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 July 2013

Human Rights Madness

Surely these headlines in the Daily Mail are some sort of joke They can't be serious!

Police let gypsy family stay in couple's £30,000 stolen caravan 'because moving them out will breach their human rights'

I just can't think of any suitable comment.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Explosions at Mosques

There have been a couple of explosions at, or close to Mosques in the last few weeks and the media, particularly the BBC has been very keen to lay the responsibility on "right-wing extremists", the BNP or the EDL, whichever takes their fancy at the time.
How galling it must be for the BBC to have to report that
"Two Ukrainian men have been arrested under the Terrorism Act in connection with explosions in Walsall and Tipton".
Ukraine, along with adjoining countries has a substantial Muslim population, and according to Wikipedia,  the majority of residents in the Small Heath district of Birmingham, where these men were living, are Muslims of South Asian origin.
It might be reasonable to conclude that those arrested are also Muslims and if one wonders why Muslims would attack mosques, one only has to look at Syria, where the fighting is now largely between different sects of the same religion. Could this be the beginning of sectarian battles amongst the Muslims in this country?
Meanwhile I'm not holding my breath waiting for the BBC to apologise to those groups whom they  suggested were most probably responsible for the bombs.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Independent Scotland's Budget

Independent Scotland's budget predictions were based upon  the revenue income from North Sea oil. There have always been discussions about where to draw the sea boundary between England and Scotland, as the Scots like to think it would be drawn due east from the border, just north of Berwick. This is not in conformity with accepted international law which requires sea boarders to follow the general line of the adjoining land border, and that of course runs in a more north-easterly direction from Carlisle to Berwick.
However it now seems that this doesn't matter, as the Office of Budget Responsibility suggest North Sea tax revenues are on a downward trend, having fallen from 0.7% of GDP to 0.4% this year, a very significant decrease.
The Treasury, according to the Telegraph, calculates that this would leave a massive gap in an independent Scotland's finances and thus Scotland would be financially better off remaining in the Union.
There are two sides to this argument, if Scotland is better off, England (and possibly Wales) will be worse off, as a result of having to fill the shortfall in Scotland's finances.

And there are those who ask me why I am a strong supporter of Scottish Independence!

Monday, 15 July 2013

The NHS again

As the local NHS Trust is one of those with statistically high death rates, I am naturally concerned. At my age, there is a reasonable probability that I will need to make use of there services within the next twelve months or so, and I would like to think that I would get any treatment that I might need. Thus I tend to follow the NHS stories in the media and am far from impressed.
Today there are several reports in the Daily Mail on this subject.
Firstly, a report, in which it is claimed that Professor Sir Brian Jarman has said that previous health ministers in the Labour governments had presided over a ‘denial machine’ designed to prevent criticism of the NHS. A further report, by by the NHS’s medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, due tomorrow, will apparently detail a shocking catalogue of failure at 14 hospital trusts held responsible for up to 13,000 ‘excess deaths’ since 2005. Apparently, it is expected that these hospitals will be subject to ‘special measures’, with NHS troubleshooters taking over what are described as ‘failing regimes’.
Frankly, I have no faith that any worthwhile change will be brought about by "troubleshooters" as they are simply more of a kind who have worked their way up the system, probably leaving a trail of failures in their wake, as in the case of the present head of the NHS.

Next, we have a report on the so-called "Liverpool Care Pathway" or the road to death. This was the scheme to hasten the deaths of those that doctors believed were dying by withdrawing treatment and drugging the patients so that they died of dehydration. Hospitals were even given bonuses based on the numbers of patients killed off by this "pathway". Apparently it is the intention to scrap this "pathway" within the next 12 months - why not tomorrow?

Yet another report reveals that thousands of elderly people are being denied cataract surgery by being made to wait a long period after the initial referral by a GP or are being told that they can only have one eye treated. Here I have an immediate personal interest as I have cataracts in both eyes. When I last saw my optician, she told me that my eyesight was still good enough for me to drive, which was my basic criteria for deciding whether to have anything done. But I am due to see her on Wednesday and I expect her to recommend that I have them seen to. Time will tell what actually happens.

And yet still those on the left of the political spectrum insist that we have the best health service in the world. Clearly they must go around with their eyes, ears and minds firmly closed! Perhaps they should look at countries other than the United States, where there are problems with their insurance based system - might I suggest they look at Australia, where many British are able to compare notes with friends and relatives and most conclude the Australian system is better. Or perhaps near home, look at Germany, or even Italy where my daughter received excellent treatment under the EU scheme.

We may have once has the best health scheme, probably when the NHS had just been formed and other countries didn't have such a health service, but now I suspect, in spite of all the claims, our NHS is nowhere near the best even within the EU. Its time for real change, not this marginal tinkering.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Falkirk, Labour and Unite

I have no interest in whom the people of Falkirk elect as their MP at the next general election, but I am interested in the manoeuvring that is going on behind the scenes in an attempt to influence the choice of the Labour candidate. It is claimed that the Unite union has been enrolling its members in the constituency as Labour party members, and it has even been suggested that they have been paying the membership fees, and in some cases enrolling individual  union members without their knowledge. The resultant spat has led to the resignation of Tom Watson as Labour's election organiser and also  to certain matters being referred to the local police.

The Labour party receives millions of pounds each year from the trade union "Unite" and its far-left leader Len McCluskey. Provided that this money comes from the Union's political fund and members have been given the chance to opt out, such donations are perfectly legal. However, it now appears that the union is making demands of the party such as requiring all Labour election candidates, both local and national, to be trade union members, and demanding the right to select their own candidates for some constituencies. Dependant on whom you read or listen to, it appears that McCluskey is trying, in effect, to become Labour's puppet master, pulling the strings and instructing Milliband on his policies. It should be remembered that Milliband was only elected leader of the party because of the union vote, probably because they thought that he would be more likely to comply with their demands than his big brother.

Now I have no objection in Labour moving to the left; I believe it will improve the chances of UKIP at the next election with them gaining the votes of those erstwhile Labour supporters who don't approve of the leftwards move, but would never change and vote Tory.

But suppose this was the Conservative party. The Tories receive considerable sums of money from business supporters. Let us consider a mythical company, let's call it "BigSuperShop plc" with branches in every town, giving the same amount of money to the Tories as Unite gives to Labour, and that this company uses its position to urge all its customers and shareholders to vote Tory. Let's take it further and imagine that this company demands that the Tories let it appoint a certain percentage of the Tory candidates in Tory held constituencies. Even further, it then demands that all Tory candidates should be shareholders in the company and that the company should have the right to veto any Tory policy.
Can you imagine the outrage throughout the country? But this no more than what Unite is effectively demanding of the Labour Party so why shouldn't BigSuperShop plc demand the same of the Tories?
So far the Tory response to the actions of Unite has been relatively muted, probably because what happens at Falkirk is of little interest to them. Nevertheless the Tories should respond to the events if only to highlight the indecisiveness and weakness of Milliband and his subservience to trade union power.