Monthly Archives: March 2012

Population – the elephant in the global warming green room

Robert Henderson

Let me put my cards on the table: I see no hard evidence for man-made global warming, nor do I believe that pollution generally will be the undoing of humanity, although it can obviously have severe effects on particular populations. Readers interested in my reasons for dismissing environmental scares in general and man made global warming in particular may refer to “my  The overheated climate debate “ which was published in the Mother Earth Feb 2007 issue (

Notwithstanding the lack of firm evidence, Western political elites, egged on by the religiously devoted greens through their powerful pressure groups, are behaving as though we shall all be going to Hell in a handcart if things do not change and are consequently burdening their societies with environmental laws. These laws, apart from making life unpleasant for the masses because of their impingement on their liberty, are imposing great costs on Western economies which are not shared by the rest of the world. Nor will these laws have any meaningful impact on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere because of the vast and ever growing increase in emissions taking place in the developing world.

This essay is designed to challenge these newly green political elites on their own grounds, to take their claims and test them against their actual policies by asking questions such as is there any possibility that the claimed necessary reductions in greenhouse gases can be achieved? Will the developed world “setting an example” persuade the undeveloped world to cut back on greenhouse gases? Can the industrialisation of the developing world continue without the creation of vastly more greenhouse gases? Is the calculation of greenhouse gases sound? Most importantly ,what are the implications of the world’s present population and projected future growth for the environment?


A monstrous and ever expanding elephant sits in the green crusaders’ room. Amidst all the liberal internationalist angst about greenhouse gases and pollution generally, the greatest and most obvious cause of both is ignored by mainstream politicians: the already great and rapidly rising population of the world.

The world population is estimated to be 6.5 billion now. Extrapolations to 2050 go as high as 9.5 billion. The vast majority living now come from the underdeveloped world and their proportion of the world population will increase in the coming decades because the populations of underdeveloped countries have much younger populations than those of the developed world, viz:

“One of every six people on earth is an adolescent. In the developing world, more than 40 percent of the population is under age 20. The decisions these young people make will shape our world and the prospects of future generations. On this World Population Day, let us recognize their right to the health, information and services they need and deserve.” (

If the swelling world population was overwhelmingly due to increases in the still very white first world you may be sure that we would be daily berated for our selfish breeding. We would be told that any increase in our population was at the expense of the third world, that every extra mouth to feed, house, clothe and supply with energy was absolutely unconscionable. Western governments would be instigating programmes to reduce our populations and some of the bolder would be advocating rationing of children and any industrial process deemed to be producing the putative greenhouse gases,

But the overwhelming majority of people living today do not live in the first world and the projected future expansion of the world’s population is due almost entirely to third world increases, the first world having at best stabilised their populations and at worst actually set themselves on the path of democratic decline through a mixture of contraception and too readily available abortion (Britain does not have a fertility crisis but an abortion crisis, with 200,000 abortions being carried out a year. If those babies were born Britain’s birth rate would be above replacement level. Such increases in the first world as occur will be due to immigration from the third world and the generally higher breeding rates of immigrants.) Consequently, the subject goes unmentioned by politicians because it is beyond the Pale for Western liberal internationalist elites and not in the interests of the developing world to raise it.

The Western green suicide national advocates

If Western politicians are as yet unwilling to advocate the most extreme measures such as a dramatic reduction of Western populations, there are pressure groups such as the Optimum Population Trust ( who will. They think it should be the wicked energy guzzling first world which should show the way on the grounds that each first worlder consumes zillions of times more energy than each third worlder. Their recipe is that the first world effectively commit suicide by reducing its on average below replacement reproductive level even further. Here are a couple of snippets from their website which relate to the UK. The OPT advocate the following policies:

“• (i) to welcome the current below-replacement total fertility rate;

• (ii) to oppose fiscal incentives specifically intended to encourage women to have large families;

• (iii) to reduce further (by contraception and education) the number of teenage pregnancies, which are still among the highest in Europe; “

‘The UK’s sustainable population based on current patterns of resource use is just over 17 million, less than a third of its actual population of 60 million*, according to new research from the Optimum Population Trust….

‘If the whole world lived a “modest” Western European lifestyle based on current energy patterns, it could support only 1.9 billion people. If that “Western European” world then managed to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 60 per cent, this sustainable population figure would rise to 2.8 billion. However, this would still only represent 40 per cent of the current world population.’  (OPT NEWS RELEASE December 4 2006

The danger for the West is that our politicians may buy into this dangerous nonsense sufficiently to act to suppress Western breeding rates even further.

Calculating emissions

The questioning reader may have a provoking question niggling away at the back of their mind: how is that the industrialised First World with only 1 billion of population at best, a population which lives in countries which monitor and control their emissions ever more rigorously, is so much more at fault for emissions than the 5.5 billion who live in countries where the vast majority of energy is generated either by the direct burning of fossil fuels in the home or workplace or through power stations, mainly coal fired, which pump pollution into the air with poor filtration and who are responsible for far more agricultural generated greenhouse gas emissions than the First World?

The answer ostensibly lies in the convenience of scientists. Here is the UN Environment Programme website giving the game away:

“ Central to any study of climate change is the development of an emissions inventory that identifies and quantifies a country’s primary anthropogenic sources and sinks of greenhouse gas. Emissions are not usually monitored directly, but are generally estimated using models. Some emissions can be calculated with only limited accuracy. Emissions from energy and industrial processes are the most reliable (using energy consumption statistics and industrial point sources). Some agricultural emissions, such as methane and nitrous oxide carry major uncertainties because they are generated through biological processes that can be quite variable.”  (

Translated that means scientists rely on the sort of statistics which the developed world produces (and the undeveloped world does not ), while ignoring at worst and under-estimating at best emissions which are not readily calculated or available. Take the case of methane and nitrous oxide, the most plentiful greenhouse gases after water vapour and carbon dioxide. Here is what the says about methane produced by man made means:

“The primary sources for the additional methane added to the atmosphere (in order of importance) are: rice cultivation; domestic grazing animals; termites; landfills; coal mining; and, oil and gas extraction. Anaerobic conditions associated with rice paddy flooding results in the formation of methane gas. However, an accurate estimate of how much methane is being produced from rice paddies has been difficult to ascertain. More than 60 % of all rice paddies are found in India and China where scientific data concerning emission rates are unavailable. Nevertheless, scientists believe that the contribution of rice paddies is large because this form of crop production has more than doubled since 1950. Grazing animals release methane to the environment as a result of herbaceous digestion. Some researchers believe the addition of methane from this source has more than quadrupled over the last century. Termites also release methane through similar processes. Land-use change in the tropics, due to deforestation, ranching, and farming, may be causing termite numbers to expand. If this assumption is correct, the contribution from these insects may be important. Methane is also released from landfills, coal mines, and gas and oil drilling. Landfills produce methane as organic wastes decompose over time. Coal, oil, and natural gas deposits release methane to the atmosphere when these deposits are excavated or drilled.“ (

And here is the journal Nature on methane emissions:

“There is a strong link between human diet and methane emissions from livestock. Nations where beef forms a large part of the diet, for example, tend to have large herds of cattle. As beef consumption rises or falls, the number of livestock will, in general, also rise or fall, as will the related methane emissions. Similarly, the consumption of dairy goods, pork, mutton, and other meats, as well non-food items such as wool and draft labor (by oxen, camels, and horses), also influences the size of herds and methane emissions. The figures below present recent estimates of methane emissions by type of animal and by region. Due to their large numbers, cattle and dairy cows produce the bulk of total emissions. In addition, certain regions – both developing and industrialized – produce significant percentages of the global total. Emissions in South and East Asia are high principally because of large human populations; emissions per-capita are slightly lower than the world average”  (

As for nitrous oxide, here is the physical geography website again:

”The average concentration of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide is now increasing at a rate of 0.2 to 0.3 % per year. Its part in the enhancement of the greenhouse effect is minor relative to the other greenhouse gases already mentioned. However, it does have an important role in the artificial fertilization of ecosystems. In extreme cases, this fertilization can lead to the death of forests, eutrophication of aquatic habitats, and species exclusion. Sources for the increase of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere include: land-use conversion; fossil fuel combustion; biomass burning; and soil fertilization. “Most of the nitrous oxide added to the atmosphere each year comes from deforestation and the conversion of forest, savanna and grassland ecosystems into agricultural fields and rangeland. Both of these processes reduce the amount of nitrogen stored in living vegetation and soil through the decomposition of organic matter. Nitrous oxide is also released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels and biomass are burned. However, the combined contribution to the increase of this gas in the atmosphere is thought to be minor. The use of nitrate and ammonium fertilizers to enhance plant growth is another source of nitrous oxide. How much is released from this process has been difficult to quantify. Estimates suggest that the contribution from this source represents from 50 % to 0.2 % of nitrous oxide added to the atmosphere annually “ (“

It is also important to understand that the quantity of the various gases in the atmosphere is not a simple guide to their effectiveness as greenhouse gases. Methane and Nitrous Oxide are thought to be much more effective than Carbon Dioxide at warming the atmosphere, viz:

“Global Warming Potential (GWP). The normal reference is Carbon Dioxide for which the GWP is 1. By comparison the GWP for Methane is 21, Nitrous Oxide 310, most of the FCs are up in the 1000s with Sulphur hexafluoride at the top with a whopping GWP of 23,900.” (

The GWP ratings mean that methane is 21 times more potent than CO2 and Nitrous Oxide 310 times more potent.

Finally, all greenhouse gases have to be put into the contexts of (1) that greenhouse gases form less than 1% of the atmosphere and (2) that water vapour is the most common greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, accounting for the majority of the greenhouse effect.

Interestingly, estimates of how much water vapour contributes vary widely:

“If one pursues the question of how much of the greenhouse effect is due to each of the various greenhouse gases one finds a perplexing variety of answers in the literature. One source says that 95 percent of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapour, another 98 percent. These figures may be referring to the proportion, by weight or volume, of water vapor among the greenhouse gases of the atmosphere. Another source says that proportion water vapor is responsible for is between 36 and 70 percent. Water droplets in clouds account for another 10 to 15 percent so water as liquid or vapor accounts for between 46 and 85 percent of the greenhouse effect. The same source attributes 9 to 26 percent of the greenhouse effect to carbon dioxide (CO2).” (

If there is such disagreement and uncertainty amongst climate scientists about the extent of water vapour’s influence a gigantic question mark hangs over claims for other gases such as CO2 and Methane. Suppose 90%+ is down to water vapour, about which Man can do little, it is difficult to see that any increases due to Man made gases will be of more than peripheral importance. It is also interesting to note that that estimates of the other gases such as CO2 vary widely.

Imagine man made climate change is occurring

Let us suppose for the sake of argument that global warming is occurring largely or wholly because of man made emissions. Even in those circumstances it would be madness for Britain or any other developed country to load themselves with taxes and other burdens because quite clearly the five sixths of the world’s population which does not live in the First World is going to carry on industrialising without regard to what the First World does. China is on course to become the largest carbon dioxide emitter by 2010 , overtaking the USA. Previous “expert” estimates which said this would not happen until 2020:

“China, one of the fastest growing economies of the world is all set to overtake U.S as the leading air polluter by as early as 2010; a whole decade faster than the previous estimates of 2020.

“The International Energy Agency has concluded this based on extensive data studies, changing climatic conditions in the region etc. On the other hand the United Nations is holding a conference in Nairobi to find solutions to global warming and cutting the emission of greenhouse gases.”  (

China will be in this position because she is quite naturally seeking her national advantage by using a resource which she has in abundance – coal – to fuel the energy need of her rapidly expanding economy. Nor does she show any sign of slowing down:

“A blueprint to save the world from the worst effects of climate change, drawn up at UN talks in Bangkok, is under threat from China. Delegates said that Europe was insisting that the world should try to keep the global temperature rise to an average of no more than 2°C or risk “dangerous” consequences.

“But China wanted to retain the right to pump out greenhouse gases that would result in temperatures increasing by more than 2°C.

“ It was objecting to any wording that would mean it should impose a Cap on its emissions, slow its economic growth or spend large amounts on clean technologies in the future.

“China could overtake the United States as the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases by the end of this year, according to the International Energy Agency.” (Daily Telegraph 03/05/2007)

China’s “one-child” policy is also coming apart:

“China’s new rich are sparking a population crisis by disregarding the nation’s one-child rule. Under the controversial policy introduced in 1979, families face fines if they have two or more children. But rising incomes, especially in the affluent eastern and coastal regions, mean that more people can afford to pay to have as many offspring as they like.

“According to a recent survey by China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission, the number of wealthy people and celebrities deciding to have more than one child has increased rapidly, despite fines that can be as high as 200,000 Yuan (£13,000) for each extra child.

“Almost 10 per cent of high earners are now choosing to have three children because large families are associated with wealth, status and happiness in China. “ (Daily Telegraph 08/05/2007).

Of course, vast and rapidly growing as she is, China is simply part of a larger picture of developing world pollution. Take the second largest country on Earth, India. Just as China is happy to build coal- fired power stations with abandon, India is content to engage in a policy of small wood powered stations, a policy which not only introduces CO2 into the atmosphere but results in deforestation which reduces the natural capture of CO2.

India is changing its greenhouse emissions contribution very rapidly:

”Greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide, contribute to global warming and climate change. According to the US-based ‘think tank’ the World Resources Institute, India was responsible for over four per cent of total emissions in 2000 — making the country the sixth largest emitter in the world. Emissions are set to rise further still over the next 20 years as the Indian economy rapidly develops. Both the International Energy Agency and the government of the United States’ Energy Information Administration predict over 90 per cent growth in carbon dioxide emissions alone by 2025….

“India’s coal consumption has increased from 110 million tonnes in 1980 to more than 350 million tones in 2000, representing an annual growth rate of almost 6 per cent. Natural gas consumption has grown similarly, at 5.6 per cent a year, to 75 million cubic metres in 2000. But petroleum consumption has grown fastest since the 1980s, at an annual rate of 14 per cent, to over 350 million tonnes in 2000….

”India emitted 16 million tonnes of methane in 1990, and 24 million tonnes in 2000 — a little under 35 per cent of the country’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. [4] The agricultural sector dominates (see Figure 2), contributing about 64 per cent. Within this sector, the largest contributions come from livestock, which produce methane in their digestive tracts, and rice crops, which emit approximately four terragrams of methane per hectare as organic matter decomposes in flooded fields. …

”India’s greenhouse gas emissions are increasing, making up 4.47 per cent of the global total in 2000. This places India in the top ten emitters of the world. The United States leads the way, producing five times more emissions than India, at almost 16 per cent of the world total. China is the largest developing country emitter, accounting for nearly 12 per cent of global emissions “. 31 August 2006 Source: SciDev.Net (

The hopelessness of the liberal internationalist’s belief that if the “West sets an example” to the developing world is clear to see. Even if the developing world population was stabilised immediately and they restricted their emissions growth to half of the average of the first world at present, that would increase emissions by several times what they are currently. If the first world ceased to emit anything at all, the increase in the rest of the world’s emissions, through development and an expanding population, would still push the emissions level way beyond what we have now and what climate scientists consider safe.

The sane response for the first world is to accept that even if Man is creating global warming, the best that can be done is to guard against its effects by doing what it has always done, namely, use its scientific and technological skills to combat adverse effects. If Dutch engineers could reclaim much of the land which now constitutes the Netherlands in the 17 century it really should not be the wit of 21st century man to do the same.

Green laws are only for “the little people”

Although they are forever berating their populations about global warming, Western political elites subscribe to policies which positively thwart their ostensible aims. They do this for reasons of political ideology, fear of political repercussions if they follow the logic of their ideas and personal selfishness.

Their greatest hypocrisy is to sign up to the free trade, free movement of peoples agenda. The consequence of this is twofold: much energy is expended transporting people and goods around the world and much of the energy use needed for manufacture is exported from the developed world , with its high standards of pollution control, to the developing world, most notably China, where such controls are practically next to non-existent and coal fired power stations are the primary means of producing the necessary energy. The globalisation of business must also have an impact on energy use because of the increased need to transmit data over long distances by electronic means. If Western governments were truly committed to the green agenda they would be advocating much more national self sufficiency.

Then there is the mania for economic growth. All first world governments seek continual growth. None says, hold on, if we want to “save the planet” we should not be seeking ever more growth, ever more expenditure of resources. That alone makes their supposed commitment to “green” solutions to “global warming” a nonsense. If first world economies continue to grow so must their emissions, at least for the foreseeable future, because there is no ready made solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to counter the growth.

Congruent with free trade and growth is the “throwaway society”. We increasingly produce and consume goods which are thrown away because they are not worth repairing because of the cost, because they rapidly become obsolescent or which are b poorly made but so cheap that the owner is content to use them for a short period before purchasing something else. How can that be squared with the idea that greenhouse emissions must be radically reduced not in twenty years or even ten years, but right now? The answer of course is that it cannot be squared.

The general approach of Western governments is not to honestly tackle the problem they perceive to exist but to eat away piecemeal at one or two visible aspects of the putative causes of the problem. For example, “green” taxes are put on 4x4s and congestion charging applied to cities, but such policies have little effect on the overall use of motor vehicles.

Even where something is indubitably not for necessary purposes nothing radical is done. Take the case of leisure air travel. Rhetoric spouts from politicians about carbon offsetting and taxes on aviation fuel but everyone knows nothing much will happen. There is of course a very practical reason for this, the better off are the prime users of air travel. The middle classes are generally the loudest proclaimers of the virtues of green values yet they are also the ones most committed to frequent flying as they go off on multiple foreign holidays a year and regularly visit their foreign second home, but no British Government would dream of overtly actually rationing such flights however much they might talk about it. The most they will do is put on an aviation tax, which of course penalises the poor.

The selfishness of the better off is a general problem for greens, because on average the richer the person the more energy the person will consume. An hilarious example of this came earlier in the year when the “Unjolly Green Giant” Al Gore was exposed as a man whose private residence consumed more than 20 times as much electricity as the average American home in 2006:

“The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. In 2006, Gore devoured nearly 221,000 kWh—more than 20 times the national average.

Last August alone, Gore burned through 22,619 kWh—guzzling more than twice the electricity in one month than an average American family uses in an entire year. As a result of his energy consumption, Gore’s average monthly electric bill topped $1,359.

Since the release of An Inconvenient Truth, Gore’s energy consumption has increased from an average of 16,200 kWh per month in 2005, to 18,400 kWh per month in 2006.

Gore’s extravagant energy use does not stop at his electric bill. Natural gas bills for Gore’s mansion and guest house averaged $1,080 per month last year. “  (

Or take the case of the Prince Charles’ second wife who recently unconscionably embarrassed the religiously green Prince:

“The Duchess of Cornwall has flown out for a cruise, leaving Prince Charles behind and his aides counting the cost of her gigantic carbon footprint.

“ She took a private plane laid on by her holiday host, the billionaire Dr Spiros Latsis, to join girlfriends for her annual jaunt around the Greek islands on the Latsis yacht.” (Daily Telegraph16/05/2007)

The rich and powerful do not think that the green rules apply to them. They are for “the little people” ,as the American millionairess Leona Helmsley memorably said about taxes.

Why are Western political elites so keen on seeming green? The answer lies in the type of personality which is attracted to politics. Politicians are generally people who wish to control the lives of others. In addition, even if they are not formally religious they tend to have the religious temperament, that is, they have an instinctive desire to believe in something and to force that belief on others. The green ideology in general and global warming in particular provide an outlet for those religious impulses.

The combination of the desire to control and the religious impulse fit neatly together, because as every “religious” believer knows, their creed cannot stand up to rational questioning. Consequently, the natural tendency of all believers, religious and secular, is to quash dissent. When they have power they invariably do so. Hence, the abuse and censorship which currently is taking place of those who do not buy into the green religion.

The other things which the green religion does is allow the political elites to constantly interfere in the lives of the masses and to manipulate public debate to keep the general public confused and afraid and thus more malleable. Hence, we have the petty authoritarianism of ever more draconian domestic waste obligations with householders being turned into criminals for not sorting their waste “correctly” and motorists being constantly berated for using their cars and threatened with ever higher motoring costs through policies such as road charging.

The green agenda is also being cynically exploited by stories such as the one below which tap a true and real fear of our age, mass immigration:

“Climate change will take the number of refugees worldwide to a billion by 2050, according to a report. Global warming and its consequences will exacerbate a global crisis In which 155 million people have been displaced by wars, natural disasters and development projects, the study by Christian Aid warns.  (Daily Telegraph 14/05/2007)

The green message is implicit but clear: obey us or you will be swamped with immigrants.

An example of a green propaganda tool  

Generally, Western elites, both politicians and the broader elite, are happy to allow the new green religion to go unchallenged. To illustrate the absurdities which are treated as fact I will examine one prime example of this unquestioning attitude.

“Taking the past year as a whole, it has also been the hottest 12-month period since 1659. Daily telegraph 28/04/2007

The year 1659 appears with remarkable frequency in the media in connection with the English climate, often in the form “since records began in 1659”. It is a statement rarely if every questioned by anyone with access to the mainstream media.

Just pause and think about that claim. Does it seem probable that official weather records have been meticulously kept for three and a half centuries, kept before the scientific and industrial revolutions, kept before the English or British state became a bureaucratic monster? The answer of course is that it is extremely improbable and did not happen. What did happen in the third quarter of the last century is that a British meteorologist by the name of Gordon Manley attempted to produce an historical series for temperature in England which he eventually extended to 1659. His work over a quarter of a century is summarised in two papers published by the Royal Meteorological Society: The mean temperature of central England 1698-1952 (1953) and Central England temperatures – monthly means 1959-1973 (1974) The two papers can be found at academics have built on his work since.

Manley, like a good academic, was scrupulous in admitting the difficulties in constructing such an historical series: “Methods of approximation must be resorted to [when constructing any historical series], most notably in England where, despite our very long scientific tradition, almost all observation before 1841 was dependant on amateur effort so that widely scattered records of diverse length and accuracy provide endless problems… The English records offer a formidable problem”. The opening paragraph of his 1953 paper.

“Formidable problem” is understating matters. Even readings of temperature today using highly sophisticated equipment cause considerable dispute because where the measurement is taken is all important, for example, readings taken in or close to urban areas will produce a higher temperature than ones taken in areas with little or no human habitation. Trying to get a consistent environment to take temperature over a long period of time is obviously difficult and comparisons with the past questionable because we can never know what the conditions were exactly at any point in the past. Hence, even with the advent of official records early in Victoria’s reign it is not simply a question of comparing data from one time with another. For example, has can temperatures in London today be meaningfully compared with those of 150 years ago when there were no motorised vehicles and coal was the main energy source?

Once Manley enters the period before the official records (pre 1841) his caveats become ever more severe, whether it be the paucity of the data, breaks in the data, the widely different means used to collect data, the absence of any information about how data was collected and even the switch between the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752 which means every record prior to the change has to be recalibrated to the Gregorian.

Manley’s research and analysis was honest but the most rational thing to conclude from it is that it proved no meaningful historical temperature series for England could be constructed over the period. Yet his research is trotted out as having the status of certain fact by the mainstream media, politicians and, to their shame, often by scientists when they enter the realm of public debate.


The only sane conclusion to draw from the way the world is developing is that nothing is going to prevent a massive increase in greenhouse gases as the developing world industrialises. That being so, the rational response of Western politicians would be to stop burdening their own countries with expensive green laws and concentrate instead on dealing with the effects of global warming if they materialise. That should not be impossible because any change will be gradual and our technological ability, already very substantial, will increase mightily in the next century or so.

Western elites must shift their mentality from that of liberal internationalism to concern for their own countries and people rather than the third world. Ultimately, it is for every nation to look after its own people and territory. Western politicians should stop kowtowing to their liberal guilt and start pointing out the facts of life to the developing world.

These facts are, that the pollution from the developing world is on schedule to utterly dwarf the pollution of the first world; that the developing world must take responsibility for their population growth; that the developing nations are responsible for the pollution they create and its effects on their own people; that the first world cannot be a milch cow for the rest of the world any longer and should not be expected to pay for any ill-effects of industrialisation created by the developing world.

Most importantly, Western elites need to stop peddling the line that the fact that the first world is industrialised is a justification for the rest of the world to industrialise to the same degree without regard to the consequences. That is akin to arguing that because ten people are on a life raft, the 100 in the water have the right to climb on as well regardless of whether it sinks the life raft.

The existing population disparity between the first world and the rest of the world places the question of development in a different moral context. Nor is this simply a case of industrialisation. The likely population expansion alone creates a great deal more pollution, whether it be greenhouse gases, deforestation, pressure on water resources or mass migration. That is the responsibility of the developing nations. If they cannot or will not restrict their population growth, they must take the consequences. The first world must look to its own interests and safety.

The Universal Terrorist God

Robert Henderson

God, who goes by a large number of aliases including Yaweh, Jehovah,  Allah, The Almighty and Him, has been on the run since the beginning  of   time as men have sought to bring him to book for his innumerable  terrorist   actions, including all “natural” disasters, wars, famines and diseases.

All attempts to treat with God over many millennia  have failed and the question is being asked “Does God have any coherent or  realisable  demands of  Man?”

Taxed with this problem, the Rev Dr I M A  Believer   said “God’s ways are mysterious and not for Man to question.  It is all part of  His divine plan”.

An unbeliever, Mr  Thomas  Doubting,  would have none of this. “One only has to look around the world to see what a nonsense this God idea is. Christians say he is a loving God, a good Shepherd and  Muslims say he is all merciful, while Jews have believed just about everything about their God  at some time in the past 3 millennia,  including believing He has chosen them as His favoured people.  Try squaring that with these disasters.

“As for the rest of religion, you run the gamut from folks believing that rocks and rivers have spirits in them to the likes of Buddhists who say there is no God, merely states of existence. If all that’s sending a coherent message to Man I’m Charlie Chaplin.”

A UN spokesman said: “Vast attempts have been made to appease God by  slavish worship and sacrifices over the past millennia, but all that  has achieved is to show the truth of Kipling’s verse ‘Once you have  paid the Danegeld/You never get rid of the Dane’. Our major problem is that it is not clear what God’s demands are as He sends out so many conflicting messages. It is unclear whether he has any rational or  consistent demands. ”

Dissenting voices have also been heard regarding the causes of “acts of God”.  A structural engineer Mr Al Putogether  blames the  series of disasters on poor design. “Just look at how poor the construction of Man is. He   can only walk upright by adopting a permanent falling tactic  and   women   often die in childbirth because the baby’s head is too big for the mother’s pelvis.  And what about viral  diseases? They just mutate all on their own.  Then there’s the big one: genetic coding which is mistranslated to give mutations.  And is it beyond the wit of an omniscient being to avoid the ageing process and senile dementia?   Clearly no one is in proper control.”

Mr Putogether was backed up by a fellow engineer, Mr Lou Tension. “Everything we see is jerry built.  You’ve got  a planet where molten lava keeps breaking through the  crust. What  kind of safety cover is that? Hasn’t God heard of negative feedback? Then there are these damned tectonic plates which just keep slipping about and causing earthquakes. And what about the oceans and the weather? Where’s the quality control? Where are  the safety fail-safes?  How come we have tidal waves and hurricanes?  What’s so great about things like the last Asian tsunami?  Jeeez… that  was just a low technology action using nothing more than crude  earth shifting and water. Hell, I could come up with something better over lunch!”


Following  the  media claim that God  is  in frequent communication with the one-time  President of the United States of Moronica, George W Moron,  ex-President  Moron said “God talks ter me plenty but he don’t tell me everythin’ an’  sometimes he tells me things I ain’t ter tell anyone else.”

Retired British PM Margaret Thatcher told BBC News that “Terrorists must never be   appeased,   even if they are God”.

Questioned on the latest “act of God”, all religious leaders said it  was  either “His mysterious will” or the consequence of “bad karma”.

A Papal spokesman issued a statement denying that the Catholic Church was merely “the temporal arm of God” and had no control over God’s actions.  However, the spokesman refused to condemn God and said that His  actions must be put in the context of Man’s past behaviour. The  spokeman  ended by emphasising that “He will not be going away”.

Last night the digital TV station Angelspan broadcast a message they  claimed was from God: “My will be done, whatever it is, and ‘acts of  God’ will continue until it is done!”

Angelspan said that the message had been left in the mind of their  political editor by the well established God method of transmission: Revelation.

Experts are agreed that future acts of terror by  God were certain, it was a case not of whether but when.

Leveson Inquiry – Jeff Edwards and another prima facie case of perjury

Miss Kim Brudenell

Solicitor to the Inquiry

Leveson Inquiry

Royal Courts of Justice

Strand, London WC1

25 March 2012

Dear Miss Brudenell,

The evidence given by Jeff Edwards before the Inquiry on 17 March 2012 provides another prima facie instance of perjury.

Mr Edwards was the reporter who wrote the hideously libellous story about me in the Mirror on 25 3 1997.  The Inquiry already has a photostat of this story and the front page flier in the Mirror advertising it, but I reproduce the story below for your immediate reference.

This is the story which eventually prompted Piers Morgan’s  letter to the PCC (, the letter in which he admits the Mirror received the information on which Edwards’ story was based from the police in circumstances which can only have been illegal because (1) Morgan writes “The police source of our article (whose identity we have a moral obligation to protect)” – there would be no need to protect a source if the transaction were legal – and (2) the nature of the material released to the Mirror and the circumstances in which it was released.  By the time the story was passed to the Mirror the CPS had already ruled that no crime had been committed – they made the ruling within a few hours of receiving the papers from the police. Hence, there  could by definition have been no legitimate reason for the police to release any information about me, whether that was to a single newspaper or the entire media.   The Inquiry has a copy of the letter but I attach it in facsimile for your immediate reference.

Morgan claims in the letter  to the PCC that he had never seen the my letters to the Blairs: viz” I have no way of directly knowing of the content of those letters because I have not had sight of them.”  Therefore,  Edwards was almost certainly  the recipient of the information which was illegally handed over by the police. The only possible alternative would have been for another  Mirror employee to have been given the information who then passed it to Edwards. However, this is wildly improbable because Edwards would have had to write,  without having seen any  evidence – we may conclude from the fact that Morgan never saw the letters  that Edwards did not have copies of them –  a story which if untrue was, by definition, dangerously libellous. Regardless of these considerations, Edwards would have been the most likely recipient of the information because of his long standing and exceptionally close relationship with the Metropolitan Police as revealed in his evidence to the Inquiry.

The illegal passing of  information to the Mirror means that the police officer and the Mirror recipient of the information committed  criminal offences under the Official Secrets and Data Protection Acts.  In addition, the police officer would have  been guilty of Misconduct in a Public Office. Even if by some miracle there was a third party between Edwards  and the police source, Edwards  would still  have committed  crimes under the Official Secrets  and Data Protection Acts by receiving the information because he would have known their source and consequently would have known the information was illegally received by him.

In his written and oral evidence to the Inquiry  Edwards  paints himself as whiter than white,  viz:

Q37 I have no experience of anyone wanting other than an understanding professional relationship, that often becomes genuine  friendship.” (


 “Q75 I never asked police officers in any way to disclose things they were not allowed to do or tried to push them to give me information they were uncomfortable disclosing.” (ibid)

(Note that Edwards does not say he never received information which it was illegal for the police to give or even offer. This strikes me as a deliberate attempt to avoid the question of whether he received information illegally. Incredibly, Robert Jay did not follow up this point in his questioning.)


The paper [NoW] had recently appointed a new editor, Nicholas Lloyd, and I think my boss was coming under pressure to get results.

I explained to him the job was difficult and his response was something to the effect that “we have

plenty of money available, let your contacts in the police know that we will reward them for good


I do not remember what I said in return but I remember being worried about both my job and what

my boss was suggesting as I had never paid police officers before, and was worried about the legal

and ethical issues involved.

No more was said for about three or four weeks, but I did not offer bribes or rewards to any police

contacts and clearly my performance was still not good enough because the News Editor confronted

me again.

He was angry and again said words to the effect that I should be paying police officers to induce

them to pass on information.

I do remember that I became upset and said to him that I disapproved strongly of such methods and

said something on the lines that I thought we were about exposing hypocrisy and corruption and yet

here we were with him instructing me to bribe police officers.

I think this was probably the final nail in my coffin because I remember him becoming angry and

saying words to the effect that “If you will not do my bidding I will find someone who will.”

The following week I was telephoned at home by my boss who told me the editor had decided to

remove me from the role of Crime Correspondent. I was not being sacked from the paper, but I was

to return to the main news room as a general reporter.

I learned that a colleague was being appointed to my job. I do not know if this reporter bribed or

rewarded police officers with money or any other inducements.” (


“Apart from the period Circa 1981 to 1985 when I was a staff reporter at the News of the World, I have no knowledge and no evidence of payments made to police personnel by journalists.”

“I can state that throughout my time at the Daily Mirror I was not encouraged in any way to offer rewards or bribes to police and have never indulged in that practice, which I think is wrong.

“I can also state that I never heard of any instance of another journalist at the Daily Mirror being involved in any business where money or other rewards were offered or given to police officers. (ibid)

20      ….there have been times in my life where I have —

21       I mean, I — because I was a senior staff reporter at

22       the Mirror, I was expected to mentor to some extent some

23       other reporters on occasions, or reporters would

24       frequently come to me for advice.  You know, younger

25       members of staff.  And on occasions I had to draw to


1       their attention the dangers of going down perhaps

 2       certain roads of where they could be compromised or even

 3       be in danger of more serious consequences in

 4       a particular relationship




            17 I was probably with a police team on ten to a dozen

            18       different occasions near Heathrow, and I had made a

            19       point, incidentally, of saying to them, “I do not want

            20       to know the details of this job until it is completed”;

            21       in other words I was very conscious of the fact I did

            22       not want at any point to be — if anything went wrong,

            23       anybody to say, “You were the leak on this”, or “The

            24       problem was caused by you”.  All I said, in the most

            25       general terms, “I don’t need to know the who, the what,


             1       the why.  If things unfold in front of me, that will be

             2       fine, but I don’t want to know in advance exactly what’s

             3       going on.”



The putative perjury

How can this portrait of Edwards  as  a veritable saint amongst sinners  be squared with the fact that he was willing to accept information about me from the police when the CPS had ruled that I had committed no crime and in  circumstances where the receiving of the information can only have been illegal?

In particular, how can  Edwards write in his first witness statement “Q37 I have no experience of anyone wanting other than an understanding professional relationship, that often becomes genuine  friendship” when at least in the instance involving me his relationship with the police was illegal?

There is also no reason to take at face value Edwards claim that “Apart from the period Circa 1981 to 1985 when I was a staff reporter at the News of the World, I have no knowledge and no evidence of payments made to police personnel by journalists.”  The passing of information about me to the Mirror  could not possibly have been to settle a grudge by the police against me and it would be most unlikely that a police officer would be willing to risk his or her career by passing on such inflammatory  information without reward, the two reasons other than payment Edwards gave in his evidence.

There is also the circumstantial evidence of the failure of the Scotland Yard to interview  Edwards, Morgan or anyone else at the Mirror when they eventually were forced to go through the motions of investigating  Morgan’s admission of receiving information from the police (I have already supplied the Inquiry with the details of this).   That looks very like deliberate collusion between the Met and the Mirror to ensure the story never made it into the public fold.

In view of the Blairs’ involvement, the very senior police officers who dealt with my complaints – these included the head of the Met’s internal investigations unit – and the fact that the newspaper involved was the Mirror – at that time the house journal of New Labour –  and Edwards’  close relationships with the Met generally and  senior Met Officers in particular,  it is reasonable to suspect  that police officer who provided the Mirror with the information was of senior rank.

I ask you to (1) investigate the question of Edwards’ perjury; (2) recall Edwards for questioning about the police source who supplied him with the information about me; (3)  recall Piers Morgan for questioning about his involvement with the story; (4) call the police officers involved with supposedly investigating  Morgan’s admission  receiving information from the police to explain why they did not interview anyone at the Mirror  and (5) call me to give evidence on my dealings with the Mirror and the police.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson



The Daily Mirror and Daily Herald stories with Robert Henderson’s commentary on them

The Mirror  article was accompanied by a large photograph of  me, printed  after I had specifically withheld my permission  for its use,  and was flagged on the front page with the charming  headline “COPS PROBE BLAIR PEST – EXCLUSIVE:  Fears over race hate mail.”

The  Mirror story contained  these  objectively  provable libels:  (1)  the  false accusation of  sending  ‘Race  hate’ letters  to Tony and Cherie Blair,  (2) the false  accusation that I sent  dozens of letters to the Blairs,  (3) the  false  accusation of assault,  (4) The false accusation  of  sending letters  containing  ‘graphic racist filth’,  (5)  the  false accusation of sending letters containing ‘racial insult’, (6)      the  false  accusation of sending letters  containing  ‘sewer  language’,  (7) the false accusation that I have  ‘tendencies associated  with  stalkers’,  (8) the  completely  fabricated quote  ‘If  he [Blair] gets elected,  he’ll let  in  all  the blacks and Asians’ and (9) the false statement that I refused to comment on the letters when approached by the Mirror.

 Daily Mirror 25 March 1997
                  Jeff Edwards Chief Crime Correspondent                                     
                  Police called in over string of hate letters

Police are probing a string of race hate  letters  to Tony and Cherie Blair.

The deluge of sinister messages sent to the  couple through the Labour Leader’s office at the House  of  Commons began last year.
Insiders   described   them  as   “personal   and   offensive”.
And  they  feared the letter  writer  could  even  become a stalker.
The  man behind the hate mail has been  described   as 51-year-old Robert Henderson.
He sparked a huge row two years ago when he wrote    an article criticising black players in the England   Cricket  Team  for  the  Magazine  Wisden’s   [sic]   Cricket Monthly


The  magazine was successfully sued for libel  by  England fast bowler Devon Malcolm.

At  first  staff at Labour’s HQ in  Walworth  Road,    South East London,  ignored the letters sent to the    Blairs.

But  they decided to call in the police when  the  TYPED messages became a rant against the couple and   started  arriving  at the rate of three or  four  a  week.
Insiders  say  the  letters  –  with Henderson’s   signature  and north London address – are  full  of   graphic racist filth implying Mr Blair would  relax  immigration laws once he gets to No 10.
A  Labour  insider said last night:  “The  writer    said  things  like  ‘why are you  married  to  that  idiot?  If  he gets elected he’ll let  in  all  the  blacks and Asians.’”
Detectives  visited the Blairs at Labour HQ  last  week.

They  were  shown dozens of  letters  which  were   taken away for forensic tests.

The letters – posted in London –  have also  been   studied by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Police said sending such material could result in  an assault charge.

  The  insider added:  “MPs often  get  threatening   mail which would go in the bin.

“But this is different. It has become a campaign, a  bombardment.   The  writer  displays  tendencies  associated with stalkers.
This writer is unusually persistent. The tone of   the letters has become increasingly nasty.  “He uses sewer language. The letters are racially insulting.

 When  the Mirror approached  ex-public  schoolboy  Henderson yesterday at his council flat, he refused to discuss the letters.

Last  night  a  Labour  spokesman  said:  “Public    figures getting offensive material in the post  are advised to refer them to police.
   “We now consider this man is not worth giving any   more publicity to.”
A Scotland Yard source said: “By sending letters  in a very unpleasant tone the writer has  committed   an assault.”

 Special Branch,  who organise protection for MPs,  have been informed of the situation.

The Daily  Herald’s report   published on the  same day as  the   Mirror story:
This story contained these objective provable libels:  (1) that  I sent “hate letters”  to Cherie Blair,  (2)  that  the letters were “sick”,  (3) that I bombarded Cherie Blair  with letters, 4) that I sent letters to Cherie Blair in  1996, (5)  that the letters contained “racist filth”,     (6)  that the police were shown 100 letters,  (7) that the letters were   “deeply offensive” and (8) that Cherie Blair declined to have  me   prosecuted  (That  decision  was  made  by   the   Crown       Prosecution Service who declared that “NO CRIME” had been committed).


             Sicko letters sent to Cherie

Tony Blair’s Wife Cherie has been bombarded  with    hate mail.

Police were called in after Mrs Blair feared  the   writer showed classic signs of being a stalker.
The  letters,  which are said to  contain  racist   filth  and  are described  as  “deeply  offensive”,    began last year.
  They  are  said to have been  written  by  Robert   Henderson,  who  two  years  ago  penned  a  racist   article criticising the selection of black  players   for the English cricket team.

Detectives were shown a bundle of 100 letters  at   a two hour meeting with the Blairs.

The  letters,  all posted in  London,  have  been   taken away for forensic examination.  But Mrs Blair  is thought to have declined to turn the matter into  a criminal case.

What should be public and what should be private?

Robert Henderson

Since 1979 every British government has perpetually tinkered with the balance  between private or state provision. Despite the Thatcherite cry for small government the state has has spent  a very large slice of GDP t throughout that time, In 1979 the percentage was 42.75% and in 2010 45.45% The lowest in the period was 34.25%  in 1989 (  However, there have been considerable changes in how the money has been spent.  All the major  nationalised industries have been placed in private hands, Britain’s defence capability has been reduced dramatically;  great swathes of public provision has been either put out to private contract entirely or restructured through mixed public/private enterprises such as the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and council houses have been  sold off without any attempt to replace them ensure an adequate supply of affordable housing for the future.

Recent governments of any political colour have shown themselves to be firmly in the globalist camp and have allowed more or less unrestricted immigration which has both restricted employment opportunities for native Britons and reduced  wages.  This has added to the massive  unemployment, admitted and disguised, which was created by the structural unemployment resulting from the destruction of Britain’s heavy manufacturing and extractive industries in the 1980s. The immigrants have  also competed for houses and public services  such as education and healthcare.  All of these things mean that much more of public spending goes on the Welfare State and allied services than it did in 1980.

The globalist mania is still upon us with the belief in all major parties that the market is the panacea. This leads the present government to  continue with the idea that anything done by private enterprise is by definition superior to that which is provided by the state, the two great privatising pushes being to privatise the NHS by stealth and the Royal Mail by any means possible, with the first  tentative steps to sell off the country’s roads being taken in their wake. There is next to no serious discussion about what should be privately  and what should be publicly provided. This essay is an attempt to fill that gap by asking the question what should be provided by the state and what should be left to private business and not-for-profit organisations such as charities.

It is easy in principle to decide whether something should be left to private or public enterprise. Simply ask five questions:

(1) Is the service or product generally considered to be a necessity?

(2) Will profit compromise safety?

(3) Is the service obviously inappropriate to be left in private

hands, for example policing or defence?

(4) Can the service be provided by private enterprise without subsidy?

(5) Can free enterprise be reasonably expected to deliver the necessity universally?

If the answer to any of (1)(2)(3) is YES or the answer to either (4) or (5) NO, then it should in principle be provided either directly or indirectly by the state.

What should be provided directly by the state?

Certain things should be reserved to the state as a matter of absolute principle. They are defence, foreign policy, policing, justice, the implementation of judicial sentences and decisions and the administration of welfare. They should be reserved absolutely because either they involve the use of force or the threat of force, punishment or the distribution of taxpayers’ money in areas such as unemployment benefit.

For reasons which I shall shortly examine, the state should also directly control any essential service which is a natural monopoly. What counts as a natural monopoly? Railways and utilities such as water and energy are examples They are natural monopolies because it is simply not practical to have competing lines running to the same destinations or competing utility pipes and cables supplying the same area.

It is possible, as has happened in some of the British privatisations, to allow different companies to compete to supply services such as trains, energy and water, but that is at best an insufficient or incomplete competition and at worst a wholly bogus one because the actual lines of supply – the railway track and the pipes or cables – still have to be maintained and owned by some organisation, private or public. That means the infrastructure has to be either owned publicly or, if owned by a private company, the company must be rigorously controlled by the state, as is the case with the British telephone landline infrastructure which is owned by the privatised British Telecom.

British government interference with natural monopolies since privatisation has gone far beyond controlling the infrastructure. In the case of the railways, a considerable public subsidy has been paid and continues to be paid to the private operators. In every monopoly industry a regulator has been appointed to control both prices and, in theory at least, to force companies to do things such as provide a certain level of investment in new equipment and to be conscientious when it comes to maintenance and operation of the infrastructure. To pretend that these monopoly industries are private companies working in a free market is patently absurd. They are effectively public services contracted out to private contractors.

A few services only work as monopolies, the classic example being the universal letter post, that is, letters delivered to any part of a territory for the same price. This only works if it is a monopoly because if there is competition from private companies or municipal postal services they will take sufficient of the profitable trade in the towns and cities to make it impossible for the universal supplier, in this country the Royal Mail, to subsidise the loss making deliveries to parts of the country outside the main urban centres. No private company would ever provide universal coverage unless they had a monopoly.

Why should the state directly control essential monopolies? Firstly, because there is no opportunity for meaningful competition and consequently the state must step in to prevent abuse of the monopoly position. To do that, as we have seen, it has to interfere very strongly with the running of the monopolies. In practice, it can only efficiently do this if it directly controls the monopoly.

If the state subcontracts an essential monopoly to private business or allows private business to buy a monopoly two general problems arise. The first difficulty is that a private business may at any point fail as a business or simply refuse to continue with a contract if it is not making money for the business. If that happens the state is over a barrel because it does not have the resources to immediately take over the enterprise, nor is it probable that another private company would be able or willing to step in at a moment’s notice – the worst outcome would be the cessation of a vital industry. Nor, if a company failed, is it obvious how a Government would prevent its assets being sold by a liquidator. In principle when Railtrack failed – the company which after privatisation had the responsibility for maintaining the infrastructure of the British rail network – the shareholders owned the assets (the railway infrastructure including much highly profitable land) and the creditors had a legitimate charge on them.

Clearly no government could allow the railway or vital industries such as water, gas and electricity simply to go under, either at the national or regional level. Hence, any government will, when shove comes to push, have to pay through the nose (your taxpaying nose in fact) to maintain the threatened industry, whether that be through enhancing a contract to make it more profitable, granting more profitable contracts to a new private contractor or through the payment of outright subsidies. A government is in a similar bind if a company is doing a bad job: they cannot simply sack them because who is to take their place?

Natural monopolies also raise other problems if they are in private hands. There is insufficient public control over areas such as maintenance and strategic planning. Good British examples can be found in the privatised water and energy industries. In the case of water the privatised companies have failed to invest adequately to stop the considerable loss of water from cracked pipes. Nor has a single major reservoir been built in England since privatisation. These investment failures have occurred despite the water companies consistently making healthy profits. The Water Regulator huffs and puffs but achieves little because the water companies know he can do little. Indeed, he has to date not even fully used the powers he has despite issuing many warnings to the water companies. And the Government? Well, they could pass a new law giving them direct powers over the water industry but what then? If a water company simply refuses to do what is needed where does the Government go? Nowhere fast is the answer.

With energy it is the strategic planning which is emasculated. Successive British governments have allowed Britain to sleepwalk into a position where the country went rapidly from being self-sufficient in energy to becoming a net importer. This was entirely predictable as it was known long before it happened that North Sea oil and gas was going to decline substantially from the beginning of the century. Despite this no meaningful strategic planning has taken place since privatisation with governments until very recently childishly claiming that it was not for them to interfere in the actual provision of energy now the industry is privately owned (the Blair Government has just woken up to the strategic danger of being dependent on foreign supplies but even now -2006 – no definite decision has been made on future British energy policy). The upshot of this lack of planning has been rapidly rising energy prices since 2005.

If water and the energy utilities had remained in public ownership, the fact that politicians had ultimate responsibility for them would have ensured that maintenance and strategic planning was not neglected because no politician or government could afford to be blamed for a water crisis or soaring power prices. Government could also subsidise  prices, something it cannot do now even if it chose to because of EU  competition rules. . The same principle applies to most of the privatised industries – take away the political responsibility and the profit motive rules.

Certain things are simply too important to be left to private efforts. Natural monopolies such as the railways, water and gas are literally essential to the survival of an advanced state such as Britain. Because of that stark fact alone they need to be treated as something much more than a commodity which can be simply left to the market. They should to be seen for what they are, strategic assets, and placed firmly under national control.

There is a further general reason why essential monopolies should be in public hands – the need for general provision. Left to private enterprise, even with an unfettered monopoly only the profitable parts of an industry would be supplied. Roads and railways would only be maintained if the traffic warranted it. Gas, electricity, water and telecommunications would only be supplied where sufficient profit could be made. The problem is we do not want roads and railways only over profitable routes, or the utilities such as gas and water supplied only to urban areas. We want them over the entire country. Only public provision can truly satisfy that need. Of course, private companies can have a duty to provide a general provision placed on the them but what if none is willing to take it or they take on the responsibility but then fail to meet it? The government then has to decide to either subsidise the company directly or to loosen the contract conditions to which the company has agreed.

The final type of enterprise which the state should always take in hand are those which experience tells us are beyond the resources of private business. Private enterprise can never be trusted to handle Tunnel. Margaret Thatcher insisted that no British public money would be involved and that private enterprise would bear the entire cost. It soon became clear that this was a nonsense. The Tunnel itself was completed but the companies which built it were not so much bankrupt as on another planet called Debt. And this was despite the very serious amounts of money pumped into the enterprise by the French Government,  both directly and indirectly. The situation was rescued, if one can dignify what happened with the word, by the banks and other  creditors rescheduling debts so far into the future that they all but vanished and the French Government surreptitiously pushing in more money via the French banks. To this day, the Channel Tunnel is the whitest of white private enterprise elephants, with the latest ” debt restructuring” always just around the corner.

Direct provision also has a further benefit. While assets are publicly owned and employees directly paid by the state, it is politically much more difficult to reduce or abolish that part of public provision. If the provision is supplied by a private company their contract can simply not be renewed or cancelled. If the provision is directly supplied, the government has the ticklish problem of having to take responsibility for the redundancies, something which greatly raises the profile of the removal of the provision.

The best example of the dangers of losing direct provision is the gradual privatisation by stealth of the NHS. To suddenly privatise the entire NHS would be impossible, but salami slice it over ten or fifteen years by continually increasing the private sector involvement and the position is completely different. Then the politician can use excuses such as “So much of it is in private hands now that the rest might as well be,” “We can’t have such a comprehensive service because private companies can’t provide it” and “Costs have risen so much that we have to cut this or that”. The whole system will be such a confused mess of public and private that the public will not know what to think. Also, the privatisation by stealth may have surreptitiously changed the way the public view the NHS so they see it no longer as a national institution but merely as a provider of medical care through disparate means. That in itself would reduce the moral outrage needed for any successful public protest.

The railways – a classic public service

The railways in Britain are not simply a private enterprise. They are a necessity to maintain general economic activity. Take away the railways and a substantial part of those employed in London could not continue to work there because the roads will not take the extra traffic. The same applies, to a lesser degree, to other large cities and towns.

The railways also fulfill an important social functions in providing transport to those without cars, by reducing car use generally and moving much heavy goods traffic from the roads. Finally, railways have a strategic value in times of war or blockade.

Without massive public subsidy the railways could not be maintained. No national railway system in the First World operates without taxpayers’ subsidy. Parts of systems may be profitable but not the entire system. It is not that our railways would simply shrink if left entirely to private enterprise, most of the system would not run at all. Commuter traffic is running at near capacity in the South East of England and fares are already so high generally that the massive price hike needed to meet the full cost of rail travel would result in a vicious circle of decreased traffic and decreased revenue.

The cost of maintaining Britain’s railways is simply beyond the private sector. Profit can be made on some intercity routes but that is about it. Even with the massive subsidies given to private companies since privatisation – ironically substantially larger than the pre-privatisation subsidies in real terms – private companies have signally failed to invest adequately. Indeed, the companies have radically reduced staffing levels – which may well have contributed to some crashes – and have constantly failed to meet their timetables.

The farce of the company with responsibility for railway maintenance immediately after privatisation in Britain, Railtrack, is a cautionary tale in itself. It created a completely different culture from that under the nationalised railways. Instead of employing most of the labour directly, they engaged subcontractors to do most of the work. The army of skilled workers built up by the original private companies and inherited by the nationalised ritish Rail was dispersed in reckless fashion and, inevitably, control over standards of maintenance became much diluted as it always does with subcontracting.

To put the cherry on the Railtrack story, the financial resources of the company, even with public subsidies, proved hopelessly inadequate. In 2002 the plug was pulled and it went into administration to eventually re-emerge restructured as a not-for-profit company  Network Rail. But before the administration was done and dusted, the axpayer had to cough up a great deal of money to compensate  shareholders because the government was faced with legal  action by the shareholders alleging maladministration, an  action which looked as though it might not only succeed but in the  process wash some very dirty government linen in public over exactly why and how Railtrack went into administration.


There is a further consideration with public services – safety. It may be that the public will have greater confidence in, for example, a state run railway simply because it is state run. The public’s confidence might be completely unfounded but that would not matter: theconfidence itself is a valuable thing.

The experience of all privatisation has been to make money by enforcing massive job cuts. Of course there was overmanning during the nationalised industry days. The trouble is that the cuts made since privatisation have often gone beyond improving efficiency. They went to the limits of safety, and probably past it, in pursuit of profit. Maintenance staff were reduced and consequently maintenance was reduced. The facts which have emerged since the Watford train crash in 2000 shows beyond doubt that many of the people involved in rail track maintenance are inexperienced at best and completely raw at worst.

When the state does not take direct responsibility for a service which has inherent safety consideration, the danger is that governments will respond to any safety fears by imposing ever more onerous obligations on the private suppliers of the service. The private companies are also susceptible to being overly cautious after an accident has happened or a possible danger becomes the subject of public comment.

Train crashes in Britain have been thankfully rare under both nationalised and privatised regimes, but when they happened under the nationalised industry the government was able to keep the show on the road because the public had confidence that safety was not being compromised simply to save money. Since privatisation crashes

have been met with absurd caution by both the bodies responsible for the infrastructure and the Government, with the national rail network being reduced to a farce after cracks in some rails were found after the Watford crash mentioned above. For the better part of a year, rail travel became a misery as hundreds of emergency speed restrictions were introduced and rails were tested for cracks and a massive programme of ail replacement was begun. The consequence  was horrendous delays and vast numbers of cancelled trains. The effects are arguably still being felt in 2006.

Perhaps the classic industry to which the safety consideration applies is the production of nuclear energy. Despite this this Government is saying that if a new generation of nuclear power stations is built it must be with private money and run by private companies. A clear case of  ideology – private is best – driving common sense out of the window. (It should be added that Labour said the same when in office.)

Foreign ownership further complicates matters. When a massive explosion devastated a fuel storage and refinery complex in Hemel Hempstead in 2006 and further parts of the complex were thought to be in danger of exploding, it was impossible to get the necessary information quickly because the company which owned the complex was French and no one with  sufficient authority could be immediately contacted.

What should be provided indirectly by the state?

Just because something is a necessity does not mean that the state must or should provide it directly. In fact, the less direct provision the better, because in a free society government should only touch that which it needs to touch. For example, whereas there are not many possible suppliers of air traffic control systems or railways, there

are many possible suppliers of food. Government may safely leave food distribution to the private supplier and provide assistance where it is needed through payments to those in need. It should be noted that it is not the market or private enterprise which provides the general provision in cases such as food but the giving of taxpayers’ money to those who need it which provides the general provision.

Service is really the crucial criterion. Governments should become directly involved in industrial work very rarely – the exceptions are defence suppliers, utilities such as water, gas and electricity because of their status as natural monopolies and their immense importance. No nationalised industry making or extracting anything has ever been an economic success. Governments running manufacturers, farming or the extractive industries such as coal mining are neither necessary nor desirable, because private enterprise will always do the job adequately and more efficiently provided the economic circumstances are right,that is, vital industries are protected through tariffs, quotas or subsidies to the extent necessary to make them profitable.

But such vital industries are the Government’s business because they have both a strategic and a social and economic value. Consequently, governments do have is a responsibility to ensure that they are maintained.

Any country which cannot feed itself, produce all essential manufactured products and services, is not self-sufficient in energy and does not have substantial reserves of essential raw products such as iron ore, is constrained in what it may do both nationally and internationally and the greater the reliance of imports, the greater the constraint. Of course any advanced industrial state will not be completely self-sufficient, but it is possible for a country to have a large degree of self-sufficiency in the essentials especially food. With modern crop yields and modern animal husbandry, Britain could feed itself at a pinch if her market for food was protected to allow reasonable profits to be made by farmers using not merely the best or most convenient land, but the more marginal land as well.

Where a country is severely dependent on imports, as is the case with Britain, they are utterly at the mercy of international blackmail and events. Even the most powerful state in the world, the USA, is much restricted because of its reliance on imported oil. Such constraints have the most serious of consequences. Would George Bush  have invaded Iraq if the USA was not reliant on Middle East oil? I doubt it.

The free trade dream of buying where a product can be produced cheapest is based on the absurd premise that never again will international circumstances arise which will place any country at risk of war or blockade. There is also the question of what happens when raw materials run short and the scarce materials either remain in the countries of origin or go to the richest and most powerful countries with the rest left to go hang. Free trade is not merely a fantasy but a dangerous one in the long term.

There is also the economic and social case for protection. Cheap imports from countries which have labour costs many times below those of the mature industrial states, goods made cheap by state subsidies and plain old-fashioned “dumping” means that no company in the West is able to compete with the imports. The effect of allowing such imports is twofold: either the workers in the importing countries must take lower wages or, more probably, watch the obliteration of the domestic industry.

The same thing happens where mass immigration is permitted. If the immigration did not occur the wages for the type of jobs which immigrants take would be higher. That in turn would lessen or end the shortages of native workers willing to do them. For most jobs all that is needed to solve a shortage of labour is a wage sufficiently competitive with other employments to attract enough applicants. A good example in Britain are nurses: a shortage of native applicants a few years ago has been turned into a surplus now by a substantially increase in their pay.

The loss of jobs and suppression of wages through cheap imports, outsourcing, or large scale immigration has considerable social and economic effects. Those who lose their jobs either remain unemployed or take jobs which pay much less, are less secure and have lesser benefits. Those who remain in their jobs but whose pay is suppressed suffer similar difficulties. Both groups find their spending power is reduced. They pay less tax. If they are unemployed the Treasury is a net loser. New immigrants compete for scarce public goods such as free healthcare, education and social housing. Most particularly they compete most directly with the poorer native members of society who have most need of such social supports.

Poor pay, insecurity, unemployment and competition from mass immigration all place a severe strain on the social cohesion of a country.

Neither the Left or Right need recoil in horror at the idea of a judicious protectionism,a strong immigration policy and a commitment to public provision for those things which cannot be provided by private enterprise either efficiently or at all.  The Labour Party has been strongly protectionist throughout most of its history. The Tory Party was protectionist before the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 and protectionist again between 1931 and the advent of Margaret Thatcher. For most of their history both parties have been in practice opposed to mass immigration. Both Labour and Tories have been comfortable with state provision in the past.  There is nothing but their ideological obsession with laissez faire economics and globalism to stand in the way of returning to a more balanced view of how the state should intervene.

Leveson Inquiry – Harriet Harman has her deniability removed

Note: I attended a conference entitled Taking on the Media Barons on Saturday 17 March. Its subject was media abuse including the issues under consideration by the Leveson Inquiry.  Harriet Harman was the first speaker.  In the course of her talk she spoke enthusiastically about the fearless way the Leveson Inquiry was going about its work. The  Q and A session which followed her speech allowed me to allowed me to both put her right about the reality of  what the Inquiry was doing – suppressing evidence and deliberately ignoring questions which begged to be asked  – and run briefly over my own evidence to the Inquiry  during which I helpfully explained that my  evidence arose  the failed  attempt by Tony and Cherie Blair to have me prosecuted on charges of Malicious Communications in the first week of the General Election campaign of 1997.  I then asked her what she and her party would do to publicise the shortcomings of Leveson and got a non-committal reply.

Harman left immediately after the questions and, as luck would have it, I was sitting close to where she had to come to leave the auditorium.  I stopped her and she asked me to send her what evidence I had, which I promised to do. I also got her to depart with a copy in her hot little hand of  Piers Morgan’s letter to the PCC in which he admits to receiving information from the police in circumstances which can only have been  illegal .  The email below details the information I have sent Ms Harman and what I have asked  her   to do.  Robert Henderson 18 3 2012

Harriet Harman MP

Shadow Cabinet Member for Culture, Media and Sport

House of Commons



Fax: 0207 219 4877


Tel: 0207 219 4218

18 March 2012

Dear Ms Harman,

As you requested at the Taking on the Media Barons conference yesterday, I send you  details of  the information which Leveson is suppressing to add to the copy of Piers Morgan letter I gave you in which he admits to  receiving information from the police in circumstances which can only be illegal.

To give you a flavour of  the other evidence I have submitted to the Inquiry I enclose below  my submission to the Inquiry.  I also send as attachments the supporting documents referred to in the submission.  They are there simply  for you to use if you want verification of what I claim in the submission.

To avoid swamping you with material at this stage, the only other documents I send are my email to the Inquiry alerting  them to  the possibility of Piers Morgan perjuring himself under oath before the Inquiry and the final email exchanges  between myself and the Inquiry leading up to the their refusal to either call me as a witness or pursue the question of the possibility of Morgan’s perjury.  I am willing to make my full documentation available to you if you wish and answer any questions you may  have, either in person or in writing.

Core Participant status

If anyone was qualified  for the role it is me. I can cover every aspect of the remit of the Inquiry bar phone hacking.  I have given the Inquiry irrefutable evidence of the grossest abuse by the Press in the shape of the Daily Mirror’s  treatment of me; the complete absence of any attempt by the PCC to address my complaint;  the Piers Morgan letter admitting that he had received information from the police in what could only have been illicit circumstances, my MP Frank Dobson’s bald refusal to assist me in gaining redress and, of course, Tony and Cherie Blair’s attempt to have me prosecuted on Malicious Communications charges which as lawyers they must have known were bogus – embarrassingly for the Blairs, the CPS ruled that my letters to them were entirely legal  within hours of receiving the papers from the police.  I would add that the Blairs did not go to the police when I sent the letters but only later when I circulated to the media  copies of the letters with the non-replies I had received at the beginning of the 1997 General Election campaign.

The consequences of the Blairs’ sinister attempt to have me prosecuted and the Mirror article were a decade of harassment – the harassment only ended when Blair left office – which included death threats and an Internet campaign inciting violence against me by publishing  my address and phone number with false claims such as  I was a paedophile.  The Mirror article itself was effectively also an incitement to attack me because it was a  grotesquely libellous story about me which falsely labelled me as a crude and dangerous racist, a story which  included my photograph  and the area in which I lived.   When I reported threats against me to the police they did nothing meaningful. They would register my complaints but do little actual investigating. It is worth noting that although the CPS ruled that there was no crime committed by me and I had never attempted to approach the Blairs physically or threatened to do so,  Special Branch were set to spy on me – see  the Mirror story.

Despite those impressive qualifications I was refused not only Core Participant status but even the status of an ordinary witness. When I made an application for  Core Participant status I was asked to make a detailed submission  about why I thought I qualified for the role. This I did.  At the directions hearing to decide whether I would be a Core Participant, the first thing Lord Leveson said was “I have not read the submissions and shall not be doing so.” He then gave me just  five minutes  to make oral submission.  It was simply impossible for me to cover all the arguments made in my submission in that time.  After the oral submission was  made, all the application was curtly dismissed with next to no reason given. The supposed impartial hearing was a joke in very bad taste.

The general conduct of the Inquiry

Apart from the evidence which I have submitted,  there is also the general manner in which the Inquiry is proceeding which point to the true intent of the Inquiry. Although there is a good deal of scandalous evidence being heard, it is noteworthy that no new evidence of criminal behaviour has been uncovered to date. The revelations of such behaviour  have either come from police witness or have been from journalists who have admitted they knew of misbehaviour  but have refused to name names or have failed to  give any names. When this happens they have  not been pressed to give names.  A prime example of the latter behaviour is the evidence of the Mirror’s one-time chief crime reporter Jeff Edwards who claimed that he had been directly instructed by his superior to bribe police officers, viz:  “You’re not invoicing me for money to be splashed about.  You should be essentially bribing more police officers.” (pp 105/6  Strangely, you may think, Edwards was  not  asked to name the person who told him to bribe the police.  Edwards, incidentally, is the  person who wrote the  Mirror story about me to which Morgan refers in his letter to the PCC.   That must mean he   was the recipient of the information about me from the police and consequently he is at least guilty of breaching the Official Secrets and Data Protection Acts.

There are other oddities about the taking of evidence.  When it comes to the question of the police  illegally supplying the Press with information, counsel to the Inquiry are  behaving in an  astonishingly naïve manner. Instead of building up to the question of whether the Press witness knows of bribes being paid to the  police for information by establishing the social relations between the witness and the police, counsel are simply plunging in with a bald “Have you  ever paid the police for information?”   A witness tempted to lie under oath will weigh up the chances of being found out and probably come to the conclusion that to deny paying the police  would  be a pretty safe lie to tell because probably only the police officer and themselves will know for sure whether a payment was made. On the other hand, if  they had to face a question such as “Have you ever illegally received information from the police ?” the witness might well find that a much riskier lie because more people would know about it.

It is telling that the question “Have you ever illegally received information from the police ?” has not been put to any witness.  There is every reason to put the question  because, even if no bribe has been given,  the police officer and the journalist will have committed offences under the Official Secrets Act and almost certainly the Data Protection Act.  The police officer could also be prosecuted for misconduct in a public office.  It is difficult to believe a barrister of Robert Jay’s experience does not realise that the questioning on this point is embarrassingly incompetent.  If that is correct, why is he persistently letting the fish off the hook?

As things stand it is simple for evidence to the Inquiry  to be suppressed. Your belief that Leveson will publish all the evidence submitted to him is mistaken. He is free to  publish only what he chooses to publish.  Indeed,  because the Inquiry is taking evidence under oath and in other aspects has the aspect of a formal legal process not dissimilar to court proceedings, it could be argued with some force that as a  matter of principle nothing which has not been introduced formally into evidence during the Inquiry  should be included in the Lord Leveson’s report.

The other issue I would ask you to keep in mind is the possibility that the conclusions of Lord Leveson’s  report will not reflect the evidence  given to the Inquiry. A prime example of this happening  after a public inquiry is the Hutton Report on the death of David Kelly which unambiguously supported the government’s contention that Kelly had committed suicide despite the considerable forensic and circumstantial  evidence that was uncovered during the Inquiry which suggested otherwise.

All the evidence to date  points to the Inquiry’s real purpose being to restrict  serious damage to News International. Other national newspapers are simply not being brought into the frame fro criminal behaviour.  I have no time for Murdoch, but  it is impossible clean out these modern  Augean Stables  by attending to only part of the stinking refuse.  To believe that criminal  press misbehaviour does not extend to other mainstream titles is either terminally naïve or disingenuous. Nor should there be an obsession with phone hacking. Highly objectionable as that is,   corrupt relationships between the police and the press are far more important because they affect the population generally because they corrupt law enforcement and the administration of justice.  Ditto collusive relationships between politicians and the media which both undermine democratic accountability and the Press’ claim to be a  public watchdog barking when corrupt or otherwise immoral practices exist. As for the  effects of libellous Press stories, these  can be catastrophically damaging to victims.

What do I want you to do?  (1) Expose Leveson’s censorship of evidence using the example of my evidence. (2) Ask why I was neither granted Core Participant status or called as a witness. (3) Question why the Piers Morgan letter to the PCC was not acted upon. (4) Call for Piers Morgan to be  investigated by the police on the basis of his admission and for a general investigation of the Mirror for corrupt relationships between the police and paper.  (5) Ask why the questioning  about the supply of illegal information to the police is so inept.  (6) Question the useful purpose of the Inquiry when it has shown itself to be so willing to suppress evidence and to ignore questions which could lead to criminal prosecutions.  (7) Call for papers other than the Murdoch press and the Mirror to have the spotlight shone on their misbehaviour.

I am going to start from  the assumption that you sincerely want to clean up the mess which politicians, the police and the Press have wrought.  However,   whatever you intend you need to do it in the context that I have removed the possibility of deniability  from you. You have  this email,  the  attached documentation  and  my comments – before an audience of over 100 –  during the question and answer session at the Taking on the Media Barons conference to inform you of what Leveson is really up to.  You are consequently no longer in a position to say you didn’t know.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson


Leveson Inquiry

Royal Courts of Justice


London WC1

25 November 2011

Dear Lord Leveson,

I submit examples of misbehaviour  by  the media and  the  PCC plus collusion between the police and the media .   In every case I was the person who was directly affected by the behaviour.   For each case I enclose  documents which strongly support my accusation.

I wish to give testimony in person before your inquiry.

The  examples  of misbehaviour are:

1. The illicit receipt of information supplied by the police to the Daily Mirror

On 15 March 1997 the Daily Mirror ran a hideously  libellous story about me  which contained numerous serious  inaccuracies. I made a complaint to the PCC. As part of their investigation the PCC sent me a copy of a letter sent to them by the then Mirror editor Piers Morgan.

In it he admits receiving information from the police , 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.” This can only have been illegal because  there would be no need to protect the police source  if the information had been given legitimately.

A copy of Morgan’s letter is in the attached Word file PCC Piers  Morgan letter.docx . I have also placed a second copy beneath it with my remarks  on Morgan’s comments  interpolated within his text –  see the  square bracket contained  text marked RH.  A hard copy of Morgan’s letter will be sent to you.

2. The failure of Scotland Yard to meaningfully investigate the supply of illicit information to the Mirror

I referred Morgan’s letter to Kentish Town police  with a request that they investigate  the selling of information to the Mirror. A copy of the letter is contained within the Word file Mirror Police source complaint.docx  The case was referred to Scotland Yard. There it was supposedly investigated by Det Supt Ian Curtis. In fact, no meaningful investigation was undertaken because Curtis admitted to me in a telephone conversation that no one at the Mirror was interviewed, not Morgan, not the author of the piece  Jeff Edwards, the Mirror’s chief crime reporter.

3.  The failure of the PCC

I made complaints to the PCC about the Mirror’s libel of me and their refusal to either make a retraction or allow me any opportunity to reply.   The PCC refused to come to a determination citing article   53.5 of the PCC’s  MEMORANDUM OF ASSOCIATION which states  “The Commission shall not consider a complaint which it believes to be frivolous or which it believes to be inappropriate to entertain or proceed with for any other reason”.  In other words, they can get rid of any complaint simply by saying they do not like it.

Mike Jempson, the director of what was then Presswise (now Mediawise] a charity set up to help victims of the press, sent them several   stinging letters  about their refusal .

Copies of the correspondence between Mike Jempson and the PCC  are contained in the attached Word file PCC Mike Jempson.docx.  Hard copies of the letters will be sent to you.

4 The Mirror’s Behaviour

Copies of the Mirror story and that of its sister paper  the Daily Herald are contained within the attached Word file  Daily Mirror and Daily Record stories.docx. Hard copies of the stories  will be sent to you.

Both stories had a series of  grotesque libels of me.  As you will see from Morgan’s letter to the PCC,   the Mirror admit they do not have letters from me to the Blairs.   Hence, they had no ground whatsoever for believing the libels to be true.

My unpublished response to the Mirror story “Moral Simpletons target innocent man” was written soon after the story’s publication and covers in depth the libels and inaccuracies contained within the story.  A copy is contained within Word file Moral Simpletons.docx.

Mike Jempson saw my letters to the Blairs  and concluded that although robust there was absolutely nothing to support the Mirror’s description of me as a crude, foulmouthed and dangerous racist . In addition, the Conservative MP  Sir Richard Body had sight of the letters and afterwards put down this Early Day Motion in the Commons, viz.:

10 November 1999


Sir Richard Body

That this House regrets that the Right honourable Member for Sedgefield [Tony Blair] attempted to persuade the Metropolitan Police to bring criminal charges against Robert Henderson, concerning the Right honourable Member’s complaints to the police of an offence against the person, malicious letters and racial insult arising from letters Robert Henderson had written to the Right honourable Member complaining about various instances of publicly-reported racism involving the Labour Party; and that, after the Crown Prosecution Service rejected the complaints of the Right honourable Member and the Right honourable Member failed to take any civil action against Robert Henderson, Special Branch were employed to spy upon Robert Henderson, notwithstanding that Robert Henderson had been officially cleared of any illegal action.

This motion is now part of the official House of Commons record – see

The effect of the Mirror story

I was unable to gain any redress from the Mirror, the PCC or the  police.   Following the publication of the Mirror story I became the subject to harassment which included people posting my name, address and phone number on social websites  and inciting people to attack me.

This was on top of the unrequited media abuse I received after the publication of my  article in Wisden Cricket Monthly  “Is it in the blood?” in  July 1995. This  resulted in dozens of stories in the press totalling thousands of words to which I was denied any reply whatsoever, including by WCM who failed in the first obligation of as publisher to defend that which they publish.

In short, I was both grotesquely abused by the press and failed by every  body which supposedly exists to give redress for press misbehaviour.

Please acknowledge receipt of this email.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson


Your email has been receivedSunday, 18 March, 2012 20:43

From: “HARMAN, Harriet”Add sender to ContactsTo: “robert henderson”

Thank you for emailing Harriet Harman, Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham.

Politically incorrect film reviews – Coriolanus

Main Cast

Ralph Fiennes as Coriolanus

Gerard Butler as Tullus Aufidius

Vanessa Redgrave as Volumnia

Brian Cox as Menenius

Jessica Chastain as Virgilia

John Kani as General Cominius

James Nesbitt as Sicinius

Paul Jesson as Brutus

Jon Snow as TV Anchorman

Coriolanus  competes  with Roman Chainsaw Massacre aka Titus Andronicus  as the least accessible Shakespeare play  today.   Its estrangement from the   modern Western audience  lies in its treatment  of subjects –  patriotism, treason, the warrior spirit  and revenge – which that peculiar creature the latterday  liberal has been remarkably  successful in suppressing from public view, although not from the privacy of the individual mind.   It is this expression of these unfashionable sentiments and emotions which make it so valuable a play for our times because they are fundamental to the way in which human societies organise themselves.  That is why it should be seen, even though it is not  one of Shakespeare’s great plays.

The play is set in the period following the fall of the Tarquins as kings of Rome, an event traditionally dated to 508 BC,  when the Republic is being established.  Rome is at war with the Volsci.  The Roman general Caius Martius is victorious over the Volscian city of Corioli and is granted the additional name of Coriolanus in recognition of the feat and seeks to become a consul, the most powerful and prestigious magistrate in the Roman Republic.  He is thwarted in this by an aristocratic pride which knows no restraint and drives  him into exile after  he refuses to sweet-talk the plebians.

In exile Coriolanus joins with  Volsci and leads an attack on Rome  to revenge himself. But before he attacks he is persuaded by his mother Volumina to spare Rome the sack and instead concludes a treaty between Rome and the Volsci.   By this time Aufidius has become jealous of  his one-time enemy’s charisma and power over the Volsian troops and has him murdered.

The character of Coriolanus is a common enough one, the great general who turns his hand to politics and finds it a very different business.  Wellington is a good example .On becoming prime minister he could not understand why his fellow cabinet members would not simply receive his orders and execute them, but instead argued and engaged in the dark political arts to subvert those policies they disliked.

Wellington is also an exemplar of the post-French Revolution  aristocratic reactionary, having an absolute belief in the right and need of his class to rule and the dire consequences of allowing  not only the masses but also the rising middle classes to  have any hand in government.  (Looking  mournfully at the first Parliament elected after the Great Reform Act  which placed a sprinkling of men of the middling sort  in House of Commons  he dolefully remarked  that he had “never seen so many bad hats in his life”. )

The patrician contempt for the masses  may seem to be merely self-serving, a justification for maintaining the status quo which privileges the patrician class.  There is an element of that,  but it is not simply self-serving  propaganda.  Elites commonly  have  a genuine fear of the masses and in societies without any history of representative government based on a broad franchise  those fears would seem reasonable.  Nor, in undemocratic but settled  societies ,  is the idea of noblesse oblige altogether a sham, for those  born into families which have long had social power in a particular area will often have a relationship with  the population about them  which is based on the duty of privilege as well as its power.

Coriolanus, like Wellington, has a  patrician cast of mind, but unlike Wellington  who had the manners of a gentleman and a strong sense of noblesse oblige,    Coriolanus has only his  insane pride which leads him to baulk at offering  the plebs even civil  words let alone flattering ones and is contemptuous of pleas to  remind them of his service to Rome on the battlefield by showing them his many  scars.

Wellington saw war as a bloody business to be avoided where possible,  although never shirked when necessary;  Coriolanus is in love with it “ Let me have war, say I; it exceeds peace as far as day does night; it’s spritely, waking, audible, and full of vent. Peace is a very apoplexy, lethargy: mulled, deaf, sleepy, insensible; a getter of more bastard children than war’s a destroyer of men. “ (4.5.238)

The idea that war is a desirable occupation in itself  is a strange one to those brought up in modern Western  societies which ostensibly promote peace at all cost and shudder at the very thought of war, unless of course it is war which suits their liberal internationalist purposes.   But the idea would have seemed perfectly natural, indeed praiseworthy, in most times and places throughout history, for  the warrior has commonly had an integral role in society.

The basic organising  template of homo sapiens has almost certainly not changed from the time when he wandered  in small bands. The anthropology of extant hunter-gathers  today  tells the same  story: men are  valued for  their courage and ability to hunt and fight;  the women do the gathering and child rearing.  It is not an unreasonable assumption to think that this is the way humans have behaved  throughout their history.

To the evidence of present day anthropology  can be added the fact that  such a division of labour between males and females makes perfect sense in tribal societies ,  both in terms of the obvious efficiency  of allotting different roles to men and women  where the women have the task of carrying and then weaning children and in the difference in size,  power and body shape of men and women. There is the further evidence of overt male dominance in societies generally throughout history and in most places today.   It is also worth noting that primates (and mammals generally) normally have  males which are larger and more powerful than the females and it would be very odd if homo sapiens did not display the same sexual dimorphism because we are descended from beings which had this quality.

War not peace has been the normal state for human beings throughout history.  There is a very good reason for that.  Because homo sapiens is a social animal we have to set limits to the group for  without such limits a hierarchy cannot evolve as there is no beginning and end to tie the hierarchy to.   Without a hierarchy no social animal can exist because there would be no means of the animal establishing the sorts of behaviours which make  social animals work,  most notably submission not through violence but by an acceptance of a place in the pecking order.  However, such submission has to be earned through violence for the hierarchy is established through physical dominance.

Homo sapiens being  self-conscious beings with  high intelligence and  possessed of language can, even at the level of hunter gatherers or more settled tribal peoples ,do better than simply establish a hierarchy through violence or even physical size.  Nonetheless, violence plays a part with high rates of mortality from fighting within tribes being widely reported in studies of tribal peoples. Not only that but conflict between tribes  is commonplace. This is unsurprising because each group which sees itself as a separate unit is doing what any other organism does which is fight  for resources,  whether that be territory, women or  food.  Fighting between tribes will reinforce the high status of the warrior within the band or tribe.

When societies get larger and more sophisticated they  find different ways of developing  and maintaining hierarchies such as inherited land and status, but violence  still plays a part as the countless  violent struggles for political power throughout history show.  In addition, the larger the  size of  a society  the greater the potential  threat it poses to its neighbours . That alone will make war likely. But the more sophisticated a society is the greater its ability to intellectualise threats from those outside the tribe, clan or nation and to create reasons which justify war and exalt the position of the warrior.  This also makes war more likely because it not only plays on fears but creates a social structure, as happened for example  in mediaeval Europe, whereby the  primary  purpose of the warrior class (in Europe’s case the knights) was to  wage war.

Even where there is no explicit warrior class in the sense of the knightly class, the martial values still endure.  As  Europe gradually moved into what we call modernity,  armed conflict between  societies  did not diminish. Bravery in arms was still much admired. Moreover, masculinity generally was  admired.  When the First World War broke out Britons were at first very gung-ho about joining the fight and as the reality of modern war became apparent and enthusiasm for enlisting waned,  British men who did not volunteer were called cowards, not least by women.   The idea that it was natural for men to fight in defence of the tribe was still strong.

If this is, broadly speaking,  a true description of human society throughout time it is scarcely surprising that something of the warrior spirit remains even in those societies which are supposedly most removed from the primitive. Natural selection has worked to produce fighters and hunters, selected  males to protect their women and children,  to defend their territory and preserve their tribe.   To be a man is to feel  that it is natural to want to protect with force that which he cares about and to know that is what women and his fellow men expect him to feel. Dr Johnson’s remark “Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea” has a great deal of sense in it.

Even in today’s  western world where the idea of violence is officially treated as a primitive aberration,  few men find it  comfortable to be thought a  physical coward, even though physical bravery is often far easier  to summon than moral courage. Nor is there a disgust at the idea of violence as such,  especially amongst men.  A  large part of the staple fare of the mass media has always been  violence, whether of war or gangsters in fiction or ever increasing reporting of  real violence.  Sports, especially contact sports, also cater to the interest, they being surrogates for war.  (If anyone doubts the potency of sports to substitute, on the emotional level, for war they should go to an evening’s  professional boxing and observe the behaviour of the crowd, both male and female. The atmosphere is  raw, with the men on the verge of violence themselves and the women palpably sexually excited.

Even in a country such as Britain which is tightly constrained by political correctness  physical courage is still applauded, not only by the public at large, but by the liberal elite when it suits them.  The likes of Cameron and Blair have been  ready enough to fight wars  to further their political objectives; more than happy to use the police to silence dissent and every willing to employ personal bodyguards. In their heart of hearts they have no doubt about the value of men with a talent for violence.

As for the population at large, they still genuinely celebrate personal bravery because as  Johnson saw  “the profession of soldiers and sailors has the dignity of danger. Mankind reverence those who have got over fear, which is so general a weakness.”

Treason is an concept which liberals  have largely extinguished as a conscious  idea in Britain.  But it still lurks in natural emotional baggage of  the overwhelming majority of people, perhaps even everyone. No one is really comfortable, no, not even liberals, when they see, for example,  Britain unable to defend her own trade and industry or control her borders because of  sovereignty given away.  White, mainly middleclass flight, from areas of high immigration tells its own story of the true feelings of white liberals.  The idea of treason is simply the intellectualisation of natural human instincts.

When it comes to treason, the position of Coriolanus is unusual. He has been exiled from Rome despite his great service  to her as a soldier.  It could be argued that he is not committing treason at all because his countrymen have cast him out. And yet and yet… patriotism is not a simply matter of individual rights and wrongs, something which is taken up or put down by on rational or petty grounds. It is visceral. For all his harshness and desire for personal retribution, his egotism and individualism,   Coriolanus is swayed to spare Rome the worst.

That leaves us with revenge. The idea of revenge  is portrayed as a primitive emotion by latterday liberals, yet what is recourse to the criminal law but revenge? If a person did not wish to revenge themselves why report a crime? In the vast majority of cases a criminal conviction will bring the victim no material compensation from  the criminal. All it will result in is the punishment of the criminal. We may try to justify our reporting of crime by the such ploys as saying “We did it to protect others”, but that does not really work because most people who are convicted of a crime either do not go to prison or  receive only a short sentence. Moreover, a criminal conviction may well make the criminal more likely to offend because a criminal record shuts of job opportunities and if he or she goes to prison they may become more enmeshed in the criminal fraternity.  The reality is we want revenge. The purpose of a justice system is to substitute law for personal revenge.

What of the film? There are problem with it . The main  plus point is that  the major characters are well cast. Fiennes is exactly right in the role of Coriolanus, his sharp features accented by a closely shaven head  being as flint-like as his  character’s disdain; Brian Cox brings his natural authority to the placatory and honest patrician Menenius and Vanessa Redgrave as Coriolanus’ mother Volumnia shows remarkable moral and physical energy for a woman well into her seventies.  Of the rest Gerrard Butler as the Volscian leader  Tullus Aufidius  projects the necessary  toughness and  the Tribunes, James Nesbitt as Sicinius and Paul Jesson as Brutus,  both display the moral shabbiness of the populist politician – Jesson in particular is satisfyingly slimey.

There is also the compensation of  the language. Even in his lesser  plays  Shakespeare manages to produce a stream of  wonderful encapsulations : “Many-headed multitude”, “Nature teaches beasts to know their friends”;  “These eyes are not the same I wore in Rome”.

But there are significant problems with the film. The director has decided (sigh) to set the action in the Balkans during the 1990s and panders further to the cult of “relevance” by using a well known British TV face, the newsreader Jon Snow, to pass comments and conduct interviews. Would that a modern director  would do something really radical and produce Shakespeare in settings appropriate to  each play.

The film also suffers from what might be called “Troy discordance”, after Brad Pitt’s heroic refusal in the role of Achilles in the 2004 film Troy   to abandon his American accent while the rest of the cast, whether English or otherwise, spoke  with various English accents. There is the same problem here. Most of the major parts are taken by actors speaking forms of received pronunciation  but  the others and all the minor characters offer a mishmash of  Scottish, Northern Irish, American and  Mittel European voices.  I have nothing against any of these accents as such, but it is their mixture which creates a disobliging cacophony.  Give me an all-American, all Slav  or all Scottish cast in the film and I would have no problem. It would  also have been reasonable to had one side in the conflict speaking in one accent and the other side speaking in another.

This discordance is added to by the inability of the minor actors generally  and Jessica Chastain , especially, to master the syntactical complexities of  Shakespeare’s words.

There was one utterly gratuitous piece of political correctness, the casting of the black actor John Kani as General Cominius, a man who seems to believe that speaking in a monotone heavy timbre rumbling equates to fine Shakespearean diction.

But the pluses outweigh the minuses and  the importance  and relevance of the play to our own time make it worth  viewing,  not least because the vast majority of people will not have an opportunity to see a good stage version.

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