Club Comment

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Club Comment - June 2020

A Point of View – The Cloak and Dagger Civil Servants?

A Point of View – The Cloak and Dagger Civil Servants?

Ever since Mr. Dominic Cummings’ recent trip to the North of England from his home in London – coupled with his later “special eye test “ drive to Barnard Castle and the subsequent unprecedented appearance as a Special Advisor in the garden of 10, Downing Street – over 80% of the population have called for his resignation.

Even though Mr. Cummings was wearing, for once, a white shirt and long trousers instead of his customary later-day Californian beach-bum attire, he showed no contrition and denied that he had breached any of the lock-down measures that he had been instrumental in imposing upon the nation.

His actions during this National lock-down have so incensed voters that the Tory lead over Labour has crashed as Mr. Johnson battles to draw a line under this disgraceful saga. Mr. Cummings, not blessed with any humility and with an abrasive attitude, compounded by his refusal to apologise, has worsened the situation for the government.

Even though over 8.5 million people are still not working and are being paid to stay at home under the furlough system, the government’s action has been overshadowed by the misconduct of Mr. Johnson’s non-elected Special Advisor and further cements – in the public’s eyes – the failure of the Prime Minster to dismiss Mr. Cummings for his breach of the lock-down rules. Many believe there is a “them and us” rule, which several government officers have already flouted and, in some cases, subsequently been pressured to resign from their posts – except Mr. Cummings.

The Prime Minister’s defence of his Chief Political Advisor, and so-called Svengali, has led to the Tory lead being only 5 points ahead of Labour from 17 points at the end of March this year according to Mr. Joe Twyman, director of Deltapoll. He said, “The figures suggest at the next election it is perfectly possible that a much greater proportion turn away from the Conservatives because they perceive them to not behave fairly and to be untrustworthy.” His comments are endorsed by many voters in the north, who previously voted Labour but swung the vote to Conservative at the last election. Now they are saying, “They’re back to their old arrogant ways again.”

One, therefore, has to question who are these unelected Special Advisers to the Prime Minister and why do we need them when we have members of parliament and Cabinet ministers who have been elected and are accountable to the electorate.

Modern day political advisors probably first started in 1964 when Prime Minister Harold Wilson began to appoint political supporters in significant numbers. He appointed eminent economists Tommy Balogh and Nicholas Kaldor to consult the Government on stimulating economic growth.

Interestingly enough, these Special Advisors (as of December 2019, there are 109 Special Advisors working full time for the Government, including 44 Special Advisors who work for the Prime Minister alone) are not just some ad hoc appointment but are employed as temporary civil servants in accordance with Part 1 of the Constitutional Reform and Government Act, 2010.

The Code of Conduct for Special Advisors states that Special Advisors are a critical team supporting Ministers. They add a political dimension to the advice and assistance available to Ministers while reinforcing the political impartiality of the Civil Service by distinguishing the source of political advice and support.

All Ministerial departments nowadays have one or more Special Advisors (often abbreviated to “SpAds” or “spads”) who are personal appointments of the Secretary of State but employed as temporary civil servants. Their main role in practice is to give political, presentational and policy advice to Ministers; to help write political speeches and articles; and, if necessary, add a political dimension to speeches drafted by officials. They work closely with Private Offices and Press Offices and give advice in parallel with line decisions.

There are, in fact, a number of reasons why Ministers find it beneficial to have spads in their department. Firstly, it gives Ministers simultaneous access to a friendly and familiar face offering political advice to be considered alongside that given by mainstream civil servants.

A lot of Ministers prefer to have, working alongside them, the “devil they do know rather than the devil they don’t” – especially at the beginning of their time in government. They have chosen them (rather than have them imposed upon them) unlike their civil servants, and often their departmental Junior Ministers, and they are likely to have compatible personalities.

Is there any control over the conduct of these spads? What they may and what they may not do are regulated for in the Constitutional Reform and Government Act, 2010 but, suffice to say, it still leaves somewhat “grey areas.”

All too often in recent times, Prime Ministers have utilised spads as their “Chief of Staff” or “Director of Communications” and all enquiries are routed through them, affording a type of protected cocoon around the Prime Minister. This resulted in what was termed “a sofa government”, with one or two people making the decisions and other Ministers excluded from this process.

In 2019 when Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, he appointed spad Domiminic Cummings as his Chief of Staff and Mr. Cummings then insisted that the entire Ministers’ Spads should report to him and not to “their” Cabinet Minister. This immediately removed one of the advantages of employing spads – that they offered an independent political view of their departments’ and wider government policies.

It would be a gross understatement to say that Dominic Cummings has alienated millions of British voters and Tory Party supporters. This includes both Tory and Labour MPs; not forgetting, of course, a cabal of Remainers and Civil servants who are desperate to get rid of him. It goes without saying that he is despised by the BBC and pincko channel 4 TV News.

Mr. Cummings is not, however, without his supporters and it has to be acknowledged and remembered that it was Mr. Cummings who made a very significant contribution in the Brexit Strategy and also in the Prime Minister’s Tory leadership contest and subsequent General Election success.

His role as Special Advisor to the Prime Minister has made him many enemies in Whitehall, particularly with regard to his task of the long-awaited reform of the Civil Service.

The Civil Service appears to have its own agenda despite its supposed neutrality and lack of political bias. These reforms of the Civil Service have been mooted since Margaret Thatcher’s time but the plans have always been frustrated.

It would appear that Mr. Cummings’ two objectives for this year are to assist the “Reform” of the Civil Service and to ensure completion of Brexit.

Despite these good intentions, the position of Special Advisor to the leader of a country is a powerful one and very often embraces a form of “gate keeping” to protect that leader from “unnecessary” intrusions. In effect, this is a vetting process to prevent the Prime Minister being inundated with requests from everyone in the Cabinet Office and beyond. It can, however, in itself lead to the Special Advisor believing that his position of power is greater, or as great as, that to whom he serves and “advises”.

History is littered with so called special advisors who believed they were too indispensable to the leader that they served.

Nigel Lawson quit as Chancellor in 1989 after telling Margaret Thatcher that she had a choice between him and her personal adviser, Sir Alan Walters. Stunned by the decision, Walters also tendered his resignation the same day.

In recent times, one well recalls the eventual downfall of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s main henchman, Alastair Campbell, and the infamous Iraq ”weapons of mass destruction” dossier.

In 2017, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill, Prime Minister Mrs. May’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, both resigned amid calls for the Prime Minister to sack them over their role in the Tory Election campaign. The party failed to secure a majority and the Prime Minister was then left clinging to power.

In the United States, during the Watergate Affair, President Richard Nixon’s Chief of Staff, H. R. “Bob” Haldeman, had been a loyal servant to President Nixon for 20 years prior to becoming Chief of Staff and was complicit in the illegal wiretapping and subsequent cover up after the Watergate incident. Nixon resigned and was pardoned by President Gerald Ford but it was Haldeman who was convicted and sent to jail.

Although he had been “elected” as an MP during his earlier career, Thomas Cromwell (1485-1540) subsequently became King Henry VIII’s most notorious minister. The son of a brewer, he manoeuvred his way to the top by intrigue, bribery and sheer personality. Cromwell pursued Henry’s interests single-mindedly. Tasked with engineering the judicial murder of Anne Boleyn, he organised a “show trial” of Stalinist efficiency. He orchestrated the seizure of the monasteries.

Eventually, after assuming almost absolute power and riches beyond all those except the King himself and “the old money” of the Duke of Norfolk, he pushed his master too far. He was executed on 28th July, 1540 at Tower Hill, London.

(It should be noted that, although Thomas Cromwell was beheaded, the King did later recognise his former “enforcer’s usefulness as he, Henry, was beset with political turmoil thereafter until his own death).

History sometimes has a habit of repeating itself (not Tower Hill).

Andrew Blick of Kings College, London, author of “People who live in the dark”, a history of Special Advisers, says, “It is the nature of the job that they are politically exposed. It is also in the nature of the job that they are there to do things that normal Civil Servants can’t and shouldn’t do, and which politicians want done for them. Therefore, you can expect there to be periodic issues like this.”

One is keen to note that a spad’s power is derived from the relevant Minister. Should they get above their station or become too influential, that is ultimately the fault of the employer.

Perhaps Mr. Cummings should reflect on the political damage that he has done to the Conservative Party and the Prime Minister and not delude himself that he is indispensable.

He might like to also remember that you meet the same people on the way down as you did on your way up.

All Lives Matter

As a predominately left-wing, anarchist mob continued, unabated or restrained by the Police, to attack what they deem to be racist statues, it is interesting and appalling to see the total inaction taken by the some senior police personnel to prevent wanton criminal damage.

When appointed to the office of constable in England and Wales, all officers are required to take an oath of allegiance which is…..“I do solemnly and sincerely declare I will well and truly serve the Queen in the office of constable with fairness, dignity, diligence and impartiality, upholding fundamental human rights and according equal respect to all people and I will, to the best of my power, cause the peace to be kept.”

That is of course, except Mr. Alan Pugheley, none other than the Chief Constable of Kent, who made a gesture of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement.

He said, “It was an act of humility. It was important to me to take in this show of solidarity. We at Kent police stand with those who are horrified at the manner in which George Floyd lost his life.”

Millions of people throughout the world were disgusted at the treatment of the late Mr. Floyd but they were not a senior Police Chief supposedly setting an example to his men as how to be impartial, according to the oath he and his officers took upon becoming police officers.

Does that now mean that all his officers can forget their oath of allegiance – no longer being IMPARTIAL? It would be interesting to see his IMPARTIALITY towards patriotic black and white veterans of the services should they choose to protect public statues from wanton criminal damage because he, and perhaps his officers, are biased towards the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Surely, he should be neutral whatever his personal feelings may be, or do we now live within a police state that dictates what is criminal or democratic, or is he a racist and anti-white?

All lives matter, of whatever race, whether they are black, brown, Chinese or white – what’s the difference, Mr. Pugheley?

 

Mr. Johnson’s official spokesman said: “The PM’s view is that, in this country, where there is strong opinion there is a democratic process which should be followed.

“People can campaign for the removal of a statue but what happened yesterday was a criminal act and when the criminal law is broken that is unacceptable and the police will want to hold to account those responsible.

“The PM absolutely understands the strength of feeling, but in this country we settle our differences democratically and if people wanted the removal of the statue there are democratic routes which can be followed.”

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Club Comment - May 2020

A Point of View

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the news, the lead story from our national broadcaster was (to paraphrase) “The Government haven’t bought enough ventilators, frontline NHS staff haven’t got enough Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE), The NHS can’t cope!!!!” Bla Bla Bla, etc etc.

Listening to the radio in disbelief, one asks: why was any of the above the Government’s fault?

This is reminiscent of an interview with a successful entrepreneur who owns a large string of KFC take-away shops all over the country. He explained that his business model does not really change from shop to shop, “they are all the same, we sell fried chicken”. But when he hears of public events or holidays, such as a Royal Wedding, or England qualifying for the Football World Cup etc, he reacts to the news, “gears up” and bulk buys more stock to accommodate the increase in footfall. He does not have a stratum of middle management doing this for him, he personally calls each shop in turn and lets the individual shop manager know to expect the increase of chicken. Simple!

Of course, the KFC businessman is in the private sector – where salaries and profits to shareholders are dependent upon performance and commercial expertise together with quality and profitability-related assessment, which is vastly different from being an NHS manager who is in a salaried taxpayer-funded position.

What actually is the organisational structure of the management of the NHS? Does anybody really know?

Some years ago, there was a television interview between a senior Professor who specialised in the NHS and a well-respected and very successful leader of a large group of public companies. Utilising a very large blackboard, the Professor detailed on it the “organisational line-management” structure of the NHS. By the time he had finished, it consisted of something akin to a London Underground map but with another map superimposed on top of it with extra lines and circles added.

After concluding his “presentation” and explanation, the Professor asked the Industry leader if he now had a better understanding of the workings of the NHS.

He replied, “Haven’t a clue.”

Here’s a question the BBC would never ask: Why haven’t the NHS Trust Executives, (e.g. the CEO’s paid more than the Prime Minister), ‘geared up’ and organised an increase of Chicken!!!! i.e. the ventilators or PPE needed to run their hospitals during the pandemic?

Is this not their job?

Do they not watch the news and react to world issues that might affect an increase in footfall of the Hospital Trusts they are being so highly paid to manage?

The Covid19 pandemic was identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. Surely those running our health industry, (those CEO Trust Executives mentioned earlier), would have had an up-front inkling of what was coming before the news was released for public consumption.

You can bet your bottom dollar they know when a priceless piece of art is coming up for auction to furnish their offices. (One NHS Trust boasted of being “the largest art gallery in Liverpool”.)

Here’s part of the problem. Post 1970s, there are certain subjects that our political representatives criticise at their peril: a particular Religion, lest one might be considered phobic; Race, lest one might be construed as racist; and Gender, lest one might be accused of being homophobic.

We are now experiencing a new subject to cast a total eclipse on all the above proscribed subjects – that sacred cow, the NHS. The greatest political Hot Potato of them all!!

You might be wondering why at this moment in time, when we are relying on the NHS to literally save the Nations lives, this article appears to be criticising our carers.

Well, it isn’t.

It is, however, prosecuting a case for some serious reform of the bureaucracy and culling of the middle to senior management, who obviously aren’t cutting it.

To say the NHS is broken as it is, is not to say there aren’t some fantastic people working within it, of course there are; in fact, the vast majority are caring, dedicated, professional people. The incompetence of the leadership in some NHS Trusts, appointed purely because of their left leaning political affiliation, are most definitely not.

The NHS is the largest employer in Europe and thought to be the 8th largest employer in the world at a cost of £140bn a year; that’s 25p in every pound of central government spending.

There are some 300,000 nurses, 270,000 doctors and another 1.2 million employees. This last figure is obviously made up of other essential workers such as biochemists, radiographers, pharmacists etc. There are other essential services such as cleaners, porters and catering, though a lot of these jobs are now contracted out and are not included in the 1.2m figure.

The bill for this outsourcing is massive, far more than employing directly, as are thousands of nurses who were previously taxpayer-trained and employed within the NHS, now rented out by agencies at huge costs way above the NHS employee rate. But hey, at least these are front line costs.

What there are a lot of in that 1.2m, and costing millions of pounds without any front-line experience, are MANAGERS. If ever there was use of the phrase “Too many Chiefs, not enough Indians”!!!

The NHS Careers website lists 78 categories of manager. Here are just a few from a quick search: Clinical management, human resources management, IT and Financial management, Communications management, Green management, Diversity and Human Rights management, Art Curator and Programme manager… the list is endless. Cost-wise, the NHS employed at least 826 public relations staff at an estimated cost of £34 million, at least 165 equality and diversity staff at a cost of more than £6.8 million and at least 86 ‘green’ staff costing around £3.5 million.

Here’s an example of job vacancies recently advertised (April 2020) showing where the priorities lie with the NHS Management cult, see the comparison of wages from a frontline Nurse to a “Manager”.

North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust put out two job vacancies on 21st and 30th April 2020 respectively. Communications Manager £43K to £49K per annum. Nurse £27K to £34K per annum.

Makes you think, doesn’t it!

On 19th April 2020, University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Foundation advertised for a….. wait for it…. Diversity and Inclusion Manager £44K – £50K per annum. Enough said.

The NHS needs a wholesale restructuring to cull these cosmetic positions and bring procurement and cost effectiveness up to the same standard as the frontline care. Trusts need to go and we should “KFC” centralise administration, saving a fortune on unnecessary managers and frivolous spending. You could pump another £20 billion into the NHS and it wouldn’t make a jot of difference. Most likely it would disappear on artwork to cover the diversity officers and procurement managers’ offices.

Why don’t we use the ‘DVLA’ as an example, who, as an executive agency of the Department for Transport, successfully run the country’s driving licences and collection of vehicle excise duty from a central base in Swansea, employing no more than 5,500 people.

OK, we’re probably looking at employing more than the DVLA to administrate our health service but let’s think about this. The Government could create a central NHS hub, somewhere in the North, bringing a much-needed boost of employment to an economically deprived area and save millions in the process.

Just think of the advantages for procurement, maybe then the NHS wouldn’t be spending millions on paracetamol, when the same drug is available to the public at a fraction of the cost over the counter.

The Coronavirus emergency should pave the way for our politicians to grasp the NHS Hot Potato once and for all; light a bonfire of all those non-essential managerial positions that have been created over years of political correctness; and have a full scale review of the financing of our health service. Maybe then the British Taxpayer would get the world-class health service currently being paid for.

One last thought…Why are we the second largest donor to the utterly useless, Chinese-controlled ‘World Health Authority’, an organisation that appointed Mugabe as a good will ambassador!

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Club Comment - August 2019

Support Them Or Lose Them

I am sure that most of our members are well aware of the recent allegations made against senior Metropolitan Police officers, both serving and retired, regarding the “Stasi” type raids made by their officers on the homes of Field Marshall the Lord Bramall, the late Lord Brittan and Mr Harvey Proctor; amongst others. These raids were in respect of allegations made by Mr Carl Beech; the VIP child sex abuse fantasist known as “Nick.” He is currently serving eighteen years in jail having been convicted of twelve counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud.

Despite some of these officers being exonerated as a result of an independent inquiry, new allegations regarding the unlawful obtaining of search warrants are to be investigated and the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, is ordering a review of the new evidence.

It is therefore heartening, yet as the same time distressing, to read that after the brutal murder of PC Andrew Harper, killed whilst investigating the theft of a quad bike, the savage machete attack on PC Stuart Outten and other similar incidents against ordinary police officers, two Chief Constables have finally decided to afford greater protection to their “front line” officers.

The Chief Constables of Northamptonshire and Durham have stated that all front line officers who want to carry a Taser on duty will get one. Northamptonshire’s Chief Constable, Nick Adderley, stated that “…the risks his officers face had risen dramatically.”

Jo Farrell, the Chief Constable of Durham, endorsed this and said; “Sadly there are situations in which police officers need to take immediate action to subdue violent suspects to protect the public.”

As he was being attacked by an assailant armed with a machete, PC Outten, although severely injured, managed to Taser the suspect and by doing so probably saved his own life. His attacker has been charged with attempted murder.

As shocking and distressing as these recent attacks upon officers are, they are no longer a rarity. The crime epidemic sweeping the United Kingdom has seen the number of attacks on officers trying to arrest offenders increase dramatically. In 2018 there were 10,399 assaults on officers that caused injuries – this is a 32% increase from 7,903 recorded in 2015-16. The Office of National Statistics recorded a further 20,578 reported assaults without injury.

As the spiral of violence – particularly the use of knives to murder or injure members of the public and police officers – continues seemingly unchecked, what sentences are available to the Courts to deter criminals from assaulting police officers?

The Police Act, 1996 s.89 makes it an offence to assault a police officer in the execution of his duty and the Sentencing Council of England and Wales has determined a maximum level 5 fine or twenty-six weeks custody. Needless to say, these sentences are subject to numerous caveats regarding the age of offender, seriousness of the assault, previous convictions, income etc. As a supposed deterrent this is woefully inadequate.

As an example of how lenient our Courts are, a twenty-two year old man who spat blood at a police officer in the UK was only handed a community order.

John Apter, Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales said, “There has got to be a deterrent. The overwhelming feeling from very many police officers is that the wider criminal justice system doesn’t rate assaults on officers with sufficient gravitas.”

Three months ago, new legislation came into effect – The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act which made assaults on officers punishable with jail terms of up to twelve months. Contrast that with the United States of America, where spitting at a police officer carries a sentence of ten to fifteen years!

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has stated that he will increase the number of police offers by 20,000 (there has been a reduction in police numbers over the last 10 years of 22,000).

He is to be commended for his concern regarding the appalling rise in violent crime on the once safe streets of Britain. When these officers are eventually recruited and trained and a visible presence is once again on the streets of this country, it will certainly be a help towards restoring public safety and confidence.

Sadly, an increase in police numbers will not on its own solve the unchecked crime epidemic experienced across our towns, cities and in rural areas.

The mind-set and perception (if they perceive anything) amongst many of today’s violent criminals is that they can commit any crime they want completely unchecked and with the use of gratuitous violence. They have no conscience and are not even concerned about the prison term as the main thing that they do know is that it is highly unlikely that they will be apprehended. Indeed, they have no respect for the police at all (which has been graphically highlighted in this Club Comment); they will assault officers to avoid arrest.

Even if apprehended, their likelihood of receiving a custodial sentence is remote. If fined, fines remain unpaid and they are not brought back before the courts due to manpower shortages in attempting to locate them. In effect, as usual, in their mind, they have got away with their crimes. This only serves to encourage reoffending.

For many, many years, some sectors of society, in the form of the courts, the Howard League for Penal Reform and Human Rights charities such as Amnesty, have all managed to promote the, “softly, softly”, “use kid gloves” approach to the perpetrators of crime.

Painfully, for the majority of law-abiding members of society, this approach has not worked and this is graphically illustrated by the daily violence now taking place in our streets.

For Boris Johnson to turn the tide of leftist social policy towards criminals, it requires a complete change of attitude by our Courts; particularly towards the sentencing for violent crime. Yes, if we have to build new maximum security prisons to house these dangerous individuals who have to be removed from the streets to protect their fellow subjects, then so be it.

There will, of course, be cries of where does the money come from to build these new prisons?

Perhaps the government, now led by a new dynamic Prime Minister, will utilise some of the £14.5 billion of taxpayer’s money that is so shamefully handed out in the form of International Development Aid to wealthy countries such as India and China and others with despotic rulers who pocket the money for themselves.

Surely, allowing the Queen’s subjects to walk down the streets of this country without fear of being stabbed or assaulted is a mandatory obligation? Why must the majority of society be subjected to wanton violence?

Some members of society may even start taking the law into their own hands to more proactively defend themselves. Dare I suggest that we may eventually encounter this sort of rule by the mob.

This may seem like overstating the case but when Amnesty has stated that the public “…should resist the drum-beat of calls for all police to carry Tasers,” it indicates the up-hill battle we are facing.

Perhaps members of Amnesty would like to patrol unarmed in some of the most violent areas of the country and adopt a softly, softly approach to a violent drug-fuelled individual wielding a machete or shotgun?

The lawlessness across our land has not just occurred. Over the last forty years, a general malaise, financial cut-backs, apathy, rapid decline in normal standards of conduct in a civilized society, leftist ideology in our courts, a breakdown of parental control, lower standards of education amongst the socially deprived – we still have sixteen-year-olds leaving school unable to read, write or do multiplication. There are 8 million adults (18 plus) in the UK who are functionally illiterate and therefore unable to obtain well-paid work.

Unless robust action is taken now by this Government, violence on our streets will escalate. If the police are unable to contain the daily stabbings and murders then society has allowed the criminals to rule the streets.

The Courts, and the government must have a completely different mind-set – otherwise, eventually the country will reflect saying “How DID WE EVER LET IT GET TO THIS??”

 

 

 

 

 

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Club Comment - March 2019

Preventing the Slaughter

On Tuesday 5th March 2019, The Daily Mail newspaper published on its front page the photographs of 27 teenagers, all of whom had been stabbed to death during the last 12 months.

Last year, there were more fatal stabbings since records began with knife crime being at its highest since 2011.

Since The Daily Mail’s publication, the slaughter of young people by stabbing has averaged one per day and, sadly, appears to be continuing with no immediate prospect of these statistics being reduced. While some of the stabbings are in the poorer estates of our cities and are undoubtedly gang-related, no town in this country is now immune from such senseless murders of young people.

In some areas it is almost de rigueur for youths to carry an assortment of bladed weapons for self-protection from dominance and intimidation by rival gangs. These youths have become desensitised to the realities and dangers and act with total impunity.

By their own admission, many have no fear; or any respect for any form of authority, whether it be their parent/s or the police. Their “status” in their own territory is enhanced by the carrying of an offensive weapon or, in an increasing number of cases, a firearm. These lethal weapons enable them to conduct their drug dealing and, by violence and intimidation, coerce other youths to assist them in their illegal activities. Non-compliance in the majority of instances results in yet another teenager being murdered.

What has been so lamentable has been the Government’s response to this nationwide carnage; particularly that of the Prime Minister, Mrs May.

Treating the population as if we are all unintelligent idiots, she stated, “…that it was a mistake to link the knife epidemic with police cuts,…” insisting that, “…there was no direct correlation.”

This is the same incompetent individual who, when she was Home Secretary, prevented the police from addressing the rising incidents of knife crime, by reducing their powers to use Stop and Search to detect young people carrying offensive weapons.

She was too concerned that their actions might offend any members of minority racial groups subjected to these searches. Perhaps Mrs May should ask the bereaved parents of children slaughtered in Brixton and other areas of the country what their views are in regard to Stop and Search – the majority, it appears, are in total favour, provided it is conducted by officers using tact and courtesy.

Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Lord Stevens, repeatedly warned the Prime Minister when she was Home Secretary about the continued escalation of violence on the streets of London. He said that he questioned whether Mrs May understood policing and he further criticised her decision to make Stop and Search more bureaucratic. He advocated less political correctness in forces and a return to proper hard-edged policing to strip thugs of their confidence.

He added, “Mrs May hasn’t listened to what’s being going on and it is not good enough.” Later, asked if he thought Mrs May was up to dealing with the knife crisis, Lord Stevens said, “I doubt it.”

In direct contrast to the Prime Minister’s inaction, the present Home Secretary, Mr Sajid Javid, has hosted a “knife crime summit” with senior police officers and has committed to working with the police and has stated that the government has to listen to them when they talk about resources.

Yet again, the Prime Minister interfered and clashed with the Home Secretary when he demanded changes to Stop and Search powers. Mrs May wants these powers restricted to so called “hot spots.” (The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Britain’s second largest Police Force, Mr Dave Thompson, takes a totally different view and has requested “blanket cover” regarding Stop and Search in respect of the whole of Birmingham as the situation there with murders and violent crime is spiralling out of control.)

As I am sure Monday Club members will have read in newspapers and been informed on daily news bulletins, police numbers and resources have continued to fall and, according to the National Audit Office, they have fallen 19% in real terms from 2010-11. Mrs May does not seem to grasp the point that the reduction of over 20,000 police officers has had a dramatic effect on the deterrent and detection capability of our police officers to reduce violent crime on the streets of this country.

Mr John Apter, National Chairman of Police Federation of England and Wales has stated, “policing has been stripped to the bone and the consequences are clear, splashed across our newspapers – children being murdered on our streets. This is the true cost of austerity that we warned of but were ridiculed for doing so. Those consequences have become a reality but still the Prime Minister fails to accept the truth.”

Let us forget the suggestions put forward of having a Knife Crime Tsar and analyse the reality of the current situation.

When he was Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the late Sir Robert Mark suggested that the greatest deterrent to committing any crime was the percentage possibility in the mind of the offender at being apprehended.

At present, without quoting figures from individual Constabularies, that certainty of being apprehended is below 10%.

To greatly increase the percentage of crimes being reduced, we should start with the physical presence of more foot patrol officers in our towns to act as a deterrent and their ability to quickly “nip in the bud” any anti-social type of behaviour immediately. Such unlawful behaviour if left unchecked – as it most certainly is currently – inherently leads to the offenders’ “certainty of NOT being apprehended.” Therefore, why would such individuals be deterred from committing even more serious crimes?

Law-abiding members of the public would feel comforted that there is a uniformed police presence in their towns and city centres, whereas in many areas of the country there are currently “no go areas” which have become the territory of the unchecked lawless.

There is no doubt that, if the above suggestion were put to the majority of the population, there would be a resounding vote of approval for the immediate implementation of such resources.

Sadly, if and when the perpetrators of violent crime are placed before our Courts, the judicial system seems to favour the accused rather than consideration for the victim.

Despite the fanfare, when David Cameron was Prime Minister, that knife crime and possession of an offensive weapon would be dealt with robustly and harshly by our Courts, the reality couldn’t be more different.

Under current Ministry of Justice guidelines, the offence of carrying a knife or offensive weapon in a public place of a school is:-

At Magistrates Court – 6 months’ imprisonment and/or a fine.

For a second offence – (unless there are extenuating circumstances) 6 months’ imprisonment.

At Crown Courts – on indictment 4 years’ imprisonment and a fine.

In reality, Magistrates have been directed by The Justice Department not to send offenders to prison as Mr David Gauke, the Justice Secretary, believes such sentences are ineffective and is advocating community order instead and new tagging procedures to enforce such orders.

Mr Gauke believes that tougher sentences are not the answer to knife crime, “The idea that tougher sentences provide the prominent answer to knife crime – I just do not think the evidence supports that.”

To date, no information has been published as to who and where the resources are coming from to monitor the tagged offenders, as currently, the Probation Service is in a state of crisis and cannot even cope with monitoring recently-released inmates from prison. Currently, a large proportion of young offenders sentenced to community service don’t even turn up and, even if and when they are placed before a Court for breach of these orders, they are not penalised. In effect – they have received no sentence for their crimes.

Contrast this laissez-faire attitude to the vigour and zeal being employed by the Government to hound and pursue members of the Parachute Regiment who were carrying out their orders when they opened fire in Northern Ireland on “Bloody Sunday.”

“Many veterans, now in their mid-seventies, are being made scapegoats to placate the so-called Peace Process.

Writing in a letter to The Daily Telegraph on 9th March 2019, a reader questioned when will the Northern Ireland Secretary, Karen Bradley, report on what progress is being made into the murders in 1972 of the 27 members of the British Army, Ulster Defence Regiment and officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary by members of the Derry Brigade of the Provisional IRA?

Contrast these soldiers and police officers who served their country with that of Mr Kyle Davis, 18, who appeared at Magistrates Court in Birmingham the day after The Daily Mail’s publication of the photographs of the 27 murdered teenagers.

Davis received a suspended sentence, despite being caught with cocaine and a knife – his second weapons offence. He was pictured apparently laughing and swaggering as he walked out of Court taking a “selfie” of himself.

If the Conservative Government – whose conservative Party prides itself on being the Party of Law and Order – had the will to support the police, protect the public from offenders committing crimes and – as has been discussed in this Editorial – deter young people from acts of violence, would it not be more effective to prosecute knife crimes at Crown Court instead of at Magistrates?

As prisoners normally only serve half their custodial sentence, the minimum sentence should be increased to 6 years in gaol and a second offence to 12 years.

The next excuse from the Chancellor will be but where does the money come from to build new gaols?

Perhaps some of the wasteful £14.5 billion of taxpayers’ money spent on foreign aid would be adequate for several maximum-security prisons, staffed by Prison Service personnel and not contracted out to private companies who have proved to be an utter disaster.

Why should we donate £90.1 million to India – a country with more billionaires than Britain and one of the largest Defence Forces in the world?

Like India with its nuclear weapons, its neighbour Pakistan is in receipt of £402.5 million of taxpayers’ money, with Turkey – another country with a massive army – benefiting from £137.9 million, supposedly to help their farmers improve their techniques.

A spokesman for the UK Government stated: “Our aid commitment increases Britain’s global influence and allows us to shape the world around us, which is firmly in the UK’s interest.”

Surely, “The UK’s interest” is at home to fund the resources to prevent the tragic life-changing and emotional upheaval experienced by families as a result of the on-going knife crime plague rather than squandering vast sums of money on overseas countries.

In the long-term, obviously prevention is better than cure but such prevention can only be successful if the police – with very much enhanced personnel – are able to work with communities and turn young people away from violence.

Many of these initiatives are already in place and have resulted in a different attitude by young people towards the police.

Sadly, for those who continue hell-bent on drug-dealing and being part of a gang culture or committing anti-social behaviour, then only a very visible police presence and a Justice system that punishes the offender will succeed.

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Club Comment - October 2018

Pain and Punishment

Britain’s Brexit is being betrayed by Brussels bureaucrats whose primary purpose is to inflict pain and punishment on our people.

There is a deep and distinct disconnection between British politicians and European Union (EU) politicians. The majority of British politicians appear to prioritise the economic interest of the nation above the political interest. For example, the UK Government is content for naval support vessels, and for other arms and defence vehicles, to be built overseas as it is cheaper and therefore seen as better value for money. Many pro-Brexit politicians were not won over by arguments of national sovereignty but rather by economic free trade arguments and, consequently, they place a higher value on economic interests rather than political interests.

This is in direct contrast to most EU politicians who prioritise the political interest over the economic interest of the nation. For example, to continue the defence analogy, France mostly buys its military material from French companies even though this is a very expensive exercise. This is because their definition of value is not just economically defined but encompasses national security, social values and the public good i.e. political concerns.

The prime example of this prioritisation of the political interest over the economic interest is, however, most clearly seen in the euro zone. In the many recent euro crises, it would have been in the economic interest of most countries to come out of the euro zone and adjust their currencies and policies to best suit their economic conditions. However, unlike the British who withdrew from the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992 after it became economically unviable, all the euro zone countries have put their political interest – that is the EU project – above their economic interest and remained a part of the euro zone.

Consequently, there appears to be an inability among British politicians to understand that, even if the EU will suffer economically, – e.g. German car manufacturers, as they have recently shown with Mini production – due to not having a trade deal with the UK, it will accept that as part of the political price to be paid to ensure both the survival and growth of the EU and as a visible punishment to the UK in order to frighten off other potential leavers.

Essentially, this analysis leads to the conclusion that the whole approach of the EU to the Brexit negotiations is to ensure that the UK does not end up with a trade deal and that it is, essentially, an exercise in punishment designed to be as long, protracted and costly for the UK as possible – with a secondary aim of lessening support for Brexit among the UK population and attempting to ensure that the UK either stays a part of the EU or as a significant contributor to EU funds – as they will sorely miss our billions in their budget.

This is why the EU is trying to get the UK to pay a bribe for a trade deal – what they euphemistically call a settlement of our obligations. What obligations are these I wonder? The UK has been a net contributor to the EU since it joined in 1973 – that is 45 years of more than paying our way. The EU’s own negotiation rules state that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, yet they now insist that we legally owe them tens of billions before they will agree to even discuss a future trade deal.

Of course, if any other country or company demanded a large payment before even discussing a trade deal it would correctly be called a bribe i.e. corruption. We should not be surprised at corruption in the EU as its own audit watchdog has refused to sign off the EU’s own budget for many years due to endemic fraud and corruption. Should we – the UK – pay a bribe? No, of course not. The UK has long taken a stand against corruption and this should not change now. We should simply not pay the bribe the EU is demanding. We are not legally obliged to do so, according to the House of Lords Financial Affairs Sub-Committee. When we leave the EU, our financial obligations to the EU end. Simple as that.

It is instructive in these negotiations that we have seen the UK time and again compromising when the EU has made no such compromise at all. Such a one-sided negotiation process will inevitably end up with a one-sided agreement – a one-sided agreement that is not in the UK’s interest. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing every time and expecting a different result every time. Why are we continually wasting our time and taxpayer’s money? The problem was that British politicians thought they would get a bespoke deal that will ensure access to the single market for the City – however, the EU has consistently stated that the single market and its four freedoms are inviolate. We need to realise this – the EU has stated that there will be no bespoke deal for the UK outside of the rules of the single market.

This point has been proved by the PM’s Chequers attempt at an agreement which, partly acknowledging the City point above, tried to stay in the single market for goods but left the City – i.e. services – out of the single market. Yet again the EU said no, that would violate the single market – a lesson our politicians have still not learnt.

For the EU, there can be no dilution of the four freedoms of the single market as this would lead to calls from other countries for a relaxation of the rules to suit their economies – this would lead to an unravelling of the ever closer union policy which is driving the federalisation agenda of the EU. For the EU to benefit politically from Brexit – i.e. the removal of the strongest voice against federalisation – it is essential that there is no relaxation of rules but rather that they are more strictly enforced in order to ensure that federalisation continues apace. We have seen this in the renewed push for an EU army and a common defence and security policy, which we were assured during the referendum was not on the cards, but was immediately pushed after the Brexit result.

On the economic front, Barnier’s Chequers presentation almost gave the game away by revealing that releasing the City from the red tape of the single market would allow the UK to grow this economic sector at the expense of the EU. If you follow the logic of this argument, then the best outcome for Brexit would be the UK also freeing goods as well as services from the red tape of the single market – strictures of the single market would be more appropriate than freedoms, it would appear, by the EU’s own admission. Far from convergence, it would appear, even the EU recognises that divergence is the best Brexit policy for the UK. So damaging was this presentation that our Prime Minister even had to ask the EU to try to hide it in order to lessen the media exposure of these truths, which were – quite rightly – undermining support for her disastrous and damaging Chequers proposal. The presentation was viewed by our Prime Minister just hours after Barnier presented it, yet again displaying the effectiveness and efficiency of our intelligence service.

The EU will sorely miss the expertise and world class outcomes of our security and intelligence services as a part of their common security and defence policy. This issue of security is, perhaps, one of the best examples of how the EU is determined to punish Britain both politically and economically, even at considerable cost to themselves. The UK has passed on much high-grade intelligence to the EU – saving lives and protecting the public; while not one-way traffic, the information flow comes much more from us than to us.

Following Brexit, it is in the interests of the EU to ensure security co-operation, which benefits all. However, the example of Galileo has proved beyond a doubt that the EU is just not interested in co-operation but rather confrontation and punishment.

The fact is that, by excluding British technology, geographic locations and funding, it means this project will be much more difficult for the EU to complete – yet this proves they are willing to harm themselves in order to punish the UK. Yet more evidence they are not interested in any deal except no deal.

Another example of the EU playing fast and loose with security concerns is their using Northern Ireland (NI) as a political weapon. We are told the Belfast Agreement (also called the Good Friday Agreement) means there has to be EU law across the island of Ireland. Quite the opposite is, in fact, the case. The Belfast Agreement – endorsed by a vote across the island of Ireland – actually accepted the partition of Ireland, removed the Irish constitution’s territorial claim and accepted that NI is a part of the UK, unless and until its people vote to accept a united Ireland. That has not happened. Therefore NI remains a part of the UK and, like the rest of the UK, will leave the EU on 31st March 2019. It is unacceptable that NI would be treated like a part of the EU and not a part of the UK. To force NI to remain a part of the EU and not the UK would, in fact, be against both the letter and the spirit of the Belfast Agreement. Our Prime Minister is right to insist no British Prime Minister could accept anything other than NI remaining a full part of the UK. To do otherwise is to dismiss democracy, both that of the people of NI in their desire to remain a part of the UK and the result of the UK Brexit vote to leave the EU.

To those who say, “Why should NI remain a part of the UK?” and, “What is the matter with it staying in the EU and becoming part of a united Ireland?”, I would recommend a history lesson. In two world wars, the UK came very close to being starved into submission. Winning the Atlantic wars against the U-Boats was crucial to the UK’s survival. Essential to keeping the Atlantic sea lanes open were the Irish ports. Denial of use of the Treaty ports in neutral Ireland during WW2 only emphasised how essential NI was with its 26 airfields, important naval bases and back up Western Approaches command bunker in Londonderry, where the U-Boat fleet surrendered in 1945.

Command of the waves around the UK is now even more essential in today’s century of uncertainty, with the rise of a resurgent Russia and a challenging China, with both showing increasing interest and activity in the Atlantic in recent years, forcing NATO to re-instate an Atlantic Command. A united Ireland would be a neutral Ireland and, hence, a threat to the security of the UK and NATO. It has been said that, if Ireland had been united and neutral during WW2, then Britain would have had to invade Ireland in order to provide the coastal bases necessary to survive. The strategic importance of NI to UK security is now apparent and we need to ensure the EU does not break up the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We need to remember our history, as we can be sure Berlin\Brussels remember theirs.

As if more evidence of the EU’s intransigence is required, we have the Irish border issue, used by the EU to drum up fear of a return to the Troubles. Let’s examine this issue. We are led to believe that, because of a democratic decision – the Brexit vote – republicans in NI will now return to violence to achieve their political aim of a united Irish republic. However, there is not the capacity nor appetite to return to widespread violence among the NI population. The US is a vastly different place than it was before 9/11 – there would be a lack of support there too, both in moral and monetary terms, for Irish terrorists. Yet it was the democratic decision to endorse the Belfast Agreement that ultimately led to the 2007 St Andrews Agreement, which allowed terrorists into Government in NI – i.e. the deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and others. The law-abiding people of Northern Ireland had to accept, as a result of democracy, that a terrorist was now a Minister in their Government. Republicans have declared they have laid down their arms and now support democracy and the rule of law. Now is the test of the truth of their declarations; if they cannot accept a democratic vote to leave the EU, then they are not democrats.

Democracy is, of course, feared by the EU, hence its lack of respect for, and avoidance of, democratic actions. This is why the EU demands that any agreement must be final and binding and that it cannot be changed by any future British Government. This breath-taking arrogance shows complete disrespect for our democracy and for the sovereignty of Parliament. This, of course, should come as no surprise to us as the EU has also demanded that there is a legally enforceable backstop, which is just another way of trying to tie us down to an agreement which would not be in our interest. The EU does not want a deal, instead it wants to ensure there is no deal; therefore, it is desperately trying to ensure that, when the inevitable no deal occurs, the UK is then locked into a legally enforceable agreement. The UK should ensure it does not agree to a backstop, which will not be in our interest but will only work to ensure the ongoing political and economic punishment of the UK.

Realising this, we should, instead, be promoting trade deals with other growing economies around the world – as the Financial Times recommends – rather than wasting our time on an EU that is deliberately being awkward and obstructive for a political purpose. A clear timescale of when we would leave would provide essential certainty and clarity to UK businesses and allow them to prepare for withdrawal. This is, of course, the Government’s fall-back position in 2019 if no deal is reached; however, all the time between now and then is just a waste of time, effort and taxpayers’ money and we should skip this unnecessary persistent pain and punishment and just leave – as per the referendum result. Do we need an immediate trade deal with the EU? No, neither China nor the US has a trade deal with the EU but both rely on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules, as we should, in the interim.

If you agree with this analysis, then the only logical approach is for the UK not to play the EU’s dangerous game – where they make up and amend the rules to suit them – but rather to pull the rug out from under them and just ignore the Article 50 divorce process – which is so obviously designed to run to the EU’s advantage, as its drafter has acknowledged – and just repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and revert to WTO rules. A trade deal could then be hammered out with the EU in our own time, rather than forced around an arbitrary timeline designed to put pressure on UK negotiators and force UK compromises, which in any case will not be acceptable as the EU requires a no deal in order to be seen to punish the UK and deter other potential leavers. What the Government needs to realise is that no deal is coming and it is time to start the public messaging that not only will the UK survive, but it will also thrive, as no deal at this time is actually our best deal.

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Club Comment - June 2018

For Those in Peril on the Sea

Of the hundreds of Charity organisations in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, I am sure that most people will have, at some time, donated money to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

To many people, their donation and in numerous instances, their legacy will contribute towards the daily running costs of maintaining lifeboat equipment; the purchase of new lifeboats and, of course, the provision of the safety equipment for the crews themselves.

At this point in this Newsletter, I have to declare a “financial” self interest in the RNLI, as I have been a regular donor for many years; believing that the money would be used for the purposes as outlined above – so, I am sure, have millions of other donors thought likewise.

When you have had time to read this Newsletter you may well wish to consider other Charities which you believe may be more in need of your generous donation.

Perhaps we have all been a little too trusting and naive – thinking that the men and women at the sharp end – those volunteers who, at a moment’s notice, leave their regular occupations or beds during the night to put their lives on the line to rescue those in peril on the sea – were the people we were assisting and what a worthy cause.

The men and women of our lifeboats are to be applauded for their self-sacrifice; unpaid commitment to providing a volunteer service unrivalled in the world. Sadly, to use a military expression rather than nautical one, it appears to be yet another case of “Lions led by donkeys.”

The Financial reality of the RNLI is somewhat different. Since its foundation in 1824, the public, as mentioned, has been more than generous in their repeated support and donations for the Charity.

So much so that, in 2016, the income for the RNLI was £191 million, which is apparently £177 million more than it takes to run its 238 stations (not forgetting that, apart from some full-time mechanics, the lifeboat station personnel are unpaid – unlike the army of administrative personnel, which we will come to later.)

According to a recent report in the Daily Mail newspaper, the Charity’s overall assets (including property and boats) have grown to £712 million, of which £271 million is now held in “investments”.

Some major companies in the private sector would rejoice at this yearly income and a “war chest” of £271 million.

In some ways, the RNLI is similar to a major corporation as, in 2016, it had on its payroll 2,366 employees with 35 senior executives earning more than £60,000pa, and its Chief Executive Paul Boissier on a total package of £162,705.

This cosy, well-off institution, with all its executives and full-time employees, has, however, a major problem – that is, the volunteers who actually risk their lives doing the rescues at sea.

They are currently, it would appear, a thorn in the side of the otherwise financially prosperous charity with its state-of-the-art website, explaining how to leave a legacy, how to donate and resumés of its Executive Team.

In recent years, despite protestations to the contrary by Mr Paul Boissier, or I should refer to him as Vice Admiral; his naval rank when writing a letter to the Daily Mail on 15/05/2018, the relations between the “management” and the volunteer crew members has reached crisis point.

In July 2016, 12 volunteers at the New Brighton Station were sacked by the RNLI as a result of a dispute with the Station’s Management over them refusing to sign a new “code of conduct” agreement.

In 2017, Andy Hibbs, the Coxswain of the St Helier lifeboat in Jersey, was sacked for allegedly launching the lifeboat without authority. He had joined the lifeboat in Jersey aged 21 and, now 45, had spent most of his adult life putting his life in jeopardy to save others – unpaid of course.

After many months, the claim was found to be untrue and Mr Hibbs was reinstated. He was furious that the RNLI had not believed him and that they refused to inform him who made the allegation. He angrily (Edt. understandably) emailed an RNLI manager saying “the whole thing was b****cks” and was sacked for breaking the charity’s “code of conduct.”

As a result, local public protests followed and Mr Hibbs was reinstated but with the RNLI insisting that a full-time employee from HQ had to be stationed in St Helier to oversee him.

After months of friction, the total crew resigned and St Helier was effectively without lifeboat cover. It transpired that the original complaint against Mr Hibbs was made to RNLI Chief Executive Paul Boissier by Phil Buckley, then the harbour master at St Helier, whom it appears was a longstanding acquaintance of Mr Boissier; both having served together on Royal Navy submarines.

Still devoted to serving the public. Mr Hibbs and his lifeboat team have now formed the Jersey Lifeboat Association and will shortly be launching their own boat totally separate from the RNLI.

The sorry saga of mis-management by the RNLI continues unabated.

Earlier this year, as members may have read in the press, the Whitby lifeboat crew were the latest volunteers to be the subject of RNLI “management” when some saucy mugs were found in the lockers at the lifeboat station and 2 crew members were sacked for what was termed “pornographic images” even though it was joke.

The mugs were in a cupboard but the RNLI alleged that “they could have been seen by visiting schoolchildren”. Four other crew members resigned and 11,000 local people have signed a petition for them to be reinstated.

In Scarborough recently; on the same stretch of wild coast line, Tom Clark, the coxswain with 34 Years of life boat service, has been sacked for allegedly breaking health and safety regulations when he went on a sea exercise with unauthorised passengers on board. A petition to reinstate him has gathered 5,000 signatures.

The “Politically Correct Night of the Long Knives” storms on with the Coxswain of the Arbroath lifeboat being sacked for an incident at the last Christmas party which was deemed to be practical joke. Two other crew members left in protest, resulting in Arbroath being without a lifeboat for months.

Next – over to Anglesey, North Wales, where the coxswain resigned together with a fellow crew member.

We move to Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, where two senior helmsmen were sacked for allegedly taking incorrectly-trained staff on a rescue.

Apparently, last year, there was a restructuring of management implemented by recently resigned Director of Community Lifesaving and Fundraising Leesa Harwood. This new “restructuring” created 42 “area lifesaving managers” responsible to supervise 6 lifeboat stations each. Apparently, in the past, “regional managers” responsible for dozens of stations would visit every six months. Now, volunteers are inspected monthly or even weekly in some instances.

To quote Tom Clark, who was sacked after 34 years’ service: “Too many area managers, including the one who got rid of me, are young graduates who have never been to sea and have no idea of the skill and effort required to be a lifeboat man”. Mr Clark did admit swearing, which was one reason for his dismissal, but stated “Yes I did swear but being at sea is a rufty-tufty sort of place” (Edt. Most people may well be forgiven for swearing in a force 10 gale.)

Some months ago, I wrote, in my personal capacity, to Mr Paul Boissier regarding the fact that the sacking of the Jersey lifeboat Coxswain was utterly ridiculous and pointing out to him that, without volunteers, there wouldn’t be a lifeboat service in this country.

In fairness, he did reply very promptly to my complaint and stated how much the work of the volunteer crew members was appreciated but that they had to abide by health and safety regulations.

One could facetiously argue that Mr Boissier is being complicit in the crews’ breaking any health and safety regulations by them putting to sea to rescue stricken sailors when the sea state is above force 5, as this may endanger their safety when manoeuvring near a stricken vessel.

If you should visit Whitby Lifeboat Station, which is located in the harbour, it has the name “George and Mary Webb” inscribed on the side of the vessel. A crew member informed me that they had bequeathed the cost of purchase of this vessel to the RNLI.

Further down the East Coast of Britain, at Aldeburgh in Suffolk, is located the Aldeburgh lifeboat. In 1993, the boat was named “Freddie Cooper” funded by the legacy of Mrs Winifred May Cooper.

So devoted to serving voluntarily at sea to save perhaps fellow sailors, are generations of the Cable family. In 1954, Patrick Cable, aged 16, went out on service. James Cable was a famous Coxswain of the 19th century; serving for 30 years from 1888 to 1917.

He was awarded the RNLI Silver Medal three times for bravery. Today, 8th generation James Cable is the full-time mechanic at Aldeburgh Life Boat Station.

One wonders whether, with its ever growing “fleet” of administrators and managers, the RNLI, will eventually have any volunteers left to man the lifeboats. Perhaps the currently advertised “Safeguarding Officer” post, earning up to £41,926 and responsible for “health, safety and wellbeing”, won’t mind being called from his/her bed at 2am to venture into the North Sea in a Force 9 gale.

Surely, the time has come for this utter nonsense of volunteers being drowned in paperwork should cease and allow them to do what they volunteered for – saving lives; pathetic treatment of some of the nation’s unsung and unpaid heroes to be recognised; and for Mr Paul Boissier to have the dignity to resign and make space for a Chief Executive who has common sense and who will employ like-minded individuals who have the welfare of the crew foremost and “ticking boxes and diversity” last.

A person drowning needs a lifeboat, which this country has a long proud history of providing – but for how long?

Of course, the health and safety of the lifeboat crew is of paramount importance and this has been acknowledged by Mr Boissier both in his personal reply to me and in a letter dated 15/05/2018 which he had published in the Daily Mail.

Nevertheless, once the alarm is sounded, every second is critical and there is no spare time for unnecessary “management” procedural delays.

Perhaps Mr Boissier would have been wiser when implementing radical changes, to invest in professional Change Management and inter-personal skills training for his HQ Implementation Team.

Perhaps, if there had been more patience and forbearance shown, then it could have been proved that “Old dogs can be taught new tricks.”

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Club Comment - March 2018

The Dangers of Higher Education / Communism Kills

The Dangers of Higher Education by John Gray

If only large collective decisions were taken solely by graduates or, better yet, holders of PhDs. How much more reasonable and well governed the world would be.

Too much credence has been given to the views of ordinary people, we are being told. Commentators and politicians don’t say this in so many words, of course, but there can be little doubt that many people think that only those who are highly educated are qualified to decide issues – such as whether Britain should remain in, or leave, the European Union, for example.

Educated minds base their beliefs on reason and evidence while the masses are swayed by prejudice and demagoguery. Surely it would be better if everyone had the benefit of a higher education? I’m not so sure. Today, higher education comes with certain dangers.

In the course of my life I have been fortunate to know many very learned people. What I gained from them has been invaluable to me. They opened my mind to realms of thought I would have never discovered on my own.

But it is also true that some of the most incurably ignorant people I have encountered have been very highly educated. And learned ignorance can be a good deal more dangerous than the common or garden variety.

Over time, the errors of ordinary people can be corrected by their everyday experience. The ignorance of the learned, in contrast, tends to be invincible. They like to think that they have a clearer view of the world. In fact, they are often more easily taken in by mass delusions than the rest of humankind. As George Orwell wrote, “There are some ideas so absurd that only intellectuals could believe them.”

At present, this is the danger of a higher education in the humanities and, what are called, social sciences. Those who studied to degree level and beyond have often embraced ideas and projects that many less educated folk instinctively recognise as dangerously absurd.

Something like this happened in Britain in the 30s. At that time, Communism and Fascism seemed to be advancing across the world.

The Cambridge graduates who spied for the Soviet Union had no doubt that Britain was finished. It has been suggested that they threw in their lot with Stalin in order to oppose the Nazi threat. But Kim Philby (pictured right), and his fellow conspirators, continued to be active during the Nazi-Soviet pact when Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Germany were on the same side – against Britain. They went on working for the Soviets until they were unmasked in the mid-50s.

Right up until his death in 1988, Philby retained what he described in his autobiographical book, My Silent War, as persisting faith in Communism because he was possessed of an idea. He worked for the Soviet Union long after its true nature was unmistakably clear.

Philby, and others like him, were not unusual among educated people at the time. Much of the intelligentsia was ready to junk democracy in Britain for the sake of a new order they imagined was coming into being somewhere else in the world.

The Fabian socialists – Sidney and Beatrice Webb, George Bernard Shaw and HG Wells – praised the ‘new civilisation’ (as the Webbs called it) that was being built in Stalin’s Russia. Shaw and Wells even had kind words for Nazism, which they applauded for its modern way of doing things. On the right, well-known writers – like Wyndham Lewis, GK Chesterton and TS Eliot – expressed degrees of sympathy with Fascism. As late as spring 1940, the then celebrated conservative historian Sir Arthur Bryant published a book, entitled Unfinished Victory, in which he praised the revival of Germany under Hitler, and commented favourably upon the vigour of the Gestapo.

What is remarkable is how little these intellectual postures reflected public opinion. It’s true that Nazism and Fascism had high levels of popular support in inter-war continental Europe. But intellectuals led the way. The philosopher Martin Heidegger served Hitler as a university rector, while the Belgian literary critic Paul de Man, later a leading advocate of the post-modern philosophy of deconstructionism in the United States, was one of many in the European thinking classes who gave Fascism a veneer of intellectual legitimacy.

In Britain, totalitarian movements failed to attract any large scale popular following. Oswald Mosley was an opportunistic political thug whose Blackshirts wilfully threated civil peace in London as part of a campaign of sowing hatred and division. And he had some influential supporters among British appeasers.

Yet Mosley never posed a serious challenge to British democracy. When PG Wodehouse lampooned him in his fictional character Roderick Spode – who called his movement The Black Shorts because, after Mussolini’s Blackshirts and Hitler’s Brownshirts, there were no shirts left – the great comic writer expressed a derision that most British people shared.

Again, ‘Uncle Joe’ Stalin was a widely admired figure in Britain when the Soviet Union joined the war against Nazism following the German invasion of Russia in June, 1941. But that sentiment cooled after the war ended and Stalin imposed dictatorship on half of Europe.

The influence of the Communist Party peaked in 1945 when two of its members won seats in Parliament. Leading intellectuals on the other hand did not alter their views. The historian, Eric Hobsbawm remained a party member throughout the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, the repression of the Prague Spring in 1968 and the Soviet collapse. He is said to have retained his party card even after the party was dissolved in Britain in 1991 and, according to some reports, carried it around with him until he died in 2012.

Why do highly educated people persist in their delusions long after they cease to be remotely credible? The answer, I believe, is the appeal of grand theories. In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels declared that Communism was the “…riddle of history solved.” And while Marx himself was undogmatic and flexible in much of his thinking, many of his disciples have embraced his ideas as a system which uncovers a hidden logic in history.

Intellectual systems of this kind have a numbing effect on the mind, filtering out the complexity of actual human events. Though presented in abstruse terminology, such theories are fundamentally simple; far more so than the human world itself. That may be part of their appeal. Intellectuals who interpret these seemingly profound ideas can claim authority in society and a leading role in history.

If higher education has any overall purpose it is to inculcate intelligent scepticism regarding all grand theories of society and history. Many university teachers still do exactly that and present the human world in all its intricacy and variety. But much of what is taught in the humanities and social sciences is increasingly ideology disguised as critical thought. Deconstruction, a hotchpotch of ideas derived from Marxism, psychoanalysis and linguistics which claims to offer an insight into society by demolishing established structures of thought, now informs many academic disciplines.

But do students who have swallowed this mishmash have a better understanding of the world around them? Or have they, at considerable financial cost, learned a once fashionable academic jargon with very little practical or intellectual value? After all, none of the postmodern sages they are required to read – Foucault, Derrida and the like – envisioned the political upheavals that have transformed the world in recent years.

This brings us back to contemporary politics. Anyone who still thinks Brexit is a good idea is accused of resisting the onward march of history but who knows if the EU will exist in twenty years from now. I am old enough to remember a discipline called Sovietology; it probably never occurred to those who taught it that the object of their studies would suddenly vanish. When politicians and commentators tell you they discern a future order of things quite different from anything in the past, they are usually spouting theories they were taught a generation or so ago.

Majorities aren’t always right and democracies are certainly not a panacea for all political ills, but history offers no support for the belief that the world would be better ruled by graduates or PhDs.

This is a transcription of a broadcast first made on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Point of View’ on Sunday 25th February 2018.

Communism Kills by Dr Stuart Blackie

During the apparitions in the northern Portuguese town of Fatima on 13th July 1917, it was emphatically stated that, unless certain conditions were met, Russia would ferment wars and spread her errors across the world.

The conditions were not met and the Russian Revolution broke out on 24th-25th October 1917 (according to the Julian calendar) and probably only ended with the Red Army’s closure of its last active front in Turkestan in June 1926.

Between 1917 and 1921, 10.5 million people died and millions more were maimed, orphaned or widowed in Russia, and an additional 2 million former subjects of the Tsar were forced into exile. Upheaval wrought by war led to a further 5 million perishing in famines across the Volga, Urals, North Caucasus and Ukraine between 1921 and 1922.

The Berlin Wall was constructed in August 1961, complete with armed guards, whose sole purpose was to stop people fleeing from East Berlin to the democratic west. To the generation which has grown up since the fall of the Wall on 9th November 1989, Communism is considered to be the ultimate form of egalitarianism and a perfectly amiable ideology.

Not only do they not know of the extraordinary death toll inflicted by the Communist regimes in the 20th century in the Eastern Bloc, in Russia and the Far East, as well as in the proxy wars of the Cold War era in Central and South America and Africa but also it receives no publicity.

I understand that in Budapest there is a House of Terror (pictured below), a museum set up in the actual place where the Nazis – and later the Communists – inflicted imprisonment, terror and murder. Under the Communist regime, 600,000 Hungarians were taken to work camps in the Soviet Union and half did not return.

In March 2016, James Bartholomew wrote an article in The Spectator highlighting this problem. He quoted the historian Robert Conquest who estimated that the total number of lives lost during the terrors perpetrated in the USSR ‘could hardly be lower than some 13 to 15 million.’

In China, under Communism, deaths came in three phases: the suppression of counter-revolutionaries (at least 1 million); the ‘Great Leap Forward’ (at least 45 million); and the Cultural Revolution (750,000 – 1.5 million in rural China alone).

In Cambodia it is estimated that between 1.4 and 2.2 million from a population of 7 million were killed by the Khmer Rouge. I understand that the terror in North Korea continues to this day.

Add these deaths together and you get about 60 million – but I gather that some historians estimate as many as 100 million may have died.

Even these figures could have been eclipsed by the malfunction of a Soviet nuclear early warning system which came within minutes of accidentally triggering of a nuclear war on 26th September 1983. Fortunately, Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov (pictured below), an officer of the Soviet Air Defence Forces, correctly identified the warning as a false alarm.

This episode occurred in a time of heightened east-west tension after the Soviet Air Force had shot down an obviously unarmed South Korean passenger jet – Korean Air Lines flight 007 – that had blundered into Soviet airspace on 1st September 1983. All 269 people aboard the aircraft were killed.

Ignorance of all these facts is, in part, due to the march of left-wing sympathisers, apologists and ‘useful idiots’ throughout branches of the media, institutions and academia.

But a major part of the problem also lies in the magnitude of the numbers involved. If a family of four are killed in a road traffic accident, it is easy to relate to the tragedy.

However, when the numbers quoted are in the millions, or hundreds of millions, they are mentally unimaginable and are then reduced to mere statistics on a spread-sheet; a fact famously recognised and utilised by Stalin.

You may be interested to see a website that graphically illustrates large numbers: http://pagetutor.com/trillion/index.html

The future of any nation or civilisation is shaped by its understanding of the past. The 20th century is recognised as the most blood-stained century in history. In Britain, the far left is experiencing a surge in popularity as a result of disillusionment of the present lacklustre and apparently directionless drift of the current administration.

It is time to bring the detailed facts of these atrocities, committed in the name of this far-from-amiable ideology, to public awareness. Let us learn the lessons of the past before we sleepwalk into installing a similar ideological regime in this country in the 21st century.

 

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Club Comment - February 2018

Club welcomes Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP / Animals in Peril

On Monday 11th December 2017, the Conservative Monday Club held its Christmas Dinner in the Canadian Room of the East India Club, St James’s Square, London.

Members and their guests were welcomed by the Club Chairman, Andrew Grocock, and special greetings were offered to those members who had travelled across the sea from Northern Ireland to be at the dinner.

After a splendid meal, enjoyed by all, the Chairman welcomed the guest speaker, also from Northern Ireland; the Rt Hon Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP of the Democratic Unionist Party.

Sir Jeffrey is the DUP Member of Parliament for Lagan Valley, Lisburn and, in the 2017 General Election, retained this seat with a majority of 19,229 (or 42.7% of the vote). He is the DUP spokesman on Defence and Energy policy and has a seat on the Defence Select Committee in the House of Commons. He is also the Party’s spokesman on victim’s issues and, since 2010, a member of the UK delegation to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, where he sits on the Social Affairs and Political Affairs Committee.

The Chairman reminded Sir Jeffrey of the very strong relationship between the Conservative Monday Club and the DUP in Northern Ireland. He recalled the times when the Club had been privileged to be addressed by the late Revd Dr Ian Paisley and that this bond had continued with Ian Paisley Junior and through other members of the DUP.

He further added that it had been a great pleasure for him, and other members of the Club, to visit the DUP in Northern Ireland on numerous occasions and that they greatly appreciated the kindness and hospitality that had been afforded them.

Sir Jeffrey thanked the Chairman and also expressed his warm wishes to all members of the Conservative Monday Club.

During his address, Sir Jeffrey recalled his early days in politics; particularly when he had the privilege of working for the late Enoch Powell. This experience had taught him a great deal and he said that he was forever grateful for that opportunity.

He warned of the rise of nationalism which would be the first step towards the breakup of the United Kingdom. He stressed that a free, independent Great Britain and Northern Ireland would present a better future for the next generation rather than remaining in the European Union.

Sir Jeffrey believed that additional trade with countries outside the Eurozone was the way forward and he had already had meetings with overseas diplomats to this end. He believed that, eventually, smaller countries within the present EU would be put under pressure to become members of some Federal European Super-state.

He felt that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, has Great Britain and Northern Ireland at heart but that she should not give in to unrealistic demands from the EU regarding this country’s exit from Europe. He believed that the UK should leave with no deal rather than made to accept the totally unsatisfactory terms as dictated by the EU.

He stated that the DUP was not just concerned with the future of Northern Ireland but with the whole of the United Kingdom. He considered it to be providential following the last General Election and following the pressures on the British Government from Europe, as was seen when the DUP had to object to certain proposals.

Finally, our guest speaker spoke with passion regarding the future of Northern Ireland and its relationship with the Irish Republic and said that he believed the future will see an even more harmonious relationship between the two countries.

The President of the Conservative Monday Club, the Viscount Massereene & Ferrard, thanked Sir Jeffrey and again commented on the close ties between the Club members and the DUP.

Sir Jeffrey was then thanked by Martin Pritchard who commented that the speaker had spoken with great passion for the unity of Northern Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland and that he was a true patriot.

The Loyal Toast was given by Dr Stuart Blackie.

To those members of the Conservative Monday Club who were unable to attend the dinner but gave donations, the Club is sincerely grateful.

 


Animals in Peril

In September, I read an article in The New Statesman entitled: “A World Without Animals”!

A shocking title for an article maybe, but one that presents a truly horrific prospect for our world.

This powerful article, written by Simon Barnes, considered some of the most deeply concerning statistics, highlighting the plight of some of our planet’s gravely endangered species.

The article quotes the Living Planet Index, compiled by the Zoological Society of London and the Worldwide Fund for Nature, warning of a dramatic decline in wild animals by 2020, with 13,000 of the 65,000 species listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as being under threat, with 3,000 of these being critically endangered.

For example:

African Grey Parrots have declined in numbers by up to 79% in the past 47 years;

Lions by 43% in 21 years;

Giraffes by 40% in 30 years;

Possibly the worst of all is the decrease in the numbers of Black Rhinos… 95% in the past 50 years.

Primates are also drastically falling in numbers, as a study published in the journal, Science Advances, revealed that 60 % are threatened with extinction, including gorillas and chimpanzees.

And the British Isles are by no means immune from the decrease in native species, with the RSPB reporting the Hen Harrier being close to extinction in the UK; the Turtle Dove that has reportedly declined by 93% since the 70s; and the Skylark with a population of 10% of where it was 30 years ago.

The author of this article does not pull his punches, stating that our planet is going through a significant change and that we are witnessing “right now” the process of widespread extinction and that humans “seem to have accepted the idea that the loss of wild animals is the sad, but acceptable price of progress and that the loss of animal species is not seen as a serious matter”, asking “when did you last hear a politician talk about the extinction crisis”?

Well, Mr Speaker, tonight we are proving that assumption to be wrong, in this House of Commons and across the world, we must speak up about this crisis and do so with clarity, ever more loudly and with increasing frequency.

Keynote statistics about marine wildlife are also extremely alarming: the acidity and temperature of the seas are rising and, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s State of the World Fisheries and Aquaculture Report 2016, 90% of fish stocks across the world are fully exploited, over exploited or in crisis. With the global human population increasing and the demand for all natural resources sky rocketing, scientists are understandably pessimistic about the future.

I say to the Minister, we all need to study the work of the Zoological Society of London’s EDGE of Existence programme, which prioritises species that are both Evolutionary Distinct and Globally Endangered according to the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The EDGE programme uses a scientific approach to allocate limited funding most effectively to unique and special animals that could otherwise so easily be forgotten.

The time to act is not next year or after the next election or at some point in the future, the time to act, Mr Speaker, is now.

So in future, we must act faster when we can do so to protect and save our wildlife and work with international organisations, both governmental and non-governmental, to do everything we possibly can to crush poachers, promote job creation in environmental conservation efforts across the world and, most importantly, strive to rebalance our relationship with nature.

Mr Speaker, I call upon Her Majesty’s Government to do the following:

The Minister’s department, DEFRA needs greater resources to place more people on the ground, across the world, working to protect animals in peril, and plants too. The Department for International Development should also re-evaluate how it allocates money and consider how it might provide more help for anti-poaching efforts and environmental conservation.

The Government should also allocate more time in both the House of Commons and the other place for debating environmental issues, and given the significance of some of the challenges we are discussing this evening, I think using more of our time in this manner would not only be appropriate, but would gain widespread approval from the public.

The Government also needs to make greater commitments to international conventions and agreements and push for further- reaching targets, especially as we leave the European Union.

The United Kingdom has led the world on these issues in the past and I have no doubt that the Minister will agree with me, when I say that Britain can and must do so again in the future.

Additionally, the Government needs to continue to commit to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. While these goals do not necessarily focus on the protection of wildlife, it is beyond question that in order to ensure wildlife is protected and sustainable, both in the UK and worldwide, we need to counter those other issues such as poverty, health, education and sustainable cities.

On the last of these, it is important that in the UK we ensure that our cities can be a home for wildlife. We can help people and nature by improving air quality, river water quality and expanding the size of, and improving the health of, green spaces in every urban area.

In short, we must make sure that our future legislation uses every opportunity to promote conservation.

We need to engage ourselves in an enormous effort to guarantee the future of the wild and the many animals and plants in peril, so that our successors can enjoy the knowledge of there being a wild beyond our shores, within these islands and on our very doorstep…. and not finding themselves in A World Without Animals.

In short, we as a civilisation have to face up to one of the biggest challenges we will ever encounter: rebalancing how we fit within the natural world.

As the great pioneer of conservation and founder of Jersey Zoo, Gerald Durrell stated a generation ago: “People think that I am just trying to look after nice, fluffy animals. What I am really trying to do is to stop the human race from committing suicide.”

This speech was originally given as the subject of an Adjournment Debate on Wednesday 18th October, 2017 and is reproduced here by kind permission of the author.

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Club Comment - September 2017

The meaning of Conservative

The British Conservative Party has recently been described as ‘the Nasty Party’ but this doesn’t alter the fact that this Party is, at the moment anyway, the leading force in our national politics and can make one mistake after another without losing a solid core of popular support. But what does the term Conservative actually mean? And what especially does it mean for us today?

A simple answer is that the word means what it says. Conservatism is about conserving things, not everything of course. But the good things that we admire and cherish which, if we don’t look after them, we might lose. These things are our most important collective assets. Peace, freedom, law, civility, the security of property and family life. In all of those assets we depend upon the co-operation of others, having no means single-handedly to obtain it.

The work of destroying our social assets is quick, easy and exhilarating. The work of creating them slow, laborious and dull. The is one of the lessons of the twentieth century. It is also one of the reasons that Conservatives suffer a disadvantage when it comes to public opinion. Their position is true, but boring. That of their opponents, exciting and false.

Still, a bit more needs to be said. The Party is muddling along without a philosophy, but it has received a wake-up call from opponents with far-reaching goals and a programme for achieving them. And even if those goals are largely negative, being a catalogue of things they wish to get rid of, capitalism included, it is sufficient to plant a big question in the mind of the electorate. “What does the Tory Party really stand for?” What vision of society underpins its policies? Or is everything merely management and spin, as it was for the Labour Party under Tony Blair?

Conservatism has had two historical rivals: Liberalism and Socialism. Liberalism is the product of the Enlightenment; it sees society as a contract and the State as a system for guaranteeing individual rights. Socialism is the product of the Industrial Revolution; it sees society as an economic system and the State as a means of distributing social wealth. Liberals have defended the right to property while Socialists have defended the State’s right to take it away and redistribute it in the name of social justice. Liberals, in the original meaning of the term, believe in free speech and free association. Socialists believe all freedoms are subservient to the common good. Liberals defend the individual from the State while Socialists defend the State against the self-interested individual.

Conservatives have leaned more towards Liberalism than to Socialism. However, they believe that freedom means responsibility. Which in turn depends on public spirit and civic virtue. We human beings are not isolated atoms governed by appetite and intent on our own gratification. Or, if we are becoming like that, in the materialist and consumerist culture of our time, then that is something to be deplored and resisted. The business of politics is to foster a flourishing civil society, composed of responsible people, tied to each other by lasting bonds of loyalty and affection, the State, to protect our liberties because only free- beings can truly be responsible for their lives. But a responsible society cannot be created by the State and is threatened when the State tries to control associations and to confiscate wealth.

Here is where the difficulties of a true Conservative begin. For a variety of good and bad reasons, Conservatism is now caricatured as the belief that all social problems should be left to the market. And the free market is further caricatured as the realm of selfishness and consumerism. Hence the idea of the Tories as ‘the Nasty Party’; concerned to dismantle all the checks and balances that stand in the way of individual greed. The Tories themselves are partly to blame for this unjust caricature. Having espoused a policy of silence and secretiveness in the face of every public attack, they have made it look as though they can do nothing in response to these criticisms save hide from them, which is another way of admitting them. And the effect is exacerbated by the habit of pretending that the only serious political questions are about economics. Culture, religion, identity, community and happiness, all the things that really matter, seem to be reduced to financial deals.

Above: Edmund Burke (1729-1797) was an Anglo-Irish statesman and political philosopher. He is often considered to have established the intellectual foundations of modern Conservativism.

It goes without saying that I reject this caricature of Conservative politics. I don’t think Conservatism reduces political order to market economics, nor do I think that markets themselves are expressions of selfishness and greed. Markets work only when cheats are punished and rules enforced and depend upon the legacy of responsibility, which is the most important item on the Conservative agenda. Markets depend upon the rule of law, which in turn uphold the virtues of law-abidingness and honesty. We all engage in market dealings, since we all wish to deploy our labour to the best advantage, which means exchanging our surplus for things that we need. Markets express our desire to settle our relations by agreement. The State which tries to replace the market economy therefore risks destroying social trust and, in the course of doing so, depriving the people of the means to satisfy even their most urgent needs; like the Venezuelan state today.

But no true Conservative believes that markets are everything or they do not stand to be guided or corrected. There are duties with property as well as rights. There is a duty to give to those in need. To avoid exploiting others’ vulnerabilities. To pay taxes in all those places where you do business. To reward loyalty, and to uphold friendship and trust.

If our Victorian ancestors had relied on market principles alone in building the industrial economy they bequeathed to us, they would not have limited the hours of work of children in the factories, nor would they have offered education and training to their workforce. A responsible employer, Disraeli argued, is guardian and trustee of those who work for him. And this is relevant to us today. An employer who decides that it is cheaper to discharge his workforce onto the streets and to import another, cheaper workforce from Eastern Europe is obeying market principles, but he is violating a duty of neighbourliness and exploiting the social and material capital of our country without regard for the true heirs of those who created it.

Conservatives believe in free association and private initiatives, but not because they think the individual is everything…they believe in those things because they believe that society itself depends on them…

The emphasis on responsibility is the real reason why Conservatives are suspicious of the modern State and wish to limit its powers. They accept the need for a socialised healthcare system and measures for the relief of poverty, but they also realise that benefits offered freely and without proof of need create a culture of irresponsible dependency. Moreover, ordinary voters, while entirely committed to the National Health Service, are increasingly suspicious of the regime of benefits which undermines the motives on which work, family and stewardship all ultimately depend. If the responsibility to help those less well off than ourselves falls on us as individuals, then it can only be diminished by the passing of that duty to the State.

It is a fundamental item of Conservative belief, as I understand it, that civil society is distinct from the State and that a healthy civil society is one in which we freely associate for social purposes. The British people accept this way of seeing things, and have always given their time, money and energy to mutual aid, when need and emergencies require them to do so.

The tendency of Socialist governments has been to destroy private associations, so extinguishing those bonds of trust between strangers which dispose people to co-operate for the common good. Conservatives believe in free association and private initiatives, but not because they think the individual is everything and the State should leave us to grab what we can. They believe in those things because they believe that society itself depends on them. It is through free association, and what Edmund Burke called the ‘the little platoons,’ that the sense of responsibility arises. Margaret Thatcher was often ridiculed for saying there is no such thing as society, what she meant however was that society is not identical with the State.

Those who wish to transfer assets from free associations to State bureaucracies are the enemies of society, not its friends. And they jeopardise the thing on which the entire body politic depends, which is the knowledge in each of us that we are answerable to others for all that we are and we do. This habit of accounting to others is the root to civilisation and it is the thing that Conservatives most wish to conserve. It would be a fair summary of the ideological conflict of our time to say that Liberals seek freedom, Socialists equality and Conservatives responsibility. And, without responsibility, neither freedom nor equality have any lasting value.

(This article is a transcription of Sir Roger Scruton’s broadcast for BBC Radio 4’s Point of View programme originally aired on Sunday 27th August, 2017).

Sir Roger Scruton is a philosophy academic and writer who works primarily in the field of aesthetics, culture and conservative political thought.

The former editor of the Salisbury Review, he has written pieces for The Spectator, The New Statesmen and The Times, as well as a number of books on a variety of subjects including philosophy, music, art and religion.

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Club Comment - June 2017

Back to the 1970s “Dark Ages”

 

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland can be a pretty bleak place to live in when the weather is damp and cold in the months of November, December and January.

In November, 1973; when Edward Heath was Prime Minister, the miners and electrical workers began an overtime ban.

Their actions almost shut down the country, with power cuts three days a week; a speed limit of 50mph to save fuel; heating limited to 63F-17C and petrol rationing.

As members of the Conservative Monday Club may recall, Mr Jeremy Corbin’s career was highlighted in a previous newsletter, but it’s worth recalling that, after leaving North London Polytechnic, his first employment was as an official with the National Union of Public Employees, followed by a position with the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union and then National Union of Tailors and Garment Makers. Prior to him becoming Labour MP for Islington North, he was employed by Haringey Council.

Mr Corbyn has stated that, should he become Prime Minister, he would take private rail and energy companies back into public ownership. He further added that he would give union militants the right to “determine the agenda” of companies that they work for, under Labour plans to rip up anti-strike laws and bring back flying pickets.

Tory minister, Priti Patel, said, “Jeremy Corbyn wants to let his union paymasters run riot, dragging Britain back into the 1970s.”

“Give the Prime Minister Theresa May a strong mandate in the Brexit talks ahead to build on everything her Party has achieved.”

All the efforts that have been made to bring prosperity to this country would be negated should Mr Corbyn’s Marxist ideas be put into practice – wiping out all the economic progress of decades at a stroke.

Should voters at the next General Election forget, this is the man who is still a member of CND, wants to scrap Trident, and invited Gerry Adams and other members of Sinn Fein to Parliament in 1984, only weeks after the IRA had killed 5 people in the Brighton Hotel bombing.

He believes that the United Kingdom should no longer be part of NATO and wants a United Ireland with the abolition of the border between the North and the South.

Mr Corbyn is a candidate who will wreck the country; and by that I mean:

Economically – with businesses and essential services crippled as a result of his union comrades striking and bringing the infrastructure to a standstill; as happened when another Labour member became Prime Minister – Harold Wilson.

No doubt Mr Corbyn will raise the top rate of income tax to some crippling percentage thereby resulting in a mass exodus of tax payers from this county as happened in the 1960.

Mr Corbyn has stated that he hates the rich (he once said this meant anyone earning over £100k pa). As a Marxist comrade, he would say that – he (and many of his fellow travellers) has no conception of how commerce or industry operates whether it be an independent shopkeeper or a corporate giant.

Many staunch socialist left-wing Labour voters believe all the money to pay for social services comes from the government. They have no idea that the government doesn’t manufacture money – they spend the money they receive from taxpayers, whether individuals or large corporations (whose contributions are significant to the running of the country).

A breakdown in law and order – particularly the country’s security services ability and resources to combat terrorism.

This is the individual who has openly supported terrorists from the IRA to Hamas and Hezbollah, and is blatantly dishonest to claim that his only motive has been to secure peace. He has befriended some of the world’s most evil terrorists who share one common factor: they hate Britain and our way of life.

Appearing on television, Mr Corbyn condemned the terrorist attack in Manchester which killed 22 people and seriously injured many others, yet in the same breath, blamed the Government’s overseas policy for the dreadful event.

Foreign Secretary, Mr Boris Johnson, condemned Mr Corbyn for using the murder of 22 people for political gain. “It is absolutely extraordinary and inexplicable in this week of all weeks that there should be any attempt to justify or to legitimise the actions of terrorists in this way.”

Mr Corbyn, as we know, befriends terrorists but he certainly doesn’t befriend what he calls “wealthier families”. He has not admitted that, if elected, he will scrap the Conservative plans to raise the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million. Instead, he will reduce it from £850,000 to £650,000. The Conservatives claim that Labour has secret plans to reduce it even further to £45,000 – a claim that they deny.

As anyone who has resided in London knows, because of rising prices over the last thirty years, a house purchased for £250,000, or less, could easily be worth well over £1million in many suburbs of Greater London and the Home counties.

The purchasers of such properties may well intend to leave the home to their children which, under Mr Corbyn’s proposals to lower the inheritance tax, would give them a massive 40% tax bill, probably forcing them to sell the property to pay the tax.

Mr Corbyn denies that he is wealthy despite a total salary of £137,000pa and, because of his 33 years’ service as an MP, a gold-plated pension of £50,000pa. Average UK income is £26,000pa.

Finally, if, after reviewing Mr Corbyn’s Marxist proposals to finally demolish this country, anybody has any doubts as to the unsuitability of him becoming its leader, he has now confirmed that he is discussing plans to relax rules on asylum, make it easier for migrants’ families to settle in Britain and throw open our borders to low and unskilled workers, not just from the EU but from the rest of the world. Karl Marx would be proud of him.

For the sake of the majority of British people from all sectors of society, let us hope and pray that they see through the charade and lies perpetrated by this man and, on polling day, show their approval of and give the Prime Minister, Theresa May, a strong mandate in the Brexit talks ahead to build on everything her Party has achieved.

The Conservative Monday Club, PO Box 7694, Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire, CM23 3XR