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Friday, February 27, 2009

Sir Fred Goodwin - is he the most hated man in Britain?


Sir Fred Goodwin is hardly flavour of the month. As much as it is monumentally wrong to reward him with a pension of £693,000 (and how he in all conscience can accept it is another matter) it is not his fault. This completely incompetent government has agreed to his pension. The assurances Gordon Brown made that bankers will not be rewarded for failure, are once again hollow promises. As Chancellor of the Exchequer, Brown raided our pension pots, but now sees fit to reward a chum with an enormous pension. 

The British people are very angry. As we struggle along, wondering if we are about to lose our jobs over the coming months and years, taxpayers' money is continually being wasted in record numbers. Middle Britain is about to revolt. I suppose one achievement of Sir Fred is his ability to unite both those on the left and the right against him and the government. Those on the left find it abhorrent that anyone should be able to earn very large sums of money and those of us on the right unite with those on the left in finding it abhorrent that anyone can be rewarded so handsomely for effectively bankrupting the business he was running. 

At the next general election, Labour will be wiped out in vast swathes of the country and they will not be a position to recover - if ever - for at least fifteen years. Their moral vacuousness and utter mismanagement of the economy will stick in the minds of voters for a very long time. Brown will be remembered as the prime minister who brought his party and his country crashing down around him.   

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ivan Cameron

I am sure all our heartfelt sympathies go out to Samantha and David Cameron. I can only guess the sorrow they are feeling at this time and only those who have gone through this experience will know how they are truly feeling; which was what made the Prime Minister's words in the House of Commons today all the more moving and poignant. 

I am sure Samantha and David will find strength from each other, their children, close family and friends and from all the love and prayers from well-wishers in this country and around the world.  

Monday, February 23, 2009

My twitter updates today

Fair trade hypocrisy. There's nothing fair about it. http://tinyurl.com/d5hwxp
    Government hypocrisy? http://tinyurl.com/d9y5n9
    Conservatives 12% ahead in latest poll. Here's the link to the poll.http://tinyurl.com/codlqs

    If you want to follow me on twitter, click here.

    Sunday, February 22, 2009

    Government condemn 100% mortgages as 'foolish'

    Once again the government misses the point. Once again government ministers come out with soundbites to make themselves sound tough, although trying to be wise after the event may be a more accurate description. 

    Banking Minister, Lord Myners, has stated banks were foolish offering 100% mortgages. No. They were foolish to offer mortgages to those who couldn't afford the repayments. If, for example, a couple  has a combined income of around £50,000 and wants to purchase a property for £150,000, a 100% mortgage can be justified. As long as their income and expenditure levels are correct and they can afford the repayments comfortably, there is nothing wrong with a 100% mortgage.

    When you lend money, there must be a reasonable chance of getting it back. If there is not, you don't lend. If there is, you go ahead. It really is that simple. I want as many people as possible to get on the housing ladder, but only if they can afford to. 

    BNP victory in Kent

    I regard this as a side-show. While so many lose their heads and get everything out of perspective, I want to remind readers it is just one council seat in Kent. Although the rise of the far-left BNP is not something we desire, and it is possible (thanks to PR) that the BNP may have an MEP elected in June, history tells us at times of economic turmoil, extremist parties gain popularity.

    When I stood for election in the Drypool ward of Hull City Council a few weeks ago, I was pushed to last place by the National Front. This ward does not have a problem with immigration. Residents are not losing their jobs in high numbers to immigrants. The fears they have are perceived fears. Extremist parties are very good at whipping up discontent and mop-up the disaffected votes of the main parties. 

    What the BNP will not do is gain a seat at Westminster. If the BNP are ever in a position to take over a council, I and many other activists from the main parties, will travel the length of the country to fight them. Where the BNP are strong, the main parties are fighting hard against them. Monitor this situation; yes, but keep events into perspective.

    Follow me on Twitter


    When the twitter craze began to take hold, I did what I usually do; join and then do very little. At the time I couldn't see the point of it. Surely people are not interested in my daily tasks and news.

    Recently I have changed my mind. Every time I switch on my computer, I check my e-mails first and then log-on to twitter. I find it an extremely useful way of finding information quickly and easily. I have noticed bloggers posting links to their latest posts, which I have started doing and the MSM have also started posting links to their stories. If there is any breaking news stories going on at the moment, you can guarantee someone will be posting a link on twitter. I have also found it an easy way to post links about stories I think are interesting and my twitter updates automatically go on the top of this blog and straight on to my Facebook page. 

    When it comes to political campaigning, the possibilities are exciting. Not only does it allow candidates the chance to update supporters, but it also allows campaigners to update each other privately. I am sure twitter will come up with a system whereby you will be able to message groups, in a similar way you can create groups on Facebook.

    I regularly update my twitter page via my mobile phone and many users access it through their Blackberry or iPhone. If you are not a twitterer, you can create an account for free by clicking here. If you want to follow me, click here.

    Teach ministers to twitter for £160K

    The government intends to spend up to £160K on an Internet supremo to get ministers up to speed on new media such a Facebook and Twitter. No doubt the prime minister thinks they should start blogging too. 

    I follow Downing Street on Twitter, and they follow me, therefore, please send me details of the job and I bet I could do it for, say... £50K. In a stroke, I will save the taxpayer £110K. Nice chap, aren't I?

    Friday, February 20, 2009

    Now the EU dictates the size of car parking spaces

    Iain Dale is reporting how the EU has managed to interfere in the size of car parking spaces. I would normally have a rant about this, but Iain has already done this for me. Bloody Brussels!

    Eat Healthily - the government lays down the law to civil servants




    I have a little weakness for Cornish Pasties. I indulged in this weakness at lunchtime today. I also love a full English breakfast. It's a meal that sets you up for the day, although I remember from my time staying in a Guest House in Beverley before I moved to East Yorkshire, a full English breakfast four days a week added to my waistline. I started off eating everything given to me and then gradually cut down on the quantity. Nevertheless, if you are engaged in hard physical work, there is nothing better for you to start the day. 

    Unfortunately, if you are a civil servant, the government intends to make sure Cornish Pasties and Bacon 'n' Eggs are a thing of the past - at least in their canteens. Civil Servants - according to the government - need to set a good example when it comes to eating healthily. No more Coca-Cola; instead it should be water. No more fish and chips; instead opt for a salad. As the old saying goes; you won't live any longer, it will just seem as if you have. 

    There is, of course, a serious side to this story. We all need to take care of our health, but once again Labour has to take this to extremes and force a culinary choice on adults who are capable of making their own decisions. If I were a civil servant, I would nip down to the chippy instead!


    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Sir Allen Stanford and the ECB

    Cricket needs money and investment, so it is hardly surprising the ECB got involved with Sir Allen Stanford. I always thought a certain tackiness accompanied his money and like any businessman, he was looking at opening markets around the world on the back of his sponsorship of cricket. This is not to say he doesn't love the game; he does. 

    Contrast him with the other great American born benefactor of cricket, the late Sir John Paul Getty. He was a committed Anglophile and he loved cricket. The approach of these two billionaires couldn't be starker. One was flash, arriving at Lords' Cricket Ground in a gold-plated helicopter. The other helped when he could, with the minimum of fuss.

    There are those who blame the ECB for getting involved with Stanford. I didn't hear their voices when deals were signed. They say alarm bells should have rung. Well, if alarm bells rang in their ears they didn't tell us all about it. All I will say, is in the future , the ECB will have to be more circumspect who is takes on as a partner. No more flashy, gold-plated helicopters, please. 


    Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    IRS rebate?

    Considering I am a British citizen who has never lived in the United States and therefore has never paid US income tax, it was interesting to receive this e-mail.  Unfortunately, some people will be conned.





    After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $481.43. 
    Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 6-12 working days in order to process it.

    ATTENTION: Submitting Insufficient or incorrect information may lengthen the whole process. Usually does not take more than one week from the date you have provided us with your details. In some cases this may take considerably longer.

    You have 12 hours to complete your tax refund claim but you are advised to do so immediately. 
    To access the secure form for your tax refund please click here


    Note: Deliberate wrong inputs will be prosecuted by the law


    Regards,
    Internal Revenue Service


     If you are an American reader, please tell your friends about this scam.

    The Tories need to be radical

    When we eventually pull out of this economic catastrophe, Britain requires a radical change in the way it is governed. Nothing less will do. Voters are disaffected, believing whoever you vote for, nothing will change. Too many will tell you all politicians are the same. Some will tell you this has been the same throughout their long lives.

    I happened to mention to someone recently who came up with this argument, 'What about Margaret Thatcher? Surely she was different to five more years of Labour under Callaghan?' 'Yes', came the reply, 'but apart from her, all politicians are the same.' If the Conservative Party is to move forward and get itself elected for the right reasons - as opposed to being the party that is not Labour - it needs to look back at the Thatcher years.

    Whether you liked her or loathed her, you always new where you stood with her. Tony Benn describes politicians as sign posts or weather cocks. Lady Thatcher is a sign post towering over the British political landscape in a way few others have ever done.

    Her embrace of monetarism, her battles with trades' unions, allowing families to purchase the council homes where they lived and had paid rent for years, her meritocratic approach to politics and her abhorrence of the socialism that had brought this country on its knees, are just some examples of what defined her premiership. She was - and is - a radical. Britain desperately needed a radical Conservative government in 1979, and thirty years later, Britain needs more of the same after years of financial mismanagement from a Labour Party that has increased the size of the client state, nearly bankrupted us and has trampled on our freedoms and liberties as if they were grapes under the jackboots of ministers.

    If the Conservatives are elected to power next year - which most believe will happen - their first priority will be to steady the ship. The Chancellor of the Exchequer's prediction of Britain pulling out of recession later this year, was Alice in Wonderland politics. Hardly anyone believed him last November and no-one believes him now. Based on his figures, government borrowing is going to soar to record levels. With the prospect of the recession lasting considerably longer, do not rule out the government having to go 'cap in hand' to the IMF this time next year. I cannot see where else Darling and Brown will get the money from. Already the pound is rapidly becoming monopoly money; such is the faith the markets have in the British economy. Unless investors can be found who don't mind the government hanging on to their money for years with little or no return, the IMF may be the only solution. The problem for the Tories is that there is nothing in the short term they can do to ease the pain. We can argue 'til the cows come home about Labour's profligacy, but this will not change a thing. We are, where we are, and this is the mess a new government will inherit.

    One of the first priorities of the new government will be to reduce the size of the client state. There are too many people in public sector jobs who should not be there. There are too many people claiming state benefits who should be equipping themselves with new skills and actively looking for work. Even through a recession there are still jobs available for those with the right skills. Not as many, but they are still there.
    Another, and much more difficult task, is to get the money supply back under control. We have seen throughout the boom years that too much money circulating through the economy leads us to a massive bust. Too little, and we see the devastating consequences of a credit crunch. Gordon Brown should be apologising profusely for this part of his mismanagement of the economy, and so should former President George W Bush. Monetarism is what the Thatcher and Reagan governments were built on and although you will always have economic downturns - despite what Gordon Brown repeatedly told us year after year - the effects can be minimised to rooting out inefficiencies in the economy, rather than taking out a huge number of efficient businesses in the process.
    The next Conservative government needs to then turn its attention to the way the country is governed in a top-down, hopelessly inefficient and undemocratic manner. We have an education system so micro-managed, children, parents and teachers cannot breathe. The national curriculum must be scrapped. Government should set the aims, not the process. Local government should be truly local. It should be locally funded from locally raised taxes. If people want elected mayors and/or police chiefs, they should be allowed to have them. This will show clearly which local authorities are well run. The buck stops here should be the new mantra. The NHS is a huge bureaucratic monolith of waste and inefficiency. If you need proof governments are incapable of running just about anything, the NHS is a shining example. And the list of reforms goes on and on.
    The Conservative Party has to show itself capable of rising to the challenges facing Britain and tackling them head on with bold, radical and imaginative policies. If it does, it will be in power for at least the next decade. If it does not, the alternative does not bear thinking about.


    UPDATE: I received this e-mail today from David Cameron. We're going in the right direction.

    Can't see this e-mail? Click here to view it in your browser

     


    What do you think about when you think about local politics?

    Do you think voting makes any difference? Too often, the answer to this question is no.

    We shouldn't be surprised. Over the last century, Britain has become one of the most centralised countries in the developed world.

    And over the last decade, the Labour Government has given itself all sorts of extra powers which used to be under local democratic control.

    That's why Caroline Spelman and I launched a new Green Paper yesterday setting out how we will reverse this control shift - you can see highlights of the launch in this new video.

    Under our plans we will not only transfer power from central government and its quangos to local councils, we will also abolish that unaccountable regional tier of government.

    And we will give local people themselves more power to make change happen through reforms like giving them the right to have a referendum on any issue they care about.

    As Alistair Cooke explained on the Blue Blog yesterday, our party has a long history of decentralising power. It's what we're about. We're not control freaks - we're enablers.

    We've always believed in people having more control over their lives - whether through owning their own homes, or having shares in the businesses they work for.

    And it will be down to us, once more, to enable people to take that control back.

    Tuesday, February 17, 2009

    A pint of courage for £2

    Fancy buying a cheap book? To some it may be the ideal present. Either way, Curly has spotted a bargain. £2, and it's yours. 

    Saturday, February 14, 2009

    Great Britain R.I.P. It was great knowing you.

    It seems as if nothing is sacred in Britain. Whatever our thoughts are on religion, surely we believe those of faith have a right to practice their religion without our fear of retribution. Whether we think the Church of England should be disestablished or not, we have to agree that the church has shaped and developed our national identity and was the first to give us schools and hospitals. 

    If a child can no longer talk about heaven and hell and her mother cannot ask her friends to pray for the school without the risk of losing her job, sacred rights and freedoms have been lost. No doubt Polly Toynbee - the rich lecturer of the rich - who thinks she knows better than everyone else will be jumping with joy. The rest of us will mourn. Being tolerant of other peoples views and being outspoken and radical with your own views, seems to be no longer tolerant in today's Britain. 

    Great Britain R.I.P. It was great knowing you.

    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    Travel ban on Geert Wilders

    The libertarian in me says Geert Wilders should not have been blocked from entering the UK today. This is another example of Labour acting as the thought police.  He is entitled to his opinions on Islam and should be allowed to express them. I do, however, find it difficult to sympathise with a man who complains the British government are taking away his freedoms when he wants the Koran banned in The Netherlands. He says he is a democrat, but where are his democratic credentials here?

    The travel ban is wrong, but Mr Wilders needs to think again. 

    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Bankers running banks - now there's a novel idea

    Listening to PM on Radio 4 earlier, it was interesting to hear that none of the former Chairmen and Chief Executives of RBS and HBOS had any banking qualifications. Rather sums it up.

    Sunday, February 08, 2009

    Is Jacqui Smith on the take?

    No doubt Jacqui Smith will get over her little local difficulty. No doubt she will say she lives with her sister in London most of the week and then goes back to her 'second home' on a weekend. A second home where her husband and children wait for her to return to. Wriggling out of this mess is one thing, being morally correct is another.

    I have worked away from home. Every Monday morning I would rise at 5.00am and travel to East Yorkshire. I stayed in a bed and breakfast for four nights a week for the first year and after that I stayed with a friend. On a Friday evening I would then return to Co Durham. I am not alone. There are many people around the country who do this and can't claim £25k a year for the privilege. Far from it, those of us who are self-employed have to pay for accommodation out of our own pockets. Those who are employed, have their expenses paid for by their employers, but they cannot check-in to The Ritz. Private businesses are concerned with their balance sheet. Receipts must be provided. Only legitimate expenses are allowed.

    The Home Secretary has been taking the taxpayer for a ride. She is pocketing taxpayers' money to fund her family life and refuses a 'grace and favour' residence in London to make sure she can continue in the same vein. Will she do the honourable thing and resign? I leave you to make this judgement. 

    25 Random things about me you may not know.

    I have been tagged twice in recent weeks to tell you all 25 random things about me. Well, here goes, and they are certainly random.

    1. Until 2 years ago, I had been a church organist for 18 years.
    2. My favourite food is Indian
    3. My favourite city is Paris - I could be a tour guide there.
    4. Becky and I got engaged  in Paris.
    5. I have been a driving instructor for the last 10 years. Prior to that I was a civil servant.
    6. I am always in tears at the end of 'West Side Story'.
    7. My favourite colour is blue. (Tory blue, of course)
    8. I shook Tony Blair's hand the day he became prime minister.
    9. I enjoy good wine, especially from the New World.
    10. I am a stickler for correct grammar and punctuation.
    11. I am right handed.
    12. I love the music of Mozart and J.S. Bach.
    13. I am something of an expert on the Great American Songbook.
    14. I can't dance to save my life.
    15. I am hopeless at D.I.Y.
    16. I once considered becoming a vicar.
    17. I have an eye for photography.
    18. I bite my nails.
    19. I drink tea and coffee without milk and sugar. (In other words; black)
    20. I love history, especially political history.
    21. My favourite author is John Grisham.
    22. I have blue eyes.
    23. I can't stand lumpy mashed potato. The texture of it makes me feel sick.
    24. I hate the dark days of winter.
    25. I once took the leading role of Curly in the musical Oklahoma!

    Saturday, February 07, 2009

    RBS is a national disgrace

    If you want socialism through the back door, then act in the way RBS is acting at the moment. When a business is effectively bankrupt, gets £20 billion of taxpayers money and then sees fit to pay £1 billion in bonuses to its staff - for failure - then more people will turn to the failed ideology of socialism because they feel the free market has failed them. And who can blame them? In a socialist state you are not rewarded for success or failure. You get a wage and you are grateful. Surely this is a better system? It has to be better than the free market approach where bankers divide £1 billion worth of spoils, courtesy of the poor old taxpayer?

    RBS is a disgrace and any other bank that has suffered huge losses and is thinking of acting in the same way, is a disgrace too. Bonuses should be paid for success, not failure. If employees regard bonuses as a right, regardless of how they have performed, then the businesses in question are doomed to failure. 

    All of this is playing into the hands of Labour. They want banks to behave in this way. It garners support for their plans to nationalise not only more banks, but more private businesses. They will argue it is only the public sector that can guarantee the long term future. They will increase the client state even more. Bankers will not only bankrupt their banks, but put the final nail in the coffin of UK PLC. 

    Expecting bankers to have more humility and less greed is like expecting the Pope to convert to Islam next week. It is not going to happen. Of course, I wouldn't have given them a penny of taxpayers' money and told them to sort themselves out. RBS is not a viable bank anymore. It is completely incapable of continuing in business without huge sums of our money. This is price you pay when governments meddle. 

    LIb Dems up 6% (amazingly)


    Unless Nick Clegg has managed to hypnotise an extra 6% of voters, the latest ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph must be a rogue, although with such a long time to wait before the next general election (with all the events that may or may not unfold), any poll now is pretty much useless. 






    Friday, February 06, 2009

    Guess who's following me on Twitter

    I've arrived home this evening and found the boiler not working. Thankfully I am covered with British Gas, so they will be out tomorrow morning. One thing has brightened my evening though. I received an e-mail telling me Derek Draper is now following me on twitter. What else could a man want?

    Blair beats Brown to it (again)

    I have a feeling one of Tony Blair's favourite songs is 'Me and my Shadow.' I imagine it is not a favourite of Gordon Brown. Once again Blair beats Brown to it. Just as our prime minister is champing at the bit to meet the new President of the United States, in rides Tony Blair and meets up with him first.

    I can hear the sound of mobile phones smashing.

    Tuesday, February 03, 2009

    John Prescott, Tony Blair and the Singing Fish

    There is a meme doing the rounds on Facebook: 25 random things about yourself. John Prescott received this and has blogged about it.
    You learn something new every day and today is no exception. JP once bought Tony Blair a singing fish to cheer him up. It sang, 'Don't worry, be happy.' What he neglected to say was what the former PM thought about it. Perhaps it was wise for him not to divulge the information.

    Student protests against Israel - some thoughts

    If one disagrees with the Israeli attacks on Gaza, one has a right to protest. What one does not have a right to do is break the law. Those students who took over buildings at various universities across the country broke the law and they should be held to account. 

    At the moment I am engaged in a not too friendly debate with those who were involved in or supported the occupation of Botany House at Leeds University. The protesters did manage to get some concessions from the university authorities which unfortunately proves if you break the law good things can come your way.

    As I have skin as thick as a rhinoceros, the abusive comments made here do not bother me in the least. Indeed it rather shows up the nastiness of those on the left who feel the only option for them when encountering someone who disagrees with them, it to hurl abuse. They really should grow up. 

    I still maintain those students who broke the law and occupied Botany House, should be expelled from Leeds Uni. I know they won't, but unless universities take firm action with people like these, this type of criminal behaviour will continue. 

    Monday, February 02, 2009

    It snows and Britain is at a standstill (again)

    What is wrong with this country? Around 6 inches of snow falls to the ground and the country comes to a standstill. Okay, I'm not working today, but as a driving instructor you can probably understand why I don't want to take nervous learner drivers on the road in very busy, icy conditions. 

    It is not as if this was not predicted. Surely the gritters and snowploughs could have kept the main routes open in London? Surely some of the buses could have run? We have become a nation of wimps. I have been in the US when the conditions have been much worse than this and we managed to get around with relative ease. Winters in the UK years ago were worse than this and the country didn't grind to a halt.

    We are not very good boy scouts, are we? Definitely not prepared!

    Sunday, February 01, 2009

    Alan Johnson


    After listening to the interview Alan Johnson gave to Andrew Marr this morning, I still can't believe the rank and file of the Labour Party thought Harriet Harman would make a better Deputy Leader than him. In fact as a Conservative I am relieved he is not Prime Minister, as I am certain he would be doing a far better job than Gordon Brown. It seems when any party's  political fortunes are on the wane, the membership manage to shoot themselves in the foot. The membership of the Labour Party certainly did that by not electing Alan Johnson as Deputy Leader. Phew!

    Roasting Pork


    As I write, a loin of pork in starting to roast in the oven. I'm not telling you this to make your mouth water, although by the time the potatoes and carrots are roasted and the broccoli and cabbage is steamed, I'm pretty sure my mouth with be watering.

    Waiting for the oven to get up to temperature, I started to think. According to the guides I have read over the years, you cook pork for 30-35 minutes for every pound, plus another 30 minutes. Very straightforward; yes, but of course the meat is sold in kilogrammes. So after a quick (rough) conversion (luckily I am able to do this) I worked out the meat should be ready in around 3-3 1/2 hours. An older person, though, could easily get confused. 

    This lead me to thinking about how we got into the position of selling meat in kilos. Can you remember any political party pledging to abolish pounds and ounces? No, neither can I. It was, of course, the EU who decided this for us, as it decides so many other things we never get a chance to debate. The next Conservative government must renegotiate our membership of the EU. New laws should be fully debated in parliament and it is for our elected representatives to decide; not an unelected super-quango in Brussels. If our elected representatives pass laws which we disapprove of, we can then show our feelings at the ballot box. 

    Back to the kitchen...

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