Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Hu Jia: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate 2008?

Jailed Chinese dissident Hu Jia (and maybe also his brave wife Zeng Jinyan who is also under house arrest and who is bringing up their young daughter alone) is/are being tipped for the Nobel Peace Prize. This is very welcome news in light of the Communist Government's blatant failure to uphold human rights as promised around the time of the Beijing Olympics.

Hu was jailed in April apprently for 5 articles he wrote and 2 interviews he gave criticising the Communist Government in China for failing to uphold human rights. How pathetic is that?

Hu has actively campaigned on behalf of AIDS/HIV sufferers and other dissidents such as Chen Guangcheng over a number of years.

There is a moral dimension to this ongoing oppression which ought to give the Chinese Government pause for thought. Governments that lock up people who don't agree with them (we are not talking terrorism here for goodness sake!) tend to have limited shelf-lives, never achieve the moral authority and acceptance in the eyes of the international community that they crave and ultimately implode on themselves when the final vestiges of their legitimacy disappear. It may not happen today, it may not happen tomorrow or in 20 years, but one day it shall if they carry on like this.

Hu would be a worthy winner and it would be interesting to see how and if the Communist authorities would react. I think it would be highly embarrassing for them that Hu is currently in prison on a pretty flimsy pretext. Perhaps they ought to think about releasing him PDQ?

Friday, 19 September 2008

A Good Week To Be A Liberal Democrat

My impression from afar was that overall Nick Clegg and the Party had a very good week in Bournemouth. I was a bit surprised at Iain Dale (the Tory one) making a bit of an arse of himself over Nick's comments when anyone with half a braincell would realise that Nick was talking to the person in the street about Lehman Brothers, Meryll Lynch etc. I'm really delighted that Making It Happen was adopted without amendment and I think that finally the Party has begun to capture the mood of the moment. People are struggling to make ends meet and they want their money where they need it, in their pockets.

I thought that Iain was better than that but I guess that Tories who like to talk about social justice and then commit themselves to continuing with a REGRESSIVE tax structure which punishes lower and middle income earners at the expense of the wealthy in society must be feeling a little bit rattled and concerned and grasping at straws to discredit Vince Cable and Nick Clegg. There is nothing "right wing" about Making It Happen. That is good economic and political sense in a Liberal and progressive way.

To heap misery on it, it would seem that floating voters and even existing Labour supporters prefer Clegg to Cameron according to Newsnight. HINT: address the incidence of the tax burden and THEN you can be taken seriously on social justice issues. The current Tory message looks like "we hear your pain but we don't really give a damn as we've decided to adopt a Blue Labour strategy".

It's been a tough 18 months or so to stay in the Party with all that has happened, and some of my good friends leaving, but this week has made me glad that I've kept my membership and kept going through the gritted teeth. A good stronger small business and enterprise development policy now to really encourage so many of those millions of small business people to come to naturally support our Party and we will be on the road to longer term success.

Is the Liberal Democrat Business Forum Still Operating?

I'm still working away here in Zagreb and so was not able to get along to Bournemouth and so hence my question.

I'm curious to know if the Liberal Democrat Business Forum is still operating. I would be grateful for any information anyone has on whether or not it is operating and how I could get involved if I wanted to.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Choking on My Museli

I was going to suggest that I choked on my kulen (a type of Croatian sausage) here in Zagreb this morning when I read that the Liberal Democrat leadership had ditched their commitment to joining the Euro at the earliest opportunity but felt that such an image might be a bit of a "Carry on Croatia" double ententre. I can just hear Sid James' dirty laugh and Kenneth Williams intoning "oh Matron" as I write this. So, instead, I choked on my organic museli instead which is far more Lib Dem.

I have to say though that I'm a bit surprised to hear the news and also a little bit disappointed since I have always felt that our strong Europeanism was a distinguishing feature of our Party although I think we had allowed ourselves to become caracatured wrongly by our political opponents as wild-eyed Eurofanatics when the reality has been that we have been arguing for reform of EU institutions and genuine subsidiarity for as long as I can remember. Still, I am left with an uneasy sense that something distinctive has been lost today.

Clearly there has not been the hoped for convergence with Euroland. Much of my business this year has been working with the Euro and the slide of the pound against the Euro has been nothing short of remarkable (and has raised my business turnover significantly more than I had originally forecast).

Pound Sterling to Euro Exchange Rate Graph - Sep 13, 2007 to Sep 12, 2008

On the other hand, joining the Euro might have been better for our longer term economic prospects. Sadly, once again we let the European ship leave the port before we decided to get aboard and I guess that although I will always in my heart wish to join the Euro, my head tells me that the moment to do so has passed.