Covid 19 – Highlights of a (minority) lawless anti-social society

Me outside the old Maghull Police Station. This was once a real hub of community policing.

In any society there will always be a minority, possibly a significant one, which will not play by the rules set down by that society. Looking at the UK lockdown of recent months I’m wondering if our significant minority are wearing their non-conformist views on their sleeves? And I’m not taking about non-conformism here in the radical and Liberal sense of the word but more in the two fingers up to society as a whole way.

Let’s look at 3 pieces of potential evidence from the BBC website:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-53176717

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52370352

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-52674192

We will do as we like, when we like and the rest of you can rot in hell, maybe one way of putting it.

From my perspective the the issue is clear. If as a society we decide to turn a blind eye to minor acts of non-compliance with laws (which we have in reality done) then we have started what amounts to a game where those willing to push at the boundaries will do so to see how far they can get.

The solution, as it has always been, is community policing where local Bobbies are well known and they know those in their community who are likely to be the cause of anti-social behavior and crime. And I’m talking about sufficient numbers of Bobbies and probably more significantly PCSO’s for there to be boots and cycles on the ground 24 hours a day, NOT Bobbies parading miles away and being sent out when there’s trouble.

Yes that means all kinds of laws which are presently being broken many times each day in most communities being enforced for the common good. Start with the little things and our society will end up respecting its own rules and those who are tempted to ignore those rules will think twice before doing so. Most law breaking and anti-social behaviour at a community level is done because those doing it know, almost for sure, that they will not be held to account.

My view is our society has lost respect for itself because we’ve adopted, almost by accident, an every man or woman for themselves attitude.

Here on Merseyside we almost got there in terms of community policing of the kind first advocated by John Alderson the former Chief Constable of Devon & Cornwall in the early 1980’s. His at times one person battle to establish community policing was rejected by fellow police officers and ignored by government but eventually the Penny dropped and it became the goal of most police forces. On Merseyside we had specific officers and PCSO’s allocated to particular communities/local government electoral wards although the numbers were not high enough for it to work really well. However, it did work and just needed building on. Sadly it was abandoned on the high altar of austerity and probably because there was a feeling within the police that community policing was soft/not real policing. No fast cars, no drug busts, no big career opportunities in an organisation where getting up the slippery pole has always seemingly been the most important thing.

So we unlearned all the lessons we learned from taking Bobbies out of communities for a 2nd time. We did it first in the 1960’s and 1970’s as police officers were withdrawn from many communities into brand new central police stations in bigger towns and cities. John Alderson could see how that had failed communities so he tried to bring back community policing in the 1980’s. He eventually won the argument but we went and did it all over again in the 2000’s!

I wonder how long it will be before we adopt real community policing again? You never know there could well be promotions in it for police men and women keen for advancement who advocate it!

And there you have it that’s my potentially too simplistic reason for the state that we are in with anti-social behavior and crime and it’s an opinion I’m firmly stuck with. Covid 19 has brought out the best in most of us but the worst in others of that I’m also sure.

Oh and by the way I hope it goes without saying (but I fear it does not) that all community Bobbies in fact all police officers need to be recruited on the basis that don’t hold racist or homophobic views.

Coal – It once kept food on the tables of my mining community

A biomass train at Liverpool’s Seaforth Dock headed for Drax Power Station when full of wood pellets.

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52973089

As an environmental campaigner this story on the BBC website obviously interests me, not least because I was born and lived my early years (late 1950’s/early 1960’s) in a community dependent on the coal mines surrounding it. Of course it has to be good news that we have gone for 2 months without needing to use coal to generate power and at some point in the not too distant future power from coal in the UK will be all but a distant memory.

However, within the BBC article there’s mention of Drax Power Station running on biomass wood pellets and the photo at the head of this posting shows a biomass train at Liverpool’s Seaforth Dock. That train takes the imported pellets to Drax which have been delivered to the UK by ship. My point here is what are the carbon implications of producing the pellets bringing them by a diesel powered ship to the UK and then taking them across the north of England by a diesel powered train?

It may well be the case that the power station is all but carbon neutral and far more environmentally friendly than it was when it burned traditional fossil fuels but is biomass really as green as we are being led to believe when you take into account deforestation and the energy used to produce and deliver the wood pellets to Drax? It would be interesting to see any background work done by environmental scientists on this.

This article from the i newspaper (linked below) tackles some of the issues I have concerns about:-

inews.co.uk/news/environment/uk-drax-power-plant-burning-us-trees-wood-pellets-deforestation-303461

And for the context of my family involvement in coal mining here’s a blog posting about that from 2019:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2019/06/02/nottinghamshire-the-miners-strike/

Teachers standing up for safe learning conditions are condemned…….

The BBC has the article on it’s website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-52685220

Our right wing newspapers have always had a downer on the teaching profession so it’s no surprise that in the debate over when schools should return to being open (other than for the children of key workers and vulnerable youngsters) that it uses the issue to teacher bash. The Children’s Commissioner wading into the matter telling Government and teaching unions to ‘stop squabbling’ is frankly unhelpful too. By using such a phrase she probably inadvertently gives the impression of an equal battle where both sides could well be in the wrong. However, in my view, school staff are very much the victims of the back to school approach of HM Government.

A while back and before the somewhat arbitrary date for some primary school years to return was set by government I read this from the NEU:-

It struck me as a very sensible document which clearly laid out and in a concise way the concerns of teachers and school staff in general.

The real issue here has been the lack of constructive/meaningful engagement with teachers representatives in the back to school process BEFORE the arbitrary date of June 1st was set for English primary schools.

We never seem to learn the value of good industrial relations in the UK and keep making the same old mistakes yet those making the mistakes/missteps then use the press to attack the victims of flawed consultation or in need non-consultation! That those who work in schools expect their unions to be be fully consulted is a given, it’s not rocket science for goodness sake.

Get off the backs of school staff, they are not the problem here and they have the support of the vast majority of parents.

It’s not wrong to expect a safe working and learning environment to be fully mapped out before orders to get on with it are are handed out from Downing Street.

Click on the NEU document to enlarge for reading

5G – Why are some folk so upset about it?

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-52395771

I think I’ve only been asked about the safety of 5G once as a local councillor and on that occasion I suggested that the enquirer contact Sefton Council’s Environmental Health for help/information.

But apart from genuine enquiries from people wanting to know more about 5G where have all the conspiracy theories come from? Is it because our present health crisis makes folks are more vulnerable to those who make up scare stories? Indeed, some utterly ridiculous conspiracy theories try to link 5G to Covid 19! Could it be the Chinese connection with 5G and the concerns around the involvement of a major Chinese tech company? Why was there no fuss over 4G yet there is over 5G?

We’ve even now got to the stage of attacks on what are believed to be 5G tech facilities and threats to BT workers!

The problem with conspiracy theories is that they are hard to debunk because any argument against them is seen to be the establishment making up stories to defend what the believers of the theories think is true. The more ‘evidence’ that is presented the more it entrenches the belief that the ‘authorities’ are trying to hide a big secret. There are still people out there who think that man actually didn’t go to the moon. Alternatively, some think the there are humans living on the moon. I fear the 5G conspiracy theories are in the same league.

Remember over Brexit when a Senior Government MP said people have had enough of experts or words to that effect. That was the reaction of someone having their barmy Brexit theories challenged and hitting out at those who were offering a different evidence based alternative which they needed to to try to discredit. But daft things said by our leaders are not said in isolation or without consequences and some will say if the government does not believe in experts neither will I and we end up in a post-truth Trump-like society where conspiracy theories can all but become mainstream.

Readers of the-is blog site will know that I’ve been pondering on antisemitism and the appalling things that flow from it, having had it in previous generations of my own family I’m ashamed to say. What I’m learning is that antisemitic thinking is akin to those who pedal conspiracy theories as so many attacks on Jewish people are linked to such theories.

Am I a scientist or a tech expert? No of course I’m not. Do I believe there is scientific/health related problem with 5G? Well I’ve seen no credible evidence of such so why would I think there was and then tell others that I thought there was. Do I have any 5G concerns? Well yes but it’s with regard to those providing it and the support for it and whether it will lead to information being taken for inappropriate/illegal purposes but there are many of us who have that worry.

In life the vast majority of conspiracy theories are actually cock-ups but there are some completely made up theories that seem to take a hold in society and gain traction because some folk want to believe them. Brexit and the EU is one we’re presently living through. But just ask any Jewish person as they’ll probably tell you that they’ve had to live with conspiracy theories against them for generations upon generations and look what that led to in 1940’s German; except that some conspiracy theorists will actually say that the holocaust never happened!

Finally, social media has been a big help to those pedaling conspiracy theories as they can put stuff out there and then get us to pass it on simply because we have been taken in or because the message has fitted with our own ill-informed prejudice. If you’re asked to pass something on just think, is it really true or are you being used to pedal someone else’s conspiracy theory.

What the BBC can do – so sad that it’s news output in recent times has been so poor

The BBC has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-51636642

I’m no fan of the BBC’s news and current affairs output of recent years yet this piece on its website makes me realise how lost we’d been without the BBC. This is excellent writing by Kirstie Brewer and it makes me all the more sad that at times BBC news output is so superficial, unbalanced and seemingly biased towards politicians who seem to have a great deal of difficulty telling the truth.

Brexit exposed the BBC horribly and it’s coverage lacked the grit needed to expose the liars and snake oil salesmen, indeed at times it seemed that ‘Auntie’ believed them because of its lack of challenge.

That the BBC’s news current affairs and news output needs some significant work to bring it back to the standards it once had is a given for me but I’m no fan of destroying it. When you read quality journalism as in the link above you realise that there is hope for the Beeb.

Sobers couldn’t have done it without Nash

Surely cricket’s most famous day – 6 sixes in one over – see link below

www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/cricket/45361645

I wonder how many times Malcolm Nash has related the story of how he was hit for 6 sixes? Notice Sobers having a fag whilst being interviewed! How times change……..

Here’s a link all about Sobers:-

www.trentbridge.co.uk/trentbridge/history/players/sir-garfield-sobers.html

As a Nottinghamshire lad Sobers, Randall and Larwood are my cricketing heroes……….