Friday, 22 April 2011

Tough Shit Froggies! The Repercussions of Open Borders

Well, I said it the other day: when EU agreements threaten the sovreignty of Germany or France, the rules get changed.

Well, France want the Schengen agreement changed after the influx of Tunisian immigrants via Italy. 

Modifications to Schengen appear to follow other EU rules, in that there needs to be a majority of member states agreeing to the changes before they can be enacted.

So good luck to the French trying to herd those cats. Thats about how difficult it'll be to get those changes through.

There's still tacit support for asylum seekers trying to get from France to England, so its great to see them getting a taste of their own medicine. Especially as Tunisia is an ex-French colony so the bulk of the immigrants will most likely want to settle in France and not trouble us here too much in great numbers.

Do you think the French will suck it up and just accept things as they are? No, I don't either. Should be worth keeping an eye on.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Another Senseless Waste of a Bomb Disposal Expert

Yet another waste of a life, that needn't have been cut short. Another life of many in the Ordnance Disposal Section that the top brass seem to deem expendable.

The fact is in any job, statistically eventually you are going to make a mistake because you are human and fallible. If that job is defusing bombs that someone else has set to kill you, statistically the odds of surviving aren't good to start out with. Combine the two and throw into the mix the effort and stress of defusing bomb after bomb, day after day, in an active and hostile theatre of war anyone with any sense would see that the odds of surviving a tour of duty without death or injury would be be pretty slim. If the odds of surviving a tour are that low, its tantamount to asking or troops to do suicide missions.

Those who day after day, under such immense and unimaginable stress on behalf of their fellow brothers/sisters in arms continue to disarm IEDs with the certain knowledge of their low odds of survival deserve our utmost respect and admiration.

Its just a pity that such waste is senseless, when other hugely safer means of clearance can be used instead.
As long ago as World War Two, we had flail tanks: armoured vehicles that were used to clear mines, with very little risk from the occupants. Today, in our war zones,  we see British Ordnance Disposal staff walking in front of convoys, with no protection from IEDs and just a flak jacket to stop small arms fire.


Its about time our top brass wised up and changed tactics, rather than put our troops under such stress. A female bomb disposal expert being killed might highlight the issue and make a difference, although it shouldn't. I just wonder if at some point, under such unimaginable mental stresses, we'll get the first bomb disposal expert to send a letter home to say they deliberately set off an IED to kill themselves.

It doesn't have to happen: years ago DOTR provided an alternative solution, the d-9 armoured bulldozer. The Americans are using the breacher, a bulldozer/tank hybrid. UK forces have an equivalent called the Trojan.

We could quite easily use such vehicles to clear main routes to and from bases. There is no need to endlessly patrol back alleys and risk the lives of our soldiers in such obvious ambush territory. If one of our bases is being attacked, send out an armoured convoy with the breacher in front directly to the enemy position and engage them. That bomb disposal experts and their fellow comrades are being sacrificed to end their days in some dusty alleyway in order to prove a point by supporting endless, pointless foot patrols just seems to be a waste.

Our armed forces are at their best when they innovate, invent and integrate new strategies into their operations, putting the enemy on the back foot. Its about time our top brass disengaged from their 1914 mentality and engaged the mentality and strategy of 1944.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

"Could"? "Could"? I'd say its an absolute neccessity:

David Cameron says he could veto Gordon Brown's move to the IMF.

I'd say it should be a cast iron guaran.... no hang on... bad wording.

I'd say it should be a certainty. Not because in my opinion Gordon Brown is the most incompetent Prime Minister this country ever had, but also because if he was allowed to move to the IMF it would stink to high heaven.

During his tenure, Gordon Brown watched over the biggest bailout of private companies in this nation's history. Hundreds of billions of pounds were sunk into the banks, which were in essence companies. Those companies, when they were solvent, paid dividends to private shareholders. They did not contribute to the coffers of the treasury other than the tax revenue they paid, like any other company.

The government's obligation, if it had any, was to secure the money invested in the acounts of the high street banking arms of the big banks. It didn't have any obligation towards the casino style investment banks, yet Gordon Brown oversaw their bailout and rescue.

What he should have done is let the insolvent banks fail, compensate high street bank account holders and then let the solvent banks pick over what was left.

In that one act, he consigned us to decades of austerity rather than a short, sharp shock.

So not only is Gordon Brown in my opinion unfit to hold even the lowest job in any financial institution, it also sends the message that a senior minister... THE most senior minister in the land, can divert huge amounts of the countries capital into saving an insolvent industry that didn't need to be saved, then having "saved" that industry, leave his ministerial position for a while and take a senior job in that very industry.

If that isn't tantamount to corruption and misuse of ministerial powers, I don't know what is.

And for those pedants, I don't care that we didn't bail out the IMF. I'm more concerned with the cosiness of his relationship with the banks, which obviously influenced his decision to waste so much taxpayers money.
Back room deals with big bankers are obviously not the exclusiveterritory of the Tories. The sooner Labour voters wise up to the fact that none of the traditional working class heroes like the Labour party and the Unions are run for their benefit any more and are just out to exploit the very people they're supposed to stand up for, the better.

Anyway, back to the original point: I'd appreciate it if Gordon Brown wasn't given a feather-bedded retirement nest-egg of a job thank you very much. In my opinion sack cloth and ashes are far too lenient for the misery he's going to cause my children and grandchildren for decades to come. For the first time I think in a very long time, I'm a member of a generation that can look forward and see a less prosperous future for my offspring. Thats a fucking depressing thought I can tell you, and I know who's to blame.

And no way does he deserve a fucking cushy job at the IMF.

AV: Just a Waste of Time and Money

As the Av debate hots up, its interesting to note that the yes/no camp haven't split on party lines, but instead we see members of different parties sharing on the same platform.

Never before in history have we seen what we're seeing now: the true face of UK politics.

To be honest the supposed choice that AV brings is in effect no choice when the parties themselves are microns away from each other in terms of policy and ability.

The major parties now occupy a small space of ground somewhere near what is colloquially called "the centre" of politics. However, that "centre" drifts about daily, chasing populist policies based on the latest opinion polls and focus groups, making it almost impossible for voters to distinguish a clear mandate to vote for.

To be honest all politics in the UK does these days is a lot of talk and a lot of small tinkering, in order to keep up the illusion of being a sovreign state. Look behind the Westminster punch and judy show, you'll see that most of the major political decisions are made wholly outside of the UK and mandated for the UK government to follow (for example ECHR rulings), or in partnership with external political organisations (The EU, NATO, the UN, etc). There is very little real politiking for our government to do, hence the encroachment into areas of our lives where historically government has never been, and should never intend to be, all in an effort to be seen to be "doing important stuff" and look busy.

For an example of how unimportant the governments of EU member states are these days, takle a look at the Belgian situation, where they continue to carry on without a government in power month after month. Its also an extreme example of the effects of proportional voting systems which force situations which require a coalition government. So far there hasn't been an agreement between parties and therefore no government.

Now, along comes AV and supposedly brings about "choice". What its really all about is locking small parties out of the electoral process and reducing democracy. You can bet your bottom dollar that if accepted, the AV rules will try and push out or make it extremely difficult for the small parties and single independant candidates to run for election to seats in Westminster. Instead we'll be sidelined into local politics, without the power devolved to the regions in the EU or even our Welsh, Scottish and Irish governments and assemblies.

The AV vote is also about distraction: its distracting you away from the sameness of Uk politics, its distracting you away from where the real power lies (the EU) and its distracting you away from the real debate, which is whether we should be in the EU at all. Its a poor substitute for the referendum on the EU that David Cameron promised us before the Lisbon treaty.

All in all, despite my disgust at UK politics, I will be voting no to AV next month. Because I want real change, real options, real democracy; not the sham replacement the ruling elite want to dazzle us with and hijack for their own ends.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Is the EU starting to Implode?

Its maybe too much to wish for, but the Greater European Project seems to be fraying at the edges at the moment.

Economically, things don't look too good, with a number of poorer countries locked into bailout packages financed by the larger EU partners. The thing is, how long will prudent German savers put up with bailing out poorer EU countries who spent trillions trying to emulate German lifestyles? Will those poorer countries accept the draconian fiscal belt-tightening required as part of the bailout deal?

Currently it seems a very fragile situation, with the people of Greece rebelling against the austerity measures required by the larger European partners.

Borders are also currently a bone of contention at the moment, with Italy testing the patience of its European neighbours by handing thousands of Tunisian immigrants residency permits, which allow them to travel throughout the EU. France has already retaliated by stopping Italian trains at its border and Germany is threatening to reintroduce checks at its border with Italy.

In the days before the expansion of the EU, something would have been done about this because when France and Germany were affected, the rules were changed to suit them. Since the Lisbon treaty, things have changed, with France and Germany no longer having as much say in the running of the EU project.

Maybe Germany and France will throw their toys out of the pram and it'll really start to unravel. But I do have the feeling that these so-called "bailouts" are a way of buying influence around the EU, attempting to subvert the processes that give member states an equal say in the running of the EU and thereby regaining the dominance of Germany and France.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Another Military Security Leak.

In yet another example of how our government seems not to give a flying fuck about the security of military secrets nor be anywhere near competent enough to understand the ramifications of security breaches, the BBC have a story about how a document about UK nuclear subs could have its redacted parts reinstated.

Those parts gave great detail about our subs and also U.S. subs that should not be in the public domain.

Given my previous post about Chinese workers helping to build our carriers and the fact ministers were expressing a wish to have them built cheaper abroad and the news this week that yet again our forces are being put in harms way without the proper support,  I'm of the opinion that our government isn't fit to be trusted with any military matters. Whilst things are allowed to continue as they are, we will continue to see consistent failures in our military adventures.

Of course they will be spun as successes, but the evidence is opposite, where we've had to do deals with opposing forces in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to maintain peace.

Our government seems to have forgotten we go into military conflicts to win, to establish a decisive victory, not to settle for some uneasy stalemate.

Currently it seems, our military forces are so hamstrung by government and its procedures and processes, stalemate is all we can ever acheive.

Secondary to all of this of course is other government information: if they can't be trusted to keep the most secret military information secure, how is less secret information treated? Of course we all know, the loss of discs containing tax and benefit data shows the utter contempt government has for the information it gathers.

From the DVLA giving out driver and vehicle data to any tom dick or harry that wanted it, to unsecured data held in insecure conditions, it would appear that any information held by the UK government is up for grabs.
Even our elected representatives, our own MPs are so dellusional they are happy to have foreign nationals handle sensitive military data and don't see the harm in it.

This contempt for our military secrets has to stop.

As an aside, we've just had the most prying census ever, asking a number of questions that to me, seem to be absolutely no business of the government. Especially considering how the government handles that data, do they really have the right to ask for it?