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Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

It's New Year's Eve and the bins have been overflowing since Christmas Day. Why the bin men needed an extra two days off, I don't know!

Before I wish you all a Happy New Year, Steve Green decided to tag me on Christmas Eve with a meme asking me for eight wishes for 2008. So here goes:

1. The Conservative Party to go from strength to strength.

2. The government to finally scrap the proposed ID cards. (Plenty of hard campaigning there for all of us).

3. The government to increase defence spending and give our troops the pay, conditions and equipment they deserve.

4. Durham County Cricket Club to win the County Championship.

5. The cost of fuel to go down.

6. To be settled back home and the memory of flooding to be well and truly behind us.

7. To become a councillor. (That's a dream my fairy godmother couldn't grant me!)

8. To be a happy, healthy family.

All that remains is for me to thank everyone for reading and contributing to my blog over the last year and I hope to see you all - and more readers - doing the same in 2008. Have a very Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2007

What next for Pakistan

I didn't think I would be writing again in this blog this year, however the recent events in Pakistan have made me put 'pen to paper.'

Pakistan has a long history of bloodshed since its formation in 1947. Democracy has never flourished there. If the military take a dislike to the elected government of the day, a predictable coup d'etat takes place and then we are back to square one. Although it seems Benazir Bhutto was not killed by the Pakistani authorities, what is happening there at the moment is history repeating itself. The main difference now - as opposed to previous times - is that Pakistan is now a nuclear power and a linchpin state in George Bush's war on terror. Never before has Pakistan been so important to the West.

President Musharraf will now have to react in a way that is seen to be correct for all sides, which is impossible. There are elections due on January 8 which should take place, but with calls for those elections to be boycotted, he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. Being stuck between a rock and a hard place doesn't begin to tell the story.

Just how much unrest and bloodshed there will be cannot be predicted, however Britain and the US are already overstretched and with possible action needed in Iran and Iraq still remaining volatile, military action in Pakistan is not an option.

Benazir Bhutto's assassination in a tragic event in the already troubled history of Pakistan. Another chance to take the democratic route has hit the buffers. Another chance to move from the past and move the Pakistani economy forward has gone. There will be other chances, but this one was the best chance there has been in years. We can only hope another one is around the corner.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Signing off for 2007 (probably)

I was writing a post last night about my grandmother. It would have been her 97th birthday yesterday. I didn't get the chance to finish what I was writing, nor have I had the chance today either. Life is simply too busy at the moment.

I think this will be the last post I will do this year. There is too much wrapping to do; so many people to see and a house that needs to be ready to move back in to at the beginning of January. Becky and I are completely knackered, and there is still a hell of a long way to go.

It has been a very eventful year for me. I fought an election campaign; lost - but helped get a few councillors elected. Just after the election, Becky and I got together. Then came the floods! Since then we have hardly had any time to spare. We are both looking forward to a less stressful 2008.

I will take this opportunity to wish all readers and very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous and Peaceful New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Christmas Tale

Steve Green at Daily Referendum has this little ditty on his blog. You'll laugh.

A return to the 70s?

The government bail out of Northern Rock is costing taxpayers £1800 each. It could well be nationalised

Bin Men in Hull are unhappy about their pay and conditions, and may possibly take industrial action.

Bin Men on strike and nationalisation; doesn't this remind you of Labour many years ago?

Nick Clegg

After a bitter election campaign, the Liberal Democrats have elected their leader. It would be churlish of me not to congratulate Nick Clegg, however, to say he has an uphill task ahead of him is an understatement.

Anyone who is interested in politics will know what a divided party they are. Clegg's narrow margin of victory will publicise this to the electorate, although I don't think there are many who are interested who the LibDem leader is.

Compare his narrow victory to the convincing margin David Cameron achieved two years ago. He has only got this far because the Conservative Party were willing to get behind a leader. I don't see this happening to the LibDems.

They are a party who is always willing to deal in untruths and backstabbing in local politics, so it does not surprise me that they have let their facade down and have revealed their true colours on the national stage.

Unless Clegg can do something about his own personal image - hardly anyone knows who he is - the Conservatives and Labour will continue to squeeze his party further.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Post Office Closures - a local story

I want to tell you a story about Martin Bailey-Dalton. He is the postmaster at Grovehill Road Post Office in Beverley. Him, his wife and four-year-old daughter moved to Beverley just over three months ago from Hampshire. Not long after he bought the business the Royal Mail decided to close the post office, leaving him with a £175,000 mortgage, a property to sell and the fear that even after compensation is paid, he will not even come close to breaking even.

In properties all around the area there are signs in windows protesting against the closure. No one wants it. No one wants to trek in to Beverley town centre to join the long queues at the main post office. This is the human side of post office closures and before anyone thinks of petitioning the prime minister on the Downing Street website, 1500 local residents have already signed a petition against the closure and their calls have been greeted by deaf ears.

These closures will deeply affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the country. The elderly will no longer be able to access services without travelling. A hub of the local community will be taken away and the silence from the government is deafening.

Hull Floods Bill highest in the country

The Audit Commission have revealed that the floods bill for Hull City Council will be £51.43m; the highest in the country. The council will have to find £36.51m of that bill.

One of the reasons the bill is so high is that the council has had to fork out around £10m to repair council homes affected by the flooding.

Meanwhile the government bails out Northern Rock with billions of pounds worth of taxpayers' money, but will not even come close to paying the bill facing the council tax payers of Hull: £36.51m is peanuts in comparison. I have had the misfortune of being flooded; my insurance bill will increase dramatically and now I will have to pay more council tax and possibly face a reduction in council services.

Thank you Mr Brown for all your help, but then you know already that the voters in this city will misguidedly elect three Labour MPs at the next election. We really have been pissed on from a great height.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

US Politics

One of the many things about American politics that fascinates me, is the way you can hear two men 'slug it out' on a televised debate; hurl insults and general vitriol at each other and then discover they are both members of the same party.

After the debate - if you want to call it a debate - between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, I am convinced that neither of them are fit to become President of the United States. With all the problems that beset America at the moment, they think it's worth spending time attacking each others' religious views. Huckabee is an ordained Baptist minister and Romney is a Mormon and the former suggested that Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers.

The level of debate in the UK is not very high at times, but at least it hasn't sunk that low.

EU Treaty

Brown turns up late and signs the treaty. Now it's gloves off time. The British people are demanding they have their say in a referendum and nothing short of that will do.

That's all.

PM ousted

The prime minister of the Solomon Islands, Manasseh Sogavare, has been ousted in a vote of no-confidence.

We can only dream!


Link: BBC News

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Police Federation calls for Smith to resign

The Police Federation have called for the Home Secretary to resign. They say they have no confidence in Jaqui Smith's ability to deal with their pay or conditions.

Is there anything this government can handle properly? For the Police Federation to call for her resignation and call a likely ballot of members as to whether they want the right to strike, shows how low the morale is amongst police officers.

For the rest of us; we want the Home Secretary to resign because we don't have any confidence in her full-stop. And while we are still talking about people resigning, perhaps the whole cabinet should be thinking about their positions. Are any of them competent?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sorry...

...for the lack of blogging lately. God still won't give me a 40 hour day. I will get back soon when I can fit everything into 24 hours.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Nativity

Would you Adam & Eve it; or more appropriately, would you Mary & Joseph it? If I recall, Mary & Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, in Judea, to register their names in a census. That's the gist of it anyway. The only reason they could not find accommodation for the night, was because they arrived late and all the rooms were taken. Simple as that.

Could anyone tell me then what that has to do with asylum seekers entering Britain illegally and then being turned away from these shores. Nothing? I would agree; unfortunately the BBC do not.

Iain Dale has referred to an article from The Spectator which reports 'the BBC making a new version of the Nativity, with Jesus and Mary as asylum seekers turned away by Britain.'

Just like Iain, I will let you draw your own conclusions, however I would like to ask one question: Is this a dig at Christianity or do the BBC think everyone who tries to enter Britain should be allowed to stay indefinitely? I can't make my mind up.

Terrorism

After the Oxford Union debate recently with Nick Griffin and David Irving, many column inches and air time have been devoted to the subject of free speech. Readers know where I stand on this issue, so I won't articulate my views again.

I have just been reading one of my favourite blogs - The Norfolk Blogger - and discover that Ofcom have granted a temporary licence to an Islamic radio station who broadcast good luck messages to some of Britain's most dangerous terrorists.

Do I hear government ministers denouncing this? No. What we hear instead is the government attempting to raise detention without charge to 42 days and ministers pronouncing that the views of the BNP and David Irving do not have he right to be articulated in a public forum.

When will this government get serious about tackling terrorism? When will they stop playing lip service to the problem? Allow intercept evidence to be used in terror cases. Give the police and security services the adequate resources they need to do their job; and for crying out loud make sure radio stations and websites that advocate terrorism are shut down and the perpetrators are brought to trail.

The Christmas Story - if you can remember it

'O, little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie...'

I am sure all of you have heard this Christmas Carol; not that Bethlehem is very still at the moment. Amazingly - according to Sky News - more than 1 in 4 adults in Britain have no idea where Jesus was born. As someone who was brought up on the Christian Church and I was also an organist for 18 years, you would expect me to know he answer to that riddle, but surely this is just general knowledge, plain and simple. I am not going to go on a rant about the standards of education, but I think we are in a position at the moment where our teachers have to concern themselves with league tables so much, that some of our children are missing out on a more rounded education. It also seems apparent that the thirst for knowledge of the average citizen is not very high after they leave full-time education. A sorry state of affairs indeed.

Read the report HERE.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Cutting taxes the H&F way.

I've just read this on Iain Dale's blog. If Hammersmith and Fulham can do it, why can't councils up and down the country?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Blasphemy

Can anyone tell me why we still have blasphemy laws? If as a society we value free speech, then we also have to accept that we do not have a right to be offended. I have not seen, 'Jerry Springer - the musical' and from the excerpts I have seen on television, I don't think I will in the future. People of faith have to accept that there are those who do not believe what they believe, and sometimes others will want to poke fun. If your views and faith are strong enough, then surely it doesn't matter. By taking this case to court, they have done the producers a favour. As soon as you try to ban something, you always create more interest.

Speeding and drunk coppers

As someone who has recently fallen foul of the law - I was caught speeding by a camera on the M74 - this story made me laugh

Meredydd Hughes, the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police, and the former chairman of roads policing at the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), has been banned from driving for 42 days for doing 90 mph in a 60 limit. This is the man who wanted more hidden speed cameras to catch out motorists. Poetic justice indeed.

We had a police officer here who thought drink drivers were worse than scum. He is currently banned from driving and I won't give you three guesses as to what his crime was. Glass houses spring to mind.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Google

Iain Dale inadvertently clicked the publish button, instead of the save button last Saturday, and by mistake published an embargoed story from Sky. He deleted it within 10 seconds, but already Google Blogs had picked it up and fed the story around the world. Google really is damned quick!

I remember publishing a post on Madeleine McCann, and within 5 minutes of publishing it, someone had picked it up, from Google, and was reading it in Washington State, USA.

So, when you want your story around the world quickly, Google will do it for you. If you make a mistake; there's nothing you can do.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Gillian Gibbons - a final thought

It is good news that Gillian Gibbons has been released from prison and is now flying back to the UK. There is a but in that though.

What Baroness Warsi and Lord Ahmed have done has been done with all the best of intentions, however for the Sudanese president to grant her a pardon, there has to have been a crime in the first place. Ms Gibbons was not guilty of a crime. There was a time when a British Passport meant something. It doesn't seem to anymore. By negotiating with the regime in Sudan, we have legitimised their judicial process and that is a mistake. We should get back to those times when Britain never negotiated with terrorists or rogue states.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Gillian Gibbons and Islam

I needed some time for reflection before I commented on the case of Gillian Gibbons. My initial reactions could not be printed.

For starters, the current regime in Sudan is bonkers. On top of that they are dangerous with it. Without wanting to sound in any way racist, the majority of Sudanese are also - compared with Western standards - uneducated. These nutters understand that and basically brainwash. No other word for it. Why is life so bad for you? Blame it in America. Who are the infidels? The decadent West.

It reminds me of Communist days when loudspeakers would adorn the lamp posts around the town square; the party officials could address the faithful and brainwash them in to thinking how much better their life is compared to those in the decadent West. Hitler did it. He brainwashed the majority of Germany in to thinking all their problems were to due the Jews. He turned innocent young men in to monsters after they joined the SS. Robert Mugabe does it today in Zimbabwe. All his country's problems are due to Britain.

What we see with Islamist extremists is not new. It has been going on for centuries and just as we have fought against fascism and communism, we have to fight against this other form of dictatorship. Once Ms Gibbons is deported back to the UK, we should drastically reduce aid to Sudan. We should teach them a lesson that they do not bite the hand that feeds.

Finally, we all need to take note that free speech is something we should be proud of and if necessary, fight for. Go to one of these Islamist states at your peril. Even the most innocuous remark could land you in front of the firing squad.

Detention without Charge

One of the organisations I am proud to be a member of is, Liberty. I don't need to ramble on just how much our liberties and human rights are important, and how they are being slowly eroded by the most anti-libertarian government anyone can remember in Britain. Whoops! I just have.

I received an e-mail from Liberty yesterday, which I am partly re-printing here. If anyone feels as strongly about this subject as I do, the please join Liberty and lobby your MP. Thank you.



In 2005, Liberty campaigned successfully to prevent Government proposals to raise the maximum period of pre-charge detention to 90 days. The active support of Liberty members was crucial in helping us to defeat the Government's proposals then. We need your help again.

The Government is proposing to extend pre-charge detention in terrorism cases once again, this time to a possible 56 days. Liberty believes that any further extension beyond 28 days is unjust, unnecessary and will not - as the Government has argued - make us any safer.

A new Counter-Terrorism Bill is yet to be published and you can still help us to influence the debate by taking action now.

What you can do

Did your MP vote against extending pre-charge detention back in 2005? If so, we will have written to you to let you know. Urge your MP to maintain their principled position by standing their ground on this issue. If you unsure how your MP voted, visit
www.theyworkforyou.com to find out, or download our list to see if your MP’s name is on it.

Remember, the best way to get in touch with your MP is to write to them rather than telephone - this will only annoy them and is unlikely to get you very far. For more tips and advice, read Liberty’s
guide to lobbying your MP.

One way you could help is to write a letter to your local paper, highlighting your concerns and listing the
alternatives suggested by Liberty. Better still, encourage a group of friends to write letters too - there is strength in numbers! Remember, it is better to keep the letter short and to the point. Your local paper is more likely to print your letter without editing it, if it is succinct.

All the information you need

· Take a look at a list of the
alternatives to extending pre-charge detention
· Read our detailed
'Questions and Answers' information sheet.
· Find out
what the papers say about pre-charge detention. You can read excerpts from leader columns in almost all of the major national daily newspapers opposing the extension of pre-charge detention.
· There is lots of advice and information available on our website, just go to
www.chargeorrelease.com

Get in touch!

If you need more information on the campaign or advice on any of the above points, please don't hesitate to get in touch by
emailing us.
Finally, remember to sign up to the Charge or Release email list today by sending an email to
chargeorrelease@liberty-human-rights.org.uk. We will keep you updated with campaign news and ways you can help.
_______________________________________________________________________________

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Pathetic Labour

Matthew Parris is at his withering best in 'The Times' today. If you want to read how pathetic Labour is under Gordon Brown, click HERE.

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