Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Craig Oliver, Cameron's director of communications, has been directing his communications towards the Daily Telegraph since they reported the fact that the English Secretary of State for Culture, had claimed £90,000 in expenses for a house inhabited by her parents.

He has reminded the editor of the Telegraph that the minister was at present considering Brain Leveson's Report into the press and has pointed out the poor timing of their revelations. Ewww Er!

Whatever could he mean by that?

Surely not that the minister (one Maria Miller) would be influenced in her decision about press regulation because the Daily Telegraph has released potentially horribly embarrassing information about her?

Nor is this the only contact between the government and the Telegraph on this matter. Fewer than 24 hours before Oliver's intervention, an adviser to the Culture Secretary contacted the reporter working on the story, to remind him of Maria Miller's role in taking the Leveson Report forward, and also phoned the Telegraph's Head of Public Affairs on the same subject.

Mrs Miller has been claiming under the second home allowance for a home in which her parents live, something which is banned under the parliamentary rules. Miller says that her parents are elderly and dependent upon her. On the other hand they say that they are there to look after the children.

The sleaze watchdogs say that if the parents are dependants then they should live in the house funded by the MP, not the one subsidised by the taxpayer. If this is not possible the taxpayer must be financially compensated for the cost involved in their accommodation.

Miller's own home is a modest rented house in her constituency. Her second home, the one paid for by us, is a far grander affair, which the Millers own.

There have been, obviously, calls for Miller to step aside from any involvement in the decision making process related to Leveson, but of course, Cameron, with his  innate understanding of the potential for trouble and ridicule, is standing by her and reportedly has full confidence in her ability to make the correct decision.

Unfortunately, Cameron's confidence may keep her in her job for the moment, but it will not mean that, in this most difficult of situations, the rest of us have any confidence at all in any decision she makes. Particularly not when veiled threats are being made by her, and Cameron's, minions.

It seems to me that Oliver and the advisor at the Culture Ministry (a Miss Hindley by name) may have shown why it is absolutely essential that no matter what comes out of these deliberations, no government minister must ever have any power over the press.

The words "own", "hoist" and "petard" come to mind.

I trust that Scotland will make its own decision on these matters, and not leave them to this bunch of amateur chancers, as has been demanded by all the unionist parties. 

Despite what they all said last week in parliament, it is nothing to do with wanting to be different for the sake of it. Clearly, when something is the responsibility of your government you don't expect another government to do it for you... and secondly, we'd like it done right.


  1. Sadly the SNP also like the idea of a state controlled press ( what could possibly go wrong) so we'll have a Pravda like press here as well.
    Say anything you want on blogs and in the long as it's approved.

  2. Do they Monty? I've not heard that.

  3. Yeah tris , AS wants to follow the Irish example where the Press Council and Ombudsman are hand picked political appointees.

    "The Irish system puts oversight of the regulator in the hands of the relevant Minister. This is currently the Justice Minister Alan Shatter. Such a direct connection is bound to be seen by Leveson as too close a relationship with government "


    "Speaking at a debate in the Scottish Parliament yesterday, the First Minister said whatever type of voluntary self-regulation model was devised by newspapers, it was necessary for Holyrood to set the criteria by which it could be supported by Scots law."


    So you would have what you were highlighting in England. Quiet words to editors that they should back off because they're slagging off someone who can influence and shape the make up of the regulators.

  4. Right well, Monty, thanks for that.

    I don't like the idea of having a minister responsible, but you can't trust the press, so someone has to oversee them.

    So we are left saying who do you trust?

    Answer: No one.

    Who do we distrust the least?

    For me, probably the Scottish courts and the Scottish parliament. (Not a lot, but more than the London government... and Scots law is different from English law, so it would have to be Scottish courts.

    What I certainly don't want is this cretinous woman who appears to think that we should support her whole bloody family. (Get yer granny down and yer great aunt Matilda why don't you?) and who is using, before it even starts, her authority (or supposed authority) to threaten newspapers.

    Hows this then.... You have a very strict code, drawn up by the papers, but put through parliament with only the kind of changes that law officers will make to ensure that it is legal.

    No minister is charged with it, but if a private individual takes a paper to court, and that paper is found to have broken the code/law, then the editor goes to jail for a period commensurate with the hurt caused.

    So that way you leave it in the hands of the public, papers and finally the courts. With the code enshrined in law so that the papers know absolutely what their limits are? And the courts have the right to enforce it?

    How about that?

  5. I must confess I don't like censorship tris so would stick to the libel and common decency laws which would covered things. Oh and free access to courts for less well off people.
    I don't think it should be a right not to be offended.

  6. I guess I'd buy that, Monty, if poor people got the same sort of consideration from the court in these civil cases as the likes of MPs Lords and show business "celebrities" who can afford Carter Ruck, at £5,000 an hour... as opposed to Joe Soap who gets the third rate legal aid duty solicitor (and I know they are not all like that, but they are usually either juniors or dead-weights).

    I don't like censorship either Monty, but I object violently to people like that man at Bristol that the press decided had definitely murdered the estate agent who filled our news for months, just because he was a little unorthodox, or the Dowlers. I can't begin to imagine what these people went through because the NoTW and their likes and their management hadn't even the morals of a bucket of puke.

    Some of the so-called stars, I don't really care much about. They court publicity of any sort eg Jordan and these people from X-Factor who will make themselves into tarts (male or female) to get their names in the paper...then one day it goes wrong, or indeed Diana who used the press shamelessly to get her publicity against Charlie and his bitch.

    But the innocents, we must protect.

  7. The bloke in Bristol went through the libel courts tris and received nearly a million pounds I think it was. Took each paper to court one at a time.

    The Dowlers also received compensation. Hundreds of others are getting compensation from Newscorp.

    Any state backed legislation can be amended at a later date. In Ireland the journalists are worried in case the legislation is amended to force journalists to name their sources.

    The chances of joe bloggs getting onto any of these press council bodies is zero. They would be packed with the usual cronies. Who would pick like minded cronies when seeking replacements.

  8. Intrigue at The Spectator from Fraser Nelson re - press regulation by the state...

    "Alex Salmond is trying to give himself this power in Scotland, and the chilling effect has set in already with an appalling case involving my predecessor at The Scotsman. But more of that later."


  9. Wee boys in suits who still think and act in the terms and culture of the school playground

  10. Yes, Monty. Don't think that I'm in favour of the likes of Alex Salmond having power over what we can print, because I'm absolutely not.

    What I guess I'm saying is that unless we trust the press, someone has to have some sort of power over them. Our problem is that every section in British Society seems to be corrupt.... and in this case, to have vested interests.

    The purpose of the post was actually to show that the person the Brits have put in charge of it (and the unionist parties here want to be in charge of it in our country too) has already shown that she would manipulate the press to have them cover up the fact that she's stolen £90,000 from the taxpayer, (allegedly), and she and her minions want the Telegraph to ditch the story. (Actually, I'm not sure why she's worried about that. Nothing happens to minister who steal money... think about that Smith, the home secretary and her sister's coal shed.)

    I really am aware of how things can be used by politicians. I'd just rather they were OUR politicians than the UK ones.

    I have no faith in the Scotsman, Herald, Courier and Record coming up with something reasonable.

    Remembering that it's about the whole conduct of the press and not just stories about Jordan's 45th facelift, or the fact that someone must be a murderer because he's a quiet intelligent and cultured man, with long grey hair who used to teach at a boys' school. It's also about veracity, and god knows these papers' pages are filled with unsubstantiated crap against the SNP.

    It's not an easy one to solve, when you trust no one to be in charge.

    I take your point that the high profile people got a lot of compensation, but I can't help feeling that the people who allowed these lies to be printed (and in some cases the method of getting information) should be in prison now. Papers (particularly the comic book variety) have massive funds for paying compensation. It's a part of the job for them.

    Hopefully, if (huh) found guilty Call Me Botox's friends Coulson and Brookes will be in the pokey. That said, of course, for them it won't be a normal prison, probably more like a 4 star hotel with home weekends.

  11. Hellow IBSU... Welcome to the blog.

    But I wonder who you were referring to... the papers, the politicians, the UK politicians...

    You could add the police, courts, royals... there's no end of it about.

  12. Let's not forget the spin doctor uttering barely veiled threats from the hinterland of Cameron's office.

    We're his utterances sanctioned by his boss?

    If so then surely the odious bullingdon boy should be considering spending more time with his family. Blackmail and bullying may be all very well in eton but he 's reputedly in the real world now.

    If not then it's time the gingham shirted gangster sought advice from A Campbell on life after drowning st.

  13. Well, that's a nice dream Boorach. Cameron was born to be prime minister. It was his destiny. The fact that he is totally crap at it seems to have nothing to do with it.

    No, like most of his predecessors Cameron will have to be carried screaming from Downing street, muttering about traitors stabbing him in the back.

    In real life, one of them would have to go. Either Cameron or Oliver tried to bribe the Telegraph (or threaten).

    However, I doubt anything will happen. To lose one head of communications would be unfortunate.. to lose two...

    Lord help us. Our future is in the hands of this imbecile.

  14. tris..I don't see it as a case of trusting the press. Any media has an agenda so there can never be any trust. Best to find out the truth for yourself.
    Transferring the balance of control/ power from the media to the government will just skew the manipulation further towards the government.
    Many journalists have ended up in prison. The recent pair from Newscorps for hacking etc.
    If you don't like what newspapers or tv channels say then don't watch or listen. It works fine for me
    Any libel etc are sorted out by the courts. Free access to lawyers for the less well off would be my only change in the status quo.

  15. Me I favour unlimited damages set by the jury and no right of appeal over the amount .
    A few big payouts and it will shut them up or shut them down.

    Oh yeah any retraction should be front page
    Large type and printed for five days

  16. It should not be impossible to set up a watch-dog or dogs without any allegiance to a political party that were acceptable to all the political parties and leave them to get on with it without any ministerial interference or influence?

  17. I think I'm with Monty on this as we have been losing our freedoms slowly over the years so governments need to butt out and he hasn't blamed it on windmills, yet.:)

    I did read somewhere that no one has questioned 'ownership' because it wasn't in Leveson's remit which it should of been.

  18. Hey cynical I thought I did well not mentioning windmills ;)
    But now that you mention them.....a look at the favourable coverage in the media for anything to do with windmills and global warming, with non warmists being vilified, has driven many people to get a more balanced view elsewhere.
    And to take anything the media says on other subjects with a large pinch of salt.

  19. DOH! I tried googling this site ... and accidently typed 'Tris Republic' oops ... took me all day to realise my mistake!

    But on topic: you are absolutely right here. The level of hypocrisy of these ministers is sickening. The disabled are being knee-capped by the bolingdon club bully-boys.

    Benefits slashed, unemployment support for youths (i.e. my age) abolished, burnt or reduced to non-existence.

    New immigration laws forcing young foreign graduates to abandon UK, taking their talents with them ...

    And while they inflict all this (and their idiotic austerity) on the peoples of Britain, they are quietly continuing on with dodgy expenses?!

    You know what? I am pissed off.

    I am 23, I am 'generation rent'. I am 'generation debt' because of their generation of political hacks unability to run a bloody piss up in a brewery.

    You know what more? When I finish my MSc next year I am leaving the UK for good. This place can go and sink. My cousin is already living AND WORKING (that would be nice, you know, a professional career to look forward to) in Australia. Time to join the great Scots expats, 'cos there isn't any future here anymore.

    #A uncharacteristically angry Dean signing out#


  20. Well Monty, I started off saying I don't want the politicians involved, and I stick with that. You have shown me that even our own politicians' response isn't right.

    Still, I'd rather the decisions on this were not made by the British parliament, but here at home.

    I suspect though that if you just trust them to do it themselves the press will start off with good intentions, and then slip back to making money regardless of who they hurt, or kill.

    I don't think that refusing to read them will do much good. We need to know what's going on,and we can't trust the BBC, and a further reduction in circulation will only mean a descent into more sensationalism.

    As I said they don't care about fines. There has to be some form of dealing with senior management that makes them think twice about printing first and checking after.

    The Scotsman episode last week where they said that they had seen a letter which didn't exist is a case in point. That was a total lie. You can't see a letter that doesn't exist... but the threat supposedly contained in this mythical letter was a fingers up to Alex Salmond and was perfect for the paper's policy of putting down nationalism.

    But what has happened to them? have they been punished? No.

    There must be some way we can supervise them without giving the power to them, or the government.

    But I still maintain I don't this Miller female within 100 miles of what will happen in Scotland. She has already proved her unworthiness.

  21. Niko: It would only work if the payments were huge.

    I remember reading many years ago that someone at the NoTW or the Sun, had said that it was worth it in advertising revenue and sales to fork out money from time to time on liable cases.

    I still say the editor should be liable for a prison sentence, like chief executives are at the moment for negligence in H&S issues.

    I completely agree about retractions.


  22. Smart thinking, John.

    Have you any idea who would be on it, (I mean what kind of people, taken from where, not their actual names obviously.)


  23. Dean. Little Munguin has gone in the huff! He's going to beat you around the head with his rosette!

    I'd agree with you. If you are well qualified, have no particular ties and have a bit of get up and go, that is exactly what you should do.

    Loads of people are now. It's not just the non-EU graduates who are leaving at the end of their degrees without putting anything back (my friend from Malaysia has to leave by the end of the year), many young graduated are off out of the UK.

    Clearly many English/Welsh people will be leaving BEFORE their degrees in future, because £27,000 is a lot of money to pay for your course (by European standards).

    So I don't blame you. Life in places like Canada and Australia is beyond belief compared with here.

    I'm going to allow myself a little self congratulatory pat on the back. People who could belong to a drinking/dining club at Oxford where the costume cots more than the average salary, and where the idea is to wreck the restaurant, and pay for a new one the next day, don't really have any comprehension of how people live and do not make good government. I pointed that out two years ago. You disagreed violently. I take it you now agree.

    Don't allow yourself to get too angry. Get a good MSc and get on with your life.

    If you are still here in 2014, though, think kindly of your fellow Scots who are stuck with Cameron and his tribe of useless aristos, and vote Yes. You won't have to live under a Scottish government, so it can't hurt you to help Munguin out. He might even forgive you for looking up Tris's Republic.

  24. Ha ha ha ha ha CH... Not a bloody windmill, electric car or Brussels regulation in site...

    It's me that's getting hammered today


  25. Indeed Tris, my own friend married his long term girl friend. She was told she has to leave the UK by Jan 1st under new rules, despite their marrying. So my mate, Liverpool boy (first gen to go to uni) has decided to leave the UK altogether and join his wife in Maine USA.

    Tory xenophobia just doesn't make sense to me, when it is costing us vital graduate talent. I mean here was a Liverpool boy and an American choosing to study in Stirling Uni - now leaving and never likely returning.

    It is tragic. You may even call it a brain drain.

  26. Britain pays out £2 million to illegal rendition Libyan

    Tim Hancock, campaigns director for Amnesty International, said there needs to be an inquiry into the extent of the UK’s involvement in torture and other abuses of detainees held overseas.

    Up to their eyeballs.

  27. There's bound to be a drain of brains, when there are no opportunities.

    The Tories, and I'm afraid increasingly New Labour, seem to think that everything that motivates has to be cash.

    But money isn't everything to everyone.
    I thought that them marrying would have meant that the girl could have stayed with him.

    I mean what happens if we deny married partners (remembering the Tory maxim that marriage is the bedrock of the society that they don't believe exists), the opportunity to live together... and the USA deny them the right to live together...what happens to marriage then? Eh Cambo?

  28. Possibly even farther than that CH.

    Goody two shoes Britain, shaking their heads and tut tutting at all this torture stuff, lecturing all over the world about human rights... and up to its bald head in Wee Willie?

  29. The humane Labour party being party to rendition and that is only the one we know about? Surely not, eh Dean?

  30. Aye John: "We deny involvement, but here's £2 million, after all, it's not our money, we've borrowed it. And it was the labour party. We Tories would NEVER do anything underhand, illegal or disgusting... except maybe at our clubs, but that's another story altogether."

    Fancy that nice Mr Straw being involved in rendition for torture. Who'd have believed it?

    Apart from me, obviously.

  31. Tris,

    Makes you wonder if its still going on - it probably is!

  32. Oh Lord, how did I manage to let the issue of press censorship get by me without comment? I have heard that there are press laws in Britain which provide for a certain amount of political control over the media. This is anathema to a free people. It is totally unacceptable. Apart from the libel and slander laws which are adjudicated in the courts, and certain extremely sensitive military secrets laws (which can never be used for any form of prior censorship), then ANY controls on the press, or of speech or expression in any form, by the government is unacceptable.

    I refer you to Amendment One of the United States Constitution. Its few simple words constitute one of the most glorious and absolute statements of rights ever crafted by man.

    Under the protection of the First Amendment, the New York Times published the sensitive "Pentagon Papers" secrets, after the federal courts told the American government that they could do nothing to stop it. And the super secret underground bunker in West Virginia that was built to accommodate the Congress in the event of nuclear war was discovered by The Washington Post, and its location published. The secret nuclear bunker was destroyed as surely as if it had been hit by a Soviet bomb.

    It's messy and chaotic. But nothing short of absolute free speech and press (other than laws against libel and slander) is acceptable by a free people. No government, no politician, and no political party of any stripe must have any control over the press, or of free expression itself.

    The fact that a free press will commit outrages is irrelevant. The only thing worse than the outrages that the press commits, is ANYTHING that governing authority does to stop it.

  33. Speaking of Constitutional Bills of Rights. I see there is an elementary school shooting going on today, which follows up on last week's shopping mall shootings.

    With an estimate of 400 million guns owned by the 300 million Americans, the SECOND Amendment right to own and bear arms was not NEARLY as good an idea as the FIRST one. ;-)

  34. Danny

    you mean the First Amendment which thanks to Justice Scalia and his flaky orginalist belief.

    Allows American society to drown in all The accumulated filth of their sex and perversion.

    pornography made whole sale with women given less respect than abused rag dolls.
    while your nation sinks into the sewer of its own disgusting sexual deviance's.

  35. Danny

    we dont make light of Children being hurt especially with guns..ever

  36. Now Niko,

    I'm pleased to hear that inappropriate utterances never occur on your side of the pond. But surely you can recognize the difference between "making light of children being hurt," and on the other hand, speaking with a sort of bitter irony about the madness of uncontrolled gun ownership in the USA under the protection of the Second Amendment.

    In any event, it's all a part of that free expression thingy I mentioned. ;-)

    OMG, you must now think that I'm "making light" of the First Amendment. Something I would NEVER do!...LOL.

  37. And Niko, when you mentioned "The accumulated filth of their sex and perversion.....pornography made whole sale with women given less respect than abused rag dolls.
    while your nation sinks into the sewer of its own disgusting sexual deviance's".....I thought SURELY you must be talking about the British tabloids.

    I had no idea that you were so righteous. I suspect that American culture may not be for you then. There IS a certain freewheeling aspect to it.

    As you observe, the constitutional rights are indeed subject to the interpretation of Justice Scalia et al. But of all the ten Bill of Rights, the First Amendment has traditionally enjoyed the broadest interpretation from the Justices, across their entire ideological spectrum. The idea is that the freedoms of speech and of the press are the rights by which an abridgment of any of the others can be identified, debated, and corrected.

  38. Danny

    you agree with all that filth?????
    Now explain how this comes about would the founding fathers allowed
    the first amendment lead to this???

    The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon

    Proverbs 11:28 Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

  39. Niko,

    In addition to the restricted areas of slander and libel, there are other areas of speech (broadly defined) that the courts have ruled are not "protected." Commercial speech, for example, can be regulated. And there are some laws against certain types of pornography, primarily child porn. Finally, extreme examples of what has been labeled "hate speech" can be restricted. But it must be REALLY extreme, and of a type that would be reasonably expected to lead to violence.

    I AM very nearly an absolutist about freedom of expression. If absolute freedom of political speech, safe from government interference of any sort, happens to lead to a lot of pornography involving consenting adults, it's more than OK with me. Pornography is a very small price to pay for freedom from government interference.

    I'm not religious, and I don't care about pornography one way or another in that regard. I'll leave that to the right wing Republican Bible-thumpers. And there are PLENTY of them over here.

  40. Danny

    Scalia as an Originalist says he interprets the constitution as they would he says.
    Now would they agree with him on his view on freedom to produce pornography.
    Or would they as I believe first hang Scalia from a tree.
    Second amend the first amendment to ban pornography.

  41. Well Niko, I doubt that we will reach any sort of agreement about pornography, which I couldn't care less about one way or another.

    I generally share some doubts about the concept of "originalism" as a principle of constitutional interpretation. That said, such concepts are exceedingly subtle and complex in actual application, and I lack the degree in constitutional law that would actually permit me to make a meaningful judgement about it. For all his faults, Justice Scalia is VASTLY smarter than I am.....especially in matters of law. He IS a jerk however, IMHO!

    In any event, it's a considerable task to interpret for the 21st century an 18th century document which specifies, as one example, that an African-American slave is 6/10 of a person for purposes of the federal census.

  42. Niko,

    There is a surprisingly lively and interesting debate on constitutional interpretation between Justices Stephen Breyer (activist) and Antonin Scalia (originalist) on YouTube.

    And a couple of small clips from the hour and a half debate.

  43. Danny

    Likes your porno then eh??.

    will have a peek at the clips I do find the Justices and Originalism interesting.

    not so much a considerable task more a contortionist task.My belief is if the founding fathers were here to day they would tear up the constitution and start all over again.

    After hanging scalia from a tall tree

  44. After reading Dean's post I believe he must have a serious case of britanitus when he would rather flee abroad than consider the potential of Scottish Independence outwith the corruption emanating from Westminster, bizarre.

  45. Niko,

    If you have time, Breyer and Scalia manage to make constitutional interpretation surprisingly interesting. And the activist vs. originalist debate is quite lively.

    It is certainly interesting how the justices try to make four handwritten pages of 18th century text relevant to the 21st century, in a way that is intellectually honest. I can't imagine what a task it would be to write a modern constitution.

    The four yellowed pages of the American original is enshrined in a sealed glass case in a huge marble hall at the National Archives Building in Washington, right next to the Declaration of Independence. Just a few blocks down the street from where the nine Justices sit.

  46. Well John... the question you have to ask yourself there is. If Labour found it morally acceptable to get involved in this practice, would the Tories find it morally repugnant, and beneath their standards?

    Then you have to find someone who will slap you hard and stop your hysteria..

  47. Interesting discussion Danny, Niko.

    No input from me needed.

    But I just watched the horror of the kids in Connecticut.

    I'm not going to comment on the gun laws in another country. We've had atrocities here, despite there being strict gun laws.

    Laws don't stop them happening, but I suspect that the ready availability of guns in some countries (not just the USA) make it easier for ordinary angry people to commit these crimes, rather than, as here, people who have lost the plot.

  48. CH: Dean once thought that Westminster was the answer, now he realises that it is a dead duck full of brain dead, self serving bastards...

    ...and yet he still has no trust in his fellow Scots to run their own country.

    If we lose the referendum, I will consider where I want to live the rest of my life. Probably not Scotlandshire, Britain.

    But if we win, why move (apart from the weather)?

  49. Yes Tris, this is an unprecedented tragedy in Connecticut. The President was almost overcome with emotion as he made his statement at the White House.

    I think that surely something will finally be done about the easy availability of guns now. Surely there will be an outcry that the politicians cannot totally ignore.

  50. The weather is the least of our concerns tris as after Milliband's speech today shows how totalitarian the Labour party and the UK is shifting which will become a recipe for disaster for us plebs.

    Incase you haven't seen it A Darling versus Blair Jenkins.

  51. Danny

    Err! no they wont unfortunately until the number killed is proportionate to 9/11.

  52. Some Americans (NRA) will say the answer is more guns and if more people had been armed within the school they could of killed the assailant.

  53. Danny: I always think that when I hear of the latest shooting by a random nut job, who seemingly easily laid his hands on a range of weaponry.

    I wonder if this is the time.

  54. I've heard bits of it, CH. It seems he wants to ensure that the kids from Newcastle learn to speak English.

    I didn't hear much of the rest, but it seemed that he has recanted all the things that he believed in when he was in Blair's government and when he was in Brown's chaotic mess that passed as government.

    They were all wrong before, because some people in England voted BNP instead of Labour because they hate foreigners.

    So Labour is the new BNP, I guess. Milipede will do anything, say anything to be elected.

    Doesn't affect us in Scotland. Immigration very small, and no real problems ensue from it, as far as I can see. Except for a few old bigots on about Poles pinching their that in my considerable experience they are extremely glad the Poles pinched, because they sure as hell didn't want them.

    I'll have to steel myself to watch the sickening Alistair Darling. I find that he is in the same category as most of these Tory types from London. Smug self satisfied out of touch liars. Oh and in his case, house flipper extraordinaire.

  55. Some people, Niko, always think that more weapons are the answer. The British government for one.

    But they are usually murderous psychopaths....or weapons manufacturers, or both.

    Well, if the cap fits.

    What was Camerarse doing in the middle east again? Oh yeah, selling arms to dictators. Good fellow. Probably they went to Eton and were in the Bullingdon along with him.

  56. I wonder too Tris. And as Niko said, you sometimes hear the NRA gun nuts just say that if people would carry hand guns, they could defend themselves. Unbelievable!

  57. It would certainly be an interesting scenario, Danny, because, of course, people would only ever use the weapons if their lives were endangered..... or if someone cut them up on the highway, or pushed past them in the queue at the supermarket, or forgot to hold open the door for them!!!

    Would probably solve the over population problem though.

  58. Sad news from the school in the US tris..

    "In 2010 - the latest year for which detailed statistics are available - there were 12,996 murders in the US. Of those, 8,775 were caused by firearms."


    Sober reading compared to the 600 in the whole of the UK ( less than a third of the murders in California alone)

    Conneticut had 131 murders in 2010.

  59. Monty: It seems the UK firearms laws appear to work, to some extent.

    I heard on the Today Programme this morning that there is little or no appetite for change.

    Exactly how they know that I don't know: presumably vox pops.

    Thanks for the link. It makes interesting reading.

    I was somewhat worried to see the horrific figures for Missouri, Danny!

    Hawaii or Alaska (or heaven forbid, North Dakota) sounds like a sensible move. Interesting to see that the cowboy states of Montana and Wyoming, Oregon and Idaho are safer...

    Fewer people, more space... less drugs?

  60. tris..I forgot to say. The figures for Florida need to be added to the 12,996 murders. Not on the Guardian graph.
    They seem to be hard to find. The best I could do was....

    1129 murders in 2007. The year the 'stand your ground' law was introduced. Sounds like something out of a spaghetti western movie.


    And there were 101,906 violent crimes in Florida in 2010.


  61. oops amendment 1 to previous post.

    The Florida figures are included in the 12,996 total murders number.

    The 2010 figure for Florida can be extrapolated by adding all the other murder figures in the Guardian graph and then subtracting this number from 12,996.
    Where's my calculator .....

  62. Danny,

    Constitutions are written by men, thus never perfect. They are subject to the times and context from which they were conceived.

    This is why the amendments are so vital.

    But, you need society agree to changing them. So, you want to role back insane gun ownership? Deal with the gun nut lobby controlling the hill with their special interests!

  63. Dean,

    I'm in complete agreement with you.

    But since the bar for constitutional amendment is so high.....impossibly high I think for any of the two centuries old rights amendments....any change must come legislatively. And there certainly is a legislative history of responsible gun "regulation" even within the strictures of the Second Amendment.

    But the NRA has awesome political power. And every politician remembers that it was opposition from the NRA that kept Al Gore from carrying his home state of Tennessee in 2000, and gave us the disastrous Bush presidency. Tennessee would have carried the election for Gore, even without Florida. And a single additional state in 2004, would have carried the election for John Kerry, who was also opposed by the NRA. Kerry lost the presidency by just 120,000 votes in Ohio.

    But I'm hopeful that some useful things can be done, even in the face of implacable NRA opposition. Some thoughts about this are attached as comments.

  64. The Guardian data that Monty posted seems to represent the situation very well. It shows gun crime RATES, rather than meaningless absolute numbers in the national data which are often quoted, ignoring population differences. And it separates gun “violence” with gun “deaths.” And gun “murder” from gun “deaths,” a large number of which are suicides. It does compare a total number of 600 for the UK against the total US number. If absolute numbers are to be compared, the UK is more aptly compared with California and its roughly comparable population – the California population being only about 1/3 less than that of the UK – 40 million compared with 60 million. I’m always annoyed when I read direct number comparisons with Canada, without the required ORDER OF MAGNITUDE (factor of TEN) adjustment for population. And without taking into account historical, cultural, racial and ethnic differences, in addition to population, comparisons of the USA with Switzerland or the Scandinavian countries can border on the absurd. Not so much comparing apples with oranges, but more like apples with kumquats.

    Nevertheless, even after intellectually honest gun RATE statistics are arrived at, America is still at an extreme disadvantage with regard to gun violence and murder. And the easy availability of guns has to be a factor. It surely involves more than the Second Amendment which establishes the keeping and bearing of arms as a fundamental American right. It in fact involves a history and culture that far predates the constitutional republic. It began with firearms being the essential means of providing both physical safety and food on the table in colonial, and later frontier, times. And it was the guns owned by private Americans which fired the first shots at the British Army in Massachusetts, and were a mainstay of the revolution.

  65. -----contd------

    There are at least 300 million guns (some estimates are 400 million) in the American population of a little over 300 million people. So a ban on gun sales would be more or less irrelevant. Guns are readily available and will remain so. Confiscation would be physically impossible…..and could well inspire something like a second American revolution. It is an article of faith among the radical and politically powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) that the fundamental reason that the Second Amendment was placed in the constitution was to insure that Americans can overthrow their government by violent revolution if and when it becomes tyrannical. Violent revolution is more than history, it’s in the American DNA.

    So, what CAN be done? At the very least, we must try to do something in the way of background checks that will prevent the legal sale of hand guns and rapid fire weapons to people with a clear history of mental disturbance. And we can surely restrict the sale and ownership of large capacity magazines for otherwise legal weaponry. Just these two small steps would have been extremely helpful in reducing the carnage in a number of the recent mass shooting incidents. Small steps to be sure, but we must do what we can. And the politically radicalized NRA will oppose even those steps on so-called constitutional grounds.

  66. The figures are utterly horrendous, Monty.

    I wonder if James (Scot Goes Pop) will write something about this.

  67. Yes Danny. Random thoughts here... It is going to be small steps that will win the day, if anything will. As you so rightly say, it is in the DNA of Americans, to have the right to bear arms.

    I know we have discussed this before with reference to the dubiety that surrounds the real meaning of the second amendment, but, just a cursory knowledge of the early days of the American frontiersmen would explain that there was a real need to have weaponry, to 'put food on your family' as Mr Bush would have said, and to protect yourself from the natives, who sure as hell didn't want you there...

    So no one is going to ban them any time soon, and no one is going to happily or easily restrict their sale, but every so often the horror of yet another mentally insecure person with a grudge against his parents, or congressman, senator, president, alma mater, or who or what ever...and with easy access to an armoury, will build pressure on politicians to do something.

    As you say though, there are more guns than people in the country... and the ease with which they can be smuggled across the Mexican border...what good will any restrictions do?

  68. Niko the ruthlessDecember 15, 2012 5:41 pm

    Perhaps making the manufacture and sale of Guns illegal first.
    Now that isn't going to stop gun use but will begin to drive down the supply.

    Then illegal gun ownership should be made a death penalty crime with no appeal.

    Carrying unlicensed guns although legally bought and held within the home..Likewise death penalty no appeal.

    Advocating universal gun ownership
    Death penalty no appeal.

    Organising gun associations to promote looser gun control death penalty no appeal.

  69. What Niko's plan lacks in subtlety, it more than makes up for in its draconian directness.

    Of course the death penalty for ADVOCATING a strict interpretation of the Second Amendment might be challenged on First Amendment grounds. But then again, maybe no one will notice....LOL.

  70. Ah Danny... Niko is Scottish Labour. They are not subtle!

  71. You people are deprived; unlike us in America. Emphasizing autonomy is not common; due to the defeat of Western Protestantism civilization; so one goes off to find an excuse.

  72. Yes, deprived of the right to make our own decisions, having, as a people elected the opposite government from the one we have. In fact always having the government the English chose for us.

    That's deprivation of a kind.

    Not entirely sure what it has to do with protestantism...