Ron uses this month's Soapbox to criticise the lack of equipment support to our arned forces, the loss of that good old British "Get Up and Go" spirit and gives sound reasons why the BNP is flourishing.
Equipping our armed forces
The recent report following the enquiry into the crash of a RAF Hercules aircraft in Iraq concluded that it had been shot down by fire from the ground. It also concluded that, had the aircraft been fitted with the appropriate equipment to suppress fuel tank fires and explosions, there was a good chance that the crash would not have occurred.
This is yet another example in a long list of instances where it has become apparent that our forces have not been adequately equipped with latest and most appropriate methods of providing protection to personnel. It may be argued that the defence budget is such that the armed forces cannot afford to provide all that is desirable in the way of personnel protection but, if that is so, then I would argue that this is an unacceptable situation. If we, as a nation, are not prepared, or not able, to allocate sufficient funds to the defence budget to ensure that our forces are as well equipped as is technically possible, then we should limit our engagements in overseas shooting wars to an extent that would ensure that we can provide the necessary equipment in order to minimise the risk to our men and women. It is one thing to ask a man or woman to risk their life in the defence of their country, it is another thing entirely to ask them to take risks that could be avoided when engaged in some overseas activity that has nothing to do with the defence of their country.
Getting Things done
I am beginning to think that we have somehow lost the ability as a nation to get things done. Examples of building projects running well behind schedule are commonplace e.g. Wembley, Scottish Parliament building etc etc. Reports of computer installations that run behind schedule and fail to work as intended, are just as frequent. Monitoring of dangerous criminals on probation: Failing to deport foreign criminals on their release from prison: Getting the CSA to work properly: Overpaying Tax Credits: Legal battles that go on forever before a conclusion is reached when only the lawyers are the winners. The list of failures goes on and on, can we do anything right anymore? Why is it? Is it because we are stifled by red tape? Or are we just incompetent?
We must all be grateful that things were not so in 1940. One can only marvel at what was achieved in this country between 1940 and 1945 and in the years immediately after the war. During the war factories to produce weapons and equipment on a huge scale were built or converted. Tens of thousands of aircraft were built along with hundreds of airfields. In the late forties and early fifties an unbelievable number of new homes were created. Some might now criticise the high rise flats and the new towns, but they seemed a good idea at the time and the fact is we got on and built them. Maybe there was nothing wrong with the ideas, only with the people. We lived in Harlow New Town for a year or so in the fifties, I thought it was a great place to live in those days, any faults with Harlow today cannot be blamed on the people that designed it and built it, but rather with those who have come after
In those days it seemed as though we could move mountains, what a pity we have somehow lost that ability.
Some observer have been surprised by the recent success of the BNP in a few constituencies. The liberal elite and middle class liberals have preached to the country on the advantages of immigration and have produced questionable figures to support their claim that immigration is to our economic advantage. To them, apart from more fashionable ethnic restaurants, immigration means cheap domestic labour, cheap labour for employers plus a belief that some of them will be those with such a strong desire to succeed that they will become entrepreneurs.
For those on low income and living in poor housing, however, immigration means competition for housing provided by local councils and housing associations and a threat of lowering their already low wages. Many have seen local councils providing accommodation for fresh immigrants, practically on demand, whilst they have been waiting for years. They have seen their schools swamped by children that do not speak English as their first language. They have suffered this state of affairs for years, if not decades, if they complain they are labelled racist. Main stream political parties have shown little sympathy for their position, is it any wonder that they have turned to the BNP?
Nationally we are told that we have a housing shortage and that tens of thousands of new homes are required. With over 250,000 immigrants entering the country in just the last five years, it is not surprising. Whilst many immigrants have been beneficial to the nation many others have been a burden on social services. A disproportionate amount of crime is attributable to immigrants, first or second generation, as is evident from the numbers in prison, or can be demonstrated by watching any episode of 'Crimewatch'.
The Labour government started with a very relaxed attitude towards immigration, to the point of actively encouraging it. They have become aware of public concern and more recently have attempted to introduce tighter controls with stated intentions of deporting unworthy applicants for asylum, but deportation has proved difficult to achieve as cases have dragged on through the courts, with first outcomes going to appeal and the judiciary using human rights legislation to thwart the will of Parliament. The latest case of nine hijackers being given permission to stay being the latest unbelievable example and is just another instance of the so called human rights of the individual taking preference over the rights of society.
Trade in Humans
According to a United Nations report, Trafficking in Persons, Global Patterns slavery of one form or another is widespread in the world today, the actual number of slaves extending to a million or more. The trade is often referred to as 'human trafficking' and it is appalling to think that this can go on on this scale in the 21st century. What is worse is that it is claimed that the majority of victims are young women traded as sex slaves, and it appears to be a trade that is expanding, the expansion of the European community and the resultant ease with which many borders can be crossed is partly responsible, most of the men involved in the trade are from eastern Europe and beyond. It seems that many of these women are literally held as prisoners and forced by violence to have sex with men, the 'slave masters' collecting the money. Any escapees recaptured may be beaten in front of others as a deterrent. At £50 or more from each 'client' and upwards of thirty men for each young woman each day (one escaped girl claimed 80 'clients' on one day) it is obvious that it can be a very lucrative business, a few girls will soon make their owners very rich and the unscrupulous are attracted to the trade. Unfortunately, according to the UN, the UK is one of the leading countries in which the trade flourishes.
Of course this trade can only exist if there are sufficient 'customers', but sadly it appears that there are. Even so, the trade can only flourish if the authorities fail to make a serious attempt at its eradication by providing adequate resources and ensuring that the police regard it as a matter of utmost importance. Sadly the population at large appear to show little concern and, no doubt, the lack of importance attached to defeating the traffickers by politicians is a reflection of the lack of interest by their constituents and by the media.
Many of the victims from Eastern Europe and SE Asia are entrapped by trickery, others have been literally kidnapped. One newspaper report claims that these girls are fairly openly auctioned in ports and airport lounges. I understand that, at present, if one of these young women manages to escape her captors in this country and goes to the police she is likely to be deported very quickly (unlike many other immigrants) unless she is willing to testify against the criminals, even if she does agree to testify she is likely to be deported as soon as the trial is over. Understandably, knowing that they will be sent back to where they came from where the criminals will be able to find them, and having been told what would happen to them and/or their family if they do testify they are reluctant to do so, it is unfair to expect them to make what are literally life and death decisions to help prosecute criminals, while offering little in the way of support or protection. This policy of rapid deportation makes it difficult to successfully prosecute the culprits, only a very few successful prosecutions have been brought.
It is true that there has been some increase in activity by the police with a few successful raids and there has been some change in attitude such that the victims are now more likely to be regarded as victims rather than criminals, but the new force SOCA (the British FBI, so called) is more concerned with the drugs trade than in the trafficking of women and children. There is a new operation, code named 'Pentameter', and on 9th May there was a raid by police as part of this operation that succeeded in rescuing 19 women and making some arrests but it is doubtful if they caught the men behind the operation, the real offenders behind the trade appear to go undetected. According to Bob Murril, who is heading the police fight against organised crime, the police are only scratching the surface of the problem. Home Office figures for the number of slaves thought to have been brought into the country in 2001 alone was over 1400, but the situation has worsened since then, the police estimate that there are now at least 5000 sex slaves in London alone. The Council of Europe has drawn up a convention to protect the human rights of sex slaves. Most European countries have signed and it is to be very much regretted that the UK will not sign, possibly another failing of the Home Office and differences of opinion between politicians, police, immigration et al. It is a very modest convention offering only very minor concessions to the victims but, if we did sign, it might increase the chances of bringing successful prosecutions. No doubt the Government has its reasons for not signing but surely those reasons cannot justify failing to provide a minimum level of compassion.
If a man has sex with a woman under threat of violence then it is rape. These girls are being raped repeatedly and yet little is being done to protect them whilst one single rape of a woman is usually treated as a very serious matter. It is true that the police have recently made it clear that they may regard sex with a trafficked woman as rape and threaten to prosecute 'clients'. This may deter some, but the client may not be aware that the sex is being provided under duress, it also has the disadvantage that it could deter a client from reporting a case when he suspects that it was a 'slave' situation. Of course if there were no clients there would be no trade but attempting to stop the trade by deterring clients seems very unlikely to succeed, the fact that the women are submissive and compliant because of the threat violence is likely to make them attractive to those seeking unprotected sex as well as all kinds of perverts.
It is a scandal and a matter of great shame that we, as a nation, can have this trade flourishing in our country and do so little to eradicate it. We should be shouting from the rooftops and demanding much more action.