Monday, 30 December 2013

Society Needs Dissent: The Police Disagree.

I don't know Andy Blackwell well, but when I am in Cornwall I always go to his place, 'Blackies', to get my hair cut.

Mr Blackwell is my kind of bloke. We are as near as damn it the same age, he is delightfully eccentric, a businessman, and a Royal Navy veteran. There is a lovely atmosphere in Blackie's, its a nice place to be.

Like many business folk in Liskeard, he is very concerned about parking costs and restrictions that drive potential clients away from the town centre. Liskeard is not an obvious tourist destination, but seasonal and passing trade are very important in that neck of the woods.

Andy Blackwell is not a person you would describe as 'timid'.

In August of this year, he was in the process of cutting my barnet when he broke off to go outside the shop with his megaphone and announce "Danger, parking wardens in the area. Revenue collection in progress. Danger!"

Cornwall is one of those counties that generates massive profits from parking. Moscow has Gazprom, Cornwall has parking wardens.

Andy Blackwell says what most people think.

And so he had to be silenced.

The local council found three parking wardens to come forward and state that they felt 'intimidated' by his behaviour. I am ashamed to say that one of these specimens identified himself as an "ex-RAF officer" who was so traumatised by the experience that he had to go and sit down and have a cup of tea to get over it.

And here we get to the meat of the story.....

The police, who not only feel that they are above the law, but now know that they are indeed above the law, hate it when anybody questions authority. And so they took Mr Blackwood in, turned the screws, and forced him to accept a police caution for quite a serious allegation. They were no doubt pleased to do the bidding of the local authority. I worked in politics long enough to know an orchestrated operation when I see one.

A good man has now been silenced. He now has a police record that will stay with him for life, and he has been subjected to unpleasant press coverage in what is a small and close-knit community.

The British police were politicised during the miner's strike of the 1980s, and the damage has never been undone. Just ask Andrew Mitchell MP.

I do not want to appear flippant, but a police force that does the bidding of its political masters, and whose officers are above the law, is bad for our democracy. In fact, it is more than that; it is a major threat to our democracy. Just ask Andy Blackwell. This decent armed forces veteran, a family man and a taxpayer, has lost his right to speak out in the way that he sees fit about a situation that threatens his livelihood, and that of many other small businessmen and women.

I am never shy in voicing my opinions about London's serial killers and purveyors of fine perjury, the Metropolitan Police. I would argue that rather than promoting the likes of Cressida Dick, who oversaw the murder of an innocent man, and who does not seem to be on record as condemning the subsequent police cover up, we should be sacking these people. The political decapitation of the Met is the only way to return it to its originally intended purpose.

Apparently the problem is spreading. Democracy is in peril: perhaps we should give a lot of thought to what our police forces have become, and how we should deal with the problem.

Blackie's Barbershop
1 Pondbridge Hill
Cornwall  PL14 3AB

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Stay Away From Scabby Whores.

Now you may think that this is a deliberately provocative headline, intended to attract you in much the same way as one might use tags like 'Monica Bellucci Naked' to draw attention to an article about horse riding in Huntingdonshire, for example. But there is a genuine reason for it.
The Belgian press is carrying a couple of interesting stories today concerning health. There are two areas of concern - STDs are on the rise (especially Chlamydia), and there is also a bit of a problem with scabies, particularly in Flanders.

This comes in the same week that I learn of a drastic rise in Rickets in Southwark. This is associated with vitamin D deficiency, and as many as 40% of children in the borough may be potentially affected. Is that the result of a poor diet as a result of poverty, or an inability by some parents to understand that chips are not a breakfast cereal? I suspect its a bit of both.

Southwark has always been an area with acute health problems, and it would have been even worse if it were not for the work of health reformer Dr Alfred Salter, one of my greatest heroes. Salter transformed Bermondsey and its surrounds, but as time moves on, the area is becoming a problem again.

A wee extract here from what is now becoming the longest research project in the history of the galaxy, but which I hope to publish this side of my 80th birthday...

"The National Health Service tells us that even now, at the beginning of the 21st century, child mortality rates in Southwark remain higher than the average for England and Wales. A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, published in August 1997, showed that Bethnal Green also remains blighted by high, indeed rising, mortality rates. Interestingly, the same report also highlights the fact that men between the ages of 15-44 are still twice as likely to die in Southwark as the national average for their age group. In 2001, four academics from Bristol and Leeds universities, in a critical paper on health inequalities, cited Southwark, and Bermondsey in particular, as being amongst the very worst places in the UK for premature deaths. Indeed, in June 2011, the Southwark News reported that "There have been more cot deaths in Southwark in the last five years than anywhere else in London".

Figures also suggested that teenage mothers are four times more likely to have a cot death than older mums, leading experts to link the terrifying record to the borough’s high rates of teen pregnancy."
What am I saying here? In Flanders, and in Southwark, we are seeing frightening rises in instances of health issues related to poverty (as well as to poor education).
The Southwark News also reports an increase in the number of women turning to prostitution in order to pay their bills. Will we also see STD rates rise in the borough, as in Flanders, as a result?

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Making A Monkey Of The Law!

Just A Bunch Of Regular Guys?
Plato once wrote about rights and equality that matters would go so far the "even domestic pets will rise on their hind legs and demand equality".

A few years ago I was reminded of his words when I read of a move to ban the docking of dog's tails. Quite right too, in my opinion, as this is a cruel practice. But this was not a decision based on the cruelty involved, but on the basis that as dogs show happiness by wagging their tails, docking infringes upon their right to freedom of expression. Domestic pets now enjoy the right to freedom of expression. I am not actually saying that this is wrong, I am simply pointing out that Plato got it right. I wonder what else he will be proven right about..... That's a thought that makes me shudder.

Today I learn from the BBC that a New York court has been asked to give 'legal person' status to a chimpanzee. The Nonhuman Rights Project wants a chimp named Tommy to be granted "legal personhood" and thus to be entitled to the "fundamental right of bodily liberty". The group wants Tommy, and 3 other chimps to be released from captivity. Again, I'm right behind them on the motive, but because keeping animals in captivity is generally a cruel thing, not because they are really chaps like us.

I am going to put Plato's hat on now, and make a prediction.

There are often difficult issues when a person passes away and leaves money to a pet. It happens, and relatives sometimes dispute the will. I think I know where we are going with this.

I predict that in the not so distant future, there will exist a form of civil partnership that one can enter into with a pet, thus giving a legal status which ensures that the pet can inherit.

If that sounds crazy, then how about a New York court being asked to grant 'person status' to a chimp? It is crazy, but it is happening now.