Monday, 31 March 2008

Snouts in the trough, part 94,000

MPs claim more taxpayers' money for their second home allowance than necessary because they see the upper limit of £23,000 as a "target to aim for", a former minister has admitted.

Labour's Chris Mullin, a highly respected member of Parliament's standards watchdog, said it was "human nature" that MPs would claim as much as they could get away with.

He is the first MP to reveal the Additional Cost Allowance, which helps MPs to run a second home close to Parliament, is seen as an automatic entitlement and not a way to reimburse legitimate expense.

Mr Mullin, a senior backbencher who was a Foreign Office minister in Tony Blair's government, made his outburst during a Commons debate.

Calling for the allowance to be frozen until it is worth the same in real terms as in 2001 - about £14,000 a year - he said: "Spending the entire allowance has become a target to be aimed for, rather than recompense for expenses legitimately incurred.

"Human nature being what it is people tend to spend up to the limit of what they are allowed to spend."

About three-quarters of MPs claimed within a few hundred pounds of the maximum in 2006-07. Mr Mullin was among the lowest-claiming, receiving £13,591.

Personally, I'd be quite happy to abolish the second home allowance (and plenty of their other perks) altogether, and let them fund their own lifestyles, out of their own, far from inconsiderable, salaries. But, failing this, Chris Mullin's proposal to reduce the amount they can claim seems like a good idea.

I'd also suggest that, even if we don't end the payment of all second home allowances, we at least end the payment of such allowances to MPs who live within easy commuting distance (by which I mean, fifty miles or so) of Westminster, thereby ending the ridiculous and offensive spectacle of MPs with constituencies in Greater London claiming hefty allowances for the maintenance of Central London second homes. Of course, this is not going to happen, because while I say that "we" should reduce/abolish their allowances, it is in fact the MPs themselves who set the payment level. And I rather doubt that they will vote to scale down the gravy train.

Ultimately, what Chris Mullin's revelations demonstrate, once again, is that the vast majority of MPs simply see their position, not as an opportunity to serve their country and constituents, but as a chance to "get rich quick", preferably without the public, who pay for it all, ever realising. They don't even see anything wrong in claiming money for expenses they haven't incurred; rather, they regard it as an "entitlement" - as one of the perks of the job. Personally, I regard it as embezzlement, morally, if not legally.

It may be a cliche, but comparing avaricious MPs to gluttonous pigs really is an apt analogy, except that at least when pigs get their snouts in the trough they don't try to suppress this fact with taxpayer-funded legal challenges, and they don't maintain a hypocritical pretence that by feeding at the trough they are performing some necessary public service. And the pigs would probably make a better job of running the country, as well...

Sunday, 30 March 2008

Nanny Jowell: hypocrite!

A week ago I mentioned the news that Labour MPs Sadiq Khan and Andrew Slaughter had been caught campaigning to keep post offices in their constituencies open, while voting in favour of the government's plans to shut thousands of post offices nationwide. Now, I read that Tessa "Nanny" Jowell has been doing the same thing:
Tessa Jowell has been accused of "breathtaking cynicism" after she vowed to keep her local post office open despite voting in Parliament for its closure.

The Labour Minister attended a demonstration in support of the branch in Herne Hill, South London, only last week, and accepted a 3,000-signature petition from its customers.

At the event, she pledged to "go on campaigning to keep your post office open until its future is secure".

But just one week earlier, Miss Jowell, Labour's Olympics spokesman and MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, voted in favour of a Government scheme that will see 2,500 post office branches shut across the country - including hers.

Postscript: The Telegraph has full details (almost - they missed out Andrew Slaughter) of how the ninety Labour MPs who have been campaigning against post office closures in their constituencies voted when the matter came before parliament. I particularly note that among the numerous hypocrites was that paragon of virtue, Keith Vaz. Vaz has been making great play of resisting post office closures in his Leicester East constituency, but he still voted to shut them all down in parliament. Still, what more do you expect from the smarmy little toad?

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Will you tell the liberals, or shall I?

Ten years of record immigration to Britain has produced virtually no economic benefits for the country, a parliamentary inquiry has found.

A House of Lords committee, which is due to report next Tuesday, will call into question Government claims that foreign workers add £6 billion each year to the wealth of the nation.

It is expected to say this must be balanced against the increase in population and their use of local services such as health and education, resulting in little benefit per head of the population.

"Our overall conclusion is that the economic benefits of net immigration to the resident population are small and close to zero in the long run," the report will say.

The findings of the Lords economics committee threaten to demolish the key argument made by ministers to justify the highest levels of immigration in the country's history.

The inquiry by the committee, which includes two former chancellors and several former Cabinet ministers, is the first to try to balance the costs and benefits of large-scale immigration.


A Whitehall paper produced for the committee said average output growth over the past five years was 2.7 per cent a year and migration contributed an estimated 15 to 20 per cent of this. The Government said this indicated a contribution of £6 billion - or £700,000 a day- from foreign workers.

However, the committee's final report is expected to say the Government should have focused on the impact of immigration on GDP per head, not the economy as a whole.

David Coleman, a professor of demography at Oxford University, said in his evidence to the committee that the Government had excluded costs from crime, security, the race relations process, health "tourism" and imported ailments such as TB.

My own objections to mass immigration are, as I have made clear many times before, centred upon the cultural, religious, and (dare I say it?) ethnic change that it brings, and the social problems that will arise in the future as a result of these changes, as well as the essentially undemocratic way in which the political elite has foisted mass immigration upon this country, without ever seeking the consent of the public. Even if there were short-term economic benefits to be had from mass immigration, I would still say that these were outweighed by the long-term social costs. Having said that, economic factors are clearly an important consideration, so I am glad to see that the arguments of those in favour of mass immigration apparently fail on this count as well.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Fitna removed

Oh well, free speech was good while it lasted. Both versions of Geert Wilders' film have been removed from LiveLeak, and replaced with the following message:
The Removal of "Fitna": Official Liveleak Statement

Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature, and some ill informed comments from certain members of the British media that could directly affect the safety of some staff members, Liveleak has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers.

This is a sad day for freedom of speech on the net but we have to place the safety and well being of our staff above all else. We would like to thank the thousands of people from all backgrounds and religions, who gave us their support. They realised is a vehicle for many opinions and not just for the support of one.

Perhaps there is still hope that this situation may produce a discussion that could benefit and educate all of us as to how we can accept one another’s culture.

We stood for what we believe in, the ability to be heard, but in the end the price was too high.
I'm not sure what the "ill informed comments from certain members of the British media that could directly affect the safety of some staff members" were. But I think that we can all guess where the threats of violence came from. A "Religion of Peace" indeed!

I don't blame LiveLeak for taking the film down: if they felt that there was a real risk of violence ensuing then they clearly have a duty not to compromise the safety of their staff. Indeed, they deserve praise for showing Fitna in the first place, when so many other media organisations were doing all they could to prevent the film from being seen. I do not, however, share their hope that "this situation may produce a discussion that could benefit and educate all of us as to how we can accept one another’s culture". I for one have no intention of accepting Islam, and see absolutely no reason why I should.

But what this really demonstrates is the extent to which it has become virtually impossible, in European countries, to criticise or challenge Islam. To do so is, as has been demonstrated time and again, to put one's very life at risk. Surely the speed with which LiveLeak has been forced to remove the film should serve to demonstrate that Islam is not like other religions, but is a threat to all the values of Western Civilisation.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Fitna released

Geert Wilders' anti-Islam film, Fitna, is finally out, after months of delays, and, well, to say that it's "gone viral" would, I think, be something of an understatement. Having been released earlier today, the Dutch-language version is, at the time of writing, pushing two million views, while the English-language version is at just over 1.1million views. To put this in context, when I wrote about the film over at ATW about an hour ago, the Dutch-language version was at 1.6million views, and the English-language version at 780,000. So that's roughly 700,000 viewers in the last hour alone! It's certainly one in the eye for all those - and there were many - who had hoped to ensure that this film never saw the light of day!

I've written more about the film itself in my ATW post, which can be read here, but, since the film's the main thing, here it is (please note that, as is made clear at the start of the film, some of the images used are pretty explicit):

Sunday, 23 March 2008

What a NUT!

Some readers may recall the name of Baljeet Ghale, the former president of the National Union of Teachers, who last year complained that the government's plans to teach a watered-down set of platitudes, under the general (and generally misleading) designation of "Britishness", were "racist". Well, Ms Ghale has now been replaced as NUT president by one Bill Greenshields, whose old school far-leftism makes Ghale's liberal-left talking points seem positively sane, rational, and benign:

The new head of Britain’s biggest teaching union has called for the private education system to be nationalised.

Bill Greenshields, incoming president of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said such a move would improve state education and make it fairer.

"Fairer" = everyone receives an equally bad education.

The NUT, the most left-wing of the teaching unions...
Which really is saying something!
...has long been hostile to independent education and to Labour’s programme of setting up academies with private-sector sponsors to replace failing schools.

But Greenshields’s comments to the union’s annual conference in Manchester yesterday went one step further.

“Let’s consider our own direction of travel – from private to public, towards bringing all schools into the state sector,” he said. “Then we would soon see some urgent improvements in our state system.”
No, you wouldn't. The existence of private schools does not harm standards in the state sector. Rather, as I wrote when the writer Alan Bennett made similar remarks back in January, it is banning private schools which really would harm the education of millions of children. After all, since chippy little leftists like Greenshields and Bennett are correct in believing that most private schools offer a better education than most state schools, the inevitable consequence of 615,000 pupils being forced to leave their private school, and go instead to the local comp, would be that the majority of those 615,000 children would experience a lower standard of education than they are getting at the moment.
Of course, for crypto-communists like Greenshields, the quality of the education received by the children of the bourgeois capitalist oppressors is probably not a matter of any great concern. But transferring an extra 615,000 children into the state sector would also cause huge disruption to the many thousands of state schools which would find these extra pupils thrust upon them, which would hardly be to the advantage of any of the existing pupils (or, indeed, their teachers).

But what creatures like Greenshields really want is not an increase in standards. Instead, they simply want to assuage their own feelings of envious resentment, by dragging everyone else down into the gutter with them. And they attempt to conceal their resentment and bitterness, by slapping the label "fairness" upon it all, as if that makes harming the education of millions of children - not to mention restricting the right of parents to educate their children in whatever manner they see fit - perfectly alright.

I doubt that any government would be mad enough to actually do what Greenshields proposes. For a start, too many hypocritical champagne socialists (Diane Abbott, anyone?) have their own offspring privately educated. But what is worrying is that a huge number of teachers must surely share Greenshields's deranged views. After all, it was they who voted him into his position, not to mention Baljeet Ghale before him. Which surely begs the question, would you want these far-left NUTters teaching your kids?

Hat-tip: David Vance

Hypocrites of the Day

The seventy plus Labour MPs who told their constituents one thing, and then did the exact opposite:
Labour MPs are being criticised for voting against plans to suspend post office closures in Parliament before going back to their local constituencies to protest against the cuts.

Andrew Slaughter, the MP for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush in west London, is the latest to be accused of hypocrisy.

He voted against Conservative plans to suspend Post Office closures at 7.15pm on Wednesday. Thirty minutes later, he was addressing an open meeting at Hammersmith Town Hall to protest against the closures.

Greg Hands, the Conservative MP in neighbouring Hammersmith and Fulham, who was at the meeting, said: "He appeared with me and stood there and decried the local post office closures and even said he would back Ken Livingstone's judicial review.

"He came out with a mealy-mouthed line like he saw the need to close some post offices but disagreed with the choice of closures locally. Even in these times reeking of hypocrisy, it is surely one of the swiftest volte-faces ever."

It had already emerged that Sadiq Khan, the Labour MP for Tooting, voted against the suspension before addressing a meeting to speak out against post office closures.

The Daily Mail reports that Khan was jeered when he spoke at the meeting in his constituency. At least that's something, although I must say that I wouldn't have been satisfied with anything less than pelting him with rancid tomatoes, and possibly tarring and feathering him for good measure. The same goes for Andrew Slaughter, and, it would seem, a great abundance of other Labour MPs:

At least 90 Labour MPs - one in four of the Parliamentary party - have campaigned locally against closures. Several members of the Cabinet are among them. However, only 19 backbenchers rebelled against the Government in Wednesday's vote.

So the remaining seventy-one or so also campaigned against closures, and then voted for them. Forget "Hypocrites of the Day" - this lot would stand a good chance of getting "Hypocrites of the Year"!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Courage and spinelessness

In its first session since last week's general elections, the new Iranian parliament is expected to discuss a law that will condemn to death anyone who decides to leave the Muslim faith and convert to other religions.

The parliament, also known as the Majlis, will debate the new law which has been presented by the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Under the proposed law, anyone who is born to Muslim parents and decides to convert to another faith, will face the death penalty.
But...I heard Islam was a Religion of Peace. Where is the moderate, tolerant Islam we keep hearing about?
Currently converts, particularly those who have decided to leave the Muslim faith for Evangelical churches, are arrested and then released after some years of detention.
Ah, there it is.
According to unofficial sources, in the past five years, one million Iranians, particularly young people and women, have abandoned Islam and joined Evangelical churches.

This phenomenon has surprised even the missionaries who carry out their activities in secret in Iran.

An Evangelical priest and former Muslim in Iran told Adnkronos International (AKI) that the conversions were "interesting, enthusiastic but very dangerous".

"The high number of conversions is the reason that the government has decided to make the repression of Christians official with this new law," said the priest on condition of anonymity.

"Often we get to know about a new community that has been formed, after a lot of time, given that the people gather in homes to pray and often with rituals that they invent without any real spiritual guide," he told AKI.

"We find ourselves facing what is more than a conversion to the Christian faith," he said. "It's a mass exodus from Islam."
The total population of Iran is roughly 70 million, of whom 98% are Muslims, of one kind or another (at least officially). Clearly, the conversion of one million people, or 1.4% of the total population, is not going to have an immediate Earth-shattering impact upon the religious make-up of Iran. But it is significant, taking place over a period of just five years, and in the face of such severe persecution of those who do convert. Certainly, it must be worrying the Mullahs, if they want to start executing Christian converts!

But what really struck me about this story related not so much to the future religious direction of Iran, as to the contrast between the courage of these Iranian Christians, and the spinelessness displayed by so many of our own "Christian leaders". In Iran, these brave people are putting their freedom, and, potentially, their lives, at risk in order to reject Islam and embrace Christianity. Meanwhile in Britain, the Canon Chancellor of Blackburn Cathedral expresses his gratitude for Ramadan, the Bishop of Oxford describes plans to broadcast the Adhan - the Islamic call to prayer - over the city as "enjoyable community diversity", and congregations dwindle as churches close and reopen as mosques.

Hat-tip: Gates of Vienna

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Eshaq Khan guilty

In January I wrote about the allegations that Slough Tory councillor Eshaq Khan had been indulging in a spot of vote-rigging. At that time, the hearing into Khan's conduct was still ongoing. Now, however, the election court has reached its verdict, concluding that Khan did indeed engage in large-scale vote-rigging:
...Khan was found guilty at a special High Court election hearing in Slough council chamber of corrupt and illegal practices to secure his election. He was stripped of his seat and banned from standing for office for five years. He now faces a police inquiry.

Khan, 50, won his marginal seat in Central Ward after his team registered hundreds of “ghost voters” in the month before the election and cast votes using fraudulent postal ballots.

He and his team compounded the fraud with a botched cover-up that included poorly forged tenancy agreements and statements from bogus voters, and an attempt to intimidate a witness. Thames Valley Police said that it would widen its inquiry into the case in light of the judge’s accusations of perjury and attempts to pervert the course of justice by supporters of Khan.

Three people have been arrested in connection with the case. Police have interviewed another three. The Times understands that they include Khan and a leading figure in his campaign, Mohammed Basharat Khan.

The election team registered fictitious voters at derelict houses and claimed that as many as 12 voters were living at two-bedroom flats or three-bedroom houses. Khan beat Lydia Simmons, his Labour opponent, by 120 votes but Labour contested the result by bringing an election petition to overturn the result after almost 450 voters were added to the electoral register in the final weeks before the poll, almost all of whom voted by post for the Conservatives.

Labour succeeded in striking 145 “ghost voters” from the electoral roll. The judge accepted that the true figure was likely to run into hundreds.

Witnesses included a handwriting expert, Kim Hughes, who said that 198 of the postal ballot forms were filled in by Mohammed Basharat Khan, described by the judge as “a serial forger”, and another 79 were in the handwriting of the candidate.

Once Labour began to identify ghost voters, Khan and his team produced forged tenancy agreements. Ten of these were produced on the same computer. Khan’s team also produced 46 statements by individuals claiming that they lived at the disputed properties.

Two Polish women were accused of lying by Khan’s allies when they said that they knew nothing of the six and seven Kashmiri voters registered at each of their homes. One witness, Nighat Khan, who was due to give evidence that the five Kashmiris registered at her flat were fictitious, received a visit from a man claiming to be a lawyer. He produced a typed letter that he asked her to sign, saying that she would then not have to attend the hearing. The court received a letter allegedly from Ms Khan claiming that she was too ill to attend.

This case illustrated two particularly common themes in vote-rigging cases. The first is the potential for misuse offered by the postal voting system. Richard Mawrey QC, who presided over Khan's case, said that the present system whereby one can obtain a postal vote on demand (first introduced by Labour in 32 areas in 2000, and subsequently expanded) was "lethal to the democratic process". The Electoral Commission has also called for tighter controls on postal voting, as has Sir Christopher Kelly, the Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Clearly, postal voting is a problem - if nothing else, it makes vote-rigging easier, for those inclined to engage in it. It's also completely unnecessary, since the vast majority of people can quite easily vote in person, if they want to. Personally, I see no reason whatsoever not to go back to the pre-2000 system, where postal votes were only ever given to those who were genuinely unable to make it to the polling station.

However, there is another feature common to almost all of the various instances of vote-rigging that have been exposed over the past few years. Arguably, this second feature is found even more frequently than postal vote fraud (not, of course, that the two are mutually exclusive). But, while everyone is prepared to point out the problems associated with postal voting, no one seems willing to acknowledge the other, still more common, feature of these cases. I'll give you three guesses...

Postscript: When I first wrote about the allegations against Eshaq Khan, I also mentioned the trial of the former Labour Mayor of Peterborough, Mohammed Choudhary, who was on trial, together with his colleagues Tariq Mahmood and Maqbool Hussein, in relation to another vote-rigging conspiracy, which also involved postal voting. Well, last month Mahmood was convicted of 14 counts of forgery, and Choudhary and Hussein of four counts each. They now face likely prison sentences. Clearly, they weren't such highly skilled vote-riggers as Eshaq Khan, because, despite their spot of electoral fraud, they still lost the election!

Amusingly, seven of the twelve comments made by members of the public about the Peterborough case, on the website of the town's Evening Telegraph newspaper, have been deleted, as "unsuitable". Perhaps they drew the link that must not be drawn...

Monday, 17 March 2008

A Brush with the law

You would hardly put him in the risque category when it comes to entertainment.

But these days, it seems that even Basil Brush is classed as controversial.

The wisecracking puppet, who has been on children's TV since the Sixties, is being investigated by the police for racism, after his show featured a gipsy selling pegs and heather.

Members of the gipsy community complained to the Northamptonshire force, saying this was racial abuse.

And although the episode was first shown on the BBC six years ago, and has been repeated eight times since, officers now plan to study it for evidence.
Hey: that's quicker than their usual response time!

The programme features Basil's friend Mr Stephen, played by Christopher Pizzey, falling under a gipsy spell which makes him attractive to women.

Dame Rosie Fortune, who lives above the pair, tries to sell Basil pegs and heather – but he turns her down.

She then offers to tell Basil's fortune, but he says: "I went to a fortune teller once and he said I was going on a long journey."

Mr Stephen then asks him what happened, to which Basil replies "He stole my wallet and I had to walk all the way home."

The episode, also on a DVD called Basil Unleashed, was last shown on the digital channel CBBC, last month.

Critics believe that the investigation is a waste of police time.

You don't say!

But Joseph Jones, vice chairman of the Southern England Romany Gipsy and Irish Traveller Network, said: "This sort of thing happens quite regularly and we are fed up with making complaints about stereotypical comments about us in words that we find racist or offensive."

Don't do it then.

"Racist abuse of black people is quite rightly no longer deemed acceptable, but when a comedian makes a joke on TV about pikeys or gippos, there's no comeback.

"Travellers have historically sold heather and pegs, but they don't do it anymore for a living. It could be that someone thought this was a kind of stereotyping."

Possibly. Stereotyping isn't illegal, though. Inciting racial hatred is, but I doubt that any child is going to sit watching Basil Brush, and say to themselves "I hate those gypsies, they sell heather and pegs". I really can't see this unusually deranged complaint going any further, and assume that even the police will eventually be able to work out that the complainant is either a nutter, or, just possibly, someone exposing, rather effectively, the ludicrous extent to which "anti-racism" has now been taken, by the police themselves, among others.

But what this demonstrates more than anything else is the juvenilisation of modern society, and the extent to which increasing numbers of people are now willing to go running to the police every time their delicate little feelings get hurt, seeking to have the offending party punished and silenced. It's a phenomenon we also see exhibited by those individuals who contact the police to complain about shops selling golliwogs, and by Muslims on a regular basis, and in response to a variety of causes (they often bypass the police altogether, though, and attempt to silence their critics themselves). Such people - adults who have never got over the fact that they aren't at school any longer, and can't go crying to teacher demanding that other pupils be put in detention for some petty slight - have always existed, albeit only in limited numbers. It's just a shame that, so long as they can present their offence as one suffered by some "oppressed minority" generally (whether or not they actually belong to such a minority - a lot of these informers are white liberals taking offence on behalf of the designated victims), their childish whinings are increasingly given credence by those in authority, including the police.

BBC staff arrested

BBC journalists are among eleven men arrested by gardai in County Donegal as part of a probe into paramilitary activity.

The BBC has said the journalists were working on a BBC NI current affairs investigation and had full editorial authority under the BBC's guidelines.

Perhaps the Beeboids were there to take the others paintballing...

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Innocent until proven naughty

Primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain's most senior police forensics expert.

Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard and the new DNA spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said a debate was needed on how far Britain should go in identifying potential offenders, given that some experts believe it is possible to identify future offending traits in children as young as five.

'If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large,' said Pugh. 'You could argue the younger the better. Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime; others won't. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society.'

Pugh admitted that the deeply controversial suggestion raised issues of parental consent, potential stigmatisation and the role of teachers in identifying future offenders, but said society needed an open, mature discussion on how best to tackle crime before it took place. There are currently 4.5 million genetic samples on the UK database - the largest in Europe - but police believe more are required to reduce crime further. 'The number of unsolved crimes says we are not sampling enough of the right people,' Pugh told The Observer. However, he said the notion of universal sampling - everyone being forced to give their genetic samples to the database - is currently prohibited by cost and logistics.

Civil liberty groups condemned his comments last night by likening them to an excerpt from a 'science fiction novel'. One teaching union warned that it was a step towards a 'police state'.
And, on this issue, I agree 100%. It is bad enough that adults are having their details permanently stored on this database, simply because they were once arrested, regardless of whether they actually committed the crime, or whether they were ever convicted of anything. The notion that children below the age of criminal responsibility should have their DNA taken and kept forever for crimes that they might commit in the future is downright sinister. As, indeed, is the idea that adults who have never had so much as a parking ticket could nonetheless have their DNA kept on a database, simply because when they were seven or eight years old someone decided that they might one day become a criminal.

I say "someone" because it's not made clear who will actually be taking the decision. Will all children who are sent to the headmistress now be swabbed as a matter of course? I assume not, but it would be interesting to know who, if Gary Pugh ever gets his way, will decide that a child is a potential "threat to society", and on what basis they will make this decision.

Pugh says that "we have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society". Well, I would have thought that the answer to this question could be determined with greater accuracy by paying attention to those teenagers who are actually convicted of committing crimes. Surely proven fact is a better indicator of a tendency to commit crime, than even the most well-informed speculation? I would also point out that Pugh is not simply interesting in "finding out" which children are more likely to commit crime as adults, but he is also interested in forcibly taking their DNA, with or without the consent of their parents, and keeping it on a database for the remainder of their lives. There's rather a big difference between that, and simply "finding out".

I do not have any great objection to convicted criminals being obliged to provide DNA samples, but it is a severe violation of our civil liberties to compel the rest of us to do so. This does not cease to be the case, simply because doing so assists the police in solving crimes. It is quite clear that at least some senior police officers want, ultimately, to see the establishment of a compulsory nationwide DNA database, even if they regard the costs or logistical problems as being too great to allow such a programme to be implemented at present. The gradual growth of the database, the gradual increase in the types of people who can be forced to give up their DNA, and the consequent gradual acceptance of compulsory DNA testing, can only serve to hasten the day when all of us are ordered to submit to such testing by the state. As I have noted several times before, that is a day that I for one hope never to see.

As a final thought, it occurs to me that many people homeschool their children - as many as 100,000 British children are educated in this manner. Clearly, the agents of the state have far fewer opportunities to observe these children on a day-to-day basis, and are consequently far less able to identify potential evildoers among this group - the next Shipman could be out there, for Heaven's sake! I wonder what kind of (no doubt authoritarian) measures Pugh and his ilk would like to see put in place, to root out any potential criminals from among the ranks of the home educated?

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Racist Britain

As any fule (or, which is much the same thing, any good liberal) kno, racism is inherent in British society. Non-whites, we are given to believe, are at constant risk from the massed ranks of barbaric natives, who are just itching to tear them limb-from-limb in an orgy of genocidal bloodlust. Muslims, goes the traditional media narrative, are particularly at risk, and "Islamophobia" is now reaching record levels. Even such fair and impartial representations of Muslims and natives as "White Girl" can do nothing to stem the tide of hatred and bigotry. Knowing all this, it will come as no surprise to anyone to hear of two more horrendous racist attacks.

First up, a race hate incident

A TERRIFIED pensioner and her grandson had a lucky escape when a gang of yobs threw a brick and a wrench through their window.

Around 15 youths shouted rascist abuse and attacked 74-year-old Jean Mills’ home in Victoria Walk, Chadderton, after threatening to burn it down.

The ordeal happened when her 13-year-old grandson, who she does not want to name, was sitting on the garden wall with a friend at around 8.45pm on Sunday.

They were called “white b*******”. The gang chased them into the house and threatened to torch it.

Half of the thugs stayed at the front of the house and threw a brick and a wrench through a window.

The others went to the back of the house where they kicked in the back door, smashing another window.

Around £400 of damage was caused and Mrs Mills said: “I was very shaken and my grandson was frightened because apparently two of them go to the same school as him.”

Her grandson, who lives with her, has been chased several times by the gang which the family says has been causing havoc in the area.

On Friday Mrs Mills asked them to stop destroying plants in her garden. A neighbour had a fence kicked down and a car was scratched

Her daughter, Janet Mills, said: “The wrench could have hit my mother or my nephew.

“It seems there’s a gang going round causing havoc. People are being confronted by these youths. The fact is if you are white you are going to be in trouble. That’s not good for Chadderton.”

A police spokesman said the gang was made up of white and Asian youths, and that no allegation of racism had been made.
Hmm, even if the gang was made of "white and Asian [sic] youths", that does not prevent it being a racist incident. At least, it didn't when the Stephen Lawrence memorial was vandalised by a black man...

Second, religious hatred. "Islamophobia", no doubt?
PARISHIONERS were in shock this week after thugs attacked a leading East End clergyman in the grounds of his church.

Two youths described by police as Asian attacked Canon Michael Ainsworth at St George-in-the-East Church in Shadwell, Scotland Yard confirmed this evening (Friday).

Police are treating the attack on the 57-year-old clergyman as an alleged 'faith hate' crime.
So, not Islamophobia then (except in the sense that attacks by Muslim terrorists are now designated as "anti-Islamic actions" - in that sense, this was clearly an instance of extreme Islamophobia). Rather, a Christianophobic attack, carried out by "Asians" - a favourite euphemism for 'Muslims'.

Of course, these cases don't fit the liberal paradigm of whites/Christians as oppressors and bigots, and Pakistanis/Muslims as poor oppressed victims. But then, as I have said time and time again, the majority of racist crimes don't fit that model - for a start, most race crime is directed
against whites. The cases highlighted above provide further evidence that the hackneyed image of white racists going out "Paki-bashing" is a complete inversion of reality, and that it is, in fact, the "Asians" themselves who have a disproportionate propensity to indulge in racist and sectarian violence.

Hat-tips: Green Arrow (first case) and David Vance (second case)

Thursday, 13 March 2008

It's the government's money now...

I vaguely recall that when Ken Clarke was delivering his budgets as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he used to produce a bottle of champagne, and brandish it at the opposition benches, while announcing that, owing to tax cuts, it was "the last of the more expensive stuff". An amusing gesture, but surely he would have done better to wait until after the tax cut, and to have then gone out and bought the first of the cheaper stuff? On the other hand, for Clarke's successor Alistair Darling, getting the drinks in prior to the budget would make more sense:
Big increases in duty on alcohol and high-polluting cars have been announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling.

In his first Budget he put 4p on a pint of beer, 14p on a bottle of wine and 55p on a bottle of spirits. Duty on a packet of cigarettes is up 11p.

He announced a one-off £950 tax on the most polluting new cars but put a 2p rise in fuel duty back six months.

Wow. Thanks, O benevolent one!

Of course, it's not just drinkers, smokers, and drivers who are handing over more and more of their money to the government. Between 2000 and 2007, government spending as a share of GDP grew from less than 38% to over 45% - a quite phenomenal increase. The government is helping itself to more and more of our money each year. Consider this, from the Telegraph:
Middle-class families are paying an extra £1,250 a year after suffering the sharpest rise in their tax bill of any leading Western country over the past five years, figures show.

In a major blow for Alistair Darling hours ahead of his first Budget, comprehensive research has shown that the middle classes have shouldered one of the world's biggest increases in their tax since 2002.

During the same period the average tax burden in most countries actually declined, according to the report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD].

But British families with two children and one earner on the average wage saw their tax bill increase by some £1,243 between 2002 and 2007, based on the current median annual wage of £19,856.
The Telegraph asks its readers: "What should Alistair Darling do for the middle classes?". My suggestion: shoot himself in the head. And, to ensure that all sections of the community are represented, he should first shoot Gordon Brown for the working classes, and a cabinet colleague of his choice (Jacqui Smith, perhaps?) for the upper classes.

Of course, the Tories wouldn't be much, if any, better. They're committed to matching Labour's spending programme for at least three years. It seems that all three main parties regard the public as little more than a piggy bank, to be tipped upside down and rattled every time they want some more money to play with and, generally, waste.

Changing to suit the audience

I was searching Google for something else, when I stumbled upon this Guardian article from January 2004. Nominally, it's an interview with Mandy Telford, the then president of that ridiculous far-left talking shop, the National Union of Students (NUS), although in fact it consists primarily of the reminiscences of Telford's egotistical interviewer (and predecessor as NUS president), David Aaronovitch. For the most part, it is, as you would expect, rather dull, but the following extract did amuse me, and serves as a useful illustrator of its subject's character:
My predecessor, Trevor Phillips, now CRE boss, when at the NUS conference, used to change his clothes according to debates he was speaking in. If it was a discussion about race he would wear a bright-coloured ethnic African shirt. For the perennial debate on salaries for NUS full-timers, it was a pair of trousers with a hole in the arse.
Now, of course, Trev sticks to the plain old suit and tie combination. Better at hiding his ever-present charlatanry, perhaps...

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

The latest immigration triumph

Nine illegal immigrants disappeared after they were given free train tickets by police and told to make their own way to a detention centre more than 60 miles away.

The move was described as "ludicrous", but police have defended their actions, saying they were acting on the advice of immigration authorities.

The men, who are from Afghanistan, were discovered by Cambridgeshire police under the back of a lorry in Fordham, near Newmarket.

They were apprehended by officers before being given train tickets and told by police to make their own way to an immigration facility in Croydon, Surrey.

But none of the men arrived at the centre and they have not been seen since.

Well, who would ever have thought that people who break the law in order to enter the country would be anything other than 100% keen to follow the rules once they got here? Not any of the bunglers in charge of managing (ha!) immigration, certainly.

Cambridgeshire police say they were acting under instruction from officials at the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA), a Home Office department.

But officials at the BIA denied such guidance was issued and insisted they had asked for the nine men to be held in custody so that they could be interviewed.

Frankly, I couldn't care less who screwed up this time. The fact is, that for all the efforts to pass the buck that the petty jobsworths in the police and the BIA seem to be engaging in, they are both government agencies, and specifically Home Office agencies. And it doesn't really matter to me whether Home Office Agency A was at fault, or whether the blame instead lies with Home Office Agency B - the end result is the same either way.
The fact is, that there have been far, far, far too many Home Office cock-ups over immigration already (see
here, here, here, here, here, and here), with today's example just the latest in a very long line of blunders. The sheer incompetence that the government and its agencies have consistently demonstrated in their management of immigration is what really bothers me, not the question of which government agency was to blame for each specific cock-up. But, having said that, the lack of anyone willing, on this occasion or any other, to come out and admit that they got it wrong, rather than always pathetically trying to shift responsibility onto someone else, does serve to add insult to injury.

Monday, 10 March 2008

"It never occurred to us"

Did anyone else watch "Rivers of Blood", the BBC2 documentary on Enoch Powell's famous speech, on Saturday night? I did, and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. Although I didn't agree with all of its conclusions, it was far from being the hatchet-job that I was expecting, and it certainly seemed strongly sympathetic towards Powell's critique of multiculturalism, even if it did, rather bewilderingly, imply that his speech was responsible for bringing state-sponsored multiculturalism about. It was also a pretty well put-together programme, with plenty of interesting talking-heads, balancing out the predictable ("he was a wicked racist!") contributions of a couple of race hustlers, and the execrable Roy "Tub of Lard" Hattersley. Plus, the Socialist Worker and the New Statesman both hated it, which can only count in its favour! As a regular critic of the BBC, I must say that on this occasion they've actually done rather well. Now, if only they could get it right the other 99% of the time...

If you didn't catch it, then it's been uploaded to Youtube, and the first segment can be seen here. It's all interesting, but I was particularly intrigued by some comments from Lord Lester, the left-wing barrister, and former advisor to Roy Jenkins, who as Home Secretary in the mid-1960s first articulated the leftist doctrine of multiculturalism. Speaking at the very end of the film, he said:
The model we had was, everyone would share the broad values of being British; what we did not expect, was that there would be those who would unwisely suggest that, for example, Sharia law should be applied in this country, or that the punishment of stoning for adultery might be looked at...It never occurred to us that there would be those kinds of unwise challenges to the broad values of a liberal democratic society.
It really is astonishing that the liberals who launched the multiculturalist agenda that has dominated (and disrupted) society for over forty years never even considered the possibility that not everyone was going to accept the "broad values of a liberal democratic society", however they might be interpreted. They never thought it possible, that encouraging people to continue living their lives as though they were still in some backwater village in Pakistan, would also have the effect of encouraging them to continue to adhere to the moral, social, and political codes prevalent in those backwater villages. Their naivety was simply astounding!
Of course, while Lord Lester, and, apparently, Roy Jenkins by the end of his life, may have realised that something is not quite right, there are still a Hell of a lot of liberals who have not achieved this realisation. They still believe, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, that the increasing size and influence of the Islamic population in Britain is nothing to fear, and that, indeed, it is those of us who oppose Islamification who are the real threat to this country. I have had plenty of liberals tell me that even should Muslims eventually become a majority in Britain, it will be no problem, because they will have accepted all our values. Well, they haven't done so in the last forty years, but have rather become more extreme with each passing generation. The fact is, these liberals who decry any attack on Islam as part of some "racist" conspiracy may well find, that in thirty or forty years' time, they, like Lord Lester today, will be complaining that "it never occurred to us" that British-born Muslims would actually start executing apostates, or establishing separate Sharia jurisdictions in cities such as Birmingham or Oldham. But by then, of course, it will be too late for them to do anything about it.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Theatrical production of the day

Always nice to see people finding new and inventive ways of sticking two fingers up at the nanny statists:
Bars in Minnesota have discovered a loophole to resist the public smoking bans sweeping the world.

About 30 drinking establishments in the mid-western state have exploited an exemption for performers in theatrical productions in a recently imposed ban on smoking in restaurants and other nightspots.

The Minnesota ban allows actors to light up in character during theatrical performances as long as patrons are notified in advance. In response, bars are staging faux theatre productions with cigarettes as props. Some establishments have printed playbills, encouraged customers to come in costume and declared them all to be actors.

Brian Bauman, the owner of The Rock bar in St Paul, said his smoking patrons were "playing themselves" before the ban was imposed, adding: "We call the production 'Before the Ban!'"

Minnesota's health department has promised to crack down on such theatre nights with fines of up to £5,000.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Taking the biscuit

Culture minister Margaret Hodge has put her foot in it for the second time in a week by boasting how she can ease racial tensions over coffee and biscuits.

Her recipe for peace and harmony was delivered during a debate about research showing political disillusionment among the white working classes.

The millionaire MP for Barking, where the British National Party has established a foothold, said: "It is really interesting what I am doing now, because I am doing things like, simple things, asking people to come and have coffee and a chocolate biscuit with me."

Wow! Coffee and biscuits with Margaret Hodge! I'll be surprised if people don't move to Barking just to be able to partake!

"And people from all sides of my community come in, white and black, they may come in feeling really hostile and angry with each other, and they engage in a conversation and actually at the end of it you see a change in attitudes."

Mrs [sic] Hodge was immediately accused of patronising her constituents.

Well, yes. I can quite see that being told, in effect, "come, you dear little people, and bathe in the glory of my enlightened tolerance for a few minutes, and you will see that all your apparent problems are really just as silly as you are" might seem just a tad patronising. Even if coffee and biscuits, or even tea and cake, are thrown in.

Of course, aside from being patronising, her comments are idiotic, and her "solution" utterly superficial. People are not going to change their whole set of attitudes, simply because they have coffee and biscuits with a nice friendly person of another race. Indeed, in many cases there is very little reason why they should change their attitudes: clearly, many people, particularly working class whites in places like Barking, have a lot of legitimate concerns about the demographic, cultural, and infrastructural impact of mass immigration (among other issues), and those concerns do not become any less legitimate simply because one has a nice chat with a friendly Nigerian.

But, of course, Hodge, like all liberals, refuses to accept that any concerns anyone might have about the path Britain is taking could ever be anything other than utterly irrational fears, born out of ignorance and bigotry. As such, it may be quite logical, from her point of view, to believe that her "coffee and biscuits" method could work: after all, if the concerns themselves are only superficial, then the solution to them also needs only to be superficial. Like almost all contemporary politicians, she's out of touch, and, hopefully, come the next election, she'll also be out of Parliament.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Numbers up, standards down

Universities are being paid a bonus worth up to £1,000 for every student they accept with lower qualifications.

They are receiving the cash premiums for taking students with Ds and Es at A-level as ministers battle to come within reach of a controversial university expansion target.

Funding chiefs admitted the Government's flagship target to recruit 50 per cent of 18 to 30-year-olds to higher education - originally given a 2010 deadline - is not likely to be met for another decade.

Universities are being told to spend the bonuses on remedial classes to help students with few or no qualifications cope with degree-level studies.

They are expected to provide pastoral support for students and re-draft their first-year teaching to include courses that will ease them into university life.

But academics called the payments "perverse incentives" and said universities should concentrate on developing talent rather than meeting numbers targets.

There were also claims that the bonuses amount to inducements to universities to distort admissions and sideline candidates with good grades.

Under a funding settlement unveiled today, universities will be paid "retention" bonuses on a sliding scale, with £943 available for undergraduates with no qualifications at all.

Premiums will also be paid when students achieve DDE or less at A-level, with smaller sums available for three Cs or less.

The cash is meant to help bring down dropout rates after evidence that nearly a quarter of students fail to finish their courses.
Now, in my opinion, high drop-out rates indicate that large numbers of students are being recruited, who are simply not suited to the academic rigours of university education. Certainly, one has to wonder how those who have only been able to achieve grades DDE or below at A-level are going to cope with a degree, which is supposed to be significantly more difficult. The high drop-out rate, which is particularly concentrated in academically-weaker universities, clearly indicates that many of these poorly-performing students are not able to cope.
One would think, therefore, that the solution would be to avoid recruiting students who have not demonstrated an aptitude for education sufficient to enable them satisfactorily to complete a degree. But, of course, putting intellectual quality before sheer quantity, in this manner, would go against the government's ridiculous 50% target. Accordingly, the government chooses to pay these bonuses, which really amount to little more than rewarding universities for recruiting, and giving degrees to, students who have not demonstrated their suitability for higher education. Surely this policy cannot fail to encourage universities to reduce their admission and assessment standards! As the number of university entrants pushes closer to the magic 50% mark, we can expect to see many more students being recruited who have not shown that they are up to the challenge of a degree, and, with this, either a further increase in the drop-out rate, a further reduction in standards, or, most likely, both.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Piss off and Dizaei

As Lee Jasper vanishes, at least temporarily, from public view, an equally obnoxious race hustler may be in for a bit of luck. The Telegraph reports that Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent, and president of the National Black Police Association, Ali Dizaei, is one of several candidates for promotion to the rank of Commander.
The report also notes that Dizaei "once accused his colleagues of racism". In fact he has done so on at least four separate occasions, and, perhaps in an effort to broaden his repertoire, has also recently accused the Solicitors Regulation Authority of being "institutionally racist". He doesn't exactly have a track record of scrupulous honesty in his accusations, either: last year, he admitted to having libelled both his ex-boss, and another officer, and was obliged to pay "substantial" damages to both men.
His latest
allegations against his colleagues were made almost exactly a year ago, when an earlier application for promotion to Commander was rejected. Apparently, Sir Ian Blair fears that Dizaei will cry "racism", should he once again fail to get promoted. Now, what on Earth could have given him that idea?

Even among race hustlers, Dizaei is a particularly unpleasant and dangerous specimen. Unlike the likes of Lee Jasper, he does not remain in the dank recesses of the "race relations" swamp, but slithers into the general public realm to spread his slime. As a senior police officer (his stated ambition is to rise to the rank of chief constable, and if he cries "racism" enough, he just might get there), his decisions and actions can have a direct impact upon the lives of ordinary people, in a way that Jasper's generally cannot. But, Dizaei, just as much as other race hustlers, appears to be motivated by a deep-seated grudge, bordering on hatred, against all white people; like all other race hustlers, he seems to see racist conspiracies everywhere, or at least, everywhere where white people are found. The fact that he has twice admitted to libel suggests that he is rather dishonest, as well. As I have written before, such a man is unfit to wear police uniform at all, let alone the uniform of a senior officer. It is to be hoped that the Met will reject his application for promotion, even if it does mean that he cries "racism" once again. After all, he does it so often, that I doubt anyone really bats an eyelid anymore...

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Racist conspiracy fells persecuted saint

The Blessed Lee Jasper has finally fallen a martyr in the cause of lining his own pockets and those of his friends freeing the oppressed masses from the chains of post-colonial neo-hegemonic imperialism. And guess what? It's all a racist conspiracy!
The mayor of London's senior aide Lee Jasper has resigned.

Ken Livingstone's race adviser blamed the "racist nature of a relentless media campaign" for his decision.

Mr Jasper had been at the centre of allegations over the misuse of public funds and was due before the London Assembly on the matter on Wednesday.

A Greater London Authority (GLA) statement paid tribute to Mr Jasper's work and said there was no foundation for the allegations against him.

The resignation comes after the Evening Standard newspaper published claims that Mr Jasper had sent intimate e-mails to a woman involved with organisations which received money from City Hall.

In a letter to the mayor, Mr Jasper said: "It has become clear that a number of matters which are not of first importance in London are being used to distract from the crucial questions in the election campaign.

"The racist nature of a relentless media campaign and the consequent effects on myself and family have placed an intolerable strain on all of us.

"I have decided to put a stop to this by tendering my resignation."

This vile little man's departure can only be considered cause for celebration. However, I wouldn't bank on his disappearance from public life being permanent: in the world of race hustling, scum always floats back to the top...

Update: Livingstone has responded to Jasper's resignation by saying that he hopes to reappoint Jasper some day in the future. As Harry's Place suggests, this day may well be the 2nd May, 2008. If Livingstone is re-elected on the 1st May, that is...

Hideously white, part 94,000

If members of the public were asked to identify one thing that embodied British culture, many would pick the Proms. Weeks of classical music; the Royal Albert Hall; Union Flags and Land of Hope and Glory on the last night - what could be a better modern symbol of the nation? And it's certainly popular: hundreds of thousands of people attend the the thing itself, and millions of people across the World tune in to watch.

This, however, is not enough for Margaret Hodge, who holds the post of culture minister in one of the most uncultured governments we have ever seen. Delivering a speech on "Britishness" to the left-wing Institute for Public Policy Research, Hodge complained that the Proms were insufficiently inclusive:
The audiences for some of many of our greatest cultural events - I'm thinking particularly of the Proms - is still a long way from demonstrating that people from different backgrounds feel at ease in being part of this.

I know this is not about making every audience completely representative, but if we claim great things for our sectors in terms of their power to bring people together, then we have a right to expect they will do that wherever they can.
By contrast, the BBC reports that
...Mrs [sic] Hodge praised other institutions for "creating the icons of a common culture that everybody can feel a part of" - such as the Angel of the North, the British Museum and the Eden project as well as TV and radio shows "from Coronation Street to the Archers" and shared public holidays.
Quite how one can "feel a part of" the Angel of the North is unclear, unless one is speaking literally. But, generally, Hodge's preference for Corrie over Elgar speaks volumes about Labour's philistine outlook on the world. It evinces an instinctive preference for popular culture over high culture, purely because it is popular. The actual artistic or aesthetic merit of a thing is irrelevant to Hodge: all that matters is how many people tune in.

How many people tune in, and how many of the right sort of people tune in. Because, aside from the philistinism that Hodge's comments betray, there is also an evident racial subtext: when she talks about "inclusiveness", she is quite clearly complaining that the Proms are just too hideously white. This is not the first time that a Labour culture minister has attacked the arts for this heinous crime: in 2005, David Lammy accused arts organisations "of being 'too exclusive' and not doing enough to promote black people in senior roles".
The fact is, that events like the Proms tend to attract white people, in much the same way that rap concerts tend to attract a disproportionate number of blacks (albeit balanced out by middle-class white teenagers attempting to be edgy). Classical music is white music: it is our cultural heritage, not that of non-whites. This is not to say that non-whites can't enjoy classical music, and no doubt some do, but it does explain why the audience at events like the Proms is overwhelmingly white. Non-whites aren't being excluded: they're just not interested.

The other main reason for Hodge's attack is that the Proms, and particularly its famous last night, are proudly, openly, and traditionally British. Its white attendees wave the Union Flag and listen to Land of Hope and Glory, with nary an emblem of multiculturalism in sight. Watching the last night, one could almost imagine that the war that the left has waged against this country's heritage for many decades had never happened. For the left, which delights in the damage it has done to this country in the name of multiculturalism, this is just unacceptable.