Saturday, September 01, 2007

Ian McKellen - Bible-Basher

"Yes it is true," responded McKellen in even tones. "Its Leviticus 18:22 that I object to, or is it 22:18, I've always got to look it up. Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman, it is an abomination. And they, I think the punishment for an abomination was being stoned to death," he said.

McKellen added, "I think it's rather obscene and pornographic, and shouldn't be there, so I remove it."

Asked how many bibles he has vandalized, McKellen replied, "I have no idea, but other people do it as well, people send me evidence that they have been removing that."

McKellen has been vandalizing bibles in the same fashion for at least a few years. He first admitted publicly to the activity in 2004 in an interview with the UK Telegraph.

I'm presuming Mr McKellen doesn't stay at Malaysian hotels.

(via iFeminists)

Council By-Elections

24dash :

Analysis of 11 comparable contests over August suggests a projected nationwide Tory lead over Labour of 12.5%, a bleak message for the Prime Minister as he ponders whether to face the voters in the autumn. This week's by-elections saw Tories defend two marginals - against Labour in Newport North, Isle of Wight, and the Green Party at Nailsworth, Stroud District, Gloucestershire. In a third contest at Epping Forest District, Essex, the BNP narrowly defended a seat at Loughton Alderton against a challenge from a residents' candidate. Out of the 11 comparable by-elections this month, only one produced a Labour performance sufficient at a General Election to see it narrowly retain power.

So that's three - two Tories and a BNP. Results via John Hemming.

Epping Forest DC, Loughton Alderton
BNP 393 (32.2; -5.4), Residents 367 (30.1; +1.0), Con 163 (13.3; -3.1), LD
Neil Woollcott 172 (14.1; +10.5), Lab 98 (8.0; -5.2), UKIP 28 (2.3; +2.3).
Majority 26. Turnout 36.7%. BNP hold. Last fought 2006.

Isle of Wight UA, Newport North
Con 207 (35.5; -3.0), LD Liam Verstraeten 189 (32.4; +3.9), Lab 137
(23.5; -9.5), UKIP 25 (4.3; +4.3), Ind 23 (3.9; +3.9), Ind 2 (0.3; +0.3).
Majority 18. Turnout 30.0%. Con hold. Last fought 2005.

Stroud DC, Nailsworth
Con 857 (44.5; +6.1), Green 810 (42.0; +4.1), Lab 261 (13.5; +0.2), [LD
(0.0; -5.1)], [UKIP (0.0; -5.3)].
Majority 47. Turnout 38.0%. Con hold. Last fought 2007

UKIP's absence saved the Tories in Stroud, their presence nearly did for the BNP in Essex. Cliff-hanger in Newport. Two more from John Hemming again :

Suffolk CC, Thedwastre South
LD Penny Otton 927 (41.8; +7.5), Con 833 (37.5; -9.4), Green 287 (12.9;
+12.9), Lab 88 (4.0; -14.8), UKIP 85 (3.8; +3.8).
Majority 94. Turnout 32.4%. LD gain from Con. Last fought 2005

Havering, Squirrels Heath:
Conservative 1828
Havering Residents Association 310
Labour 210
National Liberal Party, the Third Way 170
UKIP 134

No surprise in Havering, but UKIP and Greens take Tory votes, and tactical Labour defections give an LD gain in Suffolk. Four more :

Blaenau Gwent County Borough - Blaina: Ind 381, Lab 315, Ind 310, No description 49. (June 2004 - Three seats Lab 860, Ind 777, Ind 661, Lab 595, Lab 404, Ind 342). Ind hold.

Gloucestershire County - Lansdown, Park and Warden Hill: C 2208, Lib Dem 1605, Lab 226, Green 184. (May 2005 - Two seats C 3812, 2962, Lib Dem 2561, 2343, Lab 998, Green 968, Lab 832). C hold. Swing 1.1% Lib Dem to C.

Portsmouth City - Fratton: Lib Dem 1196, C 496, Lab 144, English Democrats 131, Green 56, Ind 17. (May 2007 - Lib Dem 1391, C 571, Lab 310, English Democrats 212). Lib Dem hold. Swing 0.6% C to Lib Dem.

Ryedale District - Sheriff Hutton: C 348, Ind 299. (May 2007 - C 386, Ind 367). C hold.

Blimey - those old tribal loyalties are sure breaking down. The Blaina and Fratton votes would have Ernie Bevin or Nye Bevan rotating in their graves if they were alive today. Last but by no means least - Shadwell and Elmbridge :

Elmbridge Borough - Walton Ambleside: Con 310, Walton Society 252, Lab 60, Ukip 33, Lib Dem 26. (May 2007 - Con 431, Walton Society 281, Lib Dem 94, Lab 90). Con hold. Swing 0.7% Con to Lab.

Tower Hamlets Borough - Shadwell: Respect 1512, Lab 1415, Con 476, Lib Dem 98. (May 2006 - Three seats Respect 1851, 1789, 1707, Lab 1287, 1141, 1054, C 723, 670, 605, Lib Dem 226). Respect hold. Swing 6.7% Respect to Lab.

Apparently "Delirious party members and supporters then marched down Brick Lane, the heartland of Respect's East End power base, cheering their way to a celebration meal well into the night.

(Nulab candidate) Keith may have been badly damaged by his gaffe earlier this week when he falsely accused the Tories of wanting to 'burn down' Shadwell's Sonali Gardens Asian elders day centre.

For Respect, their victory was crucial. Defeat could have meant disaster, an end to their East End power base.

But having beaten a massive Labour campaigning operation with sheer legwork, the boost to its morale is now huge.

The turnout at Shadwell was almost 40 per cent, well down from 46.2 per cent at last year's local elections, and included 504 postal votes, mostly for Labour."

There was some fuss about an alleged assault on Respect activist Carol Swords. From the bruising in the picture someone has grabbed her by the arms very firmly, as it appears you'd need to if you wanted either to stop her or move her. Lenin's comments say her fingers were broken. Tsk tsk.

As I wrote two years back :

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

"The immigrant trickle that became a flood"

Graham Stewart in the Times :

A century hence, what will historians consider the most significant social change to Britain during the Blair years? Quite possibly they will conclude it was how immigration transformed the country. One in four children born in Britain last year had a foreign parent. This changing ethnicity has been further accentuated by a growing flight of British citizens, almost 200,000 of whom emigrated last year.

From a historical perspective, the emigration of this many native Britons is not so remarkable. Paradoxically, the greater Victorian Britain became, the more its workforce sought opportunities abroad — not just in the empire but also in the United States.

By contrast, today’s rate of immigration is producing the most significant change in the national make-up in 900 years. Indeed, it is noteworthy how relatively small waves of immigration nonetheless perturbed the natives. To his eternal shame, Edward I expelled England’s Jews even although they numbered much more than 5,000 very useful subjects. By the mid-15th century there were perhaps fewer than 16,000 foreigners living among England’s 2.5 million inhabitants.

And it is unclear why Elizabeth I felt the need to complain about there being “of late divers blackmoores brought into this realme, of which kinde of people there are already here to manie”. Even when their numbers peaked in 1770, it is estimated that there were only 14,000 black people, or 0.2 per cent of the population. In the first decades of the 20th century, the entire nonwhite population of Britain may not have greatly exceeded 10,000.

As for asylum-seekers, they hardly swamped England. About 50,000 French Huguenots fleeing Louis XIV’s crackdown on Protestantism settled and formed a distinct community in East London. However, they were only about 0.7 per cent of the population in 1700. A similar influx did not follow until the end of the 19th century when about 120,000 Jews fled Tsarist persecution. About 70,000 sought refuge from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Again, this represented a fraction of 1 per cent of the national population.

In between, there had been a big mid-19th-century flow of Irish to the mainland, but this was a population shift within the UK. There were also modest increases in the number of Europeans seeking work here. But the proportion of German and Italian-born residents in Britain in 1911 still comprised less than 0.2 per cent of the population.

Eastern European migrants filled skill shortages after the Second World War and “mass” Commonwealth immigration took hold in the 1950s. But even these changes are dwarfed by the inflow of the past decade, with official net immigration running at about 300,000 a year. In historical terms, it is quite an experiment.

I'm sure this will turn out to be Blair's great legacy, although he only accelerated an existing trend.

Compare And Contrast

Three years probation for a series of sexual assaults.

A £500 fine for slapping in the face and racially abusing a man who had damaged her car in an unprovoked attack.

(thanks to anon in the comments)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Two Stories

White people living in the UK's second biggest city are likely to find themselves in a minority in 20 years' time, according to researchers. A team of demographers from Manchester University has claimed that the number of white people living in Birmingham will be overtaken by the number of those with other ethnic origins by 2027. The news came as it emerged that 35 towns and cities in Britain have at least one ward which is "minority white". And experts have already forecast that Leicester could become the first city in which white people are a minority in four years' time.

The work is that of one Dr Steven 'Ludi' Simpson, so it comes with obligatory 'nothing to do with immigration' spin. For which see here.

Whites are now in the minority in one third of America's most populous counties and, overall, outnumbered in nearly one in 10 of the nation's 3,141 counties, according to new analysis of census data. The shift reflects the increasing diversity of the US, the result of immigration particularly from Central and South America and the higher birth rate among blacks and Hispanics.

The one thing I'm a little leery of is Dr Simpson's use of 'whites'. Given the million-odd Eastern Europeans in the UK, that particular category won't tell us how quickly the Native Brits are being replaced.

The Usual Suspects

Howard League, NAPO, Pauline Campbell and some new pro-criminal bunch called SmartJustice write to the Guardian to say 'don't lock them up'.

Unemployment Claimants By Constituency

Here (pdf).

Top of the list for Jobseekers Allowance is Clare Short's Ladywood, with 24.5% of males and 10% of females claiming. Of the top 25, all are Labour except for one Sinn Fein and one Respect.

The bottom 25 are all Tory or Lib Dem, with Lib Dem Gordon and West Aberdeenshire having the lowest percentage of claimants.

Now if only I could find the equivalent for incapacity benefit, that Glasgow and Liverpool could take their rightful places !


From the Normblog profile of writer Elizabeth Baines :

Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > No way.

What do you consider the most important personal quality? > The ability to see others' points of view.

Underclass News

You can take a rabbit from the children's section of a zoo, feed it to an alligator to amuse your mates, and avoid jail.

I'm not sure Damien French will find that pulling off a woman's hijab is seen as leniently. His defence counsel seems worried :

Mr Treadwell claimed the hijab did not actually come off, the victim was caused no injuries and it was clearly more of a mark of disrespect than an attempt to cause injuries. But, he said, it was clearly an assault. He said he wished to correct any impression that French, who he said had learning difficulties, did not accept what he had done was wrong. Mr Treadwell said the pre-sentence report suggestion of a residence condition at a hostel to follow various courses, including an enhanced thinking skills course, was not a soft option.

I'm sure an enhanced thinking skills course is just what he needs.

Meanwhile, back in our soi-disant capital, the stabbings continue and more poor vulnerable children face jail.

One rocks the size of a cricket ball struck Mr Norton on the head, causing him to collapse and suffer a heart attack. He never regained consciousness. Mr Norton had undergone a triple heart by-pass 30 years ago but the stress and trauma of the attack made him vulnerable. When Mr Norton collapsed, the group ran off boasting to each other that they had got him.

After deliberating for three days an Old Bailey jury of six men and six women found the five, now aged 12, 13 and three aged 14, who cannot be named for legal reasons, guilty of manslaughter and violent disorder on February 26 last year. As the verdicts were read out, the five and their parents, broke down and sobbed.

Full of remorse, eh ?

During the 20-day trial lawyers and Judge Warwick McKinnon were unrobed and without wigs because of the ages of the five. However Judge McKinnon had to order that the children be accompanied at all times during the trial as they had been seen horseplaying around the court building, two had hung out of windows, and staff feared they might get up to more mischief. Indeed as they awaited for the jury to return with their verdicts they were seen play wrestling outside court.

UPDATE - the Mail has more on the perpetrators.

Death Valleys

During the 1960s the cultural revolution removed the moral foundations, but it was not until the economic scaffolding was taken down during the 1980s that the house actually collapsed. (During the 1920s and 30s the economic scaffolding had also been removed, but the moral foundation remained). Places like the mining villages of Yorkshire, the South Wales Valleys, or the heavy industrial areas of the North East, went from tight-knit, self-reliant communities to smack-ridden disaster zones in a generation. - this blog, February 2005.

People in former coalfields are nearly twice as likely to take heroin than elsewhere in Wales, research has shown. The study reveals 2.8 people per thousand in the valleys had asked for treatment for heroin use compared with 1.5 per thousand in the rest of Wales.

Plaid AM Leanne Wood, who commissioned the research, wants a review of problem drug and alcohol users' services. Ministers said spending on substance misuse had risen by 660% in five years and a new strategy was being developed. But Ms Wood, a former probation officer, warned that existing services were "not dealing with this worsening problem".
- BBC News, August 2007.

BBC Stealth edits

This story on Malaysia's 50th independence anniversary has been edited, after the original was a bit too Jim Muir.

Revisionista shows the changes :

Revision 1 :

Racial divide

The celebrations come amid concern over rising social tensions in Malaysia. Half a century of stability and development has transformed a poor disjointed nation into an economic success story, the BBC's Asia correspondent, Andrew Harding, says.

But this anniversary has prompted some soul-searching about Malaysia's widening racial and religious divide, he adds.

Islam has taken a more conservative and assertive form, with Sharia courts challenging the country's secular constitution.

The large Indian and Chinese minorities are becoming increasingly angry about a much-abused quota system that restricts their access to education and jobs.
With elections coming and political parties polarised along ethnic lines, the country is struggling to cling on to its image as Asia's tolerant melting pot, our correspondent adds.

Revision 2

Dramatic Changes

The BBC's Asia correspondent, Andrew Harding, says Malaysia has changed dramatically since 1957.

Political stability and years of ambitious development have transformed the economy.

There are concerns that Malaysia's authoritarian brand of democracy is being challenged by an increasingly conservative form of Islam, with Sharia courts overriding the country's secular constitution, he says.

But the general mood in Malaysia seems to be one of optimism as this nation reflects on half-a-century of upheavals and progress, our correspondent adds.

Now it's quite likely that Andrew Harding said both those things. It's all in the presentation. I wonder who took the decision to 'accentuate the positive' and why ?

(via Biased BBC)

Stopped Clock Tells Correct Time

Old lefty luvvie Ken Loach on the Today programme (18 minutes in - RealAudio), discussing immigrant labour :

"it isn't something peripheral to our economy, it's at the very centre ... well in fact because the cheap labour of immigrants ... is central to Brown's control of inflation, because it depends on that cheap labour"

Now Ken's concerns are for the poor exploited migrants, not for the natives whose pay they undercut. But there's nowt wrong with that analysis.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Tell It Like It Is

Have the Tories changed? No, not really. Their party used to be a dazzlingly effective means to putting posh boys into positions of power and influence, entirely regardless of their views, if any. It is now a laughably ineffective means to that same end. But that's all. The real change has been in Labour.

Labour used to believe in social democracy. It did so precisely because it had profoundly conservative social and moral values, not least a strong British (and therefore also Commonwealth) patriotism focused on the institution binding together each and both of the Union and the Commonwealth. All of this was, and remains, mainstream opinion in Scotland, Wales, the North, the Midlands, and the decidedly less chi-chi parts of the South. In some such constituencies, turnout last time was cas low as one in three.

So there is a huge gap to be filled by the restored party of those Labour MPs who defended the grammar schools as the ladder of working-class advancement. By a party tough on crime because most victims are poor.

By the party of the Attlee Government, which dismissed the European Coal and Steel Community as "the blueprint for a federal state", which "the Durham miners would never wear". Of Hugh Gaitskell calling the Common Market "the end of a thousand years of history" and a threat to the unity of the Commonwealth.

By the party of ardently Unionist Labour MPs from Scotland, Wales, and their adjacent areas. Of Roy Hattersely sending British troops into Northern Ireland in order to defend the grateful Catholics there precisely as British subjects defined by their liberties under the Crown (whereas citizens are defined by their obligations to the State and to the government of the day). Of Roy Mason running Northern Ireland as an integral part of the United Kingdom, with terrorism treated as a plain and simple security problem. Of Harold Wilson guaranteeing the Anguillan people's right to be British, explicitly outside the American hegemony that had wanted to re-create there the brothels and drug dens of old Havana.

By the party of those Labour MPs (mostly Methodists) who resisted relaxation of the laws on drinking and gambling. Of those (mostly Catholics) who fought against abortion and easier divorce. Of those who voted in favour only after warning against exactly what has come to pass: abortion more common than having a tooth pulled, and one in three marriages ending in divorce.

That was the party in favour of the Welfare State, workers' rights, progressive taxation, and full employment. It dissuaded Truman from dropping an atom bomb on Korea, and it refused to send British forces to Vietnam. It opposed the Soviet Union and wider Stalinism on the same grounds, and with the same ferocity, as it opposed Fascism in the Iberian world and elsewhere, as well as apartheid South Africa and its Rhodesian satellite. It won elections on enormous turnouts and in the face of serious opposition.

Britain is crying out for just such a party today. So let's get on and build it.

Never heard of David Lindsay, but his contribution to one of Mad Dog Milne's CiF threads is interesting. I wonder how he gets on at Labour branch meetings with ideas like these ?

Your Isolated Incidents Tonight

Newcastle attempted abduction : Det Sgt Steve Flook said: “This is an isolated incident and we are appealing for help from the public to identify the occupants of the van. The two girls were very sensible and did the right thing in running off and calling for help.”

Blackbird Leys Estate (see also here), Oxford - serious stabbing : South East Oxford Inspector Phil Standish said British Crime Survey statistics showed crime had dropped by 43 per cent on the estate in the last 12 months. He said: "This is a serious incident, but people do feel safe walking around Blackbird Leys and they do accept that this is an isolated incident."

Potters Bar fatal stabbing of John Redhead : Detective chief superintendent Bob Saunders said: "This is believed to be an isolated incident".

Exeter attempted abduction : DC Read said: "As far as we are aware, this is an isolated incident, but as a precaution, children should let parents know where they are going and when they will be home, and they should stay in groups."

16% of children in "families" where no one works

Chris Dillow has the details and for once seems stuck for an answer.

Another One Bites The Dust

When it's not Lib Dem vote fraud in Lancashire, it's benefit fraud :

A councillor has been told he faces jail after admitting a £3,000 benefit fraud. Shear Brow councillor Arif Waghat of Buncer Lane, Blackburn, admitted two offences of allowing or causing his wife Safia Umerji to make false income support and council tax benefit claims. After the hearing, Waghat resigned from the local Liberal Democrat party of which he was deputy leader. If he was to receive a three-month prison sentence or more at the next hearing, he would be disqualified from standing as a councillor under the council's Code of Conduct.

This is the bit I like :

After the case, leader of the Liberal Democrat group Coun David Foster confirmed Waghat had resigned from their party. When asked if Waghat should remain a councillor he said: "It is his decision. I'm sorry he's had to resign from the group but I respect the integrity he has shown in doing that."

The comments are interesting too. Apparently he worked as a benefits adviser for many years. And the mealy-mouthed response of the Tory, and the condemnation from Labour, are all explained when you look at the balance of power on Blackburn Council.

"A looser interpretation of Scripture"

More American priests opt for spiritual oversight from Africa rather than their own nation. How long before African missionaries are preaching the Word to the heathens of the UK ?

A meeting of primates in Tanzania this year agreed to draw up a “covenant” that would commit Churches to procedures for resolving disputes within the Communion, but the flow of American renegades to Africa has continued. More than 30 congregations have joined the Kenyan Church. Others have found sanctuary with Nigerian, Ugandan and Rwandan bishops. More than 200 of the 7,000 Episcopal congregations in the US have opted out of the covenant.

200 out of 7,000 is about three percent. Not a flood, but still a perceptible number.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Unusual, That

Murderer found in prison

Castle Huntly seems to be the comedy prison par exellence.

Perth Sheriff Court was told Moran, originally from Glasgow, had been allowed out for a festive visit by the prison authorities and had gone out drinking at Christmas 2004. The prison authorities heard he had been consuming alcohol during his home visit and withdrew his licence, asking him to hand himself in to Barlinnie prison in Glasgow.

There's a good chap.

But instead he simply disappeared to the Gloucester area and changed his name to avoid being re-arrested. While he was on the run from his life sentence, Moran carried out a serious indecent assault and was jailed for three years in Gloucester.

The report on Castle Huntly says that they attempt to "prepare prisoners to go back into the community which means they are less likely to return to criminal behaviour."

Shouldn't they remove the words "to criminal behaviour" ? That would be more accurate.

It continues "While prison work sheds and work parties were until recently particularly productive, most of these activities have now foundered. Meanwhile levels of recreational drug misuse remain unacceptably high."

So they're not doing anything except drugs, eh ? Not surprising, really. It was at Castle Huntly that Ian McLaughlan ran his drug operations from his cell, and it was Castle Huntly that Alan Wright would leave at night to commit burglary and car theft - to pay his drug debts.

Nursery Crimes

Geraldine Rama was struck off the childcare register for biting a baby boy in her care. Rama, from Hammersmith in West London, began looking after ten-month-old Michael Omisore in 2003 after meeting his parents Abiodun and Yvonne through their local church.

The couple first suspected she was mistreating their son when Mrs Omisore spotted a red mark on Michael while bathing him. Tests showed he had been bitten with "considerable force" and that both his legs were broken.

Unfortunately for the couple, social workers assumed they had hurt their son and Michael was put on the "at risk" register for three months. The Omisores' ordeal only ended when a judge gave Rama a six-month suspended prison sentence after she admitted assault.

The Guardian reports :

Children ordered to remain silent for long periods also generated gave rise to complaint, as did childminders using racially-abusive language and displaying aggressive behaviour towards children. In one case, a member of staff attempted to take a child home, without the parent's consent.

And the Times finds a possible new group to blame for child shootings :

Inspectors also found that some staff were effectively letting children run wild by failing to control their behaviour, enforce rules or teach them right from wrong.

The Mad Mahdi thread generated some useful input from a poster named questionnaire, who seems to be either an academic sociologist or a criminologist. He's one of the authors of this book, and he's full of facts and theories, much of it apparently derived from face-to-face interviews with bad boys. Like some others, he's pretty spot-on when it comes to dissecting the symptoms, perhaps less so with the diagnosis and cures. He has a pretty high opinion of himself, too. Perhaps we'll be reading him in the Guardian rather than the comments one day.

Take it away, question !

"law and order, family, religion, nation ... These were the only methods of containing western culture within reasonable bounds."

Rubbish, apart from family as an effective socialisation mechanism.

Read Norbert Elias's 'The Civilizing Process', or Jon Fletcher's 'Violence and Civilization', which is based on Elias's work.

There are three main conditions on which the European civilizing process rested:

1) the maintenance of long chains of interdependencies in society and economy

2) the monopolisation of violence by a legitimate state

3) the maintenance of behavioural codes (best transmitted by families and communities)

If you think for a moment about which forces have eroded those three main conditions, you will realise how stupid the right-wing argument actually is.

Followed by

Did you catch my recent post outlining the incontrovertible evidence that stable social democracies have much lower murder rates, combined with lower imprisonment rates, than free-market neo-liberal societies?

Here's a little excerpt for you:

"In some of the roughest areas of Britain (see Prof. Danny Dorling's article 'Prime Suspect', part of a larger report here: ) the murder rate is 6 times higher than the national average of about 1.5....Some of the USA's roughest areas are still returning murder rates of over 20 per 100,000, down from the mind-boggling rate of over 40 per 100,000 in the early 1990s, but achieved only by putting about 2,200,000 in jail (a rise from 200,000 in 1970), a rate of almost 700 per 100,000 or about 0.7% of the population, and 7,000,000 on correctional supervision - in total about 3% of the population (working from memory here, figures a couple of years out of date, but they haven't changed that much)...Moving over to Western Europe, the very roughest areas still return murder rates of less than 4 per 100,000, with national averages of between 0.9 and 1.5 per 100,000 - with the strange exception of Finland at over 2.5, which needs an explanation. This is achieved alongside relatively tiny imprisonment rates, on average about 100 per 100,000, seven times lower than the US rate...Murder and imprisonment rates for Eastern Europe are higher; they shot up in the abrupt transition to a free-market economy, which wrecked many formerly stable (if relatively poor and repressed!) local socio-economic systems...Despite the recent spate of shooting, the British murder rate still remains lower than the US rate; 1.5 compared to 5.9, and about 3 times lower on average and about 4 times lower in troubled locales. The upshot is that the USA cannot reduce its murder rates to anywhere near the levels of Britain or Western Europe DESPITE putting proportionately 7 times more people in jail; it's also with noting that over 70% of the influx of prisoners into US jails since 2001 have been convicted of violent offences, so we should really say putting 7 times more of its VIOLENT people in jail."

Laban puts his oar in :

Questionnaire : "heavy taxation of the global financial industry, the shift of funds from finance capital into production capital, large-scale nationalisation, full, secure and compulsory employment, the return of the family wage so someone can look after the kids, an absolute ban on advertising for kids under 16, strict control of broadcasting, the removal of the worst offenders from the community into long-term jail or secure rehabilitation centres, improved policing and massive effort into early-years education."

I didn't know you were a BNP supporter - that sounds pretty much like their manifesto to me. Don't forget those extra prison places for the 100,000 habitual offenders who commit half of all crime a/c/t the Home Office. Say 50,000 are banged up at any time - we'll still need another 50,000 or so. Get building.

"There are three main conditions on which the European civilizing process rested:

1) the maintenance of long chains of interdependencies in society and economy

2) the monopolisation of violence by a legitimate state

3) the maintenance of behavioural codes (best transmitted by families and communities)"

Wow ! Question, we agree on something !

OK, who blew it ? I think that's where we'll disagree.

1) welfare blew the dependency between working and eating, and destroyed the working class culture of pride in the job and the 'good grafter'. Look at the difference between the heroes of 'Trainspotting' and Sillitoe's Arthur Seaton - ur-chav but still with pride in his skill.

2) Madeleine Bunting and questionnaire types (enemy #1 Roy Jenkins) destroyed the link between crime and punishment - liberating (unpunished) private violence for private ends. As we see now. The state is no longer 'the nutter of last resort', the organisation you REALLY don't want to cross. Other forces have taken over that function - like the Crocky Crew and Nogz Dogs. BTW, the state never had a monopoly of violence - it was used for public ends and as a means of enforcing social norms by many people. The big change is the rise in private violence for private ends.

3) behavioural codes. Sixties counterculture. Rise of the Guardianistas and decline of Christianity. Normalising of bastardy, "the family is changing, not declining". Social workers who no longer discriminate between deserving and undeserving poor.

Questionnaire :

"OK, who blew it ? I think that's where we'll disagree."

No doubt about it.

"1) welfare blew the dependency between working and eating, and destroyed the working class culture of pride in the job and the 'good grafter'. Look at the difference between the heroes of 'Trainspotting' and Sillitoe's Arthur Seaton - ur-chav but still with pride in his skill."

This is just simple-minded. The welfare system evolved as a means of solving real problems that became apparemt when the dreadful condition of the industrial working class was revealed during the Boer War fiasco. Most of the British soldiers - many recruited from the 'casual poor' - were too weak and ill to carry their packs and rifles more than a few miles. It also evolved as a means of preventing serious poverty, strikes, riots and potential revolution.

What blew the relationship between work and reward was the expansion of the parasite class in business and entertainment, as Thorstein Veblen said at the turn of the 20th century, the new barbarian 'leisure class'. Dodgy trading is the way to make easy money, much better than hard graft. Your problem is that you know nothing about criminals. I was brought up in a rough area AND I've done the research. Most criminals hate welfare dependent people - they call them 'Aldi-bashers', 'skip-rats' and other disparaging names. Criminals model themselves on businessmen; most of them remain on benefit only so they have a source of income to declare.

"2) Madeleine Bunting and questionnaire types (enemy #1 Roy Jenkins) destroyed the link between crime and punishment - liberating (unpunished) private violence for private ends. As we see now. The state is no longer 'the nutter of last resort', the organisation you REALLY don't want to cross. Other forces have taken over that function - like the Crocky Crew and Nogz Dogs."

First I'm a BNP supporter and now I'm a liberal-left softie. Your problem here is that you can only think in stereotypes. At your worst you remind me of that idiot Keith Joseph.

The return of privatised violence in the 1980s - reduced to very low levels by the 1950s - took the state by surprise. At the same time, it was disempowered by cut-backs and discredited by the diffusion of libertarian state-hating ideology from the Right. Again, I have researched this. My team and I have reams of qualitative data from criminals: they HATE the state.

Here's a little preview from our forthcoming book:

'Look, it takes a certain type of stupid c*nt to work for the council and other socialist sh*te like that. I think that those c*nts should be f*cking sacked and the f*cking commies who employ them should be f*cking shot. And the same goes for that f*cking University across the road. I'm not one of those stupid c*nts, I'm a successful businessman, and I make my own way in life. If any of the useless c*nts I employ complains about anything, they can f*ck right off, they're two-a-penny'. (30 year old self-employed mobile carpet cleaner, who turned to crime when his business collapsed after three months)

Most criminals are arch-Thatcherites.

"BTW, the state never had a monopoly of violence - it was used for public ends and as a means of enforcing social norms by many people. The big change is the rise in private violence for private ends."

Technically, it did. You're right about the rise of private violence, but think why - what is the real source of the 'privatised' mentality?

3) behavioural codes. Sixties counterculture. Rise of the Guardianistas and decline of Christianity. Normalising of bastardy, "the family is changing, not declining". Social workers who no longer discriminate between deserving and undeserving poor.

I agree about the counterculture - but it was not a product of the liberal-left, it was a product of the marketing industry and the libertarian-right. It produced people like Abbie Hoffman and Felix Dennis, little Thatcherite entrepreneurs in tie-died T-shirts, and libertarian hedonists like PJ O'Rourke. Read Tom Frank's 'The Conquest of Cool'.

Crime rates were very high before 1850, when Christianity was still a major institution in civil society. I agree about the family, but what really tore it apart was the decline of the family wage - it remained strong before the 1980s alongside the welfare state.

And to another poster

"When is your book being published? I shall most certainly buy it."

I warn you, though, when you find out how superior qualitative data actually is in explaining social phenomena you will become hooked for life. You will renounce the scientific method and parade up and down your local high street with a banner proclaiming yourself as a former Gradgrind who has seen the light and converted to the art of verstehen, and you will become an addict haunting the internet bookstores, craving ethnographies, getting into debt to ethnography-dealing gangs, attending rehabilitation clinics and driving yourself to bankruptcy. Honestly. So be careful.

"Since you seem to have researched this subject in some depth I really would be interested to know how crime breaks down in ethnic communities and if you have any ideas as why the figures - if they exist - should be as they are. Would I be right in thinking that crime is particularly low in Hindu, Buddhist and probably Muslim communities? If so, why?"

Try the very good work of black American sociologists Carl Rainwater and William Julius Wilson. There are a number of issues here, but perhaps most importantly these:

1) Crime is comparatively low in these communities, but in the West each generation of Hindu and Muslims (I don't know much about Buddhists) see slightly more youngsters involved in crime and gangs. We must not forget that the Asian immigrants were mainly middle-class, and they did well in trade, business and the professions. The Afro-Caribbean immigrants were largely working class, and therefore reliant on industrial and service sector jobs.

2) Asian cultures tend to have a good patriarchy/matriarchy balance in the domestic sphere as far as influence on children goes. African-American and Afro-Caribbean cultures tend to be intensely patriarchal, and male children are very reliant on the father for a role model and a transmitter of the behavioural codes that keep male violence in check: it's very much a 'wait till your father gets home' culture. The decline of blue-collar work and the family wage hit this culture especially hard, causing a lot of family breakdown, absentee fathers and the loss of respect of sons for fathers. This last issue is very important, and our past research has also shown it to be a problem in white English working class cultures. When the father loses work and status, some sons - especially if the relationships are a bit rocky to start with - start to see their fathers as useless losers, or 'mugs'. They lose all respect for them, and the values and behavioural codes cease to be transmitted. Many mothers also lose respect for their husbands, and the male is humiliated and ostracised in his own family, often leaving. The son starts to take on responsibility, usually fails miserably, and resorts to short-cut methods of achieving wealth and status, looking outside to external role models for guidance and inspiration. In run-down estates with active drug-markets the rest is easy to comprehend. The youngster becomes a 'lost soul', outside of the culture's symbolic order and its conscience-building rules and prohibitions. There is nothing quite as dismal and terrifying as a symbolic order in the throes of disintegration. When one becomes an experienced social scientist and sensitive to the existence of these abstract systems of meaning and value, watching one disintegrate becomes something like watching a nearby planet implode.

3) Educated, intellectually capable and skilled individuals and families desert the communities and move elsewhere, leaving them leaderless, rudderless and entirely unrepresented in national culture and politics.

40 Consumer values and the allure of the leisure class flood in through the channels of the mass-media, and individuals start to fantasise about a life of ease outside the community if quick money can be earned.

The criminogenic process is now in train.

It's more complex than that, but it'll do as a starter for 10.

Plenty of fodder to get one's mental teeth into. The appealing thing is that whatever he is, he's not actually a liberal.

"heavy taxation of the global financial industry, the shift of funds from finance capital into production capital, large-scale nationalisation, full, secure and compulsory employment, the return of the family wage so someone can look after the kids, an absolute ban on advertising for kids under 16, strict control of broadcasting, the removal of the worst offenders from the community into long-term jail or secure rehabilitation centres, improved policing and massive effort into early-years education".

Whatever you call that, "liberal" it ain't. He seems to think manufacturing's better than services.

"The return of the family wage" - now obviously I'm as keen as he is on impregnating women and chaining them back to the sink ;-), but I think he's not quite grasped the dynamics here. The "family wage" didn't disappear. But as more women went out to work, and the Thatcher government removed credit controls, house prices became linked to two wages rather than one, pricing single-earner families out of the market. The second earner needed another car, too.

Anfd why did more women go out to work ? Two answers (there are more than two factors, I know) - because it was no longer seen as deviant behaviour to hand your small children to paid strangers, and because employers found that women were ideally suited to the new administrative and service jobs - and made much more compliant, less stroppy employees than men. So the jobs were there.

And why wasn't it seen as deviant behaviour any more ? And why did employers employ women with young children, when twenty years previously women were often expected to leave work on marriage ?

Now we're down to our old friend culture again. IMHO the culture is not created by the economic structures (in this case the rise of the service sector) although it may be influenced by it. In Victorian times women would have made just as good service sector employees - but it was Bob Cratchit in the office, and Mrs C caring for wee Tim, because that was what culture dictated.

I digress from the "family wage". If some evil patriarchal fairy could wave his phallic wand and sack all working mothers, thus making house prices dependent on a single rather than joint wage, house prices might suddenly become affordable for a single earner again - on a 'family wage'.

But that isn't going to happen. So quite what he means by 'the return of the family wage' I know not. If low-income families wages are increased (say via the shambolic tax credits system) there'll just be more cash chasing the same number of houses and prices will rise.

"large-scale nationalisation, full, secure and compulsory employment"

OK, lets forget about nationalisation for the nonce - what happens to the underclass youth or adult who doesn't want "compulsory employment" ? If the answer is "If you don't work you die" he may be on to something.

"an absolute ban on advertising for kids under 16"

No problem with that whatsoever.

"strict control of broadcasting"

I think the BNP are also keen on that one, as well as the family wage and the return of manufacturing. Obviously they may have a different view of what 'strict control' implies to question's.

"the removal of the worst offenders from the community into long-term jail or secure rehabilitation centres"

Yes please - but, as I pointed out, we'll need an extra 50,000 prison places to deal with the half of the 100,000 habitual offenders who are out at any one time. He disagreed :

We wouldn't need an extra 50,000 places. Over 70% of those currently banged up have minor mental health problems, the victims of Thatcherite cuts in the 1980s. These people should be in top-quality, small-scale mental health units - that's where the building will take place.

I certainly agree that closing all the loony bins in the eighties was a bad idea, although I believe that most 'mental health problems' are simply labels we attach to deviant or disapproved behaviour. Probably 95%+ of 'mental health' candidates in prison would pass the McNaughten test of being able to tell right from wrong. However, if they're off the streets, banged up in so-called "mental health units", pretending to be ill while the medics pretend to cure them, that's OK with me.

"improved policing" : carry on, you're doing a grand job. Nowt to argue with there, except to hope that by 'improved' you mean a return to Peel's Principles of policing.

"and massive effort into early-years education"

Timed that one well, didn't you ?

The Government's early years education overhaul, which has cost taxpayers more than £21 billion since 1997, has failed to improve development levels of children entering primary school, research published today shows. The results of the research led the Tories to accuse the Government of introducing initiatives "that have not been properly tested". A six-year study of 35,000 children by academics at Durham University found that children's development and skills as they enter primary school are no different than they were in 2000.

I fail to see why question's bothered about a family wage if the State can educate and socialise a child (whic of course it can't). The massive effort has to be made by families socialising and passing on morality to their own kids. How that's to be achieved takes more space than I've got here. But you can start by establishing a simple rule - if you want less of something, don't subsidise it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Have A Vision of The Future, Chum

It’s not just this though, it’s the way immigrants are driving down wages. Ferdie’s brother is a painter and decorator. The going rate for a painter and decorator these days, so his brother’s boss has informed him, is forty quid a day. It used to be seventy. Ferdie’s brother can’t live on forty quid a day but Polish labourers who are, short-to-mid term, going to sleep three to a room and send the surplus money back home can. From seventy a day to forty a day? We’re going backwards! Ferdie’s prediction is that ten years down the line London is going to be even more of a radically ghettoised shit hole than it is now. After all, the authentic Brits are leaving for Australia and South Africa in droves and the people who are coming in are all waves of cheap labour from the benighted parts of the earth ...

There’s a part of me that feels I have to grant credence to views that, were they coming from a working class white guy I would immediately and violently dismiss. Is that racism on my part, some spurious “authenticity” I’m granting to Ferdie’s voice, that I feel I have the right to deny to others, or is it just the sheer novelty of it ?

Ferdie’s problem may be that he’s simply more working class than he is black, that his identification is much more strongly with his class and his nationality than with his roots and his “ethnicity.” British, working-class, black. In that order.

A conversation on a station platform with a black BNP sympathiser. I really do recommend that you read the whole thing - the blogger's own responses are illuminating too.

(Via BNPAndMe)

Support the Railways Two !

Pub Philosopher has all the latest on the sackings of Robbie Moran and Paul Yarwood, two railway employees who challenged anti-social behaviour.

Snippets ...

From the Mad Mahdi's thread ...

I don't know what planet you live on, Bunting, but it clearly isn't near Earth.

I share a communal garden with three other families, all of whom have young children. It was invaded a few minutes ago by five 12-13 year old thugs. They frightened the children, they tried to wreck their toys and when my neighbour told them to leave they told him to "f*** off", laughed at him and gave him the vs. I came out and shouted at them and told them to get off my property or I was calling the police. They ran off, but I was told by the neighbours:

"You want to be careful about messing with them. Parents are a bad lot, dad of ***** is just out of prison".

You might think this vindicates you. I bloody don't. If you'd seen them wrecking other kids' things and laughing and jeering at the adults who remonstrated with them - they're not deprived (they were all well dressed and carrying toys and gadgets, including a realistic toy gun), what their background has given them is a sense of extra entitlement; the knowledge that because they are feared, and their parents are feared they can do whatever they damn well please. And idiots like you are only making the matter worse.

And if this is what they're like at twelve: what will they be like when they're eighteen or nineteen?

A thought experiment

Suppose that, tomorrow, with immediate effect it were no longer illegal to give a young person who was engaged in an illegal or anti-social act a swift slap or to forcibly eject them from whatever place they were blighting . Think not about the kids who commit really extreme acts of violence or anti-social behaviour, but kids who bully, who vandalise, who trespass and who verbally abuse passers-by - what effect would it have on their behaviour?

So many times where I live in London I've seen kids do awful things: spit at commuters, behave intimidatingly toward women, trespass on private property, shout at and abuse members of the public, steal milk bottles and smash them on people's doorsteps... And when they were remonstrated with, in every case those children (not youths, children of between 10 and 13 years of age), laughed and jeered at the adults who tried to check their behaviour, because they knew that the adults could do nothing.

What if all those kids, stepping out their front doors tomorrow, knew that now the same behaviour would earn them physical chastisement? And that, when they complained, the first question would be: and what did you do to deserve it? And when their behaviour was uncovered, no would no one sympathise, or call the police or complain to a social worker - instead, the child could expect further punishment from all these figures of authority.

What effect do you think that would have on anti-social behaviour in this country?

The 'thought experiment' existed in reality for most of the 20th century. I think KW74 needs to get out of London, like millions of his countrymen.


August 28, 2007 9:58 AM

Every time I leave my house to go somewhere by car or foot I wonder if I will return. Will I get stabbed or shot. I live in Edgware, a nondescript region of NW London, that has become in parts very run down. We used to look at the reports of violence in Brixton and East London and think thankfully we don't live there. Now it has come to our part of town as well.

It will only take a glance in the direction of some of the youths hanging around on the streets to elicit a "What the f*ck are you looking at?"

I wonder, will my daughters get involved in an argument with one or more of these unpleasant individuals who demand respect but refuse to give it to others.

The murder of Rhys like the murder of all the other people by knife or gun wielding youths will not be solved by platitudes or 'social programs'. They are lost to us now and will only be prevented from causing more damage once they are banged up for life. Social engineering whereby estates are 'broken up' and the 'social housing' is provided for new developments will never work. No middle class family is going to want to buy a property near a problem family. The police may catch and society may imprison those who murder for fun or kudos but that won't stop others from doing it. The sense of 'right' and 'wrong' has been lost along with it the hierarchy of respect.

The caretakers who look after the grounds in my mother's block of flats are second generation Caribbean immigrants. They are the most charming, helpful gentle guys you could possibly meet. There's no hint of aggression and they go out of their way to assist the residents. So what has happened to cause some of their grandchildren's generation to descend to such anarchy?

Working in Investment Banking in the city, the office is a melting pot of all colours, religions and races. Admittedly most companies are predominantly white, but not exclusively so. In all cases, the cleaners are black and so are those in catering.

We have deep social problems in this country. The old norms of hierarchical respect that existed died away after WWII as the social upheaval of that event still exists today. Morals and guidance that were provided by religion have by and large been lost because Christianity has largely been abandoned in this country.

Speaking to all in our circle of friends, the main conversation is who can sell up first and move elsewhere, perhaps abroad. If we were in a position to do so then I'd leave tomorrow.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Go Large

Some bits of music get hold and never let go, and I've always been a sucker for slightly over the top vocals.

When I first heard this on the radio in 1976, I dismissed the country guitar, and the lyrics - sexist, crass or what ?

"I must have been through about a million girls
I'd love them and I'd leave them alone"

Macho country boilerplate. I was listening to Vaughan Williams and roots reggae at the time.

But something happened half way through, when the guitar solo kicked in. Vocalist Mickey Thomas (no relation) came on for the second half as if all nine Muses had chucked sugar in his tea, whooping and hollering to transform the song. It wasn't my kind of music at all, but by the third or fourth hearing I was hooked, waiting to hear him give the phrase 'love's got a hold on me' a good shaking.

Ladies and gentlemen, with suitably cheesy video, Mr Elvin Bishop.

Completely different and yet strangely similar, this is just another clever, tasteful bit of Wyclef Jean, complete with Marleyesque vocals - until Mary J Blige comes on to wind the whole thing up into a call-and-response shouting match with no vocal limits. Wonderful. 911.

Little Lamb, Who Threw Thee Onto A Bonfire ?

Some wee Scots scumbag, that's who :

The father of one of the group, who asked to remain anonymous, said a crowd of boys and girls had gathered for a drink and a barbecue and were camping overnight on May 27. But the revellers were suddenly stunned by the actions of one teenager, believed to be a 17-year-old, when he threw the lamb on to the fire.

He said: "It is common knowledge around Cannich and, as far as I have been made aware, people have been giving the boy's mother a real hard time. I think it is terrible a 17-year-old is doing that to animals. What is he going to be like in five years' time? He also hog-tied a baby lamb the next morning and threw it into the River Glass after the girls in the group were getting on to him the night before."

In totally unrelated news : Essays written for GCSE English have this year produced "sickeningly violent" stories, according to examiners who have raised concerns over the standard of English. The title The Assassin, was one of the most frequently used for creative writing coursework, according to the latest examiners' report on GCSE English from the Edexcel board.

Rhys Jones Murder - "We Have Failed His Killer"

The Mad Mahdi (aka Sobbing Abbess) once more attempts to render satire redundant.

Liberal Democrats Call For Illegal Immigrant Amnesty

In the Guardian (where else ?)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Bestwood Riots - Student Grant Speaks

No idea who Indymedia poster 'FTP' is, but he sees the actions of an organised criminal gang (who produced a 'spontaneous' riot when their leaders were banged up) as a hopeful sign of a community rising in solidarity against State oppression - which of course it was !

The Bestwood story was covered here and more answers revealed here.

Recent news reports have revealed an incident of unrest in Nottingham in which people built barricades and fought police - prefiguring the mass revolt which could become more frequent in the face of widespread repression ...

The kinds of societies where this kind of thing happens more often than in Britain - societies like France and Greece for example - generally have far more liberties and less neoliberalism than here. Hence, to create a world worth living in, the state must be forced to "tolerate" this kind of thing more and more often.

Let us hope this kind of unrest from each and every aggrieved group becomes more frequent; the state can only lose, and our rights and welfare can only gain as a result ...

Reading between the lines, it's probably more complicated than the coverage allows - this particular group probably feel singled out, perhaps they were on the receiving end of a moral panic, or perhaps the proof of guilt is dodgy or mitigating circumstances were not recognised. Maybe on some level they see through the justifications for the state itself, and simply view a violence by the state against their own as an attack by an external agent. All this is just speculation however - the voices of the insurgents have been elided from the coverage.

More broadly though, I think insurrections will become more common because people are increasingly prevented from protesting and taking direct action by other means, and large swathes of people are denied a voice in society - so they seize the only voice they can. (This is what I'm referring to as repression). These people are obviously very aggrieved about something, and yet this isn't even being explained really in the media, as to why they're revolting ...

He's right - it wasn't fully explained at the time because Colin Gunn's name was still withheld, as enquiries into his bent police contacts continued.

The problem here is that closed-minded people assume their own ethical preferences to be obvious, and use these pseudo-obvious preferences as a basis for violence against others (such as prison sentences). It is this very closed-minded exclusion of the voice of the other which makes social insurrection inevitable - these bigots are causing the very problems which they then jump up and down in rage about.

If you aren't shocked by the utter irrationality and closed-mindedness of this judge's comments - with his utter incapacity to even conceive of what an ethical relation to the other might involve - then chances are you're similarly trapped in your own conception and similarly complicit in reproducing the necessity of social violence.

I wonder if Blithering Bunny knows the identity of 'FTP'. If he doesn't teach sociology he's obviously been exposed to it, with devastating mental consequences. This chap makes John Hutnyk look like The Dumb One.