Predictably our unpatriotic media has obsessed itself with attacking the Royal Family and bashing HRH Prince Harry. Equally predictably the unpatriotic Coalition Government let it happen on their watch and has done nothing about it, nor will they. I did not fall off out of my chair when it was reported yesterday (24th August) that Rupert Murdoch had personally sanctioned the Sun's disgraceful action in publishing the photos.
As with all compromising piccies the really interesting questions are:
(1) who took them, and
(2) why were they allowed to?
Never mind Prince Harry, the persons who really need exposing are the photographers. Who were they, what was their motive, have they been paid and if so, how much and by whom?
I am against hammering junior police officers for conduct sanctioned by their superiors. Someone, somewhere, in the Met, must have OK'd the decision to let the photographers into the suite and permit them to take photographs. Whether he OK'd these decisions or not the Commissioner is going to have to take responsibility and resign. If his defence is that someone at the Cabinet Office ordered him to stand down the Prince's security then he is going to have to identify that person.
There have been far too many royal protection scandals over the years. The Met clearly can no longer be trusted to protect the Royal Family. The answer is to give the job to the Services, whose loyalty can be counted upon. Police officers could be added when in the UK.
It's not just a question of inadequate protection. Louise Mensch, the very silly MP for Corby, with respect, who has sensibly resigned, hammered the final nail into the coffin of the current financing arrangements for the Royals, yesterday, on the Today programme. In effect she was treating Prince Harry as an employee of the state, not third in line to be its Head.
As I have long called for, we are going to have to stop this nonsense of having the Queen subsidise Her Exchequer. The income from the Crown Estate, worth far more than the measly sums the Treasury hands over, should be restored to the Crown, free of course from income tax. The Royal Palaces should also belong to the Queen, as opposed to the government. These reforms would give the Monarch a measure of independence. Having serious security would also prevent the Cabinet Office applying pressure by threatening to withdraw protection, or providing protection which is grossly inadequate. Protection has already been withdrawn from some members of the Royal Family, an utterly scandalous state of affairs.
The Firearms Act does not apply to the Queen, but technically prevents other members of the Royal Family carrying weapons without a licence. That too should stop. A one-line amendment would remove the Royal Family from the restrictions imposed by the Act.
As for Murdoch, he with respect is out of control. I am sure someone in the Tory Party will have marked his card.
I respectfully agree with the decision of the Norwegian court that Brievik is not insane. The intelligence available to me suggests that he is a DVD asset. It is a great pity that he was not sentenced to death, which I think is technically allowable, still, in Norway. He could not be heard to complain about a death sentence.
The trial itself, whilst dignified, was something of a farce, given that the other shooters were not joined as co-defendants. The prosecution also agreed with Breivik's description of himself as a Christian and a right-winger. He is neither, and has no known association with any church or right-wing group in Norway.
Follow-up to the Pietersen Affair
The England and Wales Cricket Board heaped outrage upon outrage when they omitted KP from the England team for the World T20 competition (this is a short form of cricket, modelled on baseball, which is fun but has got hopelessly out of control, to the point where it is now inflicting serious damage on the game). South Africa, India and Australia cannot handle Pietersen, who has smacked their bowlers all round the field. Why on earth should other countries be able to dictate the selection of the England team?
The idea that you cannot play for England if you were not born or brought up here is absurd. One of England's greatest post-war players, Colin Cowdrey, whom I had the pleasure of meeting once, was born in India. Is it seriously being suggested that England should not have picked Devon Malcolm, or Philip de Freitas, or Basil D'Oliveira?
What the ECB are really saying that is we can pick players born or brought up overseas providing they are useless, and if they start scoring runs or taking wickets, or even worse, both, we have to sack them. It's a joke. The ECB have shamed themselves over this and should be abolished. This would get around the problem of how to sack Giles Clarke or Hugh Morris. No need to sack them - just take their jobs away. The MCC should resume Test selection, for home and overseas Tests. As a Member said to me at Lords last week, the MCC Committee might have fined KP his match fee, and left it at that. They have far more sense than the ECB. The ECB have also made a mess of domestic scheduling, which could go back to the old Board of Control.
It is increasingly clear that the texts were a pretext, as it were. It looks to me as though the decision to drive out KP was made in the spring, probably triggered by the hammering KP gave the Indians last season.
The Republican Convention
Brooks Newmark MP is a nice chap, but terribly wet. I am sorry he has attacked our sister conservative party, the Republicans, in advance of the great gathering this week at Tampa. The reality is that Republican and Tory activists tend to think alike. It is only Coalition-supporting MP's like Brooks who tend to have a problem with the Tea Party, who are awfully nice people, and terribly sensible on the whole.