Comments for en-gb 30 Sat 07 Mar 2015 02:57:58 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at fikibloger it's working Tue 17 Jun 2008 09:20:05 GMT+1 RJMolesworth Chris@20Yes. Vote early! Vote often! Forget tinkering around the edges, England is the only country in the UK that doesn't have proportional representation for its national parliament. Ok, so it doesn't have one of those either, but you get the point. Westminster believes in PR for the provinces but not for itself and my wife has an 'O' Level in something that does not exist - The British Constitution.Lets face it countries like Turkey are more democratic. I don't want to have to wait until we are less democratic than Turkmenistan before we have a democratically elected parliament, a constitution and a modern bill of rights.What you have to remember about the founding fathers is that never before or since, in the history of the world, have so many great men been gathered together in one place and time. That is why the words are better than the substance today. Fri 23 May 2008 16:29:01 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti RJM @ 19, I think we ought to start with making sure that 'one person, one vote' is really what happens, and that the one person's vote is definitely cast for the person they intended to cast it for.Postal votes (and we don't even know how many of those were *issued* last time!) offer too much possibility of fraud, as does computerised voting with no confirmation of the vote to the person casting it and no way to re-count the results; and I find it slightly shocking that in at least one place (not British) the votes cast by servicemen and -women abroad fighting for their country seem to be left out of the count altogether sometimes, even when the margin of the victory is smaller than the number of those votes.'We hold these truths to be self-evident' is a terrific affirmation, but as a very great man once said, it would be even better if the great nation would arise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. Fri 23 May 2008 13:44:31 GMT+1 RJMolesworth Chris @18Very true Chris. Hence my comment about authority and democracy. A few just men once wrote:-"When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."We need to dissolve our political bonds and create a democracy with a constitution and a bill of rights. When authority comes from a majority of the people (not merely 34% of them) then we can accept it. As in the land of the free and the home of the brave, all will not then be perfect but it will be a step on the road. Fri 23 May 2008 08:37:43 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti RJM @ 17, isn't it true, though, that law without authority is futile. authority without law is dictatorship? Neither is of any use without the other. Thu 22 May 2008 20:37:35 GMT+1 RJMolesworth WR16You can accept that the validity of the concept of a legal authority and you can apply it to both war and peace. I can do neither. Authority and the law are entirely different, rarely in harmony and never in war.I didn't mention wars when I spoke of authority and mass destruction. Nor did I say that wars are inherently illegal. Wars are outside the concept of civilised society in which laws apply, however we pretend otherwise. War criminals are only brought to justice by the winners. Laws are only applied to wars retrospectively. Laws have traditionally protected the strong from the weak, the rich from the poor, white from black. Universal protection of the law is a very modern concept that is applied only in a few countries and with varying degrees of equality. Only the rich can sue for libel in Britain and only politicians can gain immunity from prosecution for their criminal acts. If authority comes from the people in a democracy, like Switzerland for example, that is one kind of authority. If it comes from a government elected by only 34% of the votes cast, that is another kind and so on down the scale.In other parts of the world it is accepted that the military should have the best equipment both to protect them and to destroy the enemy. A kind of health and safety philosophy - for them at least. The MOD does not agree. It thinks that any over priced, ineffective and under supplied equipment is good enough for our forces. The authority determines the health and safety philosophy that applies to them as much as, if not more so, than the commanders on the ground. Its a point of view and one man chose to say it with flowers. Wed 21 May 2008 14:06:44 GMT+1 Simon RJM;You do, indeed, misquote me.Troops are not cannon fodder (except perhaps the Guards ....). They are the vital part of the military. A CO will, as I said, want zero casualties. But he accepts that there will always be risks that he cannot mitigate. Being on a battlefield with rounds zipping around your ears isn't a healthy place to be. With the best intent in the world people are almost certain to get hurt or killed.Napoleon said that to be a good soldier it is necessary to love the army. But to be a good general it may be required of you that you order the death of the thing that you love. In any case your statement is wrong. The task of the CO is to achieve his objectives at the absolute minimum possible cost in lives. If he believes his task to be a suicide mission, or that the cost will be too high, then it is his duty to argue that point with his superiors in defence of the lives of his men.I disagree with you on the concept that war itself is inherently illegal. The concept of War may be insane, but is sometimes (only sometimes, mind you) justified. Who can doubt that the destruction of the Nazi power was correct? Or that preventing Japanese Imperialism in the whole of Asia was also right? (Incidentally bringing about the end of the British and Dutch Empires into the bargain, some may think that was also a good thing).Much depends upon your viewpoint. Mine is that the end of the murderous Saddam regime justifed that particular war. I could give two figs for any other justification. The result may not yet be perfect, but it's now heading in the right direction, so far as one can tell.I was referring, as you know, to *legal* authority. No legal authority has ever pronounced upon the validity of the current Iraq situation. So for a bunch of self-determined individuals to declare it to be illegal simply has no standing in law. Don't obfuscate the issue. If their declarations are valid then I can declare that I own the Palace of Westminster and expect others to simply accept what I say, because I say that it is so. Perhaps I could stake my claim to your own house and you would accept it?I do accept a certain measure of authority. It's called the Law and it provides for the protection of society from those who might wish it ill. The alternative is anarchy.Soldiers don't make war, politicians do. Soldiers end wars.You conflate wars with the slaughter of the 20th Century. People with authority certainly caused untold death and misery during that time. Stalin detroyed the Kulaks and collectivised the State under a Dictatorship, causing more deaths than WW2. Hitler slew millions in death camps, not only the Jews, but the Roma, homosexuals, 'defectives' and others. Pol Pot was responsible for the deaths in the Killing Fields. But none of these was a war measure.Deaths outside of war in the C20th far outweigh those directly involved in conflicts. They were usually the result of Totalitarian states enforcing their will on the unwilling population and slaughtering dissenters. It still goes on today in dozens of squalid ways, from China to North Korea to Zimbabwe. We do not appear to have overcome "that kind of thinking", nor will we whilst individuals lust for personal power.WR. Wed 21 May 2008 13:04:25 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti Everything I read or hear about members of the armed forces and their interaction with civilians makes it clear that they simply do not understand each other. This is not a criticism of either group, just my observation over several decades. Time and again, young men and women in the forces get asked why they do it and have no reply to give because they know perfectly well that their replies will not be understood; they fall back on cliches about 'sense of purpose' and 'discipline' and 'learning a trade' and so forth, but these mean something different from the same words used in a civilian context, and their hearers cannot (not 'will not', genuinely cannot) see them in the same way. The experience that each has in life is different enough for there to be a gulf of incomprehension that is impossible to bridge, though the immediate families of forces personnel try very hard to do so and may get some of the way towards it, and ex-forces people the same.This 'gulf' effect is true of any group of people doing something that is not the norm in society: people who collect memorabilia of any kind, science fiction fans who go to conventions, scuba-divers, all are unable to convey their reasons and feelings to those who are not part of their particular group. The difference is that while most people are perfectly happy to ignore those with four thousand china thimbles or someone who can place any Star Trek quotation on the spot or who 'do it underwater', everyone feels involved with and entitled to judge the armed forces, because everyone pays for them.The soldier does not dictate what war occurs, any more than the patchworker is responsible for the decisions about cloth-patterns made by the textile industry, but nobody in a pub will ever launch a diatribe against a patchworker about the ills of the Lancaster textile-workers; anyone in any pub up and down the country may have a go at anyone in the armed forces about the legality or otherwise of the war in Iraq. Both are probably equally unreasonable, but the soldier is forced into a defensive position and the patchworker is not. Wed 21 May 2008 12:14:37 GMT+1 David_McNickle WR 10, Careful, I got jumped all over for saying something similar about an interview with a jazz musician on PM on another thread. Wed 21 May 2008 09:03:41 GMT+1 RJMolesworth If you think that the "official" (there is that authority word again) war graves are apolitical in nature then you should read the history of the IWGC which became the CWGC. Fascinating and most definitely political. Wed 21 May 2008 08:27:24 GMT+1 RJMolesworth WR 10Well at least you cannot deny that Tony Smith got your attention as well as your goat. I will not misrepresent you by stating that your comments appear to reflect those of the WW1 Generals. Troops are cannon fodder. As a military man you will know that the first priority of an officer is to conserve his troops or he will not achieve his mission. Good equipment will substantially assist him in this task.We can agree that the legality of this war, or any war, is "unsubstantiated idiocy". The concept of legality of war is a farce. Guilty but insane can be the only verdict. What worries me most about your argument is that I detect an underlying acceptance of authority with phrases like "But for people without any authority" and "No body with such authority". People with authority caused the death of millions in the last century. I rather hoped we had overcome that kind of thinking in the 21st Century Wed 21 May 2008 08:04:38 GMT+1 eddiemair Chris (8), you won't have heard the piece on PM. The interview is a blog exclusive that you can hear by clicking Start. Oh and here is that missing L. Wed 21 May 2008 04:52:25 GMT+1 Simon RJM (7);No, they aren't. You have to be bold and self-confident to expose your thinking to public scutiny and potential ridicule.The pretentiousness comes when someone produces a piece of work of little genuine merit, backed by some spurious high-minded notion, and expects us to just swallow the entire load of twaddle. Gardens should demonstrate the beauty inherent in nature, floral and/or herbaceous, and show the skill of the designer in marrying elements into a harmonious whole that pleases the eye and the brain.This does not uplift me, stimulate me or delight me. So it doesn't fit the criteria. Sorry.I need hardly point out that Health & Safety laws only apply within the U.K., not abroad. Their application to the Armed Forces in pursuit of their mission is also severely circumscribed. It is the nature of the military mission that sometimes members of the Forces die or are maimed or injured in the course of their duty. I know, for I was once one such and these facts were made explicitly clear by the Master-at-Arms before I signed the Official Secrets Act less than a year after the Falklands War.A Commanding Officer considers all known facts when planning a mission. He will alter his plan to cope with new facts. He will hope for zero casualties, on both sides. But it is the nature of war that people sometimes die, even unnecessarily or from so-called friendly fire.H & S laws do not, and cannot, apply in this situation. Otherwise the CO would never plan, never engage, never deploy. The troops would be wrapped in cotton wool and confined to barracks, for fear of the consequences.I'm not especially sensitive about this war, you mistake me. Indeed I hold no liking for Blair or for this Government. But for people without any authority to assert this or that war is illegal, because it fits their view, holds no position in International or National law. No body with such authority has ever delivered a legally binding opinion that this war was illegal, so who is Tony Smith to continue to peddle this unsubstantiated idiocy?We do eulogise our war dead, and rightly so. They are remembered every day by their friends and families, deprived of a son, husband or father. Descendents honour their ancestors. Children are learning in increasing numbers about the battles of the World Wars and their schools take them to visit the memorials.I've personally visited graves and memorials in countries around the world, including Australia, Singapore, the Netherlands. I've spent much time especially on the Somme at Thiepval, Pozieres, Delville Wood, Mametz, the Newfoundland Memorial Park and Serre. Also the D-Day beaches, helping a close friend understand where his late father had landed the Canadian division on June 6th, followed by visits to Bayeux and Caen. There are no lessons that you can offer me in the power of a vist to those places.Having researched family history I return there again this autumn to help my SO's elderly parents understand part of their ancestors history, where their relatives are remembered.These official memorials and War graves are suitable for the purpose. They are apolitical in nature. The dead have no politics, nor should anyone politicise their death or their memory.For Smith to use this wretched 'memorial' in pursuit of demi-political aims, allied to spurious claims of war-illegality sullies the memory of the dead.WR. Tue 20 May 2008 16:59:01 GMT+1 David_McNickle CG 8,Maybe Charles Saatchi will buy it. Tue 20 May 2008 15:47:16 GMT+1 Chris Ghoti Not having heard the Tony Smith piece, I assumed this was probably a depiction of the corpse of an Iraqi civilian. That's what is usual, as far as I can tell. :-(Personally I wouldn't call a flowerbed display an 'installation', but I'm not sure what the chaps who put the bedding-plants in the middles of roundabouts call their works. Tue 20 May 2008 14:29:23 GMT+1 RJMolesworth WR @ 3Aren't all the exhibitors "pretentious fools" who put their ideas into a show garden. That's what garden designers do. Don't you have to be a fool to put your design up to be judged and criticised by every Tom, Dick and Harry.It was Nigel who was resposible for the pretentious English not Tony Smith. His is a "navel gazing obsession" with the health and safety laws and how our society applies one set of standards at home and another overseas. Many Prime Ministers have committed illegal acts; why are you so sensitive about this one. Five years, ten years, or a hundred years, history is still history and, as with all history, open to interpretation.As for "eulogising the loss of British soldiers in this fashion", did we not start to do that after the First World War and continue to do so today - in stone and flowers. In what way do the cemetries of the Commonwealth War Graves commision not "uplift" you? Go and see them. They uplift me, yes, and even brighten my day to make me realise someone cared enough to mark the loss of so many young lives.If there are fools in this piece I don't think one of them is Tony Smith. Tue 20 May 2008 13:45:22 GMT+1 mygloriousleader Who put that d in there? Tue 20 May 2008 13:28:46 GMT+1 mygloriousleader WR (3) An installation is and arrangement of items by someone claiming to be an artist but not with enough skill to draw, paint or sculpt ...bought by people who should really get up in the morning, take a long hard look in the mirror and say to themselves "I must use my money to do worthwhile things"...(i.e. There's still far too much poverty and pain in the world)When I was at infant school we used to call it collage.Wiki defines collage as "a work of formal art, primarily in the visual arts, made from an assemblage of different forms" Tue 20 May 2008 13:27:18 GMT+1 steelpulse "L" missing in Flower, Eddie but you are quite right. Shh indeed or someone may scare the top thoroughbreds of society! Wow!Tony Smith's offer to Chelsea is interesting but perhaps in appropriate? In my opinion anyway.George Harrison's life garden - okay but is Mister Smith's layout a protest? "What is that, mummy/daddy?" "A bloody corpse little John/Jill"No, Tony but what was it Alan and Joe said yesterday "A brave attempt" And roses not... are poppys out of season?I will check with Gordon Ramsay. I swear I will. Only way to get the guys attention. lol Tue 20 May 2008 12:52:58 GMT+1 Simon This was on BBC News Channel yesterday.I'm surprised at the ongoing obsession that this is an 'illegal' war. This view was given as a personal opinion of the former UN Secretary-General. It was never voted upon by either the Security Council or the General Assembly and holds no force in International Law.Legal/Illegal; what difference does it make *now*. This navel-gazing obsession with a 5-year-old informal opinion is daft and past its sell-by date. And eulogising the loss of British soldiers in this fashion makes no sense at all. Did he ask whether the families of the dead wanted this memorial to their loved ones? Whose opinion does he represent apart from his own?And aren't gardens supposed to be about beauty? Seeing this on TV yesterday just left me thinking 'What is the point of this'? In what way does it uplift me and brighten my day? It's a boring box with very little inside it, a piece of stone, some water and a handful of petals.What *IS* an 'installation' anyway, apart from lousy English? We hear about these all the time now in modern art, but what does it mean? Why isn't it an 'exhibit' or a 'display' or a 'stand'? An installation is what the plumber does to your gas boiler, isn't it?.Can someone please ask Nigel Wrench to be more critical and sceptical with these pretentious fools he interviews, rather than simply giving them an opportunity to present their work. Challenging them and their pseudo-high-minded notions or playing devils advocate might result in good journalism. What he does now amounts to a voice-over for a glorified commercial break. He's better than this, I'm sure, but it's time to prove it.WR. Tue 20 May 2008 12:35:51 GMT+1 eddiemair Sorry Stewart. Fixed it now! Tue 20 May 2008 11:54:25 GMT+1 Stewart_M Is this a "spot the difference" competition?If you take two pictures of the same thing and move just a little to the side when you take the second, then post them side by side (not one above the other). If you then try and do what you had to do with your eyes to see those 3D pictures back in the 90's, hey presto! 3D pictures of Chealsea's flowers Tue 20 May 2008 11:49:12 GMT+1