Monday, December 31, 2007

Meet The New Year - Same As The Old Year ?

Apologies. Family commitments and all that. Thank the Lord that Ross and the Dumb One still have their shoulders to the wheel. The news is still not good, optimism not too high - but "say not the struggle naught availeth".

Best wishes to all readers and fellow bloggers - especially the ones I agree with !

Here's to 2008. . . . Here's to a year of toil ... a year of struggle and peril.. . and a long step forward to victory.

May we all come through safe and with honour !

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Love The Interweb

Must be 85% of the shopping done online this year - maybe more by value. Only clothes for the elder children need a traipse.

We'll jump in the car this arvo and tootle up the A38 for a bits-and-bobs-shopping trip to beautiful Tewkesbury, home of the Gray Monk, where not everyone is having such a lovely Christmas. A fair few people are still living in caravans after the summer floods. But it's a lovely town, and has a good bookshop.

Inshallah I'll have time to give this guy a bell and collect some bottles from him. His perry is absolutely gorgeous - as it should be for £4 a bottle. But at 6 or 7 percent alcohol you drink the stuff more like wine - a bottle with dinner. If you're ever in that neck of the woods it's well worth giving him a call (he's not paying me for this, btw). He or his webmaster need to update the website though - I wonder if he would fancy an html-for-perry exchange ?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Surrender On All Fronts Part 372

Let us go back in time.

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".

Then forward to today.

Immigration officials have "no interest" in deporting foreign prisoners who have served less than 12 months in jail, a leaked memo says. The admission was made in a memo from Prison Service deputy director general Michael Spurr to prison governors.

Stealth amnesty for 19,000 failed asylum seekers.

Previous home secretary John Reid announced the scale of the backlog in asylum cases July last year, which he said was between 400,000 and 450,000. He pointed out that the figure referred to case files, rather than individuals, and said they were "riddled with duplication and errors".

In her letter Ms Homer, the chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency, said officials were on course to clear the backlog by 2011 and were speeding up the process. Ms Homer said: "To date we have concluded around 52,000 cases, of which about 16,000 have led to removals, 19,000 have led to grants of leave and 17,000 have been closed due to previously erroneous or duplicate records...

Only another 400,000 to go. I'd love to see the 17,000 closed records. What's the betting they're the ones where the individuals have just "vanished" ?

Tides "Should Be Illegal", Says King

In a press conference at Winchester, King Cnut of England announced plans to outlaw the twice-daily tides which disfigure the coast of England.

"The government is carrying out a wholesale review of the laws around prostitution, with the aim of reducing demand ..."

This is another example of a government unable to enforce the existing laws, so creating some new ones.

"It would counter international human trafficking which sees girls bought and sold by criminals in the UK"

That kind of thing is ALREADY illegal. But as with every aspect of immigration, the government are unable to enforce the existing laws. The political will is not there. Much easier to "solve" the prioblem by criminalising the punters.

It's all of a piece with the responses of the last 20 years, by both parties. Unable to deal with a culture which produces shootings and stabbings, the only solution is to make it harder to get knives or guns. Rising knife crime ? Make knives harder to buy. Gun crime ? Make handguns illegal. You can judge the success of those two policies yourself.

Even the Magistrate thinks you're bonkers.

BNP Brouhaha

I've been dithering about this post, writing and discarding a previous version. As an ex-lefty I can grasp pretty much exactly what's going on in the non-communalist bits of the Respect split - but with the BNP I felt I just didn't know enough about the internal dynamics of the party to produce anything meaningful or interesting. Then I read this pretty damn poor piece in the Guardian and thought "I know more than he does, anyway", scrubbed the original post and decided to shoot from the hip.

I won't revisit all the reasons we are where we are, the long journey from Windrush, via Notting Hill and Enoch Powell to Gordon "Union Jack" Brown and the prospect of the natives becoming a minority in the next 50 years. Read the posts on demography, immigration and the BNP.

Let's just draw a few straw men in the sand and see who salutes. A great deal of what follows is guesswork. Comments will be opened for anyone who wants to fill me in on where I'm guessing wrong.

You have to assume that Nick Griffin and his closest followers are driven by either extreme ideology, which may not be National Socialism but partakes thereof, or hatred of non-Brits. How else have they stayed motivated through all the long years of struggle after the National Front fell apart ? Given the amount of harassment - up to and including violent assault - that they must have had over the years, they must be pretty committed to have stayed the course.

All that struggle and toil - and paradoxically, that which they feared, the cleansing of the Native British from large parts of their homeland, is becoming their great asset. As the natives see the (non-integrated) immigrant population grow, and find that they are strangers in more and more areas of what used to be their country, so will any nativist party find votes just waiting for a home. The BNP brand, thanks to constant negative publicity, is well positioned for the 'plague on all your houses' vote - and commentators from Jackie Ashley to Nick Ryan in the Cif thread above have testified to the strength of this political current.

But the new BNP voters - and activists too - don't do fascism. They're British, damn it !

I'm never sure if this is a difficult one for the left to get their heads round or whether the accusation that 'you hate black/brown/Muslim/Polish people' is just a useful way of abusing a political enemy. Let's have an example. I have a favourable prejudice, born of good times drinking with them in ski resorts, towards North Italians. But that does not mean I'd be happy if the entire population of Turin decided to move to Gloucestershire. Some of them, yes - that would be fine - but not so many as to wipe out the local culture and leave me living in Lombardy on the Severn. I like my North Italians in North Italy, thank you.

And that's IMHO how many Brits feel about mass immigration. They don't hate the immigrants as individuals - indeed they're hardly to be blamed for grabbing a chance to better themselves. But they don't want to be strangers on their own streets. A proportion (IMHO a significant one) of these people are potential BNP voters. And the less jackbooty the BNP, the more of these voters they'll pick up.

So - you've got a leadership - and the leader has his old, trusted comrades - who are well to the right of the new followers, new activists, and potential new voters. Perhaps a few of the trusted followers ARE Nazis. While others aren't apparently very good organisers.

I know not what prompted the BNPs webmaster, head of events and group development, and the head of administration, to set up a blog attacking one Mark Collett and one Dave Hannam, both close to leader Nick Griffin. Apparently the one is a liability and the other incompetent. But the leadership found out, they were expelled (one having her house entered by what appears to be deception and her computer taken) - and it was discovered that a huge number of activists, some pretty senior, agreed with the rebels rather than the leader.

There are ongoing suggestions that the individuals concerned have a hold on Mr Griffin which makes him want to keep them on board. Maybe a few skeletons rattling in the back of a cupboard.

Another leader of a nationalist party, some seventy years back, had to make a choice between jettisoning his old comrades of the early days and potentially losing a new-found power base. He chose to stick with the new power and ruthlessly cast off (or shot) the old brigade. But Mr Griffin's nowhere near power yet.

Guessedworker, posting with his usual readability at what otherwise IMHO seems to be an increasingly eccentric Majority Rights, maps out a few possible scenarios - none comforting for Mr Griffin. I get the impression that a compromise is being sought - certainly the "Real BNP" website is but a cached shadow of what was there a day or two back.

I would guess that there's a tremendous desire to try and get things sorted, given the possibilities for all that EU Parliamentary dosh in next year's Euroelections. From their perspective the one good thing is that the split has hardly registered on Joe Public's radar. But a lot of hard words have been spoken - and they'll all be on anti-BNP leaflets though letterboxes next year.

(In the long run, the demise or otherwise of the BNP won't IMHO affect the future shape of divided politics in divided Britain, which will still be driven by demographics. There'll be a party for the Native Brits, but it's somewhat less likely to be the BNP).

Any (non-actionable) ideas, you who read this ?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Scottish Sexual Activity To Halve By 2012

The Scottish Law Commission have reported on ways to procure more convictions for rape.

2.24 The model of consent which we proposed was an 'active' (or positive) type as opposed to a passive model. On an active understanding of consent to sexual conduct the basic principle is that both participants in sexual activity should respect each other's sexual autonomy and each is equally active in reaching agreement on their sexual relations. In determining whether agreement has been given to a particular sexual act a court or jury should look at the whole background circumstances. The primary question should be 'what did all the parties do to ensure that they participated in a fully consensual act?' The focus of enquiry would be not only on the behaviour of the victim but on the actions of the accused in the process of reaching agreement on consent.

This is going to be fun, except for the person in the dock. I'm not at all sure that law commissions should be laying down "basic principles for sexual activity". It could be argued by a good lawyer that in the vast majority of sexual encounters, whether in the nightclub toilets or the deep peace of the mamarital bed, one or other of the participants (and guess which one it'll be ?) have fallen short in their duty of ensuring thay they're participating in a fully consenusal act. It'll turn out that we ARE all rapists.

"And what did you do to ensure that you participated in a fully consensual act ?"

"Er ... I put my hand on her thigh ..."

It's a bit late to digest the whole thing - maybe it'll be better in toto, so to speak. But ...

In the Discussion Paper we emphasised that in the context of sexual activity consent functions in quite a different way from agreement (consensus in idem) in the law of contract.

Er ... just a bit. You could say that. Would you care to explain why ?

It is of the very essence of the law of contract that once a contract is made a party is held bound by it, whatever his or her subsequent wishes. In contrast, in the present context it would be inappropriate to prohibit the withdrawal of consent to sexual activity.

Ah, that's the only difference, is it ?

But it's this that will (if enforced - always a big if) destroy Scottish squelching.

2.59 We recommend that:

5. There should be a non-exhaustive statutory list of factual situations which define when a person has not consented to sexual activity. The situations should include the following:

(a) where the person had taken or been given alcohol or other substances and as a result lacked the capacity to consent at the time of expressing or indicating consent unless consent had earlier been given to engaging in the activity in that condition;

(b) where the person was unconscious or asleep and had not earlier given consent to sexual activity in these circumstances;

(c) where the person agreed or submitted to the act because he or she was subject to violence, or the threat of violence, against him or her, or against another person;

(d) where the person agreed or submitted to the act because at the time of the act he or she was unlawfully detained by the accused;

(e) where the person agreed or submitted to the act because he or she was deceived by the accused about the nature or purpose of the activity;

(f) where the person agreed to the act because the accused impersonated someone who was known to the person;

(g) where the only expression of agreement to the act was made by someone other than the person.
(Draft Bill, section 10)

I've got no great worries about b to g, although I see section e) would probably have put the remarkable Mr Fadi Sbano, who persuaded a somewhat unworldly lady that sexual intercourse constituted a form of medical treatment, away. He was acquitted of rape at Swansea Crown Court. (UPDATE - the judge stopped the trial.)

But section a !

"lacked the capacity to consent at the time of expressing or indicating consent"

So if you're smashed enough and say yes your partner is still a rapist ! This is going to be bad news. Why is a woman's free - if drunken - consent not valid, while an equally intoxicated male partner's consent is a criminal act ? Are not both parties equally "victims" here, the man being similarly incapable of consent ? Be interesting to see how these prosecutions pan out in court.

“However we dress, wherever we go, yes means no and no means no!”

UPDATE - I'm presuming the "If at first you don't succeed, buy her another beer" T-shirt started all this.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Post In Haste ...

Bloggers4Labour is an excellent blog, bringing together the posts of a load of lefty bloggers who I might not bother reading individually (there being only 24 hrs in the day). Alex Hilton is to be congratulated on it - not a sentence you'll see very often here. Would that there were a rightish equivalent.

Seems to be a pretty broad church, too - quite a few "bloggers 4 labour" don't seem to be big Labour fans. I digress. Browsing the bloglines feed today, I raised my eyebrows at this piece by Labour councillor (in Scallyland) Louise Baldock, on the BNP crisis. My thoughts on the subject are still in gestation, as I don't know much about the internal dynamics of the dispute - whereas as a reformed far-lefty, I have no trouble working out where most of the actors in the Respect disaster stand.

It's changed a bit from the piece I read though. Ms Baldock has obviously had second thoughts. It now reads :

I wont be taking sides when one facist criticises another, but I will be jubilant to learn that the BNP is falling apart at the seams.

And when you represent a seat like mine with new immigration and lots of uncertainty about the pace of change then you have to be very sensitive and thoughtful to how this is managed. And believe me, it is not managed through fascism.

I sincerely hope it is years if not decades before the bastards can regroup.

A truly great day for community relations.
Whereas the original post (atom feed on bloglines) read :

I wont be taking sides when one facist criticises another, but I will be jubilant to learn that the BNP is falling apart at the seams. I am NOT on the side of the enemy's enemy, I KNOW they are not my friends. I hope you all die a long and slow and horrible death.

And when you represent a seat like mine with new immigration and lots of uncertainty about the pace of change then you have to be very sensitive and thoughtful to how this is managed. And believe me, it is not managed through fascism.

However what none of us need is for the BNP to stir things up even worse

I sincerely hope it is years if not decades before the bastards can regroup.

A truly great day for community relations.

I love that bit about being very sensitive and thoughtful. "She is also a member of the Christian Socialist Movement." You'd never guess.

(one other B4L post that raised my blood pressure - this review of the Pogues - of all people.

Overall, an excellent gig, only spoiled by the incompetent security failing to stop people smoking.

I'm not sure the Pogues are really the band for this blogger - unless they've changed a lot)

Justice "Missing, Believed Dead"

Remember the pensioner who was stoned to death by a gang of "youths" ?

Their convictions have all been overturned and they've been released.

Ernest Norton, 67, was playing cricket with his son James, 17, at a leisure centre in Erith, Kent, on a Sunday afternoon in February last year, when they were targeted by a gang of up to 20 youths throwing stones and sticks. Two stones struck the father-of-two on the temple and fractured his cheekbone, and he collapsed to the ground suffering a fatal heart attack. The boys, aged between 10 and 13 at the time of the attack, were convicted of manslaughter and violent disorder at the Old Bailey in October.

But yesterday the convictions were overturned at the court of appeal by Lord Justice Gage, Mr Justice Tugendhat and Judge Scott-Gall.

On what grounds ?

Mark Wall QC, representing the boys, had challenged the safety of the convictions arguing that it could not be established which of the allegedly "unlawful or dangerous" actions, if any, had led to Norton's heart attack.

I see. He was hit in the face by stones, dropped dead with a heart attack, the boys ran off shouting "we got him", and the heart attack was totally unrelated. Does that mean we can stone Mark Wall QC to death, as long as there are enough of us, and we throw enough stones to make it impossible to pin the death to a given stone and a given thrower ?

I like that "allegedly", not to mention the "if any".

Of course Messrs Gage, Tugendhat and Scott-Gall could always have told him to boil his head.

Gage said the court was allowing the appeals and ordered the boys' release on bail, adding that the reasons for the decision would be published at a later date.

"Whatever the result of the appeals, this was a real tragedy for the family and, on behalf of us all, I express our sincere sympathy to Mrs Norton and her family," the appeal court judges said.

I'm sure it'll be a great comfort to them.

Meanwhile in London, it looks as if Suzanne Moore and Hackney Baroque will be getting the keyboards out again.

It is understood that David Nowak, from Stoke Newington, was killed during a mass street brawl at about 11pm on Saturday, after a group of youths tried to gatecrash the event in Stoke Newington. Scotland Yard said that he died from a single stab wound to his liver and kidney. Another youth, aged 15, was also taken to hospital, but is said to be in a stable condition.

The death takes the number of teenagers shot, stabbed or beaten to death in London this year to 26 and is the second murder in Stoke Newington in a month. On November 14, Etem Celebi, 17, was shot a few streets away on the Smalley Close estate.

Detectives said that they were looking into the possibility the latest incident was gang-related. The victim was known by his graffiti tag, Turk.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ker-Ching ! Ker-Ching !

Failed asylum seeker ? We'll give you £4K to go home.

In all, I was promised a package worth approximately £4,000 in cash and allowances, including an airline ticket, the £1,000 to set up a business, three months’ salary for two staff, accommodation, a car and office equipment – and no questions asked. The IOM is currently advertising its repatriation programme in the ethnic-minority media in Britain, and financial incentives have been increased. According to the Home Office, 3,290 people have left under the scheme in the first nine months of this year. Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, said: “Last year we removed more failed asylum seekers than ever before.”

The Sunday Times investigated after it was alerted that failed asylum seekers were playing the system. I met several asylum seekers who had applied for the IOM’s financial assistance programme and were already planning their return to Britain once they got their business established in their country of origin.

Unless you've been trafficked in, of course, when much more is available.

These payouts could damage prostitution rackets, as they're replaced by compensation rackets.

The women who received £140,000 were smuggled from eastern Europe by British-based criminals using established international sex trafficking networks. One girl was illegally brought into the UK five years ago, aged 13. Another was trafficked in 2003 when she was 16. Both were kept prisoner by the same trafficking syndicate until they managed to escape at the start of last year. According to lawyers, who have agreed to protect the identity of claimants, they were subject to 'forced prostitution, multiple rapes and beatings' while being held captive in the UK. In addition, their captors refused to give the victims money and warned they would be killed if they fled. The highest award was £62,000, the lowest £16,500.

So if illegal immigrants are victims of crime while here, the taxpayer will compensate them.

The authority, which awards compensation to victims of violent crime, has agreed payments for 'false imprisonment and forced prostitution during the time of their imprisonment' though neither exists as an official category for damages. Sarah Johnson, of Lovells, said: 'This will serve as a precedent for other cases and we are delighted.'

I'm presuming that Lovells are taxpayer funded via legal aid. And I know the Poppy Project is.

The Poppy Project, which helps trafficked women after they have been rescued from their captors, hailed the payments as a 'tremendous breakthrough' and said that, in theory at least, thousands of women would qualify.

So taxpayer cash is used to set up an organisation to campaign for more taxpayer cash to be handed out. I'm sure I've heard that before.

And these formerly poor women will return home with their compo ?

The women who have received compensation are understood not to have been deported. Victims will shortly win the right to stay in Britain temporarily after the government signalled its intent to ratify the Council of Europe's convention on action against trafficking.

Ah yes. Temporary as in permanent. Former prostitutes with links to organised crime are just the New Britons we need.

UPDATE - repatriation grants - £30 million and rising. And stand by for more applicants.

This is the reality of Europe's new eastern frontier, 1,800 miles long, from Estonia in the north to Slovenia in the south. From Friday, it will be the only line of defence against tens of thousands of would-be immigrants drawn inexorably towards the EU every year. Under rules which take effect on Friday, anyone inside this frontier will be able to travel between countries without having to show a passport. Hungary, Poland and other countries that became EU members in 2004 are joining the "Schengen" area, within which there are no internal border controls. There will no longer be checks on anyone entering Germany and Austria from the east. And although Britain is not within the zone, illegal immigrants will be free to roam all the way to the French side of the Channel.

The intention is to make it easier for European citizens to move around, but word has spread quickly to those dreaming of a new life in the West. Somalis, Afghans, Iraqis, Mongolians, Georgians and Kosovan Serbs and Albanians are beating a path to the border, eager to try their luck.

The Party of The Working Class (2008 version)

Sorry - sorting out prezzies. But my jaundiced, port-bleared eye was caught by this nonsense from Alex "Recess Monkey" Hilton, still hoping to become a Labour Parliamentary candidate.

"The point of our British flavour of socialism was as much defined by social causes against racism, sexism and homophobia as it was defined by our economic policies"

I couldn't let it pass.

I think you'll find that's the flavour of "socialism" that emerged in the eighties, when middle-class university lefties, appalled at the Thatcherite hegemony, gave up on the British working class (too many of them were voting for her) and looked around for some other "other" to bring about radical social change.

The social change never happened - indeed capitalism triumphed, but something strange also happened. Capitalists soon realised that fighting against "racism, sexism and homophobia" had nothing but positives for them.

Sexism ? The old, male industries are moving offshore and service industry's where its at. Women are perfect for the office and call centre - much more compliant and less given (with a few excellent exceptions like Grunwick and Gate Gourmet, both involving Asian women) to industrial action than those stroppy blokes. Rising divorce rates ? More housing needed, more white goods to shift. Rising age of first childbirth ? More wine bars, gyms and restaurants to service those singles.

Homophobia ? Not heard of the pink pound ? Homosexual couples have the highest disposable incomes of all. Ker-ching !

There's a problem with the above. Fewer babies. And fewer babies means a smaller labour pool. And a smaller labour pool means - gasp - higher wages. Oh dear. What can we do to keep profits up and costs down ?

Of course ! The fight against racism ! Obviously, if it's racist to object to some immigration, then it's racist to object to ANY immigration at all ! Yay ! We can import as many people as we like - the politicians can feel groovy and multicultural while we get the cheap labour ! It's a win for everyone ! (Except the working class already here, whose wages are screwed down, but who cares about them ?)

And that's the Faustian compact between capital and "Labour" which we're seeing now. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, the English working class recedes into the darkness. They have suffered in every respect by their association with the British Labour Party.

Perhaps, as some suggest, mass immigration is Labour's revenge on the English workers for the Thatcher years - their punishment.

(I don't suggest it would be a great deal different under a Cameron administration, mind you.)

UPDATE - what a great title for a book. "The Breaking of the English Working Class".

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Just downloaded from here - free open source replacement for the Microsoft suite.

Anyone use it ?

Boom Bang A Bang II

In my post on the Great BNP Bomb Horror I wondered why anyone would try to make gunpowder, given the availability of cheap multishot "cake" fireworks.

Would you believe it ? Scallyland has been at the forefront of UK improvised explosive device technology for at least four years.

Industrial fireworks are meant to be used to wow the public during professional displays, run by professional handlers. But on Merseyside, criminal gangs have been turning them into bombs, with devastating results. In the six months leading up to October 2004, devices attached to cars detonated outside three police stations in Liverpool. Debris from one of the blasts flung over 100 metres, and it's the power of the explosives that is causing concern with police and residents.

By "industrial fireworks" they mean the large display-type devices, ususlly only available from specialist shops . But cheaper cakes have their uses in the growing "informal vandalism" sector of the Scally criminal economy.

The availability of the fireworks has lead to attacks being spread beyond organised crime and onto the streets. Chief Superintendent Paul Forrester admits the use of firework bombs is becoming almost a regular occurrence around Liverpool. "You'd be a lucky resident living in this area not to have seen some of the damage caused to street furniture such as phone boxes and post boxes".

Friday, December 14, 2007

Comment Is Superfluous

(although you do have to wonder if SA isn't at the start of a process that leads to Zimbabwe ...)

At his trial for rape, of which he was acquitted, Jacob Zuma revealed beliefs that might not be expected to boost the career hopes of a would-be president.

He told the court that his accuser, the 31-year-old daughter of a family friend, had led him to believe she wanted sex by complaining that she had no boyfriend, and by not crossing her legs while wearing a knee-length skirt.

He saw little risk in unprotected sex with the HIV-positive Aids activist, the court heard, because he had showered afterwards. Not surprisingly, his defence tactics did nothing to endear him to women's equality campaigners, nor those fighting the rampant spread of Aids in southern Africa - particularly as he is chairman of the country's Aids council. But they did little to dampen the enthusiasm of his supporters.

They provided a near jamboree atmosphere outside the Johannesburg courthouse during last year's trial, chanting "Burn the bitch" as his accuser arrived in court.

Busy ...

Normal posting will resume this weekend. And there's so much to write about - the continuing increase in overall fertility as the declining native birthrates are more then compensated for by the incomers babies, more sovereignty disappears to Brussels, at least three early release murders, one of which is Jack Straw's very own, and the remarkable BBC silence about the racist attempted murder of John Payne. Oh, and the current BNP brouhaha, as reported at Harry's Place and elsewhere.

Toodle-pip til then.

Oh, and To The Tooting Station is blogging again after a long hiatus. Trouble is I can't make head nor tail of his post. I'm pretty certain he's agin babging people up without trial though. As I am.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Waiting For The Millennium

In a Guardian comment thread, Children's Laureate and SWP activist Michael Rosen points to some exceptional people and says "all schools can be like that !" Note that Thatcher is still to blame. It's like 30s educationalists blaming the First World War for indiscipline.

"Last week I visited a comp in Nuneaton that sits between two selective schools that attract the 'better' kids. It's in an area decimated by Madame Thatcher closing the mines. There was every chance for this comp to slide into depression, anarchy, violence, arson and the rest. I've seen those schools too. Instead, what I found was utterly remarkable and over and over again the head and my friend one of the deputy heads made it clear both in what they said to me and in how they related to the students that the school had put this business of good human relationships at the core of the school. The problem with me writing this here, is that it sounds do-goody and meaningless. You had to see it to see how it operates, how teachers talked to students, how students talked to teachers. I read to two hundred and fifty year 8s for an hour of talking of reading, questions and there wasn't a single incident of ****ing about, fighting, heckling. Not one. And I promise you that this hasn't been achieved through punishment, control and lock-ups. Incidentally I saw about eighty kids across the ages rehearsing 'High School Musical' too!"

Laban just had to reply :

Michael Rosen - the trouble is that as your 'child-centred' ideology as gained more and more influence in the education system over the last 40 years, so have academic and discipline standards plummeted. I don't deny that some exceptional individuals - like the people in Nuneaton - can do wonders, but the point is that they are exceptional.

"at the heart of the issue is personal relationships"

Couldn't agree more - but how many people who work for a living are capable of establishing such relationships as a profession ? I'd posit that as society fragments there will be

a) fewer such people
b) they might not all want to teach

Wouldn't it be better to worry about the primary relationship that's an instrument of socialisation - that of parent and child ?

Your stuff about the school reminds me of the 1,372 Guardian articles I've seen about the wonderful adventure playground/drama co-op/dance group/music studio/sports club, run by some charismatic individual, which is doing such a wonderful job at turning inna city kids away from crime and the gang culture.

"Why can't we replicate this throughout the country ?" cries the Guardian.

Because secular saints don't grow on trees, and aren't available in job lots of 10,000 to parachute into schools. Your solutions are wholly unrealistic because of the saint shortage. Meanwhile thousands of kids have their life-chances destroyed while you wait for their arrival. Why do you cling to your illusions so ?

Is it all part of some SWP master-plan - "the worse, the better" ? I do hope not.

(Isn't it great having yet ANOTHER public schoolboy in charge of State education, btw ? I bet his Tory and Lib Dem oppos are publicans too. Makes you proud to live in such a classless society).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

George Arthur Hall DFC

As a schoolboy in Bromsgrove I was blissfully ignorant that my headmaster, EJS 'Ernie' Kyte, had been an RAF Squadron Leader and mentioned in despatches during WWII.

I didn't know about the Town Clerk (presumably of the old Urban District Council, destroyed by a modernising "Conservative" called Peter Walker in the 1974 reorganisation that wiped out so many historic counties) either. Fancy him flying with Tony Benn's big brother ! And when I read of that brother's death, I detest Tony Benn less - even have some human sympathy for him. Careful, Laban.

Times obituary :

In Second World War night-fighter operations the understanding between the navigator, who acquired the target with his airborne interception radar, and the pilot, who carried out the attack on it was crucial to success. Without it, all the technology and flying skill in the world could not deliver a result.

In two tours, one in Beaufighters and the second in Mosquitoes, the instinctive rapport between Arthur Hall and his pilot, Leslie Stephenson, was the key to their eventual tally of ten combat victories, gained in the very different operating conditions over North Africa and northwest Europe. Pilot and navigator were each twice awarded the DFC.

Hall and Stephenson were one of the outstanding night-fighter crews of the war. Unlike German night-fighter pilots who had the pickings of huge bomber streams over their cities night after night, the RAF's fighter men had, by comparison, somewhat slender pickings as the war went on.

George Arthur Hall was born in Yorkshire in 1920. His mother was a Pudsey mill worker and his father a taxi driver who had to give up work through ill-health. Hall got a scholarship to a grammar school but in the Depression years had to take odd jobs to help to replenish the family coffers. There was no money to send him to university so he became a local government junior clerk.

On the outbreak of war he went to an RAF recruiting office in Leeds to volunteer as aircrew. A sight defect ruled him out as a pilot so he trained as a navigator. When he became aware of an increased requirement for night-fighter navigators, he volunteered and trained on airborne interception (AI) radars. At 54 Operational Training Unit (OTU) he teamed up with the pilot Michael Benn (the elder brother of Tony Benn, who followed him into the RAF). The pair were commissioned and posted late in 1941 to 141 Squadron, flying Beaufighters.

On one of their early sorties their Beaufighter was hit by “friendly” fire at 10,000ft over the Firth of Forth. Hydraulics were damaged, making it impossible for Benn to control the aircraft. To attempt a landing would have been suicidal, so the ground controller directed both men to bale out at 6,000ft over the moors of Northumberland. Hall landed close to the mansion seat of the Marquess of Tweeddale, by whom he was sumptuously wined and dined until retrieved by service transport. The Hon Michael Benn, the elder son of the 1st Viscount Stansgate (himself a decorated pilot from the First World War), also landed safely and found his way to a labourer's cottage, where he spent the intervening interval wholesomely but somewhat more frugally entertained — a contrast much relished by the mill town-reared Hall.

In the autumn of 1942 Benn left No 141 to join a squadron being formed to participate in the Anglo-American “Torch” landings in French North Africa. Hall then teamed up with Stephenson. Three months later they, too, were to find themselves in North Africa with 153 Squadron, also a Beaufighter unit.

As the Allies advanced to the frontiers of Tunisia, the ports and airfields they occupied came within range of German bombers based in Sardinia and Sicily, and the night fighters soon had more “trade”. Stephenson and Hall opened their account on April 17, 1943, when in the fading light of dusk they attacked a formation of ten Ju88 bombers which were approaching Algiers from the east. The lead bomber selected as the target of the attack dived steeply away and disappeared. But Hall maintained radar contact until Stephenson could again see the bomber, sending it into the sea with a few bursts of his cannon.

May was to prove a most dramatic month for the pair. On the night of 11-12 they shot down two Ju88s in a single sortie, arriving back at base to be cheered by their ground crew. The Tunisia campaign came to a close the following day, but with Allied forces building up to the assault on Sicily there was continuing and intense Axis air activity. On the night of May 23-24 they were to exceed their previous perfomance with a remarkable three-kill sortie — all Ju88s — which brought a telegram of congratulation and the award of an immediate DFC to each from the AOC, Air Vice-Marshal H.P. Lloyd. In this, the vital contribution of Hall to the night's successes was fully acknowledged: “...the skill displayed by this officer was outstanding and it was largely due to his efforts that the pilot was successful in destroying three enemy aircraft.”

Both men were very nearly killed the following day when one of the Beaufighter's engines exploded on takeoff and, without power to climb, Stephenson had to slam it back down on to the ground. There, at flying speed, it soon ran out of runway and ended up slicing through a small wood at the end of it, without, however, breaking up. As they fled the wreckage away from flames and exploding ammunition Hall and Stephenson were able to thank their lucky stars for the Beaufighter's robust build.

After the Sicily landings in July, Hall and Stephenson were rested from operations as instructors in different OTUs. But they were reunited in 1944 in 219 (Mosquito) Squadron, which after D-Day was soon busy in the night skies over Normandy. Their first combat victory, in August, was over a Ju188 over Caen, acquired by Hall on his radar at four miles range and finished off by Stephenson from 250 yards with two bursts of cannon fire.

They were soon operating in German air space, and their second kill, in September, was of a Ju88 over Erkelenz in the lower Rhineland. They next accounted for an Me110 over Krefeld and, their tenth and final kill, another Me110, over Hasselt, Belgium, on Christmas Eve. From this sortie they landed on Christmas morning, shortly afterwards to be awarded Bars to their DFCs. A few days later Hall learnt with great sadness that his first pilot, Michael Benn, had been killed in action, having won the DFC.

The pair might have had an eleventh kill when Hall's radar acquired what turned out to be a twin-engine, twin-boom aircraft over the Rhine in February 1945. The only aircraft of that configuration known to them was the American Lockheed P38 Lightning, and they withheld their fire. It was only later, in discussion with a debriefing intelligence officer, that it emerged that their sighting was undoubtedly a Focke-Wulf Fw189 “Uhu”, a reconnaissance type that had only just begun to operate in the area. A Luftwaffe crew had had a lucky escape.

After the war Hall qualified as a solicitor and worked in local government. He was town clerk to Bromsgrove Council, Worcestershire, 1961-74. He is survived by his wife, Irene, whom he married in 1946, and by a son. Another son predeceased him.

Arthur Hall, DFC and Bar, night-fighter navigator, was born on October 31, 1920. He died on October 24, 2007, aged 86

DFC Citation 1943

Flying Officer Leslie STEPHENSON (118959) Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 153 Squadron.
Flying Officer George Arthur HALL (120955), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 153 Squadron.
As pilot and observer respectively, Flying Officers Stephenson and Hall have flown together on a large number of sorties and have displayed great skill and determination throughout. They have been responsible for the destructio of 6 enemy aircraft, 3 of them in one night. Flying Officers Stephenson and Hall have displayed exceptional keenness and fine fighting qualities.

The pair received the Bars to their DFCs in 1945 whilst with 219 Squadron

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Doomed !

More liberal lunacy on children. As the Titanic band play faster and faster, so ever more frantically the deckchairs get rearranged.

The government is under pressure to come up with a strong vision for its children's policy after negative stories about its handling of the lost child databases, as well as the Northern Rock crisis and the political funding scandal ...

Amid evidence that children from the poorest backgrounds are struggling to catch up academically with their wealthier classmates, and that their parents are the least engaged in their education, ministers want schools to help piece together a community of support for families. In the next 10 years, ministers want mental health facilities, parenting support classes and housing and benefit advice centres to be located nearby, with the school at the centre.

We've been here before.

"The government is desperate to get these going," he said, "because they've realised that in the cities community has collapsed. The school is literally the only place where everyone comes together. It's the only community there is - all we've got."

And we find that since Labour came to power, it turns out that 80% of new jobs created have gone to foreigners.

The Department revised its figures from 800,000 foreign workers to 1.1 million in October. The Statistics Commission report concluded that, of a total increase in employment between 1997 and 2007 of 2.1 million new jobs, more than half were taken by foreign citizens. However, it added that the actual proportion of the employment increase accounted for by foreign workers ranged from just over 50 per cent to just over 80 per cent, depending on the definition of a migrant.

The 50 per cent figure was applicable if foreign citizens alone were counted. The 80 per cent figure was based on a definition by the Office for National Statistics of all those who said they were born overseas, including those who had since become British citizens.

Naturally Polly Toynbee has welcomed the new children's "vision", involving as it does the opportunity for large numbers of middle class do-gooders to live high on the taxpayer while bossing parents about.

Laban added a comment of his own :

"He will order new guidance to advise on mergers between schools, libraries, sports centres, police stations and health centres to try to rebuild communities. The 170-page report covers every aspect of children's lives ..."

God help us. I thank Him that I've managed to raise mine without too much interference from these cretins. My current advice to them is 'make sure you get decent qualifications, so you can get out before it all goes pearshaped'.

And why are the communities in need of rebuilding, Polly ? Hasn't eveything been getting better and better for the last 40 years ?

But be fair. The tremendous news is that on current definitions of "poverty" (60% of median earnings) the poor will always be with us. Unless most of the wealthy people emigrate, thus lowering median earnings and poverty at a stroke.

No wonder "the heads of all the big five children's charities, plus Unicef, Rowntree, Oxfam, the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, vicars, rabbis and child poverty professors - a roll call of the most influential organisations" - are looking chuffed. Another few years of taxpayer funding for them, they keep their power and importance - it's a great result for the poverty industry.

It's a multi-pronged strategy. More sex education should up the numbers of young single parents, we can build on the enormous success of drug education, a criminal justice system that intervenes robustly only long after the "youngster" has become confirmed in his criminality and in his status as a role model for impressionable peers - Britain can continue to build, consolidate and nourish its mighty underclass, the envy of the world.

And it all means more jobs for outreach workers, child psychologists and the other beneficiaries of the "no knowledge economy".

Naturally these New Britons - I call them Toynbee's Children - will not be employable in any meaningful sense of the word, but what matter ? We can import more workers - and that's just what has happened over the ten years of Labour's "British Jobs For Foreign Workers" scheme.

But this is where the plan becomes really cunning. At present these Poles and Lithuanians are polite and hard-working, do not do crack or firearms, nor are they likely to blow up Tube trains.

But that is a function of the culture they have arrived with. It tells us nothing about what their first and second generation descendents will be like after twenty years exposure to the cultural vacuum of the UK, a vacuum of which Ms Toynbee is so proud - as she should be. After all, she helped create it.

After all, the Windrush generation were as good a bunch of people as you'd find anywhere. What happened to so many of their grandchildren ?

The 60s wave of immigrants from Mirpur to the Yorkshire and Lacashire mills were a hard-working, law-abiding bunch who came to integrate. Why did 600 of their descendants try and burn 22 elderly Labour voters alive in Manningham Labour Club in 2001 ?

The children of these new workers - and more their grandchildren - will not have the religious faith or the memory of Soviet oppression which sustained their grandparents. They will have TV, a UK State schooling, cultural vacuum, and the Welfare State. It may well be that their children won't fancy a Portakabin and a fiver an hour. I look forward in my old age to reading about a whole new cohort of underclass recruits. By 2040, British employment will consist of

a) the City. All their workers live in gated communities.
b) underclass - in a state of permanent low-level war with each other. Run by warlords who are half 'community spokesmen', half gang leader.
c) social workers. Also in gated communities, travel in armoured vehicles. Merged with the police in 2020.

Carry on !

Monday, December 10, 2007

And The Sleaze Goes On ...

Telegraph :

The businessman at the centre of the "Donorgate" row received beneficial planning status from the Government just weeks after he gave the Labour Party more than £100,000 in concealed donations. David Abrahams's controversial plan for a business park at Bowburn in County Durham was put on a pilot scheme designed to speed the planning process and cut the costs of the application, it can be revealed.

Well I never.

The Sunday Telegraph has also learnt that the police inquiry launched last week will examine a decision by Douglas Alexander, then the secretary of state for transport, to approve a new £11.4 million road close to Mr Abrahams's development. The decision was made soon after Mr Abrahams's proxy donations were made in 2005. The 2.5-mile road would greatly improve access to Mr Abrahams's site.

Carol Woods, the deputy leader of Durham City Council, has referred the matter to the police. "Plans for this road had been around a long time but hadn't been going anywhere because the money for it hadn't been around. Then all of a sudden, when Mr Abrahams is giving money to the Labour Party and trying to develop a business park, it is revived and approved by the Government," she said.

A spokesman for Mr Abrahams last night said that there was no connection between any of the donations and the two individual announcements.

Who would possibly think that ?

More from North of the Border :

One of Labour’s biggest donors was able secretly to channel more than £300,000 into the party’s election funds through an Islamic lobby group that hid his identity. Inquiries by The Sunday Times have established that Imran Khand, a 43-year-old computer entrepreneur, was behind three large donations to the party earlier this year.

But his name was never disclosed to the Electoral Commission, which regulates party funding, because the money was given in the name of Muslim Friends of Labour, a lobby group. Separately, Harriet Harman’s deputy leadership campaign registered a £5,000 donation from Muslim Friends, when the cash was almost entirely from Moham-mad Sarwar, the Labour MP who runs the group.

I thought a bag of cash was Mr Sarwar's modus operandi. This does rather put the kybosh on the 'Jewish Gold' theories that have been drifting around. Maybe they just want money, no matter what the source.

UPDATE - Sam Tarran :

This, it seems, is an essential difference between the Labour Party and the Conservative Party. Labour has to "dig up dirt" on the Tories. The Tories just have to wait for Labour to hand their dirt over.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Britains Never Never Never Shall Be Slaves

Blogger Edwin Greenwood's not just bothered about BBC illiteracy.

And who are these people to deserve the name of Britons anyway? Assorted so-called refugees from the Maghreb and the Middle East with apparent connections to people who want to kill us. Britons? Do me a favour!

Mr Greenwood obviously has access to a better news service than I can find. This new BBC story tells us that Shaker Aamer (who according to his lawyer was dying in January 2006) is a Saudi and that an Abyssinian, one al Habashi, remains banged up in Gitmo. But as I search the BBC stories :

for details of the nationalities of 'UK men' Jamil el-Banna, Omar Deghayes and Abdenour Samuer, I learn about their children and how they long to be 'home' for Eid, but nothing about their nationality.

In other BBC stories, "Concerns over Sudanese woman".

Myth Of The Myth Of The Golden Age (again)

Surely the most famous liberal myth of all - and you'd never guess who's peddling it.

Poll Pot (for it is she, in a fatuous Guardian piece on prisons) :

Look at the website's paper, Historical myth-making in juvenile justice policy, by Abigail Wills. She exposes two contradictory myths: that there was a golden age of law and order; and that treatment of juveniles is now more enlightened.

OK, so I did.

One of the most entrenched beliefs about juvenile crime today is that the stable and law-abiding society of past decades is steadily degenerating into lawlessness and amorality. A textbook example of this is a letter to a local paper in October 2005 which argued that:

people nationally are sick of kids making their life hell ...It never happened in the 1950s; it wouldn't be tolerated, bearing in mind we had corporal and capital punishment, Borstals, Approved Schools, plus a real police force with a free hand on crime (W.J. Warren, Plymouth Evening Herald, 2005).

In this story, these effective strategies were abandoned during the permissive 1960s, leading to '40 years of liberal social policies which have pandered to the yob culture'(Western Morning News, 2005).

On the left, such ideas are widely disparaged as the product of reactionary right-wing nostalgia - a harking back to the imaginary 'peaceable kingdom' of the 1950s. However, more liberal worldviews are not immune from rose-tinted visions of the past. Here, the tendency is to see current problems with youth crime as a consequence of the Thatcherite individualism which destroyed the social cohesiveness and solidarity of the early decades of the welfare state. In 2006, the left-leaning Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) published a report entitled Freedom's Orphans, suggesting that rising consumerism and social inequality since the 1970s have been responsible for producing a generation of children who are 'not learning how to behave ... as they should.' Such ideas are accompanied by an acknowledgement that social fears about youth crime are not new - but alongside this often goes the belief that criminality in the past was somehow more benign than today, and that previous concerns about it were therefore unjustified. In contrast, modern fears are deemed entirely rational and evidence-based. In response to the IPPR report, the journalist Finlay MacDonald, for example, acknowledged that 'each generation tends to freak out a little about the one coming up', but went on to argue that 'this time I'm less inclined to dismiss the brutal headlines ... as just another media concoction.' The idea that society is undergoing some sort of inexorable moral decline holds enormous power.

Government rhetoric has exploited this sentiment, invoking a nebulous 'golden age' of peace and harmony in order to justify new criminal justice policies - while simultaneously denying that this is what they are doing. When launching the 'Respect' agenda against anti-social behaviour in early 2005, for example, Tony Blair stressed that he did not believe in 'restarting the search for the golden age. We are not looking to go back to anything.' Yet he also argued, with no apparent sense of irony, that in the 1930s of his father's childhood, 'people behaved more respectfully to one another and people are trying to get back to that.' More recently, he has shifted this arcadia forward a generation, arguing that:

when I was growing up in the North-east of England, anti-social behaviour wasn't a concept in people's minds. That's not to say that people weren't doing bad things - they were. It was just it was a completely different order of problems that we had to deal with.

The perception that society is dealing with an unprecedented problem has justified radical solutions, including overturning the principle of the presumption of innocence and 'moving the focus [of the justice system] away from the offender, and towards the needs of victims and witnesses.'

With the condescension of posterity, we are unwilling to believe that society in past decades tackled problems of equal magnitude, and spoke about crime in similar languages to those of today. The belief that youth misbehaviour is a symptom of catastrophic societal decline has a particularly long-established pedigree, as the historian Geoffrey Pearson has shown. Indeed, the 'deferential' 1950s of popular and political memory were a time of particular panic about juvenile crime. As The Times noted in 1952, 'there has been a decline in the disciplinary forces governing a child. Obedience and respect for the law have decreased.' As today, such fears were accompanied by a sense that past eras were more respectful, and past criminality more benign. In 1953, the president of the Approved Schools Association looked nostalgically back to his earlier charges, noting that:

many of our boys and girls of thirty or more years ago ... knew the feel of empty stomachs... When they arrived in an Approved School with a good bed, good food and even a minimum of recreational equipment, ... they quickly developed a feeling of satisfaction and security.

In contrast, he felt that the affluence of the 1950s had produced a wholly 'different type of boy and girl.' Politicians and the public of the era were convinced, as we are now, that as a result of trends in modern society, youth crime had become a new and unprecedented threat.

The belief in modern rationality as distinct from the barbarity of the past has a similarly lengthy history. The Approved Schools and Borstals now maligned as 'Dickensian' institutions were, in their day, proclaimed as modern replacements for the earlier, more brutal regimes of the Reformatory and Industrial Schools. Today's language of 'evidence-based' innovations in custodial regimes mirrors earlier discussions about the need for practice to be based on the latest knowledge about child psychology. The pioneering headmaster of the Aycliffe Approved School, John Gittins, declared in 1952 that his institution was 'a kind of crucible in which one is carrying out an experiment using ingredients in a concentrated form.' The enlistment of 'scientific' certainties in validating practice is far from a new phenomenon: for at least a century each new generation has proclaimed itself to be at the dawn of a new, more enlightened age of juvenile justice. Politicians have consistently placed themselves at the vanguard of such progressivism, trumpeting their radically innovative policy transformations. Hazel Blears was but one in a long line; she followed in the steps of Alan Brown MP, who in 1961 was reported to have argued that 'more progress had been made in the past twelve months to halt the ever-increasing incidence of juvenile delinquency than had been achieved in the past half-century.'

In reality, both the golden age and the barbarous past are delusions. It is notable here that both of Tony Blair's examples of 'respectful' communities of the past were roundly denounced by those who had experienced them. A neighbour of Blair's father noted that:

Govan [in the 1930s] was a terrible place to live. Poverty and misery were widespread and it was a violent place as well... You had lads hanging about street corners with no work and nothing to do. They got up to as much trouble then as the young people do now...' (Sunday Times, 2006).

A correspondent in The Independent likewise contrasted Blair's claim that anti-social behaviour was unknown in the 1950s with his memory of 'gangs of "teddy boys" with razor blades and bicycle chains fighting in the centre of town on Friday night' (2007). The assumption that we live in a more violent and disrespectful society than in the past is a highly tenuous one.

The History and Policy website which contains this anecdotal "history" has among its aims to "Increase the influence of historical research over current policy". I get a nasty feeling it's in fact another bunch of lefty tax-funded academics pledged to do battle with those evil tabloid myths that have such a hold over our elected representatives. It's another Centre For Crime and Justice Studies.

The exposure of the myth boils down to two amazing discoveries :

  1. In past times some people complained about the young, and thought they were lacking in respect for their elders. Ms Wills manfully avoided the temptation to quote any ancient Greeks or Romans, wisely finding examples (one example, to be precise) from her ci-devant Mythical Golden Age of the 1950s. The implication, that because people in past times complained about worsening behaviour, therefore at no time has behaviour actually worsened, is unstated.
  2. Two people interviewed by the newpapers said that there was crime and anti-social behaviour in the past, something that no-one could disagree with. One of them, talking of Govan, said the 1930s were as bad as today in terms of juvenile misbehaviour.
Abigail Wills is apparently a professional historian, a Research Fellow at Oxford, no less. I'll pass on a historian using phrases like 'reactionary right-wing nostalgia', surely more redolent of partisanship than scholarship. If the above is typical of the standard of evidence on which historians at our most famous universities now decide contentious historical questions, British education is in worse trouble than I thought. There's a place for anecdote in history, even anecdote from memory, either in supporting other evidence or (in bulk or from key sources) as the evidence itself. Could Ms Wills find hundreds, or even dozens, of such examples - and crucially, given what's probably a universal human tendency to see our childhoods as safer than the present, anecdotes featuring detail on the nature and scale of the bad behaviour - then she might be on to something, especially if her search also involved looking for contradictory evidence. But to hang a thesis on what one bloke in Durham remembers of his youth - that's not history but polemic, and poorly-supported polemic at that.

Historical myth-making in juvenile justice policy, eh ? Tu quoque, old girl.

Here's a graph from this pdf, showing recorded offences in England and Wales 1900-1997.

Maybe Ms Wills trained under Jerry Brotton.

(comments are open on this post)

Friday, December 07, 2007

Reclaiming The Streets

Just three weeks after Gordon Brown's morale-raising visit to Moss Side nick ...

Michael Todd, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, said: "Tackling guns and gangs in Manchester is one of our absolute priorities. The really important thing is he will see the men and women on the Xcalibre Task Force making a real difference to people's lives, bringing these people to account."

... we see a major effort to reclaim the streets - by the gangstas !

A gang of 25 men dressed all in black and carrying guns marched through Manchester streets - triggering a massive police operation. It is understood that police received 999 calls from five different witnesses in different streets shortly before 4pm yesterday. Several callers said that shots had been fired, but there were no reports of any injuries. Police are still trying to establish what was behind the incident and are investigating whether it was an organised show of strength by a gang.

The first sighting of the `army' was on Withington Road in Moss Side, and later calls came from Carlton Road, Whalley Range, and Yarburgh Street, Great Western Street, and Barleycroft Street, near Alexandra Park.

(black balaclava-tip - Tottenham Lad)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Independent - Is A New Ice Age Coming ?

Be fair - they've been telling us we're all going to fry for the last ten years. Now it's time to tell us we're all going to freeze. I don't doubt that climate change has serious negative potential, and needs serious study - but global warming is a religion for many. What would they do if their religion was taken away ? (Woolly hat tip - EU Referendum).

"Something is happening to our Sun. It has to do with sunspots, or rather the activity cycle their coming and going signifies. After a period of exceptionally high activity in the 20th century, our Sun has suddenly gone exceptionally quiet. Months have passed with no spots visible on its disc. We are at the end of one cycle of activity and astronomers are waiting for the sunspots to return and mark the start of the next, the so-called cycle 24. They have been waiting for a while now with no sign it's on its way any time soon."

He's right you know. Look at the decreasing sunspot count here (click the "sunspots" trend chart). Apparently Cycle 24 hasn't kicked off yet and is a year overdue.

"Looking back through sunspot records reveals many periods when the Sun's activity was high and low and in general they are related to warm and cool climatic periods. As well as the Little Ice Age, there was the weak Sun and the cold Iron Age, the active sun and the warm Bronze Age. Scientists cannot readily explain how the Sun's activity affects the Earth but it is an observational correlation that the Sun's moods have a climatic effect on the Earth."

Stand by for a Little Ice Age ? Bring back the Frost Fairs !

There seem to have been 18 sunspot minima periods in the last 8,000 years; studies indicate that the Sun currently spends up to a quarter of its time in these minima.

Oort Solar Minimum
(1010-1050) – temperature on Earth is colder than average.

Medieval Solar Maximum
(1075–1240) – coincides with Medieval Warm Period. Vikings from Norway and Iceland found settlements in Greenland and North America.

Wolf Solar Minimum
(1280–1340) – climate deterioration begins. Life gets harder in Greenland.

Spörer Solar Minimum
(1420-1530) – discovered by the analysis of radioactive carbon in tree rings that correlate with solar activity – colder weather. Greenland settlements abandoned.

Maunder Solar Minimum
(1645–1715) – coincident with the 'Little Ice Age'.

Dalton Solar Minimum
(1790–1820) – global temperatures are lower than average.

Modern Climate Optimum
(1890–2000) – the world is getting warmer. Concentrations of greenhouse gas increase. Solar activity increases.

2000- onwards - heat death or big freeze ?

While looking for more on sunspots I found this well-written Harry Eagar report in a Hawaii paper of a lecture by Jeff Kuhn.

IfA solar session out of this world
By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer

PUKALANI – Over decades of scanning changes in the sun, solar astronomers noticed that when there were few sunspots, the Earth was cold; and when there were many, the Earth was warmer.

Today is a time of many sunspots, so that might explain global warming.

Not so fast, says University of Hawaii solar astronomer Jeff Kuhn. You can also find a correlation between sunspots and the number of Republicans elected to the U.S. Senate.

“Ask to see the rest of the data,” Kuhn told an audience of about two dozen people Friday at the Advanced Technology Research Center of the Institute for Astronomy, where he is associate director.

The lecture, the second of a monthly series planned at the IfA’s new home at Kulamalu, was titled, “Why we really need to know how the sun works.”

The University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy has been studying the sun from Mees Observatory for a long time, but why sunspots wax and wane on a fairly regular cycle of about 11 years; or why they sometimes disappear almost entirely are still mysteries.

Kuhn presented a capsule review of Earth’s climate history – which he said is not really known except for the past 2,000 years or so. Thanks to dust from Mongolia, which obscured the sun enough to let Chinese astronomers look at it with their naked eyes, we have a pretty good record of sunspots for the last 1,000 years, and they do correlate well with the ups and downs of Earth’s climate in recent centuries.

“Does the sun affect climate?” Kuhn asked. “Statistics aren’t enough.”

He also gave a capsule history of what is known about the sun’s behavior, the essence of which is that the sun has been getting hotter since the Earth formed – it is about 30 percent more luminous now that it was then.

Run that movie backward, and it becomes evident that so little warmth was reaching the Earth a long time ago that it should have iced up. But if it did do so, the increase intensity of solar radiation that occurred since those early millennia would not have been enough to melt the ice, Kuhn said.

The early history of Earth’s climate remains uncertain, but ice cores indicate that the last 10,000 years have been the most stable ever. In the previous interglacial (warm) period, temperatures swung wildly from hot to cold within less than a century.

The reasons for the dampening of climate swings are not understood, but the factors that affect the Earth-sun physical system are known: the luminosity of the sun, the albedo or reflectivity of the Earth, the emissivity (radiation) of the Earth’s atmosphere and the geometry of the Earth’s path around the sun.

The latter varies on time scales from a year to 100,000 years.

“We have to understand all of these,” said Kuhn.

Emissivity can be affected by ocean currents, which change as continents drift around on a time scale of tens of millions of years; or by the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which can change on long and short time scales.

The concentration of carbon dioxide has been increased by burning fossil fuels, although the added load was small until after World War II, Kuhn said. But the concentration has been higher in the past – maybe a thousand times higher. It has also been much lower during ice ages.

So the question is: What drives climate – those subtle changes in the geometry of the Earth’s relationship to the sun, or the small increase in carbon dioxide?

The GCMs (Global Circulation Models) used by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “do not reproduce these long-term changes” in the Earth-sun geometry, Kuhn said.

He was one of the advisers on a panel of the latest report (IPCC-4) who requested that the report take account of solar variance. The panel was controlled by two men, Kuhn said, who were committed to the view that carbon dioxide is the important component of temperature change, and IPCC-4 leaves out solar components.

“Does carbon dioxide explain temperature change?” Kuhn said. He said the short answer is no.

Glaciers are in retreat, and this is often cited (for example, by former Vice President Al Gore in “An Inconvenient Truth”) as evidence for the impact of carbon on climate.

Kuhn, however, has a pair of graphs that bring that theory into question. One shows when the glaciers began melting, and the other when the carbon dioxide began rising.

The melting began at least 80 years before the carbon buildup.

“It’s not caused by the carbon dioxide,” said Kuhn.

He said carbon dioxide levels have changed by 50 percent over 20,000 years, but climate has been remarkably stable, far more stable than during the previous interglacial period. The Earth is now in a warm interlude in a long Ice Age.

“This change (the warmer Earth era that coincides with the beginning of human civilization 10,000 years ago) wasn’t caused by carbon dioxide,” Kuhn said.

“It was caused by insolation.”

Insolation is the amount of solar radiation or energy received by the Earth.

Kuhn said a study of sea level changes reaches the same conclusion, that climate changes observed now are part of a long-term cycle in the relationship between sun and Earth. The models relied upon by the IPCC “should not be used to predict future climate changes,” he said.

“To change our economy on that basis would be wrong.”

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


If there's one thing that gets my goat, it's highly paid sports stars acting like prats in public. When Morris, Lampard, Gudjohnsen and Terry disgraced themselves in front of American tourists on the night of 9/11 I was disgusted.

When Gavin Henson hammered Mat Tait and kicked a huge penalty against England three years back it looked as if Wales' next great star was born. Unfortunately two big tackles and a kick don't make a career, and, afflicted by a nagging groin strain, he spent the next few years in the gossip columnns rather than the back pages. Wales left him out of the World Cup squad.

Yet in the last game against South Africa I was pleased to see that inside the celebrity there appeared to be a decent rugby player trying to get out.

Oh dear.

The teacher, who asked not to be named, said, “They weren’t inebriated, they were extremely drunk. They couldn’t stand, they absolutely reeked. I found them loud and abusive and there were children in there. They were playing a card game with forfeits, the most significant was that they had to drink one and a half bottles of beer and if they didn’t Gavin Henson clenched his fist and he hit them in the face. I saw it happen at least once but the boy was happy for him to do it. Another boy said afterwards he was desperate for a pee and did it on the floor. A lady started speaking to them and they became abusive.

Then I felt I had to intervene and they began swearing at me, using the ‘f’ word, the ‘c’ word, and they called one lady a ‘fat bitch’. Their seats were soaked and they spat on the table. Some forfeits included holding their heads back and pouring beer down each other’s throats.”

The woman said a train conductor tried to defuse the situation but said she did not have the authority to take the alcohol away.

"I got very, very cross, as did other passengers and I said to Gavin Henson, ‘This will do wonders for your image and the police will be waiting for you when you get off.’ This seemed to sober him up a bit, and he tried telling them [to calm down]. But one boy was so angry he was spitting when he spoke. I was offered a DNA test by the train manager because I had saliva on me. We had 1¾ hours of hell. One lady was profoundly disturbed by the incident. I cried when I got home but she was sobbing as she got off the train".

Gavin Henson is 25. By the calendar. And he's a disgrace to Welsh rugby.

Yes, it's "Female Foeticide UK" !

Killing babies is the most basic of human rights (except for the baby of course).

Unless that is you kill more girl babies than boy babies. Welcome to the wonderful world of 'female foeticide', no longer a basic human right but instead 'an extreme manifestation of violence against women'. Your killing, to be ethical, should of course be race, gender, sexuality and disability neutral. Sorry, did I mention disability ? Forget about that one (and whisper it, but it's not race-neutral either).

Anyway, what's new ? I posted all about this in March, when the great and the good were getting all in a tizz about what was happening in India.

In India you can test for the sex of your unborn child, then knock it on the head if you don't like the result. "A woman's right to choose", remember ? "Every child a wanted child - every mother a willing mother".

In the good old UK, of course, we stopped telling parents the sex of the unborn at scan-time for precisely that reason. But a woman's right to choose can't be thwarted that easily.

Between 1990 and 2005 almost 1,500 fewer girls were born to Indian mothers in England and Wales than would have been expected for that group, researchers say. This represents one in ten girls “missing” from the birth statistics for Indian-born women having their third or fourth child. The findings will be revealed in a special radio programme to be broadcast on the BBC’s Asian Network digital radio station this evening.

One British-born mother, who has three daughters, tells the programme that she terminated a pregnancy intentionally last year. “Meena”, an office worker in her 30s, said that she had no difficulty in finding a gynaecologist in Delhi willing to do a scan to determine the sex of the baby, and then to perform the abortion.

“Me and my husband decided to go to India and try and find out what we were having and unfortunately it was another girl,” she said. “My husband and I thought the burden would probably be too much. So we decided to terminate.”

The programme also sent an undercover pregnant British-Indian woman to several top doctors in Delhi for a scan – three doctors agreed to it in the full knowledge that the woman would abort the child if it was a girl and that such scans are banned in India.

I await the screams of outrage for this dreadful crime from the Stroppys and Natalies of this world, followed by demands for more Indian boys to be topped until equality is achieved.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Sleaze - Labour core begins to melt down ...

And still they come. This is getting silly.

Mr Hain last week admitted he had failed to register a £5,000 donation from Labour's chief fundraiser Jon Mendelsohn. In a statement, he said he had been to see the Electoral Commission to inform them that further donations to his campaign were not registered as they should have been. He added: "I am preparing a full declaration to the Electoral Commission.

"As soon as I discovered on Thursday that the donation from Jon Mendelsohn had not been registered I took immediate steps to do so and made this public. I am now doing the same about these further donations. This is extremely regrettable and I apologise."

Times : "If you resign we'll all have to - so stay put"

Gordon Brown’s election chief ordered his sister not to resign as Scottish Labour Party leader for fear of causing fallout throughout the Cabinet. The disclosure that Douglas Alexander put pressure on his sister, Wendy Alexander, came as Peter Hain admitted failing to register donations properly and as the Prime Minister tried to rally his demoralised party at a meeting of backbenchers.

If Ms Alexander had resigned over an illegal £950 donation, pressure on Harriet Harman to step down as Mr Brown’s deputy over an illegal donation of £5,500 could have proved irresistible. She is further being investigated over a failure to declare a £40,000 mortgage to finance her leadership campaign. The latest embarrassment will increase pressure on Mr Brown to strip her of her role as party chairman.

I don't see how Wendy Alexander can possibly keep her post if she's given false information to the Electoral Commission about her donations. The Sunday Herald report, a great piece of investigative journalism, looks damning.

It further emerged that Ms Harman’s husband, Jack Dromey, was at top of a secret list of approved candidates to be given safe seats in the event of a snap election.

It's just a money-go-round, isn't it ?

Sleaze - Labour going critical

Like neutrons multiplying in a runaway reactor while the technicians desperately insert boron rods, it's becoming hard to stay on top of the Labour sleaze stories.

Up in the Land O'Cakes, Labour leader Wendy Alexander appears to be living on borrowed time following her statement that a loan from a Jersey (i.e. offshore) businessman was legal, being sourced from a UK company. Alas a rather unfortunate Word document has popped up, showing a list of donors - the relevant cash showing a Jersey donor, and flagged 'permissible ?'. To put the tin lid on it, the Word doc bears the name of the owner of the computer - Ms Alexander's husband. Mr Eugenides (parental advisory) is distraught, but is hoping to be a shoulder to cry on for the lovely Wendy.

But the most magnificent Labour sleaze story of all is over at Sam Tarran's (who incidentally is posting some cracking stuff at the moment). It's got the lot.

A former Labour mayor and his wife have been jailed for swindling state benefits to pay their daughter's private school fees.

You couldn't make it up.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Islamic Mole Discovered


You have to laugh, really. Looks like Mr Gray's was the "wrong sort of multiculturalism".

A British children’s author who named a mole Mohammed to promote multiculturalism has renamed it Morgan for fear of offending Muslims. Kes Gray, a former advertising executive, first decided on his gesture of cross-cultural solidarity after meeting Muslims in Egypt. The character, Mohammed the Mole, appeared in Who’s Poorly Too, an illustrated children’s book, which also included Dipak Dalmatian and Pedro Penguin, in an effort to be “inclusive”.

Never mind. Slowly we're being trained. Although British Muslims are supporting the jailed teacher, a mob in Khartoum can still frighten a writer in England. A multicultural pig is unlikely to feature in any future children's books.

"As soon as I saw the news I thought, oh gosh, I’ve got a mole called Mohammed � this is not good"

One Woe Doth Tread Upon Another's Heels

So close they follow :

The focus of the sleaze scandal engulfing the Government switched dramatically last night to the Labour Party's second biggest donor - an Iranian-born car dealer who is not even entitled to vote in general elections.

Mahmoud Khayami, a French citizen, has given a total of £830,000 in the past eight months, making him Labour's biggest individual backer after Lord Sainsbury.

The guy's got a house in London and his business is in California. He registered to vote on May 1 (as an EU national he can vote in EU and local elections), dobbed in £500,000 on May 2nd and another 350K in September.

It's not illegal for a change, but he's not exactly a horny-handed son of British toil, is he ? Altogether now :

Arise, ye workers from your slumbers ...

h/t - Ross.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

BBC Commemorate Anniversary

It's 50 years since Boris Pasternak's novel Dr Zhivago was published, and the BBC have a new radio adaptation.

It's also 75 years since Stalin starved several million Ukrainians to death. If there are any BBC documentaries on this subject, they're keeping pretty quiet about them on the website.

Only two Western journalists exposed the famine - Malcolm Muggeridge in some unsigned Guardian pieces, and a young Welshman called Gareth Jones, who was almost certainly killed by the NKVD two years later.

You can't blame the BBC bigwigs for this lack of focus. After all, when they were at university only right-wing lunatics like Robert Conquest claimed the USSR was responsible for millions of deaths. Turned out he was right all along.