Author Archives: Robert Henderson

The truth is the British are  against further mass immigration full stop

British Future report says 25% of British adults want all immigrants repatriated

Robert Henderson

The desperate attempts of the Remain  side to paint those who wish to leave the EU as,   at one and the same time,  racist and unrepresentative of the British as a whole are ludicrous. Both claims cannot be true because  polls  show  that the numbers  wanting to vote to leave are at worst on a  par  with those who wish to leave.

Polls and research on immigration to the UK invariably give a majority against future mass  immigration despite the strong incentive of those canvassed for their opinion to give either the politically correct answer  for fear of being called a racist or to look for what they consider is a safe proxy for saying they want an end to mass immigration or at least see  a severe reduction in numbers. The proxies they choose  are statements   made by mainstream politicians which are  deemed safe to repeat simply because  they have been sanctioned  by their use by politicians.  This leads  people to say things such as “It is alright provided they work and pay their way” or “We should have a points systems like Australia”. This of course does not address express the  real wishes  of most of the British public , but those making such statements  feel  they  dare not get  nearer  to the truth  of what they feel because that is the limit of what is permitted by the  politically correct elite.

What are the real feelings about immigration  of the British? They are far more antagonistic  to it than  politicians or the mainstream media allow.   In 2014 the think-tank British Future  published  the report How to talk about immigration based on research conducted by ICM, Ipsos MORI and YouGov. This  purports  to provide a blueprint for both the pros and antis in the immigration debate  to manage the subject  most effectively in public discussion.  This is not something which they achieve because they have bought into the internationalist agenda, viz: “Some three or four generations on from Windrush, it is now a settled and irreversible fact that we are a multi-ethnic society. Managing immigration effectively and fairly in the public interest  should and does matter to Britons from different ethnic backgrounds. We should be suspicious of approaches that sharply polarise British citizens along racial lines, in whatever direction”.

Nonetheless the research  does have much of interest.  One finding  is truly startling. Faced with the question  “The government should insist that all immigrants should return to the countries they came from, whether they’re here legally or illegally”  the result was Agree 25%, disagree 52% and neither 23%. (P17 of the report).  In addition, many of those who said no to forced repatriation were also firm supporters of strong border controls and restrictive  immigration policies.

The fact that 25% of the population have overcome their fear of  falling foul of the pc police and say that they do not merely want immigration stopped but sent into reverse is  stunning. Moreover, because political correctness has taken such an intimidating place in British society it is reasonable to assume that a substantial number of those who said they disagreed did so simply out of fear of being accused of racism.

The obverse of the immigration coin was shown by the question “In an increasingly borderless world, we should welcome anyone who wants to come to Britain and not deter them with border controls” (P16 of the report).  The results were 14% agree, 67% disagree and 19% don’t know.

That only 14% support such a policy compared to the 25% who  wished for forced repatriation is striking in itself, but  it is even better for the  opponents of immigration than it looks for two reasons. First, the 14%  of those who agreed with the question will be the honest figure because to say that you want open borders carries with it no penalties from the pc police  and will gain the person brownie points amongst the politically correct elite and their auxiliaries. Second,  as already mentioned, the 25% of those wanting forced repatriation of all immigrants will understate the true position because a significant proportion of those questioned with be lying out of fear.

The report also shows that older voters are more likely to be those who are most strongly opposed to immigration (P11 of the report).  That is important because older voters are the most likely to vote.

Taking all that into account  it is reasonable to assume that a referendum with the question “Do you wish to end mass immigration?”  would result in a solid probably an overwhelming YES vote.

These facts  should persuade politicians that they would risk nothing if they move much further to restrict  immigration than they have already done and in so doing  that they would  gain  considerable  extra electoral support.

This may well happen. Public rhetoric  about immigration is rapidly hardening There will come a tipping point where  the rhetoric  has departed so far from the politically correct position that serious  action to restrict immigration will occur because the stretch between rhetoric and action will  become too great to sustain in a society where governments are elected.

A party political  bidding process on the  subject of immigration is already taking place  and there will come a point where serious action has to follow  or there will be a very real chance that either one or more of the mainstream parties will become irrelevant and be superseded, or members of the mainstream parties will wrest control of these parties from their pc indoctrinated leadership  and adopt a policy on immigration  closer to what the public wants.

The other important effect of greater political honesty in political utterances about immigration is that it makes  it much easier for people generally to speak openly about their feelings on the subject and to lobby for radical action.   In  turn this will feed the desire of politicians to gain electoral credibility by being  ever former in their immigration policies.  Indeed, the only reason that the present immigration has been allowed to develop is because the subject has been effectively wiped off the public debate agenda since the1970s.

In the immediate context of the EU referendum those supporting the leave campaign should have no fear or embarrassment in making clear that after the question of sovereignty – from which all else flows – that the most important issue is immigration.  That is what will win the referendum  for the leave side.

 

 

Brexit: the movie

Director  and narrator Martin Durkin

Running time 71 minutes

As an instrument   to rally the leave vote  Brexit: the movie is severely flawed.  It starts promisingly by stressing the loss of sovereignty , the lack of democracy in the EU and the corrupt greed of its servants (my favourite abuse was a shopping mall for EU politicians and bureaucrats only – eat your heart out Soviet Union) and the ways in which  Brussels spends British taxpayers money and sabotages industries such as fishing.  Then  it all begins to go sour.

The film’s audience should have been the British electorate  as a whole.  That means making a film which appeals to all who might vote to leave using arguments which are not nakedly  politically  ideological. Sadly, that is precisely what has not  happened here because Brexit the movie  has as   director and narrator Martin Durkin, a card carrying disciple of the neo-liberal creed. Here are a couple of snatches from his website:

Capitalism is the free exchange of services voluntarily rendered and received. It is a relationship between people, characterized by freedom. Adding ‘global’ merely indicates that governments have been less than successful at hindering the free exchange of people’s services across national boundaries.

And

Well it’s time to think the unthinkable again, and to privatise the biggest State monopoly of all … the monopoly which is so ubiquitous it usually goes unnoticed, but which has impoverished us more than any other and is the cause of the current world banking and financial crisis.  It is time to privatise money.

Unsurprisingly Durkin has filled the film with people who with varying degrees of fervour share his ideological beliefs. These include John Redwood,  James Delingpole, Janet Daley, Matt Ridley, Mark Littlewood,  Daniel Hannon, Patrick Minford, Melanie Phillips Simon Heffer, Michael Howard and  Douglas Carswell , all supporting the leave side but doing so in a way which would alienate those who have not bought into the free market free trade ideology. The only people interviewed in the film who were from the left of the political spectrum are Labour’s biggest donor John Wells and Labour MPs  Kate Hoey and Steve Baker.

There is also a hefty segment of the film  (20.50 minutes – 30 minutes)  devoted to a risibly false  description of Britain’s economic history from the beginnings of the industrial revolution to the  position of Britain in the 1970s.  In it Durkin claims that the nineteenth century was a time of a very unregulated British economy, both domestically and  with regard to international trade, which allowed Britain to grow and flourish wondrously .  In fact, the first century and half or so of the Industrial Revolution  up to around 1860 was conducted under what was known as the Old Colonial System,   a very  wide-ranging form of protectionism. In addition, the nineteenth century saw the introduction of many Acts which regulated the employment of children and the conditions of work for employees in general and  for much of the century  the century  magistrates had much wider powers than they do today such as setting the price of basic foodstuffs and wages and enforcing apprenticeships.

Durkin then goes on to praise Britain’s continued economic expansion up until the Great War which he ascribes to Britain’s rejection of protectionism. The problem with this is that   Britain’s adherence to the nearest any country have ever gone  to free trade – the situation  is complicated by Britain’s huge Empire –  between 1860 and 1914 is a period of comparative industrial decline  with highly protectionist countries such as the USA and Germany making massive advances.

Next, Durkin paints a picture of a Britain regulated half to death in the Great War, regulation which often  continued into the peacetime inter-war years before a further dose of war in 1939  brought with it even more state control. Finally, the period of 1945 to the coming of Thatcher is represented as a time of a British economy over-regulated and protected economy falling headlong  into an abyss of uncompetitive economic failure before  Thatcher rescued the country.

The reality is that Britain came out of the Great Depression faster than any other large economy, aided by a mixture of removal from the Gold Bullion Standard, Keynsian pump priming and re-armament, all of these being state measures.  As for the period 1945 until the oil shock of 1973,   British economic growth was higher than it has been  overall in the forty years  since.

Even if the film had given a truthful account of Britain’s economic history over the past few centuries  there would have been a problem. Having speaker after speaker putting forward the laissez faire  position, saying that Britain would be so much more prosperous if they could trade more with the rest of the world by  having much less regulation, being open to unrestricted foreign investment   and, most devastatingly,  that it  would allow people to be recruited from around the world rather than just the EU or EEA (with the implication that it is racist to privilege Europeans over people from Africa and Asia) is not  the way  to win people to the leave side.

The legacy of Thatcher  is problematic.  Revered by true believers in  the neo-liberal  credo she is hated by many  more for there  are still millions in the country who detest what she stood for and  for whom people spouting the same kind of rhetoric she used in support of Brexit  is  a  turn off. To them can be  added  many others who instinctively feel that globalisation is wrong and threatening and talk of economics in which human beings are treated as pawns deeply repulsive.

There is also a  truly  astonishing  omission in the film. At the most modest assessment immigration is one of the major concerns of  British electors  (and probably the greatest concern  when the fear of being called a racist if one opposes immigration is factored in), yet the film avoids the subject. There is a point  towards the end of the film (go in at  61 minutes) when it briefly  looks as though it might be raised when the commentary poses the question “Ah, what if the  EU proposes a trade deal which forces upon us open borders and other stuff  we don’t like?   But that leads to no discussion  about immigration,  merely the  statement of  the pedantically  true claim that Britain  does not have to sign a treaty if its terms are not acceptable. This of course begs the question of who will decide what is acceptable. There a has been no suggestion that there are any lines in the sand which will not be crossed in negotiations with the EU and there is no promise of a second referendum after terms have been negotiated with the EU or, indeed,  with any other part of the world. Consequently,   electors can have no confidence those who conduct  negotiations will not give away vital things such as control of our borders.

As immigration is such a core part of  what  British voters worry about most ,both in the EU context and immigration generally,  it is difficult to come up with a an explanation for this startling omission  which  is not pejorative. It can only have been done for one of two reasons:  either the maker of the film  did not want the issue addressed or many of those appearing in the film  would  not have appeared if the  immigration drum had been beaten.  In view of both Durkin’s ideological position and the general tenor of the film,  the most plausible reason is that Durkin did not want the subject discussed because the idea of free movement of labour is a central part of the neo-liberal  ideology. He will see labour as simply a factor of production along with land and capital. Durkin  even managed to include interviews conducted in Switzerland (go in at 52 minutes )which  painted the country as a land of milk and honey without  mentioning that the Swiss had a citizen initiated referendum on restricting immigration in 2014 and are pushing for another.

The point at issue is not whether neo-liberalism is a good or a bad thing,  but the fact that an argument for leaving the EU which is primarily based on the ideology is bound to alienate many who do not think kindly of the EU, but who do not share the neo-liberal’s enthusiasm for an  unregulated or under-regulated  economy   and  a commitment to globalism, which frequently means  jobs are either off-shored or taken by immigrants who undercut wages and place a great strain on public services. This in practice results in mass immigration , which apart from competition for jobs, houses  and services,   fundamentally alters the  nature of the areas of  Britain in  which  immigrants settle and,  in the longer term, the  nature of Britain itself .

The excessive  concentration on economic matters is itself a major flaw, because  most of the electorate  will  variously not be able to understand , be bored by the detail  and turn off or  simply disregard the claims made as being  by their  nature  unknowable in reality. The difficulty of incomprehension and boredom is  compounded by there being  far  too many talking heads, often  speaking for a matter of seconds at a time.  I also found the use of Monty Python-style graphics irritatingly shallow and  a sequence lampooning European workers compared with the Chinese downright silly (go in at  37 minutes).

What the film should have done was rest  the arguments for leaving on the question of  sovereignty.  That is what this vote is all about: do you want Britain to be a sovereign nation ? Everything flows from the question of sovereignty : can we control our borders?; can we make our own laws?  Once sovereignty is seen as the only real question, then what we may or may not do after regaining our sovereignty is in our hands. If the British people wish to have a  more regulated market they can vote for it. If they want a neo-liberal economy they can vote for it. The point is that at present we cannot vote for either . As I mentioned in my introduction the sovereignty issue is raised many times in the film.  The problem is that it was so often  tied into the idea of free trade and unregulated markets that the sovereignty message raises the question in many minds of what will those with power – who overwhelmingly have bought into globalism and neo-liberal economics –  do with sovereignty rather than the value of sovereignty itself.

Will the film help the leave cause? I think it is the toss of a coin whether it will persuade more people to vote leave than or alienate more with  its neo-liberal message.

Brexiteers: hold your nerve

Robert Henderson

Recent polls are overall veering towards   but not decisively towards a remain  win in the referendum.  It is important that those wanting  leave the EU should not get downhearted. There are still the TV debates to come which will expose the often hypocritical and always vacuous positions those advocating  a vote to remain will of necessity have to put forward because  they have no hard facts to support their position and  can offer only a catalogue of ever more wondrously improbable disasters they claim will happen if Brexit occurs, everything from the collapse of the world economy to World War III  The only things they have  not predicted are a giant  meteorite hitting Earth and wiping out the  human race or, to entice the religious inclined vote, the coming of the end of days.

There are other signs which should hearten the leave camp. There appears little doubt that those who intend to vote to leave  will on average be more likely to turn out to vote than those who  want to remain.. This is partly because older voters  favour Brexit more than younger voters and older voters are much more likely to turn out and actually vote.  But there is also the question of what people are voting for.  Leaving  to become masters in our own house is a positive message. There is nothing  positive about the remain  side’s blandishments.  A positive message is always likely to energise people to act than a negative one. Moreover, what the remain side are saying directly or by implication is that at best they have no confidence in their own country and at worst they want Britain to be in the EU to ensure that it is emasculated as a nation state because they disapprove of nation states.  Such a stance will make even those tending towards voting to remain to perhaps either not vote or to switch to voting leave.

What should we make of the polls?

What should we make of the polls?  Leaving aside the question of how accurate they are, it is interesting that the polls which are showing strongest for a vote to remain are the telephone polls. Those conducted online tend to produce a close result, often half and half on either side.  Some have the Leave side ahead. On the face of things this is rather odd because traditional polling wisdom has it that online polls will tend to favour younger people for the obvious reason that the young are much more likely be comfortable living their lives online than  older people.  Even if online polls are chosen to represent a balanced sample including age composition the fact that older people are generally not so computer savvy means that any sample used with older people is unlikely to represent older generally whereas  the part of the polling audience which is young can be made to represent  the  younger part of the population  because  almost all of the young use digital technology without thinking.

It is likely that the older people who contribute to online polls are richer and  better educated on average than the old as a group. But that  brings its own problem for the remain side because another article of faith amongst pollsters is that the better educated and richer you are the more likely you are to vote to remain  in the EU.  Moreover, if the samples are properly selected for both online and  phone polls why should there be such a difference?   Frankly, I have my doubts about  samples being  properly selected because  there are severe practical problems when it comes to  identifying the people who will make a representative sample.  Polling companies also weight their  results which must at the least introduce an element of subjectivity. Then there is also the panel effect where pollsters use panels made up of people they have vetted and  decided are panel material.  Pollsters admit all these difficulties.  You can find the pollster YouGov’s  defence of such practices and how they supposedly overcome their  difficulties here.

The performance of pollsters in recent years has been underwhelming.  It could be that their polling on the referendum is  badly  wrong.  That could be down to the problems detailed in the previous paragraph, but it could also be how human beings respond to different forms of polling.  Pollsters have been caught out by the “silent Tory” phenomenon  whereby voters are unwilling to say they intend to vote Tory much more often than voters for other parties such  as Labour and the LibDems  are unwilling to admit they will be voting for those parties.   It could be that there  are “silent Brexiteer”  voters who  refuse to admit to wanting to vote  to leave the  EU,  while there are  no  or very few corresponding  “silent remain” voters.  This could explain why Internet polls show more Brexit voters than phone or face-to-face  polls.  If a voter is speaking to a pollster, especially if they are in the physical company of the pollster, the person will feel they are being judged by the person asking the questions.  If they think their way of voting is likely to be disapproved of by the questioner  because it is not the “right view”,   the person being questioned may well feel embarrassed if they say they are supporting  a view which goes against what  is promoted every day in the mainstream media as the “right view” .  The fact that the person asking the questions is also likely  to come from the same general class as those who dominate the mainstream media  heightens the likelihood of embarrassment on the part of those being questioned.

The “embarrassment factor”  is a phenomenon  which  can be seen in the polling on contentious subjects  generally. Take  immigration  as an example. People are terrified of being labelled as a racist. At the same time they are quite reasonably very anxious  about the effects of mass immigration.  They  try to square the circle of their real beliefs with their fear of being labelled a racist – and it takes precious little for the cry of racist to go up these days – by seizing  on reasons to object to mass immigration which they believe have been sanctioned as safe by those with power  and influence such  as saying that they are not  against immigrants but they  think that illegal immigrants should be sent home or that the numbers of immigrants should be much reduced because of the pressure on schools, jobs, hospitals and housing . What they dare not say is  that they object to immigration full stop because it changes the nature of their society.

There is an element of the fear of being called a racist  in Brexit because a main, probably the primary issue for  most of those wanting to vote to leave  in the referendum is the control of borders. This means that   saying you are for Brexit raises in the person’s mind a worry that this will be interpreted as racist at worst and “little Englanderish” at best.

There is a secondary reason why  those being interviewed are nervous. The poll they are contributing to will not be just a single question, such  as how do you intend to vote in the European referendum?  There will be  a range of questions which are designed to show things such as propensity to vote or which issues are the most important. Saying immigration control raises the problem of fear of being  classified as  racist, but there will be other issues which are nothing like as contentious on which the person being polled really does not have a coherent   opinion.  They will then feel a fear of being thought ignorant or stupid if they cannot explain lucidly why they feel this or that policy is important.

That leaves the question of why online polls show more for Brexit and phone or face-to-face-polls.  I suggest this. Answering a poll online is impersonal. There is no sense of being immediately judged by another.  The psychology is akin to going into a ballot booth  and voting.  This results in more honesty  about voting to leave.

The referendum  is just the beginning of the  war

Whatever the result of the referendum that will not be the end of matters. There is a gaping  hole in the referendum debate . There has been no commitment  by  any politician to what exactly  they would be asking for from  the EU if the vote is to leave and what they would definitely not accept.   Should that happen we must do our best ensure that those undertaking the negotiations on Britain’s behalf do not surreptitiously  attempt to subvert the vote by stitching Britain back into the EU by negotiating a treaty which obligates Britain to  such things as free movement of people  between Britain and the EU and a  hefty payment each year to the EU (a modern form of Danegeld).   A vote to leave must give Britain back her sovereignty  utterly  and that means Westminster being able to  pass any laws it wants  and that these   will supersede any  existing  obligations to foreign states and institutions, having absolute control of Britain’s borders, being able to protect strategic British  industries and giving preference to British companies where public contracts are offered to  private business.

It there is a  vote to remain  that does not mean the question of  Britain leaving is closed for a generation  any more than the vote of Scottish independence sealed the matter for twenty years or more.  For another referendum  to be ruled out for several decades would be both dangerous and profoundly undemocratic.

Imagine that Britain  having voted to remain the EU decides to push through legislation to bring about the United States of Europe which many of the most senior Eurocrats and pro-EU politicians have made no bones about wanting,  the EU  wants Turkey  to be given membership,  immigration from and via the EU continues to run out of hand  or  the EU adopts regulations for  financial services which gravely  damage the City of London.  Are we to honestly say that no future referendum cannot be held?

Of course on some issues such as the admission of new members  Britain still has a veto  but can we be certain that it would used to stop Turkey joining?  David Cameron has made it all too  clear that he supports  Turkey’s accession and the ongoing immigrant crisis in the Middle East has already wrung the considerable concession of visa-free travel in the Schengen Area from the EU without the Cameron government offering any complaint. Instead all that Cameron does is bleat that Britain still has border controls which allow Britain to refuse entry to and deport those from outside the EU and the European Economic Area.  However, this is the same government which has been reducing Britain’s border force and has deported by force very few people.

You may  think that if new members are admitted to the EU a referendum would automatically be held under the European Union Act of 2011. Not so, viz: .

4 Cases where treaty or Article 48(6) decision attracts a referendum

(4)A treaty or Article 48(6) decision does not fall within this section merely because it involves one or more of the following—

(a)the codification of practice under TEU or TFEU in relation to the previous exercise of an existing competence;

(b)the making of any provision that applies only to member States other than the United Kingdom;

(c)in the case of a treaty, the accession of a new member State.

In practice it would be up to the government of the day to decide whether a referendum should be held.  The  circumstances where the Act requires a referendum are to do with changes to the powers and duties of EU members. The simple  accession of a new member does not fall under those heads. Nor does the Act provide for a referendum where there is no change to existing EU treaties or massive changes are made  without a Treaty being involved, for example,  Britain has had no referendum on Turkey  being given visa free movement within  the Schengen Area. Make sure you vote

Regardless of what the Polls say make sure you vote The bigger the victory for the OUT side the less the Europhiles will be able to do to subvert what happens after the vote.   If the vote is to stay  the closer it is the less traction it gives the -Europhiles .  Either way, the vote on the 23 June is merely the first battle in a war, not the end of the war.

A Muslim Mayor,  the Labour Party, anti-Semitism and the future   

Robert Henderson

This Spring Labour Party activists from senior party members down to local  councillors  have been outed as people who are either actively anti-Semitic or who associate themselves uncritically with those who are.

The examples of  anti-Semitism range from crude abuse such as that from Vikki  Kirby  the vice-chairman of a local Labour  branch  “What do you know abt Jews? They’ve got big noses and support Spurs lol” to  senior Labour figures such as the newly elected Mayor of London Sadiq Khan who has called  moderate Muslims  Uncle Toms and been very ready to share platforms with Muslims who are openly  anti-Semitic .  Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been  identified as attending dubious political meetings  and praising Hamas , an organisation which has embraced terror.   He has also been much criticised for acting very slowly and indecisively against Labour members who have been  outed as anti-Semites  or who have been keeping uncomfortable Muslim company.  Moreover, despite Corbyn’s reluctance to accept there is a problem in his party, it is reported that fifty Labour members have been suspended for alleged anti-Semitism.   Finally, The ex-Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has  caused a good deal of politically correct heat by linking Zionists with the Nazis in the 1930s. However, his example genuinely  raises the question  of what is anti-Semitism and  what  is honest criticism of Israel. More on that later.

The most significant event in all this is Sadiq Khan’s  election as London Mayor.  Both before his election and since there has been a huge attempt by those on the genuine Left, including those in  the Labour Party, and Muslims with a public voice to explain away Sadiq Khan’s associations with Muslim extremists.   Most incredible of these have been  the strenuous attempts to portray media and political commentary on  Labour Party members’  undeniable anti-Semitism as a plot to remove Corbyn from the Labour leadership .

But however much Khan and his allies attempt to  call his association with Muslim extremists as simply the consequence of  Khan attending meetings where there is a range of opinion within the speakers, he is damned utterly by his “Uncle Toms” comment.   A Muslim cannot speak of  moderate Muslims  as “Uncle Toms” without at the very least  being willing to use the language of  Muslim extremists in the hope that this will give him “street cred” with Muslim electors . At worst Khan may have been expressing his true feelings and sympathies.  Moreover, it is telling that the  “Uncle Toms” comment was made on Press TV,  an Iranian state English language broadcaster,  where he  probably thought his use of the phrase  would not be picked up by any of the British mainstream media.  (Press TV’s licence to broadcast to the UK was revoked by OfCon in 2014 because the licence holder could not provide assurances that he controlled the station’s output. )

This is all very worrying because  Sadiq Khan now holds a genuinely  powerful  political role  in a major Western capital which contains over a million Muslims.  Indeed, he  is the first Muslim  in a Western country to hold such a position.  Even more worrying is how he came to win such an election.

How has this happened?

To understand what is driving the open  expressions of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party  it is necessary to comprehend the changes which the Labour Party has gone over the past thirty years.  Widespread antisemitism  in the modern  Labour Party is on the face of it astonishing,  truly remarkable behaviour for a party which prides itself on being  rigidly politically correct and  which has many Jews amongst its supporters including some of its biggest donors.  However,   it is  no great surprise to those who know something of the party’s history.

In the past the Labour Party  has been extremely politically incorrect, being staunchly opposed to, amongst other things,  mass immigration and  the employment of women in male dominated jobs. Part of the political incorrectness  within the party was a healthy strain of anti-Semitism. When  Oswald  Mosley  – a man who had served as a minister in a Labour-led government –  left the Labour Party in 1931 to form the New Party (the precursor of the British Union of Fascists) he drew much of his  support from people who were  natural Labour supporters, namely, the white workingclass, people who were trying to find some escape from the miseries of the Great Depression and  joined Moseley after  the Labour Party  failed them.  Most of these people were also comfortable with Mosley’s anti-Semitism .  This is unsurprising because  those who have historically  objected most vociferously  to Jews being in the UK have been  the white working class.  When Jews started to return in numbers to England in the 18th century they sporadically provoked violent  riots, most notably, the violent reaction to an Act to allow the naturalisation of Jews passed in 1753 which was repealed a year later.   As late as 1947 there were anti-Jewish riots in the UK in response to the violence perpetrated by Jews against British servicemen and administrators in Palestine. Of course, anti-Semitism was far from being restricted to the working-class as George Orwell recognised, but it was more openly expressed by the working-class who constituted the large majority of the population in the 1930s.

Labour substitutes minorities for the white working-class

In the 1980s Labour  began  to  forsake its  traditional client base,  the white working class, and replaced it with a motley rainbow coalition  based on race, ethnicity and gender. They did this for three reasons: the  white working class were stubbornly refusing to go along with what became the  politically correct agenda; Thatcher was enticing   the  part of the white working class which was aspirational to vote Tory and  large scale Thatcherite privatisation was seriously undermining the unions which traditionally provided the foot soldiers of the Labour movement.

After  four successive Labour general election losses between 1979 and 1992 the Labour Party found itself in the hands of  Tony Blair following the untimely death of John Smith.  Blair emasculated the  party, ruthlessly removing all its  traditional concerns and values and replacing those  with a devotion to laissez faire economics and  the ideology now called political correctness.  Instead of addressing the wants and needs of the white working class,  Blair produced a party which was devoted to amplifying  and to a large extent creating the grievances  of women, gays and ethnic/racial minorities whilst at the same time  undermining of the economic position of the white working class  through both the continuation of the Thatcherite privatisation agenda that destroyed what was left of trade union power, and the permitting of massive immigration, which reduced opportunity and wages for the poorer members of society.   This was done on the cynical calculation that Labour could attract the votes of  women, gays and ethnic/racial minorities while keeping the votes of the majority  of the  white working class because they had nowhere else to go as the only other party with any realistic hope of forming a government were the Conservatives, a political movement in the grip of Thatcherism   which was  deeply unsympathetic to the white working-class  at worst and indifferent at best.

But not all groups are equal  under the politically correct banner.  Pandering to the  claims of sexism and homophobia  in order to win votes came a distant second to capturing the ethnic/racial minorities. This was not simply because of a hierarchy of importance within the politically correct doctrine, although that played its part. There was also hard headed political calculation. Women and gays do not offer the same sort of group identity  that is found in ethnic minorities,  who  often live in areas where they are  the dominant population group , a situation which allows them to live apart  from  British mainstream society. In such circumstances ethnic voting  becomes not merely possible but  probable.  Such has been  the scale of immigration over the past sixty years that  in  quite a few British constituencies capturing the ethnic minority vote more or less guarantees the election of a candidate.  This tendency is especially strong in London.  There is also growing evidence that postal voting is resulting in large scale fraud  where there is a large population from the Indian subcontinent.

The largest of the minority ethnic groups is that of Muslims who now total three  million plus in Britain and have a strong tendency to vote  en bloc according to what their imams and political leaders  tell them to vote. Consequently, it is no surprise that the Labour Party is  becoming ever more  anti-Semitic and tolerant of anti-Semitism because they want to attract Muslim voters.

Why did Zak Goldsmith lose?

There were serious weaknesses in the campaign run by Goldsmith.  The  Tory leadership barely campaigned for him and Goldsmith, a multimillionaire who inherited his wealth,  was an unappetising candidate for  London  Mayor in  a city which has been  a Labour stronghold for much of the past century.  The London demographics were also unpromising  for there  are over a million Muslims in London  plus  another  million or more of ethnic minorities/immigrants entitled to vote.

But Goldsmith’s failure  is not   being attributed  to any of those possible causes by many if any of  those with a public voice.  Instead,  politicians (including Tory MPs)  and much of the mainstream media attribute it to his tactic of pointing out  Sadiq Khan’s propensity to associate with Muslims who  might reasonably be called extremists and  Khan’s description of moderate Muslims as  Uncle Toms. This it is claimed energised   Muslims  and possibly  white liberals and members of other ethnic minorities to get out and vote for Khan.  The problem with that claim is that only 45% of voters  bothered to vote . Nonetheless, if voters of all stripes were reluctant to vote it is possible that enough people were energised by the Goldsmith attacks to vote Khan to make the difference. In the end Khan took 56.8% of the first and second preference votes ( 1,310,143 votes) and Goldsmith 43.2% (994,614 votes).

It is also  true the Goldsmith campaign  made the crass mistake of trying to enlist  the support of other non-Muslim minorities by playing on what his team fondly imagined were the fears of groups such as Indians and Tamils. Here are a couple of  examples:

‘“The British Indian community makes an extraordinary contribution to London and to Britain. Closer ties between the UK and India have been a priority for me as prime minister. I was pleased to join Zac Goldsmith in welcoming Prime Minister Modi to the UK last year at Wembley Stadium.” Then, under the heading The Risk Of A Corbyn-Khan experiment, Cameron described the policies of “Jeremy Corbyn’s candidate Sadiq Khan” as “dangerous”. If Khan won, Cameron said, “Londoners will become lab rats in a giant political experiment”.’

And

“Under the heading The Tamil Community Has Contributed Massively To London, Goldsmith wrote: “I recognise that far too often Tamil households are targeted for burglary due to families owning gold and valuable family heirlooms.” Under the heading Sadiq Khan Will Put London’s Future And Your Community At Risk, he wrote: “As a government minister, Sadiq Khan did not use his position to speak about Sri Lanka or the concerns of the Tamil community in parliament. His party are beginning to adopt policies that will mean higher taxes on your family and your family’s heirlooms and belongings. We cannot let him experiment with these radical policies.”’

None of this helped Goldsmith but it is difficult to see them having a decisive effect  simply because of the low turnout. The real answer is demographics combined with political correctness which  prevented Goldsmith from becoming Mayor.

The demographics are the major problem. The proportion of the  population of London which describes itself as white British is well below 50%. The 2011 census has the figure at 45% but it will be significantly lower now because of  white flight from London, the continued influx of foreigners both black and white and  the high birth-rate  of the immigrants. It is quite possible that the white British population is now   around 40%.

The 2011 census also had approximately  1.2 million who describe themselves as white but not British.  Thus the  total white population of London in  2011 was approximately 4.9 million and the non-white approximately 3.3 million.  I doubt whether five years of immigration and higher non-white reproduction has resulted in whites being in the minority. However, if things continue as they are with white flight from London, ever growing immigration and  high non-white birth rates, it  will not take that long, perhaps ten years , to find whites a minority in London. As for Muslims,  by 2011 they made up 12.4% of London’ population  with an increase of  35% (405,000)  between 2001 and 2011. As the Muslim proportion of the London  population grows this will attract more and more Muslims to the city. It is unlikely that Muslims will be in the majority  within the next twenty years but in 2036 they could well be the largest ethnic group in the city.

As for  the  whites who do not identify themselves as British, they   are likely to either not vote or to vote for the Labour candidate because Labour are ostensibly more immigrant friendly than the Tories.   As those over 18 who are qualified to vote for the Mayor include  “An Irish citizen, or a Commonwealth citizen, who has leave to remain in the UK or who does not require leave to remain in the UK, or a citizen of another European Union country”  this means  that the majority of non-British whites will be qualified to vote and  thus their potential to influence  the election of  the Mayor is substantial.

Last,  there is the question of political correctness.  At no point did Goldsmith or anyone else in his campaign team or  the wider Tory Party  wholeheartedly  attack Khan by straightforwardly   asking   white voters do you want a Muslim  who has by his own words and actions shown sympathy with Muslim extremists to be Mayor?   Instead Goldsmith’s  attacks on Khan  Khan were merged into a general complaint about the Labour Party or the economic policies Khan was likely to pursue.  Goldsmith was desperately trying to remain within a politically correct envelope. To appeal to the white British electorate or  even the white electorate overall was out of the question for  a  mainstream politician in Britain’s presently politically correct circumstances.  This failure to address what Khan represented both now and as a harbinger of the not too distant future was  doubly important because whites in Britain have been bombarded  with politically correct multicultural propaganda  for several generations. This has produced a state of mind whereby  the white population  has tended to come to think that acting against the politically correct view is on race and immigration is not merely dangerous because the expressions of such opinions can lose the person their job or in some cases end up on a criminal charge , but in some ill-defined way is  actually wrong. The white electorate needed Goldsmith to give them permission to go against the constraints of   political correctness.

Conversely, Khan and the Labour Party  side of the argument were  not constrained.   Instead they used political correctness to distract from Khan’s behaviour with regard to extremist and  moderate Muslims. In the Alice in Wonderland world which is that of the politically correct it is Goldsmith who is being called everything up  to and including a racist while Khan incredibly plays the  injured party.

Ken Livingstone, the Nazis   and the  Zionists

Back to Ken  Livingstone.  His treatment after bringing the collaboration between the Nazis and Zionist Jews in the 1930s into the Labour anti-Semitism story  emphasises the hysterical refusal of  the politically correct and self-interested minorities  to take on board facts which conflict with their interpretation of the world.  They routinely do not offer argument or facts merely abuse, very often of the crudest type.

Those unthinkingly screaming anti-Semite, Nazi  and racist at Livingstone on account of his labelling of the Nazis before WW2 as Zionists hand in glove with those Jews who wanted to establish a Jewish state in Israel, are on very treacherous factual ground.   it would be stretching matters  considerably to say the Nazis were Zionists. However, odd bedfellows as the Jewish  Zionists (there have always been Jews who opposed Zionism)  and the Nazis were,  even the oddest of bedfellows may sometimes sleep comfortably together when they have  a  serious shared aim. Here that shared aim was simple: Hitler wanted the Jews out of Germany and the Zionists wanted Jews rushed into  what was then the British Protectorate of Palestine.   To this end  a company (HAAVARA) was set up  in 1933 with the agreement of the Nazis  to enable  the transfer of Jewish property from Nazi Germany to Palestine and hence expedite the immigration of German Jews to Palestine. Although controversial amongst Jews  the Zionist Congress in Lucerne (1935)  supported the plan. Some 60,000 German Jews migrated to  Palestine between 1933–1939 as a result of this Nazi/Jewish collaboration .

This was not the only other Nazi plan to remove  Jews from  Europe. In 1938 a scheme  to establish a Jewish settlement on Madagascar (then under French rule) was mooted. The  Madagascar Plan was never implemented  but survived  until February 1942 as a  project.   By 1942 the Final Solution   had moved from the mass migration of Jews, forced or voluntary,  who were to be settled outside of Europe,  to the  extermination of the Jews.

The problem with the response to Livingstone is that although he over-egged  the extent  of the engagement  between Nazis and Zionists, he was clearly working from a firm historical basis when he claimed the Nazis and Zionists had cooperated in the 1930s.  Had Livingstone been attacked on the grounds that he misinterpreted or misrepresented the motivation for the strange alliance, which he did,  that would have been reasonable. The problem is that  those who attacked Livingstone have simply  denied, directly or by their refusal to address the historical evidence,  that there had been any collaboration between Nazis and Zionists.  Moreover, the  denials of what Livingstone has claimed have been hysterical in tone more often than not. As the evidence of Nazi/Zionist cooperation in the 1930s is clear, this makes the attacks  on Livingstone seem absurd to anyone who bothers to look at the bare facts. The refusal to engage with Livingstone on the facts also distracts from the  larger questions of  the undoubted  and  often  surprisingly crude examples of antisemitism within the Labour Party and  the question of what criticism of Israel is reasonable and what is disguised anti-Semitism.

Where does this leave  Britain?

We have reached the stage whereby  our political elite  is so cowardly or so detached from reality by political correctness  that a  Muslim politician ensconced within  a major British political party cannot be criticised  by a non-Muslim for posing a potential danger , no matter  that the politician calls moderate Muslims Uncle Toms  and  provides evidence that he is content to associate with Muslims who make no bones about hating Britain and the West in general.

This election also showed that a white British mainstream candidate will not make a full-hearted appeal to the white British population for fear of being called a racist.  Instead such a candidate  is likely to make clumsy appeals to  various minorities.

The people being left out of this debate  are the native British. London is the shape of demographic things to come not only for itself but other areas of Britain with large  immigrant populations. Already those describing themselves as white British are a minority in the city. Within twenty years  they may not even be the largest minority. This  is likely to happen because the political elite in Britain have actively connived at mass immigration on and off since the late 1940s and are unlikely to change their habits.

Andrew Neather a Blair speechwriter, wrote in an Evening Standard article in 2009 that  the great increase of immigrants under Blair seemed to be  a deliberate policy to make Britain  more diverse. He wrote of a Downing Street  paper published finalised in 2001:

“…earlier drafts I saw also included a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural.”

“I remember coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended – even if this wasn’t its main purpose – to rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date. That seemed to me to be a manoeuvre too far.”

Sadly,  there is no one in Britain with  a public voice to call what is happening by its true name, treason. Until there is the situation will get steadily worse with the major British parties becoming more and more ready to compromise with the demands of larger and larger ethnic minorities.

Criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism

Robert Henderson

The politically correct (and safe) attitude for those who wish to distinguish criticism of Israel as a state  from anti-Semitism is that Israel is one thing and worldwide  Jewry quite another.  Intellectually this is a respectable position  for  many Jews are critical of Israel’s actions and there has always been a residue of Jews who have been opposed to the existence of the modern state of Israel. The problem is that many Jews, including very influential ones, do not make such a clear distinction. Consider these recent words by the Chief Rabbi of Britain Ephraim Mirvis:

“It is astonishing to see figures on the hard Left of the British political spectrum presuming to define the relationship between Judaism and Zionism despite themselves being neither Jews nor Zionists. The likes of Ken Livingstone and Malia Boattia claim that Zionism is separate from Judaism as a faith; that it is purely political; that it is expansionist, colonialist and imperialist.

“It is unclear why these people feel qualified to provide such an analysis of one of the axioms of Jewish belief. But let me be very clear. Their claims are a fiction. They are a wilful distortion of a noble and integral part of Judaism. Zionism is a belief in the right to Jewish self-determination in a land that has been at the centre of the Jewish world for more than 3,000 years. One can no more separate it from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain.

“To those who so eagerly reach for a vicious Holocaust reference in order to exact the maximum amount of pain and offence upon “Zionists”, I say: You are spreading that ancient and insidious virus of anti-Semitism. Look around you”

“Open a Jewish daily prayer book used in any part of the world and Zionism will leap out at you. The innumerable references to the land of Israel are inescapable and demonstrative. Throughout our collective history we have yearned for a chance to determine our own future, to revive an ancient language and return to rejoice in our love for this tiny sliver of land. Zionism is a movement celebrated by people right across the political spectrum, all over the world, and requires no endorsement or otherwise of the particular policies of any Israeli Government at any time.”

There are two serious problems with that. To begin with the Chief Rabbi is saying that no one but a Jew or a Zionist (and probably only a Jewish Zionist) is qualified to have  an opinion on the subject.  That is always the sign of someone without an argument to support their position.   Then   he makes a claim which to the vast majority  of non-Jews and I suspect a considerable number of  Jews will seem absurd,  namely,  that  Jews have a claim  to a land that they controlled only intermittently during the millennium before the Christian era and which ceased to be even  a  vassal state  of Rome after  the Emperor Titus effectively  destroyed the ancient kingdom of Israel in 70 AD.

Stripped of all pretension. A  people’s right to land of their own is won by occupation and retained by  the ability and willingness of a people to defend the territory,  whether by their own efforts  or in alliance with other people.   There is no God-given or legal title to a land.  To claim a land as sovereign territory after a lapse of  two millennia is best described as bizarre.

The idea of a homeland for the Jews was boosted by the British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour  during the Great War. What became known as the  Balfour Declcaration  was contained in this letter:

Foreign Office

November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you. on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet

His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours,

 

Arthur James Balfour

Although it has  often been  treated as a quasi-legal pledge by  Jews , all  the Balfour Declaration did was commit  the British Government  of the day to do  was  support and facilitate the idea.    It is simply a pledge by a government at a particular time. At any time a future British government could simply refuse the commitment. A later British government had no qualms about refusing to honour pledges to Arabs made on the government’s behalf by T. E. Lawrence.  It is also worth noting that the Balfour Declaration conflicted with the promises of self-determination Lawrence made  to the Arabs.  In no way can the Balfour Declaration be considered as providing a legal right to establish the modern state of Israel. Moreover, Balfour’s  condition “that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine” is problematical to say the least . It is difficult to see how a Jewish Homeland  formed not simply from Jews already in Palestine and to be swelled potentially by millions of Jews around the world  could not interfere with the “civil and religious rights” of non-Jews already in situ. As for the UN’s vote granting recognition to the

But even putting aside the views such as those held by the Chief Rabbi it is difficult to disentangle anti-Israeli feeling  from anti-Semitism. The state of Israel is  an explicitly  Jewish  state which operates what in our very  politically correct world would be considered by the politically correct to be  a racist immigration policy  if practised by any other state  –  Jews will be, with a few exceptions such as  a history of criminality,  accepted automatically as citizens under the “right of return”  but non-Jews will not (an exception is made for non-Jews who have some Jewish  ancestry ). It is also true that Jews outside of Israel do have a strong tendency  to be uncritical supporters of Israel, and in the case of the American Jewish lobby, they can exercise a dangerous amount of influence, especially over US foreign policy in the Middle East to support the interests of Israel at the expense of America’s interests. The ex-Labour MP Tam Dalyell expressed similar reservations about undue Jewish influence over British  foreign policy in 2003: “Mr Dalyell said: “I am worried about my country being led up the garden path on a Likudnik, [Ariel] Sharon agenda”, adding that “Straw, Mandelson and co” were leading “a tremendous drive to sort out the Middle East”. “   His reward was to be threatened with investigation for inciting race hate.

Nonetheless, despite these serious complications  I think a distinction can be made between anti-Semitism and being anti-Israel.  Let me use myself as an example.  I am against Western support for  Israel on the simple British and Western national interest ground that it is  a never to be healed running political sore promoting  anti-Western sentiment  in the Arab world and increasingly so amongst Muslims generally.   I would  not suggest  any positive Western action to overthrow the state. All I  advocate is that the West should withdraw, military, economic and diplomatic support from  the country.  That I would argue is not anti-Semitic merely the following of Western national interest.

The existence of Israel is ultimately to the detriment of Jews generally because it generates hostility to them  everywhere, not necessarily from simple  anti-Semitism but  also because the repeated police/military  actions against  Arabs  and Palestinians in particular represents  Israel  to the world as brutal.  This is a propaganda  battle Israelis cannot win.

 

What should  reasonably count as illegal sexual activity with a minor ?

Robert Henderson

The   conviction of the Sunderland and England footballer Adam Johnson  for six years after he admitted   one charge of  grooming  a 15-year-old girl primarily through  the Internet  and one charge of sexual activity with the girl which consisted of kissing her   “in  a sexual fashion”. . He pleaded  not guilty to  two further charges of  sexual activity with the  girl and  was found guilty of one  charge by a 10-2 verdict of  the jury and innocent of the other.  The case is of general public interest because of  the severe  sentence  and the nature of the charges.

What had Johnson done to get such a heavy punishment? Raped the girl? No. Had sexual intercourse by consent whilst the girl was under age occurred?  No.   The sexual activity Johnson was convicted of was kissing and heavy petting,  including  putting his fingers inside the girl’s vagina. He was found not guilty of allowing the girl to perform fellatio on him. Johnson is appealing against sentence and   conviction

There was also an investigation of  pornography acquired by Johnson  which was described as classified as bestiality, presumably  involving women simulating  sex with an animal.. This matter did not result in any  charges.

Those are the bare facts.  Most people will probably consider Johnson’s behaviour distinctly unsavoury. However,   did it constitute what most people would regard as a crime and if it did would it be reasonable to expect the general public to understand that such behaviour was criminal?

Most  people in Britain  understand that intercourse with a girl under the age of 16 is illegal, but I would very much doubt that they imagine kissing or even penetrating a 15-year old  girl’s vagina with their fingers would be illegal. Indeed, they might  conclude that a man would have done  the latter  rather than attempt intercourse  precisely because he  thought it an act which would be legal.  Yet  section 10 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003  does make such penetration illegal,  viz:

Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity

(1)A person aged 18 or over (A) commits an offence if—

(a)he intentionally causes or incites another person (B) to engage in an activity,

(b)the activity is sexual, and

(c)either—

(i)B is under 16 and A does not reasonably believe that B is 16 or over, or

(ii)B is under 13.

(2)A person guilty of an offence under this section, if the activity caused or incited involved—

(a)penetration of B’s anus or vagina,

(b)penetration of B’s mouth with a person’s penis,

(c)penetration of a person’s anus or vagina with a part of B’s body or by B with anything else, or

(d)penetration of a person’s mouth with B’s penis,

is liable, on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.

(3)Unless subsection (2) applies, a person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a)on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both;

(b)on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years.

Ignorance of the law might be a legal dictum in England but there is such a volume of criminal offences today  and the law  so often changes these days that in practice it is simply unreasonable to expect  the ordinary Briton  to know  what is illegal except in the case of  clear cut core offences such as murder, rape and robbery.

Many will say that the age difference between Johnson and the girl  (he was 27 and she 15) make them feel queasy, but had the girl been 16 Johnson would have faced no charges and could legally have had intercourse with the girl.  Indeed, if the girl’s parents consented they could have married.  Thus a matter of months  stood between Johnson and a heavy  prison sentence. His  sentence is less than the average for rape,  which is around 8 years, but is still severe  being at the upper end of the the sentencing guidelines.   He will serve at least half the sentence unless he can persuade the Parole Board to release him early on licence. The part of the sentence he does not serve in prison will be on licence.  As he is a professional footballer that will end his career at any serious level even assuming any club would employ him.

The age of consent is also  contentious.   Even Western countries vary considerably.  In Austria, Germany, Portugal and Italy it is 14, and in France, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Greece it is 15. The position is further complicated by  exemptions  based on age, for example, if both parties are under the age of consent but  close in age,  prosecution will not normally occur if there is consent; if  one of the parties is over the age of consent and one is not  but  the age difference between the two is small, say, the boy 17, the girl 15,   prosecution may well not occur.

Another troubling  thing about the case is the fact that Johnson was effectively given the same status as someone such as  a teacher who is deemed to be in a position of trust.  This is a very odd because Johnson is just a footballer.  His football club may get him to go into schools or  do charity work involving children but that does not mean he is employed to act in loco parentis to any person under the age of 18 he meets.  In this case according to media reports all Johnson has done here is encounter an adoring fan on a casual basis.  Section 22 of the Sexual Offences Act of  2003 states:

(1)The following provisions apply for the purposes of section 21.

(2)Subject to subsection (3), a person looks after persons under 18 if he is regularly involved in caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of such persons.

(3)A person (A) looks after another person (B) on an individual basis if—

(a)A is regularly involved in caring for, training or supervising B, and

(b)in the course of his involvement, A regularly has unsupervised contact with B (whether face to face or by any other means).2003 section 22 states

It is difficult to see how Johnson could have been in a position of trust as defined by the act.

Johnson has not behaved well, but not behaving well is not in itself a crime let alone one deserving four years in prison.  There is no doubt that under the law as it stands  he was liable to conviction on at least one of the sexual activity charges.  Nor can the sentence he was given be judged utterly unreasonable in view of the sentencing guidelines for sexual activity  convictions.   Looked at narrowly Johnson could have no complaints at his treatment even if his designation of  being in a position of trust is more than a little questionable .

The real concern is the state of the law. It  could well capture many people who  are oblivious of its present extremely wide remit and who honestly believe that provided no sexual intercourse occurs with someone under the age of consent, particularly with someone just under the age of consent,  no crime has been committed.   It is probable that hundreds of thousands of men over the age of 16 have kissed a girl under 15  in what the  law terms “sexually” or has engaged in heavy petting.  As for grooming, we already are seeing the police taking an interest in sexting. Do we really want large numbers of young men and women being criminalised,  many of whom would  be classified as children because the UK has signed up to the definition of a child as being  anyone under the age of 18, for behaving as the young  have always behaved, namely, explored their sexuality?

There is a good case for looking again at the age of consent with a view to reducing it to 15 and anything short of sexual intercourse where there is consent should not be a crime. Those who would argue that a girl of 15 would automatically be damaged by sexual experience at that age should reflect on the facts that many girls of that age are already engaging in such experience and that prosecution will rarely be taken against them or their sexual partner if there is not a large age gap.

Film review – Steve Jobs

Main Cast

Michael Fassbender as Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple Inc

Kate Winslet as Joanna Hoffman, marketing executive for Apple and NeXT and Jobs’ confidant in the film.

Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple and creator of the Apple II

Jeff Daniels as John Sculley, CEO of Apple from 1983 to 1993.

Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan, Jobs’ former girlfriend and Lisa’s mother.

Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld, a member of the original Mac team.

Makenzie Moss, Ripley Sobo, and Perla Haney-Jardine as Lisa Brennan-Jobs (at different ages), the daughter of Steve Jobs and Chrisann Brennan]

Director: Danny Boyle

Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin

Robert Henderson

The film is not about the entirety of Jobs’  life or even all of his adult life as a computer entrepreneur. It runs from the launch of the Apple Macintosh in 1984 to that of the  iMac in 1998. Consequently, it  misses arguably the most fruitful part of Jobs’  business  life which ended with his death  in 2011.

Running through the  film are two themes from outside of  the IT world. The first  is the impact of the knowledge that he (Jobs) was adopted at birth, rejected by his first would-be adopters after a few months and the adopted again.  Jobs’ inept handling of  human relations is attributed to this.   The second theme is a remnant of Jobs’ rather chaotic social life which in the film he runs on the same dysfunctional basis as his work. The remnant is his  one time girlfriend Chrisann Brennan (Katherine Waterston)  and their daughter Lisa whom Jobs tries not to acknowledge initially  as his child, but whom he  gradually accepts as his daughter.

Those are the circumstantial bare bones of the film.  The film’s distinction and energy comes from a remarkable turn by Michael Fassbender as Jobs. Fassbender  has a talent for portraying obsessive characters. He did it in magnificently in  Shame as a sex obsessive and he does it here with his portrayal of Jobs  as an unrestrained control freak with a adolescent grade  ego the size of Jupiter.  He is constantly bullying and appears to have  little if any moral  sense. When he does behave more reasonably it is invariably not because he feels guilty,  but either as a result of  Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet)  thrusting what he is doing wrong so firmly in his face that he cannot ignore it or because someone treads on his  personal territory , as when  he discovers that Andy Hertzfeld  (Michael Stuhlbarg)  has paid his daughter’s first semester fees after Jobs in a fit of temper told  her he will not pay them.  In short, Fassbender’s Jobs is very like a particularly fractious  teenager without any  adult brake on his bumptious behaviour.

Whether  Fassbender’s Jobs is a realistic portrayal  of the man is another matter. It is disputed by many who knew him  and certainly this filmic Jobs is a monstrously unsympathetic character, the sort of person who continually brings gratuitous stress into the lives of those around him.     Nor is he shown to be an  infallible  entrepreneurial wizard.  Jobs got many things  right with Apple, especially after his return to the company, but he also got a great deal wrong by relying on his judgement of what would appeal  to the public and taking little account of what his programmers and hardware engineers told him .

His worst mistake was  the original Apple Mac which he deliberately had made so that it could only take programs written for its operating system (which was incompatible with that of Microsoft),  could not readily  accommodate add-ons to improve functionality and, just to put the cherry on things, the AppleMac case could not be opened to repair or enhance except with special tools  which were not available to Apple Mc purchasers .   At the time it was launched I remember thinking it was a bonkers way of proceeding.  It was an act of supreme egotism on Job’s part because he wanted the system to be entirely self-contained, that is to be a system  he envisaged  and controlled.  With Jobs in this characterisation it was always his way or the highway.

The Wozniak character expresses his frustration at Jobs’ lack of technical knowhow most vividly when he says “What do you do? You don’t write code. You’re not an engineer.   You’re not a designer. You can’t put a hammer to a nail.  I built the circuit board. The graphical interface was stolen from Xerox Park, Jeff Raskin  was the leader of the Mac team before you threw him of his own project. Someone else designed the box.  So how come  ten times in a day I read  that Steve Jobs is a genius?  What do you do?”

Jobs’ reply is a facile “I play the orchestra, and you’re a good musician. You sit right there and you’re the best in your row.” Fine if the tune Jobs is conducting is a hit with the public but quite often it was not.

This scene is one of the best in the film. The problem is that the real Wozniak denies ever confronting Jobs so directly: “Anybody who knows me will tell you I just don’t say negative things to people, and could not have said them, and didn’t.”

There is a very strong acting performance across the board. Steve Jobs is splendidly   cast and apart from Fassbender,  there is a dominant  turn  by Kate Winslet (does she ever give a poor performance?) as Jobs’  right hand woman and confidant  while  Seth Rogen as Steve Wozniak, Jeff Daniels as John Sculley,  Michael Stuhlbarg as Andy Hertzfeld, a member of the original Mac team are all very convincing because they are just the type of personalities with just the type of looks one would expect in such jobs.  Katherine Waterston as Chrisann Brennan is, Jobs’ former girlfriend and Lisa’s mother is by turns convincing  as a single mother justifiably  angry at Jobs’ failure to acknowledge his daughter denied  and pathetic inadequate  .

The screenplay is by Aaron Sorkin who wrote the screenplay for the  Social Network.  This is not anything like as good a film as the Social Network, which retained its taut energy and constantly  evolving storyline  throughout , whereas Steve Jobs  is much more dependent on Fassbender’s  bravura scenes which in general tone do begin to have a certain sameness towards the latter stages of the film. Nonetheless Steve Jobs has much of the Social Networks quick wittedness in its dialogue and the relationship between  Fassbender and Winslet is constantly sparky.

This film is not as good as it might have been but it will not bore you.

 

Article 50 is a poisoned chalice – Don’t drink from it

Robert Henderson

Those who think that British Europhile politicians   will  play fair if Britain votes to leave the EU in June will be horribly disappointed. The public may think that if the British people have voted to leave the EU and that is an end of it regardless of the wishes of the Government.   Sadly, there is every reason to expect that Brexit will be anything but a clean break from the EU.

To begin with there has been no commitment by Cameron to stand down as PM if the vote goes against him.  Quite the opposite for he  has publicly stated several  times that  he will stay on and many  Tory MPs, including some of those in favour of leaving like Chris Grayling ,  have said that he must remain in No 10 whatever the outcome of the referendum .

If Cameron stays on as PM after a vote to leave Britain would be in the absurd position of having a man in charge of  Britain’s withdrawal who has shown his all too eager  commitment to the EU by the feebleness of   the demands he made during  his “renegotiation” and his regularly repeated statement before the conclusion of the “renegotiation”  that he was sure he would get new terms which would allow him to campaign for Britain to remain within the EU.   

A post-referendum   Cameron  government entrusted with negotiating Britain’s departure from the EU would mean that not only the  PM  but  the majority of his  cabinet and ministers below  cabinet  level  will  be  drawn from the same pro-EU personnel as he has today.  In those circumstances Cameron and his fellow Europhiles would almost certainly try to stitch Britain back into the EU with a deal such as that granted to  Norway and Switzerland. If that happened Britain could end up with the most important issue in the British  public’s mind –  free movement  of not only labour but free movement of anyone with the right to permanent residence in the EU – untouched .

But if Cameron leaves  of his own accord soon after a vote to leave Britain could still end up with a Europhile  Prime Minister and Cabinet.  Why? By  far the most likely person to succeed him  is Boris Johnson. If he  does become  PM there is every reason to believe that he will also do his level best to enmesh Britain back into  the EU.  Ever since Johnson  became the Telegraph’s  Brussels correspondent in the 1990s he has been deriding the EU, but until coming out as a supporter of voting to leave in the past week he has never advocated Britain’s withdrawal.  Johnson also gave a very strong hint  in the  Daily Telegraph article in which he announced his support for leaving the EU that his support for Britain leaving the EU was no more than  a ploy to persuade the EU to offer  more significant concessions than those offered to Cameron. Johnson has also been a regular advocate of the value of immigration.

The scenario of Cameron or Johnson deliberately subverting the intention of a referendum vote  to leave are all too plausible. There has been no public discussion let alone  agreement by leading  politicians over what the British government may or may not negotiate in the event of a vote to leave.   Nor has there been any suggestion by any British politician or party  that whatever the terms offered by the EU the British public will have the right to vote on them in a referendum.  Britain could be left  with  an agreement decided by the British Government and the EU which might do nothing of what  the British public most wants and  has voted for, namely, the return of sovereignty and  the control of Britain’s borders.

Then  there is Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.  Both Cameron and Johnson are committed to doing so within the terms of the Lisbon Treaty of  2009.  Far from a vote to leave in the referendum putting Britain in the position of a  sovereign nation engaging in a negotiation for a treaty with the EU  it traps  Britain into an extended period of negotiation whose outcome is dependent on the agreement or non-agreement of  the 27 other EU member states and the  EU Parliament.  Let me quote  the Article in  full:

Article 50

  1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.
  2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.
  3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.
  4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

  1. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49. (

Article 50  means that Britain could spend two years negotiating and get no treaty because the Council of Ministers could veto it through Qualified Majority Voting (QMV) or the European Parliament reject it. Britain would then have the option of either asking for an extension (which could be indefinite because there is no limit mentioned in the Article) or leaving without a treaty.  There is also the further complication that if a treaty was agreed by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament it would still have to be agreed by 27 EU member states,  either through Parliamentary vote or  in the case of a few including France, a referendum.  Moreover,  even if a treaty is agreed and accepted by all EU member states, this would leave  Britain up in the air for what could be a considerable time as each of the 27 members goes through the process of getting  the agreement of their Parliament or electorate.

The OUT camp must make it clear that  it would be both damaging and unnecessary for the UK to abide by this Treaty requirement. It  would allow the EU to inflict considerable damage on the UK both during the period prior to formally  leaving and afterwards if  the price of leaving with the EU’s agreement was  for  UK to sign up to various obligations, for example, to continue paying a large annual sum to the EU for ten years . It would also give  the Europhile UK political elite  ample opportunity to keep the UK attached to the EU in the manner that Norway and Switzerland are attached by arguing that it is the best deal Britain  can get.  If there was no second  referendum on the  terms  negotiated for Britain leaving the government of the day could simply pass the matter into law without the British voters having a say.

The Gordian knot of Article 50 can be cut simply repealing the European Communities Act and asserting the sovereignty of Parliament.   No major UK party could  object to this on principle because all three have, at one time or another,  declared that Parliament remains supreme and can repudiate anything the EU does if it so chooses.

If the stay-in camp argue that would be illegal because of the  treaty obligation, the OUT camp should simply emphasise  (1) that international law is no law because there is never any means of enforcing it within its jurisdiction is a state rejects it and (2) that treaties which do not allow for contracting parties to simply withdraw are profoundly undemocratic because they bind future governments. There is also the fact that the EU and its predecessor the EEC has constantly breached its own rules, spectacularly so in the case of the Eurozone.  Hence, for the EU treaties are anything but sacrosanct.

Film review – The Revenant

Main cast

Leonardo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass

Tom Hardy as John Fitzgerald

Domhnall Gleeson as Andrew Henry

Will Poulter as Jim Bridger,

Forrest Goodluck as Hawk, Glass’s son

Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Robert Henderson

The Revenant is a tremendous disappointment . Like so many modern  films it substitutes a catalogue of frequent action for character development and condemns the plot to a distinctly mechanical unfolding of one damn thing after another  as the protagonist Hugh Glass  (DiCaprio) survives the hostility of the environment, Indians, some of the men he works with and most spectacularly an encounter with a grizzly bear.

The  year is 1823. A band  of trappers  by  Captain Andrew Henry  (Domhnall Gleeson) are in what is now the Dakotas and what was then  a still wild and largely unsettled (by whites)  part of the Louisiana Purchase, populated by  Indian tribes who varied from the friendly to the warlike.  Glass is the most experienced trapper and   knows the territory best.  His half Indian son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck)  is also a member of the hunting party.

The trappers  are attacked by a band of Arikara Indians who  are armed with bows and arrows. But this being  the age of  the single shot muzzle loading muskets and pistols the trappers do not have an overwhelming superiority  in weaponry. They  suffer heavy losses and retreat from the fight by  boat down a river.   After making their escape Glass  persuades Henry that the party must come off the river and make their way back to the trading post overland.   This decision does not go down well with some of the remaining trappers including John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy).

Glass is then mauled by a grisly bear which leaves him  unable to walk or speak and seemingly on the verge of death.   After carrying him on a makeshift  stretcher  it becomes apparent that they cannot take him with them. Glass ‘s condition also worsens.  Eventually Andrew Henry  accepts that Glass will die but wants him to have a decent burial so asks for two  men   to remain behind and bury Glass properly. Fitzgerald and Jim Bridger (Will Poulter)  agree to undertake the task for  additional pay.  Hawk  also stays.

Bridger leaves Fitzgerald alone with Glass. He persuades Glass  to signal by blinking that he wants Fitzgerald to put him out of his misery. Glass  blinks and Fitzgerald begins to suffocate him. Hawk  catches Fitzgerald in the act  and Fitzgerald kills him in a struggle. Bridger then returns before Fitzgerald can kill Glass. Fitzgerald  lies that he has seen a band of Arikara  Indians nearby and persuades Bridger to flee the scene leaving Glass to die. The pair then head for Fort Kiowa. On their  way Bridger discovers that Fitzgerald not seen any Arikara and gets a bad conscience. When they reach the  fort Fitzgerald lies about Glass dying and being given a decent burial. Bridger doesn’t like it but keeps mum.

As for Glass he does not die and gradually recovers both his mobility and voice. He then engages in  a wildly improbable journey to Fort Kiowa most of which  he conducts at first by crawling, then by  staggering with  the aid of a rough staff.   Most of the  action takes place in a wintery snow filled landscape. Yet not only does Glass survive the cold on land, he has several episodes when he is in what must have been water which was close to freezing . Yet DiCaprio is frequently seen in water which must have been icecold. In one scene he is swept away by the current of a fast flowing river encumbered with a heavy fur poncho-style garment  which is his own real guard against the cold. In real life Glass  would  have  rapidly died from hypothermia.

There is also no consistency in the extent of Glass’ supposed disability following the grizzly mauling. There is one scene which is truly absurd when Glass having been moving slowly with the aid of a staff suddenly regains the full use of his legs and runs.

These types  of wildly  improbable events would not matter in a fantasy such as XMen, but it does matter here. The  Revanent (meaning one who returns and especially one who returns from the dead) is  inspired by the allegedly  true story of Hugh Glass.  Apart from the fact that it is meant to have its roots in reality, the film takes great pains to look authentic, the screen being filled with filthy clothes, unshaven faces with dirty  ill-kemped beards and hair, bad skin and  inexhaustible   amounts of mud, all this set against a bleak background of  birch  forest.  The  absurdity of much of the action is horribly at odds with the  tenor of the film which is  deadly serious.

Then there is the question of historical  veracity.   Much of the important plot elements have no solid basis in fact. There is no evidence that Glass had an Indian wife or a half Indian  son.  Hence there was no son for Fitzgerald to kill. Glass was not helped by an Indian  after being deserted by Fitzgerald and Bridger. Glass did not kill  Fitzgerald let alone that seek him out  because Fitzgerald had either vanished or enlisted in the US army,  which meant he could not be safely killed because it would be treated as murder.   Take away those parts of the story and the story has lost much of its energy.

Some of the invention is also plainly designed to fit into the politically correct envelope.  The invention of an Indian wife and half-Indian son,  the depiction of Glass’ survival as being in part due to the help of an Indian, the running thread of an Arikara  chief attacking  the  trappers not for  the simple booty of the  furs but to trade them for  horses and guns  to enable the recovery of his kidnapped daughter all have no basis even in the tale that the real Hugh Glass told.  It is also true that little is known for certain  of Glass , who was  the only witness to what happened after he was left for dead and who may well have greatly embellished the story.

But even as the story is told in the film there is a curious deadness and inconsequentiality to the tale.  The dreadful truth is  the film is rather boring. The episode with the bear and the attack on the trappers by the Indians are undeniably thrilling, but there is the lack of characters who can engage the audience’s sympathy or even interest.  DiCaprio does his best with the material he is given but the it  is pretty frugal fare, not least by the fact that he is either alone or unable to speak for much of the film.   He is neither villain nor hero  but  a drab, dour unsympathetic  personality in a perilous situation.  That does not make for sympathy and the lack of sympathy means one cannot really care about how if at all  Glass will save himself.

Of the rest of the players  only Tom Hardy makes any real  impact. He is ostensibly the villain but might be seen more as a victim of circumstance  for,  after Glass fails to die of his wounds Fitzgerald and Bridger are left in in an impossible position. They cannot carry  Glass nor is Glass in any fit state to walk.  Their lives are at risk. Fitzgerald behaves badly in one way by pretending that he and Bridger have carried out their task and buried Glass after he has died a natural death, but to leave Glass was not unreasonable. Domhnall Gleeson as Andrew Henry  is sadly y miscast because he is positively wooden and horribly far from being a leader.

This is a film which is too  self-consciously important, the sort of film which one can imagine would-be Oscar winners grasping fondly  in the belief that it had Oscars galore written all over it. It may well be such a film for it has already made its mark at the BAFTAS,  but if it is it will be a triumph of promotion over substance.

 

The burden of digital technology

Robert Henderson

Technological  change  has been  making  increasingly  severe   demands  on  human beings for around 300 years. There  was change before then of course, but it was slow and most people   could live their lives without  having to adapt to radically   new ways of living.

Things  began to speed up as the Industrial Revolution began and an argument can be made that the century  1815 and 1914  saw  more radical technological  qualitative  change than any generation before or since. But  that  change  was the difference between living in  a  still  largely  pre-industrial society (in 1815) and  an  industrial     society  in its  early middle age (in 1914).  Moreover,  the  change  did  not actually require the vast  majority  of  the  population to master complicated machines at their work,  let  alone in their own homes.

In  1914 the most complicated machine most people had to operate was probably the telephone and vast swathes  of the population would not even have had to go that far into  the  world  of technology. Not only that, because  machines  then were either mechanical or part mechanical,  i.e.,  not   electronic, just looking at the way a machine was made  often allowed the intelligent  observer to have a fair guess at how  it  worked and to see  what had  gone  wrong  if it malfunctioned.  Even  work-related machines which required skilled operators, such as  machine  lathes,  were not   fundamentally difficult to understand, although the dexterity  required to operate them often took time to acquire.

Things remained essentially  the same until  the advent of personal computers and the widespread use of digital technology.  Machines became   more and more predominant in advanced societies but they were   not,   in  most  instances,  complicated  to  use. This  was  particularly  true  of those machines used in  private  life.  Telephones just required the user  to dial;  washing machines  had  a  start  button and nothing else; televisions  and radios  simply needed switching  on;  cars were simply  designed to travel. Then came digital technology.

Computers are like no other machine ever invented. They have  a  unique combination of  an unparalleled public and  private   use  and   a  central importance to  economic  activity and public  administration.   The  potential  penalties  for  the   failure  of these machines  are vastly greater than  for  any   other  piece  of  technology.   Not  only  can  an  immediate   application  of a computer be ended,  as can happen with  all  machines,  but  computer users also  risk  losing  networking  capacity  and, if they have not useable backed up copies  of   their computer data, the loss of their entire records and conceivably the loss of the means to continue their business. Computer users are also vulnerable to outside sabotage though hacking  and viruses.   No other machine has ever  exposed a society to such risks through its ubiquity and vulnerability to outside influences.

These machines are also vastly more demanding of time than   any  other  machine  ever  used  by  the   general   public. To  master computers to the  degree where a person does not lie helplessly in the hands of  experts  is a  demanding and continuing   task.   It is unlikely that many could or would manage it  without making  computers their  profession.   In fact,   even   supposed  computer  professionals   are   only   knowledgeable in   their  specialist  areas:   a   hardware  specialist has no deep knowledge of software and vice versa, while programmers long ago lost any detailed understanding of an entire program. It is also true that many self described IT experts are anything but. They get by with a small amount of IT knowledge  because of the general level of ignorance amongst the general public and the fact that most problems can be overcome by re-booting or by  reinstalling programs.

The computer age  is a stunningly  recent   phenomenon.  Most people even in the West   would  not  have   used  a  computer before 1985.  Probably a majority  had  not   done  so by 1990.  By the end of the 1980s  the nearest  most   would have got to a computer  would probably have been   bank  ATM  machines.  The internet was esoteric and laborious,  the   web barely more than a gleam in Tim Berners-Lee’s eye.   Even    in  the  world  of  employment  computers  were  still   used   sparingly.

As  with  computers actually called computers,  so with the other machines which  cause much  grief now.   The mobile phone was  a status symbol  and   the size of a brick, while  landline phones were still phones   boringly   restricted   to   simply   phoning   rather   than    mini-computers with a tendency to bemuse.   Microwaves had  a  simple   choice  of power.  Refrigerators did  not  offer  to  remind  you  of  what needed to be ordered.  TVs   tended  to  simply work when switched on.

In  the past 25 years all this has dramatically changed.   We  are in  a world in which computers are absolutely integral   to  business and public administration and they are  now  the  norm rather than the exception in homes.  For most people, it  is  literally impossible to escape them.   Worse,  they  have  become ever more complex to use and invade ever  more  of our lives as microprocessors are inserted  into  the most unlikely things such as clothes.  Machines  generally   are more demanding. To use This has profound implications for  people  both in  high IQ and low IQ societies.

Even to use computers at a low level  of expertise, such as using a word processor to its  full capacity and  sending email  efficiently , requires  a degree of concentration and  knowledge with which  a substantial minority are uneasy.  More demanding activities such as  spreadsheet  use  or the construction of a database  are inaccessible to the majority. Most  people  have only a  minimal knowledge of the  capacities of their operating system . This lack of expertise  afflicts the young as well as the old, which suggests that this is going to be a permanent  problem because the young have grown up with computers.

Of  the commonly used programmes  search engines  are particularly interesting from the point of view of IQ. Everyone  who uses a computer can use a search engine at some level, but  the skill with which they use search engines varies massively.  This is unsurprising because the search engine is  the  commonly used program which most calls upon IQ related abilities.  It relies not simply on knowledge but  also  problem solving. To perform a function in a word processor  requires the user  to apply inert knowledge, go to this menu, use this function etc. To use a search engine efficiently for anything but a simple search for a certain website  requires the ability to formulate questions  in the most pertinent way.  I never ceased to be amazed how at many people  use search engines ineptly, often comically so. I should not be amazed of course because the ability to do so is IQ dependent.

The implications for those with a low IQ are these: the lower the IQ, the more the person will struggle in an advanced society because the use of computers is increasingly inescapable.  In a high IQ society the low IQ individual will struggle but the society  as a whole will  manage. In a low IQ society there will simply not be the IQ firepower to sustain a society based on digital technology.  In a high IQ society  the low IQ part of the population will be left increasingly in a technological no man’s land, unable to competently use the technology but forced to use it simply to live.

 

The constant learning process

Personal  computing  began in the mid  seventies. A  person  starting then would have had to learn the BASIC  programming language.   By the early eighties they would have been using DOS. By 1990s Windows   expertise  was  necessary.   Since  1990  successive   editions  of  Windows  have  varied  considerably  from   the  previous version requiring further learning.

What  goes for  operating systems applies also to most  other programs,   which   when  they  are   upgraded   often   bear    surprisingly little  resemblance to the  version  prior  to  them.  Certainly,  if one moves from an old   program   to  a version  which has been uprated twice, the chances are  that knowledge  of the original program will be of little use  in  understanding the new one.

Apart from the effort needed to constantly learn new programs  and to attend to such things as installations of software and hardware, the other great drawback of computers is the amount of time which can be spent on maintenance.  It is all too easy to find a  day  or  two  slip by just sorting out a single relatively  simple  computer problem or learning how to use a new program.

The nature of what is to be learned

The burden  of learning is   especially heavy because of  the  nature of that which is to be learned. This  is what might be termed   dead information.   There is no  intrinsic  interest in what is to be learned. It is merely a means to an end.  To operate  a program all that is needed is a knowledge of   the  menus  and  function keys.   That is precisely  the  type  of   information  which  is least palatable to  the  normal  human  mind.  Hence,  it is the least easy to learn for most people.    The  computer is in effect forcing human beings to  act  like  computers, something utterly alien to them.

Intelligence  is  of  little  use on its own.  Computers  are  information   driven  machines.  Put the most intelligent man in the world before a   computer  and  he  will  be utterly helpless  if  he  has  no  computer  experience.  Even  if the  man  has  some  computer   experience,  he will be as incapable of using  a completely   unfamiliar type of program as the dullard.

The substitution of function for intellect

That  computers are function rather than intelligence  driven  is  objectively  demonstrated  by the fact that all  of  what   might be called the administrative  operations of a  computer – file management,  loading of programs etc –  could be  done by a computer program.

When I watch the young using computers,  obvious or disguised in the shape of phones and the like,  I get a feeling of deep  unease.  They  so  obediently pull down  menus  and    select   options  that I wonder at the difference between them  and  a  robot.  The  machine is driving the human being at  least  as   much  as  the  human  being is  driving  the  machine;  brute  machine functionality is replacing intellect.

There  is  only so much any human being can  learn,  both  in terms  of time and mental impetus.  If increasing amounts  of  both are required by computers simply to operate them,  where  will that leave intellectual development?    Worse,  will the  ability  to  operate  machines become  to  be seem as the  most  important activity of  human beings?

The myth of youthful expertise

It  is true that those who have grown up with  computers  are   more  comfortable  with the machines than those who  came  to them in adult life – the latter still comprise, more than 50 per cent of the population. It is worth noting.   However,  the idea  that  the young  generally  have any  substantial understanding of  computers is dubious going on simply wrong. A recent survey  by the global market-research company Synovate, reported:

“We found that people tended to fit into one of three categories: 27 per cent are what we call ‘cybernauts’ – people who like to be ahead of the game in terms of technology. However, the majority, 53 per cent, are ‘average Joes’. They don’t love technology per se, but view it as a facilitator – it helps them to communicate or entertain themselves. They tend to use it in quite a functional way, such as emailing, banking or shopping online. Then there are 20 per cent who we describe as ‘digital dissidents’, meaning they actively dislike using technology and avoid it wherever possible.” Daily Telegraph 30 6 2007  The myth of the MySpace generation.

The  young know how to use the internet and web,  can work  a  word processor and  use programs which really interest  them.  But  let  their   computer develop  a  fault   which  renders Windows  unstable or unusable or  a piece of hardware  fails,  and  they are,  in most cases,  as helpless  the  generations which did not grow up with computers.

What  the young do have which  older people do not  have   is group  knowledge.  A schoolchild of today can call  on  the computer  knowledge of their peer group and the assistance of   teachers.  Those  a little older who are in work  still  have   their  peer  group  to  help them   if  they  get  stuck.  In  addition,  if they work for a large employer they can call on the  expertise  of the employer’s IT  department  or  service contractors.

Computers  have only been in schools since the mid  eighties.  Anyone over the age of forty (arguably,  over the age of  35)   will  not  have  a  peer group on  whom  they  can  call  for  assistance  with  computers  (and  other  machines)   because   almost  all  of  those  they  know  well  will  be  of  their approximate  age  – few people have  close  friendships  with  those who are  much younger than themselves – and the  people   who  are  their age will have little computer  experience  or knowledge.   The  best they can hope for is  assistance  from  their children if they have any,  and then it is pot luck  as   to how computer competent those children are and how  willing  they  are  to help the parent.   If an older  person  has  no  compliant computer literate children and  does not work for a   large employer,  he or she will  be utterly isolated from the   knowledge   needed   to  deal  with even   basic computer developments.

The  science  fiction writer Arthur C Clarke  pointed  out  a  good few years ago that there comes  a point with  technology  when it became indistinguishable from magic for all but the initiates. The dangers of that are obvious: for that which is not generally understood  gives the few who do understand a power over those who do not.  That potentially gives private corporations and governments a great stick with which to beat   their  customers  and citizens into  submission,  either  for  profit or political power.

Where the technology is as vital and central to a society  as  computers  have  become,   there  is  the  further  and  more   fundamental  risk   of society reaching a  state  where   the   technology  can  no longer be either properly  maintained  or  controlled.

More prosaically, in societies which have the capacity to embrace the ever  growing potential  digital technology, those without the means to gain Internet access or the ability to use computers generally will be left stranded as more and more of everyday life is dependent upon people having the ability and opportunity to use the Internet. Already there are few large organisations, private and public, which are not making strenuous efforts to force anyone who wishes to interact with them to do so through the Internet.   This trend will continue if nothing is done. There are also developments which within ten to twenty years may have driven advanced societies to do away with cash and trap everyone into a world in which  the means of living are dependent upon the reliability of digital systems and the honesty and goodwill of those who control them. Imagine a world in which payment could only be made through an electronic  transfer  using a card or  smartphone and the bank servicing your electronic broke down? Or suppose you lost your card or had it stolen. How would you survive?

In a democratic society politicians  should be addressing the very real dangers to everyone  and the unreasonable burdens being placed on those who simply cannot come to terms with the technology, the old, the disabled, the simply not very bright.  This is simply not happening.  God help us if those with power and influence do not begin to address the problem soon.

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