Saturday, 26 March 2011


Across the world we are seeing the effects of people power - regimes being challenged, heads of state being forced to step down, some with dignity, others less so, and still another forcing his country into a state of war.

In Syria we now have open suppression of the people and, according to the BBC World News and Reuters, at least 53 people killed in street protests.

Here is London, we have the demonstration of people power with the largest gathering since the anti war marches of 2003. I think we can probably go back even further, 25 years. These people are sending a clear message to the government. 'We understand the need for cutbacks; we understand the need to reduce the deficit. But you are doing it too drastically, too severely. You must ease up.'

It is a very, very powerful argument, especially when Whitehall realises that just a few streets away a protest march of something like a quarter of a million people from all sections of society, of all age groups, is underway.

The police have a very delicate operation. Between 4,000-5,000 police are on duty to prevent a recurrence of the violent scenes in Parliament Square last November with the student protest against the introduction of the £9,000 loan repayment scheme. The police themselves face cutbacks in all forces that I have never seen before. They will be sympathetic but they must also uphold the Queen's Peace and rule of law.

It is right and proper that we are holding this demonstration this day.

The organisers want a peaceful protest. They and the police recognise that there will be elements - troublemakers and anarchists - who will attempt to cause violence and confrontation. The police have explained how difficult it is to spot these people who infiltrate groups of law-abiding protesters, hence very careful monitoring by CCTV and then, once spotted, the need to pull these trouble makers out, and sometimes by means of 'kettling' the group generally, an unpopular crowd control measure.

I know from personal experience how difficult it is to police protests. But provided the organisers, the protesters and the police generally work together, then they will succeed in doing that for which we are famous, culminating in the gathering in Hyde Park to hear the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition address the nation.

This is how things should proceed in our democracy.

Ian Bradley Marshall
26 March 2011

Friday, 25 March 2011


Lancaster Active Forum

To visitors to this sight of all ages, a visit to the Lancaster Active Forum is worth one's time for families and descendants of crews are conducting much research. This domain is owned by Larry Wright of Canada and who, like Peter Cunliffe, is undertaking invaluable work to keep the history of bomber command, its operations and its crews very much in the public conscience.

Apart from this website, what is so good and refreshing is to see the number of younger and young people throughout our many national museums and galleries, who are taking a very keen interest in Bomber Command, often because they want to find out for themselves exactly what their grandparents, uncles and aunts went through, but also because they want to know anyway.

In an age of apparent cynicism we tend to think that this history will just die out.

Not so.

It is an incredibly moving experience to discover that whilst one tends to think of one self as the nephew of an uncle who is a framed photograph but who died before one was born, that there are other nephews and nieces too in the same situation and, for example, in the case of my own uncle, Flight Sergeant Harry Marshall, to discover the name and rank of his skipper to whom he was the crew's flight engineer, but to learn that that his niece has provided so much valuable information on this Lancaster Active Forum and which has helped me so much too in putting the pieces of a jigsaw together and then to report the facts to my Mum, Harry's sister.

I extend my thanks to Mr Wright, and separately to Mr Cunliffe, for all of this work and also for making it possible for all of the families and enthusiasts to obtain so much information.

Now to the Future

We look to the future and to our young people to pick up the torch and carry it high and fully lit into the night sky, never letting history allow the grass to grow under one's feet.

Flying military operations to enforce a no fly zone is as dangerous as ever, despite the increased sophistication of our military assets and the inferiority of a discredited regime.

This morning we have 350 aircraft and 38 ships of the line enforcing that no fly zone and the thought of being on the receiving end of that firepower is discomfiting. But just as a lifetime ago, young people were going out to fly deadly operations over one of the worst tyrannies in history, so too, the bulk of the fighting today, both by the Coalition (shortly NATO Command) over Libya, and our armed forces in the war in Afghanistan at the sharpest end is our young people. Only this week two more British servicemen have been killed in action in Afghanistan, and this excludes the fatalities suffered by the other nations that make up the Allied Forces. It is a convention of war that in reporting casualties one only reports those relating to one’s own country.

So my point, as ever, is to put before the British People this thought (echoed earlier) that our young people are indeed picking up the torch and carrying it high and fully into the night sky. They, and we of the older generation, are not allowing history to let the grass grow under one’s feet.

To all our young people, and to those who take to the streets with passion, I say, thank you indeed. You are doing the greatest service.

Ian Bradley Marshall
25 March 2011

Sunday, 20 March 2011


Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4 2nd Movement
Daniel Barenboim conducting the Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Imagine a world without music.

Imagine a society in which music is banned. There are some regimes that impose such bans. There are other regimes that decree only certain types of music, all else being outlawed.

A world without music is one thing. A world where the sound of music has been deliberately removed is far worse.

I was listening to this Symphony last evening on the radio – the 2nd Movement – and it moved me.

The ground beneath me seemed to move and my spirit groaned and then soared as this incredible composition moved, swirled, cascaded and rose up ever higher with each score.

A host of people all moving as one on that great stage, following the baton, the exquisite movement of the hand.

My heart pulled. It seemed as if I would be turned inside out. Where did this beauty, this creativity, this spontaneity and rhythm come from?

Just how is it that these sounds can be written on a score as seemingly meaningless strokes and dashes, notes, quavers, semi quavers and nocturnes only to be then, as a collection of people gathered together and as the baton raises, become one being, at one with the Universe?

Such incredible sounds the world over – as beautiful as each other - regardless of culture.

Music has power and spontaneity that men in high places when unsure of their security can desire only to ban for fear that it may otherwise unseat them, that the people over whom they rule, or worse still whom they subjugate, will themselves move as one, with that same spontaneity. (See footnote)

Take for instance Finlandia, the Voice of Freedom of the Fins and thus banned for a lifetime by a regime that has long since gladly gone.

The threat of imprisonment, beating or worse, if heard listening to it on some foreign western broadcast or, on pain of death, to dare to listen to the most feared station of all, the ubiquitous BBC, yes even today in this 21st Century.

If music be the food of love, so wrote Shakespeare.

I would go one further. Music is food for the soul. It gives us expression and purpose; sentiment; comfort and confidence; a link to friends and family, loved ones far and wide; periods of our lives long since passed and with which the music now is the last remaining tenuous link and which gives us our memory.

As an editor, I would always encourage my creative design team to reach inside themselves; to go right into the innermost depths of their being. In a way the Editor is literature’s equivalent to the Conductor of an Orchestra. Nothing but the best is acceptable. And I'm constantly inspired by just how creative the human spirit is.

The great Arias, choruses, symphonic sounds of the very host of Heaven on the one hand; on the other hand of equal beauty, sometimes more, the artists and performers of popular music – two pieces alone come to mind by Enrique Iglesias, Addicted and California; and three equally beautiful popular songs that never cease to inspire me, Break and Born by Stephen George Edwards of New Zealand and Ambitions by Joe McElderry of South Shields, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Here is true freedom. Here is the freedom of young people to express themselves. Never stifle the young people, for they are a nation’s future, our future, our security, our freedom. And as they come to understand this freedom, they will not give it up lightly, but will guard it jealously to hand to their children with equal conviction.

All types of music bring tears of joy and the ability to make me re-examine myself, no less than when I listen again to a great Psalm or Choral work or Gregorian chant; so never allow music to be stifled.

And do not restrict oneself to local culture. Experience the rich variety of music of all cultures without exception.

And if, God forbid, society ever moves to imposing a total ban on some form of music then resist it with all your might. Let not the greatest sounds and groanings of the soul and spirit be silenced by the petty prejudices and bigotry of simple minded men and women who seek only to impose their own outdated irrelevant interpretation of religion.

Let us never fall prey to these petty dictates that would rob us of our freedom to listen to one of the most awesome acts of the creative spirit – our music.

La Fontana
29 March 2010

I wrote that sentence a year ago. Tonight, as I prepare this final proof for the publisher, we are witnessing popular uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and in particular in Libya. The people do indeed rise as one, and whenever they do, dictators tremble for they know it is only a matter of time, before they will be brought down. If they are fortunate they might be allowed to live quietly in exile; if they refuse to yield, then a People motivated by a quest for freedom and democracy, what we in the West so take for granted, will take the law into their own hands. That is never good, for terrible retribution will be meted out, and this should never happen. 21 March 2011 Ian Bradley Marshall Liverpool

Saturday, 19 March 2011


A stark heading and one that I would not have written a week ago.

Events shift incredibly fast as nations move from diplomacy to military action. Intelligence reports will certainly be far more detailed than the good reporting that the international media is providing. So whilst the general public are caught off-guard by a dictator's flagrant disregard of the call for a ceasefire that he insists he is implementing, we find now, 24 hours on, that at the very moment of these pronouncements, he was doing the exact opposite. This of course will have been highlighted in the intelligence reports.

We are taking the right course of action. We are seeking to protect a civilian population from deliberate, planned and systematic slaughter, and so long as we do not allow ground troops to enter Libya, albeit to support the Libyan People, then we have a chance in helping the Libyan People secure democracy through self-determination.

But none of us should think that this is just "a little local skirmish". Enforcing a no fly zone in the Bosnian Serbian War did not prevent the Bosnian Serbs from slaughtering 8,000 Muslim men and boys!

We must remember the lessons of history. We must recall that the assassination of an Archduke in 1914 precipitated the Great War, and, 25 years later the invasion of Poland precipitated the Second World War. In each case, nations came to the aid of people being bullied and subjugated by a more powerful nation that, on the world stage, proclaimed peace, but behind the scenes, was doing what a dictator is doing today.

Oil is not at the centre of this current situation. The United States is rightly giving a supportive role. Britain and France are spearheading military action although obviously we have the superior technical expertise of our American Allies. And crucially, this international assistance is at the direct request and urging of Arabian States who, themselves, are prepared to participate in the military action.

But this is a potential powder keg. And when a national leader is no longer in full possession of his faculties, he becomes desperate and a menace to all. A desperate man resorts to desperate measures, and so it is absolutely right that the United Nations take very tough military action to help the Libyan People to remove this man from power.

As the former Chief of the Defence Staff, Lord West, pointed out earlier today - it would be very wise for those who seek to protect this man and help him to remain in power, to think very carefully about what just might befall them. To be on the receiving end of a massive military strike such as that which Britain and France are more than capable of delivering, is, to any right-minded person, a very sobering thought.

When I retired to bed last evening I did so thinking, naively, that we had averted disaster, that the very threat of such force had brought the man to his senses. This morning, my stomach hit my boots as I listened to the reports of just what this petty minded dictator has been doing to his people even these past 24 hours, and listening to his spokesman read out to the media his letters to President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron and President Sarkozy.

The UN must take swift, decisive action. Let us also remember that Russia and China are unsettled by these events.

Tnere is, however, reason for cautious optimism. Many Arab states, through the internet and twitter and facebook, have remarked upon the calmness and resolve of the British People. That whilst the world is used to seeing our House of Commons at times more like a boxing ring, but without the fighting, they now see something else. A United Kingdom, and a Government and Opposition standing united and in mutual support in dealing with this crisis.

Half a century ago, another lesson of history was referred to by the late Winston Churchill, which, loosely put, reminded the world that the British People are a curious people and that few can understand her mind; slow to take action and often at odds within, but put a great cause before the People, and they rise as one and will not back down until the task is finished.

We are no different today. We are an island people, and we understand only too well that our freedom from aggression, our democracy, our devolution, has come at a great price. But this opportunity for peoples elsewhere to face down dictatorships will resonate with the UK. And we have seen this quiet resolve, this determination to square up to dictators, and to help peoples in their self-determination, reflected in the British Prime Minister, Mr Cameron.

I stand with Her Majesty's Leader of the Opposition, Mr Ed Miliband, in his unequivocal support of the PM on the floor of the House yesterday.

Ian Bradley Marshall
19 March 2011

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Is a No Fly Zone Closer Than We Think?

The RAF are flying very low - training sorties down the Mersey and out into the Estuary tonight and in fact most nights this week. I suspect it's to respond to a UN resolution or (and I hope not) a less effective resolution by the UK, France and the USA to take military action against Libya. It is notable that unlike before, France is taking this line. It is also interesting to note that international commentators are saying that the US President failed to show the same decisiveness that the PM did in urging the UN to consider a no fly zone.

The Libyan government has stated that it will meet any military threat. No doubt it will. But I would not fancy my chances against the Royal Air Force or NATO or USAAF. I would like to think that at this eleventh hour they just might realise that their country's security, peace, freedom and prosperity lies without Colonel Gaddafi.

Let us hope that reason prevails.

Ian Bradley Marshall
17 March 2011

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


The Prime Minister, on the Floor of the House, announced today the decision of Her Majesty the Queen to confer upon the town and residents of Wootton Bassett the title 'Royal' and which will be conferred officially in September this year.

This is in tribute to the Townspeople who, representative of the Greater British People, have stood resolutely with our Armed Forces in their darkest moments when loved ones are repatriated, not to live, but to lay in rest.

It is the first time that this designation has been conferred upon a town in over one hundred years and entirely reflects the mood of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and demonstrates to all of our Armed Forces on active service in the front line and in all parts of the world that we continue to stand with them and support them and their families.

It demonstrates too to the wider world that we are very much a United Kingdom.

Ian Bradley Marshall
16 March 2011

Friday, 11 March 2011


During the past two years I have been privileged to write the popular column under the heading 'a very british revolution', a title that derives its origin from a quote on national news during the MPs Expenses Fiasco, and the manner in which the British People responded as one, in expressing their extreme displeasure and anger that their own elected representatives had so seriously let them down.

By no means did every member of parliament do this of course. But it is a simple fact: just a drop of acid into a glass of pure water, will thereby render a glass of acid.

But we are a democratic people and we do things by way of peaceful, and some times not quite so peaceful, demonstration, vigorous public debate and ultimately through the ballot box.

In this respect we unknowingly continue to set the standard by which democracy and freedom operate.

The Future

By popular request I have been asked to not only continue writing the column on the site, but to actually post them to the website

This is indeed a privilege and an honour for me.

Liverpool is my home, my City and my people. Our history as a maritime people centres very much upon the Port of Liverpool just along the road from where I am now writing this.

For eight centuries the Port and City of Liverpool have been the gateway to the world, and so it seems right to entitle these letters dispatches.

Of course, there is something of the military in me as my friends and followers will know, and Dispatches from Liverpool is also thereby a direct link with all of our armed forces on operational duty throughout the world, whether on the front iine in war or on the equally important humanitarian front line.

The 21st Century is the most exciting time for all of us to be living in. It is also the most challenging and demanding, and the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the terrible earthquakes in New Zealand and now, earlier today, Japan and the horror of the resultant Tsunami makes international cooperation and assistance of the utmost importance.

Let us also not overlook the fact that when an event such as the Japan Earthquake occupies the world's attention, disreputable or petty tyrannical leaders will use it as convenient cover to exact revenge upon the people who have dared to challenge their authority to continue to rule them.

The United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, NATO have all made it clear that the events in Libya may need international military intervention, and in the form of a no fly zone being imposed but only under the auspices of the United Nations.

None of us wishes to see unilateral action. It must be unanimous action through the United Nations Security Council.

Meanwhile, let us all do as much as we can to assist the Japanese People and the other nations that have been caught up in the Tsunami, and let us not overlook that New Zealand must continue to receive assistance.

This is the way forward for the international community; and it will inspire peoples labouring under dictatorship to look to that day when they too can have the freedoms we love and cherish and, not surprisingly, tend to take for granted.

Ian Bradley Marshall
12 March 2011

Thursday, 10 March 2011


I take my hat off to two young people, the England Cricketer Steve Davies and the Swedish Footballer Anton Hysen, who have done a very courageous thing - they've let on that they are gay. It is not right that they should have to be in the position where they need to make these declarations in the first place. And as Davies beautifully put it when speaking to CNN, there must surely come a time when a person's sexuality will be of no interest at all. These sportsmen have received full support and love from their families, friends and their team mates and are overwhelmed at the international public response.

It enables them to figuratively boot into touch the unpleasant comments (and I put it mildly) that the narrow minded or fanatical will come out with!

Less than a decade ago another young sportsman - an international motor cycle racer did the same. Well if ever "earth's foundations cracked, crumbled and collapsed" it was then. To prove his point to an unaccepting Dad, that young guy went out and promptly won the Isle of Man TT race - one of the most difficult and dangerous racing circuits in the world, so dangerous in fact, that the Late Barry Sheen refused anymore to race there.

This victory, surely, would win his Dad round to support him. Response? A beating up and broken ribs.

We have to accept that some families just cannot get their heads around the simple fact that being gay, bisexual or transgendered is normal and natural. To the religious pundits I say this. I dare you to step outside your own little closet - the Levitical closet that you've somehow wandered or been enticed into and can't find the exit. Stop looking. Be bold. The walls are not high. Just step over them!

In parts of the world my people are still flogged or, worse still, executed by beheading or hanging or, in one country, tied to four cars that then go north, south, east and west from a standing start. In another country, a wall is very precisely constructed. Court officials carefully monitor the bulldozing of the wall on to the convicted "criminals" ie people, including young people, who have been found "guilty" of same sex relations or activities. The court officials and priests wait for precisely 30 minutes before removing the boulders. If any remain alive, they are decreed to be innocent because He from above has ordained it.

Centuries ago, our country dealt with women by means of the ducking stool. They too, if found to be alive after the ducking, were deemed to have been forgiven and declared innocent by God. Of course, most drowned and so were deemed naturally to have been guilty. The practice may have gone but the mental processes take a lot longer to eradicate the motives of people hell bent on destroying others.

Faith is the very fabric of any society. It is the cement in the bricks. But when interpretation of what is written thousands of years ago (and here I refer to all religions because all religions subscribe to the same philosophy) is deemed to be as relevant today as it was at the time of writing, then we surely have a problem.

So to all you narrow minded people I throw down the gauntlet. I challenge you. Go on. Don't bother looking for the door; step over the wall and out into the sunshine. It will be the best thing you ever did, and, rest assured, for those to whom this means something, the very Host of Heaven will rejoice that day!

And to the bigots and narrow-minded, the one trackers, I throw another gauntlet down. Yes I do. I'm a fighter. I'm ex police and ex military.

I dare you to read the two links below and I warn you to keep your hands off people such as Steven Davies and Anton Hysen and all the rest of my people, and young people, who are living boldly and trying to make something of their lives and determined to do good for all of us.

and watch the video clip on the Conscience page and have a read too of Sweet Seventeen and Reconciliation.

and read They Came in the Night against the music 'They'll Remember You'. The link is on there.

Do yourselves justice, give yourselves a break, live and let live and remember the lessons of history.

Again, for those who know the story, consider what one Man said to the accusers of a woman about to be stoned, 'Let him who knows no sin cast the first stone.' And one by one, pissed off no doubt, but seared by conscience like a red hot poker, they drifted away. A little while later, He says, 'Where are your accusers now? 'They've all gone' she replied.

And here is the lightning bolt, a universal declaration that reaches down and touches every second of every minute of every hour of every day - even to this present day. 'Then neither do I accuse you. Go...'

And if all that doesn't move you, that's no problem. Consider confronting Gareth Thomas who came out two years ago or Ben Cohen and his wife and the many other straight sports personalities who have no problem at all with their gay colleagues and who will be more than happy to withstand you.

Yes: the universal solution that reaches across cultures and religions - precise and simple - but which we have the greatest difficulty with: LIVE, AND LET LIVE.

Ian Bradley Marshall
10 March 2011


It's funny how difficult times or moments of crisis reveal the true character and personality of people. Down the ages it has been the same, and always will be.

Take for instance the award of job seeker's allowance (JSA). For our international readers, this is the allowance given to someone who is unemployed for a limited period of time. It currently stands at £65.45 and rises ever so slightly in April. The award of this benefit is strictly on the basis that it is the starting point from which to work backwards.

In other words, the civil servant sits there and says in effect, 'this is what I can pay you by law; now I have to see if you have any other income that will reduce the amount I can pay you.'

The civil servant leaves no stone unturned. Government policy is clear, precise and to the point. Find evidence to reduce the benefit. That reduction is called the 'disregard'.

We have a national minimum wage of £5.93 per hour which, on a 35 hour basic week would amount to £207.55. JSA, before disregard, on a 35 hour basic week amounts to £1.87. The impact of this is felt when the Job Centre sends out a letter that has missed the franking stamp as the worker has been passing it through the franking machine, no doubt because the worker is bored and more interested in talking about some virtual reality TV programme that has really gripped their imagination for the whole day. Result? Royal Mail slaps a £1.32 penalty postage fee on the letter which the addressee must then go to the local post office which, here in Liverpool, means W H Smiths because that's the only one left in the City, to not only pay the penalty but also the original postage stamp of 34 pence. The out of work citizen now has 21 pence.

But hey ho, he's happy because Tesco have just reduced their national prices in an effort to combat the increasingly competitive ASDA stores, so he can buy that banana after all because one banana has now come down to 16 pence in the local Tesco Store.

Virtual Reality TV? No, this is life in the raw. This is what many people are trying to cope with, and it is therefore no small wonder that bank bonuses are viewed with such hostility.

All of us judge each other by our own standards. If therefore I have £1,000 at all times in my reserve current account, I will naturally presume that you also, regardless of who you are, have a reserve current account and at least £1,000.

If I am at UNI and come from a fairly affluent middle class background, and Dad and Mum pay my bills or make a contribution or bale me out when I get a puncture or have a roadside breakdown, I will automatically assume that everyone else, all my friends, have this protective cushion. It doesn't matter that I've not noticed that they use public transport. I just presume that's choice or because they haven't yet learned to drive.

Conversely, if I watch the TV or read the newspaper about some trouble in a town or city, some uprising, I will assume that the whole country is involved when in fact it is not.

It therefore behoves all of us to try and see the real state of affairs; to try and understand why our friend hangs back when the rounds are being bought, or quietly disappears. "Hey, have you noticed? As soon as it's his/her turn to buy a round s/he's off!" We've all met friends who do that of course and will meet many in the future. But there are many who slip away because they have no option; or they have just spent a whole week's JSA on a round to keep face, and feel a bit low when most of what they've bought ends up on the floor trying to walk back with the tray through the hustle and bustle.

The Recession bites deep. The Recession will be a very long time departing. Many will fall by the wayside on the way, just as has happened in all previous recessions.

The Prime Minister is of course right to remind us all that now is the time to roll up our shirtsleeves. Great. But what if you've already lost your ruddy shirt?


No. A Painful Insight into the Real Effect of the Deficit Cuts

Last Monday I popped into the local job centre - a compulsory 'back to work workshop' at 9am. The JC were blunt and direct. If the claimant does not follow up agencies who do not reply promptly, then the job seekers allowance, housing benefit and any other form of benefit will stop immediately for 26 weeks. Right of appeal? To embark on that route is so complicated and slow, that most are put off just by the introductory and meaningless letter the appellant receives. These are the revised guidelines being issued this week by the civil service to all job centre staffs nationally, implementing a series of very severe cutbacks.

It did not make pleasant listening. I think perhaps the speaker was aiming to shake some claimants out of complacency, but they were in the minority.

It is clear that there is no leeway.

As the speaker put it, 'the decision maker will not be aware of individual facts but will just go by what they see in front of them, figures, facts and whether the boxes they tick will allow the benefit to continue. The aim will always be to find a means of stopping the benefit and getting you back to work, any work, regardless.'

If a job application is completed and filed with the case worker for inputting, but happens to be in any colour other than black, then the JC Team will not process it, nor call the claimant back in to rectify. Thus no record is made on screen so that the next mandatory check will result in all benefits stopping immediately for 26 weeks. This really hit home to one listener who remarked '...k that's six months!

I felt very sorry for many of the people attending with me who are plainly not used to admin, and they left very upset that they are being treated like this. I didn't feel too good myself!

Despite the very difficult times, recruitment agencies do not always grasp the full impact of what is happening. There is still no sense of urgency; but I am mindful too that many employers are playing the market absolutely ruthlessly and therefore putting the agencies between a rock and a hard place.

If a claimant does not have work by the sixth week of claiming JSA they have to undertake unpaid voluntary work to justify retaining the JSA. This will be a full 35 hour week. And we have a loophole here that central government has found, namely, that if a claimant is on benefit then they cannot claim the national minimum wage when central government requires that person to take voluntary work.

This is the very harsh reality of the deficit. It is the peacetime equivalent of the war time regulations of the last coalition government.

Distressing times, and I am thankful that at least I don't have family or dependents. Listening and talking to many of the people I was sitting with makes me wonder how they will cope.

Here's two final quotes from that session that ended at 10am:

A fellow unemployed claimant sitting next to me:"Then I'll just have to turn to crime" - he was utterly dejected.

The Speaker:"You'll all appreciate I've only covered half of the booklet this morning; this is because in line with the cuts, these sessions are ending on 1 April. Sorry!"

If ever one felt like being thrown out of s sinking lifeboat then that was surely it!

Ian Bradley Marshall
10 March 2011

Sunday, 6 March 2011


Sitting here on the Waterfront is a privilege. But with it comes sorrow at times and these days often tinged with anger; and as I watch international events the anger and frustration at times becomes intense.

HMS Cumberland and HMS Duke of York are both on active service in the waters off Libya rescuing people in the current humanitarian crisis. These ships are due to be scrapped.

Last week I watched HMS Liverpool slip her moorings and sail past, again, destined for the scrap heap within the year.

HMS Campbeltown has steamed in this week and, unexpectedly, for its final visit to its homeport of Liverpool, for it was built across the water at the famous now defunct Cammell Laird Shipbuilders Yard in 1987.

With 255 crew, some of whom come from Liverpool, we are now informed that this is her last visit; that due to the defence cuts she will be decommissioned even though at the time of the announcement Laura Jones, Staff Writer in the Liverpool Daily Post (4.3.2011 page 10) reports that this was just “as she was preparing to deploy for counter-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean and after a refit and full crew training had readied her for duty.”

Her Commanding Officer, Commander Keri Harris RN comments, and again I’m quoting from Ms Jones’ excellent article:

“In the past months, we have been able to operate at sea with a tangible output, training the many specialists who encompass the navy’s wide operational remit. Now we are faced with the reality of decommissioning a fine warship and disbanding her close-knit crew, which was never going to be easy.”

It is even more disconcerting when one realises that the crew have no guarantee of a secure future; most certainly some will lose their jobs as a result of Whitehall’s insistence that the Royal Navy must lose at least 5,000 personnel as part of the deficit commitment.

We ask that our Armed Forces be prepared to make the ultimate individual sacrifice. We have currently lost 358 personnel. Everyone of our troops works under the weight of the question, will I be the three hundred and fifty Ninth, and if not, then which number will I be?

It reminds me of my Uncles who were also killed in action during WW2 on RAF bombing operations over Germany. I grew up with this quote in my head as a young boy; my uncle and namesake had told Dad that the average life expectancy was four missions before being shot down. And guess what? He was shot down on his fourth mission. At age 21 that takes guts. And it is no less true today.

We should not be hamstringing our Armed Forces. Let us look closer to home where we have a mother on benefits who, it is now discovered, has on the strength of those benefits, had a swimming pool installed for her family.

The mind boggles.

It is not right that our Armed Forces and our Police Force, committing themselves to a lifetime’s service, the latter for 30 years, now live and work under the threat of the axe falling upon them.

The Government is right to take drastic action. We know and accept that. But let us also think these through carefully.

The Bank of England

I am pleased that Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, has made it clear that, in his opinion, the banks are just not doing enough. He has surely fired a warning shot that makes it clear. When the Bank of England replaces the Financial Services Authority, these banks are going to have to do a lot, lot better and that Mr King is just the person to ensure this.

The banks are dilatory and remaining firmly self-serving.

Ian Bradley Marshall
6 March 2011

Friday, 4 March 2011


Thus did our lecturer present his opening of the subject "British Constitution and Public Law", a very important subject for us at that time and without which I would not have qualified eventually as a Constable. It was a long course too and in pre computer days, desks were piled high with text books and drafts and, with each lecture, much heated discussion and debate.

But that opening phrase, first spoken by Thomas Fuller the famous 17th Century churchman and historian, resonated so strongly with me, as indeed the lecturer had intended. It has formed the bedrock of my whole professional life. It is what enabled me to exercise powers of arrest when it could quite easily have been simpler to say that I was being intimidated and would thus back down. I remember one titled lady affronted by my suggestion that she had committed a serious criminal offence. "Don't you realise who I am?" "Yes, I do indeed, your Ladyship. It makes no difference."

When she was released on bail later that day she had had cause to reflect upon that statement no doubt. That is now long ago. Gosh she must be in her late 50s like me.

Earlier this week we had a public broil between the managers of Rangers and Celtic. We are used to seeing players sometimes lose their cool and lash out at each other. We do not expect to see that abusive behaviour then copied by managers. Get real! You're playing, or managing, nothing more than a game of soccer.

I love soccer, but get it in perspective. Far more important things are happening these days. Managers are also role models for young people and indeed middle and higher management too. So remember your role and perform accordingly.

It is therefore very reassuring to see the Assistant Chief Constable of Strathclyde make it clear yesterday on BBC News. It does not matter whether they are managers, whether this is just a football match, whether the incident can be seen to be therefore something that one can turn a blind eye to. He did not care what people thought, what people in high places might say. His duty was clear. He would enforce the law. And if he saw that there was prima facie evidence to lay criminal charges, he would do so.

This is precisely how it should be. It is a reminder of that wonderful maxim uttered years ago by my lecturer, Mr Edgar Jones, himself a former police officer with a distinguished service record.

Be you ever so high, the law is always above you!

It is a maxim that Colonel Gaddafi is very quickly coming to understand as the International Court of Human Rights gathers evidence of crimes against humanity by him and some members of his family and by members of his regime.

Ian Bradley Marshall
4 March 2011

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


We are watching momentous events in Libya and as I have said on several occasions now, all of us owe a great deal to the bravery and courage of our Journalists, Reporters and Camera Crews.

The Prime Minister was right to express our resolve on the floor of the House of Commons for Mr Cameron was directly addressing the Nation, not England, but the United Kingdom. It is pleasing to see that throughout these challenging times, the devolved government of the UK is not in any way inhibiting the whole Nation from acting as one.

It is also very comforting to know that we have chartered aircraft to carry out a series of airlifts of up to 6,000 of the foreign workers of all nations, currently trapped on the Libyan border; that other nations are acting similarly and we are therefore seeing a practical demonstration of the United Nations working together. Likewise HMS Cumberland and HMS Duke of York are also now undertaking continued rescue of people.

Libya itself is in a mess. It can put up one aircraft and still fail to hit its target, an ammunition dump, after four attempts. What was going to be the rout of the coastal towns this morning by the Libyan People's Army fizzled out.

But we also see the supporters of Colonel Gaddafi becoming very excited and quite honestly living in a dream world. This dream world has every possibility of becoming an absolute nightmare if the present situation becomes a Crisis and that Crisis turns into open Civil War. We saw Civil War in the Balkans, we saw the savagery of a divided people in Kosovo. Foreign military intervention was required.

The present situation is demanding diplomacy at the highest levels. Much is at stake. No doubt we will have Thursday Evening Question Time chuntering on about the West's greed for oil and those spouting that line trying to make all of us feel guilt. But it comes down to simple home economics. The Motorist. The local business reliant upon its fleet of lorries to transport its goods. If the antics of a government in some far away country pushes prices up at the petrol pump, that is when people will think again about military intervention.

If the UN did have to take military action it is doing so for completely different reasons to that which brought about the Second Iraq War.

We do not want to take military action. We do not want to have to commit our troops to a conflict that quickly has the local population turn on them and accuse them of becoming the aggressor, the occupier. What people want to see is the right of the Libyan People to determine their own future, their own Parliament.

The vast majority of the Libyan People want a complete change. They want to enjoy that freedom in life that we take for granted. They want the right to self-determination.

We have the mandate thus far of a unanimous security council resolution. That is unprecedented, for it means that Russia and China too have agreed with that resolution.

We do not want to commit our armed forces, especially given the swinging defence cuts that are being applied. It is a pity that the Government cannot, at this eleventh hour, reverse its decision on scrapping some of our assets.

But I commend the Government also for maintaining a steady course, keeping calm whilst considering all options.

Let us hope that neither the Pentagon nor Whitehall will need to issue an order of the day that sends our armed forces into another war. Let us hope that, somehow, the Libyan People will be able to remove Colonel Gaddafi from power confident in the knowledge that they have the full support of the international community.

Ian Bradley Marshall
3 March 2011