Saturday, July 30, 2005

Archbishop warns on terror response

I can only say that I agree with the Cardinal. Given our reputation for staying cool under pressure, and given the apparently calm response of ordinary people to terrorism in London, it is strange that the Government feels there are votes to be gained from imitating a headless chicken.

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | Archbishop warns on terror response

Friday, July 29, 2005

Shot Brazilian was here with a fake visa

The smear campaign against the wicked young Brazilian who dared to embarrass our beloved government by getting shot continues. He came as a student, overstayed and worked as an electrician. Obviously he therefore deserved to die. I am glad we cleared that up.

The intellectual firepower of Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair is once more on impressive display. He is quoted here as saying that his officers, the killers, "faced the risk of certain death." Classic. If it was certain, it wasn't a risk, Ian. And as it never happened, it can't have been certain.

What they actually faced, poor loves, was the remote risk of meeting an electrician in London. They would certainly never have shot him if they knew what he did for a living. Electricians are so hard to find that they probably wouldn't have killed him even if he were a jihadist, had they been aware.

Let's hope they don't kill any more tradesmen. Thanks to having equipped the the whole working class with marketing degrees to lend some style to their idleness, we probably have more suicide bombers in Britain than we have competent plumbers.

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | Shot Brazilian was here with a fake visa

Thursday, July 28, 2005

IRA 'expected to issue statement'

How are we supposed to feel when our government orders the release of a vicious killer like Sean Kelly? Kelly left a bomb in a fish shop, killing nine people. Now he is free. The government is giving the IRA everything it wants, releasing murderer after murderer to swagger around Northern Ireland's bars as "heroes" for the rest of their lives; walking insults to every decent Ulsterman - and the memory of Ulster's dead.

The government isn't even putting the terrorists to the test as to the seriousness of their peaceful intentions. No weapons are to be handed over. No interval is to elapse between cessation of criminal activities and the release of IRA members. The government is simply taking the IRA thugs at their word. Actually they are taking them at a word not yet spoken, with the latest release made "in anticipation" of an IRA "statement". What message does this send to others in Britain inclined to terrorism?

Would an Ulsterman who shot Kelly be convicted of murder, if his defence was he thought Kelly might have a concealed bomb? It would be a more reasonable supposition than that made by the policeman who recently shot Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent man with no terrorist history.

I doubt the government would use taxpayers money to send Kelly's killer on holiday, as the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has reportedly done for the officer who shot de Menezes eight times; seven into his head as he was held down, helpless.

The ethical degenerates who lead us are more likely to buy holidays for IRA killers.

BBC NEWS | Northern Ireland | IRA 'expected to issue statement'

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Ten core values of the British identity

Today another YouGov poll is published in the Daily Telegraph. I cannot remember being so happy to read a set of results. There have been times in the past 10 years when I felt I was drifting away from my nation; that it was adopting a set of values that I could not share. I have been sickened by spin (a euphemism for lies) and political correctness (a social requirement to tell lies). I have been sickened by the hostility of our Establishment to Britain's culture and values. Our leaders, it seems, would back anybody against us. Most of my fellow-countrymen are apolitical. They get on with their lives without worrying about such things. So my family and friends could not understand my concerns and I thought that my view of what it means to be British was going out of fashion.

Today's poll shows that I was wrong. The "ten core values" listed by the Telegraph today - based on the poll - are mine. It took terrorist attacks to make us think about the issue; to politicise us enough to wonder - as I have been wondering for a decade - what it is that really matters to us. It has taken bombs and death to make us consider what "non-negotiable values" we expect our immigrants to subscribe to.

If you compare the Telegraph leader today with the very first entry in this blog, you might wonder why I am worried enough to spend time every day posting my thoughts here about freedom, civil liberties and Britishness.

It may yet prove that the terrorists who seek to divide us have brought us together. I hope so.

Telegraph | Opinion | Ten core values of the British identity

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Don't wait for a marksman - get stuck in

Congratulations to Mark Steyn on finding humour in a situation depressing many lesser mortals. To be serious for a moment though, let me examine his phrase "extrajudicial execution". Parliament, to its shame, has repealed that part of Magna Carta which says that we may only be imprisoned by "..the judgement of our peers..." That is why I began this blog. I am not aware, however, that it has yet repealed the part that says we may not be "...otherwise destroyed..." except after such a judgement.

Murder consists of the act of killing plus the intent to kill (or cause grievous bodily harm). The police officers who put eight bullets into the head of a young electrician in London killed with such intent. I cannot conceive what defence is available to them. Self-defence? I think not. What reasonable grounds to fear for their lives did they have? They thought he might be a terrorist on a suicide run. OK, but what jury would believe you or me if we killed and then pleaded self-defence on the grounds that "I thought he had a bomb in his anorak". And if they really thought that, why did they follow him for so long? What was suspicious about his behaviour seems to be that he entered the Underground. As he did every day. As millions do every day.

If they were "only following orders", that is no defence either. On the contrary, it should make the ones who gave the orders, including the Prime Minister, the Home Secretary and the Chief Constable of the Metropolitan police, their co-defendants.

Steyn makes the darkly humorous point that the Metropolitan Police are somewhat hypocritical in demanding that we don't "second guess" their snap judgements in the face of danger. As he says, this "would be a more persuasive argument if the British constabulary didn't spend so much time doing exactly that to homeowners who make the mistake of defending themselves against violent criminals". Armed, trained policemen are it seems, less able to make snap judgements than terrified householders fearing for their lives from intruders in their homes.

Or to put it another way, one law for them, another for the rest of us.

Telegraph | Opinion | Don't wait for a marksman - get stuck in

Sunday, July 24, 2005

No reason to suspect Brazilian'

At times since I started this blog, I have worried whether my fears were getting out of proportion. This morning, I think not. We are not building a police state in Britain. We have built one.

Plain-clothes policemen shot a young Brazilian electrician for no better reason, it seems, that in the British "Summer", when hardy Anglo-Saxons wear light clothing, he was cold enough to wear a heavy jacket. Police thought it might conceal a bomb and - adopting the tactics of the Israeli security forces - shot him in the head before he could detonate the imagined device. This is not the England I grew up in.

Where is our thespian Prime Minister now? The man spends almost two thousand pounds a year of our money on cosmetics. Why isn't his fake-tanned, Max-Factored, lying face on our TV screens now - his lip doing its trademark tremble as he expresses his "sincere sorrow" at this horror? Why isn't his namesake - the head of the Metropolitan Police - tendering his resignation?

Why, for that matter, isn't the PM tendering his own? I do not believe that "shoot to kill" on the Tube has been adopted as a policy without his approval. So casually does the government take this that the killer is not even suspended from duty and his boss the Home Secretary is off on his holidays. According to BBC radio news this morning, "nobody was available" from Scotland Yard or the Home Office to be interviewed today. That's whaat an innocent young life is worth in Blair's Britain.

It seems that hundreds of plain-clothes officers are mingling with passengers on the Tube, ready to do this to any dark-skinned individual with a rucksack or a heavy coat. With tactics like this, you are probably more likely to be killed by a British policeman on London's public transport than by a terrorist. Any of us suddenly confronted by a man in jeans with a gun might have run, whether he was shouting "police" or not.

London is, or was, was a tourist city. Anyone whose English is not up to snuff, had better stay away now. Judging by reports, you will not have a lot of time to consider what is being shouted at you by the armed man in jeans before he tops you. I have spent 14 years living in cities where I have to speak a foreign language. Believe me, when stressed, it can be hard to comprehend even if you are normally quite fluent.

Because the victim was a foreign citizen, we can at least hope for an explanation. The Metropolitan Police's tactics are "classified" and we British citizens are not entitled to know what behaviours on our part might put us at risk. I hope that, when the Brazilian ambassador is told what the tactics are, he will share them with us.

In the meantime, we had better treat every police officer with the same fawning, grovelling deference as if Britain were the old Soviet Union and he were in the KGB. Piss him off and all he needs is a half-cocked excuse to shoot you. That is the psychology that turned the KGB into a roaming gang of thieves and sexual predators in Stalin's Moscow. I am sure there are few, if any, policemen that bad in the force today. But imagine what kind of sadists will be attracted by such powers.

Do you still feel like a free citizen of a great democracy this Sunday? Those who begin by burning books will end up burning people. This Government began by burning Magna Carta. God only knows where it will end.

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | 'No reason to suspect Brazilian': "Jean Charles de Menezes, 27"

Saturday, July 23, 2005

BBC NEWS | UK | Shot man not connected to bombing

Now this is a disaster. We will have angry and paranoid Muslims all over Britain - and who can really blame them? Some better explanation is needed. Did he run when challenged? What reasonable cause did the police have to believe he was a threat? Was he warned that he would be shot if he continued to run?

This man was essentially executed without trial, so there had better be a good reason. That he was a suspect carrying a bag emerging from a flat under surveillance might have been good enough for the KGB in the old USSR, but surely not in Britain - even the Britain of the Prevention of Terrorism Act?

I am not rushing to judgement on the police. I am just saying that a better justification is rapidly needed. If there is none better than offered so far, then we are in real trouble.

BBC NEWS | UK | Shot man not connected to bombing

One in four Muslims sympathises with motives of terrorists

This YouGov poll for the Telegraph looks scarier than the Sky News poll I mentioned yesterday. However, there are glimmers of hope. 70% of British Muslims would report suspicious activities in their communities to the police. That serves to counteract the other findings, some of which are rendered doubtful by the phrasing of the questions.

The Telegraph headlines that 25% of British Muslims "sympathise with the motives" of the terrorists. However, only 1% (translating to 16,000 individuals) are prepared to embrace violence themselves. 6% (96,000) believe the terrorists' actions were fully justified. Presumably they are among the 100,000 Muslims who feel no loyalty to Britain. Those people are our problem, not the 400,000 who sympathise with the London bombers motives.

Since we don't know what the dead terrorists' motives really were, there is room for interpretation. Many non-Muslim Brits want our troops out of Iraq. If the bombers wanted to force a troop withdrawal, then those non-Muslims "...sympathise with the motives...". Those many millions are not inclined to murder, so it's wrong to infer anything worse from the same views held by Muslims.

The most worrying aspect of all this is the fact that the rest of us know so little about our 1.7 million Muslim fellow-citizens. That's our fault and theirs. They arrived, lived, worked and raised families here in apparent isolation. Our much-vaunted multicultural society seems to involve cultures living in parallel, sharing physical but not ethical space. A multicultural society is possible, but a multi-ethical society is not.

The problem seems to be with values. Brits have them, but we are quiet about them; we are too timid about promoting them. For example, we believe women are free and equal. Many of our Muslims don't. As an opinion, that's to be respected, but when it's put into action it goes beyond a "lifestyle choice". Keeping women in subjection, still less (in the most extreme examples) killing them for dishonouring their families, is incompatible with being British. It's nothing to do with Islam. It's just cultural baggage imported from the primitive societies these immigrants left behind.

By "tolerating" mistreatment of women, we have not been kind or gentle. We have betrayed Muslim women and we have given entirely the wrong message. If immigrants had been challenged on this issue and others, they would have understood that becoming a British citizen required some changes in their thinking. Those who could not live with that would have stayed away or left. Those who could, would have integrated better.

We did not engage with our immigrants. We left it to the left-wingers in our education system, local authorities and social services to do so. They, let's face it, have made a complete hash of things. Everyone who got their job through a "Guardian" advertisement in the last 30 years shares the blame. France has many more Muslims, but theirs do not seem to be the poisonous threat to civilisation that 100,000 of ours have become. Maybe the much-criticised headscarves ban in French schools is just a small symptom of a more civilised approach?

Telegraph | News | One in four Muslims sympathises with motives of terrorists

Friday, July 22, 2005

NY commuters face random searches

I can't see that such searches are unconsitutional, as long as the subway contract conditions are first changed to provide for passengers to give permission to be searched by the act of buying a ticket.

However, I really don't think it's sensible for New York's police chief to be giving assurances that the searches will be truly random. That merely guarantees that a large number of people are inconvenienced pointlessly, just to make up the ethnic numbers.

We didn't make police investigate a quota of non-Irish people during the IRA campaign so as not to appear "racist". The many innocent Irish who must have been inconvenienced by the police constantly looking for suspects in their community had the decency not to complain about it.

I was blackly amused by all our attempts to convince each other that the 7th July bombers were "tricked" into suicide. Since yesterday's attackers knew what happened on 7th July, presumably we can now discount such theories. The truth is that non-Muslims simply can't conceive of such fanaticism and always look for some other explanation. In Israel, stories circulate of children taken hostage to force mothers to carry bomb belts for exactly that reason. Maybe some such stories are true. But the sad truth is that Islam produces a plentiful supply of volunteers.

According to a poll conducted yesterday for Sky News, more than half of British Muslims see themselves as "Muslim first and British second". I did not find that shocking. Anyone who has religious faith is likely to put God before country. In the far-off days when we were religious, our patriotic slogan was "God, King and Country". If we start to demand that our Muslims put country before God, we will be following a dangerous route.

I was much more concerned that 2% of those polled (which translates to about 35-40,000 British Muslims) actually supported the London bombings. That's a large pool of potential terrorists.

It is time to drop the politically-correct nonsense on both sides of the Atlantic. Of course the prime suspects will be Muslims. If the security forces go in fear of being denounced as racists, we will never deal with this problem. If the Muslim community show themselves to be more concerned about such "discrimination" than about catching terrrorists, they will do themselves no favours.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | NY commuters face random searches

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Violent offences top million mark

I don't suppose anyone in Britain will see the irony of rising gun crime in a gun-free society. Of course, there are plenty of guns - it's only criminals that have them. We have disarmed decent citizens so that criminals can be sure of meeting no resistance unless they happen upon a police officer - and what are the chances of that that with 95% of them at any given time sitting quietly filling in forms?

BBC NEWS | Politics | Violent offences top million mark

No proof bombers Muslims - Bakri

Technically of course, he's right. Somehow, however, I don't thing Omar Bakri Mohammed has the presumption of innocence in mind. That he should live in Britain for 20 years and then state publicly that he would not co-operate with the British police, even to alert them to another terrorist attack - suggests we are not doing so well at integrating him into our society.

Many of us are reluctant to cooperate with a British police force which has become politicised, bureaucratic and biased against the middle classes. Distrustful though we may feel however, I am sure we would ring 999 without hesitation if there was a 1% chance to save an innocent life.

That he sees more reason to condemn the elected leaders of the free world, than to condemn Osama bin Laden, suggests it's time we gave up trying to integrate Mr Mohammed. In fact, if we have not been so rash as to give citizenship to this barbarian, then I see no reason why he should not be on the very next plane to Syria.

If he were a citizen, he would have every right to his bizarre views as long as he did not put them into action or incite others directly to do so. If he is a Syrian citizen however, then let Syria respect his rights.

BBC NEWS | UK | No proof bombers Muslims - Bakri

PM attacked over unruly pupils plan

If you wonder why so many children are out of control, wonder no more. The answer is in the quote below. Some British parents think the State brings up their children and that they only have to take responsibility if the State lets them down.

"'It is so frustrating for parents that every time the Government reaches a point where they don't know what to do with children they tell us 'It's your responsibility, you get on with it'.'"

Margaret Morrissey, spokeswoman for the The National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | PM attacked over unruly pupils plan

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Government borrowing reaches June high

We seem, to an amateur observer of the financial scene, to have all the ingredients necessary for a credit crunch. On the one hand, the Government wants to encourage more borrowing - both to sustain the house price growth that produces an irrational "feel good" effect in the British and to sustain the consumer-led boom which has done so much for so long to make New Labour popular (and to mask the effect of dozens of stealth taxes).

On the other hand, the Government's own borrowing requirement is doing what the borrowing requirements of feckless governments must always do. The Government must either tax us to pay its debts (forcing us to restrict our spending) or compete with us in the debt market, thus driving up interest rates (and forcing us to restrict our spending).

On this, there is no "third way" - if there ever was on anything else.

Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Government borrowing reaches June high

The men who blame Britain

It does not matter that these men blame us. The only question now is whether we are so weak as to blame ourselves.

Let's assume for one weak moment, that all the criticisms voiced by Omar Bakri Mohammed, Ken Livingstone, Imam Ibrahim Mogra, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, and Anjem ("The real terrorists are the police") Choudary are true. Let's assume these loyal citizens are sincerely identifying dangers to their nation. It is still the case that no errors of judgement in foreign policy; no unfortunate alliances in old wars; no mistakes in policing Muslim communities, can justify the murder of innocents. Still less can it justify treason, which is what was committed in London by four British citizens of the Muslim faith who took up arms against their homeland.

Telegraph | News | The men who blame Britain

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A victory for multiculti over common sense

It is an index of how far Brits have lost confidence in their right to exist, that this article comes over as radical. Take it sentence by sentence though, and think about each carefully and what exactly is wrong with it?

If a Frenchman loves his culture and wants to preserve it, that doesn't make him a racist. Guess what, it doesn't make an Englishman a racist either. It's time to take back patriotism from the far right (no true patriots as they are opposed to so much of what it means to be British) and restore it to where it belongs, in the hearts and minds of the British people. Only when we feel it ourselves are we entitled to expect our immigrants to learn to feel it too.

Telegraph | Opinion | A victory for multiculti over common sense

Controversial cleric visit defended

I would prefer that this man was allowed to speak. It's better that we know who our enemies are - and he is clearly one of them.

I find it hard to imagine, however, that the people inviting him to England really expect him to promote "cultural and religious diversity".

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | Controversial cleric visit defended

Brown rejigs rules to help budget

For the third time I ask; what must this man to do be fired?

BBC NEWS | Business | Brown rejigs rules to help budget

Monday, July 18, 2005

Think tank warns over Bush alliance

This article presents a dilemma. Ignoring the snide tone of anti-Americanism for the moment (probably introduced by the Daily Mail anyway), I agree with the basic conclusions of the Chatham House "think tank." It concludes that Britain faces increased exposure to terrorism because of our alliance with the USA in the war against terror. So what? What exactly are we supposed to do with the Chatham House conclusions? Repudiate the United States? Declare a jihad? Award posthumous knighthoods to the London suicide bombers?

We can disagree over tactics in this war. The allies have clearly made a mess of post-invasion issues in Iraq. Bush and Blair are to be criticised severely for their lack of forethought. We can even disagree over whether Iraq was the right place to start in confronting the sick fanatics of Islam. The heart of Islamic darkness is in Saudi Arabia. Maybe we should have started there? But then imagine the reaction if the "infidels" were now in possession of Mecca. The bleeding hearts of the British Left would be denouncing our cultural insensitivity.

We are now locked in a struggle to the death with evil men. It's not our choice. They began it on 9/11. That rather implies that our enemies will get us if we don't get them first. So let's get them. Doing so with the support of the world's leading military power seems likely to be more effective than doing it alone. The faster and the more lethally we deal with our enemies, the sooner they will be unavailable to our rulers as an excuse to restrict our freedoms.

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | Think tank warns over Bush alliance

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Re-Britannification of Britain

It's a shame Boris Johnson's image is so poor, because the man talks sense. If we facilitate separate existence for our immigrants - providing government literature in foreign languages, kow-towing to every culture but our own, then can we expect any better than to breed our own enemies?

I have had the honour to administer the oath of allegiance to many new Britons in my time. I always shook their hand and welcomed them to citizenship. As far as I am concerned, all are welcome to be British if they come in peace and with a genuine desire to become part of our society. Most do.

Boris is right that we must also stop being embarrassed about our own nation and its symbols. Fly the flag. Why not?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The rescuer's story

If you want to know what I think defines "Englishness" read the comments of this British Transport Policeman in this article. If he isn't knighted in the next Honours List, there is no order in the Universe at all.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | The rescuer's story

Not Proud Of Britain (But Would Like To Be): Slap in the face

"Perhaps the US Air Force will also avoid sending personnel to Iraq as I've heard it's nearly as dangerous as London"

Well said sir!!

Not Proud Of Britain (But Would Like To Be): Slap in the face

Telegraph | News | BBC edits out the word terrorist

This story is rather more than disappointing. If a bomber who kills innocent civilians without warning in pursuit of a political objective is not a terrorist, then who is?

It is time the BBC was closed. It serves no useful purpose and its loyalties are - to say the least - questionable.

Telegraph | News | BBC edits out the word terrorist

Telegraph | News | US airmen told to stay away from capital

This story is very disappointing. While President Bush praises our stoicism, US air force upper lips are trembling. Not good, guys. Please fix it.

Telegraph | News | US airmen told to stay away from capital

Islam does incubate terrorism

The victims will not have died in vain if the "identity-group grievance industry" suffers as a consequence of the London bombings. Free speech is as important during hostilities as during peace. Bitter things are being said on both sides. Of course there are ignorant non-Muslims blaming the entire Muslim community. So what? Such people hold all kinds of stupid opinions, but we don't take any notice of those. Why should we care about this particular one? On the other hand, on Sky News last night, I watched a Birmingham Muslim denounce Christian clergy for speaking about the London bombings when they had not spoken out about "the deaths of Muslims in Fallujah". How stupid was that?

That feelings run high is understandable. Such comments may be unfair, but it is far easier to argue with them if they are said openly. Repressing "incorrect" ideas merely strengthens them as they fester unexpressed (and unchallenged) in the breasts of their adherents. If 80 years of atheist Soviet repression could not stamp out Orthodox Christianity, I very much doubt if the government's new "anti-hate" legislation will eliminate negative views of Islam.

Of course no-one, Muslim or otherwise, is guilty until proven so. Of course no-one should hold any group collectively responsible for the actions of individuals within that group. But that applies to all groups, not just the favoured groups of the ruling Left. It was - to say the least - rather rude of the spokesmen for British Muslims that their first reaction to the London bombs was to warn about increased "islamophobia".

I don't think many Brits are islamophobic. Of course some are. In such difficult times, I confess to wondering myself - when the British immigration officer checking my passport is a veiled lady Muslim - whether she is really the best person to guard our borders from Muslim fanatics. I wonder how much she has really adapted to our society; in short where her true loyalties lie. Is that "islamophobic"? I don't know.

Islamophobic views will fade naturally as we are exposed to repeated positive experiences of Muslims. We are not going to hate our colleague at work or the nice man who serves us in the newsagents just because some moron who professes the same religion has done this horrible thing. That would be as crazy as blaming every Russian for Stalin's crimes. To suggest that we are so crazy is, frankly, offensive. Yet, as Steyn points out in the referenced article, that is what British ministers, policemen and Muslim leaders are doing.

There is an opportunity for Britain's Muslims now to show their true loyalties. Not only can they denounce the bombers, they can help catch them. If, as seems likely, the bombers live and work in Britain (why smuggle them across borders when there are thousands of nutcases at home?) someone, somewhere, has the information to convict them. I really hope that the people turn them in are Muslims. It would do more than any law could do to improve "community relations".

The Scots and Welsh may be obsessed by embittered ethnicity, but England has a proud history of tolerance. We have welcomed and absorbed so many immigrants that we have no ethnicity to defend. We are mongrels, identified not by our skin colour or religion but by a collection of ideas. Tolerance, justice and liberty are among the grander ones. Politeness, calmness under pressure and a sense of humour used to be among the smaller ones. I was proud to see them re-emerge in adversity as they did last Thursday.

Mark Steyn's comments may not be politically correct, but they are timely. Nothing is more likely to promote resentment against Muslim Britons than lying about them, or suppressing comments about them. It is - as Steyn says - "drivel" for a leading policeman to say "Islam and terrorism don't go together". There is no point lying about it. At this point in history, sadly, they do. It is for Muslims to show that they need not.

Telegraph | Opinion | Islam does incubate terrorism

Monday, July 11, 2005

Telegraph | News | New anti-terror laws could be brought forward

As I predicted, Blair is already talking about new laws. He is playing political games with our dead.

Nothing was LAWFUL about the murders committed on the 7th July in London. We don't need new laws. We just need enforcement of the old ones.

Let's give the police the chance to complete their investigation and catch the murdererers.

Telegraph | News | New anti-terror laws could be brought forward

Pakistan 'moral laws' spark row

Our allies in the "war against terror" seem a little unreliable. It is hard to see how any religious person can see a benefit in compelling adherence to moral laws. If a person lives his whole life in seething desire to sin, but is prevented from doing so by a religious police, is God likely to be impressed?

No democracy is complete without respect for minority rights. If a majority of voters are of a particular relgion, that does not give them the right to compel religious (or atheist) minorities to comply with their religion's rules.

BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | Pakistan 'moral laws' spark row

Councils 'must collect all debts'

Collecting debts is a good idea, but making people responsible for other peoples' debts is not. Isn't it typical of left-wing organisations that their solution to the failure of tenants to pay their council tax is to have landlords responsible for "making" them do so? Of course, landlords will have no way to "make" tenants pay and so will no doubt end up being responsible for the debts themselves.

BBC NEWS | UK | Councils 'must collect all debts'

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Email spying 'could have stopped killers'

As predicted, the Government steps up its campaign against our privacy and freedom using the recent London bombings as justification.

Law enforcement authorities should be able to inspect email correspondence by order of a court where there are reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed by the correspondents. Indiscriminate invasions of privacy are quite another matter.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Email spying 'could have stopped killers'

Saturday, July 09, 2005

ID cards 'wouldn't stop attacks'

"They wouldn't help, but we want them anyway" seems to be the Government's position on ID Cards in the wake of the London bombings. "Terrorists will not change our way of life", but "civil liberties might have to be curtailed" is Charles Clarke's squalid doublespeak, if not actual doublethink, reported here.

That the British people have dangerous enemies is not news. It remains to be seen whether they are from within or without. I can't help but fear that the naming of Syrian and North African suspects is more to do with community relations than crime detection. The biggest threat to our way of life,however, is not from feeble-minded barbarians, but from the Labour Government.

For now, ministers are doing their best to make political capital. The carefully modulated catches in Blair's voice when he spoke of the tragedy, so reminiscent of the ham theatricality of his reaction to the death of Princess Diana, were sickening. Especially so, when contrasted with the honest vigour of Ken Livingstone's statements. I disagree with Ken's politics, but he's an honest man.

It is marvelous to hear the stoic reactions, the determination not to be beaten, of ordinary Brits. However, they are facing grimly in the wrong direction and will now be ruthlessly used by people elected to serve them. The morons behind these incidents are no threat to our way of life. We will not allow them to be. The Government is. Within weeks, it will resume its onslaught on our liberties; its opponents further inhibited by a fear of seeming disloyal. This is a dangerous time.

BBC NEWS | Politics | ID cards 'wouldn't stop attacks'

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Blair vows terrorists won't win

In a moment like this, all Brits want to rally to the flag. Our way of life is under attack and it's understandable to want to hit back.

Obviously we are all sorry for those killed and injured today. Everyone sympathises with the families of those who have suffered in such a senseless way.

However, if the Prime Minister is serious about the terrorists not winning he must resist the temptation to "do something". These people are criminals. Let the police and security forces hunt them down. Let our spies infiltrate their organisations. But this is a time for the legislature to wait and see. Hard cases make bad laws.

No-one can prevent such madmen from doing what they have done today. We should hunt them down and deal with them severely. The best we can do to deter others is to stand firm and show that such actions change nothing.

Blair's stance on this is compromised by his effective surrender in Northern Ireland, of course. In the weeks to come, he might consider how rewarding terrorists there has encouraged others to hope for similar results.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair vows terrorists won't win

US journalist sent to jail for refusing to name source

The advantages of the US Constitution are highlighted again by this case. It may not seem so, because this New York Times journalist currently faces jail for contempt of court! The fact remains that journalistic freedom is guaranteed by the First Amendment. It is a matter for the Supreme Court, not the Government, whether or not journalistic sources should be protected. I don't know the details of this case and any human institution can err. However, I have more confidence that justice will eventually be done than I would in the UK, where the Executive has the Legislature firmly in its pocket.

Sadly, if the UK were to entrench a written Constitution at this point in its history, it would full of irrelevant pieties and would lack hard protections of the citizen against the State. The USA is very lucky that its Constitution was drafted at the historical high water mark of liberalism (not to mention at a beautiful moment for the English language).

Is it just me, or is the tone of British journalism -especially broadcast journalism - becoming more and more sycophantic? No government in British history has been more attentive to the Press. That attention has sometimes taken the form of sucking up to tabloid editors, but has also involved foul abuse from the Prime Minister's press office and "public enquiries" into journalistic allegations - which of course entirely exonerated the government (to general public incredulity).

It's less than two years since I arrived in Russia. I used to laugh at the Putin "cult of personality" as manifested in the Russian media. However, the British media seem to be converging stylistically - in their coverage of Blair - with their Russian counterparts. The man who abolished habeas corpus in the country that conceived it should not be getting such a free ride from the Fourth Estate.

Telegraph | News | US journalist sent to jail for refusing to name source

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Heads want more power to exclude

Like I said, the heads need to decide. Who will give me odds that Kelly will go for it?

BBC NEWS | Education | Heads want more power to exclude

Tax credit system haemorrhages £3bn

So is this enough yet for Brown to resign? Or be fired?

Telegraph | News | Tax credit system haemorrhages £3bn

What rocks is capitalism... yeah, yeah, yeah


Telegraph | Opinion | What rocks is capitalism... yeah, yeah, yeah

The Australian: Charity in vogue, Ethiopia its queen [July 05, 2005]

The Australians, it seems, are not quite as sentimental as the Brits.

The Australian: Charity in vogue, Ethiopia its queen [July 05, 2005]

Chirac: 'The only thing the British have ever given European farming is mad cow'

That Jacques Chirac does not like the British comes as no surprise. Kickback Jacques has never been our friend. That he, and our French friends in general, are unaware of developments in British cuisine which have led to London adding more Michelin stars per year than Paris, or to more "Masters of Wine" earning their qualifications in Britain than France is also to be expected.

However, let's not be fooled. Chirac is a superb politician. He has not survived decades of scandal and economic incompetence by making elementary mistakes. I suspect he knew exactly what he was doing when making these remarks in public. The "Non" vote on the EU Constitution was a major political problem for him. Diverting attention to squabbles with the "old enemy", Britain, does him no political harm at all: especially as many French people voted in the mistaken belief that the draft Constitution enshrines "Anglo-Saxon" economic values. The only mistake he made was in attacking Scotland too. The Scots have always been France's "fifth column" in Britain, and he should have flattered them.

Tony Blair is no slouch at political games either. He is perfectly capable of having suggested the idea to Chirac in the first place - acting as the old fraud's spin doctor. At the least, he is clearly benefitting from the diversion of press and public attention to these "hostilities".

We may love France, admire her culture and enjoy the company of her people - but we know they collectively resent "the Anglo-Saxons". They fail to distinguish between a Britain more Socialist than France and laissez-faire America. They are politically so hostile that, having falsely identified economic liberalism as our idea they will reject it forever to their own detriment.

Our love for them is therefore unrequited and sadly - in international politics - we know we can never trust them. A Prime Minister at odds with France will always enjoy our support. Blair knows that very well. He is in trouble at home for the collapse of social order, stealth taxes and the destruction of civil liberties. I suspect he is playing with Europe's future by diverting our attention to "conflict" with France. If so, it may fun - but it is very wicked.

Telegraph | News | Chirac: 'The only thing the British have ever given European farming is mad cow'

Monday, July 04, 2005

Father, 31, dies after yob attack

I hate these stories. I have two teenage daughters. I have met - and been impressed by - lots of their friends. The other day I was at their school, listening to one intelligent, polite and articulate girl after another ask questions about A level courses and life in the sixth form. There is nothing wrong with our youth. Nothing at all. We have every reason to be proud of most of them.

Of course, every generation has "yobs"; unruly, criminally-inclined youths. I don't believe this generation has more than any that came before. Formerly they were contained and made firmly aware of their relative insignificance. Today's State schools, however, are run for that thuggish minority. They set the agenda and dominate school life. That's why my wife and many other qualified teachers of her acquaintance would not return to the classroom for any price. That is why the turnover of state school teachers is so high - why so much money has to be wasted training people who stay in the profession for only a few years. They know they can be verbally, even physically, abused without any effective action being taken.

My nephew, in his first year at school, was recently told by a friend in his class "...the teachers can't do anything if you are naughty, you know...". If a five year old thinks that, is it surprising that things go from bad to worse as pupils watch the unruly few dominate? Is it surprising that some wild youths whose behaviour goes unchallenged in schools should sink to the depths reported here? Is it surprising that those unchecked feral few should emerge from school unfit for decent society?

A young man working in his first job, when criticised by his boss for poor work, was overheard by a relative of mine recently to reply "Who the **** do you think you are?" That young man is unlikely to remain long in gainful employment. Modern education may have built his self-esteem wonderfully (and entirely out of proportion to his merits) but it has otherwise done him no favours.

Head teachers need the power, exercisable in their sole discretion, to expel any child who falls short of the standards of civilised conduct. If that means a child misses out on education, so be it. That is his or her parents' problem. The majority of decent pupils should not miss out on their education because of a few louts. Nor should society suffer because of stupid 1960's educational theories.

the Mail online | Mail - news, sport, showbiz, health and more | Father, 31, dies after yob attack

Panic in No 10 as ID card support collapses

So only a minority support ID cards, now that the bill has been published and the discussion begun. This was to be expected. If our democracy was functioning, that would be an end of the matter. But a feeble opposition, MP's cowed by the whips, and a press which daily becomes more and more craven means that our democracy does not function. An interesting question for the next poll would be whether those who don't want the card expect it to be introduced. I bet they do. Blair will not back down on this now, for fear of seeming "weak".

Sadly, only civil disobedience will kill this totalitarian project.

Telegraph | News | Panic in No 10 as ID card support collapses

Happy Fourth of July

The traditions of habeas corpus, jury trial and "innocent until proven guilty" live on in the USA. You may compare the US PATRIOT Act with the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2005 but there is a big difference. The former is unconstitutional and only awaits a citizen to apply to the Supreme Court for it to be stricken from history.

A very happy Fourth of July to our American readers. Please keep freedom's flame alive so that future generations in Britain may re-emerge into its light one day.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

This is our moment?

I am despondent about the coverage of Live 8. This display of monumental hypocrisy is disgusting, but even the Daily Telegraph is swept up in the sentimental claptrap. The campaign of which the Live 8 concerts are the climax will NOT "make poverty history." That is not within the power of the G8 leaders, whether or not they are exhorted by Geldof, Bono and other rock has-beens.

The West has donated more money to Africa since 1945 than was given to Western Europe by the United States as Marshall Aid. We have given enough money in Tanzania to buy a farm for every family there. The money has been stolen. If we give more, it will be stolen again.

Not only is it a waste of money, we are actually equipping Africa's dictators with the resources to buy the weapons they need to keep their people in subjection. If we seriously care about Africans, then we should (a) dismantle our tariff barriers so their products can compete with ours, (b) stop dumping subsidised products on them as a by-product of such obscenities as the Common Agricultural Policy, and (c) embargo all arms sales to African nations.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

All singing, all dancing - the new ID card

This says it in song, rather wittily I think. Enjoy.