Friday, August 13, 2004

"... there no longer is a left with a coherent message of hope for the human race ...

The always interesting Mick Hartley links to this more-in-sorrow-than-anger Nick Cohen piece.

Scott Burgess punctures uberliberal John Humphrys perfectly.

Tim Worstall has links to tales of GWBs flying and rugby careers (apparently he flew a plane, the F102 Delta Dagger, with an accident rate which made serving in Nam a safer bet).

And Timmyhawk has a roundup of reaction to the self-hating Bishop.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Self Hating White Anglicans

It's difficult to satirise the Church of England these days ... but Bishop-bashing is such an enjoyable pastime ...

"An Anglican bishop wants to ban the hymn I Vow To Thee My Country - because it echoes Hitler's Germany and is "heretical".
The Bishop of Hulme, the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, attacked English nationalism in a diocese newsletter.

He compares the hymn - which was sung at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales - with right-wing attitudes. "

The sad thing is that the Bishop doesn't appear to be able to read.

"... it actually says that my country's approach to things must be my first call on myself and that my relationship with God or what I believe to be right or wrong is secondary to that."

Have another look at the first line, Bish.

I vow to thee my country, all earthly things above.

See the bit that says 'all earthly things above' ? 'Earthly' is the key word, old boy. Means God still comes before country, as proven many times in our history, from 'that holy blisful martyr' to the Protestant martyrs under Mary and the Catholic martyrs under Henry and Elizabeth.

But alas, God - and truth - comes a poor second to getting liberal brownie points.

Stephen Lowe - no relation to the playwright as far as I know - is almost a caricature of the trendy liberal.

Gay rights, global arms trade, relaxing the drug laws, criminalising parents who smack the kids, the 'eco-diocese', the useless talking shop ("Identify and disseminate examples of good and problematic practice in the development and investment by faith organisations and their members of ‘bridging’ social capital ..") - there's nary a bandwagon goes past but he's on board.

What's amazing is that the Church still has one or two saints.

The Approved Method

Of getting away with mass murder - from God Save The Queen, who also links to this blog.

Bullets were pinging off our armor all over our vehicle, and you could hear multiple RPG's being fired and flying through the air and impacting all around us. All sorts of crazy insane Hollywood explosions bull**** going on all around us. I've never felt fear like this. I was like, this is it, I'm going to die. I cannot put into words how scared I was. The vehicle in front of us got hit 3 times by RPG's. I kind of lost it and I was yelling and screaming all sorts of things. (mostly cuss words) I fired the .50 cal over the place, shooting everything. My driver was helping me out and pointing out targets to me over the radio. He helped me a lot that day. They were all over shooting at us. My PLT was stuck right smack dab in the middle of the ambush and we were in the kill zone. We shot our way out of it and drove right through the ambush. The street we were driving down to escape, had 3 to 4 story high buildings all along each side, as we were driving away all you could see were 100's and 100's of bullets impacting all over these buildings.

Kind of puts - 'I was driving home and I didn't like an item on "PM"' into perspective, doesn't it ?

More Freudian Dynamite ...

From the Brothers Grimm.

It was my mother who murdered me,
It was my father who ate of me.
It was my sister Marjory
Who all my bones in pieces found
Them in a handkerchief she bound
And laid them under the almond tree
Kywitt, kywitt, kywitt, I cry
Oh, what a beautiful bird am I !

This one's pretty judgemental too.

Let The State Protect You

From the Government's Crime Reduction Strategy


If you think you have an intruder, only you can decide how to deal with the situation. Think about what you might do now – you might not be thinking clearly in a real incident.

You may respond differently if you are alone in the house, or if there are other people there.

You could make a noise and hope it puts them off, or keep quiet and hope they don't come into your room.

You could keep a phone in your bedroom so you can raise the alarm. This may also make you feel safer.

It is generally best not to challenge an intruder.

Brilliant. Do nothing yourself, try and hide, feel safer by calling the police. Great.

Fat lot of good it did them.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The Horror .. the Horror ...

I enjoy Johann Hari's work. But he doesn't half write some nagombi on occasions. Ok - strap in and hang on for a trip on "The suicidal 14 year-old who exposes the moral bankruptcy of Blair's prisons policy".

We start with the a mention of 15 year old Philip Knight, who killed himself in Swandea Jail '14 years and 1,006 prison suicides ago'. Apparently tackling prison suicides was 'top priority' for then Home Secretary David Waddington.


"And now? The Tory policy of jamming ever more prisoners into already packed jails has been brought to a climax by David Blunkett. Tonight, there will be twice the number of prisoners there were when Philip Knight last took breath. Our prisons have received almost no extra cash. Politicians have been warned repeatedly that overpopulated prisons cannot deal adequately with depressed, despairing inmates."

Leaving aside the infelicity of that first sentence (no - don't go there ...), Johann has a point. I'm not sure it's a point he wanted to make though. This government have maintained the sentencing policies of the Howard regime, which proved successful in reducing crime post-1994, but blinked when it came to the neccessary business of building more places. As I wrote last year

"The prison population has risen continually since Michael Howard's reforms first started to reduce some crimes ... At some stage it was obvious that either the trend would have to be reversed, or new prisons would have to be built. Both Straw and Blunkett have sat hypnotised as the prison population rose, and have refused to sanction the major building program which was neccessary. They are left with no option but to try to send fewer people to jail."

Back to Johann.

"Both the Tories and Labour have ignored these facts and continued a populist prescription of jail, jail, jail. (Michael Howard yesterday called for even more people to be jailed, attacking the Government for stopping at 80,000.) "

I do love these democrats who hate populism. I have a democratic mandate. You are a populist. When will the Johanns of this world understand that the number of people imprisoned should be a function of the crime level. That, and that alone, should determine the number of prison places available. Having said that, it is obviously wrong to pile people into overcrowded prisons. So build more !

"As a direct result of this policy, six women have to be cut down from their home-made nooses by prison officers in Holloway every night." And all six are totally fed up with it.

"David Blunkett is right, however, about one thing. It is not enough merely to condemn this. Critics of the Government's policy of over-crowded, suicide-infested jails need to offer a serious alternative."

You got it. Build more prisons. Single cells where desired. Don't put young people in with adults (or, if the suicide rate at Feltham is anything to go by, with each other).

Uh-oh. That's not what he means.

"In the reactionary soil of Blunkett's law and order policy, there are the fragile seeds of an authentically progressive alternative."

Johan is still a very young man - 24 ? 25 ? Let this cynical old fogey tell him that I've been reading about such alternatives in the Guardian since 1971. The play scheme doing such a good job - and just about to lose its funding. The dance workshop/car repair centre/theatre company/community arts group/co-counselling project/encounter group/you name it - always about to revolutionise aftercare/turn the bad boys onto art/revitalise the estate - and always underfunded. And then never heard of again. Change David Blunkett to Keith Joseph and that sentence would fit into a 1970s Melanie Phillips piece.

What's the recipe today, Johann ?

"One third of prisoners in Britain are released to "No Fixed Abode" (NFA); in some jails it is as high as 70 per cent ... NFA is virtually a revolving door straight back to prison.

Staring into this black hole is a key factor in the suicide rate in our jails, and in the decision of 60 per cent of the surviving prisoners to reoffend within two years of their release."

I see. One third of prisoners don't have homes to go to on release - so two thirds of them continue to commit crime.

Perhaps those who do have a place commit crime in solidarity with those that don't ?

"(Ex-prison officer Gary) Thurgood is keen to link these new homes with developing the work ethic in prisoners who have often grown up in families where nobody has ever had a job. Liverpool has the largest amount of vacant housing stock in Britain, so Thurgood approached the local council to see if prisoners training in bricklaying, plastering and construction could work on derelict or run-down housing stock and then move into the houses themselves on release.

The project has already begun; prisoners will move into their first homes later in the year. Thanks to the culture of hope this fosters, the suicide rate is falling.

I see. Give the prisoners building skills and their own houses to do up. It could just work, after a fashion. Imagine a whole area redeveloped by the ex-prisoners. Not many bags of cement or paving slabs would go missing from in front of those houses. Whether the same could be said of the private development a mile away remains to be seen.

Street crime might be low, too, in the immediate area. Where every house contains a conviction for ABH it may be that unruly youth would congregate elsewhere.

There are all kinds of possibilities, good and not so good, in an entire community of ex-offenders. But they're all unproven ones. "So why isn't this approach being rolled out to every prison in the country?" Because, Pollyanna, it costs a lot and we don't know if or how it'll work.

Britain has a choice. We can have a smart, sleek prison system on the 21st-century Liverpool model that seriously rehabilitates (at most) 40,000 prisoners. This would cut crime and heal the lives of some of the most abused and brutalised people in our society.

A sentence like that last one makes me sick. How about the people who are abused and brutalised but DON'T commit crime ? Or the people who have been abused and brutalised by the guys banged up in Walton ? You're spitting in their faces.

Theere is one sense in which many criminals are victims - they are far more likely to come from what used to be called 'broken homes' or never to have had two parents. I look forward to Johann's next piece raging against divorce, cohabitation and promiscuity and in support of marriage - must have missed the others.

Or we can have the 19th-century status quo: 80,000 prisoners warehoused like battery chickens, where prison officers barely have time to cut down prisoners as they twitch on a rope. To go for the second option is suicidal not just for prisoners but for every one of us. We are all more likely to be mugged, burgled or raped when unrehabilitated and uneducated prisoners return to our streets.

That first sentence is just risible. And the second again shows that Johann has a point - again not one he'd recognise. It's true that prison - that punishment - alone is not enough. What is necessary is the cultural drive to condemn crime and criminals the way we can condemn smokers and racists. The two things - attidudes to criminals and their punishment - react on and reinforce (or weaken) each other.

Take Saudi Arabia, where murder is punished by beheading and robbery by amputation. Were we to introduce such punishments to the UK, crime would fall, but not to anywhere near Saudi levels. The existence of such draconian punishment is a reflection of a culture that has no time for thieves and murderers. It's the culture that makes the crime rate low - the punishment reflects and reinforces the culture.

Our culture reflects a world where thieves and murderers are always at worst victims of circumstance ('the most brutalised and abused ...'), at best some sort of hero.

As long as the Howard League can always get a slot on Today, pro-criminal charities outnumber pro-victim ones by 20 to 1, and people pay columnists to write 'don't be nasty to criminals - you'll only make them worse', crime will continue to run at historically high levels.

A few last things. Victims of crime commit suicide too.

According to Home Office figures (p22), approximately 40 suicides a year are of the chief suspects in homicide cases. Assuming half of these are on remand in custody, that's 280 people - more than a quarter of your 1,006 suicides. You can also add the suicides of convicted murderers. Mourn Fred West and Harold Shipman if you like - I'll pass on that one.

Finally - for information on prison suicides, why not consult someone who gets closer to them than most - a prison doctor ?

UPDATE - Dan of Jackalope Pursuivant has the complete answer to overcrowded jails. As he says, why build when you can put up a tent ?

Cash for Good Causes

Like the Diana Fountain saga, which demonstrated the unique blend of sentimentality, fantasy and incompetence characteristic of much public spending, the Lottery Rapist story lights up the state of British 'justice' like a lightning flash.


For many years prisoners on release have been forbidden to enter licensed gambling premises. Meanwhile British culture has changed - the State lottery now enables gambling in the filling station, the post office, the supermarket. The rules for prisoners haven't changed though - our rapist is free to keep his £7 million.


The judge at his first trial in June 1973 jailed him for three years. In a British prison you never serve your full sentence - that would be too harsh. Hoare was released early and by November 1975, when he should still have been inside, he was back in court for another attack on a woman.


He had been released early once, only to offend again and be convicted. Surely that would be an end of early release ? But to the probation officers and social workers of the Criminal Justice system he was still capable of redemption, of being reformed. Give him another chance. Sentenced to four years in November 1975, less that THREE years later he was back in court charged with assault and indecent assault - crimes again committed when he should have been in prison. This time he got four years.

We must assume he was let out early and avoided being convicted again until June 1983, almost a year after he should have finished his sentence. This time the charges were rape and indecent assault, the sentence seven years. Naturally he was released early, and only five years after sentence was attempting to rape a retired teacher.

This time the judge had had enough.

"Paramount in my mind is that every moment you are at liberty some woman is at risk and I believe it to be my duty to protect, so far as I am able, women from the risk you represent.

"This is the last in a long line of appalling offences committed against women and the only sentence I can pass is one of imprisonment for life."

Life ? Fifteen years and he's on day release. He'll be out soon.

The superannuated hippies who make up the modern British probation service are convinced he won't reoffend. I wonder what odds you'd get at the bookies ?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

BBC Radio ...

Not a good morning. Woke up to Simon Woolley of Operation Black Vote worrying about police racism (no one from Operation White Vote was apparently available), then on to the evil Italians and their failure to give a warm enough welcome to illegal immigrants, before we hear Dennis MacShane on why we are so evil, racist and xenophobic.

Xenophobia literally means 'fear of strange things' but is generally translated as 'fear of foreigners'. You'd think the last thousand years of our history and more recent soccer violence would have taught even a Scotsman that whatever crimes you can lay at the door of the Brits, fear of foreigners isn't one of them.

Then it's time for the lady who's handing back her MBE because we discriminate against travellers.

Radio 5 at 9 am discussed 'is there a decline in behaviour and respect' with one John Harris, whose only qualification seems to be that he writes about rock for the Guardian and drops t's and h's in true mockney style.

Home again to the PM programme, where New York correspondent Andrew Sykes interviewed three 'staunch Republicans' - all of whom were voting Kerry.

Just another day on BBC radio.

You what ?

Always interesting to see what Googling visitors have been searching for. For some reason, "Eddie Mair gay" turns up quite often - a search which also turns up this bunch of chardonnay-saturated lechers. Don't they have anything else to talk about ?

Oh yes - I see they do.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Here We Go Again ...

From This Is Nottingham

A farmer was being quizzed by police today after shooting at a suspected burglar.

Police said the farmer, 73 - who has been burgled twice in recent months - had spotted a burglar at a detached garage at Keys Farm, in Ockbrook, at 6am.

A Derbyshire Police spokesman said: "The offender fled from the farm. During the incident the farmer fired a shotgun and a 22-year-old man was later found a short distance away, suffering from minor pellet injuries to his left leg."

The victim was taken to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary for treatment. Both the farmer and the victim are now under arrest.

Detective Supt John Briggs said: "We are carrying out extensive searches at the farm. We know already that the farmer had been subject of at least two previous burglaries in recent months.

"We have discovered that a car stolen from Leicestershire has been driven to the farm and abandoned. We now have to find out how it got there."

From the Gospel According to Saint Matthew :

But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.