Thursday 27 February 2014

The West's moral confusion over landmines in Africa

Guest post by Brendan O'Neill*
 *NOT a guest post by Brendan O'Neill

Africa's right?
It will come as no great surprise to many. Despite the tutting of the West, and the efforts of Africa's small and brave anti-landmine community, the use of land-mines and cluster-munitions has the backing of large numbers of Africa's leaders, who are not exactly in the Lambeth Palace school of right-on thought.

The Foreign Office has condemned a recent move to promote their use across sub-Saharan Africa which is clear provocation and finger-wagging against developing countries.  But this is no longer just about landmines, but about the West lecturing an African country on how to slaughter it's own people.

That, of course, is an accusation that the Foreign Office is normally anxious to avoid. Whenever I've met diplomats in my time as a journalist, they are at pains not to sound like a colonial viceroy. But on the question of cluster-munitions and other maiming explosives, it's fair to say that, in recent years, the Foreign Office has not been scared of causing of offence.

At the risk of sounding like an apologist for Mugabe, I think this policy is a little misjudged. For what may sound perfectly reasonable in metropolitan London does not come across as such in many other parts of the world, be it Africa, or the Arab world with its conservative imams.

All too often, they view opposition to cluster-munitions with utter incomprehension, to the point where I fear it discredits other Western messages such as the need for good governance. And it's a gift to loopy African leaders who are able to con their people that it's Western governments that are barmy, because they do not support the use of M18 Claymore mines.

I also a detect an inconsistency here. After all, on many occasions, Britain avoids open criticism of other countries for fear that we will be seen as interfering. For example, after last June's military coup in Egypt – in which an elected Islamist government was ousted, William Hague pointedly declined to call it a "coup". Clearly, HMG's unspoken view was that in order to have any sway with the new regime, it was best to keep criticisms private. So why be diplomatic on some issues and outspoken on others?

I am not suggesting that land-mines are not a cause worth defending. Apart from anything else, minefields and other Western explosive technologies are a welcome sign of rising living standards in the region's better-off nations, but I can't help wondering whether this is a battle not for social progress but a battle to curtail Africa's right to maim civilians in the way that it chooses? 

It is a symptom of a much deeper Malthusian spite. Western leaders see Africa's traditional machete slaughters as more sustainable and eco-friendly than mass-produced booby-trap explosives. Our leaders in the West are suspicious of the potential of modern technology, and in their miserablist fervour seek to deprive Africa of its right to lose limbs in a modern and progressive fashion.

Brendan O'Neill is editor of Spiked Online.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Self-censorship is killing journalism – and the truth.

In the wake of the phone hacking scandal, Twitter arrests and the Snowden affair, there has been much debate surrounding press freedom, censorship and freedom of speech. It is a very necessary and timely debate. But there is always a major component missed entirely by the legacy media and our oh-so-wise commentariat. In this instance, local media is the stealth pachyderm in the room.

Insomuch as a free press is vital to a healthy democracy on a national level, it also applies on a local level. We need a truth hungry local press to hold our local authorities to account. We have never been well served by our local media, and it has always been a pillar of the establishment where descent is licensed and limited within a narrow set of parameters, but it is now in a worse state than ever.

As local media struggles for relevance and budgets are squeezed, journalism suffers. Instead of being bold seekers after the truth, local hacks merely rearrange copy supplied to it by local authorities and the police; they who pay the bills. Local authorities have advertising budgets that dwarf most SMEs, and a big part of local media revenue comes from council advertising. It is for that reason our local media is not keen to rock the boat, and has become an Uncle Tom to our local fiefdoms.

While major local publications are waking up to the dynamic that news is now interactive, the dismal provincial rags still see themselves as the fount of all truth. They are still wedded to the notion that they still control the message. Their copy is less an interaction with readers, more a Sermon on the Mount. Try adding a comment relevant to an issue (that names council employees) and see how long that lasts on their websites. Be it in fear of inciting “trolling” or offending their paymasters, our local media has become timid and subservient, and the truth is left to fend for itself.

One might be tempted to conclude that the demise of local media is entirely a consequence of the digital age, or that people are simply not interested in local affairs. Not so. It comes down to one principle; Media follows power. Now that our councils are merely regional agencies, implementing Whitehall policy, the media averts its gaze from them and goes to the source instead. And who could blame them? But in so doing, it is left to the back pages of Private Eye and local loony-blogs to chart the misdeeds and grubby shenanigans in our own back yards.

While this may provide titillation and intrigue, it ignores the fact that councils regularly speak with each other, and if they find a scam that works, they will replicate it rapidly across the country in the pursuit of further revenue. If our national newspapers had the investigative ability, they would be able to capitalise on those morsels of stories and turn them into national news. It may just get people on the streets if they knew just how badly their interests were served - and how much it was costing them.

As much as one could say journalism is a dying trade, it is one that is committing collective suicide as it feverishly repeats everything it is told, without the capacity for research and detailed analysis. Only the now matters, and anything off message must wither on the vine should it be inconvenient to the narrative.

While the great and the good follow the legacy media like a rabbit in headlights, and make their names on issues of national significance, our media is being voluntarily hollowed out from the inside by self-censorship - without coercion. And because it starts in such obscure publications as the Oswestry and Border Gazette, nobody seems to give a toss. But they should.

If the recent flooding has shown us anything, it is that decisions that affect us directly are taken by the unelected, without consultation or consent, with the full co-operation of our councils. One wonders how much of the damage could have been averted with a local press unafraid to that "journalism" thing.

Hubert Wolfe said “You cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank God!) the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there's no occasion to.” In the case of local media, you most certainly can bribe and twist a British journalist. But in a similar vein... there is no occasion to.

Guardian surrealism

Liberating experience?
"Natalie Hynde, convicted on Monday after supergluing herself to a fellow anti-fracking protester at Balcombe, says more people should stand up against the risks" says The Guardian.
"Getting arrested for taking part in direct action at Balcombe was the most liberating experience I've ever had. Nothing I've ever done in my life has made me feel so empowered and alive." says she.
Y'see this is the fundamental difference between most normal people and environmentalist lefties. I have been arrested. They put you in a concrete cell with a big metal door on it.  In my top 100 list of most liberating and empowering experiences, being locked up for eight hours waiting for a duty solicitor to show up is really not among them.

In fact I could describe it as distinctly un-liberating and extremely disempowering experience. Only in the feverish brain of a Guardian illiterate could it be described as such. Perhaps this tells you that the limited horizons of a leftist brain make a small, bare, empty cell a vast lebensraum by contrast. If being locked up in that cell pictured made me "feel alive", then it would mean my day-to-day existence was so dull that I would have self-terminated long before now.

I'm not going to dig into the respective merits of fracking.  That is for others.  What is important is the mindset on display.  It's not about the righteousness of the cause, nor even the outcome.  It's not about convincing people to change their minds or inspiring people to act.  What matters is how "direct action" makes one FEEL.  All bow before the cult of me!

As to fracking causing "spontaneous abortions in livestock", I always thought cattle were pro-life?

Saturday 22 February 2014

A disease of the mind

If I said the MoD has lost the plot completely, you would not gasp in surprise or bat so much as an eyelid.  But here is an especially glaring example of the Malthusian dismalist mindset that now infects all branches of government.  Today the MoD suggests the military may have to "abandon flood-prone bases".
"Many of the military’s most important facilities, including RAF Brize Norton, the Royal Navy bases at Plymouth and Portsmouth, and the Ministry of Defence’s headquarters in London, face a "direct impact" from floods by 2020. Defence chiefs must move away from the “Canute syndrome”, a reference to the 11th century English King reputed to have unsuccessfully ordered the sea to retreat, and decide whether to “abandon, manage retreat, or defend robustly” in the case of the most vulnerable sites along the coast."

Now, for those not familiar with defence affairs, the Royal Navy has a great deal to do with ships.  They are large ones, specifically built for the defence of our rainy little island.  Unsurprisingly, this does mean the Royal Navy will have to maintain a number of coastal facilities.  I am not sure how one "manages retreat" with such a specific mission brief.  Perhaps the MoD is suggesting we move the Royal Navy further inland?  You can see the obvious and immediate cost savings there, though it is difficult to see how they can be an effective military deterrent unless China is attempting to assert it's global supremacy over Lake Windermere and to fly the Communist flag proudly over Cumbria.

Further entrenching this absurdity is the notion that Brize Norton should be surrendered to the elements, given that only recently has the entire logistics and refuelling operation of the RAF been relocated there from the now semi-defunct, (recently modernised) RAF Lyneham  - which sits upon a big hill in Wiltshire.

Of course, the lack of joined up thinking is nothing at all new, but here we see yet another symptom of the defeatism and lack of vision that has now spread into the popular narrative: We are but helpless animals, defenceless from the tides and the winds.  We have decided collectively that surviving as a nation costs too much and is unsustainable, and there is little point in maintaining the basics that protect us from the elements.  Staying alive, prosperous and healthy is far too much effort.  The future is bleak for humanity, but looking on the bright side, there's never been a better time to be a British crested spoonbill.

Friday 21 February 2014

Who will rid us?

It's something about those hats.
Lefty bishops are absolutely nothing new, though this one does surprise me.  I remember an interview with Justin Welby on Radio 4 shortly before he became the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, and I was struck at how eminently sensible he sounded - and a refreshing change from the dreary leftism of his dullard predecessor. But there must be something in those hats that sucks out a man's intelligence.  Welby has blundered into the welfare debate again.

There is little I could add to Simon Heffer's view on this, in that there is nothing at all moral about our welfare state. Aside from the obvious, it runs counter to what I always believed were the objectives of the modern CofE.  The Church, if anything, is supposed to encourage people to act selflessly, with neither praise nor recognition, of their own volition.  The welfare state is the very antithesis of this.  Not only does it create the very problems it was designed to solve, it also replaces the free will of the individual to act in a selfless and charitable way.  It replaces spontaneous community action with the dead hand of the state.

If anything, the Church of England should have embraced the ideal of Big Society, because that would have cleared the way for it to encourage and support communities in co-ordinating and addressing their own welfare needs, while also bringing a renewed sense of relevance for the Church.

We don't need another shrill, leftist voice in the debate.  We have any number to pick from, including the BBC, and it is out of step with the public in any case.  The volume of the far left message far exceeds its natural support among the people of England, and the way that the church has aligned itself with the far left speaks volumes about about how isolated and out of touch it is.  They mistake the voice of the NGO's and charities begging them for money, on behalf of "the poor", with the legitimate voice of the public.  As it grasps in the dark for relevance, the Church seemingly believes that bowing to media-land populism will slow the attrition rate on the pews.  But it is not saying anything we cannot get elsewhere.

Rather than taking a moral stand on idleness and want, as indeed the Church should, the Church has given way to fad, fashion and sentiment.  The Church is so unsure of itself and its role, that it has lost the confidence to preach morality. And if a church is not preaching morality, then what on Earth is it for?  But we have seen this before; an out of touch institution, struggling for relevance, perceived to be unpopular - and, in desperation, grasps for populist bandwagons.  Did someone say Prince Charles?  Or were you thinking of husky hugging David Cameron?  Anything for acceptability in the eyes of the rogue state broadcaster, who thinks the CofE, the Tories and the Royals are toxic brands.

It's not difficult to see how British society has lost its moral centre.  If the monarchy, the Conservative Party and the Church of England does not know what it believes in or what it stands for, then how can they be defenders of that which is right and good?

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Flooding: the anatomy of failure

Before I start, I would like to point out that some of this article is made from recycled, renewable material, as some of my readers may notice.

If ever you wanted an example of how lightweight our drive-by media has become, it is the coverage of the recent flooding.  The more egregious examples come from the Mirror which squarely and predictably takes the simplistic "Tory cuts" line in furthering it's own moronic agenda.  But perhaps the biggest disappointments have been from people who really ought to know better.

Simon Jenkins is more often right than wrong, or at least not as wrong as the rest of the vessel for which he writes, but the notion that no-one is to blame for the floods seems to be a recurrent theme among those who cannot trouble themselves to take a more nuanced look at the matter.  Similarly Rob Lyons at Spiked offers a similarly lightweight article, albeit not entirely wrong. And while one could not disagree with Brendan O'Neill, this is the obvious and easy approach to the story.  Scratch the surface of the story and the link between "climate change" and the floods becomes so completely fatuous, it seems barely worth the effort to say so.  If one really wants the low-down on that, you can ask one of the nerds over at WUWT.

It is especially disappointing to see Spiked drop the ball on this one because it speaks to a number of recurrent themes on their site.  Rob Lyons's central premise is that "There's something backward about the hunt for the one thing or person who might be blamed for England's flooding.".  To me this is a lazy and incomplete assessment of the facts at hand.  There is plenty of blame to go around, but the multi-faceted issues surrounding the floods are not in isolation of each other, and they are symptoms of a disease, not the disease itself.  This is a failure of policy, and a failure of governance, and it starts in the Somerset levels, with just one simple picture.

Not rocket science is it?
From this picture, you can see that maintenance of the waterways, particularly dredging, has been completely neglected.  The question is why?  We have documented this in detail over on whereby drains, ditches and rivers have not been cleared as part of the Habitats Directive, along with other regulatory interventions governing the disposal of river silt, too complex (and dull) to go into any great detail here.

The first conclusion you may reach is that we are blaming it squarely on the EU as Ukip would have it.  Not so.  EU regulations are not plucked out of the air.  As Richard North has written at length, regulation is often written by agencies of the UN, nations states, NGO's and international committees.  The EU is merely the mechanism by which they become law and the EU is not at the top of the food chain.  In many respects, unelected, unaccountable NGO's are.

Insomuch as the environmentalist agenda is a useful tool for national governments and the EU to grab ever more powers, NGO's have a significant role to play for them, in that they are the fig-leaf of grass-roots approval.  Hence why the EU uses our money to fund Friends of the Earth and a myriad of other famous (and not so famous) NGO's.  The NGO's are not just embedded in government, but also in academia and schools.  There is good reason for that.  The children of today are the "experts" of the next generation. Spiked has repeatedly made the case that NGO's are corrupting the curriculum, and who could disagree? As a child of the eighties, we were spoonfed NGO's from an early age through BBC Comic Relief and Blue Peter, and Oxfam propaganda packs could always be found in schools.

What all these poverty concern and environmentalist NGO's share in common is that of the Leftist, Malthusian mindset, which is beautifully characterised by Brendan O'Neill in The Guardian and elsewhere.  By maintaining an iron grip on education, they have engineered an academic class of "experts" and teachers who speak to that same agenda, some knowingly, some not.  Nowhere is this more evident than in the debate surrounding the Somerset Levels.

The conventional academic view of dredging is that speeding up the flow of rivers increases the erosion of riverbanks, and causes flooding problems further downstream.  These are entirely plausible statements, and in the context of the River Severn or the Thames, they carry some water.  However, the Somerset Levels are an entirely man-made agricultural system where the normal rules of hydrology don't necessarily apply. Man-made drains require regular clearing. 

What we discovered last week was that the Environment Agency (also stuffed to the rafters with the product of our NGO ridden education system) had made the decision to deliberately surrender parts of the Levels to flooding as part of it's policy of "Water Storage" (deliberate flooding) and "Managed Retreat" (doing bugger all) for the sake of "restoring" wildlife habitats.  Now that the public, who were never consulted, are demanding action, the EA has plenty of rent-a-quote flapping mouths to wheel out onto the BBC Politics show.  We have clown car full of experts to draw upon, all singing from the same hymn book.  In this instance, the NGO influenced Janet & John Book of Hydrology, saying that dredging would have made little difference.  Exactly what the Environment Agency wants to hear.  Even the great Moonbat sticks his oar in.

I have also had the misfortune of bickering with a PhD student of Hydrology (who arrived at the same dullard conclusion as Simon Jenkins) who actually said in the comments "As a tax payer my personal opinion, based on my scientific knowledge, is that dredging would be a massive waste of my taxes and not only that, it would give floodplain residents false security."

As ever the "experts" have demonstrated an extraordinary ability to soak up information without question, but very little capacity to think and analyse. His knowledge is of generic theory, not the reality of the Somerset Levels. Eventually, the man-made rivers, if not dredged again, will choke up completely – because they are not natural watercourses. If he is saying dredging makes no difference to flooding in the Levels, then he is essentially saying the people who built the River Huntspill and the King's Sedgemoor Drain in the first place were wasting their time, and didn’t know what they were doing. As a mere layman I am accused of ignoring the experts, but it is he and his ilk who are disregarding the real experts, not I.  How we got to a state where academics lack the capacity to think is too big a discussion for the scope of this piece, and perhaps I will explore that another time.

Every aspect of our society has in some way been contaminated by the transnational NGO agenda.  At this point, I must take a slight tangent to properly contextualise this phenomenon.  The climate change religion and it's army of NGO priests has its tentacles in just about every area of policy.  Nowhere is it more obvious than in the energy market.  James Delingpole, Christopher Booker and many others, (myself included) have been banging on about the consequences of the Large Combustion Plant Directive for years, which has essentially forced an energy supply gap upon us, quite deliberately, for a number of reasons.

Insomouch as the EU wants a single European energy market and an EU wide super-grid, the driver of this is Co2 reduction.  The ethos behind deliberate shortages is to bring about emergency measures for "demand side management".  This is essentially Orwellian doublespeak for energy rationing through smart-metering, with the overall aim of reducing our carbon footprint. Deliberate shortages are part and parcel of how the EU creates a crisis in order for the EU to supply the solution.  It is what we now know as the "beneficial crisis".

This dynamic comes into play with the flooding in Oxfordshire and Windsor.  These places have flooded before, but these areas are also susceptible to droughts.  There have been submissions in 2002 and 2007 for an extra five reservoirs which got as far as planning, but again were rejected on the basis of on overall EU policy to manage demand, rather than meet supply. (ie make us all go out and buy super efficient washing machines and take communal showers). These could have been used as run off storage for flood prevention/mitigation.

Floods are nothing new but as we become a more densely populated country, our flood management strategy needs to keep up with the times, but has been hobbled by competing agendas, inter-agency bickering and an overall Malthusian EU strategy of "managed retreat". - Something that is worked into the academic curriculum, which perversely balances the needs or wildfowl with our need to eat.  By the same token, they demand we cut down our food miles and produce food locally for "food security", yet in the same breath are happy to write off huge tracts of prime farm land to the sea.

All of this stems from the belief that mankind is destroying the earth and that we have reached our peak as a species and can not be permitted to grow any further.  That is the prevailing idea of our time.  At one time we spawned engineers like Brunel who wanted to open up far reaches of the country (and the world) to the people, and to open up new markets.  Now the engineers we breed are set the task of reversing his work; to ensure we travel less, consume less of what we enjoy, and know that our place in the universe is secondary to wildfowl and badgers.

What we are looking at here is an imposition of global governance at UN and EU level, implemented by the Environment Agency, essentially a policy implementation unit of the EU, which is separate from our own government. Once the media caravan moves on, things will revert to normal, with the EA taking visible remedial action - but only within the constraints of the laws that got us here in the first place. Nothing in policy will be changed, or even up for negotiation.

The EU has assumed competence and legal supremecy over what were perfectly adequate regional authorities, who by contrast knew what they were doing, because their management techniques were tailored to the specific needs of each region, but because the real culprits will not be identified by our lightweight, superficial media, we will be back here next year as the Levels once again give way to the rains.

The individual and diverse problems that brought about these floods, are merely the symptoms of a diseased mindset, which starts in the UN and feeds through to the EU. Until we address the democracy deficit, and the lack of constitutional constraint, we will get nowhere.  What is wrong with the Environment Agency is the same thing that is wrong with every other ministry or quango; government operating to a foreign agenda without transparency, accountability or democratic consent. THAT is your culprit, and if we don't get serious about that, then everything else is just waffle.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

News: UN 'must immediately remove' child abusers says Vatican

UN: Child abusers
The Vatican has said that the UN should "immediately remove" all aid workers who are known or suspected child abusers.  The Vatican watchdog for children's rights denounced the UN for adopting policies which allowed aid agencies and peacekeeping troops to sexually abuse thousands of children.  In a report, it also criticised UN attitudes towards homosexuality, contraception and abortion, by channelling aid and weapons to known Islamist terrorist groups.

The UN responded by saying it would examine the report - but also accused its authors of interference.  A group representing the victims of abuse by aid workers in the Middle East and Africa welcomed the report.  In its findings, the Vatican Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) said the UN should open its files on members of the UN who had "concealed their crimes" so that they could be held accountable by the authorities.

Strikers: Good for them

I never thought I would say this but I wholeheartedly support the Tube strike. Removing ticket offices will not make the tubes cheaper because the bosses and the private sector parasites will pocket the difference. The only direction of travel for fares is upward, meanwhile these cuts are not for our convenience, it's for theirs.

Londoners take for granted the ease of Oyster cards and ticket machines but foreigners and out-of-towners, and people with sight/learning difficulties (and techno DJ's on a massive acid comedown) find those infernal things impossible. Assuming they don't randomly switch themselves off when you get to number 2 in the queue after waiting 15 minutes. At the ticket office I always get served faster, and always get the right ticket. And that reduces queues which is an efficiency in itself. Paddington is often choked and it can be a bewildering experience. If anything, a couple more manned ticket offices would improve matters, and would be a great deal safer. It's only a matter of time before we have a Hillsborough event on the tubes.

I often get the wrong ticket from vending machines because I don't know the tube nomenclature and to the occasional visitor to London, the Tube is poorly signed, and often illogical. It is difficult to see how removing the few remaining humans from the system is likely to improve matters. If Londoners think this will lead to greater efficiencies and reduced ticket costs, then Londoners really are every bit as thick as I always assumed they were. If you actually believe the "reassurances" then you were born yesterday.

This is one example of strike action having the ability to make it cost them more than they "save" with air-headed cuts, and I support that as a principle because this strike is in the public interest. I'm not overly impressed by the short-sighted, petulant whining from mildly inconvenienced Londoners, who think their journey to sit in some tube-lit office to shuffle paper (in the internet age) is soooooo important that they couldn't possibly take a couple of days off. So yes, take a screen-shot now folks, cos this is one libertarian conservative showing solidarity with the workers. You won't see this very often.

Monday 3 February 2014

Can we shoot them yet?

This story has more traction than it deserves.  Not because of the gravity of the offence but because of what it represents: A further tightening of the state noose around the neck of liberty.  Somehow the state seeks the right to intrude on the personal choices of others on a microscopic level, on the basis of some spurious over-hyped findings that pander to pre-existing anti-smoking prejudices.

Not for one moment does anyone stop to ask how big the problem is.  Who doesn't know that smoking is bad for them? Who actually smokes with kids in the car? Is it even a major issue? How will they enforce it?  - and where do we draw the line on perpetual intrusions into our lives, by the state?  But reality has little to do with this. This is more the usual display of politicians showing off their moral probity than anything else, seeking to police every aspect of bad parenting, 

You won't get any argument from me that it's an ugly thing to do to a child, but we cannot start harassing people and fining them just because we disagree with their mostly harmless choices.  The moment we consent to this level of nannying, next will be compulsory inspections in the home, and then it will be dietary inspections and who knows what else from there? This is how tyranny is born. Little by little they salami slice our capacity to live as adults.

What is also lost in this is that we are at critical mass with hectoring by the state. Just last year it was reported that attacks on traffic wardens have rocketed by 400 per cent in some areas of Britain as "furious drivers lash out" after being issued with parking tickets.  You could argue that the traffic wardens are being oversensitive and recording even the vaguest abuse as an "attack", but the fact such news is greeted with cheer and not concern tells you rather a lot:  The public have reached saturation point. 

Everywhere you turn there's a fine or fixed penalty notice - and today we learn via the Daily Mail that "stealth" cameras installed on motorways are now to be used to enforce the 70mph limit, when the vast majority of drivers agree that the 70mph limit on motorways is a stupid anachronism. My own research of late, including an enquiry to the West Yorkshire Chief Inspector, demonstrates the Mail is, as usual, hyperventilating in that the police apply a certain level of discretion in whom they prosecute, but the capability is there, and the temptation to apply the iron fist will overcome them eventually.

But that is in addition to the record numbers of CCTV cameras pointed at us, and now the state is deciding what is acceptable internet viewing. Every single aspect of our lives is being recorded and scrutinised, and justice goes out of the window because rather than facing a magistrate, jury or judge, we are in an era of legal absolutism where a computer decides if you are guilty or not. We have even reached the state where cops and traffic wardens (and soon all public servants) will be wearing cameras on their hats. Is this the society you want to live in? I prefer freedom, warts and all. I've seen the future on our present trajectory and it is a very ugly thing to behold.

If we go down this avenue, people will begin to hate public servants and the police (more than they already do), and the police cannot then secure the co-operation of the public when trying to keep the peace. That is when the covenant between the people and the state is broken and we start seeing a fracturing of society where people no longer call the police and deal with community issues inside their own system of laws. It is already happening. By overreaching its authority the state divorces itself from us and becomes the enemy rather than a protector.

As harmful as that is, we're making all these petty laws that the authorities are more than happy to exploit as a means of revenue collection - to the detriment of enforcing serious crime. People barely bother to report burglary now, nor fraud because nothing will happen. Criminals get a free ride, and the plod then become administrators and revenue collectors for the authorities, rather than public servants. And that's when we will see a serious breakdown in relations between the public and the police. It is already acute and I won't be surprised if people start hurting coppers over things like this - and I wouldn't blame them either.