Monday, September 12, 2005

The Home Office—The Pedant General

The Pedant-General In Ordinary posts from the Home Office.
1) Repeal the Human Rights Act. Revert (or legislate to revert) to status quo ante where individuals have complete freedom unless law specifically states otherwise (i.e. the people are inately free, rather than having rights granted by the state), subject to constraint that they do not interfere with the freedom of others. You know the score. We might wish to add an overrider here that suggests that crims, louts and neds temporarily forfeit such freedoms when in the act of infringing on others.

I agree, P-G; if we have a human rights act, where is the human responsibilities act? Also, from a religious point of view, who exactly grants these human rights?
2) Individuals to be considered as a) moral agents and thus responsible for their own actions especially when, e.g., mugging old ladies and b) sentient and sensible and thus have to demonstrate that they took all reasonable precautions to avoid tripping over broken paving stone (i.e. that it is not entirely the council's fault that you weren't looking where you were going and broke your ankle)

No quibble here.
There is a corollary to this: my understanding of even the woolly liberal CofE view of things is that sins will be forgiven, BUT ONLY IF YOU REPENT. i.e. the little sh*t that mugs old ladies may well be a victim of circumstance and the wider failures of society, but he should get no favours whatsoever from the justice system until he recognises that a) he is responsible for his actions and b) his actions were wrong.

OK, I tend to agree. After all, what is libertarianism but responsibility for your own actions?
3) Something on drugs. Major source of crime. Cut the numbers of junkies, cut the need to mug old ladies. Can't begin to understand why prisons are awash with them as they so reportedly are.

Legalise them all, apart from cannabis and heroin. Cannabis encourages lethary, heroin is just addictive and dangerous. Certainly, Ecstasy should be made legal: deaths are something like 9 in the last 12 years. Anyone care to provide figures for alcohol-related deaths? Ecstasy, when taken sensibly, is a wonderful drug which encourages care for others. I have lost count of the number of times that a complete stranger has come up to ask me if I'm OK, and the number of times that I've done it myself. That government advert is ridiculous, it's nothing like that; you don't hug everyone but, on the other hand, I've never seen a fight in a ecstasy-fuelled club. Can you say the same of booze-fuelled clubs? Here's your answer: no. Ees are good: immediate legalisation, now. And mushrooms too. Just in case none of you knew that I think that all of the drugs that are illegal are far superior to those that are currently legal...
4) Fire the entire diversity/race relations unit. All of them. On day 1.

I have tried as far as possible to keep within my own remit. To be honest, the Home Office is basically there to do the fire fighting and dirty work. The things that really need to be done to make this country a better safer and nicer place are the responsibilities of others...

People are people; I don't give two shits what their colour is. No, making the country a nicer and safer place is exactly what my Home Office is there to do.
  • Instilling a sense of right and wrong: Parents - struggle to see where state can help at all here

  • Encouraging people to take responsibility for their own lives: Tax system mostly

  • Discipline in schools: Education Dept. If I had my way, I would institute a rule that it would be the parents that would be expelled from a school, not the child. Thus, they cannot simply move the child to a new school: they would have to prove to any new school that they had changed and were prepared to deal with their child. (if we don't just string the whole lot up from lampposts and be done with it)

DK says: David's dealing with it. Though that last proposal is tempting.
  • Also Judges to be gently reminded that Foreign Nationals, and in particular those who are judged to be not conducive to the public good, are errr...., foreign nationals and have some markedly different rights to UK nationals, in that they have no right of abode. If they have burnt their bridges that is their problem, not ours. See 2 a) above. This is probably in the Lord Chancellor's dept?

P-G, you will notice that there is no Lord Chancellor. That's because what I say goes. Thank you, your policies are sound and, despite your children and cold, very well put. If you fancy a drink sometime, drop me a line. Otherwise, you, or anyone else, can find me in Cloisters almost every night after 9 (very good pints of ale). Thank you for your valuable contribution; the next Cabinet Meeting will be to discuss any conflicting proposals.

There is a late, but very sensible inclusion in the P-G's policies:
When I was a wee young slip of a lad, I remember very clearly the lessons taught at RMA Sandhurst on the noble topic of "Situation Appreciation and Mission Analysis". There was a proforma of factors to take into account ("tasks, specific and implied", enemies intentions etc, etc, etc) but the very last one was crucial. It is this: "Change in the tactical situation". the nub of it was the following list of questions that one should ask oneself:
  • 1. What is my higher commander's intention?

  • 2. Has the tactical situation changed since I was given my orders?

  • 3. Would my higher commander have given me these orders had he known about this change to the tactical situation at the time?

What this gives you as a junior commander on the ground is the latitude to see that something needs to be done and to go and do it NOW, even though it may be against orders that you may have been given, because it needs to be done and is the right thing to do and can be explained later when you have time. Indeed, because this is a crucial part of the orders process, your higher commander can berate you for failing to disobey his orders and take the initiative when you saw that his orders were out of date.

This thought process, or something very like it, is what is sorely missing in all parts of the public sector (bar the forces). Without this clear message, it will always be preferable to sit on your hands and/or continually refer decisions upwards, rather than do something and take the flak for doing something. Doing nothing, it seems, is much harder to punish (unless one is Ray Nagin)...


I think that this is an entirely sensible idea. And make them write lines: "it isn't magic money that I'm spending, it's someone's hard-earned cash"...

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