Wednesday, November 24, 2010
British Army Reserve recruits 'racially abused'
POLICE fear Midland Territorial Army recruits who claim they have been racially abused while wearing their uniforms are victims of hate crimes. The cadets say they have been verbally abused and spat at while walking to training sessions near Blues’ St Andrews stadium in Bordesley, Birmingham.
One recruit has reported that driver slowed down his car, wound down his window and shouted: “I hope you get blown up by an IED. Another says he was chased by a group of Asian [Pakistani] youths who screamed insults and spat at him.
West Midlands Police said they are investigating the allegations. A spokesman said: “The incidents in question have been recorded as racially motivated section four public order offences. “Officers are actively pursuing the case and following a number of lines of enquiry.”
He added that the alleged attacks are being treated as hate crimes because of the racially motivated element. Cops are hunting the abusive motorist after a cadet noted down his registration plate details.
It is not the first time uniformed forces personnel have suffered abuse while in public. In 2008 bosses at RAF Wittering ordered airmen not to wear their military dress when visiting the nearby town of Peterborough because they were being verbally abused by civilians. The ban caused outrage with the then Prime Minister Gordon Brown saying he was “furious”. It was later overturned following the public outcry.
Territorial Army bosses have refused to confirm whether they will ban Midland cadets from wearing their uniforms while walking to training sessions in Birmingham. Last night a spokesman said: “I am not willing to discuss our security arrangements on an individual basis. “We take the safety and security of all our personal very seriously. “We do not demand that cadets where their uniform in public, they are civilians until they walk through the gate.
“I think it is fair to say these were isolated incidents. “On the whole we have a very good relationship with the local population who have always shown us fantastic support.”
The allegations of abuse in Birmingham come as Territorial Army members continue sacrifice their lives fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Sapper William Blanchard is one of the latest victims of the conflict. The 39 year-old academic was helping to clear roadside bombs left by the Taliban two months into his tour of duty with the 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment when he was gunned down by a sniper.
He held a double honours degree in chemistry and a master’s degree in biomedical pharmacology and leaves behind widow Suzanne, son Tom and daughter Lucy. Hundreds of mourners are expected to turn out for his funeral at Portsmouth Cathedral tomorrow.
I'm no supporter of this war, but I despair at the BBC's denigration of Britain's troops
On Monday evening, BBC1 broadcast a shocking hour-long drama called Accused by the writer Jimmy McGovern. It depicted the British Army in Afghanistan as a brutish, corrupt and dysfunctional institution.
The programme has provoked more than 200 complaints from the public. It has also attracted the wrath of various senior military figures, including the former Chief of Staff, General Lord Dannatt, who is so outraged that he has called into question the BBC’s role as a public service broadcaster.
Last week the head of the Army, Sir Peter Wall, begged to no avail that the film be dropped. Lord Dannatt says the programme suggests that the Army in Afghanistan is rife with bullying, that alcohol is consumed by soldiers fighting on the front-line, that there is no chain of command to enforce justice, and that cover-ups are normal. This is undoubtedly the picture the drama portrays.
For those who did not see Accused, let me summarise the story. It concerns two working-class friends, Frankie and Peter, who join the Army after a brush with the law. They are spared a custodial sentence so that they can fight in Afghanistan, only one of many implausible plot twists.
Peter, though naturally brave, is too frightened to fight. He is picked on by a psychotic corporal, who describes him as a ‘faggot’ and calls him a ‘bitch’, throws buckets of excrement at him, and makes his life so miserable that the poor man is finally driven to killing himself. Frankie is reluctantly drawn into the bullying of his friend.
Corporal Buckley effortlessly convinces the authorities that Peter was killed in battle, and his body is returned to Britain along with the myth that he died as a hero. Eventually a distraught Frankie ‘grasses’ on the mad Corporal, only to find his complaints are unheeded. He decides to kill him, and the drama ends with his being sent down for 25 years.
There is no mercy in this Army. No officer ever appears to enforce justice. The men are cowed by the psychotic corporal, and a crooked sergeant is complicit. There is not a single redeeming feature to Army life. Peter’s father, a former soldier, remembers the Army as a brutal and lawless organisation. That is how it is.
Let me say that my greatest criticisms are not directed at Jimmy McGovern. He is an able Left-wing playwright, naturally much overpraised in fashionable circles, who has a political agenda. He evidently dislikes the Army and abhors our involvement in Afghanistan. On the latter point I happen to agree with him.
My quarrel is not so much with him as with the BBC for broadcasting a drama representing fictional soldiers in the most heinous light at the very time that real soldiers are risking their lives in Afghanistan — and when, according to the commander in Helmand province yesterday, they should be bracing themselves for more carnage. The make-believe soldiers are either nasty or too weak to stand up to injustice, with the exception of Frankie. Afghans are treated as sub-humans.
I do not doubt, of course, that bullying goes on in the Army, possibly on a widespread scale. For example, the deaths of four soldiers at Deepcut Barracks suggest there is a problem. But Mr McGovern’s account of a uniformly nasty Army, in which there is not a single decent person in authority, is extreme to the point of lunacy. And the timing is deeply cruel. If I had a son, brother, husband, father or any other relative fighting in Afghanistan, I think I might weep over this film. If I were fighting there, I might despair, so great is the travesty of the truth that Accused presents.
However futile and misguided the cause — as I happen to believe it is — our servicemen in Afghanistan are risking their lives for their country.
It seems to me, from what I have seen of the Army, that soldiers on the front-line generally look after one another. Exposure to danger brings out selfless and honourable qualities, which are absent in this bleak and cynical drama.
Should we care? It is, after all, only fiction. But stories are powerful instruments on the human mind, which is no doubt why Mr McGovern writes them. Accused offers an account of what is going on in Afghanistan and, for all its intermittent plot absurdities, it asks to be taken seriously as the truth.
Interviewed on the Today programme yesterday morning, Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, took refuge in the silly defence that it was only ‘fiction’. How Mr McGovern must have chuckled. Her argument might conceivably have been justified were she talking about a film set at some distant or imaginary time.
But Mr McGovern chose deliberately to stage his drama now, in Afghanistan, where real British soldiers are risking their lives, because he is a political writer making a political point.
If it were only make-believe, as Jana Bennett ludicrously suggested, there would have been no need at the end of the programme for the BBC to advertise its Helpline for people who were upset by the issues raised by the drama. It was potentially disturbing precisely because it purported to be rooted in reality.
Which explains why, after the programme had finished, some people Tweeted their shock or surprise that the Army in Afghanistan could be behaving in this way. They may be naive and credulous, but so are those who write letters to characters in The Archers. Even bad art seeks to convince the most sophisticated that it is true.
I don’t believe Ms Bennett is a wicked woman. She is a characteristic specimen of the cosseted, woolly-thinking, metropolitan types running the BBC who have no notion of what it is to risk one’s life as a soldier, and no understanding and little concern for those who are doing so. It appears not to have occurred to her that families of soldiers, or servicemen themselves, might be distressed by the drama — or, if it did, she doesn’t care.
But the sheer, callous irresponsibility of the BBC does take one’s breath away. And also its double standards.
It is fashionable in Leftist or liberal circles to oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and so any drama that depicts those conflicts in a discreditable light can find itself on television even while our troops are still risking their lives
By contrast, when the supposedly Right-wing playwright Ian Curteis wrote a play about the Falklands War, which portrayed the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, in a favourable light, the BBC refused to broadcast it for 20 years even though it had commissioned it. We can be certain there wouldn’t be any rush to broadcast a play favourable to our servicemen in Iraq or Afghanistan if someone were bold or imaginative enough to write one.
By the way, Accused was the second of a six-part series by Mr McGovern put out by the BBC, though thankfully the only one about the Army.
For all its faults, the BBC is a great national institution. Shame on it for providing a platform for the undermining of another great national institution, for colluding in a lie about it, and for depicting our soldiers as beasts or weaklings when they deserve our support and respect.
What world does this guy live in?
The Australian writer of Greek origin below argues that multiculturaliam has been "suffocated" though some vaguely defined lack of support. Since any criticism of multiculturalism was long branded as "racist", it seems to me that the exact opposite actually took place: Multicultuaralism received an oppressively large (and hence probably counterproductive) amount of support.
As with so many of these discussions, however, he appears blinded by the conventional Leftist assumption that all men are equal and that all groups are therefore equal too. The fact is that both people and groups are different, not equal (except perhaps in some religious sense). So it is not multiculturalism in general that is the problem but rather certain cultures -- crime prone Africans and Lebanese Muslims in particular. Nobody has any problem with such manifestations of multiculturalism as Lithuanian folk dancers
His whole logical problem is overgeneralization. Because Greeks and Italians have fitted in well, he assumes that (say) Africans will too -- a totally evidence-free assumption. Has he heard of the rates of crime, welfare dependency, educational failure and mental illness among blacks in Britain, for instance?
Sitting in the Norrkoping campus of the Linkoping University, Sweden, southwest of Stockholm, I am overwhelmed with a sense of wonder that the sun has begun setting at 1 pm. It will be dark by 3.30.
Though a clear, sunny day, snow is forecast for this evening and there is a type of cold that would make most Australians shiver.
In the corridors here, one of the central topics of conversation amongst staff and students is the rise of the far right, anti-immigration party – the Sweden Democrats – that received 5.7 percent of the votes and gained 20 seats in Parliament. Their motto, “responsible immigration policies” for Sweden is, according to one of my colleagues here, a euphemism for limiting Muslim migrants.
Many Swedes are in disbelief that such a party would take hold and it is a conversation that I join in carefully. In these discussions they proudly talk of the liberal attitudes reflected across the country: yes, there are problems, they say, but we all know what happens when you start signalling one minority group.
This rise of the Swedish right reflects a trend that is occurring across Europe riding on the back of anti-immigration rhetoric: Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary and Germany. Reading the tealeaves of her own demise, German Chancellor, Angela Merkal, to announce that ‘multiculturalism has utterly failed’. This echoes former Prime Minister, John Howard’s declaration that ‘multiculturalism has gone too far’ and that the Anglo-sphere needs to be proud of it achievements.
So, is multiculturalism dead and must it be killed off before we can be proud of ‘our’ achievements?
The answer is no on both fronts, In fact, multiculturalism could be more vibrant and alive than ever, it is just that it is slowly being suffocated through neglect and, to put it bluntly, outright lies.
To understand my position, let’s begin by with what multiculturalism actually is: it simply refers to the concept that several different cultures (rather than only one) can coexist peacefully and equitably. [Many can but will they all?]
Migration studies show us that when people arrive in a country, they tend to be attracted to where other recognisable migrants are. As such, Italians coming to Sydney in the 1950s where attracted to Leichhardt and Greeks (in the 1960s) to Marrickville. As time passes, the children of migrants tend to blend into the various other cultures, including the dominant one, and move on.
This is what we have seen happen and will continue to happen. In fact, the children of most migrants want nothing more than to be part of the broader culture – something their parents support because this is exactly why they come to the new country.
Yes, there will always those who resist this, but does this mean that we throw out a policy that has served us well? That would be ridiculous. Think of it this way, there are those who refuse to accept that passive smoking creates health problems – do we abandoned our anti-smoking laws?
Multiculturalism has served us well. Australia has developed into a complex and vibrant society and we have all benefited from it: from the everyday cultural enjoyment of food, music, theatre and dance, to the economic connections that have been built, and the way we are better equipped with dealing with challenges.
So if things are so great, why am I arguing that multiculturalism is being suffocated?
Multiculturalism succeeds for various reasons including an egalitarian approach (that is, giving migrants equal rights), support from major parties and adequate funding of services for migrants. So, for multiculturalism to work, we need to invest into the people arriving as well as in those who are already here. We need to make sure that there is sufficient infrastructure, housing, education and politicians willing to stand up to misinformation.
Anti-immigration parties have emerged because many of these aspects of our society have been neglected. If we combine this with a specific globalisation agenda that focuses on competition rather than cooperation, the world appears unstable and many of us feel neglected. It is easy for this sense of instability to be blamed towards outsiders arriving.
In addition, entire industries have been left to die – such as manufacturing. This is not the fault of migration – but follows the abandoning of any real industrial policies.
Thirdly, we have major political parties that seem to be courting the anti-immigrant sentiment rather than confronting them. Recently, Tony Abbott has been using both the population debate and the refugee boats as a way to deliver an anti-immigration method – hardly surprising given most of his policies where developed under John Howard.
Julia Gillard and the ALP have failed to respond in any meaningful way: seeming to be satisfied in letting Abbott set the agenda.
Declaring multiculturalism dead will not solve any of our problems – it will simply create new ones.
In 1996, Pauline Hanson declared that ‘Asians’ would swamp us? It has not happened.
Forty years before that we were worried about communists would swamp us. Now, when someone declares their support for communist ideals they are considered ‘cute’.
Today we seem to be focussed on the entire Muslim population as potential terrorists who are not ‘fitting in’ and will soon, you guessed it, ‘swamp us’.
It has nothing to do with multiculturalism failing – and much to do with politicians taking advantage of dissatisfaction of their own policy weaknesses to focus attention elsewhere.
British State worker wins £500k in a decade of claims against her bosses...as wounded hero has to fight for just £46,000
One is a former equalities officer who has made complaints ranging from sexual harassment to victimisation. The other is a hero soldier who was shot in Iraq.
Yet while Pauline Scanlon has been awarded £500,000 during a decade of successive claims for damages, Corporal Anthony Duncan is fighting to keep hold of £46,000 he received in compensation for his injuries.
Mrs Scanlon has won four separate payouts after accusing employers of discrimination or sexual harassment. The 46-year-old, who now works for the Department for Work and Pensions, lodged her first complaint against public sector employers in 1995. Her latest payout of £450,000 followed a claim she launched in 2005 but was only agreed last week after a series of appeals.
Meanwhile, Corporal Duncan, of the Light Dragoons, is facing legal action from the Government after it appealed against a decision to increase his compensation from £9,250.
In Mrs Scanlon’s latest settlement Redcar and Cleveland Council was told to pay her £442,466.38 after she complained of sex discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal. The award includes more than £100,000 for loss of earnings, £155,000 for future loss of earnings, £87,000 pension loss, £21,000 injury to feelings and £20,000 in aggravated damages.
Mrs Scanlon, who lives in Saltburn, North Yorkshire, with her retired husband, joined the council in October 2002 as its £25,000 a year equalities officer. But she was sacked two years later for refusing to co-operate and for having a poor working relationship with colleagues. She was accused of being an equalities ‘zealot’ and ‘unhelpful’.
In one incident, Mrs Scanlon was said to have complained about a colleague’s calendar which showed Robbie Williams with his trousers round his ankles. Mrs Scanlon claimed it breached council policy relating to unwelcome sexual advances. But she claimed she was only sacked after complaining that the council had breached its own policy by appointing a human resources manager without first advertising the post.
She told a tribunal that after submitting her complaint, her bosses carried out a campaign of harassment against her. She was ‘excluded from meetings’ and her ‘efforts were undervalued’, she said. After five years and various appeals, the original decision to award her £450,000 was upheld last week.
In a statement released by her union, Unison, Mrs Scanlon accused Redcar and Cleveland council of destroying her career. ‘The council abused its power, ruined my reputation and sabotaged my attempts to find another job,’ she said.
A spokesman for the council said it was ‘surprised’ at the level of compensation for loss of earnings and believes it could set a precedent for pay-outs across local government.
The case comes as figures reveal tribunal payouts at an all-time high. The total awarded to claimants rose to £35million last year, up from £26.4million the previous year.
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, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN (Note that EYE ON BRITAIN has regular posts on the reality of socialized medicine). My Home Pages are here or here or here or 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.