Friday, 29 April 2005

Individualist article

The Society of Individual Freedom (see the links on the side of the page) produce a quarterly journal called 'The Individualist', which features articles on libertarian issues.

I've written an article in the latest issue, centred on anti-discrimination legislation.
Some feedback on it would be welcome!

Thursday, 28 April 2005

New Labour and business

Blair and Brown have promised to promote the interests of business if they win a third successive term on May 5th.

Mr Blair told an audience of business leaders that Britain had never worked so productively, created so much wealth or so many jobs.

I suppose this is a truthful statement. UK productivity has improved in relation to other G8 nations, albeit our country is still some way behind the United States in that respect.

But he stressed that countries such as India and China were now competing with the UK on skills as well as costs.

IMO, it's wrong to state that lower business costs are the entire reason why Western companies outsource. The amount of regulation is also a key factor, I feel. I agree with Harry Browne in this instance.

It's a positive thing that New Labour are seeking to aid business. But I don't believe they are going far enough. Businesses are often inundated with complex tax forms. Completing such paperwork takes time from selling or producing a specific good or service, which is in part why such organisations are in existence. Ultimately, businessowners simply desire to trade and make a profit in peace.

Evidently I'd advocate the repeal of all business taxation, in addition to the repeal of anti-discrimination legislation. Such an attitude may seem politically incorrect (I detest PC, but that's a another argument). However, businessowners should be free to run their business as they see fit, even if they choose to discriminate in terms of serving customers or hiring and firing. Such actions do not infringe on the person or property of another.

Tuesday, 26 April 2005

United Kingdom Independence Party - are they really libertarian?

A good proportion of British libertarians claim to view UKIP as a party with libertarian principles and policies. Personally, I don't believe such a claim is entirely accurate.

Let us examine their economic policies. They complain about the overly complex taxation system in place at present, but they support an income tax (most libertarians advocate the repeal of income taxes). In short, their economic positions are far from the libertarian ideal.

Regarding health and welfare, they advocate the existence of the NHS and the benefits system. Again, this is not consistent with libertarian views on health and welfare. UKIP also believe in the retention of the state education system.

So, IMO, the view that UKIP are libertarian isn't based on any factual or empirical claim. They may be more 'free-market' (that in itself isn't being wholly libertarian) but it could be argued that since Thatcher there has been a consensus amongst major parties towards free-market policies, labour market flexibility, privatisation of state industry, etc. UKIP's economic policies in that respect aren't drastically different to Labour, the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats.

Sunday, 24 April 2005

Election could be 'referendum on Iraq war'
Charles Kennedy, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, stated today that the May 5th election could be a referendum on the Iraq war.

Speaking in south London, Mr Kennedy said the Iraq war could be the issue on which people decided how they cast their vote - and he called on the government to publish all the legal advice it had received about taking military action.

I believe Mr. Kennedy has a point. The majority of British people opposed the Iraq war. In addition, the justification for the war (,i.e. that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction) was based on faulty intelligence.

Michael Howard, Conservative Party leader, said that Mr Blair had lied in the run-up to the Iraq war about the intelligence. Speaking on Breakfast with Frost, Mr Howard said. "The intelligence that he had, as we know from the Butler report,....was limited, sporadic and patchy.

"When Mr Blair came to report that to the country, he said he had intelligence that was extensive, detailed and authoritative. Maybe you can reconcile those two different sets of words. I can't. I think that portraying the intelligence in that way was untrue."

I find Mr. Howard's comments peculiar, considering that the Conservatives supported Blair's decision to go to war against Iraq.

I've stated my position on the Iraq war in previous posts in this blog. However, the Iraq war has tarnished the image of New Labour in many people's eyes (including mine). New Labour was a very popular government in the first couple of years after it won the 1997 election. In 2001, there may have been some concern as to whether public services were improving, but they won that year's election since the Conservatives were not viewed as a viable alternative. In 2005, New Labour aren't universally popular (albeit they aren't a 'detested' government). If they win the 5th May election, then IMO it will be because the electorate don't consider the Tories a credible alternative.

Friday, 22 April 2005

The British National Party

Anti-fascist groups are protesting and are enraged, due to the BNP fielding 118 candidates in the May 5th election. As the BNP have candidates in one sixth of all consituencies, they were permitted to create a party election broadcast, which was shown on Thursday 21st April 2005.

I saw this broadcast and thought the premise of it was comical and ludicrous. Supposedly the BNP were attempting to state they were 'out' for the 'oppressed' British person, as to support the rights of British people.

A BNP spokesman, Phil Edwards, said it was fielding many more candidates as it wanted to be seen as mainstream. He said: "We are not racist. We are race- realist. We are not a fringe group of lunatics. The only thing that holds us back is the fact we get such bad press. We are convinced there is a conspiracy against free speech for people like us.

IMO, the BNP ARE a racist party. Perhaps they don't advocate repatriation of non-whites from the UK anymore, but many of their supporters are racist.

Luke Crawley, a senior official at the BBC staff union Bectu, agreed. "We do not think that the BNP should be given a platform to express their racist views."

Like Mr. Crawley, I don't like or respect the BNP. But IMHO they possess every right to express their views.

Freedom of expression in itself does not initiate force or fraud against the person or property. I could call someone a poof or a paki and, whilst possibly 'hurting feelings' or causing emotional/psychological harm or distress, I wouldn't violate the person or property of a homosexual or southern Asian person. In a liberal democracy, surely all political viewpoints should be tolerated. Isn't liberal democracy BASED on the concept of pluralism?

In a libertarian society, no individual should be punished by the state for what they think or believe. They should only be punished if they infringe on anybody's person or property based on their beliefs.

Thursday, 21 April 2005

The Times political test

Whilst browsing the Times site for news on campaining for the May 5th election, I noticed a political test which is similar in format to the Nolan Chart (a test used by libertarian organisations in the USA).

My position on the chart isn't that surprising, since I scored in the libertarian category. My social score was 69 and my economic score was 74.

The test is intriguing and is well tailored to British political culture. One thing I dislike about the Nolan Chart is that it's too 'American centric' and doesn't translate internationally. The term 'left-liberalism' has little meaning in Europe, since liberalism isn't really considered a leftist ideology here.

Wednesday, 20 April 2005

Blair and Paxman interview

Tony Blair has 'defended' his decision to go to war against Iraq. He said this an interview with Jeremy Paxman, which is to be broadcast on 21st April 2005.

He told BBC Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman people had to make their own judgement but he took the decision he had to.

"If you want me to apologise for the war in Iraq, I'm afraid I cannot say that I'm sorry we removed Saddam Hussein," the Labour leader said.

Saddam was no angel, granted, but this doesn't justify attacking a nation who had never threatened to harm us. It also doesn't justify innocents who have been killed because of our invasion. Sanctions and weekly bombings from US and UK airplanes contributed in harming the Iraqi people; people who had caused no harm to the United States or the United Kingdom.

He said going to war in Iraq had been a "hard decision" taken for the right reasons.

"You can go through these issues about my integrity, my character, the legal advice... or you can accept that in the end a decision had to be taken.

Oh really? What exactly are these 'reasons'? I don't believe a decision had to be taken. Saddam never possessed weapons of mass destruction and the evidence presented to Blair was false.

Sun to 'support New Labour'

The Sun newspaper has decided to support Labour in the 5th May general election. The paper states that Labour have to be commended on their economic record. But they disapprove of New Labour's record on asylum/immigration and the enhancement of public services.

The United Kingdom is a liberal democracy, but even still find it dangerous for newspapers to attempt to sway public opinion in such a manner. Ultimately, it could be argued that media moguls would favour anybody whose policies would increase their readership and profits. Even in a libertarian society, this is something I'd personally be weary of.

Remember 1992? The Sun famously claimed 'It was the Sun wot won it'. Excusing the poor grammar of their claim, there may be some truth in such a statement. The Sun backed John Major and the Conservatives and heavily rebuked Kinnock's Labour party.

OK, yes the Sun supported Labour in 1997 and 2001, but many would have stated the outcome of these elections was apparent prior to polling day.

Tuesday, 19 April 2005

UK inflation rose in March

The annual rate of inflation rose in March to 1.9%. The Office of National Statistics stated that higher air fares and fuel costs contributed to the rise.

The Bank left rates on hold at 4.75% in April for the eighth consecutive month.

"This is a nasty surprise...that significantly increases the chances of an interest rate hike in May," said Howard Archer, economist at Global Insight.

"There are still significant underlying inflationary pressures stemming from high oil prices, the lack of an output gap and the tight labour market."

I'm no economist, but if interest rates rise to forestall higher inflation, then I doubt the Treasury's (and Gordon Brown's) GDP growth target of 3% for 2005 will be met. The lack of an output gap is intriguing, since that means there is little spare capacity in the economy. I'd assume that countries such as France, Germany and Italy possess larger output gaps.

The UK economy has performed well for over ten years. In the period, inflation has been low, unemployment has fallen and only Canada and the United States (of the G8 nations) have experienced higher GDP growth.

Personally (in my layman's opinion) I think this is just a blip. Inflation is still under the two percent target. The fundamental macroeconomics of the UK economy remain stable and strong.

Monday, 18 April 2005

Young people and 'Green issues'

The Independent interviewed some younger people, in regards to environmental or 'green' issues.

"Environmental issues aren't given prominence. You have to go out of your way to be environmental. In comparison to other European countries we are really far behind. We should be encouraged to be environmental and punished or fined if we are not."

Maybe this is because the average Joe cares more for his job, home, family, etc. than saving the environment. Making sure his children are well educated or his mortgage is paid is of greater immediate concern than protecting the ozone layer or ensuring a species of animal doesn't become extinct.

I am still relatively young (25) and I don't really care about 'green' issues. This is largely due to the reasons cited in the above paragraph. I generally care more for issues of liberty. Environmental issues should be solved through strong property rights anyhow.

I don't see why I should pay an income tax. Or why people aren't free to ingest what they choose.

Saturday, 16 April 2005

Rally for rail re-nationalisation

The Rail and Transport Union held a rally in Glasgow yesterday, calling for re-nationalisation of the railways. Their aim was to place pressure on the major parties in the run up to the 5th May general election.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "Public ownership of the railways will provide a better deal for travellers."

He added: "Public ownership will allow proper transport planning to cope with increased demand for travel due to new developments and the need to reduce road traffic to get cleaner air."

People prefer to use their cars because of the greater freedom exercised whilst driving it. IMO, the rail network should be extended, in addition to more trains in operation.

Most people believe that rail privatisation was a disaster. Amongst the major privatisations of the Thatcher/Major years, it was by far the worst.

But I believe this is the case due to the nature of the privatisation. The Major Conservative government allowed a private company (Railtrack) to own the infrastructure, whilst the train companies ran the train services (such as WAGN, Connex, etc.). Such an arrangement was wholly flawed.

Japan privatised its railways with some success. It used a different model to the Conservative government and the Japanese people are pleased with their train services. In Japan, different companies ran the services and the infrastructure in specific geographical areas.

I'm no fan of re-nationalisation, but I feel the railways should follow the Japanese model.

Thursday, 14 April 2005

Differences between the major parties

There is one thing I have noticed during the election campaign thus far. One commonly cited cause of apathy within the electorate is that there are no evident differences between the major parties. They are seen as being 'all the same'.

I don't really believe such a claim is truthful. Let's examine the Tories' and New Labour's policies on Europe, for example. The Conservatives rule out joining EMU and desire to renegotiate Britian's position in the EU (whilst remaining a member of the European Union). They also are opposed to Britain ratifying the EU constitution. Labour in principle want the UK to join EMU (once the 'five tests' have been met) and are in favour of ratifying the EU constitution (if a referendum is won).

So if there are differences in the parties' policies, why do people not realise this? All major parties (since the time of Thatcher) accept free-market policies, labour market flexibility, the privatisation of some state industries, etc. But during the time of post-war consensus, the major parties economic policies were also similar, without a public perception that all the parties are 'all the same'.

Personally I believe people are apathetic because they feel politics doesn't change much in their lives. Why vote if nothing ever seems to change?
Liberal Democrats announce manifesto

The Lib Dems launched their manifesto in front of the press today.

Mr Kennedy said his party's manifesto was "based on fairness, based on opportunity".
He described the document as a "fully-costed and affordable programme to create a fair Britain" and said it offered "dignity for older people, real opportunity for our children and a fair deal for families".

This manifesto (rather like the New Labour one I wrote about yesterday) is yet another big government manifesto. From my libertarian perspective, there are simply too few aspects of the Lib Dems' plans I can concur with.

First there is raising the rate of income tax for those who earn above £100,000. As a libertarian, you might guess I'm no fan of redistributing income or overtaxing the rich. Wealth and success should be praised and used as an example to others as a guide to succeeding (yes, I am a meritocrat too). The attitude that wealthy people should possess some 'responsibility' (by often paying greater amounts of tax) for their wealth is a misguided one, IMO.

Their plan to replace the council tax with a local income tax seems intriguing, but again I don't agree. If local government is to exist in a libertarian society, then I'd favour a local sales tax to be implemented. I suppose the only part of the manifesto I do agree with is the recall of British military personnel from Iraq. We had no business whatsoever in being there initially.

Wednesday, 13 April 2005

New Labour launch manifesto

Blair and the Cabinet launched the Labour party's manifesto for the 5th May poll today.

His programme for a third term includes a pledge not to increase the basic or top rate of income tax, but says nothing about National Insurance.

So it may be likely that all of our NI contributions could rise within the next four/five years.

After eight years in power, Mr Blair says he is fighting his last election.

I can recall an interview last year in which he stated this (or at least that a third Labour term would be his last). The evident question must be when (if during a third term) Gordon Brown can replace Blair as PM and Labour party leader.

The manifesto can be read here. A cursory glance at it denotes the continuation of more big government in this country. I support the creation of an inflation target of 2% and further reform of the House of Lords. Nonetheless, all other aspects of this manifesto simply will increase the size and scope of government. As a libertarian, I cannot in good conscience vote for a party determined to inflate the state in such a manner.

If Blair steps down during a third term, then this big government manifesto would continue to be implemented under a Brown premiership (or whoever becomes the Labour leader after Blair resigns). Still, I can hope that one day (hopefully in the near future) that the decades long trend towards larger government can be halted and reversed.

Tuesday, 12 April 2005

Blair retreats on pensions revamp

New Labour are to postpone plans for making employers pay pension contribtions to a fourth term in office. The move may enrage and 'infuriate' trade union leaders who, when meeting with Labour politicians, demanded the change.

The Confederation of British Industry has been lobbying ministers to reject the case for compulsory contributions, warning it would add unacceptable costs to business.

I have to concur with the CBI. Such a move would increase business costs, hence leading to greater regulation, red-tape and bureaucracy. Greater regulation is the reason why the big Continental economies have been growing slowly for the past ten years. It's also a major factor in why several Western companies 'outsource' their operations to other countries.

Ultimately, people should save for their own retirement. If the income tax could be repealed, then people would possess more money to save for their retirement. The government should maintain no role in providing pensions as welfare requires governmental force (against the private property of the citizen) in order to operate.

Monday, 11 April 2005

Blair House of Lords reform

The PM has supposedly bowed to pressure to hold a free vote in the Commons' if Labour secure a third consecutive term in office.

The manifesto will also promise to strip the remaining 92 hereditary peers of their right to sit and vote in the chamber.

I believe this is a positive step forward. I don't find it equitable nor logical for politicians within a contemporary liberal democracy to have acquired legislative power by virtue of birth. I do not understand why this vote should be a free vote. This issue doesn't really classify as an issue of conscience, IMHO.

Such a move is to be included in the Labour party's manifesto. It would also include promises to review the first-past-the-post electoral system and pass a House of Lords reform Bill early in the new parliament.

I fully favour reform of the House of Lords and I believe a good proportion of its members should be elected. To re-iterate, the concept that some politicians acquire legislative power in a modern liberal democracy through virtue of birth is illogical. IMO, Tony Blair will be remembered (amongst other things) for reforming the constitution of the United Kingdom.

Conservatives' launch manifesto

The Tories are the first major party to launch their manifesto, for the May 5th election.

Mr Howard, pictured on the inside cover, writes in his introduction that Britain is "a great country... heading in the wrong direction" under Labour.

Promising to be "ambitious for our country", Mr Howard sets out his vision of a "successful and decent society".

I agree that the UK has a lot going for it and is a great country. But, personally, I don't believe the growth of government whether under Labour or Conservative would lead to a 'successful and decent society'.

I've browsed through the manifesto here and I think it is too contradictory. If the Tories truly want smaller government, then they should refrain from seeking to increase funding for the National Health Service.

I would be very tempted to vote for a Conservative party who were genuinely committed to reducing governmental expenditure as a proportion of GDP and (perhaps) greatly increasing social freedoms. I know such a thing occuring soon isn't likely, especially as the Tories are geared to enhancing 'public services'.

Sunday, 10 April 2005

New Labour and education

According to Blair, education will be at the heart of Labour's election manifesto.

"If you value economic stability you have to vote for it. If you value the New Deal or the minimum wage or tax credits, you have to vote for them.

"If you value more childcare, you have to vote for it. If you value the NHS you have to vote for it. If you value investment in state schools you have to vote for it."

So New Labour simply want to increase the size of government, huh? Government spending as a proportion of GDP is already over 40% and is rising in order to finance the enhancement of 'public services.

Big government simply intrudes on our lives. Government should be small enough as not to commit and force or fraud against a citizens' person or property.

Immigration 'battle'

Labour and the Conservatives have clashed over immigration issues today.

Michael Howard stated on morning TV that:

"Immigration today is out of control and that is a matter of great concern for the future of good community relations in Britain... it's of concern for our national security; it's a concern for the future of our public services.

"Immigration is of real concern to very many people of all parties and of none. A lot of people say I should not talk about these things and that they should be swept under the carpet; I do not agree with that.

"You have to face up to problems; you have to identify them; and you have to say what you would do about them."

Yes, immigration is of great concern to the average Joe in the electorate. In that sense I would concur with Mr. Howard. But (from my libertarian perspective) I don't really share the public worry surrounding issues of immigration.

Libertarians in general welcome and value immigration. This can be attributed (in part) to utilitarian reasons; that more people should be free to live in a free society. Also, libertarians believe all should possess the freedom to come and go as they please. However, I don't believe many people in the electorate (nor the leaders of the major parties) in this current climate would accept libertarian values in regards to immigration.

The common arguments cited against further immigration are that the UK is too densely populated and has little room for extra people. I suppose this is a true statement, since the UK is one of the most densely populated countries in the Western world. Another argument put forward is that immigrants fail to integrate properly into their new society. Again, I believe there is some truth in this as members of some ethnic minorities don't mix with the wider community. The government don't do much to alleviate such a problem, since they often print their literature in several languages (other than English). Why is there is a need to do this? Shouldn't members of ethnic minorities (who have been living in the UK for years) learn to speak English?

Overall, I can understand (but not share) the common viewpoints relating to immigration. I don't believe it is 'racist' to be opposed to further immigration and such an issue will probably be prominent in this election campaign.

Friday, 8 April 2005

MG Rover

A Chinese car company has terminated support of the MG Rover plant in the West Midlands, which threatens the livelihoods of six thousands workers.

"The Tories say government red tape has hit UK manufacturing, while the Lib Dems accuse Labour of acting too late".

The Tories should realise that UK manufacturing had feen failing under the Thatcher/Major governments.

I don't really understand the views of people (often leftists) who decry the decline of Britain's manufacturing base. Such a claim isn't even limited to the United Kingdom. Even some Americans lament on the fall of manufacturing in their own country.

Really no sector of industry (be it primary, secondary or tertiary) is inherently special or of more worth. An advanced capitalist economy would generally have a large service sector. This is due to people being relatively wealthy and possessing more money to spend on services.

You can probably guess that I'm not a fan of government subsidies and I don't believe Rover should be saved. The market should determine whether business are fit enough to survive or not.

Tuesday, 5 April 2005

PM calls election

Tony Blair has called the election, after visiting the Sovereign in the morning in order to acquire permission to dissolve parliament. The date of the general election is 5th May 2005.

After announcing the date, Mr Blair said that Labour's "mission for the third term" was to entrench economic stability and public service investment.

I often wonder if the PM truly can acknowledge that the British economy was strong at the time of Labour's landslide in 1997. Surely New Labour can only be commended for maintaining a healthy economy; not creating one. In May 1997, unemployment was falling from its high after the early 90's recession, inflation was low, interest rates were low and GDP growth in 1997 was above trend at 3+%! That cannot be considered a 'weak' economy, by any macroeconomic standard.

Immediately, Blair, Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy commenced their campaigns. Who do I believe will win? Well, most commentators feel that Labour are 'favourites' (the bookmakers do too) and I agree to an extent. Personally I don't sense New Labour being universally popular, largely based on a few factors such as the conflict in Iraq, immigration/asylum and a perceived lack of improvement in public services.

There are some factors that intrigue me though. I wonder how large the turnout will be. In 2001, it was only 59%, which was the lowest since the end of WWI (and when women first acheived the right to vote). Many seem to believe that the turnout could be lower this time. I reckon the electorate is apathetic because they fail to view a difference between the major parties. Face it, New Labour's policies on health (for example) aren't drastically different to the Conservatives.

Also, I don't feel the electorate view the Conservatives as a truly viable alternative to Blair and New Labour. To be frank, they have not been since the 1997 election. The Tories (sorry...Conservatives) need a swing of 10% simply to be the party of government (and even then their majority will not be great).

It's times like these that I wish a libertarian party existed for whom I could vote. Yes, libertarianism in the UK is a relatively fringe ideology and in that sense I cannot readily identify with Blair, Howard, etc. since they evidently are not libertarians (I wonder if Greens, Marxists, anarchists and other members of fringe political movements in the UK feel the same). I've mentioned this is a previous post, but if people are so desperate for an apparent difference between the major parties, then libertarianism could be answer. Which other party would consider abolishing the income tax? Or not engaging in wars in Iraq (which were based on false intelligence and evidence)?

To be frank, I'm not sure who to vote for. I suppose I do have under one month to make up my mind.

Monday, 4 April 2005

Blair to postpone announcing the date of the general election

As a mark of respect to the late Pope John Paul II, the PM will postpone announcing the date of the next general election until Tuesday 5th April 2005.

By constitutional convention, the Prime Minister must seek permission from the Sovereign in order to dissolve parliament. However, Blair will attend Westminster Cathedral to pay respects to the late Pontiff.

I'm not Catholic (or even Christian), but I don't know what to make of John Paul II's death. I suppose he did some good, even though I disagreed with his opinions in regards to abortion.

The Prime Minister considered that it would have been “disrespectful” to stick with his original plan to name polling day, expected to be May 5, less than 48 hours after the Pope’s death and with so many Catholics still in deep mourning.

Heh, hasn't anyone told Tony that the United Kingdom isn't a Catholic country? These 'mourning Catholics' are a minority of Christians in this country.

Drug culture in the 'Scottish highlands'

Pupils at Kingussie High School, in the Scottish highlands, are being subjected to random drug checks from police sniffer dogs.

Two other nearby schools are likely to follow suit after the Northern Constabulary gave warning that, even in one of Europe’s last great wildernesses, the area used to film the television drama Monarch of the Glen, the smoking of cannabis “is replacing a cigarette behind the bike shed”.

Why should this be any problem? Surely it's naive to believe that narcotics only exist in run down urban areas?

David Bell, an NHS consultant specialising in drug addiction, said last month that heroin was “spreading like a tide in the Highlands and Islands”. The warning came after Alastair MacDonald, the governor of Porterfield Prison in Inverness, said that the drug culture was “spreading like a cancer” in the Highlands.

If I were Mr. MacDonald, I would question why people who committed no damage or injury to others person or property should be imprisoned. Surely then the prisons would be avaiable for those who DO violate rights to person and property. I wonder what Mr. MacDonald's views are pertaining to the War on Drugs? Is he so blind (as a person working within the criminal justice system) to view that such a programme isn't functioning well enough?

The consumption or possession of narcotics should not be illegal. Simply taking drugs does not violate others' rights to person or property. However, with freedom comes responsbility. If a person, whilst 'high' or in a narcotic state infringes on others' person or property, they should be prosecuted.

Saturday, 2 April 2005

Fines for bars/pubs serving drunks

The government has announced plans to fine bar staff who serve drunken customers.

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Tessa Jowell said the fine expansions "send out a clear message".

"If the law is broken, both parties must pay a price," she said.

"Along with tough measures in the Licensing Act, these new penalty notices will give police further tools to tackle alcohol-fuelled crime and disorder head-on."

Ms. Jowell is correct in stating that a 'price' must be paid if the law is broken. But being intoxicated in itself doesn't violate others rights to person and property.

Kevin Beswick, manager at The Bridge pub in Manchester, said one problem was a lack of strict guidelines.

"One person could drink ten drinks and appear sober while another could be falling over. It's very hard to gage," he said.

IMO, this is an important point. It would be difficult to objectively ascertain who is drunk or not, since people 'handle their drink' differently. The amount it would take for one person to be intoxicated wouldn't be the same as another.

I feel people 'binge drink' in contemporary society because they simply are enjoying themselves. Often amongst youngsters, it is seen as the 'cool thing to do'. I don't believe the government should do anything to stop people from binge drinking.

However, actions have consequences and with freedom comes responsiblity. If a 'binge-drinker' violates the person and property of another whilst drunk, he should still be prosecuted. Binge drinking in itself shouldn't be illegal.

Friday, 1 April 2005

New Labour's 'nation of homeowners'

Labour would seek to increase home ownership by one million, if they secure a third term in office. Gordon Brown stated that Labour wanted to create:

a "home-owning, wealth owning, asset-owning democracy" in Britain.

So would personal debt increase further under New Labour?

Labour also wish to build extra homes on former NHS land. However the Highways Agency

"gave warning yesterday that motorways and trunk roads in the South East would struggle to cope with the huge increase in commuting and that road tolls would have to be introduced to prevent gridlock."

Why exactly do houses have to be built in the South East? Granted, London is located in the South East of the country and due to this fact the South East is the richest part of the country. Nonetheless, I feel it's dangerous to have one part of the country as the engine for all UK growth. The South East cannot be built on perpetually.

People are supposedly leaving the North of England because there are greater opportunities elsewhere. Areas such as Scotland and the North East of England are among the slowest growing areas in the UK. Economic growth in the UK needs to be more balanced.