Anti-Semitism I have no time for racism or anti-Semitism, I believe strongly that every individual should be judged on their actions and treated accordingly, regardless of who they are or where they come from. The Israelis have behaved very badly towards the Palestinians, their actions have been almost universally deplored throughout the world. It is only the bullying tactic of the USA that has protected them from international action to force them to stop their continual expansion into Palestinian lands by displacing the Palestinians in order to establish settlements. If we are to judge people by their actions then we should be prepared to criticise those Israelis responsible for this action and those individuals who support them. There are, I know, many Jews in the UK very critical of Israel’s behaviour, but there are some who support them. Those in the UK who support them should expect to be criticised and encounter those who would openly challenge their views. That is not being anti-Semitic, unfortunately when those Jews supporting Israel’s actions do encounter those who criticise them they are likely to accuse their critics of anti-Semitism.
Housing Crisis I watched a TV programme on the Housing Crisis presented by Michael Portillo. He endeavoured to explain how it had arisen and spent some time reviewing the history of social housing since the late nineteenth century. He pointed out the role of the local councils in providing council houses, and he deplored the very large reduction in the number of council homes compared with the 1920s/30s. He made the point that back in those times the council homes were for the working classes and the tenants were mostly in work and were proud people who took a pride in their homes. Whilst that is still true for many council tenants, the majority of workers are expected to make their own provision for housing and council housing has become largely populated by the unemployed and people on state benefits. Despite his recognition of the appalling state of housing provision in the UK he continued to support the right-to-buy policy introduced by the Thatcher government of which he was a part, but he went on to say he couldn’t understand why such little effort had gone into building more council homes to replace those sold off. I was amazed when he said that, because the Thatcher government and following governments had disallowed councils from building replacements. The housing situation, generated largely by government policies, remains a national disgrace and the failure to prevent landlords from charging exorbitant rents at a time of acute housing shortage is almost a crime perpetuated against the young. The high rents and housing shortage has forced house prices upwards. The idea that they can build themselves out of the crisis by building faster is a nonsense. Without state intervention commercial builders will only build houses as long as they can make a profit, they will not build so fast that they bring the prices down, even if it were feasible to build that fast. Schemes like help-to-buy that make more money available to would be purchasers are likely to simply result in a further increase in the price. Drastic measures similar to those introduced in the immediate post-war period are necessary.
Crime and Punishment A little while ago I met a lawyer, she had worked for the CPS for 14years, although she had left them several years past. She had some very strong views on punishment, she believed that the pendulum had swung too far towards liberal views and, as a result, punishment had lost its value as a deterrent, prison sentences were too short and prison was too comfortable. She even went so far as to say that she thought there was an argument for returning the death sentence. She reminded me of the CID sergeant/inspector in The Thin Blue Line who described those with liberal views as “namby-pamby-farty-arsey”. As someone with fairly liberal views I did find it difficult to argue against her, especially in view of her vastly superior experience in the field. I believe that current policy with regard to the revolving doors of prisons is to try and prepare prisoners for the world of work so that they will settle down and not come back, rewarding good behaviour with shorter sentences. Her alternative is to make the sentences long and uncomfortable so that they make sure they won’t have to come back. I find it hard to accept her view and I could never give my support to capital punishment but I had to admit that I sometimes regard the sentence for a crime as too short, especially remembering that they will probably only serve half of that sentence. I also had to admit that the system does not seem to be working at present. I am surprised at the apparent difficulty that exists in keeping drugs and mobile phones out of prisons. I couldn’t help feeling that there must be a middle way with strict prisons and with shorter sentences only for those who are seen to be making an effort towards equipping themselves for a world of work outside. (However I bet if I were to be confronted with an individual case I would probably be soft).
Downham Market Parking The effect of the large increase in the number of houses in the town is being felt in the car parks, in particular, the car parks surrounding Morrisons, and the one in Paradise Road, they are often so full that it is not possible to park, not just at weekends but at certain times mid-week. Even Tesco’s car park can be such that you can have difficulty in finding a space. I fear that some people are abusing the free car parks by parking for very long periods, perhaps all day, making it difficult for shoppers who need to park fairly close to the shop. I believe the council favours free parking in order to encourage shoppers, if they are not careful it will discourage shoppers. As a first step perhaps they should impose a limit on the time of stay in some car parks, similar to that at Tesco, although that appears to be enforced only occasionally.