Rotherham and Charlottesville

I’m with Streetwise Professor here:

The battle over the monuments is not really about the monuments. It’s not even really about the legacy of the Civil War. It is about the left’s vision of what America was, is, and will be. Here’s the most important thing to remember. The hard-core left that is the driving force behind extirpating the icons of the Confederacy does not see it, or the Old South, as an exception, a deviation from an otherwise laudable and righteous history: they see it as just one manifestation of the fundamental evil of America, evil that is writ on every page of history from 1607 on down. In this worldview, the United States has been, from even before its formal beginning, characterized by racism, sexism, and oppressive capitalism. It is not something that is basically good, but which has fallen short of achieving its lofty ideals: it is something that is fundamentally rotten, and which must be transformed by any means necessary.

There is an argument to be had regarding the future of Confederate monuments and statues, but nobody wants that. The people calling for the removal of the monuments have no idea who Lee was and are probably incapable of understanding the complexities of the Civil War. The Confederate statues are simply the latest in an ever-expanding list of political demands issued by an unelected mob which, for now, appears to have the run of the place. Rest assured, if every Confederate monument was taken down and melted into scrap this evening, the mob would be on the streets demanding something else by lunchtime Saturday.

One doesn’t have to like General Lee, the Confederacy, or slavery to realise that clamping down on this poisonous and dangerous movement ought to be a priority for ordinary Americans. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to want to, perhaps believing the mob can be appeased, or contained, or kept away from them and their families. Realistically speaking, they may be right: most people’s lives go on unaffected by the mob, and choosing to ignore it rather than risk serious escalation isn’t completely ridiculous. But they may be wrong, and when it is their door being burned down it will be too late.

One of the most shameful events in British recent history is the Rotherham child abuse scandal. What makes it doubly shameful is that it fell to the odious, far-right leader Nick Griffin to raise stink about it – which cost him a night in the cells for his efforts. Everybody else stayed silent while teenage girls were being systematically abused with the authorities covering it up. This is bad enough in itself, but if the sole voice trying to raise the alarm is a neo-Nazi, then the country has deep problems indeed. My point is that it should never have been left to Nick Griffin to bring the plight of the Rotherham teenagers to public attention, ordinary people should have been doing that and they didn’t.

So lets go back to Charlottesville. Why did it fall to a bunch of neo-Nazis to defend the Confederate monuments from a mob bent on destroying American society? Where was everyone else? Sure, I know their motivations for protecting the statue were far from pure, and pretty damned disgusting. But that’s what everyone said about Nick Griffin: he’s only highlighting teenage girls being gang-raped because of the race of the perpetrators. Sorry, but so what? We should ignore the outrage because the one person trying to do something about it has impure motives? As far as cop-outs go, that’s a Saturn V.

Perhaps those who elected Donald Trump thought they’d done their bit in November to stop the systematic destruction of America’s history and institutions and didn’t need to do any more. Hopefully after Charlottesville they’ll now understand what is at stake and not leave the defence of what underpins their society to a gaggle of neo-Nazis chanting racist slogans. If they can’t or won’t, or start mincing their words in order to maintain their social status with those who hate them as Mitt Romney and others did yesterday, we should conclude it doesn’t mean that much to them. If that’s the case, then the mob will deserve their victory.


Trump, Trannies, and the Military

From the BBC:

The White House has not yet decided how it will implement the president’s ban on transgender people serving in the US military.

What’s to decide? Here’s the background, buried way down in the article:

The decision to allow transgender people to serve openly in the military was made by the Obama administration last year, with a one-year review period allowed for its implementation.

The policy included a provision for the military to provide medical help for service members wanting to change gender.

As with so much else, Obama signed off on a highly controversial policy very late in his tenure, ensuring his disciples continued their Messiah-like worship but leaving the trouble of implementation to his successor. Of course, this was likely the whole point: if Trump won, which he did, it would sit there like a landmine – which has now gone off. Presumably White House will implement its latest policy by winding things back to, ooh, mid-2016.

As is expected, the media is presenting this as if transgender folk have been happily serving in the US military for decades and Trump came along and banned them for political reasons:

Why now? With the Trump administration being buffeted by the Jeff Sessions political death watch, the ongoing multi-prong investigation into the Trump campaign, the healthcare drama in the Senate and the impending Russian sanctions bill, perhaps the administration decided this was a good time to change the subject and rally conservative forces to his side.

Really? Or perhaps Trump is telling the truth when he says:

Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.

It is a sign of how out of touch the media has become that they believe most Americans think transgenders serving in the military is a not only a good thing, but a fundamental right. It’s quite amazing how rescinding a provisional law brought in 9 months ago can be presented as an attack on American values, but this is what happens when people live in bubbles.

One figure being widely circulated is that there are 15,000 transgenders currently serving in the military. Given transgenders make up less than 1% of the population and the law allowing them to serve came in less than a year ago, this is impressive recruiting. Or maybe there was an entire division of transgenders just waiting for the law to change so they could sign up? Or perhaps the figure is utter bollocks.

Mr Trump said his decision was based on consultation with his generals, but there has been a mixed reaction.

Former Defence Secretary Ash Carter, who lifted the ban last year under President Obama, said: “To choose service members on other grounds than military qualifications is social policy and has no place in our military.”

Quite right.

Several British military generals also condemned Mr Trump’s decision, including the commander of the UK Maritime Forces, Rear Admiral Alex Burton, who said “I am so glad we are not going this way.”

British? In other words, the BBC couldn’t find any American “generals” to support their claim that the reaction was “mixed”, so they had to find some Brits. I’m sorry, but a British Rear Admiral criticising US military policy is a bit like the assistant coach of Pennar Robins football club saying he doesn’t like the tactics of Jose Mourinho. Nevertheless, the BBC devotes an entire article to their witterings:

Commanders from British armed forces have opposed any ban on transgender people serving in the military.

Rear Admiral Burton of the Royal Navy tweeted: “As a Royal Navy LGBT champion and senior warfighter I am so glad we are not going this way.”

With the possibly exception of the Royal Marines and Trident, the Royal Navy has been an utter irrelevance since the Iranians demonstrated its impotence by capturing and humiliating its sailors in 2007. From what I can tell, It exists in its current form mainly as a social welfare program, as is the case with most European militaries. Naval commanders tweeting like a teenage girl doesn’t do much to change my mind on this. And what is an LGBT champion?

[I]n June, Defence Secretary James Mattis agreed to a six-month delay in the recruitment of transgender people.

So who is the better placed to make a judgement on this? James Mattis or some arse-licking British Rear Admiral?

Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Jonathan Woodcock tweeted: “So proud of our transgender personnel. They bring diversity to our Royal Navy and I will always support their desire to serve their country.

Ooh, somebody’s got with the program, hasn’t he? Embracing the notion that “diversity” is a noble end in itself, to which all else must be sacrificed, is but one requirement of arse-licking your way to the senior ranks of the Royal Navy.

“I suspect many who doubt the abilities of our diverse service personnel might be more reluctant to serve than they are to comment.”

Never mind the trannies , I’m more doubtful of the abilities of the senior command!

In February, the Army’s LGBT champion, Lieutenant General Patrick Sanders said: “Only if individuals are free to be themselves can we release the genie of their potential.”

Another LGBT champion? Soon we’ll have more of these than we will main battle tanks! And don’t militaries rely on conformity and unit cohesion, not free individuals “being themselves”? Obviously not the modern military, which is – as I said – basically a social welfare program.

The Ministry of Defence told the BBC that President Trump’s tweets were “an American issue”.

Yet senior commanders are free to criticise his military policies via Twitter in their professional capacity? You need to get a grip of your people, mate.

A spokesman added: “We are clear that all LGBT members of our armed forces play a vital role in keeping our nation safe. We will continue to welcome people from a diverse range of backgrounds, including transgender personnel.”

Which is only possible because the Americans you pompously condemn have ensured you will never have to actually fight.

I’m not normally a fan of defence cuts, but I must say, I’m warming to them rapidly.


Wiltshire Police Dig In

Yesterday I said the British police had hit rock bottom and started to drill. Last night they shipped in some dynamite:

The Wiltshire Police sound like the NKVD without the charm and humour. And at least the Chekists had a few poets languishing in their cells who could have helped them write a decent tweet: the above reads like it was written by someone whose entire literary consumption consists of warning signs.

Wiltshire police wrote the tweet in response to the kicking they were getting on social media from their earlier stupidity, which by last night was circulating stateside. Rather than give someone a bollocking for tweeting shite and engaging in self-reflection, the police did what they always do: lash out in petulant fashion with threats. Having gotten quite used to bossing the population around on the street, tasering and arresting anyone who doesn’t immediately show deference to their authoritah, they thought they could do the same thing online. As they’re going to find out when America wakes up, they can’t.

Several people have pointed out that the Wiltshire police are making threats outwith their powers: they have no authority to ban people from posting offensive material, unless they’re referring to blocking them from their Twitter feed. The only thing that surprises me is that this surprises anyone. The police have become so used to making up the law as they go along, often deliberately misinforming citizens as to what the law is in order to get their way (particularly with regard to photographing things, and especially when the police are called in support of some jobsworth in a hi-viz vest), that they probably no longer know what the law is. The police don’t care either: their modus operandi is to make an arrest and subject the person to a lengthy, expensive, and damaging process in order to clear their name. If and when he does, he will be out of pocket but the policemen involved will get off without so much as a reprimand. The process is the punishment, the police know it, and they abuse it.

Personally, I think if it is proved that a policeman deliberately misled a member of the public into thinking he has broken the law when he hasn’t, the PC concerned should be given a written and final warning. If it happens again, he’s booted out and banned from policing for life. Otherwise we might as well replace our current lot with cheaper police from Nigeria.

If you talk to policemen on Twitter, their first line of defence is to say you don’t understand how things work, and ten of them pile in to say that the police don’t make the laws, they only enforce them. Their assumption is that you don’t know this. The point they miss is that much of the public don’t blame the police for enforcing shitty laws, but they detest the way they go about it with such obvious glee and pomposity. If the police adopted an attitude of “Sorry mate, but we have to do this…new laws, y’see” the public might think better of them. But they don’t, they fall over themselves to enforce these appalling laws – and boast about their powers online.

The second line of defence for policemen is to make you out as some sort of crank, way out of tune with the general public. They’ll all reiterate how much the public values them as per the latest polls, and most will talk about what a great job their colleagues are doing. Policemen seem to think their poor public image can be rectified by having policemen praise each other online. Others will say things like “the emergency services do a great job”, hoping the genuine appreciation people have for firemen and paramedics will rub off on hapless Plod. Eventually they’ll dismiss you as being a paranoid outlier and block you. One even said he was glad he was able to protect the public from “people like me”, as if this engineer with a blogging hobby was a danger to anyone. Seemingly not appreciating the police and showing signs of defiance makes you a threat in the eyes of Plod.

Personally I’m all for this sort of idiocy on Twitter. As I’ve said before, the sooner the public understand the nature of the British police and abandon the romantic Dixon of Dock Green image, the better. In the comments under my last piece, Schrodingers’s Dog says:

Clearly a major role of the British police seems to be the enforcement of a left wing political and social agenda. As such, the rest of us should be thinking in terms of non-cooperation with the them.

I can only agree with that, and I think that’s where we’re headed. Criminals and their families have famously refused to cooperate with the police, but so have the people who swim in the same waters. They figured out that the police are not on their side, never have been, and never will be: any mutual interests are coincidental and temporary, and in the long run cooperation simply isn’t worth it. It’s only a matter of time before ordinary people reach the same conclusion.


More on the British Police

The British police have hit rock bottom and started to drill. This time it’s the clowns in Wiltshire:

Take a look at that last one:

They can’t even spell properly.

Yesterday on Twitter I came across this from the Metropolitan Police, which I thought was fake until somebody provided a link:

Look at No. 6. Apparently if you don’t give due consideration to deranged conspiracy theories about the Jews running the West, you’re engaging in a “component” of Islamaphobia, which is a hate crime.

Of course, stifling free speech on the internet and thought-policing is about all they’re good for when they look like this:

I’ve seen women dressed as coppers on hen nights look more presentable than that lot. Forearm tattoos on a WPC, FFS!

Tell me again, whose side are these people on? It’s not ours, is it?


Manchester as I saw it

Tim Worstall links to a piece in The Guardian about thieving Mancunions stealing bikes. As Tim says: well, yes, it is Manchester.

As my regular readers will know, I lived in Manchester between 1996 and 2003, with the first four years being spent at the university. I have no idea what it is like now – perhaps it’s improved – but I knew what it was like then. Any student living in Fallowfield, Withington, or Victoria Park would have quickly learned what Manchester was like, firstly when they applied for home and contents insurance and got told “we don’t cover M14 and M20”, and again when somebody broke into that home and made off with those contents. Everybody I knew in Manchester got burgled at some point, and it happened to me twice.

I went further than the average student in discovering Manchester, though. In the summer of 1998 I responded to an advert looking for a part-time car driver, ideally suited to somebody semi-retired. I’d recently passed my test but had no actual driving experience, but I didn’t let that stop me. I arrived for the interview in Old Trafford, conducted by a chap with a passing resemblance to Jaap Stam (who was playing just across the road at the time) and a thick Mancunion accent. I got the job immediately, learning afterwards it was because I “could string a sentence together”. This wasn’t the high-end of the Manchester job market, although looking back, perhaps it was.

My new boss Danny ran a car hire company which would lease a car to anyone who’d had an accident and claim it back from the insurance company of the person at fault. It was basically a branch of the ambulance-chasing industry, but I didn’t care. Some loophole in the law made it all possible and Danny made his living renting out cars, and I delivered and collected them. The only problem was we were serving the absolute bottom of the market. We weren’t hiring out Range Rovers in Alderley Edge, we were supplying Puntos and Fiestas to council estates. My job wasn’t only to deliver the cars, but get the customer/whiplash “victim” to sign the lease agreement. Most of them couldn’t read, and those that could wouldn’t have been able to understand it how the arrangement worked. I know I couldn’t.

My new job was a good one by student standards. I was provided with a bus pass (saving me £15 a week), a PAYG mobile phone (an unheard-of perk in those days), and at weekends I could sometimes take a car home with me. I would normally work afternoons, Danny fitting the deliveries around my timetable. For my efforts I’d get paid £10 per delivery, and if I did 4-5 in a week that was my beer money easily earned. At some point Danny realised I had a car park outside my flat and used to store cars there occasionally, leaving my neighbours to wonder why this student owned four identical cars with sequential number plates.

The downside of the job was that it would take me to the terrible areas of Manchester and into the absolute worst housing estates, where I would find my way there with an A to Z (no Google Maps or GPS in those days) and get home via public transport. I delivered cars to Openshaw, Rochdale, Oldham, Wythenshawe, Levenshulme, Middleton, Moston, Ancoats, Ashton-Under-Lyne, Dukinfield, Eccles, and other absolute shitholes whose names I’ve forgotten. North of Manchester city centre is a total dump with two exceptions: Prestwich, which is the Jewish area and has lots of nice, big houses in immaculate condition, and Bury which is a posh suburb.

I’d deliver the cars then walk the streets and ride the buses, trains, and trams through the most God-awful areas of Manchester, often after dark, usually in the rain. I visited a garage where the proprietor was jailed a short time later for kidnapping somebody who wouldn’t pay an illegal clamping fine. I stood on doorsteps of council houses with people reeking of alcohol, trying to get them to sign the blue-and-white form before handing over the keys. I sat on disgusting sofas, trying not to breath. I walked through filthy streets with a mosque at each end, which are nowadays referred to as no-go zones. For whatever reason, nothing ever happened to me. Whatever one says about the Mancs – and they are a dodgy bunch – the vast majority are good people. I remember feeling nervous, but was never in any danger even in the worst places. But they were bad: In Ancoats, the roof of the corner shop was covered in barbed wire, and you’d get served like in a bank, with bullet-proof glass and a rotating carousel: you’d need to give a list to the bloke behind the counter and he’d fetch everything. This was to buy milk at 2pm.

In the summer of 1999 I quit working for Danny because I had to do an industrial placement as part of my Masters. Most people’s placement was organised by the university, but for some reason I went through the yellow pages and sent a letter to anyone calling themselves an engineering company asking for a job. I found one called Technical Automation based out in Weaste, a suburb of Greater Manchester between Salford and Eccles. And by Lord, was Weaste the biggest shithole I’d ever seen before and have ever seen since. It was so bad the betting shop, pub, and off license were boarded up. Our workshop was protected by spiked railings, bars, steel doors, and alarms yet still it got broken into. Later in my career I met a guy whose wife worked as a nurse in Hope Hospital just down the road. He told me a bouncer of a nearby pub (one that was still open) had been rushed into hospital with gunshot wounds, the victim of a drive-by shooting. When they cut his jacket off him, a claw-hammer fell out of his sleeve. Nice pub.

I went back to work for Danny after my placement, raking in the tenners for tramping around Manchester’s sink estates. I left the UK in 2003 and travelled the world, walking the dodgy back streets of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Yalta, and a dozen other cities where visitors are warned to be careful, but I never saw anything that was a patch on Manchester. Even in Lagos people would rob you for a reason: they want your money. The Manc scallies were decked out in £300 Hilfiger jackets and Rockport boots and didn’t need money, they just wanted to beat someone up. Never in my life, anywhere else, have I seen a bunch of teenagers wrecking a bus stop, or have I climbed aboard a bus and found somebody has sandpapered the windows and set fire to the seats. In Manchester, this was all perfectly normal. Even now, when people tell me to be careful somewhere, or ask if I was afraid in (say) Paris, I laugh and say “God no, I lived in Manchester, FFS!”

Despite all that, and the fact I never went back, I loved my time there. I am still in touch with Danny – he’s no longer in the dodgy car-hire business and has turned all respectable, so he says – and occasionally I joke about the shitholes he sent me to at 6pm on a wet Tuesday night in November, helpfully telling me there was a tram stop a mile away from the address. It was “character building”, he says.

Yes, it was.


Wrongful Tasering

Remember the incident in January where some blithering idiot of a WPC tasered a Rastafarian who turned out to be on some police race-relations body? She’s been charged with assault:

Avon and Somerset PC Claire Boddie, 47, is set to appear before Taunton magistrates on 14 August.

The force referred itself to the police watchdog after Judah Adunbi, 63, was Tasered in Bristol on 14 January.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) sent evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service, which said it is in the public interest to charge.

I wonder if this would be the case had the fellow she’d tasered not been a minority?

At any rate, I don’t blame her as much as the idiots and diversity culture that gave her a uniform and taser in the first place.


Why do Blairites hate Corbyn so much?

I confess, I’m at a complete loss to understand why so many of the middle-aged middle classes are aghast at the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, his grip on the Labour party, and the support he receives from the younger generation.

Let us not forget that an awful lot of people now squealing about Corbyn turned out in their droves to vote for Tony Blair. Indeed, some of them still wipe away a tear when they remember those days, and wish another just like him would return. “Oh, but Blair was different!” I hear you say. Was he? Perhaps. But I remember New Labour being all about style over substance, the trashing of institutions and traditions, broken promises, the ballooning of the state in both in size and scope, thousands of petty criminal offences added to the statute books, endless tinkering, meddling and busy-bodying with little purpose and no regard for the side-effects, and an overall dumbing down of politics to the level of reality television.

Note that I didn’t mention the Iraq War: this would account for most of Blair’s unpopularity among the left, otherwise they’d be calling for him to replace Nelson in Trafalgar Square. Nothing in his approach to domestic matters met with the opposition he faced over Iraq, and even today this issue dominates his (poor) reputation. Personally, I’d rather give him a pass over thrashing Saddam Hussein and his army and hang him for everything else, but that’s just me: on domestic matters, most of the middle-aged middle classes think he did a fine job.

Perhaps Tony Blair and chums were better than Jeremy Corbyn and his lot, but one very much prepared the ground for the other. True, we had Cameron in the middle but he did nothing to undo the damage and plenty to make it permanent. It was New Labour’s policies that allowed hard leftists seeped in identity politics and cultural Marxism to infiltrate and take over swathes of the media, education system, councils, charitable sector, and other institutions which now form the basis of Corbyn’s support. How anyone who worshipped at the altar of New Labour can now complain about Corbyn’s insincere opportunism and lack of principles is beyond me: Blair practically wrote the book on it.

You often hear New Labour purists whine that Corbyn is incompatible with the party’s traditions and values, as if their hero Blair didn’t make himself just that to win office – which included abandoning the British working class. Then again, these are people who think Trump is too stupid to understand how the US government works but adored a man who casually abolished the 1,000 year old position of Lord Chancellor without having a clue what the effects would be. In their sorrow many Blairites are looking across the channel to find a new Messiah to deify: France’s Emmanuel Macron. On that subject:

It is a long-standing tradition that the president will be interviewed by the press during the day, but it seems Mr Macron has other ideas.

Le Monde quotes the source as saying that the president did not “baulk” at speaking to the media.

However, “his ‘complex thought process’ lends itself badly to the game of question-and-answer with journalists”, the paper notes.

It is not clear exactly on which subjects Mr Macron felt his thoughts might bamboozle journalists.

A president elected on woolly policies with scant detail decides the plebs are too thick to appreciate his brilliance; little wonder Blair’s disciples adore him. It is why they hate Corbyn so much that remains a mystery to me.


The Proliferation of Hi-Viz Vests

I often remark on the proliferation of people wearing hi-viz vests in the UK these days. In contrast with other countries I visit, they seem ubiquitous.

There was a time when anybody wearing a hi-viz vest could be reasonably assumed to be doing a proper job, one that was either dangerous, manual, or both. When I was a kid you’d see them on builders, guys working up pylons, people directing traffic, and on TV being worn by oil-rig workers and the people who move about on the aprons at airports.

But nowadays, somebody wearing a hi-viz vest is more likely to be a low-grade official granted minuscule authority carrying an air of self-important pomposity that would have embarrassed a 17th Century French aristocrat.

The other day I came across this photo, although I can’t remember the context:

Which of those weaing a hi-viz vest do you think has ever in their lives done a job that actually needed one?


Knee-Jerk Evacuations

While I was in Germany I read that thousands of people were being evacuated from tower blocks in the UK after it was found they had the same cladding as the Grenfell Tower.

It started as a normal Friday night in north London. Some people were down the pub, others were watching TV or eating dinner. In some flats children were doing homework, preparing for exams.

But over the space of the following few hours around 3,000 people on the Chalcots estate were told to leave their homes and get out – immediately.

The call to evacuate came from Camden council after London Fire Brigade told it the safety of residents “could not be guaranteed”.

I am absolutely amazed that more hasn’t been made of the unfathomable levels of stupidity in this decision. My only explanation is that a lot of people find it sensible.

Suppose a passenger ship in the mid-Atlantic gets word that its sister ship has sunk with all souls lost because of a fire in the engine room. What does the captain do? Does he give an abandon ship order and have everyone take to the lifeboats? No, he doesn’t, because that would put the passengers in more danger. He would instead post a watch in the engine room, put his crew on full-alert for a possible fire and abandonment, maybe cut back on the throttle a bit, close the bar, and either complete the voyage as planned or set sail for the nearest port with suitable passenger-handling facilities. Even if there was a fire he’d not abandon ship: he’d attempt to get his crew to fight it first, while having everyone on standby to get the lifeboats launched. If he panicked and launched the lifeboats at the first word of a potential fire, he’d go down in history as one of the worst captains ever to take command.

Back in 2010 the engine of a Qantas A380 failed, forcing it to return to Singapore and make an emergency landing. The result was the grounding of all A380 aircraft using those engines while inspections were carried out and Rolls-Royce consulted. Note that these other planes were not immediately ordered to make emergency landings: that would have seriously endangered the passengers.

The evacuation of towers with similar cladding to that of the Grenfell Tower is a decision made in panic with seemingly no consideration of actual risk. It is the equivalent of the captain ordering everyone into the lifeboats too early or planes making emergency landings. Yes, the cladding is dangerous – but only once a fire has occurred in a flat and reached the outside. Resources and efforts would be far better spent on ensuring these two don’t occur – information campaign, inspections, temporary fire-fighting measures, posted watches – than ordering everyone out of their homes immediately.

Perhaps a risk analysis would recommend people evacuate, but none would say this needs to be done immediately. The risk might have been high, but it was not imminent: anyone who understood risk and safety ought to have known this, and been aware that ordering unnecessary emergency evacuations would put the residents in greater danger than leaving them in situ. Firstly, emergency evacuations and temporary housing are stressful and not good for people’s overall wellbeing, and secondly next time they’re told to move immediately some people might conclude it’s just a bureaucrat covering his arse.

The situation required cool heads and mature decisions, instead we’ve got headline-grabbing knee-jerk reactions. The people running things have not got a grip on how to manage risks in residential properties, but then we knew that already: we have a burned-out shell and dozens dead as proof. But what it shows is the clowns in charge haven’t learned anything in the aftermath: an irrational approach to risk and safety is still dangerous whether it comes in the form of callous neglect or panicked decisions.

Incidentally, this:

German authorities on Tuesday evacuated a high-rise apartment building in the western city of Wuppertal, over fire safety fears in the wake of London’s Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Wuppertal authorities said they had carried out a fire safety review following the Grenfell inferno, which left 79 people presumed dead, and found that the insulation on an 11-storey building posed a risk as it is flammable.

So much for the idea that the oh-so-clever and perfectly-regulated Germans would avoid a tragedy like the Grenfell Tower, eh? Some proper journalism wouldn’t go amiss occasionally, would it?


Fresh Outta Lagos

In late 2010 I took the opportunity to go to the MTV Africa music awards which were being held in the same Lagos hotel I was living in at the time. Afterwards I made the following remark:

Clearly everyone who was anyone in Lagos’ media industry was attending this event, and they’d all donned their most fashionable clothes for the occasion…this was an event of some importance to the kool kats of Lagos.  At 7,000 Naira ($46) per ticket for the standing area, and 15,000 Naira for the seats, those in attendance were drawn from the lucky few of the city’s 15m (or whatever) inhabitants.  The minimum wage in Nigeria is 18,000 Naira per month.

The highlight of the night was a chap called Chuck D, former front man of Public Enemy, who came on to perform.  Unfortunately, he is 50 and looked like somebody’s dad.  But he turned out a reasonable performance which made sense to seemingly everyone but me right up to and including where he urged everyone in the place to “fight the power”.  There is something highly ironic about an American rapper urging a concert crowd made up entirely of Nigeria’s wealthy elite to fight the power.

I was reminded of this when I heard that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – who is worth three million quid – addressed the crowd at Glastonbury, tickets for which cost £238 plus a £5 booking fee. In his speech, Corbyn said (emphasis mine):

Is it right that so many people in our country have no home to live in and only a street to sleep on? Is it right that so many people are frightened of where they live at the moment having seen the horrors of what happened at Grenfell Tower? Is it right that so many people live in such poverty in a society surrounded by such riches?

I want to see a world where there is real opportunity for everybody in our society. That means sharing the wealth out in every part of our country, and looking to global policies that actually share the wealth, not glory in the levels of justice and inequality, where the rich seem to get inexorably richer and the vast majority continually lose out. The desperately poor live on the margins of society which is basically known as the fourth world. Surely we can, as intelligent human beings, do things differently and do things better. And when we’re here today in Glastonbury, we’re doing things differently, we’re doing things better and we’re seeing that inspiration.

The Glastonbury crowd responded to these words with rapturous applause, same as the Nigerian elites did when Chuck D told them to stick it to the man.

I suppose Nigeria and the UK are not the only countries where the wealthy and privileged get together and pretend they’re on the side of the downtrodden masses, but I am nevertheless surprised at how universal such delusions are. At least the Nigerians laid on cheap beer.