The High Court today refused an application for judicial review from a failed asylum seeker. She was not disputing the decision to reject her application for asylum. At issue was the law withdrawing benefits from failed asylum seekers, and taking their children into care. Her lawyers argued that this policy had the effect of driving such people underground, and putting vulnerable people at risk of sexual exploitation and much else. The court backed out of the fight, meekly claiming that questions as to the desirability of the policy were a matter for Parliament. That may well be, but the judge also rejected the argument that the legislation was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. I am yet to read the full judgment, and I am curious as to how he arrived at that view. The only reason I can think of is that he might have considered that the applicant was not bound to stay in the United Kingdom. If she found the situation so intolerable, she could always return home, I suppose. This conclusion is possible, predicated on the fact that her asylum application had already been rejected. Somehow in this case, I cannot get rid of the feeling that while the letter of the law has been applied and brought to its logical conclusion, as a society, we have lost something of the merciful and compassionate. The court may well have had its hands tied, and my main quarrel is with the legislation itself. There is no need for this distasteful law. What we need is an efficient system of deporting failed asylum seekers. If, after exhausting all the appeal channels, it is settled that someone’s case for asylum is unfounded, a quick deportation is in all circumstances better than precipitating their destitution and rupturing their families. A care home should be a place of refuge for a child facing problems at home. In the eyes of this Government, it is a latter-day poorhouse the threat of which should force parents to toe the line. This is unacceptable. That a civilised country can legislate to pauperise, showing utter contempt for family life, is nothing short of disgraceful.
The High Court has ruled that unless the child decides otherwise, the mother of an underage girl has no right to be informed if she is being advised on having an abortion. The judge claimed that giving parents this right may cause the child to “make a decision that she later regrets or seek the assistance of an unofficial abortionist”. So just what rights do parents have over the welfare of their children, when something as fundamental as this has been removed from their hands? Who, in any case, will deal with the emotional fallout from an abortion? No doubt, it will be left to parents to pick up the pieces if things go wrong. On the one hand, Tony Blair blames parents for the rise of the yob culture, even going to the extent of jailing them for their child’s truancy. On the other hand, court rulings like these imply that parents must cede their rights to the State. What is going on here?
So Tony Blair has seen fit to criticise George Galloway for going into the Big Brother house? Pretty rich talk coming from a man who found time to record an episode of the Simpsons at the height of the Iraq war.
Today brings news that the Government has launched a project to discover England’s cultural icons. Twelve such ‘icons’ have been nominated and the public has been asked to vote on them. I will leave to one side the question of public money being used to fund such a project.
The twelve icons gave me much pause for thought, because they told me a story of this country; what it once was, what it is today, and how the cultural landscape of the country has altered in many ways. Some of the changes have come about due to changing cultural attitudes, and others because of the self-loathing that now runs through our lives like a threnody.
Here is a tongue-in-cheek look at the icons:
1. Cup of tea
Alright in itself, as long as you can ignore the health police and the nannying folk who would seek to prescribe how much milk, sugar and caffeine to have.
2. Jerusalem hymn
I cannot hear that hymn without getting angry. It is a lovely hymn of hope, faith and simple Christian virtue. Now it puts me in mind of hoary lefties who profess to know what is good for every one of us. Watching certain Government ministers sing this song at the Labour Party Conference makes my blood boil. Only the Labour Party can take something so beautiful and simple and turn it into something else.
3. King James Bible.
When was the last time you went into a church and saw a copy of the King James version? What you would most likely get would be a sheet of paper with the relevant verses for the day reproduced in one of those newer translations which lack the beauty of the King James Version. It is symptomatic of today’s desire to reduce everything to the pedestrian and demotic.
Heralds a bygone age, when there was nothing oxymoronic about the term ‘British industry’. We have come a long way since then. Just ask MG Rover.
A breath of fresh air. Testament to this country’s celebrated tolerance of minorities and difference. Long may that continue.
6. Alice in Wonderland
Reminiscent of a time of innocence, when there was nothing risky about a little girl falling asleep in her back garden, unwatched by any others. Alas, times are different now.
7. FA Cup
The English version of the story of David and Goliath. Everyone roots for the underdog.
8. Angel of the North
I have no opinion on this, although I am glad that it is not in my backyard.
9. Henry VIII’s portrait.
Frankly, I am shocked to see this on the list, given what we so readily take for art in this day and age.
10. Routemaster bus
Sadly missed. Abolished by a mad lefty, the sort who would tell us how to live our lives. England is replete with such people, and what is even more depressing, they have the rule over us.
11. Punch and Judy
Banned by some local authorities because of its violent content. Spare me. Banned by David Cameron, but very much alive in the Liberal Democrat Party.
12. SS Empire Windrush
How far we have come since those days. In those days, integration was taken to be a two-way process. Now, you cannot urge certain cultures to integrate without being branded a rightwing racist bigot.
So the Government cares about our icons? Could have fooled me. Is this the same Government that seeks to abolish historic Scottish regiments, such as Blackwatch? That attempted to abolish the office of the Lord Chancellor? That presided over the cack-handed ‘reform’ of the House of Lords? That masterminds the insidious removal of the term ‘Her Majesty’ wherever it can? (Eg Her Majesty’s Probation Service becomes the National Offenders’ Management Service.)
I remain unconvinced of the Government’s newfound love of this nation.
Poor Charles Kennedy. It must have felt like being savaged by 62 dead sheep. Who knew the LibDems could be so brutal? True wolves in sheep’s clothing. What they have done to Kennedy is a lot worse than what the Conservative Party did to Margaret Thatcher all those years ago, and they know it. They also know that the public is looking at them with disbelief and disgust. Some pathetic MPs tried to make a big deal over the fact that he had lied to them about his alcoholism. That in itself should reveal how utterly bloodless and unsympathetic this lot are. Surely everyone can understand why an alcoholic may feel too ashamed to share his problems with his workmates. They are all sullied with the dirt-black mud of guilt, and long may they stay that way.
God bless Ariel Sharon; a man of war who knew when to sue for peace.
I feel so sorry for Charles Kennedy. After months of muttering by his Party members, he has now come forward and admitted to alcoholism. The fact that at the last election, his party achieved their best election result in 83 years made no difference to the ‘anonymous’ MPs who had been briefing against him recently. Talk about ingratitude. The LibDems are desperate for fresh leadership to counter the Cameron onslaught, hence the renewed attack on Kennedy. In an attempt to cling on to his job, he has spoken of his alcoholism, declared his desire to continue leading the party, and called a leadership election. He is most likely counting on sympathy votes from the wider party, and this may well turn out to be. However, his party, long regarded as the decent, even if impractical, option to the two main parties, has dealt itself a blow. It has revealed itself capable of the nasty, backstabbing behaviour formerly associated with the other two parties. Also, it has failed to appreciate the unique role of Charles Kennedy in holding together both the Left and the Right of the party. The party that stands for low tax, high tax, liberal economics and over-regulation will soon find itself under the spotlight as it struggles, post-Kennedy to decide what side it is on. This should make interesting viewing.
So a new year, and no doubt, new resolutions. I wondered whether I could give up ranting quite so much, but I think not. This blog will therefore continue in the same vein. I must confess, though, I have been avoiding the newspapers for the past few days. All in a bid to maintain my equanimity (for now, anyway). This has been really trying. I struggled to stay silent on the news that the Conservative Party has hired Bob Geldof to advise on its international development agenda. What the blue blazes does he know about anything? If the party were serious about this, they would bypass Sir Bob and instead consult the professionals and small businessmen from these countries they purport to care about. Sadly, in issues of this sort, it is only the secular self-serving morality of people like Geldof that seems to matter.
I also held my peace on the Government’s plan to merge the country’s police forces. However, that particular dam of declamation is about to burst its banks. Expect an article from me on this very soon. This creeping back-door regionalisation deserves comment and condemnation.