Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Why Today Was Important

OK, you all know what this post is going to be about, but I'll tell you anyway. Thinking he was off-mike, Gordon called a (former) Labour voter a bigot. Why? Because she disagreed with him on a range of subjects, including immigration.

Yes, it's insulting. Yes, we are in the midst of the media frenzy that is a General Election campaign. But remember; the guy is fighting for his job. He is under huge stress. He is being harangued everywhere he goes, either by the ordinary people that he (until recently) wanted to meet or by the media who want a pound of flesh every ten minutes. So he uttered an intemperate word when he thought he was in private. So what? Why does this matter a jot? Wouldn't we all?

It matters, though. It matters hugely, because we have been harbouring suspicions about the man for a long time. We heard that he had a tendency to throw Nokias around the room when things weren't going his way - this was denied. We heard he grabbed a typist and pulled her out of her chair because she wasn't getting it right - this was denied. We heard about him thumping a car seat but this was played down. We heard about the bullying helpline, and this was laughed off and the anti-bullying charity was discredited. We heard about Damian McBride and the smeargate scandal, but were told that Gordon had nothing to do about it. We heard about the backroom political threats that stopped anyone standing against him for PM, but these were dismissed.

And so on, and so on. We kept hearing them - story after story that told of a deeply unpleasant person, focused entirely on the greasy pole and his position at the top of it, a person psychologically unfit for the job of Prime Minister. All were denied, dismissed, swept aside for lack of evidence.

Then we heard today's tape. His voice. On tape. No doubt; no wriggle room. She raised valid questions of him, he smiled and reassured her. He smiled and waved. He smiled and got in the car. Then, without any hesitation, he flipped. The real Brown came out from behind the mask. The nasty Brown. The Brown who throws Nokias, the Brown who bullies people. The Brown who calls her a bigot. We listened, and all the older stories sprang to life, they all came out of the woodwork.

And to think, we believed "In The Thick of It" was a cleverly written satire. Suddenly, it feels like Armando Iannucci just had some really good listening equipment and a copy typist.

Today mattered.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Global Warming - the real danger

I've commented before now on my concerns as to the quality of the scientific basis for climate change - not because I think it isn't happening, but because I'm not satisfied that it is. The obvious counter-argument (which has been used against me) is that if we ignore it and it hits us, it will hurt. If we try to prevent it, and it never arrives, then no harm is done.

This counter-argument is fallacious for a range of reasons (think hard, then choose one), but nothing works like a hard counter-example. So I was pleased to see this post at EUReferendum on the subject of the ash cloud.

It seems that cautious officials closed UK airspace because the computer models predicted a risk. They did not quantify the risk, and we had no hard data that we could use. Why not? Because the only aircraft we have for this purpose was grounded with repairs. As the post explains:
Because until two weeks ago Volcanic Ash was not nearly such a hot topic as, say, Climate Change. Money has been thrown at climate change research and monitoring - the British Met Office has received over £200million for that purpose - while other meteorological services have been starved of funds.
There is the harm caused to us by an obsessive assumption that climate change must not be challenged; here is an example of funds being starved from something we know we have to cope with, in order to study something we think we might have to cope with.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Speechless

So now we know what our Government's "ideal" form of Papal visit would be. This may be from civil servants, but they work under the direction of Ministers and in an environment for which Ministers are responsible for shaping.

Why can't Labour just come out and admit it - that they run this country for their own narrow sectional interests, not for the whole country? That if you are a secular socialist minority public-sector worker then they are interested in you and will happily pander to whatever form of discriminatory identity politics you want.

Whereas if you are a white middle-class Christian private-sector worker then you can just get lost, because there no notice whatsoever will be taken of your needs or your opinions. You may as well not exist - until your tax return is due, of course...

Friday, 23 April 2010

It's Good To Talk

I've been sent a Labour election leaflet! Me! Someone is either very stupid or very optimistic, I think.

I'm actually quite pleased - you see, it has an email address. So I thought I'd contact the candidate to see if he could help me understand Labour's policies better. Here's my email:
Thanks for the leaflet

I have a quick question, though. I wonder if you could clarify something.

Gordon Brown says that if David Cameron doesn't raise NI as Gordon plans to, that will mean that £6 billion will be "taken out of the economy". I'm confused. Where will it have gone? Won't it still be in our pockets for us to spend in the economy on what we would like to spend it on?

Look forward to hearing from you.
If I get a reply, you'll be the second to know.

Update 25/04, 0900:

His reply:
Thanks for the email- the question surrounding taxation at the moment can be summed up by the paradox of thrift. Currently, the government through a variety of spending measures is maintaining the overall level of demand in the economy- in order to do this in a fiscally responsible way, it is necessary to raise this cash from somewhere. So of course, without the rise in NI money will still be in your pocket, but the collapse in private demand demonstrates that people are not spending it (hence the government needing to sustain demand). NI is being raised as it is a fair tax- noone on less than £20k will pay any more in NI contributions, and it requires employers to contribute as well. To put this last point in perspective, the bill for higher NI to M&S will be £10m- they've just given their new Chief Exec a £15 golden hello.
Nice bit of envy politics at the end, there. And I think he means either £15M or £15k, not £15 (which would probably be a bit of a disappointment). But I would never hold a typo agianst someoone.

My response:
Thank you, Andrew.
Well, it answers my question in that you accept that the money will not be taken out of the economy, contrary to Gordon's claim.

Of course, if people choose of their own free will to repair their personal balance sheets by saving the money, but Labour choose to force them to give up the money so that it can be spent on their behalf, is that not strikingly illiberal and undemocratic?

If the money was left in people's own hands, they could choose to spend it or to save it - if they chose the latter, then we would not have had to inject such huge funds into the banking system. Our banks would then have funds to invest or to lend - can Labour prove that this (the route of free choice) would not be a more efficient way of allocating the money?

Temptation

The last of the major party manifestos was published today. It is, of course, the most eagerly awaited manifesto, and probably the one with the most readers.

I give you, therefore, the manifesto of the Monster Raving Loony Party.


1. Health & Safety: We propose to ban Self Responsibilty on the grounds that it may be dangerous to your health.

2. MPs' Expenses: We propose that instead of a second home allowance, MPs will have a caravan which will be parked outside the Houses of Parliament. This will make it easier, as flipping a caravan is easier than flipping homes.

3. Eurofit: The European Constitution will be sorted out by going for a long walk. As everyone knows, walking is good for the constitution.

4. The Speaker in the House of Commons will be replaced by the latest audio equipment

5. To help the Israel/Palestinian Problem, we will get rid of the old road map, and replace it with a new sat nav instead

6. European Union: It is proposed that the European Union end its discrimination by creating a "Court of Human Lefts" because their present policy is one-sided.

7. Education: We will increase the number of Women teachers throughout the education System as we are strong believers of 'Female Intuition'

8. Immigration and Population: I propose that we cap the population of this country. We have too many people for such a small country, so we will Cap the number of people residing here at present rates (approximately 63 million, give or take 10 mill) on the basis of one out, one in (excluding Births).

Regarding Immigration... Any Person who can prove that they or their descendants emigrated to the U.K before 55 A.D can stay. All the others will be repatriated to their original country. (Well, we have to draw the line somewhere)

9. We will ban all forms of Greyhound racing. This will help stop the country going to the dogs.

10. Afghanistan, Iraq and the War on terror. There's nothing funny about this. However, as we have not found any Taliban terrorists in Derbyshire, our soldiers can all come home now.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Capitalism Works, part2

I've just spotted this historical post at Burning Our Money. Looking back over the Lawson years, it notes that:
In the six years of Lawson's Chancellorship, 3 million new jobs were created. But the number of taxpayers only increased by one million. Lawson had increased the real inflation adjusted value of the personal tax allowance by 15%, effectively lifting 2 million of the low paid out of tax altogether.
And what has happened since then? Do tell...
Well, there are another 2.2 million jobs. But unfortunately, the number of people paying tax has increased by 4.3 million. So all of those 2m low paid workers that Lawson lifted out of tax have gone straight back in.
Gosh, you mean to say that Labour policies are bad for the poor, while Conservative policies are good for the poor?

Really??

Of course they are. I've been yelling this for years. Simple low taxes and a climate that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship creates jobs that lift people out of poverty while generating the tax receipts that enable us to help those that can't work. High and complex taxes and an attitude of "bash the successful, they can afford it" gradually saps the economy leading to more people out of work and less tax income with which to help them.

That is, in a nutshell, the Patently approach to economic policy. Now you have the historical evidence which proves I am right.

[/smug]

Spoilt for Choice

Well, there was a rich seam of topics for blogging on Today this morning.

I have to admit being tempted to go for Lord Mandelson and his assertion that the banking crash was due to the Tory reforms of the City in the late 1980s. Apparently, this introduced a dangerous level of deregulation, which Labour (bless them) fixed in 1997 despite Tory resistance. Which does of course explain why the crash happened in 2008, ten years after Labour's regulatory regime had been introduced. But no, too easy a target. Labour are dead and there is no fun kicking a corpse*.

The really mendacious idiot** was Huhne, appearing in order to glow in the sunlight that is newly shining on his party. Careful, Chris, you might burn. Anyway, he told us all about how Nick Clegg is different to the other two leaders, how he is not of the same mould, how the Lib Dems are not part of the same politics. This is, apparently, because Nick has a real background from before his political career.

Really? Let's see. His career before politics consisted of:

Attended Robinson College, Cambridge to study Archaeology and Anthropology

I was at Cambridge at about that time. Arc&Anth was the archetypal lazy degree. With little or no work required, it suited those able to get in, but unwilling to do much once there. Prince Andrew studied Arc&Anth; legend has it that his minders decided to sit for the exams - after all, they had been to all the lectures. Andrew got a 2.2; they got 2.1s.

Member of the Cambridge University Conservative Association

I remember the CUCA members. Save for a small number of sane types who generally did not more than one meeting, they were a bunch of toffee-nosed self-obsessed arrogant little ****. (Sorry, nearly turned this into a swear blog there...)

University of Minnesota, thesis on the political philosophy of the Deep Green movement

Studying politicians. Mmm. Very non-political.

Intern at The Nation, a left-wing magazine.

Writing about politicians. Mmm. Very non-political.

Brussels, trainee in the G24 Co-ordination Unit

Working to enact the policies of his political masters. Mmm. Very non-political.

Master's degree at the College of Europe in Bruges

Studying the political structures and processes of the EU. Mmm. Very non-political.

Official in the European Commission

Back working to enact the policies of his political masters. Mmm. Very non-political.

Policy adviser and speech writer in the private office of EU Commissioner Leon Brittan

Mmm. Very non-political.

Member of the European Parliament

And then his political career started. So there you have it; a life immersed in politics. Not once has he run a business, or worked to create something he could sell at a profit. He studied politicians, supported politicians, and then became a politician.

So when he and his colleagues present him as being somehow from a different mould, they are lying. They are spinning. They are proving that they are exactly the same.

Working in PR for Carlton TV might not be much, but it is easily the strongest non-political card held by any of them.

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*OK, I would make an exception for Mandelson, but the general rule stands

**What is it about Today that attracts mendacious idiots as interviewees?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

More evidence on Human Rights

Many thanks to Albert for drawing my attention to this news.
The Supreme Court has ruled it is illegal to force offenders to be on the register for life without any opportunity for a review.

In a final defeat for the Home Office, sex offenders now have the right to ask to be removed from the register.
Now, that is a conclusion which it is possible to reach as a matter of policy, if that is what you think should happen. But the justification which has been used here is logically absurd. It seems that the sex offenders' register is a:
scheme which interferes with an individual's right to respect for his private and family life
A right to "privacy"? Privacy?? Remind me why these two went on the Register in the first place:
Teenager "F'', [...] was convicted of two offences of rape and other serious offences at the age of 11.
and:
Angus Thompson, 52, from Newcastle upon Tyne, was sentenced in November 1996 to five years' imprisonment on two counts of indecent assault on a female and other offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
What greater invasion of someone's privacy is there, than to rape or indecently assault them? When you have taken even that private space from them against their will, how dare you stand up in public and bleat that the State is not allowing you sufficient privacy?

New Labour - legislating to protect hypocrisy.

Quote of the Day

From the Daily Mash:
Lib Dem sensation Nick Clegg has described prime minister Gordon Brown as 'desperate' in a move which etymologists said could force them to do a complete strip down and rebuild of the word 'desperate'.

The Saddest Article Ever Read

...but at least it inspired one of the better blog posts.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Human Rights, Humane Responsibilities

Letters from A Tory is upset at the latest apparent abuse of the Human Rights Act, this time that a convicted paedophile immigrant cannot be deported back to his native country because he has a wife and child here and deporting him would breach his human right to a family life. Diddums.

As I commented to LfaT, I have long argued that the Human Rights Act should be amended to insert one small but significant defence: that no claim may be entertained based on an alleged violation of human rights, where the alleged violation was a consequential result of the violation of a like human right by the claimant.

Or, in short, if you interfere in someone else’s right to a family life by grooming their underage daughter, then you may not prevent yourself from being sentenced for that crime by claiming that the sentence violates your own right to a family life.

In combination with a statutory code of rights for suspects & prisoners that sets a baseline level of treatment, that would strike a fair and civilised balance between the conflicting interests.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Encouraged

I have now been listening for over a decade to a constant stream of anti-capitalist, ant-free-market rhetoric that has (by and large) gone unchallenged. You know, the stream-of-consciousness high-pitched whine that emanates from the liberal-left Guardian-reading Islingtonite Aunty-Beeb handwringing middle-class completely-unproductive sector to the effect that if only everything was from an organic fairtrade co-operative and no-one ever made a profit then everything would be so lovely.

The whine that is, of course, emitted while sitting on the evil-capitalist-made sofa in the evil-capitalist-built house that they bought with their public-sector salary funded by taxes levied (ultimately) on the profits made by evil capitalists.

Well, after that is it such a relief to hear someone point out that, in fact, third world sweatshops are not such a bad thing. He's even gone on to explain why child labour is not such a bad idea, too.

Of course, like me he acknowledges that the conditions that apply in the sweatshops are not pleasant. Neither of us would not want his children to work in one. But taking a wider view, it is better to allow this as an interim state towards a (genuinely) better future than to condemn them to perpetual slave labour. Not such a clown now, eh?

As JuliaM comments, capitalism is still the worst possible system - apart from all the alternatives.

That Lib Dem Campaign Stance In Full..

  1. Both of the other two parties are awful. Really awful. Together, they got us into this mess.
  2. The two party system keeps us in this mess by disempowering voters and handing power to entrenched political elites.
  3. Vote for me, so that I can hold the balance of power and decide for you which one should stay in government.
  4. Err, that's it...

Friday, 16 April 2010

Did I hear that right?

Did Eddie Izzard really whinge on behalf of the Labour party that the Conservatives had been given loads of money by business people, who would want something in return?

The Labour Party? The same Labour Party who gave £11,000,000 of our money to UNITE in the form of state support, who then gave it back to Labour as a donation?

Did I really hear that right?

I agree with Stu

as you can see...

;-)

Debating the Debate

A post on THE DEBATE seems to be mandatory, so here goes.

Good lord, Brown is a singularly creepy individual. Fortunately, Mrs P is a counsellor, else I would still be traumatised by The Smile - which we saw repeatedly whenever he managed to insert one of his pre-prepared barbs. Trouble is, it doesn't work here, Gordon. You're not at PMQs, we are expecting you to answer the question you've been asked, not the question you feel like answering.

Then there is Nick wotsisname. Seemingly the winner, apparently through the cunning tactic of vehemently laying into the other two for their habit of repeatedly attacking each other. It seems that if we don't like either of the other two, we should vote for him so that he can decide which of them to hand power to in a hung Parliament. Hmmm.

And then there is Dave. Grow a pair, please. Get stuck in. Tell Gordon that a tax cut does not mean the "money is taken out of the economy". Ask him why every single question was about why today's public services are rubbish, when he has been spending money on them hand over fist for over a decade. You began to get there, by pointing out the difference between spending and results, but you really need to hammer that one home as it is the core theme of Brown's failure.

Overall, no-one will be surprised to hear that I have not changed my mind as to my voting intentions...

Things can only get worse....

Blue Eyes has observed why "fairness" actually makes things worse for everyone.

It's well worth reading. Off you go.

Monday, 12 April 2010

More thoughts on the CRB

I remember being taught that punishment for criminal activity was justified on several grounds, one of which was deterrence. The theory behind that was that we stop people from committing crimes in advance by instilling in them the prior knowledge that they will be caught, that they will be punished, and that the punishment will be unpleasant.

That seems rather quaint these days. There is, now, no expectation of capture, and certainly no expectation of a serious punishment if caught.

The CRB is a tacit admission of this by Labour. It is based, essentially, on the premise that there is no real deterrent effect in our criminal justice system - so therefore we need to stop someone from committing a by some other means - we need a means of prevention, not deterrent. There is a huge problem inherent in this approach.

First, it can (obviously) only stop the second & subsequent offences by a person. Before they committed their first offence, their CRB check must be clear.

More seriously, if there is no real expectation of capture, as we are admitting by establishing the CRB as our main defence, then there will be no past criminal record to find in a CRB check. This should really be an obvious point (although the manner in which the CRB is discussed suggests that people do not seem to realise it): the CRB check does not list a person's offences. It lists their convictions - i.e. the offences of which they have been accused and found guilty. A clear CRB check simply shows that the person has not been caught (yet?)*. So if we no longer catch most criminals, most CRB checks will be clear. And if we start to regard a clear CRB as a sign of trustworthiness, we delude ourselves.

Exactly the same applies to the new Independent Safeguarding Agency, for the same reasons.

Which leaves us with one question. If we took the budgets of the CRB and the ISA, and gave them to the Police forces, what could they achieve with that?

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* Equally, a positive CRB check only shows a conviction, not that the person is guilty...

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Vote "None of the Above"

There is something very wrong with our politics. I think we all know that, at heart, but the actual evidence is frightening. Look at this graph:


Now, someone has been naughty and given the graph a false zero on the y-scale in order to make it look worse, but even taking that into account it is still pretty serious. Roughly 15% of the population have joined those who never voted, to bring the total to about 40%.

There are many around who moan that it is not worth voting because "they're all the same, aren't they". I have never taken that view - from my perspective the Conservatives are acceptable whereas Labour are (frankly) appalling. That, to me, is a significant difference.

However, when I listen carefully and critically to Dave, I can see their point, to an extent. There is a remarkable consensus around the social democratic outlook. For example, the Conservatives don't want to sack truckloads of civil servants. Indeed, they have only a limited agenda for cuts. The only difference of principle is - it seems - at the margins and on issues such as the actual level of competence of the two parties.

And that, I think, would in some minds justify not voting. If you think, as some may well, that all politicians are venal and incompetent, there is indeed no difference and no point in choosing between them*.

So I admit being tempted by a policy of compulsory voting, provided that the ballot paper includes a "None of the Above" option. However, a different option springs to mind. The total of non-voters, according to the above graph, is about 40%. All the parties know that if they hit 40% support at the election, they have won. A party that held whatever view it is that this 40% hold could have an instant majority.

The question is, what is that view (and is it one that is compatible with a modern democracy). I rather suspect that it is this one. A view that politics is not the be-all and end-all of life; a minimalist approach to politics. A view that politicians are there to set the basic structures to allow us to live our lives, but should then shut up, get out of the limelight, and stop spending our money. Parliament has been around since 1265; you think that in nearly 750 years they could have sorted out a decent set of laws for the country. There really shouldn't be much left still to do, should there?

This is, of course, the sentiment behind my recent Twitter rant. We need to have a Government for the people, not the politicians - one that will get on with the job that we give it at the General Election, not one that will engage instead in a rolling 5 year campaign to persuade us of what beautiful, intelligent and capable people they really are (especially when they include John Prescott and Ed Balls among their ranks) whilst the country crumbles. A Government that will stop trying to get into the headlines every waking minute, and instead try quietly to run the country.

I'm really tempted to set up that party**. We even have the name for it - The "None of The Above" Party.

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*Yes, yes, the Lib Dems, radical new third force in British politics, whatever.....
**especially if the Conservatives don't win on the 6th

Friday, 9 April 2010

Fuel Mirrors Life

So unleaded petrol has hit £1.20 a litre, not particularly because of rises in the oil price, but because of a fall in Sterling against the US dollar in which oil prices are denominated. The ever-increasing fuel duty also does its bit, of course.

Is this not a perfect reflection of the effect of socialism on all economic situations? We are being hit with higher fuel prices, partly because the tax we have to pay is rising, but also because incompetent management of the economy is having the effect of reducing our ability to pay for the commodity in question.

Squeezed between the two, it is us who lose out; the State never loses out and (true to form) Gordon and Alistair claim that now is not the time to eliminate the waste that they have identified. We should fund their wasteful spending through higher taxes instead. In the case of fuel, we are less able to pay for the oil because the money we take home is itself worth less. In other aspects of life we are seeing our incomes drop whilst the taxes we are called upon to pay are rising - both in real terms and also as a proportion of our reduced income.

This can't go on.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

It's going to be a long month

I arrived home last night in time for dinner with Mrs P and the children, which was nice.

We had the news on in the background, which sparked some questions. First, we had Little Miss P with her somewhat disarming question about what the Lib Dems were. We had just given Master P a potted summary of why Labour were called what they are, and then up popped that one. We had to confess that we didn't have a simple answer*, which kind of says it all.

Master P then piped up again. Having seen most of the 6 o'clock broadcast by then, and played with the red button a bit**, he exclaimed "But ALL the news is about the election!".

As I said, it's going to be a long, long month.

-------------------------------------------------------
*
@Nissemus suggested that this was a failing on my part, but was unable to offer a suggestion of his own.

**I have trained him well. He takes possession of the remote at every opportunity.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Quote of the Week

As reported by Marcus Povey (@mapkyca), possibly the perfect summary of Labour's business policy:
"If it moves, tax it. If it still moves, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidise it"

Don't Just Drive, Drive *and* Think

Some excellent advice via Al-Jahom as to how to drive on a motorway. Go and read it, if you use them. I'd second A-J's approval of the suggestions, and can confirm that they work.

Odd that HMG likes shiny expensive dictatorial IT-based solutions backed up with prosecutions and penalties when a little common sense and independent thinking would work just as well, isn't it...?

Monday, 5 April 2010

Has the mask slipped?

I want to look at a specific quote from Gordon Brown that has been brought to my attention by the FCA Blog. Their post is worth reading, and analyses the whole story from The Times in much more detail; I want to focus on one specific comment by Brown in respect of the Tory pledge not to proceed with Labour's NI rise. Apparently, Gordon:
says the Tory leader will take £6 billion out of the economy
In other words, not increasing taxes by £6,000,000,000.00 will take this money "out of the economy". The money will not be there any more. It will be gone. It will be no more. It will have passed on. It will have ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker. It will, in short, have gone to the great savings account in the sky. It will be ex-money.

Except, it won't. It will still be, it will reside in the pockets of the people who earned it. It will be available to them to spend on the high street or save in the banks (recapitalising them in the process). It will be working to secure the recovery - and it will do so in a way that is fair for all, spent by and for the person who earned it.

But that, of course, is reality - a concept that has deserted Gordon. In his little world, money only exists for him to take from us and spend on our behalf. That is the only way of extracting value from money. He and his minions are the only people who know how to spend it wisely. Any other money is, literally, lost.

So, in one short quote, we see right into Gordon's head. Right into the unreconstructed communist worldview that has ruined this country.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

One for the PC brigade to explain

Lunch today was with a relative who was recently tasked with refurbishing a pharmacist.

In the process, he was taken to task by a building inspector who insisted that the staff area had to include a disabled toilet. My relative pointed out that there was no public access to this area, as that was forbidden by law (to keep the stock safe). It was also a legal requirement to elevate the pharmacist's area, as a result of which wheelchair access was impossible and pharmacies were exempt from disability rules, given that disabled staff physically cannot work in a pharmacist. But the inspector was adamant; there had to be a disabled toilet.

Explain that; the law forbids any disabled person from working there or from gaining access to that area, yet requires that provision must be made for the needs of the people who may not go there.

Mad.