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

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



Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Rotherham Child Abuse Scandal

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

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

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

 

Monday, 25 August 2014

The Middle East

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Ebola

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Isolationism

I'm beginning to believe in isolationism; Wherever possible we should keep out of other peoples' problems; we keep being told that we no longer have an empire so why should we continue to be the world's policemen?
Certainly our interventions have achieved very little; in broad terms this country's involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya can't be claimed to have improved things in those countries by any stretch of imagination. Indeed, all that it seems to have done is to turn Muslims worldwide against the West and against Britain and America in particular.
The Middle East problems at this time are clearly of great concern, a quasi-religious organisation going under the name of the Islamic State has captured large swathes of Syria and Iraq in the wake of the unrest in these countries. It has declared the new Caliphate will extend from the Mediterranean through to the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea where they intend to establish a most extreme form of Sharia Law. It seems to be getting organised, in that, what was a ramshackle mob in pick-up trucks, managed to cause the Iraq army in the north of the country to flee leaving them with a considerable amount of modern military equipment, kindly supplied by the Americans to the Iraqi army. They have killed huge numbers of people during their rampage which has received relatively little publicity compared with the assault by Israeli troops on Hamas in Gaza.
The only real resistance they face, at present, is from the Kurds and the Peshmerga fighters. However their weapons are old fashioned and the don't have the armour and longer range weapons available to their attackers.
The other quandary is Syria, where the whole problem started. Thankfully, our Parliament voted against providing arms and assistance to those fighting Assad which, for once, seems to have been the right thing to do as these are the fighters which have now become the forces of the Islamic State. I am aware that Assad in Syria is a nasty bit of work, but until the so-called "Arab Spring", he maintained law and order, and more importantly protected the minority religions.

My concern at the moment is that the government at this time seems to be simply watching events unfold and seems to have no clue as to what to do. Surely those responsible at the Foreign Office, Intelligence Services and the Military should be conducting a serious study of the different possible scenarios that might develop in the Middle East along with a further study of the threats posed by Muslim extremists within this country? In my view, Cameron should be kicking people into action, not surfing from a Cornish beach.

The next problem area is Ukraine, and here I'm in favour of an total policy of non-involvement. What have the events in Ukraine to do with us? We have absolutely no interests in the area and if Russia wants to take over Ukraine, so what? How does it impact on this country? It seems to be a corrupt basket case of a country and why the EU wants to get involved beats me and gives yet another reason for wanting to be out of the EU.

Meanwhile, I would observe that haven't read any reports in the media that "Baroness" Warsi, or any of the Muslim MPs have expressed their concern over the murder of James Foley. Indeed, I haven't read of any representative Muslin organisation in the UK which has expressed any regrets, which I'm sure must be a matter of concern to many people.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Shopping

It was decreed by Mrs EP that we would go into the nearest town to shop for some clothes. I apparently needed some new trousers and slippers and she needed sundry female items.  As the bus stop is only about five minutes walk from home, we decided to take advantage of our pensioners' bus passes, which, if nothing else, saves the hassle and cost of parking.
My needs were easily satisfied, trousers from BHS and a pair of slippers for under a fiver from Shoe Zone. Then came the boring part, traipsing into numerous women's clothes shops and waiting whilst various items of clothing were tried on and rejected.

Which belatedly brings me to the point; When we were in the States a few years ago, all the larger women's shops seemed to have an area with chairs and magazines for the menfolk. Some even provided free coffee. Contrast that with here, very few shops have anywhere to sit, with the result that most husbands seem be urging their wives to hurry up and make up their minds. I'm sure that any shop which adopted the American approach would see an increase in business; given a comfortable chair and a newspaper to read I would be quite happy to wait whilst vital decisions were made about female clothing. Come on M&S, provide a few comfortable chairs for us husbands, it wouldn't cost much and could possibly do wonders for your falling sales.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Holiday in Cormwall

We've just returned from a couple of weeks in Cornwall. A couple of close friends of ours "emigrated" to Cornwall from Hertfordshire earlier this year in order to be closer to their family and they invited us to join then for a holiday.
The holiday season was starting, and whilst the towns were crowded, the countryside remains quite peaceful once you can get used to the concept of driving down lanes which are little wider than the car! Life runs at a totally different pace; at the local village shop you have to get used to the idea that, however long the queue, a chat at the counter is mandatory. No one seems to mind, it's just part of the way of life. Time seems to be unimportant, nothing happens at, say, three o'clock, it is always "three-ish" which seems to mean sometime between three and four! My friend wants some work done on his patio, and the local builder suggests he will be able to get round to it "October-ish"!

The village has most of the essentials that might be required on a day-to-day basis. Firstly, the shop cum Post Office, which seems to stock a huge number of items in quite a small space. If you are out when the postman tries to deliver a parcel, it is held at the shop for collection, not ten miles away in a sorting office at the post-town. There is a school for the children under eleven, although this was irrelevant to my friends whose youngest granddaughter has just had her 21st birthday. There is also a doctors' surgery, a "branch" of the main one in Truro and a friendly pub which sells decent beers and huge meals (the smaller meals for the "young at heart" were too much for me!). The village has a bus service, but as there are only three or four buses a day, so you have to plan carefully if you are going to use it.
The village church has six bells, and I was welcomed at their weekly practice, but unfortunately was unable to ring for the Sunday Service as we'd been invited to lunch by our friends' daughter-in-law. There are lots of activities in and around the area, indeed there are probably more than we have here as everyone seem to be involved in something or the other.
 
All this took me back to my childhood days when we lived in a small village in Northamptonshire where my parents had rented a cottage to get away from the bombing in London. I'm sure our friends did the right thing moving to Cornwall, it is nice to be close to one's family. If it wasn't that our own daughters/son-in-laws live and work in the home counties, I think we'd be off like a shot.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Home Office paedophile cover up?


Some 30 years ago, back in 1983, a Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens passed a bundle of papers to the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan containing allegations of paedophiles within Westminster. Lord Brittan has now confirmed he received a 'substantial bundle of papers’ from Mr Dickens when he was Home Secretary in 1983 and passed them to his officials for investigation.
So far, so good, everybody seems to be in agreement that far, but it is what happened after that seems to be a mystery, although the Home Office has now admitted that the Dickens dossier was subsequently destroyed.
These events have all the makings of a good conspiracy story and it has been announced that the Home Office is to appoint a senior legal figure to carry out a fresh review into how it handled a dossier. Other MPs are now demanding an " an overarching inquiry" into how abusers were allowed to operate within the public services in this country.

We seem to love enquiries in this country, all the way from Bloody Sunday to Hillsborough, Phone Hacking, the Iraq War, Jimmy Savile and now this. I'm sure they are all justified, the cost seems to be many billions and at times one wonders if there is not a better way of dealing with these matters.

The Daily Mail has an interesting piece. To me the more interesting part is not the story of  Sir Peter Hayman, but the attitudes of a large number of prominent people and how they "closed ranks" against this "working-class oik from  the North of England". Many are still around today and it is interesting to read what they said 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, I have a question of my own. If I were handing over a bundle of documents to anyone, I'm certain that I would keep photocopies. Surely an MP who had carried out all these investigations would have kept copies of the papers. So where are they now, or were they, too, destroyed by someone when he died?