The Great Debate UK

Party political policing

–Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.–

I hope I am proved wrong, but I am afraid that the decision to introduce elected police commissioners will turn out in the long term to be the most damaging of all the stupid things this incompetent Government is doing. It is a fear that has been reinforced by the leaflet shoved through my door on the eve of the election. At the top, it has a bright red band reading “From…., your Labour Police and Crime Commissioner candidate” and a matching red ribbon at the bottom says “Vote Labour Thursday 15th November”.

To add insult to injury, the back page has a large headline: “I will keep politics out of policing” with a few lines about the wonderful things the clown in question will do, followed by a short piece under a headline that reads “Unfair Tory cuts mean…”.

For over a century, there has been agreement on the need to do everything possible to keep politics out of policing and, while there have been many cases when the police have proved incompetent, negligent, even corrupt, for the most part they have remained above politics. To insulate them totally is impossible, but the current arrangements can at least be said not to encourage politicisation.

from Felix Salmon:

How to get $12 billion of gold to Venezuela

Ever since the news broke last week that Hugo Chávez wanted to transport 211 tons of physical gold from Europe to Caracas, I've been wondering how on earth he possibly intends to do such a thing.

There are 99 tons already being held at the Bank of England; according to the FT, the plan is to transfer other gold to the Bank of England from custodians such as Barclays, HSBC, and Standard Chartered; then, once it's all in one place, um, well, nobody has a clue what might happen. Here's the best guess from the FT:

from Global News Journal:

Germany’s ‘Pirate Party’ hopes for election surprise

Founded by computer geeks in Sweden in 2006 and now active in 33 countries, the Pirate Party is hoping to win over young, disaffected voters in Germany's federal election on Sept. 27 with demands to reform copyright and patent laws along with their policies that oppose internet censorship and surveillance. But do the single-issue activists, with no stance on foreign policy or the economy, even have the faintest hope of overcoming the five percent hurdle needed to enter parliament?

This looks unlikely given the 0.9 percent of the vote they won at the European parliamentary elections in June.  Nonethless, the Piratenpartei with more than 8,000 members is the fastest growing party in Germany, a development partly sparked by the German parliament's ratification of controversial legislation on blocking certain websites in a bid to fight child pornography.

from FaithWorld:

Has U.S. abortion language created climate of violence?

The murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller has been condemned by prominent groups and activists on both sides of this divisive and emotive issue.


But the language used by some opponents of abortion rights who reviled Tiller for his work providing late-term abortions remained very strong.

from UK News:

Raising the price of alcohol

Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson has recommended that the government should sharply raise the price of alcohol  to try to combat Britain's chronic drinking problem.

His annual report calls for a minimum price of 50 pence per unit of alcohol sold, which would nearly double the price of some discount beer and wine. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have also shown interest in minimum pricing.