Britain’s Leftist Open Borders Zealots Have Turned Migrants And Refugees Into Political Pawns

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The migrant crisis is too great an opportunity to ignore for many virtue-signalling members of Generation Me, Me, Me

Brendan O’Neill hits the nail on the head with his latest criticism of sanctimonious celebrity campaigners for open borders, in a piece entitled “You’re so vain, you think the refugee crisis is about you”.

O’Neill writes:

Narcissism runs through the discussion. The question these refugees raise is ‘What kind of people do we want to be?’, says one columnist. The keyword here: ‘we’. On the supposedly pro-refugee side, the game of self-reflection has been intense. Witness Allen’s TV-camera tears when she was chatting to an Afghan boy in Calais, after which the entire discussion became about her. Her image was everywhere. There was a thinkpiece war, some saying ‘Allen was right’, others saying ‘Allen was wrong’. It became about the role of celebrities in public life and whether emotionalism has a part to play in political decision-making, with the migrants reduced to mere objects of our self-reflection, and our tears, not the subjects of their own story.

Then there was Stella Creasy, the self-promoting Labour MP, interviewed in the London Evening Standard, promising to stand up for these child migrants regardless of how much flak she will get (shorter version: ‘I am brave’). The piece was accompanied by a massive picture of Creasy: no image of refugees, just her, because this is about her, not them. Then the story became all about Lineker, after he tweeted his concern for the refugees and was blasted by the Sun for doing so. What is the role of BBC people if not to be morally switched-on, a thousand op-ed scribblers asked, because this is about the Beeb, and the media, and us, not them. Jeremy Corbyn got stuck into the discussion of ‘what kind of people we want to be’ by praising Allen and Lineker for showing ‘Britain at its best’. It was a surreal illustration of the evacuation of substance and seriousness from public debate and their replacement by The Spectacle, largely of emotion: a political leader hailing media representations of sorrow for migrants over anything solid or concrete in relation to the actual lives of the actual migrants.

The media discussion has provided a striking insight into what being pro-migration largely means today: that you – the keyword being ‘you’ – are compassionate. Migrants are latched on to, not because of a genuine commitment to the idea of free movement (witness Creasy saying of course some migrants will have to be kept out), but rather as a means of self-distinction. To be pro-migrant is to be superior to those badly informed Others, who have a name now: Brexiteers. This is why so much of the child-refugee discussion has become bound up with Brexit-bashing. ‘What do we see each morning, post-Brexit, when we look in the mirror?’, asked a Guardian columnist of the child-refugee situation (keyword: ‘mirror’). He says we see a nation ‘hollowed out in terms of compassion’, but of course he means that is what ordinary, ugly, Brexit-voting Brits see in the mirror, not the migrant-loving Brits at the Guardian.

My emphasis in bold.

To be fair, Brendan also accuses many of the most strident anti-migrant voices of the same sin; I do not want to misrepresent his piece. But then Brendan O’Neill and Spiked (bless them) are enthusiastic advocates for completely open borders and the free movement of people everywhere – “it doesn’t matter if they’re kids, teens or adults: the length of their journey and the strength of their desire to live and work on Britain are surely sufficient to grant them access” – an idea rather ahead of its time (not to mention politically toxic so long as such disparities of wealth, culture and values persist).

But Brendan is absolutely right to note that the people of the Calais Jungle – genuine refugees and economic migrants alike – have largely been become political pawns in the ongoing British immigration debate. What matters to many people is how they are seen to talk about the migrant crisis rather than there being found an effective solution – as we saw only this week when Labour MP Chi Onwurah got upset about a poster mocking leftist credulity about migrants posing as refugees, claiming that it was “offensive” when it in no way targeted genuine child refugees.

O’Neill also writes perceptively of the “moral thrill” experienced by many of the “let them all in” camp, and indeed you see it coursing through numerous posts on social media, the intent of many seems far more to do with aggrandising the poster than trying to reach a reasonable compromise with those who do not want to let every last person into Britain unquestioningly.

But to his criticism of the political right:

The narcissism of the other side is striking, too. It is hard to believe that these right-leaning observers really believe that 70 young people coming to Britain will have any kind of terrible impact. And yet they demand that the arrivals’ teeth be checked to see how old they are, and furiously tweet photos of the young men with adolescent moustaches and mobile phones as if to say: ‘See! They’re grown-up! They’re dangerous!’ This is a performance of toughness, of security, to match the performance of compassion of the other side. Just as the pro-refugee side sidelines serious debate about freedom of movement and the role of their beloved EU and its Fortress Europe in creating this crisis, so the anti-refugee side dodges difficult questions of what is really causing a sense of insecurity in 21st-century Europe in favour of turning a handful of young refugees into symbols of existential disarray. Indicators, symbols, mirrors – that’s all these people are, to both sides.

I don’t see it that way at all. While some people do demand that Britain stop accepting any further refugees, a majority would be happy, I believe, if the UK government was simply a little less credulous and a bit more discerning about the people we do accept – both as to their age and the validity of their status as refugees rather than economic migrants.

The pictures do not lie – many of those already brought to Britain from the dismantled Calais Jungle camp are clearly adults. Does that automatically mean that they are not deserving of help? No, and I don’t think that anybody serious has claimed otherwise. But if this country is accepting fully grown men who claim to be children, what is to say that other levels of scrutiny which are supposedly taking place – like checking that entrants are not violent jihadists – are any more reliable? If the UK government is squeamish about insisting that child refugee applicants submit to dental tests to verify their age, have they also been reticent to ask whether the people they are ferrying from Calais to Croydon intend to wage jihad from inside their adoptive country? The incompetence we have already seen rightly makes us wonder about the incompetence which is being kept hidden from us.

These are perfectly legitimate questions to ask, and they do not constitute virtue signalling in the same way that the Left have seized on the migrant crisis to portray themselves as saints and the rest of us as sinners. Particularly in the context of the recent bloody history of ISIS using the migration crisis as a cover to slip Islamist extremists into Western countries, a basic level of scrutiny should be one of the first duties of government – yet there is now legitimate cause to fear that this scrutiny is not being applied for fear of causing “offence”, either to the migrants themselves or (more likely) to their powerful left-wing cheerleaders.

And here’s the thing.

Far right-wing rhetoric may be much more unpleasant to the ear than trendy lefty dronings about a borderless world of people holding hands beneath a rainbow. But leftist rhetoric and actions when it comes to the migrant crisis have killed far more people than anything said or done by those who are sceptical of accepting every last economic migrant who fancies a new life in Britain.

It was the leftist cheerleaders of Angela Merkel’s “open doors” policy who encouraged thousands more people to make the treacherous journey across Europe, some in genuine fear of imminent harm but many simply seeking a better life.

It was the leftist campaigners who accused sceptics of heartlessness for wanting to start turning boats back as a disincentive to make perilous the sea voyage who tacitly encouraged many more people to do so, and drown in the process.

And it was the false hope given by leftist agitators that Britain would ultimately accept a trumped-up moral obligation to accept thousands of people already enjoying the protection of France, hardly the most dangerous country in the world, which encouraged even more people to flock to the Jungle and remain there.

And yet we are supposed to believe that open borders zealots and sceptics are equally at fault when it comes to virtue signalling about the migrant crisis? Absolutely not. Exploiting migrants and refugees to burnish their own compassion credentials is the Left’s bread and butter, and it is an emotional comfort blanket whose cost can be measured in human lives.

So let’s not pretend that there is any moral equivalency in terms of blame for the suffering of migrants holed up in Calais. There is none. This is a crisis manufactured by the Left and encouraged by the Left for the benefit of the Left. They own it.

And all of Lily Allen’s tears will not wash away their culpability.

 

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German Politicians, Drunk On Power, Prepare A Fresh Assault On Free Speech

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German social media users test their leaders’ patience by exercising awkward, unruly free speech at their own peril

German politicians, ever anxious to squash strident criticism of their unilateral and, uh, somewhat controversial decision to expand the population by nearly a million migrants and refugees in the space of a year, are rounding on social media companies to strike another blow on already-constrained freedom of speech in Europe.

From Deutsche Welle:

Volker Kauder, a member of German Chancellor Merkel’s CDU, has said Facebook should pay for failing to remove online hate comments. There has been a surge in xenophobic posts as refugees have arrived over the last year.

Speaking to German magazine “Der Spiegel,” Kauder said: “The time for roundtables is over. I’ve run out of patience.” He said if companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter failed to remove offensive comments within a week of them being posted, they should be penalized with a 50,000 euro ($54,490) fine.

Social media websites needed to rethink their strategy, he said. “Otherwise, I have another suggestion. Cigarette packs always carry a warning that smoking can be dangerous. Why don’t we ask these [social network] providers to carry a warning on their websites, saying: ‘Anyone who communicates here must expect insulting remarks,'” Kauder said.

Kauder also insisted that the justice ministry should demand that the companies submit the IP addresses of people who posted hate messages on social networks.

Because heaven forfend that politicians should have to explain their decisions and win support for their actions (or better yet, follow the will of the people in the first place once in awhile). Far better to simply make it increasingly difficult for people to register their boisterous dissent.

Note the language. Kauder has “run out of patience”, suggesting that free speech in Germany is something granted to citizens at the sufferance of their thin-skinned leaders rather than an inalienable right. And of course that is exactly how it is in Germany, and most of Europe (including Britain). If some jumped-up politician decides that the civil discourse has become too un-civil – or, let’s be realistic too critical of them – then it is perfectly legitimate for them to turn the screws on private companies to shut it down.

Note too the ludicrous “public health” defence creeping into politicians’ language. One interpretation of Kauder’s threat to slap a mandatory trigger warning on the home pages of social networks is that he thinks so little of the German people’s intelligence that he genuinely believes they might currently be unaware that websites where political issues are discussed may contain opinions with which they disagree. That is one interpretation. But the other one (and the correct one in my view) is that it is simply a way of trying to hurt private enterprise for not bending the knee and doing government’s bidding.

Stephen Fuchs of the German-American culture blog German Pulse shares the same suspicions:

Do I think Germany is out of line to expect a level of cooperation to remove highly offensive posts once reported? No, not entirely. Where I begin to disagree though comes when any government starts policing excessively to the point where our outlets for expression become restricted by a set of rules that make any level of opinion a bannable offense.

How long until Germany pushes Facebook to delete any negative comments or opinions about a certain political party or candidate?

Negative remarks about refugees are deemed hate speech in Germany, but what about the negative remarks about Merkel’s refugee policies? Should we expect Facebook or Twitter to delete those immediately as well?

Maybe the government would be better off addressing the real issues that lead to the divisiveness, instead of playing the “you hurt my feelings” game online.

This is why free speech needs to be an absolute and indivisible right. It is a fragile freedom, with the slightest infringement causing a crack which easily grows and fractures our entire right to self expression. And while some (like Fuchs) may find it distasteful, the battle for freedom of speech must be fought at the unpalatable margins. Only by defending the rights of the racist to spew their bile about Syrian refugees can we be confident of preserving the upstanding citizen’s right to criticise German immigration policy without fear or expectation of censorship.

And as German Pulse rightly points out, no one step, no new draconian crackdown on freedom of expression is ever enough – just as one new health warning on cigarettes sugary food is never enough for the public health police. Individuals and companies cede more of their rights and autonomy, and it only ever emboldens the state to demand yet more.

Demanding that social media companies submit the IP addresses of users who post “hateful messages”to the justice ministry suggests that the German government (or at least significant factions within the ruling Christian Democratic Union) aims to become much more proactive in their persecution of thought and speechcrime. Why dream of building a massive database of social media users who type unacceptable keywords or are reported for causing “offence” by their thin-skinned peers unless you plan on unleashing some kind of retribution on them in response?

This is yet another dark day for free speech in Europe, but perhaps there is an upside – Theresa May will be able to find so much common cause with Angela Merkel over their mutual contempt for basic civil liberties that their shared authoritarianism could yet grease the wheels of the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

 

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No Amount Of ‘Education’ Will Make Sceptical Europeans Love The EU

What to do when the continent’s biggest military power and second-largest economy decides to leave your crumbling, tarnished and perennially unwanted supranational political union? Finally consider meaningful reforms? Engage in a sincere listening exercise? Devolve power back to nation states and local communities? Do anything, anything at all, to signal that the European Union might be something that works for the people rather than something which is done to them?

Of course not. When faced with incontrovertible evidence that citizens are starting to rebel en masse against the idea of shared sovereignty, dissolving borders and supranational government, clearly the correct thing to do is to declare that European citizens simply don’t understand the wonderful gift bequeathed to them, and then pledge to funnel more money towards their re-education.

From the Guardian:

The European commission will spend tens of millions more euros promoting the ideal of the EU citizen, in defiance of British ministers, under plans drawn up by officials in Brussels in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Officials for the European parliament claim there is now a clear need for a significant increase in spending on the Europe for Citizens (EFC) programme, which aims to foster the notion of an EU citizenry. The programme had its budget cut from €215m (£185m) to €185.5m (£159m) after a request from Britain in 2013.

“Considering the current political climate, in which an increasing number of citizens question the foundations of the EU, decisive action is indispensable,” an assessment of the programme by officials in the European parliament reports.

“It is for this reason that the reduction in funding for the EFC programme is a serious handicap to successful implementation: to reiterate, the budget for the current EFC programme is €185.5m (down from €215m under the previous programme), which amounts to merely 0.0171% of the EU multiannual financial framework.”

The aim of EFC is said to be that of developing “a better understanding” of the EU across all its member states, to fund remembrance events for key moments in European history and combat scepticism about the EU project.

The assessment document says that funding “which promotes and enables citizens to engage in European matters is of vital importance, especially in times when Euroscepticism is on the rise”.

This only emphasises the degree to which the European Union is an answer to a question which was never even asked. If the various peoples of Europe had gradually come to realise over the course of the 20th century that they shared such a common heritage of laws, language, culture and strategic interests that they wanted to institute a shared common government then the EU or something like it would have developed organically.

But of course no such thing happened – the idea of supranational political union was artificially imposed on European people largely by stealth and in secret over the course of many decades. And while many members of the European political elite get misty-eyed over the EU, the majority of its citizens tolerate rather than welcome this extra layer of government. The flag and the anthem are utterly meaningless to most of the EU’s 510 million citizens – the spine does not stiffen nor the heart quicken at the sight of the twelve stars or the strains of “Ode to Joy”. And unlike the American founding fathers, the secretive “founders” of the EU are unknown, unloved and languish in richly-deserved obscurity.

The hard truth for the euro-federalists is that no amount of money spent on “education” will make people fall in love with the European Union. Love of family, community and country is something which must well up from within; it cannot be successfully imposed by external agents. And likewise, if people do not feel instinctively European over and above their distinct national identities, a true European demos cannot be created – despite the best efforts of the European Union’s architects to defy both human nature and democracy.

Double the peak budget and spend another €215m on idealising the European Union and creating uncritical, misleading propaganda and it will still make no difference, save lining the pockets of opportunistic “cultural” and “artistic” parasites who will happily take taxpayer money to plaster the EU logo over their concerts, plays and workshops.

In other words, it is the perfect EU project. Just don’t expect it to make the slightest bit of difference to anything at all.

 

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Banning The Burqa And Burkini Is Not The Correct Liberal Response To Conservative Islam

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In a liberal democracy, government has no business dictating what clothing is or is not acceptable to wear – and banning the burqa or burkini only further delays the long-overdue day of reckoning between conservative Islam and modern Muslim women

France is now taking its official ban of the burqa one step further, as the mayor of Cannes announces a ban on burkini beachwear on the grounds that the concealing garment poses a security risk.

The New York Times reports:

The mayor of the French resort city of Cannes has barred women from bathing on public beaches in swimsuits that reveal too little skin.

At issue are the full-body, head-covering garments worn in the water by some Muslim women, which have been nicknamed burkinis, an amalgam of burqa and bikini. The mayor’s ban has drawn protests from French Muslims who say it is discriminatory.

That the debate is occurring on the Riviera, the Mediterranean vacation area that has been on edge since the terrorist attack on a Bastille Day celebration in nearby Nice, has only added to the controversy.

Critics of the ban say it risks deepening rifts with France’s Muslims. It is the latest example of the long-running tensions between France’s forceful — some say inconsistent — commitment to secularism and the desire of many Muslims to express traditional values like modesty through their attire.

The mayor’s ordinance, which runs until Aug. 31, bars people from entering or swimming at the city’s public beaches in attire that is not “respectful of good morals and secularism” and that does not respect “rules of hygiene and security.” Offenders risk a fine of 38 euros, or about $42.

Why are burkinis against the rules? “Beach attire that ostentatiously displays a religious affiliation, while France and places of worship are the target of terrorist acts, is likely to create risks to public order,” the ordinance says.

If this were being done in a public place on the grounds of security, the mayor of Cannes would be in a much stronger position, and would gain this blog’s sympathy, particularly after the appalling terrorist truck attack in Nice on Bastille Day. There is a very logical and powerful argument to be made against the prohibition on wearing any overtly concealing clothing when entering public buildings such as town halls, courts, public schools, parks or beaches, just as motorcycle owners are asked to remove their helmets before entering a bank branch.

But the mayor of Cannes has taken this action with specific reference not to security, but in the name of  laïcité (the separation of church and state). We know this because French government officials have explicitly said so:

This costume [the burkini], Mr Lisnard [the mayor] declared, “ostentatiously displays religious affiliation”, could “disrupt public order”, and might even, in the words of one official, demonstrate “an allegiance to terrorist movements”.

Now secular government is broadly a very good thing, and societies become more free as they cast off the remaining vestiges of theocracy – one of the reasons that this blog is so keen to get rid of the Lords Spiritual and remove Britain from Iran’s company as the only countries where unelected theocrats sit in the legislature by right.

However, while citizens – even those of faith – should absolutely demand secularism from their government, it does not follow that the government can unjustly impose secularism on the people as they go about their lives. That would be a grave wrong, and the growing movement to ban the burqa represents an abuse of power by governments against their own citizens.

The Telegraph’s Juliet Samuel agrees:

Now it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for the burkini. It harks back to an age, still dominant in much of the world, when a woman’s worth was measured by her modesty. It belongs to a belief system in which women cannot experience one of the joys of the natural world – feeling the wind and sea on her body. It suggests that the female form is shameful and provocative. But those who want to ban the burkini for these reasons are forgetting one of the most important values of a free society: we don’t all have to believe the same thing in order to live together.

Every day, thousands of Britons wake up and do things I think are crazy and wrong. They drink instant coffee, listen to Magic FM and wear Spandex. Some wear high heels or bowties. Others have plastic surgery, get tattoos, cheat on their spouses, drink too much, shout too much and vote Labour. They get their news from Facebook and watch hours of trashy TV. Many of them pray to a god, convert to Buddhism, believe in crystal healing or sing in Church on Sundays with their eyes closed and their arms in the air. I don’t do or understand any of these things. But I let them get on with it.

[..] Like a theocratic regime, the Cannes burkini ban forces some Muslim women to choose between their religious and their national identity and perniciously suggests that their choice of dress is a political statement, whether they mean it to be or not. It is unsurprising that the French should lead the way in this kind of thinking, because in France nothing is allowed until the law permits it, whereas in Britain, everything is allowed until the law forbids it. So, in the name of enforced secularism, France forbids covering the face in any public setting, whether it’s for religion or Hallowe’en, and bans religious symbols like hijabs (hair coverings) in state institutions such as schools. The burkini ban takes this illiberal trend even further by making it illegal to wear “ostentatious” religious symbols even when going about one’s own private business.

[..] A normal Muslim, who has grown up seeing a hijab as an unremarkable but important symbol of womanhood, finds herself forced to choose between respect for the law and her family’s everyday customs. Is this senseless, banal and brutal ban more likely to awaken a hidden feminist creed and a love of La République in her heart or to make her feel attacked and excluded from mainstream society?

Strong societies cannot permit parallel legal or political systems, such as Sharia courts or caliphates. But they can cope with differences in dress and customs. They should not allow obstructive religious clothing like face‑coverings to disrupt teaching or court hearings. But if a Muslim woman wants to wear a baggy wetsuit and go for a swim on a public beach, that does not make her a threat to Western society. The real enemies of freedom are not the burkini-wearers, but the politicians who want to ban them.

Amen to this. Samuel is quite right to fear the politicians over the burkini-wearers, even if we may disagree with their sartorial and religious motivations. Indeed, we should fear any further legitimisation of the idea that our rights derive from the state, who can suspend our freedoms at will in the name of “security”.

One of the most alarming things about this century has been the rejuvenation of authoritarianism, spurred on by the growing threat of Islamist terror. Whether it is manifested in airport security theatre, the banning of religious jewellery or other symbols from the workplace or the dystopian suppression of free speech in universities, public squares and social media, we have become markedly less free in sixteen years with precious little to show for it.

But more than all of that, if we are serious about tackling the skewed ideology and belief system which preaches that women must be modest to the point of having to bathe fully clothed, then a government ban is the absolute worst way to go.

Such a diktat of law effectively exonerates conservative Islam (or fundamentalists of other religions) from any responsibility to reform and recognise the equality of women, gay people and other minority groups. Ban the burqa (or burkini) and conservative Muslims may obey. But not only will they immediately be able to portray themselves as victims in the process, claiming persecution for their religious beliefs, they will be under no further internal pressure to reconsider and reform centuries-old religious diktats in the changed context of modern society.

If we want a world where the burqa is relegated to fringe extremists and museums, then the pressure must come primarily from Muslim women. Only when they demand their right to dress as they please and force the reluctant accommodation of religious authorities will they be able to win the parity of treatment which has been missing for so long.

The job of Western governments in all of this is not to interfere or seek to be a white knight, banning the burqa or burkini on the behalf of oppressed women. Government’s role is to make sure that Muslim women have full access to the legal system to sue for their equal treatment in court where it is being infringed, and to clamp down insidious efforts to set up parallel justice systems based on Sharia law or any other religious code instead of shamefully welcoming them in the name of “multiculturalism”.

We should be encouraging a more liberal form of Islam to prevail over the more oppressive and fundamentalist conservative wings. We need more Ahmadis and others like them, openly tolerant of other faiths and proudly patriotic. And when these groups of progressive Muslims are attacked we should stand shoulder to shoulder with them rather than shamefully currying favour with their persecutors in the name of “multiculturalism”.

But ultimately, this is an internal enlightenment which must take place within Islam. It is not the job of provincial mayors in France or government departments in Britain to “rescue” their female Muslim citizens from oppression; nor would any such rescue hold any legitimacy. Western society can take certain actions to encourage this revolution among its Muslim communities, but ultimately the heavy lifting must be done by Muslim women standing up to claim their own full rights as citizens.

Widespread bans on the burqa or burkini may make us feel good or even allow some of us to burnish our feminist credentials, but that is the only good that they will accomplish. And meanwhile, the long-overdue day of reckoning between modern Muslim women and the conservative wing of the Islamic faith will be deferred indefinitely, to everyone’s cost.

 

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Police Should Spend Less Time Persecuting Citizens For Free Speech Offences And More Time Serving Communities

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Our police forces should be knitting communities together and keeping them safe, not prancing around in military gear and threatening citizens who dare to express themselves on social media

A heartbreaking (or heartwarming, depending on your perspective) story from Rome forces us to ask stark questions of our own society, the way we treat our elderly compatriots and the proper community role of the police.

From the Evening Standard:

Kindly police officers came to the aid of an elderly Italian couple after neighbours called emergency services when they were heard crying in their apartment – because they were so lonely.

Officers rushed to the flat in the Appio area of Rome after nearby residents heard shouting and crying coming from inside, and found and 84-year-old Jole, and her 94-year-old husband Michele.

The couple said they had not been victims of crime, but were overcome by emotion after watching sad stories on the news.

The pair, who have been married for 70 years, said they had not had visitors for a long time and were very lonely.

While they waiting for an ambulance to arrive to check the couple over, the officers prepared a hot meal.

They then sat down to have a chat while the elderly couple ate the spaghetti with butter and parmesan they had prepared.

More:

The police force said on its Facebook page: “Especially when the city empties and the neighbors are away on holiday, sometimes loneliness dissolves into tears.

“It can happen, as this time, that someone screams so loud from despair that eventually, someone calls the State Police.

“There is not a crime. Jole and Michele are not victims of scams and no thief entered the house – there is no one to save.

“This time, for the boys, there is a more daunting task – two lonely souls who need reassuring.”

Meanwhile, what do our police spend their time doing?

Well, no day is complete without threatening members of the public. Greater Glasgow Police in particular love to ostentatiously warn people that they are lurking on Twitter and Facebook 24/7, ready to pounce the moment anybody posts something deemed the least bit capable of causing offence.

And London’s own wonderful Metropolitan Police also love nothing more than turning up on the doorstep of people who dare to tweet the “wrong” opinions and sentiments, hauling them away to the police station and delivering them to the hands of the criminal justice system.

But never let it be said that the Met Police never leave their comfortable office desks. A new batch of them have recently acquired dystopian-looking, military grade combat uniforms and strutted their stuff before Britain’s news cameras in some kind of perverse authoritarian fashion parade. Ostensibly this new armed response unit is intended to keep us safer from Islamist terror attacks mentally ill people, though doubtless we will soon see the same militarised response to other, less violent incidents too. As is so often when it comes to the militarisation of the police, where America leads, Britain duly follows.

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Meanwhile, communities go unpatrolled and some become no-go areas. Local police, either swamped with paperwork or too busy hounding innocent citizens for daring to exercise their right to free speech online, refuse to show up to cases of reported vandalism or burglary (though they mysteriously appear within minutes if a speech or thoughtcrime is reported by some beady-eyed public collaborator).

And to add insult to injury, we now live in a country where the idea of the police carting you away for something you write on Facebook seems perfectly normal, while the idea of the police coming to cook a meal for a lonely elderly couple is so rare that it makes the news headlines when it happens in another country.

Local Police and Crime Commissioners do not seem to have had much of an effect, though at this early stage it is difficult to be sure whether this is due to a lack of powers, regulatory capture by the police forces they are supposed to control or garden variety incompetence. And so here we are.

Is this the police force that we really want?

Is this the policing strategy that actually knits communities together, making them happier and safer?

Absolutely not. It would be very interesting to see a force-by-force breakdown of the number of police officers, civilian staff and other resources devoted to monitoring and curtailing the free speech rights and other civil liberties of Britons. And then immediately shutting down those statist, authoritarian programmes and diverting all of the freed resources to more worthy causes, like helping to tackle old age loneliness.

We’re not talking about police officers cooking roast dinners instead of catching criminals, but surely it should not be beyond the wit of man for police to act as an intermediary, perhaps connecting isolated elderly couples they come across in their work to suitable neighbours who could check in with them once in a while, or provide much needed regular social visits. The police already work with AgeUK to tackle scam criminals and improve home security. There is no reason why this collaboration could not be greatly extended.

At present, we have a police force of two extremes – small numbers of highly militarised officers, armed to the teeth with every counter-assault weapon one can possibly imagine, and a much larger force who seem unable to respond to garden variety crime in an acceptable way, and who are all too rarely visible on the streets.

If local, county and national government is serious about improving police-community relations, they could do far worse than by immediately ordering a halt to the nasty, frivolous and often arbitrary persecution of individuals on free speech and “hate crime” grounds and diverting those funds and resources to a much more worthy cause – helping to tackle the growing problem of old age loneliness in our society.

 

Postscript: You can donate to Age UK here.

 

Greater Glasgow Police - THINK - Social Media - Police State - Free Speech

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