Saturday, December 11, 2010

Charlie Gilmour - The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Julia is a very perceptive woman. She commented yesterday :

"Well, good grief! The BBC News just ran an interview with Charlie Gilmour, made on the day, before they knew who he was, or what he'd done, and it's pretty clear he's either functionally retarded, or was drunk or stoned at the time."

Not found the BBC video, but take a look at this. He certainly seems to be off his face.

"Forward, break the lines, forward unto death !" With a heroic effort Laban refrains from the obvious response.

Julia : "No doubt Daddy's PR team wrote that statement for him..."

Today's Mail :

"Last night, Gilmour issued a statement through his father's PR firm."

The Mail story also quotes a "friend" - presumably some Facebook friend - as follows:

"Charlie was on acid when he ripped the flag at the Cenotaph. He boasted about being on drugs on his Facebook afterwards but later took down the posts about acid."

Hat-tip to commenter John Horne Tooke at Biased-BBC.

UPDATE - school - Lancing College (via)

UPDATE - you can see how remorseful he was about the trouble at the demo :

and this (via) :

A friend wrote on Gilmour’s Facebook page: “That is you climbing the flag, yes?”

Gilmour replied: “No. Not me. Someone else.

“Whoever it was was obviously on acid and didn’t know what the f*** he was doing and how much of a massive f***ing backlash there would be…”

The pal wrote, “My mistake” – to which Gilmour replied: “My big f***ing mistake.”

UPDATE - this photo from the Mail today - obviously not someone who was looking for trouble. The rock is just a pose and the latex gloves aren't at all the sort of thing you'd find useful when you're doing some 'free shopping' ...

Photo: Steve Burton / Daily Mail.

"Charlie Gilmour has admitted being close to the car carrying the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall when it was ambushed by paint-throwing demonstrators in Regent Street. At 8.10pm, less than an hour after the attack on the Royal limousine, he was filmed by the BBC outside Topshop in Oxford Street, half-hiding a woman’s lace-up boot under his coat."

UPDATE - the Sun :

"Another picture showed him apparently trying to light a fire by the doors of the Supreme court on Parliament Square. "

Photo : The Sun/Jeff Moore

Hmm. Gets everywhere, doesn't he ? Busy little bee.

Why on earth didn't Chief Inspector Michael Walsh, one of whose officers stamped out the fire, arrest the twisted firestarter?

Photo : Daily Mail/Jeff Moore

Not that I can't understand the appeal of smashing other people's things up as part of a mob. The sound of breaking glass has an appeal to young men of all classes. It's because it's such fun that we have to have strict laws against it.

Friday, December 10, 2010

After Halloween

Sandy loved the sea, which appears everywhere in her lyrics.

"Oh, the sea has made me cry
But I love her too
So maybe I love you,
But tears are only made of salt and water ..."

Public School Prat

Looks like the Student Grants who trashed Central London yesterday really do fit the trustafarian stereotype :

"Privately-educated Charlie Gilmour, whose Pink Floyd guitarist stepfather is worth £80million, said: 'I would like to express my deepest apologies for the terrible insult to the thousands of people who died bravely for our country that my actions represented. I feel nothing but shame. My intention was not to attack or defile the Cenotaph. Running along with a crowd of people who had just been violently repelled by the police, I got caught up in the spirit of the moment. I did not realise that it was the Cenotaph and if I had, I certainly would not have done what I did. I feel additionally mortified that my moment of idiocy has distracted so much from the message yesterday's protest was trying to send out. Those who are commemorated by the Cenotaph died to protect the very freedoms that allow the people of Britain the right to protest and I feel deeply ashamed to have, although unintentionally and unknowingly, insulted the memory of them.'"

Lying toerag. He's doing history at Cambridge and he doesn't know what the Cenotaph is. And he 'just got caught up'.

He feels nothing but shame that it's all over the papers, that's all. Cretin.

UPDATE - cleverclogs Carol Vorderman tweets "Cowardly little liar".

UPDATE - Julia comments :

"Well, good grief! The BBC News just ran an interview with Charlie Gilmour, made on the day, before they knew who he was, or what he'd done, and it's pretty clear he's either functionally retarded, or was drunk or stoned at the time. If you can catch it on iPlayer, I suggest you watch, and marvel at what passes for a Cambridge-educated student these days. "

Anyone seen this interview and got a copy or a link ?

(I think that's the first ever mention of Twitter on this blog)

Thursday, December 09, 2010

"to take back Andalusia"

Fascinating Wikileaks despatch from Ankara to Washington, December 2004, covering inter alia proposed Turkish membership of the EU (via). The AKP is the (Islamic) ruling Turkish party, Erdogan is Prime Minister, Gul is now President but was then Foreign Minister (FonMin).

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, you may recall, has said that he will 'fight' for Turkey's membership of the EU. Let's hope that's a cast-iron promise.

My views on the Embassy transcriptions are

a) Wikileaks shouldn't have released them. As Dalrymple points out, secrecy, or rather the possibility of secrecy, is not the enemy but the precondition of frankness. As for the US sources quoted, IMHO wikileaks are endangering them.

b) It's not as if they reveal smoking guns, cunning plots or illegal activities (so far) - in which case release might be justifiable - rather they show the US diplomats to be high-calibre and thoughtful people doing their job - to make sense of the rest of the world - to the best of their considerable ability. This task will be much harder now and in that sense Wikileaks action is directed against the US with IMHO no justification. No wonder they're cross and I don't blame them.

c) that doesn't mean I support the harassment of Mr Assange on very dubious charges, supported by a number of useful feminist idiots.

d) Aren't I being hypocritical in quoting them, then ? They're out there. The Turks will certainly have read them - they're all over Turkish blogs. And they throw an interesting light on potential Turkish accession to the EU - an accession which would give the entire Turkish population the right to live and work in the UK.

I don't like it when they build motorways all over the UK, or whack a disgusting dual carriageway down the centre of the Vale of Neath - but I still drive on them, taking the good with the bad. So here.

Emboldening is mine :

¶6. (U) Erdogan indexed his political survival to getting a negotiation date from the EU. He achieved that goal. The Wall Street Journal and other Western and Turkish media have opined that the EU owes Turkey a fair negotiating process leading to accession, with the Journal even putting the onus on the EU by asserting that while Turkey is ready the question is whether Europeans are ready for Turkey.

¶7. (C) But there's always a Monday morning and the debate on the ground here is not so neat. With euphoria at getting a date having faded in 48 hours, Erdogan's political survival and the difficulty of the tasks before him have become
substantially clearer. Nationalists on right and left have resumed accusations that Erdogan sold out Turkish national interests (Cyprus) and Turkish traditions. Core institutions of the Turkish state, which remain at best wary of AKP, have once again begun to probe for weaknesses and to feed insinuations into the press in parallel with the nationalists' assertions. In the face of this Euro-aversion,
neither Erdogan nor his government has taken even minimal steps to prepare the bureaucracy or public opinion to begin tackling the fundamental -- some Turks would say insidious -- legal, social, intellectual and spiritual changes that must
occur to turn harmonization on paper into true reform. The road ahead will surely be hard.

¶8. (U) High-profile naysayers like main opposition CHP chairman Baykal, former Ambassador Gunduz Aktan, and political scientist Hasan Unal continue to castigate Erdogan. But theirs is a routine whine. More significant for us is that many of our contacts cloak their lack of self-confidence at Turkey's ability to join in expressions of skepticism that the EU will let Turkey in. And there is parallel widespread skepticism that the EU will be around in attractive form in ten years.

¶9. (C) The mood in AKP is no brighter, with one of FonMin Gul's MFA advisors having described to UK polcounselor how bruised Turkey feels at the EU's inconsistency during the final negotiations leading to Dec. 17 (EU diplomats in Ankara have given us the other side of the story). Gul was noticeably harder-line than Erdogan in public comments in the lead-up to the Summit, and was harder-line in pre-Summit negotiations in Brussels, according to UK polcounselor.

¶10. (C) AKP's lack of cohesion as a party and lack of openness as a government is reflected in the range of murky, muddled motives for wanting to join the EU we have encountered among those AKPers who say they favor pursuing membership...or at least the process. Some see the process as the way to marginalize the Turkish military and what remains of the arid "secularism" of Kemalism. We have also run into the rarely openly-spoken, but widespread belief among adherents of the Turk-Islam synthesis that Turkey's role is to spread Islam in Europe, "to take back Andalusia and avenge the defeat at the siege of Vienna in 1683" as one participant in a recent meeting at AKP's main think tank put it. This thinking parallels the logic behind the approach of FonMin Gul ally and chief foreign policy advisor in the Prime Ministry Ahmet Davutoglu, whose muddy opinion piece in the Dec. 13 International Herald Tribune is in essence a call for one-way multi-cultural tolerance, i.e., on the part of the EU.

¶11. (C) Those from the more overtly religious side of AKP whinge that the EU is a Christian club. While some assert that it is only through Turkish membership and spread of Turkish values that the world can avoid the clash of civilizations they allege the West is fomenting, others express concern that harmonization and membership will water down Islam and associated traditions in Turkey.

¶12. (C) AKP also faces the nuts-and-bolts issue of how to prepare for harmonization. In choosing a chief negotiator Erdogan will need to decide whether the risks that the man he taps will successfully steal his political limelight outweigh
the political challenge his choice will face since it will be the Turkish chief negotiator's responsibility to sell the EU position to a recalcitrant Turkish cabinet. It is because the chief negotiator is likely to be ground down between EU
demands and a prickly domestic environment that some observers speculate Erdogan might give the job to his chief internal rival Gul.

¶13. (C) At the same time the government must reportedly hire a couple thousand people skilled in English or other major EU languages and up to the bureaucratic demands of interfacing with the Eurocrats who descend on ministries as harmonization starts. If the government continues to hire on the basis of
"one of us", i.e., from the Sunni brotherhood and lodge milieu that has been serving as the pool for AKP's civil service hiring, lack of competence will be a problem. If the government hires on the base of competence, its new hires
will be frustrated by the incompetence of AKP's previous hires at all levels.


¶17. (C) Inside the party, Erdogan's hunger for power reveals itself in a sharp authoritarian style and deep distrust of others: as a former spiritual advisor to Erdogan and his wife Emine put it, "Tayyip Bey believes in God...but doesn't trust
him." In surrounding himself with an iron ring of sycophantic (but contemptuous) advisors, Erdogan has isolated himself from a flow of reliable information, which partially explains his failure to understand the context -- or real facts -- of the U.S. operations in Tel Afar, Fallujah, and elsewhere and his susceptibility to Islamist theories...
Erdogan's other foreign policy advisors (Cuneyd Zapsu, Egemen Bagis, Omer Celik, along with Mucahit Arslan and chef de cabinet Hikmet Bulduk) are despised as inadequate, out of touch and corrupt by all our AKP contacts from ministers to
MPs and party intellectuals.


¶21. (S) Third is corruption. AKP swept to power by promising to root out corruption. However, in increasing numbers AKPers from ministers on down, and people close to the party, are telling us of conflicts of interest or serious corruption
in the party at the national, provincial and local level and among close family members of ministers. We have heard from two contacts that Erdogan has eight accounts in Swiss banks; his explanations that his wealth comes from the wedding
presents guests gave his son and that a Turkish businessman is paying the educational expenses of all four Erdogan children in the U.S. purely altruistically are lame.

¶22. (S) Among the many figures mentioned to us as prominently involved in corruption are Minister of Interior Aksu, Minister of Foreign Trade Tuzmen, and AKP Istanbul provincial chairman Muezzinoglu. As we understand it from a contact in the intel directorate of Turkish National Police, a continuing investigation into Muezzinoglu's extortion racket and other activities has already produced evidence incriminating Erdogan. In our contacts across Anatolia we
have detected no willingness yet at the grassroots level to look closely at Erdogan or the party in this regard, but the trend is a time bomb.


Two Big Questions

¶24. (C) Turkey's EU bid has brought forth reams of pronouncements and articles -- Mustafa Akyol's Gulenist-tinged "Thanksgiving for Turkey" in Dec. 27 Weekly
Standard is one of the latest -- attempting to portray Islam in Turkey as distinctively moderate and tolerant with a strong mystical (Sufi) underpinning. Certainly, one can see in Turkey's theology faculties some attempts to wrestle with
the problems of critical thinking, free will, and precedent (ictihad), attempts which, compared to what goes on in theology faculties in the Arab world, may appear relatively progressive.

¶25. (C) However, the broad, rubber-meets-the-road reality is that Islam in Turkey is caught in a vise of (1) 100 years of "secular" pressure to hide itself from public view, (2) pressure and competition from brotherhoods and lodges to
follow their narrow, occult "true way", and (3) the faction-and positivism-ridden aridity of the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet). As a result, Islam as it is lived in Turkey is stultified, riddled with hypocrisy, ignorant and intolerant of other religions' presence in Turkey, and unable to eject those who would politicize it in a radical, anti-Western way. Imams are for the most part poorly educated and all too ready to insinuate anti-Western,
anti-Christian or anti-Jewish sentiments into their sermons.
Exceptionally few Muslims in Turkey have the courage to challenge conventional Sunni thinking about jihad or, e.g., verses in the Repentance shura of the Koran which have for so long been used to justify violence against "infidels".

¶26. (C) The problem is compounded by the willingness of politicians such as Gul to play elusively with politicized Islam. Until Turkey ensures that the humanist strain in Islam prevails here, Islam in Turkey will remain a troubled, defensive force, hypocritical to an extreme degree and unwilling to adapt to the challenges of open society.

¶27. (C) A second question is the relation of Turkey and its citizens to history -- the history of this land and citizens' individual history. Subject to rigid taboos, denial, fears, and mandatory gross distortions, the study of history and practice of historiography in the Republic of Turkey remind one of an old Soviet academic joke: the faculty party chief assembles his party cadres and, warning against various ideological threats, proclaims, "The future is certain. It's only that damned past that keeps changing."

¶28. (C) Until Turkey can reconcile itself to its past, including the troubling aspects of its Ottoman past, in free and open debate, how will Turkey reconcile itself to the
concept and practice of reconciliation in the EU? How will it have the self confidence to take decisions and formulate policies responsive to U.S. interests? Some in AKP are joining what is still only a handful of others to take tentative, but nonetheless inspiring, steps in this regard. However, the road ahead will require a massive overhaul of education, the introduction and acceptance of rule of law, and a fundamental redefinition of the relation between citizen and state. In the words of the great (Alevi) Anatolian bard Asik Veysel, this is a "long and delicate road."

UPDATE - just to be even handed, here are the Tel Aviv cables. Interesting one on Israeli organised crime, adding new insights to the chapter on Israel in Misha Glenny's McMafia, which mostly focuses on the Russia connection. I note that the recent assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist (by magnetic bomb attached to his car from a passing motorcycle) was a clone of the 2008 Tel Aviv killing of crime boss Yaakov Alperon.

Quote of the Day

Snafu at Not Proud of Britain :

"We don't care what charges you arrest Assange on, just don't cable the details to Hillary Clinton..."

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Publicans Gone Wild

The young ladies and gentlemen (and catering staff) of the Royal Grammar School, Worcester, demonstrate the latest dance 'craze' sweeping the nation's youth. Apparently, since the England cricket side popularised The Sprinkler, the Watusi and the Hully-Gully do not 'cut it' and are no longer 'where it's at'.

(The school wasn't always the home of gilded youth. An ancient foundation, it was IIRC a state-funded grammar school until the early 1970s, when Worcestershire went comprehensive and Bromsgrove County High School became North Bromsgrove High School. RGS, independent though state-funded, picked up their ball and went private.)

What's The Story Here ?

Two Asian guys, one unknown, the other Amir Ali from Ridge Road in Crouch End, firebomb with comic ineptitude a pub in West Sussex - the Imperial, in Crawley, in the early hours. While the video is highly entertaining, what are they doing so far from home and who's paying them ?

a/c/t Mail :

Recorder John Hardy QC told Ali his offence was at the top end of the scale, despite the fact his ineptitude had thankfully meant it was doomed to failure.

He said: 'On that day, for whatever reason, you became embroiled in a planned and calculated attack which was part of a campaign of violence and intimidation by the local drug lords in Crawley against the licensees of this pub.'

I know Crawley has quite a considerable Asian population, and I'd hazard a guess that the people who hired Ali come from the same community. Is this a case of heroic landlord keeping the dealers out and being attacked for it, is it a turf war or what ? I'm afraid I'm hopelessly out of touch with the Crawley drugs scene, not to mention the bewildering ethnic patchwork of a town that 40 years ago was almost a byword for boring English respectability.

It was firebombed again last month with little damage. It's a modern (1978) pub on a modern shopping parade (described as 'run-down') on a modern estate. I get the impression there's a lot of social housing and some of the usual issues associated therewith (you're unusually mealy-mouthed tonight, Laban).

The Knowhere Guide is instructive - the Imperial seems to be, at least by comparison, not a bad place to drink in - and I get the impression from a local blogger that the landlord and customers are OK, despite the pub apparently having a 'bad press'.

"If you want a good night out and your staying quit far from the town centre, you can go and visit The Imperial (at the broadfield shops) It is a good place to chat and drink away together with the good old broadfield people. As many people know broadfield is quit voilent, but visiting The Imperial does not get you involved, because most of the trouble-makers are under age and are not allowed in the pub (so they just stand on the street having noting else to do, but causing trouble) The people working in the Imperial and visiting the pub always look after everyone in the pub. They accept you for who you are and where your from."

"the imperial has a bad reputation but it is a lovely place in the summer, where people from all ethnic backgrounds get together. "

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Ken Clarke - Management By Cost Centre

For "Rehabilitation Revolution" read "20% cost reduction".

They've been trying rehabilitation ever since the 1950s :

"We all know Grendon's the prison of the future; loving and understanding and getting to know the prisoners is now official policy, not only of the Home Office but of the Prison Officers' Association as well. If you say you don't approve of it, down it'll go in your record; and when you come up for consideration for promotion, you'll find you've been unaccountably passed by."

With conspicuous lack of success :

"They said I was a product of my environment and upbringing. That made me feel it wasn't my fault, so the last person that I looked at was me and that's the first place I needed to look."

But Ken don't care about that. He's been given a job to do - to cut the cost of the Prison Service and the criminal justice system - and by God he's going to do it. That's what makes him the reliable chap that he is, and such a useful man to have in Government. A lesser - or shall we say less useful - man might have argued the toss, pointed out that defending the lives, property and liberty of the citizens is the primary duty of any state, reminded Cameron of the association (however undeserved, if we look at the 1980s) in the public mind of the Conservative Party with a robust attitude to crime and criminals, dug in his toes and defended his budget. Not Ken. It doesn't matter that

a) the costs will be transferred from the State to individuals - in the form of burglaries and assaults for many, rape, bodily harm and homicides for the unfortunate, insurance premiums for householders, quality of life for everyone.

b) these costs will in total be much greater than the amount saved.

c) they will fall most heavily upon the poor and vulnerable. I doubt Ken will be troubled by too much anti-social behaviour in whichever expensive village his mansion is located.

I told you the honeymoon would be short.

The only action of this government which really raised my spirits was a symbolic one - Cameron's refusal to take off his poppy when he found himself in China on Remembrance Day. The Chinese, showing an uncharacteristic botanical ignorance, confused Papaver Rhoeas, as worn by Cameron, with Papaver Somniferum, as forcibly sold to China in one of the less heroic chapters of our history.

For a moment the unconquerable spirit of Private John Moyse flickered - and Cameron followed it up with a visit the following day to the memorial at Imjin in South Korea, where fifty-nine years ago the Glorious Glosters, facing overwhelming odds and eventually overrun, killed and wounded several thousand troops of the People's Republic of China, saving Seoul thereby at the Battle of the Imjin River.