Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Lawrence’
It seems that Mrs Albert was not pleased with our gift of a power drill to mark her beloved’s birthday. According to the great – miniscule actually – man she still holds stubbornly to the outdated sexist view that men should look after house maintenance. As we cleaned out the hens on this sunny morning he rather soured the equally sunny mood by banging on about rough justice, and despite our tendency to ignore his every word the term struck a chord.
Our eye was caught by the story in the Independent about the collapse of a series of leading barrister’s chambers. Michael Mansfield QC, whose clients have included the family of Stephen Lawrence and the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, is one such sufferer. It is, he tells us, the result of the government’s reforms of legal aid. Those who can’t afford to hire legal representation will in future have to fend for themselves and the caseload of barristers will collapse. Mr Mansfield believes that the government is trying to undermine the independence of the bar and “its ability to challenge government decisions”. Whilst we instinctively have little sympathy for barristers, we certainly see this as yet another example of what Mansfield describes as “one rule for the poor, another for the rich”.
The Sun has devoted its page 3 to ‘Tina Headturner’ and the rest of the comic to the news that Alan Lewis, a Tory vice-chairman appointed by our dear leader, has been arrested over an alleged rape of a teenage girl 1n the late 1960s. He has been bailed pending “further inquiries”, and no charges have been brought before a court. Why then have the police decided to splash the news? We are always concerned about allegations regarding something that allegedly happened fifty years ago, we are aghast at the police acting as judge and jury.
Another illustration of rough justice lies at the heart of a story featured in most papers. The focus is on a Nottingham hospital where nurses have been “reduced to tears” by their workload and openly tell of patients being left hungry and dehydrated. Down the road at Kings Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield nurses are telling a similar story. They this week told inspectors that; “We cannot go on, it’s terrible, nurses are crying because care is so bad”.
Since the coalition took office 5,500 nurses have been axed, and former Blue Peter presenter Jeremy Hunt has openly admitted that many hospitals are “not staffed to safe levels”. It is rough justice for patients and nurses alike. Right now politicians are falling over themselves to promise improvements in everything known to mankind, it is high time that they committed to rectifying the mess they have made of the NHS. Despite what the unworldly Lansley believes, most people cannot afford private healthcare and the wards available to us are being turned into a nightmare.
The Daily Torygraph does little to stimulate hope of action. According to its lead story Messrs Cameron and Clegg are immersed in negotiations aimed at continuing their heavenly partnership after the 2015 election. How that fits with stories in other papers about a secret pact being forged between Cameron and Farage is less than clear. It does all suggest that our dear leader is not as convinced that “Milband couldn’t win an egg ‘n spoon race”, as he makes out.
But just as we wre concluding that its rough justice all round, a dashing Robin Hood character comes riding to the rescue. Well, Friar Tuck really for it is none other than our favourite pie-eater Eric Pickles. He wants to ban parking spy cameras being used by “overzealous” local authorities to maximise income from parking fines.
In an ever increasingly unjust society the man is a national treasure. he could become our version of Chairman Mao. The rest of them deserve to be eaten alive!
THOUGHTY FOR TODAY; “You know what I hate most about being a public figure? The public!”….Howard Stern
When we codgers were knee-high to grasshoppers the only whistleblowers around were those in black strips who always got it wrong when the opposing team scored a goal. Today the noun has a very different connotation. When ‘tell-tales’, as we initially described them, first emerged we saw them in a negative light. In our naivety we imagined that the only secrets open to exposure were matters of state security. How wrong we were!
Suddenly the floodgates have opened, and more and more people have responded to their consciences. At almost every level of the institution of state we are learning that the public are being misled, spied upon and treated in the fashion we once imagined happened only in the Soviet bloc. We believe the courage given to whistleblowers by the sheer number of practitioners is to be welcomed. Democracy is about openness, ours has clearly been of a more sinister hue.
As I type the American government is launching a worldwide hunt for Edward Snowden. Clearly he broke the terms of his employment but what he revealed had more to do with civil liberties than security. The United States, which has long been trying to play the innocent as a victim of cyber attacks, has been shown to be a villain. The NSA and our own GCHQ have been found to be involved in accessing every possble personal detail of every citizen and, given the power of today’s computers, are in a position to compile analyses of everyone using internet communications. It would not be beyond GCHQ’s capability to find the names of those associated with, say, emails and record them in its memory banks. Big Brother exists!
At a national level it is now clear that many things are not as they seem. Today a police officer has blown his whistle on the four years he lived undercover under instructions to spy on and “smear” the family of murdered teenager Spephen Lawrence. Peter Francis said his superiors wanted him to find “dirt”, that could be used against members of the Lawrence family, in the period after Lawrence’s racist murder in April 1993. Senior officers deliberately chose to withold his role from Sir Wlliam Macpherson who headed a public inquiry to examine the police investigation into the death.
Another revelation of this morning centres around what did or didn’t happen when Andrew Lansley met Kay Sheldon, a member of the Care Quality Commission Board who was under threat for protesting about cover-ups. What really happened is open to debate but one thing is certain, truth was concealed and patients suffered.
Each day brings some new evidence that right across the spectrum suppression of malpractice is the norm. And until the new age of whistleblowing dawned we were all misled, as in the case of Hillsborough. The result of what is now pouring forth is a breakdown of trust between citizen and state.
It is sad reflection on those in control of so many institutions, that we believed to be bastions of integrity, that it has taken the courage of people prepared to sacrifice their careers to enlighten us!
The only hope for a total cleansing of our public services is a continued growth in whistleblowing. Only the revulsion of the public will persuade politicians to act for they, after all, are fully implicated in all that has happened in the world we once trusted!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY; ” The people in our house were all black. The people who killed my son were white. Why were the police so interested in who was in the house? Now we have an explanation”…..Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen.
A dry day with the guarantee of several wet ones to come. Thus tempted we decided on a show of hands on painting the ‘stores’ shed instead of going our various ways this afternoon. Most in favour, Albert and Bill definitely against. Albert, who had planned to watch his local non-league team in action, was miffed and bumbled around muttering about ‘bloody democracy’. In reality it exists only in small groups such as ours. At national level we constantly lecture troubled countries about the aim of democracy, but tend to ignore the fact that our system of government is anything but democratic.
Every week brings examples of politicians pressing on with policies that were not so much as mentioned at the general election, and this government is no worse than its predecessors. Lansley’s decimation of the NHS is an obvious example, but the daddy of them all is Europe. Demands for a referendum on EU membership have rumbled on for years, all three major parties have invariably produced one cock-and-bull story after another to avoid allowing the populace to express an opinion.
Today we have the result of a special constituency poll conducted by the multi-party ‘People’s Pledge’ organisation. Over 47,000 ballot forms were distributed across the Thurrock constituency and the ‘turn-out’ was over one-third, higher than that in many local ‘democratic’ elections. No fewer that 89.9% backed a referendum!
Ian McKenzie, the campaign’s communications director, said that the outcome is “unignorable”, and added that the sitting MP and her Labour opponent cannot “stick their fingers in their ears”. The number voting for a referendum was almost equal to the number that elected Jackie Doyle-Price, the Conservative candidate at the general election, but she continues to vote against any move in parliament to trigger a referendum.
The question asked on the ballot paper was a simple one; “Voters should be given a national referendum on whether the UK remains a member of the European Union. Agree or disagree?”. Of course it doesn’t follow that those in favour of a democratic process are necessarily against membership, but many people are beginning to ask what benefits we actually derive.
Perhaps the biggest negative is the right of any EU citizen to come to the UK. Our population growth is out of control and our infrastructure overwhelmed, yet each month sees large numbers arrive from Eastern Europe. Close behind this negative is the enormous cost of membership and the obligation to help fund struggling economies within the Euro, plus the constant implications of control of our courts and employment laws.
But I musn’t bang on about negatives for supporters of EU membership will have their own counter-arguments. The point is that neither the pros nor the cons are ever allowed to voice an opinion. The Labour party and the Lib Dems seem intoxicated with the European dream and are both determined not to risk the electorate disagreeing. The Conservatives are divided and its leaders are perfectly happy to use the Clegg factor as an excuse for refusing the people a voice.
Of course politicians study polls in the way that Albert studies certain pages of The Sun. They know that the overwhelming public view is anti-EU membership and they have no intention of risking that becoming a formal statement.
There is nothing we can do about it other than accept that we do not live in a democracy. Bit of an overstatement? Hardly. If an MP votes against the expressed view of almost nine out of ten of the people she represents, it seems a very reasonable accusation!
THE MOST ALARMING QUOTE OF THE DAY!
“Here we are 14 years later with the worst kind of blatent and violent racism by police. Even worse is that the officers appear to be doing it openly in front of colleagues. Such a group of constables could not be routinely racist like this without their seniors being aware and telling them to stop. I fear this is more than just a few bad apples!”
Yesterday; Dr Richard Stone, a former member of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry panel.
Another wretched morning on the allotments. Whether damage to hen-runs qualifies as the ‘structural damage’ so beloved by weathermen I know not, but either way our little world is in chaos. And to tip the balance in favour of emigrating to Australia, whoever controls the water tap up there has decided to turn it on again. Baths may be prohibited in Surbiton, up here in’t north you can have one without bothering to go inside. Mind you, the bankers of Surbiton probably bathe in champagne.
Despite all this we are all much cheered by the sight of justice being done at last in the Stephen Lawrence case, at least in trespect of two pof his ghastly assailants of eighteen years ago. One can only admitre his parents who never gave up in thir search for justice. It was no surprise that Stephen’s mother spoke out in condemnation of the police, whose perfromance has been truly appalling. And part of the explanation is the fact that many of the officers of the day were racists. Since logic dictates that anyone holding racist views is inevitably moronic that tells us a great deal about the quality of many of those to whom we entrusted the task of law and order. The Met? Keystone Cops!
It has always seemed to us indisputable that no one of even moderate intelligence can possibly believe that the colour of someone’s skin makes him superior or inferior to another human being. It simply defies logic. I recently travelled to an away match in support of a non-league soccer team and witnessed a classic example of the point. During the first half a small group of white louts constantly taunted a black player. At half time a formidible lady confronted them. She remarked that they clearly saw themselves as superior to the victim. He had just earned his doctorate in science and she asked how their degrees could posssibly be better. She, of course, knew the answer which was that they hadn’t a brain cell between them.
Many of today’s papers claim that the sad case of Stephen Lawrence changed Britain. I beg to differ. If anything, it made things worse in that it heralded an age of political correctness in which the implication was that all non-white skinned people are hard-working and beyond any allowed reproach. Illogical. The colour of our skins is an irrelevant fact of nature and conveys nothing about behaviour or character. As a long-term employee in the NHS I worked with people of every conceivable race, each one included good and kindly people and bad and unkind ones. The only route to sanity is to drop labels and to marginalise morons.
The whole subject seemed to me to have considerable relevance to the death of Ronald Searle, which was announced yesterday. The cartoonist was best known for his spiky comic drawings depicting the outrageous antics of the St Trinians girls, and for his illustrations of the Molesworth series. But he rightly wished to be remembered for much more than those. He created an alternative to the conformity of Harold Macmillan’s Britain and he ridiculed any form of authority or behaviour that we were supposed to accept and follow.
Searle gave the Britain of the 1950s a sense of anarchy, a healthy scepticism and a plea to think for ourselves and to do so in a logical way. Race relations had not then become an industry but had it done so there is no doubt that the great cartoonist would have found eye-catching ways to show the stupidity and illogicality of any importance placed on what coloured-skin this person or that was landed with.
I have yet to meet any sane person of even average intelligence who believes in superiority based on race. You may raise an eyebrow here and point to many powerful dictators who were, or are, driven by just that. But I did add the rider ‘sane’!