The attack on Britain’s parliament

I am profoundly saddened, as is everyone we know, by the lone wolf attack on Britain’s parliament by an individual who must presumably be an ISIS / Daesh sympathiser.

What makes a man commit an atrocity of this kind in which innocent civilians are killed? Any attack that deliberately targets civilians is morally repugnant in the eyes of humanity at large, and is to be presumed utterly reprehensible in the eyes of any God the attacker may or may not believe in.

The worst of it is that any atrocity is by definition one of the worst crimes conceivable because atrocity breeds atrocity as retribution breeds retribution and a cycle of violence is spawned.

Forgiveness is difficult; moreso for some of us when we suppress our natural reaction to those that target the innocent. And in this instance a number of the injured were children. And the natural reaction of at least some of us is to wish any such attacker may burn in hell.

However there is a place beyond forgiving – for some acts can never be forgiven except by the righteous and there are precious few of those in this world. But there is a place beyond forgiving in which we show compassion, mercy and love to our enemies and their victims alike.

The enemies of humanity (whether Daesh / ISIS, or Al Qa’idah, or indeed any who deliberately target non-combatants of any kind) expect and deserve our outrage. Indeed they often act as they do in order to provoke our hatred.

We defeat them best, and their entire ideology of exclusivity, when we find it in our hearts to offer them our pity, and face down their self-consuming hatred with our own ideology of inclusivity, compassionate mercy, and love.

God will judge them, we should not. Nor should we allow extremists the satisfaction that their actions may have in some way instilled in us any sense of fear in regard to tomorrow. We have no need to worry about tomorrow. God is already there.

This Badger Cull has to be Wrong

A petition has been put before parliament, and with more than 108,000 signatures it will be debated in the House of Commons on 27th March. This is a major achievement. The wording of the petition is as follows:

End the badger cull instead of expanding to new areas

Since 2013, thousands of badgers have been killed in a Government cull attempting to control bovine TB. Against scientific advice & before a 4 year trial has completed, the government is now expanding the cull to new counties – tens of thousands of healthy badgers could be killed. Experts in disease control and animal welfare agree that pilot badger culls have proven both ineffective and inhumane. Shooting badgers is also expensive, costing tax-payers some £5,000 per animal. Bovine TB is a serious problem but killing badgers is not the solution, and could actually make the situation worse. It is a costly distraction from an effective solution incorporating vaccination, increased cattle movement control measures and improved testing.

Towards a New Europe – Event in Plymouth

I spoke in Plymouth on Brexit and migration, along with two or three other interesting people. The meeting was chaired by Tam Fowles of Hope in the Heart, a group based both in Plymouth and Penzance. Below is a youtube link for a video of an interview Tam and I did for my weekly broadcasts to the Middle East. It is relevant. Full details of the interesting press statement after the Plymouth meeting are below.

Participants in an event held in Plymouth this week titled, “Towards a New Europe – Migration and Hope in a Post-Brexit World”, held differing views as to the reasons people had voted Brexit. Some complained of the lack of idealism in the Remain campaign, which focussed too heavily on economic issues, others just wanted to punish the establishment for being out of touch. Reasons for voting “Remain” ranged from a lack of trust in the government to handle “Brexit” should it happen, to an idealistic hope that we would “stay together”.

Speakers included independent Police and Crime Commissioner candidate William Morris, who talked of the need to be inclusive and work towards a world without frontiers, whilst at the same time confessing his sympathy with the Brexit position because the South West’s key fishing ports, Penzance and Brixham, had been severely affected by the EU’s Common Fisheries policy that had resulted in the decimation of the UK’s fisheries fleet.

The meeting was addressed by Amina Khalid of the Somali Initiative for Democracy and Dialogue, who in turn emphasised the need for more tolerance for refugees and spoke of her own harsh experience of bullying at school when she first arrived in the UK.

Tam Fowles of the Plymouth based “Hope in the Heart” group chaired the event and asked participants to identify their hope for a post-Brexit Britain. The response from those present was to aspire to a world in which there was greater “human goodness” and better understanding between the generations, more tolerance and inclusivity, and a more relevant education system that empowered the young.

The meeting was held under the auspices of Initiatives of Change, a group espousing an ideology of compassion and honesty, the objective being that this meeting act as a model for a series of meetings to identify ways forward in a post Brexit world and actions that could encourage greater political harmony on the issue.

The youngest speakers to address the meeting were Majd Twijeri and Polly Hanford of the Mid East facebook based Sufi social media group, Al Khawatir (Reflections). They stressed their view that boundaries caused conflict and appealed for greater support for refugees, whilst emphasising the need to maximise intergenerational dialogue.

The meeting concluded with a series of comments from those present on the need for action, which focussed on the need for a more welcoming approach to those perceived as different. Some also called for greater political engagement to promote greater harmony and tolerance. One participant warned that climate change might create still greater migration pressures in the future and that we should become more vigilant on this issue. All agreed that complacency was not an answer and action at a grass roots level was needed if post Brexit Britain was to have a satisfactory future.

Leaving you with the European Union

Should we stay or should we go? Sounds like something from a pop song. But of all the videos I made during the police elections campaign, this is the most currently relevant in view of the vote on June 23rd. So if you have time listen to it. Perhaps you will find it helpful when it comes to making your own decision on this important vote.

The Morning After

IMG_0496

Independent Candidate William Morris with his dog Indi and his agent Mark Hambley at his sister Maggie’s home in Yarcombe, East Devon, on the morning after the count

“I never lose, I either win or learn”

Nelson Mandela

Again, my thanks to the 22,395 citizens of Devon and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that put their trust in me. And again my commiserations to my fellow candidates and my congratulations to Alison, the surprise winner.

A couple of observations now that the dust has settled:

  1. Zero Tolerance policing: I noted the hostile reaction to proposals to introduce zero tolerance policing in St Ives, one of the areas in Cornwall most in need of strong measures because of rising levels of violent crime. I then noted, at the count, that my poorest vote in all Devon and Cornwall was in Torridge, the local government district that includes Bideford. Now Bideford was a town I once went to school in and with which I therefore have a close connection. However, Bideford is a town with one of the worst increases in levels of violent crime in the West Country, I therefore publicly flagged Bideford as an area for zero tolerance policing. And my vote in Bideford was abysmal. What does this tell me? It tells me that targeted zero tolerance policing is unpopular in Devon and Cornwall. So should I stand in 2020 (debatable) then targeted zero tolerance policing will no longer be on my manifesto. I shall find other measures to deal with the increased levels of violent crime.
  2. Integrity: The best vote that I received in all of Devon and Cornwall was in Torbay, a borough that includes Torquay, Paignton and Brixham. This is a Borough in which there have been integrity issues with regard to the declaration of election expenses. I have taken a strong stand on the need for an Integrity and Honesty Commission to monitor the work of the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Police Force as a whole. This clearly resonated with voters and it will be a strong feature of my manifesto should I ever stand again.
  3. Community Payback: The other notable feature of Torbay constituency is that it includes Brixham, a town in which a woman police officer once experimented with a Community Payback scheme. I have referred to the Brixham experiment in my campaign. The idea is that you ensure fewer youngsters go through the criminal justice system by enabling officers on the beat to allocate community service as an alternative to charge. This clearly resonates with voters. I will retain and develop this policy should I ever stand again (which of course is by no means certain).

I now return to my work as Secretary General of the Next Century Foundation. This month has been a fascinating change from my day job dealing with problems in Mid East war zones. But I tell you the truth. The Middle East is tame compared to the battering you get at the hustings in Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. I am sorry not to have won. I believe I could have delivered a policing revolution in an era of rising levels of violent crime and cuts in central government funding.

That said, our homeland is one of the most beautiful and precious places in the British Isles, indeed in the entire world, an area with some of the best people and one of the best police forces anywhere. We are fortunate indeed to live here.

A Hard Day’s Night

IMG_0495

Independent William Morris, his agent Mark G Hambley, and his wife Veronica, recovering after losing the election for Police and Crime Commissioner

And so, for those of you that may not have heard yet, the final result after the  counting of the separate preference ballots, was a Tory victory. The second preference votes were:

  1. Hernandez (Conservative) 21,682
  2. Derrick (Labour) 20,723

So good luck to Alison Hernandez. This job will be a heavy burden as well as being a wonderful opportunity to serve the people of Devon and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. And my commiserations to all my fellow would be PCCs, especially Gareth Derrick who came so close. He proved to be a candidate of outstanding integrity.

And my particular thanks to the 22,395 voters of Devon and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that made me their first choice. I am honoured to have had their trust.

I have one or two further observations heading your way shortly so watch this space.

The Results of the 2016 Police Elections in Devon and Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

20160506_161126

Independent candidate William Morris (centre) at the count in Exeter with his wife Veronica and his agent Mark G Hambley

News from the count in Exeter. The result at the conclusion of the first ballot was:

  1. Hernandez (Conservative) 69,354 votes
  2. Derrick (Labour) 66,519 votes
  3. Smith (Ukip) 49,659 votes
  4. Spencer (Independent) 41,382 votes
  5. Younger-Ross (Liberal) 35,154 votes
  6. Morris (Independent) 22,395 votes

There were 9,530 rejected papers. There were a total of 294,120 votes cast which is 22.8% of the electorate. A run off is now taking palce between the Labour and Conservative candidates.

On a particular personal note, I would like to especially thank the voters of Torbay where I had an especially strong vote. We will let you know who was the victor in the close fought runoff (where just 2,835 votes separate the Labour and Tory candidates).