Not Saussure

June 10, 2007

Kirsty Wark and Alex Salmond on Newsnight

Filed under: BBC — notsaussure @ 10:09 pm

Crikey! I’d read that there’d been some contention about the way the BBC’s Kirsty Wark treated Scotland’s new First Minister, Alex Salmond, in a recent interview about his objections to a memorandum of understanding Mr Blair has recently signed with the Libyans about an exchange of each country’s nationals held in the other country’s prisons — of some relevance to the Scots, since the only Libyan national held in a Scots prison is Mr Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi, convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. But now I’ve seen the interview, I’m not surprised people are a bit upset with the Beeb.

Apparently, while Mr Blair says the negotiations were nothing to do with Mr al Megrahi, the Libyans are saying, on the contrary, his case was the whole point of the agreement, at least as far as they’re concerned; and, as Mr Eugenides says, this raises the difficult question of whether we believe the British or the Libyan government — a question that shouldn’t be difficult to answer, but, unfortunately, is rather problematic after recent years.

Anyway, whatever the rights and wrongs of this, the BBC has apologised, rather half-heartedly, in my view, for the way Mr Salmond was treated by Ms Wark. I’m no great fan of most politicians, and certainly no great fan of Scottish Nationalism (unless they promise to take Mssrs Blair, Brown and Reid back home with them and never let them south of the border again, in which case by all means they can have their independence tomorrow, as far as I’m concerned). But this seems no way for a supposedly independent interviewer to behave, even though she is, apparently, in her private life a close friend of the outgoing Labour First Minister, Jack McConnell, and his wife. Take a look at the interview, via Beau Bo D’Or, and see what you make of it.

As Beau Bo D’Or suggests, while her colleague Jeremy Paxman gives politicians a hard time when he feels they’re not answering his questions, the problem here seemed to be that Mr Salmond was answering Ms Wark’s questions but she just didn’t like the answers she was getting. And as for her editor’s comment, in his sort-of-apology, that

the encounter was indeed intense and at times tetchy – Mr Salmond is always a robust and challenging interviewee,

all I can say is that only one person in that interview came over as ‘tetchy,’ and it wasn’t Mr Salmond.

The Commission on Integration and Cohesion

Filed under: Community, Politics, UK — notsaussure @ 5:15 pm

I’m a bit confused by this; the Telegraph reports that

Employers will be told to pay for language lessons for immigrant workers who have a poor grasp of English, under proposals to be unveiled this week. […] The Commission on Integration and Cohesion, which was promised by Tony Blair in the wake of the July 7 bombings in 2005, says that moves to prevent immigrants from being marginalised will help to ease racial tensions and fight the appeal of extremist ideologies.As the rate of overseas settlement in Britain runs at its highest ever, the commission will argue that many new immigrants are too poor to afford tuition and should have the costs covered by their employers. That would greatly improve their ability to contribute to society and would bring long-term benefits to cohesion in Britain, its report will suggest.

I find this confusing for two reasons; first, it’s self-evidently mad (not that this means it would not recommend itself to this, or any other, government, of course) and, second, Darra Singh, the Chairman of the Commission, says nothing about it in his article in today’s Observer, though he does discuss, at some length, his proposals for encouraging people to learn English:

Some basic translation is useful and necessary, but we have not always struck the right balance. My Commission on Integration and Cohesion will publish a series of tests public bodies should apply when making decisions about whether to provide translated material. And where savings are made by cutting translation services, they should be reinvested in English lessons – both for newcomers and settled communities. It is a lost opportunity, for individuals and for society, that some people who have lived here for 30 years or more have never acquired the language skills to play a fuller role in local life.

That may well have much to commend it, particularly in Wales, where a surprising number of people even in South Wales (as opposed to traditionally Welsh-speaking rural North Wales) appear to speak only Welsh and consequently need everything translating for them at enormous public expense, but he doesn’t seem to say anything about requiring employers to pay.

It’s a daft idea for two reasons. First, I don’t quite see why anyone would want to hire someone if they didn’t think their language (or any other) skills were adequate for the particular job they had in mind. Well, any private employer, at least; certainly our local hospital — of which I saw rather more than I would have wanted during my late wife’s last years — employed whole armies of absolutely charming ladies from the Philippines as nursing auxiliaries whose English, unfortunately, wasn’t up to communicating with patients at anything other than the most rudimentary level, which meant that complicated requests like ‘please get me a bed pan’ (from the elderly lady in the bed next to my wife’s on one stay in hospital) frequently went unanswered.

But any normal employer would, one rather assumes, try to make sure that his sales staff could understand enough English to serve the customers (though possibly not to write business letters), while being rather less bothered about the standard of English attained by his cleaners, so long as they understood what they were being asked to do.

Quite why an employer should be asked to pay for training he doesn’t think his staff need is a bit beyond me; yes, it would doubtless be nice if they could all drive, too, but is he also to be asked to pay for driving lessons for non-drivers?

Second, this proposal would, almost certainly, run smack into anti-discrimination legislation, and quite right, too. I’m old enough to remember when, shortly the Race Relations Act was passed, employers who wanted to continue to discriminate against recent immigrants started introducing tests in written English for jobs that didn’t obviously require such skills to any great extent (working on a production line, for example). Quite rightly, the Race Relations Board, as it then was, stepped in and the courts rapidly agreed that this sort of indirect discrimination was unlawful; you can only insist on linguistic skills that are relevant to the job.

Well, require employers to pay for language teaching in certain circumstances and, it seems to me, you’ve automatically made those language skills of direct relevance to the job and, in effect, given employers every reason to discriminate against applicants even they don’t want to. If I want to employ someone who seems perfectly well qualified for the job but the government are likely to insist I pay for training I don’t think he needs, then obviously I’m going to look for someone else who definitely won’t need the training because English is his first language.

It’s a barmy idea, and I rather wonder if the Telegraph isn’t rather exaggerating, though possibly not since Mr Singh is clearly well able to come up with pretty bonkers ideas without any help. For example, he’s got the idea that

a new citizenship ceremony – perhaps on students’ completion of their GCSEs – would be one way of more publicly marking their understanding of what it means to be a responsible citizen in modern Britain

Tim Worstall says all that needs to be said:

What really seems to be missed is that (whether it’s at 16 or any other age) the attainment of full citizenship is not some privilege that is handed down to us from on high. Rather, it’s that one is now of an age when one gets to choose who those on high are going to be. It is not the mighty who offer us the privileges of citizenship, it is us who choose who is going to handle those minor matters that cannot be handled privately, whether individually or collectively.The correct ceremony would therefore be for politicians to abase themselves before such gatherings, begging for votes so that they might continue their lives upon the gravy train. The correct response to this from those celebrating would for 40% not to bother to turn up, the remainder to view the vote stealers with the contempt they deserve: precisely the (correct) reaction of all the other adults in the Kingdom.

Mr Singh also favours the idea of compulsory volunteering, which rather suggests he could do with some English lessons, as least with regard to what ‘compulsory’ and ‘voluntary’ might mean. Apparently,

It is to be welcomed that many young people now take part in volunteering and give something back to their local area. The benefits are great – bringing together young people from different backgrounds to work together towards a common goal. I think we need to consider a national community service and we should not be afraid of asking whether this should be compulsory.

Well, yes, it’s certainly to be welcomed that people, of their own initiative, see something that they think needs doing and, quite sensibly, get together to do it themselves rather than ask the government, be it local or national, to do it for them. That Mr Singh thinks that the correct response to this is, in effect, to nationalise such efforts and to make them compulsory rather suggests he hasn’t properly thought it through. But, if we look more closely, we see that the benefits he perceives aren’t anything to do with the actual project being voluntarily undertaken; no, he likes the idea of

bringing together young people from different backgrounds to work together towards a common goal

Well, yes, I’m sure that’s a good idea. Employers do it all the time, do they not? Bring together people of all ages and backgrounds to work together to keep Tescos running profitably or what have you.

Obviously that’s not what he has in mind; I think he imagines, in effect, imposing community punishment orders on all young people, whether or not they’ve bothered to commit a crime first, which would be perfectly in line with government thinking. He might first, though, want to take some advice from people who’ve had experience of such national voluntary compulsory work schemes, though. They used to have them in the old Soviet Union, for example, for girls (boys did military service, obviously).

My interpreter and PA back there, the lovely and talented Inna, did hers at the local hospital in her home town, Kiev; from what she said, it’s a wonder the hospital ever managed to treat any patients, so busy were they trying to cope with finding jobs for — and supervising — dozens of untrained, mutinous and completely unmotivated 18 and 19-year-olds, where the girls couldn’t do too much damage (by accident or design) and wouldn’t get too much under the feet of the staff who were actually being paid to do the jobs properly.

Afterthought:  To be fair to Inna, she said that, in principle, she wouldn’t have minded doing some voluntary work, so long as it was voluntary;  it’s just that, as she said,  if you take a bright and somewhat stroppy 18-year-old who’s primarily interested in clubbing it and getting into university to study modern languages, and then tell her she’s got to spend a day a week at the local hospital helping with the filing and in the laundry (she got to help with the filing because she was one of the bright ones who was going to go on to university, you see), you’re looking for trouble…

June 9, 2007

The Guardian on civil liberties

Filed under: civil liberties — notsaussure @ 10:39 am

Tim quotes Martin Kettle in The Guardian about

how Maya Evans and Milan Rai were arrested for reading out the names of Iraq war victims opposite the Cenotaph war memorial in Whitehall (though if they had given the right notification they would not have been),

and justly comments

Of course having to ask permission from the police before you speak is not the same as living in a police state. What on earth would give anyone that idea?

As I recall, the Soviet Constitution guaranteed the right to hold demonstrations (Article 125 of Stalin’s constitution, though I think the numbering changed in later versions).

When, however, refusniks tried to quote this constitutional right on finding themselves on trial for hooliganism as a result of participating in demonstrations against the government’s refusal to grant exit visas, the Moscow city courts would patiently explain to them that the problem was they hadn’t obtained the necessary permits for their demonstration.

The fact that such permits are, for the present, considerably easier to obtain in London than were they in Moscow 30 years ago is certainly welcome but to use that as a justification for requiring people to obtain permits in the first place rather misses the point.

More Unfortunate logos

Filed under: Uncategorized — notsaussure @ 6:38 am

Via Andrew Sullivan. The London Olympics are, it seems, not the only people with an unfortunate logo brand, as an examination of this collection — which includes the London 2012 logo — will verify. Here, for example, is the logo for the Institute for Oriental Studies at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil, apparently representing a stylised oriental pagoda in front of the rising sun. It’s not clear if they spent £400,000 on it:

This received some publicity in Boing Boing a couple of years ago, and the university rather unsportingly took down the relevant web-page.

This one, for a computer repair company, is pretty unfortunate, too:

June 8, 2007

Compassionate killings and euthanasia

Filed under: Law — notsaussure @ 5:30 pm

In the course of replying some of the many comments to my piece on Nadine Dorries MP on abortion, I said I’d also give my views on the related — but, to my mind, distinct — topic of assisted suicide and euthanasia.

It’s distinct, to my mind, because whatever views one has about when life begins, there’s no doubt that it’s begun by the time you’re born. Consequently, we’re talking about deliberately ending a human life, and this is something on which I have very mixed views indeed. It’s also something about which I had to give very serious thought indeed during my late wife’s final illness — thank God, it never came to it, but it obviously was something we had to discuss as very real possibility, and I also had to think very seriously about what I would and wouldn’t be prepared to do under certain circumstances.

The short answer is that, if the worst had come to the worst, I’d have helped my wife to die in the manner she wanted, and I’ve have been prepared to take the legal consequences. It would certainly be far preferable were the law on homicide were altered to make it easier to convict for manslaughter in such circumstances, at the Law Commission Report on Murder, Manslaughter and Infanticide (pdf) suggests (see Part 7 for a lengthy discussion), but even this — as the Commission’s discussion makes clear — is horribly complicated. As they say,

Under the current law, the compassionate motives of the ‘mercy’ killer are in themselves never capable of providing a basis for a partial excuse. Some would say that this is unfortunate. On this view, the law affords more recognition to other less, or at least no more, understandable emotions such as anger (provocation) and fear (self-defence). Others would say that recognising a partial excuse of acting out of compassion would be dangerous. Just as a defence of necessity “can very easily become simply a mask for anarchy”, so the concept of ‘compassion’ – vague in itself – could very easily become a cover for selfish or ignoble reasons for killing, not least because people often act out of mixed motives.

And, if you do introduce ‘compassion’ as a partial defence, then to whom do you make this defence available? In the words of the Law Commission,

were we to recommend a partial defence of ‘mercy’ killing, there would be very difficult questions regarding its scope. For example, to what extent should the defence be open to secondary parties? Should it be limited to those who have a close personal relationship with V or should it also be available to professional and semi-professional carers? In relation to this second question, Dr Jonathan Rogers has suggested that the solution lies in distinguishing between, on the one hand, professional carers who kill, and on the other hand, family members who kill. The idea is that the latter should have a partial excuse when the former would not.We recognise the force of this argument, but there are problems with it. Justificatory considerations are liable to feature in the motivations of both groups. Moreover, some might argue that it is actually less excusable to rely on a purely personal judgement that another’s life is not worth living than it is to rely on a professional judgement to that effect (for which one is responsible to others as a professional). We offer no view on that argument but it shows the difficulty that must be faced in coming to conclusions that will be acceptable to a large majority of people.

It is, I think, essential that any compassionate killing face a judicial enquiry after the event — the idea of going to plead the case beforehand and getting judicial permission, as currently doctors and families have to do when they want to turn off life-support machines — fills me with horror, partly at the thought of what such proceedings would be like but also at the practicalities of the decision; I mean, where does this leave a couple who’re refused advance permission by the court? Presumably their views won’t have changed. And for how long does this permission last?

The problem is that, while we can all easily see circumstances in which we’d want someone to help us to die, it’s also very easy to see how this could be abused. People do, after all, act from mixed motives. People also find suffering from, and caring for someone who suffers from, a chronic degenerative illness a hell of a strain, which doesn’t always do wonders for your judgement; the certainty the surviving party is going to have to explain himself (and usually is him in such cases, apparently) to an impartial, though, one would hope, sympathetic tribunal and risks punishment if his explanation isn’t adequate is, I think, a very important safeguard for both parties — I say ‘both’ since the knowledge that your partner will go on to face trial would, I think, concentrate the mind of the would-be suicide on whether she or he really does want to ask their partner to do this.

As to the more general question of state-approved euthanasia, that seems to me not just a slippery slope but dancing on the edge of a precipice. Yes, we can all think of situations in which we might think we’d want to die and not want to involve a loved one (or not have anyone we could ask, of course) but the potential for abuse is so vast that the cure seems far worse than the problem. What to do, for example, with the elderly demented who’re in the care of the NHS or social services because they have no one else to whom to turn? They can’t make a rational decision about the quality of their lives; do we really trust Patricia Hewitt, with her understandable concerns for balancing the NHS’s books, to make that sort of decision for them? I’d think twice about trusting her to look after a goldfish, let alone to make life and death decisions (literally) about me, no matter demented I was.

Again, it’s one of those situations where there isn’t a right answer; there’s only a least bad one. Anyway, my thoughts on the matter, as promised.

June 7, 2007

Breaking news! Rachel’s stalker caught

Filed under: Uncategorized — notsaussure @ 7:45 pm

This just in, from the Oxford Mail (heads up via Unity)

Cyberstalker Felicity Jane Lowde has been caught by police as she sat in an Internet cafe typing away.Lowde, 41, has been on the run since April after she was convicted of harassing July 7 bombing survivor Rachel North with dozens of abusive messages on the Internet.

Lowde, from Jackson Road in Cutteslowe, Oxford, was not at court when she was convicted and continued to post messages on the web attacking Miss North, 36, and others.

Miss North, from London, survived the Piccadilly Line blast and began a web blog to campaign for an inquiry into the 2005 terrorist attack.

Shortly afterwards, Lowde began posting her messages to her, among them an accusation that she was “making a living on the backs of the dead”. She also criticised her in her own blogs.

But last night Lowde was in custody after police arrested her in a cybercafé in Brick Lane in east London.

Police have been trying to trace Lowde through her internet usage and asked the Oxford Mail for IP addresses of computers she was believed to be using to post messages on the newspaper’s website, http://www.oxfordmail.net It is understood someone began communicating with Lowde over the Internet this week, allowing officers to trace her to the cybercafe and arrest her.

Lowde is due to be sentenced by Stratford magistrates on June 28 for the harrassment charge. The maximum sentence she could face is six months in jail or a £5,000 fine.

Speaking after Lowde’s arrest, Miss North said: “I’m very relieved, because all I’ve ever wanted is for her to leave me alone. The fact that she is now in custody means tonight I can sleep safely.

“It’s great that she has finally been brought to justice after attempting to evade it for so long.”

While Miss North could not comment on the events leading up to Lowde’s arrest, she said she knew information supplied by the Oxford Mail had helped police in tracking her down.

Daniel Hart, 34, from Cowley, revealed last week that he was also subjected to 15 months of harassment after he designed graphics for Lowde’s blog.

Mr Hart has taken on a solicitor to have the offensive material removed from the Internet but the bizarre postings are still largely in place.

Mr Hart said last night: “I am extremely relieved that she is now in custody because she will not be able to continue these bizarre postings. I feel much more relaxed and I am hoping that court action will start the process of removing the offensive material from the website.”

Lowde has previously declined a request to speak to the Oxford Mail, but maintained her innocence on her blog, in which she claims to be ‘an authorised Special Branch researcher’.

Sgt Colin Brooker, of Thames Valley Police, confirmed yesterday that Lowde had been arrested on Wednesday night.

June 6, 2007

Nadine Dorries MP on abortion

Filed under: Abortion, UK — notsaussure @ 10:33 pm

Nadine Dorries MP has written a couple of posts about abortion (she’s agin it) and has had the shit deservedly ripped out of her by Trixie at Is There More To Life Than Shoes?, DK and Unity at Ministry of Truth.   Nevertheless, I will add a few words to the debate.

As I’ve said elsewhere, to my mind objections to abortion such as those raised by Ms Dorries are, essentially, theological ones; they depend on beliefs about the soul and when life begins and, quite simply, these are beliefs that a great number of people, rightly or wrongly, do not share with Ms Dorries. It is, quite simply, wrong for MPs to legislate on primarily theological grounds. The reason we have laws against murder and theft are not, as I keep on saying, because God forbids such activities (though I believe He does) but because you can’t have any sort of complex society in which people can go around murdering and robbing people with impunity. Society can, however, knock along reasonably well despite some of its members committing adultery and worshipping graven images, which is why we don’t ban those activities despite the fact that we have it on equally good authority that The Almighty disapproves of them, too.

My views on abortion are very much coloured by personal experience. Some twenty years ago, my then girlfriend found herself pregnant as a result of a condom bursting (baby oil and condoms do not mix, experto crede). What to do? This is two intelligent professionals in their 30s we’re talking about, remember, and it wasn’t an easy decision for either of us. One thing we were both completely clear about, though, was that, ultimately, it had to be her decision and — this was what was foremost in my mind — was that whatever my views on the matter, ultimately the only honourable thing I could do was support her in whatever decision she took.

Unfortunately, at least from my point of view, she decided — unwillingly — that an abortion was the least bad option. I didn’t agree, but I could see it from her point of view and, as I said, all I could honourably do was give her all the love and support I could in what was, I know, a very difficult decision for her.

Now, as far as I’m concerned, if anyone had the right to interfere with her decision, it was me. And I certainly didn’t think, and still don’t think, I had that right.

That being the case, I’m bloody sure no MP, nor any Cardinal of a church to which she did not belong, has any say in the matter. She asked me to drop her off at the end of the road where the clinic was, so she could walk in by herself (and, if she chose, turn round by herself). While I am not by nature a violent man, unless circumstances demand it, there is no law of God nor man that would have saved anyone who tried either to stop her or force her through those gates at the end of what I know was a very difficult walk for her, no matter what were my views on her decision.

Blogpower Awards

Filed under: Blogroll — notsaussure @ 9:34 pm

Voting has begun in almost all categories of the Blogpower Awards, and the polls will remain open until 19:00 (London time) on Wednesday, June 13th. People can vote as often as they wish for as many candidates as they want in each category, but can only vote in each category once a day. Links below will take you to the individual polls.

I’m in several — many thanks to everyone who’s nominated me or voted for me — and there are some truly excellent blogs there I hadn’t seen before. Please get over there and vote early and vote often.

It’s not my intention to canvass for anyone, not even for myself, but I think I must make an exception for Central News, the BNP blogger, who seems to have got himself nominated for an unexpectedly large number of categories. For this he very fairly thanks

all those BNPers that nominated me can be proud that you raised the name of the BNP. If I get a good vote you can be even more proud of the online organisation of the BNP.

One category he most certainly deserves to win, to my mind, is Number 20, where, despite stiff competition from the likes of Councillor Terry Kelly , he has at least one entry for Most Unintentionally Humorous post (the poll isn’t up on that category yet, and I can’t be bothered to count the individual nominations to see if both his entries are there).

His views on the judiciary, though, certainly look as if they’ll make it through to the finals, so I heartily commend this for people’s consideration and votes in Section 20:

Trials cost a lot of money. Judges get paid £120,000 per year but Magistrates (which have no legal experience) don’t get paid anything except for expenses and deal with minor crimes. If I was to change anything I would make a third type of judge. This judge would have legal experience but not as much as a normal judge. Basically they would have the equivalent knowledge of a legal executive. This new judge would be paid around £25,000 per year and deal with moderately serious crimes which would leave the main judges to deal with the serious crimes. It wouldn’t take long. Judges only get 1 weeks training anyway.

If you have ever been to a trial which I have (college trip) you would be able to see that judges are pretty useless because they basically only sum up the trial and sentence the criminal and an administrator could easily do that, infact anyone could do it. This might be different in trials for serious crimes. I don’t know because I only got to see the trial of a wife beater (guilty), robber (innocent) and a drink driver (guilty). I chickened out just as I was about to go and see a trial of a man accused of raping his 10 year old son.

All categories and links below the fold. Best of luck, all. (more…)

National Days

Filed under: UK — notsaussure @ 7:09 pm

Pretty widespread condemnation for the plan by Ruth Kelly and Liam Byrne to celebrate a Britishness Day, ranging from some excellent suggestions at both The Virtual Stoa and Blood and Treasure as to how, perzactly, we might celebrate it (the latter has a most useful link to The London Riot Re-enactment Society) to a really rather good leader in the Telegraph, including the observations

Being British means not worrying too much about what it means to be British.

and

We may fly flags and sing Rule Britannia enthusiastically at the Last Night of the Proms, but it’s not like us really.We might quite like the idea of a national day, but we would hate to be told what to with it.

And, as if to demonstrate the idea’s a complete non-starter, David Cameron promptly decided not only that he agreed with Ms Kelly and Mr Byrne but told us we:

should take a leaf out of America’s book when it came to teaching citizens “what it means to be American”.

One of my infallible rules of political analysis, other than that when both main parties agree on something, it’s time to worry, is that recommending an idea on the grounds ‘it’s what the Americans do’ is about as pointless as recommending something because the French do it. It might conceivably a good idea, but most Brits would, I think, instinctively feel it’ll be a good idea even though, rather than because, the French and the Americans do it.

In this case, there are good historical reasons for distrusting American and French examples. Both countries have had, in the past, to sit down and define themselves, the USA when they drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and the French when, having done away with the French Monarchy, had completely to redefine what — other than speaking French — all citizens of the new Republic were supposed to have in common.

We’ve — fortunately, to my mind — never had that experience or necessity. Being British is, and always has been, ultimately a legal concept — you’re one of HM’s subjects, and that’s about it. Certainly there are various values that, at least at present, we hold to be important — liberal democracy, tolerance, freedom, the rule of law and so forth — but they’re hardly uniquely British; the Dutch or the Czechs would doubtless sign up to them, too. If people really want a liberal capitalist democracy day, then fair enough, but call it by its proper name.

Nationalism, it should be remembered, is an historical political movement which has never really got very far in Britain, for good historical reasons. It sprung from German romanticism and became very popular, and understandably so, both with people who were trying to liberate themselves from larger empires and with people who were trying to unify smaller polities into a larger whole. Yes, if you were a C19th subject of the Hapsburg Empire who spoke Hungarian (at least to the servants) and didn’t like being ruled from Vienna you quite possibly wanted to insist on a separate Hungarian identity, just as various Irishmen didn’t like the idea of being West Britons. Similarly, Italian and German nationalists of the C19th wanted to insist on a larger German or Italian identity that would unify all the little statelets and principalities.

But in Britain, we’ve never really had that experience; England essentially took over these islands and then we set about creating an overseas empire. I can see the point of being a Scots, Welsh or Irish nationalist; I can just about see the point of being an English nationalist, though I think it’s a pretty self-defeating idea, but trying to combine nationalism with Britishness — a supranational concept — is both ahistorical and utterly illogical. We don’t have a National Day in the way that the French or the Americans do for much the same reason we don’t have a President, do drive on the left and don’t speak French or get particularly fussed about abortion and gun control; our history is not that of either France or the USA.

Ruth Kelly, in her whitterings on The Today Programme about this said something suitably vague about

“The point of it would be to celebrate the contribution that we all make to society,

Well, what is that supposed to mean? Parades in honour of taxpayers? Somehow I don’t think so. Well, we know roughly what she meant, because she was praising voluntary organisations, but even that misses the point. Most people make a small but very important contribution to a small part of society just by being decent people. My late mother was able to spend her final years — particularly the last year, after she lost her sight — with independence and dignity not just because of the help various voluntary organisations gave her but because of the informal support network provided by her friends and neighbours. OK, that’s just one old lady they were helping, but it was extremely important to her. That, to my mind, is one of the important things that makes communities.

De illa ipsa fabula narratur

Filed under: Blogroll, Wingnuts — notsaussure @ 6:01 pm

(I think I’ve got the Latin right there).

Anyway, quote of the week from John Brissenden, of konichiwa, bitches, in a comment on The Flying Rodent’s spoof of Mad Mel Phillips’ latest outburst:

Tricky, trying to parody one who is so far beyond it. Money quote from “Britain’s dhimmerversities” [the outburst in question]:

“From their own mouths, more than half of Britain’s Muslims reveal they believe in demented and paranoid theories, refuse to take responsibility for the part played by their community and its faith in Islamist terrorism, and believe instead that Britain is a giant conspiracy against them.”

Remind you of anyone?

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