We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Leadership in Elizabeth’s Britain

Recent testimony from a former Acting Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Craig Mackey indicates that he was present as one of his officers was stabbed to death during the Westminster Bridge attack, and sat in his car and locked the doors, and took advice from his subordinates as to what, if anything, to do. Holding, in an acting capacity, the most important policing role in the UK, he did not get out of the car, in which he was a passenger, to intervene, nor, AFAIK, did he suggest that the car be used as a weapon. Of course, it is much easier for any one of us to sit as armchair strategists as to what we might have done, but would we continue in office and look forward to collecting pensions had we been in Sir Craig’s unscuffed shoes?

Sir Craig told jurors it was his ‘instinct’ to get out of the car, but was in a short-sleeved shirt with no equipment following (a) ministerial meeting. ‘I was conscious my two colleagues were not police officers. If anyone had got out, the way this Masood was looking, anyone who got in his way would have been a target,’ he said. ‘I think anyone who came up against that individual would have faced serious, serious injury, if not death.’

He is right, PC Keith Palmer, an unarmed police officer, was murdered in front of the eyes of his then ultimate commander. An armed officer who was co-incidentally nearby was then able to shoot and kill the terrorist Khalid Masood. Presumably Sir Craig did not see it, on balance, as his responsibility to intervene.

The inquest… …heard that Sir Craig, then acting Scotland Yard chief, and his colleagues locked the car doors because they had ‘no protective equipment and no radio’.

Some have criticised Sir Craig, alleging cowardice. The Daily Mail highlights the contrast with a junior Transport Police officer who fought the London Bridge attackers.

So it’s not impossible these days to find brave people in public service, but what rises to the top? Is the process like flatulence in a bath?

In the last summer of George VI’s reign, a relatively junior RAF officer, Flt-Lt John Quinton DFC gave away the only parachute he had to save a young Air Cadet he was training at the cost of his life: The ultimate zenith of courage and leadership. I am reminded of a quote I read about being a Lieutenant in the (IIRC Imperial) German Army.

To live your life as a Lieutenant is to life your life as an example to your men. Dying as an example is thus part of it‘.

Grim, but accurate. In living memory, examples such as the Royal Navy destroyer Acasta, turning to face the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in June 1940, and earlier HMS Rawalpindi, whose Captain Kennedy reportedly announced, in the hope of delaying his attackers to let a larger force get them’We shall stand and fight them both, and we shall be sunk, and that will be that. Goodbye.‘. Chilling, but, in the overall scheme of things, better than surrendering and strengthening the enemy.

Sir Craig did what was, to him, undoubtedly the right thing, all his years of service and significant salary did not come with a payback clause, or if they did, it was binding in honour only. He did not breach health and safety law for himself or his companions.

Sir Craig did not take the substantive job of Commissioner, that went to the officer who managed the hunt for a terrorist that turned into the shooting of an innocent Brazilian electrician. This was found to be a crime, in terms of a breach of Health and Safety, but this was no bar to getting the top job, after all, it was a corporate failing, not anything that anyone was to be held responsible for.

Of course, in WW1, we had epic failures on land and sea that seemed to go unpunished. It’s just that these days, it seems almost to be too much to expect leadership by example from our public ‘servants’. What sort of descent has it been for the UK, when the Queen’s first Prime Minister was Churchill, and now it is May, with Corbyn waiting in the wings? Has this pattern set, or followed, the trend? If this trend is irreversible, surely the only answer is that this is yet another reason to reduce the public sector.

This is not terrorism

A bunch of lefty protesters are on trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Care ye not? You should. I have been banging on a lot about the degradation of norms of justice and law that had once seemed securely established. One particular aspect of these protesters’ trial is a disgrace. See if you can spot what it is:

Activists accused of blocking Stansted flight go on trial over terror charge

Fifteen activists who locked themselves together around an immigration removal charter flight to prevent its departure from Stansted and displayed a banner proclaiming “mass deportations kill” have gone on trial charged with a terrorist offence.

Jurors at Chelmsford crown court heard how the members of the campaign group End Deportations used lock-on devices to secure themselves around the Boeing 767, chartered by the Home Office, as it waited on the tarmac at the Essex airport to remove undocumented migrants to Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.

The activists have said they acted to prevent human rights abuses from taking place and have received high-profile political backing. However, they are accused of putting the safety of the airport and passengers at risk and causing serious disruption to international air travel. If convicted, they could face potential life imprisonment.

Oh, poot, I forgot to hide spoilers. Never mind. You’d have guessed it anyway. Come to think of it, the title of this post was a bit of a clue.

Protesters who mess around with airport security do not immediately gain my sympathy. Not only do they screw over blameless travellers, many of whom will have had to scrimp and save for their holiday, the prosecuting counsel made a decent point when he said,

“In order to deal with this incursion, a number of armed officers already at Stansted had to down-arm, thus reducing the capacity of police to carry out their duties at the terminal,” he said. “Had another major incident occurred at the terminal at the same time, the police resources able to respond to it would have been reduced.”

But to pretend that to give an (imaginary) terrorist attack that might have happened that day (but didn’t) an infinitesimally higher (but still purely theoretical) chance to succeed is terrorism … that is indecent.

Anyone else remember the expulsion of Walter Wolfgang from the Labour party conference in 2005? They chucked him out for heckling Jack Straw. Then it sunk in that he was old and emerged that he had come to this country as a Jewish refugee from Hitler, and Labour fell over themselves in their haste to apologise. I said at the time that I saw no reason why they should apologise for ejecting a heckler. The thing they needed to apologise for was far more serious than that:

Buried in the story and not, at first, attracting much comment was one thing that left me flabbergasted. For this Tony Blair and his entire government should get down on their knees and humbly beg forgiveness, swearing at the same time not to rest until the harm they have allowed to flourish is undone:

Police later used powers under the Terrorism Act to prevent Mr Wolfgang’s re-entry, but he was not arrested.

There was a wee fuss about the role of anti-terror powers against Wolfgang at the time, but the point about the blatant abuse of powers that we had been assured would only be used against dangerous fanatics out to commit mass murder was lost amid all the other issues. Because this tactic was not challenged strongly when it was first tried, it became widespread. We have reached a point where half of councils use anti-terror laws to spy on ‘bin crimes’. I don’t recall that possiblity being mentioned in the Parliamentary debates about the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

Now this bloated definition of terrorism threatens life imprisonment to people who are not terrorists.

South Yorkshire Police hard at work

“In addition to reporting hate crime, please report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing. Hate will not be tolerated in South Yorkshire. Report it and put a stop to it.#HateHurtsSY”

– a tweet from South Yorkshire Police yesterday, as reported by Westmonster.

Well, what are you waiting for? Here is the South Yorkshire Police contact form. It is interesting to see the sort of wrongdoing that has finally prompted South Yorkshire Police to take action. Lesser crimes such as these did not merit such proactive treatment.

To avoid confrontation

The Daily Mail reports,

Ex-wife of top chef Albert Roux is forced out of her £5m Chelsea home after scammers change the locks and start renting it out for £835-a-night online

The former wife of Michellin star chef Albert Roux has been advised to move out of her house after being tricked into renting out part of her £5million home.

A fake letting agency managed to convince Cheryl Roux, 61, to rent out the top two storeys of her mews house to a bogus tenant.

Since June, the three-bedroom property in Knightsbridge, west London, has been sub-let to as many as eight tenants at a time for a cost of £835 a night – with Ms Roux not getting a penny.

The locks have been changed on her £5million home and the rental scheme, which has been advertised on Airbnb and Zoopla, has forced Ms Roux to move out of the ground floor of her property.

Ms Roux said: ‘I’m clearly a victim of crime but the police do nothing and these crooks are still renting out my home.

‘They changed the locks so I couldn’t get in and nailed shut the garage doors. I’m at my wits’ end.’

Police told The Sun: ‘Once a property is let and there is a contract between two parties it is a matter for the civil court not the police if a dispute arises.’

And

Ms Roux said: ‘I’m clearly a victim of crime but the police do nothing and these crooks are still renting out my home.

‘They changed the locks so I couldn’t get in and nailed shut the garage doors. I’m at my wits’ end.’

Police told The Sun: ‘Once a property is let and there is a contract between two parties it is a matter for the civil court not the police if a dispute arises.’

I can envisage a libertarian legal system in which all disputes were civil disputes between the parties and the state had little or no role. That might be a fine thing, in Libertopia. But in the real UK of 2018 it looks to me like the police have failed once again to live up to their side of the bargain in which the people grant the police the right to to take the lead in enforcing the law and then don’t enforce the law.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the social scale, I cannot put it better than this post by Instapundit quoting another Daily Mail story:

YOU’LL SEE MORE OF THIS SORT OF THING IN LONDON, WHERE THE DULY CONSTITUTED AUTHORITIES ARE TOO BUSY POLICING MEMES ON TWITTERS TO DO THEIR ACTUAL JOBS: ‘That’s what happens when you bring ACID!’: Shocking moment ‘vigilantes’ beat man with a bat then pour milk on him while he cowers on London street after ‘spotting he had corrosive liquid.’

Tim Newman and Ezra Levant on the persecution of Tommy Robinson

If, like me, you are a Brit, then I recommend you depress yourself about Britain by reading Tim Newman’s posting entitled Tommy Robinson’s Appeal. (Although, if you are from some other part of the world, go ahead and depress yourself about Britain anyway.)

But what I really recommend is that you really depress yourself about the future of this country, by listening to something that Tim Newman recommends in this posting. It’s a recording of James Delingpole talking with Ezra Levant. Ezra Levant does most of the talking, and my goodness does he talk a storm. I hr 10 mins went by in a blink.

The more I learn about Tommy Robinson, the more I admire him.

The special costume shop

Things had been very boring in the rue de la Fête. Mr Benalla thought, “I think it is a good day to visit the special costume shop.” Inside the shop, as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared.

“Good morning sir,” he said. “Which costume would you like to try today?”

“That one with the visor, please,” said Mr Benalla. And he took the outfit into the fitting room. Inside the room, Mr Benalla changed into the outfit and then looked at himself in the mirror. “It looks a bit like a riot cop’s costume,” he thought. “Is that cool or what?” Then he went through the door – not the door back to the shop but the second door that could lead to an adventure!

*

So to prevent the immense coercive power of the state from being abused, said Hayek, we need to restrict its use to enforcing a strictly limited list of duties that we all accept and understand. Setting limits on how the state’s monopoly of force can be used at least spares us from arbitrary or growing coercion by other people who happen to be in authority.

Friedrich Hayek: The ideas and influence of the Libertarian Economist by Eamonn Butler

*

For those poor souls who did not grow up with tales of Mr Benn, this post refers to the extra-curricular activities of Alexandre Benalla, formerly a senior security officer for President Macron of France:

Emmanuel Macron faces the biggest crisis of his presidency over the growing scandal of one of his closest security officials who was filmed being allowed by police to violently assault a young man and woman at the edge of a Paris demonstration while illegally dressed as an officer.

That the French riot police beat people up is not news. That they allow well-connected civilians to put on a spare uniform and join in the fun was surprising. Then again, as George Atkisson says below, “The whole point of being well-connected and exempt from everyday rules is precisely to be allowed to indulge in one’s extra-legal whims without consequences.”

The 20th century saw the state getting bigger and bigger, and thus the citizen getting smaller and smaller

In NZ, the UK or Australia, one may own a rifle or shotgun, but it has to be locked in a cabinet when not in use. Thus, it is of no use for a sudden life or death situation. A twelve bore which is locked in a steel cabinet will not save you when you need it.

I must say I find it odd that in the UK, NZ and Oz it is legal to own guns for all reasons except self-defence, which is the most basic and obvious reason to own one. It was not always like this, but the 20th century saw the state getting bigger and bigger, and thus the citizen getting smaller and smaller.

The one part of the UK where ownership of a pistol for self-defence is still legal is Northern Ireland, but even that is for the convenience of the state. They found that builders, contractors and other suppliers of goods and services to the state were refusing to work for them any more, as they were targetted by the IRA. The only way the state could get its jobs done was to allow these people to own a pistol and a small amount of ammunition (25 rounds I believe). So there is no general right to be armed in self-defence even in NI, it is just something the state had to allow for its own survival.

The NI situation is something which is never talked about, however. About 10,000 people in a population of 1.5 million carry a pistol for self-defence. Carried across to the mainland, that would be 400,000 armed citizens. The powers that be don’t want the peons getting any ideas above their station.

JohnK making some very cogent points on Natalie’s article here on Samizdata.

Those awful Americans and their guns. Not like civilised New Zealanders.

The Times reports:

Online stalker who flew round the world shot by girl’s mother

A 25-year-old man who flew 9,000 miles from New Zealand to see an American teenager he had met online was shot by her mother as he was breaking into their house.

Troy Skinner was armed with a pocket knife, pepper spray and duct tape when he began battering doors and smashed a window at the family’s home, detectives in Virginia said. He was taken by air ambulance to hospital in a critical condition after being shot twice, once in the neck, but was expected to survive.

Sheriff James Agnew, of Goochland County, said: “The manner in which he attempted to enter that home in the face of a firearm pointed at him and the implements we recovered from him, the only inference is that he had very bad intent. He was not invited here, he was not expected here. He had been told the daughter no longer wished to communicate with him.”

Mr Skinner had struck up a relationship with the 14-year-old girl on a video gamers’ chat app called Discord about four months ago, the sheriff said. The app says that it is a place for people who “love playing games” to share “relationships, memories, and laughs”.

Mr Skinner decided to travel halfway across the world to see her when she tried to break things off. He had taken three flights and a long interstate bus trip to get to her house. “This was not random. This was not spontaneous. This was something very planned,” the sheriff said.

And

The mother told police that she was at home painting with her two teenage daughters when Mr Skinner came to the door. She refused to open it, but he then went around the back and tried to break down a rear door with a concrete block from their garden.

The girl’s mother warned him several times that she was armed with a handgun and she opened fire when he smashed a glass panel and started reaching inside to try to open it by the latch.

My apologies to readers from New Zealand. The sarcasm of my title was just a rhetorical device to make a particular point. Of course I am aware that this type of madman can arise in any country. The roles could easily be reversed, with an American obsessive armed with knife, pepper spray and duct tape trying to break into the house of a fourteen year old New Zealand girl.

Of course given that in New Zealand, as in the UK,

Gun licenses are issued at the discretion of the police in New Zealand provided the police consider the person to be of good standing and without criminal, psychiatric or drug issues as well as meeting other conditions such as having suitable storage facilities. To be issued, they must be issued for a valid reason, which may not include self defense.

…if this had taken place in New Zealand or the UK the mother would have had no gun and the girl would have been raped and murdered.

“If a nurse didn’t like you, you were a goner”

Remember the mockery that Sarah Palin got for her prediction that state health care might result in “Death panels”?

She was wrong about a few things. There is no need for a panel of bureaucrats to decide when it is time to stop treating old people and those with Downs syndrome. That can be done more conveniently by the doctors and nurses. And while we’re at it, why confine ourselves to stopping treatment? Would it not also reduce the burden on the NHS and its employees to become a bit more proactive and actively shorten these useless lives?

This article by Dominic Lawson about the Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal is one of the most powerful I have ever read.

Last week’s monstrously belated report on the Hampshire hospital’s treatment of its patients in the 1990s revealed that at least 450, and probably more than 650, had been killed — sorry, had had their lives shortened — as a result of a policy of attaching them to syringe drivers pumping diamorphine. Diamorphine is medically indicated only when the patient is either in the severest pain or terminally ill, because its notable side effect, when large doses are consistently administered, is respiratory failure. Injections of diamorphine — in 30mg doses — were Dr Harold Shipman’s chosen method of dispatching his patients. But the numbers at Gosport exceed the tally of Britain’s most prolific mass murderer.

You may be thinking, no need for that sort overblown rhetoric. Surely this is a case of misplaced mercy, of overdoing the pain relief? That is what I thought too. It is why I had not paid much attention to this story until now. More fool me. Read on:

The report, led by James Jones, the former Bishop of Liverpool, reveals that only 45% of those administered terminal quantities of diamorphine were said to be in pain. And in 29% of cases their medical notes give either no reason, or no comprehensible justification, for the lethal dose (most died within a couple of days of being attached to the pump).

(Emphasis added by me, as it is in all the excerpts I quote in this post.)

Even that is not the worst. Read on further:

The ones most likely to get the treatment appeared to be not the sickest, but the most “difficult”. As the stepson of one of the victims remarked: “If a nurse didn’t like you, you were a goner.” This was clear from the testimony of Pauline Spilka, an auxiliary nurse. After the local newspaper in 2001 reported the complaints by relatives of Gladys Richards, (whose life had been “shortened”), Spilka went to the police. In an interview with Detective Chief Inspector Ray Burt of the Hampshire constabulary, Spilka said: “It appeared to me then and more so now that euthanasia was practised by the nursing staff. I cannot offer an explanation as to why I did not challenge what I saw at that time . . . I feel incredibly guilty.”

Spilka was especially troubled by the fate of an 80-year-old patient (his name is redacted) whom she described as “mentally alert and capable of long conversations . . . able to walk . . . and to wash himself”. He was, however, “difficult”. She told the policeman that this patient was “always making demands” and that “I remember having a conversation with one of the other auxiliaries [Marion] . . . we agreed that if he wasn’t careful he would ‘talk himself onto a syringe driver’.”

So it came to pass: “One day I left work after my shift and he was his normal self. Upon returning to work the following day, I was shocked to find him on a syringe driver and unconscious. I was so shocked and angered by this that Marion and I went to confront the ward manager.” They were told to put a sock in it. Nursing auxiliaries are at the bottom of the chain, without any medical qualifications. What was their word worth, against that of the formidable (and formidably well connected) Dr Jane Barton

Whereas a word from Dr Jane Barton was literally enough to sentence a woman to death. Lawson continues:

Perhaps the most upsetting case — at least, as the father of an adult with Down’s syndrome, I found it so — was that of 78-year-old Ethel Thurston, admitted with a fractured femur. She was described in the report as having “learning difficulties [and] the mental capacity of a 10-year-old”, though she “once held down a job in a bank . . . and had been able to travel across London independently”. The nurses’ notes took a different tack: “Willing to feed herself only if she feels like it . . . her behaviour can be aggressive.”

On July 26, 1999, Dr Barton made her recommendation: “Please keep comfortable. I am happy for nursing staff to confirm death.” Happy? The following then appears in the nursing notes: “Syringe driver started diamorphine 90mg. Midazolam 20mg.” These huge doses were administered at 11.15am. At 7pm a nurse confirmed Miss Thurston’s death.

“Has the time come to do something?”

Ah, the eternal question. Retired circuit judge Nic Madge has taken to the august pages of the Times to ask it anew in a way fitting to this age.

Time to regulate the murder weapons in your kitchen drawer

Barely a day passes without news of another fatal stabbing or knife attack causing serious injury. For instance, in the past month in Wolverhampton 15-year-old Keelan Wilson died from multiple stab wounds. In Northampton 17-year-old Louis-Ryan Menezes was stabbed to death in broad daylight in a crowded street. In separate incidents in Sheffield a 15-year-old, a 19-year-old and an older man were found dying from stab wounds.

And so on for a depressing few paragraphs. If anyone had not known that violent crime persists despite the laws against it, they have no excuse for not knowing it now. He continues,

Much has been done to combat knife crime. Possession in a public place of an article with a blade or sharp point without a good reason carries a prison sentence of up to four years. Possession of blades or pointed items on school premises is a separate offence. Anyone convicted of a second knife offence faces a mandatory minimum custodial sentence.

Recently a new Sentencing Council guideline with tougher sentences for knife crime came into force. It is illegal to sell knives, axes or swords to anyone aged under 18. The police are taking steps to prevent internet sales to young people. In Bedfordshire many shops put such knives on shelves out of reach of customers. The police have made metal detecting arches available for schools. The police, youth offending service, schools and others are doing excellent educational and awareness work about the dangers of knife crime. The Metropolitan Police are piloting a deferred prosecution scheme for less serious offences.

So, how is this migthy wave of banning and sentencing and “excellent awareness work”-ing working in the other sense?

Yet these measures have almost no effect on the availability of knives to youths.

Oh.

A few of the blades carried are “Rambo” knives, “zombie” knives or samurai swords. These, though, are a minority. The vast majority are ordinary kitchen knives that are potential murder weapons. It is easy for any youth who wants a knife to take it from any kitchen drawer.

Why, though, do we need 8in or 10in kitchen knives with points? Butchers and fishmongers do, but how often does a domestic chef use the point of a knife that size? Yes, we need short knives with points to fillet fish or pierce meat, but they are less likely to be lethal. Any blade can cause an injury, but slash wounds from them are rarely fatal: the points of long knives cause life-threatening and fatal injuries.

Manufacturers, shops, the police, local authorities and the government should consider further regulating the sale of long, pointed knives. At the very least shops should sell alternatives with rounded ends. There have always been stabbings and always will be. The carrying and ready use of large, pointed knives has led to the increase in death and serious injury. Punches, kicks and attacks with blunt objects injure, but the results are less likely to be severe or fatal.

Young lives are needlessly being cut short. Those who survive knife attacks carry physical and psychological scars. The lives of families, communities, and not forgetting the young offenders who receive lengthy sentences on conviction, are blighted by the ready availability of such knives. Has the time come to do something?

Time for you to step back from the computer and have a relaxing hot bath to cure this fit of the vapours, m’lud.

Or maybe not. As a highly recommended Times comment by someone called “Erasure” puts it,

Next week: The Times makes a case for removing baths from homes;

“You just can’t be too careful, said an HSE spokeshuman….Baths are filled with water and if you have children in your home under the age of 4 then I’m afraid the danger is too great and the bath must go………….either that or the Council will remove your children from the appalling danger. I think that is a sensible and proportionate sanction and something that I am sure all sensible, well-educated and right-on families living in Islington are in agreement about”

This 1 weird trick will solve your crime problem

Knives are too sharp and filing them down is solution to soaring violent crime, judge says.

Samizdata feminist of the day

I give you Kaitlin Bennett from Ohio, as reported by BBC News:

As a woman, I refuse to be a victim & the second amendment ensures that I don’t have to be.

.@KentState puts up fliers in dorms w/ the stat that 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted in college, but denies women the right to protect themselves with their firearm. In 2016 KSU reported 3x as many rapes on campus than 2015. Stop letting women be victims. #CampusCarryNow

The 2nd amendment isn’t about hunting deer. It’s about being able to protect yourself from an out of control, tyrannical government.