Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Friday, 31 December 2010

The Tay Bridge Disaster and Afghanistan

You might ask what is the connection between an event that took place 131 years ago and Afghanistan.
Following Subrosa's blog on the subject of the collapse of the Tay Bridge, I decided to re-read my copy of John Prebble's book, "The High Girders".
One little paragraph caught my eye;
"The news went across Britain by the electric telegraph. In the later editions, all daily  newspapers replaced their lead stories. News of the storming of Sherpur, of the struggle about Kabul, of the anxiety felt for General Roberts' forces in Afghanistan gave way before the Tay Bridge disaster."

Engineering design, materials and standards have changed enormously in the 131 years, but seemingly not the military or political situation in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

PC speak

"Our community of 212,000 is enriched by its mix of cultures and backgrounds"
So sayeth the Chief Executive of Luton Borough Council in a letter in today's Telegraph.
For "enriched" read "taken-over"!

I spent part of my childhood living in the outskirts of Luton and would certainly not think of returning however enriched it now is.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Business Bribary

Can someone please explain the difference between
  1. A UK Company paying a huge sum to a foreign company acting as their agent in that country in order to secure a large contract and thus increase their business and secure jobs in the UK
  2. A UK Company paying a huge sum to a Local Council to secure planning permission and thus increase their business and secure jobs in the UK
In the first instance, a typical example is British Aerospace which has been hounded by the serious fraud office on allegations that their actions amount to bribery. Although the reason why we should be concerned about bribery in another country where it is a way of life, simply escapes me.

In the second instance, Tesco  is to build a state-of-the-art police station in West Bromwich in order to secure planning permission for their biggest store to date (today's Sunday Mail),

Can anyone please explain why the first example constitutes bribery and the second does not. Do the Police overlook the matter because they are the beneficiaries?

I wonder who would investigate if some person or organisation made a formal complaint about possible bribery?

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Vince Cable Why hasn't he been fired?

Reading about what Vince Cable has said, it is clear to me that he should have been instantly fired from the Cabinet. No ifs or buts, just given the boot.
He was the Business Secretary and was to have been responsible for arbitrating on issues involving Murdoch and BSkyB. He made an astounding attack on Murdoch to some of his presumed constituents which clearly made it obvious that Murdoch wouldn't get a fair hearing. This was nothing to do with his satisfaction or dissatisfaction as to the actions of the coalition, it was plain simple stupidity and shows that he is totally unfit for high office.
He is now, as Simon Heffer puts it in today's Daily Telegraph, the "Certain Bits of Business Only Secretary".
Why was he let off so leniently as compared with Lord Young, a life long Tory, who made a few remarks which, to many, didn't seem too unreasonable? He wasn't even in the cabinet but merely an unpaid advisor, but was instantly fired and treated like a pariah.
I would strongly recommend reading Simon Heffer's article

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Snow Clearance - Blame the Global Warming Experts for the Chaos

Not so many years ago, a well know Professor (presumably of Global Warming) announced that children born in Britain from then on would be extremely unlikely ever to see snow in their gardens again. Even if you din't see this ridiculous claim, no-one can be unaware that for at least the past decade, all the Government experts and advisers have predicted global warming , and all around the world, wherever you have looked, somebody is claiming that a particular event has been caused by global warming.

It is these people who are responsible for the lack of snow clearance - if the experts say snow is a thing of the past, why invest capital in clearance facilities?

A local County Councillor told me that they hadn't made any significant investment in snow clearance equipment for quite a few years simply because all the experts suggested that global warming was on the increase. As my councillor friend remarked, "Can you imagine what our electorate would think if we put a significant sum into our budget for snow clearance equipment, at a time when we are being forced to reduce other services. "Any local politician would be mad to suggest such a thing, and we'd lose votes to the Greens if we dare even suggest it".

For once I believe that he has a perfectly valid point of view (and its not often I can say that about politicians). As a politician, you are duty bound to listen to the relevant experts on such matters as well as the electorate, and all would seem to have been in accord for the last few years, "It would be a criminal waste of money to invest in snow-ploughs and the like" is the common viewpoint.
As mentioned elsewhere in the media, most county councils with miles of country roads have also ceased to pay retainers to farmers and other small contractors to keep the necessary equipment available on the basis that it is now unnecessary.

I'm simply surprised that more organisations haven't used what I consider to be a perfectly valid excuse. The railway infrastructure is government owned and our major roads are the responsibility of the Highways Agency - the Treasury surely wouldn't allocate them funds for new equipment in view of the advice given by the experts; just think of what the media would have been saying about waste!
And of course the shareholders in the privatised airports would have been unlikely to think much of the idea if it affected their dividends! Remember, Heathrow is now owned by the Spanish; what do they know about snow?

So, to me, it's very clear who is to blame for the current dire situation, it is all those experts who have been predicting global warming. You can only blame our those responsible in government, councils, railways and airports for having been gullible enough to believe them.


Sunday, 19 December 2010


Do you get the impression that the BBC doesn't understand negative numbers?

On Monday the minimum is greater than the maximum.
Pergaps they should have stuck with Fahrenheit!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

MPs' Expenses

MPs are at it again, claiming that the rules governing expenses are too onerous and that the rules requiring them to only have small apartments, rather than the previous lavish mansions that they had under the old regime, is "anti-family and not acceptable".
There is a simple solution to the problem:
Civil Servants on Grades 6 or 7 earn approximately the same salary as that received by MPs. Why not simply use the same rules and expense scales that would be applied to these civil servants in the event that they are posted away from home on detached duties?
After all, they are the people who effectively determine the Civil Service pay scales and expenses regime, so surely "What's good for the goose is good for the gander".

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Hospitals face fines for mixed sex wards

"Hospitals face fines for mixed sex wards" is a front age headline in today's Daily Telegraph.
What on earth is the logic in doing this?
The hospitals which still have mixed sex wards claim that the reason is that they are short of money to make the necessary changes, and that they need to spend  what they have in other more important areas. If this is so, fining the hospitals won't hurry things along but simply cause even more problems, so it would seem that a patient will suffer twice  - in having to be in  a mixed sex ward and then finding possibly that the necessary treatment is delayed for lack of money.
One thing that is a dead certainty is that any shortfall won't come out of the administration budget - indeed, it could increase due to the extra problems involved in finding areas to cut to pay the fine!

If any fine is to be imposed, it should be imposed on the individual hospital administrators and senior administrative staff when it would have some meaning, otherwise it is a totally pointless exercise which will disadvantage patients still further.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Our Students are Mugs

Our students have been taken for a ride - Not by the government but by their incompetent leadership.  Various left wing groups, anarchists, anti-wars groups and a whole rag bag of layabouts and vandals who just like to smash things up have taken them for a ride.
All these groups have managed to cause mayhem without themselves being directly involved causing the public to blame it all on students, who will now have far less public sympathy.

Most of these groups couldn't care less about further education, all they want is an excuse to further their own ends, preferably in disguise. If students believe that the Socialist Worker's Party was there to support them, they are more stupid than I thought.

No doubt student leaders were pleased, perhaps flattered, when other groups offered to"support" them and provided help; they clearly haven't lived long enough to learn that there is no such thing as a "free lunch".

When the Countryside Alliance protest that took place in London back in 2002 they steadfastly refused any offers of "help" or "support" from other groups although a few did manage to muscle in on the protest.  An estimated 400,000 people took part in that demonstration and there were few problems.   Indeed, that was the only occasion that I have ever seen when I believe that the Police could be accused of violence rather than the demonstrators.

Our students have a lot to learn, and much of it won't be taught in the lecture room. Meanwhile, if their leaders have any sense, they will embark on a sensible PR campaign if they wish to restore some standing with the general public

Friday, 10 December 2010

Why so many students?

When I look at job advertisements (out of curiosity!), I notice that these days employers are demanding degrees for jobs which, in my young days, they would have merely asked for a school leaving certificate or possibly 3-4 "A" levels. Why? The jobs in question are basically the same as they were then, and one might, in fact, argue that they are easier these days due to the advent of computers and calculators. Why on earth do employers now want degrees for the same jobs?
One answer is that with so many people applying for some jobs it an easy way to sort out the candidates, but this is contrary to (what I understood to be) normal employment practices where one would try to avoid employing staff who were over-qualified for the job.
The only conclusion that I have reached is that today's equivalent of the school leaving certificate, several "good" "A" levels, is just not worth the paper it is printed on. All subjects in the old school leaving certificate had to be taken at the same time, there were no modules which you could take and then forget, and if you failed (or got an insufficient grade) in one subject, you had to re-sit the lot. Now, given time, it is virtually impossible not to pass a good selection of subjects.
Thus, there is no doubt in my mind that the only reason employers now ask for degrees is because they feel that standards have fallen so much that that a first degree is now equivalent to the School Leaving Certificate of my days.

This explains why education costs have risen so much, and why we have so many students. It is now taking three years longer to reach an acceptable standard of education for "ordinary" jobs, and of course for jobs that once required a first degree, a master's is now essential.

We need to restore real standards in all our schools; we need to make sure that instead of being 25th in the league table for reading ability we are in the top five. We need to take similar action with maths, where we are currently 30th and science where we are 16th. If we were to manage this, probably only half the present numbers of students would need, or want to go to university. Our poor lower schools are to blame for this university fees situation along with constant left wing politically correct interference and a total lack of discipline, and now those students who would like to better themselves are feeling the pain.

With good standards at eighteen, possibly only half the present numbers of school leavers would want (or need) to go to university, overall costs would fall, and free tuition could be restored at a smaller number of highly respected world beating universities

As a footnote, until yesterday's demonstrations, I had some sympathy for the protesting students as I felt that the education system had let them down by not providing adequate education at secondary level; now I am starting to wonder whether they were the ones responsible for the disruption and poor behaviour in our schools which is a significant cause of this poor education.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Educational Standards

The OECD has tested the educational standards of 15 year olds in a number of developing countries, and Britain has performed abysmally.
We are 25th in the list as far as reading is concerned, with Hong Kong and Shanghai coming near the top and Japan in eighth position. When you consider the nature of their alphabet (if that's what you call it) and the complexity of their script, it becomes quite obvious that something is badly wrong in this country.
Our maths is even worse, with Britain in 30th position, and science not much better with us in 16th position.
If one looks at the English speaking Commonwealth nations, Canada, New Zealand & Australia, all perform far, far better than we do, and when you look at the detail, you find they spend far less per head.
Where have we gone wrong? Why are our standards in the "Three R's" far worse than they were 100 years ago? My grandmother, born in 1862 was one of nine children in a working class family. She went to the "National School" which she left at an age of 12 and never had any further formal education, working in hotels and later running a boarding house. But she had beautiful handwriting (I've still got some of her letters) and her style of writing and her command of the English language was far better than most people in this country could manage these days. When I knew her, she had a wide range of the Classics on her bookshelf and conscientiously visited the public library each week to get some fresh books (there was no TV!).
So why are 20% of our children at the age of 15 being described as "functionally illiterate", particularly as we are now spending more on their education than ever before?
There is no doubt in my mind that the teachers are largely to blame. They have embraced all kinds of unproven trendy ideas, insisted on (unnecessary) high levels of education for teachers in junior schools, and connived in the lack of discipline in the class.
I believe that we have badly let down all our children by failing to do the right thing.
Who needs a degree to teach a child to read or write? My wife taught both of our girls to read long before they went to school , and then was castigated for having done so!
In my grandmother's day, teachers were apprenticed and learnt to teach "on the job" with a more experienced teacher.Why on earth do we consider it necessary to send them to training college?
It's time we got back to first principles, concentrated on the basics, forgot computers and trendy modern ideas and simply concentrated on the core objective of ensuring that our children can read and write.
Until children can read and write fluently, they cannot sensibly study any other subject or even get a worthwhile job. Of course they will leave school knowing about all the fashionable things like global warming, human rights, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and how to sue for damages, but will know absolutely nothing of use in the real world except how to claim benefits.
The next generation of children have been badly let down by theteaching establishment.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Our Schools and Employment

We have a strange and illogical situation, as might be expected after a decade of Labour government and a politically correct curriculum in schools.
If we believe those (mainly lefties) in the management of Education, we must believe that our schools are setting higher standards than ever, with more and more children passing ever harder "A" levels.
On the other hand, we might prefer to believe others of the same political tendency who are bemoaning the fact that the government wants to cut down on the number of "skilled" immigrants being allowed into this country each year, as this will harm British business because of the lack of skilled workers in this country.
Seemingly they have all missed the point; If schools are as good as they insist, and have been for ten years or so, why don't we have these skills? Those in charge of education should, if they were doing their job properly, have been keeping in touch with business, finding out what skills will be needed over the next decade, and pushing education in that direction.

Michael Gove, the Education Minister, has been accused by his critics of "ignoring expert advice" in his White Paper, but those so-called experts are the very people who have got us into this mess, resulting in the country not having the necessary skills for the future. If I was in his position, I would be doing exactly the same, these "experts" have shown themselves to be incompetent and they should be told where to go, and exactly what to do when they got there!

Saturday, 27 November 2010

"Asian" Gangs

The Daily Mail today, in common with most newspapers, reports on an "Asian" gang which groomed and abused young white females over a number of years.

Why do they insist on referring to them as "Asian", a totally meaningless word in this context covering a wide variety of nationalities and races from Russia and Turkey in the west to Japan and China in the east. The Asians (or their parents) to which the media refer invariably come from a very small part of the Indian sub-continent, which in itself is quite a small part of Asia (have a look at a map, I've coloured it red!).

Now, when I was working, I had a number of Asian born colleagues whom I feel would have every right to be offended by this constant use of the word "Asian". There was Sonny from Hong Kong, Clem from Ceylon (as it was when he was born there) and Olly from Burma (ditto) to name but three of a number of Asians with whom I worked over the years. Yet they are now being lumped together in the media by the use of this generic term "Asian". They are not likely to complain, being grateful that this country gave their parents shelter at a time of need, but it is now time that someone did so on their behalf.

Now the ludicrous thing is that we all know what the newspapers mean.
It is well worth reading this article in today's Daly Mail
"Asian gangs, schoolgirls and a sinister taboo: As nine men are jailed for grooming up to 100 for sex, the disturbing trend few dare talk about".
As one of the victims of another similar gang is reported to have said
‘The truth is, most men running the gangs in the north of England are Asians of Pakistani ­origin. But very few of the authorities will say this.’.
Not only won't the Authorities say or admit this, neither will most of the media and certainly not the BBC, whom as far as I can remember didn't even go as far as mentioning that those jailed were Asian.
So, on behalf of those Asians of different ethnic descent, I would ask various authorities and the media, particularly the BBC, to stop this pretence that it is Asians in general who are responsible for these crimes and to start telling the real truth. They are invariably Asians whom ethnically originate from the northern part of the Indian sub-continent, currently known as Pakistan. They are also invariably claim to be Muslims and there seems to be an odds-on chance that they will be named Mohammed.

And at the risk of offending those who see racism everywhere, I would like to use a good old fashioned English phrase "It's time we started to call a spade a spade"

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Bernard Madoff being used as a financial consultant by the EU!

I am convinced that Madoff has been released from jail in America in order to become a financial consultant to the EU Finance Ministers in Brussels.

What is taking place has all the tell-tale signs of a giant Ponzi scheme. One country is borrowing money from another country to lend it to a third knowing that there's not a cat's chance in hell of it ever being paid back. The third country will then pay it to a fourth country to whom it owes money who will lend it back to the first so that it can make it available to yet another country so that they, in turn, can re-cycle the money around a few more countries. The net result will be that no one will know how much is owed by anyone, but one thing that we can be sure of is that during these transactions quite a few Eurocrats will become quite wealthy as the money gets attached to sticky fingers during its travels.

Yes only Madoff could organise this as I doubt if the Ministers have enough brains between them to organise such a scheme.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Spelling and Grammar back on the syllabus!

The Daily Telegraph reports today that "Pupils will be penalised in exams for poor spelling, punctuation and grammar under a sweeping overhaul of the education system."

There only seems one problem with this proposal, where are the teachers who are going to implement this change? The whole ethos of education for the past 30 years or so has been that as long as children can express themselves, spelling and grammar are irrelevant. I remember the days, before taking my 11-plus, when we had a spelling test each morning. Our teacher would dictate about twenty words which would be collected and marked during the morning break; anyone getting less than ten correct was in trouble. I have a feeling most of today's teachers couldn't pass the test themselves.

And judging by the frequent misplaced apostrophes, would their punctuation and grammar be any better? Just how many of today's teachers would recognise a split infinitive? I have my doubts if many could identify a noun and a verb!

I hope the government presses ahead with their proposals, but as with mathematics, I suspect that English language teachers are in short supply. I'm waiting for the howls from the teachers' unions along with lots of high sounding reasons why this will be bad for the children, but in reality designed to conceal their own shortcomings.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Nadine Dorries on Sarah Palin

In her blog yesterday, Nadine Dorries outlined why she could support Sarah Palin as a presidential candidate.

I fully agree with all she says. Unlike most politicians in America, Palin manages to "connect" with the average American, and in particular with their desire for small government, lower taxes and an environment in which business can grow. They also want a strong government which is prepared to stand up for the country and ensure that it has adequate defence, something that Obama has not done in his constant wish to appease.

Our own politicians should look at what Nadine has written, an realise that the aspirations that she lists are also those of most British people except for the ever increasing number of work-shy, scroungers and unwanted asylum seekers.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Quantitative Easing

I couldn't resist reposting this video that I saw on Steve Baker's site

I think it is brilliant!

I hope that both George Osborne and Mervyn King have seen it.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

BBC Supports BST!

Hasn't anyone told the BBC that summer time has ended? Or was it the Police who needed to be told? See This news report, dated today:

Two die in Buckinghamshire as crash car

catches fire

Two women died after the car they were in hit a tree in Buckinghamshire and burst into flames.

The Renault Clio, which had six people inside, crashed on the A413 Amersham Road in Denham, Buckinghamshire, at about 0240 BST, police said.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Remembrance Sunday

The Battle of Britain was fought, an won, seventy years ago in the Autumn of 1940, and this seems appropriate for the occasion.

It is dedicated to all those killed fighting for this country over the centuries, but particularly on this Remembrance Sunday, the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain, to those young RAF pilots who fought, and died, for their Country.

"Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few"

"Bonkers" Energy Policies

For a few years now, those who have some knowledge of the subject, and aren't blinded by 'green' prejudices, have been saying that we are likely to have an electricity shortage some time in the next few years; personally, from what I hear from insiders, I believe that we have been lucky to get away without major power cuts during the past couple of winters. (and remember, even if you have gas or oil central heating, you still need electricity to control the boiler)

Fortunately, someone in a more authoritative position than myself has now spoken out. As reported in the Daily Telegraph, Rupert Soames, chief executive of Aggreko, has said that 'Scotland is in “serious danger” of suffering power shortages over the next decade thanks to Alex Salmond’s “bonkers” green energy policies'.
He also accused politicians of “holding hands and singing Kumbaya to the great green God” but warned the reality is it will be many decades before renewable energy can plug the gap left by traditional sources of power. 

Whilst he was speaking to a Scottish audience about Scottish policies, I believe that the situation is far worst in England and I am just hoping that we do not have a hard winter.

Meanwhile I'm still looking for a cheap 5-10kW diesel powered generator!

Student Riots (Continued)

I'm pleased to note that according to today's Daily Telegraph, lecturers at Goldsmiths College who backed the "magnificent student rioters" are to be brought before the college's governing body to explain their actions.
And, as a correspondent on their letter page wrote, "The academics at Goldsmiths, by their actions, have demonstrated the need for higher student fees, in order to employ better-educated lecturers." Rather nicely put, I thought!

Friday, 12 November 2010

Councillor arrested over tweet - Why not MPs as well?

The Daily Telegraph reports today (page 18) that a Tory Councillor has been arrested over claims that he had suggested on Twitter that a female journalist, Yasmin Alibaha-Brown should be stoned to death.
He has also been suspended from the Tory Party.

Surely the two Labour MPs who are alleged to have urged and congratulated the "student" demonstrators should suffer a similar fate? Along with the "University" staff who took similar public positions.
All should be suspended with immediate effect - they are all public employees and the public has every right to expect better of people in these positions.

Or is alleged racism a more serious matter than advocating and/or approving of criminal damage and attempted murder?

Labour Supports Student Riots

According to today's Daily Mail, two Labour MPs encouraged the student rioters using twitter, telling them to:
"get stuck in",
"just shows what can be done when people get angry. We must build on this",
"Well done our students"

If these were local councillors, there would be a full inquiry by the independent ethics committee (or whatever it calls itself) and they would probably be suspended. As MPs, no one will do anything and they are apparently allowed to encourage criminal behaviour. (Surely this is in itself a criminal offence?)

A number of so-called "University" staff also added their support and approved of what took place.

We have a fundamental right of peaceful demonstration in this country, and very few would want otherwise, but this was not peaceful demonstration, and action should be taken against any persons who can be shown to have actively encouraged what took place.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Student Riots in London - Police to Blame

Listening to the BBC news and media comment, it seems that the Police are to blame for what happened. Apparently the  Met failed to have enough officers on hand to police the student demonstration. Well, I suppose it makes a change from being accused of having too many police as at the G20 summit and thus provoking the riot.

Lets make it clear, the riots were the sole responsibility of those "students" who rioted, together with the National Union of Students who organised the demonstration, no-one else, and certainly not the police.

As usual, the organisers try to duck the blame by claiming that it was a breakaway group, and by implication, nothing to do with them (it wasn't me gov!). They organised the demonstration, they encouraged thousands of students to come to London and protest, and if they hadn't done this, there would have been no "break-away" group.

The Metropolitan Police have nothing to be ashamed of. They set out to police what they had every reason would be an orderly but possibly rowdy demonstration with what they believed would be adequate levels of police; a sufficient presence but not so many as to be accused of "over-kill".  If they had had large numbers of riot police held ready nearby, "just in case", and all had been peaceful, they no doubt would have been accused of wasting public money.Whatever had happened, they were in a "no-win" situation. I just hope they manage to identify the "student" who threw the fire extinguisher off the roof of the building; there seems every reason why he should be charged with attempted murder.

If I were Cameron, I have another fiver put on to all students annual fees in order to pay for the damage and the cost of the police. Why should the taxpayers be expected to, not only pay their University costs, but also the bill for the problems they cause?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


I'm pleased to note that a tiny bit of common sense has been shown by the Foreign Office. It is reported today that "it would have to accept information gained from waterboarding if it could stop an imminent terrorist attack". However, guidance to information officers makes it clear that the decision would have to be made by ministers.
Regardless, of this proviso, it seems quite clear that such information, if it becomes available will be used. Being a cynic, I find it impossible to believe that any sane minister would be prepared to say to our security services "No don't use that information" and risk the possibility of a terrorist attack, particularly in the light of questions now being asked about the role of the security services in the London bombings. Imagine the consequences if, following an attack, a security officer leaked the news that "Yes, we knew it was about to happen, but couldn't use the information as it came from an unacceptable source"!

Monday, 8 November 2010

"Leader of the Opposition has illegitimate son"

I'm sure that is what the headlines would have said in my younger days, and although this would now not be said in public, the fact remains correct.

Somewhat more interesting is the photograph, in the Daily Mail, of a copy of the birth certificate of what he claims to be his first child.

Although the father's name is not given, and the mother is Justine THORNTON, the child's name is given as Daniel Ralph Thornton MILIBAND.

I understood that some years ago, registrars were instructed that a single mother was not to be allowed to claim any surname for the child except her own unless the father was present at the registration and gave his consent. This followed a number of cases where single mothers had given the name of some celebrity, presumably for the publicity, or a convenient local male, possibly in the hope of coercing him into marriage or paying maintenance.

Surely this rule should have been applied, after all, even if Miliband had given his written consent (he couldn't find the time to go along to the registrar), the registrar would then have entered him as the father.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Who makes our U.K. Laws?

In my youth, I was taught about Parliamentary Supremacy and that only Parliament could make laws. I know that since that time we have signed up to the EU, and that they are now making laws, but even these do not become effective until a British version has been voted on and passed by Parliament.

As far as I know this has not changed and is still the situation.

However, reading the news lately, it would appear that our judges are now making their own laws, with or without the consent of Parliament.

This week we have the news that a special tribunal has ruled that Abu Hamza cannot be striped of his British passport because it would make him stateless. So the elected government can't do what they want (and which no doubt would have the support of a large majority of the electorate) because some non-elected Judges say so.

Now there are lots of stateless people in the world, why should the hate preacher be any different? The fact that the Egyptian Government (presumably his country of birth) have refused to issue him with a passport wouldn't make him stateless, it would merely make it impossible for him to travel. Because our government refuses to issue passports to football hooligans, this doesn't make them stateless.

This follows hot on the heals of some other judges ruling that the government control orders are illegal, and that unwanted non-British citizens who for various reasons can't be deported, can neither be kept under lock and key in prison, or even kept under some form of restraint outside, regardless of the possible danger tht they might present.

Why? The government has made it very clear that these people are free to leave the country any time they like without restraint, so as far as I can see, this is nothing like being detained without trial where they would have no such option.

The judges are right to take action if the government breaks the law, but the government is not doing this. The previous parliament passed the law but the judges are in now saying "You can't make a law to do that because we disagree". It is surely irrelevant that this law may go against a previous law, as it was always the case that the most recent legislation took precedence. Thus, if Control Orders go against the individual's Human Rights, there is thus no problem. If the latest law did not take precedence, you could have, at some future date, a judge ruling that the government cannot amend the Human Rights Legislation because to do so might infringe some individual's human rights. This is effectively what judges have done in their latest rulings, and if the government doesn't take action soon to restrict Judges to what most people would accept as their proper role, it will be regretted by governments for years to come.

Additonally, it is surely time Parliament and the public had more say in the appointment of judges, rather than leaving it to the secretive Judicial Appointments Committee. In the United States they have Confirmation Hearings which are held by the US Senate to gather information on whether to approve or reject candidates for high federal office, including those appointed to posts equivalent to our government ministers. When are we going to start doing the same?

Thursday, 4 November 2010

University Education

Reading today's papers, it seems that University graduates are to be indirectly taxed according to their subsequent earnings. It would appear that this is going to be achieved by charging the graduates with a rate of interest on their graduate loan which increases with earnings. Now I'm a firm believer that University students should contribute towards their education costs, and I also believe that the cost should be sufficiently high to discourage those "students" who want to go to university because "it is the thing to do". And yes, we also need to make some provision for poorer students, but charging a higher rate of interest on a loan makes no difference if you don't need a loan in the first place!

I think that we also need to be careful not to loose our best people abroad. The son of some acquaintances of mine is currently at a US University. I don't know how true it is, but they claim that a degree from one of the "Ivy League" universities is now worth far more in the world market than an Oxbridge degree. A friend has a daughter at the Sorbonne studying languages (OK, she speaks fluent French having lived there as a young child), and they tell me her costs are less than they would be in England. Both are undoubtedly very clever, and would do well anywhere, but they are the sort of people that this country needs, but is likely to loose, if we have an inept university policy.

What I would like to see is for any extra money raised from students to go directly to the University from which they graduated. This would mean that the better the University, the more of its students might expect to get highly paid jobs which in turn would provide higher funding enabling them to further improve their standards. This is effectively what happens in the US, and although it is not compulsory, most wealthy businessmen will invariably give quite large endowments to their Alma mater during their lifetime.
Of course this would mean the survival of the fittest, but isn't that what the world is all about?

15 years for trying to kill an MP

Islamic extremist Roshonara Choudhry was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in jail for attempting to kill her MP Stephen Timms, apparently as a result of watching videos on the internet.
Now I think this is an appropriate sentence, but it does beg the question of why a number of murders recently have received a minimum of a mere five years or so.

The judge only got one thing wrong! Those who shouted slogans in court about the Judge should have been held for Contempt of Court.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Another would-be Dictator

The Director of Public Health at NHS East Lancashire, wants all children who have not had the MMR jab to be banned from schools.
Having failed to convince the public that their children should have this jab (a fifth of the children in the area haven't had it), he adopts the typical attitude of dictators "I know that I am right, and you will have no choice but to do as I say",
I can think of lots of reasons why some children should be banned from schools, but this is not one of them.
And if someone succeeds here, what other reason might be used to ban children from school by  another would be dictator who is convinced that he is right? The fact that a child, or his parents, are man-made climate change sceptics, and by being so could infect the other children?

As an aside, I wonder why NHS East Lancashire has a Director of Public Health? I always thought Public Health was the responsibility of the appropriate Local Authority. Another non-job waiting to be abolished?

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Christian Values and Adoption

Most newspapers (but apparently not the BBC) today cover the case of the Christian couple who are no longer allowed by Derby Council to be foster parents as the are opposed to homosexuality.

Ben Summerskill, of Stonewall says: "Too often in fostering cases it's forgotten that it is the interests of the child, and not the prejudices of the parent, that matter".


That is what most people believe, and I would suggest that very few would believe that it is in the interests of any child to allow them to be adopted by a homosexual couple, male or female.

From press reports, there is no suggestion that the couple are actively anti-homosexuals. They have merely said that, if asked, they would acquaint the child with their views.

Let's hope that the High Court has more sense than Derby Council who are prepared to make an issue out of something that may never happen. And perhaps the electors of Derby might remember at the next election what this case is likely to cost the council-tax payers together with the fact that the Council has managed to loose the services of a very caring couple at a time when foster parents are very difficult to find.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Should I become a witch?

Making headlines in all the papers today is the fact that the Metropolitan Police have issued a guide which advises, inter alia, on how to arrest witches.
The guide notes that "it has become a custom for some to wear athames in various sizes, sometimes sword size, on a belt, as a visible symbol of their pagan faith and to wear them in the streets".
Now if I carry a knife of any sort, let alone a sword, I can be accused of having an offensive weapon, but if I am a witch, its seems that I can have an athame (defined by Wikipedia as a ceremonial double-edged dagger) and as a result would be in the clear.

Actually, I've always fancied a sword-stick, particularly since I have found that I need a walking stick on occasions. Do you think that I would be able to convince the plod it is my athame?

It reminds me of the time when my children were young, and I had a habit of referring to my late mother-in law as the old witch. My popularity was at an all time low when one of my daughters asked "Grandma, why does daddy have to collect you from the railway station in the car? Why don't you come all the way on your broomstick?"

Saturday, 30 October 2010

"Cameron's not a real man!"

I was sitting there at breakfast, still half asleep, munching my cereal and trying to ignore the wittering of someone on one of the television breakfast programs which Mrs EP seems to like, when she suddenly came out with the above remark.

Coming back to this world, I asked why? He's got a family and I've no doubt they're his.
A certain look of contempt, and Mrs EP replied "I don't mean that sort of 'real'. I mean a real man who will do his very best never to be beaten by a woman. One who would want to show a woman who had previously done the same job that he could do it far better and get better results. But he isn't even trying; all he wants to do is to be liked - real men would prefer to be feared".

Mrs EP didn't need to mention Margaret Thatcher by this stage, I'd woken up and got the message as she continued "That Haus Frau in Germany has run circles around him and there must be some catch if the French are actually agreeing with him. He's got absolutely no idea as to how to drive a bargain".

By now I'd realised that the subject under discussion on the television must have been the EU budget "Possibly only a 3% increase instead of 6%. He should have demanded a 25% reduction, threatened to have a referendum on leaving the EU if he didn't get it, and reluctantly settled for a 10-15% reduction. That's what a real man (or Mrs Thatcher) would have done".

So now you know!

Friday, 29 October 2010

Justice? You must be Joking!

Glancing through today's Daily Mail on line, I noted the following two news items:
Thug who kicked terminally-ill grandfather in the head in unprovoked attack walks free from court (here)
"Vicious Reece Kent, 19, repeatedly punched Ken Oliver in the head before kicking him on the floor because he mistakenly thought he was the father of a girl he knew."
"Cancer sufferer Mr Oliver - who has been given just three months to live - was left in a pool of blood on his doorstep with horrific injuries. He spent a week in intensive care following the attack, with bleeding on his brain."
"Mr Oliver watched in disbelief as his attacker walked free from court last week with a six-month suspended sentence."
Tracey Emin conman jailed for 16 months for selling fake artwork on eBay  (here)
"Controversial artist Tracey Emin was left 'hurt and distressed' after a conman sold forgeries of her work for £26,000."
"Jonathan Rayfern, 32, made at least 11 fake items said to be by Emin, who became famous as one leading lights of the Britart movement."
"Today he was jailed for 16 months at Manchester Crown Court after pleading guilty to ten counts of fraud and one count of deception."
Now, regardless of what you think of Tracy Emlin's art (and I don't think much of it), it would seem that a "distressed" Tracy Emlin and the production of forgeries which sold for £26,000 warrents 16 months jail, whilst punching and kicking an elederly man, leaving him in a pool of blood requiring intensive care in hospital, merely attracts a suspended sentence.
The two courts concerned may believe that justice was done, but I suspect they would have great difficulty in finding many other people in this country who would agree with them.
Incidentally, the statement by counsel for the thug in the first case that he did it  "because he mistakenly thought he [Mr Oliver] was the father of a girl he knew" seems typical of the ludicrous excuses offered in court these days. If he had beat up the right person, would he have been found not guilty and released without a stain on his character? Perhaps the NHS should sue him for the cost of Mr Oliver's treatment, and indeed, one might ask why this wasn't considered by the court as I would suspect it cost us considerably more that the £26,000 that the forgeries sold for.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Giving Into The E.U.

Yesterday, I felt that David Cameron was worth a few words of praise over his stance on housing benefit. Today, it is the reverse, and it is clear that he has no guts when push turns to shove.

Reports in the Daily Mail
"Cameron can't halt rise in Euro budget: PM admits jump of at least £430m is out of his hands (And he's not even going to try to stop a new EU treaty or give us a referendum on it)"
and in the Daily Telegraph
"David Cameron softens on EU budget"
seem to confirm my beliefs about him.

In his blog today, John Redwood MP asks "What is the UK’s national interest?", to which my response was that it should be the UK, and nothing but the UK. The job of the UK government is to look after our national interests and no-one else's. The French have always done this very effectively; if you were to ask anyone in France "what is the French national interest", they'd think that you were stupid, or worse. Similarly, the Scottish parliament considers it their duty to look after Scotland, not the UK as a whole - I don't like the idea, but I believe that they are acting correctly.

Look how the French dealt with the matter of the Roma gypsies (who no doubt will soon be in a town near you). They started to deport them, The EU huffed and puffed and threatened legal action. The deportations continued. The EU decided to take a further look at the matter (ie do nothing for now). No change from France, so the apparatchiks crawled back into their comfortable holes in Brussels and decided that the UK was an easier target.

If Cameron had any guts, he would say to the EU  "Britain is having to cut all its government spending by 10% and we propose to cut our EU budget by the same amount".  No if or buts, just cut it and await reaction. I suspect the EU would accept it simply because they would know that if they did anything else, the pressure on Cameron to have a referendum on withdrawing from the EU would become irresistible.

For once I'm tempted to say "Why can't the British Government be more like the French?".

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Housing Benefit

For once, I was pleased with David Cameron's response to criticism.
Today he insisted that the government is going to stick to the introduction of a £400 per week limit on housing benefit, insisting in Parliament that it was not fair for working people to see their taxes used to fund homes “they couldn’t even dream of”.
I think that most people except the left-wingers will agree with this view, and indeed the concept goes back to the days of Parish Relief in the 1700s when the principle was adopted that "No person in this parish when on relief should receive more that the lowest paid working man in the parish".
I think that large numbers of working people, particularly those earning the minimum wage, would agree fully agree with this concept - why should people on benefit get accommodation that a typical working family could not possibly afford?

Unnecessary Waste

Both my wife and I received separate letters today from our local District Council informing us that the responsibility for the issue of our Pensioner's Free Bus Passes National Travel Concession Scheme Passes is being transferred from them to the County Council with effect from next April, and that as our bus passes will expire before this date, would we please sign and return the attached form.
Why on earth is this necessary?
Only a few weeks ago, I filled in the electoral return form showing that we were still at the same address, and this provided exactly the same pre-printed information as this new form, and again, simply required my signature.
Surely, it is not beyond the capabilities of someone at the Council Offices to check the electoral register and ascertain if we are still at the same address, and if so automatically issue the bus pass? What do our signatures on a tatty piece of paper add to the great scheme of things?
Logically, there should only be a necessity to send out letters to those no longer on the Electoral Roll, but then where would they send them?
I know the cost per letter isn't that great, but clearly our local council isn't aware of the old saying "Look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves"

Incidentally, the only time we use the passes is every couple of months when my wife has to visit the local hospital, saving us the hassle of parking and the exorbitant charges. Otherwise, they don't go anywhere that we want to go.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Don't park Illegally in England

Just a quick post to link worth having a look at.
It shows the mentality of staff employed by our local authorities.
My only question is whether Subrosa is correct in suggesting that it only happens in England

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Spend More!

Today's Daily Telegraph reports that Charles Bean of the Bank of England is urging people to stop saving and to spend more.
I would like to assure him that my wife and I intend to comply with his request during the next couple of months. We  have looked at all the major household items which might need replacing during the course of the next year or so and are now busy looking at what's available with the intention of making the necessary purchases before the New Year and the impending VAT increase. We have already bought a new dishwasher (made in Germany) and have decided upon which TV we would like. Unfortunately, I can't see how these purchases will benefit the UK, as all the remaining items on our list appear to be manufactured in the Far East. Indeed the only benefit to the UK will be to those employed in road transport and the docks along with a major retailer who is never knowingly undersold.

No doubt we are not the only people doing this; it will enable the government in due course to boast that the economy did well in the last quarter of 2010, and of course they will have the ready excuse at the end of the following quarter that the downturn in the economy was due to the increase in VAT.

Of course, the Bank of England's request assumes that people have savings to spend, and begs the question of where do the banks and building societies get money to lend if no one is saving.

Oh silly me; I forgot that The Bank of England just prints some more!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

"Racist and Sexist" Union Dominated Labour Party?

Just imagine that the Conservative Party had held a leadership election in which there were four white male candidates and one female black candidate, and that the later candidate came bottom of the poll with a mere 7% of the overall vote and just 0.87% support from her fellow MPs.
Then imagine what all the Labour Party activists would be screaming about racism and sexism, about white male domination, about being unrepresentative of the country as a whole.

Stretch you imagination still further, and think about a Conservative Party, where in addition to MPs and Party Members getting a vote, representatives of the businesses in this country also got a vote. Now just go that little bit further still, and imagine what would be said if the eventual leader was elected, not by a majority of MPs and Party Members, who preferred another candidate, but by big business.

This is effectively what the Labour Party has just done, if you substitute the words "Trade Unions" for "Big Businesses"!

They have rejected the only female candidate, who happened to be black, and the choice of  the MPs and Party Members was over-ruled by the Trade Unions.

White male dominated, controlled by the Trade Unions, and totally unrepresentative of the country as a whole. 

The Tories now have some good ammunition,  let's hope they use it when necessary.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Vince Cable

When the LibDems were in opposition, Vince Cable used to be the face of Common Sense when addressing the financial situation.

Now we see that this was but a disguise.

Since becoming Business Secretary, whose main job, one would reasonably assume, is to promote and assist British businesses, he appears to have been doing much the opposite.
Having "Bashed the banks", which many would consider (wrongly in my view) to be fair game, he then went on to bash British businesses in general, and then yesterday turned his attention to property owners, proposing new taxes on property, as if Council Tax wasn't already excessive.

Having emerged from his previous disguise, we discover that he if nothing less than a socialist, and indeed quite a left leaning one at that. Perhaps, even yet, he has not revealed his true guise and we will one day discover that he is actually Gordon Brown, as there now seems very little difference between them.

It interesting to note that one of the LibDems biggest financial contributors has said that enough is enough. Paul Marshall, a hedge fund manager has said that Cable is behaving like "A minister who wants to make his mark" rather than "Doing what is important for the country".  (Today's Telegraph)
So a a senior member of the party when in opposition, he sees no objection to their being financed by someone who makes his money in the City, but now as Business Secretary, he finds the activities unacceptable. Will the Party be returning the donation and refusing any more in the future?

Cable might not like the idea of a coalition, but he has accepted a government post and should accept the principle of collective responsibility. If he doesn't want to do this, he should resign from the government, and as a back bencher would be free to express his own personal views. But as a minister, his actions are intolerable.

TV Licence

My TV licence is due for renewal, but this time it is different in that I will be 75 before next September, so I only need one for part of the year.
With the renewal form comes a leaflet, in which it mentions the subject in passing, but no-where does it tell you how to apply!
Reluctantly, I rang the number given for English speakers (there are several numbers offering a choice of language). After the usual "Press 1  for this and press 2 for that", (strange how the one you want is always last), and noting that the call would be recorded for "Training" purposes, I got through to an idiot a person.
Having asked him to speak a bit louder and clearer, he proceeded treat me as if I was stupid. For some reason he couldn't understand that I didn't have my old licence to hand (I wonder how many people can find it?) If he'd mentioned that the number was on the renewal form, it would have been more useful.
Then came the question "Do you know your date of Birth?". I explained, that after almost 75 years, I felt that I did know it, but of course it was only hearsay, as I was relying on what my mother had told me!
In due course he wanted my card number which I refused, pointing out that his organisation was one of those who were responsible for the closure of my local post office by no longer being prepared to pay them for doing the job, and that I would be paying by cheque as usual, which I hoped would cost them more to administer than they would have paid the post office! I await a revised renewal form, meanwhile my money is in my bank.

Grumpy? What me? - I felt quite happy after these exchanges. I resented the assumption that because I'm a bit deaf an couldn't understand his accent, I must be stupid.

Incidentally, I would urge anyone who no longer has a post office where they might have paid for their Licence to pay by cheque. This taking work away from the post offices by government departments, at the same time that they are being paid a subsidy to keep open, is typical of all governments' joined up thinking.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Health & Safety

I read in the Sunday Telegraph  that "the government plans to make an all out assault on the burdensome Health & Safety Laws".
I wish this would happen, but I suspect that it never will and that they will just tamper at the edges in view of the huge number of vested interests that there are in keeping them. As a start there are all the Lawyers who are making a comfortable living out of them, particularly by suing (or threatening to sue), and they are always very good at defending their own positions, particularly if their earnings are threatened. Then there are all the others employed in the Health & Safety Industry throughout the country. Most companies employ people to ensure that the company is safe, local councils and government employees employ lots of people, not only to protect the Council's interests, but also to stick their nose in other people's businesses. Just think of the unemployment that would result if people were actually allowed to use their common sense!
But then many councils and indeed other organisations don't use Health & Safety rules to protect people, they use them as an excuse for not doing something, or as a reason why you should not do something. Indeed, H & S combined with Data Protection are a perfect excuse for total inaction by local councils!

I feel that if someone believes that there is a health and safety risk, they should be made to quantify it. Nothing in this world is without risk, I take a risk every time I get out of bed (and probably a bigger one if I stay there).  The Head Teacher who banned a girl wearing a "Help for Heroes" wrist band on H & S grounds should be asked to explain exactly what the risks are, or risk being sued for infringement of the girl's human rights (yet another law designed to encourage inaction, particularly by police forces). Do any of the teachers or pupils wear wrist watches; surely these would be a far greater risk!
As for the two PSCOs who stood by and watched a boy drowned because they had not had the appropriate H & S training, I just can't imagine that they are fellow members of the human race. Even with my advancing years and total inability to swim, I'd have tried to do something. If it was too deep, I'd have looked for a flotation aid, possibly a fallen branch, or even my waterproof anorak which I'm told could hold air.
When it comes to this type of situation, and other "Good Samaritan" types of action, we need immunity from prosecution if someone acted reasonably, unlike at present when people are encouraged to do nothing for fear of being sued. Perhaps we need laws like in France where it is actually an offence to fail to do your best to assist someone in dire need of help.

I hope for the best from the proposed changes, but fear for the worst!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Child Protection

The farce a council threatening to take a 7 year old schoolgirl into care because her parents allow her to cross a village street and walk twenty yards to the school bus stop is typical of modern social services - attack the easy targets and ignore those like Baby P.

It brought to mind my my early school days when we lived in a village near Luton (now part of the expanded town). I was there from late 1940 until my family returned to London in 1945. From an age of five, I walked, by myself,  to school a distance of nearly a mile. I was given firm instructions that in the event of the air-raid siren sounding whilst I was coming or going, I must immediately knock on the door of the nearest house and ask to use their air raid shelter. I remember being in trouble one day (at school) because I ignored the instruction and continued to walk to school. Presumably it was the official policy.

I don't think any further comment is necessary ! ! !

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Public Spending Cuts

I am getting fed up with keep hearing about Government cuts and the Trade Unions telling us how we are all going to suffer.
I don't want cuts, I want savings! I hope that this is what the coalition also want, and if so, why don't they start to refer to them as such.
When we were hard pushed for money (when the children were young and my wife wasn't working), my wife didn't come home from shopping and tell me that she'd made a cut in her spending, she said that she'd made a saving by shopping around. The money from the saving allowed us to reduce our debts.
The government should adopt the same approach; I have absolutely no doubt that many departments could make considerable savings by better management of their budget and reducing unnecessary staff.  I also have doubts as to whether, with good management, it will actually be necessary cut all the things that the Trade Unions are claiming except staff,  and this will probably be achieved by natural wastage.
I am in no doubt that most departments are poorly managed and grossly over staffed. I worked in the Civil Service in the eighties, and at that time staff cuts were made by transferring my area of work to an "Independent Authority". A reduction of some 15,000 civil servants at the stroke of a pen, but of course it wasn't as there were now all the additional liaison and management posts, and we were still being paid by the government.

My daughter has had recent experience of staff reductions. Her small department had thirteen people and was reduced to six. I commented to her that she must be rushed of her feet, and she told me that she had less work than before. Apparently it seemed that the, now retired, boss had effectively been making unnecessary work. Regular written reports were demanded on virtually all aspects of the work in hand; meetings were held at great length invariably involving other departments. All this has stopped, when my daughter needs to talk to someone in another department, she simply phones them and only the two are involved; no meeting of maybe a dozen people, formal minutes and all the rest of the paraphernalia. As she says she gets the job done straight away and not several days later when all those apparently involved have managed to find time to talk about the matter for a couple of hours.

This, I believe is typical of public service as a whole, both central and local government and is largely due to poor management at the top anda n all-round tendency to involve as many people as possible to spread the blame if something goes wrong. No private company would tolerate such waste, and it is time such practices were stopped in government.

I repeat, I don't want cuts, I want savings! My daughter's experience has confirmed that this should be possible without any reduction of service.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

General Sir Richard Dannatt

I've just been reading skimming through what General Dannatt has to say in his memoirs, starting in today's Sunday Telegraph.
He categorises Brown a "A Malign Influence" and Blair as having "Lacked Moral Courage". Whilst I would probably agree with both of these statements, surely it is reasonable to ask about the General's own actions.
If he genuinely believes these statements, why on earth didn't he say more when he was in post, and not wait until now? He was Head of the Army, and it is the Army who is bearing the brunt of the present wars.  When ever I get involved in any discussion on Iraq or Afghanistan, even with people who are against the war, they all seem to be very well disposed towards the military. If he had spoken out very publicly, even if he did not have the support of the other Chiefs, he would, in my view, have had overwhelming support of the British public.

But he didn't speak.

Regrettably I have to say that I feel that Tony Blair was not the only one who "Lacked Moral Courage" in this saga.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Police Driving ! ! !

This report in today's Daily Telegraph say it all!

A driver was stopped for suspected drink-driving and arrested. The traffic officers concerned then apparently decided to go for a spin in the Mitsubishi sports car whist awaiting a recovery vehicle to take it to the pound and ended up by crashing and turning it over in a front garden. They have been suspended "from driving duties".

Traffic Officers are supposed to be the elite of the police drivers, trained to use high power cars at high speeds if necessary, yet it seems that these two couldn't even manage a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution on local roads. Perhaps, in fact, for all the hype, they are no better than the rest of us which is probably why they have been discouraged from getting involved in high-speed chases of late.

No one condones drunk driving, but it seems that we would probably have had one accident less if the driver had been allowed to go on his way.

And perhaps the Greater Manchester Police would like to explain why the officers have only been suspended "from driving duties", and not simply suspended from duty (without pay) as they were clearly not only breaking police rules (to use a recover vehicle), but probably acting illegally.

In view of the recent reports about complaints against police officers, I'd be interested to know if there have ever been any made against these two clowns, as surely there will be now.

Primary Schools short of 350,000 places!

Of course, the Labour Party is trying to blame the Coalition spending cuts for this state of affairs, which is much as might be expected. To me it illustrates the total incompetence of the previous government to plan ahead.
There are some things which take governments by surprise (floods, earthquakes, etc), but there is no way an additional 350,000 children can possibly fall within this category. All births have to be registered in this country, and unless these are 350,000 immigrants or asylum seekers who have arrived totally unexpectedly, the government and councils had almost five years to make the necessary provision.
So much for forward planning. If they can't plan for schools when the requirement is reasonably clearly known, no wonder the public services are in such a mess.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Customer Service - 2 - Carphone Warehouse

As I mentioned before, my trusty HP iPAQ personal organiser is getting a bit long in the tooth and needs to be retired. The advice that I have received is that the modern mobile phone can do all that it does and more, so I went into our local Carphone Warehouse to make a few enquiries.
There was an amazing array of phones at a wide range of prices, and after wandering around the shop browsing what was available, I went up to the counter to see the assistant who had been studiously ignoring me whilst doing something on a computer.
He said "I'll be with you in a few moments" whilst continuing to fiddle with the computer. Another assistant came out of the office, made a few adjustment to some of the display phones and disappeared in silence, carefully avoiding making eye contact.
After a few more minutes I walked out; If they can't be bothered to talk to a potential customer, what chance is there of getting help if one has problems?

Biased BBC

According to today's Daily Mail, BBC Director General Mark Thompson has admitted that the corporation was guilty of a 'massive' Left-wing bias in the past.

This is far from correct. The word "was" needs to be replaced by "still is" and "in the past" omitted!

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Customer Service - 1 - Comet Style

I was talking to a friend of mine this morning. His ten month old TV, purchased from Comet, had started to "play-up". After ringing the Comet service phone a couple of times and hanging on for about ten minutes on each occasion listening to terrible music, he abandoned the effort and went into the Comet store where he had purchased the set. There were two females behind the Service Desk, one was on the phone and the other deliberately turned around as she saw him approaching and started dealing with some obviously very urgent important matter on a desk with her back turned towards him. After a while, the other female came off the phone and disappeared into the office. Somewhat put out by this attitude, my friend asked in a very loud voice whether it would be possible to see the manager, but was informed by the female, still with her back towards him, that he wasn't available (presumably he too was dealing with some other very important matter). However, in due course another female appeared who introduced herself as the supervisor. Avoiding the temptation of asking why she was not supervising, my friend explained the problem, and requested that she ring the service department on his behalf as he was unwilling to either spend any more on phone calls or continue to listen to the awful music.
Having countered "That's not possible", with "I'll bring in the TV and demand a refund under the sale of goods legislation", an appointment was eventually made for the Service Technician to come to and sort it out.

But why was all this hassle necessary? Do they really think that if they ignore problems that they will go away?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Pakistan Floods

Yesterday's news indicated that Britons were the biggest donors to the Pakistan flood relief.

I may be a cynic, but I suspect that this is a form of self-preservation - if nothing is done, millions of flood victims might come to stay with some distant relative in this country, and their Human Rights, upheld by some idiot Judge, would prevent them being sent back to where they would be homeless.

More to the point, I wonder how much has been given by their co-religionists in the Arab countries who are presently holidaying in London, living in their multi-million pound mansions.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Ian Huntley

I read today that Ian Huntley is suing the prison service for £100,000 damages as a result of the attack on him whilst in prison. He is also claiming from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board. The prison service said today it was ‘vigorously defending’ the claim. Nevertheless the whole exercise, whatever the result, could cost in the order of £1,000,000 plus in terms of lawyers and court costs.

It is time prisoners were charged for their board and lodging, and in his case protection,  This would be paid out of any earning or other income they get whilst in prison. For those for whom "Life means Life", all their assets should be confiscated as they clearly will never have a need for them.

This would put a stop to such madness!

Monday, 26 July 2010

Wikileaks and Garry McKinnon.

Each time Garry McKinnon is mentioned in the press, I wonder how it was that he was able to hack into the US Defence Computers, and why so much fuss is being made over something which, whilst illegal, scarcely did any significant harm. I have always felt that there was more to this "than meets the eye".
Today, we have the news that someone has leaked some 90,000 US military documents to Wikileaks covering events in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2009.

Now, if I'd had responsibility for computer security at the time of the Garry McKinnon incident, my main priority would not have been chasing the criminal but asking "Why on earth are our security systems so bad that someone with an ordinary home computer could conduct a sustained hacking exercise which took place over fourteen months and involving 96 computers in five US government departments, and which we only knew about because he left messages behind?". My next question would have been "If someone like this can hack into our computers, who else, with far superior resources, has also hacked into our computers but kept quiet about it?".

Today's news proves that nothing has changed. US government computer security seems as lax a ever and it would seem that nothing on their computers is secure from a determined hacker. Most developed countries have their own equivalents of our GCHQ with resources which are far superior to those used by Garry McKinnon, and there is no doubt in my mind that some of these countries will also have been accessing US government computers - why shouldn't they, Russia, China, Israel and many others would consider this to be a normal intelligence activity.

Which brings me back to my original thoughts - The fuss over Garry McKinnon and his extradition wasn't so much to punish him, but more of the nature of a smoke-screen to distract the media from asking questions as to how it happened, and protecting the individuals responsible for security.

If David Cameron wants to get one up on Obama over the recent treatment of the UK, he should issue a warning (albeit tongue in cheek) to all our government departments that they should be wary about sharing secrets with the US until GCHQ is satisfied with the security of the American government computer systems!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

New Identity for Jon Venables

According to today's Daily Telegraph,  The Ministry of Justice now accepts that Jon Venables will have to be given another new identity when he comes out of prison. This will apparently cost £250,000, with close supervision from Probation Officers costing another £1 million per year.

Why. Why, should the taxpayers have to fork out this sum which is far more than it would cost to keep him in prison?

Now, I am not one of those people who believe that children under a certain age don't know what they are doing. My 18 month old grandson certainly knows right from wrong within his environment, and personally, I cannot understand how any 10 year old brought up in the UK with exposure to television and the media, doesn't know that killing is wrong.

Nevertheless, I was prepared to accept the prevailing view that he perhaps wasn't aware of the seriousness of his crime, that rehabilitation was an appropriate course of action and that in due course he would have to be released and given a new identity.
However, he is now an adult, for whom the claim was presumably made that he had been rehabilitated, but notwithstanding this, he has committed further serious crimes. It is surely impossible to claim this time that he was not aware of what he was doing, and this being so, he should be forced to accept the consequences of his actions..

On this basis, why on earth should he be provided with another new identity at such enormous cost? I'm all for giving someone a second chance, but he's had his and I don't think there is any way we should pay for a third chance. If he feels that he will be unsafe out of prison, he should be given the option of staying in, which will cost considerably less than the probation costs of £1 million a year. It is his fault, and no-one else's that he is in his present predicament, so why should we pay?

And if you want to know why I don't believe in rehabilitation in this country, you should read some of Winston Smith's blogs. The most recent shows, to me, that if you are unable to apply any sanctions or punishment, it impossible to bring any discipline or order into the lives of those in care.  If Venables was "rehabilitated" in a similar manner, I'm not surprised at what happened.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Highly Paid Women

According to today's news, a third of women are earning more than  their men and are the main breadwinners.
Bearing in mind that a large number of women don't work (or only have part time jobs) because they prefer to stay at home and look after their family, it would seem that there are probably now equal numbers of men and women who are earning more than the partners.

Harriet, you are superfluous, we have equality !

Shock, Horror - Police Hours

The Headlines today "Shock, Horror, 'Just one in ten police out on patrol' ".

Frankly, I'm not surprised. As an engineer, I worked for ten years in an environment which required 24 hour a day cover, 7 days a week, every week.
Now, it is a straightforward fact that there are 168 hours in a week, something that seems to escape the notice of those who work normal office hours. My contract (which was designed for office workers) required me to attend for 40 hours each week, but I was allowed an hour each day as a lunch break, resulting in a net 35 hours work.

I don't know how many hours police officers are required to work, but I would assume that it would be somewhat similar. Thus to provide full cover in order to have one policeman available at any time, you will need five officers rostered throughout the week providing 175 hours of cover. This gives a slack of just seven hours to provide for overlap on shift changes. Nor does this figure allow for the absence of any officer on leave, sick-leave, training courses or attending court which probably increases the cover required by the equivalent of another person. So effectively six out of the ten policeman are required just to provide one on patrol at any one time.

"Police often work 12 hour shifts and have to be given rest days to make up for it". This of course is a form of jealousy which all shift workers experience, but if the full number of hours are being worked, what's the problem? For years, I worked nominal 12 hour shifts (often longer), with the result that I did an average of only three shifts a week over a five wek cycle. Allowing for nights and weekends, one frequently heard the comment from a day worker, "I haven't seen you for weeks, been on holiday?" Then some Admin type would decide to hold a meeting on one of your rest days and wondered why you complained. When I tried to arrange a training meeting for a Sunday, the cries of horror from the office workers were well worth hearing!

Yes, I have many complaints about the police, mainly with regards to their priorities, but only getting such an apparently low number on patrol is not one of them.

Tree Rats and the RSPCA

The Daily Mail reports that a man has just been fined £1500 for drowning a squirrel. HERE.
The ludicrous thing is that a fine of this magnitude is rarely handed out by magistrates courts for what most of us would consider serious crimes, clearly hurting a squirrel is far more serious than hurting one of your fellow beings. 
The prosecution was brought by the RSPCA who warned that "that many common methods of killing grey squirrels and other pests could now fall foul of the law, and said the only humane way to dispatch them would be to take them to a vet for a lethal injection - at a cost of up to £70."
Clearly, the RSPCA has now become an Animal Right Organisation, rather than  an animal protection organisation, and it is apparently is more interested in publicity than genuinely protecting animals. Grey squirrels are a pest, but it seems that we are not now permitted to kill pests unless it is done in such a manner that the animal might suffer in the course of its death.
What about rats? I've used a standard bait feeder with warfarin laced corn on and off for a number of years now; does this cause suffering to rats and are the RSPCA going to start prosecuting people who do this?
I wonder if this is what the people who put money in their collecting boxes really expect? Certainly they won't be getting a penny more out of me.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Australian General Election

I read that the new Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has decided to call a general election, having taken over from Kevin Rudd following a coup within the Australian Labour Party.
At least the Australians are getting a say, unlike this country under Brown.
I think there is a lot to be learnt from some of our ex-colonies as far a democracy is concerned, Australia, New Zealand and of course the United States!

Friday, 16 July 2010

Computers (and Microsoft) are driving me mad!

A few years ago, soon after Vista was released, there were suggestions in various blogs, etc, that one of the monthly updates to Windows XP was deliberately designed to cause it to slow down in order to make Vista appear to be faster. I never saw any evidence to support these suggestions, and put them down as yet another conspiracy theory involving Microsoft.

Now this house has three computers, two desktops and a lap top. They are all of different ages and all use Windows XP. Over the past few weeks, all three have all have developed problems. In the case of Mrs EP's desktop this resulted in me having to start from scratch and then re-loading Windows and all the other software.
Now my desktop looks as if it will require the same treatment!

As Windows 7 is now being pushed and XP is no longer being supported it is easy to see how these conspiracy theories can develop, particularly if, like me, you don't tend to believe in co-incidences. Why should all three computers develop software problems at about the same time?

I need a new and faster computer as lately I have got into video editing and my present machine takes all night to process the video to produce a DVD. However, whilst there are quite a few computers to choose from at acceptable prices, it seems that much of my software will need upgrading, the cost of which could be several times that of the computer. My video editing software is stated by Roxio to be a "legacy version" and needs to be upgraded, whilst my Microsoft Office 2000 apparently won't run with Windows 7. Now I am perfectly happy with both items of software, certainly Office 2000 does everything that I need, so why should I pay out for extras that I don't want? In addition, as I have previously blogged, I will need to replace my iPAQ PDA as Active Sync and Outlook apparently are incompatible with Windows 7.

If I do buy a new computer, it looks as if I will be moving to Open Office, after all it's free and certainly seems to do everything that I need, except that it does not have an equivalent of Publisher. Hopefully there will be something free out there!

One thing that I have learnt. When I get a new computer, the first thing that I will do once I have set it up and loaded my software, is to get a spare hard drive and make a clone or an image of the one in the computer. At least then, if something goes wrong I won't have to re-load all the software and settings from scratch.

"In your own words, please"

A friend of mine was a witness to a serious road accident recently in which a couple of pedestrians were hurt. In due course he went to make a formal statement “In your own words please”.
All went well until he got around to the matter of one of the drivers, when he said words to the effect that “the driver was wearing a loose fitting black cloth face mask in which was a small letter-box shaped slot, and which in my view severely restricted the driver’s peripheral vision”.
The response was “You mean a Niqab”.
My friend being very precise (annoyingly precise at times) responded, “No, I mean exactly what I said, and the word Niqab is not one of my own words”.
The difficult statement continued with him insisting on referring to “the driver” not “she” on the grounds that he was unaware of the person’s sex.
He continued by saying that the driver locked the doors of the car and refused to come out whilst conducting a long conversation on a mobile phone, even after the police arrived. In due course, a bearded man arrived which my friend described as “wearing a long white garment which resembled my grandfather’s nightgown and conducted a conversation with the driver in a foreign language”.
You can take it that the politically correct police were far from happy!

My friend has now received a witness summons for the magistrates’ court. It could be quite interesting.