Defensive gun use in the UK
A grandfather shot his grand-daughter's attacker dead. I wonder how long it will be before he gets taken to court...
Some are disruptive because they are innately unhappy. That is one of the hardest problems to crack, since it has its roots in the family. Some teachers, especially secondary specialists, say militantly that the pastoral role is not what they are paid for. If so, it is critically important that pastoral skills are respected and rewarded in school, and mental health services (scandalously bad for young people) are available outside it. Some tough schools have had remarkable success with soppy-sounding things: quiet rooms, a time-out routine, even aromatherapy.
This need for human thoughtfulness goes down to the smallest details. Some children are disruptive because, frankly, they are ill-nourished. Surveys show that innumerable children go to school without breakfast. Plenty consider a bag of crisps, a tartrazine-orange drink and a Snickers to be lunch. Schools which offer breakfast, or excellent school dinners, or even just take up their right to subsidised milk, report extraordinary leaps in the children’s concentration.
So it’s not all about sin-bins and thug-punishing. If we have accidentally designed a society where schools are in the front line, fighting to civilise the new generation, let’s admit it, fund it, and go for it.
As for "twisted traditions", it is not altogether clear what Mr Blunkett means by that phrase. But he seems to mean at least three things: the defendant's right to trial by jury for serious offences; his right to have each case against him tried on its merits, without reference to his previous convictions; and his right not to be tried a second time on a charge of which he has been acquitted.
These traditions may sound "twisted" to Mr Blunkett, but there is great sense in all of them. There is no room here to rehearse all the arguments in favour of jury trial. Enough to say that the risk that some jurors may be intimidated, and afraid to convict the guilty, is not a good enough reason to abolish a defendant's right to it.
Nor is it fair, except in the most unusual circumstances, that previous convictions should be read out in court before a jury reaches its verdict. Not unnaturally, the police often arrest people precisely because they have previous convictions. They round up the usual suspects.
The prosecution's job is to establish that a defendant has committed a particular crime - not that he is the sort of person who might commit such a crime because he has done so in the past.
The "double jeopardy" rule, under which a defendant cannot be tried twice for the same offence, also makes good sense. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if no verdict was taken to be final, and every criminal file had to be kept open in perpetuity. Imagine how sloppy the police would become in preparing their evidence, knowing that if they did not get their man this time, there would always be another chance.
"The government calls these strikes Scargillite. Well, we knew exactly how to deal with Arthur Scargill. We put the good of the country first instead of trying to appease the Labour Party's financial backers in the unions. We faced up to the threat head on and broke the power of the people the Prime Minister has called wreckers. But it looks like the DPM doesn't have the courage to face down these people, even with the threat of innocent lives being lost. At the very least, I call on the Deputy Prime Minister to give up his archaic, doctrinaire, Scargillite view that you can't cross picket lines and allow our troops to use the modern equipment of the fire brigades. If he refuses to allow this, I say that every life that is lost to fire while this strike goes on is on his hands. I hope the relatives of the victims will forgive him, because I won't, and nor will anyone on these benches."
Top of the list, they sought a demilitarised Europe at peace with itself and the world, an ethical continent that takes a high moral stance against US imperialism. High on the list too was a radical rethink, or complete rejection, of the predatory capitalism the continent now knows. They imagined a Europe that rejected crude market ideology, made institutions fully accountable, put people before profit, and where big business was not allowed to dominate the political or consumer agendas.
There were specifics: Europe, they said, should have open borders, and all people within it should have the right to work and to have a home; it should have a Tobin tax on financial markets and regulation of corporations; there should be no GM foods or pollution; no privati sation of public services; the media should be in the hands of the many not the few; and racism should be driven out.
There was almost complete consensus on three issues: that "neo-liberalism" - the free-market ideas espoused by the IMF and G7 - is a violent political and economic doctrine; that trade with poor countries should be fair; and that one vote every four years given to political parties run by self-serving elites is no way to run modern, complex democracies in a globalised economy.
"Cade: Be brave, then; for your captain is brave, and vows reformation. There shall be in England seven halfpenny loaves sold for a penny; the three-hooped pot shall have ten hoops; and I will make it felony to drink small beer. All the realm shall be in common, and in Cheapside shall my palfrey go to grass; and when I am king, as king I will be--
All: God save your majesty!
Cade: I thank you, good people--there shall be no money; all shall eat and drink on my score; and I will apparel them all in one livery, that they may agree like brothers, and worship me their lord."
It is a matter of simple fact that a large proportion of people in this country, particularly young people, take drugs.
the age-old Franco-German partnership.
Mr Giscard d'Estaing also set out his strong views on what should happen to those countries that fail to ratify the proposed new EU constitution. Speaking to the Kangaroo group, a body that favours more economic integration in Europe, he said non-ratifiers would exclude themselves from the EU, but could have economic ties to the union.
"The probability is that of 25 or 27 member states [after EU enlargement] 23 would accept [the constitution] and two or three will refuse," he said. "We have to abrogate the [EU] treaties that exist. If a country says that it does not like the new treaty, there's no existing structure for them to cling to, they cannot seek refuge in the old agreement.
"We should say: you can maintain an economic role, but you can no longer be in this political system. That will be the consequence of refusal."
He said that such countries would play a similar role to members of the European Free Trade Association, which have a free-trade area with the EU, and cited the micro-state of Liechtenstein, with a population of 30,000, as an example.
The poll results are even more striking when viewed country by country. Hungary emerges as by far the most pro-EU of the 10 aspirants, with 65 percent of those polled saying EU membership is a good thing. But the number is 52 percent in Poland, 43 percent in the Czech Republic, 41 percent in Slovenia, 38 percent in Malta, 35 percent in Estonia and 32 percent in Latvia.
The upside of being completely out of power in Washington is that it requires Democrats to think much more imaginatively about the most important issues facing the country. They've been cast out into the wilderness. The wilderness is where parties are reinvented, reimagined and reengineered. Standing for nothing except political advantage leads, inevitably, to defeat. Standing for something is the road back.
The Democrats, led by Tom Daschle, sold their soul to win this election, and parties that sell their souls to win usually end up losing.
The Ashford conference repeatedly hailed Dutch policy as a great success. In fact, it has been anything but. According to the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment, use of soft drugs among Dutch high school students increased by more than 30% over the past ten years.
‘Drug use has gone up, both cannabis and cocaine’, says Hans Koopmans in Dordrecht. ‘The main problem of liberalisation is that we can’t convince youngsters that drugs, particularly cannabis, are dangerous.
‘The idea that as criminalisation hasn’t worked we should legalise is really very naïve. You will just get many more people addicted. As for reducing drug crime, most addicts who commit crime were doing so before they started on drugs. The link between drugs and crime is not that simple.’
The supplement is comprised of papers presented at a workshop held last year by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Research reported there suggests that marijuana use has many subtle effects on the body's major systems, including temporary impairment of cognitive function, increased heart rate, increased prevalence of chronic cough and acute bronchitis, lower sperm count, and increased neurobehavioral abnormalities for children exposed in utero.
Conclusive proof, once and for all, that Iain Duncan Smith is simply not up to the job. His 'personal statement' this morning had all the right ingredients save for the only one which mattered. His message was fine, as far as it went - 'unite or die'. I am the man you elected, stop squabbling, blah blah blah. But there is no clearer way of demonstrating that you are not in charge than standing before a lectern insisting that you are in charge. And as if that wasn't bad enough, to assemble the nation's press, read a statement for three minutes, and then walk off without taking a single question looks, and is, simply shameful.
The message which has to be taken from this morning's statement is simple: I am not in charge, and I am afraid to be questioned.
Bye bye, Mr IDS. You are a decent man. But you are simply not up to it.
And young voters are much less statist. Fully 61 percent favor individual investment accounts in Social Security, while 67 percent of the elderly are opposed. Similarly, 58 percent of gen X favor school vouchers, while 54 percent of the elderly are opposed.
Inquiries can, relatively easily, pinpoint what went wrong, and who was to blame. But there is also a deeper problem. For it stretches credibility to accept that so many people involved in this case failed so badly, and so repeatedly, in doing their jobs. There was, surely, another factor at work. Cock-up is almost always a more likely explanation than conspiracy, but cock-up will not do this time. It is plain that someone, or some group, wanted to see Paul Burrell behind bars for reasons that are still unclear.
Were it not for the judge, Mrs Justice Rafferty, none of this would have emerged, and Mr Burrell might still be on his way to prison. The prosecution was informed last Monday of Mr Burrell's pivotal audience with the Queen, in which he told her he had various items in safe keeping. But they did not disclose it to the defence until forced to by the judge at the end of the week. Why not?
It is not the world slowdown that has caused this performance collapse, but the interaction of entirely self-inflicted wounds: over-regulated labour markets, a relentless rise in the government share of the economy, a growing tax burden, regulation out of every orifice and a desperate rearguard action against all and every attempt to dismantle state aid and subsidies. The same clique that greeted the bursting of America’s new economy bubble as proof of the flawed Anglo-Saxon model is the same one that, now their own economy has fallen into a far deeper slowdown than that in the US, turns to blaming US policymakers for not doing enough to pull the rest of the world including the EU out of the mire. To listen to Europe’s political elite is to hear the pathetic cry of the bankrupt that someone else spent all the money. As for Germany, the powerhouse of the 1950s and 1960s has long given way to lethargy and laziness. Reds and Greens attack what is left of a once proud enterprise culture. They declaim their country in the Bundesrat like latter-day Tom Paines. But truly, it is they who pity the plumage and forget the dying bird.
Despite all this it has long been the belief of EU apologists in Britain that if only we engaged "at the centre of Europe" we would "win the argument" and slow the drive to ever closer union and ever greater centralism. But this is to ignore the fact that there are large sections of opinion in continental Europe that do not share the political and economic attitudes of the Anglo Saxon world one iota. Indeed, not even in the disintegration of the Growth and Stability Pact is there much cause for British reformists to cheer. It was Prodi no less, who repeated his call last week for "a single economic government for all countries that share the same money", with more power to the Commission to enforce a Stability Pact duly doctored to his liking.
This call was echoed by members of the EU’s latest triumph of hope over experience, the Convention on the Future of Europe, whose economic committee called for the introduction of qualified majority voting on tax harmonisation and for strengthened economic co-ordination between the member states.
As the economist Stephen Lewis eloquently argues: "In the circumstances it is questionable whether UK ambitions in the EU are realistic."
Dear Mr Duff
Your letter to The Times of October 2nd in response to my earlier published letter on the 'exit clause' and your proposals for the process involved in UK secession from the EU, referred to your proposal for "a novel second
class associate membership".
As I find this a most interesting concept, I would like to hear from you the precise processes you envisage involved if the United Kingdom should wish to accept this grade of UK membership of the European Union.
I would further welcome your observations regarding the statement contained in the 1975 pamphlet Britain's New Deal in Europe Fact 3 "The British Parliament in Westminster retains the right to repeal the Act which took us into the Market on January 1, 1973. Thus our continued membership will depend on the continuing assent of Parliament" (my italics & bold type) Is it your intention that your proposals for the 'exit clause' regarding the UK leaving the EU, disregards this statement made by the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson? Do you disregard the principle that no government is bound by Acts passed by previous governments?
My understanding of your proposal is that our continued membership of the EU requires the backing of three-quarters of the Council of Ministers, in addition to two thirds of the European Parliament and ratification by the
parliaments of every other single member state. Such a proposal if approved, would appear contrary to the assurance that Harold Wilson gave the people of the United Kingdom in 1975. Do you agree or disagree?
I welcome your comments regarding your proposals for my further consideration and understanding.
Daer Mr Randall
Thank you for your letter of 4 October.
I enclose for your interest a copy of my draft constitution which I hope you will set the question of secession and of associate membership of the European Union in the wider context.
As for Harold Wilson, I never believed him at the time of the 1975 referendum and therefore need not begin to do so retrospectively.
That no one UK Parliament can bind its successor is a rather worn cliche. Our commitment to the European Union is as permanent as one could ever envisage. As you know, EU law has supremacy over national law as the (very wide) competences of the EU are concerned. And there is no graceful way of exiting the Union.
It would always be possible for a Westminster Parliament to renege on its Treaty obligations,of course, but I hope you are not advocating that the British break their word.
Whether Mr Howells is right about the Turner, however, is not the point. As a junior minister at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, he is one of the few people in the country who is not entitled to air his opinions about art. Even if the Turner Prize were paid for by the taxpayer, rather than sponsored by Channel 4, as it is, Mr Howells would still be trampling all over the principle on which state subsidies for the arts have been based ever since Keynes created the Arts Council in 1946: that the Government be kept at "arm's length" from decisions about how the subsidies should be spent.
Indeed, it would be better to abandon state sponsorship altogether than to allow governments to control culture. Such power corrupts even in the hands of a figure of real distinction, such as de Gaulle's culture minister Andre Malraux, let alone a Howells. Having studied art in the 1960s, Mr Howells owes allegiance to Henry Moore, Jackson Pollock and Francis Bacon - all of whom would have been damned by the culture ministers of their day. Just about the only thing to be said for Turner entries like Fiona Banner's Arsewoman in Wonderland is that they lack the imprimatur of Kim "Il-sung" Howells.
The survey of high school seniors showed that, for those who report attending church at least weekly:
43 percent said they had never smoked a cigarette.
49 percent said they had never gotten drunk.
55 percent said they never go to bars.
70 percent said they had never tried marijuana.
72 percent said they never have received a traffic ticket.
76 percent had not shoplifted in the past year.
48 percent said they had not been truant in the past year.
82 percent said they had never been suspended or expelled.
The same group of students were more likely to have parents who limited the amount of time they can go out with their friends on school nights, the survey showed. They are also less likely to argue with their parents, and more likely to participate regularly in both volunteer work and athletics or exercise.
I suspect that the failure to come up with a constitution which would improve the democratic legitimacy of Europe has much more to do with the absence of a European “demos”, than with the selfishness and cynicism of European bureaucrats and politicians. That is why the idea of transferring real power to the European Parliament has so little support anywhere in Europe, while direct election of a European president is dismissed as absurd.
But if there is really no such thing as a European political consciousness, if pan-European political parties are impossible, if an elected president is inconceivable – and if such manifestations of democracy become even more fantastical as Europe continues its eastward enlargement — can the Union’s past successes justify further transfers of sovereignty from the democratic nations of Europe to the bureaucratic centre? That is the crucial question for the Constitutional Convention to answer. So far, there has been deafening silence.
Even if Mr Duncan Smith were Pericles and Churchill and Gladstone rolled into one, he could not have sorted out in 13 months the mess that has accumulated for nearly 15 years. His party needs a huge collective effort of self-discipline to think about what is wrong with Blair's Britain and what they can offer instead. If they conclude that the answer is another leadership contest, they are mad.
Flores recognized the world would soon be questioning his motives, and in his letter he sought to debunk some theories he expected people will float.
"To the sociologist, it wasn't the Maryland sniper," he wrote. "I have been thinking about this for awhile."
"To the psychiatrist," he wrote, "it's not about unresolved childhood issues. It is not about anger because I don't feel anything right now."
Addressing Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman, he said the gun control debate isn't relevant. "A waiting period or owner registration would not have stopped me. I have a concealed carry permit but I have never brought a gun to the University, (until now)."
Although Flores said his rampage wasn't about revenge, in the end he tried to justify Monday's murders as just deserts for an uncaring university.
"The University is filled with too many people who are filled with hubris. They feel untouchable. Students are not given respect nor regard."
Flores' letter underscores a key personality trait that he shared with others who have committed similar crimes, said forensic psychologist Paul S.D. Berg. The trait: narcissism.
"Look how self-indulgent this is," Berg said Tuesday night, after passages of the letter were read to him. "Everything is about 'me.' "
It never takes many links in a chain of reasoning to get from their smooth and raw magenta tongues to the kind of family breakdown favored by a certain ideology of human relations, encouraged by our laws and fiscal system, and made viable by welfare payments. It is the breakdown of the family structure—a breakdown so complete that mothers do not consider it part of their duty to feed their own children once they have reached the age at which they can forage for themselves in a refrigerator—that promotes modern malnutrition in Britain. Such malnutrition, according to the public health establishment, now affects millions of British households. And it is hardly surprising if young people who have not learned to socialize within the walls of their own homes, who have not learned even the minimal social disciplines required by people who eat together, should be completely antisocial in other respects.
One of the things British prisons could usefully do, therefore, but do not even attempt, is to teach young men how to eat in a social fashion. Instead, they reinforce the pattern of solipsistic consumption by making prisoners take their food back to their cells, where they eat it in the same solitary and furtive fashion as they masturbate.
As to whether the malnutrition consequent upon a profoundly asocial way of life itself contributes to antisocial behavior, by affecting the brain and hence the capacity of the malnourished person to make reasonable choices, only future research will prove. I personally do not find the idea inherently improbable.
About two-thirds of these malnourished young men take drugs, upon which they spend sums of money that, however obtained, would secure them nightly banquets. The drugs they take suppress their appetite: the nausea induced by heroin inhibits the desire to eat, while cocaine and its derivatives suppress it altogether. The prostitutes who stand on the street corners not far from where I live—they work a shift system and commute in from a nearby town in buses chartered by their pimps—are likewise grossly malnourished (they often end up in my hospital), and for the same reason. You’d think famine were stalking the land.
Not all the malnourished are drug-takers, however. It is when you inquire into eating habits, not just recent but throughout entire lifetimes, that all this malnutrition begins to make sense. The trail is a short one between modern malnutrition and modern family and sexual relations.
The existence of malnutrition in the midst of plenty has not entirely escaped either the intelligentsia or the government, which of course is proposing measures to combat it: but, as usual, neither pols nor pundits wish to look the problem in the face or make the obvious connections. For them, the real and most pressing question raised by any social problem is: “How do I appear concerned and compassionate to all my friends, colleagues, and peers?” Needless to say, the first imperative is to avoid any hint of blaming the victim by examining the bad choices that he makes. It is not even permissible to look at the reasons for those choices, since by definition victims are victims and therefore not responsible for their acts, unlike the relatively small class of human beings who are not victims. One might extend La Rochefoucauld’s famous maxim that neither the sun nor death can be stared at for long, by saying that no member of the modern liberal intelligentsia can stare at a social problem for very long. He feels the need to retreat into impersonal abstractions, into structures or alleged structures over which the victim has no control. And out of this need to avoid the rawness of reality he spins utopian schemes of social engineering.
Moreover, unlike the people who spoke so fluently of the food deserts, I had, in the course of my medical duties, visited many homes in the area. The only homes in which there were ever any signs of genuine cookery and of eating as a social activity, where families discussed the topics of daily life and affirmed their bonds to one another, were those of the Indian immigrants. In white and black homes, cookery meant (at its best) re-heating in a microwave oven, and there was no table round which people could sit together to eat the re-heated food. Meals here were solitary, poor, nasty, British, and short.
The Indian immigrants and their descendants inherited a far better and more elaborate cuisine than the native British, of course, but this is not a sufficient explanation of their willingness still to buy fresh food and to cook it: they continue to cook because they still live in families, and cookery is a socially motivated art. Even among Indian heroin addicts (principally Muslim), the kind of malnutrition I have described is rare, because they do not yet live in the solipsistic isolation of their white counterparts, who live alone, even when there are other people inhabiting the house or apartment in which they themselves live. Drug addiction is thus a necessary condition for much of the malnutrition that I see, but not sufficient.
The Treasury Department is weighing proposals for a historic overhaul of the US tax code, including scrapping the current income tax and replacing it with something simpler. On the table are a range of familiar and not-so-familiar options, including a European-style, value-added tax, a national sales tax and a flat income tax. Officials also are mulling changes in the way the U.S. taxes multinational companies on their overseas income." Treasury officials say the decision to proceed with any major changes likely will take months of further study and approval from President Bush. Any proposals would be scrutinized for their impact on budget deficits and would prompt questions about their fairness to specific groups. In the end, an overhaul proposal likely would become an issue in the 2004 presidential election.
The union would have "legal personality", with the power to sign treaties and take a seat on international bodies such as the United Nations.
Re a single European seat in the UN -- there is a precedent for dual representation, although the Euros may not like the analogy: Ukraine and Belarus were both "represented" with their own seats in the UN from the start even though they were also "represented" by the USSR as well. Of course the other republics were not "represented" individually. But the whole thing is a farce: nobody in those nations was represented no matter how many seats they held.
I see George Will is gone capitulationist today in the Post; advocating a single European Security Council seat for Europe. Perhaps that threat would get some Brits moving at last. Ironic that the UK can veto the whole UN but soon won't be able to veto the EU.
His present and your pains we thank you for:
When we have matched our rackets to these balls,
We will in France, by God's grace, play a set
Shall strike his father's crown into the hazard.
M Chirac, who strongly defends the policy because France is the chief beneficiary, reportedly told Mr Blair: "You have been very rude and I have never been spoken to like this before."
Dear Mr. Murray;
I found your article without value; in particular, giving play to Clark Chapman of the Southwest Research Institute and Alan Harris
of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for their less than insightful insights tells me that you are probably a skeptic and probably a member of MENSA. If you still want to drop names, do it when you are alone - not on the Internet!
BTW, my definition of a skeptic is one who believes in nothing, being fascinated by their own intellect. Sad!
Anthony J. Sanner
Fair Oaks, CA US
This is a rough, rough sketch of what I'd like to see on the footprint of the twin towers. Two towers within an open cage frame. The new towers would be no higher than the floors which hit the twin towers, so one would be about 100 stories and one would be about 80 stories. The new towers' footprint would be about one to three feet smaller than the old twin towers so that they fit within the footprint leaving space for a encircling reflecting pool and the open cage frame. This frame would be exactly the dimensions of the old twin towers encasing the buildings within and extending to the height of the old towers, like benevolent ghosts enveloping a new home. The frame would be illuminated at night from within and lights on the top of the new buildings would have continue the illumination to the sky. The rest of the 16 acres can be developed as needed.
The central premise of the Blairite approach to education has been the centralisation of decision-making in Whitehall. This policy followed a path begun by the previous Conservative government. To appreciate why successive governments thought it imperative to take power from individual schools and teachers, it is necessary to recall how remote much classroom practice had become from any traditional - or even rational - understanding of the function of education.
Teaching methodology and curriculum content were in the hands of an interlocking network of teacher-training establishments, local education authorities and teaching unions that was accountable to no one outside its own ideological circles. The protests of parents and employers made government action seem inescapable.
The Thatcher government proposed a "core curriculum" and "pencil and paper" tests to ensure that children would be equipped with basic skills. Taken over by educational vested interests, this transmogrified into a monolithic national curriculum. Tony Blair, having adopted educational standards as his personal crusade, then pursued this notion of government diktat to its logical conclusion.
My favourite test of whether someone is really "New Labour" in their hearts is to ask them (when no-one's listening of course) if Margaret Thatcher was right to defeat the miners.
The true New Labourite - and there aren't that many - will confess that without that happening, the Blairite project would never have been born.
That's what they're getting at when they talk of these strikes being "Scargillite".
It appears the former teacher has told the prime minister she felt comfortable in her previous role as schools minister under then Education Secretary David Blunkett but found the step up to cabinet rank too much.
David Milliband had an unfortunate encounter this week as he toured the studios justifying the Government’s behaviour in the A-level fiasco and the sacking of exams watchdog chief Sir William Stubbs.
Enroute to one he spied a young woman with a cute baby. Ever the politician, he walked over and beamed “Oh look there’s a little voter.” “Do you know who I am?” came a cold reply from the mother, “I am Sir William Stubbs’ daughter.”
The minister then spent the rest of the day trying to avoid any similar encounters by refusing to appear in the same studio as Sir William.
London Metro 18 October 2002.
On 9 September 2002, Blunkett established an advisory group to set 'life in the United Kingdom' naturalisation exams for immigrants wishing to become British citizens. The group has also been given the remit of designing a naturalisation ceremony. Professor Bernard Crick, who is chairing the committee, says Prince Charles told him the position was a 'poisoned chalice' - probably one of His Royal Highness' more sensible judgements.
Many of the 'common values' Crick floated in a Sunday Times article on the subject are based on a mythical notion of Britishness, rather than one that actually exists. 'I suppose', he said, without much conviction, 'this is a democratic country that values freedom and rights, toleration, plain speaking, care and compassion for others, truth telling, openness, and the giving of good reasons in public…life and debate' .
Freedom and rights? British governments over the past few years have been busily eroding civil liberties, including the right to silence and the right to free association - and they faced little dissent in the process. Giving good reasons in public debate? From the Commons to the comment pages, the evidence suggests that the level of reasoned public debate is at an historic low. The rest of Crick's values are the vague components of good character, which it would be hard to argue were more prevalent among the British than any other nation.
When not telling fibs about British truth-telling, Crick resorted to tautology: 'It seems to me that we become British by living in Britain and treating one another as British', he said. Yes…and?
Crick also wrote about giving immigrants lessons in paying bills, and telling them how post offices, banks and courts work. It is nice of the British government to provide new arrivals with a Rough Guide to getting about in Britain, but this is hardly the point. It's hard to believe that all this angst about assimilation stems from immigrants' problems with posting letters or paying bills - which are technical aspects of life in a new country that are not very hard to pick up.
... [On Blunkett's idea that immigrant parents speaking English at home would help to 'overcome the schizophrenia which bedevils generational relationships']. The idea that English-speaking ability of their parents has anything to do with youths' lack of sense of belonging in British society is simply absurd. These are second- or third-generation immigrants, who were born and brought up in Britain. It is the absence of values and sources of cohesion in mainstream British society that underlies their lack of 'shared participation' - not their parents' cultural intransigence.
In response to several enquiries from outside Ireland for a summary account of why Irish voters voted Yes last Saturday to exactly the same Nice Treaty as they rejected last year, I give below for your information the principal reasons as my colleagues and I see them.
There were two major differences between Ireland's Nice Two referendum and Nice One.
(1) In Nice Two, in contrast to Nice One, there was no public money behind the No-side arguments, because of the removal of this function from the neutral statutory Referendum Commission last December. This body had been given large sums of public money in Nice One to put the Yes-side and No-side cases. That particularly helped the No-side, as they are the poorer of the two. The fact that there was substantial public money behind the Yes-side and No-side arguments in Nice One also meant that private interests did not bother advertising on that occasion. In Nice Two by contrast,the removal of its Yes/No-argument function from the Referendum Commission cleared a free field for private advertising. This was in a ratio of approximately 20 to 1 in favour of the Yes. Thus, for example, the Yes-side posters were mostly put up by private companies that were paid so many euros per poster to do so, whereas the No-side posters were put up by volunteers.
(2) The change in the referendum question: The question the Irish people were asked to vote on in Nice Two was essentially a trick question. There was an extra clause in the contitutional amendment in Nice Two compared with Nice One. This extra clause said that Ireland could not join an EU defence pact without holding a referendum to change its Constitution.This had nothing to do with the Treaty of Nice and was quite irrelevant to the Treaty's ratification. It was inserted as a third clause in addition to the the two clauses that were needed to ratify Nice, and all three had to be voted on as one. This extra clause, if it were to be put to the people at all, should properly have been put as a separate referendum proposition, on which people could vote separately. Instead people voted last Saturday on a three-clause amendment which contained two different joined propositions, to which only one answer could be given, a Yes or a No.
This trick question in Nice Two meant also that the Referendum Commission's other main function, to inform citizens what the referendum was about - for which it was given double the budget of last year (viz. 4.5 million euros) - was inherently confusing, and was biased significantly towards the Yes side. In the event, the Referendum Commission, which was the principal aid to the No side in Nice One, was objectively of significant help to the Yes-side in Nice Two.
These two changes to the basic referendum rules enabled the Irish Government and its allies successfully to impose their campaign agenda in Nice Two. They succeeded in representing Nice Two as a vote for or against "Jobs and Growth," "EU Enlargement," or "Putting Neutrality into the Irish Constitution" - which were largely irrelevant to the real issue. Most Yes-side voters voted in effect for these desirable things, thinking that they were voting on the Treaty of Nice, but without being aware of the actual content of the treaty, which had little or nothing to do with these matters.
The Yes-side's success in imposing its agenda in the last two weeks of the referendum campaign, deriving mainly from the above two factors, was helped by appeals for a Yes vote from the 10 Prime Ministers of the Applicant countries, by the likes of Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa making similar appeals, by the ambassadors of the Applicant coutries writing a Yes-side letter to the Irish Times, by the Czech and Polish ambassadors actively campaigning for a Yes, by the Irish Catholic Hierarchy positively supporting the Yes side, which they had never done in previous EU-related referendums, and by a number of other factors that variously affected the Yes-side and No-side votes. But in our judgement they were of small significance compared to the two factors mentioned.
The National Platform is of the view that were it not for the above two changes in Nice Two as compared to Nice One, the No side could have won the 19 October referendum. As it was, the 37% No vote - much the same as last year's No - was very creditable in the circumstances. That vote remains as a strong block to oppose the EU State Constitutional Treaty that is already being prepared for 2004/2005.
PS. Below is an information note on the Nice Two constitutional amendment which has been prepared in response to various queries from abroad. Please feel free to use it or adapt it as you see fit, without need of acknowledgement, if you or your organisation should receive similar queries.
IRELAND'S CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO RATIFY THE TREATY OF NICE: aninformation note
22 October 2002
Irish referendums are forms of direct legislation, like in Switzerland and various other countries, and many states of the USA. The citizens of the Republic of Ireland are legislating to amend the Constitution of their State, which they originally adopted in 1937 and "gave to themselves" by referendum, to use the words of the Constitution's preamble.
Irish referendums are therefore constitutionally different from referendums in the United Kingdom,for example, which are advisory in character, for sovereignty in the UK is regarded as resting with the Crown in Parliament, not with the people.
The Irish Parliament(Dáil) puts a Bill before the people, which they then legislate on. In EU-related referendums Irish citizens are legislating to hand over sovereignty - i.e. legislative,executive and judicial power - to the EU institutions in the areas covered by the EU Treaty in question. This only the people themselves can do, as they are the repositories of sovereignty under the Irish Constitution. This important principle that EU treaties entailing the surrender of sovereignty must be ratified by referendum in the Republic,rather than by parliamentary majority vote, was established by the Irish Supreme Court in the 1987 Crotty case.
So on Saturday last, 19 October, the Republic's citizens were legislating on the 26th Amendment of the Constitution Bill, and the question on the ballot paper was: Do you approve of the 26th Amendment of the Constitution Bill? Citizens vote Yes or No to that. If they vote Yes, the Bill becomes an Act when signed by the President, and the Constitution is consequently amended - in this case permitting the Irish State to ratify the Treaty of Nice.
In every Irish polling booth there was legally required to be a prominent notice on the wall stating what the 26th Amendment to the Constitution Bill says, so that people will know what their vote means. The campaign leading up to the referendum should also have served to make them well aware of that.
The text of the constitutional amendment set out in the Bill is given below. One should note that in the Nice Treaty Re-run referendum, in contrast to the Nice One referendum last year, there are two separate joined propositions to which only one answer was permitted. The third clause has no legal connection with the first two, so it was a trick question to a degree. The Nice Two amendment was different in that respect from all previous Irish constitutional amendments.
The third clause dealing with a referendum on a hypothetical EU defence pact - which had nothing to do with ratifying the Treaty of Nice - should properly have been put as a separate constitutional amendment from the first two clauses. But they were lumped together as two different joined propositions, to which only one answer could be given. This was part of the Irish Government's trickery in seeking to overturn last year's democratic rejection of the Nice Treaty and to get the Treaty through this time.
Below is the constitutional amendment set out in the 26th Amendment of the Constitution Bill. It consists of three clauses that constitute one amendment. The three clauses add three subsections to Article 29 of the Constitution:-
- To insert in the Constitution a proposed new subsection: Article 29.4.7:
"The State may ratify the Treaty of Nice amending the Treaty on European Union, the Treaties establishing the European Communities and certain related Acts signed at Nice on the 26th day of February, 2001."
(This has the effect of ratifying the Treaty of Nice)
- To insert in the Constitution a proposed new subsection:Article 29.4.8
"The State may exercise the options or discretions provided by or under Articles 1.6, 1.9, 1.11, 1.12, 1.13 and 2.1 of the Treaty referred to in subsection 7 of this section but any such exercise shall be subject to the prior approval of both houses of the Oireachtas."
(This relates to the enhanced co-operation provisions of the Treaty.)
- To insert in the Constitution a proposed new subsection:29.4.9
"The State shall not adopt a decision taken by the European Council to establish a common defence pursuant to Article 1.2 of the Treaty referred to in subsection 7 of this section where that common defence would include the State."
This involves a constitutional prohibition on Ireland joining an EU common defence, although it does not prevent the other EU states forming such a defence pact among themselves if they should wish to do so.