A false injection of nationalism.

The elections are done, and the United Kingdom remains united for now. Boris the buffoon has consolidated his hold on the majority of the former working class ‘so called’ red wall, whilst Scotland and Wales have remained largely unchanged with the SNP and Welsh Labour firmly in control.

All in all, the electorate felt their leaders were doing a good job especially when it came to managing the Corvid pandemic and the immunisation programs. That the supply of vaccines was almost entirely the responsibility of the UK government went largely unnoticed, while Sturgeon and Drakeford lauded their management of the pandemic. In reality they doled out the vaccines and followed the Westminster lead with occasional minor initiatives of their own.

What we have witnessed is a weirdly shallow response that has taken no interest in the sharper and more important issues facing the British democratic model. No mention of fiscal deficit from either Scotland or Wales. No mention that Johnson is a superficial wit who will say anything to get a vote or a laugh. Both seem equally important to him and surprisingly to the electorate too. No mention of the nature of the union, no real response to the blunders in the results of the Brexit compromise.

All the political leaders gained from the national pandemic, all were praised for their leadership, when all that’s really changed is that they appeared on TV at least once a week. Every time their primary concern has been their personal commitment to the safety of those in their care. ‘I’m looking after you.’ has been the mantra of all those in power. All those aspiring to challenge have been at a huge disadvantage, since any criticism has taken on the impression of treasonous, selfish ambition.

It has always been the UK prime Minister Johnson’s way to say whatever comes into his head. Some ideas are good, i.e. reform of social care, (not yet thought through) some less good at least to some, i.e. leaving the EU, (definitely not thought through)and some definitely bad such as his throw away remarks condemning Nazanin Zaghari-Radcliffe to years in jail.

All these so called leaders Johnson, Sturgeon and Drakeford have one thing in common, – power in the time of adversity. Their personalities are all different, but they have all received masses of exposure to a scared electorate.

No wonder then we got the results we did. It shows that the electorate votes not for ideas but for illusions. Illusions about who will lead us to a better place. The characters who come into our homes every day and tell us what a great job they are doing. The heroism ascribed to the regional (national) leaders is largely circumstantial, it is only in Northern Ireland that a national leader has lost the patina of leadership, where real political fervour has been exacerbated by Brexit mistakes that really make a difference.

Both Wales and Scotland have massive fiscal deficits with the Westminster Government, it must be time where it is obvious to all that the United Kingdom has resources that need better distribution, not separation in to smaller units. Yes, the South East of England has the largest economy, the greatest wealth and the most people. That wealth though is used to support all areas of the United Kingdom. All the three national entities Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are supported from Westminster, all have massive fiscal deficits.

Scotland’s drive for independence seems to pose more questions than answers, Wales determines to stay at arms length stubbornly declining initiative to open up, these are illusions of tribal grandeur. We all have our nationalities of which we are rightly proud, but voting for braggarts and eccentrics is no way to enhance our futures.

No, it won’t be alright! Ireland will return to troubled waters.

When Boris once again, sold the DUP down the river, he assured Arlene Foster that it would all come good. Nothing to worry about, after Brexit it will all settle down.

Well it’s all going predictably pear shaped, the Northern Ireland situation is teetering towards mayhem once more. The Brexit so called compromise resulted in a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Boris as ever bumbled round the situation and claimed it would all settle down and return to normal (whatever normal means). Of course it has not. The whole of Northern Ireland properly feels affronted by being treated differently to the rest of the UK. The Unionists are about to be caught in a vice between Sinn Fein and their own disenchanted followers. Violence and insurrection are almost inevitable.

It is obvious to everyone that the Peace Process is and has always been imperfect. Now the the apparently sacrosanct promise that there will never be a hard border between the North and Ireland is proving an impossible hurdle. The original peace agreement chose to ignore the possibility of Brexit. There has never been a solution which satisfies the EU, the Unionists and the UK Government.

There are only limited options 1) the unification of Ireland, and 2) An agreement between the EU and UK that all destination documents and taxes are carried out in UK ports, according to the overall Brexit agreement.

Either solution needs early and urgent attention, if Boris and his crowd of chums don’t hurry up it will be back to mayhem. Boris will bumble on.

The Downing Street Flat – Who cares? – Ask Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe!

The common herd, which excludes the Bullingdon Boys and their like, apparently don’t give a toss about Boris’ complete disregard for rules whether he tells lies or bends the system. After all he’s full of charm, wit, and comic bluster. Those qualities are apparently just what we need in a Prime Minister.

Not a week ago, David Cameron was in the spotlight for his dishonesty in using his position as an ex-PM to influence his former buddies. (Not breaking the rules mind you!) The stories go on and on, whether its track and trace or Healthcare supplies. As far as Boris is concerned, no one cares as long as his Government achieves their goals which includes lining the pockets of their chums.

We can all understand Boris’s thinking, I can do what I like as First Lord of the Treasury and Prime Minister, or even as Foreign Minister when his unprepared gaff, committed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe to more years of savage imprisonment. The Tory party didn’t give a damn they voted him in to lead and everyone then were so pleased he got a thumping majority.

What does it tell us about ourselves as a democracy? Well, firstly poor old Mrs. May was hopeless, secondly we wanted out of the EU, and thirdly Bonhomie counts more than substance.

Well, we had better wake up or Boris and Cameron and their like will soon be running an autocracy where honesty doesn’t matter a jot. I am a life long Tory who believes in conserving what is good and improving where we need to, but enough is enough. Get rid of Boris or lose my vote.

Rules, are for crooks, whilst honesty and integrity should be the rule.

Sleaze seems to be the order of the day for those in Government, be it contracts for chums or decorating your flat at someone else’s expense. Cameron and Johnson are cut from the same cloth. A cut they believe is above the common man.

Does it matter that the PPE and track and trace were corrupted by contracts for chums, the tendency is to forget it because at the time of emergency speed was of the essence and desperation was the order of the day.

Was it Ok for Cameron to use his influence even if he was turned down. By the way he didn’t brake any rules, so that’s OK then.

No, No, No none of this is OK. If these men in power do not treat the system as if they were one of “us” then it will not do. Privilege has to be a matter of integrity, not a matter of what the half baked rules say. I know it, they know it. They also know they will get away with it because their privileged status is beyond the law.

The British common law that is the staff and stuff of the United Kingdom.

Rules are cast to protect the weak, and they are there to denominate the lines over which the least of us should not transgress. Shame then on Cameron who claims to have broken no rules when in fact he has behaved disgustingly trying to pickpocket those in need.

This plain enough. Enough is enough.

Me Boy – You Girl, it was ever thus!

Trying it on, we used to say. This could mean anything from summoning the courage to speak to someone of the opposite sex, to stealing our first kiss. For the adolescents of this life, these are precious and unnerving episodes.

The one thing that is common about the pairing of boys and girls is sexual attraction. In our early years, the emergence of our awareness of our hormonal development is common to us all, but varies in intensity both conditioned by nature and nurture.

We now learn that there are many many, too many, sexual assaults in our schools system, public or private. This saddens us for a number of reasons, that include fear, sexism, and the loss of the romantic ideal. It might be worth examining whether this surge in assaults is a real contemporary difference, or is it a modern and differing view from our evolutionary norm? Who of an older generation, can forget the cartoons of our cave man ancestors, club in hand dragging a female of the species to her fate? Since those times attitudes have changed , and rightly so. Nevertheless these perceptions of male and female were and are real, exemplified by the male heirs to thrones, to the idea of female homemakers.

Going back to the ordinary boy girl connection, then the cartoon ‘club’ still exists albeit metaphorically, namely that males make the first move. Make the first approach, whether its to speak first, to have the courage to ask for a first date, to kiss, to feel the different anatomy of the opposite sex. It is inevitably the agreement, sometimes hesitant, between the parties that defines the permissive bond.

Some would argue that the permissive society, where pornography and violence are perceived as ordinary day to day happenings, has emboldened the male of the species to be less tentative and more self-centered about his sexual gratification, and in so doing is devaluing the bond of the sexes.

There is truth in that the more permissive the society the more the selfish will flourish. If we are males we should still admire the beauty of the opposite sex, it is in our nature. Let us hope that in our nurture, we are brought up to know that affection, love and the physical aspects of our difference, are treasured and respected.

Half wits and hideous behaviour.

When life is difficult we need strength and sense, goodwill and cooperation. By and large that’s what the majority do, they behave in a sensible way and they care for others as well as themselves. The Brits should be proud of the like of racer Billy and many, many others who have shown selfless support for others, others they often don’t know.

What then, of the minority of idiots who smash windows, deface property, burn police cars and worst of all delight in physically harming those charged with keeping us safe?

There is no doubt that there is a reasoned argument that riles against any infringement of our civil liberties. Our right to freedom of speech, the right of free assembly, our right to demonstrate peacefully, are all very dear to those who believe in our democratic way of life. The key tenets of our belief are the ideas of freedom and peace. The assumption being that we are free to argue peacefully against change believed to be detrimental to our freedom.

The Police and Public Order Act now under consideration by parliament is seen by many an an infringement of our basic rights. Those for the changes have to consider the many complexities of the Bill, however the majority see the Bill as a consequence of the Corvid plague. They see keeping us safe is more important than our right of undisciplined assembly where social distancing is ignored. Of course disciplined assembly where social distancing is maintained is a different matter. Clearly the police should act in favour of peaceful socially distanced assembly even if it is to protest.

The complication arises where the protest incites to a breakdown of social distancing and to a breach of the peace. When does a peaceful protest become an incitement to a breach of the peace, and who is to judge the moment or the action and respond accordingly? Where the use of freedom of expression endangers the safety of the majority or even a minority then surely those charged with keeping society safe must act.

The Public Order Act 1986 was arguably one of the three great reforming pieces of criminal legislation introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government. Along with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the Public Order Act 1986 recognises the change in policing that occurred in the UK. During this period, there was an evolution from “policing the margins” of society to control of large blocks of the populations, The Act was passed after a prolonged period of public unrest and radically reformed public order offences in England and Wales.

Britain has a long history of rioting; sometimes as a form of political protest, other times in the context of industrial disputes or as a reaction to feelings of disconnection between different parts of the community.

During 1984 and 1985, the long running miner’s strike saw a significant number of serious public order incidents as strikers fought running battles with the police The general common law powers that were relied upon to combat public order, were felt to be inadequate to deal with the modern world. This contention was and remains hotly disputed.

The need for a new act came at the time that the nature of public order policing in the UK was undergoing a radical change. Until the late 1970s, the police approached tackling public order without any specialist training or equipment, preferring to rely on the image and reputation of the “British Bobby” to encourage compliance with the law The mass disorder during the miner’s strike led to the government concluding that this approach could no longer be relied on.

Instead they oversaw a new regime where specialist uniforms, helmets and riot shields, as well as other equipment, were available to the police and significant training was developed to help officers control public order situations. This new style of paramilitary policing rapidly became the norm, and this modernised style of policing needed a new legal structure to support it.

Even prior to the Miner’s Strike the Law Commission had recommended that the law on public order be modified, and following the strike the Government introduced a Bill into Parliament that in due course became the Public Order Act 1986. The Law Commission had concluded that public order laws as they currently stood, comprising a mix of common law and statutory offences, was inadequate and ineffective, and that a comprehensive statute was required to bring the law up to date The Public Order Act 1996 was the result.

Key Sections

The Act as originally drafted contained five main offences relating to public order, which are set out below. Although there have been some modifications since these continue to be the main framework for public order policing. The five offences are riot, violent disorder, affray, threatening behaviour and disorderly conduct.

Section 1 of the Act creates the offence of riot. For a riot there needs to be at least 12 people involved who must be present together and must be acting with a “common purpose”. They must use or threaten unlawful violence and this must be of such a level as would cause a person of reasonable firmness to fear for their personal safety. This is a test that occurs on a number of occasions in the Act. Riot is an indictable only offence and carries a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment. It is the most serious public order offence under the act.

Violent disorder is created by Section Two of the Act. This requires the involvement of at least three people and again has the requirement that there is a use or threat of unlawful violence. The reasonable person test again applies.

Violent disorder can be tried either at the magistrates or the Crown Court and has a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment.

The most serious public order offence that can be committed by a person acting alone is affray under Section Three of the Act. This is an offence that can be tried at the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court and has a maximum sentence of three years imprisonment.

The second part of the Act contains a number of rules relating to public processions and demonstrations.

These required that the police are given six days written notice of any procession and also give the police the power to impose conditions on processions including specifying the route that it shall take or prohibiting it from entering a particular area These conditions may only be imposed where the police believe that they are necessary to prevent serious public disorder or damage or where there will be serious intimidation of people.

They also permit the police to apply to the local authority for an order banning public processions for a period of up to three months.

Part three of the act contains a number of provisions relating to behaviour likely to stir up racial hatred.

As set out above there had been significant race riots in the UK during the early 1980`s and the Act prohibits behaviour intending to stir up racial hatred or where it is likely that racial hatred will be stirred up.

Since the passing of the Act there have been a number of amendments made.

Of most importance are the addition of an offence of intentional harassment, alarm or distress under s4A of the Act and the removal of insulting behaviour from the ways that an offence can be committed under s5.

This latter campaign was unusual in that its supporters included both the National Secular Society and the Christian Institute, and reform was championed by the Liberal Democrat political party who were part of the coalition government between 2010 and 2015.

However the Act has stood the test of time and the structure of offences that it introduced remain in effect today.

The effect of the corvid 19 plague has been to induce parliament or the Government thereof to impose what they perceive to be in the best interest of the UK population at large. The right to enforce these rules impose on personal liberties in several ways. Whilst most of us live comfortable under the 1986 act and all its implications, a few now feel that the police are being given powers that really do lessen our individual freedom of choice.

In the opening paragraph of this blog, strength, sense, goodwill and kindness are the described as the keys to a long lasting democracy. That remains the case and those who riot against the perceived safely of the majority are half-wits who fail to see the greater good.

Love in the time of Corvid.

In these dreadful times thousands have died prematurely, and yet in the UK the majority of the country were moved in their thousands by the death of one beautiful young lady apparently at the hands of a Metropolitan Police Officer. I was moved as were many. A lovely young person lost to the ravages of a perverted mind. And Yet?

Hundreds of lives have been lost through the unguarded and selfish so called libertarians who decline to wear masks and decline to social distance. Many of those folk who feel strongly about their rights of assembly and their other constitutional rights such as their freedom of expression turned up for a vigil for the sweet murder victim on Clapham Common. Some, not all by any means, were determined to exercise their ‘rights’ rather then attend a peaceful vigil.

In so doing, they put the police in an impossible situation. A ‘Policeman’ was identified as the cause of the savage murder, and yet honest and duty bound ordinary coppers were tasked with enforcing the law, which now enshrines the need of limiting social gatherings and maintaining social distancing.

It is impossible for the majority to understand in detail of who behaved provocatively, who responded inappropriately, but suffice it to say, this was a sad and unseemly outcome. Particularly adding to the grief of those close to the murder victim. The press issued photographs which by their very nature were abhorrent, but as with all news these photographic images showed the extremes. It is hard to resist a cry of foul, heavy handedness, brutality et all.

However, it is time to take a breath, be sad and remember that our shock and collective shame for the murder of this sweet woman, is good and kind, but unconsciously causing the death of someone unknown by standing to close, or shouting the odds without a mask is the opposite, evil and unkind.

Remember how important it is to love everyone, known and unknown in the time of Corvid.

Cricket the old man’s friend.

You have no idea how good I was.  Yes, yes, sitting on my settee watching these well paid television idols making a complete hash of the Indian series, it is easy to forget.  Oh yes! I can tell when the umpire gets it wrong on TV.  My mind goes arrow straight and sharp to the certain ball flight, how smart am I?

It is all true except in some small details.  I do have an idea how good I was, and I wasn’t.  In fact, I was a hopeless cricketer whose only talent was shouting appeals from long on, which, more or less, summed up my vulgar knowledge of the game.

Since those long off days, (forgive the pun) I have graduated to days out, from Lords to the Rec Antigua, from Sophia Gardens, Cardiff to the Wanderers Johannesburg, I have shifted gallons of lovely beer and snook a bit of shut eye, I have even left early and missed a collapse or two. But now at eighty I am in my prime, I can prattle on with the best of them.

I miss John Arlott and Brian Johnson, to name but two, I find some of the present-day smartie-arses a bit much to take.  After all, what do they know? Don’t answer that, it is just that they seem to make a meal of even the slightest move, a twitch here, a dart there, a tweak and a turn, and excitement knows no bounds.

My decisions are much simpler, when to stagger to the kitchen either to make tea or slip an early whiskey into play. Then and only then, do I get down to team picking for the next match.  Astonishingly, my choices are seldom adhered to, I know not why.  These selectors clearly have no idea.

My emails, (yes, I am technically brilliant for my age) contain crisp messages which are received with secret disdain by those who are, by necessity, younger.

As I edge to my journey up the chimney, cricket becomes one of my best friends.  They program five days from nine till four and I am delighted that the pink ball promises introspective excellence. One and a half days simply will not do.  Don’t they know they are depriving a legion of old dogs of the peaceful fullness of otherwise empty days?

 I can watch and dream, such wondrous promise that my hapless cricketing persona has been elevated to the pantheon of greatness.

 Cummon’ lads, more than two days please.

Prejudice; Tribe, class or colour?

The polarisation of poverty involves not only the colour of one’s skin, but the context of your tribe and its relativity to others in that tribe – its called ‘class’. Like it or not, there are classes in every aspect of tribal life. I may be of the European tribe, sub-tribe of say France, and therefore superior to other sub-tribes like, for example, the Greeks. My place in the wider world is determined by my tribal wealth and consequent influence. Few would argue that the bankrupt Greeks carry the international influence of the French.

Within any sub-tribe there are classes, also determined by wealth. Even wealth, passed, now perhaps depressed, can confer a lasting ‘class’ aura despite its fading. The self image of former wealth and influence is frequently distorted as in the case of once Great Britain, now the UK. The clinging to past glories has caused an incredible introverted re-examination of British values that have influenced everything from Brexit to tribal nationalism and class consciousness. As UK becomes relatively poorer its internal class systems become more exaggerated and sub tribal influences increase. The United Kingdom becomes less united every day.

There are ranks even in the classes, e.g. even in the criminal classes. In each tribe, the over reaching or social climb is mostly driven by acquired wealth, which in turn bestows the benefits of education and consequent culture. There are of course tribal cultures and belief systems that transcend wealth, however they seldom influence ‘class’. As materialism and science increase the agnosticism of the tribe, so wealth becomes more a marker for ‘class’ as it is now, not what it once was.

What then of colour? It seems that the wealthier an individual becomes, especially if he or she is of colour, then the poorer of the tribe resent that success. Colour prejudice is driven most by the poorest in society because colour is the easiest difference to spot in the tribal closet. In America and Europe the consequence of colonialism and immigration have traditionally place those of colour outside the tribal group and therefore became the object of class indignity. Now as wealth becomes the increasingly appropriate judgement instead of class, then colour becomes less relevant. My friends are doctors, bankers, professionals first, cultured second and coloured third , a very distant third.

If I was poor, then it is likely that these perceptions would be in a different order. Hence today we see a good deal of overt colour prejudice expressed about wonderful athletes who happen to be well paid footballers, some of who are exceptionally articulate, bright and compassionate. It is not the wealthy or the comfortable that express disdain, it is that poorer element of the jealous and ignorant poorest sub-tribe who shout their prejudice the loudest.

The elimination of the very poorest in all communities is perhaps the common aim across all tribes, be they totalitarian or democratic. All leaders profess to have this universal aim as their goal. Sadly the natural greed of man, sometimes called the enterprising spirit is at odds with the idea of social equality, sometimes called totalitarianism. Colour is becoming less an issue overall, unless of course you are coloured, and suffer everyday from the prejudices so deeply rooted in the white tribes of colonialism.

The fight is against racism and against poverty, it is against class and unequal wealth. Ignorance and poverty walk hand in hand no matter what tribe you belong to. Creating a wealthy and cultured community is ultimately the only way to eliminate the class system and with it, colour prejudice.

A false injection of nationalism.

The elections are done, and the United Kingdom remains united for now. Boris the buffoon has consolidated his hold on the majority of the former working class ‘so called’ red wall, whilst Scotland and Wales have remained largely unchanged with the SNP and Welsh Labour firmly in control. All in all, the electorate felt their […]

No, it won’t be alright! Ireland will return to troubled waters.

When Boris once again, sold the DUP down the river, he assured Arlene Foster that it would all come good. Nothing to worry about, after Brexit it will all settle down. Well it’s all going predictably pear shaped, the Northern Ireland situation is teetering towards mayhem once more. The Brexit so called compromise resulted in […]

The Downing Street Flat – Who cares? – Ask Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe!

The common herd, which excludes the Bullingdon Boys and their like, apparently don’t give a toss about Boris’ complete disregard for rules whether he tells lies or bends the system. After all he’s full of charm, wit, and comic bluster. Those qualities are apparently just what we need in a Prime Minister. Not a week […]

Truth, democracy and social platforms.

If our Government feeds us lies, we rightly complain, but if we are continuously fed on lies it soon becomes apparent that society finds it hard to define the truth. The growth of populism, has underlined this frailty in our society. Populism often takes true premises and then twists them through hyperbole or conspiracy theories.

To the so called ‘rational liberal’ these issues are simple when based on absolute truth, i.e. electoral issues are decided on the assumption that the voters (all with equal merit and rights) have free choice and that the system works without fear or favour. Vaccinations are good and technical efforts are the best available. We trust the monitoring institutions. Both issues boil down to trusting institutions. All institutions are built not necessarily on present day knowledge but often on beliefs and mores of the past. Even technical developments like vaccines are developed on ‘science’ which is in itself, human discovery. Belief systems are many and varied, from benign forms of Christianity to ever more extremes say from blind belief in the State, as in China, or blind belief in extreme Islam practice in Daesh.

The difference between free societies and totalitarian ones is that individuals in the free society are allowed to think for themselves. There is freedom for all sorts of ‘influencers’, even distorters of the truth, even people who tell lies because they are unqualified or have little or no knowledge of the subject, or indeed knowingly spread untruths for what ever purpose. This has become a major problem with vast numbers of individuals receiving their perceived facts and news via social media.

For those who consider themselves democrats (in the widest sense) then the issues of Freedom of speech versus the spreading of distorted information is a huge problem getting more acute each day. Indeed even the more benign belief systems have very fundamentally different ideas for example, regarding the sexes. Even in the most democratic nations there are extremes of views and beliefs in say ‘abortion rights’ or ‘right to life’ campaigners.

These belief systems are the consequence of religion that is often the bedrock of society, even if religions are challenged by the science of hard fact.

The question: Is it right? Is often framed in belief systems of centuries old religions. In some ‘so called’ West African democracies religious sects believe in FGM, the Saudi Arabians believe it’s OK to routinely chop off heads in public, these are just a few of the more obvious differences in the definition of ; Is it right?

The key to sustained democratic development is to have the freedom to respect belief systems, and at the same time to challenge these systems with truth supported by science and knowledge. The adjudication of what is true remains a vexed question. In the end social media or no, it is what the majority in a free society agree.

Beware, populism is on the march, fascism may seem a distant threat, but conspiracists and liars like Trump bring the demise of freedom ever closer.