Friday, November 09, 2007

Time to Go

Iain Blair
Dead Man Walking
The general consensus seems to be that Iain Blair (I won't use an honorific that he seems so unworthy of) will continue to inspire diminishing confidence in the Metropolitan police.

As I've posted elsewhere I have more than a little sympathy for the Met on the specific issue of the health and safety prosecution; health and safety legislation and the defence of the realm against terrorism do not mix, period. Civil liberties must be balanced against the needs for terror legislation, health and safety is not worthy of the same consideration in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

I have no such sympathy for Blair. Watching him over the last few days I've seen a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde. When I hear him speak, I hear all the arrogance of his Labour masters, but when I look in his eyes and at his general demeanour I see a rabbit in the headlights, a man who knows he has blown it.

It has been truly appalling to hear Jacqui Smith's unsupported claims that Blair enjoys public support, while the best evidence available, the body elected to represent London has spoken otherwise. There's not much she could do I suspect, even if she was inclined to hang Blair out to dry. After all he is simply following Labour's new orthodoxy that acts of appalling mismanagement, far from being a a career limiting matters, should in fact offer job security under the mantra of the 'cleaning up your own mess' principle. It's understandable when you look at the fate of Smith's predecessors why she is so keen to endorse this line of thinking. Many heard the distinctive sound of the bottom of a barrel being scraped when she was appointed to her current post and let's be honest, the best spin you can put on her tenure so far is encapsulated in the famous acronym SNAFU.

The most offensive aspect of Smith's piss-poor handling of the whole affair is her petulant whinging about those who call for his resignation. Time and type she, and her acolytes make the claim of 'playing politics' with the fight against terrorism. Blair's appointment was one of the political to the police's top job in recent years and her defence of him, against all decency, is even more politically motivated. If incompetency is no bar to high office in the Labour party of today, hypocrisy never has been. Most of Blair's opponents have had issues about his suitability for the job for a long time and for Smith to expect them to turn a blind eye to his latest misdeeds, simply because there is a tenuous link to terrorism, is frankly ridiculous.

The only redeeming feature is that Blair and Smith now are to a significant extent political Siamese Twins. Smith must be a very nervous woman. Blair can't really afford to make any more mistakes, but on his track record the next cock-up can't be far away. When it comes, Smith knows she will be receiving the dreaded message of 'full confidence' from the Prime Minster that announces to the world that the remaining span of her ministerial career can now be measured in days.

But back to Blair, a phrase often heard these days, albeit about a different Blair. It is perhaps for other offences that need to be taken into consideration that I would like to see the back of Blair, but there is in the whole de Menezes affair one solitary fact that should in of itself mark the end of his time at the top, the issue of his obstruction of the IPCC investigation. As reported in the Guardian:
Just after the shooting on July 22 2005, Sir Ian wrote to the home secretary saying he feared an independent investigation could jeopardise lives. His plea was rejected as the law required the IPCC to investigate any police shooting.

Source: The Guardian

So, there it is, a requirement in law that the IPCC investigate any police shooting and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan police attempted to incite the Home Secretary of the time to break that law. I always thought that incitement of another to break the law was itself an offence, even if it isn't, it is a profoundly unethical thing to do. As for Blair's reasoning for asking for the law he is bound to uphold to be broken, does it sound even vaguely plausible?

Either way Blair is unfit to be part of the police service, let alone to lead it. Almost everyone seems to agree that he is damaged and at times like this we cannot afford to have a damaged top cop. With stories such as those about potential ECJ action likely to run and run the damage will continue as long as he remains in post. I might enjoy the discomfort it causes to the current government, Brown, who seems to be pulling a bit of a Macavity on the issue, apart, but this is two important to wish to see the open wound undressed.

For God's sake, go. A tritely decent man would have done so a long time ago, even a moderately self-aware one would have done so yesterday.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Lines of Thought

One of the hazards of working from home is that you do on occasion expose yourself to daytime TV. It's one of those things that does make me sceptical about the BBC's oft repeated claims to be the last bastion of 'quality' TV, but occasionally you do catch the odd gem.

So here, in tribute to Private Eye's Dumb Britain feature, is a snippet from today's Weakest Link:

Ann Robinson: What 'T' is a gland at the rear of the mouth, often removed in childhood.

Contestant: The Throat.

Source: The Weakest Link (8th November 2007)

Now I've encountered a few kids who I think would benefit from a thoatectomy, but...

Update, early hours: Yes, it is embarrassing to f*** up the title of a posting like this, OK? Most of my 'lines of thought' are polluted with 'lines of though', so maybe it wasn't such a bad title anyway.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Mind the Gap

Nick Clegg
Next sucker for punishment
Having got used to a lifetime of nuanced meanings of statements by political parties it is easy to become somewhat of a cynic.

I don't have the instinctive distrust that many natural Conservatives have of the Lib Dems.

True they do have their beard and sandal brigade, but to be honest I'm not sure they exist in any greater number than Bufton-Tufton hanging and flogging Tories. They have some ridiculous policies on taxation but they will never get to implement them so they don't scare me. They have a naievety on matters European that beggars belief, other than in the European Parliament where naievety gives way disingenuity but that is hardly a problem unique to the Lib Dems. Their "we like to talk positivly not just slag off the opposition unlike the other two sets of pricks" line is clearly internally hypocritical, but on the scale of political hypocrisies it is small beer. Their ability to sell wholy incompatible story lines in different local situations is annoying, but I guess there has to be some kind of edge to being small to the point of irrelavancy.

Jiminy Cricket
The real role for Lib Dems
Electorally, of course, they must fought as the 'NuLab Lite' they are, but for all that I value those times they make an occasional return to classically liberal, small state values. I've no idea how they square this with much of their stated policy objectives, but they do sometimes act as the Jiminy Cricket of the political establishment, sitting on the shoulder of those of our elected representitives, reminding them that just because the state, on occasion, can do does not automatically mean that by implication the state should do.

It is the espousal of these values, consistantly and unambiguously in recent years, by the Conservatives of David Cameron that has made me start to dabble with the idea of rejoining the party. I reject utterly the whining of some Lib Dems that it is some sort of marriage of convenience. To a modern conservative these values are as natural as breathing.

I'll admit that on occasion the Lib Dems do fall on the side of the angels first, but anyone who has listened to the likes of David Davies on ID cards cannot in their hearts truly believe that their opposition to most of the autoritarian claptrap that has emerged from the Labour government in the last decade is anything other than sincere and heartfelt. In fact, sensible Lib Dems should really be considering whether, in the very likely situation that the next general election results in a hung Parliament, their instinctive anti-Tory bile may leave them having to defend the indefensible.

It is then, to reciprocate the general spirit of the Lib Dem's attitude to Conservative pronouncements in this arena, that I comment on Nick Cleggs comments to the Guardian yesterday:
The Liberal Democrats today condemned the policy of holding children's DNA profiles "often without parental consent", as government figures showed almost 150,000 under-16s were on the national database.

The Lib Dem shadow home affairs spokesman, Nick Clegg, described the policy as "disturbing".

"Thousands of these children will have been found guilty of no crime, yet samples of their DNA will remain on file for life.

"The disturbing and illiberal policy of adding a child's most personal information to a massive government computer system, simply on the grounds of an accusation, must stop immediately.

Source: The Guardian

I take it therefore that Lib Dem policy is that it is perfectly fine to harvest the DNA of innocent adults then?

If You Don't Ask...

Blogger Logo don't get.

Today is a great day in the Village marking, as it does the arrival of free wireless Internet access in the Base Camp. No more need I be subjected to the highly variable temperament of Shrek's occasionally evil twin brother who runs the Mother Ship, should I fancy blogging over aseveral pints of Guinness.

I'm chalking it up as a personal victory. I might have, erm...slightly exaggerated the number of regular Internet users at the competing hostelry to the manager here or rather forgotten to mention that most of them were the kitchen staff. Perhaps too, I might be somewhat more familiar with the provenance of some of the e-mail addresses of those suggesting the facility on the pub chain's corporate web site's feedback page than I really should be.

For all of that I feel I've done a valuable service in doing my bit to see that the good burghers of the Village are provided with such a service in an environment free from the Toxic One.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Up in Smoke

Guy Fakes
In need of an update
Bonfire night hasn't ever had the same appeal since my father bought a dodgy batch of fireworks that fell of the back of a lorry a few years ago. Once you've seen an oversized rocket doing a mid air U-turn a couple of seconds after lift off and somehow fitting through the narrowest of re-entry windows (in this case a patio door opened only to a ventilation setting) and explode in the family lounge nothing else will quite match the excitement.

It's that whiff of gunpowder and controlled danger that I've always liked and I desperately hope the health and safety zealots fail in their annual whining for yet more draconian restrictions. They don't seem to publicise the annual injury toll on TV news outlets anymore, which is probably a sign that the numbers are becoming fairly small and un-newsworthy, but if true that would not deflect the zero risk brigade from their crusade.

There have also been the usual questions raised about the appropriateness of an annual celebration of Catholic burning from the usual suspects of political correctness as well as from more considered sources. I've got no particular views on Catholicism one way of the other, but I am inclined to believe that it is one area where perhaps we could include a little more diversity. A pub conversation last night covered some potential candidates to replace the historical Guido Fawkes, so I have now come up with my considered top 10. I've tried to stick to just a single victim from any given sphere or institution, otherwise I'd have just been able to cut and paste from a list of members of the current cabinet.

So here goes then…my top 10 for the bonfire kindled, of course with the entire print run (if that is sufficient) of The Independent, in effigy:

10 - Jonathan Davies
Davies is a fine rugby player in both codes of the codes, with an encyclopaedic knowledge of both games. That said, the Welsh accent can be a beautiful thing, but his isn't. If some digibox offers a 'mute Davies commentary' feature I will be out to buy one in a second.

9 - Jose Manuel Barroso
I was tempted to include two people from the commission so that, in EU style, it would be possible to satisfy the sensitivities of those both in Brussels and Strasbourg. In my opinion the more common hate figures of the Eurosceptic movement, such as Santer and Delors at least had a degree of honesty of what their ultimate goal was, even if they were not so open about how they were achieving it. Some may say that Barroso is just the EU village idiot and unworthy of the accolade, but I'd love to see him go up in his Napoleonic bicorn hat.

8 - The Poison Dwarf
Ok, a bit parochial. Those outside the Village will just have to trust me when I say that never before in the field of pub bores has so little knowledge been expounded so long and inaccurately to so many.

7 - Kate Moss
OK, it wouldn't add much to the blaze, but the Kate Moss effigy is there as a symbolic representation of British Tabloid culture at its worst. The mention of her name in the broadcast media used to be a cue that all the serious news had come to an end and you could switch off and go and do something else, now it's likely to somewhere up in the top three stories at some point in any given week.

6 - Quentin Davies MP
We have far too large a legislature for a country of our size so the back benchers must take their share of the cuts as well as the cabinet. Not only would Davies' oily bulk make up for Moss, but as people at least since the days of Dante have known, there is a special circle in hell reserved for traitorous scum. I suspect there are still plenty of his newfound colleagues that would help me drag his heavy effigy to the top of the bonfire.

5 - Richard Corbett MEP
The smug grin that the deputy leader of the Labour MEPs has worn since his wish to have the desires of the British People extinguished seems to have been granted is truly revolting. The stupefying dishonesty of his attempts to justify the most politically dishonest act of my lifetime are offensive in the extreme. His fervent hope that the gradual stripping away of real democratic control from the general public will continue is reason enough to give him a portent of what generally happens when self selecting elites scorn the people, in seeing his effigy meet the same kind of sticky end that ultimately befell many of his political forebears.

4 - Robert Mugabe
It's a rare person who can unite a vast swathe of the political spectrum in universal loathing. There are others whose leadership has turned their country into a complete mess, but so often it can be attributed to an obsession with failed and discredited ideologies. With Mugabe I'm not sure I could even credit a plea of insanity; I believe he knows what he is doing is wrong and where he is leading his nation but these issues are small beer to him in comparison to his desire for unfettered power and wealth for his friends and himself.

3 - Lord "I'll never accept a peerage" Kinnock
Kinnock becomes the peer for the pyre on many counts. At least seeing the Kinnock effigy burn would be a more upbeat experience than some of the others where the frustration that in a civilised society we cannot really burn the person depicted would be a bit of dampener. Just as traditional bonfire festivities celebrate, to an extent, an event that never came to pass, so too would the roasting of this trough pig's effigy be a celebration that he never actually became Prime Minister.

2 - Sir Ian Blair
Had this particular Blair done a job that had inspired confidence in anybody outside left wing political circles then I would have been defending him to the hilt over the recent ridiculous Health and Safety conviction for the Met. In truth though he has being doing an important job badly for several years now with an astonishing disregard to the damage he is doing to the image of his forceservice.

1 - Gordon Brown
Well, it had to be, didn't it? If I'm only going to burn one member of the cabinet in effigy it has to be the top man. I understand he has another in his series of books on courage about to hit the shelves. It's the only way he will ever see his name on the cover of a book on that subject. Utterly worthless.

I know there are so many other worthy candidates but it's a start and we do have to consider our carbon footprint.