THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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May 2009

They still don't get it, do they?

It's not the system. It's the people. No system will prevent a thief from stealing. We may perhaps have less sympathy for a foolish householder who leaves his doors unlocked, but the fool is still wronged if burgled. The burglar is still at fault. Though I heard some cheeky pleas in mitigation in my brief time as a defence lawyer, it would be an impertinent thief who argued that it was not his fault he stole as the doors were open. Still less if they were open to him because he was a trusted servant.

The only plea in mitigation I could offer for dishonest MPs is that they were urged on, incited and abetted by their Speaker, the sorriest specimen ever to hold that august office. He occupies it by the brute force of Labour's majority, against all parliamentary tradition. He was put there to be partial to his own party and can only be judged a success by that one measure. He is a tribal thug, unfit for any office of trust.

I have already expressed my frustration that my limited command of Anglo-Saxon limits my ability to express my contempt for this crew of gutless sneak thieves. Mr Eugenides lays into the Speaker today as I would have been proud to be able to do. His writing, whether or not peppered with ripe Anglo-Saxon, is always splendid;

Contrary to what some might think, I am not contemptuous of tradition and convention - far from it - but it has been clear for some time that Speaker Martin is simply not equipped, by intellect or character, to occupy that post.
As a fellow native of the finest city in these isles, moreover, I do not say this out of some misplaced sense of snobbery. It is not the fact that he is from Glasgow that is the problem, but rather the fact that he is a Glasgow Labour MP of the very worst sort - a bovine, chippy, venal, knuckle-dragging, tribal, narrow-minded, grasping, slow-witted, nepotistic, mentally subnormal dullard. In other words; a Glasgow Labour MP.

Archbishop Cranmer forlornly calls upon the Queen to exercise her own limited constitutional powers for the first time in her long reign. He does so in powerfully expressive words;

Your Majesty, please dissolve this decomposing parliament for the stench of decay reaches right to the nostrils of God.

I fear he has as much hope of God intervening personally, though I think she would be well justified in law. It is obvious to the slightest intellect that, not merely the government, but this whole parliament has lost the support of the people. It has no mandate. Gordon Brown is too small a man to do the right thing. If indeed, after an immoral career of manipulation, mendacity and malice, he retains the slightest notion of what it is.


Statistical rape

Let the BNP speak – and drown in its own poison | Rod Liddle - Times Online.

Rod Liddle makes sense on the BNP, but that's not why I draw his column today to your attention. I have been worrying recently about the facile assumption by Harriet Harman and her supporters in the press that a "low conviction rate" for rape in Britain necessarily means that more rapists are going unpunished here than elsewhere. There are many reasons why a prosecution might fail, most notably the one that Labour Ministers never seem to consider; that the accused might be innocent. Setting targets for conviction rates is very dangerous. More justified convictions are a good thing. More unsound ones are not. It seems that Liddle has been considering the point too and may have found the answer;

Britain has the lowest rate of convictions for rape in Europe and the figure is still falling every year, a new study suggests. This is taken to mean that British juries have a bit of a soft spot for rapists and are increasingly inclined to let them go free, perhaps because our jurors are mad, ignorant, or misogynist, or all three. What the study did not reveal is that the actual number of men convicted of rape has actually stayed pretty much the same, on average, in the past 15 to 20 years – and at a figure which is comparable with most other countries in Europe. The big change has been a massive (almost twentyfold) increase in allegations of rape and consequent prosecutions which, by the time they reach court, simply do not hold water. The government, led by Harriet Harman, seems to have a perverse wish to prove that more British women are being raped than is the case. It has told the Old Bill that it wants to see more convictions; hence the enormous rise in prosecutions. Isn’t it this politically inspired mania for prosecutions that has resulted in our low conviction rate, rather than the notion that men commit 20 times as many rapes as they did a couple of decades ago?

Interesting theory. What do you think?


8 things about the blogger

Their Contempt For You Is Total: 8 things.

My reader(s) know that the Last Ditch is a graveyard to internet memes, but Martin is a nice young chap, a future professional colleague, a fellow-member of LPUK etc. Besides, I am in a very good mood still. So here goes with 8 random facts about me:

  1. I am exactly two metres tall
  2. My first choice of career was acting and my second was politics. I decided on law because I couldn't see how to combine politics with making a decent living. Who knew?
  3. As a teenager I was a member of the Schools Action Union, which organised a school students' strike. I was briefly suspended from school for my (highly peripheral) involvement in that.
  4. I met Mrs P. (then Miss D) in the sixth form at said school (a bog standard comprehensive) and we have been together for 35 years
  5. I introduced the Misses P to live Shakespeare by taking them to see Nigel Hawthorne's Lear at Stratford when they were respectively 11 and 9.
  6. At a meeting of my University's Conservatives, I was introduced to Edward Heath as "...an ex-Maoist..." He cheerily told me about his meetings with "the Great Helmsman"
  7. I owe my interesting life as an expatriate to the great property crash of the early 90s
  8. I own two iPhones; one English, one Russian (actually they're both made in China but you know what I mean)

I am tagging no-one, but do feel free if you want to.


Tribune of the People?

Unsung hero | Politics | The Guardian.

On Question Time last night, an audience member suggested a knighthood for the Editor of the Telegraph. The linked article shows that he is not the real hero of this story. The person who should be honoured is campaigning journalist and blogger, Heather Brooke.

Our heroineIt was Heather's initiative and courage which set us on the path to the truth.Being made "Dame Heather" would not be nearly honour enough for her public-spirited work for our democracy. I suggest she be made a life peer. Then at least we would have one member of the legislature we could trust to act in our interests.

Perhaps a mere knighthood would be reward enough for the voluntary efforts of her QC, Hugh Tomlinson, who represented her for free against the massed ranks of taxpayer-funded lawyers assembled by the the Speaker and the Information Commissioner. The Speaker tried to intimidate her into silence by putting her at risk of having to meet his legal fees if she lost in the High Court. She could have been bankrupted, while he ran no such risk as he played with our money. Thanks to her courage and the ingenuity of her lawyers, she was able to take him on and win. Unlike Messrs Cameron, Brown and Clegg, I could  read her article today and be proud of my profession. As MPs sickeningly try to cast smear the Telegraph's journalists for "receiving stolen goods", their profession can be proud of Heather too.

As we watch the odious spectacle of MPS defending their "virtue", Heather's words today speak volumes about them (including those who may not themselves have abused the system, but still voted to be exempted from the Freedom of Information Act, so as to protect the ones who did);

"And now MPs are feeling morose. Tough! They've had plenty of opportunities to do the right thing by parliament and by the people. At every juncture they behaved in the worst possible way. They refused legitimate requests, they wasted public money going to the high court, they delayed publication, they tried to exempt themselves from their own law, they succeeded in passing a law to keep secret their addresses from their constituents so as to hide the house flipping scandal ...

I think in order to begin the clean-up, it is necessary to get rid of those who created the mess in the first place."

She could not be more right. An immediate election should be called and the parties should decide whether to allow dishonest sitting MPs to be judged by the electorate, or to deselect them in order to offer honest candidates. In the meantime, Heather's name should be sung into our island story as the heroine she is. What do you think? Would a petition on the Number 10 website requesting her elevation to the peerage attract enough signatures?


It is NOT "within the rules"

I have been infuriated, as have many of us, by MPs caught with their hands in the till reciting the formula that it was all "within the rules." No, it bloody well wasn't. Here are the "fundamental principles" set out at the beginning of the "Green Book," which is the guide to members' allowances (the emphases are mine);

  • Claims should be above reproach and must reflect actual usage of the resources being claimed.
  • Claims must only be made for expenditure that it was necessary for a Member to incur to ensure that he or she could properly perform his or her parliamentary duties.
  • Allowances are reimbursed only for the purpose of a Member carrying out his or her parliamentary duties. Claims cannot relate to party political activity of any sort, nor must any claim provide a benefit to a party political organisation.
  • It is not permissible for a Member to claim under any parliamentary allowance for anything that the Member is claiming from any other source.
  • Members must ensure that claims do not give rise to, or give the appearance of giving rise to, an improper personal financial benefit to themselves or anyone else.
  • Members are committed to openness about what expenditure has been incurred and for what purposes.
  • Individual Members take personal responsibility for all expenses incurred, for making claims and for keeping records, even if the administration of claims is delegated by them to others.
  • The requirement of ensuring value for money is central in claiming for accommodation, goods or services – Members should avoid purchases which could be seen as extravagant or luxurious.
  • Claims must be supported by documentary evidence,  except where the House has agreed that such evidence is not necessary

Test the claims reported in the Telegraph against these principles. There is no way that even a semi-intelligent, semi-literate MP could have failed to know that they were defrauding the taxpayer. Frankly, a decently-reared toddler would have known it.


A sketchy celebration

 Sketch Gallery Restaurant London (Mayfair).

Sketch-restaurant-london-pierreBlogging has been light because the Paines have had a tense few days. As previously mentioned, Mrs P. had a nine-hour operation last week. Today her test results confirmed, after a nail-biting wait, that it had been successful. She has a long convalescence ahead, but the news is as good as it could have been.

We and Miss P. the Younger celebrated with a bottle of Krug on our return from the hospital, followed by a very jolly dinner at the Sketch "Gallery" restaurant in Mayfair. Frankly our mood was so good that no problems with the food, drink, surroundings or service could have spoiled it. However, to round off one of the best days of my life, the meal was very good indeed. The interior of the restaurant is splendid.

Your blogger is cheerily tipsy on alcohol of the finest quality. Britiain's economic misery and rampant political corruption cannot dampen his spirits. Mrs P. is weary and needs her rest now, but I am going to enjoy Question Time. I hope the audience managed to smuggle in the requisite rotten fruit. Tomorrow we drive North from London and at the weekend I shall head back to Moscow, my annual holiday spent in and around hospitals, but more cheerful than for a long time. I apologise for the off-topic rambling, but you may need to discount my comments here to allow for an unusually sunny outlook for some time!


Plus ca change

I once asked my late grandfather if he hated Labour for seizing his haulage business in the 1946 "nationalisation." He replied that he was more annoyed with Margaret Thatcher for not sharing the proceeds of its reprivatisation. Asked why, he said "My neighbours and friends voted for it. I would have to hate them all. As for Labour, they were stupid Socialists who knew no better than to steal others' work. She is a Conservative who should have more respect for property rights. Therefore what she did was worse". Looking at the Daily Telegraph today, his words came back to me. I wonder why.


You too can look this good

 Gordon Brown's make-up instructions left in taxi - Telegraph.

Gordon-brown_1398756a

  1. Transparent Brush. Foam all over.
  2. Small pot under eyes, dimple, creases, blend in.
  3. Clinique. Super balanced make-up. All over again, like painting a wall, and ears. Shut eyes over lids then with make-up pad smooth over liquid.
  4. Powder (dark brush) terracotta Guerlain, all over

It seems no-one in the Labour Party has the strength to give this hapless, jinxed man his political quietus. Maybe Clinique or Guerlain will offer him a sponsorship deal? Please, anything to get his hands out of the public purse.


It's hard not to be a swear-blogger

MPs Expenses scandal: Hazel Blears fighting for job over £18k tax dodge - mirror.co.uk.

Rapacious little vermin It is hard to restrain oneself from letting fly in the magnificent style of DK or his Greek friend not only because of the lying, cheating and stealing but also because, on this occasion, the focus on this stunted rascal is political. She is only one of many MPs who have exploited the system (and its reliance on politicians' non-existent "honour") to enrich herself disgracefully from the public purse. The Mirror, which (with the Telegraph) is one of the most craven agents of the Brownian Terror, is singling her out for the unrelated crime of lèse majesté.

Gordon Brown should be consumed with shame at the pigsty over which he has presided. Instead, true to his vile form, he is seeking to exploit the situation to destroy his "enemies." As usual they are within his own party. His moral compass may not be up to much, but his political compass would be useful to David Cameron as a targeting system. It is simply not enough to say the man is wicked. Anglo-Saxon verbal embellishments are required. I shall leave that to the experts.


You're blameless, Labour tells MPs

You're blameless, Labour tells MPs as poll shows damage done - UK Politics, UK - The Independent.

This is the stupidest comment to date in this affair. They really must be disconnected from reality not to understand the depth of the peoples' anger. The truth is they have done far worse than fiddle their expenses (destroy our education system, bankrupt our grandchildren) but their lying and cheating for personal gain are simple sins that ordinary people can understand. As for the "full approval of the parliamentary authorities", we all know that the system relies up on the "authorities" trusting the honourable members to live up to their name. It seems likely to have been someone in the parliamentary office dealing with expenses who has leaked the unedited records. I hardly think that suggests "approval." I rather think it suggests disgust, which is the only rational response to the outrageous conduct of people like Hazel Blears.

David Cameron must be embarrassed by some of his own MPs. It remains to be seen whether his own record on this explains his failure to deliver the coup de grace to his dying opponents. I do hope not. But at least he is not arguing with the electorate's verdict that the conduct of many MPs has been improper. That Labour doesn't understand that yet, is remarkable. The public will find it inexcusable.