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Friday, 16 September 2011

Jenkins' delivers right hook to Federasts

If you want three minutes of genuine pleasure this morning, read through Simon Jenkins' denunciation of European Federalism in the Guardian. In a piece that must leave many Guardianistas choking on their nut Muesli today, Jenkins says
This is a true reformation moment in Europe's history, when a centralised and authoritarian Holy Roman Empire, grown fat and arrogant on the tithes of subject peoples, suddenly overreaches its power and faces a crisis of legitimacy.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

It's all up to the Hun now

Even in crisis, there's something ironic about the governments of Europe being savaged by the very financial markets they mortgaged their nations to save. The financial market goeth about like a raging lion seeking whomsoever it may devour and unlike the elephant can't remember who pulled the thorn from its foot. Well, it's all up to the Hun now. 

Another compromised ACPO police boss quits

The ranks of ACPO, the secretive private firm set up by police bosses, are rapidly being depleted as a wave of corruption, malfeasance, peculation and improper conduct amongst the nation's top policemen and ACPO members is being exposed and the capi are resigning in droves. The latest Met helmet to roll is Asst Commissioner Ian McPherson; he joins Peter Clarke, Andy Hayman, Paul Stephenson and John Yates in jumping before he was pushed. In addition to its most senior uniformed plods, the Met has also seen its most senior civilian manager leave under a dark cloud. In Cleveland both the Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable have been arrested for corruption, and enquiries continue among other forces into their own bent bosses. 

This is the same cohort of senior officers who protest so vehemently that the police are in no need of any democratic oversight, and that police bosses should remain unaccountable. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

I'm with the Turks

If you're delivering a prestigious architectural scheme in London that includes hard landscaping and real stone, the best contract managers will find you Turkish Mason-Paviors to carry out the work. Next to the Turks for quality, ability and speed rank the Portuguese and the Irish. The rest are also-rans. So my heart sank on one of my sites recently when I heard the Paviors bantering in pure East End; cockney sparrars have many fine strengths, but decent paving isn't amongst them. Not to worry, though. They were Turkish Cypriots, and the English spoken in Northern Cyprus clearly has its origins in Bow.  

I like the Turks. I've rarely come across a bad'un. In war, they're superlatively brave - as we found both at Gallipoli and in Korea, when thankfully for the latter we were on the same side. In victory they're magnanimous. Kemal Ataturk's words after Gallipoli to the allied dead still get me bleary-eyed every single time; "You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now living in our bosom and are in peace. Having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

And it was Turks of course who took to the streets in North London with doner-kebab knives during the recent riots to deny the feral looters their bounty, showing us all the way. They hold family, home and work as dear as any Protestant ethicist, as they do entrepreneurship and rights to property. For all these reasons, the Euro Federasts loathe them. 

In stepping forward to display regional leadership in a post Arab-Spring Maghreb, and in the process crossing Israel's bows, Turkey has done exactly the right thing. A secular Islamic republic that brews some decent beers is exactly the model democracy that offers Israel the best bet for peace and security, and the best model for Egypt, Libya and the rest. We should encourage Turkey in developing a pivotal role astride the Bosphorus, as a regional power bridging Europe and Maghreb / Arabia. 

A 'barely literate' plod is just a security guard

I've always favoured the traditional recruitment cohort for the police; young men not academically gifted but physically fit and who not only won't settle for being clerks or shop assistants but who possess a self-confidence that their poor academic prospects would otherwise leave unexpressed. None of which is remotely equivalent to the 'barely literate' standard of many new plods described by Tom Winsor. If a policeman can't write fluently in cursive script, if he can only painfully and slowly form mis-spelt words in BLOCK CAPITALS, if his vocabulary is functionally limited, if he's unable to understand the most simple mathematical relationships, he's unfit to wear the uniform. 

A policeman needs an ability to listen, to understand and to reason. He needs to be able to write statements quickly and fluently, to give evidence coherently. He needs to remember the Act and the section of the Act. He needs to understand basic abstract concepts such as probity, equity and stewardship. Above all he needs the self-confidence to carry out his duties without resentment of or fear of ridicule from more advanced citizens, and without sense of obligation. Literacy is a good indicator of many of these qualities. Without them, a policeman is just a security guard. 

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

MPs would be wise not to protest too much

MPs who squeal too loudly about the proposed constituency boundary changes risk alienating voters even further from support for the three main parties. Our current Electoral Quota, the number of electors for each MP, has been described as 'off the scale' of international democratic standards by electoral expert Dr Michael Pinto-Duschinsky. Many advanced democracies have an EQ of +/- 3%; the government proposals are more moderate, seeking to bring this within +/- 5%. It's not ideal, but a good start, and achievable before the next election. 

The reported sycnchonised whine by Conservative MPs that it makes their safe seats more marginal will be welcomed by voters. Electors want their constituencies to be marginal; it means their votes matter. It makes MPs more accountable. Squealing that the moves will detract from an MP's sense of entitlement will find no echoes amongst the public. Labour MPs will whinge that the changes reverse the Brownite perversion of 'fairness' under which socialists should enjoy preferential treatment over other voters. Again, the public will see though this easily enough. 

This is another situation in which restoring public confidence in Parliament requires MPs to keep their mouths shut and get on with it. They won't, of course; their instincts for self-interest will overcome any altruistic intrusions about the greater public good. 

HMI report on ACPO illegalities to be published?

In November 2010 ACPO's NPOIU, their dodgy secret state surveillance and agent provocateur organisation, was dismantled by Cameron's government, with the tasks given to mainstream (and accountable) police forces and an Inquiry ordered to be undertaken by Her Majesty's Inspectorate into their conduct and probity. You may recall the police agent Mark Kennedy who went native when infiltrating a group of wind-farm enthusiasts who were branded 'subversives' by the secretive and private ACPO. 

The HMI team investigating ACPO was led by Bernard Hogan-Howe, yesterday named as the new Met Commissioner. They were due to report in the Summer, but given the head-to-head between Hogan-Howe and Orde, ACPO's capo di capi, for the top Met job, publication has been understandably delayed. That report will now be released. 

If HMI has made a decent fist of the investigation, they will have investigated the illegal hacking of phones belonging to alleged 'subversives' by ACPO; many suspect the NPOIU together with the NETCU and NDET were loose cannon, operating illegally and outside the law, protected by ACPO's private status from investigation. It is not unlikely that these ACPO bodies breached s.1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 by phone hacking without intercept warrants; if so, it opens the delicious possibility that Orde may now find himself 'helping with enquiries'. 

Monday, 12 September 2011

BBC talking out of its arse

The sin was published on the BBC website and repeated confidently on 'Today' this morning by a BBC correspondent, who named the fictitious legislation - that the holders of unwilling workers had been arrested under 'The Slavery and Servitude Act 2010'. There is, of course, no such Act. Two minutes on the net by a responsible editor could have discovered this, yet for 24 hours the BBC has been putting out this plainly untruthful statement. 

The arrests and any subsequent charges will in fact be made under s.71 of the 2009 Coroners and Justice Act. Guidance on the implementation of the section was issued by the MoJ last year, and is freely publicly available online

Why is this important? When this vast, comprehensively resourced national news organisation is incapable of undertaking the most simple fact-checking it shows itself gullible and willing to believe any old tosh that anyone in authority tells it, and to broadcast the same tosh to a credulous public accustomed to truth from the BBC. Readers, it has feet of clay. 

The corporates draw up battle lines

With the Vickers report published today, calling for the ring fencing of the biggest banks' retail and buccaneer operations together with an increase in the capital ratio to 10% on the retail side, you may think that the Coalition  is finally doing something for the ordinary taxpayer against the depredations of the ruthless corporates. Don't be fooled. As Richard North reminds us, the corporates are snugly in bed with the entire political class. Vickers will be kicked into touch; Cameron and Osborne will announce some sort of implementation commission, with a further report date well into the future. They won't change the arrangement whereby the taxpayer underwrites the losses of the buccaneer operations and the shareholders alone enjoy the profits. 

So Barclays and RBS together with their chums Crapita, Serco, G4S and the rest who are doing so well out of taxpayer's money are closing up control of any reform. They have destroyed any meaningful Localist reform and twisted it into a privatisation process whereby public functions pass from the central State to the State Corporates; they prop up a chronically sick EU that cements their economic advantages, and regard democracy is an irrelevance and taxpayers as disposable prey, to be milked to the point of emaciation and abandoned. And as we saw last week, the devolution of planning powers to local communities is conditional on local communities always saying 'yes' to the new Tesco megastore; a smoke and mirrors exercise in pretending to devolve powers whilst increasing the reach of the corporates.  

Big business is as pernicious as big government. It cares even less. It takes even more.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

New York

Back in the early 90s a friend's younger sister departed Hereford for an internship with a transglobal media firm in New York. She enjoyed a fine apartment and as much free champagne as she could drink, but little in the way of salary. A combination of canapes and buffet-tidbits from the office and a queue of young New York chaps eager to take her to dinner took care of food. Her other needs were efficiently organised on this side of the Atlantic; I was delegated the task of recording the omnibus edition of the 'Archers' every week, and every Monday morning I'd pop the C90 cassette in its Jiffy bag in the international air post. When she returned bearing gifts, mine was a splendid and beautifully illustrated edition of 'New York - the Painted City'. 

Grace Glueck's carefully selected works, some 41 in all, including Estes' Ansonia (above), succeed in capturing not just the experience but the soul of this great world city. And not only Edward Hopper but others have the talent for fixing on canvas a multilayed fable, a complex pluralistic series of lives and experiences and hopes. From the 1920s through to the 1980s the city was painted by a succession of artists each striving to capture the micro and macro, the sheer scale and ambition of the whole against the diverse fragments of individual lives that made it so. Amongst those 41 works I can find only one that even suggested the presence of the twin towers of the WTC, and this is important. 

In the past ten years the myth has grown that the WTC was New York, that 9/11 destroyed something integral and central to the city's identity. New York has always been much more, and will continue to be much more, than the twin towers. You could crash a hundred passenger jets on the city and it would not stop being New York. At the end of the day the memorial at ground zero will be a forgotten and almost irrelevant structure; the true memorial to that event is the entire city itself, its resilience and its people. God bless New York.  

Blair utterly irrelevant

It was perhaps inevitable that Blair has constructed for himself a fantasy world within which he can escape the guilt of the innocent blood on his hands. His acquaintance with the truth was always peripheral at best, reality being what he wanted it to be. In Blair's private world, Iraq was freed from tyranny and Al Queda destroyed in Afghanistan, the world was a better place and the rest of us are naive and foolish. "Some 650,000 died in Iraq" challenged John Humphrys yesterday; "No, no, it was no more than 100,000" responded Blair rapidly, as though he had formulated some curious self-justifying algebra and the figure was critical. Humphrys challenged that the invasion of Iraq was unjustified as the evidence was false, and that a generation of Moslems had been radicalised by an event that even most of we kuffirs regarded as grossly wrong. No, no, said Blair. No-one had been radicalised. They were already radical; his actions had no effect whatsoever on their degree of frustration, resentment or criminality. You weren't going to lay 7/7 at his door. 100,052 would ruin the algebra.   

Listening to Blair interviewed was listening to a man absolutely unfamiliar with the London he'd returned to. In his private Middle-Eastern world of marble floored lobbies, tacky limos and kitsch luxury, insulated from the reality of the way we've moved on in England, surrounded by his Ruritanian bling  - Doha gave him another gold medal the other day, to add to his collection of vulgar and pointless 'awards' from tinpot regimes around the Middle East - he simply didn't comprehend that here he wasn't regarded as an elder Statesman, in fact he wasn't recognised as a Statesman at all; he expected deference and hushed attention for his words of wisdom, not scorn and muffled disbelief. He was like the D-list celeb from Thetford, used to being recognised and greeted in every Tesco and shoeshop in the town, who comes to London and is shocked to be jostled, pushed and ignored as someone completely unknown. And this perhaps is Blair's most appropriate penance; for a man so infused with narcissism and self-regard, obscurity and public irrelevance must be a heavy cross to bear.