Saturday, 29 May 2010

Laws

Laws. Lex dura sed Lex.

He offended. He's now done entirely the proper thing and resigned. However, if this extremely able and talented man doesn't return to government at some point, the nation will be the loser. A quick, clean resignation means a shorter spell in the sin bin.

That's all. Carry on.

Who should travel First Class?

With MPs still simmering about losing their First Class travel perks, the question as to who should travel First Class crops up, to which the popular answer seems to be anyone who pays for it themselves.

This is a blow to the Managerialists who have so screwed our national stratification in their grubby climb to the peak, displacing traditional professionals as they go. Their triumph is the new official government Socio-Economic Classification table; it used to be that doctors, lawyers, clergy and officers occupied the top slot. No longer. The new managerial regime places senior civil servants and MPs right at top of the tree;
GROUP 1111 - SENIOR OFFICIALS IN NATIONAL GOVERNMENT
Job holders in this unit group formulate and ratify legislation and government policy, act as elected representatives of either Parliament, European Parliament, Regional Parliaments or Assemblies, act as representatives of the government and direct the diplomatic operations of government departments
RELATED JOB TITLES
Assistant secretary/Grade 5 (government)
Diplomat
Member of European Parliament
Member of Parliament
Permanent secretary (government)
But these are exactly the sort of people that the British public don't reckon are worth First Class fares; indeed, a sizeable chunk of the electorate wouldn't even give them a bicycle.

But then it's clear that after eight years of work in compiling the new classification, those clever statisticians still don't understand the most basic distinction between Parliament and Government. An MP isn't a 'Senior official in National Government'. In fact, the whole new SEC is an enormous pile of Managerial crap, and wholly ignored by the real statistical industry which continues to use the old ABC1C2DE classification.

So who should travel First Class, given that we won't pay for those above to do so? Well, from my observation, the following;

- Senior sales reps on expenses
- Wives of successful Estate Agents
- Elderly couples on rail company promotions
- High scale prostitutes
- City figures who've never accepted the Big Bang that let chaps with white socks into the place
- Theatre, film and TV agents, hairdressers and costume supervisors
- Wives of successful charlatans and frauds

In fact, politicians and their dags fitted in pretty well in First Class. Their removal to Second Class (sorry, 'Standard' or 'Silver' or whatever) can only lower the standard of travel that the rest of us enjoy.

Friday, 28 May 2010

IDS please note

I have a lot of time for Ian Duncan Smith, but less so for his slightly hissy threat to the Treasury that unless he gets £3bn for welfare reforms he'll walk. Is he just another central Statist, or does he really have what it will take to reform Welfare? Read this from Anthony Hilton in the Standard;
The long-term challenge this country faces is not the deficit, because with common sense and political will it can be managed almost as comfortably as a similar deficit was in 1993. Rather the danger is that we will get back on an even keel without ever having to confront the fact that we have a dysfunctional benefits system, which has created a hugely corrosive dependency culture in a significant slice of the population and now serves as a huge drag on our ability to compete.

Above all it has destroyed the work ethic. By some estimates 70% of the million or so jobs created in this country between 1997 and 2007 went to immigrants, including even the lower-end services jobs in construction, retail and restaurants, because native British workers either did not have the skills or did not want to do the work.

Too much of our economic resource is ill educated, unskilled and unproductive, but if we are ever going to compete with Asia a way has to be found to motivate, mobilise and utilise it. This is where insurance comes in. Roughly a quarter of government expenditure goes on benefits of some form or another —unemployment, sickness, housing, residential care, pensions, top-up payments — and we can self evidently no longer afford it, neither in terms of the direct costs, nor in the way it distorts human behaviour.

Benefits are in fact the state's way of providing the population with risk management against life's uncertainties, but this is exactly the business of insurance.

So when Breedon talks of insurance as being part of the solution he opens the door to a world where much of this provision of benefit is transferred back from the state to the individual.

Payments would come not from people paying taxes and collecting benefits from the government, but from people paying premiums and collecting benefits from the insurance industry.

In the past the idea has been too radical for politicians to contemplate it but if this crisis does nothing else it provides political cover for contemplating such a move. What is needed is an open-minded examination of how best to provide and pay for basic levels of social protection and then do what is rational, not what is dictated by outdated political dogma.
Thatcher's one time advisor and one of my heroes, Ralph Harris of the IEA, was adamant that insurance enabled Britain's working class to be independent and maintain a strong identity, a pervasive work ethic and enormous self-reliance. The last word I think must go to Arthur Seldon of the IEA;
I was appalled by the insensitivity of governments to the efforts of the working classes to help themselves - the belief that they could not do all the necessary things. I began to sense a sort of anti working class sentiment in all parties. They wanted the State to do these things. They didn't like people to do things for themselves. They thought that ordinary people weren't capable. They forgot all the history of the working classes. The records are that the working classes were sending their children to schools by the 1860s. They were insuring for health cover and so on by 1910 - 11 when all parties in England, the main ones Tory and Liberal, with people like Lloyd George and Churchill and Beveridge at the centre, passed the infamous act of 1911 which forced the working class to insure with the State despite the fact that nine tenths of them were already covered by private systems. Politicians seemed to me to be saying you are not capable, you need us to ensure you take care of your families, which was nonsense.
Finally, I'd like to push you in Guthram's direction for details of a forthcoming series of events coordinated by the Cobden Centre; exactly the sort of thing we need to be talking about.

Bye bye NO2ID, hello to ...

For the past three(?) years the RH column of this blog has been decorated with a little 'NO2ID' icon, linking to this campaign. It was with great satisfaction this morning that I removed it.

Now that the stinking veil has been lifted on the petty repressions and tyrannies of Labour's command State, now that we're emerging from their hateful mistrust of the British people, now that we've escaped a regime that would have catalogued and tagged us like penned animals it's becoming clear that all my ire and vituperation against Labour during their years in power was wrong. It was too mild.

Now that we can look back without the pressure of their heavy hand it's becoming clearer that Labour were pure evil; slavers who mouthed the honeyed platitudes of anti-slavery, eco-warriors who soiled and polluted everything they touched, distributionists who re-distributed most to themselves, leaving a massive cohort of our people enslaved in Welfarism and dependence. Rarely has such wrong been done to a people by its government than under Labour's thirteen years in power.

We must continue the fight to ensure that Labour's poisonous and malevolent influence is eradicated from every corner of public life for ever. The most urgent imperative now is to prevent a single penny of tax funds being paid to this wicked and pernicious organisation, and that means blocking ALL tax funding of parties.

No 2 ID may have gone, but I have a feeling that No 2 State Funding may be nascent.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Hitler would have been a Guardian reader

I've found confirmation this morning of what I've long suspected - that Hitler, were he alive today, would be a Guardian reader. Not only the vegetarianism and the fervent anti-smoking fetish, but the full kagoule and sandals;
"having to change into long trousers was always a misery to me. Even with a temperature of 10 below zero, I used to go about in lederhosen. The feeling of freedom they give you is wonderful. Abandoning my shorts was one of the biggest sacrifices I had to make… Anything up to five degrees below zero I don't even notice. Quite a number of young people of today already wear shorts all the year round; it is just a question of habit. In the future, I shall have an SS Highland Brigade in lederhosen."
And forget scientific meteorology;
"Weather prediction is not a science that can be learnt mechanically. What we need are men gifted with a sixth sense, who live in nature and with nature – whether or not they know anything about isotherms and isobars. As a rule, obviously, these men are not particularly suited to the wearing of uniforms. One of them will have a humped back, another will be bandy-legged, a third paralytic. Similarly, one doesn't expect them to live like bureaucrats. These human barometers would be people who understand the flights of midges and swallows, who can read the signs, who feel the wind, to whom the movements of the sky are familiar. Elements are involved in that kind of thing that are beyond mathematics. They would have telephones installed in their homes free of charge and would predict the weather for the Reich and be flattered to have people relying on their knowledge"
A colour supplement short of a Saturday edition, methinks.

Little Ships set out



In about half an hour, the still-seaworthy amongst the Little Ships that lifted the BEF from the beaches of Dunkirk will sail from Ramsgate to recreate that journey. Some will be like grandfather's axe but still be the boats that make that heroic passage 70 years ago. Others will be absent, now too frail to pilot anything other than the calm reaches of the non-tidal Thames. Others will have become victims of age, rust and want of care.

One such is the Medway Queen, an old paddle steamer that after sinking twice at her mooring, with a disintegrating hull, eventually won enough money from the HLF for a new hull, now under construction. Grandfather's axe. Her superstructure sits on bits of borrowed dockside about the place, waiting the new hull. We wish her, and her restorers, well, and look forward to see her making her stately progress down the Swale for a future Ramsgate event.

Best wishes to Richard North

Best wishes to Richard North for a speedy recovery after his recent scare; and he's right, an occasional reminder of our mortality is no bad thing. The V&A renaissance galleries used to have some wonderful little coloured wax momenti mori, putrescent cadavers with the flesh half flayed from the bone, that our forebears would keep on their desks to remind them of the fate of us all.

When Richard's up and about no doubt he'll be blogging over at Defence of the Realm on the FOI revelation in the Times today that feasibility work on the new FRES vehicle for the army has cost over £200m. Whilst not able to offer an expert opinion on this, I can share what we'd expect in the construction industry.

A design consortium in this day and age may get a fee of 9% of construction cost for an innovative and complex building. On top of this may have been feasibility work - Stage A & B in RIBA terms - which is usually time charged, but will be unlikely to exceed 2% of construction cost unless poorly managed.

The MOD's budget for buying the new set of vehicles is £2bn. Feasibility costs are therefore already at 10% even before detailed production design has begun. If this were a construction job, it would be time to change the team. The actual vehicle is not expected to enter service until 2013 / 2014, and a MOD spokesman said 'Considering the overall size of the programme and its importance in equipping our Armed Forces this is not an excessive assessment-phase spend.'

Perhaps the MOD needs some experienced construction managers to run its procurement programme.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Cameron fast-tracks voting equality for Scotland and Wales

This blog wholly and unequivocally supports, without any reservation, full voting equality for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. That is to say, full voting equality with England. We are one United Kingdom, and each Parliamentary constituency should be made up of the same number of eligible voters. The reality is that the Western Isles with 22,000 voters return a single MP as does the Isle of Wight with 108,000 voters and that this stinks.

Cameron's announcement today that a fast-track boundary review to be completed within a year will be presented to Parliament together with the referendum proposals on the AV vote system in May 2011 is welcomed, though it will cause agony to the comrades. Finally our government is bringing fairness to our electoral system - though not the sort of 'fairness' that Brown bleated about, which was rather the entrenchment of discrimination.

The Electoral Quota, the number of
registered electors per constituency that should define the boundaries of each seat, is currently around 69,000 - 45m registered electors and 650 Constituencies. In Australia, this is not allowed to vary by more than +/- 3.5%, and in New Zealand it's 5%. If 5% were applied to the UK, all seats with fewer than 65,550 electors or more than 72,450 would be re-drawn. In %age terms, the UK is off the scale of international democracy.

Many of those seats with fewer than 65,550 voters are held by Labour. Many of those with more than 72,450 are Conservative. So the comrades will howl at losing their unfair advantage.

Increasing the Electoral Quota (EQ) to 78,000 across the Union - and there are real suggestions that this is what Cameron intends to do - will also reduce the number of Parliamentary seats from 650 to 577. New seats, if the New Zealand 5% limit is adopted, will have between 74,100 and 81,900 registered voters.

Scotland's current EQ is 54,728, giving them 71 MPs. If a national EQ of 78,000 were applied, that would reduce to 50. Wales has an EQ of 55,640, giving them 40 MPs. This would reduce to 29.

Labour say that this is unfair because their supporters are less likely to register. Duh? From the rampant electoral fraud that has recently emerged, it seems more likely that Labour voters actually register religiously - and several times, too.

OK, as a Localist you might expect me to oppose any reduction of local representation. Not the case. Since I also believe that Parliament should confine itself to national issues that cannot be devolved, including defence, international treaties, air traffic control, the justice system and a few others, I also believe the need is not for more MPs at Westminster but much greater local democratic representation and much greater local power.

The only fly in the ointment is the no-doubt LibDem initiative in the air for State funding of the parties - and this I will go to the barricades to fight. As for the rest, bring it on!

It's Wednesday - it must be Italy

No doubt Portugal's turn will come by the end of the week, but the early morning financial gloom today is centred on Italy. Hatfield Girl is the expert on the ancient peninsula, but I can't help wondering if all the old internal tensions - between North and South, communist and fascist, rich and poor, church and tavern - will start to bubble away again. And if they do, will this be wholly a bad thing?

It's a long time now since Garibaldi awakened in Italians an identity other than Piedmontese, Calabrian, Sicilian or Tuscan, slightly longer even than since Bismark used the customs union to create a German identity from a mash of princeling statelets. The EU, of course, has adopted exactly the tactics used for German unification, with a pan European Zollverein that created the need for a pan European currency that would lead to a pan European Chancellorship. But this time it hasn't played out with an acclamation in the Hall of Mirrors, but with Europe's people bubbling angrily away and the IMF at the door.

In the 19th century, folk learned to be less Piedmontese and more Italian, less Bavarian and more German. And we know where that got us. So when the EU wants us to be less British, less Italian, less German and more European they think they're pulling the same trick. Except that the peoples of Europe are now comfortable with their nationality and less willing to lose it. The slow death of the Euro will hit us all hard, but from that crucible may re-emerge across the Continent a popular fire and passion for democracy that has been lost in a Mogadon syrup of social democratic consensus these part forty years.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Plenty to cut still ...

Yesterday's little tickler was a decent start, but there's plenty of room for further cuts. Just a couple of comments for today;

Audit Commission £209m
Half the Audit Commission's work is fine. This is the bit that sends auditors into public-funded bodies to ensure probity and good stewardship of public funds, and that no-one has their fingers in the till.

The other half of the AC's work is to impose a centralist, Statist and homogenous system of Whitehall command and control across what are essentially local services; their self-invented system of scoring and marking enables them to coerce non-conforming and independent bodies into following central diktat. This bit must go.

Savings? An easy £100m p.a. here.

Homes and Communities Agency £4,505m
Social housing and regeneration. This is the body that funds all those Housing Associations currently buying-up your closed neighbourhood pubs and turning them into bedsits for Albanians. Also pumps money into the old Labour heartlands to retrain redundant tin-bashers in windmill maintenance. Some good work in bringing forward polluted sites for development (where de-polluting costs otherwise make sites uneconomic to develop).

Since immigration levels drive the need for new social housing, effective action on immigration will substantially reduce demand. And tax-breaks for investors is an equally if not more effective way of securing regeneration.

Savings? An easy £2.5bn a year here.

That's enough for today.

A boar's life

Those of you not up early enough to enjoy 'Farming Today' on R4 are missing something comedic. We've just heard of a sensible boar; "The heat lowers his sperm quality, so in this weather he just wallows all day in a deep mud pit not doing very much and keeping his testicles cool".

Yesterday on site I had to remind the site manager of our potential legal liability for sun damage to his topless workforce. The lads always dismissed the idea of sun-screen until Greenham Safety began producing it in 5ltr tubs; squirting stuff onto your palm from a little bottle is 'girly' but scooping a handful of gloop from a tub is OK, it seems. The tubs are now out.

But I can't help but feeling that the boar has a better time of it.

Monday, 24 May 2010

The Fake Charities, too, belong on Osborne's bonfire

The insidious corruption of Labour's era ran deep, even into an area that was traditionally politically neutral, that of charities. It is not the business of government to give taxpayers' money to charity, and even less to corrupt such charities by 'buying' a politically convenient message. Yet Labour did so on a tyrannical scale. Labour's civil servants used a spurious process of 'contracts' and 'commissioning' to use charities, or the 'third sector' as they preferred to term them, to deliver elements of government policy. "Look" they said, "You've got a recognised and respected name and a network of volunteers across the country. We'd like you to help deliver our message on children's bedtimes under the 'Lights Out By Nine' campaign; in return we'll give you £0.5m a year for three years." Many otherwise uncorrupt charities found the lucre too attractive to resist.

But there are suspicions that the corruption got even worse than this. That Labour actually set up new charities, packed the boards with Labour placemen and a Chief Executive on a fat salary, with the intention of deceiving the public about the origin of political messages.

And yet still more Labour funding to left-message charities was simple gerrymandering, using tax funds to buy the payroll vote.

Each government department and every local authority is used to channel tax money to doubtful and spurious charities. The Department of Health is a good example; here is their 2009/10 'Third sector investment programme', including the following;
Action on Smoking and Health - £210,000
Alcohol Concern - £450,000
Both are fully Fake Charities, with only around 1% of their income from public donations. Then there are the bribes and 'dash' to keep the payroll sweet;
£199,830 - to the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations - 'Supporting Third Sector Leaders'
Then there are the francs-tireurs, Fake Charities formed by Labour to snipe at an incoming Conservative government from behind the lines; 'National Voices' got £200,000 of tax money last year from the DH. Who they?
"Formed in 2008, National Voices is a coalition of more than 200 national health and social care organisations, coming together to ensure a stronger voice for all those who come into contact with the NHS and care services, and the voluntary organisations that help them. Our independence of Government, and our wide representation, rooted in service user experiences, gives us the authority we need to influence decision makers."
You may be choking on your cornflakes by now at that 'Our independence of Government'. National Voices' last filed accounts for 2008 show that of total income of £788,000 just £40 came from public donations, £78,450 came from pharmaceutical companies and the balance, 90% of its funding, was tax money - £380,000 of it from the DH in 2008.

Go through the list yourself. Then imagine it replicated by every other Whitehall department. And by every local authority. How many hundreds of millions of our tax money have been pissed away by Labour in this way?

It needs to end. Now.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

ACPO start the fight-back

That ACPO would co-ordinate a campaign of obstruction, distortion and disinformation in opposition to plans to introduce accountability to our police forces was not a difficult prediction for me to make; nor was the expectation that they would cry 'they don't know what they're doing'.

On 14th May I wrote;
We wish Mr Herbert well. In his jazz-loving Secretary of State he has an ex-Home Secretary and a QC with substantial gravitas and experience enough to counter Orde's coming accusation that Cameron's government is dealing with matters they don't understand.
Today the Observer reports;
One police source said the policies contained within last week's 34-page programme for government indicated that the new coalition had "no understanding of what policing is about".
Well, if the senior structure of the Met is anything to go by, what policing is mostly about is business meetings. Lots and lots of business meetings, emails, policy documents and the whole panoply of introverted, sterile, inward-focused bureaucracy. The Met has 38 senior officers of the rank of Commander and above - a small acre of silver braid - and they spend most of their time having meetings, and not only with each other. No, the Met's Commissioner, four Assistant Commissioners, seven Deputy Assistant Commissioners and twenty-six commanders have decided they need a further forty-nine senior civilian managers, equivalent to Commander or above, with whom to drink tea and discuss Modernisation. Don't believe me? Here they are;

Director of Information
Director of Resources
Director of Human Resources
Director of Public Affairs
Director of Legal Services
Strategic HR Director
Director of HR Operations
Director of Leadership Development
Director ofLogistical Services
Director of Catering Services
Director of Transport Services
Business PartnershipsDirector
Business Services Director
Strategic HR Director (2)
Strategic HR Director (3)
Programme & Information Manager
Director of Property Services
Director of Finance Services
Director of Strategy & Improvement Department
Director of Procurement Services
Director of Asset Management
Director of Construction
Director of Facilities Management
Director of Resilience & Compliance Group
Director of Commercial Operations
Director of Exchequer Services
Director of Business Development, Core Finance & Special Projects
Director of Business Support
Director of Business Strategy
Director of Business Performance
Director of Category Management
Director of Supply Chain Management
Head of Service Delivery
Head of Security, Standards & Architecture
Head of Business Systems & Integration
Head of Business Services & IT Training
Deputy Director of Information
Head of Technology
Deputy Director of Public Affairs
Assistant Director (Olympics)
Assistant Director (Head of Internal Communication)
Assistant Director (Chief Press Officer)
Director of Business Development
Director of Diversity and Citizen Focus
Director of Business Support
Director of Forensics
Head of Business Services (Human Resources)
Head of Business Services(Finance and Resources)
Director of Business Services


I think, Mr Orde, that we understand very well what your sort of policing is about.

The tiniest spark of sanity from Brussels?

There are no greater bigoted and xenophobic bureaucrats than those of the EU who infest Brussels like little nationalist cockroaches. For decades, they've loathed the free global market in IT that has seen US software and operating systems establish global dominance. They can't even bring themselves to embrace the US' GPS satellite system, wanting to duplicate it with a racially pure European version. And asking a Eurocrat to use Google is like asking Goebbels to sit down to a dinner of matzah balls and gefilte fish; at one stage they poured millions into a rival 'pure' European search engine that collapsed ignominiously. You see, the one thing these Federasts could never get their bigoted brains around is that the consumer market decides what succeeds and doesn't in the world of IT; they can issue diktats to their heart's content from Brussels but without an import ban or swingeing trade tariffs, the public will make their own minds up.

There's therefore a tiny but astonishing spark of sanity from Brussels in this piece reporting the proposal to equip MEPs with Apple iPads. Soon. Even a couple of years ago, there would have been an ill-tempered announcement that the EU was investing a billion Euros in developing a pure European mobile device, with the Greeks designing the keyboard, the Italians the display, the French the operating system and the Germans the case. The European version would also make coffee and detect illegal incandescent light bulbs. The EuroPad would have a planned launch date of 2017 and an estimated cost of €8,000.

Is this a sign that reality is actually penetrating the fantasy world that the Federasts have made for themselves?