The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

11 April
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When he Entered Belsen Sgt Major Seekings Abused An SS Guard’s Human Rights By Punching Him In The Face….Good For Him!!

Reg Seekings 1920-1999

Reg Seekings 1920-1999

H/T for picture

John Randall is 94 but in April 1945 he was a young SAS officer operating forward reconnaissance in Germany. I challenge anyone to read his account of being the first Allied officer into Belsen without a shiver down the spine and a tear in the eye.

But there was one aspect of his story which gave me food for thought and it concerned Sgt Major Reg Seekings.

After 30 minutes alone in Belsen, Randall and his driver were joined by another SAS Jeep carrying the squadron commander, Major John Tonkin, and his squadron Sergeant-Major, Reg Seekings, an SAS veteran of North Africa, Sicily, Italy and France. ”Seekings was a very tough man,” Randall says. ”He had been with the regiment almost since it was formed and had been an army boxing champion when in the Guards.”

While the four of them were walking around the camp (along with the Camp Commandant Kramer) Reg Seekings saw an SS guard beating up a prisoner with his rifle butt

“Reg Seekings turned to John Tonkin, and asked permission to intervene and teach the guard a lesson.” This was granted without hesitation. ”So Reg went over and hit the guard in the face. He got up and was then knocked out by another punch to the head. Then Tonkin ordered Kramer and Grese into the guardroom, and said, “We are now in charge, not you, and any guard who attempts to treat a prisoner with brutality will be punished.”

Maybe it’s fortunate for Reg Seekings that he died in 1999. But even now a bunch of lawyers might still be trying to track down that SS guard or his descendants to get some compensation for the abuse of his human rights…..

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08 April
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Why Is The Telegraph Deliberately Insulting A Large Tranche Of Its Readers By Sneering At UKIP?

v sign

 

What is it with the Telegraph and UKIP? You would think that an anti EU, small government, low tax party standing firmly for stricter immigration controls yet free of the racist, corporate state baggage of the BNP would merit a certain degree of sympathy from a broadsheet that has always been the standard bearer of middle class conservative values. Yet over the last few months the resident political “pundits” have unleashed a constant stream of bile directed at the party in general and its leader, Nigel Farage, in particular.

Is it possible that there is a daily conference with Messrs Brogan, Wigmore, Kirkup, Hodges, Martin and Young in which they giggle like crazy as they encourage each other to deliver as much vitriol, innuendo and half truths about UKIP & Farage as possible? Surely that thought is just a flight of fancy…..surely….

Yesterday Iain Martin posted a piece on the storm battering David Cameron and Maria Miller, his Minister of Culture, over her expenses claims. A scandal the Tories need like a hole in the head, he claimed – and then proceeded to use it as a hook for an attack on UKIP.

After months of the DT over egging sundry UKIP “scandals” Martin feared that Farage might seek to capitalise on the Miller/Cameron affair. This is so unfair, said he, because UKIP scandals are ignored….UKIP is Teflon. Martin conveniently “forgets” that the so called UKIP “scandals” have been bigged up, in fact,  by the DT (via CCHQ?) in the face of UKIP’s post Eastleigh (and sustained) polling performance.

I wonder why?

Then James Kirkup (fresh from “proving” that Clegg actually “won” the EU debate with Farage) needing to fill up a column with a few hundred words but clearly suffering from Writer’s Block, decides he might as well follow the DT editorial line and sneer at Farage through the prism of “Game of Thrones”

So, just when you think the DT “pundits” cannot sink any lower in their systematic attempts to undermine UKIP – and those who either support him or, at the least, feel he has something significant to say – the bar is pushed further down and more drivel is spread around.

Memo to the DT pundits. UKIP is not just Nigel Farage….it has 34,000 members, of whom 20,000 have joined within the last two years or so. Astonishingly most Ukippers don’t slavishly agree with Farage over everything he does or says….we tend to be ornery souls with a fairly cynical view of human nature. But, as with Mrs Thatcher, we are more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt because he is going in the same direction as us

Would it be too much to ask of the DT pundits that we would appreciate a modicum of balance and some evidence that they have used some shoe leather and left Westminster/Notting Hill/Islington to actually talk with a range of UKIP members?

Once upon a time that would have been called “journalism”…..

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03 April
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Whatever Happened To Our Israeli Students Of ’68/’69?

From 1964 until 1972 I was a teacher at London’s leading Jewish state school, JFS Comprehensive. It was my first full time teaching post and the eight years I spent there, teaching history, were amongst the happiest of my career.

In July/August 1968 and again in 1969 my wife and I went with a group of colleagues and sixth formers from JFS (then in the London Borough of Camden) to Israel for six weeks to help Israeli students with their English and also to tour around the country….our JFS leader was Manny Klein, a very lively teaching colleague. It was soon after the Six Day War so we also visited the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza & Sinai and the Golan Heights.

Almost everyone in our party was Jewish but not my wife  or myself. Nevertheless we felt a great rapport with our Israeli students and our hosts at the settlement of Merkaz Shapira, about ten miles east of Ashkelon, particularly our guide, Chaim and Eli and Rachel Naaman who travelled with us on our tours

Our students were Ruth, Halea, Hania, Shula, and the two Rachels. There they are in the picture below. They were good company and keen to hone up their English skills. They knew that their generation would be leading Israel into maturity as a nation and had great pride in what had already been achieved. As the decades have passed I often wondered what had become of them through all the ups and downs of the ensuing years. They would, hopefully, be grandparents now – I wonder what tales they could tell….

Ruth. Halea, Hania, Rachel, ShulaBeryl, David, Rachel

 

R to L Top: Ruth, Halea, Hania, Rachel Bottom: Shula, Beryl, David, Rachel

 

As to our Israeli hosts -Chaim was a real character, bursting with energy, a brilliant guide who was desperate to show us every nook and cranny of Israel, always clutching his Zev Vilnay. Some of the teachers and students in our JFS group found him a little overwhelming but he burned with an infectious enthusiasm that struck a chord with my own love of history. He also, strangely enough, latched on to my own rather quirky sense of humour

Eli Naaman accompanied us on our week touring Gaza, Sinai, the Negev and the Dead Sea by lorry. He had collected an old Lee Enfield 303 from a police station “just in case” as we entered Gaza. I had fired a 303 at UK military ranges so we got chatting. When we returned to MS it was just before Shabbat and almost everyone in our party had arrangements to visit relatives or friends. Not being Jewish we were prepared for our own company when Eli invited us to spend Shabbat with his family which is how we got to know Rachel and her son. Their offer to share that time with a non Jewish couple was an act of great kindness and it was very moving to experience a Jewish Shabbat in Israel.

Merkaz Shapira - Chaim, our guide & mentor

 

Chaim

 

Merkaz Shapira - Rachel Naaman & son

 

Rachel Naaman and her son, with Beryl

And Merkaz Shapira?  When I compared my  photos with Google street view it was obvious that things had changed a lot. But then I realised that is what happens after virtually half a century. Where we live  in Sussex was all fields and copses, streams and narrow country roads fifty years ago ….all built up now…..time moves on even as memories seem crystal clear.

Apologies for the quality of the photos – it was fashionable in the sixties to convert negatives into slides. Unfortunately I cannot find the negatives so we converted the slides into jpegs. Colours are a bit washed out (it was only a cheap camera) and there are specks from the slides. However we do hope they convey something of the Israel of nearly half a century ago….

 

P S……I have been told that Chaim passed away several years ago and that Rachel Naaman is still living but her son Uzi, the boy in the picture was, sadly, killed in the Yom Kippur war……

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27 March
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That Farage/Clegg Debate – Media Pundits Caught With Their Trousers Down…

Animal - Woodland - Weasels, various

 

Probably the most significant outcome of the Farage/Clegg debate was not so much the verbal fencing of the discussion itself but the final piece of evidence proving, if any further proof were needed that, with regard to UKIP most of the media establishment is as out of touch with the views of the man and woman on the street as the political class which claims to represent them.

I’m not talking about the liberal/left ramparts of The Guardian or Daily Mirror – at least the bias in those quarters is so blatant that one can immediately discount much of their “reporting” or “comment”. But the barrage of sneering anti UKIP bile filling the pages of the Telegraph and Mail, both supposedly rightward leaning and Eurosceptic, has certainly puzzled many of us in UKIP.

Many have suggested that the Telegraph/Mail have merely been pimping Tory HQ propaganda as part of a campaign to buttress Cameron. Yet the Mail is often scathing about Dave so I cannot see the Tory HQ line as being the whole story.

My feeling is that, though “journalists” work for media outlets that have varying political stances, the bulk of them are all part of the London media “village” and intermingle professionally and socially not just with each other but with the political class. All of them see politics as a political game where the terms of the debate are exclusively set by the metropolitan elite and the role of the electorate is to be as passive as a TV audience, maybe cheering or booing on cue, but otherwise happy to leave decisions about the important issues to the “professionals” who know best.

What these people hate about UKIP is that it is a party of political outsiders with no connection to the metropolitan elite. No political “big beast” SDP type defections have brought the party into the dinner party conversations in North London. They hasten to characterise UKIP members, supporters and potential voters as simple minded, racist, ignorant etc but they have made no attempt to get to know UKIP members or treat their views seriously.

The result? They constantly get blindsided…

During and immediately after the debate, Westminster observers appeared to come down on the side of Clegg – or that both men had performed competently. Initially, Lib Dem cheerleaders apparently satisfied with the performance of their leader and several “gaffes” from Farage, who they pointed out appeared to denigrate the European car industry and claimed the EU had “blood on its hands” over Ukraine.

“The truth is it was a score draw,” said Andrew Mitchell, the senior Conservative backbencher and former chief whip.

However, the mood shifted to visible disappointment in the Clegg camp as the first opinion polls showed Farage was ahead by 57% to 36%.

Asked whether the loss mattered, one Lib Dem aide said philosophically: “In a snap poll, populist arguments may well win over. The real win tonight has been that we wanted this debate and talked directly to the voters.”

Let’s face it – the media hacks were all caught with their trousers down

Backstage, Westminster’s hack-pack was necking cheap vino and Pret sandwiches after carrying out a spectacular volte face. Initially ‘the spin room’ had called the duel for Clegg, on both style and substance. But, as news of the Sun/YouGov poll filtered through to the scribblers, headlines were rewritten and awkward tweets deleted. Soon, only the BBC was left flying the Clegg flag, with the help of Danny Alexander and Tim Farron.

The moral of the story? Simples… On every Mail snide anti UKIP piece, or Tim Stanley/Dan Hodges ill informed rant, or snooty dinner party Spectator put down keep on hammering the comments with the phrases that wind them up…..LibLabCon, Tory HQ agitprop, out-of-touch media luvvies….believe me those remarks really get under their collective skin.

The media expects to be courted. Until the age of the internet there was no other option if you wished to be heard. But today is different. Journalists are ranked with estate agents, car salesmen and pimps. They don’t need to be courted – when they lie and distort and misreport they need to be exposed and attacked from every angle.

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25 March
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Wow – The Daily Telegraph Really Getting Desperate About UKIP…

Wow….the jolly old Telegraph really has it in for UKIP today. Benedict Brogan, conveniently forgetting his prediction that Osborne’s budget would siphon off all those silvers from UKIP in the polls, has a piece about the forthcoming Clegg/Farage debate. The bottom line of the story, to be fair to BB, is that, although the budget went down well people still don’t trust Cameron over his EU referendum renegotiation “pledge”.  However either BB or the DT staff decided once again to illustrate the article with that sweaty pic of Farage next to the statesmanlike pose of Clegg.

Nice subliminal messaging  there, Mr Brogan…

Then there up pops Iain Martin declaring that Margaret Thatcher would not have liked UKIP because, at heart, she was at one with the Tory grassroots and would never have betrayed them by going with another party. Above all her politics was about power

Ukip, with its attempt to break the party system and its howling at the moon, would have held very little appeal.

The problem is, however, that Martin is talking about the Conservative Party of 30/40 years ago when the “Tory grassroots” really did exist. Not only is the 2014 Tory party at constituency level a shadow of its former self (like the Labour Party) a substantial proportion of the lower rank foot soldiers have either joined or sympathise with UKIP.

Brogan, Martin and all the other hacks at the DT are either unable or unwilling to grasp the fact that UKIP is now very different from what it was four or five years ago. It is no longer a collection of misfits and oddballs wearing tinfoil hats fielding paper candidates with very little doorstep presence. Many parts of the country now have active and lively local UKIP branches, there is a considerable party presence in local government in terms of councillors and, over the last year or so, UKIP has been polling a steady +10% pushing the Clegg LibDems into 4th place.

UKIP is in it for the long haul. Maybe we might get a seat or two in 2015 but even the most fervent kipper would see that as a bonus. No –  it’s the elections of 2020 and 2025 that are the targets. A Labour government in 2015 led by Miliband would rapidly lode support as its internal contradictions tore it apart. But a Cameron or post Cameron Tory opposition would lack any credibility after the Coalition’s lacklustre performance – and that would be UKIP’s opportunity to offer itself as a serious, viable and principled opposition to Labour that was untainted by any connection with the political establishment that has done so much to undermine our nation.

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21 March
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The Left Says People Are Stupid So Government Should Tell Then How to Spend Their Pension Pot

I have never been a great fan of George Osborne. Like Cameron he is comes from a background of extreme wealth, never really had a proper job and has the charisma of a roll of felt. I also cannot really forgive his omnishambles of a budget in 2012 when he deftly kicked the ball into his own net several times.

But I will give him credit for giving pensioners greater control of their own pension pot

The centrepiece of yesterday’s Budget was a plan to allow people to withdraw their pension pot as a cash lump sum instead of investing in a pension plan, which ministers claim will give people choice to spend their money how they wish.

Laughably an assortment of financial “experts” (you know, the ones who so failed to foresee the 2008 recession) and Labour politicians waxed lyrical about the dangers of allowing people to spend their savings how they want.

The BBC, which spends taxpayers money like a drunken sailor on steroids, naturally joined in the chorus of doom.

These people really do think they know what’s best for you and me – better than we do ourselves. They devote their lives to filching money from our pockets and purses in order to do us good – and their schemes almost always end up in failure. They do not know how to generate money – only how to spend other people’s money

Above all they think we are stupid and need to be told what to do.

Then they wonder why more and more people outside the media/political/cultural elite are turning to a party of outsiders like UKIP…..

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18 March
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That’s Enough Of Benn & Crow – Time To Dump Them Into The Dustbin Of History….

dustbin

The sycophantic twaddle being pumped out from all points of the political compass about Bob Crow and “Tony” Benn simply beggars belief. Fact is they were both disciples of  the writings of that old German charlatan Karl Marx – which is why, of course, the former student “revolutionaries at the BBC  went hyper over their deaths.

I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired of all the weeping and wailing.  It really is time for it to stop and for them both to be consigned to the dustbin of history where they both belong….

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10 March
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The Significance Of Cameron’s Nanny…..Most Brits Can’t Afford One

Good piece on the Tory/Lib Dem Nannygate fiasco and the backwash from Immigration Minister James Brokenshire’s recent speech

James Brokenshire, the new Conservative immigration minister, accused better-off families and big businesses of benefiting from the recent arrival of foreign workers in Britain. By contrast, “ordinary, hard-working people” have not felt the economic benefits of immigration, the minister said.

Much of the grumbling from the metropolitan elite and sharp elbowed business types about Brokenshire is evidence that the accusation hit home. But quote of the week must come from Tory Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough, a town straining to cope with an influx of 25,000 immigrants over the last ten years.

Mr Jackson backed the immigration minister. “James Brokenshire hit the nail on the head,” he said. “There’s a divide, with Tarquin and Jocasta on one side, in their 4×4, sipping lattes and enjoying having a cheap nanny and builder. On the other side are Mavis and Bert in Crewe, who see their children struggling to get a home and their grandchildren being crowded out of the local schools.”

Just think, without Farage and UKIP gaining traction over the last two years, this public conversation just would not be happening….

 

PS….notice how Labour is keeping very quiet….I wonder why?

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06 March
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That BBC Farage/Clegg Debate – If It’s Dimbleby Nigel Needs A Very Long Spoon…

quote-he-must-have-a-long-spoon-that-must-eat-with-the-devil-william-shakespeare-361098

Classic anti Farage tweaking via the Telegraph’s James Kirkup in a snarky piece about the forthcoming Farage/Clegg debates – Kirkup uses that pic of Farage perspiring during his UKIP conference speech alongside a standard stock photo of Clegg looking steady and serious…..par for the course, I suppose.

Young Kirkup claims that the format is nearing some sort of agreement

LBC, the radio station that hosts Mr Clegg’s weekly phone-in, will stage a debate expected to have fewer rules and restrictions than the BBC. The debate – also before a live audience – will be hosted by Nick Ferrari, a more combative broadcaster than Dimbleby, who is expected to allow more “lively” exchanges.

So far, so good….Ferrari won’t take any prisoners but, unlike anyone at the BBC (except maybe Andrew Neil) he does tend to resonate with white van drivers and their wives, a constituency that is not renowned for going starry eyed over beards and sandals.

But warning bells did start to ring in my head when I read about the TV debate

The two men will be given an hour to argue about the merits of Britain’s membership of the European Union, moderated by David Dimbleby.

Ah, Dimbleby, the Grand Panjandrum of BBC Question Time who inevitably intervenes when he feels a member of the BBCQT panel is simply not up to his own intellectual level. Pompous, smooth and trousering sackfuls of taxpayers’ money via the licence fee he is the epitome of BBC smugness, socially and culturally closer to Clegg than Farage. When you also hear that the audience will be carefully selected to demonstrate “balance” red lights should be flashing in the Farage camp because we just know the BBCQT definition of “balance” from week after week of handpicked rent-a-quote lefty androids who always seem to get chosen when Dimbleby’s eyes scour the audience for his “random” selection…..and isn’t it strange that they often seem to be allowed a few additional comments just in case the message didn’t get through.

During the 2008 and 2012 US Presidential elections the TV debates were organised and “moderated” by the big networks, all dominated by the same liberal/left viewpoint  as our own BBC. The Republican establishment is now coming under increasing pressure from the Tea Party movement to demand a less Democrat friendly structure to the 2016 debates.

I certainly hope that Farage and UKIP also box very cannily with the BBC. It is an organisation that is institutionally inimical to almost everything UKIP stands for.

When you sup with the Beeb you need a very long spoon…..

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04 March
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You Remember That Russian Officer Who Threatened Us In Budapest In 1956? Well He’s Back!!!

 

revolution-hungary-1956-soviet-invasion-illustrated-history-pictures-images-photos-020

He’s back –that strutting Russian officer, with his bullying sidekicks, last seen in Budapest in 1956, is now in Ukraine and doing exactly the same. Of course, as in Hungary, he would claim that he has been “invited” in to defend the country against Fascist mobs but it’s all lies. He’s there because Ukrainians have dared to aspire to glance westward rather than remain a supplicant of Moscow.

In 1956 realpolitik dictated that we stood by as the Russian tanks moved into Hungary to crush the uprising – but we did have the good grace to weep for those brave freedom fighters as they were imprisoned and tortured and executed by the grim legions of Soviet terror. Indeed, throughout the west those tears were followed by a sense of shame and guilt that we just watched as they drowned.

But in 2014 there are few tears and little, if any, sense of shame. The liberal left is mute, as always in the face of Russian aggression, incensed, no doubt that the Ukrainian protestors should dare to go around toppling statues of Lenin. But what is far worse is the attitude on the right. “Russian sphere of interest” is the current weasel phrase. Until a couple of decades ago Ukraine had been a colony of the Russian Empire for centuries, we hear from many “conservatives”, so what else should they expect if they annoy Moscow. It’s like getting an axe buried in your head in the East End in 1960 because you had a few beers too many and started badmouthing the Krays – you deserved it because you were STUPID….

Or, if “armed men” are swaggering around Crimea pulling down Ukrainian flags well isn’t that the same as what happened in Kiev?

Actually – no. Power didn’t shift in Kiev because the demonstrators, armed to the teeth with assault weapons, stormed into parliament and arrested President Viktor Yanukovych and his ministers. There was violence and there were bullets and scores of people killed and wounded. But the shootings were ordered by Yanukovych and the violence instigated by his security apparatus – and when the bullets failed to intimidate the crowds his authority just melted away just as it did in Petrograd in 1917 and Tehran in 1979. The government disintegrated and the police disappeared from the streets.

There was no putsch – just a power vacuum that the anti Yanukovych elements began to fill.

Still the myth of an armed insurrection has grown legs, conveniently reinforced by the Russians with references to gangsters, neo Nazis and anti-Semites. Standard agitprop in the best soviet mould, naturally and total bullshit. But the essence of the tragedy is not Putin’s lies – as a former KGB hack it came with his mother’s milk.

The most shocking aspect of the whole affair is how so many on the right are gloating over Putin’s actions. He has become, with his anti gay and anti Islamic rhetoric the antithesis to the gelded softness of the western elite. He rides a horse, Obama rides a golf cart. He hunts animals, Cameron strokes them. He vows vengeance against Islamic terrorists, the BBC worries about Islamophobia.

Our emasculated, feminised and over sentimental me-me-me society makes many of us uneasy. But a corrupt self serving regime led by a posturing bully like Putin who feeds on grievance is no substitute for the rule of law.

Realpolitik once again demands that there is little we can do to protect Ukraine from Putin’s bullying. But for crying out loud don’t bolster the man’s ego by gleefully supporting Russia’s right to strut imperiously into anywhere that once fell under the writ of tsar or commissar.

You would have thought that we had learned that lesson with that other gangster in in 1938.

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