What is a “Non-Crime Hate Incident”?

In a way, it is quite amusing that Amber Rudd, our not very bright Home Secretary, has been hoist with her own petard. She and her predecessor (Theresa May) have been very keen on keeping lists of people who have said things which are said to be politically incorrect but which are not criminal. I don’t think either of these great champions of liberty and justice has ever bothered to explain why it is important that men and women who have been falsely accused of “hate crimes” should have their details retained on an official list. It may well be that their aim is no more sinister than a vague desire to be shown to be modern and progressive. On the other hand, it is quite possible that they think their little list of society offenders who never will be missed will come in useful one day. Let us not frighten ourselves by speculating as to what use Mrs May and Ms Rudd could put their list. Continue reading

Mrs May Doesn’t Need a “Mandate”

There is nothing in our constitutional arrangements which requires a Prime Minister to be equipped with a mandate from the electorate. All he or she needs is the ability to command a majority in the House of Commons. Mrs May can, so far, do that. But it is certainly true that she is the first Prime Minister in recent years (by which I mean my life time) to take office from a leader of her own party (who won an election) and then announce that she was fundamentally opposed to everything he stood for. Continue reading

Commons Committee Decrees that Parliament not Voters should Choose MPs

It hasn’t got quite as bad as that, but we’re nearly there.

A preposterous body called the Women and Equalities Select Committee of the House of Commons has produced a report, apparently unanimously, recommending that an Act of Parliament should be passed making it an offence, punishable by a large fine, for any political party to field fewer (inevitably in these illiterate days the committee says “less”) than 45% of female candidates at general elections.

What is this committee? I have read its appalling report and can therefore tell you. It is made up of twelve MPs (ten women and two token men). There are Tory, Labour and SNP members, but no Lib Dems (they probably don’t have any women MPs). I have looked at all their profiles on Parliament’s web site. Let us just say, of the two men, that their photographs make them look incredibly weedy. This committee, devoted to equality, is definitely a committee for women, not men. Continue reading

The NHS – a Political Football for Ever

The NHS is the fifth largest employer in the world. It is, easily, the largest employer in Europe. It gets through, at the last count, 116.4 billion pounds of taxpayers’ money a year. And yet, year after year, month after month, day after day, we have been told for decades by opposition politicians (it doesn’t matter which party) that the government of the day is destroying the NHS because it is not putting enough money into it. Continue reading

Is “Groupthink”a Problem?

One cannot, of course, answer that question without first defining the word. Although it had been used by others earlier, it is generally accepted that groupthink, as it is now understood, was first properly analysed and defined by Irving Janis in 1971. These are the passages usually quoted from his extensive work on the subject:

“I use the term groupthink as a quick and easy way to refer to the mode of thinking that persons engage in when concurrence-seeking becomes so dominant in a cohesive ingroup that it tends to override realistic appraisal of alternative courses of action. Groupthink is a term of the same order as the words in the newspeak vocabulary George Orwell used in his dismaying world of 1984. In that context, groupthink takes on an invidious connotation. Exactly such a connotation is intended, since the term refers to a deterioration in mental efficiency, reality testing and moral judgments as a result of group pressures.

“The main principle of groupthink, which I offer in the spirit of Parkinson’s Law, is this: The more amiability and esprit de corps there is among the members of a policy-making ingroup, the greater the danger that independent critical thinking will be replaced by groupthink, which is likely to result in irrational and dehumanizing actions directed against outgroups.” Continue reading

A Fascinating – if Disturbing – Television Programme

The children had left the television on in the sitting room. As usual, when they take control of the confounded machine, it was very loud and tuned to an obscure channel (I think it was called ITV2). I went to turn it off. Then I noticed that the programme was set in what a modern television director thinks a British courtroom looks like (lecterns for the litigants to stand behind, flags all over the place, a judge wielding a gavel – you get the picture). Anyway, I was curious. I turned the volume down to an acceptable level and watched. Continue reading