And I thought our justice was colour-blind

Liam Stacy, a 21-year-old student, has been sentenced to 56 days in prison for racism. In other words, he has been punished more severely than most burglars, who, if you divided their sentences by the number of crimes they have committed, serve much less time per transgression. There is also another difference between burglary and racism, or should be as far as justice is concerned. The former is easy to define; the latter isn’t.

Let me remind you of the facts. A week ago the Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba suffered cardiac arrest on the pitch. His heart stopped for 78 minutes, and only the timely and expert intervention by medics of the two teams involved saved his life. Though still in intensive care, he’s gettting better, thank God, to the joy of everyone who hates to see a young man struck down in his prime.

Stacey’s immediate reaction to the tragic incident was to get drunk and post an obscene message on Twitter, ending with the words, ‘He’s dead. HaHa.’ When Muamba’s friends, most of them black, took issue with the posting, Stacy responded with vile racial invective.

Louise Barron, acting for the prosecution, waxed indignant: ‘The recipients were disgusted.’ As well they should have been. I know exactly how they felt for I too find quite a few things disgusting.

I’m disgusted every time I see a picture of Tony Blair or Dave Cameron. I’m disgusted at the sight of architectural monstrosities disfiguring our cities. I’m disgusted whenever MEPs, 30 percent of whom used to belong to assorted communist parties, pass laws we have to obey. I’m disgusted when Maxim Vengerov, a tasteless vulgarian, is described in the Daily Telegraph as ‘the best violinist of all time’. And nothing disgusts me more than other reviewers talking about female pianists, such as Yuja Wang, in the terms normally reserved for describing pole dancers (not that she is artistically superior to pole dancers).

Yet whenever I feel that way I tell myself to grin and bear it. Much as I’d like to see those who offend me in jail, I know I won’t because their acts, though in my view reprehensible, aren’t illegal. There is, or ought to be, a difference between causing offence and committing a criminal offence. Stacy is surely a revolting excuse for a human being. But that by itself doesn’t make him a criminal. What does then?

The definition of racism, or racialism, as it should be properly called by those who haven’t succumbed to American usage, is too vague to be enshrined in British law. In this country people traditionally haven’t been criminalised for what they think, feel or say — provided that what they say doesn’t constitute incitement to commit the sort of crimes that are covered by the Decalogue, and I don’t mean those of the misdemeanour variety. No press coverage I’ve seen suggests that Stacy’s rants fell into that category. Neither District Judge John Charles nor the prosecutor claimed they did. So what did they claim?

In his concluding remarks Judge Charles said, ‘At the moment not just the footballer’s family…, but the whole world were literally praying for his life, your comments aggravated the situation. I have no choice but to impose an immediate custodial sentence to reflect the public outrage at what you’ve done.’

Let me see if I understand this correctly. Stacy’s comments ‘aggravated the situation’ — how? For whom? They didn’t diminish Muamba’s chances of survival, for I doubt he has access to the media in his intensive care unit. So whose situation was aggravated? That of the outraged public? But if so, one doubts that any permanent damage has been done: the public will have forgotten the whole incident in a week or two. It always does. One has to come to a conclusion that would have been unthinkable in this country even a few decades ago, never mind centuries: the judge ‘had no choice’ but to pass his verdict in response to ‘the public outrage’ of ‘the whole world’. For ‘the whole world’ (surely a bit of an exaggeration, Your Honour?) and the judge both worship at the altar of political correctness where the EU is high priest.

What has happened to the British? A nation hugely admired by all for its dignified self-restraint has turned into a mob easily given to mass hysteria expertly whipped up by TV and other irresponsible conduits of PC incitement. It started with the Goddess-Princess (‘People’s Princess’, in Blair’s asinine but politically effective term), when she still lay dead oozing ichor on the grimy Paris tarmac. It went on with various pop celebrities, such as Amy Winehouse, who was, nil nisi bonum and all that, truly hideous. Fluffy teddybears, oceans of flowers and, in Amy’s case, bottles of the beverage that did her in acted in the capacity of sacrificial lambs dragged to the altar of emotional incontinence and rotten taste. And now it’s Muamba, who is still alive and, God willing, will stay that way.

There is a difference between sentiment and sentimentality, and as a rule they are mutually exclusive. The mourning sickness of the mob doesn’t spring from any true trauma or any genuine grief. It’s a manufactured rite of passage, a statement of belonging to the High Order of Modernity. Excessive outrage at ‘racism’ is the same sort of thing. But surely, regardless of popular outbursts, our justice system outght to be dispassionate and objective?

And so it would be — if it were indeed our justice system. If it had indeed evolved out of the millennium of British legal tradition rather than representing the dictatorial urges of EU federasts wishing to put their foot down every which way they can. Creating bogeymen out of ‘racists’, ‘mysoginists’ and ‘homophobes’ is a proven trick, guaranteed to work with our brainwashed masses.

Hating people for something they can’t help, such as the colour of their skin, is truly revolting. And being drunk is no excuse — booze only opens the floodgates for the putrid emanations of something that’s already there. But if such hatred isn’t expressed as incitement to violence, it must not be criminalised in a free country. You know, the kind Britain used to be.




Call yourself British? Stop.

Britishness can’t be defined in strictly genetic terms (good job too, as far as I’m concerned). The concept is inseparable from the country’s unique system of justice that has evolved over at least eight centuries to mould the British character and be in turn moulded by it.

England is one of the few countries that have historically realised the ancient Roman principle protectio trahit subjectionem et subjectio protectionem (protection begets allegiance, and alllegiance begets protection), and no other European country has realised it so fully and over such a long time. An Englishman has his iron-clad rights (not to be confused with nebulous ‘human rights’), and he’s entitled to the protection of the crown for as long as he remains loyal to it.

Perhaps the most important of these rights is the inviolability of an Englishman’s person — he is protected from unlawful arrest and incarceration more securely than most other Europeans. This applies universally: not only does the Crown extend its protection domestically, but it has always been committed to looking after British subjects travelling abroad.

In practical terms, this commitment took the shape of cannon boats, sailing into foreign harbours and levelling their main calibre at the cities where Englishmen had been abused. Amazingly, such demonstrations went a long way towards foreign lands hastily admitting the error of their legal ways, and who says they can’t learn. There was also a strong preventive effect: when a British subject was once arrested in Turkey in the late 19th century, he was released with profuse apologies the moment his captors realised he was indeed British. One just didn’t mess with the British Empire in those days.

As I mentioned earlier, this unwavering devotion to protective justice has become an essential part of the British national character. If you agree with this, then logically you’ll also have to accept that this character is bound to become less British once such safeguards have been removed. As they have been in the EU.

Any British subject these days can be subject to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW). That means the British government has to extradict any citizen wanted in, say, such known bastions of legality as Rumania or Greece on a charge that doesn’t meet the legal requirements that our own CPS has to follow. Specifically, the EAW has no requirement for prima facie evidence, without which no magistrate in Britain would ever issue an arrest warrant.

Once an EAW arrives at these shores, the British government is helpless to protect a British subject. All HMG can do is make sure that all the forms are filled in correctly and the name of the accused isn’t misspelled. If such minimum conditions are met, off he goes — in all likelihoood to face months in a rat-infested hellhole of a prison in a country that thinks habeas corpus is some sort of Roman temple.

That’s what happened to Andrew Symeou, a 22-year-old visitor to Greece, arrested in 2009 for a crime he didn’t commit. His two friends were beaten up by Greek policemen and forced to sign accusatory statements written in a language they didn’t understand. Symeou then spent a year in a hellish cell he shared with murderers and rapists, where his most elementary rights were abused every day. Protests, both by him and his government, fell on deaf ears. Greece could not possibly have violated anybody’s rights, HMG was reassured, because she had signed the 1998 Human Rights Act. Oh well, that’s all right then.

When Symeou’s case eventually went to trial four years later, even the prosecution demanded that he be acquitted. So justice was done in the end. Except that it wasn’t British justice that has historically tended not to destroy a young man’s life on flimsy or nonexistent evidence.

This is far from an isolated case. Other British travellers (for instance, Ben Herdman, 20, again in Greece) have been falsely accused and held for months in countries that don’t know what habeas corpus is. As France, where I spend several months a year, is one of those countries, you’ll know what has happened if you don’t hear from me for a few months. In all likelihood I’ll be arrested for expressing anti-EU sentiments, which will be a crime soon, if it isn’t already.

The EAW isn’t the only outrage that HMG has allowed the EU to inflict upon loyal British subjects. In fact, 84 percent of our laws now come from Brussels, and these have put in place such abominations as rules governing fines and freezing of assets, the European Investigation Order, to which our coalition government chose to ‘opt in’ as one of its first acts, and numerous other instruments of legal torture our own spivocrats have placed into the hands of their continental colleagues.

The astounding thing is the unity displayed in such matters by our three main parties, which after all are supposed to represent different sections of the British electorate and different political philosophies. But they don’t bother their pretty stupid heads about such matters: they are all solely motivated by power, and thus any accountability to the people is anathema to them. In that sense, the EU is a godsend for those spivs: while still in office, they can bypass the people who have put them there; and when finally kicked out, they’ll find a nice little earner in Brussels or Strasbourg.

The UKIP is the only party that consistently opposes the gestation of a European police state with its burgeoning sway over British subjects — and, if every poll I’ve seen is to be believed, it’s the only party that reflects the consensus of our population on this subject. But the UKIP will never form a government; single-issue parties just don’t. Its best hope is to syphon off enough votes from the Tory spivocrats to hurt them in the only area they care about: self-interest. Godspeed to the UKIP in this, though the harsh realities of life have taught me to be pessimistic.

Meanwhile, perhaps it would be a good idea if we stopped calling ourselves British. Nations can’t be deprived of their formative characteristic and expect to remain intact. Frenchmen wouldn’t be French without their cheese and wine. Italians wouldn’t be Italian without their opera and pasta. Germans wouldn’t be German without their music and household appliances. And the British wouldn’t be British if deprived of the greatest gift the country has given to the world: just and equitable government.



Ed Miliband and the hand that feeds him

On a purely personal level, one can understand Ed Milband’s reluctance to condemn the impending strike of petrol-tanker drivers. After all, their union, Unite, is the biggest paymaster of the Labour party in general and Ed’s election campaign in particular. Under such circumstances, expecting from him a ringing denunciation of the proposed action would be presuming too much on human goodness.

And nor can a realist expect that any politician, regardless of his party affiliation, would these days act  out of anything other than personal interest, narrowly defined as hanging on to power. In this case, of course, Ed’s ideological DNA comes into play as well — socialists of any hue, and Ed’s is among the reddest, feel about industrial action the way conservatives feel about tax cuts: as something to be welcomed ipso facto, regardless of any attendant considerations.

Never mind that the proposed strike could well paralyse the country at her time of great need, mostly punishing those same ordinary folk in whose name Labour seeks power. It’s not for nothing that Labourites sing the Internationale at their party conferences and wave their red flags. They live by the old Leninist maxim: the worse, the better. The worse off the country will be during and following the disruption, the more troubled the waters in which assorted lefties can fish.

It has to be said that not all strikes have this desired effect. For example, when Belgian doctors went on strike in 1964, the results were astonishing. In the six months that they stayed off, the mortality rate in the country registered a statistically significant drop, prompting the Serbian philosopher Ivan Illich to opine that most diseases are iatrogenic, that is, caused by doctors.

That example aside, and I wouldn’t want to be the one to put Illich’s theory to another test, there is a strong argument that strikes by vital public services — policemen, firemen, doctors, ambulance paramedics and so forth — ought to be banned. One can suggest that also included in this category should be a strike that may make the vehicles driven by those people run out of fuel. This argument lies on the surface.

However, if we were to delve a bit deeper, we might well ponder the very institution of labour unions. This is not to deny that during the Industrial Revolution trade unionism had a useful role to play. As millions of workers were routinely used to perform mechanical tasks requiring little skill, each individual worker had next to no bargaining power. They were all easily and instantly replaceable. That handed inordinate power to the employers, and, in a free society, any inordinate power must be checked. Hence trade unionism, which in those days performed the truly conservative function of securing individual liberties (the methods employed by the unions weren’t always conservative, but that’s a different story).

Things have changed though — enough for us to know that, as labour becomes more and more qualified, labour unions become more and more redundant. For example, university professors can under no circumstance be regarded as merely faceless cogs in a giant machine, and yet they too have their own union. If someone is among the few people in His Creation who understand quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity and how they just might be at odds, then surely such an overachiever (don’t you just hate them?) ought to be able to negotiate his own pay deal? The same can be said about most people who are gainfully employed, whose relative number is diminishing in proportion to the growth of union power.

In our post-industrial age, labour unions are an anachronism, there to remind us that, like death and taxes, modernity never relinquishes what it claims. Gone are the industrial conditions that brought unions to life, and their claim to existence is becoming ever more fraudulent. When an instituiton finds itself in such a situation, it has to justify its own existence at all costs. After all, why should union leaders be any different from the spivocrats who govern us? They too want to cling on to power, and their ability to do so depends on their potential for stirring up trouble, the more disabling the better.

Though I’m not an unequivocal admirer of Margaret Thatcher, she understood all that, which is why she faced up to the unions with her usual firmness. Many people assumed then that the ubiquitous, malevolent presence of the unions in Britain’s life was thus a thing of the past. Little did they realise that all the unions had suffered was a temporary setback. They are back in force now, having rebuilt their semi-atrophied muscle. And the salient difference is that today’s spivocrats are no Lady Thatcher.

Meanwhile, it’s 2000 all over again, and whoever sells jerrycans must be doing brisk business. Well, it’s good to know that there’s one business sector that stands to benefit from the strike. The rest of us must train to be able to walk long distances. It’s good for you.



Moscow on the Thames

In 2006 Paul Khlebnikov, the American editor of the Russian edition of Forbes, was killed in the centre of Moscow. The Russian police immediately spread rumours that the journalist had fallen victim to a jealous husband. The story didn’t quite ring true, considering that the drive-by murder involved two submachine guns. Even assuming that two wronged husbands had got together, one still doubts they would have chosen submachine guns to exact their revenge. Automatic weapons are hard to come by even in Russia, and it takes some training to know how to use them.

Whoever put a short burst into the torso of the Russian exile Gherman Gorbuntsov in the Isle of Dogs yesterday was clearly a competent man. The same adjective could be applied to our police who, unlike their Russian colleagues in the Khlebnikov case, instantly stated that they were treating the case as attempted murder. And there we were, thinking it ought to be treated as a tax-disk violation.

One has to say that, by the standards of the Russian finance industry, the ex-banker Gorbuntsov had it coming. After all, he broke the laws governing that and other businesses in Russia by ratting on his ex-partners who had allegedly been involved in a gun attack on another banker, Alexander Antonov. As a result of Gorbuntsov’s transgression against the Russian answer to omerta, the case against his colleagues was reopened. Clearly, a submachine gun was the only possible response. Wouldn’t our own pinstriped City folk do the same thing?

Not by way of countenancing the attempted murder, one has to say that Mr Gorbuntsov himself can hardly be confused with your average altar boy. Before becoming a ‘businessman’ he had served some prison time in Russia. Though the papers don’t specify his offence, I have this inner voice that tells me it wasn’t dissent against human-rights violations.

Gorbuntsov is clearly part of the unholy alliance between the KGB and the criminal underworld that has been running Russia since the ‘collapse of communism’. Wise to the ways of his country’s business life, after having given his testimony against the other bankers Gorbuntsov escaped to London, shedding billions along the way. ‘Had I stayed in Moscow, they would have killed me,’ he told his friends.

Alas, little did he know that London is becoming an extension of Moscow, and what our papers insist on describing as ‘business disagreements’ can be settled here just as easily as in the Russian capital. The manner of settlement can sometimes involve our courts, currently featuring the protracted litigation between Berezovsky and Abramovich, and about to feature another one, starring Lord Mandelson’s best friend and sometime host Deripaska.

Barring that, it is radioactive substances that may act in the role of judge, jury and executioner. Or else the more traditional submachine gun can see the light of day. One wonders how long before Russian businessmen, bankers and entrepreneurs turn London into the Chicago of the prohibition era, with law-abiding Englishmen scampering about, trying to evade the hail of bullets unleashed by parties to a business dispute.

Lest you might get the impression that the Russians discriminate against their own land by exporting their fun and games to England, rest assured: they keep enough back. Several cases have caught my eye in the last few days.

On March 17, an off-duty sergeant in the Moscow police was touched by the fender of a car driven by a man who clearly hadn’t mastered the art of parking (which isn’t surprising, considering that a bribe is the only qualification required for obtaining a driving licence in Moscow). After a heated argument involving the two men and their wives, the policeman pulled out a gun and killed the hapless driver where he stood. Suddenly one begins to look at our own traffic wardens in a new light.

Two days ago, two Daghestanis were arrested in Moscow and charged with four homophobic murders. Apparently, their victims had been tied up, gagged, beaten and strangled. As a nice touch, they had also been raped, suggesting that, unlike our own yobs, the Daghestanis express their homophobia in ways that are not only hair-raising but also somewhat illogical.

Another interesting case occurred in Kazan, the capital of the federal republic of Tatarstan. There a man with a bit of previous was wrongly accused of stealing a mobile phone. In trying to get him to confess to that heinous crime, the policemen raped him with a champagne bottle, kept in the station specifically for that purpose. The victim died of internal injuries as a result, and this has turned out to be only one of many identical cases. In each, the murderous policemen were ethnic Tatars and their victims ethnic Russians, which should teach the EU that federalism isn’t without its pitfalls.

The reports didn’t specify the brand of champagne, but I bet it was neither Krug nor Dom Perignon. In all likelihood it was the undrinkable Russian variety, which for some unfathomable reason the Russians are allowed to call champagne. The Italians and Spaniards have to call their Astis, Proseccos and Cavas ‘sparkling wine’, but the Russians seem to be above such restrictions.

I too use a full bottle of the Russian stuff for purposes it wasn’t designed for. Having been given it some 15 years ago, I’ve been using the bottle ever since to pound meat, on the wrong assumption that this is all it’s good for.

I do apologise for my levity in commenting on these events. A way of preserving my own sanity, I suppose. And yours, come to think of it. One thing for sure — in Russia neither their business life nor their law enforcement is quite like ours. I hope we keep it that way.




We can knock the energy weapon out of the blackmailers’ hands

That energy can act as a weapon, especially of the blackmail variety, is a matter of historical fact. For example, when in 1940 the Soviets, having suffered a million casualties, finally managed to make headway in their war of aggression against Finland, they were ready to occupy the country. That courageous nation was about to become enslaved, suffering the fate of her Baltic neighbours Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.

However, HMG let the Soviets know that it would be so upset by such an outcome that it would vent its displeasure by bombing the Baku oil fields, at that time the principal source of oil in the Soviet Union. Thanks to that, Finland didn’t have to wait another 50 years to ensure her independence — oil was too valuable a chip for the Soviets to gamble with.

It has since been disclosed that Stalin’s plans to preempt Hitler’s attack involved a massive raid on the Ploesti oil fields in Rumania whence most of Germany’s hydrocarbons came. Some historians argue, convincingly, that it was precisely this threat that left Hitler no option but to preempt the preemptor by striking first, thus accepting a hopeless two-front war.

However, the Nazis still had a sporting chance of knocking Russia out of the war. All they had to do was take Moscow before the onset of cold weather, thereby hoping to make the Russians sue for peace. However, against his generals’ advice, Hitler rerouted much of his force southwards, away from Moscow. For the south was where Baku was, which is to say oil. That lack of strategic focus allowed the Soviets to regroup and stop the Germans at Moscow. Then it was but a matter of time.

After the war the demand for oil didn’t diminish, and neither did its aggressive potential. The Soviet Union was kept together, in addition to brute force, by the standing threat of shutting off the oil taps should the constituent republics become recalcitrant, a threat Russia still relies upon whenever the spirit moves her. Russia’s Arab clients too learned the trick of using oil for nefarious purposes — until most of them became so wealthy that they could stop being her clients.

With much of the world’s energy in the hands of powers congenitally hostile to the West, what could the West do to counter the threat? No Western government has the fortitude displayed by HMG in 1940, and, in a nuclear age, such an aggressive stance would be ill-advised anyway. But the nuclear age can produce not only bombs but also power stations, and this showed the way for the West to become less susceptible to energy blackmail.

Predictably, the Soviets whipped up a worldwide anti-nuke campaign, spearheaded in Britain by the CND, that training ground for the extreme left, otherwise known as today’s Labour back benches. Scary umbrellas were drawn above pictures of nuclear power stations, displaying that commitment to factual truth for which lefties are so justly known. Every child, unless he is comprehensively educated, knows that the uranium used to produce electricity isn’t purified to weapon standards and therefore can’t explode into the umbrella so dear to Tony Blair’s heart at the time. But never mind — repeat a lie often enough, and some will believe it.

Few people noticed at the time that, for example, while the ruling Communist party of East Germany was having nuclear power stations built all over the country, its West German agents were vigorously campaigning against such a development on the other side. The French, who are often able to separate their despicable politics from their commendable common sense, listened to the demonstrators, nodded and then proceeded to build enough nuclear stations to produce enough electricity to supply 85 percent of the country’s needs — and sell the surplus to Britain, where Jack Straw, Tony Blair and their comrades had done anti-nuke subversion more effectively.

Finally, we are waking up to the strategic significance of energy, and more nuclear power stations will be built — at a time when their cost is higher by orders of magnitude than it would have been when Tony still had long hair. People are finally realising that nuclear energy is the only effective alternative to hydrocarbons, even though wind turbines do have a potential, as demonstrated by the one that caught fire in Scotland a few months ago, thus providing an instant source of light and heat.

Not only is nuclear energy effective, it’s also safe by comparison to any other effective source. People brainwashed by anti-nuke propaganda routinely refer to Three-Mile Island or Fukushima as ‘disasters’ or ‘calamities’, making one wonder what terms they’d use for accidents in which people actually got killed. Conveniently forgotten is the fact that, over 60 years of nuclear power in the West, not a single life has been lost to an accident (those killed at Fukushima lost their lives to the tsunami, not the meltdown). The only accident in which many died was Chernobyl, which only goes to show that nuclear power can indeed become unsafe in the hands of a technologically backward nation.

Neither oil, with its capsizing platforms and exploding pipelines, nor coal, with its mine explosions and black lung, can boast the same safety record. Blank lung, for example, annually kills about 1,500 miners in the USA alone, and yet one doesn’t see too many demonstrations outside the pits.

Nor are the doomsday predictions of oil running out coming true. The estimates, mostly from advocates of putting flowers into our petrol tanks, are constantly upgraded: 30 years ago the oil wells were supposed to run dry in 20 years, now it’s 40, 50 or whatever figure those flower children can pluck out of the air. And yet new possibilities are opening up all the time. High oil prices, combined with technological advances, have made new exploration viable. Deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has become an attractive proposition, as has the tapping of shale gas and Canada’s oil sands. North America will be able to double its energy output in the next few years, thus disarming the energy blackmailers.

As with any strategic threat, that of energy blackmail has to be dealt with resolutely and intelligently. The first step is to realise that the threat indeed exists, and there are signs that Western governments are waking up to it. That’s the intelligence part taken care of. Now comes the resolve part, whatever’s left from politicking and getting into the US president’s bed (I’m not implying any sexual impropriety, as I hope you understand). That’s the real challenge.



Music isn’t music anymore

The other day I ran across a quote from someone named Pete Waterman. Since it appeared in a music column, I realised he was some sort of pop celebrity, which concept is defined as ‘someone I’ve never heard of’.

One of course doesn’t expect intellectual depth from a pop star, but Waterman’s words struck me for the refreshing cretinism going beyond even the demands of his field: ‘Music isn’t art,’ he said, ‘it’s for enjoyment… Music has always been written for a purpose, be it a wedding, a funeral or a birth, and people have always got paid for it. Mozart, Beethoven and Handel all got paid.’

Point made. Anything enjoyable produced for a fee isn’t art. In other words, art in general, not just music, doesn’t exist: after all, Velasquez got paid for those portraits of Philip IV, Tolstoy got a large fee for War and Peace and Bach raised his 20-odd children on the proceeds of his work.

So if art doesn’t exist, what does? Why, the music business of course. It has always been so, and Bach and Mozart working for subsistence wages are no different from the tattooed plankton paid millions for belching their I’ll-slash-you-up-bitch nihilism into microphones the world over.

Underneath the obvious symptoms of the speaker’s mental retardation, one detects something more pernicious: egalitarianism run riot. That the likes of Waterman can’t understand one iota of the divine inspiration behind, say, St Matthew’s Passion goes without saying. But, like a savage trying to eat a Stradivarius, they actively wish to destroy what they don’t understand. And they are encouraged in this gruesome endeavour by the whole ethos of modernity, devoid as it is of any conception of hierarchies. I like Amy Winehouse, you like Maria Callas — what’s the difference? We’re all equal, innit? None of it is art anyway, djahmean? It’s all cult personages earning a crust.

The cult aspect was already evident in jazz, the precursor of pop. Jazzmen could also attain cult status and, as the quasi-biblical figures they had become, they were identified either by their Christian names or nicknames: Oscar, Miles, Dizzy, Bird, King, Count, Duke. So, had pop not come along, jazz would have tried to take up the slack. But it would have failed.

The trouble with jazz is that it still requires some musical attainment from its practitioners. The best of them, such as Art (‘Tatum’) or Bird (‘Parker’), were first-rate talents. As far as modernity was concerned, this was a disqualifying circumstance. That sort of thing smacked of élitism, one of today’s most frightening bogeymen. Musically, however, jazz influenced pop quite a bit. Traces of swing or rhythm-and-blues are prominent in the output of the early pop stars, such as Elvis Presley or Chuck Berry. But even in those salad days of rock ‘n roll, music played second fiddle to the cult. Presley in particular became a Christ-like figure, even acquiring aspects of resurrection after his death.

This cult aspect of pop became particularly prominent with the Beatles, who started out as singers of cute little songs and ended up as false prophets, cult leaders of modernity. Somewhere along the way they acquired the help of musically trained assistants, so their later records display competent harmonies and even direct quotes from real composers, including Bach and Beethoven.

Paradoxically, it is precisely in their late albums that music, even at its most primitive, no longer mattered. No one listened to it any longer anyway. Instead, hysterical audiences of youngsters were hanging on to every garbled word of the semiotic message they discerned behind the expertly harmonised pulse. Unlike real music, the Beatles’ had no spiritual content as such. Theirs was a cult appeal, the marching orders screamed by a victorious modernity. In some extreme cases, the orders were literally understood and faithfully followed. For example, Charlie Manson and his ‘family’ went on a rampage of horrific murders partly as a result of the message they had perceived in the songs of The White Album.

While the Beatles still tried to preserve a semblance of musicality, their followers have abandoned any such attempts. More and more, pop began to acquire overtly satanist characteristics. More and more, it began to appeal not just to the darker side of human nature but to the sulphuric swamp concealed underneath it. The appeal continued to be quasi-religious, in the same sense in which the antichrist is the negative image of Christ. While Jesus redeemed his followers by dying on the cross, the messengers of the new god would commit suicide or else die of alcoholism, drug overdose or in due course of AIDS. Improbably, they were all portrayed as innocent victims of some unidentified enemy who, contextually, could only be the conservative establishment. So all those hideous Freddie Mercuries and Amy Winehouses gave their lives for a good cause. They are martyrs at the altar of hatred.

In the process, pop has become a big business, perhaps the biggest of all. Illiterate, tone-deaf adolescents can become billionaires overnight, provided they can tickle the naughty bits of their mass audiences in a particularly effective way. They belch their anti-capitalist invective all the way to the capitalist bank, and many critics sneer at the alleged paradox. There is none, as Waterman unwittingly confirms.

For modern people, including ‘musicians’, don’t make products. They create markets and sell brands. They slap together sub-cultures. They fuse the markets and the sub-cultures into a uniform whole. In this case, pop music is only a part, although the most important one, of what passes for modern culture. It’s the heart of the new Leviathan whose tentacles are numerous and ever-reaching. Pornography, fashion, show business, a great part of the publishing and record industries, electronic media including the Internet, drugs – all reach for the immature hearts and minds of our young.

As in any other area of life, the dominant system affects all others. So classical music too has become a business, rather than art. Musicians have always been paid, Waterman is right about that. But in the past they were Rachmaninov and Glenn Gould. Today they mainly fall into two groups best exemplified by Lang Lang and Imogen Cooper — with the first displaying talents more appropriate for a circus ring than a concert platform, and the second playing with all the verve of your average schoolgirl. Doesn’t matter — they are not artists. They are brands. And we, ladies and gentlemen, aren’t listeners any longer. We are punters. So perhaps Waterman isn’t so stupid after all.




Yo, Dave! You’re well and truly tucked up.

Not a good few days for our PM. First he displayed filial devotion to ‘Barack’ by letting the President put him to bed. That’s what parents do for their children — didn’t Larkin write ‘They tuck you up, your Mum and Dad’ (or words to that effect)? So the hierachical relationship between the British Prime Minister and American President has been clarified (as if it needed clarification): the US is the father, Britain is the son, sometimes slightly naughty but mostly loyal and obedient.

Those of us who still have any taste left had a distinctly emetic reaction to the Barack-Dave love-in. In any case, without going into the nitty-gritty of the ‘special relationship’, one can observe that it’s rather one-sided. I don’t recall any instance in the last, say, 20 years when Britain’s stand made the US change its policy one way or the other, while examples of developments with the opposite vector are too numerous to mention.

Now it has been made clear why: a father (‘Barrack’) has the right to tell the son (‘Dave’) what to do, but not vice versa. One just wishes that the two chaps didn’t rub it in in such a perfectly nauseating manner. You both went to decent schools, gentlemen, didn’t you pick up some modicum of aesthetic sense? Good job we were at least spared a reenaction of Bush screaming ‘Yo, Blair!’ at Dave’s role model.

And that’s not all. First Dave makes a ludicrous spectacle of himself across the pond, then on his return the same thing is done to him by the European Courts of Human Rights. The day that abortion of an outfit comes across as more conservative than the British ‘Conservative’ Prime Minister is when there ought to be much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. So take out your handkerchief: the eurojudges have ruled, correctly, that same-sex marriage is not a human right.

So Dave doesn’t have a natural right to marry George in ways other than those figurative ones in which they are already married. In a way I’m sorry: it would be a sight for sore eyes to have Obama escort either of them down the aisle to the sound of ‘Here comes the bride’. But the federasts made a telling point: allowing civil homomarriage would instantly invalidate any pledge to keep that abomination out of the church. Any church refusing to sanctify such a union would be instantly sued for discrimination, and lose.

Moreover, the law of unintended consequences would predictably add all sorts of nice touches to the outrage: when you undermine an institution going back 2,000 years, there’s no telling what would happen next. Would it not, for instance, be discriminatory to ban marriage between a man and his Labrador retriever — as Florida’s Supreme Court did last year? I know it sounds ridiculous, but all sorts of ridiculous things become possible when tradition is smashed to bits. Whether Dave does the smashing in spite of being a conservative or because of it, is immaterial.

Times, they are a-changing, as Barrack’s favourite singer would have it. Alas, with this kind of government at the helm, they can be guaranteed to change only for the worse.




The Dave & George budget supermarket

I never tire of reminding myself that everything our illustrious politicians do pursues one aim only: reelection. Regarded in that light, Dave and his merry men are doing famously. They are proving yet again that they are hopeless even in their chosen field — not that any further proof is necessary, seeing how they failed to score an outright victory against the worst and the most subversive government in British history.

First, they alienated millions while securing the votes of those few hundred homosexual couples who wish to be pronounced husband and husband or, as the spirit may move them, wife and wife. They could then adopt children and in due course teach them about birds and birds, or alternatively bees and bees. I’d say their votes are in the bag. Ed Miliband, watch out.

Now Dave and George are out to woo an admittedly larger section of the electorate: people with learning difficulties. For it takes a history of serious academic underachievement not to see through the ploy of the ‘transparent’ budget. It is indeed transparent, but not in the way they are suggesting.

The ploy is to turn the impending budget into a simulacrum of a supermarket, where the cost of every item is clearly posted for all to see. Dave and George have nothing to hide: they’ll let us know exactly where every one of our tax pennies goes. Now, assuming that the figures we’ll get are true — and this assumption isn’t based on irrefutable historical evidence — this arrangement is indeed similar to a supermarket. Except for one minor point: in a supermarket we can decide against buying a pound of mince and put it back on the shelf. The Dave & George budget supermarket doesn’t give us this option — what you see is what you pay.

But do let’s indulge our wildest fantasies and imagine that we could indeed tell them what looks good enough to eat and what seems a bit rancid. First, we’d notice that the welfare we’re mandated to buy costs about a third of our tax outlay, which, at some income levels, is twice as much as our defence and public order combined. This is a rotten deal.

It’s a bit like a real supermarket telling you that with every shopping basket of food you must buy DVDs costing twice as much. You didn’t go to the supermarket to buy DVDs — you were under the impression that flogging such items is outside its core business. Similarly, governments were instituted first, second and tenth to provide for their citizens’ safety from both external and internal menaces. That’s what governments are mostly for, everything else is gravy, to extend the food metaphor.

A cursory glance at our governments’ record over the last generation will show that they all have been remiss in this area. As a result, our defence capability these days roughly equals that of Wessex when it was still a separate state — for example, under no circumstances could we now launch anything like the South Atlantic operation of 30 years ago. In parallel, Britain has secured her position in crime, an area where we comfortably lead every Western country (for instance, France by a factor of two).

At the same time our incontinent social spending is acting like a magnet for welfare spongers from this country and all over the world. In any case, it’s not the goverment’s core business to provide for redistribution of income any more than it’s a supermarket’s trade to sell knickers and slippers. The same analogy as before works here too: we don’t have to buy knickers at Sainsbury’s, but we do have to look on helplessly as our hard-earned money is yanked out of our pay cheques and given to those who have neither earned it nor have the slightest intention of ever doing so. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be any social spending at all — only that it’s defence and public order that require twice as much spending as welfare, not the other way around.

Interest on the national debt is another item on the shelf that costs more than defence, and the reason for the high price tag is directly linked to the outrage described in the previous paragraph. For it’s to satisfy its egalitarian (or rather vote-winning) cravings that the state has to print money like it’s going out of style and borrow it like there’s no tomorrow. So reducing the welfare budget by about two thirds would kill two birds with one stone: it would eventually get rid of the debt, thereby eliminating the need to service it, and free up the funds the state needs to provide for our protection. As a side benefit, those two birds will be followed, out of solidarity, by a few others, such as the moral malaise of the nation, which is largely caused by all those thousands of strapping young lads on the disability benefit.

And then there’s that mysterious rubric ‘Other’, which presumably covers the running of such vital institutions as the Equality Department. A shopping tip: if you are looking for telltale signs of reduced freedom in a country, look no further than the existence of such government departments as Equality, Culture, Sport, and Environment. I’m all in favour of culture and sport, even though I may be lukewarm on environment and downright opposed to equality. But in all four instances, these things fall outside the state’s remit. We shouldn’t have to pay for any of them through our taxes — they are just sinecures for our assorted spivocrats, and, apart from that, the only role they play is destructive.

And don’t even get me started on such high-priced items as foreign aid and contributions to the EU. If these were eggs, we’d open the carton, catch the stench of sulfur and demand to talk to the manager. No such option at Dave & George. Thou shalt buy the rotten eggs, even if you then will have no use for them.

Yes, this marketing trick may attract buyers from the group of the intellectually challenged. But large though this group is, it’s greatly outnumbered by people endowed with reason, common sense and some knowledge of what governments should and shouldn’t do. Such people will realise they are being taken for a ride and steer clear of Dave & George. Or else, now they know where their tax money goes, they’ll work even harder trying to shelter it from the grubby hands of Inland Revenue.

Of course the danger is they’ll then shop at Miliband Bros across the street, or aisle as the case may be, where they’ll be cheated on an even larger scale. All this goes to show that, unless another supermarket opens soon, we run the risk of death by political starvation.




Archdruid Aneuri: Canterbury’s gain is Cambridge’s loss

In case you’re wondering, Rowan Williams, already the Archbishop of Canterbury, adopted the name of Aneuri when he became a druid. The monicker was chosen partly in honour of Aneurin Bevan, Dr Williams’s idol. Apparently neither his choice of a near-communist for the role model nor his urge to dance around Stonehenge on mid-summer’s day was seen as in any way contradicting Dr Williams’s ministry.

His announced resignation has prompted numerous comments, all following roughly the same pattern: an acknowledgement that Dr Williams is a brilliant mind and scholar, followed by a lament that he is regrettably misguided on whatever issue is the closest to the commentator’s heart. Add those diverse laments together, and one is bound to come to the conclusion that, in broad strokes, Dr Williams is misguided on everything. Thus the second part of the tributes refutes the first part, and you won’t find any disagreement in these quarters. After all, I still haven’t abandoned the view I expressed earlier, that lefties aren’t just misguided but actually stupid.

In this instance such an uncompromising view is supported not only by Dr Williams’s increasingly bizarre personal grooming but, more important, by his views and the way they are expressed. To wit:

‘In a church that accepts the legitimacy of contraception, the absolute condemnation of same-sex relations of intimacy must rely either on an abstract fundamentalist deployment of a number of very ambiguous biblical texts, or on a problematic and nonscriptural theory about natural complementarity, applied narrowly and crudely to physical differentation without regard to psychological structures.’

Excuse me? Can anyone please translate? First, biblical texts, from Leviticus (where homosexuality is described as an ‘abomination’) to Romans, are completely unambiguous on this issue. Second, natural complementarity isn’t at all problematic, for without it the human race — or indeed any biological life — wouldn’t exist. Third, linking this issue to contraception is a non sequitur whose sole aim has to be launching a veiled attack on Catholicism.

But above all else, how could an intelligent and educated man write such an English sentence? I understand that English isn’t Dr Williams’s first language, but surely he has had enough exposure to it by now not to put down unintelligible gibberish. Brilliant minds, which Dr Williams is universally credited to posses, don’t express themselves in such a crepuscular way.

His writing aside, even in his principal occupation Dr Williams is too busy being an Anglican to remember being a Christian. And whenever the two are in conflict (which these days they often are), the former trumps the latter hands down. For example, in 2009 he criticised the appointment of a lesbian assistant bishop in Los Angeles. Not on any Christian grounds, God forbid, but only because the appointment threatened the institutional cohesion of the Anglican church. However, he later realised that even such a meek objection called for a profuse apology:

‘There are ways of speaking about the question that seem to ignore these human realities or to undervalue them; I have been criticised for doing just this, and I am profoundly sorry for the carelessness that could give such an impression.’

The old stylist strikes again, as if to vindicate that old fox Talleyrand, who suggested that language is there to conceal our thoughts. Compare Williams’s muddled thought and speech with Dr Sentamu’s view on a related subject: ‘Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman.’ No translation necessary, thank you very much.

If the style is indeed the man himself (it was Buffon who said that, now I’m in a name-dropping mode), then Dr Williams presents a sorry sight. This is confirmed by the views he has expressed on all sorts of other subjects.

As a younger man, he was an activist in the CND, demonstrating outside American bases and getting arrested in 1985 for making a nuisance of himself. Now the CND was a training ground for the extreme left, and its links with some foreign intelligence services deserve more attention than they have so far received. Williams was in his mid-thirties when he was associated with it, so this can’t be put down to youthful indiscretion.

His subsequent response to Al Qaeda blowing up public transportation in London was to suggest that terrorists ‘can have serious moral goals’, and that ‘bombast about evil individuals doesn’t help in understanding anything.’ This is a Christian speaking? Never mind a priest? Never mind a prelate? The terrorists’ ‘serious moral goals’, assuming they have them, are indeed evil, as they are themselves. Surely a man in Dr Williams’s job should be familar with the concept of evil? If he isn’t, I’ll be pleased to provide scriptural references.

One hopes his wishy-washy response to that monstrosity wasn’t caused by a general sympathy towards Islam, a suspicion that could arise on the basis of Dr Williams’s comments on the sharia law. According to him, ‘certain provisions of sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law,… we already have in this country a number of situations in which the internal law of religious communities is recognised by the law of the land as justified conscientious objections in certain circumstances in providing certain kinds of social relations.’ Sorry to be quoting at such length, but I’m always transfixed on fine English prose. As I am impressed by a priest’s dispassionate comments on something he should anathematise.

Dr Williams’s reputation for scholarly achievement rests on his book on Arius and his doctoral dissertation on the brilliant Russian theologian Vladimir Lossky. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading the dissertation, but I have read most of Lossky’s work, and he’d be disgusted by everything Dr Williams stands for. And Dr. Williams’s views on Arius, represented schematically, are centred around the proposition that denying the divinity of Christ is no big deal, a result of an unfortunate misreading of philosophy, rather than a deadly heresy. I’m not about to discuss this issue on merit, although one has to suggest that such a relaxed attitude can’t possibly be a job requirement for a leader of a Christian denomination — especially one that claims apostolic succession.

All in all, I’m unlikely to shed tears when Dr Williams finally leaves his post. Magdalen College at Cambridge, whose Master he is about to become, is welcome to him. Good job I haven’t got a son who could become his student.







Give the police the tools to do the job — or the job won’t get done

Visitors to these shores are often amazed to see that British policemen, unlike their colleagues in other Western countries, are unarmed. When the bemused tourists voice their incredulity, they quickly realise that the quaint locals seem to feel that having a police force that’s underequipped and underprotected allows them to claim some sort of moral ascendancy.

It shouldn’t. The issue is free of moral implications — it’s one of those things that ought to be settled not on principle but on empirical evidence. Yes, a country where policemen carry no weapons because they don’t need them should be envied. But a country where policemen need weapons and yet aren’t allowed to have them should be pitied.

Britain used to belong to the first category, but it no longer does. Something is clearly not working, for our crime rate leads the Western world by a comfortable margin. France, with a population similar to ours, has half the number of crimes. And the United States, whose population is five times the size of ours, has only about 40 percent more crime — your parents would have laughed in the face of anyone citing similar evidence 50 years ago.

Moreover, assaults on our policemen, including stabbings, are becoming routine. Every time that happens, the mayor of the city involved expresses ‘shock’, ‘horror’ or ‘disgust’, offering — depending on the outcome of the attack — either sympathy to the officer or condolences to his family. Seldom does one hear any outrage at seeing those young men and, increasingly, women go underequipped and outnumbered into battle against vicious crime.

One does hear outraged gasps all over the place when the government tries to do something about it, such as proposing, meekly, the use of water cannon, which ‘would be valuable in a few rare situations’. Well, we do hope that such situations would indeed be rare — water cannon aren’t really designed to combat traffic violations or overdue tax disks. Their function is to disperse crowds of feral youths doing what comes naturally to them these days: looting, rioting, setting things on fire, paralysing whole neighbourhoods. And, though still relatively rare, such situations are becoming more widespread from one year to the next.

You know, the sort things they did all over London last August, beating, maiming, torching, tossing bottles and causing £200 million worth of damage — while in many instances police officers found themselves helpless to stop the marauding mobs. Hundreds of people lost their homes or businesses or cars, and next time it’ll be thousands, but our police are neither trained nor equipped to protect such people — and nor do we have a specialised riot force similar to the French CRS. Moreover, the latent feeling dug into the country’s grassroots over decades is that it’s not owners of homes, businesses or cars who deserve our support, but the rioters. Their bestial behaviour ought to be met with increased social payments, not water cannon.

‘Policing by consent’ (as opposed to by force) is still the buzz term, as if our society hasn’t changed since 1829, when Robert Peel introduced a professional police force in London, contributing to British slang two terms based on his name: ‘bobbie’ (rather nice) and ‘peeler’ (not so nice). Most Englishmen respected the law then; those who didn’t feared it; and it was clear to all that those who neither respected nor feared it had to be prevented from doing harm to those who did. Hence the police, and hence ‘policing by consent’.

However, now that Britain in general and London in particular have become hotbeds of crime, it’s a safe assumption that such consent is either muted or in many cases nonexistent. The ostrich solution to the problem won’t work — that’s bleeding obvious, as in the blood of riot victims and stabbed or ‘bottled’ constables. Nor will the situation be helped by insisting that policing by consent still has any other than the broadest and vaguest meaning (policing in the West is always by consent in the sense that the government, responsible for policing, governs by consent).

The issue, as I’ve suggested, is purely pragamatic. The task for the police is to prevent riots or, barring that, to minimise the damage they do. The size, training and equipment of the police force must be adequate to achieving that aim, for this aim must be achieved at all costs. As simple as that.

If it takes more policemen, fine. If it takes a specialised riot unit, excellent. If it takes water cannon, splendid. If it takes tasers, tear gas or — I can see the sky opening and the lightning coming down to smite me — firearms loaded with live rounds, then that’s what has to be done. I’d like to believe that there are enough people in Britain who possess more expertise than I do, or any other layman does, to assess the technical means commensurate with the tactical requirements. But the will to do what it takes has to come from the government that supposedly acts in the public’s interests.

It’s within those circles that the will is less pronounced than among the people at large, especially those who live in areas already devastated by riots or in danger of being so devastated next time. Witness Jenny Jones, who is a member of London’s Police and Crime Committee and the Green candidate hoping to drive Boris Johnson from his mayoral office. According to Miss Jones, equipping the police with water cannon is ‘a step in the wrong direction’ as it would constitute ‘dangerous escalation of police tactics.’

Really, Jenny. It’s not police tactics that are dangerous, it’s the mob’s bestial cravings. And we’re not talking machineguns and rocket launchers here — surely a bit of squirting water has to be justified if it can prevent what happened in Tottenham last August? Look at it this way: this would give many rioters a much needed shower, and surely we’re all in favour of responsible hygiene?

As I said, I don’t consider myself an expert on the specific techniques required to do what needs doing. Neither, one suspects, is Miss Jones. Where we differ is that I believe in public order, and she believes in mouthing meaningless bien-pensant clichés. Well, the time for those has passed. We’re entering — have already entered — troubled times, and the sooner we realise this the better. And when we do, we’ll know that police officers already have plenty of courage and determination. What they lack is the proper tools of their trade, and it’s our job to provide those.

Sounds logical, doesn’t it? Alas, when it comes to law enforcement, Bob’s never your uncle, and Fanny is never, ever your aunt. But Jenny is still the Green candidate for mayor of London.