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

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More children should be in care, say MPs

BBC News - More children should be in care, say MPs

Where do the men and women responsible for the institutional child abuse that is state "care" for children get their arrogance? Even leaving aside the extreme examples of the North Wales childrens homes or those in Islington under Margaret Hodge, people who, confronted with allegations of abuse, call in the police to find - not the abuser - but the whistleblower are not my first choice to look after vulnerable, unfortunate kids.

We do not need state employees selecting foster parents or other carers for their political views. Still less do we need them (as has been alleged in the comments here) threatening employees that if they so much as mention grooming by Asian men they will be dismissed for racism. The abuse of 'kuffar' girls by Pakistani gangs in the North-West went undetected for so long precisely because of such leftist wickedness by state employees.

And before I am accused of racism, let me remark that it took the appointment of a Muslim head of the local Crown Prosecution Service to overturn the previous decisions not to prosecute. Most Muslims in the area are just as shocked as you or me by what happened. They are no more to blame for those crimes than they are for the episodic nonsense (no doubt soon to be revived) of Christmas celebrations being banned as potentially offensive. Those at fault in such cases - from the vile to the trivial - are the politically-correct Left, most of whom are white and middle class.

With such people as the odious Joyce Thacker in charge of social services across the country, I have no doubt that the Rotheram case is quite usual. Few such stories make the papers (usually to be scorned as Mail-reader bigotry) but does anyone doubt that behind the scenes all children in care are subject to indoctrination; probably not all as subtle as rejecting foster parents who vote for the wrong party? God knows my own experiences in a state school in the Labour North did not expose me to any ideas beyond the leftist spectrum. There was the same smug assumption of moral superiority as can be detected in Rotheram council.

Let charity live again in Britain. Give meaning back to the word "care". Close all social services because, as bodies funded by force, they are intrinsically immoral.

The BBC is a worker's co-operative

A-JIMMY-SAVILE-640x468I applaud the BBC's decision to allow Panorama to investigate what it knew about Jimmy Savile's misconduct and why the Newsnight story about his alleged paedophilia was pulled. The video is available for a while to UK residents on the BBC iPlayer here:

Any organisation that is not dependent upon its customers, whether a state or private monopoly, will eventually become self-serving. During my career I was party to many conversations about how to maximise profit for the owners of our businesses and provide attractive employment terms for our staff, but they all turned in the end to what our customers would want, or at least accept. We spent much more time worrying how to please customers than please ourselves. Satisfied customers who choose to come back are the only guarantee for owners, managers and workers in the private sector that they can achieve their personal goals.

As will all state enterprises funded by taxation, the BBC has become, in effect, a worker's co-operative. The "customers" have to pay regardless, so they become irrelevant and the focus turns to the interests of its own people. No private business would survive the shit storm that is heading the BBC's way. The share price would now be collapsing as investors tried to get out before the lawsuits begin. I confidently and sadly predict however that the BBC will survive. It has the coercive power of the state behind it and will simply take your money to settle the cases. It is the left establishment's propaganda arm and they will rally to restore its reputation.

We are about to have an instructive, but depressing, demonstration of the realities of modern Britain. We will be able to compare and contrast the BBC news and current affairs teams' handling of this story with their campaign against News International. Just imagine if the phone-hackers had worked for Newsnight and Savile had worked for Sky News!

Predictable though it all was, it was still disturbing to follow Panorama's account of the decision-making process within the Corporation. There was lots of high-falutin' stuff about editorial independence and a clear concern for the BBC's reputation. There was also some po-faced nonsense about depending on the trust of a public that, trusting or not, it will continue to plunder by use of state force. Not one person (apart from those making official statements once the story was out and the lady reporter from Newsnight who will no doubt pay for it when the storm has passed) expressed any convincing concern for their customers-by-force. Some of whom have, it seems, been abused by members of the collective and friends under their protection.

I watched the faces of the people making the allegations and it brought back another memory from the days of watching Jim'll Fix It. I found a girl from my school in a drunken heap at the side of the road on my way home from a date with my girlfriend one night. I tried to help her to go home. It turned out she was in social services care and lived in a nearby childrens' home. When I offered to take her there she begged me not to. She offered sex if I would take her somewhere, anywhere, else. Indeed, "offered" is something of a euphemism. If I had a victim mentality, I would say she attempted rape. I was able to restrain her and decline her offer.

I asked if she had relatives and she told me about an uncle who lived in the area. In retrospect, I worry that she made him up or that her relationship with him was rather different, but I was a naive teenager. I took her to a nearby pub and gave her the money to call him. I left her in the care of the publican, once assured her uncle was on his way.

I later found out that she lived in one of the homes at the centre of a notorious scandal. It rather explained both her reluctance to go there and her use of sex as a currency. I now dread to think what she was going through while I was enjoying a safe and happy childhood. I am ashamed to have ever thought myself hard done to by my strict parents, when I consider what that girl had been put through by the "caring" state professionals paid to look after her.

Here is the fatal flaw in all collectivist thinking; the reason why public service organisations are all more or less corrupt and can never fully be trusted. Here is the reason why Britain's public intellectuals are not merely gullible, idealistic, fools but a serious threat to our welfare.

All organisations funded by force are essentially immoral.

In their detachment from the relentless reality of having to satisfy customers and in their assurance that livelihoods do not depend upon that satisfaction, selfish, abusive behaviours will grow among their staff. Whether in care homes for the elderly, childrens homes, the Parliamentary expenses office, army barracks or police stations bad things will happen not by accident but flawed design. To be clear, I am not saying that public sector workers are all, or even mostly, evil or ill-intentioned. I am just saying that a disproportionate number of the lazy, greedy and wicked in any society will be attracted, as Savile was, to positions they are able to abuse. Nor am I saying there should be no public sector. I am not an anarchist. I accept the need for a state. But here is a strong argument for it to be kept to an absolute minimum.

There is a reason socialist states have always had to resort to prison camps and shootings to maintain discipline and reduce corruption in the ranks. At least, that is, within limits that don't threaten the corrupt gains of their ruling elites. In the absence of Stalinist discipline, what happened at the BBC - the way the collective closed ranks to protect an insider - is not a sad exception to the rule. It is the rule.

They work for you? Ha!

Simon Clark - Taking Liberties - How stupid is Plain Packs Protect?.

I have never smoked (apart from the occasional celebratory cigar). However I do not understand the current campaign to denormalise (or is it demonise?) those who enjoy a legal, if dangerous, pleasure. Lots of pleasures are dangerous. I never know why smokers choose bungee-jumping or mountaineering as examples when they want to make this point. Going for a walk is dangerous. So is sex. Most accidents happen at home, so we should probably all go out for a drive. Except that driving's dangerous too. Essentially life itself is dangerous and ultimately 100% fatal.

The plain packs project is a particularly dumb example of the campaign's tactics. For once even the police, who are normally enthusiastic about any initiative that brings them closer to the role of their Saudi Arabian colleagues the mutaween, are pointing out the assistance it will give to forgers and smugglers.

More sinister however is the insight it gives into how our modern "democracy" works. The campaign to resist a damaging new law is understandably led by the trade associations for the shop owners and the manufacturers of the products concerned. This is sneered at as interference in the democratic process, though it's a weird democracy where people are not permitted to speak up in their own interests as long as they are open about their funding so that a suitable discount can be applied to their views.

The campaign for the law, however, is paid for by the taxpayers - including those whose commercial interests are to be damaged, those whose freedoms are to be curtailed and those of us who simply don't want our tax money wasted on lobbying for more laws! And the Minister concerned has been so indiscreet in expressing his own views during a public consultation as to which he claims to have an open mind that the campaign group we are being forced at not-entirely-metaphorical gunpoint to fund is boasting of his support.

As Lenin said, the only question is Who? Whom? I am pretty sure I am among the Whoms here. And so are you. And the Who in this case is not a rock band, but a bunch of self-interested statists whose contempt for us is total.

It's not charity if it's compelled

Charities getting too much taxpayer cash, says think-tank - Telegraph.

That government uses "charities" as a front for its activities may be news to the Institute of Economic Affairs, The Telegraph and the government, but it has been widely known for years. There is even a website - - that seeks to identify those channeling taxpayers' money fraudulently. For example, the site's entry on ASH Scotland reads;

Of the £468,500 ASH received in grants and donations in 2006/07, £403,800 came from the Scottish Parliament. The remainder came from Health Scotland (which is part of NHS Scotland) and the British Heart Foundation (which receives £4m from the government).

The site also reveals that a mere £8,000 of Alcohol Concern's £1.1 million income comes from non-state sources. In what sense can such a state-funded organisation be seen as anything other than an arm of government?

Most pernicious of all are those (like ASH and Alcohol Concern) that are funded by government to lobby government for changes in the law desired by government. There is no way that such "astroturfing" can be characterised as anything but fraud. It involves multiple frauds actually. Government takes money from taxpayers under the false pretence that it is needed to fund legitimate state activity and then gives it to organisations lobbying for a bigger state. Those organisations raise money from genuinely charitable citizens seeking to alleviate genuine suffering but actually run political campaigns at the instigation of politicians. The lobbying funded by the government is then presented as "evidence" of a public desire for more state interference along lines desired by the ruling party.

At the heart of this is a moral point. Charity is a wonderful activity. The religious say it's good for the 'soul' and the rest of us (agreeing with the sentiment if not the words) regard the charitable impulse as the litmus test for a decent human. But while statists will warp this story into an imagined attack on charity itself, the truth is there can be no charity in any state-funded activity. Every resource the government has was taken by force. The OED defines "charity" as

The voluntary giving of money or other help to those in need

Voluntary" being the key word. Government "giving" to charity actually prevents genuine charity by those from whom the money was taken by both force and (in this case) fraud.

Statists may believe government aid expresses the charitable instincts of all of us but it really only expresses the corrupt desire of those in power to buy support with other peoples' money. Worst of all it expresses the great lie at the heart of state corruption of civil society; that government is both more benign and more wise than the people and knows better than those who earned it how their money should be spent. Please review your charitable giving and cancel any donations to charities receiving taxpayers' money. Give instead to the many wonderful genuine organisations, such as the RNLI, that carry on the true work of charity.

STOP PRESS Devil's Kitchen (who coined the name "fake charities" and set up the Fake Charities website) has more (and better) on this subject.

Of petrol, pasties and the rape of Liberty

I have taken a break from the world for a week. I cruised the single-track roads and waiting smilingly in the passing places of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. I drank whisky, ate poor food and looked at magnificent scenery. I pictured my ancestors (for, despite Salmond's history-pokery, we are all one people) cruising those sea lochs in renamed Viking longboats and scratching a living from a landscape the fertility of which varies inversely with the beauty of the shapes into which it is arranged. It was great.

I did cast an eye over an occasional newspaper. Some fusspot civil libertarians were jeopardising the nation's safety, apparently, but the main issue of the hour was whether or not our political leaders really DO like cheap pasties from some out-of-control Geordie pie-shop. Oh, and whether it had been sensible for some politician to give filling stations the excuse to rack up the price of my motor car's food.

Then I got home and read the blogs. No wonder the politicians constantly hatch schemes to bring citizen journalists under the same 'regulation' as the dying, old-fashioned, corrupt press. The pie shop barely rated a mention and the bloggers were largely unmoved by the 'petrol shortage'. What warped priorities are these?

In opposition, where soon they will repose again, the Coalition was - if not red-hot - at least pinkly-flushed about civil liberties. Labour's refreshingly honest, open, totalitarian-with-a-brave faced-schemes to monitor all citizens at all times lest they act in their own interests were, then, unacceptable. Like most honest citizens who ask little more than to be able to keep the bulk of the proceeds of their own labours and to be free to spend their lives as they wish, both the 'Conservatives' and the 'Liberal Democrats' (note the use of quotation marks as wash-tongs to hold soiled concepts at arm's length) were agin 'em. Trust the people, they cried, in the hope of reciprocation.

But now they are in power and the world is a different place. Or at least the British state is, now that its chain of command ends with them. The French have their own notion of what is the 'English vice' but we are self-aware enough to know that it is, and has always been, hypocrisy. We (not just the English ourelves but the whole Anglo-Saxon world that bears our DNA) are hypocrites to a man.

Who would have guessed that these pink-faced products of old money were the most vicious Englishmen of all? Let's have the other lot back. At least while they rape our liberties, they won't pretend to love them. Such is the fun to be had - once in power - in bossing others around that there apears to be no option to elect any that DO love our liberties.

In the meantime, here are some of the more sterling attempts to do what I should perhaps have been doing when I was having fun. If you don't want to live in a world where the Greggs' pasty is at the centre of political life, I suggest you visit these sites and bookmark or RSS them. Oh, and the picture of my favourite view in the world is to soothe you as you read this stuff.

Big Brother is back

There's something secret

Listen you ignorant trollop

Email and web snooping is unworkable

Meet the new boss

This guy thinks 1984 is an instruction manual

OK, so this is not an April Fool

Tell me this is an April Fool, please

Someone loves Big Brother

Internet privacy - a draft letter to your MP

Digital Dave is watching you

What Davy said, in opposition

Watching your fall

and the BBC's take on it (more regulations needed to regulate the regulators)



Journalistic ethics

News of the World: bereaved relatives of 7/7 victims 'had phones hacked' - Telegraph.

I was tempted to leave the space beneath my heading blank, save for the link, but that would hardly have been fair. It's wrong except in jest (and this is no laughing matter) to condemn a whole group at one stroke. That's true whether the group comprises bankers, lawyers, journalists or even politicians. I will not descend to Andrew Marr's level.

There are ethical journalists. Of course there are. Some of them are even ethical at the occasional cost of their political loyalties. I am sure for example that Carl Bernstein would have been just as dogged in pursuit of a Democrat President. And that Pravda on the Potomac's publisher, Katharine Graham, would have been just as supportive of his work. Give me some time and I will give you a British example. While I am thinking, please feel free to suggest names in the comments.

When next I read or hear a journalist's denunciation of the ethics of the City of London however, I shall remember this story. I understand and share the indignation being expressed across the nation, but lack enthusiasm for the measures proposed. I fear that, as always, the wrong 'uns have spoiled it for the rest of us and that that the outcome of this affair will serve dark forces. For example, as I write, Ed Milliband at PMQs is in full cry, not for journalistic probity, but for political revenge and political advantage. It's not as disgusting as what the News of the World did, but his exploitation of public concern for his own advantage is still pretty sickening. And this is just the beginning.

Those calling for a  boycott of the News of the World don't read it. Those who read it, won't care; at least not until the story acquires a salacious slant - preferably involving a naughty vicar and a sexy bacon-slicer from the Co-op. Those calling for the a boycott of News International in its entirety have, I suspect, an agenda that has little to do with journalistic ethics. Tony Blair's best mate Rupert Murdoch has it in his own hands to cleanse his tabloid stables and he is well hard enough to do it quickly and well. Having followed his career for many years, I imagine he is waiting only to be sure that when he strikes, he does not need to strike again, thus dragging the story out. As a newspaper man of many decades standing, he has nothing to learn from Alistair Campbell about killing an embarrassing story. There are plenty of journalists to replace anyone he chooses to fire and his enemies are already so numerous that he need not fear to add a few embittered ex-employees to their number.

Crimes have been committed here, as have civil wrongs. There must be prosecutions and I am sure there will be civil suits. Those who are liable (whether personally or vicariously) should be held to criminal and financial account. But I sincerely hope there will be no new laws to limit the freedom of the press and no wasteful public enquiries. What was done was already illegal. The "something" that everyone is baying "must be done" is already provided by law. A public enquiry (which the PM sadly seemed to concede today) will be yet another waste of public funds. Now is one of those recurring times to remember that laws are evils in themselves. New ones should only be made when they are lesser evils.

As to the ethical question, of course journalists should have standards. Of course they should be prepared to stand by them, even at the risk of not being able to pay their mortgages. I make no excuses for the conduct of the News of the World's journalists and editors in this case. I merely observe (as is equally true of The Guardian's readers who are defending a self-confessed liar because he lied to make their heroes look good) that the morals of a newspaper are those of its readers. You simply don't sell newspapers by telling your readers what they don't want to hear. Of the professional media outlets, only the BBC, compulsorily funded even by those who despise it, has the privilege to set its own line.

Britain's yellow press is as it is because of Britain's moral bankruptcy. We should look to ourselves, and the choices we make each day - both as to the newspapers we read and the television programmes we view - and then acknowledge these bastard journalists as our offspring.

Midday train to Georgia

I am on The Freedom Association's Facebook list and the invitation to today's Freedom in the City meeting caught my eye. It was addressed by the Georgian Ambassador to London, Mr Giorgi Badridze. His Excellency has been rather forthright in the past about his country's relations with Russia. I knew the other side of that story and wanted to hear his.

I was living in Moscow in 2006 when Russia embargoed Georgian goods. The police came to Moscow schools looking for children with Georgian names, so that the whole family could be deported. Georgian wine (80% of which had previously been bought by Russians) suddenly disappeared from supermarket shelves and the Georgian-themed hotel in the same street as my office was speedily renamed.

I was also there for the 2008 war during which Russia siezed some Georgian territory. It is still occupied by Russian troops, both FSB and regular army. Understandably therefore, and with diplomatic relations broken, the ambassador pulled few punches. Georgia, he said, had shown that a country with a history of totalitarianism and corruption could move forward to a better life. He hoped Russia would soon also "join the civilised world".

I wince slightly to think of the reaction of my charming Russian friends to his words. I suggested to him that the real problem is Russia's continued (and unecessarily) negative view of "The West" (whatever that may be). Even the educated, intelligent Russian people I worked with could not understand why Georgia should want to join the West in general and NATO in particular. The Chekists in the Russian elite are using Georgia as a proxy to sustain a unifying, but rather nasty, anti-Western nationalism among the wider population. I suggested Georgia might have a role to play (given that - unlike us - the Georgian people enjoy Russian affection) in solving that greater problem.

He feared that the old goodwill had been killed by propaganda. He pointed to the fact that anyone with "southern" looks is now likely to be beaten on the streets of Moscow by nationalist thugs. Sadly he's right about that. An Anglo-Indian former colleague was taken for a Georgian or Chechen and thoroughly beaten while in Moscow to visit our office. As further evidence of the nastiness being dangerously fostered in Russia, he cited the hero's funeral (with senior politicians in attendance) given to disgraced Colonel Yuri Budanov. Strong stuff.

I read with interest the recent comments by Robert Gates, about to retire as the United States' Secretary of Defense. Personally, I would be delighted to see NATO disbanded, as I think it should have been immediately when the Soviet Union fell. It was formed as an alliance against the USSR and, while it genuinely sought (as any redundant bureaucracy will) to re-task itself, its continued existence sent all the wrong signals. I have no doubt that Poland, for example, joined NATO as a deliberate and typically exuberant provocation to its former comrades masters. Not that I justify Russia's behaviour, but it should have been no surprise to the West's governments that Russia reacted badly to Georgia's membership application.

What has all this fascinating stuff to do with the mission of The Freedom Association (or this blog)? Most of the ambassador's presentation was not about Russia, but about the reforms in post-Soviet Georgia. The government there dismissed the entire corrupt police force and recruited anew; beginning with the traffic police. Interestingly, road accidents declined during the handover month when there were no traffic cops! Public confidence in the police (polling at 3% before the reforms) has risen steadily since and corruption has, he claims, been eliminated.

Under the Shevardnadze regime, taxes were both heavy and numerous. It was impossible to do legal business profitably, as the whole system was designed to drive businessmen into the arms of corrupt officials. There are only six taxes in Georgia today (Income Tax, Corporation Tax, Value Added Tax, Customs, Excise and a local tax to fund local authorities). Income tax is flat and the results would, His Excellency claimed, "...put a smile on the face of Mr Laffer of the famous curve." GDP increased 12% in the year after the tax reforms and even now, post-crisis, was running at an annualised 8.5% in the first quarter. One of the questioners from the floor asked, "Could your government send ours a manual?" Quite.

I am not a member of The Freedom Association. After my flirtation with the Libertarian Party (of which I am no longer a member) I am in no mood to join any non-mainstream group at present (though I may venture a bit of Libertarian entryism shortly). Perhaps I should be braver, but I simply don't want to hang out with any weirdoes who might, by association, undermine the credibility of the common-sense political ideas I wish to advance. I was therefore curious to see what manner of folk might be found in TFA's ranks. There were a couple of eccentrics among the 20-30 attendees, including a splendid character in hiking-boots, bush hat and Union Flag tie, but most of the mixed crowd of all ages seemed well within normal operational parameters for the human race.

TFA does good work and - whether or not you decide to join - I commend its events to you. Now I am a Londoner again, I shall probably go to more of them myself.

Julian Assange: which side are you on?

Julian Assange: Sweden issues fresh arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder | Media | The Guardian.

The most interesting thing about the Wikileaks story is not the information published (was anyone really naieve enough to be surprised?) but the responses of state power everywhere. Totalitarians, kleptocrats, democrats; their angry reactions barely differ. The criminal charges brought against Julian Assange in Sweden, for example, are not so much stitched up as haute couture. All the casual observer will recall is that he was accused of rape. So much for the benevolence of states.

If Assange has endangered lives in Afghanistan or elsewhere that is to be deplored, but most of the leaked material is merely embarrassing to politicians and their servants. It reveals them (to whose surprise?) to be petty, stupid and monumentally careless with our money. He has provided a useful litmus test. People you should like and trust admire his courage and worry about his future. People you should fear and despise call for his head.

Every state represents a dangerous concentration of power and resources, all too tempting for those in charge to deploy against those who irritate them. If Assange is able to name Litvinenko's killers, for example, who can doubt he is in danger of an expensive and painful death? Yet even social-democratic Sweden is prepared to trump up charges. He is a brave man taking great risks.

Hilary Clinton is coldly furious, but who ever doubted which side she is on when it comes to State vs. Citizen? Sarah Palin - supposed friend of the people - has unmasked herself too. A former advisor to the Canadian PM is calling for a hit, and Mr Harper does not disown him. At the other end of the political food chain, Iain Dale quivers with indignation. Look around you. All over the place, people are revealing their true colours. For this, Julian Assange has put himself in harm's way. It's an odd choice but, as Dr King said,

If you haven't found something worth dying for, you aren't fit to be living.

Good luck, Mr Assange. Watch your back.