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Quote of the Day

So Britain’s debt-crippled car-wreck of an economy has lost its triple-A credit rating. One would wonder why it did not happen sooner, except that these are the ratings agencies who were so relaxed about packages of sub-prime loans. Nevertheless, as Uncle Jack said of one of Mr Osborne’s predecessors:

“The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who by the confession of his own board, as well as the rest of mankind, now stands forth the most confused, most incapable, and most ignorant of all who ever accepted the seals of that high office… Read more

Quote of the Day

Incontinent and infantile hatred for successful political opponents, as exhibited by the creature standing for Labour in the Eastleigh by-election, is nothing new:

“The world has at all times been cursed with some evil and malignant spirits, who, instead of being fired with noble emulation at the great actions even of their own countrymen, have repined at their glories, and wept in the midst of the grateful acclamations of a whole people…Their next step is an attempt to ruin the prosperity, which they envy; or effectually to destroy all the noble fruits which would have accrued from any divine successes in which they had no share. Read more

Revisiting Benjamin Constant: Ancient and Modern Liberty Compared

In an address to the Athénée Royal de Paris in 1819, Benjamin Constant argued that “the aim of the ancients was the sharing of social power among the citizens of the same fatherland: this is what they called liberty. The aim of the moderns is the enjoyment of security in private pleasures; and they call liberty the guarantees accorded by institutions to these pleasures”.

This rightly enduring little paper – properly titled De la Liberté des Anciens Comparée à celle des Modernes – is an argument against eighteenth century revolutionaries’ vain and foolish obsession with importing ideas about public and private life from classical philosophy into the modern world. Reading it today, however, immediately suggests interesting questions about how we in the twenty-first century conceive of citizens, society and the state. Read more

Guest Post: What’s the Only Thing That Grows Without Rain?

By Chi the Cynic (@chithecynic)

Let us temporarily permit the Jarlsbergian premise that governments ought to tax us. While any other person or organisation extorting monies by threat and coercion would face criminal charges, the brigands at HMRC must presumably be the exception that proves us fools. No matter. The question I should like to address is why, if taxes must share certainty with the Reaper, they should be both hideously complex and irrational.

There can be few more nightmarish tasks than attempting to file a tax return. I use the word ‘attempting’ deliberately, because the most likely consequence to follow from the thought “I should do my taxes” is immediate capitulation. Attention is drawn instead to something more pressing, such as ironing one’s socks, or alphabetising the contents of the fridge. Read more

Is Daniel Hannan right about UKIP?

“Why do they not tell us the reasons on which they have changed their faith, and assign some fair methods by which they have satisfied the doubts of conscience? Till they do this, we certainly have an undoubted right to consider their pretended change as a mere piece of finesse, calculated to advance the worst of purposes, or to regard them as men of inconstancy and levity, acting from caprice and not reason; consequently in either of these respects unfit to take part in the direction of affairs.”

So wrote Uncle Jack of the Tories in January 1763, and it is with this in mind that we consider Daniel Hannan MEP’s Seven Reasons why UKIP supporters should back the Tory candidate in Eastleigh, in particular the implication that, since Cameron’s referendum pledge, the party has served its purpose. Read more

Quote of the Day

As Thomas Pascoe reminds us that Cameron’s ‘budget triumph’ sees UK contributions to the EU go up, we ask ourselves what Uncle Jack would say:

“This nation has ever been renowned for the bravest warriors, France for the ablest negotiators…in almost all battles with the French [the British] have had the honour and victory, but in all treaties, the loss and damage.” Read more