Philip Lawrence Case

This is infact a reiteration of a post of mine to the telegraph blog.

From all the excitement about Philip’s murderer, it would appear that deporting him to Italy was accepted by both the family and perhaps Jack Straw as part of his punishment.  I know several people who would willingly take his place and who regard Italy as a sort of Paradise on Earth.

From what information is available to us,  I tend to agree with the tribunal that he should not be deported.  There  is no great hardship in going to Italy;  he can return to the UK as a citizen of an EU country whenever he pleases and he will not be allowed to starve to death on the streets of Rome fi he does not find a job.

What should be causing the outcry is the idea that a life sentence for murder is often little more than a dozen years in jail.  From a sentence of “death by hanging” to “have a sabbatical for a few years” has occurred in my lifetime.  A substantial bank robbery now often attracts a heavier sentence.  Mind you that was ever thus, if one recalls the draconian sentences meted out to the great train robbers.  Let’s have a Home Secretary who is prepared to up the tarriff for violent murder of a stranger to a point that actually does remove the murderer from society for most of his or her 70 years and ten.


More about Floods

I was gratified to receive comments to my post on my telegraph blog that were largely in agreement with my thoughts.  Especially it was good to get a comment from Rachel who confirmed that in her own experience the drains were inadequate to the task.

I posted another message in the same vein as follows

Charles Clover makes a similar point to my earlier post about the problem of drainage and how  new estates are more than likely to be built on flood plains.  It is of course more dificult to use simple drainage schemes to protect property on a flood plain, but not impossible.  The trick is to identify possible escape routes for the water and then not block them as well.  Defensive barriers in the long run will prove ineffective and prohibitively expensive.

Unfortunately, so far there is no evidence that public bodies are taking any notice of these solutions, either through planning regulations or the application of ordinary common sense.

Recent Floods

I posted this in my.telegraph blog.

I have just been viewing a report on BBC 24 about the forthcoming review of the civic response to the recents floods in Yorkshire. In it the reporter repeated that the floods were unpredictable and extraordinary. The changing patterns of weather in this country make this trite remark sound very complacent. He also mentioned the flood defences or lack of them.

We would not need flood defences if we stopped building on flood plains, stopped paving and tarmacing every available surface, planted more trees and stopped clearing mature trees and finally where there are existing towns at risk they were protected by adequate flood drains under roads and pavements. Forty years ago when I lived in Johannesburg, SA, there were regular storms when an inch or more of rain fell in a an hour or so. The huge drains allowed the water to run off roadways almost as fast as it fell and there was never any risk of flooding to properties of any sort. We have to accept that the recent heavy rain is likely to be repeated on more or less regularly in the future and that building defensive wall to prevent floods will be a waste of time and money.

Glasgow Airport Terrorist Attack

I find it very odd that the attack on Glasgow Airport has been dubbed a suicide bombing and there are reports that the seriously burned bomber had an explosive belt and had time to use it, but neither of  them blew themselves up.  Coupled with the two cars which did not explode in central London, this seems to point to some remarkably uncommitted people.  I have previously thought of suicide bombers as people who would commit their atrocities no matter what stood in their way.

Is it perhaps that the news media are portraying these latest bombers as relatively prosperous members of society (at least three doctors) who have a lot more to lose than a refugee from Gaza City?  Does this imply that improving the economic fortunes of the Palestinians in Gaza City and elsewhere would reduce the potential number of suicide attacks?

Good News?

There were two more hopeful news items recently. Gordon Brown inserted the word economic before the Israeli/ Palestinian roadmap. That does make sense. Until the Palestinians are given a chance economically there will never be peace. But we will have to wait and see.

Then I heard that the BBC will be looking to create better balance in all its output. Let’s hope that this means a balanced view of world news, not the present total preoccupation with what really amount to neighbourhood gossip. It would appear that first thing in the morning the newsroom chooses 3 or 4 pieces of tittle tattle and they become the news stories of the day on every BBC news channel. You have in the UK to wait for the World Service at 1.00 am to hear what has happened in the rest of the world.

Scottish Election 2007

Alex Salmond is going round propogating the myth that it is the will of the people that he should form the government and that he has a mandate to hold a referendum on independence. That is exactly what he does not have as far more people voted against him than for.

He should be challenged on this at every opportunity because if he says it often enough it may become a received fact.

The whole point about PR is that the government should be a compromise and a consensus.

Iran Fifteen

This government with its awful handling of the 15 sailors held briefly by the Iranians and now released has actually dragged the United Kingdom into utter disrepute.   I can only assume that ministers were once again incapable of revealing simple truths.  It presumably never occurred to anyone to just let the sailors tell their stories openly to all the press.  No, every single piece of information has to be twisted and spun to cover up the truth or create some false impression.

How low can the Royal Navy sink?  In Nelson’s day the despatches of commanding officers were published so there was no chance of a cover-up.   Nowadays that would seem to simple.  And as a result the Navy becomes the laughing stock of world opinion.

British Media especially the BBC

I have long been unhappy with BBC news output. It is far too parochial and shows symptoms of journalistic laziness such as too many government originated stories.

In particular I find most annoying the Radio 4 Today programme habit of forecasting the days news and announcements. Items that start with “The department of XYZ will announce today…” to my mind is a technical breach of a publication embargo on a press release. They seem to get away with it day after day and I can only assume a too cosey relationship between Today journalists and the government departments concerned.

The BBC 24 News programme often picks every possible grain of interest out of a story, bringing in endless specialists to speculate and pontificate. This is lazy. It is only too easy to pick a few stories and then call on known talking heads to fill out the air time rather than search out many more stories from around the globe. As a recent example, Aljazeera English ran a story about fighting in the capital of Somalia and a further news item on the Arab peace plan for Israel with commentary from both sides while News 24 was going over the Iranian capture of British sailors ad infinitum. I finally heard about Somalia on the BBC World Service later on that night. It appears that they take the lazy way out by running and re-running a very parochial story which is easily got together. It is particularly noticeable when there is a home news story which could be of popular interest. On days when there is no such story, the actual scope of their news widens considerably.

Many people have complained in the past how BBC news is biased towards the South East of England and this has not really changed.

Recent News

The principal excuse from government spokesmen commenting on the our poor showing in the recent Unicef report on children was that the data was out of date. It’s the excuse they make fro every derogatory report. In this case did they really believe that the public would say, “But, of course, in the last year or so I have noticed how suddenly all the young people look so happy and how they are suddenly so polite to others”. There are just one or two who have taken to shooting their peers in their own homes.

Jane Godley said something on Radio 4’s Saturday Live which made me think. She was talking about her husbands family using guns and hse stressed that they were not something they felt big or proud about carrying; they were just a tool, only to be fired in extreme situations. And that is the big difference with the young people in South London. Their guns define their status. They are their “emperor’s clothes”. And that is what makes them so dangerous.

Suffolk Avian Flu Outbreak

The recent outbreak was obviously a serious news item. However, it could not warrant the endless news coverage in every form of media, the top billing and the never ending stream of experts. It would appear that our UK media is so lacking in energy and vision that it falls with gratitude on any story which can be covered by sending a reporter and cameraman to stand outside a deserted factory in the middle of the night and relay banal platitudes to us.

I was vindicated in this belief when one reporter ventured into a nearby town to drum up indignation and fear, only to be met with a wall of total indfference. Well done the people of Suffolk!