Vir Cantium

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Monthly Archives: November 2007

Not a good week for Islam

Not a good week for Islam (again).

The Gibbons case in Sudan has brought a welcome condemnation from the Muslim Council of Britain, which claims to represent the Muslim community in Britain. They are “appalled” and have demanded that Mrs Gibbons be released. I agree. They then continue:

“This is a disgraceful decision and defies common sense. There was clearly no intention on the part of the teacher to deliberately insult the Islamic faith,” (my italics)

I must say, that does rather imply that had she deliberately set out to insult Islam then the MCB would be happy to see her whipped. It is sad that the MCB isn’t criticising the principle of a criminal code which includes an offence of insulting a religion.

Not that I would condone someone in an Islamic country going out of their way to insult the religion – but I say that simply on the basis that it is bad manners in a foreign country not to respect (to a point) the host culture. I certainly, though, do think that criminalising blasphemy is one more step on a slippery slope – the next stage being criminalising political dissent. Why should insulting a religion be any worse then insulting someone’s politics?

But of course, Sudan isn’t exactly a haven of free speech or defender of human rights, is it?

"The nightmare is ending"

Just a short post for now, and a telling comment from Michael Yon who, as I’ve noted here before, has been sending back some of the best reports from Iraq of any journalist, even bettering the vast news-gathering capabilities of the Beeb and others.

I can’t remember my last shootout: it’s been months. The nightmare is ending. Al Qaeda is being crushed.

Never mind, in place of Iraq, the BBC has today supped from it’s other ever reliable fount of bad news, just so we don’t get too cheerful.

The work backlog is clearing and my light blogging period should be coming to a close by the end of this month. I bet you can’t wait, eh?


It’s alright for me, I’m an accountant. I do numbers’n’stuff.

So I can laugh at this, via The Register:

… Levenshulme’s Tina Farrel, a 23-year-old who admitted “she had left school without a maths GCSE”. She explained: “On one of my cards it said I had to find temperatures lower than -8. The numbers I uncovered were -6 and -7 so I thought I had won, and so did the woman in the shop. But when she scanned the card the machine said I hadn’t.

“I phoned Camelot and they fobbed me off with some story that -6 is higher, not lower, than -8, but I’m not having it.

“I think Camelot are giving people the wrong impression – the card doesn’t say to look for a colder or warmer temperature, it says to look for a higher or lower number. Six is a lower number than 8. Imagine how many people have been misled.”

The saddest thing, though, is not the lack of numeracy among non-dyslexic Mancunians, but the fact that Camelot caved in and withdrew the game.

Another World

So Gordon Brown is to extend the rights of parents to flexible working. Whoopedoo.

The problem with so much of employment legislation, particularly in recent years, is that beyond the great headlines, most of these rights aren’t worth the paper they’re written on unless you work in a vast, maybe publicly funded, organisation. Which, let’s face it, most of those proposing and drafting these laws do, and have always done.

After all, with the best will in the world, can someone whose employment experience has only been with large employers possibly imagine the situation of someone in a small firm, whose short-notice absence for even one day can be critical? Or that person’s thought process in contemplating asking for their “rights”, knowing that they may well then find themselves on the top of the next redundancy list?

As a father myself, now, it’s not that I don’t appreciate the good intentions, but I knew that when we decided to have a child the decision would have an impact on our lives and we accept those consequences for the greater reward. We certainly weren’t banking on the nanny state to bully our employers into making us that little bit less employable giving us more time off.

Labour’s Inconvenient Truth

Amidst the déjà vu of another “race row” episode that has played out in the last day or so, with the errant candidate now departing the stage, it has been interesting to note Labour’s reaction. I’m not referring to the predictable “same old Tories” mantra. Nor just how the remarks have thrown into relief how well David Cameron has revived immigration as an issue in terms of the pressure on public services – an approach that has made his position immune to the “playing the race card” accusations. Nor how the candidate inadvisedly (in the current media environment) invoked the memory of Enoch Powell and that speech – even if there were a number of constituents in Halesown and Rowley Regis who do agree with old Enoch. If there is one British political figure the left hate more than Mrs Thatcher it is Powell.

No, Labour’s reaction has ignored the elephant in the room that any observer of recent electoral trends will know – that the old fashioned “send them all home” message resonates not so much with Conservatives, but with dyed in the wool working class socialists – the real old Labour. The inconvenient truth for Labour is that they have more to fear than the Conservatives when a BNP candidate stands in their ward/constituency – it is, after all, in the traditional Labour strongholds that the BNP have garnered most support – from Barking to Burnley.

Peter Hain has been quoted saying the remarks expose the Tories’ “racist underbelly”. Sorry Mr Hain, if there is a racist underbelly in politics today, you are more likely to find it among the hard left, not the Conservative heartlands.