THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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December 2006
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February 2007

January 2007

Am I alone? thinking that, once "hate speech" of any kind becomes a crime, we are doomed to tyranny by analogy? The advice given by a judge in a recent case exposes the idiocy of our present situation;

Next time, call him a fat bastard
Unless a Pakistani is inferior to an Australian or a Scotsman, why would it be worse to call someone a "Paki" than an "Aussie" or a "Jock?" There may (perhaps) be some argument for outlawing incitement to attack someone, but mere vulgar abuse should not be a crime.

Surely the only "racism" involved in the witch-hunts against some "Big Brother" contestants and Janet Street-Porter is the implicit assumption that the supposed "victims" are so pathetic as to need special protection from hurt feelings?

Are the people on the receiving end of naughty words diminished? Or are the people uttering them? The answer is obvious. So what evil is avoided by criminalising words? The "aggravated public order offence" with which Janet Street-Porter has been charged does nothing to protect anyone from anything. It only exists so that some politician can say he was "right on" on the subject of racism. A slight additional benefit is that a notable leftist prig has been hoist with her own petard.

Whatever happened to the advice we used to give crying children, to say;

sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?
By protecting certain groups against hearing bad of themselves, we are making them into permanent victims. Call someone a racist, a homophobe or an islamophobe in Britain and you have effectively shut down all discussion. These accusations are now so serious that people will go to great lengths to avoid them - even if that means steering clear of all who might make them.

That's why I believe the race relations industry has made the situation worse. After all, whatever heated words were really uttered over Janet Street-Porter's back fence, they would not have led to an arrest had her neighbour been white. She claims she has been falsely denounced. Whatever the truth of her situation - once you have "thought crimes" - false denunciations are a serious risk. Ask anyone who lived through Communism in Eastern Europe.

I have been accused of racism in the past few days on the pages of this blog. My contempt for the weaklings who resort to such techniques is boundless. Shouting abuse does not constitute an argument, whether you cry "Paki!" or "racist!" Those who resort to it are at best to be pitied and at worst to be despised. Sadly, in modern Britain, these feeble-minded slogan-yellers must also now be feared.

The inarticulate "celebrities" who, to the delight of the baying mob, will now probably be arrested on leaving the "Big Brother" house have been set up. Ask yourself cui bono? and the answer is clear. Endemol has rescued the ratings of its contemptible TV show. The show's producers granted the actress alleged to be the victim in the "Big Brother" case special privileges. They matched a beautiful authentic film star with a bunch of D-listers. They well knew it would stir resentments. The actress (accurately) called those housemates "ignorant". Their response was predictable. Endemol could not be happier tonight and will milk this story for all it's worth. The "right on" MP's who are wasting the legislature's time with calls for debate are putting money in their pockets.

The British working classes are not, as a whole, racist. I grew up among them. Treat them right and they will treat you right too, whatever ethnic group you may belong to. Call them names and they will call you names back. What of it? The real tragedy is that these women are inarticulate because they are uneducated. They are not uneducated because they are working class. My working class ancestors may not have had money, but they were polite and read real books. My working class colleagues in Russia read very serious books indeed. These ladies are uneducated because Labour destroyed our education system. They have been held to no standards of any kind and are proud of their ignorance.

Be that as it may, none of us should be held accountable for words uttered in heat. All of us have said things to our loved ones, in anger, that we did not mean. Should we hold people to a higher standard when dealing with strangers? Of course not.

I fear that the current stories will be used to justify yet more ridiculous laws; yet more aggressive witch hunts. The white working classes of Britain will be further demonised to justify more restrictions on freedom of speech.

The humane and intelligent Jewish comedian Jackie Mason expressed my view of these matters recently when interviewed about Mel Gibson's alleged drunken anti-Semitic outburst;

Let's be honest about it -- anybody who makes a life out of fighting racism in effect has to blow up racism in order to justify himself in his job he has. Otherwise he'd have to go to work. Otherwise he'd have to get up in the morning and get a real job


The Waendel Journal - Blogpower Testimonial 8

Link: The Waendel Journal.

Tony Sharp seems to be a modern English yeoman. Firstly, he's a conventional "unspun" Tory; an "active member" of his local constituency association in the shires. Secondly, he's a man rooted in his own community. I used to live in Northamptonshire. Wellingborough is by all accounts (except Tony's) an undistinguished town. Yet he clearly cares about it in a sturdy English way.

His attitude to France is that of Nelson. From the picture on his site (resplendent in the headset he wore in his former job as a local radio sports commentator) he looks like the kind of guy you would want at your shoulder, cutlass in hand, when boarding a French man o'war.

That a rootless cosmopolitan element such as I should find anything to appeal in Tony's blog is remarkable. It certainly surprises me. The urge to escape the narrow provincialism of my home town was the main engine of my early ambition. I wanted out of the sort of community where everyone knows each other's business and a nuclear strike on the capital would be reported in the local paper with the headline "Slight damage to local bus shelter". Yet, for reasons I can't entirely fathom, I enjoy reading his posts. Tony's blog is young (est. 19th December 2006) and he is still finding his voice. In his opening post, he stated his aim

"to comment on British politics in general, current affairs and particularly issues that affect the Northamptonshire town of Wellingborough and its surrounding area."

I am pleased that so far he seems to have focussed more on the "in  general" bit. I have counted only three Wellingborough-specific posts. It will be interesting to see if his blog retains its wider appeal if he writes more about his home town. I guess it depends how he does it. I have no interest in fishing, but there is one fishing programme I love to watch on TV because the presenter's pleasure in his hobby is infectious! All things are possible.

So far, Tony's subjects have ranged from President Chirac's failed Google-killer, through the "surveillance society" to an obituary notice for a former Wellingborough councillor. All are written in a homely, good-natured manner, although his language about Gordon Brown (who can blame him?) is unparliamentary. His openness is so disarming that one can only hope his wife's boss (and perhaps even his wife) doesn't read his blog. He is conventionally warm about the NHS, an organisation that only its mother could love, and stoutly dismissive of UKIP.

Tony, in his short blogging career, has effortlessly pulled off something rather difficult - at least for me. Although he writes about political subjects, he reveals his own personality in the process. Not that his is one of those artfully "matey" blogs. I hate those. He just does it by accident and, whether you agree with him or not, you find yourself liking him.

In the end, I suppose what the Waendel Journal does for me is provide reassurance, amid the mad stories in the daily news, that the England I know endures; that ordinary citizens go about their business and that they challenge the bizarre behaviour of their mad rulers with good humour. Tony's is a voice of normality in the wacky, egotistical world of the political blogosphere. Long may it be heard.

Next up The ThunderDragon

Catalogue of abuse in NHS care homes | Social care |

Link: Catalogue of abuse in NHS care homes | Social care |

No-one will look after you if you are too old or disabled to do it yourself, except members of your family or those paid for by (and accountable to) them. Perhaps this should not be true, but - as a generalisation and subject to all usual exceptions for particularly noble individuals - it is.

State "social" services are effectively answerable to no-one. Politicians achieve their goals by setting them up, funding them and periodically stating their noble goals. What they actually do (except when an occasional scandal has to be blamed on "bad apples") is politically irrelevant. Democratic accountability (flicking a switch every five years) is OK for general policy, but useless for day-to-day detail. Besides, Ministers are politically obliged to pretend that (bad apples apart) all is well, whatever their distant and unknown minions do. The alternative is to admit that State services almost always suck (which no Socialist can) or that Ministers are almost invariably incompetents who couldn't hack it in the real world (which no Conservative will).

This story may surprise Guardianistas, but it does not surprise anyone with any exposure to State services in Britain or elsewhere. An old school acquaintance works in a nursing home and tells stories more appalling than these. I went to school with pupils from the infamous children's homes in North Wales which were effectively run for 20 years as brothels by a paedophile ring of State employees. These stories are no accidents. They are the inevitable consequence of people working for politically-led organisations, whose promotion does not depend upon good service and who cannot be fired for bad service.

For all the Socialist clap-trap that we hear from the BBC and other media these days, my experience is that the cold, hard market is kinder than the State. No-one will knowingly pay to be abused - or for their Mum or their orphaned nephew to be abused. It takes "social" provision to achieve that, by taking their money by force and giving it to people with no incentive to perform.

Of course the poor, halt and lame should be cared for. But Government should limit its "social services" to writing cheques for private provision to those who cannot otherwise afford it. The families of those being cared for should decide where those cheques are sent because they are more likely to care. Of course private service provision will not be perfect. Nothing human is. Crooks, sadists and paedophiles will inevitably try to find jobs near to the vulnerable. There will be family members who don't care. Families are not perfect either.

But the providers of "caring" services are likely to perform better on average when their incomes depend on pleasing the families of those in their care, not on a remote and inherently incompetent Government.

Addicted to the 'net? No.


[email protected] (41% - 60%)
You seem to have a healthy balance in your life when it comes to the internet and life away from the computer. You know enough to do what you want online without looking like an idiot (most of the time). You even have your own Yahoo club or online journal! But you enjoy seeing your friends and going out to enjoy life away from your computer.

The Quiz at Quiz Meme!

H/T Dodgeblogium

MI6 and Blair at odds over Saudi deals | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

Link: MI6 and Blair at odds over Saudi deals | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited.

So, if national security was not at stake - as the Attorney General claimed on behalf of the Prime Minister - what was?

When a politician calls off an investigation into allegations of corruption on apparently spurious grounds, surely voters are entitled to be curious as to the real reason?

An unfortunate union


Today, as commentators everywhere are reminding us, is the 300th Anniversary of the Act of Union (actually, there were two Acts) between England and Scotland. In recent days, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and others have been praising its success. They are wrong. The Act of Union has been an unmitigated failure. It is perhaps the single greatest error in the history of the two nations.

For two nations they still are. "Union" comes from the Latin unus, which means "one". To unite is "to become one". Yet will anyone seriously claim that the two nations of England and Scotland have become one? Of course not. England intended to. For more than 250 years, the English hauled down the flag of St George and called themselves "British" (except when playing sport). Scotland, of course, never intended anything of the kind.

300 years ago, Scotland had few choices. Incompetent leadership and failed colonial adventurism had brought her to the point of collapse. England offered to underwrite the Scottish government's debt to its people in return for political union. An English spy reported that

"for every Scot in favour there is 99 against".
Yet Scotland sold herself out, because she had no choice. Rather like an impoverished spinster marrying a man she hated, she came to the altar with a murderous combination of shame and resentment. Poison in the breakfast porridge was thereafter always a possibility.

God knows Scotland was not the bride of England's dreams. However, the English approach was both more practical and more optimistic. The English, mistakenly assuming the Scots to be as unemotional and pragmatic as themselves, were quite happy to spend money on peace. The Celts north of the border had never been a serious military threat, but their infuriating habit of giving succour to England's more dangerous enemies had to be stopped. The choice was between compromise and conquest. England chose nobly, but wrongly. Had we driven home our advantage 300 years ago with full military force, we might well have achieved a far better solution to the Scottish problem.

The Union gave England false hope for change. 300 years later, the Scots still favour "anyone but the English". The only change is for the worse. Today, the institutions of our nation are infested by Scots pulling the levers of power to favour their own. This leads to such outcomes as life-saving drugs available to Scots, but denied to Englishmen, fees charged at Scottish universities to English students that may not be charged to Germans or Romanians and shocking discrepancies in care for the elderly.

In every material respect, the Scots have benefitted from the Union. The English played up and played the game with a will, systematically favouring the Scots people over their own to win their affections. The Barnet Formula means that to live in Scotland is to receive - by right - a greater share of the Treasury's bounty. So extreme has this become that only 163,000 Scots are net contributors to the nation's budget. The rest are "on the take" - effectively 4.93 million aggressive beggars.

Yet the Scots still see the Union as a failure. I think that's entirely to their credit. They could not, in the end, be "bought and sold for English gold." Their pride has not allowed them to get over the indignity with which the Union began.

Sadly for England, while the Scots are still too weak to defeat us, our defeat is the only thing that motivates them. The Union was meant to end a long war, but it merely turned it cold and nasty. It has cooked Scots hatreds into a dish as foul as a Scots kitchen ever produced (which is a big claim). It is time to take off the lid. Hold your noses this year, as Mr Salmond serves England better than any Scot before him.

Cruella-blog: Unbelievable...

Link: Cruella-blog: Unbelievable....

Hat tip to Dr Crippen for leading me to this delicious post. I entirely agree that we atheists should get priority for medical treatment over you religious types. We need to get the most out of this life as it's all we have. Why should it be spoiled by extended waits for medical treatment?
For you guys, this is just the waiting room for a better life. So wait, already.