Saturday, March 18, 2006

Could Someone Please Explain This To Me ?

Mr Justice Fulford, at Snaresbrook Crown Court, east London, called for longer maximum terms in such cases.

Mr Fulford said Khan was a person of authority in Lashkar-e-Toiba - now known as Jammat-ud-dawa and banned in the UK - who could call on millions of pounds raised by UK supporters.

"You, Mohammed Ajmal Khan, in my view, are a committed terrorist," he said.

"I am of the view that greater maximum sentences are needed to enable judges to reflect more realistically the gravity of terrorism which does not need me to say is of great public concern."

What ? The maximum sentence, which the judge considered too low, is fourteen years.

So he sentences the guy to nine ?

That's a new one on me ...

Susan has just received the Progesterex email hoax from an unwitting acquaintance.

Signs Of The Times

"When walking in the street, don't flash your Ipod, mobile or credit card. Stay safe"

Advert I've just heard on Severn Sound Radio, courtesy of Gloucestershire Police.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Liberal Democrat - Because of immigration, there is no England

"Now we see the violence inherent in the system."

According to Newcastle Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Arnold, the other countries of these islands are homogenous, with their own cultures, and so merit national Parliaments. England, on the other hand, has too many immigrants to be considered a nation at all.

Let's have the full horror :

England needs no parliament

Sir: Mary Dejevsky is wrong ("Why we need an English parliament", 14 March). There is no need for an English parliament because there is no England.

Scotland, Wales and Ireland are fairly homogeneous nations, each with its own clearly defined character and culture. That is why devolution (or independence) has been quite successful in all three. In England, the picture is far more complex. There are millions of Scots, Welsh and Irish living in England. The overwhelming majority of non-white migrants also live in England, along with many hundreds of thousands of other Europeans and people from other parts of the world. England is the genuine mongrel nation, and I welcome that. This fact however, makes identity far more complex and difficult than in the other British nations.

For example, I regard myself first and foremost as a Northumbrian, then as British, and finally as European. Here in the north-east we only began to be part of the nation after 1603. Before that, the independent kingdoms of England and Scotland played havoc with the area, and used it (and abused us) for their own dynastic ends. I have no loyalty to England. For me, the British state has meaning and relevance precisely because it has little connection with a brutal past based on ignorance and exploitation.

The answer to the West Lothian question is the creation of a fully federal United Kingdom, based on Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the regions of England. There would still be disparities of size, but these would be far less than a separate English parliament would create. The failure of the referendum in the North-east in 2004 doesn't invalidate the concept. Devolution is working in Scotland and Wales; and independence has given most of Ireland a new lease of life. We just need to expand that successful formula to the rest of the United Kingdom.



I wonder if Mr Arnold realises what he's saying. He seems to be pretty much in agreement with Nick Griffin that nationhood is based round race ("homogenous nations") and culture.

England has successfully integrated many races and cultures in the past - including my family on both sides - and my wife's family. Yet my children are English, despite my attempts to convert them to Welsh rugby. I think of Nasser Hussain as an Englishman - and does anyone want to say that Colin Charvis isn't Welsh ?

The problem today is twofold - the collapse of English cultural self-confidence (exemplified by Mr Arnold - how about "England is the genuine mongrel nation, and I welcome that" - followed by "I have no loyalty to England" ?) and immigration on a scale which defies integration. These two things are faces of the same coin, of course. A self-confident nation could integrate many more immigrants (most immigrants now do not integrate) - but a self-confident nation would not allow mass immigration.

It looks as if poor old England gets it from all sides. As I've noted before, they've had to put up wih the Scots and Welsh, with their tiny immigrant populations, telling the English what hideous racists they are. Now, not only are they racist for not loving their multicultural Nirvana enough, but it turns out they haven't got a country any more - because they've allowed too many Scots, Welsh and Irish - and others - in.

Does the Liberal Democrat leadership agree with their councillor's view - that a nation can't exist without racial purity ?

And will Labour (who, you'll remember, lost the English vote) use this idea as the strapline for the Balkanisation strategy of Regional Assemblies ?

"You need a Regional Assembly - because England doesn't exist"

PS - re-reading the letter, you can only be amazed that the Indie published it. Imagine a Tory arguing in the Telegraph that a nation was based on ethnic homogeneity. It would be all over the BBC before you could say 'John Townend'. It looks as if you can get away with this sort of stuff - if you're attacking England.

Quite Right Too

Concorde has been voted the number one design icon of the 20th Century by viewers of BBC2's The Culture Show and visitors to London's Design Museum.

This subject was the only one on which I've ever disagreed with a post of the Blessed Oliver's.

Government, Hospital Find Financial Holy Grail

The miracle of Stoke-on-Trent.

"A spokesman for the NHS trust said the hospital needed to reduce its workforce of 7,000 by the equivalent of 1,000 posts. Staff have been told about 750 compulsory redundancies may be needed."

The Department of Health said the hospital was being helped to control finances without adversely affecting patient care. In a statement it said: "We are reassured that the trust has made it clear that they plan to improve efficiency without cutting patient services and that they are consulting on any possible redundancies"

This really is fantastic news, which will doubtless bring thousands of business executives and management consultants from all over the world to Stoke, seeking to discover the secret. To be able to cut staff by 15% while still offering the same service to customers - in a labour-intensive industry - is a monumental achievement.

Or it could be a load of lies. Or, alternatively, it could be true, if the trust was grossly overstaffed and wasting public money.

But these alternatives will never be explored by the BBC, which seems to have a natural bias in favour of large tax-funded organisations. Can't imagine why.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Christians ! Take The BBC Bible Test !

Do you believe that the Israelite King David (yes, the one who killed Goliath - and also the one who effectively murdered a man in order to marry his wife) had a homosexual relationship with his good mate Jonathan ?

If you don't - you're 'anti-gay'.

Good to know the TV tax is being spent on such rigorous Biblical scholarship.

(see also this post).

It's like deja vu all over again ...

Public sector workers to strike ... bizarre compensation claims (what then should the family of the late Colin Bloomfield receive ?) ... education knacked ... IRA killers invited to Parliament ... the punk revival can't be far off.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

And We're Off Again ...

Chalk up another victim for our glorious Probation 'Service' ...

"His killer, Yusuf Bouhaddaou, 28, had been released early from jail for other burglaries and would have known capture meant a long sentence, jurors heard.

Bouhaddaou, from west London, admitted burglary but had denied murder.

He had been released from prison on licence five weeks earlier ..."

At least the Prison Service are doing a good job.

Damn Foreigners ...

Coming over here and eating our women ...

not to mention their own ...

Elsewhere another hard-working professional comes to England to do the jobs the locals don't want to do ...

"Victor Dembovskis raped and stabbed to death Jeshma Raithatha in Sudbury Hill, west London, jurors heard.

The court heard he had twice been convicted of raping women at knifepoint in Latvia in 1990 and 1999."

I wonder if he used the same application form as Andrezej Kunowski ?

I Assumed

That the strange reporting, as covered in this Biased BBC post, of the Salford shootings was due to non-judgementalism.

Maybe there's more to it than that.

Looks like the Brass Handles could be a bit of a lively place over the next few months.

Fight ! Fight ! Fight !

Handbags at dawn as Gary Younge and Aaro roll around on the floor.

Gazza : "A couple of years ago a British journalist won a major award for columns supporting the Iraq war on the grounds that to do so was "brave". Whether the award was deserved is irrelevant; the judges' adjective is the issue. What, after all, is "brave" about supporting the policies of both your government and the sole global superpower against a country that posed no threat?"

Aaro : "In other words, he is the brave one. It is in challenging "prevailing hierarchies and orthodoxies" that true bravery lies. Propping them up takes no courage. This line is full of unwitting irony, as any person who has attended a Guardian editorial mass meeting would know. But look, a writer needs his image."

But the real gems come in Aaro's comments, via Aaro fanatic bruschettaboy.

"I am on the point of starting a crusade against this meaningless phrase "speak truth to power". I would be much happier if the media made even a cursory effort to speak truth to me".

I am really interested in inside dirt from Guardian story conferences? Did it all kick off? Were punches thrown? I can just see Madeleine Bunting screaming "leave it Gary he's not worth it" as Timothy Garton Ash throws his chips at Seumas Milne.

What an image.

Monday, March 13, 2006

St Jean Slandered ?

Via new blog Bye Bye Britain, by a London teacher married to a copper and preparing to leave Britain, the story that Jean de Menezes is under investigation as a potential rapist.

"According to the Sunday Mirror, the woman, in her early 20s, contacted police in the capital last month after seeing Mr de Menezes' photograph in the media.

She told officers he bore a striking resemblance to the man who raped her in a hotel room after she became separated from her friends while celebrating New Year's Eve 2002 in West London.

She apparently also gave police a DNA sample at the time which could be compared to genetic material from Mr de Menezes' body.

The de Menezes' solicitor Harriet Wistrich said the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is handling the probe into the 27-year-old's shooting, asked her several weeks ago whether a DNA sample could be taken for the rape investigation."

Interesting blog. I didn't realise UK TB rates are now so high (you'd never guess why) that Oz teachers have to have chest X-rays on return if theyve worked in a UK school for more than two years.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Evil of Capitalism

In 1968 hippiedom was in its first full flush. The singer Donovan Leitch bought an island off Skye and announced an artistic commune. Beautiful hippie-chick singer/songwriter and art-student boyfriend are invited.

Naturally, the way to get from Sidcup to Skye was by horse-drawn caravan - a journey that took them more than a year, by which time the artistic commune had collapsed and everyone was leaving. But from the journey came one vinyl LP released in 1970 and almost the defining musical document of a certain strand of the hippy culture - fey, childlike, twee and IMHO absolutely charming.

It sank without trace. The singer, the delightfully named Vashti Bunyan, stayed in Scotland, raised kids. I first heard it on a tape copied from a tape copied from a tape in the early 80s - passed around the rainbow sweater, wool-carding, circle-dancing and spinning wheel set. Her fans were Type 2 people, as was Vashti herself.

Fell in love with it, passed on copies to friends. Imagine my delight when 'Just Another Diamond Day' was released on CD in 2000.

And imagine my horror when I heard the title song last night on a T-Mobile advert.

Ah well. I suppose the money's useful.