May hem 122


Theresa May announced the security services have foiled forty major terrorist plots in the last decade. They also successfully prevented Rotherham FC from winning the Champions League and the sky from turning into plasticine.

We have had, on average, a major “anti-terrorism act” curtailing vital liberties every 20 months in that period, to the point where it is illegal for me to give a talk in Westminster (see last post). We have security theatre of the absurd, everywhere. Air travel is a misery due to the war on toothpaste, but I can carry two litres of extremely flammable duty free 50% spirit on board a plane. At Waverley Station in Edinburgh a taxi can no longer enter due to “terrorism”, but they can drop me outside and I can take my 60 kg of plastic explosive in two suitcases down the elevator.

The disaster of universities today is corporatism and managerialism. It is not an excess of freedom of speech. Academics dare say very little – they spend their entire time wracking their brains as to how to produce research that will attract finance, and thus meet cash targets and not lead to redundancies and departmental closures. Universities see themselves overwhelmingly as businesses, not as self governing academic communities and centres of intellectual inquiry. In Scotland, every University Principal is on over 300,000 a year and every University Secretary on over 200,000. There are no poets or philosophers on University Courts – bean counting is the only discipline deemed relevant to university governance. A tiny number of eccentric academics are devoted to their teaching, but there is no income stream of any kind dependent on teaching quality.

Now Theresa May is going to make doubly sure no student ever hears anything interesting or inspirational, by giving University administrations – who want nothing but a profitable business – a “duty to protect” students from extremist thought. This idea is so illiberal it makes me physically vomit. The net result will be a cumbersome system of vetting for every external speaker, having to submit texts for approval in advance, to be seen by the University administration. The result will be a firm intention to discourage external speakers from appearing at all, in order to avoid the cost of this bureaucracy.

I speak frequently in universities and certainly am not going to submit my talks for pre-vetting (I always speak off the cuff anyway). In fact, if this legislation goes through, I am going to undertake spontaneous guerrilla lectures in universities, just popping up and starting talking, with no prior approval at all. I hope others may join me. We need a flying squad to preserve the very notion of academic intercourse without political constraint.


122 thoughts on “May hem

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  • KingofWelshNoir

    Cops on the radio now telling commuters to look out for suspicious activity. It’s like World War 2 being told to look out for German paratroopers disguised as nuns. I can’t bear this bullshit.

  • Parky

    Well there’s something in the air and afterall there’s a General Election looming, Mother Theresa has to at least to be seen to be doing something and tell everyone about it ! As for the UK Universities, they’re not all they are cracked up to be and are in danger of pricing themselves out of the international market (so much better abroad) and home students now realise that an expensive piece of paper costing £27k plus living expenses, is not going to get them the job they dreamed of and so they may as well just apply to Tesco, Aldi and the rest now and save themselves all the bother.

  • Porkfright

    A possible take on all this might be to divert the considerable and growing disaffection with the current political incumbents of three parties by creating a totally new threat. Once embedded and enabled, the sky’s the limit for reaction. A coup becomes a likelihood, not just a vague possibility. Would solve a lot of problems for a lot of people riding on gravy-trains.

  • Rob

    Another proposed changes:

    “Reforming the terrorism prevention and investigation measures (Tpims) regime so that suspects can be relocated to a different part of the country. The threshold for issuing a Tpim is to be raised to the civil standard of proof of “reasonable balance of probabilities” and the definition of terrorism narrowed to exclude those caught up on the periphery of terrorist-related activity.”

    “Police to be given the power to seize passports and travel documents, including tickets, for up to 30 days, from people thought to be leaving UK to engage in terrorism-related activities. This will apply to British citizens as well as others.”

    Note the weasel words: ‘suspects’, ‘definition narrowed’, ‘people thought to be’, ‘terrorism-related’.

    Frightening stuff.

  • Ba'al Zevul

    The disaster of universities today is corporatism and managerialism. It is not an excess of freedom of speech. Academics dare say very little – they spend their entire time wracking their brains as to how to produce research that will attract finance, and thus meet cash targets and not lead to redundancies and departmental closures. Universities see themselves overwhelmingly as businesses, not as self governing academic communities and centres of intellectual inquiry.

    Absolutely and unequivocally true, in England as much, or even more than, in Scotland.
    From the coalface, yours very sincerely, Ba’al.

  • Patrick

    So what constitutes ‘extremist’ exactly?

    And am I the only one to think that Teresa may looks like the bastard offspring of Emperor Palpatine and Worzel Gummidge?

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    I’ll bet anyone on this blog that within a year, these new ‘anti terrorism’ measures will have been used to suppress criticism of Israel in universities. Any takers?

  • Johnstone

    -There are no poets or philosophers on University Courts-

    Yes, Craig – Dead poets and Philosophers Societies

    And what ever you do don’t use any philosophical nor ethical arguments against their rhetoric, pragmatism rules!

    Gone are the days when you could voice your opinion based upon your own eclectic research. No, you must limit yourself to the standard set of references supplied and regurgitate just what ever it is they want to hear (prescriptive teaching) otherwise you loose marks and unless you learn and figure out just what it is they want you to know about(not always apparent to a broadminded, experienced and mature student) ultimately you’ll fail. University marking systems are antiquated (relative to high schools), overly subjective and non-transparent making it deliberately impossible to counter their arguments.
    The universities are turning out people with no incentive nor perhaps even the ability to weigh up arguments nor to think for themselves, its a crying shame.

  • Pete

    Radio 4 interviewed Professor Anthony Glees on this topic last night, in discussion with a very reasonable Muslim bloke from the Ramadan Foundation. I say “discussion” but in fact the Prof just talked over him, in the typical style of Israeli government spokesmen, while the presenter struggled to shut him up long enough for the other guy to get a word in edgeways. From his own biog on Buckingham Uni website, Glees “since 2001 has been a senior security policy advisor to the EPP Parties in the European Parliament via the European Ideas Network, the EIN and visited many European nations in this capacity”.

    The prof asserted that “maintaining surveillance of its students is an important activity for all schools colleges and universities.” He made it very clear that opinions and discussions outside of western european “democracy” were not to be tolerated.

    I’m reminded of Queen Elizabeth the First. She lived in a time when all men carried weapons, public execution and judicial torture were the norm, and when the Pope had told all English Catholics (at least 10% of the population)that they had a moral obligation to assassinate her. Yet she famously stated- “I will not make windows into men’s souls.”

    The whole “deradicalisation” agenda is about exactly that, and yet the mainstream media never questions WHAT “radical” or “deradicalised” even means, merely argues about the best way the Government should achieve it.

  • John Problem

    It’s such a pity that this country doesn’t go in for ‘coups d’etats’. What a pleasant change it might be to have, say, MI6 or Disneyland taking over at Number Ten and running the country. Getting rid of ‘first past the post’ and other abominations. Disallowing politicians to make vote-getting legislation which screws up the future. Giving us a break from the daily claptrap and rhodomontade from political parties and the media about who we are and what we mustn’t do. Making it mandatory for anybody with political power to be obliged to visit the country outside London (if they can find it) at times other than elections. Heady thoughts, oh fellow plebs!

  • Herbie

    Are we sure that such measures haven’t been in place for some time:

    “In 2008 Rizwaan Sabir (student at University of Nottingham) downloaded a 140-page document connected to his research on militant Islam from the US Justice Department website. The document, known as the Al-Qaeda training manual, is also available in book form from Amazon.[3][4] [5] Sabir was in the process of preparing his forthcoming PhD proposal, and he was being advised and helped by his friend Hicham Yezza, who was a member of staff at the university of Nottingham at the time. Sabir often sent Yezza copies of documents and reading materials he was using for his research, and the Al-Qaeda manual was one of them. The document was noticed on Yezza’s computer by a colleague and as a result the university authorities notified the police.

    On 14 May 2008, Yezza was arrested under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of being involved in the “commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism”.[6] When Sabir tried to support Yezza, he was arrested under the same charge.[5][7]

    The arrest sparked a debate over academic freedom when it was revealed that the document was related to research at the University.[8]”

    It was all much worse than the paras above. Read the whole thing

    Our host is mentioned.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nottingham_Two

  • Tony_0pmoc

    Its a lot worse than you think. Yes you are allowed to mention 9/11, but if you mention the current news – or spend weeks analysing all the photography – and publishing your findings – just on your own blog…Then the heavy mob will turn up – smash down your front door at 2:00 am and accuse you of harassment – and drag you off to jail…but then if you are lucky – release you (because you haven’t broken any law) – and then do it all again a few weeks later….and terrorise your daughter and grandson…threatening them with the social services. Now if you don’t know who I am talking about, then you ain’t being paying attention….no its not me. I’m the geriatric that’s mad…Its that Spivey bloke….total nutter – swears like a trooper and is incredibly offensive to almost everyone…with some justification…it seems to me. Don’t let it worry you. Its been like that for years. They did much the same to my daughter when she was 15 to collect her DNA for Tony Blair (we like to keep these things quiet – except we find out from talking to other parents – that their kids have been arrested as well – without doing anything wrong whatsoever). Its about ticking boxes. They have targets to achieve…They must arrest a certain number (even if they are all completely innocent) – cos if they don’t meet their arrest target – their budget will get cut – and they will be fired. Lovely Police state we live in. I don’t expect this to appear cos I’ve been a naughty boy. Sorry about that.

    Tony

  • Ba'al Zevul

    You raise an interesting point there, craig. You are, and you are largely addressing, arts people (pace Squonk), but, in the context of science, I am wondering what tiny potential for extremism might be contained in talks on, say, lepton-photon interactions or the tectonic evolution of the Laramide belt. ‘Laramide belt’? I can hear a management clot exclaim. ‘That’s like a suicide belt, right? Sorry, Professor, you can take your evil Islamist propaganda out of our hallowed portal, outside of which you will find MI5 waiting for you…’

    Fucking is not too strong a word for the idiocy of this, as usual, kneejerk, ill-considered and genuinely fascist measure.

  • Abe Rene

    @Craig “At Waverley Station in Edinburgh .. they can drop me outside and I can take my 60 kg of plastic explosive in two suitcases down the elevator.”, Well, that’s Plot No. 41 to bite the dust. I hope that May’s measures will fail because of LibDem pressure, just as the snoopers’ charter couldn’t be fully implemented. The coalition can be useful sometimes. 🙂

  • paul

    Not enough to justify it. A minority administration supported tactically would have served the government of the country better and might have even served the liberals better. No student fees, bedroom taxes, health and social care act or royal mail giveaway. Would have left Cameron’s crowning acheivemeny yo be gay marriage.

  • Republicofscotland

    Theresa May and her cohorts are attempting to stifle free speech to a certain extent, and they may even succeed, in doing so, as soon as 2015, which, is ironic, in the fact, that 2015 will be 800th anniversary of the Magna carta.

    The mentality of Whitehall and Westminster astonishes me, they think they can bring war to middle east, and not expect any reprisals on British soil.

    Of course its my opinion that the last two major so called terror attacks on British soil, 7/7 and the Lee Rigby incident, weren’t all they appeared to be.

  • El Sid

    “The War on Toothpaste”. Love it.

    In the old days I used to bring in a case of cheap cava in the carry on luggage for friends in London. Not no more since the WoT and the Luton airport stassi.

    What a loss for thirsty Brits.

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    “Radio 4 interviewed Professor Anthony Glees on this topic last night, in discussion with a very reasonable Muslim bloke from the Ramadan Foundation. I say “discussion” but in fact the Prof just talked over him, in the typical style of Israeli government spokesmen, while the presenter struggled to shut him up long enough for the other guy to get a word in edgeways.”
    ________________-

    Yes, I heard that as well. Glees came across as a highly unpleasant person. I hope he is not representative of the teaching style at Buckingham University (although he probably is – which could explain in part why it has two-year degree courses).

  • Habbabkuk (la vita è bella)

    Mods

    Thank you for removing the “Your post is awaiting moderation” so quickly from my post at 15h52. Very decent of you.

  • Republicofscotland

    Forty major terror plots against Britain have been thwarted since the 7/7 bombings, Theresa May revealed today.

    Mumbai-style mass killings and a plan to blow up the London stock exchange are among the murderous plots averted by spooks since July 2005, the Home Secretary said.

    In a major speech ahead of the unveiling of her new Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill on Wednesday, Mrs May claimed Britain is now at greater risk of a terror attack than at any point in its history.

    “The threat we face right now is perhaps greater than it ever has been,” Mrs May said.

    “We must have the powers we need to defend ourselves

    The Bill will for the first time force schools, colleges and prisons to help prevent would-be extremists being drawn into terrorism.

    It means universities will be ordered to draw up policies to stop hate preachers from making speeches on campus.

    Jails will have to show how they are stopping prisoners being radicalised while held behind bars.

    Those public bodies which fail to show how they are combating extremism will be slapped with court orders if they do not comply.
    ___________________________

    Have we just to take Theresa may’s word for it, that 40 terror plots have been foiled, I for one won’t.

    As for the public bodies, who’ll be fined if they fail to comply, with the remit of the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, well they won’t want to incur the wrath of the law, ergo they’ll stifle free speech greatly.

    I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

    Voltaire’s quote seem fitting, in this stream.

  • nevermind

    “The threat we face right now is perhaps greater than it ever has been,” Mrs May said.”

    Maybe Ms May, imho the biggest threat today comes from a Tory UKIP coalition, watch them move in unison.
    Labour is fighting dirty as well, especially here in Norwich/Norfolk were they have to make inroads to get anywhere nationally. No news then.

    14/1 at Ladbrooks.

  • Tom

    Absolutely. The ridiculous hysteria, which seems to get worse by the day, has four main causes in my view:
    a) The ‘security services’ need a perceived threat to exist in their bloated form, and therefore they must trumpet their apparent successes and amplify the threat
    b) It’s a political smokescreen to divert attention away from the LibLabCon’s imminent electoral annihilation at the hands of UKIP and the SNP
    c)It’s an excuse to enact dictatorial powers to tighten political control over a populace, which the internet has allowed to become, in their opinion, dangerously independent-minded. (See also the accompanying attack on a website with the report charade today.)
    d) A collapsing mainstream media is desperate to both keep sales up and curry favour with their political paymasters.

  • Republicofscotland

    O/T

    In this Al Etejah’s Panorama programme Gilad Atzmon elaborates on the dominance of Jewish lobby in the UK and America and the weak resistance it meets in both Britain and the USA. The activity of the Lobby clearly undermines the notion of Western democracy. We also spoke about the collapse of Left politics and future of Western thinking.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDRXgdkWXoE#t=116

    An interesting look at big donors ( Of a particular persuasion, you know who I mean) who control Ed Miliband and Co.

  • Mick

    Craig,

    Have you a source for ‘in Scotland, every University Principal is on over 300,000 a year and every University Secretary on over 200,000’?

    Google returns information to the contrary, have you more accurate and up to date information?

  • Republicofscotland

    It will not shock readers to hear that quite often legislation on Capitol Hill is not as advertised. When Congress wants to do something particularly objectionable, they tend give it a fine-sounding name. The PATRIOT Act is perhaps the best-known example. The legislation had been drafted well before 9/11 but was going nowhere.

    Then the 9/11 attacks gave it a new lease on life. Politicians exploited the surge in patriotism following the attack to reintroduce the bill and call it the PATRIOT Act. To oppose it at that time was, by design, to seem unpatriotic.
    ______________________________________

    Will the UK mirror the USA, could there be a planned event that will cause the UK public to embrace the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill, in the same way the US public embraced the Patriot Act after 9/11.

    Will be feel compelled to adding, to our own undoing, in the event, of an attack on UK soil?

  • Republicofscotland

    A Pakistani man who claims he was illegally detained and tortured by British forces in Iraq has won the right to sue the UK government.

    The legal system would be “failing in its duty” if it did not deal with the claims of Yunus Rahmatullah, the judge in the case told the courtroom.

    Rahmatullah was allegedly tortured by UK forces in Iraq in 2004 before he was handed over to US custody. The US reportedly transferred him to Afghanistan via the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Rahmatullah claims he was secretly detained and tortured by the US for nearly a decade before his release in June of this year.

    The UK denied any involvement in Rahmatullah’s rendition until 2008, when then-Defense Secretary John Hutton publicly admitted that it occurred.

    In a statement to VICE News, Nick Mercer, the former chief legal advisor to the UK armed forces in Iraq in 2003, said the judgement was “long overdue,” and could potentially “remove the cloak of secrecy” surrounding the case.

    The judgement in the case of Yunus Rahmatullah is to be warmly welcomed,” Mercer said. “The UK protests its innocence in public whilst hiding behind the doctrine of State immunity in court.

    https://news.vice.com/article/man-allegedly-tortured-by-uk-and-us-for-nearly-a-decade-wins-right-to-sue-britain
    _____________________________

    Detained and tortured for a decade, I wonder how this one will pan out.

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