Monday, November 03, 2008

A Few Bags of Leaves In The Curate's Yard

Pacifist Spain is rapidly expanding its arms sales.

Aged feminista Erica Jong predicts the second American Civil War, blood on the streets and no improvement in Jane Fonda's backache should Obama lose.

Noooooooooooooo !

UK troops may be deployed to Congo as a last resort to end conflict, the government has warned.

The European Union may have to send troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo if the existing United Nations force needs to be bolstered and peace talks fail, Britain’s Africa Minister Lord Malloch-Brown said today.

“We have certainly got to have it as an option which is developed and on the table if we need it,” he said.

So we're already overstretched and underkitted in our (IMHO foolish) attempt to make Afghanistan a democracy, and he wants to stretch the armed forces just a bit more, in the basket case of basket cases. Send the Belgians ! Or hire some mercenaries - Gordon must have a few billion lying around now he's abandoned spending limits.

Jack Straw talks the talk and frightens the Chick Yogs of this world (Justin seems a decent chap and writes well, but he insists on taking populist ministerial pronouncements seriously, despite 11 years of contrary evidence) brilliantly.

The public expect the justice system "to punish those who have broken the law", he will say, adding that it is time "to go back to the sort of plain English we all understand". He will suggest that some of the language around how to deal with offenders has been hijacked by the criminal justice lobby, which is concerned with phrases like the "criminogenic needs of offenders". Government policy should "recognise that being a victim of crime is one of the most traumatic things an individual, their family and their community can face", he will say.
"Offenders must take responsibility for their choice to commit crime, they must be held to account for their actions, and challenged to make a better choice in the future."

We're yet to see any evidence of him walking the walk, and IMHO the wait will be long and barren.

The training courses run by Juniper Training sound interesting. I presume the company exist purely to service Gordon's New Deal (aka attach themselves firmly to the stream of taxpayer revenue associated therewith) :

As part of the session, jobseekers were given a questionnaire, set by Juniper Training in Tamworth, Staffordshire, in a bid to boost their self-esteem. However, Mr Lightwood was left astounded after one of the questions asked if he ever "found it difficult to perform adequately or without embarrassment when involved in sex". The organisers defended the question, arguing that an applicant's skills in the bedroom were linked to their abilities in the workplace.

Hmm. Looks like the personal's not just political - it's economic too.

"I asked the woman who was running the session why on earth she needed to know about my sex life. She told me that if you're not performing well in bed it can affect how you do at work".

Vas vs Woollas.

Mr Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, voiced unhappiness at Mr Woolas's comments during a visit to India where he told business people there that contrary to the minister's remarks there would be no cap on the number of people allowed to migrate to the United Kingdom. He is quoted on several Indian news websites as saying: "There is a wrong perception that the new system will cap the number of migrants, but that's totally untrue." According to the Economic Times of India, Mr Vaz said that the number of skilled migrants entering the UK under the new points based system brought in by Labour would now actually increase.

Keith Vaz represents Leicester. Some interesting comments about how multiculturalism has panned out there in this CiF piece on the late great Orient and Baggies winger (but not exactly an icon of black history) Laurie Cunningham.

UPDATE - a Leicester correspondent writes :

I thought I'd set you straight about what the Guardian commenters said about my home town.
Mostly, the comments were really overwrought, and not a fair representation of Leicester. To pick off a couple of the accusations:
Race riots? Hardly - the odd scuffle maybe, but no more than that on a regular or mass basis. I've lived here for most of my life, and aside from a bit of trouble in the 1980s, not a lot that I'm aware of.
Night time in the city unwelcome to a white male with a shaved head? I go into town most Fridays or Satursdays and never felt unwelcome as a white guy... In fact, like many 'diverse' cities, the centre gets dominated by white people socially, with a few areas dominated by Hindu Asians - but even there, you'd seem more out-of-place than threatened.
The reason why I figured it was worth mentioning - aside from the fact that I continue to have a love of the old place - is that the Guardian commenters portrayed a rather cliched picture of multicultural city life which (1) while sometimes true, isn't always so - and is therefore easy enough for multiculturalists to bat away, and (2) ignores a more important point, that the alternatives are not constrained to either Oldham/Bradford barely-concealed hostility or Notting Hill melting pot "Rainbow Nation", because there's a third alternative, which Leicester represents - mutual indifference.
On one level, what city of 300,000 people is? But ethnicity does matter in seeing the divides. An interesting example is the continuing dominance of white people in running the city; equally, a Saturday afternoon at the Walkers Stadium (football) or at Welford Road (rugby) remains more white than the melting pot notion would suggest - primarily down to different levels of interest, and the same applies in reverse to the Diwali celebrations. The only points of contact tend to be economic - work and shopping - but I somehow doubt that community reduced to a partnership of consumption and production is really any longer worthy of the name.
The major source of ethnic tension to have emerged in recent times is the continued arrival of new, poor migrants - especially the Somalis. Most of Leicester's earlier migrants were either early Pakistani or middle-period Indian and Ugandan Asians (all aspiring middle class), and so tend to be pretty well established and with quite a wealthy element too - and that includes many Muslims, in direct contrast to the situation as I understand it in Bradford, etc. But they seem to resent new immigration far more than the white population does - there is reportedly no small amount of resistance to the Somalis from their co-religionists from Pakistan. That's another important dimension of Leicester's situation compard to the Bradford/Oldham scenario - its claim to diversity isn't just a cover for polarisation, its ethnic composition actually is quite complex. The upside of this is that it limits more open conflict (nobody's that dominant), but the downside is that the resentments often remain, diminishing solidarity.
As for the white population - well, as noted, some have left, and my guess is that the 2011 census will tell a continuation of that story. A number of old industrial villages have become major suburbs over the past 15 years. Among some of those people, and among many that remain in the city, there is a certain angst about the city's trajectory, but one that's under the surface - people don't like to proclaim it for fear of being labelled a racist. But the feeling of dislocation is there... And one thing that adds to that sense of dislocation is the sense that the city is now only ever mentioned (and certainly celebrated) nationally for its ethnic diversity - in that manner where, at times, one might be forgiven for thinking that the city could achieve its true potential only when the white people leave.
I'll finish on a positive note - in my experience, because of this background, many Leicester people have a far more relaxed attitude to race than I find in most places. By this, I certainly don't mean the equal opps multiculti types who seem to dominate the supposed authorities - they're the most uptight race-obsessives going, and they've spawned quite an industry. But most people aren't don't live in that world, and most of them aren't bigots either - and they find a way to rub along, and often very successfully - and this includes an acknowledgement of their differences, and even the funnier side of them. Some hope there about the possibilities of coming together. But all this tends to be between indigenous white people and the established Asian population - and certainly not the more recent arrivals (including Poles), who have arrived in a very different time, and are not encouraged either to integrate or even to compromise with the city's ways much at all.


Anonymous said...

Jack Straw talks the talk indeed.

He won't do anything else; this talk is all part of the kite-flying exercise that's going on so that they can be ready for a snap election if they hold Glenrothes.

Jack is just making a pitch for the Daily Mail vote, in case it's needed.

Furry Conservative said...

The DR Congo problem is an ideal opportunity for the EU to deploy its much vaunted 'Soft Power' (no laughing at the back).

Oh, of course not - Britain has to send the troops in. Again.

Edwin Greenwood said...

I was standing in the Wetherspoon in Leicester Square, sipping my glass of finest Polish lager, when the news came on the telescreen that we were now at war with the Congo, or was it the Tutsis, or the incoherent gang of rapists that goes by the name of the official Congolese army, or the UN, or somebody, and I involuntarily called out "NO!", much to the consternation and puzzlement of my fellow drinkers.

Enough. Another insoluble war for us to get bogged down in, so that Mr Broon, like his predecessor, can bask in the limelight as saviour of the world.

I no longer care. Let the Tutsis and the Hutus and whoever else get on with killing each other. So long as the Chinese don't get all the coltan when it's all over, I really couldn't give a monkeys.

Anonymous said...

Re Jong's race war.

A short open fight and America's multicultural difficulties would be solved.

Its the (not so) secret slow-motion war thats killing us now.

Anonymous said...


So there are two extremes. Ethnic conflict or indifference, or of course several steps in between.

Indifference being the best apparently. In which case whats the point of it all? Brits and Indians could have carried on being mutually indifferent to each other and remained in their own countries. To any multicultists out there; what exactly is the benefit that you believe we all get from this. Sure certain individuals benefit but in a wider sense what? What is it all for?

I think its too early to talk about how the Poles fit into all this, they are too new in the mix. Round here they do tend to hang out together but I dont see much antagonism between them and the local white folks. They often seem to get on well together.

To the Leicester correspondent, multiculturalism is a process, not an endpoint. What happens when the Leicester demographics swing decisively in one groups direction as they surely must?