Thursday, 14 April 2011

Double Standards

In recent weeks, there have been a lot of headlines regarding various things which, to my mind, display very obvious double standards.

The first example of this is the bankers. It may seem that I have an unnatural dislike of bankers, but my main dislike of these people is the arrogance that they so often display. Just a few years ago, these people almost destroyed the economy of this country. They were rescued by the Government stepping in and bailing them out with billions of pounds.

Yet there seems to be no acknowledgement on their part that they may have done anything wrong, and their insistence that they still receive bonuses seems to support this. However, the latest thing now is that there have been threats by certain banks that if the Government increases their tax liability further, they will relocate their headquarters abroad. So they are refusing to acknowledge any fault for their dire financial position and they want all the rewards that come to someone who is successful. And if they don't get their way, they are threatening to leave.

So what should the Government do? Should they submit to what is essentially a ransom demand? Personally, I would tell the bankers to go. But there would be conditions. The first of these would be that they would only be permitted to relocate abroad once they had paid back all of the money that they had received during the Government bailout. If they are unable, or unwilling, to make this repayment, they can either remain in this country and accept their liabilities, or they can continue relocation but face having assets to the value of what they owe seized and sold off to recoup the money. And if that leaves the bank unable to continue trading, tough. The bankers can go and claim the equivalent of dole in the country where they intended to relocate.

We've also seen double standards displayed by the Government of this country regarding Libya. What has been and is still happening in Libya is appalling. Gadaffi, desperate to cling onto the power that he seized in 1969, has had no hesitation in using the full force of his military to quell the uprising that has occurred this year.

In response to this, initially the United Nations and now NATO have launched an aerial attack on the heavy weapons of the incumbent regime, in an attempt to stop Gadaffi from attacking Libyan civilians. Britain has subscribed to this wholeheartedly, sending aircraft to enforce the no-fly zone and to attack the heavy weapons used by the pro-Gadaffi forces. And despite the initial claims that this was nothing to do with regime change, it can clearly be seen that this is exactly what the whole thing is about, with the various politicians insisting that there is no place for Gadaffi in a "new" Libya.

Yet, just under four thousand miles from where all this conflict is taking place in North Africa, for the last ten years there has been a very similar thing taking place in South Africa, including a Government that it is accepted has no legitimacy following "rigged" elections and that has no hesitation in using its armed forces against its civilian population to ensure that it remains in power.

Yet despite this continuing and despite there being lots of political hot air stating that this should not be allowed to continue, Robert Mugabe remains the President of Zimbabwe. Why? Well, as I've said before I'm sure that it has nothing to do with the fact that Libya is a wealthy oil-producing country and Zimbabwe is a dirt-poor mineral exporter.

So whilst this country appears to be taking the moral high ground in an effort to assist the oppressed population of Libya, it is only because there is a possibility of there being benefit to the politicians, a benefit that the oppressed people of Zimbabwe cannot give them.

The final area of double standards relates to the recent French law that bans anyone from concealing their face in a public place and seems to specifically relate to Muslim women who choose to wear a niqāb.

My personal opinion is, because in Britain we live in a democracy, people should be allowed to wear what they like as long as it causes no harm. If they want to walk down the street wearing a purple bin bag and a felt top hat, they have the right to do so. The same with regards to a burka or a niqāb.

Whilst there are some security issues regarding the use of burkas, specifically the case of the 21st July 2005 bomber Yasin Omar, who attempted to evade arrest by fleeing London disguised in one of his mother-in-law's burkas, the majority of women who wear these items do so because they wish to, not to conceal evidence of wrongdoing.

However, since the ban in France, there has been an outcry by certain groups objecting to the fact that Muslim women are being dictated to about what they can and cannot wear in public. And many of these objections are originating from middle-eastern countries that will arrest and jail women for wearing what they consider to be indecent clothing. Yet you hear no objections from the west when this happens, because it is the law of those particular countries and is respected as such, just as the no-face coverings law in France is the law of that country and should be respected.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

A Day Off!

It’s been over a month since I last wrote, and a very busy month it has been, as I've worked all but one weekend since last writing, either directing resuscitation courses or away with the TA. Unfortunately, I had to complete both of the courses that I was to direct in the same month, as if I hadn't directed the paediatric course this month, I would have had to wait until next year, because the next paediatric course that we're running is in November. Because this course is running over the weekend of Remembrance, I will have other commitments and won't be able to participate.

These courses are long days, starting at 8am and finishing at 6pm, and intense for both the faculty and the candidates. And you are unaware of what is happening outside the confines of the course, which is why it was not until after the faculty meal last Saturday and when I returned to my hotel room that I found out that, yet again, a peaceful protest in this country had been hijacked by rent-a-mob.

Last weekend, there was a protest march organised in London to protest against the Government cuts that are being implemented in an effort to reduce the deficit. The march made its way through London and was addressed by Ed Milliband, the Labour Party leader.

Unfortunately for all concerned, and like every other protest in this country in recent years, the cuts protest has hit the headlines not because of the peaceful nature of what occurred, but because a few hundred thugs used the excuse of this march to attack buildings on the route, and then the Police Officers who attempted to stop them.

And this is the curse that we now face. As a democracy, we must allow people to protest peacefully, but every time that this is allowed, the scum element will hijack it for their own purposes and cause untold damage. And then to top it all off, those thugs that are arrested and put before the courts will, nine times out of ten, walk away scot free because our legal system is so lenient.

But at least we don't deal with protesters in the way that the Libyans have. Unfortunately, their actions have now resulted in the armed forces of this country becoming embroiled in the whole thing, enforcing a "no-fly" zone and participating in strategic bombing.

From a purely practical point of view, each of the bombs that are dropped by an aircraft of the Royal Air Force will add to the debt deficit that we have already discussed. From a military point of view, it is known that it is impossible to win a conflict by air power alone, and it has been seen that despite the nightly bombing raids, the Libyan ground forces have continued to attack. Are we going to have to deploy ground troops as part of a NATO force? And if so, with all the cuts taking place to the British armed forces, where are we going to get these troops from?

Maybe it won't come to that, as Colonel Gadaffi's allies and colleagues appear to be deserting him at a rate of knots. Mousa Kousa (whose name suggests that he should be a character in Team America) arrived in the UK this week, having resigned his position as Libyan Foreign Minister because he was unhappy with the regime's attacks on civilians.

It's interesting that this is the same man who, in the 1980's, could see no problem with telling a British newspaper that his Government intended to eliminate two political opponents who were living in the UK. This led to his expulsion from this country. And now he's back, apparently claiming asylum. But with his history, should we grant this, or should we put him before the International Criminal Court in The Hague, to answer for his crimes. He is also thought to have been heavily involved with the Lockerbie bombing and is wanted for interview by the Scottish police.

It is also rumoured that there have been various other Libyan officials visiting London in an effort to negotiate a peace, and the debate is now whether Gadaffi should be allowed to disappear off into exile, or whether he should face the consequences of his actions. I would imagine that if he is eventually removed from power and no longer control the oil, then it will be the latter. And I'm sure that if the British Government has been instrumental in removing this dictator, they will be in a better position to negotiate a good deal for oil with the new regime.

Whilst on the subject of consequences, it may be time for previously convicted jailed terrorists to face the consequences of their actions. I am, of course, referring to the recent murder of a Police Officer in Northern Ireland.

Thirteen years ago, the British Government signed the Good Friday Agreement. Part of this agreement was that prisoners currently serving sentences for terrorist activities would be released early if the organisation to which they belonged abandoned armed conflict.

Initially, this seemed to be working, but there have increasingly been breaches with the extremist elements continuing the "armed struggle". The latest example of this is the murder yesterday of the 25 year old Police Officer, killed by a car bomb in Omagh.

What this shows is that despite their reassurances told renounce violence, many of these terrorists are continuing to kill and maim. Many of these terrorists will have the support of their families and the communities in which they live, which makes their detection and apprehension much more difficult for the Police. So perhaps the solution is to round up all those who have been released early and place them back in prison to complete their sentences. Perhaps the impact of this would encourage their families to be less supportive and actually put a stop to this criminal behaviour.

I don't think that anyone wants a return to the days of soldiers having to patrol the streets, people checking underneath their cars and people living in fear of indiscriminate death from a terrorist bomb. I lived in Northern Ireland for a couple of years as a child at the start of "The Troubles" in 1969, my father serving out there at the time. I had hoped that my son wouldn't have to do so.

Unfortunately, Alec has been backtermed as a result of the injury to his ankle and is currently spending his days either receiving intensive physiotherapy and remedial PT or studying for the War Studies course that he will complete when he joins the next intake.

However, the good news is that he recently visited Cranwell, where he was tested for his flying aptitude, which he passed. Now he just has to undertake his flight grading, which he had hoped to complete during his leave in this month, but he will be unable to do so because of his injury.

If he gets through the flight grading, then he will be able to commission into the Army Air Corps, and then begin the process of learning to fly helicopters.