Posts Tagged ‘Theresa May’
The Ashes series starts today and for once cricket buffs will not be casting wary eyes up yonder. On days like this it feels good to be alive and the old codgers were a cheerful bunch as the daily ritual of hen-cleaning got underway. But we were few in number, for Albert is in Porthmadog and several others are on their way to Trent Bridge.
Few expect this series to be as thrilling as some of its predecessors. It is unwise to underrate the Aussies but today’s challengers look less of a threat on paper. Either way we already have a talking-point, the authorities have banned Billy the Buglar. Those of my pals with tickets are less than dismayed by that, although the lad does play remarkably well. When, in the past, I have complained at the antics of his colleagues in the so-called ‘Barmy Army’ I have been subjectd to a barrage of abuse. The Army, I am told, is highly valued by the players and does much to raise money for charity. But so do many of those who prefer to focus on the cricket. It is a classic example of the two sides of human rights!
Of far greater import is the latest -ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. Yesterday it decided that a “whole life” tariff, which forces murderers to die in jail, was “inhuman and degrading”. It was responding to an appeal launched by Jeremy Bamber, who killed five members of his family in 1985. The decision means that some of Britain’s most notorious killers such as Peter Sutcliffe and Ian Brady could be granted permission to seek parole. They have the right, said the Judges, to hope.
In contrast their victims have had their hope of life taken away. Small wonder that Paul Bone, the father of Pc Fionna Bone, whose killer, Dale Cregan, was given a whole life tariff last month is “disgusted and appalled”. His reaction is similar to that of every relative of victims. Unsurprisingly the response from politicians is equally hostile.
Prime Minister, Home Secretary and Justice Secretary all expressed fury but have no right of appeal. The latter, Chris Grayling, said the original authors of the human rights laws, which were drawn up in the Fifties to avoid a repeat of the atrocities witnessed during the Second World War, would be “spinning in their graves”. The British people, he added, “will find this ruling intensely frustrating and hard to understand”.
We codgers agree. The European Court constantly fails to demonstrate balance. So preoccupied is it with the rights of criminals that it seems to have lost all sight of the rights of victims. Surely the time has come to say that enough is enough, our own courts are perfectly capable of ensuring that justice is seen to be done.
This is yet another dreadful judgement from a discredited court. There have been the ludicrous ruling regarding votes for long-term criminals, the obstruction of the deportation of terrorist suspects, and a host of others. Yet only Theresa May has been brave enough to suggest that the powers vested in Brussels be taken back. Surely that is the only logical course, always provided that the powers are taken over by our courts rather than politicians who are less trusted than even the European judges.
Harsh? Just take a look at anything they handle. The NHS is a good place to start. We now learn that Lansley’s reforms have already cost the service £1.7 billion. The cost is far higher than expected because – surprise, surprise – nearly 3000 of the people paid handsome redundancies have since been rehired. Chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, Margaret Hodge, complains that the reforms are merely an expensive “merry-go-round”.
Baldrick could have foreseen that!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY; ” Celebrity is nothing. What does it mean? Very little. Cancer is very real!” Sir Michael Parkinson
We codgers have been around a long time, but we cannot recall a time when the gulf between leaders and led has been so great. We were reminded of this when Bob brought his copy of the Express on to the allotments this morning. A new poll has revealed that voters are angry at the EU for curbing Britain’s power to limit immigration, and a majority would vote to exit if given the choice.
But our leaders take a different view. Clegg and Miliband are determined to continue membership, Cameron talks vaguely of a referendum after negotiation but makes clear that he too wishes to stay on board the Merkel Titanic. If seems to us that the old concept of the elected taking heed of their elector’s vews has died the death. Only Ukip reflect the majority view and they are hardly likely to form a government.
And the lack of control over our borders has direct relevance to the public’s greatest concern right now - the ever increasing number of enemies within. The appalling Woolwich murder has provided a terrible reminder of the depths to which our internal security has plummeted, and the ease with which yet more undesirables can enter unchallenged gaurantees that the situation will continue to deteriorate.
As on each occasion before and since 7/7, the debate in recent days has covered the usual familiar terrain. Our dear leader and all leading politicians have given grandstanding speeches about how “we will never give in to terrorism”. They speak as if there was some likelihood of getting the Queen to stepdown with a view to instituting sharia law. Next, politicians and pundits from all sides of the aisle spout whatever is their pet security grievance.
We have heard it all before. There was even someone who called for the banning of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. That is exactly what Tony Blair said he would do after 7/7 and David Cameron swore he would do when he became PM. Today – as on each occasion before – absolutely nothing important will be done. The door remains open and the national obsession with political correctness influences everything said or done.
In fairness there is one politician who genuinely wants to act. Theresa May knows the security issues this country faces. She knows the number of people under observation who plan to carry out attacks. But in every direction she is scuppered. At every turn she and those who want to keep this country safe and to defeat the enemy within, find people who are working not just against them, but all of us.
Incredibly members of the cabinet feature amongst these. Take Sayeeda Warsi. Ever since he promoted her in the interests of PC the Prime Minister has found himself stuck with the Baroness. Too incapable to have her own department, and having failed spectacularly in her role as party chairman, Warsi was given a consolation title; ‘Minister for faith and communities’. Time and again she has given sustenance to the enemies within.
In March Baroness Warsi addressed a FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies) conference in Westminister. The conference discussed the ‘demonising’ of Muslim students. Just before the Baroness spoke there was a speech by an Islamist who believes that the beheading of those who leave Islam is not only right but ‘painless’. Shortly after she had spoken, one of her platform colleagues called for the release of a convicted al-Qa’eda terrorist. This is the kind of help Theresa May gets from some of her own colleagues.
Another barrier is the civil service. In the Home Office, and across related departments, are senior civil servants who think they know best. They actively work against May. Much of the civil service work against the government’s anti-terrorism agenda, fail to implement it, implement it wrongly, or go after pet peeves of their own as a condition of doing the job they are supposed to do. Sir Humphrey lives and in this instance it is no cause for mirth.
Last, but far from least, of the Home Secretary’s obstacles is the European Convention on Human Rights. It has tied this country up in a nightmarish bind. Mrs May must by now have spent longer on the case of Abu Qatada than any other. She has flown to Jordan to get yet further assurances and understandings from the government, yet nothing is ever enough to satisfy the ECHR or our own courts, which now feel wholly subservient to its whims.
Of course we could do what the French and Italians have done, and simply ignore the ECHR. In fact the Italians don’t even bother to pay the paltry fines the court sends out to the disobedient. But the British remain honest in implementing even dishonest laws.
Since the Woolwich slaughter many people have asked the same questions. Will it change things? Is this the last straw? Sadly the answer is no. Not only are there leading figures across all parties that believe soft pedalling is the only route to good race relations, there are also many people and powers in place to stop this country doing what it needs to do.
Which is? Deport illegals, lock up radicals, restrict immigration, tell the sympathisers the game is up. Right-wing claptrap? If you think that take a look at the alternative, or simply consider the fate of a young soldier daring to wear a ‘help for heroes’ tee-shirt!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY; ” We might get back control over the shape of a widget, but there’s no way we’re going to get back control over our borders”…Nigel Farage .
Even the brass monkeys needed duffle coats this morning. We codgers have never understood how the boffins calculate the chill factor, which to us is an incomprehensible as Duckworth-Lewis, all we know is that it must have been in the zillions as we cleaned out the hens. On such a day I like to imagine myself as Titus Oates, today I felt like an old shivering geezer shuffling about in an abbatoir deep-freeze unit. It was certainly a relief to retire to the shed, there to wrap my aching digits around a mug of tea laced with rum.
For different reasons it is likely that our wonderful nation’s less than wonderful leaders are also feeling a chill today. The eagerly awaited Observer opinion poll was published last night and it is dramatic. Ukip’s national support has climbed to 17%, more than double the Lib Dem’s all-time low of 8%, so bang goes our theory that the Cleggites are on the up. In fact, given the hostile reception that Master Nick received yesterday at the party’s spring conference, it begins to look as though he is on the way out.
The Conservative share has fallen again and now rests at 27%, whilst Labour at 40% is statistically on course to win the next general election with a majority of 84. A remarkable achievement since Ed Miliband and his pals seem to have done little to stir the public imagination. Clearly all they need to do is sit tight and benefit from the build up of public anger.
Even more worrying for our dear leader are the findings of the poll conducted amongst Conservative party members by Lord Ashcroft. Those expecting their party to secure a majority has fallen to just single figures, and even those expecting to share power in a coalition has halved from 60% to 30% since March 2012. The poll concludes that the Tories are likely to win only 16 of the 109 seats that will be most fiercely contested with Labour.
Overhanging all of this is the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, an event that arguably triggered the decline of the standing of politicains in the public esteem. When Blair was finally obliged to seek the support of the Commons he received total backing from the Conservatives. Of the main parties at the time only the Lib Dems withheld support.
Today Blair stands accused by Britain’s ambassador to the United States, Sir Christopher Meyer, of having a “black and white view that was more evangelical than even the American Christian Right”. He criticises the unquestioning support of Blair for George W Bush and the total lack of planning for post-war Iraq which led to “a decade of violent chaos and the ultimate humiliation of the ill-equipped British forces”
Stephen Hadley, Mr Bush’s deputy security adviser, says that at a private meeting held 12 months before the invasion Mr Blair committed absolutely to joining the Americans in whatever they decided to do. Mark Etherington, a Foreign Office official put in charge of an entire Iraqi province after the invasion says there were inadequate troops and the British effort was “fatally lacking binding strategy under unified leadership”.
Of course these anniversary ‘revelations’ tell us nothing we did not already suspect. A British prime minister lied to the country and, for his moment of world glory, sacrificed the lives of millions, including so many of our own troops.
From that time on our role-models and heroes have been gleaned ftrom celluloid fantasy, we no longer trust those whom we elect. And now it seems that they have compounded their image of untrustworthiness with incompetence.
As if on cue 25 Tory MPs revealed yesterday that they are hopeful of obtaining the further 20 signatures that would force a leadership challenge. Cameron, they say, is failing to cut spending or taxes to help boost the economy. One of the leading rebels admitted that their main target is George Osborne who has become immensely unpopular within the party, but “we cannot win in 2015 without a change of leadership”.
All the signs are that as one fiasco follows another the back-bench rebels are becoming bolder. This week they will demand that our dear leader becomes more specific about his vague plans for an EU referendum. Amidst all the growing clamour strides Theresa May. She of course professes undying loyalty to the Chipping Norton lad, but is engaged in a series of speeches extolling a new “Vision of Conservatism”. Thatcher mark 2 is on the drawing board!
‘Orange’ regularly tell us that the future is bright. They increasingly sound like a lonely trumpet!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY “Heaven, as conventionally conceived, is a place so inane, so dull, so useless, so miserable, that nobody has ever ventured to describe a whole day in heaven, though plenty have described a day at the seaside!”…..George Bernard Shaw
No rain this morning but our wellies still sank into the mud as we cleaned out the hens. The thought of our praying for hard frosts would have seemed ludicrous just a few years ago, but now we are on our knees. We are also gardeners and are noticing with alarm the presence of an army of slugs resting under every stone we turn. The coming growing season is going to be a very frustrating one unless we get a spell of the hard stuff!
Someone up there is treating us badly. And down here on planet earth injustice, it seems to us, is similarly being thrown around with gusto. We are not lawyers and simply do not understand what has happened to the old practice of people accused of crimes being named only when charges are preferred, and of pre-trial issues being treated as sub-judice.
In the wake of the Savile affair an ever increasing number of arrests of well-known celebs is featuring in the media. The most recent announcements follow a similar pattern. Various women have come forward with claims that some twenty to thirty years ago an assault took place. They were in their twenties at the time so we are not considering child abuse here.
The accused are then ‘arrested’ and their identities revealed, are plastered across the front pages of every newspaper and included in every TV news bulletin. They are then bailed without charges being made to “enable investigations to take place”. In the eyes of the public, arrested means charged but there is a world of difference, the probability is that the arrest was simply triggered by an accusation which may, or may not, be a truthful one.
Our concern is heightened by statements being made about generous compensation. We have no way of knowing who is telling the truth or exaggerating. That is for a court of law to decide. We codgers simply find it outrageous that immediately anyone comes forward with an account of something that happened decades ago, the accused is pilloried and dragged through the mud.
It all has the stench of rough justice. We cannot escape the conclusion that the right of everyone to a trial by twelve unprejudiced good men and women is being jeopardised.
In a round-about sort of way the same attitude of diluting what is the authority of the courts is emerging in regard to issues such as deportation. Yes, we all share the Home Secretary’s frustration when the proposed deportation of known terrorists is overuled on appeal. But do we really go along with Theresa May’s latest decision to fight the courts in regard to Roseline Akhalu?
Doctors have testified that should she be deported to Nigeria she would face an agonising death within four weeks because she would not have access to vital anti-rejection drugs. She was in the UK legally when she suffered kidney-failure and underwent a transplant in 2009. There seems no doubt that deportation would be a death sentence yet again the tendency seems to be to do everything possible to weaken the role of the courts.
It is of course easy to dismiss both examples as being irrelevant to us. But what if we were accused of something we didn’t do long ago. What if we were threatened with deportation which meant certain death?
One of the few treasured principles to which we Brits can still cling is the right to justice at the hands of the courts. If we lose even that we will have taken yet another step backwards.
Much rubbing of hands on the allotments this morning, and it wasn’t all down to the icy wind. To a man the codgers seem delighted at Barack Obama’s re-election. He has struck us as a caring man, and one most likely to use America’s undeniable muscle in a peaceful direction. Of course he will continue to struggle with the economy but so would anyone. To us at least there is something likeable about the guy, not a description we use often when observing our own muppets. However, distance lends enchantment and almost half of the American electorate clearly disagrees with us. Mind you it is the half that believes that wealth should determine the quality of a citizen’s healthcare!
Sadly our own society has its own dark shadows. Few shadows come darker than a society’s failure to protect its children from abuse and it is becoming very clear that Savile was, to quote an earlier headline on this blogsite, merely the tip of a foul iceberg. If any good can be said to come from such an appalling affair it is that victims now feel able to speak out about experiences that still haunt them, and which in many cases have accompanied mentally tortured souls to their graves. Surely, given the extent of public revulsion, we are at last going to purge our souls by establishing the truth and taking hard action to mark this as the moment at which society cut out the cancer in its midst.
There are substantial reasons to doubt that. Yesterday Theresa May announced several new inquiries, including an inquiry into an earlier inquiry. Before we know it half of the great and good will be serving on inquiries into everyone else. There are several problems with that, not least the fact that there is growing evidence that the paedophile network includes people regarded as both great and good. It is also obvious that one cannot examine sections of the cesspit in isolation.
Tom Watson, MP, has established a reputation as a dogged pursuer of the truth, one well deserved given his exposure of the phone-hacking scandal. Yesterday he warned the Commons that a series of independent inquiries will create the “building blocks of yet another cover-up”. Seperate inquiries into Savile and the Welsh care home would, he said, continue to “protect the despicable paedophiles who have already been protected by the establishment for years”. For good measure he threw in mention of a “paedophile cabinet minister”!
Watson finished by asking if the Home Secretary can live with what she has announced – the next stage of a cover-up. MPs normally quick to rise to the defence of Tory ministers under attack said little, They have come to regard anything announced by Watson as likely to be near to the unpalatable truth.
The reality is that allegations of abuse in institutions have been known for decades. What is needed is not another inquiry but a full, long overdue police investigation. The horrors of the Savile scandal have at last made the unimaginable imaginable. Allegations that children abused in care homes and schools across Britain have sometimes also been abused by powerful outsiders are not new. But not one of the various inquiries announced has the power, remit, skills or resources to investigate properly.
How could they? The paedophile rings preying on children in care are a form of organised crime. Only an expert national taskforce, staffed by detectives and senior social workers with track records in collaring paedophiles, have the faintest chance of cracking them. These rings all join up. An investigator may start by looking at a home in north Wales but soon will be looking at a linked home in London or Devon. Paedophiles protect each other and swap children, references, cover stories, venues and customers. And they have in their midst some very powerful people with government connections.
Tom Watson has based his latest allegations on information from a child protection whistleblower who contacted him because he was once in a team of just the kind needed now. It was a brilliant prototype, a joint police/social services investigation. It produced establishment names and revealed an alleged linked cover-up by Labour – paedophilia is a cross-party crime – and was shut down in mysterious circumstances. Not one of the implicated men was prosecuted.
Inquiries of the kind proposed by Cameron and May are bound to fail and not merely because of vested interests. Such bodies depend largely upon the testimony of surviving abuse victims. Children brought up in care have often suffered cruel or tragic family lives, poor education and horrific abuse in the system suposed to protect them. Many later survive through prostitution and petty crime, serve time in mental hospitals or jail and become addicted to drugs and alcohol. They are easily attacked as poor and unreliable witnesses. It is obscene to make them relive childhood tortures unless other evidence is looked at too.
How much do we care? If the answer is a lot we should campaign against yet more inquiries stuffed with do-gooders with no real powers and even less relevant experince. We don’t need more hand-wringing and zillion page reports. We need a national team prepared to kick down doors and rescue tormented innocents. We need a team of suspicious hard-nosed professionals with powers to inspect unannounced any organisation involving children. We need a team with no links into powerful politicians.
The announced inquiries will fail. What we don’t know is whether that is the precise intention!
Our headline may have puzzled you. Are the codgers about to exclusively reveal that the Labour leader once fell foul of Dixon’s descendants? No, the words are intended to sum up a test that we believe should be applied as the latest party conference kicks off in Manchester. For days now, as we have gathered for our mid-morning brew on the allotments, we have been bemused by the superficial material appearing in the media about someone who might one day be the prime minister. We decided that the debate should really centre around policy, hence the reference to the police.
Several days ago we revealed talks between David Cameron and his press friends in which he called for attacks on the Labour leader. The newspapers have responded with gusto, encouraged no doubt by hints that our dear leader might be persuaded to ignore whatever Lord Leveson comes up with. Ed Miliband, they tell us, has no charisma, is hopeless in front of cameras, has a nasal twang and none of the beaming joyfulness of a Blair or Cameron.
The Daily Torygraph has this morning wheeled on mad Boris. He pays glowing tribute to Tony Blair, “the most successful Labour leader in modern times”. Anyone, says Boris, could cheerfully vote for Blair. “You could vote for Blair and use private medicine, vote for Blair and send your children to private schools, vote for Blair and be a well-heeled boss of a multinational corporation”, says the mad one.
I suppose that the problem facing the would be character-assassins is that Miliband can hardly be expected to have detailed policy proposals two years ahead of an election campaign. But they really do seem to be scraping the barrel. We codgers include in our numbers people of every political persuasion, and many of none. But we all agree on one thing, we are sick to the back teeth, that we no longer have, with political leaders with a bloated swaggering sense of personal destiny. And we are sick of actors posing as earnest leaders. Remember those inspiring performances by Nick Clegg in the TV debates?
Of course we acknowledge that Ed Miliband is less than a bundle of laughs, not the sort of geezer you would hire to entertain your kids on a wet bonfire night. We fear for him in any TV debate with the Morecambe and Wise of politics. Compared to Blair he is a true pleb. But he does appear to be honest.
We codgers on the jury are out. Our judgement on the latest new-boy on the political circuit will be based not on the shape of his nose but the shape of his policies. These may be early days but we would like to set him a little test. What will he do about the police?
Yesterday the home secretary, Theresa May, joined hundreds of people in York Minster paying tribute to police officers who have died on duty, including the two PCs killed a fortnight ago in Manchester. We believe that she had no moral right to be there for this government has done more to imperil police lives that any previous administration.
Right now, in areas such as Salford, there is rampant gun-crime. Harsh cuts to police numbers mean that regular round-the-clock neighbourhood policing has had to be curtailed and informal communication with the community has been lost. Response times to less than murder have slowed down. This is not unique to Greater Manchester, across the country communities have lost their local police-stations and their community officers. The police have no choice other than to become reactive rather than proactive.
Even in town-centre disturbances it is now often the case that two officers have to attempt to contain large groups of aggressive drunks. Back up can be a long time coming and the danger of serious injury is an ever-present nightmare.
Sir Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Mnchester, spoke movingly yesterday about the thousands of officers killed, and the uplift given to his force by the public response to the deaths of Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes. We codgers live in the region and we know that he is right, people from every walk of life have been deeply moved by what happened to those two dedicated young women. We also know that many are concerned at what is being done to the police in our name.
When ministers comment that times are hard and everyone must tighten their belts they miss a central truth. Whether we realise it or not we all rely on the police to maintain order in an increasingly fractious society. Army apart, it is a unique calling, the threat of serious injury or death never more than a dark corner away. And the fewer police there are the greater the danger to them and to to all of us.
So there is our challenge. We care not a fig that Ed Miliband cannot match Cameron, Clegg, Blair or mad Boris in the acting business, we care only about his plans. If he has one for restoring the morale and safety of our police we would like to hear it!
So much for the St Swithin nonsense! No rain yesterday so no rain for a month, according to Albert. As we waded through inch-deep mud this morning he said that it doesn’t always work. It occurred to me that my old pal would make a good minister, he makes confident promises and, without so much as a blush, then rationalises failure. Mind you, even he would be better than Jeremy Hunt!
Yesterday JH appeared on the BBC, presumably chosen to defend the chaotic Olympics security scandal. Who chose him of all people is hard to fathom, surely even our dear leader has by now realised that the Culture Secretary is, as they say in Wigan, three pence short of a shilling. Mr Hunt told the nation that GS4 is an “honourable company”. Then he added earnestly that it was “completely normal” for such a firm to “be unable to deliver on its commitments”. Even by Hunt standards this was a truly astonishing statement. If the government approaches major contracts in this spirit it is no surprise that the providers develop a maybe, maybe not approach to what should be an absolute guarantee.
Hunt always strikes me as a dimwitted version of a Blue Peter presenter. One can easily imagine him heading off to teach the world how to build an Olympic stadium out of bog-rolls. It is more difficult to come to terms with the fact that he is in a leading position to influence whether we have athletics or bombs. And he had even more illuminating comments to make. The government has plans to send in even more troops as G4S have yet to start training thousands more ‘guards’. Bit late to be starting training now even if it does only consist of a couple of lectures! No, said Hunt, this is completely normal.
It was perhaps just as well that, at the time of Hunt’s interview, news had not arrived of a Daily Telegraph investigation into the state of preparedness of Border Force, the organisation responsible for handling immigration queues at Heathrow.
Up to 500 extra poeple have been drafted in following last week’s public uproar. Within five minutes of starting work one member of the contingency team struggled to process a Ukranian passenger on the grounds that he didn’t know whether Ukraine was part of the EU. Many of the other emergency draftees did not understand the Warnings Index, which identifies people with suspect immigration histories. The undercover reporter discovered that this may have led to terrorist suspeccts being waved through.
Also revealed is that staff on the EU desks have not been inspecting passports properly. EU passports with a biometric chip should be scanned to ensure that they are genuine. It is probable that faked passport-holders have also been waved through. In fairness to the temporary staff, there has been little time for training. Theresa May cut staff numbers by 900 and, as with G4S, only realised that she was in trouble just days ago.
Come to think about it perhaps Hunt was right, failures on this collosal scale are “completely normal”. They certainly are when people like Theresa May and Blue Peter Jeremy are in charge.
It may be unfair on both Army and Police that at the eleventh hour they are having to cancel leave, and damage their operating capacity, to bail out incompetent ministers. But ironically the effect will be to make the Games more secure. But that is no thanks to the comedy double act of May and Hunt.
As we now know, to them giant cock-ups are “completely normal”. They also love talking about the national interest. If they really meant that they would both set off into the sunset right now. But they won’t for both have already demonstrated that they also regard as completely normal the idea of sacking subordinates to save their own wretched skins!
JOHN TERRY THE HISTORY REVISIONIST!
So impressed were we by John Terry’s explanation of what really happened between himself and Anton Ferdinand that we decided to apply the Terry technique to history, specifically Marie Antoinette.
The Queen of France and wife of the ill-fated Loius XV1 has been much maligned for her allegedly cold-hearted response to the shortage of bread for the people. “Let them eat cake”, she is alleged to have said.
Using the Terry method we realise that this is a classic case of a correct statement being wrongly punctuated. Marie was actually hosting a tea party when a courtier entered to tell her that the populace were starving. She answered “Let them eat!”. She was at the time offering a plate of fancies to a Duchess with the word “Cake?”.
Try for yourself with other examples of historical injustices. Terry rules OK.
St Swithin Day and not a spot of the wet stuff so far. Albert marched around in his shirtsleeves this morning telling everyone that, should it stay thus all day we can rely on a month of sahara-like conditions. He will, I suspect, look even dafter than usual when the heavens open tomorrow! But there was little appetite for weather chat, with the exception of my loopy pal everyone is hopping mad about the ever escalating revelations about Olympics security. Suddenly an event that the nation had looked forward to with relish is clouded with doubts.
This morning we learn that a confidential report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary was presented to Home Office ministers in September 2011. It warned that there were problems with the ability of G4S to provide security for the Games. In another development, ExCel, the largest competition venue at the Games, last night revealed it had been raising concerns with Locog, the London 2012 organisers, about the handling of security by G4S for “several months”.
In yet another revelation former Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, who headed security planning for the Games, said the problems were “predictable”. His statement goes on to say that he couldn’t understand “how you could give such a contract to one company. Venues like Wembley already have their own security, and it would have been logical to oontract those who are doing it day in and day out”. He also slammed the decision to make the Home Office responsible for operational planning rather than the Met, which plans up to 4000 events per year.
It now transpires that even more troops may be required. This has serious implications for an undermanned army already struggling to maintain a significant presence in Afghanistan. Patrick Mercer, a Conservative MP and former Army officer, yesterday warned of the effect of the late call up of thousands of additional troops for the Olympics. One immediate impact will be that troops due to carry out a tour in Afghanistan will now have to extend the tour’s length, possibly from 6 to 12 months!
The government’s strategy of slashing police and army numbers in favour of privatisation of many security duties lies in tatters this morning. As revealed on this site yesterday the most serious fact to emerge about G4S is not its failure to meet its commitment in terms of numbers, but the poor training and vetting of those it puts into uniform. As do other private security firms, G4S pays a miminum wage and relies on unemployed candidates. Yes, there are some good people out there right now seeking work, but there are also some decidedly dodgy ones with agendas of their own. It is entirely possible that some of those selected in such a casual way are themselves terrorists!
The question of using private companies for major events must surely be high on the post-Olympics political agenda. The successful introduction of Community Support Officers has shown that it is possible to have well-trained and carefully vetted people in uniform to take on the more mundane roles from costly police officers. And to work as part of the total force.
But even higher on the agenda must be the departure of Theresa May. Long before this latest fiasco this site had argued that she is hardly the epitome of what a Home Secretary should be. Yes, she is posh and is part of the close-knit posh clique at the heart of government but she is careless of detail and a buck-passer of the highest order. Like The Murdochs, Jeremy Hunt and Bob Diamond she casually admits to not knowing what is going on. The average householder would have monitored the progress of someone employed to refit their kitchen more closely than she has done with a contractor charged with security at an event that will have attracted attention from every madman in our divided society.
Long after the Games are but a memory, security will be a huge issue in this country. At its head we need someone who is largely apolitical, tough, thorough and with an extensive knowledge of real security. What we don’t want is someone who failed to monitor the Border Agency and, when problems became apparent, immediately sacked the nearest underling, who has been awarded compensation for unfair dismissal. Frankly she is Jeremy Hunt in a frock.
Of course the Games will be safer now that the majority of the front-line operatives are professionals. But that is no thanks to Mrs May or her boss. Her departure would truly be in the national interest of which our dear leader loves to talk!
WHY CAMERON WON’T HOLD AN INDEPENDENT LIBOR INQUIRY
Many are still puzzled by the refusal of our dear leader to hold a public independent inquiry into the Barclays Libor interest-rate fiddling scandal. Could it be that exposure of the over-cosy relationship with the establishment might be embarrassing?
Among the non-executive directors at the time of the scandal were former HM Revenue & Customs executive chairman Sir Richard Broadbent, along with Sir Andrew Likierman. Howell James, former permanent secretary in the Cabinet Office, also joined the bank as its top corporate-affairs spin-doctor. The top number-cruncher was Chris Lucas who worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers before joining Barclays in 2007. And which external firm audits Barclays annual accounts and handles much government work? PwC of course.
All of these have, shall we say, good relationships with the world of Osborne et al. Too much digging could prove embarrassing. And, as reported on this site, to avoid the new ‘whitewash’ committee asking difficult questions our dear leader has sacked the two members most likely to do so.
Two days without torrential rain. We codgers try very hard to live in the now, the only way to stay cheerful since the weathermen are warnng of wetter days to come. Perhaps a miracle will happen. They do. At least one appeared to have occurred yesterday when one hen laid three eggs. It is in isolation at present and when Tom locked the coop on Tuesday night the nest-box was empty. Last night I found three eggs. Experts will tell us that it can’t happen, but it did. Perhaps God has a sense of humour?
The British people certainly need one when contemplating the performance of our hapless Home Secretary. This site has often expressed a feeling of insecurity at the thought that she of the leopard-skin shoes in in charge of, er, security. The Border Agency has repeatedly demonstrated that anyone so inclined can slip through our airport controls whilst the law-abiding queue patiently for hours on end. Over the weekend a passenger for whom police were waiting at the international terminal at Manchester Airport simply slipped out via the domestic exit. Today we learn that hundreds of untrained civil servants will man the gates during the Olympics and, to speed things up, will “ask fewer questions”. Perhaps a sign declaring ‘no bombs allowed’ would help?
Today we learn of the latest cock-up on Theresa’s watch. Several weeks ago this site ranted about the performance of security firm G4S after it dumped young security staff, coached to London for the Jubilee pageant, on the pavement at 3.00am. It was not a reassuring story but the Home Office expressed great confidence in the private sector security experts. Now it has been warned that the company cannot guarantee it will be able to supply the 13,700 guards it is contracted to provide for the Olympics. How on earth can this fact have been discovered just two weeks before the torch is fired?
Many people have long questioned the over-reliance on a private concern for an event of this importance and vulnerability. Just how well trained are folk with no previous experience and who are in uniform within ten minutes of being recruited? Just how much of a deterrent are they to someone not inclined to wait in a queue? But such doubts are academic now, the company has apparently failed to recruit enough personnel, a strange failure given the present levels of unemployment.
So, with just two weeks to go the Army has been ordered to provide up to 3,500 extra troops. Not surprisingly the military authorities are less than pleased. They have been faced with implementing massive cuts which will reduce army strength to the lowest level since the Napoleanic wars. The only extra personnel available are troops just back from Afghanistan and their leave must be postponed. To crown it all the accomodation is apparently spartan in the extreme, amongst the missing facilities are toilets!
If it were not so potentially serious this would be hilarious. Presumably Mrs May and her team have been aware for some time of the date for the Olympics, and one would have imagined that having made the controversial decision to sub-contract security to a private company it would have monitored it closely.
Hopefully we will get away with it, but what is happening will not have escaped the notice of the madmen we allow to live amongst us. Ironically the late decision to use soldiers alongside police officers will, if anything, tighten security. But that raises one more question.
Because it lacks the will to tackle the massive deficit arising from tax-avoidance, the government is attempting to balance the books by slashing police and army numbers. Are we seriously going to rely on private sector profit makers to provide security in times of major events or public disturbances?
HAS ED MILIBAND LOST HIS MARBLES?
Things have gone well for Ed Miliband of late. Trust in politicians generally has sunk to an all-time low, but the Labour Party has shown signs of recognising that and the performance of the coalition in almost every respect has led to a huge lead in the polls. So unpopular has the coalition become that Ed Miliband can afford to keep mum and the keys to Number Ten will be his.
But he has decided to welcome back Tony Blair. In a joint presentation yesterday Ed and Tony staged the equivalent of the Cameron/Clegg rose garden love-in. Raised eyebrows all round. Grunts of delight from our dear leader.
Ed Miliband was beginning to represent a possible fresh start, removed from the sleazy world of spin, corruption, Murdoch and the rich boys. Blair was implicated in all those things, and by way of a bonus became a godfather to godfather Murdoch’s grandson. Even worse he lied over the Iraq invasion, an act for which he will never be forgiven, least of all by families destroyed.
An old adage has it that those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad. As Ena Sharples used to say, Miliband should think on!
We trooped on to the allotments this morning somewhat disheartened by the news that this week is going to be like last, wet and cloudy. Perhaps the continual gloom also depresses the hens which this morning attacked and killed a Blackbird which was happily sharing their corn. Weird. Perhaps they react in the opposite way to we magnificent humans? We tend to be more aggressive in hot spells and merely moan during the rest. And it is the thought that even in this wretched summer we are bound to get at least one period of bed-sweating heat that has the police very worried indeed.
History does support their theory that hot weather sparks any latent trouble. And there is certainly plenty of that. Since last year’s riots more and more cuts have caused great anger amongst the poorer sectors of our society, and resentment is stoked by the constant evidence that the wealthy are lining their pockets as never before. The latest banking scandal will take a good deal more than the resignation of the Barclays chairman, Vince Cable yesterday spoke for millions when he called for a full criminal investigation. The public, Uncle Vince stormed, “just can’t understand why people are thrown into jail for petty theft whilst these guys just walk away having perpetrated what looks like conspiracy”. He was backed by Lord Blair, the former head of the Met, who said ; “Anybody, the youngest detective, would say this is conspiracy to defraud”.
Today the findings of a joint study by the Guardian and London School of Economics into last year’s mayhem are published. Called ‘Reading the Riots’, the study is based on in-depth interviews with 130 police officers of all ranks. It gives an unprecedented insight into what thousands of officers – both on the frontline and in control rooms – experienced during the most serious bout of civil disorder for generations.
At the time politicians, such as our dear leader, rushed to blame the police for a situation that went totally out of control. What is clear from the report is that insufficient officers were deployed initially in London and copy-cat riots exploded in Manchester, Liverpool and elsewhere. But what is equally clear is that the officers involved were often at risk of losing their lives in the face of naked aggression few of them had ever witnessed before.
Arrests were made and punishments handed out, but a superintendent from Greater Manchester said that the majority got away with it and are probably already gleefully looking forward to more looting and violence. Be this as it may there was at least one positive for the police. In Manchester and London many from communities usually hostile to the police came forward with gestures of gratitude. Disgruntled though many of them were they had witnessed frightening scenes of anarchy in which their families and businesses were under violent attack. And they had witnessed young heavily outnumbered constables battling on to stem the flood.
Almost every officer interviewed expects a repeat this autumn. They expect the usual hard core of violent thugs to trigger trouble, and for large numbers of disaffected youths to climb on to what they see as a chance to acquire goods that they can only dream of. And milling around them could be thousands for whom unemployment and what they see as discrimination is a daily experience, who see rioting as their only opportunity to vent their anger.
When you read the many pages of testimony you quickly realise just how frightening and violent the situation was. It doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to fear that this year the situation could escalate into a national undermining of our society. So you tend to reassure yorself that this time the police will be ready to put out the first signs of trouble. But you are wrong to do so.
Astonishingly since last year the government has continued its assault on the police. Thousand more officers have been axed, it is estimated that chief constable now have around 15,000 fewer able bodied men or women to call on. Those that remain have suffered a huge loss of morale as more and more talk of privatisation hits them, and many fear that the election of police chiefs will politicise law and order and reduce willingness to cooperate across police authority boundaries. Today parliament will receive a report from the current chief inspector, Sir Denis O’Connor, on the impact of police cuts at a time of preparing for the Olympics, the biggest peacetime policing operation in modern Britsh history. Throw in the possibility of civil unrest and you have a nightmare scenario.
The home secretary is Theresa May, a frightening thought at the best of times. And these are far from that. Her speciality is talking gibberish. She suggests that the massive cuts she has agreed should apply only to ‘backroom staff’. Has she no idea of the importance of control rooms? Has she any idea of the extreme dangers to small groups of male and female officers when faced with violent mobs?
Talk of using troops is dangerous in the extreme. They are not trained in civil control, they are trained to kill the enemy. They cannot be used without the risk of a massive escalation. Talk of our all having to tigthen our belts is equally fatuous. How can we soft pedal on tax avoidance yet penny-pinch on the security of the nation?
In today’s world of instant communication the devil often has the best tunes. It is ironic that the worst summer in living memory may be our only hope of avoiding Armagedon. Our political leaders are not even also-rans as many law-abiding citizens in our inner-cities reach for their shutters and worry-beads!
QUOTES FOR TODAY; “ The first piece of luggage on the airport carousal never belongs to anyone”…..George Roberts ” ‘I was driving along and saw you through the window’ ‘Oh do you have a car?’ ‘Well, I don’t just have a window’ “…..Bob Ferris and Terry Collier “Until you’ve learned to drive you’ve never really learned to swear”…..Robert Paul “Old women with mobile phones look wrong”….Peter Kay “I have never killed a man but I have read many obituaries with pleasure”…..Clarence Darrow “I once sent two dozen friends a telegram saying FLEE AT ONCE – ALL IS DISCOVERED. They all left town immediately”….Mark Twain
If this is summer God help us when winter arrives. I haven’t resumed the art of chicken-cleaning yet but felt morally obliged to look in on my pals in action on the allotments. Gumboots, gravel, cursing, sheets of water everywhere – it was not a happy sight. Perhaps we should have bred ducks which, unlike chickens, need no protection from the wet stuff.
Like a News of the World reporter of old I made my excuses and left. I headed for Tesco where I joined hordes of less-than-happy shoppers. For some it seems to have become somewhere to go when all else fails, but I have never become addicted to the idea of examining displays of baked beans as a diversion. But moments such as these do serve to remind one of just how crowded our island is becoming.
It was quite brave of Ed Miliband to speak out about immigration yesterday. Sadly what he said inspired little hope that he has any real plan in mind, but at least he did face up to the fact that his party has been “remarkably soft” on the issue. He was equally correct to say that politicians cannot go on with the pretence that there is no problem given that immigration is often the main topic of conversation in pubs and clubs up and down the land.
When Theresa May recently ventured to suggest restrictions she was immediately confronted by Baroness Sayeeda Warsi – she of the expenses scandal – who predictably cried racism. It illusrated perfectly the mess we have allowed ourselves to get into. Somewhere along the line the politically-correct brigade have managed to convince everyone that to refuse entry to anyone who is not British by birth is to be racist, the sort of ghastly creature that is covered with tattoos and supports the BNP. It is of course illogical nonsense.
The simple, if unpopular, truth is that this island is becoming dangerously overcrowded. Every part of our social structure is creaking at the seams. Even without the handicap of Lansley, the NHS was losing its ability to cope with an ever increasing population, our social services are collapsing under the weight of rocketing caseloads, unemployment amongst young people is a nightmare, our roads are jam-packed with, er, jams, our commuter train services are the equivalent to cattle-trucks, our primary schools are swamped. Wherever you look things are overcrowded.
Given its obsession with austerity for the lower classes, the government is taking the axe to benefit payments, but no one mentions that over 350,000 of the claimants are recent immigrants. Many inner-city primary schools are under seige and class sizes have almost doubled in the past four years. To make things even worse more than a million children do not speak English as their first language. In the past year alone this total has risen by 50,000.
It all reminds me of the buses I used to catch many moons ago. The conductor would declare standing room only and, after allowing eight passengers to board, would declare that more would create dangerous overcrowding. That is where we are as a nation right now, yet the population projections suggest an increase of another 20 per cent over the next 20 years.
Perhaps the most alarming short-term crisis relates to employment. Miliband pointed to what he called “a collison of large immigration from Eastern Europe and a UK labour market that is becoming too nasty, brutish and short-term”. It is, he said, a “class thing”. If you wanted a conservatory built you are better off as a result of the large number of foreign workers recruited on short-term low-paid deals. If you earn your living by building conservatories you will struggle to find work.
Now that at last a leading politician has had the gumption to mention the unmentionable there is perhaps a ray of hope. There needs to be since over the next few months there is a real risk of large numbers arrivng from various parts of Europe. Someone has to have the courage to face up the EU and to say that the door is shut. And as new members of the EU such as Turkey appear someone has to make clear that unlimited access to the UK is not available.
Up until recently anyone coming out with such proposals would have been labelled a little Englander. No longer, most people now recognise that little England is sinking under the sheer weight of its numbers.
Our dear leader will doubtless respond to Miliband by pointing out the sanctity of the laws of the EU. Since he yesterday lectured the Argentinian President about the importance of referendums, perhaps he would like to hold one here. Polls suggest that his slavish adherence to EU rules is not quite as greatly admired as he imagines!
QUOTES FOR TODAY; ” A classic is a book that everyone wants to have read, but nobody wants to read”…..Mark Twain “I gave my young nephew a book for Christmas. He spent a month looking for where to put the batteries”….Milton Berle “A hundred thousand sperm and you were the fastest!”……Jim Hightower “He is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death”……Saki “When they circumcised you they threw away the wrong bit”…..David Lloyd George “Tony Blair is only Bill Clinton with his zip done up”……Neil Hamilton
Since the cuts in police numbers, which cost us our beat Bobbie, we have a had a few run-ins with yobs from a nearby estate. The most revealing aspect has been just how inarticulate and dimwitted they are, and we allotment codgers would hardly qualify for the Brains Trust. Engaging them in conversation is pointless, their only interest seems to lie in being as offensive as possible. In fairness to the estate, which we know well, they represent a tiny minority of the folk that live there, but they succeed in making the lives of many decent families an absolute misery. Need for employment? Frankly the ones we encounter have no wish to work, and no visible signs of being capable of it.
Several come from so-called ‘problem families’. The main problem of the ones we know well is that they have no wish to act as a family at all. The parents spend more time in clink than we spend on the allotment. One household we know has eight kids, all allowed to run wild. Of course this is not a new problem, it is one that successive ministers have preferred to deny the existence of. In the case of Kenneth Clarke, punishment is not the answer but he seems remarkably unclear as to what is.
We recently read details of the initaitive proposed by the coalition to at last do something to protect the victims, usually elderly or vulnerable people living alone. What their reaction is to the detail is imaginable, ours was total contempt. It is quite apparent that Theresa May has never lived alongside neighbours from hell. She is effectively downgrading anti-social behaviour by proposing that the police respond only in the event of five different area residents making contact with them on any appeal for protection. So an old lady living alone, and afraid to go out, is supposed to call on four neighbours to make complaints. Utterly ludicrous.
Add in the fact that the police are losing 16,000 officers and the picture is complete. The yobs rule OK. Already 5000 have gone from neighbourhood teams and 999 units. And, without police support, Councils are slow to act. On the Laycock Gate estate in Blackpool the local Council did evict someone recently, but it was only after 57 allegations of anti-social behaviour. It was claimed that a five-month reign of terror included physical and verbal attacks on various neighbours, even threats to kill or burn down property.
Tomorrow Her Majesty’s opposition will at last announce an initiative. On this, and most other subjects, it has contented itself with criticising the government and apologising for the part that it played when in office. That impresses no one, least of all those who the Conservatives are content to dismiss as scroungers. If Miliband is to be taken seriously he must spell out what he would do should an early election, caused by Clegg discovering his backbone, come to pass.
So two cheers for at least one new idea. Yvette Cooper, who many believe should be the leader of the Labour Party, is to make clear that police numbers will be strengthened but on one condition. Every single anti-social behaviour complaint must be responded to within 24 hours. They also intend to maintain, refine even, ASBOs which the government plans to diliute. Senior police officers have been quick to welcome this, they contend that dilution will make it much harder to tackle nightmare tenants, violent drunks or drug abusers. And cautions will be abolished in favour of immediate court appearances.
There is also a good deal in tomorrow’s announcement about employment, having first-time offenders make it up to victims and so on. But the positive aspect is the fact that Cooper is being specific about the difference from the May approach.
Maybe this represents just a glimmer of hope to helpless victims. Maybe it shows that the Labour Party has grasped the lesson of Bradford, which is that simply banging on about how bad the Tories are is not enough. The Lib Dems were once the party for local initiatives, they are now heading for near-extinction and Labour is the only hope in town.
Many a nervous pensioner will be hoping that they have heeded the wake-up call!
NO, MINISTER! The brilliant political comedy Yes Minister, which starred Paul Eddington, is to be upgraded for today’s TV audience. But do we really need it? How can writers come up with anything as ludicrous as today’s real-life version?
We have Toff Tories pretending to eat pasties, bungling ministers whipping up imaginary petrol shortages, fatcats payng for dinner with the PM. Add in a touch of the Murdoch saga and you have enough dark comedy to satisfy every couch-potato in the land!
We dumped yet more gravel on the hen-run areas in an attempt to avoid the need to begin ark-building. We sometimes wonder what archeologists will make of it all when, in a zillion years hence, they attempt to fathom out what people did back in the dark ages of the 21st century. At least they will know that we used false dentures, Albert having misled his top set during one of his many falls during the January mini-ice age.
But one suspects that their fellow academics, the historians, will have more fun in analysing the endless governmental cock-ups. There will be plenty to choose from, my current favourite is the one involving our hugely expensive border control system which seems to only check incoming people at times when there are no queues. Presumably the terrorists make a point of arriving at peak hours!
It would be easy to blame Theresa May for the latest fiasco, easy but unfair. Under our bizaare method of government, Prime Ministers are obliged to select the people that run our vast departments of state from around 300 or so MPs. Deduct one hundred that are too old, another hundred who are too loopy, and he or she has the unenviable task of appointing to what are massive management tasks about half of what is left.
The result is that people such as our Theresa, who would look far more comfortable as a Marks and Sparks sales manager, or John Reid, a boxing promoter if ever there was one, find themselves in charge of the Home Office. When Reid took over he panicked at the revelation that walking in loaded with DIY bomb kits was rather easy, and he declared the whole set up as unfit for purpose. To deal with this he created The UK Border Agency (UKBA).
Several home secretaries later, May also had good reason to panic. On her watch the Agency has lost all track of 124,000 asylum and migration applicants, 500,000 passengers on Eurostar have been nodded through, secure ID checks have been suspended 482 times and Ports have relaxed rules on 14,812 occasions. Cue the inevitable arguments about who is to blame, cue the decision to scrap the organisation and to create two in its place. In the absence of an experienced chief excecutive these too will fail but the chances are that by then Theresa will have been reshuffled, and someone else can make more sweeping changes.
Frankly until the UK adopts the practice, often followed in the United States, of appointing apolitical professional top managers with ministers merely holding them to account, this type of mayhem will continue. Almost everywhere one looks there are similar debacles and Andrew Lansley is a perfect example. If he had set out to make a mess of the NHS he couldn’t have done a better job. In an attempt to bring order to chaos, Cameron then calls a conference from which he excludes all the critics and fails to even mention the issue that has 56 per cent of the over-65s population demanding that the bill be dropped. His own party’s standing has fallen dramatically in the polls and no fewer than 67 per cent of Lib Dem voters demand a halt, not that whelk stall Clegg will listen to them.
Had Lansley merely stated the political objective and left the planning to an experienced NHS executive none of this mess would have occurred. And there would have been no need for all the chaotic arguments about a bill that even Lansley’s right-hand man has described as unintelligible. And there would have been integrity. The political brief would have stated the aim as privatisation and only when, and if, political agreement was obtained would the planners get to work.
During my years as a business leader or NHS chairman I met many ministers carrying various political labels. I can honesty say that I cannot recall one who struck me as being much above whelk stall ability. Several were politically astute, but mixing the two is a recipe for ruin. In theory they all relied on civil sertvants for advice, but they too lack any business experience and for good measure rotate every two years.
I wonder if BetFred will take a bet on the date of the next border agency reorganisation! There is money to be made!
THINGS PEOPLE SAID ABOUT BOOKS; “A man came to my door and said, ‘I’d like to read your meter’. I said, ‘Whatever happened to classics?’ “……..Emo Philips “Paradise Lost is a book that, once put down, is very hard to pick up again”…..Samuel Johnson “I have hundreds of books but no bookcase. Nobody woud lend me a bookcase”……Henny Youngman “Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having babies. Life is the other way round”……David Lodge “I’ve just been reading the dictionary. Turns out the Zebra did it”…..Steven Wright “Never judge a book by its movie”…..J W Eagan “I do a lot of reading about serial killers, mostly ‘How To’ books”….Roseanne “To write a diary every day is like retiurning to one’s own vomit”……Enoch Powell
My tiny hands are frozen, crooned Tom as we hacked away at the iced-up hen water troughs this morning. What followed might have warmed the cockles of Gareth Malone’s heart, it could equally have brought the men in white coats, were any left after the Lansley cull. Here were nine old codgers at dawn singing in harmony (slight overstatement) at an hour when respectable codgers are still in bed. Perhaps we have finally succumbed, perhaps we are all completely mad.
Our country certainly is. The highest courts in the land had rightly decided that the radical Islamist cleric Abu Qatada is a threat to our security. No great surprise there since every TV viewer in the land has seen pictures of him advocating the murder of British troops and similar treatment for the civilian population. Human Rights advocates point out that he has been detained without having committed a crime, the rest of us tend to the view that persuading madmen to commit murder is about as dangerous a crime as there can be.
Having failed to gain release from the British courts, Qatada’s legal team - how much does all this cost us – appealed to the European court of human rights. The rest was entirely predictable. He is to be released this week and, within a short time, the stringent bail conditions will be ended and he will be a free man. Sources close to him confirm that he fully intends to resume his programme of indoctrination and incitement. Who is running this country?
Theresa May, who is rapidly challenging Andrew Lansley for the loopiest minister award, had a rough time in the Commons yesterday. The attacks came almost exclusively from her own backbenchers, presumably the few Lib Dem and Labour members that bothered to attend are happy that Strasbourg has taken over control of law in Britain. Various Tory MPs demanded immediate legislation to repeal the Human Rights Act and suspend British membership of the European convention on human rights. Not as revolutionary as it sounds since, during the election, David Cameron pledged to do just that and to introduce a UK Bill of Rights. Of course that was before he became entangled with Nick Clegg.
Theresa May said that it was vital that Qatada was not still in this country at the time of the Olympics. Most of us would tend to the view that he shouldn’t be here at all. We wonder how it was that he came here in the first place. He was expelled from the Gulf States and presumably saw Britain as a good operating base, somewhere he could manipulate the asylum laws to ensure he stayed here. In theory all European countries obey the Strasbourg court, the reality is different. We never question it.
Some day soon members of the public will be killed as a result of our blind acceptance of such rulings. The Home Secretary was surely right to say that dangerous terrorists should be in gaol and dangerous foreign ones should be in foreign gaols. But when an MP urged her to achieve fame by ignoring the ruling and deporting Abu Qatada to Jordan, she was lost for words. The truth is that the Lib Dems would not allow it.
And so the dangerous and frustrating practice goes on. This is not really a political issue at all, no one is suggesting that politicians be given powers to deport whoever they wish. But the British courts are perfectly capable of making the right decisions. Both the Lib Dem and Labour parties have turned this into a political issue, but they seem incapable of grasping the mood of the country. Most Brits do not want our police investigations to be directed from Germany, or extraditions to Poland for trivial offences such as cycling the wrong way up a one-way street. Neither do they want European Courts to sit above our Supreme Court which is no longer supreme.
We are in the worst of all worlds. Cameron is by instinct a pragmatist, and he will never press the button whilst his coalition buddies talk on about greater European integration being good with a capital G. The opposition seems blinded by a slavish adherence to its own dogma and will never support a clash with the European courts. Sooner or later they will have blood on their hands.
I haven’t spoken to anyone who believes other than that Abu Qatada should be deported. But many seem to see the control from Strasbourg as a good thing so far as our police are concerned.They reflect the widespread unease at the evidence of the Metropolitan Police being in cahoots with the Murdoch organisation. And more evidence continues to emerge.
Today we learn that it was not Chris Huhne’s former wife, Vicky Pryce, that gave the police the evidence they sought to instigate proceedings against the minister. It was the Sunday Times which saw fit to commit its cardinal journalistic sin of shopping a source as a way of helping its friend Knacker. And Mr Huhne was the most outspoken critic of Murdoch at the time when the government was preparing to nod through the takeover of BSkyB. The police still have friends in News International and are simply untrustworthy. But that is not an argument for surrendering powers, it is a case for cleaning up our own mess.
We face a simple decision on terrorism. We either bow the knee and accept in our midst those who openly advocate terrible violence, or we show a little backbone. Cameron is also a populist and clearly doesn’t recognise that on this issue he would not be seen as the isolated abuser of human rights that the bleeding hearts threaten!
THINGS PEOPLE SAY!; “ Freedom of the press in Britain means freedom to print such of the proprietor’s prejudices as the advertisers don’t object to”….Hannen Swaffer “Most of what you read in the papers is lies. I should know. A lot of the lies are mine”…..Max Gifford “The answer is in the plural, and they bounce”….Edwin Lutyens “He hasn’t been himself lately. Let’s hope he stays that way”……Irvin S Cobb “He’s not unlike Hitler, but without the charm”……Gore Vidal “You have a brain like Einstein – dead since 1955″….Gene Perret “It’s the worst idea since Hitler’s dad said to Hitler’s Mum, ‘Come upstairs, Brunnhilde, I’m feeling saucy tonight”……Hugo Horton, The Vicar of Dibley “A hundred thousand sperm, and YOU were the fastest?”….Jim Highhtower “He’s so generous, he’ll go out, get two blowjobs, come back and give you one of them”….Milton Berle “I want to do something for humanity. ..How about sterilisation?”…….Cher Horowitz and Josh Lucas in Clueless “One in ten Europeans is now conceived on an IKEA bed”…..BBC news website
When John Reid, one of the procession of ministers to arrive at the Home Office in recent tmes, took over the Home Office he added to the dictionary of management-speak by declaring it ‘unfit for purpose’. Now, like many a notable failure, he struts around in ermine perhaps unaware that the status he awarded his old stamping ground remains unchanged. Indeed there is every reason to suggest that it is now at the point where its only purpose appears to be to provide the script for a new ‘Carry On’ film. Perhaps ‘Carry on Admissions’ might fit the bill.
Without doubt the star would be Theresa May. A few days ago she was photographed fast asleep during her boss’s performance at the Lord Mayor’s show. Yesterday she was rebuked by the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, the appropriately named Sir Michael Scholar, for releasing drug-seizure-figures that were “highly selective”. So this latterday Hatti Jaques can snore and fib with the best of them. She can also cock-up in spades as the two-hour session of the parliamentary select committee demonstrated yesterday.
Key witness was Brodie Clark, whom even the late Sid James would have found difficult to portray given that chuckling is clearly not his thing. Anyone watching the committee session must have found it hard to imagine him ever relaxing border controls without authority. Indeed he had the demeanour of a man who, left to his own devices, would admit no one at all. He has a forty year unblemished record as a senior civil sdervant and only last year was awarded a CBE for his exemplary performance. Last week he was offered, and accepted, a £100,000 pay-off, an excellent reference, and an immediate pension after revelations that for months on end anyone has been free to enter the country without stringent testing. Then the resulting storm threatened Mrs May and the offer was withdrawn. Instead Hatti stood before the baying hounds in the Commons and fed him to them. He had, she cried, acted without authority.
Yesterday she wheeled on to the stage the new ( eight weeks ) head of the Border Agency, one Rob Whiteman. Kenneth Williams would have found this whipper-snapper easy to portray. Mrs May was telling the truth, he declared. Mr Clark had had a long but not distinguished career and had failed utterly. His eagerness to show his devotion to Hatti May was quite touching, but scarcely believable.
The most hilarious, if frightening, aspect of this whole affair is that all the players agree on one thing, which is that on at least 100 occasions health and safety requirements obliged the Agency to abandon checks for so long as it took to clear the queues of circling aircraft unable to land due to the entry lounges being packed to capacity. All also agree that this state of affairs was due to the redundancies handed out to around 1000 immigration officers.
Hatti May claims to have had no knowledge of any health and safety rules, a sort of ‘guilty but insane plea. Sid Clark claims that she not only knew what he was doing but specifically authorised it. Kenneth Whiteman doesn’t really claim to know anything other than that Hatti is gorgeous and is always right.
What precludes this as a ‘Carry On’ is that they had happy endings. It is easy to imagine that the tale will run on for ever, ending only when I die or when one of the welcomed terrorists blows us all to Kingdom Come.
Cameron – ‘adoption should be easier’
David Cameron has urged councils to ease the time it takes to adopt someone, citing his speedy adoption of Nick Clegg as an example. “Over the course of little more than a weekend I was able to take Nick into a place where he could enjoy the sort of life he could only have dreamed of” said the shiny-faced Prime Minister.
“Obviously it hasn’t all been plain sailing and Nick occasionally has a tantrum – he did come from a broken party, you know – but I think its certainly a vote of confidence in speedy adoptions” (With thanks to Private Eye).
TEST YOU GENERAL KNOWLEDGE WITH THE MIDWEEK QUIZ;
1. What was the Black day of the week when the stockmarket crashed in 1987? 2. Who was the first England soccer boss to win his first five games? 3. Where in London was the first Virgin record shop? 4. Which E is the driest inhabited country in the world? 5. What is a pachhyderm – a briefcase, a thick-skinned animal or a tree? 6. How many teeth does an anteater have? 7. What is the second largest dwarf planet in our Solar System? 8. Which Pope travelled to more countries than any other? 9. The game of mahjong originated in which country? 10. Which former singer with The Mamas and the Papas died in January 2007?