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Friday, 16 March 2007

Fisk of the year (for me)

Fisk of the year for moi has to be The Croydonian's savage deconstruction of Gordon Brown's latest risible publicity effort signalling savage penalties for smokers in the forthcoming budget.

I don't give a monkey's fart for Gordon's measures - I pay my tobacco duty faithfully to the French and Belgian governments.

Please enjoy it here.
A suitable job for Gordon?

Having received this email invitation:

Peter Smith,Managing director
Smith Holdings,Ltd
Office Address:Mermoz Rue Mz-77
Q18 Dakar,Senegal.


Crystal Holdings Ltd, is in search of a book-keeper/company representatives in the United States,UK,Europe and Asia.This project has been developed in a way not to affect your present job not bring you any form of stress but in order to help take care of those extra costs while you work for us. We are manufacturer and supplier of Batik,Assorted African fabrics,various clothing materials,African art materials and all kinds of furniture's for exports.Our website is under construction and should be ready soon.

Recently, It came to my knowledge that there are lots' of lapses in handling funds coming from our clients in the USA,UK,Europe and Asia which come in forms of cashier's cheque,Company cheque,Money Orders and are not readily cash able outside the United States,Canada and UK,....So we need someone in the US,Asia and UK to work as our representatives and assist us
in processing the payments from our various clients which come in on a weekly,monthly and annual basis.

All you need to do is receive these payments from our clients in your country,.. get it deposited at your bank,Cash it then deduct your percentage( 15% of every payment made) plus transfer charges and forward the balance funds to one of company's representatives via Money gram/Western Union.

Our payments will be issued out in your names and your contact address you shall be providing us,as we would inform our clients to do.Therefore i would require you to send me an email with the following details:

1)Your Full Name and Official Mailing Address
2)Direct Telephone numbers

We would forward these information to our clients and they will start making payments to you as the company's representative in the states,Canada or UK.

Once we have all your details in our records,We would notify you as soon as we confirm that one of our clients is mailing payment across to you.Thanking you in anticipation of your swift and favorable response.

How strong a will do I need to resist responding

1) Gordon Brown, 1 Horse Guards Road, London SW1A 2HQ
2) +44 (0)20 7270 4558
3) Uncertain - currently in temporary post
4) 57 (dob 20/2/51)
Young corpses pile up at Labour's door

As yet another black child lies in a London mortuary after dying in his own blood on a quiet pavement yesterday, there will be no takers for bets that Nu Labour politicos will crowd the media microphones calling for greater state control, more surveillance, harsher penalties and overall for more state interference and authority.

How blind these fools are. In their arrogance and stupidity they do nothing but condemn even more children to violent death. I'm not going to repeat myself every week on this.

Previous blog entries here and here.
The curse of 'Use By' dates

News that we are throwing out 15% of the edible food we buy comes as no surprise to me. For years I have been banging my head against the immutable views of, er, a person close to me that 'use by' dates on food packaging are prescriptive.

How is it that something that's fine to eat at ten to midnight suddenly becomes poison a minute after twelve and must be consigned to the bin as soon as its 'use by' date rolls up?

"Better safe than sorry" usually comes the reply.

"Well, when your mother went into hospital I ate nothing but food past its sell-by dates bought for 50p from the supermarket; I'm still here, aren't I?"

The usual sotto voce reply of "worst luck" doesn't encourage me that I'm making much progress on this one.
Where do old GRP boat hulls go?

In the old days when a wooden boat reached the very end of its useful life, it could be beached high on a spring tide and burned. Glassfibre can't be treated in the same way - so just what happens to all those old GRP hulls? There seem to be three options:-

1. Pay a boatyard to break it up and dispose of it as bulk commercial landfill,

2. Take a chainsaw to it yourself, cut it into very small pieces and sneak these into your wheelie bin over the course of few months, and

3. Offer it for sale. I am convinced this is by far the most common disposal method; there must be tens of thousands of old GRP hulls sold for less than £200 and bought by people who think 'hey, that's a bargain, I could do that up fairly easily ...' only for it to sit in their front garden for about a year before they put it up for sale again. Now if each boat loses say a half percent of it's weight by abrasion damage each time it's moved, each will take only 200 years to disappear ....

Oh, this is available for £125 right now if you're interested. And no, its not mine.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Hayden Phillips publishes report

Hayden Phillips has published his long awaited report into party funding. It makes the very recommendations detailed at length below and which are utterly unacceptable. Available Here.

The campaign starts now. And it's serious.

Labour's fashionable idiots reap the whirlwind

After a decade during which the deeply discredited nostrums of new-Labour idiots have become institutionalised in our education system, should we be surprised that poor white boys are grossly failing? Systems geared towards girls and ethnic minorities, in which adults cannot chastise, and working class white boys are constantly told they are inferior, can produce only one result. A whole generation of failing, confused, disaffected British lads who are deprived of any chance of success. Labour has not only killed social mobility in this country, but has robbed our children of the very aspiration.

It's time to clear the excreta from this Augean stable. Let's undo all New Labour's catastophic reforms, sack all the equality workers from town halls and government departments, exempt teachers from all charges of non-sexual assault and bring back competitive sports and risk and danger for boys.

God, I just so want to put these morons up against a wall.
Immigration: Don't whine, reproduce.

The UN predicts today that the UK's population will rise by 9m, from 60m to 69m, by 2050 as a result of immigration. the UN's previous predictions have been reasonably accurate. However, this assumes the UK doesn't implement a 'closed border' policy with stringent immigration controls. As are many others, I too am concerned about the effects of rapid immigration on our native culture. This is not racist or zenophobic. However, the fault is partly in our own beds hands.

If each British woman had an average of 2.1 children during her lifetime, our native population would remain constant; this is the 'replacement rate'. But British women are not doing the job; 2006 figures demonstrate that they are only bearing on average 1.66 sprogs in their lifetimes. Without immigration at all, the UK population would fall. Now this may seem a 'good thing' to those concerned about space on our island and scarce resources, but in practice it would mean lots of old people and very few young people to earn money to pay taxes to keep them in incontinence pads.

So unless British women start to return from the Boardroom to the Bedroom, the UK will need to 'import' people from abroad. Even if we introduce single status immigration only (i.e. working age people only with no rights at all to bring their families here) we'll still need to import people.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

National Smoking Day

You may not have noticed, but today is National Smoking Day in the UK. It is the day on which all members of the population, whether they smoke regularly or not, are encouraged to 'light up'. I will be doing my bit for this national campaign by distributing cheap French cigarettes to the street people of central London before enjoying lunch on one of our top restaurants with a few close friends and a box of Cohibas.

That smoking has now become extremely sexy is evidenced by the huge number of hits that 'smoking porn' brings up on the search engines; as a sexual fetish it is now up there with shoes.

Happy puffing, all!
MPs don't want to share toilets at Westminster

Sir Kevin Tebbit's report to the house on the grumbles of those delicate orchids, our snout-in-the-trough MPs, doesn't mention whether the presence of Mark Oaten MP in their toilets was of particular concern. It does list a series of grumbles by MPs, including having to share toilets and lifts with members of the public (us) who visit this royal palace, and their preening egos have been offended by Commons staff not showing them enough respect. They complain that they, and not the public who elect them, should be the main focus of Commons facilities and staff.

Whilst Commons waitresses have now been instructed to smile at MPs and compliment them on their choice of swill, there is no news yet on Commons staff having to warm their toilet seats for them, squeeze their toothpaste or provide 'stress relief'. And no news on whether Mr Oaten's particular scatological interests are being fully catered for by Commons staff.
Merkel keeps text of Berlin Declaration secret

EU leaders will not get a chance to see the test of the Berlin Declaration that will mark the 50th birthday of the EU in advance. However, few will be prepared to risk the sort of diplomatic rupture that would follow if any refused to subscribe it. Raedwald has a few ideas where Mrs Merkel can look for inspiration; how about:
During the last few months and weeks I have had in my foreign policy a great helper and previously, in my last speech in this hall, I expressed my thanks to the man who took his stand in support of Germany as a true, great friend, Benito Mussolini. He has thrown into the scale of a just solution the entire force not only of his own genius but of the power which stands behind him. I must also thank the two other great statesmen who at the last minute recognized the historical hour, declared themselves ready to give their support to the solution of one of Europe's most burning problems and who thereby made it possible for me, too, to offer the hand towards an understanding. But above all my thanks fly to the German people which in these long months has never deserted me. . . .. I am proud of my German people! I hope that in a few days the problem of the Sudeten Germans will be finally solved. By October 10 we shall have occupied all the areas which belong to us. Thus one of Europe's most serious crises will be ended, and all of us, not only in Germany but those far beyond our frontiers, will then in this year for the first time really rejoice at the Christmas festival. It should for us all be a true Festival of Peace....

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Marine bands to be sold off?

Just as the government has abolished the annual licence fee for Marine VHF sets, radar and EPIRBS this year comes a hint that they are considering flogging off the airbands. Marine radio has been one of those things that work well; the slow move to Digital Selective Calling (DSC) has meant only that initial contacts are broadcast digitally, with all subsequent communication being analogue. DSC isn't compulsory, and many boaters are happy with their old non-DSC VHF sets.

Stephen Ladyboy Ladyman indicated in a Commons written answer that
The Independent Audit of Spectrum Holdings and the subsequent Government response, agreeing with the audit, found that there is scope for more effective use of public sector radio spectrum. The Office for Communications (Ofcom) and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) are charged with beginning work to introduce Administered Incentive Pricing (AIP—the ‘price mechanism’) to some elements of maritime radio spectrum use, including radar and communications.
This one will need watching. Another email to the RYA I think.

'Cherie Booth gives her reflections on Lent'

So ran the programme trailer on Radio Four this morning.

What, like
"He lent us a million, and got a K; he lent us half a million and got a CBE ....."?

Monday, 12 March 2007

The funding stitch-up in their own words

It is evident that the massive public disillusionment with and cynicism of the way in which the major parties operate have been responsible for the plummet in party memberships and election turnouts. Sixteen million voters can't be bothered to turn out for general elections, and the numbers boycotting local elections are much higher.

Yet still the major parties have convinced themselves that they are in their current form the sole legitimate repositories of our national democracy, to the extent that they can legitimately steal the nation's taxes to maintain their grip on power.

Any funding stitch-up that seizes more public money for these private clubs on the basis of their previous polling results can have only one very predictable result; that even more citizens will desert the polling booths to deprive them of funding. Eventually our government - a choice between Labour or Conservative - could be decided by just a few millions of votes, each one triggering a shower of state gold for its recipient.

Answers given to the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee in April of last year recognise this quite explicitly:
Q67 Dr Whitehead: If Sir Hayden comes up with a conclusion agreed between the political parties that there should be an increase in state funding, how would you feel about that, and what would your views on that be?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I would obviously have to see what the conclusion that he reaches in relation to that was but if he believed, after talking to the political parties, and remember talking to the Electoral Commission as well as any other stakeholders he thought were proper, we would take that extremely seriously. We have asked Sir Hayden to look at it because he brings an independent mind to the issue.
No. Hayden Phillips is not independent - he is biased towards maintaining the status quo, a cosy arrangement whereby centralised parties and Whitehall can do business, without having to take notice of the inconvenient views of constituency voters.
Q69 Dr Whitehead: If Sir Hayden's report does indeed come out with perhaps a suggested increase in state funding for political parties, and all parties have agreed, perhaps the members of the public at the conclusion of that process might consider they were somewhat being stitched up.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: That is why, it seems to me, there are three other important elements, firstly this is not something being done by the Government, it is the recommendations of somebody independent; secondly the views of the Electoral Commission are absolutely critical in relation to this and, thirdly, the recommendations that Sir Hayden Phillips produces have got to be ones which carry public confidence.
So the recommendations are going to fail on all three legs of this particular stool, then.
Q73 Dr Whitehead: Have you given any consideration, in the context of the possible way the report might come out, as to how state funding might operate in practice? The Short money, for example, is allocated on a formula which combines votes and seats. Would you see that formula as being the right formula or are there other ways in which you think state funding might be allocated?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I have given some thought to it. There are problems about practically every formula you introduce. Most formulas that depend upon the votes cast in the last or the one before the last general election will tend to favour established parties, but it is very difficult to come up with any formula that does not favour to some extent those who are already established as a party. Again, ultimately that has got to be an issue for Sir Hayden Phillips to address and come up with a sensible solution to.
Of course Helena Kennedy's Power Inquiry came up with a perfectly workable solution to this; voters take a separate ballot paper into the booth to grant a small annual amount on their own behalf only to a political party active in the constituency. Or not to grant anything at all. And the party to which they grant funding need not be the one they are voting for. But this solution, which is not guaranteed to keep the two big parties in power, has been willfully ignored.

Finally, Falconer parrots the empty nostrum common to political imbeciles of either party;
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: One of the things that have got to be addressed in relation to state funding is how you engage people more in politics. One aspect of that is engaging people much, much more in party politics, making people keen to be a member of a party.
It is a specious, risible and utterly discredited view that people are disengaged from politics. People are powerfully engaged with politics. What they are disengaged from are the two main parties as they are currently constituted.

This willful blindness threatens our nation and our democracy. We must NOT allow a political funding stitch-up on the terms expected from Phillips. Never.
There must be something in the water ....

Compton Mackenzie, English-born Scots author of Whisky Galore and Monarch of the Glen and co-founder of the Scottish National Party, was almost seventy when he attended the wedding reception of Gerald Lascelles and Angela Dowding in 1953. It was a glittering society event, attended by, amongst others, the groom's grandmother, Queen Mary.

It was surely age therefore that caused Sir Compton to bow deeply to the wedding cake, mistaking it for the elderly Queen. An obituary for the late Angela Lascelles may be found in the Telegraph.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Hayden Phillips to report this week

Battlelines are being drawn in expectation of the publication of Whitehall apple-polisher Hayden Phillips' report on party funding. The Telegraph thinks it will be on Thursday 15th that we get a chance to see exactly how the main parties propose to stitch-up a tax theft deal.

Critical to Labour will be the continuation of mass union funding, despite a massive slump in union membership and waves of unionists choosing to opt-out of making donations to a party that has frozen social mobility, locked millions into state poverty and failed abysmally to make any meaningful reforms of either health or education.

Both big parties will probably continue to ascribe the expected appallingly low turnouts at May's local elections to 'apathy'. Low turn outs are nothing of the sort; people are powerfully engaged with local issues. They are, instead, scornful of attempts by the two parties to maintain a centrist stranglehold on British politics. Commissar Hazel Blears has recently set out her case for state funding in the Guardian;

' increase in state support for better policy-making, and political training for candidates is in everybody's interests'
No, dear. State support to central parties to fund slick, professional party policy machines and manufacture cloned party candidate blow-ins to local constituencies is exactly what we don't want. Central party funding must come from general donations and whatever cash local parties choose to remit. Policy making and training must be at the local level. MPs must put constituency first and party second. You really don't understand that, do you?

Blears goes on to say

'It is also vital that Sir Hayden respects the lineage and traditions of the main parties.'
In other words, it is vital that Sir Hayden builds in a bias to maintain the status quo.

'state support must act as an incentive to reach more voters and make better policy.'
God, it's like talking to a brick wall. Voters will not come flocking back to the polling booths because the central parties' snake-oil salesmen take to wearing a slightly less repugnant aftershave.

'The (union) link gives the Labour party much more than a valuable income. It gives us an anchor in the concerns and realities of the British workplace, a hotline which all the opinion polls and focus groups in the world could never match. We get incalculably better policy as a result.'
Ah yes. These would be the workplaces in which the main concerns are tax levels, road pricing, a criminally inept foreign policy, an illegal war, surveillance and all the apparatus of a police state, a faltering economy, and sleaze, greed and corruption at the heart of government, would they?

I'd start to take more water with it, dear.
News of the Screws Subs Screwup

I expect they were too busy looking at the pictures.