Wednesday, 29 December 2010

No home for Lib Dems in Labour Party.

In the year 2000 Chief Executives got 47 times the national average pay. By 2010 this had risen to 81 times. If you are a left wing Lib Dem distressed at some of the things coming out of the Coalition please don't delude yourself that you have a spiritual home in the Labour Party. Their record on social justice made even Thatchers jaw drop open.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The 'Dunce of the Year Award' - to the Daily Telegraph

The Daily Telegraph is an arch opponent of the Murdoch empire so what does do? Why it hires some people to do a 'sting' the publication of which results in the decision on whether or not to curb Murdoch's ambition being removed from the one man who might oppose such ambition. Clever stuff huh!

Ill informed punditry gets trashed by events.

A certain Bill Carmichael, who seems to be given column inches in the National press in which to air his opinions, wrote in the Yorkshire Post on 24th December: " It is precisely the same reason why the Business Secretary was so easily seduced into making a fool of himself in a Christmas special of 'Strictly Come Dancing'. This was written before the show was aired and it is not clear whether Mr Carmichael had seen it. In the event Vince Cable and his partner came second in the judges vote and one judge gave them a perfect 10 score. One might venture to suggest that it was not the Business Secretary who made a fool of himself on this occasion.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Mad and cruel

There is neither sanity or fairness in an asylum system that allows a failed asylum seeker,who has somehow escaped deportation and who kills a girl with a car that he has no business to be driving in the first place, to stay in Britain. Especially when desperate people with young families who have done nothing wrong, can work, want to work and want to integrate are deported. I feel deeply ashamed as well as very angry. It is high time that the insanity and injustice of our system was dealt with.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Stupid Student

Cambridge history student Charlie Gilmour, photographed climbing the Cenotaph, has apologised (good). However he is reported as saying that he didn't realise it was the Cenotaph. If that is true how did anyone so appallingly ignorant ever get into Cambridge & should he not be sent down?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Wiki leaks - a Different Question

I'm not going to defend Wikileaks. There is always some information which it is being wrongly withheld from a wider audience but there is also some which it is not constructive to disclose. However when we look at the list of locations of facilities that the USA considers vital to its' security and you find a snake ant-venom laboratory in Australia listed you have to ask a question about dangers to the world created by US paranoia.

The price of power

The Governments proposals on higher education funding and student finance etc. are to be debated on 9th December. The two briefing notes on this, available on the House of Commons website, run to 37pages. It is a measure of the failure to communicate the content of these proposals that tuition fees have grabbed all the attention. Liberal Democrat MPs at last seem to have sorted out how they are going to vote in this debate. That question should never have been allowed to grab so much air time. Those Lib Dem MPs in the Government should vote with the Government or resign from it. The rest can do as they please. This simple rule should apply to all issues and should have been in place ages ago thus preventing all the 'will you won't you' dithering & bad publicity. We are having an enormous problem going from a party of protest to a party of power. It is much easier to be a party of protest and most Lib Dems feel very comfortable in that role. Almost 50yrs ago when asked about the pressures that forced pragmatism to compromise principle Harold McMillan replied : "Events dear boy, events". Of course in Scotland since devolution, and in many Town & County Halls across the land, hundreds of LibDems have had to cope with the conflicts created by power both shared and by themselves but it is very new to the Parliamentary Party. Let's hope they learn & make a better job of it in future than they have this time.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Show a little dignity Mr Woolas

Phil Woolas was, and still is, shameless over his teams General Election campaign. The Court ruling against him does not represent the death of normal political rough & tumble nor will it 'chill political speech' as he claims.It simply requires election literature & political statements to have a nodding acquaintance with that old fashioned concept called truth and some tenuous understanding of the word 'fact'. The opposition in Nevada prior to last weeks election were told that the incumbent supported using tax money to give Viagra to sex offenders. Fox News told Americans that President Obama's trip to Asia would cost Taxpayers $200m a day. Both of these are blatant lies. $200m a day exceeds the cost of US activity in Afghanistan - as Fox News must well know. Do we REALLY want to import this kind of politics? And by the way we had better give total support to the BBC which is under attack from guess who owns Fox News.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Road safety

On November 7th some 550 cars, all built before 1905, will travel from London to Brighton to celebrate the raising of the speed limit to 12mph. With all the speed restrictions in force today it is worth noting that in 1935 with only 2.3 million vehicles on the roads some 7000 people died in road accidents. June 1st this year was the 75th anniversary of the introduction of a driving test in order to get a licence. Today, with well over 30million vehicles on the roads the number of deaths is about 3500. Whilst every death is a personal tragedy we might actually get on better at avoiding them if we celebrated the achievement of drivers in keeping this figure so low instead of demonising them.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Liam Fox speech to Tory Conference

The Tory faithful gave one of its few spontaneous rounds of applause during Liam Fox's speech to the news that there will be a Trident replacement. Yet in his shopping list of all the threats & theaters of conflict in which we might find ourselves and with which he opened his speech [setting aside ritualistic Labour bashing] there was not a single one for which Trident would have been of any conceivable use whatsoever. This is an issue where Liberal Democrat MP's and activists must march with their feet into lobbies and polling booths and say NO. Any such action will not bring down the Coalition. It will send a powerful message that there are some compromises that are a step too far.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Strategic Defence Review

The right wing of the Tory Party will bring down this coalition & cut David Cameron's throat without blinking as soon as they think it might provoke a general election which they can win & only they can afford. The leaked [how convenient] letter from Liam Fox could be viewed as a first opportunity & skirmish in this process.

In truth the country does not need any form of Trident replacement. Since we can't fire the missiles without approval from Washington it was arguably a nonsense when it was first built all those years ago.[I had some minor personal involvement in those days]. We don't need tranche 3b of Eurofighter - nor does BAE Systems. The future is Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAV) & BAE is putting huge effort into those (just as Fylde LibDems were arguing they should during the 2005 General Election). The CVF Aircraft carriers? Well as an island nation we do need to be able to build big ships but it's doubtful if these are the right ones. I have been following the progress of these vessels through the politics, design & procurement for best part of five years & to be brief they are already massively over budget & years behind schedule and have serious questions about endurance.

If these 'ego polishing' projects were cut or massively re-worked, combined with pruning of the hugely overweight MoD Civil Service and Senior Officer ranks, there would not be a need for more defence cuts. Indeed it is probable we could give more numbers, equipment & support to the 'poor bloody infantry' that are so marvelously doing the last Labour Governments dirty work on the ground & still save a stack of money.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The private life of media bosses.

If I had the money I would love to spend it on 'investigative journalism' and 'sting' operations into the private lives of the movers and shakers in our great & glorious media. Have none of them ever visited prostitutes or had extra marital affairs? Does any one remember the almost total absence of comment in the organs of News International when the great Rupert was getting his divorce? Does anybody actually care (except Mrs Rooney of course) what Wayne Rooney might have done with his sex life? Aforesaid movers & shakers might claim that they are not public figures & thus their private behaviour is not a matter of public interest. What rubbish. They wield more power than any politician & should be subject to rigorous & continuous scrutiny in the public interest that they profess to care so much about.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Punishment fit the crime?

From just one edition of my local paper the sentencing policy of the Magistrates suggests that all that seems to really matter to make our roads totally safe is that you don't exceed some arbitrary speed limit, often bearing little relevance to the true safe speed for the road.

Female without insurance: Fine £100 & six points
Female without insurance: Fine £65 & six points
Man without insurance: Fine £525 plus £85 costs and eight points
Man without insurance: Fine £250+£50costs+£15victim surcharge
Female twice over drink limit: Fine £100 & 18month ban
Man 50% over drink limit: Fine £305 & banned for 12months

Male caught exceeding 30mph limit [doesn't say by how much – if it had been a substantial excess would have been mentioned or even a headline]: Fine £60 plus costs £ 50 plus victim support £15 plus 3 points

What do we learn from this? Well as far as these magistrates are concerned if you are a woman you can save yourself several hundred pounds by not buying insurance. Bad luck on your victims but clearly they are of no consequence to this Bench. Actually being female is a great advantage. Previously a drunk uninsured woman who ran over a boy & broke both his legs got away with a trivial punishment.

Still never mind.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Who are the truly stupid

I've just been reading about the plight of the American 99ers in the paper. We are a bit more receptive to the needs of those who are unemployed in the UK although we have to wait & see exactly what the revisions to the benefit system amount to. The devil is always in the detail. I'd feel more comfortable if the media & political focus was equally condemnatory, & determined to act, over those who 'massage' their tax bill - legally or otherwise. It is hard to escape the conclusion the that the truly, really, stupid in this country are those who work hard, don't make a damn nuisance of themselves & pay their taxes. That is not a good conclusion. I'd like to see a concerted number of positive steps by government to convince me it wasn't true

You have to be impressed.

The World Bank is to lend [not donate you notice] $900m to Pakistan to relieve the distress of maybe 20million people. About one sixth of the bonus pot being dished out by Goldman Sachs to relieve the distress of a few thousand employees. You've just got to be impressed!!!! No wonder the rest of the world hates the Anglo American power block.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Special relationship my eye

Much excitement over Nick Clegg calling the Iraq war 'illegal' at PMQ's but why shouldn't he? This has always been the LibDem view since before the war started & the Tories were gung ho in favour of it. We haven't joined the Tory Party & don't have to support their position on everything. Much more of a gaffe was David Cameron talking about 1940. Personally I am sick to the back teeth over all this rubbish about 'special relationship' with the USA. If it ever existed it was given a cruel blow when, no sooner had WWII ended the USA was demanding repayment of our war loan. It was given a further battering when the USA (rightly) refused to support the Suez adventure. We gave it a belt when Harold Wilson (rightly) refused to go into Vietnam. One could go on - the full listing of failures of mutual support since 1945 could fill pages. The USA did not enter WWI or WWII until their own self interest was at stake. I don't object to that but for goodness sake let's stop kidding ourselves. Cameron needs to tell the USA that GREAT BRITAIN won the battle to stop Hitler in 1940 - ALONE. At the time the USA was being pretty unsupportive.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Know thyself

The UK Ambassador to Lebanon dared to observe that " The World needs more men like him [the late Ayatollah Fadlallah] willing to reach across faiths, acknowledging the reality of the modern world and daring to confront old constraints". According to reports the Ayatollah was pretty hard line & militant in his opposition to the USA & Israel. So predictably the Israeli Government protested & the 'blog' was taken down. Israel said "The British Ambassador must decide whether promoting terror and giving it religious justification can be considered a heritage to be cherished". If the Government of Israel applied this statement to itself some progress toward peace in the Middle East might just begin to be possible.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A very sick world

In a major three page story on Sunday 11th July 2010 about Haiti the Observer noted that only a fraction of the more than $5bn aid promised by the international community since the devastating earthquake on 12th January 2010 had so far been delivered. Millions are still living in tents & shacks made from essentially debris. If they are lucky they might get as much as $2 a day to live on. On the 21st January 2010 Goldman Sachs announced a bonus pot of $16.2bn. Something is surely very very sick in our homo sapiens world.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Getting a true sense of priorities

Some elements of our great & glorious press make our little chests swell with pride at the grasp they have of true priorities. Never mind the floods in Brazil, the tragic death of the 300th soldier in Afghanistan, ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and so on & so on. Yesterdays Daily Mail devoted its' entire front page to the love life of Chris Huhne.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

People in White Houses shouldn't throw stones

Without downplaying the extent of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in any way I am enraged, but not surprised, by the bullying reaction of Obama & the United States mouthpieces in general. BP have handled this all wrong by grovelling. The way you handle bullies is to be aggressive.

Of course BP should, & did, apologise. But the USA should be reminded that when the American owned Piper Alpha platform in the North Sea blew up on July 8th 1988 killing 167 people the British Government didn't go in for hysterical US bashing.

And what about Bhopal where, due to the American Union Carbide's negligence, on Dec 3rd 1984 thousands of 'small people' were killed & many thousands more are still suffering today. And where is the Union Carbide [now Dow Chemical Corporation] $20billion compensation for them whilst the UC Chairman at the time enjoys a luxurious retirement?

And whilst on the subject of 'small people' why on earth did no one in BP have the guts to point out to the Americans that the Chairman of BP is Swedish, who is therefore speaking in a foreign language, & how many pig thick US Executives struggle with intelligible American let alone a foreign tongue.

Following the Piper Alpha disaster the UK government commissioned an investigation leading to the Cullen report. This recommended that a back up system to the main well-head blow-out preventer (for natural gas and crude oil sub-sea well-heads) should be installed in UK waters. This was implemented and anyone who knows the oil business knows that oil companies and operators using subsea systems in UK waters will have emergency well-head shut down, oil spill containment and clean up procedures in place for all their operations as it is a legal requirement. It appears that US Regulators chose not take up this lesson from the UK experience.

The problem with the recent BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was that the sub-sea well head blow-out preventer (the main safety device to shut down the well if there is a failure in the well, pipeline or riser) failed and there was no back up safety system to shut down the crude flow from the well. This failed blow out preventer was made by Cameron, a major US offshore equipment supplier.

We are always hearing about how religious the Americans are. Perhaps they could remember the parable of the mote & the beam.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

What changes?

In June 1954 Alan Turing committed suicide. He was 43 and a man to whom Britain owed an unbelievable debt as a front runner in the cracking of the German codes in WWII and a pioneer of the computer. In 1952 he was exposed as an homosexual and was given the choice of prison or castration by chemical injection. Fifty six years on David Laws commits a silly indiscretion driven by fear of the consequences of his homosexuality and, despite widely acclaimed talent (although not in Turing's league), is hounded out of office by our great & glorious press. Pity one cannot accumulate great wealth by the simple act of being sanctimonious hypocrites.If one could the British wouldn't have a debt crisis.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Ignore the world, we're doing OK

A few minutes ago on BBC Breakfast our Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, pointed out that incidents like the recent Israeli high seas piracy are not in Israels best long term interest. What else, I suppose, can he say? The whole world, except the Government of Israel, wants to believe that this is true & hopes Israel will see the light. Not surprisingly Israel holds a different view because, for the last 40yrs, it has been flouting international law & world opinion & no damage whatsoever has been done to its' interests in any place that matters. There is no incentive whatsoever for the government of Israel to change its' policies & there won't be until the USA, Britain & the EU seriously start to give it a hard time & stop talking nonsense about 'even handedness' & 'both sides' and 'right to defend itself'. I'm not holding my breath. Just try and imagine what would have happened if we had turned the Catholic areas of Belfast into present day Gaza because 'we had a right to defend ourselves'.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


I felt a bit sorry for poor old Gordon during the election but really one shouldn't. Outside 'the dismal science' of economics he really was hopeless. How on earth did he think Sir Ian Blair was worthy of a peerage in the dissolution honours?

The Great Repeal Act

My daughter & granddaughter have the 'flu. Attempting to buy some paracetamol & other palliatives I'm told that I can only buy two packets of such items. Of course I can go back round the supermarket & turn up at a checkout at the opposite end of the line with two more, and then trot round a few chemists and so forth. We may have scrapped ID cards but there is just so much of this trivial, irritating & totally useless legislation that I doubt we will really see much by way of a return of common sense. I did have a fear that if Labour had got back in I might have seen a law passed instructing me to follow a set Government procedure for the wiping of the backside so I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies.

Hague the feeble

Our Foreign Secretary ' -- deplores loss of life'. Whoppee doo. The State of Israel is not going to rejoin the ranks of civilised nations until its' friends muster the guts to give its political leadership a good hammering. The present action should be roundly and unequivocally condemned. No ifs buts or other qualifications.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Divine right of Kings

My wife suggests that we should return to the Divine Right of Kings. The Queen has more experience of politics than all the Party Leaders put together, commands worldwide respect, and could hardly make a bigger balls up [Sorry for your Labour leadership ambitions Ed] than our elected leaders over the last 30yrs. And think of the shed loads of money we would save without both Houses of Parliament to pay for.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Modern politics upended

Can't believe it's so long since I put anything on here.

Gordondum and Daviddee
Agreed to have a battle;
For Gordondum said Daviddee
Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

Just then flew down a smiling Clegg
All bright & shiny yellow;
Which frightened both the heroes so,
They quite forgot their quarrel.'

And then did the only thing they have ever agreed on: joining forces to
crush the Clegg. Don't let it happen VOTE LIB DEM

[with apologies & acknowledgments to Lewis Carroll]