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Monday 17 December 2012

Winter Solstice Celebrations

Well, the Winter Solstice is almost upon us, and this Friday Druids and Pagans of various types will probably be vainly attempting to discern the disc of the Sun through an impenetrable layer of cloud at Stonehenge. If they are lucky, they may well avoid a thorough drenching, but it strikes me that if there is not already a god or a goddess in their pantheon that rules over the rain, then one should certainly be invented or adopted: Thunor perhaps? Surely, if Britain were to have a national deity, it would take the form of a cloud. The foreign stereotypes of ‘foggy Albion’ need to be updated to a more appropriate ‘sodden Albion’. We do not enjoy, contrary to the assertions of some predicting certain climatic shifts a few years ago, a climate akin to that of Provence.

Last week’s census results illustrated some interesting shifts in religious affiliation across England and Wales, with a notable surge in the number declaring themselves to have ‘no religion’ whatsoever. However, there was also growth in the number of those following fringe religious beliefs, which although claiming deep historical antecedents, are in reality relatively modern creations that have drawn upon scattered historical references, as well as in some instances the customs and practices of non-Western Shamanistic cultures, to create systems of belief that many find to be symbolically and emotionally satisfying. Some find that they possess a need for what they would term the ‘spiritual’, and so far as ‘spirituality’ goes, neo-paganism in its various forms is generally relatively benign. 

Across England and Wales the 2011 census revealed that the number of people identifying themselves as Pagan rose to 57,000, with an additional 18,000 describing themselves as Druids, Heathens and Wiccans. All of these share a certain romanticised view of nature and the past and are deeply rooted in a sense of attachment to place and people. It isn’t quite a British equivalent of Shinto, but it’s about as close as it gets. Thankfully, the negative elements of the old religions such as human and animal sacrifice alluded to in fragmentary fashion in the texts of Tacitus and other contemporaneous authors are absent from their re-imagined variants, but even amongst such a disparate body of people as neo-pagans, the occasional ugly demand that their beliefs be ‘respected’ can be encountered. In 2006 for example, Paul Davies from the Council of British Druid Orders described as “immoral and disrespectful” the display of Neolithic human remains in Avebury’s Alexander Keiller Museum and requested their reburial. Quite why he, rather than you or I, should be able to say how they ought to be treated is beyond me, for it is no more likely that he bears any closer relationship to those bones than we do, and I would prefer that the remains of our distant ancestors were made available for scientific analysis rather than reinterred.

As we move towards what looks set to be an unenviably soggy rather than a white Christmas, my thoughts will for a few moments this Friday morning turn towards Salisbury Plain, as I ponder the fate of the pagan party braving the elements early on a wan December day. If nothing else, it will bring a little colour to a drab time of the year, which quite rightly has over the ages given birth to a host of celebrations, whether they happen to have been focused upon the Solstice, Yule, the Saturnalia or Christmas. Personally, I’m happy to celebrate them all, partaking of the good humour that comes with festive food and drink. Anyone for an ale or two? Talking of which, take a look at this delicious and appropriately named beverage. Cheers!

Whilst on a wintry note, for your enjoyment below is Laura Marling's wistful 'Goodbye England (Covered in Snow)'. Alas, a good part of it may once again be covered in flood water instead.

Druids celebrating the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge in 2009

Border Agency fines Bradford Businesses

The Telegraph and Argus (T&A) this evening reported that five Bradford-based businesses have been fined a total of £28,750 for employing illegal immigrants following 70 raids and 69 arrests led by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) over the past twelve months. Six firms operating in Bradford were named by the paper, so if you object to illegal immigration, think twice about giving your custom to the following:
  • Steak Out Grill House, Sticker Lane, Bradford
  • Ahmed Halal Meat, Lilycroft Road
  • Chicking, Manningham Lane
  • Dhoom Design, White Abbey Road
  • Kash Takeaway, Leeds Road
  • Awadh Restaurant, Manchester Road
These were just some of the 26 businesses ‘with a combined total of £181,250 in fines outstanding for North East, Yorkshire and Humberside.’ The T&A reporter Delores Cowburn noted that a number of these firms approached by the paper provided no comment or claimed to be unaware of the fines. For some reason, not all of those working here illegally have been deported. The UKBA has provided no explanation for this failure. As for the identities of the men arrested, only two Pakistani men aged 18 and 50 who were working at the Steak Out Grill House were mentioned in the article. Given the names of the businesses concerned, it would seem logical to conclude that the bulk if not all of those arrested shared this national provenance.

Coming as this does just a few days after the startling figures relating to the last decade’s immigrant-fuelled population explosion in England, it illustrates that there is also a significant parallel problem with illegal immigration, with considerable numbers being trafficked into the country by members of resident ethnic minority ‘communities’. If you have reasonable suspicions that a business is employing illegal immigrants call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit the UKBA website at

Sunday 16 December 2012

Ed Miliband’s Immigration Speech: celebrating national dissolution

As with Ed Miliband’s speech on ‘Englishness’ in June, his speech on immigration at the end of last week was used as a pretext to launch into another ‘celebration’ of Britain’s, particularly England’s, newly found ethnic ‘diversity’ (i.e. Balkanisation). Whereas the first of the speeches was trailed as Miliband recognising that Labour had ‘got it wrong’ with respect to its routine demonisation of Englishness and its equation with ‘racism’, and the second as an acknowledgement that Labour had ‘made mistakes’ in its open-door immigration policy, neither in fact proved to be the case; Miliband provided his own definition of ‘Englishness’ that denied the English the right to their own identity, and ‘apologised’ for mass immigration by stating that we had not done enough to help the immigrants. So, for all of his toying with ‘Blue Labour’ rhetoric, even the substance of that strand of thinking within his party proves to be excessively unpalatable for him.

Following the Olympic opening ceremony, I noted how ‘It was not so much a celebration of national identity, as of a post-national notion of Britain as a hyper-globalised space, in which its people were depicted as being displaced by incomers at an every-accelerating pace’, and indeed, Ed Miliband picked up on this theme, but not as cause for lamentation, but for ‘celebration’. Miliband stated:
‘the whole Olympic experience reflected the diversity of modern Britain. So it was an immense achievement for our country and it reflects a crucial reality about our nation today. Social, cultural and ethnic diversity has made us stronger.’
What facts does he provide to back up such assertions? Why is it ‘crucial’? How has it ‘made us stronger’? Clearly, it is not 'crucial' and it has not 'made us stronger', and he did nothing to bolster his argument other than continue to repeat such assertions in a variety of verbal forms throughout the remainder of his speech. The reality is that the ongoing Balkanisation of Britain has helped to fuel riots, demands for special religious privileges, restraints upon freedom of speech and expression, discrimination in the workplace in favour of those of a non-indigenous background, a diminution in animal welfare standards, and increased stress upon our public services, whether they happen to be health, education or social security.

The Daily Mail was not impressed with his speech, and noted that ‘There are now around a million households where no on speaks English.’ What do these ‘million households’ add to our country, other than a deadweight? How many millions live in these households altogether? They constitute an extreme drag upon our economy, and deny homes to our young couples who wish to start families but are unable to do so because many larger dwellings are filled with non-English speaking immigrants. Furthermore, the enormous decadal increase in population brought about by mass immigration and the immigrant-descended population has assisted in inflating the property market and making homes unaffordable; it is an increase that has helped to choke our roads and to overburden our trains. All of this we must now suffer at a time when our economy is at best at a standstill. Our standard of living, whether measured in monetary terms, in the quality of our housing, in the general standard of our environment or in the services that we receive, is falling, and yet we are told that it must fall still further because of the ‘decarbonisation’ of the economy, whilst we make room and accommodation for more immigrants. And these observations of course, do not take into account the broader negative cultural impacts. Miliband, naturally, does not see let alone acknowledge any of these objections.

A thread that ran through both of Miliband’s speeches was his reference to his ‘refugee’ parents, to his family’s Jewishness and to ‘the terrors of the Nazis’. This, evidently, he perceives to be a useful means of implying that anyone who should object to mass immigration and the impact that it has wrought is somehow spiritually at one with ‘the Nazis’. It is of course a nasty and baseless insinuation, but he is happy to use it. In this latest speech, he made this incredibly explicit, by praising the Babel at a London school and claiming that ‘the British people have embraced this diversity’ before immediately launching into the observation that:
‘frankly we’ve had our fair share of doomsayers in Britain over the years. From Oswald Moseley in the 1930s, Enoch Powell in the 1960s to Nick Griffin today.’
This theme was later picked up when he asserted:
‘Division, racism and prejudice were features of everyday life for far too long in the Twentieth Century.’
So, there you have it: to object to mass immigration, globalisation and ensuing national self-dissolution is according to Miliband tantamount to fascism. Out of the three men he mentioned, Powell was the only one who was decent, and he has, contrary to Miliband’s speech, been proven correct in his observations and predictions. Whereas Miliband’s speech upon immigration will be largely forgotten in a decade’s time, Powell’s is an historical artefact that will remain.

As is customary not only for the Labour Party, but also for the BBC and UKIP amongst others, Miliband chose to emphasise Eastern European migration, omitting to mention that the majority of immigrants over the past 15 years have not come from within the EU, but from Asia and Africa. The census figures released this week confirm this.

Miliband announced that the learning of English was key for future ‘integration’ and stated that ‘We must live together across communities’. Already we have seen our capital city become not only non-English but also non-British, and if you live in a small town or in rural England, do not think that Miliband does not have plans to transform your world, for he also stated: 
‘Mixed communities are the key to making integration work. And mixed income housing is the key to creating mixed communities.’
So, if you should think that the building of social housing in our county towns and villages would be primarily to accommodate local people who cannot afford to buy their own homes, think again. Under a Labour administration – and probably under the current Condem Government – such homes may well be used to help enforce ‘mixing’, with immigrants being relocated from the globalised urban centres which were once English cities to a location near you. Will there be a Somali ‘community’ in Bridport for example? Ed Miliband would doubtless be delighted at such a prospect.

Labour's 'One Nation' is no nation at all

Friday 14 December 2012

Shotton Colliery ‘Muslim Education Centre’ Poll Results

Whilst being aware that Ed Miliband has delivered a speech on immigration in which he attempted to look ‘concerned’ at the same time as he extolled the ‘virtues’ of the transformation that mass immigration has wrought in our country in recent years, I shall leave my thoughts on its content until a later post. This evening, it is instead time to look at the results of a poll opened up to blog readers a fortnight ago on the so-called ‘Muslim Education Centre’ that has been given planning permission to open in the village of Shotton Colliery.

As of this evening, the article on the EDL protest at Shotton Colliery on Saturday 1 December had attracted 1,537 page views, but only 134 visitors to the blog felt moved to participate in the associated poll. Regular readers will be aware that although many who visit the blog do so because they find its content broadly to their taste, quite a few most certainly do not. Given that the sample for this poll is self-selecting, it is completely unscientific and I will thus not seek to draw any wide-ranging conclusions from it other than the fact that it will provide a reasonably accurate gauge of readers’ feelings relating to this issue over the past fortnight.

The poll itself posed a question – ‘What do you think of Shotton Colliery’s proposed ‘Muslim Education Centre’?’ – which was followed by a number of statements that respondents could either agree with or ignore. Each respondent could participate in the poll only once, but multiple answers could be ticked.

The two questions that opened the poll revealed strong opposition to the centre, which was not a surprise: ‘I oppose it’ – 96 votes (71%); ‘I support it’ – 16 votes (11%). The remaining statements are ranked below in order of their popularity:
  • MP Grahame Morris should publicly condemn the proposed centre – 56 votes (41%).
  • It is intended to pave the way for a larger Muslim population in Shotton Colliery – 53 votes (39%).
  • We need a political party to back us in our campaign against this centre – 46 votes (34%).
  • Its backers wish to use it to convert people to Islam – 44 votes (32%).
  • I am willing to campaign against the centre – 37 (27%).
  • I am willing to campaign for the centre – 6 votes (4%).
It was interesting to see that so many respondents thought that the local MP ought to come out against the centre and make a public statement to that effect, when in fact he has done precisely the opposite. If these 53 respondents could all write to Grahame Morris asking him to make such a public condemnation, whilst highlighting that they, their families and friends would not consider voting for him unless he did so, this could cause the MP something of a headache, although in all likelihood it would prompt him to issue a statement condemning ‘far-right’ agitators in his constituency.

Well over a third of respondents think that one of the centre’s functions will be to pave the way for an increase in the size of the village’s Muslim population, and just over a third want a political party to help campaign against the centre’s presence. Only marginally less – 32% - think that another core function of the centre will be to seek to convert locals, yet despite a strong sense of opposition towards this development only 27% of respondents stated that they are willing to actively campaign against it. The only small crumb of comfort that they can glean in this respect is that a mere 4% of the sample would be willing to campaign on its behalf.

Overall therefore, readers do not wish to see a ‘Muslim Education Centre’ in Shotton Colliery and instead would like local political figures to take a lead in opposing it, which is unlikely to happen. However, as in any such instance, only a certain proportion of those who hold such views are willing and/or able to become actively involved in making their opposition known. As for the comments attendant upon the Shotton Colliery protest article, it was often difficult to divine whether a number of them were genuine or had been fabricated by troublemakers, and there was a lack of clarity with respect to the identities of some of the commenters who posted anonymously, which made it difficult to know whether or not comments should be retained or removed owing to disputed ‘identities’. As we are fast approaching the festive season it is to be assumed that the next protest in the village will not take place until some point in 2013, and if another such protest does take place, what angle will its organisers choose to take, and what, if any, prospect of success will lie before it?  

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Bradford’s Muslim Population Explosion

In an article written in July after the release of the initial raw headline results from the 2011 Census, I noted how the highest population increases in the country appeared to take place in the boroughs possessing the largest Muslim populations, and today’s release of census results relating to religion appear to confirm this supposition. In July I observed that Tower Hamlets and Newham were recorded as displaying the greatest rate of population increase between 2001 and 2011, and today’s results state that Tower Hamlets has the highest share of Muslims in the country, and Newham the second, with the percentages standing at respectively 34.5% and 32.0%.

In Yorkshire, Bradford had experienced the fastest population growth, and once again I had attributed this to its growing Muslim population. This latter supposition also seems to be borne out by the statistics, for whereas the city’s Muslim population was recorded at 16.08% in 2001, the 2011 census reveals this percentage to have increased to 24.7%, making it the borough with the fourth largest share of Muslims in the country. Blackburn and Darwen, with 27.0%, stood in third place. Luton, the birthplace of the EDL, possessed the fifth highest concentration of Muslims at 24.6%. Across England and Wales as a whole, the number of Muslims increased rapidly during this 10-year period to a total of 2.7 million, its proportion of the population exploding from 3.0 to 4.8%.

The Muslim share of Bradford's population has risen by 53.6% in just ten years. Demographic Islamisation is thus a reality in England today, and the greater the number that profess that faith, the louder will be the calls for it to be protected and for the admission of co-religionists from overseas. Overall, what with London now being not only a minority English but also a minority British city, the census results make for grim reading.

Bradford Today, Bradford on Avon Tomorrow?

London lost in an Alien Nation

Shock. This is the word that best sums up my reaction to today’s 2011 census results, and yet, what they revealed was not unexpected. Still, seeing the stark reality of the statistics underscoring the rapid demographic shift in our country is alarming. What is particularly symbolic is the fate of London, nominally still our capital, but in an affective and emotional sense, no longer so, for London is revealed not only to have ceased to be an English city, but a British one too. We native White British are now in a minority in our own capital city, comprising a mere 45% share compared to 55% alien; a staggering decline in a decade, from the figure of 58% in 2001. How could this have come to be? Moreover, in the time that has elapsed since the census was taken, our share will have fallen further still. London is a lost city; a space rather than a place in which globalism rules.

The Scots may have Edinburgh, the Welsh Cardiff and the Irish Dublin as their capitals, and they are still Scottish, Welsh and Irish cities, but what we do we English have? Where is our capital? No longer is London ours. Where then, should be our national spiritual home? London no longer fits the bill. Alfred’s old capital of Winchester perhaps? York? Worcester? Where? Where is England? Where is its heart? Where are we English now able to feel comfortably at home? What has become of our country? Are we permitted to possess a territory that we can call our own, or are we to become fully dispossessed of what should by natural right be ours? We will, doubtless, be compelled to 'celebrate' this alleged 'diversity'.

In England and Wales, the Muslim population increased dramatically from 3.0% in 2001 to 4.8% (some 2.7 million people) in 2011. The percentage of people in England and Wales describing themselves as 'White British' declined from 87.5% to 80%. Similar processes are at play in France, and as can be seen here, French social attitudes now display a deep sense of unease with respect to the changes wrought in that country through decades of mass immigration and the rapid growth of the Islamic population.

What is this for? Who does this purport to represent?

Cameron pushing for intervention in Syria?

It would seem almost superfluous to note that the situation in Syria is very ugly, but irrespective of the complexities and the relative ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ articulated by different elements within the pro- and anti-regime camps, the civil conflict in that country is not our conflict, and we have no business in becoming embroiled in it. Nonetheless, there has for quite some time been a clear eagerness on the part of leading members of our Government – as exemplified by William Hague in particular – to get involved in some fashion, by lending assistance of one form of another to ‘the rebels’, despite the significant if not leading role played by jihadists within this opposition.

Assad is far from being a saint of course, but what do Hague and the policy makers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office realistically anticipate will replace him and his regime? One thing is for certain: it will not be a Western-style liberal democracy. As elsewhere in the Arab world where unrest has led to the toppling of long-established regimes over the past couple of years, the most likely outcome is an Islamist government, and as events in Egypt are demonstrating, this is unlikely to produce a system of consensual governance based upon equality before the law for all of its citizens. Members of Syria’s Christian population may look at the position of Egypt’s Copts, and therein divine the sort of future that they can expect to face.

A report in today’s Guardian states that David Cameron has asked for plans to be drawn up ‘for maritime or air support to rebels’, but with the proviso that such support would only be rendered in the event of the US also intervening in the Syrian conflict. However, this request is reported as generating unease amongst our chiefs of staff, who have drawn parallels with the pressure brought to bear by Cameron in the lead-up to the intervention in Libya, but note that in the case of Syria, the situation would be ‘very different’ owing u/ &e s%)`army’s much stronger ground-to-air missile capability. Hague, in wishful and myopic fa{hnog prZ)sts in constructing a fantasy Syrian opposition which he hopes, according to the Guardian, will ‘unify around a coherent programme built on respect for human rights and ethnic tolerance.’

The tide appears to have turned against the Assad regime, but what comes next should be left up to the Syrians themselves. Intervening because of the feeling that ‘something should be done’, is not a valid reason for doing so. If we were to intervene, it would generate one sort of resentment or another, and may not lead to an outcome that we would find desirable.

Sunday 9 December 2012

Sir Patrick Moore dies

This blog does not really venture into the world of obituaries, but today there will be an exception, for Sir Patrick Moore, a man who helped to inspire generations of would-be astronomers to look up to the skies, and to take an active interest in the world of science in general, passed away shortly after midday. It was only earlier this week that he graced our screens on The Sky at Night, a programme of which he had been the host since its inception in 1957, almost six months before Sputnik inaugurated the Space Age. Would Moore have thought, that at the relatively youthful age of 34 he would still be presenting the show right up until his death some 55 years later at the age of 89? No other television programme around the globe has possessed the same presenter for such a long period.

Sir Patrick was renowned for his mild eccentricity as exemplified in his wearing of a monocle, and to a lesser extent, his virtuoso xylophone playing. He was also a politically active man over many decades, and the views that he held were very much unlike those of a stereotypical BBC presenter. Whilst, as might be expected of many a BBC host, he was an opponent of fox hunting and blood sports in general, he was also a strong Eurosceptic and an admirer of Enoch Powell. In the 1970s, he held a staunch anti-immigration position, and was Chairman of an entity named the United Country Party before its merger with the New Britain Party. Later, he was to become a keen advocate and patron of UKIP. Sir Patrick was refreshingly out of kilter with the BBC mainstream, and was a man who spoke his mind. His presence will be missed. Who, if anyone, will now take on the mantle of the BBC's elderly champion of non-PC attitudes?

Sir Patrick Moore: 1923-2012 

Islam and Youth Offenders: is there a link?

Earlier this week a number of different papers ran a story connected to the announcement that the proportion of male offenders in young offender institutions had risen sharply to 21% of the total, with the further observation that 42% of the prison body in this category came from what were termed ‘black and minority ethnic communities’. What might these figures suggest, and is there a link between an increased propensity to criminality in England and Wales and the profession of Islam?

What strikes the reader immediately with respect to these figures is the very high proportion of offenders not only self-reporting as Muslim, but those who are non-indigenous. Why should this be? One of the reasons, although the figures from the 2011 census relating to religion and ethnicity have yet to be released, is that the share of such groups in the younger population of England in particular, and Wales to a lesser extent, has skyrocketed in recent years, but this in itself is unlikely to account for these percentages, as such figures, excepting certain urban areas, will not proportionately correspond to the composition of the population as a whole. Clearly, other factors are at play.

In terms of the overall numbers, according to the Daily Mail the offender population aged 15 to 18 numbered 1,543 ‘by the end of 2011/12’, which was down from 1,822 in the preceding year, whereas the Guardian notes that four years ago the total stood at 2,365. The proportion of males identifying themselves as Muslim has increased from 13% in 2009-10 to 16% in 2010-11 to 21% in the recent ‘annual review of children and young people in custody’.  Both the Mail and the Guardian observed that a significant proportion – around a third – of the overall offender population in this category had stated that they had been in care for at least part of their childhood.

What neither of these reports provide us with is information pertaining to the types of offences committed by those held in young offender institutions, or an indication as to whether the nature of offences was to a greater or lesser extent associated with religion and ethnicity. Is there something distinct about the type of offences committed by Muslim young offenders when compared to their non-Muslim equivalents? What proportion of the self-reported Muslim offenders were converts? Although it is likely that the percentage of the latter is low given the age group under consideration, it has been observed that in the mainstream prison system an increasing number of prisoners have been converting to Islam because of the contacts, ‘protection’ and perceived ‘privileges’ that belonging to Muslim gangs can afford.

It would be useful also to see which ethnic backgrounds these young Muslim offenders hail from. Are they predominantly from the longer established Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations, or from amongst more recent Muslim arrivals to this country such as Somalis and Afghans? Whatever the case, it would seem that their self-identification as Muslims legitimises in their eyes the perception that their transgression of the law is not such a serious matter, given that our laws are not based upon the Sharia. Although no firm conclusion can be drawn given the incomplete nature of the data at hand, the significant overrepresentation of Muslims amongst this segment of the prison population – as in the prison population more widely, not only in England and Wales, but elsewhere in Europe – is suggestive of a deep-seated lack of respect for, and identification with, the host society and its values. 

Aylesbury Young Offender Institution

Saturday 8 December 2012

Islam – Nein danke!

The National Secular Society (NSS) has this week drawn attention to a poll conducted by German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the subject of which was German attitudes towards Islam and Muslims. Its findings illustrate that, quite justly, the majority of Germans do not look favourably upon Islamic doctrine, and the NSS article notes that the attitudes in this poll differ little from those displayed in one of a similar nature conducted in May 2006. However, it is a great pity that details relating to the size of the sample size, its composition and the timing of the research was omitted not only from the NSS piece, but also from the original FAZ article.

The paper, somewhat dramatically, calls the results of the poll “catastrophic”. Why? It is clearly making a value judgement with respect to the opinions and attitudes of ordinary Germans, and presumably, owing to its use of the word “catastrophic”, finds that many Germans lack the politically correct view of Islam that the paper would wish to endorse and promote.

A total of 21 statements on Islam were offered to respondents who had to select which ‘most closely reflected their opinion’. The NSS article summarised some of the key findings as follows:
83% of them think that Islam is associated with impairing women’s rights; 77% thought Islam was a literalist religion; 70% said Islam is associated with religious fanaticism and radicalism. A significant part of Germany’s population also believes that Islam is ready for violence (64%), hatred (60%), active missionary activity (56%), and striving for political influence (56%). Only 13% of respondents associate Islam with love for neighbours, 12% with charity and 7% with openness and tolerance.
These results do not differ much from a similar poll conducted in May 2006, although that poll was taken at the height of the Mohammed cartoons controversy.
Why are such findings deemed to be controversial when there are clearly strong factual underpinnings for all of the ‘negative’ opinions about Islam listed above? It would be far more worrying were members of the German public not to hold these generally factually correct views about Islam.

With respect to the question “Do you think tension in relations with Muslims will grow in Germany in the nearest future and should we be afraid of it?” only 29% of respondents believed that there was no threat. However, it is not clear what percentage of the sample was Muslim and non-ethnically German, so it is probable that the figure supporting this statement amongst ethnic Germans was higher than the 71% cited. Overall, the poll is of interest insofar as it gives us a suggestion as to the general public mood in Germany with respect to Islam, but it is a great pity that details relating to the size and composition of the sample have been omitted. Further results from the FAZ article can be accessed at the NSS article here.

Friday 7 December 2012

Anyone heard the one about the gay marriage in a mosque?

David Cameron would seem to have moved into the realm of stand-up comedy today, but will his target audience find his ‘joke’ funny? Apparently, he believes that mosques should allow gay marriages to take place within their walls. How queer. One would have thought that an Eton education combined with a first class honours degree in PPE from Oxford would have equipped him with at least a rudimentary acquaintance with the content of other belief systems, particularly one so prominent as Islam, given that it possesses at least 1.6 billion followers, but evidently, this is not the case.

Given this glaring howler on the part of the Prime Minister, one can only agree with the opinion of many members of his party that our education system is ‘not fit for purpose.’ A gay marriage in a mosque could readily double up as a funeral for the couple in question: just another expression of the rich ‘diversity’ characteristic of contemporary Britain.

Here's a picture of Dave taken from no less a publication than 'The Muslim Weekly'

Thursday 6 December 2012

George Osborne’s Autumn Statement: why more investment in London?

George Osborne’s announcement in yesterday’s Autumn Statement brought little cheer to anyone, but for all of Labour’s jeering about the Condem’s inability to set the economy back on track, it is salutary to recall that it was the reckless excessive indebtedness incurred by the last Labour administration together with its full exposure of the UK’s capital markets to the full shock of globalisation that landed us in the economic predicament in which we find ourselves. Labour may call for additional public spending – its ‘Plan B’ option – but their proposals would simply incur yet more borrowing. Already, it has been announced that the UK could well lose its triple A credit rating next year, but if Labour had been in power, it is probable that this would already have gone.

Buried amidst the general gloom of his speech were a few faint glimmers, which no doubt were intended to garner positive headlines. Thus, besides the widely anticipated announcement that duty on petrol and diesel would not increase by the planned three pence per litre early in 2013, it was declared that the Chancellor intended to boost government investment in infrastructure projects. However, a significant chunk of this money – some £1 billion – has been set aside for the extension of the Northern Line to Battersea. Why? Is such an extension worth the money? How could it possibly merit such a massive investment? Could this money not be better used to improve rail services in the regions away from the capital, where rolling stock is often overcrowded and lines closed by Beeching could be usefully reinstated, easing congestion on the roads and assisting local economies?

The Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) has identified many decommissioned railway lines which it would like to see brought back into operation. One such example would be the reinstatement of the Skipton to Colne Railway, which would serve as a link between the Airedale Line and Lancashire. With respect to the Skipton to Colne link it states:
The 11.5 mile link between Skipton (North Yorkshire) and Colne (Lancashire) would link the Aire Valley and Yorkshire to East Lancashire, Manchester, Preston and beyond. Although under increasing threat, the trackbed is essentially intact and the railway could be restored at a relatively low cost: any further incursion would destroy a resource of national value and would be contrary to government policies.
Similarly, it is estimated that it would only cost £37 million to reopen the 10-mile line from Portishead to Bristol, which would be sure to ease commuter traffic. A Portishead Railway Group has been set up to campaign for its reinstatement.  

Too much of our investment is focused upon London. We need to direct more of our infrastructure investment away from the capital with a view to assisting an economic kickstart in our regions. We, after all, were left with the multi-billion pound bill of paying for the construction of the Olympic complex in Stratford that most of us will never see and never benefit from. In general, London sucks in too much from the rest of the country, and a considerable part of its population isn’t even English. The £1 billion earmarked for the extension of the Northern Line should be taken away, and redirected to fresh regional rail initiatives instead. 

Skipton to Colne Rail Link

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Bacon’s Human Rights Act Bid: National Sovereignty versus Supranationalism

Conservative MP Richard Bacon is a man who evidently knows his own mind, and is a backbencher who would appear from his record to act in accord with his beliefs rather than with a view to furthering his career in the parliamentary Conservative Party. Thus, he was in March 2003 one of only 15 Conservative MPs to vote against the Iraq War; in April 2006 he helped to precipitate the ejection of the then Home Secretary Charles Clarke from office following questions he fielded relating to what happened to released prisoners who happened to be failed asylum seekers, and he has for some time been campaigning for the reform of food labelling so that companies cannot claim – as they can at present – that meat produced abroad but packaged or processed in the UK is ‘British’. However, his efforts with respect to labelling ought to go further, for it would not seem that he has extended this principle to the compulsory identification of meat from religiously slaughtered livestock – halal and kosher – which constitutes a significant animal welfare issue.

Today, Bacon sought to bring about the repeal of Labour’s Human Rights Act by introducing a 10-minute rule bill. His rationale for its repeal rested upon his belief (and mine) that the manner in which it has been employed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to interfere with British law is “fundamentally undemocratic”. According to a BBC report he stated:
"A supranational court can impose its will against ours and, in my view, this is fundamentally undemocratic.
"Judges do not have access to a tablet of stone not available to the rest of us that allow them better to discern what our people need than we can possibly do as their elected, fallible, corrigible representatives.
"There is no set of values so universally agreed we can appeal to them as a useful final arbiter. In the end, they will always be shown up as either uselessly vague or controversially specific.
"In the end, questions of major social policy - whether on abortion, or capital punishment, or the right to bear firearms, or workers' rights - should be decided by elected representatives, and not by unelected judges."
Bacon’s reasoning based upon the principle of the law being responsive to and determined by the nation strikes me as a fundamental one, for who after all, appoints the judges in Strasbourg? To whom are they accountable? They, presumably, see themselves as akin to Plato’s ‘Guardians’, but their authority, clearly, is in direct contradiction to the principle of democracy and democratic accountability. If the ECHR ostensibly portrays itself as the defender of ‘fundamental human rights’, does its interference in national law not constitute a contradiction of the democratic principle? Is the right to change our laws and to political self-determination not then a ‘fundamental human right’? This seems to be the ECHR’s view, and as such, it undermines its own credibility by taking such a position.

Although Bacon managed to muster the support of 72 MPs, unfortunately his bill was defeated, for 195 voted against it. One of his leading opponents was Labour MP Thomas Docherty, who did make the valid point that the authority of the ECHR in the UK arose not from the act which he was seeking to repeal, but from our membership of the European Convention on Human Rights. However, Docherty then went beyond any position to which I would subscribe, by making the baseless assertion that to depart from the Convention would somehow signal that we here in our country would condone torture or deny our citizens’ right to life, thereby setting a negative precedent for those living in countries struggling to obtain respect for individual rights and liberties. By making these points, he appeared to imply that the Convention was one of the few things restraining us from falling into a state of arbitrary barbarism, which strikes me as tasteless hysteria.

To assert the primacy of national law above the authority and decisions of any supranational court is not to deny ‘human rights’, but to affirm them, in the form of the recognition of the concrete democratic rights of the nation and its constituent members. I find torture abhorrent, and do not argue for our departure from the Convention so that we may implement such a vile practice, or to deny our citizens their ‘right to life’, but to assert the democratic right of the nation to determine its own fate. We need therefore to leave the European Convention on Human Rights, as well as the European Union, for both departures would serve as necessary preconditions for the foundation of meaningful democracy and the revival of political participation in our country. Every nation deserves the right to self-determination, and at present, this is something that we are denied. 

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights

Sunday 2 December 2012

Channel 4 Alien Investigations: Video Clip and Review

This evening, Channel 4 starts its series 'Alien Investigations' in which it examines a number of famous (amongst ufologists and cryptozoologists presumably, as I hadn't previously heard of them) cases involving the alleged discovery of 'aliens' here on our planet. Whereas advances in planetary science, biology and genetics suggest that our galaxy is likely to be teeming with life, at least of the primitive bacterial variety (it is rumoured that we me be receiving an announcement from NASA shortly regarding the discovery of signs of extant life on Mars thanks to the Curiosity mission), that is quite different to stating that we have been visited by creatures from another world. The latter cannot be ruled out of course, but the evidence to date is lacking. Whatever happens to be revealed in the programmes that comprise this series, they are ought to make for a few evenings' good entertainment, even if they do little other than shed a little more light upon the social, cultural and psychological aspects of the belief in alien visitation.

The clip below provides a flavour of the first episode.

Review of Part One

As anticipated, the programme turned out to provide the best part of an hour’s engaging entertainment, focusing as it did upon three alleged alien sightings, with two of them furnishing specimens of the alleged aliens that could be subjected to scientific examination of one sort or another. All three originated in the Americas: the first from Metepec in Mexico; the second from the Cuzco region of Peru, and the third from Montauk on Long Island in the USA.

Images of all three alleged aliens looked intriguing, and it was the stories attached to the Metepec ‘alien’ that proved to be of most interest. Eyewitnesses claimed that in May 2007 a ranch hand was startled to discover the ‘alien’ captured in on of his rat traps (which for all the world resembled a miniature early nineteenth-century mantrap). In all, there were five witnesses who claimed to have seen it alive, with the animal being described as about 19 inches long (the remains certainly didn’t seem to be that large, so perhaps they meant to say centimetres) with a hairless pink body and luminous eyes. It made a noise that nobody could identify. The remains looked interesting, and a number of 3-D scans had failed to ascertain what it was. Its spine bore some human characteristics and it possessed humanlike hands, but no opposable thumbs (the thumbs were incomplete). On the second night after its discovery, it was stated that the creature was “drowned in acid”, which seems rather cruel. Drowning is bad enough, but why also add to its distress by using acid? Another such ‘alien’ was said to have been sighted on the ranch eight days later.

Initial tests upon the Metepec ‘alien’ allegedly suggested that it may have possessed a ‘human mother’, and the ranch owner where it was caught died two months after the event in a freakish and explosive car accident. Conspiracy theorists attributed this to alien revenge, whereas the more prosaic explanation centred upon a debt that he owed to gangsters. In all, some six tests were conducted upon the Metepec specimen, a number of them suggesting that its DNA was very close to that of humans, and indeed it was, for the final test revealed it to be a marmoset. Moreover, its skull matched that of a marmoset. Towards the end of the documentary, Angel Nuñez revealed that he had faked the whole affair, using a buffy tufted marmoset. Being a primate, it should therefore not come as a surprise that its DNA was close to that of humans.

The Peruvian ‘alien’ was found at an excavation on a mountain some 70 miles away from Machu Pichu amidst ‘fragments of meteorite’. The narrator noted the widespread belief amongst Peruvians and traditional Inca culture that their origins lay in the stars. The mummy that was discovered possessed a peculiarly elongated skull together with what appeared to be adult teeth and yet an open fontanelle. A Peruvian Ufologist named Dante Dios Tambini claimed to be convinced that it was an alien, and also produced some alleged footage of a UFO (which looked as if it was simply the product of pointing a handheld imaging device at the full Moon in daylight and waving it about) and a picture of an alien (nothing more than a red blemish atop a picture of a stone shack).

The narrator noted that skull deformation of this sort had been practised in a number of cultures for at least 9,000 years in Africa, including in Ancient Egypt. Closer to home, the Huns too practised this type of skull deformation in the fifth century. The remains of the Peruvian ‘alien’ were not submitted to testing, but according to Dr Anna Williams, it appeared to be a deformed child of about the age of six, judging by the state of its teeth. This seemed a far more likely explanation than the artist’s impression of a large-eyed ‘grey’ (or ‘gray’ I suppose Americans would term them) that was provided alongside the skull.

The third and final case was that of the so-called Monatauk alien washed up on a Long Island beach in July 2008. Once again, a number of conspiracy theories circulated, the most favoured being that this (and two subsequent carcasses) were aliens, and another being that it was the freakish product of US military experiments in labs on Plum Island that from 1953 until 1969 conducted biological experiments focused upon the poisoning of Soviet livestock presided over by an ex-Nazi scientist just to add a little additional lurid colouration to the tale. Although the carcasses looked odd, why anyone should have thought that they might be ‘aliens’ baffled me. A number of zoologists concluded otherwise: partially decomposed racoons. Not as exciting as an extraterrestrial, but a rather more convincing explanation.

All in all, the programme illustrated the public hunger for tales of alien visitation, a contemporary phenomenon that could be said to parallel the mediaeval thirst for miracles and visions of the Virgin Mary. It would seem that our own scientific age is giving birth to its own set of folk beliefs, fuelled by a voracious media and the general public’s desire for strange and fantastical tales.

Saturday 1 December 2012

EDL Shotton Colliery Demo

Today the EDL held a demo in the village of Shotton Colliery in County Durham. The protest was prompted by the decision of a locally resident businessman named Kaiser Choudry to transform a closed pub into what has been described as ‘a Muslim education centre’.

Given the name of the village, it will come as no surprise to the reader that it grew up around the eponymous pit which was closed by the NCB in the early 1970s with the loss of around 800 jobs. The village has never recovered from this swingeing economic blow, and the proposed ‘Muslim education centre’, which was once the Melrose Arms, is but one of eight former local pubs that have now been shut. Clearly, what Shotton Colliery requires is economic investment and job opportunities, not such a pointless entity as a ‘Muslim education centre’.

The pointlessness and unwelcome nature of such an intrusion into the life of an English village was overlooked by the Hartlepool Mail, which naturally chose to cover the story from a pro-Muslim perspective under the heading of ‘Muslims fear EDL demo’. Apparently, the village is home to five or six Muslim families. Presumably they are all familiar with Islam, so why would Shotton Colliery require a ‘Muslim education centre’? Obviously, it does not, and is simply intended as a base for Islamic proselytisation – dawa – amongst the resident English population. There is nothing favourable that can be said either about such an intent or this specific move, so the EDL were certainly right to demonstrate in this instance, for such a centre can bring good to nobody. The less that Islamic doctrine is preached and spread in our country, so much the better for all. 

Residents of the village should be aware that Easington MP Grahame Morris has sided with the proponents of the Muslim propaganda centre. At the very least, those who object to its presence should write to him and complain about his stance, asking him directly what benefit he thinks such a proselytising mission centre could possibly confer upon the area and the lives of local residents. There is nothing positive in Islamic doctrine that cannot be found in any other faith or general system of ethical conduct, but there is much in it that is inherently negative and inimical to the public good. We do not need more Islam in Britain, but less of it. We should not grant planning permission for Muslim mission centres. It would be better if the former Melrose Arms were to be bulldozed.

As for the turnout at the demo today, there has been scant information, although one opponent of the EDL, a self-styled ‘anti-fascist’ claimed in a tweet that some 200 EDL turned up in Shotton. On the other side of the divide, someone named Peter Sloan asserted that there were between 500 and 600 EDL and locals demonstrating against the proposed Muslim centre. From the picture of the demo below, it is impossible to estimate numbers, as it only shows part of the crowd. If you were in Shotton today, what were your impressions of the protest? Were you for it, or against it? What happened? Feel free to leave comments below, because the press will not report it in an objective fashion. A poll has been added to the blog column on the right where you can make clear your opinion on Shotton's proposed 'Muslim education centre'. Multiple answers can be submitted, and the poll will close on 21 December. It will be interesting to see what readers think.

On 2 December the Sunday Sun reported that two men were arrested at the demo ‘for breach of bail conditions’ and cited a police estimate of the number of EDL present as 200. However, it is not clear as to whether or not this figure also included locals who turned out to protest against the proposed ‘Muslim education centre’. The article also noted that Durham County Council has already ‘received a 102-signature petition and 13 letters against the conversion.’ Clearly, much more opposition will need to be effectively marshalled to put an end to this plan for the former Melrose Arms. According to the Hartlepool Mail, which decided to describe the demonstrators as 'far-right extremists' in its Sunday edition, Durham County Council has already approved plans for the centre to go ahead. Are you a local resident who opposes this centre? If so, how do you feel about being labelled a 'far-right extremist'?

A report that appeared in the Sunderland Echo on 3 December confirmed (as mentioned by a commenter below) that a woman wearing a niqab threw a bag of what appeared to be 'dog excrement' at the protesters, but the police have stated that it 'contained mud'. Her action cannot be described as being within the bounds of legitimate objection to the protest and was unnecessarily provocative. Nonetheless, she was only 'ushered away' and did not, so far as can be deduced from the report, receive a police caution. Although the protest itself is said to have been generally peaceful, it is stated that a bottle was thrown at the police (which fool did that?) and a number of fireworks were let off. It claimed that the demonstrators numbered about 200.

EDL Demonstrators in Shotton Colliery (Saturday 1 December 2012)

John Humphrys recognises the desire for a ‘new party’

John Humphrys this morning presided over a mini-debate on the Today Programme about UKIP’s success on Thursday, observing that the party’s good showing in the three by-elections could be read as indicative of the disenchanted mood of a section of the electorate which is looking for a ‘new party’. In the case of UKIP however, the panel (whom it must be said were not sympathetic towards UKIP), suggested that voters had chosen them because they represented the ‘none of the above’ option, fulfilling a role akin to that once played by the now highly unpopular Liberal Democrats. The suggestion therefore, was that the vote for UKIP was largely negative, rather than positive.

One panellist stated that UKIP supporters tend to be much more concerned about the state of the economy than average, whilst another claimed that despite its anti-EU focus, 49% of UKIP supporters named immigration as their primary concern. However, what they did not go on to note is the implicit fragility of UKIP’s support, for its globalist Thatcherite economic approach would not assist our economic recovery, and with respect to immigration, the party is only concerned about European immigration. It never talks about restricting immigration from Asia and Africa. It would therefore seem safe to draw the conclusion that the bulk of UKIP’s supporters would prefer to vote for a new party committed to leaving the EU which also followed a non-globalist and non-Thatcherite economic policy, and was committed to slashing immigration from everywhere around the globe.

John Humphrys has acknowledged that a significant section of the electorate desires a new party. Some, at least for now, have decided to invest their support in UKIP. It is of course the wrong choice, but the positive alternative option has yet to be created. We must provide a positive and credible alternative. Upon this score, it is at least encouraging that UKIP is now being described as a ‘mainstream party’ by prominent political and media figures, rather than being misrepresented as ‘racist’ simply for raising the suggestion that mass immigration ought to be curtailed. There have certainly been some figures in a number of the smaller parties who would merit this appellation, but it is time that those who routinely abuse the words ‘racist’ and ‘racism’ in order to delegitimise any position on immigration other than that in favour of open borders, were ignored. They have cried wolf for too long, and as anyone in possession of their senses knows, there are no wolves in Britain today, other than those kept in zoos and safari parks.