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Saturday, 4 December 2010

It's not sick leave, it's theft

Being a policeman is not the most dangerous job in Britain. It's not even close to being the most dangerous job. The construction industry, mining, quarrying, fishing and even window cleaning are all professions with many times the risk of work-related injuries and fatalities than policing. Even amongst the emergency services, firemen face far greater risks to health than the police. So as the 'Times' tells us today (no link, £) that 10% of the police we employ are either on sick leave or 'restricted duties' at any one time one smells a very big rat.

Police work-related sickness or inability to work should be no greater than any of the professions that are inherently more risky in occupational health terms, yet it outstrips them by far. It is clear that coppers, with the connivance of their bosses, are faking illness to an extent unheard of even amongst the cosseted ranks of pre-Thatcher dockers or print workers. And it's costing us a small fortune. And let's be clear. It's not swinging the lead, it's not skiving, it's not sick leave; it's theft. 

Thursday, 2 December 2010

UK fails to offer big enough bribes to FIFA judges

FIFA judges were said to be 'extremely disappointed' at the UK's goody bag, delivered yesterday. It was reported to have contained a copy of "British Football Heroes" by a G. Brown, a CD single by Victoria Beckham, a tea towel with a picture of a Beefeater on it and a Cadbury's selection box. In contrast, the Russian goody bags were reported to have contained the number to a safety deposit box containing $1m, 300g of finest uncut Columbian marching powder and 30 day-tickets to Montmartre's finest whorehouse. FIFA awarded Russia full points for "a bid that demonstrated a complete understanding of the needs of the world of international soccer".

Assange is the wrong target

It is not only the moral right, but the moral duty of those on the inside of governments or organisations that undertake illegal, subversive or seditious activities to expose the wrongdoings to public view. We must defend and protect such whistleblowers absolutely, for in their conscience rests the warranty of our democracy. However, it is also completely right and proper for any nation to use its network of diplomats and consuls to gather political, military and economic intelligence to the benefit of that nation, within the limits of the law. There is nothing to suggest the information now appearing on Wikileaks exposes anything improper in any way. The US government therefore has a just expectation that its employees, agents and servants will keep it secret. The leaker, the insider, must be prosecuted to the limits of the law.

However, there is a view that the blood of probable leaker, a very junior soldier, will not be enough to assuage the thirst for vengeance, and that the publisher, Assange, will provide a far more satisfactory victim. This view is mistaken. 

Once the information is out, it's out. If Wikileaks is guilty then so is every mainstream media outlet in the world that has re-published the information. If Assange is guilty, then so is the BBC. The US government must take this one on the chin. The chance to shut down a valuable platform for legitimate leaks is a temptation to many governments, but it must be resisted. These leaks aren't justified, and should never have happened, but Assange is the wrong target. 

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Back Spain for 2018

There is no better venue in the world for the 2018 World Cup than Spain. With a language that unites the old world and the new, a network of modern stadia and a transport infrastructure that makes Britain's look Neanderthal, Spain also has Sun, the Med and pretty girls, many of them without even a trace of a moustache. Top class hotels, world class cuisine, superlative art and architecture and, even with recent price rises, some of the cheapest drink and cigarettes in Europe. C'mon, where would you rather spend the Summer? Barcelona or Bromsgrove? 

You know it makes sense. Back Spain for Eighteen. 

The real meaning of public health

I can think of ten pathologies more basic and urgent than the DoH's and their puppet Lansley's priorities:

1. Rickets - on the upsurge
2. Multi drug resistant TB - A real worry in parts of London
3. Head and body lice - even nice middle class kids get them these days
4. Vermin - rats, mice, foxes, squirrels, cockroaches, bedbugs
5. Sexually transmitted disease - chlamydia is sterilising thousands, HIV is rampant amongst hetero Africans
6. Food hygiene - adulteration
7. Port health - ports and airports, disease screening
8. Birth defects due to first cousin unions
9. Faecal hygiene*
10. Malnutrition

* Always wear gloves on public transport, particularly if you smoke. Viruses like the Winter Vomiting bug are transmitted by people not washing their hands properly after shitting, and transferring minute particles of faecal matter onto handrails, grab bars, door buttons etc. which you then touch, and transfer to your lips if you have a ciggie.   


As concrete batching plants across the nation stand idle, and brickies count the cost of lost earnings, construction schemes in their early stages are clocking up lost time. This is when trad construction loses out to off-site fabrication, or when those schemes that started early enough to have finished the building envelope can struggle on. If the suburban trains were working, obv, which they don't seem able to do. You'd be surprised how many construction workers in London are dependent on public transport. 

Yesterday the office emptied by stealth as I was on a long phone call. When I started the call, full office. When I looked around as I replaced the handset, empty office. They'll get some stick this morning. 

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

"Want bitty!"

We must applaud the EU measures to enshrine the right to breastfeed their babies, infants and juniors in public in law. As Ann Sinnott remarks in her book 'Breastfeeding older children', society reserves some odd looks for the mother who wishes to continue to breastfeed up to the age of eleven or so in public. But what better reward could there be at the school gates for a tired Year Seven pupil having just endured SATS and double history than to put down his text-books and take up mother's open and waiting breasts?

The sight of an eight year old suckling greedily away on the bus or the train whilst adjusting his iPlayer may not be to everyone's taste, but the Eurocrats are brave enough to withstand the disapproval that will roll across the Manche Francais. And indeed, what could be more natural and welcoming than being served in McDonalds by a young African woman with her infant at hip and clamped to her nipple?

In fact the whole idea of women wearing clothing at all is an alien and unnatural concept, and Europe should return to an Eden-like naturalness where women feel free to go about in public without any clothing whatsoever. 

"I can't help it" is a crock

The victim culture, in which no-one is responsible for anything at all, in which every malfeasor is either a victim of another malfeasor or, when one can't be identified, of the fates themselves, has been condemned here many times. As has the destructive fatalism that denies any measure of self-determination - a fatalism at the heart of Socialism. I've never been able to demolish the fallacies, though, quite as effectively as Thomas Bertonneau does currently on Brussels Journal. Well worth a read. 

"In The Golden Ass, Apuleius depicts a world poisoned by its vices and redoubled in its morbidity by a pervasive exculpatory invocation of Fate, an agency that the rabble and the upper class alike commonly nominate as the supreme principle of a grab-as-can existence. Under the doctrine of Fate, desire propels the subject like an irresistible destiny, and no one – or hardly anyone – so much as tries to fight against immediately satisfying his basest urges in any way that he can. People throng the arenas to see the spectacle of gladiatorial combat; they crowd the brothels to liaise with prostitutes. People cheat, betray, and murder one another; and they insouciantly debase the traditional forms (morals, customs) that betoken an older, healthier, non-disgruntled world, in which responsibility and obligation trumped mere appetite."

Jim Devine faces bankruptcy

"Mr Devine? We have good news and bad news ... OK, bad news first then. You'll appear in court with Chaytor and Morley - all Labour lads together, eh? - in February of next year charged with theft and false accounting. I wouldn't discount a custodial sentence. Oh, and you might have to use a legal aid solicitor or 'trainee' as we call them, from now on. Since you haven't paid Marion a penny of her £35k Tribunal compensation, she's putting a charge on your Scottish house and planning to raid the Commons resettlement grant - your redundancy wedge - that the House is still holding. So your plans to use these to pay your legal bills is screwed." 

"On the up side, if you do get a custodial sentence the chances are you'll be able to serve your time in a Scottish prison; that means a new LCD telly in your cell with all the Freeview channels enabled, including the late-night porn. Let's just hope your cell-mate doesn't want to watch the gay channel, eh?" 

Monday, 29 November 2010

Lansley's window taxes

Andrew Lansley has gone native already. Just a few months with the ascetic fanatics at the Department of Health and they already feel comfortable with bringing out the whole panoply of Nanny measures that have been kept in the draw since the Coalition came to power. Once you let these joyless ninnies take an inch they'll grab an ell, and Lansley now gets to introduce a White Paper that contains possibly the most risibly pointless collection of compulsory health measures since the Reich banned smoking in cinemas during bombing raids.

The White Paper will propose that the State will fix card readers - or more probably RFIDs or card writers - to millions of lamp columns, pillar boxes, litter bins and other items of public street furniture, that every schoolchild in the country will be issued with a card containing a chip that will register the RFIDs to which it has been presented. A card with a 'full house' of RFIDs can then be exchanged for shopping vouchers or cinema tickets. Yes, really. They seriously think this will get children walking to school. There's some gormless moron at the heart of the DoH patiently explaining to an also none-too-bright Lansley that this is called 'nudge' and it's the next big thing. 

Except of course it's nothing of the sort. It's just the same old central Statism, the same old Nannying, the same old 'we know better and we'll spend your tax money proving it'. And the idea itself is so patently absurd, so lunatic, so disconnected to any reality that it shows they've learned nothing at all.   

At a time when Pickles is removing the most pointless of the obligations that Whitehall has required local councils to administer, Lansley and his lunatics at the DoH are thinking up new ones. So it will be the cash-strapped councils who will have to install thousands of RFIDs on their lamp posts and give out Nintendo vouchers to the thugs and bullies who will 'accumulate' full cards, and hard-pressed parents will end up swiping their kids' cards whilst walking the dog. It will also be councils who will be given the new Harman-Lansley duty to 'reduce health inequalities' and a whole new raft of reasons to re-employ all those drinking cessation outreach workers who have just been made redundant. 

How utterly, wholly stupid. How pointless. How retrograde. Lansley has not only lost the plot, he's failed even to take control of his own mandarins. Cameron should replace him at the DoH at the earliest opportunity with a minister with a modicum of intellectual ability and strength of will.