Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
I've signed up to 'Back the Ban' - the campaign to support the ban on foxhunting.
If you believe that there is no place for animal cruelty in a modern, civilised society - Click here to sign up.
You may not have heard but the Tories fought the election promising a free vote in Parliament to repeal the ban. So now the Tories are back in government we need to be on our guard.
The greater the number of people who pledge their support, the more we can make people understand that we don't want to see a return to the spectacle of dogs ripping apart foxes in this country.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
I have drunk cider almost exclusively for well over thirty years. So I think it is great! I am also pleased to have something good to write about!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
On the Andrew Marr Show, May 2nd, just 4 days before the election David Cameron said he would not accept cuts to the NHS, international development or frontline services.
It would appear that ‘front line services’ has been re-defined. You don’t get much closer to the front line than a policeman or woman in the fight against crime and the work towards a better community for us all.
Or David Cameron either got it wrong or told a downright lie to win the election- in either case, should he be running the country?
But the Tories always do the same. Promise one thing while planning another. Meanwhile, the Tory pundits tell us ‘it was the Labour governments fault. They left a bigger mess than we thought’.
Don’t get me wrong. I class the New Labour administration as equally, if not more deceitful than the Tories. Both lied their way into power and continued to lie while advancing their own agenda rather than their election commitments.
This is where politics needs to be cleaned up. But with parliamentary privilege and rules that you can’t call a member a liar, it never will be.
These rules were introduced when a Member of Parliament was supposed to be trustworthy so wouldn’t tell lies but might [accidentally] get the facts wrong. So be polite, no calling him into disrepute for an [honest] mistake.
Nowadays we know what a thieving, lying bunch they are. So let’s do away with the niceties and start calling a spade a spade.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
According to a news report on BBC's Breakfast program, the pension age rise to 66 will mean that although you will lose one year's pension your pension at 66 will be 10% higher.
So, a pension of x at 65 will be a pension of x + 10% at age 66. This means living to 76 years the new retirement age will have no overall effect on the pension bill. Yes, that means no savings. 10 years of claiming pension from age 66 costs just the same as retiring at 65.
According to The Office for National Statistics, men will live to 76.4 years.
'Google' life expectancy UK and you will see other institutions give similar results.
Of course, this will mean fewer jobs for younger people. And if you are too ill to work until 66, it is likely the current incapacity/sickness benefits will be slashed so if you are lucky enough to be able to claim them, they won't be much.
The conclusions are several if men are to live until 76+, claiming their pension + 10% at age 66 with no overall reduction in costs-
- That we are being deliberately mislead, once again politicians fooling us into believing they are 'doing something'.
- That the problem will not be the current administrations problem.
- That as the pensionable age is forced up we will be worked to death before we claim a pension.
- That more draconian measures are planned.
It seems that old age, poverty, incapacity, inability and sickness is to be penalised so the banks can stay rich.
The 16 or so billion pound deficit is a drop in the ocean for the banks that caused the problems. Why are they not being made to pay?
Tens, if not hundreds of millions of pounds (http://www.moneyhospital.co.uk/blog/post/the-50-billion-british-bank-bail-out) of taxpayers money was used to bail out the banks, much more than the deficit. Make the banks repay the money and there will be no need for these draconian measures AND LOTS TO SPARE!
The problem is these measures are not about the deficit. They are about the traditional Tory values of making the poor pay for the luxuries and wealth of the rich.
Watching question time last night, Peter Hitchens, a noted traditionalist conservative said as much-
"it's all very well to say tax the rich, fine by me, tax the rich but there aren't enough rich people to make a substantial difference. If you have the kind of economy we have… you have to tax the poor, there isn't any other way you're going to afford it."
This is typical Tory policy. This is typical of Tory half-truths. Because while it may be arguable "there aren't enough rich people to make a substantial difference" the fact is that the dearth of rich people is more than compensated by the fact that currently 1% of the population hold 70% of the wealth.. I would argue that while there may not be enough rich people, they certainly hold enough of the wealth.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Public sector wage and pension cuts- less spending power
Benefit cuts- again, less spending power
How do Messrs Cameron and Clegg suppose this will ease the deficit? These actions may in the short term leave some money spare to pay off the deficit. But long term, they will mean less jobs, less spending, less growth.
More unemployed, so the benefit cuts will be wiped out by more people claiming lower benefits.
History shows us that penalising the poor- no, let’s call it what it is- making poverty a crime- is not the answer and it does not work. It was tried with 17th and 18th century parish poor relief and 19th century workhouses. The early 20th century saw benefits, but only if you could prove you were poor and had to sell anything not absolutely essential to life before relief was given.
In other words, a workhouse in your own home! So what happened? People died or turned to crime. Perhaps that is why Ken Clarke is considering cutting £2bn from the legal aid bill. We all know who that effects. Not Ken.
David Cameron, accompanied by a distinctly uncomfortable looking Nick Clegg effectively said benefit cuts, both in amount and those entitled to them would encourage people into work.
So would removing anti-Trades Union legislation and allowing higher wages thus negotiated. As one would expect in the Thatcherite free market economy. The other nail in this particular coffin is the prevalence of a generation of young people who have never worked or known job security and are perfectly able to make a good living selling drugs. Does he believe this underclass will worry if their benefits are cut?
Now, does he mean he will never claim it? Or does he mean he won't claim it unless the deficit is dealt with?
Well I'd like to say I couldn't care less. This problem has been caused by private financial institutions. Yet all I have seen or heard so far are cuts to wages, cuts to benefits and cuts to public services. In other words, public services and the neediest paying for the mistakes of wealthy bankers who STILL receive their massive bonuses.
And Ken Clarke, another of Thatchers Thugs is talking of £2bn cuts to legal aid and closing 103 magistrates courts. So if you protest the cuts and get arrested, don't expect to be represented- unless, like Ken you can afford to retain legal representation.
Nick Clegg tried to soften the blow by saying that public servants wage cuts will start at the top. Quite simply they are the ones who are most able to bear the burden and as for Cameron's attempt at empathy by giving up his pension, well I wish to hell I was wealthy enough to turn down £66,000 a year.
This is just a return to Thatcherism. The global economic recession and the deficit must have Cameron and his cronies laughing all the way to the bank. What a perfect excuse for austere financial restraints on the poorest to maintain the rich.
The only small light I can see is that Nick Clegg, confronted by an audience of ordinary people with Cameron looked decidedly uncomfortable. Though he tried to give the impression of unity, I can only hope he has become disillusioned with the coalition and that it hastens my prediction that we will see it collapse before September this year, leading to a general election. And I hope the Labour Party seize the opportunity to return to grass roots socialism and win a massive landslide victory.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Saturday, May 29, 2010
There is only one test here, irrespective of David Laws wealth, personal relationships or his character, be it good or bad. Did he or did he not illegally and knowingly claim and accept monies to which he was not entitled?
If the answer is yes, he should, like all the other thieving b*****s be brought to book in a criminal court, be stripped of office and barred from ever holding public office again.
But like the others, he will walk away with nothing more than having to pay back the alleged £40,000 he purloined. From his massive wealth it could be likened to me losing a pound.
Yet if you steal a packet of pork chops to feed your family your poverty or your hunger will not be an excuse. While you may be treated leniently by a judge or magistrate you will find yourself before one or the other and have a criminal record to be taken in to consideration should you find yourself before a court of law again.
And they try to tell us we live in a classless society? That we are all equal before the law? There is only one answer to this 'money talks' society thrust upon us by Thatcher and her 'ites' and that is a return to socialism.
To this end I hope to see Len McCluskey elected General Secretary of the Unite union. With millionaires abandoning New Labour they will have to rely on trades union funding once again and accept the agenda of the blue collar worker, not the wealthy entrepreneur or the City execs.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
There has been a lot of talk recently about the need for electoral and parliamentary reform.
I have an idea that I believe would be simple to instigate and virtually cost free. It would bring some real democracy to parliament and allow members of the house the individual freedom that all politicians claim is a basic human right.
On many issues, MPs vote according to his/her conscience or according to his/her constituents' wishes. However, there are circumstances where MPs are forced to vote according to party policy.
And these circumstances tend to be votes on the most important issues.
If we consider that MPs tend to agree with the policy of the party of which they are members, we can assume they will generally vote in accordance with that parties' policy. In the instances where the party whip is used to ensure MPs vote 'correctly' we can reasonably assume enough MPs disagree with the policy to vote against it and thus endanger its' success. In these circumstances it is not just MPs freedoms that are restricted by the party whip, but parliament's and by extension the wishes of the people. It removes the right of an individual to practice the democracy their party lays claim to.
So if we remove the party whip (not in the political sense, in the 'real world' sense of stop using it) and allow MPs to vote freely on all subjects, they will mostly vote within the policy dictates of their party, which presupposes it is in accord with the wishes of the people that elected them. Where party policy is opposed to an individual's beliefs, he or she should have the freedom to vote according to conscience which we all hope is in accord with the constituents that elected them.There is some debate that a change in the electoral system to proportional representation or a similar system of voting would call into question the constitutional rights and responsibilities of the monarch to dissolve parliament or to invite a party leader to form a government. While this may be a good thing, and I tend to this view I am also aware that it could also cause constitutional complications from which the democracy we currently enjoy might never recover. Put simply, we may, contrary to the popular assumption, leave ourselves open to a much less democratic system of government. Simply giving an elected representative of the people the right to vote according to his/her conscience or the wishes of his/her constituents, I believe would bring about some real democracy without the expense and complications associated with constitutional electoral change.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Worrying Emanations from the Coalition.
Theresa May, appointed Home Secretary is trying to sound diplomatic, democratic and caring. Unfortunately when we strip away the thin veneer of compassion we see little difference from Old School Tory thinking. And little difference from New Labour thinking.
She says that ID cards will be scrapped. What ID cards? I was under the impression that ID cards had been shelved long before the election. And, just like the previous administration, she doesn't mention the massive database on which the ID cards were to be based. It is not the cards themselves that are intrusive, and in the wrong (even government) hands downright dangerous. It is the database that stores the information, and not just name, age and fingerprints. The database is an organic, growing beast storing ever more information about people, gathered from every form, paper or electronic you fill in, from phone and email conversations and sundry other sources. The capacity for error is massive. The capacity for misuse is equally horrendous. Yet there is no mention of its being scrapped, along with the ID cards it was created for. in fact, there is no mention of it at all.
Personally, I wonder if the whole fiasco is actually a well defined plan. Producing the database might produce unease in the electorate, so we plan ID cards, build the database then if and when the protests become loud enough we scrap ID cards but maintain the database, which nobody has actually noticed. Nice one.
About the DNA database, she said: "One of the first things we will do is to ensure that all the people who have actually been convicted of a crime and are not present on it are actually on the DNA database."
"The last government did not do that. It focused on retaining the DNA data of people who were innocent."
Again, it sounds like what we want, but what does this mean? Since everybody convicted of a crime is automatically on the database, she must intend rounding up past criminals and putting them on the database. Does that mean a 50 year old man found guilty of stealing sweets when he was 14 will go on the database? Does it mean one mistake will have you on the database forever?
I am not against the DNA database, but I do think this is being used as political spin, saying what the politicians think we want to hear; if you are a criminal, you are on the database, if you aren't you won't be. What they should be saying is how they can use the technology fairly, more justly. For example, if your conviction is spent under the rehabilitation of offenders act, then your DNA should come off the database. This may well be the intention, but if so, say so.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said the coalition would go further than Labour's plan to save £20bn in the health service by efficiency savings over the next three years.
"Of course we do need to do that, and we may need to do more because we have increases in demand in the NHS and a need to improve the outcomes. Every penny that is saved by doing things better can be reinvested for the benefit of patients."
But patients will not benefit from the savings. There will be no reinvestment. Savings will be used to cut health service costs and consequently government funding.
So while it all looks shiny and new, scratch the surface and the foetid stained inner shows nothing much has changed and where there is change, it is not necessarily for the better.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
Saturday, May 08, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I think you’ll find Gordon, what she meant is she is still Labour but you and your cronies are not.
Monday, February 22, 2010
William Hague is accusing the New Labour government of deliberately failing in its economic strategy so that an incoming Tory government will be handed a 'poisoned chalice' of massive debt. Now to be fair, he does say 'an incoming government'. But we all know what he means.
I think that from my other posts you will see I am no lover of New Labour. But this claim is ridiculous in the extreme. First, this presupposes the Conservatives will win. Yes, I know it is looking likely. But surely the basis of this pronouncement is that the Tories intend whatever the condition of British finances to introduce massive public spending cuts to fund massive tax breaks for their wealthy pals. And this sets the scene, putting the public's mind in 'service cutting' mode.
And he forgets that New Labour might actually win. Would they want to return to power to face their own 'poisoned chalice'? It smacks of playground name-calling, hoping that if enough muck is thrown, some of it will stick.
I suggest you ignore the tactics of the gutter and take a close look at policies, not just of the big two or even the big three. But see who is saying what you believe. Forget a tactical vote to keep New Labour or the Tories out. Vote with your conscience and maybe we will see a surprise result. Maybe more people are thinking like you than you give credit.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
The Tories have come up with a plan to pay back the public for the investment in failing banks. The idea is to sell shares at discount prices to the public, with extra discounts for those on low-incomes and the young.
How will this help? With shares at hundreds or even thousands of pounds what kind of discount will they offer? If it is a large discount, selling shares at a few pounds then the banks will be disadvantaged and we will find a similar situation that the public investment was designed to ease. If it is a small discount, once again it will not be the less well off, but the Tories rich mates that will benefit.
Even if we ignore this and the obvious publicity stunt this is to catch a few votes, and accept it is a good thing and will help, we will see the shares bought up at slightly inflated prices that the small shareholders will see as attractive and a quick profit by the biggest and richest players and we shall be back to square one with the banks owned and run by a few rich individuals who care only about quick profit, whatever the cost.
Mainly, however we should look at the shares fiasco of the 1980's. It is obvious that the Tory Party has not learned anything, that it has not changed and is dogmatically following the tenets of Thatcherite monetarism. If that's what you want, vote for them. I want something different. Something none of the three major parties are offering. A return to the manufacturing base that made Britain great and paid high wages to ordinary people. A return to a system that put people before profits, not the utopian ideal that the benefits of capitalism and profit will inevitably trickle down to the less fortunate.
Saturday, February 06, 2010
There are two scandals in the news this week. The BAE Systems £208m out of court settlement and the three MP's and one lord, Elliot Morley, David Chaytor, Jim Devine and Lord Hanningfield who are trying to use Parliamentary Privilege to avoid a criminal case.
In the first situation, the £208m 'fine' paid by BAE seems a massive penalty. But when one considers they count their income at over £1,000m and cash flow in the thousands of millions, it pales into a rather less significant consequence. And it has avoided an open court which may have uncovered further wrongdoing; I think they got off lightly.
As for the MP's and lord, to break the rules sufficiently for prosecutors to believe a crime may have been committed and then try to use Parliamentary Privilege to avoid open court questions, I'll make this point. If your extravagant expense claims are truly mistakes, you have nothing to fear from a criminal prosecution, for you will surely be found not guilty. Or does 'nothing to fear if you've done nothing wrong' only apply to us lesser mortals, who often have only Legal Aid, which MP's seem intent on removing, to call to our defence.
These politicians should remember that Parliamentary Privilege was enshrined in law to prevent the monarch from interfering in the proceedings of Parliament, and prevented an MP from being impeached for proceedings or speeches made in Parliament. While I don't claim a full knowledge or understanding of the Privilege, it seems to me it was not designed to protect politicians from prosecution for criminal activity, inside or outside of Parliament.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Straight away, we hear 'job cuts inevitable after Kraft takeover'. Gordon Brown said the government was "determined" to ensure that Cadbury jobs were secure.
"We are determined that the levels of investment that take place in Cadbury in the United Kingdom are maintained and we are determined that, at a time when people are worried about their jobs, that jobs in Cadbury can be secure," he said.
Peter Mandelson added his two penneth saying Kraft's chairman and chief executive Irene Rosenfeld had already written to him to assure him of Kraft's "respect for Cadbury's heritage and employees".
He said he had now invited Ms Rosenfeld for talks on the details of Kraft's plans, which he said he would then immediately disclose to the Cadbury workforce.
Well he should have been discussing that before the takeover went ahead. Or was he fooled by the pre-emptive letter of assurance mentioned above?
I still say five years maximum before Cadbury's UK and production is moved abroad. Of course there will be financial reasons. Like wages are lower in South America or Eastern Europe.
A poor excuse for Cadbury employees and British industry.
Kraft has bought Cadbury's. Another British company owned by foreigners. I predict within 5 years Cadbury's in Birmingham will be gone and Cadbury's chocolate production will be moved abroad. They'll keep the name and they hope to keep the customer base and good will. If they move production abroad, I for one will not buy Cadbury's again.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Bosch has announced the closure of their plant in South Wales with the loss to the area of 900 jobs. The production will move to Hungary, where labour costs are 65% lower.
The BBC website headlines it as '900 Bosch workers to get support'. This is a devastating blow to jobs and communities. The headline is meaningless. People don't want support, they want their jobs.
The Welsh Assembly should demand repayment of the £21 million Bosch was given in 1991 as an incentive to locate there.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
For the first time in 350 years Englishmen face a trial without the benefit of a jury, the case presided over by a judge.
Will this mean an end to justice? Is it the first step away from our adversarial legal system toward the European model?
The men concerned are charged with serious crimes. (I'm not going into the details as I want to concentrate on the principles. You can read more detail HERE). Three trials have collapsed, the last of which was halted because of suspected jury fixing.
But should we remove the right to jury trials? I believe this to be a dangerous precedent. Better, in my view to house the jury securely so that here can be no question of interference and give the men a fair trial.
There are also the dangers inherent in leaving guilt and legal procedure and precedent in the hands of one judge.
I also suggest that if a jury can be omitted from the legal process on the grounds they may be at risk of being influenced, how long before a jury trial is suspended because a defence counsel may adversely affect the outcome of a trial by persuading a jury a defendant is not guilty?
"William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"
And there lies the danger. If we dismantle the law to convict the guilty, how will the law protect the innocent?
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Hi All Tamworth Watchers
Please pass this on to all your friends, family and other contacts.
I received this warning via my father in Australia where Norton Anti Virus who are gearing up for this virus!
You should be alert during the next few days . Do not open any message with an attachment entitled "POSTCARD FROM HALLMARK", regardless of who has sent it to you... It is a virus that first copies all your contact list and then shows you A POSTCARD IMAGE which burns out the whole of your hard disc of your computer.
This virus will be sent from someone who has your e-mail address in his/her contact list. This is the reason why you need to send this message to all your contacts.
If you receive this message called "POSTCARD" DO NOT OPEN IT! even if it has been sent from a friend, shut down you PC immediately. This is the worst Virus announced by CNN.
It has been classified by Microsoft as the most destructive virus ever. The virus was discovered by McAfee, and there is no repair possible yet. The virus simply destroys the Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital information is kept.
Saturday, January 09, 2010
Friday, January 08, 2010
Until reading this http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/beds/bucks/herts/8448469.stm article about the Muslim protesters who called British soldiers murderers, I have not really had a view on the case. I don't think British soldiers should be described as murderers. They act on the orders of their officers and are sent to war by the government. If anybody, it is they who should be the object of Muslim wrath. On the other hand, we are supposed to be a free country, and if we take away one person or group of people's freedom to demonstrate, we endanger the freedoms of everybody. But, they have chosen to live in Britain and should accept our way of life and foreign policy. But we can't expect everybody to give up all aspects of their beliefs and culture... and so the arguments could go on, a swing one way and then another.
In this enlightening article, Munim Abdul claims their behaviour was not threatening, abusive or likely to cause offence, because it was the truth. He went on to claim : "If it's the truth then there's no way they would find it upsetting" and "It's like calling a paedophile a paedophile, that's what he is."
That is where I took the view he and the six other defendants were wrong, morally if not legally. There are many things we are restricted from doing and saying, even though they may be or we may perceive them to be truths. For example, Mr. Abdul has a darker skin than I do. In Britain, we have a very specific law that prevents me from discriminating against Mr. Abdul, or from abusing him based on the very real truth that his skin is a different colour to mine. So arguing abuse is not abuse because it is the truth is at best very weak. It could also be very dangerous if this claim is upheld by a British court, because allowing a defence in this case on the basis that the abuse was truthful would allow a racist to use a similar defence.
"The man in charge of overhauling MPs' expenses denies backing away from some proposed radical reforms to the system."
Isn't whitewash mostly watered down?