4 jobs for Bob and 2 blows for Labour

…are the results. Laptop perched on knee in bathroom watching News 24 via wireless…a new pemutation of my early morning election result watching. BBC describe Bromley as “extremely close”:

Bromley: Tories: 11,621; LibDems 10,988, 633 majority. Well done Team!!!

Labour 4th in Bromley and C.

Bob ‘personally disappointed’ and refused to thank all candidates: ‘vicious…unpleasant…under-handed…cynical…personal abuse’…not bitter then!

“You smell” is personal abuse. “You’ve got three jobs and want a fourth”, isn’t.

US Supreme Court says Guantanemo tribunals are illegal

At long last the US Supreme Court has ruled, as reported by the BBC, that the trial of Guantanemo detainees by military tribunal is illegal. George Bush had said that, in his “judgement”, tribunals should be used and some had started.

This ruling is cause for great celebration in my view. However, I am not greatly surprised. The whole Gauntanemo/tribunal idea was a stupid idea from a stupid President. That’s being charitable. Most people would describe the idea as “fascist”.

But we have spent three years getting to this point while the detainees have been disgustingly mistreated and, in a few cases, died. The episode leaves a dark stain on the reputation of the United States.

Please see my previous posts on this subject:

“Guantanemo – Tinky Winky to decide?”
“Guantanemo – Pass the sickbag, Alice”

Battle of the Somme – Lest we forget

I once looked up a few facts about the Battle of the Somme when replying to a letter in the press.

The 90th anniversary of the battle is coming up on Saturday.

The first thing, of which my fact-checking reminded me, is how long the battle was. Many people think it took just a day or a few days.

In fact it went on for four and a half months.

It is difficult to visualise 1.2 million people.

It helps to imagine the present day populations of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen put together. Living in those cities today there are a little over 1.2 million people.

That’s how many people were killed at the Battle of the Somme.

Then you have to remember the additional hundreds of thousands maimed, injured or traumatised for life. And the hundreds of thousands who saw their friends killed and often lived with their bodies alongside them for quite a while.

The sheer horror of day-to-day life in the trenches can only be imagined.

And yet, all this, together with the equally horrifying rest of the First World War, was sparked off due to a car taking a wrong turn in Sarejevo and a set of alliances which set cousin against cousin (in the case of George V versus Kaiser Bill).

The whole thing was utter madness. Life in the trenches was hell on earth.

I am pleased to see that British schol children often visit the site of the First World war battles nowadays. This is vital. Anyone who has learned about even a thousandth of the horror of the First World War is unlikely to want to support a war in a hurry.

Has Cameron done a Hague?

Who gives a proverbial what vintage of sour grapes Charles Clarke is pouring out? I can hardly contain myself at the vitriol being tossed over David Cameron’s Bill of Rights “idea”. I am starting to lose count of the vast spectrum of notables who have slammed it: Lord Tebbit, Mike Mansfield QC, Lord Carlile QC, Sir Menzies Campbell QC, Shami Chakrabarti, Ken Clarke…an amazing selection of critics from all points of the political compass. But Mrs Dale says that Helena Kennedy warmed to the idea, so that’s alright then.

With William Hague I think we got about a month, when he became Tory leader, in which he was trying to cuddle up to the liberal centre. Then he started going off on a familiar right-wing populist tangent, supporting the “bash a burglar” campaign and any other passing bandwaggons. IDS tried the soft liberal approach for five minutes and Michael Howard managed a few weeks. With David Cameron, admittedly, it has lasted about six months. Quite some time, then.

DC has even set up his own “I am a liberal conservative…I like LibDems – especially if they are stupid enough to fall for my PR rubbish…I ate muesli once…I have been known to read the Guardian…I wore sandals at least once when my shoe chauffeur’s car’s big end went” web site.

Nice try, Dave.

But now he seems to be having his “Hague/IDS/Howard right-wing pigeons finally coming home to defecate on the old liberal credentials” moment.

Dave Chameleon’s Bill of Rights idea seems to be geared to a tabloid agenda and oh….what a surprise…I am dumbstruck…guess who gave it 110%+VAT approval this morning? Three guesses? Oh you guessed it, how disappointing. Indeed, it was The Currant Bun. Got it in one, Sun.

Steve Bell’s cartoon in the Guardian captured it. This is David Cameron chasing the tabloid populist right-wing agenda … the same agenda that Hague chased with all his populist nonsense which turned out to be unpopular.

I left out one name from the queue of people wanting to criticise the Cameron idea. Dominic Lawson. He has something of a Tory pedigree, to put it mildly. Yet, in the Independent today he took the knife to the Cameroonian idea with forensic skill. I particularly liked his line:

“In what sense could a “British” right to free speech, property or a private life be defined in a way which smelt unmistakeably of Big Ben, county cricket and the last night of the Proms?”

(Reminiscent of ‘old maids cycling to Holy Communion’, in fact – but let’s not raise too many Tory ghosts at once)

As with many of the critics, Lawson focusses on Cameron’s wish to define “responsibilities” as well as rights: “There is only one responsibility” he says,”which is to obey the law.” Of which there are many, he reminds us.

While we can at last rejoice that Cameron has got “off our turf”, we should be cautious. He does have the support of Rebekka Wade (but, then, little Willy Hague also had the Sun’s editor’s support much of the time, especially when he was bashing burglars). Also, the Guardian leader rightly cautions that Cameron has been very careful not to propose reneging on the European Charter of Human Rights, only scrapping the Human Rights Act.

Presumably, an accolyte reminded Dave the Rave that the ECHR was Churchill’s idea (and that Churchill was known to be occasionally Conservative) as DC hastily scrawled this latest ‘policy’ on the back of the envelope containing his apology to Lady Thatcher for appearing on “Friday Night with Jonathan Woss”.

Meet Britain's other black farmer

First, the Guardian diary, picked up on the fact that Tory PPC Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones is not the only black farmer in the country, as claimed. Now, G2 has actually visited the other black farmer in England. He is David Mwanaka. In today’s supplement there is a wonderful photograph of him with his family, plus a detailed interview and article by Laura Smith.

Joy all round! And to think all this started with a simple Google search!

Meet Britain’s other black farmer

First, the Guardian diary, picked up on the fact that Tory PPC Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones is not the only black farmer in the country, as claimed. Now, G2 has actually visited the other black farmer in England. He is David Mwanaka. In today’s supplement there is a wonderful photograph of him with his family, plus a detailed interview and article by Laura Smith.

Joy all round! And to think all this started with a simple Google search!

"Complete nonsense" – Mike Mansfield QC on Cameron's "Bill of Rights" idea

I think I will start a little file collecting together lawyers’ comments about Cameron’s “Bill of Rights” idea (calling it a ‘plan’ or a ‘proposal’ is somewhat over-egging it).

If we put aside the thunderous criticism from Lords Falconer, Goldsmith and Carlile plus Sir Menzies Campbell, due to their current or past party affiliations, we are still left with some pretty strong condemnation from veteran Human Rights lawyer, Mike Mansfield QC, who described the idea as “complete nonsense” and said:

“How is it (the HRA) hindering the investigation and prosecution of crime? No examples whatsoever. It certainly isn’t doing that in relation to terrorism or terrorist cases…I’m afraid it’s totally misconceived and it’s tabloid driven.”

You can see the relevant BBC News article here.