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?"



Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Ebola Arrives in Britain

Ebola has arrived here, well at least to Scotland, having been carried to this country from Sierra Leone via Casablanca and Heathrow by a returning female health worker.

She was admitted initially to the Unit for Infectious Diseases at Gartnavel Hospital and a statement was issued saying that because "she was diagnosed in the very early stages of the disease, the threat to others is low". "Queen Nicola" issued a statement saying that “Scotland has been preparing for this possibility from the beginning of the outbreak in West Africa and I am confident that we are well prepared.”

Just how well prepared Scotland was for this eventuality is demonstrated by the fact that this morning the BBC news informed us that the patient has been transported from Glasgow to Northolt Airport by the RAF and taken in an RAF ambulance to the Royal Free Hospital in London which has Britain's only facility for dealing with highly infectious diseases.

So both the statements from Scotland appear to be untrue. I don't think if patient was in "the very early stages of the disease" she would have been transferred to the Royal Free Hospital in such a panic overnight, nor is "Queen Nicola's" statement that Scotland is prepared for such an eventuality, unless you consider that "being prepared" means having made arrangements to shift the problem to London.

On the surface, the Scottish NHS appears superior to that in England, but it is becoming clear that whilst it may appear superior to the majority of users in that it provides free prescriptions, free car parking and the like, it is clearly not investing in the modern high-tech facilities which are necessary if the service is to provide a full range of treatments for all types of illnesses. I just wonder whether any other types of cases are being transferred to English hospitals because suitable facilities are not available in Scotland. I just hope the English NHS and the RAF charge the Scottish NHS for the costs incurred in transport and treatment, or is this a further hidden subsidy to Scotland by the overtaxed English?

There are lots of questions to be asked about Britain's reaction to Ebola.
First and foremost is why our only centre for the treatment of infectious diseases is at a hospital in the heart of London? Surely, it should be as far away as reasonable from major population centres and certainly not in a very busy general hospital. If I was given a routine appointment at the "Royal Free", I'd probably turn it down! I would have thought isolation facilities should be at a secure site such as Porton Down where they study infectious diseases and are routinely used to taking extreme precautions against infection.

What happened to the airport checks on people coming from infected countries? This person apparently flew into Heathrow and then transferred to a BA flight to Glasgow. How comes it that the much publicised airport checks didn't identify the problem?

Other questions to be asked are about what efforts are being made to sterilise the aircraft involved and contact the other passengers. If the female concerned used the toilet during the flight, there would seem a high probability that anyone else using it could have picked up the infection. What about things that she touched, cutlery, glasses, etc which could also be infected and which is unlikely to be removed by a low temperature wash in a dish washer? What about the aircraft air circulation system? For once I hope that the appropriate trade unions are making a fuss on behalf of their aircrew members.

Now I have the greatest respect for all the health workers who are prepared to go and work in these hell-holes in Africa but the way they return is totally unacceptable. We need a proper quarantine centre somewhere in that part of the world, and all returning workers should have to spend an appropriate time there before travelling home.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Lets look at some non-UKIP politicians!

The media immediately latches onto any minor discretions of not only UKIP councillors and politicians, but even those of ordinary UKIP members

To balance the situation, Bloggers4UKIP have produced a "Round-up of LibLabCon, SNP and Green racists, fraudsters, sex offenders, perverts, drink drivers and general crooks in 2014".

It is worth just reading the subject titles listed to see what a load of crooks and perverts that have been elected to positions of power

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Longer Ambulance Waiting Times

We have been told in the news that we are likely to face longer ambulance waiting times in an emergency, and the impression given to the media by the NHS authorities is that this is due to a huge demand for the service.
But is this entirely true? Or is it a matter, as I believe, of one hand not telling the other what it is doing?
Locally, our nearest hospital's A&E has been closed. The distance from my home to this hospital is about 5 miles as compared with some 16 or so miles to what is now the nearest A&E. So however you look at it, many journey times are going to be at least three times longer than what they were last year. Not only that, but the old A&E was within a few hundred yards of the bus station, so for the "walking wounded" it was always possible to catch a local bus. Contrary wise, to get to the new A&E, you first have to catch a bus to the bus station and then the once an hour bus to the alternate hospital.
So it follows, that not only will there now be more users of the ambulance service, but each call will take considerably longer to complete, and will, of course cost more as well as putting the patient at risk for far longer than previously.
The local NHS Trust closed the local A&E to save money, and it is possible that this might be achieved because as far as I can ascertain there have been no improvements at the "new" A&E to cope with the additional work load.
The ambulances are run by a separate Trust; they will of course now have to spend far more if they are to provide the same service as before; ambulances are having to travel further which in itself will cost more and if they are to provide the same level of response, there will need to be probably twice the number available as required previously.
This seems typical of the Civil Service style of management which I experienced when I was working; Do everything possible to reduce your departmental costs and don't worry if your actions increase the costs of some other department, that's their worry, not yours!

Finally, a short story about a friend who was taken to the hospital following a bad fall when she twisted her ankle and banged her head, and in view of her age they decided to keep her in overnight for "observation". In the morning, she phoned another mutual friend and asked him to come and collect her. "Are you mobile?", he asked. "Yes, I am b***** mobile, I've been lying on a trolley all night and have been pushed from one place to another every few minutes, get me home so that I can have some sleep".

This is our "best in the world" NHS.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Nigel Farage at his best!


I liked this latest piece by Nigel Farage on the subject of Juncker
Note that for once some of the MEPs are clapping, not listening in stony silence as in the past.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Police Protection

In October, following a decision by CPS not to take criminal proceedings against a number of men for sex grooming in that they did not consider there was sufficient evidence, Birmingham City Council obtained civil orders against the 10 men barring the men from contacting a teenager and from approaching girls they did not know.
This followed an incident when a vulnerable teenager was found at a hotel with different men at different times, prompting social workers and police to investigate.
It has since emerged the 17-year-old girl who was sexually exploited by men in Birmingham is pregnant.
 
Both the Council and the Media would like to publish details of the men concerned but the police and lawyers for some of the men have objected to the release photographs of those involved because they said "they feared reprisals, embarrassment and suffering for their families".

Mr Justice Keehan expressed his surprise and commented that "The surest way of eradicating or ameliorating the risk of misidentification is ensuring the fullest possible details of each of the (men), including photographs, are made public and given wide coverage by the media".

The police said the men's details would be "shared in the right places with the right people" and that "We also have a duty to consider the impact of releasing the men's images on innocent family members, which include their partners and their own young children".

Just who do the police think they are protecting, vulnerable teenagers or these perverts and their families? What about others in the community who might be mistaken for those involved, what is the risk to them? Once again, the police seem to have got all their priorities wrong.

Fuller details in the Telegraph which shows a picture of three of those involved outside the court.

Incidentally, I haven't described those concerned as "Asian", as has most of the media, as I believe this is an affront to many decent people who come from that part of the world and are not representative of two particular counties having less than 10% of the total Asian population.


Monday, 15 December 2014

Labour's Election Strategy

According to a well-leaked party document, Labour party strategists are advising their activists to steer doorstep conversations away from immigration and on to healthcare and housing, in an attempt to win back UKIP waverers next May.

That's all right by me.

Lets start with healthcare and talk about the number of immigrants using our local hospital and particularly the maternity services. Why if you visit A&E, the majority of those awaiting treatment appear to be immigrants, probably there because all the local GP's lists are full.

Or perhaps they'd like discussion about housing and why we are having to build so many new homes on greenfield sites to house the ever increasing population brought about by immigration.

And perhaps if they've got some time to spare, we could move onto schools and why English speaking pupils are being held back due to the number of non-English speakers in the class.

Somehow, I don't think they would want to talk to me!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Torture

The use of torture to extract information from terror suspects and their associates has been headline news for the past few days following an American report on the actions of the CIA. Numerous well-meaning people have supported the premise that "Torture is Wrong".

When I was younger, I would have fully agreed with this statement; However, as I’ve got older I’ve become less idealistic and less certain that the statement is true. Since the end of World War Two, there hasn't been any time when there hasn't been a significant conflict taking place somewhere in the world often with appalling atrocities being carried out by one side or the other, the most recent being ISIS who are prepared to execute someone simply to produce a propaganda video.
 
Sayings such as “fight fire with fire” and the biblical “eye for an eye” seem to have increasing relevance to me when we are up against such evil organisations. Should we opt out of  activities which our enemies are perfectly willing to use? I am aware of the arguments that if one uses the barbaric methods of such people that one then forfeits the moral high ground, but retaining the high ground is no use if you lose the war.

So I now hold the view that there are circumstances under which torture can be justified and blanket statements such as “Torture is Wrong” are themselves wrong. I believe that it is justified when lives are at risk or it can be shown to be for the greater good. There are times when we simply have to trust those who are in charge of protecting us, and trust them to do what is appropriate at the time.

Ideally the invention of a so-called “truth drug” would solve the problem – or would it? Would it be torture to give a captive such a drug against his wishes?

Such a question in itself shows that there is no clear definition of torture; I read today that British troops have been told that when interrogating suspects they must not shout or bang the table! To me this is total madness! The way we are going, we may be morally correct, but the enemy is going to win.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

A real defector, a plant, or just on the make?

A scandal at UKIP - or is it?
UKIP's General Secretary, Roger Bird, has been suspended over allegations that he made improper approaches to a potential female Asian candidate.
Surprisingly, the media hasn't made such a fuss about this as one might have expected and one wonders whether this is because there is "more in this than meets the eye" and they don't want to take any risks with possible damages claims.

The female in question is Natasha Bolter and she was first seen at this year's UKIP conference when she was on the platform as a Labour defector.

She is described by the media as being a single mother of five children, Her maiden name was Ahmed, so one assumes that she was married at one time although the media has not mentioned an ex-husband. So she's hardly a single mother, she's either divorced, separated or widowed.

Roger Bird has taken the rather unusual course of publishing all her text messages that she'd sent him, and she hardly seems to be a reluctant participant in whatever happened! Roger is single, so there is no reason whatsoever why he should not pursue any woman of his choice provided that he does not offer her advancement within the party in exchange for sexual favours.

Her claim claim of a top degree in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University unravelled yesterday when the Wadham College (she spelt it Wadam) took the rare step of denying she had ever attended the institution.

So what was she, a real defector, a plant or just on the make?
I don't think she was a plant; if she'd come from the Tories, I would probably have taken that view, but some how I don't see it as a Labour tactic. Was she a real defector, I'm inclined to say no, as if she had been, she wouldn't have resigned from UKIP at the start of this saga but stood her ground.
I tend towards the belief that she was "found out" by Labour and realised that she would never achieve candidate status and so looked for another home. She picked UKIP as a suitable choice,  knowing, quite rightly, that as a female from an ethnic minority she'd be welcome if only to prove that the party wasn't racist or anti-female. Perhaps Roger Bird realised this and rejected her as a candidate with the resultant harassment complaint.

Time will tell, but as usual in cases like this, no-one emerges smelling of roses and the innocent party (if there is one) invariably suffers with the guilty.

Whatever the outcome, the party will have learnt a valuable lesson, be wary of new members who join the party and rapidly seek a position of importance. UKIP is going to have to be somewhat more professional in vetting its candidates for all posts where they could harm the party.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Farage on breastfeeding.

Certain elements of the media are castigating Nigel Farage for suggesting that women should be more discrete about breastfeeding their babies in public.
"Nigel Farage says breastfeeding women should sit in a corner" screamed the media and all the feminist tweeters and blog sites. No he didn't, he merely suggested that some people feel very embarrassed by it, it isn't too difficult to breastfeed a baby in a way that's not openly ostentatious, perhaps by sitting in a corner.
To me this was a reasonable suggestion, why not be discrete and try to avoid upsetting anyone; surely this is simple good manners.
When our children were young, some forty years ago, we would have been refused entry to many restaurants if they were with us, and, even if we were allowed in, we would be seated where we weren't easily seen by most diners. We were staggered when we went to Sweden for a holiday and tentatively entered a restaurant to be met by a waiter who immediately rushed to get a high chair for our youngest and produced a children's menu. At that time, such things were unheard of in England!

There are times that I wish things were still like that when you have to put up with some of the children nowadays. Last week we went to a normally peaceful pub for Sunday lunch, but it was ruined by two boys, probably about 5 or 6 years old who were playing some chasing game in and out of the tables, and when they weren't doing that, they were shouting at the top of their voices. Their parents seemed to see nothing wrong with this and I was about to say something when another customer did so in far more forceful terms than I would have done. The parents looked visibly shocked. Why should anyone object to their boy's games? You don't expect boys of that age to sit quietly at a table, do you? My answer would have been  "Yes, I do". My grandson, six years old next month, can be taken to a restaurant and will sit still and behave at the table. We quite enjoy taking him out, and whilst he's a terrible chatterbox between courses, it's not so loud as to disturb other diners.

Unfortunately the attitude of a few, seems to be to question anyone's right to be offended by their actions and so they see no need to consider whether what they are doing might offend someone as their own needs are paramount. Farage is right, people should be show more consideration for others, unfortunately these days "rights" seem to be more important than "responsibilities". Oh for a return to the so-called "polite society".

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Former councillor charged with defrauding council she sat on

I'm a week late with this item, but did anyone read about this in the MSM or see it on television?
Can you guess what party the councillor belonged to?  Perhaps, quite reasonably, you will have concluded that it wasn't a UKIP councillor as, if it had been, it would have been headline  news in much of the media and on BBC TV news.

But it wasn't UKIP, so the news went no further than the local paper as the ex-councillor was a female Labour councillor who had falsely claimed an allowance for child care .whilst carrying out council duties.

We wouldn't expect the BBC to mention such a trivial matter as UKIP wasn't involved!

In "Wigan Today"

Monday, 1 December 2014

What if . . . . . ?

The news lately has been about the language employed by Andrew Mitchell towards the policemen who were guarding Downing Street and it seems that the word "pleb" was considered  far more offensive than the attached swearword. What a strange world we live in when swearwords no longer seem to offend and have almost become part of everyday language.
We also have had the case of David Mellor ranting at a taxi-driver and it seems that this wasn't the first occasion when he had done something like this.
Now if these had been unimportant people, it would still have been wrong, but one was a senior politician in the present government, the other had held a senior posts in a previous government.

These are people who might have easily represented this country at international meetings in the presence of world leaders and the world media. What would people think of this country if one of our politicians, one of our representatives, lost his temper and launched a foul-mouthed tirade at some unfortunate underling, or perhaps worse, one of the other delegates.

Let's stretch our imagination a bit further. Suppose either of them by some mischance had managed to become Prime Minister at a time when international relations with, say Russia, were at an all time low. Imagine one of their fingers on the nuclear button, and Putin saying something disagreeable on the phone. Losing his temper, he announces that he is going to fix that F----ing Russian for once and for all and presses the button.

Perhaps I've got too much imagination, but however you look at it, people who can't control their temper and abuse subordinates should never be allowed anywhere near government.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Immigration

There has been a lot of talk about immigration over the past few weeks, no doubt brought to a head by UKIP's by-election victories.
The media has said a lot about Cameron's recent speech, but what has he said, and will it actually happen? Will it be allowed to happen by the EU or even our own courts? And the thousand dollar question, will his proposals, even if implemented, make any difference?

My view is that the proposed measures will make no significant difference. The minimum wage here is considerably more than in the old east bloc countries so people wanting to work will still come.

And will the proposals be allowed by the EU or indeed our courts?
One suspects that those new arrivals who have no money and no accommodation will not be left to starve as it won’t be long before a court rules that it is against their human rights and the state must give them benefits.

In any case, it is not EU immigration that most of us are worried about, it is those coming from non-EU countries, particularly from third word Islamic countries where they have a totally different "culture" to anything we would have imagined a few years ago. Who would have thought even 10 years ago that we would have gangs of "Asian" youths roaming the streets of some of our towns sexually abusing our children and teenagers. Who would have thought that we would have an estimated 1700 cases of child abuse in just one town. Who would have thought we would have people living in our country who believe in FGM and subjugating women by violence along with so-called "honour killing", a euphemism if ever there was one.

No, we are not over concerned about EU immigration, except possibly for the Roma, but we are concerned about other immigration and Cameron's proposals make no mention of this whatsoever.

We should also be concerned about emigration. A large number of those leaving are not recent immigrants returning home, but long term British citizens who have decided “enough is enough” and are leaving for other destinations, mainly in the "Anglosphere".  Unfortunately, from the UK point of view, these countries only let in qualified people whom they require, essentially doctors, nurses, teachers, scientists and engineers, and as a result we are losing the very people that we most need if the country is to have a real future. It's strange, but there doesn't seem to be any great demand from abroad for PPE graduates like many of our ruling class, I wonder why?

Our politicians are only addressing a tiny part of the problem, a part which palls into insignificance compared with the part which most of the public are concerned about.


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Iraq (& Syria)

I've been reading the arguments about aerial intervention against ISIS in Iraq. I agree with the present proposals, Iraq has asked for help and it should be given where we can, although I have considerable doubt as to what can be achieved from the air. There are times that I suspect that a good old-fashioned Spitfire, using its cannons, could achieve more against a scattered mobile enemy than the latest high-tech bombs.

Syria is a totally different matter; Assad may be a nasty piece of work, but his election as president was at least as legitimate as many others around the world whom we are happy to tolerate. Our intervention against another nasty dictator in Libya has hardly been a roaring success. The fact is that past dictators throughout the Middle and Near East maintained reasonable calm for most ordinary people as long as they kept out of politics, and what has replaced them is largely chaos.

The problems, of course go, back to the time that the British and French carved up the middle east by drawing lines on a map and creating countries which took no account of tribal, ethnic or religious boundaries. It's a bit late now to do anything about it, but I would certainly favour the establishment of a proper Kurdish state if this could be achieved.

My main concern, however, is that the government does not appear to have done much within this country to improve our security from insider attacks. To me, the scandal in Rotherham serves to illustrate how scared our authorities are to do something which might upset the Muslim population, and one fears that they could be looking the other way with regards to security issues just as they did with abuse. Preventing potential jihadists from leaving the country by withdrawing passports hardly seems a solution, and stamping something across their passports like "Not Valid for Entry into UK" would seem a more sensible approach, even if it is against EU law. Forcing these potential jihadists to stay in the country surely increases the risk of terrorist action by these dissidents.

According to the Mail, the government has agreed to buy 20 Tomahawk missiles at a cost of over a million pounds each for use against ISIS. As I noted above, it is hard to see how these would be of much use against a scattered enemy, and seems to illustrate the problems of using high-tech weapons against a low-tech enemy, and I suspect that they will be no more use against ISIS than they would have been against the IRA in Northern Ireland.

My view, for what it is worth, is that the £20,000,000 would have provided better protection for UK residents if it had been spent on the security services and improved border control.

Friday, 19 September 2014

A "No" Vote - So what is next?

Scotland has voted to stay in the Union. In spite of all the polls which tended to suggest a "close run thing", it was "No" by a decent margin which one hopes will put the issue to bed for a generation. Why were the polls so far out? My instinct says that a large number of Scots keep themselves to themselves and probably were recorded as "undecided", or, in certain areas simply said what the pollsters expected to hear for fear of intimidation.

The three party leaders at Westminster offered a load of last minute bribes to Scotland should they stay in the Union, but these have got to be approved by Westminster and many MPs are unhappy that the English were not consulted as it would seem that they will undoubtedly carry any extra costs. And, of course, there remains the so-called "West Lothian" question with Scottish MPs being able to vote on English legislation, whilst English MPs are unable to vote on those same issues in Scotland, as they have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

It is clear that Westminster will now be forced to address this issue and there a number of solutions. Simply saying that Scottish MPs can't vote at Westminster on English issues could give major problems. What happens if country as a whole decided to elect a Labour government, but on English issues there was a Tory majority?

If the referendum has achieved one thing, it is that Westminster will have no option as to produce significant constitutional reforms. It seems doubtful that these will be introduced during the remains of this Parliament and I suspect we will have to wait until the next. Hopefully the parties will come forward with detailed proposals in their manifestos.

The next political event is of course the forthcoming by-elections, particularly at Clacton where the sitting MP changed his allegiance to UKIP and, unusually, called for a by-election, rather than simply hanging onto his seat. Let's hope he gets back with a huge majority as this will at last prove that UKIP is beginning to be a force in UK politics following the election of so many UKIP MEPs

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Scottish Independence

Up to now, I have avoided getting involved in the debate about Scottish Independence. The English part of me suggests it is a good idea, because it is a step nearer English Independence and more likely to produce a right wing government at Westminster. The Traditional part of me (I no longer regard myself as British) feels that it would be a great pity to break up the Union. If I had a say in the matter, I would like to see separate parliaments for the four parts of Britain, each with identical powers, leaving Westminster as a National Government to deal with such matters as Foreign Policy, Defence, etc.

But that is not going to happen and over the recent days I have become steadily more appalled by the behaviour of the "yes" campaigners with the increasing violence and intimidation. As a result, I will now be pleased if the Scots vote "yes" as I feel they are no longer the type of people that I want to be associated with.

So I asked myself, why are the Scots behaving like this? Why do they take everything that Salmond says at face value? The conclusion that I reached was that it was partly because far too many of the well-educated Scots, who would listen to the arguments and might support a "No" vote, have left the country to find work and careers elsewhere. Those that are left are reluctant to speak out after seeing how others have been threatened by what we are assured (but I don't believe) is a tiny number of extremists from the Yes camp.

My son-in-law is Scottish, has a good degree, and working here in England. He is doing well and admits that he would never have got to his present position in Scotland, if indeed such a position exists. His sister, also well qualified, is working in London with a well known law firm. But the interesting thing is the number of cousins they have spread around the world in the so-called Anglosphere, most of whom are university graduates and have left Scotland to find a career elsewhere.

One also notes the large number of individuals of Scottish descent who are in public life in England; quite a few MPs for English constituencies come from Scotland as well as many senior businessmen and company directors. In some ways Scotland is beginning to look like France after the revolution when they slaughtered the Aristos. Scotland is not slaughtering anyone, but large numbers of the well educated are leaving with the result that many of those whom Scotland will need to lead the country have left long ago. There is no logical reason to believe this will change following independence, so is Scotland heading to a future where employment is largely manual work and call-centres?

But I fear this is also happening in England. Far too many poorly educated immigrants are causing the well educated with ambitions to ask whether this is the country in which to pursue their careers. Talking to my friends and acquaintances, I've discovered that we are amongst the small minority who do not have children or grandchildren who have emigrated. As with Scotland, these are people that the country can ill-afford to lose, mostly having a good university education or sought after skills. Just as I'm convinced Scotland will go down hill without these people, so will England if nothing is done.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Just One More Reason for Supporting UKIP

Peter Hitchins writes in the Sunday Mail that
Brussels distributed more than £300 million of taxpayers’ money in Ukraine between 2007 and 2013. It went to all kinds of lucky recipients, so it is no great surprise that Kiev blossomed with EU flags last winter during the violent mob putsch which so many idiots in the West supported.
Why? Why spend our money, largely as bribes, on a corrupt non-EU state? What has this done for the people of Europe other than bringing them nearer to a conflict with Russia? From a Russian point of view, with which one might agree or disagree, the EU has already gobbled up the old east bloc states which were once part of their sphere of influence, and, now in Russian eyes, the EU is seeking to include Ukraine in a pan-Europe Empire largely influenced by Germany with the assistance of France.

Russia was invaded by Germany in the Second World War, and a century earlier by the French led by Napoleon. The EU has, in the past, claimed that it would like to see a single trading zone from the Atlantic to the Urals; unfortunately, as we have seen, they want to dominate far more than trade.

Elsewhere, the news is of a major NATO meeting in Wales. Apparently Ukraine is seeking membership of NATO! What part of Ukraine wants admission to NATO? The whole of the country as it was, say last year, before the recent events? Were this so, we would be admitting a country where part is already in foreign hands, and thus the NATO powers would be obliged to fight to recover it. If it is the de facto Ukraine as it is now, it would be recognising the Russian annexation of part of the country.

World War Two was brought about mainly by Hitler invading Poland and our coming to their defence. These days, I suspect it would be very difficult to get the British people to accept the need to go to war over Poland; what hope would NATO have of convincing this country it should get involved in a war over Ukraine? Let's hope our government, for once, shows a bit of common sense.

To me the only solution is to get out of the EU and regardless of what Cameron says about his "pretend" renegotiations, I still believe that the only way forward is UKIP.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Rotherham Child Abuse Scandal

There is little one can say on the above subject except that it seems all those in the local council and police force who ignored the problem will "get away with it" and indeed will probably be promoted. I expect it is too much to hope that a lawyer will take up the case of some of the victims and seek damages from those officials concerned.

However, reading the reports, I do wish the media would stop referring to the offenders as Asian when what they mean is that they were of Pakistani or Bangladeshi origin. During my working years, I have had, and indeed still have, some good friends from other parts of Asia and I am sure that they find this constantly recurring description grossly offensive. There is no problem about referring to, say, Chinese when there is a problem with people originating from that country, so why this hang up over Pakistanis?

According to Wikipedia, the Pakistan population represents a 4.29 % and the Bangladesh population 3.61% of the population of Asia, about 8% in all. Why offend the 92% of the Asian population who have nothing to do with these events?

 

Monday, 25 August 2014

The Middle East

I've already made it clear that I do not feel our government is being sufficiently pro-active in trying to produce a plan to safeguard this country from the events in the Middle East. Indeed, from reports in the media it is difficult not to reach the conclusion that our government hasn't got the slightest idea what to do about the Middle East and is merely acting in response to events  rather than trying to anticipate them.
I would have hoped that the government, by now, would have got together all the various experts from the Civil Service, the Military, the security services, etc, and tried to come up with a detailed analysis of the situation and the possible scenarios that might result. That should include, not only what action, if any, to take in the Middle East, but also, in my view more importantly, an analysis of the threat to this country from extremists resident here and any returning from abroad.

Our record on dealing with terrorists hardly gives much confidence; as Theresa May writes in the Telegraph, "69 people have been arrested for offences relating to terrorism in Syria; so far, 12 have been charged and four have been successfully prosecuted". Hardly an inspiring record!
So far, a mere 23 people have had their passports withdrawn because it was suspected they might be heading for Syria; as Breitbart points out, this hardly compares favourably with the 1400 football supporters/hooligans  who had their passports withdrawn to stop them travelling to Brazil.  Clearly our police know more about football than terrorism!

As I said previously, I favour an isolationist policy and take the view that we should do absolutely nothing in the Middle East unless it can be shown that our inaction would have a direct effect on our security in this country. Our interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya can hardly be called a roaring success.

We should be concentrating all our effort in dealing with the situation at home, identifying and weeding out potential terrorists. Those responsible for radicalisation need to be identified and prosecuted. If we don't have the laws to deal with the situation, Parliament should set about enacting some suitable legislation, ideally as a cross-party endeavour.
So far all we seem to have is lots of knee-jerk proposals from various politicians, followed by others telling us we couldn't possibly do that because it would infringe someone's rights. Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have all come up with ideas in the last week or so, only for some one else to argue that we couldn't possibly do that because it would infringe some law. The most laughable suggestion, apparently from the Home Office, is that there should be some form of ASBO for potential terrorists: "You are banned from being a suicide bomber, if you infringe this ban you will be jailed"!

Last week, Nigel Farage proposed that the Government strip militants with joint nationality of their UK citizenships, and withdraw passports from British citizens who want to travel to the jihad. He also wanted to see those who do not hold UK citizenship but have been granted the right to live here, have that right revoked immediately. I can't see anything wrong with this idea, but apparently it would be contrary to international agreement to make people stateless.
Boris Johnson has suggested that there should be a basic assumption that anyone returning from the war-torn areas has been participating in the conflict unless the individual can prove otherwise. This is, of course, contrary to the basic British law presumption that one is innocent until proved guilty. However, there is a way around this; America has laws by which it can ban people from going to specified countries unless they get prior permission by showing good cause, such as being a news reporter. This doesn't stop anyone from breaking the law and going to these countries, but does enable them to be prosecuted on return.

Then, what's happened to our treason laws? Don't the laws about aiding and abetting or consorting with an enemy still apply to British citizens? Can't British citizens returning from the war zone be charged with treason?

Come on, its time that Parliament and our Government earned their living and came up with a plan to deal with the threat to this country instead of engaging in the usual "Ya-bo" politics which seems to be all that they can manage these days.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Ebola

The Telegraph today reports that the British Health Care worker who has caught Ebola in Sierra Leone is being flown back to the UK on an RAF flight.

I have nothing against this, indeed I think it is the right thing to do. But I am somewhat surprised that he is to be taken to the Royal Free Hospital in north London where there are appropriate isolation facilities. It seems rather strange that the major hospital with suitable isolation facilities should be located in such a densely populated area and not in, for want of a better phrase, some more isolated spot.

Professor John Watson, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said: "UK hospitals have a proven record of dealing with imported infectious diseases and this patient will be isolated and will receive the best care possible." Let's hope this is true, in that I'm far from impressed by the way the NHS manages to deal with hospital acquired infections such as MRSA.

That being said, I wish the patient well. I certainly would not have wanted to go out to that part of Africa as a medical worker and I admire the courage of those who do.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Isolationism

I'm beginning to believe in isolationism; Wherever possible we should keep out of other peoples' problems; we keep being told that we no longer have an empire so why should we continue to be the world's policemen?
Certainly our interventions have achieved very little; in broad terms this country's involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya can't be claimed to have improved things in those countries by any stretch of imagination. Indeed, all that it seems to have done is to turn Muslims worldwide against the West and against Britain and America in particular.
The Middle East problems at this time are clearly of great concern, a quasi-religious organisation going under the name of the Islamic State has captured large swathes of Syria and Iraq in the wake of the unrest in these countries. It has declared the new Caliphate will extend from the Mediterranean through to the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea where they intend to establish a most extreme form of Sharia Law. It seems to be getting organised, in that, what was a ramshackle mob in pick-up trucks, managed to cause the Iraq army in the north of the country to flee leaving them with a considerable amount of modern military equipment, kindly supplied by the Americans to the Iraqi army. They have killed huge numbers of people during their rampage which has received relatively little publicity compared with the assault by Israeli troops on Hamas in Gaza.
The only real resistance they face, at present, is from the Kurds and the Peshmerga fighters. However their weapons are old fashioned and the don't have the armour and longer range weapons available to their attackers.
The other quandary is Syria, where the whole problem started. Thankfully, our Parliament voted against providing arms and assistance to those fighting Assad which, for once, seems to have been the right thing to do as these are the fighters which have now become the forces of the Islamic State. I am aware that Assad in Syria is a nasty bit of work, but until the so-called "Arab Spring", he maintained law and order, and more importantly protected the minority religions.

My concern at the moment is that the government at this time seems to be simply watching events unfold and seems to have no clue as to what to do. Surely those responsible at the Foreign Office, Intelligence Services and the Military should be conducting a serious study of the different possible scenarios that might develop in the Middle East along with a further study of the threats posed by Muslim extremists within this country? In my view, Cameron should be kicking people into action, not surfing from a Cornish beach.

The next problem area is Ukraine, and here I'm in favour of an total policy of non-involvement. What have the events in Ukraine to do with us? We have absolutely no interests in the area and if Russia wants to take over Ukraine, so what? How does it impact on this country? It seems to be a corrupt basket case of a country and why the EU wants to get involved beats me and gives yet another reason for wanting to be out of the EU.

Meanwhile, I would observe that haven't read any reports in the media that "Baroness" Warsi, or any of the Muslim MPs have expressed their concern over the murder of James Foley. Indeed, I haven't read of any representative Muslin organisation in the UK which has expressed any regrets, which I'm sure must be a matter of concern to many people.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Shopping

It was decreed by Mrs EP that we would go into the nearest town to shop for some clothes. I apparently needed some new trousers and slippers and she needed sundry female items.  As the bus stop is only about five minutes walk from home, we decided to take advantage of our pensioners' bus passes, which, if nothing else, saves the hassle and cost of parking.
My needs were easily satisfied, trousers from BHS and a pair of slippers for under a fiver from Shoe Zone. Then came the boring part, traipsing into numerous women's clothes shops and waiting whilst various items of clothing were tried on and rejected.

Which belatedly brings me to the point; When we were in the States a few years ago, all the larger women's shops seemed to have an area with chairs and magazines for the menfolk. Some even provided free coffee. Contrast that with here, very few shops have anywhere to sit, with the result that most husbands seem be urging their wives to hurry up and make up their minds. I'm sure that any shop which adopted the American approach would see an increase in business; given a comfortable chair and a newspaper to read I would be quite happy to wait whilst vital decisions were made about female clothing. Come on M&S, provide a few comfortable chairs for us husbands, it wouldn't cost much and could possibly do wonders for your falling sales.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Holiday in Cormwall

We've just returned from a couple of weeks in Cornwall. A couple of close friends of ours "emigrated" to Cornwall from Hertfordshire earlier this year in order to be closer to their family and they invited us to join then for a holiday.
The holiday season was starting, and whilst the towns were crowded, the countryside remains quite peaceful once you can get used to the concept of driving down lanes which are little wider than the car! Life runs at a totally different pace; at the local village shop you have to get used to the idea that, however long the queue, a chat at the counter is mandatory. No one seems to mind, it's just part of the way of life. Time seems to be unimportant, nothing happens at, say, three o'clock, it is always "three-ish" which seems to mean sometime between three and four! My friend wants some work done on his patio, and the local builder suggests he will be able to get round to it "October-ish"!

The village has most of the essentials that might be required on a day-to-day basis. Firstly, the shop cum Post Office, which seems to stock a huge number of items in quite a small space. If you are out when the postman tries to deliver a parcel, it is held at the shop for collection, not ten miles away in a sorting office at the post-town. There is a school for the children under eleven, although this was irrelevant to my friends whose youngest granddaughter has just had her 21st birthday. There is also a doctors' surgery, a "branch" of the main one in Truro and a friendly pub which sells decent beers and huge meals (the smaller meals for the "young at heart" were too much for me!). The village has a bus service, but as there are only three or four buses a day, so you have to plan carefully if you are going to use it.
The village church has six bells, and I was welcomed at their weekly practice, but unfortunately was unable to ring for the Sunday Service as we'd been invited to lunch by our friends' daughter-in-law. There are lots of activities in and around the area, indeed there are probably more than we have here as everyone seem to be involved in something or the other.
 
All this took me back to my childhood days when we lived in a small village in Northamptonshire where my parents had rented a cottage to get away from the bombing in London. I'm sure our friends did the right thing moving to Cornwall, it is nice to be close to one's family. If it wasn't that our own daughters/son-in-laws live and work in the home counties, I think we'd be off like a shot.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Home Office paedophile cover up?


Some 30 years ago, back in 1983, a Conservative MP Geoffrey Dickens passed a bundle of papers to the then Home Secretary Leon Brittan containing allegations of paedophiles within Westminster. Lord Brittan has now confirmed he received a 'substantial bundle of papers’ from Mr Dickens when he was Home Secretary in 1983 and passed them to his officials for investigation.
So far, so good, everybody seems to be in agreement that far, but it is what happened after that seems to be a mystery, although the Home Office has now admitted that the Dickens dossier was subsequently destroyed.
These events have all the makings of a good conspiracy story and it has been announced that the Home Office is to appoint a senior legal figure to carry out a fresh review into how it handled a dossier. Other MPs are now demanding an " an overarching inquiry" into how abusers were allowed to operate within the public services in this country.

We seem to love enquiries in this country, all the way from Bloody Sunday to Hillsborough, Phone Hacking, the Iraq War, Jimmy Savile and now this. I'm sure they are all justified, the cost seems to be many billions and at times one wonders if there is not a better way of dealing with these matters.

The Daily Mail has an interesting piece. To me the more interesting part is not the story of  Sir Peter Hayman, but the attitudes of a large number of prominent people and how they "closed ranks" against this "working-class oik from  the North of England". Many are still around today and it is interesting to read what they said 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, I have a question of my own. If I were handing over a bundle of documents to anyone, I'm certain that I would keep photocopies. Surely an MP who had carried out all these investigations would have kept copies of the papers. So where are they now, or were they, too, destroyed by someone when he died?

Monday, 30 June 2014

Rape in Slough

As I live only a few miles to the north of Slough in leafy Buckinghamshire, I have some interest in what happens in Slough. My nearest Hospital with A and E facilities is at Wexham Park since High Wycombe Hospital closed its A and E department in order "To improve the service to the public". I occasionally go to Slough to support the local bell-ringers but it really a lost cause in what is no longer a predominately Christian area.

Yesterday the news reported that a teenager had been gang raped in some woodland on the outskirts of the town, and today we are told by the Mail that "Four men have been arrested by detectives investigating the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl in a secluded woodland".

The Sky report described those being sought were of "Asian Origin",  but the Mail, for once, seems to shy away from the subject. Those living locally, of course, immediately jump to the obvious conclusion, as they are fully aware of the origin of the current majority population in Slough. However, any genuinely independent observer would surely think about the Chinese, after all, they are probably the largest ethnic group in Asia.

I have considerable sympathy for all the other Asians who are lumped together with the relatively small numbers of Asians of Pakistani/Bangladeshi descent, of whom the Police, the Media and, of course, politicians collude to avoid actually mentioning by name. I'm sure if, say, a crime was committed by a Chinese Triad, the police wouldn't say they were looking for members of an "Asian Triad"!

Over the years, I have had a number of colleagues of Asian descent and I'm sure they must be upset about this constant reference to "Asian suspects". Why should those who I have known and have come from Hong Kong, Burma, Sri Lanka and India, be lumped in with this relatively small group of Asians from the north of the Indian sub-continent? Why should the couple who run the local newsagent, whom I know are Christians of Indian origin, be lumped in the minds of many with some rapists living down the road in Slough?

One thing that surprises me somewhat is that, as far as I am aware, none of the ambassadors of the countries such as I have mentioned have made a complaint to the Foreign Office about this constant slurring of their citizens. I just wish one would!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

"Disconnected" UKIP Voters

Labour's Chuka Umunna (a potential future Labour leader) claims that
‘a lot’ of people who voted for UKIP in its European elections victory were not computer literate and did not have basic online skills.
Judging by friends in my age group, this statement demonstrates the total disconnect of Umunna from the older population!

All my friends have computers or iPads and certainly know how to send e-mails and search the internet. It seems likely they are probably more clued up on the news that many younger people simply because they have time to read, not only the news on-line, but also various blogs of their choice. It is probably because of this, and the fact that they are so well informed, that they voted UKIP, not because they were disconnected!
My wife is interested in Family History Research and now does much of it on line, both for herself and friends. She also uses Facebook to keep an eye on what more distant members of the family and friends are up to. Most of our friends also seem to be capable of using Skype to keep in touch with their families in far flung places, we are an exception simply because both our daughters live locally. Another friend, who recently had a fall and is unable to drive for the time being, summoned her grandson to come and teach her about on-line shopping and has become totally converted to it, particularly when it comes to her weekly supermarket shop which is delivered to her kitchen door.
The one thing that most of us oldies are wary about is on-line banking; there is so much in the media about hacking that we'd rather be safe than sorry.

An aside,
We've just been looking at my teenage great-niece's Facebook page. It would appear that having a Great Aunt is considered to be far more prestigious than a Grandmother, of which she has both. I must remind my sister next time I see her!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

ISIS in Britain

The Telegraph reports that

The Prime Minister warned that the current crisis in Iraq must not be dismissed as a foreign problem because the same terrorists are planning to “attack us here at home in the United Kingdom”. 

Unfortunately,  other than drawing the public's attention to the problem, he gives no indication as to what the government is proposing to do about the problem.
His reported responses, at Question Time in Parliament, cast no light on what steps, if any, the government is proposing to take, other than telling us that:
British born extremists fighting in Iraq and Syria now represent the most serious threat to our security.

This, and his other answers, when examined closely, amount to little more than meaningless waffle. Clearly he believes that having drawn attention to the problem he has done his duty and the problem will go away. He tells us that:
The right answer is to be long term, hard-headed, patient and intelligent with the interventions that we make, and the most important intervention of all is to make sure that these governments are fully representative of the people who live in their countries, that they close down the ungoverned space, and they remove the support for the extremists.

What on earth has that got to do with the threat that within this country caused by returning extremists?

The United States has laws by which they can ban people from visiting proscribed countries without specific permission. Of course this does not stop anyone going to these countries, but if, on returning, there is evidence that they have been to such countries, they can be charged with a criminal offence and imprisoned if found guilty.

Surely, as a minimum, we could do the same. Were the government to declare ISIS as an enemy of this country, one would have thought that any British Citizens consorting with them would be guilty of treason, and here my only regret is that the Blair government removed the death penalty for treason.
Additionally, it would appear that many of those going to the Middle East from this country are not British Citizens, but "refugees" or "asylum seekers" with "leave to remain". This "leave" can be withdrawn and the Home Office should make it clear that this will be done in the case of anyone who visits the Middle East. If they willingly return to the countries from which they came, they are hardly refugees!

Cameron has admitted that extremists present a grave danger to this country, now he has to show that he is taking real action rather than talking about the problem.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Islamic Extremism

Tony Blair has published a defence of his actions in Iraq and is now arguing for more intervention due to the ISIS extremists taking over the north of the country. In rebuttal, General Sir Michael Rose accuses him of self delusion whilst Boris Johnson writes in the Telegraph 
" I have come to the conclusion that Tony Blair has finally gone mad".
He continues
"He wrote an essay on his website on Sunday that struck me as unhinged in its refusal to face facts. In discussing the disaster of modern Iraq he made assertions that are so jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly at variance with reality that he surely needs professional psychiatric help."
I do hope both Boris' and the Telegraph's lawyers passed what what was written!

To me, it seems quite clear that the war in Iraq served to cause those Islamic organisations and countries which never had any animosity towards Britain to become "anti-Western", and for many to adopt extremist attitudes. Not only do we have ISIS operating in Iraq and Syria but also Boko Harem in Nigeria as well as al-Shabaab in Kenya, all of which are Islamic extremists prepared to kill and maim anyone who doesn't agree with their creed.

The worrying part, to me, is what is happening in this country. There are some 3 million Muslims living here and in the past year about another 300,000 people have been given British citizenship, the majority, one must assume coming from our erstwhile colonies in the Indian sub-continent, as EU citizens coming here have no reason to take out British citizenship.

Now if just a tenth of 1% of those Muslims in this country are extremists, that would represent a considerable force of some 3,000 or so who, if ISIS is anything to go by, could cause considerable havoc.

In order to visualise what damage such a small force could do, you only have to look at the damage that the IRA caused here. More to the point, one has to remember that the IRA had very little support here, whereas Muslim extremists could readily hid amongst amongst their own sort, who, whilst they would not necessarily approve of the extremists' action, are unlikely to do anything to prevent them if only because their religion effectively prohibits them from "telling tales".

Remember also that the IRA did their best to avoid getting killed or captured and this would to some extent limited their possible targets. In contrast, Islamic extremists, have no concern about being killed fighting for their cause, believing that they will end up in Paradise.

As the Israelis have discovered, it is extremely difficult to deal with suicide bombers as any attempt to arrest or search them merely leads to them detonating their bomb.

I just hope our authorities have given some real though to what could happen here and have some viable plans for dealing with such a situation when potentially some 5% of the population could be giving tacit support to the such extremists.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Talking in Class

Both the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail have reports today about an 11 year old girl who had her mouth taped shut with a piece of Sellotape for 15 minutes because she kept chattering in class. Her father has complained to the school and demanded that the teacher should be suspended.

This shows what happens when you remove virtually all the sanctions that teachers can apply against disruptive children. In my day, parents for were invariably supportive of their children's teachers, but these days the opposite is frequently true. Suppose this girl had been given, say, a hundred lines, no doubt the father would have been complaining that it was a totally pointless punishment. If she had been suspended for perhaps a week, the father would have complained that it was excessive and disrupting his daughter's education. What the father doesn't seem to understand is that his daughter's chattering was not only disrupting her education, but also that of some thirty other children. Regrettably, it's a no win situation for many teachers many of whom enter the profession full of enthusiasm, but after a few years simply end up going along with the flow leading to many of our failing schools.

This sort of behaviour is one of the reasons that many parents who can afford to send their children to a private school do so, and why many thousands of others would do the same if only they could afford it. When you are spending good money on you child's education you expect value for money and expect your child to behave in class and try to absorb what is being taught. Thus you would be very supportive of a teacher who punished your child's misbehaviour in an appropriate manner. Additionally, other parents would not want their own children's education to be harmed by a disruptive child and would soon be complaining to the school if the disruption continued. Thus everyone favours order and discipline, and the school can get on with its main job of educating children.

The exact reverse seems to apply in state schools where everybody seems to condone bad behaviour except the teacher concerned.

Incidentally, this incident took place last December, and the father has complained not only to the head teacher, but also to the local education authority and Ofsted. He is now demanding that the teacher should be suspended, which is why it is back in the news. The father said that he was reluctant to send his child back to the school, but did so after she said she was missing her friends. So if she hadn't missed her friends, he wouldn't have sent her back to school! Personally, I think that his child should be suspended for disruptive behaviour and the school governors should give the teacher their full support. But as it is, the child now knows she can get away with almost anything and will no doubt continue to disrupt no only her own education, but also that of the others in her class.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Cameron and Apologies

I read in various newspapers that following then spat between Michael Gove and Theresa May over the Islamification of schools in Birmingham, Michael Gove was "ordered to apologise to the Prime Minister and to Charles Farr, a senior official at the Home Office".

I find this amazing. The fact that some unknown Civil Servant, believed to be the Cabinet Secretary, can order a cabinet member to make an apology is weird and to my mind throws considerable doubt on Cameron's abilities as a manager.

That aside,  how can you order somebody to apologise?
Surely a person who is ordered to say "Sorry" is unlikely to mean what they say and show genuine remorse for what they have done, and thus giving such an apology becomes a totally pointless activity. Indeed, a reluctant apology is more likely to make things worse, the one giving it resents having to do so and the one receiving it knows that it has no meaning.

But why didn't Cameron sort out the problem himself? When I was working, arguments between my staff were fortunately few and far between, but when they occurred, I had to sort them out and would have considered myself a failure if I'd had to call upon the Personnel (now HR) Department for assistance. It meant, of course, that I had to make a judgement of who was in the wrong, but that was all part of the job. Invariably I got the matter sorted out and things settled down. Certainly, I wouldn't have even thought of ordering either party to apologise, either to the other or to myself, that was left entirely up to them.

So why didn't Cameron do anything himself, after all he has far more power over members of the cabinet than I had over my staff. He could get rid of them next time the cabinet is shuffled whereas all I could do, in the limit, was to issue a formal warning or mark them down in their annual reports. To my mind this shows up Cameron more than Gove or May; a good manager should have realised that trouble was on the way and taken preventative action. Even then, when trouble occurred, why did Cameron off-load the problem to a Civil Servant? He's the boss, for goodness sake. Why not "I want you both in my office at 9 am in the morning without fail"? That's how things are done in the real world!

From my point of view, this whole affair shows how weak or lazy Cameron is. He is unwilling to face the realities of dealing with his cabinet appointees and delegates the matter to a Civil Servant. I remember reading Churchill's war memoirs and somewhere he wrote that on occasions he had "to knock heads together" when there was squabbling about priorities. I simply don't understand how someone can get to Cameron's position without the ability to manage staff - more to the point I wonder who would lead this country and inspire confidence if we had a real crisis.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Newark

The Conservatives won the Newark by-election with a much reduced majority and the Tories are shouting about it being a great defeat of UKIP.
Now I don't believe anyone except the most incorrigible optimist expected UKIP to win a seat where the Tories had a 16,00o majority at the last election. But for the upstarts at UKIP to cut that majority by more than half to 7000 is, however you look at it, a great achievement. The Conservatives threw everything they had at the seat, nearly all their ministers visited Newark, all prospective Tory candidates visited Newark under pain of de-selection, and all local Tory Councillors were told to get canvassing.

It was said that this Newark was the 44th safest seat for the Tories and in that they have 305 MPs, this would suggest that there are 261 seats which are less safe. I wonder how the MPs in some of those seats are feeling about this great Tory victory!

UKIP are here to stay, they are steadily getting more organised, weeding out the more extreme fruitcakes, and getting their candidates and spokespersons "on message". To some extent, their future is determined by what happens within the EU; Will the EU select arch-federalist such as Jean-Claude Juncker as their President?; Will the EU courts continue to interfere with UK justice? Time will tell!

Meanwhile, as far as I am concerned the best news was that LibDems were beaten by both the Greens and an Independent Candidate and they lost their deposit.

All things considered, not a bad result!

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

The EU Elections

We all know by now that UKIP attracted most votes in the elections for the EU parliament,  but there appear to be widely contradictory views as to what this means in national terms and in particular what it means for next year's general election.
Although I'm a keen UKIP supporter, I'm also a pessimist, and find it hard to believe that what happened in the recent election will be repeated next year.  I feel that any meaningful prediction is virtually impossible as there are so many unanswered questions.

The main result seems to be that the LibDems have lost a lot of ground both in the local and the Euro elections. This, I suspect, is because people have realised that the LibDems were trying to be all things to all people and you can't do this when you are in power and actually have to be party to real decisions. Until now, it didn't matter if they promoted a different policy in Penzance than in Newcastle because no-one noticed, but once they came into power, they had to make choices which were bound to upset a lot of people.

The Tories and LibDems clearly lost out to UKIP because of their EU policies. Although Cameron has promised a referendum if his party is re-elected, this is dependent upon "renegotiations" and he has made it clear that he wishes to stay in. I don't believe this policy will attract voters unless he provides far more details of what he expects from the renegotiations. For all we know he might secure an exemption allowing us to sell Coxes apples by the pound rather than the kilo and claim that he has secured a great victory! I suspect those Tory voters who are Euro-sceptics prefer the straightforward position of UKIP.

When it comes to Labour it seems clear that many traditional Labour supporters are not attracted by current policies. Contrary to the perceived view, my impression when working as a site engineer and talking to, presumed Labour supporting, site workers was that they were probably even more opposed to the benefits scroungers and immigrants than many Tories. I suspect that Labour is out of touch with the real working class whom they claim to represent. However, as the people I describe are unlikely to ever bring themselves to vote Tory, it is possible that many could be persuaded to vote foe UKIP, and Farage's image of the "man in the pub" won't do him any harm, especially when compared with Miliband.

We then come the "wasted vote" category. Up to now, many have considered a vote for UKIP is a wasted vote and so have voted for one of the other parties. This could change significantly now that it has been shown that voting for UKIP does not result in a wasted vote.

Finally, we come to the non-voters. Only about a third if the electorate voted in the Euro elections whilst about double that number vote in a general election. The main parties like to assume these voters will support them at a general election, but there seems no logical reason for such an assumption. It could be argued that many can't see any real difference between the two main parties and thus don't bother to vote. Perhaps they might see UKIP as something different which could bring changes.

So, I'm still unable to make any logical predictions about the future, other than that there are two events which will undoubtedly have considerable influence. The first is the Newark by-election where UKIP will deploy all the resources at their disposal. Even if they don't win (which I believe is unlikely), a "near-run thing" will do the Tories a lot of harm. Will the Labour supporters vote tactically for UKIP knowing that their candidate is unlikely to win?

The other event is, of course the Scottish independence referendum. As an Englishman I would like an independent Scotland if only because it would bring us nearer to an independent England, although as a Unionist, I believe we should stick together. I've been unable to find any reasoned arguments as to how independence would affect Westminster politics other than the fact it would severely reduce the number of Labour MPs.

I await with interest next week's by-election and look forward to politicians and the media trying to explain what has happened!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Local Elections

I've been busy reading the various media reports about the local elections and the contortions that some columnists and political leaders are getting into in their efforts to minimise UKIP's achievements.
Labour is claiming that they're the winners, and statistically this is true in that they gained the most seats. But they didn't gain some of the seats they would need to gain if they are to win next year's general election.
The Conservatives lost 231 seats but retained some 1350 with the LibDems being the biggest losers having lost nearly half their seats, losing 307 and retaining a mere 427. So UKIP, coming from nowhere and collecting 163 seats is quite an achievement, particularly when you read the fatuous comments from the leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennet, who claimed "We're becoming much more of a national party.". Now many seats did they win? A mere 36 in total, up from their previous 20!
Meanwhile, Nick Robinson, the BBC's political correspondent, takes the view that "UKIP have not turned into a party of power. They have though confirmed their power to disrupt." As this is what the LibDems have been doing during the past four years, it's not a position to be despised.
George Osborne, meanwhile has decided that 'he respects Nigel Farage but that the UKIP leader does not have "answers to the country's future".'.
One suspects that George is carefully positioning himself to be in a position to negotiate with Nigel Farage in the event that the Conservative Party decides that it's had enough of Cameron.
So now it's a matter of waiting until tomorrow for the results of the elections for the EU parliament.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Foreign Takeovers

I am not totally against foreign companies taking over British companies, but I believe that there are certain industries which it is advisable for us to have on our own soil so that their facilities and products may be used in a time of emergency.
There is surely little harm in the shares of infrastructure companies being held abroad, the Spanish owners of Heathrow can't suddenly uproot it and move it to Madrid, but when it comes to manufacturing, it is a different matter. There is nothing to stop the new owners deciding to move some or all of the business to a cheap labour country as Kraft did with Cadburys, in spite of promises to the contrary. The net result of a deal like this is that the owners in this country get a one-time payment, but thereafter, all the customers wanting the product have to rely on it being imported with not only an adverse effect on our balance of trade, but with the profits from sales generally going to the shareholders outside the UK.
I am thus opposed to the sale of AstraZeneca to a US company as it would be quite easy, as with Cadburys, to move production to a lower cost country. Not only would this have yet a further adverse effect on the country's balance of payments, but we would have no control over quality and standards.
We need a major pharmaceutical company in Britain, and it is perhaps of historical interest to note that at the outbreak of World War Two, one of the first actions of the "Custodian of Enemy Property" was to secure the assets of the German Bayer company in the UK so as to ensure the continued supply of pharmaceuticals, including the humble Asprin.
We may not be expecting war but we keep being told that various pandemics are imminent so we surely need both pharmaceutical research and production facilities in this country in order to safeguard the interests of the people living here.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

It's not in the News

The main political parties are making an all out effort to discredit UKIP and are feeding the mainstream media with any scraps of news which might conceivably discredit UKIP, and even better from their point of view, demonstrate that UKIP is racist.

Fortunately, this joint campaign seems to be having little effect, and support for UKIP seems to be growing. The suggestion that a remark made by a UKIP member questioning why a runner, Mo Farah, who was born in Somalia and is resident in America should run on behalf of Britain is, I am sure, something that many people have asked or thought. It's hardly a racist question, at least by any reasonable definition of the word.

What the media don't tell you, but was revealed yesterday in Guido Fawkes blog is that:
Labour have suspended a candidate for a councillor post because he has been as accused of defrauding his own council.
A LibDem councillor remains a candidate in spite of being photographed with an AK45 in his native country.
The Tories have selected as their candidate for a seat on a Lincolnshire Council an individual who was formerly an active member of the BNP.

Had any of these been UKIP candidates, one imagines it would have been headline news, but as they were not, these items only get a small mention in the local press.

It is fortunate that there are people around like Guido to blog on these issues, and it is easy to see why, as far as politics are concerned, I prefer reading the various blogs to reading a newspaper or listening to the BBC.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Lithium Batteries

My camera has a lithium battery. It looks like this. They are now quite cheap, but apparently they are highly dangerous and liable to burst into flames!
The one in my camera is getting old and I decided to order one over the internet. The cost of the battery was a trivial £3.49 and carriage was significantly more at £5.95!
The reason was that it would have to come by a carrier as the Post Office will not take packages containing such items as Lithium Batteries which are classed as dangerous goods by United Nations 3090 legislation.

Not only are such batteries in cameras, they are in almost every piece of portable consumer electronics from mobile phones to calculators and even in one's watch. I hadn't realised that I was surrounding myself with such dangerous items in my home.

Every day, people are carrying one or more of these items in their pockets or baggage onto aircraft and as far as I know this has not yet been banned. When I travel, I usually have both a video and a stills camera, each with spare batteries, in my hand baggage, and no one has ever questioned whether they are safe.

With the Post Office banning the carriage of such items, how long will it be before we are stopped from taking them on aircraft or other public transport?

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Facts are unhelpful !


I was reading an article in today's Mail with the heading

Bottle of wine a day 'is not bad for you': Leading scientist also claims those who exceed recommended dose could live longer than teetotallers

It continues :
"Dr Kari Poikolainen, who used to work for the World Health Organisation as an alcohol expert, examined decades of research into its effects."
He claims that drinking just over a bottle a day won’t harm your health and suggests that drinking only becomes harmful when people consume more than around 13 units a day.
His conclusion is that "The weight of the evidence shows moderate drinking is better than abstaining and heavy drinking is worse than abstaining – however the moderate amounts can be higher than the guidelines say."

But Julia Manning, from think-tank 2020Health, said: ‘This is an unhelpful contribution to the debate. It makes grand claims which we don’t see evidence for.’ She added: ‘Alcohol is a toxin, the risks outweigh the benefits.’

So a doctor, who was employed as an expert on alcohol by the World Health Organisation, and studied all the research that has been carried out on the subject is "unhelpful" because his findings don't agree with the policy of some "think-tank". Clearly this Julia Manning seems to be one of those people who adopt the attitude "I've made up my mind, don't confuse me with facts"!

I'm certainly not a heavy drinker and certainly would not want to consume a bottle of wine a day. But I do know quite a few people of my age who do drink that amount quite regularly, although probably not daily. Chatting to a friend the other day in the local, he reckoned that he needed a dozen bottles of wine for a dinner party at home for eight people. Judging by the comments of others present it seems that this was accepted as being a quite reasonable amount.

I usually go to the pub a couple of times a week after bell-ringing practice (a very old tradition!) and limit myself to a pint of beer, not because of worries about whether it will do me any harm, but because I have to drive home. At home, a bottle of wine lasts the two of us for a couple of evening meals. One of the ringers, now getting on towards ninety, always has a couple of pints and has been drinking this amount for the thirty or so years that I have known him. He seems to be thriving - he has just completed walking the Thames Path in ten mile stretches and is now tackling the Chiltern path!

I would like to see the real scientific facts about alcohol published so that we can make up our own minds, but it does seem that is unlikely to happen as there are too many vested interests who have already made the decision on our behalf.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Bluebells in the Woods

I can walk through a small wood on the way to the shops, I don't do it often now that I have stopped buying a daily paper as we normally drive to the shops because it's a bit to far to carry much shopping. However today was bright sunshine and we only wanted a couple of small items so we decided to walk. I was pleased we did as the bluebells were in full bloom and it was a very pleasant walk. Some of the trees had suffered badly as a result of the winter storms, but the council had cleared those which were blocking the pathway. Unfortunately, the only seat at the centre of the woods had been vandalised and so we were unable to sit and enjoy our surroundings. I simply can't understand the mentality of someone who is prepared to walk through the woods simply to smash a seat which was in regular use by both us oldies pausing for a short breather and by mothers watching their young children at play.

The photograph doesn't do the bluebells justice!

Monday, 14 April 2014

Shopping

I've been under the weather since the end of February and haven't felt like blogging, or even doing much at all, but today with the sun shining, I decided it was time to do a bit of shopping, in particular to buy a new pair of casual shoes.
I found a pair that I liked in the local shoe shop and didn't pay any attention to where they were made, knowing that most footwear now comes from outside Britain.
When I got home, I was intrigued by the stylised Union Flag on the shoes and the attached label.

As you can see, it is not quite a Union Flag because apart from the strange shape, the red diagonals are missing. This intrigued me and I looked at the box which had the same symbol on the lid, and the words:
Padders
British Company.   British design   Since 1914 

But nowhere did it actually state they were made here, and nowhere on the box was there any indication as to the country of origin. Even on the shoes, at first sight, there was no indication of origin. The make, size and the above symbol were clearly printed on the insole, but country of origin, no sign. It was there, of course, to comply with the law, but it was tucked away on the underside of the tongue, printed in tiny type using ink of almost the same colour as the shoes: "Made in India".

I felt quite annoyed; I have no objection to buying goods manufactured abroad, but I do feel that it is wrong to give the impression that they were British when the only thing British about them is that they have apparently been designed in Britain and imported by a British company which has existed since 1914. Certainly, I believe that it is wrong of them to used a stylised Union Flag as it now makes me suspicious of other products which use our flag to signify that they have been made or produced here.

At the same time, I have to admit that the shoes are very comfortable and that the Velcro fastening is far preferable to traditional laces.

So much for my first day out for some while! At least it gave me something to write about!


Monday, 17 February 2014

The Cost of the Floods - plus VAT !

 It is difficult to find figures about the cost of the floods, mainly because public and private costs are invariably lumped together to give an overall figure.
The BBC has a very interesting report in which it says that
"Severe flooding in the UK is not unusual."
and adds
"In 2007 there was extensive damage in several urban areas including Hull and Tewkesbury. The insurance bill for this year's flooding could well end up a lot lower than the payouts required seven years ago.
"Between May and July 2007, England and Wales experienced the wettest conditions in 200 years. Nearly 50,000 households were affected"
This is an interesting statement because it rather contradicts the Green's arguments about climate change, as the recent floods are clearly not the worse floods that the country has experienced.
The 2007 summer floods gave rise to payouts of about £3billion.
"According to the insurer Hiscox, the latest floods could, if they continue for a couple more weeks, result in payouts of about £1bn. This would still be well short of the claims seven years ago."
These figures don't, of course, represent the total overall cost of the floods and won't include the cost of repairs to our infrastructure, such as the damage to the railways as at Dawlish, and the repair of flood defences. Nor, of course does it include the costs of flood prevention measures, belatedly being put in place by the military.

However, the Treasury doesn't come out of this too badly. VAT is payable on building repairs and replacement contents. Based on Hiscox's figures this would come to around £200 million, which should easily pay for Cameron's "No efforts will be spared . . . . . . " and even leave enough to cover the costs of dredging the rivers in Somerset.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Purge all those who don't accept climate change!

The Green Party have demanded that 'Any Minister or senior advisor refusing to accept "the scientific consensus on climate change" should be sacked'.
Well, now we know, the Greens are budding Stalinists who given a chance would purge all those who don't agree with their view of the world.
The BBC reports in some detail that 'The Greens are now insisting the government get rids of any cabinet minister who takes a different view on climate change' and that 'even the chief veterinary officer should be removed if he didn't sign up to the view on climate change also taken by the Green Party'.
Apart from the fact as each day passes it becomes more apparent that there is no real "scientific consensus on climate change", and that many of the predictions of the alarmists have been totally wrong, there is no reason to believe that the present abnormal weather is due to climate change. How many times have we heard from the alarmists that "weather isn't climate" when their predictions are wrong, the most recent being when a group of them were on a vessel stuck in what should have been non-existent Antarctic ice!
Its a good job that the Greens are never likely to get into power in this country otherwise we would all soon learn what it was like to have lived in the old USSR.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Floods and Smoking

Large tracts of the West Country and the Thames Valley are under water, large numbers of people are homeless, and what does the House of Commons have a debate on?  Not the floods, as one might expect, but the possible harm that second hand smoke might do to children travelling in cars.

Meanwhile, after weeks of dithering, the Environment Agency decides some extra pumps are needed and a Dutch company gets 20 of them on the road within 4 hours of receiving a phone call.

There are all the signs that panic has set in within our government with different Ministers meeting the media, but no-one seemingly being in charge and having overall responsibility.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Save the Children

According to the Daily Mail, "Three staff at Save the Children earn more than £140,000. The highest is chief operating officer Annabel Hoult who earned £168,653 last year". Say an average of £150,000, that makes a total of around £450,000 for just three of their staff.
Save the Children have recently been running a series of adverts on commercial TV, urging us to give £2 a month to save a child. My maths shows that it would require around 14,500 people to sign up to give this amount simply to pay the salaries of these three staff before they even get round to saving any children. As for the cost of the TV advertisements, well the mind boggles!

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Blame the EU !

I know there is a tendency to blame the EU for all this country's woes but when you start to look at various problems in detail, one finds that this is not just rhetoric but there that are very strong arguments that most of these problems originate from the EU.

Consider the floods in Somerset, for example. These areas were first drained starting back in the 1700's and have generally remained free of flooding with the dykes being properly maintained and improved over the years, and although the rains this year have been exceptional, there would have been unlikely to have been such widespread floods if such maintenance had continued.

But, as Christopher Booker explains in today's Sunday Telegraph, the EU has issued directives which actually require certain plains to become flooded as part of their quest for bio-diversity. The Environment Agency went along with this directive, without actually telling anyone, simply by giving up the maintenance of the dykes and the dredging of the rivers. Not only that, but the EU banned the use of any silt dredged from the rivers to raise the level of the land as in the past.

This is just one example of how the EU contributes to our problems. The EU's transport experts want high speed rail travel between all major cities, whether it would be used or not, hence the HS2 rail link which by no stretch of the imagination will be cost effective, and is unlikely ever to bring in enough revenue to repay the debts. There are arguments that by the time it is built, we will be in an era of driverless cars and that we should be improving our roads to cope with future technology rather than looking to the past. The editorial in today's Sunday Telegraph on this subject is worth reading.

Our likely problems with electricity shortages within the next year or so are due to EU directives on coal-fired power stations. We have had to close down perfectly good power stations which were far from the end of their life, because of the Greens' desire to cut carbon emissions. Strange, but Germany which has given up the idea of nuclear power, seems to have managed to get round the directives and is now building coal-fired power stations.

Excessive emigration and the loss of control of our borders is exacerbated by the EU "Free Movement" directives; not only that, they tell us we must pay benefits to any EU citizens in the UK and have recently stated that our benefits are too low! We are now reaching the stage where the majority of crime in London is being committed by foreigners and they represent a large, disproportionate number of those in prison. We can't deport them, because of their "Human Rights", another piece of legislation which can be laid at the EU's doorstep.

Even the NHS has problems as a result of the working hours directive which has reduced the number of doctors available in hospitals. It is suggested that the rise of hospital acquired infections is a result of the abandonment of the old-fashioned hospital laundries where all the linen was boiled to sterilise it, in favour of low energy, low temperature washing using modern detergents. This may produce "clean looking" linen, but is it totally germ free? Are our illnesses actually increasing as a result of this EU "green" policy?

As I read the news from day to day, and think about the difficulties that this country is facing, it is hard to find any significant problems in this country that can't in some way be traced back to Brussels.

And people ask why I support UKIP !

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Lord Reynard and the LibDems

The thing that most struck me about the Lord Reynard affair is that these mature women who hoped to be parliamentary candidates, didn't do something at the time. What hope would we have if they were MPs and a real crisis arose?
Both my daughters have faced sex-pests at work, dealt with them themselves, and came out well from the encounters.
One, sitting next to her boss at a meeting when he kept fondling her leg, (as claimed by one of the women in the Lord Reynard case), simply remarked, in a voice that could be heard by those adjacent to them , that it would be appreciated if he put his hand on the table rather than trying to get it up her skirt. She made no formal complaint, but the word obviously got back the personnel manager, who moved her boss to a post elsewhere in the company. As his deputy, she took over and was subsequently promoted into the job.
The other favoured more direct action, and slapped the person concerned across his face. Being into martial arts, she has a strong right arm and I'm sure he felt it. She was hailed as a heroine by other women in the office, nothing more was said and life continued more or less as usual.
The fact is, women invariably win from such encounters. Personnel departments hate the thought of claims for sexual harassment or constructive dismissal, particularly when it seems likely that other women within the organisation will give them support, and do everything possible to avoid such actions.
So why didn't these mature women do anything at the time?

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Runaways

I've been reading, with some amusement, about the young couple who absconded from their school and went for a holiday in the Caribbean.
I personally blame their absent parents who seemed to have believed that money solves all problems, when what the youngsters really want is their parents.
It brought back to mind the time when my youngest daughter was about 12 or 13. She had a close girlfriend who had everything and my daughter was somewhat jealous that she didn't have a TV of her own and plenty of money to spend.
But one thing this girl didn't have was her parents. Her father was near the top of some multinational company and was always away and her mother spent her time being "charitable", being involved with almost every local charity, and was invariably out most evenings. An au-pair kept the house and cooked meals for the girl and her younger brother.
As a result, she often came home with our daughter and spent a lot of time talking to my wife. Even when the two girls fell out, as teenagers do, the girl still continued to call to talk things over with my wife, and indeed my wife helped her through what is probably the most difficult time of life for an adolescent. I think it did make my daughters appreciate the fact that money isn't everything and that the family matters. My daughter lost touch with her when they moved a couple of years later, but at least my wife has the satisfaction of having tried to help someone at their time of need.

I suspect that is what happened with the young couple who eloped to the Caribbean. They had no adults (other than teachers) to talk to, and whilst the school may provide an excellent education, it can't make up for absent parents. I wish them all the best.