Saturday, June 19, 2004

Vote Fraud Update

I did wonder whether I'd be accused of racism, the worst crime a Native Brit can commit (and it's not even illegal - yet), when I suggested that among the glories of multicultural Brum were now the voting practices of the Indian subcontinent.

Good to see that in George Galloway's words 'I'm Not The Only One'.

"We've been cheated," said a Lib Dem councillor who had just lost his seat in Aston, the place he described as the "jewel in the crown" of his party's strategy. He said local bigwigs had come into Asian homes, pressuring voters to cast their postal ballots in front of them - insisting they back Labour. "This is the politics of Pakistan or Bangladesh and they've brought it here," he said.

Even better to see that the councillor accusing 'them' of bringing it here is one Ayoub Khan. Little things like that give me hope.

The liberal leader in Birmingham, John Hemming, has a vote fraud website which I recommend. Didn't realise he's been banging on about this for some time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Sometimes you just have to love David Aaronovitch ...

Alright, so he's a classic product of 70s university leftism. He's a hypocrite who sends his child to private school, but opposes choice for parents without his sort of money. But we all have our faults - and I still think of him as basically a decent bloke. He gritted his teeth and supported Blair over Iraq when it would have been easier to join the left consensus and shout 'it's all about oil !'.

He likes to think of himself as a sophisticated, metropolitan sort of chap, easy about prostitution, laughing at suburban bigots, at ease with all sorts and conditions of men.

He's only lived in London for twenty-five years, so when he met his first angry taxi-driver the other day he reacted like a maiden aunt in a teashop when the truck-driver at the next table breaks wind loudly.

Where do these awful people come from ?

" ... the polls were showing heavy Ukip support, and yet no one I knew or met thought that the party of Kilroy, Collins and disgraced former Tory MPs was anything but a vaudeville turn."

'No one I knew or met'. I think that's rather sweet. As sweet as Tracey Emin's hurt-child reaction when people laughed as her artworks burned.

UKIP got 2.5 million votes against Labour's 3.5 million. There's a country that isn't London and isn't Hay-on-Wye at Festival time.

Our citizen of the world seems blissfully ignorant of the lives and opinions of millions of his fellow-countrymen.

He needs to get out more.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Tomorrow's Guardian/Indie Editorial

Now Blair Must Make The Case For Europe

The results of the European elections, and the rise of UKIP, have shown us all the limits of a policy based on the avoidance of confronting complex, and therefore potentially unpopular, issues. While such a sophisticated politician was well aware of the pitfalls involved in saying nothing, abandoning his principles, and hoping the issue would remain low on voter priorities, with hindsight this decision can be seen as fatally flawed.

His decision has had repercussions abroad. Our European partners despair of his lack of stomach for the fight and his failure to defend the proven need for closer European integration, which has weakened British influence with important allies.

It is now time for Mr Blair to stand by his European partners, robustly defend EU ideals, confront the Eurosceptic press - and be prepared for months of tough political struggle in the political bear-pits of Britain. Acceptance of the EU constitution is a battle which Mr Blair can - and must - win.

Time To Say 'I Was Wrong' Over Iraq

The results of the elections, and the collapse in the Labour vote to anti-war parties, have shown us all the limits of a policy based on personal conviction in the face of overwhelming voter hostility. While such a sophisticated politician was well aware of the pitfalls involved in fiercely defending his policies and sticking unswervingly to his principles, with hindsight this decision can be seen as fatally flawed.

His decision has had repercussions abroad. Our French, German, Russian and Chinese partners despair of his stomach for the fight and his defence of ever-closer links with George Bush's America, which has weakened British influence with important allies.

It is now time for Mr Blair to detach himself from American foreign policy, withdraw our troops immediately from Iraq, apologise to those newspapers which bravely opposed the war - and be prepared for months of weary diplomacy, emollience and fence-mending in the political arenas of Britain and the chancelleries of the world. Iraq is a battle which he cannot - and should not - win.

Monday, June 14, 2004

What Will The Guardian Make Of This ....

Manna from heaven for the 'Britain is a nation of immigrants' brigade.

Families who have lived in the English-Scottish Borders for generations could be descended from African soldiers who patrolled Hadrian's Wall nearly 2,000 years ago.

Archaeologists say there is compelling evidence that a 500-strong unit of Moors manned a fort near Carlisle in the third century AD.

The unit was probably mustered in the Roman province of Mauretania, in modern-day Morocco, by the emperor Septimus Severus and arrived in Britain in the second or third centuries AD. Aballava lay at the western end of Hadrian's Wall in Cumbria.

Mr Benjamin is calling for a major study of black Roman Britons. He believes that DNA tests of locals could reveal genetic links with modern-day north Africans, while skeletons of Romans found in the area might contain telltale clues to their childhood origins.

Fascinating stuff. Be great if it were true. But I feel a liberal myth coming on.

Link via Mirabilis.

Disastrous European Result

I don't mean the elections. Followed by the traditional post-defeat violence.

Maybe I'm particularly jaundiced this morning, having watched the game in an NHS casualty department festooned with Domestic Violence posters ('It is the physical, emotional, sexual or mental abuse of one person by another within an intimate relationship such as marriage. Domestic violence is, in almost every incident, carried out by men against women') and where the old Sunday Times magazines in the waiting area all carry a small sticker :

This magazine has been donated for the use of patients and visitors by John Wilmott Compensation Claims - Your Local Specialist Injury Claims Company.

Lawyers - why chase an ambulance when you can advertise in Casualty ?

My considered views on the Euro election results, written on May 31, are here. Tories squeezed from right, BNP squeezed from left. Whatever happened to the anti-war vote, so prominent in the council elections ? Even the Indie will have a job to spin these results as being about Iraq.

UPDATE - it wasn't a totally disastrous weekend, though the less said about Wales, England, Ireland and Scotland's rugby results the better. England's cricketers came back well to beat New Zealand, and I discovered the music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

"It's The Procedures ..."

No one is responsible for anything in our brave new world.

"Professor Pennington said BBC South East Today's footage, filmed by a journalist working undercover for the hospital-managed cleaning service, revealed "inexcusable" practices.

He said the hospital, which is used by people living in north Sussex and west Kent, was not even clean by domestic standards.

At one point during filming, the accident and emergency department almost ran out of paper towels - vital to dry hands after washing to prevent spreading infection.

Prof Pennington compared being so short of hand towels to running out of anaesthetic gas during an operation.

The University of Aberdeen professor also criticised medical staff for leaving used instruments in an operating theatre sink for seven hours and a blood stained gown on a trolley for 24 hours.

After watching the film, he told BBC South East Today: "It's been scandalously easy to find major deficiencies in this hospital.

"It's a dirty hospital, it's the worst I have ever seen.

"It's putting the lives of patients and staff at risk." "

A hospital spokeswoman said its cleaning service was being improved.

For God's sake, what improvements can you make if your staff seem unaware that you just don't leave dirty kit lying around ? What kind of cretins have they got working there ?

But apparently it's all down to lack of money. It's amazing what can be turned into a claim for more budget.

Rose Gibb, the newly appointed chief executive of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust, was shown the footage.

In response she said: "The hospital has got cleaning problems, I've been aware of those for the last six months.

"I've put a massive amount of improvements into them, and I'm going to continue to put improvements into the hospital until we get it to the level we want it to be.

"There are particular issues at the Kent and Sussex that are not found elsewhere.

"It's cramped, it's overused, the fabric is appalling, there's next to no storage facilities, and staff are working in unacceptable conditions."

Miss Gibb said it would take nine months to get the service to a high standard.

Medical technology has advanced enormously in the last thirty years. But since the matron was abolished and nurses no longer have responsibility for the cleanliness of the ward, we're apparently unable to manage such complex tasks as emptying bins and washing water jugs. The Kent and Sussex Hospital has one of the worst MRSA superbug infection rates in the South East.

Man Versus Horse

For the first time a human has won the annual 22-mile Man versus Horse cross-country held in Mid-Wales each year. Photos from last year's race here.

27 year old IT consultant Huw Lobb, who finished fourth in this year's London Marathon, won the £25,000 prize.

"Everybody was cheering and shaking my hand and telling me I'd have to buy them a drink with my prize money," he said.

And on a totally different subject, which areas of England have the highest house price rises over the last nine years ? The home of provincial values, the market towns, where average prices have more than doubled. It isn't just hypocritical lefties to whom they appeal. Of course, as newcomers arrive the culture which attracted them is diluted and decays (there's probably now as much heroin in Cirencester or Tewkesbury as in Blackbird Leys) - but that's another story.