Monday, 20 February 2006

Thin Ice

I have been and remain transfixed by the Olympic Curling competition. Emotions have run high over the past few days as the men's team have edged into the semis and now the ladies have edged out.
Unlike many sports, my admiration for this one predominantly reflects a knowledge that I would be hopeless at doing it. The margins between success and failure are breath-taking in their minutiae.
Like many sports, however, the influence of leadership, decisiveness and confidence on the outcome is huge. And that, in a nutshell, has been the difference between our two teams.

The men are confidently lead, heads never drop, and commitment is wholehearted. They look like winners and I suspect they will be.
Sadly, only the converse can be said of the Ladies team. The body language among the team has told you all you need to know about how they were feeling and interacting. It just didn't happen.

That the teams have been selected purely on individual merit for the first time is an important and bold step. It marks a significant step forward in our ambitions. That is good.
What is bad is that the management have failed to accept the responsibility that goes with such a policy.

I have no right to make this observation and it is a little harsh but, with four games to go, and with a serious chance of the semis remaining, Rhona Martin's psychological state was clearly the weak link in the team. She may have been the skipper and the reigning Olympic champion but it was causing divisiveness and a complete breakdown of confidence. The team needed to breathe and she should have been rested.

Go, boys. 'Take out' those Fins.

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

Spring is in the air

A propos pretty much nothing really ...

I just thought I would observe that the snowdrops are blooming in the garden, the sun is shining, the morning air was cool and fresh, January is over, Spring is finally here, the year holds much promise and I am having an Abba moment at my desk.

That is all.

Tuesday, 7 February 2006

Very brave, Minister

The exchange between Tim Yeo and Tony Blair at the Commons Liaison Committee this morning was surreal in the extreme.

Tim Yeo, experienced campaigner, went for the PM over his Government's Climate Change inadequacies. The Tories are very big on environment and climate change now and it is fertile electoral ground.

That is, up to the point where you suggest that the public should be told that their days of cheap flights and exotic travel are over.

The PM sidestepped Tim's lure into that particular trap and Mr Blair fought bravely against the temptation to ask whether the Tories might be fighting the next election with a pledge to put flight costs through the roof.

It would be a brave politician indeed who went to the polls with a pledge to end cheap flights to Bordeaux, Ibiza and Lesbos. No votes in it, see! No matter how right the policy would clearly prove to be.

Spot the difference

[Also published on Once]

Lets play a game! I am going to relate two stories about our beloved police force and I’d like you to tell me what the difference is between them. Here goes.

Story One.

In my village in rural Cambs, an unscrupulous gang of block pavers are in operation.
One day last week they called upon an elderly gentleman requesting the chance to quote him happy on a new driveway.
His driveway is old, so he accepts their offer – for a quote.
Botchit and Scarper then proceed to physically dig up his driveway thus trapping his only vehicle in his garage and compelling the gentleman to spend his way out of the problem, ideally with them.
Elderly gentleman is not so easily intimidated and calls for help.
Police arrive.
Police investigate. Botchit and Scarper say elderly gentleman asked them to dig up his driveway. Elderly gentleman says Botchit and Scarper are doing so without his consent and thus creating a case of criminal damage.
Police conclude that it is his word against theirs.
Police action – Do absolutely nothing and drive away.

Story Two.

European newspaper editor lacks taste and publishes unfunny cartoons of Mohammed dressed as a terrorist.
Muslims in Middle East take offence and start angry demonstrations.
Other European newspaper editors claim freedom of speech and expression and repeat the publication of these unfunny cartoons. Daily Mail asleep! (Only way to explain why they didn’t join in!)
Middle East explodes in a furore of angry demonstrations and set fire to symbols of the offending European countries.
Muslims in Britain decide to share the offence taken by their Middle Eastern brethren and take to the streets of London.
Quite astonishingly, Muslim participants from Luton, Bedford, London etc commit gross acts of criminal incitement directly in front of our police force by carrying banners calling for all manner of terrorist acts of murder to be wrought on innocent people.
Police observe. Police action – Do absolutely nothing and successfully complete shift with no extra paperwork to do.

The answer of course is that the difference is nothing more than the SCALE of police failure.

In the eighties when I was growing up, I watched our police battle bravely against miners, football hooligans, and all manner of civil unrest in the name of law and order. The police were revered and trusted and stood tall against violence, wrong doing and intimidation. One grew up with a clear understanding that if you nothing to hide, the police were on your side and would protect you, and that if you were up to no good, the police would leap on you from a great height.

Now in 2006, the police are spineless and toothless and society has adapted in their shadow. How did we get to this sorry situation?

Let me make a few suggestions:

Our leaders forget that society takes its lead from them and quickly reflects the attitudes displayed by them. Hence, when you commission the Macpherson report in your first year of office and systematically and intentionally trash the police force simply to demonstrate that you are going to squash the old Tory vanguard, society reads, “Police are shit, police are powerless – ignore them.”

When you pass a gold plated Human Rights Act, society reads, “Cool, we can do exactly as we please and if challenged just scream “Human Rights” and everyone will run away.”

When you operate a prison policy that releases as many criminals as you can to save money, the criminal fringe read, “Make hay while the sun shines, boys. So long as you don’t actually kill anyone, they won’t lock you up.”

I could go on and on and on and on….. Quite simply, we have a system of Government which is lead by the rights and concerns of the criminal rather than the victim. A system of Government which fights crime on the basis that it is better for 10 guilty men to go free, than for 1 innocent man to be incarcerated.

Law and Order is NOT political. It is purely common sense founded in a basic understanding of group dynamics and human psychology. In order to keep the lid on decency and order, you have to be prepared to hold it down firmly and accept that a few people will get trapped along the rim. The alternative is what we have now – that you release the lid and millions of people feel threatened, insecure, unsafe, unprotected, vulnerable and deserted.

Our police are letting us all down at the moment. But it is not the fault of the bobbies and sergeants. They know what should be done and would do it in a trice if they could. No. The blame lies entirely with this crass and inept Government and the lickspittle poodles they place at the helm of the force.

You may think that my closing words lower the tone of this debate, but it really isn’t that far a jump to replace my elderly gentleman’s block paving incident with the rape of a young lady in a quiet back street and realise that, disregarding for a moment the offence of public indecency, the Police COULD conclude and act in exactly the same way.

How bleeping frightening does it get!

Thursday, 2 February 2006

SEX politics SEX

See got your attention - just as Cameron apparently has your attention too, ladies!

Sky News excel themselves. Not only do they report on Cameron's inclusion in the Top 100 sexy men, but they compare all the others to him!

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Winding Down?

That is now the second little quip the Prime Minister has made that in other times would have caused uproar.

A week ago at his monthly press conference, he told his audience in relation to the Moscow spy intrigue, that "we never comment on security issues.....unless it suits us of course!!" A quality joke that would grace any script of Yes Minister.

Now today, at PMQ's, when quizzed indirectly about his failure to vote and the Govt's defeat, he quips that "in relation to the vote on Education reforms, perhaps I should turn up next time."

Such jokes and quips have been missing from our political establishment for too long, brutally snuffed out by our petty and supercilious media, and we welcome them back. But doesn't it just underline Mr Blair's current state of mind.