So what happens next?

I confess I’ve not waded through the 585 pages of legalese that makes up the draft agreement of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU (thanks PCar for the link), but the reaction on Twitter tells me:

1. Free movement of people is ended.

2. The UK remains in the customs union indefinitely.

What’s interesting is Leavers are irate beyond measure which suggests, contrary to their portrayal in the media, they weren’t driven by immigration. If that were the case, they’d not be too disappointed with an agreement which halted free movement. That they are more upset about continued membership of the customs union suggests sovereignty and independence were equally as important as ending free movement. None of this should come as a surprise to those who know any Leave voters.

However, Remainers are equally unhappy, presumably because free movement will end along with a whole load of taxpayer funded schemes which prop up swathes of the middle class left. They’ll be joining Leavers in writing to their MPs urging them to vote against the bill when it’s put before parliament. Jeremy Corbyn, who must be relishing this, has already said he’ll vote against it so May is relying on Labour rebels to offset those in her own party. I think this vote will be the most heavily scrutinised in recent memory, with every MP’s reputation for the next few years depending on which way they cast their ballot. I imagine many of them didn’t get much sleep last night. This is how it should be, and for once it’s nice to see the public – both Leavers and Remainers – holding their representatives’ feet to the fire.

Here’s what I reckon will happen. The agreement will be voted down and May will leave; either she’ll resign or will be shoved out by her own party, along with anyone in the cabinet who assented to it. A general election will be called leaving the Tories with two options:

1. Pick a Remain leader and cabinet and we all start preparing for Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn.

2. Pick a Leave leader and cabinet, win the election, chuck the draft in the bin, and start negotiations again.

Much as though I’d prefer to see No. 2 happen, if the Tories had that sort of gumption they’d have done it already. Unless some have been working tirelessly behind the scenes preparing a realistic plan which can immediately be placed in front of Barnier, it’s just going to be more hot air before we crash out with no deal. I’d not be too disappointed if the Tories’ stated intention is to crash out with no deal, but if that’s what happens by default because they’re too hapless to get a plan together, it’s hardly a demonstration of the sort of leadership Britain will need in the near future.

So I suspect they’ll pick a total wet as leader who nobody will vote for and Corbyn will get in. From what I’m reading on Twitter, which to be fair is probably not a great representation, people are prepared to suffer a Corbyn government rather than continue to support the Conservatives, such are their feelings of betrayal. Oddly, I’m half minded to think Corbyn and Co. could negotiate a better deal than May’s managed. He’d certainly not turn up looking to please everyone, and idiotic his beliefs might be he might inadvertently get Britain out of the EU in a way which leaves Brexiteers satisfied.

What I’d really like to see, though, is the Metropolitan New Labour/Cameron remnants who think the EU is wonderful and the referendum an abomination forced to start their own party, in the same way UKIP was founded to represent those who wanted to leave. Thus far, they’ve assumed they can wrestle back control of the existing levers of power against the wishes of the people. Two anti-EU parties contesting a General Election would be the slap in the face they need to show them they’re no longer representative of the wider UK. There’s little that would make me happier than a bunch of whining London-based media types launching a party and seeing their ideas roundly ignored by all but themselves. They could even make Blair their leader.

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Snobbery instead of governance

The BBC, two days late, decides to run a front-page story on Trump and the WWI commemorations (which I wrote about here):

The White House has defended US President Donald Trump’s decision to miss a memorial event on Saturday after he faced a backlash.

Mr Trump, who was in France to mark the centenary of World War One’s end, cancelled a visit to a US military cemetery because it was raining.

Bad weather and “near-zero visibility” grounded the presidential helicopter, White House officials said.

French, German and Canadian leaders attended memorial events on Saturday.

However, Mr Trump was reluctant to bring extra disruption to Paris traffic for a last-minute motorcade, his officials said.

So it was a security issue then and not, as many pretended, that Trump simply couldn’t be bothered because it was raining.

“President Trump did not want to cause that kind of unexpected disruption to the city and its people,” press secretary Sarah Sanders said, noting the trip was 60 miles (96km) north-east of Paris

Compiègne, the location of the ceremony in question, is situated a little further east of Charles de Gaulle airport and if he were to get there from Paris via motorcade they’d probably have closed the A1. This not only would have caused havoc on the périphérique but might have caused people to miss their flights, so I expect the good citizens of Paris are rather glad Trump decided not to go. Also, there is no acknowledgement that this particular ceremony was a sideshow: the main one took place on 11th November on the Champs-Élysées as normal, and Trump was in full attendance.

From here, it just gets pathetic:

Critics observed how Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had travelled 118 miles outside Paris to attend a ceremony – in the rain – at a cemetery in Vimy.

And what is the security operation surrounding the Canadian PM versus that of the US president?

Notable criticism came from British Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood, who took an apparent swipe at the president on Twitter, saying “rain did not prevent our brave heroes from doing their job”.

I’ve praised the bravery of Tobias Ellwood on this blog before, but he’s acting like a child here. So is this man:

His comments followed a scathing rebuke from Sir Nicholas Soames, a grandson of the wartime British leader Sir Winston Churchill.

The MP tweeted that Mr Trump was not fit to represent the US and said that he was a “pathetic inadequate” for not defying the weather “to pay his respects to the fallen”.

Here’s what I don’t get about the British ruling classes. Half of them want to suck up to European technocrats which explains their anti-Americanism, but even those that want out of Europe seem to make extra effort to antagonise their most important ally. It’s fine that Britain wants to get out of Europe, but where’s the value in MPs taking swipes at Trump on Twitter over trivial, wrongheaded stuff like this? America has lots of allies and special interests, and Britain needs American support more than America needs Britain. The ruling classes fell over themselves to brown-nose Obama who hated Britain, but even though Trump has repeatedly shown he’s open to warm relations with Britain, the ruling classes prefer to engage in petty sniping.

I expect the answer lies in snobbery. Even the supposedly better Tories prefer to burnish their credentials with other members of the ruling classes by virtue-signaling against Trump’s supposed rudeness and inadequacy than building workable relations with the one country whose help we need once we stumble out of the EU in March next year. Once again, our ruling classes have shown they are utterly incapable of doing the one thing they exist to do: govern. If Britain wants to avoid disappearing into irrelevance, it needs a wholesale replacement of those in charge. The only upside I can see is that I doubt Trump paid any attention to these cretins.

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Hierarchy Confirmed

Rather a lot of people were surprised by this article, which appeared over the weekend:

A Pakistani Christian woman’s appeal to Britain for asylum has been denied because her arrival in the country may stir civil unrest, HuffPost UK has been told.

Asia Bibi, a Christian farm labourer, was released from prison in Pakistan on Wednesday after being acquitted of blasphemy. She had spent eight years on death row after an argument with a group of Muslim women in June 2009.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned Bibi’s 2010 conviction for “insulting the prophet Mohammed” last week, saying the case against her was based on flimsy evidence.

But her acquittal sparked violent protests led by Islamic religious hardliners, and the government has now agreed to try to stop her leaving the country.

On Saturday her lawyer, Saif Mulook, fled Pakistan, saying he feared for his life.  Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, has also released a video message saying he too fears for his family’s safety.

“I am requesting the Prime Minister of the UK help us and as far as possible grant us freedom,” he said.

But campaigners working to secure Bibi’s move abroad said the UK government had not offered her asylum, citing security concerns.

Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said two countries had made firm offers of asylum, but Britain was not one of them.

“I’ve been lead to believe that the UK government had concerns that her moving to the UK would cause security concerns and unrest among certain sections of the community and would also be a security threat to British embassies abroad which might be targeted by Islamist terrorists.”

I don’t know why anyone’s surprised. For starters, the government is quite correct that moving Asia Bibi to the UK would almost certainly result in violent protests and heightened security risks. In fact, I’d be surprised if she’d last a week if she moved to the UK. This is because Britain contains an alarming number of Muslims who both threaten and practice violence if their theocratic demands are not met, many of whom are of Pakistani origin. What do you reckon would be the result of a poll among British Muslims over Bibi’s fate? Regardless of the moral stance of the British government, it’s practically not a good idea to allow Bibi to settle in the UK unless she fancies spending the rest of her life in protective custody.

The Home Office said it could not comment on individual cases.

Ah yes, of course. This is why they can’t answer any questions about returning jihadis and “child” refugees either. Let’s face it, this government and the preceding one has failed every single moral test it has had thrown at it. Whenever a case comes up which ought to be the most morally simple to answer the government has done the precise opposite. It’s tempting to suggest they have no principles, but one cannot operate with such consistency without them. Rather, their guiding principles seem to be drawn straight from university social studies departments which promote a hierarchy of protected classes atop which sit radical Muslims. Asia Bibi ought to be a cause célèbre among western feminists, but it doesn’t matter if you have three aces and two kings when your opponent has a royal flush. So they fall silent on the matter, and instead rail against middle class white men and campaign for new laws on upskirting.

The moral cowardice of the government in the face of violent Islam is consistent with their stance on the Salman Rushdie fatwa, and later the yes-butting over the Mohammed cartoons and the Charlie Hebdo massacre. All these should have been met with a firm response from western governments, and each time they were found wanting. It makes one wonder, not for the first time, what purpose the Conservative party serves, other than to keep a handful of people wallowing in gravy. It’s little wonder people are starting to think a Corbyn government mightn’t be so bad after all. True, he’d serve Asia Bibi’s head on a plate during a Hezbollah rally, but at least we’d know where he stood. It’s the cowardice that I can’t stand.

Hopefully Asia Bibi will be granted asylum in a country governed by people with courage who don’t allow foreign theocrats to dictate policy with threats of violence. Meanwhile, perhaps the British government could partly redeem itself by not hosing any more taxpayer cash at Pakistan. Some hope.

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Clash of Clans

Here’s a story which was doing the rounds last week:

It was an unusually heavy response to a fight in a school canteen: a police helicopter, police dog and 15 police vehicles all rushed to Fir Vale Academy in Page Hall, Sheffield, one Tuesday in late September.

The drama, inevitably, was caught on camera. The screaming in the dinner hall, children climbing on tables to escape. Outside, a teenage girl in handcuffs, face-down on a police car; the man in a tracksuit being mauled by a police dog. A pupil had texted false talk of a knife fight, and parents had been trying to scale the fence to reach the school.

So what was it all about?

[T]he fight had begun when a Roma girl pulled off the headscarf of a Muslim classmate.

An incident which didn’t come out of a clear blue sky:

Angry Fir Vale parents – most Pakistanis, no Roma – shouted at a panel of wincing white council workers about “them”. Their new Roma neighbours. “David Blunkett was right!” yelled one man. “This is a ticking time bomb. If it goes off, you’re going to need the army.”

They refused to see the hijab incident as an isolated scrap between teenage girls. “This is not just a school issue… This is ready to blow up. Bang,” warned one man. “We’ve lived here 35, 40 years and you expect us to sit silently,” said another, claiming that he had 60 cousins ready to provide back-up for what he said could be “a riot like you’ve never seen before in your life”.

I was late to this story, but a lively discussion took place in the comments at Tim Worstall’s, which is worth reading. There are a few things going on here. Firstly, I very much doubt the people are Roma in the commonly understood sense; more likely they’ll be people who until last week were called “travellers”, fifteen years ago “gypsies”, and by nearly everyone in private, even now, “pikeys”. I grew up around communities of gypsies and they were indistinguishable in ethnicity from the locals. But at some point during the Blair years someone realised that classifying them as a different race made a whole new victim group on which public sector careers could be made; you have to do something with all these new social studies graduates, after all. So now a run-of-the-mill British gypsy alongside whose brethren I used to pick spuds and stack straw now belongs to a protected class.

Only on the other side of the battle lines we have another protected class, whose status was so assured that men in the very same locality were permitted to systematically gang-rape underage girls while the police looked on and did nothing. (Incidentally, if I were to guess, I’d say the number of gypsy girls these men abused was precisely nil). So having designated as protected classes two maladjusted, poorly integrated groups thus putting them beyond the bounds of even mild criticism on pain of imprisonment, what happens when they start fighting each other? Well, I don’t know because until now no government in history has been stupid enough to run such an experiment, but we can take a guess.

Firstly, the Pakistanis are more numerous: that chap wasn’t joking when he said he had 60 cousins, and even if some of them are in a village outside Lahore, they can become British citizens and over there in a jiffy. The gypsies maintain large families, but they don’t have an entire nation on which to draw reserves. Secondly, Pakistanis are darker skinned. Gypsies aren’t exactly blonde haired and blue eyed, but even the obese creature with green hair in charge of social inclusion at the local council is going to be hard pressed to deny categorising them as a separate ethnic group was a little fanciful. Particularly so if they’re lined up opposite a bunch of fellows who’d look pretty handy with ball in hand on 22 yards of short-cut grass. Thirdly, Pakistanis are Muslim, and have lobbying power which would make an oil executive kick a barrel out of pure jealousy. By contrast, the gypsies are members of a lesser religion – or perhaps none at all, it doesn’t matter. When designated victim groups have clashed before, it is always those of the one true faith who prevail, and it will be the same this time around.

So the authorities will hold frantic meetings in the Nelson Mandela – Salvadore Allende conference rooms in the local town halls, during which they’ll wrack their brains to come up with a way to blame this on Tommy Robinson. But in the end they’ll be forced to conclude that the gypsies are white after all, and racist to boot. Until they turn up on the common of a middle class village, anyway.

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The consecration of the Grenfell Tower

When future historians look back on the collapse of Britain, they may devote an entire section to the Grenfell Tower. It started as a human disaster born of poor cladding, bad regulations, unaccountable management, and an obsession with green initiatives but quickly became a quasi-religious symbol erected atop a hill on which the ruling classes are prepared to die.

Most of the country thought it was a crying shame then moved on, but many believed it symbolised the utter corruption of British politicians who encouraged mass immigration, hosed foreigners with welfare payments, and ignored wholesale fraud. These feelings were reinforced when professional hustlers, many of whom appeared to be foreign, took up the disaster as a stick with which to beat the government, demanding yet more concessions. On top of that, the charred remains became the focus of possibly the most brazen acts of fraud in British history. For instance:

So as many saw the Grenfell Tower as a symbol of the government’s worst policies, the ruling classes realised their most cherished beliefs – mass immigration, generous welfare payments, and multiculturalism – were under attack. Their reaction was as predictable as the fraud: they attempted to shut down all dissent. The trouble is, while it’s possible to place people in protected classes and criminalise any criticism of their behaviour, it is rather more difficult to do so in the case of an incident like a fire. I can think of many cases of a person being off-limits for mockery and derision; I can think of several objects which must not be disrespected in various parts of the world; I can also think of several government policies and actions which may not be discussed, let alone criticised. But I cannot think of a single instance anywhere in the world when something like a domestic fire was elevated to the status of a holy relic, placed beyond criticism on pain of criminal prosecution. Yet this is what the British ruling classes have done:

In short, the day before thousands of Brits burn an effigy of a Catholic man in celebration of his trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament, someone made a cardboard replica of the Grenfell Tower complete with people hanging out of windows and chucked it on a fire. They then made a video which was passed around on social media. It’s in rather poor taste I admit, but hardly something to concern the police in a country populated by adults. And were this to have been something else, say an effigy of Jacob-Rees Mogg or a bus full of Brexiteers, they’d not have batted an eyelid. But the Grenfell Tower has become a holy relic, and blasphemy is a matter of national importance:

Theresa May tweeted: “To disrespect those who lost their lives at Grenfell Tower, as well as their families and loved ones, is utterly unacceptable.”

Unacceptable to whom? The sensibilities of the ruling classes, who know their entire catalogue of cherished beliefs is represented by that cardboard model?

Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said the group’s actions were “beneath contempt”.

Was there anyone who held them in esteem?

Commander Stuart Cundy, from the Met’s Grenfell Tower investigation team, said any offences committed would be “fully investigated”.

“I am frankly appalled by the callous nature of the video posted online. To mock that disaster in such a crude way is vile,” he said.

I suspect Commander Stuart Cundy cares as much about the Grenfell Tower victims as his comrades in Rotherham did about the underage girls who were systematically gang-raped with their full knowledge. All he’s doing here is signalling to his masters he’s on-message, and smoothing the waters for when he’s confronted by the mob at the next public meeting. Whatever the case, his personal opinions are irrelevant: if he wants to talk about his feelings, he is free to sign up to Instagram and befriend some teenagers.

Now I’ve written before about how Britain has adopted the Soviet approach of “show me the man and I’ll show you the crime”, and sure enough:

Five men have been arrested on suspicion of a public order offence in connection with a model of Grenfell Tower being burned on a bonfire.

The Metropolitan Police said the men – two aged 49 and the others aged 19, 46 and 55 – handed themselves in at a south London station on Monday night.

A public order offence?

The men have been arrested under section 4a of the Public Order Act 1986, which covers intentional “harassment, alarm or distress” caused via the use of “threatening, abusive or insulting” words or signs.

If this legislation can be used to prosecute those who circulate a video mocking an incident which happened over a year ago, it can be used to shut down speech of any kind. The only reason it’s being brought to bear now, as opposed to when everyone else is insulted, mocked, and derided in appallingly bad taste, is because the Grenfell Tower is a holy relic in the religion of the ruling class. And right on cue, here’s a high priest who’s come to preach to us about sin, blasphemy, and holy punishment:

Moyra Samuels, part of the Justice For Grenfell campaign group, told the BBC the video was “a disgusting attack on vulnerable people”.

She added: “We have no doubt that there are actually decent, generous people across Britain and this actual act doesn’t represent ordinary British people.

“But there is a worrying rise of racism in this country at the moment. And that is concerning, because it’s now starting to impact on us directly, which means that we actually need to be thinking what we do about this, and how we respond to this as a whole.”

Were we asked to sign up to this new religion, or were we simply born into it like with Islam? ‘Cos I’d rather not have to listen to this imbecile lecture me on racism every time someone does something her priestly caste doesn’t like.

Under the Public Order Act, racially or religiously aggravated offences carry a prison sentence of up to two years, a fine or both.

Religiously aggravated, eh? See what I mean?

I think future historians will find this interesting not only because it signifies abject desperation on the part of the ruling classes, but also their departure from reality. I get the impression a lot of people are rather incensed that the entire country is supposed to be in perpetual mourning because, apparently, something was upsetting for Londoners. But just as nobody outside Liverpool cares much about Hillsborough, few outside Aberdeen or who aren’t in the oil industry are still traumatised by Piper Alpha, and hardly anyone remembers the Bradford stadium fire, Grenfell Tower isn’t something which non-Londoners care about that much. They certainly don’t expect the incident to occupy the national government to the point they’re reinstating blasphemy laws. Was this video even made in London? Had the fire happened in a tower block in Newcastle, you can be sure the police wouldn’t be running around arresting people over videos and the Prime Minister blubbering on Twitter.

As they lose their grip on power, the ruling classes cannot see beyond the capital, and attempt to appease only the noisiest mob outside the palace gates. They’re not alone in this, either in historical or contemporary terms, but it won’t end well. The trouble with those who start new religions is they often end up burned at the stake, usually when they’ve overestimated their numbers and begun to annoy everyone else.

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The French and Brexit

The other day I read a story in The Sun, which was repeated in The Express, saying French President Emmanuel Macron was threatening to blockade the port of Calais once Britain leaves the EU. I was going to write something in response but found no evidence in either article that Macron had said any such thing: it was merely speculation by some remainer politicians ramping up project fear.

It was nonsense, of course:

French officials have rejected suggestions they could resort to a “go-slow” policy at the port of Calais if there is no Brexit deal.

The UK’s Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab warned on Thursday of major disruption in a “worse case scenario”, which might force firms to use other ports.

But Xavier Bertrand, president of the Hauts-de-France region, said ensuring “fluidity” of trade was essential.

Another official said closing Calais would be an “economic suicide mission”.

As most of my readers know, I’ve been living in France since before the Brexit vote. Here’s the aggregate view of the French from where I’m standing: we don’t care. Now some might think the decision was stupid, but the French are no strangers to making silly decisions in what they perceive to be their national interest, and so can perfectly understand why a majority might have voted to leave. They also share the view of many mainland Europeans that Britain’s heart was never really in the EU project, they were always moaning and asking for opt-outs, and so perhaps they’re better off leaving. The subject of Brexit rarely even comes up; unsurprisingly, the French have other things to concern them.

So even if French politicians decided to punish Britain for leaving by causing chaos at the ports, this would be unpopular with ordinary Frenchmen who already take an exceptionally dim view of Macron. The French might burn a lorry load of British sheep on the motorway or illegally ban imports of British beef in order to protect their own industries, but they don’t hate the British to the point they want them punished over Brexit, let alone ports blocked which would hurt them as much as us.

Last weekend I met a bunch of Frenchmen to play some music, all of them over fifty. During the break the subject turned to politics, and they expressed their dissatisfaction with the ruling classes in France and Europe generally. I understand the younger generation have grown up brainwashed on EU propaganda, but rather than resenting Britain, I think a lot of French and other Europeans have more in common with Brexiteers than we think. Not that you’d know this listening to politicians or the media: their view of Europe comes from people of exactly the same privileged social class as them, only sitting in a different capital city. That they’re seriously suggesting the French are going to blockade Calais shows how little they know about the countries they’re fighting to maintain their partnership with.

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All Mouth, No Trousers

I’ve written before about the Republicans and Obamacare:

If we are to believe the words that come out of their mouths, the Establishment Republicans were vehemently opposed to Obamacare and longed for the day they could repeal it. But if that were the case, they would have spent the necessary time and effort to come up with a viable alternative and presented that to the public loudly and often during those five or six years that they were in opposition and Obamacare was in force. Only they didn’t: for all their talk in the election about repealing Obamacare, when it came to the job of actually coming up with an alternative, they didn’t have a clue.

I suspect the Establishment Republicans are terrified at having to come up with a genuine alternative because it will involve hard work and taking on the enormously powerful vested interests that make providing healthcare in America almost impossible.

I compared the above with the Tories’ dithering over Brexit, but 18 months on the comparison is even more apt. Here’s an article in The Telegraph:

Every weekend it’s the same. Theresa May is on the brink. Tory Brexiteers are poised to strike. They’re just two letters away from a vote of no confidence. The end is only days away. Mrs May is doomed.

And then… nothing happens.

Every weekend. Every single weekend. Honestly. The Prime Minister’s backbench critics like to call her “weak”. Perhaps they could tell us: what word should we use to describe people who endlessly declare they’re about to depose her, but never go through with it?

A few weeks ago, Boris Johnson looked poised to launch a leadership bid, depose the hapless May, and sit down with the EU for some serious negotiations on Brexit. Instead, as the article says, nothing happened. The contribution to Brexit of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the man in whom many placed their highest hopes, is to moan about things on Twitter. Even his biggest fans are unable to contain their disappointment:

If Johnson, David Davis, Rees-Mogg, and all the others wanted to be taken seriously they would have drawn up a document of what they would present to the EU, publish it, and be on every television show and in every newspaper talking about it non-stop. That would give people something to vote for, instead of holding out hope over some vague rumours that one of them is going to grow some balls and usurp Theresa May. Hell, the backbenchers should have been doing this since the morning after the vote. What else were they doing? They’re no different from Paul Ryan’s Republicans, moaning incessantly about Obamacare but when asked to present their alternative, they don’t even want to try.

This is a colossal failure on the part of the Conservative party, who deserve to be consigned to the dustbin of history. It’s also a colossal failure of the Labour party, who should have capitalised on this long ago instead of playing teenage Trots with the magic grandpa. But I suppose if there were any serious leaders in either the Conservatives or Labour, Theresa May would never have become Prime Minister and we’d not be in this mess in the first place. It’s hard to imagine a time when the political landscape was so bereft of anyone with an ounce of competence or leadership skills. I suppose we ought to be fortunate that, with a few exceptions, the EU members states are in much the same boat.

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Special Farce

Given the modern British military is mainly an excuse to employ lots of middle class people in the MoD and do a bit of PR, they may as well do this:

Women will be able to apply for any British military role for the first time, the defence secretary has said.

Gavin Williamson announced that all combat roles were now open to women, including serving in special forces units such as the SAS.

He said for the first time the “armed forces will be determined by ability alone and not gender”.

A ban on women serving in close combat units in the British military was lifted in 2016.

As of now, women already serving in the Army are able to apply for the Royal Marines and the infantry. That will open the door for them to join special forces units such as the SAS after the necessary training.

Mr Williamson told BBC News: “We very much expect women to be joining the SAS and the Special Boat Service.

“The value that they’ll bring, the impact they’ll make will be phenomenal and all the services are looking forward to welcoming them.”

Williamson sounds like a bright-eyed head-office spokesman informing staff of a merger which everyone on the factory floor knows will be a disaster and cost half of them their jobs. What value will women bring to the SAS, exactly? What tasks are the SBS struggling to execute with their traditional, all-male teams?

Now this blog is fortunate enough to have ex-seaman Jason Lynch as a commenter, who often weighs in on the topic of women in the military. In the past he has said that, in damage repair drills, women can prove their worth by doing tasks which require small, nimble people rather than big, strapping lads. He also said women have been involved in actual damage repair operations and performed adequately. I have no doubt this is true, and I am not against women serving in military units if they can add overall value.

However, I am certain that for women to serve in the SAS, SBS, or even the Royal Marines physical standards will have to be lowered to the point of worthlessness. We’ve seen how these things go: first they say standards will not be lowered, then there are  complaints that no women are passing, then the instructors are told to cheat to allow women to pass, then the standards are abandoned altogether. I walk the Brecon Beacons along the SAS and SBS selection routes back in my early twenties when a few of my friends in the RMR were training for R-Troop (they passed). The difference was they were loaded down with monster bergens and I trotted along with a day-sack. I am also pretty good friends with this chap, who recreates SAS selection marches for civilians to test their mettle. The loads each man carries and the pace they move at is obscene: a common complaint among my friends was that 21 and 23 SAS only required 4km per hour, whereas R-Troop stuck with the regular SBS and 22 SAS pace of 5km per hour. Over the Brecon Beacons this is a blistering pace, and I knew blokes who practically ran the whole route. I was exhausted after a day’s hike with these guys, and I was carrying no weight and only did it for one day in good weather. I couldn’t even get my friend’s bergen on my back, and when someone helped me I found I couldn’t move. During selection, my friends were doing these hill routes day after day.

Unsurprisingly, some men picked up injuries, mostly knees and ankles but also backs. When my friends joined the regular forces and got a few years under their belt, a few of them tried out for regular Special Force selection (including the Royal Marines’ Mountain Leader’s course). The general advice was, if you fail the first one, you have to think very carefully about having another go because of the pounding your body takes. I know at least one guy who was talked out of going for SF selection because it would wreck his already suspect body, and he was a fit lad in his mid twenties.

The rest of the UK special forces selection process which follows “the hills” phase is also brutal: “officer’s week” and “the trees” (i.e. the jungle) are particularly appalling if my friends’ anecdotes are accurate. However, I don’t know whether these would present any great obstacle to women or not. What I am absolutely sure of is if women attempt the current SAS and SBS selection routes in the Elan Valley and Brecon Beacons they will pick up serious injuries at a rate which will later be considered criminally negligent. The course already extracts an awful toll on men at their peak fitness: about 10% pass the whole thing. I suspect the first time a woman attempts it she’ll fail so miserably the units will come under enormous pressure to get her through, which eventually they’ll succumb to.

The good news is once the last British jihadist in Syria is shot and we finally withdraw completely from Afghanistan, we’ll not be sending troops overseas any more, at least not for anything important we can’t leave to the Yanks. Give it another decade and our armed forces will be best known for mincing around a medical tent in a third-world disaster zone along with a bunch of Norwegians, Belgians, and Latvians in green clothes. That being so, why not let women serve in the SAS? After all, Williamson got one thing right:

the impact they’ll make will be phenomenal

Indeed.

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Racism spotted, close all airspace

This story is causing a lot of handwringing:

A Ryanair passenger who racially abused an elderly woman sitting next to him on a plane may “get away with it”, a shadow transport minister said.

The man was filmed calling the 77 year-old victim an “ugly black bastard” and shouting “don’t talk to me in a foreign language you stupid ugly cow”.

The video pretty much captures what happened. If a crime was committed, why can they not prosecute?

Labour MP Karl Turner, a qualified barrister who was once Labour’s shadow attorney general, said Ryanair had ”failed spectacularly”.

“Ryanair failure to deplane the alleged racist offender, handing him over to the Spanish authorities probably means that he isn’t now prosecuted.

Would the Spanish have been interested in prosecuting a British man for racially abusing a fellow passenger? Is that even a crime in Spain?

“Suspect the pressure to turn this aircraft around quickly and get it airborne meant that they have allowed this alleged offender to remain on the aircraft,” said Mr Turner. ”He may now get away with it.”

Apparently racially abusing someone is now a crime so heinous aircraft should be grounded while the police are called to investigate. Never mind the inconvenience to the rest of the passengers and the knock-on effect on other flights coming in and out of Barcelona.

Now the man in the video is likely a pr*ck of the highest order and if he said stuff like this without serious provocation, he needs a good thrashing. But the situation is a little more complicated than the media is letting on. Ryanair had an opportunity to call the Spanish police to say a passenger is being unruly, but what would they have said? One passenger is yelling at another? Unless he’s presenting a security threat, I’m not sure the Spaniards would have been interested. Better for them to let the plane depart taking these assh*le Brits with them. So they couldn’t have got him arrested for security offences in Barcelona even if they’d wanted to, and now everyone’s complaining he’s not been arrested for racism. But it happened in Spain, and:

“Unfortunately because Ryanair is registered in Dublin not in the UK the alleged offence could only be tried by UK authorities if it was ‘in flight’ to the UK. Section 92(1) Civil Aviation Act s.92(4) defines ‘in flight’.

“If this incident had have happened on an alternative airline under ‘British Control’ or it was already ‘in flight’ to the UK the prosecuting authorities could have prosecuted.”

So the outrage is really that the rest of the world isn’t as interested in prosecuting Brits for being racist as the British police are.

Essex Police said they believed the incident had taken place at Barcelona Airport.

“Essex Police takes prejudice-based crime seriously and we want all incidents to be reported,” a spokeswoman said.

“We are working closely with Ryanair and the Spanish authorities on the investigation.”

The sole justification for the involvement of Essex Police is that the plane landed in Stansted. But when racism is the issue, the entire world apparently comes under their jurisdiction. I suspect the authorities in Barcelona didn’t even answer the phone when they called.

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