Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cameron was wrong to use the EU veto for city interests!

We have heard allot about David Cameron wielding the veto in European negotiations for the UK's national interests as far as our financial sector was concerned. It was wrong to wield the veto for that reason.

It is true, that were they the only reason to use the veto, I would have done it, however a better reason is that the deal on the table, whether it involved us or not, was wrong for the following reasons:

  1. It does nothing to actually address the Euro's sovereign debt crisis, which was the purpose of the summit. Crucially there is no stated mechanism for the ECB to become the lender of last resort.
  2. It proposes a set of rules that Euro members promised to keep to last time, and most did not but the Euro countries promise to be really good from now on. It's not credible.
  3. The rules allow a country to run up it's debt to GDP ratio in good times as well as bad, creating an automatic structural deficit if a recession hits. (Gordon Brown would have met those rules.)
  4. It has too little flexibility in the event of an actual recession for those countries who have behaved well to borrow what they need to as a recession hits. 
So, I don't disagree with the veto being used, but it should have been used because the deal does not fix the problems of the Euro zone, it makes them worse, and punishes the UK for it.

What we could do with though, is counter proposals. The French and German governments are busy trying to look like they are doing something useful, and forcing others to back them when all they are doing is coming up with quarter measures to keep their electorates on side. This will work in the short term. Sarkozy has an election next year. The problem is last weeks summit will only work until the new year, and then only if they are lucky. The ink will never dry on the last deal to be signed in March 2012 because it will be renegotiated at least twice before then.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Worlds smallest steam engine? No!

The BBC has an article entitled: World's 'smallest steam engine' built in Germany, except if you read the article, it is obviously not a steam engine at all.

It is in fact a Stirling engine, originally invented by the Rev Dr Robert Stirling (and his brother) in 1815 as a safer alternative to steam engines because many of his parishioners had died in boiler explosions. It is positively not a steam engine and is nothing at all like one.

I know journalists love to bask in utter ignorance, but this is really irritating. You do have to wonder where else they talk compete and utter rubbish because they are simply ignorant of the facts.

That may sound like an unfair rant, and in some ways it may be. However the news media spread knowledge and information and it is dangerous when they get it wrong as they frequently do.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nabila Ramdani twitter spat Another thought.

I want to point that Nabila Ramdani seemed to make it her business as a French citizen of Algerian decent to keep popping up on places like the BBC claiming that Libyans were as a group, inflicted with a tribal mentality such that they could not get on without Gaddafi to keep them in some kind of line. Should he fall Libya would, by implication turn into some version of Somalia. Whilst Libyans were dying in numbers, it is unsurprising therefore that Libyans seemed to take some exception at being described as such and as a consequence may have described Nabila Ramdani in terms which were either less than charitable or possibly not repeatable in polite company. Given the nature of her comments, were you to cast Libyans as a race her comments would be racist and as such I can entirely understand their anger.

Then when Gaddafi met his fate, it appears she changed her tune a bit. (In part because spouting the same somewhat inexpert nonsense would not do her any favours.) Some began to speculate at he volte face and indeed possible motivation for spouting bile about Libyans in the first place and subsequently changing her tune. It is in this context that the tweet was made and the reply given which was retweeted by me.

The moral of the story is, calling 6 million people who are dying to overthrow a vicious dictator a bunch of tribal ingrates may not get polite responses from them.

If after reading what I have just written you think my actions are capable of any criticism I would welcome hearing why.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Nabila Ramdani twitter spat update

There is now a blog post over at the Telegraph here, by Katharine Birbalsingh who claims to have read my blog post but clearly had not properly (is she supposed to be a good teacher?).

It has had some of the more defamatory elements removed. However a comment by Andy Cooke here is a very good summary of the events so far, and it is here:

So, the facts of the case are:
1. Mr White (who, according to the blog linked above, grew up in the Middle East before his family fled the violence), was understandably interested in the Libya campaign and followed (and contributed to) the discussion on Twitter

2. Ms Ramdani also was involved in the Libya discussions, repeatedly opining (in wider media sources as well as online) that if Gaddafi were removed, Libya would fall into chaos and tribal warfare.

3. A number of people on Twitter (including Mr White) disagreed with and attempted to debunk her claims.

4.  When Gaddafi finally fell, Ms Ramdani "popped back up saying that maybe Gaddafi deserved it and her tone changed"

5. Some of the people on twitter who had taken exception to her implication that Gaddafi's removal would be a bad thing for Libya, highlighted the sudden change of tone with an implication that she had had a financial interest in the issue.  Specifically, the Twitter uses "LibyaNewDay" stated it in a disbelieving tweet that BBC news were broadcasting her, to which Mr White responded "Yes, but she did say that Gadaffi getting it was his fault ... maybe she isn't getting paid any more"

6. "LibyaNewDay" responded "Exactly what I was thinking, @NabilaRamdani has toned down her love of Gaddafi. No more paypacket #Gaddafiwhores", which Mr White retweeted.

7. Ms Ramdani blew the incident up to the police and papers, including writing an article for the Guardian accusing Mr White of calling her "an immigrant prostitute", claiming that they used a 'whore' hashtag and "spiced up their principal insult with as many sexual allusions as they could fit into the 140 characters that Twitter allows".  the latter appears to be completely unfounded.

8. Ms Birbalsingh pops up and uses the spat - well, as seen in the article above, whilst claiming to have read Mr White's version posted on his blog (which, incidentally, contains links to the primary source (the Twitter feed) unlike Ms Ramdani's version.

I've seen plenty of discussions on the internet, and terms like "commentwhoring" and "karmawhoring" (aiming to write comments specifically to gain support rather than to engage in debate), and, of course, "attentionwhoring".  None of them ever seem to be interpreted to mean that the person discussed (usually more frequently male than female) is in fact a prostitute.
Of course, anyone aiming to blow these comments up out of context to make a point unsupported by the facts would of necessity separate the "whore" bit (as Ms Burbalsingh did above) or drop off the rest of the word entirely (as Ms Ramdani has done).  None of Mr White's comments even seem to imply anything sexual at all, let alone her being "an immigrant prostitute".

On the face of it, it seems that Ms Ramdani has used the incident to try to make a political point that isn't there, using it as an excuse to try to slam the Conservatives.  An unkind observer would possibly suspect mischief on her behalf.  Ms Burbalsingh has used the incident to lament the fact that such claims damage the chance of a full Tory Government in power, and baldly state that Mr White is guilty of "racist and misogynist behaviour".   Similarly, this would seem to be playing into Ms Ramdani's hands - explicitly claiming that her accusations are true but trying to wash the Conservatives hands of Mr White.

Personally, if I were Mr White, I'd wonder if Ms Ramdani's statements were actionable, and Ms Burbalsingh's likewise - a number of the statements in the article above being apparently unsupported by the facts (which Ms Burbalsingh states she had access to via Mr White's blog and link to the relevant discussion) and heavily insulting of Mr White's character, yet repeated in a public organ with wide circulation.  It does call into question Ms Burbalsingh's reliability on any article she has published.

Looks like a good summary to me. My previous article on the subject is here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Police don't investigate Tory activist not calling woman a whore shocker!

Police are apparently not investigating a Conservative activist (me) for not calling Nabila Ramdani a whore. That said you would not get that impression from the article on line at the Evening Standard here currently titled "Police investigate after Tory activist tweets woman is 'whore'" though its previous title which was even more defamatory towards me has been changed , or presumably from their paper edition.

What does appear to be true (though I am only taking Associated Newspapers word for it) is that the police/police watchdog are investigating why the police are not investigating. (Presumably because there is no crime, for there is none made out).

This stems from Nabila Ramdani presumably being short of work and therefore looking to raise he profile as some kind of victim of hate, misogyny and racism, which of course she is not.

I will start with the context, for here context is key.

I had been following the Libyan situation on twitter, primarily because it was the only way to keep up once the main stream media had got bored with it.

Nabila Ramdani kept on popping up as being some kind of Middle East/North Africa expert (Which she obviously isn't) and discussing the state of Libya as the war with Gaddafi raged. She took the position that in essence Libya would fall into chaos, tribal warfare etc without Gaddafi, that it was beset by tribal issues and so on. By implication it would be better if Gaddafi stayed.

Many Libyan's following the situation and I on twitter noted her "expert opinions" and from their knowledge denounced her statements. On the 20th of October Gaddafi was captured and then either executed or died of his injuries. On the same day Nabila Ramdani popped back up saying that maybe Gaddafi deserved it and her tone changed.

In this context I tweeted:

@LibyaNewDay @NabilaRamdani Yes... but she did say #Gaddafi getting it was his fault... maybe she isn't getting paid any more.

and @LibyaNewDay tweeted (which I retweeted)

@BenedictMPWhite Exactly what I was thinking, @NabilaRamdani has toned down her love of Gaddafi. No more paypacket #Gaddafiwhores

You can see the relevant time line here.

What is clear is that at no point did I tweet that Nabila Ramdani is a whore, and the tweet I retweeted had the hashtag #GaddafiWhore which clearly implies a non sexual use of the term in this context.

I will do some more digging later and add to this article.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Science is lies, religion is truth!

That might sound like an odd statement for a rational person to say who has studied Physics to university level, but it is true.

Today we learn that a theory that proved Newton's laws of motion were wrong* is possibly in itself wrong because neutrinos may in fact have travelled faster than the speed of light, fired from CERN to Italy. (The BBC has this)

This is not actually either a surprise or unusual. Real scientists (Not Richard Dawkins) are always finding out that what they believed last week was not quite right and so knowledge progresses. There can be no truths in science, because if there were it would become a religion and so not gain further knowledge. That said parts of the science community do turn religious in their dogma holding things up for a while.

Religion on the other hand is truth. This is not because it can be proven in a scientific sense but because it tells us something beyond fact about ourselves, our relationships with others, the world and our responsibility over it. Religions vary, but most contain some parts which many people would call a truth.

On the other hand with science you must always be testing and breaking the current position or else it does not move forward.

*I am being a bit hard on Newton's laws of motion, they work quite well at the level of practical human experience. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

VAT increase to cost families £450! Did I hear that right?

I am just watching BBC's Newsnight. Ed Balls has just said that the VAT rise from 17.5% to 20% will cost the squeezed middle £450. Did he really say that as a sound bite?

The thing is, that if you work it out, to get taxed £450 more by the VAT increase you would have to spend £18,000 on VATable goods that are taxed at the full rate. That excludes most food, vegetable plants and seeds, books, children's clothes, rent, mortgage and of course newspapers.

So who spends £18,000 on luxury items a year who is in the squeezed middle?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

So why is UK growth so sluggish?

Well, that is a whole matter of debate, but what I can say is this: Birmingham is no longer quite the industrial hub it once was.

The problem is this: A lot of our industrial output, like cars particularly (but not exclusively) Nissan (capacity 340,00 cars per year), Honda (250,000 per year) and Toyota (137,000 per year) are reliant on parts made in Japan. UK manufacturers have also been affected as they are also reliant upon Japanese imports which have been cut short by the tsunami. In short, 0.2% growth is fantastic under the circumstances.

Now lets get back to the phrase "under the circumstances". It's actually quite important. Making cars in the UK is quite cheap particularly if you only have to deal with one union but making components here is less so when you have to deal with the tax office who want you to write off plant long after you have had to scrap it because it is cost-efficient. This is something for which the whining Ed Balls was responsible when he was telling Gordon what to do, but it was also the case before Labour got into power in 1997.

The boss of Nissan UK thinks he wants to buy more parts in the UK. Good. Get that past the Treasury and we are in a win win situation.

Meanwhile, Japan is recovering from the tsunami and so will our production. Growth next quarter will be 0.6 to 0.9% of GDP which will make Ed Balls look a bit silly.

That said, looking at tax rules on plant would seriously help in growth without being too costly.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

NOTW to close: 200 innocents pay whilst guilty keep their jobs

So, in a move to deflect growing anger of the News of the Wor;ld phone hacking scandal, 200 innocent journalists are to lose their jobs whilst Rebekah Brooks can keep hers, as the News of the World will publish it's last edition this Sunday. You can read James Murdoch's statement here. The BBC has this.

This is disgusting. What's more it looks like Murdoch will be starting a paper called the Sun on Sunday, possibly as soon as the following week. In fact the domain names for and have already been registered. In fact there seems to have been a plan to make the Sun a 7 day week operation (See The Guardian here).

What will be interesting to see if there are claims for unfair dismissal.

So, if the editor and staff of the News of the World want to start a new paper put me down for £100 in share capital. If I can spare more I will.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Should there be a public inquiry over phone hacking?

No. That would cost the taxpayer millions.

What taxpayers should do is just boycott the tabloids, and anyone who advertises with them.

It would be much quicker, more effective and very very cheap.

So ... boycott News International and the tabloid press. Job done.

I also have this on the original story, and this on how the News of the World got Milly Dowler's mobile number.

How did the NOTW get Milly Dowler's mobile phone number?

As readers will know from my last article I had an opinion of journalist that was low, of print journalists doubly so and tabloid ones quadripartitely so to a point that it could go no lower. I have now had to revise that and my opinion has dropped to depths I had hitherto thought impossible.

However a question sprang to mind which is ... how exactly did the people at or working for the News of the World get hold of Milly Dowler's mobile phone number in order to hack it? After all their families home phone number was ex directory and the NOTW got hold of hold of that by unlawful means.

So how did they get it?

From the family? Well, they couldn't get the families home number so I really doubt that they could of got it from the family.

Friends of Milly? Well how many would they have had to have asked to get the number, and if but one friend asked was concerned, that would have blown the operation out of the water so they would have had to have got lucky first time. Does anyone think they would have risked it?

The telephone companies? Well which one? The phone was a pay as you go mobile phone, need not have been registered, and the NOTW would not have known which provider to ask, so would have had to have worked their way through several.

So who then? Well... we do know one group of people who would have had the number and according to Rebecca Brookes in evidence to a parliamentary committee have form for selling information to journalists and that is the police. Seems to me to be the easiest most secure and least likely to backfire method available.

So the police have huge amounts to answer for and indeed this also explains why they have been hitherto completely lax and uninterested in investigating any further than they have been pushed. After all the investigation was and is bound to lead directly to them.

The story has now got much worse, with the Telegraph leading with a story that victims of the July the 7th bombing had their phones hacked as well as the family of the Soham murder victims Jessica Wells and Holy Chapman. (The comments above about how phone numbers were obtained also applies to these cases).

Just how disgusting can this get? Just how up to their necks in it are the police and is that why they have been dragged kicking and screaming to investigate? In fact you have to ask, how can we be sure the police are the right body to investigate?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Milly Dowler: Boycott News International!

I have a very very low opinion of journalists, from the fantasist (Robert Fisk) to the great fictional writers (Johann Hari), the faux I hate the privileged, but privately educated immensely privileged and overpaid staff at the Guardian, the venal distasteful tabloid journalists and not forgetting the editors on all media who decide what sells papers and frequently decide what the news is and fit the facts to the story not decide what the story is based on the facts.

I was not prepared to have such a low opinion and low expectations lowered still let alone by the degree and manner of the Milly Dowler phone hacking story (Lest we not forget, reported to us by the over privileged, over paid Champagne socialists at the tax dodging Guardian media group).

Lets get this straight. They hacked a 13 year old girls mobile phone message service. Just how low can you go? They deleted messages when the mailbox was full, possibly interfering with a police investigation, in order to get fresh copy to sell more newspapers. This action caused the family to have hope where there was none, and may well have diverted the police investigation.

This is behaviour more disgusting than even I could have imagined. Not surprisingly none of the tabloids mention this on their front pages, because one suspects they would have done the same, if that is, they did not try.

So I call for a boycott of all News international outlets, especially the newspapers, The Sun, The News of the World and the Times (and the Times on Sunday) and if possible Sky News.

I would also ask people not to buy any tabloid. They have kept silent on the phone hacking story, I suspect because of a guilty conscience.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ryan Giggs named as super injunction footballer!

Ryan Giggs has been named as the footballer who took out a super injunction (via Schillings, lawyers to the rich and dubious) to prevent details of his alleged affair with Imogen Thomas.

He was named as such by John Hemming MP in parliament this afternoon. John Hemming later justified his actions because he was concerned that tracking down lots of people from Twitter and jailing them would be wrong particularly as many of them would not have the means to defend themselves.

My understanding is that Ryan Giggs took out the injunction because he was concerned about the affect on his family and in particular his children. Whilst this is an admirable aim, were he that concerned he need not have had an affair in the first place. Even if you are wealthy things things do eventually come out.

On a wider note there is something odd about super injunctions, particularly those concerning corporate bodies such as Trafigura. Whilst they are legal individuals they are not real individuals within the scope of section 8 of the human rights convention and are not entitled to a private family life.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

World has not ended shocker!

Apparently the world has not ended. It certainly does not seem to have ended here in Mid Sussex on the 21st of may.

(Well, to be fair if you were/are a Liberal Democrat it may have ended on the 5th or 6th of May)

Why do people go in for this end timer rubbish? Matthew chapter 25 makes it clear that we will not know "when the Son of Man commeth" therefore any such prophesy is a false one, and it follows that Harold Camping is a false prophet, albeit one who has made lots of cash from deluding people.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Israel's 1967 borders are indefensible!

Is the argument that is often proffered by the Likud in the Israeli Knesset and the Ultra Likud who sit on Capitol hill in Washington.

This is given as an excuse for both not moving forward and indeed in many ways moving backwards particularly in settlement building.

Where this all falls back though is a brief examinations of the facts. Firstly it is proposed that a Palestinian state be de militarised. Secondly Israel defended the 1967 borders in the 1956 Suez war (which it started) and the 1967 war (which it also started by pre-emptive strike). In the latter example it expanded it's military sphere of influence.

Israel now has an equal or better superiority in fire power over it's neighbours than it did then.

So what is the conclusion?

Israel has defended the pre 1967 borders, and in one out of two cases expanded them therefore they are clearly eminently defensible so that argument is clearly rubbish.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When is a rape not a serious rape?

Not for the first time, Ken Clarke appears to have been at the centre of some controversy, so I thought I would ask the following:

All of the following are legally rape, but do you regard them as equally serious?

1. A boy of just over 16 has sex with his just under 16 year old girlfriend, and they both want to do it so there is no complaint of rape.

2. A boy of 16 or 17 has sex with "his" 10 year old "girl friend" and there is no complaint from the girl of rape.

3. A man of 30 has sex with "his" 13 year old "girlfriend" and there is no complaint from the girl of rape.

4. A man and a woman having spent all evening together, consuming much drink go to one or others home and have sex which turns out to be non consensual.

5. During an evening in a bar a man slips a "date rape" drug into a drink for the woman he is talking to then takes her home and has sex with her.

6. A man jumps a woman he has never met in an alley, drags her away, threatens violence, and forces sex.

7. A man breaks into a house in the middle of the night, uses violence, and the threat of violence, forces sex.

Are they all as serious as each other?

Please note that in all the cases above the perpetrator is always male because the legal definition of rape involves sexual engagement with a penis. Anything not involving penetration with one is not legally rape but may be a sexual or serious sexual assault.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Mid Sussex massive win for Conservatives!

We have taken wards that were safe as houses for the Liberal Democrats!

In short, Conservative hold in Mid Sussex with increased majority.

More later.

Update. 19:57.

So far the Conservatives have 40 seats, Labour 1 and the Liberal Democrats 7. That looks like 14 losses for the Liberal Democrats.

Update 23:01

Final result:

Conservatives: 45 (+15)

Liberal Democrats 8 (-15)

Labour 1 (No change).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fred Goodwin, mentioned in Parliament.

Apparently Fred Goodwin was mentioned in parliament on the 10th of march by John Hemming.

He apparently objects to being referred to by his previous profession, and so got a super injunction according to the speech in Parliament.

Well, I don't think of him as one of those, but a w*nker. And no that is not rhyming slang.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A footballer on question time?


Except Clarke Carlisle makes some intelligent and articulate points. Well done!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

How hard does the VAT increase hit?

Well the short answer is it depends on how much you spend on what.

However I have seen some fascinating rubbish on the issue.

VAT is going up 2 and 1/2 pennies in the pound, but this rate does not apply to food*, rent, mortgages, domestic gas and electricity, children's clothes, books and newspapers. It does apply to petrol, cigarettes and alcohol**, food at restaurants etc.

So how much do you spend on VATable goods a week that will be going up?

To give you some idea, to beat the £1.30 a week extra some are claiming the poorest would have to pay in VAT you would have to be spending £52 a week on goods and services which attract VAT at the full rate. This does not include heating, lighting, food, children's clothes.

Some say it will hit the "average" family by £300 a year. That is paying £5.77 a week extra in VAT or, in terms of spending on VATable goods and services, £231 a week. This is where I really start to scratch my head as I just can see that level of income after I have paid for things like the house, the bills council tax and food all of which is not vatable. In fact if you look at it, that applies to a household income of £23 K (presumably after tax) which equates to a weekly income of £442. Is anyone seriously suggesting that a household with that level of income is blowing well over half of it on VATable goods? That would leave only £211 a week (£915) to pay for the house, council tax, utility bills (excluding telephone which is charged at the full rate) and food. Credible? I don't think so.

That said I would rather tax wasn't going up, but then I would rather not have had 13 years of a Labour government flying the economy into the ground whilst pushing up public sector inflation through the roof.