Saturday, May 05, 2007

"First Asian MSP goes to Holyrood"

Bashir Ahmad was at the top of the SNPs list for the Glasgow area, so was always in with a good shout of election. Ah well, at least he said he was proud to represent the people of Scotland at Holyrood. His Welsh equivalent, Mohammed Asghar, said he "will be serving with my heart and soul for ethnic minorities which are a definite part of the United Kingdom and Wales". None of this nonsense about working for everyone.

Back to Mr Ahmad. "He said that a school for the children of Muslim parents in Scotland was one of his main goals."

It certainly is. A goal in pursuance of which he's prepared to disrupt Mass in a Catholic school. I wonder how many Glaswegian Catholics voted SNP ?

Compare and Contrast


Screening 'may help stem TB rise'

Introducing targeted tuberculosis screening would help to combat the recent rise in UK cases, a study says.

Researchers from Queen Mary's School of Medicine found that offering screening at GP surgeries increased detection rates by over a third, the Lancet said.


Tuberculosis screening demanded for areas with many immigrants

Patients should be screened for tuberculosis in areas with high migrant populations where the disease is on the rise, researchers say.

A study in today’s Lancet medical journal found that 13 per cent more TB cases were detected when general practices used active screening in Hackney, East London, boosting rates of vaccination against the disease.

Here's another downside. When I saw the headline I thought 'but no-one chews tobacco any more'. Not something you'd have had to worry about in Ealing 50 year back - although when I lived in Leeds in the 70s the buses still had "No Spitting" signs on them :

People who spit in the street will be forced to clean up or face an £80 fine, police in north London have said.

The clampdown is particularly aimed at chewers of paan, a tobacco leaf-based mixture, which authorities blame for staining pavements in central Wembley.

Posters and leaflets are being handed out warning spitting is "unhygienic" and an "act of anti-social behaviour". "Paan damages walls and pavements and costs taxpayers thousands of pounds a year to clean," said Ch Insp Raj Kohli. Paan spittle hotspots are Ealing Road and part of the High Road near St Johns Road, according to Brent Council.

Bromsgrove Rovers 2 Willenhall 1

Like Leeds United, only playing better football, the Greens have fallen from their high estate in the 90s, when under the great Bobby Hope they finished second in the Conference. Since then they've been reduced to the Southern League Midland Division, playing against much smaller teams. Bring back Alan Craddock and Chris Hooper say I. Much internal politicking and bad feeling means they don't currently seem to have a website, but there is a Supporters site and an unofficial forum.

They've just beaten Willenhall Town 2-1 after extra time in the playoff final, and are promoted to the SL Premier division, from which promotion back to the Conference is possible.

Congratulations to the lads, to manager Rod Brown, and to Sam Allsop for the equaliser and Jermaine Clarke for the winner.

The Way We Were - Station Syren

She sat with a Warwick Deeping,
Her legs curl'd round in a ring,
Like a beautiful panther sleeping,
Yet always ready to spring.

Tweed on her well-knit torso,
Silk on each big strong leg,
An officer's lady - and more so
Than those who buy off the peg.

More cash than she knew of for spending
As a Southgate girl at home,
For there's crooning and clinging unending
For the queen of the girls at the 'drome.

Beautiful brown eyes burning
Deep on the Deeping page,
Beautiful dark hair learning
Coiffuring tricks of the age.

Negligent hand for holding
A Flight-Lieutenant at bay,
Petulant lips for scolding
And kissing the trouble away.

But she isn't exactly partial
To any of that sort of thing,

So maybe the Air Vice-Marshal
Will buy her a Bravington ring.

(John Betjeman)

Where Is It ?

As a small child I used to have had a recurring dream about a big house. My father's family had settled near Darlington when they came to England in May 1940, and I was sure it was from staying there as an infant that the dream was sourced.

Sorting through my late mother's photographs I think I've found the house of my dream. Anyone know where it is ? Probably somewhere in the North-East.

Let's not think about tomorrow ...

Lest we disappointed be;

All our joys may turn to sorrow,

As we all may daily see.

No deaths on Thursday at Trimdon , but no political explosion either for disappointed Tory Shirley Bowes.

Lucy Howels (Lab) 441 votes
Amanda Foster (BNP) 75 votes
Shirley Bowes (Con) 0 votes

Friday, May 04, 2007

Today's Early Release Murderer - Peter Tobin

The church handyman was sentenced to 14 years in prison at Winchester Crown Court in Hampshire in 1994 for the assault.

After his release in December 2004, he moved to Paisley, East Renfrewshire but within 10 months the authorities had lost track of him.

The case has once again raised questions over the early release and monitoring of sex offenders.

Has it ? You could have fooled me. Just the other day, as Judy McKnight reports, Lord Falconer was praising (Word doc) the Probation Service 'in marked contrast to the sort of speeches we have heard from John Reid'.

"Underpinning our approach to probation is inevitably a desire to reduce re-offending. Using probation as effectively as we can. Increasing rehabilitation, reducing re-offending, more restorative justice, raising public protection. The challenge we face, and you most particularly on the front line, is that of how to turn the offender into the citizen.

It is not an easy task. Elements of the media and parts of the public see you as a soft touch, not grounded in the real world. They say you are naive. That does you a great disservice, and it is I believe ignorant. The probation service I know retains a realism about what can be achieved, about set backs and relapses without allowing itself to become cynical or jaded. It has dogged determination and patience. By giving people a future to follow, they can leave their past behind. It is the service on whom many people will rely when their lives are mired in crime and everyone else has given up and gone home."

The trouble is that 'setbacks and relapses' translates into 'dead girls under floorboards'. If the Probation Service were a commercial organisation offering a service which caused as many deaths and injuries each year as their decisions do, they would long ago have been closed down and the directors prosecuted. 'Retaining a realism about what can be achieved' seems in practice to boil down to accepting those deaths, injuries and losses.

'It is the service on whom many people will rely when their lives are mired in crime and everyone else has given up and gone home.'

Had he followed that with 'and just as importantly, it is the service on which law-abiding people rely to take the correct decisions to protect them, their families and their property' I could just about swallow it. But, as ever, the focus is on the poor offender, 'mired in crime', as if he fell into it by accident one day.

What's Falconer's problem ? Why won't we get a decent - a just - criminal justice system out of this guy ? He's answered the question himself.

"I have been speaking, seeing, sharing and listening to a great number of people who have a vested interest in the justice system."

You said it.

Local Elections

Was it Mao who, asked his opinion of the French Revolution, replied 'it's too early to tell ?'.

All we can say with certainty is that whenever Labour change the voting systems in an attempt to increase their vote, disaster, corruption and incompetence follow. See Mr Eugenides for the gory details (swearing alert).

PragueTory don't like the BBC coverage.

Ian Dale :

"I cannot believe that the BBC is saying a 41% vote share for the Conservatives is slightly disappointing. Actually, I can."

One thing we can say is that the 'chip and bin' system introduced by the Lib Dems in Bournemouth isn't very popular.

More later.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Ed Husein Interview

When Radio Four is too dull and Radio Five unspeakably PC (i.e. betwen 10 am and 4 pm every weekday), I sometimes listen to BBC Asian Network, easily the least PC of the BBCs output - because it's not aimed at evil Whitey and his unspeakable racism. Some good music, too, and it's mostly in English - unlike my favourite Asian station Radio XL, which plays some great music and can be picked up on 1296 AM as far south as Swindon.

Nikki Bedi's show today featured a longish interview with Ed Husain, author of The Islamist. Interesting stuff, worth a listen when they put it online.

It's Not All Bad ...

I've blogged afore about the over-representation of ethnic minorities in the NHS, universally accepted by the great and the good as a Good Thing.

I wonder if this is a side-effect ? Ethnic minority doctors would IMHO be more religious than the natives - they could hardly be less.

Opposition to abortions is growing among family doctors with nearly a quarter refusing to refer women for terminations and a fifth wanting the procedure banned outright, according to a survey published today. The poll by doctors' newspaper Pulse found 24% of GPs would not sign referral forms for an abortion and 19% believe abortion should be illegal.

The survey of 309 GPs also found that more than half (55%) wanted the current 24-week limit for abortions to be reduced. The findings have heightened fears by women's and sexual health organisations that Britain is heading for an abortions crisis due to a shortage of doctors prepared to carry out terminations.

Vote Early, Vote Often

Three hundred years ago the United Kingdom was formed. Ten years ago the party and the leader who were to destroy it came to power.

I was a Guardianista then. What a happy day that was. But soon I was to be wringing my hands.

The general consensus seems to be that if the SNP win power, they'll ramp up and magnify every difference with Westminster - and there'll be plenty - hoping to win a referendum on full independence a few years down the road.

In the end, "it's all our fault". As I wrote a few months back :

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 thing that's less predictable is what effect this will have on the English. So far the West Lothian question has so hacked off the English that they're keener on Scottish independence than the Scots. What will be the consequences of English self-government ? That remains to be seen. Interesting times.

(I claim copyright on the 'tectonic plate shift' analogy btw, first used in this 2004 post.)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Great Liberal Myths Revisited - Migration and Crime

When I wrote this post in 2004, 10% of all UK prisoners were foreign nationals.

The figure is now 15%, according to the answers to Parliamentary questions obtained by the Telegraph.

Keeping foreign nationals in overcrowded British jails is costing the taxpayer more than £398 million a year, it has been claimed. Figures obtained by the Tories show that 15 per cent of the nearly 80,000-strong prison population are from outside the UK. The largest contingents among the 12,122 come from Jamaica and Nigeria, with 1,490 and 1,070 respectively. Another 879 inmates are classified as having "unrecorded" nationality - raising questions over why officials have been unable to establish their origin, and what will happen to them when released.

Shadow immigration minister Damian Green, who brought the details to light through Parliamentary questions, said the situation was "truly shocking". "It shows what happens when the Government loses control of our borders. We seem to attract criminals from all over the world, and the British taxpayer ends up paying for them," he insisted. "Many of these criminals come from friendly democratic countries where deportation could be arranged. If we could remove the Jamaican prisoners alone we would save £49 million a year. And why are there nearly 1,000 people who have gone through the criminal justice system and been jailed without the Government even finding out where they come from?"

Mr Green used the "snapshot" figures from the end of February to calculate costs based on Government estimates of £33,000 annual expenditure for each prison place. Some 164 nationalities are represented in British jails, according to the data.

I like this intervention by Juliet Lyon of the Prison Abolition Trust.

"Mr Green rightly points out the large number of foreign nationals in UK prisons, but fails to mention that the dearest wish of many is nothing more than to go home."

Well, yes. I imagine it's the dearest wish of most of the native villains too.

The BBC discover Brum Vote Fraud

Three years late. At Biased BBC.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Judge Clarence Thomas

When George Herbert Walker Bush appointed Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme Court in 1991, I was a card-carrying Guardianista and took little notice. If asked I'd probably have been quite happy to parrot the line that he was a token replacement for Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court judge.

There's a whole lot more to him, if the Wikipedia entry and this City Journal profile are any guide. And he's a Thomas Sowell fan, too. A few snippets :

Thomas on Judging

“In my mind, impartiality is the very essence of judging and of being a judge. A judge does not look to his or her sex or racial, social, or religious background when deciding a case. It is exactly these factors that a judge must push to one side in order to render a fair, reasoned judgment on the meaning of the law. In order to be a judge, a person must attempt to exorcise himself or herself of the passions, thoughts, and emotions that fill any frail human being. He must become almost pure, in the way that fire purifies metal, before he can decide a case. Otherwise, he is not a judge, but a legislator. . . .

“My vision of the process of judging is unabashedly based on the proposition that there are right and wrong answers to legal questions. To be sure, judging is a difficult challenge because the Constitution itself is written in broad and sometimes ambiguous terms. Unfortunately, the Constitution does not come with Cliff’s Notes or a glossary. When it comes time to interpret the Constitution’s provisions, such as, for instance, the Speech or Press Clauses of the First Amendment, reasonable minds can certainly differ as to their exact meaning. But that does not mean that there is no right or correct answer; that there are no clear, eternal principles recognized and put into motion by our founding documents.”

—“Judging,” a 1996 speech to the University of Kansas School of Law

The most important Supreme Court decisions on counting by race in recent years have both involved the University of Michigan, and Thomas’s opinions in those cases are his clearest and most passionate statements on race and the law. In Gratz v. Bollinger, the Court deemed unconstitutional Michigan’s undergraduate admissions program, which blatantly used quotas, and Thomas concurred. “I would hold that a State’s use of racial discrimination in higher education admissions is categorically prohibited by the Equal Protection Clause.”

But in Grutter v. Bollinger, the Court approved Michigan’s law school’s admissions program, which claimed that race was just one factor among many considered in admissions—though the statistical evidence implied the existence of thinly veiled quotas. Sandra Day O’Connor, writing for the majority, held that the school’s desire to achieve “diversity” was a “compelling interest,” sufficient to support taking race into account, and that its admissions program was “narrowly tailored” enough to be constitutional.

Thomas’s dramatic dissent, joined in pertinent part by Scalia, began by quoting a speech that former slave Frederick Douglass made to abolitionists in 1865. “The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us,” Douglass had said. “I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! . . . And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs!

Thomas is well-known for listening rather than actively asking questions during oral arguments of the Court. He has offered several reasons for this, the most strongly supported of which is that he developed a habit of listening as a young man. Thomas comes from the Gullah/Geechee cultural region of coastal Georgia and is a member of this distinct African American ethnic group; he grew up speaking the Gullah language, which is a hybrid of English and various West African languages. Later in life, Thomas began to acquire an enthusiasm for his heritage, writing about it in the December 14, 2000 issue of The New York Times:

"When I was 16, I was sitting as the only black kid in my class, and I had grown up speaking a kind of a dialect. It's called Geechee. Some people call it Gullah now, and people praise it now. But they used to make fun of us back then. It's not standard English. When I transferred to an all-white school at your age, I was self-conscious, like we all are... So I...just started developing the habit of listening."

"Violent immigrants fuelling crime"

Not me saying it, although I do wonder at the naivety of those who think England can import, say, a large number of Somalians without taking on some of the characteristics of Somalia.

'Tis the BBC.

Young immigrants from violent and war-torn countries are fuelling mayhem and murder on London's streets, according to a new report. Research from Scotland Yard says increasing numbers of youths with significant post-traumatic stress are having a negative impact in the city.

And after they've been at their work other people have post-traumatic stress - or worse.

There are currently 171 street gangs operating in London says the report. Some 43% of gangs are estimated to have more than 20 members, while 18% have more than 50 members. Although 90% of gang participants are male, there are believed to be three female gangs operating in London, and women are often used "to mind weapons" for brothers and partners. The document states that half of gangs identified by police intelligence are based in the African-Caribbean community.

Hmm. "The African-Caribbean community". Do I detect a change of terminology ? Is this designed to include Africans as well as those whose immediate antecedents are Caribbean ?

Historically most of the bad gangstas have come from down Jamaica way while the more recent African immigrants were, like most first-generation migrants, pretty law-abiding. Contrast Damilola Taylor and his killers. But since we started importing young men from war zones there's been a change. Somali gangs now feature in the urban bestiary. People like Robert Malasi and Shukri Bilal are starting to clog up our jails with their useless carcases and our mortuaries with their victims.

I may be wrong - "African-Caribbean" may just be a synonym for "Afro-Caribbean". It's hard to keep up. More on London gangs here.

From the Divorce Court

The court heard that the couple had been married for 21 years but in recent years their relationship "had hit an all time low". Mr Gallanagh claimed that his client had endured "continued mental abuse" over a period of about five years which had taken its toll on her. He said Mr Martin had routinely questioned his wife's parental skills and had started a new business venture without her knowledge.

Hmmm. I hope the "continued mental abuse" included criticising her cooking.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Stepford Scientists Report Breakthrough

When I heard this morning that scientists were developing a drug that boosts female sex drive while helping women lose weight, all manner of 'witty' ideas for blog posts came to mind - a few even printable.

But by the time I got home to a warm keyboard, the Pooter of Geek had already shot my particular fox :

"A member of the group also reassured the public that they were doing everything they could to prevent their discovery from falling into the hands of Kate Moss."

"Vibrant and Alive"

Let's say you're a liberal researcher looking at a phenomenon well-known in UK. As more and more incomers arrive in the city, more and more of the natives move out. How do you to put a positive spin on this, lads ? We've done 'diversity' and the improved choice of restaurants to death. Any ideas ?

Tell you what. You don't want to imply that the people coming in are driving the people going out. Why not start with the phenomenon of the natives leaving, and present it in isolation, with no context - as something that's "just happened".

Then we can present the incomers as arriving just in time to save the poor city from becoming empty - as saviours propping up the ailing cities !

Brilliant !

Immigration is helping to keep America's big cities vibrant and alive, buffering major metropolitan areas from a slow drain in population as longtime residents move out, new data released yesterday by the US Census Bureau shows ...

By the middle of this century those patterns of movement - native-born Americans moving out, newcomers and their families moving in - will put a very different face on the average city. The majority population will be members of ethnic minority groups. In some of the fastest growing cities, such as the Dallas Fort Worth area, immigrants accounted for nearly 80% of population growth over the last six years.

Immigration figures 'are false'


Councils are so concerned that official figures are failing to record the true number of migrants entering their area that they are to start their own polling to gauge the scale of the influx.

This is a serious embarrassment to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) which has tried to play down concerns that its estimates for the number of people entering the UK are badly flawed.

Although the office plans to improve its methods for tracking immigration, critics say the new way of counting migrants was equally problematic. The critics point out that, under the new calculations, the number entering London supposedly decreased by 60,000 between 2002 and 2005 - the most up-to-date records available - though most experts say they actually increased. Councils in and around the capital claim the rise in immigrants is placing greater pressure on services and is starting to have an impact on their finances.

Don't get the impression that any of these councils are actually concerned about social cohesion or nonsense like that. The problem is that they want more funding to service the needs of these migrants. Strange - I thought only the swivel-eyed brigade worried about the burden on public services.

'Our electoral register has gone up by 23,000 over the past few years yet they're saying it's gone down,' said Sir Robin Wales, mayor of Newham, east London. 'It's ludicrous. We've nothing against migration - it is great for the economy and great for Newham. However, it needs to be properly funded. We would be willing to pay for a census just to rectify these figures. It would cost us a lot of money, but these inaccurate figures are costing us even more.'

23,000 extra voters on the electoral register, eh ? Are they all entitled to vote ?

The ONS estimates that Slough has received 1,100 extra migrants since 2002. But the local council estimates that at least 10,000 Polish people alone have arrived to work in the town since 2004.

Critics say the office's figures are also at odds with those collated by the government. Migration figures released by the ONS earlier this month suggested that approximately 56,000 Poles entered the UK in 2005, although the Department for Work and Pensions has issued figures suggesting that over 170,000 Polish citizens applied for National Insurance numbers in the same year.

'The government's new figures suggest we have fewer migrants than three years ago,' said Councillor Mark Loveday, cabinet member for strategy at Hammersmith and Fulham council. National Insurance registrations by people from countries which recently joined the European Union 'are up by more than 550 per cent and that's before other migrants are counted'.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

More Vote Fraud

Yes, it's that time again, with your hosts Leeds Labour Councillors Keith Wakefield and Graham Hyde.

Isn't it amazing ? There's a story about them in the Sunday Times.

Wakefield and Hyde then delivered their briefing. "Simply, what I want you to do is to knock on the door, say you are from the Labour party," instructed Hyde.

"Have you received your postal vote?" he told the students to ask voters. "Have you returned it? If they give it to you in your hand, you collect it and put it in the post box. If they haven’t, you say, ‘Have you got your postal vote?’" Wakefield chipped in: "You’ve got to do it for them."

Hyde then said: "And if you are knocking on the door and they have a postal vote and they haven’t done it, ‘Would you like to do it? We’ll put it in the post.’ We also want to check they are voting Labour as well. Yeah? If they are voting Liberal Dem, then don’t offer to put the postal vote in. We’ve found 10 so far out of all those we’ve done in Gipton."

One of the students then said: "Yes, I’ll post that for you." Hyde laughed and added: "Yes, that’s it, and then it ends up in the toilet."

By a remarkable coincidence, you can't access the details for either Messrs Wakefield or Hyde on the Leeds City Council website. Only Google cache is still there.

The ST also has an editorial.

All three main parties, meanwhile, have signed up to the Electoral Commission’s code of conduct. This means candidates and canvassers will not handle or help voters complete their postal ballot papers, that they encourage voters to post ballot papers themselves and if asked to take a completed ballot paper, to make sure the voter has sealed it first. They must also ensure voters complete ballot papers in secret, and not solicit completed postal ballot papers from electors.

Today we report that the Labour party in Leeds has driven an articulated lorry through this code in a desperate attempt to gain power on the city council. An undercover reporter posing as a student activist was part of a team told by the leader of the Labour group on the council, Keith Wakefield, and a fellow Labour politician, to collect postal votes in two key wards, and if necessary "help" voters fill in the forms. The other councillor, Graham Hyde, who worked in the Commons for George Mudie, the former Labour deputy chief whip, warned the canvassers not to get caught with any postal voting forms on them.

Every aspect of the code, in other words, was breached. As David Crompton, assistant chief constable of West Yorkshire, put it when told of Labour’s actions: "This is extremely sharp practice and a clear breach of the guidelines. We will now be looking at this carefully to determine whether a crime has been committed." Whatever the police do, the Labour party should suspend the councillors involved.

I have an old-fashioned cliche in my mind's eye - of idealistic middle-class types making sacrifices to help the working class. Last week's Indie piece on core Labour demography should dispel any illusions that Labour are in any sense a working class party.

She was among a group of 12 students, mostly studying English, politics and history, who were then driven to the car park of the Fairway pub in Gipton.

The area (Gipton), in eastern Leeds, is one of the rougher suburbs, made up largely of council tower blocks and sprawling estates. Gangs of youths hang around on street corners and the unemployment rate is high.

The suburb, whose residents are typically white working-class or poor Asian families, was until recently solidly Labour.

We're seeing middle-class people making sacrifices to defraud the working class. Thus far have we come since Peterloo and the Chartists.

Richard Price QC, an expert on electoral law, said: "I look at the situation as like a large bowl of water. Previously there were a couple of holes in it — isolated cases of fraud — but suddenly it has become a colander. It is a completely unnecessary crisis. With postal voting you have abolished the secret ballot, and your investigation is a classic example of this."

Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, an academic expert on elections, added: "Postal voting on demand is inherently unsatisfactory. The whole system is open to abuse. Secret ballots were introduced in 1872 to stop exactly this sort of problem and we now seem to be going back to the 19th century."

Sir Alistair Graham, who stood down as chairman of the committee on standards in public life last week, recently accused ministers of being in denial about the "real and potent threat" facing the electoral system as a result of fraud. He warned that the government could not ensure the forthcoming local elections would be free, fair or secure.

Police Decapitation Photos

"There is absolutely no room in this constabulary for this type of communication"

Mr Brunstrom said the images were shown to drive home the true horror caused by dangerous driving.