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?"

Monday, 23 May 2011

"Cruel Chants"

According to the Daily Telegraph, one of the footballers granted a secrecy injunction was given it because of the possibility of "Boos and Cruel Chants" at Premier League Games.
So it now seems that if you do something that a third party finds objectionable, they can actually be banned from telling you so. Personal responsibility for one's actions seems to be a thing of the past.
The crazy situation here is that any "Boos and Chants" will be now far worse than if the footballer had allowed events to take their course. A judge can't imprison an entire stadium full of football supporters, all of course saying "it wasn't me guv".
The old saying, very appropriate in this case, that the footballer has "made his bed and should lie on it" should apply.

Head of the IMF

It would seem that Osborne is supporting the candidature of French Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde, to become the new head of he IMF.
I think it is time that the Government started to give reasons for such decisions. Why the support for a Left Wing French candidate? Why another French politician? Don't we have a suitable candidate (and I'm not thinking of Gordon Brown)? Surely for impartial decisions on whether the IMF should support an EU country, it would be sensible to have someone from outside the EU.
I note from the BBC that in a joint statement, Australia and South Africa have asked that the new head be appointed on merit, not nationality, something with which I fully agree. If you add that to the fact that left wing politicians have been responsible, at least in part, for the financial crisis, I find it inconceivable that Osborne should be supporting yet another left-winger.
I think the Government has a duty to explain its reasoning to the British electorate.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Charity Names

Most Charities tend to include in their name something that gives a clue to their activities, for eaxmple
"Help the Aged", "Save the Children", "Cancer Research", "RSPCA" and "RNLI"
Some are more obscure, such as "Relate", Barnados" and McMillan Nurses", but at least they don't give a false impression of their objectives.

Thus, if I formed a charity and called it, say, "Pensioners Help" would you conclude its objectives are
a. To Provide help to pensioners
b. To distribute help provided by pensioners?
Most people. I suspect, would choose the first option.

Yesterday, following my piece on Wednesday about "Foreign Aid and Charities", there was a knock on the door by a collector from "Christian Aid". Unthinkingly, Mrs EP gave a suitable donation, but then decided to try to find out what they actually did and how and where they were helping Christians. Were they helping, say, the Coptic Christians in Egypt who have had their churches destroyed by militant Muslims; Perhaps they were helping Christians who are under constant threat in Pakistan, or thrown in prison is Saudi Arabia for wearing a crucifix?
This, however is what I found
"Breaking the Silence"
Our work in Gaza
Here they seem to be supporting organisations helping those whose dedicated aim is to rid the world of the "Infidel", ie Christians.
Nothing anywhere on their site about actually helping Christians.
Now, I believe I an aware of might be considered to be my Christian duties to the poor and unfortunate, and I'm also aware of the need to "turn the other cheek", but supporting one's enemies to eliminate one's  chosen religion seems to be going to far.

 Please don't call next year, or you might get a very non-Christian response.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Foreign Aid and Charities

According to one source, the UK gave £8.4 billion in foreign aid last year, which was 11% of the world total. Why should we be giving such a huge proportion of the total aid budget? What percentage does the rest of the EU give?
The Daily Mail works this out as an average of £500 per family. On the basis of there being approximately 26 million income tax payers, it works out at around £325 for each of these tax payers.
However you look at it, it is a lot of money, which is being given to countries against, I suspect, the wishes of the majority of these enforced donors.
So as far as Mrs EP and myself are concerned, we are contributing a large sum in foreign aid to causes with which we do not necessarily agree, and being firm believers in the old adage "Charity begins at Home", we have now decided that we are not going to give any further donations to charities providing foreign aid.

I am proposing to put a further sign on my front door (adjacent to the one about door-to-door salesmen, etc,) which will be broadly as follows

Charity Collectors Please Note
"Charity begins at Home"
The Government contributed an estimated £500 per family last year in foreign aid, and I believe that this satisfies any moral obligation that this family might have towards such causes.
Therefore, we intend to restrict any further giving solely to charities carrying out medical research and to those acting for the benefit of English citizens and spending less than 5% of their income outside the UK. Preference will be given to local charities run by volunteers.
Please do not ring if the charity for which you are collecting does not fall within the above category.

In addition, where a charity sends a pre-paid envelope, it will get a polite acknowledgement along the above lines, asking them to remove our names from their mailing lists.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

IMF head Strauss-Kahn charged over New York 'sex crime'

I don't propose to say anything about the alleged "sex-crime", but I did notice on the BBC web page that
"His accommodation there was described by the New York Times as a luxury suite costing $3,000 per night (£1,900).".
This man is travelling, by himself, at public expense. How on earth can any any Public Official, or his employer, justify spending that amount on a suite?
As our government, and hence out taxpayers, are significant contributors to the IMF, don't they keep an eye on where the money is going?  Our government should insist that, along with the EU, all these international organisations to which we contribute should publish full accounts which include the expenses of their top officials.

Wishful thinking, no doubt, as I would imagine that most of our parliamentarians are busy trying to get onto the bandwagon themselves!

What does Immigration cost this Country?

We are constantly being told that immigrants benefit our country and we couldn't manage without them. Recent Danish research, however, shows the exact opposite.
Press Europ reports that
"The conservative daily Jyllands-Posten revealed this report on April 28 under the headline “Restrictions on foreigners saves billions”. According to the liberal daily, the annual cost to Danish society of non-Western immigrants is put at 15.7 billion kroner (2.1 billion euros), and since the right came to power in 2001 the kingdom has saved 5.1 billion kroner (nearly 684 million euros) every year.
So by more restrictive immigration policies, Denmark, a country with a population of about five and a half million population has saved around £600 million per annum. Think of what this country could save if it adopted the same approach!
But this isn't the only report suggesting immigration costs are a huge burden. Research from other Nordic countries as reported in Global Politician shows the immigration costs in Norway and Sweden are getting way out of control and projections indicate that soon Norway will need its entire revenue from its oil and gas to provide the necessary support.
Of even more concern is a subsequent paragraph which reports that "Thousands of Muslim children with Scandinavian citizenship are sent to Koran schools in Pakistan and other countries, to prevent them from becoming "too Westernized." When this practice was documented and criticized by the Norwegian organization Human Rights Service, Pakistanis in Norway had the galls to ask for a school for their children in Pakistan, funded by Norwegian taxpayers".  Presumably this is why Cameron promised Parkistan more money for schools during his recent visit - so our "British" Muslim children can be sent there for their "education" in terrorism and Sharia Law.
All these issues are now being widely discussed in the media in continental Europe, but our politicians and media seem to be taking the attitude of the there wise[?] monkeys, "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil"

All the more reason for supporting the EDL which is just a small voice in the wilderness trying to do something against impossible odds.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

The Rally Against Debt

Tomorrow (Saturday) there is to be a "The Rally Against Debt" in London.
It is unlikely to be reported on the BBC unless there is violence, as to the BBC, the Left Wing, and probably  many LibDems, debt reduction means cuts.
As far as all these trendy thinkers are concerned,  it is perfectly in order to get up to your eyebrows in debt in order to avoid cuts; they prefer to overlook the fact that if the we didn't have all this debt, the huge sums of money that the country is having to pay in terms of ever increasing interest, would all be available to spend elsewhere and there would be no need for cuts.
I would like to hear what the speakers have to say, but I doubt if it reported by the national broadcasters or major newspapers. Thank goodness for the web and the well informed boggers!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Compare and Contrast

No time for anything this evening as I'm off to the local computer club to learn about e-Bay.

So I would urge all my readers to look at this post by the Quiet Man

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The Nasty Lib Dems

I don't know why people have insisted in referring to the Tories as the "Nasty Party", and even if it were true, it is clear that the LibDems have now taken over this role.
According to The Mail on Sunday, Lib Dem Lord Tony Greaves recently said
A lot of people in our party never liked Cameron,  He is seen as a toffee-nosed slimebag, which is what he is. That is being polite to the man.
Who made that man a Lord ?  He uses the language of the gutter which is where, in my view, he should be.
This, of course follows on some of Vince Cable's earlier remarks which were no more polite, such as
Some of us never had many illusions about the Conservatives, but they have emerged as ruthless, calculating and thoroughly tribal."

Nasty Tories?  If they ever were, that role has now been taken over by the LibDems without any shadow of doubt. Not only are the LibDems bad losers, having fought a dirty "Yes to AV" campaign which made totally implausible claims without a scintilla of evidence, they then result to name calling following their humiliation in both this and the local elections. In spite of all that, they now have the gall to suggest that Cameron should make some more concessions to them as a form of compensation for having lost the AV vote.

So as well as being the "Nasty, vicious LibDems", they are also suffering from acute delusions of grandeur!

The fact that the LibDems lost out so badly in both the elections and the AV vote should enable Cameron to take a far harder stance with them in Cabinet, and hopefully follow more Conservative policies.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The Election Results

I'm not too unhappy with the election results (Mrs EP translation - I'm quite pleased, but not over the moon).
The Scot Nats won a majority in the Scottish Parliament, The vote on AV was a resounding "No", the LibDems got their comeuppance, and the Tories, by and large maintained their status quo. My only disappointment was that none of the UKIP candidates were elected, but as, in practical terms, there is absolutely nothing that they could do about their aims even if elected to local councils, it doesn't alter their position.

Firstly the Scot Nats. If they hold a referendum on leaving the Union as promised, one suspects that they would get huge support from the English, notwithstanding the fact that we wouldn't get a vote. Down south we are fed up with the continual winging of the Scottish politicians, in spite of the fact that Scotland gets a higher per capita proportion of the UK budget and has proportionately more MPs. The only problem is that Cameron might decide to give them an even bigger cut of the budget in order to encourage them to stay. Nevertheless, I feel it will force our Parliament to address the issue, not only of representation at Westminster but also the anomaly whereby Scots MPs can vote on purely English matters often reversing the position that would be reached by English MPs alone.

The LibDems in my view came unstuck because up to now, they have managed to be "all things to all men".
You can do this in local government, it is unlikely that anyone would notice if you have a totally different policy in, say, Yorkshire than your policy in Suffolk or Dorset. It can be tailored for a specific electorate, which is why they generally do quite well in local elections.
However, at Westminster, if you are in power, you have to have the same policy for Yorkshire as in Suffolk and Dorset. Suddenly they have discovered this is far more difficult and that policies which go down well in some parts of the country are not liked elsewhere. The University fees issue is part of this; telling the young voters that they would not increase fees, without explaining to the taxpayers where the money would come from would have been a loser with one group or the other when implemented.

And as for AV, most people saw this as what it was, a sop to the LibDems who believed that it could increase their representation in parliament. Yes, changes to the electoral system are needed, as I've blogged before (equalisation of constituency sizes and restriction of postal voting), but AV is not one for which there has been any sign of public demand. If parliament had responded to public demand, the referendum would have been on withdrawal from the EU, because unless we do that, our Westminster votes will soon become worthless as the EU imposes more laws of their own.

As I said, I'm not too unhappy with the results.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Does the Nationwide Building Society keep its Promises?

I've always been an enthusiast for the Building Society movement, accepting the premise that with no shareholders requiring dividends they should be able to give their customers a better deal.
I had my first mortgage with the forerunner of the Nationwide, the Co-operative Permanent Building Society, and I have had savings with the Society ever since. Until recently, I believed they invariably provided some of the best savings deals available.
However, looking back, I feel that, as far as their customers are concerned, things have slowly deteriorated over the past ten years or so. The ethos of a non-profit making Building Society, where customers come first, seems to have disappeared and there now seems very little to choose between them and the various banks.
What has brought my anger to the forefront is what has happened to my "TESSA Maturity ISA". When I was working, I invested the maximum annual sum in a TESSA because the interest was tax free. In due course, ISAs were introduced and on its maturity, I transferred the money to a maturity account in order to continue to take advantage of the tax relief.
Now, I know that I should have watched what was happening, but I was stupid enough to trust the Nationwide . Today I decided to review my savings prior to some major expenditure and found (with some difficulty) that my investment was giving a mere 0.5% interest.
Looking around, I can find a number of ordinary savings accounts where, after tax, I would still end up with a better rate of interest. The Yorkshire BS is offering 2.1% gross, 1.68% net on an instant access internet savings account, which would be more than three times what I'm getting form the Nationwide. No doubt I'll find others as I look around for the best buy. Clearly, there is no point in getting interest tax free if the interest is next to nothing and the tax that you are saving is 20% of that!
So to the Nationwide "Promises".
Their website lists "Our Seven Promises to Savers" - mostly they are waffle, and of course they don't apply to my particular account. However as far as I am concerned they have broken an implied promise which they always gave, and that is to treat their customers fairly.
At least I now know which of my savings will be withdrawn to go towards my new conservatory, where in the longer term I expect the value of the money will appreciate considerably faster than it would with the Nationwide.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

To Hell with AV; Let's return to One Man, One Vote

I have long believed that the introduction of Postal Voting for all would be a disaster, and this morning my beliefs were confirmed by someone whom I would describe as "Being in the Know".
The nearby town (fortunately in a different constituency than the one in which I reside) has a large Asian community. I am assured that there are effectively two clans or tribes, and the leaders decide how the votes are to be cast. Families are expected to apply for postal votes, and the heads of each household are expected to show the completed forms to the clan leader before they are posted. I have no reason to doubt what I have been told, as this merely confirms what I learnt before I retired.
I had a young Asian lad working for me, living in digs locally although his parents lived up north. He told me that his father expected him to apply for a postal vote and that his father would tell him how to vote. He was also under pressure from locals, where he was in digs, to abide by the local decision on how to vote. He just wanted to do his own thing and was looking for a way out; I suggested that he "forgot" to apply for a postal vote, but he indicated that the clan would expect to see his application! He also believed that his father had applied for a vote in his name at their home up north, but didn't want to get his father into trouble.

It's been said before by others,  but its worth saying again:-
As a result of postal voting we now have a third world electoral system.

Why can't the American's keep their mouths shut?

I rejoice in the fact that the Americans have killed Bin Laden and I would like to think that Cranmer's view of his fate is correct.

In general, I like Americans, but they have one big failing, they talk too much!
Why on earth do the various spokespersons keep on talking and altering the story.
Surely a simple statement that
"Following information from various sources our forces raided a compound in Pakistan where bin Laden was living. During the raid, he was killed, and his body was removed for positive identification, following which it was buried at sea"
Whilst, I am aware that we all like to know more about such events, nothing more actually needed to be said,
Whether people believed he was dead is immaterial, as long as those responsible for fighting the "war against terrorism" were satisfied it was so.
As it is, the Americans re now getting themselves deeper into the mire, with conflicting statements:- he was armed. no he wasn't armed; his wife was a human shield, no she wasn't! What are the chances that, if he was unarmed, some anti-war liberals will be wanting legal action taken for murder or war crimes?

Could it be that the President is looking for kudos and hoping for an improvement in his poll ratings? If so I suspect he is failing in his objective, because the more that is said, the more chaotic his administration seems to be.
Can you imagine the Israelis giving details like this of any of their activities? Or even the French. America still has lots of lessons to learn.

An afterthought. I wonder if British Intelligence knew this was about to happen, and that this was the reason William & Kate didn't go abroad for a honeymoon?

Sunday, 1 May 2011

This could only happen in Britain

I'm sure that this would never happen anywhere else in the World.
Two or three rows of ordinary, unarmed, policeman, all smiling, walking slowly down the Mall followed by a huge crowd. No pushing and shoving, no linked arms, no batons at he ready, just ordinary bobbies slowly walking ahead of the crowd.
Amongst the many pictures taken on Friday, this shows the British people, and of course the police, at their best.