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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope to start 2009 in a better way than I started 2008. As soon as Big Ben heralded the start of the new year, I went to put my arm around Becky. Unfortunately, I managed to elbow her in the face! Not the best of starts. I hope you manage to wish your nearest and dearest a Happy New Year without inflicting pain.
A Happy New Year to you all and thanks for your support and comments throughout 2008.

Review of 2008 - Part 2

One of the surprises this year was the resignation of David Davis. We know he is passionate on the subject of our liberty and freedom, however, no-one expected him to resign his seat and fight a by-election on this issue. There were many at the time who said if you have done nothing wrong, then you have nothing to fear. There were those who felt you could take away many of our hard won freedoms, and it would make no difference to our lives. Such is the trust of those people in government and the police. Perhaps the arrest of Damian Green has made them change their minds.
Putting this in to perspective, Damian was getting information from a civil servant that should have been in the public domain. It was information the government wanted to keep secret. This is nothing new; opposition parties have been doing this for as long as anyone can remember and governments of all political persuasions have tried to keep embarrassing information secret. Gordon Brown has taken leaked information and used it to embarrass the previous Conservative government, so him of all people could not complain when the same tactic was used against him.
We have been assured by the government that anti-terror legislation will only be used legitimately; i.e. the fight against terrorism. Therefore, if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear. Tell that to those who have been snooped on by their local council for overfilling their wheelie-bins. Those who have been snooped on for putting out their bins on the wrong night, too early or have returned them to their properties too late. Or tell that to Damian Green's family, who saw him carted off to the nick, accompanied by anti-terror police and had all his means off communication taken away from him.
I am not going through the rights and wrongs of searching an MPs office (I have covered this extensively), I just want to look at this from the point of view of any citizen of this country. If you organise a campaign against a government policy, have information that may embarrass the government, or are very vocal in your criticism of the government, you may find yourself in a similar position to Damian Green. I am sure the public will be told a different story. I am sure the public will be told there were doubts about you; you may have been a security risk, etc. But let's get things clear, the arrest of Damian Green has opened up a new chapter in politics in this country. Try and embarrass the government and you may find yourself arrested.
Now go back to what David Davis was saying in the summer. Can you see his point and do you trust the government to do the right thing? Do you think ID cards and the database that goes along with them, will be used to protect you or will be used against you? Do you think there will be more snooping in the lives of citizens in 2009 or less? Do you want the government to know more about you, when in a free society they have no right to ask such questions?
Hopefully the British people have now finally woken up and will join in the fight to protect and freedom and liberty.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Should Bishops get involved in politics?

Over the past few days, many commentators have been stating Church of England bishops should not get involved in politics. Some have been more specific and have stated bishops should not get involved in party politics. Why? What is wrong with church leaders speaking their mind? When you become a bishop, do you leave your political views behind? Are you not entitled to speak out on issues you feel passionate about? Are not many bishops entitled to air their views in the House of Lords?
If anyone tries to tell me politics and religion shouldn't mix, they are living cloud cuckoo land. Of course they mix and rightly so. I want more debate in this country, not less of it. All of our ideas, theories and policies should be challenged, and I couldn't care less who does the challenging.

Monday, December 29, 2008

What is the purpose of the United Nations?

The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, has tonight showed what a toothless, useless organisation the UN is. If South Korea was suffering a constant bombardment from North Korea, I imagine he would say his country has a right to defend itself. Why then does he urge restraint when another country suffers constant attacks? Why doesn't he state that Israel has a right to defend herself?

If the UN has any useful purpose, this is exactly what he would have been saying. Instead, he urges more appeasement of an enemy that is intent on destroying Israel and is not bothered how many innocent people - on both sides - are killed and injured in the process. If the UN had been in existence during WW2 and Ban Ki-moon had been Secretary General, can you imagine the conversations he would have had with Churchill? Would he have urged restraint? Would he have presented Hitler as a reasonable man, who was willing to negotiate? I fear the answer is yes.

How long can the UN last? Not long, I hope.

Israel is right to attack Hamas

I have raised my head above the parapet before and defended Israel, and today is no exception. Hamas will not stop until they have destroyed the state of Israel. If Israel allows supplies through to Gaza, it is criticised. If it does not, it is criticised. If it shows restraint - which it has done for many years - very few come to her defence. If it says, enough is enough, and seeks to defend its citizens, the world comes down on them. Those who say Israel should show restraint at this time must have been living on a distant planet for the past few years, because this is exactly what Israel has been doing. Personally, I think they should have dealt with Hamas in this manner a long time ago. Hamas does not want peace. It never has and it never will.

Here are some facts courtesy of the Conservative Friends of Israel:


Key points- Latest update on rocket launches against Israel, and humanitarian supplies to Gaza:

· 110 rockets have been fired into Israel since Saturday. In the past week over 300 rockets, missiles and mortar rounds were fired from Gaza by Iranian backed Hamas and other militants at Israel. More than 563 were fired since Hamas escalated rocket firing on 4 November. Israel maintained restraint until now hoping for a return to calm.
· The recent escalation is the result of Hamas’s decision to renew attacks after the end of the Gaza ceasefire. Since then, Israel refrained from military actions and continued talks with Egypt to broker understandings. Hamas rejected diplomacy and chose to deliberately escalate the situation.
· 250,000 Israelis in the south of the country are in range of Gaza rockets.
· On Friday, Israel allowed approximately 90 trucks of medicine, fuel, cooking gas and other vital goods into Gaza. The shipment included more than 500,000 litres of fuel and 200 tons of natural gas.
· On Saturday, 27 December, over 40 rockets were fired at the cities of Ashkelon, Netivot, Kiryat Gat, Ashdod and additional communities through the south. Hamas has ordered its operatives to attack Israel with missiles, rockets and mortar rounds. Israeli residents throughout the south of the country have been ordered to remain in bomb shelters.
· An Israeli man was killed and four others were seriously wounded when a missile hit a house in Netivot. Another man was seriously wounded when a rocket struck at the community of Mivtahim later this afternoon.
· Hamas unilaterally broke the truce with Israel: hundreds of rockets have been fired at Israeli towns in past week
· The truce provided cover for massive Hamas rearmament campaign
· Israel strikes at terrorist infrastructure – as would any other sovereign nation in its position
· The international community should lend its support to the war on Hamas terror

Israeli Action:

· Israel has exercised maximum restraint, but – after eight years of missile barrages from Gaza – must come to the defense of the 250,000 Israelis living within range of Hamas attack. Any other sovereign nation would do the same.
· The objective of the IDF operation is to cripple the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza, impairing the ability of Hamas and its allies to launch attacks on the citizens of Israel; IDF action would have been unnecessary had Hamas abandoned the path of terror. Israel is engaged in self-defense, and will respond assertively to any provocation by other parties in the region.
· Israeli air strikes were launched on Saturday (27.12) against Hamas targets in Gaza, a week after Hamas decided not to renew the six-month-long ceasefire.
· Israel has hit targets in all Gaza's main towns, including Gaza City in the north and Khan Younis and Rafah in the south.
· All the targets of Israeli attack are purely militant, which Hamas uses for its terror activity
· More than 210 targets were hit in the first 24 hours.
· "Israel will continue until we have a new security environment in the south, when the population there will no longer live in terror and in fear of constant rocket barrages," Israeli Government spokesman Mark Regev.


Fatah Reactions:

· PA ambassador to the US Zalmay Khalilzad has suggested Hamas held the key to restoring calm. "We believe the way forward from here is for rocket attacks against Israel to stop, for all violence to end,"
· Khalilzad was implicitly backed up from Cairo by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who claimed the current situation could have been avoided had Hamas renewed the ceasefire before it lapsed and ceased all violence towards Israel.
· Israel is committed to working towards achieving a peaceful solution for Israelis and Palestinians. Fatah continues to be a partner for peace and real inroads have been made towards a peace deal
· Israel has always been committed to giving up land for peace and withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 precisely to further this goal, however Hamas seized control of Gaza, turning the area into a launch pad for terrorism against Israel.
· Hamas refuse to accept the Quartet principles (recognition of Israel, renunciation of violence and acceptance of previous peace agreements).


Background: The Hamas threat to Israel

· Israel withdrew all military and civilian presence from Gaza in August 2005. Since then, more than 5000 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza at Israeli civilian neighbourhoods. In the first four months of 2008, the rate of rocket attacks was one every three hours.
· Under cover of the truce, Hamas engaged in a major campaign to upgrade its terrorist capabilities, manufacturing and smuggling massive quantities of weapons into Gaza – including rockets, explosive charges and machine guns – and constructing a network of underground tunnels for combat purposes. Israel cannot acquiesce to the presence of a Hizbullah-like organization on its southern border.
· Since 2004, 92% of Sderot residents (a town of 20,000 inhabitants) have experienced a Qassam rocket falling on their or an adjacent street. 16 Israelis have been killed by Qassam rockets and hundreds have been injured and maimed.
· Israeli civilians have 15 seconds of warning period before the rocket strikes.
· Hamas are opposed to the peace process being conducted between Israel and the Palestinian moderates under Mahmoud Abbas and committed to the destruction of Israel.
· Hamas belongs to the "A" League of extremism, alongside Iran, Syria, Al Qaida and Hizbullah. The United Nations and a majority of its member states have designated Hamas a terrorist organization and will not engage in any contact with its representatives.

Month-by-month tally of rockets and mortars fired from Gaza into Israel in 2008:
*Ceasefire declared: 19 June
** Israeli operation inside Gaza to destroy tunnel intended to kidnap soldiers: 4 November
*** Up to December 26
For a daily tally of rockets and mortars fired into Israel, see:
BICOM Statistics: Total number of identified rocket and mortar shell hits since 2001 and daily tally for 2008.


Humanitarian situation in Gaza:

· Prior to Hamas’s escalation of rocket fire in November, Israel was providing close to 4000 trucks of aid a month to Gaza, along with fuel and electricity despite the ongoing attacks on Israel.
· Close to 9,000 Gazans received permits to enter Israel for medical treatment in the first half of 2008, a considerable increase on previous years
· Khaled Abdel Shaafi, director the United Nations Development Programme in Gaza, has denied that there is a humanitarian crisis. In December, he told Canada’s Globe and Mail, that, “This is not a humanitarian crisis... It's an economic crisis, a political crisis, but it's not a humanitarian crisis. People aren't starving.”
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· In the last 24 hours Egypt has opened its border with Gaza at Rafah to let injured Palestinians seek treatment there. However the Egyptian foreign minister has accused Hamas of not allowing injured Palestinians to leave Gaza to seek treatment, even though much-needed medical supplies are waiting at the nearby El-Arish airport.
· A senior border official has reported that "No one has come in, we don't know why they're closed on the other side,"
· "The wounded are barred from crossing" into Egypt, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said in Cairo, blaming "those who control Gaza. We are waiting for the wounded to cross.""The Rafah border crossing was opened by the Egyptians yesterday, but no Hamas people showed up" on the other side, an Israeli military spokesman said.



How would you want your government to react?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My new dongle

As I noted on a previous post, one of my Christmas gifts from Becky was a dongle from '3'. We have used it for the past couple of days when we were visiting my Mum who does not have a broadband connection. My first impressions have been very favourable. The speed is good - almost as fast as my broadband at home and it has been reliable. If you are already a '3' customer, you will get mobile broadband for half price. For example, Becky is paying £7.50 for 5GB of usage per month. This is on an 18 month contract. The full price is £15 per month.
This is certainly the way of the future. I don't think it will take all that many years before we see all of us carrying one of these little things around with us and getting broadband whenever and wherever we want.

Review of 2008 - Part 1

This time last year, when you were making your predictions for 2008, how many did you get right? Did you predict the recession would be as bad and as widespread as it is? And come to think of it, how many of you predicted the 1983 Labour Party Manifesto commitment of the banks being nationalised if necessary would come true 25 years after the pledge was written? For those of you who did think there was a possibility of some banks being nationalised, how many thought the Conservative Party would support this Labour government? For a party who believes in the markets, in free enterprise, the fact they didn’t push a market solution to the problem did surprise me.

David Cameron wanted to be seen as a statesman, someone leading his party responsibly over these troubled times. He offered Gordon Brown his support and Brown responded in typical fashion; he used it against Cameron. It was hardly surprising. Brown is one of the most tribal, partisan politicians you could ever want to meet. Cameron’s decision to back Brown may come back to haunt him in 2009. He handed the man who has presided over the mess we are now in, the initiative. If the polls are to be believed, Brown and Darling are trusted more to guide us through the recession than Cameron and Osborne. If Cameron had done what he should have done and highlighted the government’s complete incompetence and only offered some support to Labour when it was absolutely necessary, the polls may read differently now.

This approach would have required the Conservatives to have had a clear vision of how they would have handled affairs differently from Labour. Unfortunately, this vision was about as clear as the view of Parliament across the Thames on a foggy day. A razor sharp Shadow Chancellor – someone like John Redwood – would have steered the Conservative ship in a different direction. They would have not supported the government when it failed to regulate the financial services industry. They would have fought vehemently against the rapid growth of the client state on the grounds it stifles the economy. They would have presented the true Conservative alternative and now the electorate would be able to see the clear blue water between the two parties. Alas, this was not to be and the result is the Brown poll bounce, which seems to be on the wane, but is still there. Brown should have been dead and buried by now. At the moment he is still breathing on his own and the life support machine has been put away and is not likely to be needed for quite some time.

In 2009, David Cameron must stop tinkering around the edges, present a clear alternative and replace his Shadow Chancellor. He has to tell the voters the truth. He must tell them in clear terms the scale of the mess Gordon Brown has got this country in to. He must inform the voters, life under a Conservative government will be hard at the beginning. The amount of debt Labour has accumulated will mean the scope for tax cuts will be minimal. Massive state intervention will make the recession last longer. The only way forward is a reduction of the public sector and a reduction of the welfare dependency culture that has permeated its way through Britain like a cancer. If he manages to get this across, this should give him a short breathing space to formulate the policies needed when Britain pulls out of the recession – which I think could easily last for three years. If he fails to do this, the Conservative Party does not deserve to be elected to power.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Three for a pound

My mother visited Northallerton today and was passing by Woolworths. Today was the last day of trading for the store there and as you may have already guessed by the title of this post, everything in the store was being sold for three items for a pound. Those who had never crossed the threshold of this great name of the high street for many years appeared like rats from a sewer to snap up the last minute bargains. And boy do I mean snap them up. Very large trolley loads of goods were being transported to the checkouts by bargain hunters from across the area. If only they had bought the bargains Woolies had to offer in the past and not just on the day they were virtually giving it all away.

Computer Problems

I have been having some computer problems of late. On Christmas Day of all days, I was deleting programs off the hard drive and defragmenting. That didn't seem to work. Yesterday I tried, and it didn't work either.
Today I think I have got somewhere and the computer seems to be working at a speed appropriate to 2008. I am also using the dongle Becky bought me for Christmas to get the internet connection to write today, as we are visiting my Mum and she doesn't have the internet.
Hopefully, my computer performance issues are a thing of the past. You will find out later; that's for sure.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Christmas

I will not be blogging for the next couple of days, although I will be trying out one of my Christmas presents (yes, I know I'm getting a dongle, because I was there with Becky when she bought it), so you may hear from me on Boxing Day. 

In the meantime, the Damian Green affair looks like it is set to run and run. I said in November heads will roll for this and in the new year, I think we will see the start of this. This is something I will refer to in my review of the year.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas. I hope you all have a great time with your family and friends. 

Monday, December 22, 2008

Any Suggestions?

I've not had any time to write today; festive season and all that. I am trying to compose a review of the year, and what a year. Do any of you have suggestions on what political stories - other than the recession - should be included?

I'll be back tomorrow.

Illinois Corruption

Well, well, well. If this is true, perhaps corruption goes to the very heart of Barack Obama's team?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Shopping for Christmas - how many stores will survive the recession?

Today, we tried to finish off our Christmas shopping at the Meadowhall Shopping Centre, Sheffield. I was preparing for endless queues, but I was surprised. There was a healthy number of shoppers, but the place could not be described as really busy.

What amazed me was the desperation of the staff in the Body Shop to get hold of our cash. We were given the hard sell by one assistant, then another tried to do the same a couple of minutes later, and then when we were paying for our goods, the checkout operator tried to get us to spend more by getting off her seat and picking up the free gift which could be ours if we spent another £5.50. You got the feeling they were selling as if their lives depended on it. Perhaps the Body Shop is going to be an early casualty of the recession or perhaps it is just that store in jeopardy, but it was not a pleasant shopping experience. Fortunately, the staff in other stores were relaxed, although judging by the number of shoppers in Marks and Spencer, I do wonder how long that established name of the high street can continue in business.

With the amount of discounting in every store, I can't see how retailers are making a large enough profit, unless the mark-up was extremely high at the standard price. Next January and February in particular are going to be terrible months for redundancies and I wonder how many people who served us today will still have jobs.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My letter to Gordon Brown

Following on from the excellent Letters from a Tory, I am writing my own letter to Gordon Brown.

Dear Prime Minister

You are either the most deluded man in Britain or you are a liar. There are times I think I know the answer and there are times when I realise I do not. You still continue to repeat the myth that Britain is well placed to weather the recession, although every economist and the International Monetary Fund say the recession will be worse in Britain than in any industrialised economy. Now you are relying on the 'fighting spirit' of the British people, no doubt hoping you have hoodwinked them enough and will trust you to lead us to the promised land. It appears you have instructed every minister to pepper all their sentences with three words; global, worldwide, America. By using this approach you hope the British people will absolve you from all responsibility for the complete mess we are in. The fact you have plundered pension funds, recklessly borrowed to fund the client state and failed to regulate the financial services industry, seems not to bother you. Instead you hail yourself as a Messiah or a superhero and you are succeeding in exporting 1970s socialism around the world. You don't seem bothered that by borrowing more, leaving this and future generations saddled with debt, you will make this recession last much longer than necessary. In case you now feel a hint of remorse, may I remind you of some simple economic facts.

The reason why Jaguar Land Rover is experiencing severe financial difficulties is the same reason the major American car manufacturers are in the same boat: they build more cars than they can sell, they are inefficient and suffer from poor management. I will address these points in sequence.

You of all people understand the world's desire to be environmentally friendly. You have, after all, taxed us more under the guise of environmentalism and Ed Miliband is intent on taxing us more, even through a recession. Because of this, we now desire smaller, cheaper to run cars. Jaguars, Land Rovers, Range Rovers and American gas guzzling SUVs do not fall in this category. It is a simple matter of supply and demand. Doling out another £1 billion pounds of borrowed money will not solve the problem. It will only put off the inevitable.

Car manufacturers should look to Nissan when it comes to efficiency. It is companies like Nissan who have a future. The latest cutting edge technology not only makes building cars cheaper, it also means you have a future.

The reason why some car manufacturers are in trouble is because management has failed. They - like you (remember no more boom and bust) - failed to plan for the bad times. They failed to gauge what the public wants. Recessions root out inefficiencies in the economy in a ruthless way. There will be many more companies in Britain who will be found wanting. What are you going to do? Adopt the pick and mix strategy you are trying to use at the moment? Or are you going to cynically make sure you intervene only when jobs are in jeopardy in Labour constituencies; especially if they are marginal?

Britain deserves better than this. In you, prime minister, we have an old dog who is incapable of learning new tricks. This is what has got us into this situation. You are not the man to lead us forward. You are not the man who will adapt to the new challenges Britain will face. I'm not saying the Conservative Party has all the answers, however, history tells us it is the Conservative Party that has had the job of digging Britain out of the economic mess the Labour Party has got us in to. One day the electorate will realise if they elect Labour to power, it always ends in tears. Hopefully, this day will dawn sooner, rather than later.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Allison

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jaguar/Land Rover bail out considered

It is being reported this morning the government are considering bailing out Indian owned Jaguar/Land Rover. They are of course not considering the same for Woolworths.

This pick 'n' mix approach to where our money is spent is another example of how this government is going to prolong the agony for all of us. If Jaguar cannot sell enough cars then the company will have to be broken up and the profitable parts sold on. This is the correct way of doing things. Artificially keeping the company alive with taxpayers' money will not help the British economy recover in the long term.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Woolworths to close down in January


When Rover went belly-up, there were some who thought it was a national disgrace. If you asked the same people whether or not they own a Rover car, unsurprisingly, the reply of the majority was no. If the reply had been yes, then Rover would still have been in business. It is as simple as that. Ask why we stopped buying Rover cars, the answers would differ widely. The were not stylish enough. You could get better value for money from other manufacturers. More extras as standard from the Japanese, etc. One of our cars is a Rover 45 and personally I like it, but not enough people did and Rover went out of business.

Today Woolworths has announced it will cease trading from January 5. Some 28,000 people will join the dole queue. There are many who will lament the loss of one of the most familiar names on the high street and it will be sad to see it go, but when was the last time you shopped there? I can't remember the last time. I do a lot of shopping online and I can never remember going to the Woolies website. I have tried to go on it tonight and I was informed it was undergoing essential maintenance, which means it is never going to be up-and-running again. Woolworths have gone to the wall because they didn't keep up with the times. They used their tried and tested methods of retailing in a business world that was changing rapidly around them. They didn't diversify enough and we found new ways of shopping and left poor old Woolies behind. We probably thought it would always be there, but if we stop spending money there, it is bound to go to the wall.

Unfortunately, there will be many well run businesses going to the wall over the next couple of years. I will feel sorry for those well run, well managed businesses, but as for Woolies; I am sorry for all those who are about to lose their jobs, but the management over many years has much to answer for.

Banks rescue plan is not working

Mervyn King, the Governor of the Bank of England, has warned more intervention may be needed to get the banking system up-and-running again. I have said before and will say again, it is precisely because of government intervention banks are not lending to each other. If Brown hadn't intervened in the way he did, banks would have been forced to start lending to each other, otherwise they would have gone out of business. Now Mr King is calling for more interference in the market and has floated the possibility of full bank nationalisation. This depression is going to last a long time and the more governments around the world intervene, the longer it will last.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Damian Green is 'unlikely' to be prosecuted

Call me a cynic, but when I hear there has been an independent review by a senior police officer, I immediately think of the word 'oxymoron.' Tonight, we hear Damian Green is unlikely to be prosecuted as the police were 'heavy handed' in their arrest of him. The police were, however, justified in holding him for the length of time they did and searching his House of Commons office. No doubt it's good for the Met to see one of the boys still giving them some credibility.

There have been many lies told in this case, but we don't know who the liars are. One thing I do know, is the liars will eventually be found out and then heads will roll. In the meantime, Damian Green and his family can spend Christmas knowing he is not going to go to court, although if the CPS do decide to prosecute Mr Green in front of his peers, the case will be very entertaining. It won't happen because our independent legal system cannot be corrupted by Downing Street. Yes folks, there is a porker, with his nose freshly out of the trough, flying through the sky tonight!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Smoking

I received a comment tonight on a post I wrote in August about smoking. The commentator is from the United States:

My daughter and I live with my mother. My mother and I both smoke. My mother has been a nurse for 30 years, and the hospitals/clinics where she works are all non-smoking campuses. If she smokes, she leaves the premises at lunchtime, and then she carries a small bottle of febreze with her to spray her clothes and hair before she goes back to work, not to mention mints. She has been doing this for about the past three years, and has never had a complaint. That is, until two weeks ago. That was when the office manager pulled her aside and told her 'someone' had said they smelled smoke on her. No detail on whether it was a doctor, patient, nurse, etc. My mother came home in a panic that night. All hospitals in the state are non-smoking campuses now, and the particular hospital where mother works has it in their policy that an employee can be sent home if someone smells smoke on them. Also, this hospital recently implemented a new policy. For all new hires, they are performing a hair follicle pre-employment drug screen. If nicotine is present, the hospital will not hire them. Since the incident two weeks ago, my mother and I are smoking outside. We have rewashed all her nursing uniforms whether they were dirty or not. These actions we have taken are, in themselves, not really issues to me. What makes me angry are the reasons. My mother did not break company policy. If anything, she's more conscientious about it than most. I don't smoke in places where smoking is prohibited. But when it comes into my home, invades my privacy, and causes a loved one to fear for her livelihood, it's just wrong.
I see signs posted on buildings that quote legal regulations prohibiting discrimination against someone for being a non-smoker. I have yet to see a sign declaring what smoker's rights are. But, like my mother, fear keeps me from making too much of a fuss. Smoking is more accepted in my place of employment (ironically, I work as an alcohol/drug abuse counselor). Yet, even though I may not have to worry about anyone complaining of smelling smoke on me, we still have to walk all the way to the back of the property, rain, shine or snow. That's ok. I can look forward to getting off work, when I can go home and relax in my own house. Oh, but wait, that's being taken away too.

This is amazing. You can't smoke in your workplace, so you go outside. You can't smoke outside in the car park, so you leave the grounds. Then, if there is a faint smell of smoke about your person, you could lose your job, which means you are frightened to smoke at home. If any other group or section of society was treated in this way, there would be outrage. But not when it comes to smokers. They have to like it or lump it, or face being fired by - and I use this word carefully and deliberately - fascists. This is truly a disgraceful way to treat human beings.

Illinois Governor Blagojevich - an impeachment proceeding to commence immidiately

There has only been one impeachment hearing in the history of the State of Illinois and that was in 1832. Today, Michael Madigan, the Illinois House Speaker, has announced an impeachment proceeding will commence against the governor, with immediate effect.

If Gov. Blagojevich did try and sell the vacant Senate seat, it was an act of folly that shows some politicians think they are above the law and can get away with anything. Gov. Blagojevich originally ran for office pledging to clean-up politics in the state. It shows how for some people, power corrupts very easily.

The Chicago Tribune will tell you more.

Firefighters win in Donkey Basketball


A nice little story from the Kokomo Tribune. The things people will do for charity.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Janet Devers is still fighting Hackney Council

The British love an underdog. It is something about our sense of fair play. When someone is being walked on by government for no good reason, we love the underdog more.

Walk in Janet Devers. Many will remember her. She is the latest metric martyr. Hackney Council have decided to drop the Crown Court case against her for selling fruit and veg in pounds and ounces. She decided to use her ancient and cherished right of a trail by jury. She knew if she let her peers decide whether she should be fined or go to prison, they would acquit her. Hackney Council knew this too, however, they are still opposing her appeal against eight previous convictions.

Mrs Devers is a law abiding citizen who does not want a criminal record. We can all understand that. She deserves our wholehearted support

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Three-week Christmas break for MPs

This Christmas, I will finish work on December 23 and return on January 5. Being self-employed, I do not have holiday pay, so I will glad to return back to work to start earning again.

Members of Parliament, however, are in a more enviable position. They will take a break from December 18 and not return to work until January 12. As millions of Britons face an unsure future, this does not help dispel the feeling MPs are out of touch. If I was a cynic, I would draw the conclusion that the government was doing its best to avoid scrutiny for as long as possible, however, it would be very unkind of me to accuse the prime minister of such conduct. Heaven forbid. More government scrutiny is required, not less, and with MPs not sitting for around 20 weeks of the year, how many more dictatorial antics can Brown et al get away with?

Three Royal Marines killed by a 13 year-old suicide bomber

There is a song in the musical South Pacific that goes like this:

You've Got To Be Taught
to Hate And Fear,
you've Got To Be Taught
from Year To Year,
it's Got To Be Drummed
in Your Dear Little Ear
you've Got To Be Carefully Taught.

You've Got To Be Taught To Be Afraid
of People Whose Eyes Are Oddly Made,
and People Whose Skin Is A Diff'rent Shade,
you've Got To Be Carefully Taught.

You've Got To Be Taught Before It's Too Late,
before You Are Six Or Seven Or Eight,
to Hate All The People Your Relatives Hate,
you've Got To Be Carefully Taught!


When I read this story from the Telegraph, it was that song that came to mind. How else can you explain a 13 year-old suicide bomber? We can neutralise some terrorist threats, but we can't do a thing about something like this.


Words courtesy of 6LYRICS

Friday, December 12, 2008

Manchester says no to road pricing

The good people of Manchester have rejected road pricing. Four out of five who voted, rejected the scheme. Hardly surprising. At the start of a recession, the last thing you want is to voluntarily increase the cost of your daily commute into work, that is assuming you still have a job this time next year.

If they had voted yes, it would have been turkeys voting for Christmas. Manchester City Council will now have to find a new way of managing city centre traffic without hitting the general public heavily in the pocket for trying to earn an honest crust.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Dynamic Duo? God help us.

Today, Gordon Brown has dismissed criticism by the Germans of his 'master plan.' Alistair Darling is again telling the banks they must start lending. Two men, living in cloud cuckoo land, who have a higher opinion of themselves than anyone else has of them, trying to save the world. Not really the incredibles, but rather the incredulous.

I hope I am not in such a small minority when I say the rescue package for the banking industry was wrong. The very reason why banks are not lending is because they do not have an incentive to do so. The government bail out made sure of that. The more the government intervenes, the longer the recession will last. But they are not interested in the truth. They are interested in saving their own bacon and inflicting their ideology on the rest of us. Unfortunately, the voters are starting to be conned.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Elf Yourself

Steve Green, from the Daily Referendum blog has been having some Christmas fun with some well known bloggers, yours truly included. You won't believe how I can move.


Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gov. Blagojevich of Illinois arrested for corruption


Chicago politics is notoriously corrupt. We can easily cast our minds back to the election of Kennedy and the allegations of fraud that emanated from the great State of Illinois. It now seems Governor Rod Blagojevich, who was elected in 2003 on a 'I'm going to clean up politics in this state' mandate, has not been as squeaky clean as he should have been. 

He is responsible for filling the US Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. When such a prize entered into his hands, it is alleged greed for the dollar also entered his heart. Today he was arrested along with his chief-of-staff for allegedly trying to sell the seat. 

Instead of being squeaky clean, we may find he is about to wash his dirty linen in public. To read more from the Chicago Tribune (where else), click HERE

How much for a Christmas Tree?

Boris Johnson has the answer and he also makes some important points too. The slump in the value of the pound could hit us all next year in some surprising ways. Read was Boris has to say, HERE.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The hypocrisy of Plane Stupid and their suppoters

After my post this morning on the 'Plane Stupid' sit-in at Stansted Airport, I received the following comment:

The hypocrisy argument is a completely weak way for people to justify their own inaction and smugness. Do you really think that the fact that they took a coach to the airport and emitted carbon invalidates their point about aviation's contribution to climate change?

It seems likely that people willing to take action over this will indeed be 'equally worried about the threat of car and coach travel too' and will be acting accordingly during their daily lives. 

Whether Plane Stupid's tactics were well-judged or not, the fact remains that their actions, because they resulted in the cancellation of flights, prevented more emissions than they caused. Therefore the 'hypocrisy' thing just doesn't wash, and is revealed for what it is: namely the last preserve of those who don't give a shit.

-Majeed

There are three main points I wish to make on this subject. Firstly, for the all the points that are argued in favour of man-made climate change, there are others who can come up with a differing point of view. Indeed, many scientists will not state what they believe to be the truth for fear of having funding taken away from them. Being described as a climate change denier will probably end your career as a scientist. So, Majeed, the whole thrust of you argument is based on what you see as an absolute; we are responsible for climate change. Of course, you forget about the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age; times when the mean temperature of the UK was warmer and colder than it is today. You forget that the polar ice cap has always melted throughout the years; this is why we have icebergs. The whole premise of your argument is something on which we disagree, so I will move on.

The Plane Stupid protesters did cause massive disruption to flights at Stansted Airport. Many flights were cancelled. Is this something to be proud of? Thousands of innocent passengers suffering the misery of airport delays through no fault of their own. Parents pulling their hair out trying to keep small children amused. Not something I would be proud of, but if you think it is, then you are entitled to your opinion; warped though it may be. 

Then we come to the most important point of all. If you don't mind me asking, what is your morning routine? If it is anything like mine, you will get out of bed on a morning and not shiver, thanks to central heating. You will be able to take a hot bath or shower, thanks once again to the trusty boiler. You will be able to walk into the kitchen and put the kettle on. Within minutes you will be drinking a refreshing cup of tea. Just a small part of what millions of Britons do each morning. I am not a hypocrite. I know the price for these luxuries is the burning of fossil fuels. I also know the chances I have had to visit places my grandparents could only have dreamt about is thanks to air travel. I know the mobility I have is thanks to my car; indeed I wouldn't have a job if it were not for the car. Get out of the box and look at yourself and tell me you are any different from me, other than a hypocrite. 


David Davis in the Telegraph

David Davis has written a good article on the Damian Green affair in the Telegraph. To read it, click HERE.

Plane Stupid protest at Stansted Airport

Plane Stupid. It rather sums it up. Whatever your feelings are about climate change - or at least the causes of climate change - closing the runway at Stansted Airport is not the way to go about it. 

One of the protesters said 'being arrested was a terrifying prospect, but not nearly as terrifying as the prospect of climate change.' I wonder how they all got to Stansted. Was it by coach, or did they choose to drive there? If they are so worried about the alleged threat to the environment of air travel, surely they are equally worried about the threat of car and coach travel too. And what about all the extra carbon emissions from the police vehicles sent to break up this protest.

Plane Stupid, or plain hypocrites? You chose. 

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A third of MPs have lost confidence in Speaker Michael Martin

It is a serious matter when Members of Parliament lose confidence in the Speaker. The BBC surveyed 130 MPs on this issue and 90 replied. A third of MPs stated they had lost confidence in Michael Martin.

The Speaker will have to resign - probably next summer. With a third of those surveyed willing to come out and say they have lost confidence, it begs the question, how many MPs want him to go? My hunch would be the majority of them. 

Speaker Martin has brought this on himself. His statement to the House of Commons last week, blaming the Sergeant-at-Arms, was the final straw for many MPs. He should have accepted responsibility. Instead he trod the well worn path of Labour ministers, and has tried to brazen it out. He is finding out that as Speaker, this avenue has turned into a cul-de-sac. 

Reader Survey

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Tell the voters the truth and do not be afraid

In the Telegraph yesterday, Jeff Randall talked about politicians who are lambasted for telling the truth. Alistair Darling told the truth a few months ago when he said we are about to face the worst recession in 60 years. He was lambasted by David Cameron in a cheap points scoring exercise. Of course, George Osborne was accused lowering the value of sterling by Labour, so they are just as bad.

I have said before, we need politicians who have the guts of Churchill. Can you ever imagine the great man saying, 'Don't worry, the UK is in a unique position to defeat the Nazi enemy. This war will be over before we know it. Jam tomorrow.' Never in a month of Sundays. He told the British people the truth . He told them how it was and didn't try to wrap it up in fancy words. And what is more, he got their respect for telling them the truth.

Politicians should remember telling the unpalatable truth earns you respect. The voters are not stupid. Will the next person with the spirit of Sir Winston please make yourself known.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Special offers on wine

Tonight, I engaged in an activity that the government will soon make illegal. There were many of us engaging in this activity and no-one seemed guilty. 

Tonight, I bought 6 bottles of Jacob's Creek Shiraz Cabernet for £20 at ASDA. For those readers who will now worry about my health, I can assure you two bottles will be taken to a birthday party tomorrow evening and the other four will be consumed in the usual way; we share a bottle during dinner most evenings. May I also add that we do not wake up the next morning feeling like we are going to die. We do not vomit on the pavement or in our toilet or on the furniture or on the carpets. We do not engage in any anti-social activity at all. We find enjoying some wine on an evening a very civilising experience, yet the government obviously disagrees and finds it necessary to interfere in our life and tell us we can no longer buy our wine in this cheaper way.

The ban on special offers on alcoholic drinks will hit people like us the hardest. The government does not have a right to interfere in personal, private transactions. This is yet another example of government meddling in our lives. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Michael Martin - a dishonourable man

There was a time in politics when honour mattered. Honourable men and women would fall on their sword and accept responsibility for their departments. Events that happened under their watch was their responsibility and it was never an option to apportion blame to a member of your staff. This was not the done thing.

Today we witnessed the Speaker of the House of Commons doing exactly the opposite. When the police wish to search an MP's office, it is the Speaker who decides on the matter. It is the Speaker's responsibility. To blame Jill Pay, the Sergeant at Arms, is a wholly dishonourable and cowardly act, something that his predecessors would not have done.

I am not making a party political point here. The two most recent Speakers to come from the Labour benches, Betty Boothroyd and George Thomas, were brilliant, and commanded the loyalty and respect of the House. They came from ordinary, non-privileged backgrounds and loved parliament as only true parliamentarians can.

Time is ticking for Speaker Martin. Personally, I think he should have resigned today, but after the various communications he has had with the government, he decided to opt for the 'it's not me guv, it was 'er' approach to public life. In doing so, he has brought another great office in to disrepute. 


Monday, December 01, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Speaker Martin to hold a secret meeting tomorrow to discuss his statement to the House of Commons

Another day, another leak; this time Sky News is reporting that a meeting will take place tomorrow to discuss the Speaker's statement to the House of Commons. The guest list in very interesting.

Attending the meeting will be the Cabinet Secretary, the Justice Secretary, the Home Secretary, the government Chief Whip, two No 10 officials and the Sergeant-at-Arms. 

Of course, the government was not involved in the arrest of Damian Green. I can smell the stench from miles away.

5,000 Britons stranded in Thailand

Around 5,000 British citizens are stranded in Thailand and the Foreign Office has refused to charter planes to get them out. France, Spain and Russia have managed to get their people out, but not Britain. Read the story HERE.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Speaker Michael Martin Must Go - Join the Facebook Group

Those readers who are members of Facebook may want to join this group I set up this afternoon. There is a growing feeling amongst politicians of all parties that the Speaker should resign, or be forced out in a confidence motion.

The Mail on Sunday reports today of a group of MPs who are thinking of disrupting the Queen's Speech next week, demanding an apology from the Speaker and/or calling for his resignation.  

This story is going to run and run.

UPDATE: Sign this online petition and urge as many people as possible to join you.

Speaker Martin has to go

"May it please your Majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as the House is pleased to direct me, whose servant I am here."

These are the famous words of Speaker Lenthall to King Charles I. He wouldn't allow the King's men access to parliament to search offices and arrest MPs. This great tradition has continued down the years. The Speaker has remained the defender of MPs' rights and privileges and has ensured H.M. Loyal Opposition can hold H.M. Government to account without fear of intimidation. This ended last Thursday. Speaker Martin should resign forthwith and hang his head in shame. 

Norwich City Council threatens hairdressers who offer some festive cheer

It seems the festive spirit is not alive and well in Norwich. Norwich City Council have reminded hairdressers they face a £20,000 fine and six-months imprisonment if they offer festive drinks in their salons. No mulled wine for Mrs Jones this year then. And to prove they are serious, undercover inspectors will be trawling around the city looking for any offenders.

This reminds me of a holiday in Austria a few years ago. Whilst listening to the town band, pretty young ladies walked around the audience offering a tot of schnapps for a euro. I commented at the time this would never happen in England. There is to much paperwork involved to get a licence. Isn't this story yet another example of the petty bureaucracy running this country? Not to mention the waste of taxpayers' money trying to stop businesses saying thank you to customers and offering some festive cheer. 

David Davis on Damian Green

And our best defence? Ironically, justice can probably only now be properly served if Damian is formally charged under this obscure criminal law that dates back to the 1700s. 

He could then elect for that ancient British bulwark against despotism, the right to trial by jury, place his trust in 12 members of the British public and subpoena the whole damn lot of them – from Blair through to Brown.


These are the words of David Davis in the Mail on Sunday. To read his first class article in full, click HERE


Damian Green and Christopher Galley deserve our full support

During David Davis's by-election campaign, I remember hearing the words, 'if you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to fear' being used to rubbish his campaign. This argument played in to the hands of Labour, and still does. To take it to its logical conclusion, you can strip away every freedom we have, but it you haven't done anything wrong, the police won't come knocking on your door and even if they do, you will still have nothing to fear.

When the anti-terror legislation was going through parliament, we were assured it would not be used for anything other than the security of the UK. Now we read Christopher Galley, an assistant private secretary in the Home Office, was held at Paddington Green Police Station, which is the highest security police station in the country. Why? For allegedly leaking information to the Conservatives. Information that the government wanted to keep from the rest of us. Information that was in the public interest to reveal. Damian Green was arrested by nine anti-terror police officers, had his home and offices searched and his computers, mobile phone, blackberry and paperwork seized.

Perhaps those people who think you have nothing to fear from the constant erosion of our civil liberties will now think again. Anyone of us could be in the same position as these two men and it could be over something very trivial. David Cameron described this as Stalinesque last week. He is right. Damian Green and Christopher Galley were performing a public service by unveiling government cover-ups that affected the security of this country. Both of them deserve our full support.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Lord Mandelson's little list

Just like Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner from Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Mikado', Lord Mandelson is drawing up a little list. He is going to decide which businesses should be saved by government intervention and the rest, I suppose, never will be missed. 

Labour just doesn't get it. The reason Woolworths and MFI have gone in to administration is because we haven't been shopping there. This hasn't just happened in last couple of months. It has been going on much longer and those two companies have simply not been performing very well. Economic downturns root out inefficiencies in the economy and governments cannot keep on bailing companies out. Governments do not have any money of their own. They can only use our money or borrow as if there is no tomorrow. It is borrowing that has helped us get in to this mess. Racking up more debt on the UK PLC credit card is not going to help us get out of this recession; indeed it will prolong it as the government ultimately will have to take more of our money in the future, money that should be used by us to help businesses do business again. 

We all want this recession - or what I think will be a depression - over as quickly as possible. For that to happen the market will have to be left alone, painful though this will be for many of us. Constant government intervention will only prolong the agony; not shorten it. 

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Damian Green arrested by counter terrorism police

As I write, this story is far from over and the details are still sketchy. There are a few points I wish to raise though.

Why did the police choose to act now? They could have acted yesterday when the Commons was still sitting. Why was there - as the Daily Telegraph reports - nine counter terrorist officers involved in the arrest? Is this yet another abuse of counter terrorism powers? The information Damian Green has revealed was in the public interest. Why haven't any journalists been arrested for doing their job?

Downing Street has said Gordon Brown did not know of this arrest. Nonsense. The timing of this stinks of Downing Street. We are living in a socialist, police state, and if the latest polls are to be believed, the electorate are sleepwalking their way in to re-electing this despicable government. What has happened today is just the beginning. The ancient freedoms we are accustomed to in Britain are going faster than I ever thought they would.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Simon Heffer in the Telegraph

In the Daily Telegraph today, Simon Heffer, in his usual direct and erudite way, sums up what the Conservatives need to do to win the next general election. He is right and if we had him advising the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we would not be in the mess we are in at the moment. Here is what he has to say.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In which direction is Britain heading?

A few thoughts for the evening:

Yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announces a budget in his pre-budget report, but parliament will not have the chance to debate it.

Today, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, says the nationalisation of Britain's banks may be necessary.

An opinion poll in The Daily Telegraph suggests Labour has narrowed its gap on the Conservatives to four points. 

Are we heading towards a socialist dictatorship with the support of the electorate? If we are, all those of us who believe in freedom and free enterprise need to unite and fight. We need to show the voters there is an alternative. Worrying times. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

George Osborne on fire


I have been a long standing critic of George Osborne and this afternoon, on my previous post, I allowed my feelings to get in the way of my judgment. He gave a great reply to Darling's speech. He was on fire and you could see him shaking at times. This was a make or break speech and he passed with flying colours. He still needs to articulate the Conservative message and show the electorate what the alternative to Labour will be like, but for the foreseeable future, he saved his bacon. 


Alistair Darling in Wonderland

Tinker here and there; fiddle here and there; lower some taxes now and raise them in 2010 and make sure the tax increases announced today are permanent. 

This rather sums up today's Pre-Budget Report. Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic is another way to describe a speech that was peppered with the words global, worldwide and America. It's not our fault, folks, this is all America's fault. We are just the victim of the crime, but we are in a strong position to recover, which indeed we will in about 12 months. This was Darling in Wonderland! How does he expect us to believe his forecasts for the coming years, when he couldn't get his forecasts right for the last seven months?

George Osborne gave a much better reply than I thought he would, however, the Conservatives are going to have to be truthful with the electorate. There must be a substantial reduction in the public sector. A Samurai sword needs to be wielded throughout Whitehall and we can start with disposing with all the thousands of non-jobs and QUANGOs duplicating the work of other QUANGOs. We have to reduce the size of the client state. We have to reassess the role government plays in our lives. I suppose these questions are for another day, but if Brown opts for a snap election next spring, time is running out. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Brown's reduction of VAT to 15% will not work

If you are going to give tax breaks, there are easy ways and difficult ways to do it. Gordon Brown has shown today he is going to opt for the latter. If the proposed reduction in VAT does come into force before Christmas, do you think there will be a 2.5% cut in prices across the board? Of course there won't. If a retailer sells something for 85p and then adds on 17.5% VAT, the cost to the customer is £1 (as they cannot sell something for 99.875p, before anyone accuses me of not doing the math correctly). The reduction of VAT to 15%, will reduce the cost of the said item to 97.5p. In other words, it is not in the retailer's interest to go to the bother of changing all the prices in his shop. And even if you sell something for £50, it still isn't worth the hassle. 

Now we will turn to the other costs businesses will have to face. Iain Dale received an e-mail from a reader who mentioned anyone with leaflets printed, advertising special offers, may have mentioned the VAT rate of 17.5%. Of course, if this is reduced to 15%, all those leaflets will have to be pulped and new leaflets printed. All the software on computers will have to be changed and all the signs in shop windows mentioning the current VAT rate will have to be changed too. All for 2.5%! 

Gordon Brown once again shows once again his lack of business acumen. If you want to cut personal taxation, one of the easiest ways is to increase the personal allowance and increase state benefits accordingly. I wouldn't recommend it, as the country can't afford it, but it would be much simpler than what Brown is proposing now.

President- Elect Obama announces a two-year stimulus package

This will all end in tears. We are saddling our children with debt that will take over a decade, at least, to pay off. Not to mention how much longer the economy will stay in recession as a result of constant government interference. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

BNP Membership List

The publication of the membership list of the BNP was in contravention of the Data Protection Act, although I am not embarrassed to tell anyone I am a member of the Conservative Party. One wonders why BNP members are so shy? Is it because they know they may lose their jobs if their employers know of their membership? Or is it simply because they know they are member of a racist party and are not willing to 'come out' at the moment? I have already blogged about the police officer who has been suspended and readers know what my views are on this subject, but BNP members should be prepared for their friends, neighbours, and employers finding out. 

Tonight, after a google search, I found the list on the Internet after a couple of minutes. I have looked at it and I don't know anyone who is a member. I will not publish the URL, as I think it is inappropriate, however, anyone can read it very easily and it is legal as it is in the public domain. 

Hazel Blears has, at last, uttered some sense. She is correct in her analysis that the rise of the BNP is due to the ineffectiveness of the main parties to address the issues of race. She is, of course, a senior member of one of those parties, so she is as culpable as anyone, but  the only way to address the rise of the BNP, is to address the questions the people who have turned to them have. All parties have brushed this subject under the carpet. Now is the time to address it. We do not want another Jean Marie Le Penn in Britain.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Full Bank Nationalisation may still happen

The board of Barclays Banks has taken some stick of late. Shareholders are not happy with the terms of its recapitalisation deal. Perhaps those shareholders should hold fire for the moment. Life could be much worse. The government has refused to rule-out complete nationalisation of Lloyds/TSB, HBOS and RBS if they do not do what the government tells them to do. This comes after government assurances a few weeks ago that complete nationalisation would not happen. We were also told the government would not try and run those banks. It looks like Labour's 1983 manifesto wish may come true, albeit 25 years too late for Michael Foot et al.

Non-Job of the Week thanks to 'The Taxpayers' Alliance'

The government says it is actively looking at ways to reduce public sector waste. I was sceptical and after reading it has recruited 50,000 more public officials this year, no doubt performing essential work, duplicating others' essential work, my healthy scepticism was well founded.

The Taxpayers' Alliance - in their regular 'Non-Job of the Week' feature, have highlighted Cumbria County Council as a local authority who likes to spend public money without any regard to the taxpayers footing the bill. They are recruiting an 'Equality Officer.' No doubt absolutely essential, although if anyone can tell me why it is essential, please leave a message.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Police Officer suspended for being a member of the BNP

Readers of this blog know my views on the BNP, so I am not about to go on a tirade against them, however, all citizens are entitled to their opinions, know matter how odious I think those opinions are. 

I am watching SkyNews at the moment, and the breaking news is that PC Steve Bettley has been suspended for being a member of the BNP. This police officer knew he was banned from being a member, so in many ways he had it coming to him, but, should he be banned in the first place? My answer is no. If he treats members of our society who are non-white in a racist manner, then he should be disciplined and if necessary, fired from his job. It is not the job of government to act as the thought police.  Anyone genuinely interested in liberty should campaign on his behalf. As far as I am aware, his only crime is being a member of the BNP; otherwise he has done nothing wrong. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Deflation is on the way to add to our economic woes

Whilst at the supermarket a few days' ago, I bought a bottle of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce. The cost was £2.09. Around three months ago it was 30p cheaper. We all know the cost of eggs, butter, bread and milk has increased dramatically over the last year. According to a report I read today, the cost of food has risen by over 10%. Although inflation went down by 0.7% in the last month, it was largely due to the reduction in the price of oil, meaning cheaper petrol and diesel.

Today, I was waiting for my car to be repaired at the local Vauxhall Dealer's workshop. I know most of the sales staff, the service manager, the workshop foreman and the mechanics, so I can get an accurate picture of what is happening in the motor trade. Unsurprisingly, they are not selling cars and the feeling of despondency is very evident. The lack of available credit is certainly the main reason, along with a general feeling of not knowing what is around the corner, but there is another reason. Those who are in a position to purchase a new car are not because they know the price is likely to fall as the months go by. Why shell out £10000 now, when the cost of the car you are about to buy may be £9000 in three months' time?

Deflation is the biggest worry we have at the moment and some economists think we will be suffering from deflation next year. If we do, it will be for the first time since 1947. We all want prices to fall. We all want more money in our pockets to ease our financial burdens and I fear the majority of people don't have the foggiest how destructive deflation is. It means we all put off purchases we can make today, in the hope they will be cheaper tomorrow. This in turn forces retailers to reduce the cost of their goods, making us wonder whether they will reduce them further. It is a vicious cycle that ultimately leads to more unemployment as manufacturers and retailers cut their profit margins to the bone. Getting out of this cycle is extremely difficult and deflation was the main reason for the depression in the 1930s. 

Prices may remain high on certain essential items, however, on the non-essentials, prices may tumble. The evidence is certainly there in the motor trade and this is an industry about to be decimated. Also on the list are major high street retailers. In a year's time, some of the familiar names in the high street will have disappeared. What we are experiencing is not the start of a recession. It is going to be much worse than that. We are about to experience a depression that will be talked about in many years to come and there is nothing any government around the world can do about it. The more governments throw money at the problem, the longer the problem will be. Conservatives need to wake up and understand these facts and come up with policies that will ease the plight of citizens, but will not throw the country more in to debt. They have to cut waste in the public sector and explain to voters if they do not, the country's problems will last longer than is necessary. They have to be like Churchill and present the hard, cold facts and they need to expose Labour's lies. This is the only way the Conservative Party will be returned to power. If the Conservatives do this, don't be surprised if Gordon Brown calls an early election. Things are not going to get better, they are going to get worse, and he knows this. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

An angry Cameron must seize the initiative from Brown

David Cameron is getting angry. He held out the olive branch of a bi-partisan approach to the financial crisis and it has been used as a stick by Brown to beat him. Cameron was foolish and naive to think Brown would treat him in any other way. We have a very tribal and partisan prime minister, who has no intention of giving up his power. If he could somehow postpone the next general election on the grounds of national importance, I am sure he would.

There now has to be a complete rethink of the Conservative strategy. As a party, Conservatives have to put clear, blue water between themselves and Labour. Anyone who read my post from yesterday will see how angry I am with Brown. The only time I have seen him happy is when he is striding around the stage trying to solve problems he helped create; and of course there isn't a word of apology from his lips. Sorry is not in the prime minister's lexicon.

There will be more fireworks at PMQs tomorrow and the already bad relationship between Brown and Cameron is set to get worse. The next general election is going to be one of the most bitter anyone will ever remember. Brown wants to destroy the Conservative Party, and the Tories must reply with the same passion and zeal. The mess they will inherit is going to be much worse than Margaret Thatcher inherited in 1979. There is the possibility of the pound being worthless and there is no doubt the public finances are going to be in the worst shape than they have ever been. Do not rule out the possibility of Brown having to go cap in hand to the IMF in the next 18 months. This would not surprise me at all.

The Tories have to be honest with the voters. Public spending has to reduced in order to reduce our debts and help lower taxes. Cameron and Osborne know this. There are times when you have to be cruel to be kind

The true extent of Brown's recklessness will unravel itself as the months pass by. We will see how bad things are. The only crumb of comfort I can see is that when the Conservative Party is elected to government in 2010, they will also make sure that Labour is sent packing for a very long time; hopefully forever.


Joe Lieberman keeps Senate Chairmanship


The Senate Democratic Caucus has met today and allowed Sen. Joe Lieberman to keep his job as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Read the story here.

They obviously want to keep him on their side. He is too powerful a figure in the Senate to keep outside in the cold and it says much about the power he still has among Democrats, even though he openly attacked Barack Obama and campaigned tirelessly for his old friend, John McCain.

He is someone who is not soft on issues of security and I for one am pleased he is still chairman of a very important committee. 

Monday, November 17, 2008

Gordon Brown - the most deluded man in Britain

Perhaps I am lucky or perhaps it says something about my personality, but I do not hate anyone. I dislike some people and I dislike others intensely, however, when the chips are down, I would always offer a helping hand. Gordon Brown is the exception.

I am coming very close to hating the man. Recently he has found a smile on his face. Recently he has a spring in his step. The only reason I do not hate him is because you cannot hate someone who has a mental illness, and I believe he has a mental illness. He is deluded. He cannot say sorry and he is does believe he has anything to say sorry for. He really believes the problems the UK faces are global problems and nothing to do with his ten years as Chancellor of the Exchequer. He really believes borrowing more to fund what he calls tax cuts, will lead us to economic Utopia. He really believes he is the only man to steer the UK through the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. 

This man should be sectioned under the Mental Health Act. He is not fit to run this country. How much more damage he can inflict is anyone's guess, however, I fear the worst.   

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Democrats in California are compiling their wish lists

Democrats across California are rubbing their hands in glee - positively salivating some may say - at the thought of the Obama administration in nine weeks' time. 

Every elected Democrat seems to be compiling their wish list. They are - of course - not worrying about where the money is coming from. They are thinking about their re-election chances next time around and making sure they get something for their constituents. Read the story from the Los Angeles Times, here

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gordon Brown is a happy man after the G20 summit

The G20 have met and they have come up with their conclusions. Gordon Brown looks a happy man and why wouldn't he be? He has wrecked the UK economy and has put us in a much worse position than we would have been to weather the storm. Now he has a chance of imposing socialism around the world. He must think all his Christmases have come at once.

It could still be Secretary of State McCain

It looks like it may not be Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama seems to be keeping his options open and he is still meeting with John McCain on Monday. Perhaps my prediction was right. Wait and see. I can't think of a better man for the job.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Will Obama hire McCain?

Devotees of 'The West Wing' - and I am one - will know a relatively unknown congressman - Matthew Santos - was elected president, after President Bartlett served his two terms in office. He defeated Senator Arnold Vinick - a respected and much older senator from California. 

When it came to the job of Secretary of State, Santos realised there was only one man for the job, the man he had been fighting for months, and Vinick - after much thought - accepted the offer.

Coming back to the real world, President-Elect Obama has had a meeting with Senator Clinton. There is speculation he may offer her the job of Secretary of State. Whenever I see or hear the senator, a chill always runs down my spine and it is not a pleasant feeling. Diplomacy has never been her strong suit, so I can't see how she could be successful in that role. Senator John McCain is respected by both Republicans and Democrats and is an expert in foreign affairs. Am I mixing fact and fiction? Perhaps; although Obama is meeting McCain on Monday. In many ways McCain would be the perfect choice. He would get through the congressional hearings without any controversy, and he is far and away the best qualified candidate. Stranger things have happened.

UPDATE 22:48: Just a few minutes after I published this post, it was broadcast on Sky News that Clinton has been offered the job of Secretary of State. It looks like we are going to see and hear more of Hilary. God help us!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Republicans must return to the Reagan fold and broaden their appeal

The Grand Old Party is not looking so grand at the moment. It is still reeling from the events of November 4, although it could have been worse; the Democrats didn't get sixty seats in the Senate. The wind of change has swept over the United States and they call the wind Obama. 

It is very easy to get despondent and become a harbinger of doom and gloom; but not me. I know the GOP can become strong again. I know it can appeal to Americans who will realise Obama has promised them the earth, knowing he could never deliver on these promises.

What concerns me the most is not the current standing of the GOP with the voters, it is that some conservatives regard Sarah Palin as having the same messianic qualities as the president-elect; although as we shall all find out, he is not God in man made manifest. If Sarah Palin is the answer, what is the question? Can she win in 2012? Will she have broad appeal? Do most people take her seriously? The answer in bold, capital letters is: NO. If Republicans regard her as the saviour of their party, they will make the same mistakes that has cost them this election in 2008. The GOP has to reach beyond its base to the Reagan Democrats and Independents. Palin's 'God and Guns' credentials may be impeccable, but this is not going to garner votes amongst those two categories.

John McCain has said Palin is not to blame for his defeat and I agree. As I stated in a previous post, there were many reasons and Palin was just a part of the problem. Republicans must return to the Reagan fold. After the disastrous years of the Bush Administration, they must once again be seen as the party of individual freedom, small government and lower taxes. They must once again become the party of fiscal responsibility. But that is not enough. African Americans and Hispanics vote Democrat. It is hardly surprising they do. They are financially poorer and have more social problems. The Democratic Party - with its interventionist policies - help those two groups. Of course they only succeed in helping them remain in poverty, despite the fine rhetoric of Obama, but it is not enough to remind them of this fact and then not come up with any new ideas to help them help themselves. If the GOP uses this time in the wilderness to renew itself and not insist it is the voters who are misguided by rejecting them, they will return in a few years' time as the natural party of government. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Busy Week

It's been a very busy week so far and it doesn't look like it going to get any quieter. I'm working on a couple of posts on US politics and should have both of them published by Saturday. 

I hope to get back to normal blogging tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

President-Elect Obama asks President Bush to bail-out motor manufacturers

If anyone wants to know what the Obama administration is going to be like, the title of this post says it all. My initial reaction was, where is the money coming from? My next thought was despair. If there is one way of making a recession last longer than it needs to, it is by constantly intervening in the markets. Recessions root out inefficiencies and if General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are so inefficient they need a government bail-out, I would suggest they start reorganising their businesses pretty quickly, which they will do if they know they have to. If the government intervenes, they don't have the incentive to do what they need to do.

One wonders if the majority of the US car market is now going to be nationalised. Where will it all end? 

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