Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Football ; UEFA Financial Fair play is a legal mess


This maybe somewhat obscure to the readers of this blog, but today UEFA finally got around to stating that both Paris St Germain and Manchester City have broken their new 'fair play' rules. In short, these rules are designed to stop wealthy owners buying success and in the meantime wrecking clubs and competition.

It is, as ever, a big boys charter, designed to only allow already large clubs to remain large and to stop any uppity small clubs becoming big. Well, one woudl expect no less from a continental and corrupted insitution liek UEFA.

Manchester City do indeed count as upstarts given their history, as in many ways to PSG - founded only in 1970. Also both are owned by mega-rich Sheikhs who have poured money into the clubs and found dubious ways around the new rules - like selling IP rights for £55 million  or stadium naming rights to a company not interested in changing the name of the stadium etc.

The thing is though, that UEFA's rules are clearly anti-competitive. On their wesbite they say this:

9) Is FFP in line with European law?
UEFA has been in permanent dialogue with the European Commission about financial fair play and has received continued support for this initiative. There is also a joint statement from the UEFA President and the EU commissioner for competition, emphasising the consistency between the rules and objectives of financial fair play and the policy aims of the EU commission in the field of state aid.
So it is in line with policy aims, not qutie the same as saying it is within the law. The key part to me is what impact this will have on salaries and players - as was the case with the famous Bosman case that UEFA lost. Clearly, by limiting debts and expenditure players salaries will be reduced, after all up to 80% of clubs spending is on players salaries. So this move will reduce wages, which is anti-competitive and goes against the rights of contract law across the EU.

Clubs will challenge this ruling, and no doubt some players with a lot to lose will too. After all, they can indeed afford the expensive lawyers who can drag this case the ECHR as the highest arbiter.

So, I doubt this Fair Play thing will really work as it has little legal standing. UEFA may get lucky if the clubs decide they are not interested in the money and just pay a fine to ensure their seats at the top table...we'll see in a few days as they will put the players up to threaten UEFA if this is not the case.

At The Coal Face Of Politics

Patient visitors to this blog will perhaps recall that I have long been engaged in local politics, for many years as a councillor but in non-elected capacities of late.   One of my windows on the world has been the 'political surgery', assisting councillors & MPs dealing with the many problems that people bring through the door, hoping for instant solutions from their omnipotent elected representatives.   Sometimes it's great because they can be helped straightforwardly; other times, they can't.  And on some occasions they should really be sent away with a flea in their ear, though that never really happens at the level of face-to-face politics.

For various reasons I don't expect to be doing this after the forthcoming elections: last weekend may have been my final outing, which caused me to look back over some of the more, err, illuminating encounters.  I'm a dyed-in-the-wool empiricist and there's nothing like the reality check of real life for testing any political theories one might have heard in the lecture-theatre or the bar-room.
Unmarried teenaged mother:  "I'm determined to get a house with a garden ..."  (translation:  I demand the Council puts me in a house with a garden) "... so that I can smoke outside and not harm the baby."
Old fella in tired raincoat with big bundle of papers: "The timetable of the No. XYZ bus is hopeless.  I've devised a new one: it's much better, and I want you to get TfL to adopt it."
Frighteningly gaunt man, probably in his 20's, hard to be sure: "I've been convicted of benefit fraud and all my benefits have been stopped.  I haven't eaten for 3 days."  (It certainly looked that way.)
Veiled mother:  "I need you give me 5-bedroom house".  "But you and your husband only have one child."  "I good Moslem, I give my husband many sons, need 5 bedrooms."
Flustered middle-aged woman:  "They are consulting on changes to the bus schedules through my estate, they say it will be a big improvement.  The service is dreadful at the moment.  We rely on the buses - not everyone has a car, you know.  You must stop them changing anything."
Changing anything ?  Well human nature certainly doesn't change.  Of that much at least, one can be sure.

ND
 

Monday, 28 April 2014

Anecdotal migration changes to the UK; Holiday edition

As the very eagle-eyed of you will have noticed, I have been away for a couple of weeks. Surveying new found lands and seeking to assist in creating property bubbles in new markets and economies. All in all, pretty good fun.

As a tiny aside I was waiting at the airport to return to the UK and as ever, the flight was slightly delayed. All around me I found myself half-listening to various conversations of those catching the flight back to Blighty. From a pure holiday destination I may add.

There were (and for this part of the flight, there were only about 30 people boarding) -

 - Two set of banker families from JP Morgan London who realised they sort of recognised each other. One was a chinese family and the other a US family. Both had sprogs and their conversation was around what part of Kent to move out to to try to find better schools than in the Isle of Dogs where they had been living until now.
- A striking Russian woman struggling with her elderly parents on her way back to Chelsea.
- A few Caribbean locals heading back to UK for work, seemingly to Birmingham where they congregate
- A polish (?) family heading back from a holiday
- A couple of elderly English couples heading home
- My family.

One can be proud of our multi-cultural enigma that is London and its economy, or marvel at how the UK is such an attractive place that people from across the world are so keen to make it home.

Where were the young English families though?  It was Easter, surely some had gone away for some Winter sun too?

The main thing that stuck me was just how different an experience that was from say 10 years again even, when that plane was filled with English people returning to London from holiday (I know, I was there too then!) with maybe a few locals scattered in. It's amazing how much has changed culturally in one decade.

CU

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Osborne's Housing Bubble and the New Mortgage Rules

Who could reasonably object to mortgage lenders stress-testing their potential customers' ability to withstand an interest-rate hike ?  The amazing thing is that this wasn't required back in 2008, after the last bubble burst.

The answer, of course, might be "the Coalition", who seem to have fallen back on a housing boom to boost their chances in 2015.  Because it seems to me there is a good chance that almost any tightening of the current set-up will bring mortgage lending to a near-standstill.

A younger family member has recently (and sucessfully) been through the 'old' system - but only just, and a chaotic process it was, too.   Objectively speaking, the 'complexities' in her case were minor, but the bank's in-house 'mortgage adviser' was deeply unprofessional and betrayed a striking ignorance of the bank's own rules.  (And it wasn't some kid-out-of-college either: he claimed years of experience.) 

Stew in the kind of additional hurdles being introduced, and it looks like a very messy few months ahead.  At very least, the approval process will stretch out significantly: but of course it is nigh-on guaranteed to result in fewer and lower mortgage offers, too.  Cash buyers will correspondingly benefit; but the bubble could be peaking in summer 2014 rather than summer 2015.  Which isn't quite what 'Genius' Osborne has in mind.

ND

Friday, 25 April 2014

Zero Hours: No work, no pay.




Ed Miliband is taking on zero hour contracts. Its estimated there are 600,000 zero hours contracts in the UK at present.
That's a possible problem for BQ Industries. We have 90% part time staff these days, for a variety of reasons.

Ed is going to talk later on today and is predicted to say a future labour government will be :
  • Ensuring workers can demand a fixed-hours contract when they've worked regular hours over six months for the same employer
  • That they receive a fixed-hours contract automatically when they've worked regular hours for more than a year - unless they chose to opt out
  • Protection from employers forcing them to be available all hours and insisting they can't work for others or cancelling shifts at short notice - for no money
Can't say I have much problem with that. Zero hour contracts in their current form are pretty low. I wouldn't take one. Wouldn't be offering one either. If that is what Mr Ed is proposing you can see the holes in it. The easy way to get around the legislation. 

The really onerous part of zero hours is the employee must attend when the employer wants, but MAY not be needed from week to week. - So point 3 is the best one.

I say MAY because in the majority of cases in my experience these workers do get their work every week.
It may not be 40 hours, but it will be 4-8-12-20 hours etc.
So I expect the sum of all this legislation would be to move the zero's to a 2 hour contract, with fixed hours on the busiest day, and an option to work extra, if work is available.

The change for the employer would be they have to pay sickness and holidays and bank holiday pay, something that some of the current zero hours companies have been accused of not paying.
The change for the employee would be they could work for multiple employers.

As I said, BQ Industries has moved over the years from 80% of employees on full time, 40 hour contracts, to 90% on part-time contracts. 
We start at 4 hours and go up to 30. These are fixed hours, fixed days , but as flexible as could be.
We employ, in the main, older ladies, 40s, 50s 60s, who's partner's have their own business. They can work for us for a guarantee income, but can also chop and change to suit their own business needs. Only very rarely is this a problem for us.
We also employ, mother's with school age children who can work school hour without paying childcare costs. Students, who fit in hours with timetables and people with other part time jobs at other workplaces and the retired who don't want to work 40 hours anymore.

So, in the main, we are not a full time contact employer. We moved to part time as  costs forced us too, and as we had fewer, did better analysis of what we actually do. We are, like many businesses, busier at certain times. We have more hours available on a Monday and a Friday and barley anyone in on a Thursday.

  We don't pay enough or for long enough that you could earn enough to live on.  But that's not who we are employing. We are employing second incomers.Spouse has good job, or need a secretary/accounts keeper, so ours is their second income, and students and retired people.

When I worked for a fashion company, employing much younger people, the average worker was employed for 12 months, then moved on. Many made barely a month. Senior staff more like 5 years.
At BQI - the AVERAGE, of our part time hours workers, is 8 years. Many have 10+.


I have a feeling that zero hours contracts are just another  CostaLiving soundbite. The latest bogeyman. The new fixed-odds betting or Wonga. Something for a young, left wing idealist activist to man the barricades against and overthrow. 

And something, like the Wonga & fast betting, that once banned isn't going to make much difference at all.


Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Surreal Adventures of Tony Blair

So I turn on the BBC lunchtime news yesterday, and there is Blair, mad as a box of frogs, giving vent to the following:  (I paraphrase)
The Islamists are our most pressing problem. OK, we have our differences with Putin but let's patch them up and get stuck in to the common foe.
Back in the newsroom, a BBC commentator responded (again, my precis):
Some people won't want to hear this from a man they consider a war criminal
Amazing stuff for lunchtime.  What is going on here?  Obviously, Blair would be able to find plenty of people who'd more-or-less agree with him in a global-strategic kind of way - but what audience is he playing to when making public utterences like that?  (And is the UK tax-payer still funding his peronal security?)

Roaming the world making money is one thing: sordid, but hey, there's that dreadful wife of his to pacify.  We know the Chilcot report could be hitting the streets one day, and Blair may have his date with destiny in mind.  But can anyone think of a precedent for a sad old politico behaving quite like this after his sell-by date?  A kind of unloveable inter-galactic TonyBenn.

Even Jimmy Carter pretty much stuck to the conciliatory stuff - and behind the scenes, too.  Where it belongs.

ND

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Political response to David Moyes departure.



Tony Blair: {former Labour party now Republican}
Well, I'd say don't worry about it. I mean, getting pushed out a job in a field you've been in for a while isn't the end of the world. every cloud has a silver lining. Or in my case a platinum one. See what lies ahead. This may be the best thing that has ever happened to you.

David Cameron: Tory
 I think its a bit harsh to punish a chap just because he didn't come first. Its a very difficult competition with two or three very tough teams. Coming top isn't essential. And Mr Moyes has had to contend with a resurgence on the right of Manorchester, at Manorchester City, eating into his core support as they adopt the short sighted populist policies of signing star players and winning matches. So bravo to David Moyes, a thoroughly good effort and one that should have let him keep his job for another go again next time.

Ed Miliband: Labour
 I believe that it is very short sighted to sack a manager just because he is incapable of getting his team to perform at the level expected. I think that Manchester United should have looked to their history and seen that sometimes a new manager, especially one who had lacked top flight experience, should be given ten or even twenty years to fully bed in and demonstrate to the players that his totally new approach to winning matches by doing as little as  possible and conserving energy was the right course.

Alex Salmond: SNP
Its typical English bigotry that says that a Scottish manager must be sacked in case the 'No' vote doesn't go their way. I believe that an independent Scotland would have seen Mr Moyes returning instantly to his Glasgow homeland, and that's why he was given the push. Its a disgrace

Natalie Bennett: Green Party
I think it was inevitable and right. The only green thing about Man Utd is the pitch. Just look at that 20,000 space car park! Not even an electric car only car park. All that diesel puffing into the atmosphere. And fans traveling from and to all of Europe to watch this silly game. And meat pies and burgers! I hope the new manager will have an ethical 'no flights' policy to his campaigns.

Nick Clegg: Liberal Democrats
Some say David Moyes won only 52% of his matches. I'd disagree with that figure and say it was more like 99%. There are a lot of scare stories going around and we must be careful not to fall for propaganda. But what is crystal clear is that if the UK left the EU, then all British clubs would be barred from the Europa league, the Champions league and the European cup tournament. its the EUROPEAN Cup! The clue is in the title! So stick with the EU.

Nigel Farage: UKIP
Well who could be surprised. A British manager is sacked and his replacement is going to be a Louis van Gaal or a Jürgen Klopp. A Dutchie or a Hun!
 A Goldmember or a Sauerkraut Pickelhaube. Another British job lost to a foreign worker thanks to this ridiculous open door immigration policy. 

Leanne Wood: Plaid
Well this is fantastic news. Ryan Giggs, the most briliantest football man in the world has been appointed as temporary coach. I expect that once he knocks the ball on the training ground his total lack of management experience, club leadership or the necessary coaching qualifications will be forgotten and he will be confirmed manager for life.
PS - Send money!

Gordon Brown: Labour
I wish Mr Moyes, a erm..a ..erm...mmmm..m..m a fellow Scot..a...erm.. every success in his new role as mur...manager of Manchester Wednesday and look forward to seeing him at the Emirates stadium performing successfully for many years.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Move Over, Nigel Kennedy

... who can't quite compete with this.  Happy Easter to all - & bring on the summer ...

ND

Friday, 18 April 2014

Le Pen Demands Respect from Beeb & Quite Right Too

I am deeply suspicious of poujadists of any nationality: it's all too easy, and often unsavoury.  Politics is about power, not protest.  What vocal-minority party ever manoeuvred its way into a sustainable national-policy-dictating position ?

Marine le Pen, however, is still an elected politician which is more than can be said for Laura Kuenssberg, Le Pen's interrogator on Newsnight yesterday.   Kuenssberg duly essayed the ill-mannered, interruptive, dumb-down style of Snow and Wark, under which legions of courteous American interviewees have suffered with restrained dignity.  Le Pen was having none of it and replied calmly but firmly:  Madame, you seem more interested in your own questions than in my replies.

Good for her: would that more politicos could find ways to put these self-important gits in their place.  It is said that Ian Katz, the recently-installed editor of Newnight, bust the budget to get Kuenssberg as a replacement for Michael Crick.  It's not a bargain.

Crick may be quirky but he actually breaks exclusive stories by actually doing *gasp* actual research.  When Crick is rude, it's because he has caught someone with their pants around their ankles.  No-one's heart will ever sink at the words "Laura Kuenssberg is in reception for you ..."

ND

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Secret Diary of Owen Jones, Aged 13¾



The Secret Diary of Owen Jones Aged 1

14th March 2014
Terrible news! The greatest parliamentarian of the age is dead! Wedgie Benn is gone! WoW!  His statesman like bearing and ability to get to the heart of the issue by demanding greater union representation made him a hero to everyone who ever lived a proper life. I saw him on the TV once. I think it was the Ali G show. His socialist principles really shone through. I want to emulate him in every way! Actually I want to be better than that coz he never achieved anything and did rather sell out to the Lipton's brigade..So I will be a better Benn. More radical. More uncompromising. More left wing.

And I read in the Daily Mirror that he kept a daily diary, just like ME! 
So really I am already his spiritual heir, if not his actual heir. Which is just as well as I don't want all those estates and mansions the great proletariat hero owned. He was going to give them to the people, I'm certain of that. He just didn't have time, dying so young at just 88.
I shall wear red socks for 48 hours. As a mark of respect and protest.

But there is something rather sinister about two great heroes of the left passing so recently. Bob Crow and now Tony Benn. And that's soon after Hugo Chavez who was the greatest leader who ever lived. Greater than Lenin or Mao or even Neil Kinnock. 

I bet these deaths are linked. The evil forces of the Thatcherite, NeoCon-CIA-Mossad-MI5-FBI-DVLA- E.ON - AOL special forces probably murdered them all to prevent the coming uprising of the downtrodden peoples of the world. 

 I skyped my secret best-g-friend, @PennyRed.
She has moved to America with her parents for her dad's financial work. I asked her if she must hate being in the very belly of the capitalist parasite, New York.
She said "uhh..Umm..well..I guess..Its so .. Unreactionary and immune to the plight of the working class people..But they do have good bagels."

That's weird. I heard that New Yorker's loved eating big apples. Maybe that's New Mexico. I'll have to look it up in my atlas of amazing socialist facts by Dr Eion Clarke. I got that for Christmas, which I don't celebrate as its a bourgeois, religious-oppression invention to confuse the proletariat and promote corrupting capitalism. 

But mum says its very rude to turn down a gift.

 Anyway the book is brilliant! Loads and loads of facts about everything. 
Did you know more people have died from the bedroom tax than died from the black death?

 @PennyRed was sure I was right and that there is a plot to eliminate all the left leaning leaders of the world. She even mentioned Shirley Temple's death was 'big news on the cable' whatever that means. I think she confused Shirley Williams, with Temple, but i didn't want to correct her. She can get very stroppy if you do that. Calls it 'male domination of misrembering' and that is a HATE CRIME! 
She is so hardcore! She won't be tempted by all that glitz and fake glamour. She won't sell out. 

She is one of the three founder and only, bloodbrothers, slash, sisters of the Stockport urban guerrillas popular front of
Gramsci, Internationale, Trotsky Socialists. 

PennyRed and me and the Dalai Lama. Although he never replied to my text to join our freedom fighters, I'm pretty sure that was just because the authorities took his phone charger, so he is in.

 As the upcoming leader of the Gramsci, Internationale, Trotsky Socialists, or GITS, I must take care that I am not on the hitlist of the Bildeberger assassins. 

I shall push my rubber plant across to the door and keep my Pol Pot nightlight on at all times.
And the squeaky floorboard at the top of the stairs will give me plenty of time to escape through the window should I hear the agents of  injustice creeping past the airing cupboard.

Sleepy now. I shall dream of myself, bravely alone and on the run from the forces of imperialism. Clad only in my Michael Foot donkey jacket, red protest socks and Manchester United Pj's.

 {I didn't choose them! But as I said earlier, Its very rude to refuse a Christmas gift. .. Especially one from your mum.} 


With apologies to the late Sue Townsend

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The 'rich' are jumping the queue.



The 'rich'  are jumping the queue, said Petrie Hoskin on the radio earlier. 
She was referring to the NHS and this ongoing idea of charging everyone in the UK £10 a month to use it. Rich people can go private so, jumping the queue.

Two issues here. Firstly, as we discussed the other day, the £10 extra idea isn't very popular. It will be even less popular when its discovered that it doesn't raise the 60,000,000 x £10 x12,  that its promoters wish. That it won't apply to children, obviously. Or pensioners. Or people with long term health issues. Or people in prison. Or recent immigrants. Or unemployed, disabled, on benefits and every other thing under the sun that excludes someone, usually for a good reason, from paying. As P'J O'Rourke once almost wrote, "When the government says everyone will pay the new tax, they mean its just going to be you and me. And I'm going to weasel out of it on some pretext.. so its just you."

The second issue is that 'the rich' using private healthcare are not, unless you are a Miliband acolyte,  jumping the queue. They are not even in the queue. They are in a different queue. They paid for a ticket to be in the NHS queue but they decided against using it, and so bought another, more expensive ticket, to join the private healthcare queue. They weren't able to get a refund on the NHS ticket.
In fact, instead of jumping the queue , they actual left the queue and so accelerated the queue for everyone behind them. And they paid for a portion of those people's treatment, even though those people now won't be paying a penny for the 'rich person's' treatment.

But we hate the rich, which seems to be anyone earning about £40k, so when they don't take a free to use service that they are entitled to, and instead pay money that has been taxed to access a private service,  they are making the poor suffer. 

Somehow.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Re-purpose That Landmark: The Results

Compo judging time - and not an overwhelming postbag so it seems everyone had their weekend priorities right, enjoying the fine spring weather (running the marathon ..?)   And we managed to avoid the anticipated LVT punch-up without troubling the moderators.

But what a London-centric readership we are - excepting Anon@9:31, whose proposal for the Angel of the North is certainly iconoclastic but probably in contravention of someone's human rights.  Timmy's suggestion may technically be some kind of outrage, too.  So - just three awards:
  • The Salvado Dali Award for Fevered Imagination CU, for his Hadrian's Wall of Ice.  I look forward to this featuring in the forthcoming independence debates: a true contribution to creative politics
  • The He Read The Rules and Gave His Name award:  EK, for reading the rules and giving his name, which put his drag-racing idea a nose ahead of Anon's@6:30
  • The coveted Lèse-Majesté award: a more tightly contested affair with Buck House featuring prominently, but it goes to ... Pogo, who has fallen neatly back on the eternal truth that real life offers more satire than David Frost ever managed.
And the prizes:  a one-year subscription to the writings of the New Economics Foundation That'll keep your spam-filter busy.

And so, back to the day job ...

ND

Friday, 11 April 2014

London City Airport: Creative Thinking Required

I really like this provocation perpetrated by the 'New Economics Foundation' ("economics as if people and the planet mattered" ... yeah, OK, we get the drift):  scrap London City Airport!  There is a bit of reasoning behind it, too: if the similarly-sized ExCel next door contributes five times as much to GDP, their challenge merits an answer.

Mr Wadsworth will doubtless tell us that a proper land tax would decide all such issues, but pending that, how about C@W readers settling this one ?  So:
  • what use should the Airport site be put to ?
  • what other landmark UK site(s) should be put to better use ?  (site + use, please)
Awards after the weekend.  Extra marks for creative iconoclasm.

ND

Thursday, 10 April 2014

BBC Question Time: Miller Miller, on the haul. Where's the Au-pairs, for them all?

Playing for honour this week as DICK THE PRICK won the championship last week.

He really is the special one.

 

Hall of The Winners

2014

DTP - 4

Taff - 2 

Mark Wadsworth - 2 

Measured - 2 

Nick Drew - 2

Bill Quango MP -1 

Malcolm Tucker - 1 

CityUnslicker - 1 


David Dimbleby presents Question Time from West London, with Conservative culture secretary Sajid Javid MP, deputy leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman MP, leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Kirsty Williams AM, singer-songwriter Billy Bragg and chief executive of the global advertising company WPP Sir Martin Sorrell.

 

Looks like a right dismal outing. Fiddles, Wimmin's quotas, & unsolved murders all with a badly sung backing track.


BQ thinks

Dimbletie - red wedge

1. Are politicians 'out of touch?' They mean you Dave.

2. Ed Miliband's women's quota is ridiculous even for him. Unless he embarks on a Blair Babes initiative. Miliband's MILFs?

3. Broadwater Farm in Tottenham hasn't been hit by the London property boom. Anyone know why?

4. Actual London property boom question. probably the one about prices rising for 5 years.

5. IMF economic forecast. Will C@W have to print a clarification that when, unanimously and independently, we wrote Osborne was, at best,  ineffective; we actually meant he was a financial genius.


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Maria did not make it... but is graft endemic?

Inevitable - will be interesting to see though whether it has any wider effects on MP's and their expenses claims. If only they cold be more honest in their needs...yet somehow we have a bunch of politicians who are mired in their own greed.

One question for readers. My take is that since the financial crisis the level of graft in the UK has increased exponentially. There are bribes and gifts and all sorts that goes on - more so than was the case in the 1990's and early 2000's. There are some obvious reasons for this, in that with less money around people are using what power and positions they have to personally enrich themselves where possible.

But am I being too conservative and harking back to an era which never existed. Instead is it just that now I am older and more connected I see the graft that before we invisible when working at lowlier levels in organisations?

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Three Causes for (Modest) Optimism

There's enough in the news to make for grinding of the teeth (not to mention things that give rise to CU's regular threats to emigrate) that I am inclined to register a little cluster of recent items which redress the balance a bit.

(1) The tenor of the latest IPCC report: as several commentators have noted, adaptation to climate change has started to feature as a mainstream topic instead of being viewed as tantamount to abject surrender of the greenie-lefty desideratum of abatement-only policies by diktat, in not-so-subtle pursuit of their goal of World Government.  Adaptation is the correct direction of travel, and it is to be hoped that after another 5 years of slow progress, public policy will be substantially redirected to this potentially quite urgent end.  The only vague excuse for windfarms has been as a programme of Keynsian public works, and intelligent flood defences etc are infinitely better on that score - saints preserve us, they could even show a genuine return on investment !

(2) The interview with Caroline Lucas in the Grauniad 
For Lucas, the big problem with fracking has nothing to do with the risk that it will cause earthquakes, contaminate the water table or pollute the soil. In fact, she thinks it possible that stringent regulations could minimise those risks. "It's not that fracking itself is necessarily worse than ordinary gas extraction ... Lucas accepts that we do need gas ...
These words (my emphasis) are a cut-out-and-keep collectors item.

(3) The re-opening of the Dawlish stretch of railway.   When it was first washed away, everyone shook their heads sadly and proclaimed it would take 6 months and more to fix.  And who could disagree, given the shocking length of time that British civil engineering projects generally take ?  Makes the blood boil: FFS, World War 2 only took 6 years!  Anyhow, for once the finger was pulled out and the job was done in good time.  The same attitude needs adopting rather more widely: hey, maybe even for implementation of, errr, adaptation policies ...

So - credit where it's due, and a modest round of applause to these three disparate entities for their belated but worthwhile conversions to the ways of righteousness.  There is more rejoicing in Heaven, etc etc: and no-one is beyond salvation !

ND

Monday, 7 April 2014

Maria Miller...still hanging on

The press really don't like her do they? I mean Guido I can understand as he has always made a good point about holding politicians to account for their expenses inadequacies. On this one point he is neutral in the neutron bomb sense of the word that it does not matter who you are, punishment for wrongdoing will be exposed.

The wider Press are clearly going for her becuase she is the Culture Secretarty and they think removing her will make their life easier for post Leveson media regulation. That she has not exactly behaved humbly in the whole episode must be a strong contributory factor.

It is interesting to see whether she will manage to hang-on even with Camerson's backing. His record on this is not good (see Andrew Mitchell) and this story is too personal to the Press for them to let it go.

On a slightly wider note, I am a fan of MP's being paid more and given less. More money but less expenses for offices and houses which they abuse absurdly - as anyone would, which we can see from the fact all MP's in all Parties do so continuously - to their own benefit. If the true cost of an MP and expenses is around £100,000 or £120,000 then we should pay them that and stop this crazy funding of second homes and offices.

Even I find it distastfeul that second homes can be claimed at taxpayers expense and then profits booked as personal, tax free, gifts. When these sums are into the over one million of pound bracket as they have been for many MP's, it beggars belief. In no private company would employees have such a perk.

Clearly though the expenses scandals will not recede whilst real and balanced reform is avoided - so we will be stuck with it forever.

CU

Friday, 4 April 2014

NHS: patient fines.






A former Labour health minister has suggested people in England pay a £10 monthly membership charge to use NHS services.

This question came up at Question time. Almost no one on panel or in audience agreed with it. rightly too. An Extra £120 from every adult in the UK is some tax! But many did agree that something should be done.

Charging for appointments was immediately out. Free at the point of use and all that. {Why don't we care that we pay to see a dentist? We hand them cash and don't even think about it.}
But the idea of fining people seemed quite popular.  Not the A&E drunks and druggies or 50 fags a day heart failures and the fat to walk types.  More the inconsiderate. The  people who don't attend an appointment. The people who don't finish their course of prescriptions. calling an ambulance for a splinter and such. 

On appointments 3 times missed to be a fine was suggested. 3 times seems absurdly generous considering 99% of the nation, including children, have a mobile. Its only a call to say can't attend. Maybe a text/email line would help? 
The reality is it often takes two weeks to get an appointment by which time a % of people feel better and have forgotten all about it. 

But it is an easy one to implement. Appointments are recorded already. A second data file to record who hasn't attended wouldn't be hard to add. And a £10 fine or exclusion not too onerous for anyone.
Remember, its not for cancelling an appointment but for not turning up and telling anyone. And schools fine parents £80 for taking a term time holiday. The council will slap £120 if you accidentally put glass in the tin recycling box.  Its £60 for 3mph over the speed limit.That is to encourage responsibility, so government says.

£10 a sinner won't raise any money. maybe make it two tenners? And all the £10's can go into a staff Xmas bonus fund to make sure that the receptionists collect them. It would set a precedent. For the courts. For social worker visits. Local authority repair works.. .

 And the NHS is the most expensive thing we have in this country. Shouldn't we at least try and make people respect it a little more?

Thursday, 3 April 2014

BBC Question Time - The Sell Out, Sells Off Cheap

David Dimbleby presents the topical debate from Bristol. The panel includes Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable MP,[mega klaxon sounds arroooghhhgahh!]  Labour's former Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain MP, Conservative MP Kwasi Kwarteng, associate editor of The Times Camilla Cavendish and Guardian columnist Julie Bindel.

Season is almost over. Can DTP hold on ?

BQ say:
Dimbleby will wear a UKIP tie and start the program with "I, for one, welcome our new insect eyed overlords."

1. Was Royal Mail sold at a bargain price and what sort of cretin trusts the word of a banker ? 
2. Climate Change report. The 'dossier' said we could all be flooded within 45 minutes.
3. Maria Miller shows us all how to escape with a very dodgy expense claim.
4. Farage is 2 for 2. Should he now be allowed into the real election debates?
5. Wales. What's wrong with that place? {sorry Taff,} Giving up smoking materials banned.

Hall of The Winners

2014

DTP - 4

Taff - 2 

Mark Wadsworth - 2 

Measured - 2 

Nick Drew - 2

Bill Quango MP -1 

Malcolm Tucker - 1 

CityUnslicker - 1


Nige for PM

I am trying to recall a time when a senior Government member went in for a political debate with a minor party and was bested to totally. I went to the Farage/Clegg debate and with all Clegg's whirring of arms and attempts at humour he came across as an arrogant, hypocritical snob. Quite an achievement against Nigel who really is a posh City buy, but has the common touch in a way Clegg absolutely despises - we all know he the opposite of this.

Of course I guess a match up between say Salmond and Cameron would be interesting, but Cameron is far to frit to go in for that kind of escapade. Clegg must have thought he had little to lose in taking on Farage but he hopefully has firmly shifted the Lib Dems into a deserved fourth place in the General Election as well as the European elections.

What amazed me, perhaps even slightly appalled, was that there was nothing for me to disagree with Farage on and at the same time, nothing that I could agree with Clegg on. I am a balanced person and spend my days playing devil's advocate for fun and taking opposing sides - but Clegg's pro-Euro (i.e. pro chez Clegg, literally) and anti-English is shocking.

Whereas Farage's refreshing populism is what the Country needs to shake it out of a morose plod towards penury and social collapse under the contradictions weight of 'social democracy.'

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Mandelson: What A Piece Of ... Work

Peter Mandeleson must be the very living definition of 'shameless'.  Have a read of this.
Britain could reduce energy prices if it united with Europe to force an end to Russia's "divide and rule" policies of selling gas, said Lord Mandelson. The Labour peer, who has business links with Russia, said Britain and Europe should use its combined "vast market power" to fight for a "single purchasing agreement" for Russian energy sources. "We pay more because Russia and Gazprom play divide and rule," Lord Mandelson told the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference. "We need a single purchasing agreement, to assert ourselves as consumers and customers, so we can get our energy prices down." 
Oh, and who is to be the Euro-counterparty to this ghastly statist mega-contract?  And with what secrecy would its negotiation and terms be cloaked (see the UK's CfD negotiations with EDF)?  And which 'advisers' would be engaged, and what fee would they be asking for?  % of the gross, we may be sure, on what would without doubt be the biggest commercial agreement in the history of mankind: we are talking trillions here, and on one trillion the traditional 0.25% finder's fee would come in at EUR 2.5 billion ... well, gotta think big, eh?  (Just so you know, all manner of 'commissions' have been paid - to parties on both sides of the deals - when certain state-owned gas companies have negotiated with Gazprom over the years, and I don't just mean in the Ukraine.)

"... who has business links with Russia ..." - delicately put by the DTel.  Incidentally, they go on to say: 
He was backed by Kenneth Clarke, the Cabinet minister, who argued that if Britain united with Europe to create a "single market in energy [it] would strengthen our position against [Vladimir] Putin."
That's not 'backing' Mandelson, yer feckin' eejit (madam), it's stating the correct strategic approach to making a commodity market work for consumers.  There is about as much clear blue water between a single market, and a single mega-agreement, as between the opposing coasts of the Pacific at its widest point.

ND