Saturday, 30 August 2008

The return of the butcher's counter?

My local Tesco serves both an area of £1m homes and a council estate. So far they haven't started security-tagging the meat, but I expect it's just a matter of time. And it strikes me as a bit pointless, anyway; if someone is desperate enough to steal a joint of beef, surely they're desperate enough to pull it out of its cling-film and tagged wrapping and drop it into their pocket?

I suspect we'll see the return of the butcher's counter before long, with its own till and an actual butcher who can slice you some pork chops with kidney in (how long since you saw those in a supermarket?) or a few pounds of skirt for a Goulash. Good.

Now they just need to deal with the egg-swappers. And I can't quite understand why the Malibu, Southern Comfort and Vodka bottles are tagged but the vintage port and single malts aren't - are the underclass supposed to be unable to fashion a taste for Laphroaig?

The message is coming across, Darling

"It's nothing to do with me. Not my fault. Yes, it's serious and quite honestly I haven't a clue what to do about it. No, I've no idea what's going to happen over the next year. It looks like the country is going to kick us out and I'm not sure I'll even be Chancellor for much longer."

"I just can't understand why the public aren't supporting us any more. We're really not getting our message across" ( © The Guardian )

Oh yes, we're getting the message loud and clear. As The Dude said, you've stolen our incomes, you've stolen our savings, you've stolen the nation's savings and you've mortgaged our grandchildren. The IMF are sniffing around. The government is bankrupt, your party is bankrupt, your leader is bankrupt of vision or talent. You've closed a third of the country's pubs. You've raised a generation of illiterate, workless welfare slaves whom not even your ill-judged profligacy in health spending can keep from an early grave. Your repressive and utterly illiberal legislation has earned you the nation's hatred. Your weakness, vacillation, incompetence, mendacity, personal avarice, economic myopia and naivety, pious self-righteousness and sheer, utter, absolute ill-judgement have screwed the country.

I hope and pray that the next election will wipe you and your vile Cloaca Maxima of a party from the face of British politics for ever.

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Livingstone should feel at home

News from the BBC that Ken Livingstone is to work as a presidential advisor to Chavez of Venezuela is a mixed blessing. I can't imagine Ken will want to relocate to Caracas, so we must suppose this will be more of a telecommuting job. Worst luck.

Politically corrupt police appointees, soaring rates of violent crime, a naive belief in welfarism and a political rhetoric of 'class war' are amongst the policies pursued by Livingstone in London that will allow him to fit in well in Caracas.

Chavez has created a nation with huge oil wealth but the world's highest murder rate; $50 will buy a 'hit'. Perhaps Ken should invest some of his redundancy payment in one of these:

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

The curse of slavery

I have said before that multiculturalism is nothing but apartheid in a posh frock. I have also decried that Neanderthal stupidity and nastiness that seeks to discriminate against people because of the colour of their skin. Britishness, I have said, should be based on shared values and cultural congruence, nothing else; part of our schools' covert curriculum should impart and reinforce values of fairness, tolerance, balance and 'doing the right thing'. There is no danger of dreary monoculturalism in Britain. We are natural non-conformists and individualists, each of us marching to a different drum, and rather than the simplistic apartheid of racial groupings that is multiculturalism we should be encouraging a rich diversity of individuals of every hue and creed all conscious of their own moral responsibilities in maintaining our collective freedoms.

News that slavery is to be taught as part of the national curriculum should not be a reason for depression, yet I view it with foreboding. I just know it fall into that academically mendacious rut that portrays Europeans as monsters and Africans as innocent victims. This is false. It's a lie.

Africa has a cultural history of slavery that pre-dates by millennia the arrival of the first European explorer on its shores; possession of slaves, cattle and wives have formed the basis of personal wealth in many parts of Africa since before the first Roman soldier set foot on Britain's shore.

Despite the weasel and mendacious words of Nu Labour's 'official' history of slavery to mark the 200th anniversary of abolition last year, the bare truth is that Europeans hardly enslaved any Africans at all. The Portuguese mounted a few military expeditions in Angola, and there were a few opportunistic coastal raids (which were much discouraged as antagonising the slavers' African partners in trade), but the results of these were statistically insignificant. Nearly all of the 11m - 12m slaves bought and transported by Europeans had been enslaved and sold by fellow black Africans.

Simply, Europeans and Africans were equally responsible for that vile 400-year trade. Without the active and willing participation of Africans, we would not have had a slave trade; as the Portuguese found, Europeans trying to capture Africans to enslave them was wasteful of money and lives, not worth the effort, and yielded meagre and scanty rewards.

When, as the result of the Enlightenment and especially of the Second Enlightenment, Europe saw the moral fault in slavery, it was abolished by virtually all of Europe between the end of the eighteenth and the middle of the nineteenth centuries. Africa has never undergone an endogenous enlightenment. Adopted European moral systems and beliefs overlie traditional African cultural norms awkwardly and lightly.

Now, I expect by this point there will some of you who are doubting the veracity of the case I am making. I assure you I am relying on the most impeccable academic sources for that which I write. For British readers I'd recommend Hugh Thomas' seminal 'The Slave Trade - The history of the Transtlantic slave trade 1440 - 1870'. For online readers, Bartleby's World History presents much of the same evidence.

After the abolition of the export trade by the mid-nineteenth century, Africa reverted to internal slave trading of the kind that had subsisted since long before they met the first European buyers. Paradoxically, when Europe returned to Africa with Quinine prophylaxis, breech-loading rifles and the steam gunboat towards the end of the nineteenth century to colonise that continent (and without those three technological developments it had not been previously possible to do so), it was European rule and law that curbed Africa's traditional slave economy.

I say curbed, not ended. For everywhere in Africa where Europe has withdrawn in decolonising that continent, slavery has returned in one form or another. We're mostly ignorant of it - a Western liberal news agenda normally fights shy of stories about Africans and slavery. It's really only now in Britain, awash with nearly a million African immigrants (an additional 20,000 in the past ten years alone in the London borough in which I live) that the media can no longer ignore the reality. Hence stories such as this in the Telegraph - African children sold in the UK for as little as £1,000 each.

By all means let's teach the evil of slavery; let's arouse a great moral repugnance against it, and let's take measures anew to abolish it amongst those peoples in whom it's so firmly entrenched. That also means an end to the apartheid of multiculturalism, under which it's OK to buy and sell your fellow man, mutilate female genitals, force your children into arranged marriages, inbreed genetic cripples and morons and maintain the mores of a third-world village in the world's most civilised capital city.

Jacqui Smith's useful innovation

What do you do when a monopoly service provider has become so inefficient, so detached from customer needs and so expensive as to offer very poor value? When the GPO had a three month waiting list for new telephones, and a phone call cost the price of a pint of beer, introducing competition was viewed with dismay by many traditionalists who held that only the State could or should provide a public telecommunications service. The Copper network was a natural monopoly, they said. Well, as we know now, they were wrong.

Similarly there will be howls of outrage at the suggestion that we should introduce competition to policing. Yet the comments in response to a guest blog post on Iain Dale's site are completely typical of our experience of the police. London has 30,000 police officers; that's about 1,000 per borough. Yet at any time no more than a couple of dozen are available in my borough to respond to calls or patrol the streets. Regulation and targets won't improve this - the only thing that will is competition. The Copper network isn't a natural monopoly.

Forget the specialist units for the moment - Special Branch, the diplomatic protection squad and the like - it's local neighbourhood uniformed policing that can go to tender. Of course, it would have to be on a geographic basis, that of a council ward or parish, and would need a ballot. The 'private' force would have access to the Police National Computer and similar resources in the same way as private telcos can access the BT exchanges.

Jacqui Smith's proposals to allow the police to train and licence private security guards to carry out local policing functions is actually a good thing. This should be expanded to allow individuals to qualify as fully authorised police officers. And legislation brought forward to allow competition at local level for basic police functions - keeping our streets and property safe, pursuing malefactors and answering to the local people that they serve.

Costs would plummet. Efficiency would soar. We would regain local police forces answerable to us and not to the Home Secretary. Where's the catch?

Monday, 25 August 2008

To the Chairman, Barclays Bank plc

Dear Chairman,

As a customer of long standing, I am concerned at your declining credit ratings . As a responsible customer, I am no longer able to maintain my credit surplus facility in the bank's favour. You will notice I have been buying Krugerrands instead. Please get in touch with me if you are having trouble managing your debt portfolio; I am happy to offer the bank free advice on debt management, and should I notice an improvement in your credit position I may consider reinstating the healthy balance on my accounts in your favour.

Should you become insolvent, this will adversely affect your ability to hold deposits in the future. Your bank is at risk if you fail to maintain deposit repayments from it.

I attach my invoice for £25 to cover my costs in sending this letter.

Faithfully yours etc.

Fathers save lives, not State handouts

In an ill-considered tirade reported by the BBC, Home Office advisor Derrick Campbell (pictured below) alleges that black youths are 'being left to die' because, er, the State isn't giving enough money to Afro-Caribbean citizens.

That 67% of Afro-Caribbean kids are growing up without their biological fathers, and evidence points to this as the major determinant of their drift into crime, gangs and drugs, he doesn't think worth a mention.

Dr Campbell would serve his people better if he encouraged black girls to keep their legs closed and black boys to take up cold showers and cross-country runs. Only by breaking the cycle of bastardy amongst these citizens will the death toll be reduced. It's fathers that save lives, not State handouts.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

My kind of creek

Forget the sterile, barren marinas with row after row of gleaming white moored boats that all look like training shoes, for this is the real pleasure of our English coastline. Small, dozy creeks that dry at low water slumbering in the August sun, rendolent with the heavy scents of rotting seaweed and glutinous mud, cozy and safe when the winter storms blow, a haven from the sea used for a thousand years.