Anniversary of The Drunken Defeat of the “Merrie City ” of Wakefield During the English Civil War

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This Saturday, 20 May 2017, marks the 374th anniversary of the 1643 Battle of Wakefield. This Battle should not be confused with the far more famous and historically significant battle that took place during the Wars of the Roses in 1460. Our battle took place during the first year of fighting in the near decade long struggle between Cavaliers and Roundheads that was the English Civil War.

This conflict between King and Parliament was important in the development of our modern institutions of parliamentary democracy and in many ways the system of government that emerged in the United States. It is gratifying that my home city of Wakefield was involved in these momentous and world changing events. It is also interesting that there was a unique Wakefield twist to what happened at the time battle was joined.

Since the Middle Ages Wakefield has been known as the “Merrie City” and has had a reputation as a place where people can have a good time. Westgate is still known as a place where people go out drinking on Friday and Saturday nights. It is ironic that ‘revelry’, although this time outside the environs of the centre itself, was the cause of the Royalist defeat.

An informative article (1) about the battle can be found at BritishBattles.com. I paraphrase the key information from the article as follows:

On the eve of battle, the officers were at nearby Heath Hall next to today’s Heath Common. The royalist officers were playing on the bowling green there and to put it in modern parlance ‘getting hammered’. By time of the Parliamentarian attack the royalist officers were seriously worse for ware leaving the rank and file effectively leaderless. It is quite possible that the party at Heath Hall may have been a deliberate ruse on the part of the Hall’s Dame Mary Bolles to allow Wakefield to be easily taken by the parliamentary forces.

The article notes that Parliamentary forces attacked from the north focussing their efforts on Northgate and Warrengate that those familiar with the modern city will know well.

(1) The surprise attack on the town of Wakefield in West Yorkshire by Sir Thomas Fairfax on 20th May 1643 http://www.britishbattles.com/battle-of-wakefield/

Other articles about the battle:

http://bcw-project.org/military/english-civil-war/northern-england/yorkshire-1643

http://www.information-britain.co.uk/famdates.php?id=260

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North Korea – An Opportunity for China to Assert its Global Leadership

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Credit for above photo: Airunp WikimediaCommons

The way China acts with regard to the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula could represent a key turning point in the evolution of the international world order. It could be as symbolic as the United States taking over the role of the British Empire in the Greek Civil War in 1947. To many that represented the peaceful transfer of global hegemonic power from Pax Britannica to Pax Americana.

China is currently an aspiring hegemonic power though currently fails to realise its potential primarily because it focuses on deploying only its hard power in the form of territorial aggrandisement. Such an approach causes the countries it wants to lead to be nervous of its power. China could learn much by studying the rise of the United States in the twentieth century. Chinese foreign policy would be better served by deploying its massive cultural potential and historic leadership role in the region that goes back to ancient times.

China may currently be nervous of a united Korea but it shouldn’t be. Its unease probably arises from the assumption that a united Korea would be an America client. However, by doing so China is underestimating its geostrategic potential. In many regards China has been presented with a huge opportunity.

If China unilaterally decided to liberate North Korea and announced its intention to facilitate the creation of a free and united Korea at the outset it would gain immense international prestige that would dwarf anything that it has previously achieved in the modern era. As a result, its cultural influence would expand exponentially. Such action could even permanently dislodge the United States from its position of preeminance in South Korea and the wider region.

China appears to be in favour of a rule based international economic order. If it started to adopt a similar approach to international politics and focused on being a bulwark of international law and using its soft rather than its hard power then China would be closer to its ultimate aim of providing regional and even global leadership.

However, the Chinese liberation of North Korea would have to be accompanied by a major shift in Chinese geopolitical doctrine for its effects to be decisive. At the moment, China is in dispute with many of its neighbours in the South China Sea where it has displayed unreasonable territorial ambitions. It should commit itself to an amicable resolution of that dispute.

If China behaved honourably in Korea and followed this up with a solution to the South China Sea dispute it would begin to realise its desire to be a real leader in global affairs. This could even be the first step in the restoration of China as the Middle Kingdom in fact rather than just name.

Nuclear War on the Korean Peninsula – Danger to Carrier Strike Group 1?

The oft quoted curse, “may you live in interesting times” certainly applies to the contemporary Korean peninsula. A US carrier battle group (Carrier Strike Group 1) led by the Nimitz class supercarrier USS Carl Vinson currently steams into the region (1) to confront the Pyongyang regime’s nuclear weapons programme. In the meantime, the North Korean arsenal is put on display in a military parade (2). Another article headline screams “US War With North Korea ‘may break out at any moment'” (3).

The Americans can be rightly proud of their military prowess. However, is the US task force vulnerable to a North Korean nuclear strike? Could the fleet be taken out with one blast? North Korea certainly has the missile technology.

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Vice-Admiral B.B. Schofield C.B., C.B.E. writing in the journal of Royal United Services Institution states:

“It is true that great strides have been made in providing anti-aircraft protection to forces so engaged, but whereas an interception rate of 95 per cent, of hostile aircraft would be quite acceptable in non-nuclear war, it is no longer so in repelling an attack by aircraft armed with nuclear weapons” (4).

The 95% interception rate mentioned above article may not good enough if the North Koreans deployed a nuclear weapon as part of an intensive conventional attack that gave the fleet innumerable targets to worry about. If a nuke gets through, then the fleet’s role in the war is over and South Korea is wide open to conventional and nuclear attack, as well as massive invasion.

The Americans may therefore opt for a first strike including the tactical use of nuclear weapons. They may also need to deploy tactical nuclear weapons at the outset against an advancing North Korean army to avoid South Korea being overrun.

To delay and prevaricate might invite the disaster of a North Korean first strike on the fleet, America’s principle method of projecting its power.

Would the American’s have to embark on a full-scale blitzkrieg style invasion to accompany any attack by the carrier battle group? Or would special forces specifically targeting North Korea’s nuclear strike capability suffice?

None of this even considers a simultaneous North Korean nuclear attack against American allies in the region. How likely would it be for a desperate regime to launch such an attack on Japanese population centres? What would be the economic impact of even a limited nuclear war on the already fragile global economy?

I think an America conquest of North Korea is possible but the costs – material, human, economic and political – could be extremely high. Perhaps it would be better if the American’s gave the green light for China to officially annex North Korea and displace the current regime. That’s if the Chinese were willing! That would at least maintain North Korea as some sort of buffer between superpower and would-be superpower and maintain a state of stability and strategic balance. It would also transfer the North Korean nuclear missile stock to more responsible and rational hands.

However, after saying all this, I suspect the whole military posturing by the Trump Administration is merely a strategic bluff to be used to encourage China to act in a way more beneficial to US interests. If this is the case it may be a very shrewd gambit that could yield wide ranging benefits to the United States.

Interesting times indeed!

(1) ‘Powerful’ USS Carl Vinson Steams Toward North Korea

(2) North Korea Displays Apparently New Missiles as U.S. Carrier Group Approaches

(3) US War With North Korea ‘may break out at any moment’ (4) The Employment of Nuclear Weapons at Sea, by Vice-Admiral B.B. Schofield C.B., C.B.E., Royal United Services Institution Journal. Pages 168-171, published online 11 September 2009.

Grand Opening of Lock Eleven, New Inn Walton

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Also posted on my WakefieldVistas blog

It just so happened that my most recent meal at the New Inn fell on the night of the grand opening of the new restaurant – Lock Eleven.

The New Inn is my local pub and I have been there many times for both food and drink. It has a good range of beers, the food is excellent and the staff friendly. However, my main purpose here is not to give a pub or restaurant review but to discuss the newly refurbished pub itself and the history that it helps to evoke. To some extent I adopt the role of art an critic or local historian.

Throughout the New Inn there are framed photographs of a wide range of Walton views that, for me, were an inspired form of decoration in the first place.  They capture the essence of contemporary Walton. These have remained in the newly refurbished setting and continue to provide a necessary sense of place.

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In the main part of the pub, the ‘old part’, there is new carpeting, new wallpaper and new lighting. The use of new lanterns of various colours creates a warm atmosphere and the new wallpaper is of exquisite quality. The whole ensemble blends together well and continuity is created between the newly refurbished ‘old’ part and the previously non public component that has been newly incorporated.

Moving down the steps into the lower part of the restaurant, the part that opens onto the car park and has its own set of patio doors, is the entrance part for the restaurant. It has its own welcome desk for diners and the room is tastefully put together. Hopefully this arrangement will prevent diners monopolising the bar area and maintain the New Inn as a traditional pub as well as a restaurant.

The next part that I am going to discuss is where things get really interesting – the part of the building that was previously out of the public sphere. There is a passage way that links to some new dining areas. One of these areas is next to the kitchen and you can see the food being prepared via a large serving hatch. This linkage to the heart of the restaurant, the kitchen, works very well. It also gives you an opportunity to appreciate the work of the people who prepare the food.

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Then we have another new previously unseen area, the upstairs part. This is the exclusive part of the the new restaurant, Lock Eleven. To get a seat in this part you need to book in advance. This part is airy and opens out onto a balcony where people are able to enjoy al fresco dining on fine days. There are views of the village from here and I could even see the House in which I was born, back in the 1970s.

Lock Eleven was an inspired choice for a name. I love it when people think about local history in such decisions, it is an important consideration when creating an authentic sense of place. Walton was once on the route of the Barnsley Canal that was started in 1793. The canal was a key transport link during the Industrial Revolution. Lock Eleven was the lock that stood next to the New Inn Pub. Walton still has places where the canal infrastructure can still be seen and many of these are set in beautiful countryside. The fact that then North of England was at the epicentre of the industrial revolution is of global historical significance.

As for the atmosphere on opening night, you could sense the excitement and enthusiasm about the place when you walked through the door, the pride of the staff was palpable. The pub has already received a significant transformation when Ria and Iain took over from Tommy. However, the new look is on a completely different level – it is spectacular! The feel is luxurious and there is great attention to detail. The ornaments are amazing too, note the grizzly bear and the rhino in particular.

I am sure people will come to the restaurant from miles around – the surroundings are as excellent as the food and the atmosphere is great.

Perhaps the diners might also choose to explore the surrounding countryside and its history. There are other things to see in addition to the remains of the canal. Walton is also the site of the world’s first nature reserve (1) that was built on the estate of the local squire – Charles Waterton. His seat, Walton Hall, which is now a hotel is well worth seeing. Much of the wall that surrounded the nature reserve is still standing, though it could do with some repair given its historical importance.

Walton is well worth a visit for people who like natural history, conservation, environmentalism or wildlife – Charles Darwin himself once visited (2) (3) Squire Waterton at Walton Hall. Pollution from the Soap House in Walton inspired what must have been one of the earliest instances of environmentalist litigation when Charles Waterton took on soap manufacturer Edward Thornhill Simpson and won (4) (5). Soap House Yard is, incidentally,  located only a few meters away from the location of the New Inn.

After such a visit, environmental tourists to Walton could do a lot worse than checking out Lock Eleven and having a meal. Creating it was obviously a labour of love by people who are deeply attached to the Village of Walton and its heritage.

Lock Eleven, The New Inn, Walton.

(1) Waterton’s Park

(2) The Correspondence of Charles Darwin

(3) Charles Waterton: A Biography, by Brian W. Edington

(4) Charles Waterton 1782 – 1865: Traveller and Conservationist, by Julia Blackburn (Chapter XV page 144-155)

(5) Charles Waterton – Life & History – An Introduction 

Some other interesting articles about Charles Waterton:

The Gentle Art of Political Taxidermy: Charles Waterton, Squire of Walton Hall 

Mr Darwin Welcome

A Rare Species of Eccentric

Scientist of the Day – Charles Waterton

Triumph of the West and a Mutually Beneficial Celebration of Cultural ‘Appropriation’

Demonisation of the West

The demonisation of the West has become the driving paradigm of Western academics and media talking heads, as well as those who promote their own cultural preferences with as much zeal as the West ever did. We are increasingly led to believe that anything and everything that the West has ever done is always bad and what other civilisations do or have done, by the very virtue of them being non Western, are always good or, at the very least, excusable. Of course, most reasonable people acknowledge that all cultures have done both good and bad and future cultures will be the same.

In the 1980s, there was a BBC documentary series presented by Oxford Historian John Roberts called The Triumph of the West. This excellent series had a profound influence on my own intellectual development. Firstly it encouraged me to have a civilisational rather than nationalistic outlook, something that was quite uncommon in the 1980s. Since this time my worldview has always been pan European, and until very recently I was very much in favour of the European Union. After all, by having a civilisational outlook it made the heroes of other countries into my own heroes. I could accept Leonardo da Vinci, Voltaire or Nicholas Copernicus just as much as Drake, Nelson or Churchill.

I have been trying to find the series on DVD for some time, but to no avail. It probably has something to do with it not supporting the current anti-Western paradigm. However, someone has put a large part of the series (seven episodes) on YouTube (see below). It is well worth watching and a much-needed antidote to the unthinking critique of Western civilisation, philosophy and science that is promoted in certain influential circles.

Triumph of the West

The BBC series, The Triumph of the West, shows how the West was the engine of progress that created the modern world. It brought people together on a scale hitherto unknown thanks to its voyages of discovery. The series demonstrates that the West became the first civilisation in the world to abolish slavery for its own sake – for moral rather than material reasons. It shows how much of the world adopted, or as we will see later – appropriated, Western technology and Western fashion. It shows how Western communications technology transformed the world, ultimately to the benefit of all. It shows how it was the West that laid the foundations on which contemporary globalisation was built upon. These are aspects of Western history that people can take pride in.

In the days in which the series was made there was a degree of regret about the excesses of Western imperialism but not the cultural pessimism and self-debasement of the present day. The series was not presenting an hagiography of the West, it recognised the achievements of other civilisations and how the West was built upon their achievements and appropriated their ideas and technologies. It also recognised the parts of Western history for which we should rightly be ashamed but it did so in a more balanced way than is seen today. Just like with all cultures and civilisations, there are good and bad aspects. Modern documentary makers could learn something from The Triumph of the West.

Cultural Appropriation

One of the most pernicious techniques used to demonise the West the is the practice of unilaterally claiming ownership of language and definitions and using this perceived control to prevent logical debate on the issues.

A particular technique used to attack the West, that has been in the news recently in relation to the attack on Syria with tomahawk cruise missiles,  is the often-used charge of cultural ‘appropriation’. This is when someone in the open minded West dares to incorporate elements of another non-western culture. The accusation of cultural ‘appropriation’ is designed to mark someone out as somehow being intolerant or insensitive. However, it would appear that the use of such accusations is the legacy of the ‘active measures’ used by the Soviet Union against its NATO enemies during the Cold War!

Soviet active measures were not designed to promote equality and fairness, they were designed to sow division in the target country to create societal weakness and make it more vulnerable in the case of war. They were not designed to create intercultural harmony in the diverse West, they were designed to create a sense of grievance in order to create conflict. The idea of criticising cultural ‘appropriation’ would fit into the toolbox of Soviet active measures quite snugly and the technique bears the hallmarks of something that has been designed. It exploits division and makes society weaker and less cohesive. High level Soviet defector Yuri Bezmenov explained the technique back in 1983:

“What it basically means is: to change the perception of reality of every American that despite of the abundance of information no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community, and their country.”

It is applied with a broad brush, and those who use the brush try to confuse people by contrasting it with the term ‘cultural sharing’. However, where one ends and the other begins is left deliberately vague so that the political activists using it have maximum freedom of usage. Appropriation would imply that the thing in question was taken without permission, but is culture something that it is possible for someone to own. Normally, people see an aspect of another culture and absorb it. The practice of al fresco dining, barabaques and the cafe culture was something that was adopted in England after people had experienced continental holidays. They did not get permission to do it while abroad. Adopting aspects of culture is something that happens naturally and informally.

This is what happened when some white women decided to start wearing hooped ear rings.  They liked the look of them and thought I like those and they will look good on me so they started wearing them. However, they then faced charges of cultural ‘appropriation’ and told they should not be wearing them. No patent was violated, but the grievance industry saw an opportunity to create division. It is the equivalent of someone telling Sir Walter Raleigh that the people of Europe should not be eating potatoes when he brought them back from America! After all, I bet he did not get permission spread the culinary traditions of the Americas to other areas.

So as we can see, what is being described is not theft, because the thing in question is not something that is bought or sold, it is something that just is. It is not even sharing because in probably a majority of cases in human history, like the air we breath, it was something that was simply taken. This has always being how humans learn – they see a good way to do something and they copy it. The concept of owning a culture is particular perverse in any case, but people will try all sorts of approaches to earn money and should not be stopped from being creative.

The use of the term ‘appropriation’ is therefore very misleading that is which I have put the word appropriation in inverted commas. Cultural transfer is a much clearer and better way of saying the same thing but that would not be as effective from an active measures point of view.

The use of the term cultural ‘appropriation’ illustrates how the concept is designed to create a particular political outcome – the defining factor in active measures subversion. What makes the true motives of people using this political tool even clearer is that it is related by them to another vague concept – privileged and non-privileged groups. Of course, only they can decide who is put into each category and why. The real world is far more complex and nuanced and putting people into categories like this is yet another way of generating grievance and creating conflict.

These active measures, once initiated by the Soviets, would run on indefinitely and so they continued after the Cold War ended. Self-interested opportunists have adopted this legacy, whether they are neo Marxists wanting to sow global revolution or globalists trying to control democracies via a policy of divide and rule.

How cultural ‘appropriation’ is a normal part of human development

Trade is cultural transfer in its most basic form and is something that human beings have been doing since prehistoric times. Trade has always helped augment cultures and make them more alike. It has also served to promote shared interests and peace.

Labelling such cultural transfer as appropriation defies both reality and logic. The notion implies that culture is static – something that is refuted by historical reality. The desire to put people in distinctive and unchanging categories and to play them off against each other is something that should be treated with suspicion. Cultures merge, blend and borrow from one another, they always have and always will. It is not natural for cultures to develop in isolation and attempts to create a patchwork of cultural isolation is, frankly, quite silly.

In ancient times, China was the predominant culture in the world for many thousands of years yet this did not stop the West appropriating its many fruits. It ‘appropriated’ many things including, paper, gunpowder, alcohol, tea drinking, wearing silk and many others. It did not do this out of fear, it did it because the things that Chinese culture had produced were deemed useful or better than their home produced alternatives. As such we became a little bit more Chinese than we used to be and the two civilisations had that bit more in common. Surely this is something that should be encouraged. Absorbing parts of another culture is the highest praise that can been bestowed upon that culture. It illustrates cultural strength and longevity and is a demonstration of the success and resilience of that culture. It is a recognition of that culture’s contribution to world civilisation. For instance the factory system that the British found in Bengal could not fail to have influenced the creation of the industrial revolution in Northern England. The English probably applied what they learned from it subconsciously and certainly did not ask for permission.

Just like classical Communism ignored human nature in economics, those who peddle the results of Soviet active measures in the West ignore human nature in cultural terms. Blending ideas creates new thoughts and facilitates human progress, whoever the immediate beneficiaries may be.

Many people at the time that The Triumph of the West series was made believed that as a result of all countries adopting Western modernity, the world would become just like the West. Many countries adopted the methods of Western modernity, yet failed to develop. Other countries like Japan took it upon itself to use the technology, the intellectual property, of the West but gave it a uniquely Japanese twist.  This created something new, something better, something uniquely Japanese. In turn Western countries adopted some of the uniquely Japanese components to improve their own technology and appropriated these aspects of Japanese culture. Neither the Japanese or the West asked for permission they just learned from what they saw.

A similar thing happened following the Norman conquest of Sicily. The new rulers sensibly recognised the value of aspects of the previous Arabic culture and used it. Again, this fuelled progress, and at that time a sense of mutual understanding and common purpose among the Norman and Arabic cultures on the island of Sicily prevailed. The impact of this ‘appropriation’ benefited both cultures.

Conclusion

When cultures are brought together, as they are today, in increasingly confined areas then the impact of ‘cultural appropriation’ will become even more intensified. This is a natural thing and a very good thing. It is when cultural appropriation does not happen that people should worry. If people confine themselves to the pigeon holes assigned to them by globalists of ‘progressive’ politicians then that is something to really worry about. If people are afraid to engage in ‘cultural appropriation’ then the result is a dangerous polarisation that could, in the end, result in ghettoization and conflict. This would be a disaster. Perhaps those who condemn ‘cultural appropriation’ are striving to create such a situation for their own self-interested political motives. The techniques unleashed by Soviet active measures should not be allowed to destroy our societies so long after the Cold War ended.

The real triumph of the West was the creation our world where all cultures and civilisations know each other and learn from each other. Throughout the period when the West was predominant it ‘appropriated’ the ideas of other civilisations and they ‘appropriated’ ideas from the West. As we stabilise into a multi-civilisational world order we will continue the very human tradition of ‘cultural appropriation’ and in so doing we will evolve into something new, different and better.

An Analysis Of President Trump’s Proportional Response To The Use Of Chemical Weapons in Syria

A Proportional Response

The US attack on Syria last night was a proportional response. The West Wing TV show did a good explanation of what this is. In the following video footage the fictional President Bartlett is speaking against the virtue of a proportionate response. It must be noted here that he had lost a close friend in the attack that his generals are proposing to respond to. He is acting emotionally which is always dangerous whether you are fighting a duel or conducting international relations. In fact an emotional response will get you killed in a duel and could get you into a major destructive war when applied to international relations. In international relations rational and calculated action is usually the least dangerous approach.

An Anti Establishment Response

President Trump is vilified by the mainstream media because his vision for the world is different from that of the globalist establishment who own that media and use it as a propaganda tool to promote their interests. Those interests are global and therefore independent of any single country. In fact individual countries, especially democratic ones, are a serious impediment to the realisation of globalist policy goals.

President Trump has been friendly towards Russia because Russia also has a vision for the world that is different to the globalist establishment. That is also the reason that the mainstream media vilifies Russia and promotes war against it. I doubt the Trump vision and the Russia vision for the world are the same but the globalist establishment is the stronger and is perceived as the most dangerous player at the moment.

President Trump was manoeuvred into a corner by the globalist establishment and had to act to restore his control of the strategic environment. A proportional response was a way to forestall the establishment desire to promote serious hostility between Russia and the United States. He has now successfully restored his personal control to the situation for the following reasons:

  1. If President Assad did indeed order the chemical attack then it will deter him from doing so again. This gives President Trump the opportunity to demonstrate that he is not a Russian pawn. This strengthens his domestic position without giving in to demands to escalate hostility with Russia.
  2. If it was the rebels who staged the attack to secure a propaganda victory and provoke a disproportionate response then that now will not now happen. Action has been taken and a line has been drawn.
  3. The mainstream media and its globalist owners clearly want to provoke American involvement in full scale war in Syria. This proportional response will nullify their campaign at least for a while.

Globalist End Game Forestalled?

We have already seen how the result of similar globalist inspired strategies in Libya, Egypt, Iraq and indeed Syria itself was to empower ISIS and produce maximum instability in the region. We have also seen how this strategy has created the refugee crisis, which from a globalist perspective is not a crisis at all but an opportunity.

A conclusion that can be drawn from the desire to continue this strategy is that the globalists want to make things so bad in the region that people will be driven from their homes and effectively be forced to become refugees. If this conclusion is correct then it would appear that the globalist grand strategy may be to deliberately create a divide and rule situation in Europe and North America in order weaken the ability of public’s in those countries to oppose their brand of globalisation that seeks to lower business costs without giving the full benefits to those territories and their people.

In the meantime, the counties in the Middle East are robbed of their most talented people. They are left as a weakened and impoverished disaster zone that can be easily recolonised in the globalist interest at a later date once their European and North American base has been tamed.

Conclusion

President Trump has delayed what he would regard as the globalist advance. The globalists will adapt and attempt to continue their policy in the future, but President Trump has bought valuable time and room for manoeuvre.

It might seem counter intuitive but the proportional response is not only good for President Trump, it is good for Russia and the anti ISIS elements within Syria too. In some ways it could be regarded as a victory, or at least a stalemate, for Russia because the damage caused by the information warfare that being waged against it is the most dangerous to its interests. The cold information war was reaching the point where it could have turned hot. The temporary loss of a Syrian airfield is an insignificant price to pay for a lull in the information war and a return to a situation of relative strategic stability.

There will be some vocal protests from Russia at the UN, that will make it look like the attack was more significant than it was. However, this will also improve President Trump’s credibility. Their protests will be symbolic and it will be in their interests not to further escalate the situation. In the meantime, ISIS will not have the opportunity that would arise from the fall of the Assad regime. The heat will be taken out of the situation and it will be quietly kicked into the long political grass. Politics will resume its slow march forth.

The image that the media has been trying to create for Trump is one of the warmonger with his finger on the nuclear trigger. His measured, proportional response to this crisis suggests the opposite.

Skulduggery In Sandal: The Arrest of John Nevison at the Three Houses

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I’ve spent quite a few hours in the Three Houses, having meals, attending wedding receptions and having a drink or two on a Saturday nights.

It is located in the next village to mine – Sandal which goes back to William the Conqueror’s Domesday book that mentions the local Church dedicated to St Helen, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the great who was declared emperor in nearby York and who made Christianity the empire’s official religion.

Wakefield has quite a bit of history and this pub represents some of that history. It was here that the notorious highwayman John Nevison was arrested while boozing in 1684. The inscription on the blue plaque affixed to the pub in 2009 to honour of the event reads as follows:

“John Nevison (1639-1685), the famous robber and highwayman, seen by some as a latter day Robin Hood, was reputedly arrested at the Three Houses Inn at Sandal prior to his conviction and execution at York in 1685.”

Some of Nevison’s exploits became erroneously associated with the most famous highwayman of all, Dick Turpin who was the hero of the TV series in then late 1970s and early 1980s staring Richard O’Sullivan:

Its nice to drink in places with a degree of historic texture, makes you feel part of the continuity of civilisation. Something to ponder while enjoying the company of friends while enjoying the company of friends while dining or drinking.

More on John Nevison at Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Nevison

Capturing Urban Texture

I love taking photographs and have been looking at ones that I have taken in different parts of the world that capture what I call urban texture. That is, the colours, textures, lighting, brickwork and contrast that my photographs captured within urban landscapes.

I have run these through filters available on Instragram to try to exaggerate the textures to increase their impact and then compiled them in a section that I have created within Flickr.

The images compiled so far cover places such as my home town of Wakefield, Siena, New York, Portofino, Paris, Warsaw, Provins, Beverley, Rome, York, Bridlington, Verona, Zurich, Copenhagen, Sorrento, Venice, Leeds, Pisa, Cefalu, Luca, Berlin, London and Jerusalem.

The following is my progress on this small project that I have achieved so far (click the image below to see the collection):

A) Urban Texture

Parliament in Peril – The Speakership of John Bircow

Politicians of all parties, and indeed the party political system itself, are increasingly held in contempt by the general public. British institutions are based on conventions and gentleman’s agreements, and it is the lack of respect of these that is souring public perceptions of their ‘honourable’ members of Parliament. When politicians stop behaving like gentlemen (and of course ladies) the whole system feels the negative impact. The respect enjoyed by speakers of the House of Commons is based on such convention. Since the Commons cannot function without a Speaker it is important that the conventions in relation to the Speaker’s neutrality be adhered to and respected.

Calling Time

In much the same way as the Monarch is supposed to be above the squalor of party politics, so is the Speaker. The Speaker’s recent comments on significant political issues undermine both the role of Speaker and the integrity of Parliament itself.

If the Speaker is allowed to get away with such a blatant breach of the rules, a breach that has now happened at least twice, then will Her Majesty the Queen be given the freedom to speak out directly on political issues. Will she be allowed to openly condemn politicians who she believes deserve such public rebuke?

Furthermore, since the current Speaker can no longer be regarded as a neutral arbitrator, will the convention of not standing against the Speaker at General Elections continue? Is the Speaker now merely another politician putting his own personal interest before the broader public interest? Could it be argued that the current Speaker has made it impossible for him to perform his own role?

We already have a dangerous situation in which the result of public votes are not respected, which has implications for all future elections and indeed the future of democratic governance in the UK. We also have the mainstream press regarded with suspicion due to them aggressively spinning news stories in order to make it meet the needs of vested interests – the production’Fake News’ to use the current linguistic fad. The future of the House of Lords is also now in grave doubt which adds to the current political instability. The Speaker’s remarks are Constitutionally significant and represent a deepening Constitutional Crisis!

The Speaker should recognise that he has done damage to the already weakened institution of Parliament. As such, he should now do what convention demands, he should behave like a gentlemen, he should behave like an Honourable Member of Parliament – he should step down, his personality is obviously not suitable to the demands of the role of Speaker.

Why Theresa May’s Threat To Leave The Single Market Demonstrates Political Weakness

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has now indicated that she is willing to leave the EU Single Market. While many see this as something positive, the reality of her position shows profound political weakness and lack of resolve. It shows that she definitely studied at the failed David Cameron school of negotiation.

She is obliged by the Referrendum result to not just to threaten to leave things like the Single Market but to actually leave. The British people voted to leave the EU and the Single Market is the most significant part, and in fact the central pillar, of the EU.

If the UK does not leave the Single Market then the confidence of the British People in democracy will be lost and the political class will lose all legitimacy. That would be a very dangerous condition in which to put a country that already holds the political class in contempt.

A far more effective negotiating position would be to say that the UK WILL leave the Single Market and is willing to risk a trade war with the EU if the EU discriminates against the UK with regard to trade.

The EU claims to be a force for world peace and history shows that free trade is the most significant guarantor for such peace. Recent EU rhetoric about “punishing” the UK is offensive and indication of belligerency by the EU. So much for its peaceful pronouncements!

The EU’s aggressive eastern expansionism, and its desire to incorporate the Ukraine into its imperial project, has already alienated an otherwise peaceful Russia. It cannot afford to do the same on its Western flank to a country that merely wants to be its friend and to engage in peaceful free trade.

In any case, an EU that does not accept free trade with an independent Britain is an EU that is doomed. The EU is currently in a very vulnerable political and geostrategic position and Theresa May should exploit this and call the EU’s bluff. If the EU does not achieve a favourable trade deal with the UK the the whole EU project will fail.

The EU is on the brink of the abyss and it is in no position to dictate terms! There is too much emphasis on what the EU can do to the UK in the short term. Buying into this narrative would be a serious mistake with regard to the forthcoming negotiations.

Theresa May seriously needs to up her game to get the best deal for Britain!