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And when the shouting was over [May. 10th, 2015|03:32 pm]
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So, eighteen months down the road during which there was really not much to talk about other than the usual juvenile fantasy of day-to-day yah-boo-sucks politics, Hague has gone. So has, functionally, the Labour Party, not only having lost its Keir Hardie fanbase, but also now split clean down the middle, having lost its top three, one in the most brutal way possible, and no likelihood of having a new one in under six months. That is one heck of a gift to Cameron - with the one possible poison in the chalice being the candidature of Mrs Balls. She does, does she? True, six months during which time we would barely see the skivers for a month in normal times, what with Summer Recess and Party Conference Season, but six months in which a competent bunch of ministers can make one heck of a lot of water pass under the bridges, water the Labour Party will additionally have to row against if it wants to know which way is up.
That does not mean to say Cameron is not burdened with things we can only surmise. With a possibly rather thin majority (we oldtimers recall the fine mess Wilson and Callaghan made of a similar one in the 1970s), Cameron needs someone he can trust as Chief Whip, and Michael Gove, the archfantasist, is most certainly not cut of that cloth. So why, in heaven's name, was he given  Justice, and what mad fabulation led him to remove all doubt about his competence by immediately opening his mouth declaring his keynote policy to be free Chambers for all Barristers? Even as a policy it was a non-started, TANSTAAFL. But when he has to manage the core material of the urgent renegotiations with Europe in the very near future, from the starting point of a legislative base of prime disorganisation, one can but pity Phillip Hammond, leading the charge knowing cancer is in its guts. What does Gove have on Cameron?
So, how did this happen? The answer is the hairline trigger nature of the first-past-the-post system, which does not respect the contiguous modelling of cephology. Eight and a half million voters (out of 45m registered, 56m potential) put this government in power over a nation of nigh on 70m by voting for a winning member of a winning Party, something Ken Livingstone took to the extreme in the 1980s by teaming up with Ken Banks to become two out of three controllers of the nominating committee of Iltydd Harrington's Labour GLC team. Instant result, Harrington out, Livingstone in, on the strength of two voices out of 10 million GLC electors. The margin of those eight and a half million over the second place candidates was barely a million: and under those circumstances, the only way to judge is to model each constituency individually. In a word, it's the failure of American marketing, the presumption that one size fits all: the sizes which fit Scotland do not fit England. One million within 70, well within the margin of error - but what a huge error. Let us have an end to these shyster pollsters, whose crystal ball gazing caused an imbalance in political accord which came within a dozen MPs of tearing the possibility of governing this nation apart.
Cameron now has the opportunity to consolidate this, by dividing and conquering. Offer the Scots their dearest wish, and reduce Labour to irrelevance for ever. He instantly gets the bonus of the subsidy (finding his 12m) and the departure of the Scots MPs giving him a firm majority, and loading Sturgeon with an impossible choice: she either renounces her dearest claim or destroys her nation. Either way she too is divided within.
Scotland may go for a few years, but their starting point should be where Greece is now in terms of credit rating, and thence the route is one-way, until they are desperate, indeed starving: we do nothing to help them, particularly in Europe. That is the price of trying to wag the English dog: the dog doesn't need it's tail, the tail will be catmeat without the dog. Then the balance changes, their dream must break itself on its own wheel. England can then only be blamed for not offering a hand the Scots spurned: let that be the historic record.
The wider lesson is that the human race succeeds by cooperation. Sturgeon is so bloated on Nigel Tranter's post-Jacobiteism she's forgotten her femininity, and is now at sea within herself between her twarted hopes to be KingMaker, the demands of her more atavistic trolls, and her personality as a politician to deal. To quote Billy Connolly, "Let's give these bastards a good hammering!" (The Hobbit, which is about the level of reality these mountain trolls work at). Where cooperation fails, punishment must follow - and in these neo-Tudor times, that must be serious, not something an Archer or a Mandelson can return from. For Cameron to succeed in Europe, he must remind the slimeworms that he should be feared, far more than Maggie with an iron brick in her handbag: what gives, fundamerntally, is a lack of real respect, and that can only be recovered the hard way. They're so far up their own arses in Brussels having seen off the likes of Kinnock Father by simple bureaucratic obstruction they've forgotten how we cleansed their Nazi brethren in 1945. So, it they see him as ruthless inside his country, then how much more sshould they fear him to be elsewhere?
One domain he could start with is to clean his House, not by some long-winded Enquiry into child abuse, but by simple trial by jury as a matter of priority. Where two or more victims accuse the same politician, let them answer without delay: and if they cannot, then let twelve good men and women conclude, this within a fortnight. Stop the flummery of scientific proof, two or three men's word should suffice against any. Clean that Augean stable of Dunblane too. And then proceed to those who covered up, Police, Magistrates, Councillors. But start at the top, and do so brutally, removing judges who have no taste for a clean-up. This is where Gove is a disaster, of course, because he's a milksop.
At least Cameron has hit the ground running, appointing Hammond as his first move. Brussels is away on Monday, celebrating just how far out of contact with reality they really are: when they return from the Ardennes on Tuesday, it is to be hoped the Foreign Office's initiatives on Monday will have parked so many diplomatic tanks on Commission lawns as to start delivering the message that the UK is seriously narked. We no longer need their goodwill (what goodwill?), so it's time to earn their hatred.
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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 PoliceElections.com. 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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