Sunday, 29 June 2008

Money well spent

British MEPs are joining a 200-strong European parliament jaunt to Paris this week, costing the taxpayer up to £200,000.

The three-day trip, organised by the European People’s party (EPP), a centre-right group, will include dinner at the Palais de Versailles and a champagne boat trip down the Seine.

EPP leaders say it is an opportunity for MEPs to leave their normal Brussels working environment and “discuss security issues”. They describe the break as “study days”.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but isn't "discussing security issues" the kind of thing they normally do - or should be doing - anyway? Not that they're going to be doing a whole lot of discussing, in any case, unless maybe it's discussing whether the white wine is better than the red:

Details of the entertainment are not available on the EPP website but a leaked agenda sent to MEPs and staff reveals a whirlwind of sightseeing and entertainment. The fun kicks off on Wednesday with a two-hour lunch hosted by France’s ruling party, the Popular Movement Union (UMP), at the 18th-century residence of the president of the national assembly, the Hôtel de Lassay.

MEPs will then debate European defence policy for 2½ hours before being whisked away, with a police escort, from their luxury hotel on the Right Bank to a drinks reception hosted at the Elysée Palace by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president.

On Thursday they will attend a three-hour debate on energy, followed by a three-hour cruise down the Seine on Le Paquebot (billed as an “immense floating palace”), the largest boat available at the exclusive Yachts de Paris tour company.

The MEPs, spouses and staff will have a cocktail lunch of 22 hot and cold culinary specialities created by Jean-Pierre Vigato, a top Paris chef. Champagne, French wines and liqueurs are also on the menu. Those invited were reminded that “you may wish to bring a sun hat”.

Dinner that evening is at the Palais de Versailles, once the principal royal residence.

Next day there will be a three-hour debate on food security, before another buffet lunch, complete with wine.

So, from the details given above, it seems that they will be spending a total of about eight and a half hours on various discussions and debates. A normal working day, in fact, but spread over three days, and interspersed with plenty of opportunities for the poor overworked (those expenses don't fiddle themselves, you know) politicos to luxuriate.

Aren't we taxpayers generous?

Saturday, 28 June 2008

The liberal paradise

While the British education system leaves rather a lot to be desired, we can at least be thankful that we have not sunk quite so irretrievably into the swamp of liberal lunacy as Sweden. In May 2007 I mentioned claims that Swedish parents were being encouraged to send their sons to school wearing dresses - in order to break down male chauvinistic hegemony, naturally - and now we have this:
It was supposed to be a party with balloons and a birthday cake but the eight-year-old Swedish boy had not reckoned on his country’s obsession with equality and inclusiveness. Two of his classmates were left off the invitation list – and that, deemed his school – was forbidden and a violation of their rights in the strictest “nanny state” in Europe.

The case has been sent to the Swedish parliament and has sparked a national debate about individual liberty. Does a child have the right to invite anyone he wants to a party, even if he risks hurting the feelings of those who were left out?


Before the beginning of lessons the boy had cheerfully threaded his way through the class handing out invitations. When the teacher spotted that two children had not received one he confiscated the invitations.

“One of the children had not invited my son to his own birthday party,” explained the father of the boy, who lodged an official complaint with the parliamentary ombudsman. “The other one had been bad to my son for six months. You do not invite your antagonists.”

That was not convincing enough for the headmaster or government deputies. “I believe the staff acted correctly, in a model way,” said Lars Hansson, of the Swedish Liberal party, one of the four ruling coalition partners in the country.

“It is their duty to reject any forms of insulting behaviour. To eliminate individual children from parties is not acceptable.”
Mr Hansson is evidently also an advocate of revised spelling: specifically, he seems to believe that fascist is spelt l-i-b-e-r-a-l.

I assume that the basis of this decision lies in the belief - exhibited in this country by those who oppose the eleven plus on the grounds that it "stigmatises" those who fail it, or who dislike competitive sports in schools because not everyone gets to win - that children must never have their feelings hurt. In fact the precise opposite is true: upsetting as not being invited to a party (or failing an exam, or losing at football) may be, it is itself a vital part of the social learning process. In just the same way as it's better to learn about death when one loses one's rabbit at the age of eight, than when one loses one's parent at thirty, so it's better to become hardened to - or at least aware of the possibility of - rejection (or, as Lars Hansson puts it "insulting behaviour") with small childhood instances like this, than with something really important in adulthood. Wrapping children in cotton wool will only harm them in the long run.

Even disregarding this point, however, the notion of a society in which the guest list at a child's party is a matter for the state is simply bizarre. The Times also notes that:
Lena Nyberg, the Children’s Ombudsman, is waging a campaign against collective punishment in schools too. Children have been complaining to her about the way that entire classes are kept behind after hours to punish an offence committed by a single pupil.
It seems that, for Swedish liberals, children are individuals when facing the prospect of a small dose of old-fashioned discipline. When it comes to their birthday parties, however, they, and their parents, are very much subject to the collectivist norms of the state.

Hat-tip: ATW

Friday, 27 June 2008

Wishful thinking?

A still from last night's BBC Ten O'Clock News:

Hat-tip: Biased BBC

Thursday, 26 June 2008

At ATW...

...a post on the Henley by-election, the result of which will be announced in a couple of hours. How badly will Labour do?

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Today's Witch Hunt

As many readers will have noticed, the latest Evil Racist to be hounded out of his job is Boris Johnson's former adviser James McGrath, who has been sacked after saying that all darkies should leave Britain. Except that, of course, he didn't really say that. What he actually did was respond to whining race hustler (and Labour activist) Marc Wadsworth - who had quoted whining race hustler Darcus Howe's hysterical suggestion that Johnson's victory would lead to "a mass exodus of older Caribbean migrants back to our homelands" - by saying "well, let them go if they don't like it here". A couple of thoughts suggest themselves:

First, to quote Ed Balls, so what? It's not as if he said that all blacks should be rounded up at gunpoint and forced to leave. He simply said that, if some people find the thought of living in a Johnson-controlled London so terrible that they want to leave, then they should not be prevented from doing so, and the rest of us should not beat ourselves up about it. And what, exactly, is so appalling about that? Is the Mayor of London supposed to base his entire policy around the wishes of a handful of paranoiacs? Was Mr McGrath supposed to fall on his knees before Wadsworth, imploring him to prevent the postulated "mass exodus"?

Second, what McGrath said is pretty mild compared to certain remarks made by Ken Livingstone while he was in office:

Today at one of his regular press conferences, Ken Livingstone was discussing plans to regenerate Stratford in east London. He said the following about Simon and David Reuben, well-known property developers who are involved in the project:

Perhaps if they're not happy they can always go back [to their own country] and see if they can do better under the ayatollahs.

Asked to clarify his remarks he added:

If they're not happy here, they can go back to Iran and try their luck with the ayatollahs, if they don't like the planning regime or my approach.

The Reuben brothers are from India and are of Iraqi Jewish descent.

As readers may have noticed, Livingstone did not resign after saying this.

Third, I agree with Steve at Pub Philosopher that Boris Johnson's response to this incident demonstrates the spinelessness of the Cameron Tories. Johnson's decision to sack McGrath, which has been endorsed by Cameron himself, was a display of supreme moral and political cowardice. The screams of "racism" emanating from a race-baiting Labour activist, and echoed by sympathetic elements of the media (for example, the BBC initially said that McGrath had made "an apparently racist remark", and in other ways misrepresented the incident to show him in a negative light), achieved their desired effect: the sacking of a man who had done nothing wrong. To put it more succinctly, the left said "jump", and the Tories paused only to ask "how high?".
The justification given for McGrath's sacking, by Johnson and others, is that, while McGrath's comments were not racist, they might have given rise to a public perception that the man who made them was. However, this is a public perception (or perhaps only an illusion of one) that is formed and driven by the left, and which will only be given credence by the Tories caving in as easily as they have done. In order to ensure that "anti-racist" witch hunts like this one do not achieve a 100% success rate, no matter how lacking in substance the accusations of "racism" might be, and to ensure that we can actually speak openly about important issues like race and immigration, it is necessary to stand up to the witchfinders. The Tories have utterly failed to do this, and, as such, one has to question whether, even if they have the desire to change anything in this country (which I rather doubt), they also have the guts. As Steve puts it:

If this episode is anything to go by, all any noisy, self-righteous pressure group will need to do is say "BOO!" and the Tory government will roll over and die.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

The last refuge of a (black) scoundrel

Dr Johnson famously remarked that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel". He was, of course, referring to ostentatious displays of false patriotism, and the enduring truth of his statement is evident in the "Britishness" agenda of the present government. However, if you are a scoundrel who happens not to be white, then you have available to you a far more effective last refuge: the groundless accusation of racism. This is demonstrated in the recent remarks of two disgraced "celebrities":

Naomi Campbell last night blamed racism for her outburst on a British Airways jet, claiming she had been called 'a golliwog supermodel'.

In an interview with Sky News, Miss Campbell said she was not going to apologise to BA as they were "disgusting."

She said: 'I was called a racial name on that flight. And that was part of my reaction. Again, nothing to do with the police but yes from British Airways.'

'I was called a golliwog supermodel, I don’t think that’s really fair do you?'

The supermodel did not say exactly who had called her the name only that it was not one of the passengers.

When asked who called her the name, she replied: 'Someone on the flight, not the passenger.'


Miss Campbell avoided jail yesterday despite admitting kicking, hitting and spitting at police officers on board the jet at Heathrow.

Extraordinary details of the supermodel's vicious assault on two officers emerged in court as she was sentenced to a 200 hour unpaid community service order.

Magistrates told the model that the community service was part of a 12-month order.
They also ordered her to pay compensation of £200 each to the two police officers she assaulted, and £150 compensation to the aircraft captain, Miles Sutherland.

In addition she was ordered to pay fines for committing a public order offences totalling £2,300 and a £15 surcharge.


In court, Melanie Parrish, prosecuting, told how flight crew said initially that Campbell was very friendly and professional.

But after she discovered a bag of hers had gone astray, Campbell became upset and demanded to know where her bag was. Meanwhile the captain began to go through her options with her.

Miss Parrish said: 'To say that this process was difficult would be something of an understatement. Miss Campbell made no attempt to listen to him and talked over him, stating: "I don't want to hear".'

The court heard Campbell continued to shout at Capt Sutherland, saying: 'I can't believe you have lost my f***ing bag. Bring me my f***ing bags now.'

Miss Parrish said: 'She instructed him to personally get off the aircraft and get her bag and show it to her.

'The captain explained this wasn't going to happen. He repeatedly tried to take control of the situation and asked if he could get a word in.'

The magistrates were told that when Capt Sutherland tried to explain her options, Campbell snapped: 'How dare you tell me what my options are? You are not leaving until you find my f***ing bags.'

As the captain walked away Campbell shouted after him: 'You are a racist, you wouldn't be doing this if I was white.'


The court heard that police were called and three officers arrived.

The officers made no attempt to touch her but Campbell seemed to 'completely lose control', screaming 'You can't f***ing touch me' and shouting down her phone to 'make sure the press know'.

'She said: "You can't arrest me, my cousin is in Scotland Yard."

'When PC John Eastick moved towards her, she went berserk, striking PC Eastick on the arm with her mobile phone.'

Campbell continued to struggle violently and she was described as throwing her right leg back and thrusting forward, striking another male officer, PC Campling, on the thigh.

Miss Parrish added: 'At the time she was wearing formidable platform boots with stiletto-style heels.'

The court also heard how Campbell kicked PC Eastick and PC Charles Campling both in the groin area with her heeled shoes.

'Then she spat and hit PC Eastick on his arm,' said Ms Parrish.

As the continued to kick out indiscriminately, she caught PC Eastick on the right shin and left thigh before slumping down in her seat.

The court heard she continued to shout and swear and then pulled her head back and threw it forward, spitting at PC Eastick.

As they tried to remove the model from the aircraft she continued to be abusive and became increasingly violent, shouting at the officers: 'Don't touch me.'

Campbell then shouted at the officers: 'It is because I am a black woman, you are all racists. I am going to sue you. I am going to f*** you,' and continued to kick out as they tried to remove her.

Is it cos I is black? No, it's cos you is a violent thug.

Still, it is quite impressive that Campbell - who may now face libel action from the BA cabin crew whose reputations she has impugned - was able to eke three entirely separate accusations of racism out of this one incident. Although, according to some reports, the shoe was rather on the other foot:

While Naomi Campbell claimed racism was the cause of her arrest after pitching a hissy at London's Heathrow Airport last week, it was she who allegedly hurled the epithets. Cops claim the patience-challenged supermodel screamed, "F-ing white honkies!" at them and called a female officer a "white bitch".
And let's not forget this:
Naomi Campbell's former maid is suing the battling supermodel over claims that she called her a "dumb Romanian", the New York Times reports.

Gaby Gibson, 40, filed papers on Tuesday in a New York court which allege Campbell subjected her to "repeated discriminatory assaults based on national origin". Specifically, Gibson claims Campbell asked her: "Romanians are not usually as dumb as you?"

Gibson described Campbell as a "violent super-bigot" who "called her names and threatened to press charges for theft when the model was unable to find a pair of Stella McCartney jeans".
Meanwhile, via Barnsley Nationalists, I see that Linford Christie has also been playing the race card:

Former Olympic champion Linford Christie has claimed there is "institutionalised racism" in Britain.

And Christie, who won 100 metres gold at the 1992 Olympics, is adamant he should have carried the Olympic torch on its way through London in April.

"I think there's institutionalised racism in this country," Christie told BBC Radio 4. "How many black knights from British athletics do you know?

"I've achieved more single-handedly than any other sportsman in (Britain)."

Christie was banned for life by the British Olympic Association in 1999 after he failed a routine drugs test.

Is it cos I is black? No, it's cos you is a cheat.

Friday, 20 June 2008

The War on Alcohol

Having sent smokers packing, the People Who Know Better Than You are turning their attention to another form of "incorrect behaviour" - drinking:

Buying drink at the supermarket could involve a walk of shame to an “alcohol-only” checkout counter under new plans to help Scotland curb its binge-drinking culture.

The scheme, announced yesterday by Nationalist ministers in Edinburgh, is designed to deter shoppers from making excessive purchases by placing them under the scrutiny of fellow customers. It is part of a package of radical measures aimed at tackling Scotland's alcohol problems, which is estimated to cost the country's economy more than £2 billion a year.

The alcohol-only checkouts would mean that families doing their weekly shop would be faced with queueing twice - using one checkout for their groceries and another for alcohol in the same way as cigarettes are sold separately in supermarkets at present.

The proposal was floated in a pre-legislative consultation document from the Scottish government that aims to put in place a plan to tackle the near-epidemic of alcohol abuse in the country.

The document states: “Similar arrangements [to the purchase of cigarettes] for alcohol sales could encourage shoppers to make conscious decisions about whether to purchase alcohol and help to emphasise that alcohol is not an ordinary product. In stores where alcohol is sold, a separate checkout, or checkouts, would be used for the sales of alcohol products. No other products could be processed through the alcohol checkout.”

The dedicated checkout idea was immediately branded absurd by critics. Fiona Moriarty of the Scottish Retail Consortium, representing supermarkets, said: “No one buys alcohol by accident. Those determined to drink excessively will not be put off by separate checkouts but they would inconvenience responsible customers, pile on thousands of pounds of refit and staffing costs and further demonise alcohol.”

“It is only a small minority of Scots who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Draconian legislation will not change that, but it will penalise the overwhelming majority of customers who consume alcohol perfectly responsibly.”

She's right, of course. I'd add that the proposal is, like all manifestations of the nanny state, incredibly patronising. The proposal's authors write that this will "encourage shoppers to make conscious decisions about whether to purchase alcohol". However, I would imagine that most shoppers, being slightly more than mindless automatons, are already fully capable of exercising rational choice in their shopping decisions. I'd also suggest that the moment at which one exercises that choice comes when one picks up the items one wishes to purchase and places them in one's shopping basket, rather than at the moment when, having done that, one walks to the special "naughty till".

The planned introduction of the "walk of shame" - which, let's face it, might be rather more shaming were it not something that most adults will be doing on a regular basis - is not the only bright idea contained in the proposals:

Scottish ministers also want to introduce a system of minimum pricing for drink - possibly about 35p per unit of alcohol, although a definite price has not been fixed - in an effort to ensure that the price better reflects the strength of alcoholic drinks.

Critics of that plan last night seized on the disclosure, from Scottish government officials, that it would mean the price of a bottle of supermarket-branded whisky produced in Scotland would rise by almost a quarter and would thus be more expensive than the same bottle sold in an English supermarket.

These "critics" may have spoken too soon, however, for the same idea is being considered south of the border:

Ministers at Westminster are considering plans similar to those already put forward in Scotland, to impose a minimum price for alcohol.

Any legislation could see English supermarkets and corner shops ordered to charge a minimum of between 35p and 40p per unit.

The move is aimed at curbing the binge-drinking culture among teenagers, who according to recent figures drink more than youngsters in most other developed countries.

How much does alcohol cost in those countries? British alcohol is certainly the most heavily taxed in Europe, if not actually the most expensive. As such, the government might like to consider that maybe, just maybe, the binge-drinking "epidemic" has not arisen in a vacuum, and will not be eliminated by measures like this. Perhaps if the government really worry that much about binge-drinking, they should start the process of stopping it by looking at its root causes.

But what are those root causes? I would suggest that the increase in binge-drinking probably has a lot to do with general societal breakdown, the collapse in self-discipline among some people, and the decline of the family. The very problems, in fact, which people like the present British government worked so hard to bring about. So perhaps they might not be so keen to solve them. Instead, they apparently want to interfere in the workings of private companies, and to penalise the large number of drinkers who do not binge drink (or who, even if they do, do not actually break the law after doing so), but who may now have to pay considerably more for the alcohol that they do consume.

Personally, I'm not hugely concerned about binge drinking
per se. I am concerned about crime, including alcohol-related crime, but I think that that should be dealt with by targeting the minority of people who commit it, rather than the large majority of harmless drinkers. I'm also concerned about societal breakdown, which is a cause of the apparent increase in binge drinking, but I can't imagine that the government will do anything to reverse that. Instead, they are giving me another cause for concern: the fact that our rulers - be they at Holyrood or at Westminster - seem determined again and again to interfere in our lives and dictate our behaviour.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

London's vibrant diversity

Police were appealing for witnesses today following the attempted murder of a man who was doused in petrol and set on fire in east London.

The 20-year-old, who is fighting for his life in hospital, was torched as he sat in his car in Forest Gate.

It is believed the Hindi [sic] victim, who suffered 65 per cent burns in the attack, was targeted because he was dating a Muslim girlfriend.

He had just parked his car, a green Honda Prelude, in St George’s Road when he was approached by the suspect or suspects and had petrol poured over him before being set alight.


Two men aged 20 and 21 have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and released on bail.

While this report tells us that the victim was a Hindu, and his girlfriend a Muslim, no details are provided regarding the religious affiliation of his attackers. They could be literally anyone...

Hat-tip: Dhimmi Watch

When leftists fall out

Ding ding! Seconds out!

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti is threatening to sue a Cabinet minister she says "set out to smear" her dealings with ex-Tory MP David Davis.

Ms Chakrabarti said that she would sue Culture Secretary Andy Burnham if "you continue down the path of innuendo and attempted character assassination".

It follows an article in which he said he found her alliance with capital punishment backer Mr Davis "curious".

A spokesman said Mr Burnham had not meant any offence.

Mr Burnham's comments came in an interview with New Labour magazine Progress.

He expressed dismay at civil liberties campaigners and other people who had been "seduced by Tory talk of how liberal they are".

He said he found it "very curious in the man who was, and still is I believe, an exponent of capital punishment, having late-night, hand-wringing, heart-melting phone calls with Shami Chakrabarti".

Oh, I do so hope that Chakrabarti - whose letter to Burnham can be read in full at Liberty's website - carries out her threat. I mean, Labour cabinet minister vs. supremely irritating - and utterly hypocritical - liberal hand-wringer: the only sad thing is that they can't both lose!

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

An ideal politician

Romanian villagers have voted to re-elect a dead man as their mayor, to prevent his living rival winning.

Neculai Ivascu - who led Voinesti for almost two decades - died from a liver disease on Sunday, too late to cancel the contest.

The village's loyal residents still gave him 23 more votes than his rival, Gheorghe Dobrescu of the ruling National Liberal Party.

"I know he died, but I don't want change," one villager told Romanian TV.

In a controversial decision, the electoral commission declared the runner-up and rival Mr Dobrescu the winner.
Impressive as the election of a dead guy undoubtedly is, it does not quite match the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the wholly fictitious Andre Kasongo Ilunga has been Minister for Foreign Trade since February 2007, heroically overcoming the drawbacks generally associated with non-existence. As I remarked on Ilunga's case, politicians like Messrs Ilunga and Ivascu would probably be a great improvement on our own current crop of living, breathing ones. They'd cost less for a start!

More sowing and reaping

A union activist was branded a racist for producing a leaflet with an image of the Three Wise Monkeys proverb.

Onay Kasab, secretary of Greenwich Unison, is one of four branch officers facing a disciplinary hearing after handing out the pamphlet at last June's conference for the union, which represents more than a million public sector workers.

The four say the leaflet used the image of the "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" monkeys to lampoon the committee for removing important issues from the agenda. But union bosses said the image was a "racist" slur aimed at one black committee member.

Mr Kasab, 40, from Bexley, said: "It's upsetting that I am accused of racism by my own union. We felt it was an apt image to illustrate our point that the committee were refusing to listen to members' concerns over issues such as the funding of the Labour Party, the election of full time officials and control over strike action.

"But in the conference hall the Unison president denounced it as racist and when we went to respond the microphone was switched off. We have been gagged and subjected to a witch hunt."

Now, up until this point I had some sympathy for Kasab, trade union activist though he may be. After all, the Three Wise Monkeys is well known imagery, devoid of any racial connotations, and there appears to be nothing indicating any racist intent or content in the leaflet in question. Rather, the Unison bosses just seem to be adopting the traditional leftist strategy of silencing an opponent by invoking the demonic chimera "racism".

But my sympathy rapidly diminished to the point of non-existence, when I read the next paragraph. For Kasab continued:

"I have dedicated a lot of my life to representing Unison members in Greenwich from all backgrounds. I led a 13-week strike against the civil service over the employment of a senior BNP activist. I am Turkish-Cypriot and have faced racism so to be accused of being something I despise is terrible."
It really does take a special kind of hypocrisy to be able to complain that one is the subject of a witch hunt, and then in the next breath to boast of having led a witch hunt against someone else. And a witch hunt which, if successful, would have had far more serious consequences for its victim (who would have lost his livelihood) than the alleged witch hunt against Kasab will have for him.

The three other members under investigation are Glenn Kelly, secretary of Bromley Unison, Suzanne Muna, secretary of the Housing Corporation Unison branch, and Brian Debus, chairman of Hackney Unison. All are also in the Socialist Party. Matthew Waterfall, who is not a member of the Socialist Party, was investigated but not charged.

"The fact they cleared Mr Waterfall shows that this is motivated by the New Labour supporters in Unison against the Socialist Party," said Mr Kasab.

Again, Kasab's hypocrisy is evident. He resents the fact that he may perhaps be being hounded out of his trade union because of his involvement with a far-left political party. However, he also believes that membership of a "far-right" political party should not only disqualify one from union membership, but that it should also disqualify one from the right to earn a living, full stop. Certainly, it is hard to put any other construction on his attempt to have the unidentified "senior BNP activist" dismissed.
Sadly for Kasab, hypocrites do not make very suitable objects of sympathy. Kasab has made his bed - he has willingly helped to create a situation in which "anti-racist" witch hunts are the order of the day, and in which people deemed "racist" can safely be subjected to inferior treatment - and now the time has come for him to lie in it.

Monday, 16 June 2008

The real terrorist threat

BBC bosses have defended the grisly beheading of a Muslim by a Christian zealot in new drama Bonekickers.

In the bloody scene, ex-EastEnder Paul Nicholls plays a fundamentalist who decapitates a Muslim with a sword.

Producer Rhonda Smith said: "It's not meant to be shocking or to cause offence and it comes very much from the storyline."

BBC chiefs are planning to warn viewers about the gruesome beheading scene.

A BBC spokeswoman said: "It is in a 9pm slot in early July and viewers will be advised of the content immediately before broadcast."

The six-parter billed as Time Team meets Indiana Jones follows a group of archaeologists solving historical mysteries. It stars Julie Graham, Hugh Bonneville and Adrian Lester.

The beheading scene comes in an episode dealing with the excavation of medieval soldiers from the time of the Crusades.

It leads to the hunt for the cross on which Jesus was crucified which the Crusaders may have brought back from the Holy Land.

Also keen to find the cross are right-wing Christian fanatics who also want to use violence to drive Muslims out of Britain.
Hmm. Haven't I come across this last plot detail somewhere before? Consider this Daily Mail summary of an episode of Spooks, broadcast on BBC1 back in 2006:
[The episode] showed a group of evangelical terrorists who carry out a number of attacks on the Muslim community and attempt to spark a religious war in the UK.

The programme also depicted a rogue Bishop, who was also a government advisor, organising the assassination of a radical Islamic preacher.


In the programme the Christian terrorist group was seen carrying out a hand-grenade attack on Muslims and planing to blow up a Mosque in Manchester.

It featured a video broadcast by the fictional group saying: "Britain is a nation under Christ - we will no longer tolerate the Muslims in our ranks - this is a declaration of war against Islam."

With the BBC raking in all that money from the licence fee, you'd hope that they could at least manage to think up new and original ways of demonising Christians!

I accept that there is an element of "if you don't like it, don't watch it" with programmes like this. And I certainly don't say that no Christian should ever be depicted in a negative manner on any TV show.

But what I object to is the sheer mendacity and hypocrisy displayed by the Beeb. When this programme is broadcast it will be the second time in as many years that a BBC drama has featured Christian terrorists targeting Muslims. This despite the fact that there is a distinct paucity of such incidents in the real world. The BBC is inverting reality, and allowing its programmes to give the impression that there is a problem with Christian violence, when such a problem simply does not exist.

At the same time, of course, there is a genuine and significant problem with Muslim terrorism in Britain (and many other places too). But will the BBC make a drama featuring Islamic terrorists targeting Christians, Jews, or Hindus? You know, a drama with a plotline that actually reflects reality. No, of course they won't. They won't even dare to broadcast a joke with a vague, non-insulting, reference to Islam in its punchline! After all, if they were to suggest that followers of the Religion of Peace could get even slightly violent, then, not only would that be horribly non-PC, but it might also put them at risk of, um, violence. Violence being the only appropriate response to such a slanderous accusation, obviously. By contrast, Christians, being designated oppressors, are eminently legitimate targets, and, since they are not actually violent, you can get away with saying that they are.

Hat-tip: Dhimmi Watch

Sunday, 15 June 2008

The final nail?

The Czechs have hammered another nail into the coffin of the Lisbon treaty by declaring that ratification must stop.

Czech president Vaclav Klaus, who is supported by the country's largest political party, called the Irish referendum vote a "victory of freedom and reason" and said "ratification cannot continue".

His view was echoed in the Czech senate.

"Politicians have allowed the citizens to express their opinion only in a single EU country," Mr Klaus said.

"The Lisbon treaty project ended with the Irish voters' decision and its ratification cannot continue," he wrote on his own website, according to Czech news agency CTK.

The resounding Irish no was a "victory of freedom and reason over artificial elitist projects and European bureaucracy," he said.

Premysl Sobotka, Czech senate chairman, also said there was "no sense" continuing with ratification, according to the agency.

So, it looks like we could now see two countries refuse to ratify the treaty. The Telegraph report says that that would kill it off once and for all.

Here's hoping!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Cheers Ireland

Irish Referendum result:
Yes: 752,451 (46.6%)
No: 862,415 (53.4%)
It's not the end of the matter, of course. Our own government plans to push ahead with the ratification process, and I imagine that even as I write various Eurocrats are plotting to force the constitution through, regardless of what the people of Ireland, or anywhere else in Europe, want. But, despite this, the fact remains that today the Irish electorate stuck two fingers up at the EU, and at all those seeking to railroad us all into an undemocratic United States of Europe. And for that we should all be thankful.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Shock of the Day

An influx of hundreds of thousands of foreigners is fuelling social tensions in parts of the country which were totally unprepared for large-scale immigration, the Government has admitted.

Hazel Blears, the Communities and Local Government secretary, said teams of Whitehall officials were being sent to areas where there was "friction" caused by the arrival of large numbers of foreigners.

A Government study looking at the social impact of migration found that new immigrants to the UK accounted for nearly half of the population growth over the past five years.

Some 860,000 people swelled Britain's population from European Union countries, as well as Commonwealth and other states, it said.

It acknowledged that the scale of this migration had increased public concern in some parts of the country which were unused to large communities of foreigners. Schools and hospitals were often hardest hit.

The report - Managing the Impacts of Migration - A Cross-Government Approach - found large scale migration "has affected many areas with little previous experience of large migrant communities".

It said: "In some places it is the pace and scale of change which have an impact on local communities and services", while "other places experiencing significant migration for the first time may not have the institutions and programmes in place to help them manage that change."

Particular pressure was being felt in schools and hospitals, where migrants were failing to register with their local GP and instead going for basic treatment to Accident and Emergency departments in hospitals.


Miss Blears said she was sending in specialist teams to help some areas cope with the extra pressures on services.

Three experts from Miss Blears' department are starting work at Breckland district council, in Norfolk, this summer. Breckland council saw its population rise by more than 1,300 in 2005/06, almost entirely due to the arrival of immigrants from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Portugal.

Miss Blears said: "The change in the population has caused some friction and some tensions there. And they have had a few incidents. We are sending in some specialists who have a background in grassroots activism.

"They want to learn from the good things that are going on in Breckland but also help to build new relationships and make a better atmosphere in that town."

As Ronald Reagan once said, "the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help'". I can't help but hear those words as I read about Blears' proposals.
After all, who exactly are these "specialists who have a background in grassroots activism"? Are they anything more than common or garden race hustlers? Does their "grassroots activism" consist of anything more than whining about "racism" to anyone who'll listen (and most who won't)? Because I find it rather doubtful that sending a trio of Trevor Phillips wannabees to Breckland is going to improve the situation.

In any case, it seems that no one in the present government is able to recall the adage, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Anyone with at least half a brain (a category which, I admit, may exclude most Labour ministers) ought to have foreseen that immigration on the unprecedentedly large scale presided over by Labour would be likely to both put pressure on public services, and create social tensions. As such, I would suggest that the obvious solution would have been to refrain from opening the borders to all and sundry in the first place. But none of this seems to have occurred to Labour. As I have previously remarked, the shortsightedness of the left when dealing with immigration and its attendant issues really is astounding.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Compare and contrast

A lawbreaker:
A bus passenger is launching a legal challenge after being handed a criminal record amid a dispute over a 90 pence fare.

Tom Usher believed he had paid the charge by swiping his Oyster travel card as he boarded the bus in December.

But a spot check by an inspector found that the payment had not been debited.

Although Mr Usher, 37, still had £1.30 on his card when challenged and maintains that he offered to pay it as soon as the oversight was discovered, he was ordered before magistrates, found guilty of failing to pay the fare and fined £90 with costs of £100.

A lawmaker:

Giles Chichester resigned as Conservative leader in the European Parliament after a scandal surrounding expenses worth more than £145,000.

Europe's most senior Tory was forced to step down after Caroline Spelman, Conservative Chairman, demanded that he opened his books to Party auditors within 24 hours, for a "full explanation".

Mr Chichester had at first tried to shrug off a "technical breach of rules", which he claimed, had followed a misunderstanding of the Parliament's financial regulations.


Mr Chichester's case was not helped by comments he made while admitting a "mistake" during a television interview on Wednesday night.

"Whoops-a-daisy I am shown up to have made a mistake," he said, in comments that angered Conservative HQ in London.

Mr Chichester first admitted on Wednesday that he had broken rules over the last five years, after a change in financial rules, by paying the Parliamentary Assistant Allowance, worth an annual £160,000, into a family owned firm, where he is a paid director.

Between 2003 and 2007, Francis Chichester Ltd, the family company named after Mr Chichester's famous round-the-world yachtsman [father], received £134,499 in Parliament payments, according to figures seen by the Daily Telegraph.

During the same period, the directors, Mr Chichester and his wife, were paid £30,660.

Payments continued into the company until June 2008, taking the total sum thought to be under investigation by the Parliament authorities over the £145,000 mark.

The Parliament first contacted Mr Chichester 18 months ago about a "potential conflict of interests" but pressure built after media reports that Mr Chichester had paid the family firm £445,000 in allowances since 1996.

Another lawmaker:

Another top Tory MEP has lost his job in the second expenses scandal to hit the party in two days.

Den Dover has been replaced as the Conservatives' chief whip in Europe after admitting paying his wife and daughter £750,000 for work.

And another:
Michael Cashman, a leading Labour MEP, has paid his boyfriend more than 8,000 pounds a month from his taxpayer-funded expenses, the Telegraph can disclose.

Documents show that Paul Cottingham was given secretarial allowances worth £8,143 a month to administer in 2002. This was the maximum allowance available at the time. Euro-MPs can now receive an allowance for staff of £160,000 a year.

Back in 1696 Samuel Garth observed that "little villains must submit to fate/that great ones may enjoy the world in state". And boy, was he right! Whatever way you look at it, it is surely self-evident that the three MEPs listed above - not to mention the numerous other MPs and MEPs whose greed has been widely and extensively chronicled over recent months - are infinitely more morally culpable than Tom Usher. But he's the one with the criminal record, and they're the ones who are still "enjoying the world in state", and dictating how the rest of us live our lives, into the bargain.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Hodge hassled

Over at the Palace of Westminster, it looks like it's time to break out the coffee and biscuits:

Tourism Minister Margaret Hodge was involved in an extraordinary slanging match with one of the leaders of the British holiday industry at a cocktail reception on the House of Commons terrace.

Guests were shocked as Mrs Hodge stormed off after clashing with Philip Green, chairman of UK Inbound, a trade group that encourages foreigners to take holidays in Britain.

She was furious after guests booed her speech. One heckled: 'You don't know what you are talking about,' and she fired back: 'Yes I do, you are totally wrong.'

Mr Green had enraged Mrs Hodge by accusing the Government of driving away foreign tourists with 'high taxes disguised as green initiatives, ridiculous red tape and a schizophrenic approach to air travel'.

She stormed: 'I came here for a pleasant summer evening on the terrace, not to be lectured.'

Mrs Hodge then claimed British hotels were overpriced and big visitor attractions offered poor service - and left the moment her speech was over.

One guest said: 'I have never seen anything like it on the terrace before - there was heckling and even booing.'
I can't profess to be an expert on the state of the British tourism industry, but if the government's handling of tourism has been anything close to its handling of the rest of the economy, and, indeed, the nation as a whole, then Philip Green probably has every right to feel aggrieved. And you can hardly blame him for acting as he did. After all, if you had the opportunity to tell Margaret Hodge, or any other government minister, what you think about the way they're running the country, would you pass it up?

But in any event, isn't the mental image triggered by this story absolutely wonderful? I wouldn't generally advise overindulgence in hubristic schadenfreude, but surely the thought of the odious Hodge being jeered and then throwing a childish tantrum merits at least one discreet chuckle!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Return to Alum Rock

I see that the pressure group, Christian Voice, have announced plans to descend on the Alum Rock area of Birmingham, where two Christian preachers were recently threatened with arrest by a PCSO. As Christian Voice have often been described as "Christian fundamentalists" by left-wing secularists who wish to imply that they are some Christian equivalent of al-Qaeda, we can presumably expect to see them engage in a vengeful orgy of violent destruction? Astonishingly enough, no. Rather, they will be restricting their activities to the handing-out of leaflets, the same heinous act that Arthur Cunningham and Joseph Abraham committed.

The protest will take place next Saturday, the 14th June. According to the Christian Voice website, the organisation's director, Stephen Green (who has himself previously been arrested and prosecuted for handing out leaflets), had this to say:
The case also raises concerns about the association of Islam and the Police. If people like Naguthney are using the British Police as a launching ground for Muslim activism, whether in the National Association of Muslim Police or in day-to-day police activities, then they should be expelled.

It is less than two years ago when the then Home Secretary John Reid was asked by Abu Izzadeen at a meeting in Leyton, East London : "How dare you come to a Muslim area when over 1,000 Muslims have been arrested?" There was an outcry, but now we find a Muslim police employee, someone his Chief Constable probably regards as a 'moderate', clearly has the same mind-set as a convicted terrorist.

By the grace of God, this no-go area for the Gospel will be challenged. West Midlands Police Chief Constable Sir Paul Scott-Lee has an odd sense of humour creating a post of counter-terrorism and cohesion for Anil Patani to be in charge of. But with people like that at the top, and with its tarnished record, we need to ask how far up West Midlands Police the peculiar bias to Islam demonstrated by the Dispatches affair and Naeem Naguthney's attitude actually goes.
N.B. Anil Patani is the officer responsible for the Undercover Mosque debacle.

It is to be hoped that the West Midlands Police will manage to resist the temptation to arrest, or otherwise impede, Mr Green and his supporters. After all, you'd think that they might have learnt their lesson by now! But then again, it is the West Midlands Police we're talking about: who knows how far their ability to make complete fools of themselves goes?

The reaction of the local Muslims will also be interesting to see. Will the "moderate majority" behave with the same restraint as the "Christian fundamentalists", I wonder?

Hat-tip: Pub Philosopher

Friday, 6 June 2008

Edukayshun, edukayshun, edukayshun

Just a quick round-up of some recent stories illustrating the continuing decline of British educational standards:

#1: Yet more evidence that A-levels are getting easier, and the impact that this is having on the nation's economic competitiveness:

A “lost generation” of mathematicians has cost the economy £9 billion, while GCSE maths has become a “pick ‘n’ mix” test rather than the key staging post it once was, according to a report.

The decline in standards threatens the future of the economy, say the authors, and is having a devastating impact on the City, with some firms recruiting most of their maths graduates from overseas.

The report, by the Reform think-tank, accuses the Government of marginalising the interests of employers, teachers and students. It claims that ministers are focusing on exam results, rather than educational outcomes, and are trying to get pupils to pass any five GCSEs to meet targets, rather than concentrating on the core subjects of English and maths.


Maths exams are much easier now than 30 years ago, Reform says, because of efforts to make them more relevant to the workplace. This means that children are not being taught key skills such as problem solving. As a result, it is “now possible to achieve a grade C in GCSE maths having almost no conceptual knowledge of mathematics” and by scoring less than 20 per cent in the top paper.

“A coherent discipline has changed to ‘pick ‘n’ mix’, with pupils being trained to answer specific shallow questions on a range of topics where marks can be most easily harvested.”

#2: Imperial College votes with its feet, and the count doesn't go A-levels' way:

One of Britain's leading universities is to introduce an entrance exam for all students applying to study there from 2010 because it believes that A levels no longer provide it with a viable way to select the best students.

Sir Richard Sykes, Rector of Imperial College, London, suggested that grade inflation at A level meant that so many students now got straight As that it had become almost “worthless” as a way of discriminating between the talented and the well drilled.

Last year one in four A-level marks was a grade A and 10 per cent of A-level students achieved at least three As.

“We can't rely on A levels any more. Everybody who applies has got three or four As. They [A levels] are not very useful. The International Baccalaureate is useful but again this is just a benchmark,” Sir Richard said.

He added: “We are doing this not because we don't believe in A levels, but we can't use the A level any more as a discriminator factor.” The move will make Imperial, which specialises in science and engineering and ranks third in the UK after Oxford and Cambridge in The Times Good University Guide, the first university to introduce a university-wide entrance exam since Oxford scrapped its own version in 1995.
#3: If some people have their way it will get a hell of a lot worse, before it gets any better:

Children should no longer be taught traditional subjects at school because they are "middle-class" creations, a Government adviser will claim today.

Professor John White, who contributed to a controversial shake-up of the secondary curriculum, believes lessons should instead cover a series of personal skills.

Pupils would no longer study history, geography and science but learn skills such as energy- saving and civic responsibility through projects and themes.

He will outline his theories at a conference today staged by London's Institute of Education - to which he is affiliated - to mark the 20th anniversary of the national curriculum.

Last night, critics attacked his ideas as "deeply corrosive" and condemned the Government for allowing him to advise on a new curriculum.

Professor White will claim ministers are already "moving in the right direction" towards realising his vision of replacing subjects with a series of personal aims for pupils.

But he says they must go further because traditional subjects were invented by the middle classes and are "mere stepping stones to wealth".


Professor White wants ministers to encourage schools to shift away from single-subject teaching to "theme or project-based learning".

Pupils would still cover some content but would be encouraged to meet a series of personal aims. The curriculum already states some of these but is "hampered" by the continued primacy of subjects.

The aims include fostering a model pupil who "values personal relationships, is a responsible and caring citizen, is entrepreneurial, able to manage risk and committed to sustainable development".
Hmm. I think the following quote from Yes, Prime Minister says it best:
Employment Secretary: The National Union of Teachers are scared stiff that conscription will expose the fact that school leavers, while of course being tremendously integrated socially and creatively aware...
Sir Humphrey: Can't actually read, write or do sums, yes.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Britishness Day

I am delighted to announce the return, after an unwarrantably long delay, of Mr Liam Byrne to the pages of this blog. In his latest stunningly wise pronouncement, the Sage of Hodge Hill has proposed that the August bank holiday should become "Britishness Day". On "Britishness Day" people will engage in a "celebration of what we like and love about living in this country", and will hold street parties and carnivals. Sounds fun, doesn't it?

Well, no, actually. Personally I find the idea of participating in some completely artificial celebration of Britishness, instituted by a New Labour apparatchik whose other major contribution to cultural debate has been the prediction that compulsory ID cards will become a "great British institution", thoroughly nauseating. After all, whatever is celebrated on this day, you can be sure it won't be Britishness in any meaningful sense, but rather a watered-down, plastic "Britishness" of empty and meaningless platitudes about "tolerance", "fair play", and the like.

Besides which, I regard all the expressions of patriotism that come from this government as the grossest hypocrisy. This is, after all, the government that has done more than any other to erode the British identity, through its policy of open door immigration, which has transformed large parts of the country, without the consent of the existing population. It is also the government under whose rule perfectly innocuous displays of patriotism have become increasingly frowned upon by those in authority - just consider the number of cases in which displaying the Union Flag and (especially) the Cross of St George has been banned.

To me, Liam Byrne's proposal has the look of a pressure valve. This government, which has done so much to undermine the British (and, particularly, the English) identity, hopes that by giving over one day a year to overt but phoney patriotism, it can keep in check the disquiet engendered by the fact that genuine, albeit often understated, patriotism is taboo the whole year round. Thankfully, I think that the vast majority of people will see through the charade.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Quote of the Day

Anthony Blair announces that he wants to spend most of his remaining years ‘ensuring that religion is seen as a force for good’.

It’s a noble aim, Mr Blair, and, if you really mean it, here’s my suggestion as to how you can achieve it most easily and effectively.

Convert to atheism, today if possible.

Peter Hitchens, Mail on Sunday

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Promoting Christianity is now a hate crime

What is wrong with the West Midlands Police? Just last month they had to pay out £100,000 over their handling of the Undercover Mosque fiasco, and now they are being taken to court by two Christian evangelists who were threatened with arrest for handing out leaflets in a Muslim area of Birmingham.

Arthur Cunningham and Joseph Abraham, both of whom are American, were talking to a group of young men in the Alum Rock Road area of the city when they were approached by a PCSO, who began questioning them about their beliefs. When he discovered their nationality, he, displaying the professionalism for which PCSOs are justly renowned, favoured them with a lengthy diatribe against George Bush, before telling them that as the area was a Muslim one, they were not allowed to preach Christianity there, that doing so constituted a "hate crime", and that if they did not desist they would be arrested. He also told them not to return to the area, saying, "you have been warned. If you come back here and get beaten up, well you have been warned".

As I've remarked before, it seems that incidents like this are happening on a weekly basis, if not more frequently. The West Midlands force has a particularly poor record, but officers from all police forces seem quite happy to use threats and intimidation in order to silence politically-incorrect views, and prevent politically-incorrect behaviour, a category within which promulgating Christian doctrine apparently now falls. I particularly note that, rather than make an effort to ensure that all people are safe to go anywhere in the country without getting beaten up, the PCSO in this case evidently feels that if Messrs Cunningham and Abraham were to get attacked, it would be their own fault, and no concern of his. No wonder dissatisfaction with the police is at
record levels!

The PCSO's comments also indicate that, when Michael Nazir-Ali made his famous remarks about "no go areas", he was absolutely right. After all, the PCSO - who I rather suspect may have been a Muslim himself (update: he was) - made no bones about telling the men that if they preached Christianity in a Muslim area they were at risk of being assaulted. If that doesn't make an area a "no go area", then what does?

This, then, is Britain in 2008: a country in which Muslim preachers can incite murder with impunity, while Christian preachers are threatened with arrest for peacefully handing out leaflets; a country in which free speech is stifled to appease favoured minorities; a country in which certain areas become unsafe for non-Muslims, and our political and religious leaders turn a blind eye. And liberals still can't understand why we don't all embrace multiculturalism and "diversity"!

Hat-tip: Anon, in the comments