Archive for July, 2007

So, Challenge Cup semi-final weekend; a good one, too… Bradford got the worst of it, of course. Despite regularly being one of the best clubs in the country since 1996, they always struggle to make it stick. That was precisely their problem today – despite making chances, they never quite had the sort of quick-smart sharpness Saints always do. So, 35-14 and lucky it wasn’t worse.

It was closer than that sounds, close enough that Sean Long (who had a storming game) chose to kick an extraordinary long-range drop goal on the h of half time. I don’t know if anyone measured, but it can’t have been less than 50 yards. The sort of thing Joe Lydon used to do in the 1980s, even then it was a little old-fashioned. The last player to really make a point of this sort of thing was probably Alex Murphy, and oddly, Long looks more and more like a 1970s throwback all the time, pale and shaggy.

Bradford were transitional; they have been for years. Their successes in the Brian Smith/Matthew Elliott period were based on very much the same style they always had. Dave Hadfield said that “even when they were winning, Bradford seemed grim”, speaking of the 1980s side; but the late 90s Bradford weren’t that different. Brute strength and discipline, and Robbie Paul for a change. Brian Noble, and since he left, Steve MacNamara, have tried to open out the rugby, but today, the result was an ugly hybrid.

Of course, it was tough. But St Helens were able to pick off their opportunities, with their ex-Bradford man Leon Pryce kicking well to the wings. At Bradford he was an out-and-out winger, but since then has moved infield as a stand-off; he may yet be the Great Britain No.6 Great Britain have been looking for since Garry Schofield. (He also got the chance to score a spectacular winger’s try today.) Another of those Great Britain No.6s was playing, Iestyn Harris, now back from union with Bradford and having bulked-up dramatically.

Tomorrow, Wigan are playing Catalans, the first French team to get to a semi-final. It could well be difficult; they are next door in the league table, and the French side includes gnarly old schemers like Stacey Jones and Jason Croker. (I recall a photo of him with Canberra in 1994, gripping a goal post, parallel to the ground.) It will be a pity, though, that no-one can really enjoy it.

Because, as usual, league’s poisonous backroom politics are pussing out in the open. And – inevitably – Wigan chairman Maurice Lindsay is at the bottom of it. (Before anyone asks, yes, I’m biased.) Last year, when it looked like Wigan might actually be relegated, Lindsay rushed out to panic-spend, buying among others the GB prop Stuart Fielden from Bradford. Unfortunately, he couldn’t actually do this, as Wigan had already used their salary cap for the year.

He came up with a cunning plan; nine senior players would accept a “deferral” of part of their wages until next year. The Rugby League accepted his “verbal assurance” that this would be so. That anyone accepted Maurice’s word for anything is surprising enough. But there is worse. Obviously, as Wigan hasn’t substantially cut wages or players since then, the payment of the deferred wages must arithmetically mean that they’ve broken the cap again this year…now, they got away with a four-point deduction this time, out of a possible eight, so surely this re-offending will mean trouble?

Nuh. This year’s sins will not be judged until 2008, and Maurice has already got the other top clubs to agree that they will end relegation for the 2009 season…if there is one good reason to keep promotion and relegation, it’s that it obviates all this sick politicking. And without it, we probably wouldn’t be having a season as competitive and interesting as we are. No Hull-Hull KR derbies. No Wakefield Trinity in the top three.

No Wigan in trouble, which is of course the point. This is a recipe for decay; down the leagues, with large helpings of futility for the small clubs, and in a top league that chose to be a self-appointed elite.

So, Challenge Cup semi-final weekend; a good one, too… Bradford got the worst of it, of course. Despite regularly being one of the best clubs in the country since 1996, they always struggle to make it stick. That was precisely their problem today – despite making chances, they never quite had the sort of quick-smart sharpness Saints always do. So, 35-14 and lucky it wasn’t worse.

It was closer than that sounds, close enough that Sean Long (who had a storming game) chose to kick an extraordinary long-range drop goal on the h of half time. I don’t know if anyone measured, but it can’t have been less than 50 yards. The sort of thing Joe Lydon used to do in the 1980s, even then it was a little old-fashioned. The last player to really make a point of this sort of thing was probably Alex Murphy, and oddly, Long looks more and more like a 1970s throwback all the time, pale and shaggy.

Bradford were transitional; they have been for years. Their successes in the Brian Smith/Matthew Elliott period were based on very much the same style they always had. Dave Hadfield said that “even when they were winning, Bradford seemed grim”, speaking of the 1980s side; but the late 90s Bradford weren’t that different. Brute strength and discipline, and Robbie Paul for a change. Brian Noble, and since he left, Steve MacNamara, have tried to open out the rugby, but today, the result was an ugly hybrid.

Of course, it was tough. But St Helens were able to pick off their opportunities, with their ex-Bradford man Leon Pryce kicking well to the wings. At Bradford he was an out-and-out winger, but since then has moved infield as a stand-off; he may yet be the Great Britain No.6 Great Britain have been looking for since Garry Schofield. (He also got the chance to score a spectacular winger’s try today.) Another of those Great Britain No.6s was playing, Iestyn Harris, now back from union with Bradford and having bulked-up dramatically.

Tomorrow, Wigan are playing Catalans, the first French team to get to a semi-final. It could well be difficult; they are next door in the league table, and the French side includes gnarly old schemers like Stacey Jones and Jason Croker. (I recall a photo of him with Canberra in 1994, gripping a goal post, parallel to the ground.) It will be a pity, though, that no-one can really enjoy it.

Because, as usual, league’s poisonous backroom politics are pussing out in the open. And – inevitably – Wigan chairman Maurice Lindsay is at the bottom of it. (Before anyone asks, yes, I’m biased.) Last year, when it looked like Wigan might actually be relegated, Lindsay rushed out to panic-spend, buying among others the GB prop Stuart Fielden from Bradford. Unfortunately, he couldn’t actually do this, as Wigan had already used their salary cap for the year.

He came up with a cunning plan; nine senior players would accept a “deferral” of part of their wages until next year. The Rugby League accepted his “verbal assurance” that this would be so. That anyone accepted Maurice’s word for anything is surprising enough. But there is worse. Obviously, as Wigan hasn’t substantially cut wages or players since then, the payment of the deferred wages must arithmetically mean that they’ve broken the cap again this year…now, they got away with a four-point deduction this time, out of a possible eight, so surely this re-offending will mean trouble?

Nuh. This year’s sins will not be judged until 2008, and Maurice has already got the other top clubs to agree that they will end relegation for the 2009 season…if there is one good reason to keep promotion and relegation, it’s that it obviates all this sick politicking. And without it, we probably wouldn’t be having a season as competitive and interesting as we are. No Hull-Hull KR derbies. No Wakefield Trinity in the top three.

No Wigan in trouble, which is of course the point. This is a recipe for decay; down the leagues, with large helpings of futility for the small clubs, and in a top league that chose to be a self-appointed elite.

The latest UN Monitoring Group report on Somalia is out. BBC News reports that Eritrea is accused of sending the ex-ICU large quantities of weapons aboard a chartered Boeing 707. Looking up the report, it turns out to be 9G-OAL, serial no. 19350, registered to a Ghanaian firm, Aerogem Aviation. Aerogem was contacted by the Group, and blamed a lessee of the plane, Fab Air. Fab Air (ICAO: FBA) is a Kyrgyz company based in Sharjah (natch), whose Kyrgyz AOC was revoked in January.

The 1966-vintage 707-324C has form, lots of form; from January 1996 she was working for Viktor Bout’s Air Cess, before going on lease to Pamir Air, based in Mazar-i-Sharif while Bout and Chris Barrett-Jolley were working for Abdul Rashid Dostum (all the other aircraft there ended up with Santa Cruz Imperial/Flying Dolphin/Dolphin Air/Phoenix Aviation/AVE in Sharjah), before working for Johnsons Air (see here, here , here, and here) in Ghana as 9G-OLD (well, that’s about right).

Fab Air’s only recorded aircraft, An-12BK UN-11376, serial no. 8345805, spent June to October 2005 working for Royal Air Cargo with the BGIA Boyz.

Amusingly, the report refers to the US AC-130 raid inside Somalia, and the US representative’s response was as follows:

Regarding
the above-mentioned operations, the United States also states that paragraph 5 of
resolution 733 (1992) requires general and complete embargo on all deliveries of
weapons and military equipment to Somalia and that it did not believe “that these
operations against known terrorist targets constituted ‘delivery’ of a weapon within
the plain meaning of this paragraph”

I suppose you could say that. Interestingly, the ICU government saw the market price of a ZSU-23 flak gun in Somalia fall from $70,000 to around $10,000, but it’s far from clear whether this was due to increased supply or reduced demand. (It has since rebounded to $25,000.)

There’s also an old friend in there – the report includes a copy of a bill of sale for the Ilyushin-76 UN-76496, once of Viktor Bout’s GST Aero Air Company. Evgeny Zakharov of Aerolift Ltd, a Virgin Islands company, sold the plane to “Eriko Enterprises” of 117 Waisay Street, Massawa, Eritrea. Aerolift, a Sierra Leone-registry UAE-based company, went out of business after being blacklisted in March, 2006.

This row over at Tim Lambert’s, also here, reminded me of something I’ve noticed around the blogosphere. There was this, too, and also this.

They’re all arguments from meta-analysis of some sort, and they’re all wrong. They’re all wrong in the same way, too; the first, David Kane’s beef with the Lancet survey of mortality in Iraq, essentially argues that excluding Fallujah from the sample was a mistake not because it tended to underestimate mortality, but because – as including the outlier increases the variance about the mean – it widened the confidence interval enough that it included zero deaths. In fact, Kane goes so far as to suggest a lower 95% bound of -130,000. Some people would stop here and review their assumptions. In this case, that would be that both the prewar mortality rate and the postwar survey samples are samples out of a complete normal distribution.

But rates of mortality can obviously never be zero; everybody dies in the end. Further, there’s a pretty obvious upper bound too – otherwise there would be nobody left to survey. And there is no known way in which war reduces mortality rates whilst it’s still going on. There is only one way to replace dead people; and it doesn’t involve war. It’s a damn sight more fun than reading David Kane, too.

When the facts change, said John Maynard Keynes, I change my ideas – what do you do, Sir?

What indeed. Consider the third link; this is another example of changing one’s ideas and assuming that it has some impact on the facts. The argument is roughly that, if you assume the human population is normally distributed in time, and that you are at a random point in its existence (you have no reason to think otherwise), then the world will come to an end sooner than you think. The flaw is, of course, that all the information in the argument comes from the initial assumption about the distribution. Claude Shannon would have said that this argument actually contains no information, or at least no net gain of information; all the information in it is contained in the original assumptions, and as Shannon defined information as that which is unexpected in communication, there’s no “there” there.

And frankly, Shannon information theory has been a lot more useful than any of this sciency thumb-twiddling. Moving on, Realclimate Gavin assails a paper by a couple of economists who reckon they’ve disproved climate change because the IPCC TARs don’t conform to their definition of a “scientific forecast”. I’ll confine myself to pointing out that the only substantive points they make confound climate and weather, treat Piers Corbyn as a source of meaningful information*, argue from personal incomprehension of the titles of climatology papers, and assert that:

People will continue to believe that serious manmade global warming exists as they will continue to believe other things that have no scientific support (e.g., the biblical creation story, astrology, minimum wages to help poor people, and so on)

Given that essentially all the necessary pieces of climate change have either laboratory or observational evidence, this is sufficient evidence for me at least to call it partisan hackery.

So what is my point? All these arguments have this in common; they argue from assumption and assume this trumps empiricism, and strangely enough, they all get answers that suit the powerful. They argue as if there was no observable reality out there. It’s harder to spot than most because it’s dressed in the clothes of science – but that don’t make it any better. But I suspect that the authors of this stuff really believe in it; it’s quite easy to imagine that giving something a mathematical look actually gives it content. Richard Feynman, I think, would have ripped these people a second arsehole. Quite a few very bright mathematicians came to believe that numbers were the real reality, and I suspect this is what science would look like if Platonists ran it – a search for perfect form beyond the messy, sexy, noisy bazaar of reality.

It’s poisonous stuff, of course; I wonder what the Stiftung Leo Strauss would say? And am I right in suspecting they may be the most important blog in the ‘sphere today?

*Shannon would point out that he certainly is a source of information, because no-one sane would expect anyone to say the sort of things he does every time his mouth moves.

Climate-change denier and quack weatherman Piers Corbyn writes to the paper:

The problem for global warmers is that there is no evidence that changing CO2 is a net driver for world climate. Feedback processes negate its potential warming effects. Their theory has no power to predict. It is faith, not science. I challenge them to issue a forecast to compete with our severe weather warnings – made months ago – for this month and August which are based on predictions of solar-particle and magnetic effects that there will be periods of major thunderstorms, hail and further flooding in Britain, most notably July 22-26, August 5-9 and August 18-23. These periods will be associated with new activity on the sun and tropical storms. We also forecast that British and world temperatures will continue to decline this year and in 2008. What do the global warmers forecast?

This was printed on the 24th of July. Yes, I certainly agree that British temperatures will indeed decline between now and the end of the year. Science! And what do the global warmers say to that?

Corbyn is an extreme example, but the symptoms of dysfunctional statistosis are more widely distributed than you might think. David Davis is highly rated by some bloggers (Dans Hardie and Davies, I think) as a possible bulwark against Blairite continuity and the Home Office. This is a role we badly need, in the light of current news: Brown’s announcements today that he wants 56-day detention without charge, and that he is still steaming full pelt towards the rocks on the National Identity Register. But he’s not invulnerable. Recently, the tokens broke out upon him.

You may recall that for many years, the British Crime Survey and the count of crimes recorded by the police disagreed. The recorded count was rising, the survey count falling. Nothing would convince the Tories that the BCS, as the more inclusive measure, was more likely to be right – Michael Howard even argued that the exclusion of murder from the BCS explained it, as if hundreds of uncounted corpses littered the streets.

Now, the position is reversed. The BCS shows crime rising; the police count falling. If the Tories had ever been honest about this, they would have to agree that the situation was not quite so fearful, but the BCS useless. But no; Davis has seamlessly flipped from one measure to the other. Now, the BCS is right, and the police wrong. Clearly, the actual content of the statistic is irrelevant. What matters is its ideological purity. It being the central tenet of Conservatism that the past was always better, crime must by definition rise.

The Government is no better. Thanks to the god-like genius of Roger Ford, I read the detail of the Government’s new railways plan before it was announced. It seems that an old trick is in use. Greens, and techies, are unlikely to forget the infamous DTI report in the 1980s that accidentally-on-purpose increased the cost estimate of wave power by a factor of 10.

Now, they’re doing the same damn thing with regard to railway electrification. Electrification is great; more bigger faster trains, and energy efficiencies as high as 95 per cent (for the regenerating trains on the London, Tilbury and Southend route), and the juice can come from almost anything. For some reason, the DfT (Rail) and the privateers hate it – DfT(R) is trying to claim that hydrogen fuelcell trains are a better idea. God knows why; why would you convert electricity to hydrogen and then back into electricity when you can just use electricity?

So, who is surprised to see that a Network Rail spokesbot exaggerated the power requirement for full electrification by a factor of four?

British withdrawal from southern Iraq is now in the foreseeable future, with the concentration at Basra Air Station, the impending closure of Basra Palace PJCC, and the departure of the first 500 troops. Therefore, it is high time to consider the fate of Iraqis who took our side during the occupation. Denmark, whose government originally attempted to abandon theirs, has been brought around by the insistence of its army to extract some three hundred people in advance of the Danish battalion’s withdrawal. The US Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, recently cabled Washington to raise his concern that Iraqi employees feared the US would abandon them. Their fears are far from unfounded.

Whatever your opinion on the war with Iraq, the case is morally and practically incontrovertible. Morally, at least some of these people will have acted because they (however unwisely) thought we really were an army of liberation. But even the ones whose motives were entirely mercenary are human beings. If any have committed crimes, the place to deal with them is in a court. It is usually thought that it is precisely in the worst cases that we must stick to principle, because it is most likely to be violated then. And it is not enough to say (as the Government does) that they can register with the UNHCR, and join the Iraqi refugees in Jordan or Syria (never mind the dangers of travelling from Basra to the Syrian border); because these places are also used by the Iraqi insurgents as rear areas, they would be in as much danger there as in Iraq.

Practically, objections have been raised that this would be a bad example, that it would be a signal of impending defeat, and that it might be a problem of force protection from here to the final withdrawal. Well, the signal of impending defeat is a ship that sailed years ago. And force protection is far more likely to be imperilled if all the Army’s touts in Basra were to realise that their only hope of security would be to rat as soon as possible and as comprehensively as possible. When the Israeli army left southern Lebanon in 2000, they attempted to leave behind the locally-recruited militia they created in this area – unsurprisingly, far from staying in position to cover the retreat, its members either fled or appeared on the Israeli border with their weapons. The result was a far more difficult retreat, and the Israelis had to accept them anyway.

The question will be raised whether we should accept these people instead of other Iraqi refugees. It is invidious. We should of course accept Iraqi refugees; it is morally appalling that we have so far not done so. It follows that refusing to accept people who are in greater danger would be worse still. The total number is probably not great.

So, why not write to them? Them being your elected (and unelected) representatives. Dan Hardie has prepared both a list of talking points and a form letter. It is strongly recommended that you use the talking points and write your own.

Update: There’s also an e-petition to sign.

Remember this post on how the NHS National Programme for IT was doomed? Chatter is circulating that the whole thing might be scrapped, or at least subjected to a major review. Against this background, the big chief, Richard Granger, is leaving and has said some surprising things.

E-Health Insider reports; and it’s somewhat disturbing. Apparently, Cerner’s software is of shamefully awful quality:

“Sometimes we put in stuff that I’m just ashamed of. Some of the stuff that Cerner has put in recently is appalling.”

In June, of course, Granger had said that the Cerner package might be used system-wide after iSoft spread itself over the landscape in small pieces.

n December 2005 Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre became the first NHS site to go live with Cerner Millennium under the NHS IT programme. It has since suffered a string of problems ranging from missing appointment records, to inability to report on wait times. The Millennium system – now installed at six NHS locations in the South – remains unable to directly integrate with Choose and Book or meet 18-week reporting requirements.

In April, 79 members of staff from Milton Keynes NHS Trust signed a letter outlining their frustrations at the Millennium system, stating: “In our opinion the system should not be installed in any further hospitals….Speaking at the BMA’s annual representative meeting on 29 June Wrede said: “We should have a public inquiry. The people who made the original Cerner contract should be brought to book and as Cerner Millennium R0 [release zero] is not fit for purpose…” The motion calling for a public enquiry was passed.

The first Cerner installation by BT, the NPfIT contractor in London, is scheduled to go live at Barnet and Chase Farm NHS Trust within the next week. The trust is understood to be due to recieve the same release zero version of the Millennium software that has so far been used in the South.

Clearly it’s appalling, but not appalling enough to do anything about it. And why is it appalling?

He said a key reason for the failings of systems provided was that Cerner and prime contractor Fujitsu had not listened to end users. “It really isn’t usable because they have building a system with Fujitsu without listening to what end users want..”

Now there’s a surprise. But this problem has been well-known for the last 12 months! I blogged about it 9 months ago! Instead of anything useful, though, we get stuff like this triumph of managerialist crapspeak:

Granger also cast further light on Accenture’s departure from the NPfIT programme at the end of 2006, describing their relationship with sub-contractor iSoft as a failed marriage, in which they had failed to realise their co-dependency.

You what? More worrying, though, than this sort of vacuous cruft is the man’s continuing addiction to bully rhetoric and bully tactics:

“Who contributed evidence to the public accounts committees? For just about every figure quoted as an expert in this programme, I’ve got HR files on them. They generate a piece of opinion that often substantiates their world view.”

I don’t think the NHS is losing a great deal with his departure.

Not long ago, the European Union added a whole chunk of dodgy Moldovan airlines to its flight-safety blacklist after ramp checks showed their aircraft were unsafe. Now, we have reports that the Moldovans have taken the logical next step and drained the swamp, by revoking the AOCs of the companies in question. It’s bye bye to our old friends Jet Line International, but also to mystery operator Grixona (a frequent presence on the Sharjah-Iraq and Afghanistan routes), Jet Stream (another UAE-to-warzones Il76 operator), and Tiramavia (much the same). Pecotox also goes.

Here’s the list from ATDB:


· An-24RV (ER-AWR, msn 37308605) put in storage by Jet Line International, returned to Aerocom
· An-24RV (ER-AZY, msn 47309310) put in storage by Aerom
· An-24RV (ER-AZX, msn 47309804) returned to Pecotox-Air after lease to Aéro-Service then ops in Iraq
· An-24RV (ER-AFB, msn 87310810.2) put in storage by Jet Line International, returned to Aerocom
· Il-18V (ER-ICB, msn 188010603) put in storage by Grixona
· An-12AP (ER-ACV, msn 347408) put in storage by Grixona
· An-12TB (ER-ACQ, msn 1347908) put in storage by Grixona
· An-12BK (ER-AXG, msn 347407) put in storage by Tiramavia
· An-12BK (ER-AXZ, msn 8346106) put in storage by Jet Line International
· An-12BP (ER-ADQ, msn 402410) put in storage by Jet Line International
· An-12BP (ER-ADK, msn 5342802) put in storage by Grixona
· An-12V (ER-ACY, msn 347306) put in storage by Grixona
· An-12V (ER-ACS, msn 347401) put in storage by Grixona
· An-12V (ER-ACO, msn 5343204) put in storage by Tiramavia
· An-12V (ER-ACR, msn 6343810) put in storage by Tiramavia
· An-26B (ER-AFE, msn 17310905) put in storage by Jet Line International
· An-26B (ER-AFL, msn 17311705) put in storage by Jet Line International
· An-72 (A) (ER-AVG, msn 36572095909) put in storage by Pecotox-Air
· Il-76TD (ER-IBK, msn 53460790) put in storage by Jet Stream Airlines
· Il-76TD (ER-IBY, msn 53460832) put in storage by Tiramavia
· Il-76T (ER-IBV, msn 3423699) put in storage by Jet Line International
· Il-76T (ER-IBF, msn 73410300) put in storage by Jet Line International
· Il-76T (ER-IBH, msn 73411331) put in storage by Tiramavia
· Il-76T (ER-IBD, msn 73411338) put in storage by Jet Stream Airlines
· Il-76T (ER-IBG, msn 93418548) put in storage by Tiramavia
· Il-76T (ER-IBP, msn 93418556) put in storage by Jet Stream Airlines
· Il-76MD (ER-IBC, msn 83489683) put in storage by Tiramavia

It’s good to see the back of the firm that brought the missing 99 tonnes of guns in Iraq, to say nothing of the mysterious “Air Bridge Group” of Australia.

Ages ago, during a comments thread discussion here about British nuclear weapons and Trident replacement, Chris Lightfoot (peace and blessings be upon him) suggested the option of “virtual” nuclear capability; that is, maintaining all the necessary technology, keeping the plans on the books, but not actually making a bomb. The canonical example is Japan, which could build one tomorrow but doesn’t. But quite a few countries have such a policy or have had one. Germany is an example.

So, strangely enough, is Sweden, which maintained a major nuclear research program from 1945 to 1972 which was in many respects indistinguishable from actually making a bomb. Uranium supplies were identified, accelerators and reactors tested, bombs designed, and time-sharing arranged on French computers to check out the designs. The general staff carried out scenario-planning exercises to consider the strategy and tactics involved.

I quite like the idea – call it the Lightfoot plan – but there is a serious problem. Its main point is to get rid of teh bombs and save money, whilst getting around the problem that it’s very difficult to reverse course if it turns out to be a bad decision. In a sense, the UK nuclear weapons programme has maintained these skills in existence artificially. Deciding not to keep going would make it very hard to keep them in being. Why? Well – even modern Sweden wouldn’t find it that hard to build a bomb. They have nuclear power, and various engineering companies whose operations are suited to the job, such as Saab, Bofors, and (at least for electronics and systems integration) Ericsson. This goes double, or triple, for Germany or Japan.

Well, there’s always BAE…but would you trust them with plutonium? For quite a range of the skills required, there’s nowt in the UK beyond the civil service nuclear world to employ you.

OK, this is it. Not only must the Home Office go, so too must the Association of Chief Police Officers, the newest political party on the block. Its president, Ken Jones, now wants not just 90 days of detention without charge, but unlimited detention without charge. After all, it worked so well in Northern Ireland. Inevitably, Killer of the Yard’s in favour, too.

What makes this even worse is the increasing blurring of functions between ACPO, a non-statutory club for top cops, and the actual police. For example, the ANPR number-plate tracking cameras deployed on the motorway system are the result of an ACPO decision, apparently outside either local accountability to police authorities, operational line management to Marsham Street, or ministerial accountability to Parliament. Processing the details of overseas convictions into the criminal records system, it turns out, is also carried out by ACPO.

And, at the same time as it carries out police work, it is also an independent political force – a sort of free-floating lobby for authoritarianism, a peripatetic producer of paranoia.

Of course, not having any place in the command structure or the constitution, it can be as authoritarian as it likes without facing up to the consequences. Says another fearsome security lobby, the Prison Officers’ Association, the prisons cannot cope with the influx of terrorist cases – there are signs of proselytising and the formation of gangs. Obviously, the thing to do is to lock up a lot of people, some of whom by definition will be innocent, in an overcrowded jail with people we know certainly are actual Islamist terrorists.

Now, doesn’t this have an ugly sound to it?





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