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Afghanistan, we leave when we win ?

6 Jul

U.S. General David Petraeus has taken command of the Afghan war. It has been 3195 days (8 years, 9 months) since the first British troops went to Afghanistan after the attacks of September 11.

Petraeus said “After years of war, we have arrived at a critical moment…We must demonstrate to the people and to the Taliban that Afghan and (American-led coalition) forces are here to safeguard the Afghan people and that we are in this to win. That is our clear objective.”

“In this to win” What do we win, the privilege of propping up a corrupt government, increased World drug supply and production, the right to imprison women for ‘bad character’, military spending in the billions whilst cutting services back home.

Afghanistan cultural, social and moral structure outside of Kabul, is not something we can change at the barrel of a gun (or military occupation). Neither can we “safeguard the Afghan people”. For every ISAF casualty, 100’s of Afghans become casualties. We are causing more harm to Afghan people by our presence.

Whilst U.S. troop numbers continue to rise (soon some 100,000 U.S. troops), others are making plans to leave Afghanistan. Both Canada and Denmark pack their bags in 2011, no matter the situation.

Coming up to the 9th year it is about time for the U.K to also announce withdraw. Afghanistan, and global terrorism is a Political and Policing matter not something resolved by armies, invasion and military occupation.

News catchup…

28 Jun

Yesterday I returned home from my holiday. Put the key into the lock, opened the door, put my luggage down and sank into my sofa with a sigh. I’m Home. There is no feeling like it. The house was quite, the room cool and my belongings surround me.

I have seen little news or Television the last week so decided to catchup. It is surprising how quickly you mood can turn. News today in its never-ending quest for market share concentrate on emotional not factual reporting. The industry pushes your buttons, you become used to it to such an extent that only a break from it makes you realise the emotional, mental drain our news has on us.

That said, I will make some post to just catch up on events.

Saville Report and Inquiry….

16 Jun

My opinion of the Bloody Sunday and the Saville Report remains the same after the inquiry as before. The inquiry should not have taken place,  its finding considered partisan, and the inquiry will lead to further demands.

The inquiry should not have taken place

In 1992 Prime Minister John Major said in a letter to John Hume (leader of the SDLP)

“The Government made clear in 1974 that those who were killed on ‘Bloody Sunday’ should be regarded as innocent of any allegation that they were shot whilst handling firearms or explosives. I hope that the families of those who died will accept that assurance.”

The Saville inquiry came to the same conclusion only it took them 12 years and £195 million costs to spread it over 5000 pages.

The need was to move on with the political process, acknowledging the past, moving onwards towards a peaceful future (if the Good Friday agreement was truly supposed to draw a line under Northern Ireland’s violent sectarian history). Instead we have had 12 years of anguish for some, a re-opening of injustice for many others.

The inquiry and its findings considered partisan

The findings would never satisfy everyone, and has opened as many wounds as healed. A victim of IRA terrorism has said there is a ‘hierarchy of victims’. Those killed by terrorism never had a £200 million investigation into the unlawful killing of their loved ones.

Some claim the State and government are rightly accountable for actions carried out in its name (actions of terrorist are beyond their control). If the government has a duty to see justice done, it’s to give justice and closure to all victims.

The inquiry will only lead to further demands

The Prime Minister has said the report should help communities

‘come together to acknowledge our shared history, even where it divides us. That is not to say that we must ever forget or dismiss that past. But we must also move on.’

I am not sure David Cameron is correct. The findings are being used by nationalist to accuse the British Army on Bloody Sunday as being the catalyst of Northern Ireland sectarian terrorism.

We will likely see attempts at prosecutions now, and attempts at revisionism of the cause of Northern Ireland’s recent violent history.

Emily Davison 1872-1913 “Deeds not words”

4 Jun

The brave Suffragette Emily Davison was trampled by King George V’s horse Anmer, 4th June 1913 at the Epsom Derby (Emily died from her injuries 4 days later).

Emily had been a militant campaigner for the suffragette movement. Emily was able to promote the movement by resistance and publicity stunts. In 1911 she hid in Westminster Palace overnight so she could fill her census form as, place of residence “House of Commons”. Emily chained herself to buildings, heckled the Prime Minister and threw stones at Government coaches.

Emily had been jailed a number of times. Whilst in Strangeways Prison – Manchester, she went on hunger strike causing the prison forced feed her. Emily on release managed to win compensation, through the courts for the Prisons and Wardens actions.

Emily’s grave stone reads, “Deeds not words” – something we need to be reminded of, we tend to be spectators of life as events unfold around us.

An interesting fact is that Herbet Jones, who was the Jockey riding Anmer at the Epson Race committed suicide in 1951. He was said to have been haunted by the Epsom incident his entire life.

Keep Eng… Britain Tidy

3 Jun

Keep britain tidy

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with Keep Britain Tidy. Love because, well how can you object to the principle of keeping litter off the streets and open spaces of England. Hate because of its name, an organisation that operates only in England called Keep Britain tidy goes against every ‘bat sense’ I have.

Keep Britain Tidy announced a campaign with the start of the 2010 World Cup. This follows a poll that found “people think England is the ‘dirtiest’ country taking part in the tournament”. How nice !

It is hard to harbour much ill feeling towards an organisation that comes up with campaigns like ‘We don’t need Messi, C’mon England, Let’s keep it tidy!’ or to argue against their aims when  litter “costs £780million every year to pick up each year… more than it cost to build the new Wembley Stadium!” however….

The latest campaign uses the flag of St.George as well as the encouragement of “‘Have some pride, C’mon England, Let’s keep it tidy!’” I know the organisation has pride in England, hence why it does not wish our streets to be litter strewn. I wish they would go a step further and show that pride in their name, become ‘Keep England Tidy’ (I would love them much more).

I can understand some  have a nostalgic reason in keeping the name (created in 1955). The organisation has however changed its name on a few occasions. In 2001 they became ENCAMS (Environmental Campaigns). In 2005 they changed again when they started to work only in England with ‘Keep Scotland Beautiful’, ‘Keep Wales Tidy’ and ‘TIDY Northern Ireland’ falling under the devolved nations responsibility.

In June 2009 they changed their name yet again, the perfect chance for a new Keep England Tidy – Alas they instead chose to revert back to ‘Keep Britain Tidy’ (for an organisation operating only in England). This is where my love for them turned bitter-sweet.

So in Scotland they chose ‘Keep Scotland Beautiful’, in Wales they chose ‘Keep Wales Tidy’, in Northern Ireland they chose ‘TIDY Northern Ireland’ in England they chose ‘keep Britain tidy’…….. which is my biggest pet hate – Britain is NOT England, England is NOT Britain. So I am afraid my love hate relationship with Keep Britain Tidy continues.

England, a sense of Englishness

2 Jun

English ethnic and civic nationalism is growing in England,  however an enemy is hampering their progress, and taking the ground from under them. The enemy ? Each other.

When there is a fight with political parties, when policy gets forged, the public engaged, positions decided there is an absence of English Nationalist ( they are off-screen pulling each others hair). When the press pack melt away, their stories ready to print, the English nationalist are not part of it, our story to the public remains untold.

The reason is both groups have their own ideas and policies, some the same others very divergent. For us to get our message out we need to put aside the differences, and work on the common ground. There are too few of us to have more than one strong camp.

How do we get what we want ? Well how about we look first to our borders at the Welsh immigration experience.

In the mid 1700’s Wales was relatively poor, its population low, its future bleak. However money from the British Empire was finding its way to Wales, the start of the industrial revolution in Britain started to bring opportunities. This led to a need for a new work force

“Such was the rate of growth at this time that South Wales absorbed immigrants at a faster rate than any where in the world except the United States of America. Up until the 1890s, many of the people who moved into the Coalfield were from other counties in Wales… After the 1890s, many more immigrants came from England, particularly from Somerset, Gloucestershire and Cornwall. People also came from further afield, such as Ireland, Scotland and even Australia….Two statistics tell the story: in 1801 the population of Glamorgan was 70,879 – in 1901 it was 1,130,668. In 1851, the population of the Rhondda was 1,998 – in 1911 it was 152,781”

There was at first a lot of friction, integration did not happen. The immigrant populations brought their own religions, customs, traditions and institutions in Paul O’Leary’s book he says

“there was little evidence of Celtic solidarity and the Irish often met with violent hostility from the Welsh. Nevertheless, by the late 19th century the tortuous process of integration was well under way…. criminality and drink… the establishment of community institutions ranging from Catholic churches and schools to pubs and bookshops, from friendly societies to political organizations; the mobilization of support for Irish nationalist organizations”

The Welsh culture and sense of nation is as much a melting pot of ideas and people (from the United Kingdom and parts of Europe) as England today. The people of Wales however have a strong sense of being Welsh, of history and tradition even though many will have very little Welsh ancestry. The success in integrating people into your society is time, and a sense of what your nation is. You can forge a sense of nationhood, it however needs a framework in place to guide the communities and people.

This imagined community of a country is a construct. Even in a small nation like Wales most people never know, meet, or even hear of most of their fellow countrymen. Any concept of national identity is not innate and unchanging, but fragile, contested, and constructed over time… In the decade before the First World War, the rate of immigration into Wales was second only to that of the USA…. Any recognisably separate identity to that of England would have disappeared into the footnotes of history. Over a period of four generations, from the late 18th to the early 20th Century, these immigrants were thoroughly absorbed, creating a melting pot that gave birth to a unique culture. A culture which defines “Welshness” far more keenly than any bardic ceremony.”

England is undergoing population and cultural change unprecedented in our recent history. A sense and culture of Englishness can and will ultimately emerge. We need the institutions of England willing to take their place and help engage and promote this culture. If your own government and institutions do not promote (or actively derail) a sense of nationhood, then there will be conflict and disharmony. The constituent parts of communities fight to stake their own claims, this then becomes a fragmented divisive nation.

Wales once a nation with little future and sense of self, emerged with a keen sense of culture and nationhood. Built on the back of (not held back by) immigration. We now have Welsh descendants of those from other parts of the UK, considering their ancestral nations and people as foreign.

Some Welsh people who would say, actually, that the immigration population is 50% because there are all these English people that have come here who are undermining our communities and pinching our housing and so on…. Cymuned, the pressure group that campaigns for the Welsh-speaking heartlands, welcomed Mr Wolfendale’s comments. “We welcome the fact that the DCC realises that moving so many people from England to Wales does have an impact and that it should beconsidered by the [British] Home Secretary Charles Clarke as part of the government’s immigration policy,” says Aran Jones, chief executive of Cymuned. “The Welsh Assembly needs to act to ensure that people living in Wales learn Welsh or at least have the courtesy to try and understand that we have our language and culture.”Mr Wolfendale says that much of the increase is due to the fact that thepolice are actively encouraging people to come forward and report hate crime of all types, not just race crime.”

English nationalist can create this sense of nationhood in England,  there are specific policies that we can agree on. We need to start this policy of integration into a shared inclusive Englishness and nation hood. The beginning of our journey can be on the same path, we do not have to choose the fork in the road until we safely get there.

St.George flag ban reality

30 May

England Flag, St.George

The reported England flag ban (St.George flag) and banning England shirts has seen a lot of internet rage lately.

The anger started when the Sun reported police guidance issued to pubs in Croydon suggesting a dress code (preventing football shirts being worn). The Police denied suggestions they were trying to ban England shirts. However when the authority responsible for your livelihood issues guidance on your conduct, or business they have more gravitas than mere ‘suggestions’.

None of this bothered me. A paper prints a story, people get outraged, the story denied, more outrage at the reporters and then the next step ensues. The denials such thing exists. The sanctimonious start pointing at those who believed such bans possible. Believers in these stories are labelled stupid and gullible (whilst also conceding such bans have happened in the past).

“These days you’re never more than a couple of clicks away from debunkers quick to squash these kinds of stories, though it’s worth pointing out that debunking a myth that people find believable and which fits to their prejudices can, surprisingly, make people believe the myth all the more. And while it’s (partly) true that England shirts have been ‘banned’ in the past.

You would expect those not taken in by the outrage of the original stories to be above the ignorance or pettiness, they are more ‘tolerant’ and ‘intelligent’…..

“You know, once it might have been intellectual shits and giggles to laugh at these cretins from the sidelines. But now, when groups like this can canvas this much interest, it’s time to worry. Something has to be done about the festering ignorance and prejudice of these morons, I’m so sick of all this. “

“Some of my facebook friends joined one of these groups. I put them straight and then de-friended them.”

I am guessing they were not really friends then, or you are just as odious and intolerant as those you ‘de-friend’.

“I’m always amused by how the people who shout loudest about being proud of being English are generally the the people who are least able to spell English words correctly. “If there affended they shood go back to there own country” etc.

If people had actually looked at the facebook pages linked to the very story they read and commented on. They would see mainly young children and teenagers. Their writing skills not developed, their spelling and grammar poor (even more so than normal when typing on a computer or phone, for a quick facebook comment).

Many will be like me. Received at best an average (if not damned right awful) education. We were never destined for an academic life, taught the basics, patted on the backs and told good luck. So yes a lot of people have poor spelling and grammar, many since leaving school will never have picked up a pen (short of filling out a form or two once a year).

The ‘intelligent’, liberal posters are quick to attack people for believing an untrue story as stupid, racists and uneducated. The same people who a generation ago would mock uneducated mill workers, farmers, tin and coal miners. People unable to read or write, having to sign their names with a X. How dare these people have a view (no matter whether right or wrong), look at how they express their thoughts – uneducated plebs.


“the flip side of this kind of thing is that it also brings out the nasty snobby side of lot of supposedly liberal people – check out the comments on the Liberal Conspiracy post on this topic, where there’s no shortage of people claiming anyone who wears an England shirt is an inbred idiotic racist.”

Here is the important part few liberals in their eagerness to shove their own bigotry down to print explore.

“The question here is not so much the particular incident sparking this internet outrage, but why people were so eager to believe it. Is it really beyond the realms of possibility that England memorabilia could be banned from venues ?”

We have seen these type of stories for over a decade. The papers are tapping into feelings of resentment that already exists. If any other group religious or ethnic felt so wronged or persecuted (whether rightly or wrongly), there would have been action. The English however have no such protectors or guardians in political or charity organisations. There have been many situations where the English have felt under some sort of concerted threat from politically correct organisations or political parties. We are to be subdued, not supported.

A simple sentence, act, piece of legislation could solve some of this. Instead time again we get…..

was not raised due to a “logistical operational matter “ “Health and safety won’t allow us to do it, unless we scaffold the building.
“That costs thousands of pounds and I’m sure the taxpayers of Colchester wouldn’t want us to spend that to put a flag up.”

One assumes that they have never heard of a steeple-jack or a cherry picker (presumably some of whom/which the council use and own).

“In 2008 St George’s Day parades were banned by local authorities in Bradford and Sandwell in the West Midlands on the grounds they could cause trouble or were ‘unhealthy’ and ‘tribal’.”

“A spokeswoman for Land Rover in the West Midlands said: “We asked them to take them down because we are a diverse firm and to allow England flags to be displayed would have meant allowing flags of other competing nations to be put up as well.”

“Anne Owers has banned the flag of England from prisons because muslim prisoners might feel threatened by the guards wearing pins of the St. Georges Cross, which is the Flag of England, as the flag was used during the Crusades. As we all know, muslims did not fare well during the crusades. The pins were sold as a fundraiser for a cancer charity.”

When the Church of England again feel they can fly the St.George. When Council buildings in England actually fly the St.George like their counterparts in Wales, and Scotland fly their national flags. When companies and organisations actually recognise that they work, operate, and make profits in England (from the English). Having a St.George displayed occasionally is not going to harm or bankrupt you.

When I start to see these things I will know that we are heading in the right direction. Because there is something distinctively wrong in England. It is bubbling below the surface of English society, the underlying cause of these feelings needs to be found and addressed before it to late.