Scottish referendum vote was a joy and a sorrow. Westminister can go back to smug complacency.

September 19, 2014

I  am delighted that Scotland is still part of our country.

I’m not the least bit bothered by Scot’s who curse “tha’ f**kin’  Anglish”, no more than other’s espouse similar epithets about other regions of the country.

I am severely disappointed that they missed an opportunity to destroy the power of Westminister.

Without Scottish Labour, Parliament would have been a melange of Tory, UKIP, LibDem and Northern Labour.

The chance of a EU referendum would have become a greater reality and there might even have been a chance of a North-South split and an end of HS2.

With the NO vote victory, there isn’t even a chance of Westminister relenting from its arrogance.

They won’t even take note that the reason for the high turnout  was that THEIR VOTE WAS GOING TO COUNT FOR SOMETHING.

Tonight they’ll be partying and Tomorrow they’ll be back to the pretence of being enemies of each other, jockeying for seats on the Euro-gravy Train and looking for sinecures from Health Companies and other privateers.

The Coronation was made more joyous as it marked the dawn of a new age with a Welfare State and freedom from Doctor’s fees

September 19, 2014

I wrote the following letter to the Daily Express (18/8/14) to highlight the effect of The creation of the Welfare State on an impoverished population.

They presented it as a working class Tory.

Original:

I was only six, in 1953, but I was sufficiently aware of the world around me to appreciate why the Coronation was such a joyous thing.
It’s hard to recall how drab life was in those days, or how much deprivation we endured.
My family had just had electricity installed, the first in our street.
Few rooms had the new electric lamps and I still used a paraffin lamp to see my way to bed.
There was hardly any colour, anywhere.
People are drowned in colour today.
Toy shops epitomise the difference with their signs being made of multi coloured plastics.
Toy shops in 1953 had brown, wooden signboards with their names picked out in Gold Leaf (dulled Brass leaf).
Toys were wooden in red, green and white, or wind-up tincan cars fom Germany.
The only plastic we saw was the black bakelite of the phone in the red phonebox at the end of the next street, or the brown speckled bakelite of the Wireless, imported from America.
We actually had the first TV in our street with an i-Pad sized Black and White screen, inside a suitcase sized cabinet.
We and some of our neighbours watched the Coronation on that.
I was later invited, by a friend’s mum, to watch the Coloured Newsreel of The Coronation at the Cinema. A six-year old would not have watched that if it hadn’t been in colour and therefore a wonderful experience.
We were desperate for colour: the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was met by queue’s, stretching around the block, with people waiting through whole viewing’s to ensure a seat.
Kerbstone’s in every street were painted alternately red, white and blue to celebrate any National event.
All streets were decorated with bunting.
On Empire day, we decorated our bikes and trikes with red, white and blue.
Christmas and bonfire night were seriously important chances for colour, with the making of Xmas decorations being the main activity, leading up to Xmas.
 
We had just come out of a war and its aftermath was omnipresent.
There was no shortage of firewood for bonfire night, as there were still remnants of bombed houses to scavenge. There were four houses and half a church within sight of my own doorstep, although we were miles away from the dockyards.
My blanket was Dad’s army Greatcoat.
We still had rationing coupons and, although I don’t recall powdered eggs, we still survived on mainly bread. Sugar was off ration and sweets were not a problem, although their bright colours were probably due to additives banned today.
We had no refrigerators yet. Dried fish, condensed milk etc. were still necessary. “Best by dates” did not exist. If you found you could keep it down, you added it to your diet.
Dad’s Xmas club at work ensured that we had a chicken for Xmas dinner, If Dad was lucky he drew a big one, in the raffle, and it lasted into Boxing Day.
 
My parents’ generation had emerged from a life of despair into a world where friends and relatives were not being regularly killed.
I was too young to be directly aware of this but almost everyone I met had lost someone.
Soldiers returned from War with physical damage were plentiful and this had its effect on those around me, which I didn’t fully comprehend until year’s later.
I hadn’t lived through the dire pre-war years but I absorbed the exhiliration of the older generation facing the birth of The Welfare State. I was born at home, before hospital births for all, and survived being strangled by the cord (I was told).
It was years before the old “can’t afford a doctor” remedies disappeared and people stopped apologising for taking up the doctor’s time, but it must have been a great comfort to my parents’ generation to know that they no longer had to weigh up whether, or not, to call out the doctor, when we children were sick.
As someone who survived The Asian flu, I’m aware how lucky I was and how unlucky I might have been without The NHS.
 
Things had been very bad, were still bad but the future looked bright, especially with a beautiful young Queen promising a new Elizabethan Age, with our British Empire’s prestige stamped by the conquest of Everest.
published version:
Reading your Commemorative edition to mark the Queen’s Coronation (September 18) brought back memories for me.
I was only six, in 1953, but I was sufficiently aware of the world around me to appreciate why the Coronation was such a joyous thing.
It’s hard to recall how drab life was in those days, or how much deprivation we endured.
My family had the first TV in our street with an i-Pad sized Black and White screen, inside a suitcase sized cabinet. We watched the Coronation on that. Later at the Cinema I watched the Colour Newsreel of The event. I would not have wanted to watched it if it hadn’t been in colour
Things were bad in those days  but the future looked bright, especially with a beautiful young Queen promising a new Elizabethan Age, with our British Empire’s prestige stamped by the conquest of Everest.

@38Degrees_vol @UkLabour. How will a tax rise help protect the #NHS, once it’s gone?

September 17, 2014

I’ve had an e-mail from 38degrees.org.uk asking me to sign a petition to tell Ed Balls to put a 1p on tax.
It’s almost as if they were acting on behalf of Labour to raise support for raising taxes.

It would be a good propaganda move to set up a puppet protest group to mould popular opinion.

Much better than perverting an effective protest campaign into one chasing less worrying campaigns (Occupy seems to have dropped privatisation issues for anti-fracking and climate change).

Certainly better than besmirching them.

E.g. CND were all alleged to be KGB stooges and Greenham Common was alleged to be full of stinky, bull dykes.

This was my e-mail back to them:

what does a 1p tax rise mean?
Will it just go straight into share dividends?
This is too simplistic and doesn’t address the real problem— privatisation

#NHS needs to remain free at point of delivery, especially as it’s being privatised

September 17, 2014

Peter Hill is a columnist in the Daily Express. He seems to be their token Grumpy old man, so I often agree with him. It , therefore, annoys me even more, when it looks as if he’s been fed a propaganda piece, disguised to look as if he originated it. the letter, below, was my response to his call to charge people who fail to keep NHS appointments.

Dear Sir,
Whilst I frequently agree with your view on topics, I was disapppointed to read you picking up the argument made by those who wish to claim that the customer is always wrong.
At present the NHS is free at the point of delivery and there will be some, who abuse the appointment system ( what %age, not including unavoidably missed appointments and fictitious misses) but I don’t believe you’ve thought this through. I suspect, rather, that someone has whispered this in your ear and it sounded like a good space filler for your column.First. Why have appointments?
If a restaurant is very popular then an appointments system makes sense, it saves people being turned away at the door.
For the NHS this should not apply. We never used to make doctor appointments. We turned up, put our name down at reception and waited our turn. If the Surgery was constantly over-crowded, then the G.P. would get another partner. etc.
The point is that it’s the appointment system which creates wasted time.
Second. You are no doubt aware that the NHS is being privatised and sold off, mainly to US Health”care” companies. You are no doubt aware that various local facilities are being closed down and services being re-located to more distant “Centres of Excellence”.
Consider one instance, which applied to myself. An appointment was made for me to be examined with a view to a serious surgical procedure.
The appointment was for 9:00 a.m. at a hospital 20 miles away and far from a main route.
The only way in which I could get there on time, was to drive my wife to work (she’d have an hour wait), then drive to the hospital, find a parking space and locate the correct section of the hospital. We did a dry run, so I wouldn’t waste time finding my way. On the actual day, my wife was able to accompany me, which was a boon, as we were on a main arterial road, which had an accident causing a 1 hour delay.
My wife was able to phone and explain the situation, which had also affected many of their staff.
My wife dropped me at the door and drove off to find some expensive parking.
After a half hour in the waiting room and a 20 minute chat, I was free to leave.
This sorry saga was bad enough but it was free at point of delivery, I had only been 10 mins late and my wife and myself were the only one’s inconvenienced.
Imagine your scenario with a privatised Health Service.
Would the fines stop at £5?
Would there have been any chance of applying some respect for circumstances?
Instead of calling for more ways to fleece the sick (your own paper is running an unsuccessful campaign against ever-rising hospital parking charges), you should be campaigning for a more intelligent delivery of services and greater restraint on gouging the public.

Theresa May arrogance over State Pension shows why Scotland will vote “Yes” (unless it’s rigged)

September 15, 2014
Posted to Daily Express (15/9/14)
It really is too much, for people such as Theresa May and those representing the Pension Advisory Service to berate low paid member’s of the Public.
To ask voter’s if they would be content to try and survive on £20 a day, as Theresa May did, is effectively sneering at the people, whose lives she helps to manipulate.
The very reason for introducing a State Pension was that the majority of people could not hold onto enough money to secure a pension.
It was bad enough in the days of “The Company Store”, before Government et al were able to go on-line to examine your small change and your spending patterns.
With the constant push to increase inescapable utility bills and fixed taxes up to their maximum extractable, it has become ever harder for anyone, who tries to put a ha’penny aside, for that rainy day.
(Theresa May’s contempt is that of the lady, in the Grand carriage, for those sheltering from the rain, under an old newspaper.)
Government can not just abrogate it’s duty to shelter all those under its protection, whilst legislating better protection for battery farmed hens and guaranteeing a %age of GDP for foreign aid.
We need an adequate State pension for everyone, including the feckless and the indolent of this country.
If justice demands that some deserve a better reward for a lifetime of drudgery, then there needs to be a means of putting money aside, at which Politicians and other footpads can only cast a covetous eye.
Some sort of personal Swiss bank account, which can not be taken into account, when assessing a person’s ability to pay for medical treatment, or to claim sick pay, might help many.
There will still be those who are being bounced from one one temporary, part-time job to another, who will not be able to maintain a private pension fund, or keep track of company pension schemes.
Such people would, I think, have to rely on a Gov’t based bonus scheme related to credits for hours worked, or taxes paid, although such a scheme would be wide open to political depredation.

@David_Cameron @Ed_Miliband .Honest Andy is a Glove #NHS

September 15, 2014
Posted to Daily Express  15/9/14
Andy Burnham’s call for the NHS to be exempted from the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is disingenuous at best and almost Clegg-like in its intended duplicity.
The Labour Party, under Ed Miliband and his inner clique of advisor’s, is committed to membership of the EU.
The EU is committed to signing upto the TTIP, which will be in place before Cameron’s illusory 2017 EU Referendum.
Once this treaty is in place (which by itself should be triggering a Referendum), there will be no way back for the NHS and Burnham must know this.
Part of this new treaty will create a judicial body, which will arbitrate on any Government legislation, which the Multi-nationals object to.
E.g. The present Government is brokering a deal to hand over controls of much of the NHS to an American organisation, which will presumably be expecting to make a good profit.
If Andy Burnham were able to persuade his boss to end this contract, they would likely sue for loss of earnings, despite any faux exemption, and win.
The likelihood of Ed Miliband acceding to such effrontery from one of his shadow cabinet, is no more likely than that Labour will make any mention of EU membership in the coming election campaign.

The EU directive forcing lower wattage devices will mean a bigger carbon footprint, long term.

September 9, 2014
In California, they introduced severe anti-pollution legislation, for cars.
This forced manufacturers to reduce their exhaust emissions, ending the unhealthy smogs that be-devilled their major cities.
This was a great victory for Green activism, which other’s have constantly striven to emulate.
The EU’s directive on vacuum cleaner power sizes is a poor cousin of this triumph, which is unlikely to achieve the desired effect of keeping homes clean and reducing the need for fossil fuels (an admission that we will remain reliant on them, until alternative forms of energy can synchronise supply with demand).
The nature of vacuum cleaner design is such that effective, lower power devices will rapidly wear, losing effectiveness and requiring more frequent replacement (greater waste implied).
This view has as much evidential support as the proposed legislation and, so, is open to dispute.
The case for reducing the power of kettles is, however, a complete nonsense and must be a misrepresentation of EU intent.
A fixed amount of water requires a fixed amount of heat energy to boil. As the electrical energy for a kettle is intended solely to heat the water, the only way to waste energy is by heat escaping into the room.
A low power input would mean that it would take longer (Power = energy per second) to boil the water, meaning that more heat will escape into the room.
[Rate of loss of heat depends on temperature difference (kettle v room) and intervening insulation.]
Creating kettles with sufficient insulation to offset the extra time required would mean such devices would be too bulky for most purposes.
The need to prevent explosions through a build-up of steam pressure would require materials with the strength of metal, further increasing structural costs etc.
People will find it easier to return to old style gas kettles, or use pans to boil water.
This pandering legislation will be circumvented and cause the greater waste of time and energy that the electric kettle was invented to overcome.

I’d vote against Scottish independence, unless I was a Scot. Who wouldn’t want to be free of Westminister?

September 9, 2014
These are emails I sent to the Daily Express
Sent 9/9/14
Alas! I do not believe that I have even a trace of Scottish DNA but I was brought up thinking of Scots as kin and I will feel sad to see the YES vote win.
On the other hand, having followed the debates, listened to Mr. Salmond and having observed the same forms of opposition as have been displayed over an EU refendum, I can see how, if I were entitled to vote, I would vote “yes”.
There may be a large number of Scots, who feel their historical treatment as a personal attack but I think a large and important part of the vote will be a wish to be free of Westminster and its combination of Marie Antoinette and Goebbels style view of people management.
Sent 3/9/14
As much as I like the idea of a United Kingdom, I wonder if it will really harm The England, to which I belong.
I got used to the idea of celebrating Commonwealth Day, instead of Empire Day.
I got used to the idea of being a part of Europe, instead of The Commonwealth.
I got used to the idea of devolution and seeing road signs duplicated in a foreign language (Welsh), within a short drive of my home.
Frankly I can’t see why I am expected to be exercised over Scottish independence.
I can only see positive aspects:
The end of Scots needing to hate us. (The Welsh seem less antagonistic, now  they can cast blame on their own Parliament)
A possible devolution of Northern Ireland (mainly Scots émigré’s).
The re-evaluation of the burden of paying for Trident.
The re-evaluation of Westminster prestige, usually represented as “Britain’s Place on The World Stage”.
A possible re-evaluation of the situation of The Viking descended North, ruled over by the Saxon descended South.
It seems that, actually, Scottish devolution may only be a problem for those scurrying around the corridor’s of Westminster.
Why should I be worried?

no more pension theft, Clegg. It’s not your bloody money.

September 9, 2014

Published in Daily Express (9/9/14), original below it:

Clegg’s plan to raid ‘rich’ pensioners sure to backfire
THE proposal to take money from `rich’ pensioners’ pensions to help fund bus passes for the young is appalling and amazing (“Clegg: Cut benefits of better-off pensioners”,September 8).  Set aside how he thinks that will gain his party any say in policy after the next election. He obviously views the miserly pension as government largesse.
What politician would dream of capping private pensions at the level needed by his fantasy?
It seems because pension money is paid into the Treasury, as opposed to some finance house, Mr Clegg feels it is there to dip into for any purpose or plan he fancies.
I have paid enough tax in my life to have earned a far better state pension than the one grudgingly paid now. I object that my wife and many like her will have six years of her pension stolen and will have to work longer to make that up.
I guess that I should be used to such attitudes from politicians but can one ever get used to being mugged and feeling powerless to prevent it?

Original, sent

Nick Clegg’s proposal to take money from rich pensioner’s state pensions to fund bus passes for the young is both appalling and amazing.
Set aside the obvious puzzle of how he thinks that, despite past duplicity, the Lib Dems will gain any say in policy after the next General Election.
Set aside the shallowness of thought shown by the vagueness in his proposal.
Rich pensioner’s; how rich? Young bus passenger’s; how young? How much will it cost to collect and distribute these funds?
This man is not an intellectual giant. He’s not worthy of even the pay of a backbencher (prior to a 10% payrise).
The worst part is that he sees the niggardly State Pension as Government largesse.
What politician would dream of capping private pensions at the level which would be needed by his fantasy?
Yet, because State pension money has been paid into the Treasury, rather than into some Finance House, he feels it belongs to the political classes to dip into, to fund their election campaigns and their own pet vanities.
I have paid enough in tax, during my lifetime, to have earned a better State Pension than the one being grudgingly paid. I object that my wife will have six years of her pension stolen and may possibly die younger fthrough having to work longer.
I should be used to this attitude from politician’s and their deceit’s, as they raid pension’s but can one ever get used to being mugged and feeling powerless to prevent it.

EU finances look to be buggered, @UKIP

September 5, 2014

This piece from fullermoney reminds me of the story about the lodger, who makes free with the daughter of the house. H awakes to find a large rock on his chest. He chucks it out of the window the realises that there is a rope attached to a tender part of his anatomy.

The rock is the Eurozone and the rope is our EU membership.

I’m waiting for the rope to tighten.

 

What the ECB Moves Mean for the World

Here is the opening from this informative column by Mohamed A El-Erian for Bloomberg:

In announcing a new round of extraordinary measures to support the euro-area recovery, the European Central Bank is sending three loud and unambiguous messages. Their implications extend well beyond Europe.

First, it is committed to experimenting even more with its use of unconventional monetary policy, including by taking the deposit rate even more negative and starting a program to purchase asset-backed securities.

Second, it is positioning itself for full-scale quantitative easing — but on the condition that European governments show more flexibility on fiscal policy and put into place the structural reforms needed to support healthy growth.

Third, it isn’t too worried about a multitrack world of central banking, in which its policy loosening contrasts with moves by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the other systemically important central bank, to remove monetary stimulus.

The ECB’s moves come in the context of legitimate concerns about the momentum of Europe’s already-sluggish economic recovery. They are part of a broader policy framework with four main elements:

  1. Force down bond yields and interest rates, hoping that this supports jobs and growth by restoring proper credit flow throughout the monetary union.
  2. If this doesn’t work fast enough, repeat with more aggressive use of bond purchases, hoping also to promote export growth by weakening the currency.
  3. Pressure governments, both privately and publicly, to implement much-needed measures to promote growth and avert deflation.
  4. In all this, hope that the costs and risks of experimental monetary policies don’t overwhelm their benefits.

The success of the ECB’s strategy, and its impact on the rest of the world, depend heavily on the extent to which European governments do their part. And the longer these governments dither, the greater the risks.

David Fuller’s view

This is clearly a big monetary stimulus and Mario Draghi was considerably more outspoken in calling on EU governments to introduce policies which encourage GDP growth.  They have long heard this from every sensible financial commentator, to no effect, so how will they respond to Mr Draghi?  Favourably, I hope, although I would not bet on it.  Germany has yet to indicate that it will move away from its stance on euro-zone austerity.


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