Friday, January 27, 2006

Remembering the Holocaust

Holocaust Memorial Day today.

The Muslim Council of Britain will once again boycott the Day.

MCB spokesman Inayat Bunglawala was asked on the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme whether he was not sending a signal by refusing to attend. "We also send a signal by staying away from the Gay Pride march," he said. How could he compare the two, he was asked. "It is a religious principle," he replied.

Gays of course were also gassed, but that's hardly the point. The MCB's official line is:

The MCB has always denounced the monstrous cruelty and inhumanity that underpinned the Nazi Holocaust... After the world vowed "never again" at the end of the second world war, though, we have seen the same barbarism again, against peoples in Vietnam, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Chechnya and recently in Darfur. So we said that our common humanity called upon us to also recognise the crimes perpetrated against other people, and we called for the establishment of an EU genocide memorial day. Such a day would help dispel the - frankly racist - notion that some people are to be regarded as being more equal than others...

The "R" word, used presumably to close any further discussion, though I'm not sure what the EU has to do with the many other crimes against humanity it lists...

While it is a fair to say we should remember other crimes - including the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians, arguably the first "modern" genocide - it seems to me unbelievably petty of the MCB to continue their boycott.

To put it bluntly, I cannot understand why they don't figure: why not let the Jews have their day? To attend would demonstrate our commitment to interfaith dialogue and integration in UK society.

Unhappily they are not prepared to make this leap, leading one to the rather less palatable conclusion that this seemingly media-savvy organisation really cannot bear to be associated with the Jews and actually is the anti-semitic islamist attack dog other blogs often portray.

Given the MCB's sensitivity to any perceived criticism of itself or the people it claims to represent, it might do well to stand with the Jews, Christians, democrats and others who seek to fight injustice and defend minorites, which of course Muslims remain in the UK. Sir Iqbal Death-Is-Too-Good-For-Him Sacranie, might even recall these well-known lines...

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemoller

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A very liberal interpretation of the truth...

After giving two interviews this week in which he declared 'I am not gay' - not to mention at least one last week (and endless others) - Simon Hughes MP explained that this was a politician's answer - which is to say incomplete - as in, Mark Oaten: I am a happily married man ...and also like to do the odd rent boy occasionally oooh go on, in my face big boy; Or Charles Kennedy: I don't have a drink problem drink's cabinet is perfectly well stocked than you very much Or Tony Blair: On 18 March 2003, just before the UK went to war with Iraq, Mr Blair told the House of Commons that it was palpably absurd" to accept that Saddam Hussein "contrary to all history, contrary to all intelligence" had "decided unilaterally to destroy these weapons" - he then turned to fellow ex-lawyer Geoff 'catch me if you can' Hoon and whispered under his breath - "after all you can't destroy what you don't have CAN you now - mmm you can tell these halfwits haven't been to law school, hee hee!"

Anyway as the BBC put it today Hughes explains gay admission - and I can't help thinking that that headline alone somehow puts back the cause of tolerance and equality in our society by at least a few years, say to somewhere around the time a certain Welsh Secretary claimed he had been robbed in Clapham...

What on earth are the liberals DOING? Its still over a month until they elect a leader and at this rate they won't have a party or a reputation left by then.

Green Room Charlie built the party's current electoral strength upon an admirable reputation for speaking plainly about matters concerning which the other parties were not prepared to. Blair wriggled and then blamed the intelligence services and those evil lying Iraqis, the Tories blamed evil lying Tony. Charlie rose above and stuck, so as to speak, to his non-guns.

The British people welcomed this and rewarded the liberals with enough support for it to be reasonable to assume that they might just get to hold the balance of coalition power after the next election has been contested by two right wing atlanticists with an obsession with destroying public services.

Then the right wing atlanticists called up all their mates... or shit just happened, who knows. One thing is for sure while you COULD make it up - you probably wouldn't have assumed quite this level of implosion, quite THIS FAST - my bet is on the phone calls going out. Put it this way, recently there's been a LOT of nasty commentary of a not totally generic nature in the backrooms of the companies serving the village and now it all kind of makes sense - for all that, in Hughes case at least, his shocking admission was 20 year old news to most people.

Cuba isolated - "all your own fault" say Americans

I couldn't help laughing at a report I heard on the World Service at around 3am. Apparently Cuba are building a wall to block out the sight of an electronic message board erected by the USA. World Serice news quoted an American spokesperson as saying that by doing this, Cuba were "isolating themselves from the rest of the world". Hello? American spokesperson? Concerned about Cuba isolating themselves? Shurely shome mishtake?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

A matter of life, death... and liberty?

Anne Turner RIP but ...

The Bishop of Oxford, the Right Reverend Richard Harries, told the BBC it was not right to always accede to a person's every request.

"We would not accede to the request of a teenager if they asked for help in killing themselves," he said.

"I know that if a person is old and debilitated and worried about the degenerative nature of their disease that is very difficult.

"But I would want to try to convince them that even if they got into a state where they were very dependent and felt very helpless and useless, their life was still precious."

Bishop Harries said many people had found caring for elderly relatives in the last phase of their life difficult, but rewarding.

"There has been a real deepening of a relationship, or things that have gone wrong in the past have been put right," he said.

"Who knows what good things can come out of the last phase of a person's life?"

Fair point Bish, but what strikes me about the whole debate is that the last poll indicated 65 per cent of Britons were in favour of extending the same mercy they show to their pets to their loved ones and I was left wondering: is this really about God or morality or whatever, or is it simply about power - the power of the great and good to say when we can or cannot end our lives and their fear of our liberty to do so?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It happened there

The ex-Tory leader welcomed news that Canadian Conservative Stephen Harper has ended 12 years of Liberal rule... There were also parallels between outgoing Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and Gordon Brown, he said.

"The defeated prime minister is someone who was finance minister for a very long time, wanted to take over the top job much earlier than he was allowed to and, when he got the top job, proved to be a long way short of a success in it," Mr Howard told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Monday, January 23, 2006

This worms for turning

Despite Rupert's lukewarm backing for Camonblair (my reading, based on The Insider, is that he still feels a residual loyalty to Tony for the war, which won't extend to Gordon) it hasn't taken much for the Times to start turning the tanker to the right...

The task for the Conservatives now is to come up with an alternative to the outdated economics of Mr Blair and Mr Brown. They have been following a model that other countries abandoned in the 1990s. The average tax burden across the industrialised world was 39% in 1997 - identical to Britain's - but is now 37%. The Labour government is taxing its citizens and businesses more at a time when other countries are doing so less. It is the road to an unsuccessful, uncompetitive economy. Ultimately it is the road to ruin.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Pimps charter

Don't just take my word for it, ask the Chairman of the Metropolitan Police Superintendents Association...

The strategy is naive in the extreme and heralds nothing but a "pimps’ charter". It provides a green light to greater violence, intimidation and exploitation of women in particular.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Whale watch

Watch the northern bottle-nosed whale heading north up the Thames here.

Old Labour, Red Danger? Or: How I won the war and other stories...

Kinnock speaks out against school reforms

Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock has criticised the government's education plans as "at best a distraction and at worst dangerous".

Showing that he's lost none of his old-school waffle-making ability the ginger non-Belgian added "There is a multiple divergence of governance proposed - specialist schools, trust schools and academies - that gives the appearance of choice, but will not be available to many. This whole approach is also not relevant to rural and semi-rural schools."

He's right of course, its the good old 'myth of choice' again. Its a bit like being told that there's a great hospital waiting to operate on your hip in Cumbernauld, all very well and good in theory but unlikely to see much take-up from the shambling masses on hip replacement waiting lists in Cornwall (for arguments sake).

Perhaps more important is that most Heads oppose the latest set of education reforms too.

An interesting spin on this was put across by Steve Richards who saw this as all part of the Iraq war blowback. Blair had to get domestic on our asses to prove he cared. Kelly inherited his latest attack of radicalism and here we are. Hell OK, but why follow through? Well, as Richards' notes, she couldn't just ditch it like the much-lamented and far more sensible Tomlinson Reforms of the curriculum and qualifications, because Captain Tony had made reform and his absence of reverse gears a focus for T3 (that's term 3 by the way not Termination of the third great public service, honest).

Full Tomlinson REPORT ~ for those interested.

What is intriguing about Kinnock is which straw broke his back. Not tuition fees - which apparently pushed him, or steady privatisation and break-up of the NHS which should be pushing him, or the disastrous adventures in Mesopotamia. Still, I suppose he had to get it eventually.

I always felt that the biggest danger of New Labour's reformists was that they believed, ex-marxists virtually to a man as they are, that they had understood the dilemma of choice and waste. In other words that they had come to terms with the market. The problem was that they saw regulators and targets as all that were needed to ensure that the market could deliver social goods.

This tends to leave you with leaky safety nets and second class services for the those who have less market value, or poorer access to the market - whether through lack of understanding of its processes or because they are valued less by its mechanisms. After all who wants a kid in their school whose Dad turns up p*ssed at parents evenings.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Urgh! ...Now that wasn't difficult was it?

The government gets it:

Sex offenders banned from schools
Anyone convicted or cautioned for a sex offence against a child will be banned from teaching in schools.

Like a grunting former Yugoslav tennis player Ruth Kelly has finally managed to return serve and keep the ball in court.

Now this is a relief on a number of grounds but mainly because I hope it means that I no longer have to listen to the Daily Paedo spot on the Today programme.

Today, after listening to one, Donald Findlater deputy director of the Lucy Faithful Foundation, a charity that works with offenders and victims, talked to the programme about sex offenders working in schools

After listening to the offender concerned, who used to be a Deputy Head, I was relieved when Donald echoed my thoughts after hearing the interview, which was that the sad, pathetic but ultimately potentially dangerous individual wheeled out today (whose assumed name for today, so as to speak, was Smith) was certainly not 'fully recovered' as he claimed to believe and that sex offenders 'really should seek alternative careers for themselves away from schools'.

Tuesday had seen William Gibson given a hearing. William was allowed to work as a teacher because he had after all married the 15 year old concerned and she was fifteen and hey you know lads its difficult to tell isn't it (well not usually if you know what class they are in, but whatever, clearly I digress...) I thought William was pretty sad too and given his subsequent fraud convction and schools devolved budgets I thought he should seek another career too... but hey...

Thing is that societies are ultimately allowed to have values, in fact to be societies they have to have values (sociology students, DISCUSS)... and that sometimes means that boundaries have to be defined.

Some tracks are meant not to be crossed and this little bunch are the last people we want playing rubicon hopscotch with the kiddies.

I just hope that these werent the guys Ms Kelly had in mind when she said that there "must be no witch-hunts against hard-working teachers".

I don't want a witchhunt - but I do want teachers who set a good example and I don't think these guys do. On the whole I think 5 (or 10, or perhaps even 15) is a little young to learn that redemption might be possible for perverts - because after all there's always the chance that it isn't.

See that's what happens when someone starts with the Daily Mail links - but seriously they're not ACTUALLY banned from schools yet, are they Ms Kelly?

'In future, the former chief executive of children's charity Barnardo's, Sir Roger Singleton, would oversee the panel on staff suitability to work with children,' Ms Kelly said.

I suppose that is better than an over-worked, potentially befuddled, and potentially personally circumscribed minister at any rate.

Still it all goes to show, grunting notwithstanding, that this whole business IS apparently more difficult than it seems. Allegedly.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Coming soon to a flat near you

Much as I hate to echo the Hugh McKinney, of the National Family Campaign I have to wonder what on earth the Home Office is up to with its new plans to legalise "mini brothels".

I wonder whether any ministers know what is going on outside the Whitehall bubble? Have they been to Harringay lately (precisely the kind of place where your enterprising pimp will be sizing up a string of lets, two to a flat)? Or maybe they just think it unlikely that one of these places will open next door to them?

And while of course I'm being marginally NIMBY, what about the poor women the subsequent explosion of the sex trade will enslave?

I simply do not understand the mind-set of a government which will go to the wall over Iraq or incitement to commit religious hatred, yet opts for harmful half-measures over an issue where they could make a real difference.

Licenced, large-scale brothels, regularly inspected, along with a crack-down on "illegal" forms of prostitution would save tens, if not hundreds of thousands of young women from a life of rape, abuse, addiction and early death. Instead, in a move that seems mostly concerned with sweeping curb crawling under the carpet, they will effectively trigger an explosion in abuse and crime.

No doubt the impact of this perverse policy will be played down. After all, there were hardly riots on the streets following the liberalisation of licencing laws. However, reassurances can be hit and miss: the government also predicted only 5,000 to 13,000 Eastern Europeans would settle in the UK, but 175,000 came in the first year alone. Not a problem in itself, but an indication how complacent government assessments can sometimes be.

When a fight almost broke out in the Salisbury the other night between some Russians and English guys I asked the Eastern European barman what it was all about. 'Don't know,' he said, 'though the Russian did try to sell me his girl a bit earlier'.

So while I'm happy to get my pint pulled, I'd rather not have the sex slaves next door thanks.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Just say no ...responsibility

Ruth Kelly has announced that politicians will no longer decide whether individual sex offenders, or those cautioned for offences which come within the remit of the Sex Offenders Register and List 99 (and yes it appears there was a flake in that), can or cannot teach in our schools.

Instead some faceless bureaucrats will be employed to do the job. This is probably a good thing UP TO A POINT...

And that point is where we draw the line over what is acceptable behaviour with respect to children. And THAT should not be affected by who is making the 'decisions' - in fact, without wishing to sound too Daily Mail-esque, we have all been led to believe that there are few if any decisions to make. This is not something where we should feel the need for leeway. Paedophiles, we are told, are, by the nature of their position and predilections, devious. Our leeway is their highway to heaven - and potentially some child's highway to hell. This is not hyperbole as one can see from a brief perusal of the NSPCC statement on the Soham case

And although William Gibson one of teachers concerned, denies being a paedophile he would still have fallen foul of the recent Sexual Offences Act 2003 which would have put him you know where - beyond the pail and on List 99. Or at least that would be where we would all have assumed he would be.

On the one hand it is shocking that the crazed centralisation of our government over the last 20 years has led us to have ministers deciding which sex offenders get to work in schools - that is madness - as well as, let us say, being open to abuse - given the way most ministers take decisions. A point discussed in more generic terms last week by Steve Richards in the Independent in a well-argued piece entitleddon't want the blame for every fault, they need to revive local responsibility But on another it is, as John Reid said yesterday in one of his occasional bids to be taken seriously as a populist politician and potential leader of the Labour party, more a case of people wanting to be able to believe that an issue is resolved.

People do not want grey areas - they do not want a government response which amounts to: 'Well its not really our fault and in any case its better than it was, but don't for a moment think we havn't got to the heart of the matter - and our conclusion is that if this ever happens again in future it won't be our fault'.

This is simply shifting responsibility when what people actually want is a definitive statement that sex offenders or those cautioned for sexual offences will not be able to work in schools.

Mutterings about the need for legal change and ridiculous efforts to blame past ministers or human rights legislation are just responsibility-avoidance strategies.

It is ironic that a government once famed for its uncompromising comunications and rebuttal ability cannot make one simple statement. The fact that it cannot is not a feature of the absence of a Mr A. Campbell but rather it is because the department responsible feels unable to confirm that it can deliver on such an assertion.

One might almost think that the civil servants in the Dept for Education and Skills are intentionally undermining an unpopular minister who has shown litte respect for their abilities or advice except when looking for someone to blame. However given her dangerous ideological predilections and unsettling ability to place policy before the devilish detail that influences the daily lives of the citizens who elected her, maybe this time the faceless bureaucrats are on the side of the angels.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Liberation for some

Dark age society we may be, but we don't hang 17-year-old rape victims for defending themselves.

Nazanin, who was 17 at the time, had been out with her niece and their boyfriends on a road west of Tehran when two men started harassing them and then tried to rape them after the boyfriends had run away.

"I committed murder to defend myself and my niece, I did not mean to kill him. I did not know what to do because nobody came to help us," the paper quoted her as saying during her trial.

This follows the 2004 judicial murder of 16-year-old Atefeh Rajabi for "acts incompatible with chastity".

The teenage victim had no access to a lawyer at any stage and efforts by her family to retain one were to no avail. Atefeh personally defended herself and told the religious judge that he should punish those who force women into adultery, not the victims. She was eventually hanged in public in the northern town of Neka.

Moral equivalence is a favourite pastime of our post-modern society, but I still wonder how the left - and particularly self-styled feminists - can turn a blind eye to the abuse of their sisters. The sick irony of Socialist Workers marching in step with Islamicists has been addressed at length elsewhere, but I remain perplexed at the relative silence of feminists on the sufferings of their sisters abroad and... at home. Or does one only qualify for liberation if one is Western, Christian and white?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

History repeating

Jack Straw claims there is no good reason for Iran to restart its research if it truly only wants a nuclear program for peaceful means.

Well, that's what they call blowback, Jack.

While it is true that the Iranians have been trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability at least since the Iran-Iraq war, they have certainly displayed renewed determination post-Iraq.

Critics of the Administration say Bush's hard public line against the so-called "Axis of Evil," combined with the threatened war with Iraq, have acted as a spur to both Iran and North Korea to accelerate their nuclear programs.

Said Time back in 2003.

"If those countries didn't have much incentive or motivation before, they certainly did after the Axis of Evil statement," says one western diplomat familiar with the Iranian and North Korean programs.

So far, so what?

The accession of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the Iranian presidency, that's what.

The new Iranian president might well be "very niave politically but out of his depth", "sabre rattling", "playing to the home crowd" with his talk of wiping out Israel, sharing nuclear technology with other Muslim states etc etc, as most commentators and politicians say. But what if he is not?

It is the habit of rational people (and even politicians) to presume the people they are dealing with are also rational. But history suggests otherwise. Recent history has had a habit of producing brilliant nutters, from Hitler to Mugabe, via Pol Pot. And each of these leaders have at one point or another been treated as rational men, who can be negotiated with, will seek a reasonable solution and if not, will be deposed in a palace coup by forces of reason. Certainly the epithets attached to Ahmadinejad, would have accompanied Hitler through the early 30s. But time and again he proved his critics wrong.

Indeed, the path Ahmadinejad is treading all too rapidly is certainly one that would come as no surprise to Adolf himself, from his anti-semitic outbursts to the current breaking of the UN seals on the nuclear research facilities - a kind of symbolic remilitarisation of the Rhineland if you like.

I opposed the Iraq war, not because I'm some pinko pacifist. I just considered it folly. But unless the UN acts quickly and decisively I would support military action against Iran, with all its horrendous consequences. I don't believe Ahmadinejad is a reasonable man. I strongly suspect he will not only develop nuclear weapons but he will be prepared to use them, or at least pass them to agencies that will do so. It is not as if Iran has blanched from using terrorism against Western interests before.

For all the likely blowback - and I suspect it would make Iraq look like a tea party - we have to act now. Better this than have our grandchildren survey the ashes of our great cities and think of Bush and Blair not as 21st Century Churchills, but half-baked Chamberlains.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Rules Have Changed - the Jug Eared B*stards want Summary Justice AND Respect

Charles Clarke was one of the bevy of ministers talking about Respect this morning as a sort of Grecian 2005 chorus to Captain Tony's Robocop.

The Captain's mantra was that as Melanie Phillips recently put it the government had to wrest back control of the streets. Or, as Charles Clarke confirmed in an interview on the Today programe this morning, that the goalpost shifting previously reserved for combatting terrorism must now be applied to anti-social behaviour as well.

In the most bizarre passage of the interview Mr Clarke proposed a fundamental subversion of Britain's property laws as a sensible way of dealing with having noisy students living next door. He explained to a commendably unamused interviewer that he was proposing a new law that would allow even homeowners - yes Melanie HOMEOWNERS - who annoy their neighbours to be exiled from their property for 3 months to teach them a lesson in good neighbourliness.

Listen if you dare here - it was on at 8.10am REALLY - he DID say that!

Mr Clarke failed to explain whether they would spend the 3 months in one of our overcrowded prisons, numbers within which are already at a record high or whether they might possibly be sent at the taxpayers expense to the Costa Del Sol to see some of their mates (oh sorry its the government that was meant to be doing the social stigmatisation isn't it, I do apologise m'lud - WOTCHA-MEAN-AH'M-GOIN'-DARN??!) - on reflection I imagine he'll propose some kind of internal exile - maybe a Prison ship could help house these undesirables - or perhaps those nice CIA flyboys could help out - lets face it 3 months in a camp in Poland is pretty much a free holiday isn't it?

I suppose the interviewer just thought 'look I've been here before and this has as much chance of becoming law as the Koreans have of getting any more cash for research into human cloning'. Still I think we should know.

ALSO what will happen to the property during the exile period - can we keep clerics under house arrest there or will the chanting annoy the neighbours? - Then again I'm told John bird wants to move some homeless people in and some bird wants to move some Johns in, no I'm just confused...

Anyway its all about regaining control of the streets, right Mel? Because in case none of us have noticed its now impossible to even go shopping without being kidnapped in the UK while trying to pop into your local mosque is positively suicidal.

Yes its true Tony really has lost control of the streets - Melanie's right and if I misbehave I hope that jug-eared fat bloke moves his mates into my house to teach me a lesson, fair do's - but one thing I'm not going to do is respect an unbalanced paranoid porker who dresses like a f**king' tramp while he's doing it - for more, in song, just CLICK - after all he is the very model of a modern labour minister..... and that is the problem...

Today's bravura performances are simply more of this government's particularly curious brand of all talk and no trousers populist hysteria. While fine at whipping the right into a frenzy, this is to be frank not so much all stick and no carrot as nothing more than willy waving - and, lets face it, if you're going to wave your willy (or shake your stick) at anyone as demanding as Melanie Phillips eventually you're going to have to give her some.... which I suppose is how we got to the all offences are arrestable section of the... Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005

Still, with David Cameron adopting all his policies, perhaps Captain Tony might just, finally, start to realise that if he persists in perpetually fighting on the ground of the right, eventually they ARE going to wise up and join him...

...So now that David Cameron wants his toys back I think its only reasonable for the rest of us to ask CAN WE HAVE OUR LABOUR PARTY BACK PLEASE?

And finally... while we are talking humour (and we are, because I'm assuming you clicked to see the Home Secretary in his FABULOUS song and dance Revue)... a few gems from the collected wit of the late Mr Tony Banks...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Compensation for some

I was planning to write about how the Muslim Council of Britain (remember - the UK's "official" voice of moderate Islam) is again boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day but naturally Harry's Place got their first.

Continuing the theme however, I notice 7/7 bomber Shehzad Tanweer left a substantial estate. Putting aside the "riddle" about how the part-time chip shop worker got hold of the cash, wouldn't it be sensible to distribute the money to the injured and relatives of the people he murdered rather than handing it to his parents?

Of course there is no precedent for this sort of thing, but then there is no precedent for suicide bombing in the UK. Having said that, a decision on behalf of the victims is unlikely from a government that even shies away from asking foreign-born imams to take extra English lessons.

And awards bigots like MCB chief Sacranie knighthoods.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Look, it SEEMED like a GOOD idea at THE TIME - but then again I was...

Kennedy admits drink problem but oddly says he is standing for re-election in an effort to be the Liberals first openly alcoholic party leader.

In his defence I will merely point out that the Liberals now have nearly 3 times as many seats as they did in Paddy Pants Down's time and that the former Yugoslavia is not exactly a beacon of well-adjusted democracy.

O Lord, Where Art Thou?

Had one of those strange waking moments yesterday - the radio was on, playing the Today show on Radio 4, and I half woke to hear sounds of jubilation, apparently all but one of the miners in West Virginia had been found alive. Cut to clips of friends and relatives "we have been praying so hard for them and God has answered our prayers" etc.

I fell asleep again. One hour later, I woke up, Today still playing. Apparently, all but one of the West Virginia miners had been found dead. There was no mention of God. Perhaps he's only there for the good things in life. Now instead of praying to God, the relatives are talking of sueing the mine owners. For verily, where God fails, Mammon shall find a way!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What's your poison?

Apparently Radio 4's Today programme had to pull the plug on a row between the author of this article on the dangers of political correctness and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I would have liked to have heard that.

While I suspect that Anthony Browne seeks to advance a somewhat olde world Tory agenda by peppering his case with the usual suspects...

The EU commissioned a report on the rise of anti-Semitism across Europe, but the authors found that the main cause was an increase in attacks from Muslim youths. The Commission binned the non-PC report, and ordered a PC one that blamed the rise on white skinheads instead. But refusing to face up honestly to the true cause of growing anti-Semitism makes it impossible to combat it.

There is some truth behind his implication that our ruling elites deploy PC to avoid addressing inconvenient facts. Browne has a point when he says that because PC was successful in adjusting perceptions about race, sexuality, etc it has now become the lens through which our elite view any opposition to their policies. So opponents of unrestricted immigration become rascists, of Prescotts Homes elitists.

A little less political correctness and a little more old-fashioned honesty, a little less denunciation and a little more open-mindedness, will go a long way to improving the lot of many of the most vulnerable in Britain. None of this is to say that racism, sexism and islamophobia don't exist and should not still be challenged. It's just they are not the whole story. What the PC brigade cannot stomach is that it is the non-PC free thinkers who are in many ways now our true moral guardians.

While "PC brigade" rather gives the game away, that does not mean there is not some truth in his commentary, just as political correctness also had its uses. The mistake is to adopt either as the absolute orthodoxy.