Monthly Archives: July 2011

Against Ideology

Robert Henderson

By ideology I mean a set of ideas, religious or secular, to which an individual subscribes blindly regardless of the objective and testable truth of  the ideology or of any contradictions which it may contain.

It might be objected that men commonly display the same unquestioning attitude towards  much of their conscious thought. For example, human beings are generally  loth to give up what they have accepted as truth through the process of received opinion or that which has become comfortable through habit. Yet there is a clear difference between the ideologue’s  attachment to his systematic ideas and the desire of, say, a scientist to maintain that a scientific “fact” is fact after it has been shown to  be dubious or of someone who finds unreasonable the breach of a  custom without objective moral or intellectual content, for example, blowing  one’s nose in public in a society which considers that behaviour  insulting. The scientist merely wishes to defend a single  idea: the person insulted by a breach of custom merely wishes to prevent  the breach. Neither have a desire to control the lives of others  generally or claim that if this is believed or that behaviour observed, a catalogue of other things must also be believed or behaviours observed.

Except in the very rare instances of someone inventing a new ideology, either entirely or through a successful deformation of an existing ideology  – Marxism provides instances of both – the ideology is something which is external to the individual and which is accepted by the individual  as something which cannot be questioned, as a logically connected  or divinely revealed coherent system of thought.

For the true disciple  of an ideology it must be accepted in its entirety or not at all. The reality of all  ideologies is that they are incomplete descriptions of  the world at best and plain wrong at worst. Religious ideologies are either  ragbags of unsupported imperatives, for example, Christianity and  Islam, or, as is the case of Buddhism, a system of thought which has a specious appearance of rationality but which, even in its purest  form, is just as irrational because its logical arguments derive from unsupported  assertions such as the behaviour expected of those who are to  reach nirvana, a state as mythical as Heaven or Paradise.

Secular  ideologies, which include everything from humanism to Nazism,  have a greater appearance of rationality than the religious  because they do not, ostensibly at least, call upon the supernatural. Yet  in truth their supposed “objectivity” is far from real. Marxism is  undoubtedly the nearest any political ideology has come to creating  not merely a general intellectual explanation of how society works and  how it will work, but also a school of academic thought devoted to  it. Yet the supposed scientific truths of Marx have been shown  by the passing of time to be as fanciful as the claims that Christ came  to Earth to save Man or that the archangel Gabriel directly vouchsafed  the word of God to Mohammed. In fact, they have been even more comprehensively denied than the religions, because being rational in  form and concerned with observable behaviour in the world which men inhabit, Marx’s claims may be tested by experience. Religions by  their nature cannot be tested because they deal with that which either does  not exist or is beyond the perception of men, namely,the supernatural.

Most political ideologies  are not even intellectually coherent, let alone suited to  human society. There is, for example, no logical reason why socialism must be internationalist. Yet this is an obligatory tenet,  in words if not deeds, of all those who call themselves socialists.  In fact, all Governments which have adopted significant socialist  policies have, in practice, been nationalists. Even Stalin accepted  the idea, albeit supposedly temporary, of “Socialism  in one country”.

The contemporary ideological error is another form of internationalism,  that of Globalism. Here its disciples make the logical error of  thinking that the free trade of goods and services implies freedom of movement of labour. Manifestly it does not. Countries have, can,  and do, quite happily trade amongst themselves without  exchanging labour.

As to being suited to human society, both religious and political ideologies contain  that which is destructive of society. Most of the major religions  in their mainstream forms have  emphasised the better nature of  something other than human existence – always jam tomorrow. This has allowed  elites to maintain their abusive hold on the masses and bred fatalism and subordination on the part of the majority.

Religions have also frequently been obscurantist, afraid of new ideas and technologies. The deficiencies of  modern political ideologies fall into two broad camps. Those, such  as Marxism, entirely ignore the natural desire of human beings to utilise their natural and inherited advantages. Opposed to them are the ideologies which overly promote competition and ignore the social nature of Man. Either of these two camps may operate within an  internationalist frame. When they do, they ignore the most fundamental  social trait of Man, the tribal urge. Systems of thought which are incompatible  with basic human nature are inherently unstable and  dangerous because they cannot be long sustained yet cause great suffering in the attempt to impose them.

The general poison  of ideologies is that in the minds of adherents they sanction unlimited  immoral action against those who refuse to accept the  “truth” and “necessity” of this or that ideology. Hence, Christian heretics  are burned and Muslim apostates sentenced to death because God will  be displeased, while counter-revolutionaries in Soviet Russia were  executed as a danger to the proletarian revolution and the eventual ascent  to communist utopia.

Today we have liberal internationalist creed which as hardened into political correctness.  This is a literally totalitarian creed for it both impinges on  all aspects of social interaction and insist that there is only one “correct” view on any subject, namely, the pc one.  This means  natural and powerful resentment of what pc stands for are never addressed. The elite response – politicians, the mainstream media and academic “experts” – to the actions of Anders Breivik in Oslo demonstrates this mentality. They have not asked  whether the imposition and ever tightening grip of political correctness was in part at least responsible for his murderous onslaught, but to reach for the censor’s button and fade Breivik out of public debate even to the extent of not reporting Breivik’s testimony at his trial –  BBC Radio 5 reported 25 July (morning phone-in) that the Norwegian prosecutor of Breivik has asked that the trial be held in camera.  All this does is sweep the problem of the deracination of the masses in states controlled by the politically correct under the carpet for a while longer.  It is the classic mistake of ideologues who believe that people can be re-educated to think as the ideologues do. Human nature can hobbled for a while but not killed.

The sane, practical  and humane way to approach the question of how society is best governed  is to be pragmatic. Have clear ends to achieve but no  hidebound preconception of how it should be achieved because you are a  slave to a system of thought which says you must do this or that regardless of its utility.

The Spring Edition of the Quarterly Review is out

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Quarterly Review  Vol 5 . No 1 . Spring 2011

CONTENTS

Editorial Derek Turner Click here

Who owns the food chain? Julian Rose Click here

Lukács and Gramsci – curiously conservative radicals Geoffrey Partington

The promised planet

Frank Ellis on Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth? by Eric Kaufmann

Libya: a war of the womb Ilana Mercer

The disuniting States of America

Mark G. Brennan on Age of Fracture by Daniel Rodgers

Home schooling – an idea whose time has come? S. Jay Porter

The West in history

Michael H. Hart on Why the West Rules – For Now by Ian Morris

Jerusalem – the heavenly and profane city

Peter Stark on Jerusalem – The Biography by Simon Sebag Montefiore’s

Revolution, freeze-framed

Leslie Jones on Photography and Memory in Mexico: Icons of Revolution

by Andrea Noble

Replay: Ordet Luise Hemmer Pihl

Replay: The Man Who Knew Too Much Johanna Rhiannon Johnson

Second Reading: Hakluyt’s Voyages Derek Turner

Uncollected Folk Roy Kerridge on playing the blues

Taki Taki on men (and women)

Eggs Catharine Savage Brosman (poem)

On the terrace Niels Hav (poem)

The Oslo massacre and the treason of the liberals

The article at the bottom of this post – The treason of the liberals –  was published in Right Now! magazine in July 1995 (issue 8). It examines the reasons which led  Timothy McVeigh to  bomb the  Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995 .  I attributed the cause to the creation by white  liberal elites of circumstances which utterly alienated the white masses in whose interests they supposedly exercised power.  T

he permitting of the mass immigration of those who  by their nature could not or would not assimilate into white  European societies and their overseas offshoots such as the USA by itself undermined  national cohesion. If that was not damaging enough, the liberal elites used the upheaval wrought by mass immigration as a launch pad for what has become the rigid ideological creed we know as political correctness.  In the name of “anti-discrimination” all the old certainties were overturned: the dominance of the white population in white societies; the traditional place of the man; the distrust of  homosexual behaviour all went by the board.  The white male who was outside the liberal elite was left high and dry, constantly hemmed in with criticism and accusations about what was permissible.

To  enforce the new politically correctly regime the state became ever more intrusive and the white person, and especially the white male, found themselves ever more marginalised.  Whites became actively disadvantaged in ever sphere as far as it was in the power of governments to arrange this. Minority groups were given preference in employment (especially state employment) and  higher education; political parties and  corporate bodies rushed to ensure they could present a “diverse” face to the public and. To speak against this courted loss of employment or even jail.

At the same time Governments throughout the First World wrapped themselves ever more tightly in international treaties such as those of the UN, the WTO and the EU.  More and more was taken out of the hands of national governments. More and more liberal elites insisted they could not do anything other than the politically correct because it would breach a treaty or be illegal.  Democratic control was sucked from national politics.

It was in this context that McVeigh exploded his bomb.  His motives were ostensibly against Big Government, of the Federal US government exceeding its role in incidents such as the Waco Siege .  The question which was never properly answered was what could have turned a commonly held view in the USA  into  murderous intent within McVeigh. The most plausible reason is that he became alienated to the extent that he felt contempt for what his society had become and having lost his natural attachment to his society concluded that only violence would adequately express his anger and make those with power take note.

The Oslo attack on 22 July 2011 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/8655175/Oslo-explosion-live-coverage.html) which left at least 92 dead and others wounded appears to have been undertaken by one or more native Norwegians. As I write one man, Anders Behring Breivik, has been arrested as a suspect.  He is the classic Norseman. Anders Behring Breivik

If he is guilty , what created the state of mind which driove him to such extreme action? I would point the finger at the same causes as those which I believe created a Timothy McVeigh. Norwegian society, like the rest of Scandinavia, is a very  controlled society because political correctness has a vice-like grip there. Not only that, but Norway  has a  population of only a few million.    The country is still  more  homogeneous than many first world states,  but there are sizeable minorities (http://www.joshuaproject.net/countries.php?rog3=NO) and small  populations are vulnerable to rapid conquest by mass immigration in way in which large populations are not.  100,000 in a population of 5 million such as Norway is very differentb to 100,000 in a population of 50m million.  The perpretrator(s) of  the Oslo killings, if they are native Norwegians,  had probably reached the state of mind I attribute to McVeigh. Riobert henderson 23 July 2011

———————————————-

The treason of the liberals

Robert Henderson

If it is proved that the Oklahoma bombing was the work of white, un-hyphenated Americans, the act may be a harbinger of a growing general rage at the depredations, both moral and material, made on the mass of their respective publics by liberal elites throughout the western world.

For more than half a century these elites have acted  ruthlessly to enforce an ideology which is utterly at odds  with human nature and doomed by its very tenets to produce,  in the course of a generation or two, immense social ills  which, because of the liberal mentality, are incompetently  addressed by ever more bad, inequitable and restrictive  laws and increasingly burdensome government.

During their period of ascendency liberals have acted  consistently and maliciously against the interests of those  who form the social bedrock of their various nations.

Throughout the western world, if you are white, male and  indubitably attached by birth and upbringing to your country  and culture, watch out buster because your politicians,  laws, legal system, bureaucracy, educationalists and the mass media are energetically opposed to your interests. In particular, if you happen to be an instinctive white patriot in what might loosely be termed the Anglo-Saxon cultures – Britain, the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – then God help you because your own ruling class most certainly will not.

How have liberals brought the West to this unhappy state? By  granting legal and de facto privileges to particular races,  cultures and women; by an incessant denigration through the  media, education and politics of the culture and values of  their majority populations; by the remorseless promotion of  multiculturalism; by the crippling of public education through the use of “progressive” educational theory to indoctrinate teachers with impractical and inherently destructive teaching practices and ideas which emphasise rights above duties and actively disparage the acquisition  of knowledge and intellectual competence; by the promotion of supranational bodies such as the UN at the expense of the nation (what a wonderful toy for every malevolent dictator is  the UN); by, above all, the celebration of pseudo-victims – the unable, the unskilled, the uneducated, the stupid, the  feckless, the idle, the gratuitously violent, the amoral, the society hating – at the expense of the skilled, the able, the  educated, the honest, the moral, the self-supporting, the  self-respecting, the peaceable, the patriotic.

The task of the liberal has been greatly eased, particularly in those countries which previously enjoyed great racial and cultural homogeneity, by both a deliberate dilution of the majority populations through immigration policies which discriminate against those settlers who would most easily integrate into the cultural mainstream and by a refusal to enforce effective measures against illegal immigrants, who  are overwhelmingly drawn from those peoples which are most alien to the traditions of the majority populations of the recipient countries. These actions of commission and omission have a happy consequence for the liberal elite for once an  immigrant group reaches a good size – say 50,000 – it becomes virtually impossible for any government with any pretensions to maintaining personal freedoms and equality before the  law to enforce a meaningful immigration policy towards that group because by then it represents a very real threat, both in terms of its ability to pursue legal action against the government on behalf of thwarted immigrants and by an ever present threat of disorder ranging from rowdy demonstrations to calculated violence. The term fifth column is used disparagingly by liberals but that is what any sizeable immigrant group which cannot or will not integrate necessarily becomes. The whole business is made more certain  by the widespread liberal control of the mass media.

In their results the effects of the liberal elites’  immigration policies are indistinguishable from treason because mass immigration which results in the formation of  ghettoes – and mass immigration of particular racial and cultural groups invariably creates ghettoes – is equivalent to settlement by conquest accompanied by an ethnic cleansing of the original inhabitants. It is in fact conquest by other means. The full enormity of these immigration policies can be seen if we pose a question: suppose a government agreed  to cede – without any threat whatsoever from a foreign power – part of its territory whilst leaving the inhabitants of  that territory utterly to the mercies of a foreign power, what would it be reasonable to call such an act? I suggest the most high treason as the only appropriate phrase. If immigrant groups are fifth columnists, the liberal elites represent a sixth column.

In truth, modern liberalism is a crude fantasy built on the absurd premise that men are essentially the same and may live in harmony regardless of massive differences in culture and  Man’s innate tribalism. That much beloved liberal ideal – the multicultural, multiracial society – is a literal nonsense. Without a shared culture and instinctive sense of identity you have no more than an empire, which is essentially series of competing national ghettoes. The multiracial state is a practical possibility: a multiracial nation a contradiction in terms.

I said at the beginning that the liberal elites act maliciously. Perhaps it might be better to say that they act  as every selfish aristocracy has acted since time began: their natural instinct is to ignore the interests of the mass of those they rule. Concerned only with the satisfaction of their own desires; always confident that they may escape the unpleasant consequences of their actions -which the poor are forced to bear – by their wealth, social position and political power; protected from frequent, powerful and coherent criticism through their control of the mass media; emotionally bolstered by hyperbolically false claims to a moral superiority; always able to browbeat and control political opponents by either excluding them from the media  or by turning them into “useful idiots” who are allowed just enough exposure to permit the liberal media to claim, at  least to its own satisfaction, that it is “balanced”. They are become as replete with stupid arrogance as the later  Bourbons, the stench of their gross hypocrisy matched only  by the rankness of their moral humbug, humbug which is epitomised so sweetly in Clinton’s words after the bombing:  “We still will have freedom of speech, we’ll have freedom of association, we’ll have freedom of movement, but we may have to have some discipline in doing it so we can go after people  who want to destroy our very way of life. (Translation: we will curtail all these activities, as far as the Supreme Court will allow us, for those people of whom liberals disapprove.

Thank your lucky stars, Americans, that you have  a constitutional right to freedom of expression and the bearing of arms. Without those bulwarks, the liberal triumph in America would be near complete and unassailable because of the absence of disciplined national political parties). And don’t you just love that “people who want to destroy our way  of life” from a man who supports an ideology and practices which are all about doing precisely that for the majority of  Americans?

Perhaps the Oklahoma bombing is the first sign that the majority populations of the West are close to rebellion. In Britain and the continent of Europe the immediate catalyst  to revolt will be the still untrammelled arrogance of the  various national liberal elites who have made not merely common cause in their sympathies, but created a commonalty of formal power within the ever more oppressive and expensive European Union. In the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, the first engine of change will be provincial revolt against national governments. But all western peoples will be driven by the same basic ills: an arrogant, selfish and incompetent ruling elite, patently unfair laws and systems of justice, overburdensome government, frighteningly high taxation, privileges granted to minorities and, most fundamental and intractable, the creation, by selective immigration policies (official and unofficial) and the promotion of multiculturalism, of countries which are no longer nations but empires. Of all the cruelties inflicted upon the masses by liberals, the denial of the security of racial and cultural homogeneity is the greatest for without that a nation’s privacy is lost. It is this sense of belonging, this tribal feeling, which liberals have fractured.

Terrible as the death of those in Oklahoma City was, let it serve as a warning shot to the liberal elites to abdicate and as a beacon to draw those who have seen the strange perverted political creed that is modern liberalism in its true lights into the legitimate political process. If the bombing had been undertaken by, say, negro political activists, the American liberal elite would be in paroxysms  of the exquisite self-indulgent self-hatred from which the liberal obtains so much joy. Loud would be the cries for “dialogue” with the “Afro-American community”. Lavish would be the calls for financial redress of their “grievances”, which in a manner unknown to moral philosophers date back to generations long since dead and whose burdens of atonement  fall upon the shoulders of the blameless. How much more cause is there to bring into the political process those who are instinctive American patriots?

Will the lesson of Oklahoma City be learned? Probably not for ruling elites of any political colour rarely if ever hold up their hands at the first sound of gunfire. Moreover, the power of the modern state is immense. I fear we are in for much further grisly violence before the lesson is learned through that most wonderful of political teachers, fear. But eventually liberalism will fail because it is an unnatural system of government. Then the liberals will do as the Nazis did in 1945 and the Communists in 1990, lie low with their spoils whilst trimming their sails to the new ideological wind and trying to pretend that the immediate past was not their child. But they will not change their spots. Those who take their places in the political process must remain ever vigilant.

The complete “The wages of Scottish Independence”

I have  completed a  series on the implications of Scottish  independence in the Calling England blog. They cover all the important ground
relating to the question:

In
the matter of Scottish independence, the British political elite and the
Scottish Numpty Party (SNP) are flatly  ignoring the interests of the English,
Welsh and Northern Irish.  This is unreasonable for two reasons: firstly, the
granting of independence to … Continue reading →

The wages of Scottish independence – If Parliament says NO

Whether
or not Scotland would vote for independence is debatable.  Polls consistently
show a majority against, although there are always a substantial number of
“don’t knows”.  In a  referendum held only in Scotland with the YES campaign
headed by the … Continue reading →

 

Geographically
Scotland is very isolated. It is a stranded at the top of mainland Britain with
a single land border with England.  Any goods or people coming and going to
Scotland have a choice of independent access by air and … Continue reading →

The wages of Scottish independence – a divided country

The
divided country is not the UK but Scotland. Its divisions are cultural,
geographical, religious, demographic and racial. Demographically Scotland is a
most peculiar place. It has a population estimated at 5.2 million in 2010
(http://www.scotland.org/facts/population/) set in an area … Continue reading →

The wages of Scottish independence – membership of the EU

The
Scottish Numpty Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond has a dream; well, more of an
adolescent  fantasy really. He imagines that an independent  Scotland  would
immediately be embraced enthusiastically by the EU. In the more heroically
bonkers versions of the fantasy, … Continue reading →

The wages of Scottish independence – The monarchy

The
Scottish Numpty Party (SNP) has committed itself to the Queen being Scotland’s
head of state should independence occur.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/wintour-and-watt/2011/may/25/alexsalmond-queen).

As with so much of the SNP policy towards independence this presumes something
which is far from self-evident, namely, that …Continue reading →

The wages of Scottish independence – immigration

The
Scots Numpty Party (SNP) fondly  imagines that  an independent Scotland would
continue to have free access to England. They recklessly  assume Scotland’s
position would be akin to that of the Republic of Ireland. However, that
assumption rests on   a …Continue reading →

The wages of Scottish independence – Public Debt

One
thing is certain about an independent Scotland: it would begin life with a
massive national debt. Exactly how much is problematic because  the Scottish
referendum on independence will probably not be held until 2015. The Scots
Numpty Party (SNP) …Continue reading →

The wages of Scottish independence – the currency problem

The
most problematic  decision for an independent Scotland is the currency.  There
are three choices: to keep using the pound, join the Euro or create their own
currency.   If they choose the pound or Euro they will not be truly … Continue reading →

One
of the most complex aspects  of disentangling Scotland from the rest of the UK
should  Scotland become independent is defence.   It is complex because of  (1)
the siting of the Trident submarines and other major ships at Faslane; (2)
Continue reading →

The wages of Scottish independence – public sector employment

One
of the many major issues which an independent Scotland would have to address is
the extent to which the Scottish economy is  dependent on public spending and in
particular the number of public sector jobs which would be  moved … Continue reading →

These posts also address the
same subject:

The
Scots Numpty Party (SNP) bases its case for the viability of Scotland’s
independence  on the idea that wicked England has been “stealin’ ouir oil” and
that  if only they had control of the tax revenues from UK oil and gas … Continue reading →

Make sure the costs of Scottish independence get into  the media

The
letter  below was published in the Times 10 May 2011. It is extremely important
that the debate on independence for Scotland  is conducted on the basis that
Scotland will not be allowed to walk away from the financial obligations … Continue reading →

Scottish independence? Yes, but only on these terms

The
Scots Numpty Party (SNP) has managed to defeat the  attempts of the unionists
who deliberately devised the electoral system to thwart single party government
(and hence leave independence off the practical political agenda) and get a
majority in Scotland.  The …Continue reading →

Too big to bail-out? Spain and the future of the Eurozone

Open Europe  and FAES panel debate 11 July 2011,  Bishopsgate meeting room, Liverpool Street.

Chaired by Matts Person, Director of Open Europe

Panel

Alvaro Nadal Spanish MP (Secretary of Economy and Employment of Partido Popular)

Vick Ford MEP (East of England)

Anonio Garcia Pascual  (Chief Southern European Economist, Barclays Capital, ex-IMF)

David Oakley (Capital Markets Correspondent, Financial Times)

Megan Green (Eurozone Economist)

The panel members spoke for an hour or so to open the meeting.  All the panel members bar Megan Green showed a remarkable lack of concern for anything other than the preservation of the Euro (and by extension the EU) at all costs and hang the consequences for the masses. Green, who had recently been in Athens and seen the growing anarchy fuelled by the rage of the Greek have-nots (a rapidly expanding part of the population) went as far as raising the possibility of civil war if the present demands being made on the Greeks were not abated.

The rest of the panel simply peddled the economic advantages of the Euro, yes, I did say advantages, and the dire consequences if the Euro was not preserved.

Nadal trotted out the line that “You cannot have a single market without a single currency” as though this was explanation enough for its continuance and then  claimed that the Euro had brought “8 million new jobs to Spain” of which six million remained even after the economic toils they are now in. This Nadal thought was a most tremendous boon, although he rather marred the picture of a contented Spain by saying that three million of the jobs had gone to immigrants. (One imagines the hombre in the calle  has a rather different view of the joy of diversity which comes with 3 million immigrants).

Vicky Ford said nothing much and said it very well, but it was clear she saw the present situation as a chance to engage in “market reforms” (translation: reduce social provision and make employment insecure). So did Pascual who, as might be expected from an old IMF apparatchik, appeared to see society as no more than a series of economic relationships.

The Greeks would have been most surprised to hear from Oakley that the Euro had been good for them and the Germans might have cocked more than an eyebrow to learn that it was in their interest to continue bailing out the likes of Greece, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland and any other of the Eurozone who became the economically halt and lame.  The latter  judgement was based on the premise that the Euro had made German exports more competitive because the Euro’s value against other currencies was lower than  what an independent German Mark would have been. This ignores two rather contrary facts, namely, that Germany with the Mark was remarkably competitive internationally (even with the burden of a newly absorbed East Germany) and the amounts Germany stand to lose if they keep  propping up the Euro lame duck economies are so colossal  they would dwarf any benefit gained from the
Euro’s lower exchange rate.

When Matt Persson called for questions, he used the old chairman’s controlling trick of saying he would take two or three at a time then get the panel to comment. This allows awkward questions to be ignored with a fair chance that most of the audience will not notice. Sure enough it happened.

The first questioner was that well known opponent of the EU and campaigner on other causes Idris Francis. The second questioner was me.

Idris attacked the idea of the Euro as a doomed enterprise from the start and ended by pointing out that not one of the speakers had adequately addressed the question of the effects on most people. In a note on the meeting he distributed afterwards he paraphrased his words at the meeting as :

“Do you really believe that millions of Greek people are going to accept that they have to live in poverty for decades to come, to pay 15%, 17%, 20% interest on enormous debts that they can never repay – and pay the money to wealthy banks?”

“Do you seriously believe that millions if Irish will do the same? In recent times people started flooding in to Ireland – now they are leaving again in their droves. Who in his right mind with ambition for a decent life will start where the only prospect is of permanent poverty? They won’t do it.”

“Its all over, its finished, stop pretending.”’

I then put my question, but engaged in a little preamble. I said that I not only hoped Spain was not to big too fail,  but that it failed and brought the rotten edifice of the EU down around it. I added that the creation of the Euro was an act of criminal recklessness because it was obvious before it was created that it would not be sustainable because of the widely differing Eurozone economies. Finally, I pointed out that we were being asked to allow the people who had led the EU to its present pretty pass to carry on occupying the positions of power. I  then put my question “Why should we trust those who have created the mess to clear up the mess? “

When the panel  were called to  comment they made some attempt to answer the question of why the masses in the Euro states in financial trouble should be expected to bear the  deprivations – Nadal in particular suddenly became dreadfully  concerned about “the people”, doubtless because he realised that his opening comments which paid no heed to the ordinary Spaniard would not have gone down well in Spain.  However, as he was still saying what a wonderful thing the Euro had been for Spain, it was difficult to take his “concern” seriously.

There was no  attempt to answer my question. Nor did Persson ask them to speak on it  when they failed to address it off their own bat. This was unsurprising because the question is the most difficult one Europhiles face, for there is no  rational reason why those who have shown themselves to be at best grotesquely incompetent and at worst ideologues blind to anything but their creed should be allowed to continue in office  and every reason to remove them from any position of power and influence.

After the panelists had spoken, Persson  called for more questions but added that Eurosceptic speakers  should keep their remarks brief. He made no such request of Europhiles. I will leave readers to  judge his motive for this imbalance.

The rest of the meeting saw a gradual shift from the unselfconscious “forget there  are real people involved” attitude they began with, but it was all for show because with the exception of Greene, they  still cleaved to the idea that when shove came to push  the EU and the Euro must continue at any cost.  However, when Persson ended the meeting by asking how the panel thought the Eurozone would look in 2014 there was a reluctant majority amongst them who thought it would be smaller.

The PCC’s refusal in 2003 to investigate Rebekah Wade for paying police bribes

16-March 2003

Prof Robert Pinker

Acting  Chairman

Press Complaints Commission

1 Salisbury Square

London EC4Y 8AE

cc  Rt Hon Gerald Kaufman MP,   Frank Doran MP,  John Thurso MP ,  Rosemary McKenna MP,  Alan Keen MP,  Derek Wyatt MP,  Debra Shipley MP,  Chris Bryant MP, Julie Kirkbride MP,   Michael Fabricant MP,  Adrian Flook MP, Presswise

Dear Professor Pinker,

The payment of money to police for information

On  11 March 2003,  the editor of the Sun newspaper,  Rebekah Wade, admitted before the Culture,  Media and Sport  Commons Select Committee that while she had been an  editor with News International  she had paid police officers for  information. The information was given in answer to a direct question from the  Labour MP,  Chris Bryant. I enclose a  Daily  Telegraph report  dated 14  March 2003 which contains details  of  Miss Wade’s  admission.  I was there in person when she  made the  admission.

By  paying police officers  for information,  not only  does  the police  officer  commit a criminal offence under  the  Public  Bodies Corruption  Act  1889 (as  amended   by the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1916) in receiving the  money  or other material inducement,  so does the person paying  the  bribe.  Anyone of normal intelligence will  realise  that  bribing police officers is illegal.

In addition,  all police officers sign the Official  Secrets Act (OSA).   They   commit a  criminal  act by  supplying  information covered by the OSA.  Any information relating  to   police work will be covered.  Similarly, a person  receiving  information where they know the supplier is in breach of  the  OSA by  supplying it  commits an offence by  receiving the information.  Both formal training courses for  journalists and the various books designed to instruct journalists in the relevant areas of the  law cover the OSA’s  implications for journalists.   Journalists will consequently know that police officers have signed the OSA and be aware of the implications for  themselves  of   receiving information   from   police officers.  Even  if no money changes hands, the  journalist still breaks the law if he knows he is receiving  information from someone who has signed the OSA.

The PCC’s Code of Practice states in its preamble that  “All members  of  the press have a duty to  maintain  the highest professional  and  ethical  standards…”    Clearly bribing  police officers and receiving illicit information from them does not come  under the heading of “the highest professional  and ethical standards…”    No public interest  defence  is  contained within the Code for this general duty.

The PCC   Code  article 7.1 states  Journalists should  not  generally  obtain or seek to obtain information  or pictures through  misrepresentation  or  subterfuge.”   Clearly the  bribing of police  officers comes  under the  heading  of subterfuge.  There is a public interest defence to the use of  subterfuge, but  clearly  corrupting police  officers and  committing  serious  criminal offences can never come  under that heading.

The PCC Code article 9 states “Payment or offers of  payment  for articles,  pictures or information should  not be made  directly  or through  agents  to witnesses  or   potential witnesses in current or criminal proceedings or  to people engaged in crimeor  their associates–  which  includes family,  friends, neighbours and colleagues  — except where  the material concerned ought to be published in  the public  interest and the payment is necessary for this to be done.”

Clearly,  any police officer is likely to be  a  potential witness  if he  or  she  has  access  to readily  saleable  confidential material,  because otherwise they would not have  easy access to it.  That applies particularly to documents or  computer files.  Hence, the public interest is unlikely to be  served  by accepting any information from a police  officer because  the chances are that it will  compromise a criminal investigation.

I ask you to investigate Miss Wade’s admission of  criminal  behaviour  under the various heads described  above, namely,  the general ethical imperative and   articles 7 and 9.

I also enclose a letter from the Mirror editor Piers  Morgan  to the PCC dated 16 Oct 1997.  This contains an admission of  the Mirror  receiving information  illegitimately  from the police.    The PCC has previously refused to investigate this  admission.  I ask you to do so now.  Doubtless, you will  be  happy to  supply  me with an explanation  for the  original refusal which I can pass onto the  select committee.

In view of  the Culture, Media   Select  Committee’s  interest,  I am  sure that you will wish  to begin  a  most thorough investigation immediately and to give the matter all  priority.

Copies  of this letter have been sent to every member of  the  select committee.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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Press Complaints Commission

From the Deputy Director

31 March 2003

Robert Henderson Esq

Dear Mr Henderson,

Thank you for your letter of 16th March.

Much of it seems to be concerned with allegations which, if true, would be criminal matters. The PCC is not charged with  investigating alleged breaches of the law. That is a matter for the police.

Regarding your other point about the Daily Mirror,  you do not seem  to provide  any grounds for the PCC to re-open its file on  this matter, which  is  now of course several years old and which has  in  any  case already been put to the Commission for a decision on whether or not to investigate it.

Yours sincerely

Tim Toulmin

1  Salisbury Square London EC4Y 8JB Telephone  020 7353  1248  Facsimile  020 7353 8355

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2 April  2003

Prof Robert Pinker

Acting Chairman

Press Complaints Commission

1 Salisbury Square

London EC4Y 8AE

cc  Rt Hon Gerald Kaufman MP,   Frank Doran MP,  John Thurso MP,  Rosemary McKenna MP,  Alan Keen MP,  Derek Wyatt MP,  Debra Shipley MP,  Chris Bryant MP, Julie Kirkbride MP,   Michael Fabricant MP,  Adrian Flook MP, Presswise,   Sir Harry Roche (Pressbof)

Dear Professor Pinker,

The payment of money to police for information

Nick  Toulmin has replied on your behalf  to my letter of  16  March.   I am afraid Mr Toulmin’s reasons for failing to act in the cases of Rebekah Wade and Piers Morgan literally  make      no sense.

Mr Toulmin  rejects the idea  of  investigating  allegations which would criminal offences if true on the ground that they  are ” a matter for the police”.  This repeats the  position taken by the PCC before the Media, Culture and Sport select  committee (CMS) on 25 March, evidence which I witnessed.

During  that evidence,  Mr Black claimed that the PCC  could not act where the complaint involved criminal issues.   This   is untrue.  My complaints to the PCC in both 1995 and 1997 involved   illegal behaviour,  including   criminal  libel,  incitement  to violence  against me,  incitement to  racial  hatred against me and   assault. At no point did the PCC say they could not act on my complaints because of the  criminal  actions.

More fundamentally the PCC Code of Practice itself makes  it  clear that matters which are potentially criminal  acts can be adjudicated  by  the PCC.  Clauses  1, 7,    raise  the  possibility  of criminal libel.  Clauses 4, 8, 10  and  12  concern behaviour which  could be the subject of a  complaint under the Harassment Act, a complaint of  criminal trespass  or action for a breach of the peace.   Clause 5  forbids  the  interception  of private telephone calls,  ie phone tapping,  which is illegal under any circumstances when committed by  a  private  individual. Clause  13  complaints  could  concern  breaches of  the sub judice rules or be a contempt of  court.  Clause  15 could  concern  breaches of  the  various  Race Relations legislation.  Clause 16 could involve a  series of  offences  ranging from  fraud to obtaining  money by  false pretences.

All this   being  so,  I ask the  PCC  to proceed  with  an   investigation of Rebekah Wade’s admission of paying policemen  for information.

As for Piers Morgan,  the fact that my original complaint was not acted upon by the PCC says everything about the PCC  and nothing  about the strength of the complaint.  You  have  a letter from Morgan (addressed to the PCC) in which he  admits  receiving information illegitimately from the police.  I  ask you to both investigate the complaint now and explain why  it was not investigated originally.

Civil redress

Mr Black also claimed during his evidence to the  CMS  that  the PCC would not act where civil action was a possibility to  gain redress  for  the complainant.  Again, in both  my complaints  in 1995 and 1997 and in my further  complaint in  2000 against the Observer journalist Nick Cohen of  obtaining  valuable  information by subterfuge,  there were clear  legal options had  I had the money to take them.

In both  1995 and 1997 there were gross libels  of  me. For  example,  the 13  March 1997 Mirror story  (see folio  15)   completely   fabricated this quote which they  attributed to me: “If he [Blair]  gets elected he’ll let in all the blacks  and Asians”, – see folio 15 – and falsely claimed that  my  letters  to the Blairs were “…full of racist filth”  In addition,  I had the option of  actions for malicious falsehood   and the obtaining of valuable documents by false pretences.   It  was   never suggested  that  my complaints  would  be disallowed because of I had these theoretical options.

As with criminal matters,  the PCC Code undermines the claim  that cases  cannot  be accepted. Clauses  1,3  and 7  will  probably involve defamation – clause 2 also has a bearing  if  no opportunity for reply is given.  Clauses  4, 5, 8, 10, 12,  13, 14,  15 and 16  could all be the subject of tort actions   and/or applications for injunctions.

Please   explain to me why Mr Black was allowed to  make his obviously false claims to the CMS  without contradiction from  the other PCC representatives.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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28 April 2003

Prof Robert Pinker

Acting  Chairman

Press Complaints Commission

1 Salisbury Square

London EC4Y 8AE

cc  Rt Hon Gerald Kaufman MP,   Frank Doran MP,  John Thurso MP ,  Rosemary McKenna MP,  Alan Keen MP,  Derek Wyatt MP,  Debra Shipley MP,  Chris Bryant MP, Julie Kirkbride MP,   Michael Fabricant MP,  Adrian Flook MP, Presswise,   Sir Harry Roche (Pressbof)

Dear Professor Pinker,

I am  still waiting for a reply to y letter of  2nd  April.  Please reply by return

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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12 May  2003

Sir Christopher Meyer

Chairman

Press Complaints Commission

1 Salisbury Square

London EC4Y 8AE

cc  Rt Hon Gerald Kaufman MP,   Frank Doran MP,  John Thurso MP ,  Rosemary McKenna MP,  Alan Keen MP,  Derek Wyatt MP,  Debra Shipley MP,  Chris Bryant MP, Julie Kirkbride MP,   Michael Fabricant MP,  Adrian Flook MP, Presswise,   Sir Harry Roche (Pressbof)

Dear Sir Christopher,

You will  find two letters enclosed which are  addressed  to  Prof  Pinker  and  dated 2nd and 28  April. They  have  gone  unanswered.

The letters concern (1) evidence given by Guy  Black before the Culture Media and Sport Commons select committee and  (2)  the  question  of  information obtained  by  the press by illegitimate means from  the police with particular reference  to admissions  of such behaviour by Rebekah Wade  and  Piers Morgan.

This stupidly arrogant failure to address matters which  are  both serious and of general public interest is all of a  part with the general PCC behaviour when confronted with difficult issues. It is one of the prime reasons why the PCC is held in contempt  by most people who have ever used it – I write as a  three time user.

As the incoming chairman you have the very great  luxury of a  fresh start.  I urge you to use that luxury to signal a  new  ethos for the PCC by  acting upon my letters by answering the points I raise about Mr Black’s evidence before the committee  and by instigating investigations of Wade and Morgan.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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From the Deputy Director

12 May 2003

Robert Henderson Esq

Dear Mr Henderson,

Thank you for your letter of 28th April to the former Acting Chairman.

Professor Pinker left the post on 30th March.

The position regarding yqur complaint against the Daily Mirror  remains the  same as far as I can tell.  You have provided no reasons  why the Commission should look again at a matter that is several years old  and that the Commission has already decided not to pursue.

It also remains the case that the matter of payments to police officers is  something  for  the police themselves to investigate.  It is not something that is covered by the Code at the moment. There may be areas of  the Code  where there is a theoretical overlap  with   the law  – although  in  general the Code imposes standards on editors  over  and above legal requirements – but the Commission will not of course,  for very  obvious reasons,  investigate a matter that is the subject  of  a legal inquiry.
Neither will it investigate  complaints where it is more appropriate, in the Commission’s opinion, for the complainant to pursue an  alternative  legal remedy.   This certainly does not mean  that  it turns down every case where there is a theoretical alternative remedy, and in fact does so in  relatively few. Those cases,  such as your own, where  it does  conclude that it is not  appropriate to  proceed  are considered  individually by the Commission and on their merits.

l do hope this is helpful.

Yours sincerely

Tim Toulmin

1  Salisbury Square London EC4Y 8JB Telephone  020 7353  1248  Facsimile  020 7353 8355

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16 May  2003

Sir Christopher Meyer

Chairman

Press Complaints Commission

1 Salisbury Square

London EC4Y 8AE

cc  Rt Hon Gerald Kaufman MP,   Frank Doran MP,  John Thurso MP ,  Rosemary McKenna MP,  Alan Keen MP,  Derek Wyatt MP,  Debra Shipley MP,  Chris Bryant MP, Julie Kirkbride MP,   Michael Fabricant MP,  Adrian Flook MP, Presswise,   Sir Harry Roche (Pressbof)

Dear Sir Christopher,

I have just received a letter from your deputy director,  Tim   Toulmin,  in reply to my letters  of 2 and 28 April.

I suspect  that   my letter to you of the  12 May  was  the   catalyst for Mr Toulmin’s letter.  Useful  as any response is  from the PCC,   as much for what is not said as for what  is  said, I would ask you to reply personally to this letter and  my letter to you of 12 May and to send a copy of your  reply to the CMS committee.

Mr Toulmin states in his letter that cases refused because  a  legal alternative exists will be relatively few”.  This is a  considerable  movement from the statement of  your  director uy Black  before the CMS committee that it was the  norm to  refuse  such cases.

As I pointed out in my letters to  Prof Pinker,  Mr Black must have known this was untrue  when  he   made his  statement to the CMS committee.  You may  wish to consider whether a man who deliberately attempts to mislead a Parliamentary committee is the  type of character you wish to  have as your chief administrator.

The position for all complaints to the PCC should be  this.  Any complaint should be considered provided (1) no  criminal  investigation is being undertaken or(2) no writ for a  civil  action has been issued.  That is an objective test.  Anything else is merely a subjective  decision made at the whim of the  PCC administrators.

As for Mr Toulmin’s response to my complaints against Rebekah Wade and Piers Morgan,  Mr Toulmin’s claim that the  PCC Code  does not cover it is manifestly absurd.  The Code preamble begins “All members of the press have a duty to maintain  the highest  professional and ethical standards…”  Bribing  the  police  clearly breaches that, while  clause  7.iii) states   “Subterfuge can be justified only in the public interest  and  only when material cannot be obtained by any other  means.”

Clearly bribing  the  police can never  be  in the  public  interest.  Finally, clause 9 runs  “Payment  for articles  offers  of payment  for articles,  pictures or  information should   not be made directly or through agents to witnesses or potential   witnesses in current or criminal proceedings…”   Clearly many  of  the  police  passing  on information are potential witnesses.

Finally,  Mr Toulmin’s refusal to re-open my past  complaints  is based on the fact that I provide no new information   is  irrelevant.  The point is that  the complaints in 1995,  1997  and  1998   were  simply not   honestly   investigated   or  adjudicated.  They were simply refused for no good reason.  I ask you to review these complaints personally.  I also seek a  personal  interview with you to discuss the behaviourof  PCC  staff in dealing with my complaints which were all  serious and well documented and described.

You are appearing before the CMS committee on the 21 May.  I suggest   you address  the  general question  of   refusing complaints for reasons of potential legal opportunity and the PCC’s failure to address complaints against Wade and  Morgan   for the  clearest  breaches of  the  Code  by receiving  information illicitly from thepolice.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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19 June  2003

Sir Christopher Meyer

Chairman

Press Complaints Commission

1 Salisbury Square

London EC4Y 8AE

cc  Rt Hon Gerald Kaufman MP,   Frank Doran MP,  John Thurso MP ,  Rosemary McKenna MP,  Alan Keen MP,  Derek Wyatt MP,  Debra Shipley MP,  Chris Bryant MP, Julie Kirkbride MP,   Michael Fabricant MP,  Adrian Flook MP, Presswise,   Sir Harry Roche (Pressbof)

Dear Sir Christopher,

I am still awaiting a reply to my letter of 16 May.  Were you merely  a private individual you would of course  have  the right to refuse to reply. But I am not writing to you in your capacity  as a  private individual but as  the head  of  a   quasi-public body.  In that position,  you should reply  to  correspondence as a matter of course. Please do so by return.

With regard  to  Rebekah Wade and  Piers  Morgan obtaining  information  illicitly, I refer you to proposal  30  in  the  Culture  Media and Sport select committee’s report  on  media  intrusion:

31.  We cannot see how the matter of illegal payments  to   policemen  can fail to fall within the criteria  set out  by the PCC for taking  the initiative,  or how the issue is different to the xample of illegal  telephone-tapping   highlighted by the Commission itself. We  believe the PCC must  investigate. This  may  be best  accomplished  in cooperation  with the Information Commissioner and  the Police  Complaints Authority and, if necessary, rsult in an addition to the Code (such asoccurred on intercepting  telephone calls).  (Paragraph 95)

I expect your early reply assuring me that Wade  and Morgan will be investigated.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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I received no further response from the PCC – Robert Henderson  8 July 2011

Laws are for “little people” – the Mandelson mortgage fraud cover-up

The present furore should have disabused those of the public who still believed the law and rules such as codes of conduct apply to the powerful as they do to the ordinary person. At present we are seeing how widespread-hacking by the media and the bribing of police by the media to gain information could go on uninterrupted by politicians doing anything about and the police failing to prosecute either their own people or the media people paying the bribes. (The most telling fact about the payment of police bribes is that no policeman or woman has come forward to say they reported such an attempt to their superiors).

The story below is another graphic example of how elites can get away with murder. It was published in the magazine The Individual in July 1999 under the title of ‘Elite Mischief’  (http://individualist.org.uk/pdf/1999julindiv_em.pdf.) It deals with Peter Mandelson’s gaining of a mortgage by making a false declaration to his mortgage provider and his taking of a £373,000 loan from a fellow minister in  the Blair Government Geoffrey Robinson, a loan he failed to publicly declare as required by the Commons’ own rules.

The story exemplifies the way in those with power, wealth and influence manage to live outside the rules and laws which supposedly bind them. For elites laws and rules are for the “little people”, not them.  In this instance politicians in the Government, the Labour Party and the Commons’ committee with responsible for disciplining MPs all failed to wholeheartedly condemn Mandelson, investigate his misbehaviour properly (especially the mortgage fraud) or impose appropriate penalties. The civil servant responsible for investigating complaints about MPs, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, refused to press the most damaging parts of the complaints (the mortgage fraud and the failure to declare the Robinson loan) and the police refused to open an investigation.  To close the circle, the media also failed to press the matter of criminal charges and tellingly I could get none of the mainstream media to take up the story of the police’s refusal to investigate.

The outcome of the protection of Mandelson is that went on to twice return to the Cabinet, received a peerage and got an EU sinecure as one of Britain’s Brussels commissioners. He is now a wealthy man, having benefited from the capital gains on the property he obtained through the mortgage fraud and Robinson’s loan, the considerable salaries drawn from his return to a Cabinet position under Blair; his remuneration as an EU Commissioner and the considerable returns from his autobiography. Those are the wages of elite sin.

Robert Henderson

7 July 2011

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Elite Mischief

The report of the  Standards and Privileges Committee (henceforth “the Committee) on three  complaints laid against Peter Mandelson is best described as incongruous.  The complaints concerned irregularities involving more than £500,000 and the report’s content is damming. Two  of the three complaints were found to have substance.  Yet the Committee treated Mandelson’s serious misbehaviour  as essentially trivial and concluded smugly  “We recommend that no further action be taken”. The report  is above all a classic example of how an elite controls  matters for its own advantage.

Why is the report damning? It contains explanations  and justifications from Mandelson so improbable  that I would stake my life on the vast majority of human  beings finding them incredible. Mandelson is also shown to be  massively arrogant by the manner of his rejection of the  complaints – he really cannot understand what all the fuss is about or why his private behaviour is under scrutiny. What  if I did accept a massive loan secretly from a fellow Member  of Parliament? What if that Member did became my junior  minister? What if I did obtain a mortgage as the result of a  failure to disclose all the relevant facts to the lender? What  business is it of the public? So says Peter Benjamin Mandelson. The affair is extremely complex.

In the space  available it is impossible to cover the detail as fully as  I would wish. That being so, rather than give a blow by blow  account, I have written an impressionistic piece which is designed to give the reader a flavour of the dominant themes  – in particular, the palpable desire of all those  engaged in the investigation and judgement to mitigate Mandelson’s misbehaviour by any means possible – while  providing enough detail to allow the reader to understand the  basics of the story.

To properly understand the matter even in outline,  it is necessary to ingest a paragraph or three of  facts which would bore a chartered accountant. Sorry about that.  First the main players in the business. Apart from  Mandelson and the ex-trade minister Geoffrey Robinson, these are  the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in Public  Life (Elizabeth Filkin), the firm of solicitors appointed  by the Britannia Building Society to report on  Mandelson’s mortgage application (Herbert Smith Solicitors),  Mandelson’s solicitor (Stephen Wegg-Prosser of Wegg-Prosser and  Farmer – WPF) and Mandelson’s personal aide (Ben Wegg-Prosser). Robert  Sheldon was the Committee chairman. The two named  complainants in the report were the conservative MP, John Redwood,  and myself.

The Committee acted on Mrs Filkin’s submission  after her investigation of the three complaints. The  first concerned a failure to declare a flight taken by Mandelson  at the expense Linda Wachner, chairwoman of a company  (Warnaco Ltd) which had interests in the UK. The other complaints  arose from Mandelson’s failure to declare loan of  £373,000 from a fellow MP, Geoffrey Robinson, in the Register  of Members’ Interests and irregularities in his application  for a mortgage of £150,000 from the Britannia  Building Society.

Mrs Filkin’s conclusions The Warnaco complaint concerned a potential conflict of interest arising from Mandelson’s position as Trade Secretary. Mrs Filkin found the complaint  unproven because she judged that the flight was “offered  to him as a personal friend rather than in his capacity as a Member of Parliament”. For reasons of space and the  fact that the complaint involved benefits involving only a few  thousand pounds, I will not spend any further time on Mrs  Filkin’s dismissal of the complaint other than to reflect  that politicians without great wealth are always  suspect if they take favours from the rich, and that the  public’s only guard against corruption in such circumstances is if  the favours are public knowledge. The rules governing the Register of Members’ Interests need amending to make the  receipt of any large benefit notifiable, regardless of the  nature of the giver.

Mrs Filkin found the other complaints proven. Of Mandelson’s failure to declare the loan from Geoffrey Robinson on the Register of Member’s  interests, she decided that Mandelson should have registered the loan  because of the possible conflict of interest when he became Trade  and Industry Secretary. The interesting thing about  this judgement is that Mrs Filkin decided that it would  have been acceptable not to declare the loan if he  had not become Trade and Industry Secretary and consequently  was subject to the Ministerial Code of Conduct. It was this latter code which necessitated the registration of the loan  on the Members’ Register of Interests. This is a dangerous precedent.

The receipt or supply of large material  benefits from one politician to another are self-evidently of public interest, for anything which can compromise  their freedom of action is a matter of public interest. That  applies as much to backbenchers as to ministers. Again, plainly  the register rules need amending. But a  declaration of interest is not enough for favours between MPs, because  both the participants to such a transaction are  directly involved in the political process, and therefore have the  opportunity to illicitly manipulate matters from the inside, unlike interests and individuals outside Parliament. There  needs to be a ban on substantial material favours  between MPs.

Of the third complaint concerning the Britannia  Building Society mortgage Mrs Filkin said this: “The  mortgage was obtained on a basis outside normal commercial practice. Mandelson’s mortgage application was incomplete  and inaccurate and therefore breached the Code of Conduct  for Members of Parliament”.

The objective facts of the Britannia mortgage

The Britannia mortgage was used (with the  Robinson loan) to fund the purchase of a property in Notting Hill, a district in the West of London. Mandelson made his mortgage application in August 1996 and completed his purchase of the Notting Hill property in October 1996.

At the time of the mortgage application for  the Notting Hill property, Mandelson owned two properties: a  house in his constituency (henceforth Hutton) and a flat in  Clerkenwell, London (henceforth Wilmington). He had  mortgages on both. Thus his application for the Britannia  mortgage was, at the least, the third time he had made a mortgage  application.

The Britannia interviewer (Mr Michael McDermott)  completed the application form for Mandelson who then  signed it. Mr McDermott was the branch manager and thus a  very experienced employee. He was consequently  unlikely to have made an  error when completing the form.

When he made the mortgage application (30/8/96)  Mandelson told the Britannia interviewer that the balance  of the purchase price for the Notting Hill flat would  be provided by his family. He also said that the purchase of the  Notting Hill property would be simultaneous with the sale  of his Wilmington flat.

Mandelson’s mortgage application form  unambiguously shows a failure to declare his the Hutton mortgage and  was thus false at the time he signed it. The application  became further invalidated by two failures to keep the  Britannia informed of changes in his circumstances, namely  his acceptance of the Robinson loan and the  failure to sell his Wilmington flat at the same time as he  purchased the Notting Hill property.

Section D of the application form contains the  questions “Do you have any hire purchase/loan agreements? (D1);  “Have you any other outstanding commitments including maintenance payments (D.3) and “Do you propose to borrow any other money upon the security of the property to assist in  the purchase of the property (D.5). Mandelson answered NO to  all questions.

The declaration at the end of the form which  was signed by Mandelson includes this statement: “I  confirm that this form has been completed by myself or at my  dictation and that the information given is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and all material information as  explained above has been disclosed. I understand that if any answer  has been written by any other person that person shall  for that person be regarded as acting for me.”

The Robinson loan and Mrs Mandelson

Mandelson claims that when he signed the  mortgage application on 30/8/96, he believed that his mother would give  him, as a gift, the money he needed to bridge the gap between  the proceeds of the Wilmington flat and Notting  Hill. Amazingly, during his evidence to the Committee Mandelson  admitted that he had not discussed the likely amount of the  gift prior to committing himself to a mortgage. His mother’s  subsequent rapid refusal of help shows how nebulous Mandelson’s expectation of a gift was, if it existed at  all.

Mandelson first discussed the Robinson loan in  May 1996. It was not finalised until October 1996 after  Mandelson’s mother had refused to help Mandelson. Mandelson’s explanations Mr Mandelson shares a quality with Ronald Reagan,  he is terribly forgetful. The report shows that he could  not remember when he first discussed the loan with  Geoffrey Robinson. He could not remember whether he mentioned the Hutton mortgage during his interview with Mr McDermott.  He could not remember what he had done during his  previous mortgage applications. He could not even  remember in 1999 (this is my personal favourite) how much he sold  his Wilmington flat for in 1997.

Mandelson is also apparently seriously lacking  in intellect and basic general knowledge. According to the  evidence given to the Committee, he did not even understand  the meaning of such difficult questions as “Do you propose to borrow any other money on the security of the property to  assist in the purchase” because at the time of completing  the mortgage application he “would not…have  understood what ‘security of the property meant”. 1

Translated into honestspeak most of  Mandelson’s excuses and explanations amount to this: I, Peter  Mandelson, a man deemed competent to sit in a British Cabinet, am  so lacking in intellect and general knowledge that I  cannot understand what every adult of normal intelligence in Britain  is presumed by the law to understand, namely a mortgage application form, despite the fact that I had previous experience of obtaining mortgages.

Mandelson’s other excuses rest on blaming  people such as his solicitor (WPF) and pleading overwork. The  latter is special pleading; the former deserves attention. WPF  in the person of Stephen Wegg-Prosser undoubtedly had a duty to  inform the Britannia of the Robinson loan and the failure  to complete the sale of the Wilmington flat on time. The  question is why he did not do so. Wegg-Prosser accepted that  he was grossly at fault but blamed it on family problems. Should  we believe him? In other words, was there a conspiracy  between Mandelson and Wegg-Prosser to keep the fact of the  Robinson loan from the Britannia? Consider these facts and judge  for yourself.

Mandelson’s Secrecy

For a man with nothing to hide, Mandelson was remarkably reticent about his loan from Robinson. He  failed to notify Tony Blair, the DTI permanent secretary, the cabinet secretary and the parliamentary commissioner of the Robinson loan. He failed to register the loan in the  Members Register of Interests. He used the solicitor father of  his aide Ben Wegg-Prosser to draw up the legal agreement with Robinson.

Such secrecy speaks of a desire to prevent not  only the general public and his political opponents and  colleagues from knowing the truth, but an intention also to  prevent the Britannia Building Society from discovering the true state of affairs. Publicity for the loan would  have revealed the illegality of the application. Thus  Mandelson had a prime dishonest motive for silence and secrecy. If any of the other people directly involved in the loan from  Geoffrey Robinson knew of Mandelson’s failure to declare  the loan and/or his mortgage on the Hutton property,  they would on the face of things be guilty of a criminal  conspiracy to enable Mandelson to obtain a mortgage fraudulently.

Mandelson’s desire to keep the matter secret  and his apparent willingness to lie to do so is further seen in  his reply to a question put by the Evening Standard in April 1997.  The Standard reporter, Mark Honigsbaum, asked Mandelson  to explain the difference between the amount of  money borrowed to finance the purchase of the house  registered on the Land Registry and the purchase price of the  Paddington house, ie the difference between the Britannia mortgage and  the purchase price. Mandelson complained of an invasion  of privacy (a rather rum do in a politician) to a more senior reporter, Alex Renton. However, he did tell  Renton that the balance of the cost of his new house would be  paid by the sale of his Clerkenwell flat and money from  his mother (see folios 5/6). He failed to mention the fact  that the purchase price had been met wholly by a loan from  Robinson and the Britannia mortgage.

Behind the scenes

Although her findings were significant, Mrs  Filkin studiously avoided the most serious and damaging issues which  were posed by Mandelson’s behaviour, namely the questions  of criminality and the relationship between MPs, both of which I asked her to consider in relation to Mandelson  and Robinson.

I had a considerable correspondence with Mrs Filkin,  yet after the publication of the report I discovered  that the committee only saw the first letter I sent to Mrs  Filkin. When I brought this to the attention of Robert  Sheldon, the chairman of the committee, he refused to either reopen the nvestigation or show the additional letters to theCommittee members. This is urther evidence of the Committee’s intention to produce a verdict favourable  to Mandelson come what may.

The Code of Conduct

In 19 July 1995 by a resolution of the Commons  a Code of Conduct for MPs was adopted. Rather like the 1936  Soviet Constitution, the code is a model of democratic  principle, regulating public duty, personal conduct, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.  My experience with Mrs Filkin and the committee  shows that it shares another quality with the 1936 Soviet  Constitution: it is not worth the paper it is written on.

I suggested to Mrs Filkin that Mandelson had  breached these parts of the Code:

Public Duty

Members have a duty to uphold the law and to act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them.

Personal Conduct

Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid conflict between personal and the public interest and resolve any conflict between the two, at once, in favour of the public  interest.

Members shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner which will tend to maintain and strengthen the public’s trust and confidence in the integrity of Parliament and never take any action which would bring the House of Commons, or its members generally, into disrepute.

In any activities with, or on behalf of, an organisation with which a member has a financial relationship which may not be a matter of public record such as informal meetings and functions, he or she must always bear in mind  the need to be frank with Ministers, Members and officials.

Leadership

Holders of public office should promote and support these principles [of the Code of Conduct] by leadership and example. Mandelson has clearly breached these parts of  the Code. Mrs Filkin concluded that he had done so, but only by his behaviour in obtaining a mortgage. Incredibly,  she judged that Mandelson’s failure to register a loan  eight times his salary did not breach the Code.

The Britannia Building Society

The failure of the Britannia to make a complaint  to the police goes against their normal policy. The  Daily Telegraph (26/12/98) ran this quote from a spokesman for  the Britannia, Joanne Hine: “When fraud has  been discovered in the past, then we have passed that to the police  to deal with.”

The Britannia commissioned the solicitors  Herbert Smith to produce a report on the Mandelson affair. This  report was codenamed Offenbach. It is worth noting that  the Committee Chairman had to quietly threaten the Britannia  with his powers to requisition documents before a copy of  the Offenbach report was supplied to the  Committee.

Was a crime committed?

In their report for the Britannia, the  solicitors, Herbert Smith, considered the question of mortgage  fraud which falls under Section 16 of the Theft Act 1968. This  runs:

“a person who by deception dishonestly  obtains for himself or for another any pecuniary advantage  is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years…”

The report continued by stressing that for an offence  to exist, it is not necessary for the person  deceived to have suffered a loss.

Peter Mandelson did profit from his irregular mortgage application because he obtained a mortgage unfairly.  This allowed him to gain a further pecuniary advantage  by acquiring a more expensive property, which  enabled him to make a massive capital gain he would not  otherwise have had the opportunity to make. Those facts would seem  to fall within the Theft Act’s provisions.

Herbert Smith claimed that the Britannia’s  money was never under threat from Mandelson’s failure to disclose  his financial circumstances. This is simply false.  It is true that if Mandelson kept to the terms of his agreement  with Geoffrey Robinson, that is did not put any  further charge on the property, the building society would have  been safe. But what if Mandelson did not keep to the terms of  the agreement? Suppose, for example, that he ran  into severe financial trouble and took further loans  against the property which exceeded the value of the property?

Such a scenario is plausible. Mandelson has  shown himself to be, secretive, very reckless and spendthrift. The  Commons report also shows how slender his means were  in 1996 – he had to borrow money from his mother to tide him  over the period when he had to pay not only the Notting Hill mortgage but also the mortgages on Hutton and Wilmington. A  situation could have easily arisen whereby Mandelson had taken loans to the value of less than the value of the  house at the time the loans were granted, but which exceeded the  value of the property when the loans were called in. The  most likely cause of such a situation would be a collapse in property  values similar to that which occurred in the early  nineties.

It is true that in such circumstances the Britannia  might still be able to exercise first call on the property eventually. But they would at best have to go  through a great deal of legal aggravation to make good their claim.  At worst, they might not be able to sustain a  claim if other loans taken by Mandelson had been given on the  same basis as that give by the Britannia.

The police

I submitted a complaint to the Metropolitan Police asking them to investigate Mandelson for gaining a pecuniary advantage by the use of false statements and  embezzlement and for possibly engaging in a conspiracy to  obtain a pecuniary advantage and embezzlement. I received this  reply from Chief Supt Paul Scotney: “After careful  consideration of all the facts outlined in your two letters, I have  decided not to commit police resources to investigate this matter.”

Wonderful isn’t it? Pure insolence of office. Police officers have an obligation to  investigate where they have reasonable grounds for believing that a  crime has been committed. Patently they did in this case because  of irregularities in Mandelson’s mortgage  application. Failure to investigate amounts to a perversion of the course  of justice.

Elite misbehaviour

What does all this show? It is classic elite  behaviour in an ostensible democracy. A member of the elite was  caught publicly in circumstances which were too serious  and outlandish for the elite to simply ignore.  Thus a charade was performed whereby an “investigation”  took place with a predetermined outcome, namely that no  meaningful punishment would be meted out to the errant member of the elite regardless of the evidence offered. The purpose  of the charade was to allow the elite to make a pretence that justice had been done.

The Code of Conduct for MPs demonstrates  beautifully the ease with which the elite can control things. The  introduction of this code was a major constitutional change. Before  then, there was precious little by way of formal restraints  on MPs’ behaviour beyond the election rules of the Representation of the People Act and the  rather toothlessregister of interests. Most extraordinary was  the fact that an MP’s behaviour towards his constituents was  unrestrained by anything other than convention, which were  mostly the product of the Commons of the eighteenth and  early nineteenth centuries which developed conventions in  keeping with the aristocratic flavour of its membership which took  Burke’s dictum that a member is not a delegate as its watchword.

Once the Code of Conduct was accepted by the  Resolution of 24/6/96, in theory the game changed. MPs became obligated formally and the old conventions were superseded where the Code of Conduct impinged upon them. Yet for all the practical effect it had in  the Mandelson case, it might as well not exist. As  things stand, it is simply a propaganda tool for the ruling elite.

Only the House of Commons can meaningfully enforce  the Code. The Code gives the appearance of an attempt to maintain  public probity but that is all it is, the appearance. Elites in an ostensible democracy have to make  a public playof honest dealing with members of the elite, but  it is just that, a play. The reality is that elites  ensure that justice is not done by controlling the bodies which  make judgements of members of the elite. The people who investigated  and udged Mandelson were a committee which had a majority of embers from Mandelson’s own party and a public servant whose appointment depended on the very politicians  she was due to judge. Just to add spice to this elite sauce, Elizabeth Filkin was a non-excutive director of the Britannia until a few weeks before her appointment as Commissioner  for Standards. Strangely, she did not feel that  this disqualified her from investigating Mandelson. I asked to  appear before the Committee. The request was refused. All  very cosy, all very elite controlled.

Throughout this affair every person involved in the investigation has behaved to benefit Mandelson  and mitigate his offence. Elizabeth Filkin refused to  investigate the most damaging charges against Mandelson, those of  criminality and of being under the influence of Robinson  because of the loan. She refused to investigate Robinson at all. The  Britannia’s solicitors, Herbert Smith, put the best possible gloss on everything Mandelson did or failed to do. The Committee concluded against all the evidence that Mandelson’s misbehaviour was trivial.

This affair raises the vital questions of  equality before the law and democratic control. Both have been negated comprehensively. The general public have been treated as impotent fools. We have not a democracy but an elective oligarchy, which is as effective at  maintaining control as any formal aristocracy.

1 Mniutes of  Report para 51

Don’t be surprised that the police failed to thoroughly invesitgate the News of the World

Many people will be mystified by the failure to date  of the police to successfully investigate the phone-hacking complaints against the News of the World (NoW). They may be even more surprised by the  failure to act on the admission by Rebekah Brooks (previously Rebekah Wade) when she was editor of the NoW  that the paper paid police officers for information. The fact that Brooks made the admission before a Commons Select Committee will add to their astonishment. (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/the-refusal-of-the-police-to-investigate-rebekah-wade/).

They should not be amazed because this is regulation behaviour by the police. Those who believe that they rigorously investigate complaints as a matter of course are sorely mistaken.   The police  routinely fail to investigate complaints properly or at all  when it suits their purposes.  It is reasonable to assume that it suited  the purposes of the Metropolitan  Police  these cases involving the NoW, both because of the strong links between politicians and the Murdoch empire and from fear that the corrupt officers selling information to the NoW (and other media outlets) would result in criminal prosecutions of police officers, perhaps many of them with very senior officers included.

I have a good deal of personal experience of  the Metropolitan Police failing to investigate complaints or to even record them.  This ranges from  refusals to investigate Peter Mandelson after he obtained a mortgage by  fraudulent means (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/07/07/laws-are-for-little-people-the-mandelson-mortgage-fraud-cover-up/) ; refusals to investigate complaints of incitement to racial hatred by Greg Dyke when BBC Director-General  (his “hideously white” description of the BBC) and a Plaid  Cymru leader who described the English in Wales as “a virus and, most topically, the illegal giving of information by a Met Police officer to the Mirror newspaper (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/the-failure-to-charge-piers-morgan-with-illicitly-receiving-information-from-the-police/). The last has the added  interest that the complaint arose from Tony and Cherie Blair’s  attempt to have me prosecuted on bogus charges during the General Election campaign of 1997 (http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/when-tony-and-cherie-blair-tried-to-have-me-jailed/).

The NoW ” paying police for informagtion”story was broken in Britain by the BBC on 6 July 2011 by the BBC’s Business  editor  Robert Peston  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14039915). I have sent the letter below  and  copies of letters from Piers Morgan to the PCC and my complaint to the police  to him and all other major British media outlets.

6 7 2011

Dear Mr Peston,

I have personal experience of the police selling information to the media.

In 1997  The Mirror ran a story about me which involved information being supplied to them by a police officer. I discovered this when I made a complaint to the PCC and they released a letter from the then editor Piers Morgan to them in which he admitted receiving illegitimately information from the police, viz:

“The police source of our article (whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect) [thus the police informant behaved illegally by supplying the information] gave us the detail of the letters that we then published. Nothing that Mr Henderson writes has convinced me that the article was anything other than accurate”

The complaint was passed to Scotland Yard where Det Chief Superintendent Ian Curtis supposedly investigated. My complaint ended in a curious way with Curtis ringing me to tell me that no action would be taken. During our telephone conversation, he admitted that no one at the Mirror, including the Piers Morgan and the reporter who wrote the story Jeff Edwards had been interviewed. Ergo, no meaningful investigation was undertaken.

If charges of receiving information illicitly from a police offer cannot be brought against an editor who has admitted in writing to a quasi-official body investigating a complaint that he has received illicit information no one could ever be charged with the crime.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

———————————————————————

The fact that a Chief Superintendent  (DCS) from Scotland Yard was deputed to investigate tells us a good deal in itself. Normally such a complaint would be conducted by a Detective Inspector (DI) I or just conceivably a Detective Chief Inspector.  A  DCS taking such a case is abnormal in the extreme; one from Scotland Yard simply bizarre.

The appointment of such an officer is simply a reflection of the  general panic which set in whenever the police had to investigate a complaint from me which was directly or indirectly linked to the Blairs’ attempt to have me prosecuted.  After they failed I made a series of complaints of criminal activity to the Met about the Blairs (an attempt to pervert the course of justice); the Mirror (various offences concerning paying the police for info; breaching the Official ACT   and criminal libel) and against officers who failed to investigate complaints meaningfully. During the course of this I had in my flat the following: a DCS who was head of the Met’s internal investigations office (a very senior and influential copper indeed); two other DCS; two DCIs and 2 DIs, all for cases which would normally have been investigated by anyone from a Detective Constable to a DCI.

—————————————————————————————

Here is Morgan’s full letter into which I have interpolated my comments in brackets marked RH.

FROM THE EDITOR

By fax (0171-353 8355) & by post

16 October 1997

Your ref: 970738

Christopher Hayes Esq

Press Complaints Commission

I Salisbury Square

London

EC4Y 8AE

Dear Mr Hayes

Mr Robert Henderson

I refer to Mr Henderson’s complaint as outlined in his letter of 23 September.

As you are aware, we have been in contact with Mr Henderson for some time due to his propensity to bombard individuals and this office with correspondence. [RH: Translation: Mr Henderson sent more than one letter because the Mirror refused to reply].

There are certain irrefutable facts that escape emphasis in Mr Henderson’s correspondence.

Far from ignoring any of his correspondence we have written to him on the 20 May, 22 July and 6 August. [RH: The letter of 20 May merely
said he was not going to enter into correspondence. The other two letters were from his legal department in response to Subject Access Requests I made under
the data Protection Act. These were legally required]. We have consistently made it clear that we have no intention of entering into any further
correspondence with him.

Be that as it may I will address his concerns:-

In essence, the basic “sting” of the article, of which he complains, was that he had been sending numerous insulting letters, some with racist undertones [No  such letters were ever sent, hence, no prosecution RH], to Mr and Mrs Blair which had been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service for consideration.

Mr Henderson himself admits that he sent Mr and Mrs Blair at least thirteen letters. I have no way of directly knowing of the content of those letters because I have not had sight of them. However, clearly they sufficiently concerned Mr Blair’s office to be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service [RH: The CPS said as soon as they saw the letters that they were entirely legal] and I think the Commission is perfectly entitled to draw an adverse inference on the contents of those letters as a result of that referral.

I cannot accept Mr Henderson’s explanation for writing to  Cherie Blair. To do so was clearly designed to intimidate. In Mr Henderson’s draft article “Moral Simpletons Target Innocent Man” the bile that he shows on the second page of that article clearly illustrates his capacity to insult in his letters to Mr and Mrs Blair[RH: an absurd deduction. What I wrote to the
Mirror says nothing about what I wrote to the Blairs] (to the extent that they be referredto the Crown Prosecution Service). I would also refer the Commission to Mr Henderson’s gratuitous reference to a “Blaireich”.

He also admits to expressing his disgust (we can only guess in what terms) of the decision of Mr and Mrs Blair not to send their son to a school whereby a white schoolboy was, apparently, murdered by five other boys (and that that murder was racially motivated). [RH: This was the Richard Everitt murder].

The police source of our article (whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect) [RH: thus the police informant behaved illegally by supplying the information] gave us the detail of the letters that we then published. Nothing that Mr Henderson writes has convinced me that the article was anything other than accurate.

Perhaps one can get a flavour of his correspondence with Mr and Mrs Blair by examining the final sentence of his draft article in which he states “It was a cargo of ancient male gonads”.

The Commission may be aware (I am attempting to get hold of the article) that the article of Mr Henderson’s that appeared in Wisden’s Cricket Monthly in 1995 gave rise to an  extraordinary amount of controversy and resulted in Wisden paying substantial libel damages to the Cricketer, Devon Malcolm,[RH: Malcolm refused to sue me after I made it clear I would take the case to the floor of a court] whom the Commission will be aware is a coloured fast bowler for England. As I understand the matter, and Mr Henderson will correct me if I am wrong, the article implied that coloured players will not try as hard when playing for England as white players. [RH: The article put it forward as a possibility, no more]. I have discussed the legal position with the newspaper’s solicitor, Martin Cruddace [RH: Cruddace is a proven liar. He made a declaration to my Subject Access Request under the Data Protection Act to the effect that the Mirror held no qualifying documents. Eventually after I had done some detective work, he had to admit that the Mirror had a small matter of 118 pages of documents relating to me], and he has assured me that the law has recently developed whereby words (be they written or spoken) can constitute assault [RH: No person in the UK has been convicted of such a crime. The definition of GBH has been extended to non-physical abuse such as abusive phone calls but it requires a psychiatric illness to be proved to be caused by the alleged abusive behaviour. Mere emotions such as fear do not qualify. The failure of the police to consider such a course and the CPS’ immediate definition of the case as “NO CRIME” shows that my letters were entirely lawful] if the pattern of those words is such as to make the recipient of them either anxious or ill. It has developed as a reaction to the former impotence of the law on stalking. The law has therefore developed since the publication of the dictionary reference on which Mr Henderson relies.

I cannot accept that the taking of the photographs of Mr Henderson, given the clear public interest concerning the subject matter of The Mirror article, could possibly constitute harassment under the Code. [RH: It was a clear breach both because I had advised them of my eye trouble and because they took photographs having come over my threshold.]

I am most concerned not to waste any further time in dealing with Mr Henderson’s complaint but, naturally, if the Commission wishes me to address any further matters then I will endeavour to do so. However, I hope that the above is sufficient to convince the Commission that the basic “sting” of the article is accurate and that Mr Henderson’s complaint ought to be dismissed.

Yours sincerely

Piers Morgan

———————————————–

Having got cast iron evidence that the Mirror had been involved in illicitly receiving information from the police, I made a complaint
to the Metropolitan police, viz.

26-August 1998

Chief-Supt Eric Brown

Metropolitan Police

12A Holmes Road

London NW5 3AE

cc Metropolitan Police Committee

Dear Mr Brown,

I enclose a letter from the Metropolitan Police Committee dated 25/2/98. Please note the third paragraph.

The complaints I wish to register are: 1. A breach of the Official Secrets Act Culprits: An anonymous police officer most probably
stationed at Belgravia station.

The Mirror reporter Jeff Edwards

The Mirror editor Piers Morgan

The most likely police officer is DS Connor of Belgravia Police. This officer handled the Blairs complaints against me.

2. A breach of the Public Bodies Corruption Act 1889 as amended by the Prevention of Corruption Act 1916

Culprits: The anonymous police officer mentioned in 1.

Any Mirror representative responsible for the offering or payment of a bribe.

3. A breach of the Prevention of Corruption Act as amended by the Prevention of Corruption Act 1916

Culprits: The anonymous police officer mentioned in 1.

Any Mirror representative responsible for the offering or payment of a bribe.

4. A breach of the Met’s Code of Practice

Culprits: The anonymous police officer mentioned in 1.

The basis of the complaints The offences arise from a Mirror story entitled “Pest Targets Blairs” published on 25/3/98 (copy enclosed).

The Mirror story quotes unnamed police officer(s) as follows:

“Police said that sending such material could result in an assault charge.”

and

A Scotland Yard source said “By sending letters in a very unpleasant tone the writer has committed an assault”

The statement that I have “committed an assault” is a breach of the Met’s Code of Practice. The police investigate complaints. They do not decide guilt or innocence.

In a letter to the Press Complaints Commission dated 16/10/97(copy enclosed) the Mirror editor Piers Morgan claimed that the primary source for the Mirror article was a policeman viz: The police source of our article (whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect) gave us the detail of the letters that we then published.”

The giving of such information would of itself be illegal.

The Mirror confirms that they knew it was illegitimate by their “whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect”.

All police officers sign the Official Secrets Act. The police officer who supplied the information to the Mirror is consequently guilty of a breach the Official Secrets Act. He has also breached the Met’s internal code of conduct.

The Mirror by knowingly abetting the breach of the official Secrets Act is guilty of a criminal offence which carries the same penalties as that to which the police officer is subject.

If the policeman was paid, both the Mirror and the officer are guilty of serious criminal offences under The Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1989 (amended by the Corruption Act 1916) and The Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 (amended by the Corruption Act 1916).

The reasonable presumption must be that the officer was paid. First, he restricted the information to one newspaper. Second, what other plausible motive could he have had?

As the Mirror has admitted to receiving illicit information from the police, a failure to both record and investigate my complaints will be tantamount to an admission of deliberate maladministration of justice by the Met. As I am sure you do not need me to tell you, such deliberate maladministration by the police commits one of the criminal offences of  perverting or attempting to pervert the ourse of justice.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

Robotics and the real (sorry, Karl, you got it wrong) final crisis of capitalism

Robert Henderson

Humans and Robots

Robotics is advancing rapidly. Probably within the lifetime of most people now living – and conceivably within the next ten years – there will be general purpose robots (GPRs) capable of doing the vast majority of the work now undertaken by human beings. When that happens international free trade and free market economics even within a closed domestic market will become untenable.  The final crisis of capitalism will be the development of technology so advanced that it makes capitalism in the Marxist sense impossible because machines make humans redundant.

Robots are already undertaking  surprisingly sophisticated work, but almost all are designed to undertake a limited range of tasks(http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/computers_math/robotics/). None is a true GPR. That makes them expensive because of the limited nature of their possible uses and the restricted production runs they can generate. Many of the most sophisticated are either one–offs or counted in single figures. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/8330246/Japanese-robot-could-be-sent-to-Space-Station.html).   A GPR will change that. They will be able to work across a wide range of tasks which will both enhance their utility and result in massive production runs. GPRs will become cheap, much cheaper than human labour.

The cost of GPRs will also fall because GPRs will sooner or later reach a stage where they can replicate one another or design and build new types of robot.  This is potentially startling in terms of what might be produced. Let us say that it takes one week for one GPR to create another. At the end of the first week you have two GPRs. At the end of the second week you have four GPRs. Let us suppose you keep on doubling up every week. In thirty three weeks you have more GPRs that the entire present population of the world. In thirty four weeks you have more than twice the population of the world. The only restrictions on production would be government curbs or a shortage of materials and energy to build and run them.

Economic history to date shows that technological advance creates new work. It may have very painful consequences for individuals whose livelihood disappears – the hand-loomweavers of the early industrial revolution are a classic example – but new opportunities for employment arise as an economy becomes more sophisticated and variegated. The hand-loom weaver found work in the new factories; the redundant western factory worker of today in a call centre. At worst they might only get a MacJob but at least it was a job.

But if the GPRs can do the MacJobs as well as the more demanding work, then there will not be any new jobs for humans, not even much supervisory work because GPRs will need little supervising, and less and less as they become ever more sophisticated. Hence, this technological advance will be like no other. GPRs will not only take away existing jobs, they will devour any new work; the easier work first, then the more complex.

The normal human response to such ideas is not reasonable scepticism, but rejection based on a refusal to accept the reality of change, a rejection expressed with ridicule along the lines of the Victorians’ response to the car:  “It will never replace the horse”. Mention robots and people commonly scoff “Science Fiction” to get rid of the matter without further debate. This type of response is natural enough because human beings, apart from disliking change, do not like to think of themselves as dispensable or redundant. Moreover, incessant propagandising by western elites has made it a received opinion of the age that work is becoming ever more demanding and requires an increasingly educated and knowledgeable workforce, something which seems to most humans to make them uniquely capable of doing the jobs of the future and, by implication, this excludes mechanisation (and robots) from the majority of future human employments.

If that were true the dominion of GPRs might be at least delayed. Unfortunately, the reality is that the large majority of modern jobs, in both the developed and developing world, are non-skilled or low skilled. Just sit and ponder how many our jobs need a great deal of intelligence or knowledge. Think of the huge numbers who are employed in call centres, shops, cafes, cleaning, driving car, on farms picking fruit and vegetables or assembling items on production lines which require no more than a repetitive task to be performed. These may be hard work but the training or innate skill required is small. Even work whose nature suggests that it is more demanding of education, training and knowledge such as much clerical work can be readily done by anyone with a reasonable facility with the 3Rs and a familiarity with basic computer operations, such as using a word processor and a search engine, something which the large majority of those in Western labour markets at least should possess. If twenty per cent of jobs in a developed country require an above average IQ or a long period of specialised training I should be surprised. In places such as India and China it will be less as they have taken on much of the repetitive factory production of the advanced world and are less inclined to substitute machines for labour, which is still by western standards very cheap.

The overproduction of graduates in both the developed and developing world is a strong indicator of the predominance of simple jobs.  In Britain there is a target of getting 50% of school-leavers to university. At present that does not look like being achieved because the figure has been stuck around 40% for years and the recent massive increase in university fees for UK students is likely to cause even that figure to drop in the future. But even with 40%, experience shows that is far too high a figure because large numbers of graduates are either unemployed or employed in jobs which do not require a degree-level education. The latest Office of National Statistics figures show 20% of recent UK graduates are without jobs, but even before the present  recession began in 2008, graduate unemployment was twice the UK unemployment average at 10.6%  (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/cci/nugget.asp?id=1162). The  figures are worse than they look because graduates in employment include those in jobs for which a degree is unnecessary. In 2010 one in three new graduates were forced to take menial work  (http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/article-1697466/Stop-gap-graduates-forced-into-menial-work.html).

The picture is similar elsewhere. In China there are more than six million unemployed graduates (http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_37/b4194008546907.htm); the USA  had 2.4 million unemployed graduates unemployed as of June 2010  (http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/employment/2010-12-06-collegegrads06_ST_N.htm) and the Eurozone generally experiences a high level of graduate unemployment  (http://www.barcelonareporter.com/index.php?/comments/graduate_unemployment_rate_one_of_eus_highest/).  The position in less developed countries is considerably worse because the number of graduate-level jobs is meagre and often only available in government funded positions.

Employability also varies according to education below degree level.  Take the country which started the so-called “Arab Spring” uprisings, Egypt, as an example. In 2011 Egyptian high-school graduates accounted for “42% of the workforce, but 80% of the unemployed.” (http://www.afripol.org/afripol/item/237-africa-middle-east-the-jobless-graduate-time-bomb.html?tmpl=component&print=1). Most startling, a 2007 report found that the rate of unemployment in Egypt is ten times higher in the educated section of the population than among illiterates. There education equals disadvantage.  (,http://www.huliq.com/29092/unemployment-in-egypt-highest-among-literate-population).

The hard truth is that most modern work requires less knowledge and skill than was required in the past. A peasant four hundred years ago had to know about his soil, his plants and animals, the seasons, the weather, where natural water was and be able to do a hundred and one practical things such as ploughing, sowing, harvesting, making and repairing of fences and ditches, using tools and turning out cheese and cream and dried meat and vegetables How many jobs today require a tenth of that volume of knowledge? Nor did more demanding work stop at peasants. A 17th century craftsman would have served a long apprenticeship. Jobs which did not require an apprenticeship would have probably required some manual skill. Those who aspired to intellectual employment had to laboriously write and amend their works rather than enjoying the immense convenience of a word processor. That and the cost of writing materials forced them to become precise in a way that virtually no one is today. Perhaps most importantly,  modern division of labour with one person doing a repetitive job was not king. A person making something four centuries ago would probably make the entire item and quite often a variety of items, for example, a 17th century blacksmith would not merely shoe horses but make a wide range of iron goods.

GPRs would arguably have much more immediate difficulty in displacing human labour in a sophisticated pre-industrial society such as England in 1600 than they would today, because of the more complex demands made by 17th century employments. The large majority of  English people in 1600 were employed on the land where subjective judgement rather than decisions made on objective facts were pre-eminent in the days before science and advanced technology entered farming. A very sophisticated GPR would be needed to make such judgements. (I am assuming that GPRs sent to England in 1600 would only have the knowledge available in 1600). Conversely, GPRs today could take over a great deal of employment in Western economies and much of the industrialised parts of the developing world, especially China, because there are so many simple jobs which would be within the capabilities of very basic GPRs.

But that is only half of the story. If most jobs are not demanding of much by way of learned skills and even less of intellect, they do need diligence. Human beings are generally more than a little reluctant to put themselves out in work which has no intrinsic interest for them or which is not very highly paid.. Most people do not have a vocation, or at least not one at which they can make a living. Left with  work which is seen as simply a livelihood, most  just want to do enough to live what they think is a comfortable life. If the job they are doing is laborious and boring and pays not a lot more than is needed to feed and clothe and house them, then it’s a certainty that they will be more than a little resentful. (An old Soviet joke about low wages ran that the communist government pretended to pay the workers and they pretended to work). Resentful equals careless equals idle equals dishonest equals loss of custom equals loss of profit. So what will an employer do when he can employ a robot instead? He will go and gets himself some GPRs which will not get awkward, do what they are told, keep working all the time without being watched, does not make regular mistakes and requires no wages or social security taxes or holidays or sick leave. And it will not be able to sue you for being a bad employer.

The GPRs will have all the capabilities of computers. They will be able to compute and model and display and manipulate data to your heart’s content. They will absorb unlimited amounts of data in the blink of an eye. You need a GPR to speak French, the GPR will speak or translate French. If you want a GPR to explain quantum mechanics, the GPR will produce a lecture by an eminent physicist. You need to fix your car, the GPR will fix your car.

Now, how could any human being compete with that? At that level they could not, but in the beginning at least there will still be a sizeable chunk of jobs which GPRs will not be able to do. These will be the jobs which cannot be reduced to quantifiable tasks; jobs which cannot be done by following an algorithm; jobs which require judgement and jobs which require motivation to achieve a complex end which is not obvious from the units of means which are required to achieve it.  But those type of jobs are only a minority of jobs, probably a small minority, perhaps 20% of the total. If the earliest GPRs could only undertake fifty per cent of the jobs which humans do that would be catastrophic. Human beings will not be able to kid themselves for long that everything is going to be all right.

There will be two further advantages enjoyed by GPRs over humans. In principle there are no limits to increases in the capabilities of GPRs; there is no such human potential in the present state of knowledge. It may be possible in the future to enhance human capabilities dramatically through genetic engineering or a marriage of human and machine to produce a cybernetic means of advancement, although in both cases the question would arise are such beings human? But for the foreseeable future there is nothing to suggest that human capacity can be raised dramatically through education and training, not least because attempts to raise IQ substantially and permanently through enhanced environments have a record of unadulterated failure over the past fifty years or more. Most tellingly, all the claims for raised IQs through enhanced environments involve people without well above average IQs. No one has claimed to have demonstrated that those with IQs of over 150 can have their IQs raised by environmental means. Nor do adult IQs increase as people experience more and learn more. That suggests humans have reached an intellectual plateau in terms of an ability to comprehend by the middle teens. With GPRs as many robots as were wanted of a certain ability uld be created.

The second advantage is that GPRs will come with a guarantee of performance. An employer gets what it says on the tin. Moreover, the performance will be consistent. Humans beings do not carry such a guarantee. The individual’s qualities only become apparent once on the job and are subject to variation according to the physical and mental wellbeing of the person.  This makes them a gamble for anyone who employs them. A faulty or rogue GPR could be repaired or replaced without moral qualms; sacking a human being raises all sorts of ethical questions and matters of sentiment.

The social and economic effects of GPRs  

When the first GPRs appear those in political authority will probably try to say everything will be all right when they are first presented with the problem. Now it might be thought that it would be pretty obvious that a GPR which could do everything the average human could do and then some would spell trouble for the human race, but it never does to underestimate the power of custom, ideology and the sheer unwillingness of human beings to face troubles which are not immediately upon them.  The tired old and worthless comparison with technological change in the past will doubtless be made, namely, that new jobs for humans will be generated by the GPRs. But that will not last long because the reality of the situation will very rapidly force elites to accept the entirely new circumstances.

There would be a dilemma for the makers and distributors of goods and services.. At first it might seem attractive to use GPRs, but as humans lose their employment and purchasing power the question for private business would be who exactly are we producing for? Very few would be the answer. For politicians the question would be how can we finance government including public services when our tax base has collapsed? The answer is we cannot as things stand.

As GPRs threaten to destroy the world’s economy, politicians will be faced with an excruciating dilemma. If GPRs are allowed free rein by governments the consequence will be a catastrophic collapse in demand as humans lose their employment en masse and an inability of the state as it is presently constituted to provide welfare to those put out of work or even to maintain the essential services of the minimalist state such as the police and army.

The situation will be pressing no matter how supposedly rich a country is because the majority of people even in the developed world are actually poor. They are only a few pay packets away from destitution (http://www.retirementsolutions.co.uk/many-britons-have-little-or-no-savings). Even those who own their own home will not be able to sell it because who will
there be to buy?

To begin with attempts will probably be made to control the crisis bureaucratically by instigating rationing and price controls. But that will not go to heart of the problem which is how do you sustain an economy in which most people are not working. In the end politicians will be faced with two choices: ban or at least seriously curb, the use of GPRs or adopt a largely non-market economy. Banning GPRs completely would create a particular problem because some countries would continue to use them and this could lead not merely to cheaper goods and services but technological leaps which exceeded anything humans could do. For example, suppose that a country produced GPRs to their fighting. A country which relied only on humans would be at a hopeless disadvantage.

The widespread banning of the use of GPRs in national territories would severely shrink international trade, because as sure as eggs are eggs not all countries would stop using GPRs  to produce items for export.  Any country using GPRs could undercut any country which banned GPRs. Protectionist barriers against countries using GPRs freely would have to be erected, although human nature being what it is, this would doubtless result in GPR products being supplied through a third country which had ostensibly banned GPR produced goods and services. The likely outcome of such a situation would be for protectionism to grow beyond the banning of GPR products to the banning of products simply because they were suspected to be GPR produced. This would also be a convenient excuse for simply banning imports.

As free trade (or more accurately freer trade) and internationalism generally has been the Holy Grail of politicians in the developed world for a generation or more, the re-embracing of protectionism and state control might seem to be a tremendous psychological blow for western political elites to accommodate.  In practice it is unlikely to give them any great emotional difficulty because elites only have one fixed principle, namely, to do what is necessary to preserve their position. Think how the British mainstream Left, most notably the Labour Party, happily embraced the idea of the market and globalism in the early 1990s after having been resolutely opposed to both only a few years before. Here is Blair in the late 1980s: “We will speak up for a country that knows the good sense of a public industry in public hands.” (The Blair Necessities p52 1988). Dearie me, who would have thought it?

The alternative to a protected economy in which GPRs are banned or severely restricted is a society in which the market is largely defunct. A perfectly rational and workable society could be created in which human beings stopped thinking they had to work to live and simply lived off the products and services the GPRs produced.  The GPRs would do the large majority of the work and the goods and services they provide would be given free to everyone whether or not they had formal employment. No GPRs would be allowed in private hands. Such a situation would mean the market would not make the choice of which goods and services were provided. Rather, the choice would be made by the consumer through an expression of what was needed or wanted before products were developed or supplied.  This could be done by anything from elected representatives to online voting by any member of a community for which goods and services should be supplied. For example, all available items could be voted from by the general population and those which were least popular dropped. The provision of proposed new lines or inventions could be similarly decided.

As for allocating who could have what in such a world, money could be issued equally to everyone in lieu of wages (a form of the social wage). Alternatively, in a more controlled society vouchers or rations cards could be issued equally to everyone for specific classes of goods. Greater flexibility could be built into the system by allowing the vouchers to be swopped between individuals, for example, a voucher for footwear swapped for food vouchers.

In such societies there would be scope for a limited use of private enterprise. People could be allowed to provide personal services, for example, entertainment, and produce goods just using human labour (human-made would gain the cachet that hand-made has now). There would also need to be some greater reward for those who occupied those jobs which still required a human to do them such as political representation, management and administration. The reward could either be material or public approbation. It would not be unreasonable to imagine that in a society where necessary work was at a premium quite a few would take on such positions for the kudos.    There could also be some legal requirement to undertake work when required.

The greatest change resulting from such a social upheaval would be the removal of most of the advantage the haves now enjoy over the have-nots. Because the vast majority of things would be provided by the state one way or another, the advantages of wealth would be greatly diminished. Those with wealth at the time the GRPs forced a change on society might still have their money, but what would they spend it on? Not the goods and services provided by society because they would be sufficient for any  individual? On the luxury goods and services offered by human-labour enterprises? Perhaps, but that would be a petty pleasure. What the rich would have lost is what they prize most, their power. They would not be able to hire other humans easily because why should anyone work as a servant when they already have the means to live? Instead they would have to live as “the little people do” (copyright Leona Helmsley). The historical experience of those with privilege relinquishing it peacefully is something of a desert, but in the circumstances of where no one has to work simply to live they would have little choice.

It would be difficult to build up a great fortune even where money remained the means of exchange, because all that would be permitted outside of socially controlled provision would be that which humans could produce without the aid of GPRs or perhaps without any form of robot, would be items which because of their means of production or provision would be expensive. This would make them luxury items. There would also be an incentive for most people not to buy them because the socially produced items would be much cheaper, in effect free because no work would have been done to earn the money to buy them. Money in such a society would have much of the quality of a voucher.

Perhaps some entertainers and artists might still command high incomes but fortunes made from business would be next to impossible. The vast fortunes made in banking and other financial service providers would not exist because financial services would become redundant in a society which has decided to provide the means of living without working for it. But like the rich generally, what would it really buy them?

Could an economic system akin to those which depended heavily on slaves not be created with GPRs taking the place of slaves which might be owned by anyone? The answer is negative. No slave society has ever relied overwhelmingly on slaves.  In slave societies there is always a good deal of free labour, both because of the scarcity and cost of slaves and the inability of owners to trust slaves to do all work or work without the supervision of free men and women. The demand created by the free part of the population through work or accumulated wealth provide the basis for a market economy in a slave-owning society. In many slave societies, slaves have acquired rights to earn money, own property and have families, all of which bolsters the demand of the free part of the population.  In the case of the GPRs, they would undertake so much of the work there would be insufficient realisable demand to sustain a market economy. There would be no point in private business using GPRs on a large scale because there would be no mass market to serve.

Who would be best placed to survive? 

It might be thought that the people best placed to survive would have been those in the least industrially developed states because they would be less dependent on machines. But the trouble is that there is scarcely a part of the world which had not been tied into the global economy. If a country does not manufacture products on a large scale, it exports food and raw materials and accepts Aid.

The fundamental trouble with Aid is not that it breaks the initiative of the recipient or props up dictators or alters traditional trading patterns or drains countries of money through everlasting interest, although all those are important features. . The killer fact is that it produces a level of population in the Third World which the Third World cannot naturally support. If the  economies of the industrial nations collapse, the Aid will stop and the market for their export of food and raw materials dry up. All of a sudden the Third World will find they cannot feed their populations and their elites will no longer have the means of maintaining order because they will not be able to finance forces to subdue and control the population.  The chaos which will ensue will be aggravated by the fact that the old economic and social relationships have been fractured so that even maintaining a population appropriate to the traditional ways of living will be problematic.

Low-wage developing countries such as China is now will be struck particularly hard because when GPRs are available their labour cost benefits will disappear.

The future

The rate at which robotics evolves will play a large part in how the story unfolds.  The speed with which GPRs replace human beings could be truly bewildering. The example of digital technology to date suggests that the stretch from a primitive GPR doing simple work which can be broken down into physical actions to a GPR with some sort of consciousness or a facsimile of what humans think of as consciousness will not be massive. Such development could well be speeded up by GPRs assisting with development as they attain more and more sophisticated abilities. The faster the development of  really sophisticated GPRs, the more chaos there is likely to be because there will be little time to plan and implement changes or for the human population to accommodate itself psychologically and sociologically to a radically different world

How sophisticated GPRs will get is unknowable, but the development of Artificial Intelligence programs which allow a process of learning are already well established. These have the potential not only to produce the wide-ranging intelligence which would allow value judgements, but also for GPRs to develop in ways which humans cannot predict. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/microsoft/8344028/Xbox-Kinect-foretells-computers-of-the-future.html).

It is reasonable to assume technology will develop until GPRs are showing behaviour which suggests consciousness. They will make decisions such as what would be the best way of  achieving ends which are loosely defined, for example, an instruction to design a city redevelopment in a way which would have the greatest utility for human beings. At that point the GPRs would be effectively making value judgements. Perhaps they already are doing that at some level. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/roger-highfield/8587577/The-big-plan-to-build-a-brain.html).

This is a real danger with potentially catastrophic world-wide consequences. The problem is getting people in power to address the subject seriously. There needs to be discussion and  planning now about how far GPRs,  or indeed robots or any type,  should be allowed to displace human beings in the functioning of human societies. Nor should we assume humans will happily tolerate GPRs  for reasons other than the economic. Robots which are too like humans make humans uncomfortable, probably because it is difficult to view a machine which looks like a human and acts like a human simply as a machine.  (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/8494633/Japanese-robot-twins-fail-to-bridge-the-uncanny-valley.html)

Apart from the economic consequences, GPRs also offer dangers such as the possibility of the realisation of the tyrant’s dream; an army of unlimited and utterly loyal and obedient servants who will refuse no command and GPRs developing intelligence and human-like qualities so profound humans have difficulty in treating them as slaves.  But those are subjects for another day…

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