Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Today Programme

Allowed one of its Christmas programmes to be edited by a wild-haired, wailing, lunatic Sixties throwback.

(They gave Yoko Ono a programme as well.)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Those Dreadful Attacks

It hardly bears thinking about. Five separate, brutal attacks on a despised class, defined by what they are forced to do to earn a living in Blair's Britain.

Whether the attacks are the work of one person or of many (a theory which shows how widespread in society is this hatred), the perpetrators are obviously deeply disturbed individuals, almost certainly confused about their sexuality, ill at ease and unable to come to terms with a modern Britain which has increasingly shown that old attitudes to what used to be called "the Daily Mail problem" are no longer relevant.

What do these self-appointed moral Tsars (and didn't Peter Sutcliffe claim to be "cleaning Bradford up" ?) think they will have achieved with their senseless assaults ? Like it or not, there have always been Daily Mail columnists - and, despite the best efforts of pursed-lipped, judgemental liberals, there probably always will be.

Poor Richard Littlejohn was merely trying to earn a living the best way he knows how. He doesn't deserve to be brutally attacked in this horrific manner, no matter what his lifestyle.

Were it not for all those 'aren't I liberal' people writing about the murdered girls as plucky little street heroines, he would not have been driven to write what he did.

Society is to blame. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone at a husband and father struggling to fill those column inches to buy Christmas gifts for his little ones.

He may be only a 'Daily Mail columnist', despised and disposable, to the curtain-twitching social worker brigade, but he's Daddy to those children, and we should never forget that in our rush to define him purely by what he does in order to put bread on the table and make those little children's eyes light up.

Which, I ask you, is the greater danger to society ? Mr Littlejohn's scribbles, which only harm himself, or the Archbishop of Canterbury's illegal war in Iraq ?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Strange ...

If I look at the main page for UK Commentators, it's completely blank. I can still see all the individual posts though.

I wonder if posting another post will make the thing visible again ? Or is this Blogger's cunning plan to force us all to beta ?

UPDATE - the extra post seems to have brought the beast back. Odd. Judging by the fact that my last 20 referrers match my last 20 visitors, it seems that I've had an invisible blog for the last 6 hours.

And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge ?

It's an article of faith on the political Left that saying bad things about asylum-seekers or immigrants will lead to racist attacks and murders. Yet the corollary to this theorem, that saying bad things about the natives will lead to attacks on them, is never put forward, despite the fact that saying bad things about the natives is more common, perfectly socially acceptable and actually state-sponsored. If you have a child in secondary school, take a look at their history texts. It's not getting better, either.

Brutal aspects of British rule in India during the 20th century will feature in a syllabus approved for secondary schools in England today.

Pupils aged 11 to 14 will study events like the Amritsar massacre when hundreds of protesters were killed by British troops.

I don't imagine Cawnpore, when hundreds of British women and children, prisoners of Nana Sahib, were butchered in cold blood, will feature highly on the curriculum.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority denied any anti-British bias and said that the optional unit for Key Stage 3 would foster understanding between the mix of nationalities in England.

Looks like the news of the death of multiculturalism hasn't reached the QCA yet. The 'mix of nationalities in England', eh ? I thought we were all British citizens and subjects of Her Majesty, united under Gordon Brown's Union Jack. You can see how telling the natives how bad they were and those 'of subcontinental heritage' how badly their forebears were treated will 'foster understanding', can't you ? As long as that understanding is that the natives are evil racists, of course.

The trouble is ideas have consequences. The fact that for every member of the minority population of England and Wales killed by a native, two natives are killed by a member of a minority community may at least in part be a result of thirty years of propaganda by self-loathing white liberals - for example the BBCs coverage of racist murder. That great iconoclast Yasmin Alibhai Brown addressed this issue in an Evening Standard piece a while back, which Edwin Greenwood has kindly made available.

I have talked to some black and Asian inmates serving time in prison for such (racist) crimes: most justify their actions as collective retribution for attacks on "their people". A knife for a knife, they think, will make for a better world.

As I've posted before , the current demography of the elderly patient population in our hospitals is very different from that of the medical workforce. As Trevor Phillips proudly proclaimed : "The National Health Service, the most British of institutions, was launched by a Welshman, built by Irish labour, sustained by Caribbean nurses and now held together by Indian and other foreign doctors with Filipino nurses, and Somali cleaners. That is modern Britain." I see no reason to imagine that this demography is different in the private care and nursing home sectors, although there'll be an extra dimension in the ownership of such institutions.

Demographics mean that, especially in our great cities, the elderly - who are overwhelmingly natives - will find that their carers and medical staff are more and more likely to be non-natives. Who, as noted above, have been brought up on stories about the evil natives - stories usually amplified and promoted by middle-class white liberals.

'Collective retribution for attacks on "their people"'. Call me old-fashioned, Yasmin - but isn't that called racism ?

'And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge ?'

"A care home boss whose staff goaded disabled patients into attacking each other was warned she faces jail yesterday.

Diane Butler, 47, was in charge of carers who hurled racist and cruel taunts at defenceless residents with physical and mental difficulties.

A year-long reign of terror included one disabled woman being urged to kick and beat a Down’s Syndrome sufferer.

Margaret Burdfield, 49, was also called a ‘white bitch’ and ‘ugly bitch’ at Craegmoor Residential Care Home, North London.

The three abusive staff were shopped to police by carer Basil Hanson who secretly filmed their taunts on a mobile phone.

London’s Snaresbrook Crown Court heard staff warned Butler to take action against the abuse.

Butler had denied knowledge of the incidents and said she was in the West Indies at the time. She was convicted of one count of wilful neglect but cleared of another. One count was put on court file. Judge Alan Pardoe told her: “The possibility of a custodial sentence is real.”

Islington Council shut the home last September.

Detective Sgt Paul Kingdon said afterwards: “It is abhorrent that they sought to humiliate residents. This appears to have been done purely for their own amusement.”

Carers Noelin Bailey, 31, Eulalee Hall, 51, both of North London, and Glendeen Nedd, 35, of East London, will be sentenced at a later date."

The BBC, Islington Tribune and Scotsman also have reports.

"Despite Islington Council regularly inspecting private care home, Craegmoor, in Holloway, and having “no cause for concern” over care standards, police were dramatically enlisted to shut it down last September amid claims of psychological and racial abuse.

The incident was described by adult social services chief, Cllr John Gilbert as “disturbing but rare”. He said: “Our three residents were quickly moved to an alternative home and have since settled well.”

“It (the home) was registered with the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and subject to its robust inspection regime. Our officers also visited regularly to check on the standard of care as well as to assess and review the level of care needed by our residents."

You know what happens next. What always happens when an organisation fails. "Review the procedures !"

“In (the) light of what happened, we carried out a review of our procedures for appointing care providers. We are confident our vetting procedures were followed and all the necessary checks into Craegmoor’s affairs were made before appointing them.”

The unpleasantnesses in Islington are not a one-off. I'm thinking of the innovative feeding regime which 89 year old Lucy Neal was subjected to in Handsworth.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Monday, December 25, 2006

Ther is no rose of swych vertu

Ther is no rose of swych vertu
As is the rose that bar Jesu,

For in this rose conteynyd was
Heven and erthe in lytyl space,
Res miranda.

Be that rose we may weel see
That he is God in personys thre,
Pari forma.

The aungelys sungyn the sheperdes to:
Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Leve we al this wordly merthe
And folwe we this joyful berthe;

As sung by the very wonderful Sinfonye - three Aussie feminists and a hurdy-gurdy. Translation here. You can hear a clip here. Merry Christmas.

(Image from this site)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Naught For Your Comfort

It's that time of year, when we look at the ONS Population Trends.

2003 - 19% of births in England and Wales and 47% of births in London were to mothers themselves born outside the UK.

2004 - 20% of births in England and Wales and 49% of births in London were to mothers themselves born outside the UK.

This year's figures
(pdf) are for 2005 - 21% of births in England and Wales and 51% of births in London were to mothers themselves born outside the UK.

The figures come with some commentary. British understatement is not dead.

The increase continues the marked rise in this proportion seen over the last decade: the proportion of births to mothers born outside the United Kingdom has risen from 13 per cent in 1995 to 21 per cent in 2005.

The trend does seem to be upwards.

When only those births that include the father’s details on the registration are considered, 21 per cent of births were to mothers born outside the United Kingdom and 15 per cent of births had both parents born outside the United Kingdom. These two proportions indicate that for a third of overseas-born mothers the child’s father was born in the United Kingdom.

Figure 7 shows that the majority of the increase over the last ten years in the proportion of live births to mothers born outside the United Kingdom is among women in their twenties and early thirties. The percentage of live births to mothers aged 25 to 29 born outside the United Kingdom has more than doubled since 1995 to 25 per cent in 2005.

So it has. It's young 'uns having the babies. Plenty of time to have more.

There's stacks of stuff in the report (a fair bit about migration and ethnicity), much of it gloomy for anyone who believes, as I do, that importing large numbers of people while making no effort to integrate them (indeed, while not even being sure that there is an existing culture to integrate to) is likely to lead to a lack of what's currently called 'community cohesion', with possible adverse consquences ranging from the kind of thing we're seeing in Fiji at present to the kind of thing we saw in the 1947 Punjab.

The fertility rates for the last 100 years are interesting. You can see the great boom after WWI and WWII, then the Sixties baby boom. Then something happens - several things, actually. The Pill, abortion more or less on demand, and the 60s cultural revolution. Fertility (TFR) drops by about 40% between 1957 and 1977, the time my generation should have been having their babies.

I was writing Christmas cards a few days back. While my circle of friends was probably more 'alternative' and 'radical' than most, and while a fair number have had kids, it's still sobering to contemplate such a number of intelligent, brave, creative women, now pushing 50, whose gifts and qualities will die with them.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Fight ! Fight !

Mirror, mirror on the wall - is Lembit or Sian the drunkest party animal of them all ?

More tasteless trash ? Try this.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"This is not a racist issue"

Following on from yesterday's reports of 'grooming' (isn't that what primates do ?) in Oldham, there are also reports from Burnley and Rossendale.

The Evening Telegraph can exclusively reveal girls as young as 12 have been targeted by gangs of men who pay the youngsters in cash, drugs, cigarettes and drink for sexual favours.

Police revealed in the past year, around 50 East Lancashire victims aged under 16 had been identified by special police and social services teams set up to combat the menace but they believe as many as 100 could be involved.

Many of the youngsters go missing from home each week to spend time with men who have groomed them for sex.

Officers said the predators, who initially approach the girls on the street, are predominantly Asian and community leaders have joined the fight to tackle the issue.

In an attempt to stamp out the abuse and help girls who are lured away from home, police in Blackburn, Darwen, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley launched a crackdown called Operation Engage last June but have now made it a permanent policing priority after discovering the extent of the problem.

At the same time police in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale (Pennine division) ran Operation Fruition to identify the scale of the problem of girls being groomed into sexual exploitation by isolated groups of men.

Muslim leaders have also been holding special seminars at mosques across East Lancashire to raise awareness of the problem.

PC Helen Dean from the Engage team revealed that in the past 12 months, along with Alison Hartley, from Blackburn with Darwen Council's children's services, she has worked with 31 children who have been groomed into this abuse.

PC Emma Shaw, who is dedicated to dealing with all missing from home cases in the Pennine division, has worked with between 15 and 20 girls who had been groomed into sexual exploitation by gangs of men.

But they are only the girls that they had been able to connect with and they believe many more are being victimised.

Since June 2005 police have issued 65 warning letters to men in the Blackburn, Darwen, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley area who have been identified through intelligence for harbouring children away from the care of their home or social services.

So far so bog-standard. You have to pull a wry face at the police response though.

Police stressed, however, that the issue of grooming also involved men, predominantly white, who target girls through the internet.

Blackburn MP Jack Straw today expressed his deep concern and said he would be raising the matter immediately with the Home Office.

He said: "I was frankly unaware of the scale of this problem until the Lancashire Evening Telegraph highlighted it but it is one that we all must now address including the Asian community."

Supt Neil Smith of Lancashire Police said: "This is not a racist issue. It is about the exploitation of vulnerable young girls for sex.

"The majority of cases involve Asian males but there are also a significant proportion of cases involving white men using the internet."

I think that 'predominantly' has been added by reporter Caroline Innes. The police phrase is 'significant proportion'. But the analogy doesn't add up anyway. It's not Asian girls who are being tempted into cars with offers of drink, is it ? Does anyone think white men on the internet are targeting Asian girls ?

And when was the last time a police report on misbehaviour by white people included a rider to the effect that there was plenty of crime committed by minorities ?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

What Does A Teacher Do To Get Suspended ?

"selling cigarettes to under-age pupils at the school where she was teaching" - Kent. Not only that, but she'd bought them duty free !

Fiona Forster, 43, of Tunbridge Wells, was booted out of her job at Meopham School in Kent after CCTV film of her allegedly taking cash from pupils in exchange for cigarettes was shown to a panel at General Teaching Council (GTC).

This enterprising woman is now teaching in the private sector.

Attending the Tehran Holocaust conference - Sweden.

"The teacher, identified as Jan Bernhoff, had given a lecture where he alleged that 300,000 Jews died in the Holocaust during World War II as opposed to the number of six million commonly used by academics."

Public lewdness - America. I think it's called indecent exposure here.

Hitting your son's basketball coach - ditto.

"The Westmont superintendent said school officials will need more information about the fight before making a final decision on Harrigan's status." Number of previous bouts ? Age, height and reach ?

Smearing paint on your bottom, applying it to canvas - then putting the video on Youtube.

Thank heavens for the more traditional extra-mural activities.

There's A Small Postette

At Biased BBC.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lordy ...

Coverage of Ipswich continues to range from the - well, I've not quite got the word for it - to the traditional foolishness which takes me right back. Even Reclaim The Night is returning.

Lenin, like Meaders, like Nick Davies, is spot-on with symptoms, diabolical with analysis.

"The fact that the demand for prostitution is increasing tells us something about the parlous condition of gender relations in this country."

Can't disagree with that, old boy. It's just the diagnosis that's up the Swanee.

The family unit has been the chief way in which the reproduction of labour has been guaranteed under industrial capitalism. The woman's subordinate role in the household and in society has ensured that the exploited male worker ... the Mad Mahdi 'family as capitalist invention' theory.

It's entertaining to read the 153 comments, from people who I'll hazard a guess are rearing about 5 children between them - especially when you consider that his political allies are a bunch of people who know all about the importance of the family - and are highly successful at both raising children in quantity and passing on their culture to them.

Media comment is mainly in the traditional 'aren't we Brits a bunch of sad, hung-up hypocrites when it comes to sex work ?' mode, with a few 'the debate shows how far we have advanced' dissenters. Traditional Guardianista ambivalence is in full effect. As I wrote many a moon back :

Is selling sex in all its forms, from car adverts through Page Three and ladmag shoots to Amy and Lara, a major cause of gang rape, frustration and impotence, and eating disorders (Ms Bunting), ‘violence against women’ (femiluni Julie Bindel), is it just another job - sex work, or is it ‘a girl power thing’ where the exploited are the poor sad male punters (A Good Thing) rather than the girls (A Bad Thing) ?

They still don't know - and they may never.

The other foolishness I've noted is the Saudi arms deal affair. From Shuggy and Paul Anderson on the left to The Lone Voice on the right, horror is the order of the day.

I'd recommend anyone commenting on this issue to take a look at Anthony Sampson's book The Arms Bazaar. Bribery and large arms contracts have been together for a very long time. If we don't bribe others will. Even senior people in Western democracies can be bribed.

Now it's not unreasonable to say - no. We shouldn't bribe. Let others do it - we won't. Fine. If you don't want to bribe, get out of the arms trade. Which means closing a large chunk of what remains of Britain's technically advanced manufacturing industry. And in this case it also means a rupture with a powerful (we've sold them all that kit) oil-rich nation bordering Iraq. You can see why HMG might blink at this.

Amazingly, the most logical contribution I've seen on this comes from BNP blogger John Bull.

I have no idea whether BAE paid certain Saudi royals a 'commission' or not, and now that the inquiry has been dropped we shall never know. But so what if they did? How was any Briton harmed by this? The point of the law is - or should be - to protect Britons from harm (either physical or financial). Even if BAE did bribe the Saudis, so what? How did any Briton suffer by this?

As I have said repeatedly, British governments are elected by Britons for Britons; it is not the responsibility of the British government to eliminate corruption thoughout the globe. The fact is that if we want to win foreign business we have to adapt to foreign business practices. It is absurd of us to try to impose our mores and morals on foreigners, just as it would be outrageous if they tried to impose theirs on us. Most foreign countries accept that 'sweeteners' are part and parcel of any business deal. If we want to sell to foreigners - which obviously we do - then why not accept this tradition? How does it harm us?

This attempt to apply British law in foreign lands is another example of the Left's attempt to impose its values around the world. Thank goodness on this occasion they have been rebuffed. So three cheers for the Saudis who have stood up for their own culture, their own values and their own traditions.

I'm not sure three cheers is the order of the day. But I take his general point.

UPDATE - the mighty Littlejohn thunders across the Portman Road turf, studs up.

I know this might sound frightfully callous in the current hysterical, emotional climate, but we're not all guilty.

We do not share in the responsibility for either their grubby little existences or their murders. Society isn't to blame.

That's just the warm-up ...

The tortuous twistings of the sisterhood over the past week have been a joy to behold. The 30-year-old Spare Rib T-shirts have been brought out of mothballs and we've been treated to the All Men Are Bastards/Rapists/Murderers mantra from assorted Glendas who ought to be old enough to know better.

We've heard the well-rehearsed arguments for legalised and regulated prostitution, as if we were living under the Taliban. The fact is, we've already got de facto legal brothels on every High Street.

They're call saunas or massage parlours.

When Blair gets back from saving the Middle East, don't be surprised if he turns up at the funeral of one of these unfortunate women to deliver a lip-trembling, tear-stained eulogy: "She was the People's Prostitute".

Monday, December 18, 2006

Lib Dem Immigration Policy

Is to replace ageing Native Brits with cheap Eastern Europeans.

(Now on special two for one offer)

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Light blogging due to

a) Christmas present getting

b) wedding anniversary. Gosh. It's flown by.

c) sealing a wooden bedroom floor - not so time-consuming, but emptying the room and finding somewhere to put everything was. Last coat tomorrow inshallah then get the curtains up and move the bed in. Just need to find a carpet, about 8 by 8, burgundy-ish, with a border, to put the bed on ... rest of the room will be bare boards with a few rugs. Old Habitats die hard.

d) work

in that order. A pity when there's so much to blog about.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Yes, It's Working Girl Fever !

"Good morning, this is James Naughtie in London"

"And Sarah Montague in a leather jacket, mini, and heels in Ipswich"

"Later in the programme we ask - should sex workers get more Government support ? Is it time for heroin to be given free to vulnerable key workers ? Should using the word 'prostitute' be a criminal offence ? But first, the news from Ipswich ..."

"... in the Five Live phone-in today - how would YOU go about finding a ruthless killer ? Call us on 909 or 693. And after the discovery of two more bodies yesterday, we ask - is it time for us to give these vulnerable girls whatever it is they want - if it will help to save lives ..."

"BBC Radio Whore - it's ten o'clock"

"Today in Woman Sour, we talk to a woman who say that sex work is, for her, the most empowering and liberating employment she knows - we speak with the mother of a young heroin addict who disagrees - and Julie Bindel on why all women will continue to be in danger until the last man is fed screaming into an industrial shredder."

"In Newsround today, fifteen-year old Danela talks about her abduction from Moldova, her journey to Britain and her life as a sex worker in a Gloucester massage parlour. And in Blue Peter, you can see her again, when she shows how to make a condom from an empty Tesco carrier bag and some strong elastic bands ..."

"This is Drive on Radio Five, with Rachel Burden in the studio"

"And Peter Allan in a rather fetching wig and fishnets, on an industrial estate just outside Lowestoft. Are you looking for business ?"

Is Sociology At The Root Of Our Problems ?

" ... I certainly wouldn't say marriage is a cure for poverty - the cure is more money, but I do see the flight from marriage as problematic: what we see here is the cultural ambiguity of ..."

... with a cry of "For God's sake !" Laban reaches out and turns off The Moral Maze after only thirty seconds. The flat Northern vowels of Claire Fox are replaced with the gentle hum of the computer fan and the occasional slight bumping of a hard disk. Bliss.

As Schopenhauer said :

"Pleasure is simply the absence of pain".


A few small observations on media and other coverage of the Ipswich unpleasantness which so dominates the airwaves and press.

a) the attitudes of a Reclaim The Night march back in the Eighties are now entrenched in editorial positions. The working girls are almost becoming street heroines, the punters are the scum of the earth, and while there may be a shortage of punters at present, there's no shortage of journalists wanting good interview.

b) I'm pretty sure last week I heard Eddie Mair on R4 ask a senior police officer "The pimps are asking for an amnesty - are you prepared to offer this ?" - the first time I've heard the BBC acting as intermediary in this way.

c) a number of bloggers and journalists seem unclear on the law. Prostitution has never been illegal in the UK, but soliciting in the street is, as is 'controlling prostitutes for gain' e.g. pimping/poncing, and as is 'keeping a brothel' where more than one prostitute works.

d) some writers who rarely if ever write about the many, many victims of murder are for some reason writing about these victims. Street heroines again.

e) if anyone can point me to the remarkable column I glanced at yesterday, which said the murders were the fault of a society which "either puts women on a pedestal or considers them whores", I'd be grateful.

f) I'm going to take a punt on the killer and do some outrageous stereotyping, based on my deep knowledge of a couple of Ruth Rendells and an episode of Morse. Once upon a time in a place like Ipswich you'd have looked for the strange, withdrawn farm lad - still at home aged 33, good with animals, bad with people.

Most of the native farm boys have been made redundant, replaced by young single Catholic lads a long way from home.

g) I lived in Bradford during the Ripper years and knew one of his prostitute victims (not professionally). It should be unnecessary, but I suppose I'd better say that I disapprove of all murders, no matter who the victim.

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's Political Incorrectness Gone Mad ...

Fame and being plugged by Ian Dale has gone to Bob Piper's head. He's given the blog a makeover and embarked on a shameless headline-grabbing campaign, suggesting that David Cameron is the secret love-child of former newsreader Jan Leeming and the late Dai Francis (pbuh).

Could this :

Plus this :

Equal this ?

We'll let you be the judge.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

10 Things I Wouldn't Do ?

Tagged by Sarah at St Bloggie... hope the little lad gets well soon.

1. Plumb in new central heating, new kitchen and bathroom - again. Life's too short - I should have paid someone. All those weekends with the family lost forever.

2. Get to ten. There are many things I don't fancy doing - but never is a big word. I might be desperate !

3. Tag anyone else with this !

He's Moved

Expat Yank has gone Wordpress - six weeks ago. The trouble with relying on Bloglines is you don't notice the move - you just wonder why he's not posting.

Having a favourite blog undergo a makeover is like the wife returning from town with radical new hairstyle. You'll get used to it and grow to love it, but what was wrong with the way it was before ?

Mysterious New Crime Outbreak

As reported by Norwich Union and a number of other insurers.

'Cash for crash' insurance scam hotspots revealed

More than 22,000 fraudulently-staged and induced motor accidents have taken place on UK roads since 1999 and the practice is spreading, it was revealed today.

Insurance fraud, eh ? How does it work ?

Typically in such cases, fraudsters drive to busy road junctions and perform unexpected, unnecessary and dangerous emergency stops designed to cause innocent members of the public to crash into them.

Claims are made to the innocent motorist's insurer, often including several accounts of fictitious injuries from members of the criminal gang.

For each successful scam, the criminals can net up to £30,000 and the IFB said there was growing evidence to show that the proceeds from this type of fraud were used to fund other forms of serious crime, including drugs trafficking and gun running.

Fraudulent insurance claims meanwhile were adding 5% to the premiums paid by the honest public.

Where's this happening then ?

The "cash for crash" number one hotspot was Blackburn, where there have been 1,710 incidents over the last seven years, according to figures from the recently-formed Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB).

The next worst locations were Bradford (1,669 incidents), Birmingham (1,510), Oldham (1,034), Bolton (986) and Manchester (979). The scam was first spotted in North West of England but had now spread to London and the South East, said the IFB.

Blackburn, Bradford, Birmingham, Oldham, Bolton, Manchester. How very strange. I'm sure those places share something in common. Let's take a look at the detailed data (pdf).

After Manchester, the scallies of Liverpool - then Preston, East London, Luton. Still seeing the pattern. Twickenham, Harrow, Leeds, Southall. It's still there.

What have these places all got in common ? Obvious, isn't it. They all elect Labour or Lib Dem MPs !

UPDATE - the commenters at the Manchester Evening News have noticed too.

What the Butler Drank

When I heard yesterday that the Anglican Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, had been mugged, my initial reaction was highly unChristian.

"Perhaps he'll change his mind about those poor criminals, victims of our punitive society" thought I. Tom Butler is so woolly and so liberal-left he makes Rasputin look like Pope Benedict. If it's in the Guardian or Indie it'll be on a Southwark press release afore too long.

Turned out the mugging may have been self-inflicted. But mitres off to the Bishop for his brilliant one-liner. Say what you like, the man's got style.

The Right Reverend Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, reportedly staggered home from an embassy function and climbed into the back of a stranger's Mercedes, where he started throwing an infant's toys. He was pulled out but toppled over and suffered several head wounds.

Asked to explain himself, he is claimed to have said: 'I'm the Bishop of Southwark. It's what I do.'

Almost as amazing is the revelation that people in 2006 go for a drink in London and leave their Mercedes unlocked.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Death

It's amazing how little publicity a murder can get. Some get the full BBC treatment - others get a couple of lines in a local paper.

If anyone knows anything else about the death in Bilston, Staffs of Irene Norman, or about her killer Donald Edward Benion, I'd be interested. What prompts a 37 year old man to attack his 84-year old neighbour and drown her in the bath ? Sort of thing a disturbed teenager might do. Poor lady.

I can find stuff here :

4th. December 2002


An 84-year-old woman has been found drowned in her home in the Black Country. Officers discovered Irene Norman at her address in Fairway Green, Stowlawn, Bilston, after a neighbour became worried and raised the alarm. A post-mortem into her death revealed she had also suffered facial injuries, said West Midlands Police.


A man has appeared at Wolverhampton Magistrates' Court charged with the murder of an 84-year-old woman who was found beaten and drowned in her home. Donald Benion was accused of killing Irene Norman at her home in Bilston. The 37-year-old father-of-two spoke only to confirm his personal details. He was remanded in custody and will reappear in court next week.

Various pay-links to Evening Mail stories at this site :

OAP, 84, killed for no reason.(News)
Birmingham Evening Mail (England); Apr 5, 2004; 105 Words ... hospital. Judge Frank Chapman told Donald Benion at Wolverhampton Crown Court: 'You killed ... robust old lady for no reason whatsoever.' Benion, 39, of Fairway Green, Bilston, admitted ... order. Rachel Brand QC, prosecuting, said Benion's mental problems were characterised by ...
A MAN who beat up his 84-year-old neighbour before drowning her in the bath has been told he will ...
OAP bath murder charge.(News)
Birmingham Evening Mail (England); Dec 6, 2002; 67 Words ... an elderly neighbour found drowned in her bath. Donald Edward Benion, 37, was remanded in custody at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court ... November 27. She had suffered facial injuries. Father-of-two Benion, of Fairway Green, Stowlawn, will appear at Wolverhampton Crown ...
Man on bath death charge.(News)
The Birmingham Post (England); Dec 6, 2002; 83 Words ... elderly neighbour who was found drowned in her bath. Donald Edward Benion (37) was remanded in custody at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court ... at her home in the Stowlawn area of the city on November 27. Benion, of Fairway Green, Stowlawn, was ordered to appear at Wolverhampton ...

And here :

Carers failed to spot killer

A HEALTH worker was unaware for more than a year that she had responsibility for a mentally ill patient who went on to kill a pensioner, a damning report found.

Irene Norman, aged 84, was drowned in the bath at her home in Bilston, Wolverhampton, by neighbour Donald Benion on November 27, 2002.

Benion admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility when he appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court in February 2004. Two months later he was sentenced and ordered to be detained indefinitely in a secure mental unit outside Wolverhampton.

A report to the NHS West Midlands board yesterday highlighted "a range of concerns that collectively allowed" Benion to fall out of contact with mental health services.

In September 2001 his care coordinator left the trust and his case was allocated to another care worker but, according to the inquiry, she did not become aware of this responsibility until October 2002, a month before he killed Mrs Norman.

The report - compiled by Consequence UK, Hampshire Part-nership NHS Trust and South West London and St George's NHS Trust - does not identify Mrs Norman or Benion, who it refers to as W1.

It says: "W1's care and management fell short of the standards one would have expected between September 2001 and November 27, 2002. Whilst there are no guarantees contact with W1 would have revealed any behaviour suggestive of an increase in risk factors, the fact he was not seen leaves this open to question."

Mrs Norman's granddaughter, Kerri John, yesterday criticised Wolverhampton Primary Care Trust and the SHA for delays in the report.

In a statement yesterday, she said: "Although the report has exceeded expectations and provides answers, I remain disappointed we had to be persistent to ensure the independent investigation occurred. It took me 16 months of phone calls and letter writing before the investigation was commissioned."

Wolverhampton PCT has drawn up an action plan in line with the raft of recommendations, primarily to improve training for care coordinators over care programmes.

And here :

A health worker did not know for more than a year she was supposed to be responsible for a mentally ill patient who became a crazed killer and drowned a Black Country pensioner, a damning report has revealed.

Widow Irene Norman, aged 84, was kicked and dragged into her bath by her neighbour Donald Benion in Stowlawn, Bilston, on November 27, 2002.

Benion will remain in a secure mental hospital for the rest of his life after pleading guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility in February 2004.

An inquiry, which took 16 months of complaints by the victim’s family to be commissioned, revealed he received inadequate mental health care from Wolverhampton City Primary Care Trust (PCT).

It highlighted “a range of concerns that collectively allowed” Benion to fall out of contact with mental health services, the West Midlands NHS board heard yesterday.

In September 2001 Benion’s care co-ordinator left the trust and his case was allocated to another care worker, but she did not become aware of this responsibility until October 2002 - a month before he killed Mrs Norman.

The investigation referred to Benion as W1. Among the failures highlighed were:

The hand-over of care co-ordination responsibility in September 2001 was ineffective.

The requested and required review of how his care programme was dealt with did not happen.

The report said: “Whilst there are no guarantees contact with W1 would have revealed any behaviour suggestive of an increase in his risk factors, the fact that he was not seen leaves this open to question.”

By Health Correspondent Andy Rea

Leafy, white and conservative

Billy Bragg is the archetype of all those right-on rebels or PC exemplars who, when the kids come along, up sticks from the vibrant multicultural melting pot of the city to a leafy, conservative area.

The Bard of Barking is touring yet again.

"Coming from Barking as I do, the fact that the BNP are now the main opposition party in the area is a source of deep disappointment."

He's coming from Barking alright, but where's he going ?

Let's compare the average primary school league table results for Barking and Dagenham :

With the results for Burton Bradstock CoE Primary in leafy Dorset, where the most multicultural feature is the occasional Gambian drummer performing at the school.

The kids must be heading for secondary level by now. My money's on this little place up the road.

Rodney Parade

A cold Friday night, left work early to watch my youngest play rugby (lost, alas) - what better way to spend the evening than packing the car with children (£3 for kids - absolute giveaway) and heading across the border to Newport?

I don't think it's being unfair to say that the town's had a reputation as a) not being the most scenic bit of Gwent b) having some pretty rough boys - and girls too. But watch out - yuppification is coming. I havn't worked out where the marina and its associated flats will be, but the whole west side of the river is a mass of diggers and traffic cones - with the east side, including the Parade, next up. Close to the M4 corridor - I see another Cardiff or Swansea-style future for those with the money.

I must admit I rather like the old Parade as it is. Interesting layout - you enter through an area which once looked to have been a banked cycle circuit, with a bowling green (there once were tennis courts) in the middle, as seen in this old photo. There was until recently a cricket ground at the far end, too - where Glamorgan used to play.

Gwent Dragons beat the amateurs of Bucuresti 66-10, though the game was marred when the Romanian No 8 Cosmin Ratiu was taken off with what looked like a serious neck injury. The latest report from hospital last night was that he had regained movement in the upper part of his body. "He's not moving" said my son within seconds of him going down. Hope he'll be OK.

If we can get tickets we may well be back for the Bristol game on 12th Jan.

It was worth the trip just for Kevin Morgan's terrific running from fullback and to see the great Colin Charvis, Welsh icon and son of Sutton Coldfield. Apologies for the picture quality.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Remembrance Of Crimes Past

One of the favourite arguments of the 'moral panic' school of criminology is that crime was just as high in the past. Easy to refute while the generation who were there can testify, harder when they're gone.

So I'm trying to take note of sources - like 'The Road to Nab End' and 'A Ragged Schooling'. If anyone has links to anything relevant - pro or anti - I'd appreciate them.

Feom a Dalrymple interview with Ray Honeyford.

His own personal history would suggest some direct insight into the problems of the disadvantaged. His father was an unskilled laborer injured in the First World War and able to work only intermittently thereafter. His mother was the daughter of penniless Irish immigrants. His parents had 11 children, six of whom died in childhood. They lived in a small house in Manchester with no indoor lavatory (and not a single book). He was brought up in a place and in times when the next meal was not guaranteed to appear. Yet despite the poverty, theft was unheard of: everyone felt able to leave his front door unlocked.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Channeling Madeleine

Ms Bunting may have left Demos, after a reign of Clough-like brevity, but "you can't kill the spirit".

They've just produced a pile of waffle (pdf file) on "Community-based approaches to counter-terrorism", promoted as ever by the BBC, which positively reeks of the old, appeasement days before the Jack Straw putsch, when multiculturalism was laid to rest and 'community cohesion' replaced it.

What qualifications have the three authors, Rachel Briggs, Catherine Fieschi and the fetchingly tilted Hannah Lownsborough ?

Hannah has produced such insights as "For the integration of services to work at a local level, the implementation of the new policies must be truly local. In part, that requires central government to take a genuinely "hands-off" approach to its introduction, trusting the local knowledge of officials to shape solutions tailored to meet local need. Every Child Matters represents one of the most important changes to children's services in the last 20 years"

Catherine Fieschi's finest hour is undoubtedly her 2004 Fabian essay "the resistable rise of the BNP" in which the Director of the Centre for the Study of European Governance at the University of Nottingham explained why the BNP threat was overblown - just as they got 4.8% in the Euro elections, quadrupling their 1999 vote.

Rachel Briggs advises on corporate security, so you might expect her to be a little reality based. Alas the link to "Viva La Revolution - An article in Renewal, November 2005, on the social revolution taking place in Spain" doesn't work. I'm assuming she sees the coming replacement of the Spanish people as a triumph for feminism. Her blog entries show standard Guardianista attitudes :

After the usual questions about think tanks - independence, funding, government influence - the penultimate questioner caught me off guard.

Did I, he asked, believe that the 'axis of evil' is actually an anti-Chinese policy in disguise?

Without further consideration you might think he's just as barmy as Bush.

Don't hold back - tell it like you see it. Just the kind of person we need at the FCO-funded Wilton Park, 'established in 1946 as part of an initiative by Winston Churchill to help re-establish peace and democracy in Europe'. I'm sure she'd get on well with him.

"Ms Briggs has declared that she has no involvement in any political activities." Really ?

There are a few rough and uncut gems to be found in the liberal alluvium.

One of the reasons that the government is getting things wrong is because it has a shallow and partial understanding of the communities with which it needs to engage, which makes it behave schizophrenically.

On the one hand ‘communities’ are the stuff of multicultural Britain – they are benign exotic groups that add a cultural je ne sais quoi to the UK. The priority for policy-makers is not necessarily to understand the differences, but to celebrate them.

Well, yes. The whole point was to import lots of exotic people to prove how cool and multicultural you were - and to cheese off the evil Right. The actual culture of the people you were importing was irrelevant - the point was that it wasn't 'ours'.

Maybe tonight I'll get round to a proper fisking. Suffice it to say that the conclusions amount to 'you know what you did before - after 9/11 - that didn't work ? Do more of it. And make the process of foreign policy formulation totally transparent. That'll be fun. And institute ethnic policing for ethnic areas. And fund more enquiries like this one.'

Straighter Scots

Total "civil partnerships" in UK - 15,672.

England - 14,084 - 90% of them, against 83.6 of UK population.

Scotland - 942 - 6%, against 8.5% of UK population.

Wales - 537 - 3.4%, against 4.9% of UK population

Northern Ireland - 109 - 0.7%, against 2.9% of UK population.

Fiji Coup

The military commander of Fiji has announced he has taken over control of the country.

Cmdr Frank Bainimarama said in a televised address he had assumed executive powers and dismissed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

Interesting one, this.

The BBC's Phil Mercer in Suva says the military's action is certain to provoke widespread international condemnation.

Dunno. As I understand it, the Commander objects to the planned amnesty for the 2000 coup plotters. After all, they might have killed him - as an officer who stayed loyal to the elected government.

In 1987 a coup by indigenous Fijians overthrew the elected, Indian-dominated coalition. This triggered a series of adverse events, including the introduction - and subsequent withdrawal - of a constitution enshrining indigenous Fijian political supremacy.

A further coup in 2000, led by businessman George Speight, saw the country's first ethnic Indian prime minister, his cabinet and several MPs held hostage for several weeks.

He stayed loyal to the democratically elected government in 2000 - now he's overthrowing the democratically elected government in 2006.

Rancour over the 2000 coup persists, with bitter divisions over proposals to amnesty those behind it.

Fiji's population, which resides mostly on the two main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu, is divided almost equally between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians, the descendents of indentured labourers brought from India.

Mixing between the two groups is minimal, and informal segregation runs deep at almost every level of society.

Strangely the Fijians don't seem at ease in their multicultural island paradise. Must be something wrong with them. Either that or the island should be a warning to the UK, and particularly England, where at current levels of demographic change natives will be a minority by the century's end.

(Doubtless Mark Holland will soon have further updates.)

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Some weird and wonderful council by-elections.

Analysis of 14 comparable results over November suggests a projected 21.6% Tory lead over Labour.

A calculation based on 10 contests where all three major parties fought both times suggests a line-up of: Con 43%, Lib Dem 27.7%, Lab 23.2%.

Hmmm. But these seats aren't representative. What intrigued me was :

Skegness St Clements: - UKIP vote stopped the Tories winning from Labour - assuming UKIP vote is ex-Tory.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne - Lemington: - BNP vote stopped Labour winning from Lib Dems - assuming BNP are ex-Labour.

The collapse of the Labour vote in Maidstone and Northway. And the general volatility.

Political Policing

Perhaps I'm wrong, but I thought that the politicians legislated, the police enforced the legislation impartially, and that rarely the twain should meet. That's the theory - but since 1997 we've seen the unedifying spectacle of the new breed of sociology-grad, fast-tracked, politically correct Chief Constable desperately trying to earn brownie points with their political masters.

Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom (aka 'the Mad Mullah of the Traffic Taleban') doesn't seem to believe in keeping at arms-length from the politicians.

On Monday I went to Cardiff for the day by train (0430hrs start in the office, back at 2130hrs; I can’t do my job and comply with the Working Time Directive - it just isn’t possible).

The purpose of the trip was two-fold. First to hold one of our regular quarterly meetings between the four Chief Constables and Edwina Hart, Welsh Assembly Minister for Social Justice. These meetings have become increasingly useful, and a real commonality of approach is developing.

The second purpose was really exciting. Through Mrs Hart we had arranged for the four Chiefs to meet with the entire Cabinet of the Welsh Assembly Government, a real first. It was a very constructive meeting, lasting nearly 50 minutes. Although not a devolved organisation it is very clear to us in the police that we have a major and growing part to play in the future of Wales. The Cabinet agreed. We wanted to ensure that our style of policing matched hand in glove the strategic vision of the Cabinet - we emerged convinced that it does, and that an even closer and more productive relationship is going to develop as a result. When the Minutes of the meeting are published (government in Wales is commendably open) you will be able to see what we discussed and decided in more detail. This meeting has changed policing in Wales to a significant degree. The future looks really exciting.

It is this sort of thing that convinces me beyond doubt of the benefits of devolution. The ability to engage personally with the entire government as well as with individual ministers is of immeasurable value, and it simply does not and cannot happen across the border in England. Government in Wales is closer to the people and to public servants like me, and as a democrat I like that very much indeed.

Hmmm. I'm all for the police being democratically acountable. I wouldn't mind if Chief Constable was a directly elected post. My worry is that he'll focus on what the politicians are worried about rather than what the people are worried about. The days when their concerns coincided are gone, to return I know not when.

More State Surveillance

Hot on the heels of the news that the government wants the details of patients opting out of the wonderful new NHS computer system to be sent to the Health Secretary (so that he can tell them they have no choice in the matter), comes the news that the government is buying up the Rightmove database - containing details on most of the property advertised in the UK over the last 10 years. I believe a majority of estate agents are signed up to Rightmove - 10,800 according to their website.

Government officials have been given access to a vast database of properties, revealing their sale prices and detailed floorplans, under a deal with the website

The site, run by four of Britain's biggest estate agents, contains information on 800,000 properties - and the contract, which runs until 2008, also gives inspectors access to old records.

The Valuation Office Agency - the department of HM Revenue & Customs that allocates a council tax band to every home in England and Wales - will be able to use the data to find out about improvements such as double-glazing and conservatories that may increase tax bills.

Open Britain Part 1,936

From the BBC. Fair play to them. Monday's Panorama may actually be worth a look. But is this news going to suprise anyone ?

It took me just five months to get 20 fake EU passports.

Some of them were of the very best quality and were unlikely to be spotted as fakes by even the most stringent of border controls.

This meant that once in the UK I could start a new life with somebody else's identity, find work, open a bank account and eventually become a British citizen.

I met many immigrants in the UK on fake identities and passports.

Many of them were here only for work, but I also met quite a few dodgy characters who are dealing with banking scams and benefit fraud.

What, like this chap ?

When police, immigration officials and benefits investigators arrested him in December 2005 they found an Aladdin's cave of crime-related items.

These included more than 35 forged credit cards and 30 passports, numerous envelopes stuffed with hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and two copies of Home Office stamps used to allow immigrants permission to stay in Britain.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds were found to have passed through bank and building society accounts in his name and those of his wife, children and immediate family.

In one Westminster bank account alone funds totalling £555,474.96 were cleared shortly before his arrest and another Halifax account saw transfers totalling £267,000.

In all he had at least 13 different bank accounts.

Investigators believe Nawaz Sharif was charging illegal immigrants between £2,000 and £5,000 to mark their passports with the counterfeit stamp. This allowed them to remain in the country illegally after they had been "doctored" by Sharif.

Sharif arrived in the late eighties as a taxi driver, and has been 'unemployed' for the last 11 years. His five year sentence will be two and a half years - in an English prison. For two million quid I'd do his sentence myself and think it well worth it.

Unspeakable Love

Brian Whitaker, reviewed by Alexandra Simonon in Democratiya says that those homosexual activists who diss "Islam" are in some ways the mirror image of the intolerant imams who diss homosexuality, and looks to a more hopeful (in his terms) future.

Fifty years ago, Muslims, Christians and Jews generally agreed that homosexuality was evil. While one could not say that Judaism and Christianity as a whole have come to terms with it, major bodies of opinion in these faiths have since moved forward and adopted a more tolerant approach to homosexuality. This is not the case in contemporary Islam, where, broadly speaking, there is no real debate on issues of sexuality.

You could say that. British understatement is not dead. Although the "major bodies of opinion" who have "moved forward" no more illustrate the position of the faithful than the views of Home Office officials on crime and punishment represent Dave Average. What that shows is the capture of institutions by the cultural left.

Western scholars, political commentators and gay rights campaigners who push an essentialist vision of Islam, or of Arab culture, as inherently homophobic, rely on claims and assumptions that they share with the fundamentalists ... Both sides acknowledge 'one' Islam, and both sides agree on its violently intolerant nature.

Sounds about right.

Whitaker proposes a more constructive way of addressing the problem, which is to place the focus of attention on the similarities between the West and the Arab-Islamic culture rather than on their differences. The homophobic rhetoric used in the Arab world today, which claims that homosexuality will lead to the collapse of civilisation and to social decay, is little different from the rhetoric used in Western countries until not so long ago (and sometimes still used).

Ah. These Islamic chaps are just a bit behind the curve. True enough again.

Acceptance of homosexuality in the West is only recent. It is also partial, and potentially reversible. Contemporary Arab attitudes to homosexuality were commonplace in the West fifty years ago, and those who single out Islam as being uniquely and essentially reactionary might do well to remember that Britain repressed homosexuality in the name of religion and social order over many centuries.

Absolutely. The 1967 speeches in favour of decriminalising homosexuality would today get their authors expelled from their parties - and probably prosecuted.

British society has come a long way in terms of sexuality, and no one would argue that either policy or public opinion in the 1950s were essentially Western, or essentially Christian.

You do have to wonder about that last bit. Up to the 1950s, and for at least a thousand years before that, disapproval (often expressed violently) of homosexuality was characteristic of 'Western' nations - and of Christianity for nearly two thousand years. Most Christians disapprove of it now - you just don't hear them on the BBC.

What Mr Whittaker (the Guardian's Middle East editor - I'd keep my head down if I were him) seems to be saying is "give these guys time - Rome wasn't built in a day". As he says in the linked Guardian piece, he hopes for "the moment when the tide of reactionary puritanism that has plagued their country (Egypt) for so long finally turns".

Only one problem. You can make this cheerful argument to secular Westerners, but I wouldn't try it on an intelligent Muslim. You'd be suggesting that Islam be - effectively - destroyed. Because what has happened in the last fifty years in the UK, the liberalisation which so pleases, is the result not of a change in Christianity, but a collapse of Christianity. People like Ekklesia and Thinking Anglicans do not represent the average Josephine in the pew of the shrinking Anglican or Catholic congregations - still less the average Olewayu in the rapidly rising black evangelical churches.

Take your intelligent, pious Muslim. Hold up the Christian Churches in the UK as an example of what Islam could be in 50 years. Watch him laugh in your face.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Spain - Doomed

Iwondered why Spaniards, long famed for their fighting spirit, caved in so completely to the Madrid train bombs. I hadn't realised the extent of the Spanish cultural collapse, which makes Britain's look like a little local difficulty.

This pollyanna-ish Times article by Thomas Catan :

In the dark heart of machismo shines a beacon of sexual equality. In 30 years Spanish women have gone from being mere chattels to the most liberated in Europe.

Is best interpreted in the light of these amazing demography statistics. Hit 'submit all' for the full horror. The Spanish have stopped breeding.

In 1975 the average senora had 2.8 babies - well above the 2.1 replacement rate. But that rate was passed in 1981, and is currently at 1.3, having been as low as 1.1 only a few years ago. You have to wonder who's responsible for the slight recent increase - Spaniards ?

Lets do the maths on a 40m population, who have all their children at 30. 50/50 sex split.

30 years - they've had 26m children. Another 30 - those 26m have had 16.9m. You've more than halved the population in 2 generations.

The excellent site however shows the population actually rising from 42 to 52 million by 2060. Based on ?

"The first situation considered is that the number of new arrivals of foreigners in Spain will evolve according to the most recent trend until the year 2010, after which they remain constant. The total number of arrivals in Spain during the period 2007-2059 increases to 14.6 million persons."

14.6 million high-fertility arrivals, by the look of it. These aren't Brit retirees. And that's assuming that arrivals stay constant after 2010. Looks like the Alhambra and Generalife might be returning to the previous owners.

The People's Fag Is Deepest Red

For some reason I found myself in front of a television last night, and caught a politics interview (BBC2 ? Channel 4 ?) after it had begun.

Interviewee was a public-school type with slightly staring eyes and the manner, at once respectful and patronising, of an ambitious management consultant who's become the youngest partner at the firm. Very Accenture.

Surprise surprise - he was talking about the tribulations of running a Labour government.

Who could it be, I wondered, running through likely names. Lord Adonis ? Benjie Wegg-Prosser, a name that sounds like a Wodehouse villain ?

'Twas Matthew Taylor. I realised that the eyes come from papa Laurie, who I saw a few years back doing the company motivational chat circuit. We've all got a living to make.

Emmanuel School
, Clapham. Just the place for a socialist to send the horny-handed son.

"Thah'll't not work in't sociology department all tha life, lad. Ah want summat better for thee !"

Friday, December 01, 2006

Target-Related Stress

From Public Servant Weekly. Anyone who does a lot of box-ticking will relate to this.

I primarily treat people suffering from stress-induced mental disorders, such as depressive illness and anxiety states. Twenty years ago most of my clientele were business executives, but they aren’t now. Businesses have long since recognised that it is their best employees who are at highest risk of stress related illness and they mostly nurture and protect them.

Now it is public servants who form the bulk of my practice. My largest represented occupational group is doctors (I have 44 on my books), followed by teachers, social workers, police officers, tax and benefits workers, ambulance crew and members of the fire service. Twenty years ago these workers had a pretty good reputation for quality, diligence and effectiveness.

What these professions now have in common is that they are all victims of the craze so loved by recent governments for regulation and its attendant bureaucracy. Politicians need to be needed and for us to believe that they can stop things going wrong. They can’t, of course, but they have to be seen to be doing something, or their opposite number will call them complacent.

One person gets one thing wrong with terrible consequences. Here’s how it goes. First, set up an inquiry; second, find and punish a scapegoat; third, introduce a whole ream of bureaucratic structures and paperwork to increase the profession’s/industry’s regulation; and lastly, set up auditing systems to monitor the regulation you have set up. Oops, I’ve destroyed the service in the meantime ...

Fiji Updates

Cometh the hour, cometh the blogger. You may recall I've been positing Fiji, where the population is ethnically 50/50 split between native Fijians and the descendants of Indian immigrants, as our potential future.

Currently teetering on the edge of a military coup (Fiji, not Mark), Mark Holland is monitoring events - a change from his usual loving excavations of bygone Brit culture.

Similarly Martin Kelly has produced another string for his bow. He's already your Foreign Criminal one-stop shop - now he's your world monitoring centre, garnering hits from all over the place, for all Putin/polonium/deceased Russian emigre/oligarch news.


You have to read this Blink piece on Brum through the usual filter, discounting for :

"it's not racism - it's poverty"

"communities should unite against the REAL enemy"

Nonetheless as a roundup of recent events it seems factually OK. Some fine irony too.

The Asian population is also growing at a rapid rate, while the small African Caribbean population is actually declining in size.

As a city, Birmingham competing with Leicester to become Britain’s first ethnic majority city, a barrier that one or both conurbations is expected to achieve by 2010.

However African-Caribbean’s make up just 60,000 out of a total population of one million.

An under-reported factor is the population shift silently taking place, as the traditionally Caribbean neighbourhood of Handsworth, scene of a riot in 1985, is now predominately an Asian district.

Asian entrepreneurs have been busy buying up shops and houses, while the Caribbean community are migrating to Erdington, which is becoming known as “the new Handsworth.”

I like that 'traditionally'.

I watched the DVD of the Baggies 1968 cup win a while back - including the triumphal open-top coach journey to West Bromwich town hall. The film shows a completely vanished landscape of shops - and people.

Putting Children First

Education ? Two stories from Brum :

Disgraced head's new job angers parents

Nov 29 2006

Parents have voiced anger on learning that a headteacher who resigned after forging a signature to give himself a pay rise has gained a new job – as a schools adviser with the city council.

Alastair Sharp was forced to quit as head of Brookvale Primary in Erdington, Birmingham, earlier this month amid mounting pressure from parents.

The head was originally suspended in January and sacked in June for forging the signature of the school’s chair of governors, Mike Statham. But Mr Sharp was re-instated after an appeal and was due to return this month, sparking a campaign against him by parents and complaints by teachers. He resigned three weeks ago.

Mr Sharp has now been found a new role helping support other schools in the city.

Brookvale parent Lesley Westwood, aged 43, said: "It is terrible. I don’t think he should be given the responsibility for advising schools. It looks to me like the authority gave him this job in return for him resigning.

"But we are glad he is not back at this school."

A teacher at Brookvale who did not wish to be named said: "I was shocked. I think most of the staff are shocked at this. The parents are in uproar again.

"After what he has done it is unbelievable – it has to be a laugh."

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: "The local authority is utilising Mr Sharp to support a number of initiatives and projects within the Directorate of Children, Young People and Families."

And this one :

Sixteen teachers phone in sick

Nov 30 2006

By Shahid Naqvi, Education Correspondent

A Birmingham primary school was shut yesterday after 16 teachers called in sick – days after its headteacher was suspended for alleged gross misconduct.

Parents and children arriving at Adderley School in Saltley were told to go back home and telephone this morning to see if it would be reopening.

The mass illness follows the suspension of Kevin McCabe following a meeting of the governing body on Monday.

Both the school and the local authority refused to comment on the nature of the allegations. A receptionist at the school said yesterday: "We have had a severe staff sickness. They have had various different illnesses."

Roger King, general secretary of the Birmingham branch of the National Union of Teachers, said the illnesses could be due to "stress" following a period of instability at the school which until last year was in special measures.

"There have been problems in the past with the governing body which seems to have destabilised the school," he said.

Mr King also questioned the course of action taken by the school’s chair of governors, Sajid Akram.

"The normal action in these cases would be to speak to the headteacher about it and if they felt it was very serious take advice from the local authority," he said.

"This chair of governors hasn’t done that. He has taken an unilateral act of his own back and said it is potential gross misconduct but hasn’t specified why."

The Birmingham branch of the NASUWT teaching union said it looked like there were personal issues involved between the chair of governors and the headteacher.

"We are aware of a number of staff being off sick which is why the school was closed," said John Hemmingway, deputy general of the branch."There is an issue of governance which the local authority are working on with the school to address. It sounds a bit personal with the chair of governors."

Mr Akram was not available for comment last night.

A spokesman for Birmingham City Council said: "The governing body of Adderley School has taken the decision to suspend the headteacher pending the outcome of an investigation into a complaint.

"The suspension is a neutral act whilst the investigation is undertaken."

It is understood that a number of parents held a crisis meeting yesterday after hearing about the school closure.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Zoe Williams defends Poll Pot

Or ...

the unreadable defending the unspeakable.

UPDATE - while it seems to be generally accepted that Poll Pot sent the sprogs private, no man can tell to which school. But thanks to the comments at the Graun, we now know that Zoe Williams attended that well-known comprehensive Godolphin and Latymer (fees £12,000 pa plus meals, music lessons etc).

Ms Williams lives in Camberwell - but I'd suggest there aren't many faeces in the stairwell chez Zoe. Not like the tower blocks in this excellent Peter Risdon post.

One thing, and one thing only, keeps people trapped in the kind of poverty of mind where they don't feed their children properly even when they could, and shit in their own stairwells. It's a lack of ownership; a lack of self-reliance. It's a lack of the very concept of self-reliance. It's an idea that the mere thought that they should be self-reliant is immoral, evil, callous and cruel. And though this idea is gibbered out by halfwits like Norman the carpet, it actually derives from Polly Toynbee.

Read the whole thing.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Things Fall Apart

Too much work, too many children. A pity when there's so much to blog about, but the energy is lacking.

Two particular tectonic plates are continuing to move. One is Scottish independence - or, as I like to think of it, English independence.

The recent shift in favour of independence is challenging Labour's claim from 1999 that devolution would "kill Scottish nationalism stone dead".

For the first years of devolution, support for independence registered anywhere between 35 and 50, giving credence to Labour claims.

But its growth to more than 50 per cent, echoed by last weekend's ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph which found 52 per cent of Scots in favour of independence - and an astonishing 59 per cent of English voters as well, suggests devolution is actually fuelling Scottish nationalism.

The Sunday Telegraph poll also found that 68 per cent of English voters want their own parliament, which suggests that discontent over the imbalance and problems with the devolution settlement is spread right across the United Kingdom.

Shuggy is impressed with the increasingly desperate tone of Labour on devolution issues.

Sam Tarran wonders about a federal system. To some extent Scotland has that already. It's only poor old England that's not a full member of the federation and has no measure of self-government.

He blames our rulers for the "constitutional nightmare that Labour has created".

Jingoistic isn't happy with his choice of video :

Having endured Mel Gibson and his poor Scottish accent long enough I began wondering, if the Scots hate England so much, why be part of the UK ? ... Not meaning to sound jingoistic, but if they're going to pin all their problems on England then they can bloody well piss off.

He also blames Nu Lab for the situation :

The only reason Blair/Brown want Scotland to stay is the large share of Labour voters that keep the duo in power. They gave Scottish politicians the right to vote on matters that will not affect their constituencies, how is that fair ? Blair gave Scotland its own Parliament and now he's feeling the consequences.

It's all true - but to analyse why it's all going pear-shaped it's useful to view the scene through a cultural, nationalistic prism.

Historically the UK was at centre an English enterprise. Though ambitious Scots, Irishmen and Welshmen powered large chunks of the Empire, the Armed Forces, industry and commerce, and Britain's whole was greater than the sum of her national parts, England was the heart of Britain - and rightly so in the opinions of its inhabitants. The largest, wealthiest, most important part - and the best part, too. "The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees, is the high road that leads him to England !" Foreign governments referred to Britain as 'England'. The Union was nearly 100 years old when Nelson flew his 'England expects ' message. Victorian imperialists used 'England' when they meant Britain, and everyone understood what they meant, and why they said it. The Union Flag was the English flag as recently as the 1980s - look at any old soccer footage.

While there was some metaphorical sniping from the political sidelines, the settlement endured - as long as England had self-belief. Sadly that English self-belief was just one of the things what went down the tubes during the cultural revolution.

At which point we entered a different ball game. When England believed in herself, there was no need for concessions to Scots and Welsh Nationalists (Ireland being a different and bloodier story). When it becomes the done thing for educated Englishmen and women to criticise, deride or hate their country, no amount of subsidy and concession can be enough - indeed it will only stimulate further demands. The squirrels in our garden can tell if a hazelnut is rotten inside just by looking at it - and Scottish nationalists are very like squirrels, casting a jaundiced eye on the rotten husk of English identity.

So in one sense it's wrong to blame it all on Blair. He's a symptom, not a cause. But had he left well alone, the moment might have passed. We're off down the slope now - and not all the Seaforths and Camerons will drag us back up it.

The other plate is the multicultural one. Immigration reaches new record levels, a third of London's population now born abroad. Almost lost Detroit ? What about our capital ?

Nearly a third of the population of London were born outside Britain, an official survey showed.

The number of people in Greater London who have come from overseas has risen by more than 650,000 since Labour came to power in an unprecedented wave of migration, it found.

The breakdown said that foreign-born population of the capital has gone up from 1,630,000 to 2,288,000 since 1997.

Highest numbers of immigrants have come from Bangladesh, India, the countries of the former Soviet Union, Ghana, and Sri Lanka, it suggested.

But at the same time as large numbers of new residents have arrived from abroad, the British-born population of London has been declining.

The figures from the Government's Office for National Statistics show that numbers of the native-born in London have dropped by 155,000 in the past nine years, from 5,215,000 to 5,060,000.

The analysis provides fresh evidence that London is showing signs of the phenomenon known as 'white flight', in which middle class families are leaving the capital to escape high housing costs, poor schools, poor transport and high crime.

White flight is named after the white middle class exodus from American cities in the 1950s and 60s - but in the case of London the numbers leaving include successful black and ethnic minority families looking to move to suburbs and other regions of the country.

The new assessment of London's population follows a breakdown from the ONS earlier this year which showed that more than a third of its people are now non-white, and that total number of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in London has reached 2.5 million.

The pressure of migration into the booming jobs market of London is now thought likely to push the growth of the capital to record levels in coming decades. ONS predictions say that London, said to contain 7,348,000 people, is likely to increase in size to more than 8.8 million by 2029.

However independent critics say that since there is no accurate record of the real level of immigration and because a high proportion of migrants head for London, the actual population is higher than official figures show and is certain to pass 10 million in future.

The latest figures on Londoners born abroad are based on the Labour Force Survey, a regular ONS exercise which gathers information from 53,000 homes. Some 5,000 of these are in London.

As with almost all Government attempts to count population at the moment, its findings are open to doubt.

For example, it puts the number of Polish-born people in London at 70,000, a figure far lower than could be expected from other Government estimates that 600,000 people have come in from Eastern Europe over the past three years.

The survey said that 31.1 per cent of the population of London is made up of people born abroad.

The analysis shows that numbers coming into the capital is now lower than in the past from some traditional emigration countries.

In particular, numbers of people born in Ireland have collapsed as the growing Irish economy has turned the country into a magnet for immigrants rather than a source of migrants for other countries.

Numbers of those born in Jamaica, Guyana, Singapore and Hongkong have also fallen.

Figures published by the ONS in the summer showed that non-whites now make up 33.5 per cent of the population of London compared with 29 per cent in 2001.

And these figures show 70,000 Poles when the Government reckons 600,000+ ? 'The half was not told me'.

I noted a while back that we're moving from the 'still a tiny minority' phase into something a little more realistic. In this context, the current spat between Ken 'Violent Nationalists are OK if they're not English' Livingstone amd Trevor Phillips is illuminating.

In Ken's world (remember he's a Type 1) the Linton Kwesi Johnson LP is always on the stereo and someone's just popped round with some decent Colombian. All is for the best in multicultural London and anyone who says otherwise should join the BNP. He actually quoted Steven 'Ludi' Simpson's studies (see here) in support of his claims.

Trev is a little more far-sighted and is worried that people actually WILL join. His proposal that the State use the 43% of GDP which it controls to discriminate against BNP members (who presumably pay taxes like everyone else), while disgraceful, is a measure of his unease.

Interesting times.

And finally ... two beautiful, elegaic posts on Constantinople and the surviving Christians at Brussels Journal.