Friday, 20 November 2009

And fleas shall have lesser fleas

Lady Ashton. Not a name that trips off the end of the tongue; certainly not a prospective 'I'm a Celebrity'. Until last night that is. However, the trusty internet shows she has quite a pedigree albeit the posts she has held seem somewhat exotic and maybe at the margins of everyday life.

The surprise of her victory throws light on just how undemocratic some things can be but still pass muster. The political commentators spent a lot of time on the question of Blair as EU King designate but missed her altogether. She was nominated by the Labour party. The sort of questions she was asked at her post-election news conference showed that hardly anyone knew what she would be doing in her new job. She herself was not sure or so overwhelmed by her success that she gave no really useful answer. This question should have been very easily dealt with. One assumes there was some sort of Job Description circulated in advance of nominations but we, the People, did not get involved in this. There is a definition on the Net and it all sounds very high level stuff. Setting her career details against the specification for her new job is not easy; hard to see what she may have gained from being a Governor at her daughter's school that fits her for the EU bear-pit. Maybe that is why she was given the new job - no real threat to the 27 Big Beasts of the Union. She has given a early interview to the BBC in which she insisted that the fact that she had never been elected to office would not be a disadvantage.
"I'm humbled by it, in that I'm very conscious of those who have been elected. It's why I spent a lot of time in the European parliament. It's why, when I was leader of the House of Lords, I was very conscious of the role of the House of Commons," she said. She also said that 27 elected heads of government had all had a say in her appointment "and they all decided on me". Asked if she was the best candidate for the job, she said: "Over the next few months and years I aim to show I am the best person for this job."
She clearly has had training in answering the question put. I do not want to wait the "next few months and years" for her to demonstrate she can do the job that faces her from Day One.
I am somewhat concerned at the failure of the 'experts' to flag up this woman. To be au fait with world politics requires tremendous dedication and we rely upon the commentators to give us digestible précis of things that should concern us. They are opinion formers - even if we disagree with them they make us go off and find out what there is to know.

However, whilst I have doubts and questions as to her being selected. I take nothing but the utmost joy that the carpetbagger Blair was shown out of the tradesmen's entrance. Good riddance.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Would not change my life!

I have been thinking about that shared £90M Lottery. It is something that happens every time there is a significant win.
First thing I rationalise is that it is not really all that much. This luxury home in America would swallow up £55M alone and I have not fitted it out, put even one car in the garage or installed Sophia Loren as the housekeeper. Rest assured that I would not join the ranks of those who proclaim that "it will not change me". I would become totally unrecognisable - why else venture the £1 joining fee? Neither do I hold with those who say they did not want a massive win "just a million or so". There are many little projects for the £89M if that is really the way they want to go. Certainly, I would spread happiness about. Just a few miles up the road from my present home is a isolated farm. It lies at the head of a valley with not another house in view. There are woods all around. A small stream in the valley floor and a large pond.

There are four or five residences so I assume it is home to mum, dad and a few kids. That is how I would use it. Gather the family around me. Some ornamental black pigs and a few of those Great Dane-sized Dexter cattle. We would all do as we wished - work, play or work and play. A commune without the group sex or drugs. Similar conditions would apply to the farm workers; Ex-forces recruited from such as SAS; just to keep riff raff away.

Me - I'd travel. First class is so relaxing! America on a season ticket basis. I always liked the States. It is so big that one can find all one wants relatively easily. The raw beauty of the Grand Canyon area to places in Kentucky that look like super-Surrey hunting country. When that paled, off to Malaysia. I was there when it was Malaya and the White Man's Word was Law. A state I could resurrect in a small world given the change from that £90M. A few months - while the alterations were being done on the big house - I'd retrace my Army postings and bore everyone rotten with tales of daring do.

So many plans. So much opportunity.

Just the one problem really.

I do not buy any tickets.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

12 good men and true

The news that the 9/11 facilitator will stand trial in a civilian venue is heartening. I assume that he will have all the protection that is due to any accused person but one might suspect would be missing were he to be put before some military tribunal. Justice seen to be done and all that. were found not guilty whilst seemingly innocent people were sent away to break rocks. At the same time as I was thinking about the trial of someone who has already admitted the offence - and more - I was reading some accounts of famous trials held in the early 1900's. There were reports of seemingly wrong decisions being returned by the jury. Accused caught bang to rights "It's a fair cop guv"Advocacy then was allowed a looser rein and many legal eagles would have earned an equally nice life on the stage. I would be unwise to detail any current findings; Mike Mansfield guards his reputation. Safe I think to just say O J Simpson? One can see something of the Jury Effect in what passes for TV entertainment such as X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing. The Inns of Court have an appeal process where a finding is deemed capricious but it seems this is rarely used. So, what would be the reaction if Mr. 9/11 were to be deemed not guilty? A poor performance from the prosecutor alongside a fine defence and a soupçon of 'let's not be beastly to the Muslims' and he might just walk. Lord Forbid. I cannot understand why we just get a crowd of likely level-headed clear thinking guys off the street to make what can be shatteringly life changing decisions. They are unlikely to have knowledge of psychology and only a weak understanding of sociology. Even worse, they may think they know what goes on in the mind of a unbalanced human or one who is quite settled into a life of crime. The aim of the defence has shifted from the old idea that they were there to see their client had all the protection and benefits he was due. Now, their intent is to have the man in the dock walk free. On the other hand, I have heard of "stealth" jurists stating during jury selection that they will be objective with the evidence but have no intention of doing so. Instead, they intentionally get on the jury using deception because they secretly want the accused convicted. The defence has only a limited number of challenges when a jury is being chosen. It then has to make specific protests. What chance of detecting someone who has had a relative killed by a drunk driver being empanelled in a driving under the influence case? It is not just being in the shoes of the accused. There are technical aspects as well. Some fraud cases will take two or more years to investigate and the skills of a specialist forensic accountant. How is that explained and made clear to a group of laymen? The guy who cooked the books will have taken advantage of loop holes - what will the 12 good men and women understand of those? It is not just that justice be seen as done to the accused - society demands it as well. Something needs to be done. The degree of risk that one might lose ones freedom is taken into account by serious criminals. They have to be controlled by knowing that if they do the crime they are going to do the time. Fluky verdicts can bolster their courage. So, maybe it is time we had a corps of jurors. They would be enlisted in accord with conditions much as now. They would be trained in law and given an insight into what makes humans tick. Their own antecedents would be known so that they were not selected to sit on cases sensitive to them. As a personal opinion, I would prefer to appear in front of a tribune properly selected and trained rather than just garnered from names on an electoral roll.