Tag Archive | "prime minister"

Ministers must be careful they don’t bully the charity

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Ministers must be careful they don’t bully the charity


Government Ministers need to tread very carefully, because the public is watching, therefore any attempt to humiliate, marginalise or intimidate the charity ‘National Bullying Helpline’ or its CEO, Christine Pratt. We all know how vicious the Labour Party’s spin machine can be…and we will be watching very carefully.

Already Mandelson has suggested that there is a “political operation” to undermine the Prime Minister without substantiating his claim. Nonetheless, it has been implied that because the National Bullying Helpline has Anne Widdecombe and a Tory Councillor amongst its patrons, that there may be some political bias. Why? If the claims made by Christine Pratt are true, it makes little or no difference who is a patron of the charity. There are now suggestions that Pratt’s claims are not substantiated…please, how on earth can she do that without breaching confidentiality? Moreover, I suspect that the charity allows a person to seek advice and support without giving their names, which means it would be impossible to identify the complainants even if they wanted to.

No. 10 states that the charity never informed them of the claims against them. Is that any great surprise? It would appear that the charity is primarily a support group and do not have an interventionist role unless specifically asked to do so by their clients. This looks like a cheap attempt to undermine the charity or try and place some doubt on the veracity of the claims.

There are also suggestions that the charity has “breached client confidentiality”. That is total poppycock. No details of the specific claims have been made and they have not released the names of the complainants. Surely it is only a breach of confidentiality if the complainants can be easily identified, this does not appear to be the case? This just looks like another cynical and cheap attempt to divert attention from the real issue…a case of shooting the messenger!

Of course, the charity will now open itself to scrutiny, so I hope for their sake, that they are squeaky clean. Otherwise they will find themselves subjected to all sorts of questions and investigations, because they have shaken a hornets nest here. I don’t think it was wise for a small charity to speak out in this way, but there is an argument that they were prepared to stand and be counted, which at the very least, is a case of leading by example.

The bottom line is, that if Gordon Brown and No. 10 have nothing to hide, then the best thing they could do is stop attempting to defend themselves by attacking others and agree to an independent inquiry, where staff will be given the opportunity to make statements in complete confidentiality. Furthermore, they should agree to an immediate inquiry, so that the matter can be cleared up well before the General Election, because like it or not, the public will form their own opinion…and many will consider that there is ‘no smoke without fire’. This could be hugely damaging to the Labour Party’s desire to gain another term in office.

Posted in General, Labour, World | Comments (2)

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)

Gordon Brown, the G20 is over, time to go

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Gordon Brown, the G20 is over, time to go


Gordon Brown has received a great deal of praise from world leaders at the G20, one assumes, because he managed to get so many leaders together in one place to discuss the global economy. But talks of a breakthrough or global deal are a bit strong, lets face it, all we have been given is a set of guiding principles. Nothing is binding and, as we all know, when the dust settles, things are rarely as they at first appeared. For example, tax havens will be named and shamed, but that won’t stop them doing what they have been doing for years, threatened sanctions are unlikely to have any real impact, even if they are implemented, which is a very big IF!

Everyone has agreed that banking and financial market regulation has to be tightened, but this is meaningless, because no-one will agree that there can, or should be a world regulator. Therefore, all we will see is each country implementing their own regulation, presumably based on the guiding principles agreed by the leaders. But rest assured, someone will be a little more flexible, so that they can attract the ‘banking and financial services business’ to their shores, stealing it away from London. The primary reason that London was the banking and financial services centre of the world, was Gordon Brown’s own “light touch regulation“, now it is likely that we will toughen regulation so much, that we will lose most of this trade. Some will argue that this is okay given the circumstances, but, truth be told, banking will continue, just somewhere else and we will have to find something to take the place of the 20% of GDP that we will lose if London is no longer the banking and financial services centre of the world. Has anyone any idea what we have in our armoury to deal with this massive reduction in trade, tax receipts and jobs? Thought not? Talk about throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Sarkozy may be a little petulant, but he is not stupid, he wants more regulation, because he seeks a level playing field so that Paris can take over where London left off. Gordon Brown’s light touch regulation was a failed policy and we shall all pay the price, however, if we now over-regulate for political expediency, we shall lose future, better regulated business to other countries such as France and Germany. Surely it is possible to regulate without killing off this significant contributor to our massive balance of trade deficit? A failure to get the balance right will cost us all and that is another good reason why Gordon Brown has to go and go now.

It was Gordon Brown that coined the phrase light touch regulation and he even had the temerity to lecture other European leaders on the same subject. Now, this same man is telling everyone that there must be much tighter regulation of the banks and financial markets. Talk about turning on a sixpence! Under Gordon Brown’s light touch regulation, it was possible for the financial markets to introduce new financial products with such complexity, that few people understood them, or the associated risks. Everyone knew of these instruments, but no-one, not even the regulator, asked any (or enough) questions. This, together with an overheating housing market and increased personal indebtedness is what caused the crisis. Our ability to manage this crisis in the UK has been exacerbated by the fact that UK Plc is massively in debt, not necessarily based on the Government figures, but when taking account of all the off-balance sheet debts that ought to have been included such as PFI, pension liabilities etc

Of course, Gordon Brown cannot be held responsible for the world economic problems, but he can and must be held culpable for the problems that have become evident here in the UK on his watch. It was ultimately his job as Chancellor to ensure that the financial markets were kept in check, Government borrowing was accurately reported and kept under control and that the availability of credit be actively managed, both secured and unsecured. The fact that our economy and housing market was overheating was known to Brown, he received plenty of warnings, he chose to do nothing. He was in denial, but he could no longer pretend everything was okay when the world banking crisis forced government intervention here in the UK. Let’s not kid ourselves, whether or not the world banking crisis happened, this country would have gone into recession. It was Gordon Brown’s job as Chancellor to ensure that boom and bust was at an end, he failed and in a spectacular way.

History will prove that Gordon Brown was a poor Chancellor and that he missed or chose to ignore every sign that our economy was running into trouble. It is only the world crisis that has diverted attention from his full culpability. What we must not do however, is allow this inept former Chancellor to continue making financial decisions that will affect each and everyone of us. His past judgements have been seriously and catastrophically flawed and by his own admission, we are now in “uncharted territory“, therefore how can any of us have any confidence in this man? Gordon Brown has been universally praised for his decision to make the Bank of England independent. However, the tripartite system that was introduced as a direct consequence was not clearly thought out given it has spectacularly failed, with The Treasury, Bank of England and the FSA blaming each other for the mess we are in. Therefore, I would argue that the jury is still out on whether or not Gordon Brown’s stated objectives were achieved when he gave the Bank of England independence, whilst stripping them of other fundamental responsibilities. Take this ‘achievement’ away and what other positive legacies has Gordon Brown given us…none that I can see? But there are literally hundreds of failures, I won’t name them all because it would take too long, but a short list would include a decimation of the private sector pension schemes through the removal of tax breaks, whilst allowing public sector pensions to get out of control with an unfunded liability of around £900bn; The introduction of a overly complicated ‘Tax Credit’ scheme which still ‘loses’ £2bn every year through errors and fraud; A massive public sector debt, much of which has been hidden from sight through fancy footwork and an insistence that certain debts remain off-balance sheet; a huge increase in environmental and other stealth taxes which are then funneled into non-related pet projects rather than being used for the purpose stated at the outset; and, a massive increase in direct and indirect taxation.

The mainstream press are going on about an expected “bounce” in the popularity of Gordon Brown. That may be true, but then we deserve what we get, because this is a man who is primarily responsible for getting us into the mess we are in. No world leader, naive enough to praise Gordon Brown, should be permitted to sway public opinion from the harsh reality of Brown’s policy failures, rank incompetence and inability to heed warnings. Time to go Gordon Brown, maybe the public will then look upon your efforts at the G20 as an act of contrition and be more forgiving when we look at your legacy.

Posted in General, Labour, World | Comments (3)

How many Members of Parliament are fit for purpose?

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How many Members of Parliament are fit for purpose?


Much has been said about the dressing down Daniel Hannan have Gordon Brown. But, whilst it was an excellent speech and echoes what most of us are saying, there is a risk that we fail to take account of the paradigm shift that has taken place in British politics, hence the massive support for Hannan’s words. YouTube have registered well over 1 million views of the Daniel Hannan video.

I cannot recall ever having witnessed such a disconnect between politicians and the public. I am not just referring to Gordon Brown and his discredited government, but ALL members of parliament. Yes, Gordon Brown, first as Chancellor and then as Prime Minister, has shepherded us into the financial mess we are in by borrowing too much during the boom times and spending way too much on pet income redistribution projects, a cumbersome tax credit system and massive, as well as unnecessary, public sector capital projects. Were this not enough, he hammered private sector pension schemes, whilst failing to do anything about public sector pension schemes. Further, on his watch, we have witnessed an estimated £100bn of wasted taxpayers money through government incompetence and we have all had to accept a dramatic and unsustainable increase in the public sector payroll. Of course, he then goes on to deny any personal responsibility, so there can be little surprise that he is one of the most hated and despised men in this country.

However, this disconnect, at least in my personal view, goes much deeper than Gordon Brown. People no longer trust MP’s. Every few weeks we hear of another instance of MP’s using their expenses to supplement their income, because the rules allow them to do so, not because the expense is necessarily justified or warranted. Worst still, some of the worst offenders seem to be government ministers, those right at the top of the tree, meanwhile, the honourable members are reluctant to deal with this issue that is the cause of a great deal of public consternation and resentment. Opposition parties don’t make too much of a fuss, because it is a case of ‘there but for the grace of god…..’! Alistair Darling says that bankers must regain the trust of the public, but hold on just a minute, so do MP’s, but who is telling them? Clearly no-one is listening to public opinion.

Whilst I accept that the Labour Party has had a healthy majority for their 3 terms in office. How many times have we heard MP’s from the ‘other’ parties condemning this governments actions or challenging new, often draconian and repressive legislation? Not nearly often enough. Members of Parliament, particularly those in the opposition parties, have been reactive, not proactive. They have stood by whilst this government has all but destroyed everything we hold dear in terms of liberty, freedom and the fundamental right to privacy and be free from an overburdensome state. £16bn has been spent on databases this year and a further £105bn committed over the next 5 years. Everything our children do at school is monitored and recorded on ContactPoint a government database, then our children are profiled using ONSET, to determine whether or not they may be future offenders. All this information is held on their personal files. Our mobile phone calls, text messages, emails and internet browsing habits are monitored and recorded, our travel arrangements, who we travel with, when, how much we paid, where we went, with whom and so on is to be recorded and retained by the State. Our passports are to include biometrics, a way of getting around the discredited ID card system, our health records are to be recorded and retained on a database. Our every move is monitored by 4.2m cameras, in addition, many thousands of ANPR cameras record our number plates and can track us from one end of the country to another, new facial recognition software even allows them to name the driver. It is estimated that the Government has some 1100 databases holding some type of personal information on us. This cannot be justified, it is as if we are all in an open prison and fitted with an electronic tag, this is not a free democratic country, but an authoritarian, police state. Why were our MP’s not more vocal at the time, were they even aware that this legislation was being proposed, did they read or even debate the proposals. A cynic might suggest that MP’s actually like the idea of being able to monitor and control the electorate. 

Members of Parliament have, for the most part, lost the respect of the people and as I have said, this is not just Labour MP’s, although they would probably be in the upper tier. Our members of parliament are seen as out of touch with the people, they have quite clearly spent too much time at Westminster and not enough talking to real people. As a consequence, there appears to be a real and demonstrable disconnect between what MP’s say and how people feel. Labour MP’s rally around the party in fear of losing their seats, rather than acting as constituency MP’s and speaking for the people that have elected them. The number of times I have heard MP’s from all parties say “What people say….”, followed by the biggest load of crap I have ever listened to and, of course, I have never heard anyone say what they are claiming. Is it just me, or do other people feel the same I wonder?

By way of an example of how removed from reality MP’s are, lets take Ed Balls. He was long known as Gordon Brown’s right hand man at the Treasury, always on hand to defend Treasury policies and spout endless figures. Today he is the Minister for Children. But this week, he was quoted as saying that he would love to be the Chancellor and to lead the party someday. Is he for real? He was an integral part of the discredited financial regime that was micro-managed by Gordon Brown, does he truly believe that he will ever be allowed to get his hand on the UK Plc credit card? Out of touch, deluded, there are simply dozens of adjectives that could describe such a disconnect.

But lets ask ourselves honestly, before Daniel Hannan made his speech, how many of us could honestly say that we ‘connected’ or agreed with an MP, not many I suspect? Take David Cameron, his favourite expression is, “what we have been saying all along is….”, oh yes, when Mr Cameron, in the last few weeks maybe, but what have you been doing for the past 12 years? Nick Clegg, when was the last time he said anything interesting, in fact Vince Cable is, perhaps understandably, gaining much, much more airtime. I think part of the problem is we no longer have any, of what I would call, ‘conviction politicians’, instead they either follow the party line or respond to public opinion in a knee-jerk manner, rather than argue their case. The only time we hear an MP argue a case, is when they are having to defend their position, actions, expense claim or must offer up a pathetic excuse for their political party’s actions (or lack thereof). Our members of parliament do not and have not for some time, sounded like us, talked like us, acted like us or looked like us. We, the electorate, are simply seen as a means of getting them into parliament once every 5 years, once we have performed our task, we are thrown away in much the same way as a used condom would be discarded in the trash.

The bottom line is, that unless MP’s start to realise that there is a massive problem out here, then there will be civil unrest. They (the government and MP’s) may even appreciate that this is likely, given some 10,000 Tasers have been ordered and surveillance on the masses is being stepped up a gear. But rather than engage, it appears that most MP’s just want to control, berate, bully and force us to do as we are told. The police have been given unprecedented powers under the auspices of the “fight against terrorism” and the public must seek permission before they can demonstrate.

Looking at how badly our Government and members of parliament (of all parties) have let the people of this country down over the past decade, it is MP’s that are not fit for purpose, the Parliamentary system that is not fit for purpose and the state tool, the Police Service that is not fit for purpose. What we desperately need in this country is more independent MP’s who can and will keep any government in check. Yes I know that this may lead to a hung parliament, but then who cares? Because we can see what happens when a party gains a significant majority, they just become brazen, authoritarian and ego driven (I can, therefore I will). The only real argument for the current system, first past the post, is that is can provide a significant majority for one party, allowing them to offer a ‘reform agenda’, but look where that has got us with the New Labour reform agenda. Power went to their heads and we have seen our liberty, finances and futures destroyed in a few short years. Thank you Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, New Labour and you weak, good for nothing members of parliament that did not stand up and fight for the people of this country. The vast majority of MP’s are simply guilty of political and personal cowardice….not one of them should be allowed to stand again. Perhaps we should have a system whereby MP’s reach their sell by date after 5 years?

If the people of this country are to regain confidence in the political system, then candidates need to reflect society, the people they seek to represent, no longer should MP’s be selected almost entirely from political activists, union stewards/leaders, Oxford and Cambridge graduates and mates of existing MP’s or leaders. Nor should race, gender or religion play a part in the selection process, positive discrimination is as bad as discrimination. No longer should people, such as Mandelson, be elevated to the House of Lords, just so that they can become a ‘minister’, all ministers should be elected so that they are accountable to the people, the House of Lords is clearly answerable to no-one. Unless MP’s start to take the temperature of the public, listen and react, then I truly believe we will see massive unrest, civil disobedience and a further collapse in our democracy as the state attempts to resist the people by force.

It is, of course, quite possible to disagree with the outcomes I have suggested, but as I stated earlier in this post, when was the last time that an MP said something that you fully agreed with and appeared ‘in touch’ with the people. I suspect most of us will have to think very hard. If MP’s don’t do something about this massive distrust and disconnect, this country could become ungovernable, you only have to look back at history to understand that eventually, when the people fight back, the powers that be soon realise just how weak their positions are and their relative impotence. The masses can only be ruled by consent, not force and I believe we are all getting closer to removing that consent.

 

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 (8)

Harriet Harman and the missed opportunity

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Harriet Harman and the missed opportunity


How could Harriet Harman, rumoured to be vying for Gordon Brown’s job, miss the golden opportunity that presented itself at Prime Minister’s Question time? Now I am no fan of Ms Harman, in fact, that would be an understatement, but who could fail to squirm as she ‘performed’ in place of the prime minister.

It was clear from her replies, and I use that term loosely, that she was neither prepared nor capable of dealing with any questions, least of all those posed by William Hague, a serious bruiser on such occasions. It would probably be too kind to describe her performance as inept, but to all and sundry, it was an embarrassing experience. Miliband was unable to contain his amusement, whilst Straw, Darling and others looked incredibly uncomfortable. You could almost hear them in unison saying ‘when will this be over’. It makes you wonder whether there ought to be a deputy for the deputy PM. Lets face it, I have seen better, more polished performances from children at their annual nativity play…and yes, I mean it.

They do say that if you give someone enough rope, they will hang themselves and I suspect that those in the ‘Stop Harriet Campaign’, were more than happy to hand it to her. A first year student would know how important it is to prepare before you present or accept questions. Harman clearly failed to do this, worst still, this was in front of her fellow MP’s and the television cameras. If that is not clear evidence of a bad judgement call, I don’t know what is? Failing which, it could just be the arrogance of office, but one thing is for certain, she has demonstrated that she is unlikely ever to be a suitable candidate for Labour leadership. After all, we know that New Labour like polished performances, even if they lack must substance, in Harman’s case, it appears that she has neither.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour | Comments (5)

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)

Gordon Brown’s PMQ Depression comments

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Gordon Brown’s PMQ Depression comments


At prime minister’s question time, Gordon Brown told MPs: “We should agree as a world on a monetary and fiscal stimulus that will take the world out of r…, depression.” David Cameron did not immediately pick up on the use of this word, but when challenged later by George Osborne, the PM’s spokesperson said that it was a slip of the tongue.

Perhaps so, but it must have been on his mind, otherwise he would not have used such emotive terminology. Particularly given he had just finished lecturing Cameron on talking the economy down. It is however, precisely this sort of ‘slip’ that must give the people of this country cause for concern over Brown’s capacity and ability to see us through this downturn coming, as it does, hot on the heels of his ‘saving the world’ comment. When Gordon Brown makes errors like this, I cannot help but be reminded of Vince Cable’s comments referring to Brown as “Mr Bean”. Gordon Brown seems to go from one crisis to another in the spectre of a battering ram, rather than a well practiced, experienced politician. In my opinion, even his outbursts at PMQ’s are reminiscent of a spoilt child having a temper tantrum.

Little wonder then, that Gordon Brown has had problems, by his own admission, in getting Obama and the Indian Prime Minister to take his calls. Could this be because they are sick and tired of him lecturing them on economic fixes, when Gordon Brown and Labour Party policies have actually lead to the UK being in the worst position of any developed country to recover from this recession? From an outside observers perspective, I see Gordon Brown as a man of conviction, however, this appears to be offset by a man incapable of humilty, one that is unwilling to answer direct questions and a man who looks as if he will explode if anyone challenges him, so long as there are no members of the public or cameras present. Little wonder then that he appears to have surrounded himself with weak, self-obsessed people. Classic signs of a schoolyard bully.

In my view, Gordon Brown has few, if any redeeming features. I have never considered him to be a good chancellor, even when most of the newspapers, desperate for a scoop, kept pandering to him and what were the New Labour spin doctors. I also thought he would make an appalling prime minister, but in that respect, he has outdone himself, because I cannot find any adjective that could accurately describe his term…other than, perhaps, Mr Bean without the comedy. Time to go Gordon, do us all a favour!

In the meantime, David Cameron should prepare for office. By that I do not mean he must send all his friends details of his new address, I mean he needs to get some quality, experienced, heavyweight people behind him, ‘real’ people, not toffs or Oxbridge cast-off’s. Otherwise he will never shrug off the label ‘lightweight’ nor will he ever convince the people of this country that he knows what he is talking about. As I have said before, I believe that New Labour will lose the election, it will not be Cameron winning it, therefore, once in office Cameron must ensure that his key advisers and the people around him are ‘real’ people, because otherwise a man who has not experienced a recession, belt-tightening or poverty will find that whilst he may hold the office, he cannot claim to lead the people.

Which means that Cameron will just end up talking at us and continuing to use new phraseology that only he and his Conservative cronies fully understand.  Cameron has a real prospect of becoming PM, but I so hope he has the ability to understand that people will be voting New Labour out, his chance will come as a consequence of Labour’s failure, not his engaging personality, depth, sincerity or policies. It doesn’t really matter how he gets in, so long as Cameron listens, surrounds himself with people that will engage and challenge him, rather than blindly follow him. It is a strong leader, not a weak one, that is confident enough to surround himself with strong people and that is the BEST way to get rid of the lightweight tag.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour | Comments (6)

SuperBrown saves the World

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SuperBrown saves the World


A slip of the tongue for Gordon Brown at today’s Prime Ministers’ Question time, when he inadvertently said that “we not only saved the world”. Or was it? Yes, yes, I accept that he probably didn’t mean to say what he did, but I truly believe he thinks he is something of a financial guru and that is very dangerous. This is a man, who is in a position to further damage this country and yet so potentially deluded, that he believes he has all of the answers and somehow other world leaders are watching and then following his example. If they do, then the people of their countries have my sympathy.

The bottom line is whilst the president of the United States had to do to the Senate and Congress to get permission to fund a banking bailout, our prime minister was able to commit this country without refernce to parliament. The Prime Minister of the UK has immense powers and as we all know, power in the wrong hands can be disastrous, especially one that is deluded enough to believe he has all the answers. This is a prime minister that doesn’t listen, one that repeatedly fails to accept personal responsibility and one that is willing put this country further into debt so long as it doesn’t have to be repaid during his tenure in office.

What is truly worrying, is according to the latest polls, when it comes to the economy, Gordon Brown is streets ahead of David Cameron retaining an enormous amount of public confidence. Now granted, Cameron does not help himself by consistently painting an austerity picture, but really, how can anyone have any confidence in Gordon Brown? The mess that we are in happened on his watch, it was he that promised no return to boom and bust, yet we are entering one of the worst recessions of our lifetime. Moreover, everyone, other than Gordon Brown, accepts that we are in one of the worst possible positions to ride out the storm. Truth be told, when we do come out the other side, whether we like it or not, this country will be a shadow of its former self.

Our manufacturing business has been in decline for decades, our balance of trade has been propped by the financial services and banking sectors and as we have all witnessed, the latter has collapsed in spectacular fashion. It will never be what it was. Therefore, unless somone comes up with a brilliant new concept, we will not be able to rely on our decimated manufacturing sector, nor will we be able to look to the financial and banking sectors to plug the gap. Add to this, the governments commitment to an 80% reduction in carbon emissions together with the increasing tax burden on business and it is self-evident that businesses small, medium and large will struggle to prosper or perhaps even survive in this country. On top of all this, this country has a massive debt mountain that needs to be repaid through taxation, further burdened by a huge ongoing liability in terms of public sector final salary pension schemes, rising healthcare costs, education, PFI’s, government pensions and millions of people in receipt of tax credits, disability benefits, Job Seekers Allowances, unemployment benefit or other forms of income support.

In my view, far from saving the world, Gordon Brown has single handedly done more damage to this country than any previous minister in history. Still, he fails to grasp the extent of the problem or the active part he has played in this whole sorry state of affairs. For his legacy is only that our children shall have to pay for his mistakes, those of his government and yes, the excesses of many of the people of this country.

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

So what is a British Bill of Rights?

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So what is a British Bill of Rights?


I ask this question because I have to confess, my understanding of what a Bill of Rights should be, seems to differ from that of the current Labour administration and I suspect, those views held by the other political parties.

I understood that the new British Bill of Rights was going to be based loosely on the classic Bills of Rights, from Magna Carta in 1215 to the English Bill of Rights of 1689, or perhaps the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen of 1789 or the American Bill of Rights of 1791. Which was principally the protection of an individual’s liberty against the intrusive and interfering power of an overbearingstate. I figured that the government may seek to include some general  human rights issues. Such as those included in the “Four Freedoms” speech by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his State of the Union address to Congress in 1941. Freedom of speech and expression, freedom of every person to worship, freedom from want and, of course, freedom from fear.

Instead, as I understand it, the intention is to bring in something of a ‘nanny state’ Bill of Rights. That is to say, that an individual shall have the right to, for example, a job, food, clothing & recreation. The right to a home, as well as economic support through old age, sickness or accidents. To education and medical care. As a quid pro quo, the government intend, as I understand it, to include “citizens responsibilities”. I simply cannot see how any government can guarantee these particular social and economic “rights”. In my view, it can only ever be a statement of intent by the government, perhaps a modern day ‘mission statement’ if you will, but they cannot be legally enforceable rights? 

As it is proposed, the whole thing is farcical, but not funny. This is because vast sections of the proposed new British Bill of Rights are unnecessary, in light of the fact that ‘rights’, such as benefits payments and the minimum wage are already legally enforceable.

In my view, we need to go back to basics. The reason we need a new British Bill of Rights, is to protect us all from repressive, intrusive and unnecessary government sponsored legislation which seeks to treat every citizen as a potential suspect. The Big Brother Britain that has become our lot in life! The British public desperately and urgently need protection from the state itself. This is what I said a few months ago;

This Labour government and the European laws they have introduced into this country has slowly eroded our rights, diluted our ability to hold ministers to account and moved us towards a Police state. If ever there was a need to protect the public it is now. A Bill of Rights should be drawn up, it must then be put to the people of this country through a referendum and once accepted by the public, introduced immediately. Moreover, once introduced, it must take precedence over any other legislation intended to be brought into law, European or otherwise. Once these laws have been introduced, a Law Lord should be placed ‘in charge’ who’s duty should be to ensure that the Bill of Rights is upheld, that is to say, no new laws are introduced by successive governments or European ministers which would dilute the rights entrenched in our Bill of Rights, without a further referendum.

 News that Gordon Brown and Jack Straw have been told by cabinet colleagues that their proposal, as it stands, is unworkable, comes as no surprise to me. This government has completely missed the point and so have many members of parliament who support a statement as opposed to an enforceable bill of rights. The people of this country have had to endure an increasing level of state interference in their everyday lives, from 4.2m CCTV cameras, to chips in rubbish bins. With proposals that include a massive Big Brother Britain database which would store information on calls, text messages, locations, emails and internet browsing habits. Airport scanners which see though clothes, identity cards which include our most private and intimate details. Our children from the age of 5, will be monitored by the state to include their most private details such as details on their mental health, sexual health or any substance abuse treatment. The list is endless, as is the number of ‘agencies’ that will have access to this information, some 700 as last count!.

I don’t know whether Gordon Brown and Jack Straw are being deliberately obtuse, or whether power has gone to their heads, but what is clear, is that the biggest danger to the citizens of this country is him, his government and their policy of systematically repressing the people of this country, to the extent that Privacy International were moved to say of us “The worst ranking EU country is the United Kingdom, which again fell into the “black” category along with Russia and Singapore.” And that our “identity scheme is still planned to be the most invasive in the world, highly centralised and biometrics-driven“.

New Labour need to stop, listen to what WE want and then provide a British Bill of Rights that entrenches those values and freedoms. A Bill of Rights does not need to include mission statements, nor any statements of intent. Moreover, there is no need for it to attempt to provide unenforceable, wish-washy promises on economic or social issues, these are covered elsewhere. Instead, the British Bill of Rights needs to be a solid, unbreakable commitment by the government of the day to treat each if its citizens as individuals. It must reinforce the notion of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ and not seek to do anything that would remove an innocent individuals right to privacy, self-respect and liberty.

Clearly this is sensitive issues and a personal perspective, so I do not expect everyone to agree with me. Perhaps some will believe that it should include social and economic commitments, my fear however, is as soon as you make something so all encompassing, it becomes a fully-fledged legal document rather that a unambiguous, bulleted statement of rights. Legal documents are a lawyers dream and a litigants worst nightmare, because the fuller the statements, the more opportunity to interpret, wriggle and overturn. We need, clear unambiguous statements!

We must not allow this opportunity to pass or turn into a typical New Labour fudge, all spin and no substance.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, General, Labour | Comments (4)

RESIST! – Say no to government intrusion in the UK

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RESIST! – Say no to government intrusion in the UK


Since I was sufficiently outraged to write an article about the goverment’s latest move to increase its powers to spy on the its own citizens, there has been a healthy and, for the most part, positive response. It is clear that there are many people out there that share most, if not all of my sentiments and are able, and willing to add their voice, or blog, to the cause by reproducing the article with their own comments or thoughts. For all of those people that have done this, I would like to offer my thanks and I would also urge those who have not, that believe the state is gaining too much power, to do likewise and reprint my article, or a version of their own, based on the same theme. Please feel free to use as much of the content of my article as you wish.

Over at ShrewMammal.com, the author has introduced his own way of indicating his disgust at the was in which this government is steadily increasing its ability to spy on the public by stealth. He is urging people to include the tag ‘RESIST‘ in all like minded posts and has included a logo which I have included on the front of my own blog. Several people have also suggested that I join NO2ID and the Open Rights Group. I think this was good advice and I will act on these suggestions. However, there is a caveat to all this, because I remain convinced that we all need to act as individuals as well as groups.

There is a real risk that if we leave the arguments to dedicated and well-meaning groups, that we do, by default, pass our individual responsibility for doing something tangible to others. I know it is possible to participate in these groups and have your personal views considered and taken into account. That said, surely it is better to join and support these groups as well as making a noise on our own? Part of the reason that government’s are able to introduce such draconian laws is because we are represented as groups and not individuals. It is much easier for government to target and rubbish groups, than it is the entire electorate, they do it all of the time. At least that is my view.

I shall live by my own argument, I will support groups that have similar values to my own, whilst continuing to disseminate my own views and I will try garner as much support for these arguments as I can with other like minded people. That way we get the best of both worlds!

With the level of information that is gathered on every single individual in this country and the government’s powers to access it, there is little or nothing that we can do or say which cannot be accessed by government through the introduction of new legislation. In fact, it is not just government’s that has access, to this information, but tools of government, the police, security services, local authorities, customs and excise, even commercial organisations, such as insurance companies, parking companies and so on. Many of the laws that have been introduced have been brought about by the risk of terrorism and the need to combat it. But lets be honest, there is no rhyme or reason why everyone of us, all 65m, should become ‘suspects’ for the sake of tracking a few thousand individuals with questionable or even life-threatening motives. I can only speak from a personal perspective, but I would sooner face the minute risk of becoming a victim, rather than see so much state control and interference in my everyday life.

I am also, personally, sick and tired of the vocal, perhaps even well-meaning individuals, that insist that anyone who objects to this level of surveillance and government intrusion must have something to hide. This is utter bullshit. I have nothing to hide, in fact, I am quite willing to publicise my views on this blog, come what may. Government’s throughout the years have relied on a sheep mentality, they indoctrinate through the media, everyone’s thoughts in terms of the risks of terrorist attack, in order to justify their latest attack on our civil liberties and entrenched right to privacy. The sheep take it hook line and sinker. The sheep show no sign of being able to think as individuals, they think if something is published in the press, then it must be true, if something is said by a politician, then it must be accurate, that if someone is wearing a suit…available for under a £100 at Matalan, then they must know better. What a sad, sad state of affairs.

I believe that everyone is entitled to their own point of view, but this must be based on considering both sides of the case. I have considered carefully the views held by the sheep, but I remain to be convinced that 65m people should be spied on for the sake of catching a handful of people that may wish us harm. Throughout the ages, the masses have always been under threat, from war, terrorism, facism and so on. This Government has made no attempt to tell us precisely why they need so much information, instead, they just tell us that is is “necessary to combat terrorism and serious crime”. So next time I buy a car, if they salesman says it is a great car and he is wearing a suit, I should just buy it?

This is by no means exhaustive, but it is worth looking at how many databases are out there that contain information on our everyday habits and lives, not just government controlled, many are commercial, but of course, government bodies can have access to anything that is contained on a database, often without any court order, simply with the authorisation of a senior member of management. Some of these databases are essential, others and I mean the majority, highly controversial, particularly given the level detail held and the easy access by anyone with a suit!

Transport:

·     The DVLA hold a massive database on the cars that we own, or have owned in the past. Whether they have insurance, an MOT and the details of the registered owner. This information is even on sale to commercial companies.

·     ANPR and CCTV cameras monitor our every move, there are some 4.2m CCTV cameras in the UK, many on the road networks, so our journeys can literally be tracked from camera to camera. ANPR can be used to track individual cars using number plate recognition

·     Oyster cards, both in their current format and that proposed, can track our movements on any form of public transport.

·     Many vehicles now has SatNav fitted or trackers, this is a further instrument allowing the authorities to track movements with reverse engineering.

Health

·     More and more of our records are now held on a database and once the current multi-billion pound project is completed, we can expect everything, our full health history to be held on a database. Authorities, or maybe even commercial organisations, can access this information at will. They could find out when we have had colds, if we have suffered from any communicable diseases, if we have terminal ilnnesses, how many children we have, if we have ever suffered from depression, you name it, they know it. Often our most intimate details, that have been entrusted to someone that has signed the Hippocratic oath.

Shopping

·     The advent of loyalty cards allows commercial companies, such as supermarkets and other consumer goods stores to track what we buy, how often, what we pay and so on. In fact, from this information alone, you can get a very accurate picture of an individuals life. If it is on a database, the authorities can access it.

Travelling

·     Government’s now insist of exchanging information on passengers incuded on their manifest, air, sea etc. So now they know where we travel, what for, what method of transport we prefer, how much we paid, how long we stayed etc.

·     Passports will soon include more and more information, including, if the government gets its way, an iris scan, maybe even our DNA. There has also been a suggestion that passports include a microchip, which can be used to track movements (RFID).

Communications

·     Governments and its agencies have long had the right to tap telephones, albeit this had to be authorised at a very senior level within government or the judiciary. Not any more, already, government agencies routinely monitor telephone calls, internet traffic, email, mobile phone calls and text messages. Now they wish to include this on a massive database, information that will have to be held for 2 years. Before, there was the option for a ‘service provider’ to request an independent review, to determine whether the information being requested was legitimate, lawful and reasonable. Now the government even wants to remove that right. Why, if they have nothing to hide? Government is now also insisting that passports are used when a prepaid phone is purchased.

·     Mobile phones can also be tracked via cell site analysis, so our every move can be tracked for the past 2 years, it is not entirely accurate, but it can provide a pretty good picture. With more and more phones now having GPS installed as standard, this information will be accurate to a few feet.

 ID Cards

·     I won’t go into the level of information that is being proposed to be held on ID cards, because it has been covered in many articles on the internet. Suffice to say, the chip on the ID cards will be a sort of chip, with access to so much information it is truly frightening, especially when you consider that whatever form of encryption they use, someone smarter than they, will be able to break the code.

DNA Database

·     Many people support a DNA database and I have to say, I have some sympathy for these views, this technology has been used to solve some very old crimes. However, we are so wrapped up in how DNA is as accurate as it is possible to be, we are prone to forget that it could be misused by anyone wanting to ‘frame’ someone, because a jury, may be so convinced of its accuracy, that they may not consider the possibility that the evidence could have been planted. Yes, call be paranoid, but how many times have we seen miscarriages of justice, because a ‘well meaning’ police officer “knew” that the person was guilty? A government intent on dealing with detractors could quite easily frame an individual with DNA evidence and with so many prone to lie to us, I would not trust them. Is this a database too far?

·     Where anything that is supposed to offer irrefutable proof of guilt (or I accept innocence), there needs to be very powerful oversight, given most people are inclined to believe DNA evidence.

·     Another issue with DNA, is the fact that the taking of this is now routine for any arrest, no matter how minor. We have the largest DNA database in the world. It is no longer used just to track offenders, but as a way to tell us about our futures, our genetic disposition to certain ailments, diseases, life spans etc. The more information they have on the DNA database, the more they can compare, which means that very soon, government will be able to forecast our futures, certainly from a health perspective.

The list goes on and this post could end up exceeding 10,000 words if I were to add each one and provide a details explanation. We are all able to complete our research online into any or all of these tools of government, therefore I will not seek to do it on this post. My intention is only to highlight just how much of our personal lives and how many of our civil liberties are already at risk, let alone what we will lose with the additional powers the government is seeking. Any government that wanted to know how its citizens were intending to vote, could access any number of these tools and get a pretty good idea, how democratic is that?

 

 You can call me paranoid, but I cannot be accused of nothing to hide, because quite clearly, by life is already an open book for any government officer with the authority to delve into my affairs. They will be wasting their time and our money. But as my life is an open book, so is yours. Everyone, everywhere must have something that they would not want other to know, not because it is illegal, but because it is in the past, embarassing, or could be easily misunderstood. It is our very right to close the door when we go to the toilet or do our most intimate things, we should not have to be concerned about Big Brother, the state watching our every move. The ballot box will not remove existing laws, the ballot box cannot stop this government from introducing unreasonable acts against the will of the majority, but we can, if we are motivated to do so, push our case, publicise our views. So why not write your own version of my article, draft your own letter and make your point on the blogosphere. Let us all see how democratic this country really is, because I suspect, we have been so indoctrinated to take government ministers at face value, that we will, soon find that our opinions don’t matter any longer.

RESIST!

“I prefer liberty with danger than peace with slavery”

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Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, General | Comments (15)

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