Saturday, May 06, 2006

Bonnie Bluebells From The Curate's Coppice

Dear Sir,

I couldn't but notice the following Scottish stories :

"Extended home leave for prisoners"

Inmates at an open prison are being freed for a week each month under a new extended home leave scheme.

The move at Noranside Prison in Angus will be introduced from next week by the Scottish Prison Service.

The prison, near Forfar, currently houses about 140 long-term prisoners, including murderers and rapists.

"Prison break robber spared jail"

A prisoner who broke out of jail and robbed a nearby house before returning to his cell has been given 300 hours community service.

Alan Wright absconded from Castle Huntly prison, near Dundee, in August 2002 so he could pay off drug debts.

Fiscal depute Hannah Kennedy said: "The accused escaped from Castle Huntly, where he was an inmate at the time.

"He left the premises and committed the crimes. It's not certain how he left, but the suspicion is that he left and returned by a window."

Wright had formerly been involved with the Calton Athletic group in Glasgow and had become a keen marathon runner.

He also lectured in school drug misuse.

"Anti-violence campaign under way"

A 12-month campaign against violent crime in Scotland has been launched.
The Safer Scotland campaign will see officers working with health, education and social workers in an effort to stop violent behaviour before it starts.

It comes as one of the country's top law enforcers admitted that previous strategies have had no great impact on violence levels over the past 40 years.

Scotland has one of Europe's highest violent crime rates, with more than 100 (actually 137) people killed in attacks each year.

"'The Hawk' jailed for gun offence"

At the time of the offence Martin, from Ballingry, Fife, was out on licence from a 12-year prison sentence for assault, robbery and firearms offences.

"3 dead, 4 hurt in wave of stabbings"

A teenager has died after an attack on the south side of Glasgow, the latest fatality in a weekend of stabbings in the west of Scotland that resulted in three men being killed and four seriously injured.

Craig McCulloch, 18, from the Merrylee area of the city, was taken by ambulance to the Victoria Infirmary in the early hours of Sunday morning and died there a short time later.

Two youths, aged 15 and 16, are expected to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court today in connection with his death.

In the weekend of violence, Robert Gardner, 36, was killed in a prolonged and violent assault by a gang of four men in the Port Glasgow area of Inverclyde in the early hours of Sunday. He had been on his way to meet his girlfriend when he was chased and beaten in Castlehill Avenue.

Officers described the attack as a "horrendous" assault on a quiet and well-liked individual.

Mr Gardner suffered multiple wounds in the attack, part of which was witnessed by his girlfriend. He died in the street where he lay.

Police last night said a 17-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the death of Mr Gardner.

At 11:30pm, officers were called to a disturbance in Williamson Drive, where the victim lived, resulting in Mr Folan being taken to hospital, where he later died.

Another man, aged 44, was also found at the property with serious injuries and he remained in a critical condition at hospital yesterday. Strathclyde Police are thought to be following a positive line of inquiry in that case.

In one incident in the Port Glasgow area, not believed to be linked to the killing of Mr Gardner, a 24-year-old man was stabbed outside a house in Devol Avenue, and taken to Inverclyde Royal Hospital, Greenock, where he was in a serious but stable condition yesterday.

The other two cases of attempted murder involve the stabbing of two men, aged 28 and 45, during a row involving as many as eight people.

The incident happened at about 10:30pm on Sunday in Prospecthill Circus, Toryglen, Glasgow.

Could these stories by any chance be related ?

Yours etc

A Couple Of Cowslips From The Curate's Copse

Dear Sir,

In the Barking and Dagenham Recorder I spotted two stories.

"Firefighters not allowed to fly English flag for World Cup"

Firefighters will not be allowed to support the England team at the World Cup after being banned from flying the national flag at their station.

The ban was handed out after St George's Day, when Barking Fire Station's Blue Watch put up an England flag to mark the patron saint's day. They were told it might offend certain groups in the community.

But Ashfaq Siddique, secretary of Barking Mosque, called for the fire brigade to use some common sense and not to be oversensitive.

He said: "The World Cup is coming up and I think if you look at the Muslim households around the borough, they will be flying the England flag because many Muslims will be supporting England."

"BNP Wins 11 Seats"

The British National Party pledged to give Barking and Dagenham residents a voice after winning 11 seats on the council last night.

Could these stories by any chance be related ?

Yours, etc

Friday, May 05, 2006

Election News - At Last A Party Who Are Tough On Crime

The IWCA have taken another Oxford council seat from Labour.

But sinister developments elsewhere as a small, economically illiterate extremist party gain 14 seats.

UPDATE - more extremists in the Black Country.

UPDATE - wise (if grammatically dodgy) words in Socialist Worker.

"Labour is not going to fall apart over night. It took them decades to build the support and the loyalty that secured them office nationally and locally. But sections of that support has deserted it and dissatisfaction is spreading remorselessly."

Birmingham results are interesting. I'd assumed the Repect win in Sparkbrook was a result of the People's Justice Party not running. Turns out they've joined the Lib Dems. They retained their Bordesley Green seat, but lost Aston to Labour (although you have to make allowances for Labour's unique methods of boosting the vote in Aston).

So the Respect win in Sparkbrook is a straight steal from Labour, as voters with conservative social views and a dislike of Jews find their true home. I wrote this time last year :

"Traditionally Labour has been the party of immigrants, but a point will be reached at which they (Labour) are not needed any more and with a cry of 'so long and thanks for all the outreach workers' the Muslim vote will depart. The divorce will be messy."

One last pointer from Birmingham for those worried about BNP gains elsewhere.

Despite getting around 15% of the vote where they stood in the Birmingham and Sandwell elections, in some constituencies they did very poorly. In Aston, for example, where over 3,200 papers were counted for Labour's Ziaul Islam against only 2,700 for the Lib Dem Abdul Khalique (and Tory Mohammed Mushtaq came a poor fifth), only 200-odd papers were counted for the BNP candidate (Dennis Gary Phillips).

Similarly in Sparkbrook, over 4,300 papers were counted for Respect's Salma Yaqoob, 2,700 for Labour's Mohammed Azim, and 990 for Lib Dem Adil Rashid. Only 100 ballot papers were counted for BNP candidate Matthew Benton.

(Note - in such wards it's better to express the results in terms of ballot papers counted rather than the old-fashioned concept of who most people voted for. The parties have moved on from that.)

Assuming, say, that 30% of the Respect/Lib/Lab vote is the result of vote fraud, that is still an overwhelming rejection of the BNPs bigotry and hatred (although an endorsement of Respect's bigotry and hatred).

So Aston and Sparkbrook hold the answer. If only every ward in the country was like those two, the BNP wouldn't be an issue. What's their secret ?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Another Day, Another "Crackdown"

Charles Clarke follows the iron law of Nu Labour.

"Don't enforce the existing law, pass some new ones."

The Home Secretary has always had the power to deport foreign nationals whose presence is not considered to be in the public interest. He's just not used it.

I wrote a while back that I didn't see why any foreign national guilty of more than a traffic offence shouldn't be deported. I must admit I was surprised to find Charles Clarke agreeing.

Mr Clarke said among his proposals to sort out the problem of removing foreign criminals was the "guiding principle that foreign nationals guilty of criminality should expect to be deported".

If I thought for one moment that that was what would actually happen, I'd be very pleased. There's not a cat in hell's chance.

I'll be surprised if many Labour MPs support it. They're just keeping their heads down until the council elections are over. Can you see Jeremy Corbyn and the awkward squad lining up in the lobbies ?

It'll be fought in the courts by 'civil liberties' groups. Yesterday Shami Chakrabarti, who spends more time in the Today studio than in her own office, raised the spectre (RealAudio) of the 'starving asylum seeker who steals a loaf of bread'.

The papers are full of such cases.

"The only gunman to survive the 1980 Iranian embassy siege in London may be freed from prison and granted asylum in the UK, BBC News has learned."

It won't be implemented at ground level by police, prison or Home Office staff for whom an accusation of racism is professional death. Look at the proposals :

"Data that identifies individuals as foreign nationals must be "captured" at the beginning of the criminal justice system including at the point of arrest and as the case proceeds through the courts"

And this will be done by ... ?

You've got two options whan someone's arrested. You can try to make ALL prisoners prove their nationality - in which case remand places will need to be quintupled while Dave Smith from Romford and Jamal Al-Hadji are banged up together, awaiting the arrival of the birth certificates. Or you can use your skill and judgement ... how ?

Fifty years ago it would have been easy. A dark skin or a strange accent. Now there are millions of UK citizens with both. Do I hear a cry of 'racial profiling' ? There'd still be lots of people (though not so many) banged up awaiting the birth certificates - but black or Asian Brits would be over-represented. I can just see the Met and the Chief Constables going big for this one.

Sanctions should be available at all stages to use against individuals who give false information on nationality or no information at all.

Those sanctions being ... ? I can just see the Indie front page now as poor Lemba gets here only to be banged up.

And in the end, no-one will be interested in enforcing it. Part of getting on in an organisation is knowing what the superiors really care about and what gets lip service. Anyone at a low level who genuinely took this seriously would find it a career-threatening move.

No, it's another crackdown. One of the worst features of this administration is that the law has become just another signifier, a form of advertising. These proposals aren't there to address the problems of foreign criminals preying on the citizens of the UK. They're there to address the political problem of a (correct) public perception that the administration in general, and Mr Clarke in particular, couldn't organise a drinks party in a Majestic Wine Warehouse.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Get Your Copy Now !

Of the fascinating document "Early Removal Scheme For Foreign Nationals", dated May 2004 and handily available from the Prisons Service website.

In what we've come to accept is best Government IT practice, the document seems to have been heavily edited - and the edit history is still on the document.

Clash Of The Credibility Titans

Gary Glitter :

When asked if sleeping with an 11-year-old girl was alright, Glitter said: "I'm a father, so from time to time these things happen. Your daughter will come into your bed in the night because she's scared or something like that. This happened in this case over here. She was scared of ghosts, so under pressure I said OK."

Charles Clarke :

Mr Clarke defended his record and was forthright in his belief that he should stay on.

"I have tried to deal with some fundamental issues," he told the paper. "We have still got some challenges which still need to be completed and I think I am the best person to carry that through."

Monday, May 01, 2006

Words fail me

What was it Peter Hitchens said in "The Abolition of Britain" ? The criminal justice system now enforces 'the letter of a bureaucratic law rather than the spirit of an agreed and respected moral code'.

The Times :

A grandmother spent a night in a police cell after a scuffle with a group of children in which she was threatened with a piece of wood. Brenda Robinson, 66, who does volunteer work at a church in Bournemouth, said that she was given only a glass of water by police before being interviewed the next morning.

She was arrested for assault after challenging the youngsters, one of whom had kicked a football against a family car. She said she had given the boy, 11, “a clip around the ear” after he called her a “f****** bitch”. Mrs Robinson was then threatened in her garden by a teenage boy carrying a lump of wood, and two 13-year-old girls, one of whom starting pushing her. She said that she pulled one of the teenage girls by the hair and threw her out of the garden. Shortly afterwards the police arrived and arrested the grandmother for assault.

Mrs Robinson, who said her daughter-in-law’s partner had been killed by a gang of youths five years ago, told The Times that “the dice were loaded against law-abiding people”.

Dorset Police, eh ? They've got some previous. When the late Harry Hammond, peace be upon him, was assaulted by a crowd of liberal deviants, it was he who was arrested by Dorset's finest and ended up in court.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Family History

My maternal grandfather, a native of Pembrokeshire, joined the 1/4th Welsh in August 1914. He was never the same after being seriously wounded in Palestine by Johnny Turk, and died some twenty-five years later, in his early fifties, leaving a widow - and eight children.

It appears that the 1/4th Welsh had the worst possible start to the war - a direct posting to the hell-hole that was Tunbridge Wells in 1914. How relieved they must have been to get a move !

"On 19 Jul 1915 it sailed from Devonport for the Dardanelles, arriving at Mudros Island on 5 Aug and landing at Suvla Bay on 9 Aug 1915."

Hmm. Maybe not.

"On 8 Oct 1915, after suffering heavy casualties, the 1/4th Battalion was amalgamated with the 1/5th Battalion to form the 4th Welsh Composite Battalion."

Enough said.

"On 11 Dec 1915 the composite battalion left Gallipoli for Egypt. On 10 Feb 1916 the 1/4th Battalion assumed its identity. On 30 Jul 1918 the 1/4th and 1/5th Battalions merged again to form the 4/5th Battalion. This battalion ended the war on 31 Oct 1918, in the same formation, in Palestine as the 53rd (Welsh) Division was moving back to Egypt."

Seems a pity to survive Gallipoli and then get filled with shrapnel in Palestine. But so many never made it home.

This evening I was asking my eldest uncle for memories of him, and he quoted this chunk of a song his father used to sing. I imagine 'jolly' would have been replaced with a more sanguinary variant in real life.

...And when we get to Gay Paree
The Kaiser he will say,
"Ach ! Mein Gott ! What a jolly funny lot,
Are the 4th Welsh Infantray !"