Friday, November 25, 2011
British Liberal leader accuses banks of discriminating against their black customers
Must not mention the possibility that blacks are less economically competent or that recent arrivals may not have significant savings or a savings record
Nick Clegg will today accuse banks of discriminating against black and other ethnic minority customers.
In an explosive attack, the Deputy Prime Minister will point to evidence suggesting that firms owned by black people are four times more likely than those owned by whites to be turned down for loans.
Even if they they can get credit, black African, black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Pakistani-owned firms have also been subject to higher interest rates than white and Indian-run enterprises, he will say.
Mr Clegg will make the claim in a wide-ranging speech on race equality, in which he will also highlight evidence of discrimination in the criminal justice system and sport. There are no black managers in the Premier League and just two in the top four divisions, though a quarter of players are black, he will say.
And there are 400 more young black British men in prison than young black students at the elite Russell Group of universities.
But it is his suggestion of discrimination by High Street banks that will prove most controversial.
Aides insisted, however, that he was not accusing them of institutional racism, and admitted current evidence was limited and that the reasons for ethnic minority customers having less access to credit were likely to be complex.
Mr Clegg will announce that he is asking race equalities minister Andrew Stunell to examine the ‘barriers preventing black and ethnic minority groups from accessing loans’, working with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and the Government’s ethnic minority advisory group.
Giving the annual Scarman Lecture in Brixton, South London, the scene of race riots in 1981, Mr Clegg will attack Labour’s approach to race equality as ‘too narrow’. He will say: ‘They attempted to deliver equality solely through the state. The state has been used to hide the sins of the market – and the veil is now being lifted.’
Mr Clegg will say that no matter how many new laws are put on the statute book, or how much pressure is exerted on companies, what happens at home has a ‘huge influence’ on how children do.
He will say: ‘In any family, black, white, rich, poor, we need parents and relatives to support their children, helping with homework, keeping them in school.’
Mr Clegg, who will admit that he leads a party that is ‘still too male and too pale’, will say that among current business leaders, there are some ‘hugely important’ ethnic minority figures – but not enough.
‘Why is it that members of some of our ethnic communities want to start their own businesses, but their success doesn’t match their ambitions?’ he will ask. We know, for example, that 35 per cent of individuals from black African origin say they want to start a business, but only 6 per cent actually do.
‘Past evidence shows that firms owned by individuals of black African origin have been four times more likely than so-called “white firms” to be denied loans outright. And that Bangladeshi, Pakistani, black Caribbean and black African-owned businesses have been subject to higher interest rates than White and Indian-owned enterprises.
‘The reasons will be complicated: a mix of poorer education among ethnic minority groups, perhaps a lack of the right guidance, a lack of their own capital to invest. There may be an element of self-exclusion too.
‘But if we are serious about turning the UK into an island of entrepreneurs, we need to get to the bottom of this. Are our banks doing enough?
‘Britain’s banks, bailed out by the British people, have just as much responsibility as everyone else, arguably more responsibility, to help Britain build a strong and dynamic economy. Unleashing black and ethnic minority talent is their duty too.’
The research highlighted by Mr Clegg was published in the International Small Business Journal, and involved more than 3,000 British firms.
Lesley McLeod, of the British Bankers’ Association, said: ‘UK banks wish to support all our customers. We take racism very seriously and many already have diversity and inclusion policies, with trained staff in place to help. Bank mentors are already working with the Enterprise and Diversity Alliance.’
Nasty British bureaucracy again
Council workers have left a family distraught after stripping a war hero's grave bare in a row over who owns the plot. Widow Judy Collins, 72, found decorations had been removed when she turned up to pay her respects. In place of her late husband Harry's memorial was a mound of mud, she claimed. Judy, who has visited the grave every week for the last 23 years, even found the cross bearing his name had been taken away.
The council said it removed the items because its records showed the grave was ‘unpurchased'. They say they put up notices in the area saying graves at the cemetery not owned by relatives would be cleared away.
But the family of Mr Collins - who served as an army mechanic in the Second World War - insist they were never informed. And they claim his plot was paid for by the Co-operative Funeral Directors when he was buried at the cemetery on May 25, 1988.
Daughter June Collins said her mother was on one of her weekly visits to the grave when she found the items were 'bagged up' in council sacks and left in a shed. June said: 'We have been looking after the grave and putting flowers on it every week without fail for 23 years. 'My mum has been left very distressed by this. A wooden cross made by my sister Linda’s partner has been ruined.'
Miss Collins said the family met council officials and claim they were told there is no record of the grave plot being paid for. She said the authority told the family that notifications were placed on 'unpaid' graves and letters sent to families.
June, from Portsmouth, Hants, added: 'We haven’t received anything from the council and there wasn’t a notice on my dad’s grave. It could have blown off. 'The council said they have no record of mum owning the grave and have it listed as ‘common’, which means they can bury someone else on it.'
The council confirmed the plot is one of 2,756 listed as 'unpurchased' at Warblington Cemetery, near Havant, Hants, and said decorations recently started appearing on it.
A spokeswoman for Havant Borough Council said: 'Prior to removing these items, we attached a sign to the area asking for those who had been visiting to make contact with us. 'After the time had lapsed for the visitors to make contact, the decorations were carefully removed and stored in a safe place.'
Graham Lymn, head of operations for The Southern Co-operative End of Life Services, said it has offered to pay half of the cost for purchasing the plot. He said: 'We, nor the council, have been able to find records going back to 1988. It’s difficult to say what may have happened nearly 25 years ago.'
Celtic fans: You’re not singing anymore
In what country was a 17-year-old recently arrested for singing an outlawed song? Iran? China? No, it was the UK.
Imagine the scene. A dawn raid. A vanload of police officers batter down a front door. A 17-year-old boy is dragged from his home and driven away. He is charged with a crime and appears in court. His lawyers apply for bail, but the court decides his crime is too serious for that. So he is taken to a prison cell and remanded in custody.
What was his crime? Terrorism? Rape? No, this 17-year-old was imprisoned for singing a song. Where did this take place? Iran? China? Saudi Arabia? No – it was in Glasgow, Scotland, where the 17-year-old had sung songs that are now deemed by the authorities to be criminal. The youth was charged with carrying out a ‘religiously aggravated’ breach of the peace and evading arrest.
Why haven’t you heard about this case? Why aren’t civil liberties groups tweeting like mad about this affront to freedom? Because the young man in question is a football fan. Even worse, he’s a fan of one of the ‘Old Firm’ teams (Celtic and Rangers), which are renowned for their historic rivalry, and the songs he sang were football ditties that aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Draconian new laws are being pushed through the Scottish parliament to imprison fans for up to five years for singing sectarian or offensive songs at football games, or for posting offensive comments on the internet, and this 17-year-old fell foul of these proposed laws.
This is far from an isolated case. This young man is merely the latest victim of a new policy of intimidation directed at Celtic and Rangers supporters. Even before the new laws have officially been passed, there have been numerous arrests at or after football matches. Only last month, as I reported on spiked, Stephen Birrell, a Rangers fan, was jailed for eight months for expressing his hatred of Celtic fans on his Facebook page. In Scotland, sadly, what people say and write is now sufficient criteria for imprisoning them, as the centuries-old distinction between words and action is abolished.
In the absence of any criticism from civil liberties groups, it has fallen to fans themselves to take a stand against the proposed new laws. Despite being portrayed as ill-educated sectarian bigots, many Celtic fans have shown themselves to be intelligent and articulate defenders of free speech. A group called Celtic Fans Against Criminalisation has taken to the airwaves to argue against censorship and managed to mobilise 2,000 people for a public rally against the news laws in central Glasgow.
Even before the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communication Act has been passed, the singing of songs has become a key target of heavy-handed policing. The Scottish police have persuaded UEFA to announce an investigation into ‘illicit chanting’ by Celtic fans at a home game against French side Rennes. Likewise, Rangers Football Club was recently fined £35,000 and their fans banned from their next European game for singing sectarian songs during a match against PSV Eindhoven. Not to be outdone, the Scottish Premier League has launched an official investigation into the singing of offensive songs by Celtic fans at a Hibs game that took place several weeks ago. Things have now reached such ludicrous levels that last Sunday’s Scottish newspaper reports on the Inverness Caledonian Thistle v Celtic game devoted more column inches to the songs sung by Celtic fans than to the teams’ performance on the pitch.
Why is something that has always been part of the Old Firm tradition – that is, the singing of Irish republican songs by Celtic fans and anti-IRA, loyalist songs by Rangers fans – suddenly been declared a massive problem? Of course, Irish rebel songs are not to everyone’s taste, but the irony is that - as memories of the Irish conflict fade - fewer fans tend to sing them anyway. Contrary to media reports, IRA songs are no longer a massive part of Celtic fans’ repertoire.
Nonetheless, to the extent that these songs, which clash against loyalist songs amongst Rangers fans, are still sung, they have been an accepted part of Old Firm games for decades. The idea that they are offending vast swathes of rival fans is a myth that is fast becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy, as more and more public figures line up to prove their anti-sectarian credentials by denouncing ‘hateful songs’. The Celtic game against Rennes that is now subject to a UEFA enquiry was actually a peaceful, good-natured match, at which some fans sang Irish rebel songs to no doubt bewildered French football fans. It is hard to imagine how that 17-year-old arrested for allegedly singing IRA songs, which he is said to have done at this Celtic/Rennes match, was breaching the peace of anyone.
The criminalisation and demonisation of Old Firm football fans by the massed ranks of the Scottish government, police and media is a serious problem. Far from reducing ‘sectarian conflict’ in Scottish football, the new censorious laws and the accompanying police campaign have led to a dramatic increase in tensions, with fans now encouraged to spy on each other, to take offence at every comment, and to report rival fans to the police.
In a very vicious cycle, the more rival fans are coaxed and cajoled into reporting offensive incidents, then the more arrests there are, and the more the authorities can cite such increases in arrests as a justification for tough new laws and sanctions. It is an open secret that over the past six months, police have been trawling Celtic Park for the remotest hint of a republican song being sung, so that they can arrest, prosecute and convict the person singing it in order to construct a PR image of mass religious hate crimes being committed. It is no coincidence that new and seemingly shocking arrest figures were released to the media in the week before a Scottish parliament vote on the proposed new laws.
The 17-year-old was finally released from prison after a successful campaign by Celtic Fans Against Criminalisation. But it is time that others, especially those who claim to support free speech, added their voices to the opposition to these tyrannical new laws. If we sit back and allow people to be imprisoned for saying (or singing) things that the state does not like, then we won’t be able to complain when the state decides to come after us.
But would you let someone shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre?
by Sean Gabb
This is the question that every advocate of free speech has at some time been asked. It may be one of the most tired clichés of political debate. It may indeed seem one of the most tiresome. But its continued popularity, and the air of finality with which it is unfailingly produced, do indicate that it expresses a very common belief - that the free expression of ideas may result in harm to others, and should therefore be restricted. And for this reason it merits at least a brief answer. Would I, then, let someone shout “Fire” in a crowded theatre? Or, to dive the question a more personal form, would I consider myself free so to shout? I can think of two replies.
First, we consider the matter purely on its own facts - which, though not entirely satisfying, does provide a technically sufficient answer. Every time that I go into a theatre or other similar place of entertainment, I enter into a contract with the management. I am to be entertained in a certain manner. In turn, I am to pay an entrance fee and abide by the rules of the house. To say that I do not specifically promise anything, nor ever see a copy of these house rules, is no proper argument. Assent to them is so obvious and reasonable a requirement of me that, for any legal purposes, it may be taken for granted on my buying a ticket and going in and I need only ask to be shown a copy of them. One of the rules will almost certainly be that I do not cause or participate in any disturbance within the theatre liable to endanger life, property or the enjoyment of other patrons. In that no one compels my attendance there, my consent, though tacit, is purely voluntary. To be sure, I have a right to speak my mind, but not to do so in breach of my freely given word. I therefore have no right to shout “Fire” in a crowded theatre.
The second reply is the genuine one. Suppose that, for whatever reason, I conceive a strong belief that the theatre I am in is on fire Perhaps I have the most sensitive nose in the audience, and I can smell burning. Or the position of my seat gives me a unique view of the spreading flames. Or my vast experience of other theatres indicates a fire by the nature of the draught playing around my feet. Grant this, and then tell me what I am to do. Certainly, to scream “Fire” and run for the nearest exit will be to start a panic which might result in injuries or deaths. But does this mean that I should sit still, patiently waiting my own death? Or should I bet up with every appearance of calm, and alone or with a few chosen friends walk out, leaving everyone else to burn?
Of course, I do no such thing. In the first instance, I make my fears plain to the management, which must, I presume, have some plan in readiness for dealing with this kind of emergency, or at least enough sense to be able to put one together at short notice. But suppose again that I have reason to believe that the management will refuse to hear me, and may throw me out - or even knock me on the head and hide me somewhere. Quite obviously, I must then use my discretion. I must communicate my fears to the rest of the audience while causing the least possible panic. This might involve walking from aisle to aisle, clearing each one at a time. Or I might force my way onto the stage and call for an orderly evacuation. But, if the progress of the fire is so advanced as to leave no time for orderly evacuations, I may well do best simply to shout “Fire” and hope that fewer people will be crushed in the panic than burned in the fire.
These are the two replies to the question. There are, however, two further points to discuss. Firstly, it must be said that, being such an extreme instance, the question hardly ever provides a fair analogy with what happens in the normal run of controversy. In the theatre, a man hears a shouted alarm. He sees others getting up and running for the exit. He may see neither the truth nor extent of the stated danger. He has no time to investigate. He is given strongly to believe that he must act at once or possibly die. If, in a crowd, he tramples someone else to death, his is not the moral responsibility that belongs to whoever has raised the alarm, and this is who will deserve punishment should the alarm have been a false one.
In the world at large, things are commonly very different. There is almost never any comparable emergency requiring instant and unthinking action. An idea is conceived and then stated, with supporting reasons given. There is no shortage of time for it to be considered, and replies to it framed or examined. Whoever acts on it immediately, and thereby attacks life or property, must, on any liberal view of human nature, be treated as entirely responsible for his actions, and not as the blind tool of someone else’s passion. The nearest case comparable to the theatre panic is that of a mob led by a demagogue. There are, of course, circumstances in which he will be liable to punishment along with those whom he may have incited to lawlessness. But, unless we are indeed to treat people as no more than irresponsible tools - in which case, why wish them free to direct their own lives or, by their votes, those of others? - This does not make out any general case for the suppression of the written word or of the temperately spoken word.
Secondly, it may be said that the question is nearly always asked by those wanting to suppress pornography or the ideas of the fascist right. The former, if at all, leads to individual assaults, hardly ever to bloodshed on a large scale. The latter, strictly defined, mean virtually nothing in the Anglo-Saxon world, and never have done. Yet if ever ideas have caused harm to others, there are those of Karl Marx. How many lives have been snuffed out this century in the name of the proletarian struggle is a number beyond my reckoning. Sixty million? A hundred million? Who knows? One thing, however, I do know. From that class of intellectuals who most often ask the above question I have never once heard it suggested that Das Kapital might be a fit subject for banning.
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 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.