Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Guess which is the top No: 10 petition?

Yes, the No:10 leader board of most popular petitions is now led by this one - a one-word petition asking that Gordon simply:


Yes, I know the whole online petition system is pointless and silly. Yes, I know that it has no effect. Yes, I know it means giving your name and address to someone who (a) you have just insulted, (b) ultimately controls Special Branch, MI5 and MI6, and (c) has "anger management issues". Yes, we all know he'll ignore it.

But come on .... every extra name is an embarrassment to him. He embarrasses us enough. Why not. Just sign it. Go on. I have.

And if you're wavering, think of this. The only election he has faced to get to where he is now was his constituency election, in which 24,278 people voted for him. So far, 28,822 have voted for him to resign. Ooops, Gordon....

People Are Going to Die at 50mph

I have been mulling this one one for a while. This is quite a bold claim, I realise, but if we press ahead with the reduction in the National Speed Limit (NSL) to 50mph then people are going to die as a result.

In case anyone needs clarification, the NSL is a default speed limit. Unless some other rule applies, then the limit is the NSL - currently 60mph. A different limit of 50, 40, 30 or 20 can be signposted, or a 30 limit can be assumed from the presence of lamp-posts, or a 70 limit can be assumed when on a motorway. In all other locations, the NSL applies.

So the discussion is clearly limited to non-urban roads; urban streets will default to 30 unless signed otherwise. Non-urban roads will typically be very variable, but generally break down into three types. The most common type is fairly straight, not so straight that you see to safely overtake, but not so bendy so as to cause concern. These sections are typically interspersed with shorter sections that either require a much slower speed to negotiate, or which offer an excellent view and allow an overtake if the vehicle in front is not making progress.

First, let's deal with the slow bits - the danger points. At the moment, these are marked. Some will have 30 or 40 limits posted, some will have other signposts. Many, however, have signs indicating a 50 limit. All of these signs will, over time, be removed. This means, in effect, that less warning will be given to drivers of the forthcoming hazard. Drivers will receive information from officialdom that the forthcoming stretch is no more dangerous than the one they have been negotiating for the last few minutes; this information will be false. There will be accidents as a result.

If you have a hazard ahead, it is not difficult to realise that reducing the palette of information for drivers is not going to help.

Then there is the question of the quick bits - the overtaking sections. Human nature is such that drivers who have been negotiating these same roads for years (decades, even) at 60 will not be pleased to be stuck behind someone firmly sticking to an indicated 50mph - often equal to an actual 45mph*. So they will be keener to overtake. When an overtaking section arrives, there will be more pressure to go for it. I have also observed that there is a class of driver who always drives at "limit minus x". Their speed on NSL roads seems to drop from 45-50 to 35-40 when the limit drops from 60-40. This is frankly ridiculous; a road section that is objectively safe at 60 then has a queue sitting at 35 - this is often the source of a perfectly reasonable desire to overtake. I have, in fact, noticed more overtaking manoeuvres now that many formerly NSL roads have a 50 limit. There will also be some drivers that will accept more marginal overtaking locations; create a slow-moving roadblock and you create a queue of people who want to get past. Not all of them will have time to do so at the safe spots.

Overtaking can be safe, and can be wise. It can also be very dangerous. It is not difficult to realise that placing more pressure on some drivers to get past is not going to help.

I'm not making this up, either. A long open road near to me used to be NSL, but about three years ago - upset at the rate of deaths on the road - they put up a big yellow sign telling us to be careful because 60 people died or were serously injured over the 5 mile stretch over the previous 3 years. They also dropped the limit to 50. The sign has just been updated again. 93 died or were seriously injured** over the last 3 years. That is, roughly speaking, an additional death (or serious injury) every month or so.

I'll just repeat that, because it frightened me. An additional death (or serious injury) every month or so. Somehow, I don't think it was the big yellow sign that caused this.

*Speedometers are allowed to be up to 10% optimistic, but must not under-read. Engineering-led manufacturers therefore set them to over-read by 5%. Marketing-led manufacturers set them to over-read by 10%.

**The original version of this post simply said "died"; Steve Jones commented that this would be very surprising and, on that point, I have to agree with him. I'll go back and check; the sign may well have said deaths or serious injuries, rather than just deaths. In my defence, I was driving past (!) and therefore my attention was (and needed to be) elsewhere. Nevertheless, I should have spotted that. Until I can check it, I think it would be best if the post referred to the more likely of the two possibilities.

No principles and No courage

Well said, Clegg.

If ever there were an identifiable group of foreigners whose immigration should be allowed, it is the Gurkhas. I don't need to explain why; it should be blindingly obvious. The fact that it is not obvious to our Lords and Masters is shameful; literally, shameful.

Clegg has done well to run with this issue, and his jibe at PMQs also succeeded in highlighting what is, at heart, wrong with Brown. The man will run from anything that he cannot guarantee; see the 2007 election-that-never-was and his determination to become PM without ever having to face the uncertainty that comes with democracy. He has no principles; anyone unsure of this should ask how much of the budget was for the benefit of this country and how much was to draw a dividing line with the Tories.

I wasn't worrying about swine-flu...

...until I read this:

"Britain is among the best-prepared countries in the world" to fight the spread of the disease...(Gordon Brown)

Now, where have I heard that form of words before?

(Hat tip; the really quite saintly Albert)

Monday, 27 April 2009


I hear the Old Holborn has suggested that we all send Brown the shirts off our backs, as the man clearly intends to take everything else anyway.

I have to say, that is an excellent idea. And much better put by OH, as compared to when I originally suggested it in passing last November...

Best wishes to OH; hope it takes off. I just love the idea of a mountains of old shirts accumulating in Brown's in tray.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

I am a Criminal

... and I should be punished.

What have I done? I have breached one of New Labour's laws. I have done so blatantly, knowingly, and intentionally. In doing so, I have secured a small but definite private profit for myself and caused loss to at least two other people.

I have ... wait for it ... swapped over a light switch in the kitchen. You see, the main light switch started playing up a while back and has become steadily more unreliable since. However, there is an identical switch elsewhere, which is little used. So I hatched my evil plot; to remove the non-functional switch and install it in the unused location, and fit the thus-freed switch for fitting in the important location. 20 minutes later, they are swapped.

However, I failed to give notice of this change in my electrical system to the local council. I failed to ensure that a suitably qualified electrical installer was engaged in order to carry out the task. Instead, I noticed that we had a snag and just got on with it. Myself.

I have, of course, deprived a local electrician of a job. I have also deprived a local council employee of a brief moment of purpose with which to justify his existence. I have saved myself the cost of the application and the electrician; I have thus profited from my crime at their expense.

I wait, nervously, for the 6am raid....

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Says it all, really

Iain Martin at the Telegraph is reporting that Brown says the whole MPs expenses scandal is Cameron's fault. The reasoning (if you can call it that) behind this conclusion is that Cameron repeatedly raised the issue at Prime Minister's Questions.

As Martin faultessly puts it:
I love the logic. Cameron is so obviously at fault for daring to raise an issue of great public concern about the conduct of MPs and reputation of the House of Commons in, er, the House of Commons. And of course, this current phase of the expenses crisis has nothing at all to do with Jacqui Smith, porn films, barbecues and second homes.
Surely this gives us an insight into the Brown way of thinking. The ultimate Statist, he regards it as a problem not when the State does wrong, but when it is discovered that the State has done wrong. Which would explain most of his (in)action over Smeargate; with McBride gone, there is no further knowledge of what is going on. Hence the problem is solved.

There really is only one way out of this.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Envy is a sin, you know

So, it seems that 68% of the UK thinks the 50p tax rate is a good idea. Actually, I'm quite cheered by that. Given that only 1% of the country will actually pay the tax, this means that 31% of the country is bright enough to realise that just because "other people" will be paying a tax doesn't make it a good thing. This post is therefore directed at the 68%. For the rest, it will some across as simplistic and obvious, which is why I haven't posted it until now.

It is an oft-repeated fact that those of us in the £150k-plus bracket form 1% of the population, yet we contribute 23% of all taxes. What is not so often mentioned is that it was not always so. Before Lawson dropped the top rate of tax from 50% to 40%, the figure for the contribution from the top 1% of earners was 14% of overall taxes. It was after he reduced the rate to 40% that the contribution went up to 23%. So it is not just dry economic theory that says changes in the top rate of tax are counter-intuitive; it is hard direct evidence from this country's own history.

It is not just income tax that shows this effect, either. Lawson also reduced the rate of Stamp Duty, in several stages. When asked at a meeting of Conservative backbenchers to eliminate the Duty entirely, he replied that each time he had reduced Stamp Duty, the tax take had in fact risen as a result of increased dutiable activity. However, he suspected that if he eliminated it entirely then the tax take would probably fall.

This is, of course, not the slightest bit surprising - if you think about it. We quite happily accept that taxes influence people's behaviour in other ways. We increase road tax on fuel-hungry cars and expect people to buy more efficient models in response. Taxes on alcohol and tobacco are levied because we are told that their use causes harm and should be discouraged. We are all braced for a whole panoply of green taxes that are designed, purely and simply, to mould our behaviour in ways that (we are told) will save the planet and hold back the rising tides.

Yet in respect of income tax, we direct a new tax at precisely the people who have control over how much they earn, how they earn it and (crucially) where they earn it, and we expect that the new tax will have no effect on their behaviour. This is not just foolish, it is wilfully foolish.

HT - Stuart Sharpe's post yesterday, which attracted a comment that I felt I had to reply to.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Old Labour vs New

Go and have another look at the Liberal Conspiracy Alice Mahon discussion. Brew a nice cup of tea or coffee. Settle down. Enjoy.

There really is nothing like an argument between lefties. Rats in a sack are rank amateurs by comparison...

New Labour is alive and well, even without McBride

Go and have a peek at Liberal Conspiracy's response to Alice Mahon.

The commenter vulpus_rex (comment no. 22) hits the nail on the head perfectly. Alice Mahon disagrees with New Labour over an issue of principle; the response is to attack her rather than the reason with the argument she presents. Others see this for what is is and ask LC to withdraw the article, i.e to conceal the rot. Come back Damien, all is forgiven.

I'll repeat here my comment on the LC article;

For those that hold socialist views and have principles, the Labour Party is no longer a suitable home for you. It abandoned its principles in order to gain power; once it did that, there was nothing left to hold on to and its purpose became, purely and simply, to retain power. To the extent that it espoused socialist ideas, it did so merely in order to secure the votes of the faithful and hence to maintain power.

The recent discoveries of the truly abhorrent methods operating within No.10 are merely the natural result of an unprincipled desire for power. For those of us who have been looking, these methods have been apparent for many years.

It is up to you whether to defect en masse to the Lib Dems, who seem to be positioning themselves for this, or set up a new socialist party. But if your actions are guided by principles as to what is right and what is wrong, you should be following Alice Mahon's example.

Otherwise, you condone what has been happening.

People are entitled to hold socialist views, even if I disagree with them. But they should still retain the basic principles of civil society. Alice Mahon is right to leave New Labour; though I disagree with her politics, I admire her principles. Other New Labour supporters should consider their position carefully.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Responsibility, and its avoidance

From the Daily Mash, again. I really must find some other sources of excellent satire. All suggestions welcome. Or, if you would like to start writing some, then please do feel free.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

A Special Kind of Self-Confidence

For those in the Catholic Church, there is the comforting knowledge that there is an earthly source of infallible knowledge. For really serious questions, the Pope is there to answer them. And when he does, his answer is, in a sense, gospel.

So you'd have to have a really inflated sense of self-worth to be a Catholic who disagreed with His Holiness on a liturgical issue. Only someone really, utterly, convinced of their own rightness could do such a thing. Step forward ... Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, no less. Tony (or, as his friends call him, "God"), now a Catholic, has decided that the Pope is wrong and he is right. Wow. It must feel wonderful to be so clever.

Sadly, there are some dissenters. Vincent Nichols, for example, although he is "only" the Archbishop-elect of Westminster, so what would he know. Anyway, in a delicious quote that I enjoyed so much that I constructed an entire blog post around it, he said:
‘But I am afraid the way the Catholic church thinks is rather different to that, and I think I will take my guide from Pope Benedict actually.’

Wonderfully put. You can just feel the contempt oozing gently...

Where is Government?

As you may know, I am a partner in a business. I need to make decisions for that business. Lately, they've been getting more difficult. The one that faces us today is that of our staff salaries for the forthcoming year. Traditionally, we have always reviewed salaries in April with the new tax year.

We need to decide by tomorrow morning at the absolute latest, in order to provide instructions in time for the payroll to run. However, despite the fact that we are already weeks into the new tax year, we do not yet have a Budget. We do not know what the tax rates are for the month we are now in. We do not know what funds we are going to have to set aside for employer's NI bills. We do not know what taxes the partners will have to pay on the money being earned today.

Another major factor in the decision is, of course, inflation. But HMG publish two inflation indices. One says about 0%. The other says about 3%. Neither is trusted; neither seems to correspond to real life. So what is the inflation rate? Anyone care to guess?

It would be nice if Gordon could stop entertaining world leaders, stop appointing people to make up lies about the Tories, stop announcing new initiatives that may or may not ever actually happen, and GET ON AND GOVERN THIS COUNTRY. Honestly, any decision would be better than nothing, even if I did disagree with it.

Sorry to shout, but this is getting a tad frustrating.

Irony or Idiocy?

I've been reflecting on the various reactions to the recent police brutality allegations, for example as covered by Letters when Tomlinson died, when we discovered more about his day, and in relation to the protests over his death.

It does seem that the main source of anger, or at least the most vociferous, is from the Left. Those on the Right tend to see the death as sad, regrettable even, certainly worthy of an investigation, but not something to get angry about unless and until the investigation takes all the evidence into account and concludes that the police officers were wrong. That is certainly my view, at least. So, it strikes me as odd that the Left have managed to get themselves into such a state of excitement as a result of the various amateur videos of the incidents.

After all, the recent history of the Left in this country is of ever-increasing levels of State control. The prevailing attitude has been that the State is benign, knows best, can look after us, and (indeed) will do so whether we want it to or not. At the same time, the State has been steadily increasing its control over us, reaching the point recently where we may not photograph its officers.

At one level, of course, it is therefore intrinsically illogical for the British Left to protest at excessive State control. That aside, the means by which they have mobilised their anger is through the use of video footage. That footage is;

  • gained by individual citizens operating freely and independently
  • using privately owned and privately operated recording equipment
  • distributed via privately operated websites,
  • websites that are themselves funded by revenues from advertisers
These "Left-wing" protesters are angry that the State has become arrogant and controlling. Their anger is fuelled by the results of private enterprise and individual freedom.

They're not Left-wing; they are Hayekian Conservatives, really. They just don't realise.

UPDATE: Maybe she does realise. It seems that the "anti-capitalist" protester is looking for £50k for her story. Very anti-capitalist, indeed.

UPDATE 2: It seems (provisionally) that he died of abdominal bleeding, not a heart attack. If so, and if the police assault caused or contributed to this, then the police officer needs to face serious questions. It seems that he has been questioned to this effect. This does not, however, affect the view set out in the original post above.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Labour outlaw lawbreaking

Right, let me understand this.

McBride was found to have committed a "clear and serious breach" of Whitehall rules. So, to stop this happening again, new Whitehall rules will be instigated making it clear that this is not allowed. That should help.

In other news, the Pope has admitted that he is not a Catholic, and a range of new public conveniences for bears have been given planning permission on the strict condition that they must not be contructed within woods.


I shouldn't need to explain this, should I? Oh well, just on the off-chance that a New Labour Minister should read this, I'll put it in words that you might understand:

New rules do not work when the problem was that people were breaking the rules.

I was going to add the hypothetical question "Are we ruled by a bunch of idiots or something?". Then I remembered; yes, we are.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Daily Mash hits the spot ... again

THE recession has a sexually transmitted disease that it has been covering up for years, Downing Street sources claimed last night... the wife of consumer price deflation was mentally ill and had been seen crying at drinks parties....and the manufacturing slump has been accused of doing special favours for its boyfriend, the housing crash.
Best of all:
But a Downing Street insider insisted the latest revelations would 'destabilise' the recession, even though opinion polls show voters would prefer a combination of economic collapse, mental illness and gonorrhea to another five minutes of the Labour Party in government.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Brown never needs to apologise, ever... apparently.

According to the Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, Gordon Brown does not have to say sorry for the smeargate e-mails. He told the BBC:
"Gordon Brown had nothing to do with this. You apologise for the things you are responsible for"
Would someone please explain to me in what way the Prime Minister is not responsible for what is done by his staff in his office? Staff that he appointed? Staff that followed him to his present position, and who have been with him for many years?

Mr Johnson said he felt "some shame" for the tactics that his party had been engaged in. So, you see, every now and then a Labour Minister does get something right.

Mind you, he went on to suggest that as the person involved had resigned, the issue was now closed. Like **** it is.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

This time, it's different

"Downing Street Aide in plan to discredit Tories". Wow. No, really? Seriously?

Those of us with half a brain have been able to see this happening for years. OK, so there were never admissions in public of "4" per se, but there have been plenty of "2"s dotted around that clearly added up. But this time, it is different.

The evidence is published. It is admitted that McBride was a source of the emails. It is (I understand) accepted that the smears were not true. And, as Raedwald points out, it is in clear breach of the relevant Code.

So, this time is different. There is no wriggle room. There is no plausibly deniable fact that can form the basis of a "Not Guilty" plea. The apparatus of the State has been used illegally to create party political spin of the nastiest sort.

This is not incompetence. This is not a failure of a policy. This is not something that can be blamed on a global problem that started in America. This is pure, simple, homegrown venality.

In Brown's Number 10.

This is unsuitability for office, proven in public. Time, I think, for a Confidence vote.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Is, like, a well good post innit?

Go and read Stuart Sharpe's latest Opinion. He's noticed that rants on the subject of people's growing inability to use the English language are becoming ;

(a) committed to writing more often, and

(b) increasingly eloquently argued.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Ed Balls is an immature idiot

I arrived home last night to find a copy of The Times lying about (thanks, Ocado...), so I read it over dinner. The lead article was on the subject of the Edlington torture case. Truly, crimes don't get much more shocking than this. The suspects, two boys of 10 and 11, appear to have tortured two boys of 9 and 10. The suspects were in local authority care at the time, had been moved to the village only a few weeks earlier, and had been the subject of several reports to the police which (it seems) were not followed up seriously.

Needless to say, everyone who offered comment was appalled. But one comment stood out; that of Ed Balls. Here it is:
Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, said that the attacks were barbaric. “We were all deeply shocked by what we read.” he said. “It’s really very important that we don’t jump on a bandwagon and allow all groups of children to be demonised. The vast majority of young people should not be smeared by politicians trying to peddle rhetoric about a broken society.”

I read that, and for a moment I thought that Ed Balls was trying to make a party political point out of a horrific tragedy. So I re-read it. To my surprise, he was.

Let's just set that out again. Ed Balls, on hearing of two primary school children who abducted two even younger children, who tortured them with knives, bricks and burning cigarettes, and who left one of them for dead, decided that now was an appropriate time to try and score a point off David Cameron and his "broken society" speech.

Ed Balls; you are an idiot. You are an insensitive prat. You would make a secondary school debating society look mature.

But, you started it, so let's look at the political implications of this. These two boys are both 11 or less. This means that they have grown up entirely under New Labour. Their schooling has been under New Labour. Their upbringing has been under the watchful eye of New Labour, Sure Start, and so on.

They were in the care of the local authority, governed by rules set down by you, Ed Balls, a New Labour Minister, and answerable to you, Ed Balls.

Their behaviour has been reported repeatedly, it seems, to the police. A police force that has been shaped and moulded according to the wishes of New Labour. A police force whose priorities and resources are decided by New Labour.

And the result? They were, it seems, utterly evil and without care for their fellow man, or should I say child. So when David Cameron says that we have a broken society, it does rather seem that he is right. Which means, I have to say, that you are wrong.

Ed Balls; resign now. You do not deserve to be a Minister, you contemptible little ****.

Monday, 6 April 2009

A reason to vote Tory

At last, a positive reason rather than "They're not led by a One-Eyed Scottish Idiot"*. The Tories have announced that they will end the practice of retaining the DNA of the innocent.

This is something that has bugged me for ages. DNA matching is not perfect; nothing is. Mistakes do happen. So if you are in the subset of the innocent population that is on the database, you are forever at risk of having to prove your innocence. That, to me, is wrong. It is also illegal under European law. Neither, of course, is regarded by New Labour as being a persuasive reason to stop.

I have no problem with retaining the DNA samples of those found guilty. They chose to go on the database by committing a crime. The innocent can hardly choose "not to be wrongfully arrested".

Nor do I have a problem with taking a DNA sample from anyone who is arrested. This is a useful part of police investigative powers, allowing them to match such samples to samples taken from crime scenes in the past. There is a risk of a mismatch, but only once - not forever, so I regard it as reasonable and manageable. It means that those who have committed offences in the past know that they absolutely must keep their noses totally spotless for all time - no bad thing. Indeed, every single case that has been thrown at me in support of keeping all DNA samples forever have been ones where it is this type of comparison which yielded a match.

So I regard this as good news. If it is the start of a movement by the Tories towards libertarianism and freedom, then that would be even better.

*copyright J Clarkson Esq

Education, Education, Education

Leg-Iron has noticed an interesting co-incidence, while thinking about Labour's record on education:
One in five adults is illiterate in the UK. If you've ever wondered why Labour's poll rating never goes below twenty percent, consider the coincidence in those figures.
Perhaps I should explain that one in five is the same as twenty percent since it appears that forty percent are innumerate too.
No wonder there's so little fuss about the government's money-wasting ways. Two in five don't know what the numbers mean.
And there's the crucial point. I've said before that Labour might be idiotic but they're not stupid. If you're going to screw things up, and do so right royally, you'd be best advised to spend the preceding ten years producing a generation of voters who can't tell the difference.

Friday, 3 April 2009

My Money Worries are Over

A new case has landed on my desk. I am to act for one quango in a trade mark dispute with another quango.

Suggestions, please, as to by what factor I should multiply my usual charging rate.

Thursday, 2 April 2009


Gordon Brown's government finally begins to run out of money, as lenders decline to buy all the government bonds on offer.

Gordon Brown stages the G20 and organises a huge recapitalisation of the IMF.

Stephen Timms, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, tells the G20 briefing: "We have moved beyond the era of stigma around the IMF". (source: @paulwaugh)

Oh dear. Should we book some hotel rooms in London in case any IMF officials happen to visit soon?