UK Culture Secretary Fails Internet

In a terrible indictment on the UK government, Andy Burnham (Culture Secretary) demonstrates some fundamental gaps in his knowledge of both the mystical internet and what freedom of speech means.

From the BBC:

Film-style age ratings could be applied to websites to protect children from harmful and offensive material, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham has said.
Mr Burnham told the Daily Telegraph the government was looking at a number of possible new internet safeguards.
He said some content, such as clips of beheadings, was unacceptable and new standards of decency were needed.

Briefly defending him, Mr Burnham has only suggested it as an option. But that is as far as my charity will go.

First things first. Film style age ratings do not “protect” anyone from anything. Browser based implementations (such as blocking your browser from viewing certain ratings) would prevent people from seeing “offensive” material but that is a different matter. Film style age ratings are far from 100% successful in stopping people seeing offensive films (have you seen Mama Mia?) and they are only moderately sucessful in stopping people seeing age-inappropriate content. Why would they work on the internet?

Despite being culture secretary, Mr Burnham appears unaware that the internet is global in nature. This website is written by British people, hosted on a German server and has 60% of its traffic from the USA. Who gets to say what is, or isnt, appropriate here? Harmful content is very culture-specific and by its nature, the internet skips over these boundaries. Do we censor information that the Iranians find offensive? Or the North Koreans? Or southern-US Baptists? Who gets to choose what is harmful? What gives that person the right to say to me what is harmful for my children?

There are some common standards that could be applied, but I suspect there are less of these than Mr Burnham thinks there are. Some cultures think it is acceptable for people to watch criminals being executed, others don’t. Supporters of capital punishment talk about the death of the criminal serving as a deterrent to others. This only works if others know of the death, which is why most executions of this nature are public. Is it harmful (in this context) for people to see the punishment carried out? It is “harmful” in the eyes of a culture that does not condone the death penalty, but why should that culture control the internet?

One thing that screamed out at me was the idea that a video clip of a beheading was unacceptable, rather than the beheading itself… But, in my charitable mood that might have just been a turn of phrase.

The madness continues:

[Mr Burnham] also plans to negotiate with the US on drawing up international rules for English language websites.

Wow. So the UK and US will make a pact that dictates the rules for Australian websites? That sounds fair. What about Iranian websites translated into English? This is mind-numbing madness. Hopefully the US government is technologically literate enough to tell Mr Burnham to boil his head for a few hours. Equally, most video clips showing beheadings are on foreign language websites. What control does the US have over them (short of invading, although admittedly the US rarely stops short of that…).

“Leaving your child for two hours completely unregulated on the internet is not something you can do,” he told the Telegraph.

Another bit of madness. The internet is not a parent. It is not even a child minder. Parents need to be able to educate and assist their children, not rely on badly-thought out “ratings schemes.” Parents need to sit with their child as they surf the internet. Its like anything children do – if you abandon your child to do it, you have no control over what they do. You may think you have some say, but you dont. Take the ratings scheme: most children who are able to surf un-assisted will be able to change web-browers to one that ignores the ratings. Or better still, will be able to enter a URL without a .uk or .com ending where the UK/US RULE is ignored. Technologically backward parents will not be able to implement a control to prevent the child switching to [Lynx|Amaya|Chrome|Opera|FireFox|Mozilla|Safari|Etc]. Does Mr Burnham think every browser coder will be willing to implement a strong age-ratings control without new ones spawning up? Is he that foolish?

The final bit of oddness is: [Emphasis mine]

He went on to say it was time to review the accessibility of certain content on the internet and insisted he was not trying to curb free speech.
His plans are likely to anger those who advocate the freedom of the worldwide web.
You can still view content on the internet which I would say is unacceptable. You can view a beheading,” he said.
“This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it, it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people.”

For a culture secretary, Mr Burnham is woefully ignorant of what “freedom of speech” means. Personally I am opposed to beheading people. I find the death penalty for any crime offensive. Not everyone shares my opinion and, as a result, there are websites where you can read about executions. There are even websites that support the death penalty. I would say they were unacceptable. Does that mean they should be blocked from your browser? No, it means I shouldn’t view them. If I find something offensive, then I shouldn’t look at it. With my children, I sit with them to educate them about what they see. Should I accept your view of what is acceptable for them?

Despite what Mr Burnham says, freedom of speech is not about being free to say things that he (or anyone else) finds acceptable. I find political diatribes offensive and I find religious websites offensive. Will Mr Burnham have them removed? Or would that be a violation of the concept of Freedom of Speech? (I suspect the answer is yes)

The world is full of things which people will find offensive. I find children dying of hunger in Africa unacceptable. Does that mean we ban video clips of it (there go those Oxfam adverts) or does it mean we try to prevent it happening in the first place?

Mr Burnham is right to be offended by the video clips of beheadings. So why dont we prevent the beheadings?

I am sorry, Mr Burnham. As culture secretary you fail.

Windmill aesthetics

Buildings don’t get much more attractive than traditional windmills. More or less anyone will agree on that. It even comes as a bit of a shock to remember that windmills were industrial structures, not landscape beautification projects.

So, what is it about modern wind turbines that sends some people into a rage? In the Times, Charles Bremner claimed that the French countryside was becoming ugly because of the spread of wind turbines.

Windpower blights “la belle France”

His argument is basically that France doesn’t need the “ugly” windturbines because it has loads of nuclear power. What? Has he ever seen a nuclear power station?

The UK’s only remotely attractive one, as a building, was Trawfyndd – of which the architecture bit of the Guardian showed a flattering photograph a couple of months ago. The photo doesn’t come with the online story but here’s an extract from the text.

The tradition continued into the early nuclear age with the appointment of Basil Spence, architect of Coventry cathedral, to design Trawsfynydd in Wales. Like Scott, Spence went down the route of unabashed monumentality to reflect the awesome technology at work within. Never mind that his 20-storey monoliths in the middle of Snowdonia stuck out like a pair of sore thumbs. At the time of Trawsfynydd’s construction, in 1959, this treatment was entirely appropriate: symbolically, nuclear power was one of the few things that told Britain it was still Great. That triumphalism would soon fade, as the implications of the Windscale fire in 1957 became apparent, and environmental and peace movements started to campaign against nuclear.
One need only look at the industrial-looking nuclear eyesores built in the 1970s and 80s, such as Hartlepool or Dungeness, to see the change. Having furnished Britain with some of the ugliest buildings ever seen, British Energy took a renewed concern in the appearance of Sizewell B in the 90s.

Note, “Ugliest buikdings ever seen.”

You can see a selection of postcard views of nuclear carbon-friendly power plants on an odd site that google found, and you’d have to admit that, despite the stunning landscapes they are set in, the kindest description of them would be “darkly foreboding.”

OK, the concepts of beauty and ugliness are relative and individual. Let’s assume that those elegant wind turbine blades are uglier as huge concrete slab monolithic powerplants in the eyes of some beholders.

Pretend that a miraculous new way of generating energy (from fusion or electrolytic transformation or any star-trekky energy source you can imagine) has been discovered. So, the working life of a wind turbine is over. What happens to it? You just take it down. I think that’s it. (You might cause some localised pollution by dropping it in landfill. Pretty small beer compared to what we dump every day, but still, I’m trying to be fair.)

Not quite as easy to take down all the carbon-neutral new nuclear power plants is it? You need a decade or more for decommissioning. You’d still have to protect it to within an inch of its life (from accidents and terrorists) for that time. Then you’d just have to store and guard the materials for, oh I don’t know, a few thousand years.

Or, let’s assume that the star-trek energy breakthrough doesn’t happen. The turbines just spin around, collecting energy that – as far as I can tell, on recent form – is increasing, if anything. They break and can get replaced. The land, sea and air around them are as clean, or otherwise, as they would be in the absence of a turbine.

There is no reason, except aesthetics, for not siting them in the centre of big cities. If they break, they just break. They don’t go critical.

A really unlucky person might find that a broken one landed on their head. This doesn’t quite compare with Chernobyl.

(There’s a REALLY ugly power generator picture – of the post-explosion Chernobyl plant – on the Wikipedia page. I didn’t pasted it here because I’m baffled by the fair use clause.)

Imagining for one minute that you share the aesthetic sensibilities of Charles Bremner and the couple of French aristocrats he reported, it’s still a very small price to pay.

Please, Jacqui, can I have an ID card now

Message from Bizzarro world: People in the UK can’t wait to get their hands on ID cards. They are constantly bothering the Home Secretary, badgering her to hurry up and introduce them.

Well, she says so, anyway.

Jacqui Smith says public demand means people will be able to pre-register for an ID card within the next few months.
The cards will be available for all from 2012 but she said: “I regularly have people coming up to me and saying they don’t want to wait that long.” (from the BBC website)

Are there enough smileys and ROTFLMAOs in the world to do internet justice to this idea? I doubt it but here goes anyway.

πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ ad infinitum

More from our Home Secretary:

“I now want to put that to the test and find a way to allow those people who want a card sooner to be able to pre-register their interest as early as the first few months of next year.”
She told the BBC: “We’ll see where that interest is, and then we’ll see if we can issue some cards to those who’ve expressed an interest by the end of next year.”
People applying for cards and passports from 2012 will have to provide fingerprints, photographs and a signature, which Ms Smith believes will create a market worth about Β£200m a year.
And in changes to earlier plans the Home Office is talking to retailers and the Post Office about setting up booths to gather biometric data.

A plan to have booths all over the country collecting biometric data is going to create a “market.” A market in what exactly? The economy must be in an even worse state than we’ve been told.

Estimated costs for the ID scheme have been revised upwards yet again to Β£5.1 billions. Even if the – how can I put this? – fiscally optimistic figure of a new “market” in selling our own biometric data back to us is worth Β£200 million a year, it’ll take a good few years to recover Β£5.1 billions. And that’s without taking into account the costs of setting up the booths and taking out the profit margins for those PFI companies that are unwary enough to sign up for the opportunity.

I suggest that anyone who’s been badgering the Home Secretary for an ID card – momentarily assuming such people exist outside the Land of Porkie Pies- get a driving licence or a passport. Problem solved.

Or here’s my alternative instant identity document. Just fill it out and carry it round. OK, it’s only half-thought out but then I’m saving you loads of time and money.

Instant ID card

Instant ID card

Now, stop bothering our busy Home Secretary with your whining demands for something to show you who you are.

Oh, you want it to be stored on a database, do you? Just as cheap and easy. Type all your personal details into any database or spreadsheet program on your PC (or send it to me to store in PHPMyAdmin, if you must be all formal about this) then copy it to a memory stick, get on some public transport and leave it down the back of the seat.

Of course, if you want it to be really secure, find a big overseas-based subcontractor and pay them a lot of money to send it offshore first, before the random jettisoning bit, but I’m just thinking of the savings you’ll make by cutting out the middle man. Read the papers, we’re all supposed to be belt-tightening you know. Do it yourself.

Money for nothing

Question: What’s the difference between an “oligarch” and bog-standard “billionaire”?

Answer: Well, nationality for a start. Russians get called “oligarchs”. Rich and powerful non-Russians like Murdoch are just “billionaires”.
My print Chambers Dictionary defines an oligarch as someone who holds power in an oligarchy, which is a mite too self-referential to be truly instructive. Wikipedia defines oligarchy as rule by the few:

a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society distinguished by royalty, wealth, family, military powers or occult spiritual hegemony.

Sorry, I still can’t work out the distinction.

A senior Tory, George Osborne – the Shadow Chancellor, no less, is currently in trouble for allegedly trying to get a donation from a Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska. Note, he’s not in trouble for hitting on a very rich chap for Β£50,000. The trouble is just because the potential donor doesn’t have the right to vote in England.

Anyway, Osborne is “sorry”, he “made a mistake”.

That’s OK, George, we’ve all been there. Holidays with the mega-rich. Invitations to parties on billionaires’ yacht in Corfu. The sea, the sand, the sun, the free and easy holiday atmosphere. Maybe too much champagne. What happens in Corfu, stays in Corfu…. Easy mistakes to make.

No wait, my mistake. WE haven’t all been there. I must have been temporarily channelling Peter Mandelson. He was there at the same time. And he’s also been a bit annoyed by the churlish attention that commentators with no romance in their souls have been paying to his own flirtation with the same oligarch.

This row is putting Parliament in a rather embarrassing position, as the major parties increasingly look – how shall I put this, a little slack, when it comes to their sources of income.

The move comes as the Conservative party faces allegations that it took tens of thousands of pounds from an associate of a Ukrainian oligarch and accepted a Β£1m loan from a dormant company owned and run by Lady Victoria de Rothschild, a member of the banking family.
The Guardian revealed on Saturday that Robert Shetler-Jones, a British associate of Dmitry Firtash, has been funding the office of Pauline Neville-Jones, the shadow security minister. Shetler-Jones also funds Conservative Central Office through Scythian Ltd, which he chairs and part-owns. It has been described as a “non-trading company” and its accounts are overdue.
The firm’s position had already caused concern to the commission because non-trading companies cannot give donations to political parties, although the Conservatives produced a letter from its auditors saying it was still trading.
The Observer revealed yesterday that a Β£1m loan was given to the Conservative party by Ironmade Ltd, which is owned and controlled by Lady Victoria de Rothschild. According to the newspaper, Ironmade was set up to avoid her identity being revealed.
(from theGuardian)

How impressed am I by all these people with riches so far beyond the dreams of avarice that they can hand over lottery-win-level sums of money to political parties? Anonymously. Indeed, so anonymously that they even work out complicated barely-legal ways to hide their identities. And they want nothing in return…..

Blimey, Osborne wasn’t even trying, if his (alleged) request was for a relatively humble Β£50,000.

Like his Tory counterparts, Mandelson is aghast at the very suggestion that there is anything remotely shady about hanging round with the Russian mega-rich, either when he was EU trade commissioner, or now that he was (unaccountably) brought back by Brown when the economy started to tank. (Despite having had to resign over business dealings twice before)

He flatly refused to elaborate on the his meetings with his oligarch chum.

Lord Mandelson today rejected fresh calls for him to reveal the full extent of his relationship with Oleg Deripaska, insisting that no conflict of interest arose during his meetings with the controversial Russian billionaire. (from the Guardian)

For instance, he certainly wouldn’t comment on the absurd suggestion that Deripaska may have benefited from the lowering of EU tariffs on aluminium, when his yacht-buddy Mandelson was EU Trade Commissioner.

But Mandelson, who is leading a four-day UK trade delegation to Russia, refused to confirm the number and nature of his meetings with Deripaska, or the length of time he spent aboard the oligarch’s yacht off Corfu in August.

Look, can somebody please introduce me to these Russian oligarchs who are happy to throw around invitations to their yacht parties? I had naively assumed that you don’t get to be a billionaire without demanding something quite lucrative in exchange for huge sums of money. But I was clearly wrong. So I’d like to be one of the first to join in the parting-a-fool-from-his-money fest.

Holiness

Rachel Sylvester, wrote in the Times that “There’s a god-shaped hole in Westminster” I assumed this meant that Thor had crash landed outside the House of Commons or, at the least, that artistic roadworkers had scooped out a reverse statue of Pan from the pavements of the Royal Borough.

Disappointingly, not so. Rachel Sylvester just thinks that our politicians are too godless.

Certainly, politicians find it easier to β€œcome out” as atheists than to profess that they have a religious faith. Nick Clegg, David Miliband and George Osborne have all said recently that they do not believe in God – something that would be unthinkable in the United States, where presidential candidates compete to win over religious voters……
……. the favourite book for politicians on holiday last year was The God Delusion.

Well, yes, of course they find it easier to say they are atheists, rather than to call their own credulity and mental health into question, by claiming to believe in an imaginary friend. They want us to vote for them surely.

(I am distracted again by exactly how Rachel Sylvester knows what politicians’ favourite holiday reading was. I mean, I’d like to believe that it was the God Delusion but I fear that falls into the category of “made-up stuff”.)

The creeping secularisation of politics was one of the factors that pushed Ruth Kelly, a devout Roman Catholic, into resigning her Cabinet position. …….
She was also disturbed by the way in which her membership of Opus Dei was seen as something weird and even rather dangerous; and she disliked the way in which Mr Blair’s Christianity was mocked during the war in Iraq.

“Creeping secularisation” suggests some stealthy process in which the religious underpinnings of British government are being progressively undermined. Nonsense. Religion plays a bigger part in public discourse now than it has before in my lifetime. If anything, Blair let ideas of “religion” and “faith” intrude into UK politics in ways that were relatively novel.

Ruth Kelly’s membership of Opus Dei may indeed have been seen as something weird. Because it is.

(Although I doubt anyone had heard of her before she resigned, let alone knew that she was member of of Opus Dei, a Catholic society not normally associated with the politics of the Labour Party, old or new.)

Blair’s Christianity “mocked during the war in Iraq”. What? What on earth are you talking about? Blair was unpopular because of the war, true enough. What did his avowed Christianity have to do with that war? Or did he think he was secretly acting for Rowan Williams or the Pope? I can’t believe that either of them would thank him for it.

He was mocked for his commitment to “faith”, fair enough. Indeed, his commitment to his “faith” was so great that he pretended to be an Anglican until he left power, then immediately “converted” to Catholicism. It’s quite hard to see this as a deep and abiding commitment to anything.

Plus, if he was indeed mocked, it must have only been in the House of Commons, which boosts my faltering trust in the judgment of MPs. Most British voters are not interested in a politician’s religion, even though Ms Sylvester seems to think that we need politicians to proclaim imaginary solutions to give us the optimism to deal with crises:

It is ironic that politicians in this country have abandoned belief – at the very moment that the people need hope.

What? This rhetoric is bilge. Have politicians all abandoned belief? No such luck. All of a sudden? No. Do people need “hope” now particularly, as opposed to any other time? Obviously not. Do people get “hope” as a result of politicians believing in sky fairies? Too silly to answer.

One for the scapegoating record book

I am kicking myself for not running an online gambling book on how long it would take to find a scapegoat for banking crisis. But then, less than a week would have seemed too short a time, so, as the bookmaker, I might have actually lost out on this one.

As T-W said yesterday, the UK immigration minister has stepped up to meet our government’s desire to get re-elected at any cost, by announcing a “clampdown” on immigration. This lurch towards shamelessness has been predictably attacked by the Tories – whose natural constituency is the HYS nutter and the Daily Mail reader – as not being tough enough (garbage) and stealing their policies (true)

Mr Grieve [the Tory equivalent to the immigration minister] said Labour were matching Tory policies on setting immigration limits. (from the BBC)

I have a picture of someone who finds that they have lost their housekeys and believes that beating the crap out of their next door neighbour will magically get them inside their own front door.

I.e Does not compute. This sort of thing bears about as much relation to reality as something dreamed up in an alcoholic stupor by someone who has had their frontal lobe removed.

In any case, (apart from the use of “immigrant” as if it means “black person”) the “immigration” that gets little England so irate is immigration from Eastern Europe, over which the UK government can have no control, under EC rules. So the only immigration that they can control involves a tiny number of people from the commonwealth countries and people seeking asylum.

The treatment of asylum-seekers is already a scandal. Is it possible that the government plans to make it even worse, so that people impoverished by the financial collapse will feel they’ve got their money’s worth?

Does anyone seriously believe that they are about to lose their job or their home because of “immigrants”, rather than because of the economic meltdown? Such people are clearly too stupid to walk and chew gum at the same time. How on earth do they manage to survive anyway?

As I write this, the unpleasant immigration minister is on the Politics Show saying that stronger immigration controls will lessen racism, indeed that it is the ethnic minority population that’s calling for it…..

Back to my conceptual online betting scheme. What are the odds that the minister would claim that tougher immigration controls would actually counter racism? (less than evens) What are the odds that this is true? Basically zero.

Have your hate

I suspect the Twat-O-Tron has been at work on the BBC’s Have Your Say (HYS) pages once more. One of todays “discussion” topics is Should immigration be cut because of the downturn? As you can imagine, this sort of thing really does bring the spiteful, uneducated, masses out of the dark, hate-filled world they normally hide in.

As always, a second-rate politician has found a topic they can grand-stand on, which appeals to the base instincts of the public:

The economic downturn will mean fewer people from outside the European Union are allowed to live and work in Britain, the UK Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has suggested.
Mr Woolas told the Times newspaper that in times of economic difficulty, racial stereotyping gets stronger so jobs should go primarily to those who live here.
He said when people were losing their jobs, immigration had become an extremely thorny issue.
Mr Woolas said the government would not allow the population to go up to 70 million.

I doubt more than a handful of people outside his constituency had heard of Mr Woolas before this, but he has achieved his goal. His “inspiring” comments have drawn quite a bit of attention to him.

Predictably, at the time of writing anyway, the weight of comments on HYS is in support of this madness. It seems that people have an arbitrary idea of what means someone is “British” enough to be here. On its own, this is bizarre enough but it seems there is a new version of logic available to these people. Each of these seem to fall into a theme.

The first is made up from people who are slightly misled:

UK Government must respond to the changing economic situation by making drastic cuts in the non EU workers coming to work and live in UK.With recession knocking on our doors resulting in job losses and increase in unemployment it will be folley to allow the immigration at the present level. Immigration must be restricted to needed skilled workers only. [By the miracle of irony, this comment was from “Mohan Lal Ramchandani, Westhoughton, United Kingdom”]

Non-EU migrant workers are, despite scare-mongering stories, few and far between in the UK. There are already regulations in place to restrict this migration to skilled workers, which is why the non-EU migrants tend to be in highly specialised professions (Doctors for example). Now, as with all things, the jobs are open to everyone – if British doctors are either unable to take the job, or unwilling to work at the market rate, then why on Odin’s Earth shouldn’t non-EU immigrants do the work?

Worryingly for non-xenophobic lunatics, the jobs lost in the recession are always certainly going to hit “British” workers before they hit migrants; the migrants are already paid peanuts. This will provide an arsenal of madness for the xenophobes and it is worrying that the Immigration Minister didn’t think before he spoke. Well done HM Government.

The next category is the weird, irrelevant, analogy:

At last. Well done for your comments hear. This country could easily be swamped by immigration. The world population is spiralling out of control.
In the Ciaro area for example, there are more than 1.5 million every year, and there is no way enough jobs can be created, despite Egypt’s economic growth.
Rubbish just piles up in the streets, alongside dead animals and roaming packs of unempoyed young men. A worrying vision for a future UK city? [Phil, Enfield]

Typo’s aside, this madness. I have been Cairo and it looked very different to that. However, even if “Phil” was 100% accurate it carries a huge so what. London is not Cairo. The differences are immense, even if UK councils have gone down the road of less and less frequent rubbish collection…

The inevitable empty rant also has its place:

I just cant express my anger at the way in which New Labour have allowed immigration to run riot over the last 11 years in only 500 words.
To announce a cap on immigration now, after the NHS and almost every other public body in the country have been saying for years that they cant cope with the current influx beggars belief, and I just dont believe that they will have the strength to stand up to the namby pamby lefties who put the needs of foreigners before those of brits.
Shut the door today [Downingstreet Mole, Leominster, United Kingdom]

Basically, this is someone who is just plain angry. They don’t really have anything to say and there is no coherent argument. They just wanted to rant about leftwingers. Well done them. Oddly, and sadly for the tabloids, most immigrant workers don’t put pressure on the NHS. People who are earning less than minimum wage aren’t really in a position to take a few days off sick. People who are here, living 30 to a house, dont make a huge dent in the NHS dentistry budget. Yes, a small percentage do use the health service but most don’t. They cant afford to.

Conspiracy theorists have to get their oar in:

please remember we live on an island, and not a very big island at that.
tony blairs government idea of a multicultral country is and was flawed from the outset forgetting history and the fact this little island is not big enough for too many people to live on safely.
the only reason the government invited so many in was to gain supportand ultimately engineer staying in power longer, ignoring indiginous minorities infavour of incoming peoples.
it has to stop now.[delminister, truro, United Kingdom]

Well, this is odd. There are quite a few which have made this claim (or a variation thereof). It strikes me as odd, because Labour’s managed to get in power while a Conservative government held the seat. So, did Labour have a secret load of migrants to vote for them or is this just nonsense? Equally weird, migrants dont get to vote… Truly, the world of HYS is bizarre.

Staying with the madness we get this:

Everyone I speak to from the UK complains about immigration.
The Government ignores what the population of the UK wants. A stop to it.
For this reason alone, regardless of any supposed economic benefits, it should be stopped.[Will de Beest, Spain]

(Spain! Ha). Basically this implies that the government shouldn’t mind about the benefits or costs of a policy, but should just do what ever the subset of the population this nutcase talks to want. Wow. Wouldn’t that lead to a Utopia.

“What are you going to say to the employer who is desperate to fill a job, but can’t find anyone suitable in the European economic area?”
Keith Best, chief executive, Immigration Advisory Service
Is this for real? – is this guy seriously suggesting that there are jobs out there that can not be filled by anyone from within the EU, let alone this country?
If that is the case then maybe the employer should take his business elsewhere.[Graham Duncan, United Kingdom]

Erm, yes. That is what Keith Best is saying, If the employer can’t find some one from the EU he takes his business elsewhere and employs from outside the EU. It is a shame that (on HYS) British-loving seems to mean the same as idiot. This is a milder version where a poor sense of history has conspired to create the idiocy:

We were once a proud nation at peace with itself and common sense lived here it was so good everyone else wanted to live here.
Our grandfathers had worked hard and sacrificed much to make this county Great but immigration reversed all that. Broke, and under shortsighted leadership we have given away more than we could afford.
Should immigration be cut YES, in all honesty it should have been stopped years ago. [Tom J-P[, Byfleet]

There isn’t really all that much I can say to that, other than no.

The comments continue to be a mix of racist, mad or just daft, although having just refreshed them I see there is some balance there now. The oddest part is that people are in favour of immigration laws (which will only affect non-EU migrants) because they want to reduce the number of EU migrants. It really is that stupid.

Worryingly (for the UK) it does show how stupid our electorate is, and how easily they can be misdirected by a slightly cunning politician. I really do think that democracy doesn’t work – most people are too thick.

Ironically, if we did institute a system where people who could barely read or write English were deported, we’d be stuck as most of them (using HYS as my non-scientific, non-representative sample) would have been born here…