Saturday, December 26, 2009

Back the Ban

Smokers are Jokers?

The government is to roll out new smoking kits to help 'addicts' quit. Waste of money. The restrictions we currently have on smoking mean we can't smoke in enclosed public places, effectively, if we adhere to the law we can't smoke in open public places because throwing away our cigarette end constitutes littering. Presumably, so does flicking the ash. We can't smoke in workplaces, including vehicles even if we are the sole occupant and nobody else is allowed to ride in or drive the vehicle. In America (and rest assured we'll soon follow suit) Apple Computers have voided warranties because smoking near them creates a biohazard. Well, I'll stop smoking when cars stop spewing filth into the atmosphere. I'll stop smoking when Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple computers) stops putting Lead, Chromium, Cadmium, Mercury, Bromine, Brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and PVC into computers.

No, the only place we can smoke now is in our own homes and gardens. But how long will it be before councils stop smoking in council rented accommodation? (Already we can't smoke when expecting visits from council employees) and the government requires the same of private landlords? I see the ploy of the government not to ban smoking outright, the honest and in my opinion realistic thing to do, but to restrict the places one can smoke until there are none left. Effectively a ban, but they haven't banned it, have they? And it's all done, not in the name of protecting you from yourself, but protecting others from your filthy habit. Thanks. But no, thanks.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Baby P Murderer Assaulted

Baby P, who we now know as Peter Connelly died with 50 injuries including broken ribs and a broken back. His mother's boyfriend, Steven Barker has been attacked in prison, felled with one punch. He got off lightly.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Teflon Tony Looking Decidedly Like Troubled Tony

Tony Blair has finally admitted that he would have invaded Iraq even if there had been no evidence of WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) which we now know and suspected then there were not. And that he would have invaded and found alternative arguments for the invasion if necessary. He further stated that a régime change justified the invasion (which ignores the UN rules permitting 'military intervention on the basis of self-defence', but did not apply in this case because Britain was not under threat from Iraq. The UN does, however make illegal military intervention on the grounds of régime change.) He looked very edgy as he admitted this to Fern Britton. I got the impression he was trying to develop arguments and groundwork for his appearance at the Chilcot Enquiry.

Well, Tony, Teflon or otherwise, whatever the outcome, and I sincerely hope you are brought to justice for your war crimes, you have consistently pushed your Christian ethics and have converted to Roman Catholicism (which, by the way just happens to be one of the most violent and oppressive Christian sects since Christ's birth, and beats a few of the so called heathen religions) so I wonder if you can you can sleep at night when you try to justify the deaths resulting directly from your lies.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Are You Stealing Intellectual Property?

ACS:Law, a law firm that specialises in protecting the intellectual rights of copyright holders has said it intends to send out 15,000 letters to people suspected of illegally downloading and sharing films and games. According to the BBC these letters include an opportunity to settle out of court for a few hundred pounds rather than be taken to court and risk paying thousands of pounds. As is rightly considered in the report, this sounds a lot less like enforcing the rights of intellectual rights holders and very much like a money-making exercise.

As I have said before, how will or do they know people are illegally sharing files? There is a suggestion in the report that information is gathered using special software that identifies illegal file sharing. I doubt anything like this exists. I suggest the software (if it exists) does one or more of several things. It identifies file sharing software (not in itself illegal). It identifies large file uploads or downloads. Neither is this illegal. It identifies encrypted uploads or downloads. Again, encryption is not, in itself illegal.

The software has not yet been tested in court. I doubt it will ever be. People who have been accused have either paid up and/or consulted a solicitor. None, it appears who have refused to pay have been taken to court, suggesting there is no real evidence.

Should I receive such a communication from ACS:Law or anybody else (and I predict there will be many) who jumps on the bandwagon my responses will be several.

Since I have a laptop and desktop PC, my son plays X-box games online and has a desktop in his room and my daughter has a laptop, my bandwidth usage will be quite high, I assume. So if the suggestion is my high bandwidth usage arouses suspicion of illegal downloads, they will get short shrift from me. If they claim they have acquired my address from my ISP I will want to know on what grounds they obtained a court order to get this information and investigate the possibility of a contravention of the Data Protection act. Because by requesting a court order, they must surely have investigated my internet usage to provide evidence to justify such a request.

I will make it quite clear to them that I cannot pay several hundred pounds to avoid court action, so take me to court where, if they win they will have even less chance of getting the several thousand pounds they are chasing.

And finally, if they do wish to proceed with a legal challenge and I win, in the face of all their 'evidence', the grounds on which I win will open the door for others to appeal their convictions (if they ever get any) and will provide a legal challenge for all other such prosecutions.

They ought also to remember this is Britain, not the US and cases are taken on merit, not money.

Who’d be a Teacher?

According to a BBC report new teachers cannot find secure jobs. Welcome to the real world. Ordinary workers haven't had job security for three decades. This is a result of the new world economy where profit supersedes people.

However, I must ask what the problem is? If the current advertisements on T.V. are to be believed, a teacher can expect a starting salary of £30,000 a year. Not bad, in my book. I wish somebody would offer me that sort of money for working my butt off in a manual job. So O.K., the issue seems to be they can't get these jobs. But the report goes on to say that 95% of newly trained teachers find temporary or supply work. Assuming temporary means short term contracts and assuming that as in real-world jobs this means showing ability, commitment and reliability results in an offer of a permanent position the onus is on them to show they are worthy of such consideration. As for supply teachers, I see advertised supply positions paying £100 a day and more. I would be happy to seek work as a supply plastics moulding technician at £100 a day.

What do they want? Jam on it?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Bonus Crackdown- the Bankers are Crying. Ha Ha!

Former Bank of Scotland chairman Sir George Mathewson has said the government's move to remove bonuses for bankers that take unnecessary risks is a dangerous one. He claims that it may be an interference with the rule of law. His premise for this is that it is a dangerous move to interfere with contracts negotiated by willing parties.

Well, Sir George, when those contracts and bonuses cost innocent taxpayers and savers money, when it threatens the banking system as a whole while the perpetrators walk off rich(er) men, there should be control and I don't think it goes far enough. They should take back bonuses already paid and put a limit on bonuses either as a percentage of salary or a fixed limit (my preference).

Angela Knight, chief executive of the British Bankers' Association, said the UK had already taken steps to address bonuses and that any legislation had to take into account its impact on the UK as a global financial centre.

Sorry, Ms Knight and Sir George. You're just making excuses to keep your grubby hands on the cash.

And we don't hear you when ordinary workers are told wage rises must be kept below inflation. But then, that suits, doesn't it? Hold down pay rises and the money can be shared out amongst yourselves in big bonuses that bypass below inflation rises.

You'll never go hungry or be out of work unless by choice. You'll never worry about which bill to pay this week. You'll never go 16+ years with only two holidays and one weekend away, both only affordable because of the generosity of friends.

No, I'm afraid there are no tears shed here.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

What’s the Difference Between Russell Brand and a Mushroom?

Very little. Neither are funny and both thrive on horse-s***.

Russell Brand is about as funny as toothache. Like most so-called celebrities, he needs a gimmick to maintain his limited popularity and to maintain his public profile. When his stupid hairstyle was no longer enough, he created controversy by abusing a fellow performer (one who at least is able to create comedy and cause me to laugh) Andrew Sachs.

Now that the furore over that episode has died down he has said at a signing of his latest DVD that though he apologised for the incident, he found the subsequent scandal funny. More than I can say for you, Mr Brand.

This only confirms my belief that he is neither funny nor truly apologetic. If you look at the true greats of comedy, the like of Tommy Cooper who needed only to walk on stage to raise hysterics from the audience, or Frankie Howerd, Morecombe and Wise or Dave Allen it is not difficult to see that the modern trend in comedy to raise a laugh at the expense of undeserving innocent parties is the gimmick of second rate so-called comedians, a ploy to keep themselves in the public eye and to hide their lack of skill with controversy.

I may sound biased, and perhaps I am. (And perhaps with good reason.) But I have tried to watch Mr Brand. I just couldn't see the humour in his ranting. He tried too hard to be 'in your face' but without the finesse of greats like Bill Hicks who too was controversial, but raged against the establishment and its representatives and as far as I am aware never abused a fellow performer, always had a point to make and didn't use abuse for its own sake or to divert attention from a lack of talent.

Unfortunately, today's audience encourages such behaviour. The paymasters know it improves viewing figures and instead of the likes of Russell Brand becoming a non-entity in entertainment as would have happened in the past, the controversy keeps them in demand.

Thank heaven for the off switch.

Friday, November 13, 2009

You’re nicked, mate

Sandwell council fined a woman £75 (a fixed penalty charge) for feeding the ducks at a duck pond. Apparently, she and her 17 month old son were not in the designated feeding area. What a lot of rot! Another little Goebbels given a uniform and obeying his Hitler-like council masters.

Now, I might- the operative word being might- understand had the fine been for littering- throwing the bread on the ground or into the pond. Even so, it would be ridiculous. But to say it isn't in the designated feeding area, I ask what is the difference? The bread is going to be eaten by the ducks or swans or geese, they aren't aware of these 'designated areas'. Or are we to see Donald [Duck] in court for eating outside his designated feeding area? It just beggars belief. I certainly would have refused to pay and contested the fine in a court of law.

Well, Ms. Kelly and son, see you on the [DNA] database, you threat to society, you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Why is Mandelson Politician of the Year?

Lord (ha!) Mandelson has been named |politician of the year by Spectator magazine's annual awards. I fail to see why. He is unelected, does not sit in the House of Commons and as a politician sucks. I've seen better policies on the back of a beer mat.

Come to think of it, wasn't he sacked or had to resign or something? Seems to me one need not be good at ones job. Just be controversial. Like Jedwood.

(now awaiting my bonus, thankyou.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Would You Give a Community Order for Child Rape?

A sixteen year old boy, who cannot be named was given a community service order for molesting a seven year old boy. Eight days later he abducted and raped another five year old boy.

I could go on and on about the stupidity of the law, the ivory towers of judges, deterrents, justice and revenge, etc. etc. But I dare say I will only be repeating what others are already saying, what you are already thinking. So I'll just say this is what happens when discipline is removed from schools, a country goes soft on crime and criminals are rewarded instead of punished.

Full Story

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We Know Who You Emailed Last Summer.

The government is to push ahead with plans to insist CSP's (Communication Service Providers) keep records of our online communications. This includes social networking sites like Facebook. Hell, it means any company or website that processes any communication online.

The government says it doesn't want to create a single database to hold these records. Just that the CSP's keep records of communications, not their content just a record of who communicated with whom, and that these records will be used for investigating and solving crime. Well, we saw what happened with similar anti-terrorism surveillance laws where councils were spying on people to see if they were living where they said and to catch dog owners not cleaning up their mess.

If you ask me, this isn't about crime in general. It is about specifically targeting illegal downloader's and if that is the case then they should come right out and say so. What other reason could there be? If the content of a communication won't be kept, what good is knowing a communication took place? The only reason I can think of is proving a communication with a known download site.

The other side of the coin, in these circumstances is supposing I email somebody and this communication is held for 2 years. What if some months later the person I emailed is arrested on a serious criminal charge? There is no record that I merely responded to an advert for a ladder for sale, only that the communication took place. So will that communication be ignored, making the law ineffective and irrelevant or will we see thousands of innocent people targeted merely because they sent an email?

Where is the evidence that this will have any effect on crime? This is just another draconian law designed to look like protection for the population in general but in reality will be restrictive and dangerous for the ordinary citizen whose worse crime is putting their bin out on the wrong day.

Monday, November 09, 2009

BBC Poll Says Free Market Flawed

According to a poll commissioned by the British Broadcasting Company most people believe the free market economy is flawed. There are also stark contrasts as to whether the fall of the Soviet Union and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall were good things.

Of course, there is no explanation of why people now believe these things might not be such a good thing. It could be that they feel a diametrically opposed political, social and economic system (somewhere else in the world) struck a balance. A balance that prevented financial institutions and the capitalist system from running amuck and bringing down banks, pension schemes and mortgages.

But I think it is not this that has brought about a differing opinion around the world. I think it is the same thing that has seen a hundred years of alternate Labour and Tory governments in Britain. It is the same thing that is the great flaw in democracy. A flaw exploited by the rich and powerful. That the majority of people change their opinions according to circumstances.

When the Soviet Union was a powerful counter-balance to capitalism it was seen as evil and counter-productive. Now it is gone, we have seen capitalism and the free market economy run wild and threaten the financial system of the world. While communism and socialism was a powerful threat, capitalists could not take the risks we have seen taken in recent times because there was an effective alternate system to fill the void. Without this alternate system, the risks could be taken and if they failed, as they did, the only option was to rebuild capitalism.

Much like the rampant capitalism that filled the void in communist Russia, socialism could and possibly would have filled the void left by a failed world economy. That is what the poll is reflecting. That is what the ('democratic') capitalists are afraid of.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

RBS- Taxpayers Bank or Not?

I don't get this. I'm no financial wizard. But the taxpayer has a majority holding in the Royal Bank of Scotland. Presumably, since I don't get asked, the government, in our name, takes care of the day-to-day issues. And presumably, since they gave them loads of our cash, they are keeping an eye on them?

And yet, I read 'Treasury seeks RBS lending proof'. The gist of the story seems to be that the RSB is claiming it cannot meet its lending target because businesses aren't asking for loans. So the treasury is asking RSB to prove this in the next four weeks, and to produce their loans terms and conditions to prove that they are not 'too harsh'.

So, we (for we, read the Government on our behalf) own this bank, yet we do not know how it is being run? We do not know the terms and conditions of the loans?

This shows gross neglect of duty by the treasury and by implication the government. It beggars belief that these things have not been scrutinised and modified if necessary. You just do not invest billions of pounds of your own money, never mind our money, without taking an active part in decision making.

Leaving it until now to ask for the information is ridiculous. We inject billions and leave the bank to their own devices, which created the problem in the first place.

At the same time I notice a government sponsored advertisement condemning benefits cheats as thieves. So you claim your £50+ jobseekers allowance and make a bit on the side, you're a criminal, fined and/or imprisoned and made to pay back the money. Squander somebody else's money to increase your bonus, walk away with a £multimillion, gold plated iron-clad pension and you can have a few billion more, but don't be naughty again.

Some things never change. The rich will stay rich, get richer and flaunt the law with impunity. The poor will stay poor, get poorer and flaunt the law at their peril.

It's the rich what gets the pleasure

It's the poor what gets the blame

It's the same the whole world over

Ain't it all a bloody shame?


Friday, November 06, 2009


With the US army officer killing 13 fellow soldiers and an Afghan policeman shooting British soldiers, both of whom were trained or being trained by the nation they purportedly worked for, one has to ask whether these people are 'sleepers'- individuals, perhaps part of a larger organisation put in place to commit these acts of betrayal.

I don't believe an army officer killed his comrades simply because he didn't want to go to Afghanistan. There are other, less lethal ways of avoiding such deployment. Neither do I believe an individual joined a police force in good faith and was recruited while serving.

It brings into question our reason for having troops deployed in an unwinnable war. By their very nature, the guerrillas in Afghanistan will, if apparently defeated, reappear when foreign troops are withdrawn.

Or are we to be there forever?

Lose/Lose- Video Game or Trojan?

A new game that deletes files on your hard drive has been described as a Trojan. The game clearly states the intention, so is it a Trojan or is it a game? If a virus writer clearly labelled his work a virus, called it destroyyourfiles.exe or iamavirus.exe, then does that exonerate him/her? I'd say no. A virus (in this I include Trojans and other similar destructive files) is recognised as such because of what it does. Warning a potential victim does not change this behaviour. In fact I can see that pretty soon a real malicious virus writer will use this as a social engineering technique to get you to download his work.

We all know spam exists because people respond to it. Well, it is pretty dammed certain that if I call a virus 'Iwillstealyourpasswords.exe ' and state clearly on the download page that my intention is to steal passwords from every computer it is run on, there will be enough people gullible enough to disbelieve it, download and run the file to make it worthwhile.

Like the 'Wet Paint' sign. There is always somebody who just has to know.

Full Story

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

‘No referendum’ Say Tories.

Now that the EU Treaty has been ratified by the Czech Republic Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague has said the Tories will not hold a referendum.

Quite correct. The treaty, love it or hate it will be European law by the time the Tories are elected, if they are in fact elected- as seems likely. A referendum will be pointless, as it and the UK will be unable to change anything.

However, anybody with a modicum of intelligence will see through this spin, ploy, political manoeuvring, call it what you will. They knew, when they announced they would hold a referendum that the treaty would or would not be ratified. The Czech Republic could not have held out for that long without a decision one way or another. If they had not ratified, there would be no need to ask the British people since the treaty could not become law under such circumstances. Now they have ratified, there is no point. Heads we win, tails you lose.

However, the Tories might have the courage of their convictions and ask the British people (if they are elected next year) whether they want to stay in Europe.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Brave New World

In these times of 'restraint' isn't it amazing the British government has found another £32.9 billion to put into Lloyds and RBS?

Why is it only we ordinary, poor folk have to tighten our belts and have public services slashed?

It seems to me if I squander my money; pay myself more than I am worth for failing in my job or fiddle my expenses I need only be sure I am already extremely wealthy or a public official to have UK Government PLC bail me out or turn a blind eye.

Where was the funding for Rover, LDV etc and where is the funding for the Royal Mail to keep people in jobs and maintain a state owned and managed mail? Or is keeping people in jobs, particularly service jobs diametrically opposed to the Government view of Great Britain LTD where we are all stockbrokers or bankers?

Of course, we cannot all be financial wizards and so must ask what is to become of those not inclined to such careers? I suggest you look at the veneer of the education system, purporting to make a good education available to all. The best education still goes to the wealthiest. Poke a little more through the thin skin of the education system and you will see that even a mediocre education is being priced out of the reach of ordinary people. With tuition fees and student loans (soon to be sold off to the highest bidder) families either reliant on benefits or in low paid jobs one can see that further education will soon be the domain of the elite. The producers of wealth (that's you and me) will be consigned to a life of drudgery and want. And our ability to advance reasonable argument against such inequality is severely curtailed by our lack of education.

Welcome to our Brave New World.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Marlon King

I don't know what you think, but as Miss Carr, his victim said Mr King should be banned from professional football for life.

For a grown man, a fit and able bodied man to punch a lady in the face because she rejected his advances that were to my mind a sexual assault is abominable.

And Mrs. King should really reconsider her relationship with him. Not only because while she is pregnant and presumably waiting at home with their three children he is trying to find a sexual partner in a night club, but because such violence could quite easily one day be turned on her.

As for his brag "I'm a multimillionaire, love... you're not even in my league." I can only say, neither am I, thank heavens. I would never stoop so low.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Harriet Harman – Don’t Sack Spouses

Harriet Harman has said that MP's who pay family members to work for them should not be forced to sack them.

Parents are not allowed to pay family members to help with childcare because such a system would be open to abuse. Why should MPs employ their families when they have shown they cannot be trusted to apply allowances legally, let alone fairly?

Sorry, Mrs. Harman. MPs have had it too good for too long, taken advantage of generous allowances and now comes the time to pay the piper. You'll find little public sympathy and your comment only serves to underline how out of touch you really are.

It proves to me my belief that the Labour Party has ceased to exist, along with morality and integrity in politics. Clawing at each and every straw to try to retain as much as you can when the honourable thing would be as a minimum accept the recommendations with what grace can be mustered in light of the abysmal and flagrant abuse of taxpayers funding.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Drugs are Drugs are Drugs...

I'm not going to discuss the resignation of Professor Nutt or government policy. But drugs- including alcohol – have a devastating effect on families. Alcohol is governed by licensing laws with consequences, which could include loss of livelihood if contravened. Drugs however are illegal and therefore unlicensed. It seems that licensing the use of and distribution of illegal drugs might be the way to go. It surely must be worth a trial period. Remove the indirect dangers such as thuggish distributers who work outside the law, impure drugs whose 'fillers' (the substances various levels of distribution 'cut' the product with to increase profits) which are often more dangerous than the drug. Remove the 'street cred' value and restrict the usage to adults and we might clean up the drug scene, improve society in general and reduce crime.

The problem with this approach is it won't work. Minors will find ways to access drugs. Adults will supply them. There will still be an illegal trade to avoid the excise duty any government will surely apply.

It is my opinion that the only answer is zero tolerance. Prosecute whether in possession of a gram or a kilogram. Change the law so that possession is not the only criterion by which a user/supplier can be prosecuted. Chemical testing to establish contact with drugs should be used. Make the consequences severe.

I understand the argument that prohibition doesn't work and often quoted is the US Volstead Act (prohibition). But this did not work for two reasons. First, it was an attempt to prohibit the use of an already legal and socially accepted intoxicant. Second, the Act only prohibited the distribution of alcohol. It did not prohibit the use or sale of alcohol.

I also advocate the removal of classification of drugs. A gram of heroin or a pound of cannabis should be treated equally under the law. Sentencing should be adjusted according to mitigating circumstances, not that this is bad because it's heroin or not so bad because it's cannabis.

It is certain current legislation is not working. Equally, educating on the dangers of drugs alone is inadequate. Telling people a drug is dangerous creates an atmosphere of disbelief when drug users can be seen to suffer few ill effects from their habit in the short term.

Both solutions have their advantages and disadvantages. The only certainty is that something must be done.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Anti-Slavery Laws and Single Parents

Liberty and Anti-Slavery International are asking for laws to protect workers, particularly migrant workers from exploitation- effectively slavery. Interesting that one of their suggestions is 'a second offence of forced labour, [punishable by a maximum of seven years in prison.]'

Isn't that what the Government has just imposed on single parents of young children?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

UK to Block Web Access in Effort to Control Piracy

The UK is to introduce laws forcing ISP's to cut off internet access to illegal file sharers. This will be a last resort after warning letters and a first stage of reducing internet speeds.

Here's what I say. For years the big players in music and film have charged excessively for music and video. CD's doubled the price of an album, even though they were cheaper to produce. DVD's are much cheaper to produce than video tapes yet the cost is similar, if not more. They have trouble getting the providers of illegal content, so focus the laws on the users. And now the technology is available for the ordinary user to bypass the artificially high prices, they are crying it ain't fair.

Sell your content at a realistic price that actually reflects production costs and most of us will be happy to pay. You don't like being ripped off. Neither do we.

Now, apart from the moral and legal implications, there are the technical facts. It is already easy to encrypt downloads. There are already networks that give anonymity.
So how do they propose enforcing the law? If your data is encrypted, you must be downloading illegally? If you download large files you must be doing something illegal?

Well no, this cannot be the criteria for deciding guilt. Many legitimate programs are now hundreds of megabytes. Cloud computing means people back up huge amounts of data to the web. Online gaming eats at bandwidth. And many homes have multiple computers (We have four and my son plays online games on his Xbox for many hours a week.) It seems we are being given the technology but governments are intervening to restrict its (legal) use.

And besides, if I get a letter from my ISP, before there is any penalty I can switch ISP and wait my first letter from them.

This has not been thought through. Whatever technology is used to try to catch file sharers, a way round it will soon be found. Just look at how quickly video encryption was cracked. And as I already said if the criteria are to be large downloads or encrypted data, then they lose the moral high ground. The innocent will be presumed guilty. Especially in a household of four where only one illegally downloads, yet all have their internet access cut.

The only fair way is a change in social attitudes away from glorifying huge profits at the expense of the consumer to reasonable profits and reasonable prices that by their nature discourage theft. Why would I want to wait two or more hours to download a film at the risk of prosecution if I can go down the video store and buy it for £5, and be watching it in 20 minutes or less?

Which introduces another, often ignored point. Piracy actually encourages sales rather than reducing them. Because many people who download music and video from illegal sites often go on to buy the original content. Yes, I know it sounds silly, but they do actually want to own the original in its nice packaging and on a CD or DVD that will not deteriorate over time. But they do not want to risk £10 or £20 on an original they might not enjoy. Back to price again! So they download an album and if they like it, they buy it.

Story Here

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Careers Advice for Seven-Year-Olds

The government now wants to give careers advice and introduce university to 7 year olds.

What a ridiculous idea. Children need to be allowed to be children. Better focus on discipline and teaching children to be able to read, write and do basic mathematics before moving to high school. That is the place to introduce them to careers advice and the aspiration of university.

But if we look closely, this is just another 'seen to be doing something' scheme by the government which I believe will do little for children, education or employment.

Indeed, I suggest it may have the opposite effect, that of reducing aspirations because children feel pressurised and 'switch off'.

Considering, also that there just is not and probably never again will be such a thing as full employment, we are setting up young children to fail, the effects of which could be devastating both at a personal and socio-economic level.

And what do we tell the children who we convince university is the career path for them, those this idea is focused toward from deprived backgrounds, when they find they cannot afford to go to university?

Once again I see a proposal that on the face of it appears to be advantageous to the disadvantaged, but the result will be the opposite. The education and aspirations of those people will be reduced, leaving an underclass that can more easily be controlled.

I suggest to the government another way, if better education and greater aspiration is the aim. First, we invest in real jobs that produce goods people want. Pay a decent wage and allow employees the right to negotiate better conditions. Then we will find more children in families where the mother can afford to stay at home to raise children. We will have a generation of children growing up in a working household and will see that as the norm, rather than benefits and low esteem.

And you never know, contrary to popular belief that high wages cause inflation and cripple the economy, all this extra money to spend and being spent might actually stimulate and strengthen the economy, truly bringing prosperity to all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Invasion Alert!

This government has been one of the most intrusive, legislative and paranoid in the history of Britain. Emails and phone calls monitored, credit and debit card transactions logged, CCTV in every town and city and now they want to try to discover who you might be sleeping with. Yes, the 2011 census will want to know about overnight visitors.

I cannot think of any realistic assumptions one could deduce from having this information. What possible relevance can a mate staying over have? Or a girlfriend who missed the last bus? Or you daughters school friend, a casual pick-up or a regular Saturday night visitor?

What are we going to hear? That there is a massive trend toward homosexuality because many males had male friends stay overnight? Or that benefits cuts can be justified because you have had an unemployed friend stay one night, so why not all week?

And even if a plausible case for having this information was made, how will they know we are telling the truth? It might be possible with a family member, but can they know that a friend stayed if you say they did not? It throws the whole census into disrepute, making the figures and assumptions there from meaningless.

It can only be assumed this is dataveillance for its own sake or for some nefarious government purpose.

And I thought 1984 was 25 years ago.

Monday, October 26, 2009

David Miliband calms to have no EU Job Ambitions

"I am not a candidate for that. I am not available," he said, adding that he was "committed" to his current job.

That just convinces me he wants the job. He is, after all a politician and when such a plain statement is made, with no ambiguity one has to assume the opposite.

He goes on to say that Tony Blair is the best man to be the first EU president. Here, I agree with him. If he does the same job as EU president as he did as British Prime Minister, he'll split the EU, seeing it a multi-tier state ruined and bankrupt. Then the British can get back to governing Britain.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Human Rights Act v British Bill of Rights

Keir Starmer, Director of Public Prosecutions says the Human Rights Act (HRA) works. He says it is not biased in favour of the criminal.

Shadow justice secretary Dominic Grieve's plans to abolish the HRA and replace it with the British Bill of Rights (BBR).

Well, firstly Mr. Starmer should know that any law that is perceived by the public to be biased or otherwise not in the public interest is by definition an unfair law. It doesn't matter if the law is fair in practice. The perception of bias is enough to warrant a re-assessment of the law.

Repealing and introducing a new, fairer law that gives and is perceived to give a balance in favour of the victim rather than the criminal is the right thing to do. I personally, and suspect most ordinary people aren't greatly interested if a criminal's rights are infringed. Criminals should not expect the same protection under the law, save that they receive a fair trial.

I am more than a little worried, however that the idea is a Tory one. It does make me wonder just what are they up to? It would be fairly easy to introduce draconian legislation we all agree with concerning criminals but that also criminalises the innocent.

Like the saying goes, be careful what you wish for. You might just get it!


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Call to end middle class benefits

I have to say I totally agree. While I am not sure I am in agreement with where the cut-off point should be, I do think benefits should be targeted at the most needy. I don't believe a millionaire should be able to claim child benefit. I don't believe a rich pensioner should get a heating allowance purely on the basis they are old.

The problem I have with this suggestion is that the money saved will not benefit the genuinely needy. I think the money saved will be used to reduce borrowing so the government looks good or will be used for tax breaks for the wealthy.

Even if these two scenarios do not arise and the money is used to help the needy, I think we will find the hangers-on, who already give genuine claimants a bad name, who already know how to play the system will get the money. The genuinely needy will get the blame.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nick Griffin on Question Time

Well, I watched Question Time and I was not persuaded by Nick Griffin to don a bed sheet and terrorise anybody thinking or looking different to me. Neither was I persuaded that he or his party were legitimate or honest. But I was dismayed that the impression I got was of David Dimbleby and his panel using the forum to specifically attack Nick Griffin- not his policies or beliefs but the man himself. I have to reluctantly admit to a certain amount of sympathy for the man. And I have to also admit I thought he stood up rather well, considering his opinion is generally abhorrent to most right thinking people.

You might think this attack on his person reasonable. I do not. Trying to destroy the man will only win him sympathy. Destroying his beliefs will render him and his cause impotent.

Truancy at Record Level

According to this report, truancy is at record levels. Not really surprising when I know of at least three local children who have not attended school since they were 14 and are not in any other educational program as they are regularly seen walking the streets. Nothing, it seems is being done.

This despite the report 'Truancy jailing every two weeks' because it certainly is not happening round here. Or if it is happening, it isn't having any effect.

When I see three girls from the same street leave education at 13/14 because they are pregnant, I have to wonder at the society our de-regulation and liberalism is creating. And of those three, only one prosecution. Then it was only the father, despite him being invited to stay in the family home by the parents.

We should bring back the 'wagman' who instilled fear in children and parents alike when I was at school. With today's digital connectivity an unauthorized absence report from each school could be sent to the LEA or a local communication point who can then send Mr. 'Wagman' to the house to question the parents and assess whether the child is legitimately off school or 'wagging it', with or without the parents consent. Appropriate action should then be taken.

Or is this, together with student loans, tuition fees etc. another part of the educational 'dumbing down' plan to keep us in our place?

Let's face it. If we don't enforce the law and educate the children, they won't grow up to be a thorn in the government's side.

That could be New Labours election cry. 'You'll never miss what you never had. And if you had it, you shouldn't have.'

Target pavement cyclists, say MPs


There is a lot of legalese and moral talk here:

Of course it is illegal for cyclists to ride on the road. It puts pedestrians in danger. Some, I know ride on pavements because they are afraid to ride on roads because of the volume of traffic and speeding and inconsiderate motorists.

I do it very occasionally myself. When one considers that round here, the council's idea of cycle paths is a white line drawn down the middle of the pavement, it is not too surprising that cyclists stay on the pavement or assume pavement cycling is o.k. When one considers that pedestrians rarely accommodate cyclists by keeping to the pedestrian side of these paths one can see a cyclist's frustration at being targeted as anti-social.

On the rare instances I do ride on the pavement, I go slowly, slow down to walking pace when passing a pedestrian from either direction and resume road riding as soon as practical. I also ensure my bike is roadworthy- another legal requirement rarely enforced.

I think I have a solution to this. Reintroduce the cycling proficiency test. Make it a requirement for cyclists to ride a bike. Charge a small fee, which could be waived should genuine hardship be shown. And then enforce the laws we already have and prosecute those that refuse to obey them.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nick Griffin on Question Time?

Nick griffin, leader of the BNP has been asked to appear on Question Time. A lot of people are upset and some intend to protest.

There are two schools of thought here. One, that the protesters, both verbal and those who will travel to the studio are giving the BNP the oxygen of publicity.

The other, that a man with very similar views achieved power democratically in 1930's Germany because people did nothing.

I'm not sure, myself. The British people can be somewhat naive when it comes to politics. But surely, that is the essence of democracy. An assumption that the electorate have the intelligence to decide their own future and government.

We could have an Uncle Joe (Stalin) telling us we don't know what's best, but he does.

We could have an anarchistic system of devolved government so that each town or collection of towns decides for itself.

Neither sounds too bad- as long as we pick the right Uncle Joe or the right neighbours to collude with.

But then we are back to democracy, because we want the right to kick out the leaders if we don't like the way they lead.

So I think I have to say, let's see Nick Griffin on Question Time. Let's see how he answers questions about economics, education, benefits, unemployment and Britain's place in the world. I am quite sure when he reduces each answer to immigration and the inferiority of some races, we will see him for what he is.

I think, though we might see him squirming, unable to answer and uncomfortable with the truth.

But if we prevent him from appearing there will be many people who will see it as martyrdom.

Acer Aspire 6930z

In March I bought an Acer Aspire 6930z laptop for £399.

It's a pretty robust machine and has some good features. It's pretty powerful with an Intel T3400 2.1 gig processor and 3 gig of ram.

After a couple of months, the touchpad stopped working- the pad and the left and right click buttons. I was sure this was hardware related, but went through the usual procedures such as update the driver, system restore, back to factory defaults etc.

Contacted Ebuyer and they didn't try to run through lots of fixes, but immediately arranged a return. They confirmed the fault was a hardware failure and said a new laptop had been shipped, which I received within a week of returning the faulty machine.

What a fantastic service! Can't fault them. I have shopped with Ebuyer for a number of years, never had an issue before and when I did, got a fantastic service.

Then, a couple of months later, the touchpad failed again. Contacted Ebuyer who said I needed to send it back to Acer because they had no replacements and if they attempted a repair it would void my Acer warranty.

Now I know under UK law I could have insisted they deal with the issue since my contract was with them and not with Acer. But Ebuyer have never let me down and I didn't want to get all legal and bolshie with them. So I contacted Acer. A return was arranged for Monday. My laptop was beck today. In fact, about half an hour ago. I haven't unpacked it yet, but assume that it is repaired. (I'll soon let you know if it isn't!) Once again, can't fault the service. I was a little worried since I had read horror stories on the 'net where Acer had held laptops for months, were unable to locate them etc.etc. So I thought let's show the other side- the stories that are rarely reported, where the service is excellent.

Just a couple of issues I have- so let's hope somebody from Acer reads this.

First, the helpdesk seems to have been outsourced to India or some similar country. I had some difficulty understanding them and making myself understood. This of course meant the cost of calling them will be greater than calling a UK helpdesk who would not have needed to repeat, nor me repeat to them almost every statement and comment.

Also, the fact that this is twice the touchpad has failed. It suggests that the touchpad may be poorly designed. Which means it will be an ongoing issue, beyond the warranty. I do hope not!

Bereaved Treated Badly by Banks


It appears that bereaved partners, wives and husbands are having difficulty gaining access to funds when their spouse dies, even if they if there is a will in place. The banks, who one would think have had enough bad press, are holding back payments, claiming it is training its staff.

Well, do they put staff in charge of investment without proper training? How many staff are allowed to deal billions on the money market without proper training? So why is it that staff dealing with customers or their deceased family is in need of training? I'll hazard a guess. The longer they can hold on to your money, the more they can make from your hardship and distress.

The banks have learned nothing. Their sole aim is to make money. Any customer benefits derived from that aim are purely coincidental.

And don't forget, it is virtually impossible to do anything financial today without using a bank. From benefits payments to buying a house, a bank is involved somewhere.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

BNP to consider non-white members

According to this BBC report the BNP are to consider non-white members. As I read it, the law says they must.

There is a very interesting video on the page I suggest you watch in which BNP spokesman Chris Roberts appears to be very uncomfortable discussing the issue.

The rights and wrongs I do not intend to discuss. Immigration is a problem, I don't believe the UK has got it right but do not adhere to the view a person should be discriminated against purely on the basis of his or her colour, any more than on their age, weight or political affiliations.

I would suggest, however the Mr. Roberts and Mr. Griffin have the courage of their convictions, state their case clearly and if it is opposed to current legislation be strong enough to take the consequences. The discomfort shown by Mr. Roberts serves only to support my contention that whatever they believe, they will present themselves in a manner designed to persuade the electorate differently. Well, they are politicians (sort of) after all.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finland makes broadband a legal right

Finland makes broadband a legal right for its citizens. Uruguay gives a laptop to every primary school pupil with plans to extend the provision to older schoolchildren next year. What are we doing in Britain? Arguing over whether formal education should start at five or at six years old.

I have theory about education in Britain. That there is a state conspiracy to see its people less well educated to better suit them to the totalitarian state the major parties seem to be inching toward.

While more and more of us go on to college or university, the quality of education seems to be falling. At the same time, the cost of higher education is being put beyond the reach of ordinary people. And this is done by the people who got where they are through free higher education paid for by the taxes of our parents and grandparents.

There have only been two major and successful revolutions in the UK. In 1215 when the Barons forced King John to sign Magna Carta and the English civil war. This is because the rulers, be they king or commoner, elected or appointed have known not to push too hard. Because the British people are essentially loyal, forgiving and accommodating. But the two instances stated show we will not be pushed too hard or too far.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Man 31 Give 3 Year Old Cigarette

While the reported facts of this case are themselves appalling there is no suggestion of the relationship of the 31 year old man to the 3 year old or the 14 year old.

I would like to know what a 31 year old man is doing in the company of young girls, apparently encouraging inappropriate behaviour. One has to wonder where this encouragement might lead.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Another Manufacturer Gone

LDV's machinery is to be stripped out and sent to China. So along with the loss of skills that made us manufacturing capital of the world, we are also losing, piece by piece the means of production.

If you're an engineer, I suggest you re-train. Because even if the will was there, the means to resume British industry is not.

And don't suppose the money men will invest heavily in manufacturing when they can sit back and make just as much, if not more merely by shuffling money and goods around on a computer screen.

Underage Drinking

I have just read - - how the problem of underage drinking and thus related problems are being dealt with. It is successful the article appears to claim, because of the numbers involved. Well, when we are talking thousands of underage drinkers, amazingly from 10 to 17 years of age being effectively 'told off' one must suppose it's not working.

As with many aspects of criminal and anti-social behaviour there are solutions already prescribed by law to deal with such incidents. It is illegal to sell alcohol to minors. Use the existing law. Remove the licences of those that refuse to comply- do it once, be warned, do it twice be prosecuted. No excuses.

Now, hand on heart, and somewhat familiar with the intricacies and contradictions of British law, I am unsure whether it is actually illegal for a minor to drink. I suspect the crime is in the sale, not in the drinking. This to me is ridiculous. If minors wish to pretend to be adults by partaking in adult behaviour, let the law suppose them to be adults. I agree there should be some leeway, aid them in correcting their behaviour but we need consequences in the event their behaviour cannot be modified by helpful intervention.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Watchdog to get tough on Health Service

I am heartily fed up of this government, and its predecessor introducing quangos, watchdogs, monitors and other sundry employment agencies for their pals. While they remain above investigation, or as the recent expenses scandal shows, above consequences they pass laws, introduce working practices and force unnecessary, inadequate and untrained managers onto services that by definition cannot be run on monetary disciplines. Then blame the services, not the restrictions introduced by the managers for failing to meet the targets imposed on them.

The Postal Strike

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson told the BBC the union's decision to strike "amounts to a death wish".

Well, Lord Mandelson, if the postal workers were on just a half of an MP's salary maybe they wouldn't want to strike. Maybe if they felt their jobs were secure they wouldn't want to strike.

It is an argument as old, if not older, than the industrial revolution. What's the point of striking if your jobs are already at risk? Of course, the reverse argument is rarely considered by the right-wing media or the rich factory owner or MP's that might consider their roots and the roots of their party. (Are you listening New Labour?) The argument that we have little to lose, yet much to gain.



Saturday, August 08, 2009

Hello, Reader

Hello, reader. (Who am I kidding? I know nobody reads this!) However, it is quite therapeutic to get my thoughts down somewhere.
It is about a month now since my last post. It just seemed so pointless. I made a decision at the beginning of June that I would post every day. It seemed in that month there would be plenty [and there was] to post about. Time, other responsibilities and lack of funds [means seeking work] and repetitive political and economic decisions by our ‘masters’ left me feeling that my responses would be equally repetitive. But hey, what the hell? If they [politicians] can be repetitive, why can’t I?
So watch this space. I’ll be back soon. Once my ‘responsibilities’ will let me be!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Can Britain succeed in Afghanistan?

Afghanistan is we are told a terrorist (Al Qaeda) base. The Taliban is our enemy. That is why our young men are dying there.


The Afghan people have never been defeated. Not by the mighty USSR. Not by the mighty USA who tried their hand in 2001. Now they bring us into a war that cannot be won. And we follow, like the 51st state we have become.

Leave the Afghans to run their own country. If they become a discernable threat to us, hit 'em hard. Until then, back off and use the money you are wasting to help English people in England.

And leave the USA to spend the billions they charged us for helping out in WWII.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

MG Rover’s Phoenix Four Must be Beyond Reproach

Why, after four years of investigation is it only now that there are to be questions asked about the demise of MG Rover and the so-called 'Phoenix Four'?

Couldn't a QC and a forensic accountant see there was something wrong?

It might be argued they saw the evidence but wanted to investigate thoroughly before any public announcement. But surely it is/was their duty, even their legal responsibility to call in the Serious Fraud Office?

Whatever the outcome (and I suspect it will be the 'old boy network' cover up) the impression is that something is wrong.

It is not enough to be above suspicion- as Caesar's wife, all involved must be beyond reproach.

Monday, July 06, 2009

BT Offers Holidays for Pay Cuts

This seems to be a growing trend. Save your jobs by wage cuts. For those earning high wages, this might not seem so drastic. But what happens when this filters down to minimum wage earners? How will we stop unscrupulous employers using creative book keeping to reduce their wage bill? (For this read 'increase their profits').

I'm sorry, but this has all the hallmarks of a well thought out con. Use the recession to put money in our pockets.

How many industry chiefs have had to sell their mansions and country houses and move into a five bed roomed detached house? (An unattainable luxury for many of us- whether we are working or not.)

Will directors work for nothing?

Shouldn't a socially responsible employer be offering term-time employment for parents anyhow?

And what's innovative about cutting wages, making people (not jobs) redundant and short time working?

How is it progressive to blackmail workers with redundancy or pay cuts?

Leaving those left to work harder to cover the jobs of part time, short time and redundant employees.

And what happened to the Thatcherite privatised capitalist utopia we were all promised?

And don't blame New Labour. They've done nothing to change anything. Even the things they promised to change in their manifesto.

I cannot believe some of the BT employees' comments. Being grateful for wage cuts, short time and redundancy!

We might no longer wear a cloth cap to doff every time a wealthy industrialist raises his voice. But it is reincarnated in the form of the baseball cap. So grease the rim that it might slip off more ably. You never know when you might need to.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Booth Hails Scottish Penal Reform (or Crime and (Lack Of) Punishment)

Cherie Booth QC (Mrs. Tony Blair) has praised Scottish penal reform. MS. Booth chaired the Commission on English Prisons, in which she singled out aspects of Scotland's prison system for praise.

The gist seems to be that short prison sentences don't work, so don't hand out short prison sentences. I agree. What I do not agree with is the conclusion that those who would have been dealt with by shorter sentences should be dealt with by using community punishments; unpaid work, tagging, probation and ASBO's. The sort of 'punishments' criminals laugh at and see as nothing more than a minor intrusion into their lives- when they can be bothered to follow the orders.

I say give 'em longer sentences- and make sure the prisons are so uncomfortable most won't want to go back.

I'm not suggesting we stop attempts to rehabilitate through education and training. But those that opt to train or learn should not see it as a soft option to working. Those that have no inclination to learn should be made to work and work hard. The work must be constructive- none of your rock breaking and moving rocks from one side of the yard for no other purpose than to make an inmate work hard.

The workshops to which prisoners are assigned or volunteer should be run on an industrial basis where the products can be sold at a profit, thus contributing to the costs of running the prison system. One might even consider paying a proper wage the bulk of which could be sent to families and thus remove the need to pay benefits.

Governments can use statistics to tell us prisons don't work. They can produce statistics to show community sentencing reduces offending and re-offending. But statistics can be manipulated. ("He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts' for support rather than illumination."-Andrew Lang (1844-1912)) Many of the people who make penal reform decisions are statistically less likely to be the victim of 'low level' crime. The sort of crime we or our friends and relatives and our communities become victims of every day. Most of the people I know are in agreement. Prisons should be harsher and sentences longer. Most of what I read and see in the media from ordinary folk is in agreement. Prisons should be a place to which offenders do not wish to return. In our presumed democracy (which is actually a plutocracy) why are the minority sitting on these quangos and our supposed representatives able to ignore the wishes of the majority and continue the liberalist policies of community sentencing?

We might see some change when MP's and the wealthy are regularly the victims of burglary. When it is their sons who are meaninglessly attacked in the street and their daughters are assaulted.

Along with these proposed changes I believe there must also be a change of social and economic policy. While there will always be those who prefer to take rather than earn, we must ensure that ordinary people have well paid secure jobs. The balance should be quick, easy money with the risk of severe penalties and a real chance of being caught against a respectable well paid job with security. Most reasonable thinking people would choose the latter.

With these social and economic changes we should encourage employers to take on released prisoners if they have shown a commitment to change. Jobs to take when they leave prison not straight back on the dole, with the temptation to reoffend.

We need a complete rethink, accepting parts of the old penal system were reasonable and effective and that parts of the modern system are equally reasonable and effective. But neither system has a monopoly on effectiveness and we must accept that no system ever will. As with most things, we can only hope for the best penal system while we retain our humanity when dealing with those for whom we may temporarily wish to suspend that humanity and at the same time punish and rehabilitate effectively.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Rogue Traders

A rogue trader at London oil broker PVM Oil Futures has cost them $10m (£6m).

First, these traders make billions off the backs of consumers, keeping prices artificially high by sitting on oil (or any other product) until the price is right.

Second, one might argue that these futures investors are fraudulent themselves, since they never physically hold the product. PVM could not take a prospective buyer to a thousand barrels of oil and say 'here's what you're buying'. It's all done on paper.

And finally, they lose $10m and there is no suggestion of financial difficulty, never mind bankruptcy. How many real businesses that actually produce something besides profits have $10m to lose, never mind stand the loss!

That's what I want to be when [if]I grow up!

Friday, July 03, 2009

One ‘Flu’ Over the Cuckoos Nest


The Welsh Assembly Government has many devolved powers, one of which is their health service. Yet they want the UK treasury to foot the bill for the swine flu vaccination program.

The Welsh wanted devolution. They got devolution, as far as I am aware essentially on their terms. Yet at the first sign of trouble, they run back, charity tins rattling for help.

I am an Englishman with a Scots and Irish heritage. My Irish ancestors originally settled in Wales early in the 19th century.

Now, I believe in devolution. I really believe the Irish, Scots and Welsh are a different race being of Celtic descent as opposed to Saxon. As such, they should have home rule and be treated as individual nations. But if they want it, and have it they have to live with it, taking the rough with the smooth.

There may be an argument to say England's imperialist expansionism, however long ago has left them unable to function as a separate country without a transitional period. But let them say that, not claim the flu issue is an exceptional emergency situation.

Because let's face it, swine flu is flu. Each 'new' flu is a genetically modified version of a previous flu. There is no emergency. The problem lies not in the new flu being particularly virulent, but in the lack of new, effective vaccines. The new flu is dangerous during the period a vaccine is being developed.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Gordon Brown - Dishonest or Misguided?

Gordon Brown may be honest about his spending plans, but is he right? He says "making big efficiency savings in government and selling state-owned assets" could meet targets for cutting debt and still improve frontline services.

Well, how does selling services (state-owned assets) improve them? The mythical efficiency the Tories told us about throughout the 1980's? Just look at the private water companies.

If a private company can run these services efficiently, pay shareholder dividends and make a profit, why can't government run them and use the dividend payments and the profits to reduce costs to the consumer or further increase efficiency?

We need to turn away from the privatisation and the myths associated with it and re-nationalise the utilities, major manufacturing and stop the ingress of privatisation through 'partnerships'.

And we need to do it now.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Doctors want right to talk faith

Doctors and nurses want the right to discuss spiritual issues with patients. I think this is wrong. The National Secular Society has said "If we say it is ok for doctors and nurses to provide spiritual care and pray for patients it can all too quickly get out of hand and we will have staff preaching on the wards". I agree.

Reading the article the emphasis seems to be on Christians discussing Christianity. Doctors and nurses should stick to medical care. If we allow this will we see patient care suffering because a nurse is discussing religion with a patient while I wait for medical attention? Do I want a doctor telling me how I should be a Christian? (Or a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist for that matter?) And what about atheist doctors and nurses? Will the same doctors and nurses who want this right be happy to have a colleague telling a dying patient there is no God, no afterlife?

I can envisage major conflicts when a Christian nurse tries to tell a Hindu patient to convert, and might this lead to segregation according to faith?

And besides, don't hospitals have chaplains of various faiths to satisfy the religious needs of patients?

I go to my doctor for health care and if I were religious I would go to my church or temple for spiritual guidance. Keep the two separate or we will be entering a moral minefield.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cancer in the NHS

Patients in England suspected of suffering from cancer are to have the right to see a specialist within two weeks; and quite rightly so.

However, primary care trusts will be required to pay for private consultations if the timescale cannot be met.

There could also be financial penalties for failing to keep to the two-week limit, described at the moment as 'only a target'.

So, the underfunded, ailing NHS is given another target it has to meet. Failure will result in financial penalties, not just once but twice. Effectively the NHS will have to pay for its own demise, backdoor privatisation, and be fined to do so!

I believe the funding issue for the NHS has two root causes.

First, a significant proportion of the NHS budget pays managers and book-keepers whose focus is (financial) efficiency and cost cutting. This is not compatible with a non profit, state owned institution and is morally indefensible where healthcare is concerned.

Second, direct taxation, particularly for the wealthy has fallen significantly over the last 30 years resulting in less money to spend on the public services most of us, and in particular the poorest of us rely on. Hence the introduction of managers and book-keepers trying to cut costs but actually contributing to them through bloated salaries with no advantage to treatment.

These issues did not exist pre 1980 when hospitals were run by doctors and nurses and funding was adequate.

What the government should do is sack the managers and book-keepers and let the doctors and nurses run the hospitals on clinical grounds and direct employment of cleaners and other ancillary staff who will be directly accountable to the NHS.

This will mean more funding going to treatment rather than non-clinical staff and any shortfall should be paid for by those most able to pay, the wealthy through direct taxation.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pontcysyllte aqueduct

At last, some good news to comment on. The Pontcysyllte aqueduct has been given World Heritage status.

This is a magnificent piece of engineering, carrying the Llangollen canal over the valley of the River Dee. Built of cast iron and caulked with flannel dipped in boiling sugar and then sealed with lead!

The amazing thing is, as far as I am aware, this original and inventive caulking is still what holds the water in to this day, 204 years later.

Built by Thomas Telford and William Jessop it is over 1,000 feet long and stands on 120 foot tall masonry piers. Again, amazingly it is a mere 11 feet wide!

Some of today's engineers and architects would do well to take a leaf from their book and stop building concrete and glass horrors that might last 50 years.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

More Power for the Bank of England?

George Osborne, Shadow Chancellor and MP for Tatton suggests that a Tory administration would give more powers to the Bank of England to oversee financial institutions. Mr. Osborne says "The tripartite system between the chancellor, the Bank of England and the FSA has simply failed."

That may be so, but giving more control to the Bank of England will in my view create more problems. The Bank of England is a financial institute and quite rightly is wholly or at least mainly concerned with financial affairs. (Quite advantageous to rich Tories, I suggest.)

Better the Bank of England should be given control over financial considerations, but where these financial considerations have an impact on the social structure and the poorer members of society who have no means of controlling the decisions that impact on them, a body of politicians (multi party), charitable institutions, sociologists and independent thinkers should be a party to those decisions with a power of veto if the majority disagree with the Bank of England.

Each member of this committee should show they have no personal interests in the policy and decisions of the Bank of England over and above those of the ordinary citizen. To declare an interest should not be enough.

I consider that this committee should consist of volunteers who will not benefit from being a committee member. No wages, no expenses, merely a commitment to fair play and policies to benefit the people, not the rich people.

To prevent the super rich commandeering the committee, being the only ones who can afford to do it for free a reasonable allowance could be allowable for those that can show genuine hardship.

And how about a sub-committee of us plebeians, elected to the job by local people to whom the committee report and take a remit?

This is my suggestion for a fair system of financial and economic decision making. The mechanics of how it might work must be decided by those more able than I in such matters.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

£16m Rover Report

An independent report into the collapse of MG-Rover has been handed to the government. It cost £16m and took four years.

In 2005 Andrew Johnson and Steve Bloomfield for The Independent asked MG Rover Closure: 'What happened to all that money?'

The cost of support packages had £171m allocated and a projected likely spend was £146m. (Figures are from the National Audit Office. (Download Links in PDF format.)

It seems while the workforce were working overtime, seven days a week to try to make the plant and the company profitable and save their jobs, the 'Phoenix Four' were busy lining their pockets as quickly as possible in advance of the collapse.

When you look at the amount of money spent on closing the plant with the loss of 6,000 jobs, at least £187m (not counting the extra costs to the NHS treating depression and related problems, neither the lost revenue from 6,000 taxpayers or the impact on local communities, both financial and social.) it really doesn't seem to make economic, political or social sense. Even if they all got a job at Tesco's (suggested by Margaret Hodge, work and pensions minister at the time) the difference in wages, and therefore the tax they would pay would be considerable.

It seems to be just another case of the workforce making all the effort, the bosses taking all the credit and profit and the workforce paying the price. Oh yes, while the government stand back, with their gold-plated unassailable wages, expenses and pensions doing nothing but spout rhetoric and commission expensive 'independent' reports that give their pals a 'raison d'être'.

And I ask, what good will the report be? Will it highlight how things might have been done better, perhaps saving jobs? Probably not, but too late if it does. Will it highlight the failings of the Phoenix Four? Maybe, but will anything be done? Doubtful. Will it change government attitudes or produce a different strategy to save jobs in future? Well, ignoring the fact that this was the last big employer, certainly in the car industry, definitely in the West Midlands and so a similar situation is unlikely it won't change government attitudes until there is a change in political, social and economic thinking. The recent closure of LDV with a refusal to help from New Labour proves this. The banks got billions, changed little though this was a requirement of the funding and are now shedding staff. Yet the relative pittance LDV asked for as a bridging loan while takeover negotiations continued was refused.

This country was once great because of the industrial revolution; because of its strong manufacturing base and because of engineering skills this manufacturing base produced. This country is now collapsing socially, economically and politically because we are allowing these strengths to fail Lack of investment has led a decline (often blamed on unions and the workforce). In the 1970's I was milling cylinder heads on pre-war milling machines, drilling sumps on pre-war radial drills. We need to reverse this trend by injecting money into engineering and manufacturing alongside new technologies. It will be expensive and painful. But we might once again lead the world and make a better future for our children and our children's children.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson R.I.P. (Please!)

I am fed up of it. Every time I turn the TV on or go on the internet it's all Michael Jackson. Somebody has just likened his death to that of Elvis or Diana.

Now I didn't like the bloke. I didn't like Elvis or Diana. I accept there are those who do and they feel a loss at their passing. Grieve, but don't force it down my throat. But it isn't really news. It certainly isn't news now. We've all heard, now move on and do some real reporting and give us the news!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Smoking Ban

Birmingham MP John Hemming is calling for the smoking ban to be relaxed. It seems to be because of the number of pubs closing which has been associated with the ban.

I agree. The law as it stands is draconian. Much better, as was suggested would be smoking only rooms with staffed by employees who smoke themselves. One could also make it an option with the final say going to the landlord/lady.

If the government wants to ban something, ban chewing gum. It is everywhere, sticks to everything that comes into contact with it and probably harbours a plethora of bacteria and viruses.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Business Managers for Schools

Schools minister Vernon Coaker says a business manager could help schools ride out the recession, claiming they could save schools thousands of pounds per year.

The claim is that they can save head teachers up to 20% of their time to devote to teaching.

Well, I think it is just another bureaucrat creating bureaucracy to give jobs to the boys.

Margaret Thatcher did this in the 1980's. While she destroyed manufacturing, she created thousands of non-jobs paying intellectuals huge salaries to sort out finances and to manage in the National Health Service. Most weren't worried about people. The onus was on cutting costs. We've all seen the result of that.

Not only is this an issue, but also the move to privatise public service industries by the back door by introducing such jobs. Once the principle of 'business management' is accepted, we are on our way to privatising education. And isn't it odd that this idea has been thought up at a time when the government is meeting strong opposition to their attempt to introduce private academies?

Here are a few figures I have put together. Not scientific or statistically accurate. But accurate enough, I believe to give some idea of what we are heading towards. I got my figures by a Google search any one of you could try.



Average Salary

Minimum Salary

20% of Salary

Head Teacher

£ 100,000.00

£ 70,000.00

£ 20,000.00

£ 14,000.00

Business Manager

£ 50,000.00

£ 25,000.00




So you can see that even paying a business manager the minimum salary of £25,000, while saving 20% of the average salary of £100,000 of a head teacher (£20,000), the difference is £5,000 which presumably the business manager will have to save (cut) from the budget just to break even.

Pupils are already buying their own books. Where will it come from? Education is non-profit making and one of the most important public services we have. Do we want to see it brought to its knees like the health service?

So is this just another 'jobs for the boys' and/or a 'make it look like we're doing something' exercise?

Either way, we have seen what managers did to the health service. Do we want it to happen to our schools?


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

BNP... Banned or Marginalised?

There is talk of the Government banning teachers from being members of the BNP. Police officers are already not allowed to be members of the BNP. But I think this is a very dangerous road. While I do not agree with much of the opinion of this group, or their methods we are a democracy and like it or not they are a legitimate political party within that democracy.

If we are to ban certain groups from party membership then it must be across the board. Teachers and policemen should be banned from being members of any political party.

It is that or remove legitimacy and legal status from the party in question. Effectively, ban the BNP.

The problem is there are no legal grounds to do so. And so, in my opinion, there should be no grounds to ban certain groups from membership unless the ban extends to all political parties.

This leaves us in a paradox. Allow the BNP to use the democracy they despise to gain ever greater electoral gains, or destroy that democracy by banning a group because we don't like what they say.

However, I have a third way. The British people are rarely extreme in their views. So if the other political parties listen to us, curb immigration and remove undesirables I honestly believe the BNP will fade back into the obscurity they came from.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Iraq War Inquiry

It has been decided the Iraq War Inquiry will held in private and suddenly senior politicians are saying they would be happy to have a public inquiry. I ask why they didn't make their feelings public earlier. Why, now the decision is taken they are willing to speak publicly?

I suspect this is another attempt to undermine Gordon Brown. While not enamoured to the man or his politics, neither do I like underhand tactics from those that might wish to take his job.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

MP Beaten by thugs

Tobias Ellwood, Tory MP for Bournemouth East has been beaten by thugs. Will we see a change in policy and an end to kid gloves when dealing with yobs?

Or more likely a new law to protect public servants.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

EU agrees Irish treaty compromise

Political wheeling and dealing knows no bounds. Not moral bounds or physical boundaries. Not even political boundaries. Both left and right of the EU conniving to get a second referendum in Ireland for the Lisbon treaty they have already rejected. Concessions, called 'protocols' by the EU that guarantee Ireland freedom from EU interference in military neutrality, tax and abortion policy. This will only apply to Ireland but it is thought it will likely be attached to Croatia's EU accession treaty.

This must stand as one of the most manoeuvred and manipulated pieces of legislation in the history of politics. The EU were determined this would go through. The promise of a referendum for the British people was removed by renaming the Maastricht Treaty. They knew the vote would be against so they renamed it and denied us a vote, claiming it is a different treaty.

When the Irish valiantly insisted on a referendum and the referendum went against the treaty (remember, all member states must ratify the treaty) they asked the Irish to have another referendum. They refused so we see the latest manipulation to try to get the Irish on side.

This also highlights the lack of democracy in the EU.

My hope is that the Irish people reject the treaty in their second referendum in October.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Failing of Democracy through the Expenses Scandal

The elections are over and we see New Labour thoroughly thrashed in the European and local elections. And once again we see the gullibility of the electorate and the big flaw in democracy,

Starting at the beginning, we saw the Telegraph exposing the expenses scandal. What few people noticed was the Goebbels style propaganda coup- where the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth was told. But that truth was represented in such a way that the reporters and the newspaper editor knew would manipulate public opinion.

In the first week of the exposé we heard about the New Labour politicians (I use the term loosely!) inventive claims. Now as you will probably know from previous posts I am no lover of New Labour, or for that matter any of the three 'front runners' of the political spectrum. But why the emphasis on New Labour? Anybody with a modicum of intelligence would immediately realise politicians from all parties would have their snouts in the trough. In fact, I suspect there is almost a club culture where experienced politicians educate their newly elected brethren in creative claiming. The second week we began to see politicians from other parties exposed. Yet still most of the anger was directed at the Labour Party.

Most people might reasonably suppose that this is because they are the Government and as such carry the onus of responsibility. Yet this or some similar situation has probably existed since our modern parliament was conceived.

Let me explain by example. Hopefully, it will show how the truth can be manipulated and the next time a scandal is exposed or a headline misleads, you might be able to better understand the machinations of the media and how they manipulate us using psychological techniques- propaganda. In the early 1970's Ted Heaths' Tory government was brought down by two miner's strikes, one of which included the mass picketing of the Saltley coking plant.

I know it well. I was born almost next door in Cranby Street. At the time I still lived in Birmingham. We had the Evening Mail delivered every evening and one of the front-page headlines read "Policeman Hurt on Picket Line". This had the immediate effect of inflaming emotions and angering the average man in the street- even those who while not wholeheartedly supporting the miners might have felt some sympathy for their plight. It turned borderline opinion against the miners. How dare they picket and attack our policemen?

My father, on reading the headline but before reading the article immediately began a diatribe condemning all miners and trade unionists and suggesting they should be shot. I suspect this was the reaction of most people not educated in the expertise of manipulative journalism.

Reading on, the piece described how a policeman, not even on the picket line had been walking towards the coking plant and as he crossed the road, slipped on the kerb and twisted his ankle. This made no difference to most people. The emotions had been aroused by the headline and opinion had been formulated that all pickets were violent and that they had attacked the clumsy policeman.

One might argue that without the pickets there would be no need for him to have been there and he wouldn't have been hurt. Fair enough, that is an opinion. But why didn't the Mail report it so? Because it would not have been inflammatory. No, the Mail knew what it was doing and knew that regardless of the following story opinion would be formed by the headline and some would believe what they wanted to believe and ignore what was contrary to that belief.

And the same is true of the Telegraphs series of revelations. People read that Labour politicians were on the take. It was fed to them for a week and irrespective of subsequent revelations, the mould was set and New Labour was the cause and propagator of every conceivable ill.

Then came the elections. And what do the electorate do? Either didn't vote or chose a protest vote for an independent or minority party, the main result of which let the Tories in all over the country.

This is one of the big flaws in democracy. People using their vote as a form of protest. A free, secret vote is a very precious thing, hard won by the blood, sweat and tears of ordinary people. It should be used according to ones conscience and beliefs, not to stick it to a party that has offended – particularly when that party is not guilty in isolation, but part of a much wider conspiracy. And if you think that voting for an independent that is free of corruption is the answer, they are no purer in thought or deed than the politicians we have ousted. Granted, they are unlikely to stick their noses in the expenses trough, but how many politicians who have been caught with their fingers in the till do you think would risk continuing to deceive? And then there are those who remembered the New Labour corruption and voted Tory, forgetting they too were guilty as charged thanks to manipulative reporting.

So the protest vote has done little for British politics apart from confer power by default. It has done nothing for democracy besides expose one of its weaknesses.

It probably means that by the middle of 2010 we will have a Tory government who will win by a massive majority. They will believe, as in the 1980's that they have the mandate of the people and will convince enough of us that their economic strategies are essential for the good of the country and eventually we will all benefit. In fact the wealthy will get wealthier and the poor will get poorer and we will be repeatedly told by the White Queen 'The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday - but never jam to-day.'
(Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871))

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Democracy is the New ‘Opium of the People’

Re democracy; there is no democracy. Democracy is an illusion perpetuated by those that exploit its alleged freedoms. Changing electoral policy, demanding greater accountability will not give us democracy. While we have capitalism and power and wealth in the hands of the few, we shall remain a plutocracy. If you're happy with that, go ahead and 'tweak' the system. If not, civil disobedience and non-violent revolution suggest the way forward.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Violence at G20- but it wasn’t a protester....

Another video of a policeman apparently assaulting a peaceful protester has appeared on YouTube. It seems a (hopefully) small number of officer's use these protests as an excuse to throw their weight about and attack members of the public who genuinely feel a need to peacefully protest. It's no wonder the violent hijackers of such events get away with it. The police should concentrate on these thugs, or is that asking too much?

The most disturbing thing I see here is two alleged assaults (that we know about) by officers whose identifying numbers are obscured. It does smack of a conspiracy, that there is perhaps a group of nominated officers whose role is to either quell or provoke crowd disturbance. This may be confined to a small number of officers, with or without the tacit agreement of their superiors or even the government. Or it might, more frighteningly be a deliberate course of action, instigated and supported at the highest level to give credence to banning all forms of protest.

I accept that looking at the whole video there seems to be some disturbance in the crowd, but this is quickly aggravated by the apparent assault. And in all honesty, the woman appears merely to be speaking to the officer trying to make some kind of complaint and he just isn't interested.

The officer concerned has been identified as a member of the territorial support group, who are allowed to use violence but it must be proportionate to the circumstances. A woman half your size complaining doesn't seem to me to justify a slap in the face and a whack with a steel baton.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Criminal Injuries Compensation

Kevin Johnson was killed by three drunken yobs. His father's claim for criminal injuries compensation has been denied because his son contributed to his own death. How? He went to investigate a disturbance outside his home. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority said if he had stayed inside he would not have died.

I have several issues with this decision. Firstly, the only way we will stop these yobs and thugs is to be pro-active. Let them know we will not sit back and take the abuse. There also seems to be some mixed messages from the authorities. CICA seems to be telling us not to get involved while the police and government appear to say we, the public must involve ourselves to help the police in their fight against crime? How would Mr. Johnson do this if he didn't go outside to have any hope of identifying the offenders?

This raises the second question. Calling the police usually means a visit hours if not days after the event. I know this from experience. Twice I have called the police when drunken yobs were smashing my windows by throwing bottles at them. Total police involvement was to issue a crime number and send a letter from the chief constable.

I think the government should take a look at how, when and why compensation is paid. Or is this another cost cutting exercise?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Benefits the Banks

It is bad enough changing weekly benefits to fortnightly payments. I know from experience the hardship this change can produce. But telling the poorest, most vulnerable people in our supposedly rich and caring society they will lose a week's benefits because of the change is beyond belief. To add insult to injury the government are offering a loan to bridge the gap! At this time of recession the government should be looking at how better they can be helped, not hindered.

And this comes weeks after government bailout of the corrupt banking system to the tune of billions. Still, they have to get the money back somehow.

I urge everybody to write to their MP, and those affected to attend their local benefits office and demand a tribunal hearing to claim back the lost week's benefit.