Thursday, 31 January 2008

A story of Peat Bogs and Heather

When I heard that 'Scientists' had put Heather on top of Peat Boggs, it immediately summoned risqué visions a la ‘Carry on up the Peak District’, Or a worthy ‘joy of love’ sex manual - One hopes they are at least good friends, etc.

Well - I say! We’re measuring the emissions Misses…

More prosaically it seems the intent is to restore the balance of the Peak District bogs, by growing live heather on them, to prevent erosion and possible resultant carbon dioxide emissions.

What next? Gagging MPs? There is a source of carbon dioxide emissions if ever there was one ;-)

British MPs may be banned from employing family members.

In the wake of the Derek Conway affair there are calls for MPs to be banned from employing family members.

Whilst many of us have little time for MPs in general it seems a little OTT to ban them from employing family members. Who they employ should just be more transparent and accountable. There should be some check that the work is actually carried out and the pay reasonable for it.

It has not been unknown for an MP to marry their secretary. Are they to be forced to sack them if they do and would that not contravene their rights?

There are other family businesses that work well enough and no one questions at all. The problem here is that public money is involved. Still we allow MPs to set their own wages and hours. To some extent this is as open to abuse as the employing of family members.

Surely a member of an MP’s family who was actually doing what they were paid for, at a fare rate, would be more likely to have the MP’s interests at heart, be more loyal, trustworthy and discreet, far less open to being turned by a reporter.

Maybe parliament should have something like (dare I say it), an HR department, to oversee the employment contracts, wages, expenses and hours - to keep things more honest and above-board on a more formal basis.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Quote of the day

" If you tell a lie big enough - and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie.

It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie - and thus, by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

Joseph Goebbels

New Labour claim to be close to hitting MRSA targets

In 2004, the Health Secretary at the time, John Reid, set a target of slashing MRSA rates in half by March 2008, though the exact details were never exactly defined beyond the sound-bite level. Only last year the Department of Health felt this, even as ill defined as it was, was unattainable, according to a leaked memo.

Now it seems the Government are briefing the BBC that it will consider the infections target met if there are 963 cases, or less in the quarter April to June 2008.

There is more than one way to use statistics.

Recorded honestly they are like looking in the mirror when you get ready in the morning. They give you accurate feedback, allowing you to see if your hair is sticking up, or not - and allowing you to either ensure it is, or brush it down, depending on your taste.

Then there is the ’lies, damned lies and statistics’ way, so beloved of the State and developed to previously unheard of levels of sophistication under New Labour - where they fiddle what is measured and how it is measured, in order to bamboozle the voters into the impression that the Government have actually accomplished something.

This method will generally not work in industry when analysing sales (except occasionally at shareholder meetings - but not often, as shareholders tend to pay attention and remember as it is their money at risk), as it persistently results in disastrous decisions and the company in question going bust.

In the case of the State/public sector however, the positives generally outweigh the negatives - The reward for conning the voters is re-election, or advancement. Any losses can always be made up in increased taxation.

This might not necessarily be so if the Government were actually honourable ;-) or genuinely identified themselves with the citizen. If more of them were of ‘us’ instead of ‘them’, or if actually achieving something were more important than only appearing to do so, say because of an unavoidable reality check.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Is anyone listening to us?

Have you ever heard of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000? Have you any idea what it actually results in - in practice?

It means that in the UK A total of 653 state bodies have the power to intercept private communications – private communications including your’s.

This includes 474 Councils who only require a senior council officer to authorise the surveillance.

Many might regard this as sinister enough - and largely unnecessary given that wiretap evidence is not actually admissible in court.

The problem is these wanna-be big brothers are often unaccountable civil servants, absolutely renowned for their ability and competence ;-) You - know, the sort Government Ministers like to use as scapegoats.

In a nine month period, the Communications Commissioner, has found that 122 local authorities sought to obtain people's private communications, in more than 1,600 cases.

Scarily and possibly predictably, it turns out over 1,000 of all the bugging operations measured in that same period were flawed. Including instances where the phones of innocent people who had nothing to do with them were tapped by mistake.

So next time you pick up the phone keep in mind - If you phone someone who works in the same building as a suspected fly tipper then you may be being bugged by a council clerk. Even if you are just phoning a friend you may be being bugged, by mistake, by a council clerk.

Careful what you say…

Quote of the day

” The obscure we see eventually. The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer.”

Edward R. Murrow

Experts fail to spot boy's deafness caused by 'cotton bud'

When he was two years old Jerome Bartens was diagnosed as deaf in his right ear.

Now after nine years and Drs and specialists who believed it was wax and he might ‘grow out of it’, it turns out to have been caused by the tip of a cotton bud he stuck in there as a toddler. It popped out whilst playing with friends.

Apparently he has struggled with lessons his whole school career because of this.

Belief is all very well and good. It is highly thought of in religious circles. But when it is possible to test something empirically surely reliance on pure belief is not necessarily, as they say, ‘best practice’.

Every Dr’s surgery I have ever been in has the equipment to look in your ear.

Why on earth didn’t someone out of all the Drs and Specialists who saw him think to actually look?

Monday, 28 January 2008

Quote of the day

” Losers make promises they often break. Winners make commitments they always keep.”

Denis Waitley

Is the UK’s Welfare State actually still functional?

What is the point of the National Health Service (NHS) and social care under the ‘Welfare State’ if many of us will apparently be effectively barred from making use of it - whilst still being required to pay through the nose for it, under ever increasing levels of taxation?

If New Labour intend to exclude large numbers of the public from enjoying the dubious benefits of the ‘welfare’ state - and it seems it is in a ‘state’ ;-) for ideological, or moralistic, reasons. Then those affected should be allowed get their money back and opt out, to allow them to be able to make other arrangements.

It is expected that a report to be published tomorrow (Tuesday), will confirm that drastic tightening of rules over which elderly people qualify for state-funded care in their own homes is leaving hundreds of thousands bereft of help and in dire straits.

Lack of funding is being blamed for many councils only supporting the seriously ill or incapacitated. In some cases, pensioners are having to sell their homes to help pay for private care, or beg their families for money.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) thinks the problems are likely get worse.

The Audit Commission has been instructed to produce produced a report ‘backed’ by New Labour Ministers. It demands councils should "make better use of charging" for services, including home care, rubbish collection and parking. This includes removing caps on charges for home helps and other services for the elderly who have managed to save for their old age.

The intention is to force people who have paid their share of local tax and National Insurance over the years, but can manage to find the money themselves somehow, to switch over to private care companies.

The Commission say: "In making council home care services less competitive by removing the weekly maximum charge, some councils have sought to encourage their most affluent service users to purchase services from other providers, freeing up council resources."

Strangely, this is the exact reverse of the argument deployed by New Labour against Grammar schools and Independent schools.

Now, according to a survey conducted by Doctor magazine, Doctors want to withhold NHS treatment from patients they judge are too old, or who lead unhealthy lives.

They want to bar; Smokers, drinkers, the obese, elderly and those seeking "social" abortions from receiving some treatments/operations.

They say the NHS can’t afford to provide free care to everyone. About one in 10 hospitals already deny some surgery to obese patients and smokers, with restrictions more often found at hospitals unable to manage their debt.

Advocates of refusing treatment argue that £1.7 billion a year is spent treating diseases caused by smoking, such as lung cancer and emphysema and this drains money away from treatment from the more deserving.

They conveniently fail to mention that non-smokers, who have never recklessly exposed themselves to so-called passive smoking, can also suffer from these illnesses.

There is something else they don’t mention when attempting to justify their views. It applies equally well to alcohol as tobacco.

In 2005-06 the excise duty raised on tobacco was £8 billion, The VAT charged on, the cost of Tobacco, plus the excise duty paid on it, was £1.9 billion. So that year the State milked the British Smoker to the tune of around £10 billion pound. Tax on tobacco products has risen since then.

This leaves aside their actual contribution to the NHS.

If New Labour are only spending £1.7 billion on smokers alone then that leaves them £8.1 billion in pocket – New Labour are making a tidy profit out of smokers.

There may be some extra temporary costs associated with sickness/disability payments but this is more than compensated for by smokers reduction in life span and the reduced pension payouts that follow. According to the Dr’s logic Smokers are paying the State for pensions they may never get to collect in full.

The Economic argument for with holding treatment does not hold water. Economically it would almost certainly actually pay the State to encourage smoking, so the underlying moralistic health fascism is exposed.

This is more evident still in the evident desire to punish women who fall pregnant by accident and produce another generation of state clients. Again the economics are clear. The cost of an early abortion is as nothing to that of child benefit and a single mother on benefits.

Finally where is the line in all this? What are the limits to what our self appointed masters and moral guardians will impose upon us? What other forms of behaviour they disapprove of? Who else will they refuse to treat? There is something deeply disturbing about this attitude.

It seems we are all in danger of having services we have paid for and rightly expected to benefit from randomly and arbitrarily withdrawn when we are most in need of them. Especially if we have committed the crime of being prudent, or enjoy a glass or two of wine – and whatever happened to the health benefits of wine we were told about?

If we can no longer expect to receive the services we are entitled to, because we have paid through the nose for them, then surely it is unreasonable for the State to expect us to continue to pay for them, effectively having to pay for them twice - and unwise of us to continue to do so?

If they can’t deliver they should get out of the business and leave it to those who will honour a contract and actually can deliver.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Quote of the day

” When a man who is honestly mistaken hears the truth, he will either quit being mistaken, or cease to be honest.”


Hain finally resigns

Well Hain has finally resigned. It might even have redeemed him somewhat - if he hadn’t been desperately hanging on so far past what was reasonable, or honourable.

What has really done for him is this business of ‘anonymising’ donations through a so-called ‘think tank’. Moreover some of the original donors might well be regarded as foreign businessmen.

Gordon Brown cannot have helped to have been, at least as aware of the details of the matter as anyone else, (he only had to read the Guardian) who cared to check the facts for themselves - surely he has well paid researchers to do that for him, even if he is apparently as incompetent at that as well.

His minions seem to be trying to talk this up as loyalty on his part. Frome here it looks more like another instance of distinct lack of bottle, this time in the ‘do the right thing’ or even ‘do the necessary thing’ department.

If he had acted with more alacrity when the moment required it he would have come out of this looking better. As it is there can be no doubt he must have known the situation was dodgy but would not address the matter.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Quote of the Day

” The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing .”

Jean Baptiste Colbert

” Taxation is just a sophisticated way of demanding money with menaces .”

Terry Pratchett

UK Local Tax Hiked above inflation yet again

Council Tax bills have been on the rise, consistently and generally above inflation for years.

This year they are expected to rise by around 4% with some nearly as high as 5%.

There is always much acrimony between local politicians claiming that central government are; reducing the contribution they make to local funds fro taxpayer’s money and in many cases drafting, or rubberstamping, EU legislation that increases their costs.

The State meanwhile always mutters darkly of capping local expenditure and complains there is no excuse for ‘excessive’ Council tax Hikes.

Personally I have noticed absolutely zero improvement in the services I receive. In fact it is arguable they have actually deteriorated, especially rubbish collection.

Whatever – They are all politicians. I noticed when the poll tax was introduced quite a few local authorities took the opportunity to hit local residents in the pocket with a big hike they would have taken stick in local elections for otherwise and blamed Central Government and Margaret Thatcher.

Well they can’t conveniently blame Maggie now.

The fact is that we are paying more and more tax and it is rising by well above inflation. It may be that Central Government’s the inflation figures are effectively lies, the ‘basket’ being carefully tweaked by New Labour.

Never the less - someone is responsible… Where is the money going?

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Schedule introducing UK ID cards delayed

It is interesting to note that New Labour are planning to introduce the National ID card incrementally.

This seems to be one of their favourite ‘stealth’ methods. Apparently they are putting back the date where larger numbers of us will be forced to get them from 2010, until 2012 now.

They know it is un popular, and there is some resistance, so they are buying themselves an extra two years, in the hope attention fatigue will set in.

The technique, one they are fond of, is to introduce unpopular measures in small relatively imperceptible doses. First they Identify a relatively small group to apply whatever they are planning to. A group that does not include the majority of citizens and who preferably will not have the majority of the public’s particular sympathy.

In the case of HIPs it was houses with four bedrooms or over. “The Wealthy”, “Rich Toffs” – a classic hate group and target.

They are careful to avoid stirring people up by ensuring that even of the groups targeted only relatively small percentage are actually directly affected at any time. In this case those actually considering selling their homes.

Then they wait a while and take in another chunk of the population (say owners of three bedroom properties), repeating as necessary until they have everyone.

They are always careful to avoid stirring too much of the population up at once, in case it allows resistance to build to the point where the lethargic UK population will actually protest in significant numbers.

In the case of ID cards it will apparently be “Foreigners”, “Bogus Asylum Seekers”, “Economic Migrants”. They have chosen to target first. Currently they are to be targeted this year.

See if you can spot this technique being used elsewhere....

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

EU Constitution/’Lisbon Treaty’ passes first UK Parliamentary hurdle

It seems that some 362 MPs are willing to betray both Parliament and the British Public.

It is now beyond any doubt and widely acknowledged, that the so called ‘Lisbon Treaty’ is effectively identical to the rejected European Constitution, there being ”no material difference” between the two..

In fact if the similarity of the ‘treaty’, to the constitution, were the climate debate then Gordon Brown and David Milliband would be the only ‘deniers’ left in a sea of consensus. Of course no one actually imagines they seriously imagine that it is not identical, that they are really deniers – but it does rhyme with deniers.

European Union (Amendment) Bill, New Labour’s cynical rubber stamping of the Constitution Lisbon Treaty has cleared it’s first hurdle and 362 MPs supported Mr Brown’s disingenuous line necessary to provide him and New Labour with the pathetic fig leaf to cover their reneging on the promise of a referendum that new labour were elected on.

A few New labour MPs have the decency, even honour, to resist, but one fears - far too few.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Sharia Law comes to the UK

Delhi born Dr/Shaikh Suhaib Hasan has set himself up in his own little Sharia court in a converted corner shop in Leyton, North East London.

At the moment this has all the legality of a TV show ‘court’ where participants are technically only bound in as far as they agree to be bound. Though it is perhaps much more than just that to a Moslem, embedded in largely exclusively Moslem community, who has no English.

Dr Hassan is the General Secretary of the Islamic Sharia Council and bills himself as a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain.

He is keen to share the benefits of Sharia Law, on an official and legal basis, with the rest of us. He is convinced it can turn the HK into a “haven of peace”.

In fact he, in a documentary, currently scheduled to be screened on Channel 4 next month, entitled ‘Divorce: Sharia Style’, Dr Hasan reveals ‘just where he is coming from’, as they say. He revealingly comments:

"Once, just only once, if an adulterer is stoned nobody is going to commit this crime at all.”

"We want to offer it [Sharia Law] to the British society. If they accept it, it is for their good and if they don't accept it they'll need more and more prisons."

I think the good Dr’s Freudian slip is showing here - As far as I am aware adultery is not a crime in the UK, there is certainly no penalty, apart from the possibility of divorce, for it.

I am sure he is correct in that the realistic prospect of being stoned to death would discourage it, against the law or not, that’ll do it for you most every time.

One wonders what else that the good Dr disproves of, that is not against the law we can consider stoning people to death for?

How the man can seriously suggest such a thing without realising it brands him as a fascist is beyond me.

The Muslim Council of Britain is usually held up by the ‘great and the good’, as an exemplar of ‘moderate’ Islamic opinion. This man is their Sharia spokesman.

If this is moderate it can only be so by comparison to something incomparably worse. If this is moderate maybe we need to redefine the meaning of ‘moderate’.

Oh! - Looks like we did already…

Quote of the day

" Politics must be the battle of the principles... the principle of liberty against the principle of force.”

Auberon Herbert

New Labour want to impose random breath tests

It seems New Labour now want to give the police powers to be able to breath test drivers on a whim and institute mass roadside checkpoints.

They appear to base this on their normal inability to understand the implications of their own skewed statistics combined with their tendency towards an authoritarian solution to anything they perceive as a ‘problem’.

It seems they are attempting to justify this with their Christmas Drink driving states. They show that the number of drink drivers stopped dropped despite a recorded increase in the number of tests (that police are measured on).

During the 1980s the number of people killed and seriously injured in drink-drive collisions in Great Britain fell from over 9000 (1,450 deaths, 7,970 serious injuries) to just less than 5,000 (760 deaths, 4,090 serious injuries).

Over the last decade or so, figures have fluctuated year on year, but overall there has been no particular trend up or down.

It is questionable if even massively increasing the number of breath tests will make a significant difference.

If the government actually wanted to reduce drink driving, as opposed to extending it's grip on the citizen, it might be better advised to reprise the hard hitting anti drink drive campaigns of the 80s and early 90s and helped make drink driving unacceptable. But this time include drugs in the message. From the figures it appears that actually worked quite effectively.

Our current system seems to have served us well over the decades, but New Labour never heard of leaving anything that works alone - and by their actions one could be forgiven for assuming they are embarked of a long term plan to undermine public trust in the police in an attempt to turn them into an occup

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Quote of the day

" Law is often but the tyrant's will - and always so when it violates the right of an individual."

Thomas Jefferson

EU threat to Britons right to trial

I had always been under the impression that, in Britain, an accused person should have their day in court to defend themselves - That we don’t hold trials and convict people in their absence.

I know it is inconvenient and spoils government figures - rather like that old fashioned, un-dynamic, not new or forward looking, idea of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Rather than the reverse, so beloved of many other (no doubt dynamic and forward thinking) European nations, or the right to remain silent.

So it is a little disturbing to find that there is a meeting of EU Justice ministers planned for next week, where the Attorney General is apparently planning to do a ‘Gordon Brown’ and rubber stamp measures that could change all that boring old fashioned stuff about having your day in court.

Patricia Scotland QC (Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Attorney General) is planning to rubber stamp the extradition of British nationals, who have been convicted in absentia, for imprisonment in European jails.

Also included is a planned hand-over of "a wide range of personal data". Won’t that be so much more effective once the government imposes it’s ID card system on us and they have even more personal data to give away?

So imagine for a moment you have had a fortnights holiday in Spain. Unbeknown to you, you are somehow implicated in an offence. They can’t find you when they get round to wanting to speak to you and you are back in the UK. They can’t immediately trace you. You get convicted in your absence…

The first thing you know is when you are arrested for extradition to start your sentence in a Spanish jail.

Any sane citizen should be concerned that Government ministers are continuing with their bad habit of blithely signing away yet more British rights.

Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis said: "Now there is a real risk that British citizens will be abandoned to face European punishments without trial,"

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Quote of the day

” A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.”

Thomas Jefferson

New Labour, New Threat - to Independant Schools

It seems that New Labour would like to be seen as heroically championing the downtrodden poor by forcing the wicked Independant Schools to provide places for poor people, to stop them being run as "exclusive clubs".

Hold on – Rewind! Many of the Independant schools were once Direct Grant Grammar Schools, providing places to anyone who merited them, those who could not afford to go were subsidised by the local authorities.

It was actually old Labour that put a stop to that on ideological grounds by abolishing direct grant schools. God forbid anyone might aspire to anything other than mediocrity under Labour.

The Conservatives later brought in the assisted places scheme to allow poorer pupils to attend them. Abolishing that scheme was one of New Labour’s top priorities on assuming office. God forbid anyone… etc. … under New Labour.

In an effort to ensure poorer pupils could still attend them the Independant Schools developed a scheme of sponsored bursaries. Clearly Independant schools do not particularly want to be exclusive. They actually want to be able to take in children who cant afford to pay the fees - that in many cases the schools were forced to charge by Labour, or go out of business.

It would in fact appear to be Labour and it’s FascistLite successor, New Labour, that have deliberately and consistently, over decades, excluded children from poorer homes from these schools.

But why have New Labour got a particular bee in their bonnet about it now, with all their talk of removing charitable status and unannounced inspections It might be more honest to provide their inspectors with natty leather uniforms and insignias. ;-) and complaints the poor are missing out?

Well clearly New Labour have actually engineered the ‘poor missing out bit themselves’, presumably largely for fossilised ideological reasons. One would like to hope it was unintended. But why now?

Well New Labour’s problem is the fact that they are incapable of providing an educational system fit for purpose, as they say. No one rational could seriously believe that state education is actually even adequate. It is failing pupils of all abilities and backgrounds.

The existence of the Independant Schools (Like Grammar Schools) and the desperation of parents who can only afford them by sacrificing virtually everything else is an indictment on the State and the state educational system - Not because of what they are but what the state schools are not.

If the state system were any use parents would not be so desperate for their children to attend them in such numbers - If the state system were any use New Labour Government ministers would not ensure their own children attended them in such numbers…

Independant Schools wouldn’t matter much at all if the State provided what these schools provide - a decent education.

The State would have out competed them, it is effectively an educational cartel all on it's own and they would have withered to a niche market. That they exist at all, despite New-Labour’s Herculean efforts to the contrary, is testament to New Labour’s utter incapability.

Imagine if BTs competitors got the sort of stick that the Independant Schools come in for. There would be an outcry.

So there is one answer. They attack the Independant Schools because they show up what can be done and just how bad the state system is. Otherwise the State could argue that it was not possible to provide and education to that standard in this modern age and people couldn’t point to these schools and put the lie to it.

But there is another reason. New Labour are desperate to distract from the continuous chain of PR disasters resulting from their apparently endemic incompetence and dishonesty (some of the currently prominent in that string being Northern Rock and Peter Hain), that is providing a metaphorical tower of political ash and pumice in the sky over them - like some latter day political Pompeii.

Gordon Brown has been firing off a few contentious salvos of late, such as his plan to harvest organs without actual permission.

This is primarily to distract the citizens and to persuade the more gullible that New Labour actually give a damn about providing the opportunity for the poor to actually benefit themselves - instead of remaining state clients from cradle to organ harvest - and we know that is not so.

Monday, 14 January 2008

UK PM says Hain’s fate is out of his hands

Permier Gordon Brown has said of Work and Pensions and Welsh Secretary Peter Hain’s ‘poor administration ’ of the donations for his deputy leadership bid "He took his eye off the ball and he has apologised. The matter must rest with the authorities, who will look at these matters,"

Now Shadow Chancellor George Osborne is being counter attacked with a claim he did not declare £487,000 of donations.

As soon as you look at the details of the attack on Osborne it is quite clearly what amounts to a bogus attack. The money was in fact declared in good time when it was donated to the Conservative Party. George Osbourne just didn’t declare that he had received it from the party a second time in the Register of Members' Interests, apparently after checking with the party weather he should or not and being advised by their experts that he didn’t need to. There is a clear paper trail, so why the fuss.

Presumably as a cynical, but partly successful, red herring to take heat off Hain.

Now, regarding Hain, I must admit, at first sight, it did look like a cock up rather than anything more sinister.

That is until you look at the donors. One of them was an organisation called the Progressive Policies Forum (PPF) that appears to have channelled more than £50,000 to Mr Hain.

It was created 3 months after Hain announced he was running for New Labour’s deputy leadership as a limited company. The sole director is a solicitor and it has never filed any accounts with companies House. A key figure in Hain’s campaign, John Underwood, a former Labour communications director, is thought to be strongly associated with the PPF.

So we have a limited company that appears to have done nothing and have no reason for existence, except as a proxy to funnel money to Peter Hain.

Where did this cash the PPF ‘donated’ actually originate? Apparently from people like Rumanian born diamond dealer, Willie Nagel. Coincidentally it seems he had previously been approached by Underwood for cash - but had said he would not contribute unless it was kept private.

Then there was Isaac Kaye, ex South African, now with Irish citizenship, an ex supporter of South Africa's Afrikaner-led National Party, who’s company has been raided by the police.

This begins to look rather familiar. In fact it looks a lot like another try at the same trick of concealing the identities of the real donors.

One that resulted in the New Labour donations scandle that Gordon brown admitted had been illegal. That was over a ‘laundered’ donation from David Abrahams and forced the resignation of New Labour's General Secretary, Peter Watt.

New Labour set these rules up. Why set them up in the first place only to try to circumvent them. Were the rules ill thought out? They made their bed now they lie in it ;-)

So it is clearly not a case of just being a bit late in declaring his donations. He still has John Underwood to throw to the wolves if need be, but if It was illegal enough for Abrahams to take the bullet then it should be illegal enough for Hain to do likewise.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Quote of the day

" The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God - and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence."

John Adams

Gordon Brown to push for transplant organ harvesting without explicit consent

The matter of presumed consent over organ ‘donation’ will probably see some considerable posting onthe net and I have seen a couple of good posts already. Never-the-less it seems Gordon Brown has now shown his true colours and inclinations at last, in a wider sense, over the matter.

In his own words Gordon Brown is throwing his weight behind a presumed consent form of organ ‘donation’ where unless the ‘donor’ registers an objection then their organs may be ‘harvested’, or more correctly, requisitioned by the state.

Personally it would make me just a little uncomfortable if I felt those who had charge of my medical care, when I was most vulnerable, were not just working for my best interest - but were also scouting for potential organs and might view me as a valuable resource in that respect.

God forbid they have targets or we might be in danger of seeing something similar to the sudden increase in young babies being taken into care when adoption targets were set for social services.

It conjures up a cartoon image of a starving man on a desert island looking at his companion and seeing a roast dinner instead.

No one can help but feel for those who are in need of a replacement for a failing organ It is an emotive issue and such a scheme would undoubtedly increase the supply of organs. There again so would re introducing the death penalty for murder and then harvesting the organs that become available as a result.

Just because it might solve the problem does not necessarily make it desirable, right or acceptable. Efforts to find other solutions have not really been pushed properly.

Patients’ groups have indicated they are "totally opposed" to the idea because it would take away patients' rights over their own bodies.

Joyce Robin of Patient Concern said "They call it presumed consent, but it is no consent at all," "They are relying on inertia and ignorance to get the results that they want."

She pointed out that the Government had made very little effort to persuade people to register as donors. "Where is the big media campaign, where are the leaflets? Why, when I go to see my GP, doesn't he ask me about organ donation? These are the things they should be doing - not taking away our right to decide what happens to our bodies."

John Locke said: ”Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.”

Not according to Gordon Brown it seems - The fact that he is apparently willing to support such a scheme says a lot about the way he thinks.

In a way it is another for of taxation - to be paid in flesh.

He clearly believes that the state, though he would no doubt wish to euphemistically couch it in terms of ‘society’, or even that much abused term ‘the community’, has a greater right to an individual’s private property than the actual owner. Especially when said owner is unable to express an opinion, be that property bricks and mortar, cash or their own person.

What next? Once the state has established the precedence in having a proprietorial interest over the individual’s own body, regardless of their personal wishes? Will it then be happy to permit you to fail to maximise it’s effectiveness by not taking enough exercise, or for you to damage it by over eating, or drinking any alcohol?

That might make the organs less likely to be of use and you to be an unreasonable drain on the NHS taking precious resources that could be used on something more sociably useful such as another manager.

To presume consent is to take without consent and to presume the right to do so.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Quote of the day

” Industrial progress, mechanical improvement, all of the great wonders of the modern era have meant relatively little to the wealthy.

The rich in Ancient Greece would have benefitted hardly at all from modern plumbing : running servants replaced running water. Television and radio? The Patricians of Rome could enjoy the leading musicians and actors in their home, could have the leading actors as domestic retainers. Ready-to-wear clothing, supermarkets - all these and many other modern developments woul have added little to their life.

The great achievements of Western Capitalism have redounded primarily to the benefit of the ordinary person. These achievements have made available to the masses conveniences and amenities that were previously the exclusive perogative of the rich and powerful.”

Milton Friedman

Indian car giant Tata launch a one Lakh ‘people’s car’

And Talking of environ-Mental-ists…

The Indian car manufacturer Tata have developed what is billed as the world’s cheapest car. £1,290, brand new all in. They are dubbing it the ‘People’s Car’ - or should that be a Volks Wagan? ;-)

It is small, cheap to make and has a tiny engine so it will be cheap to run. I caught the announcement on Sky News last night.

Much of the story was taken up with environ-Mental-ists bleating about what a disaster it was.

Now if it had been released in the US, or Europe, it would have been hailed as environmentally sound, low emission etc. Just the sort of thing that would be encouraged with low vehicle tax in the UK. But because it was in India and it’s price might allow Indians to actually buy it - well that was bad.

Their attitude struck me as dangerously paternalistic and unpleasantly patrician - in it’s best light.

The presenter pointed out that it would hardly be any worse than a motor bike and there were huge numbers of those in India. But the talking head seemed to think people who didn’t have a bike might buy one and increase pollution. They also suggested that oil reserves were running out and seemed to imply, in a self satisfied tone, that this would hasten it.

After some more discussion the presenter suggested that surely market forces would address the issues raised and the talking head was clearly aghast suggesting that market forces were the ‘last thing’ it should be left to.

This just about sums these people up Authoritarian, Paternalistic patricians who feel they should be in charge because they are the chosen ones who have the holy word direct from Gaia. Who think nothing of flying off to a conference in Bali, but criticise the ordinary people for wanting to have a holiday, or improve their lives.

One gets the impression they would just love a resource limited Malthusian world where they were the privileged overlords who could enjoy the benefits of modern society whilst the vast but diminishing bulk of humanity lived short, dirty, environmentally non impactive lives in mud huts.

UK Government Gives the go-ahead to a new generation of nuclear power stations.

I have been mean to Gordon Brown and New-Labour of late, highlighting bad stuff – but finally, something that makes sense! The Government are to give the go-ahead to a new generation of nuclear power stations.

I suggested that if they were actually serious about reducing carbon emissions they should stop playing around, get serious - and commit to a comprehensive nuclear generation program. It seems they have done just that and I applaud them for it.

Now they should estimate what it will take to cover all the countries power needs and cover it by at least half as much again.

Hopefully the state will interfere as little as possible, apart from encouraging it and setting up a sensible framework for it to operate within that does not stifle.

In the future we should be looking to encourage the development of technologies that can power cars and air travel with hydrogen that could be cracked from seawater by Nuclear, or renewable power.

If James Lovelock supports it then the environ-Mental-ists should ease up with their anti lobbying and consider how much cake they can keep if they want to eat it too.

Unfortunately Government is a bit like that advert where they joke that there is a clever/dumb balance and for every clever thing there has to be a corresponding opposite.

So I am now waiting for them to balance things up with something stupid ;-)

Of course if that were really true we would be seeing much more clever things happening to balance up all the stupid things they have done already ;-)

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Quote of the day

” Wise men profit more from fools than fools from wise men; for the wise men shun the mistakes of fools, but fools do not imitate the successes of the wise.”

Cato the Elder (234 BC - 149 BC)

Darling wanted to be seen as tough on something - but he mistakenly picked tax fuelled energy price rises

I feel a case of déjà vu coming on…

It seems Gordon Brown’s Darling glove puppet Chancellor desperately wanted to engineer some ‘tough’ sound bite publicity, presumably to counter his less than 'tough, decisive, or even competent' image built up by his failures and ill fortune in the real world.

After Rises in Wholesale gas prices prompted the energy company Npower to announce price increases last week in the order of 17.2% for gas and 12.7% for electricity, increasing typical bills by £95 for gas and £64 for electricity, he seized on it.

The Chancellor, in an effort to glean some much needed positive publicity and portray himself as the citizen’s champion summoned Alistair Buchenan, of the energy watchdog (OFFGEM) for a meeting of Alistairs about soaring power bills.

A bit short in the joined up thinking department he unfortunately appeared to fail to take into account the treasury contribution to these headline increases.

Half of them, all told, allowing for three main green taxes - including a ‘green levy’ imposed under the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) emissions trading scheme. Oh - and not forgetting VAT.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Quote of the day

" New-Labour " Dictatorship is a constant lecture instructing you that your feelings, your thoughts and desires are of no account, that you are a nobody and must live as you are told by other people who desire and think for you”

Stephen Vizinczey

Brown would like to be seen as tough on something - so he picked drugs

It seems Gordon Brown desperately wants to engineer some ‘tough’ sound bite publicity, presumably to counter his less than 'tough and decisive' image built up by his failure in the real world.

He wants to show a tougher line on drugs and is planning to reclassify cannabis as a class B drug – so anyone caught with it could face five years pokey and unlimited fines.

He ordered a review by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and let it be known he wanted a toughening of the drugs laws.

So effectively the review is window dressing.

He has ‘let it be known’ what result he expects the review to provide - but Whitehall sources have confirmed that even if the Advisory Council's study does not support him, he is likely to order Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, to override the recommendation and go ahead with reclassification to class B anyway.

Excellent Government and science that, why bother with any actual facts, or evidence, just do what you want anyway.

So why waste the undoubtedly large sums of taxpaying citizens cash on it if the result is only window dressing? Clearly his stance is fuelled entirely by a desire to improve his image politically and control the citizenry, rather by what might be for the best, what might work, the big picture, or ever allowing individual choice.

Brown betrays his dictatorial nature yet again.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Food served in edible bowls

Just to prove there is nothing new under the sun, Butt Foods, a Birmingham based food firm has started making bowls and plates out of dough - and why not the concept has been tried and tested by history. This is and entrepreneurial recycling and updating of the idea.

It may save on washing up and is more environmentally friendly than paper plates.

The company is already supplying a chain of pubs with prawn cocktail-filled bread bowls and says that later this year a leading supermarket is planning to sell its microwavable naan bowl filled with chicken tikka masala.

The bowls can apparently hold their shape for eight hours without going soggy.

The technical term for such a thing would be trencher.

In medieval times trenchers were plates cut from (dried or stale) loaves of bread. Food and such were served on them. People ate off them.

At banquets used trenchers, soaked in rich gravy and sauces with food remains were presented to the poor, or thrown to the dogs.

You can still get dry‘village bread’ in Greece with tomato and feta served on it, though the whole thing is usually on a plate. The Cornish pasty originally embodied a similar but more mobile lunch box type concept.

Healthy living promotes a longer life

Research done by the University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council in Norfolk between 1993 and 2006 involving 20,000 people has revealed the startling information that:

Taking exercise, drinking in moderation, eating enough fruit and vegetables and not smoking can add up to 14 years to your life.

This held true regardless of how overweight, or poor people were.

To paraphrase John Cleese - Can we get them on Mastermind? Next contestant, University of Cambridge and the Medical Research Council, specialist subject: The bleedin' obvious.

How much did this study cost?

My mother was telling me exactly that in the seventies (except for the exact figure of 14 years) I very much doubt she was the only one - maybe they should have paid her and had the benefit of the information 30 years earlier?

Come to think of it, if they had asked, she would have happily advised them for free, better to have asked me - after she had told me...

Monday, 7 January 2008

Quote of the day

” You say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak?

What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think.

Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it?

Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools?

By the able at the expense of the incompetent?

By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy?

Money is made - before it can be looted, or mooched - made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced.”

Ayn Rand (1905 - 1982)

PM’s “Brown Bottom” exposed

The other day Gordon Brown said to Andrew Marr on the BBC: "Events come and they go. The question is... are you making the right long-term decisions for the country?"

I wonder if old “right long-term decision” man is aware that Gold is at a very long term high right now at $850 an ounce and gold stocks are making new highs?

In 1999 the Gold price was stagnant. Despite being warned that gold prices moved in decades long cycles Gordon Brown, for some insane reason, decided to sell off half the UK’s gold stocks .

He clearly knew it would not meet with universal approval, as he tried to bury the news by timing the release for a Friday afternoon, when most MPs were away from Westminster and news coverage was dominated by the outcome of the elections for the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and English local councils.

He was probably dancing to the tune of the he European Central Bank, which administered the euro - in the hope of joining the euro. The bank had been encouraging countries in the single currency to sell off some of their huge gold reserves, believing gold to be ’a bad investment’ and Gordon viewed it as a ‘barbarous relic’.

Not content with just making an ill advised sale of our gold he decided to dump it by auction, thus telegraphing the sales and helping depress the price and reduce what he could hope to get for it further – clearly demonstrating a lack of a real understanding of the gold market.

Gordon idiotically dumped the gold at a 20-year low in the market - now derisively known as the “Brown Bottom” by dealers.

The 17 auctions only achieved prices for the gold of between $256 and $296 an ounce, with an average of $275. It handed the professionals the opportunity on a platter to boot down the market and then scoop up the gold cheap at the auctions.

New Labour couldn’t even be straight when they told parliament. The government really intended to sell over than half the country’s gold before 2002- 400 tons, but Patricia Hewitt misleadingly claimed in parliament that:

“The Treasury intends to sell 125 tons of gold, 3% of the total reserves, during 1999-2000, with the Bank of England conducting five auctions on the Treasury’s behalf. Auctions will be held every other month starting in July.”

Since then the price of gold has increased massively. The loss to the taxpayer due to Gordon’s financial incompetence has been calculated at around £3.4 billion, based on dollar, euro and yen bonds.

That might have come in handy to defray some of the costs Gordon has committed the taxpayer to over Northern Rock.

The decision to sell 400 tons of gold is seen in City circles as a financial bungle to rival the Tories’ “Black Wednesday”.

So Gordon the question is not so much... “are you really making the right long-term decisions for the country?” more… “are you even actually capable of making them?”

Friday, 4 January 2008

Conservatives want to be the 'Party of the NHS'

It seems that Dave the Chameleon has aspirations to make the Conservatives the “Party of the NHS“ replacing New-Labour.

Another general fighting the last war.

It is blatantly obvious that New Labour couldn’t manage the NHS to save their lives (or it seems those of the rest of us). What is amazing is that Dave thinks he could do better.

Realistically it is possible he might do a little better, as it would be difficult to be quite as incompetent and clumsy as Gordon & Co, but it needs more than that.

The underlying problem with the NHS is that it is run by the state on a national basis. It will do no good to put a State Quango in charge of it either, that would probably just make it worse and soak up yet more tax.

Health care in this country needs a radical shake up. Maybe the State, if it wants to be involved so desperately, should consider limiting it’s involvement to providing a basic level of health ‘insurance’ and let the medical profession manage the system.

It should get out of the management of health completely - and not institute detailed control through legislation instead.

Something like the systems operating in quite a few European countries such as Germany, Holland and Ireland. They could include coverage for compensation for loss of work due to illness.

Such a system could easily still be ‘free’ at the point of delivery and might even allow people to visit the dentist again.

If a Hospital was failing, then patients could take their custom elsewhere. If a new hospital was needed then it could be built by subscription, or privately. If there was demand it would do well if not then it would close and not waste taxpayer’s money. If people wanted smaller cleaner more local hospitals and the demand was there then they would be successful.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Quote of the day

” They say that time changes things - but actually you have to change them yourself.”

Andy Warhol (1928 - 1987)

Watch this space.

The UK Libertarian Party is setting out it’s stall on the net.

What they say so far looks very encouraging.

Let's hope that they come to the attention of enough of the apparently huge numbers of voters who have lost faith with the existing main parties.

…And let’s hope that those voters haven’t utterly given up on politics.

Reports of Speed limit reductions on the River Thames

According to the Evening Standard and the BBC, they report that the Port of London Authority (PLA) have halved the speed limit on the River Thames from 24 to 12 knots.

This has had the effect of doubling the commute from Greenland Dock to Embankment from 20 minutes at rush hour to 40 minutes.

The ostensible reason? Well the PLA claim to have made it as a ‘precautionary’ measure because of a significant increase in the number of fast vessels that use the Thames.

They are reported as saying: "In recent months new vessels have started operating new services on new routes and leisure operators have introduced tourist-related high-speed trips.

"This measure will help ensure continued high safety standards on the river."

I had understood that what limits there are were applied upstream (west) of Wandsworth Bridge, 4.3 knots (8kph) in the non tidal section and 8 knots in the tidal section of the river - and that downstream (east) of this point, the only requirement was that boats were not allowed to create ‘undue wash’.

Apart from that, what doesn’t quite scan, when you think about it, is the fact that if there was a previous 24 knot limit then surely none of the boats would have exceeded it.

If they had, then logically they could have been prosecuted. What difference does it make what speed they happen to be capable of travelling at, provided they only actually travelled at 24 knots?

If they couldn’t have been prosecuted then what is to hold them to any lower limit?

As for the number of boats – the numbers using the Thames now are nothing in comparison to those of the first half of the 20th century. The river is not exactly crowded.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Quote of the day

” The market is not an invention of capitalism. It has existed for centuries. It is an invention of civilization.”

Mikhail Gorbachev

Is it really a myth that migrant workers do jobs UK workers wont?

According to the Telegraph a new report by Migrationwatch is claiming it is a myth that foreign workers are just doing work which UK workers don’t want, or filling newly-created jobs.

There is a suggestion that a generation of low-skilled British workers risks being ‘trapped’ in unemployment by record immigration.

They express concern that a combination of generous benefits and immigrant labour willing to work for low wages will create "an underclass of discouraged British workers."

A single person under 25, on the minimum wage of £193 pw is just £10 a day better off than if they were on the dole. A married person with two children is £30 pw better off than on the dole.

So what’s all this myth exploding nonsense then? The British worker would appear to be virtually as well off on the dole as doing these jobs. It is not surprising they don’t want to do the jobs. But it is still definitely a matter of them not being willing to do the jobs for the money.

It seems that Frank Field, the former Labour welfare reform minister interprets this as immigrant workers ‘trapping’ British-born people in unemployment, because the higher the level of immigration in an area, the ‘harder’ it is for the unemployed to come off Jobseeker's Allowance.

This is backwards logic at best. The state can hardly blame migrant workers for the fact that it pays such generous dole benefits that, by the time transport costs and the bother of getting up in the morning are taken into account, the recipients are unwilling to do jobs that would probably actually leave them worse off, while the more motivated migrant workers are willing to underbid them for work.

Surely the UK workers would be unwilling to work for these wages, doing these jobs in any case?

Is that not the reason why those jobs are available for the migrant workers to do in the first place - otherwise all these jobs would surely already be filled by British workers?

This situation primarily results from the level the Government sets it’s dole benefits at, combined with our membership of the EC.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Quote of the day

” Every election is a sort of advance auction of stolen goods.”

H.L. Mencken

Democracy – Is it always necessarily a good thing?

All my life it had been one on my underlying and - unquestioned assumptions that it is. So much so that I didn’t realise it was, or question it in any way.

But is it really? There is much talk of the will of the people and the wisdom of crowds, but is this always a good thing, does it always produce a positive result.

Democracy depends on a rational, sensible, responsible and interested and reasonably educated electorate. It further requires that they actually pay attention to what they are voting for and deciding upon.

That they consider what it might be like to be actually subject themselves to the policies, laws and rule by the politicians they are keen on.

What it might be like if they were not in charge, but on the receiving end.

That they actually think through the likely consequences of policies and dogma to their logical conclusions and not simply rely on simpleminded wrote. Parliament please take note of the last.

Democratic processes don’t always produce desirable results. Hitler rose to power through the democratic process, as did the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the president of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe. Surely no voter in their right mind would want such to rule over them?

Democracy isn’t necessarily guaranteed to provide, or protect the rights, liberty, safety and the wellbeing of the citizen - We assume it is so, but it is not necessarily so.

A case in point is Pakistan. What will the democratic process, if it is allowed to continue, throw up there? Many of the elements that have so destabilised Iran are present to some extent there.

It is not simply a matter of academic interest, or even one of humanitarian interest. Pakistan possesses atomic weaponry. If it Pakistan becomes a detsabilised failed state then that is likely to fall into the hands of Islamicist terrorists. There are elements there who would like nothing better.

Are democracy and the universal suffrage that the West have placed such blind faith in promoting there sure to produce a positive result? Or is it possible Pervez Musharraf may be a better protector of the rights and the liberty of the Pakistani citizen than he is given credit for.

I am not willing to abandon democracy, but realistically - it seems that sometimes turkeys will vote for Christmas after all…