Friday, 17 November 2017

Tories "Building the Future" but with not Enough Actual Building.....

The Tories have launched a new slogan, "Building a Britain Fit for the Future", except my understanding is there isn't going to be any actual building.

Yet another wishy-washy mish-mash of rehashed, already launched policies, packaged up into something to talk about during next week's budget. Financial incentives, planning changes, but nothing concrete (if you'll excuse the pun). You can have that one for free, shadow Chancellor.

Labour need to be prepared to counter-strike and knock down each of the Tory's proposal. That means credible and detailed homework from the left to be able to deflate every one of the pumped up policies from the Conservatives.

It would also be nice if Labour put a few shots across the bows of the Tories beforehand, signalling intent to really sink their teeth into the Tories unless there are radical, substantial, new proposals to sort out the housing crisis. Tinkering at the edges or rehashing old news will. not. do.

Hopefully with a few well-placed broadsides from Labour, the Tories can be persuaded against presenting a PR campaign as a budget and get them to produce an actual policy with real targets, a real budget and demonstrable progress against those targets.

What Labour cannot do is just trot out the same old anti-Tory plattitudes, the ones that turn voters off and do nothing to change Tory policy. They have to give detailed and credible opposition and strip the veneer from the Tory plans so the voters can see the lack of detail underneath.

But given the superficiality of politics at the moment, I doubt I'll see any of the above actually happen.

One of those times you really wish you were an MP and able to give such superficial people a slap. (before it gets banned) ;-)

Back here I outlined my thoughts on housing and how the crisis should be managed. Government managed housing stock, outside the remit of local authorities needs to be started. Local authorities we all know are corrupt, with contracts going to friends that had surprisingly well-informed tenders. keeping it central (for once) seems to be the preferred option. From the planning perspective national government involvement means it's easier to quote national interest and make the planning stage eaisier. There are plenty of laws the government can invoke to build new housing, or they can quite quickly release old MOD land for building if necessary.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Bashing the Poor: The Death of Altruism in Government

When did it become fashionable for Governments to bash the poor? It seems with every new policy that the poorest in society are most adversely affected.

Plastic bag tax, insurance premuim tax, all have a disproportionate affect on the poorest in society.

Mimimum wage created a race to the bottom, only surpassed by zero hours contracts (a construct created soley to bypass minimum wage legislation).

Those on minimum wage still have to pay tax. You'd think that those on the lowest pay would be free from tax, but they still have to pay.

In work benefits like tax credits means even the lowest paid workers without kids have to subsidise the wages of everyone else with kids through the taxation system.

The squeeze on the benefits system in general, from re-assessment of disabilities, the bedroom tax, to PIPs (which is supposed to "save" or take away billions in benefits)

Now the ostensibly socialist (although authoritarian might be a better word) SNP have successfully fought to bring in minimum pricing for alcohol, the "save" the poor from themselves. I wonder if the bars in the Scottish Parliament are exempt? Hopefully not, MSPs are not exactly the poorest in society are they? That would be rather hypocritical wouldn't it?

Policies initiated by successive governments that purported to be helping the poor. Well done there guys! Not exactly redistribution of "wealth" if the non-wealthy are the ones paying more, is it?

Every time a government tries to help the poor in whatever guise it comes, you can be rest assured that government is no friend of the poor and the policy will do exactly the opposite of what the government says is the object.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Parliamentary Vote on Brexit:Here we Go Again

Aparrently the Remain camp have earned a victory in Parliament and forced the government to u-turn over allowing MPs to vote on the Brexit deal.

The thing is, it's nothing of the sort. the remain camp may think it is, but it isn't.

It's not like Parliament can force the government back to the negotiating table to negotiate better terms. Those will be the best terms we could get.

It's take 'em or leave 'em folks.

The only option MPs will have will either accept whatever deal has been negotiated, or to refuse the deal on the table and exit the EU without one.

It's not as if MPs can force us back into the EU. There will be no "Refuse the deal, stay in the EU" option on the table.

The people have spoken, we want Brexit. However that comes about. If MPs force us into accepting a bad deal, then heads will roll.

If they force Parliament into accepting a bad deal with the idea of forcing the public to consider staying in, heads will roll.

The public have rejected the EU. The elite need to stop plotting against the public or there will be trouble. Big trouble.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

New Middle East Conflict a Certainty

The arrest and detention of certain high-level people in Sudi Arabia should set alarm bells ringing.

The players are aligning and it seems the target of their attention is Iran.

This could be the big one, a massive Middle East conflict, pitching Sunni against Shia.

Each side's proxies are already fighting in Yemen and I know that the Saudis do not tolerate trouble in their neighbourhood. The sactions against Qatar are a classic example of this. When Saudi "Policemen" crossed the causeway into neighbouring Bahrain to quell anti-government protests during the "Arab spring" , that's another example of the Saudi intollerance of any risk on their borders.

Yemen could well be the excuse for Saudi Arabia to move against the Shia side.

The downside is that if Saudi eventually wins, the extreme Wahhabbi version of Islam will become the predominant form.

You know, the sort that exports extremist imams to preach in the Mosques in the UK that they paid for.

If it does kick off and they win, it's not going to be pretty for the Middle East and the rest of the world as they crush Shias in their countries and promote extremist Islam in the rest of the world.

The intriguing part is Israel aligning with Saudi. Are they looking to the longer term where the world is pulled into a conflict against extremist Islam? Do they see that as a game plan to expand their territory in the Middle East by using the rest of the world to eventually crush the Arabs?

World governments should tread very carefully: the way things are aligned at the moment makes things very dangerous.

If the end result is Saudi moving in force into Yemen and crushing the Houthi rebels and it goes no further, the world should breathe a sigh of relief.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Paradise Papers: Storm in a teacup yet another distraction from what?

The so-called "Paradise papers" were relesed this week, detailing the financial dealings of the rich elite. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the haters, saying it's immoral not to pay tax, or to reduce reduce their tax bill by taking advantage of the various loopholes in the tax law.

Well sorry, it's not illegal to do any of what has been described so far. It may be immoral, but immorrality seems to be everywhere doesn't it, even in Parliament. Just look at the various sexual allegations in the past week.

The thing that galls me is those pious people throwing stones, like the Guardian and certain Labour MPs, themselves forget they or their agents are using the self-same offshore mechanisms to reduce their tax bill and increase profits. Rank Hypocrisy, everyone in the elite is doing it.

Of course you have to be earning a certain amount to be able to take advantage of these tax dodges; the likes of you and me, the ordinary person on the street had our own loopholes closed decades ago.

The heinous IR35 rules introduced by the previous Labour government, declaring independent contractors as employees and subject to tax, continues to cause controversy and stifle self-employment for the masses.

Now self-employed NHS workers are being targeted in a crack down, at a time when the NHS can ill-afford to lose good people. But lose them they will, just as the I.T. sector I used to work in before IR35 came into being crushed the independent I.T. contractor sector. Back then it was about crushing the more flexible and adept independent contractors in favour of the big I.T. companies. The ones that fucked up a huge amount of government I.T. contracts and cost the taxpayer billions.

As it is, a large number of independent contractors either left the country for fairer climes (tax and weather-wise), or left the industry altogether. I'm one of the latter.

A huge loss of resource to the UK I.T. market and a boon to America in particular and other countries like the Middle East.

The same will happen when the governemnt eventually bows to this latest media shitstorm and starts to crack down on offshore business accounts. The tax take will take a nose dive just like it did back in the seventies with 95% tax rates. We've been here before: the politics of envy do not work and making anyone a cash cow just pushes them away, or they collapse. People will just become tax exiles and probably not come back when they find out how shit the UK is to live in compared to other countries.

I don't normally do this country down, but really: forcing people to Monaco, the Middle East or the USA. Do you really think that people would come back? Well, okay from the Middle East maybe, but the rest? Nah. My nephew has a great life working in I.T. in America. He wouldn't have half the quality of life if he moved back here.

But hey, force the innovators gifted and the intelligent away from the UK. Whats the worst that can happen?

.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Westminster Abuse Allegations: Why Now?

I'm confused. Why has the Westminster abuse scandal erupted now? Given that most of the allegations and the culture in Parliament were common knowledge and historical in nature, what is significant about the timing? Why Now?

Sure, Guido Fawkes has pushed the agenda against certain MPs, but the size of the issue tells me that there is something else going on. Like a Magician's audience, we're being distracted, but what from?


Thursday, 2 November 2017

The Ticking Time Bomb Within the Care Industry

Ticking Time Bomb, Sword of Damocles, call it what you will, but there is a looming crisis that threatens to obliterate swathes of the care sector.

What is this crisis you may ask? It's the enforcement of six years back pay to sleep workers. Forcing employers to pay the difference between what they were paid (an overnight retainer) and what the government say they should be paid (a full shift at minimum wage) for all their sleep shift employees for the past six years. For a care company who could have several sleep shift employees, that's a big bill that's suddenly been thrust on them.

This is no idle threat, the financial burden will cripple a large part of the care sector and homes will close because of this.

A lot of care companies are paid only minimal sums and they are struggling to cope with the burden of regulation, training and the minumum wage. Profits have been squeezed and investment is none-existent. Those companies that do things properly are the ones worst hit because they struggle to make a profit.

I did say when the minimum wage came out that it would hit the care sector hard. My wife was working alternate awake and sleep night shifts. The arrangement was she was paid the standard hourly rate while she worked, so from 8-10pm and from 6-8am she was paid hourly rate. Between those hours she was paid a fixed retainer, not the hourly rate because she was sleeping and not working. IF she was woken to deal with a client, then she would be paid hourly rate for the time she was awake and working.

But in comes the minimum wage, with no differentiation in the legislation as to whether the employee is working or not working while on the premises. No differentiation, a sledgehammer that says the employee is on the premises so even though they are tucked up in bed they are to be classed the same as the person on the awake shift doing the cleaning, washing, ironing etc.

As you can imagine, the ruling that minimum wage be paid regardless of whether the employee is working or sleeping went down like a lead balloon in most care establishments. So now most have moved to having two awake staff on shift. No longer can students earn easy money while they sleep in care homes.

Most care homes have a minumum staffing level. It may mean they have to have a minimum of two staff available. The sleep shift was a cheaper way to ensure two staff at the home while the residents slept and there wasn't the workload for two staff. Now two awake staff have to be on shift, for a shift that doesn't really need two staff on it.

I could say that the more unscrupulous care homes will just downsize to one awake staff overnight, raising the risk level and breaking the rules. It'll take a tragedy like a fire at a care home with a single member of staff struggling to evacuate residents to highlight the issue.

Of course care costs will increase because of this and local authorities, supposedly cash strapped as they are will not pay. There will be care homes and businesses that become insolvent because of this.

In the end who wins and who loses?

Certainly the residents of the homes that rely on the care lose out because they lose their homes.

But I'm struggling to find out who wins in this scenario.....

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Brexit: No Deal is a Done Deal...

The stars are aligning, the rumours are starting and in what were smoke-filled back rooms (until EU intervention) plans are afoot regarding Brexit.

All the signs now point to there being no deal in place by the end of the Article 50 negotiation period.

I take this hard Brexit approach (and thereby a complete refusal to truly negotiate -on both sides) as a ply to force the UK back towards EU membership.

Effectively the plan seems to be the "No-Deal" scenario will be so horrendous there will be a clamour from voters to end the Article 50 process and go back to the loving busom of the EU.

I'm one of the "Hard" Brexiters: exit from the EU is worth ANY cost to the UK. Regaining control of laws, borders trade and everything else the EU sticks it's money-grubbing fingers into is worth the cost. ANY cost.

I know Dan Hannan would like a more reasoned approach, but where money is involved, the EU loses all reason. If we leave, we remove a huge chunk from the EU budget, leaving Germany as the main contributor. I can imagine the New German government will be putting immense pressure on the EU to get a deal where we still contribute money for access to EU markets. Hence the EU's insistance on sorting out the money first and then sorting out trade deals. How exactly we're supposed to negotiate a bill before we know what services we're paying for.I don't know.

To expand on Mr Juncker's Bar analogy, nobody pays the tab up front before they know what they drinks they are are paying for. £5 a glass for a coke is a bit different than £5 for a JD & coke. You pay your share of the tab up to the point you leave the bar. And no-one pays for drinks that are served after they leave the bar.

It's like Mr Juncker going up to a bar and the barman saying "That'll be 100 Euros..." The very next words out of Mr Junckers words would be "What for, I haven't ordered yet!?"

Not what I put my tick in the box on referendum day for.

Sure, if we get a deal that is worth the money, then fair enough, but paying (for instance) the biggest contribution just to be a member of the club but not on the committee should not be an option.

Out means out, as we were told several times by the remain side during the referendum campaign.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Brext "No Deal" debacle continues.

It seems the knioves are out for chancellor Phillips Hammond over his "revelation" that planes may not be able to fly over or into Europe come the day of Brexit.

Actually not a revellation: he didn't make a statement, but an acceptence to a question put to him.

But EU Referendum has been blogging about this and other minutiae that will clog up the arteries of free trade the day after Brexit. That is, unless the two parties understand the issue and work together on a solution.

As it is, there is no sign from the EU side that there is any will to negotiate. Barnier is hamstrug and following his orders from the EU27 to the letter. He uis refusing to talk trade terms without developing the exit terms and our "exit bill" first. It's all about the money.

We've already in their eyes attained "third country" status and they are happy to dictate terms to us and make us capitulate just like they do with countries in Africa and Asia.

Except we are different than those countries: we do a vast amount of trade with the EU. Yes, thanks to frictionless borders, the trade flows pretty well. They do a lot more trade with us than we do with them. They have more to lose by ignoring the relalities of Brexit.

I can imagine the quese of containers of food spoiling at the docks on the way out of Europe as the beaurocratic border checker hold up the export of trade by making sure the t's are crossed and the i's are dittedwill not be looked on well by the traders within the EU. BMW and Mercedes will not be happy that their cars are held away from their intended market.

Quiet rightly if we symied inbound trade on our side, then that would be an issue for the WTO or some similar body to persue, but I'm talking about the EU itself imposing friction on outbound trade. It could be interesting within the EU as citizens and companies start to protest about export issues.

In the meantime, we'll quite happily replace EU imports from somewhere else in the world, side-stepping the EU. Initially under WTO rules but then under more formal trade agreements.

If the hiatus continues, BMW and Mercedes will simply make the cars for the UK market in non-EU countries and ship them here.

There may be a 6 week period of turmoil because that's how long it takes for containers to move from one side of the world to the other, but by hook or by crook, the trade will flow.

From the EU or not. Their call.

Friday, 6 October 2017

UK Politics in Paralysis

It seems to be dawning on politicians of all sides the enormity of Brexit.

Like a Rabbit caught in the headlights of a 40-tonne lorry our political leaders have found out that at some point they will actually have to govern the country rather than leave it on autopilot and rely on laws that atomatically implement EU dictats.

Stunned into paralysis, there has been lots of well, nothing coming out of the various party conferences. Forget the Lib-Dems, they probably represent 5% of the counrty's voters these days. The word is irrelevant.

Labour's party conference was a swathe of communist whimsy brought to the UK. Like we've just voted to leave the EUSSR, we don't want MORE fucking totalitarianism, nationalisation or any more government.

We want less, more affordable government thank you.

And Labour; ignoring Brexit does not look clever, it just shows you as perplexed by it as the Tories. Go on, just shove it under the carpet. Just like your Anti-Semitic problem.

Which is where we get onto the Tories. Again, consumed by Brexit and with no real leadership to speak of, there was nothing at their conference that merited any confidence in their ability to govern sucessfully.

The housing crisis is approching melt down. The Grenfell Tower fire highlighted the issue in London, but across the country house prices are close to becoming unsustainable.

The Help to Buy Scheme has admittedly helped first time buyers get on the housing ladder, but it has actually made the problem worse by helping to inflate house prices. By helping people buy houses with less deposit, more buyers are available and therefore demand is higher, inflating prices. God know what sort of catastrophe awaits those buyers on minimal deposits and huge house prices.

If interest rates rise (as they are sure to do) we will find huge numbers of people defaulting on mortages and huge numbers of houses lying empty because they will be unaffordable. The first to fall will be those on the HTB scheme, those just about affording to pay off mortgages at 0.5% interest rates. Will they be able to afford interest rates of 2%, 5% or more? There will be no social housing to house these displaced people. We will have vast numbers of homeless families on the streets. Families, not just single people, whole families. Thousands of families.

Just think of the drain on the public finances of that lot, not to mention the disaffection they would have for the ruling classes. A veritable breeding ground for revolutionary and extremist ideology.

Government (of all creeds and colours) needs to get a grip on housing and get a grip now. I understand that whichever party gets in, supplying vast numbers of new houses will be an unpopular move with householders, those in the suburbs and those on the edges of green belt land. In effect Tory voters.

But Labour have a lot to lose if they build lots of houses and start to lower house prices.

There needs to be legislation keeping this new housing stock outside private hands. That way, the housing stock resides with the government and that way the price of the house is immaterial. It doesn't affect private house prices and only affects the rental income of buy-to-let landlords as rents come down. Luckily the buy-to-let market isn't huge enough to be political dynamite and most landlords these days seem to be foreign investors cashing in on high UK rents. i.e. not UK voters.

Anyone that wants to own a house is welcome to buy vastly inflated private housing if they want to, but will not be allowed to buy new social housing stock.

The only downside is sorting out management of this new housing stock. Many councils have sold ALL their social housing to housing associations. The best bet would be to keep the new housing away from councils. Their mis-managment of original council housing caused the crisis back in the Eighties.

No, a new agency needs to be formed with powers over planning etc. so that they can get the job done. They will have a remit to produce AFFORDABLE, LIVEABLE and LONG-LASTING housing.

No tin prefabs or unit-construction knock-ups here. No shoeboxes either. It's criminal how small houses that builders claim to be homes are these days.

These days there is the knowledge, ability and technology to build sustainable, repairable, economic and totally liveable housing, so why not do it?

The Tories started the mess, it's only right they clear it up isn't it?

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The Insanity of UK Politics.

Everyone that is aware of politics in the UK has the same feeling, that there is something wrong, something broken with our Politicians and Political system.

I believe it's more than broken, I believe UK politics is insane.

How else other than insanity can you explain the Tories refusing to engage in proper dialogue with the EU on Brexit? How else do you explain the refusal of many politicians to accept the democratic will of the people and conspire against Brexit, whilst still calling themselves democrats?

How else do you explain Labour's refusal to accept that public finances were hugely saddled by poor PPI deals under a Labour government, but now insist "it was the Tories that done it"? How do you explain their insistence that they are not anti-Semitic, while at the same time vilifying the Jews? How do you explain Labour's plans for re-nationalisation by stealing companies back at a price they say is market price, but is well below market price?

I know it's not just me that see's the insanity of Politics. When someone argues essentially that black is white, just because the other side say white is black with no reference to the truth, then that's insanity.

When people vote for the same parties, with the same outcome (nothing good for the ordinary voter), that's insanity. When Policing is no longer Policing, but tax collection, that's insanity. When the armed forces have been reduced while at the same time fighting tough wars, that's insanity. Paying people who are working benefits because companies refuse to pay proper wages and when those benefits become a major drag on government finances, that's insanity.

When the government of the day say they are balancing the books, but run up more national debt, that's insanity.

Oh how I crave for the days of sane government. Of politicians exacting the will of the people for the good of the people. A government that knows the truth and admits it, rather than their version of the truth.


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Labour Commit Political Suicide.

Last night the vast majority of Labour MPs voted against the European Union (Withdrawl) Bill, in direct conflict with the wishes of the majority of the population (who voted to leave the EU), in direct conflict with the Majority of Northern normally Labour-supporting voters who also voted to leave the EU and in direct conflict with the actual process of leaving the EU.

Had they one iota of gumption about them they would have realised that the powers they were complaining about were actually conferred on the unelected EU, exactly the issue that prompted voters (myself included) to vote to leave the EU.

At least the bill confers powers onto elected officials we can vote out of office, rather than the unelected beaurocrats of Brussels.

Where were the majority of Labour MPs when Tony Blair promoted the European Constitution? Where were they when Gordon Brown signed the Lisbon Treaty? Lining up to applaud, exactly in polar opposition to their sentiments last night.

It seems the Labour will do away with the will of the people just for the sake of damaging their opponents.

It seems the Labour Party will vote against the will of the people in order to fight their internal squabbles.

It is clear the Labour party will vote against the will of their own supporters in order to further both of the above.

Above all it is clear that the leaders of the labour party would rather destroy the party itself than do what their voters demand of them.

Anyone who votes Labour any any further elections, with the current leadership in place should very seriously reconsider their vote. The Labour party does not support the will of the people, they do not suport democracy and only those MPs that voted to support movement towards Brexit should be supported by labour voters at the next election.

It's time the Chealsea socialists, the posh-Trots and the loony left of Liverpool get a bloody nose and some bloody sense knocked into the party that supposedly supports the workers of this country.

I would hope that the huge Labour vote against the Brexit Bill last night signals the death of the party of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ed Milliband and Jeremy Corbyn. All of those Labour leaders who to a man have not put the faithful Labour voter first.

The Need for a New Political Party Grows...

....but not the party the Elite want us to have.

There is much noise about at the moment regarding a New Political party. Depending on your sources the new party could come from the left or the right, not that those labels mean anything anymore and haven't for years.

The main political parties serve global corporate masters. Even Jeremy Corbyn's pseudo-trot New/Old/Red Labour party. How many times has Jeremy been off-message from his own party, for the party to release a statement to "clarify" what he actual meant even if he didn't actually say it.

UKIP was severely castrated after the referendum win because it lost it reason for existence. Nigel Farage is a shrewd political player and saw the light and jumped ship.

But where does that leave the conservative with a small c, low-tax, pro-Brexit, anti-immigration, anti-corporate exploitation working class voter these days?

Certainly not the Liberal Democrats. Their policies are not for the working man. More the Metropolitan middle class, which is why their vote is so low.

Not with UKIP any more. UKIP are a busted flush. After the referendum they had the chance to take advantage of the win and the pro-Brexit voter base in the North and then use that to re-brand the party to move to become the working man's political advocate. Instead they imploded badly. Now there is a very high risk of them becoming a banner for the far right rather than the moderate middle.

Labour have done a slow-motion version of the UKIP thing. Sticking Jeremy Corbyn into the lead role, as some ancient Trot, amiable old duffer leader reminds me of the Michael Foot days, but Corbyn is less disastrous because there's a gullible young generation that haven't experienced a gullible fool backed by corporate masters. The Labour party is no longer the party to promote the working class, not since the polished sheen of the Tony Blair days. Their paymasters the Unions are no longer the working class advocates they once were.  Very much big corporations these days, parasitically leaching off the worker. More like insurance companies these days. A Labour party that looks down on the working class, who constantly does down the country's ideals is not for me.
High-tax, high-spend, high wastage and little political talent, the Labour cabinet would we run rings round by the more savvy players in the Elite.

Then we come to the Conservatives, which haven't really promoted the working class since the 80's. 'Nuff said.

So, back to the question; just where does a working class bloke that is struggling to pay his bills, is pretty pissed off with the excesses of major corporations at the worker's expense, who wants big corporations to pay the proper rate of tax so he can pay less tax himself, who wants a government that actually works, does things and doesn't go through the motions, who wants the government and other institutions to promote the UK rather than do it down, who wants restrictions on corporate lobbyists, who wants decent wages and the abolition of the obscenity that is in-work-benefits, who just wants a party that promotes his interest lay his hat?

Nowhere yet it seems. Hopefully there will be a realisation that a new party is necessary and one appears with the attributes I can vote for. Sadly I think there isn't a wealthy philanthropist out there willing to back a party to the tune it needs to succeed and neither can enough working people band together so supply the funds to make a successful party either.


Monday, 21 August 2017

What is Going on with US Warships?

Yet another US warship has been collided with, this time the USS John McCain.

In June it was the USS Fitzgerald.

It seems that watch keeping duties on both ships (and the others that have been collided with this year alone) were sadly lacking.

Considering that these are modern warships, with effective radar, a surplus of power to get out of tight situations and highly agile, it seems the weakest link is the human one.

However, look further and the question you have to ask is why are these ships getting so close to each other anyway? Modern shipping lanes have traffic separation schemes and there are pretty universal rules for the movements of ships at sea. If the ships do get close, again there are pretty clear rules that come into play. Everyone on watch on a ship's bridge should be well aware of their responsibilities as a watch, their responsibilities to their ship and their crew and finally to other mariners. Any movements that go against established rules are agreed in advance over VHF radio so that the commanders of both ships are aware.

With Radar and modern communications, even low visibility, even nighttime is not a factor. But with all that I mention above, the ships should not be in a position where a tanker ploughs into the side of a warship.

Someone, somewhere is sadly lacking. Possibly the lack of staff on the bridge of the tanker, almost certainly poor watchkeeping aboard the warship where the bridge crew should be fully staffed. Sadly a number of American sailors had to pay with their lives.

If I was a conspiracy theorist, I'd say that these big ships are deliberately being driven at American warships to see how quickly they react and how they react.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Terror Attacks and the Link to "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan

On the news in the past fortnight is a foiled Islamic terror attack in Australia and numbers of people killed in Islamic terror attacks in Spain.

Now you may think the two countries are unrelated, but if you look at the list of countries that have contributed men and materiel to Operation Enduring Freedom, they are right there on the list.

I've said before there is more to these attacks than meets the eye and the only way to solve them is to identify the source of the funding and the ideology that puts these people into the mindset that killing civillians is okay.

I very much doubt that some nutjob looks on Wikipedia and decides unilaterally to start operations against all the countries that contributed to operations in Afghanistan. It's got to be someone with a close personal link to that country and has suffered as a direct consequence of those actions. It's also someone rich enough to provide or with links to others that can provide funds to bankroll the terror networks in each country.

So by way proving a theory, I'm putting up the list of countries involved with operation enduring freedom and you can see which countries especially smaller ones have been victims of terror attacks in recent years.

Okay, some countries are unstable and terror attacks started before we got involved in Afghanistan, but it makes uncanny reading as you go through.For instance Sweden, normally quite neutral and passive in terms of warmongering, has suffered Islamic attacks recently.

It also outlines the idiocy of taking in so-called migrants from the areas where we are fighting the self-same people. How is it we're fighting insurgents in Afghanistan but at the self same time taking in Afghani "migrants" who could well be those self-same insurgents we're fighting in their home country.

None of the policy surrounding Islamic terror makes any modicum of sense whatsoever. One the one hand we are occupying a country in an attempt to prevent terror from being exported from that country, but we're allowing the very same people into our countries as migrants from a war we created and who could be the people laying IEDs for our troops over there....

And the liberals and far left actively denounce anyone that points out this stupidity....

Anyway, here's the list of countries involved in Afghanistan:
                                                                       
1 Afghanistan                                       
2 Australia                                           
5 Bangladesh                                        
7 Belgium                                             
8 Bosnia and Herzegovina                    
9 Canada                                              
10 People's Republic of China              
12 Cyprus                                              
13 Czech Republic                                  
15 Egypt                                               
17 France                                               
19 Germany                                           
20 Greece                                              
22 India                                                 
23 Iran                                                  
25 Italy                                                  
34 Netherlands                                       
36 Norway                                             
38 Pakistan                                           
59 Uzbekistan
60 Finland

Finland is out of sequence because it isn't on the list of countries participating in Op Enduring Freedom, but because of the stabbings this weekend I checked and yep... their military has operated in Afghanistan, so they've been tagged onto the end.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The National Scandal of Child Sex Gangs.

Newcastle has become the latest city to convict a gang of men for the abuse and rape of young girls.

The right will scream that this is a wholly Islamic problem and the left will scream to say that is racist because a tiny minority of those convicted are not Muslims, or point to the large number of Eastern European girls that are trafficked by Eastern European men as a way to avoid the "M" word.

What both side will tend to forget in the vitriol they hurl at each other are the victims: the young girls abused and sexually exploited by these men. The lives that have been ruined by the mental scars that will last long into adulthood.

They will also ignore that these men are paedophiles, pure and simple. Whatever their religion, skin colour, they are abusing and sexually exploiting under age girls.

What is salient is what is happening, quite often it seems that allows these men to carry out this systematic abuse town after town, city after city and continue without severe disruption. In the Newcastle case, the case could not be proved without evidence provided by an informer (paid £10,000, causing some controversy).

The problem is the communities that these men live in, where they can continue their illegal activities without risk of disclosure. Communities where it appears acceptable to abuse young girls and in particular young white girls.

I've said before I've lived in areas alongside these communities. Men are classed above women and Muslim women are deemed second class. Those same women are held in higher esteem than young white girls with loose morals, so in effect those girls are lower than second class. At best they are deemed third class or in extreme cases no better than animals.

I've seen it. Jokingly termed, the "throw away" pretty white girlfriend that Muslim guys have on their arm, cast off once mummy and daddy decide he should settle down and marry a nice Muslim girl. Despite the girlfriend's commitment to the relationship she's not deemed worthy, classless and not on the same level as a good chaste Muslim girl.

It's that sort of attitude, taken to a deeper level that allows the gangs to carry out these abhorrent acts time and time again without detection.

Why bring the Police in to get involved in their community, why should these men get into trouble over trashy white girls? The girls deserve all they get for being immoral, for being gullible, for falling for the men's lies. For becoming trapped in the web of drugs and sexual abuse, for being animals. They are not worth the trouble.

The same attitude decades ago that girls with loose morals were "asking for it" when they were raped, pervades the muslim religion. Women of good morals cover themselves from head to toe and to stop them tempting the poor weak men into bad ways. Only girls of loose morals dress prevocatively and because they are immoral they deserve anything they get.

Just how you change attitudes in a community led by a Religion that denigrates women and restricts their freedoms so much they have to dress head to toe in black, that sets their status as at the best second class, is beyond my comprehension. But until those attitudes change within those communities this problem will not go away.

Such attitudes allow so-called "honour killings", where the phrase is used to ameliorate what is murder. Cold. blodded. murder. In some instances in the most cruel way imaginable.

This is the problem with so-called multiculturalism. There's no problem with bringing certain aspects of culture with you when you come to the UK, as long as you understand there are some things we deem unnacceptable. Just like Saudi Arabia has a hard line on drinking alcohol, we should have a hard line on female inequality in the Muslim community.

It is not acceptable and the feminist community is surprisingly silent on the issue. It's not racist to promote female equality in a community where it is supressed. It's not racist to stand up for the standards that feminists have fought for for the past 100 years. To do so allows the slide back to the standards of the past.

Finally the Police need to be more aware of what is happening in these closed communities. When the far right state there are "no-go areas" in our town and cities, in essence they are right. There are communities in our country where the rule of law as you and me believe it do be do not operate. Sharia law is primary and UK law is secondary. There needs to be a drive to encourage more Police recruits from these communities and for those recruits through their superiors to develop the notion that behaviours that go against UK law will not be tollerated and that anyone that knowingly allows this to continue without informing the Police will also be subject to the full force of the law.

Friday, 28 July 2017

2040: End Date for Internal Combustion Engined Cars.

Well..... yes and no.

Much has been said over the past couple of days about how the abolition of petrol and deisel cars will leave only electric cars in the frame. A deliberate ploy to make the Conservative policy contentious and therefore another stick to beat them with.

Forgetting the French have made exactly the same promise. Forgetting that hybrid engined vehicles, which incorporate internal combustion engined elements will still be on sale. After all, we're not talking zero emissions vehicles. Yet.

So although vehicles powered soley by internal combustion engines will be outlawed, petrol and diesel engines will still be in cars for some time to come.  Okay maybe not diesel, because it's a crap fuel.

They have to be, because there is as yet no other power source that can deliver the range and flexibility of chemical reaction engines.

Right now the hybrid engine in Formula 1 are delivering close to 50% thermal efficiency, which in engineering terms is pretty bloody good. Soley electricaly-powered vehicles don't come anywhere close.

For instance, if we did go soley electric where does that electricity come from? Mainly fossil-fuelled power stations which are nowhere near close to being efficient. Not just the process from burning stuff, converting water to steam, turning the turbines. Yes that's inefficient, but also converting the electricity into a form that can be transported hundreds of miles. Every time that electricity goes through a transfopmer to step it up for transmission, or down to domestic voltages, some heat is lost in the process. That's why the transformers in your local substation are bathed in oil: to cool them down.

So, vast amounts of energy are wasted by converting fossil fuel to electricity. We'll just use renewables instead? Ah, but here the fickle nature of renewables rears it's head. We'll charge electric cars at night while we sleep, so they are ready to run in the morning. But the sun doesn't shine at night which discounts solar energy as a clean power source. Wind doesn't blow all the time, so what happens if the wind doesn't blow overnight and we can't supply the demand of all those electric cars suckling away at the national grid? Will drivers have to phone in work and take a day off?

No, we'll take a pragmatic view and have some sort of transitional arrangement rather than fall off a cliff in 2040. We'll allow hybrids and I'm sure will introduce legislation that drives manufacturers to ever more efficient combined power units a-la F1 until thermal efficiency is maximised to the limits of our technology.

Of course there could be an opening for hydrogen technology in all of this. Especially as after 2040 it will be ever more complicated and difficult to produce hybrids with the right qualities. Just ask Hondas F1 engine makers...

Hydrogen technology can be used to power fuel cell cars with zero emissions. Current internal combustion engines can also be modified to burn hydrogen if we wanted, although the cost and efficiency of producing hydrogen, packaging it in a way it can be transported and stored ready for transfer to vehicles is the big questionmark.

In any event, the sky is not falling. If car manufacturers can get F1 hybrid technology to work in road cars, it bodes well for the future.

Although the questionmark is still the electric part of the equation: batteries don't last forever. They wear out and the cost of replacing them in second-hand vehicles is still an unanswered question.

I have the feeling that the car market will eventually move to a lease-hire model, where you don't actually own the car, you just leae it for however long and then return it to the manufacturer. The car then get recycled. As batteries tend to last no longer than a decade, that would be the maximum amount of time before any new car gets crushed and recycled.

How green that model is compared to a petrol car that just needs regular maintenance for up to 200,000 miles and a couple of decades or more is another question that really needs asking. For instance my last car lasted for 180,000 miles and 18 years before I scrapped it, although had I the money it could have been repaired and still be on the road. It's just the cost was the same if not more than the market value of the car. The same goes for hybrids, it's just theat point comes rather quicker with cars that contain huge battery banks.

Is the push to electric actually an environmental one or a financial one? Are we being duped into paying more for something we don't need to pay more for?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

BBC Vow to close imaginary gender pay gap.

Now that the BBC have eventually released how much taxpayer's money they are overpaying so-called celebrities, a new row has emerged because the women are not being paid the same as their male counterparts.

The to-earning male, Chris Evans during the period his wages were calculated was doing a 5-day-a-week early morning radio show on Radio 2. 5 days a week, almost every week. He was also working on Top Gear, BBC's top earning programme. Of course what you see on the screen is a snapshot of the months of prior programme making out on location. So the Top Gear episodes could have taken several weeks to produce the 12 or so programmes aired.

Claudia Winkleman on the other hand was fronting Strictly Come dancing, which aired for a similar run of episodes, but being a reality TV programme more than likely only needed some rehersal in the week prior to Airing and no international travel.

She also fronted the Film programme, which again only needed local recording in the days prior to the actual airing.

No job that required her to present a programme on a daily basis.

So again, as with most claims of female pay inequality we're comparing Apples and Oranges. Hardly a smart move for the feminists hollering and shouting foul.

I'm all for equal pay for an equal job with equal circumstances, but like many claims before, it's spurious.

What are the BBC saying when they say they will "close the gap" between male and female pay? Will they start paying females for doing less work?

I've worked in jobs where males are paid different salaries for doing exactly the same job. Does that mean that EVERYONE'S salaries will be equalised? So will the BBC throw money at employees that have not asked for extra money? Will they force huge pay rises upon celebrities whose agents have not had the guile to negotiate the best deals?

Of course we know who will pay for this largesse of course: the taxpayer.


Sunday, 16 July 2017

Tony Blair Back Stirring Things Up.

It seems that Tony Blair appears to have acquired a new Superpower. Along with Making truth from lies and walking on water, he's able to see invisible things now and hear voices (although that last one may not be an entirely new power).

Apparently he can see and hear that the EU is now willing to do a deal on the movement of people in order to keep us in the EU. That's despite them not offering a deal when David Cameron asked for one, that's despite Michel Barnier explicitly stating the free movement of people is non-negotiable.

Now I know he has a track record of manipulating the truth, but when did an unequivocal "NO!" become a "YES!"?

It's a sure sign of desperation that the remainers will wheel out a known manipulator of the truth (he's too slippery to be called a liar) to state a position that is currently at odds with what Europe is saying. No-one with a modicum of sense believes him, he is despised by the right and the left of politics, hopefully no-one outside of his small corporate cabal of sycophants will take any notice of him.

Of course the remainiac BBC report on his ramblings and try to engender them with some sort of authority, but we all know the real truth.

Not the Tony Blair "truth".

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Death Knell for EU sounded.

Today's papers are full of the news that German industry has said it will put the single market before any deal with the UK regarding Brexit.

So what they are saying is they will put a political project before the livelihoods of their workers. They will jeopardise jobs for the sake of a political project.

Hopefully workers in France and Germany will wake up and realise that they are not as immune from the idiocy of the EU and that it does not work in their interest. Just as in Greece, Italy and Spain that the political project is primary: jobs, lives and the future of millions will be sacrificed all for the political project that is the European Union.

That my friends is why EU commissioners are not elected, why they create laws where they are immune from prosecution. They see themselves as Gods, above everyone and willing to sacrifice the lives of millions.They are not politicians in the true sense of the word. Their life is politics, but only for the furtherance of the EU. They do not work in the interests of their citizens which is why they are not elected. Otherwise they would be booted out in short order. To continue the juggernaut that is the EU, they have to be above that: unelected, untouchable, uncaring and (currently) unstoppable.

The warning signs were there long ago, but recently have been very much to the fore. Forcing countries to accept mass immigration, the financial shackles put on the Southern European countries and the imposition of technocrats... bringing Europe to the brink of war with Russia over the Ukraine, and now willing to risk the jobs of thousands of German and French car workers. Of course not those at the top, because if the EU imposes barriers to trading easily with the UK, then all we do is buy the same goods produced outside the EU. Cars are made all over the world. If we can get the same cars from plants manufactured in North or South America cheaper than EU-made cars, then that's what we will do. The car companies will still be paid, it's just the workers in the shrinking plants across the EU that will suffer.

And when the people in the North of Europe become to understand they are just as at risk as those in the South, that they are pawns to be sacrificed for the greater good, they will reject the EU just as we have.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Grenfell Tower Resident Car Crash Interview on Radio 4 This morning.

There was a resident from Grenfell tower on this morning's today program bemoaning the lack of response from the council in finding him alternative accommodation.

It really wound me up. The guy had been offered alternative accommodation, but refused it because it was only 2 bedroom instead of 3 bedroom and... get this... it was 15 minutes further away from Grenfell Tower and the local school etc.

Fuck Me! Only 15 minutes! I've had to take jobs in different fucking counties in order to make ends meet! My kid's school was 11 miles away from home because I lived in a small market town, with no help towards bus fare because all the kids went there. When I was out of work I had to sign on 15 miles away and wasn't paid bus fare to the job centre so was always £10 down on my benefits.

By the way, he's being accommodated in a hotel at the moment, he has a roof over his head. And I know even the shadiest hotel in London will not be cheap, because I've tried to book rooms before.

I just fucking pisses me off that people think they are entitled to an immediate response and put up in some ideal fucking home, all at the expense of the taxpayer.

Benefits are a safety net, they are not designed to give you the same level of lifestyle as someone who is working.

Social housing is there as a safety net to stop you being homeless. It will be basic, it may not fufil all your needs, but it is a roof over your head. It will not be something straight out of "Grand Designs".

If you have come to the UK from some foreign shithole, then I'd think you'd be grateful to receive anything where there are no bombs dropping, no armed militia killing your family members.

But no, it's up to the rest of us just managing low paid workers to pay fucking taxes and pay private rents so that you whinging fuckwits can DEMAND a fucking luxury pad in Kensington.

Good luck to you if you can wangle it, but allow me, who has lived a life and when needed been turned down for benefits and support and housing to have a fucking rant about how unfair your demands seem right now.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Shit...... Fan....... Popcorn.

Hidden amongst the current political chaos was the news that inflation has just hit 2.9 percent.

The fall of the pound increasing the cost of imports has been a major factor in the rise.

It all feels like being in a Seventies movie, with inept political figures galore and a looming financial crisis.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Mrs May Mortally Wonded

After the election Theresa May could possibly hang on for a few months, but I believe she is mortally wounded. Too much to carry on as PM.

She went to the polls to secure a larger majority, in an effort to secure her Brexit position and silence the chancers with their court cases and the Lords with their overtly remain agenda. An increased majority would have enabled her to stick two finger up at the meddlers and do things her way.

I can understand her frustration, but she failed to understand the mood of the people: fed up of austerity, fed up of the increasing gap between rich an poor, fed up of the shrinking opportunities available to those at the lower end of the social ladder.

When Jeremy Corbyn offered them the moon on a stick, they jumped for it. No matter what the price, they wanted it NEEDED it and they wanted it now. They wanted an easier life, the life they saw their parents and Grandparents have. Free further education, no more debts, all it needed to happen was to turn the screws on the rich a bit more. they couldn't wouldn't pay for it themselves. Syphon a little more cash from the job providers and all will be well.

Where the direction of UK politics lies after this is anyone's guess. Now the youth of the country have woken up to the power of the vote, it looks like the leaning of UK politics will be more leftwards. We are all a bit lefty when we're young: we want everything, want it now and the easier we can get it, the better. Hang the consequences and as long as someone else picks up the tab who cares?

Of course as we grow older, we understand the importance of work, of paying one's own way. We understand there is no free lunch and that the things the older people have, they have earned. We fear for our children and ant to protect them in the future. Make sure they have a better life and opportunities that we had.

The 2017 Spring election will be remembered as a turning point, the time that people embraced short-term

Friday, 9 June 2017

How the Problem of Polarised Politics caused Election Chaos

Well, the election results are in and it's quite clear Theresa May threw away a substantial majority and ended up with a hung Parliament.

When she called the election, it was hers to lose and lose she did, in spectacular fashion.

There are several aeras where she went wrong. First calling the election in the first place, u-turning after saying that she wouldn't call an election. Had the Conservatives laid the groundwork and said beforehand that having an election around the time the Brexit negotiations came to a head would cause problems, and then called it, there would be less of an issue. Issuing a surprise election in an effort to catch Labour on the hop didn't work. All Labour had to do was promise the Earth in return and substantial numbers of voters would sway their way.

The Tories failed to take the Labour policies to task and ask just where the money was coming from. Another mistake from the May team. They had a chance to demolish the Labour manifesto, but instead chose to keep spouting "strong and stable government" with no substance. Chancellor Phillip Hammond was significantly absent from the election, it was his team's job to go through the Labour manifesto and tear it to shreads. Instead Labour got away scott free and were able to promise the Earth with impunity. I just wonder if the mass exodus SpAds from number 10 and number 11 Downing street mortally wounded the Tories in this area. Or manybe it's a good thing for the future that these useless advisors get replaced for people able to plan a bit more.

The third mistake of team May was to alienate the pensioners. Failing to guarantee the triple lock on pensions, or to explain in detail what would replace it. Failing to be clear on tax rises

Being vague and leaving the electorate to trust the Tories is not a viable plan. People do not trust politicians.

If the Tories knew in advance they were calling an election, then they should have had the time to plan and present a fully costed and detailed manifesto. Instead we got wooly words and the famous "clarification" on the dementia tax. With a fully costed and planned manifesto and campaign, there wouldn't have had to be such a clarification, the details would be in black and white.

In the end the Tory manifesto tended to be all stick and no carrot, which lost them the voters that really wanted to vote for "better the devil you know" Theresa as opposed to "Silly Man" Corbyn. Arrogantly pushing voters away like that is not the way to win elections.

So, too many holes, too vague, no planning, no chancellor, u-turns, clarifications all added to the Tory demise. There was a sense that Theresa waas weak and washy, not strong and stable. It's almost as if they had arrogantly convinced themselves they could win the election without putting the effort in. It lost them a 20 point lead in the polls as the people punished them for yet another trip to the polls they thought was not necessary. 

Ironically there was also no counter to the Labour chant that the Tories benefitted the well-off and did nothing for the ordinary person. Back in the days of Cameron and the Eton elite, the Tories had no defence, but they could have countered it easily this time round but failed to. They could have quite easily pointed to the private education of the Labour front benches, but didn't.

As for ploarisation, it seems this election was an election of polar opposites. Young against old, rich against poor, haves against have-nots, Brexiteers against Remainers. I don't think in my lifetime I've ever seen an election so divided not on party lines, but on other lines.

The younth vote surged for Labour, thanks to social media and kids not remembering the catastrophy Blair and Brown's Labour party left us when they promised us everything we ever wanted.

The Pension vote, normally staunch Conservative, crumbled thanks to the badly thought out Tory policies on triple lock and social care funding.

Labour promised the Moon on a stick to everyone without the Tories pointing out that it will be those self-same people paying for said sticky Moon.

The Tories instead of having a backbone and a sense of convition, went into the election sleepwalking, without a clue. It doesn't bode well for the Brexit negotiations.

This is the worst of all results, with the Tories significantly weaked and a Marxist leadership in the Labour party emboldened by their gains.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Diane Abbott, Home Secreatary

Is a phrase we all need to be fearful of.

Not only can she not do numbers, or find her own way off a stage, but it seems she can't read.

I mean, as Shadow Home Sectratary, then you'd think someone would explain what the job of shadow home secretary entains and maybe, just maybe what reports she needs to read. If she's only up to the Peter and Jane books reading-wise,  then someone would brief her on the salient points of the Harris report.

But no, we have yet another car crash interview.

It's clear she's not fit for the post. Cabinet posts, even shadow ones are not for bluffers and piss-takers. They are serious positions and the person in-post should be on top of their bloody game.

It speaks volumes about the calibre of Jeremy Corbyn that he would employ such an incompetent into a senior post.

Maybe she's suddenly been afflicted with Altzheimers? Maybe that explains why she's suddenly been caught too ill to debate with Amber Rudd on Home Office Affairs. Despite looking as hale and healthy as someone her size can be.

I suppose it could be worse, she could be in charge of the nations health...

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Rock, Meet Hard Place......

Well, all the party manifestos are out into the public domain, so time will be taken to read them and eventually come up with the party I would most likely vote for.

The first thing that strikes me is that the tax take is due to rise, whichever party you vote for.

Labour: 1p on income tax to piss more money onto the raging money-bonfire that is the NHS.

Tory: When you get old we'll claw back your hard-earned assets bar the last £100,000.

As for fiscal prudence (remember Gordon Brown... anyone?) that's all gone out of the window.

Labour want to nationalise everything so their union chums can hold the country to ransom again, but won't say how they fonud the multi-billillion pound buy-up. Except we all know they will have to borrow sqillions to do it all. Money our Grandchildren will be paying back. The borrowing rates will be interesting given the foundations of sand created by quantative easing (or increasing the money supply as it was called in the 70's). Cue rampant inflation.

The Tories want to be a bit more circumspect. They make noises that they won't piss money away, but in the end over the past 5 years the national debt has gone up despite cuts in spending. The problem being the institutional overspending and inefficiency in government spending. Without correcting the holes, the money bucket will never be full, no matter how much you pour into it.

On education, Labour want to scrap tuition fees. High on my priority list with a daughter in university...

The Tories want to bring back Grammar Schools. Despite failing my 11-plus I do see a place for Grammar Schools and streaming the most able. I've only ever seen Comprehensive schools supporting the least able. I see nothing wrong with skimming off the top 20 or 30% into Grammars, supplying special schools for those less able and having schools catering for the vast majority. We need high flyers and we need schools able to cater for those that can't learn.

So despite being an over-50 adult with a natural proclivity to vote Tory, do I vote Labour? I mean, at least they'll push the debt downstream...

I haven't mentioned the other parties. Liberals, UKIP and Greens. Despite all the airtime they get, they are pretty irrelevant in this election. Sorry UKIP!

Monday, 15 May 2017

The Thatcherite legacy is not only the Tories Fault.

It really annoys me that Labour push themselves as the saviour of the NHS amongst other untruths.
That everything is Maggie's fault. Poor saps, they've never got over that woman and now there's another Tory female PM with a huge popularity rating.

Yes the Tories (but under John Major) introduced targets and with it an overburden of administrators to monitor adherence or not to the targets, but Labour did far more damage.

LABOUR'S Tony Blair was one of the most damaging Prime Ministers when it comes to the NHS. Saddling health trusts with expensive PFI deals that they are paying through the nose for, "reforming" GP contracts that just put up GP's salaries without any increase in cover and also allowing GPs to introduce expensive and impersonal out-of-hours services.

He also introduced no-win-no-fee legal access. In itself a great idea, ordinary people have access to legal redress and not worry about the expense. But the actual legacy is one of Ambulance chasers or Agressive lawyers suing everyone for the slightest thing.

Anna Racoon has started a crusade to enlighten people about the huge burgen that litigation has emburdened the NHS with. Out of a budget of £95Bn, £56Bn will be set aside for litigation. A wholly unsustainable situation where more is spend defending the NHS and settling lawsuits than is actually spent on medicine.

One of the big issues is the payments on these lawsuits is based on the victims of NHS procedures is based on the victim receiving further treatment privately, when the actual truth is they continue to receive treatment from the NHS that caused the issue in the first place.

In effect they bank the money and carry on getting free treatment. There is no mechanism to force people to use the money to get private treatment: the NHS doesn't have a mechanism for excluding people from treatment after suing them. There is also no mechanism to charge the person for treatment by the NHS, thereby getting that money back as the NHS treats them. there's no mechanism to get that money back if the victim dies: it becomes part of their estate. When in truth if they die, treatment ends and the reason for the money being provided ends. There is no clause to repatriate the money back to the NHS on their demise. The money is treated like a windfall for the family.

This dovetails into my previous blogs about the NHS spending millions on expensive cancer drugs, just to extend life expectancy by months, where that money can transform the lives of other patients for decades.

Tere needs to be more oversight of WHERE NHS money is being spent and most certainly SHOVELLING MORE MONEY AT THE NHS IS NOT THE SOLUTION.

Targets are not the solution. More targets means employing more staff to measure them: staff that are not employed in the business of care.

There needs to be an intelligent debate about the NHS budget, whether where it is going is delivering the best care for the country.

The media will dumb it down into a Labour/Tory public/private debate, when it really needs to be a more adult and detailed affair. As the people paying the bills, at the end of the day the media owe us a more accourate account of what is going on.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Human Interfaces

The Brexit thing between May and juncker takes me back to my I.T. days. Back when I worked in Interactive Voice Systems, I did a lot of research into human-machine interaction. I could write reams on how or why unsuccessful IVR systems are unsuccessful.

But the Brexit issues boil down to the same problems. Lack of undertstanding or empathy.

When writing the software for IVR systems, you need to understand the needs of the other party, the customer dialling into the system.

You also need to communicate your needs clearly, so they understand what is required of them to make the negotiation between them and the machine work properly.

You need to also undertsand the nuances of language both whilst communicating your needs and also during their interaction with you. It's so frustrating to talk to someone and for them to not acknowledge with some sort of response. We instantly become unsure as to whether our message has been heard.

In an IVR system, the simple addition of a "Thank you" prompt after each input signals that the machine has heard something. If that input doesn't match the system's requirements then should prompt there has been an error and ask for input again. In essence, the negotiation between the two becomes as natural as normal conversation, because the machine is programmed to respond with an approximation of human interaction.

The Brexit debacle between the UK and the EU is similar. Two poeple talking at each other without an particular empathy towards to other's position.

Theresa may is a leader, she doesn't need to enter into details, she will talk of the big picture, making big descisions and it's for junior ministers in government to action those ideas and take care of the details.

Junker despite his position, is no leader. He appropriates the concensus of others and aproximates leadership, but he doesn't have the ability to make big unilateral decisions. He's a beareaucrat, he loves the detail.

So, the two of them are talking at odds because they are talking about different aspects of the same issue, not because they disagree. Either they have failed to understand each other's different perspective, or the language and interpretation was a bit dodgy, or they just want to set out each other's position. They are talking at each other and not talking to each other. It is not a conversation, it is rhetoric, and for the medai to protray it as anything else is wrong. May is not in a different galaxy, nor is Juncker bombastic.

Either way, the media have now jumped on the bandwagon and portrayed it as a massive rift between the two sides, when actually there isn''t one.

It's going to be like this for the most part through the Brexit negotiations. Until two underlings of equal status and at the same level sit on each side of the negotiating table and start to work on the minutiae of the deals, only then will we get any sense of what actually the Brexit deal entails.

So, ignore anything coming out of the media for the next 18 months. They will play up the minutest difference in position, make mountains out of minute molehills, just to make headlines.

It ain't over until it's over.

Public Service.

I've touched on this before, the waste and the sense of entitlement in public services. One of the best examples of this was the case of  Katrina Percy. She was the boss of Southern Health, under fire for various reasons, but mainly a number of deaths during her tenure.

Under fire from the media and others she resigned from her £250,000 a year job and moved to a new consultancy job.....paying £250,000 a year. The consultancy job apparently didn't exist before she moved into it, the assumption being she was moved to get away from the media spotlight, but got to keep her salary. So it appears the Southern Health Trust decided to magic £250,000 a year from the wages pot to stop bad publicity. But not employ extra front-line staff. Quite a skewed sense of priorities there.

In the end after media scrutiny of her second job, she left Southern Health, but not without getting a £190,000 payoff.

I've previously mentioned my dislike of public servants being paid such high wages. But it also shows that the public service managers see the money not as taxpayer's money to be spent wisely and with care, but an entitlement than can be spent and used as they see fit, whether that gives the best benefit for the public or as with six figure salaries, not.

I dislike public bodies being run wholly on the private business model. Sure, running a public service in the most efficient way, making the money go further like you would in a company is a good model to follow. Even making a profit is a good thing as long as it is ploughed back into service itself.

However, management structure and six figure salaries, these are not in the public interest.

The board structure in most public services doesn't have the checks and balances a private company does. A private company has shareholders, who can overrule pay awards if they see fit. They can veto the appointment of board members too. Where is the same brake on excess in public services? Who has the power to sack board members if they underperform or curb pay excesses?

The case of  Sharon Shoosmith (salary a slightly less obscene £130,000 a year) who successfully sued Haringay council after they sacked her when Ed Balls, the then Children's secretary got involved, shows that even when these high paid higher-ups in public service lose the confidence of their board and/or the government, they can't be removed painlessly.

But these are not isolated examples. If you can get the information, look at the salaries at the top of council departments, Police, charities, health trusts and the like. There will be a lot of six figure salaries.

Unlike the private sector they get all the reward for nothing like the risk in the same position in the private sector.

In some cases such as the Rotherham sexual abuse case exposes the lack of real leadership and the ability to actually earn the salaries they get at the top of all of the different agencies all at once.. And at the top of all of these public bodies are people claiming six figure salaries. With very little by way of consequence when they bugger things up.

The abject waste of public funds supplying senior managers in public service with these massive salaries is wrong. All future governments should be working to reduce this excess and introduce checks and balances to ensure those at the top are actually earning the money the public pay them.  And have mechanisms to remove them if they are grossly negligent, incompetent or inefficient.


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Brexit: delusion on both sides.

As more comes out regarding the meeting between Theresa May and Jean Claude Junker last week, the more it seems that both sides are poles apart regarding Brexit.

May being dismissive of detail and wanting a more pragmatic approach to the negotiations, with Juncker taking the typical bureaucrat line and emphasising the detail and procedure. Exactly what you'd expect him to.

After all his type love to bind up negotiations in the minutiae of transactions. It's what they do, what keeps them in a lifetime of employment. Why would you complete negotiations in two years when you can continue to haggle and work on the finest of fine details for a decade instead? After all, it reduces the chances of you losing your employment if you drag things out like that. You only need to complete less than half a dozen negotiations at most to cover your working life.

It's not like they do a good job either. The migrant crisis showed that. They get bound up in the minutiae that much that they miss some really important things. Like what the procedure is when a million refugees turn up on your border. Do you (a) reinforce the border and supply funds to enable the countries on the border to hold and process the refugees (and immediately deport the non-genuine cases) or do you (b) refuse to plan for such an emergency, go wibble and ignore the fact that the border countries, unable to cope don't hold the refugees at the border and allow them unfettered access through Europe's open borders to travel across Europe without any checks. Yep, it's b.

It's also interesting that the talk from the EU side even before negotiations begin is of money. We are a huge contributor to the EU's coffers and without us the gap in EU finances would be huge. Not only that, Germany are staring at supplying the lion's share of money to fill the gap. No wonder Mrs Merkel took on board Junker's briefing and decided to chip in.

It looks like the EU are setting out their stall. They are happy for the UK to leave, but they are not happy for the UK's money to leave as well. It's all about the money. They are also ready to bind the negotiations up for years discussing minute details.

Of course they threw in the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK in an effort to look PC and protecting human rights, just like Merkel's statement on refugees. Then chucked in the spanner of the status of Northern Ireland to the debate.

So the EU want us to carry on paying for projects we have no control over, they want us to give full rights to EU citizens including benefits, with no way of claiming the money back off their respective home countries and they also want to muddy the water on the Irish situation. Do they want yet another land grab and subsume Northern Ireland into the EU, almost like Russia's annexation of Crimea? Do they want to grab Gibraltar as a payment for keeping the Irish border open?

The UK might find it's not as simple as they think to make agreements with the EU. It's looking more likely we'll leave the EU without a deal, which is what I already knew and voted for in the referendum.

What's sure is that we ain't seen nothing yet and for sure we don't need weak government on our side of the table.

The thing that gets me is if the EU is such a wonderful club to be in, why punish someone for leaving? Wouldn't leaving itself be punishment enough if it's so bad outside?


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Labour Party: the one-message party.

Now we have an election looming, I see that the same old mantras are being pushed by them.

1. The NHS is doomed under the Tories. Vote Labour, get a better NHS.

Not that it ever was better under the previous Labour government, the government that saddled the NHS with expensive Private Partnership deals. Words are not the same as deeds.

2. Labour is the party of the people.

Well, not for a long time. You see in the Labour heartlands, seats are so safe that MPs stay in power for a long time and let's say, get used to the trappings of Parliamentary privilege. The long-term Labour MPs are no better than Tories. Dining at expensive restaurants, being taxied here and there, getting houses funded by the taxpayer... Nice when you can get it, especially when the wages of us poor saps out in the real world are tanking.

The same goes for the bosses at the top of the Unions: free penthouse apartments, funded by the Union members, the same posh restaurants as the Tory and Labour MPs. It makes you sick that they would abuse their privilege this way.

Don't forget that Labour, despite being "The Party of the People" has been in bed with big business for a long time. Just look at how under the previous Labour mob the supply of income for workers transferred from companies to the taxpayer. Yes, I'm talking about in-work benefits, especially tax credits.

It's a great idea when you put it as a way of topping up already poor wages. Not bad, people on low wages with kids get their wages topped up by the government. This would be fine, if corporation tax was raised to pay for it, so that the companies that pay sub-standard wages in effect get fined for doing it. Instead it's paid for by you and me, the ordinary taxpayer. In effect robbing Peter to pay Paul. Those that qualify for tax credits are better off, but the rest of the taxpaying community who don't qualify are effectively worse off because our taxes are higher to pay for it.

The same goes for zero hours contracts and the minimum wage. First off, I can't understand why people on the minimum/living wage should pay tax. And I especially can't understand why someone on the minimum wage should then have their wages topped back up by tax credits. In effect they pay tax, only to have the government give it back to them.

The downside is that the administration of that process needs paying for. So instead of taking them directly out of taxation, a system which is already administered, they pay tax, administered by one team and then apply for a rebate with another team of people and then given that money back. Crazy.

The other downside is the gap between benefits and wages is huge. Getting a tax-free salary equates more closely to benefits, reduces the gap and makes working a better option.

To me it smacks of a Tony Blair job creation scheme, paying people to shuffle paper around. Usually farmed out to somewhere like Wales or the North-East.

The inequality of zero hours contracts needs to be abolished as well. People should not be subject to informal hours arrangements. Again the government i.e. the taxpayer is paying to allow companies to get away with not having regular contracts. If companies want irregular employees on tap but exclusive to them and not able to work anywhere else, then they should pay a retainer to that employee when not employed, effectively paying the benefit the employee would get directly to them instead of the government.

So, what do I want Labour to start doing?

Well, stop banging on about the NHS. It's as boring as the "Safe, Stable Government" mantra chanted by the Tories.

Labour need to stop criticising and start inspiring.

Lift the poor (those on minimum wage) out of taxation, outlaw zero hours contracts, raise corporation tax on large businesses to pay for that and in-work benefits (and actually say that's what it's for, rather than just clobbering business), look to professionalise the social care sector, with a long-term plan to bring it into the NHS.

Legislation could be introduced to link the biggest rise in corporation tax to those companies that use zero hours contracts, or large numbers of minimum wage earners.

Legislation to curb the abuse of union funds needs to be introduced. Again, the marketing of the plan is key: It's helping the members to stop abuse, not bashing union bosses for the sake of it. Union bosses should pay for their accommodation out of their six-figure salaries, just like every other union member.  Highlighting the issue will put a spotlight on the abuse and should get the support of every union member.

Free local councils to start building houses. Forcing them to just build social housing will not generate new houses as it's just a cost to them. Allow them to build a small percentage for private sale so that they can make a profit, but with the caveat that any money raised has to be ringfenced and ploughed back into the housing fund.

Put a cap on public sector wages. Create legislation to cap the top wage to a certain number of times the lowest wage. It's obscene that the taxpayer should be paying large six-figure salaries to council members no matter how high up they are. Public service is a vocation. If you're so good at your job then go and find your way in the private sector. I find that many in the top jobs in public service are not of the standard to justify the huge salaries, they've just appointed themselves the salaries and justified it on the basis of that's what is needed to attract people from the private sector, when no-one from the private sector is actually employed.

I would apply the same cap on salaries for charities, especially those that receive government funding. There should be no members of charities earning over £200,000 salaries. Even £100,000 seems excessive when it can supply a very good standard of living. Charity donations should not be paying for a lavish upper-class lifestyle.

By these measures, Labour can say it is cleaning up the inequalities in employment and making the working environment more equitable for the lower paid. Lowering the wage gap for organisations that take from the public purse will give the feeling to the lower paid that they are not being exploited

Taking the lowest paid out of taxation will provide a boost in living standards and will equalise the gap between benefits and work.

Making companies pay for in-work benefits will shift payment for work away from the taxpayer and back onto business.