» Monday, July 19, 2004

Home Office Five-Year Plan/Crime

In answer to questions about the launch of the Home Office’s Five-Year plan, the PMOS said that as David Blunkett, Lord Falconer and the Attorney General had all underlined at last week’s Cabinet, they detected a new feeling of change within the criminal justice system. As the Prime Minister would say in his speech today, in 1997 the criminal justice system had been the public service that had been “most unfit for purpose”. In his view that was now changing. The Home Office’s Five-Year plan was designed to drive that change through in all aspects of the criminal justice system, whether it was policing, in the powers which communities held or in the way we tackled offenders.

Asked if the Prime Minister sincerely believed that the previous Administration presided over a 1960’s “liberal, social consensus on law and order”, the PMOS said that as a Civil Servant he was unable to comment on political issues. That said, there was a clear analysis which stated that, while the 1960s provided a welcome end to discrimination and a welcome opening of personal freedoms, the downside of such a development was the loss of a sense of responsibility. It was the reinforcement of that and the idea that communities were not alone when they faced important issues such as crime that had been behind the anti-social behaviour legislation and other measures relating to law and order which had been put in place by this Government. Put to him that the Prime Minister’s speech did not ‘fess up to the fact that this was an important break from what had been the consensus on the liberal left – of which the Prime Minister had been part, the PMOS said the Prime Minister believed that this was an evolution of his experience – both as Shadow Home Secretary and as Prime Minister – of the interface between Government and communities in terms of what Governments could and should do, and indeed had done, and what communities wanted in terms of law and order. He was perfectly open about the fact that there had been an evolution in both his thinking and in the Government’s thinking about these issues. Within that, however, it was important to recognise that it did not in any way repudiate the good things about the 1960s, such as the end of discrimination, but went back to the basic idea of respect for law and law enforcement. Asked if the Prime Minister would be able to say today that prison worked, the PMOS said that in the Prime Minister’s view, any crimes relating to drugs – either directly or indirectly – should result in the offender participating in a rehabilitation scheme or else face a more draconian punishment. In this way, offenders were offered a chance to stay out of prison. If, however, they refused that option, they had to understand that the ultimate sanction would be used against them.

Asked to give examples of the sort of thing the Government’s legislation would ban, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had identified various changes in society which had resulted in the breakdown of parental discipline in certain areas, for instance. That was why he believed it was important to reinforce a basic respect for the law, hence the proposals today. This whole issue should come as no great surprise to anybody in the light of the Prime Minister’s speeches in recent years and the measures which the Government had taken on anti-social behaviour. This was an obvious evolution of thought. It was not some sudden break with the past. In answer to further questions, the PMOS said that politicians had a responsibility to ensure that respect for law and order reflected what society actually wanted to see – namely, a tougher attitude that reinforced basic values.

Asked to point to a policy example which the Prime Minister was announcing today that had anything to do with reversing the effects of the thinking in the 1960s, the PMOS said that we recognised the need for a tougher attitude. He pointed to the measures we had implemented on anti-social behaviour in terms of how we were intending to treat drug offenders and how we were providing extra police and community support. All this was designed to re-assure local communities that we would not tolerate anti-social behaviour and the sort of low-level crime that afflicted many housing estates around the country, and that we did not believe that the only solution to drug-related problems was to either ignore them or send offenders to prison. Asked about the policy to decriminalise cannabis, the PMOS pointed out that it had been accompanied by a determination to place a greater emphasis on tackling Class A drugs. It had not made possession of cannabis legal.

Asked if the Prime Minister believed that preventing miscarriages of justice was a bad thing, the PMOS said no, of course not. The point he was making in his speech was that we had to be careful not to ignore the victims of crime or jeopardise the enforcement of the law. In our desire to prevent miscarriages of justice, we had to be careful not to do anything that might prevent justice being done. It was important to strike the right balance.

Asked if the Prime Minister was concerned that the European Convention on Human Rights would have an impact on the changes the Prime Minister wanted to make to the criminal justice system, the PMOS pointed out that it hadn’t prevented us from carrying out recent legislation on anti-social behaviour. To place the ills of the criminal justice system at the door of the European Convention on Human Rights was wrong.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news


  1. I never believed that I would ever hear such ignorant bigoted nonesense coming out of the mouth of a Labour politician. Even worse than that is that is is being accepted as official policy.

    The lunatics have truly taken over the asylum. Please lock and bolt the door after you let me out…..

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 19 Jul 2004 on 7:35 pm | Link
  2. A recent quote:

    "You hit the nail on the head. The worst offender is the Home Office but it is true of all bureaucracies that activity in Parliament will cover up for administrative incompetence. The classic example is asylum policy where if we had an efficiently managed section we would not be under pressure to constantly tighten our draconian laws even more.

    The biggest frustration in this job is getting people to enforce what they should be doing anyway. I call banging my head against a brick wall. Occasionally we do get bricks tumbling down."

    A Labour MP.

    Comment by Colonel Mad — 19 Jul 2004 on 11:10 pm | Link
  3. "How we treat drug offenders" is part of the point – the ability to offer drug treatment programs to drug ‘offenders’, otherwise referred to as ‘addicts’ by most people for whom the misanthropic moniker ‘offender’ might apply, is nil. So long as treatment programs remain unfunded, any policy changes by the government can be considered nothing more than semantic, surface-level spin on an issue that, if honestly tackled, could actually have an impact.

    The government is going to have a hard time proving that all of its’ policies don’t devolve to that description under even the most remote scrutiny.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 20 Jul 2004 on 5:30 pm | Link
  4. All of this is just a sympton of Britain`s problem.I say problem and not problem`s because although all problem`s are important it would cloud the MAIN problem. You see VERY few I think understand what the main problem is.It is in itself SIMPLE but ALMOST impossible to solve.THE PROBLEM is over population.Britain has too many people in it for it`s land mass.It is from what I hear the most densely populated country in the world!.Many will be amazed to hear that.I will give you some examples Britain is 12 times more densely populated then Germany in people per square mile of it`s land mass. Britain is 250 times more densely populated per square mile then the U.S.A. It is even worse then you at first think when you take the land mass of Scotland out of the equation along with it`s population off five million!,then take wales land mass out of the equation with it`s population off three million that comes to a grand total off 8 million people.That leaves England and North Ireland with a population off 50 million people.That makes England by FAR FAR FAR the most OVER POPULATED country in the world.Britain has few natural resources to fall back on.It CANNOT feed itself it has to rely on the rest of the world for that.Indeed I will tell you that there is only one country in Europe that can feed it`s people that is France with it`s population off just over 80 million but with a much greater land mass most of which is excellent farming land.Britain therefore cannot manage itself without many more impossible to solve problem`s showing through i.e.Housing,transport,Long term full employment,An ageing population that cannot be sustained other then keeping them in the future in abject poverty or perhaps enforced euthanasia if thing`s get too bad,Crime/anti-social behaviour as more try to live on less and cannot afford to get somewhere decent to live,Mental illness as people see no point in living and start to take drug`s/alcohol to blot out the reality off what is around them every day off there lives.The young that think no one cares about them and see`s before them no future but low income and slum accommadation in the new ghettoes that are being built around them the build narrow build high house`s with very low quality material`s that the make as much profit as possible builder`s design and build unabated by politicians who don`t have a clue what to do except talk of brown field site`s and not green field site`s as the squeeze of over population start`s to grip tighter and ever tighter.There is of course one other BIG factor in all of this climate change the world will not be able to feed itself if just some of the predictions come true.Where will that leave Britain!!!.Oil has on current level`s of usage in the world only 50 year`s supply left and not much on the horizon to replace it,The world`s raw materials are running out and third world nation`s are trying to compate for what is left.It is all a problem that our politicians will ignore till it is too late as they refute what is before there very eye`s.

    Comment by george dutton — 7 Aug 2004 on 3:57 pm | Link
  5. Britain is not the most densely populated country in the world; it is not even the most densely populated country in Europe.


    The rest of your argument is equally ill-informed but you’ve been told that before on this site, haven’t you george, and it still doesn’t stop you or make you question any of your belligerently held beliefs so there is no point trying to engage you in any sensible discussion.

    Comment by Uncarved Block — 7 Aug 2004 on 4:48 pm | Link
  6. Once again you come on this site with your made up version of the fact`s to suit yourself.If you care to FIND out your fact`s first we may be able to have an intelligent debate Uncarved Block.So far when it come`s to fact`s on this site other`s have found out my fact`s are correct.This is not the first time you have said thing`s to me only to have to eat your word`s at a later date.Does "jet planes flown to Iran ring a bell".

    Comment by george dutton — 7 Aug 2004 on 5:58 pm | Link
  7. You did give me cia factfile I will give you a report that was on the television just a few month`s ago that said Germany was 12 times less populated then the U.K.and the U.S.A.was 250 times less populated then the U.K.That does not back up the cia factfile does it! go and look at it.Report`s from over 30year`s ago said the U.K.was the most densely populated country in the world after costa rica which wsa counted into the land mass of the U.S.A.so did not really count!.

    Comment by george dutton — 7 Aug 2004 on 6:10 pm | Link
  8. Having had a further look at that cia factfile.I think Macau and Hong kong are part of China!.Monaco is not a country but a principality!where a lot of rich people go to live but are still not classed as national`s. But further to all that I would like to point out that (AGAIN) if you take away the land mass of Scotland and Wales about half of the U.K. landmass and with it the 8 million people that live in those two countries you are left with about 50 million people in England that make`s it even worse!.As the U.K.is not a country but a union of countries.I will have a look at world web site`s and try and find that report that came out just a matter of week`s ago but having tried already to find out I have to download Adobe and I don`t want to do that.I see that the c.i.a.factfile say`s France has just over 60 million population I know that is wrong as France has a population of over 80 million.

    Comment by george dutton — 7 Aug 2004 on 7:24 pm | Link
  9. Dear Uncarved Block,Go to http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/population.html then find out all the fact`s about population.States like Monaco that are not what they seem.What belong`s to who!. Now when I read that the U.K.was the most densely populated place/countries in the world the people that complied the statistics may have included all Britain`s dependencies which it seem`s is what some census surveys do also the number of passport holder`s that a country has play`s a part in the total number of national`s in other census take`s.They class Taiwan as a separated state to China.You also have Bangladesh which was once part of Pakistan.But it does not remove the FACT that the U.K./England if not the most densely place/country in the world is pushing very hard to be the most densely populated.Which people will be very surprised to know.But all of this dent`s in NO WAY what my post said about the state on the U.K`s population.

    Comment by george dutton — 7 Aug 2004 on 9:56 pm | Link
  10. It should also interest anyone that places like Malta have a very large transient population,many British people (O.A.P.) go to Malta to live in the winter time amoung many other`s from around Europe.Barbados has a VERY large transient population many American`s and British people live there but keep there own nationalities,they also have a VERY large intake of people that run there service industry!.You soon see that in REAL term`s Britain goes right up to the top of the table in most densely populated place in the world!.

    Comment by george dutton — 7 Aug 2004 on 11:30 pm | Link
  11. Dear Uncarved Block,Have you thought about changing your name from Uncarved Block to Cherry Pick`s.You should think about it!. If Monaco were to choose it could legitmately expel all non national`s from it`s boundaries which are very small boundaries and make a MASSIVE cut to it`s population in one go as could many countries that are classed as densely populated, unlike any of the countries that form the U.K.or Great Britain as expelling all it`s non national`s would not even make a very small dent in it`s population. As for telling me you could not "engage me in any sensible discussion" you are right,you could not.

    Comment by george dutton — 8 Aug 2004 on 3:26 am | Link
  12. I should have said France can feed upto 80 million people as it is the only country in Europe that is self sufficient in food,and not said France has a population of 80 million.I just thought I had better put that fact straight At the moment France`s population is about 60 million.The U.K. at full production of all it`s land mass cannot feed 20 milliom people.I say 20 million as that is the very top figure and taken from the 19th century when the U.K. became dependent on the world to feed it.The U.K.then produced a lot more food then it does today.There was at that time a big debate in the U.K. parliament as many thought it would leave the U.K. open to attack of it`s shipping lanes.I should add that per acre of land the U.K.produces less food now then it did in the 19th century which many will find surprising.

    Comment by george dutton — 8 Aug 2004 on 11:04 am | Link
  13. George, your intention seems to be constantly to state "facts" which you don’t back up, and then refuse to consider any other viewpoint – especially the viewpoint that you are often wrong. That is not discussion, in my book, it is just a stubborn refusal to accept that you COULD be wrong. For instance, now you say the CIA handbook is wrong about the population of France; what are YOUR sources for such an assertion? You call Uncarved Block "Cherry Pick" – why? He has backed up his argument with a link to a site – but it doesn’t agree with the "facts" as you like to believe them, and therefore that link is no good for you. Would it help if we provided a hundred links giving the same information? I doubt it – you would then say that those 100 links were "cherry picked" to support the facts that others want them to support, although they are not the REAl facts. One would almost suspect you are Tony Blair, with your constant refusals to accept any other viewpoint but your own. If your intention is to stifle any discussion which contradicts your view of the world, you are going the right way about it. People just don’t like to get into discussions with a brick wall…

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 8 Aug 2004 on 11:28 am | Link
  14. Again YOU did not mention the web site I gave! as you say there are many web site`s search all and you will come up with different answer`s.All that I say are FACT`S that I have been told or read or take from the vast amount of documentaries that are shown on the television.I know full well that one person`s fact`s are not another`s!.But that in it`s self does not change the FACT that whatever way you want it Britain has a very real problem with it`s number of people to it`s land mass!.That is a FACT.As many will tell you.I should also have said earlier in connection with census takes some take passport holder`s OR people that have a right to be British passport holder`s are taken into consideration when saying how many people come under the being British other`s do not.As we have seen Britain had to stop people from claiming there RIGHT to take up there option because of the vast number`s involved.I find it VERY strange that you say my fact`s are wrong and I ignore the fact`s when it suit`s me, you as has been PROVED on this site do just that,jet fighter`s flown to Iran ring a bell,you then said I was a liar!!!.Do you think that was a RATIONAL thing to do!!!.It is a FACT that it was not.You also keep going wrong in making so many assumption`s about what I think when I am merely pointing out fact`s.I will tell you what I think, it is better to take on a problem before it become`s a nightmare and you cannot do that if you don`t know you have a problem.

    Comment by george dutton — 8 Aug 2004 on 12:54 pm | Link
  15. By the way you I see you did not read the post above you before you wrote your post that I think PROVES you don`t want to know anything that does not fit into your own personal agenda!.That is a fact as well.

    Comment by george dutton — 8 Aug 2004 on 1:28 pm | Link
  16. I would like to add to my first post and say that as far as housing goes we should get all the plan`s out from the 1930`s and start building a few million three bedroom THOMSON SEMI`s again.Now that was what MANY would call the GOLDEN ERA of house building in this country,of that there is NO DOUBT.We should also use the same SPECIFICATION`S as the ORIGINAL builder`s did and not brick`s that will fall apart in 30/50 year`s time.Wood that will snap if the wind blow`s at force.The price of failure will be our grandchildren facing a housing crisis that thay may not be able to afford or indeed be able to solve as the material`s might be too expensive or unavailable due to climate change and population problem`s and the wealth may not be there to pay for it as the world will be a very different place 50 year`s from now!.

    Comment by george dutton — 9 Aug 2004 on 10:28 am | Link
  17. More FACTS, George?!?!

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 9 Aug 2004 on 2:29 pm | Link
  18. Oh, good god.

    – The UK’s problem is not "overpopulation". Overpopulation affects specific locations – for example, London. Overpopulation does not affect areas with low populations in the UK, by definition. Moreover, the UK does not actually suffer from the classical problems of overpopulation, save one.

    – Traffic levels are insane. True of any society with poor investment in basic public transport infrastructure, and true of specific, overpopulated areas of the UK.

    – Drug use is not population-related. Drug use is about individuals taking drugs; while, technically, if you increase the amount of people, you increase the relative number of drug users, areas of low population suffer just as badly from drug use as high population areas. What’s different is the level of community and medical support; and what matters is the amount of money, per drug user, spent on rehabilitation. This number, this important figure, remains incredibly low in the UK.

    There is no "solution" for the drug problem. The people who are on them wanted to take them in the first place; depending on the drug, they may be unable to break that cycle of drug use and dependency. Treatment is the only way of breaking that link – time and time again, we continue to use prison instead of rehabilitation.

    – The days when countries needed to be self-sufficient are long since over. It makes no sense to produce things that others produce better; there is no shame or harm in getting one’s grain from areas of the world that have better climates for producing that grain. There is no shame or harm in importing coal. Nor steel. The question is one of macroeconomics – as long as export is roughly equal to import, the items being exported and import matter little; as long as GDP can afford the import of items, and the items in question can be attained from multiple sources, there is no "problem" with the insourcing of, for example, foodstuffs into the UK. You live in a global economy – get rid of the idea that you’re living on an isolated island, and drop the island economy mindset. This isn’t the Industrial Revolution any longer; IR economics no longer apply.

    – Population size has the largest and most important impact when one considers the aging population; in order for the oldest generations to get tax-free services, enough younger people need to be around paying that tax for those people. That’s the whole point of a social policy as exists in the UK; it’s the single biggest danger that any country faces. Countries in Africa are getting their populations wiped out – whole economies may fall apart because none of the staff with any training will actually survive. These are real problems – not shadowy, vague outlines of problems as "overpopulation", which isn’t even necessarily a problem at all.

    – George, do not pretend to know why people take drugs; you are almost invariably going to be wrong.

    – While you’re at it, don’t make the ill-begotten assumption that mentally ill people turn to drugs; or, conversely, that anybody who would take drugs must therefore be mentally ill.

    – Do not pretend, for one moment, that the problems of mental illness are any better handled in this society than the drugs problem; if anything, drugs have a higher profile, and you are more likely to get treatment as a drug user than you are to get diagnosed and treated of particular mental illnesses. One in four will suffer mental illness of one form or another, treatable mental illness at that, within their lifetimes. A handful will take drugs and need treatment to get them off of it. Now look at the resources going to both, and start wondering where the problem is.

    – Enforced euthanasia is a rather bizarre conclusion for you to come to; I imagine, at the age of 59, you’re starting to feel the crisis that many seem to go through when they hit the ages where one starts to consider one’s self as being "old". Nobody’s going to euthanise the elderly against their will. Feeding the elderly does not mean leaving the young of today in "abject poverty", and older generations have every right to feel that, after a lifetime of providing for others, society will do them the same favour. More importantly, and never forget this, the elderly are one of the single most organised and powerful voting blocs in politics today, and will likely remain that way in the future.

    – 59 is not old. The elderly are not a "burden on society"; if we all live to 100, then by your definition, 35-40% of our society (depending on where you draw the line at retirement) is "elderly", quite frankly. Those people deserve to live their lives just as much as the other 60-65%.

    I just find it really, really hard to truck any of your ideas – it’s not that they’re poorly researched or anything, I’m sure you’re reading figures that back up your ideas – they’re just antiquated. Not just "not modern", but archaic; concepts about drug use, mental illness, and population concerns that have been commonly accepted as being very different than your current opinions on them.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 9 Aug 2004 on 4:08 pm | Link
  19. George: Stop living in fear of tomorrow.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 9 Aug 2004 on 4:18 pm | Link
  20. Dear Gregory,I don`t live in fear of tomorrow I don`t have many day`s left to fear.As for "The U.K. does not suffer from the classical problem`s of over population"It is showing sign`s off suffering now as you have pointed out.I class any nation as over populated if that nation cannot feed itself!.But that is not just my view I have to state, but still just a view. As for drug`s, your claim that "Treatment is the only way of breaking that link" Sorry,I say prevention is the best way. You say "better climates for producing grain" You did not read my first post Gregory how long will that "better climates" be better climates!.Last week the B.B.C.news 24 had a special few day`s reporting from around the world you must not have seen it.It was VERY frighting great area`s of China that just three year`s ago were from time in memorial fertile area`s are now desert,thousands are being moved from the growing affected area`s.The goverment has already said that they know they will not be able to cope with what is coming in trying to feed it`s population in the future.Once before people went hungry in this country that was because of german U-boat`s stopping food from coming in from the rest of the world,but if SOME prediction`s from SOME expert`s are correct and that there are going to be food shortage`s in the year`s ahead don`t you think it would be better to prepare now when we have some time left then to leave it till it hit`s us because IF it does it will be horrendous and I say too much of a GAMBLE to take.Even countries that can feed themselves may not be able to if the weather spoils`s crop`s you may say,yes that`s true but I say do everthing you can now and not wait at least you lessen the affect`s.Most of the expert`s in this field agree on one thing the rainfall will increase in the coming year`s as global warming take`s affect as there will be much more moisture in the atmosphere.The latest on this I can tell you is that far from being a warmer place for Great Britain it could well be a FAR colder place for Great Britain as the amount of fresh water running into the north atlantic from the great river`s of northern Russia and northern Europe will dilute the amount of salt in the north atlantic, this in turn will switch the gulf stream off!, as it`s cycle sink`s just off Iceland and return`s.The whole world WILL have a more unstable weather system.Of course ALL of this is PREDICTION`S and just that!.Nobody know`s for sure!. You say "Drug use,mental illness,and population concern`s that have been commonly accepted as being very different then your opinion`s on them" Gregory there are enough people coming on to the television TELLING all of us just what I am telling you!!!. Drug addict`s tell us they take drug`s because there is no point to there live`s and it give`s them a form of escape as does alcohol.TRUE people take drug`s that have everything in life but they take them because they are still not happy or they want to experience something different,could that not be because they don`t like what they see about them and want to escape as well,otherwise what would be the point in taking them in the first place!.Do you not see and hear the people that tell you were they live and how they live affect`s there mental state.What does it tell you when so many drug dealer`s set up in/on sink estates around the country ask the next policeman/women you next meet!.As I say time will tell Gregory but I have the feeling that my generation will be the one`s that have seen the last day`s of life that we all are used to at the moment.Time will indeed tell.

    Comment by george dutton — 10 Aug 2004 on 1:31 am | Link
  21. Dear Papalazzzaru,You say "more fact`s george" Well that`s an easy one for me.You have a pair of eyes in your head LOOK around you there are Thomson 3 bed semis all around you or not that far from you.Then say to yourself what would you rather live in!.Or are you well off and live in a big detached house!. It may interest you and Uncarved Block but have you both thought about this.I would genuinely really like your thought`s on it!.We have just gone through a very bad NOT recession but a very BAD WORLD DEPRESSION some will say were still in it (for that time), there`s not much money about VERY high unemployment,poverty abound`s yet we in Great Britain start to build thousands and thousands of really well designed and nice house`s fit for human being`s to live in, the year`s 1930`s.How on earth did that happen!!!!!.

    Comment by george dutton — 10 Aug 2004 on 2:00 am | Link
  22. George:

    "It is showing sign`s off suffering now as you have pointed out."; and as I pointed out, none of those things are related to population.

    "I class any nation as over populated if that nation cannot feed itself!"; that’s ridiculous. We can do what we’ve always done; subsidise farming until the whole of the UK isn’t dependent on foreign food, but that’s ignoring reality: We want the cheapest goods in the supermarket, not the ones marked British. Why subsidise with taxes what you can get more cheaply abroad? You’re arguing that Britain can’t feed itself; I’m trying to tell you that Britain, every day, is choosing not to, at the checkout counter.

    Moreover, your idea that Britain should be completely self-sufficient is an outdated ideal of the 50’s; we do not *need* to produce all our own energy reserves; we can buy it cheaper than we can produce it from the market. We don’t *need* to produce all our own food; we can buy it cheaper from Africa. In fact, the whole argument over food is particularly nasty; Africa has been complaining, and rightly so, for years that the UK and other countries subsidising their local agricultural markets makes Africa non-competitive in that market; if we want to help Africa, we need to give them a level playing field. That, by definition, means cutting the subsidies which are the only reason UK foodstuffs are competitive in this market.

    Close our borders, and move back to a pre-WW2 policy on international trade; that’s what you’re really asking for. The whole purpose of the European Union is to eliminate the trade barriers between European countries – that alone is anathema to your statements on what is essentially a "protectionist" market strategy. That’s what I meant by horribly outdated; that stopped being valid a long, long time ago.

    "how long will that "better climates" be better climates!" – If the UK suddenly becomes the perfect growing climate, the cost of production of foodstuffs will drop and it will become competitive, in the marketplace, to be a producer of foodstuffs; no subsidies required. As some countries cease to be strong producers, they will need to find new ways to employ their workforce; such as Britain’s transition through industrial and into what is now an IT and services marketplace.

    And I remind those who don’t know: I was born and raised in a family of farmers. I’ve watched them lose their farms, their subsidies, and their livelihoods, as their farms fail to be cost-effective, and the subsidies fail to keep them afloat. I’ve watched them retrain to become nurses and construction workers.

    I know full well what it means to lose your farm, and what that does to your life. But the days of protectionism are over; and all we can do now is help those who lose their jobs to foreign markets to retrain in new jobs. That’s what the words "changing economy" really imply when spoken – some people are losing their jobs, and having to get new ones in different fields, because their old jobs just don’t exist anymore.

    That’s, unfortunately, progress. Progress means that some people fall off the bottom and need to be helped back on. Damn it if you like, but we all have to live in it. I, a programmer, have gone from a rare breed to a populist workforce who will, in 20 years, be nothing more than a sweatshop worker in Singapore, desperate to find a job in a market that no longer considers my skills in the UK to be cost-effective. I must continually improve and refine my skills so as to avoid that dead end. That’s my life.

    "Once before people went hungry in this country that was because of german U-boat`s stopping food from coming in from the rest of the world" – Those countries can just as easily strip-bomb your farmland and drop airborne contaminants onto your crops now. Those fears cannot be allowed to continue to run the world; we cannot allow ourselves to live under the shadows of war, real or imagined.

    "if SOME prediction`s from SOME expert`s are correct and that there are going to be food shortage`s in the year`s ahead" – Screw our food. There’s tons in Africa desperate for imports to the UK, none of whom can thanks to our taxpayers ensuring that our own food is kept artificially low priced. Take, instead, the fact that large sections of the world, over the next few years, are going to start battling over drinking water. Now there’s a real problem.

    And you won’t solve that by putting up walls around Britain to prevent "other people" from drinking your water. Nor will the people of Britain be safe from the chaos and war that the thirsty countries will wage amongst each other fighting for those rights. The days when we can pretend we are not a part of the world around us are over; if we continue to pretend that these issues won’t affect us, we will wake up not from a dream, but into a nightmare. That’s not a prediction.

    Re the gulf stream: If you want to stop global warming, start voting for people who want to stop global warming. Unless you’re voting Lib Dem or Green, you’re not doing enough to stop global warming, plain and simple. Pretending otherwise is sticking your head in the sand.

    Drugs: Don’t get into the War On Some Drugs with me. Trust me. You *cannot* simplify the whole of drug use down to "people are unhappy". People take drugs for lots of reasons, and lots of perfectly healthy kids do it *every single weekend*. The drug problem is not a problem of overpopulation, and it’s not about a nation with suicidal tendencies; it’s the very nature of humanity and culture, and it’s a universal problem that cannot be solved with mindless, gross exaggerations. In fact, it’s a problem that cannot be solved at all; only treated, and its harm reduced. That whole "otherwise, what would be the point of taking them in the first place" end of that paragraph is the whole point – because you clearly *do not* have the answer to that, and neither does anybody else around us. There is no one reason. Don’t make the problem worse through oversimplification.

    As for drug dealers: You’re probably living within a few houses pf one right now, regardless of where you live. They’re that common. And it’s not a problem of the poor, or a problem of the rich, or a problem of the mentally ill.

    And as for the last: Do not assume that your generation – and you are my elder by thirty ears – is the last generation to give a damn. Do not assume that men and women younger than I aren’t reading this right now, and care just as much about everything happening as you or I do; nor that people older than you have somehow lost enough of the clarity of their vision to no longer see the problems that plainly exist around us, nor the reason to care.

    Nobody’s losing hope; nobody’s losing faith. Nobody’s giving up the fight, with or without you. We’re all involved in politics for highly personal reasons; reasons which will drive us throughout are whole lives and, ideally, infect those around us with a passion to care about the government that governs our societies and the laws which protect our rights. Every generation since time immemorial thinks that the good times are times gone past; every generation thinks the future is bleak. To date, most of them have been wrong, and it’s because we continue to have hope, faith, and fight for what we believe in that this continues to be true.

    Tomorrow is not the dawn of a new Dark Age. Not if the people living today have anything to say about it.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 10 Aug 2004 on 7:49 pm | Link
  23. You READ into what I say a lot of thing`s that I do not say!.You like other`s don`t want to look at tomorrow!.If a man comes toward`s you firing a gun you say he`s not going to fire at me! I say that man is a danger to me and I will take action.That`s the difference between you and me.For instance WHAT has cheap food from Africa got to do with what I was saying!!!.You are going off onto other tangents.I am saying that there is a real chance that there may not be the food to import into this country in the future!And what there is will be fought over by a Europe/World that cannot support itself! because it has to many people to feed!.I don`t think you have got the point I am making!.

    Comment by george dutton — 10 Aug 2004 on 11:36 pm | Link
  24. Hi George

    As I understand it, the main point you are making is that overpopulation and climate change mean that there may not be enough food to feed the world. This view was put forward in the late eighteenth century by Thomas Malthus. He claimed that the rate of unchecked population growth always exceeds the rate of growth of means of subsistence.

    However he was wrong – advances in the productivity of farmers due to modern technology and biochemistry have meant that there has always been a net surplus in food supply. The only things that I can see changing this is a drop in biodiversity caused by genetic modification and the fact that fresh water for irrigation is likely to become scarcer. However I seriously doubt that we will ever be in a situation where there is simply not enough food to feed the population. The other horsemen of the apocalypse are likely to get to us first (namely disease, currently in the form of AIDS, and war, both of which are a far greater problem than famine)

    As to the whole drugs thing, America’s war on drugs has demonstrated clearly for the last twenty years that prevention doesn’t work. In the places where treatment has actually been given a chance (e.g. pilot studies in Cambridgeshire) it has been demonstrably much more successful than any other strategy in reducing the number of drug users on the streets.

    You say "Do you not see and hear the people that tell you were they live and how they live affects their mental state" – well that is true; the incidence of schizophrenia amongst the Jamaican population in the UK is far higher than that in Jamaica, but it ain’t down to population density – the population densities of Jamaica and the UK are virtually identical (source: CIA world factbook 2004).

    Comment by Jez Humble — 11 Aug 2004 on 1:49 am | Link
  25. Dear Jez, How is it that we produce LESS food per acre in the U.K.now then we did in the 19th century FACT.It may also interest you to know that the world giving all the right condition`s can support about 30 billion people FACT (all worked out by the so called expert`s)at the moment there are I`m told about 7 billion people on the planet.Nothing to do with what we are talking about but it may interest you to know that there are more people alive now on the earth then have EVER died since man came down from the trees (not a lot of people know that L.O.L.) So one day we must reach a top level,common sense tells us that.You see it`s all a question of people themselves.We are not upto doing all the thing`s we should.It`s our behaviour that is the problem!.You as a human being KNOW that something must be done sooner or later.Ever time we go outside our front door`s we can see the problem`s.When you cage an animal it`s behaviour change`s.It may shock you to know that Human being`s are animal`s.Look at thing`s that happen outside our front door`s.Many people get nasty/violent for the least little thing,we have road rage,alcohol abuse,drug abuse,people who cannot control there temper`s.So many people stressed out.So many thing`s do we see now.Of course we have alway`s had such but in day`s gone by it was at a far lower level then we see today,it is common place were I live! We are told thing`s are much better now for everyone.We see high rise block`s that few want to live in.We see narrow houses that are three storey`s high being built in terraced row`s.I say that if anyone cannot see as they look around them that too many people are living too close together then they need glasses.Of course people see thing`s in different way`s and thing`s are NEVER simple.But I say who is right if it`s me then the price we will pay will be an horrendous one.If it`s you then then we continue much as before!.As I won`t be around but my children will I still say that we must take a new look at world and take no more chances then we need to!.It may be of further interest to you to know that a few year`s ago someone found a cave in a mountain range in the middle of the Sahara desert,inside they found painting`s on the wall.Not caveman painting`s but painting`s that a gifted child of say ten could paint today.The scenes were off children playing/swimming one with there arm waving in the air as they swam.There were trees all around,more were found in other caves in the Sahara desert showing similar scenes.They also found an oasis in the southern part of the Sahara desert that had crocodiles still living in it high mountain walls all around it,cut off from the world.When there D.N.A. was tested it was found that they were unique they had been cut off from the rest of the world for a long time.They found out something they had not knowing before!.It turns out after research that ONLY about 5,500 to 6,000 year`s ago the Sahara desert was a lush tropical area.It amazed many and brought about the question what happened only 5,500 to 6,000 year`s ago to turn it all into a desert!.They don`t know! best they can come up with is that the "only thing that explains it", is that the planet changed it tilt very slightly for some reason.The people in the picture`s are believed to have migrated and started the Egyptian civilisation. So climate change has had great bearing on mankind before.

    Comment by george dutton — 11 Aug 2004 on 4:17 am | Link
  26. I should have added that when I heard that story I did think that the Bible might have a reference to it "the garden of Eden" although no reference has ever been found from Egyptian record`s YET!.

    Comment by george dutton — 11 Aug 2004 on 10:12 am | Link
  27. George, we will never be able to change your opinion on this. The UK produces less food than it did in the 19th century because you can buy your strawberries for far less money imported direct from Israel, and tuna caught off the UK coast can be flown to Japan in less than 24 hours from catch to market. Times have changed; the economy has changed around it. Your arguments are no longer valid in a modern world of open markets.

    As to whether or not self-sufficiency should be a goal: That’s a different question, and again, the "island nation" concept of existence is long since over. Your shoes, clothes, food, and in some cases water come from different corners of the planet. That’s the modern world we live in.

    "It may shock you to know that Human being`s are animal`s." – and animals with poor punctuation at that. It’s a wonder we haven’t been replaced by touch-typing geckos. 😉

    Also, one last note before I sign off:

    "But I say who is right if it`s me then the price we will pay will be an horrendous one.If it`s you then then we continue much as before!"

    This is commonly referred to in philosophy as Pascal’s Wager: If the cost of being wrong is greater than the cost of being right, then surely it is better to live one’s life according to the outcome with the best "worst case". It’s a poor argument; while there is technically no defense against Pascal’s wager, it can be applied to absolutely everything, and depends on one thing: That it is impossible to *know* what the results of one’s decisions will be, and therefore, the safe blind guess is the obvious blind guess.

    This is not one of those circumstances. You’ve been given examples from a broad range of areas why 19th century agricultural principles and outdated ideas of self-sufficiency don’t work in a modern world of increasingly interdependent nation-states. You will continue to take every fact that has any kind of tangential contact on an issue in order to provide a mountain of circumstancial evidence to result in a gut feeling that your instincts are telling you the truth; but there’s no reason why the rest of us have to live our lives based on a model of evidence which is good at constructing little else than conspiracy theories.

    The UK, country, as a whole, does not suffer from "overpopulation" to the extent you claim. Lower agricultural output, or for that matter the ramping down of the coal industry, have little to do with overpopulation, and a great deal to do with open markets and free trade in the 20th century. Drugs are not a sign of overpopulation, nor of a culture on a suicidal trip. Mental illness is neither a cause, nor an effect, of drug use, nor is mental illness a direct result of the aforementioned "overpopulation". Society will not be reduced to forcing euthanasia on the elderly – hell, they can’t even get permission to do it to themselves. Facts like the oil is running out have no bearing on the above arguments; oil running out isn’t about population, it’s about abuse of natural resources, and is again unrelated.

    You can’t just snowball every problem onto the planet into a big ball and roll it down the mountainside into the laps of Parliament. Not only does that not help any of us solve these problems, it makes it impossible to dissect problems into things that can actually be solved.

    Yes, the world has problems. The problems change over time, but they are nonetheless some of the same basic problems which it has always had. Some diseases get cured; others run rampant. Too much of the world is still lacking in drinking water, and there are no roads into much of the world to deliver the ample supplies of food the world already makes more than enough of. In short, there are real infrastructure problems in the world that need solving; there are other, political ones which leave peoples’ lives hanging in the balance.

    I for one am willing to trade some of my own comfort to ensure that some of those infrastructure problems get solved. That’s what makes me a socialist in the first place. Creating a Gordian Knot of every issue you can think of isn’t going to help you come to solid conclusions, nor help anyone solve those problems.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 11 Aug 2004 on 11:36 am | Link
  28. Were we getting personal!!!.And you a (so called socialist). Have you ever heard of a saying a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.A stitch in time save`s nine.Old saying`s have a lot of wisdom in them,gained by year`s of experience.Now you are saying that today`s farmer`s would not for some reason want to produce the MOST they could from there land and therefore not as much profit!.I am pointing out that for all we think we are so clever people over a hundred year`s ago did better then we do at farming.I do know the reason why 19th century farmer`s did better then us,it was all labour intensive in those day`s or so I am told.But you miss the point I am trying to make!.There is a real problem of overpopulation and many other people are saying that as well.I see two M.P.`s in the last three month`s in parliament touching on the problem (I have to tell you they were Tory`s)it`s not just my opinion Gregory! sorry to burst your bubbly.If you watch as much television as me you would see that yourself!.You say Pascal`s wager! have you ever heard of the Ostrich syndrome, that say`s if you can`t see it coming it won`t.

    Comment by george dutton — 11 Aug 2004 on 3:58 pm | Link
  29. It’s not personal to disagree with your statements; nor to recognise the simple fact that I will be unlikely to ever sway your opinion.

    Birds in bushes, needlepoint timekeeping, and the wisdom of Mother Goose have nothing to do with 18th and 19th century economic models; I’m not disagreeing with the wisdom of parables in modern folklore, I’m disagreeing with your point of view on economics.

    (Farmers producing the most they can…) will still not compete with more fertile, foreign lands, where the cost of labor is cheaper and where, quite frankly, the people *need* that income. No amount of hand-waving over self-sufficiency will make me believe that our protectionism of the UK food production system is good for Africa, or good for Britain. It isn’t. What it’s good for is the farmer; and that’s at the cost of everyone else, and like all changing markets, sooner or later, the farmer as we knew it in 1950 will have to join the modern workforce as it exists today.

    The farmer, 50 years ago, did so well because the markets were protected from the sale of foreign foodstuffs by law, physical barriers, and technological challenges that essentially made competition impossible. The farmers, today, compete with farmers around the globe, and it’s no surprise to find that we’re not as competitive in our own market as we once were.

    The difference between you and I is that you think of this as being a bad thing.

    No ‘bubblys’ burst; no illusions shattered. I know your argument inside and out – I just have no belief or faith in it. Moreover, I know that you will not change your fundamental position – that the UK’s self-sufficiency is more important than involvement in the global marketplace, or in the role that the UK’s involvement in that marketplace can do to improve conditions in third and second-world countries.

    Telling me that the Tory party is waffling on about a protectionist market policy is like telling me that "It Rains A Lot In England"; certainly not a shield I’d be willing to defend myself with.

    You can’t have it both ways: Cheap produce in the supermarkets, or buy British and continue to fork out your taxes in agricultural subsidies, leaving the people in Africa without a place to sell the single most marketable skill that they can learn to pull their countries and their peoples up the ladder towards a more modern existence. You choose it every day.

    So, until everything you buy has that little "Made in the UK" label on it, beware that the stones you throw are breaking your own windows in their inexplicable trajectory towards my own glass house.

    And that, in a nutshell, is why we must agree to disagree.

    Comment by Gregory Block — 12 Aug 2004 on 3:13 pm | Link
  30. I still don`t think you understand what I am saying Gregory!.If climate change occur`s as some so called EXPERT`S are PREDICTING there won`t be enough food to go round for us to Import, no matter what mankind does!.We might well be up against many other`s wanting what there is.I say we should be taken step`s now as IF the situation does get that bad everyone will turn around and say "well the writing was on the wall 30/50 or 70 year`s ago and they/we done nothing".I see that we have HAD to sign a deal with Malaysia just yesterday (cost to us BILLIONS) to buy gas because our field`s are running out as is our oil!.Thatcher 30 year`s ago made the decision to burn off into the atmosphere so much of our gas (A LOT OF GAS).She said then " I agonised over the decision to do it,but it was going to cost a lot of money to build gas pipes to pipe it all to land" I said at the time what an IDIOTIC thing she was doing.I NEVER heard anyone else say that at the time.I bet yesterday many thought that as well. TOO LATE.TOO DAMMED LATE.

    Comment by george dutton — 12 Aug 2004 on 8:15 pm | Link
  31. George, if climate change is as drastic as some say it won’t MATTER how much food there is – because we’ll all be dead anyway! The world is actually now entering a warm cycle anyway (can’t be arsed to look up the link, but I remember it was on CNN and BBC Science a while back), and climate change due to our own pollution is probably only a contributory factor, maybe adding a couple of degrees to a temperature which is warming up anyway.

    I’ll tell you what DOES make me laugh about the whole climate change question, even if it isn’t relevant (soz, I can’t remember what the original thread was now!) The Olympics in 2012. Remember how we’re putting in a bid? Well, remember last summer and how it was "too hot for the train tracks"? Firstly, if that’s the case, then surely a hell of a lot of work is going to need doing before 2012. Plus, have they taken into account that average summertime temperatures may be anything up to 20 degrees (fahrenheit; I just can’t get the hang of this Celcius lark) higher than last summer? No doubt they (the government et al) would tell us they have – after all, it isn’t seemly for a government to admit to having not accounted for something. So, do they expect us to believe that the rail tracks which can’t handle normal summertime temperatures are going to be ok for another 20 degrees heat on top of that? Or would they have us believe that all the tracks around London and the SE will all be replaced by then?

    I keenly anticipate some work to start on the rails in London; it might halve my trip to work…

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 12 Aug 2004 on 11:05 pm | Link
  32. Ah you are so RIGHT.But what I am saying is that thing`s MAY be such that if we prepare now we may well lessen the effect`s of whatever happen`s! about climate change.It may be that in the end it may all turn out to the betterment of mankind! who know`s.But if what some say is only part right, the sheer misery that so many million`s/billion`s will face must be thought of now.Surly there are some that MUST be able to predict some sort of an answer!.I see that the GREAT ice sheet on Greenland which has been study for decades has in the last 3 year`s melted by 11 feet, 7 of those feet in the last year.Source B.B.C. news 24 just last week. Of course they is an upside (some might say)the South pole on it`s outer reaches/coastline see very little snow let alone ice now.If it does it does not last long!.That open`s it right up to the five nation`s that own it.(Well it was 5 unless someone else has been given a share!).We have by all account`s one of the most promising area`s of the South pole as regard`s oil/mineral`s.Watch this space!.The reason we have a bit of the South pole is that we are one of the countries that face directly on to the South pole.

    Comment by george dutton — 12 Aug 2004 on 11:43 pm | Link
  33. George, the environment is one of my own biggest bugbears and the failure of governments to act since the 80s (when we started to become aware of global warming) has left me so cynical that even if nothing else kills me, I feel sure the heat will in the next 20 years. Because you know and I know that no government will do a thing – until it is already too late, and even then they will be thinking of themselves and not the greater good of the whole world. C’est la vie. Or death, either way…!

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 13 Aug 2004 on 1:35 am | Link
  34. I KNOW you are right,but I`ve got to TRY.

    Comment by george dutton — 13 Aug 2004 on 9:37 am | Link
  35. Getting the US to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol is probably THE single most important issue which will happen over the next 50 years. We know this will never happen with Brush in charge, and I think it’s another example of how non-special our "special relationship" with the US really is. If we had so much clout as Bliar has always liked to point out, how comes he hasn’t managed to persuade Brush to make SOME concessions, even if it is just to reverse some of the damage he has caused since being in office? I know that may be a trifle simplistic, but big issues are made up of lots of smaller ones.

    Comment by PapaLazzzaru — 13 Aug 2004 on 4:34 pm | Link
  36. I agree with that.It must be remembered how long it took the U.S.A.to come into both W.W.1 and 2.And what about Suez!.

    Comment by george dutton — 13 Aug 2004 on 10:52 pm | Link
  37. It all about countries carrying out there commitment to Kyoto! Over the next few year`s you will see country after country failing to achieve the target`s as laid down.

    Comment by george dutton — 14 Aug 2004 on 12:21 pm | Link

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