October 2006 Archives

Flag-burning virus infects UK

The BBC reports (i.e. transcribes a wire service report, in all likeliness) that the UK Police are trying to make flag-burning illegal. (Actually, that could easily be the England and Wales Police, for all that I know.)

They also want people to stop wearing masks - sorry, that's already an offence of some sort, according to the same said article - not cover their face, unless, obviously, the demonstrators are muslim women, because that's still taboo. Hey, Police, let's make a deal: we'll not cover our faces, and you won't chuck tear gas at us. Because that's why people cover their faces at demos, as I understand it. Unless the aim is to provoke angry male muslim demonstrators into drag, in which case the chortling might be short-lived - if there's a handful of angry muslim males in the UK prepared to blow themselves up, I imagine most of them would be prepared to disguise them as women, especially if that meant long flowing robes that could disguise explosives.

Anyway, given that apparently it's an offense to fly a non-white-bordered Union Jack from a civilian boat, burning a UK flag may in fact be the right thing to do in some circumstances. Not to mention all of the various versions of the Union Jack, the various Home Nation flags, the royal variants, etc. etc. - unlike the US, we have far too many flags for a flag-burning amendment to be even faintly practicable.

Not to mention that the whole idea is almost certainly against the European Convention of Human Rights.

I really hope that Gordon Brown will put an end to this authoritarian drift by the current Labour government, but I can't see him doing it. There is, after all, a tribal "the State knows best" aspect to old Labour, as well as a visceral anti-Liberalism. Bah.

The BBC said

David Cameron has told Conservatives to be the party of optimism, urging them to "let sunshine win the day".

And then said nothing further. This is remarkably obtuse and ignorant.

The whole point of Cameron's speech, as I understood it, was that Labour had good intentions, but bad underlying basic principles, which lead them to commit to decent ideas, but add a whole bunch of red tape and centralised targets that caused the whole project to fail.

And fair enough. Any LibDem candidate could have given most parts of Cameron's speech, and in an ideal world many Labour politicians would agree as well.

Unfortunately for Cameron, though, those parts of his speech where he set out his tent most explicitly, looking for the centre ground, were distinctly not applauded by the Conservative faithful. And when he felt he had to set out political specifics, to appease the masses, the contrast with his "there is such a thing as society, and we trust it" theme was striking.

But in any case, when someone's speech, having built up to this, ends up with a deliberate contrast between optimists (we trust local people) and pessimists (central Government must run and/or test everything), surely a decent journalist will at least try to bring up the main point of the speech?