Saturday, May 31, 2008

How to stop children smoking

The govt has got itself into another bansturbation frenzy in the name of protecting children from smoking and coming up with all sorts of control freakery idea:

Cigarette vending machines and packets of 10 could be outlawed under
government plans aimed at preventing children and young people smoking.

The plans, which include banning branding and logos, apply to England,
Wales and Northern Ireland. Similar plans have been unveiled in Scotland.

Of course these are well tested and proven idea, aren't they?
Martin Dockrell, from the anti-smoking group Action on Smoking and Health
(Ash), said: "These sorts of measures are not going to have an overnight effect,
but we think they will over time."

Well there's a surprise, they've made the whole thing up and haven't a shred of evidence that it will work. Its amazing what bollocks and claptrap these people are allowed to get away with "in the interests of children". The sad thing is they seem to have defined all of us as children and taken the decision to appoint themselves as our guardians. Bastards.

If they really wanted to protect children the answers simple - make cigarettes widely available and stop treating them like forbidden fruits. Better still show them as being something only old people do, a bit like dancing at discos.

My parents smoked but that wasn't why I smoked, it was because everyone said I shouldn't and I wanted to stick 2 fingers up at them. We don't smoke and the sprog does, despite all the publicity, for similar reasons.

Going on hols, no blogging

I'm off to Turkey on Monday for a weeks holiday, although it won't be restful in the physical sense. As I'm easily bored we found Neilson Beach holidays* a few years ago and they are just the thing for me - I start the day with a water ski, then sail and finally a bike ride about 4pm. The evenings are better as it is like being at a dinner party with friends every night, the only problem is that nobody wants to be seen as a free loader so the wine flows a little too freely sometimes!

Despite all that I still manage to get some reading done. This year my summer reading is:

Vince Flynn, Protect & Defend - Good escapist nonsense of the Jack Bauer/24 variety.

Michael Ridpath, Se No Evil - e used to write good thrillers which had some educational stuff about how the City and finance work, but he has gone off the boil a bit

PS I might be squeezing a couple of more posts in today and tomorrow if I can find the time

*The first advertising on this blog and its free!
The Undercover Economist - A good friend and former fellow Director who now teaches business and economics at A Level swears by this book. I've picked it up a couple of times when staying with him and decided I need to read it

Freakonomics - Another god friend and former fellow Director is always banging on about this so again I thought its time to read it

Hayek, The road To Serfdom - Tim Worstall recommended this when I was chatting to him at the "Curbing the Crap Artists" event at the ASI

So, even if there was the ability to blog while I'm away I just won't have time. I wish you all happy reading while I'm away and hope you find plenty of entertaining and educational blogs to read, and if you do, pass them on.

*The first advertising on this blog and its free. Still, I never expect to make money writing.

Carbon Chastity

Every now and again I read something that I think yes, that's exactly how I think, and wish I could express myself only half as well. Via Greenie Watch we find this excellent OpEd in the Washington post:

I'm not a global warming believer. I'm not a global warming denier. I'm a global warming agnostic who believes instinctively that it can't be very good to pump lots of CO2into the atmosphere but is equally convinced that those who presume to know exactly where that leads are talking through their hats.

I started to become a skeptic when I realised all the great and the good had made up their minds and that anyone who challenged them was somehow deranged. I thought it was me but:
For a century, an ambitious, arrogant, unscrupulous knowledge class -- social planners, scientists, intellectuals, experts and their left-wing political allies -- arrogated to themselves the right to rule either in the name of the oppressed working class (communism) or, in its more benign form, by virtue of their superior expertise in achieving the highest social progress by means of state planning (socialism).

Two decades ago, however, socialism and communism died rudely, then were buried forever by the empirical demonstration of the superiority of market capitalism everywhere from Thatcher's England to Deng's China, where just the partial abolition of socialism lifted more people out of poverty more rapidly than ever in human history.

Just as the ash heap of history beckoned, the intellectual left was handed the ultimate salvation: environmentalism. Now the experts will regulate your life not in the name of the proletariat or Fabian socialism but -- even better -- in the name of Earth itself.

Great summation of the arrogance of the Pollys, Monbiots and general Beeboids of this world; for it is their arrogance and closed minds that does the debate on AGW most harm. Their may well be a problem with CO2, but if there a problem is their cure worse than the decease?

But this is the real reason why they want the debate to be finished and their consensus accepted:
Only Monday, a British parliamentary committee proposed that every citizen be required to carry a carbon card that must be presented, under penalty of law, when buying gasoline, taking an airplane or using electricity. The card contains your yearly carbon ration to be drawn down with every purchase, every trip, every swipe.

There's no greater social power than the power to ration. And, other than rationing food, there is no greater instrument of social control than rationing energy, the currency of just about everything one does and uses in an advanced society.

Its all about controlling the minutiae of our lives so that we only do the things of they approve.

Go and read the whole thing, it is very good.

This is real citizenship

As a parent I applaud this woman, she has made one of the hardest decisions you could expect any parent to make.

A mother has said she has no regrets about reporting her sons to the police after learning they had brutally attacked a man on a night out.

Carol Saldinack, 51, of Norfolk, said she was so ashamed of their behaviour she could barely look them in the eye.

But if she kept quiet, she would be as guilty as they were, she told the BBC.

We all want to believe that our children saints and if they do wrong its because they were misled by someone else's children. It takes real strength of character to accept that, despite your best efforts, they have done something wrong. It takes even more strength, and yes even bravery* in this case because of the violence involved, to turn them in to the police to face a prison sentence.

*Bravery is a an over used word, especially in sporting contexts, which demean those who do make brave decisions, by which I mean taking a conscious decision to do something that may lead to injury or death.

Friday, May 30, 2008

On this day

in 1656, the formation Grenadier Guards, the senior regiment of the British Army.

Judging by this* story:

The Army is facing a major shortfall in manpower after the latest figures released today showed that the number of troops leaving had increased by 50 per cent in the last year

it won't be long before New Labour has decimated the Army to the point when even this august regiment will be disbanded.

Much as I disliked drill when I served I did enjoy a big parade, especially when it was my graduation or something similar and marching to this was always good fun

*I saw a headline today that said the situation hasn't changed but I can't find it online

Social Tariff’s, the latest stupidity

The beeb's business and news programmes were beside themselves with righteous indignation over the cost of energy this morning and demanding putting more people on Social Tariffs to alleviate "fuel poverty"

Regulator Ofgem hopes the measures will help alleviate the "fuel poverty" suffered by people on low incomes. But campaigners say the plans do not go far enough, and that poorer families will continue to face a fuel crisis.

I'm sure that times are very hard for the poor given the way prices are escalating, shit even I'm feeling it and I have a reasonable disposable income, but I really don't think that it should be up to the energy suppliers to sort social problems. That's what we have a Department for Work and Pensions for (formerly DSS), complete with Secretary of State, assortment of Minister and Lord knows how many civil servants complete with gold plated pensions to figure these things out with the treasury.

We are of course back to our old problem of the complicated benefits system which doesn't deliver anything like the social security that is promised by the welfare state, despite consuming nearly half of GDP. In truth though the reason that they want the energy companies, i.e. their shareholders and other customers, to bear that problem. Is that there is no more money in the coffers and we are being bled dry by high taxes. Far easier to spread this round as another hidden tax which doesn't appear in the headline figures.

Anyway, who decided that there is such a thing as fuel poverty and set the threshold?

The government estimates 2.5 million households are in fuel poverty - defined as when more than 10% of household income is spent on fuel bills - but watchdog Energywatch says the figure is more than four million.

Only 10% of household income for fuel to be defined as being poor and needing state help? That doesn't seem very high to me and also doesn't take in to account absolute values i.e. someone being wasteful by leaving lights and other appliances running for 24 hours a day – why should I pay for those too lazy to turn them off?

Furthermore, considering Maslow's hierarchy of needs this is a Physiological need and at the very bottom of the pyramid so it isn't unreasonable for it to consume a large part of income, along with food. I don't know what a suitable figure should be, say food and heating 70% of income, but I don't see why I should be subsidising people so they can afford to smoke, drink, take expensive holidays and buy the latest HD TV's.

I also see another perverse and dangerous incentive here. Those living next to someone on a "social tariff" have been known in the past to run an extension lead next door to get cheap/free electricity. Will I then be expected to re-house both families and, given they are likely to be uninsured (which wouldn't pay out even if they were) pay to replace all their goods and chattels, when their houses burn down in the inevitable fire? I suppose we'll also be expected to cough up compensation if anyone is electrocuted.

So, all things considered this is the worst way to cure a problem brought on by the stupidity and incompetence of those who profess to be competent and capable of leading us through this mess. Bastards. Incompetent bastards at that.

And while I'm on the subject this lunacy is being proposed:

Most of the energy companies have so-called "social tariffs", and ministers are proposing that data identifying poorer families could be shared with the companies to ensure they pay the cheaper rates. This could see information about who is on certain benefits shared with the suppliers, although new legislation would be needed to do this.

Given the Government's track record of IT projects this really isn't the way to sort it out. We can also look forward to paying compensation because people's personal information is found in a skip or the internet as well.

Given these problems you would think that those claiming to be working in the best interests of those who are suffering would be outraged at this suggestion, but oh no:

Age Concern director general Gordon Lishman said that the sharing of data was "controversial, but justified".

He added: "We feel strongly that the severe pressure of rapidly rising energy prices justifies this kind of action, providing the data is handled by a trusted third party and people are fully informed about the scheme and given the option to opt out."

FFS they should be protecting us from the encroachment of the state not encouraging it! Next they'll be saying ID cards are the solution.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Strange leader at the Wales Open

Who wouldn't be drawn to that headline? Sadly its a fairly boring story:

Scott Strange leads the star-studded Wales Open field on day one as the unknown Aussie showed the big-names how to tame the new Celtic Manor course.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Yorkshire Vs Lancashire - Friends Provident Trophy

Lancashire 68/8 - deep joy. We need a win to make the quarter finals but stuffing Lancs is far more enjoyable.

Update Lancashire 89 all out, this is getting better. Hogg went daft scoring 25 runs, lucky git. Now all we need to do is knoc them off before the weather closes in.

Update Yorkshire 34/0 but its raining. I don't know what constitutes a match in this situation but as Derbyshire's game was washed out we qualify anyway. I'd still like them to give Lancs a real stuffing

On this day - Falklands

British 2nd battalion, Parachute Regiment (2-Para), take Darwin and Goose Green in what was arguably the longest and toughest battle of the War.

We had sent a couple of guys down with a jammer to support the attack but they got bogged down and couldn't get there in time. They also became of interest to an Argentine pilot but thankfully he missed and was chased away by a Harrier.

Meanwhile we had dropped in to a routine of sorts in San Carlos and weren't being effective because we were in a basin and weren't getting mush intercept traffic. Our boss was agitating for us to get forward but we didn't have enough helicopters and was available was being used for ammunition distribution and casevac. Our plan was to get on a boat to the soon to infamous Teal Inlet.

One memory that still sticks is listening to a World Service discussion about the war. It had become well know that the Argentinian bombs weren't exploding but we weren't publishing I, however it was the discussion on the world service. One expert described what was happening - they were dropping the bombs too low and the screw that armed them wasn't given enough time to engage the mechanism.

Being an expert this clown then went on to explain that the pilots needed to go higher, which was very dangerous, or sort of tilt up just as they dropped the bomb, so that it would be lobbed. This was inaccurate and finally they could put a parachute on the bomb to slow its descent. The Argentine Air force chose the latter option so we then had to live with more bombs exploding.

Isn't it good to have such a neutral and informative national broadcaster?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

On this day

in 1679, Britain passed the Habeas Corpus Act which made it illegal to hold anyone in prison without a trial.

If we needed it then we definately need it now to protect us from the control freaks running the country.

My personal carbon usage

Mulling over the latest idiocy policy pronouncements on Personal Carbon Credits from our glorious leaders in Westminster it struck me that I might have a problem given some of my hobbies as well as commuting costs. Now, I'm a great believer in polluter pays and Pigou Taxes that cover the external costs but I really don't like this idea and I reckon there is another motive. But before I expand on that lets look at how this will work.

Its just cost me £90 to fill my car. I suppose my carbon usage for that one will be easy - the petrol station will have my registration number and being linked in to the Vehicle Licensing Centre computer my carbon usage can be very quickly calculated.

I play a lot of golf and I suppose the carbon usage of charging the battery for my electric trolley will be counted against my house usage, which will have been surveyed by some licensing authority who will decide on how efficient it is and award credits. But a golf course needs lots of machinery for grass cutting etc, how will those credits be allocated? Do I get a proportion based on how many times I play? What happens when I visit another club to play? It sounds like we need a central database to figure this out, probably on a rolling mean like a telecoms network Long Running Incremental Cost (LRIC) model.

Next, I am an occasional dinghy sailor. Now you might think that this is easy because we use wind power, but you would be wrong. We need safety boats and committee boats and a boat that cuts back weeds. Again, how do I pay for my portion of these? And do I pick them up if I am on safety duty or when I'm racing? Also, like many sailors I often take my boat off to other places where they have safety boats and committee boats. Looks like another database.

This evening I went water skiing and that is horrendous, more databases? What about the gym, all those machines, swimming pools, saunas etc, another database.

Given all these activities I probably consume more calories than the average person - more databases? I haven't even got to holidays (where I do most of the above activities) or other any other activities like going to the pub.

Anyway, this isn't about bragging about everything I do, its about how my enjoyment is going to be seriously curtailed, but more importantly to demonstrate that the only way this will work is if bureaucrats can snoop in to every single corner of our lives to measure and allocate carbon credits to it.

Now you can see why MP's, Guardainstats and BBC luminaries think its a good idea, they're all such a bunch of control freaks that they can't bare the rest of us enjoying ourselves and doing as we please and this lets them take control of us. Bastards.

The there's this:

But Mr Benn said there were problems with the plan: "It's got potential but, in essence, it's ahead of its time, the cost of implementing it would be quite high, and there are a lot of practical problems to overcome."

The practical problem you will need to overcome, Mr Benn is that if you will be dangling from the end of a rope if you even think about implementing this and that twat Monbiot will be next to you as well:
Environmentalist George Monbiot applauded the scheme. "It's more progressive than taxation, it tends to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor; it's transparent; it's easy for everyone to understand, you all get the same carbon ration.

"It also contains an inbuilt incentive for people to think about their energy use and to think about how they are going to stay within their carbon ration."

No, George, it will make me think about the enjoyment I will get from stringing up you Benn and the rest of your ilk.


A French skydiver's attempt to break the world free fall record failed to get off the ground when his balloon lifted off without him on board.

Monday, May 26, 2008

New Indiana Jones movie

Just been to see it and its not bad, although something is not quite right, although I can't put my finger on what. Its got the same wild adventure story and tongue-in-cheek humour. The gofers at the start are very good.

It was a good way to pass a wet bank holiday Monday evening, but I wouldn't miss a nice evening and the chance to play golf or go for a stroll to the pub to see it.

Freedom fighters we should admire

We forget the sacrifices that are continually being made around the world as people try to wrestle control of their lives from dictators and bullies. We have our own Remembrance Day in memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, but their are many others.

When Mugabe is finally deposed I hope Zimbabwe will set up a memorial for Tonderai Ndira and the many others who have paid the ultimate sacrifice because they have been abandoned by the west and South Africa:

The body of Tonderai Ndira was found this week, the 43rd Zimbabwean opposition activist to die in violence since elections in March

Its a very moving piece and well worth a few moments of anyones time.

We should also remember that Zimbabwe was one a democracy but its leaders chipped away slowly at the constitution whilst introducing more power for itself. Just because we have over 300 years of Parliamentary democracy its not being melodramatic to remember Edward Burke:
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

H/T Looking for a voice

On this day

1972, State-owned travel firm Thomas Cook & Son was sold to a consortium of private businesses headed by the Midland Bank.

Its hard to believe that the state even thought it necessary to own a travel company, but is was one of those unintended consequences as its history shows:

Then, in 1928, the surviving grandsons, Frank and Ernest (Bert having died in 1914), unexpectedly sold the business to the Belgian Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et des Grands Express Européens, operators of most of Europe's luxury sleeping cars, including the Orient Express.

Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, the Wagons-Lits headquarters in Paris was seized by occupying forces, and Cook's British assets were requisitioned by the British Government. To save the company from complete financial collapse in its centenary year, a deal was brokered and, fittingly, the organisation was sold to Britain's four mainline railway companies. Thos Cook & Son Ltd settled its affairs with Wagons-Lits (which retained a 25% share in Cook's overseas) immediately after the war, and in 1948 the firm became state-owned as part of the nationalised British Railways.

Comment of the day

So Much For Subtlety over at Tim Worstall's place on a thread about Rosie Boycott:

I have to say I need to stop reading the Guardian. It makes me think giving the vote to women was a mistake.


A lesson in politics for the young

Last week I sent the Sprog (he's 21) a text last week asking if he would like my bike because I am thinking of buying a new one. Being on just over minimum wage he will take what ever offerings he gets. We took him out for dinner last night and by the end he was angry and disillusioned, with all politicians.

He's always been interested in politics and, being young, is still a bit of an idealist, but for not much longer. When he asked me why I was buying a new bike I explained that the Government has a cycling to work scheme which means that I can get up to £1000 of bike and accessories for effectively half price because I get VAT back and the remainder is set against tax at the higher rate. The penny quickly dropped and the conversation went something like this:

Hang on, you earn about 15 times what I earn and you are getting tax breaks paid by me - Yup.

But you work 30 miles from the office - Yup

And its all motorway - Yup

Doesn't anyone check on these things - Nope

I then explained the madness of tax credits - we pay bureaucrats to tax one set of poor people to give complicated tax credits to another set, that the 10p tax debacle was really about trying to fiddle the stupid relative poverty numbers, that after nearly 15 years of growth the cupboard is bare etc. I then had a rant about the erosion of our freedoms and by the end and a general rant because I was in full flow.

He commented that its impossible to change anything and, to paraphrase him, the political class have got a stranglehold on politics. As he pointed out its not that he and his friends are apathetic, they are disillusioned with all the party's, having met a few senior politicians on his politics A Level course at Henley College.

It won't be long, I suspect, before he becomes a classic liberal free market proponent. I pointed him in the direction of the Libeatarian party as my parting shot.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

On this day

in 1967, California Governor Ronald Reagan greeted Charles M. Schulz at the state capitol in observance of the legislature-proclaimed "Charles Schulz Day."

Of course the Snoopy is the best character:

Friday, May 23, 2008

On this day

in 1971 - Iron Butterfly broke up.

This is worth seeing just for the 60's clothing and dancing

A depressing story of unintended consequences

Or at least I hope this is an untended consequence.

I was lamenting to a colleague that we can't get a parent to run the junior section of my golf club. It seems that apathy reigns and the rest of the club's attitude is that we will support them but as most of us have raised our kids we aren't prepared to make the commitment to someone else's kids, although we don't mind helping out occasionally.

It turns out that he's on the executive committee of the local Scout group and they had an interesting issue when a parent did step forward to be a group leader. The CRB check came back as a "red flag". They had a committee meeting and decided they wanted to proceed as he was a good guy and they all trusted him so they asked for further details and when they got the forms through it turns out that this 42 year old man was given a police caution when he was 16 for "taking without consent".

And people wonder why we don't trust politicians to pass any laws and, more importantly, bureaucrats to implement them in a sensible way.

Has Brown made voting Tory socially acceptable?

On of Labour's great achievements in the 80's and 90's was to demonise the Tories to that point that voting Tory was as socially acceptable as paedophilia. Blair managed to pray on this throughout his premiership, although there was some softening of the position. This meant that anti Labour protest votes tended to go to the Lib Dems, leaving the Tories in limbo and unable to get much more than their core vote.

Brown seems to have been such a disaster that he has pissed of voters so much that they have made a mental leap and voted Tory. This was confirmed by some BBC vox pop yesterday. Whether or not they have done this as a one off to send a message remains to be seen, but it certainly makes it easier for the Tories to persuade people to listen to their arguments and not feel ashamed to talk about them in public.

Given this change it shouldn't just be Labour MP's who are looking over their shoulders at their majorities, the Lib Dems must be starting to feel very nervous as they have tended to benefit most from middle ground voters who couldn't bring themselves to vote Labour.

Brown worse than Foot as Labour Leader

The Today programme was making the point this morning that Michael Foot managed to hold Crewe and Nantwich despite the 1983 Labour Party Manifesto being labelled as the longest political suicide note in history by Gerald Kaufman.

One wonders what Brown's epithet will be after the Crewe and Nantwich debacle?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Crewe and Nantwich By Election

The outcome of Crewe and Nantwich has me in 2 minds; I would love to see Labour annihilated and the ensuing descent of the Labour Party in to anarchy. However, they might hen ditch Brown (he won't resign) and a new leader might, just might, save them at the next election. On the other hand if they somehow scrape a respectable result we'll have Brown for another 2 years and that means an almost certain defeat for them in the next GE, barring "Events, Dear Boy, Events".

On balance I'll take the schadenfreude of a crushing defeat for Labour in general and Brown in particular and trust to chance the effect of a new leader.


Gordon Brown, The Great Traditionalist

I was listening to Today In Parliament on my drive in and couldn't believe it when, during PMQ's, he claimed that he wasn't going to Crewe and Nantwich because there is a tradition that PM's don't attend by elections.

Leaving aside that his predecessor had already broken this tradition, this came from the man who has just announced what will be in the Queen's Speech to the next Parliament 6 months before it opens and before this one has finished. I'll bet that has happened before.

I am sure readers can name a few more examples of him trampling over tradition when it suits his selfish needs. The man has no shame.

Here’s a stat about Labour’s record Gordon won’t use

According to the BBC Hospital alcohol admissions soared during Labour's reign:

Hospital admissions linked to alcohol use have more than doubled in England since 1995, an NHS report shows.

Alcohol was the main or secondary cause of 207,800 NHS admissions in 2006/7, compared to 93,500 in 1995/96.

There has also been a 20% rise in the number of GP prescriptions for treating alcohol dependency in the past four years, the NHS Information Centre said.

On this day - Falklands

We got ashore overnight but without our equipment. Our boss had done well to get us on a landing craft but there was no plan for us to go anywhere and as it was dark we just dossed down in the first bit of shelter we cam across. When dawn came we realised it was the back blast are of the Blowpipe anti aircraft missile team - shit that could have been very bad.

We eventually commandeered the school so we could set up out intercept kit indoor and we had somewhere to work. It had a small kitchen so cooking was OK. This was to be our home for a god week or so.

During the day we had more air raids. I was really surprised to see everyone firing at them, even officers with 9mm pistols. This was even more dangerous than the Argentinians with rounds coming down all over the place. 40 Commando's OC went berserk as his troops were in the hill over looking San Carlos and and they took the brunt of the friendly fire, although to my knowledge nobody was injured or killed. It dis mean that we had to put a fire plan together very quickly.

Most of the air attacks were aimed at the ships, which was a good tactic because we still had most of our stores on board. One bomb did hit a troop of Engineers at the other end of the settlement and killed a Sapper. It was a solemn occasion as his flag draped body was brought past us for burial, followed by his troop. Irrespective of religion it is very important that the military honour the dead, it makes us all feel we are part of something worthwhile.

Abortion and drugs

I have stayed out of the abortion argument because I have real mixed feelings that I can't resolve and also the protagonists are too absolute. It is one are where I am happy to abdicate the decision to the "will of Parliament".

Now that Parliament has spoken why can't they apply the same arguments to drugs? There seem to be a number of pro abortion arguments that have won the case and these are the same for legalising drugs. I paraphrase the arguments somewhat for simplicity:

Its a woman's body and her choice what she does with it - Same argument for drug users

The consequences of banning it are horrendous - back street abortions etc Drug addicts sharing needles, being fleeced by dealers, being pushed in to prostitution etc

Some women need it for medical reasons - There is strong evidence that MS sufferers benefit, even if it does turn out to be a placebo affect

I'm sure there are other arguments, but given the bunch of hypocrites we have Governing us I don't suppose that this argument will get any traction with them.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Free Guinness

I Want A Referendum is organising a rally in support of the Irish No campaigners on 31st May:

At midday on Saturday 31 May we will be organising a short gathering outside the Irish Embassy in London (17 Grosvenor Place, closet tubes: Hyde Park Corner and Victoria). We will have a number of Irish, British and EU flags to hand out, so there will be no need for anyone to bring their own banners or flags. The aim is to send a message of solidarity to Irish voters, not to demonstrate about the denial of our referendum here in the UK. Free cans of Guinness will be available on a first-come-first-served basis.

If you would like to register for the event please email:

I'm not sure about interfering in another country's decision making process, but it is probably the only hope of the Constitution Lisbon Treaty being postponed.

On this day - Falklands

in 1982, The British manage to make an amphibious landing near Port San Carlos, on the northern coast of East Falkland.

It was really eerie when light dawned in San Carlos water - it was really still and quiet except for the demented buzzing of the rigid raiders whizzing about. Landing craft had been shipping troops ashore for some time but we weren't even given a time and were stuck on board the LSL in the middle of the waters knowing we were a siting duck when the Argentinian Air force eventually attacked - it was probably the scariest time of the whole war and I don't mind admitting I questioned my own agnostic approach to religion.

Our intercept guys had picked up an interesting comment from the Argentinian forward troops who had seen us. Apparently they were under the illusion that Maggie was going to give some notice before we attacked - bloody idiots. Their description of us was quite prosaic though, until they became the first Argentinians to be captured.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Polly in Crewe can't do her sums

Via Tim Worstall I decided to read Polly, a rare occasion, and was taken with this misleading comment:

Ed Balls shows up to name a gleaming new school IT unit after Gwynneth Dunwoody. Teachers say this school consisted of tin huts that melted biro ink in summer and froze the children in winter, a temporary structure built to last 15 years still in use 50 years later - until this beautiful landscaped, eco primary was rebuilt. So did they thank Labour? Several teachers I asked shrugged and pulled a face. Politics is not just about delivery, it's about inspiring affection - or at least grudging respect.

Leaving aside Tim's reasonable comment that Ed Balls shouldn't have been doing this during a by-election I thought about the numbers. If the temporary structure was built 50 years ago, 1958, to last 15 years then it should have been replaced from 1973.

Since that time we have had the following Governments:
1973 - 1974 Tory (Heath, who may as well have been Labour he was such a statist)-
1 year
1974 to 1979 Labour - 5 years
1979 to 1997 Tory - 18 years
1997 to 2008 - Labour - 11 years

I make this 19 years Tory and 16 years Labour, give or take a few months, so in reality a pox on both their houses.

On this day

in 1958, the mayor and corporation of High Wycombe were weighed in, in full view of the public to see whether or not they had been getting fat at the taxpayers' expense!

This tradition is still carried out:

In the "weighing-in" ceremony, the newly elected Mayor, the Charter Trustees, Honorary Burgesses and the outgoing Mayor are all weighed at the Guildhall in the High Street. As their weight is recorded the Macebearer shouts out the weight, adding the words "and some more" if the Mayor has gained weight, or "and no more" if there is a weight loss or it remains the same.

The spectators wait for the call and if the words "and some more" are heard, the person being weighed is jeered. It is traditionally believed that they have grown fat at the expense of the towns' people. If the words "and no more" are heard, the crowd cheers and claps. If no weight has been gained, or some lost then they must have been working hard for the good of the town.

Perhaps we should do something similar with MP's bank accounts? Auditors check their financial position at the start of each Parliament and then at the end and announce if they have made any unusual gains ie from the acquisition of tax payer funded second homes?

Monday, May 19, 2008

(Black) South Africans attack (Black) Immigrants

This is a disturbing story from South Africa:

At least 12 people have been killed in the South African city of Johannesburg since Friday in a wave of violence directed at immigrants, police say.

Police have used tear gas and rubber bullets to try to stop gangs of armed youths from attacking foreigners and looting and burning their property.

Five people were killed overnight in the area of Cleveland. Two of them were burned and the others beaten to death

I used the title with great sadness as this story reminded me of a depressing conversation I had in many years ago.

Straight after Zimbabwe independence I was attached to the British Military Advisory Training Team (BMATT) and posted to the Zimbabwe School of Signals in Bulawayo. My job was to teach a mixed class of whites and blacks as part of the integration process. When I first arrived I was met by the white Captain in charge of the wing to be briefed on my duties. He was long serving and had been in the Rhodesian Army. The part of the conversation that I can hear as clearly as if it was yesterday was when he said:

You may think me as racists, but you have to understand that nobody hates a black more than another black.

He was right, I did think him a racist and over the next 6 months he didn't do anything to change my opinion. As it happens I had a good class that got on well with blacks and whites mixing amicable and helping each other.

In one respect he was right – over the years I have learned that nobody hates man more than another man and that being the same race, colour, creed or even family does nothing to curb man's potential for barbarity. One needs only to look at Cambodia, Former Yugoslavia and the suicide bombings in Middle East to realise how low we can stoop. I find it quite depressing at times.

So back to the story, all we have learned is that when black, poor, South Africans feel threatened by an influx of foreigners they lash out in similar ways to some whites have done in this country, but maybe without the violence.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


We're having a weekend away in Studland, Poole, to spend some quality time together as we lead such busy lives. We went for a walk along the beach on Saturday morning before breakfast and I was disgusted how much litter there was amongst the sand dunes. For all the campaigning against plastic bags they aren't really the problem, people are. And it wasn't just plastic bags: there were bottles, crisp bags, tissues and all manner of sweet wrappings. It wasn't as if there aren't any bins.

So, rather than spend lots of money on quangos like WRAP we should just rely on the one quango we have had for years, the Keep Britain Tidy campaign and they have a simple message to get across – if you must take it out, take it home.

The waiter’s arrived with the bill, again.

I'm writing this off line as the hotel we are staying doesn't have broadband access for the guests, which is fine because it is meant to be a break from everyday life. (I'm writing this as the Great Wiseone is still asleep). SO that means no references and I will be too busy to dig them out when I get back.

In Friday's Telegraph Jeff Randall makes the point that for the past few years much of the apparent prosperity (in Essex but that goes for everywhere) was underpinned by cheap money. He fears, quite rightly IMHO, that this is going to cost people more than they have in their budgets because the true price of debt is simply deferred – in effect pay less then, pay more now. As he says "pop goes the weasel".

This is then underpinned by the headline story in the main front page story which highlights the effect of expensive mortgages which mean that those with fixed rate mortgages coming to an end, around 1.4m people this year (is that1.4m people or 1.4m mortgages? it isn't quite clear) and they face a rise of £206 per month on a typical £150k mortgage. Then on Saturday on the front page we are told that "soaring bills leave families with just £50 per week" after they have paid essential household bills.

It looks like history is repeating itself and I am reminded me of a comment in the early 80's – in the 70's we all thought there was such a thing as a free lunch, in the 80's the waiter arrived with the bill. This time in the 90's and early 2000's many thought that there was a free lunch, last year the waiter arrived with the bill in the form a credit crunch, and it is starting to look like many had a very expensive dinner which the rest of us will be paying for over the next few years.

All this going on when we had a chancellor who was supposed to be the "Golden Chancellor", one who understood the subject and was a student of economic history. Let's hope the good people of Crewe pass a very swift and telling comment on him.

PS Mark Wadsworth has a good post on this subject "Housing crisis: Mortgage rates at 8-year high" in which I comment that I don't feel sorry for people who used equity release to fund expensive lifestyles i.e. cars and holidays.

Severe Lack Of Perspective Syndrome (SLOPS)

Slops was how the Aian press referred to Europe's reaction to the SARs outbreak a few years ago, but I think its an apt response to the reaction to this bit of fun and mischief reported on the front page of today's Sunday Telegraph (I'm still off line so no links), emphasis mine:

Teachers live in fear that they will make a pigs ear of it when inspectors call. That fear became reality when Ofsted staff were stopped in their tracks by a piglet let loose in the playground by mischievous pupils.

The culprits, three 16-year-olds celebrating their last day at old Buckenham High School in Norfolk said the caper was part of village tradition, but they are now
under investigation by the police and RSPCA.

The school's last Ofsted report praised pupils as well behaved and responsible

FFS, it was high spirited fun an d deserved no more than a bollocking from a teacher, who no doubt would be finding it difficult to keep a straight face. We really have started to reach the pits when the first response is always to look to criminalise people. I for one would prefer to employ these three who obviously have a bit of character than the products of what it looks like our state system is trying to produce – automatons with no idea how to think for themselves.

Research on Bonds needed

I am not asking for financial advice but I want to know where I can do some research on investment bonds. I got a call from my financial adviser and she is saying that they now recommend that their clients switch from cash to Bonds. I used to take in an interest in personal finance but am a bit behind the curve on the latest thinking. Does anyone know of any good sites where I can get up to speed before I make the switch?

Friday, May 16, 2008

On this day

in 1983, London police began wheel clamping illegally parked vehicles.

It anecodtal but it strikes me that those who cmplain bitterly about being clamped are those who moan loudest about trafic congestion. It never seems to dawn on them that that bad parking ("just for a minute while I nip to the shops to get some fags") might be the cause of congestion.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

On this day - Falklands

Three Argentine Skyhawks are shot down. Prime Minister Thatcher warns that peaceful settlement may not be possible. Special British forces night raid on Pebble Island; 11 Argentine aircraft destroyed on the ground.

The only people who believed there would be a peace settlement were deluded politicians in the UN. We were making final preparations. We didn't have a clue where we were but we knew we were getting close. It was getting cold wet and windy and we stayed off deck as much as possible.

One of the weird things that happened on the way down is that we stayed on GMT, which meant that we were getting up in what was effectively the middle of the night and going to bed "early". This would put us in good stead for the landings but I remember having a slight sense of jet lag and disorientation.

1978, 30 years on for Labour and Gordon

At first it was background noise, then it became a slight irritant and now its really winding me up - Gordon's ad nausea references to "hard working families". There's hardly a sentence goes by without this reference and as well as winding me up it was also perplexing. Why does he bang on about hard working families so much when they are such a relatively small part of the voter base? Surely what he should be worrying about just as equally are the baby boomers who are just about to retire?

Listening to a vox pop on BBC news today the penny dropped. Despite Gordon's efforts to undo the damage of the 10p cock up (and all the other failed policies) and promises to listen and learn those interviewed were implacably against Labour in general and Gordon in particular. I know it was a small sample and self selecting but there was real venom in the comments from young mothers and fathers and many others who I guess Gordon knows are supposed to be his core vote.

I remember the talk in the pubs when I was back on leave in 78 and 79 being one of contempt for Labour, and these were "working man's pubs"*. I got the impression then that no matter what Jim Callaghan did Labour was doomed. Gordon was around at that time and must also remember them well and I am sure they haunt him even now. Furthermore, I am willing to bet that Labour's internal polls are telling a similar story and Gordon knows he has to get the core vote going again.

Now, as I said above "hard working families" probably aren't enough on their own but the baby boomers are seeing their children and grand children suffering and though probably not natural Labours supporters they will be even more incensed and less likely to vote Labour. Furthermore, those baby boomers are likely to have voten Labour in 1997 and will be feeling a sense of betrayal that their off spring have been let down and could even be influencing their children's voting intentions.

I see it all now - Gordon knows he's stuffed and the only thing he can think of is to con hard working families in to believing he is the only one to look after them, despite raping them for the past 10 years. But I suspect that like Jim Callaghan in 1979 he knows that there is a sea change and his time is up.

HMRC‘s Kafkaesque tactics

I used to run a small telecoms consultancy with a couple of friends which was moderately successful for a few years until we all decided to do something else. We are still Directors as we want to keep the company name so we have to file annual accounts even though turnover is zero. About 3 month's ago the Company Secretary received a call from HMRC saying they were outside is home and looking to distress his goods to the value of 5 figures to cover the tax bill. As you can image he was straight on to the rest of us to see what, if anything we knew. There had been no communication with any of us and this was straight out of the blue.

HMRC claimed they had been sending us letters and we had been ignoring them. Our accountant knew nothing about the tax bill and was just as perplexed as we were. Anyway to cut a long story short we managed to persuade HMRC they had made a mistake and they accepted we didn't owe anything. Despite our please they wouldn't show us how they got their figures and we couldn't get a letter from them acknowledging we didn't owe anything.

Last week our Company Secretary, who is also a Director and good friend, received another call from HMRC this time they were a bit more cheerful and were ringing to raise concerns about our unpaid bill which had now increased by another £15k and was increasing by £11 per day. As one the 3rd Director has a young family and tends to get a bit excited the CS started to deal with it his own. Despite pleas they wouldn't (couldn't) explain how we had made a mistake with our tax calculations only that we owed the money. We went through 3 years of accounts with the accountant, checking back balances and all was in order. These were presented back to HMRC with a request they tell us where the error was.

Yesterday we received another call from them telling us that we didn't owe them any money and in fact they owed us a tax rebate, but they couldn't tell us how much on the phone but also they wouldn't tell us how they got their calculations so wrong.

This is very worrying, our CS is a diligent guy, which is why he took the job on, and we have always been open and scrupulous. I wonder, though, how many people would have been scared witless and paid or worse still been driven to illness with worry as was a significant sum we are talking about? Surely they have a duty to tell us how they calculated the tax bill?

Have our national accounts got to such a parlous state that the bureaucracy is under instructions to extort as much money as they can and not to care about the consequences?

School tests aren’t damaging pupils, our responses are

Being stuck in the car yesterday it was impossible to ignore all the tripe that was being put forward in the great schools testing debate:

The national testing system in English schools is being misused to the detriment of children's education, says a report from a committee of MPs.
The Commons schools, children and families committee says teachers spend too much time "teaching to the test

I don't see what is wrong with "teaching to the test", as long as the tests cover the entire curriculum. Teachers are given a wide ranging curriculum to teach and all things being equal they know that any part of that subject can be tested. For their own benefit they need to ensure that all their pupils have grasped the entire curriculum and the quickest way to do this is to use past tests. The results of these will soon identify weaknesses.

You could argue that the curriculum is wrong or narrow of deficient in some other way, but that's not the issue that was debated yesterday. You could also argue that only siting tests isn't productive, and I'll agree with that, but this isn't she same as saying that the tests per se aren't working.

Another area where pupils are put under undue pressure is parents who seem to think that SATs scores are somehow going to get their 7 and 11 YO's in to university. If they parents start getting anxious then the kids do and get lower scores. Not good for the children or the schools.

We also seem to forget that SATs aren't about testing children, they are about testing schools, and this may put a bit more pressure on teachers, but that is their problem not the pupils'. If teachers are found to be putting undue pressure on pupils to do well then they aren't good teachers and should be removed from the job, which is part of the point of testing in the first place.

One other issue which was raised is that there are too many exams, and I have some sympathy with this. The Sprog seemed to be doing exams continually from 14 when he started his GCSE's to 18 when he finished his A levels. This put him off school and he decided not to go to university. But this over examining is the fault of the SATs it's a consequence of changing from the O level with its one exam per subject at the end of 2 years to continual assessment with exams at the end of each topic, and lets not forget this was done to help girls who struggle with the single exam concept. AS levels haven't helped either.

Throughout the whole debate not one person came up with a compelling reason why we shouldn't be measuring school's performance in this way. There was some waffle about continual assessments and monitoring teachers, but it was more about taking pressure off the teachers. It was interesting that one headmaster from a "good" school reckoned that his kids didn't even know it was happening until they walked in to the exam room. Good man.

Until someone comes up with a better way of benchmarking schools then SATs should be here to stay and it would be in everyone's interest if that was accepted and we had less fuss about them every year.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Paying for Social Care

Having said I'm blogging light my friend isn't back yet and this story has been bugging me all day:

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged to reform the social care system for England's ageing population.

He says that without a radical shake up, the care system in England alone faces a £6bn shortfall within 20 years.

OK, I see the need for constant debate on this subject but its the soft answers from ministers that is the problem:
He said he understood the anxieties of families who fear having to sell their own homes to pay for long-term care, and of losing assets they would otherwise have passed onto family or friends.

To combat this, he suggested ideas including better collaboration between health and social services, and helping people to save for their old age while protecting their homes and inheritance.

WTF this all about? They want to tax me so that someone else can leave their homes and savings to their spoilt brats?

This is exactly what is wrong with the cradle to grave state. Nobody wants to take responsibility for themselves when times are bad.

The PM should be screaming that everyone has a duty to save for their own age and what's more they will use up their savings, within reason before they get masses of tax payers money thrown at them. I certainly expect people to sell their homes to pay for long term care and if their family don't like it, you look after you parents, I've got my own problems to deal with.

And in case you wondering I am not a hypocrite, I have savings and I have made it quite clear to the sprog I will spend these on ensuring that the closing days of my life are comfortable first and he shouldn't expect an inheritance, he will get what's left. I made sacrifices to generate these saving and I don't see why they should go to supporting those who have pissed their money up against a wall. Fortunately he's a good socialist and doesn't believe in inheritance - idiot!

I am well aware of the moral hazard and that nobody will save beyond 65 or so - well if they are that stupid and blow all their money when they are young then they will have some memories to draw on when they are at the bottom of the care queue.

When it comes to the welfare state it should first and foremost look after those who have had a bad deal from life ie partners dying when there are young families, the disabled, ill etc, not those who want to inherit a comfortable life.

Just had a final thought before I pressed the publish button - I suppose its too much to expect a Governement that saved the square root of fuck all when times were good to lecture people to do them same themselves. When can we get rid of these bastards?

Blogging light

Summer's here, more golf, sailing and general outdoor activities doesn't seem to leave much time for writing, although I do hear a lot and still swear at the TV and radio. We had 2 BBQ'sd over the weekend and while I have wifi it difficult to read the screen outside.

I'm on the road today and staying with a friend near Manchester so it looks like when he gets in we'll be on the piss, so not much more for a day or so.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

On this day

in 1910, the British House of Commons resolved that the maximum lifetime of Parliament be reduced from seven to five years.

If I had my way there wouldn't be a term as such. Every year we would vote on 20% of the seats, randomly scattered around the country. This would concentrate the minds of politicians and take away the PM's divine right to give us electoral bribes just before a GE, which they call at their discretion.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

"Shoot to kill"

I hate this phrase, it is always misused by newspapers and the Telegraph has managed to use it in the headline of the story of the shooting of Mark Saunders by police.

Just to be clear, everyone who is trained to shoot in Armed services or police is trained that if you are going to shoot you shoot to kill. None of the Jack Bauer crap of trying to "wing" someone so you can question them, you aim for a kill so they can't do any more damage.

Sometime the press really mean shot on sight, often in stories about IRA terrorists, but as far as I am aware there has never been such a policy.

On this day

in 1961, former British diplomat George Blake, was jailed for 42 years after being found guilty of spying for Russia. In 1966 he successfully escaped from London's Wormwood Scrubs.

Born in Rotterdam, Blake was the son of a Dutch mother and a Turkish/Jewish father who was a naturalised British citizen and there is one quote from him which is apposite:

Blake denied being a traitor, insisting that he had never felt British: "To betray, you first have to belong. I never belonged."
given this story:
Thousands of foreigners are being allowed to work in high security parts of Britain's airports without passing proper criminal record checks, it was disclosed last night.

Despite warnings that terrorists would try to recruit people working "airside" in terminals – with direct access to aircraft and baggage – no attempt has been made to check whether foreign workers have committed any offences abroad

Hems are up and are coats off - walking through London is very pleasant indeed

I've just had to shoot in to London and thoroughly enjoyed the walk from the car park to our office. Far better than in dreary winter when everyone is wrapped up.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

MPs FOI expenses decision delayed

A High Court decision on whether MPs expenses should be fully disclosed has been deferred to a later date.

It follows a full day of legal argument at the Royal Courts of Justice.

The House of Commons is fighting to avoid releasing the details of the expenses of 14 MPs and former MPs under the Freedom of Information Act.

They argue the publication of the MPs' second home addresses in a receipt-by-receipt breakdown of expenses would compromise security.

OK, that easy, just redact the address.

How much as their fight cost and what are they really so scared about?

Oh, and in future put them up in hotels, we shouldn't be funding a second house for a job they volunteer to do.

Hurray, an enviroment problem that isn't caused by global warming

When I first started reading this story I though " here goes, another excuse for ramping up the GW debate without proof" especially as its a beeb story, but I am happy to say my cynicism was misplaced:

A landslip described as "the worst for 100 years" has destroyed more than 400 metres (1,312 ft) of Dorset's World Heritage Jurassic Coast.

The earth movement blocked a stretch of beach between Lyme Regis and Charmouth but there are no reports of injuries.

I was all prepared for a rant about how this area is always slipping and if its the biggest slip for 100 years it means bigger ones etc.

No doubt someone will get the GW in to this story somewhere

Is there or isn't there a terrorism problem?

If there is terrorism problem why is the Home Office wasting everyone's time by changing Cannabis from class C to Class B?

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has said cannabis is to be reclassified as a Class B drug against officials' advice.

If Cannabis really is a serious problem then the police need to take it seriously and start arresting more people, get them through the courts and safely stuffed in to our glorious jails - where no doubt where the can continue to feed their habit or progress to harder drugs. During all this they won't have time to hunt terrorists, will they?

So if there isn't a problem with terrorism why are they still banging on about 42 days precharge detention?

In case you are wondering I'm in the legalise it camp, despite never taking drugs, other than alcohol and tobacco

On this day

in 1991, a judge in Macon, Georgia dismissed a wrongful death suit against Ozzy Osbourne. A local couple failed to prove their son was inspired to attempt suicide by Ozzy's music.

Lets see what all the fuss was about, not least because I was a big Sabbath fan in their early days:

And also a slower one:

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

On this day

in 1954, Roger Bannister, a 25 year old British medical student, became the first man to run a mile in less than four minute (at the Iffley Road Sports Ground, Oxford). His time was 3 minute 59.4 seconds.

Without wanting to take away anything from this feat you do have to wonder about the accuracy of the clock and the track measurements; it is a very precise time and wouldn't have taken much for the clock to be out or the distance to be in error.

As of September last year according to Wiki answers the current outdoor Men's record is held by Hicham El Guerrouj (MOR) in 3:26.00, 7/14/1998 in Rome, Italy. It would be interesting to now how much of that improved time is down to technology - tracks are very springy and Bannister ran on cinders - and how much down to improvements in understanding physiology.

Still amazing feats though as I don't think that even in my youth I could run the 100m at the pace thy run 1500.

Monday, May 05, 2008

All's well

I love spring, well days like today when we can enjoy it. We've just been to a BBQ with friends and their family. It was the annual get together for one of their daughter's birthday and the weather, company, food and alcohol were great. It was made even better by the Great Wiseone volunteering to drive.

We've just got home and we are sitting in the garden listening to the evening chorus, Red kites are whizzing by, the cats are entertaining us by charging round the garden and the wine is still flowing. I was reading political blogs but that's too depressing given the circumstances so its one last post and the shutting of the laptop.

Whatever you have been doing I hope your weekend was as good as mine and enjoy whats of it for tomorrow its back to work, which I enjoy, and hating the Govt, which I don't enjoy.

On this day

in 1955, World famous American virologist Dr Jonas Salk witnessed a ceremonial polio vaccination in London when Margaret Jenkins from Kent became the 500,000th person in London to receive the vaccine to prevent the crippling disease poliomyelitis.

Its easy to be cynical about international organisations but the efforts to eradicate polio have to be acknowledged as something that we should aspire to when it comes to international cooperation. I suppose, though, that it was easy because there was little politics involved in the subject.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Hasn't Brown learned that using rising house prices is an illusion?

According to to today's Telegraph Brown is going to make a few eye catching policies to resurrect his fortunes. One of those will be:

A big expansion of shared-equity deals in a move to attract more first-time buyers back to the struggling housing market. The range of organisations that can "share" mortgages with homeowners, currently restricted to the Government, housing associations and estate agents, will be expanded to include other businesses. This is expected to give the market a big cash injection.

All this will do is keep prices artificially high. FFS, haven't our politicians learned that rising house prices as a proxy for wealth is nothing more than an illusion that eventually leads to tears? If Brown really had balls he would take the pain and let house prices slide to the point where they become truly affordable to first time buyers. Only then can we start to think about growing real wealth.

Sadly Brown doesn't have the courage of those he writes about; sadly I suspect very few politicians would when it comes to housing.

On this day - Falklands

Argentine air attacks from Super Etendard fighter planes using Exocet air to surface missiles sink the British destroyer HMS Sheffield with twenty men on board. One British Harrier plane is shot down.

The mood is solemn, we expected it but it is still a shock. We all know that being in the armed forces means death and mutilation are an occupational hazard, but we still have a sense of duty and rather bizarrely a desire to put our training to the test. It is obvious that some people are starting to feel the strain of the delay and the thought of going to war harder than others.

Above all this though is a real belief that we are doing the right thing and we can't back down. Maggie is revered for her stance and their is a growing contempt for the appeasers.

PR, The BNP and Civil Servants

According to the dead tree version of the Telegraph, civil servants at City Hall are likely to refuse to work for the elected BNP candidate. Furthermore they are being supported by Tory Assembly members and, building a straw man, I will hazard a guess Labour members as well.

This is outrageous and any civil servant who refuses to work with the BNP member should be fired for gross dereliction of duty and lose their gold plated pensions.

I have always been against PR for 2 reasons, firstly it leads to muddled politics with nobody having a clear opportunity to deliver their manifest. Secondly, and more importantly, it allows minority parties to get elected, which is what happened here no matter how despicable they are.

But who am I to doubt the our leaders and their infinite wisdom; they decided that London was to have PR and now we have to live with the consequences. As Mark Twain said - the people have spoken, the bastards.

The BNP may be a despicable bunch and I wouldn't vote for them if my life depended on it, but some deluded fools did and we have to respect their views. It is therefore incumbent on those who are paid bey the state and who were also elected by deluded fools to treat them with the same respect they expected to be treated themselves.

If you support PR and hate the BNP go and look in the mirror because you let them in and having done that you have a duty to respect them and the people who put elected them.

Maybe Mark Twain should have said - our leaders have implemented an idea, the bastards.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Boris wins despite Alternative Vote system

Brian Paddick admitted in an interview on the Today programme that he didn't cast his second vote for Ken and from I can gather not many did either. This is interesting because the left always assumed that the AV system would always work for them because they reckoned that the anti Tory vote would always arrange for them to win on 2nd preference.

If anybody spots a decent site on how the 2nd preferences were distributed I'd be very interested.

On this day

in 1497, a rising broke out in Cornwall, provoked by taxation. James Tutchet led an army of 15,000 from Taunton through the southern counties to attack London.

Now there's a thought; there's obviously a feeling in the country that we have had enough of high taxation so why should we wait 2 years to get rid of nuLab?

Friday, May 02, 2008

On this day

In 1997 I was between projects and went to play golf. I ended up playing with a couple of ladies who were all doom and gloom over labour's massive victory to the point that one of them quipped "its the end of life as we know it". I hope they are happier now.

Listening and Leadership

Just seen Gordon on saying that he will "listen and lead". If that's his attitude then no wonder he failed, he is clueless about leadership.

Great leaders have a vision which they sell to those around them, be they military leaders, CEO's or politicians, and convince them people to follow them. Great leaders don't wander round asking people what they want and then try to convince them that they are the best to deliver it; we all reason that anyone Tom, Dick or Harry could do that.

This is also where Cameron will fail as well.

We need a real leader with vision and balls to go against the consensus.

A clear message for Labour

The polls have spoken and although it is only a local government election it is as clear a message as it was to the Tories in 1995. But I think this message goes even deeper and is morew meaningful.

Up to 1997 Labour had always complained that they hadn't really had a chance to prove themselves. In 1945-50 they were picking up after a war, from 64-70 Wilson was following "13 years of Tory misrule", in the 70's they were short governments and picking up after Tories had "screwed the economy", they claimed.

Well, in 1997 they took over a growing UK economy which had had most of its structural weaknesses fixed. What's more their own Party had been able to regenerate and get rid of Clause 4 and their perceived reliance on the Unions. They even agreed to Tory spending plans and that gave them an even more secure financial base.

So now they have had 11 years with a world economy that was expanding, especially China and India. They have had every opportunity to implement their socialist policies that will give us the dream state that they claim socialism will deliver. They've thrown money at Health, Education and Social Security as if their lives depended on it. There have been some improvements in Health, but it is arguable that these don't reflect the value for money that our taxes deserve.

Now we have the first down turn and the public have realised that NuLab have been a sham and that they have been conned. The cupboard is bare despite an expanding economy and an ever increasing rate of taxation in real terms, just when people are likely to need support and releif from high taxes. To add insult to injury we still have the same proportion of children in poverty despite all the promises despite the ludicrous tax cfedits. I could go on but have a life to lead.

The message is loud and clear to Labour, you've had you chance and screwed up, no excuse this time its all your own fault. Now fuck off and and don't ever darken our ballot papers you incompetent socialist windbags.

Is a narrow loss for Boris the best outcome for the Tories?

Feeling a bit Machiavellian this morning I was musing over the outcome of the London elections on the run up to the next general election. The problem for the Tories is that they need to be in a position to challenge Gordon's incompetence at every turn without having their flanks exposed and in the case MacMillan may have been very prescient.

Boris may end up being a good mayor but he is taking over in what is starting to look like a rapid slow down if not recession. This means significant cuts will need to be found and every time something goes wrong – a child in care is murdered by parents who were being watched by social services for example – Boris will get the blame. The Tories opponents will then be able to use this during the run up to an election as a proof of Tory incompetence. I'll go further and say that Gordon will put the squeeze on London's budgets to make it harder for Boris.

What may be better for the Tories is a very narrow win for Ken and then maybe lots of vote rigging scandals coming to light in the next 12 months. Surely its better that Ken, and by extension Labour, are in the spotlight every time there is a cock-up?

On this day - Falklands

in 1982, the British submarine HMS Conqueror sinks the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano outside the war zone and while sailing away from the islands. Almost 400 crewmen die.

That was it, any faint hopes that any of us had of had were gone and we could concentrate on the job at hand. There has been a notable increase in the number of people attending church services and prayer meeting, not that I did (I'm agnostic if you must know) but I did see the room filling up there are no atheists in a fox hole! There was also sadness at the needless loss of life, by that I mean the invasion led to it.

As an after comment - I was amazed when we got back to find that people thought there was no need to sink the Belgrano, it was out of the way and steaming away from the exclusion zone. Have these people never heard of ships turning round? Don't they realise that the planes on board don't have to fly in the direction the ship is pointing. If the Belgrano had been lost and go into our fleet it would have been carnage.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

On this day

in 1517, the 'Evil May Day' riots took place in London. Apprentices attacked foreign residents. Wolsey suppressed the rioters, of whom 60 were hanged.. One version:

Within a few hours approximately a thousand young male apprentices had congregated in Cheapside. The mob freed several prisoners who were locked up for attacking foreigners and proceeded to St Martin le Grand, a privileged liberty north of St Paul's Cathedral where numerous foreigners lived. Here they were met by the under-sheriff of London, Thomas More, who attempted vainly to persuade them to return to their homes. However as soon as More had calmed them the inhabitants of St Martin started to throw stones, bricks, bats and boiling water from their windows which also fell on an official who screamed: "Down with them!".

This sparked panic in the mob and they looted foreigners' houses there and elsewhere in the city, although no one was killed. By 3am the riot had died down and the three hundred people arrested were pardoned. However thirteen of the rioters were convicted of treason and executed on 4 May, and Lincoln was executed three days later. This account by Hall is mirrored by a letter to the Venetian doge written five days after the riot.[4]

You wouldn't think that there would have been enough "globalisation" then to attract so many foreigners that it would make a significant impact on the population.

ACPO to defy Brown on Cannabis

According to the Telegraph:

Police will not toughen their approach to cannabis when ministers upgrade the legal status of the drug to class B, it has been disclosed.
The Association of Chief Police Officers has confirmed that the current policy of “confiscate and warn” will continue, despite Gordon Brown’s wish to send out a “tough message” on cannabis use.

Good. There is nothing so unedifying as a Labour politician, or inded ay politician, pandering to the social authoritarians at the Daily Mail.
A spokesman for Acpo said: “The key will be the discretion for officers to strike the right balance.

“We do not want to criminalise young people who are experimenting.”

Why criminalise anyone who is just using and not offending anone else?