Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sign Of The Times

If you don't read it I can recommend it. The Week is a great read that updates you on the weeks news from across the media spectrum, giving you news summaries from the Telegraph to the Grauniad.

One particularly typical New Labour cock-up highlighted this week was the GP's surgery in Preston docked/fined £350 because it hadn't received any complaints. Yes, hadn't received any, that's right.

One of the New Labour government's targets is for GPs to show how they deal with complaints. This GP had none, so lost out by missing the 'dealing with complaints' target set by the state.

An NHS spokesman said they were only obeying orders. Actually, according to The Week, the spokesman said they had to follow guidelines. But how long until that is the excuse given by some bureaucrat as the police state tightens its grip?

When you hear about these kinds of things it illustrates why the Libertarian Party health policy is so refreshing. I think our health is far too important to be controlled, and abused, by politicians and the state and that sorry tale proves the point.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Libertarian Party Leader's Interview Part II

In part two of Total Politics’ interview with the leader of the Libertarian Party, Xander Stephenson learns about Gordon Brown’s true academic record and a certain devil’s theatrical past…

What is the vision of the Libertarian Party and how far do you think Britain as a country is from it - how can the two meet?

The vision of the Libertarian Party is a society with minimal state interference—where individuals can live their lives as they see fit. There are more than 60 million people in this country: each one with their own priorities and their own desires. They should be able to pursue those desires in whatever way suits them best, provided they adhere to the central tenet of Libertarianism—the non-aggression axiom. This can be summarised as: "You shall not initiate force or fraud against someone else's life, liberty or property." I have often argued that this should, in fact, be the only criminal law on the statute books: the courts can decide the exact interpretation in each individual case.

How far are we from that?

A long, long way. We have a government that can pass laws without consulting Parliament, let alone the people; we have detention without trial, confiscation of property without a verdict of guilt and a surveillance state growing steadily more intrusive by the day. We have had 60 years of the Welfare State which has delivered what David Cameron calls "our broken society"; people look to the state to solve their problems, they don't wonder what they could do for themselves or for others.

But, ultimately, our model of "social democracy" is not only unsustainable from a moral point of view, but also from an economic one. Our government is spending a hundred, a hundred and fifty, two hundred billion pounds a year more than it brings in from tax: that cannot continue indefinitely. And yet even the Tories do not seem to have a clue how they might cut this appalling structural deficit.

Part of the problem is that government is so utterly inefficient at spending money: for every pound taken in tax, something like 30p actually reaches the "front line". That is pretty bad –especially if you think that the "front line" services are incredibly inefficient themselves.

The trouble is that people are beginning to be afraid of the state – but they are also afraid to be without the state.

That is why part of my mission this year is to paint a realistic picture of what society might look like with almost no state at all. Earlier this year, I gave a talk to the Adam Smith Institute about Friendly Societies—voluntary collectives that operated as community-based insurance-assurance companies. They were immensely successful until they were effectively killed off by National Insurance: if you are poor, you cannot maintain your 10 per cent salary subscription to a Friendly Society as well as paying the state its 10 per cent.

But even were Friendly Societies to do the heavy lifting in the social security arena, private charity would have a large role to play – and people have simply got out of the habit of giving. Even were we to immediately drop taxes to five per cent, say, I don't think that people would immediately donate another 20 per cent of their salaries to charity. All of this has to be managed in a transition – it will take time to allow people to understand that they, not the state, have a duty to help their fellow man.

And the state itself?
I would like to create a Parliament so powerless that it no longer mattered which party won the election, frankly.

What are your predications for the next election?

As I said, I think that it will be a straight Tory-Labour fight, with smaller parties picking up some votes from people disgusted with the Big Three. However, I think that Cameron will win, albeit with a smallish majority.

If the Libertarian Party candidate(s) are elected in the next election and we are faced with a hung parliament would they form any coalitions with any other parties?

No. If I may paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, our general motto is "Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all parties; entangling alliances with none."

Ultimately, we do not believe that any of the other parties are libertarian: if they were, we wouldn't carry on with the expense and hassle of setting up and running the Libertarian Party.

What do you make of Brown as a leader?

Brown's a leader...?

The man's an idiot – and a deeply unpleasant idiot at that. People keep saying to me that he must know something about finance because he studied economics at university. I don't know where this rumour came from – Gordon's spin doctors probably. For the record, Gordon Brown's degree was in history, and his PhD was entitled The Labour Party and Political Change in Scotland 1918-29.

I mean, seriously...

What do you make of Cameron’s leadership skills as party leaders and as a potentially future PM?

Cameron's a leader...?

I must admit that Dave has done a good job of uniting the Tory Party – even in the face of some extreme provocation. But, ultimately, he is a social democrat and I don't believe that much will change under his premiership.

Gordon Brown once a likened himself to Heathcliff, having browsed your website I thought you might liken yourself to Withnail. Has that thought ever occurred to you, or have you ever likened yourself to any fictional character?

Ha! Actually, I played Withnail in a stage production of Withnail and I at the Bedlam Theatre, in my second term at Edinburgh University. I don't remember much about it: I was drinking quite a lot at the time...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

China And The Death Penalty

I'm not keen on the death penalty myself, I would prefer people to get life and actually serve life, which in some ways is even crueller than just ending it. It's a moral dilemma that will exist as long as humans do.

What I find really interesting though is how the majority who support the death penalty have been ignored now for decades. This while on other issues, such as the smoking ban or hunting ban, the cry is "we must have it because the majority want it". So, by that logic, the death penalty should be restored and, if a majority think the first born in every househod should be sacrificed to the gods, then so should that.

Much fuss has been made in recent days of the execution of the British drug smuggler this morning in China. Like the days of old, well the '70s and '80s, and the British oil workers being flogged for boozing in Saudi, I tend to think when in Rome do as the Romans do. If you go there, especially if you are stupid enough to carry around 4kgs of heroin, then you take the consequences. Why should he get away with it because he is British? And as for him being mentally ill, I'm afraid that is no excuse otherwise you only have to be diagnosed manic depressive and there you go, free to do what you want. He wasn't too ill to travel to China and get his hands on his 4kgs of heroin was he?

The Chinese regime, like all totalitarian regimes, is vile and disgusting so my advice would be to visit somewhere else. But, most importantly, behave yourself wherever you go.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Scary Terrorists

The old mantra 'terrorist threat' has been wheeled out so many times to justify more and more oppressive measures by New Labour that it lost its impact a long time ago. Indeed many of us doubted the seriousness of the threat from the start. Apart from the odd nutter or two the threat has never been as severe as that from the IRA a few years ago, and we lived in a state of relative freedom then in spite of them.

Then, over Christmas, the authorities wheel out a nutty Nigerian who used a syringe on a plane to make something on his leg go 'pop' and spout a bit of smoke. There you are, no doubt they will now ratchet up airport security even more, and install even more CCTV cameras in Kendal and Kirkby Lonsdale.

But last time I flew I had a bottle of over-sized shampoo confiscated because they thought I was going to use it as a terrorist weapon. Rub suds in the pilot's eyes perhaps causing the plane to crash? So how did nutty Nigerian chap get a syringe and a thing that goes 'pop' and makes smoke through all that hi-tech security? Perhaps it was actually time for the state to show us that there is a threat and that removing our freedoms and liberties is justified, but they didn't want to actually kill anyone in the process, not at Christmas.

The other thing that concerned me was that this nutty chap has a mechanical engineering degree from University College London. Now I don't expect they teach bomb making at UCL, but what happened to education, education, education under New Labour if that is the best an engineering graduate can do? On top of that his family are very wealthy it seems, so he could have afforded the best ingredients.

I think it's all very odd.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day Hunt

Sadly the local hunt has been cancelled, so Mrs B and I are still snuggled in here in the East Wing. Things are still very bad with packed snow covering pretty lethal ice sheets beneath.I know because I've just had to venture out for more fire lighters.

But fear not, the chances are that hunting will be legal again this time next year, one of the few positives, I suspect, if Dave's New Tories do manage to win the general election. Other than that I see little reason to think the New Tories will do much to roll back the frontiers of the police state.

So for now, here is a picture of hunts gone by, 2007 I think.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas And Peace To All

As head honcho of this esteemed blog I am closing Blog Towers so that we can all start the Christmas celebrations nice and early.

Whether you are a practising Christian or not, I thought that the following extract from Pope John XXIII's Christmas message may even today have some resonance, especially with what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Pope gave this message on 23 December 1959, when I was 10 weeks old!

Christian peace

The appearance of peace is threefold:

Peace of the heart:

Peace is before all else an interior thing, belonging to the spirit, and its fundamental condition is a loving and filial dependence on the will of God. "Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless till it rests in Thee" (St. Augustine's Confessions, 1, I, 1, 1, P.L., 32, 661).

All that weakens, that breaks, that destroys this conformity and union of wills is opposed to peace. First of all and before all is wrongdoing, sin. "Who hath resisted him and hath had peace?" (Job 9:4). Peace is the happy legacy of those who keep the divine law. "Much peace have they who love thy law" (Psalms 118:165).

For its part, good will is only the sincere determination to respect the eternal laws of God, to conform oneself to His commandments and to follow His paths—in a word, to abide in the truth. This is the glory which God expects to receive from man. "Peace to men of good will."

Social peace:

This is solidly based on the mutual and reciprocal respect for the personal dignity of man. The Son of God was made man, and His redeeming act concerns not only the collectivity, but also the individual man.

He "loved me and gave himself up for me." Thus spoke St. Paul to the Galatians (Gal. 2:20). And if God has loved man to such a degree, that indicates that man is of interest to Him and that the human person has an absolute right to be respected.

Such is the teaching of the Church which, for the solution of these social questions, has always fixed her gaze on the human person and has taught that things and institutions—goods, the economy, the state—are primarily for man; not man for them.

The disturbances which unsettle the internal peace of nations trace their origins chiefly to this source: that man has been treated almost exclusively as a machine, a piece of merchandise, a worthless cog in some great machine or a mere productive unit.

It is only when the dignity of the person comes to be taken as the standard of value for man and his activities that the means will exist to settle civil discord and the often profound divisions between, for example, employers and the employed. Above all, it is only then that the means will exist to secure for the institution of the family those conditions of life, work and assistance which are capable of making it better directed to its function as a cell of society and the first community instituted by God Himself for the development of the human person.

No peace will have solid foundations unless hearts nourish the sentiment of brotherhood which ought to exist among all who have a common origin and are called to the same destiny. The knowledge that they belong to the same family extinguishes lust, greed, pride and the instinct to dominate others, which are the roots of dissensions and wars. It binds all in a single bond of higher and more fruitful solidarity.

International peace:

The basis of international peace is, above all, truth. For in international relations, too, the Christian saying is valid: "The truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

It is necessary, then, to overcome certain erroneous ideas: the myths of force, of nationalism or of other things that have prevented the integrated life of nations. And it is necessary to impose a peaceful living together on moral principles, according to the teaching of right reason and of Christian doctrine.

Along with this, and enlightened by truth, should come justice. This removes the causes of quarrels and wars, solves the disputes, fixes the tasks, defines the duties and gives the answer to the claims of each party.

Justice in its turn ought to be integrated and sustained by Christian charity. That is, love for one's neighbor and one's own people ought not to be concentrated on one's self in an exclusive egotism which is suspicious of another's good. But it ought to expand and reach out spontaneously toward the community of interests, to embrace all peoples and to interweave common human relations. Thus it will be possible to speak of living together, and not of mere coexistence which, precisely because it is deprived of this inspiration of mutual dependence, raises barriers behind which nestle mutual suspicion, fear and terror.

However you will be celebrating Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful peaceful time with good company, good food and very light hangovers.

The Prisoner-Remake

I'm not much of a fan of remakes usually. Many TV series and films are of their time and even repeats, many years on, can be disappointing. Often when we look back at things with nostalgia, be it films, TV series or places, we are actually yearning for that time in our lives and the revisiting can be a cruel let down.

The Prisoner must be one of the most iconic TV series of the last century. Sadly it proved to be all too prophetic as we now see an ever more encroaching state controlling our lives and slowly eating away at our freedoms and liberties. The traditionalist in me wants them to leave The Prisoner alone and untouched, a memoral to the late, great Patrick McGoohan who sadly died in January this year. But part of me is happy that the remake may just open the eyes of a whole new audience of millions to the genius that is The Prisoner. Who knows it may also help to wake people up to what is happening all around us with the imposition of the police state.

So for a better idea as to what the remake will be like below is a seven minute trailer. If you want to know more about the oiginal Prisoner series please visit Six of One, The Prisoner Appreciation Society.

Classic Christmas Songs

Here is a selection of great Christmas songs that don't get the airplay they deserve.

Merry Christmas to all and I hope you enjoy:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Libertarian Pary-Leader's Interview

Since joining the Libertarian Party earlier this year I have been asked many times what we stand for. I usually explain, in as much detail as the enquirer can cope with, then refer them to the Libertarian Party website.

On the day I was elected Party Chairman in November Chris Mounsey, of Devil's Kitchen, was elected Party Leader. Following is an interview with Chris from the Total Politics blog:

Total Politics's Xander Stephenson speaks to the new leader of the Libertarian Party about target seats at the next election and whether he swears too much.

When you leave your position as leader, what would you have liked to achieve for the Libertarian Party?

Most of all, I would like people to understand that Libertarianism is not about living in some sort of selfish, self-contained Utopia: I would like people to understand that Libertarianism is not just about personal freedom but also about voluntarily helping your fellow human beings.

In doing that, I think that I could make people take the Libertarian Party seriously, something that would benefit the party in many ways. First we could gain more members and more support. This would lead to more votes and more local councillors.

Ultimately, obviously, I would like to have seen one or two candidates elected to Westminster, but that might mean my leading the party for some time! Although, having said that, I think that the mood of the people of this country is swinging more towards Libertarianism – they just need the vocabulary to express what they feel. Oh, and politicians who also believe the same.

Has being leader of a party meant you have to swear less?

Ha! Most of the members know The Devil's Kitchen and they have not petitioned me to swear any less. I do swear less now, but I think that has happened naturally for several reasons – not least that I am simply less viciously angry than I used to be.

Do you hate all other British politicians?

"Hate" is a strong word but I certainly despise most of them as self-serving idiots who have – through laziness or malice – abdicated from their responsibilities. Not only have they given away successively more power to supranational organisations like the EU or the UN, Parliament has given away its power to hold the government, the executive, to account: far too many illiberal measures are pushed through using statutory instruments or mini-enabling acts built into legislation that MPs have simply nodded through.

MPs are the only 646 people in this country who can make law, and most of them are spending far too much time playing at being social workers in their constituencies or working out how much money they can scam from taxpayers' pockets this year. So, whilst "hate" is too strong a word, "contempt" most certainly is not.

Do you admire any current politicians?

I like both Douglas Carswell MP and Dan Hannan MEP: they are both libertarians. Obviously I think that they are in the wrong party but, then again, they are using their position to make a difference. As I say, let a thousand libertarian flowers bloom!

How many members has the Libertarian Party got?

The Libertarian Party has about 500 members at present, but we have new members joining every week. Part of my job this year is to bring my knowledge of business processes to boost recruitment and to improve the way in which we communicate with our members – we have been chasing up some people, for instance, who simply hadn't remembered that their membership had lapsed.

How many seats are you contesting at the next general election - how many votes do you expect to get?

We haven't quite decided how many seats we are going to contest but I can't see us going for more than a couple. I think that this election is going to be a straight Tory-Labour fight as people go for what my father calls the Barbary Ape principle, ie. "I would vote for a Barbary Ape in order to get the current lot out."

We are still debating our election strategy really, although we have been campaigning regularly in a couple of areas. We have been thinking that we should emphasise the voluntary, community nature of libertarianism and then go for NuLabour heartlands – to pick up a cross or two from traditional Labour voters who simply cannot bear to vote for Brown and his merry men.

We'd be happy if we could get the five per cent or so required to retain our deposits but we're really participating in Westminster elections in order to get media coverage. During an election, the media has to at least mention the Libertarian Party – the rest of the year, they simply don't want to know.

This is part one of the interview. Part two to follow at a later date.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers

Time for something different. Let's have some Jonathan Richman from 1977:

Followed by Dancing at the Lesbian Bar:

Manchester City FC

Before you carry on this is not my usual venomous attack on Manchester's smaller club. I will actually admit to having a few friends and three cousins who support 'the dark side' of Manchester, and I feel very sorry for them at the moment, as I actually do for all genuine City fans.

In 2005 a few thousand of us threw in our season tickets at Old Trafford in protest at the Glazer takeover of our beloved United. In reality the Glazers were the final straw, many of us had become pissed off with the ever growing commercialisation of the game, with Sky dictating kick of times and their money meaning clubs could afford to increasingly treat the fans like serfs while going for the high paying corporate 'customer'. Our clubs had become corporate monsters, a consequence of the mid-1980s when the FA turned their backs on their own rules as first Tottenham, then others, ceased to be football clubs and became PLCs, out to do nothing more than make a profit, then more profit and even more profit no matter how. Indeed Eric Cantona cited excessive commercialisation, especially of his name and image, as one of the reasons for his premature retirement.

In 2004 one of the biggest watersheds happened, the ultimate kick in the face for football's true fans. Wimbledon FC became an American style franchise and were moved to Milton Keynes, becoming the hated bastard club that is 'MK Dons'. Football had finally sold its soul. But the takeover of Wimbledon had spawned, in 2002, AFC Wimbledon, a club set up by true football fans, owned and run by them and now riding high in the Blue Square Premier.

Those of us in Manchester who had spurned United in 2005, after following them for decades home and away and throughout Europe, needed a new home. It felt like a particularly awful divorce. No more Old Trafford where I'd spent many happy, and some thoroughly miserable Saturdays since the early 1960s. No more terrifying experiences at derby games or at West Ham, or being tear gassed by French police in Lyon. No more flights from Manchester with my dad to see them in Athens, Munich, Madrid or Milan et al. What now?

A group of dedicated lads had already been thinking of a breakaway club since the early '90s, when Rupert Murdoch was circling like a shark. So the blueprint was dusted off and with help from AFC Wimbledon, Supporters Direct and others FC United of Manchester was born.

So back to City. One of the people advising on the birth of FC United was a Manchester City fan and journalist, David Conn. If you care about football and only make one resolution for 2010 please resolve to read his book The Beautiful Game? Searching the Soul of Football. It really is gut wrenching reading for the fans of any professional football club in the country.

Yesterday I had the misfortune to see Roberto Mancini's press conference when he was unveiled as the new manager of Manchester City. He seems a pleasant enough fella but, bear in mind, he has been in negotiations these last three weeks to become their manager while Mark Hughes was still managing them, and only losing two games this season. My view is that given the time United gave Alex Ferguson, Hughes could have succeeded, but that's for City fans to argue about.

What really made me wretch was the arrogant bastard called Garry Cook, the Chief Executive of Manchester City. Personally I wouldn't buy a penny Arrowbar off the creep and I suggest that Mancini keeps checking regularly between his shoulder blades.

Cook is one of those grey suited twats who seem to have no interest or awareness of football, but could have an orgasm at the sight of a healthy balance sheet. He kept stating how City are just like any other 'business'. Well tell that to somebody who was watching City from the Kippax in the '60s and '70s you nobhead. As Shankly said: "Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that." But Cook will never understand that statement, and I doubt he is human enough to even detect the irony.

He then explained the sacking of Hughes by explaining how they had done a "trajectory" of points for the rest of the season. That "trajectory" showed Hughes falling short of their targets at the end of the season. Well there speaks an accountant with no soul, no knowledge of human nature and less knowledge of football. Using Cook's "trajectory" method Wimbledon FC wouldn't have even entered the FA Cup in 1988, after all they could never win it. Could they? Wimbledon again.

So if, God forbid, I were a Manchester City fan I would now, if I hadn't already, be looking for another club. After all, Maine Road FC, formed by the City supporters club, is still going strong in the Vodkat League, where FC United were playing until a couple of seasons ago.

More and more fans around the country are turning away from the top flight, and it is actually very refreshing. Yes, occasionally you miss visits to the big clubs of England and Europe. But if I can't get to see FC United now, the next best thing is a trip to the Giant Axe, home of Lancaster City FC.

And I'm enjoying football more than ever now.

PS I've just found out that Cook's "trajectory", the one he cited Hughes as not being on target to achieve, was 70 points by the end of the season. They are currently on 29 points after 17 of 38 games. If they win their two outstanding games they will be on 35 points at the halfway stage. Perhaps Cook just finds the name Mancini more glamorous than Hughes. Or perhaps he thinks it's still only 2 points for a win!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Air Traffic Control-The Future

Many of us look with envy at the glamorous world of flying. We started off as kids watching fighter pilots over Biggin Hill and the White Cliffs in war films. Then on our first foreign holidays we saw the pilot in classy uniform striding across the tarmac surounded by glamorous 'trolley dollies', and so it goes on. All the time we see the guys in the tower with headsets on, peering at radar and guiding the planes in.

Well, like everyting else things are changing apace in aviation, so how is it affecting the role of the Air Traffic Control Officer? Galavamp is a new blogger who writes The British Patriot. He is also an ATCO. I have had a few chats with Galavamp about his concerns for the future of this branch of aviation, and the implications for safety, and following is an article he has kindly submitted as guest blogger, introducing us to his professional world.

I’m honoured to write this article for Gregg’s blog and hopefully you all find this interesting and informative. To begin with, I’d like to introduce myself. I’m an air traffic controller in the UK. I’ve been doing this job for almost 9 years now and I can honestly say I can think of nothing else I’d rather be doing. Quite literally, I’m paid to do my hobby. And to answer what you’re already thinking: No, it’s not stressful! Does it get the brain matter working hard? Of course. Does it get the heart pumping and the adrenalin running? Undoubtedly! But stress? No. Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs) get a real buzz from the job they do but it’s not a job that everyone can do. Just to be accepted onto a training course we have to go 3 stages of selection tests. Here we are tested on our numeracy, the ability to cope under pressure, spatial awareness, motivation and a raft of other things. We have to pass a CAA Class 1 Medical Examination which includes electro-cardiograms, not to mention the dreaded HR interview.
Only then are we allowed to begin initial training.
Initial training consists of a number of modules. At the end of each module we have practical, written and oral exams. Fail any of these and you get the dreaded ‘chop’ and your ATCO career is over before it’s practically begun. If you successfully navigate these modules, you will be posted to an airport or air traffic control centre. Here you will begin live training which takes up to 18months. Again, at various times during this live training, you will be tested with practical, written and oral exams. Fail any of these you could be chopped. Finally, after a final accreditation exam you will be signed off as a fully qualified ATCO. This process can take up to 3 years from day 1. And the testing still isn’t over. Every year you have to re-qualify with a practical and oral examination. You also have to maintain a current Class 1 Medical. So, pressure? Definitely. But if all of the above manifests itself in you as stress, then this isn’t the job for you.
The idea of the above was just to give you an idea of the intense training that goes into turning Joe Bloggs off the street into a fully-qualified, operational ATCO. Gregg sent me an article from the Manchester Evening News, which was what prompted him to invite me to write this article, about the closure of Manchester Area Control Centre (MACC) and its move to the new Prestwick Centre in Ayrshire and what the potential future for ATC is.
There are 3 kinds of ATCOs. There are Aerodrome Controllers who work at the top of the Control Towers at airports and are usually the most visible to travelling members of the public. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t use fluorescent ping pong bats! We use a headset, a radio and the MKI eyeball to give instructions to aircraft. Aerodrome ATCOs control (obviously!) the movement of aircraft and airfield vehicles on the aprons, taxiways and runways as well as small private aircraft flying within the vicinity of the airport.
The next kind of ATCO is an Approach Controller. The Approach Controller will take aircraft from 40miles out and position them in a sequence for landing. They will also be responsible for separating departing aircraft from arrival aircraft. These controllers use their headset, a radio and a radar. In the UK, most Aerodrome ATCOs are dual-trained as Approach Radar controllers. The only exception to this is for the 5 main London airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City). Here the Aerodrome ATCOs will only work in the Control Tower at the airport. The Approach Controllers operate from Swanwick Centre on the South Coast in Hampshire.
The third type of Controller is an Area Radar Controller. These ATCOs are also known as ‘En-route Controllers’ and look after aircraft between the departure Approach Controller and the arrival Approach Controller. They operate blocks of airspace of defined dimensions and aim to keep aircraft separated by a minimum of 1000ft vertically, or 5 miles laterally. In the UK at present there are 3 Area Centres. ‘London Control’ is, as mentioned earlier, based at Swanwick on the South Coast. These controllers will look after aircraft flying above approximately 19000 ft to 66000 ft from the Channel Islands in the South to just north of Newcastle in the North to the coast of Belgium and Holland in the East towards Ireland in the west.
‘Scottish Control’ is based at a brand new centre in Prestwick in Ayrshire, Scotland. The controllers here will look after all flights north of Newcastle as well as almost all trans-Atlantic flights between Europe and North America. The ATCOs at Scottish Centre will be joined in January by their colleagues from the Manchester Area Control Centre when the sub-centre is closed.
So where does this leave the future of ATC?
It’s important to look at ATC, not just with a British perspective, but also with a European perspective. It’s only for political reasons that in the UK we even have 2 main centres. Either Scottish Centre or Swanwick Centre could be incorporated into the other. In the future the big plan is for 5 European ‘Super-Centres’. Think of it is an EU for the skies above Europe and you get an idea. Realistically, I don’t think the threat to ATCOs comes from European politicians or bureaucrats however. I believe it could potentially come from future technology.
Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) always strive to improve safety. Combined with this is the modern-day phenomenon of ‘environmental-awareness’. Presently, aircraft fly in narrow corridors called ‘airways’. These are classed as ‘controlled’ airspace and the airspace can only be entered with the permission of ATCOs. Uncontrolled airspace is exactly that. Anyone can fly there, they don’t have to speak to ATCOs and can operate as they wish. However, in the name of environmental-awareness, airlines now look to route in as direct a manner as possible. This saves fuel, which saves emissions which therefore makes it more agreeable to the environment. However, if an aircraft, for example, took off from Heathrow and flew in a straight line to Aberdeen they would be in and out of ‘controlled’ airspace. Not ideal. Moves are slowly afoot to change this and there are tools which are being developed for ATCOs which would highlight conflictions between aircraft well in advance. This could eventually mean the job of an Area ATCO (in my humble opinion) evolving into something more akin to that of a modern-day airline pilot ie monitoring equipment with minimal ‘hands-on’ flying.
However, this would mean leaving a helluva lot of trust in computers and I firmly believe it will be decades before a system such as this could ever be properly implemented with the full trust of operators (ATCOs) and users (the flying public).
Aviation is always evolving and safety (despite what the uninformed press would have you believe) improves every year, through both changes in operational procedures and improvements in technology. However, for all our faults, humans are still the most reliable and thoughtful of computers, able to think laterally and logically in ways that computers are still not capable of. And to be honest, if a computer is ever invented that is capable of operating with the same thought processes as humans, then it’s not just ATCOs that should be worried for their futures....................................

Global Warming-Copenhagen Update

Well it worked didn't it? All that hot air in Copenhagen then Brown and Obama ride in like Butch and Sundance, kick a little ass and wallop, global warming goes away leaving Ambleside (left) in blizzards and arctic style chaos.

We've heard that the University of East Anglia has started a project looking at the deadly risk of an imminent new ice age. Meanwhile George Monbiot is calling for the nationalisation of igloo and sled making companies to ensure fair distribution of resources as we face decades of ice, snow and freezing temperatures from, well, about now.

But that's it for now, off to clear a pesky polar bear from my garden before it eats our cats for breakfast.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bullfighting Ban

Politicians all over the world get a perverse thrill from killing the joy of others, the Catalan Regional Parliament being the latest.

The Catalan killjoys have voted to ban the wonderful spectacle of bullfighting, which will no doubt thrill the imperialistic killjoys in the UK who have been campaigning against it for years.

I've no doubt there is an element of the Catalans just wanting to be spiteful to the rest of Spain, where hopefully bullfighting will continue and thrive.

So as hunting is banned in the UK, bullfighting soon to follow in Catalonia, I think it's time to campaign to have politician-baiting introduced as a legal bloodsport.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Snow Causes Travel Chaos

I had to laugh when I saw an article about the current 'Arctic' weather accompanied by the picture to the left. I mean, travel chaos caused by inches of snow is one thing, but what looks like a moderate frost, or the consequence of a snow flurry rather than a blizzard is another.

More proof that we are now a nation of wimps?

Big Brother Really Is Watching You

I have just come across an organisation that seems to be doing some very good work. Big Brother Watch is researching and exposing the intrusion into our lives, and erosion of our civil liberties, by the state.

Big Brother Watch was founded by the founders of the Taxpayers' Alliance.

The worrying figures given below are taken from this research done by them:

There are currently at least 59,753 CCTV cameras controlled by 418 local authorities in Britain, up from 21,000 in 1999
This equates to 1 council owned CCTV camera for every 1000 people in the country
Portsmouth and Nottinghamshire Councils are in control of the most CCTV cameras with 1,454 each

Residents in the Outer Hebrides are the most watched people in the UK with 8.3 CCTV cameras controlled by the council for every 1000 people. Portsmouth has the second highest number of CCTV cameras per 1000 people with 7.8

The council controlling the highest number of CCTV cameras in Scotland is Fife with 1350 cameras
The council in Wales controlling the highest number of CCTV cameras is Swansea with 326 cameras
The council controlling the highest number of CCTV cameras in Northern Ireland is Belfast with 400 cameras
The total number of CCTV cameras controlled by councils in London is 8,815, which equals 1.3 CCTV cameras for every 1000 people living in the capital. Wandsworth is the most watched borough in London with 1113 CCTV cameras, or 4.3 cameras for every 1000 residents

In recent months I've become weary of meeting foreigners who comment on how intrusive the British state is, citing the worrying numbers of CCTV cameras spying on the public. It has been commented on by Americans, Australians and most recently by a Belgian, well a Fleming actually.

Make no mistake, Big Brother really is watching you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Liam Donaldson-Witchfinder General

I've been listening to the radio while working today and am sick to the backteeth of hearing about Liam Donaldson (left), witchfinder general in the new puritan state created by the authoritarian automatons of New Labour.

Donaldson is now whining about the millions of middle class children whose parents are apparently putting a bottle of gin a day into their feeding bottles. He claims that the middle classes are obsessively forcing alcohol down their childrens' throats. In fact, it seems that they are forcing so much booze down their kids' throats that they will soon be bankrupt and skint. So I'm amazed that this government hasn't sacked him yet, they seem hellbent on destroying the middle lasses by whatever means at their disposal, why not alcohol poisoning. Actually, they need the middle classes to survive so they can bleed them dry through taxation to squander trying to buy a few votes.

Personally I think the state is forcing us to drink to blank out of our minds all the badgering, intimidation and bullying of the state. I'd rather die early than have to survive decades of sobriety under this type of poxy, mithering government.

Note to the BBC: Please stop trundling out alcoholics who want to stop us all drinking because they are so feeble and weak that they have pickled their livers and whatever other organs through their own stupidity. Alcoholism is not an illness, it's a weakness.

For God's sake leave us some pleasures. The other pleasure would be seeing 'Sir' Liam Donaldson being spit roasted like the fat hog he is over a roaring bonfire.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Global Warming

Oh God, I hope those gasbags in Copenhagen sort the world out, and pretty damn quickly too.

After all, snow has been falling in the South of England today with up to 8" forecast for the next few days.

The Serpentine in London's Hyde Park (left) is looking decidedly hot thanks to global warming.

Israeli Settlement Produce

So now, kowtowing to the leftist militant supporters of Palestine, the government is to introduce a form of anti-Semitic food labelling. Produce from the Israeli West Bank is to be marked 'Israeli settlement produce' so that the pinko liberal middle classes can boycott in favour of 'Palestinian produce'.

Why not go the whole hog and put a Star of David on it and the word Jew? But at least it means I can do my bit and make sure I buy nothing Palestinian.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Authoritarian Tyranny

Just as Christians are persecuted by authoritarian tyrants all over the world, so we are in the UK.

If a registrar has a deeply held belief that civil partnerships are wrong why can their view, on religious and moral grounds, not be tolerated. After all there must be any number of registrars who would do the ceremony.

Similarly with gay adoption. Catholic agencies are closing down because the state dictates that they must allow gay adoption against the fundamental tenets of the Catholic faith. Again there are any number of adoption agencies that will happily become involved in gay adoption.

What happened to religious tolerance? What happened to respecting the views of minorities? What happened to freedom of conscience? What happened to freedom of choice?

From the BBC.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Earth Is Flat

So eventually Liam Donaldson accepts what most of us knew all along, swine flu isn't such a big deal. I think it's time that nerd wandered off into the sunset where he can do less damage than he can as Chief Medical Officer.

We didn't create global warming either, which most of us knew all along. That theory was the result of nutty scientists being offered loads of money by misfits such as the UN, and others, to 'prove' that we were responsible. Of course the hysteria of the emotional incontinents of the green/environmentalist movement didn't help.

Which goes to prove another thing that most of us knew all along, that scientists, like all humans, get it wrong. Don't automatically believe all they say just because it sounds impressive, for example look at all that bull about the Earth not being flat. Just look at the website of the Flat Earth Society if you don't believe me!!

Geraldine Smith MP, Morecambe and Lunesdale

Now that MPs' expenses have been published online we can all see what the muppets are claiming for. I find Geraldine Smith's expenses for April 2008 particularly interesting. £200 on food? You can view them here.

What the published expenses do show is that even a not very bright MP like Geraldine Smith can do very well from expenses without even having to resort to anything 'dodgy'. It's quite sickening really.

If you would like to peruse the rest of Geraldine Smith's expenses they can be found here.

In case you are wondering she is my MP, for now unfortunately. Of course there is other stuff about the woman who is probably the densest MP in the House of Commons elsewhere on my blog if you follow the labels below.

Oh no, my parents will probably get another threatening phone call from her now, threatening to sue me for being jolly unpleasant about her. Oh well.

You can also vote for her in my Prick of the Year poll on the side bar if you like.

Manchester Jewish Museum

Manchester Jewish Museum is one of those little gems that many people, even born and bred Mancunians, are unaware of. I heard yesterday that it is in serious financial difficulty and could close in the spring of 2010. The BBC cover the story here.

I came across the museum a few years ago when I was doing some research into the history of fascism in the Manchester and Salford area. They have a tremendous oral history project chronicling the history of Manchester's Jewish community, their archive holds hundreds of interviews with people who arrived in Manchester early in the twentieth century, and many with those who stood up to the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s when Manchester and Salford were a particular stronghold for Mosley.

To lose this treasure would be terrible and I would urge anybody visiting Manchester to visit and support the museum. If not I am sure they would appreciate a donation so that the museum can be saved for when you do one day visit Manchester.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Go Ahead, Make My Day

I love to see a bully get his comeuppance, especially when it's on my old stomping ground, Gorton in Manchester.

The footage below was taken outside the Gorton Mount pub on Mount Road, Gorton. It's where my Auntie Kath had her wedding reception in the mid-1960s. I was a page boy, about 5 years old but remember it well amazingly. The area was pretty tough even then, but nothing compared to today.

Anyway, here is a gang member proving what a nobhead he actually is. Enjoy:

And a pint for the fat fella who got the gun off him, Gorton's very own Harry Callahan!!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Pot Plant or Christmas Tree?

This, from the Dorset Echo, had me giggling away in my van today when I heard it on the radio, pure class:

PRISONERS on Portland have been growing cannabis and building matchstick models to hide items inside, it has been confirmed.

It was claimed that a convicted drug dealer at the Verne prison grew a four-foot plant of the class B drug and passed it off for months as a tomato plant before decorating it as a Christmas tree.

Other allegations claimed that inmates have made matchstick models intending to hide phones inside.

A spokesman for the prison service has confirmed officers have confiscated both items.

Of the matchstick models he said: “Vigilant prison officers at HMP The Verne found two boxes with hidden compartments during a routine cell search.

“They were subsequently removed. This is not a new practice.”

On the discovery of an alleged cannabis plant he said: “Prison officers identified a plant in a cell which they believed to be cannabis. The plant was sent for testing.

“Our comprehensive security measures include: searching cells, using search dogs and mandatory drug testing of prisoners.

“We take the problem of drugs in prisons very seriously and do everything possible to disrupt their demand and supply.”

Well lads, I hope you have a great Christmas despite the bastards spoiling your fun.

Lastly, if anybody knows where the phrase "laughing like a drain" comes from please would you let me know, I've never worked that one out.

Off to stop the cat sniffing around the baubles on the Christmas tree now, she keeps knocking them off.

Class War

Socialists are full of venom and hatred. They are also much more obsessed with money and status than any "toff" I've ever come across. That's why there is a nasty edge to things in this country at the moment, especially after 12 years of venomous lefties who hate anybody who is successful.

It is very reminiscent of the 1970s. Labour screws up the economy and then looks for scapegoats. Hey presto, turn on those successful enough to have created the wealth that they have squandered.

So you now get Gordon the Cyclops attacking Cameron and Osborne, not on the substance of their policies, where there is plenty of ammo in fairness, but on their backgrounds, on their upbringing, effectively attacking their families and their ancestors. So they went to Eton, lucky them I say. I know plenty of people who had to go to the squalid, failed, social experiments known as inner-city comprehensives, who would have given their right arm, or eye perhaps, to have gone to Eton instead.

But just to emphasise the stinking crass hypocrisy of this venomous class war, where did Tony Blair, that notorious war criminal go to school? Ah yes, it was Fettes.

Then what about Bitchfinder General, Harriet Harperson, she who rattles on about equality and diversity boring the arse off everybody in posession of a brain? Well she went to St Paul's Girls School.

Stinking hypocrites!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Annual Police Terror-Lancashire

The Annual Police Terror hits Lancashire earlier, and with a greater degree of belligerence, than anything I have witnessed elsewhere in the country. Barely does the first loony council announce it will not have lights because it doesn't want to be accused of darkism than out come the roadblocks and breathalysers at 9-00am, trying to catch office workers still full of beer fom the night before's Christmas party.

Lancashire is tuly God's county, but it does contain nuts, one particularly big nut is the loony Chief Constable. That is bad, but the Assistant Chief Constable, Andy Cooke, is clearly an electrode short of a full torture device. Here is today's lunatic Lancashire Constabulary 'look at us we're loonies' offering:

Criminals from Liverpool and Manchester have been warned by police in Lancashire: "Stay out of our county."
From today police are stopping and quizzing motorists on routes from Merseyside and Greater Manchester into Lancashire.

They are "locking down" roads as part of an operation to thwart travellers who commit robberies and burglaries in the county.

Offenders will be stopped at Lancashire's borders using all available resources, including firearms officers, motorway officers, dog patrols and the Air Support Unit.

Officers will also be using specialist Automatic Number Plate Recognition equipment to identify stolen vehicles and will also be on the look out for known criminals. The first operation is taking place today from 8am until midnight.

Lancashire's Assistant Chief Constable Andy Cooke said: "We have an excellent working relationship with our colleagues in Merseyside Police and GMP.

"However, many of our armed robberies are carried out by criminals based in Greater Manchester and Merseyside and our message to them is simple – if you want to come to Lancashire to commit robberies and burglaries and to steal high powered vehicles, don't bother because we will catch you."

Listen to Assistant Chief Constable Andy Cooke talking about the police operation by clicking on the green play button above

The operation has had a mixed reaction from people in Manchester and Liverpool.

Businessman Frank McKenna, a Liverpudlian who lives in Lancashire but works in Liverpool, said: "It's a daft idea.

"It's a ridiculous notion to suggest people from Manchester and Liverpool are coming in on the rob.

"But I'm more offended the police think they've got these sort of resources to waste and that it's reasonable to stop and interrogate innocent members of public going about their business.

"It's another indication of the erosion of our civil liberties."

Coun Warren Bradley, Liverpool City Council leader, said: "If there is any evidence about criminals travelling to an area to commit crime – wherever they are coming from – the police should take action.

"However, we hope that this will not stigmatise the vast majority of law-abiding Liverpool people as they go about their legitimate business."

Phil Burke, of Manchester's pub and club network, said he supported the move.

He said: "If people have nothing to hide it shouldn't be an issue stopping for a couple of minutes to give details to the police."

In the past year there have been 10 cash-in-transit robberies – most linked to villains from outside the county.

Officers will be handing out information to drivers to explain what the operation is about and how they can help keep Lancashire safe.

Comedian, actor and radio presenter Justin Moorhouse, a proud Mancunian, said: "I had better not drive a car with Coronation Street up the side and a picture of George Best.

"It means if you are going to go burgling go in a stolen car not your own, then they can't trace your numberplate.

"The next time I drive into Lancashire I better make sure my numberplate is registered to somewhere posh like Royal Leamington Spa."

Joking aside this is yet another sinister move towards a full blown police state. Last year Mrs B had the police trying to nab her, but to no avail. They do put the lie to this 'Serving the Community' they like to put down the side of their cars though, 'Oppressing the Innocent' might be more accurate.

Article from the Lancashire Evening Post. Thanks to Ian PJ for drawing it to my attention via Twitter.

Russell Howard

I have been asked why Russell Howard, the comedian that isn't in the least bit funny but really puerile and childish, isn't in my 'Prick of the Year' poll. The reason is I didn't want my poll to degenerate into the 'Who Will be Runner-Up to Russell Howard as Prick of the Year' poll.

A Nation of Wet Nellies

No wonder the kids of Britain are fat, soft and dense.Forgive that sweeping generalisation but we really are screwing our kids up. And before anybody starts I'm a porker myself, losing my hair, pretty rapidly, but, while I don't claim to be Einstein, I don't think I'm dense.

What kicked it off for me today was that Big Brother is now going to put internet safety on the national curriculum for five year olds. This government loves nothing more than making people feel like victims, or potential victims, then riding to the rescue, as they think. What is wrong with parents actually taking responsibility for what their kids do or do not look at? Oh, of course, parents haven't necessarily been police checked or cleared by the Independent Safeguarding Authority so are probably paedophiles in the eyes of this government, or in the eye of the Prime Minister.

So the poor little darlings are growing up being told that the internet is dangerous. That the man with a camera by the football field is probably a pervert. That conkers could blind you so wear these goggles. That a car could kill you so mummy and daddy will be fined if your car seat is an inch too big or small. That daddy smokes so will die a long lingering death from cancer before you reach your teens. That every other kid in the world is a bully and therefore to be avoided. That playing with toy guns will lead to you being shot by a police marksman. That fat kids, like you should be taken into care. That fat kids who need adopting will stay in care because the potential adoptees smoke a fag on a Saturday night while having a pint, which means they're irresponsible binge drinkers destined for early deaths from cirrhosis and lung cancer. That social services are so busy imposing political correctness that if you are in genuine danger you will probably be beaten to death by one of your fat slapper of a mother's junkie boyfriends.

So the the parents go to the supermarket where there are special parent and child parking bays right next to the entrance so fat little Tarquin doesn't have to wobble too far to make a right effin' nuisance of himself in the shop, mother cooing like an over-indulgent dove while her litle fat nerd makes a right nuisance of himself in the sweets and chocolate aisle.

Then there is the school run. Fat little Tarquin and Tamara can't possibly walk the half mile to school, that would be child cruelty and have social services on you like a ton of bricks. No, mummy has to use the Hummer to get her precious ones safely to school. Then, when she double parks on those yellow zig-zags outside school because some other mummy has already parked on them, she gives you the middle finger for daring to suggest she stops causing a traffic jam. But of course, you park with a bumper over the zig-zags and you'll get a hysterical lecture about endangering the lives of our little ones who are all going to die before their teens anyway because the melting polar ice caps will drown them or they will be eaten by migrating polar bears, unable to save themslves because guns have been outlawed and the only kids who were trained with toy ones were shot by the police anyway.

So now you know!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Frankie Boyle

Following are five classic clips of Frankie Boyle, with thanks to Alex Rochester. The only drawback is that the imbecile Russell Howard gets in a couple of clips.

Now please remember to vote for my Prick of the Year 2009 on the left side bar.

Voting Open for Prick of the Year 2009

Voting has now started for this blog's Prick of the Year Award, please visit the side bar. You may also like to make a donation to my Christmas charity which is The Prostate Cancer Charity. Again there is a link to the donations page on my side bar.

Most of the people on my poll are pretty obvious. However, a word about Alex. He is the kind of politically correct obsessive who cries RACIST! if you look up to the sky and say: "Oh no, that black cloud looks dodgy". You can find his rather obsessive blog, but I wouldn't recommend it, via a link on yesterday's post, it's very tedious.

Which reminds me of the politically correct pantomime: Precipitation of Indeterminate Colour and the Seven Persons of Diminutive Stature

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Prick of the Year

A late entry for my Prick of the Year award has stormed into contention, albeit slightly late in the day. Step forward Alex who has the blog below:

usually fairly calm about these things

He has taken advantage of my blog to make a complete nob of himself here and here.

He has also made a nob of himself by attacking Old Holborn, an all round good egg in any sane person's opinion.

He sounds like one of those box bedroom revolutionaries who spends his time searching for 'isms' to get fairly angry about while trying to remain fairly calm. But I suspect people who see 'racism' everywhere are actually covering their own latent racism.

So Alex is a serious contender for Prick of the Year 2009. Who knows this time next year he may have grown up and found a bit of sense, which would put him right out of the running for 2010.

Oh yes, he's also one of those thickos who writes 'ers' into a sentence, which gives him even more marks on the old prickometer.

However, Geraldine Smith, the incredibly stupid MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, is still the bookies' favourite. Voting begins next week and you are welcome to make a nomination, preferably somebody who has featured on this blog at some point during 2009. However, if you nominate somebody they will then feature so let's go with the flow.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Annual Police Terror

The Annual Police Terror has officially begun. Traffic filth had a 'Police Drink Drive Check Point' in central Lancaster at 11-00 this morning, no doubt trying to catch people who had enjoyed too good a time last night.

They were also getting belligerent, or at least one of them was, with people they thought had dodgy tax discs. The fella I saw had a fine tax disc, but his windscreen was a little steamed up with condensation. Cue disappointed copper.

Still, I suppose it stops them shooting children playing with toy guns or, as Anonymous pointed out in comments to my post yesterday, Brazilian electricians.

So, it's now time for my traditional Christmas joke about the traffic police, traditional because it's an ancient joke:

Q.What's the difference between a police Range Rover and a hedgehog?
A.The hedgehog has the pricks on the outside.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Kill Your Sons

Thank God I'm past the age of opening my Christmas presents to find a Johnny Seven or a toy Luger. Parents are being warned not to buy them for their kids this Christmas because the police will shoot them:

Police are warning parents about allowing their children play with toy guns, saying they are running the risk of having them confronted with police marksmen.

Essex police said parents should not buy youngsters plastic guns for Christmas in case passers-by thought that the toys were weapons.

”Replica weapons look so much like the real thing that they … can terrorise individuals and communities,” Supt Simon Williams told The Daily Telegraph.

”The majority of children, teachers and parents are simply not aware of the issues and consequences of carrying around such items - they don’t realise the impact these so-called ‘toys’ have on our communities and on us.”

Police said that had been called to nearly 1,000 incidents involving guns in 2009, with many turning out to be false alarms caused by toy and replica weapons.

”When we respond to such incidents we cannot always identify whether a gun is real or fake,” a spokesman added.

”Carrying an imitation gun could ultimately result in a highly-trained armed officer having to challenge a teenager and so, naturally, we are worried.

”We have been deployed to nearly 900 firearms incidents so far this year, with a significant number involving replica or BB guns. This has to stop now.”

Imagine the bloodshed in the '60s when kids ran around shooting each other playing 'war', or 'cowboys and injuns', if armed police had turned up to spoil the fun with a bullet to the temple. I grew up next to the Moors Murderers but survived, it's hard to think that today I would have survived that but been shot by the police.

Am I the only one who wonders why, when handguns are banned, we see more and more armed police on the streets? Even more worrying we see armed police who are not trained well enough to differentiate between toy guns and real ones, but seem to have decided to shoot 'just in case'.

Still, what's the problem with shooting a few kids in the hunt for a nutcase with a long beard in a cave somewhere in the Hindu Kush?

I wonder what Dixon of Dock Green would have to say about this. Or Commander George Gideon.


I think this poster says it all.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Serge Gainsbourg

Time for something a little different methinks.

Serge Gainsbourg reminds me of some fantastic holidays driving around France, I even smoked Gauloises for a long time as well as listening to Serge. Anyway I think Comic Strip typifies the unique talent that was Serge Gainsbourg:

No Cameras Allowed

As the police state tightens its grip it even now takes on a very British hue. We aren't actually very good at dictatorship, remember Cromwell and the return of the monarchy not long after?

But not being able to take a photograph of a sunset over St Pauls, because of anti-terror legislation, has even stirred Matthew Parris. In the following piece in The Times he becomes, for the usual mild to bland Parris, animated to the extent of almost ranting, well a Parris style rant anyway:

Funny how the house rules of broadcasting and journalism insinuate themselves into our unconscious without our knowing it. Ours is the least “deconstructed” trade in Britain: you never let the pipes and girders, the stage props, lawyers and technical gadgetry show. Readers just see a finished newspaper, viewers a clean screen with sofas, trees and views of Big Ben. So when on Sunday I sat beside Mariella Frostrup on The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, and a professional photographer I know, Jeff Overs, strode in front of the cameras, photographic equipment round his neck, something jarred. Quick, Jeff’s gone berserk. Get him off.

But he’d been invited. He was there to describe an attempt by the Metropolitan Police to stop him photographing a sunset over St Paul’s Cathedral. The officer had been acting, she said, under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. She’d been stopping loads of people taking pictures that afternoon “and nobody’s complained”. I mentioned that I’d been moved on from among the pigeons in Trafalgar Square when recording (into something no bigger than a Dictaphone) for a radio programme about wild animals in London. Mariella said she thought it was sinister.

I think it’s worse than sinister. It’s plumb stupid. Is there anything you could call a presiding human intelligence at work in our counter-terrorism operations? Has nobody in the Met heard of Google Street View? Do senior officers talk to junior officers about priorities, and if so, do they think it likely that al-Qaeda would use operatives carrying professional photographic equipment, rather than disguised as tourists with mobile phones? Do they think that if an officer has reason to suspect someone of taking pictures for the purposes of terrorism, the appropriate response could ever be just to tell them to stop?

I discussed this next morning on BBC London radio, which had approached the Met to be told that such operations are carefully limited to “iconic sites and crowded places”, ie, where thousands of people have a good reason to take snapshots.

I have been trying hard to visualise an organisation composed of sentient individuals, in which these questions have not been asked. The attempt defeated me. I’m scared, Mariella, not because Big Brother is watching, but because Big Brother’s a noodle. Given the quality of our response, the untold story of our age is surely the incompetence of al-Qaeda.

The police state is actually scarier than Parris paints it. But I suspect that he represents the bland, touchy feely Conservatism that will see Dave Cameron becoming just an extension of the current Big Brother lovers in government. Moan about it over a G&T while turning a blind eye, as Gordon Brown has so expertly, to its ever more threatening intrusion into our lives.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Nicolas 'Le Dwarf' Sarkozy

If you still doubt that our independence has been given away to the European Union then please read the comments of Nicolas 'Le Dwarf' Sarkozy in the Times.

We are in charge now, Sarkozy tells the City


Pondering the vote this week in Switzerland I couldn't help thinking that the people of France, Holland and Ireland voted against the Lisbon Treaty but they, and we, got it any way.

Then the bleeding heart liberals go all self righteous and condemn the Swiss for voting against more minarets going up than the four that already exist in that country. The chances are the decision will be overturned when the Council of Europe stick their long noses in anyway:

“Bearing in mind that it is a fundamental right of democratic states to debate and vote on issues of importance to their societies, the referendum held yesterday on the construction of new minarets in Switzerland raises concerns as to whether fundamental rights of individuals, protected by international treaties, should be subject to popular votes,” said the council’s secretary general, Thorbjørn Jagland, a former foreign minister of Norway. “The ban on the construction of new minarets is linked to issues such as freedom of expression, freedom of religion and prohibition of discrimination guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights.

“Therefore it would be up to the European Court of Human Rights to decide, should an application be submitted to the court, whether the prohibition of building new minarets is compatible with the convention.”

So forgive me for asking, but exactly what type of 'democracy' are the forces in Afghanistan and Iraq fighting to impose on those poor sods? Is it the one that says the people can have their say, as long as they agree with the political class?

Christmas Charity-The Prostate Cancer Charity

Christmas is a wonderful time for giving and receiving and, if you are a Christian, for celebrating the birth of Christ. Who knows, we may even get a white Christmas this year.

Via this blog I am supporting the Prostate Cancer Charity. I don't believe in asking people to donate rather than give presents or send cards, that's too much fun to not do, but I would ask you to consider clicking on the image on my side bar and making a donation, no matter how small, to the Prostate Cancer Charity.

Many thanks in anticipation.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Islamabad Comes To Luton-Again!

Baroness Warsi, Shadow Minister for the ludicrous portfolio of Community Cohesion and Social Action has been verbally abused and pelted with eggs by Muslims in Luton. The BBC footage here looks more like a film from an election gathering in Islamabad than a street in Luton.

I'm a great believer in live and let live, that religions should be able to live side by side without causing problems for each other or anybody else, but tolerance does have to have its limits.

What is starting to concern me is that every time there is an incident involving Muslims, no matter how great or how trivial, throwing an egg at a politician or the London bombings, we hear the same old tired mantra that "they are not representative of real Muslims". Well socialists/communists used to use that old chestnut whenever the evils of a socialist/communist country were exposed, "ah but that isn't true socialism".

That mantra didn't convince me then, and I'm starting to doubt it today too.

John Demjanjuk and Nazi War Crimes

Many years ago, back in the '70s, I knew an elderly woman who had a deep and abiding hatred of Germany and Germans because of the Second World War, and no doubt from reading about the First World War. Not having lived through the blitz and growing up with a rehabilitated Germany playing a key role in European affairs I didn't share her loathing but part of me could understand it. What I found I couldn't accept was that she had a stack of newspapers from 1939 to 1945 and, if she ever felt her hatred for all things German waning, she would take them out and read them to stoke up her venom.

I had a similar feeling yesterday when I read about 89 year old John Demjanjuk's trial starting in Munich. Demjanjuk has already been tried in Israel for war crimes and found guilty then had the conviction overturned, he was found innocent but had spent several years wrongly imprisoned. This time non of the co-plaintiffs in the trial can positively identify Demjanjuk as a guard at Sobibor concentration camp. In his first trial he was wrongly accused, yet found guilty, of being a guard at Treblinka known as "Ivan the Terrible".

The Germans forced many Red Army prisoners to become guards in camps to free up Germans to fight on the front. How many of us could raise our hands if asked whether, in 1942 or 1943, we would have stood up to the Nazis and refused to become guards, especially knowing the treatment you would have received for doing so?

Don't look back with 21st century glasses on either. We can only imagine the de-humanising effects on people of two barbaric philosophies, fascism and communism, going in a bloody and often primitive head-to-head, a fight for survival, a fight to the death. In those circumstances men will do things that they would never dream of under normal, civilised circumstances.

The trial of John Demjanjuk, an 89 year old in seriously ill health smacks of the civilised world behaving in the same way as that old lady I knew in the 1970s. Neither dignified nor civilised.