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General => General Discussion => Topic started by: Flex on June 23, 2011, 05:36:13 PM

 



Title: The way things are:
Post by: Flex on June 23, 2011, 05:36:13 PM
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-13884165


Title: Re: The way things are: MP bullied
Post by: Richard Tebboth on June 24, 2011, 12:37:54 PM
Nothing new.
'The Executive have control - I do not see this as changing under a Conservative
Government despite recent talk of encouraging 'independent-minded' MPs. As
someone who has shown an independent streak, I know it is not careerenhancing!'
- from Ian Taylor's resignation letter


Title: Re: The way things are: MP bullied
Post by: Evergreen on June 24, 2011, 02:49:21 PM
The Advertiser says that Surrey Fire service at night are to be cut - or rather, "recalibrated" - from 35 fire engines to 25 (that is a cut 28.5 %) and the firemen based at Esher could be relocated elsewhere.  Our MP is satisfied with assurances from his colleagues in the county cabinet that there will be "no additonal risk to residents."  What do you say?


Title: Re: The way things are: MP bullied
Post by: Keith on June 24, 2011, 02:58:32 PM
LOL - I say that the list of euphemisms for "cuts" has gained a notable addition with "recalibration."

And I am wondering whether we will see a growth of private fire and rescue services by and by.


Title: Re: The way things are: MP bullied
Post by: Keith on June 24, 2011, 03:00:43 PM
....and on the question of banning wild animals in circuses, I did wonder whether No. 10 was cracking the whip against such an Act because it could mean the end of the House of Commons as we know it.

That was an unworthy thought, however.


Title: Re: The way things are: MP bullied
Post by: Juninho on June 24, 2011, 03:10:06 PM
;D

Quote from: Keith on June 24, 2011, 03:00:43 PM
....and on the question of banning wild animals in circuses, I did wonder whether No. 10 was cracking the whip against such an Act because it could mean the end of the House of Commons as we know it.

That was an unworthy thought, however.


Title: Re: The way things are...
Post by: Keith on July 12, 2011, 08:37:31 AM
Israel approves new law in the Knesset - will penalize those who organize or back political boycotts against Israel.

How will this law play in the USA, where the establishment is loath to criticise any aspect of Israel?.  Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-israel-boycott-20110712,0,5533911.story


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Richard Tebboth on July 16, 2011, 05:31:00 PM
The boycotts are principally aimed at organisations operating in the the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Our supermarkets have been asked to differentiate between Israeli and OPT originating product.
A subsidiary of Veolia is also active in the OPT.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 08, 2011, 10:54:30 AM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/charities-to-face-3bn-in-cuts-says-report-2333758.html[/url]
Charities are facing cuts totalling nearly £3 billion over the coming five years due to government spending reductions, according to a report released today.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations used figures on the Government's spending plans produced by the Office for Budget Responsibility to calculate what they believe is the first authoritative figure for the impact of the austerity programme on charities. ....Karl Wilding, head of policy and research at NCVO, said: "Putting an authoritative figure on the extent of the cuts to date has been like trying to pin jelly to the wall. "


Against that, the Big Society initiatives are said by the Cabinet Office to be worth around £600 million.  That makes a net loss of...£2,400 million to the voluntary sector.

I expect that Government Ministers will soon be claiming that the NCVO is a bunch of lefties, as in [url]http://residents-association.com/forum/index.php?topic=485.msg4212#msg4212

Or perhaps that the  Office for Budget Responsibility, whose head is appointed by the Chancellor on the advice of the Treasury Committee (if I recall correctly), is not being responsible?  (The very title of this new quango  invites unhealthy cynicism among the world-weary, does it not?  I recall, when posted in Mozambique, the FRELIMO government established a Department for Natural Disasters.  Of course, the population wickedly assigned blame for natural disasters to that department for evermore.  The government then inserted 'for the prevention and combat of' into its title)

Yrs, grumpy of Thames Ditton.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 09, 2011, 01:16:34 PM
Excellent piece by Mary Riddell here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8630533/Riots-the-underclass-lashes-out.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 11, 2011, 09:36:28 AM
And the Telegraph in more classic mode here (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/8694494/UK-riots-David-Cameron-condemns-sick-society-as-grammar-school-girl-in-court-over-riots.html) (you can almost hear the author Gilligan's laughter at colleague Riddell !  Gilligan is the Gilligan of the Iraq dossier/David Kelly suicide affair).  Interesting.

These are unusual times.  From Riddell we can perhaps salvage "the products of a crumbling nation" - if not in the way she had intended?!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 12, 2011, 07:36:39 AM
As with the phone-hacking saga, in these heady situations it is hard to find objective journalism in Britain.  The New York Times coverage of the riots is not nearly as good as of the hacking, perhaps because of acute American interest in Murdoch; but Reuters, which has retained a commendably balanced and for-the-record approach to journalism, has a good summary of the breakdown in social order : here (http://news.yahoo.com/uks-cameron-under-pressure-over-cuts-riots-012904908.html)


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 12, 2011, 08:25:19 AM
....and a hard-hitting article from the Telegraph's chief  political commentator, Peter Oborne.  http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peteroborne/100100708/the-moral-decay-of-our-society-is-as-bad-at-the-top-as-the-bottom/   Very good (as are many of the comments)!  Though the Telegraph still often relapses into its classic partisan mode, it's not uncommon these days that I pinch myself to make sure it's really the Telegraph I'm reading.  The quality has improved greatly over the past three years - since the scandal of parliamentary expenses, which seems to have marked a point where the Telegraph finally parted company with party politicians and opted firmly for the sensible residential backbone of Britain.

Oborne, though, has a long record of criticising what he sees (with good reason) as the immorality of politics and politicians.  Described in a Guardian review of his book,    "The Rise of Political Lying" (directed against New Labour) as " a confident, even romantic Tory of the old school, as happy at the Gold Cup as he is at Wilton's Restaurant. Decidedly a Cavalier, not a Roundhead, he gave up the City for journalism and has done very well."

Indeed he has.

PS: he also co-authored with a Conservative MP "Churchill's Legacy - the Conservative case for the Human Rights Act". which makes the case that  'the Act is not a charter for socialism but contains the most basic rights from 900 years of British history.'


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 12, 2011, 09:44:23 AM
"This most radical of governments is winding the clock back more than a hundred years: closing libraries, selling off public lands, putting education and health back into private hands for the wealthy, substituting charity for public services, cutting welfare, reintroducing the distinction between the 'deserving' poor and the 'undeserving,' eroding the independence of the judiciary, reducing the nation's fighting capability to the time of King Harold and shortly, on the back of super-injunctions and press malpractices, likely to restore some censorship and government control over the fourth estate..."

And now this: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/camerons-law-pm-planning-crackdown-on-rioters-2336308.html (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/camerons-law-pm-planning-crackdown-on-rioters-2336308.html)

"Ministers and the security services are planning draconian powers to shut down or disrupt mobile phone messaging services and social networks in times of civil disorder.
Downing Street sources said they were considering the "moral and technical" questions of how to grant new powers blocking all mobile communications to prevent rioters organising through websites such as Twitter and the BlackBerry Messenger service."

This is beginning to sound more like Iran or Egypt, and less like England.  How are they going to selectively prevent rioters from using social media?  They can't.  If this line is pursued, we will all be blocked - unable to message each other to say that it looks like trouble in Kingston, bar your windows.

Frankly, I would see the use by rioters of the social media as more of an intelligence godsend for the police - except perhaps for encrypted comms.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 12, 2011, 12:27:53 PM
Another interesting piece, this time in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/12/uk-riots-police-round-government

The acting Commissioner of the Met and  Sir Hugh Orde, Chairman of ACPO have a few choice words, entirely credible, concerning politicians over the past few days.   


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 13, 2011, 08:08:46 AM
Quote from: Keith on August 12, 2011, 09:44:23 AM
....
This is beginning to sound more like Iran or Egypt, and less like England.  How are they going to selectively prevent rioters from using social media?  They can't.  If this line is pursued, we will all be blocked - unable to message each other to say that it looks like trouble in Kingston, bar your windows.

Frankly, I would see the use by rioters of the social media as more of an intelligence godsend for the police - except perhaps for encrypted comms.

Today:

a. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/8698838/Twitter-blocking-the-technical-and-legal-issues.html  (also makes the comparison with Mubarak's Egypt)

b. AP:  Bill Bratton (NYPD, LAPD & Kroll, Cameron's new police adviser - a move that will further infuriate the Met): "social media sites can be a useful tool for law enforcement trying to monitor gang activities."

c. Guardian: "Political sources described Orde as incandescent with Tory attempts to take credit for toughening the police line, adding that it underlined his fear that government plans for elected commissioners will politicise the police."  ICM poll for the Guardian showed that the public sided with the police and not the politicians over the handling of the riots. The  poll also showed most are concerned that the police, facing 20% cuts in budgets, already do not have enough resources.

d.  Independent: 'Public lacks confidence in Tory leaders following disturbances' - Comres poll for the Independent shows two-thirds of population oppose Cameron's plans to cut police numbers

(This is the same government that has undertaken a costly, unnecessary war to meddle in Libya with a dubious outcome likely, and which plans to spend £35billion on a high-speed rail link that will destroy more countryside in order that businessmen can reach Birmingham 15 minutes faster; &c &c.....  Do they have priorities right?.)


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 13, 2011, 08:50:47 AM
Quote from: Keith on August 12, 2011, 08:25:19 AM
....and a hard-hitting article from the Telegraph's chief  political commentator, Peter Oborne.  http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peteroborne/100100708/the-moral-decay-of-our-society-is-as-bad-at-the-top-as-the-bottom/   Very good (as are many of the comments)!  ...

I see today that it is the most-viewed article in the online Telegraph, with an amazing 3747 comments nearly all of which strongly endorse Oborne's summary of the malaise.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 14, 2011, 09:57:37 AM
Starkey damages his intellectual credibility on Newsnight (http://http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/starkey-raving-bonkers-historian-accused-of-racism-on-riots-2337441.html); he should have stuck to the Tudors.  If you are interested in the full text of Enoch Powell's famous speech it's available here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/3643823/Enoch-Powells-Rivers-of-Blood-speech.html (it's always best to go to the source materials).  Although the Telegraph posted it in 2007 I note with interest and surprise that there are no comments on it via the comment box provided.

From an ethnic perspective the rioters seem to have been a mixed bag.  It's the ethical perspective that worries me rather than the ethnic one.  Good article by Tottenham MP David Lammy here (http://http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/david-lammy-prejudices-of-the-few-eclipsed-by-civic-pride-2337446.html). Lammy is the articulate fellow of whom Starkey said: "Listen to David Lammy, an archetypal successful black man. If you turn the screen off, so you were listening to him on radio, you would think he was white."  Time to retire, Starkers.

Meanwhile, as predicted above, Police are furious at Cameron's 'appointment' of Bratton as consultant. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/exclusive-pms-plan-to-import-us-adviser-angers-police-chiefs-2337445.html (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/exclusive-pms-plan-to-import-us-adviser-angers-police-chiefs-2337445.html)

The Indie's bio of Bratton:
Bill Bratton is the tough-talking US police chief charged with becoming David Cameron's new crime adviser. A Vietnam War veteran, Bratton quickly rose through the ranks of the police department in his native Boston, becoming the youngest-ever executive superintendent at the age of 32.

In 1994, he was appointed by then New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, as NYPD Police Commissioner and was credited with implementing the "broken window theory". The strategy hinges on the premise that if you keep towns and cities in good order, there is less inspiration for vandalism. "Broken windows" was heralded as a success, with crime figures sliding. But Bratton was forced to resign two years later after being investigated for a book deal he signed while in office and for accepting unauthorised trips from various organisations.

Bratton then became Los Angeles police chief in 2002 and was praised for reducing crime there for six straight years. He was criticised during his tenure for his extensive travel, taking a full third of a year "out of town" in 2005 for official and personal business. In 2009, he moved back to New York as chairman of Kroll, one of the businesses run by the private security firm Altegrity Risk International.


Me, I say that someone of Bratton's experience is worth listening to, and will bring a different perspective, possibly of some use.  When we have a serious public situation like the past week's, it should be a matter of serious public examination and debate.  It cannot safely be left to the police or to (God forbid) party politics and shibboleths.  Any solution must have community consensus if it is to make ground without creating new and equally serious problems.  Trouble is, our leaders seem wholly incapable of inspiring such consensus, so focused are they on their own image.

And Cameron's appointment of Bratton at a time when relations between parliament, press and police need mending looks like another error of judgment made to give the impression of 'doing something.'  More worryingly, it could be another step on the road towards politicisation of the police: a very bad thing indeed.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on August 15, 2011, 08:35:18 AM
Boris emerges as a voice of reason: he knows more about London than does his party leader: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/8701432/London-riots-this-is-no-time-to-be-squeamish.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Juninho on August 15, 2011, 10:48:58 AM
I have to confess I've not always been his biggest fan but he has gone up massively in my estimation following the times I have seen him on tv and also reading his opinion in the press in the aftermath of the riots.

I was not sure at the time whether cutting holidays short would make a difference but in Boris' I think it really did.

On TV - he didn't have all the perfectly prepared polished answers when confronted by angry shop owners etc but he showed he cared and that somehow he was going to get stuck in. He made it his problem and he was going to help with a solution:

He listened, he expressed sympathy to those who suffered (and also apologised which is interesting), he boosted morale ('london is still a great city etc'), and then he said lets fix it and get things back on track.

The image I like the best is of him brandishing a brush in Clapham Junction!

My OH cannot know this - but at the moment he would get my vote for sure in the next mayoral election (err living in Thames Ditton do we get to vote on that??).

Ok - so there was a hint of some political point scoring (when he was demanding no cuts to police against cameron) - I can forgive that as
I think he genuinly believes it. i.e. it was not just statments made with the intention of scoring points...

Timing may have been a little off but still.

Boris rocks!
Quote from: Admin on August 15, 2011, 08:35:18 AM
Boris emerges as a voice of reason: he knows more about London than does his party leader: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/8701432/London-riots-this-is-no-time-to-be-squeamish.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on August 16, 2011, 08:13:57 AM
Sigh:
Essex Police: (http://www.essex.police.uk/news_features/latest_news_updates/police_reassure_residents_they.aspx) "A 20-year-old man from Colchester who allegedly sent messages from a Blackberry encouraging people to join in a water fight has been charged with encouraging or assisting in the commission of an indictable  offence under the Serious Crime Act 2007. He has been conditionally bailed to appear at Colchester Magistrates' Court on September 1."

This has gone viral on Twitter after Essex Police Twittered the news, and I found it courtesy of the New York Times (!).  Where the journalist also points out that:
"Iran’s government has recently started to crack down hard on young people who use Facebook to organize even mildly subversive gatherings, like mass water gun fights.
Last week, when hundreds of young men and women responded to Facebook invitations to meet at parks in two cities, Tehran and Bandar Abbas, and spray each other with water, the authorities intervened, stopping the fun and making several arrests, even though there was no overt sign that the gunplay was at all political."


Also in several UK newspapers.

Thankfully we have intelligent police hereabouts.  But Rhodrich, you'd better be very, very careful about how you organise your croquet on Giggs Hill Green (best to avoid Blackberrying or using words like "mallet")...... and Juninho, that really is a pub crawl you're organising next Sunday, isn't it?  No water pistols I trust?
Quote:
When we have a serious public situation like the past week's, it should be a matter of serious public examination and debate.  It cannot safely be left to the police or to (God forbid) party politics and shibboleths.
Quote:
This is beginning to sound more like Iran or Egypt, and less like England.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on August 19, 2011, 08:18:12 AM
"PFI was introduced by John Major's government in 1992 as a way of bringing in private funding to pay for major public infrastructure projects.
It was widely used by Labour between 1997 and 2010 but faced growing criticism for the costs involved and the ultimate liabilities for the taxpayer in the event of projects going wrong."


and now:

The Treasury select committee said PFI (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14574059) was no more efficient than other forms of borrowing and it was "illusory" that it shielded the taxpayer from risk.
....Government had become "addicted" to PFI, the committee's Tory chair said.
... true costs of PFI were being hidden "off balance sheet"
....We do not believe that PFI can be relied upon to provide good value for money without substantial reform."
....We cannot carry on as were are, expecting the next generation of taxpayers to pick up the tab. "


The private sector does tend to be more efficient than the public sector at most things.  But to what end?  Private companies are in it to extract money from the public sector (i.e. us) for their shareholders, and they are more efficient at doing that than the civil servants are in retaining value for the taxpayer.  The private sector has no interest in accumulating good value for the taxpayer - but  only in extracting as much of that value as possible for their own profit.  Simple, really.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 19, 2011, 09:35:34 AM
It's rare that I cite the LibDems but this is quite a powerful piece on Surrey's ostrich-like approach to public consultation which reflects recent experiences all over the county:
http://esherandwaltonlibdems.org.uk/en/article/2011/503281/surrey-tories-refuse-to-listen

I'll take the liberty of quoting it in full:
"Conservative run Surrey County Council has rejected proposals by the Liberal Democrats that would improve consultation and involvement of residents in the Council's decisions.

First, they rejected proposals to reduce the number of people required to sign a petition for it to be debated by Full Council from 20,000 to 10,000. The present figure has meant that only one petition, about on-street parking charges, has ever been debated by the Council.

Secondly they refused to debate a proposal for a consultation policy which follows best practice to reflect the wishes and needs of Surrey residents, pushing discussion to the Autumn. According to the County Council's Annual Governance Statement 2010/11, the County Council lacks a clear consultation policy. The Tory-run Cabinet had promised to introduce a consultation policy this month, but has failed to deliver it.

Finally they refused to back a Liberal Democrat amendment welcoming Government proposals to decentralise powers, in particular the ability to devolve responsibilities and resources to Local Committees and local communities, instead they backed the handing of more powers to local government.

Cllr Hazel Watson, the Leader of the Liberal Democrat opposition on Surrey County Council said; "Like the three wise monkeys; see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil, the Conservatives refused to listen to what Surrey residents have to say, see what their views are or communicate to local communities. All that the Conservative administration on Surrey County Council is interested in is putting more power into the Leader and a small handful of Cabinet members.

"The present threshold for a petition to be a debated at Full Council is an excessive 20,000, one of the highest in the country. The County Council should be encouraging Surrey residents to be able to influence the decisions taken by the Council through petitions and genuine consultation.

"A consultation policy was meant to be in place by July 2011. Well it is now July 2011 and there is no sight of a consultation policy let alone one being implemented this month.

"It is in part due to the lack of a clear consultation policy that has resulted in decisions being made by the administration that have resulted in considerable public opposition, such as to the proposed on-street parking charges, closing the mobile library service and threatening 11 local libraries with closure."


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on September 02, 2011, 09:10:21 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8736496/Libya-the-minister-the-Tory-donor-and-a-contract-to-supply-oil.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8736496/Libya-the-minister-the-Tory-donor-and-a-contract-to-supply-oil.html)
"An oil firm whose chief executive has bankrolled the Conservatives won exclusive rights to trade with Libyan rebels during the conflict, following secret talks involving the British Government.
The deal with Vitol was said to have been masterminded by Alan Duncan, the former oil trader turned junior minister, who has close business links to the oil firm and was previously a director of one of its subsidiaries.  The controversial firm has previously been fined for breaching sanctions and paid money to Arkan, the Serbian warlord, allegedly for oil contracts. "

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenpolitics/planning/8736480/Planning-reforms-blight-of-the-builders-charter.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/greenpolitics/planning/8736480/Planning-reforms-blight-of-the-builders-charter.html)
"Planning reforms: blight of the builders' charter
The Coalition’s controversial planning changes could lead to more than 1,000 extra “major developments” being approved every year, Whitehall documents suggest."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/sep/01/nhs-plans-put-wealthy-first (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/sep/01/nhs-plans-put-wealthy-first)
"Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the British Medical Association, predicted the government's health and social care bill would see the NHS being rebuilt on a "philosophy that relies on a market-based health system rather like the one we see in the United States.

He said the government was forcing all hospitals to become foundation trusts and these would be gearing up to lure private patients from home and abroad as budgets were squeezed. This decision, he argued, would only be possible because the government plans to abolish the cap limiting the proportion of total income hospitals can earn from the paying sick......patients would be back to a system where those with cash can jump ahead of those in need.

"Trusts are being encouraged to concentrate on profitable areas of work rather than the most essential … like mental health, accident and emergency and care for the elderly. These are not profitable. But heart operations for wealthy Arabs will be."

......The BMA, which earlier this summer voted to launch a public campaign opposing the bill, has joined the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Nursing – which between them represent more than 500,000 frontline clinical NHS staff – to fight the bill. "


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on September 03, 2011, 08:19:39 AM
Powerful piece on 9/11 from Robert Fisk this morning, beating the rush.  Always an outstanding, penetrating, thoughtful foreign correspondent, although he has perhaps spent so many years in Beirut that his objectivity might be fairly questioned (that's one reason why our diplomats are moved around every three or four years - so they don't 'go native').

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-for-10-years-weve-lied-to-ourselves-to-avoid-asking-the-one-real-question-2348438.html (http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-for-10-years-weve-lied-to-ourselves-to-avoid-asking-the-one-real-question-2348438.html)

I would just add that motives certainly do not justify actions; but they do explain them.



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on September 06, 2011, 12:24:48 PM
Eliza Manningham-Buller's first Reith lecture this morning (Radio 4) was interesting, and repeated some valid points about terror / Al Quaida / Iraq.

But in criticising the term 'war on terror' that was adopted by the USA at the time, she misses a point: for UN cover under international law to act militarily against Al Quaida in Afghanistan, the cause had to be couched in terms of the language of the United Nations Charter (Chap. VII). There had been no war declared by Afghanistan on the USA, so propagating the term 'war on terror' and identifying a terrorist group within the terms of international peace and security helped to bolster the case.  Later, however, the disdvantages of that term became more apparent (e.g. 'prisoners of war'....)

A formidable and forthright person, her nickname in Whitehall was (of course) "Bullying Manner" !


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on September 06, 2011, 12:26:08 PM
Rioters:
Good to see some proper facts and statistics emerging from the whirlpools of opinion:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8743591/Kenneth-Clarke-says-broken-prison-system-which-failed-to-stop-feral-underclass-to-blame-for-riots.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8743591/Kenneth-Clarke-says-broken-prison-system-which-failed-to-stop-feral-underclass-to-blame-for-riots.html)
Recent figures released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show more than 1,500 people have now appeared in court over the riots, in which five people died across the country.

One in five (22 per cent) of those before the courts were youths, aged 10 to 17, and nine in 10 (91 per cent) were male.

Two in three have been remanded in custody, compared with an average of one in 10 who were charged with serious offences in 2010. The remaining 443 have been granted bail, the MoJ figures showed.

Most of the charges (1,027) have been made in the capital, while 190 have appeared before courts in Greater Manchester, 132 in the West Midlands, 67 in Merseyside and 64 in Nottingham.

Offences include burglary, theft and handling, violence and violent disorder offences.

75 per cent of over-18s charged with involvement in last month's unrest had criminal records


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on September 10, 2011, 06:39:54 AM
Interesting piece here - will sound familiar!
{url=http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/austerity-begins-at-home-cuts-bite-among-chancellors-constituents-2352214.html]http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/austerity-begins-at-home-cuts-bite-among-chancellors-constituents-2352214.html[/url]


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on September 12, 2011, 12:25:23 PM
http://www.elmbridgeguardian.co.uk/news/9245897.Elmbridge_s_youngest_councillor_leaving_politics/ (http://www.elmbridgeguardian.co.uk/news/9245897.Elmbridge_s_youngest_councillor_leaving_politics/)

Interesting to see the light dawn.... Rowan Cole seems to have found the heavy hand of the whip irksome on several occasions over the past three years, and the fossilized  hierarchy in the constituency executive has prompted much disillusionment among others.  A bit sad that he's leaving.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on September 17, 2011, 08:50:41 AM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/sep/16/phone-hacking-met-court-order (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/sep/16/phone-hacking-met-court-order)
The Met use the OSA to pressure the Guardian to reveal its sources (which one may presume to have been within the Met...).

NUJ: "The protection of sources is an essential principle which has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the European court of human rights as the cornerstone of press freedom. The NUJ shall defend it. In 2007 a judge made it clear that journalists and their sources are protected under article 10 of the Human Rights Act and it applies to leaked material. The use of the Official Secrets Act is a disgraceful attempt to get round this existing judgment."

+1 for the European court of Human Rights.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on September 26, 2011, 08:52:39 AM
"The BBC is facing a backlash (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/bbc/8788038/Stars-attack-BBC-over-politically-correct-drivel.html) from leading presenters over suggestions that they should use “religiously neutral” terms instead of “BC" or “AD” to avoid causing non-Christians offence."

The neutering of our language and culture continues.....


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on October 04, 2011, 07:15:52 AM
BBC: NHS changes 'to cause irreparable harm' (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-15158292)
nearly 400 public health experts said the changes must be rejected
"The bill will do irreparable harm to the NHS, to individual patients and to society as a whole."

......increased commercialisation and marketisation would "fragment patient care, aggravate risks to individual patient safety... and undermine the ability of the health system to respond effectively and efficiently to communicable disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies".

"The government claims that the reforms have the backing of the health professionals. They do not. Neither do they have the general support of the public."


Yet the government juggernaut rolls on.  I trust you and your relatives including ageing parents all have private medical insurance


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Evergreen on October 07, 2011, 01:05:03 PM
The Government has a "credible fiscal plan" to enable Britain to ride out the economic storm, Chancellor George Osborne said today (says Independent).

An interesting allegation.  All I can find is:

- print more money
- sell off public property to your supporters
- don’t change banking regulations just yet, poor things
- tell people to pay off their credit cards; no, wait; maybe not – let’s see what the newspapers say first
- help your developer friends to get planning applications passed: as Keith said at the Open meeting  this means that ( a ) they will borrow more money to ( b ) build stuff for max profit with no regard to appearance which ( c ) more people will then borrow more money to buy and ( d ) the profits will be banked in offshore tax havens.  Net indebtedness will increase.  We call this “growth”.
- withdraw funds from state health and education and flog them off
- sack civil servants and redeploy them as benefit recipients, making an instant saving


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on October 07, 2011, 01:15:10 PM
You could add:
- 'credit easing': using taxpayers' money to provide further credit to our party's business supporters who are too risky for the banks to lend to

---------------------
not to mention:
- deferring pension age, allowing inflation to erode existing (and very low) pension value, ensuring there is no way to get a positive overall return on savings, looking  for further international wars to spend money on, while restoring Britain's capabilities of defending herself to the level of King Harold.

Credible indeed.  What a mess.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on October 11, 2011, 10:00:47 AM
Quarter of FTSE 100 subsidiaries located in tax havens (http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/oct/11/ftse-100-subsidiaries-tax-havens)

...what price 'growth' benefiting the national purse....


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Flex on October 11, 2011, 12:01:01 PM
What do you expect?!  If you're lucky they will survive and maybe employ your children.  The aim is that employees pay the taxes that build the infrastructure that supports production that makes the goods that employees buy on credit etc etc.

Now, if only this country was made into a tax haven we might see some benefit!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on October 11, 2011, 01:58:52 PM
Quote from: Flex on October 11, 2011, 12:01:01 PM
Now, if only this country was made into a tax haven we might see some benefit!


A notion worth playing with.  We could start by making TD Island a tax haven.

?????????????

but what if a company registered there to develop Taggs boatyard?  Hmnnnn.... thinx....


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: craigvmax on October 11, 2011, 03:38:27 PM
ha indeed!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on October 11, 2011, 04:02:10 PM
Fox:  Conservative right-wing blogger Harry Cole writes(http://www.thecommentator.com/article/522/will_the_fox_saga_show_that_cameron_and_clegg_are_truly_spineless_)
: "This is why people don’t vote. This is why people have stopped reading newspapers. This is why people are sick of politics: because they see politicians like Huhne and Fox lie and cover their tracks and they are sick of it. "

So what's new?  Immediately after the expenses scandal I started to maintain a page on this website with links to continuing skullduggery stories.  I gave up: why? - because there were, and are, so many of them.  National politics is as rotten as ever.

As for the England rugger team......


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on October 12, 2011, 08:58:00 AM
"Minister Chris Grayling told the BBC: "I thought we had got past the point in politics where we needed to worry about people's private lives"

If that is the case, then there is nothing to hide......


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on October 15, 2011, 07:15:46 AM
Brer Fox and Brer Werrity: good editorial in The Independent sums it all up well: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/leading-articles/leading-article-questions-that-remain-after-a-resignation-long-overdue-2370942.html

These are the self-interested egoists who govern us, no matter which party you look at.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on October 22, 2011, 09:26:55 AM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/camerons-fury-at-plan-to-curb-rich-backers-2374247.html

the Committee on Standards in Public Life is to propose a £10,000 cap on donations to parties by individuals and organisations to "take the big money out of politics".

The Conservatives want trades unions to be included in that.

It seems to me they have a point!  There could be a decent case to include trades unions.  The contributions of their members to the Labour Party (or other party of their individual choice) could be re-administered as individual donations.

While entirely cynical about the current situation regarding donations and political influence by the rich, I also agree with the Conservatives in this instance, that the alternative of state funding for political parties would be wholly unacceptable to the public.  In addition, I think it would be unworkable in practice, as quite clearly ways would be found by rich individuals or organisations to support parties outside the route of direct donations to them.

What do you think?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on October 27, 2011, 08:40:12 AM
Ah, now we're getting to the bottom of that document leaked to the Telegraph (about restoring employers' ability to dismiss at will, without challenge for unfairness)  with some good investigative work (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/tory-donors-bid-to-curb-job-security-provokes-lib-dem-anger-2376461.html)by the Independent: another example of 'the way things are.'  (one's eye was also caught by the phrase "Daleks of Downing Street" LOL)

I hasten to add that this seems to be the way things are with the major national parties, not just the present ruling party.  Politics is about power and money, not about sound administration fair to all.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 01, 2011, 01:30:39 PM
Quote from: Keith on August 13, 2011, 08:08:46 AM
This is beginning to sound more like Iran or Egypt, and less like England.  How are they going to selectively prevent rioters from using social media?  They can't.  If this line is pursued, we will all be blocked - unable to message each other to say that it looks like trouble in Kingston, bar your windows.

Frankly, I would see the use by rioters of the social media as more of an intelligence godsend for the police - except perhaps for encrypted comms.

Today:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/8862335/David-Cameron-wanted-internet-blackout-during-riots.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 03, 2011, 03:20:19 PM
Chaos is a good Greek word.



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 04, 2011, 11:55:49 AM
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/04/greenhouse-gases-rise-record-levels

Serious piece from Associated Press. 


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 05, 2011, 10:03:52 AM
The European Commission is considering (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/eu-well-make-uk-cut-bank-bonuses-6257548.html) tough new proposals to curb the pay and bonuses that banks can hand out to staff working across the European Union.

As in the past -  with Euriopean regulations to clean up our beaches and rivers where our own government was too pusillanimous, or too much in hock to business interests, to act effectively by itself.

The fact that both the major parties duck a serious discussion of the pros and cons of Britain's engagement with Europe means that the electorate has never had a chance to form an objective, unemotional view.

The fact that the leaders of both parties from Mrs Thatcher through Blair to Cameron have signed up to European paper should tell you that there is a positive, indeed essential, side to Europe.

The fact that the leaderships of both parties have, with considerable discomfort,  prevented referenda on the overall issue indicates that they know that, for all  their own privileged information on the benefits of Europe, the electorate is not in tune with them.

The electorate is not in tune with them because the national media is always looking for some sensational or scornful story about foreigners, the Commission seems totally incompetent when it comes to publicising their own message, and governments won't do it for them for fear of being ridiculed by the media.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 07, 2011, 12:36:56 PM
Observe what is happening in Greece, behind the headlines, as the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/07/world/europe/in-greece-economic-crisis-brings-rage-and-paralysis.html?_r=1&hp) does.

As the debt dominoes fall, it could happen here too.  But because governments are taking measures to dampen the debt cataclysm, it is happening in slow motion, over a few years, so you can't easily tell from one day to the next that it is really happening.....


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on November 08, 2011, 12:23:56 PM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/interestrates/8875352/Treasury-Select-Committee-draws-up-powers-to-rein-in-Bank-Governor.html

Beginning of the end of the bank's independence?  Bringing all aspects of fiscal policy under the control of the ruling political party of the day?  How do you feel about that?

The risk may be that we get inferior regulation, partisan policies, short-term expediency, bad decisions, risky lending, inflation.....

What do the City folk here think?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on November 10, 2011, 03:23:26 PM
Yet again, honest and penetrating conservative commentator Peter Oborne comes up with the goods on the Home Office shenanigans: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/peteroborne/100116660/theresa-may%e2%80%99s-attempts-to-pass-the-buck-make-for-a-distressing-spectacle/


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 11, 2011, 10:20:03 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8882816/Hague-facing-questions-over-Libya-deal.html Oiling the wheels of government......

Could Brown's rapprochement with Gadhafi have had anything to do with oil company interests?  Could our current government's eagerness to commit British forces to Gadhafi's opponents have anything to do with oil interests?

Of course they could.  Politics is about power and money.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on November 11, 2011, 12:39:24 PM
http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/architecture/is-liverpools-world-heritage-status-in-ruins-6260430.html
Interesting - local conservationists whistle up UNESCO, Liverpool might lose significant status if council gives go-ahead for huge ugly development.  Labour-controlled council this time.
The Independent: "The Peel Group of 200 companies" [[ Peel Group is the developers, according to the Independent headed by a tax exile....]] "  is a member of the Downtown Liverpool in Business pressure group headed by former Labour Party activist Frank McKenna. McKenna yesterday called for Liverpool to ditch its world heritage status "if it gets in the way of rebuilding our economy."

Rather puts Taggs Boatyard and the Waterworks money-making wheeze in the shade!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 12, 2011, 10:19:00 AM
Interesting report in The nIndependent: (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/courts-step-in-to-save-vulnerable-from-cuts-6261192.html)

"...second High Court ruling this week to deal a major blow to local authorities seeking to save millions of pounds by targeting adult social care in the wake of massive central government cuts to their budgets.

Mrs Justice Lang, sitting in London, ruled against the Isle of Wight's plan to restrict access to social care by making it harder for people to meet eligibility criteria. The judgment makes it unlawful for councils trying to make cuts to adult social care to ignore the impact this will have on a person's quality of life.

Charities including Age UK, Scope and the National Autistic Society welcomed the decision, which implies that councils are obliged to do much more than merely keep people safe. Before cutting care, they must give equal consideration to factors such as prevention of neglect, support with personal care, access to education or support to maintain family relationships."


Will our present government respond by changing the law or by the moves they want to make to reduce the independence of the judiciary in interpreting it?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Deborah on November 12, 2011, 12:27:18 PM
A very welcome decision. The reality though is that local authorities have insufficient monies to meet the needs of their populations. This is only going to get worse with increasing numbers of older and disabled people, pressure from the poulation not to increase taxes and restrictions on what can be raised in local taxes. Choices will need to be made - do we want pot holes filled, new street lights, and free libraries or do we want to care for our neighbours?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Isabella on November 12, 2011, 02:19:09 PM
People are more important than things, but I think it is very reasonable to want all those things, and we can have them if government doesn't spend on things like bombing Iran, making payments of £100000 a year to families on benefits, if local governments were more efficient and if those companies and individuals in the private sector were not allowed to evade their share of tax in rip-off Britain.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 14, 2011, 10:11:37 PM
Quote from: Keith on November 05, 2011, 10:03:52 AM
The fact that both the major parties duck a serious discussion of the pros and cons of Britain's engagement with Europe means that the electorate has never had a chance to form an objective, unemotional view.

The fact that the leaders of both parties from Mrs Thatcher through Blair to Cameron have signed up to European paper should tell you that there is a positive, indeed essential, side to Europe.

The fact that the leaderships of both parties have, with considerable discomfort,  prevented referenda on the overall issue indicates that they know that, for all  their own privileged information on the benefits of Europe, the electorate is not in tune with them.

The electorate is not in tune with them because the national media is always looking for some sensational or scornful story about foreigners, the Commission seems totally incompetent when it comes to publicising their own message, and governments won't do it for them for fear of being ridiculed by the media.


...and now, Cameron speaks well on the matter: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15730084


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Juninho on November 15, 2011, 09:14:56 AM
What I love is that we may no longer have a 3p hike in fuel duty... as if thats some sort of concession... !

(re: the hole this will leave in the budget well that was a stupid way to plug it in)

The beeb have a great graphic on the cost of petrol and how it breaks down:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15462923

Its not as if we don't pay enough tax on fuel... tax that is in fact tax'ed... !

If you work it out... we pay VAT (a tax) on duty (a tax) on petrol with money that has already been taxed (i.e. post income tax money).

Also the profit the reatiler makes is taxed as is any profit made by the oil provider (unless they are the same in which case at least its only one additional tax).


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 16, 2011, 07:39:41 AM
That spin again - why few trust government
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/another-fine-mess-for-the-home-secretary-6262790.html :
"Sir Michael Scholar, the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, condemned the department [[ Home Office ]] for a "highly selective" briefing to journalists which claimed that the amount of heroin and cocaine detected at ports and airports had soared – just days before properly audited figures showed seizures had fallen.....the amount of heroin seized in England and Wales had actually halved in 2010-11 compared with 2009-10, while the amount of cocaine found was down by one-quarter."


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 19, 2011, 09:23:16 AM
"Pickles's "curry college", as it is being called (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/nov/18/pickles-curry-college-intergration-strategy), would see the government backing a school to train British people from all backgrounds to become chefs specialising in Indian food as an answer to the crisis in the £3.2bn curry industry triggered by the Home Office's ban on bringing in chefs from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan."

Glory be! Is this really an area for government interference?!  Irresistibly appeals to one's sense of humour, so much that I had to read the article very carefully to be sure it wasn't some whimsical columnist's parody.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on November 19, 2011, 05:08:43 PM
'Your Money and How They Spend It’ will be shown on BBC Two at 9pm on Nov 23 and 30.  By Nick Robinson - taster here. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8899281/Nick-Robinson-The-truth-about-your-money-and-how-government-wastes-it.html)

Looks interesting...


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 20, 2011, 06:27:23 PM
Next Saturday is global Buy Nothing Day (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/buy-nothing-day-adbusters-role-in-the-global-occupy-movement-6263205.html) "The plan, says Adbusters co-founder Kalle Lasn, is to stretch it out and turn it into a Buy Nothing Christmas. He wants us to bypass the tinsel, the tree and the tat and go cold turkey on consumerism for the whole festive period. "We are," he says, "going to try and take back our Christmas season from the commercial forces that have hijacked it.""

Three Cheers!  I always think of Christmas and New Year as something you just have to grit your teeth and get through, rather than a pleasant and reflective SHORT midwinter feast laced with goodwill that you can look forward to!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on November 24, 2011, 08:01:49 AM
Saying of the day:  "Wherever there is a reckless borrower, there is also a reckless lender."  - Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on November 24, 2011, 12:07:53 PM
EU sounds alarm for threatened freshwater species (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15862137) - another area where the EU toils for good, while the tabloids focus on other headlines to impugn it.

There is some good news in the river wildlife story, however.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 25, 2011, 12:51:40 PM
The Leveson inquiry is very interesting, containing many serious issues.  I'm sure we have all been shocked by, and sympathetic towards, those who have so far testified to press harrassment which clearly must be better curbed.

However, there is also another side, as this interesting intervention by a father of one of the 7/7 victims makes clear: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/leveson-inquiry/8915022/Leveson-Inquiry-Graham-Foulkes-father-of-77-victim-says-it-has-been-hijacked-by-celebrities.html.  He makes the point that rich celebrities are no strangers to manipulating the media themselves.

The key question for me is that of privacy versus public interest.  That the public may be "interested" in a "celebrity's" private life is not the same as the matter of genuine public interest in our political and business leaders and others whose behaviour and integrity  is of importance to us as they exert power and influence over our lives, and seek to legislate over us or control the wherewithal by which we live.  The danger is that the results of the inquiry will be exploited by the political classes to censor or otherwise make more difficult the task of reporting fully on themselves.

But everyone should be allowed some personal refuge - a home and garden - where the press and long lenses are are not allowed.

What do others think?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Walker2 on November 26, 2011, 11:16:02 AM
I've been meaning to post this for a while:
MPs elected in the last parliament were four time as likely to go to prison than ordinary Britons.  http://blogs.channel4.com/factcheck/factcheck-casting-an-eye-over-westminsters-jailbirds/6685

And that's with the prison population as high as ever.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Isabella on November 28, 2011, 10:50:22 AM
It has always been like that.  A few years ago there was a list being circulated of members of an earlier parliament which had a big number of convicts in it.  I forget which year.  There was another one in America about the Congress and the Senate, showing just the same thing.  Politics seems to attract the wrong sorts.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Walker2 on November 28, 2011, 11:00:50 AM
Remember John Major's back-to-basics slogan, as his government engaged in one sleazy activity after another? 

Wellington said of parliament that "I never saw so many shocking bad hats in my life." 


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 28, 2011, 11:05:39 AM
Two notable Conservative Prime Ministers LOL.  Wellington was in fact referring to the Parliament after the Reform Act, if I recall correctly.  As Prime Minister and before, he had resolutely opposed any extension of the franchise beyond the  qualifications of the landed at the time, when most parliamentary seats were effectively in the gift of this or that Lord who held the land and had power over the voting tenants of it.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Ratty on December 02, 2011, 10:43:40 PM
Just saw it announced on Newsnight that Experian research has identified Elmbridge and Mole Valley as 'least vulnerable to austerity measures'. ???


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on December 05, 2011, 12:17:47 PM
Interesting but unsurprising piece in the Indie: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/news/i-didnt-get-where-i-am-today-by-being-nice-6272348.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on December 06, 2011, 07:21:11 AM
Income inequality growing faster in UK than any other rich country, says OECD (http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/dec/05/income-inequality-growing-faster-uk)

and

ABI demands banks act to cut bonuses and overhaul pay (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/8936513/ABI-demands-banks-act-to-cut-bonuses-and-overhaul-pay.html)

and

Office of Budgetary Responsibility risks loss of credibility (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8936801/OBR-credibility-on-line-after-four-downgrades.html) (most of us gave a hollow laugh at the grand title chosen by Osborne for this new quango)

and

riots will return unless we reach out to young (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/dec/05/riots-return-young-archbishop-canterbury) writes Rowan Williams.

and a rather good piece by Mary Riddell in the Telegraph: In their rush to save the economy, politicians forget about the people, and the gulf widens between rich and poor (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8935845/In-their-rush-to-save-the-economy-politicians-forget-about-the-people-and-the-gulf-widens-between-rich-and-poor.html):  "...government of the people, by the people, for the people” has been replaced by" government of the markets, by the markets, for the markets"

Now, do you reckon these themes are related?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on December 06, 2011, 07:32:11 AM
The Independent: "Caught on camera: top lobbyists boasting how they influence the PM " (http://v) reminds us that

"David Cameron pledged to tackle lobbying five years ago and then again last year, saying it was "the next big scandal waiting to happen" and "has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money". He said he wanted to shine "the light of transparency" on lobbying so that politics "comes clean about who is buying power and influence".

But that's another politician's pledge not honoured.  They are all the same, it seems.  All froth and no beer.  The Werrity scandal, and the Coulson/News International/Sky saga,  suggest to many that jobbery thrives.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on December 09, 2011, 08:44:26 AM
So - a new EuroTreaty in prospect, with the UK out of it.  This will please the diehard chauvinists who have hobbled Cameron, and the City of course.  Labour's predicament if still in office would have been little different.

"Mr Sarkozy said the sticking point had been Mr Cameron's insistence on a protocol allowing London to opt out on proposed change on financial services.
He said the exemptions Britain proposed were unacceptable because a lack of sufficient regulation had caused the current problems.
"We were not able to accept (the British demands) because we consider quite the contrary - that a very large and substantial amount of the problems we are facing around the world are a result of lack of regulation of financial services and therefore can't have a waiver for the United Kingdom," he said."


More than a little truth in that, you may agree.

Thus - do you see this as the first step to liberation from the yoke of Johnny Foreigner, and the birth of a vibrant new Britain that will now go on to restore its position as the workshop, and bank, of the world?  Or as a step in  isolation and decline, becoming little more than an offshore theme park with a quaint monarchy, the main revenue apart from garden design and rebranding consultancies coming from foreign tourists keen to see the changing of the guard and travel on cute double-decker buses?  Where surviving bankers quaff ancient port in leather armchairs while millions in counties north of London remain without productive jobs?

Of course, we could always ask the USA if England  could become the 51st state as the UK itself breaks up over the next few decades...  George Washington would have been chuffed.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on December 12, 2011, 09:39:34 AM
Interesting international survey (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16108437) covering 11,000 people in 23 countries done by the BBC World Service (anyone who has been in the business of international affairs knows what a precious and priceless asset the World Service is to both Britain and the truth.  Yet despite costing peanuts, it is a regular target for cuts because you can't easily set a monetary value on what it produces).

- corruption emerged as the most talked about global concern.  Nearly a quarter of those asked had discussed that topic in some form over the past four weeks.
- next came extreme poverty
- inflation on level pegging with unemployment in third place

"Corruption and poverty emerge as hardy perennials of global debate."  I would venture that these two things are linked.



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on December 12, 2011, 11:13:40 AM
Quote from: Keith on December 09, 2011, 08:44:26 AM
So - a new EuroTreaty in prospect, with the UK out of it. 
....do you see this as the first step to liberation from the yoke of Johnny Foreigner, and the birth of a vibrant new Britain.... Or as a step in  isolation and decline, becoming little more than an offshore theme park with a quaint monarchy,...


Three days later and we have seen again what a poor leader (though possibly a nice chap) Nick Clegg is - vacillating from one day to the next over Cameron's European veto.  We have seen the most amazing outpouring of mindless chauvinist comments by online readers of the Daily Telegraph on the article reporting events in Brussels.  And today we have a rather good article showing some evidence of thought by Boris Johnson (to one's inward surprise!): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/8950101/Were-right-about-the-euro-thats-why-Europe-is-angry.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/8950101/Were-right-about-the-euro-thats-why-Europe-is-angry.html)

I had to laugh - not for the first time - at William Hague: "We're not isolated.  We are standing apart."
[img width=500 height=324]http://residents-association.com/images/isolation.jpg[/img]


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on December 18, 2011, 10:22:24 AM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/revealed-the-true-scale-of-britains-woodland-selloff-6278861.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on December 18, 2011, 10:28:06 AM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/ed-miliband-plans-party-shakeup-as-criticism-of-his-leadership-escalates-6278839.html

Cameron is lucky that the LibDems have weak and vacillating leadership and that the Labour Party is led by a man of straw.  The main serious opposition to him seems to come from the recalcitrant  right of his party; and on the other flank from the decent folk who wouldn't be seen dead holding a membership card for any of those three discreditable parties.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on December 19, 2011, 08:58:35 AM
Boris again: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/8964824/EU-crisis-The-Frogs-do-love-us-theyre-just-hopping-mad-with-Germany.html

I must say that while the cause of peace and prosperity might not be much advanced, Boris Johnson would make a most entertaining Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, enlivening the daily diplomatic grind of my successors in office wherever they may be toiling.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: craigvmax on December 19, 2011, 11:46:29 AM
he could have Prince Phillip as an etiquette advisor


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on December 19, 2011, 12:08:58 PM
It would be a brilliant combination!

A seminal experience for me in my first post, in Iron Curtain Warsaw, was a visit by James Callaghan, then Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs.  He was fresh from dealing with Idi Amin.  We were negotiating a 'friendship agreement' requested by the Poles, and I was assigned to be his aide and interpreter during the visit.  There was a long discussion of visa requirements - ours were tougher than the Poles'.  Eventually, Callaghan simply closed his briefing folder and said calmly: "Look, the basic issue is that we have to be more careful about who we let in from Poland, because once they are in we don't follow them around like you do with British visitors."  There was a stunned silence, then they changed the subject and the visa question was left as it was.

At the reception later, the lead negotiator from the Polish MFA came up to me and said: "That Mr. Callaghan of yours - now he's a real diplomat."

I bore that in mind ever after!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on December 21, 2011, 10:10:37 AM
Cable has cut a disappointingly silly figure much of his time in office.  Unprepared for responsible leadership, unable to rise to it.  However, he has written some truths in the Guardian today:

Vince Cable attacks 'whingeing' City (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/dec/20/vince-cable-attacks-whinging-city):

"Cable says there are two views of the City. "One is that it is a vital national interest: a unique network of innovative firms and workaholic employees who generate shedloads of tax revenue for UK PLC. The other is that it is a source of systemic instability, unfettered greed and industrial-scale tax dodging." The uncomfortable truth, he adds, "is that both of these caricatures are true".

He continues: "A great deal of the apparently high-minded European drive to tax and regulate Britain's enclave of Anglo-Saxon capitalism is prompted by a protectionist desire to have a bigger slice of it. And much of the patriotic flag waving by the City disguises special pleading on behalf of banks, in particular, whose practices have caused immense damage to Britain's productive economy.""


Looks spot on, to me.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on December 22, 2011, 10:19:33 AM
Will British people ever think in metric? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16245391)
The BBC must have been reading our website again...... (http://residents-association.com/announcements.php#weights)

Also - was it coincidence that a week after we reported the failure ot the Christmas Lights switch-on, The Archers also featured a problem during Ambridge's switch-on (according to one resident listener).... LOL


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on December 24, 2011, 09:30:46 AM
The British public want business to put "people before profits" (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/its-time-that-we-valued-people-over-profits-poll-results-show-6281282.html)

Some hope - unless, by putting our money only with such companies, we can make it worth their while.

I think the past decade has seen the principle, that unfettered ('free') markets are the best way, increasingly, and rightly, questioned.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on December 27, 2011, 05:13:50 PM
So.

One day, like today,  we have 100 beds in a ward in an NHS hospital, and the hospital can take private patients in two of them.

The next day - says our government - the hospital will be allowed to take private patients in 49 of those beds....

"This will directly benefit NHS patients" - says Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health and MP for Cambridgeshire South, who  (according to his own website) was awarded the CBE for running the Conservative campaign for the 1992 General Election.

But do you think it will be easier for an NHS patient to get one of those beds, or harder?

And do you think Andrew Lansley perchance has private medical insurance?  I wonder.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on December 28, 2011, 10:00:04 AM
Third of unemployed are convicted criminals (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/8979769/Third-of-unemployed-are-convicted-criminals.html)

"A third of people claiming out-of-work benefits have a recent criminal record, official statistics have disclosed."

At last the figures of two separate departments of state have been matched.  But which is cause, which effect?  The Conservative commentators so far seem to imply that it is the criminality that leads to unemployment (and benefit claims)......but is it the unemployment that leads to criminality?  Which came first in those cases? 

Another report today shows that on average 23 people chase every new job in Britain


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on December 30, 2011, 10:11:22 AM
There's quite a good and uncoloured presentation on UK debt here: http://www.economicshelp.org/blog/334/uk-economy/uk-national-debt/

-----

comment: this ONS graph of UK national debt shows that far from the problem being fixed, it continues to explode (so the eventual reckoning will be even harder):
(http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/resources/110816netdebt_tcm77-224828.png)

Vast numbers of young people buying electronic goods of foreign manufacture in Kingston yesterday was also suggestive of huge crashes to come....  where do they get the money?!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: craigvmax on December 30, 2011, 07:37:14 PM
Credit cards my guess. I too went to Kingston and it was hell yesterday, I was only pleased I didn't drive as that looked horrendous


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on December 31, 2011, 09:48:32 AM
Telegraph, bastion of the moderate right: "David Cameron is facing a backlash after a millionaire businessman jailed for fraud, a former drugs dealer and a controversial Conservative Party donor appeared in today’s New Year Honours list.
....
Another surprising choice from the world of media was a knighthood for Peter Bazalgette, the businessman who brought Big Brother, the reality television show, to Britain.

More than a third of knighthoods will this year go to bankers and businessmen, compared with just a handful before the Coalition came to power.

Another businessmen to receive a knighthood was Rod Aldridge, who rose to the top of outsourcing company Capita. Mr Aldridge resigned from his job in 2006 over a secret £1 million loan to the Labour party in the “cash for peerages” scandal before the 2005 election.

Last night, Mr Ruddock declined to comment on his honour since he was “in Asia and at a dinner party”, while Mr Ronson did not return calls for comment.
"
(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/honours-list/8985731/New-Year-Honours-2012-Controversy-over-honours-for-Conservatives-friends-in-the-City.html)

Is anyone surprised?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on December 31, 2011, 12:55:29 PM
And The Indie: "A Conservative donor who made millions by short-selling banking shares and a property developer who was jailed for his part in one of Britain's largest stock exchange frauds today both receive awards in the New Year Honours list."

The theory of non-pecuniary (and, to the state, almost cost-free) reward for service to the country and community is fine; its practice in our political system is often questionable.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on January 05, 2012, 10:22:47 AM
I don't know whether this is horror or comedy:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-election/8992844/US-elections-2012-Rick-Santorum-the-new-star-but-his-Google-problem-could-yet-scupper-his-campaign.html

It all depends on whether he is selected then elected


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on January 06, 2012, 09:11:56 AM
Only one in four people who voted Liberal Democrat at the last election still supports the party, according to new research (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/lib-dems-lose-three-out-of-four-of-their-voters-6285640.html) - YouGov poll with a large sample size.

No surprise there then.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Evergreen on January 06, 2012, 10:52:07 PM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/8999110/Big-donors-buying-policy.html  - warns chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life.  "Undermining public trust in Westminster" 

No surprise there either!

Sir Christopher Kelly adds: “The thought that anyone would give such a large sum of money to a party solely for altruistic reasons is quite a difficult one. "

Sky - "Convicted fraudster and former Liberal Democrat donor Michael Brown has been arrested in the Dominican Republic, City of London Police say."  They didn't give the £2.5 million back did they?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on January 10, 2012, 09:24:27 AM
8 Feb 2010: David Cameron warns lobbying is next political scandal (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/election-2010/7189466/David-Cameron-warns-lobbying-is-next-political-scandal.html) and pledged to introduce measures to curb attempts by business to seek influence on Government policy

Oct 2011: Telegraph - "Property developers have mounted a “huge” lobbying campaign backed by the rich and powerful to alter radically planning laws in favour of development" (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/hands-off-our-land/8833016/Hands-Off-Our-Land-the-huge-lobbying-war-chest-behind-the-builders.html)

Oct-Nov  2011:  Fox and Werrity saga

Nov 2011: Guardian - House builders lobbied cabinet privately to get planning relaxed (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/nov/20/house-builders-lobbied-cabinet-planning)

10 January 2012: Independent - (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cameron-aide-broke-rules-by-joining-lobbying-firm-6287418.html)"One of David Cameron's senior Downing Street advisers has broken rules meant to stop former government officials from trading on their inside knowledge of Whitehall and access to ministers...James O'Shaughnessy, until recently Downing Street's director of policy, failed to inform the Whitehall committee which vets jobs for officials leaving Government that he planned to join the lobbying company Portland as its chief policy adviser
"Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee of Standards in Public Life, said it was a "serious error of judgement"


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on January 23, 2012, 11:00:52 AM
Good article by Mary Ann Sieghart on the benefits cap: bang on the button: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/mary-ann-sieghart/mary-ann-sieghart-when-the-people-can-see-what-fairness-is-why-cant-miliband-6293265.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on February 10, 2012, 11:30:36 AM
Tim Montgomerie, the editor of ConservativeHome (one of the very few active and stimulating foci of grassroots politics on the UK web),  has urged Cameron to drop Lansley and current plans for NHS reform.   Lansley has failed to win public support for the legislation.   Montgomerie says he was encouraged to speak out by three Conservative cabinet minsters who believe that pressing ahead with the bill would be folly.

Locally, the NHS was in a mess under the previous government (the fingers point at the Trust in Surrey for inept management and loss of control over funds) and it is in a mess now.  Despite the Conservative pledges pre- and post-election  to ring-fence the budget and avoid cuts in front-line services, the small print of what they propose requires the NHS to make savings of £20bn over the next few years. 

In and around Thames Ditton, front-line services have been seriously jeopardised.  Last year the number of NHS patients funded for Giggs Hill Surgery, for example, was slashed arbitrarily by the Surrey PCT.  This year, the mess caused by government reforms has meant that the contracts for organisations set up by GPs to supply medical services to the NHS are not being renewed, I gather.  This form of privatisation was set up at the  behest of the last government.  Organisations such as our local MEDICS were established in dutiful response, and investment made by the GPs.  Now under the present government the NHS is pulling the rug out from under.  It's a serious mess.

The local NHS management  is impenetrable to the public, despite its fine PR about patient involvement, consultation, representation &c. &c..  There are reams of incomprehensible documents to which they refer public enquirers.  I made a simple  FOI request last year.  It was answered in totally obfuscatory terms - a complete waste of time.

The bottom line is that the Conservatives have never liked the NHS.  Mrs Thatcher wanted to privatise health services, and so do these people. 


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on February 10, 2012, 12:47:04 PM
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16969509 "The AA is set to launch a new insurance policy which uses sat-nav technology to track driver performance."

Reminds me of the spy-in-the-cab saga with lorry drivers... what do you think?  I guess it's optional - you want to save on your premium, you go with the monitoring...


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: craigvmax on February 10, 2012, 01:08:55 PM
absolutely no chance


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Evergreen on February 10, 2012, 01:38:06 PM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9073334/Tax-breaks-for-hiring-a-cleaner-could-save-middle-class-thousands.html

A clear pointer to the government's priorities !!!  :D


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: craigvmax on February 12, 2012, 06:19:50 PM
You never fail to make me smile, welcome back


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on February 13, 2012, 08:41:00 AM
Indeed, welcome back Fortescue-Smythe.  But I am slightly surprised you say that the West Indies are well run!  Unless you mean Grand Cayman?  (which I never visited).  Or BVI?  Which are wonderful.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on February 13, 2012, 08:43:05 AM
http://www.elmbridgeguardian.co.uk/news/9526629.Surrey_Police_officer_arrested_in_corruption_probe/

Elveden-related.  Sigh.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on February 15, 2012, 09:42:32 AM
Definitely the way things are, and very sinister.  How stupid can the human race get?  Certainly a great deal of the stupidity seems to originate in the USA, though Brits are far from blameless in that respect either:
http://www.desmogblog.com/heartland-institute-exposed-internal-documents-unmask-heart-climate-denial-machine
picked up in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/15/leak-exposes-heartland-institute-climate

As usual, the problem arises when scientific results are seized by both extremes to advance a cause that has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics or money.  It then becomes almost impossible to have a reasoned debate and decisions based on evidence.  From round-earthers through evolution to the best way to combat the drugs problem, you see emotion or special interests ruling over reason.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on February 22, 2012, 12:12:41 PM
This looks rather serious: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/9097558/Britain-at-risk-from-GoldenEye-electromagnetic-pulse-attack-from-space-MPs-warn.html

prompting the random disorderly thoughts that
...... MPs welcome any distraction
...... all those really terrible TV programmes on property makeovers, 'antique' tatting, ridiculous recipes, ghastly game shows, excruciating celebrity-visits-historic-Maldives-and-reports, would be off the air

But no, it does look all too plausible.  I particularly liked the Defence Committee's comment that:
"It is time that the Government began to approach this matter with the seriousness it deserves." 
c.f. my whimsical piece on the language of diplomacy at the end of TDT Summer 2011



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on February 22, 2012, 12:29:15 PM
Sigh.  Here we go again:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9097338/Four-arrested-in-fraud-probe-at-back-to-work-programme.html

"Two men and two women have been arrested by police investigating allegations of fraud at a Government-backed work programme.
... A4e, a company that receives Government contracts to help the jobless get back into work....The investigation is said to centre on claims the company received funding despite placing employees in jobs for just one day.....a whistleblower claimed staff were put under pressure to say they had found work for unemployed people, according to the Daily Mail.
.....The chairman of A4e, Emma Harrison, who is believed to be worth £70 million, was named "back to work tsar" by David Cameron
....“Thames Valley Police officers visited the offices of A4E in Slough on Friday 17 February as part of an allegation of fraud, which was referred to the Force by the Department for Work and Pensions.  As part of the investigation, four people, two woman aged 28 and 49, and two men, aged 35 and 41, were arrested on suspicion of fraud on 18 January from addresses across the Thames Valley. They have all been released on police bail until mid-March. “The investigation is ongoing and at an early stage, therefore we are unable to comment further at this time."

Privatisation.... !!!

------------------------

.... Wholly unrelated (but thought-provoking): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-17119617 G4S to run Lincolnshire police station
"A private security company has signed a deal to design, build and run a police station in Lincolnshire....540 civilian workers at Lincolnshire Police will move across to G4S, from April, in what is thought to be the biggest single transfer of police staff to a private company.

The police authority will pay G4S £200m over 10 years to deliver a range of services, including human resources, finance and IT."


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on February 27, 2012, 07:07:46 PM
"Church sickened by NOTW hacking" I saw as a BBC headline.

At last, thought I, some firm moral leadership from the Men In Frocks.

But no.  This is Charlotte Church, Welsh singer, songwriter, actress and television presenter.  So I searched for the Anglican Church's position. The Church Commissioners own almost 350,000 shares in News Corp, worth £3.8 million.  So they wrote a stiff letter to Murdoch.  But did they sell the shares?  I can't find any confirmation that they did - or indeed, what they did after the letter in July 2011, despite the daily shockers coming out of the Leveson Inquiry.  Can anyone, ermmm, enlighten me?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on February 28, 2012, 09:52:10 AM
Yahoo/AFP: (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/upper-class-people-more-likely-cheat-study-201208011.html;_ylt=AoZ2fQshToYmmpDCL4ggcejEfMl_;_ylu=X3oDMTFxa3RwMG0xBG1pdANJbmZpbml0ZSBCcm93c2UgVGV4dARwb3MDNgRzZWMDTWVkaWFJbmZpbml0ZUJyb3dzZUxpc3Q-;_ylg=X3oDMTJydTk3YTZzBGludGwDZ2IEbGFuZwNlbi1nYgRwc3RhaWQDMjllMWFmNmItZTQ0Ni0zMTA5LThmMDMtNDQyMDdmNmRlYzk2BHBzdGNhdAN1awRwdANzdG9yeXBhZ2UEdGVzdAM-;_ylv=3) People from the wealthy upper classes are more likely than poorer folks to break laws while driving, take candy from children and lie for financial gain....study by psychologists at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Toronto analyzed people's behavior through a series of experiments.....For instance, drivers of expensive vehicles such as Mercedes, BMW and Toyota's Prius hybrid were seen breaking the rules more often at four-way intersections than people who drove a Camry or Corolla.  They were also more likely to cut off pedestrians trying to cross the street than drivers of cheaper cars.

The lead author of the study has the unusual name of Piff.

Telegraph: "Overall the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that those from richer or powerful backgrounds appeared greedier, more likely to lie in negotiation and more likely to cheat. "

Intristin'


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 04, 2012, 08:49:05 AM
Bye, bye, Big Society (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-17249026): "Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo), which helped run the £100m transition fund set up by the government to help charities facing financial difficulties, found applicants to the fund faced cuts of more than £520m in the current financial year, and estimated that the UK charity sector as a whole faced cuts of between £1bn and £5.5bn."

(...and 'bye, Steve Hilton)



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 04, 2012, 08:59:43 AM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/poor-lonely-and-cold-life-in-britain-for-the-over60s-7534764.html
Sixteen per cent of people over state pension age are living in poverty; 3.3 million are unable to warm their homes (an increase of more than half a million in the past two years); and 800,000 are not receiving the care they need.  More than 30 per cent of over-65s said they find it hard to get treatment from their nearest hospital, Age UK found.  "The older population is the fastest-growing, with 14.1m people over 60. This number is greater than the under-16s" .... An estimated one million over-65s are malnourished.

Do you have any stories locally?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: angel on March 04, 2012, 10:11:40 AM
My Dad who is 97 gets very good treatment from our local GP surgery (Thorkhill) and the district nurses.  After a short spell in hospital the occupational therapist visited Dad's house to make sure all was safe and carers organised.  Some carers more thoughtful than others but generally very good.  Dad tells me how lucky he is as he is warm, well fed and has visitors daily.  He gets the fuel allowance which pays the winter bills.  Joke is I can't get him to go out in a wheel chair as that's what 'old people' do.  I understand how some people miss out on benefits as the amount of form filling is daunting and each department want duplicate information.



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 05, 2012, 09:31:53 AM
I guess you're all interested in the prospect of war with Iran, and certainly the oil markets are (Craig?...how are they going?)

So: the day before the Obama - Netanyahu meeting we have Obama warning against 'loose talk' of war with Iran, and saying that he "has Israel's back;"  and Netanyahu saying that "I very much appreciated the fact that President Obama reiterated his position that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons and that all options are on the table.  Perhaps most important of all, I appreciated the fact that he said that Israel must be able to defend itself, by itself, against any threat." (My bolding). 

Thinks: Deal = Israel holds off strike on Iran if US allows Israel access to 'Star wars' technology / weaponry for countering ballistic missiles.  US guarantee to use those weapons by itself to defend Israel not enough for deal.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: craigvmax on March 05, 2012, 09:35:04 AM
Keith, if only I knew, I feel less informed than ever!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 05, 2012, 09:55:28 AM
Quote from: angel on March 04, 2012, 10:11:40 AM
My Dad who is 97 gets very good treatment from our local GP surgery (Thorkhill) and the district nurses.  After a short spell in hospital the occupational therapist visited Dad's house to make sure all was safe and carers organised.  Some carers more thoughtful than others but generally very good.  Dad tells me how lucky he is as he is warm, well fed and has visitors daily.  He gets the fuel allowance which pays the winter bills.  Joke is I can't get him to go out in a wheel chair as that's what 'old people' do.  I understand how some people miss out on benefits as the amount of form filling is daunting and each department want duplicate information.


Thanks, angel - it's useful to have some first-hand anecdotes, also helpful to others who face the question of elderly parents.  And reassuring.  When we read about these things in the press from Age UK, we never know just what the angle may be (lobbying).  Anyone else have good/bad experiences locally?

I see that of late, Linwood care home has been much more active with events for their residents and also with the PR - though the recent fire was not mentioned,  but discovered by the local Guardian.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Dittonian on March 07, 2012, 11:26:29 AM
The Tories will be viewed as unelectable unless they shed "backward looking social attitudes," Mr Maude, the minister for the Cabinet Office will tell MPs and party members. (Telegraph)

The trouble is, ALL our political parties are unelectable!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 07, 2012, 12:52:37 PM
Quote from: Dittonian on March 07, 2012, 11:26:29 AM
The trouble is, ALL our political parties are unelectable!


LOL  too true.

I liked the phrase of Maude's "the Tory party is a phoenix not a dodo"

Now, what manner of birds would the Labour and LibDem parties be?....  thinks... gryphon, no (or maybe the BNP).  Ostrich - yes, Libdems.  Labour?  Ah yes, the loon.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Walker2 on March 07, 2012, 01:07:07 PM
Despite being voted out by the electorate, politicians will be entitled to up to six months’ salary to help them adjust to life outside the Commons, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) said.

It surely is a difficult transition from the House of Commons to real life among us plebs, so six months pay is probably not enough.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 09, 2012, 07:49:54 AM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/who-are-the-commons-moles-changing-wikipedia-entries-7545991.html:
"An analysis by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism for The Independent has found that MPs and staff working in the House of Commons have been responsible for making nearly 10,000 changes to pages of the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia.

Nearly one in six MPs have had their online Wikipedia entries changed from Parliament and dozens of the alterations appear to be attempts to erase embarrassing or disputed allegations made during the 2009 expenses scandal."


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 11, 2012, 10:05:37 AM
Guardian: (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/mar/10/thousands-999-police-axed-spending-cuts) "The number of police dealing with 999 emergencies has fallen by more than 5,000 since the last general election, according to new figures that seriously undermine David Cameron's pledge to be defending "frontline" forces from spending cuts.

The figures, compiled from responses to freedom of information requests from all 43 forces in England and Wales, are a severe embarrassment to the government, which has insisted that its 20% funding cuts will not compromise public safety or the fight against crime."


Comment: I don't think this is happening in Surrey, where we have an additional Neighbourhood constable in the Dittons and where the interesting sell-off of under-used police stations and rebasing of police in other community hubs has been accompanied by promises to recruit 200 more officers for the front line with the monies saved.  But it wants watching.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 12, 2012, 09:40:56 AM
Swiss voters reject longer holidays in referendum (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17335444)

This BBC report makes a very interesting short read for those (like me) who hold that voters are sensible and intelligent and will be responsible if properly consulted on policy issues.  The Swiss use of referendums is an interesting model.  Our leaders in government and local government, please note.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 14, 2012, 11:57:37 AM
The Encyclopedia Britannica (http://news.yahoo.com/encyclopedia-britannica-ends-print-goes-digital-085305858.html), which has been in continuous print since it was first published in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1768, said Tuesday it will end publication of its printed editions and continue with digital versions available online.

Soon we will all be wholly digital, like the Cylons (if you are fans of Battlestar Galactica, as I am).


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 14, 2012, 01:03:06 PM
Telegraph yesterday:

Leahy attacks 'dark satanic mills' view of wealth creation (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/yourbusiness/9141008/Leahy-attacks-dark-satanic-mills-view-of-wealth-creation.html) "Sir Terry Leahy has called on Britain to rediscover the “nobility” of making money and stop seeing wealth creation in terms of "dark satanic mills" and "fat cat bankers”.

Telegraph today:
Top Goldman executive quits over culture of 'toxic' greed (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9142641/Top-Goldman-executive-quits-over-culture-of-toxic-greed.html) " Greg Smith, who is resigning today as a Goldman Sachs executive director and head of its US equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa after 12 years, wrote [ in the New York Times]:
"I can honestly say that the environment now is as toxic and destructive as I have ever seen it. To put the problem in the simplest terms, the interests of the client continue to be sidelined in the way the firm operates and thinks about making money." "

So.  I guess it depends on who the weath is created for, and of course what happens to it then - salted away in tax havens, spent on wild parties, overly-sumptuous mansions, drugs, private yachts and planes, or (as in Victorian times) education and health programs for workers, libraries, museums....

----------
Meanwhile, the Treasury is to offer 100-year gilts.  A telling comment is: "Similar gilts have only previously been used to fund the First World War and the fallout from the South Sea Bubble, when speculators almost bankrupted the global economy."  So, our readers in the financial world: are these a bargain to be snapped up, or .... not?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 14, 2012, 01:13:14 PM
Quote:
the South Sea Bubble

By the way, when researching the Lamberts of Weston Green I was intrigued to see that their ancestor the first Sir John Lambert was a founding director of the South Sea Company in 1711, and he personally funded no less than £400,000 of British national debt, which at the time was over one percent of the total national debt!  (given a baronetcy in return).  See TD Today Spring issue.

What I don't mention in there is that another founding director of the South Sea Company was John, later Sir John, Blunt.  In one of those felicitous combinations of names and professions, he was....the owner of a sword manufacturing company.

I have been unable to confirm that it was called Blunt Swords, but am still hoping...


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Dittonian on March 14, 2012, 01:28:42 PM
Alexander Pope:
"At length corruption, like a general flood
(So long by watchful ministers withstood),
Shall deluge all; and avarice, creeping on,
Spread like a low-born mist, and blot the sun.
....
See Britain sunk in lucre's sordid charms. "


And it all happened again.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 17, 2012, 08:45:19 AM
Quote from: Admin on August 19, 2011, 08:18:12 AM
The private sector does tend to be more efficient than the public sector at most things.  But to what end?  Private companies are in it to extract money from the public sector (i.e. us) for their shareholders, and they are more efficient at doing that than the civil servants are in retaining value for the taxpayer.  The private sector has no interest in accumulating good value for the taxpayer - but  only in extracting as much of that value as possible for their own profit.  Simple, really.

Today's Telegraph: "Bupa put profit first at filthy and understaffed care home, says judge" (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9149296/Bupa-put-profit-first-at-filthy-and-understaffed-care-home-says-judge.html)


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 17, 2012, 08:53:06 AM
Dog mess could be subjected to DNA testing (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/9148384/"Dog-mess-could-be-subjected-to-DNA-testing-under-plans-being-considered-by-a-council.html)to identify the pets and owners responsible, under plans being considered by a council. "

Church Walk residents would shout "Hurray!" - I once overheard two lads from the Infant School saying: "Come on, I'll race you down Dog Poo Alley"

But is this a warranted infringement of civil liberties?.....


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: craigvmax on March 17, 2012, 10:14:54 AM
I heard a local estate agent refer to it as that also, it's bound to affect prices ;)


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 19, 2012, 01:17:23 PM
Quote from: Keith on March 14, 2012, 01:03:06 PM
So.  I guess it depends on who the weath is created for, and of course what happens to it then - salted away in tax havens, spent on wild parties, overly-sumptuous mansions, drugs, private yachts and planes, or (as in Victorian times) education and health programs for workers, libraries, museums....


LOL - today's Mail: "Welcome to Sir Phillip Green's £6 million beach ball.....Ay caramba! Sir Philip Green’s 60th birthday party in Mexico over the weekend had promised to be an all-out fiesta of flamboyant excess...."

Say no more, wink wink


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 23, 2012, 08:44:31 AM
I can add the word "simplification" to a number of current euphemisms for other things:

"The Institute for Fiscal Studies yesterday ..... criticised the Chancellor for trying to mislead voters by “dressing up what is clearly a tax increase as merely a simplification”. The Treasury’s own advisers on tax simplification were also said to be “concerned” at the way the Chancellor presented the change. "

Those Media and Public Affairs people again...  I can see "simplification" will have wider use....


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 25, 2012, 10:32:03 AM
Britain is not merely "Open for business" - it is For Sale.

I know that many of you find that politics is either boring or nauseating, and so it is.  The latest lobbying scandal goes to the rotten heart of British politics and way of life:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/9165391/Tory-co-treasurer-Peter-Cruddas-quits-over-cash-for-access-claim.html

or Sky: "Tory Co-Treasurer Quits Over Donor Claims" (http://news.sky.com/home/politics/article/16195702)

or BBC: "Tory Peter Cruddas quits after donor access claims" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17503116)

The credit for this one belongs to the paid-for Sunday Times.  I guess the gloves are now off for Murdoch's media.

It really isn't necessary for me to add any comment.  Except to demonstrate impartiality by recalling that in office, Labour did exactly the same thing, according to the media.  Rotten.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 25, 2012, 11:08:38 AM
The video is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17502928

BBC:  "In the footage, Mr Cruddas is heard initially saying that it was not possible to buy access to the prime minister.

But he then goes on to discuss what access different size donations would get.

He spoke about the Leader's Group, a club where for an annual donation of £50,000 donors are invited to join Mr Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, post-Prime Minister Questions lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches.

However, he said more money would allow more access, including to Chancellor George Osborne.

"Two hundred grand to 250 is premier league… what you would get is, when we talk about your donations the first thing we want to do is get you at the Cameron/Osborne dinners," he says."


On resigning he has stated:

   " It was categorically not the case that I could offer, or that David Cameron would consider, any access as a result of a donation.....Clearly there is no question of donors being able to influence policy or gain undue access to politicians,”

----

Of course not, Peter.  Clearly.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 25, 2012, 11:25:13 AM
Telegraph: "MPs' expenses receipts to stay secret, IPSA rules" (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/9164745/MPs-expenses-receipts-to-stay-secret-IPSA-rules.html)
Yet:
"In 2008 a High Court panel of judges chaired by Lord Judge, now the Lord Chief Justice, agreed the receipts should be published. The judges ruled: "The expenditure of public money through the payment of MPs' salaries and allowances is a matter of direct and reasonable interest to taxpayers."


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 25, 2012, 06:18:20 PM
Quote from: Keith on March 14, 2012, 01:13:14 PM
..another founding director of the South Sea Company was John, later Sir John, Blunt.  In one of those felicitous combinations of names and professions, he was....the owner of a sword manufacturing company.

I have been unable to confirm that it was called Blunt Swords, but am still hoping...


It was called The Sword-blade Company (  Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds:
Mackay, Charles, 1841.  2nd edition 1848: Chapter 2: The South-Sea Bubble ) http://www.econlib.org/library/Mackay/macEx2.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 26, 2012, 10:19:08 AM
Quote from: Admin on March 25, 2012, 11:08:38 AM
The video is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-17502928

BBC:   "In the footage, Mr Cruddas is heard initially saying that it was not possible to buy access to the prime minister.

But he then goes on to discuss what access different size donations would get.

He spoke about the Leader's Group, a club where for an annual donation of £50,000 donors are invited to join Mr Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, post-Prime Minister Questions lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches.

However, he said more money would allow more access, including to Chancellor George Osborne.

"Two hundred grand to 250 is premier league… what you would get is, when we talk about your donations the first thing we want to do is get you at the Cameron/Osborne dinners," he says."


On resigning he has stated:

   " It was categorically not the case that I could offer, or that David Cameron would consider, any access as a result of a donation.....Clearly there is no question of donors being able to influence policy or gain undue access to politicians,”

----

Of course not, Peter.  Clearly.


Francis Maude interview with BBC (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/david-cameron/9166631/Cash-for-access-large-Tory-donors-can-expect-to-meet-David-Cameron-says-Francis-Maude.html) described as "a car crash"

The Conservatives seem to think that their party is synonymous with the government of the country.  It is one thing for donors to buy access to a party.  It is quite another for them to buy access to the Prime Minister of the country, I would argue.  The office, after all, does carry some responsibility for the majority of the country who do not vote for the party, and the even bigger majority who are not card-carrying party members.

Maude: ""The idea that Conservative donors can by themselves influence policy is absurd"

Of course it is, Francis.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on March 26, 2012, 11:19:13 AM
Quote from: Admin on March 25, 2012, 10:32:03 AM
Britain is not merely "Open for business" - it is For Sale.
....The credit for this one belongs to the paid-for Sunday Times.  I guess the gloves are now off for Murdoch's media.


You read it here first.
And now today:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9166663/Cash-for-access-Rupert-Murdoch-calls-for-independent-inquiry-into-lobbying-row.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 28, 2012, 09:13:06 AM
Governor of the bank of England: "One of the most depressing things about some parts of the financial sector is that people seem to think their main objective of being in it is to earn enough money in order to leave it – as opposed to finding satisfaction and a life-long career within it,"

As a matter of interest, how many of you are finding "satisfaction and a life-long career" in what you are doing?

I ask as one who left the City, which was fun for a short time but was 'only money', for the public service.

Mind you, with low interest rates having now slashed my income, I am thinking the money might have come in handy


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 28, 2012, 09:17:53 AM
More on donor dinners etc (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9169786/Cash-for-access-David-Cameron-facing-questions-over-donations-from-firm-owned-by-Palestinian-billionaire.html) from the Telegraph.  I notice that the right-wing Mail is also coming down hard on this sink of iniquity:
"Between Oct 2009 and May last year the Tories accepted five separate donations from CC Property, whose sole income is from rent paid to it by another Tory donor, Consolidated Contractors International (UK).
Both companies are owned by Said Khoury, a construction magnate based in Athens.
A director of the companies disclosed yesterday that he had met David Cameron"

I used to have lots of stuff on a Middle Eastern arms dealer who gave (I think it was) close to a million to the Tories and was a chum of Cameron's while the latter was in opposition.  But I can't recall the name - anybody?

It does stink, doesn't it?!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 31, 2012, 08:26:40 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/9177218/Ex-Tory-media-adviser-accused-of-offering-potential-donors-chance-to-form-policy.html

There are so many of these "Communications" firms setting up for lobbying, or for laundering Wikipedia and social media ("reputation management").  They provide an intermediary so that a client is not 'directly' involved.

Prompting recollection that when posted in Belgium I observed that large construction contracts would be awarded and a huge fee paid to some small intermediate  "consultancy" which on further investigation often seemed to have some connection with the politicians who would award the contract.  Not that that is the same thing, of course.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 31, 2012, 10:43:53 AM
Nice quote:
“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

- Frederic Bastiat - (1801-1850) Economic Sophisms


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on April 02, 2012, 09:47:40 AM
The Coalition's pledged programme of may 2010:
"3. CIVIL LIBERTIES

The Government believes that the British state has become too authoritarian, and that over the past decade it has abused and eroded fundamental human freedoms and historic civil liberties. We
need to restore the rights of individuals in the face of encroaching state power, in keeping with
Britain’s tradition of freedom and fairness.

• We will implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties and roll back state intrusion.
• We will introduce a Freedom Bill.
• We will review libel laws to protect freedom of speech.
• We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason. "

Like most of the high-sounding pledges politicians make, these are not worth the paper they are written on.
Current news:
"The Coalition is to revive plans first raised then shelved by the last Labour Government to track the activities of every Briton who uses a phone or the internet. " (Telegraph)


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on April 03, 2012, 09:09:25 AM
Telegraph nails yet another broken pledge by its favourite government: 'Granny tax': Government promised last year to keep raising pensioners' allowances (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pensions/9181288/Granny-tax-Government-promised-last-year-to-keep-raising-pensioners-allowances.html)
"The Government's "granny tax" appears to break a promise made by the Chancellor in last year's Budget, it has emerged. "


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on April 04, 2012, 07:41:50 AM
I was pleased to see that Dominic Raab has come out strongly against ministers' plans to impose blanket surveillance obligations on communications.  He has written a good piece for the Telegraph, too: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9183353/Parliament-must-protect-the-publics-privacy.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on April 04, 2012, 10:39:38 AM
http://www.thisissurreytoday.co.uk/Muslim-councillor-deselected-Horley-prayer-row/story-15669740-detail/story.html

"A MUSLIM councillor who asked for Christian prayers to be separated from full council meetings is to lose his seat.  Imran Khan, who has not been reselected by the Tories to contest any seats at the upcoming Reigate and Banstead Borough Council elections, said he thinks the prayer row has had "a big influence".....

He also criticised the executive system under which the council operates as "dangerous" and "undemocratic", placing too much power with a handful of top members.....the executive versus backbench system completely takes political participation and opportunities away from backbenchers...."It takes away democracy from local councillors, it removes the opportunity for people who want to give their spare time to public service and it concentrates power in a few hands, and that is deeply dangerous."


I know of several decent conservative councillors in both Surrey and Elmbridge who feel the same way about the caucuses.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: rudi on April 04, 2012, 07:28:54 PM
As a secularist - the should be no prayers Christian or anything else, separation of church and state. I think this Councillor is posturing, reality is he does have the choice to sit out of prayers, as I'm sure do other Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist or other religious groups across the country to avoid any offense.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on April 05, 2012, 09:54:32 AM
In Cobham, John Butcher, who is one of the Secular Association (? if that's the correct title) and made a similar objection, has been re-selected.  That weakens one plank in Mr. Khan's argument perhaps.

I note with passing amusement that in the borough election nominations, where a candidate is standing in a Conservative stronghold they are described as "The Conservative Party Candidate" but when they are standing in places where the residents or LibDems are strong, they are described as "Local Conservatives"  Those spin merchants again LOL !


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on April 05, 2012, 10:21:59 AM
Quote from: Keith on March 14, 2012, 01:03:06 PM
Telegraph yesterday:

Leahy attacks 'dark satanic mills' view of wealth creation (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/yourbusiness/9141008/Leahy-attacks-dark-satanic-mills-view-of-wealth-creation.html) "Sir Terry Leahy has called on Britain to rediscover the “nobility” of making money and stop seeing wealth creation in terms of "dark satanic mills" and "fat cat bankers”.


http://uk.news.yahoo.com/champagne-city-trader-held-fraud-probe-051900014.html
"Alex Hope, 23.....was held over a suspected unauthorised foreign exchange scheme.  Hope....gained significant publicity last month after he apparently splashed £200,000 on drinks at a Liverpool nightclub.  The bar bill was said to have included a £125,000 on a Nebuchadnezzar bottle of Armand de Brignac champagne.  Quote: "You don't see a lot of people my age in the City doing what I do.  And I feel I have got a lot of good opinions of the markets, as well..."

Actually, one does hear of rather a lot of people of all ages in the City reportedly doing what he does!  But innocent until proven guilty, and charges have not yet been brought.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on April 05, 2012, 01:02:08 PM
Single mothers and the Child Support Agency (The way things were...):

On  24/04/1781  Elizabeth Stacey of Kingston was tried at Quarter Sessions for  Bastardy/ maintenance on the oath of Philip Yarnold, Overseers of the Poor of the Parish of Kingston-upon-Thames), "in Pursuance of the Statute for the Punishment of lewd Women," that she had lately given birth to a child likely to become chargeable to the parish.  She refused to name the father or to indemnify the parish "against the Expense that may attend the Maintenance and Bringing-up of the said bastard Child, " and was sentenced to remain imprisoned in  Kingston House Of Correction until sureties were found.

Iain Duncan-Smith would have approved....


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on April 08, 2012, 09:43:04 AM
If there's anyone left out there who is still remotely interested in politics: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/lib-dems-in-disarray-as-fewer-candidates-contest-elections-7627007.html

Unsurprising figures on nominations for council elections nationwide suggesting that LibDems compromised by the coalition, are losing active members.

"Membership of the Lib Dems has fallen steadily during the past decade from more than 73,000 in 2001 to 58,000 in 2009, although Mr Clegg's popularity during the 2010 election campaign, sparked by his performance in the TV leadership debates, caused a sharp increase to 65,000. But since the party has been in government, membership has fallen again."

But to the extent that figures can be obtained, there has been a continuing slide in card-carrying membership of all three main national parties as people weary of  the falseness of politicians, and of the tribal hoo-hah that goes with it.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on April 22, 2012, 10:30:28 AM
More of the creeping insidious censorship that we thought we had defeated in the 1960s:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9217615/From-Horrible-Histories-to-Babar-the-Elephant-the-offensive-childrens-books-withdrawn-by-libraries.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on April 23, 2012, 10:03:05 AM
A connoisseur's item, if you have my sense of humour:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9219491/David-Cameron-is-not-a-right-wing-person-claims-Helena-Bonham-Carter.html
""He's not that conservative, actually," she told the Sunday Times.

The Sunday Times is about as far to the right as you can legally get.  Tory grandees bereft of any new ideas themselves have long regarded Cameron as a pinko LOL


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on April 24, 2012, 09:17:50 AM
Today's Guardian Leveson inquiry coverage (http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/apr/23/telegraph-chairman-david-cameron-editor): "The chairman of the company behind the Daily Telegraph texted David Cameron before the last election to suggest the Conservative leader speak to the editor of his newspaper every day during the campaign to ensure his party's message was getting across in the broadsheet."

The Telegraph has assiduously covered the inquiry so far, but do you know, I couldn't find anything in it today about that one, even on searching: perhaps later.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/leveson-inquiry/  Plenty in the Telegraph about Murdochs though.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on April 28, 2012, 11:48:10 AM
Telegraph in a side-piece relating to the Jeremy Hunt/BSkyB saga: "Sir Alex Allan..... the independent adviser on the ministerial code,  has never been called on to undertake an inquiry." [[ Comment: he's been there only since last Autumn's Fox saga though]]
" His predecessor Sir Philip Mawer only completed one investigation during his three-and-a-half years in office and found there was no case to answer against the Labour MP, Shahid Malik. Sir Philip left the job shortly after he was not called on to investigate the Liam Fox scandal that led to the Defence Secretary’s resignation"


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on April 28, 2012, 01:04:08 PM
"Chief constable resigns over 'grave concerns' about elected commissioners (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9232361/Chief-constable-resigns-over-grave-concerns-about-elected-commissioners.html)
...
There are widespread concerns that the initiative is costly but unnecessary, while the electoral rules are likely to benefit established politicians and public figures over independents. The commissioners, who will be paid up to £100,000 even if they work part-time, will have the power to fire chief constables as well as setting budgets and priorities. " - Telegraph

(One of the reasons I put things in this thread is so that I can find them later.  Here we have another case where the Telegraph, whose traditional political affiliations are well-known, is quite often in the van these days with articles questioning the direction of Government policy. )


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Evergreen on May 01, 2012, 07:44:57 PM
Quote from: Admin on April 23, 2012, 10:03:05 AM
A connoisseur's item, if you have my sense of humour:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9219491/David-Cameron-is-not-a-right-wing-person-claims-Helena-Bonham-Carter.html
""He's not that conservative, actually," she told the Sunday Times.

The Sunday Times is about as far to the right as you can legally get.  Tory grandees bereft of any new ideas themselves have long regarded Cameron as a pinko LOL


What about this one: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/petermullen/100154607/this-conservative-party-is-more-socialist-than-any-government-i-have-seen-in-my-lifetime/ (http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/petermullen/100154607/this-conservative-party-is-more-socialist-than-any-government-i-have-seen-in-my-lifetime/)


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on May 02, 2012, 09:21:14 PM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/9242016/Sir-Mervyn-King-blasts-banks-for-bringing-UK-to-brink-of-ruin.html (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/9242016/Sir-Mervyn-King-blasts-banks-for-bringing-UK-to-brink-of-ruin.html)

An important statement - as the politicians try to wriggle out of things.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: rudi on May 03, 2012, 10:41:32 PM
Emberman - YES we know your passion is hating the Tories!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on May 04, 2012, 09:07:19 AM
I must be missing something here - a post perhaps?

But not to worry.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: craigvmax on May 04, 2012, 10:00:01 AM
yeah I puzzled over that one too


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: rudi on May 05, 2012, 04:13:49 PM
I will enlighten you ....Emberman wrote a post - withering on and politicising about the Jolly Boatman site and other local issues and relating them to his usual anti Tory rethoric ....I then made my comment. The next thing his post is REMOVED! quite why is a mystery! I however, don't write random replies or comments on the forum so I can assure you it was a response to his mysteriously missing post! :-)


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on May 06, 2012, 11:32:04 AM
'Let's create a buzz' says Miliband
......
thinks.....  we must get some more Flit.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on May 06, 2012, 11:36:28 AM
Quote from: rudi on May 05, 2012, 04:13:49 PM
I will enlighten you .... The next thing his post is REMOVED! quite why is a mystery...

I imagine Emberman had generous second thoughts.  Perhaps you are having an influence there rudi!?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on May 07, 2012, 01:11:25 PM
So.  Monsieur Hollande is in, and I looked out of the window to see whether there was a stream of broken and ragged Frenchies heading for the refugee camps as Iain Duncan Smith had predicted, but all there was, was the soft rain.

We will see whether France can now stimulate growth.  If you are as pessimistic as I am, "growth" for overdeveloped, over-indebted and emasculated Western nations is not likely to be restored by a few fiscal measures, or within a decade, and for once I am with Osborne when he commented that it was like an alcoholic escaping from the problem by opening another bottle.

UK debt has continued to rise too, and here and abroad the problem has simply not been firmly addressed, but deferred and shifted endlessly from one sector to another, one country to others.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on May 07, 2012, 01:23:10 PM
I finally became a stuffy old bore living in suburbia.  Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/9250071/Stripping-vomiting-and-drinking-themselves-unconscious-Cambridge-students-annual-summer-party.html

My alma mater  is highlighted.  I don't recall things got out of hand like this in our day when the age of majority was 21 and the colleges were in loco parentis and therefore responsible for students' behaviour.  Nor was there any "Caesarian" drinking society if memory serves: this 'historic tradition' seems to be rather new.  There was drinking, of course, but more tasteful and, with the exception of the King Street Run, certainly not in public. 

So I have written a strong email to the college from Disgusted of Thames Ditton, and alerted fellow alumni some of whom are now in High Places.  This Will Not Do.

(and now I'm laughing at myself   :) ) 


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on May 08, 2012, 11:54:06 AM
Quote from: Keith on May 07, 2012, 01:11:25 PM
So.  Monsieur Hollande is in, and I looked out of the window to see whether there was a stream of broken and ragged Frenchies heading for the refugee camps as Iain Duncan Smith had predicted, but all there was, was the soft rain.


The Daily Maul: "New French leader fires a broadside at Britain: You only care about the City of London, says President Hollande"

A broadside, eh?  It's started then.....

(But it's not true we care only about the City.  There's claret, there's burgundy and there's Brie and I think they are closer to British hearts than the City right now.)


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on May 11, 2012, 08:28:58 AM
Quote from: Keith on May 07, 2012, 01:11:25 PM
...

UK debt has continued to rise too, and here and abroad the problem has simply not been firmly addressed, but deferred and shifted endlessly from one sector to another, one country to others.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9258455/Companies-must-raise-28-trillion-to-finance-wall-of-debt.html

Here we go again!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on May 13, 2012, 10:11:04 AM
William Hague (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/william-hague/9262295/William-Hague-David-Cameron-is-the-sanest-person-to-lead-the-Conservative-Party-in-a-long-time.html): "David Cameron is the sanest person to lead the Conservative Party in a long time"

He could well be right!

"14 pints" Hague led the party June 1997 to September 2001.  He seems to have been a reasonably house-trained Foreign Minister, according to the grapevine.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on May 14, 2012, 11:12:29 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/9260817/Britain-vulnerable-to-E-bomb-attack-experts-to-warn.html

You read it in TD Today first... (Hook or Crook page, Spring issue 2012) LOL

Maybe they were testing E-bombs last  night when the power went out...


Title: Re: The way things are...
Post by: Emberman on May 15, 2012, 05:06:22 PM
Broken Britain.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/phone-hacking/9266591/Analysis-Decision-to-charge-Rebekah-Brooks-means-hacking-will-hang-over-Government-until-next-election.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on May 15, 2012, 07:59:36 PM
Think of it as mucking out the stables before you go hacking across the Cotswolds


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on May 16, 2012, 08:21:51 AM
Theresa May 'destroying police' (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18081762), warns police federation .....forces in England and Wales are experiencing budget cuts of 20% and in line for some of the most radical reforms for 30 years.

Hmnnn.  Beyond the usual staking out of vested positions, for which one always aims off, this is troubling to those who think that the 'elected commissioners' will have the effect of politicising control of the police at local level, the privatisation of police functions (though worth a trial) is ideologically-motivated and dangerous and needs to be handled very carefully, and the worst is yet to come of our dire economic situation which will increase the likelihood of social breakdown and violence - making competent and impartial police forces more necessary than ever.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on May 16, 2012, 09:54:52 AM
David Davis, an unlikely but endearing mix of right-wing and libertarian views,  again standing up for the right thing:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9268852/Law-banning-insulting-language-is-strangling-free-speech.html
Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act having a ''terrible, chilling effect on democracy....
Under the legislation, the use of ''insulting words or behaviour'' is outlawed, but opponents say there is too little clarity of what that includes, leading to spurious arrests.
One teenage boy was arrested for holding a ''Scientology is a dangerous cult'' placard and a student was held for telling a police officer his horse was ''gay'', they said. "

Sinister.  Go, David.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on May 16, 2012, 12:33:34 PM
apropos the unfortunate, and possibly unintended,  deleterious effects of benefit cuts on the blind (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/fury-as-blind-people-hit-by-benefit-reform-7754452.html): "Mike Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South, criticised Mr Clegg and David Cameron for bringing forward the proposals. He said: "It is manifestly unfair that blind people should be subjected to this worry so unnecessarily. Even in the worst days of the Thatcher government, we didn't see this sort of thing."

Mr Hancock added: "This shows a complete lack of political nous in the leadership of the Coalition. It is one thing after another. They are coming up with ideas and not looking at the consequences. I did not get elected to punish people who cannot help themselves.""

My bolding.  This is what we have seen all the time, whether at national level (NHS, police, welfare edicts, forest sell-off, High speed rail links, third airport or third runway, granny tax, pasty tax...), county level (libraries, pay-and-display, roads, streetlights....) or borough level (halls and centres, car-parks, pay-and-display, and now 'reduction in councillor numbers"....).  Consequences not thought through by a small caucus that takes decisions; proper consultation not carried out before decision is taken; just post-hoc consultation resulting in either mass objections overturning a policy (time wasted, energy spent) or box-ticking with a few cosmetic drafting changes to enable it to be argued that consultation was somehow meaningful.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on May 17, 2012, 09:21:29 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/9269922/Dont-come-dine-with-me-Britons-shun-dinner-parties-as-costs-soar.html (survey conducted for the Very Lazy cooking ingredients brand, an irresistible name)

How is it with you?  I have to say that I enjoy a very occasional dinner party - where the conversation is good; but after a life of official entertaining abroad on behalf of HMG, hosting three or four lunches or dinners or receptions at home each week,  and several out, we are somewhat immunised against it in retirement.  And, we don't have facilities in our tiny cottage.  And, I no longer fit into my dinner jacket, sad to say, and prefer slopping around in tee-shirts.  I guess I am Very Lazy.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on May 23, 2012, 10:25:17 PM
Quote from: Keith on February 22, 2012, 12:29:15 PM
Sigh.  Here we go again:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9097338/Four-arrested-in-fraud-probe-at-back-to-work-programme.html

"Two men and two women have been arrested by police investigating allegations of fraud at a Government-backed work programme.
... A4e, a company that receives Government contracts to help the jobless get back into work....The investigation is said to centre on claims the company received funding despite placing employees in jobs for just one day.....a whistleblower claimed staff were put under pressure to say they had found work for unemployed people, according to the Daily Mail.
.....The chairman of A4e, Emma Harrison, who is believed to be worth £70 million, was named "back to work tsar" by David Cameron
....“Thames Valley Police officers visited the offices of A4E in Slough on Friday 17 February as part of an allegation of fraud, which was referred to the Force by the Department for Work and Pensions.  As part of the investigation, four people, two woman aged 28 and 49, and two men, aged 35 and 41, were arrested on suspicion of fraud on 18 January from addresses across the Thames Valley. They have all been released on police bail until mid-March. “The investigation is ongoing and at an early stage, therefore we are unable to comment further at this time."



The matter is now serious:  Yelegraph: The welfare to work firm owned by David Cameron’s former families tsar is involved in a “multi-billion-pound scandal” in which public money has been systematically misused, a whistleblower has said. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9286323/Welfare-to-work-fraud-scandal.html)

Incompetence, sleaze, personal connections, now as for the last few centuries.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on July 16, 2012, 09:19:40 AM

"Olympics organisers have warned businesses (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britain-flooded-with-brand-police-to-protect-sponsors-7945436.html) that during London 2012 their advertising should not include a list of banned words, including "gold", "silver" and "bronze", "summer", "sponsors" and "London".

A spokesman for the Olympic Delivery Authority, whose team of 286 enforcement officers have been seconded from 30 local councils, said it had a duty to ensure businesses were meeting the rules.

"We are using experienced local authority staff who currently enforce street trading and advertising legislation. They have all been fully trained,"


No, this is not a BBC spoof, this is real.  How far we seem to have come from the fine ideals of the Olympics to yet another shakedown of the ordinary citizen in favour of big business and government.

If you are in the Greater ----- area be careful your advertising for last-minute ---- holidays  on the ---- Coast is properly censored or the council narks could fine you £20,000 for each offence.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on July 17, 2012, 08:46:49 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/9404154/Millions-of-front-gardens-ripped-up-to-ease-the-parking-problem.html
includes: "With street parking becoming increasingly scarce, the cost of residents’ parking permits is rising quickly, with the average annual fee reaching £96, although some councils charge considerably more, especially for a second car."

"It is estimated that 10 per cent of motorists now have to pay to park their car outside their home. Parking has, as a result, become a steady source of revenue for councils. Local authorities in London made a £180 million profit from parking in 2009-10. Those outside the capital made a further £310 million. "

Think very carefully!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on July 21, 2012, 09:30:13 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9416535/Problem-families-have-too-many-children.html

There's something in this.  Quite a lot, really - especially when you consider the many ways in which humankind is skewing its own evolution by altering the parameters of natural selection.  You don't have to be on the far right to worry about it.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on August 04, 2012, 09:30:16 AM
Another interesting statistic:
"Nearly half of those arrested over last year's riots have been arrested again.. on suspicion of committing further offences in the last 12 months. "

Only 'on suspicion,' note - and one assumes the police are predisposed to arrest those individuals  (perhaps with good reason) - but interesting nevertheless.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 07, 2012, 09:57:40 AM
Interesting short piece from the BBC about the direct relationship between cash investment in sport and Olympic success (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19144983) here.

You may judge £264 million as rather good value when compared with some rather larger items of expenditure nationally...


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on August 10, 2012, 10:26:44 AM
Should it remain an offence (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19204860) to describe a judge as "impudent little man in horsehair, a microcosm of conceit and empty-headedness"?

....and are judges best placed to determine what is said about themselves?...



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on August 14, 2012, 10:51:16 PM
Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/keep-the-flame-alive/9475984/Keep-The-Flame-Alive-School-playing-fields-at-risk-as-ministers-relax-building-rules.html): "Schools will no longer be forced by law to guarantee a set amount of space on their playing fields for team sports, under government plans. "

Well, so much for all that stuff about boosting sport - that didn't last long!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: waysider on August 15, 2012, 09:03:40 AM
After a peaceful two weeks of the Olympics the unsolicited telephone calls are back.  5 were received yesterday!!
It is no wonder people have nervous breakdowns!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: angel on August 15, 2012, 09:37:31 AM
Registering on the telephone preference list will help.  We get very few and then tell them we will report them if they call again.  It worked well for my elderly father as he was agreeing to visits from these people. 


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: waysider on August 15, 2012, 01:33:13 PM
Angel - been down that line!  But I shall try the reporting tack - also leave them hanging on the phone while I try to contact the person they want!!!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Juninho on August 15, 2012, 03:25:09 PM
Unfortunately I think a lot of the cold callers are computers dialling random numbers... so being on a preference list will not 'exclude' you.

The only solutions really are caller id (but again no help if you get calls from abroad etc) or there was some gadget on Dragons Den I saw that was a good idea but a bit expensive for what it was:
http://www.truecall.co.uk/

This sort of screens calls?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on August 16, 2012, 09:45:37 AM
The Bristol pound (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/currency/9478973/Bristol-businesses-queuing-up-to-join-local-currency-scheme.html)

An interesting experiment on this scale.  Will we see a Surrey pound?  It might be one way of reducing the extent to which we are milked to support govt. expenditure elsewhere of which we may not approve.

Or will the Bristol pound sink without trace, and there will be no follow-up article in a couple of years' time as it is forgotten.....?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Juninho on August 16, 2012, 09:50:52 AM
I like the concept but I think it will just be a bit gimicky. People will adopt it / use it more for the novelty and also the statement it makes (rather than an actual susbtitute to sterling) but thats about it.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on August 16, 2012, 10:10:33 AM
Unwanted phonecalls: they usually don't use caller line id so that is little real help.  You can go ex-directory.  (You should also keep your name off the public version of the electoral roll.)

Or....  I think it now safe enough to reveal that in addition to being on the telephone preference list, what we have done for years is keep the house phone in my wife's maiden name, which apart from some accounts she doesn't use for general social and  other purposes.   Let us suppose that the directory entry reads A. Smith (if that is your wife's maiden name).  This is how our unsolicited calls go:

"Is that Mr Smith?"
"I'm sorry, we don't take cold calls."  
Hang up.

They never know how we know....

If we are feeling expansive, we add: "how did you get this number - it's on the telephone preference scheme and it's illegal to make marketing calls to it?"  Then they hang up.

If you don't have a suitable alternative id for the phone account, then as soon as you establish that the call is unrecognised (or, if you have CLI, as soon as you have an unidentifiable caller), ask for their number to call them back.  The unsolicited marketing callers will not give you one.  This is also quite a good filter against scammers - they are unlikely to give you a number in many cases (but sophisticated scammers will give you a number).

I have also grown weary of calls from your bank(s).  These are invariably calls by their staff or others working on commission to sell you some "financial product" such as insurance you don't need.  They are couched in terms of some account manager "looking after customers' best interests" but they are really no more than a shakedown of customers they have targeted as having some money in their account to get off them!  On receiving such a call, I ask if it concerns account security, and if it does not, I ask them immediately to put the subject in a letter.  They never do.

On that last subject, I am appalled when a bank or credit card security department calls and asks you, over the phone, for identifying particulars!  I explain to them patiently that that is not a very secure thing to do without them having more identification themselves.  Again, they are often unwilling to provide a name and telephone number for you to call back.  This has led to some amusing conversations.

So, I pass those things on for what they may be worth.  They have greatly reduced wasted time.  But not eliminated this curse of marketing.

Unsolicited mail is more difficult.  The post office seem unwilling to take note of their own defence against this (you can be put on a list of those who don't want such mail).  My rule is to put all unsolicited mail (e.g. "The Occupier") straight in the bin.  But I still have to open some of it to make sure.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Juninho on August 16, 2012, 10:41:41 AM
On this last one - I always insist on verifying the caller is indeed from my bank and there are various ways to do this if they ask anything remotely sensitive. Tbh the questions they ask should not be...

I also like to double check the information they are going to ask from me (after I have to pass their checks!!!??) - is not that private and relevant (i.e. if I have just made a large purchase I expect this call so its less worrying when I get it).

Providing a DOB or address to verify they are speaking to me - is not that sensistive and easily obtainable so I don't think scammers would need that information (especially if they already had my name and number).

Quote from: Admin on August 16, 2012, 10:10:33 AM
I am appalled when a bank or credit card security department calls and asks you, over the phone, for identifying particulars!  I explain to them patiently that that is not a very secure thing to do without them having more identification themselves.  Again, they are often unwilling to provide a name and telephone number for you to call back.  This has led to some amusing conversations.



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on August 30, 2012, 01:43:44 PM
A continuing trend over the past many decades, showing the dramatic decline in the political parties' real membership:
"Recent research showed that national Conservative membership had slumped to between 130,000 and 170,000 – down from 300,000 when Mr Cameron succeeded Michael Howard. There are fears within the party it could soon fall below 100,000. " (The Independent)

Labour figures are obscured by the union membership, but have also shown a continuing decline.  The situation with the LibDems is also parlous.  These clapped-out parties, who can in no way be truly representative, want taxpayers to pay for them.

To the extent that one can get figures, the Esher & Walton constituency Conservative Association membership is around 1500 and maybe less now.  The loss in membership lately led to the "consolidation" of several ward Conservative associations, so now there is no Thames Ditton CA but there is a rump Molesey & Dittons CA.

In the 1950s, the Thames Ditton CA alone numbered 2000 members....


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Juninho on August 30, 2012, 02:42:38 PM
I've surmised that the decline is all due to the advent of newspaper/magazine dating (such as Guardian solemates) and more recently the rise of internet dating.

"Most people don't use politics for socialising in the way they might have done in the fifties and sixties, when you had a realistic chance of meeting your future husband or wife at a party dinner or dance."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12934148



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: waysider on August 30, 2012, 03:43:21 PM
Just walked past the Ewe...........conversation between two girls about 12/13......"what's Ewe mean"..I think its like some sort of female sheep"  .....Well done local education!!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 30, 2012, 07:11:06 PM
Quote from: Juninho on August 30, 2012, 02:42:38 PM
I've surmised that the decline is all due to the advent of newspaper/magazine dating (such as Guardian solemates) and more recently the rise of internet dating.


Thanks for the link.

I hadn't thought it was as simple as that, particularly given that (from what I recall of bygone decades) your average member of the local con club was over 50 and heavily married.  But now I come to think of it...LOL


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on August 30, 2012, 07:11:38 PM
Quote from: waysider on August 30, 2012, 03:43:21 PM
Just walked past the Ewe...........conversation between two girls about 12/13......"what's Ewe mean"..I think its like some sort of female sheep"  .....Well done local education!!


Sigh.  I supposed it is easily confused with Ewwwww!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on September 01, 2012, 09:01:41 AM
Clegg on the disgraced David Laws, pushing to get him restored to cabinet: "He has probably got as much of an understanding about the way the economy works as anyone else."

Think about the drafting, there!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on September 07, 2012, 09:04:33 AM
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-surrey-19507634
"Surrey Police are pulling out of plans to privatise parts of their services amid doubts over the venture's future. The county's police authority had already suspended its involvement in July, when members voiced reservations about one of the partner groups, G4S.  The security firm failed to provide the agreed number of staff at the Olympics.
But the authority says a key factor was also a lack of support from candidates seeking election to run the force as police commissioner later this year"


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on September 09, 2012, 11:07:33 AM
New rules (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9529992/New-rules-to-end-secrecy-over-safety-of-medical-implants.html) to end the secrecy over the safety of devices such as hip replacements and breast implants are being drawn up after a series of scandals.

And Europhobes: note that, not for the first time, this worthy initiative is being taken not by some responsible UK, French or other national  body, but by the European Commission - that same European Commission that imposed regulation for cleaner beaches & waterways and much other regulation that national governments found, for some reason, 'inconvenient.'


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Emberman on September 09, 2012, 08:12:28 PM
Unregulated development, building on the green belt, Heathrow expansion on the table again, the erosion of the national health service....it all recalls Oscar Wilde's answer to the question - what is a cynic?  "A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing".



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Flex on September 16, 2012, 10:16:52 AM
More people who make a good living for themselves in the name of charity:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9545584/Poverty-barons-who-make-a-fortune-from-taxpayer-funded-aid-budget.html
Exploiting good causes to make a nice income for yourself seems to be on the up.  I might just be too cynical however.  Does it matter?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on September 19, 2012, 04:26:41 PM
Rather good piece in the Guardian (national daily) quoting our very own Ruth Lyon: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/sep/18/nhs-assets-transfer-centralised-company


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on September 21, 2012, 11:17:48 AM
Mervyn King, BOE Governor, in an  interview with Channel 4. “It would not be acceptable to miss the debt target if there was no excuse for it.”

Now this is a marvellous principle, which if it becomes as generally held as it ought to be, will mean that we can do anything we like, and avoid doing anything we find uncongenial, if we can find an excuse for it.

Perhaps I can get away with not paying tax this year, because I am rather hard up, old bean.

This should be taught in schools.....


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on September 26, 2012, 12:05:43 PM
Very droll photo of Clegg: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02348/clegg_2348670b.jpg

After those YouTube videos, he's finished.  If he leads the LibDems into the next election  it's a sign of hopeless weakness among them.  I had hopes of him, after his performance before the last election and the brave and rather good Coalition, but am sadly disillusioned! He has become increasingly irrelevant and risible.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on September 29, 2012, 09:20:10 AM
Paying for energy (http://www.energy.eu/)
When we returned from living in Portugal ten years ago I was amazed how cheap our energy bill was in UK.  It doesn't seem quite so cheap now, but to counter tales of rip-off suppliers here are some interesting comparisons:

UK has the most expensive motor fuel in the EU. 
For household gas, only Romania is cheaper.  The most expensive EU country is Denmark where gas costs three times as much.
For household electricity, only Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Romania are cheaper.
Details and price comparisons in euros from the link above.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on September 30, 2012, 09:49:41 AM
Paying for food:
" Food prices in the UK have risen by 32% since 2007, double the EU average, according to figures compiled by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 
Economists now expect the cost of a weekly shop to continue to rise by around 4% a year until 2022 at least."


On the other hand, the price of a house is falling.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on October 04, 2012, 10:18:59 AM
If you are interested, another excellent appraisal of the current political situation by Peter Oborne, a thinking Conservative: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/9584246/Now-its-David-Camerons-turn-to-display-his-one-nation-credentials.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Flex on October 05, 2012, 10:46:06 PM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-tory-chairman-rocked-by-get-rich-quick-probe-8198495.html

Grant Shapps this time.  Will the sleaze never end?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Flex on October 08, 2012, 08:19:09 PM
Quote from: Flex on October 05, 2012, 10:46:06 PM
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/exclusive-tory-chairman-rocked-by-get-rich-quick-probe-8198495.html

Grant Shapps this time.  Will the sleaze never end?


More was on Channel 4 and now, OK it's the Guardian but still...  http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/oct/08/grant-shapps-how-to-corp-michael-green

Read it and laugh!!!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Evergreen on October 18, 2012, 11:23:06 AM
From today's Independent:

"The Wildlife minister, Richard Benyon, has been accused of being "the gamekeeper's friend" by refusing to outlaw a poison used by some to kill protected birds of prey on shooting estates.

Mr Benyon, a millionaire landowner who is strongly associated with shooting interests and owns both a pheasant shoot in Berkshire and a Scottish grouse moor, has declined a request from senior MPs to make possession of the poison, carbofuran, a criminal offence – as is the case in Scotland.

The effect of his refusal is to make a substance which is particularly deadly to birds of prey, despite it being a banned chemical with no legitimate use whatsoever, still available to any gamekeepers who wish to get rid of raptors illegally when they are perceived to be predating on gamebirds."


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on October 19, 2012, 11:12:17 AM
"Expenses scandal: 27 MPs let one home and claim for another
Twenty Seven MPs are claiming taxpayer-funded expenses to rent homes in London while simultaneously letting property in the capital, The Daily Telegraph can disclose."

April 20, 1653: Oliver Cromwell
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.  Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?

Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord's temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?  Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You who were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God's help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.  Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.  In the name of God, go!


---------------------

Wellington on the first Reformed parliament: "I never saw so many shocking bad hats in my life"

-------------------

Robert Louis Stevenson: "We all know what Parliament is, and we are all ashamed of it."

---------------------
But Churchill: " No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on October 23, 2012, 10:30:36 AM
"It wouldn’t be a bad idea to tell your ministers that The Thick Of It is a comedy show, not a training video," the actress who plays the political satire's Nicola Murray told David Cameron on on ITV's The Agenda, Monday."

This rather misses the point.... The Thick of It is based on contemporary political life, sad to say, rather than the other way round!  And contrasted with that other famous series based on contemporary political life thirty years ago, Yes Minister, it shows well how things have degraded!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Emberman on October 29, 2012, 06:46:28 PM
That applies equally to the tory rulers of Elmbridge Borough Council and Surrey County Council.

Incidentally, Surrey county council has decided to withdraw its entire funding to the important Oasis charity, http://www.oasischildcare.co.uk/
while Elmbridge wastes thousands of pounds from the public purse unnecessarily defending legal challenges to the Jolly Boatman development which no-one wants except save the developers and tory councillors.  See quote below from Hampton Court Rescue Campaign.  http://www.hamptoncourtrescuecampaign.com/

These Tory led councils apparently forget they exit to serve local residents.

At the latest meeting,  Hersham South Cllr, John O'Reilly, Leader of the Council, lectured the Committee that the Conditions were 'merely a bureaucratic exercise'. This is a trite comment given the seriousness of the issues involved. His misguided advice of 'ticking the boxes', does not reflect the weight of budgetary responsibility borne by the Council (and ratepayer) if the terms of the binding S106 Conditions are not met, or found to be unviable. It seems that the Committee discussions are mere tokenism or worse, pure mockery, and the result is always the same. On each occasion, reasoned argument is ignored and the final vote - tribal! The three Molesey Councillors vote against and all the remaining Councillors, the majority, wave approval through.

HCRC supporters and the public are underwhelmed by the way that the Committee is supposedly reviewing the Conditions. This is made all the more frustrating because a Nationally supported and approved planning permission for Andrew Roberts' green Parkland space on this site, waits in the wings.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on October 30, 2012, 10:55:43 AM
Thomas Jefferson was a thoughtful fella and, with the Declaration of Independence to his name, worth taking seriously.  Here are some of the things he said, over 200 years ago....

On banking:
"And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity in the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."

On government:
"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government."

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

On liberty (For supporters of CCTV etc...):
"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny."

For the rebellious among us:
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive."

Amen to that.



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on October 31, 2012, 08:42:27 PM
I often find myself defending the advantages of the EU for the UK but the EU budget is wasteful and I fully support moves to cut it.  Today's rebellion in Parliament over the  budget was an excellent vote.  Here is the list of Tory and other rebels voting against the government on the issue:  http://www.politicshome.com/uk/article/64790/list_of_rebel_mps_in_eu_budget_vote.html

You will note that our own MP is not among them.  I look forward to his reasoning on his blog.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on November 07, 2012, 10:17:19 AM
Interesting: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/9659577/Revealed-Hedge-funds-betting-millions-against-Britains-high-street.html

I note that the hedge funds concerned were keen that these short positions should not be disclosed, but it is surely of interest that significant short positions  should be made as public as significant shareholdings.

Mind you, I wouldn't want to bet against any of the specific positions taken against the companies mentioned!  You could add several other retail chains


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on November 08, 2012, 11:14:27 PM
It never ends...
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/offshorefinance/9665741/HSBC-investigation-Drug-dealers-gun-runners-and-Britains-biggest-bank.html

"Britain’s biggest bank is at the centre of a major HM Revenue and Customs investigation after it opened offshore accounts in Jersey for serious criminals living in this country.......The disclosures raise serious questions about HSBC’s procedures in Jersey, with the bank already preparing to pay fines of around $1.5 billion in America for breaking money laundering rules. "


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Evergreen on November 09, 2012, 05:43:02 PM
A group of campaigners linked to the Occupy Wall Street movement is buying-up distressed loans for pennies in the pound and cancelling them to "liberate debtors
See the Daily Telegraph

"We bailed-out the banks and in return they turned their backs on us. We don't owe them anything, we owe each other everything. It's time for a bail-out of the people, by the people."


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Evergreen on December 06, 2012, 02:23:32 PM
Max Clifford the "celebrity" chosen to switch on Esher's Christmas lights last week, arrested - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/jimmy-savile/9726997/Max-Clifford-arrested-by-Jimmy-Savile-inquiry-police-over-alleged-sexual-offences.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on December 07, 2012, 01:11:25 PM
Interesting article: (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/9729476/Bank-staff-still-mis-selling-products.html) on continuing bank mis-selling or hard selling of products not in customers' best interests.

For some years now I have been highly resistant to all efforts by my bank to sell me "products." I read in this article that "Barclays has scrapped its product sales targets and from the start of this month its bonuses to branch and call centre staff are based wholly on customer satisfaction.  A spokeswoman for Barclays said: 'From this week all Barclays UK frontline staff are rewarded solely on customer service.'"

I hope they stop phoning me at 7 pm to offer insurance or the opportunity to "invest" in some front-loaded fund or savings account paying less than inflation, let alone tax and inflation!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Walker2 on December 08, 2012, 10:26:48 AM
Sinister or good? 
Although tracking ads follow people as they browse different websites, Drawbridge uses statistics to do the same across devices.

It gathers information on which gadgets are being used and what is being done with them to build up "anonymous" profiles of different users.

The statistics generate a probability for which profiled user might be on that smartphone, tablet or laptop. (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20638132)

Big Brother is Watching You


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Walker2 on December 08, 2012, 10:34:23 AM
And http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20396091


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Evergreen on December 13, 2012, 09:38:12 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/mps-expenses/9741209/Maria-Miller-did-not-declare-home-rented-from-major-Tory-donor.html

"The Culture Secretary rented a home from a major Conservative donor and property developer in a private deal that has not been declared to Whitehall officials, The Daily Telegraph can disclose. "

"Mr McNair Scott has been both the treasurer and chairman of Mrs Miller’s local constituency party and is a financial backer of the minister. The property company he chairs, Helical Bar, and the firm’s chief executive are also major supporters of the Conservative Party. "

etc. etc.

Why am I not surprised by any of this?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on December 14, 2012, 09:17:46 AM
"...UK response to rapidly growing online universities - with these universities planning to offer courses through a shared online platform." (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-20697392)

Good.  I have been arguing for this for years.  We have a ridiculous situation where half of the nation's 18-22 year olds are removed from potential productive economic activity and, at great cost, relocated to various red-brick universities each of which offers a similar range of courses, and absorbs the energy and funds of a huge number of duplicate lecturers and administrators.  Again at vast cost - a cost now borne by a mix of huge student loans, and the taxpayer.

At the same time we have had the Open University, which is excellent, now real experts in distnace learning.  University degrees of good quality can be taken by students of any age and location, continuing to live in their homes, many of them continuing to work while they do so.  The costs of delivery are relatively low; the courses are expandable according to demand.  And yet instead of investing in this very efficient means of delivery rather than in the cost-sink of oldfashioned redbrick, our daft government has cut funds to the OU and fees have doubled.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on December 23, 2012, 09:32:42 AM
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/liberaldemocrats/9763142/Pizza-entrepreneurs-775000-gift-to-Lib-Dems-questioned.html

Worth a read, Dominos pizza entrepreneur, on the face of it a 'peculiar' huge donation to the LibDems, one national party is much like another it seems.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on December 28, 2012, 10:14:31 AM
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2253868/Retailers-facing-tougher-year-squeeze-consumers-continues.html

Another piece from the rather good 'thisismoney' site - a welcome contrast with much of the Daily Maul.

Notable:
- "rate of empty shops in town centres has reached a new high of 11.3 per cent...."

- "An undersupply of retail property could also curb plans for larger store expansions, research from accountant KPMG and Ipsos shows, heaping further pressure on retailers to develop innovative schemes to drive sales and survive."

Comment: undersupply? Hmnnn... I had an interesting conversation over the hols with a director of one large chain who said that many of the established large retailers with out-of-town sites were now wanting to rent off sections of their large stores to other chains.  The logic being that many were increasing their online sales, while still needing stores for display to customers and for, well, storage; and increasingly (and this was the interesting part) as depots for local delivery.  The speed and cost of delivery was becoming an important factor - in some cases, delivery within hours could be a market maker.  Decentralisation giving a chain a modest presence everywhere could be advantageous.

The article also reminded me of the amusing phrase 'vulture capital' to describe firms like the one that stripped out Comet lately!  (It used to be 'asset stripping' in the days of Slater, Walker)




vulture fund


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Evergreen on January 07, 2013, 09:14:01 AM
Where our council taxes go: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/9783725/Taxes-from-London-and-south-east-propping-up-economy.html


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Evergreen on January 10, 2013, 11:27:55 AM
Revenue from parking fees - Daily Mail money section shows that Elmbridge made £776,000 in 2011/12, which is £262000 less than a year previously.
Surrey lost £3,971,000 on parking which is an improvement on a loss of 5,335,000 in 2010/11


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on January 15, 2013, 09:37:34 AM
The interesting divergence between the country's ambitions to be a fully information age nation and the reality (http://www.informationweek.com/mobility/business/the-life-monochrome-the-uks-digital-lagg/240146224?cid=RSSfeed_IWK_News)

Anecdotal evidence locally supports the view that there are still many residents in Thames Ditton, principally the elderly, many of whom cannot be said to be poor, who do not have or do not use computers.  However, the official council figures (if only I could find them again!) suggested that only a very small percentage of the population in Surrey were without internet access (partly because they are, at least theoretically, able to have free access in public libraries.)


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Leafy on January 15, 2013, 01:10:42 PM
Quote from: Keith on January 15, 2013, 09:37:34 AM
The interesting divergence between the country's ambitions to be a fully information age nation and the reality (http://www.informationweek.com/mobility/business/the-life-monochrome-the-uks-digital-lagg/240146224?cid=RSSfeed_IWK_News)

Anecdotal evidence locally supports the view that there are still many residents in Thames Ditton, principally the elderly, many of whom cannot be said to be poor, who do not have or do not use computers.  However, the official council figures (if only I could find them again!) suggested that only a very small percentage of the population in Surrey were without internet access (partly because they are, at least theoretically, able to have free access in public libraries.)


A timely post.....clearly you're ahead of the field !  :D

Personally, I prefer a quill pen, ostrich vellum and pigeon post......is that Twitter ?




Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Emberman on January 16, 2013, 10:29:32 AM
Does anyone know how to obtain those new stickers that state the householder doesn't buy from doorstep salesmen etc ? 

I've seen some a newer, better and larger version which will (hopefully) be a more effective deterrent....


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: craigvmax on January 16, 2013, 10:47:31 AM
these arent too offensive but should get the message across

http://www.housenameplate.co.uk/c/5/house-signs/s/67/home-related-amp-recycling-signs/g/134/front-of-house-signs/p/349/no-door-to-door-sales-people-sign/


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Juninho on January 16, 2013, 11:13:35 AM
Hmm tempting to buy a bunch load and errr sell them door to door!!!

;)


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: craigvmax on January 16, 2013, 11:27:47 AM
genius!


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on January 16, 2013, 12:34:28 PM
Quote from: Emberman on January 16, 2013, 10:29:32 AM
Does anyone know how to obtain those new stickers that state the householder doesn't buy from doorstep salesmen etc ?   

I've seen some a newer, better and larger version which will (hopefully) be a more effective deterrent....

It's  in this thread on scams, bogus callers, quesitonable activities (http://residents-association.com/forum/index.php?topic=502.msg9037#msg9037) and the link is: http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/business-and-consumers/dealing-with-and-avoiding-rogue-traders/no-cold-calling-zones/stop-cold-callers/information-for-residents-about-our-no-cold-calling-sticker-scheme

But a resident (one of those who looks at this forum but is not confident enough with computer use to  post) has just telephoned me to advise that the stickers are also available from Dittons Library in Mercer Close.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: mg on January 16, 2013, 02:07:56 PM
Thanks Keith (Batman) and the user who can't use Forum (I know the feeling)  for telling us that the stickers are available at the library.  I make it a policy never to open the door to anyone that I don't know.  I always look out of the window and if they haven't been invited I just say sorry through the glass.  My 91 year old mother though (bless her) always opens the door to anyone because she thinks it is rude not too!!!!!  How many times do I have to tell her .........


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on February 02, 2013, 09:50:03 AM
Quote from: Keith on December 28, 2012, 10:14:31 AM
http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/news/article-2253868/Retailers-facing-tougher-year-squeeze-consumers-continues.html

Another piece from the rather good 'thisismoney' site - a welcome contrast with much of the Daily Mail.

Notable:
- "rate of empty shops in town centres has reached a new high of 11.3 per cent...."

- "An undersupply of retail property could also curb plans for larger store expansions, research from accountant KPMG and Ipsos shows, heaping further pressure on retailers to develop innovative schemes to drive sales and survive."

Comment: undersupply? Hmnnn... I had an interesting conversation over the hols with a director of one large chain who said that many of the established large retailers with out-of-town sites were now wanting to rent off sections of their large stores to other chains.  The logic being that many were increasing their online sales, while still needing stores for display to customers and for, well, storage; and increasingly (and this was the interesting part) as depots for local delivery.  The speed and cost of delivery was becoming an important factor - in some cases, delivery within hours could be a market maker.  Decentralisation giving a chain a modest presence everywhere could be advantageous.


Another interesting article in today's DT:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/9840894/The-British-high-street-is-already-reinventing-itself.html

I noted especially the last para: "Even Amazon, portrayed as the enemy of Jessops, HMV, and Blockbuster, recognises the benefits of the high street. It has opened collection lockers in Martin McColl newsagents and local Spar convenience shops. "

Many good points made.  But concerning the one about planning constraints, I think that relaxation of change of use restrictions would be likely to terminally damage the small number of remaining retail shops in our own village High Street; particularly coupled with the Government's intention to remove altogether the need for planning permission to change use from office to residential.  We need planning regs to evolve in order to permit sensible variation in use to adapt to local circumstances, but if anything, that should be accompanied by stronger, not weaker, protection of those uses.

I will be interested to see how the combination of internet and store works for the new fashion enterprise next to Hawes.

Another example of how internet works with classic retail and the telephone is the florist sector.  Online I view the offerings of florists near my mother's home, then phone  so I can discuss a couple of points and place the order for them to deliver locally.   The process works the other way round for our excellent florist in TD High Street - http://www.secretgardenfloraldesigns.com/


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on February 05, 2013, 10:39:26 AM
From Ofwat's figures, Customer bills for Thames Water are to rise an average of 5% in 2013-2014.

TD Misery Fund: difficult to invest in Thames Water, but of the other water utilities several brokers recommend United Utilities.  They are expected to charge 'only' 3.2% more, but already charge an average customer nearly 15% more than Thames Water.  A buy...


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on February 11, 2013, 10:59:33 AM
Just when you thought it was safe to eat horseburgers...
""Horse meat found in British supermarkets 'may be donkey' " (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/horse-meat-found-in-british-supermarkets-may-be-donkey-8489030.html)

Whatever next?  Hedgehog??


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on February 11, 2013, 11:14:49 AM
I've added Associated British Foods to the Misery Fund portfolio, which btw is already showing an increase of 0.3% over a week.

I'm also going to add a couple of banks - Barclays, which I have found a pretty miserable experience these past few years (poor rates, aggressive attempted selling of 'products', phoning to sell insurance in the evenings etc) and Standard Chartered, which I gather has lately shelled out some misery to a valued forum contributor.

Any more for the Fund?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on February 13, 2013, 09:39:29 AM
Jeff Randall, with some trenchant words (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/9865287/If-banks-and-food-companies-want-a-good-reputation-they-should-just-be-honest.html) on "reputation management", says it all: "If companies want a good reputation, they should just be honest."


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on February 16, 2013, 02:13:51 PM
Horsemeat latest:
TD Junior School passes on the following message from Surrey Commercial Services, the company that provides  school meals:

‘We would like to reassure you that all meat used in our school meals is UK sourced with full traceability and carries the Farm Assured
(Red Tractor) accreditation. We have the Food for Life Catering mark, audited by the Soil Association, and we do not use any processed
beef products in our meals. Our supplier 3663 does not use any of the food processing plants implicated in the current incident and is actively
involved in food testing under the FSA guidelines.’


Things have come a long way from the untested gristle and cabbage that my school dished out when I was a lad.  Ah, if I close my eyes I can still smell it now....


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on February 17, 2013, 10:01:15 AM
Today's Indie: (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/revealed-leaked-document-exposes-george-osbornes-education-cuts-8498240.html) "A confidential paper drawn up by civil servants assessing the Department for Education's finances reveals that the Chancellor's promise in 2010 to increase the front-line schools budget in real terms for four years "is not, in fact, what is happening"."

And in December we had (BBC) (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20600852): "Ministers rebuked on NHS spending claim..." Office of national statistics found the best-available Treasury data suggested real-terms health spending was lower in 2011-12 than in 2009-10. [[ despite Conservative Party and Cameron/Coalition 'pledges' to ring-fence the NHS budget. ]]



Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on February 20, 2013, 01:44:34 PM
Very interesting and intelligent article by the BBC's home editor: Why have the white British left London? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21511904)

Good to read something that is not beset by either jingoism or political correctness.  I particularly liked the observation that: "With a time-lapse camera, it would appear that London is pulsing as generations and ethnic groups move up and move out. "

A couple of years ago at our street party for the Royal wedding, a small number of very diverse Church Walk residents were discussing this sort of theme, late at night, loosened by drink just enough to speak frankly.  I found it very encouraging that almost every one liked and valued the increasingly multicultural mix in London (and indeed in TD).  But the key word is "mix."  When those "huddled masses yearning to be free" remain huddled in self-contained communities, there's trouble.  Where they mix in with established communities, and slowly change them, there is good; there is cross-fertilization; there is vigour.

One of the reasons I love TD is that there are plenty of people to keep one's mind alive.


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 08, 2013, 11:57:37 AM
So - the OECD is predicting an oil price of $190 pb by 2020 - less than seven years away......and that's even without factoring in potential disruption in the Middle East, war with Iran ....

The pound will depreciate on top of that....  By 2020, a quick calculation on the back of an envelope suggests that a pint bottle of crude on your supermarket shelf would cost around 75p.

The cost of motoring will rise......  come in, Craig.... will shale oil fix that?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 08, 2013, 12:01:00 PM
Pirate treasure - according to Bloomberg, US companies are currently sheltering cash piles totalling $1.9 trillion offshore, out of reach of the Federal taxman.  Anyone got a map showing where the chests are buried?


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on March 10, 2013, 06:38:00 PM
I liked this comment from a true blue Telegraph reader:
"sooner or later, we have to either replace the leadership of the Conservative Party with conservatives, or replace the Conservative Party with a conservative party."


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Keith on May 10, 2013, 10:24:29 AM
How corrupt is Britain?
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/scandal-just-how-corrupt-is-britain-8610095.html
"... recent British scandals can compete with the best Europe can offer."


Title: Re: The way things are:
Post by: Admin on July 18, 2013, 08:25:22 AM
[url]http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/revealed-the-great-outsourcing-scandal-as-firms-cut-corners-to-cream-profits-off-public-8715119.html[url]Private companies providing public services are routinely “gaming the system” to make money for their shareholders at the expense of the taxpayer, a major new study finds today.

No surprise to regular readers here - you read it here long ago....


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