Sunday, December 31, 2006

My Predictions for 2007

Here are my predictions for 2007:

  • 2007 will start on January the 1st.
  • There will be charges in the Cash for Peerages/Honours scandal.
  • The threat of charges will cause canaries to sing.
  • Charges will be brought for obstructing the police investigation.
  • Gordon Brown will end up with a coronation in about September.
  • There will be no deputy leadership election either on grounds of cost.
  • There won't be a snap election, or indeed any in 2007.
  • Labour will lose 350 to 500 seats in the May locals.
  • Labour will lose control of the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies.
  • There will be no consensus on party funding so Labour will force something through which will be unpopular in the country and will be reversed when the government changes hands.
I could go on, but I think that covers it. I think the first prediction is a cert as well ;)

Update 22:14

I forgot to say Happy New Year to every one! I hope you all had a good Christmas!

Saddam Hussein and Gerald Ford still dead

I have not said anything much about Gerald Ford, who died at 93. Seemed like a good bloke and seemed to do a good job. I was only 8 at the time he lost the election in 1976 though so I won't go on and on. Good job well done, Gerald, you had a good innings, we wish you well and may you rest in peace.

Whilst I don't agree with capital punishment, but I give no eulogy for Saddam.

What bugs me though is the 24 hour news coverage which seems to ignore all other news.

Really chaps, we get the message, there dead, and barring a miracle they will stay that way. Any chance of any news?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein Al Tikriti executed today

Saddam Hussein was executed today. I can't say I will mourn him. He was never nominated for the Novel Peace prize, or Humanitarian of the year. I doubt he will be missed.

However I don't agree with the death penalty. That said he was tried and executed under Iraqi law. Unfortunately he was executed on an Islamic holy day for Sunnis, when prisoners are normally released or pardoned. The timing was wrong.

He also managed to go to the gallows with dignity, in short some sot of propaganda victory for his cause. We do need to learn.

You can read the BBC's article here.

Friday, December 29, 2006

World War II debt repaid

You will no doubt have heard this on the news. You can read the BBC article here.

What interested me about the war debts we have is that we stopped paying of debts for the First World War in 1934. These debts are huge. However we are actually owed more than we owe. So the US could bankrupt us by ending the repayment moratorium, but then we could avoid that by bankrupting others, including I believe the French!

I was also staggered to hear we still owe for the Napoleonic wars, though who to, I have no idea.

Wars are very very expensive in terms of blood and treasure. They should only be entered into as a last resort, rather than because your mate the illiterate idiot across the pond thinks it is a good idea.

Interesting fact about World War one is that we finished it with 22,000 serviceable aircraft, most of which were sold off as surplus.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hazel Blears opposes and supports government policy at the same time!

You could not make this up. Hazel "Chipmunk" Blears supports the reorganisation of the NHS which will result in the closure of hospital units, but not in her own constituency of Salford where she opposes it.

Well if she opposes government policy she should not be in government and certainly not the Party chairman responsible for discipline.

She says she has every right to fight for her constituency. Well fair enough behind the scenes in cabinet, but to take to the streets is bizarre. That said Dr John "Comrade" Reid has done the same.

Is Labours party discipline so shot to bits that cabinet ministers can protest against their own governments policies? (To be fair to Comrade Reid, he is not part of the Scottish executive that makes those decisions)

See this in the Guardian or this on the BBC.

Hat tip to Andrea on political betting for the links to the story.

Update: 11:50

Apparently Jacqui Smith has been at it too. See here. So what of cabinet government?

Megaphone conversation goes on, this time from Iraq

I wrote here about what I thought was the bizarre megaphone conversation between Tony Blair and our troops in Afghanistan here. He said they could have what ever they wanted, through the press and the answer came back through the press.

We now have the commander of British forces in Southern Iraq, Major General Richard Shirreff, adding his tuppence worth here.

It appears he feels the armed forces are under resourced. He puts it down to a generation of under funding and to be fair blames both this and past governments.

This all started with the peace dividend. This was the stupid idea that the end of the cold war would lead to a fluffy cuddly world where we did not need quite the military we had before. Of course the cold war was swiftly followed by the first Gulf war, chaos in Somalia and Afghanistan, the Balkan wars and lots of other conflicts.

You would have hoped that at some point in this obvious lack of peace politicians would have stopped taking the peace dividend and realised it was a folly from start to finish, but the fact is that our troops are now engaged in more places at one time than they have been since the Second World war. We just do not have the troop numbers and I don't care what the MOD say, the equipment to do the job at hand.

Not only do we need to look at defence spending again, but it is also clear that we need to un merge some regiments and rebuild our army.

Allergy Advice Contains peanuts

On what was this advice given you might ask?

A packet of dry roasted peanuts.

Funnier than any of the jokes in the Christmas crackers!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas everyone!

Just thought I'd say that. I hope you have a good Christmas and that those you love have a good one too.

Met Chief talks rubbish again

In Fridays Today program on Radio 4, reported in the Telegraph yesterday (Sorry can't find the article, the Telegraph's search engine does not seem up to much), Sir Ian "I really am the most ignorant pratt you will ever meet" Blair said the threat of terrorism was greater than the cold war and second world war.

Iain Dale here, argues that this is scare tactics. I disagree. It is merely proof that Sir Ian Blair is one of the most ignorant people in any position of power in the country. I called for his resignation here and I do so again. The man is an ignorant git.

For the avoidance of doubt, had the cold war kicked off as a nuclear war we could have lost millions in minutes, and in one raid on Coventry during the blitz 568 civilians died in one night, in one city.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Insidiousness of Closed Courts

Family courts operate in secret. That is they are not open to the public, nor indeed reporting. That means that they get no, or rather very little scrutiny.

Social services seem to operate on the basis of being too scared of some parents or careers, or perhaps too chaotic and over worked, to save some children from what with hindsight becomes obvious abuse, to being too keen to take children away.

There is very little scrutiny of the system whilst no one is dying horrifically. This leads to cases like this one, highlighted in a leader in today's Times by Camilla Cavendish. Let us make no mistake here, she reports it from a misandrists stand point labouring the plight of the mother yada yada, without much care for the pain the father is going through, but the facts are there all the same. A child is being deprived of it's parents because there is a suspicion that the father may have done something to another of his children by a different woman 10 years ago. He still lived with his other children and they were not taken away. Bizarre.

The child has been put up for adoption by Social Services. The case is winging its way to the European Courts.

There are two things that are fundamentally flawed here. Firstly the way in which the courts operate in secrecy, and secondly the prospect that a child may end up being adopted and therefore both parents and child deprived of each other for life before the case is finally finished. When the death sentence was abolished, a successful appeal would mean something, you could get released. When a child is adopted, that is it. You can't get them back. That you can then win on appeal and not receive justice is horribly perverse.

There are many things wrong with the family courts, and this is certainly one.

Labour isn't Working!

According to figures from this article in the Times today.

Youth unemployment is higher than in 1997, as are inflation and interest rates.


It looks like Ken Clarke's legacy is being wasted.

Mark Senior will no doubt be along to tell us how Gordon Brown has done any minute now.

That said consumer debt on credit cards seems to be dropping which is a good thing, as long as it does not happen to fast leading to an economic slow down.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Domestic Violence that dare not speak its name

I listened to a piece on this mornings Today program on Radio 4. The plan is to build safe "panic rooms" for women so that they can be safe from domestic abuse should their male ex become a problem.

You can read the BBC's article on their website here.

Neither it, nor the government seem to mention domestic violence perpetrated by women on men. Not Once!

However I did note this article, prompted by Surrey Police which does make it clear that domestic violence is both man on woman and woman on man. You can read that article here. It is also the first time I have seen a domestic abuse poster featuring a battered male.

Whilst I am at it, in recent years I can only recall ONE NSPCC advert that did not feature a man as the abuser of his children, and that was recently. Most violence against children according to one study I heard about was a woman beating a child. (To be fair they get more contact time).

So let us stop this misandry, domestic violence is perpetrated by men and women against men women and children. It is clear that when a government has a Minister for Women who does not acknowledge women on men domestic violence in the language used, that government is dominated by misandrists.

Update 13:34

I forgot to mention also the women on women, and men on men domestic violence and sexual assault which also occurs in same sex households, which does not even get a look in to the point that even I forgot about it whilst writing the main article.

Nominations for Tony's last honours list!

Well, I wrote this article here, asking who would want to be on Tony Blair's resignation honours list and here are the nominations so far:

John Prescott (rumoured)
David Blunkett (Nominated by Ellee)
Stephen Hawking (By Ellee for *cough* genuine reasons)
Peter Mandelson ( Anonymous)
Alistair Campbell (ChrisD)

Any more nominations welcome.

Update: 11:54

Think of this as Tony Blair's disHonours List.

Family breakdown and government policy

Frankly there has not been enough discussion of Ian Duncan Smith's policy paper on Social Justice, entitled Breakdown Britain. You can find the website of the Center for Social Justice here, and the Breakdown Britain report here.

There is a huge amount government can do, for example as well as having a minister for women, or children why not have a minister for families?

Apparently according to this article in yesterdays Telegraph Gordon Brown is quoted thus:

"Gordon Brown said in his 1998 Budget that 'support should be based on family need – not family structure."

Which appears in part responsible for 200,000 families lying about their status to get more benefits. It seems to make sense to live apart, or at least to pretend to. What is more of a concern to me is how many of the 1.9 million families that do genuinely live apart do so in part because of crazy benefit or government related pressure?

There is no doubt, or at least there should not be that a stable family is the best place in which to bring up a child. We need to make it clear that stable families are supported.

People also equate living together with being married. After all, what bigger commitment is there than having children together?

Well, it has to be said that having children together is a big commitment, but it is a different commitment to being together in sickness and in health for richer or for poorer.

We do need to preach values.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tony Blair's last honours list- Will anyone want to be on it?

Well, you have to ask. After all the scandal and rumour surrounding the cash for peerages affair, you do have to wonder if any one will want to be on his last list when he resigns.

Rumour has it that John "Two Jags, Three Shags, Three Houses" Prescott will be in it, but will any one else.

Nominations please!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Liberal Democrats and the Politics of Envy

Thanks to Yellow Peril who pots on for a link to this article in today's Observer.

Apparently Vince Cable thinks the Goldman Sachs payouts are obscene. Well, lost of things are obscene like for example the cash for peerages affair and child pornography, but high bonuses are not on my list I am afraid.

What is even more of a concern is that Vince Cable is reported to be bleating about second home and share capital gains tax after 10 years. It drops to 10 percent. Presumably he would like to scrap that rule. However there is a reason why it is there, and that is to encourage people to hold on to investments for the long term rather than speculate in the short term. Changing the rule may well lead to a return to more short termism. It does help to think things through.

Meanwhile whilst our boys are dying in the field the Defence budget is cut

Yes, according to this story in today's Sunday Telegraph the MOD is looking to save £1 billion.

You just could not make this up.

It should be noted that is to keep the MOD on budget, with cuts already announced rather than a new cut, but it is clear that there is not enough cash being spent on these wars to win them.

Hat tip to Alex on for the link.

Cash for Peerages, Another Sunday morning update.

Well, I posted an article on Saturday about the cash for Peerages Saga. It seems it is on the front of Sundays Telegraph, Times and Independent. That won't make for happy reading in Labour circles.

Broadly the thrust of the stories I have seen is that Lord Levy's friends are still saying he won't be a fall guy, this time with knobs on. Blair is failing to endorse Levy in public or private (how do they know about all the private bits?) All in the Telegraph here. The peerage nominations in question were for public service according to the nomination papers from the Independent here. Of course some senior aids to be questioned again from the Sunday Times here.

The most interesting one is the Independent on Sunday revisiting the nomination papers because it indicates that Tony Blair *cough* told the Police something which later turned out to be incorrect.

The line that they were nominated for "party service" looks holed well below the water line, unless service means giving cash. Yates of the yard will be sending someone round for another chat with our Tony. Mark my words.

Update 10:46

Forgot to mention this article in the Observer. Sources say that Gordon was involved in attempts to honour Ronnie Cohen and Wilf Stevenson.

Labour is leaking against itself. Expect fireworks over Christmas as journalists look to fill their pages and people who are bitter about yesterdays leaks provide tomorrows.
(hat tip to Mike Smithson of for the link to the Observer article)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Cash for Peerages, When will the Canaries Sing?

I said in this post here that as it looked like six people may end up being charged over the cash for honours affair, then some one will start singing. I thought it might be at the trial. I may have been wrong.

This article in the Times suggests that Lord Cashpoint Levy's and St. Tony Blair's accounts do not tally. That means that Yates of the Yard will want to have another word with Lord Levy, or rather get some more written statements from him, because that is what he seems to have been doing so far. I wonder how convenient he now finds his office fire of late last year?

If Yates pressures the right people, who it looks like Tony has dropped in it, then they may well have to give up more information to save their own skins. That will mean of course that Tony Blair may well be questioned again, and if so it may well end up being under caution.

In other news I was listening to the Today programme on Radio 4 yesterday morning when I heard Tony Wright, Chairman of the Public Administration Committee of the House of Commons say this:

"I have taken the view that this police investigation has been a kind of shock to the system and, on the whole, a good one, I am not sure that any further public benefit will be served by this going any further. I think the benefit from it has now been obtained."
To which I say:

"Bog off and stop trying to influence the Police in an important investigation!"
There is also more in today's Telegraph here.

What is also interesting is that Gordon Brown has issued a statement to the Telegraph on Saturday here denying the story raised by Channel 4 news on Wednesday which I commented on here. It seems Gordon and his cronies are worried that "elements" in the Labour party are trying to tie him into the sleaze. Depending on how that goes expect more infighting soon. It seems though that the statement issued by Number 11 was also approved by Number 10, so it may not be a direct fight between Gordon and Tony but a scrap amongst the acolytes. Should be fun all the same!

You can read more on the Cash for peerages saga here.

Mentioned in Dispatches!

Just thought I would mention that someone at ITN's Channel 4 news emailed me yesterday to say that I had been mentioned in their blog! See here.

Also of note, is that according to Dizzy, here, John Prescott's "website has received 2771 unique hits since August. This blog did that in 3 months! (And traffic is growing here) So this blog is more popular than John Prescott's website, fantastic! Mind you I suspect a lot of blogs are more popular.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cash for Peerages, Tony Blair questioned

So much for pure than pure!

Had some one said that Tony Blair would be questioned as part of a police inquiry in to a criminal investigation of corruption a year ago, surely people would have laughed!

They are not laughing now, though they seem to be trying to spin this as some sort of result. Further more Chanel 4 reports that maybe as many 6 people will be charged. Expect them to sing like canaries at trial, hence Yates of the Yard making sure no one has any last minute recollections at trial (as happened in the Burrell Trial, see here)

Let us just be clear, no sitting Prime minister has ever been questioned by the Police before!

Guido seems to have got hold of No 10's media grid for the day, here and it seems they were hoping to have such a busy news day that no one would notice things like the 2500 Post Office closures, the cancelling of the Serious Farce Fraud Office investigation into BAE and corruption as well. It appears not to have worked. And it appears they wanted to bury bad news under the Diana inquiry. Hmm...

What seems worse for labour is that the Sun has for two weeks been very negative on Gordon Brown. I am no fan of the Murdoch press, but this is an interesting development.

The BBC has this here. I also recommend reading Guido above and here and Iain Dale here and here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cash for Peerages, Gordon Brown in the frame!

I just heard a story on Channel 4 news about a certain Ronnie Cohen being given an honour forced through by the Treasury against the advice of officials!

Strangely Guido covered Ronnie Cohen's links to Gordon Brown here in October, though his information did not seem quite so specific as Channel 4's.

Ronnie Cohen has provided Labour with quite a lot of funds as well as funding some of Gordon's pet projects. You would have to wonder if he contributed to Gordon Brown's blind trust now wouldn't you.

Alex Salmond was getting on his high horse about it as well. Well Alex, don't do that, just put in a complaint to Yates of the Yard!

I will update with more links to more news stories as they become available.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bob Piper stops blogging - for now

Apparently according to this post on his blog he seems fed up with the storm over the racism row. So he has for now decided to give it a break.

I hope he changes his mind. There are some quite simple rules to blogging. If you try to offend some people expect to have them come and bite back. If that is a problem try not to offend.

That said some times offending people can and is justified, in which case you had better stick to your guns.

Still sometimes you can make points with out resorting to sound bites and being offensive. I'd rather hoped that is what the blogosphere could be. We get enough silly soundbite diatribes in the MSM with out doing it the same way here.

Still the row may have some upsides. Unity at Minitrue has come up with this explanation of why he posted the original which is really good and despite its length well worth the read.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Is Bob Piper Toast?

Many people will have noticed that a certain Labour councillor for Sandwell one Bob Piper who's blog is here has received much flak for a post on his blog using an image from the Ministry of Truth (Does he realise just how Orwellian that is?) here.

Bob has now taken it down.

However the storm looks set to continue. In many replies on his blog it seems clear he has offended people. Fair enough politics does, however what caused him to take down the article appears to have been his Labour group leaders comments as reported by the BBC here rather than him coming to his senses on his own. What also seems clear is that Councillor Bob will be reported to the Standards Board for England and possibly to the Commission for Racial Equality as well. An adverse finding by the SBE or CRE will finish him.

Could it possibly get any worse for Councillor Bob?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Councillor Bob Piper in racism row!

Dizzy has covered it here and here. Apparently he has been mentioned on the BBC. It is all over a picture he copied from the Ministry of Truth, (again covered by Dizzy)

There are many things to be irked about over this and many others have said it, but what is really getting my goat is that after having got to top spot for political blogs on (See here) then being quite some way ahead I have a quick peak and Bob's old blog has stolen my spot! (See here)

I'll sulk in a corner for a while ;)

Any one fancy getting me a mention on telly?

Update: 21:33

Bob Piper has taken his post down. You can visit Bob's blog here. Prague Tory originally started the outrage rolling here meanwhile the first pratt and originator was The Ministry of bollocks Truth here.

Is this why Gordon's tax figures are wrong?

As I have said in previous comments on the pre budget report Gordon Brown sets his own growth target and meets them when he marks the paper. Vince Cable said as much in his response to the pre budget report in the House of Commons. However where Gordon Brown tends to fall down and can't mark his own numbers is how much he has raised in tax compared to forecast. Many other commentators have noticed as well. He almost never gets as much tax in as he thought.

The question has to be why?

Well here are two situations where tax has been avoided. There is the often covered in Private Eye Mapely Steps PFI scandal where the Treasury buildings were sold off to a PFI firm in a tax haven who laughably have pleaded poverty and lack of profit to Select Committees in the House of Commons who are now not paying large amounts of tax.

Then there is this article in the Independent on Sunday which shows that even Labour want to avoid having stamp duty paid at the full rate on the sale of it's old head quarters!

So the government and the governing party are involved in tax avoidance. No wonder tax receipts are down!

Hat tip to Mystic Moon on for pointing out the Independent article.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Is Gordon to be coronated?

It is interesting that there seems to be some buzz around the story that some Labour MP's want to scrap the post of deputy leader of the Labour party. The reason? They seem to think that an election for deputy leader would be divisive and expensive. You can read the BBC story here.

but hold on a minute. If the deputy leader election is held at the same time as the leaders election then it won't cost much more. So what is going on? Do they want Gordon to have a coronation?

Frankly I can't see it as there are a number of members of the cabinet who would stand if they thought they could win. However if they don't run, and John McDonnell does not get his 44 signatures then perhaps the squeeze will be on to save money.

Only one question remains. Who has put them up to it? Answers on a postcard!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pre Budget Report, early comments

It's going to take some time to come up with a considered opinion on this one. The news papers have done a lot of work on this and financial journalists will have done lots of work on this before hand. You can read the report yourself here.

Two things strike me. Firstly the language is so obviously partisan like Gordon howling his rubbish from the very pages you read, rather than the dry report report that I was expecting. The other is the ever increasing Public Sector borrowing requirement, which has risen above forecast and is rising as a percentage of GDP. According to the report it will continue to rise until 2010 when it seems that they claim it will level off at 38.4% of GDP.

Gordon Brown has made much of his so called prudence. I can't see it here. If you still need to increase borrowing after 57 continuous quarters of growth you are either not collecting enough tax or you are spending too much.

The amusing this is why the hole in the public finances is getting bigger though. It is because of lower than expected tax revenues. Gordon always seems to get his growth forecasts right (though he sets the estimate and as Vince Cable said yesterday, marks the paper) he always seems to over estimate the tax take. Perhaps the growth figures are just wrong?

Also oil companies investment in the North Sea seems to be down since they had a massive windfall tax slapped on them. Never mind the years of risk taking to get the oil or the times when oil has been only just profitable to produce in the North Sea, make a healthy profit for the risk then you get slapped with a tax. Shame Gordon can't do that to the PFI firm who owns the treasury buildings, they are in a tax haven!

Of course green taxes as a percentage of the tax take are still way less under the Conservatives, but then what did you expect.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Iraq a mess Official - The Iraq Study Group report

You can read the report for your self here. It looks like some real Conservatives are taking on the situation and looking to work out a solution.

In many ways of course it is far too late as we need not have got in this mess in the first place. You can read my article on why we are in this mess here, and other articles on Iraq here.

What I was most interested in though was the recognition by the presidential nominee for Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitting that America was not winning the war in Iraq. Amusingly Tony Blair when asked if he agreed said yes of course. I doubt he would have said that last week

You do have to wonder why it was that Rumsfeld decided to use the minimum number of troops possible to take Iraq. I have a theory that Donald what a pratt Rumsfeld thought that if he could take Iraq on a shoestring in terms of troops the Neo Cons could make the case for effectively building an empire.

What Rumsfeld missed though was that firstly the age of empires is in essence passed and secondly the worlds greatest empire, ours was built on a lot more than force and mouth. It was built on guile, cunning, statecraft, bribery and things that were Machiavelli still alive at the time would have caused him to rewrite his famous work, "The Prince". Of course all Rumsfeld brought to the table was the sort of stupidity that can only be born out of a high intellect and breath taking arrogance.

When I have read the report fully I will comment further.

That pre Budget Report in full

Ukrainian tractor production up 137.5%, better in fact than Ukraine which only managed 122%!


Golden bollocks Rule!

We will only borrow to invest over the economic cycle!

(Ed, hold on, we have had 57 straight quarters of economic growth so why do we need to borrow? Just how long is this economic cycle?)

We have invested more (Ed, surely spent?) than the Conservatives on Education and the NHS (Ed, hold on didn't Gordon say that spending wasn't the answer in 1997?) to build a better future for everyone in the country (Ed, apart from the people in the bottom 2 percentiles who are worse off then they were under the Conservatives)

We build on economic growth (Ed. You what? you jest surely? The only growth we get is by bringing more people into the labour market, keeping wages low and generally making people feel naffed off) built on massive public spending, private borrowing and bringing in more immigrants sound economics. (Ed, ah I see.)

We have borrowed to invest, I'd rather not admit how much, but it would make any decent man cry and I have not even included my favorite wheeze, PFI, and next year we will exceed what was forecast last year. to build a better future! That I won't be around to pay for!

Editorial note: Gordon Brown forecast borrowing between 2001 and 2006 of £28 Billion despite a record stretch of economic growth, but managed to borrow £129 Billion. Current forecasts of Gordon "whats prudence?" Brown indicate borrowing of £175 billion over the next 6 years. And you thought your mortgage was high? I expect that number to grow and be called "investment". However it does not include PFI.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Afghanistan. Have we got the tactics wrong?

I don't wish to bash our troops, they are doing a fine job with the troop numbers and equipment they have but I can only see problems in the tactics used.

Firstly I don't like the way platoon houses are being operated. This is where a number of troops hold a government compound in an important town or village.

These platoon houses get attacked on a regular basis as indeed such defensive positions have been attacked throughout the thousands of years of war. That would be OK if there were enough men and material to go out and meet the threat. There isn't so a firefight ensues between the waring parties catching much in the cross fire, until air support becomes available destroying where the enemy are.

This has two key problems. Firstly that which is caught in the cross fire and secondly which ever building the Taliban were holed up in gets destroyed possibly after they have left.

In short there is not enough military power about to prevent the Taliban taking up positions in towns as and when they like causing havoc for the civilians when fire fights start.

The second tactic used is long range patrols. In many ways these seem to work well in drawing out ambushes but the Taliban use the cover of other peoples houses to fight and they get destroyed. There is not a huge amount that can be done about this other than to bring each individual firefight to an end as soon as possible. They normally end with the dropping of a bomb. It looks like the Taliban know how long it takes to muster a plane with a bomb and frequently may be gone before it is dropped.

It both the platoon house and the long range patrol situation rapid air cover would be very useful. This will mean many more planes in the sky at all times on patrol, but it will help in both circumstances.

In short we lack men, armoured vehicles and aircraft. The government is trying to do Afghanistan on the cheap and if it continues on this path it may well fail.

It should of course be noted that attacks are down month on month, but the Taliban will use the winter to regroup and rearm. We need to cut off their cash and supply, which is a difficult job, as well.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Brown's promises from 1997

I read this interesting article in the Daily Telegraph today, by Ruth Lea. It goes through Brown's promises in 1997 and to some extent where we are now.

Here are some choice quotes:

More specifically, one of the key policy objectives of the Treasury is "increasing the productivity of the economy".

This has not happened. Productivity has disappointed, with an annual average growth of less than 2pc since 1997.

Growth from 1992 to 1997 was around 2.25pc, which was criticised at the time.
And then there is this:

Turning to the "tax 'n' spend" aspects of the Chancellor's record, the manifesto makes for interesting reading. May I quote some key passages? "The myth that the solution to every problem is increased spending has been comprehensively dispelled under the Conservatives."

"The level of public spending is no longer the best measure of the effectiveness of government action in the public interest. It is what money is actually spent on that counts more than how much money is spent."

"New Labour will be wise spenders, not big spenders."

Ah such promise dashed. In fact if you look at spending growth and productivity growth over time in the NHS spending seems to have little to do with productivity growth. It was much better between 1990 and 1999 then it has been since. That is an awful lot of money for little return spent since 1999.

A small apology

Readers of Political may have got the impression from this post of mine here that a Conservative government introduced universal primary education.

It appears from this article on wikipedia that this may not have in fact been the case.

I humbly beg forgiveness.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Brown plans to rearrange deck chairs on Titanic

Well, that's my take on this article in today's Observer by Will Hutton. Obviously Will Hutton seems impressed, I think that by this stage you can tell I am not.

Amongst Browns plans he wants to split the Treasury into two, one part responsible for economics but also taking trade and productivity from the DTI (DTI to go by the way) and finance, tacking the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise (all in one now anyway) and government spending.

Allegedly this will allow him to control economic policy better and then he can blame low productivity growth in the last 10 years on the structures of government. Never mind the fact that previous governments have had better productivity growth with the very same structures, he would like to rearrange the deckchairs all the same.

I suspect there are two real motivations behind this proposal. The first must be obvious. Brown does not want to be hamstrung in the way Brown has hamstrung Blair over the last 9 years. Brown wants no Brown as Chancellor, so make sure there is no Chancellor and there is no possibility of that. Prime Ministers before Blair would have just sacked Brown for being a pain and not following orders and in fact they have. It seems that as chancellor Brown had a unique position. His long service in the job is more down to the loyalty of his own supporters and keeping Blair at bay then to how he has done the job.

The other motivation is that some politicians, particularly on the left love to think that what ever was there is wrong and must be changed and they will leave their mark on history by doing it.

There is of course a fundamental problem with separating economics from government finance, and that is this: Government spending at anything like its current rate (and no one is likely to change that) has an enormous effect on the economy and economics in general. There is a huge danger in separating the two off is that policy between the two will be less joined up then it currently is.

Will Hutton does note that Harold Wilson tried this game in 1964 and within 5 years the Treasury had sunk it. Hutton contends that Brown knows more about the Treasury than anyone else so can make it stick. The problem with this thesis is that it assumes Brown is around in 5 years.

He also wants to lock in economic stability, don't we all? What can he do that can't be changed and undone by another government and is this just some wheeze to pass the buck if the wheels fall off the economy whilst he is still PM?

Apparently he wants to move the Attorney General out of politics. I wonder if he has ever asked himself the question "why is the Attorney General in politics?" because if he had he would appreciate the political accountability it gives.

Also there is a bit of kite flying like making the NHS independent, presumably so the government can avoid the blame, and setting up a body to advise on fiscal policy, spending and tax, so he can shrug his shoulders if there are unpopular things to do.

You would of course have to wonder how this country has copped without Brown as PM.

You can of course read more on Gordon Brown's record here.

We of course wait with baited breath to see what Gordon Brown comes up with in his pre budget report next Wednessday.

Hat tip to Arb Seeker on for pointing the Observer article out.

Nightmare for Cam the cuddly! Allegedly.

There was rather silly and indeed stupid article in to days News of the world today. Shows that it is nothing like a news paper any way. Please note the article has no permanent link so will break after a week.

The articles talks of the woes of the Conservative party under David Cameron blah blah blah.

Rather amusingly the on line edition invites us to review the survey yourself, and then links to this ICM poll which was carried out in February (is that news now or are they just useless?)

What the article is trying its best to avoid leading on is that the Conservatives lead 39% to 30% over Labour which according to Martin Baxter's electoral calculus gives a predicted overall majority to the Conservatives of 18. If that's a nightmare I say bring it on. (The Liberal Democrats got 20%)

Needless to say the poll watchers and pundits over at haven't taken any notice of the News of the World but a lot of notice of the poll which is taken as good news for the Conservatives.

How Polonium 210 kills you

I have noticed a few people seeming to wonder over here from google to find out, so I thought I would explain.

Polonium 210 is one of 25 isotopes of polonium all of which are radioactive. It is also a rare earth heavy metal. It is toxic as are metals like lead and mercury however you are unlikely to have enough polonium in your system to be greatly affected by the toxicity before the radiation gets you.

There are 3 sorts of radiation, alpha, beta and gamma. Imagine if you will that you are trying to shoot a target on one side of London from the other. Gamma radiation is like a fine laser beam, beta radiation is like a snipers bullet and alpha radiation is like firing a double decker bus out of a very large cannon. It won't get very far but is bound to damage something on the way.

Polonium 210 decays to lead 206 by emitting an alpha particle. Aplha particles are in essence a helium nuclei. That's 2 protons and two neutrons. It is the heaviest radiation some 7500 (approximately) times heavier than a beta particle and carries twice the electric charge.

It won't go far but on the way it will rip 2 electrons from other atoms and this is where the problem lies. When you do that to an atom in a stable compound like haemoglobin in blood or DNA that atom stops being a full part of the compound. In short ionising radiation (which is what it is) rips small bits of the body apart.

That is not a problem in itself as this happens in small numbers all the time. Cells repair and move on. However what happens with radiation is that more cells are damaged than would otherwise be the case so it makes recovery harder.

Polonium 210 is very radioactive, 1 gram gives off 166 trillion (yes that is a very big number) of alpha particles a second. Even a milligram gives off 166 billion alpha particles a second and frankly the body can't cope with that level of sustained damage every second. Bits of your body just break down and cease to function.

You can read more articles from this blog on polonium here.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Some Journalists are just plain stupid!

I have just had the misfortune of reading this article by Amanda Platell in today's Daily Fascist Mail.

She opines that Gordon Brown should not be PM because of his son Fraser's cystic fibrosis. She thinks it will be hard work and his family will need him more.

She thinks it is OK for David Cameron to be Leader of the opposition and Gordon Brown to be Chancellor, but not for Gordon to be PM. Hmm.. So presumably the same argument applies to David Cameron being PM?

No wonder she was so pants when working for William Hague.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Gold for National Anthem!

Apparently if you want to replace "God save the Queen" with Gold, by Spandau Ballet as the national Anthem there is a petition you can sign.

It's here, and it's priceless!

If you have your own silly petition you want to get publicised see No 10 Downing Streets E Petition website here.


Hat tip to Jonathan on

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Number 1 Ranked Political blog! *

On See here!

* Its not a very authoritative as a lot of high ranking bloggers have left it, but just felt like bragging!

(I had to capture the image just in case I slip down the list again.)

Education Education Education!

Remember Tony Blair saying that?

Crawley Labour party have a website. They have a special place for the Ifield section of their website here. (Please note the spelling) However today it looks like this!

Makes me feel so much better about my own typo's! makes you wonder how for the first time in the history of Crawley Council it changed hands from Labour to Conservative.

Hat tip this poster on

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Polonium 210 Splash it on all over!

Any one remember the Brut 33 advert with Henry Cooper and Kevin Keegan? The tag line was splash in on all over. Well that seems to be what has happened with Polonium 210.

I have to say that I am a bit mystified by the news that traces Polonium 210 has been found on three British Airways aeroplanes as well as a couple of other sites in London. You can read the BBC's report here.

The reason I am mystified is that the stuff is rare and I presume expensive, yet it appears to have been transported around and left all over the place. You do have to wonder how much the killers started off with.

That said the trail seems to lead back to Moscow. I suspect that if you ran a Geiger counter over the airport you would pick up a trail that led right back to KGB headquarters. That I have to say would make me very suspicious as it would start looking like a fit up. Umm...

I have just changed to a 3 column template

I did that mainly because I wanted to move things like topic labels up and add some other things to the side bar without having it disappear so far down the page where no one would read it.

Does it look OK? Please feel free to leave comments.

Victim statements- what if they were hated?

Having listened to current affairs for a while and listened to last nights channel 4 news in the light of this pointless and barbaric murder (as reported on the BBC here) the fiancee of the victim had read out a victim statement on her behalf.

Fair enough. It seems it may have played some part in sentencing.

The question is though, what happens when someone is killed who no one cares about, nobody loves, or indeed who may be universally derided and hated within in their community?

Does it make killing them alright? Or at least better than killing someone who people like?

We need to be ware that we do not rank people in what could be a horrific way even though it is for the best of reasons.

Update 23:50 30th November 2006

I just wanted to make it clear that I was not talking about Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin laden as a potential person for whom no one would read a witness statement, but Eleanor Rigby or the like. You know, that man or woman who lives on their own, has odd ideas doesn't like kids and does not have any.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Voter apathy and modern politics

Party member ship has collapsed since the 1950's when 1 in every 11 people were members of a political party to 1 in 88 now. (An interesting statistic I picked up from Sir Hayden Phillips report on party funding)

You have to ask why people have become so disconnected from politics?

Well, there are a number of reasons including the fact that life is a lot more comfortable for most people than it used to be. However one reason I can see for this is the way modern politics is conducted.

Take for example this article on the BBC's website from 1992 about John Major campaigning on his soap box in the general election.

A group of left wing activists turned up to heckle with load speakers. How profoundly ugly, childish and anti democratic is that? Similar also went on in the 2005 General Election with both Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy having their personal band of hecklers sent in by Labour to make sure they could not campaign.

In the 1992 campaign Jack Cunningham was asked when Neil Kinnock was going to get on his soapbox. He said:

"We have graduated from soapbox politics."
Well, it does not appear to be engaging people any more. This sort of behaviour is simply wrong. It puts people off politics and stifles debate. It is time for politicians to get back on their soap boxes and with a bit of luck the fascist tendency in the Labour party will not try to stifle debate.

Hat tip for the BBC article to Mike Smithson of

Party Funding II

I wrote about party funding on the 14th of July, here.

Labour set up a commission to look into the issue headed by Sir Hayden Phillips, whose website, .uk can be found here.

The review has published it's interim report which is available here.

On page 12 Sir Hayden Phillips says this:

"Finding a consensus on a new way forward for party funding will not be easy. The reform of party funding is not an end in itself, but a means to achieve the wider benefit of improving the quality of democracy. From the reaction the Review has received so far, I believe that the achievement of a good measure of cross-party agreement would be welcomed by the public. For that reason alone the process of the Review must be openly explained and not perceived as a private agreement only in the interests of the established political parties. Achieving agreement will require not just facilitation but an act of political will, including a readiness to accept that no one party will necessarily be able to achieve all of its objectives."
Which is interesting given this report in the Guardian, by Patrick Wintour their political editor. According to his information Labour are looking to bring forward legislation early next year to deal with the party funding issue regardless of the position of the other parties. This of course has many dangers associated with it not the least of which will be a battle Royal in the Lords.

Labour need to work on the basis of consensus on this one. It would be bad for democracy and indeed Labour if they don't.

What seems clear is that Labour are worried. They have £23 million in outstanding loans and it looks like they are going to have trouble paying them off. According to this report from the BBC it also appears that the Conservatives owe huge amounts as well, in fact £33.5 million. Mind you the Conservatives do not seem worried by this. Labour are also concerned that out side of the spending limit window the Conservatives are getting their campaigns in marginals going. This strikes me as a bit false as I am sure Labour were doing the same between 1992 and 1997.

It must be remembered that the reasons why people are being turned off politics is because they don't trust the parties. If you read Private Eye you will see why. Paying for some fringe event at the Labour party conference gets you on the platform, speaking with a minister and the appearance that you have just bought influence. If you add to this the Powder Ject issue you can see why people don't trust Labour.

All political parties need to re-engage with voters. This won't happen if every time some one ones to speak to the public a bunch of pratts from other parties turn up to heckle. That needs to stop.

Also state funding of political parties will go down like a lead balloon. It already happens, but the public don't know so don't care. If there is more state funding they may go bananas.

Hat tip to Jon on for the link to the Guardian story.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Polonium 210 A most peculiar poison

I was going to write an article deriding the idea that we should be worried about polonium 210, but having done some calculations I decided not to.

Polonium is a very odd thing to kill some one with. It is a bit poisonous but highly radioactive. People make the mistake of thinking that Uranium 235 is radioactive. It is a bit but not much. It is fissile which means that you can split its atoms with a slow moving neutron but is fairly harmless otherwise.

Polonium 210 on the other hand is highly radioactive. To give you an idea it radiates at 4,500 Curie per gram. A Curie is a unit or radioactivity. It is to radiation what the Fared is to capacitance and the Cubic Mile is to measuring milk. It is a phenomenally large measure of radioactivity.

Here are some other interesting facts.

The acceptable level of Polonium 210 in water is 0.2 Bq/L or 0.2 decays per second in 1 liter of water.

One Curie is 37 billion Becquerels.

Polonium 210 is rare. Very very rare. In fact estimated annual production is 100 grams. Not much. But then you don't need much to kill someone either.

A milligram ought to do it.

However it is a bit like killing someone with a hallmarked platinum bullet. Except that with the number of sites that this material turning up, its a bit like a machine gun burst of hallmarked platinum bullets. Bizarre. It also should not be that hard to track the source of the polonium either. So in effect the murder was signed. Who would do something like that?

I also found this article interesting.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Intercept evidence whats currently allowed

When this Government trots out proposals for new laws to deal with the threat of terrorism that vastly reduces our liberties and constitutional protection one of the things that both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats say is "Why not allow wire tap evidence to convict these people".

The answer is we could not possibly do that.

Well why not? There are only two common law jurisdictions that do not allow wire tap evidence in court. The UK and Hong Kong. Except that we do allow it in our courts if the wire tapping was carried out by someone else.

We also allow recordings of telephone conversations where one end is bugged. The Police also can and sometimes do insert a bug in a telephone, and get both ends of the conversation and this is still allowed.

In fact the only thing not allowed is intercepting a call remotely and using that as evidence. This is plainly nuts.

We do hear arguments about revealing methods but that can be covered by a public interest immunity certificate. So what is the argument?

Do we stick with Hong King on this one, and call the Dutch or Belgians every time we could do with a phone being tapped, or do we catch up with the rest of the civilised world?

Even the Director of Public Prosecutions wants wire tap evidence to be admissible.

For further information you can read about this weeks File on 4 here. Apparently you can't listen again until tomorrow.

The Union under threat

Well according to this article in the Telegraph its all over for the United Kingdom.

More than half of all respondents either side of the Scottish English border want rid of the Union.

As a Conservative and Unionist this breaks my heart. We have to ask how we got here and more importantly how we move forward.

It seems clear to me why we have lost the plot. The Conservative party was a massive force in Scotland before Margaret Thatcher, but after the poll tax was tried on them first that is no longer the case.

Labour have also been politically opportunistic in favouring devolution.

We are now in the most ridiculous of situations. Firstly the Scots feel rightly betrayed that in the Thatcher years policies were tried there first regardless of how Scotland's MP's voted, and now under Blair the English feel the same way, with Scottish MP's passing laws on England that their constituents will never have to endure.

Meanwhile the SNP stir it up, with their LA cheer leader and by far the worst James Bond in my view their ever Scottish and no way any kind of actor Sean Connery blathers on. (If you want to see a real Scottish Actor see David Tenant. if you are a Dr Who fan you would never ever know he was Scottish until you heard him being interviewed. That man can act, Sean can't)

I have to say I don't know what to do, but I just would not start from here.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Polonium and political controversy are no strangers

Polonium is a rare earth element. It does not grow on trees. It is in fact very very rare.

From the news reports I understand that traces Polonium 210 (an isotope of polonium) have been found in the now infamous case of Alexander Litvinenko.

You can read the BBC's article here. It will be covered by all papers in the morning.

There are of course some questions which arise. Is Polonium dangerous? Well I suspect it is a bit toxic, quite a lot of rare earth metals are. It is however as rare as rocking horse excrement, if not rarer. Hens teeth would be much easier to get hold of.

You can get it in a number of different ways, all of which involve nuclear power and the technical ability to separate polonium from what ever else it comes with.

Polonium 210 is an alpha emitter. That is to say that when it decays it sends out an alpha particle, which contains 2 protons and 2 neutrons.

There are two other sorts of radiation, beta, an electron, and gamma, a very high energy X Ray.

What makes alpha radiation so safe and deadly at the same time is this: Think of something being hit by an alpha particle as being hit by a 10 ton shell. It is going to do damage. What makes it so safe is that being so large and heavy alpha particles don't go very far. Typically only a few inches in air. In fact you could quite safely keep an alpha emitter on the top shelf and never get any radiation. Schools typically have alpha emitters but kept in lead.

Where it becomes very very dangerous is when it gets inside the body. There is nowhere for the alpha particle to go but some where it is bound to cause damage. It does this normally because it is basically a Helium atom without electrons. As it passes any atom it may steal an electron. This leaves an ion that was not there before, a free radical. These things can and do cause all sorts of problems including cancer. In order to do any of this damage though it does have to be inside of the body.

There will be huge amounts of speculation about who killed Alexander Litvinenko, but the biggest question in my mind is what prat would sign the murder in ten foot high letters of flame by using a chemical so rare that only 100 grams of it are produced a year?

Polonium is of course no stranger to political controversy. The Curries named it after Poland at a time when Poland was occupied in order to highlight its plight.

You can read the already updated to take account of this controversy article on Polonium on Wikipedia here.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Labour in another sleaze row!

With all the trouble labour are getting themselves into over sleaze, it is a wonder how they find time to do anything else.

The reported position in MSM is that Labour are trying to deduct at source amounts out of their ever decreasing number of councilors allowances for being a councilor. You can read the Daily Fascist Mail here or the BBC here.

The standards board are looking into it.

Allowances are paid to councilors because they spend sometimes considerable amounts of time doing work for their electorate. They don't get paid a huge amount.

Asking them to pay some over seems fair enough, however demanding it isn't.

The real issue though is getting a council to spend its time effectively collecting money for a political party. You are not supposed to use council resources for party work, and that clearly is party work. This is where Labour are in my view in trouble. Of course some Labour weasels have come out of the woodwork to defend the position but I can't see it washing.

The Tosser Test

The Conservative party have just launched this website. Personally I find the language a bit unnecessary. According to Iain Dale Norman Tebbit said:

"I suppose this is a mark of the permissive society which has been lauded by the Labour Party over many years. There is no foul language nor physical or moral degradation which is not now embraced by the current orthodoxy. Unfortunately, the orthodoxy has reached the Conservative Party."
With which I agree.

However he then went on with:

"It is not a word I would even use about Polly Toynbee."
I disagree with Lord Tebbit on this. I would.

However the website and campaign seems to be getting a lot of media attention which is good. It is after all not aimed at me. It has to be said lots of Labour and Liberal people are just attacking the site without looking at what it is trying to achieve. No surprise there.

The aim of the site is to help people deal with personal debt and to avoid it if possible. Its a good thing I say. It would also be nice if there was less irresponsible lending as well as borrowing.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The NHS's best year ever! II

I wrote this article on the NHS's best year ever here. It detailed the story of a local boy of 8, and his 20 hour ordeal to get treatment for a broken arm including being ferried by ambulance between hospitals and being kept in a cubicle next to a suicidal man.

The reason for the problem is that Accident and Emergency services are being downgraded at the local hospital, The Princess Royal. You may be interested to know that this hospital is fairly new, replacing the old Cuckfield hospital.

However it gets worse.

There is a proposed consultation on the amalgamation of maternity obstetrics and neo natal services in Eastbourne and Hastings on to one site. According to this article on the BBC's site, the consultation seems not to be on the amalgamation but where the amalgamated services will be. (Labour marginal or Conservative safeish with Liberal Democratic challenger)

Residents see that as a sham. I agree.

It does get worse still. Hospitals in Kent and West Sussex are being told to delay treatment of "routine" conditions. You can read the BBC's article on it here.

What ever the rights and wrongs of these things, there is a perception that something has gone horribly wrong.

Firstly you need to be aware of the geography of Sussex. It is a big place with large distances (in terms of time) between hospitals.

Secondly you have to wonder this. Why are hospitals losing services? All these hospitals have had these services for a long time. We are now spending huge amounts of money on the NHS so how come services are closing?

The truth is that the largest gains in throughput in the NHS were between 1990 and 1999, before the huge increase in cash came in. So where is the money going?

Relative Poverty and the fallacy of redistribution

Much waffle has been spoken today about this document revealed to the world by Guido Fawks (Big hat tip to Guido again). The document is not a policy document but a discussion document by Greg Clark MP and Peter Franklin. Guido has it here.

It seems to me much of the the vacuous chattering classes assume we have signed up for some sort of massive tax based redistribution of wealth. We haven't.

It seems the document looks at measuring poverty in relative terms defined as those living in households with 60% of contemporary median household income.

Fine, but there is an issue. Firstly what about young single people living on their own? How much of a problem would it be if their income was less than 60% of the median household income?

The second issue is that many families now have dual incomes, out of which they pay for child care. Families with much lower overall income who have a stay at home adult look poorer, but do not have the expense of paying for childcare either. People make choices. Some want a high pressure high pay job, others don't. Some have good luck others don't. Some work hard through school and then a career and others don't. The people who don't are not bad or indolent, they may just choose to enjoy life a little more and have less ulcers or what ever. Some people do difficult high pressure jobs that don't pay very well because either they enjoy that job or they feel called to do it. It would be daft to consider any of that a problem that should concern the state.

That said we do have a hard core underclass who are either unemployed or are not in full time well paid work. This group is much harder to help.

Some seem condemned by postcode in that because of where they live, people make assumptions about them which then limit their ability to get a job, and education or socialise with some other people.

Some people have poor literacy and/or numeracy severely limiting job prospects, whilst others may have mental health issues or drug addictions.

The question is would redistribution help, and what do we mean by redistribution any way.

If we mean that we try to remove people on low incomes from the tax system altogether then the Conservative party has been in favour of that for years.

If however we mean taking tax revenue and giving it to people on low incomes then we need to look at all the implications of that. People who do poorly paid work do so because they either can't or won't get better paid work, for a variety of reasons, however employers who engage people on low incomes do so because they can. If the state then tops up those earnings, then we are all subsidising an employer who is not paying a reasonable wage for the work he is asking people to do for him. In a free market you would hope as employment rises that employers would be competing for staff.

Alas a lot of unskilled, and indeed semi and fully skilled work gets filled by immigrants who will accept lower wages because they have their household in another country where living costs are less. This makes it impossible for low wage earners to have their wages driven up by scarcity of supply.

In short I take the view that if you pay people to be poor, then as there is money in it, people will be poor.

If we want to genuinely tackle poverty we have to deal with a number of issues.

  • As Greg Clark's report rightly says people are becoming entangled in our welfare states safety net. We need to find better ways to assist the transition out of it.
  • Many people end up with a poor education because no one thinks they can or should do better.
  • We need an immigration policy to suit the whole country not just the economy. By that I mean we need to beware of the effect on wages of large numbers of unskilled immigrants.
In short the situation is complex. Just throwing money at it is not the answer.

Incidentally Iain Dale links to this piece on Conservative Home by Greg Clark whilst Borris Johnson has written this for the Telegraph.

I forgot to mention Greg Clark's piece on Conservative home points out that whilst those just within the 60% of median household income has fallen, those in the bottom 40% of median household income has risen.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Give addicts heroin?

I heard this first on Radio 4, apparently the Deputy Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire, Howard Roberts says we should prescribe drug addicts heroin. The thinking is they would then no longer need to commit crime to fund their habit. You can read the BBC's article here.

I agree. However I would go a little further. I would prescribe heroin to anyone who could show they were an addict as soon as possible. This would also have the effect of cutting drug dealers income stream as well as reducing the need for crime.

Whilst drug addicts are going for their regular fix, you also have the opportunity to try and get them off heroin and rehabilitated which is also a good thing.

In short, we could reduce crime, make life harder for drug dealers, have regular contact with addicts so enabling us to rehabilitate some and make sure doses are clean and correct (saving on drug overdoses and other problems with badly cut heroin).

Looks like a win win situation to me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What happens here is the future of the world's security in the 21st century


Any chance of some more kit?





I have just read this from the BBC on Tony Blair's visit to Afghanistan. We already know that he communicates with his commanders in the field by the press megaphone, we also know that the only way they think they can reply is also by the press megaphone. You can read my article on the subject here.

It is just a bit of a shame Tony has only just noticed.

Having said that I like this quote:

"So what do you do?" Tony Blair asked one of the snipers, lined up to represent the garrison for a 90-minute trip to Camp Bastion.

He looked down at his long-barrelled rifle, shrugged as if to say "what do you think?"

No, go on Tony, tell us what you think a sniper does with a snipers rifle?

Monday, November 20, 2006

And the 3,000th visitor was Ellee Seymour!

Just crossed over another milestone, 3,000 visitors since June 26th 2006, and not all of them me!

Ellee also comments as well. Feel free to coment your self.

You can visit Ellee's blog here.

Update 20:24

I forgot to mention that I also got No. 41 in Iain Dale's top 100 Conservative blogs!

Iain Dale Guide to Blogging

Sunday, November 19, 2006

John Reid is taking up an interesting position

Much has been made of the Attorney General, Tony's mate, Lord Goldsmiths comments on extending the detention without charge of terrorist suspects beyond 90 days. You can read the BBC's article here.

His position is clear. No, because he has seen no evidence to support an increase as yet. This is broadly the position of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats as well, though I expect those parties to be harder to convince.

However what has interested me is Dr. John "Comrade" Reid's position. You will remember him as Secretary of State for making Ghengis Khan look like a Liberal the Home Office. His words are different to Lord "Sorry I can't get you off this time Tony" Goldsmith, but mean the same.

He is reviewing the position but appears as yet not to have seen any evidence to convince him. In other words I can't see we need the extension. Meanwhile Gordon Brown has been saying he supports an extension to 90 days which Sir Ian Blair (who I wrote ought to be sacked) backed in a speech in Germany.

To be fair John Prescott seemed a bit dubious as well the other week. He indicated that parliament had decided, and if it was going to revisit the case then there would have to be evidence.

So what is the story and why is it interesting? It seems to me that Comrade Reid had been jogging off gently to the right, all the time keeping an eye over his shoulder at what Gordon "I want your pensions" Brown was doing. Gordon obviously seeing this gap open up on the right of Ghengis Khan started running desperately to catch up, and out Reid Reid. Except that as soon as Gordon started running it seems Reid stopped for breath, and now Gordon has sprinted past Reid on the right, Reid is sauntering back to more sensible ground, making Gordon look very very bad to the key electorate, that is those who will elect the next labour leader.

Fascinating game play by by John Reid. I think he has totally wrong footed Brown on this one, but both are playing politics with the war on terror which is unforgivable.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Iraq a disaster, Blair in denial

So we have this mess in Iraq, and our dear leader Tony Blair gets interviewed by David Frost on Al Jazeera's English service. You can read the Al Jazeera article here.

What struck me though was not Blair's alleged admission that the violence since the invasion has been a disaster, but what he said next. This was of corse to David Frost asking if Iraq has become a disaster.

I quote:

"It has, but you see what I say to people is why is it difficult in Iraq?

"It's not difficult because of some accident in planning, it's difficult because there's a deliberate strategy - al-Qaeda with Sunni insurgents on one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militias on the other - to create a situation in which the will of the majority for peace is displaced by the will of the minority for war."

Sorry? What? It is not because of some accident in planning? It's all down to the bad guys who should have been what? Less bad? Is this man really such a pratt? The idea behind planning is to have a plan for a number of potential scenarios not just a single wishful thinking one. What was he expecting? Al Qaeda to just roll over and play dead?

There were massive mistakes in the planning which were foreseen by many people especially planners in the Pentagon and State Department. I have listed them in my article here. The fact that he can't see just how badly planned and resourced the mission was indicates that he is in a state of total denial. Clearly he has become a major liability. A was leader needs a brain that works.

You can read more on Iraq here.

Nationwide Laptop Theft

Apparently in August a Nationwide employee had a laptop stolen. No problem there. Just buy another one. However according to this report from the BBC there is data on 11 million customers on there.

Here is where I have a huge issue. We have large data centers storing masses of information on customers behind carefully constructed security barriers and some pratt can simply take all the data out on their laptop where it is fundamentally insecure.

This is also not the first time this sort of thing has happened. Laptops have been lost and stolen containing all sorts of sensitive information.

This should NEVER EVER happen as the laptops need never have such information on them. If you need to work from home as well as work, fine, you can get a desktop in the company behind all the security via secure VPN's and a terminal server type session.

There is no excuse for this sort of lax security. Nationwide are not alone in being this stupid with OUR data. Government has form on this sort of stupidity as well.

Looking on the bright side the laptop may have been formated and sold for peanuts so the data may have been shredded already.

Lord David Owen is a Liar

I have just heard an interview with Lord David "hide in a corner" Owen on the shambles in Iraq. Apparently he supported the war but thinks its a mess.

On that point we agree.

He thinks that this is worse than Suez and as bad as Gallipoli. He also found it wrong that we can't have an inquiry. There I agree.

He then went on the allege that whilst he as a member of the SDP and behind the Falklands war he, and indeed all opposition parties wanted an inquiry into that which they got.

This is where I have a problem. I remember watching this pratt say before the fleet got to work in the liberation of the Falklands, saying that we had lost the Falklands and we might as well give up.

Well that is what you get with these people. Founding father of the Lib Dems. No surprise at his mendacity then.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Important: Health, Safety and Environment

Last Saturday I bought, or rather a friend who was going to Focus Do It All bought me a 7lb sledge hammer.

It had a health an safety notice on it which can be paraphrased thus:

"Whilst this hammer can hit hard, don't hit anything hard with it"
Strange. What it actually said was, and I quote:

"Use this hammer to drive and pull common nails only"
What? Pull nails? it doesn't have a claw so how are you going to do that? Besides which what is a common nail, and why use such a large hammer to drive one in? Any way, it goes on:

"Never strike tool, hardened nails or other hard objects as chipping can occur, possibly resulting in eye damage or other injury.

So don't strike your tool with a sledge hammer. You have been warned!

Cash for peerages This weeks roundup

This has all been covered elsewhere but:

There seem to have been two interesting developments. Firstly Guido unearthed this letter from Yates of the Yard to Dr. Tony Wright of the Public Administration Select Committee. It appears to have been leaked AFTER Yates sent it. The MSM have now picked up and run with Guido's scoop, though I do not recall him being given any credit for it.

Then we have the Telegraph saying that Tony Blair is going to use the Abu Hamza Defence to get out of this mess alleging that he has been tried by media and unfair leaks. The article is here. Iain Dales says this, whilst Guido has this.

Interestingly enough in Yates letter he makes it clear that he is confident that his lot are not leaking, and those leaks are coming from elsewhere. He also says that he knows it is not his lot because there is much significant material that has not been leaked.

Guido makes much here of this reported labour NEC meeting where Ann Black says Tony Blair asked for loans because donors would not give for fear of being lambasted in the press, and wanted to stay anonymous. Guido and the Evening Standard point out that Labour donors did not want to remain anonymous, they offered donations first but were turned down in favour of loans.

Guido then quotes the relevant part of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, which says that covering up donations is a very naughty thing to do.

So what do we know so far?

Well Yates of the yard is investigating possible offences under The Honours, Prevention of Abuses Act 1925 and the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 but only in relation to 2005.

He appears to have uncovered significant material. He hopes to be able to pass the file to the CPS in January 2007, provided that he gets cooperation from those involved and his investigations do not end up leading elsewhere.

He has interviewed 90 people so far.
35 in the Labour Party,
29 in the Conservative party
4 in the Liberal Democrats
22 people not in a party.

He has sent letters to ministers to stop any last minute Burrell type interventions (that is where some one remembers something at the last minute that exonerates someone). See here for more info.

Whilst lots of people have said there will be nothing to find, clearly if the Abu Hamza defence story is correct then Tony Blair is becoming very worried.

We also know that Labour donors were happy to donate and publicly too. It appears it was the fund raisers who did not want donation information getting out.

You can read more articles on cash for peerages here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Question time tonight

Apparently Question Time tonight will feature:
Boris Johnson MP
Tony McNulty MP
Baroness Bonham-Carter
Shappi Khorsandi
Robert "The Tangerine Man" Kilroy Silk MEP

If you are a fan of the Tangerine Man, have a look at this song and animation. It is really rather good, and funny as well.

(Hat tip to Max on

Fisking the Queen's Speech

The full text of the Queen's speech can be found on the BBC's website here.

"My lords and members of the House of Commons, my government will pursue policies aimed at meeting the challenges which the United Kingdom faces at home and abroad."
Fair enough.

"A stable economy is the foundation of a fair and prosperous society. My government will continue to maintain low inflation, sound public finances and high employment."
You jest surely? Inflation is on the up or rather the RPI is, the governments fiddle figures are a little down but higher than target, Gordon Brown is borrowing hand over fist and ahead of projections, whilst we have had continuous growth since 1992, and whilst employment may be high, unemployment continues to rise which begs the question, who is getting all the jobs? On top of this interest rates are up, which is not going to reduce unemployment.

"At the heart of my government's programme will be further action to provide strong, secure and stable communities, and to address the threat of terrorism.

My government will put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system, support the police and all those responsible for the public's safety, and proceed with the development of ID cards."
Victims at the heart of the Criminal Justice system? We heard similar in the 2002 Queen's Speech, so you would hope that was job done, no? But what have ID cards got to do with public safety? Are they going to be bullet proof?

"A bill will be brought forward for the next stage of reform of the criminal justice system, giving the police and probation services new powers to protect the public from violent offenders and anti-social behaviour."
How nice. 63 Acts on the subject in 9 years and we need more? You just cannot be serious? What have you done with the rest of them? We get more legislation on this subject in 1 year with this lot than in the previous 50. Quite a lot goes unenforced, gets repealed or is unworkable. How about "My government will tidy up the laws it has already passed and enforce some of them?

"Legislation will be introduced to improve the way that offenders are managed and supervised."
You need legislation to tell your civil servants what to do? Priceless.

"Measures will be brought forward to give law enforcement agencies new powers to combat serious and organised crime."
The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 no good then? I have to agree that the lot that passed that bill were useless so you may be right. Oh no! Hang on a minute, that was from the 2004 Queen's speech. You can't accuse this Government for not doing it's bit for recycling.

"A bill will be introduced to provide the immigration service with further powers to police the country's borders, tackle immigration crime, and to make it easier to deport those who break the law."
They don't need any more powers, they need the resource to enforce the ones they have. As for deporting criminals, the Home Secretary has the power under the 1971 Immigration Act can exclude any foreign national on the grounds of the public good. In short there are powers a plenty. It is a resource issue.

"A bill will be introduced to provide for trials without a jury in serious fraud cases."
The Americans can try the Enron case, one of the most costly and complex frauds with a jury in a timely fashion, but you want to rid us of basic constitutional protection because you can't organise a court case? Brilliant!

"Legislation will be brought forward to improve the administration of justice by reforming the tribunal system, the qualifications for judicial appointment and the enforcement of judgments."
Hmm.. We have seen this sort of thing before, for example in the Access to Justice Act 1999. I will have to wait to see what exactly it is that they propose.

"My government will publish a bill on climate change as part of its policy to protect the environment, consistent with the need to secure long-term energy supplies."
Jolly good. Shame about the record. It is after all worse than the previous Conservative Government. Let us see how it pans out.

"My government will continue its investment in, and reforms of, the public services in order to improve further their effectiveness and to help the most vulnerable members of society."
Don't mention the hospital closures, I did, but I think I got away with it. Or indeed the lay offs, IT fiasco's, golly gosh there is so much to say on how money has just been tipped down the drain it is not true.

"My government will take forward legislation to reform the welfare system, and to reduce poverty."
Any chance of getting tax credits working properly so I don't get letters like this? Or indeed two contradictory letters in the same day?

"A bill will be introduced to improve the system of child support."
Yet another attempt to fix the CSA?

"A bill will be introduced providing for long-term reform of pensions."
Can't argue with that level of detail.

"Legislation will provide for free off-peak local bus travel for pensioners and disabled people."
Don't they already get this?

"My government's programme of educational reform will continue to raise standards in schools to help all children achieve their full potential."
Will it now? University lecturers and employers remain to be convinced that school leavers can read or write properly, which is understandable, especially when you hear stories like this or this.

"A bill will be introduced to reform the further education system so that it can better equip people with the skills that they and the economy need."
Is that an end to media studies then? See above. Lets start with being able to read and write like everyone else.

"My government will carry through the modernisation of healthcare based on the founding principles of the National Health Service."
Principles? Tony Blair? Now that would be new. Any chance West Sussex can keep its last remaining major hospital?
"A bill will be introduced to provide a better framework for treating people with mental disorders."
I see. So what happened to similar proposals in the 2004 and 2005 Queen's Speeches then?

"Draft proposals will be published to reform the regulation of human embryology.

A draft bill will be published to tackle road congestion and to improve public transport.

My government will publish proposals to reform the planning system."
Difficult to argue with this level of detail. Of course John "two jags" Prescot did have a ten year plan on transport and congestion reduction has featured in the 1999 and 1998 Queen's speech.

I wonder what they think is wrong with the HFEA or the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, but no doubt we will find out.

I suspect the planning system reform will be controversial in some quarters as it is already the case that a Councilor who has a published view or indeed was elected upon some position on a planning issue can't vote on it. I suspect the reform means make it easier to concrete over land and objectors.

"Legislation will provide for improved arrangements for consumer advocacy and for the regulation of estate agents."
Fair enough. We will see what they come up with. After all Home Information Packs have gone down a storm. Right Move were particularly impressed.

"My government will also continue its programme of reform to provide institutions that better serve a modern democracy. It will work to build a consensus on reform of the House of Lords and will bring forward proposals."
Cash for Peerages anyone?

"Bills will provide for reform of local government and enhanced powers for the Mayor and Assembly for London.

Legislation will be introduced to create an independent board to enhance confidence in government statistics."
We will have to see on that.

"Members of the House of Commons. Estimates for the public services will be laid before you."
If they are as good as Gordon Brown's long term borrowing predictions don't bother. I'll get a mates telephone number, multiply it by my own double it then add a random number.

"My lords and members of the House of Commons. My government will work closely with the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales."
That's going to be fun after next May's elections!

"My government will work towards the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland, including by bringing forward legislation."

Good luck. Give my regards to Dr. No!

"The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to our State Visit to the United States of America in May 2007 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement.

We also look forward to receiving the President of Ghana and Mrs Kufuor."

Can't argue with that.

"My government remains committed to peace in the Middle East. It will continue
to work to find a lasting settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, to support the new Iraqi government in its efforts to build an enduring constitutional settlement, and to assist the government of Afghanistan."
Would have been nice to have a plan for peace in Iraq. Would have stopped Iraq becoming such a mess.

"My government will work with the United Nations and European Union partners to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, including addressing international concerns over North Korea and Iran, and to promote good governance.

My government will continue to work to build an effective and globally competitive European Union and will also work to strengthen the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

My government will contribute to a modern and inclusive United Nations and will work to take forward the World Trade Organisation Doha talks.

My government will continue its focus on Africa, including by seeking a resolution to the crisis in Darfur. I look forward to visiting Kampala next year for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

My government will work to foster a strong partnership between Europe and the United States of America in order to meet these objectives."

Sounds 'nice'.

"Other measures will be laid before you."
I have no doubt.

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons: I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels."

With this lot in charge I pray as well.