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british sea power - The Villages

Date: 2007-01-13 00:23
Subject: british sea power
Security: Public
Location:the little room with all the boxes
Mood:it's been one of those weeksit's been one of those weeks
Music:tori amos
I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm reading the subtext incorrectly, but didn't Tony Blair (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6254253.stm) actually mean that we have to keep intervening overseas in order to remain a world power? That what makes us great is that we can still reach out with the mighty smiting British fist? Otherwise we're just like Germany, which only gets involved when it's absolutely necessary? Or worse, like France? Not sure I like that view of our role in the world. I really think Blair has developed a taste for gunboat diplomacy; I believe he's taken us to war more than any other Prime Minister, and if memory serves more than any American President in history. If that's how he measures our standing in the world, I'm not sure I want any part of it.
I feel a political rant coming on.
I would not have liked to have been in a room with John Reid this week. I have been in a room with John Reid when he wasn't upset about something and he still scared the living daylights out of me. I understand that in private he's rather charming and funny, but speaking personally that seems unlikely.
For the uninitiated, the latest faux pas to come out of the Home Office involves Britons who have committed crimes abroad and then returned to this country. The normal procedure is for details of their crimes to be entered in the Police National Database so that police forces around the country can keep an eye on them, but now it seems that the details of several hundred were not. This includes a number of people convicted overseas of murder, rape and paedophile crimes. Because they weren't entered into the database, the fear is that they could now be in positions which bring them into contact with vulnerable people such as children. John Reid came into the post of Home Secretary some months ago saying that the Home Office was `not fit for purpose' and implying that he was exactly the humourless Glasgow bruiser to sort it out. We can only imagine the scene when he discovered that he had inherited yet another cockup. We can only imagine it because I don't suppose it was pretty to watch.
Blair's explanation of the cockup at Prime Minister's Questions this week simply won't wash, I'm afraid. He stood up and basically blamed the whole thing on the countries where the crimes had been committed, saying it was up to them to pass dossiers on the criminals on to us, which - because they're foreign and not, you know, as good as us - they didn't do.
No one seems to have commented on this particularly sucky act of trying to sleaze out from under a bureaucratic snafu by blaming Johnny Foreigner. Was the Prime Minister trying to kid us that British nationals convicted of serious crimes overseas don't come to the attention of the British Embassy in that particular country? And that those embassies don't report back? And that those reports don't wind up, eventually, at the Home Office? The fault, it seems to me, isn't with foreign law enforcement agencies but with the system here, and blaming those agencies just seems like the worst kind of passing the buck and Blair ought to be ashamed of himself.

I know I'm going to get a slapping for this, but I'm afraid I'm on Ruth Kelly's side.
Once again, for those on the other side of the Village Pond, Ruth Kelly is a government minister who was not so long ago Minister of Education. She recently decided to take her son, who is dyslexic, out of his local school and send him to a private school which she believes will fulfill his special educational needs. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6240165.stm) This was news because New Labour is supposed to support state schools and most if not all of the state schools in Ruth Kelly's area are said to have pretty good provision for chldren with special needs, and the idea of a Labour minister sending her child to a private school is supposed to be anathema. It's basically an ideological thing.
Now, you'd have to be out of your mind to describe me as a friend of Ruth Kelly or anyone in this gang of maniacs who are supposed to be leading our country, but in this case I think she's right. I know her neighbouring state schools are supposed to be good in this area, but she took a decision based on what was right for her child. She's not stupid; she ran the numbers and she knew she'd have media problems, and she abandoned ideology to make sure that her son got the best education that his needs required. What? Was she going to hew to the ideological line and send him to a school where he wouldn't get the right care? Come on. Personally, she made the decision I would have made. You do the best you can for your kids, everything else gets sidelined. I was going to say it took balls to do that, but really it's a no-brainer, and I'm annoyed that it became, briefly, a stick for the media to beat the government with.
I'm building up a head of steam for a rant about the media, but it's late and hutch needs his bed and he has also taken strong drink this evening, so stay tuned.


ECM Mom, for some reason my provider is having trouble getting emails to you; my last got bounced back as undeliverable.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-01-15 13:51 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Blair's statement did seem to hark back to the days of Empire, didn't it? That was really rather alarming. I can't even remember Thatcher saying anything like that, not out loud - she just managed to transmit it by body language.
I did feel a certain schadenfreude when I first heard about what Ruth Kelly had done, thinking, `Well, think yourself lucky - at least there's a special school left that you can send your child to.'
As I understand it, there are state schools in Tower Hamlets that could have catered for her son's needs; the exact reasons why she chose a private school instead are unknown to me, but clearly she thought it had something the state schools did not.
She might not stand up and say that the system is crap and it's all their fault, but I do wonder if this episode hasn't altered her view of Labour ideology somewhat. Although probably not.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-01-15 17:48 (UTC)
Subject: uninformed, west of the puddle, Blair comment
To quote Michael Flanders (and possibly Donald Swann), shortened for my convenience --

The English the English the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest

....And crossing the channel one cannot say much
For the French or the Spanish, the Danish or Dutch
The Germans are German, the Russians are red
And the Greeks and Italians eat garlic in bed

The English are noble, the English are nice
And worth any other at double the price

And all the world over each nation's the same
They've simply no notion of playing the game
They argue with umpires, they cheer when they've won
And they practice before hand which spoils all the fun...

It's not that they're wicked or naturally bad
It's just that they're foreign that makes them so mad
The English are all that a nation should be
And the pride of the English are <> and <>


-- the other Jean-Marie (not the writer)
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User: hutch0
Date: 2007-01-16 15:41 (UTC)
Subject: Re: uninformed, west of the puddle, Blair comment
Noble sentiments indeed...
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-01-14 05:41 (UTC)
Subject: as always, I'll opt to disagree with hutch...
While I am not familiar with the minute details of Ms Kelly's public or private life, I must say that her decision to pull her child from the state schools after professionally "improving" them is hypocritical to say the least.
IMHO, it is far more important that one models integrity, consistency (as much as anyone can), and living by principle to one's own child/children than to have them in the "right program."
I am married to a severe dyslexic, have a reading diability myself (or is it just hutch's writing style that's been the problem all these years?), and have three children each with their own learning issues. Thus, I speak from experience. Sure, dyslexia is a pain in the sas, knec, and every ohetr bdoy prat, but the coping mechanisms that one acquires to function with it, are attainable through many avenues, the most important being parenting with the progress of the soul in mind.
Finally, that the media latched onto it seems to me to be more indicative of a slow news day, not a crusade for integrity, consitency, and living by principle on the part of the Fifth Estate (or whatever it's called on your side of the Atlantic).

another Jean Marie (but not a writer)

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User: hutch0
Date: 2007-01-15 14:09 (UTC)
Subject: Re: as always, I'll opt to disagree with hutch...
I did try very hard to put myself in Ruth Kelly's position, which as you'll appreciate was something of a stretch for a number of reasons, and the only honest conclusion I could come to was that she decided to do what she thought was best for her son, by her own lights, and in my heart I couldn't argue with that.
I don't know what influenced her decision, or whether there were other alternatives available. Was it hypocritical? Maybe so, but what would have been better - to stand by her work as a Labour MP and former Education Secretary and send him to a school she believed wouldn't be suitable for him, or to be a hypocrite and give him what she thought was the best chance?
I'm more inclined to be critical of those Labour MPs who marched for CND while they were in opposition and now they're in power advocate continuing with our independent nuclear deterrent.
It wasn't a slow news day so much; the Press just grab any stick to beat the government with these days.
I didn't know MQ was dyslexic. Or that you had a reading thing.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-01-15 18:01 (UTC)
Subject: Re: as always, I'll opt to disagree with hutch...
Yup. He is big time. It was not diagnosed until his penultimate year in high school.

I got my degree in Math and CS only because there was minimal reading involved (that and the fact that I'd have MUCH better chances of finally getting asked out on a date if I was the only girl in a class -- ancient days, ancient days).

- the other Jean Marie (not the writer)
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User: hutch0
Date: 2007-01-16 15:44 (UTC)
Subject: Re: as always, I'll opt to disagree with hutch...
I never realised that.
You should get yourself an LJ, you know. Then you can have a cool LJ name and a userpic and all that stuff. If an old Luddite like myself can have fun here, you'd have the time of your life.
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