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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.


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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. 

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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.

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