Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Mixed feelings.

Things have been a little busy round these parts for the last few days, hence my silence recently. There are three stories which I'm having trouble getting a handle.

The first is the biggie, the death of Osama Bin Laden. Like Martin Luther King Jr said, I cannot celebrate anyone's death, even someone as evil (and that isn't a word I throw around lightly) as OBL. That being said, the world is undoubtedly a better place for his departure. In the long run, I'm not sure what effect his death will have. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban lot seem so fragmented that it has probably just been like cutting off the head of a hydra, there's plenty more.

The conspiracy theorists are out in force, but I don't buy it. I've never bought the idea that the Americans were somehow complicit in 9/11, and I don't believe this is a set-up. OH has a bit of photographic detective work over at his place, and no doubt the truthers, birthists and moon landing loons will seize upon it. I reckon the reason is that once the Navy SEALS had done their thing, there probably wasn't much of his face or head left, one story I will not support is the idea of US special forces firing just one kill shot when confronted with the biggest enemy they've had since Hitler. Uh-uh, I don't think so. Even the release of the video footage that Obama and pals were supposedly watching wouldn't suffice, it would be dismissed as CGI or something, the quality of footage would be too bad to make a judgement, or too good to be genuine. I guess you just can't please everybody.

For me, the most encouraging thing has been the 'Arab Spring', irrespective of the outcomes in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, I think it shows that the population has had enough of this shit, and that will do more damage to extremism than all the coalition missiles and bullets could ever do. True change and freedom can only come from within, it cannot be imposed or gifted.

Then on to Ian Tomlinson, another case which I just can't get a grip on. I take no pleasure in the fact that a jury found PC Harwood had unlawfully killed the newspaper seller. It is reasonable to assume that if the CPS reconsider their decision not to press charges, and if the evidence in court is presented in a similar light, that a jury will return a guilty verdict in a manslaughter case.

In high profile cases involving the police, I naturally turn to Inspector Gadget, he is a man I have a great deal of respect for although I do not always agree with him. He rightly lambasts the managers in the police for their detachment from the front line and reality, their craven and self-serving target and political correctness driven style and general wrong headedness.

However he is, in my opinion, a little too quick on occasion to leap to the defence of rank and file officers who have done wrong. This is reflected on his comments regarding the Tomlinson verdict:

the man who was five times over the drink-drive limit with a diseased liver and a heart complaint who died after being pushed over by a police officer in London.

Well, he wasn't driving, so I don't see how his blood alcohol levels were relevant, unless he was acting in a disorderly fashion and in a manner which had resulted, or was likely to result, in a breach of the peace. He may well have had a diseased liver and a heart complaint. I don't see how that is relevant either. Had I, as a private citizen, pushed him to the ground, without provocation (despite Harwood's claims of fearing for his safety, it is obvious the jury did not accept that) and he had died, then I would be up on a manslaughter charge. His poor health would have been no mitigation. As a believer in the Peelian principles I hold by the phrase that the public are the police and the police are the public. The police are not seperate from us, they are part of us, and thus what is legal for me must be legal for them, and what is illegal for me must also be illegal for them.

The thing is this, these episodes, or to be more precise episodes not as severe as this, are becoming more and more common place. We hear regular stories of photographers being hassled when lawfully taking pictures, of buskers being arrested on suspicion of racism for singing an old 1970's hit record in seeming innocence, of crimes being left uninvestigated because the alleged perps belong to a minority group, kids being arrested for being in possession of an egg with intent to throw. All these actions are carried out by front line officers, some because they are instructed to do so, but by the same token also by some because that is the course of action they have chosen for themselves. It is not the Chief Supers and Borough Commanders out on the beat doing this, it is the PCs.

I despair, not because I'm anti-police, far from it, I work quite closely with the police from time to time and I understand very well that they do a bloody difficult job, under impossible management, with little thanks from above or the public, I envy them not one jot and as an organisation respect them a good deal. But there has to be an acceptance that whilst the number of officers are what still makes our police one of the model forces in the world, there are also a number who let the side down. It was ever thus.

What concerns me is a feeling of powelesness from the public when such an individual is encountered. I'm talking in generalities here, I don't know enough about Harwood as a man or as a police officer to pass any comment. Nor am I naive enough to believe that it would have prevented what happened from happening, but I do believe in cases such as these that directly elected police chiefs would provide an invaluable link between the public and their police.

Gadget would throw his hands up in alarm at this, citing the sort of people who live on 'the swamp' being allowed to elect their own police chief and the sort of person they would put in the job, but let us also remember that these same people have the opportunity to elect the people who make the laws the police enforce. Wherefore the burglary legalising MPs?

It wouldn't be a panacea, but I would submit that any police chief who ran a force/constabulary/borough where officers were off on diversity training instead of visiting burglary victims, and where officers take half an hour to assist in an event where someone is confronted with a group of knife and chainsaw toting ne'er do wells and then take away that person's means of self-defence, would find themselves out of a job PDQ.

And whilst we're on the subject of elections, I almost made my mind up for the local council ballot, I've a choice of candidates from the cast-iron Blue Labour party, LimpDims and Liebore, there's enough boxes on the paper to write 'l-i-a-r-s, a-l-l' or 'b-a-d p-e-o-p-l-e'. I can't make up my mind which, or I may draw my own box and mark it 'none of the above.'

The real decision is over the AV referendum. I was initially quite positive about the yes campaign, and attended the local meet of the yes campaign group. My ardour was cooled pretty quickly by the LimpDims and Watermelons (Greens) using it as a recruiting tool for their parties. It may surprise you to learn that I didn't see eye to eye with them. There were a couple of the 'The Queen is a Space Lizard' brigade with gently swivelling eyes and then the frustrated middle aged early retirees who found it absolutely vital that they were in charge because they knew best and needed to feel very important. I didn't go to the second meeting.

That being said, I think FPTP is grossly unfair, I'm not sure AV is much better, but I think it is a bit better. I've been turned off by the no campaign banging on about ill babies and limping kittens, but the constant high pitched whine from the LimpDims has turned me off from the yes campaign. Cameron wants me to vote no, so I'm minded to vote yes. Miliband wants me to vote yes, so I'm tempted to vote no.

Truth be told, I don't want AV. But nor do I want FPTP. I think I want FPTP less than I want AV, and I don't particularly want AV. Maybe I am naive, but perhaps if this referendum is carried, the genie will be out of the bottle. I'd like to think so, but I won't be holding my breath.

I think I'll mark my referendum ballot paper with a small 'x' in favour of yes. Small change is better than no change, I suppose.


Angry Exile said...

"In the long run, I'm not sure what effect his death will have."

My money is on none whatsoever.

By the way, the Pshopped body picture is a couple of years old. As someone somewhere else said, and I forget who and where so I can't properly attribute it, it's not so much evidence of a conspiracy and faked killing as it is of willingness to use any old photo dragged from Google image search without any explanation or credit.

Sniper said...

"Cameron wants me to vote no, so I'm minded to vote yes. Miliband wants me to vote yes, so I'm tempted to vote no."

Mandelson wants you to vote yes as well.