Posts Tagged ‘UK’

Edmonton Beheading Update

Friday, September 5th, 2014

British police name the beheader as “Nicholas Salvadore, a 25-year-old would-be cage fighter who is believed to be a Muslim convert, who had been living a few doors from 82-year-old [Victim] Palmira Silva.”

Seeing some reports that Salvadore is a Nigerian immigrant, but I don’t think that’s been confirmed.

Weasel Zippers comments on possible Islamist influences. “You can be mentally ill and still be influenced by extremism.”

British Police Claim Beheading By Convert To Islam “Not Terrorism Related”

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Another beheading in the UK, this time in Edmonton, north London, by what his neighbors claim is a convert to Islam, but “detectives said they had ruled out terrorism as a motive for the killing.”

Well, isn’t that special. Funny how you can rule something out without apparently doing any investigation. It seems the spirit of multicultural political correctness is still alive and well in the UK.

Racking my brain, I can’t seem to recall a single instance in my lifetime of beheading by a convert to Catholicism or Judaism…

Pictures from the Bovington Tank Museum: British Tanks

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

More pictures from the Bovington Tank Museum, this time of British tanks from World War II.

The Tortoise, an experimental prototype of a super-wide, super-heavy assault tank (actually a self-propelled gun) that made it off the production line too late to fight in World War II.

Matilda I infantry tank. I think most of the Mark I’s were destroyed in the fall of France.

Cruiser Tank Mark I…

…and Mark II.

Maybach tank transmission.

The Valentine Archer.

Valentine Mark II.

The Churchill tank. Not sure why the main barrel was off.

Black Prince, an experimental wider, heavier Churchill.

Churchill Mark III.

Centurion Mark I.

Centurion engine.

Cruiser Comet.

Cromwell Cruiser.

Tank gearbox.

I think this is a Mark VI light tank.

The Valiant: “One of The Worst Tanks Ever Made”

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Before we get into the British and U.S. tanks I saw at the Bovington Tank Museum, let’s look at one British prototype tank they had there, the Valiant, AKA “One of the Worst Tanks Ever Designed.”

Let’s look at the official Bovington description, shall we?

The Valiant appears to be one of the worst tanks ever designed in Britain. It is difficult to find any contemporary reports that say anything good about it!

The Valiant was originally designed by Vickers Armstrong to meet a War Office requirement for an Infantry Assault Tank for service in the Far East. During development the project was transferred first to the Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon Co. and then to Ruston and Hornsby Ltd. of Grantham.

The designers were required to apply the thickest possible armour while keeping the weight as low as possible. Inevitably the hull was very small; the front hull casting was virtually moulded around the driver while the turret ring stuck out over the sides of the hull. In comparison the turret appeared to be enormous, as it had to accommodate a three man crew, (commander, gunner and loader/radio operator).

The Valiant used the same diesel engine as the Valentine (See E1949.344), although it had little else in common with the earlier tank. Design documents exist for an improved version, the Valiant II, powered by a Rolls Royce Meteorite engine, converted to diesel operation.

Ruston and Hornsby built one prototype in 1944. Trials in 1944 – 45 revealed serious problems. With a power:weight ratio of 7.8hp per ton, the tank was slow. The ground clearance at the rear was found to be too low and the suspension, located partly under the hull, was easily damaged during cross-country driving. More seriously the driver was almost crippled by the cramped driving position and was in danger of being injured by the controls. Furthermore, the controls required inordinate strength to operate them. The tests were abandoned immediately.

Not surprisingly the Valiant did not enter production, officially because the war was likely to be over before the tank could be introduced into service.

My pics of the Valiant didn’t come out particularly well, but they do show what an odd looking tank it was:

And here’s a better pic from Bovington:

Wikipedia (citing David Fletcher’s book Universal Tank: British Armour in the Second World War), says “The sole Valiant was retained by the School of Tank Technology, where students were treated to an inspection of it at the end of their course and invited to find fault. David Fletcher wrote of this: ‘One hopes they started early in the morning.’”

Ridiculous Bureaucratic Compensation in the UK

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

It’s not just California. The bureaucratic apparatus has a way of feathering its own nests across the globe.

Take the “town hall tycoons” in the UK, for example:

  • There were at least 2,181 council employees who received total remuneration in excess of £100,000 in 2012-13, a fall of 5 per cent on the previous year’s 2,295.

  • Despite this, 93 councils increased the number of staff who received remuneration in excess of £100,000 in 2012-13.
  • Keep in mind that at current exchange rates, £100,000 is somewhere north of $180,000.

    Protestors March Against UK’s Non-Existent Austerity

    Saturday, June 21st, 2014

    I see that #NoMoreAusterity is trending on Twitter this morning. It seems the usual leftist protest sorts are rallying against the Cameron government’s “austerity.”

    The only problem is it doesn’t exist.

    Real austerity is cutting government spending until it matches receipts. Under David Cameron, deficit spending has merely gone from 11.4% of GDP in 2010 to a projected 5.8% in 2014. So the UK government hasn’t practiced austerity, it’s merely slowed the rate at which it’s digging its own grave.

    For the protestors, this simply will not do. They want government to give them things, and if it means having the moribund economies of Greece and Spain, so be it.

    But unlike Greece and Spain, the UK won’t be able to get Germany to bail them out, nor to hold down the hyperinflation that is the inevitable endpoint of excess deficit spending.

    What UKIP’s Big Election Win Means

    Saturday, May 24th, 2014

    The UK Independence Party (universally known as UKIP) won a big victory in UK Council and European Parliament elections.

    I’ve been struggling with how to frame the significance of UKIP’s victory without committing the sort of ghastly “distant observer” mistakes that Europeans do when analyzing American political results (such as the British liberal who confidently assured me that Texas was becoming a blue state).

    Fortunately, Peter Oborne in The Spectator has done the task far better than I could have, so I’m going to break with blogging tradition by quoting whopping great swathes of his analysis.

    When [UKIP head Nigel Farage] emerged as a force ten years ago, Britain was governed by a cross-party conspiracy. It was impossible to raise the issue of immigration without being labelled racist, or of leaving the EU without being insulted as a fanatic. Mainstream arguments to shrink the size of the state, or even to challenge its growth, were regarded as a sign of madness or inhumanity — hence Michael Howard’s decision to sack Howard Flight for advocating just that during the 2005 election campaign. The NHS and Britain’s collapsing education system were beyond criticism. Any failure to conform was policed by the media, and the BBC in particular.

    Meanwhile, the three main political parties had been captured by the modernisers, an elite group which defied political boundaries and was contemptuous of party rank and file. As I demonstrated in The Triumph of the Political Class (2007), politicians suddenly emerged as a separate interest group. The senior cadres of the New Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem parties had far more in common with each other than ordinary voters. General elections were taken out of the hands of (unpaid) party activists and placed in the hands of a new class of political expert. Ed Miliband’s expensive American strategist, David Axelrod, who flew into London on a fleeting visit to the shadow cabinet last week, is an example.

    In this new world, the vast majority of voters ceased to count. The new political class immediately wrote off all voters in safe seats — from unemployed ship-workers in Glasgow to retired lieutenant colonels in Tunbridge Wells. Their views could be disregarded because in electoral terms they were of no account. This callous attitude brought into existence a system of pocket boroughs in parts of Scotland, driving traditional Labour voters into the hands of the SNP and (as can now be seen clearly with hindsight) jeopardising the union. The only voters that political modernisers cared about were those in Britain’s approximately 100 marginal seats — and even the majority of those were considered of no significance. During the 2005 general election I went to see the co-chairman of the Conservatives, Maurice Saatchi, who boasted that barely 100,000 swing voters in the marginal seats mattered to him. Saatchi reassured me that the Conservative party had bought a large American computer that would (with the help of focus groups) single out these voters and tell them what they needed in order to make them vote Conservative.

    The majority of national journalists, for the most part well-paid Londoners, were part of this conspiracy against the British public. They were often personally connected with the new elite, with whom they shared a snobbery about the concerns of ordinary voters.

    Immigration is an interesting case study. For affluent political correspondents, it made domestic help cheaper, enabling them to pay for the nannies, au pairs, cleaning ladies, gardeners and tradesmen who make middle-class life comfortable.

    These journalists were often provided with private health schemes, and were therefore immune from the pressure on NHS hospitals from immigration. They tended to send their children to private schools. This meant they rarely faced the problems of poorer parents, whose children find themselves in schools where scores of different languages were spoken in the playground. Meanwhile the corporate bosses who funded all the main political parties (and owned the big media groups) tended to love immigration because it meant cheaper labour and higher profits.

    Great tracts of urban Britain have been utterly changed by immigration in the course of barely a generation. The people who originally lived in these areas were never consulted and felt that the communities they lived in had been wilfully destroyed. Nobody would speak up for them: not the Conservatives, not Labour, not the Lib Dems. They were literally left without a voice.

    To sum up, the most powerful and influential figures in British public life entered into a conspiracy to ignore and to denigrate millions of British voters. Many of these people were Labour supporters. Ten years ago, when Tony Blair was in his pomp, some of these voters were driven into the arms of the racist British National Party and its grotesque leader Nick Griffin. One of Britain’s unacknowledged debts to Nigel Farage is the failure of Griffin’s racist project. Disenfranchised Labour voters tend to drift to the SNP in Scotland and Ukip in England.

    Read the whole thing.

    Mark Steyn has some choices quotes on the meaning of UKIP’s victory as well (as he almost invariably does):

    A casual observer might easily assume the election was being fought between Farage’s UKIP and a Tory-Labour-Liberal-Media coalition.

    (snip)

    The British media spent 20 years laughing at UKIP. But they’re not laughing now — not when one in four electors takes them seriously enough to vote for them. So, having dismissed him as a joke, Fleet Street now warns that Farage uses his famous sense of humor as a sly cover for his dark totalitarian agenda — the same well-trod path to power used by other famous quipsters and gag-merchants such as Adolf Hitler, whose Nuremberg open-mike nights were legendary. “Nigel Farage is easy to laugh at . . . that means he’s dangerous,” declared the Independent. The Mirror warned of an “unfulfilled capacity for evil.” “Stop laughing,” ordered Jemma Wayne in the British edition of the Huffington Post. “Farage would lead us back to the dark ages.” The more the “mainstream” shriek about how mad, bad, and dangerous UKIP is, the more they sound like the ones who’ve come unhinged.

    UKIP is pronounced “You-kip,” kip being Brit slang for “sleep.” When they write the book on how we came to this state of affairs, they’ll call it While England Kipped. A complacent elite assured itself that UKIP would remain an irritating protest vote, but that’s all. It was born in 1993 to protest the Maastricht treaty, the point at which a continent-wide “common market” finally cast off the pretense of being an economic arrangement and announced itself as a “European Union,” a pseudo-state complete with “European citizenship.” The United Kingdom Independence party was just that: a liberation movement. Its founder, a man who knew something about incoherent Euro-polities, was the Habsburg history specialist Alan Sked, who now dismisses the party as a bunch of “fruitcakes.” As old-time Perotistas will understand, new movements are prone to internecine feuds. UKIP briefly fell under the spell of the oleaginous telly huckster Robert Kilroy-Silk, who subsequently quit to found a party called “Veritas,” which he has since also quit.

    But Farage was there at the founding, as UKIP’s first-ever parliamentary candidate. In 1994, a rising star of the Tory party, Stephen Milligan, was found dead on his kitchen table, with a satsuma and an Ecstasy tab in his mouth, and naked except for three lady’s stockings, two on his legs and one on his arm. In his entertaining book, one of the few political memoirs one can read without forcing oneself to finish, Farage has a melancholy reflection on Milligan’s bizarrely memorable end: “It was the sad destiny . . . of this former President of the Oxford Union to contribute more to public awareness — albeit of a very arcane nature — by the manner of his death than by his work in life.” That’s to say, the late Mr. Milligan more or less singlehandedly planted the practice of “auto-erotic asphyxiation” in the public consciousness — since when (as John O’Sullivan suggested here a while back) the Tory party seems to have embraced it as a political philosophy.

    At the time, Milligan’s death enabled a by-election in the constituency of Eastleigh. Farage stood for UKIP, got 952 votes (or 1.4 percent), and narrowly beat the perennial fringe candidate Screaming Lord Sutch of the Monster Raving Loony party, which, in a perceptive insight into the nature of government, was demanding more than one Monopolies Commission (the British equivalent of the Antitrust Division). While waiting for the count, Lord Sutch said, “Oi, Nige. Let’s go for a drink, shall we? The rest of this lot are a bunch of wankers.” In the BBC footage of the announcement of the results, Mr. Farage appears to be flushed and swaying slightly. Let Kilroy-Silk split to form a breakaway party called Veritas; Farage is happy to be in vino. He is a prodigious drinker and smoker. I can personally testify to the former after our Toronto appearance. As to the latter, not even Obama can get away with that in public. But Farage does.

    The wobbly boozer turned out to be the steady hand at the tiller UKIP needed. He was elected (via proportional representation) to the European Parliament, which for the aspiring Brit politician is Siberia with an expense account. Then, in 2010, Farage became a global Internet sensation by raining on the EU’s most ridiculous parade — the inaugural appearance by the first supposed “President of Europe,” not a popularly elected or even parliamentarily accountable figure but just another backroom deal by the commissars of Eutopia. The new “President” was revealed to be, after the usual Franco-German stitch-up, a fellow from Belgium called Herman van Rompuy. “Who are you?” demanded Farage from his seat in the European Parliament during President van Rompuy’s address thereto. “No one in Europe has ever heard of you.” Which was quite true. One day, Mr. van Rompuy was an obscure Belgian, the next he was an obscure Belgian with a business card reading “President of Europe.” But, as is his wont, Nigel warmed to his theme and told President van Rompuy that he had “the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk.” A few days later, having conferred in their inner sanctum, the Eurocrats ordered Farage to make a public apology. So he did — to low-grade bank clerks for having been so ill-mannered as to compare them to President van Rompuy. He was then fined 2,980 euros (about $4,000) for his impertinence, since when he has referred to the European president as Rumpy-Pumpy, a British synonym for a bloody good shag.

    (snip)

    As I understand it, at some point in the last decade a Labour prime minister exited 10 Downing Street by the back door and a Conservative prime minister came in through the front. And yet nothing changed. And the more frantically Tory loyalists talk up the rare sightings of genuine conservatism — Education Secretary Michael Gove’s proposed reforms! — the more they remind you of how few there are.

    And, even more than the policies, the men advancing them are increasingly interchangeable. I lived in London for a long time and still get to Britain every few months, but I can barely tell any of these guys apart. They look the same, dress the same, talk the same. The equivalent British shorthand for “the Beltway” is “the Westminster village,” which accurately conveys both its size and its parochialism but not perhaps the increasingly Stepfordesque quality of its inhabitants. The Labour, Liberal, and Tory leaders all came off the assembly line within 20 minutes of each other in the 1960s and, before they achieved their present ascendancy, worked only as consultants, special advisers, public-relations men. One of them did something at the European Commission, another was something to do with a think tank for social justice — the non-jobs that now serve as political apprenticeships. The men waiting to succeed them are also all the same. There are mild variations in background — this one went to Eton, that one is heir to an Irish baronetcy — but once they determine on a life in politics they all lapse into the same smarmy voice, and they all hold the same opinions, on everything from the joys of gay marriage and the vibrant contributions of Islam to the vital necessity of wind farms and the historical inevitability of the EU. And they sound even more alike on the stuff they stay silent on — ruinous welfare, transformative immigration, a once-great nation’s shrunken armed forces…

    (snip)

    On the Continent, on all the issues that matter, competitive politics decayed to a rotation of arrogant co-regents of a hermetically sealed elite, and with predictable consequences: If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain topics, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable ones. As noted, Farage is too funny to make a convincing fascist, but, with the great unwashed pounding on the fence of their gated community, the Westminster village have redoubled their efforts.

    (snip)

    On the Continent, on all the issues that matter, competitive politics decayed to a rotation of arrogant co-regents of a hermetically sealed elite, and with predictable consequences: If the political culture forbids respectable politicians from raising certain topics, then the electorate will turn to unrespectable ones. As noted, Farage is too funny to make a convincing fascist, but, with the great unwashed pounding on the fence of their gated community, the Westminster village have redoubled their efforts.

    (snip)

    Farage is a close student of the near-total collapse of the intellectually bankrupt Canadian Conservative party in the early Nineties, and its split into various factions. The western-based Reform party could not get elected nationwide, but they kept certain political ideas in play, which moved the governing Liberals to the right, and eventually enabled them to engineer a reverse takeover of the Tory party. UKIP, likewise, is keeping certain important, indeed existential questions in play, and it’s not inconceivable that Farage, who regards himself as a member of “the Tory family,” could yet engineer a reverse takeover of whatever post-Cameron husk remains half a decade down the road.

    Again, read the whole thing. (Which should be taken as a given for any Steyn piece. And since I’m swiping enormous chunks of his prose today, also consider buying some of his stuff.)

    One sign of how scared the political establishment is of UKIP is that the government is actually funding an advertising campaign against them.

    Here in the United States, both Republicans and Democrats should take a good, hard look at UKIP’s rise. Many of the “forbidden” topics UKIP is raising there (big government, control by a small cabal of elites, immigration) are animating the Tea Party (and even, to some extent, parts of Occupy).

    LinkSwam for May 31, 2013

    Friday, May 31st, 2013

    The season has switched from not Summer to Summer here in Texas, so here’s a hot, humid LinkSwarm:

  • In Europe, youth unemployment is climbing to scary, stratospheric heights. So scary I’m going to swipe their chart:

    Notice how countries that have kept their deficit spending relatively low (Germany and even the UK, where deficits has at least decreased under Cameron) are doing much better than the PIIGS. Again, Austerity hasn’t failed in Europe, it’s been declared difficult and left untried.

  • Harry Reid calls his close personal friend and business associate Harvey Whittemore (and his wife) “wonderful people.” Oh, and Whittemore is now also a convicted felon.
  • Eric Holder: Obama’s sin eater. “The attorney general has done little in his tenure to protect civil liberties or the free press. Rather, Holder has supervised a comprehensive erosion of privacy rights, press freedom and due process. This ignoble legacy was made possible by Democrats who would look at their shoes whenever the Obama administration was accused of constitutional abuses.”
  • Pentagon Papers lawyer James Goodale talks about just how bad Obaama is for freedom of the press.
  • ObamaCare rates next year in California: “Obamacare will increase individual-market premiums by an average of 116 percent.”
  • Britain remains in denial over Islamic terror.
  • The Gang of 8 proposal implements amnesty and gives conservatives nothing in return.
  • Ted Cruz actually tries to fix the bill. Gang of 8 tells him to get stuffed.
  • The Chicago Sun-Times lays off their entire staff of photographers. Including a Pulitzer Prize winner.
  • And Even More on Margaret Thatcher

    Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

    And still more on the late, great Margaret Thatcher:

  • Thatcher was right, and the left was wrong.
  • An appreciation by Paul Johnson.
  • Thatcher didn’t just smash paralyzing, militant trade unions, she also smashed the traditional British class structure.
  • Reagan’s greatest ally.
  • Thatcher appealed to the workers, not the shirkers.
  • Attention British liberals: Margaret Thatcher was not an all-powerful Satan.

    This is incredible quaintness bordering on total delusion, the notion that Thatcher invented or popularised the previously unpopular notion of selfishness is laughable. As if before Margaret Thatcher the population of Britain was a kibbutz, or British people were known for their intense altruism, tossing money out of windows in the hope that literally anyone else would have it… She was a democratically elected politician after all, she won three elections and lost none, she didn’t dictate the mood of the public, rightly or wrongly – she reflected it.

  • One of the many enterprises Thatcher’s policies helped out? Theater.
  • What is the proper way for British left-wingers to celebrate Thatcher’s demise? Why, smash a charity shop’s windows and injure six policemen, of course.
  • More on Margaret Thatcher: Quotes, Videos and Tributes

    Monday, April 8th, 2013

    More on the late Margaret Thatcher:

  • In her own words. A few choice examples:

    “I am not a consensus politician. I’m a conviction politician.”

    “There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families.”

    “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain only to see them re-imposed at a European level, with a European superstate exercising a new dominance from Brussels.”

  • How unions paralyzed Great Britain before Thatcher came in. Check out the giant piles of garbage.
  • Charles Cooke in National Review:

    Britain was a disaster: The lights frequently went out, trash was piled up in the streets, and the IMF was called in to bail the treasury out — in response to which the civil service decided that their role was to “manage” Britain’s decline and fall….’Diversity’ types are amusingly silent about her — and for good reason, as her example is utterly lethal to the culture of victimhood on which they rely. The global Left, likewise, has strong motives to disparage her: She realized that decline was a choice….She was right and they were wrong. While they blathered, she helped to defeat Communism, restored democracy to the Falklands, and saved Britain from the reds at home. She was, without doubt, our finest post-war premier and she made an incalculable contribution to the life of my country of birth.

  • How she stood up against Communism.

    Those on the Left who still probably regard Thatcher as a hate-figure, have either forgotten the history of the Cold War or possibly never understood that Communism meant the virtual enslavement of millions of people in the East European countries, who loathed its ideology as much as Margaret Thatcher herself. It is simply not possible to imagine Thatcher visiting Russia in the 1930s, like certain Left-wing useful idiots from Britain, and being taken in by Stalin’s propaganda machine. Ordinary East Europeans took a different view of her to her critics in this country. For them she symbolised opposition to Communism; indeed she was given a tumultuous welcome by the shipyard workers in Gdansk when she visited them. She wept at the sight.

  • More on the same subject.
  • Thatcher was right about the Euro. Amazing how prescient she looks for grasping the obvious decades before it became obvious to her detractors…
  • Roundup of praise from past and presant world leaders, including Bush41, Lech Walesa and Mikhail Gorbachev.
  • Some videos.

    Thatcher on Socialism

    Announcing the invasion of the Falklands

    Her statement on European integration (“No! No! No!”).

    (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)

    Thatcher on William F. Buckley, Jr.’s Firing Line:

    On the danger of the Euro:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz on Thatcher’s passing.
  • Reactions from various Texans.
  • Thatcher on why Ronald Reagan was a great President.
  • And on his passing.