Wednesday, May 27, 2009

MPs Expenses - One Even Suggests A Rise!

It's five days since I last posted on here and despite North Korea setting off underground nuclear explosions, petrol prices rising again, paedophiles in Portugal and Peter and Katie still being apart, one story is still managing to cling onto the headlines after a staggering twenty plus days - MPs expenses!

Even the media's hysteria over Swine Flu has fallen to the back of the news queue despite the number of cases in the UK now standing at 150 or more.

My own MP, Derek Wyatt, (he claimed for pork pies among other things) has announced to the local press that he and his colleagues would be happy to give up their claims to expenses - but only if they are given a considerable rise. He claims they are fine upstanding citizens who should be recognised as senior members of society by being paid as 'chief executives' of the communities they represent - but where in most cases they fail to live.

He had a massive majority of....just 79... at the last election, so I would imagine he could well be regretting his arrogance when his disenchanted voters tell him in no uncertain terms what he is really worth!

Let's hope he had the foresight to put away some of the money he claimed while he was just 'following the rules'

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Friday, May 22, 2009

You're All Just Jealous!

If you’re looking for an example of just how contemptuous some MPs still are after being caught milking the expenses system, you do not have to look further than Conservative MP, Anthony Steen.

He was revealed in the recent Telegraph revelations for letting his daughter live rent free in the London flat used to claim his second home allowance and subsequently selling it to her at less than its market value.

The Totnes MP hit back by saying:

"I've done nothing criminal, that's the most awful thing, and do you know what it's about? Jealousy.

"I've got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral. It's a merchant's house of the 19th century. It's not particularly attractive, it just does me nicely"

He also said that government ministers had “mucked up the system” by introducing the Freedom of Information Act.

Conservative Party leader, David Cameron has since severely admonished his MP, and announced Steel is to stand down at the next election.

Cameron commented:

“It was a completely unacceptable thing to say. He's announced his retirement from Parliament."

The whole incident is really best summed up by a comment from Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague who described Steen’s words as “ridiculous”

It seems such a description is also applicable to the man himself!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

BNP? - One Lump Or Two?

There's been much ado in today's press about a guest attending one of the Queen's annual garden parties to be held in June.

Nick Griffin is the leader of the British National Party (BNP) and is being taken to the event as the guest of a BMP member of the London Assembly.

London's mayor, Boris Johnson has publically accused the far right BNP of trying to turn the garden party into a "political event" which seems to be a bit rich coming from someone with the track record of Boris.

Last time I checked, we were living in a democratic society where freedom of speech is paramount and people of differing views are tolerated. The Queen is the figurehead of our society and during her reign has met people with all beliefs and attitudes - many far worse then those of the BNP. She is the ultimate professional and I am sure she will be able to handle the situation with both grace and charm.

Whatever mainstream politicians may think of the BNP and its moral standing, after recent events, now is not really the perfect time for the 'pot to be calling the kettle black!'

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Doctor Drills Into Boy's Brain Using A DeWalt!

It would be very easy to bore the bum off you with another story of greed and deception in Parliament, but to be honest there are only so many expletives one can use to describe those greedy, arrogant shits.

Tonight then I am going to give you the night off and focus on someone who is worth talking about, a man called Dr Rob Carson.

Doctor Carson, is a GP who practices in a small town in Australia.

Last week, the mother of a 12 year old boy brought her son to his surgery. The boy had been complaining about a severe headache following a bad fall from his bicycle, earlier in the day.

Dr Carson realised immediately the boy had bleeding on the brain and he would need to do something fast or he could die.

He had no specialised neurological instruments in his surgery so without wasting a second he said to an assistant "Get the Black and Decker". The assistant ran to the maintenance room where he retrieved a De Walt drill usually used on operations of a more mundane type.

The boy was placed under anaesthetic and the good doctor duly operated under the guidance of a specialist neurosurgeon via phone.

His anaesthetist said afterwards:

"It was pretty scary. You obviously worry, are you pushing hard enough or pushing too hard, but then when some blood came out after we'd gone through the skull, we realised we'd made the right decision"

The boy was subsequently airlifted to a bigger town, with proper facilities, where he made a full recovery. Dr Carson went back to his normal work in the community but said modestly:

"If you are in that situation, you just do those things. It is just part of the job and I had a very good team of people helping me."

Isn't it heartening to know there are still good, honest, professional people in the world, who are not obsessed with claiming back the cost of a pork pie or justifying the purchase of the biggest plasma telly?

If only we could persuade him to enter the world of UK politics!

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Speaker Of The Commons Quits!

Following yesterday's witch hunt in the Commons, the Speaker, Michael Martin, has now announced he will be leaving his post on June 21st.

It will be interesting to see, who will be put forward as his replacement, as it seems that very few politicians are able to 'walk tall' while still claiming a clear conscience.

One can only wonder where the spotlight will settle next in the Parliamentary blame game but there is one thing that no MP needs for a while and that is a General Election!

All change!!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Don't Fall For The Blame Game!

"We all bear a heavy responsibility for the terrible damage to the reputation of this House. We must do everything we possibly can to regain the trust and confidence of the people."

These words by Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons, were part of his 'apology' this afternoon to a packed Chamber of MPs and could not have contained more truth.

Martin bears a large amount of responsibility for the present crisis in Parliament, after leading the fight to keep details of MPs' expenses secret, We should not, however, forget it was the large number of those who stood listening to him this afternoon and who were supporting calls for him to step down from office, who have actually been exposed for being up to their necks in the pot of gold.

Their response to the present situation is predictable; find a scapegoat and divert the public's attention away from their individual wrongdoing. We must not let that happen.

The culture of excessive claiming has been propogated by MPs of all parties, over a number of years; it is a culture born from greed. They should all have demonstrated better judgement but, instead, they thought of it as their right. It was, therefore, in all their interests to back the Speaker's attempts to block publication of their dubious claims. They are, collectively, responsible for their present circumstances.

That is why it is unfair to try to focus blame and claim a lack of confidence in just one man.

If they really want to do everything possible to regain the trust and confidence of 'the people', they should do the honourable thing and, as one, fall on their individual swords!

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Extradition To US Without Evidence - Time For Change!

Yesterday, I was sent a request to sign a petition on behalf of a husband and wife living in Scotland, to stop their extradition to the USA.

Their names are Brian and Kerry-Ann Howes and they have four children. Their 'crime' is to have supplied two chemicals - both of which are perfectly legal in the UK - to drug rings in America, where it is said they were used in the production of the drug crystal meth - a form of amphetamine that has been crystallised to allow it to be smoked.

Howes had been selling chemicals over the internet for several years. The chemicals he supplied are commonly used in the production of pyrotechnics and for medical use. He always took the precaution of verifying delivery addresses and receiving payment by credit card. His business premises were monitored by Health and Safety officials. He was, by all normal standards, a genuine trader.

The US authorities, however, disagree and say he is part of a global drugs ring which operates bases worldwide.

I have no idea whether the Howes are drug dealers or are innocent of the allegations, but there lies the problem.

Since the letter of request for extradition to the US was presented, they have each spent over 214 days on remand in prison and both are now living under a curfew at home. They have not been officially charged with any crime and no evidence against them has been presented to a UK court. They are presumed to be guilty on the basis of a letter from the US authorities.

How has this come about? Because in the aftermath of the terrible events of 9/11, when the only exercise taken by government ministers was that provided by knee jerk reactions, home secretary at the time, David_Blunkett, signed the Extradition Act 2003 which removed the obligation on US law enforcement agencies to present British courts with prima facie evidence of an offence. All that is now needed, is a letter of allegation before proceedings commence; if they say you are guilty, we believe them without question.

What makes things even worse, is that the change was never debated in Parliament but, instead, was passed using Royal Prerogative.

The treaty is unjust, unethical, unconstitutional and just about every 'un' word you can think of. It undermines the basic principle of our justice system and plays into the hands of a country that has - over recent years - demonstrated its complete disregard for human rights by detaining and torturing people without trial.

As for the Howes, if they are extradited, their lives will be destroyed. Their children will be taken into care and Brian and Kerry-Ann face up to 20 years in a US prison. If they had been suspected terrorists, they could not have been held for longer than 28 days without charge. They have already been held for seven times this limit. They are, seemingly, the victims of a ridiculous law that needs to be changed.

So, without having been able to make a judgement based on anything other than word of mouth, I am going to sign the petition. This is not because I think the Howes are either innocent or guilty of the allegations but because I have always valued the fairness of justice and consider their treatment by the present system has been unfair. I am protesting to bring about a change to the present system and restore it to one based on evidence presented to our courts.

I wish them luck and for the sake of all our freedoms, I hope you do too!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Minister Suspended For 'Sloppy Accounting'

When was the last time you made the 'mistake' of forgetting you had paid off your mortgage? To most sane people it would sound ridiculous.

Not so, apparently, to ex-Labour minister Elliot Morley, who has been exposed by the Telegraph as yet another greedy MP fleecing the public purse with his expenses.

He has claimed a staggering £16,000 on a mortgage he was no longer paying and the best bit...he says he had not even realised!

Like many before him, he is saying the claim had been a "mistake" and it was due to "sloppy accounting" on his part.

Unfortunately, unlike many of his colleagues, he will not be able to use the excuse he has done nothing wrong and was just obeying the rules.

After suspending him from the Parliamentary Labour Party, his boss, prime minister, Gordon Brown, stated:

"If there are any other disciplinary cases where we have to take action we will take action immediately."

We can only hope the action taken, will be to call in the police to investigate what appears to be a 'mistake' of the fraudulent type and that Mr Morley will not experience such 'sloppy accounting' when the judge passes sentence!

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UK Is Slave Trade Destination.

One week after my post Heathrow Children Trafficked For Sex revealing children going missing into the slave trade from a children's home in Hillingdon, Parliament's Home Affairs committee has declared that the UK is fast becoming a destination of what amounts to a modern-day slave trade.

The MP's from all parties that make up the committee, have said there are at least 5,000 victims of trafficking in Britain.

Most of them are women and children and most are being forced into the sex trade or used as professional beggars on the streets.

Committee chairman Keith Vaz said:

Yes we have good information on the scale of the problem, enforcement is patchy, prosecution rates are low and there is little protection for victims"

Why is this being allowed to happen in 21st century Britain?

It seems that the Home Office need to bring together the UK Border Agency and the police and make them work together as a priority to bring this situation to a speedy end.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

BBC On-Air Battle with a Labour Lord

Another day of revelations about MPs and their shameful and excessive expense claims.

Opposition Leader, David Cameron, is claiming to be "appalled" at the stories and is insisting that members of his party, who have been named and shamed, must pay the money back or risk being expelled from his party.

One of the most entertaining moments of the day, however, must be the on-air battle between BBC news anchor, Carrie Grace and Labour peer Lord Foulkes who is a close ally of the much criticised Commons Speaker, Michael Martin.

Watch it yourself and decide who comes out on top!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Expenses Of A 'Sorry' Pog Of MPs

Instead of hanging their heads in shame, as most of us would do, Members of Parliament - from all parties - have defended their over excessive use of the parliamentary expenses system, by saying they have done nothing wrong and have only claimed what is allowable under the rules.

Some have said a half hearted "sorry" but whether they are "sorry" for what they have done, or they are "sorry" for being found out, we will probably never know.

Of course, some would call them corrupt but in legal terms they are not. Morally, though, they are guilty of corrupting and abusing a system that has relied on common sense and trust, knowing there was little effective scrutiny of their sometimes laughable claims.

The Daily Telegraph has been justified in releasing such details to an increasingly angry public.

MPs, however, do not agree and are requesting that the police investigate the leak of such sensitive and damaging information.

It would have been far better for the politicians, if the details had not been made public until the long weeks of their summer recess from Parliament. They could then have been sunning themselves on exotic beaches, or spending time in their 'second home' hideaways and inaccessible to the media. They would have hoped that by the time Parliament had reconvened, the story would have been long forgotten.

Several MPs have even dared to suggest they are entitled to such large expenses because they are paid a low salary for what they do. Those of us who are working for less than £68,000 per year, before allowances are added into the equation, might not agree.

Several of them have even had the arrogance to comment, that if they were working for private corporations they would be paid a lot more than they are presently being paid. My answer to that is go and get a job in the private sector - if you can - after all, you must be working very hard to be able to afford the time to claim for a bar of chocolate and similar!!

Whatever argument they use in attempting to justify their claims, the fact remains that while cancer patients are being refused life prolonging drugs because there is no available budget and pensioners cannot afford to heat their meagre homes, MP's are milking the public purse for all they can get, while they claim for every luxury imaginable.

I have been writing on this subject for almost two years and the temptation is to be very angry with the latest revelations. That is not the answer. The best way to express our contempt is to remove them all from Parliament at the first available opportunity.

The way things are going, we should not have too long to wait!!

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Heathrow Children Trafficked For Sex!

Q. How do you lose 80 children in just over two years?

A. Put them in a children's home run by Hillingdon council.

As incredible as it may seem, that is what has happened to many of the children - mainly of Chinese origin - who have arrived unaccompanied at Heathrow Airport.

They are taken to the home while their individual cases are investigated by officials and it is supposed to be a place of safety.

However, according to a confidential report written by the UK Border Agency and leaked to the Guardian newspaper two thirds of the children taken to the home disappear within a week. It is thought they are targeted by organised criminals and made to work in the sex industry or as street sellers for the drugs trade.

In the just one year, 77 children fled the centre and only four were traced; one was pregnant after having been forced to work in a brothel in the Midlands.

A spokesperson for Hillingdon Council tried to excuse their lamentable failure by saying;

"We cannot lock the doors because it's a breach of their human rights"

Surely, the real breach of human rights has been the total failure of the authorities to protect these children in the first place. It seems almost unbelievable that the situation has been continuing for so long and has only now been revealed because of a leaked official report.

Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling commented:

"To have such a large number of children going missing when they are supposed to be in care is unacceptable. We need an urgent explanation from the Home Secretary"

Therein lies the problem - it's that woman again!

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Home Secretary's Final Comedy Routine?

As any good comedian knows, it is all in the timing.

So what better proof could we have all been shown, than that supplied by the woman who has given us many laughs over the past few weeks, Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith.

On the same day she has announced the introduction of the controversial identity card scheme which is to be piloted in Manchester, the internet security firm, McAfee, has reported that internet hijacking is now officially out of control and very few computers will be immune from attacks in the next few years; so far, they have detected over twelve million infected computers.

The identity cards have been heavily criticised both on the grounds of human rights and of database security.

The Home Office intend to allow high street stores such as Boots and Happy Snaps to eventually handle the issuing of the cards on its behalf. It is very unlikely the computers of such stores will be adequately protected against highjacking and our personal details will be easily available for cloning by the internet gangs.

On grounds of cost alone, Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil liberties group, Liberty, said:

"One begins to wonder what planet the Home Secretary is living on when in the middle of a recession, she wants to charge us £30 for an ID card and another £30 for handing over our own personal information"

Perhaps then, it is time that the curtain was finally brought down on this particular comedienne!

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Caught Off Camera - You're Nicked!

The boss of one of the main companies responsible for supplying speed cameras to the authorities has been fined £300 and banned from driving for six months for ......speeding!!

Tom Riall, is head of the Serco company which has provided around five thousand cameras across the UK. He was caught by a police patrol while driving at 102.9mph on the A14.

After his court appearance he is quoted as saying:

"I recognise that speeding is not acceptable. I very much regret what happened and I have made a full apology to the court."

It seems there is a balance to the world after all!

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Beware The Ninjas Gordon!!

The Ninjas are busy ironing their best black pyjamas and sharpening the points of their knives.

While PM Gordon Brown hops from foot to foot on You Tube, looking like an epileptic on steroids, his trusted cabinet colleagues are busy plotting.

Last week, Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, openly stated that her boss had led a "lamentable" failure of the government to communicate with the voters - apparently she had not watched his performance on You Tube. Of course, Ms Blears is as likely to become PM as I am to become Miss World - or come to think of it I am as likely to become PM as she is to become Miss World! Either way, she is just mischief making, to try to sow the seeds of a leadership election.

Similarly, Harriet Harman, deputy Labour leader has publicly stated she does not want to be Prime Minister. Of course, what she really means is that she would love to be but she fears getting killed in the rush by her rivals in the cabinet.

At times like these, it is not the ones who speak out openly but the ones who are lying silent in wait that need to be feared.

Foreign Secretary, David Milliband, is one of those, who I am sure has spent many an hour in front of his bathroom mirror practising his smug, insincere grin in readiness to strike with a deathly blow. He would have liked to have dealt it last year, at the party conference but was effectively sidelined from the spotlight. And there are others....

If ever I were tempted to feel sorry for a politician - which I am not - I would be feeling something for Gordon now. He must spend sleepless nights with the lights on watching for shadows as the Ninjas get ever closer!

Nice people to do business with!

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Monday, May 04, 2009

A Crashing Time For Police Drivers!

Figures obtained under the Freedom Of Information Act have revealed that police officers caused over 64 accidents per week last year - that's a staggering 3,357 over the full year.

Since 2004, the number of police-related car accidents has also included the loss of 150 lives.

These figures may even be lower than they should be, as ten regional forces declined to supply their own accident figures.

Staggeringly, some of the incidents were attributed to simple things like failing to use mirrors when reversing, failing to stop at junctions and taking bends too quickly. Over zealous driving while involved in chasing suspects was also a major cause of crashes.

The Royal Society For The Prevention Of Accidents commented that police should take heed of their accident rate and:

"lessen the risk of the same mistakes happening in the future"

Next time you get stopped for a suspected traffic offence take comfort from the fact it may be a classic case of 'don't do what I do - do what I say!'

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Iraq - More 'Official' Lies!

An article in today's Independent's Commentators section by the much respected Robert Fisk highlights the deception that is still being 'spun' about our role in Iraq and the state in which the country has been left.

The article has been based around a letter, forwarded to him by one of his readers, Tom Geddes, and penned by someone with an illegible signature from the Ministry of Defence's "Iraq Operations Team, Directorate of Operations"

It justifies our involvement in Iraq by stating:

It is important to remember that our decision to take action (sic) in Iraq was driven by Saddam Hussein's refusal to co-operate with the UN-sponsored weapons inspections...The former Prime Minister has expressed his regret for any information, given in good faith, concerning weapons of mass destruction in Iraq which has subsequently proven to be incorrect."

Mr Fisk, in his article, points out:

Saddam Hussein did not "refuse to co-operate" with the UN weapons inspectors. The whole problem was that – to the horror of Blair and Bush – the ghastly Saddam did co-operate with them, and the UN weapons team under Hans Blix was about to prove that these "weapons of mass destruction" were non-existent; hence the Americans forced Blix and his men and women to leave Iraq so that they and Blair could stage their illegal invasion. I saw Blix's aircraft still on the ground at Baghdad airport just two days before the attack. Note, too, the weasel words. Blair did not give his information "in good faith", as SM (the illegible writer at the MoD) claims. He knew – and the Ministry of Defence knew (and I suppose SM knew) – they were untrue. Or "incorrect" as "SM" coyly writes.

Interesting words about a lie that very few journalists seem willing to keep in the public eye.

Action in Iraq was an unforgiveable abuse - of democracy here in the UK, of the decision making process of the United Nations and certainly of the people of Iraq and of our troops.

While it may be convenient to just sweep it under the carpet with the rest of the falsehoods from the Blair years, we must make sure that the truth is eventually acknowledged!

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