THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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November 2008

Jacqui Smith at bay

Cur Her Indian counterpart resigned because his ministry was responsible for the forces responding to the Mumbai terrorist incident and there were criticisms about the speed of that response. No-one suggests that he was personally responsible for the errors. No-one suggests that he was consulted in advance about operational matters. However, he honourably accepted that he was politically responsible. Jacqui Smith's approach to her job is somewhat different.

Smith has political responsibility for a police force, which on the face of it has behaved disgracefully toward Damien Green MP and his family. In a wooden, coached performance during which her blink-rate was sufficient to fan Andrew Marr's wispy hair, she refused to apologise for Green's treatment. Holding herself rigidly (I suspect to suppress body language tell-tales of lying), she blanked Marr in classic New Labour style by repeating prepared phrases.

Worse, she slurred Damien Greeen by suggesting there were other leaks that were not "in the public domain" (thus confirming, in effect, that the leaks we know about could not justify the action taken). Pressed by Marr, she refused to say anything about other leaks - leaving Green's name blackened with no opportunity to defend himself. Asked if she had authorised wiretaps on her political opponent, she refused - understandably - to confirm or deny, but her eyes told the truth.

I do not believe for a second that the police acted independently in this case. Nor do I believe for a second that senior civil servants initiated the investigations without political direction. Why would a senior civil servant at the peak of his career take risks for political masters who would cast him aside without a thought if it suited them? Labour's paw-prints are all over this story.

Smith's performane was stilted and ultimately unconvincing. So many New Labour mediocrities seem not to understand the concept of civil liberties. It seems to me that she understands, but does not care. She is of the political "righteous" for whom the end always justifies the means. How long, I wonder, before the political master to whom she is such a fawning cur casts her to the wolves?

The heart of Islamist darkness?

Mumbai attacks: Are they British? - Telegraph.

Let's hope the Mumbai attacks were not led by British muslims, but would it be surprising if they were? I fear that Britain has long been the heart of Islamist darkness. Muslim communities in the North of England - not far from where I grew up - live entirely apart. When my flights to Manchester airport coincide with flights from Islamabad, it is apparent that those communities are being constantly reinforced, with two identical and roughly equal queues of Pakistanis holding British passports and other Pakistanis arriving to begin the process of acquiring them. British muslim men ship in pliant wives from "back home", rather than marry British-educated muslim women. There have been calls for muslim-0nly areas and examples of non-muslims being beaten up for straying into muslim territory.

All this is our fault, not theirs. If given the chance of a richer life for one's family without any need to compromise linguistic, religious or cultural traditions, who in their right mind would not take it? It was our local authorities, funded and encouraged by our central government, urged on by our academics who provided cultural cocoons for these colonists. We provided translators so that they did not need to learn English. We provided multilingual information to help them find their way around our public services and systems of welfare benefits.  I have lived in other countries and can assure you their authorities felt no such need. Nor would I ever expect it. It is our schools that are staffed by teachers who have taken "respect for other cultures" to the point of inspiring contempt for the weakness of our own. it is our academic establishment that has twisted the curriculum so as to inspire shame in the native population. It is our politicians who have raised the historical apology to a ludicrous art form and put us into a cringeing posture of submission and shame in relation to our new fellow citizens. As the lyrics of Show of Hands' excellent modern folk song "Roots" put it;

And we learn to be ashamed before we walk
Of the way we look, and the way we talk

Our public servants have betrayed us at every level and have fostered evil in our midst. If I were a young British muslim, I would have nothing but contempt for the weaklings who hymn the merits of every culture but their own. Convinced of the superiority of my own culture and way of life, I might well see a chance to take over the society around me and raise its level to my own. I understand the thinking of the radical British muslim far better than I understand that of my craven fellow-citizens who saw no need to welcome and integrate our newcomers. My Labour-voting mother-in-law has taken in her old age to attending art galleries, operas and concerts of orchestral music in the cities of Liverpool and Manchester. Both have substantial immigrant communities, but she noticed that she never sees any at such events. We have rightly learned to value their cultures, but it is chilling that they have not learned  to value ours.

If it proves that British muslims were involved, then the "multi-culti" ideologues of the Left ought justly to share the blame. They will be partly responsible not only for the appalling slaughter in Mumbai but also for the poverty and misery it will now cause in an Indian economy desperate for foreign investment. Foreign investment that will not now come.

A chance encounter

One meets so many interesting people when travelling. On my flight today I fell into conversation with my neighbour, who works for a German chemical company and is responsible for its Irish, UK and Russian operations.

He told me he was flying to Dublin. When I mildly remarked it was a city that I liked, he went into an blogworthy rant about how he used to like it (he has lived in Ireland for 30 years) but that it had been ruined in the past decade by its transport planners. "Ireland has employment quotas for the disabled", he told me, "and the city of Dublin must have exceeded them, judging by the numbers of the mentally-handicapped it employs." He then regaled me with a richly comic account of their various botched efforts to improve the city's communications.

Naturally, we discussed the relationship between Ireland and England. He had been won over to the Irish side of that sad story, which gave me the chance to rehearse some of the arguments in a series of posts I am working on about patriotism and nationalism. He shocked me with his account of a British squaddie at a checkpoint during the Troubles, carelessly poking his rifle through the car window and leaving it pointed, finger on trigger, at the head of  his then two year-old daughter. As a former professional soldier himself, he was unimpressed. I could only apologise. He charitably said you couldn't judge an army by the failings of an individual soldier (though he gave several other eye-witness accounts of sub-optimal performance by British soldiers). Frankly I would have expected far better of our guys.

In the course of a wide-ranging conversation, he came up with a more radical version of one of my ideas. I have often thought the trend toward "outsourcing" could usefully be extended to the UK's prison service. I estimate that we could (easily) save 75% of the costs of our prisons by having a Russian contractor run them for us in Siberia. There, they would provide useful jobs. The environment is, shall we say, naturally conducive to security (i.e. if the prisoners decide to make a run for it, so what?) As for tending to their reformation and reintegrating them into society, I am sure the excellent (and strictly-disciplined) system of state education in Russia would be ready to make a few extra million roubles for their education and training.

My new friend's version was rather more aggressive. He suggested that all the nations of the EU should pay the Russians half a million Euros per long-term prisoner on terms that they would ship them to Siberia, provide them with warm clothes, a tent, a knife, a handgun, five bullets and then abandon them. "Within two hundred years," he said "Russia would have solved her demographic problem and Europe would have a new  civilisation."

Well, it's a thought.

Rather than leave you with that one however, let me tell you one of his extensive collection of Soviet-era jokes, learned from colleagues at his Russian factories.

Aleksei and Sergei were walking by the Neva river. "Aleksei," said Sergei, "do you remember when we stormed the Winter Palace?" Aleksei said he did. "Do you remember all those wonderful speeches by the Bolshevik leaders, Aleksei?" Aleksei smiled and said he did. "And do you remember those tablets they gave us in the Red Army so that we wouldn't want to be with women?" "Yes," said Aleksei, "I remember". "Well," said Sergei, "I think they are finally working."

Have a good weekend.

Another step to the police state?

Tory minister Damian Green arrested under the Official Secrets Acts - Telegraph.

Over drinks last night I was explaining my concerns about civil liberties in Britain to a senior colleague from London. He thought them overstated. He agreed that some new laws were inappropriate, but said "There's nothing to worry about really. Life goes on much the same and we're too nice people in Britain for it ever to lead to a police state."

The very next morning, I read that "counter-terrorist police" have arrested a shadow minister for receiving leaked data from a civil servant. Browsing around about the story, I note that news of the arrest was itself leaked in advance. There could be no policing reason for that, only a political one. Meanwhile, in the blogosphere, Bob Piper is crowing idiotically about "Tory sleaze." I have never understood the affection in which Piper is held by other bloggers. He would have made an excellent citizen of East Germany - too stupid to serve the state in any direct capacity, but the sort of loyal fool who would immediately assume that anyone seized by the Stasi was guilty of something. It is precisely such people (and, sadly, people like my naieve colleague of last night) who make police states possible.

This story brings together several of my concerns about the deadening of political freedoms in Britain. No respectable Briton should be prepared to serve in a police force which is being used for political purposes. The officers concerned should be asking themselves why a "counter-terrorist" unit was used for a leak investigation. Either they should find it chilling that anyone who opposes the state is seen as a terrorist, or they should recognise that someone above them is trying to blacken the name of HM Opposition. Either way, they should be uncomfortable.

The Goebellian deftness with which the Government manipulates the press and public opinion never fails to frighten me. Guido speculates as to the real purpose behind the incident - and he may be right. I have to worry though about the mentality of a government which uses anti-terrorism forces so casually. It seems to me that Britons being "nice people" is no protection. If anything, it makes them more at risk.

Kerry Gold

Blogger: Kerry McCarthy - Post a Comment.

A creditable moment of truth from Labour MP, Kerry McCarthy.

The problem is, that some of these people are unemployable - not just because of lack of qualifications, but more because of lack of social skills or any awareness of what is right or proper behaviour.

It is a relief to know that some of them DO understand the truth about the British underclass (although Kerry is obviously not admitting that these people were fostered by Labour's policies on welfare benefits and education). We may have to wait a while longer for that admission.

I feel rather sorry for her about the kicking she is now getting in the comments on her blog. It's no wonder the average MP daren't speak the truth. Do go and read the comments though. I particularly love the wounded pride of one of her Labour trolls who claims (on being accused of confusing libertarians with anarchists) that he has two first class politics degrees. As some one asked, "Was it buy one, get one free?"

h/t Old Holborn

Thank you, Chancellor

Darling to unveil 45p tax on rich to fund recession package | Business |

Those of us building British businesses in emerging markets have always struggled to persuade experienced, talented and energetic Brits to relocate to the supposed discomforts of life outside the Home Counties. Thank you, Messrs Brown & Darling, for making that task easier. Thank you also to the Guardian for redefining the word "rich" in such a way as to frighten anyone with ambition out of wishing to remain in Britain.

How much longer can Britain continue to act on the world stage as if it were a wealthier/more important country than others which have trillions more in their treasuries? Bear in mind, of course, that any country with $1 on its bank account has "trillions more" than the heavily indebted British state. For that matter, gentle reader,  I can guarantee you are trillions of pounds richer than the British government. Sadly, if you are British, you do need to bear in mind the guarantees you, your fellow-taxpayers and your descendants as yet unborn have been forced to give of your government's debts. Debts mainly run up (though not usually quite so brazenly as at present) in an attempt to buy the votes of the economically-illiterate.

As Brown and his sock puppet adopt the Carol Vorderman approach to solving Britain's debt, I have never been happier not to be a British taxpayer. Those of you with exportable skills might like to brush up those CVs now - before they reintroduce exchange controls.

...another gadget

INTP - The Thinkers

"The logical and analytical type. They are especialy attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.
They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about."

h/t to Devil's Kitchen for pointing me to another little gadget purporting to analyse the content of a blog. This is the result for The Last Ditch. Make of it what you will. Personally, I think I am brilliant at "seeing and understanding the needs of other people," so must regard it as flawed.

BMI comparison

The GenderAnalyzer gadget mentioned in my last post seems to have caught the blogging imagination. Given that Norm's and Thunderdragon's writing was analysed as being considerably more masculine than mine, I thought I would compare some of the other bloggers I read regularly. Showing feminine scores as minus, the results were as follows. Make of them what you will.


Gender (sic) Analysis

GenderAnalyzer - Determine if a homepage is written by a man or woman.

ManThis (apart from the infuriatingly prudish use of the grammatical term "gender" to distinguish between the sexes) is fun. The software was 63% sure that I am a man. Just follow the link and type in your blog's URL to have the benefit of its opinion on this critical issue.

H/T Normblog (76% likely to be male, apparently)

The most inept criminals on Earth?

Wearefromthegovernmentandweareheretohelp copy I am amazed by the success that criminals have with simple "phishing" emails, given how implausibly illiterate most of their efforts are.

But is there really anyone so stupid as to believe this one? (click to enlarge). Even allowing for the fact that the fraudsters have cleverly set up a "" domain to imitate for purposes even more nefarious than the original's? Is there no honour among thieves these days?

But then, there are people stupid enough to vote Labour on the basis of similar promises...