Saturday, May 19, 2007

"they haven't succeeded with any of us"

Ex-smackhead Mark Johnson notices something about social workers.

"They said I was a product of my environment and upbringing. That made me feel it wasn't my fault, so the last person that I looked at was me and that's the first place I needed to look."

As the Wicked Uncle put it forty-five years ago :

To give them the idea when they get here that they're important, their only trouble is they're misunderstood, they need sympathy: well to me, quite frankly that just seems ridiculous. They get more attention paid to them here, more mollycoddling, more listening-to than they’ve ever had in their whole lives outside. It makes them feel, it can't help it, that they're not really bad people at all; it's everyone else outside who's wrong, not them.

Mr Johnson seems to have them taped.

The social workers at the first rehab he chose to attend in preference to staying in prison, are described as "kind-hearted but misguided".

"They have tried hard to persuade us to change but as far as I know, they haven't succeeded with any of us," he writes. "Social workers are so far behind," he adds. "Our whole society has changed."

Damn right it has. And most of the change was cheered on, if not actually engineered, by Guardianistas.

He points to the collapse of apprenticeships. "On the outside it was about employment. But it was really about an older man showing a younger bloke how to live; how to get up at 7am and to emotionally correct his behaviour. That's gone and we're dealing with the wreckage."

It's not just the industry that's gone - in the welfare age the need to work - and all that went with it - the learning, the cameraderie, the role model - has gone for many. To repeat: In ancient days (the Golden Age that never was) the disciplines of work and marriage subdued man's natural tendencies to naughtiness of all kinds. No work meant no food - and perhaps more important for socialisation, no respect from your peers.

Lamp Posts and Elections

In Birmingham the council (Conservative) banned the display of election posters on public street furniture (lamp-posts etc).

Some believe this damaged the vote of the BNP.

I'm agnostic about this. I don't think it's a bad thing that everyone's made aware of elections. It may be right that lots of BNP posters encourage a BNP vote - after all in the 2005 Euro elections UKIP got a massive vote with zero organisation on the ground but a massive and expensive poster campaign.

I'm pretty sure though that the ruling party shouldn't use taxpayer money for their campaigns. In Nottingham the council (Labour) has been reprimanded by the District Auditor for covering the lamp-posts with promotional material which was "strikingly similar to the material in the local Labour Party's newsletter". Nothing like getting the taxpayer to fund you, is there ?

Press coverage here, here and an editorial here. They were reprimanded in 2005 for similar dodgy dealing.

The city council was reprimanded by the District Auditor in 2005 for unlawful expenditure on publicity. A lengthy investigation criticised the way Labour councillors were quoted in 114 of the press releases sent out in 1999/2000. Many articles in the council's Arrow newspaper were also judged to be party political.

The District Auditor at the time, John Gregory, pursued the city council over the spending of £13,000. Mr Gregory told the Evening Post: "Public money should not be used in a way which could be construed as trying to gain political advantage."

Friday, May 18, 2007

One Man And His Dog

As police and council officials scour Westminster for the missing Gullit, Jose Mourinho gives exclusive Telegraph interview :

This, my friends, is pressure. Not "why you not win Premiership" or "why you spend £300 million and still cannot win Champions League". This is not pressure. Pressure is when your wife is on doorstep in tears because man wants to take away her Gullit. This is pressure.

So I arrive and I try to talk to these people, like I would referee. This is nothing personal. I just say what it is in my heart. I try to cleanse my soul a little bit. So when I say bitch, I am not speaking to policewoman who is there, I am not talking about her, this is just little word I use to comfort Gullit. But when I say this little word, they take me and Gullit away.

And for why? This is what I am saying: has Sir Fergie's Highland terrier been taken away? No. Do they come at night to take Roy Keane's labrador? No. Only the Special Dog is the one inside. Sir's dog, he is outside cocking his leg against lamp-post while Special Dog is eating porridge. Hey, don't get me wrong, Sir's dog is a wonderful dog, very clever, very good, upright old Scottish dog who we must all respect. The Special Dog and him, they share a bowl of food whenever they meet. And it is very good food, very expensive food, because Sir's dog is a fine dog.

All I am saying is this: there is one rule for Sir's dog and another rule for Special Dog. I ask you, why did this happen in FA Cup final week? Why? Maybe you think there is conspiracy against Special Dog because he is from Chelsea and Sir's dog is from Manchester. I speak only facts. You decide.

Better still, Radio Five have the live interview (Realplayer needed). Priceless.

Cricket Lovely Cricket

It's that pleasant time of year when one leaves work and heads off to watch the children play - all the boys had a game last night and there's one tonight as well. Blogging will resume at the weekend. Cricket permitting.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lord, I'm So Tired

How long can this go on ?

(blogging will hopefully resume tonight. Work intrudes.)

I don't blog as much about stuff outside the UK as I should. Mick Hartley does - lots of interesting stuff.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Rambles And Recollections of an Indian Official

by Major-General W H Sleeman, KCB.

The kind of thing the Web - and Project Gutenberg - was made for. All 77 chapters of it, written 1835-36 by the man who suppressed the Thugs. He may have knocked Thuggee on the head, but the tradition of the poisoners lives on - I must say I had no idea Sobhraj was out.

It'd take some time to read the whole thing. A chapter or two at a sitting seems more appropriate.

"an ethnic and confessional cocktail"

BBC correspondent Jim Muir saw it coming all along, but inexplicably failed to tell us at the time.

I have never written to a politician in my life. But I very nearly made an exception for Tony Blair. It was towards the end of 2002, when it was already clear that the invasion of Iraq was only a matter of time ... I was going to tell him, on the basis of three decades living and working in the region, that he was on the brink of a massive historical blunder. I never sent it, because I knew of course that it would not make a blind bit of difference, apart from perhaps salving my own conscience, and allowing me to say: "I told you so" - something that would bring no satisfaction at all. And so, four years on, look at what a terrible mess Mr Blair can now say goodbye to, and hand on to Gordon Brown.

I can write with a degree of "told you so" here, having written this the day Saddam's statue fell.

"... will survival be the biggest worry for most Iraqis ? The US and Brits are going to have to turn themselves into aid workers and/or policemen with some speed. When a strong police state collapses, anarchy often follows ... Night is falling in Baghdad. Let's hope they don't wake up to a looted and burning city tomorrow. I'm very pleased - but it seems to me that for the Coalition the hard work has only just begun."

Muir trots out the "US supported Saddam" line.

But when Saddam's excesses were at their worst, during the war with Iran in the 1980s, he was actually being discreetly supported by the Americans.

This support a/c/t Muir consisted of "turning a blind eye" to human rights violations. You can see who was supporing Saddam here. US support for Saddam increased after the Iranian revolution alright - from 'none' to 'small'.

But it's this bit - on why it was always going to be a mess - that intrigued me. Don't expect to see this line from a BBC Home Affairs corresspondent.

Iraq is a patchwork country, an ethnic and confessional cocktail, of Arabs and Kurds, Turkomans and Chaldaeans, Sunnis and Shiites. Such countries are usually held together by a strong centralised dictatorship, which could be benign or tyrannical.

Hang on a minute. In the UK, an "ethnic and confessional cocktail" translates into "celebrating diversity". How come it's so bad for the Iraqis ?

As soon as you admit the concept of democracy and take the lid off, it is bound to be difficult and chaotic in the best of conditions, in a place with no democratic traditions or culture.

I'm being fair to Mr Muir. That last is an important caveat. No democratic traditions or culture.

22% of children in English schools are now from ethnic minorities. Since Ray Honeyford the concept of using the education system to assimilate migrants to British culture has been seen as racist. 21% of babies in England and Wales have a forign-born mother. How many of those mothers are from countries with democratic traditions and culture ?

Just asking.

While we're in Iraq, an interview with one Rory Stewart, one of those public school adventurers Britain can still produce, and an interesting chap to read or listen to. He's been governing chunks of Iraq for a couple of years. He thinks we should get out.

Immigration figures 'are false' II

A couple of weeks back we had the mayor of Newham and leaders of Slough and Hammersmith dissing the figures.

Westminster, Ken & Chelsea are joining in.

Sir Simon Milton, leader of Westminster City Council, said his council had "anecdotal evidence to suggest that over 2,000 migrants are coming through Victoria coach station on a weekly basis".

Victoria coach station ? That'll be Eastern Europe then.

Two thirds of local authorities across the country contacted by the BBC said they did not have faith in the official number of migrants in their area.

More than half said they would consider doing their own count to establish a more accurate picture.

To repeat :

"Britain is now an open country, in immigration terms the equivalent of the drunk girl on the sofa as the party ends, being eyed up by a couple of dodgy lads."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

(National) Socialist Workers

A year or two back I blogged about the 'socialist' strand of the National Socialist German Workers Party, and wondered what happened to it.

What happened to the writings and theorists of socialism in the Nazi party ? Was all the old 20s literature destroyed after Roehm and Gregor Strasser were shot ? Did the archives of the Nazi Party for the 1920s and early 30s all disappear ? Did the Russians get them ?

Via Albert Speer's "Inside The Third Reich", an unflattering glimpse of some of the old comrades :

Late at night I would return from my rounds
(Speer was organising the party rallies at Nuremburg - LT) to the Hotel Deutscher Hof, which had been reserved for Hitler's staff and for the Gauleiters and Reichsleiters. In the hotel restaurant I usually found a group of old Gauleiters waxing boisterous over their beer as they denounced the party's betrayal of the principles of the revolution and betrayal of the workers.

Here was a sign that the ideas of Gregor Strasser, who had once led the anticapitalist wing within the NSDAP, were still alive, although reduced to mere bombast. Only in alcohol could these fellows resurrect their old revolutionary elan.

Hitler's views on Islam and Christianity, as reported by Speer :

Hitler had been much impressed by a scrap of history he had learned from a delegation of distinguished Arabs. When the Mohammedans had attempted to penetrate beyond France into Central Europe during the eighth century, his visitors had told him, they had been driven back at the Battle of Tours. Had the Arabs won this battle, the world would be Mohammedan today. For theirs was a religion that believed in spreading the faith by the sword and subjugating all nations to that faith. The Germanic peoples would have become heirs to that religion. Such a creed was perfectly suited to the Germanic temperament. Hitler said that the conquering Arabs, because of their racial inferiority, would in the long run have been unable to contend with the harsher climate and conditions of the country. They could not have kept down the more vigorous natives, so that ultimately not Arabs but Islamized Germans could have stood at the head of this Mohammedan Empire.
Hitler usually concluded this historical speculation by remarking "You see, it's been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn't we have the religion of the Japansese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good ? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness ?"


There's a First Time For Everything

The disclosure of Hilary Benn's ownership of a substantial stake in United Business Media is the second instance this year in which the International Development Secretary has been embarrassed by financial interests outside his political life. Three months ago Mr Benn was pressed into resigning as the director of a think-tank, Union 21, that had been given £20,000 of public money.

You can read the details of Hilary Benn's £230,000 shareholding in a company that has Government contracts in the Telegraph. It's this next bit that struck me.

The minister inherited the bulk of the holding from his grandmother. Sources close to Mr Benn say his stake was boosted by a gift from his father, the Left-wing former Labour MP and Cabinet minister, Tony Benn. Mr Benn senior was unavailable for comment last night.

That must surely be a record. Never in recorded history has Anthony Wedgewood Benn failed to give his opinion on any topic - at length - when asked.