Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Musings on PR

Over the past few days I have been musing on why some on the left think PR would be in the best interests of Britain, in the Commons for several reasons, however it seems to me that...

1)It Would keep the Tories out for a Generation (which is why many on the left now favour it). However it's a very bad idea to set up any system that would keep ANY party in uncontested power for years IMO. That's a recipe for the decay of state institutions, leads to public ennui about politics, and could lead to a road of the loss of democratic responsibility or even revolution (worst case scenario).

2)The Lib Dems would have undue influence on the government. Part of the problem I have with the Lib Dems is that they know they wont be in power so can say almost anything they want, this means that their fringe loons have influence way beyond what would be considered normal in any party, just look at their EUphilia and green policies.

3)Labour, barring a nightmare (In Coalition with the Lib-Dems), would be in power for decades, no doubt with a similar method that they use now to ensure no proper debate in Parliament thus avoiding that the majority of votes are debated simply because of the secret dealing for influence that will go on between minority parties to ensure a vote is passed will make sure there is no strong government.

If I'm totally honest though, reason number one is the main reason. I know Centre Left Government in Britain would probably disenfranchise the Centre Right in the UK for up to a generation yet lead to more problems in Wales and Scotland where the left totally dominate, it might lead to the BNP getting a seat in Parliament, almost certainly UKIP. I also believe it will break the UK up, so there are certain advantages, though it's not the best way to go about it.

Is this Fair, and is this form of democracy democratic, if its put in place to stop one party gaining power? No, It's emphatically undemocratic. It's also dangerous. The potential dangers of such a system means at the very least it would make Labour politicians ineffectual and incapable of proper debate, leading to Periclean government by diktat. If you've got a Pericles, then you're fine. But if you get a Cleon, then Heaven help you.

A Moral maze, a belief in Democracy, or a never ending Labour party in power, which is why Gordon Brown is now interested in it.

I think the best answer is that the current system is functional, and appears to prevent serious abuses that would generate massive public unrest. I'm not opposed to reform of the Lords -at the minute it's half done and just a mess. But the wholesale change of the electoral system should be approached with great caution. After all, si non confectus, non reficiat.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

No, no sympathy, no!

This is just wrong.

A rapist who dumped his victim on a rubbish tip has escaped deportation after winning a High Court battle to stay in Britain to get married.
Alphonse Semo, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, threw his victim on the tip when he “had finished with her”.
Last night he won the right to stay in Britain to marry his long-term partner, just two hours before he was due to board a plane back to Africa.
Mr Justice Collins said it was difficult to have any sympathy for Semo, who was jailed for eight years, but he must be allowed to stay.
Difficult to have any sympathy? Try impossible, he should have been kicked out.

The judge said the Home Office had agreed to let Semo, 53, from Deptford in south-east London, get married to a German national. Then the wedding was cancelled by a subsequent decision “by the same Home Office — no doubt by a different department”, he said.
The judge added that he was very reluctant to intervene but said the Home Office could not be allowed to play “hot and cold” with Semo.
“With considerable reluctance, I have to say he must be allowed to marry”, the judge said. “That means there will be a prohibition against removing him.”
Reluctant to intervene? How about kicking him out? If he's getting married to a German national how about making sure he goes there? Though I suspect the Germans don't want him either.

Mr Justice Collins said the Home Secretary Alan Johnson would have to reconsider later, after Semo has married, whether to make another attempt to deport him.
If Mr Johnson makes a fresh deportation bid, it will involve EU law as Semo’s bride, Busana Kalonji, is a refugee from the Congo who has become a German national.
Ms Kalonji is in the UK, exercising her right to work here under EU law.
After marrying, the couple are expected to claim that Semo is legally entitled to free movement within the EU, including the UK.
Semo was sentenced to eight years in prison in December 2002 for raping and assaulting a woman, aged 38, in Catford, south-east London.
Isn't EU law wonderful.

Can we just leave? Now?

Monday, March 29, 2010

They have the nerve for anything

You'd think after all the mudslinging, the court cases, the shame, the payments back and the ongoing troughing that MP's would back away from going after benefit cheats, at least openly.

Thousands of council tenants who make profits by illegally sub-letting their homes will face tough new measures to be announced by ministers this week.
John Healey, the Housing Minister, plans to introduce penalties for cheats and give councils greater powers to track them down, The Times has learnt.
Sub-letting fraud is a civil offence punishable by a modest fine and the loss of tenancy. But Mr Healey intends to make it a criminal offence so that the courts can recover the profits made. Those convicted could also face larger fines and prison sentences.
Some tenancy cheats are making up to £20,000 a year by moving out of their council home and renting it to friends, family or private tenants. In a minority of cases council tenants have been found sub-letting two or three properties after moving between different authorities.
£20,000 is a lot of money, not as much as your average MP claims in expenses though and even when they do cross the line, all they are expected to do is pay (some of) it back, apologise and carry on troughing.
• Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, claimed money for three different properties in the course of a year, and spent almost £5,000 on furniture in just four months after buying a third property.
• Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, claimed back twice as much for his council tax as he had actually paid. He later repaid the money and apologised for the error.
• Paul Murphy, the Welsh Secretary, splashed out more than £3,000 on a new hot water system for his second home, explaining in a letter to the parliamentary fees office that his water was too hot.
• Harry Cohen claimed more for his second home  and expenses than any other MP in London, in fact his annual expense claims of £123,718 are £30,000 higher than neighbouring Walthamstow Labour MP Neil Gerrard’s claim of £92,228 and greater than Chingford Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith’s allowance of £104,222.

If we do that sort of thing they are threatening to lock us up, they are giving councils extra powers (big mistake) to track down cheats whilst continuing to cheat themselves and make cheating the system a criminal offence.
Though I suspect that MP's will be exempt due to some small sub clause being inserted into the bill at committee stage.

We really need a purge of Parliament, not an election, no current sitting MP should be allowed ever to stand again, I know this is drastic and there are (possibly) some good MP's, but the entire system is corrupt to the core and we need a new broom to free us from the taint of the trough as well as the clutches of the EU, an even bigger set of thieves than we have.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just another day

At work today, this is what happened.

I love my job

All good (and not so good) things come to an end.

So the special relationship is over, that being the one between the UK and USA. Not too surprising, was a bit obvious that Barrack Obama was no Anglophile and his refusal to support us over the Falklands even to the extent of sending Clinton to talk to the Argentinian president during the latest spat.

The UK government needs to be "less deferential" towards the US and more willing to say no to Washington, a group of MPs have said.
The Commons Foreign Affairs committee also said it was wrong to speak of "the special relationship" with the US, as it was fostering other alliances.
However, the MPs did agree that the link between the countries was "profound and valuable".
The Foreign Office said the two nations share a "unique" bond.
The committee said the phrase "the special relationship" did not reflect the "modern" Anglo-American relationship.
It was originally coined more than 60 years ago by Winston Churchill.
It was always more convenient for the USA and they always looked after their interests first (Suez) and using us as landing strip one and forward rocket base. So, if it has to end (not that it was really there) so be it, now would be a good time to disengage from their global hegemony anyway and start to become self reliant and a great trading nation again, rather than be seen as one of their lackeys. Doesn't mean we wont be friends, just no longer allies and no longer interested in their military misadventures.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I can imagine the result if I tried this

Now if I did 95 mph on a 50 mph road and got caught, I'd expect a fine, points on my license and possibly a ban. I certainly wouldn't appeal as I'd consider myself banged to rights over the incident.

Not Police Sgt Craig Nicholas Jones however, he's a special case and knows the loopholes in the law.

A policeman caught driving at 98mph, nearly twice a 50mph limit, should not have been prosecuted, it is claimed.
Sgt Craig Nicholas Jones, 40, an organised crime officer, is appealing against a speeding conviction. A decision is expected next week.
His barrister Simon Gurney claimed at Caernarfon Crown Court that it was an "abuse of process".
He said North Wales Police had adopted a policy of not enforcing the speed limit because 50mph signs were unlit.
Mr Gurney said this should have applied to Sgt Jones, when he was caught on the stretch of the A55 expressway concerned, at Colwyn Bay.
The barrister also insisted that, as the signs did not comply with regulations because their lighting had failed, Sgt Jones' conviction should be overturned.
Mr Gurney said: "His knowledge of the speed limit isn't a relevant factor."
A district judge fined Sgt Jones, an advanced police driver, £500 and banned him for 90 days at Llandudno last December.
The penalties were lifted ahead of the appeal.
He had denied speeding late at night last April while taking a prisoner in a police VW Golf to Caernarfon, but was convicted.
The crown court judge and two magistrates who head the case are to give their decision next week.
First off, I doubt a member of the public would or could get away with this, we'd just pay up. Not enforcing a speed limit is ok if the motorists are driving sensibly, 98 mph doesn't strike me as being that sensible, though I'm not au fait with the road or conditions, nor would I expect that the general public would know of the decision not to enforce. Still I wouldn't have thought ignoring someone doing 98 mph is going to happen on that road, 60 mph perhaps, even 70 mph but certainly no more.
I think Sgt Craig Nicholas Jones should just take his punishment and get on with it, not try to avoid it and give the impression of one law for the police.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Digging yourself into a hole

Well, the third runway at Heathrow has been stalled, not for the normal NIMBY reasons, but because our glorious tax conniving, EU lovin, environmental lunacising (is that a word? Well it is now and it's mine) got caught by the protesters breaching its own dogma on global warming climate change policy.


A high court judge today upheld the argument of a coalition of climate change activists that the government's support for a third runway at Heathrow needs to re-examined, particularly in respect to climate change policy.
Protesters and the Department of Transport emerged from the Royal Courts of Justice this morning claiming victory in the complex legal battle.
A coalition of local councils, green groups and residents had argued that the expansion decision was at odds with the UK's overall climate change targets in an alliance including six local authorities, Greenpeace and the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).
In a joint statement, the group said the government's Heathrow policy was now "in tatters" after Lord Justice Carnwath ruled the decision to give the third runway the green light was "untenable".
The statement added: "If the government wants to pursue its plans for Heathrow expansion it must now go back to square one and reconsider the entire case for the runway."
Now you can argue the merits of whether or not such an expansion makes economic sense (it does, though that's not necessarily a reason to do it) and you can point to other areas instead of Heathrow that could be expanded instead (Stanstead, Gatwick) or even build a brand new one (Kent estuary) You can make a case for all those sites to be expanded or built, though non of the option will be popular with the locals. However it did amuse me that the locals (and associated ecoloons) were able to hoist the government on its environmental petard because they hadn't thought through to the eventual consequences of their sham green tax raising policies. Now if the government had taken a sensible attitude towards climate change this wouldn't have happened, but because they were determined to ride its coat tails into tax raising heaven they had to devise certain policies to prevent carbon emissions so that they could charge us more to have costly unworkable replacements plus tax more for those methods that did produce excessive amounts (excessive from their point of view) It also meant that any attempt to build more runways would fall foul of such legislation and it did.

This for all it's amusing is where Labour have again saddled the UK with laws and ordinances that are not in our interests nor helpful in boosting the economy. Yes the climate changes, yes we should reduce pollution, no we are not to blame for the climate changing, the big yellow ball in the sky is responsible for that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Man Flu

I have man flu, so will be taking a small hiatus from blogging until at least tomorrow when hopefully I'll feel less bunged up, less sore in the throat and hopefully a bit warmer.

I'll probably drink to excess tonight as well.

Because I can.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This is going to hurt, though it could be worse

Source BBC.

Here are the key points of Chancellor Alistair Darling's 2010 Budget, the last one before the general election. 

3p fuel duty rise to be phased in between April and January 2011
Duty on cider to rise by 10% above inflation from Sunday
Wine, beer and spirit duty up 2% a year until 2013
Tobacco duty up 1% this year and 2% a year in future years 
Usual stuff, hitting common pleasures of the people, the cider bit is a sop to the anti-drinking culture brigade who see White Lightning as the scourge of the street chavs. All in all it's the usual blanket stealth tax so favoured by UK governments.

Stamp duty scrapped for homes below £250,000 for first-time buyers
Stamp duty on residential property sales over £1m to increase to 5% 
Nabbing a Tory policy and claiming it's a Labour one.

Economy contracted 6% during the recession
Predicted growth of 1-1.25% in 2010, in line with forecasts
Downgrades growth forecast for 2011 to 3-3.5%
Borrowing this year forecast to be £167bn - £11bn lower than expected
Borrowing to fall from £163bn in 2010-11 to £74bn by 2014-15 
Slow but sure emergence from the recession, hampered by a public sector drag of 52% GDP. That's why borrowing is so high, we're still borrowing, just not as much is hardly good news to the productive taxpayers who still have to pay it back.

£2.5bn support for small business to boost skills and innovation
One year business rate cut from October to help 500,000 companies
Investment allowance for small firms doubled to £100,000
Doubling relief on capital gains tax for entrepreneurs
No change to capital gains tax rates
£385m to maintain road network
Nowhere near enough.

One-off bank bonus tax has raised £2bn, double the amount forecast
Backs tax on bank transactions but on global basis
Basic bank account guaranteed for a million extra people
RBS and Lloyds Bank Group to provide £94bn in small business loans
New service to adjudicate credit disputes 
Yes it's a bonus tax, but guess where the banks will claw it back? That's right, increased bank charges for you and I. Also forcing the state banks to lend might not be such a good idea, they don't exactly have a great track record there.

Six month work or training guarantee for under 24s extended to 2012
Amount of time over-65s have to work to receive work credits reduced 
Promises, promises always promises, some will always slip through the net and it's likely to just be a paper shuffling exercise.

Tax allowances for those earning over £100,000 gradually removed
No changes to VAT or income tax planned
Inheritance tax threshold frozen for four years
Clampdown on tax avoidance to raise £500m
New tax agreements with Belize, Grenada and Dominica 
Robbing the rich as ever for Labour, just means the harder you squeeze the more likely they are to bugger off and no longer invest or spend here.

On track to achieve £11bn efficiency savings target
Reform of housing benefit to save £250m
15,000 civil servants to be relocated outside London 
Fair enough, but still small potatoes for what's a massive overspend.

£2bn investment bank to back low-carbon industries 
Wasting our money on schemes that aren't neccesary or workable.

Funding for 20,000 new university places in science and maths
£35m enterprise fund to help university-launched businesses 
Only took you 13 years to realise we need hard science as opposed to degrees in flower arranging?

Winter fuel allowance rates extended for further year

I suspect the real budget (as opposed to this electioneering budget) in June/July will really hit hard. No tax cuts (no surprise there) to help out industry and the real wealth generators of the country. Usual sop to green environmentalism despite all the evidence it doesn't work and isn't necessary.
The big surprise is that this is actually a fairly conservative budget (conservative as in a small c) no massive giveaways, no spend like there's no tomorrow. I suspect this is an Alistair Darling budget not a Gordon Brown one.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Frightening the donkeys

In the weeks leading up to the general election it's become ever more clear that the unions are getting just a tad nervous about what might happen should the Tories win and implement some fairly radical changes.

Teachers are proposing industrial action and a wave of protests to block an expansion of academies and the creation of new-style “free schools”.
The National Union of Teachers will use its annual conference in Liverpool next month to warn that Tory proposals to effectively privatise hundreds of state schools would fuel social segregation and undermine local democracy. 
Academies were first established by Labour, but the Conservatives have promised to put “rocket boosters” under the programme by dramatically expanding the number of schools run independent of local council control.
The Tories want to allow all top performing schools to become academies within months of a general election victory.
They have also pledged to introduce legislation giving parents, charities and private companies powers to open their own “free” schools. These privately-run schools would be allowed to compete for pupils at taxpayers’ expense to create more local competition and drive-up standards, the Conservatives say.
But at the union’s annual conference, activists are expected to back plans for a new wave of strikes and protests to block the expansion.
Now you'll notice that it says "teachers are proposing" when in fact it's nothing of the sort, union activists of the teaching unions are actually doing the proposing and they are probably not teachers at all but full time activists locked into their 70's style confrontational policies. Most normal teachers will stay away from the conferences as it's a) boring and b) full of socialists who haven't got an anchor to reality. So we're probably looking at some sort of teachers strike over a proposal to improve education standards. I suspect the real reason is though that schools out of state control will attract the best teachers and the state dinosaur rump will look even worse by comparison, possibly to the extent of threatening the useless teachers jobs as it will become increasingly obvious that they are not performing up to acceptable standards.
Naturally the socialist answer is to drag the good down with the bad so the useless can hide amongst them, after all if all schools perform poorly then it's the fault of anyone but the teachers. Equality is a wonderful thing, save only that it should only be applied to laws not people as people vary so much and have different requirements, needs and desires. Locking them into a one size fits all (or else) system is never going to work and will only drag down the best and brightest to the point where they'll leave, that applies to all people, teachers, pupils, engineers, doctors. We should be encouraging opportunities and not as the teaching unions are doing stifling them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Just another reason not to vote Tory

England 55 million people, Scotland 5.5 million, English constituencies 529, Scottish constituencies 59. Now it's possible that in the event of a hung parliament that Scottish, Welsh even Northern Irish MP's will hold the balance of power and will naturally seek to to gain an advantage for their countries. However the ruling party will consist of mostly English MP's voted in by English voters.

So, you'd think that someone in the Tory party would twig that making announcements that Scotland will avoid any cuts for a year whilst hitting the English full on with cuts and stealth taxes straight away is not necessarily the best way to gain ground in marginal constituencies in England.

Scotland on Sunday.
GEORGE Osborne yesterday said that he would allow the swingeing cuts planned by an incoming Conservative government to be delayed for a year in Scotland.

The Scottish Government's £30 billion budget for 2010/11 will be excluded from the round of cuts that the Conservatives will impose on the rest of the UK if they win the election.

This week the shadow chancellor is expected to identify areas whe
re draconian savings will be made in the emergency budget that a Conservative government has pledged within 50 days of coming to power.

In the first concession of its type to be given by the Treasury to Scotland, the shadow chancellor said he was prepared to postpone the cuts in Scotland for a year out of "respect" for the Holyrood budget.

Osborne warned, however, that in the long run Scotland would still have to bear its share of the pain, raising the prospect of savage cuts to the public sector after the 2011 Scottish election.

Although the Scottish Government will be given the option of sticking to its original budget for 2010/11, the savings would eventually have to be found the following financial year in 2011/12.
Ok, so the pain might be delayed, however if the cuts go well, it might be lessened the following years as the economy recovers and government income increases. Meanwhile the majority as ever seem to be getting mugged by the Tories to support their pretensions of being a unionist party north of the border. This is a purely electioneering ploy to try and increase Tory seats in Scotland and it is the English who will mostly have to make up the loss in income as the bills will still have to be paid for the next financial year even if the following year some gets paid back.
Now to me the union was always about the 4 nations being treat equally, however since devolution it's becoming increasingly obvious that the main parties in the UK parliament are prepared to cater to the minority over the needs of the majority as a sop to have an edge when it comes to close votes. That's why in England we have university fees and trust hospitals despite the majority of English MP's voting against them.
It's time this was resolved either by setting up an English parliament with a UK grand committee and using the lords as a second chamber for all. Or we dissolve this clearly unequal union and we all go our separate ways. Scotland can keep its oil and whiskey and stay in thrall to the EU, the English can and will leave the EU and make our own way in the world as a trading nation rather than having our destiny stifled by the EU trade cartel.
Option 2 for me seems best, it might be difficult times for us if we do, but at least we'll finally be back in control of our own country doing what's best for us and not everyone else.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


A gotcha moment for Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt, Geoff Hoon, Margaret Moran, with a possible link back straight to Peter Mandelson.

A FORMER Labour cabinet minister has boasted about how he used his government contacts to change policies in favour of businesses.
Stephen Byers, former trade and transport secretary, was secretly recorded offering himself “like a sort of cab for hire” for up £5,000 a day. He also suggested bringing Tony Blair to meet clients.
He was among several politicians recorded by an undercover reporter posing as a company executive looking to hire MPs for lobbying work.
The others included: 
- Patricia Hewitt, a former health secretary, who claimed she helped to obtain a key seat on a government advisory group for a client paying her £3,000 a day.
- Geoff Hoon, the former defence secretary, offered to lead delegations to ministers and told the reporter that he was looking to turn his knowledge and contacts into “something that frankly makes money”. He said he charged £3,000 a day.
- Margaret Moran, the Luton MP who was forced to pay back £22,500 in expenses, boasted that she could ring a “girls’ gang” of colleagues on behalf of clients. Among those she named were: Jacqui Smith, the former home secretary; Hazel Blears, the former communities secretary; and Harriet Harman, the deputy leader of the Labour party.
The interviews were part of a joint investigation by The Sunday Times and Channel 4’s Dispatches programme in which 13 Labour MPs and seven Conservatives were approached.
Now we all know extensive lobbying goes on at Parliament by professional lobbyists. We know that MP's more often than not have their fingers in several pies (Directorships) as well as the day job as companies try to peddle their interests by "buying" an MP. Usually though they have to declare an interest, however a quid pro quo network exists so they can swap and change as well as influence policies on behalf of a fellow MP as he does for their causes.

Seems they haven't learned, these people are scum, they treat us as fools and only deign to notice us every 4 to 5 years when they need a vote to get them back to the trough. They also wonder why their parties are shrinking, why the electorate no longer bother to vote (whilst gerrymandering the voting system in their favour) It's time and past time that measures were took to clean out this den of thieves, knaves, charlatans and traitors. They now stand in the way of democracy rather than representing the best interests of the people and we need to remove the big two and a half parties from the political map. People need to get out and vote and vote independent not for the Lib/Lab/Con pact that steals from our pockets and accepts bribes for influence.

As Cromwell put it.
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.
In the name of God, go!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ok you have my interest

I'm still considering who I'll vote for in the next general election, though to be sure it wont be any of the Big two and a half. So I'm looking at minority parties even though they almost certainly wont win, there's a chance that if they get enough votes the Lib/Lab/Con pact might just start to take notice of what people actually want as opposed to what their pollsters and lobby groups say we want.

So, UKIP have a conference going on at the moment and as with the Tory mini conference I ran an eye over them, unlike the Tory conference though, these guys at least have some policies I can get behind as opposed to a leader I think is just a Blair lite clone.


"I don't want to be rude, but..."
It's not the UK Independence Party motto, but it could be.
"This is going to be the most boring, pointless, futile general election ever held in this country."
The quip from the former UKIP leader, MEP Nigel Farage, brought the house down here.
"These prime ministerial debates will be so boring. The three main party leaders at Westminster look the same. They sound the same. And on the issues of substance, you can't put a cigarette paper between them," he adds in typically pugnacious style, to applause.
500 activists have gathered in Milton Keynes for the party's final get-together before the general election.
now a general election is imminent again, the party's trying to broaden its message - and broaden its appeal. Why?
Put simply, whilst many people may sympathise with the party's message, many don't see Europe as a big enough issue when choosing a government.
So UKIP is desperate to convince voters they are not a one-trick political pony. Yes, leaving the European Union remains their central objective, a decision that would save Britain £120bn a year, they claim.
But they are also setting out a raft of other specific, populist policies on taxes, immigration, crime, energy and the environment.
"UKIP was the first party to be sceptical about global warming," the manifesto says. "The British welfare system has become ridiculously complicated," it adds.
The party wants to introduce a flat rate of income tax, which it claims would take 4.5 million people out of tax altogether. Another policy would see a 40% increase in the defence budget.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch, the recently elected party leader, might be a millionaire former Conservative peer but he's no Nigel Farage when addressing an audience.
Hesitant and faltering at times, he rarely looked up from his notes. He's understated, but still passionate.
His twenty minute address was a mixture of conviction: "The plain fact is the only way we can address the problems of the economy and immigration is by leaving the EU" and campaigning advice: "Don't let people tell you on the doorstep a hung parliament is bad. A hung parliament is infinitely preferable to the rest of them," he said to cheers.
Ok I want out of the EU, no secret there, but so do the BNP so that's not exactly a vote winner with me, but a flat rate tax is something that I approve of, it simplifies things as does an increase in the defence budget, assuming it goes to the sharp end (equipment etc) and not bureaucracy. Being a bunch of global warming climate change sceptics helps too, kicking the environmental lobby and the green levy into touch will not hurt the economy, concentrate on pollution and waste yes, useless windfarms no. I don't think anyone does not think the welfare system is overly complex, simplification is a must, it should be a safety net for the unemployed an uncomfortable place for those who will not work and a comfort and support for those who cannot due to health/disability. Though I want to read more about how they intend to do this.
 I don't agree with their devolution policies though, I don't think we can go back to having grand committees for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, though at least UKIP seem to realise that the problem has to be dealt with as opposed to being worried about.
UKIP claim to be the real Tories, I can see where they are coming from on this, they are offering what a real Tory would want.
More on their policies and its manifesto.

As for the Conservative party well yesterday they announced that they were to introduce a carbon levy. Definitely not a vote winner, it's a stealth tax and frankly I think we pay too much in tax already and don't need anymore.

So, UKIP have my interest, I'll have a look at the other minority parties soon to see what they have to offer.

Mann oh Mann

Via Rantin' Rab:

Tell me about the money, John

John Mann MP gets a bit touchy when he asked about an expenses repayment he made of £2,395.02

He says he claimed it on the wrong forms, and can't be arsed to reclaim it.

Every time somebody asks him about it, they're threatened with a libel action.

So, how about it, John, sue me if you like, but tell me what the money was for.

 As other have said, cut and paste to your blog, he can't sue us all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Removing our deterrent

The UK is a nuclear power, some people don't like this, however that's the way it is even if we did keep our nukes safely under lock and key away with a bicycle lock. Part of this means that we have nuclear submarines patrolling unseen and undetected around areas we see as threats or assets (Yes Argies if you fancy another Belgrano incident come and have a go) Now there is some dispute as to whether or not the nukes we have are actually under American control (as in we can't fire one without their permission) but the subs themselves aren't, nor are they under EU control as yet, though that may be about to change.

France has offered to create a joint UK-French nuclear deterrent by sharing submarine patrols, the Guardian has learned.
Officials from both countries have discussed how a deterrence-sharing scheme might work but Britain has so far opposed the idea on the grounds that such pooling of sovereignty would be politically unacceptable.
In a speech this morning in London, Gordon Brown said he had agreed to further nuclear co-operation with France last week after talks with Nicolas Sarkozy. The prime minister did not comment explicitly about submarines, saying only that the UK and France would both retain "our independent nuclear deterrent".
Britain and France each maintain "continuous at-sea deterrence", which involves running at least one nuclear-armed submarine submerged and undetected at any given time. It is a hugely expensive undertaking, and its usefulness in a post-cold war world has long been questioned by disarmament campaigners.
Yes it's expensive, but, considering the fact that many countries out there are developing a nuclear option probably necessary. As even if they manage to  disable or take out a land target, they'll never know where or when our revenge will come from, that's the whole point of deterrence. Yet if we share patrols we also agree to take on the interests of the French, whose interests are not and have not ever been in ours. We may share common ground, but we certainly don't have the same world view or same purpose in government. This would leave us having to consult or perhaps get permission to use our forces in our best interests, which may not be in the interests of our EU neighbours, certainly wasn't during the last Falklands war when the Belgians refused to supply us with ammo.
Personally I think all our military needs should be produced here and under our control, even if made under license, certainly at least the ammo. We should however remove the military procurement regime from the MOD, if we need to buy, let us get the best value for money, if it means buying from abroad (helicopters and the like) see if we can build here under license, but get it here, train our people again in manufacture and keep the EU at arms length on the one part of our sovereignty that allows us to defend ourselves.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Chickens coming home to roost.

To be honest I'm a little amazed by the trade union movement in recent weeks, Labour were clawing their way back into contention over the election, they'd had a propaganda coup with Lord Ashcroft (whatever the real truth of the matter) because some people can't tell the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. Cameron was (and is) appearing to be a very weak leader with no real fire in his gut to deal with the issues that are important to the public even going out of his way to drop cast iron promises in his rush to avoid controversy. Nor despite the most hated and reviled government in centuries have the Tories managed to hit the back of the net with an open goal in front of them, appearing to want to be more blue Labour than Conservatives.
Fortunately when it comes to having the odd mad relative that nobody talks about Labour are second to none. They have their union backers (and owners) ready willing and able to drop them right in it just before a general election. And there's nothing Labour can do except grit their teeth and accept it despite the savaging they know they're going to get over it. Might even cost them the election, probably will.

GORDON Brown was last night dragged into a raging political firestorm over Labour’s links with trade union militants.
The Prime Minister faced embarrassment when it emerged that the salary and pension of one of his key aides is funded entirely by Unite, the union embroiled in the British Airways dispute.
And the row intensified when Unite’s political director Charlie Whelan openly intervened in the run up to the election by declaring: “We want a Labour government.”
 Well done Charlie Whelan, you might just have managed to pluck defeat from the jaws of victory with that little gem. People like me (who actually go out and vote) remember what the 70's were like with little tinpot Stalin's like you and Bob Crowe (RMT) about. We remember the beer and sandwich talks in Downing Street as you held the country to ransom. We also remember the bitter cost of putting the unions back in their place when it went too far and destroyed our manufacturing base because your lot couldn't be trusted not to strike over the quality of the loo paper. We used to have a deep mining coal industry one that today could be producing enough clean coal to power our nation. But no, you got greedy, you has a political agenda and you ended up wrecking the country.

People like me remember this, which is why you may have cost labour the election.

Well done that man.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

General obfuscation

When a weight-loss company decided to recruit a paid "couch potato" to eat high fat foods, it advertised for a "product testing associate". It seems the longer the title the less a job it is.

Generic DIP practitioner. This means they work with people who misuse drugs and alcohol - DIP standing for Drugs Intervention Programme.

Waste management and disposal technician. In other words, a bin man. 

Senior systems, applications and telephony engineer / procurement manager / 3rd line. Dogsbody or jack of all trades.

Information advisor. Not that weird, but I actually a university librarian.

Direct debit and membership and professional development stock and credit administrator. Admin assistant.

Surround mastering & restoration engineer. Sound technician (music industry)

Communications executive. In others words, telesales person

Investment development and research analyst, which is a long-winded way of saying technical helpdesk.

Worldwide marine asset financial analyst. An accountant.

Further examples here.

I don't know why they do it, it usually doesn't mean any more money, nor I expect prestige. I suppose it could come down to the fact that you catch more flies with honey type of thinking, though I doubt you fool that many people in the job.
I know English is a remarkably adaptable language and constantly fluid in that it's being modified, added too on a constant basis worldwide. We grab words from other languages on a daily basis and don't have (or need) anything like the French Toubon Laws or an Association pour la Défense de la Langue Française to protect English at all, nor I doubt would ever see the need for one.
Yet we have an almost ridiculous tendency among bureaucracies and administrators to come up with some incredibly complex titles for basic functions.
Yet one of the joys of English is to call a spade a spade and not a portable, hand-operated digging implement.

Some people just can't seem to resist it though.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A higher potential for abuse

The polling system has always had the potential for abuse "vote early vote often" is one of the oft humorous maxims used to describe the various ways that people and pressure groups have used to abuse the electoral system in this country and others in the past. However with falling voter numbers, political parties have looked to other methods than getting people to simply turn up at a polling station, postal voting was always allowable for the sick and elderly as well as those who had recently moved away from their constituency, though a massive can of worms was opened up by Labours tampering with the ease by which it could be done. It's suspected and their have been prosecutions that a massive amount of vote farming goes on in some communities where one person uses the votes of their families to vote en-mass for a particular candidate without the individuals even seeing their voting cards.

Yet I suspect that this will pale into insignificance when this little stunner finally gets the go ahead.


Online voting would reform Victorian electoral system, watchdog says

Voters should be allowed to select their MP online as part of moves to update Britain’s 19th century electoral system, under recommendations from the election watchdog. 

People should also be able to vote at polling stations throughout the weekend, according to Jenny Watson, the chair of the Electoral Commission.
She also warned that the election night drama of counts around the clock to determine the winner by morning “might not be workable” because postal voting had to be rigorously checked, which is time-consuming.
Watson, in an interview with the Guardian newspaper, said the current system was based on Victorian ideas about the way people lived.
She said: “This is the 21st century, we all have completely different understanding of technology, the way we live our lives, people move away to university, for work.
“People live with people they are not related to. We cannot go on with a system that assumes we all stay in the same local areas, live with an extended family and are able to walk around the corner and be known by the polling agent to vote.
“We want to have a debate that says if we wanted to do democracy differently, in a modern way, while keeping local links, how would be do it?”
She added that the system was designed at a time when at most 5 million people voted but is now stretched to cater for 44 million.
The results of this year’s general election could be more unpredictable than usual, she said, because reforms now allow people to join the voter register up to 11 days before an election could boost turnout.
Can you see the potential problems here of say the political party in charge getting the system hacked to change a few votes in a few key constituencies? Or hackers deleting the system or altering it to suit certain vocal or extreme lobbying groups and their candidates? How about the households with 1 pc and several voters? At least at a polling station there's an outside chance of someone spotting a double or multiple voter, not as if you can ask for all your communities voting slips and certainly not collect them as they're delivered by post as has been done by a few local constituencies.

The three main parties today refused to stop interfering in postal vote applications, defying advice from returning officers and the Electoral Commission.
Evidence has emerged that Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are "farming" postal vote applications - asking people to return their forms to campaign offices rather than the official authorities.
It's simple enough, the political parties can and will attempt to interfere in voting, the more out of sight it is, the more they are likely to try, all have money, all have talented people all have the desire to gain power.The system we had might have been Victorian, but it was far more difficult to defraud, far more difficult to hack, easier to guard and merely required time to count.

Perhaps we should be looking more at ways to get people off their bums and into polling stations rather than make it easy for them not to turn up at all and have their votes "misappropriated" Voting should be made a privilege as well as a right and politicians as well as political parties should look to revising the entire electoral system to make it relevant to all rather than the various special interest groups and lobbying firms.
Compulsory voting might help, provided that an option of "None of the above" is on the voting slip.
Reform the system rather than make it easy/more liable to fiddle is what's needed to be done, not another means to corrupt the poll.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

It's the end of the world as we know it...........possibly

Well the clock is running and a deadline set for an Orange Dwarf Star to smash into the solar system.

But it's okay--we have about 1.5 million years... so even Gordon Brown might be able to save us by then (possibly not this is Labour we're talking about)

A new set of star velocity data indicates that Gliese 710 has an 86 percent chance of ploughing into the Solar System within the next 1.5 million years.

The Solar System is surrounded by thousands of stars, but until recently it wasn't at all clear where they were all heading.

In 1997, however, astronomers published the Hipparcos Catalogue giving detailed position and velocity measurements of some 100,000 stars in our neighbourhood, all gathered by the European Space Agency's Hipparcos spacecraft. It's fair to say that the Hipparcos data has revolutionised our understanding of the 'hood.

In particular, this data allowed astronomers to work out which stars we'd been closer to in the past and which we will meet in the future. It turns out that 156 stars fall into this category and that the Sun has a close encounter with another star (meaning an approach within 1 parsec) every 2 million years or so.

In 2007, however, the Hipparcos data was revised and other measurements of star velocities have since become available. How do these numbers change the figures?

Today, Vadim Bobylev at the Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in St Petersburg gives us the answer. He's combined the Hipparcos data with several new databases and found an additional nine stars that have either had a close encounter with the Sun or are going to.

But he's also made a spectacular prediction. The original Hipparcos data showed that an orange dwarf star called Gliese 710 is heading our way and will arrive sometime within the next 1.5 million years.

Of course, trajectories are difficult to calculate when the data is poor so nobody has really been sure about what's going to happen.

What the new data has allowed Bobylev to do is calculate the probability of Gliese 710 smashing into the Solar System. What he's found is a shock.

He says there is 86 percent chance that Gliese 710 will plough through the Oort Cloud of frozen stuff that extends some 0.5 parsecs into space.

That may sound like a graze but it is likely to have serious consequences. Such an approach would send an almighty shower of comets into the Solar System which will force us to keep our heads down for a while. And a probability of 86 percent is about as close to certainty as this kind of data can get.

The good news is that Bobylev says the chances of Gliese 710 penetrating further into the Solar System, inside the Kuiper Belt, are much smaller, just 1 in a 1000. So that's all right, then.

Keep calm and carry on.
Yay comets. Hopefully by then, if humanity is still around, they'll have the technology to move them around then again I suspect that if we haven't reached that level of tech in a million and change years, it will indeed be because we are not around.

I plan to still be around to see this. I'm not sure how, but it will happen. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

So, about that payrise?

I was surprised to say the least when the posties in Royal Mail managed to get a payrise of 6.9% over 3 years, at the time I thought it mere electioneering on the part of the unions to avoid embarrassing strikes before the general election, the sort that get Labour thrown out of office (I discount the rail strike as the RMT oddly have no ties to Labour, being basically run by communists)
So this little gem raised an eyebrow here as well as my blood pressure.


Royal Mail's claims that nine out of 10 letters and parcels are delivered the next day have been thrown into doubt after an investigation caught staff "systematically" trying to fix performance figures. 

Postcomm, the postal regulator, found that countless workers - from postmen to area managers - were involved in a widespread operation to intercept mail sent out by an independent monitoring company.
Staff worked out how to identify "test" letters posted to monitor deliveries, and gave them priority treatment to ensure they arrived on time. 
The scandal is thought to have been going on for at least eight years. Senior bosses, including Adam Crozier, the chief executive, have been paid tens of thousands of pounds in bonuses based on the company's "service quality" figures, which include data on delivery times.
Although there was no evidence that senior executives were aware of what was going on, a report by Postcomm said some managers "may have received bonus payments to which they were not entitled" since they were "based on recorded levels of quality of service which were incorrectly monitored and recorded".
The report also condemns Royal Mail's board for "significant corporate failings" in being ignorant of the problem, which came to light only after a whistle-blower contacted Postcomm. Several postal workers have been suspended and face disciplinary action.
So, not only were they lying about the delivery times, they used said figures to demand bonuses and no doubt used said figures in their claims for the payrise too.
This looks like complicity throughout the industry to deceive the public and also to defraud us too as public money continues to be pumped into Royal Mail to make up for its lack of profits.
Now I don't have that much of an issue supporting some sort of national postal service even if it can't be run at a profit (though I suspect it could) but it does seem that the whole business is run by the Royal Mail for the benefit of the Royal Mail from top management to low paid postal workers, complete with strongarm union tactics to demand that we keep paying out on fraudulent claims of delivery times.
Until that culture is challenged and changed I don't think they are worth the money they are getting.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Power corrupts

Politics is all about power and the use of power. We elect politicians to fulfil a set of promises (aka their manifesto) in order to make our lives better or sort out a set of issues that's currently making our lives less pleasant. Or that was the theory anyway. I know we've always had corrupt politicians, occasionally they've been outed and dealt with, sometimes by political pressure from their parties, oft times enough by public outrage forcing the hand of the political parties. Yet I've noticed recently that the stench of corruption has become that much greater in this current government (including the government in opposition) and it seems to be tied to a lack of conviction politics coupled with a lack of vision for the country as a whole. By this I mean a positive vision, it's become ever more apparent that Gordon Browns vision encompasses Gordon Brown, his leadership cabal, the Labour Party/anything anti the Tory party, Scotland and the UK in pretty much that order. Cameron seems equally to be surrounding himself with people that think his way as well as parachuting like minded and obliged candidates into safe seats in a sort of Romanesque patron client system.
Yet it all boils down to the same, politicians are increasingly putting themselves and their parties first and no longer seem to have the best interests of the public at heart but rather hold their own masters in the EU and elsewhere's interests first and foremost.

Yet all governments suffer a recurring problem in that power attracts pathological personalities. It isn't that power corrupts, but that power is a magnet to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on political power, a condition to which they become addicted and this has never been so apparent in UK politics over the last 13 years, though I suppose some would point to Thatcher as at least a catalyst for the current rogue crop of corrupt/corruptible politicians. Yet what we have is a situation where politicians will hold onto power and influence way beyond the bounds of decency and good taste, even returning to said power after the heat dies down (Yes I'm looking at you Mandelson and Blunkett).

What this situation eventually leads to is reform, either internally (best way) or by revolutionary means, complete with the hijacking of the revolution by extremists, usually of the left and usually leading to oppressive dictatorships in the name of the people but not remotely connected to them.

So, where will the UK be in say 5 years time if the current leaders (and their successors) follow the paths to EU serfdom and/or the deliberate destruction and dismemberment of England? I suspect support for the BNP and UKIP will rise to the extent of threatening the status quo in UK politics and some excuse will be found to crack down on them, there's already a civil contingencies act in place to do this. We'll be further burdened down by an intrusive authoritarian state interfering in areas of our lives it really has no business being in. Political dissent will become increasingly harder to do, bloggers will probably be open to libel actions by the states secretive paymasters all in all we'll be heading towards revolution as dissent is crushed and people see the iron fist beneath the velvet glove.

The winners will probably be the extremists, though they'll just sow the seeds of the next revolution.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Trust has to be earned

I got a letter today from Medway NHS about the Summary Care Record which is a secure electronic summary of crucial health information which could make a major difference to my care if I'm unable to tell NHS staff the details myself.

I suspect they will fool a lot of people into opting into it by default, as opting out requires downloading a form and taking it along to your local GP (by June 10th 2010)  telling them not to bother putting you on it.

Personally I'll be opting out for the simple reason I don't trust the government and by proxy the NHS with my personal data either from abuse or simply just leaving it for anyone to find on a bus, train, taxi or landfill site.

Telegraph. 2007 figures
A record 37 million items of personal data went missing last year, new research reveals.
Most of the data was lost by government officials but councils, NHS trusts, banks, insurance companies and chain stores also mislaid or published personal information about staff or members of the public.
Many losses were caused through CDs going missing in the post, laptop thefts, and inadequate security systems that failed to stop hackers reading information stored on computers.
The details lost included those of names, addresses, passports, bank and mortgage accounts, credit cards, hospital records, dates of birth, national insurance numbers, driving licences and telephone numbers.

Data Loss Examples in 2008:

NHS: The NHS lost a lot of data in 2008, with a selection of examples below:
Sooner or later you'll all get a letter like this, it's up to you as to whether or not you trust them, personally I don't and I'd reccomend you don't give them the data either.

And what's with the having to download the opt out form? Some people don't have internet access still. Sounds like a con to make sure we all sign up regardless.

Trust has to be earned, quite frankly they can't be trusted if past efforts are anything to go on.

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    England betrayed

    One of the few constants about various polls with regard to the English and what they really want is that support for our own parliament remains high as does our disdain for the EU (not Europe).
    One of the few constants about various politicians of either of the main parties is that they choose to ignore these findings.

    William Hague was once thought of as being EUsceptic, turns out he isn't.

    Financial Times.
    William Hague said on Tuesday that the Conservatives had made “a strategic decision” not to pick a fight with Europe if they won the election, insisting that a Tory government would be “highly active and activist in European affairs from day one”.
    The UK shadow foreign secretary said the priority was to sort out Britain’s fiscal crisis, which he claimed had diminished the country’s standing in the world, adding: “We have enough on our hands without an instant confrontation with the EU.”
    In an interview with the Financial Times that will reassure the heads of some big companies and concern hardline Eurosceptics within his own party, he added: “It will not be our approach to go and bang on the table and say immediately we demand A, B, C.”
    Once again showing that the main parties just don't get it. We don't want the Tories to go and bang on the table and make demands, we want them to say to the EU, bye bye and thanks for nothing. We want out, it's as simple as that, we don't want negotiations, we don't want compromise we just want to see the back of them, their petty rules, their destruction of our fishing industry, their control of our parliament and their manipulation of our foreign policies and sovereignty.
    Removing the EU from the equation would also allow a massive financial windfall to be directed into repairing the economy, funny how our EUphile Tories fail to mention that, strange how they ignored the fact that their popularity in the polls nosedived when Cameron reneged on a certain cast iron promise on the EU too. They like to point to the fact that polls show that the EU is not a massive factor in peoples voting intentions, but it's still there, the elephant in the room so to speak. People may not rate the EU high on their political radars, but they know what's behind a lot of the legislation that makes our lives a misery day in day out.
    It's the same for English votes on English laws. The political leadership of the main parties hate the idea because sooner or later it will lead to an English parliament, the demand is growing because the EUphiles in charge of the main parties ignore the anti English element in regionalism in their attempts to divide and conquer the English. That's why fringe parties like the BNP and UKIP are growing because the mainstream parties aren't offering us anything we want. That's why fringe groups like the EDL are growing and becoming more vocal, it's because the main parties have forgotten where their core support comes from and have wandered off to gain the support of minorities as well as slavishly implement EU guidelines that may work for some countries, but do not work so well for England.

    There are Tory supporters out there who are begging the lost voters to return to them simply to get Labour out, it's a sort of blackmail in that a vote for anyone but the Tories will let Labour back in. They forget that Team Cameron isn't offering the English anything that we want in fact is offering something we don't want and that is deeper closer co-operation with the EU along with Scottish and Welsh interference in English only laws and statutes.

    Offer us something we want and we'll vote for you, simply not being Labour was never enough.

    Tuesday, March 9, 2010

    Cast Iron promises

    One of the more interesting memes trundling about the area of the political blogosphere that interests me has been the contention that Cameron and the Tories are trying to lose the election because they fear what has to be done might destroy or make the party unelectable, so why not let Labour clean up their mess and go the way of the dodo instead. Whilst it might be amusing to watch Labour go cap in hand to the IMF and then have to face their militant public service unions (who own them lock stock and barrel) and tell them the party's over and kiss your safe comfy gold plated pensioned job goodbye, it's not going to happen, Labour would be forced to hold a general election in order to do what would be unthinkable for them, one that they'd lose, one that they'd do their best to lose too, because they aren't idiots, they know facing the unions is a no win situation for them.
    Yet it does seem as if Cameron is trying his best to lose. The rot set in when his promised referendum on Lisbon had to be dropped because it was ratified. Instead of offering a full referendum on the EU, he opted to fudge the issue with lines drawn into the sand about sovereignty and clawing back powers, something that anyone who has read Lisbon knows isn't going to happen, the EU takes, it does not give when it comes to power.

    Secondly in a rising tide of English nationalism and disquiet about Scottish and Welsh MP's voting on English only bills in parliament he decides to fudge that issue too with Ken (EU) Clark coming up with a set of proposals that keeps the Scots and the Welsh in the loop for all the votes merely excluding them from some of the committee stage. Something that in fact satisfied no-one and irritated the English who would normally support the Tory party.

    Finally today it turns out that the promise to get rid of the Regional Development Agencies is not going to happen either...

    Western Morning News.
    THE Conservatives have admitted they will not scrap regional development agencies as they seek to end policy confusion just weeks before the General Election.
    Two members of David Cameron's senior team, including former Chancellor Ken Clarke, were forced to send a memo to all Tory MPs in the hope of finally clarifying their proposals.
     RDA's are part of the dismemberment of England into regions so beloved by the EU, Labour and socialists in general, mostly because they know how EU skeptic the English are and see it as a means of divide and conquer and keeping us under control. The one chance the English had to vote on the matter was rejected out of hand, not that democracy has ever held back the EU, Labour or socialists for very long, having had the measures rejected, they went ahead and did it anyway.

    So, what are the Tories up too? Are they really trying to throw the election? Or are they under orders from their EU masters (The Tory leadership that is) not to interfere with EU strictures and so can't win because they can't be Tories.

    I think I'd like to know.

    Monday, March 8, 2010

    Letting go of the past

    3 years ago now I was diagnosed with cancer, an aggressive malignant tumour had taken residence in my right upper arm near the elbow and was growing fast. It took a few weeks to realise it wasn't a haematoma or a sports injury and by January 2007 I had an appointment with a specialist consultant in the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. 7 weeks of radiotherapy then an operation successfully removed the tumour, but left me missing half my bicep and some radial nerve damage, but still alive and still with an arm.

    I used to be pretty good with a guitar, still would be if it wasn't for the nerve damage, I can still do the fret movements for chords and pick work but what I can't do anymore is strum properly or finger pick, the fine motor control is gone along with full control over the wrist (don't hold anything for me if I attempt to hammer it, really just don't!)

    So tomorrow I have decided to sell my guitar, it cost a lot of money at the time and is still "as new" the case is a damned good one too in mint condition, yet I doubt that I'll get  as good a price, not that I expect too.
    Yet still I'm reluctant, I know I can't play and yet I feel bad about selling it. Mind you I am a bit of a packrat, I still have boxes of tools in the loft that I doubt I'll ever use again, this is on top of my now unused working tools.

    Still I am going to take up a new hobby, though I haven't quite decided yet what it will be, probably ornamental wrought ironwork, so the sale of the guitar will cover the cost of a welder and some bending tools and I'll give that a go. Just hope the world is ready for another faux artisan with a weird taste in plantpot holder design and candlesticks.

    Others that can't seem to let go of the past though are the public service unions.


    Civil servants go on 48-hour strike over redundancy pay
    Civil servants have started a 48-hour strike in protest at cuts to redundancy pay.
    Up to 270,000 civil servants are taking part in the action, which will hit courts, ports, jobcentres, benefit offices, tax centres and emergency police call centres.
    The walkout by members of the Public and Commercial Services union is the biggest outbreak of industrial unrest in the service since 1987, with further disruption planned in the run-up to the general election.
    The union is protesting over changes to the Civil Service compensation scheme, which it says will ''rob'' civil servants of up to a third of their entitlements, worth thousands of pounds, when they leave their jobs.
    MPs warned there was ''growing consternation'' on the Labour backbenches over the dispute, especially as it had flared so close to the election.
    John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) said: ''The Government has severely under-estimated the strength of feeling among civil servants and the anger that's built up and led to this dispute.
    ''It is critical now that the Government returns to the negotiation table to avoid further disruption. This dispute could be resolved easily with flexibility from the Government.''
    I doubt the government can resolve it, they've run out of money, the unions don't seem to realise this so they're striking, not to stop the redundancies but to hold on to the redundancy money. I doubt they even realise that the average wage for a public sector worker is around £25K a year which is about £70 a day. They're striking for 2 days for which they'll get no pay saving us, the taxpayer, around £30 million roughly, wonder if that might cover the payments.

    I don't think the public service unions have moved into the present yet, they still live in the past and act like it, the private sector rarely strikes because we can't afford too, all the public service unions are showing is that they  don't live in the same world as the rest of us. Nor will they win, the cupboard is bare, the government has wasted it all on administrators and civil servants to the point where they can't even pay them redundancy to get rid of them.

    Sooner or later though the public services are going to have to realise, like me and my guitar that the world has changed and holding on to something that's past is counter-productive and does them no good at all. The world has changed, not necessarily for the better, but the rest of us have adapted and moved on, we don't strike, we don't automatically get pay rises and we don't get protected pensions and we don't sympathise with them either.

    My world has moved on, time they did too.

    Sunday, March 7, 2010

    Oh yeah, that'll work..............................not.

    Efficient government, it's almost an oxymoron, especially when used in the context of UK government. State control inevitably means corruption, indifference, higher cost, lower output and an all consuming jobsworth attitude where those at the frontline take secondary importance to the bureaucracy doing the unnecessary paperwork on their cultural diversity.
    So it beats me why Peter Odell, a professor at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and an adviser to OPEC wants to place oil production in the hands of the government.

    Guardian. (A probable clue, only the idiotic left still believe in nationalisation)
    Ministers must wrench back control of oil and gas production from the private sector if Britain is to maximise the value of the remaining reserves in the North Sea, a respected petroleum academic has warned.
    Peter Odell, a professor at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and an adviser to OPEC, wants a state-controlled strategic offshore hydrocarbons authority to ensure big oil companies work more in the national interest.
    In a new book soon to be published, he argues: "UK oil and gas production has been steadily declining since 1999. The reason is that the UK government, unlike those of most other countries, has abandoned oil and gas production to the private sector and has failed to create attractive conditions for private companies to invest more.
    He adds: "The government should follow the example of Norway and many other countries by setting up a hydrocarbons authority, which would initiate new private-public partnerships to engage in offshore oil and gas production. This would generate many billions of pounds in highly-needed revenues."
    Well we've all seen how well PFI works in this country, we're now in hock to private companies for the building of various infrastructures as they've consistently overcharged us owing to government incompetence in sorting out the contracts. So why should we trust a UK government to get it right this time, particularly as the oil companies way outclass any government when it comes to negotiating contracts.

    "With elections coming up, and the UK finding itself in dire financial straits, this moment represents a golden opportunity for political parties to radically change the UK's hydrocarbons policy, which has served this country very poorly indeed. Such a change would correct a historical mistake and generate many billions of pounds in new revenues."
     Ah gotcha, it's a tax scam and I smell the pungent aroma of EU interference too. Whilst the oilfield are in private hands the government have no real control over production and profits. Put the fields into government hands and just watch the profits shift to the coffers of the EU as no doubt an amendment to Lisbon will transfer sovereignty of oil production as an EU supranational competence.
    Might be worth it even if it's just to laugh at anyone claiming "It's Scotland's oil" But overall, I don't think government ought to have anything to do with it, they'd only muck it up big style and destroy a profitable industry by running it into the ground.

    Saturday, March 6, 2010

    Doing the best for your kids

    It's a natural thing wanting the best for your kids, most parents will try and get them in the best schools they can in the areas they live and often a bit further if they think they can get away with it, especially if they can't afford private education (like most politicians can strangely enough).

    Local councils across England have revealed how children's school places had been cancelled or frozen amid concerns families lied on application forms.
    Many parents are suspected of submitting false addresses in the catchment areas of the most sought-after secondary schools. 
    The admissions watchdog has already suggested that the use of relatives’ addresses – normally grandparents with the same surname – is among the most common scam by parents attempting to play the system.
    Other families have been found renting homes close to the best schools or even swapping houses with friends.
    More than one-in-10 councils contacted by The Daily Telegraph said they had already uncovered examples of cheating in secondary school admissions. The numbers are expected to climb further in coming weeks as schools submit fresh evidence.
    The disclosure comes just days after 10- and 11-year-olds across England were told which state secondary school they had got into for September.
    In a report, Ian Craig, the Chief Schools Adjudicator, said many parents were employing “quite bizarre” tactics to cheat the system.
    Speaking last week, Dr Craig said: “Although I had initially started off thinking that criminalisation might be a good thing, I think it became very clear that no political party was going to imprison parents for fraudulent applications.” 
    Apparently there are some people out there that think parents wanting the best for their kids are criminals, making cheating  a criminal offence. Personally I think if all schools were as good as each other we wouldn't have a problem, that's not to say I think they should all be the same, just all pretty good as opposed to certain schools in certain areas getting hit by multiple applications and other being the last resort in a war zone. Of course many schools are only as good as the parents input themselves so a change in philosophy is needed too where everyone's involved in the education of kids. Dropping the state sanctioned propaganda would help too, Britishness lessons, religions, global warming climate change all stuff that they don't really need. A good grounding in English, maths and hard science would help.
    Education is a serious business, unfortunately it's one of the few areas politicians in the UK can really interfere as just about everything else is controlled by the EU. This means its become an area of endless meddling for political point scoring.
    Perhaps it's too serious a subject to allow politicians anywhere near it, assuming it can be sorted out.

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Alright for some

    Now I don't really have a problem with people getting paid what they are worth, I'm aware that many are low paid and that some people get what seems to an ordinary guy like me extraordinary amounts of money, but that's the way the market works and some are just lucky and it doesn't stress me or get my blood pressure skyrocketing.
    MP's however are a different kettle of fish as they have power (to some degree) over me and I pay their wages as does everyone that pays tax and so I expect high standards of behaviour, honesty and hard work, just like my employer does of me. What I get though is a bunch of crooks fiddling the system and handing over the duties I elected them to do to a foreign government, they even ignore the country I live in and seem determined never to mention it unless pressed and want to Balkanise it into bite size chunks to stop us being a threat to said foreign government (by leaving) who doesn't want to lose a nice cash cow.
    So MP's are getting a pay rise.

    MPs will get a rise of nearly £1,000 in their basic salary from 1 April, taking their pay to £65,737 a year.
    The 1.5% increase follows uproar at the MPs' expenses scandal and anger among public sector unions at pay freezes.
    MPs used to vote on their pay but now recommendations by the Senior Salaries Review Body go through automatically.
    The government says ministers will turn down the rise. One union said the rise did not "seem right" when "low paid" council workers' salaries were frozen.
    The Local Government Association has said 1.4 million workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will get no rise as authorities try to protect front-line services and minimise job losses.
    Downing Street said ministers would not take any rise, either in their basic MPs' pay or their additional ministerial salaries.
    Cabinet ministers currently get an extra £79,754 per year, giving them a total salary of £144,520.
    A No 10 spokeswoman said: "The prime minister is clear that we need to strengthen public confidence in the political system and reduce the cost of politics."
     Now I didn't get a pay rise last year, might not get one this year either so I look at those who are taking my taxes and wonder just what the hell it is they're playing at, same goes for local councils as well. Seems just about everyone's dipping their hands in my pockets yet giving me lower levels of service. The EU now legislate over huge swaths of competence in this country, our MP's just rubber stamp it, they aren't allowed to change it, so why bother reading it, they have civil servants for that. So doesn't seem like I'm getting value for money there either, they also claim expenses way past what seems logical or honest bending the rules or often enough breaking them to the point where the abuses seemed the norm rather than one offs by the odd rogue. All my costs will/have gone up this year, rent, council tax, fuel, food etc. And I'm part of a productive minority paying my way so to speak, yet I'm getting very little this year and I understand why, it's a recession, my companies struggling to survive, this year will be better we hope, but hope doesn't mean a pay rise.
    Personally I don't think I get value for money from the government (all of it, national, local, even international) so I don't think they're worth a pay rise, no doubt they disagree but it's still my money (and yours probably) In fact I do believe because at national level they've delegated so much of our sovereignty and authority to the EU they should actually get a pay cut of about say 80% in line with EU regulation compared to actual work that they do.
    A better way would be of course to tie MP's salaries to the national average with a decent well monitored and enforced expenses scheme including a room in a hostel for the night near Westminster. I think we'd soon see the national average wage rise.
    I doubt they'd want performance related pay, a lot of them would end up owing money rather than receiving it.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Well something good has come from an earthquake

    The recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile have been terrible human tragedies, but in true "The Office" style there's always a silver lining.

    The Chilean earthquake has shortened the length of the day by making the Earth rotate faster, according to Nasa scientists.
    But you might not have noticed, as it was only by about one-millionth of a second.
    Richard Gross has revealed the disaster, which has killed at least 795 people, shortened the length of a day by about 1.26 microseconds. A microsecond is one millionth of a second.
     So make the most of it before the government or your employers tax you for the loss of earnings.

    In other news seems the Equalities Quango decided that they should make some of their staff redundant and then rehire them.

    "Serious errors" were made in the way the UK equalities watchdog was set up - at a cost of nearly £39m - the Commons spending watchdog has said.
    Three bodies were replaced by the new Equality and Human Rights Commission - seven staff members who took severance pay were rehired at a cost of £338,708.
    The process was "patently flawed" and "major issues" remained, a report said.
    The commission said it had been under "extreme pressure" when it was set up in 2007 and was making improvements.
    It also said its interim boss - who has been paid £1,000 a day from May 2009 - was being brought onto the staff payroll on a salary of £150,000, as his contract had been extended until September.
    In a highly critical report, the Commons public accounts committee echoed concerns first expressed by the National Audit Office last year.
    Oh well, who cares it's not as if it's our money is it......................oh hang on.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    So what would you like us to do about it?

    It never ceases to amaze me at the sheer amount of people in the world that seem to blame this country for problems that we can't do anything about.
    Take Jacob Zuma for example.

    Zuma begins state visit with scathing attack on Britain's colonial past
    As President Zuma, the South African President, began his three-day state visit to Britain today, his official welcome by the Queen was, depending on one’s point of view, either the best of British pomp and pageantry, or an anachronistic reminder of our colonial past (the ostrich feathers on the hat worn by the Master of the Horse being a bit of a giveaway there).
    For the sake of international relations one would hope it was the former, for as Mr Zuma and his wife began their visit, the President had some scathing things to say about Britain’s past.
    “When the British came to our country they said everything we did was barbaric, was wrong, inferior in whatever way,” he said.
    “I don’t know why they are continuing thinking that their culture is more superior than others.
    I don't recall my culture being a Boer culture, I don't remember my culture having the charming culture of "Necklacing" I do remember reading about the Zulu nation being warlike and conquering all their neighbours though. Playing the race card at an international level is usually a precursor to asking for sympathy money, getting us to pay for past grievances (or hush money as it's also known) Though mostly in this case it's a matter of trying to deflect criticism about having 3 wives (though only the MSM seems to give a shit about this)
    Yes the British conquered the Zulu's, yes we imposed some of our culture on them, you'd think Mr Zuma would be grateful though as Zulu's didn't have elected presidents or control over all South Africa either. However it wasn't Britain behind the Apartheid state nor were we the architects of all the current troubles in Southern Africa either. Were we still in control I doubt you'd have all the tribal infighting, corruption and riots still happening in South Africa and Zimbabwe would still be the bread basket of the area as opposed to the basket case.
    I don't think British culture is superior, but I'm damned if I can accept criticism from Jacob Zuma about what happened 150 years ago especially as it relates to today. He wants 3 wives fine, his culture allows it, he wants to criticise the British today over what happened before anyone now living was born, he can go to hell.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    So, what did you expect after leaving a job half done?

    There were many reasons for Labour allowing devolution to the Scots and Welsh, they included the desire of those nations to have (some) control over their destinies in the union, fairness and freedom from Westminster, particularly Tory interference. The hidden reason that was never mentioned of course was that Labour felt that they would always be in control over those nations via their assemblies and parliaments.
    Well things change and 10 years down the road, the SNP are the largest party in the Scottish Parliament and are setting the agenda and in Wales Labour govern only with the help of Plaid Cymru although they are the largest party.
    The English were of course taken for granted in all this, it never even crossed Labours mind that there would be sooner or later a resentment in England of the devolved powers given to Scotland and Wales.
    Slowly but surely though the chickens are coming home to roost and Labour are suddenly having to deal with the "English problem" as the desire for an English Parliament grows.

    Support for an English Parliament has grown from 18% to 29% in the past 10 years, according to a survey.
    The poll shows the trend is matched by a rise in the number of people in England who feel Scotland receives more than its fair share of UK public money.
    Out of 980 people questioned by think tank the IPPR, 40% now feel the system is unfair, compared with 22% in 2003.
    The IPPR said English people were "increasingly frustrated" with "the impact of the devolution settlement".
    The research was carried out by the left-leaning Institute for Public Policy Research and NatCen, a social research institute.
    Just under half of those polled said England's laws should continue to be made at Westminster.

    Prof John Curtice, who wrote the report, said that if the trends continued, politicians "may no longer be able safely to assume that England can be ignored in the devolution debate".
    It goes further
    John Denham will demand greater celebration of Englishness today, just as new research reveals the union is more vulnerable than ever.
    The communities secretary will make a speech to the Smith institute tonight which is expected to call for greater celebrations of Englishness – a distinct change from previous government statements concerning Britishness.
    But it is set to be delivered on the same day as a joint IPPR/NatCen report revealing increased resentment among those in England who associate themselves with England rather than Britain.
    The research found 40% of people in England believe Scotland gets more than its fair share of government spending, compared to just 22% in 2003.
    Yet even this doesn't tell the whole story as Toque of the English Free Press points out.
    The British Social Attitudes survey is flawed because it asks the public to choose between a *new* parliament for England or the UK parliament, which historically is the English parliament, and finds that only 29% would like a *new* English parliament.
    It does not attempt to measure support for an English parliament at Westminster or a "parliament within a parliament" - an English Grand Committee or "English Votes on English Laws", the latter being the model that commercial polls find most support for.
    Asking people to choose between Westminster (England’s traditional parliament) or a new English parliament presupposes that an English parliament must be new and/or distinct (ie not dual purpose).
    Commercial polls usually put the desire for an English Parliament at 67% when you remove the either/or part of the question.

    So, no there isn't a backlash yet, there might nor exactly be one anyway if Salmond's Scottish independence referendum gives the right result (from Salmond's point of view) Though I doubt the Scot's are quite ready to go it alone if the polls are too be believed. However English nationalism is on the rise, has been since devolution to the point now that the English rarely use the Union flag to demonstrate their patriotism anymore, it's far more likely to be the Cross of St George, small things I know, but the changes are becoming apparent. Still politicians are taking notice, well Labour ones anyway, Cameron's Conservatives are still taking the English for granted with their EvoEl fudge as well as coming out with Cameron's "Scottish blood flows through my veins" comments when trying to revive Conservative fortunes North of the border. Yet it's becoming ever more obvious that the English as a whole are no longer prepared to be ignored, that we want the same rights as our Celtic neighbours to run our own affairs without the interference of the UK parliament and its pan Britannic outlook and ties to EU controls.

    Change is coming and it will be far better for politicians to move with it rather than fight it, in this Labour are at least noticing the trend rather than trying to ignore it, well English Labour anyway.