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(no subject) [Jun. 10th, 2013|09:23 am]
We lived in a world where in theory we were assured our private lives would remain exactly that, within the boundaries of legality. However, now that we know that that has in reality been breached, we are now told that we have nothing to fear as long as we are acting legally. But how can we now have any faith in that? It is not the subversion of the boundary, but of the faith, which matters: how do we know that some joker will not allow the test of legality to slip? In many ways it already has slipped, in the US collecting this data from the UK without authority: the Guardian can and doubtless will take that further. Perhaps the answer is to drive the US crazy with infraction overload, based on pure fiction, so they no longer know what is truth and what is reality: it is the price they should pay for abusing the constitutional presumption of innocence.
The Foreign Secretary William Hague in any case acted most foolishly in stating that "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear". That demolition of the right to privacy, which, I would remind him, is Constitutional, and therefore beyond his Ministerial prerogative, is straight out of Orwell: he mistakes himself in presuming that everyone has placed their entire lives in the Public Domain, as he has by standing for high public office. If we were all paid the wages of a senior Minister, then he might have a case, but we are not. Equally, we were not asked.
As a senior Minister, Hague had a responsibility to retain democracy above power. He obviously has failed and must go.
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Welcome to our Telegraph readers [Mar. 28th, 2013|01:21 am]
The Barclay Brothers having decided that we are such excellent correspondants they can turn a fast buck from our pearls of wisdom by charging us as well, I return here to continue the fray.
My major trends are the expression of concern at the abuse of authority, socio-dynamics, and nonsense. I censor advertising, and expect normal rules of debate to apply, in particular mutual tolerance of other peoples opinions: anyone starting a flame war out of simple ignorance will be sent packing. That already applies to IJ, because his fundamental ignorance is likely to start flame wars. Other than that, don't kick the cat.
Suggestions for postings are always welcome, tag them with "suggestion", please.
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Or has ruling become anarchic? [Nov. 9th, 2012|05:56 pm]
We are now getting closer to the election of the Police Commissars - and the truth is being revealed.
Firstly, the candidates have been stitched up - the original intent was to encourage local worthies to stand, but in reality what we are being offered are the Z-List of political hangers-on. And we are supposed to entrust our personal security to such?
Next, the election has been fixed, so no manifestos are being distributed, it's supposedly available on-line. That instantly disenfranchises a huge part of the electorate, who do not use the internet for any numver of reasons. Franchise should not be linked to ability to pay for an internet feed, it's not considered an essential element of the unemployment benefit cost, and although there are free mail subscription services and most libraries have free access, the availability is far less than necessary if all who do not have their own access were to attempt to use these services.
When we attempt to access the manifestos online, we get a choice between the Home Office and a site calling itself Looking at what's behind it leads us to a nominal think-tank, Policy Exchange, which is actually a creature of Francis Maude's, working with his Common Purpose hat on. In other words, a gatekeeper on the freedom of speech at the most fundamental level of democracy, or if you prefer, Big Brother in censor mode.
Finally, the election itself. I respond to the suggestion to get up to speed on it and find that Londoners are getting no vote because it falls under Boris' bailiwick. Nice one, but democracy? I think not.
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Anarchy seems to rule [Oct. 25th, 2012|12:44 am]
The big temptation in blogging current affairs is to be too engaged in the moment. But at this moment, the Establishment is tottering, and a certain amount of retrospection is revealing.

Firstly, the reputation of the police has never been lower - because it has become clear that the reforms since the 1970s have been window-dressing. Since the start of 2012, in January Richard Crompton, Chief Constable of Lincolnshire, resigned over the replacement of appointed Authority with elected Commissioners, followed within days by Devon and Cornwall's Stephen Otter, in April by Gloucestershire's Tony Melville, and Dorset's Martin Baker in September, all well before their contracts were up, and for similar reasons. We have just seen West Yorkshire's Norman Bettison, and South Yorkshire's Peter Wright's resignation remains on the table, both over Hillsborough. West Midlands' Chris Sims is under threat after a judge referred DCI Anthony Tagg to the IPCC for perjury explaining the non-disclosure of evidence to the defence, evidence of a police offer of immunity from prosecution about events in the 2011 riots, in the search for witnesses, for which they had no authority. Cleveland's Sean Price has just been fired for nepotism. Leicester's Deputy Chief Constable has just committed suicide rather than answer the charges against him of fraud and gross misconduct. Not to mention the Met's problems with the Leveson enquiry, which cost Sir Paul Stephenson his job last yearor the internal argument going on about Cumbria's Stuart Hyde, exhonerated by the IPCC but still suspended by his Police Authority. That's quite a score running from fundamental disrespect for the basic axiom of democracy to the outright criminal, 9 out of 41 English and Welsh authorities, over 20%. The only saving grace is the bloodbath of senior Scottish officers as the forces there are amalgamated, hiding a not dissimilar rate of malfeasance in office. These are not junior officers, they set the tone for their subordinates which affects the entirety of the population on their patch.

Secondly, the nemesis of the British Press, Tom Watson MP, just started this Parliamentary Session with yet another bombshell, asking for an investigation of a paedophile ring discovered connecting a No 10 aide and the House of Commons in 1992, well before the more notorious aides came to prominence. Again, ancient history starts to come home to roost. When ones adds this to the BBC's problems, one begins to wonder whether Britten's 1950s agenda might not have had some covert success. At least Common Purpose now has a fairish bit of egg on it's subversive face.

This is starting to get serious. Virtually every pillar of our society has foot not merely of clay, but of stinking clay, whether you look at it in terms of the Pillars of the State, or the Four Estates of classical definition. The Executive continues to be unfit for purpose, the Legislative has still to recover from the MPs corruption scandals, which clearly continue, if in a lesser scale, as those who were tempted into getting a second home still maintain it, for all that they have had more than enough time to do something about it. The Judiciary is unaccountable, and I classify such senior misdemeanours as I have been discussing as fallling under this category. In terms of the Estates, religion has become a seriously problematical concern, whether s Islamic extremism, or Christian Evangellyfish. The second estate, nobility, well, what can I say? Parliament we have already disposed of. The third, the common people, are utterly oppressed, and the fourth, the Press, is the subject of the Leveson enquiry.
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A continuation of policy by other means [Sep. 13th, 2012|01:36 pm]

We have seen in the past week several police-driven incidents which continue the same old us-and-them theme which we've been told was a relic of the 1970s policing tactics portrayed in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes. It was a natural continuation of the World War II authoritarianism, where the exigencies of wartime allowed a number of jacks-in-office to get way above themselves for reasons caused by that last refuge of the incompetent, patriotism.
"There is a war on, you know" was evident then. But Rahere well remembers from his childhood a former major, who perhaps had seen rather too much horror, still attempting to impose that level of discipline over primary school children, teaching being the only thing other than bullying and hectoring he was able to do. He was eventually seen off by the entire school mocking his efforts, which had rather more to do with Sean Connery's The Hill than educating thre children of the 1960s.
It took a school to sort that out. It will take all society to sort out the cops. The idea of benevolent authority embodied by Jack Warner's Dixon of Dock Green was barely up to handling the underlying networks behind the wartime spivs, which were to grow into the Kray gang and the like, and the muscled response, the Flying Squad, portrayed heroically on screen as "The Sweeney" (Sweeney Todd=Flying Squad in the Cockney rhyming slang of London's East End, typically caustically because Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, was a serial killer - the implied link to the Press, at that time based on Fleet Street, was not coincidental), eventually turned out to have more links to the criminal underworld they were supposed to oppose than could ever be justified - in 1977 it's Commander, DCS Drury, was sentenced to seven years for corruption, alongside twelve of his subordinates. Operation Countryman followed, resulting in the summary dismissal of hundreds of police, but despite the Operation's recommendation that something like three quarters of them should be charged, not a single one was.
That set a background to the current situation, typified by the way an entire bus-load of passengers was held on police orders n Deptford simply because one of them, evidently a known criminal, had just been released from jail, and they wanted to make certain he received a traditional welcome back. That it entailed common assault in full view of several dozen citizens seemed not to matter a whit, and when one of them, somewhat more mature than Rahere then was, dared to protest, he was nearly treated similarly. As I say, it sets a background to Bernard Ingham's statement to his boss, the then PM Margaret Thatcher, stating that the Hillsborough abuse was "only too familiar". Why should a PM be unable to act? Because it would mean dismissing the entire police force to be certain of completing the job. A much more feasible solution would have been to reform the mores of the force, she felt.
Fine in theory, fucked-up in practice. What it has meant is that the disproportionate respect of the judiciary for the police has reached the position where no real action was ever forthcoming. We were led to believe that it had happened, and was happening, but the real evidence of our eyes is to the contrary: this is simply the culmination of years of lack of control. Hillsborough is simply typical of so much else, and let us now look at that.
It transpires that 164 police altered their statements to exonerate their force of what now seems to be evident responsibility for not merely a serious accident, but one compounded by a deliberate lack of care once the accident had happened. There can be no exculpation through ignorance, Liverpool fans had been involved in the Heysel Stadium disaster some four years earlier, and that may have prejudiced opinions in the police against them. But that earlier disaster established that panicked crowds and pitch barriers are a lethal combination, and knowledge of the one implies knowledge of the other - not to mention the clear vision of the incident from the police area in the stadium. But however relevant the incident itself, and it is something I will return to, my theme is what happened next.
Once the hard reality became clear, we now know that a collusive cover-up occured. Lord Taylor made recommendations in his enquiry which were never pursued, and a number of police who were less than satisfied at the situation reported to a number of senior police commanders, which were again filed vertically under WPB. But yet again we get the entire thing referred to the now-discredited IPCC, Police Inspectorate, Judiciary and other Forces, exactly the same mechanism which led to this situation - anything but the one body which has shown probity, the Bishop of Liverpool's, who were constrained by a narrative mandate. It's time to take the gloves off.
Because this last year has seen nothing happen after the Mark Duggan shooting. Last week "E7", a police sniper, admitted he did not see any weapon in a car they were targeting before shooting Azelle Rodney dead, but opened fire because he felt his colleagues were in immediate danger. That feeling was based in the reason they were targeting he car, the admittedly justified belief that arms were in the car. A similar background caused the Duggan death, which when compounded by lack of immediate accountabilty by the police caused the worst riots in a century. Knowledge engendered fear, and fear led to killing. This is in effect a shoot-to-kill policy, and it is based on the inferiority of the population in plice eyes, a sense of us-and-them. It is obvious we should add in the de Menenzes, Tomlinson and Stanley killings, differentiated by the absolute innocence of the victims, a significant number of deaths in custody, and Hillsborough. There can be no doubt left that this sense of us-and-them has degenerated into a kind of warfare, and the effort to catch up on Hillsborough is, as the families of the dead have already said of the Sun's apology, too little, too late. Because it is quite clear that this is a situation described in Macchiavelli, that if a political system cannot govern by consent, then it must govern by coercion. Too many senior officers knew the truth and did nothing, and Jack Straw's comments on the situation he inherited show that for all that we may entertain reasonable doubts about the Thatcher government, we can be even more certain about his direct knowledge as Minister of Justice, his statement amounts to a confession. And so it is that the situation is far worse than merely Hillsborough, this is systemic collusion which calls our entire legal system into question.
As a starting point, when Robert Peel created his force, he made one provision which seems eminently sensible: he staffed it with military officers. Why should we allow the police to become a distinct caste promoting uniquely internally, when those hwo have shown serious heroism in the Army are shwn the door. It is time to replace these firearms officers, unpracticed under pressure, with military, and to replace their bosses with ex Army men.

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Elizabethan science [Sep. 10th, 2012|10:14 am]
A good many posters in the UK have been puzzled of late, what the flipping heck were the Olympics and Paralympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies on about? Other than as vehicals for Rahere's successors as state jongleurs, that is.
A year ago, London's fad-of-the-moment was Trevor Nunn's latest RSC production of The Tempest. Indeed, there was even a second company with rather a more experimental sonic approoach at St Giles Cripplegate, and that triggered a Study Day at Guildhall School of Music. Its keynote presenter was the Early Music specialist Anthony Rooley, who Rahere knew many moons ago, and in the pre-meeting chat we discovered to our pleasure that we had both been working in the alchemical, Tony as a mindset tool for his voice pupils at the Basel Schola Cantorum, Rahere in hard history in Brussels. He would work on the alchemical relationship to music, Rahere had unplanned its counterpart in history, with details on The Kings Men of some relevance to the day. And so the presentation we made on the fly during the first session took a very close ressemblance to the Olympics themes, how van Helmont's paraceslianism (Paralympics Closing Ceremony) led to Newtonian Science (Paralympics Opening Ceremony), how Robert Armin's desertion of Shakespeare's pro-alchemical The Tempest to star in Ben Jonson's anti-alchemical The Alchemist was motivated by his membership of The Goldsmiths Company, havng passed as a Journeyman...well, there are some very relevant themes there, and the real message was far from that equally bigotted idea of The Enlightenment as claimed, but rather of Chymistry, that halfway house between the mediaeval academic norm of the quadrivium to scientific method.
And as those of you who have read somewhat on here will know, that has been Rahere's meat and drink for some time!
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British unaccountability [Jul. 4th, 2012|03:32 pm]
Any resemblance between James Murdoch and Bob Diamond before Parliamentary Select Committees is entirely consistent with an old joke, a set of organigram heirarchy trees typifying national practice. Japan, for example, has everyone reporting to everyone else: China has huge numbers of subordinates at each level.
The UK's, however, shows a complete dislocation between senior and middle management: senior management never need or want to know what's going on on the ground. The Select Committees should call compliance and internal audit officers to explain, it's not micro-management, but checking.
Do we really need these expensive figureheads? Because if it goes on, clubability will take on an entirely different meaning, related to the use of stout wooden billets.
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Full Disclosure [Jul. 3rd, 2012|09:31 am]
Given that this is getting close to Rahere in person, Rahere had better disclose some personal information which has nothing to do with the subject at hand.
Way on back when Captain Mainwaring was a local bank manager, Barclays Bank was still something of s family firm, with a prevalence of Directors from the Dale and Ash families, frequently intermarried. Rahere's maternal grandfather was a minor scion of that clan, which was responsible for the start of personal credit as well, in passing, in the invention of the Barclaycard and its extension into cash machines, crazily enough at Enfield, where the thing was opened by Reg Varney, star of On The Busses, which about sums it up.
That is about the sum of it: Rahere's comments are as a man of the streets, albeit a well-informed one. And if by consequence he is mentally aligned with traditions which despise the bucanneer profile of modern banking (cue Monty Python's The Meaning of Life Crimson Permanent Assurance), then so much the better. Now, where's the edge of the world?
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Thirty Pieces of Silver [Jul. 3rd, 2012|08:10 am]
In confirmation of Rahere's open letter to Bob Diamond, Diamond's successor as CE of Barclays is John Sunderland, selected by Marcus Agius. When Barclays sold Cadbury Schweppes down the river, forcing Sir Adrian and Dominic Cadbury out (not to mention Rahere as well, in their wake), guess who became Chief Exec? None other than Jolly John - who then steered the company onto the rocks. What goes around comes around...
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On taxation [Jul. 2nd, 2012|08:57 pm]
Rahere has been mulling over something radical. The budget model supposes that any imbalance in taxation and state expenditure affects inflation. Yet neither income nor expenditure are accurately modeled, quite apart from matched in phasing, and the collection of the taxation is in and of itself expensive, for all that HMRC is engaged in an extensive and utterly swingeing cut, to the extent that anything other than basic information is unavailable. Rahere's proposition is to dispose of the beast completely, and with it all taxation. It boosts business efficiency by removing the innumerable onerous calculations required to account for taxation, and removes a major cause of individual dissatisfaction, according to Herzberg's hygiene theories of individual motivation.
Of course, even a moderately astute reader will instantly react with the realisation that this implies an utterly imbalanced budget. Yet a balanced budget is in and of itself whistling in the wind, the real objective such an aspiration should seek is a balanced income and expenditure account, the current account. And so what is actually happening? The unforeseeable nature of economics means differences arise, absorbed by fluctuating levels of borrowing from the banking system. That adds and subtracts from the money supply, and is therefore inflationary. And therein lies the germ of the idea.
One can split the two sides of the government budgetary exercise, expenditure being inflationary, income deflationary. All taxation does is redistribute income towards the State: it does not create it in and of itself, indeed the cost of collecting it destroys some. Removing it simply replaces it with inflation, which diminishes all the assets held in the country without discrimination, because if you add in the difference from the budget P&L, already in inflation, you have the expenditure. This is entirely offset by the sudden disappearance of taxation in any case, and the effect would actually be slightly positive to the global inflation figure, as the cost of collection, less unemployment for all the tax collectors, will be a net saving.
A corollary arises, the effect on foreign and offshore capital. Should foreign companies operating here (and thereby benefiting from state expenditure) be immune, when their asset base is elsewhere?  Should British with their assets overseas be immune? It comes down to who actually benefits from Government. Discounting the cynical comment, "Nobody", the residents putatively benefit from it directly, and expats indirectly in terms of the maintenance of the infrastructure they will return to. Emigrants have refuted their interest, but immigrants should bring their contribution to the common weal with them - we begin to have a value to impose on refugee immigration where it masks an economic interest. That then gives a handle on those who make no inflationary contribution, they must bear their share of state expenditure or leave. But how can one assess the per-capita wealth of an intangible entity, a business? By comparing its local profitability to the GNP. So we will not be able to kill HMRC completely, sadly, Customs remains relevant.
This, of course, is the reality offered by tax havens everywhere. There is no reason not to follow them: taxation did not exist until a mere two hundred years ago, and was supposedly a repetition of the other temporary levies imposed to pay for wars - this was, of course, a major influence in the English Civil War, the refusal to support King Charles I's spendthrift ways. We seem now to have replaced a King with a Chancellor, but after all, that is exactly what the Scots had already done, allowing the Stuarts (Stewards) to take over. Anything ring a bell here?
The consequence will be a similar wave of defiscalisation across the world, as other States find themselves needing to compete. It may, of course, be bad news to Luxemburg, Switzerland and the Channel Islands, but it is good news for Europe as a whole, as it reduces the distortions of national taxation on the supposedly level business playing field to close to zero: indeed, Schengen can expand to cover the expat question above as it sees fit. And it allows the expansion of State expenditure to Europe-wide, reducing the distortions inherent in small nations maintaining industrial sectors they need for State policy.
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