Saturday, March 08, 2008


I've been saying this for six years :

The philosopher Hannah Arendt argued that the origins of totalitarianism lay 'in one great unorganised mass of furious individuals" who had nothing in common except their apprehension that the most respected and representative articulators of the existing culture were fools, and the elected holders of public office were fraudulent.

The problem is that the most respected and representative articulators of the existing (2008) culture are fools, and many of the elected holders of public office are fraudulent. Where does that leave us ?

Take a look at the comments on this CiF piece warning of the dangers of a BNP London Assembly member. The usual anti-BNP Guardianistas are simply overwhelmed - not by BNP supporters, but by people totally disillusioned with NuLab, some of whom are almost nihilistic in their desire to give them a shoeing. I've not seen so much weary contempt for a party ... I'd say a rough split in the comments is 10% basically supportive (anti-BNP), less than 5% pro-BNP, another 5% who might vote for them to poke a finger in the NuLab eye, and 80% a-virulent-plague-on-your-house stuff - the most wounding coming from ex-Labour voters.

Interesting times.

Friday, March 07, 2008

"a cross-section of the community"


RAF personnel have been banned from wearing their uniforms in public after suffering abuse in the streets. The order was given to servicemen and women at an air base in Cambridgeshire on the advice of RAF police.

The base commander at RAF Wittering, near Peterborough, took the decision after reviewing incidents of abuse over a seven-month period. Sqd Ldr Tony Walsh, a spokesman at the base, said a number of personnel who lived in the city and its outskirts had suffered abuse when wearing their uniforms off-duty.

The abuse had come from a "cross-section" of the community, he added, and was believed to be linked to the RAF's operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Call me an old cynic, but I do wonder about that "cross-section" bit. On the other hand, Peterborough saw five nights of rioting in 2004, more trouble at its Anand Mela that year, was number seven in the top ten local authorities for the number of births, and at least one (Mohammed Choudhary) Labour councillor has been convicted of vote-rigging. Maybe "cross-section" is le mot juste.

UPDATE - this morning Victoria Derbyshire on Five Live opened her show by stating that Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson had claimed a small number of "young Muslim men" were responsible. Alas the first few minutes of her show are not available on the BBC website - by accident or design, it starts a few minutes in. I can't find any corroboration of this anywhere else.

BBC Reporter Stephen Chittenden reported from Peterborough that no-one seems to know exactly what the abuse consisted of, where it happened, who was involved or how many times. Wittering RAF are referring journalists to the MOD. It appears that all we DO know is that they've been asked not to wear uniforms.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

One For Mr Tarran

And all patriotic Englishmen, Scotmen, Welshmen, Irishmen, Canucks, Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans.

Patriotic Song : a a book of English verse : being an anthology of the patriotic poetry of the British Empire from the defeat of the Spanish Armada till the death of Queen Victoria

The pdf version is bigger, but it reads better than the text file.

It is needless to dwell upon the inspiring energy of song. Since the age of Tyrtaeus it has everywhere been recognised as a powerful incentive to valour. A nation can scarcely exist without a national anthem. How characteristic are the anthems of the nations ! It may almost be said that the difference of the English and the French nations is expressed by the contrast between God Save the King and the Marseillaise.
What an influence songs have exercised upon the life of nations! The debt of Scotland to Burns, the debt of Ireland to Moore, is greater than words can tell. Fletcher of Saltoun was perhaps not wrong in his estimate of the songs, as compared with the laws, of a nation ...

To consolidate the Empire, and to animate it as a whole with noble ideas, is one of the greatest needs and duties of the present day; and an empire, like an admiral, lives not by bread alone, but by its sentiments, its ambitions, its ideals.

So said The Right Reverend J. E. C. Welldon, Lord Bishop of Calcutta, Late Head-Master of Harrow School (in fact Churchill's headmaster), in the foreword to this 1901 volume. You'd have to go a long way now to find a Church of England Bishop who wouldn't call him a fascist.

Quote of the Day

Sam Tarran

(It) was not the fact that the Government stabbed their voters in the back by going back on their manifesto promise; it was not the fact that the Liberal Democrats, as ever the majority spineless, refused to take any position whatsoever; and it was not the fact the vote was lost, as was expected anyway. It was probably the way the Labour MPs cheered as the results were announced.

It is a contemptible, evil thing when the elected representatives of the people cheer as they vote away both the will of the people themselves, and most likely the only chance to save Britain from being dragged further into the Napoleonic monolith that has ensnared the nations of Europe. Never has such contempt been shown for the British people by any Parliament in any age.

Anyone Remember ?

I could have sworn that a couple of years back there was a shooting incident at Queen's Park Rangers ground, Loftus Road when members of the then board were shot at - I think at half-time during a game, although I may be wrong. Unless it was another club, but I think it was QPR.

Anyone else remember ? Can't find owt on the web. Links ? Comments are open.

Burnley Schools II

I posted a while back that two out of the five new schools created in Burnley's giant social engineering project (see this post) were in special measures.

I was wrong, actually - Hameldon is in special measures and Unity College is on 'notice to improve' - usually a precursor.

They've now been joined by Shuttleworth College. Two and a half out of five.

Burnley College, a sixth-form and higher education establishment, is also in the news for all the wrong reasons - the death of Mohammed Shafiq, stabbed and beaten by presumed 'students' when he intervened in a fight between his son and another youth. His son had been attacked before.

Let Zarah tell it :

Well this is what i belive happend,
Mr Mohammed Shafiq's Son was getting bullied...
and they was going to have a fight...
in the park...
So his son rang his dad...
and his dad rang the police...
the police didnt take interest.
and then Mr Mohammed Shafiq...
went to the park with some people...
and his son and a lad was fighting...
no one was stopping the fight ...
so Mr Mohammed Shafiq tried to pull them appart...
but then one of the other lads friend's went and stabbed him and hit him with a metal bar...
someone outside the park rang the police...
and the police came took him to hospital in Blackburn...
sadly he didnt make it...
and the person that stabbed him ranaway police are after him...
but the other lads police have got them....
So Sad to hear it.....
I hate thease Criminals....
His family must be devastated,
i would,
it really touched my heart,
ill admit it i even started crying,
felt like someone really close to me...
someone else should have also helped and pulled them apart....
none of this would have happend...
the people who was just stood there..
are so dumb....
If i was there i would have done something even if i would have to take my own life...
I pray for him and his family...
Mr Mohammed Shafiq wasnt the type of person that would have gone and started fighting i belive....
He will be very missed and remembered...
he was a happy man...
but why did this have to happen?
all we can do now is pray for him and his family and that Allah be with them and he goes to jana and the criminals get badly punished
Think about it he is not going to come back now so we cant do much more..
so that is what i will do....
i hope other people will aswell...
Thats all i would like too say....

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Public Servants

According to the Times, Leee Jasper was paid £120,000 pa - and paid £90 pw rent for his four-bedroomed 'social housing' in Clapham.

"In the Beginning ... back in 1955 ..."

"In 1955, being the perfect wife meant dinner on the table, a pretty ribbon in your hair and a sympathetic ear for tales of your husband's very important day".

Who say ? Why, the Good Wife's Guide, of course - one of the key documents of the dark days of the 1950s, perfectly demonstrating the subservience that modern woman has escaped.

"Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking.

Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part.

Minimise all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet.

Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.Don't ask him about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

And finally, a good wife always knows her place."

As the Yorkshire Post's Sarah Freeman says :

"The 1955 guide, an unforgiving blueprint of how to look after the man of the house, achieved almost legendary status when it was published"

And Maxine Soghmanian, organiser of the Ideal Home Show (and the provider of the 'comparison survey' which lazy journos cut'n'pasted), said :

"It's amazing to see how much we have changed since the 1955 Good Wife's Guide was written."

Well, yes.

And we have changed ... not very much - given that the Good Wife's Guide was knocked up around 1990.

UPDATE - Sam Tarran reports that the Good Wife's Guide is being used now, in his state school's English AS level course, as an illustration of attitudes to women in the 1950s.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The "Big Man" Steps Down

Some called him a saviour, a man sent by God to succour his people and defend them from a murderous and merciless enemy. Others called him a bigoted rabble-rouser and declared that his fiery oratory gave rise to bloody deeds on the streets.

But love him or loathe him - and there were plenty who did one or the other - he bestrode the political scene of his native land like some Titan of elder days. Whatever you thought, he was not a man you could ignore.

Yes, Lee Jasper has resigned.

Mr Gilligan's homework has been richly rewarded. Standard editor Veronica Wadley will be cracking open the Lidl Prosecco tonight.

His approach has been that of a chess player, planning several steps ahead and trying to anticipate the responses of the Mayor to the Evening Standard's stories. So after spending more than four weeks investigating a network of 11 companies and organisations, linked to Livingstone's race adviser Lee Jasper, that were in receipt of around £2.5m in public money but allegedly did little for it, Gilligan deliberately held back large amounts of material from his initial report.

"One of the most important things in this is to plan for the counterattack, because this is an extremely damaging story to Livingstone. We knew he would say it was all lies and there would be the inevitable dash of Lord Hutton thrown in. We held quite a lot of our evidence back. He's not a cautious politician, and we knew he would shoot his mouth off straight away. And then we rolled out more of our other evidence. He fell right into the trap in an absolutely amazing way."

The Mayor responded to the Standard's accusations by quoting Hutton's comment that "I have considerable doubt as to how reliable Gilligan's evidence really is" and insinuating that the stories were politically motivated and racist.

Apparently Boris gave him a job on the Speccie when his credit was low following the Hutton Report. He's certainly grateful.

So, whither Lee Jasper ? At Harry's Place they're saying he'll be back the day after Ken wins - if he wins.

He's been around a long time - I first heard him on a Five Live phone-in - one of those "how racist are we ?" discussions - when he was apparently a social worker from Bradford. There's some interesting background on the various three-men-and-a-fax anti-racist organisations with which he's been involved, as well as the politics and personalities, in this pdf - Black Politics and the web of Joined-Up Governance.

Lee's USP was for years, like Arthur Lisch, the "riot-on-the-street-unless" approach. And he seemed to be able to deliver - even when being paid £500 a day (in 1995 - you can see how the Lawrence report a few years later was kicking at an open door) to lecture the Met on diversity, he found time to make a "hardline speech which inflamed the crowd" preceding the 1995 Brixon riots.

Ken Livingstone stopped his radical mouth with taxpayer gold - and to be fair, Lee delivered on his side of the bargain. Black Britain, unlike brown Britain, has been remarkably riot-free in the last dozen years (there is a debate as to whether, post-Scarman, the police just left the criminals to get on with it, but that's too big a subject for this post). You could just imagine Lee outside a police station after the Menezes shootings, but he's been quiet as a mouse. And the Met's Trident operation IS actually reducing gun deaths - admittedly stabbings are up, but the once customary background anti-police chorus from black "community leaders" is absent nowadays. Some people would say he was cheap at the price.

If Ken falls at the last, and Lee decides that it's time to put the radical tam back on, he'll find a different scene. The Afro-Caribbean population is pretty static (this doc suggests that Afro-Caribbeans were 0.9% of the youth population but had 2.7% of the abortions among that age group) while the Asian population is growing. Power relations on the streets are changing - in the 1980s Birmingham riots Asian shopkeepers died, but in their 2005 counterpart the only fatalities were black. Nonetheless there is potential for trouble - particularly in North and South London.

We shall see. One other possibility is joining the lovely Karen in forming some kind of UK counterpart to Jesse Jackson's US shakedown operations. After all, what Jesse does isn't so far away from what we've seen over here.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Those mysterious French youths are at it again.

As this french lefty site reports :

"... youths vandalised a bakery in a northerly Île de la France region centred on Paris and subsequently attacked the police who responded with lead bullets and molatov cocktails ..."

Tragically it wasn't the police responding with lead bullets, it was the "youth" attacking the police with "lead bullets" - shotguns to be exact.

I must remember this useful line - it's better then the traditional "it's awful, but ..."

The violence should indeed be denounced, but the sentiment... not at all.

Is it possible that this site is a comedy site ? Probably just bad English, but what can you make of :

"Both Successive Socialist and right wing governments have neglected this problem of social deprivation and should be lauded for their behaviour."

Woooahhh !

Lufthansa Airbus with 130 passengers in high crosswinds at Hamburg on the weekend.

Gleaned from the Youtube comments : There are two runways, 05/23 and 15/33 at Hamburg at 90% to each other - one has ILS and the other doesn't. The control tower only offered the ILS runway 23. After the near-miss the plane landed safely into the wind on the other runway.

The planespotters comments translated :

Ohhh, this nearly went wrong!
-You know what I believe? ..they'll stop those landings here soon (
i.e. on this runway - LT).
- I think so too.
-Have you seen that? I think the wing touched the bottom.
- Looked like..

A Few Daffodils From The Curate's Garden

Remember the famous 'one woman in four a victim of domestic violence' stat, oft-quoted but never sourced ?

Apparently in the States one female student in four is a victim of rape.

Famous children's author Jacqueline Wilson (Laban's take is here) takes liberal hypocrisy into hyperspace.

Children's author Dame Jacqueline Wilson has expressed concern that youngsters are growing up too quickly. "I think children act like adults at an alarmingly early age," said the Tracy Beaker creator.

And Ms Wilson's contribution to this happy situation ?

"Nearly all the children in my books want to wear make-up and dye their hair and pierce their ears. Most of my fictional teenagers want to stay out as late as possible and drink alcohol".

I'm reading a Victorian teenager's book at the moment - the 1835 edition of Mary Martha Sherwood's "The History of Susan Gray". Just a slight contrast.

What's also remarkable about the children's fiction of the past is the standard of English a child's expected to read at. As a bored seven-year old I can remember struggling with my uncle's childhood copy of R.M. Ballantyne's 'The Coral Island', with its fascinating (to a seven year old) descriptions of cannibalism. Looking at it the other day I was astonished at how dense the text was, how convoluted the sentences. Many teenagers would find it hard going now. Yet it was written for children and was highly successful.

The "National" health service continues to get less national - though perhaps more nationalist - by the day.

Patients, staff and visitors will be able to park for free at almost every NHS hospital in Wales by the end of 2011.

And while I don't agree with everything in the post, there's a truth here which applies on both sides of the Atlantic :

The last Depression we endured took place in a country with enviable natural resources, a large and growing industrial capacity, and blessed with a population familiar with discipline, thrift, and the deferral of gratification. The next depression, Kunstler predicts, “will play out against the background of a society that has p****d away its oil endowment, bulldozed its factories, arbitraged its productive labor, destroyed both family farms and the commercial infrastructure of main street, and trained its population to become overfed diabetic TV zombie `consumers’ of other peoples’ productivity, paid for by `money’ they haven’t earned.”

The ongoing California unpleasantness between black and Latino (see this post) is in City Journal - in other words the realities are close to becoming known in the mainstream, rather than solely being the subject of bloggers like Face Right.

"The Rainbow Coalition Evaporates"

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Steve Hall

I've mentioned this guy before (I don't think the picture's of him) as an interesting CiF contributor (and rising media star - I heard him on 'The Long View' last year) posting as "questionnaire". Background - I think *stereotype* a hippy musician from working class background who found he could talk to the rough boys without them beating him up - and he's been doing it ever since */stereotype*. He's an academic criminologist who thinks that rising crime isn't a function of the number of copies of the Daily Mail sold, doesn't believe in the "moral panic" theory - what's not to like, you say ?

So we're both agreed that the UK is going to hell in a handcart. As he puts it "what we see now is a politico-culturally disestablished residue consisting of a majority of thoroughly decent people trying to stop their world collapsing entirely and watching too many of their younger generation turn to crime and drugs.".

Trouble is he thinks it's all been arranged by those nasty capitalists. Laban returns to the charge :

Oh no ! Questionnaire's back in the ring blaming it all on some capitalist conspiracy !

"The British working class's project of political and mythological unity, begun in the mid-19th century"

Well, where to start. No "project" was "begun" in the mid-19th century. It's just that the communications, for the first time in history, existed which ENABLED a critical mass of the working class to become aware of themselves as a class in solidarity with their fellows in other parts of the country. Before mid-19c trades unionism or other working class activism was of necessity localised - prior attempts at national organisation like the Grand National Consolidated Trade Union had failed. The same communications that enabled people to get regular news, or to get up to town for the Great Exhibition, produced both a more cohesive, informed and opinionated public and a more cohesive and informed workers movement.

Question thinks that something's been organised since the 60s - that "capitalism" had a project to destroy the British working class - and that Felix Dennis, for example, was more than just someone who wanted to get rich and get laid.

I think Occam's razor is useful here.

Most of the losses (which are real and which we both mourn) - "this sense of collective identity, history, a meaning system, a comprehensible ethical system (symbolic order), a function, a role, a sense of self-respect" of the British working classes can be explained by the collapse in Christian belief and observance from the top (and starting there) to the bottom of UK society. The culture of Attlee's Britain is gone.

In the questionnaire thesis the disappearance of the existing culture seems, if of any consequence at all, only important in terms of its side-effects - that comprehensible ethical system. Both Marx and Engels agreed on the importance of Christianity to the relative peace and order of 19thC Britain - but Questionnaire's thesis requires some "project" - to explain something that can already be explained without it.

Two questions, questionnaire. Only 20 years before the 60s started and 'liberal-consumer-capitalism' took off, Harold Nicolson was noting in his war diaries the remarkable patriotism of British capitalists, and saying that they would rather go down in ruin with their countrymen than do a deal with Hitler. Yet by your thesis 20 years later they were plotting to destroy their countrymen to make more money. What changed in the ensuing 20 years ?

Secondly. You think it's some capitalist project. I think it's down to culture - to the collapse of the old, vaguely patriotic, vaguely Christian, commonsensical culture that shines brightest from the writings of ordinary working people, not from any elite, in the 19th and 20th centuries.

You are paid by the capitalist state to sit in a university department and write about crime - and good stuff to read it is too. But you also in your writings make no secret about your 'it's capitalism wot done it' thesis - which is apparently the cause of all the woes you and I deplore.

Yet the paychecks come in, and the index-linked pension, funded by the working men and women of the UK, is safe. You get asked by the State broadcaster to appear on Radio Four.

I on the other hand think it's all down to culture. I'm self employed. Because I sometimes do work for the Government and have to sign the Official Secrets Act, and because I have a large family to support, I feel, rightly or wrongly, that I have to blog anonymously.

If these capitalists are so clever, and you've sussed them, how come you're still in a job ?

I'll let you know what he says.