Sunday, 29 December 2013

Government Size Nines and Runaway Inflation.

I did blog a few years back that thanks to quantative easing that when the recovery came, we'd be staring at runaway inflation. Well, it looks like my fears are now gaining traction in the mainstream and that with even a slight (hundredths of a percent) improvement in the economy, the debate instantly flips to keeping a lid on inflation.

Well sorry, it won't happen. You can't keep a lid on natural forces. You pump funny money into the economy, you reap the rewards. Its a money bubble created by pumping money that wouldn't normally exists into the economy.

Just as the government is pumping money into the housing market and thereby inflating house prices (especially in London).

I blogged early on in the credit crunch that house prices were inflated by as much as 30% over what they should be in a normal market (way more in London). Cheap loans pushed the price up way beyond a sustainable level. House prices should be no more than three times the average wage at any state of the economy, but thanks to downward pressure on wages and cheap loans house prices are now running around 5-6 times the average wage. Its unsustainable and cannot be justified.

Of course Labour loved it because while they were surfing the cheap credit wave people felt as though they were more affluent than they actually were. I mean, how affluent are you if you have an asset that no-one can buy?

The mortage deposit scheme where the government guarantee part of the deposit on a house (any house, including second homes) is just stoking an already inflated fire. But that's what happens when the government put their size nines into anything: it just causes more trouble.

The course is set in only one direction now: the government are going to use inflation is a tool to reduce the effective level of debt. The bad news is that inflation has a way of avoiding control as countless governments in the past have found out. It also means that effective wage levels will reduce even further compared to day-to-day costs.

Those in the retail sector (like me) are going to find the next decade extremely tough as personal spending gets squeezed by rapidly increasing mortage costs, increased energy costs and lower effective wages. Start hunting for those niches people, because to survive you'll need one.

Those not able to adapt to the changing conditions will not survive. Those of you that took my advice from two years ago and reduced your personal debt will have a better chance of survival as you will not have the extra burden of increased lending costs on top of the rest of the misery we're facing.

Sad to say I was right years ago.

Monday, 9 December 2013

What's Up With Education.

There was a bit of a debate on education last week and why the UK has slipped down the global table.

Its easy to see the reason: decades of Political dogma have hamstrung the education system to virtual paralysis. Teachers are not allowed to teach with any element of flair. As with all walks of life these days there is too much control and measuring and not enough actual doing of the task. In this case education. The same malaise has stricken the NHS where meeting targets is promoted above actual results.

Kids are taught to pass tests and not educated. There is a difference.

Teachers are supposed to teach all kids across the spectum, regardless of their ability.

Schools are required to take all comers, regardless of ability, regardless of disruptive behaviour, basically without any regard to the job in hand.

Education needs to get back to basics and an element of common sense needs to be involved.

First off, what was the problem with streaming? Some people may have a hang-up about failing the 11-plus but I never did. I still got to run my own company and work as a highly-paid contractor and manager without the supposed privilege of Grammar School. Sure the Secondary Modern I went to was grossly underfunded, but I was still educated by a highly motivated team of teachers. I maintain to this day that primary school was the biggest influence on whether I succeeded or not.

Teachers need to be motivated. They need to be in their comfort zones in order to teach enthusiastically and its the enthusiasm that rubs off on kids.

So scrap this one-size-fits -all dogma. Lets bring back streaming. Lets have the bright kids taught by teachers that enjoy teaching bright kids. Those that thrive and enjoy the challenging kids should stay in their comfort zones too. Why not have specialists? Or is the word Special-ist too elite-ist for the lefties?

Its time the dogma was put down. Education should be above all of that.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Give them an Inch and They Want to Take a Mile...

Safety campaigners are no saying they want hands-free mobile phones banned.

Its pretty typical of safety campaigners, they like spoilt children: give in to one thing to appease them and they want more.

They say you're more likely to have an accident if you eat, drink or smoke in a car. Well talking hands free is just like having a passenger in the car . Will they want them banned too? Forget that, they will, because they've already wanted passengers banned from the cars of new young drivers.

Those of us that have driven a car full of kids (the worst kind of driving distraction known to mankind) will just laugh in the face of all this nannying. We know what REAL driving distractions are.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Objectifying the Unemployed

This BBC report about tough new sanctions issued by Jobcentres causing real problems for Jobseekers made me raise an eyebrow.

When I lived in Bicester an on Jobseekers, they closed the Bicester Job Centre and I had a choice of which Jobcentre I wanted to report at. Now if you look at Bicester, you'll notice its a town totally unattached to any other town. The nearest Job Centre is Oxford, probably 15 miles away, the next nearest is Banbury 17 miles away and then you have Aylesbury 18 miles away..

Getting to the job centre was a chore in itself because bus fares are not cheap. At the time to get from Bicester to Oxford and back was around £5: note you don't get paid travelling expenses towards reporting at the Job Centre to sign on. If you take that out of Jobseekers allowance you're already around 20% worse off than Job Seekers elsewhere that can walk to their Job Centre.

Now if the Job Centre is putting pressure on Jobseekers to continually attend meetings there, it inevitably eats into the allowance you get. Not only that if you miss these meetings because you can't afford to spend half your allowance on bus fares, you now get penalised and your benefit is removed. So how exactly are you going to pay for food? Food banks have seen a huge rise in demand and I'm not surprised.

I just wonder how long it takes for the first person to snap and start a killing spree in a Job Centre they see as oppressive and denying them basic survival?

I mean, so what if you end up in prison on a life sentence, at least you're going to be fed and kept warm.

The lesser of two evils: except along the way  Job Centre Workers will lose their lives. Just you watch.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

HS2 - Too ambitious for England?

I'm watching the current debate on HS2 with a little laughter. The thing is, the time for huge capital projects such as HS2 has long since passed in this country. Sure we can build an Olympic Park, but a railway line from London to the North? Really?

The thing is the planning process in this country ties projects like this up in knots for years which means costs spiral out of control, far beyond even the wildest current estimates which are already fantastical. The truth is that HS2 will not provide the billions in benefits that its supporters say it will. It will be, as with other European high speed lines, a vehicle for the upper middle class to enjoy, far from the reach of the majority.

Of course despite the cost, despite the lack of benefits, the high speed white elephant will be built, because it has to be built.

Its an elitist project, decreed by the home of the undemocratic elite, the EU. They demand that all EU states build interconnected high speed elitist rail links to all the major cities of the EU. There is no benefit to the masses, there is no sense in spending the billions in compensation ploughing a furrow through the London suburbs and the mainly middle-class Chilterns beyond. Politics demands it be built, against all common sense.

You can tell its a political project decreed by the EU because of all the political posturing in Westminster. All sides know the thing is out of their control: they are being told to build it. The previous Labour government started the ball rolling and if it were just a Labour project, the coalition would have canned it and gained huge support in their middle-class heartland. Instead they press on, because they have to. Labour are now distancing themselves from the project so they can take pot-shots at the government despite knowing full well that if they win the next election they would have to do exactly the same as the coalition are doing right now.

The various future governments are tied into pissing billions away on a project nobody (but the elite) needs, that nobody (in England) wants and that no-one (in England) will benefit from nor can afford. If ever there was the definition of a political project, this is it.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Parliament Vs Press Pissing Contest Continues.

The bald fact is that neither the press nor Parliament want a truly independent press watchdog which is the reason for the protracted pissing contest we've had over the past few weeks..

The press don't want to lose control over "their" watchdog and so wail an plead that a watchdog that is not in their pocket is an afront to age old and hard-won press freedom. They state that the Royal Commission will be filled with government stooges who will be controlled from Westminster.

Parliament say that the press need to be reigned in as they were out of control and their toothless watchdog didn't have any control of them. They say that the Royal Commission will be independent and will no be controlled by government.

Now both sides are both right and wrong in this matter.

A truly independent watchdog is what the press needs to control the excesses we've seen in the supposed phone hacking affair. Now, I've seen the gutter press at work on normal people: wrecking lives and intruding massively into affairs that should stay private, just for a second or third page saucy small-column headline. That's not good journalism.

That sort of behaviour needs to be moderated. By all means when people break the law, or when a politician does something that their constituents should be told about, then the press should get stuck in and make these things public.

BUT: a Royal Commission run by government lackeys and the usual old-boy's network is not the right vehicle to do it, nor are the heinous rules that say that a person can make a malicious claim against a news agency outside the Commission's "protection" and still get their legal costs paid for.

Our press needs something better, truly independent and free from influence from BOTH sides.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Government Energy Policy Starting to Backfire on Politicians

I'm currently a SSE customer and today I received a letter from the company advising me of the rise in energy prices.

Unusually, the letter lays the reasons for the rise firmly at the door of successive governments.

It says: "We've worked hard to keep prices at their current level and delay an increase for as long as possible, but unfortunately we will have to put your energy prices up on 15 November 2013. There are many reasons for this, including the rising cost of energy efficiency programmes, support for low-carbon energy and help for vulnerable customers. While we support the aims of these Government-sponsored initiatives, they do come with a cost. In addition, the need for investment means the cost of using the electricity and gas networks has increased, and the cost of the energy we bought for this coming winter is higher than it was from the same period last year."

Hmm, Drawing a line in the sand? This far an no further government meddling in energy company affairs? Pointing the finger squarely at the reason for price increases? Or just sour grapes that they're being made scapegoats?

All I will say is get yourself a portable heat source and some battery-powered lighting. Forewarned is forearmed and reading between the lines I see interesting times ahead as we get to see who eventually backs down. Expect the full arsenal of energy cuts to be enacted in support of the energy companies power play.

How the government reacts will be interesting given that their hands are tied by EU energy policy. Can they react, can they change policy, are they allowed by their EU masters?

It seems both ships are lashed firmly on a collision course. Batten down the hatches and brace for impact!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The End of the Minimum Wage?

So yesterday the Conservatives at conference suggested that the unemployed should work for their dole money or attend job centres all week.

So that means the end of the minimum wage, because why would firms pay the minimum wage when they can get someone for free, paid for by the government? Even if the firm the "unemployed" person was working for was contributing something, I assume it would be a whole lot less than the minimum wage.

Of course there will be caveats: the work will be short-term (of course the position will be long term, it'll just be the people doing it that will be employed on short-term contracts, which will entail much shuffling in and out of unemployed people), or something similar.

Friday, 27 September 2013

AR5: More Patent Propaganda

The AR5 climate report has (sort of) been released. Well the report's conclusions have been released and spread far and wide, but as with anything related to the climate change agenda, the detail will be late coming to the table.

Despite the alarmist propaganda on the news this evening, the UKs weather has not suddenly turned extreme: I'm old enough to remember when it snowed and stayed snowy and cold for weeks. Every winter.

I remember when it rained solid for days and days, I remember winds that brought down brick-built factories.

I'm only 51 and all the above have happened in my lifetime; can the collective memory of the country be so completely erased or manipulated as to think that this wasn't the norm? I guess if the news tells the population its extreme weather they'll believe it.

Earlier this week it was reported that glaciers were melting more rapidly not because of increased CO2, but because of soot from fires making the snow less than white and less able to reflect heat, causing increased melting. Now that to me is a more simple and straightforward mechanism than the fallacy that is the greenhouse effect.

CO2 is a miniscule gas, in miniscule amounts, being a gas, its "weight" in the natural world is negligible, having very little energy in itself and causing very little effect. Water vapour has more weight and has a more drastic effect on climate both local and global. Spray a mist of water over yourself on a sunny day and instantly realise the cooling effect. In the atmosphere water vapour has several times more ability to affect climate than a gas.

Climate is self regulating: Stand on a beach on a sunny day and watch the water vapour rise from the sea. The same thing happens on a global scale, the oceans when heated release billions of tonnes of water vapour into the atmosphere and begin to cool the atmosphere down again. It works, and its far more potent than CO2.

I'm convinced that global warming, climate change or whatever its called this year is a global con hatched by the elite, the king-makers, those that control those in power in order to what they consider "re-balance" the global economy. Way back when they had all the power and the money and we were just serfs. Two world wars wiped out the labour market and just like the black death before it became an equalising force. Serfs could demand more from their masters and the masters had to cough up.

Now we have a global cash-cow with everyone being milked for money: corporations forced to buy carbon credits from brokers who are literally making money from thin air. Its THE most glorious scam ever. Don't buy into it.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Cynthia Bower: What to do with her.

Easy: removal of all pension privileges and rights from her previous employment.

Termination of her current employment.

The woman should never, ever, be paid a penny from the public purse again.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Great Tax Debate

David Cameron has today announced progress with offshore havens to bring them into line and close loopholes against what the BBC calls "tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance).

Now strike me unimpressed, mainly because I'm not sure what the difference is between "normal" tax avoidance and the aggressive kind. Sounds more like hyperbole to me.

The thing is, if the corporations reducing their tax burden are doing so illegally, then prosecute. If you don't like them reducing their tax burden using perfectly legal means, then change the law. The only reason not to change the law, is that there are people that you are quite happy to let use those self-same loopholes, whilst castigating others you deem unsuitable.

That, to me smells very much like abuse of privilege or corruption.

But David please, please stop whining on about companies doing something they are legally entitled to do unless you're happy for everyone to stop using those same loopholes. Just change the fucking law.

Of course it could be he hasn't the fucking authority to do anything about it because its not his jurisdiction any more, the sackless wanker. EU rules allow companies to locate their head offices in any EU country and its common sense they will locate it in the EU country charging the lowest corporate tax rate. Yet another open goal UKIP refuse to put the ball into.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Ethical Spies: Useful as a Chocolate Fireguard?

Thanks to the emerging scandal that is PRISMGate, today the Foreign Sectretary has gone on record and announced that our spies are totally ethical, working within a plethora of legality and staying within the law.

Now it seems to me absurd that (a) the Foreign Secretary has been forced to issue such a statement and more importantly (b) our spies are required to work within the framework of the law.

Spies are probably the only branch of the government that I would say its a requirement to occasionally cross the line and work illegally. I mean, if you ask someone to spy on their own government, isn't that acting contrary to that countries laws? If you order a terrorist to be "taken out" is that not murder? If you steal secrets from a government or a foreign company, is that not theft?

To be brutally honest I don't think the Foreign Secretary's statement can actually hold water, as somewhere at some time someone in the employment of our security services must have crossed the line into illegality. If they haven't, we have the weakest and most ineffective spies in the world, hamstrung as they are by our ethical legal framework.

Of course as I mentioned this is all spawned by the revelations regarding America's PRISM project, which attempts to capture the records of various online and telephonic connections. Its been established for a long time that social networks are key to understanding the nature of threats to national security. For instance suspect A talks to B who regularly converses with C, D and E, who then talk to other groups, ad infinitum. The thing is, the information helps to discover new threats that may not have been apparent before.

The real problem is that in order to work out these networks in a timely manner, ALL connections have to be recorded and stored so that previous connections can be tacked back once a new connection is made. SO that makes ALL OF US suspects, because we all have to be monitored.

That's right: our governments consider all of us suspects. Basically the game has changed, no longer are we innocent until proven guilty, we are now all suspected of being guilty until proven guilty. 

This all reminds me of something that happened almost two decades ago: I was working for an American Company specialising in Computer Telephony, including speech and voice recognition. We were having problems with recognising UK accents and I was looking up some specs when I stumbled upon an intriguing article about a large scale speech recognition system. Now known to be part of Echelon, a system that can identify key words and phrases in online and voice communications.

The current line is that PRISM is nothing to worry about because it only records call connections, not the actual calls themselves, but the logical conclusion is that PRISM roots out the call connections and Echelon monitors connections once identified by  PRISM. All automatically and encompasing literally hundreds of thousands of connections globally.

Its not just communications that are under surveillance. Our movements are too. In the UK and other countries, the movement of vehilces is tracked by a national ANPR network (the little cameras that now stand at the borders of most small towns and cities).  In recent murder cases I've noted that very quickly the Police can establish the movements of suspect vehicles, supposed thanks to witnesses. Nope, its down to the national ANPR network that tracks the comings and goings of vehicles at the main arteries into and our of towns and cites and also at major road junctions.

Couple all of this with current advancements in face recognition technology, its not the realm of the tinfoil-hat-wearer  to understand that if necessary the authorities already have the power to know where you are, all the time, who you talk to and what you talk to them about.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

NHS,The flipside. Emergency Services.

Last week I had another taste of NHS services at Portsmouth's Queen Alexandra Hospital.

So lets start at the beginning. My wife was pretty ill, with a high temperature and no very with it. I Googled the doctors surgery for the out of ours number and it came up with the dreaded 111. Yes, the very number we've been told has a horrendous reputation and was a catastrophe for the Government.

Well, to be honest the 111 service was fine. I explained the wife's symptoms, who by now was adding to the atmosphere of urgency by ranting deliriously in the background. To his credit the 111 operator made (I think) the right call and didn't quibble about bumping the call up the chain to the Triage centre at the AQ Hospital. I got a call back from them within two minutes and explained the symptoms. Quite rightly they first wanted me to bundle her in a car or taxi and take her up to hospital, but as I explained her symptoms we agreed she wasn't fit to travel that way. The bad news was (I was told) that it could take up to 6 hours for the doctor to make his visit. I still didn't relent and said I'd be happy to wait.

Now let me say that my impressions of the 111 service are that it works. I didn't have any expectations, other than I needed my wife to be seen by a GP at home. The 111 operator was professional, asked the correct questions and came up with a reasonable response in that the call would be passed to a medical professional. I was called back so quickly that it took me by surprise. The nurse or doctor calling quite rightly emphasised that my wife would be treated quicker if I could get her to hospital under my own steam, but was quite happy to book a visit by the on-call GP.

The GP arrived within the hour and took about 15 minutes to assess my still delirious wife. He made a few phone calls and booked her into the Medical Assessment Unit at the QA. He also booked an ambulance to take her up there as he was also of the opinion she couldn't be bundled into a car. He wrote us a letter to hand over to the MAU detailing his findings. He diagnosed septicaemia and said she needed IV fluids and antibiotics as quickly as possible.

The ambulance turned up within 30 minutes and she was scooped up and laid out on the stretcher for transport to hospital.

Again, I have no issues thus far. The doctor had arrived in a fair amount of time considering my wife wasn't an emergency case, despite her temperature and delirious state. However, this is where the system falls down. No fault of the 111 service, but a problem with the Emergency Service at the QA and probably most hospitals. The Ambulance crew were already sceptical about her being admitted to the MAU, as it had happened lots of times where they had accepted patients from GP referrals when a bed was not available, hoping a bed would be freed by the time the patient arrives. Of course if bed blocking occurs higher up on the wards, then this isn't possible. It also means that the ED becomes overwhelmed as they can't bump assessed patients up the chain for treatment.

We duly arrived at the QA and as the doctors note had said she was booked in to the MAU, we took her there and guess what, no bed, which means my wife has to start right back at the beginning, to be re-assessed by the ED.

We arrived in the ED to what one nurse described to me as organised chaos. And that's exactly what it was. In a "we've done it many times before" fashion, the scene in ED was about ten trolleys stacked up in the handover area, and at least another twenty trolleys-worth of patients stacked up in the corridor between the reception and the actual ED. Because there weren't enough nurses on staff to cope with that number, the Ambulance staff had to stay behind to manage patients until they could be handed over to ED staff. At one point there were 4 ambulance crews stuck at ED, each crew responsible for 8 patients.

To their credit everyone did their jobs professionally. My wife had hourly observations, so her condition was monitored. By the Ambulance crews for the first hour and then the ED nurses once we'd got to the handover point which was about half way down the corridor and about 2 hours time-wise.

On the second hourly observation it was noted my wife's blood pressure had dropped and by now she was semi-concious. It was decided she needed to be bumped past the falls and sprains and into the smallest Emergency Department I've seen. I didn't count them but there were approximately 10 cubicles in the department and that's being generous.

There were also a couple of side rooms, where my wife was put. The bad news is it was still another 30 minutes or more after she was admitted to the ED proper that a doctor came in and did the self-same tests our GP had done 4 hours earlier and came to the same diagnosis. Appropriately my wife was administered IV Saline and Antibiotics and an two hours later admitted to a ward..

So after all of that, I just wonder what the 111 service is for? It had gone quite smoothly up until the point my Wife needed to be admitted to hospital. Why would the MAU accept her on the phone from the GP but then refuse her 30 minutes later? Especially as it seems to be a regular occurrence according to the Ambulance staff.

Why doesn't the MAU have a holding area where referred patients can be held pending admittance without having to be bumped back down to the ED?

Why then bump her back down the list to ED effectively putting her back to square one where all the GP's observations had to be done all over again proving a waste of his time? Not only that it put her life in danger as the drop in blood pressure was an indication she was going into septic shock?

Why was the ED so pitifully small? For a general hospital serving a large metropolitan area it seemed crazy to have such a small department. Especially if it means Ambulance crews are tied up monitoring patients when they should be attending cases outside the hospital. I would guess 4 Ambulance crews is a large proportion of the crews on hand that day.

So, despite my glowing report the other week about my diagnosis and care after my stroke it seems there is still lots to do in the NHS. It just depends where the money is being spent and what the priorities are. I assume that all depends on what criteria are being monitored by government at any one time.

As an aside, had my wife's blood pressure not dropped, we would have been waiting over 3 hours to get to the ED. Funny that, given the Government's target for ED admission times is 4 hours. Just another indication that in Government when you set limits and measure things, what invariably happens is things are precisely designed to those limits.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Mortality and NHS Efficiency.

Over the past couple of days I've been able to sample NHS efficiency first hand and I must say that in the area relating to strokes, at least in Portsmouth there is good news.

Yeah, get me, having a stroke, at 50. This is one milestone I'm not too happy to get to before my time.

But anyway, I must praise the team at Havant Day Service and at the QA Hospitals TIA clinic. I stepped into the day service reception at 10:00am Yesterday and got a slot at the TIA clinic by 3pm. I'd had my assessment, seen a specialist and had my appointments for today booked and also had my bloods taken by 4:30 when I left the hospital.

Today I had an MRI scan and had a vascular assessment done by lunchtime. Back up to the TIA clinic in the afternoon and confirmation that the loss of feeling I've experienced in my left hand is indeed the result of a mild stroke. Plus there's evidence of a couple more in the past that have gone unnoticed.

The longest wait seemed to be to get medication from the hospital pharmacy which took an hour. Medication, which cost me nearly £23! It shows how long its been since I needed to purchase a prescription, I'd forgotten you don't pay per prescription, but actually per item on the prescription. Maybe its the first drug cocktail I've ordered up and I've only previously had a single item on a script, but it does seems a tad excessive, given that scroungers and layabouts get it for free while I have to stump up over £7 every time the doctor adds a line to the script. Even my autistic son still has to pay for his prescription because DLA isn't an enabling benefit for free ones.

To my (now admittedly slightly flawed) mind, there's something wrong with telling someone they'll be on medication for the rest of their lives and then charging them for it.

Big thanks to the NHS team here in Portsmouth and Havant and for anyone in the locality wondering, the NHS seems to be working quite well.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Lady Thatcher's Death: End of an Era.

As much as I'd like to get riled up over Margaret Thatcher's death (after all I come from "Up North" so it should essentially be in my genes to hate her), I find I'm ambivalent.

Sure, She started a train of action that ultimately ended with the collossal crash of 2008, but really there were too many people in charge between her and that crash, that took full advantage of the gravy train she had started to pin the blame totally on her.

Although I was made redundant only months after she came to power in 1979 and started turning the screws on the economy, I made full advantage of the opportunities her government laid before me.

I spent less than a week on the dole, during which I was told I couldn't continue my day release course, even though it would eventually make me employable. So I went cleaning council loos for a living: not something someone employed in electronics should be doing, but I was willing to do any job in order to service my obligations and continue to pay my rent to my Mother and pay off the HP on my shiny new moped.

I did that for two years until things got better and I left to join one of the (by then) progressive government's training schemes. A fully paid scheme run by the National Computing Centre with no restrictions, open to anyone who could past the entrance tests that trained me in computer operations and then programming. A course that provided as many weeks theoretical training as it did on-the-job work experience. It was a godsend for someone without formal qualifications like me.

I left the course and although I was again unemployed for a while, I took full advantage of the time and earned beer money employing my old electronics skills repairing and modifying CB radios, which was enjoying a huge surge in popularity at the time.

That computer course proved invaluable as it provided me a stepping stone to earning a middle-income wage which allowed me to repay the government's investment several times over. It allowed me to raise a family, buy a house and eventually become self-employed as a contractor until Labour came to power in the late nineties and killed it all.

The thing is, Thatcher for all her faults played things straight. She gave us strong medicine when it was needed but she also soothed when we needed it with low taxes. She might have cost jobs with her policies, but her policies also gave back in training schemes. If you made the most of them, if you steered yourself in the direction the government wanted the country to go, then you gained an advantage.

Her downfall may have come sooner had the Labour party not been distracted by a bloody civil war, becoming a pantomime political party. In the end it only gained power when it presented a painted marxist in the form of Tony Blair with the leftist tendencies airbrushed out that even the far left could rally behind.

As much as she was the last great statesman this country had, she was also flawed. Her eventual downfall was to believe her own hype, to become bigger than she really was. The Poll Tax was a disaster. If she had listened and compromised sooner, she may have stayed in power, but instead she stuck to her guns far past the point of reason. On that and on Europe.

In the end it cost  her her political career and ushered in the corporate-funded professional politics we have today: all spin and no substance, jam tomorrow and nothing but promises for the poor. Her policies promoted freedom, whereas today's policies feel more like a straightjacket.

Her legacy will polarise opinion about her for decades to come. For those who took advantage of the good times, she will be a God, for those who stayed shackled to the past, she with be the spawn of Satan.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Todays Benefit Changes: Destined to Fail.

Right, where do I start regarding today's benefit changes?

Well, lets just take them as a lump and examine the effect they are supposed to have on the benefits bill and the movement of people on benefits into work.

First off, the target of making savings on the benefit bill. Well, on face value, you would expect a saving, because benefits are being reduced. However, nothing in government is ever as it seems. Someone will have to administer the changes. Whenever I hear the phrase "means-tested", I what I actually see is "job-creation-scheme". The government will fail to save the money they think they will principally because the cost of administering benefits will go up.

Its possible the cost will be moved from central government to local government, but essentially there will not be the saving the government are claiming.

All that will happen is the demand for one-bedroom flats will substantially increase. I predict a lot of stories of housing associations being pressured to put inappropriate tenants in sheltered housing for the elderly, for instance. After all, that's probably the biggest sector involved in single-bedroom housing stock. Either that or canny neighbours will start to take in each others children as lodgers, with the government paying the "landlords" rent bill.

For me its all smoke and mirrors. There's still no work being done to bridge the financial gap between welfare and work. We're spending huge amounts administering the child and work tax credits systems, when we could simply raise the threshold for income tax. I still find it obscene that those on the minimum wage pay tax. The first rung of the working ladder should be tax free, which would narrow the gap between welfare and work. Taking the bottom rung out of tax will reduce or eliminate the need for tax credits and reduce the administration bill.

That's the way you begin to save real money: by removing government from the equation all together.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Cyprus: The Pantomime Continues.

The Cypriot Government continues to debate how it can avoid political suicide by getting a bailout and not stealing bank savings to pay for it.

The most likely answer is they will take the bailout and hand over up to 30 percent of bank savings accounts over. At least there's a chance that they can blame the theft on the European Polictical elite and the ECB, they can argue that they had no other choice. It wasn't our fault, it was the ECB and Germany who did it... please vote for us again.

However it could be the pantomime being played out is a way of threatening the rest of Europe. For instance, what would happen if Cyprus didn't take the bailout?

They would probably drop out of the Euro and go back to the Cypriot pound, they would then regain mastery of their financial affairs, no longer shackled to Europe and their heinous demands.

Sure, savings in Cypriot banks would effectively devalue and the risk is they may devalue by the same amount the bailout would take. But then again, it may not.

The thing is, removed from the shackles of the Euro, Cyprus would be able to plan its own recovery, free from the demands of the Euro zone.

The danger for the Euro zone is that Cyprus recovers quicker and stronger than would have been the case had it stayed in the Euro.

But we all know that will never happen because the corrupting lure of the European Political elite, all the junkets, all the showmanship, is too addictive for them to ever contemplate leaving the Euro.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Last Chance Saloon for Freedom of Speech.

Make no mistake, yesterdays "deal" between the parties to regulate press freedom is the last chance we have of keeping any semblance of free speech.

I bit melodramatic? I don't think so, because the press are the only people with the money and the power to resist political interference. If they don't grow a set in the coming weeks and tell the political elite to do one, then the next tier of free speech they'll come after is us, the bloggers. Primarily Guido, but anyone else who has the connections to get information they don't want released and the ability to post it up in a public space.

So, here's a challenge to the currently "free" press: You have a job to do, are you going to to the easy thing and capitulate, or are you going to tell the political scumbags to fuck off?

Excepting the Guardian from the argument, who are as bad as the French for surrendering.

Daylight Robbery: Icing the Iceland Effect

Yep, I'm on about Cyprus, where the government have caved in to EU demands and effectively decided the thieve a percentage of every saver's bank account. When exactly governments were given the power to help themselves to saver's bank accounts I don't know, but it's a canny way of avoiding Cyprus "doing an Iceland" and telling the government and the banks to fuck off. Just steal part of the money needed to reduce the bail out.

Hopefully there will be full blown riots in Cyprus with the Police joining the rioters as everyone will be affected by the money-grab.

The Cypriot government is on very shaky ground.

And those in power in the rest of Europe will be watching very, very closely.

If it doesn't kick off royally in Cyprus expect daylight robbery to become a common tactic of any future bailout plan.

The people of Europe should take this as a shot across the bows from the political elite. They should respond in kind.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The State of The Economy.

The current coalition government has been in power for quite a while now and as we're now on the downhill leg and running towards the next election, I feel its timely to report on how I think things are going.

I did say before the election that should the Tories win, they should come clean with the electorate about how fucked the economy was, what needed to be done to rectify it and how hard it would be.

They did neither with any clarity, certainly not in any shape or form that the man in the street could understand. Without understanding or comprehension of the situation, high levels of taxation and the withdrawal of funding for services just appears vindictive and punitive. Without the public on your side, you won't be given the room to manoeuvre the economy to a better state. It also allows any opposition to nip at your heels constantly without them having to own up to being the reason the economy is so fucked up. "Blame the Banks" doesn't cover every eventuality and becomes really boring really quickly.

So it comes to pass we've had a few years of "austerity", things are still as bad as they ever worse and now we have lost our AAA rating due to the dip back into recession.

Basically the coalition have done about as bad a job of things they ever could have. They have done better than completely fucking the economy up, but the policy they put in place relied too much on external improvements and the global economy picking up. Their reputation for fiscal fortitude is trashed, the opposition is several points ahead in the polls thanks to the various coalition own goals..... the list goes on

Before the 2009 election I said the best thing that Labour could do was to recognise the mistakes they made and apologised for them. That would take the wind right out of the Tory sails. It seems they have recognised that sorry goes a long way even when you don't mean it and have made it their strategy and have started saying they got it wrong and apologising on a number of subjects.

The thought of the country-wrecking fuckers getting back in terrifies me, but given the incompetence of the current government it looks a very, very real prospect.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Undeserved Vilification of The FSA.

Ever since the "HorseburgerGate" sage began, there has been an overwhelming desire by the media to find someone to blame. The trouble is, there hasn't been anyone because the actual culprit is not in the UK.

Todays meme has been to vilify the FSA for not picking this up. There have been several reports on how meat in the UK can be tracked from farmer to butcher and its all very interesting, but irrelevant. The Channel 4 news even went as far as to blame cuts in the FSA budget and changes in FSA procedures for the scandal.

Lets be clear in this, even without the changes in the FSA's ability to oversee the slaughter of meat in the UK the scandal would still have happened.

The fact is the meat containing Horse wasn't slaughtered here in the UK and because of that the FSA wouldn't be involved at all in the production of it. It would be the job of the local Polish authorities to ensure the standards regarding the slaughter of animals and the labelling of meat products is to EU standards. Its not for the FSA to tell the Polish authorities how to do their job, its for the Polish authorities to do their job to an agreed standard.

Once that meat has been processed in Poland, and labelled to EU standards, then it is free to cross borders between member states without hindrance.

And this is where EU standards fall down. I've already in my previous blog about the dogmatic attitude of the EU to all things and this is a case in point. EU standards assume that everything will go right and there is very little in the way of standards to cover when things go wrong.

If a problem is found, its up the local authority finding the problem to inform the FSA and if the problem is a national one  to inform the industry and to be involved in resolution of the problem.

In this case the FSA have been informed by those finding the horsemeat and have acted quite properly in establishing a regime where meat products are required to be tested within the next 7 days.

Lets be clear: it looks like no UK company has done anything wrong and have been the victims in this. They have purchased products in good faith which have all the correct markings and therefore have the correct provenance. The crime (if there is one) has been committed outside UK boundaries and outside the remit of the UK authorities.

Don't blame the producers, don't blame the FSA, blame the EU for creating a regime where small infringements to standards can net huge gains for criminals due to the huge open market and lack of checks within that market.

If you really want to know how fucked up EU rules and regulations are and how easy it is for criminals to make huge amounts of money, have a look at VAT fraud within the EU.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Huhne: A question of Character.

So finally, after protesting his innocence for a year, Huhne pleads guilty to perverting the course of justice.

Now lets get this straight: he knew for a year after being found out that he was indeed guilty of the crime, but continued to lie and say he was innocent. Not only that, but he knew that he'd broken the law for the 10 years since he actually committed the crime and still continued to serve as an MP, still took a position at the top of his party, (even tried for the leadership), still took a position in the coalition.

I'd say that brings into question the character of the man: someone who is able to lie consistently for the best part of a decade should not be in government. Someone who is able to have that in his past and still carry on as normal to me shows some sort of character defect.

So you have to ask yourself, if he was able to lie about that, what else was he able to lie about?

It brings into question everything he has said in the past, every vote he has taken, every policy decision he has made, basically everything he has done. Do some digging and I'm sure there will be more...

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Referenda: A break-down of Democracy? Really?

I've heard a number of politicians this week referring to the referendum on EU as several things: bypassing Parliamentary democracy is one, a break-down of Parliamentary democracy is another.

In both cases there is an overwhelming assumption that Parliament has the monopoly on democracy. Apparently according to MPs, there is no other option to exercise democracy that through them.

How fucking arrogant of the entitled pricks to think that we, the people that put them where they are, can't be trusted to exercise democracy directly in a vote.

Friday, 1 February 2013

The EU Debate: What's Missing?

I just caught the last few minutes of Question Time, where they debated a question about immigration from Romania and Bulgaria.

They totally missed the point that links all the problems in the EU: the dogmatic, authoritarian political approach to everything it does.

With immigration and national borders, it dogmatically follows the course of open borders and free migration, despite the problems it causes in the real world.

With the Euro, it dogmatically presses of with the "one size fits all" currency, despite the problems that policy has wreaked across Europe. Simultaneously crippling the poorer Southern states by burdening them with untenable levels of debt and the more affluent Northern ones who have to bankroll the whole project and end up reducing their overall prosperity..

The recent Horseburger scandal is another area where the EU forces each country to accept products from another member state, where the system assumes the quality of a product from one country is the same quality as from another, despite obvious evidence to the contrary. The Horsemeat scandal is not the first, Donkey meat having been found in meat products in the past. Despite this, the EU refuses to act.

In these and other areas the EU clings to political dogma, even to the point of almost killing the beast. It would rather stick to its guns and die than admit it was wrong.

This comes to the heart of why the British inherently dislike the EU: the lack of accountability. We stand for above all things fair play and hate most of all those that play unfairly, or don't heed sound advice. We hate those that plough on regardless, those that are reckless and wanton. That is the core issue with the EU, where it continues to follow a path to the point of disaster despite a chorus of voices trying to steer them to a safer course. Just look at the patently obvious disaster that is the common fisheries policy. The waste created by discard, one of the most heinous and unfathomable policies created by the EU. Despite senior voices calling for change, despite obviously working policies being enacted by neighbouring countries, the EU continues to fritter away the natural resource of the sea.

This is what lies at the heart of the problem the British have with the EU. This is something that the EU will never change. Its about time we accept that point, move on and leave the EU, it is not for us.