Saturday, 30 January 2010

Some old Ramsgate pictures and a few thoughts.

The picture is of the speed trials on Ramsgate’s western undercliff probably in the late 50s or early 60s.

One of my customers brought in a few pictures for me to scan and share with you all this week, well the main computer in the shop has reached the point where it needs reformatting and so some of them scanned so badly that they weren’t worth publishing, we are on to that now and hopefully they will all appear in high definition soon. Here is the link to the ones I managed to scan fairly ok http://www.michaelsbookshop.com/blogpicts110/id16.htm

Having spent yesterday mostly listening to Tony Blair and his failure to explain why he lied to the country, I am particularly annoyed about this as I voted Labour mostly on the basis that he seemed a decent and honest sort.

The thoughts that go through my mind are along the lines of, oh well Hitler didn’t actually invade Poland like we said he did.

Or perhaps the enquiry should have asked if he should the UK have joined the Americans in the Vietnam War.

To my mind the issues here are, was going to war legal and why did the government lie to us? I expect I am being naïve here but I can’t get out of my mind the fact that Blair is a trained lawyer and instead of answering the critical questions, he seems to be saying, that as he thinks the war was a good idea, the legal and truthful niceties are irrelevant.

I was talking to one of my occasional customers who works for local government in another area and he reckons his council are every bit as bad as TDC if not worse, I was interested in his general reflection about what he thinks is going wrong in local government.

What he said was something along the lines of; your average councillor stays in the job for what three years and your average officer about two and it really is now mostly about keeping all the balls in the air until their time is up.

He also said that there is little other choice for most officers who whish to retain some sort of career, as the jugglers far outnumber those genuinely trying to do a good job for the community.

9 comments:

  1. Michael, you’re well out of line with your comment about Tony Blair lying to the country. Not everything in life is as black and white as the text in one of your books.

    It should be noted that the chief legal authority in Britain stated the war was legal and 21 other countries were involved in the military action – presumably on the basis that it was legal. Maybe you consider the leaders of these countries to be liars as well.

    As Blair said, things look different with the benefit of hindsight. Thankfully we cannot apply the 20/20 vision of hindsight to the situation that would prevail if the invasion hadn’t have taken place.

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  2. Concerned, I supported him long after the war started telling a lot of my friends who were anti war, that if Tony said there were weapons of mass destruction then there were.

    So are you saying, A there were weapons of mass destruction, B Blair had been told that there were weapons of mass destruction and believed this or C he didn’t say there were weapons of mass destruction.

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  3. Michael

    TB's legal (and that is a vital word, I'm afraid) defence is that, to the best of his knowledge, the intelligence information presented to him meant that, on balance, the right decision was to engage Iraq.

    For him to have "lied" as you put it, would mean there would need to be *evidence* that he knew the 45-minute claim was untrue and also that he *intentionally* presented it as an untruth.

    Whilst he (or his advisors) may have chosen to believe intelligence that was debateable or unreliable, I have to say I have seen nothing, even in the most critical reporting, that has suggested deliberate, calculated deception of this kind. (And all those words matter. Deliberate. Calculated. Deception.)

    Now there *is* a case that the British and Americans may have chosen to selectively believe intelligence that suited their needs. But, let's be frank, that is the nature of such situations. In WWII, as you may well know, the British and Americans chose to not believe what we would now see as cast-iron intelligence from Denmark regarding the Nazi's Final Solution regarding the function and design of concentration camps. Another (bad) judgement, based on intelligence. But deliberate? If you think yes, can you *prove* it?

    The thing is, there is a vast difference between proving catastrophically wrong judgement calls and proving "lying". Those who would like politicians to answer for their mistakes might do better if they played the long, wise game not the short, strident emotive one. There is a far stronger case on the incompetence argument than the dishonesty one.

    Playing emotional cards is to play the legal game your opponents would prefer.

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  4. At the inquiry yesterday Tony Blair asked us to imagine what the world might have be like today if he had not helped to get rid of Sadam.

    Tony Blair was destiny politician. He has convinced himself that thanks to him the world today is a much safer place. Whether or not he has convinced others is another matter.

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  5. Michael
    Weapons were there just ask the Kurds and Iranians who died from gas, and the Israelis who were bombed with Scud missiles.

    Just as it can't be proved they were there. It cannot be proved that they were not there. For all we know they remain still hidden/secreted or moved conveniently over a border to a sympathetic country.

    The vast majority of experts thought he had weaponss of mass destruction and more importnatly they all knew that he hads used them already in 2 wars.

    So you would have ignored all that evidence and history?

    Having studied (albeit at a very low level) "international law" it is a nebulous concept. In this case "international law" was determined as being agreed by two non-democratic countries with histories of human rights abuse China and Russia.

    International law also requires that a country MUST intervene if they know that there are systematic ethnic killings/genocide. To our shame we failed Rwanda. That cannot be said about the Kurds and the Marsh Arabs.

    The world should be intervening now in Sudan where there are regular atrocities but in my opinion it is too frightened for the simplistic way Iraq has been interpreted politically, and not in terms of international law.

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  6. In answer to your question Michael my answer is B. Unless Blair went on a personal tour of Iraq he had no option but to believe what he was told, and if he was told more than one thing, as a world leader he had to make a judgement.

    Thank you Anonymous 15:36 and mnottingham for making my point more eloquently and in more detail than I did. I think perhaps Anonymous is still sitting on the fence, but I’m in full agreement with mnottingham’s points of view.

    I just wish we could rely on our leaders to intervene when humanity is threatened rather than just our national interests. As mnottingham stated, International law requires that a country MUST intervene if they know that there are systematic ethnic killings/genocide.

    I think an enquiry about Rwanda would be more appropriate than about Iraq.

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  7. If I may introduce a local aspect to this. At the time of George Galloway's "Anthem for doomed youth" freedom of expression warnings in the Commons, I raised the matter of Thor Chemicals in letters to the local press asking, if I recall, for Dr Ladyman to respond.

    There had been a documentary broadcast about "Red mercury" and the murder of Thor sales director Alan Kidger.

    We saw the documentary on TV in Wales but I am not sure that it was broadcast in South East.

    I sent a submission to the Chilcott Inquiry which has been acknowledged by the Committee. I was expecting, as in the Rosemary Nelson Inquiry to which I sent a submission, a wrangle first with the solicitor to inquiry re terms of reference.

    It seems to me that the terms of reference of Chilcott are not helpful. Rather like an inquest there is an immediacy of cause. An inquest considers circumstances leading to death but not "The circumstances which led to death"

    I think we must put conspiracy theory out of our minds. And think rather in terms of people building contingency cases. And that when it became expedient such a contingency was presented to Tony Blair as "The best intelligence".

    Someone said of Blair that he is not so much a liar as a person who constructs his own version of the truth. I think the same applies to the people who provided him the intelligence picture re WMD.

    I would like to see Chilcott look a way back. Back to when Dr Wouter Basson was in contact with Dr David Kelly at Porton Down in the 1980s. A time when Basson was also in touch with James Shortt a director of Special Training Services Ltd.

    And I think he should examine the circumstances in which Shortt was protected from inquiry. The devil is in such detail. Was there an unlawful police no go area placing some people above the law ? Even the minnows.

    Why was Thor's pollution history in Thanet concealed even longer than their pollution at Cato Ridge South Africa ? Why did it take FOI requests from me to expose the contaminations not just by Thor but also by Sericol ?

    Why did Dr David Kelly not get an inquest ? Why has evidence in his case been made secret for 70 years (the expiry of the period during which he is entitled to inquest)

    Why did Tony Blair and Jack Straw not comply with the UN MInnesota Protocol re the judicial inquiry into Dr Kelly's death ? This sets minimum standards of INDEPENDENT judicial inquiry into deaths where govt involvement is suspected. IE Govt cannot appoint a judge and give him terms of reference.

    And if you want to extend the argument why is the Iraq war inquiry not independent and judicial under the terms of the UN Minnesota Protocol ?

    Concerned .. there are other explanations why countries would not join in but 21 did. Those who kept out may have had their own intelligence ?

    The chief legal authority was pressed by the armed forces. He got Tony Blair to promise to put in writing that there had been a material breach. Only then would he give the armed forces an assurance. So in the end the Chief Legal Authority gave a decision based only on the promise of PM's assurance. Was that assurance a lie ?

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  8. Some unlawful police no go area details locally are about Deal Barracks.

    Brigadier Mike Harvey reported to MI5 in 1981 that unsuitable or dangerous right wingers were involved with Shortt's training courses run from 76 to 82 at Deal Barracks gym.

    We now know, letter from Minister of Defence, that Shortt did not have Crown authority to conduct military training.

    So we can say that the training was against the Unlawful Drilling Act 1819 which carried seven years prison for instructors and 2 years for trainees.

    Yet the law was not enforced. In 1982, according to his 13 page CV, Shortt met Tim Spicer (later Sandline and Aegis). Shortt became a director of Special Training Services Ltd.

    In 1997 Sir John Grugeon of Kent Police Authority called on Chief constable for inquiry and report about the use of Kent gun ranges and the history of security warnings about Deal Barracks and other matters.

    This was at a time Kent Police were conducting the Lawrence Inquiry for Jack Straw and seemingly singing the right notes (like not looking at gun running to the far right by extended members of certain suspects' families.

    The Chief constable failed to report to his police authority. The possible common ground between Lawrence and Deal Barracks security was not investigated.

    In 1999 Jack Straw Home Secretary refused to use his power to compel the report called for by Sir John Grugeon.

    With the development of Aegis as almost a private army the constitutional issue is reflected in the offences defined in the Unlawful Drilling Act 1819. Armed force, like the admin of justice, is under the Crown it cannot be privatized.

    So guess who listed the Unlawful Drilling Act 1819 for repeal.

    10/10 yes Jack Straw with his "Justice" minister hat on.

    In 1999, whilst refusing to reply to request to compel the report to Sir John's, Jack Strawand Co nonetheless sent Kent Chief constable David Phillips on to the Rosemary Nelson murder case in Ulster.

    The IRA (or SF) objected because of Phillips alleged role in the Get Stalker campaign. (IE That he was sent on a possible shoot to kill assassination when he had a history of getting at an officer in order to prevent full shhot to kill investigation)

    But I also objected. That he should not deploy on to the case till he had sorted out matters related to terrorism in Kent. 11 Royal Marineshaveequal rights to justice with Rosemary Nelson.

    Sir Ronnie Flanagan directed his Executor Officer Supt Maggie Hunter to phone the Home Office to expedite Jack Straw's response re compelling the report called for by Sir John.

    Straw refused to compel the report. Phillips was replaced on the Rosemary Nelson inquiry.

    I would say that Strawhas a history long before the decision to invadeIraq of protecting the unlawful police no go area I alluded to.

    And when the threat emerged that the history might receive back to 76 (touching on Kelly, Basson, Shortt, Thor and associates) investigation by press and individuals. Straw as Justice minister repealed the pertinent law.

    I don't buy that lawyers Blair and Straw were putty in the hands of Intelligence determining foreign policy.

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  9. Blair's pet bulldog

    Too little thought given to the post conflict troops requirements ?

    Maggie would have been so proud of Straw and Blair. Even she wouldn't have privatized the army function.

    But her son on the other hand ?

    Work to do.

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