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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Review: BBC3 ‘Make Me a Muslim’

A few years ago Channel 4 ran a short series of exactly the same title, but this one-off on BBC3 chose a different tack which proved to be even more trying than its predecessor. Still, although it was painful to watch, it was probably no more annoying than what followed it: the perennially unfunny Russell Howard.

‘Make Me a Muslim’ failed to be engaging. Like the young converts that it featured, it seemed to be covering up and keeping hidden far more than it was revealing. Although looking at the recent phenomenon of conversion to Islam in Britain, particularly amongst indigenous British women, the show (to call it a documentary would be a little too grandiose for what we were offered) was centred upon a 26-year-old model from a Pakistani background – Shanna – who described herself as “British”, “Westernised” and “a modern Muslim”. She freely admitted that she does not practise Islam much, and posed the question as to why young British women should choose to adopt a religion which imposes so many restrictions upon their hitherto free lives.

Throughout the programme, a narrator provided commentary in addition to the questions posed and opinions voiced by Shanna and her interviewees, setting out, presumably, to attempt to explain why an estimated 5,000 converted to Islam in the UK last year, with over half being white and three quarters of these women. Alas, as the programme progressed, it appeared that the personable Shanna was increasingly beginning to question her westernised approach, and by the end she was stating: “I kind of feel really weird” and “I feel a bit lost”, meaning that it had made her realise that she had been neglecting her faith. This was rather sad really, given that this young woman had already borne the brunt of an extremely nasty hate campaign from a number of Muslims for attempting to enter Miss Universe. The abusers routinely described her as a “whore”, and she received death threats, including threats of decapitation. To see her inclining towards a greater embrace of the backward misogynist belief system that nurtures such views was thus depressing.

Returning to the equally dispiriting matter of the indigenous converts, four were featured in the programme, as well as an Edinburgh resident of African background. One of the converts, rather like Yvonne Ridley, had affected a pseudo-Pakistani accent, and all of the indigenous four had donned the drab apparel of the ‘devout’ and ‘modest’ female Muslim. Seeing them coo about headscarves and other shapeless defeminising garments made me momentarily wish that the BBC3 crew would parachute in Gok Wan to give them a wardrobe makeover, but no, we had to stick with “the halalised” wardrobe as one of them put it.

The first young woman visited, 24-year-old Claire, lived in Bridgend with her parents, and said that she had been attracted to Islam because she is “quite conservative”, doesn’t like getting drunk and likes to dress “modestly” (did you hear that Gok?). As a consequence, the locals understandably look upon her as something of an oddity, a number of them, she says, thinking of her as being “a traitor”, which in a sense is rather a fair description given the fact that she has chosen to figuratively spit in the face of her own freedom-loving culture.

She formally converted to Islam last year, but her mode of dress had changed beforehand and she had affectedly decided to change her name, as would appear to be de rigueur in such cases, to Sophia. For her “All this stuff about women being oppressed [by Islam] is complete codswallop.” By this time, I was finding her mannered approach to this adopted belief system a little vexatious, as was her poor father who’s told her that Islam is a different culture: “but I did tell her, she is Welsh. At the end of the day, she’s got pretty hair, curly, like her old man. She’s got no reason to hide it, has she?”

Sound advice from dad, but this late-onset equivalent of teen rebellion won’t allow her to open her ears to him of course. Her poor mother, Gill, looked awkward when asked how the family felt about her daughter’s conversion, for she acknowledged that other family members weren’t happy. She said that she had read the Qur’an and didn’t see it as being that different from the Bible, and viewed its system of belief as being akin to “the old-fashioned Christian way”. It’s understandable that a mother should not wish to lose her daughter, so let’s just hope that she’s hanging on in there waiting for Claire to resurface once the Sophia identity is a spent force.

Shanna next travelled to Scotland to meet Alana, “a traveller, not a gypsy” by background, who converted two years ago. The media student really misses Parma ham, but following an encounter in Lanzarote all pork products are now haram, for it was there that she met Abdul, her fiancé, who introduced her to Islam. She has decided that they will have two weddings: one Muslim and one British, although nobody will be allowed to drink at the latter (so, come to think of it, the ‘British’ wedding will be Muslim too, and all the worse for it). Abdul will be pleased though, as he’ll acquire the right to a shiny new UK passport.

Alana was one of those people who possesses a ‘god-shaped hole’, but unfortunately in this instance, that wily old fox Allah appears to have crept into it and bedded down, at least for the time being. For ‘fun’, she likes to attend a weekly Islamic studies class, which scandalously takes place upon the premises of an alleged centre of learning – a university. There, she quaffs heady drafts of Quranic history and Shariah law. She would also like to study Arabic. Abdul will be delighted, particularly when this scintillating stuff of conversation is added to her ultra-drab halal wardrobe. With an existence like that, no wonder so many Muslims don’t appear to be that keen on life.  

Convert number three was named Lisa. She lives somewhere in the South (did somebody mention Slough? I can’t remember. If so, it’s probably best not to quote Betjeman’s most famous verse though: “Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough”). Married to a Pakistani seven years back, she got around to converting to Islam one year ago. Although she has three daughters and lives at home with them, she has never sat in the same room as her in-laws and the local Pakistani residents shun her owing to their intensely clannish racism and their preference for first-cousin marriage. Indeed, her ‘husband’ was already married to someone genetically near and dear when they ‘married’, so she is wife number two. Bigamy is of course illegal in this country, but anyone who works for the DSS in certain parts of Britain will of course be aware of a surprising number of Pakistani and Bangladeshi ‘single’ mothers claiming an impressive array of benefits for an ever-increasing number of children. Given that Lisa stays at home to look after the children, she may well be classed as one of these ‘single’ mothers and thus be claiming benefits upon the most dubious of grounds.

Lisa however, does not like being a “co-wife”, and she and wife number one really don’t get on. They loathe the sight of each other in fact, and unsurprisingly, do not live under the same roof. Why did she convert to Islam? Who knows? Does it sound like she’d have a rational reason? Not really. Does her husband care? Does anyone? By this stage of the programme I was seriously flagging. It was very, very dull viewing, but it was about to get duller: cue a trip to a small northern town in Greater Manchester to meet Inaya (I can’t remember what her real name was).

Inaya is not happy because she cannot find a Muslim husband and works in a call centre in Accrington (although to be fair, she did not cite the call centre job as a source of her unhappiness). She converted four years ago at the age of 22 “after going through a difficult time . . . [a] rough patch at home”. Why? She decided to convert as she thought that she would not be happy otherwise. That’s not really an answer, is it? Still, never mind. So, is she happy now? As stated at the beginning of this paragraph, she is not happy, as she cannot find a spouse. Of course she cannot find a spouse, for she has converted to Islam. For most males of the species that’s a pretty massive turnoff.

Inaya has been to Muslim speeddating events where prospective matches have been accompanied by their scowling parents who have been happy to notify her that she is variously too old, too tall and also likely to give up Islam (too white and thus fit only for a bit of casual ‘fun’?). As for online dating, she has found that Muslim ‘guys’ just want to have ‘fun’. Well, well, well. Indeed, so exciting has her new life as a Muslim proven to be, that her best friend has also converted, but we didn’t get to hear much about what she’s now not doing in her existence which was formerly a life.

Shanna next went to Edinburgh to speak to an African model named Aisha, but at that point it seems that I lapsed into a momentary coma, my senses dulled by nigh on fifty minutes of banal tedium. Why did BBC3 screen this? What was the point? As a piece of television, it did not work, and as a piece of social commentary, it was distinctly unsatisfying. Might it not have something to do with the fact that the BBC’s Head of Religion and Ethics is a certain Aaqil Ahmed? Now, which religion do you think he favours promoting? Does it give you a warm glow knowing that you have to pay for this propagandist nonsense to be made and broadcast? Bring back ‘Snog, Marry, Avoid’! As for the bunch in the programme this evening, my recommendation would be as follows: avoid! Evidence of more pro-Islamic BBC bias can be found here in connection with its promotion of 'World Hijab Day'.

For a response to the many comments below, see Meet the Islamoantipatheists.

Aaqil Ahmed: BBC Head of Religion and Ethics

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Bradford’s Muslim Grooming Gangs: have the politically correct blinkers been removed?

The Telegraph and Argus today ran with a prominent report on local MP Kris Hopkins’s contribution to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry into child grooming. Although it does not describe itself as investigating Muslim child grooming, which would be the case if this phenomenon were no longer being treated in a politically correct fashion, this is in effect what it is examining, following the recent scandals connected to such practices in Rotherham and Rochdale. Indeed, whilst this inquiry takes place the nine Muslim men arrested as part of Operation Bullfinch are standing trial for perpetrating this sort of crime in Oxford over a number of years.

Hopkins stated that over the past two months 30 people had been arrested in the Bradford area in connection with grooming crimes, and that there are also a number of “ongoing cases”. However, according to the Telegraph and Argus, he claims that this crackdown was evidence of the fact that ‘the days when alleged “political correctness” made the authorities reluctant to act were gone.’ Ann Cryer, an earlier incumbent of Hopkins’s Keighley and Ilkley seat, has also appeared before the Committee. She is quoted by the Yorkshire Post as stating that the inter-agency working necessary for tackling this and related problems simply “wasn’t happening” when she was an MP. Moreover, she drew attention to another repellent cultural aspect of the ‘community’ from whose ranks the grooming gangs originate: 
The West Yorkshire Police, Bradford local authority, social services, schools, hospitals even – because abortions were taking place – none of them were working together. None of them were giving information. I feel pretty convinced that at that time there was a fear of being called a racist.
There still is such a fear Ann. Ask anyone who works in the public sector and who has to pay at least lip service to the irrational diversity dogma that is thrust upon us. Criticise Islam or associate any negative practice with it and you’ll find yourself in pretty damned hot water very fast. If you offend a Muslim colleague in this manner you can kiss goodbye to any prospects of career advancement. We live in a self-inflicted climate of fear thanks to the legislation that emanated from the thoroughly wrongheaded Machpherson Report and its invention of the fictitious crime of ‘institutional racism’ and the extension of the term ‘racism’ to include criticism of negative practices conducted predominantly by ethnic minorities.

Although Ann Cryer has over the years done much good in trying to draw attention to this form of paedophile grooming, the local Labour Party that she represented was at least initially reluctant to publicise the true extent of this ugly reality, and it is unfortunate to say that at that time it took the actions of the BNP to flush this scandal out into the public arena. Similarly, it does beg the question as to how seriously Hopkins et al would be taking the gang grooming phenomenon were it not for the series of noisy protests mounted by the EDL across the country, including in Keighley, Rotherham and Rochdale. Whether you happen to agree with their tactics or not, they have helped to bring this ugly phenomenon to the attention of a wider public, no matter how unwelcome that might be to certain Westminster politicians eager not to ‘offend’ the Muslim bloc vote. One can only conclude therefore, that given the sluggishness of Westminster politicians to recognise the nature and extent of this type of criminal behaviour and their ongoing inability to name it for what it is – Muslim paedophile grooming – political correctness reigns supreme. Only once we are rid of the intellectually and morally corrosive effects of the Macpherson Report will we be able to deal with this problem properly, and root it out once and for all.

Alas, what does BBC3 offer us tonight? ‘Make Me a Muslim’. 

Monday, 28 January 2013

Gigantomania and Overcentralisation: HS2

Today’s announcement of the proposed details of the second phase of the HS2 route has been touted by George Osborne and Nick Clegg alike as a good thing, and a project that will assist growth, particularly in the regional cities with which it will link up. The twin spurs leading out from Birmingham will radiate up to Toton (near Nottingham), Sheffield and Leeds on one branch, and to Manchester and Manchester Airport on the other. This apparent enthusiasm should not come as a surprise, given that many politicians seem to possess a weakness for prestige projects, and projects don’t come much larger or more prestigious than HS2. Generally speaking however, such undertakings smack of gigantomania, but whereas its construction may not prove to be as wasteful, pointless or brutal as the White Sea Canal, it could yet prove to be more costly and of less utility than the Channel Tunnel, which in itself returned a loss for a number of years and came in well over budget, costing (according to one source) almost £12 billion rather than the originally projected £4.9 billion. 

The current price tag attached to HS2 is £32 billion, but what will be the real cost? How often do projects of this magnitude come in on budget? In practice, it is likely that the budget required for the construction and initial operation of HS2 will grow considerably as the years progress. Beyond this of course, there are the additional costs incurred in terms of environmental destruction and degradation, and the possibility that London will suck yet more lifeblood out of our regional cities rather than pump forth a surge of vitality. The thinking underpinning HS2 is distinctly metropolitan and damagingly London-centric, and many voices of opposition have been raised beyond those whom one would normally expect to object, such as 70 MPs.

Much of the thinking underpinning HS2 is fundamentally flawed, for the assumption is that time spent travelling on trains is dead time lost to productive employment, whereas we are now all aware that this is no longer the case thanks to the revolution in communications technology that allows us to work using our mobiles, laptops and tablets whilst on the move. Thus, does cutting the journey time from Manchester to London from two hours and eight minutes to one hour and eight minutes, and from Leeds to London from two hours and 20 minutes to one hour and 22 minutes really merit a minimum investment of £32 billion? These figures, particularly during our severely straitened times, appear to be frighteningly wasteful. If perhaps, we could guarantee that all of the steel, cement, signalling and rolling stock used in the creation and operation of this proposed new network were to be British produced and British owned, and the intellectual and manual labour employed likewise to be domestically sourced, then perhaps a case of sorts could be made for its construction, given the positive economic effects that it would generate. However, the likelihood is that it will not be: the network’s construction could well instead lead to an increase in the balance of payments deficit. 

Furthermore, the routing of the new network means that the ‘Nottingham’ and ‘Sheffield’ stations will not be in the city centres, with Nottingham’s being situated at Toton (no, I’d never heard of it either) and Sheffield’s at Meadowhall (do they intend to try and lure away shoppers from London’s Oxford Street?). This will mean that travellers will then need to board connecting services to reach the city centres, so the time saved is even less than that being claimed by advocates of the development. When will it be completed if all goes to schedule? Not until 2032 to 2033, apparently.

'Sheffield' HS2 Station: Meadowhall

Rather than ploughing such vast sums of money into an economically wasteful, London-centric prestige project, this investment ought to be used instead to upgrade regional rail networks and rolling stock, re-opening a number of lines closed by Beeching where this is still practicable to ease the pressure on our roads. Far more could be achieved in this way, and would be far more likely to yield a meaningful improvement in transport for the residents of our northern cities as well as laying the basis for prosperity in the regions. This is something championed by the Campaign for Better Transport which advocates the reopening of the Skipton to Colne rail link and the reinstatement of the line from Portishead to Bristol amongst others.

The opponents of HS2 have produced a website – StopHS2 – which sets out a number of persuasive arguments and figures in support of the campaigners’ assertion that the project is both wasteful and damaging. As yet, a decision upon whether to allow the construction of HS2 will not be made until next year, so although the go-ahead is not a foregone conclusion, the campaigners are going to have a tough struggle ahead of them in fighting the interests of the powerful lobby groups pushing for this ‘development’. Let’s hope that they succeed! 

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Spalding anti-immigration protest: April 2013

Spalding has a problem with immigration, as does Boston. However, the greatest problem faced by the residents of these two towns is not so much the immigrants themselves, as the political system and legislation that has enabled and encouraged the latter to settle there. One cannot blame the immigrants for wishing to seek a better life given that EU regulations have legally entitled them to come and work in the UK. Our dissatisfaction should not be directed at these people, but at the EU, our Government, our mainstream political parties and those employers who seek to use immigrant labour to their narrow self-advantage and to the detriment of the wider society.

Although it would be churlish to state that every aspect of EU membership has been negative, on balance, both in practical terms and in matters of democratic principle, membership has neither been welcomed by nor beneficial to a large segment of our population. The free movement of labour between member states has been one of the most visible and most negative aspects of membership. From the perspective of certain vested interests – notably unscrupulous employers keen to drive down wages irrespective of the impact upon living conditions – the importation of cheap and often highly qualified and motivated labour from the EU accession countries of the former Soviet bloc has been welcome, but from the viewpoint of ordinary people here at home struggling to find work that will pay a living wage and enable them to live what would hitherto been seen as a ‘normal life’, it most certainly has not.

The people of Spalding are tired of having their concerns relating to unprecedented levels of immigration ignored or branded as ‘racist’, and inspired by recent anti-immigration demonstrations that took place in nearby Boston in November and earlier this week, they have decided to take to the streets at a date yet to be fixed this coming April. Its organiser, Dean Everitt, told the Spalding Guardian that this march would be followed up by marches in Boston, Wisbech and Lincoln, culminating in a march on Westminster. Details of the protests are to be posted on the Spalding Immigration Issues Facebook page.

Mr Everitt stated:
Europeans cannot come here and think they can act in the same way as they do abroad. People don’t want drinking and urinating in the streets, overcrowding in properties and lack of jobs.

Residents are becoming afraid to go out, especially at night. We’ve had six murders in three years – and that’s just Boston and Spalding.
In addition to the problems listed by Mr Everitt, there will of course be associated issues generated by a large influx of non-English speaking children into local schools and pressure placed upon health and social services. Whereas our large urban centres have been subject to such pressures for decades, these problems are new for small towns such as Boston and Spalding which have seen recent immigration create a staggering growth in population. By 2008, some estimates placed Boston’s immigrant population as high as one quarter of the total, and the 2011 census indicated that the population of the borough as a whole had increased from 55,800 in 2001 to 64,600.

This specific problem recently received an airing on the BBC’s Question Time in which the BBC’s favoured Professor of Classics Mary Beard dutifully sang from the globalist open borders hymn sheet, extolling the many ‘virtues’ of Boston’s immigrant influx, blithely brushing aside the concerns of locals. However, as can be seen from the second of the clips below, Beard’s sunny evaluation of the situation was soon washed away by a contribution from a local woman of half-Polish descent who highlighted the general nature of the problem whilst providing some specific examples.

Such is the discontent generated by the immigrant influx, that even Boston Labour Councillor Paul Kenny has been compelled to grant some form of recognition to public concerns. Thus, this week he attended a House of Commons conference entitled ‘Immigration to the regions: how do we ensure that no-one is left behind?’ with a view to raising questions about ‘street drinking, employment and issues surrounding Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs)’. However, the only genuine solution to the specific problems experienced in Boston and Spalding, as well as to the wider negative impacts of mass immigration across the country as a whole, is to take a genuinely robust approach to immigration which involves a de facto closing of the borders, with allowance being made for only a very small number of immigrants to enter the country under genuinely exceptional circumstances. As for those who are allowed in, citizenship and its attendant rights should be granted only after an extended period of residence providing that the individuals concerned have fully integrated and proven themselves to be of good character.

We remain in a period of exceptional economic crisis, and whereas mass immigration does not lie at the root of this crisis, it has certainly made it harder to cope with; further immigration will do nothing other than exacerbate our many problems in the areas of employment, housing, health, education and social services. Leaving the EU will only be part of the solution, for the abandonment of the false belief in the morality of globalism will be a necessary precondition for regaining control of our borders, as this is what allows our borders to be so porous. Will the protesters from Spalding and Boston recognise this truth and draw the necessary political conclusions, or will they be bought off with some sop from Westminster?

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Front National encouraged by Ipsos poll on French attitudes

According to an article appearing in today’s Le Monde, Marine Le Pen is in buoyant mood following the publication of an Ispsos poll of French public opinion in yesterday’s edition of the paper. Why? Well, in Le Pen’s own words, it shows that “the French think like us”. Specifically, it would appear that Front National attitudes and policies with respect to immigration, Islam, globalisation and economic protectionism strike a strong chord with the French electorate.

Overall, the French public is not in an ebullient mood, with the poll suggesting the prevalence of a distinctly pessimistic worldview. That this should be so ought to come as no surprise, for France, like the UK, does not currently find itself in a happy situation either economically or socially. The pie charts reproduced below provide a striking summary of the twin mood of economic and cultural decline that appears to have taken root: 55% of respondents thought that French economic power “has declined a great deal” and a further 35% believe that it “has declined a little”, with only 7% thinking that the economy “has progressed a little”. In the cultural sphere, the mood remains negative, but not in quite so pronounced a fashion as with respect to the economy: 23% thought that French cultural influence “had declined a lot” with a further 40% stating “that it had declined a little”. 

In factually rather than politically correct fashion, 74% of respondents in the poll subscribed to the notion that Islam was an “intolerant” religion; 77% stated that “religious fundamentalism” (code for Islam) was a matter of concern to them; 57% were of the opinion that “anti-white racism is quite common in France”, and 62% “no longer feel at home in France”. Data are not provided with respect to ethnic and faith differences amongst respondents, but the results clearly indicate that France is a cleft society, with a significant proportion of indigenous French citizens feeling a distinct sense of cultural alienation from their own homeland because of the momentous changes wrought by mass immigration in recent decades. My sympathies on this score lie with the French. Whether or not the French have lost Paris as the English (or indeed, the British) have lost London, I do not know, but similar processes driven by the twin ideologies of globalism and permeable borders are leading to a crisis of national self-identity in both countries. However, to express this sense of alienation from one’s own homeland and the political class who implement and advocate the policies that lead to this dispossession is to run the risk in both the UK and France of being branded a ‘far-right extremist’, which is of course a deeply malicious and wounding slur upon the part of those who level it.   

One commentator – Michel Winock – described by Le Monde as a “specialist in the history of politics and ideology in modern France” has used the findings of this poll to make tired and lazy comparisons with France in the 1930s, raising the hoary old spectre of recrudescent ‘fascism’ that is so often wheeled out by defenders of mass immigration and state-sponsored multiculturalism on either side of La Manche when confronted by popular distaste for these two elite-sponsored projects. To equate a desire for national self-preservation and cultural distinctiveness with ‘fascism’ is repugnant, but that does not prevent the likes of Winock from seeking to firmly implant this false association in the public mind with the assistance of a largely eager and compliant mass media.

In conclusion, the policies forwarded by the Front National chime strongly with the concerns of native French voters, but thus far the party has not been able to make a significant electoral breakthrough. What then, will it take for French voters to give voice to their dissatisfaction by voting for a party that offers policies that they favour, and for them to overcome their aversion to voting for Le Pen inculcated by many years of deeply hostile coverage of the FN?

Friday, 25 January 2013

The economy shrinks whilst the population grows

Although provisional, today’s statistics released by the ONS suggest that overall the UK economy remained flat in 2012: there was no growth. However, the statistics that point to a 0.3% contraction in the economy during the final quarter of 2012 are, when taking into account demographic factors, even more worrying, for the figures relate to aggregate GDP and not per capita GDP. Given the rapid population expansion that has taken place over the past decade and a half and continues to this day, per capita economic output is shrinking at an even faster rate. This conclusion would appear to be supported by statistics released earlier this week stating that unemployment is now at its lowest in 18 months and a new record has been reached for the number of people in work. Average earnings are said to have increased by 1.5% in the year to November 2012, but given that RPI throughout this period was running at more than double this rate, they purchasing power of average wages has been falling; our standard of living in these raw terms is declining.

Worryingly, the underlying state of the economy looks weak, with the genuine foundations of wealth creation – “the production industries” – contracting at a faster rate than the economy as a whole, dropping by 1.8% in the final quarter of 2012. This represents part of an ongoing trend illustrated in the graph below, which shows that production as a whole had declined by circa 5% since the beginning of 2011, with the largest drop being witnessed in mining and quarrying which fell by over 25% during the same period. 

 The latest figures for the UK’s trade deficit released in November also reveal a grim picture, with the deficit on goods and services estimated to have been £3.5 billion. Looking beneath this surface figure, the weakness of our manufacturing and productive sector is starkly revealed by a £9.2 billion monthly deficit on goods which was “partly offset by an estimated surplus of £5.7 billion on services.”

Clearly, the economic policy of the current Government is not working, and yet, the ‘solution’ offered by the Labour Party is no better, for it focuses upon maintaining consumption through increased borrowing without addressing the trade deficit and the over-reliance upon the service sector. A radical new industrial policy is required that provides greater backing for the development of cutting-edge technologies and the industries of the future, providing jobs both for those with high-level intellectual skills in science and engineering, as well as for those working in support roles in the supply chains required to nurture and sustain this domestic revival. However, such an approach is at best paid only lip service by the globalist parties of today: Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and UKIP. A new non-globalist alternative is required to provide the support and impetus necessary to launch and sustain a long-term economic revival with a vision and programme that looks decades into the future, rather than simply to the next General Election.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Cameron pledges the UK to a war without end and without meaning

A comment made by the Prime Minister recently left me feeling poleaxed, and upon reading it I felt like rubbing my eyes and dousing myself in cold water to ensure that I was awake. Surely he could not have uttered the following sentence and believed in the substance of the words that he was enunciating with respect to the recent hostage crisis in Algeria:
What does he mean by stating “had to deal with”? By using these words he seems to imply that the problem there has been solved. Has it? What has been achieved in Afghanistan? How has the problem been dealt with in Pakistan? Has the Islamist problem been solved in either country, or even here in the UK? Quite clearly, the answer must be no. Our intervention in Afghanistan may have eliminated al-Qaeda training camps, but what in reality has it achieved? When our forces leave that country after well over a decade of death, mutilation, psychological trauma and the expenditure of billions of pounds, what will we see? A prosperous Afghanistan friendly to the UK advocating freedom of opinion and expression for its citizens, together with respect and equal rights for its women, or a jubilant Taliban-dominated theocracy celebrating victory over the infidel, just as antipathetical to the UK and the West in general as it was in 2001 and imbued with a spirit of vengeance? It would seem that the second scenario would be far closer to what emerges than the former one.

A decade on from invasion and its subsequent occupation Iraq remains a religiously and ethnically cleft violent wreck. The Arab Spring, encouraged by the UK Government, has led to increased instability across North Africa and the Middle East, with Islamists playing a major role in the popular uprisings and in the new administrations that have emerged following the toppling of the old regimes. Cameron and Hague were keen to intervene in Libya, and have been chomping at the bit to do the same in Syria, irrespective of the chaos and geopolitical blowback that such meddling can produce. It has been widely claimed that the post-Qaddhafi instability in Libya has helped to flood parts of North Africa with weaponry, assisting an upsurge in violent Islamist militancy that has manifested itself both in the ongoing attempt to overthrow the Malian government as well as in the recent Algerian hostage crisis.

The Prime Minister’s call for a “global response” to what he dubs the “al-Qaeda” threat is thoroughly wrongheaded. Islamism existed before Bin Laden and it will exist long after his passing. Islamism, in one form or another, is as old as Islam itself, and until that ideology dies we will always have a problem with its violent fanatics wishing to impose their crude, vicious and misanthropic ideology upon everyone else: non-literalist Muslims and non-Muslims alike. What, after all, does Cameron mean when he states that:
Perhaps the Prime Minister should steer clear of reference to “iron” to denote resolve, for we all now how brittle his “cast iron” guarantee proved to be with respect to an EU membership referendum. Is he committing us to an endless series of wars in which we fight with our hands tied behind our backs, bereft of either a clear goal or modus operandi? If so, who will die and who will pay for this policy? What benefit will it bring and to whom?

It would appear that the immense corrupting wealth of the Saudis and the other Arab petrodollar states of the Gulf has effectively muzzled politicians such as Cameron. The fountainhead of Islamism today, in both its violent and political variants, is Saudi Arabia. Find an effective alternative to oil, and the Saudis’ malign and growing influence would collapse. Thus, to find such an alternative should be one of our key political and economic tasks. The Saudis produce nothing of value other than what they pump out of the ground, with the rest of their wealth being derived from parasitic investment around the globe. If Cameron truly wished to wage war to destroy Islamism he would call for the subjugation and occupation of the Arabian Peninsula, but to be ‘successful’, that sort of war would call forth the logic of total war witnessed in the horrific brutality displayed by both sides on the Eastern Front with its associated exterminist logic. Who wants such a war? Not me. I would prefer the option of the peaceful development of viable alternative energy sources and the concomitant undermining and collapse of the economic, political and cultural influence of the Arab petrodollar states. Only then will we stand a chance of defeating Islamism.

Cameron and Hague are intellectual lightweights, and if they truly wished to root out Islamism they could make no better start than by rooting it out at home, for after all, they and their political predecessors in the Labour Party have allowed it to flourish in Britain. They may as well launch drone strikes on Tower Hamlets and Bradford as upon Pakistan, for there is not a great deal to differentiate the two environments other than an increasingly nominal sovereignty. As it is, the two men seem intent upon poking their noses into as many Islamist hornets’ nests as possible, with Syria and Mali looking like our most probable forthcoming entanglements.

Such interventions will be pointless, bloody, expensive and ineffectual. Moreover, they will generate ever-greater resentment against us, no matter how ill founded, by Muslims around the globe. At the same time, Cameron, Hague and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will continue to push for the economic and eventual political integration of the countries of the Middle East and North Africa into an expanded EU, arguing that this is ‘necessary’ to disseminate economic prosperity throughout the Arab world and thereby undermine support for Islamism. This is the eventual goal of Euromed, but in reality what it would achieve, if its logic were to be fully enacted, would be for every state in the EU to be flooded by a massive demographic wave from the Muslim states of the eastern and southern Mediterranean littoral, bringing economic and cultural decline to Europe, as well as the demographic eclipse and eventual disappearance of the European peoples. Alas, a twin combination of cack-handed interventionism and half-baked policies on economic integration are likely to be the favoured response of the current Government. It is a grim prospect, but we can expect only support for such a policy from an intellectually bankrupt Labour Party. Where is the effective opposition? Who will articulate the much-needed alternative?

Monday, 21 January 2013

Gates of Vienna Blog blocked

Earlier this month the Gates of Vienna blog was inaccessible for a time, and yesterday readers were once again denied access. At the time of writing a visit to Gates of Vienna (GOV) was met with the following notice: ‘This blog is under review due to possible Blogger Terms of Service violations and is open to authors only.’

The message is a little cryptic, but the fact that public access to it has been blocked, temporarily or possibly permanently, indicates that Blogger’s owners – Google – are susceptible to pressure to censor opinions that are deemed to upset some people around the globe. Given the content of the blog in question, it does not take a great deal to guess which particular ideological constituency will have demanded that access be blocked: an Islamic lobby group of one sort or another.

Some of the articles published on the GOV I have agreed with, and others I have not, but agreeing or disagreeing with a set of opinions set out on a platform such as a blog is no reason to have them either extolled by all as ‘virtuous’ or condemned and censored for whatever spurious reasons happen to be called forth by way of justification on the part of an ‘offended’ party. After all, to offend someone nothing more is necessary – at least in the case of those who will not brook any dissent from their perspective – than to disagree with their opinion.

Whether or not you happen to agree with the general thrust and tenor of articles published on the GOV is immaterial: the decision to deny public access to the blog strikes me as a violation of freedom of expression, and that in itself is a sinister move on the part of the internet giant. Although those who dislike GOV have attempted to smear it by association with Breivik, who happened to cite it in his largely unread rambling ‘manifesto’, GOV has not called for violence and in no uncertain terms condemned the actions of the psychopath Breivik as soon as his identity became known. The blog appears to be the latest high-profile element of the transnational ‘counterjihad’ movement to have been taken out. In the UK over the past 18 months we have seen Alan Lake/Alan Ayling dismissed from his job at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Chris Knowles sacked from his job with Leeds City Council for holding views deemed to be at variance with its ‘diversity policy’. More recently, EDL founder and leader Stephen Lennon/Tommy Robinson received a prison sentence for gaining entry to the US on someone else’s passport, and a little over a week ago his relative and fellow leading EDL member Kevin Carroll was arrested for what was alleged to be‘inciting racial hatred’.

As perhaps the best known of the ‘Counterjihad’ blogs, taking out GOV strikes a blow against the loose network and movement that it represents. It is a worrying development, for though it may be unpalatable to what is deemed to be acceptable opinion, the concerns that it articulates with respect to the various facets of Islamisation – particularly to the demographic Islamisation of many European societies – are legitimate. Much of what has been written on its platform differs little in its essential thrust from the argument and evidence presented by respected journalist Christopher Caldwell in his book ‘Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam and the West’ published in 2009. Thankfully, unlike ‘Baron Bodissey’, Caldwell has yet to experience the chill winds of censorship, but Google’s latest exercise in apparent censorship poses the question as to how much longer such dissident opinions will be tolerated. In and of itself, the decision to block access to the Gates of Vienna would appear to bear ugly testimony to the blog’s protestation that Islamisation constitutes a genuine danger to the freedom of both speech and expression. We can only hope that Google relents, and allows the blog to once again reach a general readership as it has done over a number of years.

Note: thanks to Ivan Winters for drawing this to my attention.

Immediately after posting this piece I discovered via the Infidel Bloggers Alliance blog that the Gates of Vienna has moved to a new site that can be accessed here.

Gates of Vienna blog banner

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Repatriation: the solution to sham marriages and illegal immigration

There are many factors underpinning the massive surge in immigration over the past 16 years, and whereas the BBC and UKIP continually hammer away at highlighting the very large-scale influx from the EU, the former seeing it as a good thing the latter as a bad one, they both take care not to make negative comments regarding the even larger inward flow of population from outside of the EU, from countries such as Pakistan. Whether or not we agree with the policy, there are legitimate and illegitimate ways of gaining residence in the UK, and in recent years one of the primary illegitimate means of setting up home here has been via student visa scams, which have enabled tens of thousands people (possibly more), into the country. Sham marriages are another means of exploiting the law to obtain residency status that would otherwise have been denied, and a recent trial in Sheffield of individuals involved in a scam co-ordinated by UK passport-holding Pakistanis in Rotherham revealed that more than 60 applications for UK visas were based upon such marriages.

The composition of the gang involved in the Rotherham-based scam operation is interesting: the men were predominantly Pakistanis and the women a mix of Eastern Europeans (Czechs and Slovaks), Pakistani UK passport holders and white British. Looking at the pictures in the associated Daily Mail report, it seems almost certain that the ‘Eastern Europeans’ Kristina Popikova and Veronika Pohlodkova are Roma. Slovak Peter Pohodko also participated in the scam as a bogus groom, marrying a Pakistani woman. Whilst Rotherham was the main centre of this immigration racket, a number of Bradford residents were involved. The makeup of the individuals involved in this crime illustrates how an absence of any intrinsic ties to our country mean that they care not about its fate, and are quite willing to contribute to ongoing overpopulation, societal fragmentation and breakdown for relatively modest amounts of money. What does it matter to these recent Eastern European immigrants if England is transformed into something increasingly resembling Pakistan? They can, after all, always return to their home countries, and as readers know, those countries possess minuscule Muslim populations and are not threatened with cultural and societal dissolution through mass immigration.

Those possessing familial links with Pakistan involved in this scam should not have been sentenced to prison terms in this country, but should instead have had their property confiscated, their citizenship revoked and been sent back to their ancestral familial homeland with no right of readmission. This sort of crime can only be stopped if the consequences are suitably severe and fitting, for otherwise people will be tempted to flout the law to their personal gain and to society’s detriment. 

Kristina Popikova: described as a Slovak, she would appear to be Roma

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Lady with a Lapdog (with apologies to Anton Chekhov)

For many of you, the routine of the cramped commute to and from work will be a familiar experience. Now and again, if you’re lucky, you’ll find yourself seated, whilst those less fortunate cram into the aisles and steady themselves as best they can. Considering the tightly packed and often uncomfortably warm conditions on such services, passengers generally treat their fellows with respect and consideration, although on occasion tempers can flair when those of a tetchy disposition give vent to their dissatisfaction. Thus it was one night last week that the following incident took place on a train about to embark upon its regular journey, linking a number of our northern towns.

The service was busy, and all seats were taken. Some faces were familiar, others not so, and most people had settled down into their early evening routine of texting, surfing the net, listening to music, and amongst other things, staring vacantly into space. A number of people were even engaged in that now seemingly quaintly old-fashioned but agreeable pastime of reading a book in its physical form. For a change, nobody within earshot was speaking at volume into their mobile phone about familial minutiae, their health ailments or pretending to broker an important work deal. All in all, it was a quiet evening, or so it seemed until a voice exploded against the shuffling, sneezing, page-rustling backdrop. I turned my head. Dozens of pairs of ears pricked up.
“Do you mind?!”
“I’m sorry?”
“Get your dog away from me!”
“He’s alright.”
“Get it away from me!”
“He doesn’t bite.”
“Get it away from me! Get it away! It’s dirty!”
I saw an angry face framed in black, eyes glowering with disgust, glaring towards a woman in late middle age, clutching a small and perfectly harmless dog; evidently, her much-loved pet, but regarded by the indignant black-cloaked figure with as much affection as a witchfinder would have possessed for a solitary old woman’s ‘familiar’. The dog had not touched the scowling woman in black, and neither had it breathed upon her. Its mere proximity was sufficient to prompt the outpourings of an intolerant religious zealot; a scriptural literalist revelling in her power to impose her bigoted opinions without fear of challenge because of her ‘minority’ status. What an ugly scene this was.

The lady with the lapdog, clearly upset, moved away, carrying her pet back into a more crowded part of the train, whilst the woman in black sat and scowled. She scowls still, for she is a regular on this service, and her character and cast of mind appear not to be of a sunny disposition. It is owing to this shameful behaviour that her picture, taken moments after the outburst described, has been posted below. The attitudes displayed by the woman in black and the aggressively assertive manner in which they were expressed, are at one with those found in a video entitled ‘Muslim Patrol’ created by some of her co-religionists in London, which portrays a group of intimidating vigilantes seeking to impose Islamic law one Saturday night. It seems that Anjem Choudary’s group was behind this, for one of the voices on the video very closely resembles his. Youtube removed this video, declaring that it had sought to ‘harass, bully or threaten’. However, it can still be viewed on The Daily Mail website here

"Get it away from me!" Islamist bigotry on the evening commute.


Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Conservatives haemorrhage support to UKIP

The Daily Telegraph has today highlighted the results of the latest Ipsos Mori poll which show the continued drift of Tory support to UKIP, thus underscoring the observation made here earlier this week that the increasingly Eurosceptic tone of the Conservative Party – including of David Cameron in advance of his speech on the UK's relationship with the EU this Friday – is being dictated by fear of UKIP’s advance. The Conservatives now languish 13 percentage points behind Labour, which given Miliband’s lacklustre leadership and absence of any general enthusiasm for the Labour Party, is indicative more of general disenchantment with contemporary party politics than any desire to see Labour in office. However, if this is seen as bad news for the Conservatives, it is worse for the Liberal Democrats who lie in fourth place behind UKIP who now stand at 9%.

Prepare for a great deal of painfully hedged verbiage from the Prime Minister on Friday who will attempt to present himself as the champion of British interests against Brussels. He is not. Cameron is a globalist, as are Clegg and Miliband. Moreover, in his own way, Farage is too, with the difference being that he doesn’t like being in the EU and would prefer closer transatlantic ties. Cameron may be making plans for Nigel, but will Nigel be happy in his world? Probably not.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Graphene: why has the UK lost its lead?

The potential of graphene could be huge, but the reality at present is that we simply do not know the full range of uses to which this revolutionary new material could be turned. This super-thin ultra-conductive material stronger than diamond was first synthesised at The University of Manchester in 2004 through pioneering work carried out by Russian research scientists Andrei Geim and Konstantin Novosolev. As with many innovations in the past, it may have originated in Britain (albeit in this case largely as a consequence of the talents and research interests of two Russian expatriates), but it would seem that we are failing to capitalise upon the technological and economic possibilities of a revolutionary innovation, whilst other nations lead the way.

According to figures compiled by CambridgeIP, China leads the field in terms of patents taken out on graphene, with almost 41 times the number than taken out in the UK: 2,204 compared to a lowly 54. The US is second on the list, with a considerable 1,754, whereas South Korea comes in at third place with a far from negligible 1,160. China’s willingness to explore and use cutting-edge technologies is clearly displayed in these figures, as is its economic and, increasingly, intellectual challenge to the US. The figure associated with patents originating in the UK is feeble considering that the pioneering work was undertaken in Manchester, and begs us to ask why there has been such a failure to utilise this head start to the national advantage. George Osborne may have pledged £60 million in government funding for graphene research and BP may have announced its intent to create what is quoted by the BBC as “a world centre for graphene research”, but can this really enable us to make up the lost ground and catch up with more canny competitors who, in the case of the East Asian nations (amongst which we can include Singapore) have their eyes set on the long-term, rather than the short-term investment priorities that we apparently have absorbed from the ailing hegemon across the Atlantic?

Although the US has suffered a great deal of deindustrialisation, it still has some powerful domestically-based transnational corporations (TNCs) which are global leaders in technology capable of stumping up the funds required for researching the commercial possibilities of new technologies and materials, but even so, their priorities are short-term compared to those of what many have termed the “Confucian developmental state”, into which can be bracketed, despite their individual characteristics, China, South Korea and Singapore. The East Asian approach to economics and investment in science is driven by the long view, and not demands for immediate returns. We would do well to move a little closer towards their perspective, and further from the American one. 

South Korea’s largest chaebol – Samsung – holds a mighty 407 graphene patents, and it is sure to put them to good commercial use. A new generation of ultralight and flexible smartphones has been touted as one of its first widespread prospective uses. What a pity it is that no company in this country took up this idea with a view to transforming it into a globally popular product! It is in the development and utilisation of such new materials and technologies – not to mention new sources of energy – that will ultimately drive economic renewal in our country if we are to ever experience it, not in an overreliance upon the inflated financial services sector. We need to provide incentives for investment in a new industrial revolution which will fund the pensions and social services of tomorrow, for we have little to fund them with at present. One of the major reasons that we have lagged behind competitors in the exploitation of graphene is perhaps the fact that we now possess such a denuded base of domestic capital and so few large domestic corporations capable of funding and utilising the research that is required.

The globalists of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democratic parties may trumpet the glories of open markets, but with nothing to sell, who ultimately benefits? Globalism is bankrupt, as is the current economic strategy that focuses upon the short term and the undermining of the accumulation of domestic capital. In this respect, we must not look to America for inspiration for our economic model, for continuing to ape the US will bring us further ruin. We need an economic vision and industrial strategy that looks to the next 50-100 years and beyond, not just to the next General Election. Our current political parties are not fit to deliver such an approach, so we must create a party that is capable of doing so. 

Monday, 14 January 2013

David Cameron’s forthcoming EU Speech: Great Expectations?

The Conservative Party currently appears to be in overdrive in its effort to undermine the threat from UKIP, with many leading members taking care to use language that could be mistaken for Euroscepticism by the electorate, whilst in the main remaining resolutely pro-EU. Even the Prime Minister himself, an undoubted Euro-enthusiast, has now been compelled by a solidifying Euroscepticism amongst a section of the British electorate to hint at concessions to public opinion on this score, coyly intimating that a referendum could eventually be in the offing. However, nothing could be further from his intentions than allowing the UK to leave the EU, and any referendum that may eventually be set before us (which in itself is doubtful) would be likely to be rigged in its wording. Nonetheless, anything less than full-blooded Euro-enthusiasm causes the BBC to balk, and thus it is that Cameron’s comment that he wishes to seek a “fresh settlement” between our country and the EU is sufficient for the BBC to take this as being tantamount to the ravings of a xenophobic Little Englander.

In his interview on this morning’s Today Programme, Cameron refused to divulge what he would say in his speech to be delivered in the Netherlands next week, although he stressed his globalist economic credentials by making reference to the UK’s “strong tradition of global trade”. Throughout the interview, the emphasis was very much upon rationalising EU via reference to economic imperatives, whilst ignoring the option of leaving the EU and negotiating mutually beneficial trading arrangements with members of the bloc. Neither the Prime Minister nor his interviewer touched upon the aspects of EU membership to which electors undoubtedly have not given their consent, such as ever-increasing and deeper political union and the intent to eventually form an economic union with the Muslim states of North Africa and the Middle East founded upon the principles of Euromed. There are many non-economic costs to EU membership, and the free movement of labour between member states has in recent years caused many problems in the UK by placing increased pressure upon housing, education and health, whilst undermining domestic wages and helping to entrench long-term structural unemployment. This is not something that either the BBC or Cameron are keen to publicise.

This month witnesses the end of transitional controls on the right of Bulgarian and Romanian citizens to come and work and settle in the UK. Although Cameron was pressed on this matter in this morning’s interview, he refused to provide an estimate of how many people are expected to arrive from these two EU member states. However, with a combined population of roughly 26.3 million and far lower average wages than the UK, it would not be unreasonable, taking into account previous experience with immigration from Poland, Slovakia and other EU accession states, for a wave of several hundred thousand immigrants to arrive. Where, when we have a housing crisis, will they live, and what will they do for a living as we struggle with mass unemployment in the depths of a protracted recession arising from our structurally unbalanced and globalised economy? These are questions that neither the Prime Minister nor the BBC are willing to answer, for they reveal one of the many economically and, importantly, socially costly negative consequences of remaining a member of the EU. Withdrawal from the EU would help us to manage our immigration problem, but that alone would not enable us to solve it completely.

When Cameron delivers his speech on the EU next week it will, like the many speeches delivered by leading politicians on this issue, be more or less interchangeable with those of the leaders of the other two major Westminster parties, whose motto may as well be “In the EU and globalism we trust”. Of one thing we can be sure: Cameron’s speech will be an anticlimax, and any great expectations that some voters may possess regarding the Conservative Party’s intent to allow a meaningful referendum upon EU membership will be dashed; these expectations will remain, like the book of that title, fiction.

Your new neighbours? Romania's Roma

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Ed Miliband’s ‘One Nation Labour’: hearing, but still not listening

Today witnessed Ed Miliband’s third speech in less than a year that was delivered with the intent of generating headlines that he and the Labour Party had finally awakened to the fact that the majority of people – British people that is – had neither wished for nor endorsed Labour’s policy of encouraging mass immigration. In this respect, the BBC dutifully reported today’s speech addressed to the Fabian Society as constituting an admission that Labour ‘did not do enough for ordinary people, becoming distant on issues such as immigration.’ What Miliband then went on to emphasise, as in his previous speeches on Englishness in June and immigration in December, was that he was unapologetic for the fact that the ethnic and cultural fabric of society had been radically altered, and that on the contrary, he rather liked it and that it was something (to use a much abused word in recent years) to be ‘celebrated’. In a telling sentence he stated: ‘I bow to nobody in my celebration of the multi-ethnic, diverse nature of Britain.’

Since last June Ed Miliband has plainly be toying with Blue Labour rhetoric as advocated by Jon Cruddas, in an attempt to reconnect with Labour’s neglected and alienated former bedrock of support: the indigenous working class. However, Miliband has made it clear on a number of occasions that he finds the substance of Blue Labour rather too strong to stomach, so he has chosen instead to don patriotic drag in an attempt to portray a party that is still wholeheartedly in favour of mass immigration, muliticulturalism and the promotion of non-indigenous interests (I hesitate to employ the term ‘ethnic minority’ for the English are now a minority in their own capital) as standing up for the national interest. His arrogation of Disraeli’s ‘One Nation’ phrase is a conscious part of this attempt to dupe and manipulate public opinion. People would be advised to consider that when Miliband speaks of ‘one nation’, he is referring to all of the populations of the globe resident in our country, not to our nation: 'I am proud to celebrate the multi-ethnic, diverse nature of Britain.'

Although Miliband is correct in criticising the Conservatives for fostering divisions in society, he is wrong in positing Labour as the answer to these divisions, for he is intent upon cementing and widening the divisions that he and his party so assiduously cultivated whilst in power. If voters wish to find the positive political substance of ‘Blue Labour’, then they are going to have to look for it outside of the Labour Party. Miliband’s three speeches relating to this theme illustrate that although he and his likeminded confederates have heard the discontent emanating from the British public on this score and been unnerved by it, they have not listened, and they will not act upon it.

Ed Miliband's vision of 'One Nation' revisited for a third time

EDL Solihull Demo

This afternoon an EDL demo has been taking place in Solihull, the first of 2013. According to various reports on Twitter, anywhere between 40 and 60 supporters took part. One estimate even placed their numbers as low as 25. Although billed as a ‘regional demo’, the numbers are small. There seems to be little other information circulating about the demo, although its detractors have asserted that its organiser – Matthew Pile – had been involved in a violent racist attack on a fellow bus passenger last October. Press coverage of the protest was limited to an article in the Birmingham Mail, which claimed that there were circa 60 demonstrators in total and whilst hostile in tone noted that the demonstration was peaceful. There was no counter-demonstration.

With Stephen Lennon/Tommy Robinson having recently been sentenced to a ten-month custodial sentence for having entered the US on someone else’s passport, and the EDL seemingly having passed its high watermark in terms of numbers attending demonstrations, some observers have been touting this as signalling the demise of the anti-Islamist campaign group, although in reality the picture is rather more complex. Lennon himself had assumed a high-profile role in the BFP alongside Kevin Carroll in April last year, but left in October, announcing that he was to transform the EDL itself into a political party. Carroll however stayed in the BFP whilst remaining a high-profile member of the EDL. To the surprise of many, Carroll became BFP Chairman earlier this month when Paul Weston stepped down from the role after a little over a year in the position. Adding to the confusion was the fact that the BFP became deregistered as a political party in November 2012 following its failure to pay its annual registration fee. The current status of the party is therefore unclear.

With Kevin Carroll having become BFP Chairman and his cousin now sitting in prison for the best part of this year, will Lennon’s intention to transform the EDL into a fully-fledged political party remain, or will he rejoin the BFP now that Weston has stepped down? It seemed that one of the primary reasons for Lennon’s departure was linked to a failure to see eye-to-eye with Weston’s political agenda despite the party's near monomaniac obsession with Islam, but with Carroll in control, this difference will now in all likelihood have been removed. If the BFP is to continue, it would appear that it will now be the electoral arm of the EDL, although this poses questions both for the BFP’s existing membership and for many EDL supporters who are averse to involvement in electoral politics. It is unlikely that there will be any clarity on this score for quite some time to come, and it seems probable that those EDL protests that do take place in the coming months will be organised by local divisions rather than by the national leadership. 

Friday, 11 January 2013

Would Honda axe more jobs if the UK left the EU?

The news of Honda’s decision to axe 800 jobs at its Swindon plant is one of the gloomiest pieces of recent news for the UK economy. However, as it employs a total of 3,500 staff, many will thankfully still have employment after these cuts are made. The employer is hoping to make these staff reductions without compulsory redundancies, with layoffs taking place after a 90-day consultation period. Although the carmaker is acting in response to a drop in demand over the past year, Honda’s market in the UK itself has remained surprisingly buoyant, with the BBC reporting that the 54,208 Hondas registered in the country in 2012 represented a 7.2% increase upon the preceding year. The cuts in staff have rather been in response to a weakening of demand for its products elsewhere in the EU. Demand, unsurprisingly, has fallen off dramatically in those southern European states badly hit by the economic crisis: Greece, Italy and Portugal. It would therefore seem that the UK is more valuable to Honda as a manufacturing base and a market than certain other countries within the EU.

The loss of such a large number of jobs is bound to have an impact upon the local economy, but Honda’s commitment to maintain its manufacturing operations that began in the town back in 1992 is beyond doubt. As well as the 2,700 people who will remain employed at Honda, the automotive industry in the town is healthy, for BMW also employs 800 at its Swindon pressing plant which produces 90% of the parts required for the production of the Mini, and BMW’s sales position remains robust despite the subdued economic environment.

Whereas there has been much political and media chatter this week about the potentially ‘disastrous’ effects of the UK leaving the EU, Honda’s positive performance within the UK market compared to elsewhere in the EU demonstrates that transnational corporations (TNCs) that make productive rather than predatory capital investments in the UK (i.e. those that create jobs and real wealth in manufacturing) would not in reality wish to pull their investment out of the country were we to reassert our independence from Brussels, for it would be economically damaging for them to do so. Nor, in reality, would other nations in Europe wish to sever mutually beneficial trade: leaving the EU would not mean an end to our economic relations with the constituent nations of the bloc, but it would mean that we regained the right to formulate and implement our own laws and border controls without interference from overseas.

A desire to leave the EU is not some expression of ‘Europhobia’, but rather of the wish to revitalise democracy through recognising that sovereignty inheres within the people. However, this is not the narrative that is spun by certain sections of our press and by all but a tiny minority of individuals within our mainstream political parties; neither is it a position acknowledged as legitimate by political and corporate figures overseas who see the EU project as useful to their own ends, and the concept of popular sovereignty as an unwelcome inconvenience. It is influential individuals adhering to the latter perspective both in the US and Germany who have been particularly vocal this week, inveighing against the alleged ‘disastrous’ consequences for the UK should it leave the EU. Opponents of the UK’s independence tirelessly hammer away at the concept of popular sovereignty by knowingly employing the slurs that it is ‘xenophobic’, ‘exclusionary’ and ‘outdated’, but it seems that at least a section of the British public is waking up to the fact that these slurs are baseless.

Many have taken recent comments by David Cameron and George Osborne to indicate that a more Eurosceptic mood is now abroad in the Conservative Party, particularly with reference to Osborne’s latest comment that the UK could leave the EU if the latter does not negotiate a fresh settlement amongst its members. However, whereas our mainstream media together with diplomats in the US and EU foreign policy establishments may either perceive or seek to portray such pronouncements as possessing substance, those of us who are wearily seasoned observers of the British political scene will recognise this latest bout of high-profile Tory Euroscepticism as being a sop to a public that has grown increasingly hostile towards the EU and its ever-increasing integration. What truly lies at the root of this recent change in Tory mood music it would seem is electoral fear generated by the rise of UKIP. As previously commented on this blog, outside of EU elections UKIP does not and will not constitute a credible electoral force, for amongst other things it will find it nigh on impossible to win seats under the first-past-the-post system, but it is now strong enough to deprive many Conservative MPs of their majorities by taking the votes from Eurosceptic members of the public and thereby allowing Labour in by the backdoor.

When we reach the 2015 General Election, it is therefore likely that the Conservative Party will employ Eurosceptic rhetoric in its campaign, keen to neutralise the threat of UKIP and to distance itself from the Liberal Democrats, but in reality, the party line will be about as ‘Eurosceptic’ as Ken Clarke. Some of us may not be fooled again by such posturing, but will many of our fellow voters fall for this line? Alas, I feel inclined to predict that many will.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

2012: The Year of the Slug (as predicted here!)

Getting back into a normal routine after a long break can sometimes be a little tricky owing to (please pardon the pun) a little sluggish inertia, particularly after the extended period of festive overindulgence. At the beginning of last July I wrote a brief piece on Britain’s perennial favourite topic – the weather – and in it opined that whereas I thought that September was likely to offer us the best prospect of a dry warm spell it could well turn out that the resident Chinese population might “change the designation of 2012 from ‘Year of the Dragon’ to ‘Year of the Slug’.” Unfortunately, my facetious weather ‘forecast’ for the remainder of 2012, with the exception of October, turned out to be reasonably accurate, discerning as it did much more wet weather to come. Indeed, by the end of December The Daily Mail used my very own designation for the year in its headline ‘Year of the slug: 2012 was a washout for gardeners but perfect for pests’.

The past year was, in domestic meteorological terms, the most miserable that I can recall, and few can be hoping for a repeat of the seemingly interminable deluges that have of late bedevilled us. Farmland, homes and businesses were flooded, holidays were ruined and little prospered other than the seemingly ubiquitous and quietly triumphant hordes of slugs, accompanied on occasion by squadrons of malicious mosquitoes. This week we learn that the poor weather has had a negative impact upon the nutritional content not only of our food crops, but also of the grass upon which our livestock have fed when our pastures have not lain inaccessible beneath water. As if this situation in itself was not bad enough, a story in today’s Daily Telegraph draws our attention to an unwelcome new resident that is finding our green and sodden land a highly appealing home: a five-inch long monster slug from Spain revelling in the Latin name of Arion vulgaris. This nasty pest apparently possesses a hefty appetite for carrion, and in Scandinavia, where it has also managed to establish itself of late, it is reported as having become a hazard to motorists owing to the prodigious quantities of slime that the slugs leave on the road when feasting upon roadkill.

Arion vulgaris thus joins the harlequin ladybird, the New Zealand flatworm and of course the grey squirrel as but the latest in a line of invasive species that have been displacing and replacing the native fauna (although admittedly few would own to feeling any particular affection for our domestic slugs). What with sudden oak death and ash dieback, the contemporary analogues of the Dutch elm disease of the 1970s, our natural environment, rather like our social one, is suffering from the ill consequences wrought by the mighty forces of globalisation, with genuine diversity being replaced by transnational homogenisation.

Will 2013 become a second ‘year of the slug’, or will we finally enjoy a respite from the rain? Given the saturated state of the country, it may perhaps become the year of the mosquito. Whatever the case, thus far we seem to have been experiencing a stereotypical British winter: miserably grey, damp and mild. A taste of chilly winter weather lies in the offing later this week, and possibly lasting for much of January, but will it really deliver upon its promise? The Met Office, as is oft its wont, is being equivocal, and Piers Corbyn won’t tell us that his predictions about the winter were ‘right’ until some time after the event when he can find some weather that tallies with a forecast that he had sold to his exclusive set of subscribers. Surely, 2013 must be better than 2012 meteorologically? We have not had a decent summer in over half a decade, so would it be too much to expect some fine weather for the summer of 2013?

True to form, the day after this article was posted Piers Corbyn popped up in The Daily Express to warn about the coming cold spell: "WeatherAction expects snow amounts to be as bad or worse than the record-breaking December 2010." Renowned for its exuberant exaggeration of all portents of snow and chill and its cavalier disregard for facts, the Express also added:
It's the same weather pattern responsible for the bitter 2009-2010 winter, the coldest for 31 years when transport networks were crippled and planes grounded. Icy easterly winds will sweep across Britain with everywhere at risk of wintry showers from the weekend and "significant snowfall" over high ground in Wales and the North.
The statement above is simply incorrect. Glaringly so. One of the notable features of the exceptionally low temperatures in the first month of the remarkable winter of 2009-2010 was the fact that the month of extreme chill with which it began was ushered in by a front issuing from the Arctic North, not from the East. It was bitter northerlies which prevailed during the coldest first four to five weeks of that winter that began with a surge of Arctic air during the last week of November. This is why the eastern counties of Britain and areas such as the North York Moors were particularly badly hit by snow. Facts? Now, why would journalists wish to bother with such irksome details as facts? I await the Express's first heatwave headlines with bated breath (sometime in March or early April perhaps?). 

Arion Vulgaris: Spain's sluggish contribution to Britain's globalising fauna