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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Smellie verdict

I have just read of the ‘not guilty’ verdict after a Metropolitan police sergeant was seen twice striking a woman demonstrator, once with the back of his gloved hand and again with a steel baton. This is the BBC’s report including the video clip: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8597217.stm

Sitting without a jury after a four-day hearing with additional photographs to look at the judge was satisfied that the sergeant had acted in self defence. She was satisfied on a point of law so that is that.

I don’t have a great deal of sympathy with the way some protesters behave and less so when they sell their stories to the press after hiring media consultants but I find some aspects of this case puzzling based on the video footage, particularly the suggestion that the sergeant had ‘only’ 7 seconds to react having been approached from the side.

Count seven seconds. Anyone who has served in the Forces will know that is a long time to get your head blown off while under attack, especially when the attacker is holding a camera and a drink carton pointing away from you in a threatening manner. Also he had feared for his safety after becoming isolated from colleagues” even though he was able to retire behind their line afterwards so leaving his colleagues exposed to ‘the threat’.

Obviously we can’t believe what we appear to have seen so now that these actions are considered proportionate perhaps the force can be deployed to sort out the anti-social behaviour yobs that blight the lives of so many.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Scam Bags

Lately we have had two or three ‘Charity’ bags pushed through our letter box some weeks, the latest, from SHC Collections Ltd, is yet another from the sc*m of the earth.
According to their blurb “SHS Collection is a collection company who provide people in third world countries with clothes they can afford. This creates jobs for local people helping them become self sufficient not having to really [sic] on state handouts or charity schemes allowing them to take pride in their ability to provide for themselves and their families”.
Note my italics; these uncharitable people are selling freely donated clothes to poor people in the third world to profit themselves. They are just one of many organizations, mainly Eastern European apparently, taking advantage of British generosity to line their own pockets at the expense of the poor. Sadly most bags are not what they may appear and deprive charities of millions of pounds.
Before I put out a bag I always make sure it has come from a legitimate charity which will receive all the proceeds. In doing so I’ve found a useful site which is run by concerned volunteers and may be of use next time a bag drops through your letter box: http://www.charitybags.org.uk/index.htm

Monday, 22 March 2010

England Expects

According to The Telegraph it appeared that even in defeat England were the winners in the 2010 Six Nations climax in Paris on Saturday “taking the shine off France’s grand slam triumph”. Of course victory would have been complete if the referee had been on England’s side too - and let’s not forget the rain unfairly falling as it was only on the English to disadvantage them. Martin Johnson did his best to sort out the referee at half time but to no avail and his second bite after the final whistle was a late run.

With fifteen players on the pitch, equivalent to sixteen or even seventeen when ‘St.’ Jonny is on, plus three in the studio and, most important of all, the two commentators, Eddie (surely I'm English) Butler and Brian (only my opinion counts) Moore something went badly wrong. Could it be that the French didn’t understand that the English have a divine right to win?

During the 2010 tournament there have been many fine tributes to the voice of rugby, the late Bill McLaren. Did fair play die with him? Whilst naturally wanting our home team to win, a good game was more important. This was evident in Bill’s commentary. Saturday’s match was the complete opposite. It was ruined by one-sided, self opinionated drivel. It’s time for the two stooges to go.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

A Question of Balance

Once again I allowed myself to become irritated by watching Question Time on Thursday. It was like a repeat of the Carol Vorderman show in drag with that offensive little pip-squeak David Starkey ranting from a similar Tory election script. Whilst I welcome a variety of opinions (within reason) such tirades become wearisome especially when formed from a narrow historical perspective. Some will recall his 2009 dismissal of the Scottish, Welsh and Irish nations as ‘feeble’. People in glass houses….

Much was made by most of the panel, and the Chairman of course, of the links between the Labour party and its trade union sponsor Unite as a result of its dispute with British Airways. That was fair game but what are we to make of the report that the Tories have forced the BBC to drop their intensive investigation into the affairs of Lord Ashcroft in the run up to the general election? Can the implication be that they have something to hide? So much for transparency and balance.

Of course funding isn’t a problem for the really high earners in our society. A joke was made on Sport Relief last night that if every footballer donated a week’s wages we could buy Africa. Not being a fan of round ball games I may be biased but I find the astronomically high wages of footballers offensive especially given the bad example many of them set with their aggressive behaviour and disgusting habit of spitting all over the pitch which is then echoed by yobs spitting on the street and spreading diseases. “Spitting spreads germs” is a sign we ancients recall seeing on public transport.

Just as, if not more, offensive is the reported £60m bonanza for the president of Barclays. From the Telegraph: “The package is based on a £384,000 salary, but through a combination of perks including share bonuses, Mr Diamond could earn more than 150 times that amount”. Ignoring the perks, can anyone deservedly earn a salary sixteen times that of the average wage even if he does want to build the biggest investment bank in the world - especially if it is on the back of the tax payer as Vince Cable aptly put it?

David Cameron’s plan to impose a tax on banks to repay the billions used to bail out financial institutions is most welcome as is Alistair Darling’s expected Government support for a global bank tax. Whoever wins the next election and by whatever means, someone needs to do something about these greedy bankers.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

One Born Every Minute


Looking at this evening’s television schedules I see that Channel 4 is offering One Born Every Minute in which “a man struggles with the knowledge that his partner is pregnant with someone else’s child”. I don’t know why anyone would want to advertise that let alone enter themselves in the minor celebrity stakes but that’s life these days.

I have to confess that I haven’t watched any of these programmes but I know a midwife who has, driven as she was by professional curiosity. One glance was enough, appalled by the sight of a woman in the agonies of her labour being laughed at by the husband/partner and their teenage son. How entertaining.

Nowadays of course even the news is classified as entertainment. As Gorgeous (to some) George says when he has finished conducting his Six O’clock News slot, “Stay with us for all the day’s entertainment on the BBC’s News Channel”! Where will it end? I see that the Church of England is moving increasingly with the times telling people that they are “welcome to marry in the Church of England whatever your beliefs, whether or not you are christened and regardless of whether you go to church or not”: http://www.yourchurchwedding.org/youre-welcome/you-can-marry-in-a-church.aspx

That had me thinking that with a little more imagination the C of E could have pandered to people’s curiosity even further by providing facilities for the congregation to witness the consummation as well but of course that would usually have occurred much earlier in our more enlightened society.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Jubilee Debt Campaign: Vulture Culture Bill - Update

On Friday, 26th February I blogged on the Vulture funds which profiteer by buying up the debts of heavily indebted poor countries cheaply then seek to recover the full amounts, thus depriving the very poorest people in the world of the basic necessities of life while they wallow in the riches of their ill-gotten gains.

After slowing the Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill in its Second Reading it failed to pass its Third reading in Parliament when a single Conservative MP objected:

http://www.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/ACTION%201:%20Who%20Killed%20the%20Vultures%20Bill%3F+5572.twl

Coming from a party in which it has been estimated that two-thirds of the shadow cabinet are millionaires this block looks more than insensitive. No understanding of poverty perhaps?

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Sorry!


I’m sorry but yesterday’s excuses for failing to spot family abuse which had been allowed to continue under the noses of more than 100 officials for a quarter of a century sounded too hollow for me. What hope can there be for victims when they put their lives on the line to report abuse only to be ignored by the very people who are supposed to protect them?

This sorry state is symptomatic of a society which is obsessed with targets and box ticking. The easy option often gains rewards leaving weightier matters ignored with figures fiddled where necessary to obtain the required shine.

When things go drastically wrong there is the customary hand wringing statement of apology with the promise to learn lessons. They seldom do if recent experiences are anything to go on.

Postscript

With the ink still wet on the above post we read of yet another tragedy in the death of a long suffering disabled person whom it appears the police were unable to protect despite modern surveillance techniques. We defeated Hitler, we hope to defeat terrorism yet we appear unable to defeat the affliction that most are more likely to encounter. Something wrong somewhere?

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Question Time


For me, regular viewing on Thursdays was Question Time with its audience populated by posturing people proffering party political propaganda and populist piffle in the guise of enlightened debate. Alas no longer. Like many others I find the same old clap trap too much of a bore and bed time in a rage isn’t the best aid to sleep. However, nodding off as one does during the football item at the end of the 10 o’clock News I was aroused from my slumbers last Thursday evening by familiar music and the sight of an intriguing looking panel.

On the Chairman’s far left was the Lord Adonis, a misnomer if ever there was one even if he is referred to in the corridors of Whitehall as “Muscles”! Next was the long time favourite with her no-nonsense hair style, Shirley Williams, Baroness Williams of Crosby. She was to battle valiantly to restore some dignity to the programme but had no hope of victory.

On the right was the blond bomb-shelled Mayor of London, Boris, boosting buffoonery to new heights. One may have thought him the most disastrous representative of the Tory Party but worse was to come in the shape of their now red-headed Maths advisor, Carole Vorderman. I must admit she looked fantastic, especially for a woman pushing fifty; a real tribute to the make-up department. When she put on her scholarly spectacles she looked every inch the boyhood dream of the perfect school mistress only lacking a 12” rule in her hand.

Perhaps oddly placed on the far right was the self effacing ‘say it as it is’ Will Self who these days reminds me of Melanie Phillips. Not for looks which are a slight improvement but for her Zionist outburst on a previous show in 2001 when, if my memory serves me correctly, she described Will as a disgrace to Judaism (his mother was Jewish) for daring to disagree with her.

This time it was Carole’s performance that stole the show. I thought I may have been uncharitable, perhaps influenced by her much criticised high interest TV adverts which appeared to target the poor and needy, until yesterday when I stumbled upon an on-line article in the New Statesman (I have now added their Blog as an antidote to Cranmer for fear of being labelled) which not only mirrored my views but which attracted a large number of comments from the like minded.

When she opened her mouth the experience was a bit like an aural version of the days of the dance hall when, after tapping a girl on the shoulder she turned around and you almost exclaimed, “Oh, consonant, consonant, vowel, consonant!” But we were often surprised, reinforcing the view that beauty is after all only skin deep. But not this time.

Mr Dimbleby the Chairman never tires of telling his audience that the panel has no idea of the questions they are about to be asked but that doesn’t stop panellists preparing briefing notes, so comprehensive in Ms Vorderman’s case that on one occasion during her diatribe she appeared to have lost her place. Even the audience appeared embarrassed by her performance, no mean feat where extremist views are far from uncommon. As she snatched the pillock prize from an increasingly baffled looking Boris I concluded that, after all the furore of the parliamentary expenses row, this was to be the launching pad for a new political career. Surely something the Tory party would now be desperate to avoid. The Monster Raving Loony Party perhaps?

But the big question now is Has Question Time had its day? Despite some of the potty people who pander to popular public opinion it still provides an increasingly rare forum for public debate. So time for a change? My suggestion is that Mr Dimbleby gives up his public platform (with notes) and spends more time with his Land Rover travelling around Britain to bring us more programmes such his admirable Seven Ages of Britain. Any nominations for a replacement?

Friday, 5 March 2010

Women’s Day of Prayer


Today marks the worldwide Women’s Day of Prayer.

Four days ago on 1st March the people of Wales celebrated St David’s day. Today, 5th March it is the turn of David’s mother, St. Non. A nun of noble birth she was raped by the young son of the King of Ceredigion.

It still goes on today and in the most appalling circumstances. Yesterday a Guardian Blog entry appeared opposite. If you missed the harrowing story you can read it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/sarah-boseley-global-health/2010/mar/04/abortion-kenya Tab down to the first comment and click on the link to go to the Vimeo film clip.

On this Women’s Day of Prayer spare a thought for these poor girls in Kenya and for all other victims of rape and violence throughout the world.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Gay “Marriage” (2) – Wahee….!


The Independent reports that the amendment to the Equality Bill, which was tabled as a free vote by gay Muslim peer Waheed Alli, received overwhelming backing in the Lords, including from a number of prominent Anglican bishops. The report continued, “MPs are unlikely to oppose [the Bill] because the vote was so overwhelming in the Lords.”

In a previous Blog I predicted that civil partnership blessings would soon be turned into ‘weddings’. Within days pressure was building up to refer to these ceremonies as such and voices have grown ever stronger following the vote in the Lords. Some may regard that simply as semantics but more worrying from The Times,Church of England clergy will be sued for discrimination if they refuse to “marry” homosexuals under a proposed law, a bishop has warned. Other religious leaders fear that churches that refuse to bless civil partnerships might be forced to close”.

Such a shame to close churches after all the hard work put in by our American friend with her WATCH campaign, supposedly revitalising the church despite its dwindling numbers. Who will put the next nail in the Church of England's coffin I wonder? But I thought this quote from our Muslim friend took the biscuit, “Religious freedom cannot begin and end with what one religion wants.” – Waheed. I shall have to remember that one.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Glory - Lord - Dishonour

To put it mildly, the admission after ten year’s speculation that the Tory Party’s billionaire bank-rolling Deputy Chairman is non-domiciled for tax purposes must be as welcome to them as a sack full of manure breaking on the steps of Central Office.

Administrative changes may prevent us from ever knowing whether he broke promises made to receive his peerage but does it any longer matter in Great Britain where honour has been abandoned along with consideration for others?

Even the ‘Tory Party at Prayer’, the dear old Church of England, is without honour as it slips further into decline, breaking its promise of an honoured place for dissenting groups within their ranks as religion gives way to political correctness and feminist ideology in the guise of equality.

As Lord Carey told a meeting in the House of Lords: “Christianity, which has given so much to our country, is now being sidelined as never before as though it is a stranger to our nation”.

Decline is sad but without honour...

Monday, 1 March 2010

Happy St David’s Day!


As the people of Wales celebrate their Patron Saint’s day, spare a thought for those who struggle to keep the faith of St David in the face of oppression from within their own church.
David was born on a cliff top during a violent storm near St David’s, Pembrokeshire, around the year 500. He was a renowned teacher and preacher who spread the Christian faith founding monastic settlements in Wales, Cornwall and beyond. Under his monastic rule monks lived on a diet of bread and water, pulled the plough without the assistance of animals and spent their evenings praying, reading and writing.
In the twenty first century a boy from Neath, Barry, b.1947, now reigns over what has become a rapidly declining church in which liberalism and ‘relevance to society’ have replaced the missionary zeal of ancient days and politics are more important than religion.
Denied meaningful Episcopal oversight in their own church, those wishing to uphold the Apostolic faith abandoned by their bishops have joined other similarly minded Anglicans in the United Kingdom in exploring (without commitment) what opportunities are available to them simply by registering their interest on a web site: http://welshordinariate.blogspot.com/ [This new link replaces a link that has been lost. - Ed.]
Contrary to Christian teaching the petty minded Church in Wales’ establishment threatens the full might of the law against any ‘unauthorised’ use of their logo on this ‘unapproved’ web site. Clearly the pen has become mightier than the plough in the Church in Wales as it sinks into oblivion.
Happy St David’s Day!