Reflections on recent events, plus the occasional fact
free rant unfiltered by rational argument.
Praise the Lord that our former Chief Executive is well and released from prison. Well, I say prison. What I mean is the hospital. He walked out of the custodial ward of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, having made a miraculous recovery. Serving a 12-month sentence for his crimes, he was rushed to hospital last week to receive medical care. He spent a good number of days in the custodial ward during his sentence.
He strolled out to face the press looking bright, robust and cheerful. Cracking a few jokes, he seemed the picture of good health. His opportune illness afforded him the chance to hold his press stand-up without the backdrop of a prison gate. How nice.
Of course, he continues to assert his innocence. He intends to fight on with his appeal in May. Good for him.
He was then rushed away by six highly-trained police bodyguards in a government vehicle. Hong Kong is undoubtedly the most generous of places that we provide such perks and privileges. Exactly why six armed young men are needed to protect Donald remains unknown. Clearly, there must be a severe threat to him that demands this coverage. I’m sure there is a good reason for all this, it’s just that I can’t think of any.
The former convict’s first stop on his day of freedom was the exclusive Deep Water Bay Club. Next, he went home to Mount Butler. It’s reassuring to see his apartment complex was ring-fenced by more police. That threat to Donald must be nasty. Are the other residents of Mount Butler apprised of the risks?
In fairness, Donald’s toughness stood Hong Kong in good stead when he saw off the predatory currency manipulators in 1998. At the height of the Asian Financial Crisis, they came after the Hong Kong/US currency link intending to make a fortune. As our Financial Secretary, the wee man blocked the door to the vampires. He summoned up all his height “You will not pass.”
George Soros and the other blood-sucking hedge fund managers retreated licking their wounds. If Donald hadn’t acted our economy may have suffered irreparable damage. He also introduced the minimum-wage, the $HK2- travel for the elderly and poured money into the hospitals. Fair play.
On the other side of the balance sheet, he did nothing to resolve the housing crisis and his ‘Blue Sky’ anti-air pollution initiative was laughable. It’s true he enjoyed a high level of popularity throughout his time at CE. That's all evaporated.
It appears he got greedy. Rumours started circulating about his warped sense of privilege. Indeed, his arrogance was on display when I encountered him. Like most of the administrative officer cadre, he had an air of pomposity and self-entitlement that placed him above the common herd. Our current CE has many of the same traits.
The stories gathered pace as it emerged he’d received lavish hospitality from business tycoons. Trips on private jets, outings on luxury boats couldn't be denied when the pictures appeared. But his undoing was the dodgy acquisition of a large flat in Shenzhen and failure to declare an interest. Naturally, the public feared Hong Kong was on a slippery slope back into the old habits of corruption.
Donald’s reputation is now in the toilet. All his assertions of innocence, and pleading to a higher authority won’t shake the belief he compromised himself.
Anyway, welcome back to freedom Donald. Shame that your policies while CE have condemned many to a life of servitude and poverty. I trust your faith will give you some solace.
Oh dear. Carrie’s in another pickle. I try to interpret her behaviour in the most generous light, but she doesn't help me. This week she again demonstrated her stunning lack of sensitivity, coupled to a complete failure in political acumen.
The government has proposed changes to welfare benefits that see impoverished people aged between 60 and 64 suffer a one-third cut in their paltry payments. In response to the outcry over this stingy behaviour, Lam tells us “I am over 60 years old, but I still work for over 10 hours every day.”
Setting aside the fact that the government has massive reserves that would allow an increase, never mind a cut, Lam’s statement is revealing. To caricature her as Queen Marie Antoinette is not harsh. I know Marie Antoinette probably never said the phrase “Let them eat cakes” — yet the point is well made. Mrs Lam once again pulls back the curtain on her complete disconnect from the trials and tribulations of ordinary folk.
In the past, we’ve seen her inability to locate toilet paper after divested of her minions. They’d generally deal with such trivialities. Next, she caused hilarity as she fumbled the use of an Octopus card. On a daily basis, you see four-year-olds making their way through our MTR system ‘pinging’ Octopus on the way. That mundane action defeated our Chief Executive.
Carrie is 61 and makes great play on the long hours she works. I wonder if she'd be so sanguine after travelling through North Point MTR during rush-hour? Waiting for a bus in the rain after a hard day at work is something Carrie never faces. She glides around the city in a limousine as befits her status. Her road ahead, cleared by the cops ensuring she’s never late or inconvenienced.
Not for her the challenge at the age of 60 of holding down a job, then struggling home with your shopping. Nor does she need to worry about cooking dinner, cleaning up the home or those other mundane tasks. After all, she has a large domestic staff on hand. So I’m afraid the comparison crashes and burns under the weight of its sheer nonsense. Most of us would be happy to work long hours if we had the support services afforded our Chief Executive.
Added to this is a disingenuous claim that Carrie functions on three to four hours sleep a night. She rolls this line out like a badge of honour. All the science points towards poor performance by those who don’t get enough sleep. The research is clear in this regard.
Margaret Thatcher made a similar assertion that recently was debunked. Her bodyguard noted Thatcher needed regular naps throughout the day as bouts of irritability overtook her. Carrie has shown similar traits including outbursts at press conferences. Perhaps more sleep, less boasting is in order, for the sake of Hong Kong.
Returning to our central theme. The people denied these welfare payments are the very life and soul of Hong Kong. They toiled for 18-hour days in factories or on building sites seeking to make a home. Many arrived as refugees to build this city. To deny them a few dollars each month is mean spirited. Carrie seems to be happy to splash taxpayers money on other projects, several of which are dubious at best and downright wastes at worse.
Did we need to spend HK$5.45 billion on expanding Disney? The whole project is losing money as we bankroll the Big Rat from the US. Billions are going down the drain as the shoddy Shatin-Central link rail project shudders to a halt. A failure of government supervision likely contributed to this mess.
Carrie can even stump up HK$50 million for a musical fountain on the little-used Kwun Tong promenade. Located between the open sewer that is the Kai Tak nullah, a highway and industrial buildings, will the public even be able to hear the music? The list goes on. But no way can a few coins be given to the elderly poor. Meanwhile, the proposed cuts save only HK$100 million annually from reserves of HK$2 trillion.
Part of Carrie’s motivation is the ageing population need to work because the labour force is shrinking. Because Hong Kong ladies do not have children, we are now to be conditioned to remain harnessed to work. This approach is, of course, completely wrong. How about making it more favourable for families, by giving decent maternity leave and other incentives? Having grandma and granddad at home to look after the kids may also help. That won't be possible because Carrie wants them working.
At the core, these policies towards the underprivileged elderly contain a dark callous streak. I do wonder how Carrie balances this hard-hearted attitude with her professed Christian values. Perhaps that’s why she sleeps so little; guilt can be a terrible master.
I must start this book review with a confession. I’m a middle-aged white man. There, I’ve said it. And thus, according to this book that bestows guilt on me. Apparently, my modicum of success is down to ‘white-privilege.’ This social position stamps me at birth.
For the author, Ms Eddo-Lodge, this is my ‘original sin’. To be born white and so pronounced with liability for all the bad stuff that’s happened to black folks down the ages. I was not aware of this status given my origins in a northern English working-class family. An outside toilet and a tin bath in front of the fire aren’t immediate signs of privilege. I may be wrong.
Thus, I’m most grateful to this middle-class author for pointing out my entitled position. Ms Eddo-Lodge is a journalist who works for several national newspapers and writes well. She’s also an avowed feminist, who appears on TV shows and lectures around the country.
Thanks to her, I can now atone for the sin of ‘white-privilege’ to accept responsibility for terrible things. Of course, I wasn’t alive or in any way controlling of those circumstances - but I should make amends.
OK, I'm disingenuous. This book is a must read if you wish to grasp the emotions around race relations. The book is weighty on feelings, alternating between states of fury and despair. It’s UK centric but has echoes across all societies. Despite the title - paradoxically - the author is talking a lot to white people about race. She now has a substantial platform for her views. Along the way, the author makes assertions that are unsustainable or dishonest.
It’s important to assert that I don’t accept a few of the concepts used to anchor the arguments against nasty white folks. For example, the male patriarchy is a fallacy of the feminist movement. If the male patriarchy is so dominant why are the majority of street sleepers men? Men fill the prisons and are three times more likely to commit suicide. The data is clear. Men are having a rough time.
The most bizarre position the book takes is around ‘white-privilege’. Again, it's not something that I can say I recognise. And by that admission, Ms Eddo-Lodge adjudges me a sinner. Because if I don’t see that, then I can’t reform. This castigation somewhat reminds me of the terrible dictates of certain religions. Born a miscreant, judged a wrong-doer, even as a babe. All zealots resort to such language and protestations.
The book narrative takes in much of black history in the UK. It's peppered with statements that if you switched the word ‘white’ for ‘black’, this could provoke outrage. In Ms Loyd’s world whites, especially men, are fair game for attack. Thus we get.
“ … glut of middle-aged white men currently clogging the upper echelons of most professions.”
She allows herself this vitriol because whites have had it too good for too long and even poor whites haven’t suffered like her people. This is whiny, regressive stuff.
It’s no surprise that in a majority white country middle-aged white men are in such a position. The bile here ignores the years of struggle and personal stories that these men underwent to get there. To batch them together in such a lazy manner and deduce their success is due to ‘whiteness’ is deceitful. There is much like this in the book.
Ms Eddo-Lodge is no fool. She doubles back on herself later in the book to shore up her defences. On page 115, about half-way through, “When I write about white people in this book, I don’t mean every individual white person. I mean whiteness as a political ideology.”
Well, that's fine having spent the first half of the book slagging off all white people. I suspect the realisation dawned on her that she’s also at fault for making sweeping judgements. She then gets into class issues to acknowledge that discrimination flows across ethnic lines, class and culture. She admits black people can be racist against whites. She then doubles back again. We get a wild theory that the white community is conspiring against blacks - “It like they [whites] all learn lines from the same score sheet.”
She documents instances of debating white people and faltering. Every one of her failures is a conspiracy. When she’s defeated it ‘the misappropriated use of freedom of speech’, while criticism of her is a ‘take-down’ - a word she uses a lot. Dare anyone to suggest her position is untenable.
Overall, the presentation of 'black' and 'white' people as monolithic blocks is counter-productive. It goes against the stated aim of the book of overcoming race-based prejudice and inequality. The title alone indulges in the same labelling process. It assumes all white people are ‘not sufficiently woke’ or receptive to ideas about race relations.
Towards the end of the book, Ms Eddo-Lodge develops another tirade. This time the target is white-feminists accused of using the movement for their purposes. Ms Eddo-Lodge asserts these ‘white-women’ won’t accept ‘intersectionality’ in the feminist movement. In the process, they deny her a double-whammy of prejudice; being black and a woman. This somewhat esoteric argument wins her no favours. To compare white-feminists to Enoch Powell, as she does, is nonsense.
Ms Eddo-Lodge talks of setting boundaries, because the debate has caused her emotional distress. We learn she suffers from depression. Well, here are my boundaries. Don’t come at me with ill-conceived labels based on your prejudices. You know nothing of my struggles, motivations nor sentiments. Thus to label me makes you as guilty as those who rant against black people.
No doubt Ms Eddo-Lodge and her supporters will dismiss my criticisms. First, I’m a white man and second, I don’t get it since my 'white-privilege' makes me blind. Likewise, I can fire back. Ms Eddo-Lodge views everything through the double-distorting lens of racism and feminism. In her world every motive, every agenda, every move dictated by a prejudice. Thus the argument circles around.
In the end, she offers no new solutions. Finally, she tells us some people opined the book didn't help the conversation around racism. I disagree with that sentiment. The book illustrates the irrationality of prejudice and the mirror reaction of hatred coming the other way.
If nothing else, Ms Eddo-Lodge’s book sparks a discussion. That’s a good thing.
A message from Walter’s bunker deep under the verdant Tai Tam Valley.
I recently started a process that would have seen this website operate in part behind a paywall. To my surprise, I’m generating enough traffic to justify such a move. The cash flow, while not significant, would be welcome to further develop this project.
Unfortunately, as I got into the process of setting up the service certain unsettling things became apparent. In short, I’d be subject to the controls of the service I opted for. They’d have the recourse to screen my content, editorialise and filter out subjects they felt uncomfortable with. Simultaneously, a furore has broken out over Patreon. This subscription service provider, is cancelling accounts under pressure to de-platform people. Censorship is taking place with Silicon Valley deciding who gets a platform and who doesn’t.
Most of my stuff is uncontroversial, expect that these days people take offence at a difference of opinion. Then cite that to shut people down. When the British police can arrest a man for calling a police horse ‘gay’ anything can happen.
Some of the folks Patreon has dropped are not on my favourite list. Their opinions are borderline offensive stuff. Nonetheless, I support their right to have a voice. It’s a slippery slope when certain groups dictate who can and cannot speak, and about what subject. This video best sums up my views on freedom of speech.
Taking all this into account, I’ve decided not to opt for a subscriber service nor place any part of this website behind a paywall. Thanks.
If we’ve learnt anything from 2018, it's that politicians and their technocrats minions have failed the British people. Moreover, those same people appear hellbent on usurping the democratic will of the nation by orchestrating a false Brexit. As a Remainer, I take no joy watching this slow-paced putsch unfold. It’s evident the people who negotiated the deal have by a sleight of hand produced a non-Brexit.
What’s on offer will leave the UK within the EU, without the ability to influence decisions. In effect, Britain has surrendered its right to assert an opinion or control policy. I’m afraid it is vassalage. This stunning achievement has arisen for many reasons. The establishment doesn’t want out, that’s clear. Then you have endless infighting and cross-party posturing. No one in the political class walks away untainted from this monumental mess.
That Mrs May is beholden to the Democratic Unionist Party for her tenure in Number 10 is crucial. It means the faux issue of the Northern Island border sits centre to the whole imbroglio. No one even thought about it at the time of the vote. Distracted by a bloody red bus with numbers and the implied cash flow to the NHS, the debate was facile.
And yet, the Brexit vote was about much more. It was a mass vote of defiance against a political and expert class that viewed the populace with disdain. I include all shapes of politics in that statement. That ‘war-criminal’ Tony Blair and his barking dog Alsatian Campbell come out to scupper the deal is enough proof. The elites don’t like it that the people are dictating the agenda; thus they want to see the deal sunk.
The avowed pro-European Westminster mandarins align with Brussels. It suits them well. The ‘I know best’ attitudes prevails, plus the offer of rich career pickings. For politicians cast aside, the EU is a fat paycheck. Lord 'Mandy' Mandelson is one of many who trod that path. They adjudge the British people as ‘poorly educated and angry’ dismissing them to rob the popular vote of its agency. Only self-proclaimed clever people can decide matters. It’s not lost on us that many Brexit voters are less well-off than the Remainer elites.
With such people in power, you have to question their commitment to democracy. Meanwhile, a proposed second referendum amounts to shirking responsibility. Although, it does affirm the failure of the politicians as if that needed highlighting. Elected to do a job; the whole lot has fallen down.
Over in Parliament, a furore erupts over whether Jeremy Corbyn called Mrs May ‘a stupid woman.' Who gives a flying futtock? Indeed, not the ordinary folks, who would either agree or be indifferent. More attention is thrust on this issue than the growing numbers sleeping rough.
Expert lip readers pour over the recordings of the incident to seek the ‘truth’. Even if he said it, there is nothing inherently sexists with the statement. That’s unless you are an emotionally-charged SJW seeking offence in every statement. This weaponisation of emotional utterances, allied to fake outrage, is a sorry pantomime with no laughs.
In summary, you have to say the current crop inhabiting the Westminster bubble is incompetent, weak and deceitful. Don’t expect Labour to deliver. The party is far from cohesive under Corbyn. The public recognises his frailties as his popularity falls further behind the besieged May. That he can’t rise above her dismal showing is beyond belief.
The hollowed out Liberals remain soiled by the Clegg years. He's run away to work for Facebook. As for the Tories, the old fault-lines are on display. Civil war is on the verge of breaking out if only the paper tigers - Rees-Mogg and Boris - can summon the courage to act. Mrs May was always a place filler, who has extended her tenure way beyond what I expected. I’ve developed a grudging respect for the lady. She’s still at the helm, fighting every swell and wave while taking flak from the rear.
In 2019, there need to be new voices, new blood, and new direction. In truth, without it, British politics will wallow in a stalemate. Transformational change must come, with all its roughness, dislocation and mayhem. Unlike their ‘gilets jaunes’ French counterparts, the British people don’t usually take to the streets. They don’t burn down Starbucks or blockade the highways. I feel that unless things change, that might come.
I hate Christmas. All right, I’m the Grinch. Some tell me “get over it”. After all, it is one day a year. That’s the problem it’s not only one day. The bloody repetitive godawful jingles started in mid-November.
Let’s be clear about a few things. Jesus Christ was not born anytime around the 25th December. Christmas as a festival existed long before any births took place in the greater Bethlehem area. The bible is silent on when JC popped into the world.
All it tells us is that Mary and Joseph travelled by the express bus from Nazareth to Bethlehem to take part in a census. Earlier, Mary had been visited by the Angel Gabriel to tell her she's carrying the son of God. Joseph being a simple sort accepted that. The child was delivered in a stable because they forgot to book a hotel on Trivago.
This year, as with every year, religious leaders will once again spout forth against the commercialisation of Christmas. In the process, they’ll ignore the fact they stole Christmas from the Pagans. In the fourth century, some bloke called Pope Julius I chose the 25th December as the date of birth for Jesus. He took the Pagan festival, rebranded it and then set about spreading the word. It took until the end of the eighth century for Christmas to catch on across Europe. By the way, Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on 7th January.
So the whole Christian thing is a fabrication or clever marketing - aren’t these the same thing? Oliver Cromwell was having none of it. In 1644 he banned Christmas. The collective gaiety and compulsory joy being too much for grouchy Oliver. He had a point.
The modern Christmas is a product of Victorian shaping, with a massive dash of product placement. For example, Prince Albert introduced the Christmas tree. Incidentally, it’s a myth that the talented people at Coca-Cola created Father Christmas as a marketing ploy. Instead, Santa is a composite figure. He’s a Frankenstein, taking bits from Saint Nicholas and other winter festive deities.
As a child, I needed sedating on Christmas Eve. I heard Father Christmas land on our roof. Maybe I was delusional given that Mum had prescribed a dose of Aspirin to calm me. The blood loss from a bleeding stomach contributed to my delirious state. Indeed, I could hear Santa’s words as he assembled our toys at the base of the Christmas Tree … “..fucked up bloody thing never come down...”. Santa sounded cross. That’s no surprise with all those toys to deliver at such short notice.
We’d be out of bed at 5 am - run downstairs full of expectation to receive the perfect gift for the season of love and peace - a Johnny Seven gun. It had a pistol, a rifle, a grenade launcher, plus an armour piecing shell. With all that Baby Jesus could rule the world.
Later on comes purgatory. We’re forced to visit the grandparents, Stan and Phillis. This annual pilgrimage to the house of silent tension is in sufferance. We put on our best clothes, behave and don’t touch the ornaments. They made us welcome with “Eat the raisins, not just the nuts”.
The only saving grace was her trifle. A layered delight of custard, strawberries, cream and enough sugar to cause diabetic shock. It’s the reason we tolerated the whole painful saga. They also had a colour TV before anyone else, so that compensated a bit. Come on; this was before video games or the Internet. Our world was black and white.
If you want to understand Christmas, forget the whole Christian narrative. These days it’s moved beyond that. How else do you explain that Taoists and affirmed Buddhists are getting in on the act here in Hong Kong? Of course, there is the commercial side as manufacturers and marketers work with relentless energy to move their stuff.
Advertising kicks into overdrive as we're assailed by the latest must-have gadget or unique item. Much of it gets forgotten or put aside within days. In the UK an estimated £355 million worth of unwanted Christmas gifts were returned in 2016. Add to that the staggering 74 million minced pies that end up in landfills. Christmas is starting to look like an ecological disaster.
Research indicates that as many as 20% of folks find Christmas overwhelming. The compulsory need to be jolly and take part in every aspect of Christmas sometimes is draining. The overspending, anxiety over gift giving and family tensions can all boil over. A 'Facetime' Christmas may be the answer.
So what’s the point? In answer to the question, you have time to reflect. The passing of the seasons, the onward motion of life paused for a moment. I’m spending my festive season with the wife, daughters and one farting dog. I’ll get a bottle of single malt, watch ‘Love Actually’ and ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ on a loop. There is an eternal joy in being with family. I love Christmas.
May your God be with you, but more importantly your family. Did I mention I’ll be getting a decent single malt?
Here’s the latest instalment in my series on Britain’s steady journey down the rabbit hole. Forget the Brexit nonsense, the real erosion of Britain’s freedoms is from within as an insidious minority propagates its agenda, seizing control of the debate space.
In 2019 we can expect reforms to the Gender Recognition Act. This move will allow folks to self-identify as a man or woman. Transgender people have a rough time; thus any measures that ease their troubles are welcome. Except for the elephant in the room. That elephant is a predatory bloke called "Brenda" who identifies as a woman to gain access to female changing rooms, etc.
These are not made-up concerns or some transphobic fantasy. It has happened already. Feminists and others who raise concerns about biological males in all-female facilities face an onslaught from the radical trans-rights activists. In some ways, the feminists are getting a bit of their own medicine. They promoted their cause by direct-action. The trans-right activists adopted the feminist playbook, polished the tactics and took it to a new level. Hoisted by your own petard.
Nonetheless, it's a genuine concern. Many brave ladies have come forward to voice their worries of a threat to their safety. In turn, each gets assailed as transphobic when they're only seeking to protect women and girls. Others are then afraid to speak out. A militant minority dominate the conversation, giving a false impression they enjoy broad support. The silent majority sit sullenly.
The relentless attack on freedom of speech compounds this unfolding mess. Meanwhile, the Police enforce ‘thought control’ rather than dealing with real crime. It's all very 1984. If you are a victim of an assault you think has been directed at you because you are a member of a legally privileged group, your testimony is enough to classify the attack as a hate crime.
The operational guidance for police forces spells it out: “For recording purposes, the perception of the victim, or any other person, is the defining factor in determining whether an incident is a hate incident… The victim does not have to justify or provide evidence of their belief, and police officers or staff should not directly challenge this perception. Evidence of hostility is not required for an incident or crime to be recorded as a hate crime.”
Thus no tangible evidence is needed. Feelings are the only factor. We seem to be moving towards the situation in which we can turn every wrong we suffer into an expression of hatred. If you report a burglary, the cops come looking for signs of a break-in and that something was stolen. For hate crime, it’s all about feelings. No wonder the police can assert reported hate crimes have surged. Bonkers!
In one incident an upset father called police after his daughter lost a tennis match to complain the defeat was due to a racist umpire. The police log stated “Informant feels his daughter was subjected to racial discrimination at a tennis match where line calls went against her."
Elsewhere, Lady Warsi, a Conservative peer, is keen to get as much top cover for her constituency as possible. She recently pushed for an all-embracing definition of Islamophobia under the law. Her proposal would criminalise any criticism of Islam. After the mass rape of white girls by Muslim gangs, it seems Lady Warsi is keen to shut down any further adverse comment.
This lady has a track record of craziness. In 2005, her homophobic attitudes leaked out. She then resigned from David Cameron's government over its approach to Israel. Her antisemitic opinions came to the fore, although she'd deny it. Fortunate that she’s failed, as her definition faced robust opposition from more sensible folks. There is hope.
Meanwhile, on the campuses, things are going from bad to worst. The University of London is doing its bit to ensure students are not offended or exposed to anything upsetting. Comedians booked to perform need to sign a 'behavioural' agreement. Performers must agree to a no-tolerance policy; no racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism. That’s quite a list.
Can they discuss the weather? Possibility not because if its cold and that affects the old, then ageism comes in to play. Must be fun at their comedy nights.
Let's remember what comedians do. They play with ideas; they challenge norms by showing the absurdity of situations. That sometimes leads to a higher truth and other times it’s funny. Is that too much for the students? Probably not, as worst gets said behind closed doors. The reality here is all about a minority signalling their wokeness. Most students are mature enough to make their own decisions.
The determination to shut down free speech is all pervasive. The middle-class Marxists from the social sciences only allow a single narrative. Students taking proper degrees in physics, maths and the likes of chemistry are too busy with actual study for this nonsense. The kids in the soft degrees, where empirical evidence is not a prerequisite, don’t need to study. Thus, they can have fun.
In 2017, the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust conducted a free speech ranking of UK universities. Of 115 colleges, 62 were hostile to free speech or had policies to shut it down. While 46 colleges adopted a regime that 'chilled' freedom of speech: only seven had hands-off policies.
The Education (No. 2) Act 1986 requires that universities take reasonable steps to secure freedom of speech within the law for staff, students and visiting speakers. That’s not happening. It only remains for academic leaders to cower in surrender for the radicals to dictate what's heard on campus.
It's laughable that the UK points its finger at China asserting that free speech is under threat. The real challenge is on your ground.
“Population Explosion” scream the headlines. “Too many people are overburdening the planet, and we are heading for disaster.” That’s the dominant narrative: environmentalists, politicians and every ‘Johnny with a cause’ spout this line. After all the United Nations told us on 31 October 2011, the planet was home to seven billion people. That’s up from 1.6 billion in 1900. We need to get a grip and sort this out.
Poverty, pollution, instability and wars are all blamed on overpopulation. The ‘save the planet’ crowd allied to the ‘global warming pundits’ are the most vocal. Brandishing their data on power-points, they make a grand living jetting about telling us how to conduct our lives. The problem is these folks are wrong about population growth. Here’s why.
For most of recorded history, and as far as we can tell, the human population growth rate per annum was less than one per cent. I know the data is dodgy the further back we go, but that’s not a significant concern. It's modern trends we need to consider.
After World War I, fertility rates (how many children each woman has) went up. The population growth rates climbed to reach about four per cent in 1970. Only the great Chinese famine and World War II saw temporary downward moves. It’s important to understand that a two per cent annual increase in population compounds to give a doubling every 35 years.
The growth we’ve seen over the past 100 odd years is rapid and unprecedented. Moreover, in case you hadn’t noticed its stopped. The data is clear. The worldwide population birth rate peaked around 1990. It’s now going down.
Wait a minute I hear you cry! Why is the population of the world still increasing when births are falling? The answer is simple. Deliveries don't cause the continued growth, but a lack of deaths. People are living longer. At the same time, children are surviving childbirth and the delicate infant years. All these combine to keep the population up for the time being.
Forecasters observe counter-intuitive factors that have a bearing on how the numbers may change. For example, birth rates are higher when child death rates are higher. This applies to rich and developing countries. Added to that is wars, famine and epidemics spur greater population growth in the longer term. This phenomenon appears to function to ensure the species survives. Thus, if we can prevent and avoid disasters, we help stabilise the number of children born. That’s already happening.
Anti-malaria campaigns have prevented an estimated 6.5 million deaths, many of these are children. When fewer children die, parents have less compunction to add more children. Today 100 countries have eliminated malaria. In turn, this led to a corresponding drop in fertility rates. It’s as if that anti-malaria net you sponsored is a secondary birth control device. Don’t tell the Catholic Church.
To sustain a population, as a rough figure, each woman needs to give birth to 2.1 children. That’s assuming no flu epidemic or war comes along to wipe out millions. Once again, because of compounding, even small changes in fertility or death rates cause big swings in population numbers.
Forecasting is a tricky business because it involves a degree of subjectivity and making a few assumptions. Also in play are external factors. Singapore as a new nation in the 1970s wanted to understand and plan for its projected population. The demography guys got to work to predict 80,000 births a year by 2000. The reality was 38,000. Policymakers struggled to recognise that the models used to predict future numbers are weak at best and misleading at worst. No one understood that as society evolved upward, then fertility declined. That’s now obvious.
There is some data we can rely on, and it points to trends that are likely; not certain, but likely. In 1960 the average was five children per woman worldwide. These days that’s fallen to 2.5 children per woman, and the trend line appears to continue on a downward trek. While some nations have seen rises in fertility rates, this comes from new young migrants having kids. These changes are not intrinsic to the country nor sustained.
The scientists agree that the population explosion has fizzled out in the rich and developing countries. Moreover, the evidence suggests the population will either stabilise or decline.
Already we see the signs. Major urban centres such as Liverpool, Glasgow, Rostock and Detroit are experiencing de-population. These cities relied on migration to sustain their numbers. As this dries up, the life-blood ebbs from the city. We can expect more of this if the fertility rates continue to fall.
We can point to factors causing the fall in fertility. Female empowerment through the pill, better education, economic influences and culture all play a part.
The consequence of fewer people is a double-edged sword. Some are pessimistic, yet there is an optimistic side. Indeed, it should reduce the pressure on the resources of the planet assuming we don’t use more stuff. But, many of our current economic models work on growth in numbers and consumption. That will need to change. Further, it is not fewer people but also more people living longer.
The rich western nations currently moving towards curtailing migration may have to change course. With shrinking populations, who will do the menial jobs and staff the old folks homes? Who will run the hospitals? Food for thought.
As I’ve shown forecasting is a tricky business. The best data we have indicates that by 2100 we may see the population of the world peak at around 10 billion. After that, a decline may set in, although how far it goes is anyone’s guess. However, with low rates of childbirth, the population drops to 6.2 billion and keeps moving downward.
Of course, we could be completely wrong. All those ladies pushing dogs around in prams may suddenly switch track and get a boyfriend. Then all bets are off. Still, my hunch is dog pram makers have an excellent future.
I recently gained access to a declassified ‘Top Secret’ paper detailing the probable nuclear targets for the Soviet Union in the United Kingdom. The 1972 assessment is chilling reading. As a kid, I fretted over a nuclear war especially after watching the movie ‘The War Game’. And yet nothing can prepare you for what these papers stated may happen.
The Soviet approach called for an ‘overkill’ strike with an overwhelming crippling attack. Submarine's start the onslaught, giving little warning. A salvo of land-based ballistic missiles follows.
The British planners anticipated an initial strike of 150 nuclear warheads on UK targets. These are a mix of airburst and ground attacks in the range of two to five megatons. Before this hell rains down, a series of high-yield airburst in the upper atmosphere knocks out all communications and unshielded electronic kit. The national grid fails. Telephone systems stop, as would water pumping. Hospitals grind to a halt, factories shut-down, and food distribution ends.
In the modern context, all the computers that run our daily existence go down in an instant. You can’t move, access money or do anything. Suddenly you are back in the dark ages, without the skill-set for that time. Meanwhile, if they’d had a warning, most of the government are deep underground
Military targets face an onslaught of multiple ground bursts aimed at taking out underground structures. Meanwhile, all primary and secondary urban centres could expect airbursts in the two to five megatons range.
Using the data in the report and this modelling tool, I’ve assessed the impact on my 1972 location. At that time I lived on the north-eastern side of Hull. What I didn’t realise is number of missiles heading my way.
The tool asks users to choose the target, megatonnage and whether the blast takes place at the surface or in the air. A surface blast aims at bunkers below ground, and the radiation fallout is more significant. An explosion in the air affects a larger geographic area.
Some 25 km to the east of my 1972 home is Patrington, a quiet market town on the plain of Holderness. It's low rural country that hides a secret. Buried deep under the fertile fields is the RAF’s primary underground radar facility. Designated RAF Bempton, the planners, expected this to get hit in the first wave with at least two ground bursts in the two to five megaton range. Modelling a hit by Soviet SS 4 missile with a yield of 2.4 megatons, the devastation is as follows.
With a sparse population, the initial death toll is an estimated 8,900, although 68,200 would sustain life-threatening injuries. The blast would reach the eastern edge of Hull 20 km away smashing windows and bring down weaker structures. Adjacent villages burst into flames.
A hit on Patrington would ignite fires in the massive petrochemical facilities at Immingham and Saltend. Without the power to pump water, these fires burn unchecked.
Ground bursts produce more fallout as the debris goes skyward. With the prevailing west wind, this drifts out over the North Sea towards Holland.
Simultaneously Hull receives an airburst over the docks. Again assuming an SS 4 missile with a 2.4 megaton warhead, then 213,800 die instantly, and 121,300 sustain serious injuries. The city centre and its surroundings are flattened, while the damage reaches as far as Beverley.
Other potential targets in the vicinity are York, RAF Leconfield near Beverley and RAF Staxton Wold above Bridlington. Even if you survived the initial explosions, the winds carry radiation from targets to the west. Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Liverpool are all on the list.
Further south, London is a special target. The horror visited on the capital is beyond words. At least three air-bursts and four ground-bursts ignite everything from Basildon to Slough. Calculating the damage is dependent on many variables. These include the height of weapon detonation, time of day and weather.
Yet, it’s safe to say that at least four million Londoners perish in the initial fireballs. Another six million will die within days from burns, impact injuries and lack of primary medical care.
Hospitals, schools, homes, police stations - all gone. The very architecture of our current existence smashed and burned. We’re back to the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. The scramble for food and water will consume us. Besides the physical injuries, the psychological impact is unfathomable.
We revert to base instincts, stripping away the veneer of humanity and civilisation. I recall Mr Howes my English teacher at junior school asserting he’d want to go in the first flash. At the time I didn’t comprehend his sentiment. Now I embrace it.
The scenario envisaged in the paper sees a complete collapse of UK's infrastructure. It heralds deprivations on a massive scale for decades. Those incinerated are the lucky ones. Survivors hang on to a subsistence existence in a highly irradiated environment. The Royal United Services Institute asserts the result of nuclear war would be so devastating that there is no way of facilitating a humanitarian response. In short, it’s back to the dark ages.
It didn't happen, but the threat is still there. If it happens, the survivors will envy the dead. Have a nice day.
My regular readers will be aware that I am not enamoured with Brian. Next week, the man on the world's longest apprenticeship turns 70. This birthday is the trigger for an outpouring of publicity to support his rise to the throne. His PR machine is going into overdrive, with gushing pieces in such places as Hello and Now magazines. Even the republican Guardian is getting involved.
In the process, we get action man Brian, then academic Brian and family man Brian. Photographs of his days in the Royal Navy and the RAF abound. Next, he’s wearing gowns and standing among a collection of books - some of which he may have coloured in. Finally, we get Brian the father, grandfather and kindly uncle. He’s even riding the coattails of his son’s family to burnish his image.
Of course, we don’t get Brian the philander nor Brian the slightly odd bloke who has wacky ideas. Nor are we treated to hypocrite Brian; the man who lectures us about the environment while residing in many homes and jetting about in planes. Lastly, completely missed out is the great thinker Brian. Well, that’s because he’s not.
But, he's a confident sort. “The young have ideas above their station” he mused “because they are taught they can all be pop stars or High Court Judges or TV presenters, even heads of state, without putting in the necessary work”. Wow. You need to savour that, roll it around in your head and contemplate the full meaning.
Remember it comes from a man handed his title on a plate - who will be head of state because he came down a specific vagina. That’s his only qualification for the job. Nothing else matters. Reflecting on the Hong Kong handover ceremony, he observed the Chinese leadership looked like waxworks. Has he ever taken the time to peer around at his own family? The self-awareness gene is missing in the man.
His consort, Fag Ash Lil has grown on me. You sense that she’s more grounded which brings us to the elephant in the room. In all the publicity, there is no mention of Princess Diana of Harrods. Airbrushed from history Soviet style.
The most striking and problematic aspect of this choreographed effort is its sheer falsehood. The PR gurus have gone to considerable effort to spin a sanitised version of Brian’s history. It's fortunate a majority of the public have not forgotten the massive blots on his record.
His poor choice in brides and potty ideas are not my most significant concern. Instead, it's the evidence pointing to Brian being a somewhat different monarch from his Mum. She played the part to perfection — the mystery and aloofness delivered in equal measure. It’s argued she only put a foot wrong once. That was over the whole Diana saga and remaining in Scotland when the nation wanted her in London. Indeed, that’s the conventional narrative. The truth of it we may never know.
Unfortunately, all the evidence points to Brian being an ‘activist’ King. And that could bring the whole show crashing down around his rather large ears. As Walter Bagehot, the essayist pointed out some years ago.
"If the sovereign be able to play the part of that thoroughly intelligent but perfectly disinterested spectator who is so prominent in the works of certain moralists, he may be able to choose better for his subjects than they would choose for themselves."
As Bagehot asserted “The sovereign has, under a constitutional monarchy such as ours, three rights — the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn. And a king of great sense and sagacity would want no others. He would find that his having no others would enable him to use these with singular effect.’
Therein lies the rub. Brian has already proven himself a player and no disinterested spectator. His attempts to interfere in politics are legendary. His memorandum to ministers reveals he sought to influence policy in support of his pet causes. Margaret Thatcher complained to him and the palace about his interference. “I run this country, not you, sir,” Thatcher is alleged to have told him.
He has repeatedly made known that he despises science. This view is odd for a man who relies on so many of its innovations to do his work. He has in the past described the scientific worldview as an insult to ‘sacred traditions.’ Is that why he supported a mosque in North London that acted as an incubator to Islamic terrorists.
Richard Reid the shoe bomber, Abu Hamza al-Masri and others used this facility. Brian acted as patron. He’s never accounted for that except to say he wants to be the defender of all faiths. Does that include those faiths that bring terror to British streets?
It appears this arrogant and absurd man does not fool the savvy British public. The data is damning. His Royal Highness Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, K.G., K.T., G.C.B., O.M., A.K., Q.S.O., P.C., A.D.C., Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, and Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, is an unpopular man.
A 2018 YouGov poll places Brian as the seventh most popular royal. He sits behind the Duchess of Sussex, who joined the royal family a matter of months ago. His numbers are low.
Then you have polls showing that some 54 per cent of Britons would prefer Prince William as King over Brian. It’s not pleasant reading for the man.
Plus, don’t forget that the British throne extends to 16 countries. Some of these states may consider abolishing the monarchy after the Queen’s death. Polls suggest several will go that route.
His assertions that he won’t be a meddling King ring hollow. The man appears incapable of constraining himself. The only saving grace in all this is that Brian’s reign is unlikely to be as long as his mothers. Thus, time may limit the damage he does. In the meantime, he’d do well to take the sage advice of a Yorkshire farmer pontificating on the subject. “Do your duty lad and shut your gob!”
I’ll leave the final words to Bagehot "The benefits of a good monarch are almost invaluable, but the evils of a bad monarch are almost irreparable."
On the morning of November 7th, a woman police officer attached to the Police Tactical Unit faced a 55-year-old man brandishing a knife on a busy MTR concourse. The male, surnamed Chow, was stopped for questioning. He pulled the knife from his bag and lunged at the officer. She issued a warning to drop the knife. Her colleague also issued a warning. Both warnings went ignored. Chow continued to advance on the officer waving his knife. The officer then opened fire with a single shot. Chow collapsed with a gunshot wound.
This sequence of events comes from media reports. I’m told that CCTV coverage of the incident affirms the story. If true, this is a textbook example of how officers should respond. Legally and morally the officer is justified in her actions.
I carried a gun on duty for 34 years. Had a culprit done this to me I'd have no hesitation opening fire. I owe that to my family, the public and my colleagues.
Chow remains in hospital. And surprise surprise, media reports say he has a criminal conviction for assaulting police officers. Thus his attack would appear to be part of a pattern of behaviour.
None of this stopped a legion of Monday morning quarterbacks, armchair warriors and self-serving politicians from heaping bile on the WPC and the Police Force. It’s as if they’d rather see an officer dead or injured than the commendable outcome of this case.
To his great credit, the Commissioner of Police has come out in complete support of the officer. And so he should. Other senior officers have, likewise, shown unwavering backing to this brave young lady.
Leading the charge of criticism is a legislator, James To Kun-san, a so-called democrat. Listening to Mr To you’d think he was an expert in unarmed combat, firearms and the use of force. Except he’s not. He’s a pudgy, stumbling figure and an opportunist grandstanding little-man. He is also a lawyer, yet he appears to have no respect for evidence nor due process.
A chorus of unjustified and fabricated denunciations came out about this incident. It’s disgusting to watch that those leading this are members of the legal fraternity. You’d think they’d have the common decency to await the official enquiry. At least take heed of the compelling evidence already available. Unfortunately, our so-called democrat politicians lost their collective decency some time ago. The only truth for them is their distorted opinions.
It's evident that Mr To desires to politicise the incident. Ever since the failed Occupy movement, he and his cohort have taken every opportunity to badmouth Hong Kong, and it’s Police Force.
Mr To fronted Chow’s family in a press conference. The family appeared with their faces hidden behind masks. Why? One can only speculate. They went on say it was normal for their renovation worker father to be carrying a knife. Well, yes I’m sure it was. But it’s not normal when stopped by the police to pull that knife out and threaten the officers.
The armchair critics are having a field day suggesting that the officer should have used a baton or pepper spray. These assertions are nonsense. Officers have seconds to react or face possible death. A generation brought up on video games and movies has no concept of how to tackle real violence. Many of their comments and observations reveal a profound ignorance. Take a look at these clips; the reality of knife attacks and knife vs handgun.
Likewise, it is suggested officers carry Tasers. Again, the lack of knowledge and understanding is breathtaking. Tasers don’t always work, and indeed, when someone is wearing a heavy jacket, the Taser can prove useless.
As regards the suggestion the WPC was reckless to open fire on a crowded MTR concourse. That view ignores her training, the assessment she made and the fact that she executed the shot with precision.
The scenario that unfolded on November 7 appears very like an incident that occurred in July 2005. It would be useful to remind Mr To what happened on that occasion. On that day, Constable Chu Chun-kwok, stopped a 30-year-old man acting suspiciously in the street. The man suddenly produced a small fruit knife and slashed the officer’s throat. Constable Chu chased the man for about 20 metres with blood spraying from his wound before collapsing. Later the culprit was arrested. He claimed he’d panicked.
Constable Chu remains bedridden to this day. Is that the outcome Mr To and Democrats would have preferred for this officer? Instead, she went home safe to her family. Meanwhile, a convicted criminal with a track record of attacking officers remains in hospital. That for me is a fair outcome.
If the version of events portrayed so far proves true, then the officer deserves our praise. Any reasonable person viewing the facts would concur. Of course, many see matters through their distorted prism and are unlikely to change course.
Mr To claims himself a Christian. It’s not Christian to condemn someone for seeking to protect the sanctity of life. If I were a believer, I’d assert a fiery afterlife awaits Mr To. Meanwhile, he's judged for his deceit in this life. Also, Mr To is not worthy of the protection that Hong Kong police officers provide him.
Lastly, a misquote from a movie. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain matters to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very protection that this officer provides, and then questions the manner in which its provided! I would rather you said "thank you" and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest Mr To you pick up a weapon and stand a post.
The old guard of liberal-centralist politicians in Europe and the US are struggling. They can't understand the world that they helped create. Hillary Clinton continues to rake over the coals of a failed attempt at the US presidency. It's evident from her recent remarks that she still doesn't grasp why the US electorate didn’t vote her to the office. Yes, I know Hillary won the popular vote. That's not the point; she lost the election.
Meanwhile, her kindred spirit Tony Blair is continuing his campaign to derail Brexit. For Tony, the messiah complex overrides rationality. Why express surprise that Blair engages in an activity that seeks to undermine the democratic will of the people. After all, this is the man who maintained deceit throughout his entire time in office. Then with a concocted litany of lies brought on the untold slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people.
I disagree with Brexit. Nonetheless, the majority voted for it, and that’s the deal you get with democracy. Although, Brexit is not proving to be Brexit. That’s another matter
Left unaddressed, the rise of anti-immigrant, anti-internationalist sentiment, which has shifted the political balance within Europe, could have grave consequences. Clinton has finally woken up to that fact.
In a spasm of concern, the Guardian newspaper is running a series of articles that seek to understand why people have rejected the centralist-liberal agenda. They’re also somewhat lost because their grand dominant narrative is no longer so grand nor commanding. The voters have taken a different tack.
As usual, the media is seeking to label the phenomena. They have to give it a definition, and then you can deconstruct it. Populism is the word all the journalists and academics are struggling to tie down. As far back as 1969, academics at the London School of Economics saw populism as an evil spectre haunting the earth. The only problem is no one can agree what exactly is populism.
Even after loads of study, relentless discussion, the academics remain baffled. Of course, why bother with a definition. To me populism is pure; it's the people exercising their democratic right to take things in a different direction. The fact that people are angry with the elites and prepared to speak out is not something that should be a concern. We should embrace that.
Except that our friends in the Guardian appear anxious at the increasingly illiberal masses and the views that they are expressing. Well, who's to blame for that?
Let's review the broad sweep of political history over the past three decades. For starters, capitalism has stalled for a fair number of people. It’s not producing the benefits it promised as wages are stagnant and housing unaffordable.
Then we're led to war by falsehoods. The invasion of Iraq and the later geopolitical mayhem was all for nothing. As he seeks to shore up his collapsing legacy, Tony Blair talks about bringing down an evil dictator. Meanwhile, he earns a crust these days working for other dictators. Plus, there are many dictators out there that our Tony ignored or did business with. The public was misled, the soldiers paid the price, and the people of Iraq are still suffering.
Next, we have the financial crash of 2007/2008, which started in the US and spread its contagion across the planet. In this jolly little episode, the poor folks are paying for the lack of regulation. Meanwhile, the big guys with the money, the very people who caused the crash, walked away with their pockets lined. All this sanctioned by their political friends on both sides of the Atlantic. Let’s remember that Hillary took vast sums from the folks who caused the crash.
Tony Blair also needs to be accountable for his covert immigration policy that opened the UK door to anybody who wished to enter. This policy, coupled with the later manufactured refugee crisis, has had a disastrous impact across Europe. Media images of refugees struggling to cross the Mediterranean stoke public sympathy. When children are involved, it's heartbreaking. Yet, the truth of the situation is more complicated. Many, if not most of these so-called refugees are economic migrants.
It’s worth pondering the question why is this now unfolding across the whole of Europe. In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision in 2015 to open the doors to refugees from Syria triggered a crisis within the EU. This move sparked the rise of the anti-immigrant groups. She justified her decision in principled terms against the backdrop of Germany’s history. But does that mean all Europe must atone for the errors of the past to subvert its culture by allowing the world to enter unchecked?
Meanwhile, our virtue signalling celebrities don't miss an opportunity to tell us what to do. Harry Potter’s mum J.K. Rowlings, Saint Bob of the Geldof, Gary Lineker, Emma Thomson plus assorted other super-rich folks encouraged the UK to take in more migrants. But wait a minute. Rowling’s has three huge estates and loads of land as her disposal. And the number of refugees she’s taken in is zero.
None of these self-important, well-heeled lovvies has stepped forward to accommodate anyone in their plush homes. Instead, the so-called refugees get dumped amongst the most depressed communities. There they over-burden already stretched public services to inflame sentiments. So Hampstead and Kensington are off the list, but not Rotherham and Luton.
Of course, mass immigration raises cultural and security concerns as well as fears of economic displacement. If you raise any heckles about this you are immediately smeared with the racist or even Nazi label. Hence the relentless media trope that populism is the rise of the far-right. The constant frivolous use of the racist label only serves to marginalise people and build the walls of polarisation.
The media have a defence. After all, they say, these populists are angry, frustrated and resentful types. But, they forget that the same is said of most left-wing groups and the various tribes of SJWs. I’ll grants you that populism is an anti-elitist set of views. And in that sense, it’s no different from the left.
So while poor Hillary and Tony fret, the people have spoken by rejecting their narrative. Fed up with deceit and outright lies, the ‘basket of deplorables' have said: “Sod you”. Polarisation and fragmentation are the new norms. People are seeking to protect what they have. They play identity politics and dig in. What Hillary and Tony can't get their heads around is that their policies planted the seeds that gave rise to the current state of affairs.
Unless the media and the liberal elites drop their relentless labelling and attacks against anyone who questions their agenda, nothing will change. Only one thing is certain; the finger pointing will continue.
Yesterday was international men's day. Also, in an unfortunate confluence of events, it was international toilet day. I wonder if these two celebrations are connected. Indeed, the radical feminists would like to see men flushed down the toilet. They talk of ‘toxic masculinity’ - watch this to hear true toxicity.
Unfortunately, their agenda is now reaching into UK education policy to deny boys support. Motivated by perverted revenge, the radical feminists are pushing their beliefs too far. This is horrifying.
We shouldn't be surprised by this sort of thing. For years the victimhood feminists have spread their bile and hate-ladened agenda. They've relentlessly worked the media. To them, all men are brutes and rapists. While all women are victims. In their distorted minds, masculinity should be criminalised as a threat.
Separate train carriages and women only public spaces are the demands. Rather than recognising the danger to them as a policing issue, they leap instead to labelling. Every husband, boyfriend, grandfather, boy and uncle is a suspect. Instead of calling upon the vast majority of decent men to protect them, they’d exclude all males.
Of course, the hard data blows the feminist case out the water. Assertions that all men are culprits and not victims is a blatant lie. For starters, estimates suggest that 40% of domestic violence is against men. Much of this under-reported violence lays hidden because men feel a social stigma. The data also shows that women are much less likely to face criminal charges for assaulting their partners. So much for always being the victims.
There also exists a massive under-reported mental health problem amongst men. Each day in the UK 12 men take their own lives. Seven out of ten murder victims are men and 90% of street sleepers are men. A staggering 95% of the prison population is male. Plus, men are a lot less likely to access psychological therapies than women.
Across many jurisdictions, family courts operate in favour of women, and against men. A study in the USA found most attorneys (94% of male and 84% of female attorneys) said that judges exhibited prejudice against fathers. In the vast majority of cases, women get custody of the children in a process that sidelines dads.
By driving men out of families, something the radical feminist seek, they perpetuate a circle of trouble. Again, the science is irrefutable. Boys growing up without a male figure are more resentful, angry, lack motivation and are underachievers. These boys as young men join gangs, engage in substance abuse and drift from crisis to crisis.
I see part of the problem as how the whole gender argument has played out. The prevailing radical feminist belief is that by socialising boys as girls, you can suppress their masculinity. The result is a softer man. This postmodern nonsense has no basis in fact, and the outcomes are counter to expectations. Anyway, the research is in. Gender is not a social construct. Social factors may have an influence, but we remain hardwired to a specific gender. Thus forcing boys to play with dolls is bullshit.
Layered atop this is the false premise of a male patriarchy dominating world affairs to the disadvantage and suppression of women. I wish someone had told Tina Atkinson this as she beat up boys at my secondary school. Apparently, she didn’t get the memo nor did my mum or sister. This insulting idea does nothing but downgrade women through a claptrap theory of no merit.
These radical feminists ignore history, biology and a great deal of research. This stuff proves societies need ‘masculine’ men, not pseudo-men assigned their behaviours by women. When the wolf is at the door, it's the males who normally step up. That's when the masculinity comes into play. That, and getting spiders out of the bath.
The desire to see boys succeed is just not there. One British education advocate recently stated, “People do feel cautious about men and boys because it is seen as speaking up on behalf of a privileged class." Or is it the case that the female-dominated education sector doesn't allow it?
How many men are working in UK primary schools? Only 15% of primary school teachers are male, and that number is falling. Thus, those essential male role models are not there. Kids are being denied the opportunity to witness men and women interacting in positive ways.
Then there is a whole raft of studies to show that teachers inflate the grades of girls. This is attributed to girls being better behaved in class with teachers rewarding them. How does this play out in the real world, when employers discover that these girls are not as capable as their grades suggest? This sort of thing devalues women and is unfair to men.
It's also notable that the radical feminists steer well clear of certain subjects. For instance, I don’t recall them gathering in Rotherham to protest the rape of white girls by British-Pakistani men. Nor did they front up on the TV discussion shows to raise cries in pain for these poor white girls. I can think of no other example of genuine rape culture. And yet the feminists got their knickers in a twist because some Hollywood celebrity had her naked photographs hacked. Their silence about Rotherham, Telford and elsewhere exposes deceit. For them, only white men should be held to account.
I doubt many hard-line feminists drop in here to catch up on what a white middle-aged man is thinking. On the odd chance they do, here’s a suggestion. Something has upset you, and I feel sorry you carry around such nonsense in your heads. Please give us a break from your doctrine. Go away to educate yourself by studying the peer-reviewed evidence. And stop talking about men as the enemy of women. As a husband, as a father and as a son, I don’t recognise the basis for that statement. It’s insulting to the many women and men who function to raise a family.
I’ve been trying to draft this blog all weekend. Things are moving so fast it’s out of date ten minutes after I settle on it. I hack my way through the thicket of detail, then something else pops up. With such a febrile atmosphere, I can't keep up. What a cluster!!
The title of this piece has changed several times. I was going with ‘The longest suicide note in history’ or ‘Hotel California - you can check out, but you’ll never leave.’ I guess ‘Mayhem’ sums it up.
Do I have to ask - was it worth it? Is that the best that she could get after all this back and forth? Let’s be honest; the Brexit deal is no deal. It’s not even a fudge. Instead, it's a mix of half-measures and kicking 'the-can-down-the-road'. While Mrs May has gained grudging respect for her tenacity, an enormous challenge lies ahead.
The European Research Group, a pro-Brexit entity, gives its assessment here. It’s a neat summary that makes the point why the deal won’t go through.
The EU won’t budge either, and they smell blood. After all, the UK started this nonsense, so why should they give in? If I were them, I’d sit tight to watch the UK implode. All the bile and rhetoric thrown their way counts for nothing because Britain is a deeply divided nation. Soon it may be asking to hold everything in abeyance.
All these shenanigans have exposed the complete ineptitude and weakness of the current crop of politicians. The Tory boys are not prepared to bite the bullet and dethrone Mrs May. Instead, they snipe from the sidelines, play petty games while refusing to join the race. Anyway, millionaires Rees Mogg and Boris Johnson will not suffer too much if the economy collapses. Their behaviour is nothing short of deceitful.
On the other side of the house, I have no idea what is the Labour Party’s position on Brexit. Of course, Jeremy Corbyn is taking the opportunity to attack Mrs May from every angle. And yet, we do not know what he would do differently. It's fair that he will seek the advantage and you can't fault him for that. Yet, at some point, he must tell the country what he would do. We wait with bated breath.
So where do we go from here? I suspect the endless round of debating and political infighting will continue. There’s no end in sight.
I’m not going to predict Mrs May’s future. She’s confounded all the pundits. She's fighting her corner with a tenacity that is beyond my expectations. Let us remember she's a diabetic with a punishing workload. Place stress atop that, and you've got to admire her fortitude.
The great British public can complain all they like. As they look around for a culprit to blame, then turn to the mirror. The failure to engage and understand the ramifications of the Brexit decision is shocking. At times it seems for the majority of the public, soap operas or the life of some minor celebrity is all that matters. Everyone knows the winner of the Great British Bake Off. How many understand the details of Brexit? They can tell you who is leading on Britain's Got Talent, but how many can name the leader of the Liberal party? The politicians thrive on this ignorance.
It's often said that Britain lost its way after the Suez crisis. That may be. Yet, it's possible to make an argument the nation lost its mind in the trivialities of celebrity culture and social media. Can the British people continue to dodge the consequences of their actions?
At breakfast this morning in Shanghai, a Chinese student offered his insights. I summarise his thoughts ... “The UK economy will stall, social-order will erode, and you gain nothing from this endless polarisation of your society. Taking charge of a decaying edifice is no prize. How desirable is your democracy now?” He has a point. As the knife-crime cull of youth continues on the streets of London and lines lengthen at food banks, how is it looking? Pretty grim.
Have we reached peak stupid yet? Probably not. If Mrs May falls, the UK is heading for the cliff. A delay in Brexit will be necessary, if the EU agrees. If not, the UK may crash out. That will be interesting to watch.
One positive effect of Trump is that he’s energised the electors to come out to vote. The recent mid-terms saw the most massive turnout in 50 years. That’s a positive. Perhaps the British public can wake up instead of wallowing in TV tripe.
This week is going to be make or break. It takes a brave soul to predict an outcome. I'm not even going there.
You’ve got to laugh. This week Hong Kong took another lashing at the United Nations Human Rights Council. I laugh because I can make a persuasive argument that we enjoy the highest levels of human rights in the world. And yet, if you believed the activists, who deliver their opinion-heavy verdicts, you’d think we lived in a Gulag.
It’s the usual crowd of naysayers. A convicted criminal, self-appointed guardians and a few agenda-driven types. None of them stands-up when exposed to scrutiny. Please don't apply the term ‘independent or balanced’ to this motley crew. Behind their overblown prominence is a false idea that these groups are representative.
Human Rights Monitor illustrates the point. This group sometimes appears at demonstrations with the protestors. Then when it suits, they switch to a monitoring role. Its members don reflective vests as if this confers upon them some special status or power. They then wander around monitoring the police. I’ve yet to see them criticise the actions of violent protesters or defend the human rights of the cops. In their world rights only flow one way.
Human Rights Monitor comes with particular political point of view. There is nothing wrong with that. Except that it's never mentioned when appearing on the international stage asserting their ‘independent’ opinion.
Even the worst aspects of the criticism that these groups level at Hong Kong look trivial when compared with what’s going on elsewhere. Fair enough, bring up your concerns but get a sense of proportion. To me, there is a depressing absence of rationality as ‘human rights’ is pursued by these zealots as dogma. We all know where doctrine leads.
The UN Council itself is hardly above criticism. In the past, its hosted known terrorists and displayed a biased attitude in its reports. It’s not the court of final appeal on human rights. With no monopoly on deciding standards, it’s a talk-shop, where allegations are made without much substantiation. At least this week it had enough sense not to have its findings dictated by Joshua Wong (yes, he of the hunger-strike between meals fame). Young Joshua wants to appropriate the UN Council’s report for his purposes. His rejected attempt caused the usual hissy fit.
You will hear that many of the Hong Kong activists aspire to the US as their model of a free society. This is in part because of ignorance. Most have never lived in the US, nor experienced the reality of life there. Don’t get me wrong, the US has much going for it, but it’s not the nirvana they seek.
On a practical level, if Joshua Wong conducted himself in the US as he did in Hong Kong in 2014, he’d likely suffer a bruising experience. I was there and up close when the NYPD was dealing with the aftermath of Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park. It wasn’t pretty. Compared to the NYPD, the measured Hong Kong Police response during Occupy was benevolent.
As a discussion point, it may be helpful to balance the ‘human rights’ record of Hong Kong against the US. Let’s start with democracy. The US has it, although the systems favour those with the 'cash-to-splash' on campaigning. In turn, that means the big corporation weald considerable influence. Hong Kong doesn’t have full democracy. It’s a small circle election dominated by commercial interests. Different approach, but sounds familiar.
The courts in both places remain nominally independent. In the US the judges at the top are political nominees. The corrosive nomination process for Judge Kavanaugh exposed the political influence in the US judiciary. In Hong Kong, Beijing has the final say through the National People’s Congress interpretations. Although rarely used, this gives Beijing a veto. Thus, both systems have a political dimension.
Erosion of press freedom is the standard mantra of the activists. I’ve asked this question several times ... “Can you cite me a specific example of a story or commentary suppressed?" I'm still awaiting an answer.
Naturally, allegations about dark forces operating behind the scenes garner headlines. But I’ve not seen a tangible example of a killed story. We know that journalists face pressures. That's not unique to Hong Kong. I've not seen a Hong Kong reporter have the microphone snatched away yet.
By any measure, Hong Kong has a robust press corp. They are vigorous in their activities although lacking professionalism at times. You only have to look at the ‘Apple Daily’ or the so-called ‘Hong Kong Free Press’ to witness agenda-driven reporting. Likewise, the US has a multitude of campaigning media outlets holding the government to account. A tie on that one.
I’d also put forward the following proposition. In the Internet era suppressing stories is near impossible. Currently, the Internet is hosting revelations about the terrible treatment of a deceased Hong Kong TV star. Hong Kong journalists are staying away from the story. Not so the Mainland media outlets. Is it that Hong Kong journalists lack courage? I don’t know the answer to that. Only they can tell us.
Nonetheless, questions remain. The disappearing booksellers rightly raised heckles. A kind explanation would be Chinese agents operating beyond their brief to stifle subversive books. The 'who will free me of this turbulent priest' defence. Whether this is the case, it remains a disturbing episode.
The Victor Mallet affair appears more about crossing a red-line and giving sinecure to the independence movement. The Foreign Correspondents Club wantonly taunted the government with consequences bound to arise. And there have.
In daily life, I can make a strong argument that Hong Kong citizens enjoy freedoms well above those of Joe Average in the US. For starters, our kids are free of fear of getting gunned down at school. They go to school to learn, and that doesn’t cover how to deal with an ‘active shooter’ on the premises. As a Hong Kong parent waves a child to school in a morning they can be certain little Charlie won’t die from a hail of bullets. Can a US parent be as assured?
In the US, there are 120.5 guns for every hundred residents. Hardly a week goes by without another mass shooting. Bars, cinemas, shopping malls, offices and schools all feature. A Washington Post study found over the past two decades more than 187,000 students attending at least 193 primary or secondary schools have experienced a shooting on campus. This year 32 school shootings took place with 90 injuries and 43 deaths. At times it looks like the US is at war with itself.
In the main Hong Kong enjoys freedom from the tyranny of violent crime. The streets are safe, public transport is safe. People go about their business unfettered. Our prisons are run in a humane manner. The staff and prisoners don’t face routine threats of violence or intimidation. The Hong Kong Police are civil, subject to close scrutiny and effective in keeping people safe.
Unchallenged protesters march here on a weekly basis. They disrupt traffic flows, block the pavements and create noise. Everyone gets on with it.
The UN Council talks about safe drinking water and sanitation. Those are a given here. Can the people of Flint, USA, be as comfortable? Preventable maternal mortality and morbidity sit high on the list of freedoms the UN Council cites. Hong Kong is near the top of that list with 1.8 deaths per 100,000, for the US the figure is 18.8. Likewise for infant mortality; Hong Kong’s rate is 2.7 deaths per 100,000, the US 5.8.
Of course, I'm cherry-picking my data. Nonetheless, I can supply a raft of figures across education, opportunities and health care that make a case for Hong Kong’s premier status.
Most of the activists attacking Hong Kong’s human rights operate with prejudices against the Mainland. Their motivation is to find a scintilla of evidence then blow it up. This is then used for political leverage. That strange creature ‘proportionality’ appears beyond them. Like all zealots on a campaign, there is a reluctance to engage with facts. Especially when facts are an irritation.
Granted Hong Kong is not beyond criticism. Far from it. But, nothing comes from these distortions. Those lambasting Hong Kong display a numbing conceit. I ask them “If Hong Kong is so bad, why are you still here?”
I'll start with an admission. I may have smoked a cannabis joint at university. I say may because it came around at a party and I’m not sure. Having consumed a fair amount of Southern Comfort and beer (never a good mix) I can’t recall the exact details. I do recall inhaling, unlike a certain US President. Furthermore, it’s impossible to have noticed any effects. My system was buzzing with alcohol.
That is the extent of my illicit drug consumption. These days my drug of choice is a decent single malt. Also, I’ve learnt to moderate my intake. Well, a clear head in the morning is something to be treasured.
Having steered two daughters through their teenage years with constant warnings and seen the terrible consequences for those who succumb, I’m reluctant about relaxing the law.
Thus, the recent announcement that Canada is legalising the use of cannabis raises mixed feelings. Let me state from the outset, no one should object to the medicinal use of marijuana. Under the control of medical professionals, applied in measured amounts it has considerable benefits. The medical evidence is strong that cannabis can relieve pain for people living with cancer to ease chemotherapy.
It’s also known that marijuana can worsen bipolar conditions, thus its a mixed story. On the medical risks, pot is less harmful than alcohol.
Recreational use of cannabis is more problematic. Like alcohol, this issue is an issue of moderation. Anyway, Canada has since October 17 legalised recreational use.
This decision appears in part due to the law being more observed in its breach. Even Jordan Peterson asserts this is a sound justification for relaxing the rules. I don’t agree. Taking things to an extreme, would we repeal the laws on murder because the practice became popular. Nor, am I confident that this isn’t part of creeping change with no red lines.
Indeed, I agree there are many valid arguments to support relaxing the law. Taking the drug trade out the hands of criminals is a substantial reason. That’s the most persuasive argument I can see. The government can then tax the activity to the benefit of the public coffers. Never missing an opportunity, Hong Kong hosted a cannabis investors forum this week. Cannabis is a new exciting commodity.
Also, relaxation of the law will allow a better-informed customers to understand what they’re consuming. Canada stipulates packaging must provide details on the marijuana strain and its strength. This labelling includes a disclaimer about the health risks associated with pot.
None of these positives can’t suppress my suspicion that legalising recreational use will invite a new set of problems. The long-term health impacts of cannabis remain in doubt. Likewise how the drug will change behaviour is an area that needs exploring. Granted most pot-heads are mellow types yet you wouldn't want operating complicated machinery.
Stepping back to take a broader view, I'm anxious that any relaxation opens the door to feed into a culture of impulsive pleasure. The libertarians talk of rights and freedom, and these are important, yet, responsibility must come into play. I do not see much of that discussion.
Nor are we talking about the cost of overindulgence? It’s the sober citizen who will need to pick up the pieces. The cops, the doctors, the nurses and paramedics are likely to feel the first impact. Later the courts and families get hit. Could we be asking ten years down the road was it wise to cross the line?
There are some positive signs out there. Recent studies identified significant declines in underage drinking in 20 of 28 countries. In countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Sweden, teen drinking halved. Rates of cannabis and meth/amphetamine use have also declined in the past decade.
There’s a global consistency of trends suggesting a shift in youth culture driving a change away from drugs and alcohol use. It’s speculated that kids are better informed about the risks. Many are making a lifestyle choice. They switch to exercise, eating well and avoiding alcohol and other drugs. This is a refreshing change.
It could be I'm missing the point here. The revenues from taxes that will result from the legalisation and sales of marijuana are a massive boost to Canada's coffers. Though estimates vary, recreational marijuana could generate upwards of US$5 billion in annual tax.
Thus, in part, the motivation appears to be fiscal. Yes the Liberals who are in power stand to gain by helping balance the budget. Which is troubling, because a drug policy harnessed to budgetary concerns put the government in the place of the gangs. Even Don Vito Corleone wouldn't touch the drugs trade. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is less reticent.
Events in Canada suggest that the supplies of cannabis are inadequate for demand. A roaring trade is underway. Meanwhile, we are unlikely to understand the full impact for some years. I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect the unforeseen will arise and Canada may yet regret this move.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, my WhatsApp sprung to life. In a matter of an hour, I received the leaked thoughts and instructions of a senior police officer. This all tinged with a mild tirade and a fair bit of vim. Mischievous former colleagues took delight in passing on these messages. It was all jolly fun with a whiff of a scandal in the air. Except, a more pressing issue is at play here.
WhatsApp is a powerful tool. It’s become the de-facto main means of non-verbal communication across many organisations. This has positive outcomes, and yet, as always, there is a downside. And that downside can be significant. Careers can get ruined, the organisation exposed to ridicule and security compromised. That’s not to mention the whole issue of data privacy.
At first, everyone assumed WhatsApp was a safe means of communication. After all, it’s encrypted. The publicity trumpets military-grade encryption. I’m sure it is. That’s not the point. The technology is superb, it does its job and does it well. The problem is human. People can and do take copies of what people say to share it. With an anodyne conversation or a bit of tittle-tattle, there’s no issue.
But, commanding a unit through WhatsApp is a different matter. I know, I've done it. Within any command exist jealousies, with a fair bit of infighting the norm. Thus a leader takes a terrible risk issuing directives or admonishments through WhatsApp. The possibility of a leak is high. Coupled with that is the habit of saying things online that you’d not speak face-to-face.
The app gives the impression of control, in reality, the opposite is true. Merely issuing a directive or order on WhatsApp is meaningless. There is no direct contact, no opportunity to read the face of the recipient to assess whether they've understood or agree. It's a blunt tool. There is no real-life relationship, no empathetic reading.
Added to that is the possibility of misinterpretation. A face-to-face exchange allows signals to be picked up that folks are uncomfortable. That’s why evolution made us this way. WhatsApp short-circuits that process, with potentially dangerous consequences.
It’s my observation that junior staff get debilitated by their seniors regularly using WhatsApp to issue instructions, guidance and generally interfere. It removes initiative. Juniors become automatons. They await directives from someone who is not at a scene and ill-placed to take charge. In the long-term, staff development suffers. Young supervisors never get the opportunity to command, make mistakes nor learn. For me, WhatsApp plays into the hands of the lacking-confidence micro-manager.
At critical times, the impact can be severe. With many overlapping WhatsApp groups operating, disruption to the chain of command is inevitable. Officers get bypassed, contradictory instructions go out, and misinterpretation leads to confusion. WhatsApp is those circumstances doesn’t help.
As a plotters tool, WhatsApp excels. Any aspiring officer needs to be conscious that things said on WhatsApp are retained for decades. That stuff can come back to bite them. There is no escape for deniability. You are at the mercy of those holding your words.
Managers and leaders need to use WhatsApp with discretion. It's a great tool that can make life a lot easier; it's also a trap. Use this simple rule: would I send that message on a postcard? If the answer is no, then maybe you shouldn’t say it on WhatsApp. Apply that rule, and you won't go much wrong.
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.
Walter De Havilland is one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Hong Kong Police.