Saturday, April 12, 2008

"a very unfortunate incident these boys got caught up in"

Wittshire Gazette

One OF Swindon's Asian community leaders has said that the youths convicted of attacking Henry Webster were good boys who got caught up in a bad situation. The families of most of the teenagers live in the Broadgreen area and attend the Jamia Mosque in Broad Street. Azim Khan, chairman of the Thamesdown Islamic Association, which runs the mosque said he did not think race played a part in the attack, but blamed teenagers getting caught up in gang culture.

"All of the families come to the mosque," said Mr Khan.

"Their families are all devastated that they could get caught up in something like this. They are really upset and don't understand how this happened. Our job now as a community is to make sure it doesn't happen again. They're not bad kids whatsoever. Their families are normal families, they wouldn't harm anybody, they are working families. But at the end of the day kids are kids. I don't think this incident was about those children being Asian, I think it is about children in general not having respect for authorities. When you look at the papers you see stories about kids in gangs up and down the country. There isn't much for them to do. They get together and get into trouble. We always advise the children to be part of the community. Make a name for yourself by being hardworking and a benefit to the community. But there are always exceptions, one or two who get into trouble, but 99 per cent are good. Everyone now is making sure they keep an eye on their children and that they are not hanging around together outside school and sports clubs and things.

In court Wasif Khan said he had been scared to tell the truth because of pressure from the Asian community. He said he gave no comment in his police interview because Amjad Qazi's father was an imam at the mosque.

Mr Khan confirmed Qazi's father had been an imam until two years ago.

"I knew Amjad quite well," he said. "He's a nice boy. I don't understand how he went along with what happened. These children had no intention to take these steps. He was just very unfortunate that they somehow got to go and do this. They all said they had not intention whatsoever to do this sort of thing. It was just bad luck that they got caught up in this unfortunate incident. What they have been saying to me is it is just an unfortunate situation they became a part of. It was just bad luck''.

Mr Khan said despite a large number of Asian youngsters being convicted of taking part in the attack it had not caused any racial tensions.

"I haven't heard anything that makes me think it is dividing the community. The trial is not really something people have been talking about. This was an argument between schoolboys that went wrong. Wrong to the extreme. But this wasn't about race. I believe in living in this country and by the laws of this country. If somebody does wrong then they should be dealt with by the courts and justice system. I don't think people will judge the Asian community by the outcome of this case. Swindon has a very good integrated community. You don't come across any racists. During the police operation they have been very good to keep the community with them to solve any problems. Just after the attack happened there was some talk about it being racially motivated, but I haven't seen any evidence of that and the police don't think it was.

"The BNP have had a few things to say about it, but everyone else seems to have realised it was just a very unfortunate incident these boys got caught up in."

9:16am Wednesday 9th April 2008

So several carloads of Asian people drive from Swindon to horrifically injure a white schoolboy - and the good news is that there aren't many racists in Swindon ! Not white ones anyway.

UPDATE - Henry Webster's mother responds :

THE mother of a 15-year-old boy left with brain damage by an Asian gang is blaming multi-culturalism for the way ethnic minorities get away with violent bullying in schools.

Liz Webster, 43, from Swindon, whose son Henry nearly died in the attack, believes a “culture of timidity” among teachers is stopping them clamping down on ethnic minority bullies because they fear accusations of racism. She also accuses teachers of failing to recognise that ethnic minorities can exhibit racism against whites.

Her son, who was a pupil at Ridgeway comprehensive, near Swindon, was set upon by a 16-strong Asian gang, smashed on the skull by repeated blows from a claw hammer and left for dead. Last week 13 of the gang were convicted of charges relating to the attack.

Before the assault little action appears to have been taken against the gang, despite incidents of persistent aggressive be-haviour. In the immediate aftermath of the assault, neither the school’s headmaster, Steven Colledge, nor any of its 90 teachers visited the Webster family or even sent a get-well card.

After the court verdict last week Webster said: “We are devastated by what has happened and extremely upset and angry not only about the school’s failure to protect Henry, but about their attitude afterwards.”

Webster said she was anxious that teachers should learn how to manage racial integration successfully but added: “If they had once said they were sorry, or asked how he was, it would have made all the difference. It is as if they want to sweep us and everything to do with us, under the carpet. Whatever was going on, Henry had absolutely nothing to do with it. He seems to have been picked on just because he is big and has ginger hair.”

Police had been called to a similar incident involving members of the same gang eight months earlier. A white pupil was left with a broken jaw, but there was no prosecution.

“Everyone seems to think that racism starts with white people,” Webster said. “They can’t seem to get their heads round the fact that racism can come from the other side. I now know a lot more about the disciplinary problems with some of the Asian boys. If they had been white, I think they would have been kicked out.”

One of the defendants claimed there were repeated rumours of racist bullying by whites against Asians at the school. There is no evidence of any build-up of tension, however, before the attack on Henry, in January 2007. It was sparked by a confrontation in a corridor between him and a 14-year-old Asian boy, which led to a challenge to a one-on-one fight after class on the school tennis courts.

When Henry, who had no record of disciplinary problems, arrived at the courts he found three carloads of older teenagers armed with a variety of weapons. They had been summoned by 59 mobile phone calls made in the space of little more than an hour. One caller told them one of the “ gora [whites], a big fat ginger kid, wanted a fight”.

The diminutive 14-year-old boy pointed out Webster to the gang. Webster was cornered, punched and, as he turned to try to escape, knocked down and hit with the hammer. Even after onlookers had heard the crack of his skull fracturing, the other gang members continued to kick and punch him.

In front of at least 250 school-children, the gang yelled: “That’s what you call Paki-bashing,” while punching the air.

During the attack, the schoolboy’s skull was fractured in three places by the hammer. A section about 2in across was smashed into the front of his skull, tearing the lining of his brain.

Wasif Khan, 18, who wielded the hammer on Webster, has been convicted of grievous bodily harm, as have Amjad Qazi, 19, Nazrul Amin, 19, and four schoolboys. On Tuesday the final members of the gang, who styled themselves the Broadgreen Mas-sif after the area of Swindon where they lived, were found guilty of conspiracy for their part in the attack. All 13 will be sentenced later this month.

Nobody has been able to explain adequately the background to the assault. There have been unproven rumours that Asians have been victims of racial bullying in the school. Staff at Ridgeway comprehensive, a foundation school with 1,400 pupils, in the village of Wroughton outside Swindon, last week refused to discuss the issues. A spokesman said there might still be civil litigation.

The Websters are likely to claim £1m compensation for Henry’s injuries, which include permanent brain damage.

Nor has the school explained its treatment of the Webster family after the attack. The headmaster told a governors’ inquiry that gestures such as sending cards or flowers were “not in his nature”. Questioned about an incident in which a pupil had come to school wrapped in a Pakistani flag, he told them it was no different from a Welsh governor wearing a Welsh flag or a daffodil.

Colledge said this weekend: “Henry did come into the school for two lunchtimes a week for a number of weeks after [the attack]. We did our best to facilitate that. Work was provided but there were problems with Henry doing it and there was home tuition provided through the local authority.”

Teachers also declined to get involved when the Websters requested extra vigilance for their younger son, Joe, 12, who was anxious to continue at the Ridgeway with his friends. The younger boy was surrounded by a threatening gang of Bengali-speaking Asians a few weeks after the attack.

Webster believes the school is guilty of discrimination: “After the earlier scuffles the day Henry was attacked, it was Henry who was asked to report to the deputy head, not any of the Asian boys, yet somehow it is racist for me to question why my son was treated differently from them.”

The police have been reluctant to accept any racial element. “We took 797 statements, we have 3,000 pages of documents and there is nothing to indicate racist language or taunts were used in any of the exchanges,” said Detective Sergeant Mark Wilkinson of Wiltshire police, who led the investigation.

Nevertheless, Wilkinson concedes Khan was a “wannabe militant”. He had been involved in two previous violent incidents, though never charged, and carried on his mobile phone a screensaver of the collapse of New York’s twin towers.

The Websters’ solicitor, Mark McGhee, said: “There was a history to all of this which went back two years before the attack on Henry. These boys’ disciplinary records had been appalling and nothing had been done about them. Had the school behaved properly, this attack would never have happened.”

I think the Latin phrase is 'res ipsa loquitur'.

"Foreign nationals now account for almost half of all drink-drive arrests in the city"

The city being Peterborough.

Within minutes two Lithuanians are brought in after police find them allegedly carrying CS spray canisters in their car.

Then an Egyptian arrives. He has been arrested at a factory. He pretends he's a Palestinian in the vain hope to avoid deportation. Officers have seen it all before and deal with him patiently.

The Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Julie Spence recently made headlines when she spoke out about the huge strain mass migration is placing on existing police resources.

This is a city where you can find interpreters earning more than the Chief Constable. One translator dealing with Latvian and Lithuanian prisoners picked-up £150,000 last year - the tab settled by tax payers. Thorpe Wood police station alone spent £500,000 on interpreters last year. Insp Chip Walker tells me: "The problem with different nationalities, for people who don't have English as a first language, is that it slows everything down - while we've got people here we need to get hold of interpreters by telephone or face to face."

In 2003 12% of people arrested in Peterborough were foreign nationals, the force said. Three years later that figure had risen to 20%. Foreign nationals now account for almost half of all drink-drive arrests in the city.

I decide to conduct my own research at Peterborough Magistrates' Court. Of the 95 cases listed on a daily court list, 75 of them involve migrants.

Can't They Find Some Backbone From Somewhere ?

"Women dominate Spanish cabinet"

I Didn't Say He Was All Bad


Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe has called Prime Minister Gordon Brown "a little tiny dot on this world".

I Have A Vision of The Future, Chum

Regular readers will know Charles Murray, American sociologist of the UK underclass - indeed the guy who discovered it back in the 1980s, when in 1989 he wrote The Emerging British Underclass for the Sunday Times. He followed it up with "Underclass +10" ten years later.

Murray also wrote on prisons and was an early advocate of the "Prison Works" policy. But he's put these two strands together and come up with a bleak dystopia, one not terribly far away from those of leftish anti-prison campaigners.

It's a simple thesis, and, as with the underclass, he expects British experience to follow American. The key point, although he does not put it that way, is that the will to stigmatise and condemn bastardy and the single mother (which he sees as the root cause) while also removing child-related benefits, is simply not there. It isn't there in (relatively) God-fearing America, so there's no chance in secular Britain. The underclass will continue to exist and won't get any smaller.

At the same time, Britain will continue to discover what America has discovered - that prison works. The prison population will continue to grow. In America this has been accompanied by the gentrification of the inner cities, and the movement of the underclass poor to "decrepit neighbourhoods on the periphery that need not be on the travel route of the rest of us".

Neighbourhood schooling effectively means that the right postcode shields your kids from underclass kids (some idiots on the left talk about 'the poor' as if most parents give a damn about how much money a kid's got. Some of the nicest kids at my children's school are from poor homes - there are also some little sods from underclass homes which are poor. Can you tell the difference ? All the parents and kids can).

If these American trends, already apparent here, continue, "in 15 years, perhaps less, the underclass/Neet will no longer be a political issue in Britain and urban life for most of you will be more pleasant than it is now. The price will have been a great deal of money spent on prisons and, in effect, the writing-off of a portion of the population as unfit for civil society.

In the United States I have called this the coming of custodial democracy — literally custodial for criminals, figuratively custodial for the neighbourhoods we seal away from the rest of us. Custodial democracy is probably headed your way.

I can see a few objections to this. The sixties and seventies radicals have a good deal more power in the UK than they ever achieved in the US. As we see with Labour's attempts to bash the middle classes over school admissions, keeping your children away from their underclass peers will be a lot tougher in Britain, unless you have enough money. Similarly it's less likely that the underclass will become geographically isolated, as long as councils hold the keys to planning permissions.

There's always the chance of a religious revival, of some latter-day Wesley who will condemn bastardy and restore stigma. Do you see anyone in the Church of England or Catholic Church who fits the bill ? As Peter Hitchens put it :

Much of the problem lies in the consciences of individuals and will not be fixed until and unless a new John Wesley appears, who can find some way of remoralising a population that is at least as demoralised as it was in the 18th century. (One rather alarming possibility is that such a figure will appear, and he will be a Muslim, which should concentrate our minds).

Enough. Here's the whole essay, pinched from this Father's Rights site. Please note that the title is a wry acknowledgement of the trend, not a prescription for action. Murray does not find it an appealing scenario, but it's the way he sees things going.

The Advantages of Social Apartheid

Underclass is an ugly word, and we live in an age that abhors ugly words, so it is good to hear that the Blair government has devised a cheerier label: Neet, an acronym for “not in education, employment or training”.

Once a government has given a problem a name it must develop effective new strategies for dealing with it. That too is in train, The Sunday Times told us last week, replete with urgent cabinet meetings, study groups roaming about the country and even a “Neet target” to reduce the Neet population by 20% by 2010.

You may use whatever euphemism the government adopts, but it’s still the underclass. Its numbers are not going to be reduced by 20% by 2010. Its numbers will increase. The good news is that the rate of increase will probably begin to slow in a few years and in another decade or two Britain will have learnt to manage the problem — meaning you will have learnt how to keep the underclass from getting underfoot, even though its numbers are undiminished.

When The Sunday Times first asked me to look at the British underclass in 1989, the American underclass was about 15 to 20 years ahead of Britain’s. You were tracking the American experience with remarkable fidelity then and you are still tracking it.

From the beginning I have used the simple-minded assumption that Britain 16 years on would look like America did when I was writing, and that’s more or less the way things have worked out. Nothing about the underclass is rocket science. It’s all basic, the kind of thing our grandparents took for granted. It just has to be rephrased to accommodate today’s delicate sensibilities.

Our grandparents thought bastardy was a problem to be avoided at any cost. Today’s translation: children who grow up without being nurtured by two biological parents are at risk. Poverty isn’t the problem. Inadequate educational opportunities aren’t the problem. Social exclusion isn’t the problem.

Throughout history, societies around the world have been poor, with inadequate educational opportunities and with socially excluded people. Those same societies have been remarkably successful at ensuring that almost all children came into the world with two biological parents committed to their care. That’s the difference between societies with small underclasses (for every society has had an underclass) and with large ones.

Children today usually still have a mother with them. The problem is the growing number of children who have no father and who live in areas where hardly anyone has a father. Girls without fathers tend to be emotionally damaged.

Among other things, they tend to search for father substitutes among young males, which in turn increases the likelihood of repeating their mother’s experience. Boys without fathers tend to grow up unsocialised. They tend to have poor impulse control, to be sexual predators, to be unable to get up at the same time every morning and go to a job. They tend to disappear shortly after the baby is born. These are not the complaints of a conservative lamenting the lost good old days. They are social science findings that are as robust and unambiguous as social science findings get.

I use the word “tend” because none of these outcomes is carved in stone for any particular child. But we can’t deny a problem exists because some children of single women do well. Of course, there are many exceptions but the statistical tendencies are pronounced, and tendencies produce a large and problematic underclass.

Our grandparents thought you couldn’t “do” with a youngster who wasn’t brought up right. Today’s translation: social programmes for intervening with children at risk have consistently meagre results. This finding has even longer shelves of analysis than the literature on the children of single parents.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Americans tried everything: pre-school socialisation programmes, enrichment programmes in elementary schools, programmes that provided guaranteed jobs for young people without skills, ones that provided on-the-job training, programmes that sent young people without skills to residential centres for extended skills training and psychological preparation for the world of work, programmes to prevent school dropout, and so on. These are just the efforts aimed at individuals. I won’t even try to list the varieties of programmes that went under the heading of “community development”. They were also the most notorious failures.

We know the programmes didn’t work because all of them were accompanied by evaluations. I was a programme evaluator from 1968 to 1981. The most eminent of America’s experts on programme evaluation — a liberal sociologist named Peter Rossi — distilled this vast experience into what he called the Iron Law of Evaluation: “The expected value of any net impact assessment of any large-scale social programme is zero.” The Iron Law has not been overturned by subsequent experience.

I should add a corollary to it, however: “The initial media accounts of social programmes that ultimately fail are always positive.” Every training programme for young men or parenting programme for young women can produce a heart-warming success story for the evening news. None produces long-term group results that survive scrutiny.

None of this experience crosses the Atlantic. When the Blair government began its ambitious job-training programmes, I wondered whether anyone within the bowels of the appropriate ministries said: “You know, the Americans tried lots of these things years ago. I wonder how they worked?” But apparently nobody did or nobody listened. Now the government seems ready to admit that the results of the training programmes have been dismal. But as it sets off on the next round of bright ideas, I still don’t hear anyone saying: “You know, the Americans tried those programmes too . . .”

The bottom line for this accumulation of experience in America is that it is impossible to make up for parenting deficits through outside interventions. I realise this is still an intellectually unacceptable thing to say in Britain. It used to be intellectually unacceptable in the United States as well. No longer. We’ve been there, done that.

Our grandparents’ most basic taken-for-granted understanding, which today’s intellectual and political elites find it hardest to accept, is this: make it easier to behave irresponsibly and more people will behave irresponsibly. The welfare state makes it easier for men to impregnate women without taking responsibility for them, easier for women to raise a baby without the help of a man and easier for men and women to get by without working. There is no changing that situation without reintroducing penalties for irresponsible behaviour.

This is the sticking point for every political figure in Britain, Labour or Tory. Frank Field has been miles ahead of other politicians in recognising the growing problem of the underclass and in speaking out, but last week even he was saying: “Surely we can say that the traditional family unit is the best way to nurture children without making it a campaign to beat up single mums.” With respect: you cannot. If you want to reduce the number of single mums you have to be ready to say that to bring a child into the world without a father committed to its care is wrong.

The government need not sponsor publicity campaigns to beat up single mums. Put the cost of irresponsible behaviour back where it belongs — on the man and the woman, their families and their community — and the recognition that the behaviour is wrong will revive instantly, along with powerful social pressures to make sure it happens as seldom as possible.

Some of those pressures will be positive, celebrating marriage as a uniquely valuable institution and bestowing social approval on the bride and groom. Some of those pressures will be negative, consisting of various forms of stigma. This is good. Stigma is one of society’s most efficient methods for controlling destructive behaviour.

How can the government realise this desirable state of affairs? By ending all government programmes that subsidise having babies. But this moves us into the realm of solutions that haven’t a prayer of becoming reality. They haven’t in the United States, where the total package of benefits for single mothers has not been diminished despite the hoopla about welfare reform, and there is no reason to think Britain will act any differently in the foreseeable future.

Now for the good news, if you want to call it that. You don’t need to reduce the underclass to reduce the problems the underclass creates for the rest of us. As evidence, I point to a dog that no longer barks. The underclass, the most important domestic policy issue of the 1980s, is no longer even a topic of conversation in the United States.

The American underclass isn’t any smaller. The three indicators of an underclass — the proportion of children born to single women, criminality among young men and young men who have dropped out of the labour force — have all grown or remained steady during the past 15 years. The underclass is no longer an issue because we successfully put it out of sight and out of mind.

Consider the presence of the underclass in American cities. Fifteen or 20 years ago, the homeless, panhandlers and street hustlers were everywhere. Today they are virtually gone in most cities (San Francisco remains the exception). Graffiti used to be everywhere in American cities. Today it is rare in the better parts of town. You have no idea how depressing graffiti is until you’ve lived without it and then encounter it again, as you do in cities throughout Europe.

The social segregation of the underclass has been nearly perfected. We have not learnt how to compensate for the parenting deficits that cripple the lives of children of the underclass, but we have learnt how to avoid dealing with the consequences.

American children of the middle and upper classes no longer go to school with the children of the underclass. For a number of years, progressive American educators managed to dilute the old principle that a school drew only from a restricted geographic area. That principle has been reinstated so parents can be sure that if they move to the right neighbourhood their children won’t have large numbers of disruptive, foul-mouthed, sexually precocious and sometimes violent classmates. Middle and upper-class parents who remain within large cities commonly send their children to private schools.

Increased geographic segregation of the underclass has facilitated social segregation. In many large cities, urban renovation has reclaimed deteriorating downtown areas for glitzy shops and gleaming offices. Gentrification has retrieved much of the urban housing stock that had fallen into disrepair. The “inner city” is seldom literally located in the inner city but in decrepit neighbourhoods on the periphery that need not be on the travel route of the rest of us.

Most importantly, America has dealt with its crime problem. The crime rate has dropped by about one-third since the early 1990s. It has dropped even more in the better parts of town. People walk the streets of New York and Chicago without taking the precautions they used to take. Triple-locked doors and bars on the windows are not as necessary as they used to be. People feel safer and are safer.

We didn’t solve the crime problem by learning how to get tough on the causes of crime nor by rehabilitating criminals. We just took them off the streets. As of 2005, more than 2m Americans are incarcerated. That number is inefficiently large — it includes many minor drug offenders — but it responds to the question “Does prison work?”.

If you are willing to pay the price — a price that would amount to a British prison population of roughly 250,000 if your sentencing followed the American model — you can reduce crime dramatically.

All of these are policies that the British political establishment may come to accept in another decade or so. If London were to get a mayor who decided to take the homeless off the streets, scrub away the graffiti and adopt a zero-tolerance policing policy, I suspect he would find the same surge in popularity that Rudy Giuliani experienced in New York.

British parents are increasingly vocal about their dissatisfaction with schools, and especially with their spinelessness in dealing with disruptive children. In every area of life that the underclass affects, the public mood is shifting towards support of the American solution. Politicians who covet votes will come around eventually.

Hence my prediction that in 15 years, perhaps less, the underclass/Neet will no longer be a political issue in Britain and urban life for most of you will be more pleasant than it is now. The price will have been a great deal of money spent on prisons and, in effect, the writing-off of a portion of the population as unfit for civil society.

In the United States I have called this the coming of custodial democracy — literally custodial for criminals, figuratively custodial for the neighbourhoods we seal away from the rest of us. Custodial democracy is probably headed your way.

It is not a happy solution. On the contrary, it means abandoning a central tenet of a free society — that everyone can exercise equal responsibility for his or her own life. But Britain, like the United States and western Europe, is locked into a welfare state that by its nature generates large numbers of feckless people. If we are unwilling to prevent an underclass by giving responsibility for behaviour back to individuals, their families, and communities, custodial democracy is the only option left.

Charles Murray is best known for Losing Ground, his 1984 book about welfare reform, and for The Bell Curve of 1994

More Historic Feasts of the Church

Remember Refugee Sunday ?

"Shrive me now, Lord Bishop, I must away to Mass. Wit ye not 'tis Refugee Sunday ?"

via (where else ?) Ekklesia.

Autism Sunday

Churches of all denominations across Britain and Ireland are being urged to mark Autism Sunday and the International Day of Prayer for Autism and Asperger's Syndrome on Sunday 10 February 2008.

Education Sunday

Back To Church Sunday

Peace Sunday

Evolution Sunday

Not For Sale Sunday

National Youth Sunday

Politics Sunday

Animal Welfare Sunday

Homelessness Sunday and Poverty Action Sunday

Prisoners' Sunday

Racial Justice Sunday

Judges 3, Politicians 0 (again)

Another day, another few Government strategies overturned by the courts.

Thousands of failed asylum-seekers won the right to free healthcare yesterday, when the High Court ruled that restrictions on NHS treatment were unlawful. The court victory by a Palestinian, known only as A, was the latest of several judicial rulings against Government policies this week.

Regulations barring failed asylum-seekers from receiving free NHS treatment while they wait to be sent home were declared unlawful by Mr Justice Mitting. He said that guidance advising NHS trusts to charge unsuccessful asylum applicants for treatment did not apply when the person would otherwise be treated as “ordinarily resident” in the UK. The ruling affects an estimated 11,000 failed asylum-seekers whose return home has been delayed.

The Palestinian who brought the case is suffering from chronic liver disease but his return home has been held up because of the situation in the West Bank and problems with his documentation. He brought the case against the West Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust, seeking to challenge their refusal to provide him with care. The trust is now providing care and the claimant is being supported financially by the Home Office pending his return home. Mr Justice Mitting granted the Department of Health, which had fought the case, permission to appeal against the ruling. Adam Hundt, the man’s solicitor, said: “ He has never broken the law and the Home Office recognises that it has to provide him with accommodation so as not to breach his human rights.

“It seems perverse that housing is considered a basic human right and that healthcare is not.”

He's right. It does seem perverse that they're given anything short of a minimum. But given that they're not allowed to work, the taxpayer has to pay, and they should not be treated inhumanely. The Afghan hijackers got asylum, which makes you wonder how anyone could be turned down. But some are, it takes years to deport them, and meanwhile we stump up for food, clothing, housing, education and healthcare.

Families of British troops killed in war zones because of faulty equipment may be able to sue the Government for a breach of human rights after a landmark High Court ruling yesterday. The court set out new grounds for legal action by stating that the Army’s duty to protect soldiers could extend to patrols outside a military base and even to a battlefield. After the judgment, some relatives of soldiers killed in Iraq — and who blame the Ministry of Defence for inadequate equipment, training or care — said they would consider bringing a group legal action.

Mr Justice Collins, in a judgment on the conduct of inquests into the deaths of service personnel, said that members of the Armed Forces serving abroad could not receive absolute protection. But he ruled that the MoD had an obligation to avoid or minimise risks to the lives of its troops, wherever they were serving, under Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which safeguards the right to life.

The MoD reacted with alarm, as defence sources privately said that it raised questions over whether troops could ever be sent on operations since their protection could never be guaranteed in theatres of war.

No one, unless it be the estimable EU Referendum (IMHO the best, most serious politics blog of them all), is a greater critic of the poor kit we give our soldiers than I am. But this judgement appears to signal the end of Britain's armed forces. Doubtless some fudge will be arranged and another administrative burden added to the armed forces.

"We're going in tonight"

"Just a moment. Have you completed the risk assessment ?"

The High Court has ruled that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) acted unlawfully by dropping a corruption inquiry into a £43bn Saudi arms deal. In a hard-hitting ruling, two High Court judges described the SFO's decision as an "outrage".

Defence firm BAE was accused of making illegal payments to Saudi officials to secure contracts, but the firm maintains that it acted lawfully. The SFO said national security would have been undermined by the inquiry.

The legal challenge had been made by Corner House and the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

While I can see the appeal to our rulers of making British law applicable throughout the world (last time we tried it, it was called imperialism), I do think we should start by trying to apply UK law in the UK, an area where it seems particularly toothless, rather than in Saudi Arabia, a low-crime country which has a great deal to teach us.

Some Baby Rabbits on the Curate's Lawn

As Rover went to China, so Jaguar and Land Rover head to India.

The £1.15 billion takeover was worth far more than the money paid. The acquisition of Jaguar – a symbol of British style and engineering superiority, albeit until last week owned by Americans – was a moment of national triumph almost matching India’s victory in last year’s Twenty20 Cricket World Cup.

Tata has been buying British since 2000 when it purchased Tetley, which had been selling Indian tea to the UK since 1856. Last year it completed the £6.2 billion takeover of Corus, the British steel giant, in the biggest foreign takeover by an Indian company. Its purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover was smaller in scale but greater in symbolism. The Indians had bought the makers of James Bond’s new wheels, Inspector Morse’s classic and the workhorse of the British Army for a song. “It took a company from a former colony to come to the rescue of a beleaguered British brand,” said The Times of India with undisguised pride.

Tata is not the only Indian firm on a buying spree in Britain. In the past year Vijay Mallya, the airlines and breweries magnate, has bought Whyte & Mackay, the Scottish distiller which makes the Dalmore and Isle of Jura single malt whiskies as well as Vladivar vodka. Last week Hichens Harrison, Britain’s oldest independent stockbroker, announced that it was considering a £49m offer from Religare, a Mumbai-based stockbroker which wants to cash in on the Indian rush to buy British companies.

The deep pockets of the reverse colonists is revealed in the bidding for Jaguar. Had Tata not been successful, next in line was Mahindra, its Indian rival.

Britain is beginning to look like a significant outpost in a new Indian empire.

If India is proud, what should Britain feel ?

New Delhi, January 20
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today announced another £825 million aid package for development in India over the next three years. Of the aid, up to £500 million is expected to be spent on health and education.

Brown arrived in India today hailing relations between the two countries as a “partnership of equals” and supported India’s bid for permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council as well as a more prominent role of New Delhi in G-8.

There's not really much to say about that, except that India must be not only proud, but happy. Why tax your successful industrialists to improve your health and education, or reduce your nuclear weapons spend, when another government is happy to tax its own people for your sake ?

History never moves quite in the way you expect. When middle-class student radicals were encouraging the BL and Ford workers in whatever demands they were making that week, the right said that the companies would be uncompetetive and would be wiped out by foreign competition - and to a very large extent that's happened.

But not completely. Tata aren't as far as I know going to shift the Land Rover line to India - they think they can make them at a profit here, even though UK/US management failed. While old British brands like Singer, Triumph, Morris, Austin were disappearing, Toyota, Honda and Nissan were building highly successful UK car plants from scratch. My last Derby-built Toyota was a lovely car.

Where's the decent UK management ? Well, a lot of the clever-clogs's went into the City, the law or media - all places where you can make a lot of money without ever mixing with the working class except at the end of a lens or in the dock. How we arts and politics types looked down on the engineering and mining students ! And the rest went into local government or politics, where they could poke them at arms-length.

A couple have been barred from fostering after refusing to stop smacking their natural child and have appealed against the ban. An adoption panel asked David and Heather Bowen from Taunton to reconsider using physical discipline towards their daughter Emma, nine.

The pair refused and were blacklisted over their "behaviour management".

The couple said they thought they had been good candidates and could not understand the decision. Mr Bowen, aged 42, said: "I am a parent governor at a local school, my wife works for the school parent teacher association, has been a special needs careers advisor and now works in the school. We both assist with children's work at our local church. Based on the evidence presented to the council, we cannot understand why we are unsuitable and it seems that we have been excluded on the basis that we physically chastise our birth child, in accordance with our beliefs and UK law."

Linda Barnett, head of children's services at Somerset County Council, said: "In assessing parents' suitability for fostering we take into account a range of factors which we gather from extensive assessment and discussion with the potential carers.

"In common with most other local authorities, Somerset has a foster carer's agreement which describes our belief about parenting. Where carers have a very strong personal belief that differs from the foster carer agreement, it is potentially unfair to expect them to operate to a set of guidelines which conflicts with this".

I didn't know that Somerset County Council had either the legal right or the ability to have "our belief about parenting".

Elsewhere, highly unpleasant reports from Kosovo.

Serb prisoners had their internal organs removed and sold by ethnic Albanians during the Kosovo war, according to allegations in a new book by the world's best known war crimes prosecutor.

Carla Del Ponte, who stepped down in January as chief prosecutor at the Hague tribunal for crimes committed in the Balkan wars of the 1990s, said investigators found a house suspected of being a laboratory for the illegal trade. A senior adviser to Hashim Thaci, Kosovo's prime minister and a leading member of the Kosovo Liberation Army which is accused of benefiting from the trade, yesterday denied the allegations.

According to the sources, senior figures in the Kosovo Liberation Army were aware of the scheme, in which hundreds of young Serbs were allegedly taken by truck from Kosovo to northern Albania where their organs were removed. Miss Del Ponte provides grim details of the alleged organ harvesting, and of how some prisoners were sewn up after having kidneys removed.

"The victims, deprived of a kidney, were then locked up again, inside the barracks, until the moment they were killed for other vital organs. In this way, the other prisoners were aware of the fate that awaited them, and according to the source, pleaded, terrified, to be killed immediately," Miss Del Ponte writes.

And another little snippet from Burnley :

AN outraged Burnley woman has branded as "cruel" a taxi driver who forced her to walk home after she started to give birth in his taxi.
Miss Joanne Ormonde (28), of Albion Street, says she was told to pay the driver and walk home when she went into labour in the back of his taxi on Saturday afternoon.

"I begged him to drop me off outside my house," said Miss Ormonde, who gave birth to Riley five weeks prematurely minutes later. "We were at the top of my street, the baby's head was out and he refused to take me
any further. He just looked around at me, demanded the £2.50 fare and told me to get out immediately," she said.

She struggled down Albion Street screaming for her partner, Mr Kevin Eckersley, while holding the baby in and managed to get to the house in time to give birth as an ambulance arrived.

Friday, April 11, 2008

"your fears are totally unreasonable, and if you persist in them they will all come true"

Resident Telegraph liberal Andrew O'Hagan tells the backwoodsmen how it is :

"Those of us who grew up with the obscenities that were the bombings of Eniskillen and Omagh might always wish to understand how they could have happened. Did they happen as a result of the mad actions of a generally blood-thirsty people who craved a United Ireland? Or were they the desperate acts of some parts of that community hounded into extremism by the British State's consistent abuse?"

Gee, I don't know, Andrew. I wonder if there's not some Third Way between damning a whole nation as bloodthirsty madmen and blaming ourselves for hounding those poor automata into planting the bombs ? Like maybe blaming the people who did it ? But you can see which option he prefers.

What is the nature of the feeling in our communities and in our courts against Islam, and how can we put an end to it? Are we not hurting our own society and our own security by making a monster where it shouldn't exist, a monster made from the mania of our own fear?

If we're not afraid, we won't get hurt ! It really IS all about us as far as he's concerned. I knew he was a writer, but I didn't know he was a magical realist.

We are making extremists where they previously hardly existed; this might be termed a suicidal policy.

Is he saying that if we offend them, they'll kill us ? Sounds awfully close.

Islamophobia is where many of our future troubles might be seen to begin. We ignore it, and our part in it, at the peril of everything we claim to hold sacred.

If we offend them, they might kill us AND destroy everything we hold sacred ?

With friends like Andrew O'Hagan to explain them to us, British Muslims certainly don't need any more enemies.

Your Liberal Myths Tonight

The Myth of the Myth of the Golden Age, in full effect at Hopi Sen.

Management summary - there were cases of bastardy and bad parenting in the 1990s, 1970s, Mayhew's London (note the strange omission of the 130 years between that and the 1970s) and Hogarth's Gin Lane. Therefore the Matthews family (of Shannon infamy) don't tell us anything about family breakdown or lack of moral restraint and Alison Pearson (writing in the Mail) is talking through her peach-like bottom.

Now that's not an indefensible position. To really know what's going on we'd need some stats, wouldn't we ? Individual cases may illuminate and exemplify a trend, but first we have to establish that one exists. Let's ask the experts who wrote "An Economic History of Bastardy in England and Wales".

"A remarkable feature of English demographic history is the explosion in childbearing outside marriage during the last quarter of the twentieth century, after 400 years of relative stability. Over the period 1845-1960, the percentage of births outside marriage moved within a small range, averaging about 5% ... After 1960, when the contraceptive pill was introduced, childbearing outside marriage began to climb slowly, and it exploded after 1980, reaching 42% in 2004."

From 5% in 1960 to 42% in 2004. I guess there's no way Alison Pearson could have noticed that change herself, is there ?

Or we could ask Gordon Brown's fave rave Gertrude Himmelfarb :

In Victorian England, the illegitimacy ratio--the proportion of illegitimate births to total births--fell from 7 percent in 1845 to less than 4 percent by the end of the century. In East London, the poorest section of the city, it was less than that: 4.5 percent in midcentury and 3 percent by the end of the century. Apart from a temporary increase during both world wars, the ratio continued to hover around 5 percent until well into the middle of the twentieth century. In 1960 it began to rise, to 12 percent by 1980, and to 32 percent by the end of 1992--a two-and-a-half times increase in the last decade alone and a sixfold rise in three decades.

Mr Sen also quotes - without references - a figure of about 1.8 million 'paupers' - without definition - in the mid-19th century. One in ten of the population on the parish ? In the workhouse ? Alas, he don't say. These figures seem vary high.

I can't work Mr Sen out. Is he just filling in a wet Friday with a poke at the Daily Mail, and who cares about the evidence ? Is he deliberately putting forward this hopeless argument-by-anecdote because he knows what the stats on bastardy and the effects of the fatherless family are, and prefers to fight on safer ground ? Or does he genuinely not have a clue ? Is his bookshelf burdened by books like these ?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Charlene Downes - Accused Cleared on Judge's Instructions

It appears that

a) the evidence wasn't strong enough - something that looked increasingly apparent as the first trial went on. No body, no forensics

b) some of the evidence may have been from an unreliable source - you do have the problem that in these sort of cases, few of the witnesses will necesarily be pillars of their local church or well-known for their charitable activity

c) some of the police work may not have been top-grade

The police investigation continues.


I'm reading Bernard Lewis' collection of essays From Babel to Dragomans at the moment, and the title essay throws an interesting light on Anglo-Ottoman relations in the sixteenth century. Lewis explains how a letter written in English would be translated into Italian, then translated into Turkish, there being no Turkish-speaking civil servants in London. The reverse process also occurred.

A neat sidelight on the Jerry Brotton affair, too.

"We do not have the letters from the Queen of England which reached the Sultan in their Turkish form; we have originals in English and translations in Italian but not the final form. We do have the successive versions the other way round, and they show systematic mistranslation right through ...

The letters themselves reveal the same sort of approach, so that when the Sultan writes a friendly letter to the Queen of England, the purport of what he says is that he is happy to add her to the vassals of his imperial throne and hopes, in the formal phrase, that she will 'continue to be firm-footed on the path of devotion and fidelity'. None of this appears in the translation, which was made for the English Ambassador in Italian and communicated by him to London in English. In these, the language is one of equal negotiations between sovereigns.

Thus, for example, in the berat (diploma) granted by Murad III to Queen Elizabeth authorising English merchants to trade in the Ottoman lands, the Sultan speaks of the Queen as having 'demonstrated her subservience and devotion and declared her servitude and attachment'. The contemporary Italian translation renders this 'sincera amicizia'.

It was, it seems, the general practice for the dragomans discreetly to modify the language, making it less imperious and more polite. One may safely assume that they were doing the same thing the other way round, and that when, for example, the Queen wrote to the Sultan expressing good will and friendship, in the Turkish version which reached the Sultan this became loyalty and humble submission.

UPDATE - what happens without the skilfully mistranslated version (from the essay 'Monarchy in the Middle East') :

Tabari tells a revealing story about an exchange of diplomatic messages between the Byzantine emperor Nikephorus and the caliph Harun al-Rashid. Nikephorus addressed the caliph as 'Harun, king of the Arabs'. From the point of view of the emperor this was no doubt a correct title, since he himself used the title king (basileus) and was king of the Romans. He was doing the caliph the honour of giving him the same kind of title as he used himself.

But for the caliph, 'the commander of the faithful', to be called 'king of the Arabs' was a double insult. It implied that he was only a king - and only of the Arabs ! He expressed his anger in his reply to the emperor, headed "From Harun, Commander of the Faithful, to Nikephorus, Dog of the Romans".

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dalrymple ...

Here :

"If I were a Marxist, I would conclude that the British criminal-justice system is now a conspiracy to keep an ever-expanding class of criminal lawyers in permanent employment."

And on the disastrous ex-Lord Chief Justice Harry Woolf's tedious liberal breast-beating here.

Judges 3, Politicians 0

Another day, another Home Office strategy overturned by the courts.

Abu Qatada, the firebrand preacher once described as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe", won his fight against deportation from Britain today.

With thanks to Judge Anthony Clarke (Oakham and Cambridge) and two other unamed Appeal Court judges (Lord Justice Buxton and ??).

The Government's anti-terror policy was dealt a second massive blow as the courts forced the Home Office to abandon its deportation case against 12 other terror suspects.

They've blocked the deportation on the grounds that he might be tortured in Jordan. Yet Peter Andre seems to have got on OK there.

The strange thing is that NuLab judges seem happy to sent British citizens off for trial in other jurisdictions, even for things which aren't an offence here. The Natwest Three were probably guilty of committing crime in the UK, not the States. The Howes' sold red phosphorous and iodine, the former a precursor chemical in the manufacture of methamphetamine but perfectly legal to possess and sell in the UK. They're on their way to the States where they may face 100-year sentences. (Neither the Howes nor the NW3 would be on my Christmas card list, but that's not the point) The new European Arrest Warrant may enable Britons to be extradited for "crimes" which are not illegal under UK law and are "committed" in the UK.

None of the people benefitting from the Appeal Court's decision are British subjects. They should not in such a case have the protections which British citizens (even unpleasant jihadis) should have. What may or may not happen to them overseas should not be the concern of a UK court.

Thousands of highly skilled migrants who were faced with deportation can now stay in Britain, a court ruled yesterday. The ruling is a blow to the Government and its attempt to demonstrate to the public that it is taking a tough stance to meet concern over the extent of immigration.

Sir George Newman, a High Court judge, branded the new rules unfair ... in November 2006 the Government suspended the scheme for a month after it was found that some migrants had entered on forged papers, others were working in unskilled jobs and some were not working at all.

Unfair to whom ?

A wealthy lawyer who killed his wife after she had an affair is set to inherit nearly £1million from her will after being freed from jail. Christopher Lumsden, 54, was said to have "snapped" after his wife Alison, 53, announced she was leaving him for a family friend. He attacked her at their £1.4million mansion, slashing her on the face and neck with a knife so badly a pathologist could not count the number of wounds she had suffered. Lumsden, a partner at the international law firm Pinsent Masons, was cleared of murder but jailed for five years for manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility.

The jury heard that the father-of-two was suffering from a "depressive condition" at the time of the attack after being diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. He was released on licence last September after serving around 18 months of his sentence and is now in line to receive £1million from her will, made five years before her death.

By law, a person convicted of manslaughter cannot inherit money from his victim. But the courts can make an exception if the killer suffered from a mental disorder at the time of the crime.

I imagine our wealthy lawyer will be found to be one of those exceptions.

One million voters have been added to the electoral register in only two years following the introduction of the Electoral Administration Act. New applicants do not have to provide documents proving their identity or even whether they are in the country legally. Instead, they simply fill in a two-page form and declare that the details are correct. The surge in voter numbers coincides with hundreds of thousands of immigrants coming to Britain from eastern Europe and elsewhere. After the introduction of the Electoral Administration Act in 2006, the roll increased by 513,054 and a further 463,340 in 2007.

Last night, a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: "There are all sorts of reasons why people join the electoral register and it is just not correct to say that the pattern of migration is the sole, or even most significant, reason."

At least this one is wholly down to the Government. They're heaping up the funeral pyre nicely.

Wroughton Hammer Attack - More Convictions

Batch 2

Aqduss Rauf, 20, Bilal Yakub, 18, Rouble Meah, 20, Mahbub Ali, 19, and Kamran Khan, 24, were found guilty of conspiracy to cause actual bodily harm (ABH). A 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to a charge of violent disorder at the start of a second trial.

Javed Khan, 21, Mizonur Rahman, 18, and a 15-year-old boy were acquitted of conspiracy to commit ABH.

In the second of two trials at Bristol Crown Court, the jury heard that four teenagers - Wasif Khan, 18, Amjad Qazi, 19, and two boys, 15 and 16, who cannot be named - had been found guilty in February of carrying out the attack with the DIY tool.

The jury was told that three other youngsters aged 15 and 16 admitted inflicting grievous bodily harm before the first trial commenced.

Justice, however, is not quite done.

Twelve of those convicted have been released on bail, while Wasif Khan was remanded in custody after the first trial.

They will all be sentenced at separate hearings yet to be fixed.

Hmm. The past is not necessarily a guide to the future but ... they SHOULD all be looking at 8-10 years after remission. I'll be gobsmacked if even the leaders get that. Best guess - 1-2 years with remission for the footsoldiers, 3-4 years with remission for the ringleaders. We shall see.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Gaza - British War Graves Attacked

Adloyada reports on the destruction of Jewish civilian graves in East London, French Muslim war graves in France, and British war graves in Gaza. Note that only one of these gets BBC coverage. You would simply never guess which.

You do have to wonder at the mentality of those who'd attack Muslim war graves. My position's pretty simple on this - if they fought with us, they should be honoured and remembered just as we'd honour and remember any other British soldier.

Judy is, not unnaturally, touched most nearly by the East London desecrations. It's the Gaza attack that's closer to me. The 53rd Division fought in the First, Second and Third battles of Gaza. My grandfather's 1/4th Welsh Territorials were part of that division. It is almost certain that his comrades lie there. I only know it was in Palestine that he received the wounds which were to shorten his life so much, but it's quite possible they were sustained in one of these three battles.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

A Free Media

I found myself in Harare, capital of Zimbabwe, a few weeks ago, and I was horrified by the political bias in the state controlled press.

The Herald had this banner headline on the front page :


and the following "story" :

The news that opposition politicians will once again be fighting for votes at next month's local elections has sparked outrage in Harare.

Council leader Musiiwa Chikorobho (ZAPU) said the announcement that the MDC is targeting the area in next month's council election has left him "devastated".

As nominations for the May elections closed yesterday, the MDC had registered four candidates in Harare and two in Chitungwiza.

In Harare, Alex Gweru, of Seza Road, Timba, is standing in Timba township and Alicias Denhere, of Mangisi Heights, Mutare, is standing in Madziwa.

Johane Masowe, of Lon Gutu, Manatsa Town, is hoping to be elected in Manatsa, while Samuel Moyana, of Rhodes Settlement, Chavhunduka, is appearing on the Makomeke ballot papers.

Councillor Chikorobho said: "I am absolutely devastated.

"I think the ordinary people of Harare will be absolutely devastated that these particular people have been able to get a nomination paper signed.

"I think the citizens of this city will be wise enough to see these individuals do not, and will never, represent their feelings."

ZANU-PF group leader Councillor David Phillips said: "It is regrettable the MDC thinks Harare is fertile ground for them.

"I sincerely believe they are mistaken.

"Neither I nor any ZANU candidate will share a platform with them.

"This is a party that deserves no support."

In Chitungwiza, Adie Kembo, of Manicaland Road, Honde Valley, Penhalonga, is standing in the Penhalonga ward and Kevin Netsai, of Tokoloshe Drive, Raphela, Lalapanzi, is standing in that ward.

Two things struck me about the story - the main headline in the weekend edition of the paper.

First, it was essentially a non-story - or a manufactured one. Stripping out the outrage and devastation revealed the fact that two politicos didn't like a third party that was about to stand against them in the elections. Giving them a free front page for this non-story was ostensibly journalism, in practice a non-declarable donation of election publicity that would have cost them tens of thousands to buy themselves, and which would have broken electoral funding rules.

Secondly, and most sinister, the addresses of all the opposition candidates were published - on the front page of the main local daily. The "devastated" ZAPU and ZANU politicos were also standing, but their addresses weren't published. The addresses of all candidates are public, but are rarely splashed (in a negative story) over the front page. It looked as if the intention was two-fold - to remind opposition candidates that "we know where you live - and so, now, does everyone else", and to make it easier for ZANU's politically motivated thugs to attack them.

The editor of the Herald may be a despicable dirtbag, but he's a paid hireling of the government. We in Britain should be thankful for our free press, the tool of no political party - and should be both grateful that this doesn't happen here - and vigilant to ensure that it never does.




zzzzzzz .....

... I say ! Where am I ?

Gosh. I've just had the strangest dream ... sorry, I'm still half asleep ... all about Zimbabwe and the elections ... whatever made me dream that ? ...

Oh Lordy. I've just remembered. I wasn't in Harare. I was in Swansea, this weekend.

And the paper with the front page story was the South Wales Evening Post.

50,000 Smackheads Claim Incapacity Benefit

(and another 50,000 alkies)

I'm not sure I can blame them for claiming. It's the people who are taking my money and giving it to them who I have a problem with.

Native Children A Minority In London - Official

From the (extremely politically correct - more a work of propaganda than objective reporting) latest ONS Social Trends Report. Given the number of Eastern Europeans who have arrived, the percentage of natives will be lower than the headline 47%.

And a couple of related posts.

Wat Tyler is talking to two senior London teachers and Old Labour ex-activists at a family gathering :
It's always been entertaining chatting to them at family weddings and funerals over the years, because back in the Old Days, they were long serving Labour activists.

And in 1997, although they never liked Bliar, they were rejoicing at their brave new dawn after 20 years of hurt. They rejoiced that the depraved political ideas espoused by people like Tyler had been consigned to the dustbin of history.

What a difference a decade makes- these days, they have withdrawn to the political sidelines, ignored and angry ...

Well, mass immigration must be stopped. Schools simply can't cope with the ludicrous babel of languages now forced on them. Let alone the cultural conflicts.

Come to that, immigration is behind most of the social problems in the inner cities. Not just the obvious (though until last week, officially denied) pressures on housing and public services, but also the tensions between different groups
- one of these teachers reckoned there are over 100 languages now being spoken in his borough.

They talked of how large areas of London have been taken away from the native population, and how White Flight is gathering pace.

But hang on, wasn't it your party that threw open the doors and let in all-comers?

Not our party. Not our party any more. Maybe won't vote at all next time.
Wat's verdict ? "Old Labour has been dropped into a void and is angry"

And To Miss With Love - which is a must-read, if somewhat depressing (another read-it-and-weep here), these days.

He left England in 1972 and hasn't been back since. Why? He says he knew then, it was the beginning of the end. He knew it when his older son came home from school and told him that they were being told how to recognise a possible drug dealer. Suddenly I remember our Governor who thinks that having this skill is something to admire. How different can Norman and that Governor be? One encourages and seeks out that knowledge for her children, the other left England with his children, and never returned because of it.

He tells me he knew it was all taking a wrong turn because they had started to build motorways. He wanted his children to have a quiet life. He wanted them to learn to be polite and respectful to adults. And so he moved to Nelson, a small town in New Zealand, which he describes as being at least 20 years behind the rest of the world. His children of course, are now in their fifties.

The question is what do people like him do nowadays? Where can they go? Where is there where children can still be children? I begin to wonder where Ba Ba (one of my blog readers) is planning to move. Where in the world still has that innocence which most of us seek, and which Norman found in 1972?

I guess Alberta could be as close as you can get.