THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Previous month:
April 2007
Next month:
June 2007

May 2007

Is this how the Crown Prosecution Service would treat you?

One of the best things about Britain used to be that the police had no special powers or privileges. Sir Robert Peel's original conception was of people employed to do professionally what any public-spirited citizen might do. The genius of this vision was that citizens need not fear their police. They were just exercising every citizen's rights; fulfilling every citizen's duty. The Jean Charles de Menezes case is clear evidence that we must fear them now. They have been set above us.

If you killed a man on the Tube, believing him (on slight evidence and that contradicted by his being too lightly clad to conceal a bomb)  to be a suicide bomber, you would be prosecuted. The police and the CPS would say that it was "for a jury to decide" whether your defence was a good one. The family of the man you killed would expect a trial. Quite rightly, justice would be done and would be seen to be done.

There is no shadow of justice in today's, all too predictable, news. The stark fact is that one set of the State's agents has protected another. So much so, that we do not even know the killers' names. Compare and contrast that with the coverage of alleged crimes committed by those who are not the State's privileged agents. Their names are bandied about for all to remember long after their acquittal.

I do not know that a jury would convict these policemen. I suspect it wouldn't. I don't think the CPS is protecting the killers for their own good. I suspect the objective is to avoid public discussion of the, probably illegal, instructions given by the the Home Office in the wake of the 7/7 bombings.

Of all the dark stories of the New Labour years, this is perhaps the most sinister. I cannot understand why the public is unmoved.

Labour turmoil over new police powers

Link: Labour turmoil over new police powers | Uk News | News | Telegraph.

OldbaileyAll my life, I have been proud to be a "law-abiding citizen." A lawyer by training and instinct, I am more sceptical than most about the benefits of law in general. In the criminal realm, I know it works best when it's simple, clear and generally supported. As a long-term resident of ex-Communist states, I know their oppression was more sophisticated than is generally understood. Part of their technique was to create a mass of petty obligations that always (a) justified police involvement and (b) ensured the citizen was guilty of something. I have talked to clever people who lived under such conditions. They are difficult to subvert, once established.

The British people have long been law-abiding. Our Government believes that any trash it badges as "law" will become Holy Writ to us. However much we might regret the 3,000+ new offences introduced by this most meddling and petty-minded of tyrannical governments, we know our society is in danger if we pick and choose which laws to obey. We may bemoan the devaluation of law itself, but we continue to honour the debased currency.

The stage must come, however, when we say "no more". I fear it is close for me. If I am stopped and searched under these proposed new powers when I am in England, I shall resist. I shall not initiate violence, but I shall resist any offered. What have I to lose? They are well on the way to turning our archipelago into a gulag. If all our islands are to be one great prison camp, what is there to fear from prison?" 

Things have already gone too far. If I were, for example, to recommend this course of action to you, I would probably be committing a crime.

We are told there are those in the Cabinet who have "reservations" about the thuggish thinking of Blair, Brown and Reid. Careerist cowards that they are, they will do nothing more than leak about their concerns to the press so that -one day- they can disassociate themselves. When that day comes, they will all claim to have been in the Resistance. But we shall know them for the collaborators they are.

Australian pub bars heterosexuals

Link: 'Australian pub bars heterosexuals'.

Here, in the final sentence of the linked artice, is the perfect example of a non sequitur:

Australia's equal opportunity laws prevent discrimination based on race, religion or sexuality.

Leave aside the idiotic choice of the verb "to prevent," which would be used here by no-one with practical experience of law. My point is that every preceding statement in the article contradicts the final one.

Try the simple thought experiment of replacing "homosexual" with "heterosexual", "gay" with "straight" (and vice versa) througout the piece. Would the BBC publish that? Particularly the wonderfully loaded language "...won the right to ban..."

Do the BBC's propagandists journalists even read what they write any more? Or have they simply no shame? As a libertarian, I am happy for any publican to apply whatever criteria he pleases on admission to his private premises. Gay pubs would never need to go to such expense in a fully free society.

The idea that this publican has somehow been given a right by the benevolent State is typical BBC. So is the lack of shame.


Why one and not another?

Link: Missing girl's body 'put into kebab' | Britain Today | Global | Telegraph.

Images The press coverage of the abduction of Madeleine McCann makes me uneasy. Since Blair first trembled his lip at the loss of Diana, Princess of Wales, we seem prone as a nation to impotent outbursts of un-English sentiment. I thought Blair was faking it at the time, but now I am not so sure. Has something really changed?

Blair didn't know Diana personally. We all had our "how sad" moment at the news of her death, but there are many such tragedies daily. I neither see how we can become emotionally involved in all of them, nor why the fate of one stranger should move us more than that of another. Coping with the tragedies in our own circle is surely as much as most of us can handle? Do we need to seek out more grief?

People I like and respect seem sincerely moved by Madeleine's fate. Nor do they see any inconsistency in  being emotionally involved with her, but not with all those who have gone missing before or since. Ellee Seymour is currently kindly and sincerely engaged in a struggle to respond to my comments on this subject at her blog by writing about a missing child every day. I feel quite guilty about it.

Compare all this human warmth with the cold tone of the Telegraph article to which I have linked. Why is little Madeleine's fate so touching, while poor Charlene's is clearly not? It is alleged that Charlene was used sexually by one or more men who then killed her. There is no hint of any feeling for her in the published account. The story is about the alleged killers, not the alleged victim. Whatever happened to Charlene, she is - like Madeleine - missing without trace. Why does her fate excite no similar emotion?

Is it because Madeleine is the middle-class daughter of two doctors, while Charlene was working class? Is it because Madeleine is an innocent, while 14-years old Charlene was somehow not? Is it that "Charlene" is a "common" name, while "Madeleine" is tasteful? Is it that Charlene was dark-haired and plain, while Madeleine was blonde and cute? Is it that Charlene seems to have met her end in a seedy Northern back alley, while Madeleine was abducted from a sunny Continental resort?

These are no doubt distasteful questions, but I think they should be asked.

Please don't misunderstand me. Charlene's fate is sad but is only a tragedy for her and her family. It is nothing to do with any of us who would never have heard of her but for this cold, sad tale. I expect no reader to emote on her behalf. I am simply baffled why people can remain aloof from her fate and that of thousands of others, while apparently feeling so much for one particular family.

Something is not right here. Maybe it's me.

Major energy policy shake-up

Link: Major energy policy shake-up in parliament | Top News |

NuclearThis is only about 10 years late. Of course the criminalisation of fox-hunting (and about 3,000 other activities) was far more urgent. It is good to see anthropogenic climate change theory serve a useful purpose. It is a wonderful Left-proof smoke-screen for the deplorably un-internationalist goal of achieving energy-independence.

Let's hope it works. Otherwise, we will be Finland with lots of foxes.

It's time to find that role

BeckettBritain has a habit of command, born of centuries of Empire. It is ironic that the Left accuses the Right of imperial nostalgia, because it is the Left which is most afflicted.

Why do we think that the citizens of a small archipelago off the European coast have the right to tell Chinese zoos how to feed their animals, for example? Sky News viewers yesterday were demanding that "something must be done" about feeding live prey to tigers. Short of a nuclear strike, what can Britain do to a nation of  1.25 billion people which is (a) one of our principal creditors and (b) has more than a million soldiers?

Of course, we have the right to an opinion but we also need the humility to accept that it's none of our business. It is pathetically undignified to make demands of people able (if they even notice) to give us the finger and laugh. Why do we humiliate ourselves by rattling sabres in the world's face, when everyone knows they are rusty and we have no soldiers to wield them?

The most stupid and dangerous phrase in the English language is "something must be done." Anyone who utters it, without first considering if there is anything that can be done, is a fool. This is not defeatism. If there is nothing practical that can be done now, we can work quietly towards changing the situation. Until we have, it is only common sense to keep our mouths shut.

The habit of command has led to a foolish primacy of foreign over domestic policy. History will condemn Labour for its many contributions to Britain's decline. One of the worst is its pathetic failure to secure energy-independence. North Sea oil was Nature's last gift to a lucky nation. Had the proceeds been spent on commissioning nuclear power stations, rather than chav-fattening, Britain's independence could have been ensured.

To be a British citizen abroad and watch the rusty sabre ineffectually rattled is truly embarrassing.

So much freedom lost...

Link: So much freedom lost...and on my watch | St Opinion | Opinion | Telegraph.

ShamichakrabartiShami Chakrabarti has undoubtedly done her best, but I share her disappointment at the losses "on her watch."

I think Liberty (which she leads and of which I am a member) went astray when it went into the "rights" business. The only "right" I ask for as a citizen is to be left alone, unless I interfere with that right on the part of others. I am far less interested in my rights than in my liberties. In particular, I am very interested in my civil liberties; those that protect me from the State.

Many of the things now characterised as "rights" in Britain are mere entitlements, privileges or benefits. Some are actual restrictions of other people's liberties (e.g. to protect minority groups against discrimination). They may be justified and they may be valuable, but they are not on a par with fundamental freedoms.

By trendily mixing such things with truly basic civil rights like the presumption of innocence, Liberty's members (and many others in Britain) have muddied the waters. In trying to broaden people's rights, we have unintentionally paved the way for Blair's astonishing attack on our free society.

Shami does sterling work and is a good, calm spokeswoman both for Liberty and for liberty. There is no doubt though that the organisation she leads is currently, by any objective measure, a failure. It has failed to get its message across even as New Labour has set about our fundamental liberties with utter ferocity.

Brits in America are now always asked about Blair. A colleague at my conference in Las Vegas was surprised when I simply said "I hate him." However, it took less than a minute to explain why. Any educated American understands habeas corpus. They are taught about their Constitution at school and it provides that habeas corpus shall not be repealed. When I explained that, by introducing a house arrest regime paralleled only in Cuba, North Korea and Burma, Blair had essentially abolished habeas corpus in the country that invented it, my colleague saw my point immediately.

Shami can't restrain a British Government unhindered by a Constitution. She can, however, direct more of Liberty's resources to education. Somehow we have to get the message of liberty into the propaganda factories that pass for our State schools. Until Brits understand what they have lost, there is little hope of their fighting back. Having given up what our ancestors fought for, we may have condemned our children to fight for it again.