Smart Successful, Sick Scotland
Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director of the Scottish "Government" has just allowed himself out of the house, having had Covid, to appear on the Scottish Sunday Show this morning. He tells us that 1 in 20 Scots currently have Covid, compared with 1 in 150 this time last year. There are 900 people in Scottish hospitals, of which 20 are in Intensive Care. 41 Scots died last week. When challenged on these figures by Martin Geissler - how can you possibly know this, Director? Jason told us that across the country, there are clinical teams who have been randomly testing - showing up on people's doorsteps in order to take PCR tests. Now, that's a bit not liberal. (Sidebar with myself - in America, the word “liberal” is commonly used to refer to the political left, whereas in Australia “liberal” is used to refer to the political right. In the UK “liberal” means “free”. For example, the UK describes itself as a liberal democracy: that is a free democracy and not a left-wing or right-wing democracy. Which explains the difficulty I have with the word liberal. It just means what you want it to mean.)
So, if someone shows up on your doorstep, all PPE'd up, with a long swab and asks you to present your nose for probing, you are not expected to say, oh do fuck off. The clever statisticians have been extrapolating these random test results to arrive at their 1 in 20 figure. That, and testing wees and poos - the polite term is waste water sampling, which, apparently, is very accurate and will even genetically identify which variants of covid are circulating in the area. As you can see from the Covid map, the North of Scotland and the Isles are particularly hard-hit - and yet, it is back into the workplace, bring on the tourists, let's have another festival, with nary a mask to be seen. This is because the Covid Pandemic Emergency is Officially Over - despite covid being more prevalent now than during Lockdown. So, the question asks itself - if we are sicker now than we were, and that's just fine and dandy-dorey, was Lockdown necessary at all? All those small businesses forced into going bust, all those people paid to stay at home, all that money being printed into existence? All that PPE profiteering, inflation being driven up to 10% - does anybody know what they are doing? And with the public sector pay offer seemingly stuck at 2%, Government, which clearly has no clue, despite all those degrees in PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, not personal protective equipment) is gung-hoing against the trade unions, whipping up public sentiment and preparing to front out the summer of strikes - because they believe that is the way to bring inflation under control. You know things are bad when the lawyers go out on strike.
The SNP is being distracted from its mission to drive its population further into bankruptcy, addiction and despair - sorry - Independence, by the Grady affair. Gnasher published the vision paper, snappily titled: Independence in the modern world. Wealthier, happier, fairer: why not Scotland? on the 14th June, and on Tuesday will be setting out her proposals to have a legal referendum. I wouldn't care, really, but I live here.
Anyway, cheery, chubby, bald Patrick Grady has resigned his SNP membership and must sit as an independent for Glasgow North, on account of being a sex pest. He was suspended from Westminster for two days after being found guilty of breaching Parliament's sexual misconduct policy. The 42 year old former SNP Chief Whip was found to have touched and stroked the neck, hair and back of an unwilling 19 year old lad on his staff in a pub in London. Gnasher Sturgeon has undertaken to personally apologise to the victim in a desperate attempt to get the SNP out of this latest sexual mess. Ian Blackford, in a leaked recording, told SNP MPs to "rally round" Grady, saying he looked forward to welcoming Patrick back after the two day suspension. Fatty Blackford's had to change his tune, though, after Gnasher told him to straighten up and fly right, and now has urged Grady to "consider his position". A homosexual assault on a teenager is just so not a good look in Presbyterian Scotland. It might be neither here nor there in the degenerate Metropolis nor even in Gomorrah Glasgie, but that's not how it would be viewed north of Dundee.
Nadine Dorries: “This
gov will remain relentlessly focused and continue to deliver for people
during a post pandemic, mid-war, global cost of living challenge which
no Prime Minister or gov has faced the likes of since WW11.” World War Eleven. Hmmm
What do you suppose Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani thought he was buying with his 3 million euros? Most people might start thinking about money-laundering regulations when urged to accept bags of cash. But the future heir to the British throne is made of more robust material.
Send Lawyers, Guns and Money
In consequence of the staggering mismanagement of the economy by the clever fellows from Oxford, around 40,000 railway staff are engaged in strike action. Teachers, Local Authority workers and National Health Service staff are preparing for industrial action as they see inflation reducing their incomes and now the lawyers are at it. Repeated government
cuts of the legal aid budget, a record backlog of court cases and falling fees have led to a with respect, m'lud, request for a 15% increase in fees. The Criminal Bar Association says that 80% of its members will take strike action between June 27th and July 22nd. You might say, "and who, pray, would that inconvenience?" Not so, m'learned friend. What greater evidence of a failed state is there when even the lawyers can't make ends meet and when the Courts can't process the poor?
Here's an extract from Knowing Whispers and Secret Handshakes, by ishmael smith, on the centenary of the Victoria Law Courts.
Like some malevolent Buddha a terracotta Empress of India squats scowling over the entrance to an imposing building in Birmingham's Corporation Street. Completed in 1891 from a design by Sir Aston Webb, the Victoria Law Courts are in a 15th century French Domestic style. Although roughly corresponding to English Tudor, 'though considerably more ornate, the building, heavy with decoration, stained glass and sculpture suggests perhaps Imperial as well as provincial justice. One imagines that the Victorian poor were more pressingly aware of their station than are today's downwardly mobile. They must have been left breathless by the rich splendour of this building; so fine a structure would surely vouchsafe for them a just hearing. Did it not say on the walls, for those who could read: "None shall justice be denied" and "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour"?
The Courthouse hasn't changed much in a hundred years. The wigged and robed barristers swagger along at a gravity-defying angle, heads and shoulders bent well back, as though the many hours spent addressing the elevated and learned judge had permanently fused their upper vertebrae. It struck me that the busy solicitors should apply to the Law Society for a wheelbarrow to carry their incredible number of case files. They dart, like quick-change artistes from court to court, client to client, sincerity intact. The social work and probation types scurry about earnestly, trying to explain, to reassure and often to pick up the pieces spat out of the gaping maw of the British criminal justice system. The C.I.D., swinging their regulation-issue, black plastic, zippered briefcases, congregate at junctions, muttering corner-mouthed to each other, getting their stories straight and gently flexing their muscles. "Mornin' all". The screws and the lock-up guys, world-weary, seen-it-all-before, joke, shirtsleeved, with their handcuffed charges, trying to take the sting out of things as they escort the murderer or the fine defaulter down to their subterranean, cellular labyrinth.
Mystified, bewildered, confused and angry, the defendants - the bread-and-butter - cower, foot shuffling, nailbiting and chainsmoking, oblivious to the wheeler-dealer professionals, locked speculating, head to head with their dear ones, intimidated by their own advocates, waiting for justice and wondering whether, come lunchtime, they'll be in the Crown across the road, celebrating, or downstairs in the cells trying to scrounge a light for the last Benson & Hedges before months or years of roll-ups and dog-ends.
The lady usher in her open-toed, comfortable shoes and her white-haired, stooped, male counterpart shuffle about, juggling case lists with the clerk and the overstretched solicitors, human in their attitudes to the friendless defendant, after whom they are the lowest in the Court pecking order. After two and one quarter hours waiting, we're on.
Stand in front of the chair. Are you so and so? Speak up. Sit down. Stand up. Sit down. Your Worships, the Prosecution case is that the man did so and so and then, as if that were not enough, he went on to do so and so, and, furthermore, he was drunk at the time. (Not back-slapping, jolly good fellow, mine's a double, Pen and Wig, Gazette Club drunk. He was disgustingly, wretchedly, lying in the gutter, blown-the-giro-bought-no-food-paid-no-bills, self-pityingly, pathetically, agonisingly, self-destructively drunk. That is to say, Your Worships, he was working-class drunk). Your Worships, may the Defence draw to your attention this Social Enquiry Report which says that my client is stupid, weak, sick, inadequate, underachieving, drug and alcohol dependent, the product of a broken home, homosexual and disgustingly poor. But that he has recognised all these vices, is repentant, and will, given an opportunity, address them all with the help of his Probation Officer. We will retire. Stand up. Sit down. During the retiral the two advocates and the clerk performed a weird ritual. The Defence, a stunted misanthrope, his pigmy corpulence squeezed inside a wine-bar double-breasted and with a legally-aided Porsche parked across the road, seemed to be a hybrid of Flashman and a Boost Bar advert. He postured and bombasted his way through the tale of a victory in another court earlier that morning. He'd really pulled the wool over them. Ha ha, ho ho and hee hee. The Prosecutor, court staff and the Defendant were merely his audience. The needs of the gigantic ego bursting out of this midget frame obviously took precedence over his client's need for a reassuring or explanatory word.
The Bench were back. Stand up again. After consideration we have decided that you will be placed on Probation, do you agree? You will also pay compensation. How much a week can you pay out of the pittance you receive? Not enough. You will pay double. Starve. Go without. Pay this sum every week or you'll go to prison, it's not our fault that you are unemployed. Mrs Probation Officer, thank you for this report, it was full, well-written and most helpful. The Clerk, an old, grey mind in an old grey face above an old grey suit, 38 going on 70, lounged arrogantly behind his row of justice manuals. Having for half an hour bullied his confused and ailing fellow-citizen, he waved his withered hand at him imperiously, fly-swattingly and contemptuously. Off you go. The ritual of degradation was complete; Justice was seen to be done.
The assumed villain of the piece had been sentenced to help, and, for all its limitations, a probation order is the least of many possible evils. I take the gravest exception, however, to the shameless conduct of the legal profession. Many of the solicitors in the Victoria Law Courts hurtle from client to barely-recognised client in a blizzard of green and pink legal aid forms, hand outstretched, how nice to see you, we'll be on in a minute, I've just got another six cases to do, yes, yes, we'll talk about it before we go in, there'll be bags of time, must dash. Relying often on the availability of Social Enquiry Reports written by hard-pressed probation officers on a fraction of their income - a young brief of my acquaintance earns in excess of £50,000 per annum and is forever saying to me: "Thank so-and-so for that S.E.R., did all my work for me" - it is difficult to see how these practitioners are not racked with conscience about their earnings, so little they do, so impoverished is their bankrupt, linguistic stock-in-trade. I know of at least one prominent and wealthy City criminal lawyer who, if he can get away with it, will tell his dissatisfied clients that there is no procedure by which they can transfer their Legal Aid certificate to another lawyer. He often does get away with it and the Law Society looks askance at complaints against its members, as, one presumes, does the Great Architect.
The Magistracy, bless their public-spiritedness, blithely hand out licenses for the supply of a drug which kills thousands a year whilst imprisoning and fining those who consume a harmless weed; they license the pornographer and traduce the prostitute, patriarchally oblivious to the fact that were there no customers there would be no prostitutes, the drunken driver is sentenced to 12 months' inconvenience, the unemployed, semi-literate petty thief to imprisonment, the street girl to a fine which she can only pay by repeating the offence.
In the Crown Court, where 2% of our justice is dispensed, the spectacle of arrogant, affluent, arcanely accoutred, pompous, long-winded barristers, bloated with their own importance, addressing ill-informed, elderly ex-public school judges about the condition of the poor is an obscenity; a masonic closed shop, unaccountable, incompetent, cynical, reactionary, sexist, racist and largely and willfully out of touch with the diversity of interests it claims to be protecting. The ablest of lawyers eschew preferment to the Bench where, despite an almost automatic Knighthood and favourable pension arrangements, a top Silk can see his earnings plummet by 90%. Judges are generally drawn from the "Second Eleven"; unable to scale the dizzy heights of corporate law - where the real money lies - a barrister in middle life with junior members of his chambers snapping at his heels will opt- with the help of his Lodge - for a seat on the Bench, a comfortable living and retirement, and the privilege of being bored out of his skull for ten or eleven months of the year and occasionally being able to help out one of his fellow-masons.
For all its grand architecture, its domed ceilings and richly coloured windows, for all its structural optimism, Victoria Law Courts is a place where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer; a place of knowing whispers and secret handshakes, a cosy convocation of the brutal, the greedy, the powerful as well as the ineffectual and the stupid; the pumping house of a conspiracy to divert the waters of justice into the marshlands of law.
ishmael smith, 1991
Ishmael’s Blues is now
published, in both paperback and hardback editions; both editions are
immediately available from lulu.com. The paperback is also listed on amazon.
Ishmaelites wishing to buy a copy from lulu should
follow these steps :
Unless you’ve done this
already, please register an account first, at lulu.com. This is advisable
because otherwise paypal seems to think it's ok to charge in dollars, and they
then apply their own conversion rate, which might put the price up slightly for
a UK buyer. Once the new account is set up, follow one of the links below (to
either paperback or hardback) or type "Ishmael’s Blues" into the Lulu
Bookstore search box. Click on the “show explicit content” tab, give the
age verification box a date of birth such as 1 January 1960, and proceed.
The book’s full title is
"Ishmael’s Blues – further Chronicles of Ruin", and the cover you'll
see is red with white titles and a picture of blogdog Buster retiring from the
fray, cat gloating from a safe distance. The cover is the same for both
Link for Hardcover : https://tinyurl.com/je7nddfr
Link for Paperback : https://tinyurl.com/3jurrzux
At checkout, try WELCOME15 in the coupon box, which
(for the moment) takes 15% off the price before postage. If this code has
expired by the time you reach this point, try a google search for
"Lulu.com voucher code" and see what comes up.
With the 15% voucher, PB (including delivery to a UK
address) should be £16.84; HB £27.04.
Noticed at Glastonbury, a disconcerting resemblance.