Thursday, October 30, 2008

The creeping fascisim of the state continues

I couldn't believe this story when I hear it on the radio on my drive home:

Civil injunctions cannot be used against gangs in Birmingham, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

It upheld a judge's decision not to grant the city council such injunctions against alleged gang members.

The orders, which restricted movements and banned individuals from seeing each other, were used by the council instead of antisocial behaviour orders (Asbos).

The ruling means that the civil injunctions will not now be taken up across England and Wales.
I don't claim to have studied law or had the time to read a great deal about how our laws have been developed. What I have learnt, though, is that we have a legal system that has been set up to protect the citizen from the State. The reason is that the State has all the powers it needs to pursue a case against citizens and is therefore open to abusing those powers.

To counter this we have developed habeas corpus and that in law the State has to prove their case beyond all reasonable doubt. We also have Juries and and independent judiciary, another area under attack.

Civil injunctions and civil claims require a lower burden of proof, normally on the balance of probability. The reason we can accept lower burdens of proof is that these cases are normally used in disputes between citizens and the courts are effectively sorting an argument between too people. It is assumed that they both have access to the same levels of legal support and can't abuse due process.

It is therefore worrying that the State even thought it could turn to Civil Injunctions, but at least they were honest about it, I suppose:
BBC Correspondent Phil Mackie said the injunctions were used because county courts did not require the same level of proof as magistrates courts, which issue Asbos.
But that's not the end of it, oh no, no chance to show her fascist and populist credentials slips past our Home Secretary without being picked up and rammed through a compliant Parliament:

Mrs Smith said she was "disappointed" by the ruling.

She added: "I will be reviewing the decision and considering how we can support this sort of action that has been so successful in countering gangs, including changing the law if necessary.

"It is important to note that injunctions are just one of a range of tools and powers available to local areas."

It would be nice to think that there are some Labour MP's with balls who would stand up to this latest attack on our historical protection from the State, but even if they do the Tories are likely to support this populist move.

Long long live independent judges and lets hope the Lords back up the courts if this does end up being appealed or Labour try to put a new law on the statute books.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Georgina's revenge

I see Andrew Sach's granddaughter has issued a lengthy statement about what Brand said. Surely, as a woman, she had the ultimate revenge in a much shorter statement:

".. has a small willy and is a lousy lover, I never had an orgasm."
Good to see that something has happened, but the problem is the BBC, not the juveniles they stuff money at.

Everyone should spend at least 2 years self employed

Its chaos on the roads round here, the M40 is closed because of an accident and we had snow last night followed by a deep freeze. The main road at the top of my street is at a standstill and I can't get out to get to work. Fortunately I am salaried and can work from home, except I am supposed to be "up north" for an important meeting at 1pm, which couldn't get to because it took 45 minutes to do 3 miles.

Unlike a large proportion of the country, especially those employed by the state, I know what ts like to be self employed - if you I don't get to work you don't get paid as I was self employed and ran my own business for 6 years. As it happens I have some workmen in doing 2 separate, small, projects on the house. Neither set of workers can get in and as they are on a fixed price contract it means they have effectively lost a day's pay - they have my sympathy.

Being self employed really concentrates the mind on doing a good job as a key to generating the next one. The unevenness of the work teaches money management in a way no amount of preaching in schools and by politicians can. It also makes you really appreciate a salary when you get one, not the point of forelock tugging but the need to work hard to justify the salary.

As a friend once said when listening to some bureaucrat whinging about work conditions, perhaps they should be made to be self employed before they get their nice cushy jobs on a regular salary, they might appreciate them.

I think that in future if I am employing someone I will look for a period of self employment on their CV as part of the selection process.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On this day 1971 the House of Commons backed Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath and, by a majority of 112, voted for Britain to apply to join the EEC - the European Economic Community.

A truly dark day. However to be f

air at th etime the country was in a real mess and the feeling was that perhaps this would save us from our own politicians. Beware what you wish for!!

Fighting for peace is like F*****g for virginity

That's a slogan UK peacekeepers attached to the UN often get printed on T-shirts. I think its quite apposite.

I have been thinking of something equally pithy to describe Trevor Phillip's latest stupidity:

Britain should adopt a policy of positive discrimination in favour of disadvantaged whites or face a backlash of right-wing extremism, Trevor Phillips, the head of the equality watchdog, has warned.
I couldn't, but that doesn't mean I don't think he's an utter twat for thinking that any form of discrimination is good for the cohesion of society. All that will happen now is that the every bone head who can't be arsed to work will now feel that they are victims, instead of just being idle. I can see the BNP having a field day on this one and using it as a recruiting Sargent.

The sooner this quango is killed off and we are all allowed to go about our business with idiots like him looking for victims in every nook and cranny the better.

Schadenfreude seems most appropriate to this story

It seems like hedge funds have, to some extent, been hoist by their own petard:

Volkswagen’s shares more than doubled on Monday after Porsche moved to cement its control of Europe’s biggest carmaker and hedge funds, rushing to cover short positions, were forced to buy stock from a shrinking pool of shares in free float.

VW shares rose 147 per cent after Porsche unexpectedly disclosed that through the use of derivatives it had increased its stake in VW from 35 to 74.1 per cent, sparking outcry among investors, analysts and corporate governance experts.

I wish understood how these derivative thingies worked but they haven't half caught harry hedge fund on the hop:

Porsche revealed on Sunday that it held 31.5 per cent in derivatives in VW. Bafin, Germany’s financial regulator, recently ruled that companies were not obliged to disclose such positions where the derivatives were settled into cash rather than shares.

But the sudden disclosure meant there was a free float of only 5.8 per cent – the state of Lower Saxony owns 20.1 per cent – sparking panic among hedge funds. Many had bet on VW’s share price falling and the rise on Monday led to estimated losses among them of €10bn-€15bn ($12.5bn-$18.8bn).

“This was supposed to be a very low-risk trade and it’s a nuclear bomb which has gone off in people’s faces,” said one hedge fund manager.

I may not understand derivatives but I do no that if only 5.8% of a company's shares are in free float and:
As of last Thursday, according to consultancy Data Explorers, 12.9 per cent of VW’s shares were on loan for investors to go short and bet on them falling – the highest percentage of any German company.
Somebody, somewhere, is going to make an awful lot of money out of harry hedge fund.

Still, as one of them was saying on the BBC's Bottom Line radio program a few weeks ago, these are grown up investors using grown up people's money. I would still like to be on the conference call when they explain this loss though.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hang them, and hang them very high, but only after we have got our money back

To think our licence fee pays for these vulgar, infantile, antics:

Sachs, who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers, was expected to be a guest on the programme, but was unable to appear due to unforeseen circumstances.

Brand and Ross went on to leave a series of messages on the 78-year-old's voicemail during the two-hour radio show, which included obscene comments about Sachs' 23-year-old granddaughter.

In the first message, Ross suddenly swore and said Brand had slept with her.

The very fact they they did this, no matter how spontanauosly, shows that the organisation is rotten to the core. Doesn't anyone there set standards of decency and respect or are they all so bessotted by the stars who walk amonst them that they are blind to what is happening?

If that wasn't bad enough they they went on to make 3 more calls, treating the whole thing as a joke:

Later in the programme, Brand said the only way to rectify the incident was to make another call - but caused further offence after he suggested Sachs might kill himself because of the previous message's revelations.

A third call saw Brand and Ross singing an apology to the actor.

Brand sang: "I'd like to apologise for the terrible attacks, Andrew Sachs. I said some things I didn't have oughta [sic], like I had sex with your granddaughter."

During the fourth call, Brand said: "Now when I watch Fawlty Towers I think I'm going to think I've hurt his feelings."

What were the producers up to? Wasn't anyone else in the building listening and think it was time to put a stop to it? Why aren't we reading about these two oafs being sacked?


I've just seen the 6 o'clock news and learned it was a pre-recorded program. Right then, that's the 2 presenters, producer, editor and everyone in the management chain who is even remotely responsible for this program ahead of the politicians to the lamp posts.

Seriously though, can anyone think of a single reason why there shouldn't be sackings over this?

Conflicts of interest / duty

The Fat Bigot has written a good piece about why Mandelson doesn't have a conflict of interst and what he has is a conflict between personal interst and duty.

Details continue to be revealed about Lord Mandelson's dealings with Russia's aluminium bigwig. The coverage on television, in newspapers and on the radio is littered with the expression "conflict of interests". This phrase irritates me enormously because it is fundamentally inaccurate, indeed it is so inaccurate that it serves to play down the seriousness of the situation yet those who use it think it does the opposite. Let me explain.

Assume you are Billy Biggins, the EU Trade Commissioner, and you have to give advice and take decisions about levels of EU import duty on aluminium. Your decisions should be made only after all appropriate enquiries have been conducted and you have considered all relevant submissions made to you. The requirement to approach your job in that way has nothing to do with you personally, it goes with the job. Exactly the same obligations fall on every commissioner in every field. Those obligations arise out of the fact that you are under a duty to give impartial and properly considered advice and a duty to reach decisions only after considering all relevant circumstances. That is your duty to your employers.
He is right, personal interest should not an issue, the problem is that people like Mandelson seem to think that if something is in their personal interest it must therefore be in the interests of the rest of us.

More lazy soundbite reporting, a bit like the "shot to kill" reporting I have commented on before.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

On this day

in 1989, Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson resigned over policy differences with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. John Major replaced him.

I had always admired Lawson. Although not an economist I felt there was something behind his drive to simplify the tax regime.

John Major always struck me as an odd person, in the political and leadership sense. I couldn't understand how he rose so high as he struck me as what is known in military terms as a NEWT (not employable with troops). His ;lacklustre premiership demonstrated that and he was lucky that Kinnock blew the 1992 election.

In praise of English wines

I have been known to drink the odd glass of wine or six and I have quite a varied taste, without being snobbish about the subject (I think) although I am a member of the Wine Society.

My preferred whites are dry wines from New Zealand with Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc being my favourite. I was introduced to it whilst spending more time on BA planes than is healthy and made it worse by drinking rather a lot of the stuff. I don't know if they still serve it on BA but if you like a dry white give it a go. I really can't stand oaked Chardonnay -yuk.

I don't really have a favourite red and tend to go where the mood takes me and what is available but as an everyday drinking wine you can't go wrong with a Merlot. I also like Italian wines and reckon they are very much underrated, although on the expensive side for everyday drinking.

Today we were out for a drive to admire the colourful autumn splendour Chilterns and ended up dropping in to the Chiltern Winery in the Hamledon Valley. Their wines seem to have suffered a bit in the past couple of years because of the poor summers but are still very palatable. We picked up 6 reds, one of which we are quaffing now, and 6 white.

We went for the medium white as TGW-O doesn't like them too dry. As usual it is a very pleasant easy to drink wine with a touch of elderflower - I used to make my own wines when we lived in Dorset and elderflower was always a favourite.

The 2006 red is very interesting, its only 11% alcohol by volume but that makes a pleasant change as a lot of modern reds are verging on the fortified wine end of the spectrum and a bit too heavy for everyday drinking. It has an interesting "smokey" flavour and is definitely moorish.

I also bought a couple of bottles of their real ale but it didn't work too well with the curry we had this evening - my bad. Anyway its not bad under normal drinking conditions.

Ooops, TGW-O has just read this over my shoulder and pointed out that the red is from one of the private bina and was rather expensive - I wasn't paying attention when I bought it - it tasted nice so in the car it went!

Anyway, if you get the chance give this place a go, you get to taste the wines before you buy and they really are quite good.

USA Election

I've been following the through the Economist and BBC* and am becoming increasingly dismayed by both candidates and am starting to think that its a pity that they can't both lose.

I thought McCain might have some spirit and appeal to the bipartisan vote, but he seems to be playing more to the right than he really needs and this is worrying. His choice of Palin seemed inspired at first, but has been proved to be a big mistake.

Obama seems to be increasingly vacuous and concentrating on out Blairing Blair. I know the election is his to lose and that getting in to detail would be a mistake (as it would for the boy Dave), but when he speaks on the economy he seems to be completely devoid of ideas on how to stimulate the US economy beyond the normal rhetoric.

The problem with them both losing is that we would be stuck with Bush, surely the lamest of lame duck presidents in the USA'a history?

*You have no choice given they way they are covering it.

A celebrity admits enormous mistake while young

Regular readers will know that I have little time for the celebocracy* so you may be surprised that I am impressed by American rock star Ted Nugent** as reported by WM Briggs, Statistician:

Uncle Ted made an huge, enormous mistake when he was a young man. He purposely got himself out of the Vietnam draft. He knows he must answer for this moral crime. I am tempted to say, a la the media, this “youthful indiscretion”, but I won’t, because what he did was wrong. The only question now is: can we forgive him?

Regrettably, I did not serve in the military upon graduation from high school. For that I am truly sorry…I admit to self-imposed, near-total insulation from worldly truth and the reality of Vietnam…This is no excuse for my woeful and deep disconnect from the critical events of the world–and I don’t offer it as one—but it is the truth…In order to provide some sort of restitution for my youthful disconnect, I have done what I can over the years for members of the armed forces…My enlightenment, though slow in coming, eventually arrived.

He's quite a character and has some interesting aphorisms:
God gave man a soul; a powerful, instinctual moral and intellectual True North compass that completely differentiates us from all other living creatures….It is soulless to forbid a good citizen the right to carry a gun for self-protection while you dare to actually charge that citizen (subject) to pay for your armed security detail, Ted Kennedy.
I'm not keen on one and all carrying guns but he does have a point.

Go and read the whole post about him, it will get you thinking.

*Fatuous people who are famous for being famous whose every word is fawned upon by the hard of thinking MSM who report their drivel, no matter how unintelligent, as if it was the last word that needs to be said on any subject. Global warming is a specialty of this group!

** I'm not really a fan but you can see why he gets American audiences rocking:

In defence of speed cameras

Much has been written about Swindon Council's decision to ban speed cameras with Longrider , as usual, writing a very good piece:

I see that the righteous (TM Leg-Iron) are getting their knickers in a predictable knot over the decision by Swindon Council to do away with their speed cameras.

The decision is a pragmatic one underpinned by common sense – something that is sadly lacking in politics today – both at a local and national level.

Swindon has became the first town in the UK to do away with fixed-point speed cameras.

The nine-strong cabinet of the Tory-run council voted unanimously in favour of withdrawing from the Wiltshire and Swindon Safety Camera Partnership.

This does not mean – as the righteous would have us believe – that Swindon is about to become a boy racer’s paradise.

Police will still be out and about with hand-held speed-measuring devices. Mr Greenhalgh added: “We will be working very closely with our partners, including police in the road safety partnership to deliver a plan that reduced the number of people being killed on the roads in Swindon.”

This is how enforcement should work – it should be dynamic and respond to changes in traffic flows and patterns. The police, being people, will be able to make judgements about where to place traps (as, indeed, they used to do before the obsession with cameras). They will also be able to observe the offender’s driving and make a judgement about whether to caution or prosecute. Sometimes a ticking off along with a lecture about appropriate speed for the circumstances, along with a caution is the correct response to an otherwise competent driver who is marginally over the speed limit. This, of course, flies in the face of the righteous’ shrill assertions that “speed kills”. It does not. What does kill is bad driving, which may, or may not, involve excessive speed for the situation. Driving is a holistic activity and there is more to it than speed. Indeed, too much time concentrating on the speedometer is counter productive. The driver should be watching the road for changing conditions, road hazards and traffic and adjust the drive accordingly.

I'm not about to join the ranks of the Righteous* but at the same time I don't think speed cameras were all bad; it was the capricious use of them and the police using them as an excuse not to to police the roads properly that is the problem.

One of the unintended consequences of the shift from policing to the reliance on speed cameras is that bad and selfish drivers can ignore speed limits, general driving laws and driving etiquette, safe in the knowledge that the police won't be around to catch them. Only today someone went past me as I was doing 30mph in a 30mph zone. He (it was a he) probably knew there weren't any cameras through this village and didn't seem to care that he did this at the entrance to a children's play area.

So why would I defend speed cameras, especially as I am not averse to speeding on motorways and de-restricted area? Because when they are used judiciously they wake up the dozy driver who isn't paying attention. Let me give an example of something I see al too often, and not just on this road.

I regularly travel the B282 from Marlow to Stokenchurch. The speed limit leaving Marlow is 30mph and a few times I have been overtaken in it or seen a car in front pulling away from me. Once we hit the de-restricted area I get my foot down** and invariably get stuck behind one of these cars and it is impossible to pass. We then dawdle along at 45 or 50mph until we reach Lane End.

At this point we hit another 30mph zone, I slow down and the car in front starts pulling away without even a blip on their brake lights to acknowledge the change is speed limits. Once through Lane End I catch them and the whole thing starts again, with me stuck until we get to the 40mph zone of Cadmore End, when they get to pull away again.

Its not that they are speeding that worries me, its that they obviously aren't paying attention because their speed doesn't vary. One has to wonder how they would cope if, say, a child stepped out? In this case I think a camera on entry to Lane End would slow them down and once they have slowed they are more likely to at least start paying attention to the world around them.

What is really galling is that there is a speed camera on the way out of Lane End to Marlow which is obviously there for revenue generation.

So, whilst in general I agree that Swindon Council's move is to be applauded, I just hope they haven't thrown the baby out with the bath water.

*Leg Iron has a wonderful autobiographical series of posts about the Righteous, which start here.

** I tend to limit my speed to 70mph max on this stretches, depending on the weather, road conditions and time of day

Friday, October 24, 2008

Letter of the day

I was half listening to Radio 4 at 6:40 this morning and missed which paper this was in, but I did catch the gist of the letter:


If increasing public spending during the good times is a good idea and increasing public spending during down turns is also a good idea, when is a a good time to put something by?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Climate protestor had a good point until...

Police "over-egg" the number of people taking part in demonstrations to justify the amount of cash they have spent, a climate protester has claimed.

Phil McLeish, from Climate Camp, said police used to "downplay" the number of protesters at demonstrations.

Reading the article I felt he had a point:

"Police will, at least nowadays, will want to overload the march with police officers, so a typical ratio between police and protesters now could easily be one-to-one, which 10 or 15 years ago was never the case.
Based on anecdotally eveidence I have to agree, whenever you see a demo nowadays it is lined with police and sometimes it looks like they are being a bit OTT, which can be provocative as well as expensive:

Freedom of Information requests suggest £5.9m was spent on policing at a recent climate camp protest, which he said worked out at about "£4,000 a head," said the climate campaigner.

"The police - having committed resources like that - have got to pretend that there is something to police," he added.

Just as you are being lulled into sympathy, if if he is deluded in his beliefs, his true colours start flying:
He also accused officers of acting like "private security guards" to protect the property of firms such as BAA and the Kingsnorth coal fired power station, in Kent, owned by E.on, both targeted recently by climate camp campaigners.
Listen you bozo, this private property and the police are paid to protect private property. It one of the few things we want the state to do, protecting us. Just because you managed to con a jury that you actions were somehow justified it doesn't give you the right to attack private property whenever you like.
Climate Camp claims to have "outsmarted 26 police forces" during their week-long protest outside the Kingsnorth power station in August, which culminated in an attempt to shut down the plant.
Ah, so what you are really complaining about is that you didn't want to have a peaceful, lawful protest, you wanted to try to outwit them so you could break the law. And you wonder why there was lots of police around? Given you got through there obviously wasn't enough police on duty.

Given his own testimony Climate Camp should be banned from having protest and if they do this git should be personally surcharged the full cost of the policing action required to keep it peaceful. It because of twats like him that genuine peaceful protesters are being harrased and banned from Parliament square.

At while I'm at it Richard North can piss of as well:
Richard North, of the Social Affairs Unit think tank, told MPs and peers: "Society should rethink its attitude that anyone who protests is probably on the side of the angels".

The rights of those targeted by protesters mattered as much as those of protesters, he argued, and Parliament should not be "trumped" by demonstrations or indulge the "fantasies" of those taking part in them that that they were "scruffily clad peasants" taking on a "state behemoth".

I would go in to a DK rant about him if I had time

On this day

in 1974, a bomb exploded in a London restaurant near to where opposition leader Edward Heath was dining. Three members of staff were injured


1975, the 'Guildford Four' were sentenced to life imprisonment after being found guilty of planting IRA bombs in pubs in Guildford and Woolwich. Fifteen years later they had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal, following an extensive inquiry into the original police investigation.

Funnily enough I don't remember calls for 42 days detention* of the creation of a national database.

*Yes I know it hasn't been passed, but it hasn't gone away and their is no indication that our leaders are any less authoritarian for having to drop it

The silver lining to all the economic doom and gllom

Guido sums up the state we are in quite succinctly:

Government borrowing is at record levels, unemployment is heading towards two million, car workers are on a 3-day week, public sector workers are threatening strikes, nationalisation is back, Deripaska-owned Leyland is even in back the news. To complete the whole 70s era feel we have a sterling collapse. 20% since the beginning of the year...
And then we have this from the BBC:
Factory gloom 'worst since 1980' Falling demand for UK-made goods and a drop in output has caused the sharpest single-quarter fall in manufacturing confidence in 28 years, a survey says.

The CBI survey found only 4% of firms surveyed were more optimistic than three months earlier, against 64% who were less optimistic.

So the silver lining?

Now that Labour have fucked up a boom so badly, despite promising the end of the economic cycle, perhaps they will stop using the mantra of the Tories boom and bust in the 80's to imply that only Labour can manage a modern economy.

The difference is that in the 80's the Tories had to sort out the mess made by Labour and the corporatist Heath Governments and were starting from a very low base line. Labour inherited a growing economy in a country that had had most of the economic mill stones removed - bloated and inefficient public services, bullying unions and failed nationalised industries privatised or closed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

There but for the grace....

In 1979 my father was taking me back to Catterick one Sunday evening after dropping my brother off at York railway station. As we drove up the A1 near Wetherby the traffic came to a halt with us all pulling in to the left hand lane of what was a dual carriage way.

It was a nice clear early spring evening and there was a police car on the central reservation with his blue flashing light extended about 6' into the air. Lane 2 was clear as was the hard shoulder and most of the wide central reservation.

Just as we came to a halt my dad screamed for me to hold on. This was immediately followed by a large bang and our car was shoved in to the car in front. Fortunately my father was an experienced driver and had left a good bit of space but it was still a hell of a smash. When I looked behind me I realised that the back of the car was on fire and that we needed to get out quickly which fortunately we both managed to get out without any problem as the force of the crash could easily jammed the doors.

The 2 police officers from the patrol car were there in seconds with fire extinguishers but our car was a blazing inferno within 30 seconds.

The car that ran in to us was driven by a middle aged man who was accompanied by his wife and three young children. Fortunately they weren't badly hurt, although there was lots of screaming and wailing, especially from the mother who clutched her children.

I never did find out why he drove in to the back of us rather than any of the escape routes he had; maybe they were arguing, maybe he was distracted by the children, maybe he dozed off. It doesn't matter because we all got out alive.

I think you'll understand that whenever I see a story like this one I shudder and count my blessings, as well as shedding a tear or two.

So, if you are ever approach a traffic jam, slow early and leave plenty of room for a possible escape, keep an eye on whats going on behind and prepare to accelerate out of trouble. It might piss people off behind you but sdaly these types of accident are far too common, although not always as tragic.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Spurs Humour

Juande Ramos, shortly after another training session, comments to the head groundsman at White Hart Lane how impressive the pitch is looking.

"It ought to," replied the groundsman, "We put 70 million quid's worth of shit on it every week."

Chaos in our classrooms is the problem and don't blame the teachers

TGW-O was a reception teacher in a fairly stable middle class school and found that the job was getting stressful because of the degeneration of the behaviour of the children. This pushed her in to leaving the profession in 1998, as soon as we could afford it.

With this in mind, I am never totally surprised by what I read on the "To Miss With Love Blog", depressing as it is.

Just in case anyone is in doubt about where the problem lies :

Hmm. Twenty-four children, three adults, one of whom is an excellent teacher and still there is utter chaos. What does that tell us about education in Britain today? A LACK OF MONEY IS NOT THE PROBLEM. CLASS SIZE IS NOT THE PROBLEM. A LACK OF STAFF IS NOT THE PROBLEM. STAFF NOT BEING TALENTED ENOUGH IS NOT THE PROBLEM.


And this isn't a "black" problem, it is becoming endemic in society.

What to do about it? She has some intersting thoughts in this post which you may find surprising because she is definately from the left:
4. Ban Diane Abbott from speaking full stop. And stop the media from encouraging a racial divide. Oh, and ban Polly Toynbee too. In fact, let's just throw them in a prison cell together... :)
She's obviously never heard of hempen rope and lamp posts, but solitary confinement in prison is a start. I would go further and add in all the "apologists" for bad and poor behaviour - see the post mentioned above.
11. Allow schools to make up their own criteria for entry. Parents would be forced to compete with each other for places in schools, over meaningful criteria - not whether or not you live near a school or have a sibling that goes there.
If prison doesn't work this one will cause those in 4 to explode in a puff of righteous indigantion. A bit of healthy competition should help and I would add vouchers as well. It may lead to a few sink schools, but at least the majority will benefit and not be hel down by the lowest common denominator.

Perhaps we need to return to residential Approved Schools for the worst behaved children?
15. Ban free education. Everyone has to pay – something. All textbooks, exercise books etc must be paid for. How much one pays in fees may be decided by one’s income. There would have to be a system – like the tax system.
Interesting idea from someone on the left, but it should help deal with the Tragedy of the Commons issues. Its definately worth a try.
20. Give governing bodies and Heads the power to fire people. And then begin by firing about 20% of the teaching profession, which includes those at the top. Oh, and as an extra, fire most of the people who work in Local Authorities and various educational bodies like the Specialist School and Academies Trust etc. Yeah, fire the lot of them.
Wow, that could be straight from the Devil's Kitchen except it doesn't contain swear words or painful death, but the sentiments are the same.

Often we hear that parenting classes are the solution. I have always been against them on the basis that it would be just more socialist one size fits all bull shit. However the more I read about the problems of bad behaviour that more I become resigned to giving it a try, surely it can't make things worse*?

I certainly recommend adding her to your reading list, deressing as the tales can be, as an antidote to the waffle and crap we get from Ed Balls and the rest of the education establishment.

*Famous last words!

Their banality knows no bounds

So how are our glorious leaders going to fix the economy to ease the pain of the recession? They are going to review the right for parents to request flexible working:

Plans to increase parents' rights to request flexible working are to be reconsidered, Downing Street says.

No 10 said Business Secretary Lord Mandelson was looking at "all regulations due to come into force", given the economic uncertainty.

Bloody hell, not only did they waste a load of time deciding we need a law to allow workers the right to do something they could do anyway, we are now going to have a load of angst over whether it should be come in to law! Were these people born stupid or do they practice?

It comes to something when even Brenden Barber of the TUC can see how idiotic they are being:

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Postponing a simple right to request flexible working would not save a single job in the small business sector. If such a request harms the business, the owner can say no.

"This would be an astonishingly irrelevant response to the severe economic downturn that we face and, in addition, would run the risk of sending a message to working parents that the government is not on their side."

FFS we'll be better off with them doing nothing if this is the best they can come up with! Lets send them all on holiday now and ask them to come back in 2010 when we have to have a general election and we can deliver a real verdict.

Tea's ready, just in time to save my heart from more stress!

Saving and wasting money the local authority way

At the start of summer my local authority in Bucks decided to save money by turning off the street lamps on the A40 as it passes through our village to save money. They've done this in a number of other areas as well. I'm OK with that as the light pollution is irritating and any way to reduce council taxes is welcome. The only irritant is that they used this as an excuse speed limits to ridiculously low speeds and it now takes forever to get anywhere.

I was in town lat night and noticed that all the Christmas lights are going up in all the same places with no attempt to save money.

Yes I am a "bah humbug" when it comes to the over the top Christmas celebrations, but that still doesn't mean they couldn't look to save money there as well. Maybe only have them on for one week?

I think I shall write to someone about this and let you know if I get any sense.

What are politicians for?

Seriously, what do we need politicians for? I ask this following a discussion with The Sprog over over a beer and pizza last night when he raised this interesting point. Regular readers may remember that The Sprog did A Level politics and sociology with AS economics and we have had regular debates on current affairs and politics since he was about 10.

As The Sprog put it, in the past politicians all told us they wanted to make our lives better; we may not agree with it but be they socialists, Marxists or even Tories, the message from all of them was that they wanted to make our lives better. All we had to do was decide which set had the best arguments to achieve that aim.

Now they all seem to be vying with each other to take away our freedoms and restrict us from doing what we enjoy as they promise to protect us from the latest self induced "nightmare". They use terrorism, climate change, smoking, drinking, youth gangs and any other manner of tosh to justify their control freakery.

He has a good point. Wouldn't it be nice to hear a politician saying that all he wants to do is make us richer and freerer?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The TGS free trade theory

A good week's sailing, lots of good wind and good crew. More to drink and eat in a week than I would normally do in month, so more gym work to be had!

We were joined by an extra person for the last night which led t a rather bizarre alcohol fuelled debate. We got on to the subject of trade and the EU. new crew insisted that we needed to be part of the EU as it would give us economies of scale when it came to trade. I pointed out that I would rather have the scale of the world and that the EU was stopping me trading as I liked.

This went on for a while and he wouldn't see that the EU was distorting trade by using trade barriers. I used the example of New Zealand lamb and that it should be up to me whether I want to buy it or not. His view was that they now traded in Asia wouldn't want to trade with us!

In the end he christened my view that trading with the whole world would be the best way out of the world recession disparagingly as "Simon's free trade theory". By now I had lost the will to live and couldn't be bothered arguing with someone who thinks trading with the EU is preferable to trading with the whole world and that it wasn't my theory.

What was worrying is that he works in a senior IT position in the City writing programs for traders!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Rewarding bankers, an idea from the past

In my consulting days I worked on a number of projects alongside management consultants and investment bankers. My role tended to be fairly minor, looking at the Capex and Opex part of a business plan to build a telecoms network, generally a mobile project. This gave me an insight into how they work and the issues they consider. As this was during and after the tech bubble it has some parallels to where we are now.

One thing to remember is that bankers are nothing more than salesmen, be they selling you a loan to go to college, buy a car or build a mobile network, they are selling you money. In this respect investment bankers are no different to a car salesman or any other salesman, if they don't sell they very quickly go hungry. And like the car salesman they tend to be rewarded with a percentage of the sale*. What is different is that the car salesman my make, say 1% of a £5,000 deal, an investment banker on the same 1% would be making it on a £500m deal ie £5m. This is where the big numbers come from and you can see why they are under pressure to make those loans, sorry investments.

The difference is that investment loans are hugely complicated which is why we need bright people figuring them out and choosing the best investments and risks. They also tend to be quite self centred egotists with a liking for the better things in life and some I met had a sense of entitlement that would make an MP looking at the latest John Lewis list blush.

So, the question that keeps getting posed is how to stop greed and instant gratification corrupting investment decisions and turning it to our advantage? I was thinking about that and my late Godfather sprang to mind. He too was a financial salesman and started just after the war selling life insurance policies on a door to door basis in Bradford and Leeds.

He had a very comfortable middle age and retirement but a very tight start to his working life because of the way he was remunerated. When I was having a few beers with him he explained to me how it had worked. He was paid a pittance of a salary which did nothing more than cover his daily food bill, but even more interesting was that he received very little in commission on the sale. What he did get, though, was an income stream from each policy as long as it was maintained, but he made the most money when they matured and paid out to his clients. He got very little if they cashed in early and sod all if they stopped paying.

This gave him the incentive to sell the right product to people who not only needed them but could afford them. Long after he stopped working hard at the age of about 45 he received a regular income and was able to spend an inordinate amount of time on the golf course.

So how do we translate this to bankers? Fairly easy I would have thought. Just give them a % of loans that are paid back, when they are paid back. I don't have a problem with them making 7 or 8 figure commissions, just that they only make it on the good ones and make very little on the bad ones.

This principle could also be applied to company bosses; again I have no problem with them being well paid when successful, its the pay off's to bad bosses that irks.

*The numbers I give are illustrative but from memory not far from reality

On hols again

I'm off for a week to learn to sail big yachts as opposed to my little dinghy so no blogging.

If you hear of a boat colliding with an oil tanker or channel ferry it means some idiot let me have a go at the steering wheel.

Have a good week and here's hoping that some stability returns to the markets before I get back, but I doubt it given the interventions of our hyper active Prime Minister.

Taking risk out of banking is the wrong approach

This* letter in the this week's Economist sums up the over reaction to the credit crunch:

SIR – Surely the present crisis offers a chance to remodel banking as a highly regulated industry that takes few risks and accepts low levels of profit. A duller banking industry with fewer brilliant managers could help to support more sustainable growth for everyone.

Daniel Currie

Not only is this attitude patronising, it is also undesirable and dangerous.

It is patronising because it assumes that none of are capable of making our own investment decisions and that only Government appointed bankers can make investments that are Government approved. Well I can make my own decisions and work out my own risk profile, thank you. I have been doing this for a number of years and frankly don't want my money invested in politicians pet political projects in pursuit of their own re-election.**

It is dangerous for a number of reasons. Firstly, it gives the false impression that there is a way to reduce risk to a point where there isn't any. This takes away moral hazard and means that should there be any failure, whatsoever, the Government will have to reimburse all losses, no matter how incurred.

Secondly, it dangerous because it will shuffle money into doomed projects in the name of political expediency. Yes, I know that goes on now but if politicians can direct banks it will hide the mistakes off balance sheet and we won't be able to hold ministers to account. A classic example would be the car industry where £billions of tax payers money was pumped in to British Leyland and DeLorean.

But its not just that the investments are wasted, there is the opportunity cost. By investing in lousy projects good projects eg computers, mobile phone networks, drugs R&D and even charitable investments will go without, making our lives in poorer.

What we should be calling for is greater transparency and more education, and I don't mean in schools. All people have to know is that the higher the return the higher the risk and that they are responsible for their own decisions. Yes we need some level of deposit guarantee on banks, if only to protect them from a run, but it doesn't need to be on all accounts and should be clearly flagged which accounts carry it.

Make people responsible and they Will act responsibly***. And by that I include bankers. If they know that the risks are high and that they won't be bailed out by politicians they will figure out which risks to take far better than any politician or bureaucrat, but if they fail we all know the the risks we took.

*I think is part of the subscription service so you may not be able to link to it so I copied in full

** And yes I have made a few bad choices, I bought a Japan PEP fund a few years ago that is now at about 50% of the original value! My choice - I would have enjoyed the upside so I don't expect anyone else to cover the down side.

*** If that isn't a quote by a famous person it should be.

Bloody hell, there is just so much wrong with this!

This story, via Bystander, had me swearing over my morning cup of tea, fortunately TGWo was out of earshot. This is the gist of the story:

Gardener arrested and taken to court for carrying work scythe in van

A judge has ordered the Crown Prosecution Service to make a public apology to a gardener who was arrested and taken to court for carrying a scythe which he said he needed for his work.

Peter Drew, 49, a self employed ground clearance contractor, had the scythe and other bladed tools in his work van when he was stopped by police on his way to a job in Penzance, Cornwall.

He told police he used the equipment in the course of his work but he was charged with possessing a bladed instrument in a public place and the case proceeded to the courts.


Judge Paul Darlow freed Mr Drew and said: "I want to find out why we have got to the start of the trial and the CPS is suddenly saying 'Oops'.

"I do not think the CPS can escape criticism or blame if they leave it to the last minute to make up their minds. We despair of trying to run these courts in any sort of efficient way.

Firstly, well done the Judge, its a pity he didn't charge the CPS and Police for wasting public funds though. Perhaps docking individual's pay might concetrate their minds.

So what about the apology?
The prosecuting counsel, Philip Lee, responded: "On behalf of the CPS I apologise that it has taken this long.
Leaving aside, for now, that it even got to the CPS isn't there someone, anyone, in the CPS with an ounce of gumption? FFS, the first person to see this file should have taken one look and thrown it in the bin and sent a terse email to the police to stop wasting their time. If there isn't a lawyer with the balls to do that then let the cleaner or tea lady have a go, they can't be any worse and they will at least bring some reality to the proceedings.

But what were the police up to in the first place? OK, we don't know why he was stopped and I am sure that, given he once ran he second hand shop, that there is a good chance he was "known to the police", so maybe they were right to check his story. A few quick phone calls should have sorted that out:
Mr Drew, of Heamoor, near Penzance, said he obtained written references from clients, whose gardens he had cleared, confirming they had seen him use the scythe and other bladed tools to cut down undergrowth and brambles.
Great, now he's having to prove his innocence and even then he still has to wait 8 months for this to end with the CPS offering no case. What are the police managers up to? Don't answer that yet, there's worse to come from Inspector Gadget. Perhaps the police also need a cleaner to manage them as well.

As Bystander says:
I don't suppose he will ever get his prints and DNA off the database, either.
No, he probably won't. Only another 56m to go before we're all on the register

And to think senior police officers and politicians wonder why the public have little faith in them. perhaps it because nobody in the police service* seems capable thinking for themselves.

But we shouldn't really be surprised its come to this after years of governments trying to fiddle the figures on crime and detection. As this post from Inspector Gadget, again courtesy Bystander, shows:

I imagine that he [a Detective Chief Inspector] is fairly humiliated to find himself as a glorified accountant. Known as the Divisional Crime Performance Manager, he is now reduced to sending out regular motivational emails about the sanctioned detected rates. ‘only 40 more detected crimes in the next two weeks to reach our target – that’s 4 per day – keep up the pressure folks – you know we can do it’. The only interest I have in this email is the admission that CID regard a week as consisting of five days. And what’s all this ‘we’ business?

As we get closer to the end of the month, these emails are faintly embarrassing. Watching a previously highly regarded professional become increasingly desperate is never nice. Especially when you are at the management meetings that precede the emails. Especially when you hear how the Divisional Crime Management Unit ‘validate’ crime reports. Especially when you can taste the contempt these people feel for themselves for playing this game.

Has it really come to this? A DCI whose main reason for being in the building is to ‘manage’ the government’s latest crackpot way of measuring police performance?

If that doesn't make you want to grab the nearest politician by the throat and try to shake some sense in to them, nothing will.

I'm off to calm down now before I start doing some DIY with sharp instruments, which is not a good idea when the rage has descended.

*I cringe every time I see or use that phrase, reverting to a police force might be a good first step in repairing their battered "brand".

Saturday, October 11, 2008

England Football Fans are a Disgrace

I'm fast coming to the conclusion that the sooner English football suffers it own credit crunch and collapses under the weight of its own self importance the better.

I don't go out of my way to watch football nowaday's, but as I was around I had the game against Kazakhstan on whilst doing a few chores, the main one being the ironing*. Anyway, Ashley Cole made the kind of mistake that gave a goal away that if you or I had made we would be having an interview without coffee with our boss. I've seen a lot worse in a football match, Gary Sprake throwing the ball in to his own net eg, but for some reason the England fans started to boo him every time he touched the ball.

Bad as the mistake was there was I could see no reason for this booing, surely it would put off England who were leading 2-1 at the time; didn't these idiots want England to win** and qualify for the World Cup finals? Obviously not.

A bit later I turned on R5L and Alan Green was on hosting a phone-in. Apparently he had been his normal scathing self during the game and referred to the booing fans as morons. I was surprised by the vitriol of the callers who not only lambasted Cole but also Alan Green, on the basis that as they paid his wages via the telly tax he had no right to call the fans morons.

Anyway, it turns out that Cole once said that he wouldn't get out of bed for less than £55k per week which for some reason fans didn't like. Probably a stupid thing to say, but in a sport of arrogant young men with more money than a city banker*** this shouldn't really come as a surprise to the fans. It also turns out that when he scores a goal he goes to the opposing fans and makes gestures that imply they should shut up - I presume because he gets barracked by them. Surely footballer mocks fans is a dog bites mad story?

The more this type of thing goes on in English football the more people like me lose interest. Eventually advertisers will realise that the audience is drifting away and they won't pay the rates demanded by Ch3 and Sky. If that does happen football will be even more reliant on foreign owners. who are under different pressures**** and may be running short of money as well. If this happens the whole thing will implode faster than the housing bubble, which may be no bad thing given how debased the whole football ritual has become.

*It comes from a military background and ironing being about the one thing TGWo is crap at.

** They did, BTW, 5-1

*** Alan Sugar reckoned that is the only industry where the workers drive better cars than the Directors

**** West Ham are owned by an Icelander

West Ham United looked likely last night to become football’s latest victim of global financial turmoil.

Although the club denied it was up for sale after Bjogolfur Gudmundsson, the chairman, was said to have lost £230 million in the nationalisation of the Icelandic Landisbank, one source close to the club told The Times: “It is open to all comers. The only thing we want to know is where we find a billionaire who has still got all of his money after the credit crunch.”

Channel 4's Property Ladder

I've just been browsing Sky's EPG and notice that Ch4 is still showing Property Ladder - paerhaps they ought to rename name it Property Snake?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Website problem fixed

The problem I had with TGW's new website running in Internet Explorer 7 has been fixed by upgrading to IE8 Beta.

Despite this I think I'll stick to Firefox as my default browser.

Word for the situation - kakistocracy

government by the worst persons; a form of government in which the worst persons are in power.

I'll bet nobody expected Britain to become one of these when the word was first coined:
1829, "government by the worst element of a society," coined on analogy of aristocracy from Gk. kakistos "worst," superl. of kakos "bad" (which is perhaps related to the general IE word for "defecate") + -kratia "rule of," from kratos "strength, power, rule" (see -cracy).

Credit Crunch Gallows Humour

Good piece on the beeb about why we need humour to see us through troubled times. There's a cracking sketch from the two Johns who deal with the subject with their usual acerbic wit.

A few reworked jokes as well:

Q: What is the definition of optimism?
A: An investment banker ironing five shirts on a Sunday night

Q: What is the difference between a pigeon and a merchant banker?
A: A pigeon can still put a deposit on a Ferrari

Q: What do you say to a hedge fund manager who can't short-sell anything? A: Quarter pounder with fries please

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Idiot politicians

Further to my last post about senior politicians engaging brains before playing to the gallery, perhaps it would be too much to expect back benchers to be able to use a bit of logic and memory.

Again during PMQ's a couple of MP's (I was in the car and didn't catch the names) demanded that the PM and/or Chancellor insist that the bailed out banks provide mortgages and loans to people.

Surely they have enough brain cells to remember that they were happy with banks giving loans out willy-nilly that we are in this mess in the first place? Why don't they tell the PM to demand that banks only make sensible loans?

Bankers' Bonuses

Cameron played to the gallery during PMQ'a by demanding that those banks that are being bailed out don't pay bonuses. Fair enough ....

If the bank needs bailing out its hard to think that it has made its targets and therefore the Senior managers shouldn't be getting bonuses

except that..

within the banks there may be some functions where teams have made or even exceeded their targets and may have contractual terms that guarantee their bonuses if targets are met. We wouldn't to be breaking those contracts and losing what may well be very good people, would we?

Surely we want those people to stay and hopefully help to build a profitable bank, don't we?

Sometimes it would be nice if senior politicians would engage brains before opening mouths.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Cabinet apointment process confirms control freakery of politicians

I have long felt that one of the biggest problems with Government is the way that the Cabinet is appointed. Consider first how a large company appoints its management team and middle managers.

The Board/Owners select a CEO who they feel can deliver the growth and targets they set and that the CEO says are realistic. The Board/Owners will probably discuss the CEO's key direct reports and may maintain a veto. These positions might include the Finance Director, Operations Director and depending on the industry possibly one other, maybe the sales director in a company that requires on high sales volumes.

The Board will also discuss the overall management team structure and be concerned about the number of direct reports to the CEO, or any manager, and will be concerned if this is more than 6 or 7. Anything larger can mean that the CEO is stretched too far and is too involved in the everyday detail and is distracted from the greater strategic plan.

The CEO's direct reports will then agree a structure with the CEO, and rest of the management team, and look to recruit their reports. The CEO may take an interest and even veto who is appointed, but they will generally let their trusted direct reports get on with the job. It is important that the senior team have trust in their direct reports, which is why a good CEO won't interfere unless absolutely necessary.

This process then trickles down until the organisation is complete. The CEO and management team keeping an eye on numbers of people and ensuring that costs are kept under control and the company remains focused.

I could have gone in to lots of management jargon about SPRO (Strategy, Process, Resources, Organisation) etc, but I think you get the gist.

Now, compare that with the way our Government, irrespective of party, is appointed. We know the PM we are getting as the leader of the biggest party and probably the senior positions through the shadow cabinet or previous cabinet, but these aren't certain.

The first think we notice is that the cabinet is 23 strong and the PM appoints every one of them. That is one hell of a management team for the PM to manage and ensure that the agreed strategy is implemented. Its can also lead to tensions as areas of responsibility are blurred.

The next thing we notice is that the PM appointed the cabinets direct reports. He may discuss the appointments but is is very clear these are in the gift of the PM. This leads to major areas of conflict as he appoints people to departments who aren't trusted by their direct bosses and may even be actively disliked.

I realise that in a political party different factions have to be represented but the size of the Government and method of appointing them all isn't conducive to good governance and management.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Technical Bleg

Now I know why DK hates Intrenet Explorer as you shall see.

I am re-designing TGW's web site as I don't like the current one. I've also just bought Dreamweaver CS3 and wanted to use Tabbed panels for easier navigation. I am using an affect where as you put the mouse over a thumbnail a large picture pops up in a designated area. I did this for my first attempt at web design and it works well enough in most browsers, you can see what I mean by following this link or any of the sidebar links.

Using Dreamweaver CS3 I have put each of the "gallaries" in a tabbed panel using exactly the same HTML code. In tabbedpanel (o) (home) I have a slideshow with some details. The rest of the tabbed panels are for pictures.

All works well in Firefox (my default browser), Opera and Safari. However when I decided to do a quick test with IE7 I get a really weird affect.

When the home page comes up there is only the slideshow visible. When I click the mouse anywhere in the content area the rest of the content becomes visible.

When I select any of the other tabbed panels there is nothing showing until I click the mouse anywhere in the content area and then all the content pops up.

Sometimes though, some of the tabs work OK and there is no rhyme nor reason as to which ones.

I have tried this on Windows XP and Vista OS and get the same problem.

Anybody got any thoughts?

Thanks in advance,


What the Mandelson appointnment says about Labour

I expressed my instant thoughts about MAndy's appointment here and they were quite cynical. I still maintain those and quite agree with another comment I heard - If Mandelson is the answer, WTF was the question?

But on reflection there is something else which seems to have been missed. Mandy isn't an MP and therefore has to be ennobled so he can take his place in the cabinet. Now I'm not necessarily against one of the Lordships taking on ministerial roles, but Secretary of State positions? These are the highest political positions we have and they wield great power and influence so you would think that any party in Government would want one of its elected members in these positions, wouldn't you?

Maybe there was a case some years ago for a hereditary peer to be given a position in Governement, but as Tony Benn showed there is a route to divesting themselves of that peerage and standing as an MP. Also, Labour has squealed long and hard against their Lordship's having undue influence so what does it say about their hypocrisy on this subject?

If I was a Labour Party member I would be livid about Mandy's appointment just on this point alone. (I've stopped reading LabourHome so I've no idea how they feel about it). If I was a Labour MP I would also be up in arms. Can't they fill the cabinet out of what, 350 MP's? Aren't there 23 MP's capable of filling all the cabinet positions*?

And what does it say to us, the electorate? "We don't care who you vote for, were going to appoint our own people anyway" is the message I get. So if I were a Labour voter I would also be miffed.

Still, if it hastens the downfall of Labour, so much the better.

*Having looked at the list of Cabinet positions we should only need about 10 anyway, but thats a different debate. (BERR is one of first that I would axe .)

More hypocrisy from the Righteous*

Manchester Council is proposing that a congestion charge of £5 and will be having a referendum on the issue in December. As you would expect the debate is robust with a strong No campaign which has the Righteous up in arms and not least because one of the best known companies in the area, Kellog's, has come down on the No side and has made this clear to its employees.

Kellogg's, which employs 1,000 people in Trafford, is one of several firms which have united to oppose the plans.

Its staff have been asked to respond to the consultation with reasons copied from a "No" campaign website.

They were asked in an e-mail sent by communications director Chris Wermann.

OK there is an argument against companies ordering their staff to do their bidding so maybe the Righteous have a point:
But "Yes" campaigners said the move was "astonishing".

A spokesman said: "It is astonishing that a major multi-national company like Kellogg's should tell their staff that the appropriate way to respond to an official consultation is to "cut and paste" their employer's opinions."

But what the email really does is set out the company's view and points out that this is also the opinion of Unite, the union worker's union. But it ends:
The e-mail then asks employees to "make your voice heard" and directs them to the consultation website.
Notice that, it send them to the consultation web site, not the No web site. Thus allowing the workers to make up their own minds. So we can only conclude that the Righteous are so indignant not because the company is interfering in the worker's right to make up their own minds but because the company supports the No campaign.

This is the type of hypocrisy for with they are rightly and justly despised by so many people.

* H/T Leg-Iron for this wonderful description of those self appointed prod-noses who beleive they are the only ones whose opinions matter. BTW, he is a very good read as well.

Civil Enforcement Officers

Walking through town I saw one of these species , dressed in full battle gear of stab proof vests, radio, electronic notebook and officious hat, and wondered how we got to this. We now have "enforcement officers" wandering round "enforcing" petty regulations such as smoking in pubs and issuing parking tickets and God knows what else; yet we have a Police "Service" whose job should be to maintain law and order, but appears to be nicking people who want to protect themselves, family and business.

Perhaps the country would be better off if we returned to having a Police Force whose job was to nick criminals, or better still prevent them breaking the law in the first place, rather pandering to a control freak of a Govt who are obsessed by "targets", diversity and locking up people for not paying the TV tax. The Civil Enforcement Officers then could return to being Traffic Wardens and only ticket cars which are parked in stupid places of that have outstayed their welcome.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Those safe, conservative, European banks.

You know how we are always being lectured about how good europe is and how they don't go for this raw Anglo-Saxon capitalism. Well, it seems those good Europeans banks haven't been as safe and conservative as they would have us believe. According to this week's Economist:

Outside Wall Street US banks have lent 96c for every £1 deposited.
European banks have lent 1.4Euro for evry Euro deposited.

That doesn't sound very safe and conservative to me.

Mandelson back!! Why?

Just got out of a meeting to hear this news – wow! So what is Gordo up to? Many was hardly well liked with the public or even the union paymasters.

How's about this for a bit of Machiavellian thinking?

If Labour is going down why not have one of the main architects of NuLabour associated with its demise. Then the left can say that NuLab failed and that they need to return to "core values" with a new leader on the hard left to oppose the Tories.

With a bit of luck this will lead to a new suicide note for the following lection and an even bigger defeat for Labour.

That should keep them out of power for a while so that we have time to fix the economy – again!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Politicisation * of the police

There was much harrumphing on Today this morning about the politicisation of the police following the resignation of Sir Ian Blair. Its a bit late for now, NuLabour has politicised the whole landscape since 1997.

Anyone who has served in the armed forces will be well schooled in the doctrine of "civilian control of the armed forces". In short this means the the most senior military leaders report to civilians, which in theory means the Secretary of State for Defence** but in practice means through senior civil servants, except in a crises when the PM takes control through COBRA.

As part of this deal Military leaders had the ear of the Defense Sec and even the PM and could give full and frank advice. Politicians were free to make their own decision and if they ignored the advice military leaders kept quiet, in public at least. The quid pro quo was the Military Covenant, whereby the armed services were looked after for their sacrifice. Even Labour member accept that the Covenant has been broken. This has led to military chiefs openly and publicly getting involved in politics, which is an unedifying spectacle as well as being dangerous.

Finally we have the civil service. They may be conservative plodders who are risk averse but they always had a reputation for being apolitical and giving Government "best advice". Yes they probably stalled Government policies and I'm sure that their is more than a kernel of truth of truth in the Yes, Minister! books. However, senior civil servants accepted the bidding of their political masters with good grace and got on with the job when instructed to. Again, this was undermined by NuLabour through the introduction of SpAds who are effectively political civil servants.

Now I'm not myopic enough to realise that even Maggie wasn't immune from upsetting senior civil servants, the police and the military, but she rarely undermined their leaders by the imposition of raw politics over their heads.

Now of course its too late for complaint; the appointment of Sir Ian Blair was political. He was seen as representing the face of NuLabour and was happy to accept the manageralist style of Governement by targets. The genie of senior people in the police, armed forces and civil service being apolitical is out of the bottle and it ain't going back.

What we have to do now is learn to live with the new order. There isn't much we can do about senior military officers, they have to be servicemen, but we could have elections for Chief Police Officers and there is no reason why we can't have a polical appointments as heads of the civil service as they do in the USA.

* Horrible word.

**I once caught a young soldier stealing petrol from a generator. His charge sheet read that he was stealing fuel from "The Secretary of State for Defence, The Rt Hon Michael Hesltine MP."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Dave's speech

I thought it was going reasonably until he started talking about giving us our money (taxes) back.
FFS, when will they learn we don't want any taxes given back - we don't want them taken in the first place.