Sunday, 17 October 2010

Brighton and Hove MPs reject call for EU budget cuts as tuition fees go through the roof

At a time when national governments are making cuts of up to 25% to 40% on budgets, is it too much to ask the EU to make cuts to its budget too?

Well I wouldn't have thought so, but the EU are demanding an inflation busting 6% increase! Our (UK) contribution will aparantly go up by enough to cover student tuition fees twice over!

This was being voted on in parliament last Wednesday (13th) A brave MP did put an amendment calling for the budget to be cut, but this was defeated by a massive 252 to 42.

Mike Weatherly MP (Con - Hove) voted against a reduction as did Simon Kirby MP (Con - Brighton Kemptown) while Caroline Lucas (Green - Brighton Pavilion) did not vote at all.

The people of Brighton, Hove and Portslade should be asking serious questions of the MPs they elected to protect their interests.

The rest of Europe is not happy:
http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/EU-Showdown-Looms-Over-Demand-For-Rise-In-2011-Budget-As-Countries-Continue-To-Face-Hard-Times/Article/201010315759046?lpos=World_News_Article_Body_Copy_Region_0

So why are the supposedly EU-Sceptic Conservatives being so compliant?

Roger Helmer MEP (Con) seems to be realising the truth about the party he is a member of:
http://conservativehome.blogs.com/centreright/2010/10/has-the-coalition-lost-the-plot-on-the-eu.html

Friday, 8 October 2010

Will a Yes or No vote on AV make a PR referendum more or less likely? Answer from the horses mouth!

A lot of people who support PR (proportional representation) are unhappy with the proposed AV (alternative vote) referendum.

AV is no more proportional than FPTP (first past the post), in fact, depending on circumstances it can be more or less proportional than FPTP. But as neither was designed to be proportional, this should not be surprising.

So should PR fans vote Yes or No to AV? Or maybe abstain?

Well, one of the arguments is whether the result of the AV vote will make a future referendum (on PR) more or less likely.

- Some say 'A No vote will show there is no appetite for electoral reform, so the issue will be settled for a generation'.

- Others say 'A No vote will show that AV was not acceptable, and we will be offered a wider choice instead  - including PR'.

- Others say 'A Yes vote will be a major reform, so there will be no appetite for further reform for a generation'.

- Yet others say 'A Yes vote will get the electoral reform ball rolling and show there is an appetite for it, so will rapidly lead to another referendum - including PR'

See the problem? It can be argued that any result will either rapidly lead to another referendum (on PR) or that any result will put it off for a generation!

So what is the truth? Would the outcome of the AV referendum change the likelihood of a later PR referendum? Well I decided to find out, by asking the person who will ultimately decide whether we have an other referendum (at least in this parliament). I wrote to the Prime Minister, David Cameron and asked him.


And just as soon as he replies, I will pass on the answer!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

William Hagues 1977 Conservative Conference Speech - A Likely Lad, now Lost.

Hague — 'What sort of world do young people want?'

As a 16-year-old, I represent what may well seem to be the last generation for the Conservative Party. By all accounts, some ten per cent of first-time voters voted Conservative in the last general election. If that trend continues then perhaps some mathematician in the hall would care to work out just how many years it will be before it becomes impossible for the Conservative Party to win a general election.

That lack of support stems largely, in my belief, from the fact that the party is seen, rightly or wrongly, as standing for the maintenance of the existing political and economic order. The young people who voted so overwhelmingly against our party last time are people who believe in change — not change for its own sake but change because they are dissatisfied with the existing state of affairs in Great Britain. But the only form of change that has been offered to them in the past has been a change to the left — an irreversible shift of power, as the Labour Party has called it, supposedly to the people but in reality to the centralized state.

They must now be shown that it is possible to change in other directions. Indeed, not only possible to change but necessary to change. Every subsequent Labour government has encroached upon the liberty of the individual citizen. Every subsequent Conservative government has failed to do more than only marginally restore it.

What sort of world do young people want? Like the rest of the British people, they share the aspirations and hopes of the Conservative Party, but in this case it is not translated into Conservative votes. They want a society where effort and initiative are rewarded instead of stamped upon, where those who work the hardest receive the greatest reward, where those who take the greatest risk receive the largest profit.

They want to live in a world where it pays to work and, more important, where it pays to work in Britain. They do not accept the socialist argument that the government knows what is good for the people better than the people do. They do not want to go to Callaghan's promised land, which must surely rank as the most miserable and abhorrent land that has ever been promised to the people of a nation. But most of all they want to be free, free from the government, the government that they think should get out of the way, not intervene, not interfere in their lives. And I trust Mrs Thatcher's government will indeed get out of the way.

There is at least one school, which I think is in London, where the pupils are allowed to win just one race each, no more, for fear that the others might feel inferior. That is a classic illustration of the socialist state, which draws nearer with every Labour government and which Conservatives have never reversed. Half of you may not be here in 30 or 40 years' time, but I will be and I want to be free.

Economic policy can guarantee that freedom. Denationalization of certain industries and forcing others to cover their costs, large and progressive cuts in public spending, the year-by-year reduction of the proportion of the GNP spent by the state, in short, the creation of a free market economy.

There comes a time, as a country moves nearer towards a socialist state, when the party of the left ceases to be the dominant party, the reformer, and it is the party of the right that becomes the party of radicalism and change. If we should fail now to reverse the progress of socialism, we can write off the future of this party and of the country. But if we rise to the challenge and if we determine to roll back the frontiers of the state, we will not only capture the imagination and support of the younger people; we will save free enterprise and Great Britain, and create a capital-owning, home-owning democracy for the young people.

Conservatives - The new party of the Left

In case there was any doubt in anyones mind about where the Conservative party now stands, George Osborne confirmed that it is very firmly on the Left of the political spectrum.

In his conference speech (text here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/oct/04/george-osborne-speech-conservative-conference) he says

That modern government exists not just to provide resolute security at home and abroad, but also to provide the best in education and healthcare, and support for the Big Society.

This is clearly left/marxist thinking. No true conservative would gold plate public services in this way. A true conservative or supporter of the centre or centre right would support 'adaquate education' and 'adaqute healthcare' - they would leave individuals with their own money in their own pockets to decide if they wanted to pay for premium 'best' quality services.

Socially, a true conservative believes that the state provides a 'safety net', not cradle to grave premium state service provision of all things. We cannot afford it, it provides no incentive for anyone to be productive in anyway, it removes choice from the individual, and most importantly the state is not competent to provide services.

The states incompetence in service provision has been proven time and time again - the initial setup and transition often goes well when there is something to prove (and the people driving it are highly motivated).

But once the state monopoly is established the service rapidly decays in terms of quality and efficiency - as has been proved again and again.

State provision equates to a monopoly and monopolies are as bad in the states hands as they would be in private hands.

Osborne is a marxist fool, and he is in good company at the top of the Conservative party.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Royal College of Physicians and their dodgy stats on Passive Smoking

First things first - I am sure that smoking is bad for the smokers health and I have no doubt that tobacco companies conspired against the public to hide this information in the past. I am also sure that everyone in the UK knows that smoking is bad for the smokers health.

However, a while back I was intrigued by the figure of 17,000 under 5s needing to be admitted to hospital each year as a result of passive smoking their parents smoke. This figure crops up everywhere and seems to be the basis of all arguments against individuals smoking in presence of others (whether adult or child). http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=17000+under+5+hospital+smoke

I traced this figure back to 'Smoking and the Young' a Royal College of Physicians publication where the figure is calculated, and then started disecting it. At which point it pretty much falls apart.

1) It uses for admissions figures from the 1970 cohort survey (published as a book 'From Birth To Five') to calculate the percentage of admissions that it attributes to passive smoking.

- The survey did not register the reason a child was admitted to hospital (i.e. whether it was potentially smoke inhalation related or not (say a broken arm or cigarette burn!)) only whether the admitted child's mother smoked.

- The survey qualifies is figures stating "it would be dangerous to interpret information on hospital admissions as an index of ill health in the population, they are presented here merely as events that occurred in a population of children". This qualification given on the basis that admission of children to hospital could often made on social reasons (ie maybe whether the mother had other children or worked etc so may have difficulty caring for a child at home) rather than a pressing medical requirement for hospitalisation.

- The survey only registered whether a mother smoked when the child was aged 5, not whether they had smoked while the child had been growing up, nor whether they had a partner who smoked.

2) It uses the 'General Household Survey 1988' to estimate the total number of under 5's admitted to hospital in a year.

- This surveyed only 1400 children aged 0-4 of which around 25 had a hospital admission in that year (for all reasons). This Royal College of Physicians have extrapolated this to estimate for a population of 3.4 million(!).

So from this very shaky base, of children of mothers who smoked on their 5th birthday who were admitted to hospital for any reason in a year, using data in a way that it was specifically not intended for, then extrapolated over several orders of magnitude. We get headlines declaring that 17,000 children are admitted to hospital with breathing complaints brought on by passive breathing their parents smoke.

There may be evidence of damage caused by passive smoking - but if there is, then this isn't it.

I hope these kind of jokers aren't let anywhere data on (say) global temperatures... they will probably claim the earth is freezing away or boiling away or something and insist that they get evern *more* of our money to 'do something about it'...

** Edit 18th Sept 2013 **

There is a more recent report
http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/sites/default/files/documents/passive-smoking-and-children.pdf
Its stats seem to be merger of many other studies - each of which could be as poor as that set out above(!) - but even this puts the hospital admission figure at 9,500 for all under 16. Almost half the number for a group three times the size compared to the original information... So while the figures are unreliable, it certainly confirms that the Royal College of Physicians cannot be trusted to produce reliable statistics.