Not to mention environment agency cut backs and coastal defences, I know they inherited a financial disaster, and I don't imagine for a minute that Milliband would have done better, but false economies boys, false economies.
Difficult decisions - The United nations has to make difficult decisions. It decided to negotiate the release of women and children form the besieged Syrian city of Homs. Overall there will be a net saving of life so it was a good decision. However if you happen to be male and over fifteen years of age your choices were to walk out with the women and children, to inevitably be tortured by the Assad regime, or wait for the all out merciless attack by government forces which will certainly follow and to hope for a quick death. Difficult decision.
Channel Four Expose - Last night's Channel four exposé of the behaviour of RBS (Royal bank Of Scotland) was beyond belief - but I believe it, just appalling.
The world is distracted by the Putin Olympics and events in Syria - So naturally Israel is besieging Gaza.
Female Genital Mutilation. It's a crime, it's child abuse it's illegal in this country. However, there are estimated to be 170,000 victims and as yet there have been ZERO prosecutions. Norman Baker Lib Dem Minister for Crime prevention and a senior figure from the Crown Prosecution Service gave an appalling defence of the government and the CPS on Channel 4 news tonight. When a stabbing or shooting victim presents at hospital the police are called immediately. When a child attends hospital who is a victim of FGM in 95 cases out of 100 the police are NOT informed. It's a crime, it's child abuse, all crimes need to be reported, victims need to be removed from their barbaric parents and the parents and those they employ to do their disgusting work must be jailed, otherwise it will continue. All children need protection from child abuse wherever it occurs, ethnic minorities are not above the law.
Human rights abuses, state immunity and political hypocrisy. Four Britons who worked in Saudi Arabia claim they were wrongly arrested and tortured. In at least one case others have now been found guilty of the crimes concerned. A Home Office pathologist has confirmed injuries consistent with torture. Yet the courts, including the European Court Of Human Rights have decided that Saudi officials are entitled to state immunity. Not diplomatic immunity as per the long tradition (which itself should be questioned), but State Immunity. Hmm. Weren't human rights abuses cited as one of the justifications for regime change in Iraq? Do we in the west believe in human rights or do states and countries we are friendly with have carte blanche to commit human rights abuses so long as they sell us things we need - like oil. Hypocrisy it seems is the rule not just in politics but in the European 'Justice' system as well.
Where will the nanny state end? Authorities in Essex had a baby surgically removed from a pregnant mother without her consent, they took the baby into their care and now plan to have the baby adopted. The mother has bipolar disorder, ie she suffers from depression and mood swings, something that is largely controllable in 2013, this is not in her best interests, as they claim , nor is it in the child's best interests, not to mention the wider family. Forget government platitudes about family values, it's an outrage that such a thing can happen. Helping people is great, deciding what's right for them is arrogant, oppressive and immoral. There's currently a court case, the mother is fighting for her rights and I for one applaud her. Heaven forbid she fails, should the worst happen we must campaign for her and then get the law changed so that self important jumped up local authorities cannot ever do this kind of thing again. It's barbaric, it's wrong and it's dressed up as caring, it's one of the most disgusting things I've read about for years and I'm appalled that this can happen in my country and to a foreign national on a visit too.
Nelson Mandela One man who fought for justice, peace and reconciliation. After defeating apartheid he went on to fight disease and poverty too. Let all of us take up his example and fight for what is right throughout the whole world.
Former US Ambassador to Nato says the French and Germans shouldn't be bothered by the US spying on their citizens and leaders by hacking their phone calls because everyone does it and America has such good values - democracy and security for example. Perhaps he should tell Al Gore that elections are never rigged and the parents who have lost children to drone strikes that such weapons are surgical, perhaps they should tell Iraqis plagued by bombings that things are better now. Don't get me wrong I love America and my many American friends; they are an educated and (aside from their love affair with guns) a civilised and caring society, they have also done many good things in the world from the liberation of Europe to great scientific advancements, but that doesn't mean they should have a blank cheque (check US) to do whatever they want in the world.
Another politician legislating to make a name for himself. I won't publicise his name dear reader but a politician wants to legislate that in an accident between a car and a push bike the car driver is guilty until proven innocent. Now I think cyclists are great; no pollution, keep fit, take up less space and all that, but, and I know this is hard to believe, some of them ride without lights at night, oh yes they do, and some of them jump red lights and being human, occasionally, like car drivers, they get distracted or just plum make a mistake. Of course push bikes don't have brake lights, which I think would be a good idea so you can see when they suddenly want to stop. The real problem though is the attack on innocent until proven guilty. We need less legislation and more common sense, but they all want to have their name on some piece of legislation to crow about.
Crime down! Crime down 7% in England and Wales. It's propaganda, DON'T BELIEVE IT, since my burglary two of my friends have been burgled, my crime was number 4031 reported that morning alone, just in London. Crimes don't get investigated, I suspect many don't get reported due to the chronic lack of help you can expect from the police and the stats are rigged.
Sexism in politics and the media. We have our problems here, but the way her fellow politicians and the media behaved towards to Julia Gillard, now the former prime minister of Australia is mind bogglingly insulting and neanderthal.
Hastings Borough Council.
I have a tiny, sixth floor, studio apartment, in other words it doesn't even have one dedicated bedroom. I mention that although this won't be about the so called bedroom tax. No, this is about Hastings Borough Council Tax.
You might be outraged to learn that such a tiny living space, six floors up in the provinces which only rents for circa £250 per month is expected to provide Hastings Borough Council with about a hundred pounds a month in Council Tax!
And politicians bemoan the lack of affordable rented accommodation!
Since the 1970s, when there were some pretty appalling landlords it must be said, the pendulum has swung so far in favour of tenants it's untrue. I maintain my property, obey every regulation and my tax return, which is honest by the way, will reveal I made the grand total of £900 from my flat in the last tax year, wealthy capitalist bastard that I am!
My last tenant left with arrears (that's this tax year) and took the keys. He told his employer, my agent and others what he'd done, but I couldn't access my own property because he had a contract, even though he'd driven a coach and horses through it. Oh no, the law doesn't allow that, I have to post a notice of abandonment and wait. Which I did, because I'm a law abiding landlord.
Now, it used to be that when a tenant moved out you had up to six months where no council tax was due so you could do any necessary repairs and tidying up and find a new tenant. That dispensation has been reduced to one month as politicians scramble to find ever more ways to squeeze ordinary people trying to make a buck.
Here is the regulation as posted on line by Hastings Borough Council.
Properties which are unoccupied and unfurnished and which do not fall into an Exempt Property Class are charged no council tax for the first month then full council tax until the property has been empty for two years, then 150 per cent council tax thereafter.
That's ALL it says. Now, my property was empty and unfurnished for one month and five days, before a new tenant moved in. Ergo I owe them five days worth of council tax. Except Hastings Borough Council are demanding one month and five days worth without a by your leave, a how's your father or an EXPLANATION!
The rule as posted on their website doesn't say you can have one month off per year, per decade or per lifetime, it strongly suggests that whenever the property becomes empty you have a month to sort it out, but it seems Hastings Borough Council has taken it upon itself to demand the lot with no dispensation whatsoever and no explanation either. That's the kind of people we have running the country at both local and national level. I'll let you know if they ever respond to our enquiries with any kind of explanation of what the law actually is.
Politicans' want surgeon's survival figures made public. A friend of mine worked in a hospital for many years and pointed out that one cardiac surgeon had a worse record than the others. THE REASON was that he operated on patients other surgeons had written off. He gave them a small chance where otherwise they had none. Stats alone mean nothing and politicans' need to stop meddling and let specialists get on with their jobs.
Had my hair cut yesterday. The man who cut my hair was from Algeria and a very nice chap. He told me how he spoke fluent French and how the French had plundered Algeria's natural resources for donkey's years but that he couldn't live there because of the racism. It has to stop, before anyone gets on the current bandwagon of violence just think that maybe our reputation for understanding and open mindedness here in Britain is worth fighting for.
I hope they're joking. Suggestions that Gordon Brown should run a bank and that George Galloway should be mayor of London have come to my ears. My goodness aren't things bad enough!
No sooner had I blogged abut the need for closer friendship with Turkey than violence erupts. A peaceful sit in, a legitimate, democratic protest is violently broken up by police. The protest was about the proposed loss of a popular park, one of Istanbul's last remaining green spaces to a shopping centre developer. Were backhanders paid to politicans and/or police? I have no idea, or way of knowing, but it's smelly and there's no doubting the will to suppress the people's will and over something so small in terms of overall government, yet clearly so important to so many ordinary people. Governments which won't listen are a cancer and the protests are now more widespread and more anti-government in nature, a huge own goal. So this negates what I said about closer ties with Turkey? No quite the reverse, one can only influence by getting closer, by being a good friend, we must not stand by and let Turkey lose her way, she's trying to get better and we in Europe can help. This is not Afghanistan, Iran or Syria, it's not a military matter either, it's diplomacy, we need to do the right thing, right now. Turkey matters.
Downs syndrome. Two identical twins, born a minute apart, with identical health problems. Civil servants decide one qualifies for support but not the other. Is the stupidity of our politicians filtering down into the civil service too?
Afghan translators who shared our risks. I didn't approve of our getting involved in Afghanistan despite there was a stronger moral case than for Iraq. Afghanistan is unwinnable and will fall apart as soon as we've all left, we even learnt that lesson from our own history, let alone the Russian adventure into that land. I wholeheartedly approve of our friendship with the USA, that doesn't mean we should blindly follow. However, giving Visas to those who shared the risks of our soldiers in striving gallantly to end injustice there is something which for once I applaud.
MP's salaries are once again in the news. We should pay them what they're worth and they should deliver value. We're told you get what you pay for, but, in a world where politicians espouse words like 'reform' and 'performance related pay' rather a lot they should look to their laurels, stop diddling us, stop appearing on 'celebrity tv' instead of working, stop brawling at airports, stop travelling first class on a second class ticket, stop lying about speeding, protect the justice system (I refer to Litvinenko) and put right many other wrongs. Then they can listen to their employers and serve us. That's for starters!
I'm proud of our heritage, but I have mixed feelings. Britain (that includes Scotland referendum voters) stood alone and shoulder to shoulder against Nazism when everyone else was either beaten or had written us off. I don't want the world wars forgotten, I want them to be a lesson to those who come after us. I enjoyed the Dambuster events and I'm proud of incredible achievements like that raid and others. In common with many of my generation I had grandparents who went through both world wars, parents who went through one and offspring for whom it's ancient history. We're friends with Germany now and I personally have several very dear German friends. We must avoid becoming like the Orange order perpetuating hatred in Northern Ireland whilst we respect the sacrifice of the fallen, communicate the lessons and nurture our friendships abroad. 2014 sees the centenary of the first world war, a wrong and unnecessary war which led to the second. That's not to diminish the sacrifice, suffering or patriotism of the combatants; when we mark the landmark events of the Great War to end wars, over the next four years, lets make those events dignified and respectful and avoid any sense of gloating, then lets leave all but the lessons learned where they belong.
You may not have noticed, but.... Bulgaria has a new government. Like ours it's a coalition, unlike ours, the party with the greatest share of the vote is NOT involved in government whilst a small party with a considerable Turkish contingent is. Let that be a lesson for the UK and why is our media so insular?
London congestion charge. I never was a fan of the congestion charge, it's another tax that has actual benefits for the rich (they can take their cars into town and have more space and quicker journeys) whilst hurting those who struggle to run a car or to pay for public transport, (now even more crowded) ie lower paid and often essential workers. Now Boris is milking it by lowering the bar at which low emissions vehicles qualify for an exemption. So people who bought, say a Fiat Twin Air and planned to run it for ten years will be buggered in three.
Insurance scam. If you paid an insurance premium for forty two years and they cancelled your policy because you moved it would be an outrage and probably illegal; because it's the government they can do what the hell they like. A nurse pays National Insurance for forty two years (and tax), she chooses to spend her retirement abroad - she can no longer come home for hospital treatment. Someone comes into the UK from abroad, to live, but for how long is anyone's guess, they've paid zero national insurance, they have access to hospitals and if they're on a low income they may even get free prescriptions. This is the UK government's idea of justice and of helping those who contribute. And they wonder why we're skeptical about our politicans.
Greenpeace and Trident. Greenpeace - an organisation I have deep respect for reckon Trident will cost £130 billion. They've thrown in the cost of the two new aircraft carriers and aircraft that are planned, so already they've sadly succumbed to using misleading propaganda. It is explained in the detail, that they really men £97 billion for Trident and the rest is for Aircraft carriers, aircraft and conventional military support but the headline is self servingly misleading - shame on you. However I personally think Greenpeace may have significantly UNDERESTIMATED. The government of course talks about running costs for Trident as a separate issue ignoring procurement. The figures Labour gave when deciding to go ahead were in the region of £15-20 billion for procurement but that's at at 2006/7 prices. Running costs are we're told by government are in the region of two to two point four billion per annum. Given rising prices, government minimizing the figures they release and out of date costings I'd take a common sense educated guess at up to £30billion set up and maybe an average of £5billion per annum running costs if it lasts for the next thirty years. So actually over the lifetime of the project I believe it could really come to as much as £180 billion, which is rather more than the Greenpeace estimate of £97 billion excluding the aircraft carriers which I personally think we need. How much of that money will be spent supporting jobs in the USA I cannot determine but £10 billion for jets anyway and the true bill for new missiles is actually unknown. What is certain is that the nation which invented the Harrier jump jet and indeed was first to patent the jet engine itself will be buying the fighter planes for the new carriers - when they come in many years time - from the Americans.
Just so you know the current UK deficit is about £120 billion per annum and there are cheaper alternatives to Trident, smaller nuclear warheads on cruise missiles is one, making existing missiles and warheads safe for continued service would also keep us in the nuclear club if it's so important. There are other options too and army chiefs and other military people have raised their voices against the cost of Trident, not just pacifists like me. Nor do I have a moral problem with genuine self defence. Bill Clinton's strategist is credited with saying 'It's the economy - stupid' and he was right; look at the plight of ordinary people in N Korea, that regime wants nuclear weapons at any cost to the people and we're worried they could deliver them too. If N Korea could actually deliver nuclear weapons at any significant range, then our systems are way more sophisticated than necessary because N Korea sure as hell doesn't have anything like Trident. Sort the economy first and we can have whatever we want, if we want it. Ever wondered how people in places like Scandinavia sleep at night without a nuclear arsenal, puzzling isn't it!
A commons revolt was narrowly avoided last night. That MPs even though about voting to delay natural justice simply to humiliate the PM is the real shame of it. These people lead us.
When energy bills are bigger than the mortgage. An energy supplier is warning that household energy bills will outstrip mortgage payments if green energy is adopted. I have to assume they're looking at averages but we all know there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Actually rising energy bills have a lot to do with rising global prices for gas. Lets see savings on Trident and the benefits bill and provide real financial incentives to see solar panels and wind generators on houses with householders able to sell surplus energy back to the grid at the right price. To boot lets manufacture the products here. That means jobs in manufacturing, jobs for installers and a reduction in the cost of living and a reduction in greenhouse gasses I make that win,win,win,win.Unless you're a big energy company.
Mervyn King may well be right. The US government responded to the miss selling of mortgages with mortgage guarantees. Now it's hurting and finding it hard to back pedal. Our help to buy scheme is potentially the first step on that same slippery slope and won't help property prices find a natural level. The average house price in London is now £542 thousand, good luck to average people who want to live in our nation's capital then!
The Government spends. £90 billion per annum on housing benefit and invests just £4.5 billion in housing. These people lead us.
The benefits bill FOR LONDON ALONE is bigger than the entire national defence bill. No I don't think we should increase defence spending. I do think looking at where benefits go is very necessary. I still suspect there's a lot of abuse of the system and too much complication and bureaucracy.
Ark Royal. Yesterday our former flagship left Portsmouth for a scrapyard in Turkey. We can't even scrap them anymore! What's far more worrying though is that we now have no dedicated aircraft carriers whatever. We pour billions into American nukes which we hope never to use and frankly their deterrent value is debatable now the cold war impasse is history and the real enemy would be quite happy to see the world end, yet we don't have mobile air cover any more for conflicts that could arise and where our defence really depends on it.
France in recession. Sadly France is officially in recession today with GDP forecast to shrink 1.5% further . President Hollandes policies are closer to those of Milliband than Cameron, just saying.
The Queens Speech. It's 8-35pm on Monday and the debate on the Queen's Speech still drags on in Parliament. James Duddridge MP is waffling on, and I do mean waffling on about lunch with his parents, in between jumping haphazardly from topic to topic. The standard of rhetoric is appalling. Still, at least he's there, wide shots suggest there's about twelve MPs present. What is the point? Either attend debates or leave them until there's a suitable number of people to debate. I've said it before and doubtless I'll say it again - "these people govern us!"
Just saw a TV commercial for the new workplace pensions system. They did say "starting with bigger businesses" but I'll have a bet with you they cause huge problems for small businesses and employment in the future AND since Gordon Brown raided or personal pensions, pensions which a previous government incentiveised us all to invest in, then don't bank on seeing a just return.
More idiocy from politicians who don't work in our world! Check this link to protect your own work! https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/49422?utm_source=Members&utm_campaign=e9df2f5825-Petition5_12_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_2e271f287d-e9df2f5825-346119805
How are we supposed to respect a government that continually passes the buck to us - it's citizens!
Under proposals announced in the Queen's Speech the Government is expecting private sector landlords to check that all their tenants are legally allowed in the country with likely fines for landlords found to be housing those not allowed to remain in the United Kingdom.
Commenting on the Queen's Speech, Richard Jones, the RLA's Policy Director, said: "Whilst the RLA fully supports measures to ensure everyone in the UK is legally allowed to be here, today's announcement smacks of political posturing rather than a seriously thought through policy. The proposal will not work in practice. Employers have been required to make similar checks but it has made no real difference to the numbers of illegal immigrants in the Country.
"For a Government committed to reducing the burden of regulation it is ironic that they are now seeking to impose a significant regulatory burden on landlords making them scapegoats for the UK Border Agency's failings."
Two violent thugs. Teenage thugs who killed, who had committed violent crime before and who committed more violent crime after the killing and before capture, get - life, twenty years, NO six; they'll be teenagers still when they get out after the three years they'll actually serve and they'll be even more dangerous than they are now. We can afford nuclear weapons, but not prisons, I sometimes wonder how people in countries like Norway sleep at night without nuclear weapons. Maybe it's because their streets are safe.
Nadine Dorries. She who'd rather be a jungle celebrity than serve the constituents who voted her an MP has returned to the Tory fold after losing the whip as a consequence of her childish antics. I guess Cameron thinks he needs every vote he can get. However, her performance on the news this evening was lamentable. She hinted she may have gone to UKIP if the whip hadn't been returned to her. Unless she grows up quickly she'll remain a liability to whichever party homes her.
Afghan Interpreters. Mr Cameron defends his policy of NOT allowing Afghan interpreters who have served alongside our forces in Afghanistan to settle here thus: He says they should stay and help rebuild their country. Which, on the face of it sounds right, a country can ill afford to lose its intelligentsia, ask Poles who lived through World War Two. It's disingenuous though. Occasionally dead men continue to achieve great good, Dr Martin Luther King for example, however, as a rule dead men achieve little. I hope Afghanistan achieves a free future with security and freedom of choice, freedom of religion, but it's not there yet. Only days ago more British Servicemen lost their lives in the most heavily armoured troop carrier we possess. This means the Taliban has the capability of planting enormous bombs, with all the extra risk and planning which that requires compared with smaller devices. I hate to suggest that over four hundred of our dedicated service personnel have sacrificed their lives in a lost cause, but it's a genuine fear and it wouldn't be the first time. I'm not a fan of mass immigration I don't want British culture to disappear, but we're talking here of five hundred or so people who have shared risks and deprivation with our forces. By definition these people, unlike many immigrants, speak good English. Let them in for goodness sake, together with their wives and children, possibly siblings. The real reason not to is the need to admit we're not leaving Afghanistan safe and secure and politicians hate to admit failure. We should face up to the facts, help those who help us and learn not to make the same kind of mistakes in the future, we should honour our dead and decline to sacrifice more of the living.
Lady Thatcher's funeral. So glad that Mrs Thatcher's opponents behaved with decorum at the funeral. Perhaps we are a civilised country still. My heart goes out to the people of Boston, in another civilised country, there's evil everywhere all we can do is combat it.
Horse meat. A government minister tells us a criminal act could have been committed by criminals! And these people govern us.
Stafford hospital. The Labour leader apologises for hundreds of unnecessary deaths under a Labour government. The apology is a good thing. How about an apology for spending the surplus, the existing taxes, the stealth taxes, the gold and all the money they borrowed and leaving a note in the treasury crowing about the fact there's no money left? They bankrupted the country, how about an apology for that and how do they think the next lot are going to repair the NHS etc when the country is bankrupt.
Boundaries. Labour fixed the electoral boundaries in their favour, the result - a coalition with a party that lost seats and now has far more influence than the people wanted to give it. Cameron would have been wise to give Cleggy even more if he wants to change that situation and he needs to correct it for the sake of democracy in this country, little else is more important than that democracy works as it should. Perhaps only peace.
A really sensible initiative - from government! They're telling top footsie companies to sign up to pay promptly or be named and shamed. Small businesses will prosper if the big boys pay up when they should, fewer failures and better for all of us. I'd like to thank the clients I had when I ran an advertising agency who were very honourable, particularly Yamaha, Michael Brandon and the Travel and Tourism Dept of the State of New Hampshire USA, good and decent clients every one, would that all businesses were like that, maybe now they will be, we live in hope.
Possibly a less sensible government initiative. They're talking about privatising part of the probation service. I get nervous at the thought of any part of the justice system being privatised, businesses exist to make profits, it has to be open to abuse and might be the thin edge of a very dangerous wedge. Justice has to be done and be seen to be done.
So called loyalists rioting in Northern Ireland. For years English, Welsh and Scottish tax payers paid to repair the damage caused by the IRA. Now the so called loyalists are rioting, throwing petrol bombs and injuring policemen. We who they're supposedly loyal to will pick up the tab. What do they want, a return to the troubles? Either they should behave responsibly or we the Union they pretend loyalty to should cut them adrift.
Super Peak Fares There's a plan to introduce super fares at peak times on trains. Transport in the UK must already be the most expensive in the world and commuters suffer more than most. Moving people and goods is essential to business, commerce and, well, life really. Sort it out; if getting around by whatever means becomes even more expensive the country will grind to a halt.