Daily archives: September 20, 2011

Political Planning

The Daily Telegraph yesterday published satellite images of Dale Farm from 1999 to 2011. These clearly show that, contrary to propaganda spewed on all media, the site has neither expanded nor used up any green fields. You find them at 14.15 on that long Daily Telegraph blog post.

I am fascinated by the campaign to use respect for planning law as the justification for racist bile. Planning law is a very political area indeed. The government is seeking actively to relax the protection of green belt land- we are going to see homes built on actual green fields, not on the wasteland Dale Farm plainly was in those Telegraph images. Of course, they will be for middle class people – I shall be fascinated to see how many people posting here so keen to see families evicted from Dale Farm, are going to be out protesting as real green fields get concreted over.

Like most people, I have encountered planning regulations several times in my life. The first time was in Gravesend. I used to live at No 3 Portland Road. The owners of No 5 Portland Road built a two storey extension, in order to convert it into flats. This brought building right on to the boundary line and substantially diminished my sunlight and amenity in a number of ways. It was also very ramshackle and ill-looking construction. I was away serving abroad while it was built. On return I contacted the Council planning department, and discovered that it had been done entirely without planning permission, as indeed had the conversion into flats in a zone excluded from multi-occupancy. But Gravesham Council did absolutely nothing. (NB the owners of 5 Portland Road have since changed and the current owners were in no way responsible).

I was further unlucky in Gravesend because my house, No. 3, was semi-detached with No. 1. That was bought by The Kenward Trust, for use as a hostel for recovering drug addicts on release from prison. That seemed to me not a good use for a semi-detached property adjoining a young family, and we tried to fight it. However it turned out that under “Care in the community”, a hostel for 5 people or less did not need planning permission, as the use was considered still that of an ordinary family home.

Before coming to 1 Portland Road the inmates, on release from jail, spent time in Kenward House, a Kent mansion. The Kenward Trust is an evangelical christian organisation, and the anti-addiction programme consisted of christian indoctrination and happy clappy songs. Most of the inmates had criminal records in addition to addiction, and not always was the crime related. While we were trying to fight their taking over the other half of our semi, one of their inmates from Kenward House raped a passer-by there.

Inmates succesfully “treated” would come on to 1 Portland Road, as kind of halfway house. There they would get food, a tiny living allowance and a weekly visit from a warder – which involved more happy-clappy christianity. While I still maintain this was a crazy and reckless thing to put in a semi with a family home, I got to know some inmates over the years and some were nice enough. They were all entirely cynical about the happy clappy stuff.

They were also very aware of the massive amounts of government money the Kenward Trust was receiving for each inmate – ten times the cost of housing, feeding and their allowance. Very occasionally directors of the Kenward Trust would turn up in huge BMWs. Their salaries, expenses, vehicles and free accommodation were amazing. Damn clever, these Christians. Anne Widdecombe was their patron.

Ada and Mabel in Blackburn had a similar experience to mine over unauthorised building extensions by neighbours. I am sorry to say that both in Blackburn and Gravesend the real reason the council did nothing was because the illegal building was done by members of ethnic communities whose electoral support New Labour – which ran both councils at the relevant time -was eager to buy locally. Just as at Dale Farm the planning enforcement is against an ethnic community which the council feel it will be electorally popular to persecute.

Planning law and its enforcement is a deeply political matter. Care in the community, going easy or hard on specific ethnic minorities, these are purely political decisions. The idea that Dale Farm is an impartial piece of administration aimed at upholding the rule of law, is such balderdash is it scarcely worth addressing.

This is politically decided ethnic cleansing.

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Losing Afghanistan, Losing Central Asia

Obama is now asking Congress for a waiver on Uzbekitsan’s human rights record – arguably the worst in the world – in order to restart military supplies to President Karimov of Uzbekistan. Even Bush stopped these, after the 2005 Andijan massacre of at least 800 civilian demonstrators.

This blog has repeatedly pointed to the ever-increasing role of the “Northern Distribution Network” for getting supplies to the NATO troops in Afghanistan, with Uzbekistan as the point of entry. The Wikileaks cables from Tashkent outline a consistent US policy of sacrificing the human rights of Uzbeks in order to promote this military agenda.

Unfortunately, by promoting evil dictatorship in Central Asia, the United States and NATO are not advancing their own long term interests. Like Mubarak, Karimov is passing his sell-by date. But all rational thinking is thrown out of the window as NATO concentrates on the war it is losing in Afghanistan.

I am advised by the British Embassy that to visit the scenes of the November 1841 uprising in central Kabul as research for my book on Burnes is too dangerous. After ten full years of occupation, with 180,000 troops and billions of dollars in military hardware, they do not even control a few square miles in the centre of the capital, let alone the country. The recent attacks on the US Embassy and British Council have proved that. This war is lost.

America’s increasing fawning to Karimov is yet more evidence of that. The reason America is now so desperate for his favour is that, as they leave defeated, taking Karzai with them, they have to get out millions of tonnes of vehicles and military equipment, which has to pass overland. They have lost this war so absolutely that they no longer have possession of the ground they started with. They cannot get out the way they went in, through Pakistan, as they would be attacked in the Bolan and Khyber passes, and along the entire route. So they have to leave through Uzbekistan. The Americans will do anything for Karimov, just as long as they get permission to slink out through his country. I hope as they go they look into the faces of the people whose continued enslavement buys their permission.

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