Monday, 28 December 2009


In a judgement so utterly out of touch with either public opinion or expectation, that it can only be a matter of time before the judge is offered a job by Kenny MacAskill, Mr Munir Hussain has been jailed for two and a half years for assaulting a burglar with a cricket bat.

Mr Hussain and his family were tied up and beaten by three knife wielding thugs. He and his brother escaped and beat up one of the robbers (who had more than 50 previous convictions). The robber received a 'supervision order'.

Politicians have expressed 'disquiet' over the case and the tories have been lambasted by the liberal left for promising to review the law where householders defend their property.

I can see the point of those who are concerned that allowing greater use of force for the public to defend against 'home invasions'. The argument being that this could lead to an escalation of violence on the part of burglars. However, burglars are invariably 'tooled up' in some way in order to break into a property in the first place, so it's an argument I don't think holds too much water.

Personally, I think it is entirely appropriate for a person defend themselves, their family and their property when someone breaks in and threatens them with violence.

I'm not sure however, that the law really appreciates or defines 'reasonable force'in these situations. In the cold light of day in the courtroom, I suspect it is incredibly difficult to express the full horror of such an event, or to articulate a persons reaction to it.

This concerns me considerably. We have all heard of the 'fight or flight' mechanism that the body uses in times of danger, but fewer people have heard of the 'adrenaline dump' that accompanies it (bear with me on this).

The adrenaline dump has several effects, the heart and breathing rates increase, the blood flows towards the major organs and the body can start to tremble.

The person develops 'tunnel vision' as they focus on the threat and hearing is impaired, sometimes to the point of being totally deaf, and events appear to occur in slow motion. Fine motor functions are lost (putting a key in a lock for example could well nigh be impossible for some) and gross motor functions become enhanced.

So where am I going with this? Well, the body also becomes temporarily dulled to pain, and crucially, self control can pretty much go out the window meaning that a person can be extremely aggressive in their response to a situation as they lose their 'self awareness'.

It is an extremely disorientating experience if you are not used to/aware of it. I have only experienced it once to a great degree, around 20 years ago, and it is difficult, if not impossible to actually describe the full effect of it, or the feeling of confusion that follows it.

Effectively, a person defending themselves, their family and home, might well commit acts of violence that they would not otherwise think themselves capable of.

So is this taken into account when cases such as Mr Hussain's are dealt with? I'd hope so, but I doubt it. If the law is changed as the tories propose (although this would not affect Scotland), then it is important to acknowledge that where a person is acting in self defence, the level of violence used might not be considered by some to be reasonable, but it might also not be entirely the defenders fault.

At the end of the day, who is the criminal, the person seeking to protect him or herself, or the person who has broken into their home to harm them and steal their possessions?

Thursday, 3 December 2009

An Open Letter to Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP

Dear Ms Somerville MSP,

Recently, the Scottish Conservatives used their debating time to oppose the minimum pricing of alcohol in the Scottish Parliament.

I listened to the debate with interest and I picked up at the mention of my name when you said the following:

"Even some Tories have seen the light, from Boris Johnson—it is not often that I quote him in a speech—to Councillor Jim Millar, chairman of the Angus licensing board, who recently said:

"I was amazed at how much alcohol ten pounds bought. This is the type of drink that seems to be favoured by underage drinkers which is a contributory factor in the anti social behaviour that is making the lives of so many people a misery."

He went on to say:

"The main cause of complaints to us as councillors continues to be young people indulging in anti social behaviour which is invariably fuelled by alcohol that can be bought for next to nothing. This is a situation that has to be brought under control".

I could not agree more with Councillor Millar on that."

Whilst I am flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Boris Johnson, and with reference to your last remark, it’s always nice to encounter a fan, I must say that to take something I have said completely out of context and infer that it shows support for your own position is either charmingly naive or disturbingly disingenuous. Personally, I’d opt for the latter.

I have clearly stated my opposition to your Government’s minimum pricing policy on more occasions than I care to recall. Here are two pertinent examples:

“I don't believe it is prices or age limits that need to be raised. I think it is our awareness of alcohol and its effects that needs to raised and our attitude towards it that needs changed. There is no quick solution, and certainly no simple one.”

“Personally, I'm concerned that the extra cost of buying drink will be taken from other household budgets. In the case of those with modest incomes, most likely food or heating.”

You will appreciate I’m sure, if you were not aware already, that I do not, in any way support your Government’s proposals on this, and a wide variety of other matters, and I would be grateful if you refrained from misrepresenting my views in future.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Jim Millar

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

And so it continues.......

It has been a turbulent couple of weeks on the blogosphere with the demise of two SNP blogs. Throw in the fact that online comments have been banned on any article by a well known journalist, and now some cybernat commentators have suggested that the Education Secretary was sacked because a conspiracy by non snp councils have colluded to sacrifice the education of young people, in order to show the Scottish Government in a bad light.

Today, Lord Foulkes made comments which resulted in this press release from the SNP:



The SNP are challenging Iain Gray to order George Foulkes to apologise after comparing Scotland’s First Minister to “Il Duce” – otherwise known as Mussolini.

Lord Foulkes made the tasteless remark in a meeting of the Parliament’s Audit Committee discussing the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games saying: "And I take it Il Duce - I mean the First Minister - will be going."

SNP MSP Linda Fabiani, who has been honoured by the Italian Government for her work promoting Italy overseas, condemned Lord Foulkes’ remark and called for an apology.
Ms Fabiani said:

“Lord Foulkes may be a figure of fun who regularly embarrasses the Labour Party, but he has overstepped the line with this very silly and tasteless remark.

“As someone of Italian origin, I am appalled that a member of Scotland’s Parliament thinks that is an acceptable way to behave.

“Lord Foulkes owes the First Minister, the Committee and the Parliament an apology.
" And if he won’t apologise, Iain Gray must order him to. These remarks are a disgrace.
"Lord Foulkes has long been the SNP's best recruiting sergeant, as people turn away from the kind of Labour Party and negative politics he represents. No wonder the SNP are ahead in the polls for both Westminster and Holyrood.”

Inadvertantly, it would seem, one SNP staffer circulated the above to all MSP's staff with this addition:

Talking about Il Duce, it reminds me - The No Berlusconi Day is taking place on Saturday at 1pm outside the Italian Consulate, Melville Street. The event is being held in over 50 cities across the globe and hundreds across Italy.

If you're up for a good protest, Italian style, then come along - no Italian origins required! (just dont wear a black shirt).


I sent my apologies, stating that despite having Italian relatives myself, I was unable to attend........