Friday, 19 December 2014

Power To The People

As this blog is near to being six years old and with an election coming up in May 2015, perhaps some retrospective looks at past items might be of interest.

This one comes from May 2009 under the title of Cameron And Power To The People.  The picture of John Lennon, above left was used then, but added, right,  is one of the character Wolfie in the TV Series "Citizen Smith" that ran from 1977 to 1980 that was very popular.


In 1980 David Cameron was a callow teenager hanging around with the guys at Eton, softly singing to himself “The Winner Takes It All”, the Abba hit of the year.  Doubtless, as teenagers fixated on celebrities are, he would have been affected by the tragic death of John Lennon.

John, a lower middle class and grammar school boy grew up in a nice home on Menlove Avenue in Liverpool, a large comfortable semi-detached property.  At least it was in comparison with the accommodation available to the great majority of working class people at the time.

Its inhabitants were said to be a snobby lot who had special toilet paper and not the ripped up Daily Mirrors and Sunday Pictorials we used. Life in Menlove Avenue was both warmer and better equipped than at Eton I suspect.  Inevitably, marketing considerations required The Beatles to create the myth of worker solidarity to help them become very rich and buy properties in tax havens.

John famously said that “I might have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg”, referring to his life changing experiences in the Red Light district of that town, where so many British Soldiers had surrendered to one or other Reeperbahn Rash in the years after the war.

Hamburg originally had surrendered to a water truck driven by a Lance Corporal in 1945, but the next day repeated it to a coterie of more camera friendly troops with tanks and stuff.  But Hamburg had its revenge, because in the next decade or so the ladies of the Reeperbahn inflicted an over ninety percent casualty rate on the British troops. This information probably is still classified, so you read it here first.

When both David and John were born, a generation apart, there was still a structure and form of government system in the United Kingdom which could be understood by the general population, and a legal system that had relative clarity and purpose.  There was also coverage in national and the then extensive local press.

It began to go bad in the early 1970’s with the badly botched Heath reforms of local government and the health service.  The disruption to management and the finance of services played a part in the severe inflation of the period and inevitably led to the decades of tinkering, shuffling, and fiddle.

The commitment to the EU added to the mess, as did the creation of a raft of extra government bodies, and the never ending reorganisation of central government departments in the search for media coverage and to keep John Prescott out of mischief.

Mrs. Thatcher made an attempt to prune the Quango’s, but like vines and roses only to create the extensive growth of the last fifteen years.  We all know what Blair and Brown have done.  So we have a huge mess.

After sixty years of interest and study on government and politics, I now have no working knowledge of either the law or just who administers what to what effect, or why.

The documents I read are verbal sludge, and the intellectual structures on which law is based and decisions are made are roughly at the level of the playground of the old All Age Elementary Schools.

So David, my advice is, if I were you I wouldn’t start from here.  The trouble is that if you do wish to give power to the people, they must have information, a media that is balanced, and an immediacy of access.  This is not the way the media works at present and restoring local control will be harder to achieve than you imagine.

The organisational challenge is immense, and you are not going to have either spare cash, or real growth to provide it.  Worse still, you might have a rate of inflation that has to be firmly controlled to avoid a 1970’s problem or greater.  As for the public relations, as things get difficult it may be nasty.

The pop and celebrity culture might suddenly see a market in pretending to be just very ordinary, especially if the tax man catches up with some of them and the screens will be filled with middle and lower middle class media poseurs waving their arms about demanding the return of Harriet, Jacqui, Hazel, Yvette and Caroline.

The men will not be available.  They will all be in Brussels, or Moscow, or with any luck in Walton Gaol.


Brussels it was and for Cameron read Wolfie.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Fire Next Time

Just what money is floating around is a good question at this time of year when many people are spending money they do not have to pretend to a lifestyle that is beyond their means.

But the problem may be bigger according to this article in Zero Hedge claiming that around a couple of hundred trillion, yes trillion, dollars are knocking around the system in terms of outstanding debts of one sort or another.

The information comes from Phoenix Capital and there is a free link claiming to offer a way of avoiding it all.  Perhaps more in hope than anything.

The Phoenix is a creature in Greek Mythology who dies by fire and is then reborn out of the ashes.  There are a number of variations of the myth.  One aspect is that the time between demise and rebirth can be quite long.

So do not bet on it.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Dictum Meum Pactum

Will the Tsarist Bonds, repudiated in 1918 by the Bolshevik Soviet Government, now turn out to be a better investment than the bonds and securities issued by the present Russian government?

Anything could happen and probably will.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Paras Return To Iraq

Around sixty years ago, at the ungodly hour of 5.00 a.m. I was requested to get out of my stinking pit to go the Parade Ground as a matter of urgency, along with my colleagues.

We attempted to persuade the Sergeant to have a meaningful discussion about this change to our normal arrangements and to take account of our need to be treated as individuals each with his own human rights.

We were not successful, it seemed that the Duty Officer had been roused from his slumbers by an irate Commanding Officer of the battalion next door to us and our Adjutant wanted to have a not so quiet word.

A public house had been damaged in a dispute over differences of opinion between some of us and some of them.  The local police were not happy and asked them what they were up to as the most likely candidates.

However, as some of us were involved they were making the case that we had started by our insults and offensiveness.  Although I had left and signed in at the gate shortly before it all became physical there were suggestions that the origin lay in my views on logistics.

Briefly, I had advised some of them that contrary to their belief that they were superior soldiers they were actually pretty useless.  We were able to make our way about under our own steam, knew where we were going and could read a map.

They, on the other hand, had to be put into lorries with their kit, taken to an airfield and then thrown out in the air at the destination to ensure their safe arrival.  They could not be relied on to do it on foot or driving a vehicle.

They were the 2nd Battalion of The Parachute Regiment, chaps of a sensitive disposition and easily offended.  Since then I have always had an interest in what they were up to.  They seem to have a talent for being there in hot spots.

Now they are off again, back to Iraq, to do what soldiers have to do, although it is not exactly clear what that is to be, for what purpose and why we are putting men in numbers back in places that we should be avoiding, notably if cuts in Defence spending are intended never mind limiting our commitments to what we can do and can afford.

This news I picked up from the Army Rumour Service, one of the more reliable sources of information about government policy and the direction of action and intention.  Some of the more perceptive comments are as follows:

Fred Frog asks "What can possibly go wrong?"

Postman Twit commented "I thought we'd moved beyond the 'send in the Paras' default setting???"

MotorBoat says" Good old mission creep, how come this does not have to be voted on in Parliament?  I thought Dave said no boots on the ground?"

CAARPS says "All the 'experts' that keep telling us that the British Army will be barracks bound for the next 3 decades are remarkably quiet."

With David Cameron in his quest for votes becoming more like Tony Blair than Tony Blair perhaps it was only to be expected.

It can only get worse.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Whiskey Or Whisky In the Jar

You may or may not have noticed that it will be Christmas soon.  It explains a lot of the marketing going on.

One that appeared  in my inbox was from the Laphroaig Distillery on Islay, an ancestral acre, and its products are effective decontaminants.

At least the clip it is different and lasts less than two minutes.

But the contents will not make it into "Carols From Kings".

On the other hand if you like an "e" in the glass, The Dubliner's have their own song to sing at three minutes.


Saturday, 13 December 2014

Now Try The Torturers

The squalid, inhuman and vile business of the CIA torture activity was one I preferred to stay away from because anyone who touches it is in effect defiled.

What astonished  me was not simply the degradation of the whole but the incredible incompetence and stupidity of those who were allegedly attempting to extract reliable information.

My reason for this was that what was being done to men could only have the effect, literally, of scrambling their brains.  Such methods could never succeed and only yield material which in effect was useless as real intelligence.

But this item in Zero Hedge by "George Washington" has brought me up short.  If it is correct then what was being done was never intended to be for intelligence that was active and credible.

It was something else entirely and which did rely on destroying the mind and thinking power of those who were tortured.  This does not make it any better, if anything it makes it even worse.

Given that both our present and previous governments are parties to this, if only as knowing spectators then can anyone of the electorate with any sort of human sensibility vote for people like this?

Friday, 12 December 2014

Prizes For Pirates

Lost in the surfeit of stories in the last few days was a choice item about the European Court of Human Rights awarding damages to Somali pirates who attacked French vessels.

In case you think this is an invention by deranged Kippers and other Eurosceptics it is not.

Quote from France 24:

The EU's top human rights court on Thursday ordered France to pay thousands of euros to Somali pirates who attacked French ships for "violating their rights" by holding them an additional 48 hours before taking them before a judge.

The Somali pirate were apprehended on the high seas by the French army on two separate occasions in 2008 and taken back to France for trial.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said that French authorities should have brought the pirates before a judge "without delay" when they arrived on French territory after being held at sea.

The EU’s top human rights court said French authorities were wrong to keep the pirates in custody for an additional 48 hours before bringing them before a judge.

"Nothing justifies such an additional delay," the court said in its verdict, adding that it constituted a "violation of their rights to freedom and security".

France was ordered to pay between €5,000 and €2,000 ($6,100 and $2,500) to each pirate for "moral damages", plus amounts varying from €3,000 to €9,000 ($3,700 and $11,200) to cover legal costs.

In the ruling, published in French, the court nevertheless acknowledged that there were "completely exceptional circumstances" to justify a lengthy detention before seeing a judge, noting that the original arrests took place "more than 6,000 kilometres (4,000 miles) from French territory".

Pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia have declined sharply in recent years, with international fleets now patrolling the Gulf of Aden – previously a hotbed of maritime piracy – and the Indian Ocean, as well as armed guards now being posted aboard many at-risk vessels.

At their peak in January 2011 Somali pirates held 736 hostages, some onshore and others aboard their vessels, as well as 32 seized boats.
The court also noted that the Somali authorities remain "incapable of fighting" the pirates without international help.


One wonders what will happen next.  Will the ECHR order the British Government to pay compensation to all the descendants of those who hanged at Execution Dock?

Given what the Somali pirates were given for a minor delay, the Chancellor of the Exchequer may find a big rise in the deficit.

Teams of lawyers should be trawling the case studies of all those done under the Game Laws of the past looking for potential claims as well.  If they are successful, I will be one of the big winners.

As for all the distant cousins whose forebears were transported to Australia and America what might be their claim?

They are suffering cruel and unusual punishment?