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Friday, 9 October 2009

Obama peace prize a slap in the face to Blair?

Just supposing you were on the Nobel Prize committee, and a few days away from the closing date for nominations for the Peace Prize in February you only had one name in the ring - Tony Blair. What would you do?

Just supposing, like.

Excuse me, what do they do?

I remember once being quizzed by a colleague's young daughter on a 'bring your children to work' day, no doubt now banned by Labour unless everyone in the building has undergone an enhanced CRB check. "What do you do?" she asked. I explained my key areas of responsibility. "Yes, but what do you do?" she repeated, a little more firmly. I expanded into organisational roles. "Yes, but what do you do?" she repeated in frustration, and the penny dropped. I explained that I made phone calls and held meetings and worked on a computer and visited various building sites to watch the builders and wrote letters and signed documents. She nodded in satisfaction, her view of the working world confirmed.

Looking at the Met's senior management structure, in which civilian 'directors' outnumber police officers, I'd like to ask Paul Stephenson "Yes, but what do they do?". Take a look at this:-

Director of Information
Director of Resources
Director of Human Resources
Director of Public Affairs
Director of Legal Services
Strategic HR Director
Director of HR Operations
Director of Leadership Development
Director ofLogistical Services
Director of Catering Services
Director of Transport Services
Business PartnershipsDirector
Business Services Director
Strategic HR Director (2)
Strategic HR Director (3)
Programme & Information Manager
Director of Property Services
Director of Finance Services
Director of Strategy & Improvement Department
Director of Procurement Services
Director of Asset Management
Director of Construction
Director of Facilities Management
Director of Resilience & Compliance Group
Director of Commercial Operations
Director of Exchequer Services
Director of Business Development, Core Finance & Special Projects
Director of Business Support
Director of Business Strategy
Director of Business Performance
Director of Category Management
Director of Supply Chain Management
Head of Service Delivery
Head of Security, Standards & Architecture
Head of Business Systems & Integration
Head of Business Services & IT Training
Deputy Director of Information
Head of Technology
Deputy Director of Public Affairs
Assistant Director (Olympics)
Assistant Director (Head of Internal Communication)
Assistant Director (Chief Press Officer)
Director of Business Development
Director of Diversity and Citizen Focus
Director of Business Support
Director of Forensics
Head of Business Services (Human Resources)
Head of Business Services(Finance and Resources)
Director of Business Services

That's 49 senior civilian managers. Each of them will probably have an entire department of civilian middle managers and admin staff under them. Each of them is regarded as equivalent to Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Assistant Commissioner or Commander rank - so a very senior tier of management. But they substantially outnumber the senior Met police officers - 4 ACs, 7 DACs and 26 Commanders.

For this is Ian Blair's New Labour police service - no longer a force, no longer accountable to the communities that employ them, but a creeping gangrenous inefficient central department of government in which the rot has penetrated to the bone.

It's time to re-design the Met from a zero base. Central specialist squads - diplomatic and royal protection, anti-terrorist and one or two more, under the Commissioner and responsible to the Mayor and Home Secretary and funded from a central government tax precept, and local Territorial forces responsible to local watch committees, each with a CID department, sharing intelligence and pooling manpower for policing major events in the capital, with a new Metropolitan Inspector of Constabulary responsible to the Commissioner, who would have a new role - standards overseer for the local forces.

The radical reform of the Met should now head the agenda of the Mayor and the Shadow Home Secretary; June 2010 should see the publication of a White Paper that will give London a chance to have a real say over its policing.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Family, community, country.

Drawing a line straight back to Burke, Cameron delivered a speech today that will earn the party at least three points in the poll bounce. Family, community and country were the leitmotif of his last pre-election conference speech, as he excoriated Labour's appalling record of failure and their asinine reliance on the Leviathan State. Burke's words kept flicking into my mind as he spoke;
To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first link in the series by which we proceed toward a love to our country and to mankind. The interest of that portion of social arrangement is a trust in the hands of all those who compose it; and as none but bad men would justify it in abuse, none but traitors would barter it away for their own personal advantage.
Nick Robinson introduced the leading piece on the BBC 6 o'clock news with a decent enough report of the speech; Labour will no doubt respond with tractor stats, really not understanding that no-one, absolutely no-one, believes a thing they say any more.

Yes, I could pick holes here and there, but overall a creditable performance. Job done.

A transcript of the speech can be found at Politicshome

Lord Kitchener

Had Richard Dannatt held his post just a few years ago, he would be leaving office in the rank of Field Marshal rather than General, five-star rather than four-star rank. A peculiarity of the baton is that holders are appointed on the active list for life; FM Lord Inge remains a serving soldier at the age of 74. This has caused us some problems in the past - notably with Herbert Kitchener.

After being created FM in 1910, Kitchener lobbied ministers blatantly for the Viceregency of India; the Liberal government of the day were suspicious of a man known to be a Tory and an Imperialist, and Asquith eventually refused Kitchener the appointment. In 1914, however, Asquith had no such qualms in appointing Kitchener Secretary of State for War - and so, with a seat in the Lords, he joined government - as a serving soldier.

When 'Wully' Robertson, the first British soldier to rise from trooper to Field Marshal, took office as CIGS at the end of 1915 there was bound to be a clash with Kitchener. The War Secretary would visit France in full military rig, and found it difficult to distinguish his political role from his service rank. Robertson demanded - and secured - the right to speak directly to cabinet on strategy, leaving Kitchener with responsibility for manpower and recruitment. It was a strained artifice, and Kitchener's death in 1916 was perhaps fortuitous in solving the problem.

I'm not sure how long retiring generals remain on the reserve these days, but this is not an issue that Gen. Dannatt is likely to face. We are also seeing a groundswell of reaction against Secretaries of State sitting in the Lords - not least of which is the power or otherwise of Commons Select Committees to summon them to account. I think the most he can hope for is a Defence Minister post - perhaps responsible for procurement. Which would be a neat trick on Cameron's part on many levels. And Lords Inge and Guthrie would no doubt keep an eye on him there.

Localism needs local taxes

Michael Heseltine writes a useful forward to Localis' new publication 'Can Localism deliver?' but the lessons learned from Manchester as given in the report don't go nearly far enough if Localism is to be effective. For Localism to deliver, taxes should be set and levied locally and a precept passed on to central government for those functions that can only be undertaken effectively at national level, such as defence or air traffic control.

The balance between income, property and consumption taxes required to pay the national precept and to fund a locally determined range of public services must be in the hands of democratically elected local bodies, and the administrative level at which those services are provided should also be determined locally. Policing, health, education, sanitation, welfare, planning, transport and social services will immediately become at least 100% more efficient and effective if the suffocating maw of Whitehall micro-management is removed.

Opponents will point to places such as Newham or Bradford, where third-world electoral corruption has arrived along with large immigrant populations, and predict that financial corruption will be as endemic as it is in Pakistan or Nigeria if local politicians are allowed these sort of powers. And the answer is yes, it will happen, and that this is an argument for greater local democracy, not less; local powers of recall and indictment, and effective scrutiny and transparency, together with an unfettered press and media will ensure that local corruption is nipped in the bud, and those that abuse their office are jailed for lengthy terms.

Opponents will also point to the Lyons Inquiry, which concluded that local taxation apart from a property-based tax was unfeasible. And who told Sir Michael so? HMRC, of course. Because his remit was limited to a replacement for Council Tax only, and not to a radical rolling-back of the central State, it is something on a non-Inquiry as far as Localism goes. You've only got to look across the Atlantic to learn that locally-based taxation can be highly efficient - even when administered by very small communities of 5,000 - 10,000 people.

The Manchester pilot was just fiddling around the edges in a way that is no threat to established Whitehall power interests. It wasn't Localism.

At 2 o'clock this afternoon Cameron will deliver his closing speech to the Manchester conference. Localists from across Britain will be listening eagerly.

To jail or not to jail?

Prison as punishment is a 19th century humanitarian invention that was something of an advance on what preceded it. Although prisoners were held prior to trial, if found guilty they would be whipped, or branded, or have their nose slit, or ears cut off, or be fined or hanged. It was all a bit, well, Islamic. They wouldn't go back to just being locked up - which wasn't seen as any sort of punishment. Later we exported them - first to America, until a little local inconvenience there in 1776, and later to Australia. Eventually, just as the Second Enlightenment kicked in to end slavery, so it modified our approach to retributive justice. Jeremy Bentham got to work on his drawing board, and Her Majesty became the proud owner of the world's first Panopticon Prison.

Rehabilitation didn't arrive on the scene until sociologists started to turn up in the sixties, at about the same time as we stopped jailing buggers. By the nineties, we were being invited to view prisoners as victims; prison, we were told, was the inevitable destination of most 17 - 24 year old ill-educated but testosterone fuelled bastards from sink estates, and their 'criminality' was our fault, not theirs.

And now the Prison Governors' Association, a body riddled with the cancer of sociology, has called for all sentences under 12 months to be abolished. Never mind that Cameron has just called for magistrates' sentencing powers to be increased from 6 to 12 months. Never mind that this would remove the sanction of imprisonment from the courts that dispose of the vast majority of criminal offences. Never mind that those living next to neighbours from Hell will get no respite from persecution. The PGA are away with the fairies; completely out of touch with what we require them to do, which is to hold in prison for the term specified by the judge or magistrate those whom we have collectively determined must be so punished. Some sentences must, for fairness, be short and some long.

In Waugh's 'Decline and Fall' a liberal prison chaplain named Prendergast decides the best rehabilitation for a homicidal carpenter is to provide him with a full set of the tools of his trade. The prison landing is shortly rewarded with Prendergast's screams as the mad chippie saws his head off. The PGA would probably put it down as the exception that proves the rule.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

The stench of Harman's hypocrisy

The stench of Harman's hypocrisy assails my nostrils again.

First she want to erode the economic efficiency of the nation's businesses by a lunatic proposal to 'close the gender pay gap'. That pay gap is there for a very good reason; employee remuneration in the absence of taste discrimination (i.e. other than in 'mom and pop' businesses and the public sector, both of which practice taste discrimination) is based on a construct of qualifications + experience + employability factor; given that qualifications and employability are equal, women will always earn less than men because their aggregate experience is less. Their aggregate experience is less because they spend time out of the workplace having babies. This is the economic reality of life - to distort it, as Harman proposes, makes industry less efficient and less competitive. But being a Socialist, she really doesn't care.

Secondly, the recent 'you know where to find me' comment thrown at the plebs after she failed to exchange her details following a vehicle accident. This was Lady Harman in her most haughty the-rules-don't-apply-to-me Socialist elite form.

And now I'll lay odds on she'll oppose Cameron's proposal to raise the universal retirement age to 66 from 2015 - because by that time the retirement age for women will still only be 63 under the Socialist inequality agenda. Cameron has ruled out on 'Today' a 3 year jump for women on the cusp, but this won't deter Harman.

The woman is Lunatic Labour at its most moon-howling dribbling incontinent rug-chewing worst, living in a fantasy world utterly divorced from ordinary people and ordinary lives.

The wisdom of crowds - #94

From Fraser Nelson's piece on Coffee House as 200 Clapham Omnibus folk meet the politicos;
I wish, CoffeeHousers, that you could hear what has just happened. Many of you say the punters don’t care about Lisbon. Derbyshire asks who wants a referendum on Lisbon: clap if you do, she says. The noise is deafening. “Absolutely, because no one has told us what the Lisbon Treaty is about,” says one of the punters. Who wants a post-ratification referendum? Silence. Please note, Mr Cameron, even the Eurosceptic British punters do not want a pointless post-ratification referendum. What’s the problem in ruling it out? Even Bill Cash doesn’t see the point.
It has become fashionable to declare that the public doesn't care a jot about Europe, and that therefore it's pointless making it an election issue. Just as it was fashionable to declare that low poll turnouts were due to voter apathy - indeed, there are even a few fools from the political class still opining that this is the case. On the latter point, Helena Kennedy's 'Power' inquiry provided overwhelming evidence that people were not at all apathetic, and that the main reason they stayed away from the polls was that they loathed and distrusted the parties and the political class. Not a reality that some of that toxic breed still care to admit.

Now as to Fraser Nelson's second point above, on a post-ratification referendum, I think the audience's silence was down to a badly phrased question. YouGov's latest poll for Sky News on 5/10 of a panel of 1,102 gave the following responses to the following two questions:
If Britain wanted to amend or repeal the Treaty once it had been ratified, it would need to seek agreement from all other EU member states. Assuming unanimous opposition to the Treaty would be difficult to achieve, Britain may be left with two choices. Firstly, to accept the Lisbon Treaty as it is, and secondly to leave the EU altogether. With that in mind do you think a Conservative government should or should not offer a referendum on the Treaty to UK voters once it is ratified?

Yes they should offer a referendum - 60%
No they should not - 16%
Don't know - 25%

If it were to come down to a choice between accepting the Lisbon Treaty as it is or leaving the EU altogether which would you prefer?

Accepting the Lisbon Treaty - 30%
Leaving the EU altogether - 45%
Don't know - 26%
Which hardly supports Fraser's view that 'even the Eurosceptic British punters do not want a pointless post-ratification referendum'.

My concern is that neither side in the debate has as yet produced a succinct and legible precis of the key issues in a form that a quarter or more of the electorate who currently 'don't know' can understand. A good starting point are the balanced summaries produced by Civitas For and Against.

Europe isn't a non-issue for the electorate. It's a key issue. The voters are not uninterested, just uninformed. Let's move the debate to the next stage.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Nous sommes trahis

William Rees-Mogg calmly summarises where we now stand with the EU in this morning's Times.
It has been a pan-European conspiracy involving the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, Lord Mandelson, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. These people share responsibility for the drafting, re-drafting and re-naming of the treaty. They worked together to prevent Britain having the promised referendum, knowing that the British would vote “No”.
Hints emerging this morning suggest that the Czechs won't hold, and within weeks the cultists will declare a new European State. This depresses me beyond measure. I love Europe and loathe the EU. There is nothing in the EU worth the loss of British sovereignty - a sovereignty we have fought a thousand years to defend, for which generations of British men have shed their blood.

If our absorption into this EU State had been decided democratically by a clear majority of the British people, I would learn to live with it; I would argue the rightness of it, but would accept its legitimacy. As it is, the traitors within have worked to prevent our having a voice. I will therefore never accept the suzerainty of Brussels. Never.

Now is the time when all true British men must ask themselves what is their nation worth - and ask whether we have the courage and tenacity of our fathers in defending our nation from the depredations of an alien suzerain.

Renegotiation is no longer enough. The debate must now move to our complete withdrawal from the structures of the EU.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Black History Month: Rewriting history

If you live in London you may have had a leaflet from the Council through the door inviting you to participate in 'Black History Month'. It is, of course, a highly selective history. It won't tell you that Africans had a history of capturing and selling slaves that preceded the arrival of the first Europeans by centuries, that the culture of Benin was founded on slavery, and that of the 11 -15 million Africans transported across the Atlantic in slavery, all but a few tens of thousands were enslaved by fellow Africans, not Europeans. It won't tell you that when Europe abandoned the Slave Trade in the 19th century, the Africans went back to selling their slaves to the Arabs. It won't tell you the trade in slaves amongst Africans is alive and well today.

And when disseminating more recent black history, it certainly won't tell you how the Trade Union movement and the Left in Britain fought to uphold the Colour Bar against the nasty capitalist bosses who wanted to employ West Indians, Africans and Asians.

The Englishman has found a wonderful piece in the Scotsman on how Labour saint Manny Shinwell incited riots and racist mob violence against black workers in Glasgow; "Newspaper reports tell how he spoke to 600 sailors and it was quite a rabble-rousing speech about black and what he called Asiatic, or Chinese, sailors. This led to around 30 black sailors being chased by a baying mob down James Watt Street. They tried to take refuge in a sailors' retreat in Broomielaw, but the mob smashed all the windows and they were turned out on to the street." Good old Saint Manny.

In 1954 Birmingham Council's bus company was short of over 1,100 workers, including 550 drivers and 480 conductors. The Council bravely decided to ignore the 'no blacks' agreement with the unions, and recruit black conductors for the first time. The fury of the local unions knew no bounds. They demanded a ballot to decide the issue, against the advice of officials in the Transport and General Workers' Union. It was only when an interim agreement was struck to limit black crews to 10 per cent of the workforce that the drivers backed away from demanding strike action. And despite the TGWU's stand on the principle of accepting black crews, one regional secretary acknowledged that the basis of opposition lay in the belief that ‘white busmen are afraid that the status of the job will be lowered ... that it will become a nigger's job'.

John Lord, a full-time official of the TGWU, not only advocated the need for immigration control but also proposed that preferential treatment for white workers with regard to promotion should be enshrined in law. On the Midlands Advisory Council for industry, Lord continually carped about 'coloured workers' in Birmingham. But he was especially critical of Birmingham City Council's decision to employ black workers on the buses. He claimed that the introduction of 'coloured workers' had failed to remedy the chronic labour shortage, since even more white employees were now leaving in protest at this policy.

And I've blogged before on how London Transport, with a white workforce even more racist and militant than Birmingham's, openly boasted on recruitment posters that 'we don't employ blacks'.

The Englishman was spot on; scratch a Socialist and you'll find a bigot.

Markets work

Decades ago when I kept hens in the orchard of my Suffolk cottage, I recall a new girl friend gagging on the richness of the first real egg she had ever tasted - factory eggs from hens fed largely on fishmeal being universal in those days. Now, no child under sixteen has ever seen bacon rashers with rinds on them. Supermarket bacon is pumped full of water with brine and dextrose to blow it up to twice its natural size, but as the rinds don't absorb it they are discarded. Strange that we should spend so much Sterling buying Danish and Dutch bacon-flavoured water.

I mention this because I am shortly to eat the last of my real bacon for the week (below). This lot came from Borough Market, but there are farmers' markets and real food shops all over the place now so no-one should have the excuse of not being able to taste real bacon - for some younger ones, for the first time in their lives. And like the difference between real coffee and instant coffee, once tasted there's no going back.

And for those of you who like to stock up their store cupboards with tins, packets and boxes from the French hypermarkets but for whom the weakness of Gordon's pound makes a car trip unattractive, we've got French Click (no connection) - delivery free within London for orders over £35. If you can't cook without Knorr Pot Au Feu stock cubes or Sel de Guerande, and prefer real French coffee to the pale Tesco imitation, have the taste for a kilo of real garlic sausage or a wheel of unpastuerised Reblochon, this is the place for you.

Markets work. And not a Suricata suricatta in sight.

We must trust Cameron on a referendum

As Dan Hannan blogs, Very well: Alone. Or not quite alone. In a reversal of 1938, it is now Britain that looks to the Czechs for a breathing space. If they hold out, we'll get a referendum.

Cameron is right not to answer the 'What if they don't?' question. You can be sure that the most senior Tory counsel are applying their legal minds to this question and no doubt there will be options - there always are. The national right of self-determination forms the bedrock of all international settlements, a right defended by the UN, and no amount of Labour's totalitarian laws can alter this.

Pressing Cameron to answer now is akin to asking a general to reveal his battle plans to the press. As he represents our only realistic hope of overturning Labour's treasonous accession to the Constitution Treaty without a referendum, we must place our trust in him. He will be well aware what the Tories' chances of a second term are if he fails.

Detonating the Jihadists

It was only a matter of time. Anyone who has seen the X-rays of the drug stuffers and swallowers filled with sausages of cocaine will have wondered what if the packages were not drugs but high explosives. And now the Jihadists have set-off their first bowel-bomber to spectacular if messy effect.

Western technology will rapidly counter even this. Within weeks, all airport entrances will be fitted with multi-waveband signal generators that will detonate the Jihadists before they reach an aircraft. A few exploding Muslims won't keep the Brits from their Winter skiing.