Saturday, December 20, 2003
A few hours kip, then I'll pester my neighbours to help out!
Friday, December 19, 2003
Special congratulations to all those in NIGRA and CoSo who have kep this on the agenda and ensured our religious fundamentalists have not been allowed to make Northern Ireland a 'special case' this time.
With the departure of Sheverdnadze in Georgia, it means two of the ex-KGB kleptocrats who beggar much of the former USSR while receiving plaudits in the West have departed the scene in a matter of weeks. Whether this brings any relief to the benighted Caucasus is, of course, another matter.
Particularly revealing were Turkish PM Tayyip Erdoğan's comments that the Northern Cypriot polls demonstrated the need for participation of new politicians, given the guarded way Turkish politicians speak about Cyprus. One could, with a little imagination read that as, "piss off Denktaş, your time is over".
Ankara meanwhile is sending out signals that it will significantly soften its line in return for progress on Turkey's accession negotiations. This strikes me as astute politics. If Southern Cyprus enters the EU alone next May, the likely outcome is a further growth in anti-Ankara sentiment North of the Green Line, with a consequent loss of benefit to Turkey from any settlement.
Thursday, December 18, 2003
He has not yet decided whether or not to join the DUP.
Addendum at midnight
The Daily Telegraph thinks this plunges Trimble into the greatest crisis of his leadership. On the contrary, I think it's probably the best thing that's happened to him in the period of his leadership. If he'd have had the balls to do it in April '98, his party might not be in the sorry mess it is now.
There are such elementary mistakes in terminology here - Britain is the fourth largest economy in the world, not the fourth richest, Eric. (The last data I saw on this in The Economist had Ireland in about 8th and the UK at about 20th in the world in PPP terms.) Criticising the Republic for gross levels of inequality is fine, but he seems to have missed the only European nation which is worse is the UK. In fact the UK and the Republic have remarkably similar economic systems, both have been very successful at generating wealth over the past 10-15 years and both rather bad at distributing it effectively, both are probably the strongest champions of deregulation and economic liberalism in the EU.
Eric seems to think that the whole Celtic Tiger Wirtschaftswunder was based on Eurosubsidies, and while they undoubtedly helped jump start it - that's what they're their for - he needs to go and read an Economics text book if he thinks that's all it was about. And ideally not this one. If subsidies were a panacaea why haven't we seen a Spaghetti Tiger in Southern Italy? Northern Ireland remains a public sector dominated, anti-entrepreneurial society, very different from both Britain and the Republic.
His grateful Uncle Tom colonial mentality is even more infuriating - "God bless you Massah for letting me hitch my star to the 4th largest economy in the world". He seems to think it's somehow better to susbist on London subvention than it is to subsist on Brussels subvention. Is this all that remains of the proud self-reliance of the Ulster Prod? Who says you need to be big to be successful? Tell that one to the Luxembourgers (with the highest average income at PPP in the world), the Hong Kongers, Singaporese, Norwegians... The new success stories of Eastern Europe, the Slovenes and the Estonians...
As I said earlier, I'm not persuaded of the case for a United Ireland, but Waugh makes a particularly bad case against it.
Increasingly, I find myself thinking Northern Ireland is becoming like Italy. There's the paese offiziale which is mired in chaos, constantly collapsing coalitions and bureaucracy. Then there's the paese reale which actually works very well and has made Italy one of the world's leading economic powers. Certainly when I go home, Belfast doesn't feel like a city teetering on the brink of chaos - it's a damn sight more lively and energetic than any comparable English provincial city. Now if only we could have a few Italian style all-night café pubs. And some Italian weather...
The graffito on the wall of Henry Place Graveyard nearest Carlisle Sqaure, telling voters to VOTE AUSTIN X, is presumably still there from the 1983 UK General Election! Is this a record?
One of the fascinating things in Turkey is seeing teenage girls pouring out of provincial secondary schools at the end of the day, tying their headscarves over their head as they do so. Covered heads are, of course, banned from schools and other state-funded institutions in Turkey, though I suspect the AKP government will change this as soon as they think it is safe to do so. However, Bunting's line that, "France's schools were the vehicle to turn Catholic peasants into French republican citizens", was just as true of the education system of Kemalist Turkey. It wasn't just Liseler that the Turks borrowed from the French!
Of course, like many secularists she falls down in seeing liberalism and religion as polar opposites. The failure of Bunting to recognise the possibility of Liberal Christianity as a sustaining philiosophy highlights the limitations of her own world view.
Living in an Old Rectory is supposed to be a Young Fogey-ish thing to do, but as I am an employee of the state, I'm unlikely ever to be able to afford one. I have an allergy to villages anyway.
Two of my acquaintances, one an Anglican clergyman, the other a small businessman in Germany get these sort of begging letters regularly. The letters to the former are always about a very bright student who is an AIDS orphan and can't afford school fees. The letters to the latter always involve $11.5M (or thereabouts) sequestered in a secret Swiss bank account. Both have easily accessible addresses - via Crockford's and the German Company Directors' register respectively.
As to her question, "Should the police waste time on "victims" so venal and dumb?", I leave you to decide!
On the other hand, if you really are Slobodan Milosevic's second cousin and want to give US$100,000 for giving you my accountant's address...
Of course, due to the ridiculous 10% barrier, the real results were AKP 363 CHP 178 Inds 9.
Using 2-8 seaters with a preference for 5-7, and merging no provinces (hence the 2 seaters), I get the following results:
AKP 222 (Moderate Islamist)
CHP 135 (Social Democratic, ardently secular)
DYP 61 (Centre-right)
MHP 48 (Far-right)
DEHAP 39 (Kurdish nationalist and far-left)
GP 31 (Loony Populist)
ANAP 7 (Centre-right)
BBP 1 (God knows from their website, but probably far-left)
Interesting that the Independents seem to lose out under STV - I think the Turkish rule that they only have to pass the d'Hondt quota in their constituency helps them with the current fragmentation of the Turkish party system.
Anavatan would be the big losers under STV as their vote is too widely spread and they tend to lag behind their potential transfer donors most places. Then again they only obtained 5.1% in the General Election in 2002, and with the AKP hoovering up secular centre-right support all over the show at the minute, I think they're history anyway.
Otherwise the results are remarkably proportional - DEHAP are helped slightly by the concentration of their vote in the South East and a few neighbourhoods in the big West and South Coast cities.
The Grand Unity Party's (BBP) single seat would be in Sivas, which is presumably where their party leader is from: he'd have been elected in 2002 if he'd stood as an Independent, which is a tactic some of the micro-parties like the Liberal Democrat Party use.
None of the parties would win a seat in every constituency. Even the AKP would lose out in places which are ultra-secular and small in the West (Edirne, Kirklareli) secular and full of minorities in the East (Ardahan, Artvin, Tunceli), or staunchly Kurdish (Hakkari, Igdir). On the other hand, with a halfway decent balance they could still win 6 seats out of 8 in Kayseri!
Just for interests sake, I have Istanbul overall at: AKP 29 CHP 23 GP 8 DYP 4 MHP 3 DEHAP 3.
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
I think four piece tweed suits are a bit much, even for me, though!
I think The Guardian got their review of the Aida I enjoyed with my friend James last month just about right (3 stars). I thought it was fairly tame, but some of the more, er... um... traditionalist among the Covent Garden audience went ape at it. David McKie also had an interesting Guardian article on composers and fashion. Perhaps we may yet spark a surge of interest in Yoshimatsu and Rautavaara!
The weather is gorgeously cold and clear here at the moment - we've just finished with a gorgeous sunset and I'm looking forward to my ride home through an empty Hyde Park tonight. We must be heading close to zero tonight though, with such a clear sky.
My Parish, All Saints, Margaret Street are the Church featured on today's Choral Evensong on Radio 3. Unfortunately reception in a sealed building is always a bit dodgy so every once in a while I get horrible EM hash over the top, but overall a good effort.