I’ve a good mind to drive round to that Andrew Bloggers4Labour and take a sledgehammer to his server. Since he started aggregating comments as well as posts it feels like PooterGeek has been under siege. Now, as regulars know, when someone’s got me bang to rights (see below), I own up, but please, people, can you read the posts before you comment? For the record (and repeating myself):
Much as crazed libertarians holed up in aluminium-coated geodesic domes on Dartmoor with bowie knives between their teeth would like it to be otherwise, my ID card post says nothing about compulsion to register or to offer papers on demand. I oppose both of these, neither of them are part of current legislation anyway, and neither of them stand an eclair at a health farm’s chance of getting past The Great British Public. I just think it would be convenient to have a reliable, all-purpose, and legally weighty form of identification to hand and, in itself, if the state makes such ID cards available I feel no threat to my rights.
My George Best post says clearly that I have no objection to people celebrating his footballing achievements, but have very strong objections to the way in which, even now, (male) members of the press not only indulge(d) his behaviour off the field because of his performance on it, but wax nostalgic about the days when men were men and women were “birds” and heroes shagged and drank and smoked too much and put their girlfriends in casualty. It’s disgusting and even Best himself became disgusted with it too.
My Margaret Thatcher post wasn’t intended to argue that she was stupid, but to point out that her intelligence was overestimated by many people—to her advantage and to their disadvantage—just as Ronald Reagan’s intelligence was underestimated. In itself her level of intelligence has no bearing on my assessment of the goodness or badness of her or her actions, but other people’s assessment of her intelligence had serious political consequences. Then, many people in the Labour Party failed to prevent her from doing serious damage because they were both handicapped by their own ideological clumsiness and fooled into thinking they faced in her a fiendishly clever and intellectually coherent enemy. Now, the failure of those both on the Left and Right to see through the myths built around her interferes with the serious business of assessing her place in history.
I have argued in the past that high intelligence can be a handicap to good leadership. In Thatcher’s case, however, it was her shocking lack not just of smarts, but of cunning, that led to her defeat as a leader. If her enemies had identified these weaknesses earlier they might have removed her sooner. Perhaps it was her coming to believe the myths about herself that took the time.
These are all unsupported personal observations and I hope they are independent of my intense dislike of the woman and, in turn, independent of my very mixed feelings about her policies. Peter might be surprised to read that I believe that some of the worst consequences of Thatcherism flowed from what I consider to be her lack of ideological conviction, but I’m damned if I’m going to do the necessary research to write an essay to back up my feelings about this and then mud-wrestle half the ‘Blogosphere about it in the comments afterwards.
Now go away, all of you; I’m trying to build some bookshelves.
I have argued in the past that high intelligence can be a handicap to good leadership.
That would be an interesting read if you have a link.
I read somewhere that – I think – the US Army considers a difference of more than 30 IQ points between leaders and led to be too great for effective leadership. Someone that smart isn’t able to communicate effectively with those he is supposed to be leading on the same level.
PG: “nothing about compulsion to register or to offer papers on demand. I oppose both of these, neither of them are part of current legislation anyway..”
What the government says and what they intend to do, are often two very different things. Overt compulsion may be off the adgenda, but there are indications that they are planning to compel you to hold an ID card anyway. There are reports that they are discussing with ‘buisness’ the prospect of the employeer requiring an ID card before they grant employment.
So, yes. You are right, the government will not compel you to obtain an Id card. You just won’t be able to function in a society that demands one for every relitively simple act, if you don’t have one.
PG: “I just think it would be convenient to have a reliable, all-purpose, and legally weighty form of identification to hand…”
Then go get yourself a passport.
PG: “…in itself, if the state makes such ID cards available I feel no threat to my rights.”
The right not to be incarcerated with out trial has just been removed.
The right not to be tried twice for the same offence has been removed.
The right of free speech has been curtailed and shortly will be removed altogether.
The right to freely associate has been removed.
Now the right to remain anonymous in society (if you want to) is due to be removed too.
What rights are you thinking of?
Come on man, surely “Blogosphere” (dread word!) doesn’t need to start with an apostrophe.
No, no! Don’t get him started on the use of the apostrophe on the word blog. Or indeed, the use of a capital ‘I’ when talking about the internet…
erm, dunno if it helps, but I agreed with what you said about Best, in my comment there I was having a go at the other commenters.. :S
can’t you put an apostrophe anywhere you want in your own “‘ ‘ ” blog by the way?
Well said, anon. Although I am not now and never have been a crazed libertarian, nor had a geodesic dome (only a shed), and have never owned a bowie knife. I live in a country where such things have been used, for example, to enforce separation of the races, to provide a handy reference for the security police and other useful features for the police state.
I have one now (and refused to have one during the apartheid era) because I can’t perform simple transactions with banks and other entities otherwise.
That doesn’t mean I think it’s OK now. It’s not.
And the presumption that the ID card will not be misused is in my experience
a profoundly misconceived one. Labour has given enough bloody warnings of how much control it really wants, as Anon capably points out.
Oh dear, I did not mean to suggest geodesic domes and bowie knives had been used to enforce apartheid, though in its infinite variety of compulsions, they may well have. By “such things” I meant “ID cards” and should of course have said so.
These are all unsupported personal observations and I hope they are independent of my intense dislike of the woman and, in turn, independent of my very mixed feelings about her policies.
Sorry – I don’t think they are. The fact that Mrs Thatcher didn’t pay attention to what a 17- (16-?) year old was saying at some school visit is just no evidence whatsoever of her intellectual abilities.
Other people picked up the argument when I went off home last night, but let me just say this: It’s your blog and you can dislike whoever you want – you’re very honest about it which makes you blog worth reading. But I still think you are letting your (legitimate) dislike of her blind you to the fact that almost everyone who met her (apart from you) came away with the impression that they had been in the presence of a very sharp mind.
Now it may be, as you said, that most of that sort of perceived “sharpness” is down to “being arsed” but if you go down that route all arguments become a little silly – sure I’m cleverer than Einstein, but he just happened to write down his theory of relativity and I couldn’t be arsed.
FWIW I’ve also heard some rumours Ronnie was cleverer than people thought (which wouldn’t be too difficult, given the general low opinion of him) but even supposing it’s true, he certainly hid his light under a helluva bushel. As it was, given his nickname as the Great Communicator and Mr. Cuthbertson’s US army factoid [above] I’d peg him as just another guy who could be arsed.
No. This wasn’t at St Custard’s in front of reporters from the Custardton Crier; this was at the Royal Institution in front of the national media. To the organisers’ surprise, she had made a special point of taking part in the proceedings because she had an active interest in what was happening. She insisted specifically both on talking to the students she was presenting to (and there were only five of us) and their parents—against the wishes of her advisers who wanted her to move on somewhere else. Two of us were specialising in chemistry.
No. There is a clear and widely recognised difference between the kinds of mental abilities required to accumulate and retain information and the kinds of mental abilities required to manipulate and apply it. Studying science in particular finds this out.
For example, some students can only rote-learn proofs and formulae; others are capable of deriving them unaided from first principles. I tend to think of the latter as brighter—though they are often tempted to be lazier.
There are lots of points in between. You cite Einstein. Interestingly, he wasn’t the greatest mathematician, but what he lacked in the ability to manipulate symbols was more than made up for by his special talent in the manipulation of concepts and his astonishing physical imagination. Similarly, there are many myths about his intellectual abilities that get in the way of our recognizing his achievements: contrary to the fairy tales, he was a good pupil in school.
My consistent impression of Thatcher, even at her peak, even in her areas of special political interest, was of a person who was a robust negotiator, but one who found it difficult to construct robust arguments, to reason subtly, to counter her cleverest critics with substance. You only have to look at her record of choices of public interviewers and opponents to see that, while many individuals were afraid of her supposed mastery of a brief, she herself was terrified of taking part in open debate because she could be caught out, devastatingly, by a clever opponent who could be arsed to marshal the facts.
None of these things made her a bad person or even (most of the time) a bad politician, but her smarter and lazier enemies failed to their cost to recognise that these things made her (narrowly) vulnerable.
FWIW I’ve also heard some rumours Ronnie was cleverer than people thought (which wouldn’t be too difficult, given the general low opinion of him) but even supposing it’s true, he certainly hid his light under a helluva bushel.
Exactly the same claims have been made about George W Bush, and I get the distinct impression that he’s not just encouraging but deliberately exaggerating rumours about his intellectual ineptitude in order to wrong-foot his opponents.
I know he had a fairly hefty advantage in terms of money, influence and high-powered contacts, but I’ve never been under the impression that Harvard simply handed out MBAs to anyone who offered them enough money.
This Businessweek article about his time there is hugely speculative, but certainly doesn’t suggest that he disgraced himself intellectually.
> I’ve also heard some rumours Ronnie was cleverer than people thought (which wouldn’t be too difficult, given the general low opinion of him) but even supposing it’s true, he certainly hid his light under a helluva bushel.
No, he didn’t. His speeches and policies show plenty of intelligence, not to mention eloquence. What he wasn’t was an intellectual. Intellectuals tend to conflate intellectualism with intelligence, and intellectuals tend to work in those professions — journalism, history, teaching, politics — who get to tell the rest of us what sort of a man the President is, if we can be bothered listening.
I would have said that discussions about the merits of Thatcher as a thinker kind of miss the point. The important thing is to recognise that Thatcherism existed as a coherent ideological construct, and it had more of a resonance with key voter segments than anything her political opposition were capable of mustering.
Somebody once said ‘ideas shouldn’t be held accountable for the people who hold them’ and I kind of agree with that. I don’t know if I will have my compliance chip adjusted for saying this but I’m not sure politics really requires leaders to be great thinkers (it’s a bonus but you can get others to do it if needs be) however, it does require them to have good leadership and communication skills. Anyway, as far as Thatch goes, I always understood that Keith Joseph did most of her thinking; she was better with gut instinct and dumbing down.
The power to compel registration is in s.6 of the present Bill, and the government has said that they anticipate moving to a compulsory scheme as soon as they can; the power to compel registration on application for other (“designated”) documents is in s.4 (the Bill doesn’t say which documents will be “designated”, but the government suggests passports, Criminal Records Bureau check letters, and I think driving licences; it’s suggested that passports will be designated as soon as they have the Register working); the power to compel people to present their papers for access to any public service is in s.15, and note s.15(2) about the relationship between compulsory registration and identity checks. There is as yet no power for (e.g.) a constable to demand papers at any time, though.
Quoting from your friends at NO2ID:
(my emphasis in both cases).
In what sense is s.6 part of the current legislation? In this sense:
Note that if either House objects, the whole process goes back to the start.
Your citing of s4 is a red herring because those affected will already have registered with a central agency for some other form of ID.
In what sense are the powers you claim in s15 part of current legislation? In this sense:
So compulsion is in the bill in the same way that I am in the pool of footballers from which Sven Göran-Eriksson will be choosing the England squad for the World Cup Finals.
I’ll make a public bet here. If a single otherwise innocent person is prosecuted in the UK for non-registration and/or non-production of an ID card within the next 20 years, Chris, I’ll buy you a very nice bottle of wine from that independent wine-seller on the Mill Road.
You’ve forgotten to quote the end of s.15(2):
— i.e., once compulsory registration (of the whole, or a part, of the population) has been brought in, the safeguards you quote no longer apply to those compulsorily registered.
You’re quite correct about the double-affirmitive procedure, by the way — that’s an acknowledged bug in the legislation; but note also, (emphasis mine),
— this has been stated consistently throughout the lifetime of the present Bill. The deadlock in the super-affirmative procedure is supposed to be being fixed, though I don’t think the relevant amendment has been made yet.
Not sure what you mean by this. s.4 will be used to force people to get an ID card — and to be registered on the NIR — at the same time as getting a passport or whatever. Presently, anyone can get a passport without having to get an ID card or be on the NIR.
Do you mean “a passport is indistinguishable from an ID card, so you shouldn’t worry about having both”? If so, read schedule 1 of the Bill again. Or do you mean “having a passport is voluntary, so even if you’re made to have an ID card with one, it’s still voluntary”?
Well, I’d be tempted to take that on, if you substitute for “prosecuted”, “prosecuted or made subject to a civil penalty or any like sanction”, and insert “the Identity Cards Bill 2005 or another substantially similar Bill having been passed and not then repealed” after “20 years”.
Just revisiting this since I was having a discussion with wrok-mates about the benefits of self-discipline (“being arsed”) vs. the benefits of raw native intelligence.
Anyway, I thought this article was interesting.
Hmmmm…that’s work-mates (pimf)