Saturday, February 27, 2010

Conservative Conference

I shall be enjoying a distinctly non-political weekend and celebrating the impending birthday of my Father.  Less than two years ago he had a heart attack and though he recovered and has returned to a normal life the whole thing forced me to re-evaluate my relationship with him.  So, I will by choice probably miss all of the conference, TEA Party and all subsequent commentary.  You do not need to however, and can watch the conference as it happens on the below player (should you so wish).

Watch live streaming video from conservatives at

I will be back blogging either tomorrow night or Monday, feel free to leave any links in the comments of any posts or articles of interest.  I have my suspicions of where things will be politically come Monday, but it is these events that can encourage big swings, either positive or negative so should at the very least provoke some online comments.

Have a nice weekend!

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

The Daily Mail says that Lockerbie Bomber Al-Megrahi is not going to die from cancer after all.

The Boiling Frog says that the Tory leadership has screwed Doug Carswell over his EDM on a EU referendum.

Ed West asks if there is a moral difference between Nazi's and Communists.

Dr North is not laughing at the suggestion that January 2010 was the hottest on record.

And Finally, John Redwood is thinking out loud on how this election can be won.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Tories Down To 5 Point Lead

As per You Gov and UK Polling Report.

Perhaps David Cameron will reconsider his EU Referendum policy now.... No?

So what will the magic number be I wonder.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Farage on Rompuy (2)

I posted the Farage video yesterday, but it was less than a minute long.  I said more please not actually expecting this, but this version has become available today with exactly that... 

H/T: Witterings.

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

Toby Young thinks that Barack Obama has betrayed Britain in her hour of need.

Bloggers4UKIP say that the EU is to wade into the bendy banana territory again.

Roger Helmer MEP takes issue with Guy Verhofstadt MEP for equating national identity and the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

Witterings From Witney has found another Conservative (E)U-Turn.

And finally, James Higham on the UK's relationship with the EU, for those wishing to take the Blue Pill.  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.


Are You Outraged?

I have a shocking and appalling story to share:

Senior Staff at an animal sanctuary where up to 600 Cats and Dogs have died will all escape disciplinary action and legal proceedings.  Even more galling, is that all of the senior staff involved have found lucrative new positions elsewhere, and the Chief Executive walked away with a £200,000 pay off and a pension worth £600k. 

After publication of an independent report the truth of what had been going has finally emerged.  Animals were abused and neglected by staff that were described as hostile.  Animals were left in humiliating and undignified conditions.  The report concludes that the impact on them was "unimaginable".  Many animals were living amongst their own faeces, when their spaces were frequently left in an unclean condition by staff.  There is also an allegation that food was left in sight but out of reach of hungry and ill pets.

The authors of the report investigated the reasons why such poor conditions were allowed to have come about and decided that it was a combination of staff having an uncaring attitude and with managers being in denial about the problems whilst holding their focus on cutting costs and hitting government targets which would have allowed them to operate in a more profitable fashion.  There was said to be a culture of fear and bullying and staff were told openly that if they did not comply with efforts to hit targets they would lose their jobs.

The report itself followed an inquiry chaired by a specialist in criminal negligence, which found 9 of the 11 board members had indeed left their roles; none of them faced any internal disciplinary actions. A review of the accounts reveals the extent of the pay-offs.


Now at this point of the post I need to stop you from reading and make a frank confession.  Everything you have just read is completely false... I made it up for a reason I hope to now make apparent.  Firstly, let me just say that I would consider the above scenario to be an abhorrent situation, one worthy of national news.  Thankfully it is not true.  Secondly I apologise for the deception.  My aim was to evoke an emotional response and to ask you now to consider how you felt when you read the above story.  My guess is that most people would be between angry and outraged.

Now, I am going to lead you to the reason for my deception, and this time it is a real story which I heard about earlier today but have just read the details on tonight on the Daily Telegraphs website.  I link to it, but will reproduce the first few paragraphs below, and invite you to contrast the details to my fictional story above.

Bosses at scandal-hit Stafford Hospital escape scot-free

The senior managers who presided over one of Britain’s worst hospital scandals, in which up to 1,200 patients died, have all escaped being disciplined, it has emerged.

No one on the board at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust has faced censure and all of them were either paid off, walked into another job or allowed to remain in post. The man who ran the hospital trust received a large pay-off despite his part in the scandal.

Martin Yeates, the former chief executive, left the trust “by mutual agreement” with a pay-off of £400,000 and a pension worth £1.27 million, it has been alleged.

The lack of disciplinary action emerged after the publication of a damning report into the treatment of patients between 2005 and 2008.

An independent report commissioned by the Government found that patients were abused and neglected by hostile staff and were left in humiliating and undignified conditions. The impact on them was “unimaginable”, the report said.

Patients, most of whom were treated at the trust’s main hospital in Stafford, were “robbed of their dignity”, left in soiled bedclothes, unwashed and in states of undress in full view of others, it found.

Families of patients had to clean lavatories and public areas themselves, while food and drinks were left out of reach and, it was alleged, patients drank out of vases.

Attitudes of staff were at times “uncaring”. Managers were “in denial” about the problems and were concentrating on cutting costs and hitting targets to achieve foundation trust status, the report said.

There was said to be a culture of fear and bullying with staff concerned they would lose their jobs if targets were not hit.

The report followed an independent inquiry chaired by Robert Francis QC, a specialist in clinical negligence, who has acted in previous high-profile inquiries. It found that 18 of the 22 board members who ran the trust over the period under investigation had now left their roles, with none facing disciplinary action.

Many went on to senior, well-paid lucrative positions elsewhere in the NHS.

Mr Yeates, 51, did not give evidence in person to the inquiry due to ill health and is not thought to be working. The trust’s most recent accounts show that he had built a pension pot worth more than £1.27 million by the time he stepped down, entitling him to annual payments of more than £65,000.

You will probably have noticed that I not only substituted animals for people, but also changed the number of cases and values. 

If you have come this far and I am sure a number of people will not have, you may still be questioning my deception at the beginning.  When I heard a snippet of this news earlier today (and not the full story) it was put to me that if the (real) story had of broken today and had of involved animals instead of real people, this would be on every front page, it would have been addressed in Parliament and we would have all been talking about it at our places of work and in the pubs.  In considering this, I found that even though I too have lost a member of my family, well, let's say lack of due care from a member of NHS staff (went unpunished) and have another loved one who is permanently in the care of NHS staff (most good, some bad) I was a little taken back by the suggestion and found almost immediate agreement that it would indeed be considered a bigger deal, or more shocking if that were the case.

The fact that this will likely be a one or two day story and probably will not stoke a fire under all of us is actually quite telling about how accepting we have become of living in the client state.  It would almost seem immoral to some to even question the behaviour and incompetence of the frontline staff and management of the NHS.  Has the malaise now grown so deep that many of us, even those of us who have been closely affected in the oast cannot find outrage when these appalling situations occur?

Food for thought I felt.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Farage On Rompuy

More please.

H/T: All Seeing Eye

New Labour

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The View From Outside

This has got to be the best You Tube video I have ever seen.  It is a news report on Gordon Brown regarding the bullying accusations from Taiwan. 

Full Credit: Guido.

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

Paul Mendelle QC defends trial by Jury to the Guardians readers.

Scunnert says members of the English Defence League were arrested and denied their rights en route to a protest in Edinburgh.

Autonomous Mind identifies why David Cameron in unable to establish and maintain a healthy poll lead.

Dick Puddlecote wonders if people can be bothered to protect the notion of society any more.

And finally, Witterings from Witney tells us about the trouble with politicians and government today.


Monday, February 22, 2010

Tory Deal With EU

According to Bruno the Conservatives have sent Ken Clarke to Brussels to meet with Jose Manuel Barroso to signal that a Conservative government is one which is not going to cause any trouble to the EU's grand plans.  Bruno, who is based in Brussels, says that:

The two-day visit to Brussels, which begins on Tuesday, by the most pro-EU member of David Cameron's cabinet-in-waiting is seen by European officials as a signal that a new Conservative administration will work with the EU executive rather battling against it.

Ken Clarke will also meet with Michel Barnier who is the French Commissioner for the Internal Market and I would imagine they will discuss the disembowlling of the City of London and gradual handover of power of our markets to the EU Commission.

Such a move should not come as a surprise to anybody but in my opinion is going to be held up as yet another stick with which to beat long-suffering EU Sceptic Conservatives who will again be taking a long hard look at UKIP.

Let me again give reference to the Albion Alliance, who are seeking to get candidates from across all parties to pledge to a referendum on EU Membership before the General Election.  There are a number of candidates who have indicated that they fear being deselected if they pledge before the General Election, and as such the Albion Alliance has introduced a secret pledge function so that candidates can pledge now without fear of the party whip.  Their support will be announced once the General Election has been called, when deselection is no longer an option.  We must maintain and in fact increase the pressure on our MPs and perspective MPs and we have to do it this side of the General Election.  Conservative Candidates can of course pledge, but I suspect they may need a decent indication of local support for doing so.

If you are someone who wants to cast an EU Sceptic vote, but you are not sure if your candidates rhetoric is solid, or if it is all more guff, then what is the harm in spending a couple of minutes to email them?  Just because a candidate has already been emailed, does not mean that with the benefit of repeated requests will be lost on them.

I wouldn't mind wagering that Ken Clarke's trip will grate on those Conservatives who hold the hope that the party will shift to a more EU Sceptic position when in office.

Does David Cameron Need A New General Election Coordinator?

The Conservatives are stuttering and those of us watching from the sidelines can see they are flying blind and without a wider strategy in place.  This is effecting the polls, I have taken the below PoliticsHome graph from the All Seeing Eye which shows the narrowing.  If there is a strategy or a wider message it is getting lost.  We are not yet into the real midst of things; The Conservatives should be miles out in front.  All of the reversals on policies, and contridactory messages make the Conservatives seem unorganised and amateurish. 

The current General Election Coordinator is George Osborne, who is also as we all know Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.  But with the economy the way it is, and the importance of getting the economic record right for this election I am wondering if David Cameron should not reconsider this and appoint someone else to take over the General Election Organisation freeing up George Osborne to get across the message of just how bad the economic situation is.

If Cameron were to heed this advice he would need to act exceptionally quickly as the election could be as soon as five weeks away, and with the latest it could be in June it is going to require someone to get up to speed very quickly.  This also means it will likely need to be a promotion from within the Shadow Cabinet, rather than a new appointment.  

It would also be a move that will come under attack from the opposition parties, but no matter when such a change would have occurred this would have been the case.  Better to highlight that George Osborne's workload plotting to repair the economy Labour destroyed has him busy enough.  A change now can still be sold as a decisive decision from Cameron and should the Conservatives win the election and it will be viewed as a masterstroke (providing the job is not handed to Ken Clarke!)

To me the real reason behind the slide is the abandonment of what I would consider core Tory principles and of the supporters who believe in those principles.  But this campaign sloppiness is not helping.  Cameron's limpness on the EU and the manner in which he changed his position on Lisbon has damaged his standing.  But, I still think people would rather have Labour out, and would be happier to take their grievances to Cameron rather than Brown who is as responsive as a brick wall.  Which brings me to my final point, would the Conservative core like to see a change in message and in the coordinator? I think so, though they may share my concerns about the perception on a switch. 

The main stream media has not turned on Labour and Brown completely, and some traditional Conservative Newspapers are only lukewarm when presenting the Conservatives.  Time after time I see the TV news apologising or rationalising Labour.  This just should not be the case, what is left of the print media should be fired up and abrassive.  The only reason they are not is because the Conservative have not stoked the fire enough. Yet.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Brown Is A Bully And Mandelson Is A Liar

Don't take my word for it, why not pop along to this BBC page and watch Christine Pratt talking.  She is the head of an anti-bullying charity and states that three or four calls have been made to the National Bullying Helpline in recent years from staff who are "working directly with him" and that they "have issues and have concerns"..

She continues by saying that statements from people like Mandelson categorically denying that it was occurring is a nonsense and is not credible and what they should be doing is addressing it in more productive manner.  To deny it is to compound the stress of those who believe they are being bullied.  To outright deny it is not conducive to productive working relationships.

So there you have it, Brown is in denial and his cabinet colleagues are prepared to lie to cover up his indiscretions to help keep him as PM despite the fact he is clearly does not have the mental character necessary to hold such high office.

If you work for Gordon Brown and you too would like to talk to someone, you can also contact the National Bullying Hotline on 0845 22 55 787.  Lines are open Monday to Friday 10am - 4pm and Saturdays 10am - 2pm.

Six Months On...

... And he still is not dead yet.

I am not a member of family to any of the 270 victims of the Lockerbie bombing, but if I were I believe I would be mad with rage that this man was released, allowed to exit the country and is still alive.

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

Constantly Furious says scientists have discovered a new element.

Fausty on the creep of totalitarianism.

The Quiet Man heard Gordon Brown's plea to take a second look and did just that.

James Higham did the same.

And finally, Jess the Dog has a birthday card for Gordon Brown.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bully Brown

There has been speculation for weeks, but in the Sunday Mail they have the taster of Andrew Rawnsley's soon to be released book.  Seeing as it is Saturday night, I am little tipsy, so I will therefore link to the Mail and copy and paste a few talking points regarding our shameful PM below.  I will add my comments that he, Harperson and many in this Labour cabinet will claim that they are the people that fight against this kind of behaviour in the work place... The word we all can therefore use is "hypocrites" as they once again are shown not to practice what they preach.  Additionally, he is again characterised as a man clearly not of the stuff to hold such high office; he is not standing down so we must ensure he is removed.

From the Mail:

Britain's top civil servant ordered Gordon Brown to 'curb your volcanic temper' after complaints that he was abusive to his Downing Street staff, it has emerged.
The unprecedented rebuke, delivered by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O'Donnell, was revealed amid explosive disclosures about Mr Brown's wild and violent outbursts.
The Prime Minister was forced to go on television to deny he had physically assaulted his aides as a new book claimed:
  • Sir Gus ordered an official inquiry into allegations of bullying by Mr Brown.
  • Paranoid Mr Brown grabbed an aide violently and shouted: 'They're out to get me!'
  • The raging PM thumped the rear of the front seat of his car so hard that it scared the bodyguard sitting in it; while an aide sitting next to Mr Brown thought the PM was going to smash him in the face.
  • Mr Brown dragged a No10 secretary from her chair and took over at her keyboard.
  • He manhandled a senior adviser who told him he was late for a meeting with VIPs, yelling: 'Why do I have to meet these ****ing people!'

Totalitarian Britain

This is not a drill, and it is most definitely not a spoof of some kind.

I am alarmed by a post I have just read over at Ollie Cromwells fine blog, it seems for 24 hours the City of Manchester (England) was turned into a Police State with police checkpoints set up all over the City and members of the public were escorted through airport style metal detectors.

There was no declared Terrorist threat; there was no national security necessity.  This is simply the latest demonstration of State control over our lives.  In usual fashion people are being told that this was a crime reduction exercise.  We, as freeborn men and women have the right to go where we like in this country without molestation and interference from the State, it is our country.  Without highlighting this and without registering our distain, the Government will simply repeat the exercise, and with no basis in law, what is to stop them extending the zone of control, or the period of time such measures are in place. 

From Wikipedia - "Police State":
The term police state describes a state in which the government exercises rigid and repressive controls over the social, economic and political life of the population. A police state typically exhibits elements of totalitarianism and social control, and there is usually little or no distinction between the law and the exercise of political power by the executive.

The inhabitants of a police state experience restrictions on their mobility, and on their freedom to express or communicate political or other views, which are subject to police monitoring or enforcement. Political control may be exerted by means of a secret police force which operates outside the boundaries normally imposed by a constitutional state
This kind of exercise is what you would expect to see in the former Soviet Union, or under the current regimes in North Korea or China.  The absence of vocal opposition to this action is deafening!  The few media reports that do exist are carbon copies of each other, no doubt copied-and-pasted from the press releases.  How a thousand journalists are not outraged by this is incomprehensible to me. 

Greater Manchester Police are a strict bunch as well, they have recorded six seperate incidents of snowball throwing as acts of Serious Violent Crime.  Seriously people, WTF!

Thanks to Ollie, I also know the BBC reported on it today, they lead with the number of arrests and state that rapists were arrested and two cannabis farms were closed.... Why would you need metal detectors to catch rapists and cannabis growers?  They also state that pubs were visited to ensure licensing laws were being adhered to.  One-hundred-and-ninety-five people were arrested and thirty-eight people have appeared in court already as a result of the actions.  Sky News describe the check points as "Safety Arches"

The BBC also helpfully claims:
A "lock down" in police terms is when officers control where people can go in a certain area in response to a specific risk, hazard or threat.
So what was the specific risk, hazard or threat?... What, people out drinking are a threat?  How dare people move freely and take a drink on a Friday night!  We must all be surevilled and monitored just in case things get out of hand.  The Met used to boast that they promoted Intelligence Led Policing, inferring that they take information and clues (some might say, facts) and build an investigation from it.  Now, they are the agents of control.
The message is clear that if you do go out, have too many drinks and get involved with violent crime then you will be brought to justice

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney, Greater Manchester Police
No mention however that just by going out you must comply with his officers directions whilst moving around town.  Under the theory of enlightened absolutionism the ruler is the highest servant of the state, and exercises absolute power for the general welfare of the population.  Except, we as voters never gave consent or legitimacy to the notion that Gordon Brown or Herman Van Rompuy may exercise such concerns on our behalf.  That's the point, it is seldom granted, it is usually assumed control.  It is evidence of another abuse of power that can go unchecked under our decrepid and decayed system. 

If people are breaking the law in Manchester then they should be investigated and questioned and if there is evidence then they should be charged, detained with the authority of the magistrate and then stand trial in front of a jury of their peers.  The wrong doing of individuals in Manchester is not reason to turn the area into a police zone.

Silence on such matters strengthens the hand of those who want to control our lives, because they will think they can get away with it again, only next time they will go further, and the time after that they will go further still.  Please do not let this incident go unnoticed and uncommented upon.

Update: Ollie has emailed to bring this link to my attention.  It seems that 162 of the arrests were in planned raids; so the additional actions in the City Center are being tied into the same effort.  It seems the police are raiding known and suspected criminals, then trying to tie those arrest numbers and crimes to the "lock-down" action in the city.

Bin Collections

The Telegraph today reports that bin collections are set to move to a fortnightly service across the country.  I am someone who is already subject to fortnightly collection and I hate it.  In the summer the smell is terrible and despite being a wheelie bin with a lid it still attracts insects and rodents; in the heat it is not uncommon to have maggots crawling all over the top.  There is no way to dress it up; when waste is allowed to fester for upto two weeks it is a health hazard. 

Recently, over the Christmas period I checked my local councils website to see when to put my bin, and my neighbour bin around by the road for collection.  Unfortunately for me, the collection team were working to their own rota and came a day early.  When my bin was not emptied on the allocated day I queried why and could not get a straight answer, but it was a whole additional week before a wagon was able to come and collect. 

Of course, nobody actually wants fortnightly collections, and nobody has voted either locally or nationally for fortnightly collections, so why is this being forced upon us?  It is not a party political issue, for a time The Conservatives were outspoken about this issue, but that was some time ago, and my council is Tory and that has done me no good. 

The reason is that it is an issue not decided by the council or by Westminster; it is as is shamefully so often the case an EU regulation passed down by our real Government in Brussels.  The fact that the Telegraph chooses not to acknowledge this in the article is testament to the hidden hand of power and the shock our establishment is still in... They still refuse to concede that we are living in an undemocratic state.

Voter turnout has in recent years fallen and fallen and may well fall again at the next General Election, despite the stakes being so high.  It is a direct result of our membership of the EU and that people instinctively know how little their votes actually affect how we live our lives.  Decisions are made in committee with the lobbyists and technocrats, submitted as law by the EU Commission, and then either rubber stamped by the EU Parliament or our own hollowed out Parliament.

Want the bins collected weekly?  Want them picked up even more frequently than that? The only way, the only way at all to make that happen is to return sovereign control of our law making to Westminster.  The best way to ensure this is to get our politicians and potential MPs to declare that they are prepared to put country before party before the General Election and take the Albion Alliance Pledge declaring they will work for a referendum on the UK's continued EU Membership.  Get them to pledge now so that they cannot back down on their word this time, and give us a referendum that we want and which our country sorely needs.

Daily Politics - Will Bercow Be Unseated?

Clearly I am a sucker for Nigel Farage videos, but this one is interesting as it is from the BBC.  They focus a little less on Farage and a little more on the possibility of the Speaker of the House being unseated in a usually uncontested seat by convention.

Farage would be an interesting MP and most people who read my blog will have seen his speeches in the EU Parliament and know that he would be someone who could draw attention back to Westminster.  I hope that Farage wins the seat, and that Mr Hannan who is also a star speaker in Brussels decides to run for Westminster also.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Friday Caption Contest

(Click for a clearer image)

Why People Hate Politicians - Part 3

Nicholas Winterton is another one who thinks he is better than the rest of us.  I have only today had chance to listen to the interview, which if I can figure out how to do, I will embed it here.

In the Interview he says there is:
A totally different type of people in standard class [trains carriages]
He continues
If I was in standard class I would not do work because people would be looking over your shoulder the entire time, there would be noise, there would be distraction.
And then
They are a totally different type of people.

There's lots of children, there's noise, there's activity. I like to have peace and quiet when I'm travelling
He also remarked that it was a
Grotesque injustice that the expenses system had been misrepresented by the media
Funnily enough he and his wife are stepping down at the next election after revelations about thier own Mortgage claims.  Perhaps then Mr Winterton can travel first class all he likes on Private Sector money.  Bye bye, you are another one who will not be missed.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Voter Confidence

Gosh, we are lucky aren't we!....  I have lifted these numbers from UK Polling Report after they did all of the work and analysed last night's You Gov Poll commissioned by the Sun.

Asked which party the statement "The kind of society it wants is broadly the kind of society I want"
Conservative 33%
Labour 29%

On Being "Led by people with real ability"
Conservatives 24%
Labour 18%

On "Prepared to take the tough and unpopular decisions"
Conservatives 27%
Labour 21%

Finally on the negative statement "It seems to chop and change all of the time, you can never be sure what it stands for"
Conservative 23%
Labour 25%

There are some more results at the other end of the link to UK Polling Report on the MP expenses scandal and on MP confidence in general.  I guess in part, poll numbers can be quite low as we are a multi-party country so outlook and allegiance is spread wider than the two main parties.  The Tories are ahead, but it's hardly Champagne time that only 24% think they are led by people with real ability or that they are considered less wishy-washy by 2% fewer people. 

A pox on all their houses indeed.  After the General Election with a new House of MPs there need to be some serious efforts to open up the system and begin to regain public trust.  I think just opening the system up so that all public expenditure can be checked by the public would bring about a big chunk of good will, even if that means more wrong-doing is exposed.  It is the system that does not work, and if people have faith that their money is not being wasted and that it can be checked up on there can be a way forward.  More of the same and public confidence will pass the point of no return.

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

Dungeekin has some shock news about a few well known Tory bloggers.

The All Seeing Eye says the AGW story keeps changing to suit those who wnat everyone to believe in it.

Dick Puddlecote reckons that every minute, a politician lies.

Mr Not A Sheep has complained to the BBC about them not updating their own tracking polls.

And finally, Man Widdicombe catches the BBC out on with their headline on the BNP.


From The Textbook

Click for a clearer image

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Inflation Numbers

This week the Governor of the Bank of England had to write to the Chancellor as Inflation surpassed the 2.0% target. The actual Inflation number given was 3.5% however this is the CPI (Consumer Price Index) number, which is the index that does not take into account the cost of housing. The CPI number thus does not take into account what most of us would consider our most important and usually highest outgoing each month. The CPI measurement is the measure set by Gordon Brown when he became Chancellor for use when setting monetary policy.

The RPI (Retail Price Index) number does take into account housing, and is still used for the setting of benefits levels, public sector pay and index-linked government debt. This number was actually 3.7% and so is higher than the CPI number and is generally more reliable for us non-economists in measuring inflation against our changes in cost of living.

The banks however are a little more sophisticated and use their own measure or RPI which excludes interest charges (RPIX). RPI alone can distort because it reflects swings in mortgage rates, and at the moment rates are being kept low by the Bank of England. The RPIX number currently stands at 4.6%, and you won't need a calculator to see that is a full 1.1% above the official CPI number.

Inflation going up was the expected side effect of the recent Quantitative Easing programme, the fear was always that Inflation may reach a level that becomes difficult to control. I speak to the effect to us people on the street as we will feel this in increased prices in the shops and in our bills. The problem is that Labour and quite likely the Conservatives are making noises about a 20% VAT rate after the General Election. This of course relates to you and me as an additional rise of the price in the shops.

To me, I think the way forward is to help people hold on to more of their hard earned money, typically this will be used to either pay down personal debt or passed on in the form of spending. Both of these actions are good, personal debt is worryingly high and consumer spending is very low and this is fuelling this slowdown. With Interest Rates low, there may not be the inclination to put the money in the bank which at this time would not really help too much. However, the danger I see is if inflation takes hold, the Bank of England may see the need to start raising interest rates, which will in turn raise the cost of variable mortgages and make borrowing tougher which in turn will leave many people with less money and in turn stifle consumer spending which is already in the doldrums.

The Governments car scrappage scheme seems to not be a greatly inspired economic scheme. Yes, there were some tax payments, but there was also a large subsidy. However, the bulk of the cash spent on the cars then made it's way off shore back to the car producing nations that have exported to us. No wonder France and Germany came out of recession months before we did. What we also need, as I repeat over and over again is to export as much as possible to places like China where they are sitting on Billions of Dollars. Bring cash into the country, and let it circulate a bit to stimulate spending. When people are spending shops and domestic manufacturers start hiring.

With my usual caution about the lack of my economic credentials I submit this as my working theory as to why we should cut taxes now to reap as much of a benefit from the QE programme as possible.

Economic Inactivity

From the Telegraph:

The number of people who are neither in work nor seeking employment reached 8.08 million in the last three months of last year, the highest on record.

In all, 21.3 per cent of working-age adults are now "economically inactive", a category that includes students, the long-term sick, unpaid carers and those who retire early.
The talking points are:
  • 5.75 million people are inactive and do not want a job, a rise of 57.9% from 2008.
  • 1.64 million are claiming some form of employment-related benefits, the highest since 1997
  • Full employment is at 21.22 million, down 37,000.  Part-timers are up 25,000 and now number 7.67 million.
  • The ONS says there are 1.04 million employees and self-employed people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job.
  • The over 65 age group has seen an increase in employment up 5.1% over the last year. In contrast the number of people aged 18-24 working fell 5.2%.
  • Public sector jobs rose over the last year by 5% to 6.09million...
  • During the same period the Private Sector lost 735,000 positions down to 22.82 million.

All of this basically means that at present one in five people of working age are not in are not employed, and quite a few that are working are working part-time because there are not enough full-time positions.  I am not sure how they qualified the "do not want a job" position, but I am still staggered at that number.  I learned this week that a former colleague who was laid off in October 2008 is still unemployed despite actively seeking work.

To me these numbers paint a grim picture of where we are as a country both economically and socially.  The shrinking private sector is being increasingly expected to support massive unemployment and public sector costs.  I maintain my belief that we need to shrink the Public Sector and stimulate the markets, ideally by increasing the money supply to stimulate the paying down of debt and an increase in consumer spending through my old and long forgotten friend, the tax cut.

As for the "economically inactive number" I applaud those who are included in that number who are studying so as to pursue a more enjoyable or more profitable career path and I also salute those who are so desperate for work they are working part-time to keep things going.  I think it fair that people with genuine disabilities should be supported if they are unable to work.  At some point someone is going to have to address that high "do not want a job" number, because we need some radical proposals that will get people out to work.  Welfare should never pay more than work and those that seek a life on the scrounge from the taxpayer should be identified and have their entitlements stopped.  These numbers are unacceptable high, I hope voters who agree will let the political parties know that is how we feel.

Managing a drastic rolling back of the State whilst trying to grow the economy will be rough but the consequences of inaction promise to be worse.

We Must Defend The Jury System

The Ministry of Justice that newly formed body split from the Home Office just a few short years ago has commissioned a report that has decreed the population too thick to comprehend what Judges are saying in trials. The report’s authors seem to bemoan the very notion that people be involved in trials.

Let me put this straight, every report commissioned in the last 13 years under this Labour Government has returned the exact observations and recommendations it was commissioned to. To my mind, this is not some independent report that has produced some startling evidence; it is the latest in a preordained coercion of attempts to lend a commission, a report or a public consultation to a predetermined action or decision. In this case, the removal of the Jury system in the United Kingdom.

The Jury System is wonderful in its conception in that a pool of one's peers are asked to come and sit in deliberation on the questions of fact as presented in a trial so as to establish, whether the facts of the case have been established beyond a reasonable doubt. A judge sits in the trial to rule on the question of law and the application of law as appropriate. If people are having difficulty understanding Judges, then I would suggest Judges be instructed to explain their instructions in lay-persons terms and allow for follow up questions so that there are fewer misunderstandings; they are after all there as the expert of the law, Juries are there to rule on the facts. What we should not do, as this report seemingly points to is the removal of Jury Trials altogether. The removal of ordinary people from political system has long been complete, let us not allow for ourselves to be removed from the criminal justice system also. There is no real evidence that shows that any 12 people are less able to comprehend the complexities of a case any better or worse than a judge who may well be educated, but only so far as where the law is concerned. Why would a 60 year old judge be expected to have a better comprehension of a complex fraud trial involving complex online transfer than say a 19 year old of average intelligence or education? Even if an individual Juror has difficulties in his or her understanding there are 11 others there listening to the same evidence and for who there must be deliberations with.  Of course Jurors don't always comprehend the law, but that is not their primary purpose!

Rule by "expert" is a longstanding leftist goal. "Experts" can detach themselves from the reality and emotion of a situation; they would instantly join our ever enlarging ruling elite. They are men with briefcases who have a professional agenda and standing to consider. A Jury is intended to be a representation of our peers, so as to see if 12 people would rule the facts to also be so. I am not saying the decision to legislate against one of our basic freeborn rights would even be put to us, but if it were we would indeed reject the notion as an amazing lack of faith in our own abilities.

We don't need less Jury's we need more. We don’t need more experts, we need less. Juries are not cheap, they are not time or cost efficient but where the justice of freeborn men and women are concerned it was never intended that our system of law be first and foremost anything other than fair.

£56m Lottery Win?

Would I be happy?
Er... YES

Would it change who I am?
Er... YES
And so what if it did - why would a person be ashamed about that?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Deniers Petition

There is a petition on the Downing Street Website that is worth a look.  Interestingly, it will not expire until after the General Election, so who knows who will be responding.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Why People Hate Politicians - Part 2


As per my earlier post, Iain Dale snatched a screenshot, and caught him redhanded.  When a few right-leaning and especially Tory bloggers have now taken issue, this particular MP has shown what he is made of, and has resorted to lying. 

This will backfire - you can't lie on the internet and get away with it forever.  It will turn up in the cache, or on another live-feed somewhere and when it does the reputation of our MPs will have been dragged even further into the gutter.  It's bad enough that an MP would equate Torys as "Scum-Scuking Pigs" but if you are going to do so, have the balls to own up to it.

Update 1: Tim Montgomorie has caught David Wright MP using a similar term before on Twitter - #Toryscum.  It seems he has form for this sort of thing!

Update 2: Iain Dale says Jonathan Sheppard has picked him up on tonights message, having retweeted the unsensored original.  The speed of honesty in the Internet age eh!

Why People Hate Politicians - The Mini Series

Pic Lifted from Iain Dale.

People are dying in Afghanistan, people are living in poverty here in this wealthy nation of ours, millions are out of work, millions of more no longer wish to work, those that do work are ignored by politicians yet exhorted by the tax office.  People have lost faith in politics and politicians with the exposure of the greedy and corrupt the nation's newest and most active past time, but David Wright MP thinks that his opponents are "scum-sucking pigs" and clearly in yet another Parliamentary recess he has nothing better to do than piss his time away and set for himself the loftiest of examples on Twitter.

David, I don't know who you are or what you have done in your political career but you are clearly one of the 646 that does not get 'it' and you are EXACTLY why people hate and distrust politicians.  I hope you lose your seat in the most humiliating and miserable fashion possible at the upcoming election and that BBC Election night run this twitter message across the screen as the results are announced.

Another Conservative U-Turn - English Votes For English Issues

Oh Dear.

A snippet:

Scottish MPs will still be able to vote on issues that affect only England under a Tory government, despite David Cameron’s vow to end the anomaly.

Members with constituencies north of the border would not be banned from voting at the crucial second and third readings of bills on English-only legislation.

The decision has angered some campaigners, who believe it is wrong that Scottish MPs can swing the outcome of crunch votes on issues that do not affect their constituents. The issue has been a running sore since 2004, when 40 Scottish MPs helped the government push through a highly controversial bill introducing university tuition fees.

Cameron has previously indicated that Scottish MPs would be banned from swinging legislation in such a way again.

David Mundell, the shadow Scottish secretary, revealed that they will be barred only from the committee and report stages of bills, in which the precise wording of new legislation is determined.

“Basically, what we’re saying is that, in the committee and report stage of the bill, the committee should be made up only of members from England, or England and Wales if that’s the jurisdiction. That’s the point at which amendments and changes come forward,” he said.
I am not surprised as I felt there was no way that we could have a two-tier MP voting system in Westminster.  It struck me as a bad policy announcement, but I never thought it would be reversed this side of an election!  Though I was angry but not surprised with Cameron for the EU vote, I am not angry this time because it did not seem to me to be a reasonable or practical solution.  Doesn't mean that others won't feel more strongly on this. 

There are only two solutions available to this problem.

1.  The EU is already pushing for this, and Labour has duly assisted.  Get rid of Westminster, and devolve to the assigned Euro regions already in play.  The Regional Assemblies are already in existence, and many of our public services are now regionalised along the same lines.

2.  Hold a UK wide vote on devolution, and let everyone have a say on whether to continue together, or separate.  If together, then the England needs its own devolution bill and its own Parliament.  If separate, then Westminster should become the English Parliament for a devolved England. 

There is another point to be made.  WTF is David Cameron doing?  He really is trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory - it's not like he was heavy on the policy in his early years as Shadow Leader, but it seems just about every Tory policy he has announced over the years is subject to revision or reversal.  With so few policies for those of us who advanced the Conservative line to use*, you would absolutely think he would at least get right the one's he announced.   Sort it out Dave! 

Or, is it time for a "We the undersigned people on the blogosphere urge David Cameron to sort it out..." style letter?

*Admittedly for me this is something I seldom do these days.

Old Mother Hubbard

If I were to owe you £100,000 you may on the surface simply be inclined to say it is my responsibility to repay as per our agreement. If however I was to owe you £100,000 and you knew that the extent of my assets could no longer stretch any further than £20,000 then you were not be proven a bit foolish for having lent that money to me, but you would have a very good reason to take an active interest in my finances, and maybe even want a say over them.

Greece is in big trouble, but so too are nations like the UK, France & Germany which have purchased bonds to help prop up the profligate Greeks. A recent €20bn issue needed a record high interest rate to attract interest, and it is now thought that another €20bn is needed to prevent a default in April/May with a total €53bn requirement this year for the Greeks to just to stand still.

Greece's GDP is 75% reliant on services, and with less than 4% is dedicated to growing and less than 21% to producing and selling exports, the Greeks are not exactly bursting with goods to sell abroad which will bring in cash. With the European financial services sector in meltdown, and the people of Europe groaning under their own public sector tax burdens, it is looking very unlikely that Greece will be able to shoulder their debt burden past 2010.

Now, I need to re-iterate as I do whenever I wander into the economic territories that I am no economist, but once again I am wondering into this arena and doing so a little bemused. We have a situation, much like with the banks whereby the debt is exceeding the potential assets available (for recovery), and instead of insisting on corective behaviour, we are again sitting still and waiting for a collapse, at which point we will all be dragged around the table and told that we have to prop things up until profitability returns, and that we will be servicing our own debt, and increasing our own liability in the meantime. It is a recipe for disaster.

In the last two decades, the worlds economics has in my humble opinion completely taken leave of its senses. Is this planet really so chocked full of idiots that they think we can run the world economy, both public and private sectors completely in defecit? Greece is in trouble because it traded it's sovereignty for the EURO, and now it cannot take the devaluing measure needed to ease it's burdens. I am sure that when the EURO was adopted they felt that there was no way the Germans and the French would let their economy flounder, I think this assumption has just been tested and the results are not encouraging.

When EU leaders met last week, like with Old Mother Hubbard they declared the cupboard to be bare. The big economies of Europe have inflated their public sectors and grown an unproductive intra-national nightmare in the EU and they have done it by borrowing and by taxing the productivity out of the markets.  Take a moments pause and you can hear the pips, squeaking.  Two to Three years ago the warning signs were there, and these governments could have made cuts to help reduce these deficits, but they failed to do so. Instead, we have taken up the last of pour lines of credit, and are at breaking point. We owe more than we can pay... so does everyone else.... and the debt bubble is about to burst.

EU Leaders can't help Greece, because we are all in the same boat, we have debts coming out of our ears.  Greece is just a little more exposed and thus ahead of the curve. The QE Programme has kept us afloat but we will feel the sore pinch of that in the next decade. Britain was able to exercise this option because it is not in the EURO, but it is not an exercise that can be repeated.  There is only one thing left to do, and it is what should have been done two years ago... The borrowing has got to stop, and the cuts need to begin. We in the UK will pay more on debt interest this year than we will on our armed forces and about half of what we spend on the NHS. It has got to stop.

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor doggie a bone,
When she got there
The cupboard was bare
So the poor little doggie had none.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

Ian Parker-Joseph invites you to get to know your new government.

Peter Wilby tells The New Stateman's readers that the Eurosceptics were right all along.

Cato says Brown is a loathsome reptile.

Guido says that £25k of tax payers cash was spent on helping teach civil servants how to avoid answering tough questions.

And finally, John Redwood thinks Greece is at the front line of the war between the markets and overspending governments.


Friday, February 12, 2010

It's Saturday Eve...

... And it is almost time to party!

From The Vault: A History Of St Valentines Day

There is no agreed story or history of how Valentines Day came about, but I came across this version a few years ago.

Valentine's Day started in ancient Rome. February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia. This was a longstanding cutom which involved a feast in honour of the heathen god.

Under the Roman Empire the lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, one of the customs of the young people was name drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted the entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.

The pastors of the early Christian Church in Rome endeavoured to do away with the pagan element in these feasts by substituting the names of saints for those of maidens. And as the Lupercalia began about the middle of February, the pastors appear to have chosen Saint Valentine's Day for the celebration of this new feast.

Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular wars. 'Claudius the Cruel' was finding it very hard to get soldiers to join his military. He became convinced that the reason was that roman men did not want to leave their wives and families. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome.

Saint Valentine was a priest at Rome at this time. He and Saint Marius aided the Christian martyrs and married couples in secret. When the authorities discovered this he was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off!

In prison, the jailers daughter was often present and tended to some of the prisoners. She and Valentine became close, and Valentine fell in love.

He was executed on the 14th day of February, about the year 270. He left a note in his cell for his new love and signed it "From your Valentine."

The custom of young men choosing maidens for valentines, or saints as patrons for the coming year, arose from the drawing ceremony. Eventually instead of drawing names, men selected a maiden and sent a message to them to indicate attraction. The line "from your Valentine" or "be my Valentine" started getting used as per Valentines original note.

Friday Caption Contest

Picture Credit: Wholly Rude

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gutless Labour

Led by a man who was too fearful to stand up the scruitiny of a leadership election, another Senior Labour Party MP has announced he is standing down at the next election bottled it .  This time, it is the man whose name has entered the English lexicon for all the wrong reasons.

At least Portillo had the stones to campaign for his party and stand on his record when he knew the end was coming... How you laughed and jeered; now you fear that you might be held to the same ridicule... pathetic.

Farewell Geoff, you will not be missed.  You utter, utter Hoon!

Blinded By The Complexity

Part of the reason the expenses scandal has been such a big story is that it is something that registers with just about everybody, not only because it was our money they were spending, but because the it is tangible evidence that MPs do not live in the same world as the rest of us. In our world we have expenses systems that would have rejected payments for duck house and bell towers that would have stuck to limits and not paid a penny more and wrong-doers would have been referred to the police, not some special review committee.

This post could just as easily be called "they just don't get it", or, "they think we’re all thick".

The BBC is reporting that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority which is being set up to replace the fees office is going to cost £6.6m in the year 2009/10 in set up costs, which is SIX TIMES the amount being chased for repayment after the Legg Review.

1. It is a contradiction to the notion of Parliamentary Supremacy that a QUANGO be set up to set rules and regulations to Parliament. Parliament is supreme; it writes the laws, for it is supposed to be at the top of the legislative food chain. Or, I should say USED to be supreme. It is a tacit confirmation of an adjustment to EU and Soviet style structure that a part of the Government be a regulatory QUANGO. 

2. It does not and will not work. The Soviet Model was corrupt; the EU can't get its accounts signed off (and is proud of that fact).

3. It is an example of how Government does not serve people's best interests that it would set up a regulatory body at Six Times the cost of its own corruption. None of the Westminster Parties is championing the case against this; Why not?

4. It is all a load of nonsense... We are, as the settled title goes... being blinded by the complexity.

All that is and ever was needed is for the police to throw into Gaol those who have already corrupted the expenses system, as these people are guilty of theft. The fees office is not above blame here either.  Not 3 MPs, 300+ of them have been asked to pay money back, many of them into costs of thousands of pounds.  This would require Parliament to submit itself to police investigation, instead of asking one of their own to do the job for them.  The New Rules then need to be agreed upon in and by a sovereign Parliament and the Fees Office responsible, entirely for ensuring erroneous payments are not made in future. Finally every receipt and every expense in a streamlined system are published on the internet for the whole world to see and scrutinise. Finally, MPs must pass a House Resolution that explicitly accepts that the Freedom of Information Act does not extend to matters of cost to the public purse. If constituents feel their MP is claiming too much, whether it is within the rules or not they then have the opportunity to question their MPs on this.

The cost of this is negligible, and it how things should have been done all along. MPs and Peers are the only people in this whole country that not only could have got away with stealing such vast sums, but have escaped en-masse from suffering punishment for their crimes.

Every day it seems there is something in the news that cost us £X millions or £X billions and people are getting dazed by it - we never vote for these things they just keeping getting paid for out of our money. None of the major parties in Westminster is standing up to this, there is a consensus on so many of these things, we only ever find out what we have paid for, we are never asked what we want to pay for.

No More. We absolutely as a people need to take back control from Government and start dictating to them what we want and when. And it starts with this election campaign. God help any candidate that knocks on my door because I am likely to tear them a new one. There is no complexity to honesty, it is the most straight forward thing in the world - it is in dishonesty that we need layers that must first be peeled away before truth is revealled.

Of course, on the day of this announcement MPs have adjourned for a two week break and will not be around Westminster to answer questions. Have they really nothing to work on that a two week break in February can be accommodated?

MPs wonder why people hold them in contempt; they should take a good long look in the mirror.