Monthly Archives: September 2012

Politically incorrect film reviews – God Bless America

Robert Henderson

Main Cast

Joel Murray as Frank Murdoch

Tara Lynne Barr as Roxanne “Roxy” Harmon

Directed by  Bobcat Goldthwait

This is a very confused film . At one level it is a shoot ‘em up murderfest, on another  a road movie, on a third a political polemic.  There are elements of Michael Douglas in Falling Down, Bonnie and Clyde and a Michael Moore documentary.

There are only two characters of significance: Joel Murray (Bill Murray’s brother)  is Frank Murdoch and  Tara Lynne Barr is  Roxanne “Roxy” Harmon. Murdoch is an insurance salesman in late middle age  who is nauseated by modern America.  He loathes the vacuity of thought and purpose he sees in those around him, the absence of good manners,  the sexualisation of children and the vulgarity and  casual  cruelty of reality shows ? (His particular TV hatred is a reality show  American Superstarz where a  hopeless singer named Steven Clark (Aris Alvarado) is made an object of fun by the judges and the audience . Eventually Clark tries but fails to commit suicide). Murdoch  summarises his feelings to  a work colleague “Why have a civilisation if we are not interested in being civilised any more?”

All of those sentiments could be ascribed to someone of the political right, as could the character’s  liking for guns and his readiness and delight in using them.  But on top of all this raw and understandable emotion  is piled a thick grey curtain of political correctness which oozes over the film as oil floats on water. Apart from liking guns, having no scruples about killing  and generally disapproving of modern American life and culture,  Murdoch also has a hatred of the politically incorrect who  have the temerity to disapprove of homosexuals,  mass immigration and  abortion and support the neo-cons in their warmongering or  the  Tea Party in their small state agenda. As he  puts it, “I am not afraid of immigrants and people with vaginas”.

Murdoch’s life is messy. He is separated from his wife and daughter and  lives in a cheap flat with the next-door-neighbour –from-hell  whose particular source of provocation is a baby who never seems to stop crying. Murdoch  fantasises about killing the child and the father by spectacularly blowing them away with a heavyweight gun Arnold Schwarzenegger  would have been happy to tote in one of his more extreme roles.    His ex-wife panders to their daughter who is a shrieking ingrate, much like the first person he kills,  Chloe(Maddie Hasson),  the daughter  of a family taking part in a fly-on-the-wall  reality show .

Murdoch  loses his job summarily as, ironically,  he becomes a victim of  the political correctness which he embraces . He has sent flowers to the home of a receptionist who works for the same company and this is treated as sexual harassment.  He  is also told (wrongly)  by his doctor that he is dying of a brain tumour.  With these  burdens upon him Murdoch decides  to commit suicide, but decides to murder Chloe first after watching an episode of her  reality show when her behaviour is ungrateful with knobs on, behaviour  which in Murdoch’s eyes makes her worthy of death.    He  first attempts  to burn her to death  by handcuffing her to the steering wheel   of her car and then shoving a burning wick made of paper  into the petrol tank – note the very cruel intended death – and when this  fails  through his laughable incompetence,  he shoots the girl.

At this point  Roxy Harmon appears. She is a 16-year-old classmate of  Chloe . Her character is  teen psychopath mixed with winning ingénue. Having seen Murdoch kill the Chloe she squeals with delight and attaches herself to him. After he has threatened suicide she persuades Murdoch not to do it because the media would  depict him as a stalker who killed the girl because of a sexual obsession rather than  a pain-in-the-neck deserving death .  Roxy also suggests that they kill Chloe’s parents because they are also worthless.  They do this and Roxy then persuades Murdoch  to take her with him on a killing spree by  feeding him with false story about coming from a deprived and abusive family comprised of a  drug addict mother and rapist step-father. Murdoch agrees to let her come along   on the understanding that  they only kill people who deserve it, the classic modern liberal’s understanding of justice, that is, punish anyone who disagrees with us.

The pair go on a  killing spree the motives for which range from the childlike temper tantrum of  killing of a man who double parks, teenagers  in a cinema who talk, throw popcorn and use their mobile phones to the adolescent ideologically inspired murder of a right wing  broadcaster.

Eventually Murdoch learns that his doctor had made a mistake  and that he does not have a brain tumour. Cheered by this news, Murdoch plans to escape to France with Roxy and start a new life.  Before this plan can be put into action he is propositioned by a man who thinks he is Roxy’s pimp. Depressed again by this encounter he returns to his motel room and sees Roxy’s parents making a plea for her to come home. Far from being from a dysfunctional family, Roxy comes from a staid middle class family with money.  Murdoch is dismayed further at the disjunction between reality and his liberal fantasy about rescuing Roxy from a non-pc  home. He relieves his feeling by beating to death the man who thought he was Roxy’s pimp.

Murdoch then decides to make a grand statement by deciding to hijack  Superstarz  to both say what he thinks of modern America in general and the expose what he perceives to be the mistreatment of   Steven Clark  in particular. This involves him buying some heavyweight weaponry from a shady  gun dealer (Mike Tristano). The scene  involves startlingly hard-core political incorrectness  with Tristano engaging in some most unusual sales spiel  such as  “Put this 357 magnum….to the back of some n****r’s head and all you are going to see is some pink mist“;  “Walther P38. German. Who knows how to kill people better than German, right? You’re not a Jew are you Frank?;  “AK47 . When you absolutely have to positively waste every mother f**ker in the room accept no substitute …. ”  It’s a spray and spray weapon and what’s better than that right?”

During this scene Murdoch’s face is deepening ever further into the peculiarly ghastly rictus grimace mixed with sickly grin  which modern liberals adopt when  having to listen to anything which treads heavily on their pc dreams.  (The scene can be found at  This is interesting because left-liberal directors seem to get a particular thrill out of creating scenes of intense political incorrectness. It is almost as if, not being able to readily find such rich fare in real life,  they have to provide an ersatz substitute to persuade themselves that non-pc demons really do exist. Or perhaps they simply enjoy the thrill of the illicit.

The final action is in the American Superstarz  studio where Murdoch and Roxy are re-united and blast all and sundry before being riddled in a manner suggestive of both Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Bonnie and Clyde.  Before this happens Murdoch suffers the fate of all modern liberals of being mugged by disagreeable reality.  Steven Clark  tells him that the reason he had attempted suicide was not because of the ridicule but because he feared he was going top be dropped by the show.  Murdoch responds by shooting him in the manner of a five-year-old throwing a tantrum.

Murray is extremely good as Murdoch, giving him at first a querulous anger which dissolves into the persona of a confident killer as the film progresses. (He is surprisingly adept at the hit-man element of the film). Tara Lynne Barr is engaging in a Goldie Hawn sort of way as Roxy. I suspect she will make a substantial career in comedy.

This is a watchable film in its own right, but it is also worth viewing because Murdoch encapsulates the modern liberal character: part young child, part adolescent, religiously  mouthing politically correct platitudes whilst casually removing those who irritate him Murdoch’s desire to control what people do and say is simply a desire to control. The fact that a large part of his agenda could be espoused by the Right is irrelevant. It is the control which matters..  Like all those who are captured by an ideology,  the politically correct really only want to make the world in their own image at best and at worst, like the Party in 1984, the only object of their  power is the exercise of power itself.

Politically incorrect film reviews – The Sweeney

Main cast Ray Winstone, Ben Drew, Damian Lewis, Hayley Atwell and Steven Mackintosh.

Robert Henderson

The latest filmic incarnation of the 1970s TV series the Sweeney is  a serious mess. (For those unfamiliar with the  TV series, the Sweeney is rhyming slang for the  Flying  Squad  = Sweeney Todd – an elite (London) Metropolitan Police unit dealing with armed robberies and other serious  armed  crime).  The film, as with the TV series, is built around the operational head of the Flying Squad Detective Inspector Jack Regan (Ray Winstone) and his second in command Detective Sergeant  George Carter (Ben Drew).

The action is removed from the 1970s  to  the  world   of the modern Metropolitan police.   This time shift  alone makes the  film utterly implausible, because the  routine mistreatment of villains and suspects in the film  would simply be impossible in the present day world of taped interviews and all too pervasive recording equipment. An officer might get away with it   once if he was dealing today with a villain who had reason to keep quiet about the abuse  but not over and over again. Nor will you find suspects being routinely interviewed without a lawyer. The extent of the violence, especially the frequent gun fights, adds to the absurdity.  If the  film had  remained set in  the 1970s, the audience might just have swallowed the mistreatment of suspects  just as they did with  the TV series Life on Mars, a  recent TV police drama set in the 1970s, although the extensive use of guns would still have seemed ludicrous because even today the British police use guns on a remarkably small number of occasions a year and did so even less in the 1970s.

But the updating of the film is not the most glaring  implausibility of the film.  This is an equal opportunities production . Whereas  in the 1970s TV series and the two original film spin-offs the Flying Squad was  resolutely white and male,  here it is crammed to the gunnels with , yes you’ve guessed it, blacks and women. (There is a double pc score in two cases because  two of the women are black).    Even in the  achingly  politically correct modern London police force you would be startled to the point of a cardiac arrest to find that  half the staff  in an elite unit like the Flying Squad were either black or female.  Just  to put the pc cherry on the cake, Carter is given a black stepson.

As so often happens with the inclusion of black characters in modern  films, they are utterly peripheral.  The pc quota has been filled and the pc gods placated. The white  women with one exception  are also non-entities.  The exception is Nancy (Hayley Attwell) .  She is the wife of  an officer Ivan Lewis  (Steven Mackintosh) from the Met’s internal affairs division who is investigating the misbehaviour of the Flying Squad. Nancy is  also Regan’s mistress despite being half his age.   To prove that women really are equal  to men we see her roughing up suspects  (very unconvincingly), punching villains, shooting guns and finally, just to show a female character can do the lot, getting killed in a gunfight.

The political correctness of the film, primarily feminism in this case, sits very queasily  with the non-pc nature of  Regan and the Flying Squad. The film is trying to have its 1970s era cake while trying to stuff a 2012 politically correct tart into its mouth at the same time.

There are other serious problems. The film  is built around  a  tiresomely improbable and convoluted plot based on the revenge  to be exacted by a villain Allen (Paul Anderson)  who was “nicked” by Regan years before and sent down for a long stretch.

Then there is the relationship between  Regan and Carter which was central to the success of the TV series and earlier films, with Regan as the erratic  DI and Carter as the person who regularly covered for him.    This film also puts  the relationship between Reagan and Carter at the centre of the action. The problem is the  relationship does not work.  John Thaw, who played Regan in his earlier incarnation, was nothing like such as blunt instrument of an actor  as Winstone  and Dennis Waterman as the original Carter had a much larger and intrusive personality to project than Drew, whose default  expression in the film was a near catatonic  God ,I’m being so cool.  They both offered far more scope for  a complex meeting of personalities.  Winstone and Drew just do not gel as a pair.   Perhaps most damaging  to the  relationship   is the loss of the considerable  humour between Regan and Carter which existed in the original Sweeney. The original also had a good deal of genuinely funny interplay between the Flying Squad as a whole.  That has gone as well,  with vulgarity  mistaken for  humour in the 2012 version.  The considerable screen-time devoted to the Regan/Nancy affair, which is embarrassingly unconvincing, also weakens the Regan/Carter  interaction.

The only enjoyable thing in the film is Winstone’s Regan sounding off in his 1,000 decibel way against his bosses, villains and anyone else who gets in his way.  Then his considerable screen presence  momentarily blots out the general failure of the film. The rest of the cast  are strangely insipid,  including both Regan’s boss Frank Haskins (Damian Lewis) and  Steven Mackintosh as the internal affairs investigator.

Should you go and see the film?  All I will say is older Sweeney fans should resist the temptation .  Keep your dreams.

The new leader of the Greens knows how to keep mum

Robert Henderson

Natalie Bennett  has been elected leader of the Green party in England and Wales ( I know  Miss Bennett through my participation in a campaign to prevent the building of the Francis Crick  Institute (FCI),  a gigantic research laboratory. The primary objections to the Institute (formerly the UK CENTRE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH AND INNOVATION or UKCRMI) arose from the fact that research would be done on dangerous  diseases at  an  unreservedly inappropriate site – the FCI is being built  just behind the British Library and next door to the  new Eurostar  terminal at St Pancras.  Those wishing to discover more should go to my blog

Miss Bennett took a leading part in that campaign which lasted several years and ended in very predictable failure.  That was because the project had the wholehearted  support of both the Labour Government and the Tory Opposition. Normal campaigning on such  grounds as  danger and its contradiction of Camden Council’s public planning policy  was irrelevant, because  the supposedly impartial decision on who should be allowed to purchase the site  had  been taken before the bidding process  even closed. (There were several other serious bidders with alternative uses such as housing and commercial development). The decision was meant to be taken by the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)  on the grounds of value for money. No one outside DCMS was meant to be involved.  The other bidders were spending their money (and these types of bids are very expensive) with no hope of success.

The one serious chance to stop the building of the Institute was to expose the illegitimate nature of the decision on who should purchase the site. This I did  using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  The information gained by this means revealed that Gordon Brown when Prime Minister had intervened to ensure that the consortium backing the FCI  bid got the land.  The documents showing Brown’s interference are at the bottom of this post.   They should be read in the context of powerful men getting their will done through expressing their desires rather than issuing direct orders. However, many of the documents are directly explicit about the involvement.

At the time of the campaign Miss Bennett was  editor of  The Guardian Weekly, a post she occupied  from December 2007 until March 2012.  She was in a  position to get the story of Gordon Brown’s illicit involvement in the bidding process into the mainstream media . I supplied her  with copies of  the documents showing Brown’s interference. Miss Bennett refused to use them, something more than a little surprising because  not only was she campaigning against the building of the FCI on the site,  the interference  was a category A political story and ostensibly one right up the Guardian’s street because it dealt with government  misbehaviour behind closed doors.   Miss Bennett  also failed to use the information when she was called before the Commons Science and Technology committee to give evidence.

I will leave it to the reader to speculate about  Miss Bennett’s motives for not using the information , but  here are a few objective facts relevant to the question:

1.  Despite being a  mainstream journalist, she refused to use information which  could have stopped the building of the FCI  and which was, regardless of her  involvement in the campaign against the FCI, the basis for a heavyweight  political story.

2. Miss Bennett’s politics are hard core politically correct. Here are a few  gems from her personal website to give you an idea of her mentality and politics:

 Home page: Natalie Bennett, Journalist, Writer, Green, Feminist

Resurrecting Our Foremothers:

The Prime Minister Miss Bennett refused to expose was someone very much to her political taste, namely, someone who headed a Government reeking with political correctness.

The honesty of her behaviour and words as leader of the Greens should be weighed in the context of her behaviour over the Francis Crick Institute campaign.

The honesty of her behaviour and words as leader of the Greens should be weighed in the context of her behaviour over the Francis Crick Institute campaign.


Gordon Brown’s involvement in the sale of the land to UKCRMI | February 21, 2011

To make  the matter as simple as possible to follow,  I have selected from the  documents in my possession which show Gordon Brown’s illegitimate involvement in the sale of  the land to UKCRMI six which form a paper trail from the period before the closing date for expressions of interest  to the announcement of the sale of the land by Gordon Brown.  Some of the  documents are lengthy. To prevent readers having to plough through them   I have highlighted  (by bolding) the passages in the documents which refer directly or indirectly to Brown’s interest.  Where a figure such as  [40] appears, that means redaction has occurred under the exemptions in the FOIA –  the number relates to the clause number of the exemption.  These documents  also give a good sketch of the background to the bidding process.

NB This document shows that  Brown was interfering even before the closing date for expressions of interest was closed.  The relevant date is not that on Rosemary Banner’s letter, but the enclosure which came with the letter, i.e., 1 August 2007. 


I Horse Guards Road London SWIA 2HQ

Rosemary Banner

Head of Information Rights Unit

Tel: 020 7270 5723


Mr R Henderson

24 June 2009

Dear Mr Henderson

Freedom of Information Act 2000: medical research centre   We wrote to you on 27 August 2008 conveying the conclusions of the internal review carried out in relation to your complaint to the Treasury about the handling of your April 2008 request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

In light of your complaint to the Information Commissioner we have reconsidered the single item of information that falls within the scope of your request that has not already been disclosed. As a result of this re-examination we have identified additional information that we are now able to provide to you. Please see attachment at the end of this letter. For the avoidance of doubt we should make it clear that the Treasury continues to regard its original decision not to release this information as correct at the request and review stage. However, given the passage of time, we believe that the public interest in withholding has diminished and can now be released.

We have, however, decided to continue to withhold two sentences from this information under section 35(1 )(a) of the Act. These sentences continue to relate to ongoing policy. We have explained our position to the ICO regarding this, and are able to clarify that the redacted sentences contain information on a bid for funding from the MRC that the Department for Business Innovation and Skills are assessing in the normal way. Funding decisions have not concluded. As always the Government will publish actual funding provisions once a decision has been reached. Due to the way funding bids are negotiated and assessed this was been a live issue at the time of the request; internal review; and remains so at this present time. To be helpful we refer to evidence published by the select committee in December 2007. You will see that at that time the bid was £118 million.

http://www. 85/1 85we02.htm

The Treasury is not able to comment as to what the final figure will be until a decision has been made, I reiterate that once decided it will be announced publicly.

Rosemary Banner

Head of Information Rights Unit

For HM Treasury

EXTRACT of relevant information extracted from a report prepared

1 August 2007

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH (NIMR)   MRC concluded some years ago that the NIMR’s future location should be close to a London Teaching Hospital. With this in mind, MRC purchased at their risk for £28M in March 2006, but with Treasury’s knowledge, a one-acre site at the National Temperance Hospital location (NTH) in London.

MRC has recently learnt that its earlier preferred site for NIMR, a three-acre site adjacent to the British Library, has now become available. This larger site would have the major advantage of accommodating more translational research. Encouragingly MRC has most recently proposed that the site would be developed in partnership with Cancer Research UK (CRUK), Wellcome Trust and UCL as a potentially strong consortium. The Wellcome Trust have mentioned that they would be prepared to make a sizeable investment to help establish a new world class medical research facility in North London if they can secure DCMS-owned land and planning permission from Camden Council. At present the consortia has registered its interest in buying the site.

This project has had a very long gestation period, during which the arguments for the strong scientific case for relocating within London (which has a cluster of medical research and teaching hospitals) and the need to retain MRC’s highly skilled staff.

The recent preparation of a suitable business case has been further complicated of late by both the re-emergence of the British Library site as a possible location.

The PM is also most recently stated that he is very keen to make sure that Government departments are properly coordinated on this project and that if there is a consensus that this is indeed an exciting project then we do what we can to make it happen. This is extremely helpful from a DIUS and MRC perspective, but, formally a NIMR relocation project in London has yet to receive Lyons approval from Treasury (for either the first planned NTH site or the possible BL site).

MRC have employed Deloitte to prepare a full business case for the relocation project.

The scientific and operational case for a London location is strong in our view.

Key Dates for the Preparation and Appraisal of the NIMR Proposal

– July 2007 — Letter to Treasury to inform CST of MRC’s proposed bid for the BL site.

-July/August 2007 — Expression of interest in the BL site registered by  the MRC Consortium.

-September 2007 — further substantive discussions with MRC/Deloitte  on Lyons and emerging business case material.

-September 2007 — MRC NIMR project included by RCUK in the 2007 Roadmap consultation.

-October 2007 — first full draft business case prepared by MRC/Deloitte.

-October 2007 — MRC consortium formally bid to DCMS for the BL site.

-November 2007 — Full revised business case received and Lyons case consideration undertaken by Treasury.

-December — Progress submission to Ministers.

-December 2007 — MRC Consortium formed and, if successful in bidding, payment to DCMS for the BL site.

-December 2007 — MRC’s NIMR project prioritised by Research Council Directors for receipt of DIUS funding through the Large Facility Capital Fund.

-February/March 2008 — Submission to Ministers for approval of LFCF allocation to support the MRC’s NIMR project, subject to our final assessment of (a) the outcome of the Lyons case (b) the full business case and (C) prioritisation by RCUK of the use of the available LFCF,

April/May 2008 — DIUS Ministerial announcement of NIMR relocation project approval (subject to all the above).

Further Background to the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) The NIMR is one of the MRC’s largest and oldest research institutes. The NIMR is recognised as once of the UK’s foremost basic research institutes with a strong scientific track record and reputation. NIMR currently  houses the World Influenza Centre (WIC), which was established by  World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948. The Centre, works with a  network of collaborating laboratories to detect and characterise the emergence of new influenza virus anywhere in the world including avian virus H5N1. NIMR is also at the forefront of international research to discover how molecular changes in the virus affect its ability to infect people and cause disease.

The NIMR has been at its present site since 1950. If it were to remain there the buildings would need substantial refurbishment. It is currently a ‘stand-alone’ Institute not physically linked to any University, Medical School or Hospital. In 2003 the MRC set up an expert Task Force to examine the strategic positioning of the NIMR research within the MRC portfolio. The Task Force concluded that their vision for NIMR would be best delivered through an intramural — i.e. with the staff employed by MRC — research institute on a single site in central London in partnership with a leading university and hospital (they received proposals from King’s College and University College) and this would enhance: – The multidisciplinary nature of NIMR’s work, providing access to other biologists, physical scientists, engineers, and mathematicians – Opportunities to collaborate more closely with clinicians and strengthen the focus of translational research.

Remaining at Mill Hill was considered by the Task Force where the majority view was that this would not be a viable option as it would not deliver Council’s vision for a world class research institute carrying out basic, clinical and translational research in partnership with a leading university and hospital. The position was endorsed by the MRC Council. This disappointed some staff at NIMR and there has been much lobbying of Ministers and MPs and as a result the issue has received some media interest.

MRC Council selected UCL as its preferred partner for the renewal and relocation of NIMR in Central London, in close proximity to a major teaching hospital (University College Hospital) and relevant university departments, including chemistry and physics.

The MRC Council approved an outline Business Plan for the renewal and relocation of NIMR in July 2005. The Business Plan confirmed the feasibility of developing the renewed Institute on the National Temperance Hospital (NTH) site in Hampstead Road, which MRC bought (at its own risk but with Treasury’s knowledge), for £28M in 2006, suggesting that the new site could provide accommodation for up to 1,058 staff, including 248 from UCL and potentially 40 additional research staff.

MRC have recognised that their development of the business case needed to ensure a successful project and to satisfy the requirements of DIUS and Treasury requires additional skills to those residing within the MRC and most recently further advice has been procured by MRC from Deloitte for assistance with preparation of the business case.

It was also not our intention at review stage to withhold names of senior civil servants of the email provided at initial request. While we explained that the sender was Jeremy Heywood from the Cabinet Office we overlooked to state the other officials who were recipients of that email. They were: The Permanent Secretaries of DIUS and DCMS Ian Watmore and Jonathan Stephens; the Managing Director of Public Spending in HMT, John Kingman; and the Chief Operating Officer, DCMS Nicholas Holgate.


NB This document shows Brown’s  interest just before the short list of bidders was decided. 


To James Purnell Margaret Hodge, Jonathan Stephens,Ros Brayfield

From Nicholas Holgate

Date 18 September 2007 ____________


Issue: mainly for information but also to ask how you would wish to be involved in this transaction.

The Department owns 3.6 acres to the north of the British Library. With the completion of the new train terminal, we are able to sell it and have been conducting a competitive process so that Ministers can choose what represents best value, comprising not just the proceeds from sale but also the use to which the bidder intends to put the land.

2. We are bound to be concerned about proceeds:

a. There is an obvious obligation, on Jonathan as the department’s Accounting Officer, to secure the best return we can for the taxpayer;

b. the Government is close to breaching its fiscal rules and has set itself a demanding target for asset disposals. Your predecessor strongly rebutted the Treasury’s proposal that we should sell assets worth £150m by 2010-11 and it has not formally been debated since your arrival; but we are likely to have to raise some funds from disposals. In any case:

c. proceeds from this sale are earmarked to contribute towards the budget of the Olympic Delivery Authority for 2007-08.

3. Subject to Treasury agreement, we can nevertheless also take public value” into account. We are aware of two such bids one led by the Medical Research Council, with support from the Wellcome Foundation and others for a research facility; and one that wishes to remain confidential but which is essentially related to faith and education.

4. The facts are:

a. We have now received 28 bids in response to a prospectus. Amongst other things, the prospectus drew attention to the local planning policy guidance, which steers bidders towards a scheme that is roughly 50:50 commercial and residential development with 50% affordable housing. It is Camden Borough Council and the Mayor who will have the last word on what is in fact built on the site;

b. Our professional advisers have scored the bids on various criteria and are interviewing the top seven plus two others (the medical research bid is one of the two others) next week;

c. There is a significant financial gap between the top bids and the medical research bid.

5. Jonathan and I are meeting Jeremy Heywood (who is aware of both public value bids), Ian Watmore (Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills) and John Kingman (Treasury) tomorrow. We need to agree an orderly and appropriate process for selling the land, given the public value bidders, other Departments’ interest and the likelihood that the Prime Minister might wish to take an interest too.

6. We will report back to you then. Subject to your views and others’, one potential way forward is a. DIUS economists be invited to assess the public value of the medical research bid. We will need some such calculation if we sell at a discount. DCMS should not do this as we should display some neutrality between bidders . We decide whether we expect the medical research bid to match the best bid, improve their offer but not necessarily to match, or take a lower value on the chin. Given their backers, they can afford to match. But they may refuse to play; and/or we may not wish to be seen to be reducing their funding for good causes just to maximise proceeds;

c. We see whether there is a Government champion for the other bidder;


d. We then fairly characterise the two public value bidders and the best commercial bid (or bids, if they differ significantly in what they propose) to Ministers and No 10 for a decision.

Nicholas Holgate

Chief Operating Officer


NB This shows Brown’s interest a few weeks before the sale to UKCRMI was agreed.



Disclosable extracts:

We are close to being ready to announce Government support for the creation of a world-leading medical research facility in London.

The key component being finalised is the sale of land, which will allow the BLISS partner organisations (the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London) to develop their detailed proposals for the creation of the centre.

We anticipate that the deal will be finalised over the next few days and we should be able to announce the outcome of the process In the next few weeks. On current plans, we would expect the sale to complete during December and preparations for development to begin straight away. The expectation is that the Institute would be up and running by 2012.

This is an important opportunity to demonstrate what the UK’s commitment to medical research really means in practice. And it fits very well with the focus of your intended health speech.

What would you be announcing?

• We would be committing Government support to the creation of a new centre for UK biomedical research, with 1,500+ scientists, at a level commensurate with the very best institutions in the world.

• The BLISS consortium brings together four of the leading medical research institutions in the UK – the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.

• The Centre responds to the vision, outlined in Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Treasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit. The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed.

• These four key partners, together with the expectation that other organisations would come forward to invest In the centre or to lease research space, bring a powerful combination of skills and capabilities — basic research, applied research, the capabilities to convert research and innovation for public and commercial use, and the skills and opportunities presented by access to a leading university and teaching hospital. The potential, In terms of understanding disease, and developing new drugs, treatments and cures, is huge.

How to announce?

The suggestion is that you announce this a few days before your health speech, planned for 6th December. We would suggest a visit to a high-tech medical site in the morning to get pictures, followed by a meeting at No lO with all relevant stakeholders (primarily the four partner organisations) at which you make the formal announcement and ‘launch’ the project. Let us know your thoughts on whether this is the right way to proceed with the BLISS announcement?


The vision for the BLISS Centre has six themes:

Research innovation and excellence • Bring together outstanding scientists from two world-class research institutes (MRC NIMR and the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute), collaborating with UCL, to address fundamental questions of human health and disease. • Through Wellcome Trust funding, development of tools for integrative biology, with an emphasis on the development of advanced microscopy imaging and on the mathematicaland computational needs in this field.

• Increase scientific innovation through new links with the physical sciences, life sciences, mathematics, engineering and the social Sciences at UCLI

• Develop close links between the Centre and the outstanding hospitals nearby (Including the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases at Queens Square, Great Ormond Street, Moorfields and University College Hospital) and other major hospitals in London (including Hammersmith Hospital and the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Hammersmith, and the Maudsley Hospital and the Institute of Psychiatry)1 State-of-the-art research facilities

• Develop a multidisciplinary research complex operating in state-of-the-art facilities, with the size and diversity to be internationally competitive with the world’s top research institutes.

• Establish a new centre for development of advanced imaging technologies and analysis. A national focus for biomedical science

• Interact with other local centres of excellence to foster and facilitate collaboration between basic, translational and Clinical scientists1  Host national and international research meetings and conferences, facilitated by its proximity to national and International transport links and the conference facilities of the British Library. An effective interface with technology transfer and development

• Facilitate the effective development of therapeutic and diagnostic devices and drugs, by allowing the technology transfer arms of MRC and Cancer Research UK to work closely together.

• Drive innovation in developing tests and technologies through interaction between researchers and development laboratories.

Finding and developing the scientists of the future • Provide an attractive environment to secure and retain world-class scientists by providing an outstanding setting for research and collaboration. • Boost the recruitment and training of scientists and doctors of the future by providing an excellent environment for postgraduate and postdoctoral training, and for training outstanding clinical scientists committed to medical research.

Engaging with the public

• Educate the public on important issues in health and disease.

• Bring together and enhance partners’ public information and education programmes, with a particular focus on engaging younger people.


NB This document shows Brown’s involvement just prior to the sale of the land.




You are meeting Paul Nurse who is likely to lead the BLISS institute, along, with Mark Walport, Director of The Wellcome Trust, and Harpal Kumar, Head of Cancer Research, two partners in BLISS

We are close to being ready to announce Government support for plans to create a world-leading medical research facility in London, led by the BLISS consortium made up of the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.

We have now effectively finalised negotiations on the sale of the 35 acre site, adjacent to the British Library: a price has been agreed with DCMS, and the deal is complete subject to agreement on how much of the proceeds DCMS will retain. We are therefore ready for an announcement next week on the sale of the land – but will not be announcing full details of the project overall, as there remain various Issues to resolve, including reaching agreement on business plans and gaining planning permission. We would therefore announce the Government’s support for the vision of the new centre – rather than definitive support for the centre itself. The Project BLISS consortium brings together four leading medical research institutions in the UK and will create a new centre for UK biomedical  research, with 1,500+ scientists, at a level commensurate with the very best Institutions in the world.

The Centre responds to the vision, outlined in Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Treasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit.

The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed. The Centre will create a place for:

• collaboration, between leading scientists and clinicians, working on some of the most pressing medical problems of our time;

• excellence, maintaining the quality of the UK’s life sciences research base;

• application, making links between research, medical practice and the pharmaceutical industry;

• innovation, translating research innovation into new treatments;

• learning, bringing forward a new generation of scientific leaders;

  •discovery, showcasing the challenges and potential of life sciences to a new audience.

• Using the close proximity to the British Library, the Centre will develop a public engagement and education programme.

Sir Paul Nurse

Sir Paul Nurse is President of Rockerfeller University, formerly Joint Director General of Cancer Research UK and winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Medicine. His appointment has not yet been publicly announced,but he is set to lead the project as chair the Scientific Planning Committee.

Briefing note from Bliss


NB This document from just before the sale of the land shows  the extent of Brown’s involvement with the suggestion that he would arbitrate.  

Sent: 27 November 2007 13:09


Cc: _[40]_____________

Subject: RESTRICTED – Land to the North

Hi Nicholas,

Jonathan spoke to Jeremy Heywood this morning. Jeremy said he needed the bid to be agreed by next Wednesday – 5 Dec (or Thursday  latest) as PM wanted to get MRC in then (or possible public announcement.

Jonathan explained that there are two issues from our point of view: .No revised formal offer has been received by DCMS .HMT are not being helpful of recycling returns – without an improved offer from HMT JS said it would he v hard to justify.

JR said he thought the offer was sent to us yesterday – have checked but  nothing in JSs post or email – JH will chase. JH also said he would go   back to HMT to see what more they can do, but that ultimately PM may have to arbitrate.




Private Secretary  to Jonathan Stephens

Department for (Culture, Media and Sport 2-4 Cockpur Street, London

SWlY 5Dl1 email: [40] tel: 0207211 fax: 020 72116259


NB This document shows Brown’s state of mind immediately after the sale of the land was agreed.

Treasury document

From – name censored

Sent: 04 December 2007 19:49

To: name(s) censored.

CC: name(s) censored)

Thanks for everyone’s help and support in making the announcement tomorrow happen. The PM is truly delighted that departments have been able to work together to secure this huge opportunity for Britain


Killing no murder – the right of the individual to defend their home

The arrest of Andy Ferrie and his wife Tracey after they allegedly  used a legally held shotgun to repel burglars is an all too familiar and disheartening story. Like the farmer Tony Martin who was convicted of  the murder, later reduced to manslaughter on appeal,  of a burglar, the Ferries live  in an isolated house and had suffered previous burglaries (three in their case) – see The burglar who was shot, Daniel Mansell, has already pleaded guilty to burglary  with intent to steal (, but despite that admission of the crime against which they were defending themselves, the Feries have been bailed while the police investigate whether they should be  charged with GBH for shooting the man.

Update: The police have now said they will not be charged ( , but their arrest means their fingerprints and DNA will have been taken and placed on the Police National database. That is significant because it is  very difficult to get the police to remove such records regardless of innocence.

After Tony Martin was convicted I wrote Killing no murder which I reproduce belowIt covers not only Martin’s case but the general problem of people who find themselves in a situation where they have to defend themseves.


Killing no murder

By Robert Henderson

Tony Martin’s conviction for murder after he killed the burglar Fred Barras, raises these important issues: the right of self-defence; the protection of property, the general use of police resources; the policing of Martin’s locality, the fairness of Martin’s trial and, above all, the relationship between the individual and the state.

The right to self-defence

Any attempt at definition short of giving a person an absolute right to defend themselves how they will is doomed to failure. Once a definition includes general qualifications such as “reasonable force”, it becomes unworkable, because the qualifications are hideously imprecise. The practical result is confusion and uncertainty and anyone who defends themselves is at risk of prosecution. The problem is exemplified in comments by Ann Widdecombe, the Conservative home affairs spokesman who recently said “People whose person or property is attacked should be able to defend themselves without fear of penalty from the law” (Daily Telegraph 24/4/2000), but then qualified this by saying that prosecutions could still take place in extreme circumstances. Once that qualification is made, the uncertainty returns.

What is required is a definition which is realistic in its appreciation of human behaviour and removes from any victim of an attack the fear that they may be prosecuted however they defend themselves.

The law on reasonable force as it is presently interpreted goes something like this: if you are attacked with a knife you may defend yourself with a knife: if you are attacked with bare fists you may defend yourself likewise. Do more in either instance and you will be in danger of being charged with an offence against the person, anything from common assault to murder. Pedantic proportionality is all. If you carry on assaulting your assailant after he is disabled, you will most likely face charges. If you have the opportunity to run away but do not, that may count against you in any assessment of whether you should be prosecuted. All this is demonstrably absurd. It assumes that people under attack can reasonably be expected to make judgements in the heat of the moment which in reality require calm consideration.

Consider a few of the variables in assessing what is “reasonable force”. Women, the disabled, children and older men cannot reasonably be expected to defend themselves from a simple physical assault from a fit, strong assailant. Other things being equal, a small man cannot be expected to fight a large man; an older man a younger man, a fit man an unfit man. But, of course, other things are often not equal.

Many men who are physically capable of fighting are absolutely hopeless at it. I have known a man of six and a half feet allow himself to be beaten by a man a foot smaller.Fighting is a matter of heart above all else. But it is also a matter of practice. Most men throwing a punch at someone’s face would be more likely to harm their fists than their opponent because they have never been taught to punch correctly. (For those without any experience of fighting, I would recommend the knee in the groin or a good-old fashioned headbutt.) More importantly, those who are not used to fighting (and middleclass men generally fall into this category) are not psychologically prepared for a fight. This will mean one of two things: the person either capitulates utterly or goes into a berserk rage and keeps on damaging their opponent until the rage passes.

To these disparities of size, sex, age and mental and physical competence, we may add others. Someone who is assaulted does not know whether an assailant is going to restrict themselves to simple assault without a weapon. They may be armed for all the victim knows. Nor need this be obvious. To take a recent well publicised case, that of Kenneth Noye who was convicted of murder in a road-rage incident. Noye carried a knife when he got out his car to confront his victim, but he only produced and used the knife when he began to get the worse of things as the two fought. (Noye is also a good example of the effect of age on the ability to fight. He was 48 at the time of the murder. His victim was in his twenties. Noye was a career criminal with a reputation as hard man. Yet until he produced a knife, he got the worst of a fight he might reasonably have expected to win. Age had caught up with him). It is also true that even if an assailant does not have a weapon, the victim cannot know how far the assailant is likely to go. Will he restrict himself to punching? Or is the assailant the sort to put the boot in when someone is on the floor? No one can know, Perhaps even the assailant does not know.

The obviously armed assailant presents a particular problem in judging what constitutes proportionality of response. If someone comes at you with a knife, is it in order to use a gun? If the assailant has a club, may one use a knife? The law as it stands gives no clear guidance. It is all “every case has to be judged on its merits”.

Then there is the question of what happens should you disable your opponent. Suppose that a small man fells a much larger man with a lucky blow of, shall we say, a candlestick. The smaller man is then left with the problem of what to do next. If he allows the more powerful man to recover, the smaller man will in all probability end up being badly hurt. The smaller man might be able to avoid that fate simply by running away (this is what the law would want you to do), yet he may be unable to reasonably do this even if he wishes to. That would be the case if the temporarily disabled man was a burglar and the smaller man’s wife and children were in the house where the fight took place. Let us further assume that there is no phone and the house is isolated as was the case with Tony Martin. In such circumstances, it could be argued with some force that it was reasonable to deliberately disable the burglar by a further assault while he was unconscious to prevent the chance of violence from the burglar when he recovered consciousness.

Behind all these circumstantial problems stand the very human emotions of panic and rage. When one is attacked, the only desire is to ensure one’s safety. Adrenaline flows and to say that any human being is in control of themselves in such circumstances is patent nonsense. The law does in practice take into account panic, but again it is all very hit-and-miss. Rage on the other hand is no excuse for what is judged a disproportionate assault.

The law as it presently stands effectively ignores human nature. It says that someone who is attacked must exercise truly marvellous self-control. In defending himself, the victim must not lose his temper and carry on attacking the attacker after the attacker has been disabled. This is utterly unrealistic. Someone in a blind rage or panic is manifestly not in control of their actions. There are good evolutionary reasons for that. When someone is responding to an attack, an uncontrolled response is the best way of responding to protect oneself. The evolutionary bottom line is: dead attacker equals safety.

What then is a reasonable law of self-defence? The great bugbear at present is proportionality of response. In drafting a new law, I would start from the premise that an attacker forfeits his right to the protection of the law, that he literally takes his life into his hands. If the attacker is seriously wounded or even killed, that should be seen simply as a reasonable consequence of the attack. The test of “reasonable force” would become defunct. All that would have to investigated after an assault was whether there was evidence which suggested that the claimed attacker was in fact not the attacker. Provided such evidence did not exist, the person assaulted would have no case to answer. I would also remove from an attacker who suffers injury any opportunity to take civil action against his victim.

The great danger with such a law is that murder could take place under the guise of self-defence. I would make two responses to that. Firstly, murder is very rare in Britain. It has been rare historically. The Canadian criminologist, Leyton Elliott who made a study of murder in Britain (Men of Blood) concluded that murder in England was astonishingly rare and had been, relatively speaking, since the middle ages. In other words, there good sociological reasons to believe that few murders would take place under such an amended law. Approximately 800 murders take place in England and Wales each year. The majority are “domestics”, that is,  the murder of a sexual partner. Murder for criminal reasons is rare.

My second point is that a claim of self-defence would still have to conform to the facts of the death. It would be no use, for example, claiming that a fight had taken place at on the morning of May 3 if the forensic evidence clearly showed that the body had been dead before that time.

I would introduce one further criterion to determine whether self-defence was proved, namely was the threat offered by the assailant credible. For example, most people have encountered the mad old lady who suddenly for no apparent reason sets about people in the street with a newspaper or some other equally inoffensive instrument. Clearly such a person would not present a credible threat to anyone other than another old lady or a young child. It would be ridiculous for a fit, younger adult to be able to claim self-defence against such an assailant. If on the other hand that same old lady entered someone’s house uninvited in the middle of the night and was struck down and killed by the householder in the dark under the apprehension that she was a burglar, that would be self-defence.

A law on the lines I have suggested would not be perfect. There would still be problems about establishing who was the assailant and who the victim. But that problem already exists under the present law. What such a law would definitely do is prevent the prosecution of householders such as Tony Martin who surprise those within their homes.

My proposal would also accommodate perhaps the most contentious part of self-defence, namely pre-emptive action. An assault which results in physical action against someone is clear cut. But the law does not say that to commit assault physical violence has to be used. A person may believe themselves to be in imminent danger of being assaulted – someone may be making threatening statements or carrying a weapon or coming rapidly towards someone else. In such circumstances, the law gives the person who fears he or she is about to be assaulted the right to defend themselves before they are assaulted. However, a person who engaged in such behaviour as things presently stand would have the greatest difficulty in sustaining such a claim if reliable witnesses were not present at the time. And if such witnesses were present, a prosecution might well result on the grounds that the presence of witnesses made an assault unlikely or one that could have been resisted. It is a ticklish problem to say the least. But one could use one of the main criteria for determining whether a physical assault had taken place to decide whether an assault was like to take place, namely the credibility of the witnesses.

In short, all my law would require someone to do would be to show that they had been assaulted by an assailant in circumstances where a credible threat existed. If that was proved, no prosecution would take place. There might be some rough justice in that, but less than there is at the moment. Moreover, what rough justice there was would most probably be at the expense of the wrongdoer rather than the law-abiding citizen.

The right to defend property

The cry “It’s only property!” is often heard. But the loss of property for many is not an inconvenience, but a severe blow to their lives. Property crimes are overwhelmingly directed against the poor. Most burglars “work” fairly close to where they live, which tends to be the poorer areas. If you are poor, then a burglar stealing your TV and microwave, your life savings stuck under the mattress or a burglar vandalising your home is a major event. Those are most pressing grounds for allowing people to defend their property.

In theory, a person may use reasonable force to defend their property. In practice, this right evaporates because of the way that the law is interpreted. It is the self-defence mess with bells on. Any attempt to prevent damage or theft is likely to result in a charge of assault or worse. I would obviate this by treating the theft or damage of property as an assault. The owner would then be able to take action without fear of repercussions in the same way as they ould resist an assault.

The general use of police resources

That there are plenty of police officers can be seen when they are required to police demonstrations or state visits such as that of the Chinese President, Jiang Zemin. Yet the number of police engaged in visible general policing has declined substantially. Why? The whole thrust of British policing in the past thirty years has been to move from community policing to rapid response, from the beat to Panda cars. One may add to that the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984 – PACE) which greatly complicated police procedures and resulted in a vast increase in paperwork. The formation of the Crown Prosecution Service, which took away from the police the decision to prosecute, had a similar effect to PACE. Nor has the undue emphasis on meeting “targets” been helpful, because it has given the police a powerful incentive to go for soft offences such as motoring while ignoring real villains. All those are substantial reasons for the decline of community policing, yet they are far from a complete explanation of our present circumstances.

Political correctness and in particular “anti-racism” has resulted in large amounts of time and money being spent on what is essentially political indoctrination. This pernicious behaviour has developed over the past quarter of a century. In the aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence enquiry it has got completely out of hand. A special Scotland Yard unit has been set up (The Racial and Violent Crime Task Force) and all police officers are to be subjected to additional “racial awareness training.” “Stop and Search” has been cut back because of police fears of being accused of racism if they stop blacks and Asians with the result that street crime has risen substantially. Not only that, but any complaint by a black or Asian of police racism or incompetence that gets publicity now results in a quite disproportionate amount of police time and money being devoted to investigations, which frankly have little chance of being successful.

An additional result of the Lawrence enquiry is that the police have become so nervous of their public image, that disproportionate efforts are also being made with other high-profile cases which have no racial content. The classic instance of this is the murder of the broadcaster, Jill Dando. More than a year after here death 40 detectives are still employed full time on the case. Common sense suggests that if the police have not solved the case after more than a year of immense effort, it is unlikely that they will do so in the future simply by carrying on in the same way. The only likely means by which the police will now solve the Dando murder is through an informant, most probably a disaffected ex-partner of the killer. The police must know this, yet they carry on the pantomime of maintaining 40 detectives on the case. It is pure PR.

The policing of Martin’s home area

“A Women’s Institute survey last year found that more than 70 per cent of rural communities had no police presence. In Norfolk, figures released on the day of the Martin shooting revealed that the area had fewer police officers per head of population than any other county. The western division, which covers 550 square miles, has 130 officers to cover any 24 hour period. In the past decade there has been a sevenfold increase in crime.” (Sunday Telegraph 23/4/2000).

Tony Martin lived in the western division. He, like many others in the area, had found that reporting crimes or threats of crimes to the police was a waste of time. Considering the minute numbers of police in his area that is scarcely surprising. But the inadequacy of the law went far beyond the failure of the police to take action. Both Barras and Fearon had multiple criminal convictions. Yet time and again they received either no prison sentence or only a minor one. In a sense, one can understand why the police were less than enthusiastic about investigating crimes committed by such people. But there was another good reason why they were dilatory.

The curse of political correctness

The dead boy, Fred Barras and his wounded accomplice, Brendan Fearon, came from gipsy stock (or traveller or Romany or whatever you wish to call them). The media coverage of this point was muted, doubtless because of the fear of being accused of racism. Yet it was clearly relevant to the Martin case.

In Tony Martin’s part of the world, West Norfolk, there is a strong Gipsy presence. The Sunday Telegraph (23/4/2000) reported that “more than 30 legal and illegal gipsy campsites. Other gipsies travel into the area to commit crimes, some from as far afield as Yorkshire. Brendan Fearon, for instance, the man wounded in the Martin burglary, is a gipsy from Nottinghamshire.”

An ex-police officer, Tony Bone, who runs an organisation called “Farmwatch” in Tony Martin’s area, had no doubts about the problems posed by gipsies: “There is an underlying issue with the growing numbers of travellers who have set up here over the past few years, ” Mr Bone said. “Many of them have made criminal activity a very sophisticated business.

The police have a policy of non-harassment of the gipsies, which has not helped. It is a big issue, And it has been going on for a protracted period. “People see their property stolen and damaged. Then they see police unwilling to go on to the sites to look for it. Ido not blame the individual officers, They are based too far away, don’t know the local areas and have received instruction not to harass travellers. But it has a very debilitating effect on the local population, who feel they are victimised by people who are living beyond the law.” (Sunday Telegraph 23/4/2000).

A spokesman for Norfolk police made this response when asked whether it was true that organised gipsy gangs were behind much of the criminal activities, he said: “Travellers are classed as an ethnic minority group. They need to be given the same level of respect as any other group. We are not in the business of encouraging any type of prejudice. As an organisation we do not want to point the finger at any minority groups.”‘(Sunday Telegraph 23/4/2000). In other words, the police are constrained by political correctness in their treatment of gipsy crime.

There, in all probability, is the primary catalyst which created the conditions which drove Tony Martin to arm himself illegally. “Anti-racism” (in reality anti-white majority racism) is perverting our society generally. If you are a member of a minority which is willing to create trouble to defend its members, the police will largely turn a blind eye to anything but the must serious crimes.

Was Martin Guilty?

Was Tony Martin guilty under the law as it stands? It is a moot point. Many people reading newspaper reports of the case might well conclude he was. Martin fired a number of shots. Fred Barras was shot in the back. Martin did not call the police until the following day. In addition, Martin’s violent views on gipsies and his possession of an illegal pump action shotgun must have counted against him with the jury.

But perfectly reasonable explanations can be given for Martin’s actions. He claims he fired in panic. This would account for the multiple shots. He claims that he thought both the intruders had escaped. Hence his failure to call for an ambulance. Quite reasonable in view of the fact that Fred  Barras died quickly. In the circumstances it would also be reasonable for Martin not to have gone outside until morning. As to expressing violent views against gipsies prior to the killing, his defence team tried to prevent these becoming part of the trial on the grounds that they were prejudicial. They failed and are using the failure as one of the groundsfor Martin’s appeal.

It might seem reasonable that Martin’s views on gipsies were admitted to the trial. Yet who can say they have not at some time said they would kill someone? Such comments do not mean much. By admitting the comments to the trial, the judge almost certainly prejudiced the jury. The law provides for the exclusion of evidence which is not directly related to a crime. A classic example of a judge excluding such evidence occurred in the trial for murder of some of the suspects in the Stephen Lawrence case. The police had secretly bugged the houses of one of the suspects. Several of the suspects were recorded making grossly racist statements and pretending to use knives. The judge refused to allow the material in evidence because the recording contained no reference to the suspects killing Lawrence. I think that Martin had at least as good a case for the evidence of his feelings about gipsies  not being admitted.

Why did the jury convict? Well, juries are odd beasts at the best of times and I can well imagine that they may have been swayed not only by Martin’s comments about gipsies, but also by the fact that Barras was shot in the back and left to die. But there is a complication. Since the trial ended there have been persistent reports of the intimidation of the jury by members of Barras and Fearon’s families and generally by the gipsy population in the area.

What credence should be given to these stories is debatable. However, members of Barras and Fearon’s families attended the court in force throughout the trial. Not only that but whenTony Martin was found not guilty of the attempted murder of Daniel Fearon, there was by all accounts a tremendous explosion of anger from his family and others in the public gallery. At that point the jury had not given a verdict on the murder charge. They then withdrew and came back later to deliver a guilty verdict on Barras’ killing. After that verdict was given there was again a most aggressive display from the public gallery, but this time in celebration.

The jury members may well have had reason to fear the consequences of a not guilty verdict to the murder charge. The hard truth is that while individual travelling folk may be perfectly amenable in their individual dealings with those from the mainstream, their group behaviour leaves much to be desired. Anyone who has ever had to deal with gipsies en mass will know, their group behaviour is all too often unequivocally antisocial. There are good sociological reasons for this: (1) they see themselves as separate from mainstream society and (2) they have the nomad’s mentality. (1) means that they will have a first loyalty to their own group and (2) creates a contempt for their immediate surroundings because they know they will soon move on.

That Martin was found guilty of murder and not guilty on the attempted murder charge is perverse. Both Fearon and Barras were shot in the same circumstances. Logically, both charges should have resulted in the same verdict, whether it was guilty or not guilty. One of Tony Martin’s grounds for appeal will be that the murder verdict was perverse.

The relationship between the state and the individual

There is an implicit contract between the state and the individual: the individual gives up his right to absolutely control his personal security on the understanding that they state will provide both physical security and meaningful redress for injuries which the individual may suffer from others. Patently this contract was broken in Martin’s case, who was left with the effective choice between defending himself and his property or letting criminals do much as they wanted. How he went about defending himself is another matter, but that was the objective choice.

The police did more than fail to protect Martin and his property, they denied him the legal means to protect himself. Martin killed with an illegal pump action shotgun. Previously he had owned an ordinary shotgun. Martin lost this because his licence was taken away after he had fired a warning shot to deter some intruders (he did not hit them). Had his licence not been taken away, Martin would, in all probability, never have purchased the pump-action shotgun. If that had been the case, he would have faced Barras and Fearon with an ordinary shotgun with two shots only immediately available. With only that weapon, Martin might never have shot anyone. He might have been deterred from firing because he knew he only had two shots. If he had fired, two shots have more chance of missing that half a dozen. The case also shows how easy it is to get guns illegally despite the draconian laws which now exist. The anti-gun fanatics might care to reflect on that.

Tony Martin may possibly have been guilty as the law stands, but I cannot see that he was morally culpable. He was doing the most natural of things, protecting himself from men whohad intruded into his most private place, his home.

See also

George Orwell, left politics, modern liberals and the BBC

Robert Henderson

The “wrong” type of left wingery

The BBC has refused ( to  accept a statue of their one-time employee George Orwell because  the outgoing director-general Mark Thompson thinks the great political novelist and essayist is “too left wing for the BBC”. Do stop sniggering at the back.

Orwell was indubitably left-wing , being in favour of  widespread state intervention both socially and economically.  Here is some of what  he thought needed to be done  to remedy the ills of English society  from  his long essay The Lion and the Unicorn  which was  published in 1941:

“I. Nationalization of land, mines, railways, banks and major industries.

II. Limitation of incomes, on such a scale that the highest tax-free income in Britain does not exceed the lowest by more than ten to on

 III. Reform of the educational system along democratic lines….. there are certain immediate steps that we could take towards a democratic educational system. We could start by abolishing the autonomy of the public schools and the older universities and flooding them with State-aided pupils chosen simply on grounds of ability… “(Part III  section II

Socialism is usually defined as “common ownership of the means of production”. Crudely: the State, representing the whole nation, owns everything, and everyone is a State employee. This does not mean that people are stripped of private possessions such as clothes and furniture, but it does mean that all productive goods, such as land, mines, ships and machinery, are the property of the State….

However, it has become clear in the last few years that “common ownership of the means of production” is not in itself a sufficient definition of Socialism. One must also add the following: approximate equality of incomes (it need be no more than approximate), political democracy, and abolition of all hereditary privilege, especially in education. These are simply the necessary safeguards against the reappearance of a class-system. Centralized ownership has very little meaning unless the mass of the people are living roughly upon an equal level, and have some kind of control over the government. “The State” may come to mean no more than a self-elected political party, and oligarchy and privilege can return, based on power rather than on money. …(ibid Part II section )

These policies and concepts  would be considered hard left  and risibly impractical  by the modern liberal left,   but there was nothing outlandish or extreme  about such views in 1941.  They were mainstream  politics for the 1940s’ counterparts of those who are today part of the liberal left.   Much of what Orwell saw as necessary to rescue Britain was enacted a few years later when the Labour Party  campaigned in 1945 on a platform of nationalisation and received a massive popular vote by way of endorsement.  The Party  also kept its word with knobs on when in power between 1945 to 1951 when Clem Attlee’s government   carried through what was arguably  the most extensive nationalisation programme ever in an industrialised country with an elected government.  (The major nationalisations were coal, railways, inland waterways,  some  road haulage and passenger transport,  iron and steel,  electricity, local authority  gas providers , Cable and Wireless, Thomas Cook and Son and  the Bank of England.  It also made the large majority of health provision public through the creation of the taxpayer-funded NHS, greatly expanded publicly funded secondary education and put welfare benefits on a modern footing with the sweeping away of the remnants of the old Poor Law regime and its replacement with a system of universal insurance. )

The ideas which the mainstream left embraced in the 1940s survived long after wards.  Large scale nationalisation and state control of much of public life was not considered beyond the Pale until the Labour Party  had lost four  elections and allowed itself to be seduced into accepting globalisation hook, line and sinker  by  Tony Blair in the 1990s. Anyone doubting this should read the 1983 Labour Election manifesto (,   a document which was memorably but incorrectly described as the longest suicide note in history by the  Labour MP Gerald Kaufman.

This manifesto,  apart from laying out considerable further state involvement in industry and areas such as education and training, had two other  very interesting policies: withdrawal from what was then the European Economic Area (now the EU) and protectionist measures to safeguard British industry and commerce.

Withdrawal from Europe was justified by the manifesto because “The next Labour government, committed to radical, socialist policies for reviving the British economy, is bound to find continued membership a most serious obstacle to the fulfilment of those policies. In particular the rules of the Treaty of Rome are bound to conflict with our strategy for economic growth and full employment, our proposals on industrial policy and for increasing trade, and our need to restore exchange controls and to regulate direct overseas investment. Moreover, by preventing us from buying food from the best sources of world supply, they would run counter to our plans to control prices and inflation.” (Ibid Section Britain and the Common Market)

Protection of the British economy was necessary because it was  essential that “ we keep our exports and imports in balance. We must therefore be ready to act on imports directly: first, in order to safeguard key industries that have been seriously put at risk by Tory policy; and second, so as to check the growth of imports should they threaten to outstrip our exports and thus our plan for expansion.” (Ibid Section  A policy for imports).

The interesting thing about the  1983 Labour manifesto is that the Party was still thinking in terms of British politics. They were rejecting the internationalism represented by the EEC;  wanting  British laws to protect British industries and devising purely national economic policies.  They had not yet foresworn  all that the Party had ever stood for by embracing globalism.

Despite the massive Labour Election defeat in 1983 (which, contrary to Kaufman’s gibe,  was largely accounted for by the victory in the Falklands rather than anything in the Labour manifesto),  the Labour Party continued for the better part of  ten years with their view of politics being national not supranational.   Tony Blair, the man  who eventually sold the Labour Party down the ideological river into the chaotic political jungle of globalism,  had rather different ideas in the 1980s. Here are a few choice quotes from the young Blair:

“A massive reconstruction of industry is needed…the resources required to reconstruct manufacturing industry call for enormous state guidance and intervention…”  (The Blair Necessities  p39 1982)

“We will protect British industry against unfair foreign competition.” (The Blair Necessities p39 Blair’s 1983 Election Address)

 “There is nothing odd about subsidizing an industry”. (The Blair Necessities p40 Hansard 1983)

“Political utilities like Telecom and Gas and essential industries such as British airways and Rolls Royce were sold off  by the Tories in the closest thing, post-war, to legalised political corruption. What we all owned was taken a away from us, flogged off at a cheap price to win votes and the proceeds used to fund tax cuts. In fact, it was a unique for of corruption, since we were bribed by  our own money. “ (The Blair Necessities p51 from the News on Sunday, 1 November 1987)

It is difficult  for anyone born after 1980 to understand how different  was  the mainstream received opinion on how politics generally and  the economy in particular should  be organised  before the arrival of Thatcher and her successors.  British politics from 1945 until Thatcher took office in 1979 had been leftist regardless of who was in power. The  appetite for nationalising industries may have waned after the fall of the Attlee government in 1951,  but all British governments after Attlee and before Thatcher accepted, grudgingly or not, the situation created by Attlee. British politics in those years was essentially social democratic.

The idea that the state should take the lead in many areas of economic  life was built into British political life.  Tories as well as Labourites  often saw it as an entirely natural and laudable thing,  for example, a Tory Minister, Harold MacMillan,  was delighted to announce in the mid-fifties that 300,000 council homes had been built in a year and it was taken for granted in the 1950s that Britain would produce  through taxpayer financing  its own military technology  from the most sophisticated fighters to small arms.  There was also a form of political correctness in those years, for the native British working class  fulfilled much the same role in British politics as politically correct protected minorities – ethnic minorities, gays and women – do today, namely , as a  group virtually  beyond criticism by politicians ( see  However, this political correctness had one great difference from that of today:  it was  to do with the large majority of the native population of Britain and a domestic matter untainted  by foreign considerations.  Moreover, there was only one politically correct group vying for attention, not the multifarious sectional interests we have today.

I shall indulge myself with a short personal anecdote to illustrate how different  the political goods of the mainstream left were before the 1990s.  I went up to university in the late 1960s to take a history and politics degree.  The default position for students and staff  (in the university generally, but especially in the politics department) was to be Marxist or at least a strongly attached fellow traveller.  I sat in tutorials and seminars where tutors would describe ideas which deviated from the leftist norm of the  time as fascist crap or some such cheery expletive adorned abuse.  (Just as racist is the left liberal buzz word  of buzz words  today , so was fascist then).  It truly was a different world.

Nationalist not Internationalist

Left wing Orwell  may have been when acting in the social and economic sphere, but he also had an immensely strong sense of nation and valued patriotism as an essential glue for a society:

“Till recently it was thought proper to pretend that all human beings are very much alike, but in fact anyone able to use his eyes knows that the average of human behaviour differs enormously from country to country.” (part 1section I

“One cannot see the modern world as it is unless one recognizes the overwhelming strength of patriotism, national loyalty. In certain circumstances it can break down, at certain levels of civilization it does not exist, but as a positive force there is nothing to set beside it. Christianity and international Socialism are as weak as straw in comparison with it. Hitler and Mussolini rose to power in their own countries very largely because they could grasp this fact and their opponents could not.  (ibid part 1 section I)  

“There is no question about the inequality of wealth in England. It is grosser than in any European country, and you have only to look down the nearest street to see it. Economically, England is certainly two nations, if not three or four. But at the same time the vast majority of the people feel themselves to be a single nation and are conscious of resembling one another more than they resemble foreigners. Patriotism is usually stronger than class-hatred, and always stronger than any kind of internationalism.” (Ibid  part 1 section 3 )

“Patriotism has nothing to do with Conservatism. It is actually the opposite of Conservatism, since it is a devotion to something that is always changing and yet is felt to be mystically the same. It is the bridge between the future and the past. No real revolutionary has ever been an internationalist.” (Ibid part 3 section III)

Again, his views were reflected in the  Attlee Government  whose members,  with a few exceptions such as the  Marxist  Strafford Cripps, were people  who naturally thought in terms of the British national interest  and for policies which were purely British.  It would never have occurred to the likes of Attlee and Ernest Bevin (both deeply patriotic men in their different ways)  to embrace the idea of free trade with its inevitable diminution  of native British industry and agriculture or to conceive of domestic British politics as a matter for anyone other than the British.

Orwell’s  Englishness

Orwell was very English and admired his country and his countrymen despite their shortcomings as he saw them.  He also placed his thought  consciously on an English base. Throughout his writings, both fiction and non-fiction, his  choice of noun for the United Kingdom is England.    All his novels apart from the first Burmese Days are set in England and very English in tone, even his two great political novels Animal Farm and 1984. Animal Farm is set on what is obviously an English farm and  in 1984 the part of Oceana  which is England, a strange transmuted England  but still a very English land underneath the oddities.

Much of the Lion and the Unicorn is taken up with defining Englishness, for example:

“…there is something distinctive and recognizable in English civilization. It is a culture as individual as that of Spain. It is somehow bound up with solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar-boxes. It has a flavour of its own. Moreover it is continuous, it stretches into the future and the past, there is something in it that persists, as in a living creature. What can the England of 1940 have in common with the England of 1840? But then, what have you in common with the child of five whose photograph your mother keeps on the mantelpiece? Nothing, except that you happen to be the same person. 

“And above all, it is your civilization, it is you. However much you hate it or laugh at it, you will never be happy away from it for any length of time. The suet puddings and the red pillar-boxes have entered into your soul. Good or evil, it is yours, you belong to it, and this side the grave you will never get away from the marks that it has given you.  (Ibid Part 1 section  I)

Even where there was an aspect of England which he quarrelled with such as  the English class system or the Empire,  Orwell would recognise the ameliorating qualities of Englishness (or occasionally Britishness) in those  aspects . Here he is on the ruling class and the Empire:

“It must be admitted that so long as things were peaceful the methods of the British ruling class served them [the rest of the population] well enough. Their own people manifestly tolerated them. However unjustly England might be organized, it was at any rate not torn by class warfare or haunted by secret police. The Empire was peaceful as no area of comparable size has ever been. Throughout its vast extent, nearly a quarter of the earth, there were fewer armed men than would be found necessary by a minor Balkan state. As people to live under, and looking at them merely from a liberal, negative standpoint, the British ruling class had their points. They were preferable to the truly modern men, the Nazis and Fascists. But it had long been obvious that they would be helpless against any serious attack from the outside.” (Ibid Part 1 section  IV)

One thing that has always shown that the English ruling class are morally fairly sound, is that in time of war they are ready enough to get themselves killed. Several dukes, earls and what-not were killed in the recent campaign in Flanders. That could not happen if these people were the cynical scoundrels that they are sometimes declared to be. It is important not to misunderstand their motives, or one cannot predict their actions. What is to be expected of them is not treachery or physical cowardice, but stupidity, unconscious sabotage, an infallible instinct for doing the wrong thing. They are not wicked, or not altogether wicked; they are merely unteachable. Only when their money and power are gone will the younger among them begin to grasp what century they are living in.” ( ibid part 1 section IV)

Orwell also had a touching belief that a socialist revolution in England would be a most unusual and English affair:

“An English Socialist government will transform the nation from top to bottom, but it will still bear all over it the unmistakable marks of our own civilization, the peculiar civilization which I discussed earlier in this book…

 It will not be doctrinaire, nor even logical. It will abolish the House of Lords, but quite probably will not abolish the Monarchy. It will leave anachronisms and loose ends everywhere, the judge in his ridiculous horsehair wig and the lion and the unicorn on the soldier’s cap-buttons. It will not set up any explicit class dictatorship. It will group itself round the old Labour Party and its mass following will be in the Trade Unions, but it will draw into it most of the middle class and many of the younger sons of the bourgeoisie. Most of its directing brains will come from the new indeterminate class of skilled workers, technical experts, airmen, scientists, architects and journalists, the people who feel at home in the radio and ferro-concrete age. But it will never lose touch with the tradition of compromise and the belief in a law that is above the State. It will shoot traitors, but it will give them a solemn trial beforehand, and occasionally it will acquit them. It will crush any open revolt promptly and cruelly, but it will interfere very little with the spoken and written word. Political parties with different names will still exist, revolutionary sects will still be publishing their newspapers and making as little impression as ever. It will disestablish the Church, but will not persecute religion. It will retain a vague reverence for the Christian moral code, and from time to time will refer to England as “a Christian country”. The Catholic Church will war against it, but the Nonconformist sects and the bulk of the Anglican Church will be able to come to terms with it. It will show a power of assimilating the past which will shock foreign observers and sometimes make them doubt whether any revolution has happened.” (ibid part 3 section II)

Orwell’s contempt for the English Left Intelligentsia

Orwell had no illusions about the mentality of many of the English left of the nineteen-thirties:

“In intention, at any rate, the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow. In the general patriotism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during “God save the King” than of stealing from a poor box”   Ibid Part 1 section V)

“During the past twenty years the negative, fainéant outlook which has been fashionable among English left-wingers, the sniggering of the intellectuals at patriotism and physical courage, the persistent effort to chip away English morale and spread a hedonistic, what-do-I-get-out-of-it attitude to life, has done nothing but harm. It would have been harmful even if we had been living in the squashy League of Nations universe that these people imagined. In an age of Führers and bombing planes it was a disaster. However little we may like it, toughness is the price of survival. A nation trained to think hedonistically cannot survive amid peoples who work like slaves and breed like rabbits, and whose chief national industry is war. English Socialists of nearly all colours have wanted to make a stand against Fascism, but at the same time they have aimed at making their own countrymen unwarlike. They have failed, because in England traditional loyalties are stronger than new ones. But in spite of all the “anti-Fascist” heroics of the left-wing press, what chance should we have stood when the real struggle with Fascism came, if the average Englishman had been the kind of creature that the New Statesman, the Daily Worker or even the News Chronicle wished to make him? “(Ibid part 3 section III

Why today’s liberal left are wary of  Orwell

The real BBC objection to Orwell is not that he is too left-wing but rather he is left-wing in a way which does not fit with being left wing in Britain today.  The modern mainstream British  left  are committed to just about everything Orwell opposed. They have unreservedly bought into the idea of globalism at the level of both economics and politics; they loathe the idea of self-determining national states; ideas of patriotism and national identity they see as at best obsolete and at worst vicious; they purport to believe that a  racially and ethnically mixed society is morally and culturally superior to a society which is homogeneous and  they have a particular hatred and fear of England which drives them to the doublethink of simultaneously claiming  that there is no such nation as the English whilst saying the English are dangerously nationalistic.  As for  public control and ownership of virtually anything,  they have largely adopted  the Thatcherite   idea that the market is always the answer and private enterprise is invariably superior to public ownership.  Even where they have doubts about the continuing  mania to privatise everything and  lament much of what has been privatised or are privately dismayed  by the export of jobs to the developing world, they shrug their shoulders and say such things are inevitable in a globalised world.

There is a further reason why Orwell cannot sit easily with the modern liberal. He encapsulated so much of what is  wrong with them  in his later writings.  In Animal Farm he describes just the sort of corruption of purpose which has taken place in the Labour Party since the 1990s with the likes of Tony  Blair and Peter Mandelson  celebrating the “filthy rich” as they desperately sought to join them.  It would be difficult to find  a better example of Robert Michels’  iron law of oligarchy whereby organisations set up to help the working class become vehicles to advance the fortunes of  those who head them  rather than those who they are ostensibly meant to aid.

1984 is even more telling because Orwell describes a situation we know only too well in modern England: the usurpation of language by the political elite and its use as a tool of social control. This is precisely what the imposition of political correctness represents.

There is also in 1984 an emptiness of purpose  because,  as the interrogator O’Brien  points out, power becomes a recognised and desirable (for party members) end in itself.  This echoes the ideological shallowness of the politically correct for whom the mechanical policing of  what is deemed politically correct  and the punishment of the politically incorrect becomes a ritual rather than a political policy leading to a desired outcome.

The reality is that modern mainstream left  are not “left wing” in any sense recognisable to previous generations. They are simply people who have a set of ideas, ideas  which are no more than assertions, of how people should behave.  There is no questioning of whether the ideas have a beneficial effect or not.  Rather, the ideas  are simply treated as self-evident goods and imposed regardless of their effects.

But although Orwell’s ideas are anathema to them because  they clash so violently  with their own, there is something more to the modern  liberal left’s  disregard for Orwell than ideological differences.  His honest socialism reminds at least some of them of the betrayal of the Labour Party’s history and principles which has left the less well off in Britain with no mainstream party to act or speak for them.   That may even induce a sense of guilt.  For those liberals who do not feel remorse,  there is baser motive of fear that in difficult times such as these the old socialism may seem attractive to large numbers of people and,  if it does,  those people may start asking the modern leftists exactly why they are  to be considered to be on the political left.

Orwell represents danger to the modern liberal left. He both challenges everything they stand for and provides a heady  left alternative, namely socialism wrapped in a patriotic cultural blanket.  That is why the likes of Mark Thompson think he is “too left wing”.

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