Sunday, September 04, 2011

The End of The Line?

The news of Murdo Fraser's bid, as a Scottish Conservative M.E.P., to disband that party North of the Border suggests that the Tory decline there may be terminal. Events since the 1960's, when Conservative policy favoured devolution, and the party actually won a Westminster seat from Labour, have gone downhill. The fatal blow was the Parliamentary decision in 1981 to insist upon a vote by an absolute majority of all electors in favour of devolution, without which the bill for autonomy would fail. The Scots have never trusted the Conservatives after that - and almost certainly never will.

Michael B. Buck.


Monday, August 08, 2011

What Financiers Dread.

In all the frenzied discussions about the economic and financial crisis, some pleas stand out, those for fiscal honesty. Convergence within what is now the E.U. was once a credible concept, but it has long since ceased to be, for the "weaker brethren," such as Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, still show, fifty plus years on
from the creation of the E.E.C., scant signs of achieving economic feats to match those
of Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. On the contrary, the divergences between the two groups have grown and continue to widen; the only sure remedies are:-
A. to remove the weaker states from the Euro group, so allowing them to devalue freely and effectively; and
b. to encourage all sovereign states to consider and plan an internationally co-ordinated devaluation, even, if need be, by 70, 80 or even 90%.

The alternative prospect is one of competitive, "beggar your neighbour,"
devaluations, such as took place in the 1930's.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

The New Route Through the Ash Valley, Widford.

This local controversy over a proposed byeway through a local beauty spot gives a useful insight into how a fairly simple matter has become deeply entangled because of legislation creating the device of the definitive map, which, frankly, is anything but that. Some ramblers have sought to resurrect a long moribund route, which currently runs through the middle of a sewage works, relying on some old records, dating back to the early C19. A faithful trawl through that material shows a fair amount of evidence dealing with the Wareside (Southern) end of the track, but virtually nothing about the the Northern end.Strictly speaking, the evidence for the existence of the route throughout its alleged length does not exist. Understandably the County Council, faced with that absurdity and the impossibility of disrupting the sewage farm, have taken the line, that there was just enough evidence to show that there must have been some sort of route, as the ramblers had suggested, and that in strict logic it would cross the sewage farm. The next stage would follow instantly, the diversion of the route to the East of that site, so as to join Peg's Lane, the route leading from the Northern part of the village of Widford. Finally, because of the undesirability of having a B.O.A.T, (bye-way open to all traffic), the newly resurrected route should be restricted to pedestrian traffic plus use by vehicles for agricultural purposes and the maintenance of the site.
It therefore seemed desirable to send to the County Council the following letter, in order to clarify matters and point out that their proposed actions represented the commonsense and practical solution to a confused situation.

29 / 07 / 2011.
My ref.: VM-290711.
Ian England, Esq.,
Definitive Map Officer,
Rights of Way Service, CHN103,
County Hall, Peg’s Lane,
Hertford, SG13 8EN.
Dear Mr. English,
Re: Hertfordshire County Council, (Widford 13, 18, 26 and Wareside 84) Modification
Order, 28 / 07 / 2011.
Widford Parish Council, (of which I am not a member, although my wife is) considered the proposed changes to the existing route, and decided to accept the idea, that there was, at some time, probably before 1950, when the land for the Sewage Farm site was sold to the Water Authority, a rough track from Widford’s former railway station, leading to what is now Peg’s Lane at a point North-West of the bridge over the River Ash. Hard evidence of its existence and use is scarce and fragmentary. The supposed route appears to have gone through what for the last 60 years has been the Sewage Works. The practical solution to this confusing situation appears to be a two-stage process, namely:-
[A] to make a finding, as mentioned in the first sentence above; and
[B] to decide to divert the supposed track from the site occupied by the Sewage Farm to a route to the South-East, which would then join the extended part of Peg’s Lane, lying West of the bridge. is proposed diversionary route would be designated as a restricted rural bye-way, so as to permit use of the same for wheeled traffic for agricultural and site maintenance purposes only, apart from pedestrians and horse riders.
In fact that appears to be what your Council are proposing and I support it; to the best of my knowledge and belief, it is also what Widford Parish Council think.
Yours sincerely,
Michael B. Buck.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Some Thoughts on Imprecise Usage, Natural Law.

In legal theories this is the supposedly ideal system of law, as distinct from the system of law that actually exists in any given country (the jus civile). A third category is the jus gentium (a kind of summary or distillationof the laws of all nations, specifying a consensus). Nowadays many people are unaware of these three technical terms, especially journalists, other writers and politicians, who glibly speak of “natural law.” In Roman Catholic theology the phrase denotes a highly abstruse definition, as much to do with moral principles as issues of law. With that very distinct exception, it is probably sensible to bear in mind what is now the common usage of the phrase, “natural law,” as being virtually meaningless, apart from whatever the writer or speaker happens to think to be desirable.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Otto von Habsburg, 1912-2011.

Otto von Habsburg, 1912-2011.

Otto von Habsburg, the eldest son of the last Emperor, was a more thoughtful and active man than the Times obituary indicates. For all the fumbling attempts to return to republican Austria in the 1930’s and even in 1945, he was a realist, who adapted to modern Austria, becoming reconciled to the Second Republic. Later he secured election to the European Parliament, where he served for twenty
years until 1999. He was very active in seeking to expand the European Community, particularly to the East, and he also wrote a number of books. He did champion one controversial cause, calling for the creation of an authority to coordinate development in the countries bordering the River Danube.

One remarkable feature of his life was his opposition to the Anschluss of 1938, an event to which most Austrians, including even the patriot, Karl Renner, succumbed.

Michael B. Buck.


Sunday, July 03, 2011

Light Comedy - And Social Tension.



The recent stir in the media, about good manners, fascinates and entertains

many people. It also repels. Mending matters seems wellnigh impossible, but one

suggestion for a reply to the initial letter is the following:-

Dear Mrs. X,

Thank you for your letter of (date), and I note what you say. I bear your

remarks in mind, for the sake of your son, my fiancé.

Yours sincerely,

(signed) Y.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Priorities for Post-Gaddafi Libya.

The news that Libyan rebel forces have captured a town only 42 miles from Gaddafi’s stronghold, Tripoli, is welcome, as it suggests that his cause is weakening. However, beyond the prospect of his defeat, three matters need advance planning now:-

[A] ensuring that there is a viable provisional government , ready to take over;

[B] securing that the oil wells, refineries and equipment are in good working order, with adequate skilled staff to operate the same and sufficient steady supplies of crude to process; and

[C] providing adequate funds and credit to enable the new administration to govern effectively.

At all costs the disastrous aftermath of military victory in Iraq in 2003 must be avoided.

Michael B. Buck.