Reform, in Name Only

Reform, in Name Only

Bill Hartley returns to prison

Along with other departments, the Ministry of Justice was required by the coalition government to undertake budget cuts. Prisons were particularly hard hit and according to the Prison Governors Association there are now 7000 fewer officers than in 2010. Some prisons were closed. In keeping with the tradition of care and consideration shown to employees by headquarters, governors of the affected prisons were given ample notice to brief their staff. Half an hour after a telephone call in one case.

Another method used was to merge some prisons which lay in close proximity to each other; hence there are interesting new names on the list of jails, ‘Northumberland’ and ‘Humber’ for example. These mergers have certainly produced an economy of scale in admin departments and the like, though running such places must be awkward: the governor having to go out of one jail to enter another then manage a new set of operating problems, even though as far as headquarters is concerned it’s the same jail.

More recently the Service has experienced another metamorphosis. Gone is the unloved and unlamented National Offender Management Service, meant to ‘seamlessly’ bring together prison and probation. Belatedly, headquarters figured out that there was going to be little loyalty towards something called NOMS. Now it is called HM Prison and Probation Service. Those poor folks in probation were always going to be the junior partners in this enterprise and they have suffered organisationally. First they were effectively nationalised, being taken out of local authority control. Then merged with the Prison Service, then disastrously privatised and now they are back in the fold as part of HMPPS.

At headquarters, there have been reorganisations a plenty and a few years ago it too was required to share some of the pain of austerity. With that in mind, it was combed through to dislodge some of the operational governor grades who had been working there, in order to get them back in the field. One governor, beached at headquarters when her jail was merged, was given the job of culling others of her kind. People who hadn’t seen the inside of a jail in years were led blinking into the daylight and given a set of keys.

So they have gone from HM Prison Service to NOMS to HMPPS in a few years with the partner service, probation, getting the biggest mangling along the way: local/ national/ privatised/national. Little wonder then that HMPPS presides over a workforce which believes that it is poorly led. At one time senior staff were known by name and often by sight. This was because they periodically visited jails and listened to the concerns of the people who actually did the job. Some of these individuals were patient listeners who often had to endure everything from the eccentric to the downright bonkers. It was, though, a price worth paying to maintain connectivity. This dialogue effectively ceased in the early part of the century. Assuming the culture of tolerant listening still existed, a prison officer gave vent to his feelings at a meeting with the then director general and was transferred for his trouble. Word of this shot around the Service and dissent was rapidly stifled. Still, at least that particular DG troubled to get around his fiefdom. It hasn’t happened much since.

Tom Wolfe, in A Man in Full, describes an annual contest among officials in the debt recovery department of a bank to find the most baffling organisational structure. Chai Long Shipping is described as being so complex as to resemble a bowl of linguini. Unfortunately, Wolfe never lived to see the latest version of HMPPS headquarters’ management structure. It runs to four pages and in none of them will you find mention of an actual prison. It resembles a layer cake full of exotic ingredients. What for example does the executive director responsible for ‘change, strategy and planning’ actually do? Is it allied to the work of the executive director responsible for the ‘transformation programme’?

Both the prison and probation services now each have a director general. In addition there’s a new kid on the block: a chief executive officer. Both report to her. This capo di tuti capi has no previous experience in criminal justice. It may be that she has ‘clean hands’ and has been appointed to counter criticism from probation staff that the Prison Service has been grabbing the top jobs. If so then the effect has been rather spoiled by the director general probation, being….a former prison governor.

Drilling down still further it’s interesting to see how a new name has provided lots of exciting jobs. Or rather the revival and expansion of old jobs under new titles. For example, there is an ‘executive director public sector prisons’, one for the north another for the south. These have history attached to them. Essentially it started with what used to be a director of operations. This was abolished. Then resurrected and divided into two. Then abolished and has now returned Lazarus like but under a new title.

There are fourteen privately run prisons and the taxpayer will doubtless be reassured to know that these are being well looked after. At one time they had their own area manager. Then responsibility was shared among the geographical area managers. Now there are three ‘senior contracts manager private sector prisons’, reporting to an ‘executive director custodial contracts’. Not mentioned on the chart are those actually doing the work; the ‘controllers’ at each prison, whose job it is to actually manage contract compliance.

High security prisons have for a long time been seen as different and consequently got their own director to reflect this. Now under HMPPS the executive director has acquired two deputies. This seems to have been achieved by inflating the title to include the words ‘long term’. It should be appreciated that every prisoner in a high security jail is by definitiona long termer. No-one doing six months for theft is likely to end up in one. To get this job inflation further into perspective; back in the 1980s all prisoners sentenced to more than five years in the North of England were moved to Liverpool. Here they were dealt with by a humble senior prison officer (about seven grades lower) working out of a converted cell.

There is also an executive director for Young Offenders. Somewhere over the horizon is the Youth Justice Board which commissions places for young people in custody. This director has no operational control over anything. Governors of Young Offender Institutions are appointed by and answer to a deputy director custody (see below). The only thing this executive director can actually do is try and convince the YJB that they are being taken seriously.

For anyone interested to discover who actually goes into prisons then it’s necessary to start the journey from an executive director, public sector prisons. Lurking below this individual is a list of names each with a geographical location attached. These are the deputy directors (custody): four tiers below the CEO and still no mention of prisons.

Clearly austerity at headquarters was a brief period of unpleasantness. Now under a new name it moves majestically onwards, reinventing itself and remaining remote from the core work which may be little more than an abstract concept. A prison might struggle to find someone to do a night shift but up at headquarters everything is serene, with an administrative retinue ‘supporting’ these key roles. Just for fun why not compare the HMPPS organisational chart with that for Operation Overlord? Of course, D day was only about liberating Europe.

William Hartley is a former Deputy Governor in HM Prison Service 

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Dem’s Dystopia

Joe Biden, LBJ Library photo by Jay Godwin

Dem’s Dystopia

by Ilana Mercer

How does one distill the worldview of the Democrats vying for their party’s presidential nomination? Outrace each other on racial righteousness? End Anglo-America? Welcome the World? Evict the unborn? Speak Spanish; English is your second language? All the above—and worse.

On display, again, during the second in a series of Democratic primary debates, were the racial (read anti-white) dynamics. Genial uncle Joe Biden bowed and scraped to his multicultural rivals, whereupon they set upon him like a flash mob; a multicultural mugging, Pat Buchanan called it.

Race—more accurately, anti-white politics—is the Democrats’ cri de coeur. They have no other passion other than hounding and excommunicating others for what are thought crimes—for thinking, speaking or tweeting in politically unpleasing ways.

But practicing ageism gives these social-justice warriors no pause. Leading the purge of the party’s elders was Eric Swalwell, a nasty bit of work who had mercifully dropped out after the first round of debates, late in June. At the time, Swalwell had called on older Democrats to “pass the torch.” “[I]t’s time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans.”

“If we are going to solve the issue, pass the torch. If we are going to solve climate chaos, pass the torch. If we want to end gun violence and solve student debt, pass the torch.”

Swalwell obviously imagined such ugly sloganeering was a winning strategy. And who can blame him? However, other than a writer for the cause at The Atlantic, the representative from northern California galvanized nobody with his call to expunge Democrats in their dotageThe Millennial Left Is Tired of Waiting,” intoned said writer. That magazine is packed with verbally incontinent Millennials, all poised to torch deviationists.

Mr. Nasty is gone, and Democratic voters are, so far, sticking with the safe bet: looks like the party that habitually denigrates white America is hoping that the next U.S. president is an old, white American. Are these hypocrites suggesting that there’s something confidence-inspiring about this much-maligned cohort?

The women on the stage, the lovely Tulsi Gabbard and the well-mannered Marianne Williamson excepted, alternated between the roles of shrew, scold and bully (of old, white men, naturally). Following Kamala Harris’ lead, the insufferable Kirsten Gillibrand mooed  about an old Biden op-ed in which he had warned that women entering the workforce would imperil the family. Who will write the chapter about women like Gillibrand who enter politics and imperil the nation?

For comedic relief, consider the choreography that must have gone into positioning the oddball candidates, striding onto the Fox Theater stage in Detroit. One could hardly place mini-man Pete Buttigieg—boy, has the military lowered its physical requirements—alongside candidates who’d stare down at tiny Pete from vertiginous heights.

Height, however, did nothing to increase a tall Democrat’s stature. The group’s pathological, self-immolating progressivism was the great leveler, although an unspoken pack hierarchy was certainly apparent among the candidates. Naturally, that pecking order was racial. The culturally more exotic candidates—Harris, Booker and Castro—were the undeclared top dogs. The commonplace, palefaced Democrats were the political underdogs, with less street cred. The first round of Democratic debates, aforementioned, saw the Spanish supremacists quickly separate themselves from the English-speaking plodders.

Indeed, disunity and discord were everywhere apparent in these Democratic duels. Separation is the operative word in Rome, and beyond, in the provinces. It’s Spanish vs. English; melody vs. maniacal ululation. I am referring here to the dissonant renditions of Christian hymns and patriotic songs.

If only symbolically, even the music spoke to the nation’s disunity. “America the Beautiful” and “Amazing Grace,” first, by Detroit’s Perfecting Church Choir, then, by Flint City Wide Choir, were jarring, atonal productions.One expects a melodic, musical rendition of a much-loved, shared oeuvre.

The over-crowded Democratic field rabbited on in unison about Trump’s racism and their own grand plans for state-run everything. Most significant were the contradictions. Bernie Sanders lamented that 500,000 Americans live on the streets, but saw no inconsistency in inviting the world’s poor to settle the same streets.

The same “quality” of contradiction came from Kamala Harris. In response to Tulsi Gabbard’s evisceration of her record as a fair prosecutor, Harris later told an adoring press gaggle that “people want public safety.” She was not going to shy away from her record in providing it. How does “public safety” jibe with Harris’s open-borders promiscuity? Oh, I forgot. Anyone marching 1000 miles to jump America’s southern border is, by definition, not a criminal, “reasoned” Bernie, below.

Prosecuting illegal aliens is “a crisis of cruelty”, alliterated Buttigieg. Decriminalize border crossing, bayed the rest. Illegal crossing should be a civil-law infraction, never a criminal violation. Immigrants are America, crowed Amy Klobuchar. Anyone who walks 1000 miles to the U.S. is no criminal, seconded Sanders. How can such an insane bunch of sell-outs talk about a “sane immigration policy”?

In a field distinguished by its ruthlessly radical mindset, one can understand how E-Warren—let’s jazz up the senator from Massachusetts a bit—has been described by TV’s activist anchors as strong and powerful. Compared to the other candidates and the sob stories they foisted on viewers—Michael Bennet tethered his family’s history to the Holocaust; Gillibrand squealed about her daughter’s EpiPen—E-Warren is The Man.

When E-Warren says to expand immigration, we listen. Especially when she bolsters her words with that signature muscular move of hers: make the hair flaps covering her ear tips quiver. Yes, E-Warren is The Man among the Democratic conga-line of cretins.

One thing is clear: while constituents have ranked immigration as a top issue for 2020, the Dems’ take on the issue was to speak to the need to pry the borders ever wider. Clearly, we have a sovereignty problem, not a humanitarian problem. We Americans have no representation.

In line with their political loyalties, every single one of the candidates practically sang from the one hymn sheet, a lot of it in Spanish: “We have to do more for families looking for a better life.” And they were not speaking of American families.

Duly, Julián Castro had memorized the name of a child and father who drowned attempting to break into the USA illegally and recklessly. If “drowning exposes the risks of illegal crossing” is a true statement—and it indubitably is—then every American murdered by an immigrant exposes the risks of mass immigration.

But of the sons and daughters of Angel Moms, Castro had no memory. If Mayor Castro can’t spare a thought for the many young Americans dead by illegal aliens, you ask, how about a word of sympathy for an American dog?

Spare a thought, will you, Mr. Castro, for poor little Estrella? She was a helpless mutt, raped to death by a constituent of yours, an illegal alien by the name of Fidel Lopez. What viewers and voters got from Castro amounted to drain and dry that Rio Grande! Level the land to ease the passage of Central America into North America. Let them come in their millions, no, in their billions. Decriminalize crossings. Disband ICE. Deify DACA. Deny no asylum claim. Table a marshal plan for Central America. Immigrants are Americans, only better and more inspiring. “We want more refugees”—so said the nogoodnik who runs my state, Washington.

John Hickenlooper chimed in by calling ICE agents kidnappers and child abusers. An Hispanic anchor, during the first round of debates, even bad-mouthed Obama’s proud record of 3 million deportations. “Migrant kids who do not have proper claims will be repatriated,” roared Barack Obama, back in the good old days.

All the above served only to cement the old white guy’s lead in the polls. Ordinary Democrats prefer the doddering Joe Biden to demonic females and their housetrained hombres. Certainly, only media is charmed by Ms. Harris, who is an insufferable scold, with an annoying nasal twang for a voice.

When all is said and done, not even Democrats wish to be governed by the likes of Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris, who rage as though permanently on the rag. However this circus ends, let’s hope that regular Democrats continue to be put off by the rude displays coming from the demented, intersectional, social-injustice succubae overcrowding the democratic primaries.

Kamala Harris

Ilana Mercer has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She is the author of Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011) & The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016). She’s on Twitter, Facebook & Gab. New on YouTube:“America Belongs To The World; It’s Everybody’s Home.


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Perfidious Albion

Perfidious Albion

The United States’ Entry into the First World War: the Role of British and German Diplomacy, Justin Quinn Olmstead, The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 2018, hb, 206 pp, reviewed by Leslie Jones

In 1914, the majority of Americans wanted to avoid US involvement in the European war. Indicatively, two thirds of 367 American newspaper editors surveyed by the Literary Digest supported neither side. But just as today, there was a gulf between the views of the eastern elite and those of the heartland. Concerning the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915, the Chicago Tribune commented that since Britain did not obey international law, why should Germany? In contrast, a recurrent theme of articles in the New York Herald and New York Times was that Germany was bent on world domination. British propagandists worked tirelessly to demonise the Kaiser-Reich. At times, Wilhelm II played into their hands, as when he urged troops, embarking for China to suppress the Boxer rebellion, to “…beat him [the enemy] …give no pardon and take no prisoners”.

Diplomacy and propaganda dovetailed in Britain’s efforts to draw the US into the war and of those of Germany to keep her out. For Germany, “the maintenance of American neutrality was key”. President Woodrow Wilson and his Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan were relatively untutored in foreign affairs and depended on the advice of Robert Lansing, Counselor of the US Department of State. Wilson’s inexperience in foreign affairs was compounded by depression, following the death of his wife Ellen in August 1914. Continue reading

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Something Missing in Propertius

John Flaxman, The Dancing Hours

Something Missing in Propertius 

 by Darrell Sutton

Readers can be perplexed by the arguments that textual critics employ when they emend the wording of ancient writers. Critics’ trains of thought are not easy to follow at times; but assiduity is needed in the correction of texts. Since text-critical criteria are not infallible standards, the pathways to truth are strewn with obstructions, requiring detailed studies of a text’s contexts in order to establish a text’s profile. Articles and books on how to perform text-critical procedures can be acquired, and reviewing one’s predecessors can show how they opened new ranges of thought and broadened investigations.

This essay is an analysis of some ‘missing’ words in a MS of an ancient Latin poem composed by Propertius (c.55BC-16BC). The dates of his birth and death remain insecure. No one doubts the perspicacity of Propertius. He was a great poetic stylist. His elegies are unique, well-nigh inimitable. His use of metaphor and simile, and his many allusions to Greco-Roman myth, fill the reader’s mind with symbolism. Some of his phrases form intricate webs of meaning like those found in Catullus’ poems.

The history of the text’s transmission is avoided in all that follows. But a rapid survey of the contents surrounding the missing verses is given before an examination of the textual issues of III.1.27 begins. Continue reading

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ENDNOTES, August 2019

Dr. Syn, Alias the Scarecrow (1963), credit IMDb

ENDNOTES, August 2019

In this edition: Pergolesi, A Neapolitan Stabat Mater; the film music of Gerard Schurmann, reviewed by Stuart Millson

From the extraordinary across-the-centuries choral archive that is the ICSM/CHRONOS record label, comes one of the most surprising and dazzlingly recorded projects of baroque music of the last ten years: a re-imagining of Pergolesi’s Holy Week homage, the Stabat Mater– but interspersed with fragments of the folk and popular music of the day – as if the church doors had been opened to allow the songs and sounds of the Neapolitan streets to fuse with the sacred music of the hallowed interior.

This vision and “curation” of organist and conductor Franck-Emmanuel Comte, directing the period ensemble, Le Concert de l’Hostel Dieu, combines hypnotic, meditative recitatives, such as Donna Isabelle, canzone and Miserere, her long, haunting lament as “Isabella, the harrowed one…” calling upon God to “have mercy on me… according to Thy great mercy” – with contrasting tarantella dances, percussive, skipping rhythms, fanned by the thrumming of stringed instruments, and a high-pitched street-musician’s whistle.

In the programme notes, Franck-Emmanuel Comte writes of his “timeless Italian journey”, as if the recording is more of an attempt to capture the essence, talk and song, flavours and day-to-day life of an ancient European city and culture, than any mere baroque or Pergolesi interpretation. Continue reading

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Obituary – Feliks Wegierski,

Feliks Wegierski, credit Toronto Star

Obituary – Feliks Wegierski

by Apolonja (Pola) Maria Kojder

Feliks Wegierski was born in Dzialdowo, in north-western, pre-war Poland, in 1923. He showed an early aptitude for sketching and drawing, and carved small wooden toys for his eight siblings (three brothers and five sisters).

During the Second World War, Feliks served as an artilleryman in the Polish Second Corps under British command, which fought in the Italian theatre-of-operations. He made numerous wartime drawings, which he was able to preserve for posterity and later publish in book form in 2008 (on the occasion of his 50th Wedding Anniversary).

He studied art at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Ravenna; architecture and sculpture at Cheltenham; and, later, furniture making and design in London, England (London County Council Central School of Arts and Crafts). One of his original furniture designs was exhibited at the Festival of Britain in 1951, an exposition which occurs once every hundred years. Continue reading

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Borders are Beautiful

Vasily Kandinsky, Painting with White Border

Borders are Beautiful

by Ilana Mercer 

In a previous post we posed the following question:

Do we still have a country, when every single passive, non-aggressive act taken to repel people crossing into our country is considered de facto illegal, or inhumane, or in violation of international and U.S. law, or in contravention of some hidden clause in the U.S. Constitution.”

Table a new law limiting trespass en masse, or attempt to enforce any of the many immigration laws already in the United States Code, and this is deemed by most in the ruling class to be problematic, if not diabolical.

Because Republicans in power seldom ever fulfill their obligation to enforce America’s existing tough immigration laws.  You mean you didn’t know there were immigration laws aplenty already on the books? My point exactly. No representative tells you about the laws that he or she has sworn to uphold, and hasn’t. Few representatives will fight to enforce these laws, or retaliate when judges routinely nullify immigration law. Continue reading

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Poland, in World War II

Poland, in World War II

by Mark Wegierski

During the more than seven decades following the end of World War II, an ongoing stream of disinformation from various quarters e.g., the former Soviet Union and left-wing British circles, has clouded the sterling record of Poland and the Poles during World War II. In a climate of increasing ignorance of the most basic historical facts and realities, it is important to remember the Polish role in World War II, on the 75th anniversary of the tragic Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and 80 years since the start of the war.


On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, invaded Poland, without warning or a formal declaration of war. Hitler’s publicly professed objective was “to get rid of that intolerable Polish Corridor.” The Polish government’s restrictions on the German population in the Corridor and in Danzig (Gdansk), had given Hitler a pretext for war. On August 31, Hitler’s SS-men staged a mock-attack on the German radio-station in Gleiwitz (Gliwice) — blaming it on the Polish army — in the hope that this would encourage France and Britain to renege on their treaty obligations to Poland. As it was, France and Britain put pressure on Poland to delay its general mobilization from August 31 to September 1, which probably resulted in something like 300,000 Polish troops never getting into action. Given the diplomatic context of the time, France and Britain might not have declared war on Germany at all, had Poland surrendered quickly to Nazi Germany, in the hope of more lenient treatment. Continue reading

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Do We Still Have a Country?

Do We Still Have a Country?

by Ilana Mercer

How do you know you don’t have a country?

Simply this:

Every single passive, non-aggressive act you take to repel people crossing your borders is considered de facto illegal, or inhumane, or in violation of international law, or in contravention of some hidden clause in the U.S. Constitution.

So say the experts and their newly minted jurisprudence.

You may tell a toddler, “You can’t go there.” But you may not tell an illegal trespasser, “Hey, turn back. You can’t come into the U.S. at whim.”

Please understand that not giving someone something they demand or desire is a negative act. Or, more accurately, an inaction. You are not actively doing anything to harm that person by denying them something.

Unless, of course, what you are denying them is their right to their life, their right to their liberty, their right to their property. Those are the only things you may not deny to innocent others. These interlopers do not have a right to, or a lien on, your liberty and property. Continue reading

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A Family Romance – review of L’Arlesiana

Federico (Samuel Sakker) and Vivetta (Fflur Wyn), photo by Ali Wright

A Family Romance – review of L’Arlesiana

Opera in three acts, music composed by Francesco Cilea, libretto by Leopoldo Marenco after Alphonse Daudet, new production by Investec Opera Holland Park, City of London Sinfonia and Opera Holland Park Chorus conducted by Dane Lam, directed by Oliver Platt, reviewed by Leslie Jones

Ignore what you may have heard about L’Arlesiana; that the libretto is uninspired and only merits a concert performance, such as that given recently by Deutsche Oper (see Rebecca Schmit, Classical Voice North America, March 19th 2018); or that only the famous aria Lamento di Federico, È la solita storia del pastore, is vaut le voyage. For as critic Tim Ashley remarked in his perceptive review of Holland Park’s 2003 production, “The whole is a lesson in how to make an opera that is by no means a masterpiece come vividly alive”.

Freud’s epoch-making The Interpretation of Dreams was published in 1899. In 1897, L’Arlesiana was premiered in the Teatro Lirico, Milan, with Enrico Caruso, no less, as Federico. There is synchronicity here. We have a mother, Rosa Mamai, who is obsessed with her first born son Federico and a son fixated on his mother. “Mother you will always be my greatest love”, Federico confides. Baldassare’s story of a wolf savaging a she-goat has a distinctly Freudian flavour. Continue reading

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