Friday, 24 February 2017

The very Ancient and Outmoded Labour Party.

It's a pity UKIP didn't win the Stoke by-election, with a defeat 2-0 the Labour party might have taken the hint and sacked their leader, Leicester FC-style.

Instead, with a score draw, the Tories can claim a historic result and Labour can carry on deluding themselves that things are fine and dandy, although the claim that Corbyn hasn't lost a by-election will have to be quietyly shelved. Not that it was much of a claim, the incumbent party almost never wins seats when in power.

The fact that the Labour party is really only relevant to students who have never lived a life, champagne socialists in London and militant socialists in Liverpool who have never grown up really, really upsets me. More than it should I know, but I still understand what the Labour party stood for way back when.

It stood up for the working man, it persuaded and didn't need thuggery to press it's point, because it was RELEVANT to the working man.

The working man could see the point of paying a small payment into a scheme so that we could have free health cover.

The working man could see that paying a small sub to a Union to protect him from overbearing employers.

But where is the relevance of the Labour party these days? Union leaders are seen hob-nobbing in posh restaurants with fat-cats, their leader really wants to do away with the Monarchy and wants a republic, he wants to do away with nuclear weapons, the very things that have kept the Russians from swallowing up the greater part of Europe. His policies are those of the trendy ultra-left, the sort of people who are miles away from the labourers, miners, steel workers, engineers and other blue-collar workers that made it.

They bicker and whinge about nit-picky irrelevances, like rights for every minority group going, including those that would deny them those very rights if they ever got in power.

Where is the working man or woman in all if this leftist irrelevance??

Nowhere. The left refuses to discuss substantive issues and place themselves in an electable position. For instance on the NHS they brook no discussion on how the NHS works, they would rather just shovel more and more cash into the black hole and naively hope more service comes out the other end.

The same mantra is pushed by the left regarding local services provided by councils.

Forget the fat cat bosses at the top earning six-figure salaries, forget the waste and the corruption, forget the lack of vocational nursing places, stopping working class girls getting a decent earning job.

Labour is now a party run largely by ultra-left socialist nutjobs that have absolutely no connection or empathy with the working man and would probably call working people fascists for daring even to earn money.

It just makes me sad that Labour is where it is, irrelevant to most of the people it originally set out to champion.

It makes me even sadder that the people Labour have cast aside still vote for them.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Zombie Blair Ressurected

The Unlawful-War-Fighting Monster Tony Blair might delude himself into thinking his resurrection is more Jesus-like, but in my mind ever time the stinking, lying weasel pops his nose into politics, he will be forever a zombie. Decrepit, deiscredited and universally disliked.

This time he's once again proving his dislike of democracy by becoming a figurehead for the anti-democratic push to ignore the Brexit referendum result and stay in the EU.

I've already blogged on why I voted to leave and my reasons for doing so.

But I'll reiterate: I like many of my peers voted to leave completely  That's end free movement, leave the EU, the ECC, EMCA, the ECJ and virtually every other political edifice with the name "European" in front of it.

That's the baseline. We are out and we make our own way in the world.

Now from that baseline, IF Teresa May can negotiate better terms at no extra cost to us, then fine, crack on. And yes, I'm aware that we have obligations post-Brexit, but they will reduce over time and then thankfully the EU gets none of our money. Ever again.

Of course Tony Blair is pulling out the old line that us leave voters didn't know what we were voting for. I'd counter that voters were very clear about what they wanted: THEY WANTED TO BE FREE FROM EUROPEAN INTERFERENCE and whatever consequences arised out of that were a price worth paying and they were happy to pay.

Of course Blair I'm sure will spout his "better off in, better to have influence in Europe" line. But, already we're seeing by voting to leave we are showing leadership and influence in Europe. The thing is, if the system is broke, then you are better off out of it. And we will show that (as long as politicians don't sabotage the leaving process).

It's a pity that Blair didn't lose an election as PM, instead he let Gordon Brown take the fall. Had he been defeated in the polls he might be a bit more humble. He should really wind his neck in and shut the fuck up.

Sorry Tony, the chance for you to be European president went a long time ago.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The "Gig" Economy

About 18 years ago, I was working as a self-employed I.T. Contractor, writing Interactive Voice Applications for large institutions. I wrote the Telephone Banking Application for HSBC. When I say I wrote it, I made it work. I picked it up with a few weeks to the deadline for it to be working and HSBC desperate for it to work properly.  I managed it and made the application work.

As a self-employed contractor, I received no benefits from the client. But I did work at their premises and for the duration of the contract I was contracted to work for them exclusively. Independent contractors at the time were earning huge payments and working more efficiently than the large I.T. programming business. The clients also liked that independents were cheaper than the big boys and usually worked smarter. After all, you can't make a living on your own if you're a poor programmer (nearly all of my contracts were from word of mouth recommendations), but it's easy to be a bad programmer if you're working as an employee of a large company supplying I.T. services.

But the thing is, the payment we received, was paid to our own company. We decided on how much was taken as salary, how much was left in the bank account to cover the lean times, how much expenses we paid ourselves and what we bought for the company (claimable against VAT) and importantly how much we paid ourselves in dividends, at the corporate tax level of 20% at the time. You see, the government didn't like us, because we were smart and didn't give half of it away to them in tax.

Then when Labour came into power, under the influence of large I.T. service companies, a new tax code called IR35 was brought in that stated if you worked the same as an employee of a company even if you were self employed, then the company was liable to pay employers national insurance amongst other things and the contractor's payment was classed as a salary and taxed at that rate. The contract market tried to evolve after that, but it became harder to work as an independent on the client's premises and the big companies started to take over the market.

Fast forward 16 years and we come to the so-called "Gig" economy where individual self-employed contractors are employed on an exclusive basis by a firm to provide services. Sounds familiar. It seems IR35 has been forgotten, because one of the hardest things to get round was the exclusivity clause in it. We had to write the right of substitution into our contracts, so that we had the option of providing another contractor in our place if ever we couldn't show up. In essence, working like a larger business rather than a one man band. A risky strategy, but one that got round the exclusivity clause. Not so risky if you could team up with another contractor, like I did.

So the likes of Uber and other firms requiring the exclusive attention of a self-employed contractor fall foul of IR35 and I've been waiting for the Government to catch up and start to impose an already existing law onto companies using this model. Uber fell first, then a cycle courier won her case and now a plumber has also won his right to be classed as an employee. You see as the government said way back in the 90's you can't have your cake and eat it: if it walks like an employee, wears the uniform like an employee and is subject to rules like an employee, then it's an employee. With all the rights an employee gets. In the 90's we were earning huge sums, but this time contractors are lucky to reach minimum wage apparently. So the big firm, in not paying properly is falling foul of that law as well.

About time too. IR35 killed the independent contractor market thanks to big businesses. It looks like this time it's big businesses that are suffering.

Payback's a bitch.

It's just a shame it's not I.T. companies suffering.


Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Fucked NHS and lack of Cohesion.

Much noise in the press over the past week about how the NHS is on it's knees and close to collapse.

Of course the standard model is to demend more money is thrown at the NHS to help it cope. We all know that's only part of the answer. The general concensus is that all thet happens to the money is it gets swallowed up and quite often does no good at all and produces nothing in the way of betterment.

What needs to happen quite frankly is for the medical profession to start working as professionals and to work in a cohesive way, from GPS at the front end, hospitals providing specialist treatment and at the back end improvements in post-operative and social cafe outside of hospitals.

GP surgeries have long been criticised for the length of time taken to get appointments. In some cases it's been up to a month before you can get to see a GP. Great if you plan to be ill in a month, but bugger all use if you have an illness right now that needs non-specialist care.

Many GP practices in fairness have recognised this and gone to a new model: you can only book appointments on the day. So for instance you book an appointment at 8:30 when the surgery opens and get an appointment for that morning. Hopefully by the time you've battled through the continual busy tone and the hordes of callers you get a an appointment for that morning. The same then applies for an afternoon slot if you fail to win the morning lottery: you phone up at 12:30 and hopefully beat the hordes to get a slot. This then gets repeated ad nauseum possibly for a number of days until you're lucky enough to get through to the appointments person.

Of course if you work, this new scheme is completely unacceptable, because even if you get an appointment, because it's on the same day there is no way of letting your employer know in advance that you have an appointment and will not be in. Taking time off without permission even for a doctors appointment in quite a few businesses is a disciplinary offence.

It's also unacceptable if you are in pain, or feel you need urgent assistance.

So, for employed people it's not an improvement, because you still can't access GP services. Which then means that to get access to a doctor, you're going to have to access a 24hr medical service, i.e. Accident and Emergency.

In the febrile brain of some top-level NHS manager, I suppose that access to the 111 telephone service fills the gap. It basically avoids the GP's surgery and gives you instant access to medical advice. But not being face-to-face with a doctor, but instead talking over the phone to a non-medical person working from a script, means there will be mistakes. People with conditions that need urgent attention will be missed and those that don't need A&E will be sent there. It just depends on how the patient answers the questions on the NHS script rather than on proper medical experience.

Without some modification of GP and other services at the front end the pressure on A&E will just continue to climb.

I've seen it first hand: Ambulance crews queuing up because they can't hand over to A&E staff, the A&E ward full so patients have to queue for hours in corridors. And grown up children throwing a tantrum in the waiting area because their hangover isn't being attended to.

Of course at the other end of the hospital process beds don't get cleared quick enough. I've been in hospital sat on a bed for hours waiting to be seen by a doctor to be declared fit enough to leave. That's an issue of management that needs to be improved. Having to wait most of the day for doctor bloggs to come and sign you off is a waste of a bed. To be honest it always smacks of an ego trip, in that dr bloggs and only dr bloggs can sign patient X off. Tough shit he's on a late shift today and can't sign the patient off until the early evening. Just doing a shift handover to say patient x can be signed off in the morning if he passes fit by another doctor would be a simple change that eases the problem.

Of course those people which have no immediate carer pose the biggest problem due to the lack of social care. In our modern society of fractured families and an ageing population, the problem can only get worse.
Where patients cannot be discharged because they are not well enough to look after themselves, the lack of investment in the care sector is by far the most troublesome issue currently.

First I have to declare an interest. My wife is a carer and looks after people with learning disabilities.

The challenge facing the care sector is the larger numbers of people living longer lives. Not only the elderly able-bodied, but those with learning disabilities, those with longer term health issues and those with terminal illnesses. Medicinal science has worked wonders prolonging the lives of people with a number of health issues. Drug companies have developed medicines such as statins and others that prolong the lives of people with cardiac problems, diabetics are able to take advantage of a range of drugs to help them live longer... So it goes on.

In the last couple of decades the care sector has changed in a huge way. Issues with care had led to organisations like the Care Quality Commission that have pushed for a more professional service, raising standards of professionalism of staff. But the funding has not followed the improvements. Many, many staff are paid no more than the minimum wage, a fact covered by staff doing considerably long shifts to disguise the poor pay. The carers working day is typically 12 hours. When staff shortages or illness strike, that working day can easily extend to 18 or 24 hours. No overtime rates either, standard hourly rate is the norm during overtime, at weekends and bank holidays. People being paid minimum wage are tasked with giving out medication on the basis in some instances of no more than filling out a questionnaire.

If there was a prime candidate for some sort of union or professional representation, it would be the care sector. Of course that would increase wages and therefore costs, but it would be the start of a push for better funding and I doubt unions would be castigated for raising standards and wages for the people who are looking after our sick and disabled.

Care at the moment is provided by a hodgepodge of small independent private enterprises. Costs are high despite low wages, standards are variable and provision is always on a knife edge.
One of the issues with funding of care is the disconnect from the greater NHS in an administrative and budgetary sense. Care budgets are decided by local authorities. What needs to happen is that care provision needs to be taken in hand by the NHS and funded by the NHS budget, so that the benefits of more professional care, better wages, proper investment and closer integration with the rest of the NHS bear fruit and that caring as a profession shakes of it's somewhat seedy and "cheap" aura..

Until the back-end provision starts to improve, there will always be a pressure on hospitals as they fail to discharge patients that no longer need the intensive, specialist medical care of a hospital ward.

The provision of diagnosis, treatment, recuperation and if necessary ongoing care in the community needs to be provided with holistic outlook. It should all be funded from a single pot and managed as a single entity. You can't run GP surgeries and Care Provision independent from the bit in the middle, the hospital care.


Monday, 30 January 2017

Fake News, Fake Journalists.

The Trump Presidency has become a watershed for the BBC.

First they called Brexit wrong and despite biased reporting in an attempt to preserve the elite status quo, the voting public, those people forced by the risk of prosecution to bankroll the BBC voted to leave the EU.

The apoplexy at that decision and the almost immediate hyping of horror stories (the election program hadn't ended before BBC reporters were gloriously slavering over the news that the pound had started to drop (down to pre-Brexit hype levels, but don't let that get in the way of a good story). Almost in a told you so, naughty children kind of way.

Well, the BBC begin to surpass themselves to express the apoplexy at the population again making themselves heard and installing their President in the Whitehouse.

The first was the over-hype of the pointless women's marches around the World, just as over-hyped as the pointless protests after Brexit. Not only that but the drooling commentary over the lack of attendees at Trump's inauguration echoed the slide of the pound on the morning of Brexit.

Then we got the cringeworthy effort of Larua Kuenssberg to ridicule both our Prime Minister and the American President at their joint press conference. An effort so full of bias and bile that all attempts to hide behind "Balanced reporting" seem to have been put aside. No such calling out of Hillary Clinton about how she could not only live with serial womaniser but actively vilify the women he cheated on her with.

Not only Laura; the BBC has released a full pack of "journalist" attack dogs on the Trump presidency and anything else that smacks of their new hate-word "Populism" (AKA: Democracy).

In truth the BBC has the knife out for anything and anyone that fails to agree with their skewed view of the world. Farage, Trump, Brexit, all are considered a joke by the BBC, they are dismissive of the majority view of the population, inventing the term "Populism" on their output to decry and ridicule anything that doesn't fit their globalist, anti-democratic agenda.

The number of so-called journalists that the BBC have put forward to sing the party song and trash Trump has been beyond the pale. I think the only person giving him a fair-ish crack of the whip is Andrew Neil. Someone who remembers what balanced and unbiased reporting is all about. I'm surprised the BBC still employ him. He must have some info on the top brass. I've long expected him to be cast out and to pop up on some online TV channel promoting proper reporting.

All the other coverage is bias, bile and bilge. It's not News.It's an attack on America, American ddemocracy and the American public. It's like watching the BTN Network on V for Vendetta. It's like the BBC attempting to out-Sky Sky, or out-do Fox News. News is drama, truth is the reporter's own viewpoint.

It is fake news, issued by fake reporters who are nothing more than media mouthpieces put in front of the camera or microphone to promote propaganda.

They're not even covering it up any more, or holding back with their victims. They are so sure of their position that it scares me. Just what is going on? They're not even hiding it any more.

When is the Trump Ban not a Ban?

When It's a temporary hiatus, that's when.

Much is being said in the News about the Trump "Ban", but it is nothing of the sort, It is a 90 or 120 day halt to immigration from "countries of concern". Those countries not being selected by Trump, but by the State Department many months ago. Trump is acting on information that has not been sufficiently acted upon previously. i.e. having enhanced vetting of people from areas considered as high risk.

The indefinite ban on people from Syria acknowledges the issues that accepting people from an ISIS hotbed contains. The fact that there is no way to easily confirm who is a friend of the US, happy to accept safe haven there or who is an agent of terror. The fact that the majority of refugees are men of fighting age and not women or children (where's the equality in that, by the way?) tends to suggest that ISIS is exporting their fighters as refugees or at the very least hiding their fighters amongst a lot of young male refugees where it's hard to tell the difference.

It's not a racist order either, as many in the media have reported, because it doesn't discriminate against race. By it's definition a ban on people from a country is not a ban on race, nor is a ban on one particular religious group racist.

The ethics of such a ban is for others to argue about, but when one is at war (as we all are with ISIS) but morals tend to be flexible and is something where the UK cannot claim to be squeaky clean on. For instance the firebombing of German civilians in cities by the RAF, or the death of innocent civilians caused by the invasion of Iraq, which was at best based on flaky intelligence or at worst just a political publicity stunt.

But it's not like temporary halts on immigration haven't been implemented by the US government before. Other administrations have had temporary bans on accepting people from countries deemed a security risk.

Many News stories have quoted Emma Lazarus' poem on the base of the Statue Of Liberty.. "Give me your tired, your poor..."etc. as a way of stating America's change of heart regarding immigrants. But in the times that poem was written, all the people arriving in America did so to better themselves, to strive for a better life than they could have at home, to make the most of the opportunities afforded by their new home.

Today it is a different story. Yes, there are many arriving in the USA that do genuinely want to take advantage of the same opportunities and freedoms granted to it's citizens. 

But there is a significant number of people arriving in the USA, just as there are in Europe and other free countries around the world, that intent harm, destruction and chaos. 

Those are the reasons for the temporary halt, to take stock and work harder to identify those that mean harm. Those that present a clear and present danger to the USA and the freedoms it holds dear.

However, I will say against it, in it's implementation, Trump's executive order was immature, not understanding the chaos that was caused at airports as immigration officers had to abide by an ill-thought-out order. An easier option would have been to specify implementation on new flights into the USA and to allow those in the air to land an be processed. Unless (and we will probably never know the answer to this) there was an immediate threat to the US identified by the intelligence agencies.

I will also say I'm appalled at the amount of negative publicity given to Trump's order by the mainstream media. It's almost as if they're being paid to push the agenda. What is it with the very forceful pro-immigration sentiment in the media today? So much so they're clouded to the very obvious failings in their own arguments. Should we really take in millions of unvetted refugees? Would the reporters forcing the pro-immigration agenda be happy if (for instance) an unvetted refugee who turned out to be an ISIS member killed a member of their family? Are they happy undermining the security of their own country? If the answer is yes, then why? 

It always amuses me when you get people on news reports getting emotional about the "refugees" in Calais trying to get to the UK, saying the UK must do something to help, we should take in those poor people. But those "poor people" are again young men of fighting age, who just happen to be in France, a very safe country. They are France's problem, not ours. We have no obligation to accept economic migrants (or fake refugees) at all. We do have UN obligations to accept real refugees which the UK and we do abide by our obligations by taking families and children from camps in Jordan, close to Syria where it's easier to confirm the true identity of the refugee and their true status). Families who are in genuine need and who will be thankful for our help and grateful for the sanctuary we give them.

They will not be some angry young Ethiopian who has had to survive the crossing of two continents having been promised streets of gold by people smugglers only to illegally arrive in the UK. An angry young man made even angrier by being exploited by the dark economy. Unable to work because he has no legal status in the UK, denied that pot of gold he was promised in exchange for his life savings. A young man who needs to be saved by making it plain that there is no pot of gold here before he makes the perilous journey, who needs to be encouraged to stay at home and increase the prosperity of his homeland. A homeland free from religious zealots forcing the slaughter of milions in the name of Jihad. A homeland that can trade freely on the world market and is not hampered by huge tariffs on any goods he makes when shipped to the western world and especially the EU. A homeland that educates it's people out of poverty and religious exploitation. A homeland that has the opportunities of prosperity and freedom, free from corruption he would otherwise seek out in the West. 

The real inequality, the real racism the Western Media should be reporting is not the Trump "Ban", nor the plight of refugees in Calais, but the corruption, religious exploitation and inequalities of world trade and global corporate politics that provide the push factor for refugees in the first place..

Monday, 23 January 2017

Trident Tragedy Storm in Teacup

A lot is being made of teh Trident misfire as a way to Bash Teresa May.

The key issue is why the information about the misfire wasn't given out before the debate on Trident oin the commons.

From what I can make of it, the misfire happened just before the debate. Given that such information relates to National Security and our Nuclear deterrent, the information is classified.

It takes weeks for various committees and such to debate the information and eventually declassify it such that the PM can release it to the defence select committee, let along the comkmons at large.

I suspect that the timing is such that the information was still classified at the time of the debate and the PM couldn't release it even if she wanted to.