Canada Election: PM Harper Loses As Tories Trounced

CANADIAN VOTERS have today terminated a decade of conservative rule, handing government to the unproven son of former Liberal Prime Minster Justin Trudeau; the defeat — whilst expected — was more savage than polls had suggested, and sees Justin Trudeau follow in his father’s footsteps at a time Western democracy has trended toward centrist liberalism.

It’s a quick piece from me this evening as I am in Brisbane — en route to the airport to return home — and more to mark the event than to delve into any deep analysis.

Another conservative leader has fallen today (Australian time) with the defeat of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in the general election in Canada; with results declared at about lunchtime our time, the Liberals — led by the son of former Prime Minster Pierre Trudeau — has won a clear majority in the House of Commons, with perhaps as many as 184 of the 338 seats up for grabs.

The defeated Conservatives fared badly, and worse than expected, winning a projected 99 seats with about 30% of the vote: a swing away from them of eight percentage points, with the consequent loss of almost half the seats they were defending.

The outcome is a stunning triumph for Trudeau Jr, whose party ran third at the previous election four years ago and was signposted by opinion polling just weeks ago to do so again; given he has never held ministerial office and comes from a tentative background as a supply teacher it would be unkind to suggest the new Prime Minister has surfed into office on his father’s name, but the conclusion is impossible not to draw.

I would share some comment from the mainstream press, replete with polling data, maps, and interactive figures, but can’t (and the fact I’m not should give potent notice of why I am about to replace my iPad with a Samsung tablet and banish the user-unfriendly, overrated Apple in favour of something that might actually be fit for the purpose it is bought for).

But I would like to note that one of the best of the present generation of world leaders has been lost; I will be the first to admit I have no idea what sort of government Harper ran on his own patch, but his voice in global affairs and in forums such as APEC and the G7 has added sage counsel and insight for many years, and this will be a loss to the rest of us as much as to those Canadians who voted to re-elect him.

The change comes at a time many Western countries are eschewing hard conservatism in favour of centrist, light liberal governance where the emphasis on personal freedom outweighs questions around the freedom and liberty of societies as wholes.

One would suggest Harper’s defeat at the hands of his own people reflects our own Tony Abbott’s demise at the hands of his own party; yet the centrist Trudeau will find much in common with Malcolm Turnbull, US President Barack Obama, Britain’s David Cameron, and Germany’s Angela Merkel — all (bar Obama) hailing from ostensibly conservative parties, but none of whom could be described as true Tories in the classic sense.

It can be funny how the world works and especially how the cycle turns in politics — locally as well as globally — but if there is to be any takeout from the Canadian result here, it probably augurs well for Malcolm Turnbull as he gears up to fight his first election as Prime Minister.

I will be back with something a little closer to home — and in a little more detail — in the next day or two.

Do Our Major Political Parties Face Death Or Freedom?

WITH DISENCHANTMENT IN POLITICS a virtual article of faith in Australia, predictions of the demise of the two-party system are frequent, cataclysmic, and perhaps premature. Even so, there is a penchant for “all things to all people” politics that has infected and infested mainstream parties in this country whose logical result is that nobody is satisfied — perpetuating the breach — and this problem, in difficult times, is not unique to Australia.

I’ve been reading one of the online conservative blogs from the UK that I follow this morning — Breitbart — and found an article that a) is a brilliant summation of a “fork in the road” Britain’s Conservative Party faces, and which b), after some thought, equally applies to our major parties here in Australia as it does to the Tories in Britain, the Conservatives in Canada and the GOP in the USA that it talks about, and probably the major political parties in most democratic countries with a stabilised party system: and especially where two main parties substantially fill that remit.

The article (which you can read here) is by Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group, a British think tank given to the objective of the advancement of political conservatism. I urge readers to peruse this; as has been the case in the past when I have shared material from the UK, it won’t be too difficult to get past any local jargon — you could almost substitute “Liberal Party” for the Conservative Party, “Palmer United Party” for UKIP, and beyond that the unfamiliar names won’t interfere with anyone’s enjoyment of the piece.

But for those who don’t follow such things, the Conservatives (or Tories) in the UK are faced with the proverbial fork in the road; on its right flank exists a minor party — the United Kingdom Independence Party — whose objectives, among other things, are to engineer Britain’s exit from the European Union, and to severely curtail both the quantum and the mix of immigrants to the UK.

The problem the Conservative Party appears to face is that both of these objectives seem to enjoy significant (if not outright majority) support within the British electorate; yet the government of Prime Minister David Cameron — admittedly, in Coalition with the Liberal Democrats, a hotchpotch of centrist liberals and unreconstructed socialists — gives every appearance of trying to diminish, ignore and/or sidestep these matters in the name of doing “the right thing” by the UK.

But the real issue at the nub of the Harris-Quinney piece is its references to “the exhausted ideas of (Tony) Blair and (David) Cameron” set to be recycled yet again, and its allusions to the creep of social democracy into the words and deeds of a “conservative” government to the direct detriment of the advancement of the conservative principles Cameron was supposedly elected to enact.

Cameron might have fallen just shy of a majority in 2010 with the Coalition and its inevitable compromises as the cost, but apart from a crackdown on welfare payments (that were even further out of control than they are in Australia) and a program for fixing Britain’s own debt and deficits disaster, inherited from Labour — both of which were possible by the virtually unicameral nature* of the British Parliament — there isn’t a great deal Cameron’s government has done since it took office that could be unequivocally categorised as “conservative.”

I’m not going to dwell on the British background to today’s discussion here, although Harris-Quinney correctly notes that the phenomenon he describes in the UK is identical to those already seen in North America.

Yet where this links back to our own polity begins with the proposition I have repeated, with increasing regularity it seems, in this column: that any government (or party) that sets out to be all things to all people, and to please everyone, actually offends more people than it mollifies and ultimately pleases no-one.

Regular readers (who know that from time to time I am incapable of preventing my passion of British politics from invading this column) know that as staunchly supportive of the Tory Party as I am, I find David Cameron to be something of a disappointment; offering so much when he came to both the leadership of his party and subsequently to office, Cameron’s government seems almost apologetic for its conservative traditions and principles, trying instead to be some weird amalgam of dry economics fused with the worst aspects imaginable of Blairite social policy: and with the state the UK is in, even Labour should be finding some way to junk its Blairite social platform, let alone have it perpetuated by the so-called “nasty party.”

In happenstance, Britain’s voters seem to want a so-called “in-out” referendum: that is, a straight vote to either remain in the EU or to leave it altogether. Cameron’s “compromise” is to “renegotiate” Britain’s position in the EU and what I will loosely term its “membership package,” with an in-out referendum offered in 2017: if, and only if, the Conservative Party wins the General Election due next May.

Unsurprisingly, UKIP is recording the biggest spike in its support in years; for the first time last week, a Tory MP in a safe conservative seat jumped ship on the Conservatives and defected. It is perhaps one of those excruciating ironies that only a Conservative government can deliver the desired referendum at all — Labour refuses to do so, and UKIP will never win government — yet the leaching of support from the Tories to UKIP could be the factor that kills the prospect of a referendum altogether.

By way of background, I think that’s sufficient, although if anyone can’t see the parallels crying out to be drawn between this scenario and our own political situation, your comments are as welcome as always.

A similar process in Australia to the one Harris-Quinney outlines in regard to conservative parties in Britain and elsewhere has arguably been under way in Australia for decades; it has affected both the Liberal Party and the ALP alike, although until fairly recently it has tended to disproportionately impact the Labor side. I want to look briefly at both — and e’er briefly, provide a little more historical context — but the question of “death or freedom” seems as apt in this country as it does when posed for the Tories.

If we look at the ALP first, in many respects the Whitlam government was the point at which a slow disconnect in the Labor Party began to smoulder.

This traditional party of the worker, the unionist, and the underprivileged suddenly began to embrace sweeping new constituencies: the arts, the cultural elites, academia, and white-collar professionals that had traditionally been the preserve of the Liberal Party and its predecessors.

40 years later, it is debatable as to whether the ALP will or in fact can ever again muster 40% or more of the primary vote at an election: minor parties — firstly the Australian Democrats (ironically set up by a disaffected Liberal) and more recently the Communist Party Greens (er, sorry… 🙂   ) — have, broadly, come to account for about 10% of the electorate that once upon a time would have formed Labor’s Left faction.

This slow leakage of support from the ALP can be regarded as the inevitable schism between the party’s traditional constituency and the new ones Whitlam sought to open up to broaden Labor’s appeal; indeed, the slow march away from Labor has almost been a complete cycle, as many of the groups and lobbies attracted to Labor for the first time in the 1960s and 1970s have kept on marching…and marched on past the ALP into the waiting arms of the Greens.

(The Greens’ eschewing of a purely environmentally based agenda in favour of one largely built on the principles of hard socialism is, despite the contempt I freely express for it in this column, is another example of the same process).

In Labor’s case, I contend the process was papered over to some degree, as disaffection with the Fraser government and the election of Bob Hawke in 1983 delivered the ALP its most sustained era of political success. Yet even this respite was short-lived; Labor won elections in 1987 and (particularly) 1990 despite losing the primary vote, in 1990 quite decisively, and since 1990 has managed to pull 40% of the vote only three times in eight elections — and just 33.4% last year, a historical nadir.

On the Liberal side, conservative forces in Australia have been largely insulated from this kind of thing, with the notable exception of the madness of the Pauline Hanson/One Nation debacle after 1996; at that time the “Hanson factor” was directly responsible for the defeat of conservative administrations in Queensland and Western Australia, and was a factor in the defeat of the long-term CLP government in the Northern Territory as well.

And of course, the “Hanson factor” caused the federal Coalition to be narrowly re-elected with a minority of the primary vote in 1998.

Australia’s preferential voting system has shielded its major parties from confronting these phenomena; after all, the ALP finally returned to government — with a solid majority — in 2007, and Tony Abbott was elected in a canter last year.

But as popular support for the parties eats away, even preferences become less reliable as a vehicle upon which to arrive at victory, which is why Labor under Bill Shorten would be so unwise to let its current “winning” opinion poll leads (off a 34% primary vote) go to its collective head.

Now, of course, the Coalition is beginning to experience the same movement away from it as Labor has; after Hanson came something of a warning in the form of maverick Queensland MP (and ex-National) Bob Katter, who showed that 5-10% of the nominally Coalition vote was there to be seized by anyone who spoke the language of the disaffected anti-Labor voter.

Katter, of course, could never be described as a malignant political agent; his views might have been dated, and the policy ideas he championed thoroughly obsolete, harking back to a long-gone era of protected industries as they did.

But as the initial burst of support he harvested waned, the protest truck that rolled in to cart their votes away is directionless, malignant, wantonly destructive and unabashedly populist: the Palmer United Party, which is yet to make a single constructive contribution to politics in Australia after twelve months and four MPs in Canberra.

And how has this situation come to pass?

In Labor’s case, it was probably inevitable that some kind of realignment of the Left-of Centre vote would follow the Whitlam years.

The infusion of “new” constituencies into the ALP has also been accompanied by a collapse in the level of trade union representation in Australia, and that collapse has been compounded by the fact that in the main, the strongest unions left standing just happen to mostly be the white-collar ones representing civil servants, teachers, and healthcare professionals: so much for the traditional Labor “man on the tools.”

In most respects I really don’t care how much damage all of this inflicts on the ALP and for fairly obvious reasons I couldn’t care less if it never again holds office. But I do understand that a viable democratic system requires a viable alternative, and in this sense alone it is to be hoped the Labor Party gets its shit together. This column, however, quite reasonably has nothing to offer by way of suggestion where questions of it doing so are concerned.

But the Liberal Party — an entity which, despite the gap of a few years after I moved to Melbourne in 1998, I have been a member of for almost a quarter of a century — seems hopelessly compromised as the leaching of its support gathers pace. Of Australia’s major parties, it probably stands to be far harder hit by that process over the longer run.

I think I have been very objective about the performance of the Abbott government to date, and it is perhaps ironic that we’re talking about this now; one year on from its big election win, people like me are supposed to be celebrating.

But like David Cameron’s government, there is very little about Abbott’s that can be described as “conservative” (and we’ve talked about this too), although the distinction has to be drawn between what decently framed legislation has been mangled and/or rejected by the Senate, and what is simply an offence against the notion of conservative government and fidelity with the core constituency of the Liberal Party.

The ongoing failure to repeal the carbon tax and the blatant bribes of the Low Income Superannuation Contribution and the so-called Schoolkids’ Bonus, for example — both explicitly promised by Abbott before the election — is the fault of Clive Palmer and his malicious shenanigans.

On the other hand, the failure to even offer to try to abolish huge new spending programs in Education and disability support legislated by the Gillard government — in no small part to try to wreck the ability of a Liberal government to manage the budget — is a classic cock-up, and a win for political timidity and the desire not to offend those who would never vote Liberal anyway.

And some of the measures in the government’s budget should never have been included in it at all.

As I have said before, what the government’s actions, or attempted actions, have added up to, to date — with an eye on the obscenities of the NDIS and the palpably unaccountable Gonski spending on Education — is a “conservative” government that has contrived a budget which, if enacted, might indeed restore the country’s finances to a stable footing, but with the effect that taxes are raised simply to maintain unsustainable and unjustifiable high spending on items no conservative government should be legislating to facilitate.

And to see how many people are happy with it, the polls should indeed be heeded: the Labor lead the two-party measure shows up might indeed be a house built on sand, but the existential danger to the Abbott government (and the Liberal Party in the longer run) is no less real despite that fact.

It’s not a particularly fashionable view, and certainly not in Liberal Party inner circles, but I think the government’s standing (as measured by the polls) would be far more secure if it was trying to implement a low-tax, smaller government agenda and failing instead of persisting with the “all things to all people” approach that is so obviously pleasing no-one.

In other words — and despite anything the idiot leader of the Labor Party would have you believe — I think the Liberals are losing more support from their core base than they are from those as outraged as the cretin Shorten is about broken promises. After all, and whilst even government MPs remain strangely silent about this point, Tony Abbott was explicit before last year’s election that if things were worse than feared, the Liberals “might have to do some things that aren’t popular.”

So it has transpired; despite his honesty at the time, Abbott and his government have taken the hit.

And just in case anyone thinks I’m tearing into my own side unduly, the pandering to “new” constituencies that began with Whitlam has made similar considerations on the Labor side of the ledger old news: it, too, is too busy purporting to represent people it doesn’t to effectively represent those it arguably always has.

So what gives?

It may be, in the absence of any fundamental realignment of the parties with their bases, that Australian politics continues to fracture, factionalise (in the classic sense), and become much more disparate.

Certainly, the Left has adapted to this reality already.

Yet it remains to be seen how the Right either can or will, if the likes of Palmer continue to pull votes away from its core.

For one thing, Palmer’s party (despite Clive Palmer’s erroneous pronouncements to the contrary) have already proven to be an impediment to the Liberals’ ability to win elections, not an augmentation of it on preferences.

For another, the train wreck that constitutes the crossbench in the Senate — like the similar vehicular accident that existed in the house of Representatives between 2010 and 2013 — is a salutary illustration of the complete breakdown in effective governance that occurs in Australia when minor parties, Independents, and get-square wrecking balls like Palmer find their way into Houses of Parliament.

I’ll be interested to see what readers make of all of this, and if there is sufficient conversation around this subject I am happy to write a follow-up in a week or two to continue the discussion, but as I see it there are really only three possible outcomes.

The first is the one that (regrettably) isn’t going to happen: the restoration of first-past-the-post voting at Australian elections; this is the system that was set up in the first place, like most other democratic countries, and which was squandered by politicians (some of them, yes, were conservatives) in the name of getting an electoral advantage.

In every case, I contend that advantage has been overturned with the passage of time; at present the edge is unquestionably enjoyed by Labor, with its sky-high flows of Green preferences. But that, too, may pass — one way or another.

Even if there was the will to restore the electoral system to its unbroken state, such changes need to pass a Parliament where self-interest (and in many cases electoral oblivion) make any consideration of real principle utterly redundant.

So that leaves the major parties returning to what they traditionally stand for, with the challenges of assembling 50% of the vote after preferences by annexing floating voters to their core: a task, which raw voting numbers show, has gown increasingly difficult over the past 25 years.

Or the parties continuing to splinter — and the fallout from that landing God only knows where, and with what consequences for effective government.

What do people think? “Freedom” through a return to the traditional principles of the respective parties, or “Death” by the continuation of the present processes of a thousand sabre cuts?

All ideas and thoughts are welcomed, but if anyone wants to advocate proportional voting as any kind of solution at all, don’t be surprised if it’s me that slaps it down…

 

*No, I haven’t forgotten the House of Lords. But stripped of its power to scupper legislation a century ago, its purpose is as a true house of review, unlike the seething hotbed of undemocratic and unrepresentative malevolence that the Australian Senate — in its current form — constitutes.

Perspectives On MH17, And On Handling Russia

IN THE AFTERMATH of an atrocity that saw 298 people needlessly slaughtered when their aeroplane was shot down in Ukrainian airspace, Russia has been the target of surprisingly unified international outrage; yet even now, there are reports of obfuscation and interference in enabling investigations of the disaster and the repatriation of the deceased to progress. Today, we look at a no-nonsense, commonsense approach to Putin’s Russia.

This is one of those posts in which I’m really only sharing something I have read; today it’s a piece from David Davis (the veteran Conservative Party MP and minister under John Major, not his namesake in the Victorian Parliament) which readers can peruse here.

Davis’ thesis — that it is time to end the appeasement of Russian President Vladimir Putin — is bang on the mark.

This time last week, we considered questions about Russia broadly and its behaviour under Putin specifically in some detail; those who missed the article at the time can access it (and a couple of other bits and bobs I linked it to) here, and as I said at the time it seems that any reluctance to condemn Russia for its culpability in the episode was misplaced.

Even now, though — amid the outrage the shootdown of flight MH17 has provoked — Russia is being given every opportunity to “prove” its bona fides as a “responsible” global citizen.

Yes, there are sanctions being applied to Russia by the US and the West. But whilst these will cause some inconvenience to Putin’s regime, they won’t hit Russia where it really hurts: by cutting it out of global financial circles altogether, and by preventing it from making a fortune selling energy to Europe — and holding it, quite literally, to ransom as it does.

Davis’ assessment is brutal in its candour, blunt in its resolve, yet nonetheless still proposes that Putin’s Russia be offered a carrot for its co-operation — with the real stick of isolating Russia altogether not just to be threatened for non-compliance, but actually implemented. I strongly urge readers to take the time to read the article I have shared.

There are three points I make.

One, that Davis is right: US President Barack Obama has handled Putin with kid gloves, which in turn has emboldened Russia to modernise and rearm both itself and its acolytes regionally — and this includes the so-called “separatists” in Ukraine who were the apparent culprits in shooting MH17 out of the sky. (I am not going to use the sanitised semantics preferred by Russia that present the plane as  “downed” over Ukraine: it was shot down, pure and simple).

The Obama presidency has, predictably, been an abject waste of time where international relations are concerned. Under the auspices of its purported “trust” in “partners” and its pursuit of “peace,” the US has perpetrated a ridiculous act of self-disarmament that (unsurprisingly) has not been met in kind by Russia; it has, in seeking to eschew conflict, allowed the outrages of militant Islamic violence in the Middle East to cost thousands of lives; and despite its rhetoric, it has allowed potential flashpoints involving Russia and China (at the top of a long list) to develop into problems that could trigger dangerous military conflagrations, where more a hawkish posture might have kept these things at bay.

Two, the carrot-and-stick approach Davis advocates is the only correct tack to take; it must be made clear that if Russia refuses to co-operate (as opposed to saying one thing and doing something else) then the funds it derives from trade with the West — and on which it relies to prevent economic collapse — will be summarily stopped. Davis is right that this would involve some real cost in the short term to the EU and countries like Britain as alternative sources of reliable energy are brought online, and quickly. But the failure to walk such a path would amount to no more than a continuation of the very appeasement he rightly rails against. The EU and Britain prospered without Russia for decades. There is no reason to believe they could not do so again.

And three, some will say that isolating Russia won’t work; that shutting it off from the free world will simply provoke it. The devastating response to such piffle is that embracing Russia hasn’t worked either; and unprovoked as it may or may not be now, it has certainly been working itself into a position of globally apocalyptic offensive capability largely on the back of what used to be called “petrodollars.” The fear of angering Russia has encouraged it to strengthen its hand. Putin has already demonstrated a willingness to flex the muscles of Russian military might and hold its fist aloft, as have some of his cronies. If “working with” Russia hasn’t worked, then cutting it off can only yield results that, at the very least, are no worse.

And lest there still remain those who think taking a stronger line against Russia is a madness confined to the lunar outskirts of reality, another excellent article I have seen this morning — this time from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper — more or less echoes the same sentiments expressed in this column, as well as those enunciated by David Davis and a growing number of prominent leaders and public figures across the free world.

Now that some time has passed since this shocking disaster occurred — and as voices such as these grow stronger, and louder, and face less resistance in mainstream discourse than they might have a fortnight ago — I am interested in what readers of this column might make of them: both in terms of the arguments raised in the articles I have featured, or in the brief comment I have made on the points raised in the Davis essay.

 

Sanctimonious Rhiannon Lucky Not To Be Killed In Sri Lanka

CALL ME HORRIBLE if you have to, but I have absolutely no sympathy whatsoever for Communist Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon; filled with self-important righteousness, her expedition to lecture Sri Lanka on “alleged” human rights abuses could well have got her killed. This woman is an idiot.

“I went to Sri Lanka to be the voice the Australian government has refused to be,” begins the noble account Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon gives of herself in The Guardian today.

Really? Since when did a former Communist, in Parliament only by virtue of proportional representation and on the ticket of a lunatic fringe party scoring 8% of the vote at an election, have any right to arrogate to herself a duty to speak on behalf of this country?

On foreign soil and to another country’s government, no less?

By now I think most people know about the incident I’m talking about: Sri Lanka is shortly to hold the latest Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) — to be chaired by Prince Charles — and there are elements across the Commonwealth who urge leaders to boycott the forum in protest over alleged excesses perpetrated by Sri Lankan forces upon Tamil insurgents during the now-ended civil war in that country.

Rhiannon (along with another Greens fruit cake from New Zealand, Jan Logie) had travelled to Sri Lanka on the pretext of doing something about “human rights abuses,” but — predictably — succeeded in making Australia an international embarrassment instead.

Indeed, they are lucky they weren’t killed.

First things first: for a bit of balance, here is the article from The Guardian, and coverage from the News Limited press here and here. I’d include something from Fairfax, but there doesn’t seem to be a report on their sites (readers may post one, however, in comments).

I’m not going to get into a discussion of the rights, wrongs or otherwise of the atrocities Rhiannon claims to be fighting against; “human rights abuses that the Sri Lankan government is allegedly involved in” (my italics) is the way she puts it in her own words.

People who want to know about that can simply read her justifications and excuses from The Guardian, which is why I have put a link to it in this article.

But I would make the observation that Sri Lanka, until relatively recently, was engaged in a brutal and bloody civil war: what did the Senator think would occur in such a conflict? A game of chess over a cup of tea?

Never mind though: whatever it is, loopy Lee Rhiannon from Australia and her kooky counterpart from Kiwiland will sort them all out.

Spare us!

Wars, by their very nature, involve violence and bloodshed and what Rhiannon would deem “atrocities,” and it seems no accident that her stunt just happens to coincide with Remembrance Day — the commemoration of the end of the first World War on 11 November 1918, and of the fallen from that and all subsequent wars.

This crusade by two politicians who should know better — even from the Greens — demeans the honour of Australians who fought gallantly in those conflicts and, frankly, is an insult to their memory.

Who the hell does Rhiannon think she is?

“I was very concerned that my liberty was denied to me for more than three hours,” Rhiannon said on her return to Australia yesterday, in a statement certain to fill her Sri Lankan captors with guilt and remorse.

People (and especially those supposedly imbued with the responsibility of elected office, like Rhiannon) must understand that when they travel to another country, Australian laws, customs and practices do not apply.

Rhiannon is lucky in the sense that here in Australia she’s free to say — and largely do — whatever she likes; as an adherent of the hard Left, a swag of United Nations treaties and the clauses of legislation around anti-discrimination also allow her to peddle material that is, to many, simply offensive and noxious.

But to go to a country like Sri Lanka and start lecturing the local government about this and that…if the worst they did to her was to lock her up and basically deport her, she should be counting her blessings.

There are some countries in which the activities Senator Rhiannon engaged in whilst in Sri Lanka would have got her shot. It’s no laughing matter.

Yet in the meantime, she’s safely back in Australia. Isn’t that lovely? I’m sorry if I am meant to feel any profound sense of relief, because I don’t.

And as ever with the Left, she still can’t get the story straight as she continues to peddle her odious agenda.

CHOGM is an important international forum; the 53 nations of the Commonwealth cover about a third of the world’s population, and CHOGM meetings represent opportunities for those countries to discuss and advance initiatives in trade, in tourism, and  in investment.

Rhiannon doesn’t think Australia should attend, as a show of defiance against the “alleged” human rights abuses she writes about, and points to boycotts of the forum by the leaders of India and Canada as showing the way forward.

Yet whilst Canadian PM Stephen Harper might well be boycotting CHOGM, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been at pains to point out in recent days that despite appearances to the contrary, his non-attendance at CHOGM is due to purely domestic political factors within India only.

So much for that.

The Greens are not harmless; behind the carefully confected shroud of giving a stuff about the environment and encouraging “harmless” protest votes lies a (global) movement that really does aspire to engineer societies that are truly socialist — or even Communist — in nature, which is why I keep banging on with the suggestion that readers who don’t believe it should get hold of the Greens’ platform and read it.

At the very minimum, it’s highly undemocratic: and “anti” most of the things reasonable people accept are fundamental and critical tenets of ordered, decent society in a civilised western democratic country such as ours.

It is offensive to the point of outrageous that Rhiannon and her ilk traipse around the world on their crusades, daring to suggest they speak for the Australian government when they do not, and having the temerity to point the finger at others when their own stupidity reaps its own consequences.

In this case it could have been far worse, and Rhiannon should be thankful she is alive.

Mercifully, the Greens neither constitute nor represent the Australian government, and — with the benefit of hindsight available to future Parliaments — the folly of the Gillard government in according this dangerous outfit such status must never be repeated.

Yet even if it was, Rhiannon speaks for nobody: a former Communist and Soviet sympathiser now sitting on the ultra-hard left flank of the Greens she may be, but in world terms (to say nothing of right here in Australia) she is an insignificance — and rightly so.

Statement About, And For Readers Of, The Writings Of Benjamin Fulford

AT TIME OF PUBLICATION — 5pm (Melbourne time) on 4 June 2013 — there has been close to 1,000 visits in the past twelve hours to an article, published on this site in April, relating to the possible investigation of Prime Minister Julia Gillard by fraud Police. It is necessary to issue the following statement.

The Red And The Blue is aware that an article published on this site — relating to possible Police investigation of the Prime Minister of Australia — was reposted overnight (without consultation or consent) on a website edited and published by a Benjamin Fulford.

As a result of the reposting of our article on the Fulford site it has attracted close to 1,000 visits, primarily from the United States of America and Canada, but also appears to have generated additional visits from links to Fulford’s site posted by his readers worldwide.

The Red And The Blue wishes to make it clear, in the clearest possible terms, that it has no connection whatsoever with Mr Fulford and neither endorses nor concurs with the views that form the substance of material published on his website.

We have reviewed Benjamin Fulford’s website and a selection of the links to it posted by his readers, and we suggest to those readers that any reference to the matters we raised regarding any Police investigation into the Prime Minister is irrelevant to the conspiracy theories he apparently seeks to peddle.

It is a matter of record that this column is resolute in its opposition to both the Prime Minister and her government.

Even so, we wish to assure Ms Gillard that we find the views expressed in Benjamin Fulford’s site to be repellant, and that we do not in any way agree with the defamatory and (we believe) factually incorrect statements made about her on that website.

We are also highly sceptical toward, and doubt the validity of, similar smears made by Mr Fulford against British Prime Minister David Cameron and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper — both of whose governments receive support from this column.

The Red And The Blue is committed to free speech, the frank exchange of views, and the freedom of all to express those views with candour and with rigour.

Even so, these liberties also extend to the right to dissent.

In this vein, we reiterate that we disagree totally with the material being propagated and disseminated on Benjamin Fulford’s website, and that we do not support or endorse his views or those of his adherents in any way, shape, or form.

We encourage Mr Fulford’s readers to consider his material with caution, and to exercise the responsibility that comes in tandem with the right to speak freely: namely, to avail themselves of the facts, through additional research, before forming a view of the veracity of a sensationalist publication that, in this case at least, is factually and morally incorrect as well as misleading.

In exercise of our right to free speech and opinion, and to mitigate against the propagation of Mr Fulford’s views to the extent we can, we decline to provide readers with a link to his site, and give notice that we will refuse to publish any comment from his readers seeking to install links, pingbacks or similar to his website through ours.

A copy of this statement will be provided to the Prime Minister’s office for their records.

Yale Stephens

Melbourne, Australia

4 June 2013