We can’t strip Jimmy Savile of his title? Oh yes we bloody well can!

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So apparently Jimmy Savile can’t be stripped of his knighthood even after all the revelations about his extensive abuse of children has come to light.

According to the Cabinet Office, the forfeiture committee cannot strip people of their honours posthumously because they ‘die’ along with the bearer.

So that’s that then. We all just shrug our shoulders and say what a pity.

But hang on a minute. Why can’t people can’t be stripped of their honours or titles posthumously?

Are British titles like ‘sir’ or ‘lord’ or honours like OBEs bound by the laws of nature?

Are the complicated rules and traditions which dictate what can and can’t be done with our titled and honoured members of society entirely subject to dictats from God or bound by inviolable rules of physics?

Whatever some people in the more conservative parts of our country may think, honours and titles are not part of some natural order. They are all entirely man-made – literally – and as something invented by ‘men’ they can be un-invented by ‘men’ too.

The rule that honours and titles can’t be stripped posthumously is not an inviolable law of nature. It can be changed. Very easily in fact.

There is nothing to stop parliament passing a law stripping Savile – or anyone else for that matter – of his title. It might be unprecedented but impossible? No. It could be done in an afternoon if there is the will.

But there, perhaps, is the crux of the problem.

Is there really the will?  If a law were to be presented to parliament stripping Savile or any other paedophile or criminal of their honours or titles, would it be passed unanimously? Or would some of the more Conservatively minded of our representatives stand up and speak against it because it goes against ‘centuries of British tradition’ or whatever?

It would be interesting to find out.

This whole discussion around titles and honours is indicative of a bigger problem in British society in general. Too often our blind adherence to tradition means we accept the status quo – even if it means allowing and even enabling behaviour which would under normal circumstances be abhorrent to most people. We too readily turn a blind eye to unacceptable behaviour by powerful or famous people precisely because we’ve always turned a blind eye to it.

And this unquestioning blindness to the actions of our so-called ‘betters’ has resulted in other scandals too – apart from the one involving Savile – for example child abuse in the church, as well more recent scandals such as phone hacking and Hillsborough.

But why go to all the bother of stripping Savile of his honours, some may ask? He’s dead now so what good would it do?

It’s important because it would show that Britain is no longer a place where people in positions of influence or power can do what they want with complete impunity, no matter how powerful they are or whatever titles or honours they hold.

And that’s important because that is precisely how Savile and others like him were able to get away with what they did for so long.

Savile thought he was untouchable in real life – he said so himself as much – and the sad truth of the fact is that he was right. Nobody believed those poor children because he was untouchable in life.

Stripping him of his title posthumously will show once and for all that there is nobody in this country who is untouchable or above the law – in life or in death.

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Related articles:

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The Puppeteers at the BBC : (More Dishonesty, Disharmony and Broken Strings from the BBC)

Professor Aeron Davis speaks the facts you don’t hear on the BBC about the NHS Privatisation

Tory Delusions and Badgers

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Yet again, I find myself asking what on earth are the Tories playing at?

Of all the most misguided, counterproductive, self-destructive, repugnant and unnecessary decisions that this government could take, the badger cull has to be the most patently obvious.

However, the decision to allow a cull, with the prospect of destroying 30-50% of the nation’s badgers (130k), is typical of the policy decision-making of this government.

It flies in the face of copious peer-reviewed research; an EU report; Conservation and Wildlife groups; respected academics; overwhelming popular opinion; well-known personalities like David Attenborough, Chris Packham, Brian May; Animal right’s groups; hunt saboteurs; and opposition from the Labour Party and LD supporters.  This decision  successfully unites so many disparate groups in joint hostility to the government, at a point when the Tories are already trailing in the opinion polls.  

Furthermore, the evidence is irresistible. Vaccination of badgers, coupled with the sort of strict and effective controls on farming practice (which were in place 40 years ago) is the only feasible strategy to stopping the spread of Bovine TB (bTB), until an adequate cattle vaccination is developed.

Bovine TB is exactly what it says ‘on the tin’.  It is a cattle disease which unfortunately can also infect badgers, deer and other mammals … but for some reason, many farmers, landowners and the NFU, are irrationally convinced that a cattle disease will be magically controlled by simply shooting all the local badgers.

I could tell you all the badger statistics, such as the fact that 85% are not infected with bTB (and less than 2% are infectious) but these arguments are much better rehearsed in the video clip posted below.  And anyway, countering the bizarre claims of the ‘farming lobby’ about badgers, distracts from the more pertinent fact that:

“It is cattle, not badgers, that are the main transmitters of bovine TB so it is utterly outrageous for badgers to pay the price for farmers’ failure to abide by proper biosecurity measures”

Mark Jones, a vet and executive director of the Humane Society International UK (1)

No-one could deny that there is an imperative to stop the devastation and distress of bTB in a herd of cattle.  It is a truly horrible disease.  It is also financially significant for the UK Agri-Food Sector.  The trade of animals and products (dairy and meat) as a whole is annually worth around £1.06 billion to the economy.  However, it is clear that the rise in bTB is overwhelmingly accounted for by deficiencies in modern farming practice and animal husbandry (See addendum).

But to return to the original point, this decision to allow a badger cull is not just epidemiologically insane, it is also political madness. 

Activists opposing the cull offer various explanations for the decision, which range from the influence wielded at no.10 ‘kitchen suppers’ by party donors, to the need to offer the shooting and hunting lobby, something to kill.  Alarmingly, Professor John Bourne, chair of the ISG, says that a senior politician told him ‘Fine John, we accept your science, but we have to offer the farmers a carrot. And the only carrot we can possibly give them is culling badgers’.(3)

However, there is another rather concerning thought.  The public outrage and likely direct action against the cull, may distract the media away from something that the government wants to slip through unnoticed. There is little doubt, that it was just this sort of distraction tactic, that lay behind the proposal to sell off the forest which was announced just as the Health and Social Care bill took its first steps through the Commons.

But there is another factor which is well illustrated by the decision to go ahead with the badger cull.  A bigger picture which may underpin much else of Tory thinking and policies.

“Have you considered how those on the political Right are so often the prisoners of their own emotions, particularly their own fears and negativities … or their own greed and desire to rule?”

Phil C

Think Left’s late friend, Phil C, consistently pointed out how the Tories had created policy to implement their emotional knee-jerk reactions, which they then justified retrospectively… hence the frequency of spurious explanations.

This is very reminiscent of a personality characteristic known as ‘intolerance of ambiguity’…. and of the research evidence that associates ‘intolerance of ambiguity’ with authoritarianism and with the politics of the right.

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1126252?uid=3738032&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21101210105181

The avoidance of uncertainty, as well as the striving for certainty, has been shown to be associated with a key dimension of conservative thought.  That is a resistance to change or of a hanging on to the status quo.  Furthermore, another key dimension of conservatism, endorsement of inequality, is similarly linked to concerns with fear and threat.

‘Conservatives don’t feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions…. “They are more comfortable seeing and stating things in black and white in ways that would make liberals squirm” (2)

[Assistant Professor Jack Glaser of the University of California, Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy]

Perhaps, the most pointed example of this type of thinking was when President George W. Bush was asked to explain himself.   The Republican president told assembled world leaders, “I know what I believe and I believe what I believe is right.”

And ‘I know what I believe and I believe what I believe is right’ seems to just about sum up the farmers and tory government ministers’ rationale for this mass slaughter of overwhelmingly healthy badgers.

This is truly conviction politics .. an unshakeable faith despite all the evidence to the contrary.  Others would call it delusional.

A petition on the government’s website opposing the badger cull now has 146,000 signatures and several MPs have told the Guardian they are confident they will win a debate in parliament on the issue.

Stop The Cull

Hat-tip Richard Bowyer

Published on Sep 10, 2012 by 

Find out more at http://www.justdosomething.org.uk/

Addendum:

An official European Commission inspection uncovered a catalogue of failures in how England’s farmers prevent their cattle spreading TB between herds.  Not the least of which are failures associated with the profitable practice of moving cattle around the UK and abroad (which was the prime factor in the Foot and Mouth outbreak which also resulted in another unnecessary mass slaughter of millions of animals because of opposition to vaccination).

The EC report stated: “Local authority surveys provided evidence that some cattle farmers may have been illegally swapping cattle ear tags, ie retaining TB-positive animals in their herds and sending less productive animals to slaughter in their place.” There are 8.5 million cattle in Great Britain on 81,000 holdings, with 2.4m movements a year. In 2011, about 7% of herds were under restriction due to TB and 26,000 cattle were destroyed.” (1)

I was also interested to read that a concurrent infection with Sheep liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica) can yield a false bTB negative in cattle, which would mean that cattle-cattle transmission could be unknowingly masked.

But it is not just a question of some farmers failing to follow the biosecurity protocols.  There are also some very fundamental bigger questions about how we treat farm animals. For example, why are we permitting cattle, and other livestock, to be moved so frequently?  Additionally, the industrial scale proposals for high density mega-herds, such as are common in the US, automatically increase the risks not only of bTB transmission but also adds to the risk of novel viruses evolving capable of causing fatal pandemics in the human population.

(1) http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/oct/04/farming-shortcomings-badger-cull-bovine-tb

(2)  http://berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2003/07/22_politics.shtml

(3)  http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/vital-cull-or-heartless-slaughter-the-great-badger-debate-8202970.html 

http://www.badgertrust.org.uk/_Attachments/Resources/534_S4.pdf