Tag Archive | "Jacqui Smith"

Is Gordon Brown about to make another Balls up?

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Is Gordon Brown about to make another Balls up?


Rumours are abound that Gordon Brown intends to complete a cabinet reshuffle either, at the end of this week, or during the course of next week, especially if, as expected, Labour get a drubbing at the local and EU elections.

What has shocked me however, is that Gordon Brown is said to be considering promoting Ed Balls to Chancellor of the Exchequer. If he does that, then there really is a strong case for someone to send the men in white coats to Downing Street. So, from The Undertaker to The Clown, little wonder this country is in such a mess! Now I accept that Ed Balls is Brown’s best buddy, god know he needs them, but Balls is completely inept. His idea of selling something to the public is to keep repeating himself in the hope that we will get worn in submission. Ed Balls can barely string a sentence together, he is a poor commons debater, a useless TV performer and, lets face it, his first ministerial post as Schools Secretary has hardly been a success. In fact, the only ‘success’ he can claim is his innate ability to shift the blame onto others.

Loyalty, obedience and arse licking may be fine attributes for a dog, but not a Chancellor. Moving from Alistair Darling to Ed Balls can only be described as going from The Undertaker, to The Clown. At a time when this country is an economic basketcase, we need the very best available in the role of Chancellor, not another puppet. Some may claim that Ed Balls has experience because of his time at the Treasury, but he was just a messenger boy there, so he can more claim to be a Chancellor than an orator can claim to be a writer. If Gordon Brown decided to appoint Ed Balls to Chancellor then it is quite clear Brown has no interest in this country or the people of this country, his primary interest is himself and his buddies. One or two commentators have suggested that Ed Balls is highly respected in the City, so, my first question is, WHY? The second is how come so many people within the City are going on record to say the opposite?

Apart from the fact that Ed Balls does not possess the skills, gravitas or experience to take on the role of Chancellor, there is also the question of his moral rectitude. Ed Balls is married to Yvette Cooper and they both claim the Additional Cost Allowances for their London property, which they have designated as their second home, albeit not at the maximum rate, but they only need one home, don’t they? Similarly, between them, it is reported that they claim £600 per month in food allowances. Whilst what they have done is “within the rules”, the fact remains that they have nominated three different properties in two years to be their main residence. With both in ministerial posts, they have a combined salary of nearly £300,000 per year, they are hardly destitute nor are they in desperate need of the Additional Cost Allowances. Can this be described as prudence? Can we really trust a man that is quite willing to work the rules to maximise his allowances to seek value for the taxpayer? I don’t think so.

Gordon Brown is finished, but if he wants to demonstrate that he is also a complete idiot, then all he needs to do is appoint Ed Balls as Chancellor.

On a side note, I am please that char lady to the Police, Jacqui Smith is to quit at the next Cabinet reshuffle, but given she was expected to go anyway, all this is designed to do is allow her to leave with dignity. But we know the truth, she is, and always was, a useless Home Secretary who, instead of controlling and directing her departments, just became their gofer, char lady, bag holder. Good riddance. We now need a Home Secretary that does not believe in destroying individual liberty in a vain and discredited hope of reducing the risk of crime and terrorism.

Posted in General, Labour, World | Comments (7)

Jacqui Smith wants your DNA, innocent or guilty

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Jacqui Smith wants your DNA, innocent or guilty


The Home Office has outlined a series of proposals in relation to the DNA database designed to counter the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that it was illegal. However, in doing so, they have demonstrated utter contempt for the ruling, choosing instead to go for a fudge. If these proposals are put into force, it will inevitably lead to further legal challenges in the European Court by Human Rights campaigners.

The Home Office consultation proposes the following:

  • Destroying all original DNA samples, like mouth swabs, as soon as they are converted into a digital database profile
  • Automatically deleting after 12 years the profiles of those arrested but not convicted of a serious violent or sexual crime
  • Automatically deleting after six years the profiles of anyone arrested but not convicted of other offences
  • Retaining indefinitely the DNA profiles and fingerprints of anyone convicted of a recordable offence
  • Remove the profiles of young people arrested but not convicted, or convicted of less serious offences, when they turn 18

The bottom line, is that even in Big Brother Britain, you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. It is, therefore, unreasonable in the extreme for DNA samples to be retained where individuals have been arrested, but not convicted, or arrested but not even charged. By retaining the samples, the Home Office is suggesting, by implication, that the individual may commit an offence in the future. Under these proposals, if the Home Office want to increase the size of the database, all they have to do is encourage the Police to arrest more people, the Police will then be entitled to take, record and retain a DNA sample.  How long before the Police are targeted on the taking of DNA samples?

Clearly DNA evidence can be very useful in solving crimes. However, this must be weighed against the infringement on the civil liberties of the majority. We are all entitled to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. We must not permit the state to use this ‘back door’ method of arrest without charge to increase the size of the DNA database.  It is also worth noting that the Home Office is proposing that DNA samples be retained indefinitely for what is termed a recordable offence. But these offences can vary from the public order offence of failing to give notice of a procession and, for example, drunkeness, public order, begging  right through to having a bladed weapon or crossbow in public.  In fact, making a hoax 999 call or falsely claiming a professional qualification are all recordable crimes. How can such a broad range of offences brought under the innocuously sounding term ‘recordable offence’ be considered proportionate, especially given any of these offences would mean that your DNA is on file for life under the current proposals.

Whatever your view on Big Brother Britain and the DNA database, we must all remind ourselves, that in 12 years, this government has introduced 3,607 new laws, in other words, a month doesn’t go by without there bing new laws that we are supposed to know and not infringe. If this continues, it is only a matter of time before we all find ourselves on the national DNA database. No government in the world has considered it necessary or desirable to have so many of their citizens recorded on a DNA database. In fact the UK has the largest database in the world, now ask yourself this, do we all feel safer, do we have a higher detection and conviction rate when compared to comparable countries? NO! Because if we did, you can be certain that the Home Office would have told us.

We must say no to this massive intrusion into our everyday lives.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (5)

Who is running the country?

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Who is running the country?


It is not lost on me that, at a time when our country is in economic meltdown, our soldiers are dying on the front line, unemployment is rising at a phenomenal rate and businesses are going bust every day, our government is just not interested – Note: I have excluded ‘Swine Flu’ because this is just a convenient distraction for our government.

Instead, they are intent on squabbling like spoilt school children. Little wonder we are in such a mess, each and every one of them should be ashamed. Headlines no longer deal with the issues that concern the public, instead they are dedicated to those within the Labour party that seek to criticise or defend New Labour and/or Gordon Brown. Whilst I am all for the discredited New Labour machine going into self-destruct mode, I am concerned that it is happening whilst they are still in government, it is akin to sending a text message on your mobile phone, whilst travelling at over 100 mph on the motorway.

It is clear to me, that only now, have Labour diehards realised that their social experiment has been a failure, both in terms of policy and implementation. Instead of bickering, they should call a general election for the sake of the country and let the people decide who is fit to get us through this mess. But no, they couldn’t give a toss, they choose to fight each other rather than concentrate on what they were elected to do…run the country. Their selfishness clearly knows no bounds.

To save the party arguing the toss for the next 12 months as they desperately and unashamedly hang onto power, let me explain why they failed, in simple terms, that even children can comprehend. Now I will not get into the detail of whether or not the policies were right because this is neither the time, nor the place. However, the failure can be simply put, it is not about the plan, it is all about the implementation. New Labour came up with a vision, a plan for the United Kingdom and instead of placing the very best people in charge of these plans, they resorted to cronyism. The decision on who would be responsible for implementation of New Labour’s grand vision was determined on reward, not merit.

Government is not the place for ‘on the job’ training. Take for example Jacqui Smith, how can a background in teaching economics at a high school qualify her for the position of Home Secretary? Or Alan Johnson, before entering parliament, he was a postman and then a full-time union official, so how is this going to help him run one of the 3rd largest employer in the world, the National Health Service? David Miliband is now Foreign Secretary, yet before entering parliament, he was a researcher for the Institute for Public Policy Research. How does this qualify him as the best person to represent our interests on the world stage? Even the Chinese questioned Ed Miliband over his “qualifications” to lecture them on climate change, his response was that as a politician, he was in effect, charged with selling the concept.

Take Gordon Brown for example. Some may think that he had some sort of financial background, an accountant perhaps, or a financial analyst. But no, this man who was to become our Chancellor of 10 years, had no such qualifications, little wonder that he lead us into the biggest economic crisis in 60 years. Gordon Brown was a Rector of the University of Edinburgh, after that, he was employed as a lecturer in Politics at the Glasgow College of Technology. From 1980, until he was elected a member of parliament, he was a journalist at Scottish Television, later becoming an editor for current affairs at the same television station.

As for Tony Blair, his background prior to becoming an MP is so scant, it is not worth mentioning, so I won’t. Little wonder then that this government of ,very little talent, has had to spend £billions on consultants throughout their term of office. 

It never ceases to amaze me how, in politics, ministers are offered position not based on merit, but based on loyalty. If the private sector were to resort to such cronyism, it would fail miserably, instead, with a few exceptions, the private sector employ the best people for the job, based on experience, knowledge and ability. No so ministers. If those in the private sector fail, they are fired and replaced with someone else that can do the job. Not so ministers, they are normally forgiven, occasionally moved, but rarely sent to the backbenches.

The internal squabbling of New Labour is lamentable, but it is also dangerous. The public are not stupid, they can work out that if the party, including government ministers are fighting amongst themselves, then they are not fighting for us. If the party had any sense of self-respect, they would admit that they had lost the plot, lacked any direction and had demonstrably failed the British public and in doing so, offer the people of this country the opportunity to decide on their future as well as our own. They won’t of course, because now, more than at any time in our history, MP’s of all parties are in denial of the fact that they are elected to serve, not rule. And chief amongst this philosophy and belief are members of the Labour party.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (11)

Paul Stephenson, are you proud of the Met?

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Paul Stephenson, are you proud of the Met?


So, we have IPCC investigations into the conduct of two police officers and now, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary (HMIC) will review policing tactics. No doubt, these investigations will take an age to come to any conclusions, so much of the detail will have faded by that time. No doubt we will also have a new Met Commissioner and undoubtedly a new Government. So that’s all right then!

It does not take a review or an inquiry to determine that herding law-abiding citizens into a small area and then stopping them from leaving amounts to an illegal detention. None of these people have committed a crime, therefore to prevent them from leaving the area, when they have not been arrested, amounts to the Metropolitan Police breaking the law they are supposed to uphold. What type of example  is this? There has been a court case on this police tactic and the courts suggested that so long as it is proportionate, then it is legal, that cannot be acceptable to the majority in this country!

The Police call this tactic “Kettling”, because it is supposed to take the steam out of a potentially violent situation, however those contained would argue that it is more likely a cynical description of the fact that protestors will want to let off steam when they find themselves ilegally contained. This almost smacks of deliberate provocation or at the very least, active baiting.

No Police force is above the law, and there must be an immediate and unambiguous commitment made by the police that they will never again illegally detain innocent demonstrators en-masse. Further, Jacqui Smith must also come out of her bunker, remover her blinkers and uphold the civil liberties and rights of the people, that is HER job. The containment and illegal detention policies adopted and implemented by the Metropolitan Police were more akin to those of a Police State, than those of a democracy where liberty and freedom are values are respected and upheld.

Stephenson must also provide an explanation as to why some of his officers were permitted to cover up their identification numbers and/or wear balaclavas? This does not need an inquiry, nor a review, just an explanation from the boss and a commitment that it will never happen again. Otherwise we will be forced to draw our only conclusions as to why those required to uphold the law would feel the need to hide their identities with methods normally associated with the criminal fraternity…disguised identity numbers, balaclavas etc.

The very latest images of a large police officer cuffing a small woman is completely unacceptable, as was the use of a baton by the same officer on the same woman. No matter what the verbal provocation, police officers are supposed to be highly trained, they are supposed to defuse, not inflame volatile situations. What if the crowd erupted over this incident? Based on the evidence I have seen and assuming that the officer was verbally abused, I can see no justification whatsoever in slapping the woman across the face and then using a steel baton against her. This was not proportionate. The question must be whether this was an isolated incident or more akin with modern policing tactics in the Met, or further afield.

Whatever the circumstances, based on what I witnessed on television, this is not how I want our country represented abroad, this did not feel like a country that permitted peaceful demonstration and free speech, it did not feel like we had a world class police service and above all, it gave me the impression of being in something akin to a police state. Aggressive policing, active herding of law-abiding demonstrators, officers attempting to hide their identities and overwhelming force does not make me feel free. By all means, the police must protect people and property, but this scatter gun approach does not work, it is oppressive and has no place in a free society.

SPREAD THE WORD:

A Conservative MP is seeking a second reading for a new Bill, titled ‘Exercise of Reasonable Discretion’. If passed into law, this will allow every public servant, including MP, civil servants, local government officers, the police etc., a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’ in any civil or criminal case brought about as a consequence of their actions. All they would have to prove, is that they acted in good faith, this as anyone in the know will understand, is a catch-all defence.

In essence, it could allow MP’s to argue that they made certain decisions, such as going to war, based on advice where they were required to use reasonable discretion, officials entering into multi-million pound contracts which are subsequently cancelled or overrun, will also be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion. It is effectively a get out of jail free card for any public servant. Effectively removing accountability and increasing risk, because of course, if there is no effective punishment, there is no need to be careful. We should all shout as loud as we can to ensure that this type of legislation never sees the light of day.

Posted in Civil Liberties, General, Labour | Comments (0)

Disreputable MP’s and their expenses

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Disreputable MP’s and their expenses


Much has been written about MP’s and their expenses over the past few weeks and little wonder given we expect our elected representatives to always act in the best interests of their constituents, the public at large and above all, with the utmost integrity. Yet, each time an MP has been exposed as maximising their expense allowances, we are informed that the claim has either been an error, or more often has been claimed in “accordance with the rules” and “fully declared”.

I have already stated in previous posts that I am not suggesting that any MP or Minister has acted in a corrupt manner and without evidence to the contrary, I stand by that statement. However, what is clear to me is that it is the the expense allowance programme is corrupt, given it facilitates and even encourages members of parliament to maximise their claims with little or no scrutiny as part of their ‘rewards package’. My prior statement notwithstanding, it is MP’s that are the sole arbiters on the expense system they benefit from, because only they can vote to introduce change. Therefore, it is a bit rich when they are so defensive because the public has the temerity and audacity to find these claims objectionable and excessive, even though we have never been consulted…instead we just expected to foot the bill. Bollocks!

I believe that the only reason Gordon Brown and his cronies are recommending a review of the expense allowances is because they want and expect the committee to suggest that salaries are increased to compensate for the loss of some or all of the current allowances. This is not and never will be acceptable to the public. It is right that MP’s should be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses, that have been incurred wholly and exclusively in the course of their parliamentary duties, but that is it. Anything else would be an abuse. MP’s know what the salary and benefits are before they stand, if they don’t like the package, then they must step aside, there will be no shortage of people clamouring for their seats.

In the past, the basis or motivation for new laws was invariably where the majority of people found something objectionable, offensive or wrong. It is clear to me that the overwhelming majority of people in this country consider the MP expense allowances to be far too generous, self-serving and open to abuse. Therefore, all MP’s have a duty to the public to outlaw such acts, even if it is detrimental to their own interests. A failure to do this is a failure of their duty and obligation to the public. It does not need a committee to determine what is wrong with the expense allowance scheme, public opinion has already made that clear, MP’s must act decisively and NOW, for if they don’t the trust in our Parliamentary system of representation will be irreparably damaged. Trust has already been damaged.

The people of this country have had to put up with interfering Ministers and MP’s introducing a raft of new legislation designed exclusive and comprehensively to erode our liberty, right to privacy and long held freedoms, whilst they (the MP’s) are, for the most part exempted from the same laws. They have lost all sense of reality and completely removed themselves from society.

Over the past 11 years we have seen legislation brought in to protect foxes, whilst having to accept the broken Manifesto promise of a vote on the Lisbon Treaty. We have seen public sector final salary pension schemes protected and enhanced whilst those in the private sector were raided to the tune of £10bn per year. We have seen Ministers living in grace and favour homes, whilst renting out their taxpayer funded London home, meanwhile other hardworking people have had their homes repossessed. We have seen countless examples of MP’s going on free taxpayer junkets with their entourage, whilst many people will be lucky to afford a weekend in Blackpool. The hypocrisy of our current batch of MP’s knows no bounds, but it has got to stop. Our system of parliamentary democracy goes back hundreds of years, but more damage has been done to it by this current group of MP’s than at any time since it started. Members of Parliament must hang their heads in shame, hand back our money, can the expense allowance scheme and agree not to stand for elected office again. Then there may be a small chance that the damage to our democratic process and, the necessary trust in accountable members of parliament, may be rectified in our lifetimes. It is the least we would expect from decent individuals, but then again, few of our current batch of MP’s could be described as decent!

SPREAD THE WORD:

A Conservative MP is seeking a second reading for a new Bill, titled ‘Exercise of Reasonable Discretion’. If passed into law, this will allow every public servant, including MP, civil servants, local government officers, the police etc., a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’ in any civil or criminal case brought about as a consequence of their actions. All they would have to prove, is that they acted in good faith, this as anyone in the know will understand, is a catch-all defence.

In essence, it could allow MP’s to argue that they made certain decisions, such as going to war, based on advice where they were required to use reasonable discretion, officials entering into multi-million pound contracts which are subsequently cancelled or overrun, will also be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion. It is effectively a get out of jail free card for any public servant. Effectively removing accountability and increasing risk, because of course, if there is no effective punishment, there is no need to be careful. We should all shout as loud as we can to ensure that this type of legislation never sees the light of day.

Posted in Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (2)

British Police are out of control

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British Police are out of control


Now I am not just referring to the case of Ian Tomlinson the bystander who died of a heart attack shortly after being hit (allegedly) by a police officer at the G20. No, I am basing my statement on the fact that the Police appear are, for all intents and purposes, a law unto themselves.

Unless you are very lucky, anyone that has had to report a crime to the Police will be aware that they (the Police) are the ultimate arbiter as to which crimes they will investigate and which one’s they will not. This is likely to depend on what their local priorities are, which can range from Government targets, to a local, ‘wet behind the ears’ Police Inspector’s latest management wheeze, designed only to progress his career. A friend of mine has a business which is in a street just behind the main police station, it has been plagued for over 5 years by open drug dealing, anti-social behaviour, criminal damage, tenant intimidation and arson. The best the Police can do is send a PCSO around the industrial estate once or twice a day, the ‘local’ bobby was moved off the area nearly 2 years ago. He has not been replaced.

A neighbour of mine has complained 3 times over a period of 5 weeks about cars parking on the ‘zig-zags’ outside her children’s school. She was prompted into action after witnessing a near miss accident when a child ran onto a crossing, he could not see the car and the driver could not see him because of 3 other cars being parked on the zig zags. The first time she complained, a PCSO was sent over, but only one person dared to park on the zig zags that day, but the PCSO could do nothing anyway. Then a traffic officer promised to do several drive-by’s at the appropriate time, a promise he failed to keep. On the 3rd complaint, the local police officer “promised” to deal with the issue, that was two weeks before the kids broke up for Easter, nothing happened. What has made her particularly angry, is that she has witnessed 5 police cars over the period in question manoeuvre their own vehicles around those illegally parked without do anything about it, not so much as a warning.

The Government has recently launched a new initiative designed to ‘engage’ with the public, but no-one seems to have told their front-line staff. If you try and speak to your local officer you must go through their call centre, staff will record the information and state that they will pass it on to the relevany departement, but offer no promises of any action. If the police do respond, it will not be a proper copper, it will be a PCSO. If you want to lodge a complaint you cannot speak to a ‘senior officer’ (by that they mean anyone of sergeant level of above, yep…a sergeant) by telephone, no, you must go into the station.

My car was hit my an uninsured motorcyclist. To his (the drivers) credit he gave me his correct name and details. When I went to the police station, I had to give all of the details to a civilian, not a police officer. The police never contacted me about the issue, I had to chase them, when I eventually got an answer they said they would be taking no action because there was no independent witness. I can tell you, that I KNOW they never even visited the other driver, much less investigated the incident, it was just swept under the carpet. They did not even bother to come and get a statement from me, something that had been promised. This is just a small microcosm of what is happening today, little wonder, that in spite of there being over 150,000 police officers, crime is up, detection is down and people feel less safe than ever before.

Meanwhile, everytime the Police want more powers, Jacqui Smith gives in to them. The police have unprecedented powers, they can even decide on whether or not we can exercise our ‘democratic right’ to demonstrate. At the G20, the Police effectively (and illegally) detained thousands of people by shepherding them into certain areas and then insisting that they remain there. What civilised democracy allows their police to act in such a way? When the Police decided that the demonstrations must end, they then acted like street yobs themselves by bullying, for the most part, well-behaved and peaceful protesters. I do not, nor would I ever criticise the Police for dealing quickly and decisively with those breaking the law, acting in a threatening manner or intent on trouble at such demonstrations, but to tar everyone with the same brush is completely unacceptable.

The film of Tomlinson appears to show an unprovoked attack on someone who was trying to go home and had no part in the demonstrations. The film depicts an image of a police office hitting him with a baton and then shoving him over. The man had his hands in his pockets and his back to the Police, he was even walking away, based on the filmed evidence he posed no threat to the officers. That did not stop one Police Officer acting in a manner that was completely unacceptable and reckless. Only a complete idiot would push a man with such force that he could fall forward, but would only be able to break the fall if he was to get his hands out of his pockets in time. This action was captured on film, prior to that the Police were denying that there was any interaction between them and the victim. There is no suggestion here that the actions of the Police were a contributory factor to the mans death, instead, I contend that the Police Officer, on the face of it, acted in what appeared to be an aggressive and unprofessional manner. Further, the Police tactics of dealing with the G20 demonstrators amounted to nothing other than illegal detention, it must not happen on our streets again.

The current Police baton is a very serious piece of kit and would be considered an illegal weapon if carried by a civilian, because it could prove lethal. Yet the Police routinely bring out the baton when there is NO threat, just watch any ‘fly on the wall’ programme on the Police service. Officers also have CS gas and now, all front line officers are to be ‘armed’ with lethal Tasers. Have the public been provided with any safeguards against rogue or over-zealous Police Officers, no, in fact they (the Police) can now rely on new legislation to prevent anyone filming them? Little wonder people refer to this country becoming a Police State.

I am NOT anti-police, but I believe people that are paid to do a job must do it, they should not be allowed to pick and choose which bits they will or will not do on a whim. Further, officers are given extensive training on how to handle difficult situations calmly and professionally whilst always operating within the law. The film clip of the Tomlinson incident suggests that there are some officers out there who think they can do what they want or perhaps that they are above the law.  Yet the Police are forever whining, especially is anyone dares to criticise them or expect them to fight crime.

If a Police Officer dies in the line of duty, we are reminded at how the Police put their lives on the line to protect the public every day, now that is true. But they also know what is expected of them before they join the police service, they are well trained and very well rewarded. Good career prospects, excellent salary and pension scheme and if they behave themselves, a job for life. However, scratch below the surface and the ‘danger’ aspect of policing in this country just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny, with all the health and safety rules they must adhere to and the fact that they so rarely get their hands dirty, it is probably one of the safest. Many times more travelling salesmen die in the course of their work than police officers.

The police have demanded and received from compliant politicians more and more powers to monitor, control and deal with ordinary members of the public. Further, they have been given physical weapons and new laws that they can use against any person they so wish, with little, if any independent oversight. They have people within their ranks (serving officers) that have been charged and found guilty of offenses ranging from drink driving, through to violence and drug dealing…..yet they are still expect the public to trust them. Even though these same officers will be the ultimate arbiter of which laws to enforce, when and against whom. A succession of compliant Ministers have made the police in this country all powerful and answerable to no-one. We must wrestle control back to where it must be and that is with the people….because it is difficult to argue that the British Police are NOT out of control.

 

SPREAD THE WORD:

A Conservative MP is seeking a second reading for a new Bill, titled ‘Exercise of Reasonable Discretion’. If passed into law, this will allow every public servant, including MP, civil servants, local government officers, the police etc., a legal defence of ‘reasonable discretion’ in any civil or criminal case brought about as a consequence of their actions. All they would have to prove, is that they acted in good faith, this as anyone in the know will understand, is a catch-all defence.

In essence, it could allow MP’s to argue that they made certain decisions, such as going to war, based on advice where they were required to use reasonable discretion, officials entering into multi-million pound contracts which are subsequently cancelled or overrun, will also be able to claim that they exercised reasonable discretion. It is effectively a get out of jail free card for any public servant. Effectively removing accountability and increasing risk, because of course, if there is no effective punishment, there is no need to be careful. We should all shout as loud as we can to ensure that this type of legislation never sees the light of day.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (5)

Darling Expense Claim: They are all at it!

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Darling Expense Claim: They are all at it!


Just 24 hours after it emerged that Geoff Hoon was claiming a ‘second home allowance’ for his Derbyshire constituency home, whilst renting out his London pad and living in a taxpayer funded ‘grace and favour home’ it transpires that Alistair Darling is doing something similar. Yet another example of Ministers who are expected to set an example hiding behind the rules of a corrupt expense allowance programme that they get to craft and then vote on!

As I alluded to in my posting yesterday, it appears impossible to find any MP that does not have his or her snout in the trough, they all seem to be at it. At a time of higher taxes for mere mortals, MP’s seem to be protecting their own positions with unjustifiable and very generous tax free expense allowances, that bear no relation to ‘out of pocket’ expenses.

MP’s expense allowances bear absolutely no relation to those in the private sector. For example, most people working in London will travel, at their own expense, to and from work, often leaving in the very early hours and getting home late. I for example, used to leave at 5.00am in the morning and get home at between 8.00 and 9.00pm….everyday for 9 years! My petrol was paid, but I then had to declare this as a benefit in kind. Most people in the private sector will receive an overnight allowance if they are staying in London, a relocation allowance, or a small one-off grant to cover the rental of a small flat etc. Not so for MP’s, they get annual allowances for virtually everything.

How ironic that the very people that bear a good deal of the responsibility for the economic mess we are in should seek to make the taxpayers pay for their mistakes (increased taxes, stealth taxes, bailots etc), whilst feathering their own nests with unjustifiable expense allowance benefits. Why do we all sit here and take it,  whilst these self-serving, pompous hypocrites are sneering at us in that contemptuous way that serving MP’s have got off to an art? Meanwhile, Gordon Brown says he has far more important things to deal with than MP’s expenses, well he has a point, but, if his ministers are milking a corrupt expense allowance programme, how are the public to have, or maintain, any trust in their honesty, integrity and judgement?

MP’s must not be allowed to hide behind the fact that they operated within the rules or that their claims had been “openly declared“. One of their own MP’s referred to the fact there is a “court of public opinion” and indeed there is. Members of Parliament have quite rightly declared open warfare on those that seek to minimise their personal and business tax obligations through complicated offshore tax schemes, many of whom are operating “within the rules”, but failing to contribute in a fair and equitable manner. Yet MP’s are doing exactly the same thing, hiding behind the rules that they set up and voted on, yet expecting everyone else to do their part. It is hypocrisy of the highest order, yet we have not witnessed one apology (other than for mistakes), nor have we seen immediate action to curtail this abuse and worst still, no resignations or signs of embarrassment.

This appalling abuse has got to stop right now, the public are very, very angry and there will be a backlash as soon as that public opinion has been mobilised into action. Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, John Lyon must act, by ordering MP’s and Ministers to repay these unjustifiable allowances, whether or not they were within the rules. Meanwhile MP’s must start to demonstrate that they are ‘in one’ with the people of this country and not the self-serving hypocrites that their action suggest. Little wonder that the electorate is so disengaged from politics and the politicians.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (4)

Geoff Hoon: Another snout in the trough

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Geoff Hoon: Another snout in the trough


Has anyone noticed how politicians are becoming more and more cocky when their expense claims are made public? The latest Labour Minister to get caught with his trousers down, metaphorically speaking, is Geoff Hoon. But he doesn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed.

He has reportedly been claiming a second home allowance for his Derbyshire home, whilst renting out his London property and living in a taxpayer funded ‘grace and favour’ property. Hoon, uses the same excuse as his other cabinet colleagues, stating that it is allowed to do this according to the rules governing parliamentary expenses. He then pours scorn on his detractors by claiming he doesn’t believe that he has profited out of the arrangement. Does he really take us all for being so stupid that we would believe such a ludicrous statement?

It is not the politicians that are corrupt, because, as so many have lectured us, it is all within the rules governing expenses. But I defy any of them to state that the system itself is not corrupt and who votes on MP’s salaries, benefits and pensions? Yes, exactly, you don’t have to be corrupt to fleece the public, so long as the system is corrupt and the rules obeyed. When David Cameron says “we are all implicated and we must all find a solution“, you just know they are all at it. Little wonder that the public believe our Members of Parliament are self-serving, inward looking chancers who seek to maximise their personal finances at the expense of (no pun intended) the taxpayer and in their usual contemptuous and arrogant manner.

This is further evidence, if any more was needed, that MP’s are completely removed from reality. We have Jacqui Smith claiming for two washing machines, whilst everyone else has to make do with one and now, Geoff Hoon benefiting from two taxpayer funded properties, whilst many people are losing their homes as a consequence of this governments poor handling of the economy. If they (Labour Ministers) are too inept to see that this is wrong, then why the hell are they still in Government? No wonder this country is in such a mess with the majority of MP’s more interested in their own purse than the public purse. I am very, very angry and so should everyone else be. It is high time that the public made clear that they cannot and will not tolerate such contempt from the very people that are supposed to be serving and representing us. This Government has introduced more laws than any other administration, restricting our freedoms and liberties and criminalising what had previously be acceptable, whilst at the same time, exempting themselves from the same standards and laws.

You don’t need the ‘Committee on Standards in Public Life’ to determine that this current expense system for MP’s is a rogues charter and corrupt. By referring this issue to the committee, Gordon Brown has merely delayed the outcome. Moreover, it is a virtual certainty, that he and his fellow ministers want the committee to look at the entire rewards system, doubtless so they can propose a phasing out of the current expense system to be replaced by higher salaries. NO WAY! MP’s cannot reward themselves with higher salaries based on the fact that they will be losing money because they are no longer in receipt of benefits received by way of a corrupt system. If MP’s are to be provided with ANY increase, it must be based on results, not rhetoric and empty promises, that way we, the public, can be absolutely certain that they have no chance of getting the extra money, because not one of them has ever delivered what they said they would. Smith, Hoon and McNulty must be required to repay every single penny of their second home allowance back immediately if the public are to retain any confidence in its MP’s. Further, if anyone else has claimed a second home allowance, regardless of party, in similar circumstances, they must also be ordered to reimburse the taxpayer. In addition, MP’s must give up the right to determine their own salaries, pensions and benefits, they have proven that they are not fit to do so, this responsibility must be passed to a committee of elected members of the public.

Posted in Conservatives, Farcical Regulations, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (6)

Dismiss the dodgy coppers now

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Dismiss the dodgy coppers now


At a time when the police are targeting any misdemeanor made by a member of the public, it transpires that some of their number are themselves convicted criminals, yet they are still entrusted with the power to deal with the public. This is completely unacceptable, although to be honest, with Jacqui Smith’s track record, I am not completely surprised.

Under Jacqui Smith’s tenure each time the police want more powers to persecute the public they get them, irrespective of what this means to the civil liberties of the individual (Tasers, Prostitution, DNA etc). I am not anti-police, far from it, but if I am going to be investigated by a police officer, he had better have a record as clean as my own. That said, I am firmly against the police gaining ever more powers to spy on every citizen in the country, irrespective of whether there are grounds for such intrusion. It is completely unacceptable and implies that we are all suspects.

Just who are the police serving? Public confidence in the police service will not come by placing ‘plastic’ policemen (PCSO’s) in the front line, whilst experienced officers are searching databases looking for criminal intent or hiding in their comfortable and often, very expensive motor cars. In fact, where are the 160,000 police officers?

According to the LibDems, information gathered using the Freedom of Information Act, indicates that more than half of the 1,063 convictions admitted to by police forces that responded to the FOI request related to speeding or other motoring offences. However, what is particularly shocking, is the fact that some 77 officers have convictions for violence and 96 for dishonesty. How is the public supposed to retain faith in the police force of this country if they retain officers that have been convicted of criminal acts such as these? It is worth noting that the quoted figures are likely to be lower that the actual numbers reported given only 41 of the 51 police forces responded.

According to the LibDems, offences included a serious assault in Durham and four incidents of drug possession in Surrey. What is perhaps more shameful, is rather that condemning, the Police Federation sought to defend these officers. Granted, it is a small number when compared with the 160,000 police officers in the service, but, what is undeniable, is the fact that these dodgy coppers have besmirched the service they are supposed to represent and in doing so, cast a shadow over the police officers that do abide by the law.

In my view, this is shameful, Jacqui Smith should try and do something useful during her term in office, (which, mercifully, is likely to be quite short) and that would be to ensure that these officers convicted of a criminal offence are immediately thrown out of the police service.

Posted in Civil Liberties, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (8)

Gordon Brown needs to Get a Grip on MP’s Expenses

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Gordon Brown needs to Get a Grip on MP’s Expenses


Hazel Blears has suggested that Labour MP’s should “get a grip” in relation to gossip about those seeking to take on the top job when Gordon Brown steps down. Like that is going to happy any time soon!

However, in my view it is Gordon Brown that must get a grip, of MP’s expenses. At a time when everyone is tightening their belts to ride the storm that for the most part has been created by this government, its policies and Gordon Brown’s mis-management, many MP’s are filling their pockets with tax free expenses. These expenses are funded by the hard pressed taxpayers of this country. I am not suggesting that MP’s are not following the letter of the rules, but they are quite clearly not following the spirit and that in my view this is an abuse. To make matters worse, people right at the centre of government are also abusing a set of rules that were introduced to assist MP’s in their out of pocket expenses, not enrich their lifestyles.

Take Jacqui Smith for example. She claims that the decision to call her sisters home her main residence is within the current interpretation of the rules and that may even be the case. But this woman is the Home Secretary, surely someone that sits at the top of the food chain in terms of law and order should act strictly within the rules, not simply in the spirit of them? She, with her fellow cabinet ministers, must set good examples, not simply sit with their noses in the trough. Members of Parliament are in the unique and privileged position of bring able to claim expenses quite freely that those in the private sector could only dream of.

It is estimated that Ms Smith has been able to claim as much as £116,000 tax free as a result of this interpretation of the rules. If an ordinary member of the public were to be asked how they would determine someone’s principle place of residence, they are likely to state that it would be where the rest of their family reside, where the kids go to school, where all the household accounts are held, where your banks and credit card statements go to etc. So why is it, that MP’s are given so much latitude? Simply this, that instead of MP’s expenses being a method of reimbursing out of pocket expenses, it has become a ‘perk’ of the job and that is completely and utterly unacceptable. The Jacqui Smith debacle follows, of course, directly on the heels of the uproar over Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper’s interpretation of the rules that allowed them to elect which property was their primary residence (subsequently upheld by the watchdog). The bottom line is MP’s cannot and should not be trusted to vote on and determine their own allowances or expenses.

MP’s expenses must be further simplified, instead of a second home allowance, they should be provided with a ‘fixed’ overnight allowance. That is to say, if they elect to stay in a hotel then the maximum allowance is, for example, £120 with a receipt, if they stay ‘with a friend’ etc., then this would be reduced to £50 per night, for which no receipt would be required. All other second-home allowances must cease, they are an unnecessary expense. In terms of travel expenses, MP’s should follow similar rules to most private companies, flights under 4 hours, they must travel economy class, using the cheapest possible airline. Another very generous allowance is vehicle mileage, instead of MP’s maximising the benefits of this perk, the reimbursement should be limited to what the cost of a standard fare train ticket would cost for the same journey. In other words, if it costs £100 for a return ticket from Nottingham to London and the mileage allowance for using a car pays £260, the MP can only claim £100.

Unless or until members of parliament start to live and operate to the same standards that everyone else does, the public will continue to view  them with mistrust and scepticism. That is not in the interest of our democracy, nor is it in the longer term interests of our MP’s. Gordon Brown needs to stop protecting his cabinet colleagues and instead, start to ensure that they operate to the same rules and standard as ordinary members of the public. Because, in my view at least, there is little difference between failed bankers of publicly owned banks paying themselves bonuses out of public coffers and MP’s who have failed to protect the interests of the electorate claiming massive expense allowances, especially.  In all of these cases, the final bill is paid for by hard-pressed taxpayers. Gordon Brown needs to understand, that at a time, for example, when he is going to fail to meet his reduction in child poverty targets, his MP’s are filling their own pockets with the same money. How does he expect the general public to view such duplicity?

Posted in Farcical Regulations, General, Labour | Comments (0)

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