Thursday, July 17, 2008

"Tension monitoring" i.e. snooping on local communities in Britain

The Hazel Blears the NuLabour former Home Office Minister who introduced so much counter productive bureaucratic red tape and form filling when she used to be in charge of Policing, Crime Reduction and Counter-terrorism, is at it again, now that she is inflicting a new Community Snooping policy onto Local Government.

She has just published a poisonous document entitled: "Guidance for local authorities on community cohesion contingency planning and tension monitoring" This seems to envisage the gathering of political intelligence on local communities, and on "individual troublemakers", not just by the Local Authorities and the Police, but by a whole host of public sector employees turned into Government spies:
37. The most effective way to do this is through establishing a multi-agency tension monitoring group, led by an officer/s from the local authority and/or the local police force. This should include key partners from the statutory sector (e.g. housing, community safety, education, fire service, health, probation/youth offending team, community workers, neighbourhood wardens and police community support officers, National Asylum Support Service), and relevant representatives from the voluntary, community and faith sectors.
The sort of data which Hazel Blears wants to collect and share :
Relevant pieces of intelligence might include:

quantitative data (e.g. police crime statistics and intelligence reports)

qualitative community intelligence from neighbourhood wardens, community workers, casework by local councillors and feedback from local community meetings and organisations

racially or religiously motivated offences or incidents

details of new arrivals, refugees and asylum seekers, and Gypsy and Traveller communities in the local area

gang and turf conflicts

neighbour disputes
Why does a dispute between two neighbours suddenly constitute "community tension", requiring reporting back to a Central Government Department ?

What is the definition of "political extremism" ? Anybody who disagrees with the Labour government ? It would be a disaster, of Northern Irish "Troubles" proportions, if the local police force were to be seen to be involved in party political or religious monitoring or discrimination, but that is exactly what they are being drawn into with this scheme. So is every Local Authority now going to waste money setting up its own "media monitoring unit" ?

This whole scheme appears to give the impression that the Labour government only appear to be willing to listen, and then to apply propaganda resources and other "community" investment, once there have been demonstrations, protests and violent incidents - peaceful lobbying and dialogue is ignored.

If you look at the sample "Tension Monitoring Form", it is obvious that such forms, or the central database of such forms, will not have enough detailed information to give a full, true picture of each "incident", but there will be sufficient details to create "guilt by association" and to stereotype a particular area unfairly, and to blacklist any individuals who might be directly or indirectly identifiable.

Note that there is no mechanism for error correction or appeal, and no sanctions against abuse of power by officials, who will be trying to use the exemptions under the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act to keep this all secret from the public.

The Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act are only cited, so as to advise how the rights of citizens might be curtailed through the use of exemptions e.g.
59. There are a number of exemptions from disclosure under the FOIA which could be applicable if a local authority wished to consider refusing disclosure. You may wish to take into account the possible damage which disclosure would do by identifying areas at risk of disturbance. If the identity of an area became known sections of the media might publicise this. This could in turn create an expectation of disorder.
Despite claiming that "personal data" should, ideally, not be collected, they neglect to mention that "personal data" includes data about a person who can easily be identified via a cross-check on another database or system.
54. As far as possible, the data provided under tension monitoring arrangements should not be 'personal data' ie it does not identify individuals and could not be used to identify individuals in conjunction with other information.
How can this possibly work in practice ? If there are "reports" of say, "inflammatory preaching" , how difficult is it going to be to associate those reports with known priests or imams at local churches or mosques?

The enemies appear to be, in part , "the media", and Hazel Blears and her minions are actually advising secrecy and coverups, and spin, rather than transparency and media and public friendly openness.

More here

The British nanny state again

Small shops are to be given some protection against competition from out-of-town supermarkets, Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, said. She added that this would help independent shops survive the credit crunch. Planning guidance is also to be changed to help prevent "clone towns" from developing with identical shop fronts. In future new shops will have to pass a "diversity" test to ensure that not all high streets look the same.

Under the new guidelines planners will be able to reject applications for large-scale, out-of-town shopping developments if they are likely to have a damaging impact on nearby high streets.

However, rural campaigners and the Conservatives have attacked the plans, saying that they could backfire, and end up damaging town centres.

The Competition Commission has been investigating the effects that powerful supermarket chains such as Tesco are having on towns. The commission found that many areas lacked proper competition between supermarkets, giving consumers a poor deal. It said the change in the planning guidance proposed by Ms Blears would be helpful and suggested a new competition test in the planning system to ensure more choice for consumers.

The Government will formally respond to the commission's recommendations, including the competition test proposal, in the next few weeks. One of Ms Blears' aides said: "Our priority is to ensure we do not see more and more stretches of the nation's high streets turned into bland 'every towns' where every high street has the same shops, the same look, and the same sterile feel. "We plan to give councils more scope to curb 'clone town Britain' and to block large out-of-town developments. We know there are currently tougher times on the high street."

The rule changes would remove the "simplistic" planning test that judged only if a need existed for an out-of-town supermarket. It will be replaced by a general-impact test that assesses the risks and benefits of new businesses on existing small shops and the town centre.

The guidance would require local authorities to promote consumer choice and retail diversity and recognise that the planning system can help to support small shops and the identity of town centres. It also keeps a "sequential test" that requires developers to seek the most central sites first.

However, the Tories and the Campaign to Protect Rural England warned that the loss of the need test could backfire and could further fuel the dramatic decline of greengrocers, butchers, bakers and fishmongers.

Graeme Willis, a CPRE campaigner against supermarkets, said: "These plans could take away the rights of local authorities to resist large supermarkets on the grounds of need. The replacement - a new impact test - could shift power from planners who could say 'no' to developers who could say 'why not?'"

The Conservatives' planning spokeswoman, Jacqui Lait, said: "These changes are being driven by Gordon Brown and will ultimately hit small retailers and worsen the problem of 'ghost town Britain'. A surge in out-of-town development will not be environmentally sustainable and will hinder urban regeneration."

Speaking at the annual convention of the Royal Town Planning Institute, Ms Blears said: "Town centres are the hearts of our communities. I want to see our town centres and independent shops busy and thriving. "I believe that the strengthened rules will guide future town centre development by giving councils the tools to attract investment, and protect and promote their high streets."

In relation to the debate over proposed "eco-towns", Ms Blears has been warned by MPs on the Communities Select Committee that it would be an "act of folly" not to spend some money on investigating the mistakes made with post-war new towns in the past.

Squeezed out by the big boys

Since it first opened its doors in 1946, residents of Withernsea, in East Riding of Yorkshire, bought most of their groceries from Proudfoot, the family-owned supermarket in the centre of town. As the "big four" supermarkets expanded their grip upon Britain's towns more and more independent shops went under but trade at Proudfoot remained brisk.

Then in 2004 Tesco came to Withernsea. Its first move was to send more than 6,000 residents vouchers offering an $16 discount for every $40 spent in the local Tesco store. Proudfoot responded with its own discounts but could not match Tesco. Sales at Proudfoot in the year following Tesco's arrival in town fell by 35 per cent.

The Proudfoot family were so outraged by what they believed was Tesco's "predatory pricing" policies that they tried to take the company to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). Ian Proudfoot, who, with his brother Mark, runs the family stores, said at the time: "It is... an attempt to squash competition and dominate the catchment area." The OFT decided that Tesco's actions were not deemed "anti-competitive".

The store struggled on for another two years before finally folding when Aldi offered to buy them out. Mark Proudfoot thought it best to concentrate on the four other Proudfoot stores they still owned across the region. Since April, their stores have been reduced to three after Tesco took over the store in Barton-Upon-Humber.


Imaginary Courage

On business trip to Europe, while sharing a drink with a co-worker in the lobby of our Vienna Hotel the conversation was disrupted by a steadily rising thump of bass notes from the street outside. A minute or two later we could hardly hear each other over the staccato techno-beat and decided to investigate. Lo and behold we emerged outside to find the Vienna's first annual "March Against Racism and Discrimination."

Parading past on the historic RingStrasse were an assortment of unshaven grubby men, and their liberally pierced and tattooed ladies, stretching back as far as the eye could see. Huge vans filled with sound equipment pumped a deafening concoction of manic dance beats interspersed with otherworldly screeches and wails.

Blazoned across the front of these traveling discotechs were signs reading; "Say No to Fascism!; No Racism/No Discrimination!; with an occasional anarchy symbol tossed in for good measure. The protesters marched, enveloped in this sonic tidal wave, filled with self-congratulation for the righteous stand that they had taken racism in Vienna.

Meanwhile back in the lobby, Middle Eastern men, comfortably attired for the summer weather in shorts and tee shirts, stood next to their wives dressed in full length, jet-black burqas. Still an unusual site in America, women in this attire are relatively commonplace in many European capitals. I'm sure these enlightened fighters of discrimination marched past several of these ladies who silently watched them through the narrow slit in their garment.

And what did they think -- if they bothered at all? Probably something about tolerance and diversity, a rainbow of cultures, etc., etc. The idea that this subjugating half the human race to cover their entire body so that their connection to the world is reduced to dimensions of a mail slot somehow didn't register as "discrimination" in their minds.

Standing up to Islam, or more precisely the strain of Islam that traffics in burqas, honor killings, and compulsory marriage of teenagers, is a messy fight. It's a fight where the opponent sometimes swings back, occasionally with deadly accuracy. No, better to combat battles like segregation and apartheid; injustices like making black musicians stay in a different hotel than their white bandleader; or disgraceful bans on inter-racial marriage.

Except -- and here's the bitter pill for all my leftist friends to swallow -- those fights have ended. Sorry you were too young at the time. I know the movies and documentaries make it all look pretty exciting, but it's over.

Of course there are groups in the world that still segregate and discriminate on the basis of gender, religion and nationality. They say things like, "Israel is a one bomb state", or "Behead those who defame the prophet!" They terrorize Jewish students at public schools in Paris, they throw deadly riots on the basis of satirical cartoons, they even go so far as to summarily execute innocent people and publicize the event on the Internet.

How's that for an enemy of tolerance? How's that for a fight worth fighting? How's that for a stand that takes some guts and moral courage? But in the end these questions are drowned out in a wall of dance music and the good feeling that comes from taking an irrelevant stand against something that virtually everyone already condemns.

In reality, what the Left defines as discrimination is largely extinct and what constitutes real discrimination today is - thanks to their morally relative worldview - is off limits to even discuss. Meanwhile, back on the sidewalks of Vienna, ladies in burqas walk obediently behind their husbands, sweating in the warm summer sun, thankful for the fact that everyone is so "tolerant" of their unique cultural heritage.


The new Jews, and how we must defend them

We hear increasingly that Muslims are "the new Jews." Muslims are not "the new Jews." In Western Europe all of the non-Muslims, both the indigenes and other non-Muslim immigrants, are "the new Jews," -- though it must also be added that for the moment it is especially Jews in Western Europe who are "the new Jews."

For the most powerful current carriers of antisemitism in Europe are Muslims. 50% of the antisemitic attacks in Western Europe have been attributed to Muslims, who make up less than 5% of the population. And of course Arabs have many times shown pro-Nazi sentiments -- from Rashid Ali in Iraq, who staged a pro-Nazi coup, to Anwar Sadat, who was jailed by the British for his pro-Nazi plotting (while Nasser's brother-in-law distinguished himself after the war by publishing an Arabic edition of Mein Kampf), to the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, who met with Hitler, expressed his enthusiasm for the Endloesung and, what's more, helped raise an S.S. brigade of Bosnian Muslims.

Muslims have been allowed to settle in every country of Western Europe, because of the ignorance, negligence, and simple-minded belief of the political and media elites that "everyone is essentially the same and wants the same thing." The people pay first for that madness; the elites will pay later on. Those Muslims do not accept the legal and political institutions of the countries to which they come, although those countries are far more advanced and better-run, in every respect, than the Muslim lands they come from -- lands whose failures, political, economic, social, moral, and intellectual, are a direct result of Islam itself. No, they come, essentially fleeing that Muslim disarray and misrule. But unlike those who fled the Nazis, or the Communists, they are not grateful. And what's more, they bring with them, undeclared, in their mental baggage, the very thing that was the main cause of the failures of their own societies, with their despotisms, and their inshallah-fatalism, and their encouragement of mistreatment of women and all non-Muslims, and everything else that makes Islam, in practice, what it is, and what we Infidels, though we may not quite understand the relationship of Islam to the behavior and attitudes of Muslims, recognize as the hideous mess that it all is.

In Great Britain, as in every other country of Western Europe, it is the Muslim immigrants alone -- not any others -- who pose a problem that is permanent, that will not go away, no matter how much tender solicitousness is shown them, no matter how much money is thrown their way, or how much bending-over-backwards to accommodate the most outrageous demands, or if not to accommodate them, at least not to treat them openly as outrageous, when everywhere those demands are made, and keep being made. They range from special hours at public pools so that men and women may not be together, or that even non-Muslim men may not contaminate a pool when Muslim men are swimming, to demands for prayer-rooms at airports, at taxi stands, in schools, at workplaces. They include demands for special treatment, that is, for Muslim workers (time off for prayers, or not being required to touch certain products, or not having to do this, or do that), and Muslim students.

They include attempts, successful in some places, to rewrite textbooks so that the history of Islam is not merely sanitized, but turned into an appealing and glorious tale, while the history of Christianity becomes one of monstrously exaggerating, and misstating, the history of the limited-in-time-and-space-and-goals Crusades. And when it comes to Jews, in ignoring or limiting the study of what has come, a bit too glibly I'm afraid, to be called "the Holocaust." Muslim students in France have refused to study this subject, just as they refuse to study the history of France itself, claiming it is of no importance to them -- mere Jahiliyya.

The point out these claims -- you can supply your own list, an ever-growing list -- is that even where the authorities sometimes come to their senses and deny those Muslim demands, the demands will never end, because Islam and non-Islam are not compatible in the Muslim view. The ideal of Shari'a flatly contradicts not only the American Constitution, but all of the major principles and achievements of advanced Western democracies, including the rights of individuals to free speech and freedom of conscience.

Look at Muslim attempts to limit any critical discussion or comments on Islam. Several translators of Salman Rushdie were attacked; at least one was killed. Theo van Gogh was killed. A member of the Dutch Parliament, Geert Wilders, and an Italian journalist, Magdi Allam, and the celebrated apostates Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Wafa Sultan, are all living with Muslim death threats, threats that require them to change their lives, and for some of them to live in permanent hiding under permanent armed guard. The entire population of Denmark was threatened with death if the government of that country did not violate the most solemn right, the right to free expression, and punish those who had drawn, and those who had published, some cartoons of Muhammad. The entire Muslim world threatened to boycott Danish goods, as they have Dutch goods because of the appearance of a fifteen-minute film made by Geert Wilders, that save for a single question that he added, consists entirely of excerpts from the Qur'an and the Hadith, with not a word changed for effect, over accompanying videos from news stories showing Muslim behavior that corresponds to, and was no doubt prompted by, those very texts -- and hundreds of others just like them.

It is disgusting for Muslims to claim to have been victimized by this film and the cartoons, when it is they who have made it their mission in the Middle East to destroy Israel, and to kill, or expel, or reduce to the status of permanent dhimmis any Jews who remain. It is they who in the countries of Western Europe have been the main carriers and promoters of anti-Semitism. It is they who also have been quick to exploit the pre-existing antisemitism to further their misrepresentation of the Jihad against Israel and Israel's attempts to merely defend itself from a malevolent, inexhaustibly vicious and cruel enemy.

There is no other an immigrant population -- not Hindus, not Chinese Christians or Confucians, not Vietnamese Buddhists, not non-Muslim (or casually syncretistic) black Africans, not Andean Indians, not Siberian Tunguz from the frozen North nor Aborigines from the sun-baked South -- that poses the same problem. It is a problem that cannot be remedied or diminished, as the immigrants who are Believers in Islam are members of the "Umma" to which, they are taught, they must owe their sole loyalty.

Some, a very few, of those who call themselves "Muslims" but merely mean by this that they are not going to openly identify themselves as apostates but reject the ideology of Islam, and have no intention of attempting now or ever to change Infidel institutions, or to be hostile to Infidels, may -- but only "may" (because we never know when awareness of that "identity" may spur an embrace, a return, to what Islam inculcates) -- not represent a threat themselves. Nonetheless, and this is unpleasant to state but true, even those who may be the "moderate" Muslims of the only kind of "moderation" that could conceivably be of value to Infidels -- that is, those who exhibit a real and deep rejection of the tenets of Islam that support Islamic supremacism, and, therefore, support mistreatment of Infidels -- can nonetheless, by their very existence, that is by swelling the ranks of those who, in democratic societies, are assigned to the category of Muslims, may by that fact increase the power of the real Muslims by helping them, those real Muslims, exaggerate their numbers and therefore their ability to make pusillanimous politicians, the kind unwilling to see Islam as the permanent threat that it is to the laws and customs of an advanced society, to art, and to science, and to individual autonomy, but all too willing to bend to the dictates of those who are perceived to vote as a bloc, promote the goals of Islam.

And if Muslims all over the countries of Western Europe are a menace to the Infidels among whom they have settled in a way that no other group of immigrants has been, and do not cease to be a menace in the second or third generations but, rather, become ever-more militant (as has been seen in Germany, in France, in Great Britain), it is also true that Muslims have for decades enjoyed great favor in official circles. See, for example, Exhibit #1 in Great Britain, which is not The Guardian nor papers like it but, rather, the BBC, especially the BBC World Service. The BBC employs a very large group of Arab and Muslim staff members, and of non-Muslims who have, for ideological reasons -- antisemitism or leftist political views, or both -- been willing collaborators in the effort to present the Muslim view of things, above all in the misrepresentation of the Jihad against Israel. This bias had its effect. And elsewhere in the British press, and radio, and television, the apologists for Islam (who ordinarily overlap with the anti-Israel brigade) have been much in evidence, as they have in other countries of Western Europe.

The failure of Israel and of its supporters to recognize this has of course contributed to the steady blackening, over the past few decades, of Israel's image. That has had consequences for Israel, obviously, but has also helped to confuse the understanding of those Infidels who have been steadily misinformed about the Arab and Muslim Jihad against Israel. This has helped it to be accepted as a "nationalist cause" by these soi-disant "Palestinians," rather than as what it not only is, but always has been and always will be: an attempt to deny a non-Muslim people a state of their own, whatever its size, and whatever its inoffensiveness or even repeated demonstrated willingness to aid the economic well-being of its neighbors, as if that would somehow overcome what even successive Israeli governments did not realize cannot be overcome in such a way, not now, and not ever.

Every single country in Western Europe, whether it be ruled by the Common Law (Great Britain) or by Civil Codes, whether it have a long tradition of enshrining easygoing Tolerance as a kind of state religion (The Netherlands, Denmark), or possibly have become so solicitous of human rights because of a keen awareness of a fascist or quasi-fascist past (Germany, Spain, even Italy), has had the same problem with its Muslim population, differing only in intensity and scale, but in nothing else. Muslims who believe in Islam do not and cannot accept the political and legal institutions of non-Muslims. It is not what Islam teaches. It is not what Muhammad, uswa hasana, al-insan al-kamil, prescribed long ago -- and what he prescribed long ago, 1350 years ago, remains valid for all time and for all places.

Surely the people of Europe, despite their governments, and despite the Esdrujula Explanation -- the timidity and stupidity and rigidity and cupidity of their ruling elites -- have to act on this now, and not later. Either they will preserve their own ways, their own superior ways, their free and skeptical inquiry, their modes of artistic expression, either they will preserve, protect, and defend all of the material and spiritual achievements of their own civilization, against those who have only contempt and even hatred for that civilization (without knowing quite why, but knowing in some cases only that, as "Muslims," they must have such contempt, must act on such hatred), that is, either they will defend the civilizational legacy that they have so far done so little to deserve, or they will not. And if they do, they are going to have to recognize that the main threat is not "qitaal" or open warfare, but the slow and steady stillicide that drop-by-drop of Muslim demands, based on an unopposed and growing Muslim presence, that works away at, eats away at the foundations of Europe....

To sum up, as has been done a hundred times before, with the exact same sentence: "The large-scale presence of Muslims in the countries of Western Europe has led to a situation, for the indigenous Infidels, that is far more unpleasant, expensive, and physically dangerous than would be the case without such a large-scale presence."

Though long, that oft-repeated sentence is meant to be lapidary. But the stone on which it is meant to be inscribed is that which should hang in public places all over Europe, or in the mental equivalent of such public places, so that something effective will at long last be done -- implacably, relentlessly.

There is another sort of stone, however, on which the same lapidary sentence might be written, and then read, in quite another spirit, a spirit of triumphalism, by not Infidels but by Muslims, at some future date. For as a famous writer once began a novel, there is "plenty of space on a gravestone, bound in moss" to "contain" -- well, to contain all sorts of things, including that would-be lapidary sentence above.

One hopes that such a sentence would not have to be placed on the tombstone of Western civilization, a civilization that could be undone by the initial indifference and ignorance and negligence of its political and media elites, and then further undone by the failure of the governments and peoples involved to do what they need to do, coute que coute, in order to defend and protect their own civilizational legacy, out of stupidity, or timidity, or cupidity, or rigidity, or some, or all, of this mnemonically-sdrujula'ed list. Numbers, "mere numbers," alas, do count. Demography turns out be a very large part of Destiny.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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