Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Love The Interweb

Must be 85% of the shopping done online this year - maybe more by value. Only clothes for the elder children need a traipse.

We'll jump in the car this arvo and tootle up the A38 for a bits-and-bobs-shopping trip to beautiful Tewkesbury, home of the Gray Monk, where not everyone is having such a lovely Christmas. A fair few people are still living in caravans after the summer floods. But it's a lovely town, and has a good bookshop.

Inshallah I'll have time to give this guy a bell and collect some bottles from him. His perry is absolutely gorgeous - as it should be for £4 a bottle. But at 6 or 7 percent alcohol you drink the stuff more like wine - a bottle with dinner. If you're ever in that neck of the woods it's well worth giving him a call (he's not paying me for this, btw). He or his webmaster need to update the website though - I wonder if he would fancy an html-for-perry exchange ?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Surrender On All Fronts Part 372

Let us go back in time.

Mr Clarke said among his proposals to sort out the problem of removing foreign criminals was the "guiding principle that foreign nationals guilty of criminality should expect to be deported".

Then forward to today.

Immigration officials have "no interest" in deporting foreign prisoners who have served less than 12 months in jail, a leaked memo says. The admission was made in a memo from Prison Service deputy director general Michael Spurr to prison governors.

Stealth amnesty for 19,000 failed asylum seekers.

Previous home secretary John Reid announced the scale of the backlog in asylum cases July last year, which he said was between 400,000 and 450,000. He pointed out that the figure referred to case files, rather than individuals, and said they were "riddled with duplication and errors".

In her letter Ms Homer, the chief executive of the Border and Immigration Agency, said officials were on course to clear the backlog by 2011 and were speeding up the process. Ms Homer said: "To date we have concluded around 52,000 cases, of which about 16,000 have led to removals, 19,000 have led to grants of leave and 17,000 have been closed due to previously erroneous or duplicate records...

Only another 400,000 to go. I'd love to see the 17,000 closed records. What's the betting they're the ones where the individuals have just "vanished" ?

Tides "Should Be Illegal", Says King

In a press conference at Winchester, King Cnut of England announced plans to outlaw the twice-daily tides which disfigure the coast of England.

"The government is carrying out a wholesale review of the laws around prostitution, with the aim of reducing demand ..."

This is another example of a government unable to enforce the existing laws, so creating some new ones.

"It would counter international human trafficking which sees girls bought and sold by criminals in the UK"

That kind of thing is ALREADY illegal. But as with every aspect of immigration, the government are unable to enforce the existing laws. The political will is not there. Much easier to "solve" the prioblem by criminalising the punters.

It's all of a piece with the responses of the last 20 years, by both parties. Unable to deal with a culture which produces shootings and stabbings, the only solution is to make it harder to get knives or guns. Rising knife crime ? Make knives harder to buy. Gun crime ? Make handguns illegal. You can judge the success of those two policies yourself.

Even the Magistrate thinks you're bonkers.

BNP Brouhaha

I've been dithering about this post, writing and discarding a previous version. As an ex-lefty I can grasp pretty much exactly what's going on in the non-communalist bits of the Respect split - but with the BNP I felt I just didn't know enough about the internal dynamics of the party to produce anything meaningful or interesting. Then I read this pretty damn poor piece in the Guardian and thought "I know more than he does, anyway", scrubbed the original post and decided to shoot from the hip.

I won't revisit all the reasons we are where we are, the long journey from Windrush, via Notting Hill and Enoch Powell to Gordon "Union Jack" Brown and the prospect of the natives becoming a minority in the next 50 years. Read the posts on demography, immigration and the BNP.

Let's just draw a few straw men in the sand and see who salutes. A great deal of what follows is guesswork. Comments will be opened for anyone who wants to fill me in on where I'm guessing wrong.

You have to assume that Nick Griffin and his closest followers are driven by either extreme ideology, which may not be National Socialism but partakes thereof, or hatred of non-Brits. How else have they stayed motivated through all the long years of struggle after the National Front fell apart ? Given the amount of harassment - up to and including violent assault - that they must have had over the years, they must be pretty committed to have stayed the course.

All that struggle and toil - and paradoxically, that which they feared, the cleansing of the Native British from large parts of their homeland, is becoming their great asset. As the natives see the (non-integrated) immigrant population grow, and find that they are strangers in more and more areas of what used to be their country, so will any nativist party find votes just waiting for a home. The BNP brand, thanks to constant negative publicity, is well positioned for the 'plague on all your houses' vote - and commentators from Jackie Ashley to Nick Ryan in the Cif thread above have testified to the strength of this political current.

But the new BNP voters - and activists too - don't do fascism. They're British, damn it !

I'm never sure if this is a difficult one for the left to get their heads round or whether the accusation that 'you hate black/brown/Muslim/Polish people' is just a useful way of abusing a political enemy. Let's have an example. I have a favourable prejudice, born of good times drinking with them in ski resorts, towards North Italians. But that does not mean I'd be happy if the entire population of Turin decided to move to Gloucestershire. Some of them, yes - that would be fine - but not so many as to wipe out the local culture and leave me living in Lombardy on the Severn. I like my North Italians in North Italy, thank you.

And that's IMHO how many Brits feel about mass immigration. They don't hate the immigrants as individuals - indeed they're hardly to be blamed for grabbing a chance to better themselves. But they don't want to be strangers on their own streets. A proportion (IMHO a significant one) of these people are potential BNP voters. And the less jackbooty the BNP, the more of these voters they'll pick up.

So - you've got a leadership - and the leader has his old, trusted comrades - who are well to the right of the new followers, new activists, and potential new voters. Perhaps a few of the trusted followers ARE Nazis. While others aren't apparently very good organisers.

I know not what prompted the BNPs webmaster, head of events and group development, and the head of administration, to set up a blog attacking one Mark Collett and one Dave Hannam, both close to leader Nick Griffin. Apparently the one is a liability and the other incompetent. But the leadership found out, they were expelled (one having her house entered by what appears to be deception and her computer taken) - and it was discovered that a huge number of activists, some pretty senior, agreed with the rebels rather than the leader.

There are ongoing suggestions that the individuals concerned have a hold on Mr Griffin which makes him want to keep them on board. Maybe a few skeletons rattling in the back of a cupboard.

Another leader of a nationalist party, some seventy years back, had to make a choice between jettisoning his old comrades of the early days and potentially losing a new-found power base. He chose to stick with the new power and ruthlessly cast off (or shot) the old brigade. But Mr Griffin's nowhere near power yet.

Guessedworker, posting with his usual readability at what otherwise IMHO seems to be an increasingly eccentric Majority Rights, maps out a few possible scenarios - none comforting for Mr Griffin. I get the impression that a compromise is being sought - certainly the "Real BNP" website is but a cached shadow of what was there a day or two back.

I would guess that there's a tremendous desire to try and get things sorted, given the possibilities for all that EU Parliamentary dosh in next year's Euroelections. From their perspective the one good thing is that the split has hardly registered on Joe Public's radar. But a lot of hard words have been spoken - and they'll all be on anti-BNP leaflets though letterboxes next year.

(In the long run, the demise or otherwise of the BNP won't IMHO affect the future shape of divided politics in divided Britain, which will still be driven by demographics. There'll be a party for the Native Brits, but it's somewhat less likely to be the BNP).

Any (non-actionable) ideas, you who read this ?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Scottish Sexual Activity To Halve By 2012

The Scottish Law Commission have reported on ways to procure more convictions for rape.

2.24 The model of consent which we proposed was an 'active' (or positive) type as opposed to a passive model. On an active understanding of consent to sexual conduct the basic principle is that both participants in sexual activity should respect each other's sexual autonomy and each is equally active in reaching agreement on their sexual relations. In determining whether agreement has been given to a particular sexual act a court or jury should look at the whole background circumstances. The primary question should be 'what did all the parties do to ensure that they participated in a fully consensual act?' The focus of enquiry would be not only on the behaviour of the victim but on the actions of the accused in the process of reaching agreement on consent.

This is going to be fun, except for the person in the dock. I'm not at all sure that law commissions should be laying down "basic principles for sexual activity". It could be argued by a good lawyer that in the vast majority of sexual encounters, whether in the nightclub toilets or the deep peace of the mamarital bed, one or other of the participants (and guess which one it'll be ?) have fallen short in their duty of ensuring thay they're participating in a fully consenusal act. It'll turn out that we ARE all rapists.

"And what did you do to ensure that you participated in a fully consensual act ?"

"Er ... I put my hand on her thigh ..."

It's a bit late to digest the whole thing - maybe it'll be better in toto, so to speak. But ...

In the Discussion Paper we emphasised that in the context of sexual activity consent functions in quite a different way from agreement (consensus in idem) in the law of contract.

Er ... just a bit. You could say that. Would you care to explain why ?

It is of the very essence of the law of contract that once a contract is made a party is held bound by it, whatever his or her subsequent wishes. In contrast, in the present context it would be inappropriate to prohibit the withdrawal of consent to sexual activity.

Ah, that's the only difference, is it ?

But it's this that will (if enforced - always a big if) destroy Scottish squelching.

2.59 We recommend that:

5. There should be a non-exhaustive statutory list of factual situations which define when a person has not consented to sexual activity. The situations should include the following:

(a) where the person had taken or been given alcohol or other substances and as a result lacked the capacity to consent at the time of expressing or indicating consent unless consent had earlier been given to engaging in the activity in that condition;

(b) where the person was unconscious or asleep and had not earlier given consent to sexual activity in these circumstances;

(c) where the person agreed or submitted to the act because he or she was subject to violence, or the threat of violence, against him or her, or against another person;

(d) where the person agreed or submitted to the act because at the time of the act he or she was unlawfully detained by the accused;

(e) where the person agreed or submitted to the act because he or she was deceived by the accused about the nature or purpose of the activity;

(f) where the person agreed to the act because the accused impersonated someone who was known to the person;

(g) where the only expression of agreement to the act was made by someone other than the person.
(Draft Bill, section 10)

I've got no great worries about b to g, although I see section e) would probably have put the remarkable Mr Fadi Sbano, who persuaded a somewhat unworldly lady that sexual intercourse constituted a form of medical treatment, away. He was acquitted of rape at Swansea Crown Court. (UPDATE - the judge stopped the trial.)

But section a !

"lacked the capacity to consent at the time of expressing or indicating consent"

So if you're smashed enough and say yes your partner is still a rapist ! This is going to be bad news. Why is a woman's free - if drunken - consent not valid, while an equally intoxicated male partner's consent is a criminal act ? Are not both parties equally "victims" here, the man being similarly incapable of consent ? Be interesting to see how these prosecutions pan out in court.

“However we dress, wherever we go, yes means no and no means no!”

UPDATE - I'm presuming the "If at first you don't succeed, buy her another beer" T-shirt started all this.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Post In Haste ...

Bloggers4Labour is an excellent blog, bringing together the posts of a load of lefty bloggers who I might not bother reading individually (there being only 24 hrs in the day). Alex Hilton is to be congratulated on it - not a sentence you'll see very often here. Would that there were a rightish equivalent.

Seems to be a pretty broad church, too - quite a few "bloggers 4 labour" don't seem to be big Labour fans. I digress. Browsing the bloglines feed today, I raised my eyebrows at this piece by Labour councillor (in Scallyland) Louise Baldock, on the BNP crisis. My thoughts on the subject are still in gestation, as I don't know much about the internal dynamics of the dispute - whereas as a reformed far-lefty, I have no trouble working out where most of the actors in the Respect disaster stand.

It's changed a bit from the piece I read though. Ms Baldock has obviously had second thoughts. It now reads :

I wont be taking sides when one facist criticises another, but I will be jubilant to learn that the BNP is falling apart at the seams.

And when you represent a seat like mine with new immigration and lots of uncertainty about the pace of change then you have to be very sensitive and thoughtful to how this is managed. And believe me, it is not managed through fascism.

I sincerely hope it is years if not decades before the bastards can regroup.

A truly great day for community relations.
Whereas the original post (atom feed on bloglines) read :

I wont be taking sides when one facist criticises another, but I will be jubilant to learn that the BNP is falling apart at the seams. I am NOT on the side of the enemy's enemy, I KNOW they are not my friends. I hope you all die a long and slow and horrible death.

And when you represent a seat like mine with new immigration and lots of uncertainty about the pace of change then you have to be very sensitive and thoughtful to how this is managed. And believe me, it is not managed through fascism.

However what none of us need is for the BNP to stir things up even worse

I sincerely hope it is years if not decades before the bastards can regroup.

A truly great day for community relations.

I love that bit about being very sensitive and thoughtful. "She is also a member of the Christian Socialist Movement." You'd never guess.

(one other B4L post that raised my blood pressure - this review of the Pogues - of all people.

Overall, an excellent gig, only spoiled by the incompetent security failing to stop people smoking.

I'm not sure the Pogues are really the band for this blogger - unless they've changed a lot)

Justice "Missing, Believed Dead"

Remember the pensioner who was stoned to death by a gang of "youths" ?

Their convictions have all been overturned and they've been released.

Ernest Norton, 67, was playing cricket with his son James, 17, at a leisure centre in Erith, Kent, on a Sunday afternoon in February last year, when they were targeted by a gang of up to 20 youths throwing stones and sticks. Two stones struck the father-of-two on the temple and fractured his cheekbone, and he collapsed to the ground suffering a fatal heart attack. The boys, aged between 10 and 13 at the time of the attack, were convicted of manslaughter and violent disorder at the Old Bailey in October.

But yesterday the convictions were overturned at the court of appeal by Lord Justice Gage, Mr Justice Tugendhat and Judge Scott-Gall.

On what grounds ?

Mark Wall QC, representing the boys, had challenged the safety of the convictions arguing that it could not be established which of the allegedly "unlawful or dangerous" actions, if any, had led to Norton's heart attack.

I see. He was hit in the face by stones, dropped dead with a heart attack, the boys ran off shouting "we got him", and the heart attack was totally unrelated. Does that mean we can stone Mark Wall QC to death, as long as there are enough of us, and we throw enough stones to make it impossible to pin the death to a given stone and a given thrower ?

I like that "allegedly", not to mention the "if any".

Of course Messrs Gage, Tugendhat and Scott-Gall could always have told him to boil his head.

Gage said the court was allowing the appeals and ordered the boys' release on bail, adding that the reasons for the decision would be published at a later date.

"Whatever the result of the appeals, this was a real tragedy for the family and, on behalf of us all, I express our sincere sympathy to Mrs Norton and her family," the appeal court judges said.

I'm sure it'll be a great comfort to them.

Meanwhile in London, it looks as if Suzanne Moore and Hackney Baroque will be getting the keyboards out again.

It is understood that David Nowak, from Stoke Newington, was killed during a mass street brawl at about 11pm on Saturday, after a group of youths tried to gatecrash the event in Stoke Newington. Scotland Yard said that he died from a single stab wound to his liver and kidney. Another youth, aged 15, was also taken to hospital, but is said to be in a stable condition.

The death takes the number of teenagers shot, stabbed or beaten to death in London this year to 26 and is the second murder in Stoke Newington in a month. On November 14, Etem Celebi, 17, was shot a few streets away on the Smalley Close estate.

Detectives said that they were looking into the possibility the latest incident was gang-related. The victim was known by his graffiti tag, Turk.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ker-Ching ! Ker-Ching !

Failed asylum seeker ? We'll give you £4K to go home.

In all, I was promised a package worth approximately £4,000 in cash and allowances, including an airline ticket, the £1,000 to set up a business, three months’ salary for two staff, accommodation, a car and office equipment – and no questions asked. The IOM is currently advertising its repatriation programme in the ethnic-minority media in Britain, and financial incentives have been increased. According to the Home Office, 3,290 people have left under the scheme in the first nine months of this year. Liam Byrne, the immigration minister, said: “Last year we removed more failed asylum seekers than ever before.”

The Sunday Times investigated after it was alerted that failed asylum seekers were playing the system. I met several asylum seekers who had applied for the IOM’s financial assistance programme and were already planning their return to Britain once they got their business established in their country of origin.

Unless you've been trafficked in, of course, when much more is available.

These payouts could damage prostitution rackets, as they're replaced by compensation rackets.

The women who received £140,000 were smuggled from eastern Europe by British-based criminals using established international sex trafficking networks. One girl was illegally brought into the UK five years ago, aged 13. Another was trafficked in 2003 when she was 16. Both were kept prisoner by the same trafficking syndicate until they managed to escape at the start of last year. According to lawyers, who have agreed to protect the identity of claimants, they were subject to 'forced prostitution, multiple rapes and beatings' while being held captive in the UK. In addition, their captors refused to give the victims money and warned they would be killed if they fled. The highest award was £62,000, the lowest £16,500.

So if illegal immigrants are victims of crime while here, the taxpayer will compensate them.

The authority, which awards compensation to victims of violent crime, has agreed payments for 'false imprisonment and forced prostitution during the time of their imprisonment' though neither exists as an official category for damages. Sarah Johnson, of Lovells, said: 'This will serve as a precedent for other cases and we are delighted.'

I'm presuming that Lovells are taxpayer funded via legal aid. And I know the Poppy Project is.

The Poppy Project, which helps trafficked women after they have been rescued from their captors, hailed the payments as a 'tremendous breakthrough' and said that, in theory at least, thousands of women would qualify.

So taxpayer cash is used to set up an organisation to campaign for more taxpayer cash to be handed out. I'm sure I've heard that before.

And these formerly poor women will return home with their compo ?

The women who have received compensation are understood not to have been deported. Victims will shortly win the right to stay in Britain temporarily after the government signalled its intent to ratify the Council of Europe's convention on action against trafficking.

Ah yes. Temporary as in permanent. Former prostitutes with links to organised crime are just the New Britons we need.

UPDATE - repatriation grants - £30 million and rising. And stand by for more applicants.

This is the reality of Europe's new eastern frontier, 1,800 miles long, from Estonia in the north to Slovenia in the south. From Friday, it will be the only line of defence against tens of thousands of would-be immigrants drawn inexorably towards the EU every year. Under rules which take effect on Friday, anyone inside this frontier will be able to travel between countries without having to show a passport. Hungary, Poland and other countries that became EU members in 2004 are joining the "Schengen" area, within which there are no internal border controls. There will no longer be checks on anyone entering Germany and Austria from the east. And although Britain is not within the zone, illegal immigrants will be free to roam all the way to the French side of the Channel.

The intention is to make it easier for European citizens to move around, but word has spread quickly to those dreaming of a new life in the West. Somalis, Afghans, Iraqis, Mongolians, Georgians and Kosovan Serbs and Albanians are beating a path to the border, eager to try their luck.

The Party of The Working Class (2008 version)

Sorry - sorting out prezzies. But my jaundiced, port-bleared eye was caught by this nonsense from Alex "Recess Monkey" Hilton, still hoping to become a Labour Parliamentary candidate.

"The point of our British flavour of socialism was as much defined by social causes against racism, sexism and homophobia as it was defined by our economic policies"

I couldn't let it pass.

I think you'll find that's the flavour of "socialism" that emerged in the eighties, when middle-class university lefties, appalled at the Thatcherite hegemony, gave up on the British working class (too many of them were voting for her) and looked around for some other "other" to bring about radical social change.

The social change never happened - indeed capitalism triumphed, but something strange also happened. Capitalists soon realised that fighting against "racism, sexism and homophobia" had nothing but positives for them.

Sexism ? The old, male industries are moving offshore and service industry's where its at. Women are perfect for the office and call centre - much more compliant and less given (with a few excellent exceptions like Grunwick and Gate Gourmet, both involving Asian women) to industrial action than those stroppy blokes. Rising divorce rates ? More housing needed, more white goods to shift. Rising age of first childbirth ? More wine bars, gyms and restaurants to service those singles.

Homophobia ? Not heard of the pink pound ? Homosexual couples have the highest disposable incomes of all. Ker-ching !

There's a problem with the above. Fewer babies. And fewer babies means a smaller labour pool. And a smaller labour pool means - gasp - higher wages. Oh dear. What can we do to keep profits up and costs down ?

Of course ! The fight against racism ! Obviously, if it's racist to object to some immigration, then it's racist to object to ANY immigration at all ! Yay ! We can import as many people as we like - the politicians can feel groovy and multicultural while we get the cheap labour ! It's a win for everyone ! (Except the working class already here, whose wages are screwed down, but who cares about them ?)

And that's the Faustian compact between capital and "Labour" which we're seeing now. Silent, mournful, abandoned, broken, the English working class recedes into the darkness. They have suffered in every respect by their association with the British Labour Party.

Perhaps, as some suggest, mass immigration is Labour's revenge on the English workers for the Thatcher years - their punishment.

(I don't suggest it would be a great deal different under a Cameron administration, mind you.)

UPDATE - what a great title for a book. "The Breaking of the English Working Class".