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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Is it time to get Calais back?

Not by force of course - but what about offering the Burghers of Calais a referendum, to join the Kingdom as an autonomous statelet with the status of Guernsey or Jersey - their own assembly responsible only to the Crown, free to set their own tax rates, grant banking licenses, register shipping and all the other lucrative little earners that make the Channel Islands so prosperous?

Free of the shackles of French socialism, the place would blossom ...

Friday, 5 September 2014

UN WHO scientists are lying hounds - official

Scientists are generally quite polite to one another in print; one needs to translate what they say into normal speak. 

It is difficult to replicate this experiment = The results have been cooked
The data is potentially selective = They have ignored counter-evidence
The basis of the results is flawed = They are too stupid to understand what they were doing
and of course
The assumptions made are misleading = They're a bunch of lying hounds.

So when the BBC report this morning that
They carried out an analysis - published in the journal Addiction - of the WHO research which contributed to last week's report. They concluded that some of the assumptions WHO had made were "misleading".
You know what they really mean. 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Is it time to outlaw aid to economic migrants?

The recent events in Calais, when a mob of economic migrants attempted to storm a ferry, brings into sharp highlight the continuing attraction of the UK for the world's poor. Given that government is doing what it can to deny public-funded subsistence and services, what is the attraction? The answer I think is the massive charitable and third-sector support network for economic migrants, bolstered by sympathetic rebels in the NHS and social housing sector who are prepared to defy government initiatives to cut-off the prizes. 

The Refugee Council boasts of 'supporting and empowering refugees' and offers services and links including 'support in accessing the NHS services' and an 84-page Legal and Asylum Support Services directory;

Refugee Action is campaigning to raise the daily asylum allowance from its current £5.23

Asylum Help offers multilingual support in Farsi, Somali, Amharic, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Pushto, Bengali, Punjabi, Arabic, Urdu and Albanian 

There are scores, hundreds, of others. 

Whilst there are true refugees to whom I am happy to offer a temporary home - Christians from Syria, Iraq and Egypt, for example - many of these third sector organisations are geared to helping economic migrants rather than refugees from violence or genocide. The mobs in Calais are economic migrants. 

So the question is, should we now penalise groups and organisations assisting economic migrants? Stripping away charitable status, imposing swingeing fines on Housing Associations, striking off doctors and nurses from their professional registers and immediate dismissal for misconduct for anyone else in the public sector knowingly misusing public funds for economic migrants?  

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Parliamentary Churn

'Churn' for all of you in business means staff turnover. Common sense suggests that extremes of churn are not good - one no more wants a wholly ossified, but highly happy workforce than a young, new but dissatisfied one. So just how much churn is good for Parliament? The Chartists for example wanted one-year terms for MPs with members standing only once, in an attempt to make the Commons a representative assembly rather than a private members club. 

Peter Oborne is delighted that 9 out of the 147 Tory intake of 2010 are quitting after 5 years, but says it should be more. And so it should - but not, perhaps, all 147. For there are those so valuable and useful to Parliament, fishes in water, orators and selfless persons, those loving their nation over their purse, that to rob Parliament of their contribution by limiting them to a single term would do us no justice. 100% churn is not healthy, but neither is the death, illness or incapacity grounds of most Parliamentary vacancies. 

I'd suggest therefore that any reform that limits MPs' terms of office must allow for a number of MPs to return for a second or subsequent term - perhaps as many as a quarter of them. And those permitted to stand again should be selected by fellow MPs, by secret ballot, towards the end of each Parliament. The Speaker should not be immune from the process.   

Such a scheme would rid Parliament of the asinine idea that politics is a profession, give far more activists a crack at a term in the House and ensure that MPs are people with jobs who are taking five years out for public service rather than thieves, liggers and deadbeats.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

So how about BAOV?

A piece by Nick Drew at the weekend on C@W prompted a flood of BAOR nostalgia; Güttersloh, Sennelager and Rheindalen were names as familiar to generations of service families as Camberley, Colchester or Tidworth. Wives formed social circles to learn German, drink taste wine or hike, and 'Imbiss' and 'Bratties' were added to the working vocabulary of the British Army. Housing half the army in cut-price bases in Germany rather than in the Home Counties also saved the taxpayer a few bob - as did using the German countryside to drive our tanks about in, rather than Surrey. 

With NATO feeling obliged to show it's still here, how about a new army of the Vistula, based in NATO's most eastern satellite? It may take the men a while to learn that Shemesh is written Przemyśl and that glasses are not clinked, but cheap bases, lots of play space for the armoured boys and pretty girls - what else could a modern army want for?

Monday, 1 September 2014

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone

It's a sign of age that random song lyrics from decades ago keep popping up in my mind as I read the online news. However, just sometimes, instead of this being random mental noise it means something. Or so I'd like to think. 

And so reading Boris' appeal for for a Thames estuary airport, those lines from Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi popped up. I know those bleak, uninhabited waters well, between Medway and London. Thousands of acres of glutinous, stinking mud where only little islands of grass as tough as Kevlar can live, littered with the rusting hulks of dead ships, and the collapsing skeletal remains of piers and jetties where man has failed to establish life on those hostile, cold and desolate shores. Even the first Thames shelter - Gravesend - is locked behind twisting, treacherous mudbanks and offers scant welcome. It's the land of the dead, of secret murders, will-o-the-wisps and nameless evils, where no decent person would moor after dark. So perfect then, for a new London airport, you'd think.

Except that once it's built, we'll wax rhapsodic about Europe's last unspoilt wilderness, now lost; the beauty of the quiet marshes where only the haunting cry of the curlew moved the air, the joy of a sail from the little Hobbiton shire town of Leigh-on-Sea across the sunlit waters to a deserted eyot for a Summer's picnic, then back for the blazing inglenook of an ancient pub. We'll mourn the loss of such an extensive area of natural beauty so close to London, the vast skies kissing a flat horizon, and discover tiny bright flowers and viridian mosses that have been lost. The ancient wood of dead ships is smooth and silver and somehow living, and even the rough pitted chestnut-brown of rusted hull plates sparkling in the Sun offers a vivid chromacity in contrast to the colours of earth and sky. We will have desecrated something irreplaceable. 

Such of course was the case with Dungerness marshes - as bleak, hostile and ugly as above until Derek Jarman found a beauty and a value there, and today his little cottage stands sentinel over a much-loved landscape.

Just saying.