The H5N1 bird flu virus is merrily winging its way around the continent, and our ministers have grimly informed us that it will soon be arriving here. My guess is that it is here already. After the Government’s disastrous handling of the foot-and-mouth crisis a few years ago, who could blame the UK’s poultry farmers if they failed to alert the Government about any suspicious dead chickens on their land? They will probably surmise that the best thing to do would be to say nothing and dispose of their dodgy fowls in secret.
Today I shall be observing at close quarters the now-weekly muslim demonstrations in Central London. Somewhere by the crowd of ranting sheikhs, you will find me doing my bit for Danish industry. I will be taking along a packed lunch of Danish bacon sandwiches and Carlsberg. To alleviate the boredom (during George Galloway’s speech?), I will either be reading the latest issue of Jyllands-Posten or building a Lego church. I will be doing all this in the pleasing environs of Hyde Park, as is my right as a member of the public. I expect neither to be attacked by demonstrators nor moved on by police. And rather than me provoking anyone, it is I who have been provoked by the constant stream of noise, complaint and abuse from one particular section of society. Here’s hoping we all have a good day exercising our civil and political rights.
I read an amusing story in the Daily Telegraph today. Somewhere in Berkshire, a mother has been placed on curfew and tagged. Her crime? She failed to stop her daughter’s persistent truancy. As a result, the fun-loving mum will not be allowed out at night. Before I tell you what amused me so much, a few side issues:
1) why should she be held responsible for her daughter’s truancy when she has no right even to be told if the selfsame underage daughter was seeking an abortion?
2) what would placing her under curfew at night achieve? Surely, if at all she were to be compelled to force her daughter to attend school, her efforts should be concentrated on the daylight hours. I assume the school her daughter attends operates during the day?
Anyway, what amused me greatly was the reaction of Carol Horne (for that is her name). She declared that she was not bothered about her daughter missing school, as in her view, getting a job was “a matter of luck, not exam results”.
And she is right. Standards in education are falling despite increases in Government spending. To compensate for that, exams are now so easy to pass that an A-level certificate is hardly worth anything in the workplace. Late last year, the National Audit Office had the cheek to suggest that employers might want to invest in literacy and numeracy classes for their employees. And university tutors are finding that they have to offer remedial classes in essay writing and the like to first-year students.
I doubt that La Horne had these considerations in mind when she made her declaration, but that notwithstanding, her statement is uncomfortably close to the truth. How does a potential employer distinguish between today’s semi-literate school leavers, all of whom waving a a sheaf of Grade A* GCSE and A-Level certificates? Might as well toss a coin.
That our existing laws on racial hatred and incitement to murder are more than enough to deal with these crimes.
That there is a clear divide between free speech and incitement, and it is one that juries are capable of recognising.
That an array of weapons and forged passports were found in the Finsbury Park mosque.
Let us remember that the next time someone tries to dissuade the Police from searching mosques on grounds of religious sensibilities.
That our security services have had an extremely relaxed approach to Islamic extremism.
That taking a softly-softly approach to dangerous people does not guarantee that they will not turn around and attack your way of life.
Here is something to consider: a child born in 2000 will have had no picture of Islam than that of a violent, extremist, bloodthirsty religion. The last six years have shown us an extremely wicked side of Islam. However, every time there is a terrorist attack, the so-called moderates come out and tell us that Islam is a religion of peace. That is as far as that rhetoric goes. Now we want to see more of this peaceful religion. If there is a peaceful side of Islam, please let us see it. This weekend, we all saw the picture of a little child holding up a placard calling for death for those who insult Mohammed. Is this what muslim children are being socialised to believe? Islam is tarnished in the eyes of many, and the only people who can put this right are its adherents. It is up to them to seize the podium from their hateful brethren and begin the hard task of depicting their religion in an acceptable light. The cartoon protests were sparked off because muslims felt that their prophet was being insulted. By showing themselves capable of some of the despicable acts they have engaged in over the past few years, they have insulted him far more than those cartoons could ever have managed.
Groups of aggrieved muslims are protesting in Central London over the cartoons. Rather predictably, they are calling for blood, bombs and beheadings. As I stated in a comment on Daily Propaganda’s blog, why protest here in London when our newspapers have not even published the cartoons? They might as well publish them now. If we are going to get the protests, we might as well be shown the cartoons in all their irreverence. Might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. Incidentally, a Jordanian newspaper also published the cartoons. Can we also expect, in the interests of balance, that the protesters also organise something on the streets of Amman? What’s the betting that won’t happen?
John Prescott has had an about-turn on the Education White Paper. He says he has been given assurances over his concerns on selection and local authority control. If so, this must mean that the White Paper has been severely watered down. We cannot be sure until we see the Bill, but if the reforms are now being enthusiastically embraced by Prescott, it is fairly certain that Tony Blair has made a compromise too far. This would be a great pity, and a missed opportunity. Either that or Tony Blair is deceiving Prescott, and the reforms are still intact. I would prefer the latter, as I would be uneasy about any educational reforms that had the whole-hearted backing of Prescott and Old Labour.
Another year, and more ‘record profits’ for Shell. This year, Shell has posted profits of around £13bn and our leftie friends are all a-tizz. Never mind that (as the BBC acknowledges) the bulk of the profits derive from finding and extracting oil, and not from the filling stations. However, that fact hasn’t stopped BBC journalists perching outside filling stations across the realm and quizzing motorists for their ‘reaction’. The subliminal message is that the profits are linked to the pump price. Motorists are being asked, in the light of Shell’s happy news, whom they ‘blame’ for the high price of fuel.
As far as the pump price is concerned, there is only one man to be blamed for the high price, and that is Mr G. Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer. Of the 90-odd pence per litre charged, about 60p goes in taxes, leaving a narrow profit margin after allowable deductions.
The Transport and General Union Secretary has called for a windfall tax on Shell. Is that in addition to the heavy duties Shell already pays, plus corporation tax at the main rate of 30 per cent? And let’s not forget the extra 10 per cent surcharge on North Sea oil imposed by our darling Gordon in the pre-Budget Report. Surely Shell’s ‘pips’ are ‘squeaking’ enough?
From watching the news today, the prevalent message appeared to be that making a profit of that size was a bad thing, and Shell must somehow explain how it came to do so. I would urge my leftie friends to pipe down and consider one thing: ‘record profits’ for Shell mean record taxes to fund New Labour’s client state. That is the sort of thing you like, not so? So enough of your envious bleating and however much it pains you, offer your warmest congratulations to Shell.
Gunmen in Gaza are deeply offended, I hear. Poor lambs. I wonder what they think about some anti-Semitic cartoons from Arab newspapers that I came across*. See here.
*Hat tip to sterlingti on RightLinks.
Following on from my post yesterday, today brings news that the editor of France Soir, one of the newspapers that printed the Mohammed cartoons, has been sacked for offending muslims. Since when was that a sackable offence, I ask. What, by the way, is wrong with causing offence? There are a lot of things that a newspaper should worry about, for example, unwarranted breach of privacy, libel and slander. Causing offence is not one of them. If a newspaper cannot publish something like this, for fear of offending muslims, where does that leave the rest of us? I am surprised at France Soir, especially given that France is supposed to be a secular country. What are we all afraid of, I wonder. One question: was the editor sacked because the owner of the paper is a sensitive man, who wouldn’t want to cause offence to anyone? Or was it because of fear of the possible repercussions to the newspaper from angry muslims? I have a fair idea which it is, and if that is the case, things have come to a sorry pass. We should all be afraid, not only of angry muslims, but also because of the damage this is doing to our society. One of the major differences between a democracy and a dictatorship is the existence of a free press. This insidious dictatorship is not that of one man, but rather that of an alien culture that we are all too frightened to confront.