Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Iraq (& Syria)

I've been reading the arguments about aerial intervention against ISIS in Iraq. I agree with the present proposals, Iraq has asked for help and it should be given where we can, although I have considerable doubt as to what can be achieved from the air. There are times that I suspect that a good old-fashioned Spitfire, using its cannons, could achieve more against a scattered mobile enemy than the latest high-tech bombs.

Syria is a totally different matter; Assad may be a nasty piece of work, but his election as president was at least as legitimate as many others around the world whom we are happy to tolerate. Our intervention against another nasty dictator in Libya has hardly been a roaring success. The fact is that past dictators throughout the Middle and Near East maintained reasonable calm for most ordinary people as long as they kept out of politics, and what has replaced them is largely chaos.

The problems, of course go, back to the time that the British and French carved up the middle east by drawing lines on a map and creating countries which took no account of tribal, ethnic or religious boundaries. It's a bit late now to do anything about it, but I would certainly favour the establishment of a proper Kurdish state if this could be achieved.

My main concern, however, is that the government does not appear to have done much within this country to improve our security from insider attacks. To me, the scandal in Rotherham serves to illustrate how scared our authorities are to do something which might upset the Muslim population, and one fears that they could be looking the other way with regards to security issues just as they did with abuse. Preventing potential jihadists from leaving the country by withdrawing passports hardly seems a solution, and stamping something across their passports like "Not Valid for Entry into UK" would seem a more sensible approach, even if it is against EU law. Forcing these potential jihadists to stay in the country surely increases the risk of terrorist action by these dissidents.

According to the Mail, the government has agreed to buy 20 Tomahawk missiles at a cost of over a million pounds each for use against ISIS. As I noted above, it is hard to see how these would be of much use against a scattered enemy, and seems to illustrate the problems of using high-tech weapons against a low-tech enemy, and I suspect that they will be no more use against ISIS than they would have been against the IRA in Northern Ireland.

My view, for what it is worth, is that the £20,000,000 would have provided better protection for UK residents if it had been spent on the security services and improved border control.

Friday, 19 September 2014

A "No" Vote - So what is next?

Scotland has voted to stay in the Union. In spite of all the polls which tended to suggest a "close run thing", it was "No" by a decent margin which one hopes will put the issue to bed for a generation. Why were the polls so far out? My instinct says that a large number of Scots keep themselves to themselves and probably were recorded as "undecided", or, in certain areas simply said what the pollsters expected to hear for fear of intimidation.

The three party leaders at Westminster offered a load of last minute bribes to Scotland should they stay in the Union, but these have got to be approved by Westminster and many MPs are unhappy that the English were not consulted as it would seem that they will undoubtedly carry any extra costs. And, of course, there remains the so-called "West Lothian" question with Scottish MPs being able to vote on English legislation, whilst English MPs are unable to vote on those same issues in Scotland, as they have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

It is clear that Westminster will now be forced to address this issue and there a number of solutions. Simply saying that Scottish MPs can't vote at Westminster on English issues could give major problems. What happens if country as a whole decided to elect a Labour government, but on English issues there was a Tory majority?

If the referendum has achieved one thing, it is that Westminster will have no option as to produce significant constitutional reforms. It seems doubtful that these will be introduced during the remains of this Parliament and I suspect we will have to wait until the next. Hopefully the parties will come forward with detailed proposals in their manifestos.

The next political event is of course the forthcoming by-elections, particularly at Clacton where the sitting MP changed his allegiance to UKIP and, unusually, called for a by-election, rather than simply hanging onto his seat. Let's hope he gets back with a huge majority as this will at last prove that UKIP is beginning to be a force in UK politics following the election of so many UKIP MEPs

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Scottish Independence

Up to now, I have avoided getting involved in the debate about Scottish Independence. The English part of me suggests it is a good idea, because it is a step nearer English Independence and more likely to produce a right wing government at Westminster. The Traditional part of me (I no longer regard myself as British) feels that it would be a great pity to break up the Union. If I had a say in the matter, I would like to see separate parliaments for the four parts of Britain, each with identical powers, leaving Westminster as a National Government to deal with such matters as Foreign Policy, Defence, etc.

But that is not going to happen and over the recent days I have become steadily more appalled by the behaviour of the "yes" campaigners with the increasing violence and intimidation. As a result, I will now be pleased if the Scots vote "yes" as I feel they are no longer the type of people that I want to be associated with.

So I asked myself, why are the Scots behaving like this? Why do they take everything that Salmond says at face value? The conclusion that I reached was that it was partly because far too many of the well-educated Scots, who would listen to the arguments and might support a "No" vote, have left the country to find work and careers elsewhere. Those that are left are reluctant to speak out after seeing how others have been threatened by what we are assured (but I don't believe) is a tiny number of extremists from the Yes camp.

My son-in-law is Scottish, has a good degree, and working here in England. He is doing well and admits that he would never have got to his present position in Scotland, if indeed such a position exists. His sister, also well qualified, is working in London with a well known law firm. But the interesting thing is the number of cousins they have spread around the world in the so-called Anglosphere, most of whom are university graduates and have left Scotland to find a career elsewhere.

One also notes the large number of individuals of Scottish descent who are in public life in England; quite a few MPs for English constituencies come from Scotland as well as many senior businessmen and company directors. In some ways Scotland is beginning to look like France after the revolution when they slaughtered the Aristos. Scotland is not slaughtering anyone, but large numbers of the well educated are leaving with the result that many of those whom Scotland will need to lead the country have left long ago. There is no logical reason to believe this will change following independence, so is Scotland heading to a future where employment is largely manual work and call-centres?

But I fear this is also happening in England. Far too many poorly educated immigrants are causing the well educated with ambitions to ask whether this is the country in which to pursue their careers. Talking to my friends and acquaintances, I've discovered that we are amongst the small minority who do not have children or grandchildren who have emigrated. As with Scotland, these are people that the country can ill-afford to lose, mostly having a good university education or sought after skills. Just as I'm convinced Scotland will go down hill without these people, so will England if nothing is done.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Just One More Reason for Supporting UKIP

Peter Hitchins writes in the Sunday Mail that
Brussels distributed more than £300 million of taxpayers’ money in Ukraine between 2007 and 2013. It went to all kinds of lucky recipients, so it is no great surprise that Kiev blossomed with EU flags last winter during the violent mob putsch which so many idiots in the West supported.
Why? Why spend our money, largely as bribes, on a corrupt non-EU state? What has this done for the people of Europe other than bringing them nearer to a conflict with Russia? From a Russian point of view, with which one might agree or disagree, the EU has already gobbled up the old east bloc states which were once part of their sphere of influence, and, now in Russian eyes, the EU is seeking to include Ukraine in a pan-Europe Empire largely influenced by Germany with the assistance of France.

Russia was invaded by Germany in the Second World War, and a century earlier by the French led by Napoleon. The EU has, in the past, claimed that it would like to see a single trading zone from the Atlantic to the Urals; unfortunately, as we have seen, they want to dominate far more than trade.

Elsewhere, the news is of a major NATO meeting in Wales. Apparently Ukraine is seeking membership of NATO! What part of Ukraine wants admission to NATO? The whole of the country as it was, say last year, before the recent events? Were this so, we would be admitting a country where part is already in foreign hands, and thus the NATO powers would be obliged to fight to recover it. If it is the de facto Ukraine as it is now, it would be recognising the Russian annexation of part of the country.

World War Two was brought about mainly by Hitler invading Poland and our coming to their defence. These days, I suspect it would be very difficult to get the British people to accept the need to go to war over Poland; what hope would NATO have of convincing this country it should get involved in a war over Ukraine? Let's hope our government, for once, shows a bit of common sense.

To me the only solution is to get out of the EU and regardless of what Cameron says about his "pretend" renegotiations, I still believe that the only way forward is UKIP.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Rotherham Child Abuse Scandal

There is little one can say on the above subject except that it seems all those in the local council and police force who ignored the problem will "get away with it" and indeed will probably be promoted. I expect it is too much to hope that a lawyer will take up the case of some of the victims and seek damages from those officials concerned.

However, reading the reports, I do wish the media would stop referring to the offenders as Asian when what they mean is that they were of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin. During my working years, I have had, and indeed still have, some good friends from other parts of Asia and I am sure that they find this constantly recurring description grossly offensive. There is no problem about referring to, say, Chinese when there is a problem with people originating from that country, so why this hang up over Pakistanis?

According to Wikipedia, the Pakistan population represents a 4.29 % and the Bangladesh population 3.61% of the population of Asia, about 8% in all. Why offend the 92% of the Asian population who have nothing to do with these events?


Monday, 25 August 2014

The Middle East

I've already made it clear that I do not feel our government is being sufficiently pro-active in trying to produce a plan to safeguard this country from the events in the Middle East. Indeed, from reports in the media it is difficult not to reach the conclusion that our government hasn't got the slightest idea what to do about the Middle East and is merely acting in response to events  rather than trying to anticipate them.
I would have hoped that the government, by now, would have got together all the various experts from the Civil Service, the Military, the security services, etc, and tried to come up with a detailed analysis of the situation and the possible scenarios that might result. That should include, not only what action, if any, to take in the Middle East, but also, in my view more importantly, an analysis of the threat to this country from extremists resident here and any returning from abroad.

Our record on dealing with terrorists hardly gives much confidence; as Theresa May writes in the Telegraph, "69 people have been arrested for offences relating to terrorism in Syria; so far, 12 have been charged and four have been successfully prosecuted". Hardly an inspiring record!
So far, a mere 23 people have had their passports withdrawn because it was suspected they might be heading for Syria; as Breitbart points out, this hardly compares favourably with the 1400 football supporters/hooligans  who had their passports withdrawn to stop them travelling to Brazil.  Clearly our police know more about football than terrorism!

As I said previously, I favour an isolationist policy and take the view that we should do absolutely nothing in the Middle East unless it can be shown that our inaction would have a direct effect on our security in this country. Our interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya can hardly be called a roaring success.

We should be concentrating all our effort in dealing with the situation at home, identifying and weeding out potential terrorists. Those responsible for radicalisation need to be identified and prosecuted. If we don't have the laws to deal with the situation, Parliament should set about enacting some suitable legislation, ideally as a cross-party endeavour.
So far all we seem to have is lots of knee-jerk proposals from various politicians, followed by others telling us we couldn't possibly do that because it would infringe someone's rights. Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have all come up with ideas in the last week or so, only for some one else to argue that we couldn't possibly do that because it would infringe some law. The most laughable suggestion, apparently from the Home Office, is that there should be some form of ASBO for potential terrorists: "You are banned from being a suicide bomber, if you infringe this ban you will be jailed"!

Last week, Nigel Farage proposed that the Government strip militants with joint nationality of their UK citizenships, and withdraw passports from British citizens who want to travel to the jihad. He also wanted to see those who do not hold UK citizenship but have been granted the right to live here, have that right revoked immediately. I can't see anything wrong with this idea, but apparently it would be contrary to international agreement to make people stateless.
Boris Johnson has suggested that there should be a basic assumption that anyone returning from the war-torn areas has been participating in the conflict unless the individual can prove otherwise. This is, of course, contrary to the basic British law presumption that one is innocent until proved guilty. However, there is a way around this; America has laws by which it can ban people from going to specified countries unless they get prior permission by showing good cause, such as being a news reporter. This doesn't stop anyone from breaking the law and going to these countries, but does enable them to be prosecuted on return.

Then, what's happened to our treason laws? Don't the laws about aiding and abetting or consorting with an enemy still apply to British citizens? Can't British citizens returning from the war zone be charged with treason?

Come on, its time that Parliament and our Government earned their living and came up with a plan to deal with the threat to this country instead of engaging in the usual "Ya-bo" politics which seems to be all that they can manage these days.

Sunday, 24 August 2014


The Telegraph today reports that the British Health Care worker who has caught Ebola in Sierra Leone is being flown back to the UK on an RAF flight.

I have nothing against this, indeed I think it is the right thing to do. But I am somewhat surprised that he is to be taken to the Royal Free Hospital in north London where there are appropriate isolation facilities. It seems rather strange that the major hospital with suitable isolation facilities should be located in such a densely populated area and not in, for want of a better phrase, some more isolated spot.

Professor John Watson, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said: "UK hospitals have a proven record of dealing with imported infectious diseases and this patient will be isolated and will receive the best care possible." Let's hope this is true, in that I'm far from impressed by the way the NHS manages to deal with hospital acquired infections such as MRSA.

That being said, I wish the patient well. I certainly would not have wanted to go out to that part of Africa as a medical worker and I admire the courage of those who do.