gas emissions are very unpalatable. The Greens want to shoot or get rid of one fifth of the national dairy herd, for example. But this is a solution that should have widespread support.

“Transparency is an essential first step, and that’s why New Zealand was one of the first countries to undertake APEC peer review of our policies. The international review panel has already given its preliminary conclusions, confirming it did not identify any inefficient subsidies.  

Good.

The communique notes:

The majority of fossil-fuel subsidies are also socially regressive, with benefits disproportionately skewed toward middle- and upper-middle income households.

Another reason to get rid of them.

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Thank goodness they were rumbled

April 21st, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Security will be stepped up at Anzac Day services around Australia on Saturday after security forces foiled an alleged terror plot to attack police and the public with knives and swords at a commemorative event in Melbourne.

Victorian police yesterday continued to question an 18-year-old male, one of five teenagers arrested in co-ordinated pre-dawn raids by more than 200 heavily armed state and federal officers on homes in southeastern Melbourne early on Saturday.

Sevdet Besim, 18, has already been charged with conspiring to commit Isis-inspired terrorist acts. All five men, aged 18 and 19, were associates of Abdul Numan Haider, the Melbourne teenager shot dead by police last September after he stabbed two officers outside a police station.

Security forces believe they were planning to use “edged weapons” to attack people at a Melbourne Anzac Day event. The acting Victorian Police Commissioner, Tim Cartwight, said multiple knives and swords were seized in the raids, executed across three suburbs at 3.30am.

Hopefully ANZAC Day passes without terrorism and killings.

Worth reflecting that these arrests no doubt happened because Police and/or security agencies were able to intercept their communications.

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The Abbott skull

April 20th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

When Tony Abbott walked into Sydney’s Royal Oak Hotel on Saturday night and downed that beer, he didn’t just put an end to all those jokes about his shandy drinking.

He sculled himself into Australia’s national consciousness.

It took less than ten seconds, but with those gulps, Abbott has joined Bob Hawke who has been impressing Australians with his ability to scull a beer for decades. 

Hawkie famously set a world record for beer drinking at Oxford in the 50s. He has since observed that this more than anything else he did in his long career “was to endear me to some of my fellow Australians”.

The former Australian prime minister is not the only one to use a drink to connect with voters.

Last year Coalition MP Andrew Laming turned up at a constituent’s Australia Day party and sculled a beer upside down while doing a handstand. As a partygoer later posted online: “I seriously hate Liberal [sic], but … he found a loophole to my heart!”

I think that would get my vote also. Upside down is very hard.

Even away from the tricky stunts, we feel reassured when we see politicians with a beer in their hands. It’s what convinces us they’re real people, right? Hence all the concern when Abbott ordered a shandy with (oh my god) light beer on the campaign trail in 2010.

But now, Abbott has achieved the sort of publicity that you can’t plan for or buy.

Maybe Andrew Little should try one!

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How UK voters are moving

April 18th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

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An interesting graphic from the UK.

You can see how Conservatives are losing most of their support to UKIP. A wee bit to Labour.

Labour has lost support to UKIP, Conservatives and Greens.

Lib Dems are bleeding everywhere.

All the polls are still predicting a hung Parliament, with the SNP, Lib Dems and Irish possibly being needed to govern.

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Iran elected to executive board of the UN’s Entity for Empowerment of Women.

April 17th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tim Blair reports:

The UN recently decided that Israel was the number one violator of women’s rights in the world today. And then the UN appointed the Islamic Republic of Iran to the executive board of the UN’s Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

The US pointed out:

“In Iran, women are legally barred from holding some government positions, there are no laws against domestic violence, and adultery is punishable by stoning, making it wholly inappropriate that Iran assume a leadership role on women’s rights and welfare at the U.N,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, in criticizing the decision to make Iran a member of the women’s rights body.

This is why I take very few pronouncements from the UN seriously.

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The Greens’ vision for the UK

April 17th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

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This is from Tim Blair.  I love how they talk about nursery now being “free”, along with social care and school dinners.

Also of interest is that they regard it as a good thing that 90% of kids will now turn up to school without a packed lunch, because the taxpayer is providing free dinners.

Guido Fawkes has also highlighted some of their policies:

  • “a complete ban on cages for hens and rabbits”
  • “end the use of the whip in horse racing and conduct a full review of the sport”
  • “end the practice of grouse shooting”
  • “ensure UK taxpayers’ money is not used for bullfighting”
  • “ban the import of fur products”
  • “ensure that all schools, hospitals and other public buildings have solar panels by 2020″
  • “closure of all coal-fired power stations”
  • “make equality and diversity lessons mandatory in all schools”
  • “progressively introduce anonymised CVs
  • “strengthen Travellers’ rights”
  • “cancelling student debt”
  • “revive the role of trade unions”
  • “phase in a 35 hours week”
  • “work for the abolition of the City of London Corporation”
  • “introduce a wealth tax of 2% on the top 1%”
  • “raise the additional top rate of income tax to 60%”
  • “increase corporation tax from 20% to 30%”
  • “introduce new taxes on the use of water”
  • “ensure that no company owns more than 20% of a media market”
  • “state funding of political parties”
  • “pursue a policy of defensive defence, which threatens no one”
  • “a ban on the production and sale of fois gras”

Why stop at anonymised CVs? How about anonymised job interviews where you sit behind a screen so they can’t work out your age or race, and they use a Darth Vader type voice synthesizer so they can’t work out your gender also?

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Why serious environmentalists should favour fracking

April 16th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Centre for Policy Studies a 15 page report on why every serious environmentalist should favour fracking. Some extracts:

  • Shale gas can not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but also reduce a deadly pollution known as PM2.5 that is currently killing over three million people each year, primarily in the developing world.
  • As both global warming and air pollution can be mitigated by the development and utilisation of shale gas, developed economies should help emerging economies switch from coal to natural gas
  • Shale gas technology should be advanced as rapidly as possible and shared freely.
  • PM2.5 is a horrific environmental problem. The Health Effects Institute estimated that air pollution in 2010 led to 3.2 million deaths that year and the pollution is getting worse as global use of coal continues to grow.
  • China will be producing more CO2 per person than the US by 2023. If the US were to disappear tomorrow, Chinese growth alone would bring worldwide emissions back to the same level in four years.
  • To mitigate global warming, it is essential to slow worldwide emissions, not just those in the developed countries. And we feel this must be done without slowing the economic growth of the emerging world.
  • PM2.5 kills more people per year than AIDS, malaria, diabetes or tuberculosis.
  • Compared to coal, shale gas results in a 400- fold reduction of PM2.5, a 4,000-fold reduction in sulphur dioxide, a 70-fold reduction in nitrous oxides (NOx), and more than a 30-fold reduction in mercury
  • The net result is that CO2 produced per kilowatt-hour of electricity from gas is only one third to one half that of coal

A very compelling case – using fracking to get shale gas, instead of coal, will save hundreds of thousands of lives, and reduce greenhouse gas emission by a half to two thirds.

Yet the Greens are trying to get fracking banned!

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A good quirky ad from the UK Greens

April 16th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A very good ad by the UK Greens, portraying all the other parties as a boy band. Really well done,

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