Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
Standing on the Yorkshire Wolds looking over the Vale of York, the vista is breathtaking. This green and pleasant land, the evocation of Britain beautifully laid out on a splendid shimmering summer's day. In the distance is York Minster. She dominates the landscape, only eclipsed by the smoky intrusion of Drax Power Station. The eyes seek to ignore that.
Scattered across the landscape, each village gives a nod to York Minster. Each village dominated by a church sitting central to the community on the high ground.
When the terrain floods these hallowed places remain well above the water in a testament to our forefather's ingenuity. Each church is geographically central. That geography tells us something; the influence of the church as a fulcrum for a community. Providing guidance, values and a safe mooring for timid souls. For many hundreds of years the Church, in its various forms, was the foundation of community.
It’s inevitable with the 18th-century arrival of the Enlightenment that the standing and influence of religion would wane. That process has gone on since. It continues today and is gathering pace. Those beautiful church’s sit silently these days, their bells only ring for the occasional wedding or festival.
The erosion of religious influence is not something that raises my objection. Organised religion has outlived its usefulness and forfeited any moral authority. It goes without saying that the pleasant pastoral scene of rural life, masked many injustices. Thus, I do not seek a return to that era with its strict adherence to class structures and genuflecting to the landed gentry.
Even the Church of England, with Christianity-lite, has damaged its brand. Cover-ups and awful abuse stain the record. The shocking levels of child rape perpetrated by the Catholic Church expose the corruption at its core. Add to that the denigration of women, then the exclusion of gays and others. The Church in so many ways acts to hold back people. 'The opium of the masses’ to paraphrase Karl Marx, at least he was right about that.
The dual assault of philosophical argument - ‘God is dead’ - allied to disgust at religions excesses was bound to kick in the door. Thus control is waning. Yet you cannot escape the fact that the falling of these institutions has consequences. The Church did anchor society, providing a safe mooring for many people. Now that mooring is gone, some of these people are cast adrift.
Some folks double-down on their religious belief in an attempt to hold back the tide of change. A few seek new forms of guidance or life-models upon which to build their personal narrative. They embrace spiritualism along with Eastern practices that border on religion. These range from the practical such as meditation to the quirky crystals obsession.
In some ways, the strident advocates of human rights adopt a religious zeal. Likewise, Marxism has all the underpinnings of a sect. The sacred text, the constant infighting to prove who is the true believer allied to endless re-interpretation. Each sub-group is striving to outdo the other with strident belief in a revealed truth.
Meanwhile, the mainstream political system is not open to critical ideas. These days the body-politic offers no real choices. Politicians run scared of market forces in an interconnected world. If they don’t do the bidding of multinationals, punishment awaits with the withdrawal of their investment.
Some of the changes in Britain were accelerated by agenda driven forces. Students of history will find glimpses of Tony Blair’s semi-covert initiative to dilute the social fabric of the UK. His weapon of choice with mass immigration. His commanding general was Barbara Roche, the Minister for Asylum and Immigration. She stated that immigration control is racist, then set about dismantling them. By the time this was spotted the damage was done.
That the multicultural experiment failed is clear. It created ghettoes on land and in the mind. That many won’t acknowledge this is typical of the zealots. They rarely surrender with ease as their defence of the indefensible grows shriller until it finally all crashes down. Don't forget the ardent communists were willfully blind to the evils of the Soviet Union. Even as the Berlin Wall fell, they lingered too long seeking to justify themselves. Then they sat discredited and forlorn.
Likewise ignoring genuine grievances in the UK has allowed the emergence of radicals at both ends of the spectrum. Meanwhile, the liberal elite appears motivated by a sense of collective guilt over the colonial era. We, the new generation, must atone for the past although having played no part. This blackmail from history gets visited most on the working-class communities that shoulder the burden of the failing multicultural project.
The influx of alien cultures is acutely felt in the depressed working towns most in the north. The poor white working-class girls of Rotherham and Huddersfield have suffered the consequences. Of course, the mainstream media continues to ignore this truth. It flagellates itself with linguistic gymnastics as it seeks to avoid giving group names to the victims and culprits. In this regard, they're aided by shameless politicians such as Diana Abbott. Any identification of a group will be met with her rebuke because sustaining the lie is crucial.
But consider this. British Pakistanis make up 4 % of the population. When you cut the ladies that drops to 2%. Yet this 2% is responsible for about 74% of class-one sexual assaults on underage girls. That shocking statistics is a sign of a cultural issue. Hiding this fact serves no purpose other than to forestall resolution of the problem.
One shouldn’t be too surprised that this state of affairs festers. Look at that former bastion of the nation's values - the BBC. Once a cornerstone of national life its influence was immense. Then, in recent years, it housed the nations most prolific sex offender. Moreover, it provided him with a platform for his activities while ignoring his crimes. Those that spoke out faced sanction and career ruin.
It’s possible that the cultural dissonance will never be resolved. Too many internal and external forces are at play. Thus no single unifying voice can emerge as Britain lacks a leader of strength prepared to tackle these issues.
So where is the middle ground? From whence does value judgement arise in a postmodern, post-truth world? How do the ordinary people reassert their decency so that the authorities don’t kowtow at a false altar to allow unspeakable crimes? If facts are opinions, as the postmodernists assert, then we can guarantee nothing. Nothing is right, and nothing is wrong.
That a supposedly educated young lady thinks it okay to desecrate the memory of young men who fought in a world war, then what hope is there? That the police turn a blind eye to rape. That politicians play games to bury these truths. From who do we take the lead?
It’s pretty hard to navigate a path through this morass. And yet in our very core, we know right and wrong. Common decency, honesty and a willingness to speak the truth provide a firm moral mooring. The plain-speaking Yorkshire folk that dwell in the Vale of York fit that bill. That’s not a caricature we should laugh at or dismiss. Perhaps then we can change the direction of travel.
Great news. My dream of winning medals in cycling events is finally looking possible. Even at the age of 59, with a dodgy knee and a bad back, that goal is in sight. Plus, and this is the super part, I won’t need to train much harder. The medals are within my grasp. All I need to do is declare I’m a woman.
Don’t laugh. Last week at the 2018 Track Cycling World Championship Rachel McKinnon won a gold medal in the women’s 35-to-39 year group. As Rachel stepped up to receive the medal a few in the audience questioned the win. Why? Well, the thing about cycling gear is it’s revealing, and our Rachel appears to be a bloke. Check out the pictures.
Rachel affirms as a woman, although the evidence points in an opposite direction. Humour aside, this raises serious questions about the integrity of sporting competitions. Let’s be honest here, men have physical advantages of strength and stamina over female athletes. It’s a fact. Evolutions at fault and all the labelling the SJWs care to use won’t change millions of years of Darwinism at work. You can’t pin this one on the male patriarchy, although I’m sure they'll have a good go.
McKinnon’s win is causing a fierce debate about fair play and ethics. For example, was McKinnon’s participation fair to the other women in the race? Does McKinnon’s birth gender give an unfair advantage? It’s essential that we have a conversation about these issues if sport is to remain credible. Yet, this is a complicated and emotionally charged topic. Even talking about it brings accusations.
There are no agreed universal rules on transgender participation is sport. Each governing body formulates policies best suited to their competition. Fair enough. Measuring testosterone levels is the current approach.
The International Olympic Committee has the following rules:
There’s also the history of skeletal development to consider, the circulatory system and the distribution of fat around the body. In cycling men benefit from a different pelvis structure. This allows them to generate much more force on the pedals.
Thus, Rachel laid the foundations of the win as a man, then declares as a woman to win. Is that fair? Meanwhile, the IOC rules tacitly acknowledge that men are stronger than women. Note there are no restrictions on female athletes transitioning to male.
Track racer Sarah Fader believes the IOC rules create an unfair situation for cis women. Cisgender refers to individuals whose gender identity matches their birth gender. Learn the language folks. In Canada you go to court for getting this wrong.
Fader pulled out of the race against McKinnon asserting it’s not fair. By the way, McKinnon stands six feet tall and weighs 200 pounds. Fader, by contrast, is 5-foot-5 and weighs 135 pounds. Track cycling is all about power output and momentum. It favours a 200-pound person with loads of lean muscle.
“This is my own form of protest,” Fader said. “I knew that I personally did not agree with the situation. I don’t want to compete in a sport where the rules are unfair.”
Other riders shared the same opinion in private. They felt unable to comment in a public manner fearful of attacks from the trans community. Fader said “There’s a lot of sensitivity here. I’ve spoken with women who are afraid to give their opinion because they think they will be deemed to be discriminating.”
McKinnon has responded to past criticism that he is a man robbing women by cheating as akin to the actions of those who were excluding black folks from sport in the past. You see if you object to McKinnon riding against female athletes you are not only transphobic but also racist. That's how the debate goes.
What is the end point of this debacle? Fairly ordinary male athletes identifying as women could sweep up the medals at the Olympics. How is that right?
Anyway, Wilma De Havilland is about to emerge on the cycling scene. Oh, the glory!!
This weekend an estimated 700,000 people marched through London demanding a second referendum on Brexit. This massive demonstration is the likes of which not seen since the anti-war protests in 2003. Tony Blair ignored that protest leading to the Iraq debacle. We’re still dealing with the fall-out.
Let me say from the outset, I never favoured Brexit. Had I voted, which I didn’t, it would be to remain in the European Union. Yet, that comes with a substantial caveat. That the UK needs to reassert control over its borders and grapple back the power of legal issues.
As a nation we never signed up for the levels of control of the EU is now exercising over the United Kingdom. The initial deal was about trade. What's evolved since is much broader, leading to the de-facto erosion of British sovereignty.
Having said that, I do not agree that the country should have another referendum. We have a democratic process in the UK that elects members of parliament to represent us. That process gives them the legitimacy to govern and negotiate on our behalf. Every four or five years we vote to affirm the legitimacy to rule. That the politicians are paralysed doesn’t mean they should throw the decision back to the people. The politicians need to deliver or step aside.
A vote took place in 2016. That referendum had the majority, albeit by a small margin, opting to exit the EU. That Theresa May and the conservative party are unable to negotiate a deal does not mean another referendum. Instead, it is clear that because of these failures there is a need for a general election.
Why do I say this? For the reason that the impasse is primarily down to ideological disputes within the Tory party. Besides, the likes of Boris Johnson have acted with pure self-interest to forestall a deal. Plus, it was not a good idea to have a prime minister negotiating on our behalf who herself wished to remain in the EU. She’s hardly an honest broker.
Further, Mrs May no longer has a mandate. The reality is her party is against her, while she only remains in power because of fear. The fear that Corbyn could win a general election. Although, I’m not so sure about that.
Corbyn’s position on Brexit is a mystery. A general election would flush out the inconsistencies within Labour’s agenda. In any general election, the first item up for debate would be how to proceed with Brexit. Both Labour and Tories would need to enunciate a clear agenda. Then the public can decide.
The current position is that Mrs May is seeking to extend the transition for the EU exit. This is nothing more than kicking the can down the road. Let's face some hard truths. Despite claims to the contrary, the EU is holding most of the cards in this game.
Moreover, they're united. Mrs May cannot even unite the Conservative Party never mind the country. In fairness, she has shown great tenacity to hang on this long. The lady has given her best. But the game is up, and she needs to go.
Something is bubbling below the surface in England. It may yet break through with terrible consequences. A faltering Brexit could be the trigger for events that spin out of control. Meanwhile, the mainstream media ignores or vilifies the man who is emblematic of the unfolding crisis. Love him, hate him or be indifferent … you ignore Tommy Robinson at your peril. (Yes, I know his real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon)
In some quarters the very mention of Tommy Robinson’s name evokes an adverse reaction. He's hated by the left. Yet the lefts traditional supporters, the white working-class, embrace him. Robinson is symbolic, he’s a reaction from a community that’s abandoned. Dismissed as racist, far-right and a criminal, Robinson is overturning traditional politics.
He's running a grassroots campaign of epic proportions without a support organisation. To be clear, yes, he has convictions and is currently on bail. That’s another story I’ll address here. But his label as far-right is more about the linguistics of the left, than anything he represents.
Robinson rose to attention as the leader of the English Defense League. That group formed in response to Muslims spitting on and haranguing British soldiers. In 2013 he abandoned this group citing its infiltration by far-right elements. Since then he’s consolidated his position in a campaign against the Muslim rape gangs. These gangs operate under the noses of UK authorities. In some instances, social services facilitated the crimes, while the police did nothing. Robinson has harnessed that issue to a broader anti-Islam/ freedom of speech agenda. Although the mainstream media won’t acknowledge it, he’s an influential figure.
As it is, one need not agree with Robinson to find a reason to study his rise. In fact, anybody concerned about the cohesion of society should consider his impact. After all, he took one small demonstration in Luton then morphed it into an international anti-Islam movement. This is the most surprising development. He’s gone from a local activist to a transatlantic anti-Islam ideologue.
Robinson now garners attention across the globe. He’s adopted by conservative groups in the USA and Europe. His rise is more surprising when you consider his background. A genuine working-class lad from Luton, he’s not the most educated of men but eloquent and forceful. Watch his address to the Oxford Students Union. I suspect he’s on a trajectory that will take him into mainstream politics. Although he’d deny that.
Economic vulnerability, social-breakdown and political neglect are themes that allowed Robinson to emerge. His recent peremptory imprisonment conferred upon him martyr status with his followers. It feeds into their dispossessed narrative. Robinson's action was stupid. He filmed outside the court hearing a case against alleged rapists, then challenged the accused as they entered. An injunction banned such activity. He's arrested, then immediately sent to prison. That was a tactical blunder by the authorities. With that move, they affirmed his totemic status.
The appellate court later released Robinson noting “a fundamentally flawed process.” That flawed process was evident to everyone. Had it involved a person from the left no doubt Amnesty International would be marching. They, of course, remained silent. Their justice doesn’t extend to white lads from Luton. He remains on bail pending a retrial.
The rise of Robinson is the fault of all the political parties. Each, in turn, decried the white working-class. Seen as oafs and racists whenever they voiced views on multiculturalism, their despised. Remember Gordon Brown’s gaffe.
It's clear that Labour abandoned the working class under Blair. This opened a fertile ground for Robinson to grow. Then the authorities handed Robinson the ideal cutlass with which to cut them. That the police and others ignored, and even facilitated the mass rape of white girls, gave Robinson his calling.
This transformed him into a genuinely global figure. He now enjoys support from leading anti-Muslim politicians in Europe. The US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, expressed support for Robinson. Likewise, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon and Republican Congressman.
Also, more than 630,000 people signed an online petition to free Robinson. His reach is now acknowledged in France, Spain, Holland, Italy, Poland, and Russian.
While asserting he is not seeking political office, that may change. Currently, he is an apolitical figure insofar as he focuses on social and cultural issues. His main themes are the Islamization of Britain, child sex grooming gangs and the dangers of political correctness.
He does not concern himself with elections or the need to cultivate any kind of party discipline. His supporters operate on the streets. A recent demonstration for the 'FreeTommy campaign' had thousands on the streets on London. The mainstream media ignored the event, although YouTube clips give an insight. This sort of street activism is a dangerous development. It’s a sign that people have given up on the democratic political process. This will lead to public disorder and even acts of terrorism. That’s the most dangerous development.
As a side issue watch this clip. The police misjudge the mood of the protesters and stage an intervention. They then retreat. This sort of thing could escalate into serious rioting. I must say the police appear ill-prepared.
To my mind, working-class Britons lost their influence as the Cold-war era ended. Before that, the establishment needed to keep the working class sweet to avoid them drifting to communism. That need died as the Berlin Wall came down. The Tony Blair years accelerated the shift in power. He abandoned Labour’s homeland to govern through a London-based elite. Working class voices were no longer heard.
A recent incident in a motorway service station confirmed Robinsons’ status as a working-class icon. It also shone a light on how the establishment fears him. Robinson bumped into a group of young soldiers, who mobbed him and took selfies. These selfies went out over social media. That's what young people do. Then the Muslim Council of Britain got involved. It expressed outrage. The British Army immediately capitulated to their demands for an investigation. It’s reported one soldier's career is over, while the others face reprimands.
Many feel the British Army’s reaction is disproportionate. Let's not forget that members of the Muslim Council of Britain called for the death of British soldiers. Thus to me, the treatment of these young soldiers confirms the establishment is running scared of Robinson.
This may seem an arbitrary point to make, but those soldiers come from white working-class backgrounds. But there is more to the story if you have eyes to see it. A quick scan of their cap badges will tell you these young men are in northern infantry regiments. In most cases, the infantry are the most impoverished boys. These kids get recruited in a targeted way from communities battered by decades of unemployment.
They're in the army because few other opportunities come their way. To them, Robinson is the authentic voice of their community. All this bolsters the oft-repeated claim by Robinson “we are not being listened to." It affirms that governing politics is a small clique of distant elites out of touch with the masses.
Robinson has a massive social media following. One video on his YouTube channel has 2.4 million views. 'Tommy Robinson confronts another accused Muslim grooming gang,' reached an audience of 1.9 million. His transatlantic social media following has been influential. This has translated into funding.
In the end, Robinson is not to blame for the rising xenophobia in England. He’s a reaction to an establishment that dismissed a group of people as irrelevant. Those people are now reasserting themselves. The more politicians and the media seek to demonise Robinson, the more likely his ideas will stick. The disgruntled white working-class need a voice and Robinson is providing it. The legitimate concerns he raises need addressing, or the outcome is mayhem. No longer can you dismiss him as the ‘enemy within.’ That won't pass muster.
Finally, listen to this young lady. A former radical feminist who suffered a sexual assault from a gang of Asian men and the police did nothing. Appears the cops are still willing to allow abuse of women by Asian men. That’s more material for Tommy.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
This week a UK court convicted Karen White to life in prison for raping two women and sexual assaults. These crimes took place inside a women’s prison, and the victims were other inmates. Further, White has previous convictions for rape and sexual assaults on children. Hang on, can you spot the problem with this?
A clue perhaps from the prosecutors in court “The defendant would stand very close to [the victim], touch her arm and wink at her. Her penis was erect and sticking out of the top of her trousers.” Note, the words used ..."Her penis".
Here’s the thing, White claimed to be transgender, thus under the Home Office rules entered a female prison. Prosecutors said there was evidence to suggest White’s “approach to transitioning has been less than committed”. Really! What a surprise.
Of course, White is a man, who gamed the system to access vulnerable victims. The UK authorities facilitated these attacks as it kowtowed to an activist agenda. This insists that if someone declares themselves a female, then treat them as a female. It follows on from the whole pronoun shenanigans. Moreover, if you dare to speak against this nonsense, you are immediately transphobic.
Moreover, the radicals have harnessed the muscle of the British police to shut down and prosecute dissenters. The cops appear happy to comply because it’s easier than chasing real crime. But that’s another story.
Karen White claimed to be undergoing gender reassignment. But had not had sex reassignment surgery, meaning Karen White had all the gear of a male. By the way, studies suggest 72% of folks claiming to be transgender don’t undergo surgery to change their birth sex organs. That’s their choice. But don’t expect to be treated as a woman in such circumstances.
This is not a bizarre nor isolated incident. Instead, its part of a trend in the UK. It's brought about by blind adherence to dogma rather than applying common sense. In another case, a 12-year-old girl reported a fellow pupil in the girls changing room “played with a penis.” Confused parents then approached the school to find the pupil mentioned had declared as a girl.
As per policy, this person had access to the female changing rooms. When the parents raised objections, they're admonished. The school felt the parents lacked an understanding of a child's transgender status.
The fact that girls had to witness this person playing with themselves appeared irrelevant to the school. That’s the extent of the unfolding madness. Meanwhile, other parents discovered their teenage daughters accommodated with boys on school trips. These girls asserted themselves as male. The parents were kept in the dark about their daughter's choices.
Should we express surprise? After all the authorities ignored for decades the rape and exploitation of thousands of girls. All to avoid upsetting the Muslim community.
Meanwhile, kids are diagnosing themselves with “gender dysphoria”. They read articles online and watch videos on YouTube to guide themselves. Then well-meaning teachers acting under misguided policies, are going along with this. Parents are not included because the child's privacy takes precedence. Some kids outgrow these beliefs before it goes too far with surgery and such. Others jump in and then regret the whole thing.
We know that transgenders have a terrible time. The suicide rate is high. Society needs to treat genuine cases with compassion. Yet, are the interests of transgenders served by policies that cause the broader public to despair? It’s clear that the authorities in the UK don’t have a balanced approach. We know that intelligent, educated people can make costly and sustained mistakes when driven by dogma. Is that what is happening?
I suppose it does no harm to introduce these issues to teenagers. With the caveat of a balanced and rational approach. Yet, the evidence suggests the whole process is indoctrination. You either accept the dogma or face exclusion as a hater. There is no middle ground.
The path through this morass is unclear. Life can be confusing for kids at the best of times. The teenage years are fraught with challenges, ambiguous emotions and attempts to assert an identity. Thus making life-defining decisions at that time is problematic at best. Yet the current thinking is to allow these kids to seek gender reassignment surgery. I’d be in favour of holding off until they are at least 18 years old before going down that road.
There is compelling evidence to suggest that most of these kids, after puberty, come to feel secure and happy in the bodies they were born with. This eradicates the need for acute medical intervention.
Unfortunately, a self-serving clique of unyielding groups drive the agenda. Some of this is extreme tribalism supported by surgical procedures and hormone medication. Currently, transgender groups are vigorously resisting any attempts to study these issues.
Their position is that research is by its nature discrimination. We must resist this lunacy. After all, these are the same people who reject science. If biology conflicts with their distorted views, its the work of the patriarchal. I'm asking a simple question. If we don't investigate are we are in danger of failing children?
At the moment, we are only hearing one side of a nuanced and complex debate. At the same time, the number of children identifying as transgender is increasing year on year. The politicians have abandoned this debate as too hot. Who can blame them? With rabid attack dogs waiting in the wings, its best to keep your mouth shut. Likewise, the gay and feminist community face infighting.
Even Jo Brand, a confident and outspoken lady, is afraid to comment for fear of vilification. Something is seriously wrong. Also, the zealots have sought to shut down Germaine Greer and others. They face ‘no-platforming’ at universities and elsewhere. That a noted feminist is verboten tells how far the loonies will go to control the debate and policy.
Professionals including GPs, educational psychiatrists and social workers won't speak out. Once they express a professional opinion, they're accused of bigotry and damaging the fight for trans rights. This has to stop.
Many of us raised concerns about the gender pronoun issue. We heard that our stance was an over-reaction. Surely, it’s argued, we shouldn’t hurt feelings and accept an individual's choices. Except we now see linguistics having direct consequences on practices and procedures. Those consequences saw the English legal authorities put Karen White, a multiple rapist and paedophile, in a sealed building full of vulnerable women. That can’t be right.
Once again nonsensical ideology runs smack-bang into objective reality.
Let me say it, loud and clear: well done Carrie! I find myself in a strange place of complimenting our Chief Executive. In her second policy address, she signalled a willingness to tackle long-term issues. In this town that’s progress. Moreover, the policy address contained a few gems.
Let us start with the gems first. The health of the wider community must be a government priority. No self-respecting person can argue that providing free cancer vaccines is a bad idea. We’ve had great success with such public health initiatives in the past. Setting aside the personal cost of cancer, it makes pure economic sense to do this.
Providing vaccines is cheaper in the long-run than hospital care. Especially when you weigh up the loss of earnings and the myriad of related palliative costs. The targeted HPV virus causes 70% of cervical cancers. It’s reckoned that this initiative will save 100 life’s a year. By eliminating this risk, the community realises countless benefits.
Staying with public health, banning e-cigarettes is a welcome respite for non-smokers. I’m sick and tired of dodging clouds of so-called vapour. Vaping produces much more smoke than traditional cigarettes. This crud hangs around in the air at office block entrances and on public walkways. Further, I don’t buy the argument “It’s safer than cigarettes.” People who utter such nonsense have no long-term studies to support their assertions. Moreover, you know what's safe - stop smoking.
Yes, I know, we will now see some revert to the traditional cancer-causing cigarettes. Meanwhile, vaping may get driven underground. As with other such laws, the challenge will be enforcement. On that score the Tobacco Control Office is ineffective. It’s staff need to be pro-active instead of responding to complaints weeks after a report. Smoking remains a blight on large parts of the city, plus I don’t see the police stepping up to the plate on this one. Nonetheless, Carrie dares to do the right thing.
The proposal to harmonise the cross-harbour road tunnel tolls is long overdue. Everybody understands the logic of the argument. Keeping one tunnel cheaper than the rest encourages drivers to go there. This approach creates congestion, air-pollution and underuse of expensive infrastructure. The Western Tunnel, in particular, is well below capacity even at rush hour. Continuing with this situation is illogical.
On the big issue of land supply, the government is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It’s beholden to vested interests which prevent movement without significant costs. No matter whatever you do, someone gets upset or displeased. At best building on the brownfield sites is a piecemeal option. It goes some way to helping relieve the housing shortage. While touching the Country Parks is out of the question. If this place is to keep any semblance of ‘quality of life’ the parks are inviolate. Never forget, Country Parks is our small contribution to combatting global warming.
Also, it's not surprising that many are calling the ‘Land Supply Task Force’ consultation a sham. The result was pre-determined. Having said that, I don’t see that any long-term alternatives. At least Carrie has a bold vision, although rising sea levels may yet swamp it.
On that environmental note, I must applaud the move to ban single-use plastics. We are having a terrible impact on our oceans with discarded plastics. Curtailing this must be a priority. Only legislation can change habits. We’ve had a success story with the plastic bag saga. Let's follow up.
A couple of other matters deserve including MPF offsetting and maternity leave. Both fall into the arena of employers, who will no doubt yell 'no concessions.' The MPF offsetting mechanism is a rip-off of workers - it’s as simple as that. It’s wrong on many levels and pure greed by employers. Neither should public money flow into the pocket of bosses to gain their support for changes. As a conciliatory gesture, our taxes will compensate them for up to 25 years.
None of this changes the fact the MPF scheme is a flawed policy, which needs wholesale reform. Its only beneficiaries are the finance houses, who charge high fees to hold our money. The MPF is a system you work for; it doesn’t work for you. Which is a pretty dreadful way to secure pensions for retirement.
Hong Kong ladies are not having babies. There are myriad reasons for this trend that's repeated across most developed societies. Japan and Singapore are amongst the places seeing the same decline in birth rates. I'd welcome anything reasonable that eases the difficulties of raising kids. Thus, more maternity leave is a start.
Unfortunately, the attitudes of employers remain Victorian. They will need dragging kicking and screaming into the modern world. Their many arguments against maternity leave are facile. I only wish they'd look around the world to see how Hong Kong is lagging. We need to catch up.
Of course, many issues remain unresolved. We still lack a coherent population policy. That appears some way off. Likewise, the government must take a stand against private cars. Our city can’t keep putting vehicles on the road without at least ensuring each has a parking space. Owners must provide proof of a car space before registering. That’s for another day.
The day wouldn’t be complete without the usual tiresome performance from certain legislators, who made a spectacle of themselves. These pathetic antics garnered them a few seconds of media coverage, and contributed nothing of importance.
So, well done Carrie. A pass mark for you. Yet, a word of caution. Given what she’s promised, keep a keen eye to see that she doesn’t break her vows.
Some people create their own storms, then get upset when it rains. The whole of idea of Hong Kong independence is a non-starter and a dead-end game. If you think that Beijing will entertain any discussion of the issue, you are either blind or provocative. That the Hong Kong Independence Party and the Foreign Correspondents Club now face a deluge is no surprise.
You can’t argue that they didn’t see this coming. One issue is bound to raise hackles in China, that is any mention of losing territory. This is understandable in the historical context of China’s treatment at the hands of the imperialists. Never forget that the bedrock of the Communists Party’s legitimacy rests on putting right the suffered humiliations. I’d venture that any political entity running the country would hold the same position. Hence the return of Hong Kong, and the higher goal of reunification with Taiwan.
The inevitable banning of the Hong Kong Independence Party came as no surprise. The party sealed its fate with calls for ‘armed revolution'. Even voices in the pro-democratic camp remained muted in response to the banning. Besides a few token utterances, common sense prevailed. The 'why-and-how' of the prohibition is irrelevant because the concept of independence is a delusion.
Let’s not forget that Hong Kong relies on the Mainland for water, electricity and food. Andy Chan Ho-tin, the leader of the defunct HKIP, appears blissfully unaware of these issues. It is almost impossible to overestimate the nihilistic nature of this young man. He's abandoned reason, facts and the overwhelming weight of history. His ill-conceived action is baffling. One can only assume he’s motivated by deluded self-interest, as he gains his 15-minutes of fame.
Did he seriously expect China to do anything but oppose the idea with all its might? I’ll give Mr Chan his due; he risks the loss of his liberty in a curious combination of reckless, naïve and foolish conduct.
Steve Vines, a Hong Kong-based journalist and past FCC president, is renowned for his anti-China stance. Even he expressed irritation and impatience with Chan for leaving too many questions unanswered.
Moreover, it's all a distraction. Independence is a no go, yet it sucks political oxygen from the broader debate. As an unwelcome hindrance, it snags the discourse on Hong Kong's development. In the process stirring up sentiment.
To those who assert the banning damages ‘one country, two systems’ don’t talk such arrant drivel. Seeking to take away territory from China is unequivocally a ‘one country’ issue. It’s important to reiterate the independence by its very nature seeks to split the country. Anyone who can’t see that should study what’s evolved in Spain in response to the Catalan independence movement.
Please don’t bring up Scotland. The name the United Kingdom tells you that several nations forged an alliance. The union of 1603 may yet be undone, as the nation of Scotland once again stands alone.
The FCC is also in the firing line. They gave the HKIP a platform to speak to the world. In the process, the FCC put up two-fingers to Beijing. Before Alan Chan’s speech on August 14, Beijing made representations to the FCC. They asked that Chan not be given the opportunity to spread his message of independence. Likewise, senior Hong Kong government officials spoke with the FCC.
Citing freedom of speech, the FCC proceeded with the event. Journalist Victor Mallet chaired the controversial talk. He made great play in his opening address about the opposing voices the FCC welcomed to speak at its events. Through this speech, he made his and the FCCs position clear. Beijing has now asserted its position. Mr Mallet's work visa is not to be renewed.
Beijing is clear “Any words and deeds attempting to separate Hong Kong from the rest of China will be punished by law. Any individual or organisation’s move to embolden Hong Kong separatists will meet the firm opposition of the Chinese people.”
While the Hong Kong government hides behind the usual excuse “we don’t comment on individual cases” everyone recognises this is payback. In turn, this move provoked a wave of indignation from journalists and others. The British government is audacious enough to demand that Hong Kong explain the reasons for non-renewal of Mallet’s visa.
Britain forfeited its moral authority on Hong Kong affairs when it removed the right of abode from millions of folks. In any case, does the UK explain its actions? Why the 2013 arbitrary detention of journalist David Miranda? He's held at Heathrow for nine hours, under the fig leaf of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
This year the Brits arrested journalist-activist Tommy Robinson. His crime was reporting on the trial of rape gangs in the north of England. The courts had suppressed reporting. He’s then held in solitary confinement for months until a judge orders his release. One feels pierced by this stark hypocrisy from the British government.
Perhaps Hong Kong should make demands. How about an explanation for the terrible treatment of the Windrush generation? Likewise, the nightmare that is Heathrow arrivals for Hong Kong folks travelling on a BNO. It works both ways.
I digress. No one who follows the statements of Beijing can express any surprise at these events. The consequences that have befallen the HKIP and the FCC are to be expected. As a matter of principle, I object to no platforming, but even this has limits. Calling for ‘armed revolution’ is one of those limits.
Anyway, unlike other jurisdictions, Hong Kong acted to nip this nonsense in the bud. No doubt we will hear the usual noises in the weeks ahead. Long Hair will march, the US and Britain will express ‘deep concerns’.
Meanwhile, Britain is busy tearing itself apart over Brexit, while the rest of the world is more focused on the Trump show. In a curious and unintended way, this whole episode will hasten the introduction of Article 23. I’ll watch that with interest.
For Christ's sake Prince Andrew, give it a rest, will you? It’s 2018, we've had enough of you flaunting the House of York as a rival to the Windsors - formerly Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
According to media reports, the Duke of York is upset with the BBC. Well, aren’t we all. He’s attacking the Beeb for not interrupting normal viewing to give us Princess Eugenie’s wedding to an alcohol salesman. It’s laughable. Of course, Andrew doesn’t come out to say this himself. As in all things Royal, messages emerge from the orifice of some supine flunky.
The wedding will take place at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, on 12 October 2018. Princess Eugenie as ninth in line to the throne is on a long list of spares. A line headed by Uncle Charlie, a man on history's most extended apprenticeship.
Let’s be honest here. The House of Windsor is on shaky ground, especially when Charles takes the tiller in the years ahead. The unshakable hand of the Queen has steered a steady course. I have my doubts about Charlie at the helm. Thus, these thinly disguised attempts to burnish another power centre don’t help.
Has Andrew no self-respect or sense of reality? Neither of his absurd hat-wearing daughters is worthy of anything other than ridicule. Neither has done anything of note. Sorry, not true. They provide excellent material for satire and comedy. No doubt supporters will trot out the usual tripe about charity work and ‘role-models’.
I’m told that Princess Beatrice wrote a book about bullying. Fair enough. She shared her terrible abuse experiences. I’m sure that resonated with the kids. You know those kids who've had their head shoved down toilets or taken a beating at the school gates. Trudging home in the rain, these damaged souls no doubt took solace in Beatrice’s hat pain.
At least, this self-flagellation that his ducal house does not enjoy support, demonstrates self-awareness.
For me, edited highlights of the wedding on YouTube, lasting about 20 seconds, would be too much. Except of course if Eugenie’s mother turns-up pissed, engages in a bit of toe sucking and then collapses in a heap. I’d watch that.
Also, there are questions of qualification here. In the modern world, we've moved beyond default genuflecting to royals. These days claiming privilege at least needs a token effort. Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry do their thing. Harry plays the mental health card. That's a solid winner for him. There is a solid seam of material to mine in his dysfunctional family. Granddad taking the child shooting on the day Mummy died. Then getting the traumatised boy to follow his mother's coffin through London wasn't such a great idea, was it?
Can I ask what Eugenie has done? Oh yes, paraded around like a twat in a hat that didn’t so much fit as arrive with a splat! (Sorry Doctor Seuss). I may give these kids some discount for circumstances beyond there control. Mummy was hardly the role model of decorum, while Daddy’s friends are an interesting bunch; a convicted paedophile, a gun-runner and a money-launderer. That covers most of the bases.
You can see that the empty sails of the Duke of York get fluffed by a passing breeze of resentment. None of this matters very much until you notice it's part of a relentless exercise to garner attention. He’d do well to remember the words of Shakespeare in Henry 8 Part 3 ... "For goodness sake, consider what you do, How you may hurt yourself—ay, utterly."
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.