Sunday, October 16, 2011

Another Sorry Excuse For A Minister!

On the same day Dr Fox finally resigned his post in the cabinet, after realising the ‘sorry’ excuse didn’t work, another minister is forced to try the same tactic.

Oliver Letwin, a minister in the Cabinet Office was observed by the Daily Mirror, on at least five separate occasions, disposing of paperwork in the wastebins of St James Park which is nearby to Downing Street.

According to Letwin, the paperwork was not of a sensitive nature and only concerned correspondence from his constituents.

According to the Daily Mirror, whose jouralists retrieved the torn documents, he is being economical with the truth, and the documents referenced security matters, rendition, David Cameron and George Osborne.

A Downing Street spokesperson said:

“Clearly, it’s not a sensible way to dispose of documents. Mr Letwin has agreed he will not dispose of documents in this way again.”

Oliver Letwin has, predictably, activated the ‘sorry’ tactic in the hope of avoiding the inevitable questions concerning his lack of brainmatter.

Perhaps, though, now it has become common knowledge that government ministers frequent the public parks of London, their increased vulnerability to terrorist attacks will make them wish Letwin had been sorry earlier!

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

When Sorry Really Isn't The Hardest Word...!!

I’ve not posted on here for a long time and I just want to say ‘sorry’.

I don’t mean sorry in a genuine remorseful way but sorry in the sort of way that hopefully you will just accept I am sorry and forget to look any further into the reasoning for me being sorry in the first place.

When I was a child, I was taught by my parents that being sorry is something that is felt from within. It is a way of learning from mistakes by never making the same error again; it was normally about something I had never meant to do.

The sort of sorry I am displaying today, though, is the sorry I have learnt from watching politicians, celebrities and sportspersons (yes I am being politically correct - sorry) who apologise in public after being caught doing something they would rather have kept private and who wish to curtail any further questioning into their misdeeds.

The most recent victim of the ‘sorry’ bug is, of course, Dr Liam Fox who holds the government post (at least at the time of writing) of Secretary Of State For Defence.

He is facing questions over his personal and official relationship with a friend whom we are led to believe he met on numerous occasions during official visits over the past couple of years and in numerous cities around the world.

The friend was best man at Dr Fox’s wedding and has been present at meetings both in the Defence Ministry and abroad - despite the fact the friend has no official role or position in government.

Whichever way you look at the situation, Dr Fox is, at best, either guilty of complete naivety or abuse of the long standing ministerial code. Being a seasoned politician, it is hard to believe it is the former.

The question also arises of possible breaches to national security. What exactly has been discussed in the unauthorised presence of Dr Fox’s friend? Also, who paid the overseas travel and living expenses of said friend?

All legitimate questions which could have been easily answered but instead the minister decided to create a smokescreen relying on the old ‘sorry’ technique in the hope of demonstrating his public remorse to his colleagues in parliament and thereby saving his career.

Being a free democratic society, our members of the press have decided that ‘sorry’ in this case was not the hardest word and they have been digging even deeper hoping to uncover the ‘truth’.

Now we have questions concerning the government’s own complicity, for it is unlikely that no security or civil service eyebrows had been raised to stretching point over the unorthodox travelling companion of such a high ranking government minister.

Dr Fox is now forced to face the internal inquiry by senior civil servants who will report direct to the prime minister.

What is potentially much more embarrassing to all parties, however, is that investigative press hounds are seeking the answer to the most intriguing question of all: just how ‘best’ is the minister’s best man?

It seems there are now many others who could end up using the ‘s’ word over the next few weeks.

Perhaps they too, should have listened to their parents!!

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Monday, July 04, 2011

Are We Just Feeding The Madness?

If you ever needed proof of what a mad mad world we live in, you only had to watch last night’s BBC news bulletin on TV.

The top story concerned the present crisis in Ethiopia and the plight of the thousands who are likely to die of malnutrition over the coming months, due mainly to crop failures following two years of drought.

A few stories further down the running order came the news that up to 500,000 British kids are likely to suffer from liver disease in the foreseeable future, caused by their obesity and lack of exercise.

The latter group do not have a bad diet from circumstance but from their own choices and those of their parents.

The UK government has announced it will send £38m, in aid, to help alleviate the current problems in Africa, but I wonder how much more the impending obesity crisis, here at home, is likely to cost us.

The final piece of madness is that while many in Africa are starving, much of the food that is grown there, is exported to supermarkets in the already overfed countries of Europe and the US - what the supermarkets can’t sell, is thrown out and wasted.

It seems, therefore, highly probable, that we are killing the planet by importing our food from such a distance; we are killing our own children by NOT feeding them the very food we have imported, and we are arguably killing the African people by throwing away what COULD be feeding them.

What further proof do you need?….. It really is a mad mad world!!

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Is Our Value Of Life Going To The Dogs?

The news about the horrific deaths of two police dogs, as a result of being locked all day in a police officer’s car, was tragic to say the least. Despite colleagues of the officer breaking the car’s windows to save the animals (they had been suffering all day in high temperatures) animal welfare staff at the police dog training centre were unable to revive the two dogs.

Unsurprisingly, it made the headlines.

What is more horrifying to me, though, is that a story about two dying dogs has achieved far more print space than that given to the members of our armed forces, and the civilians, who have been killed in our various theatres of war.

So, why is it that we appear to accept the 'mistakes' of our politicians when they cause the cessation of human life but we are outraged when the stupid mistake of a police officer causes the death of two dogs?

It seems strange that people are calling for the officer in question to be prosecuted but are not so vocal in holding those elected officials who made such grave - and some say foolhardy and even criminal - decisions to account.

The world in which we live is definitely going to the dogs!

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Monday, June 20, 2011

The BBC (unwittingly) Discovers The Answer To Declining Marine Life!

It's not often that the answer to a worrying environmental problem can be found on the same news page but, today, the BBC News website managed it without even realising it had.

At the top of the page its editors featured this:

A deeply disturbing story on the decline of the world's marine life, for which global warming seems to be the main suspect.

Just below, on the same page, came this:

Well, if I lived in the oceans and saw this bunch heading for my habitat, I would pretend to be extinct too!!

Mind you.....if it wasn't for global warming then.......!

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

To AV Or To AV Not?

With just two weeks to go until we all rush to the polling centres to express our wishes regarding who should be making local decisions and whether we should change the voting system, I am still none the wiser.

For the local part, I don’t see a problem with the present ‘system’ as I have become used to casting my cross against the names of people who only want to listen when it’s time to be voted into office.

As to whether I should be voting in favour of the Alternative Vote I have not, as yet, been sufficiently seduced by the arguments of either side - added to which I just don’t understand the logic for change.

Just like Communism and Capitalism AV is a wonderful theory. But, like all theories, it is dependent on the vagaries of human nature.

The idea that whoever gets elected into office has to hold a majority of 50 percent of the votes is, on paper at least, a good thing. In reality though, it is flawed.

The present first past the post system means the winner is the person with the most votes. With AV we would list the candidates in order of our personal preference, and if no-one gets 50 percent, the one with the least votes gets knocked out of the competition and the others have the loser’s votes distributed between them. If no-one still has the required percentage, the same thing happens again.

Well, my initial problem is that I do not want to have to rate the candidates in order of preference; I don’t want to go into the polling booth with the possibility my vote is already being diluted into a second rate compromise. I want the one candidate who has convinced me of his/her credentials to represent me for the given term.

My second and main problem, is that even with AV working to the theory, the main criticism of the present system is still applicable. The overall winner will still not be representative of the total electorate as most who are eligible to vote are either too apathetic, too lazy or just plain disillusioned by the cupboard love shown by wannabe politicians at election time.

Until politics can be a) interesting b) trusted again, or c) we are legally obliged to make use of our vote (just as when completing the recent census) it is, for me at least, a case of ‘back to the drawing board’.

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

MPs Just Clowning Around!

I was playing around with an idea of comparing the antics of parliament with a circus, when I came upon a website called

I just couldn’t resist the temptation to feed the following names into the clown name generator to see who their clown alter egos would be:
  • David Cameron = Baron Noogstein
  • Nick Clegg = Sir Blink
  • Ed Miliband = Miss Hoggins
  • Ed Balls = Doctor Tulipa
Suddenly, the images I carry in my head, of those normally dreary faces, have taken on a new dimension.

Everyone loves a clown.............

Try it for yourself!

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Monday, April 04, 2011

Pensioning Off Our Right To Retire...!

The Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, has unveiled details of his plan for reform to the welfare system.

While he is correct that the present system is ridiculously complicated and needs simplifying, he is wrong in his assumption that most people want to stay in work indefinitely.

He claims that most people want to work up until, or past, the age of seventy when what we all really want is the choice to work beyond the present retirement age and not to be forced into a longer working life.

Of course, it is convenient for members of the government to take this view, as the longer we all work, the longer we are paying taxes and the longer they can delay paying out the pension. Mismanagement of the pension pot, the increase in our expected lifespan and the larger numbers of those of us who are eligible to claim, means there is a huge black hole in said pot.

Employers, though, do not want to be forced to keep people employed at an age when they are often not as productive as they once were. Healthy business needs new blood, with new ideas and enthusiasm. Most employers will, therefore, work around any legislation by finding loopholes like misdemeanors as a method of dismissing the aged employees. This will cause understandable friction and lack of trust in what were once loyal workforces and happy companies.

If people stay working for longer, the young remain unemployed - and often on benefits - for longer. The assumption there are jobs for all is totally flawed.

So, at one end of the equation we have people paying taxes for longer, while at the other, the government are paying out benefits for longer.

With a reduction in benefits also becoming part of the reforms, it is less costly to pay young people the benefit than it is to pay retired people the state pension. It is nothing more than spreadsheet politics.

Labour MP Stephen Pound summed it up by saying:

‘Forcing people to work on indefinitely condemns young unemployed people to the dole and destroys the life chances of older people who have spent 30 or 40 years working for a productive retirement – it is pretty cruel.’


‘Perhaps if you are a hedge fund manager you do not have the same level of exhaustion as a panel beater, but most people have had enough after 40-odd years.’

Well, I am neither of the above but I definitely know when I have had enough!!

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Lame Excuse For Action In Libya

Announcing the commencement of military action against the Gadaffi regime’s refusal to capitulate to the wishes of the UN our PM, David Cameron, said:
“We should not stand aside while this dictator murders his own people”
It seemed to be a rather strange and weak reasoning for entering into what could well escalate as a long and full blown military occupation, given that successive UK governments have been happy to ignore similar unsavoury behaviour from Robert Mugabe or China or Syria (the list goes on and on) for decades.

Of course, creating an air exclusion zone is a good thing if Gaddafi is using air strikes – but he is not. His followers are still free to launch ground attacks on their opposition or to knock on the doors of rebels and ‘disappear’ them like so many brutal regimes do.

To stop such actions, we would need troops on the ground, and haven’t we been there before?

It seems politicians are slow to learn from historical fact (perhaps we should blame our education system)

The PM finished his address by saying:
“I believe we should all be confident that what we are doing is in a just cause and in our nation’s interest.”
I guess we'll have to wait to hear to whom the cause will be ‘just’ and exactly how it will be of direct interest to our country.

Personally, I shall not be holding my breath!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Respect To The Survivors In Japan!

If the recent events in Japan were the plot of a Hollywood disaster movie, we could all be forgiven for laughing at the lack of credibility in the story and suspecting that the scriptwriters had been sniffing too much apple juice.
Sadly, they are reality!

Five days after the initial earthquake and the devastation of the tsunami that followed, the estimated body count keeps rising and over 400,000 people are now homeless. With well over ten thousand officially unaccounted for, it is now claimed to be the largest death toll, ever, from a natural disaster.

I find it, even now, so hard to take in the sheer scale of the carnage. If the sight of ships laying on top of buildings and buildings being moved hundreds of yards from where they were built is not enough, there is still the ongoing possibility of a massive nuclear incident following the explosions at the power plants that we have already witnessed.

One thing, though, has been just as noticeable as all the other sights. It is the reaction of the survivors and their fellow countrymen. 

Despite the unbelievable structural damage, the queues for fuel and the lack of food on the supermarket shelves, I have not heard one report of looting, violence or other opportunistic crime.

I wonder how many other countries in the world would be able to claim the same thing if they had suffered as much as parts of Japan?

Let’s hope we never have to find out!


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Monday, March 14, 2011

Driving Down Taxation Street!

Have you ever wondered just how much you spend on ‘fuelling up’ your car each year?

If you are like me, you deliberately don’t keep a record, as you know it’s going to be a frightening amount of money.

Let’s take it a stage further and work out how much of your hard earned wages you are paying in tax, to the government, on that fuel each year.

According the the FairFuelUK campaign, if you drive 10,000 miles per year:
  • Total Cost of fuel to you = £1702
Of which:
  • Excise duty = £766
  • VAT = £284
  • Total Combined Tax = £1049
If you can bear to look, you can find comparable figures for differing annual mileages here

Happy motoring!!

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Power Of Modern Dissent!

Yesterday’s paper had a good quote from Alastair Campbell which highlights the power of global communication in today’s world and its effect on the way governments and regimes control dissent:

“There are governments and leaders who continue to believe that they can shut down networks and keep dissent in its box. They can shut down websites, but they can’t shut them all and they can’t shut them forever, and nor can they silence all communication.”

The full article can be read on his blog here

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Friday, March 11, 2011

A Moment To Reflect On Japan...

I doubt there can be anyone who watched today’s events unfolding in Japan, who was not moved by the sheer scale of what they were witnessing,

It seemed unbelievable that an unstoppable ten metre high wall of water, caused by the earlier record breaking offshore earthquake (measuring 8.9) swept everything out of its path as it rolled across the shoreline. Cars, boats and even whole buildings were simply crushed and carried along by the Tsunami, as it drove ever onward across the land.

As I write this, it has been reported that at least 350 people are dead, a cruise ship is missing and two trains have been completely washed away. The final death toll can only be a guess, as many will probably never be found.

Perhaps, it is a timely reminder, to us all, that whichever religions we follow, however powerful our weapons or strong our armies, and whatever the political ambitions of the world’s feuding nations, we are not the ultimate controllers of our own destiny.

There is a much more powerful force at work than we can ever hope to invent. When it decides to demonstrate its power, we are all left helpless in its shadow.

My thoughts, this weekend, are with all those affected in Japan.

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Clegg Reveals 'Complete Bilge'

If, like me, you have ever wondered how two political parties, with differing ideologies, can form a coalition government and run our country, you will be pleased to read that deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has revealed all.

In an interview in today's Independent entitled ‘I Told Cameron He Was Talking Complete Bilge’ he said:
“Coalition is two leaders and two parties coming together from different perspectives, resolving differences, then arguing and explaining it in their own terms.”
Where ’Complete Bilge’ is concerned, it appears he is a master!!

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Fine Mess......Well Almost!!

I haven’t written anything, up until today at least, about the recent uprisings in the Middle East. To be quite honest with you, I don’t really know what to think.

The speed with which the protesters achieved their objectives in both Tunisia and Egypt surprised even the most optimistic of observers. It was almost as if the ruling regimes in both countries had, like rabbits in a car headlight, been paralysed in fear at the strength of the protests against them.

When the ‘freedom virus’ spread to Libya it was for a while at least, fair to assume that the erratic but controlling forces of the Gaddafi clan would soon follow those of the deposed regimes from Tunisia and Egypt. You could almost hear the champagne corks popping in both our own country and the USA.

But, once again, it seems that Gaddafi has managed to defy the will of most of the ‘free’ world by resisting our demands and those of his people, and instead has turned his country into one that is fast approaching civil war.

Our own politicians are now the ones who appear paralysed. When the protests in Libya first started, they were quick to assume it would all be over in days and our version of ‘democracy’ would quickly take root. They were wrong.

Now, we hear talk of no-fly zones and sanctions being imposed against the ruling regime of Libya. Meanwhile, we have to suffer the embarrassment of international ridicule as our own special forces were captured by the very rebels they were trying to contact last weekend.

It is all starting to look very dangerous politically; we are soon going to have to ‘put up or shut up’. Either we stand by and observe from afar, or we get actively involved in trying to enforce our democracy on a people who have, for the most part, never experienced it before.

Sound familiar?

Last time we got too involved in the politics of other countries, the cost, both in lost lives and national debt, turned out to be far more than we could ever afford.

Of course, all of the above is based on having enough military hardware left after the coalition’s recent version of Scrapheap Challenge

I can feel another post forming!

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Fuel Your Anger At MPs Not Road Users!

With fuel prices continuing to rise on the back of the political unrest in the Middle East, it is understandable that fuel users here are becoming increasingly frustrated.

It is tempting for campaigning groups to contemplate taking direct action by staging ‘go slows’ on major roads or blockading oil refineries.

While it may be understandable that some may see this as the only outlet for their anger and frustration, the problem is: they are harming the very people they are trying to help.

We all have to use the roads and none of us want to be part of the disruption or loss of business arising from demonstrations about high fuel costs.

Ultimately, the only people who can help to alleviate the problem are our politicians. Our coalition government can help by stabilising the amount of revenue collected from the fuel we use.

Many MPs are already sympathetic and those who aren’t will not want to suffer the inconvenience of answering a mountain of complaints from their constituents.

The immediate answer, then, is to sign a petition such as this or write/phone/email your local MP asking him/her where they stand on the issue of fuel pricing and the part taxation plays on the forecourt price of a litre.

You can find the contact details of your local MP here

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Long Time Resting.....

It’s been almost two months since I've posted on here and I am ashamed of myself; I needed a break.

I've also been testing new technologies to make my writing life easier but somehow I never got re-started.

A lot has happened in the world in the time I have been away and if I had been writing, it would probably have included the following earth shattering events:


The World:

Tunisians demonstrate and get rid of ‘tyrant’

Egyptians demonstrate for even longer and – eventually – get rid of ‘tyrant’

Other Arab countries start queueing to demonstrate and get rid of ‘tyrants’

Daily Mail tries to create hysteria over Muslim takeover of UK and the world


UK Politics

Liberal coalition ministers have been noticeably less ‘visible’ in the media

VAT increases to 20 percent

Fuel prices rocket, yet again, as crude oil prices rise, 1p tax goes on a litre of fuel and VAT is added to that

Inflation rises

Jobless total rises

Coalition still using the old “left with a huge deficit” excuse

More troops lose their lives in Afghanistan

Still no-one is brave enough to ask the question: “how much is this bloody war costing?”

Ministers abstain over vote on EU Court ruling that prisoners should get the vote

Cameron still confuses everyone with Big Society

Coalition announce their intention to modernise (a.k.a privatise) the NHS

Multi-million pound Nimrod air defence aircraft get broken up for scrap to save a few bob.

Coalition announce plans to sell our forests (it’s the only thing left to sell)


Celebrity Stuff:

Katie Price announces split from her cage fighting husband after almost a year.

Meanwhile, Peter Andre (Katie’s previous ex-husband) seriously dates Elen Rives (footballer Frank Lampard’s ex-wife)

Katie Price is spotted (mainly in the Daily Mail) partying – lots!

The world’s 2nd most boring couple Katy Perry and Russell Brand allegedly seek counselling after he tweeted a pic of her without makeup

Elton John and his partner have a baby.


More UK Politics:

Labour’s Shadow Chancellor resigns after his police protection officer is, allegedly, overly 'protective' of said Shadow Chancellor's wife.

It is revealed that over 50% of Conservative party funding comes from City finance (highest in 5 years)

Coalition go on using the “inherited with a huge deficit” excuse

Our student protesters are no longer 'revolting' – for now at least

Bankers resume paying themselves excessive bonuses

Wikileaks extradition hearing suspended, once more, after the revelation Julian Assange allegedly applied for a ‘missionary position’ in Sweden.

After ‘outrage’ from the Big Society (that’s you and me – I think!) The PM announces a government U-turn on selling the forests (maybe he has turned over a new leaf?)


More Showbiz Stuff:

Daily Mail ‘reports’ on actress Emma Watson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’ as an excuse to publish a paparazzi shot of her nipple

Prince Philip reaches 90 (years old….not number of gaffes!)

Top Gear presenters offend all Mexicans – apparently!

England Rugby team are playing well this year

Big Fat Gypsies hold weddings in our living rooms

Actress and celebrity Kelly Brook poses full frontal wearing nothing but lipstick – all over!

Coronation Street gets more depressing

Emmerdale gets more depressing

Eastenders ……well it was always…… depressing!

Oh and did I mention….?? Kelly Brook posed full frontal wearing nothing but lipstick – all over?

Apparently, her mum said ‘they’ (I presume she was referring to the pictures) have the ‘Wow Factor’!!

Well, you should never argue with a Mum!!

Happy Days!!

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