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Saturday, 11 January 2014

Hogan-Howe and Met corruption

If I'm honest, the fact that Mark Duggan is dead actually makes me feel marginally more safe on London's streets. Apart from a politically inflamed protest group centred around his surviving family plus the gobby and deeply stupid Diane Abbot, I suspect that most law abiding Londoners feel as I do. He was a gangster, a thug and a dangerous man and London is just a little bit safer without him.

If rumours bouncing about this week that Hogan-Howe had offered his resignation are true, it certainly wasn't over Duggan, nor over Mitchell. Despite being right, Mitchell remains an arrogant and mouthy little toad, deeply unattractive and unlikely to be warmly received back into political office. 

No, if anything, the rumours sprung from the story in the Indie today of deep and pervasive corruption in the Met, which bloomed like a foot fungus when Ian Blair neglected policing to play new labour politics. Senior officers on the payroll of Turkish drug barons, investigations halted and London's most notorious crime family being immune from prosecution are all the consequence of a large, centralised police force under ACPO influence and control; coupled with accelerated promotion for officers from the same ethnic backgrounds as the criminals, the whole thing is a recipe for an ideal breeding medium for the endemic corruption of justice.

Imagine you're a honest plod with someone as deeply criminally corrupt as the jailed Ali Dazaei as your boss. Will you risk not only his discrimination against you but his 'giving' you to his criminal contacts to maintain justice? Plods need more moral character than is usual to resist such institutional corruption, but with a commissioner like Ian Blair so away with the fairies in a dream world of his own making that they could expect no understanding or support from the very top, it must have been impossible for many officers who wanted to reject the influence of organised crime in the Met to have done so.

Just as Hogan-Howe has blocked the Mitchell plod from resigning instead of being dismissed with disgrace, so he himself must be blocked from resigning. He was appointed because he was outside of the ACPO mafia under which police corruption flourishes; he must now do the job he was appointed to do, and root organised crime from the Met, even if it means he must carry a firearm for personal protection for the rest of his life. Duty calls, Bernard; you must answer it.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Saving Europe from the EU

It is in the built environment that one can best 'read' the movement of thought in Europe. The language of pre-reformation architecture is universal. the meanings of the trefoil and quatrefoil unambiguous. You can walk the route across the channel and across the country along which progressed the Romanesque arch, column and capital from Normandy, and then track the progress of the flying buttress in the opposite direction. Likewise the arrival or otherwise of the ideas of the first and second Enlightenments can be read in the street layouts and civic structures of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - but in greatly differing ways. the anti-government, anti-clerical French experience was vastly different from the nationalistic and spiritual German awakening, or the Dutch Golden Age, or the Polish or Spanish or Italian evolutions.  It is this thousand years of shared experience, this thousand years of diverse manifestation of common threads that has given us a Europe that is my greatest joy and delight in travelling in and understanding. Europe's national and cultural differences are deeply and wonderfully congruous. 

All of which has been soured and spoiled for me in recent years. Now I can travel to no European city - from Porto to Budapest, Barcelona to Krakow - without being faced by a homogenised, bland and subservient sameness that reeks of subjugation, repression and restriction. And everywhere flies that hateful rag, the blue of frozen human skin defaced with yellow pustules of disease. The same glass and stainless steel Malls deface every city centre; the same global, multinational retail chains pollute the streets, the same models of cars clog the ancient roads. The same Roma beggars with the same cardboard signs, the same hangdog, resentful look of the people, as though living under foreign occupation. This is the EU's Europe. 

To paraphrase a significant social movement of its day, our fight against the EU is a moral crusade or it is nothing. It is a fight against the greed and inhumanity of the corporates, a fight for human freedom and democracy, a fight for the survival of national and sub-national cultures, a fight against centralism and Big State government, a fight against the evil of the power-hungry faceless and unelected manipulators at the heart of darkness in Brussels. Above all it is fight in celebration of all the peoples of Europe, and for the future of our much-loved continent. And it is the most important fight I will ever have in my life.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Benefits Street

Television programmes, advised a wise old 'Sun' hack many years ago, are for making, not for appearing on. The only association with the dire medium worth having involves being in charge in the editing suite and staying away from the camera lens. Having in my own small way made both corporate and museum videos I know exactly the mental 'set' of the programme maker; it's your narrative, not anyone else's, that you're building. And to this end you will cut, arrange, overlay, repeat and present all those little chunks of video and audio in a way that suits the narrative.

What astonishes me is that anyone who consents to appear on a TV documentary or lets a hack write a story about them for the papers expects anything other than a gross misrepresentation of their own view of themselves. The local rector may spend sixty hours a week tending dutifully to the needs of the local faithful and only an hour a week tending his collection of Nazi memorabilia, and is in his own eyes the very model of a good shepherd with an insignificant private interest, but we all know exactly how he will be described in the newspaper. "Normal vicar had odd hobby" doesn't sell copies. 

The polls show an overwhelming public support for more and greater welfare cuts. The very universal use of the term 'welfare' by both right and left rather than 'benefits' is a change that has come since I started writing this blog in 2007. It's as if we had abandoned 'disabled' in favour of the older 'crippled'. So when an entire street of welfare recipients consented to appear on a C4 documentary series, what on earth did they expect?  By calling the programme Benefits Street rather than Welfare Street no doubt the channel is trying to display 'balance' but such things cannot ever by their nature be balanced.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

What Berlaymont really wants

Viviane Reding, an unelected official of the EU organisation, has made quite clear what the commission's objectives are in a speech yesterday;
"We need a true political union. To me this means that we need to build a United States of Europe with the Commission as government and two chambers – the European Parliament and a "Senate" of Member States."
 And the tactic for May's election is also clear;
"This will be our best weapon against the Eurosceptics: to explain to our citizens that their vote really matters. That the big decisions on policies in the European Union are made by the parties of the centre. And that therefore it would be a waste of their vote to use it as a protest vote, by choosing Eurosceptics on the right or on the left."

The 'choices' that voters are given do not, of course, include any option for less Federal government from Brussels. You vote either for more power for the commission, or for greater powers for the commission.  

And of course Reding and her dark hordes have billions of Euros to spend between now and May on bribery, vote-buying, brainwashing, saturation advertising and covert marketing. We only have the bare and naked truth of our words and the righteous commitment of our hearts to combat the evil. Let battle begin.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

TV debate league

There is a row about repeating the 3-way political TV debates in 2015. The Libdems, whose vote has shrunk to 5%, are struggling to be considered in the same league as Cameron and Miliband. And then there's UKIP, polling three times the Libdems share. Four politicians would probably not make good TV, either.

However, the TV companies could use a well-practised sporting method - and increase public interest - with a debate league. Winners of each debate would be declared by the studio audience; the first round would be Farage vs Clegg, with the winner meeting the winner of Cameron vs Miliband in a final. Same airtime, same number of debates but some fun for us.

Politicians, never in favour of we ordinary voters deciding anything, will hate it.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Memorials to War

War memorials across Europe have thankfully escaped the homogenisation of the EU, and still repay an intelligent reading. 

Our own are almost exclusively reserved for the armed forces dead of two world wars, the inscribed panel of names from the first almost always much larger than that carrying the names of those that fell in the second. The thousands of merchant seamen killed have their own on Tower Hill - a beautiful and very poignant sunken garden beneath the waves of the bustling City. Civilians who died as a result of aerial bombardment are not collectively listed on public stones but sometimes lie together in quiet churchyards, as when a school or a shelter were hit. The larger town centre Post Offices, now almost all demolished, frequently displayed a marble or bronze plaque naming the postmen fallen in battle. Sometimes on Great War lists the class distinctions of the time leak through, with officers named first, but this is rare. 1919 generally brought democracy in death as well as in life.

German and Austrian war memorials are much more confused, and themselves tell a story of how, over the past sixty years, these nations have come to terms with the war. For a start, the panels listing the military dead of the first war are dwarfed by the lists of those killed in the second; the Reich's military losses were some ten times or more greater in magnitude than our own. Particularly moving are the appended lists of soldiers with no given date of death - those million that disappeared into Stalin's camps and whose deaths were never recorded. Between the two, on Austrian memorials, are sometimes listed the dead of the red / black civil wars of the 1920s. Then there is often another appendix panel, generally dating from the 1950s, listing the dead from allied bombing. Finally, and somewhat reluctantly, with some panels added as recently as the millennium, there is another appendix listing the local victims of  National Socialism - those Germans and Austrians gassed, shot, guillotined or hanged during the Nazi years not being common criminals.

This final panel is the reason why Boris, writing in the Telegraph, is right. The lists of NS victims are still not universally accepted in the old Reich; some old soldiers can't see why they should share their stones with queers, deserters and social democrats. In some cases local opposition has meant that victims of NS are listed on completely separate memorials.

But those memorials in the old Reich that list every single victim from the Gemeinde of German militarism, from August 1914 through to May 1945, whether soldier or civilian, whether killed by enemy action, cold and starvation or by their own parents and grandparents, are the biggest hope for the future of a Europe that has eschewed war. And it's nothing to do with the EU.