Friday, February 28, 2014

Northern Ireland

On the Today programme this morning John Humphrys said that Northern Ireland was a mystery to most people in England.

I am not sure that this is correct.

Northern Ireland is not a mystery to me, and although I have never been there I regard it as much part of my country as Surrey or Norfolk.

If the Conservative Party were to choose an alternative name, the only acceptable choice would be the Unionist Party (it used to be the Conservative and Unionist Party - is it a coincidence that Conservative support in Scotland started to decline as the Unionist descriptor was increasingly abandoned?).

Harriet Harman didn't join NCCL until two years later...

Article on the LabourLeft website on Harriet Harman, the NCCL and the recent scandal (Patricia Hewitt apologised yesterday for the NCCL's connections with PIE):  http://www.labourleft.co.uk/harriet-harman-the-nccl-liberty-the-times/

One paragraph caught my eye:

"And a young newly qualified lawyer would certainly not have the voice nor the power to expel any organisation that had legally sought affiliation. Like many of us, questioning or not, she had a job to do and she had to get on with it !  Harriet Harman made it quite clear that PIE had been pushed to the margins before she even went to the NCCL.  The campaign referred to took place in 1976.  Harriet Harman didn’t join NCCL until two years later."

It is true that Ms Harman was not employed by the organisation until 1978.  But that is not the same as saying she did not join the NCCL until 1978.  The NCCL was an organisation supported by an enormous number of volunteers and campaigners.  Harriet Harman was (is) a committed leftist.  As we have heard, the NCCL had affiliates and committees and sub-committees.  It is possible, indeed quite likely, that many of the Labour activists in London in the mid to late 1970s would have had some form of relationship with NCCL, particularly if they were involved in equality rights campaigning.

I am sure that Ms Harman and Mr Dromey and Ms Hewitt must be heartily sick of all the questions about their involvement in the NCCL 35 years ago.

But these are people who have put themselves forward for high office.

Is it so unreasonable to ask, before they are allowed to lord it over us, to be completely open and transparent about their involvement with NCCL at a time when NCCL was involved with PIE?

We know about Ms Harman's employment record with NCCL, but can she also assure us that she was not involved in the organisation in a voluntary way during the time that PIE was in the ascendant.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The only issue that would make me even consider voting UKIP would be a failure to get to grips with immigration.

I want gross immigration addressed, not just net immigration.

And I want an end to issuing new National Insurance numbers to people born overseas (and I really don't care if a few people born to British parents get caught up in this).
Do these visits by foreign politicians serve any useful purpose?

Is there anything Anglea Merkel has said today that she could not have said over the telephone?

I am opposed to politicians bigging themselves up as if they are royalty.

We have real royalty to be royal - the politicans are just the servants of the people.

Immigration figures announced today

Slightly confused by the immigration figures announced today:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-26367391

They have soared partly as a result of economic migrants from Spain and Italy.

I thought the pro-immigration lobby assured us that there was no need to worry about Bulgarian and Romanian immigrants as they were all going to go to Spain and Italy.

So what is happening here?

Have the Bulgarians and Romanians swarmed over to Spain and Italy to such an extent that Spanish and Italian workers have been pushed out and are now flooding over here?

Or was it all a pack of lies from the pro-immigration lobby - the jobs and opportunities never existed in Spain and Italy in the first place, the Bulgarians and Romanians were never going to go there, and we were just being lied to by the same old political liars?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In case anyone becomes too nostalgic about Spitting Image, you should bear in mind that they could be very cruel:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr-Ia45UJ6Q

There should be a judicial review into this matter

The secret issuing of immunity letters to terrorists who have committed crimes in the United Kingdom is seriously alarming.

Was this civil servants acting on their own, or acting on the orders of the Cabinet Office, or acting on the orders of politicians?

I think I share the concerns of Peter Robinson (First Minister of Northern Ireland) - there should be a judicial review into this matter.

The PIE / NCCL nexus

I think when a scandal reaches the Thought For The Day slot on the Today programme we can say it has entered national awareness.

This morning Canon Angela Tilby waded (ever so sensitively) into the PIE / NCCL nexus talking of the 1970s as a happy time of free spirits wearing pastel colours (but in the TV re-runs of the Professionals everyone seems to be wearing brown?) while pointing out there was a snake in this garden of Eden.  Who was this snake?  PIE, presumably, but were there other snakes in the NCCL?

Also on the Today programme the former head of PIE was interviewed.  It turns out he sat on a sub-committee of the NCCL, which means he held an official post within the organisation (it was an official committee right?).  How did he get onto this committee?  Was he elected or was he appointed?  If he was appointed, who decided his appointment?  Were any checks, legal or otherwise, made on the suitability of co-options into the official structure of NCCL?

So here you have the head of PIE integrated into the official structure of the National Council for Civil Liberties - a body which employed Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt.  Without labouring the point, who had the power in this relationship, the employees or the employer?  One is not used to thinking of Harriet Harman as a jobsworth, but one can see that she would not want to "rock the boat", especially if it meant putting her own pet projects at risk.

As Angela Tilby might say, there may be no obvious sins of commission by Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt, but there are perhaps sins of omission (and a frosty look from Patricia Hewitt in a conference centre lift is not really the sort of condemnation we might expect).

We want substance Mr Willetts

Are we really running the country according to PR considerations:  http://news.sky.com/story/1217533/immigration-curbs-bad-pr-for-uk-says-minister

We want substance Mr Willetts, not spin.

You may have two brains, but you are increasingly looking like an idiot savant (without the savant bit).

What part of NO MORE IMMIGRATION don't you understand?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ms Harman was legal officer for the National Council of Civil Liberties at the time

And still the controversy rages - this article by Guardian writer Zoe Williams is all over the place:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/25/harriet-harman-daily-mail?CMP=twt_gu

The PIE organisation in the 1970s was mired in controversy, including legal action.  Ms Harman was legal officer for the National Council of Civil Liberties at the time.  In seems inconceivable that her advice was not sought about the legal implications of the affiliation of PIE with NCCL.

It is not an unreasonable question to ask whether her legal advice was sought, and what advice she gave.

To say it was a long time ago is beside the point (in any case the 1970s was not all that long ago).

To say all these issues were up for debate at the time is again beside the point.

To say that an anti-Labour newspaper is smearing a Labour politician is not relevant to the discussion (smears are part and parcel of politics and Labour hold the record in this area - do you not remember the *innocent face* smear?).

Harriet Harman is the Shadow Deputy Prime Minister.  We have a right to know what her views are on important social issues, including the age of consent, and whether those views have changed over the years.  Let's have some openness and transparency please.

Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt and what they did, or did not do

One thing bothers me about the current furore concerning Harriet Harman, Jack Dromey and Patricia Hewitt and what they did, or did not do, when helping to run the National Council for Civil Liberties in the 1970s.

They assert they were entirely blameless.  They assure us they acted properly at every stage.  Mr Dromey tells us robustly that he was instrumental in driving undesirable organisations out of the NCCL.

Yet no-one who was active in the NCCL at that time is coming forward to back them up.

I assume that minutes were taken of NCCL meetings.

Is it not possible to have those minutes published?

Especially the meetings where Jack Dromey is proposing the motion that a specific organisation is expelled.

Then this whole matter can be cleared up in no time.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Jonathan Meades television essay Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloodymindedness

Having watched both parts of the Jonathan Meades television essay Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloodymindedness, I remain entirely unconvinced by his arguments:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03vrphc

My reaction to these buildings before the programmes was "concrete monstrosities" and my reaction afterwards was "concrete monstrosities".

The Meades thesis seemed to be that such a reaction is based on ignorance.  That calling brutalist buildings concrete monstrosities is no different to 1950s and 1960s opinion formers calling 19th century buildings Victorian monstrosities.  Except that the 1950s and 1960s name callers were the same people who wanted to advance the cause of brutalism - the year zero created by the brutalists was an interruption to the historic continuum, not part of it (those who live by the sword shall die by the sword; personally I want every trace of brutalism eradicated and rejoice that Luton Bus Station has finally been smashed up).

Several times Jonathan Meades said that the collective buildings of the 1960s failed because of poor maintenance.  This is a half-truth.  The massive (private) Dolphin Square development in Pimlico proves that if you charge high enough rents collective residential blocks can be made bearable, even desirable. 

Collective state housing failed because it made people unhappy.  There was no acknowledgement of this in the Jonathan Meades documentary.  The views of the ordinary people were disparaged as "who are these people".

Instead we were offered the consolation of sublimity.  Brutalist buildings have value because they are sublime.  Excuse me Mr Meades, but this is not good enough.  To paraphrase Nadine Dorries, what has sublimity to do with the price of milk.  We are talking about housing for the aspirational C1 and C2 working classes here, families that want individual little "castles", with a garden where the children can play safely.  Sublimity as an ideological concept is associated with the old Turkish Sultans, and we all know what madness, cruelty and torture was encountered by most people unlucky enough to fall into the hands of the Sublime Porte.

Towards the end of the second programme Mr Meades became rather hectoring.  Opposition to modernism in general and brutalism in particular is not only based on ignorance but the worst kind of Little Englander prejudices (Poundbury singled out here).  This is of course the bogus Emperor's New Clothes argument - if you cannot see the quality you are an idiot (a regurgitated dictionary of slighting epithets was used to reinforce how stupid the anti-brutalists must be).

Most outrageous of all was the claim Mr Meades made that brutalism was originally welcomed by a grateful populace.  This is not true - indeed, we must call it an actual lie.  Even as they were being constructed, the majority view was hostile and popular culture of the time reflected this hostility.

In 1970 ITV broadcast a series of science fiction dramas entitled The Adventures of Don Quick.  I have searched YouTube for these programmes to no avail.  However, one episode was called The Higher The Fewer (written by Peter Wildeblood) Here Captain Quick and Sergeant Sam Czopanser land on Melkion 5 where the population live in 2,000 storey tower blocks. In this horrendous society the upper floors are for the privileged rulers (including no doubt architects and television presenters), the lower floors are for the workers (with the heat generated by the proles rising upwards to facilitate the comfort of the loftier apartments).  In The Higher The Fewer we can see a reflection of popular 1970s attitudes towards brutalism and all its evils - no-one wanted the buildings then and no-one wants them now.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

How Many Miles to Babylon by Jennifer Johnston
















After reading The Lie by Helen Dunmore I was encouraged to go on to read How Many Miles to Babylon by Jennifer Johnston (first published in 1974).

As with the Dunmore novel, the story is about two boys who grow up together although this time separated by class, religion and ethno-national identity.  The first half of the book is set in Ireland, the second half on the Western Front during the Great War.  The illicit friendship is described through scenes of naked swimming, lingering glances, risky assignations - all implying that the friendship has a dimension that is more than just ordinary.

Themes are:  the complex idea of legitimacy (both personal and ethnic); inheritance (both personal and ethno-religious); displacement of others; divided loyalties; oblique sexual-emotional non-conformancy; self-sacrifice; conflict (family conflict, class conflict, international conflict); the necessity (or perhaps I should say the inevitability) of violence; the relationship between fathers and sons (and mothers and sons).

Most impressive character is Major Glendinning:

His face went white.  He picked up his cane from the table and walked over to me.  He drew back his arm.  I knew what was coming.  The cane struck me on the right cheek, just below the eye.

"I dislike physical violence as much as you do, but there are some people who will not listen to reason."

"Where did you learn to be so evil?"

"The world taught me.  It has taken many centuries to build the society in which we live.  It would be a poor thing if a handful of emotionalists were allowed to destroy it."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Those commentators arguing for Ukraine to be given fast-track entry into the EU are naieve.

Would Ukraine be allowed to leap-frog over Turkey? (and Turkey will never be allowed in).

And a new accession would mean treaty changes, which means opportunities for the United Kingdom to get out of the hydra's grasp.

Flattering in a way, but it creates a lot of work - the past week at work

Monday

Cheerful temp Kerry back on Reception, which made a change from the Germanic angst of Jutta.

A morning spent replying to e-mails.

In the afternoon a long 'phone call from Terry about my confidential project (which he is funding personally) and the 438-day countdown.

Tuesday

Another rather drab morning.  I did some work on the exhibitions programme, although rumours indicate the exhibitions team is to be disbanded.  A variety of other small tasks.

Lunchtime I went with Tim Watts, in Tim's car, to a pub he recommended.  On the way back his car developed a fault and we had to drive, haltering and slow, to a Vauxhall service centre on the edge of town.  Many lads milling around, but we had to wait before someone could look at the car.  Tim very glum at the likely cost.  We were loaned a courtesy car.  Eventually I got back to my desk after being away for two and a half hours.

Wednesday

Editing copy for a leaflet, and then developing the rationale for the mailshot (although with the current vacuum of any authority at the Institute I could presumably just authorise the campaign myself).

Thursday

Busy in the morning, but with nothing really to show for it.

Various e-mails from Head Office arrived.  In the absence of a Director many people at Head Office are sending their requests to me.  Flattering in a way, but it creates a lot of work.
 
Friday

I should have worked at home on the confidential project today, but Alec Nussbaum asked me to go into the office to keep an eye on things (what did he mean by that?  keep an eye on what?  keep an eye on whom?).

More rumours about the Institute moving back to London, with Abi Reed (Telephone Surveys Manager) saying she had heard offices had been donated rent free in the Shard.  I told her this was nonsense.  The best we could hope for would be rooms above a shop in Cricklewood.

I finished preparing the access checklist.

Ms Alibhai-Brown tells us she "fled" from Uganda

A very predictable (and one has to say rather plodding) composite feature on "liberty" in today's Guardian:  http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/21/on-liberty-edward-snowden-freedom

This is not John Stuart Mill.

This is not even a pastiche of John Stuart Mill.

It is a pastiche of poseurs pretending to be John Stuart Mill.

However the last line of the gobbit written by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown caught my eye.





Ms Alibhai-Brown tells us she "fled" from Uganda.

I thought the Asians were expelled from Uganda?

"Fleeing" implies she did some noble act that the Ugandan authorities disapproved of.

Whereas in fact the episode was one of economic migrants getting their come-uppance.

Friday, February 21, 2014

David Papineau (Professor of Philosophy of Science at King’s College, London) asks the question

In an article on Kenan Malik's Wordpress site David Papineau (Professor of Philosophy of Science at King’s College, London) asks the question Who is English enough to play for England?  http://kenanmalik.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/who-is-english-enough-to-play-for-england/

In the article Enoch Powell is referred to.

Talking generally on the integration of immigrants Mr Papineau also makes the observation:  "Of course, the deal works best when the welcome is sincere. You won’t get buy-in from the newcomers if they think they are still being treated as second class citizens."

The welcome can only be sincere when the newcomers arrive with the consent of the majority.

And here you have the crux of the immigration problem in the United Kingdom - immigration has not been with the consent of the majority.

Therefore immigration must be reversed (unlikely); immigration must be given ex-post-facto permission by the majority perhaps through a series of referendums (again unlikely); or democracy in the United Kingdom must fail - which is the direction we are currently heading in, and not just over the issue of immigration.

Syria, the Central African Republic, Ukraine - in recent weeks and months we have seen the consequences when people are forced together who do not like each other.

A classic example of the way in which the establishment aggregates power

Denis MacShane MP muses on Twitter:  "Bishops used to write to Telegraph or Times. Now it's the Daily Mirror. Are our editors and journos out of touch with condition of England?"

If Mr MacShane was in touch with what was happening in the Anglican church he would realise that the clergy have become the Labour party at prayer, and there is a gulf between them and their congregations (the clergy mostly male, middle-class, lefty and the congregations mostly female, elderly, conservative with a small "c" and often with a big "C").

Which in turn raises issues over democracy in the state church.

In the past Prime Minister's chose the bishops, and so in theory the Church of England was under the democratic control of the people.

However in recent decades this process has been watered down (through the manipulation of shortlists so that the Prime Minister was given the choice between one lefty candidate and another lefty candidate) and for the last decade active Prime Minister involvement has been completely abandoned.

Is this not a classic example of the way in which the establishment aggregates power unto itself so that it becomes a self-perpetuating oligarchy?

Is this not what has happened in every other area of society - the professions, the political classes, the civil service etc.

Perhaps we should require bishops to stand for election by the laity on the parochial rolls of each parish in a particular diocese. 

And indeed, require applicants for parishes to stand for election by the congregations they aspire to serve.

Note:  Steve Richards makes the same mistake in thinking the bishops speak for anyone other than themselves:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/20/david-cameron-alienated-church-thatcherite?CMP=twt_gu

Thursday, February 20, 2014

John Gummer goes too far

And while I am considering theological interventions into society, what are we to make of Lord Deben (John Gummer) and his assertion that UKIP supporters cannot be Christians? (http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/lord-deben-you-cant-be-christian-and.html ).

I have no inclination to support UKIP.

But John Gummer goes too far.

Read the Scriptures Mr Gummer (I cannot take seriously your ennoblement):  "Judge not that ye be not judged, for as ye judge so shall ye be judged".

You cannot look into souls Mr Gummer, and you are not a priest in the line of Melchizedek.

It is not for you to judge whether others are Christians.

Anglican bishops

Twenty-seven Anglican bishops and various dissenting clergy have written a letter to the Daily Mirror criticising government policy on welfare payments:  http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/27-bishops-slam-david-camerons-3164033

The Reverend Giles Fraser appeared on the Today programme complaining about the extreme poverty he is witnessing in Kennington, and laying responsibility for this at the government's door.

These holy clerics seem to be obsessing about the speck in someone else's eye while ignoring the beams in their own.

Do they not pause to ask themselves why there is such competition for scarce resources?  Does it not occur to them that the National Insurance system, the cornerstone of the welfare state, has broken down because of the inward flow of millions of people into the United Kingdom who have been given automatic access (over decades) to the emergency reserves paid for by others?  Are they as supporters (very vocal supporters) of this open-door let-us-welcome-the-stranger-in-our-midst policy not partly responsible for the resulting shortage of housing, employment, even food?

Anglican bishops your duty is clear.

If there are hungry people in your parishes you must feed them, not meddle in party politics.

Do not worry about the resources for feeding the hungry - the Scriptures tell you "ask and it shall be given".

Only when you have feed the hungry and clothed the naked and (most important of all) preached the Gospel should you think about lecturing others about how much tax they need to be paying and where the tax receipts should be allocated.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Was the Hutton Inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly a scam?

Let's get this straight, was the Hutton Inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly a scam?

Because it is increasingly beginning to look that way.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/feb/19/tony-blair-rebekah-brooks-phone-hacking

There will have to be another inquiry if the Hutton Inquiry turns out to be tainted.

Riots in Ukraine

The riots in Ukraine were reported on the Today programme this morning (it was the lead item after 8 o'clock).

One of the protestors (rebels?  trouble-makers?) said:  "...there is nothing for us to lose, there is nowhere for us to go".

Can we be quite clear on the second part of that phrase "nowhere for us to go".

Because what usually happens when a country dissolves into rioting and violence is a wave of refugees starts clamouring to go to "the west" and the pro-immigrant lobby starts agitating for them to be given access to the United Kingdom.

Ukrainians, there is NOWHERE FOR YOU TO GO.

If you mess up your country through social breakdown and communal violence you must live with the consequences.

You are not welcome here.

Musical interludes

And also on the subject of the Today programme, there were three musical interludes this morning (in an item on youth unemployment; in an item on the dull Brit Awards; in an item on Spotify) - all of them tripe.

If I wanted to listen to pop music I would turn to Heart FM.

When music is an integral part of a Today programme item is it not possible for the Today personnel to describe the music in words?  Challenging I know, and possibly beyond any media studies graduates the BBC employs.  But speech radio is meant to be focussed on words, not ten second blasts of Queen every twenty minutes or so.

Did a presenter on the Today programme this morning really say she did not know what a peacock butterfly looked like?

How many townies are there in the BBC?

The intervention of Vincent Nichols is special pleading

The intervention in the welfare reform debate of the (Roman Catholic) Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, is not as disinterested and impartial as it might seem.

There are of course several old families in England which are Roman Catholic, and there are many English people who have converted to the Church of Rome.

But the vast majority of Roman Catholics in England come from the Irish or Polish immigrant communities, and as immigrants (and their descendants and dependents) take an unreasonable interest in the National Insurance welfare state built up over generations by genuinely English people.

Currently these Irish and Polish communities are experiencing an unprecedented influx of new immigrants as the Irish Republic and Poland are unable to provide adequately for their populations.

Therefore is it not the case that the intervention of Vincent Nichols is special pleading on behalf of Roman Catholic immigrants who in any case have arrived in this country against the wishes of the majority.

Perhaps I might be allowed to talk directly to the (Roman Catholic) Archbishop of Westminster and say:  you and your church are interlopers.  It was not so long ago that your Irish parishioners were setting off bombs in English cities (and if you think all that is forgotten and brushed under the carpet you are very much mistaken).  You need to curb your arrogance and sense of entitlement and stop politically intervening in a society that at its most basic level does not belong to you.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Lie by Helen Dunmore















Have just finished reading The Lie by Helen Dunmore.

The combination of a renowned author (Helen Dunmore is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature) writing on the theme of the First World War seemed irresistible.

Actually Helen Dunmore is writing about the aftermath of the war, and the way soldiers were treated when they returned home.  The narrator is a young ex-soldier who goes back to the rural community he was born into and finding that he does not fit in.  His close friend (heavy hints that that were more than close friends, although on a platonic level) had died in horrific circumstances in No Man's Land, and appears to him as a ghost/tangible memory.

Lots of ideas are explored in the novel:  the persistent nature of grief; the experience of people living on the margins (literally on the margin in this case, scraping a living from a tiny patch of land); the moral right of same sex partners to inherit money and position; the tension between doing what is right (in terms of a dying woman's last wishes) and doing what the law obliges; the intolerance of small communities; the impossibility of bringing the past back to life.

Shouty television

Daisy Wyatt writes in the Independent about two "debates" shown on television yesterday - one about welfare benefits, the other about immigraton:  http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/benefits-street-live-debate-v-the-big-british-immigration-row-9136038.html

This form of shouty television, where emotion and sensation replace rationality, is a format that has made Fox News one of the most successful channels in America.

In the United Kingdom its adoption would be a wrong path to take.
Given the attack made by House of Commons "Speaker" (dubious election) John Bercow on "yobbery and twittishness" at Prime Minister's Questions, perhaps it would be useful for someone to trawl through past recordings of PMQs and find examples of his yobbishness when a backbench MP.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Climate change is related to population growth

Staggering hypocrisy from Ed Miliband in warning about climate change without mentioning population growth:  http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/feb/15/uk-floods-climate-change-disaster-ed-miliband

All nations have a responsibility to aim for a broadly static population, but because of Labour's pro-immigration policies the United Kingdom's population has rocketed out of control.

Climate change is related to population growth, and to deny this is the worst form of climate change denial.

And Yasmin Alibhai-Brown joins in this onslaught of ignorance and dishonesty:  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-floods-may-have-finally-shocked-rightwingers-into-taking-climate-change-seriously-9132315.html

No mention from Ms Alibhai-Brown that the open-door immigration she advocates is a major contributor to climate change in the United Kingdom - leading to house building on flood plains, millions more consumers (of useless possessions), increased demand for industrially-processed food etc.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I am able to entirely suit myself - the past week at work

Monday

Work on the presentation I am to give tomorrow.  In the past I would have been quite limited on what I could say.  But with the present lack of leadership at the Institute I am able to entirely suit myself.

Tuesday

I hate rushing to get a train.

For the first part of the journey I looked out of the window.  Lots of pheasants in the fields.  Through many little village stations without stopping.

Eventually, after changing trains twice, I arrived in Birmingham.  I thought how shabby the centre of the city looked as I walked to the Institute's Birmingham office - asian legal aid, cheap takeaways, homeless people in various doorways including in what looked like a drinking club.  Cold day so that I was glad to get indoors.

Through security, along corridors, up flights of stairs.

Welcomed by Ashish Sharma, who as usual seemed very pleased with himself.

A buffet lunch, substantial but not good quality.  Then I delivered my presentation, talking for an hour and a half, eleven people ranged in a half circle.  It was well received with many questions.

Back to New Street Station.  The train was late.  I felt cold standing on the platform among hundreds of commuters.

Wednesday

Most of the day I spent drafting an article.  It will need to be revised, but the basics are there.  Often I looked out of the window at the huge clouds moving quickly across the sky.

Thursday

A day spent at home working on the confidential project.

Friday

I finished the article I had drafted on Wednesday and sent it off. 

The storm in the afternoon and evening was alarming - the noise of the wind was tremendous, even inside the office.

Friday, February 14, 2014

I am bored with all the news reports on the weather.

I am also bored more than you can imagine with Question Time.  I didn't even bother with it yesterday.  I watched the first part of Newsnight then switched the television off.

Wythenshaw and Sale East

All those gloating UKIP supporters need to realise that there are no prizes for coming second.

And the turnout in Wythenshaw and Sale East was only 28%, which makes Labour's boasting sound hollow.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Brutalist

In this article for the Guardian Jonathan Meades is surely mistaken in saying that brutalist architectural designs feature in the film Blade Runnerhttp://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2014/feb/13/jonathan-meades-brutalism-a-z

The Ziggurat of the Tyrell Corporation is unmistakably post-modernist.

And the assertion of "the artist's right to impose his vision without consultation" is only valid when the artist is spending his or her own money.  When they are spending public money they must submit their designs for public approval.  Van Eyck was not an artist imposing his vision without consultation, Van Eyck was an artist doing what his paymaster told him to do and using his artistic brilliance within the conventions of the time.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Stuart Hall, who died a few days ago, had the following to say about Powellism:

It was said about the 1960s and early 70s that, after all, Mr. Powell lost. This is true only if the shape of a whole conjuncture is to be measured by the career of a single individual. In another sense, there is an argument that "Powellism" won: not only because his official eclipse was followed by legislating into effect much of what he proposed, but because of the magical connections and short-circuits which Powellism was able to establish between the themes of race and immigration control and the images of the nation, the British people and the destruction of "our culture, our way of life".

http://www.hegemonics.co.uk/docs/Great-Moving-Right-Show.pdf

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

It is irresponsible for Rachel Sylvester to use her column to call for the end of stop and search

Rachel Sylvester in her article on stop and search in the Times today emphasises that only a small percentage of stop and searches result in anything criminal being found.

However she overlooks the deterrent value of stop and search in particular communities and among particular target audiences.

Young men in inner London are deterred from carrying knives because of the high liklihood that they will be targetted for stop and search.

It is irresponsible for Rachel Sylvester to use her column to call for the end of stop and search.

If there is a rise in knief crime as a result, then I am afraid she will have to accept some degree of responsibility for the casualties.

And no mention in her piece of the support in inner London communities for stop and search - it is often the local communities who are demanding that the police take action against young men.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article4001790.ece
The simple way for the government to respond to the flood crisis is to set up a state-backed insurance scheme to cover flooding.

That way householders who are flooded (and there are not all that many of them, despite the sensationalist reporting) can be whisked away to hotels while their properties are sorted out.

Government ministers can pose as benevolent benefactors.

And the total cost will not be all that great.

Come to think of it, we already have a National Insurance scheme - all the government has to do is announce that this will now also cover flood damage due to rain or tides.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nudge

Interesting article on the Independent on Nudge theory and practice:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/the-nudge-team-started-outas-a-sort-of-mission-impossible-how-the-governments-successful-behaviour-insights-team-has-had-a-profound-effect-on-whitehall-9117793.html

An example of nudge theory in action is surely the dissuading of the Romanians and Bulgarians.

The government told them not to come here.

And they did not come here.

Chris Smith

In an article for the Guardian Chris Smith (Labour gombeen man given a sinecure position as head of the Environment Agency) complains "In a lifetime in public life, I've never seen the same sort of storm of background briefing, personal sniping and media frenzy getting in the way of decent people doing a valiant job..."

Er, this is someone who worked for many years with both Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson.

He would have seen in that period a tsunami of background briefing, personal sniping and media frenzy.

Not least the background briefing, personal sniping and media frenzy that affected Dr David Kelly so profoundly, as well as many of his Labour colleagues.

Therefore he sounds ridiculous to make the statement he has in today's Guardian.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/09/floods-environment-agency-chris-smith-hits-back

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Ravelstein by Saul Bellow















Have just finished Ravelstein by Saul Bellow.

This is a glorious book, ostensibly the disjointed memories of an ageing writer for his academic friend.

It is also a book about ideas, the nature of ideas, and the pursuit of knowledge (especially self-knowledge).

"...there was no important subject I hadn't thought about."

Ravelstein is a monster, but on the whole a lovable monster.
Rachel Reeves, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said on the Andrew Marr programme this morning "demand is massively outstripping supply" (referring to the housing crisis and the way rents are increasing).

And yet she said not a word about why demand is rising.

Demand is rising because the population is rising.

The population is rising because of Labour's open-door immigration policy over thirteen years.

She must think people are stupid and that they cannot make this connection.

At least she made a grudging reference to a British homes for British people policy in the future.

But who would trust that crowd?

During the newspaper review on the Andrew Marr programme this morning attention was drawn to checks by immigration staff on LGBT asylum seekers.

Those on the left agitating for LGBT people to be given asylum would have more credibility if their condemnation of homophobic nations was more consistent.

Oh yes, they condemn Russia.  And they condemn Uganda.  But they do not say a word about Jamaica, which has been identified by more than one commentator as the most homophobic nation in the world.

This is because the Jamaican community is a reliable bloc vote for the Labour party.

Indeed, there are grounds for suspecting that Lady Lawrence, newly ennobled for her services in the cause of equality rights, is herself a homophobe who will not condemn persecution of LGBT people in Jamaican society.

Stinking hypocrisy is it not?
The vote in Switzerland to curb unrestricted immigration is very significant.

Is the United Kingdom to be denied the democratic options granted to the Swiss?

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Whatever happens to the Institute my job is safe - the past week at work

Monday

At the request of Alec Nussbaum we have to itemise our time in weekly time sheets.  Lots of muttering that this is to see who can be dispensed with.  Looking at my timesheet at the end of the week I was surprised at how much of my time was wasted (of course I realise there is an art to completing timesheets and will reword this week's before sending it off to Head Office).

The rain fell noisily on the roof, and also on the window next to my desk.

In the afternoon I did some work on a policy paper.  And I pushed various other projects along a little.  But I was glad when five o'clock arrived and I could go home.

Tuesday

Most of the morning spent talking about communications to the new Campaigns manager.  A tubby grey-haired man, with a low voice so that he almost whispers.  He is to work from home in Dorset.

The server was down again, which meant nothing could be done.

When I went to lunch the sun was shining and the winds had dropped - but this didn't last.

Wednesday

One day each week I spend on the confidential project.

This makes me fairly confident that whatever happens to the Institute my job is safe.

The confidential project is to last over a year.

Thursday

At my desk this morning I assessed the day's tasks.

I sent e-mails to Media Relations at Head Office complaining about their lack of action.

The afternoon spent preparing a presentation I am to give to the Birmingham office next week.

Friday

In the office there was an odd sort of atmosphere.  Many managers away, and so the junior staff became noisy and lazy.  I could have intervened but decided not to get involved.

German receptionist Jutta leaving her partner, so seemed preoccupied with a sort of suppressed angst.  She is supposed to be having an affair with Reading Room assistant Matthew.  He stood at the reception desk giving her a pedestrian sort of support.

Again I worked on the Powerpoint presentation for the Birmingham office.

Talking to the new Campaign Manager, he is writing a book on architect Sebastian Comper.
How honourably Mark Harper has behaved.

Unlike that disgraceful cur and Labour placeman Chris Smith, refusing to resign despite manifest incompetence.

Friday, February 07, 2014

The evil spell has been broken

Well here's a thing.

For the second day running an article on the Labour-supporting website Progress has referenced Enoch Powell in the opening paragraph:  http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2014/02/07/we-risk-a-race-to-the-bottom/

For many decades anyone trying to discuss the ideas of Enoch Powell was screamed at by the left and subjected to intimidation and abuse.

Now the evil spell has been broken, and even the left has grudgingly accepted that it is not racist to talk about immigration.

I always knew the moment would come when Enoch Powell was restored to his full intellectual stature.

It is the totality of his philosophy that is so impressive.  He had original things to say on every area of public policy.  His influence on the Conservative party has been immense (although shamefully unacknowledged).

British medals at Sochi

The Winter Olympics formally open today at Sochi in Russia.

Let us cast our minds back to the Summer Olympics of 2012 and the claim by Sunder Katwala (director of the British Future think tank) that:  "At least a third of Britain's 65 medals reflected the positive contribution of immigration and integration to Britain over the last three generations."

It will be interesting to see whether Mr Katwala's boast will be confirmed by one third of British medals in the Winter Olympics being achieved by individuals who have an immigrant background (to three generations according to British Future's arbitrary benchmark).

Of course, there is the view that the immigrant tally in the 2012 Olympics was artificially created by politically motivated and discriminatory channeling of funding for elite athletes, with those from BME backgrounds being given priority (channeling justified and effected by the "Equality Duty" of all organisations receiving public money).

Great though the British Olympic achievement was in 2012, would it not have been greater if the funding had been allocated entirely on merit?

But back to Sochi.

Will we see the Katawala thesis vindicated with at least one third of British medals at Sochi going to immigrants?

Or will we conclude that Sunder Katwala is just another lying toad among the many lying toads seeking to bounce the United Kingdom into accepting ever greater numbers of immigrants.

http://afroml.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/difficult-but-necessary-question.html

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Editorial on the Labour-supporting website Progress begins with a quote from Enoch Powell:  http://www.progressonline.org.uk/2014/02/04/sleeping-not-dead/

So much for Sunder Katwala's claim that Enoch Powell is just an historical figure with no relevance to today.

And so they leave

Independent article that refers to the Conservative & Unionist majorities in Scotland in the 1950s:  http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/owen-jones-what-a-fairer-scotland-would-look-like-9109887.html

If Owen Jones wants to know where the Scottish Tories have gone the answer is simple - by and large they have left.

If you want to know where they are now look around you.

They are living in London and the South East.

There comes a point when the hostility and aggression and negativity of the left makes an environment intolerable for anyone who does not conform.

And so they leave.

Labour and the SNP between them are well on the way to making Scotland a failed economic state.

Exactly what Labour did in Liverpool and other great cities of the north.

Of course, in their eyes no Tories means exultant high fives and cries of "result".

But it also means no enterprise, no investment, and a debilitating dependency on the state and the public sector.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Oh how smug the Labour party is over it's record on women in Parliament:  http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2014/02/pmqs-review-miliband-pounces-tories-women-problem

Oh how clothed in white raiment are the Labour panjandrums. 

Oh how self-satisfied they are that there is no problem over female representation in the Labour party. 

Oh how they flaunt their record on giving women opportunities (indeed, is the parliamentary Labour Party not fifty per cent women?  do we not see women at all the commanding heights of the Labour movement?  do people not realise that Ed Miliband himself is a woman? - in the same way of course that Bill Clinton was black).

It must be wonderful to be so perfect in terms of gender equality.

Helen Warrell is a lying toad

Mendacious article by Helen Warrell, Public Policy Correspondent for the Financial Times, claiming that an independent Scotland would be pro-immigration:  http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/de6029c8-8dac-11e3-ba55-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=uk#axzz2sRYGQS7w

Public opinion in Scotland is even more hostile to immigration than it is in England and Wales.

Helen Warrell is a lying toad (no other description is adequate) to claim otherwise.
I am glad Kevin Pietersen has gone.

On the whole I want all England sports teams to adopt the Yorkshire convention - you have to be born in England before you qualify.

Being English surely implies a broad loyalty to the English people.

And in a key moment of his career Kevin Pietersen was not loyal.  He removed himself from the English team and made 'phone calls to the foreign opposing team disaparaging his English team-mates.  Of course, he has since laughed this off, but some people do remember it.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Jonathan Meades is to present a two-part series on brutalism on BBC4 16th and 23rd February.

I hope he mentions that Goldfinger's Trellick Tower, completed 1972, appears in the 1972 feature film Steptoe & Son in a scene when Harold Steptoe is experiencing feelings of exhaustion, alienation and hopelessness - as soon as it was constructed the building became a metaphor for comical cack-handed architectural ineptitude.
Shailesh Vara MP tells that the government review into allowing humanist weddings in England will be released by the end of the year.

Presumably the humanists will be agitating to be married in parish churches.
The Falkirk scandal is by any standards shocking:  http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/feb/03/falkirk-voting-irregularities-inquiry-labour

It shows a contempt by Labour activists for the democratic process.

How many other constituencies have been corrupted in this way?

Monday, February 03, 2014

Engineering graduates

James Dyson writes an article in the Financial Times about the shortage of engineering graduates in the United Kingdom and arguing we need immigration to fill the gap:  http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/34226450-8a76-11e3-9c29-00144feab7de.html?siteedition=uk#axzz2sFwn7A2z

There is no need for immigration.

We spend billions of pounds on the education system and yet it is failing to produce qualified graduates, even with high youth unemployment and a serious demand for engineering graduates.  This suggests that the wrong managers are in charge of the education process and they need to be sacked and replaced with more competent managers.  What on earth is going wrong with vocational education in this country?

And what is wrong with James Dyson's companies paying for their own engineers?  Perhaps sponsoring them through university.  Or does James Dyson secretly prefer immigrants because they are a lot cheaper and less demanding as employees?

Also I would take issue with the James Dyson claim that "Foreign engineering students are clearly anglophiles".  Ukrainian student Pavlo Lapshyn, who planted bombs outside British mosques last year, was an engineering student.  So I would caution Mr Dyson against sweeping hagiographification of immigrants - they are not the answer to this country's problems.

"The Chinese"



Why is the Labour party stirring up ethnic discontent?  If they are saying "the Chinese" as an ethnic bloc should vote Labour, presumably they are also saying "the Chinese" should not vote Liberal Democrat or Conservative.  Why?

What are the reasons that the ethnic Chinese should vote Labour?

Is the Labour party saying vote for us and we will let in more Chinese?  Vote for us and we will give Chinese people priority in housing and welfare handouts?  Vote for us and British foreign policy will be tailored to your interests?

What on earth is going on here?

Is it not disgraceful that this ethnic gerrymandering is going on?

Can we please have ZERO admission of any further ethnic Chinese immigrants until we understand what the Labour party is up to?

Sunday, February 02, 2014

The new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in London is a reproduction of a Jacobean theatre.

I would like to see Love In A Tub (George Etherege) there.

http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/theatre/whats-on/sam-wanamaker-playhouse


The new world powers

Chart of countries taking Syrian refugees:  https://twitter.com/UNHCRUK/status/428910562224111616/photo/1/large

Very noticable China isn't listed.  Nor is India.  Nor is Russia and Brazil.

So much for the new world powers.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Have not been well, and basically have been sleeping since Thursday.

But I was awake for Dateline London earlier today to hear Gavin Esler refer to Ed Miliband as "David".

Oh he quickly corrected himself.

But when someone as experienced and informed as Gavin Esler is making this mistake one fears that Ed Miliband has failed to establish his identity sufficiently.