"Elf 'n safety": How years of Leftist nannying have made the once-dogged British into a nation of "bedwetters"
The rot sets in with those simpering, risk-averse TV weather forecasters and their boggle-eyed melodramatics as they predict a couple of inches (sorry, centimetres) of the white stuff. They and their radio counterparts jibber about 'snow events' and tell us to 'wrap up warm' and 'travel only if your journey is absolutely necessary'. England's response to a few snowflakes on Monday confirmed everything one had feared about our once stoical, can-do country. A snowfall, trifling by the standards of many other Western countries, brought public services to a shuddering, shivering halt.
They couldn't even claim they weren't warned - for once the Met Office's predictions were spot on. The authorities assured us they were braced and ready. They had made 'contingency plans'. Yet when the snow flurries did arrive and a tiny carpet of snow started to settle on the surface of the southern counties, officialdom and its 'throw a sickie' adherents went into near total collapse.
If it had not been quite so chilly we could have called this 'Municipal Meltdown'. The South East's transport system folded like an origami artist's calling card. Railway station superintendents never seem to be happier than when announcing cancellations. These potted Mussolinis are in their element when scrawling emergency notices on whiteboards with their loopy handwriting. How puffed up the Klaxon mob become in such situations, taking to every public address system with insincere 'apologies for any inconvenience caused'.
London's bus drivers and their Fred Kites (if you recall Peter Sellers's stroppy union convenor) were quick to put work and duty in the too-hard basket. 'Nah, mate, health and safety, innit?' they said. London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, was pathetically quick to accept their verdict. How that man can call himself a leader of men, Lord only knows. The roads were deemed too slippery and buses were suddenly being described as lethal weapons which could wipe out entire communities with one careless tweak of the steering wheel. You'd never think that London buses kept going throughout the notoriously icy winter of 1963 or during the Blitz.
Hospitals cancelled operations, courts failed to open, West End theatres went dark and councils operated on skeleton staff, in some cases before the snow had actually started. Civil servants refused to walk a few hundred yards from a Whitehall department to the House of Commons 'owing to the adverse wevver condishuns'. And yet the strikers managed to reach their picket lines at the power stations.
Those of us who did actually venture out on to the roads and railways soon found that things were not nearly as bad as the broadcasters claimed. The whole hoo-hah had been ludicrously overstated. I managed to reach London perfectly easily from Herefordshire on Monday. We were delayed by an hour - pretty much par for the course. The first real sign of trouble was at Ealing, West London, where the train stopped before gingerly making its way into a near-deserted capital. Our Great Western locomotive must have weighed many tons, yet they were fretting about three or so inches of powdery snow. Elephant meets mouse and takes fright.
As one exasperated contributor to the Daily Mail website put it yesterday (thank you, 'Gaelforce' of Inverness), we have become 'a nation of bedwetters'.
Millions of workers rang in to say they were unable to make it to work - a good proportion of them, it can safely be asserted, having not even bothered to step out of their pyjamas, let alone try to reverse the car from the garage. Was it not noticeable that those who DID make it in to work tended to be the more committed members of staff? If companies are looking to make redundancies in the coming months they could do worse than to inspect the staff attendance log for the Great Blizzard (as it wasn't) of February 2009.
Schools, rather than set pupils an example by stoically carrying on, simply ran up the white flag and closed - some of them in counties almost untouched by snow. What a message to set the next generation. The old proverb of 'try and try and try again' seems to have been replaced by 'give up at the first setback'.
A London council closed its parks, determined to safeguard its residents from terrible fates that beheld them if they walked on ungritted paths. There used to be a concept of caveat emptor but it has been replaced by a system paralysed by fear of litigation. If in doubt, say no. That is today's rule of thumb.
The private sector, somehow, managed to soldier on. Self-employed taxi drivers had a field day, miraculously piloting their vehicles over the killer ice that was keeping the buses in their depots.
Down at the Commons, MPs cancelled meetings a day ahead, determined to expect the worst rather than to improvise or press on.
Good grief, it's not exactly the spirit of Captain Scott, is it? But Robert Falcon Scott might as well have belonged to a different country. If he'd known what was going to happen to Britain, he might never have bothered to go all that way to the South Pole.
Outrage as British police station ditches Union Jack... for a homosexual rights flag
A Union Flag at a police station was replaced by a gay rights flag in a move that has triggered a fresh row over political correctness. The rainbow flag was hoisted outside Limehouse police station in East London to mark Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender history month in February. Metropolitan Police rules state that only the Union Flag and its own flag can fly from force buildings.
Sir Paul Stephenson, the new Met commissioner, angrily ordered the flag to be taken down after being told of the controversy it had caused. One officer said: 'I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw it. 'The police are playing politics again. I can understand the need to show acceptance to people of all sexualities - but the Union Jack should never be taken down.'
A Scotland Yard spokesman said the decision to display the rainbow flag for the first day of LGBT history month had been taken by the borough commander, Chief Superintendent Paul Rickett. But he added: 'The Met policy is that only two flags should be flown: the Union Flag or the Met flag. The commissioner reaffirmed that he expects all staff to adhere to this policy.
Tory MP David Jones has waded into the debate describing the gay rights flag flying outside the police station as 'political tokenism' 'It would appear someone, albeit with good intentions, decided to fly the rainbow flag over a police building in suppolice-port of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender history month.'
The spokesman went on: 'The Met is supporting LGBT history month this year through a number of events and activities aimed at encouraging victims of hate crime to report incidents to police, and to celebrate the contribution made by LGBT people in the Met.'
Earlier this week the 'gay pride' flag was flown at the North Wales headquarters of Britain's most controversial chief, Richard Brunstromto mark LGBT history. David Jones, Tory MP for Clwyd West, said: 'This is tokenism and posturing. People want to see their police force focus on fighting crime, not getting involved in political tokenism and gestures.'
Critics believe the London flag row is a legacy of Sir Ian Blair's stint as Met chief, when he was often accused of being obsessed with political correctness. At one stage he asked officers to declare whether they were homosexual - a first step to quotas for numbers of gay and lesbian officers in the Met. And officers at an exam for prospective chief superintendents were once asked how they would react if they realised a male colleague was a transvestite after seeing him dressed as a woman in a pub.
Sir Paul, keen to portray himself as a more traditional leader, has said he has no intention of being a 'celebrity' commissioner and his main focus is to fight crime and not bow to a PC agenda.
The DNA of Politics: Genes shape our beliefs, our values, and even our votes.
Some studies show the genetic contribution to political orientation to be even higher that that mentioned below. See here
James Q. Wilson
Children differ, as any parent of two or more knows. Some babies sleep through the night, others are always awake; some are calm, others are fussy; some walk at an early age, others after a long wait. Scientists have proved that genes are responsible for these early differences. But people assume that as children get older and spend more time under their parents' influence, the effect of genes declines. They are wrong.
For a century or more, we have understood that intelligence is largely inherited, though even today some mistakenly rail against the idea and say that nurture, not nature, is all. Now we know that much of our personality, too, is inherited and that many social attitudes have some degree of genetic basis, including our involvement in crime and some psychiatric illnesses. Some things do result entirely from environmental influences, such as whether you follow the Red Sox or the Yankees (though I suspect that Yankee fans have a genetic defect). But beyond routine tastes, almost everything has some genetic basis. And that includes politics.
When scholars say that a trait is "inherited," they don't mean that they can tell what role nature and nurture have played in any given individual. Rather, they mean that in a population-say, a group of adults or children-genes explain a lot of the differences among individuals.
There are two common ways of reaching this conclusion. One is to compare adopted children's traits with those of their biological parents, on the one hand, and with those of their adoptive parents, on the other. If a closer correlation exists with the biological parents' traits, then we say that the trait is to that degree inherited.
The other method is to compare identical twins' similarity, with respect to some trait, with the similarity of fraternal twins, or even of two ordinary siblings. Identical twins are genetic duplicates, while fraternal twins share only about half their genes and are no more genetically alike than ordinary siblings are. If identical twins are more alike than fraternal twins, therefore, we conclude that the trait under consideration is to some degree inherited.
Three political science professors-John Alford, Carolyn Funk, and John Hibbing-have studied political attitudes among a large number of twins in America and Australia. They measured the attitudes with something called the Wilson-Patterson Scale (I am not the Wilson after whom it was named), which asks whether a respondent agrees or disagrees with 28 words or phrases, such as "death penalty," "school prayer," "pacifism," or "gay rights." They then compared the similarity of the responses among identical twins with the similarity among fraternal twins. They found that, for all 28 taken together, the identical twins did indeed agree with each other more often than the fraternal ones did-and that genes accounted for about 40 percent of the difference between the two groups. On the other hand, the answers these people gave to the words "Democrat" or "Republican" had a very weak genetic basis. In politics, genes help us understand fundamental attitudes-that is, whether we are liberal or conservative-but do not explain what party we choose to join.
Genes also influence how frequently we vote. Voting has always puzzled scholars: How is it rational to wait in line on a cold November afternoon when there is almost no chance that your ballot will make any difference? Apparently, people who vote often feel a strong sense of civic duty or like to express themselves. But who are these people? James Fowler, Laura Baker, and Christopher Dawes studied political participation in Los Angeles by comparing voting among identical and fraternal twins. Their conclusion: among registered voters, genetic factors explain about 60 percent of the difference between those who vote and those who do not.
A few scholars, determined to hang on to the belief that environment explains everything, argue that such similarities occur because the parents of identical twins-as opposed to the parents of fraternal twins-encourage them to be as alike as possible as they grow up. This is doubtful. First, we know that many parents make bad guesses about their children's genetic connection-thinking that fraternal twins are actually identical ones, or vice versa. When we take twins' accurate genetic relationships into account, we find that identical twins whom parents wrongly thought to be fraternal are very similar, while fraternal twins wrongly thought to be identical are no more alike than ordinary siblings.
Moreover, studying identical twins reared apart by different families, even in different countries, effectively shows that their similar traits cannot be the result of similar upbringing. The University of Minnesota's Thomas Bouchard has done research on many identical twins reared apart (some in different countries) and has found that though they never knew each other or their parents, they proved remarkably alike, especially in personality-whether they were extroverted, agreeable, neurotic, or conscientious, for example.
Some critics complain that the fact that identical twins live together with their birth parents, at least for a time, ruins Bouchard's findings: during this early period, they say, parenting must influence the children's attitudes. But the average age at which the identical twins in Bouchard's study became separated from their parents was five months. It is hard to imagine parents teaching five-month-old babies much about politics or religion.
The gene-driven ideological split that Alford and his colleagues found may, in fact, be an underestimate, because men and women tend to marry people with whom they agree on big issues-assortative mating, as social scientists call it. Assortative mating means that the children of parents who agree on issues will be more likely to share whatever genes influence those beliefs. Thus, even children who are not identical twins will have a larger genetic basis for their views than if their parents married someone with whom they disagreed. Since we measure heritability by subtracting the similarity among fraternal twins from the similarity among identical ones, this difference may neglect genetic influences that already exist on fraternal twins. And if it does, it means that we are underestimating genetic influences on attitudes.
When we step back and look at American politics generally, genes may help us understand why, for countless decades, about 40 percent of all voters have supported conservative causes, about 40 percent have backed liberal ones, and the 20 percent in the middle have decided the elections. On a few occasions, the winning presidential candidate has won about 60 percent of the vote. But these days we call a 55 percent victory a "landslide." It is hard to imagine a purely environmental force that would rule out a presidential election in which one candidate got 80 percent of the vote and his rival only 20 percent. Something deeper must be going on.
All of this leaves open the question: Which genes help create which political attitudes? Right now, we don't know. To discover the links will require lengthy studies of the DNA of people with different political views. Scientists are having a hard time locating the specific genes that cause diseases; it will probably be much harder to find the complex array of genes that affects politics.
There are problems with the observed link between genes and politics. One is that it is fairly crude so far. Liberals and conservatives come in many varieties: one can be an economic liberal and a social conservative, say, favoring a large state but opposing abortion; or an economic conservative and a social liberal, favoring the free market but supporting abortion and gay rights. If we add attitudes about foreign policy to the mix, the combinations double. Most tests used in genetic studies of political views do not allow us to make these important distinctions. As a result, though we know that genes affect ideology, that knowledge is clumsy. In time, I suspect, we will learn more about these subtleties.
Further, it's important to emphasize that biology is not destiny. Genetic influences rarely operate independently of environmental factors. Take the case of serotonin. People who have little of this neurotransmitter are at risk for some psychological problems, but for many of them, no such problems occur unless they experience some personal crisis. Then the combined effect of genetic influences and disruptive experiences will trigger a deep state of depression, something that does not happen to people who either do not lack serotonin or who do lack it but encounter no crisis. Recently, in the first study to find the exact genes that affect political participation, Fowler and Dawes found two genes that help explain voting behavior. One of the genes, influencing serotonin levels, boosts turnout by 10 percent-if the person also attends church frequently. Nature and nurture interact.
The same is probably true of political ideology. When campus protests and attacks on university administrators began in the late 1960s, it was not because a biological upheaval had increased the number of radicals; it was because such people encountered events (the war in Vietnam, the struggle over civil rights) and group pressures that induced them to take strong actions. By the same token, lynchings in the South did not become common because there were suddenly more ultra-racists around. Rather, mob scenes, media frenzies, and the shock of criminal events motivated people already skeptical of civil rights to do terrible things.
Another challenge is politicized assessment of the genetic evidence. Ever since 1950, when Theodor Adorno and his colleagues published The Authoritarian Personality, scholars have studied right-wing authoritarianism but neglected its counterpart on the left. In his study of identical twins reared apart, Bouchard concludes that right-wing authoritarianism is, to a large degree, inherited-but he says nothing about the Left. This omission is puzzling, since as Bouchard was studying twins at the University of Minnesota, he was regularly attacked by left-wing students outraged by the idea that any traits might be inherited. A few students even threatened to kill him. When I pointed this out to him, he suggested, in good humor, that I was a troublemaker.
Yet if you ask who in this country has prevented people from speaking on college campuses, it is overwhelmingly leftists. If you ask who storms the streets and shatters the windows of Starbucks coffee shops to protest the World Trade Organization, it is overwhelmingly leftists. If you ask who produces campus codes that infringe on free speech, it is overwhelmingly leftists. If you ask who invaded the classroom of my late colleague Richard Herrnstein and tried to prevent him from teaching, it was overwhelmingly leftists.
A better way to determine if authoritarianism is genetic would be to ask people what the country's biggest problems are. Liberals might say the inequality of income or the danger of global warming; conservatives might indicate the tolerance of abortion or the abundance of pornography. You would then ask each group what they thought should be done to solve these problems. An authoritarian liberal might say that we should tax high incomes out of existence and close down factories that emit greenhouse gases. A conservative authoritarian might suggest that we put abortion doctors in jail and censor books and television programs. This approach would give us a true measure of authoritarianism, left and right, and we would know how many of each kind existed and something about their backgrounds. Then, if they had twins, we would be able to estimate the heritability of authoritarianism. Doing all this is a hard job, which may explain why no scholars have done it.
Genes shape, to varying degrees, almost every aspect of human behavior. The struggle by some activists to deny or downplay that fact is worrisome. The anti-gene claim is ultimately an ill-starred effort to preserve the myth that, since the environment can explain everything, political causes that attempt to alter the environment can bring about whatever their leaders desire. The truth is that though biology is not destiny, neither is it an easily changed path to utopia.
One in ten men could be victims of paternity fraud. I'm fighting for them ...not the money
There was never going to be a good time. But when the truth finally emerged, it couldn't have been at a more inopportune moment. Mark Webb was driving to work at eight in the morning when his wife Lydia rang. `I was in the fast lane of the M4 heading towards Reading,' he recalls. `I picked up the call on the hands-free and said, "Hi, what's the problem?" because Lydia wouldn't normally call so early. She said, "I've got something I need to tell you. You're not the father of Elspeth. Dave Mottram is." ' It was a shattering revelation and one that set in motion an extraordinary chain of events.
For what might have been a painful but private matter became very public when Mark took his now ex-wife and her lover to court in a bid to claim compensation for the 17 years he had spent bringing up Elspeth, believing her to be his daughter. Mark's claim failed and ten days ago the Court of Appeal refused him permission to appeal against the ruling. Since then the `paternity fraud' case has sparked a passionate debate about the rights of fathers.
In last week's Mail on Sunday, Lydia defended her actions while Mr Mottram has also had his say, claiming he did not know that Elspeth was his daughter. Yet throughout, and for all the conjecture and comment, Mark remained silent. Now, in an exclusive interview, the 47-year-old production manager for an engineering company explains why he took the controversial and much-criticised decision to try to recoup the money he had spent bringing up Elspeth. He tells how he had always believed in his marriage and how Lydia's secret and the subsequent court case have torn apart his relationship with Elspeth and another daughter, India. He also reveals that for him, at least, the battle is not over, as he intends to take his case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Clean-cut and precise, with closely shorn hair and inky-black eyes, Mark is not given to outward displays of emotion. Yet even now, seven years after that phone call, he still finds the enormity of the situation difficult to take in. `I wonder every day how anyone could keep this to themselves for 17 years,' he says. `It must eat away at you. Up until Lydia's call, I had no idea that Elspeth might not be mine. I was stunned. People say my pride's been hurt, but it's beyond pride. I suppose my dignity has been damaged more than anything else. `I'd always been proud of all our three girls and their achievements. And even though I believe in nurture, not nature, it's still hard to think that people might look on it differently - that maybe Elspeth's the girl she is because she's her "real" father's daughter. `I loved Elspeth and I still do. When you're a dad, and you do a dad's job properly, there's nothing that can shake you into feeling differently about a child.'
And he insists: `I know people have criticised me and they don't like the fact that money is involved. But it's not just about money. It's about something much bigger than that. Exactly what rights do you have as a dad? It's a very serious, complex, frightening issue. `Lord Justice Thorpe said the case raised very interesting sociological points. I don't think interesting is the right word, quite frankly. Studying Roman sewage systems is interesting, if that's what you're into. `This is not just interesting. It's something that's going to have a huge effect on people's lives over the next couple of decades. I love my children and I see what they've gone through and this could happen to another family tomorrow unless we change things.' ....
`What I thought was, I've brought up three children and it now transpires I wasn't the father of one of them. I've got to pay for these two, so should Dave Mottram now have to repay the money I've spent bringing up his child? 'I asked the CSA and they said no, that payments only start from the day you make a claim. But how could I make a claim for something I didn't know about? It seemed so unfair.'
So, in December 2004, Mark tried to sue his ex-wife for deceit. In March 2006, he added Mr Mottram's name to the claim, demanding more than 100,000 pounds in damages. Mark explains: `It's based on what would have been requested had we known Dave Mottram was the father from the outset. The lawyers worked out that it came to 100,000 plus interest.' ....
Mark now has the zeal of a convert and intends to take his case to Europe. `It is a serious debate,' he says. `At what point is a father entitled to know, for sure, that a child is his? Some statistics say that as many as one in ten men may be unaware they are not the real fathers of their children. `DNA can be used by the Government to catch a criminal and put him in prison 20 years later, but it can't be used retrospectively to make a father pay for his child.
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 readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.