Sunday, 31 July 2011

Bits and Bobs from the Sunday Times.

Universities to cut fees for top students

Some sanity in higher education - with a suggestion that students with top A level grades may have their fees cut. Quite right I say, people who really deserve to be there should not be penalised by their financial position.

But not all good - the article implies that students from EU countries get equal access to UK universities, and can apply for UK student loans. This is particularly bad as there is noway of making foreign students repay their loans, and any money lost through non-payment has to be made up by those who *do* pay! So UK citizens born and bred going to a UK university and going on to work in the UK will not only be paying for their own university education, but for those of any EU students who studied here too!!

That't it - our brains are full up

A report suggests that human inteligence is at its peak. It says the brain is already working as fast as it can so there can be no efficiency increase, and that the brain already accounts for 20% of energy used by the body, so there is no scope for the brain to get bigger.

However, I say, looking at all the stories about general obesity in the UK there is *no* problem with providing more energy to bigger brains - humans have access to plenty of extra energy.

Go-getter Asians flock to grammars

As everyone already knows grammar schools get better results that the useless comprehensives that were dumped on my generation. The only question is why the public let government after government do *nothing* about it - more selective schools are needed. There are specialist sports schools, specialist arts schools etc why oh why don't we have a virtual ban on specialist academic schools?!?!

Donor Plea

From now on driving licence applications will be rejected unless the applicant answers a question on whether they want their organs to be donated after their death. Until now the question could just be ignored, but now you have to say 'Yes' or 'Not decided' (funny you can't just say 'no').

I am not against transplants in general, but I am not prepared to let jumped up saw bones hold my organs to ransom for their own glory - I will only donate my organs if my family can decide who gets them. I will not let a surgeon take them to boost his own private surgery, nannying political agenda, and bank balance. If my organs were used, I'd want them to go to the people currently persecuted by our doctors and health service - i.e. Lungs to a smoker, liver to a drinker, heart to a fatty etc.

Veterans threatened by plan to scrap combat stress aid

I think it is about time that 'post traumatic stress' and related issues stopped being treated as exceptional. It seems clear that these are not unusual medical issues, but simply normal human reaction to war and violence related events.

So instead of treatment being seen as an exception, we should assume (and budget) for all soldiers to be look after in this way if they are ever sent into action. Its a cost of war - a cost that our Governments prefer to ignore as they go on their foreign expeditions in the hope of some kind of place in the history books.

Of course they will get in the history books for Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc - but not in the way they hoped...

Saturday, 30 July 2011

If you can't force adults to obey you, force the kids - thats far easier.

I heard the Green Manifesto for Brighton and Hove described as half motherhood and apple pie (i.e. obviously good that no one would disagree with) and half aparantly written by Rik of The Young Ones while high on mind altering drugs (i.e. completely loony).

It seems the loony parts are now being enacted, starting with an attempt to prevent council workers eating any meat on mondays(!). This ridiculous imposition on grown adults who have probably never needed help with choosing their meals in the past is called 'Meat Free Mondays' and the loony Green councillor trying to impose it was given short thrift by the workers he was trying to nanny/mother.

Brighton and Hove binmen get “meat-free Monday” the chop
http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/9165595.Brighton_and_Hove_binmen_get____meat_free_Monday____the_chop/


However it seems that others, less able to defend themselves from inappropriate interference in their personal business (i.e. choosing what they want to eat) are already victims of this mad campaign.

In March last year Brighton and Hove Schools started forcing children to avoid meat on mondays

Brighton schools go meat-free for spring term... and longer with your help
http://www.meatfreemondays.com/news/brighton-schools-go-meat-free-for-spring-term-and-longer-with-your-help.cfm

As if schools don't have enough challenges, adding this entirely superflous requirement is more work - at our expense(!) that simply doesn't need to be done.

Lets hope the Green council can get their heads out of the clouds, put their wasteful, expensive loony policies to one side and start delivering on what the people of Brighton and Hove really, want, care about and are prepared to pay for!

(p.s. This is the Freedom of Information request I put in just before posting this http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ meat_free_mondays)

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

UKIP is the most democratic of the four main UK parties.

I can never take it seriously when people talk about UKIP as an independent entity. UKIP is not a separate entity, it is its members. (Dare I say 'there is no such thing as UKIP there are only members and their families...').

Without its members UKIP has and is nothing. There and very, very few 'tribal' UKIP supporters, there are several issues that unite different large groups of UKIP supporters, but it is only the return of power from Brussels to the UK that truly unites all of them.

UKIP has to follow its members wishes, as they will have few qualms about leaving if they don't like the way the party is heading.

This is in strict contrast to the Labour and Conservative parties, who have vast assets both tangible and intangible. They also have millions of tribal voters - people who will support them and vote for them purely because of their name, regardless of their actual policies. These tribal voters are people who are loyal to the very institutions themselves (while I think such blind loyalty is stupid and dangerous, that doesn't change the fact it exists).

The Liberal Democrats are a bit in the middle, they have some such loyalty to their institution/name - but it isn't so ingrained - just look at their current collapse with their policy of supporting(?!) the conservatives in government, and backtracking on their tuition fees pledge - that has done them huge damage - much of it probably permanent.

Labour and Conservative leaders can set policy and their tribes will follow. Liberal Democrats also to an extent. UKIP, nope - policy has to reflect what the members want.

Ultimately this is a good thing, as it is reflected in the UKIP policy towards democracy - a commitment that governments should represent their peoples wishes, governments are not there to act like monarchs dragging their 'subjects' into pointless wars and into bankrupting vanity projects at the whim of some 'great and glorious leader' with his/her eye on their place in the history books.

If UKIP is a party of democracy when we oppose the European Union and its anti-democratic nature, then we must also be a party of democracy in our domestic affairs.
http://www.ukip.org/content/leading-articles/1336-why-we-need-direct-democracy

Why do I write this now? Oh yes - because the subject of the union and devolution is raising its troublesome head - any fix is going to be messy to implement, so ultimately it has to be for the people to decide, and when it comes to the crunch it is the peoples wishes that UKIP will support.

If anyone wants their view to prevail, don't try to foist it on the public by getting the party to back it, you need to persuade the public to back it. Then direct democracy will deliver one way or the other.

My view, for what its worth, is that all the British Isles should all be working together as a model sustainable society. We have a perfect geographical position and structure which we are completely wasting.

(NB: UKIP are the fourth largest party in the UK by size of national vote at the 2010 general election; UKIP are the second largest party in the UK by size of the national vote at the 2009 EU elections)

Monday, 25 July 2011

Will the UK negotiate over EU treaty changes or just roll over? (I think you know the answer already)

The people of the UK were promised a referendum on any major EU treaty changes. They were also promised that the government would, in future, ensure that they put the UK first in all dealings with the EU.

Now there are major treaty changes, and unanimous support required to get the Euro out of its current hole. Will the government put the UK first and get us the best deal? or will the government roll over and simply give away whatever negotiating capital we have?

Clegg says roll over:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jul/21/nick-clegg-david-cameron-eurozone

Osborne pretends to stand firm for the UK:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/eu/8656959/George-Osborne-Well-use-euro-crisis-to-boost-British-interests.html

But in fact Osbourne has already rolled over:
http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/260558/Bail-out-shows-we-need-an-EU-referendum-say-Tories

While Cameron had rolled over along all along:
http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23972297-eurosceptics-in-referendum-call-after-pound-96-and-8201billion-greek-bail-out.do

So after endless "Euro is no business of the UK, cos we ain't in it" we get "We must help the Euro because the Eurozone is critical to UK interests" we are back to "Treaty changes for the Euro are none of our business because it doesn't affect the UK".

UKIP should be taking centre stage saying "There was only ever one way to avoid this Euro disaster. That was for the currency never to have been created. Now... who has been saying that all along? Oh yes! UKIP."

If it is in UK's interest to protect itself by protecting the Economies of all European nations, then it was our governments responsiblity to have prevented the introduction of the Euro in the first place. LibLabCon all failed in this, which is why we are now here.

Blair is still in favour of the UK joining the Euro, Clegg and Cameron call for more EU/Eurozone political integration - what drives their tunnel vision, that they can only see 'More EU' as the answer to everything? Anyone would think they didn't consider themselves competent to run the UK as an independent country, that they only saw themselves as middle managers in the EU organisation.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Brighton and Hove Greens say they respect PR - do they remember they only got 33% of the vote?

In the Brighton and Hove local elections, for the parties with seats the votes went like this:

PartySeatsVote %age
Green Party2333%
Conservative Party1829%
The Labour and Co-Operative Party1332%

The Greens only got one third of the popular vote - they hardly have a 'mandate' for anything!

Personally I am keen to know what they are doing to ensure that council decisions are truly reflective of the popular vote.

With U-Turns they have already accumulated since taking power, I hope they are not looking to exploit the unfair advantage our electoral process can give - like 1/3rd the vote giving 100% of the power?

**edit**
Just for reference, turnout varied from around 35% to 60% - average maybe 45% - so greens got 1/3rd of less 1/2 the electorate - say 15% of the electorate...

Brighton and Hove - Four Green U-Turns

Just keeping track of how Green promises in opposition get ditched once in power. (And you thought pledge reneging was just the Lib Dems speciality following their tuition fees about turn?)

I have covered a couple of these separately before, but thought I'd bring them all together.

1) Kicking travellers off their site.

This was right at the start of Green Rule - before the recent inward flood of travellers, their simultaneous occupation of many sites across the city and the 'toleration' policy.
Green councillors criticised for putting worms before travellers
http://newsfrombrighton.co.uk/brighton-politics/green-party/green-councillors-criticised-for-putting-worms-before-travellers/

Travellers lower than worms for Brighton Greens
http://collectiveresistance.com/2011/05/22/travellers-lower-than-worms-for-brighton-greens/
2) Keeping the Super-Director structure.
Before
Sack the council’s £125k directors, say Brighton and Hove Greens
http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2011/03/sack-the-councils-125k-directors-say-brighton-and-hove-greens/
Green proposal to cut high-paid council officers blocked as alternative budget is published

http://www.brightonhovegreens.org/localsites/bh/news/proposal-to-cut-high-paid-council-officers-blocked-as-alternative-budget-is-published.html
After
Town hall sources stated the Greens felt it was better to work with the system
http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/9045393.Message_sent_to_Brighton_and_Hove_City_Council_staff/

3) Keeping a councillors allowance system that they previously described as excessive.

Greens accused of U-turn on councillors’ allowances

http://newsfrombrighton.co.uk/brighton-hove-city-council/greens-accused-of-u-turn-on-councillors-allowances/

Power corrupts... and oh so quickly for the Greens in Brighton.
http://free-english-people.blogspot.com/2011/06/power-corrupts-and-oh-so-quickly-for.html

4) Restricting top council pay to no more than eight times lowest council pay.
Brighton and Hove Greens - breaking manifesto promises already?
http://free-english-people.blogspot.com/2011/06/brighton-and-hove-greens-breaking.html

It seems that the Greens are bringing in their higher minimum wage for council employees (at the direct expense of many on lower pay that aren't council workers) and chief exec (John Barraddel) is taking a 5% cut that reportedly brings the highest to lowest multiple to 11 times - which still leaves either a 25% pay cut to come at the top, or another 40% rise at the bottom... Which still leaves an earlier question of mine unanswered:
John Barradell - do Brighton Greens think him greedy or simply not worth his pay?
http://free-english-people.blogspot.com/2011/06/john-barradell-do-brighton-greens-think.html

Saturday, 23 July 2011

What were the Norway/Oslo bombings really about?

Its still early days, but this appears to have really been an attack on unrepresentative politics.

A voter decided that the political system was so broken that a violent attack on a political party was more likely to deliver a ‘good outcome’ than anything they could do at the ballot box.

Politicians are always terrified of terrorist attacks on them by those they claim to represent – but I guess this is the natural result of politicians savagely under or misrepresenting some people.

Because the left are committed to big government they will naturally be far more vulnerable (and scared of) attacks on politics.

But given Cameron’s conservatives only difference to Labour is the speed of deficit reduction (5 years rather than labours 10) they may well be just as scared by such events.

Camerons lack of representation of those that elected him was clearly demonstrated this morning – having spent months saying that the Euro and Eurozone was vital to the UK’s interests, he now says no referendum is required on EU treaty changes relating to the Euro and Eurozone because ‘it only affects Eurozone countries’ – he can’t have it both ways. In what way is he accountable for this duplicity?

#UKIP and so called "Ban the Burka" - debunked.

The claim that UKIP want to 'Ban the Burka' comes up now and then - I wanted to blog to clarify this once and for all!

In the UKIP 2010 general election manifesto there was a policy to do two things:
1) Ban face coverings in government buildings.
2) Allow private companies to enforce face covering bans equally.

The first was based on security (allowing CCTV to record people accurately) and for effective communication (i.e. between staff and public, teacher and student etc).

The second was for instances such as banks where they could require people to remove motorcycle helmets etc, but could not ask for religious face coverings to be removed. The policy would have allowed everyone to be treated equally.

It wasn't a major policy, and I wouldn't have bothered to have it in the manifesto. But that is what it was, not a 'Burka ban'.

As a libertarian I don't think it is the states business what someone chooses to wear (or not wear) outside of protecting others safety - roll on the naked bike ride, naked rambler etc.

If women are being forced to wear burkas against their will, they need to be helped and empowered, not attacked from the other side too!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Phone Hacking - Meh! Police and Ministerial cover up, corruption and lies - Serious!

Phone hacking is simply no big deal whatsoever - important message behind a default four digit code? may as well carry a written copy of the message near a photographer with a big lens...

However, the cover-ups, lies, and phoney denials -- especially Police and Ministerial - thats where the meat is.

How could the Met have to such flawed senior officers in charge? How can command pass to the idiot woman who oversaw the shooting of the 100% innocent Jean Charles de Menezes on the London Underground?

How could such unsuitable people be in charge for so long and no-one notice? or at least no-one have any power to call them to account?

ACPO - The association of chief police officers - a private limited company run by and for the benefit of top cops, but *selling* services back to the police/government, so not even subject to Freedom of Information requests, must be disbanded - NOW. These people flourished in its septic atmosphere.

BBC - Likely no better than News Intentional but has limitless funding from the taxpayer - must be broken up.

Any public servant guilty of corruption - dismissed with loss of all benefits - including pension. If already retired (sick or otherwise) claw back what has been paid as well.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Media, Ministers, the Met, Murdoch and Money (1)

News of the World shutting down...

Rupert Murdoch, Boss of News International who own News of the World and other newspapers/TV channels, appears to have strong influence and leverage over the UK Media, UK Police and UK Politicians. Many people have worried about Murdoch's power for a long time, but until now there has not been a specific focus for the anti-Murdoch campaigners.

Now there is a focus for the campaigners - the focus is the voice mail hacking allegations made against the News of the World.

The first really 'nasty' hack appears to have been of Millie Dowler's phone where a journalist (or private detective) not only listened to messages, but deleted old messages so there was space for new messages to be left for them to write news stories about. Since then there have been allegations/revelations that the relatives of dead servicemen being returned from Iraq and Afghanistan had their voice mails listened too also.

There are so many loose ends, its hard to know where to start. I am starting with what I think is a clear issue over police competence or honesty - hopefully we will find out which it is, cock-up or conspiracy?

Millie Dowler's deleted voice mails

It is claimed that when Millie's old voice mails were deleted, this lead to her parents thinking that she may still be alive and checking her messages.

The first question is why, if the police were monitoring her voice mail, they let the mailbox fill up - surely they should have ensured there was space for new messages in case they could provide leads?

Secondly, once they saw that voice mails were being deleted, did they trace the phone that was being used to do the deletions? If they had, it would have led them to the hackers, and immediately ruled out it being Millie making the calls. If they didn't then why on earth not?

Thirdly, having established that it wasn't Millie deleting the messages, why didn't the then trace the source?

Whatever the *real* sequence of events, the story presented so far doesn't make any sense - either the police were incompetent in their investigation, or the story given so far is false.

I have put in a Freedom of Information request to start the ball rolling in finding out which it is...http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Get the UK out of the EU in 2015 - Force Cameron and Miliband hands.

March 2011: Cameron rejected a call for the people to be given an EU in/out referendum
I think we are better off inside the EU but making changes to it
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12689607

June 2011: Miliband rejected a call for the people to be given an EU in/out referendum
Mr Miliband does not believe that a ­referendum on UK membership of the EU is appropriate at this time
http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/253507/Ed-Miliband-rules-out-referendum-on-EU

The next EU (European Union) elections are in 2014, the next UK general election is 2015 - a year later.

Imagine if going in to the 2015 general election the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats had no MEPs (European Union MPs) at all! No incoming government could ignore such a message from us, the UK public.

So I have a cunning plan:

UK MEP's have no real power (All UK MEPs added together only make up 15% of the EU parliament - about the same as Lib-Dems used to get in the UK!).

So...

Love UKIP? Great! Vote UKIP.

Hate UKIP? So what? UK will be out of the EU in a matter of months after the election and will have no MEPs of any party! So vote UKIP anyway.

If any EU sceptic has any reason to not vote UKIP in the 2014 EU elections - lets get it out in the open and address it. This opportunity for removing LibLabCon from the EU parliament is too important to miss.

So is everyone in?

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Green MP Caroline Lucas attacks Brighton's Green led Council

Caroline Lucas has made a statement about the UK not meeting EU air-quality targets. She specifically mentions areas of Brighton and Hove that do not meet the targets, and she blames traffic.

Despite Brighton & Hove’s aspirations of being the UK’s greenest city, Caroline pointed out that standards for nitrogen dioxide are regularly exceeded at 20 sites across the city.

With much of this pollution being caused by traffic, Caroline urged the importance of long-term co-operational measures as opposed to short-term cheats.
(link: Brighton and Hove Free Press)

However, this is at the same time that the Green led council in Brighton and Hove are trying to reduce speed limits in the City from 30mph to 20mph.

Brighton and Hove City Council said speed limit reduction was a "high priority" and is planning to look at where they can force drivers to slow down after the Government announced it would cut restrictions on the use of 20mph limits.
(link: Brighton Argus)

Why is this an issue? Because research shows that a vehicle travelling at 20mph emits more pollutants per mile than when travelling at 30mph! Seems to be by about 15%...


(link: Department of Transport foot of page 3)

As this graph shows, vehicle emissions are much lower at the current 30mph (48kph) than at the Greens preferred 20mph (32kph).

Of course the Greens will have a solution to this contradiction they have created - I don't know precisely what it will be, but I am certain that it will involve us being further inconvenienced and charged more tax. I am certain of this because that is the Greens solution to every problem they create or imagine.

Angry over phone hacking? For gods sake, grow up. (and Hugh Grant)

Eavesdropping is at the core of much journalism.

News of the World hacked phones and made no real secret of it at the time. Well its just a four digit code, hardly the way you'd protect anything precious.

Manipulating peoples messages (like deleting old ones to make more room) is a bit different but even so, it was only to make space for new messages, nothing malicious.

At the time, the News of the World even reported specific messages that they had hacked! it would be obvious to anyone at the time what they were doing - no one saw it as a big deal.

However, payments to police for information are a different matter... But there again, News of the World made no big secret of that, retaining emails detailing the payments.

Why has all this other information come out of News International now? is it the other side of a 'deal' - Police and Politicians haven't protected News International so they are being taken down too?

The other question is whether the police/news international information flow was all one way? Or did news international pass information from illegally hacked messages to the police? And if they did was it used for any prosecution?

If people have been convicted on the basis of police evidence that originated from illegal phone hacking, then I think we can expect a batch of appeals from those convicted on illegally gathered evidence.

ps. I'll single out the dreadful Hugh Grant for a kicking - he sold his soul to the public for his millions - he can't expect privacy, and jumping on the shroud tails of a murdered young girl to advance his own cause is digusting.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Preferring UK based companies is not protectionist - its value for money.

Paying a foreign company £1.4bn for trains costs the UK taxpayer over £3bn, as compared to paying a UK company...

Or paying £1.4bn to a UK company would really have cost less than £0.7bn...

The UK government have just awarded a £1.4bn contract to a company based in Germany for the supply of train carriages.

A company with manufacturing facilities in the UK bid for the contact but lost out to the German company because their bid was more expensive.

Now consider this... a foreign company will take £1.4bn and it will be lost to the UK - lost to its people and the government.

However a UK based company would take £1.4bn and pay out a very large proportion of this to UK based workers as salary - salaries on which income tax and national insurance is paid.

Also part of the £.14bn will go to local suppliers for components that go into the final product, again part of this will then go on to the suppliers employees as salary and attract income tax and national insurance.

All the people receiving salary will spend a good part of that money on other UK goods and services, so paying 20% VAT.

On the back of an envelope, I estimated that half of the original £1.4bn paid out to a UK firm would go straight back to the government as tax!

An other part of this calculation is the loss of jobs in the UK - we don't have full employment, so it is fair to assume that many of the people losing their jobs (both with the main company and its suppliers) will end up on benefits, and so made a direct claim on other taxpayers. I don't know how much this would total - but I suggest that for a £1.4bn german bid to beat a UK bid, the UK bid would have to be around £3.5bn

Notes:

The Thameslink update programme was initiated about 20 years ago and was supposed to be completed by 2000... it is long overdue.

Bombardier (a Canadian owned train manufacturer, with manufacturing facilities in the UK) have recently lost out on a Government contract for new trains for the Thameslink Line.

The contract for the new trains has, instead, gone to the German company 'Siemens'

Bombardier have just laid off 1400 - at least 400 are directly as a result of losing this contract bid.