Friday, January 13, 2006

Brighton Regency Loony

Bloody Devil AwardOh dear. The British Blogosphere's favourite kicking ball is being even more obtuse than normal. For readers not aware, Neil Harding is a Labour supporting blogger in Brighton who has a tendency to disagree with, well, everyone, and thinks, as far as I can tell, that Tired Tony can do no wrong. His current crusade is on behalf of the (dis)Respect Agenda generally and summary confiscation as a specific. He has two posts on the subject, Why Tony is Right and Tony Blair and the respect agenda continued. The comments threads on both posts are impressively long, and, apart from Neil himself, no one has any support for his position. No, don't worry, I'm not posting this to support him. You see, it's so bad I thought I'd give him some more publicity.

I sometimes find in debates that the person that does the most damage to your position isn't the person opposed to it, but the misguided supporter who, well, doesn't quite get it and links everything together as one big overarching theme and assumes everyone opposed is inherently arguing from the same position with the same reasons. So, given the damage such people do to my positions on occasions, well, it's great to find Tony has a few on his side. Few? Sorry, I mean of course Neil. The One (Oh look, a Babylon 5 reference, sorry); to business. Here's a comment he made in his second post, in which he tries to dismiss the criticisms of all the commenters:
I have never said a 100 quid fine was negligible, but it is a low level punishment. There would still be a chance of appeal if someone was deeply aggrieved by it.
Well, yes Neil, it is low level. If you can afford it, and if it's deserved. Only, what if you can't afford it? What if you're having trouble servicing the credit card debts and are a little behind overall. What if you're entirely innocent and have been fined because someone didn't like you or the reasons you gave for something? (that, dear reader, is essentially Neil's position; if you've done nothing wrong, you've nothing to fear, but if you can't prove it, then it's better an innocent be fined than a guilty person go free. Go read if you're not sure you believe the idiocy, I may be summarising badly).

After the fact appeal? I get fined, have to pay up (even if it means not being able to afford to eat until the next payday) and then have to take time off my paid employment to try and claim the money back at my own expense? Great. Thanks.
If you lot are against these measures, you are probably all against parking 'charges' and speeding fines as well.
"You lot"? Neil, my, um, friend (y'see that? I'm trying to be polite, aren't I nice?), in case you hadn't been paying attention, the commenters you've attracted come from all over the political spectrum, left, right, Labour supporting, Conservatives, UKIP, you even have a particularly eloquent South Africa resident. Generalising them all under the same bruch? A bit silly. Especially seing as it's completely ludicrous.

And there's a difference. I mentioned I'm a little skint, right? Parking fines. I forgot to pay a few of them, and the bailiffs are, almost literally, at the door. So I should, by your logic, be completely opposed to them, right? Ah, no. My fault, fair copp, guilty as sin. I agree with and support the idea of parking restrictions. The thing is, they're not sumary, they're not on the spot, they're not pay now, appeal later. If I felt I was innocent, or the fines were unjustified, I could appeal them. well, could have. I didn't, because they were justified.

They're not summary, they're appealable. So, what you have here Neil is a Straw Man; we argue against something, so you've taken it to a conclusion and you assume we therefore argue against all kinds of fines, even those that are legitimate. We don't. Well, I don't anyway. Can't speak for the rest, because, well, I'm not them.

Life isn't black and white Neil. There may be times where you and I may agree on something. Rest assured if that does happen, I will check my position thoroughly. The idea of agreeing with you on anything whatsoever is disquieting currently, but it may happen; indeed, it does, later in this post. Ouch. You can't lump everyone together and assume everyone takes the same position on everything. On this, for example, I agree with Devil's Kitchen, Longrider and Nosemonkey. Rule of thumb? If all three of them, as well as I, agree on something? It's a truth so self evident that only a blinkered idiot disagrees. Take off the blinkers Neil, wake up and smell reality.
This is because you are being selfish. I imagine every comment here as come from middle class people who don't live in areas blighted by anti-social behaviour.
Right. There you go again, assuming. Admittedly, I hadn't commented when you made this, but I know nothing about the others. I, um, live in central Torquay. Nice little tourist town? Yup, if you stick to the tourist bits, but it also has some bits that are fairly high on the social deprivation indexes. Guess what? I live in one of the worst bits, and, even better, it's just off the centre, and a route between some of the more popular drinking establishments. The car park just below my bedroom window has a tendency to attract some, um, interesting types. Never assume Neil, assumption is the mother of all fuck ups.

Now, as it happens, I did have a lower middle class upbringing. I live where I do through choice and financial necessity. But, well, I am fully aware of the effect of social deprivation, I see it every day.
Why is it ok to break speed limits when hundreds of people are killed every year as a result?
Again, assumption. Speeding fines to make people safe are ok. But fines don't, actually, slow people down. Traffic calming measures do that much better. Besides, you're continuing your straw man. Some speeding fines are correct and just (doing over 30 in a street containing a school on a school day deserves more than just a fine, for example), in other cases (75 on a motorway when it's perfectly safe?) the fines are simply coffer filling exercises. But then, even ACPO thinks motorway speed limits are wrong.

Got that Neil? We disagree with your position, with Blair's attempts to take the money of innocents. But we may disagree on speeding fines, or the level they should be set. The issues may, on the surface, be simliar, but the surface similarity, once scratched, is a figment of your imagination. Besides, with a speeding fine, I can appeal. I know this y'see, because I've had one of them as well! Paid it, naturally, I'm inherently an honest person, even if I do think a 30 mile an hour limit on a bypass dual carriageway with poor signposting is stupid.
Why shouldn't people who selfishly park in clogged town centres be subject to parking controls when they make the lives of the rest of us hell?
Neil? They should. Irrelevent to the point. Move along now, do grow up. (help me dear reader, I just agreed with Neil)
And why should principle come before the obvious in low level cases like this?
Principle? The principle here is innocent until proven guilty. I can accept a fine or appeal it. But that's not what you're actually arguing for.

Do keep up and see the difference between summary on the spot fines payable immediately and a choice between a fine to be paid or a not-guilty, take me to court response. They're not the same.
It is just not practical to use an expensive, time consuming legal system in cases as obvious as the 10,000 cash example.

I'm sorry if you are going to carry large sums of money like this late at night, you should have a legitimate reason. It is a small price to pay to ensure that low level crime is effectively controlled.
Well, maybe I should have a reason (I dream of that much cash currently, but there y'go). But, y'see, why should I have to justify to the state why I have the cash?

Maybe I own a business, maybe I'm buying a second hand car at a time convenient to me and the vendor, maybe I've just sold one. Maybe I'm off to see, perfectly legitimately, a high-class prostitute (Neil, in case you're not aware, prostitution remains legal in this country, it's soliciting and brothel keeping that isn't). Maybe I just want to carry cash around. Maybe I don't trust the banks.

Your example is ludicrous, but you've been given, in both comments threads, perfectly legitimate answers. I'm English (and British), and English criminal law assumes innocence and allows me privacy to carry out my business.

Why should I justify to the organs of the state why I'm carrying money? Why should I explain where I got my car from?

Neil, you think that paying a fine, even when innocent, is a minor inconvenience. A low level punishment. But you said that I shouldn't object to being fined, even if innocent, because it's for the greater good.

I object to on the spot summary judgements because I am innocent. Please, explain again, how fining the innocent improves their respect for society? How summary judgement improves social cohesion and support for the police?
It is in all our interests, by letting low level crime go unpunished, we let criminals progress to more dangerous crimes. Which is worse?

Someone give me a reason why someone would need to carry such large sums of money and not be able to give the police a legitimate reason. If you can't, you are just defending the rights of the drug dealers and thieves and what sort of principle is that?
No, we're not supporting the drug dealers and thieves, we're supporting the rights of the individual against a state that is attempting to overreach itself.

I believe in punishing low lever crime, which is why I strongly support Torbay councils recent improvements to traffic policing, for example. But, you see, you've missed a beat.

What you, and Tired Tony are arguing for, isn't punishing low-level crime. It's punishing innocent people before they're found guilty.

Here's a little lesson in constitutional history for you. I'm by no means an expert, but, well, I have studied it extensively. Bill of Rights, 1689, it's one of the founding documents underpinning our legal and constitution system, it's the justification for a Parliamentary Democracy.
# That all grants and promises of fines and forfeitures of particular persons before conviction are illegal and void;
Change this basic principle, you change the basic underpinning that has worked in this country for over 300 years.

Your case, and that of Blair, is both fundamentally flawed and unproven. In addition, as proposed, it undermines the basic precepts upon which this country is established.

I'll be charitable, and assume you just don't know the history of this country. But, as I've observed, assumption is a bad thing. So the alternative is that you do know the history, but either don't understand it or reject it out of hand.

If you do wish to change the basic fundamentals of this country, feel free to say so, so we can have a proper debate. But your constructed straw man has been answered. By more than just me.

Oh, Neil? One last point. I'm quite open about my politics, I quite openly describe myself as a liberal socialist, and in 2001 voted for a current serving member of the NuLab govt when I lived in Exeter. Unlike you, however, I can see that Blair has abandoned all pretense at fulfilling the promises he was elected on, and has, instead, adopted an approach of populist authoritarianism (described by some as 'proto-fascistic'). He supports the power of the state to control the individual. I do not.

Update: This post has been awarded a 'Bloody Devil' for "people who fisk objects of public derision but who also pepper the post with gratuitous but intensely satisfying insults." Apparently it only just made the grade, "there's a distinct lack of swearing"; guilty on that one...


Toque said...

You're too verbose, the guy is clearly a retard, that much is obvious from the title of his posts

" Labour has been good for our civil liberties."

MatGB said...

You're too verbose
Always, that's part of my problem, but, well, he's too easy a target on this one.

OTOH, we did get him to change his mind on ID cards. Eventually.

Paul said...

Good post.

Some of the stuff he writes can be very frightening indeed, though - no doubt about that.

Pete in Dunbar said...

AFAICR he actually still thinks ID cards are a good idea (he never did seem to understand the principles at stake), but he was brought to realise that the planned implementation would be very expensive and wouldn't work.

It's not that he lacks or doesn't understand principles, though. He does seem to have one guiding principle (one indeed that he shares with NuLabour) - expediency. It is strange though that he seems unable to perceive the unpleasant totalitarian tone of his postings on this issue.

'When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.'
Thomas Jefferson

'It is better that a hundred innocent men should be punished, than that one guilty man should go free.'
Neil Harding (I paraphrase, but only a little)

Martin Keegan said...


It is really not worth the effort, unless you have some ulterior motive. In the case of ID cards, I was committed to the proposition that when the Government does not control the terms of the debate, it loses the debate very badly. Neil's support for ID cards was an existence proof that that proposition might be false, therefore it was worth taking him on.

So take him on we did; a group of eight of us (not declared as such) devoted considerable time to ripping his arguments to shreds. It took weeks for him climb down, but as far as we were concerned, we'd barely got started on the arguments. The collusion was not declared, nor did we conscion to let him know that we were leading him to get-outs that the Government had already ruled out (e.g., removing the biometrics of rape victims from the register), but apart from that, it was completely fair and intellectually quite honest.

What was learnt from this is that Neil Harding is not really very good at sustaining an argument, and specifically that he is unwilling to do his opponents the courtesy of anything more than cursory consideration of their points of view or of the evidence presented on either side. I strongly got the impression that he had very little experience of arguing with intelligent people who disagreed with him from outside his political comfort zone, and had never really had to think hard in argument. He didn't get the notion that analogy isn't as strong as deduction, that there's a difference between ends and means, that a good idea in the abstract may have no good implementation in the concrete, that words might have multiple shades of meaning, that - I mean this list goes on and on. In addition to errors of logical reasoning (often the words "of course" or "obviously" would be the only support in favour of a conclusion!), he had many premises and epistemological conclusions that required to be justified, particularly where these sufficed a general sledgehammer for demolishing any argument from the right: the UK isn't "really" democratic. Everyone in the country is suffering from some sort of false consciousness induced by the rightwing tabloid press. Sweden is a "liberal" country (a particular favourite of Neil's). De facto and de jure, far from connoting a useful distinction, actually refer to the same thing, where this might be helpful to the Labour party.
Logic and truth play an inevitably reactionary role in maintaining bourgeois ideological supremacy (Ok, so he didn't pull that one, but that's where he was headed).

I was always scrupulously polite and reasonable in argument, and Neil even complimented me on this. The same cannot be said for Neil once you've got his goat. I repeatedly pointed out that his arguments led to conclusions overjoying to racists, and this drove him nuts. He called me a wanker, and said I ought to be thrown out of the country, rather unkind to someone who had a spot of difficulty leaving his homeland to get into the UK.

His favourite trick is to lose an argument and not give a damn, just repeating the same falsehood in a later post. Maybe he has a very poor memory (being possessed of extremely good memory, I'm a poor judge of other people's competence in that area). Whatever its cause, it makes arguing with him very laborious, but the most frustrating thing is the superficiality of his reasoning. He'll just assume that since a proposition has been called into question in some article he's just read, it must be wrong in all cases (whereas in fact had he read and digested the article, he'd have realised it only applied to the proposition in certain contexts, whereas to support his point it'd have had to have done so universally). The guy Just Does Not Think, or at least, he doesn't think hard, certainly not hard enough to do justice to the intellectual effort (such as it is) that those who give some of their time to debating with him expend. That his views are deeply offensive and misguided and dangerous is really less annoying that this fact. I don't think he does it on purpose, either; it's probable that he's never really had to get outside the comfort zone of chatting to readers of Polly Toynbee and George Monbiot before - he lives in Brighton, after all, which is hardly an environment where one runs into the full range of political opinion to be found in the UK, proportionately represented!

Ultimately, what is at stake is the minds of a small number of reasonable people who are attracted by his views (e.g., the perfectly sensible and charming Harry Metcalfe (whom I had the pleasure of meeting when I was speaking against ID cards in Brighton), or that Antonia lady from Oxford, and some of the commenters on the Harry's Place blog - all appreciate Neil's contributions), but it's just not worth the effort, for the sake of these people, of rebutting someone with Neil's tactics. He makes arguing with him like walking through treacle. Unless you've got some well-defined goal such as keeping the blogosphere ID card supporter -free, or you want to use arguing with Neil as a form of cheap therapy by giving yourself someone to feel intellectually superior to, you should spend your time doing something else. I gave up on him a few weeks ago when he, who had previously come out with the gleichschaltung policy of rigging the electoral system to keep the Tories out, opposed decreasing the unfairness of the electoral system on the grounds that it wouldn't help the Tories enough.

MatGB said...

Honestly? It was cathartic, I've had a pretty shitty week all told, and his comment about us "all" being middle class in middle class neighbourhoods got to me.

you're probably right about him not having debated properly before; one of the reasons I want to blog is to challenge my views and try to express them better; I've been known in debates in the past to change my mind after a decent argument is put forward and I want to know that my opinions aren't groundless stupidity.

Hence linking to, and regularly reading, blogs I disagree with.

But, well, when he contradicts himself or plays obvious partizan (I dislike partizan loyalty, even when a member of a party, I'll critique it openly and disagree openyl) then, well.

It's fun, anyway. I'll return to more weighty (and important) issues when I'm feeling less groggy.

Martin Keegan said...

Ah yes, I'd forgotten about his antipathy for the middle class and his imputation of membership thereof to people he disagreed with. He also a very crude stereotype of what a Tory might be. Most annoying was his presumption (doubtless from my views on civil liberties and their importance, which really doesn't tell you anything about my views on economics, which are generally pretty free-market (which again doesn't tell you much about what I think about welfare programmes)) that I might not know what it's like to be poor, which is deeply offensive to me, as well as being untrue.

I stopped commenting on his blog a few days after that - he'd actively started misrepresenting me on the front page and then came out with an apology which on its face looked insincere. Of course, it wasn't insincere - he just, once again, didn't bother to do me the courtesy of thinking whether combining an apology with a justification detracted from the apparent sincerity with which you're trying to mollify the feelings of the person you've wronged.

I'm glad I'm not religious anymore, otherwise his posts on religion would have had me in tears. Verily doth he condense the cloud of all possible human ignorance into a single raindrop. On religion and philosophy, he comes across as fractally ignorant - no matter what distance scale you're using, the image of complete absence of knowledge is identical. Just as with politics, the view he has of his opponents is a gruesome and shocking travesty.

At what point does someone who has perfectly sensible views on some matters actually turn into an extremist? Neil Harding is deeply religiously intolerant, wants to exclude mainstream political parties from government, remove critical safeguards of individual liberty from the justice system, massively increase police powers, abolish freedom of the press and restrict immigration from non-EU countries. The last one of those is also the policy of the BNP. He even used to support biometric ID cards, with all the racial implications they carry. The style of argument is the most disconcerting, in its disregard for truth, moral equivocation, and repetition of previously disproven assertions.

What I fear is that political power would not temper Neil and those like him. Had his ilk been in power in the 1930s and 1940s, heaven knows what would have happened to humanity on this planet. What is most disgusting is his webpage pointing out the many, many faults of Winston Churchill, with the implication that these equal or outweigh the good the man did. We know he wasn't a perfect human being, and had many offensive views, particularly to the left; my own grandmother claims to have refused to accept some sort of medal from the man. But Churchill it was who decided to put fighting fascism before the preservation of the empire that he adored. What may prove to be the most noble sacrifice in our species' history is dismissed as "selling out the empire" by Harding. Whose side is this man on? Did Harding want the Nazis to win? Was preserving the empire worth that? Why does he always pick the same side as the totalitarians and the racists (and, in this case, the imperialists!)?

Longrider said...

I respond when I feel that it is essential to challenge a point. The Respect thing - particularly the criminalising innocent people - I felt justified a rebuttal. I stayed out of the religious stuff for the sake of my sanity. As a fellow atheist, I felt he did us a massive disservice... but I just couldn't be arsed...

Liz said...

I responded (particularly on the ID cards idiocy) because I was offended, upset and horrified by what he was writing. A lot of his nonsense on the well-educated middle classes and their inability to be real socialists is quite bitingly personal and inappropriate, as are his assertions that none of 'you lot' know what it's like to be poor, to live in deprived areas etc etc. I also found myself really, really distressed that somebody could continue to miss the point quite so vigorously - due process, the balance of powers and the importance of civil liberties aren't really very hard concepts to grasp. Why does Neil find them so slippery?

Martin is probably right; Neil is easy to argue with because he's not really awfully smart, so I argued. It was cathartic - it's quite easy to build these things up in your head so that you're arguing with a symbol of all that is bad and wrong with a certain body of New Labour supporters.

I've been restraining myself recently. This is because when he started the religion thing, I started to believe he's being deliberately obtuse to drive traffic. I assume that the next big argument is going to be about sex - Neil's already inching towards bringing in on-the-spot fines for adulterers.


MatGB said...

Aye, Martin's told me enough that I'm not going to bother with him again, looking at his personal website, well, I despair.

I think I'd hate to ever get him weigh in supporting one of my causes, a bit like I said int he post and Longrider echoed, when he supports something, he does it a disservice.

Ah well.

Neil Harding said...

It's quite ironic really to be accused of being insulting, accused of misrepresenting people's views and accused of not listening to other's points of view.

While at the same time to be called a 'retard', 'stupid', 'incapable of thinking' etc and have my views completely mis-represented. It was also pointed out that I changed my mind over the practicalities of ID cards, which hardly fits the accusation of 'not listening'.

Martin Keegan accuses me of being a racist (something I take deep offence at), he justifies this by claiming I want to restrict non-EU immigration.

At no point have I ever said that, and I don't believe that at all. Who is mis-representing who here?

I have repeatedly said that I think immigration laws should be RELAXED.

I argue vociferously with people like DEVIL'S KITCHEN who villifies muslims in his blog and slags immigrants off.

I point out the enormous benefits immigration has brought to this country. I am an internationalist. I actually don't believe in the nation state. Nationalism is as irrational to me as religion and ideology.

I apologised for being clumsy in my comments to Martin (over ID cards)something I admit I regularly do, because he mis-interpreted what I was saying. I said I would like (jokingly) for all bigots to leave the country (and in a fit of anger at his unjustified comments), included him as a bigot.

As for my comments on Tony's respect agenda. You lot are having a field day because I was honest enough to admit that innocent people would be affected.

This is true of any system, even due process is far from perfect, as I am sure you know. The more severe the penalty, the more accuracy is needed and the more the innocent need to be protected.

This is a concept you lot seem unable to grasp. You think the principle of due process should be upheld regardless of the practicalities and cost. But having the same level of legal procedure for low level crime is just not practical and inevitably just leads to the guilty going unpunished.

You may think this acceptable, but Tony is trying to find a practical solution to the problem, not upheld a high minded principle that is just not working at the lowest level.

Just like relativity breaks down at the quantum level, so does due process. Letting people get away with low level crime just means having to deal with them later on for something much more serious. This is harming us all. This is ALL I am arguing for. I was direct enough to admit in blunt terms the implications of this on the innocent, but I pointed out that for those innocent who were affected, it would benefit them and society much more by having the guilty punished at an earlier stage. Life is inevitably unfair, sometimes it is better for us all to take the rough with the smooth if it solves a serious problem.

I am being lazy in lumping everyone's views together but it is sometimes hard to find the time to respond to dozens of people's comments. I apologise to anyone who hasn't criticised me in this way.

Martin Keegan said...

"Continue strict controls on immigration from outside EU."

(from "My Manifesto", by Neil Harding, available at:

"claiming I want to restrict non-EU immigration.

At no point have I ever said that, and I don't believe that at all. Who is mis-representing who here?

I have repeatedly said that I think immigration laws should be RELAXED. "

(from Neil Harding's post on this comments page)

In response to his question "who is mis-representing whom?", I'd contend that Neil is misrepresenting himself (as well as misrepresenting me).

Martin Keegan said...

Just for the record, I don't accuse Neil of being a racist. This is not the first time Neil has accused me of this. He has been made to admit this error before. See his blog.

This is why there's no point arguing with him: he'll admit he's wrong, and then pounce again when it's forgotten.

As to his so-called apologies, they're not apologies: he always attempts to justify himself in the same breath. To the extent that Neil ever admits he's wrong or hurts other people's feelings, it's hard to draw any conclusion than that such admissions are tactical withdrawals from positions he'll later take up again.

Neil Harding said...

Martin: you were implying that I wanted to further restrict immigration.

To continue the present immigration rules is not the same. It certainly is not BNP policy as you suggest. Take that back!

This is also from my website which is 6 months old. I the time I was demonstrating that Labour has not been 'soft' on immigration rules as some on the right imply.

As the numerous discussions with you on my blog show, I have repeatedly stated that I think immigration rules can be relaxed (but not totally abolished unilaterally until there is international agreement and less inequality in the world).

You know this yet you still try to smear me.

You also lie about not supporting FPTP. What is this post about then?

"So, in order of preferability, the electoral systems rank as follows:
First Past The Post, and Alternative Vote
Single Transferable Vote in multimember constituencies
Proper Proportional Representation systems with open lists
Proper Proportional Representation systems with closed lists"

MatGB said...

Neil? You contradict yourself within two posts. Each time you contradict yourself, you prove your opponents case for them.

I quote, in this thread:
justifies this by claiming I want to restrict non-EU immigration.

At no point have I ever said that

Yet Martin has quoted you saying that. Either you've said it or you haven't, when caught out, it's best to admit an error.

As to current BNP policy? the above, restrict immigration from non-EU states, is BNP policy. NB, not all BNP policies are wrong, they frequently play the populist card, you could learn to analyse the opinions of others, and indeed your own, and figure out if you firmly believe something or if you are, in fact, in error.

Your website may be 6 months old, but it still says it. Denying you've said it when the opposite is self evident is churlish.

Regarding Martin's preferecne for FPTP? I've debated electoral systems with him in the past, he does know what he's talking about, and that's a stated preference.

If you're going to put your views up for criticism, you need to understand that they will be criticised, and sometimes found wanting. That means engaging with individual points, not generalising and refusing to back down when you've lost a point.

Which you have, during this debate here and on your site, repeatedly.

If you could see that, you might make some progress in your ability to assert your own position; I've certainly improved my ability to argue a case since I started blogging, that's part of the point, isn't it?

Martin Keegan said...

We note in passing that the BNP ditched its support for ID cards and now opposes them ... oh the irony.

Remittance Man said...

I suspect I may be the "eloquent South African resident", if so thanks for the compliment, though rereading my efforts I do note an embarrasing inability to proof read my work.

Like Matt I find arguing with Neil cathartic and definately the solution to a bad day at the office (at least my dogs prefer it if I do my kicking online. Neil may think otherwise).

Turning to Mr Harding, he behaves like a lot of student union lefties. Neil likes parroting the latest NuLabour line but seems to get upset when a large chunk of the blogosphere turns around and starts pulling his arguments to shreds. At this point he resorts to type and starts the name calling. In his lexicon this includes terms like "middle-class", "libertarian" and so on.

Still, like Matt I find posting comments on Neil's site cathartic, especially after a bad day at the office. But if I was honest, it is sometimes far too easy and if I wanted to stretch my debating skills I'd head over to Owen Barder's site instead (he's landed some decent punches on my dumber statements before now).

At least we can give Neil credit for one thing: He does seem to unite the blogospere quite comprehensively. By my assessment nearly the entire political spectrum is lined up against him, barring the anarcho-syndicalists and the National Front.


The Remittance Man said...

Note my comment about not proof reading. Please ignore para 2 in the above post. It should have been deleted.

Damn! I need to upgrade my medication.

Sorry for the error.


MatGB said...

There are anarcho-syndicalist UK bloggers? Cool, I'll look out for them...

But yup, it was you I was referring to, I did like some of your comments.

Must get around to writing up my post on Owen's Monarchy post, it's quite good and the analysis is similar to mine, but my conclusion is different. And I know what you mean about proffreading, even when I hit preview I miss stuff constantly; I'd install spellbound but I know it won't actually help :-(

edjog said...

I'd say i'm heading well in the direction of Anarcho-Syndicalism (in the UK), although my reading is still catching up with where my instincts are leading me. It's the "class" bit. In its classical usage [ha!], i'm not sure it's a helpful concept anymore.

Neil Harding: frankly i cannot be arsed to debate you, as you clearly have your head so far up your arse that you'd only hear the rumblings of your own colonic dissatisfaction.

If anyone is interested in a view of the effect of further low level criminalisation of the poor from a reformed nutcase who has spent the bulk of his life at the sharp end of these issues, it's here: "My hole is greater than the sum of any government's respectable parts."

Neil Harding said...


Martin is a slippery fellow. He misrepresents me by constatly alluding that my opinions are supported by racists including the BNP. This is rubbish.

The BNP wants to tighten immigration. My site from 6 months ago does say I want immigration laws to continue as they are ('never say never' they say in politics because you have to remember exactly how you worded everything you have ever said or written). So I shouldn't have said 'never' in referring to the words 'restrict immigration' but Martin was playing a more subtle slur.

But Martin was clearly trying to imply my views are linked to the BNP/racists etc and that I wanted to tighten the laws (which I know I never have said). In fact if you look at my blog over the last six months I have constantly said that immigration laws can and should be relaxed.

Ideally we wouldn't have need for ANY border controls (Martin's position is for a unilateral ditching of all immigration controls immediately).

I would agree that border controls could be got rid of completely if there was international agreement on the free movement of people and something was done about the gross inequality in the world, otherwise there would be too much stress on particular destinations. This seems obvious to me.

Martin is being very disingenuous in trying to label me a racist with this disingenuous smears. It is clearly rubbish to suggest my views are the same as the BNP, when my opinions are actually the opposite. I am an internationalist, I find nationalism as irrational as religion.

MatGB said...

You see the thing is Neil, on many issues I suspect I may be closer to you than most of your commenters, I know that's true about, for example, Europe.

The problem is both the way you state your views and the way you respond to criticism; Martin gives your published opinion, compares it to that of another party, and wonders why they're so similar. You could, in fact, answer his point by checking what he quotes, the context in which you said it (out of context remarks are always suspect, but he's provided me with links) and then check what he's comparing it to, and seeing whether he may have a point.

He has never called you a racist, he has asserted that your views are similar to those held by an openly racist party. That is a significant difference. If you object to being compared to such a party, ask yourself why; if someone told me I agree with the BNP because we both believe the sky is blue, then that's fine, it's obvious to most, right?

Your opinion on immigration may be misstated on your (old) website; I suggest, given you still link to it, that you edit the site to make it current or remove it.

I, once, read through the BNPs main policy document. I then, with a friend, did a point by point analysis of it here at my old university forums, (mature student me, proud I is; it's from 2003, I had a grotty cold then as well).

The BNP's principle platform is populist authoritarianism, redistribution of wealth and anti-immigration/islam/'blacks'. Given that Labour is taking the populist authoritarian route, and is proclaiming its redistributive tendencies, that's 2 out of 3.

If you could actually argue and debate rather than react and complain, your opinions might be both listened to more and be better expressed. You don't do either very well, and that's the problem.

If your opinion makes no sense in the way it's expressed, then either your opinion is wrong or you state it badly. In this, specific case, on Respect, I think you're wrong and you state it badly. You've said nothing to persuade me that the policy is good.

On other issues, I'm close to your opinion, but you state it so bdly Ihave problems with it. Anyway, time to go read more blogs...

edjog said...

Some of you may know that i've been on a mini-mission to have Blair & Co arrested for their crimes just recently, sadly it seems my quest will come to nought after all. However, over the coming months i'll be doing my best to have these questions answered:

Mr Blair,

how do you expect anyone to take the proposal that it is imperative to punish the guilty even at the expense of the innocent, in your "Respect Action Plan", seriously when your Government presided over the introduction of the Criminal Justice (Terrorism & Conspiracy) Act 1998 which specifically provides that persons acting on behalf of the Crown cannot be held criminally liable for Conspiracy under the provisions of this Act whilst removing prior provision under the 1977 Criminal Law Act?

Isn't it utter hypocrisy to suggest that we must accept that agents of the Crown or members of HM Govt. might get away with heinous offences whilst at the same time we must not accept that a person might get away with vandalism?

In fact Mr Blair, isn't it the case that, were it not for subsection 14 of section 5 of this Act, you yourself would be guilty of a Criminal Conspiracy to Torture?


The Remittance Man said...

With reference to Edjog's question above, can anyone enlighten me as to what The Dear Leader's position was over the Gibraltar nastiness a few years ago? The one where some SAS troopers were put on trial for slotting three IRA members they beleived were about to detonate a bomb in a crowded street.

In the light of his current views on Agents of the Crown killing people it might be interesting to read of his questions in the house and public speeches on the Gibraltar affair.

Nasty cynic that I am I am guessing he was dead against letting the soldiers off back then. Same as he used to campaign for CND and against continued membership of the EEC.


MatGB said...

On the grounds that a) we're now way off the original topic
b) this post is now off the front page and
c) They are both good questions, I have this new post, on the grounds I have no idea either.

Neil Harding said...

Stumbling back onto this thread after a year or so and reading through Martin Keegan's and other's comments I am even more struck by the nonsense spouted about me.

Comparing my call for a continuance of some controls on immigration to the sum of BNP policies is so absurd it is beyond words. You only have to look at the previous sentence I write advocating an amnesty for all illegal immigrants to know that I not advocating BNP policies. Martin is being very sneaky, and it is an obvious smearing tactic (probably because he couldn't win the argument). It is like having an argument with me about 20mph limits and then saying this happened to be the policy of the Nazis, so therefore it must be bad. It is totally puerile and irrelevant and no matter how many flouncy words are written here denouncing me, this alone shows the level of argument you lot descend to.