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.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Shaker Aamer

I blogged en passant about this chap (and his four British children) a while back.

He's a bit of a pin-up for the Clive Stafford-Smiths of this world. Big at the BBC and the Guardian, too.

He was working as a solicitor's translator in London and had been given indefinite leave to remain in the UK. He was in the process of applying for British citizenship when he moved, with his family, to Kabul. He says he wanted to live in a Muslim country while his application was processed.

As you do.

There his family shared a house with Moazzam Begg, the Birmingham man who was freed from Guantánamo last year. Shortly after the collapse of the Taliban regime Aamer was captured by Afghan troops ...

"The British government refuses to help me," he wrote during the protest. "I thought Britain stood for justice, but they helped British citizens, and then abandoned us - people who have lived in Britain for years, and who have British wives and children."

How could they ? We owe him, dammit ! Do You Even Care, Mr Blair ?

It's a measure of the stature and magnanimity of the family that even after this diabolical treatment, his wife and children have returned to the UK and are living (on benefits ?) in London. Lesser people might have stayed 'in a Muslim country'.

A few weeks ago there was a longish article in the Sunday Times magazine about the Guantanamera regime, and how a liberal, reforming 'governor', Mike Bumgarner, tried to improve relationships between guards and inmates. Like a civilised human being, he wanted to establish common ground, a modus vivendi - 'don't attack my guards' was one of the more fatuous requests of this decent man.

They did him up like a kipper, after which the reforms were scrapped and Bumgarner replaced. Mr Aamer was a leading actor in said kippering. An interesting read.

In late June this year, Colonel Bumgarner was preparing to give up command. He looked tired, slumped into a chair in his small, cluttered office. “We attempted to improve their lives to the extent that we can – to the point that we may have gone overboard, not recognising the real nature of who we’re dealing with’’ he said.

Do You Know This "Man" ?

"The kid in the picture above doesn’t look very harmful, right ? He’s reasonably well-dressed, anyway. But actually, he is quite a large fellow, and likes to assault random women with the help of an equally vile friend of his."

On Friday they picked on a woman with attitude, a camera, and a blog.

(Jackie Danicki was one of the first bloggers I read, and one of the first to link to me. While we've never met, I still take it kinda personal.)