Ed Lines – July 27, 2018

Ed Lines – July 27, 2018

British politicians will be naturally nervous about asking we members of the great unwashed what we think in future.

The Brexit referendum was as rigged as rigged can get – for a moderately ‘honest’ democracy like the UK – and still the establishment got poked in the eye.

Theresa May promptly assumed the country would give her a renewed mandate and throw Jeremy Corbyn in the Thames – but pow, Britain’s admirably single-minded sods flipped her the finger too.

But one question our political masters won’t put to us, and which for years was the only subject people wanted a referendum on, is the return of capital punishment.

Why? Because they know the answer and they haven’t the stomach for it.

I’m torn on the subject, mainly because these days people could be forgiven for not trusting a British policeman to help their gran across the road.

An unfairly sweeping generalisation of our downtrodden bobbies? You bet it is. And it’s a terrible shame that  honest, conscientious cops are so tarred by the idea.

Unfortunately with the Metropolitan Police’s very own corruption unit being investigated for corruption, and scores of convictions being overturned because the Crown Prosecution Service is bent – sorry, ‘withheld evidence’ (same thing) – never has the argument been more powerful about the dangers of capital punishment.

You can release and compensate a man unfairly jailed for murder. A swinging rope rather brings an abrupt end to any debate.

So, no death penalty in the UK ever again, but it isn’t stopping our usual soft-headed sweethearts from displays of hand-wringing anguish as they plead for the human rights of El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey, two of the ISIS group known familiarly as the Jihadi Beatles.

I’ve no idea why that nickname stuck (although in fairness Ringo could murder a decent tune) but it rather belittles the gravity of these creatures’ offences – sawing off innocent men’s heads in front of a camera.

Let’s have a quick hands-up, shall we? How many of you would lose a minute’s sleep at the idea of Elsheikh and Kotey being strapped into an electric chair?

There will be some, I’m sure. But I would venture that in Roman emperor style, the thumbs would be overwhelmingly down. Flip that switch. Heck, there’d be plenty of volunteers to do it.

Now, we’re not arguing for Britain to bring back the death penalty here. These monsters are not ours to worry about. They renounced the UK and declared themselves citizens of the Islamic State, gleefully committed unthinkably barbaric acts in its name, and they are not headed for the Old Bailey, but a US courtroom.

I quite understand why our government would ask for assurances about death penalties from foreign states when deporting prisoners we hold. I might not agree, but I understand.

But when the murderers are in a Syrian jail and the next stop is the USA, why are we getting all hot and bothered about it? 

We should just butt out and mind our own business – oh, and if there’s a whip round for the electric meter, I’m happy to chip in.

IMAGINE a gang of white youths carrying out a reign of terror on a mosque, abusing, harrassing and attacking the building and its worshippers.

Actually you can’t, because it would only happen once. The police would arrive gang handed in minutes and come down like a ton of bricks. There would be warnings about far-right thugs, politicians falling out of trees to condemn it and quite possibly a rush of TV cameras too.

So why did absolutely none of that happen over the last two weeks when there were indeed such abuses of a new mosque in Staincliffe? We haven’t heard a dickie bird about it from the police. Why would that be?

There’s no mystery. It’s because the attackers were not white but local Muslims themselves, rather put out by the audacity of the local Ahmadiyyan Muslim community in opening their first mosque. Ahmadis promote peace and love between different faiths while – whatever spin you might get told when it’s convenient – traditional Sunni Islam recognises none but itself.

While the rest of us might just be kuffar (unbelievers) Ahmadis are considered apostates, whose beliefs actively defame the Prophet Muhammad. And they take that pretty seriously.

That is why, as admirable and successful as Kumon Y’all’s interfaith community soccer festival at Savile Town was last week, I doubt there was an Ahmadiyyan team invited.

There was a West Yorkshire police team playing though. They even won it. Not that I’m suggesting the cops would pick sides in such a delicate matter of course. Heaven forfend...

CHAOS at the ports. Empty shelves at the shops. British flights having to take detours around Ireland. Good grief, the next thing you know the snowflakes will be blaming this rather nice warm spell on Brexit.

You know me, I’d rather make the case that once we leave, every summer will be this idyllic – but if they’re not, I fancy the Spanish, Portuguese, Greeks and Italians can still be relied upon to accept our holiday money. Even the French.

But I do rather get all hot under the collar about Project Fear II.

Just a quick reminder, folks. Like the Millennium Bug inevitably causing jets to plummet from the skies (not), June 24 2016 didn’t see the FTSE 100 wiped out, cause sterling to crash, put a million people out of work, let alone bring the much-promised end of the world.

A friend runs the European division of an American financial services company. He almost fell out with me over my support for Brexit. On June 23 he looked desperate, on the 24th, the poor bloke was suicidal.

He’s been seconded to the US but was back last week briefly, looking relaxed and happy.

“Brexit,” I asked. “How’s it all panned out Nick?”

“Don’t know what all the fuss was about,” he said. “Business finds a way to go on, and business is good. No worries.”

No worries indeed. 

ANOTHER week, another fallen soldier.

Mind you, I’m not sure Billy Mann – pictured in typically understated garb – would ever have made much of an infantryman. If he’d been a Dad’s Army character, Billy would have been the rogue wide boy, Pte Walker, the bane of Capt Mainwaring’s life.

There was never a deal Billy could resist, a wild idea he couldn’t bring to life. Back in the 70s and 80s when Dewsbury had a nightlife to put Leeds and Wakefield to shame, Billy was at its epicentre. I just about remember Caesar’s Tavern, before it became La Pache and then Manners, while ‘upstairs’ was Ma Peel’s, later to become American Express. I suspect the hedonism endured even as the names changed. No, I know it did.

It was working as his resident DJ at Manners in 1986/87 that I got to know Billy best with another late legend, Dennis Trotter, as club manager.

Boy, if walls could talk ... but anyway. I don’t know how we all kept straight faces when he commissioned a specially made carpet, dark green with the gold ‘M’ of Manners woven into it. Except the carpet layers put it down ‘against the grain’, ie, the direction in which you entered the club. It meant it looked like a ‘W’, as if it had been nicked from the local Wigfall’s appliance store.

I wasn’t much of a disc jockey in truth, but would like to offer a belated mitigation. The gaffer, Billy, limited my record purchasing to just two singles a week (they were about 50p a record back then) and wasn’t keen on me bringing my own discs in. I make no wonder the bloke was minted.

Still, I’m not sure that excuses my regular choice of last song of the night – Matt Monro’s Born Free. Hey, I was only doing my best to make sure punters didn’t head off into the early hours feeling too frisky…

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