Tag Archives: UK

Minimum Damage

In the cold aftermath of a terror attack, it is very easy to want to round up all the Muslims and….

And there is the crunch. Send them back? Not really a viable option. There are several million Muslims in the UK most of whom are entirely blameless, many of whom were born in the UK. “Sending them back” is not any sort of solution. Nor is “rounding them up”. What would you do with millions of pretty ordinary, non-terrorists?

We were chatting about this over dinner. Rather than impossible and extreme solutions, what can the Brits actually do? And, because I run a political philosophy/legal/political science seminar most nights over dinner (my sainted Susan is owed far more than I can ever repay), how can they do it with minimal destruction of civil rights?

At this point, the security services in the UK have a list of around 23,000 people who are “at risk” of terrorism and another list of 3000 people who are suspected of terrorist activity. Inclusion on either list is, I suspect, a fairly hit and miss enterprise. There are, of course, no-fly lists as well. What might a determined government do with this sort of information?

At the outer range of what could be done, every person on the longer list could be detained, questioned and sorted. It would be a massive operation and a massive invasion of the civil rights of the people on the list. 22 dead children and 7 dead Londoners might be enough to trigger the roundup. I don’t know.

What I do know is that such an intervention could accomplish a number of useful things. First off it would likely reduce the size of the list. People wrongfully on the list would, after some fairly light questioning, be removed. It would also give the authorities the opportunity to get the fingerprints, biometric data, internet usage patterns, associates and such like of people already identified as potentially dangerous.

I suspect, after an initial vetting, most of the people on “the list” would be removed from the list and sent on their way. The people who are left would be subject to further, more detailed interrogation and, again, the majority would be deemed not to pose a threat and be sent on their way.

Now for the rest. The Katie Hopkins faction wants to see internment. I don’t. I think internment of people who are legally presumed innocent is wrong and an unacceptable violation of civil rights. But we do not have to intern people to keep an eye on them.

The security services in the UK are stretched to the breaking point. It takes 20 people to keep one guy under 24-hour surveillance.

A reasonable alternative is to seek Court orders for tracking ankle bracelets for the people identified as most likely to be actual terrorists. This might require legislation but it is minimally invasive and avoids the horrors of mass internment. (It would also, in all likelihood, be a treasure trove of useful information. Who sees who when and where.)

Between ankle bracelets and a thorough search of the suspected terrorist’s computers and mobile devices, the security services could gain a picture of what the tiny minority of terrorist Muslims in the UK actually do.

Draconian? Somewhat. Though there could easily be constructed a means for the Court Orders to be challenged by way of bringing evidence of bona fides. The orders could run for a year or two and only be renewable upon application by the Crown.

It is not a perfect system but it would address the need for Britian to protect itself at a minimum cost in terms of civil rights. Compared to internment it is a measured and reasonable response. Compared to doing nothing? The body count may not be high enough for the doing nothing option to stop making sense; but that count is likely to continue going up and as it does the demands on the UK government to “do something” will become deafening.

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The Lazy Left, Migrants and Jeremy Corbyn

gettyimages-487150944There are large patches of decent, well-meaning, people on the left whose eagerness to help anyone who might be “oppressed” is matched only by their zeal in denouncing people who question if such help may be doing more harm than good.

At the moment, there are around 800,000 migrants either in Europe or on their way. The luvvies on the left see each one of these migrants as a potential Anne Frank fleeing the evils of ISIS, Assad and assorted other nasties. Every one of the migrants is granted instant refugee status in the good hearts of the lefties because these kind souls are too lazy to even try to make distinctions.

Making distinctions is what intellectually engaged people do. There is an apparent difference between a family driven from their home a week ago and unable to register at a refugee camp and the young men who, the week before, were driving such families from their homes. But once the hunter and the hunted head off in the general direction of Germany, the lazy left transforms them into “refugees” and any attempt to sort sheep from goats is nothing but racist, fascist oppression.

Suggesting that the migrant flow might best be contained in the Middle East or that it would be a good idea to take on ISIS seriously and get rid of Assad are seen as failure of compassion. The idea that Europe might imitate Australia and turn the refugees back so as to discourage others from coming is entirely beyond the pale.

When I say “the left” above I used to be speaking of a particular sort of activist leftie who, in Canada, would usually be found at Rabble and at the more virulent anti-Israel events or suggesting the something be Occupied. The time these people saved by not thinking very hard was redeployed into adopting really hard line positions on issues of little concern to the average voter. For various reasons, mainly because the media are equally lazy and nutbars protesting pipelines or announcing that “No one is illegal.” are colourful easy stories to cover, this activist left is surprisingly influential. While it does not make policy, it can shout its agenda into the national conversation and can exercise a heckler’s veto over opinions it disagrees with.

It is no surprise at all that, as soon as the migrants started rolling into Europe, the lefties immediately embraced their cause as a test of Europe’s humanitarian resolve. This happened in Europe and here in Canada where there is a bidding war going on between Mulcair and Trudeau, along with assorted provincial premiers, as to who can promise the greatest compassion by demanding Canada take in ever more “refugees”. The fact neither of these leaders nor the provincial premiers have thought very clearly about the security, social or cultural implications of their bids shows how powerful the luvvie claque can be in Canada.

However, for the moment – and possibly excepting young Justin – the adults still run our politics. The far fringes of lefty thought, while over-represented in the media, are largely ignored in the day to day working of the Canadian Parliament. While a Mulcair government would have more than its fair share of left wingers, almost all of them would be capable – when it came to the point – of making the important distinctions necessary to tell the difference between a refugee, a migrant and an invader. And, perhaps as importantly, they would see a good reason to do so.

The lefties in the UK, having been defeated in the last General Election (which they had convinced themselves they were going to win), have decided to abandon adult supervision and elected Jeremy Corbyn as their next leader. Mr. Corbyn is out on the looney left of Labour. He likes Hamas and Hezbollah, has stated that he can see no proper role anywhere abroad for Britain’s armed forces, wants – of course – to tax the rich, renationalize the railways, is resolutely anti-nuke, deep Green and, needless to say, welcomes refugees in unlimited numbers. To say he is a radical left winger is understatement veering toward sarcasm. And he is terrifically earnest in each and every one of his beliefs.

Corbyn and the luvvies in general are predictably dogmatic because they have largely abandoned any pretence of critical thought. There are no complications in Corbyn land, no ISIS members floating over with the rest of the refugees. And, indeed, from a Corbynite perspective, even if ISIS was sending on battalions of terrorists, Corbyn says he will not bomb ISIS, he wants to talk instead.

There is a wonderfully childlike quality to Corbyn which I can’t help but admire. Unlike the last seriously left wing Leader of the Labour Party, Michael Foot, Corbyn is not an intellectual and has spent no time in and around government or the security services. He has managed to preserve his activist’s innocence of any knowledge of Palestinian terrorism, ISIS atrocities or other bad things in the world apparently by repeating the mantra – “It is America’s fault.”

You don’t have to think very hard once you have that essential key. And it allows you to preserve a touching naivete in the face of everything from migrants to the IRA.

The adults in the Labour Party are appalled. Front benchers are resigning, commentators are taking odds on how long Labour will be out of power, donors are heading to the exits; but it does not matter. For the activists, for the true believers, the election of Corbyn represents the pinnacle of the magical thinking which powers the dogmatic left. They can count on Corbyn to stick to his principles and their agenda no matter what the electoral consequences. There will be no trimming with Corbyn.

All of which will be deeply comforting for the activists because it will ensure that no hard choices, no difficult thinking, will be required of the newly pure Labour Party. Old fuddy duddies, the fiscally responsible, the war mongers who think, perhaps, ISIS might deserve a bit of bombing, the racists who fail to embrace every last migrant with open arms, people who think it important to have a productive as well as fair economy – they are all yesterday’s men. They lack the purity of purpose and the clarity of vision it takes to be a Corbynite and they will be tossed on the ash heap of history in a matter of months if not weeks.

Lazy thinking has triumphed in the Labour Party which, I suspect, means that the Labour Party, as we know it, is over. The adults will take their money, organization and abilities to make hard choices and play somewhere else. Which also means that the Conservative Party will be in government for at least one and perhaps two or three more elections.

 

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Migrants as if they matter

You can always count on the Church of England to provide a soft, squishy, Christian lite reponse to any tragedy. The Bishop of Dover has weighed in on the migrant crisis gripping Calais, England and Europe in general,

“We’ve become an increasingly harsh world, and when we become harsh with each other and forget our humanity then we end up in these standoff positions,” he said. “We need to rediscover what it is to be a human, and that every human being matters.” the guardian

Migrants are, indeed human beings and they do indeed matter. But the current situation of desperate people trying to crash into England is not humane and it is not sustainable. While his Grace would, no doubt, feel it his Christian duty to run a few trainloads through the Chunnel that would be the very worst thing to do in the circumstances.

A conversation about migration and refugees is desperately needed but it needs to begin with England regaining control of its borders and, as importantly, making itself much less attractive to illegal migrants. So long as there is a good chance of getting across the Channel to a hugely over generous welfare state and virtually no chance of being sent home once you get there, the attraction of the UK will remain.

Regaining control of the English borders may not be easy but it is essential. That may mean saying, for a period of weeks or even months, that no migrant will be admitted, period. Those who come anyway need to be taken back to where they came from if that is in the EU. Once that has been accomplished and made to stick, the revision of the eligibility for benefits needs to take place. As well, the casual labour market needs to be curbed.

With those measures in place, if the English believe they owe something to migrants they can set up an actual system. For example, a Syrian Christian is almost certainly in danger of his or her life if returned to Syria. A Syrian Muslim might be in danger as well, but not to the extent of being hunted down and killed. Making choices is important. But it cannot happen in chaos.

Carving out enclaves for Syrians and Iraqis and Libyans who have been displaced by the horrors of ISIS and its knock on effects, is not beyond the capacity of the UN or NATO. But these enclaves need to be in the nations from whence the migrants come. (And an enclave strategy could be effective in other troubled sources of migrants – simply taking over sections of the Sudan, Somalia and so on could create safe places for the poor citizens of those countries. Yes, this would smack of neo-colonialism; but it is quite clear that these are failed states and equally clear that their populations need help.)

Creating a serious migrant strategy will run up against the likes of His Grace and all manner of bleeding hearts who would just as soon solve an immediate problem with compassion when that compassion will simply create a vastly larger problem a year or two hence. Cameron no longer has to appease the awful squishes in the Liberal Democrats so he can actually undertake policy which has a hope of working.

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Fracked – II

The rising cost of imported gas has led our electricity companies to switch back to coal, which in the past two weeks has been contributing up to 40 per cent or more of our power. More than once, however, the contribution from all our 3,500 wind turbines put together has been as little as 0.2 per cent, with coal-fired power stations contributing 200 times as much. christopher booker, telegraph

As Booker points out, in the US fracking is creating a glut of gas and will soon create an equal glut of oil…In England, fracking is seen as, somehow, the work of the devil.

The poor Brits are going to rely on wind. They’re screwed.

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