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Saturday, 2 December 2017

Another grubby episode; why the police need an officer corps

If there's one word I've found that adequately describes many policemen above the rank of sergeant, it's 'chippy'. Perhaps from being laughed at, excluded from the gang, having odd parents or being academically slow at school, perhaps from resentment of authority, perhaps from an early realisation that they are deeply ordinary, I'm convinced that many (though not all) of those that seek promotion in the police do so from having a chip on their shoulder that they feel having the powers of a constable plus rank will avenge.

And sometimes there are no better examples of innate inability than those who rise to higher command rank. Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick always struck me as such, a blundering idiot promoted above his ability but ingrained with a deep sense of entitlement and grievance. Chippy. And not only chippy but possessed of that particularly stupid stubbornness that convinces policemen of someone's guilt or innocence in the face of a mountain of contradictory evidence. He could not even accept his own dismissal for endangering the public by screwing up an anti-terrorist operation out of sheer stupidity. Last week he persuaded another deeply flawed individual, an ex-detective with evidence of questionable probity to put the boot into Damien Green.  

One of the reasons in the age of the internet that we put men into large open plan offices is to stop them looking at porn. Every large workplace has its tales of managers caught in acts of onanism in little cubby-hole offices. Damien Green may have been amongst them. I don't know. But whatever breaches of Commons policy he may have committed, he did not act against the law. Quick and his weird little chum, in making their grubby claims, unsupported by evidence, have breached every professional standard that the police should maintain, and have undermined public trust in their old employer.

This really is just the latest a long series of incidents of malfeasance, error, blunder and sheer stupid malice that have condemned the whole class of those who rise to command rank in the police. David Duckenfield, Norman Bettison and others are still to stand trial for Hillsborough so I cannot comment other than to mention the fact. 

Is it not high time that we stopped deeply unsuitable individuals such as Mr Quick from reaching rank to which they are unsuited in the first place? Is it not time the police had a professional officer corps, as it had in the past, to lend it professional integrity where it is needed most, amongst the leaders and commanders?    

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Brexit payments; my head says yes, my heart says no.

I suspect that I am not the only EUphobic who is conflicted by the scale of the Brexit settlement. On the one hand, common sense suggests that the scale of the sum mooted is within reason, probably just half the eventual cost of the white elephant HS2, that it is worth it just to get out of their clutches, and that once we're out we can cull and purge and flush every trace of their odious Federasty from our realm. If we pay it at £10bn a year or less, it gives us the option of discontinuing payment at any time they attempt to extend their imperial grasp across the channel. Making sure we get full credit for every single thing the British past contributions have helped buy - including the contents of Herr Juncker's wine cellar - and transparent reckoning for our future shares in EIB costs (and profits) - will reduce the headline figure substantially.

On the other hand, every sinew is willing Britain to tell them to go whistle, get stuffed and pull the bones out of a wet fart. And that's because during the negotiating process the EU has revealed itself for what it really is - a bullying, vindictive, incapable cabal of crooks, fools and psychopaths using the crudest manipulation, disinformation and distortion to try to bludgeon Britain into submissive compliance. A thousand years of history revolts at being told what to do by 'lesser breeds without the Law', cavils at their impertinence. Never mind that we can take our revenge cold. That we can outgrow them, outperform them, attract international business, maintain London's financial supremacy, offer lower taxes and better returns than any one of their second and third rate economies. 

However, whether heart or head rules, one thing is certain. The EU's actions have fomented nothing but emotions from hatred to distaste amongst the British people for their Federast heart. Their greed, their stupidity, their bigoted zealotry has earned them an enemy when they could so easily have made a friend of us.    

Monday, 27 November 2017

Dutch stun trawlers destroying UK fishing grounds - protest today

This story illustrates three problems, all of which should be solved by Brexit. However, Brexit won't fix the very real problem being experienced right now by coastal day-fishermen - that fishing grounds close to Britain's coast are being sterilised, destroyed, by large Dutch boats using forbidden electro stun methods over which we have no control.

The Netherlands has a well developed and large scale fishing industry out of all proportion to the size of her own economic waters. Its success depends on taking fish from the waters of other EU states.

The Dutch also invest heavily in new, big boats - and have no difficulty in getting finance for new boats or converting existing boats to stun technology - at about £300k per boat. Three quarters of the UK fishing fleet are small (typically 8m) inshore boats. Dutch boats take both groundfish and semi-pelagic species - sole, cod, squid, shrimp, rockfish - that abound in the warm shallow waters of the continental shelf. They have traditionally used bottom trawls - chains, beams or steel balls that scrape the seabed, stirring up sediment and channelling the catch into the following net.

However, there are two problems with this. One is that the boat's engine power must be used to drag the beams and shoes, or rock-hopper otter-trawls, over the seabed. The other is that the North Sea and the British coast are heavy with shipwrecks, many torpedoed in two wars, sunken warships or just casualties of the sea. As we hobby sea fishers know, wrecks are a rich haven for big fish because bottom trawlers can't come near them.  

Pulse or stun fishing uses suspended electrodes to stun groundfish into the water column where they are scooped up by trawl nets. Catch volumes are greater, fuel costs are halved and the marine sanctuaries around wrecks are no longer protected. It's like fishing a lake using gelignite. It was outlawed in the EU in 1998. But the EU is deeply corrupt and open to the influence of wealthy actors; in 2009 the EU allowed 5% of beam trawlers to be converted, and the Dutch immediately converted five boats. Since then almost a hundred more Dutch boats have been converted - using a weak and contrived workaround that avoids the ban.

The effects are catastrophic. An inshore fisherman last week posted on FB 
"It is widely believed that thousands of immature fish are dying as a result of this electric shock being passed through them but no evidence has been put forward to support this. The reasons for this are very simple, the majority of immature fish will just get washed through the net never to be seen again. The other reason being the fact that the only research being carried out is by the Dutch themselves and everybody knows that money talks.

"Even if it was proved that this method of fishing was not killing all the immature fish, it is highly likely to be killing all the food that the fish rely on to survive such as prawns, shrimps, small crab, worms. If it was proved that it did not damage these species it would for sure kill the even smaller marine life that they rely on.

"I know from experience that once the seabed has been subjected to the electric shock treatment there is no point in me fishing there. I might as well fish in the desert because I would have more chance of finding life. Even when left alone for several months there is nothing there. To me it is pretty obvious why, nothing is going to hang around in a place where they will starve.

"The Inshore Belgian fishermen are appalled by what the Dutch are doing, Belgian fishermen I have spoken to have never in their lives at sea seen such a drastic reduction in fish numbers as they have once an area has had pulse fishing activity on it. It is the same story in France, the catches there have reduced so much that they plan to blockade all the Channel Ferry ports on the 27th of November to highlight the problems being caused by the Dutch."
One current problem is that Dutch boats can fly the red duster and take UK quotas; the previous requirement on UK flagged vessels being owned by Brit nationals was overturned. Our 1988 Merchant Shipping Act was challenged by the European Court of Justice in the Factortame case and overturned - requiring us to register foreign-owned fishing boats.  A single Dutch owned and crewed vessel, the Cornelis Vrolijk, but UK flagged, accounts for almost a quarter of the entire English catch and about 6 per cent of the total UK quota. It lands all catches - some £17m annually - in the Netherlands.

So a plea. If you are delayed in any way today by the French fishing boats blockading the channel ports, spare them your good wishes and your hopes for a prosperous year. They are fighting the same fight as our inshore boats. This time, we're on the same side.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Double standards are just fine

Austria's unashamed adoption of double standards, despite its appearance, really does have a kind of underlying logic. Thus crucifixes and Christian teaching in schools is fine but Islamic symbols and teaching are prohibited. This has its roots in Hitler's confiscation of all church land; they didn't have a Henry VIII here, so in the 20th century the church was still the country's biggest landowner. In return for the land (which now belongs to the Austrian state) Hitler gave the church the right to levy a 1% income tax. It was the one Hitler law that was never repealed; we Catholics still have to pay it or go to jail. Not only does this give the church certain privileges, it also makes it very rich.   

So when earlier this year a law against covering the face in public was introduced, intended to ban the Niqab and Burqa, the first €150 fine handed out by the police was to a bloke in a shark costume advertising a computer chain. Those of you who read my piece on the Krampus parades last week must now be thinking "Hang on, isn't covering their faces like that now illegal?"

Well, yes. Unless of course it's being done as part of a traditional Austrian folk display. In which case it's fine. So when a group of Krampus mounted a peaceful march to show they were actually men and not devils, and to prevent any potential anti-Krampus legislation, they had to carry their masks. The police explained that if they were walking peacefully, rather than leaping about amongst fiery flames screaming obscenities and hitting people with sticks, they were not protected by the exemption to the law.