Sunday, 22 April 2018

Compensate The Conscripts

The Windrush row is replete with grim ironies. Not least is the passenger ship that gave its name to the whole business, the Empire Windrush, was built in Hamburg named "Monte Rosa" and served the German navy during World War Two.

The UK took it as reparations and needed extra troopships in the late 1940's to return troops from abroad and send out different ones to clear up the many messes of Empire, other wars, as well as being ready for a hot war to start during the Cold War.

The years of the "Windrush Generation" which we are told by our modern media was the shock horror of its time coincides with the period of conscription in which millions of British men were required to do their duty by their King/Queen with no questions asked. The labour shortages that resulted meant recruiting migrants.

Some did not return, see the picture above, others were damaged for the rest of their lives. Essentially, the conscripts lost two years of income, job experience, family or other personal life and might experience horrors rather beyond those of migrants from the West Indies inconvenienced by administrative errors.

A key to all the trouble today is the question of the landing cards  thought to be lost or scrapped. High words and allegations have been made. Now, it turns out to the astonishment of all they could be in the National Archives.

As someone who often has a look in these on the web and in the past has searched for a great deal of information there, one can only have a sense of wonder of a civil service that failed to check its own archive before making its blunders, never mind the politicians.

In the period in question the Brit's had to have their documents, birth certificates and marriage, military discharge papers etc. as routine. The Inland Revenue, the banks and other offices would often ask to see them. Some of the Windrush Generation did not have basic documentation as in the colonies among the local populations they might be ignored.

In the UK now if you want to find out what grandad or a relative was actually doing and where during their National Service you may be out of luck. It was the age before computers and such machines. The amount of paperwork handled by the armies of clerks was vast. What happened to it?

When in the Army at my unit I was the Lord High Chief Incinerator. As when mobilised we could only take what we could carry then nothing had to be left behind. As my chief preferred me to be out of the office it fell to me to do the burning. What was in the files or such was of no matter, up in smoke it went.

During my later career, especially local government reorganisation, these skills were regarded as an asset. Shredding took for too much time, just dumping meant needed places to dump it. So we burned all that could be burned keeping only essential minutes and planning permissions, if I felt like it.

So the unlucky ones of the Windrush Generation, particularly those from locations where the registrations of births and marriages was skimpy, if at all there or could be accessed, were the ones where the paperwork was missing. They were but a small minority in a nation of losers.

What this issue does attract attention for is the chance to claim racism and of the British in general. This period was a different world. You disliked anyone who was not the same as you or your family. I recall yes there was racism and prejudice and in many ways, especially if looking for "digs" or a room to rent.

It was common to see "No Blacks" in the windows of rental etc. places. They usually followed the "No Irish". Given World War 2 few had "No Jews" but they did not find that out until they knocked on the door and were told that the room(s) had just been taken.

In London those with strong Geordie, Scots or Liverpool accents could have trouble. In the Army God help a cockney posted to the Durham Light Infantry. That was the way it was. You might suffer from it yourself, but then equally you might make others suffer.

You might be equal in your kind, but your kind was never equal to others. Except, perhaps in the Army when the bullets were flying.

There are not many left of that generation now and fewer by the day. Why not give compensation, if only to assuage the conscience?

Thursday, 19 April 2018

A Taxing Question

In another blog a while back the writer accused the HMRC of playing "silly tax games" in its pursuit of raising tax from business corporations in a world with many tax havens inviting them to locate financial operations there.

Below is the comment I made, one in which I had a rare sympathy for the tax man.


In your post you use the phrase "silly tax games", they are neither silly nor games. HMRC has been obliged to adopt a more forward and determined approach in dealing with major corporations, many international, to collect the taxes due.

There is real pressure on HMRC because governments have been increasing spending and taking on more liabilities. But what too many simply do not realise is the extent and rapidity of change in recent years, especially the politicians and also their leading civil servants.

The corporations on the other hand are able to move far more quickly and they can reorganise and put in place the teams of very able people on substantial earnings that will do the job on systems that are newer and better than those of HMRC.

The accidents of history have created a network of "independent" jurisdictions that are a flexible and ready to enable the movement of money, ownerships, titles to property and the rest to the advantage of these corporations. This is about wealth, who owns and runs it, power, politics and control.

When the corporations own so much and fund the politics, our Prime Minister when at her breakfast table confers with her husband financier, then the servants of the public, such as the HMRC are at another disadvantage.

For the rest of us, we have the problem of what sort of economy are we going to have to provide our needs when this collapses.


Now thrive the armourers.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Rooms To Unlet

Down the decades, indeed centuries, the word "Landlord" has always been one that produces an adverse reaction. There are many uses of land with many wanting to use it and so those who are the legal owners become landlords. In the 18th Century I suspect my tenant farmers could have been at odds with the gentry class.

Rather later, I recall my parents, who liked to welcome and enjoy the company of friends and neighbours, did not like it when the landlord called, especially when he persisted shouting "I know you are there" while we hid in the attic. As a student, I needed landlords, but many of them made it clear that they did not need me.

There was a time when a high proportion of the population rented, none of that lets make everyone a property owner business then. So the politics of the period meant a party that would "control" rents or promised only to allow "fair" rents etc. meant all the parties bidding for the mass votes of those for whom renting was the only way to have living space.

Having lurched about the property markets to promote mass ownership and that becoming rapidly unstuck and having consigned a good many to what is effectively debt slavery we are back to the business of renting being necessary for many. Bash the landlords is back on the agenda.

This is now complicated by the fact that in the longer past the tension was between Brit's of various kinds. In the 21st Century we have many and various sections with their distinctive ways and means inherited from the places of their origins. One feature is that migrants with money often chose property, those without money, especially refugees, then become almost a servile class.

This means that while landlords are heading back to the top of the bash the rich lists the politics means that potentially there are massive subsidies needed as welfare or other benefits for the rapidly increasing numbers who need and are beholden to the landowners and renters.

None of our parties has any sensible or rational answers to any of this all variously claiming to be promoting property building, helping business, guaranteeing welfare and keeping a lid on rents at the same time when this is clearly impossible.

In the meantime those at the wrong end of are queuing to buy lottery tickets in the faint hope of buying their way out.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Partant Pour La Syrie

Here we go again.

This French anthem says it all in under three minutes.

After over two centuries you think we might learn.

But we do not.

Whatever happened to Napoleon?

Friday, 13 April 2018

Dams And Rivers

There is a fuss about the fiftieth anniversary of a speech given in the West Midlands by the Conservative politician, Enoch Powell, in April of 1968.

In this period many speeches were given by a horde of politicians but he made this one with TV cameras present and not only was it recorded but saved. He warns of the risks of uncontrolled migration in florid terms.

It did not go down well in Westminster and other parts of London or the media. But in Wolverhampton when he turned up in the Director's box at the football ground, the fans on the South Bank gave him a cheer.

Powell was a highly qualified academic, the Classics, a Professor at 25, who had strayed into the upper reaches of the Tory Party, partly by force of intellect but more perhaps due to his ability to get the punters going and bring in the votes. He had a remarkable military career during World War II.

For ordinary people who puzzled over which bunch of grasping charlatans to vote for in this period of the 1960's he was different, a one off as we say today. His classical background had taught him how and where to put the boot in. See Shakespeare's "Coriolanus", show me your wounds.

This did not make him any better, or for that matter, worse. In a time when we were struggling to maintain a new peoples welfare state on the basis of a collapsing industrial structure there were many questions and few sensible answers.

There are things in history which we forget. Enoch Powell had a problem with being taken seriously and may explain his need to take the high ground and play the heavy man. It was the name Enoch.

For the key voting generation at the time there would have been vivid memories of the famous comedy act of earlier years, "We Three In Happidrome, Ramsbottom, Enoch and Me (Lovejoy)" see Youtube. Enoch was the daft one always getting it wrong and a hopeless case.

It explains why that first name dropped off the lists of first names chosen for new males born to proud parents. But poor Enoch Powell was stuck with it.

He really did have a problem of being taken seriously notably with his ideas about the USA being our enemy. So he laid it on like a trowel, as the saying goes.

Try this choice example at two minutes if you want a Labour parallel of sorts, but you may not last.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Paying For Crime

It is being said that the rise in crime, especially those of violence is entirely due to the reductions in numbers of police officers in the various constabularies. 'Ello, 'ello, 'ello, what's all this then? Come along to the station with me and explain.

May I confess that I have missed the boat there. Not realising that there may have been a reduction in the number of squealing police cars belting up the road to the motorway or if not then that is at the expense of feet on the ground in the streets.

The trouble is that here the scope for robbing and attacking shopkeepers is much reduced because so many of them have closed. One would have to go to centres which therefore attracts all those with inclinations to crime. Add to that they will go for the shops which do more business in cash that most.

Another issue is that of the gangs, who they are and where they came from. This is nothing new, it can be seen down the centuries. The famed London Mob of the 18th Century was largely made up of contingents of gangs who at times appeared as one.

With the age of film and TV one of the staples of production have been crime films in which often gangs have been at the centre. Al Capone eat your heart out, or somebody else's. The effect of these has been to glorify this activity to an extent with its appeal to rebellious youth as well as men on the make.

Again down the ages a feature of the composition of gangs has been rival groups of young men. Those who promote migration in principle often do not look at the facts of the figures. A good many migrants, past and present, have a high proportion of young men looking for work and money, and some money without the tiresome work.

Where one culture does not have freedoms of certain kinds, for example the women folk and another does, given the natural propensities of young males with the fare in their pocket, then off they go to places where they hope or think their wildest dreams will be fulfilled. In the 19th Century there were things you could do in Manchester or Manhattan that you could not do in County Mayo.

In the 21st Century, times and peoples have moved on so in our urban areas in the UK the young men are from different places but nowadays we are supposed to welcome all according to the new norms of political correctness. The trouble is that those at the wrong end of it want to know where the police are and what are they for?

In the last few days the failed robbery and the death of the thief at the hands of a very elderly man have produced some interesting questions. Mine is that there were two people being robbed and why have we forgotten the lady. She was also elderly and very frail and obviously her life at serious risk.

So the man is arrested for coming to the defence of his wife and doing unto a robber what the robber was doing to her and him? It is likely he was not charged because I could not have imagined any jury finding him guilty.

But what if we were in a legal system where the judge was bound by the rules that the government had laid down? I wonder if we are not far away from a system where in a similar situation the elderly lady was put to death and her husband also and their estate handed over to the family of the robber?

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Your Descent Is My Ancestry

Back to facts, theories and opinions again. Today, Saturday 7th, the Mail featured a story about how learned scholars had discovered that Her Majesty our Queen has among her ancestors The Prophet Muhammad who died in 632 CE. The Mail claims that it is news.

It is not, this one is something I came across decades ago in a journal specialising in genealogy and pops up every now and again since. The original article had a number of ifs and buts that the regular readers would have been aware of but suggested there was a degree of probability.

There are two different but related matters here. One is the actual trace from parents via all the successive parents before over many generations to see just who is there. Life is full of surprises and many of them are not wanted. The other is demographic statistics, about which I want to keep it very short and simple.

In the parentage the theory is that what is in the records is accurate. But if any other suggestions are true then they may not be the facts. For example, was Queen Victoria the child of The Duke of Kent, or was it one of the footmen? Only DNA can tell and it is possible we will never have that.

The same applies to a number of other monarchs etc. down the ages. I have opinions about Caroline of Brunswick, for example. And many historians have suggested big ifs and buts from a number of parents of the past. Who knows and does it actually matter much?

With the Germanic kings, princes and other elites that we have especially among our Royal's they had extensive connections to the East, especially the Kingdom of Kiev. In turn these go back to strong links with the Byzantines of Constantinople who in turn transacted with Islam in war, business and women.

So a few hundred years of these connections with the rulers of parts of Islam, some of whom were descended either from the Prophet or any relations meant that descent from the Prophet and family could and did happen in the East of Europe and thence to the West.

Which brings us to the stat's. Theoretically, by the 1300's CE the number of child bearing females in the population is less than the total female ancestry of anyone in the UK and Ireland. In short there have to be others and in many cases a lot of them. Add to that the extensive North Sea and Baltic trading of the past etc. and this means that we are not Poles apart.

By the time of Prophet the potential figures are then very big. When this coincides with the growing numbers of his descendants and of his family, there you go. There are now a lot of them about one way or another, possibly most of us, perhaps almost all.

So much for the news, now back to the football, are you related to Albert Stubbins?